Pairing: Sirius/Remus, obviously.
Warnings: DARK, twisted, confusing, Sirius's POV. A semi-sequel to Furor
Disclaimer: Whilst I solemnly swear that I am up to no good with these characters, I'll give them back to Ms Rowling when I'm done.
For: Darling figliaperduta - good luck with your exams! (And sorry, this was all I could come up with. *Sniffles*)
‘Was it so hard, Achilles,
So very hard to die?
Thou knowest, and I know not;
So much the happier am I.
I will go back this morning
From Imbros o'er the sea.
Stand in the trench, Achilles,
Flame-capped, and shout for me.’
-‘Achilles in the Trench’ – Patrick Shaw-Stewart
Once I was sane, I suppose. I must have been, to have friends, to get on at school – to live with Remus. Now, however, I can assure even myself that I am quite, quite insane. It’s a fact of life – one must be philosophical about things like this, I suppose. Even mother, tyrant that she was, ended her days as a shrieking harpy of vicious madness. It must be in the genes. The ‘Black Madness’.
Or maybe just black despair.
Forgive me, my consciousness always wanders like this – it’s a terrible fault of mine, and one that used to drive my teachers to distraction. The purpose of this record isn’t to drivel about my life, but to leave behind a lasting testament to what Dementors do to you. One of the healers who regularly visits Azkaban asked me to do this for him. I suppose it’s meant to help convince the Ministry that it is unethical to imprison people like this. Won’t work, of course. The Ministry is a machine made up of ‘old men talking and young men dying’. Famous quote from a muggle war – can’t remember which one.
So, anyway, Aaron. He asked me to write this thing, and that’s what I’ll do. I suppose I do owe him a favour – he did bandage me up after I tried to slit my wrists on a rusty hook a couple of months back. Not a pleasant experience, I must confess. Besides, I suppose it’s a little like a life debt; my words will be splashed across newspapers for weeks to come and in return for this, he saved my life.
Shame about my sanity.
I think to give you a little insight into my mind, I’ll explain a particularly enchanting scene that occurred recently…
I am sitting in my cell, staring out of the window. The waves below are restless, grey and angry. They dash against the side of the little island with such force that the spray is sent a good fifteen feet into the air – even reaching where I am sitting. Shame I can’t reach out and feel it, but that shatterproof glass prevents even that small joy. I wonder, briefly, whether it would be at all possible to throw myself out into the ocean and try to imagine it:
The shock of icy water, then the sudden pressure as the sea closes over my head. The brief struggle for air, then the dreamy, floating sensation that comes with lack of oxygen. I might be beautiful again, then. Drifting through the water like a merman. My hair billowing out around me, perhaps tangling in the slimy green seaweed I occasionally spot washed up on the shore. My skin is already so pale that I look unearthly – so what would it look like to someone peering down through the waves? Translucent?
Then I’d die.
I can’t really imagine what death would be like, but I’m certain that were it a sweet, welcoming nothingness, I’d go to it without hesitation. But would I? Perhaps, after all, I am a coward. I have certainly had ample opportunity to kill myself, yet here I am. Still alive. Still surviving. Maybe the struggle for survival still burns in me, despite my complete and utter disinterest in life.
It’s odd. I never imagined Azkaban to leave me so hollow, so empty. I imagined that at least I would always feel terror and pain. But no – it is as though I have nothing inside. I am a shell – nothing is left inside me, not even spark of defiance to prove I still live. Maybe I am dead then. Maybe this is what death really is. Maybe not. I will have to die one day and find out what truly happens.
As I sit and ponder these things, I am aware at the back of my mind of light footsteps coming down the corridor. There are at least two sets of feet walking, maybe three, and I am unsurprised when they stop outside my door. I’m the only one who gets visitors.
To be more specific, a visitor.
The door swings open and I note with a genuine lack of interest that Aaron is standing there. His pale face is made all the more startling by his shock of red hair and green eyes. He always has an air of preoccupation surrounding him, and a generally bemused expression. I would be amused, if I could, but instead I merely raise an eyebrow then turn my gaze to the person standing behind him.
