Title: Goodbye Brother Rating: PG-13 Pairing: Remus Lupin/Sirius Black Summary: They wander between who they were and who they will be. Word count: 748 Disclaimer: Not mine. Prompt: penance/punishment
They know each other and not at all. There are moments when Remus is certain that nothing has changed between them, because Sirius is the only one who really knows him. He has become a shade of himself and is haunted by his own past. It’s why he left England in the first place. He kept running up against who he used to be and finally couldn’t stand it anymore. He’d run away to France and had been dragged back only when his past had refused to be ignored anymore.
Sirius doesn’t know about any of that. Sirius still sees him as seventeen. In spurts, Sirius remembers pranks they pulled. He’ll start laughing without cause and then retell the whole story to him. He calls him Moony without thinking about it. Remus wants to be seventeen again. He wants to be that boy that pulled those pranks, unaware of where the world was going to take all of them. Sirius is the only one who can still see that part of him.
But at the same time, it can’t be ignored that years have passed between them. There is a chasm of time that neither of them want to acknowledge, but neither of them can ignore. It’s written all over them. Remus can still count Sirius’ ribs and Sirius still wears his hair too long. He flinches away from scissors and razors. Remus' temples have gone completely grey, making him look years older than he is. He can scarcely walk after some fulls. His body has more scars than unmarred skin. Sirius traces them with tentative fingers, but he doesn’t know where most of them came from anymore.
Some days they wander around each other. They don’t know what to say to each other. They don’t know how to be friends in the present because they scarce know themselves now. Sometimes they can go days without speaking before Sirius suddenly has another story, transporting them back into who they were.
When Sirius had first arrived, he had been reluctant to become himself, to leave Padfoot’s form. It was easier, Remus knew. Padfoot’s emotions were simple, and Sirius is too used to feeling nothing at all. At first, when he’s not Padfoot, all he can do is cry, and all Remus can do is hold him, not knowing how to tell him that everything will be okay. He cries about James, and he cries about Lily, and he asks how he can ever make anything up to Harry. And Remus doesn’t know, because he scarcely knows how to act around Harry. He knows that what happened last year, everything he did to try and help Harry, can’t make up for all the years that none of them were there.
Sirius sleeps in his bed because he can’t bear sleeping on his own. At first, he sleeps even as Padfoot. But then, Remus starts to wake in the middle of the night and finds that he’s resumed his regular shape. They curl up together in Remus’ too-small bed with his too-thin sheets and find solace in each other.
Sirius’ touch is still tentative. He presses his fingers against Remus’ shoulder blades, following the curve of them. He places his palm over Remus’ chest in order to find his heartbeat. He lets his hands journey over the arch of Remus’ hips. It’s more as if he’s trying to remember how to touch rather than anything about them. Remus is still the entire while, because he watches Sirius. Watches the curiosity that blossoms in his gaze; it feels somewhat like hope.
He wakes up one night, surprised to feel the imprint of Sirius’ lips against his shoulder. He has never touched with anything besides his hands before. It takes Remus another moment to realize that Sirius is quietly mouthing words. He can scarcely hear them.
Moony, Moony, I’m so sorry. All my fault. None of it would have happened if I had just—needed to trust you. Should have trusted you. Needed—I was scared. I was scared. Moony.
Remus turns over and he can see the brief fear that lights up Sirius’ eyes when Sirius realizes that he’s awake. Remus winds his arm around Sirius, pulling them close, closer than they’ve been before. He presses a kiss against Sirius’ shoulder in return, not knowing how to say that Sirius was forgiven long ago, that he’s already paid all the price that he needs to.