Of course. Who else? I feel an ache beneath my breastbone, but can’t decide whether it is happiness or bitter resentment. Remus, who is free to come and go as he wants. Remus, who is the bane of my life and my only reason for existing. Remus, who is agony and ecstasy and who I am unable to read. Remus, Remus, Remus. His presence burns into me, fills me, until he is the only think I can think of. He is a drug – of that I’m certain, and I stand up, gracefully, suddenly, sparking a hint of fear in those golden eyes.
That fear courses through me deliciously. It is like food after a long fast and I crave it. I can’t explain it, it is simply the one thing that keeps me from realising that I really am dead, with no emotions.
He looks up at me, expression…
Intent. “I know something’s wrong, Padfoot,” he said. “Don’t try to deny it. You and James have been huddled together in a corner for three days now, looking so serious that I know it isn’t another prank you’re planning.”
“What makes you so certain?” I grinned, feeling a fizz of pleasure because Remus has been paying attention to me enough to now that’s something’s wrong. “Maybe it’s just something top secret. Maybe I’m just helping him finally win Evans over.”
“Hardly.” He snorts and folds his arms. “You hate Lily nearly as much as she hates James. You’d never agree to help pair them up.”
“True,” I nodded, then fell silent, deliberately ignoring his pleading expression.
“Sirius,” he snapped angrily, “what’s wrong?”
“Sirius? What’s wrong?” Aaron is staring at me, a worried frown gracing his features and I blink several times, swallowing rapidly as Remus regards me coldly, cruelly.
“Nothing.” My voice is still low, smooth, pleasant. I suppose eventually I’ll sound like an old crow, thanks to the Dementors. “Nothing. I’m fine.”
Aaron shrugs and exits the cell without another word. I know he knows about Remus and I, and I also know he knows I know that he knows. My mind circles around this complex thought for a moment before pausing, balking and fleeing back to the relative safety of contemplating Remus.
He’s watching me. Inevitable, I suppose, since I’m the reason he’s here. His expression is wary, but closed. Remus. He’s such an enigma – always has been, always will be. I suppose it’s just possible I might be able to summon the energy one day to try and solve him. It seems that Azkaban has merely enhanced the worst aspects of my character. I’m lazier now than I ever was before and lethargy has led me to believe there is little point in anything.
As I turn away, I can already see him out of the corner of my eye, moving towards me. I brace myself as his hands grab my shoulders, roughly. The heat of his palms burns through my robes, sending heat flying to my cheeks. Suddenly I can feel again. I can feel Remus staring at me, his teeth bared in a silent snarl, his eyes suddenly furious and not quite sane. He is like me, I think suddenly. He understands. Sanity is not an option. Not for us. Not here. Not now.
“Sirius,” he hisses. “How –
Could you?” Remus stared at me as though I were an utter stranger.
“I didn’t mean to.” My own voice sounded weak, pathetic, even to my ears. “It was an accident. It just…slipped out.”
“Oh,” his voice dripped with venom. “Something like that just ‘slips out’, does it?” He turned away, disgusted, and his physical rejection hit me harder than a blow. “Don’t be ridiculous. You did it deliberately. Don’t lie to me – not again.”
“Remus, I swear – ”
“Just shut up, Sirius,” he spat, stalking off. “And don’t come near me again.”
“Leave me alone Sirius! If you don’t let go of me, I’m going to –
hit you.” Remus finishes, and as I stare at him, stupidly, his hand comes around, cracking across my cheek with enough force to send me reeling. Heat flares in my face, a slow, burning ache that sparks out from where he has hit me, and I raise one stunned hand, half disbelieving. It proves something to me, though. I am alive. I must be, to feel this pain – it is delicious, coursing through my veins like icy wine and I can almost taste it at the back of my throat.
I stare at Remus for a moment, blood dribbling from my lip where he has split it with one sharp nail that raked across my face with his blow.
Then I begin to laugh.
I can see the disgust in his eyes. ‘Quite mad,’ he’s thinking. ‘Why did I never see this to begin with?’ The answer is simple. I have never shown anyone the side of me that whispers dark things in the dead of night. I’ve kept hidden ‘Black’ and remained Sirius. To my friends, that was all I ever was. But I was also the last in a long line of mad ancestors – purebloods obsessed with the concept of light and dark, good and evil. I am the night – I must have a balance, for without it, I would go quite mad.
Remus was, of course, my balance until I was sent here.
Wiping the blood from my face, I look up at him from under long dark strands of hair. I know I must look wild, fey – insane and horribly attractive despite my incarceration.
“Do you want to kill me still, Remus?” My voice is a whisper in the deadened air. “You’re pathetic. You couldn’t do it last time, or the time before. You’re just playing the same twisted scenario over and over and over. Why not give it up? It’s getting you nowhere.” As I talk, I am slowly stepping backwards as Remus inches forwards.
This is a game we play – him and I. Despite his protestations to the contrary, Remus is very much ruled by the animal instinct that lurks inside him and he loves a show of submissiveness. It is something I often use to my advantage. I am a puppeteer, if you will. I know exactly what buttons to push, what to do to get him to react in certain ways. Soon, he will becomes exasperated by this dance and pounce.
He growls, low in his throat. A warning. Stop moving.
I laugh, twist away from him as he lunges and watch as he turns, furious.
“I hate you,” he whispers. His hatred is like a drug to me. Another of my little quirks – I am obsessed with owning his hatred. It is the only part of him that is solely mine anymore. I hold his hatred forever and because of that, I hold his interest. Hate works both ways – he needs me. He needs someone other than himself to blame.
I’m cruel, manipulative.
He snarls, lunges again. This time almost too fast to see, and before I know it, he’s gripping my wrist, forcing my arm behind my back, savagely twisting it and I almost moan at the sheer delight of feeling pain again, because even this is better than the aching nothingness of which I am accustomed to.
“I hate you,” he whispers, mouth kiss-close to my own. “I hateyouhateyouhateyou –
loveyouloveyouloveyou,” Remus whispered, kissing me over and over. Softly, delicately. “I’d die without you.”
I laughed, delighted at the need in his voice, drunk on the idea of love as opposed to actually being in love. “Gods above I need you,” I muttered, running fingertips lightly across his lips in a deliberately tender gesture.
He looked up at me, hesitating, uncertain. “But what about –”
“The wolf?” I laughed. “Don’t worry. I’ll always love you. You’ll never lose me, one way or another.”
He sighed, resigned. “Just be –
Careful, Sirius.” He snarls, releasing my arm, watching with faint satisfaction as I nurse it to my chest – playing the victim. “One day you’re going to provoke me beyond all reason. I wonder if you really want to die or if this is yet another act.”
I look at him out of cold grey eyes, aware that Aaron has returned with his medical bag. “I wonder,” I say with slow, deliberate venom, “if you actually hate me.” I smile, briefly – a quick curl of the lip, really – at the sudden hitch in his breath, and I laugh, cruelly as he turns on his heel, marching out of the room.
That is my life. My existence. I cannot describe beyond that, what it is that drives me in this place. Aaron, I hope you appreciate these ill-assorted ramblings and flashbacks, for I can provide no better example, and as one of the last coherent men left, you were lucky to get this much from a prisoner of Azkaban.
One final thing.
I dreamt, last night, that Remus had returned again to my cell. This time he carried no wand and no guards were with him. I was lying asleep on my bed, and when I opened my eyes, he was simply standing there above me. Smiling, he leant over to kiss me and it wasn’t harsh and cruel – it was loving. The bitter sweetness of it brought tears to my eyes, until, suddenly, a sharp pain blossomed in my chest.
I realised he had stabbed me, but as I stared at him, I saw his eyes were filled only with love.
“I wanted to set you free,” he whispered. “I hate you so much that I love you.”
I wonder if he really does love me? Ironic, if that is the case.
For I have to hate him to survive.