Author: hikaru / _regarde
Archive: Please ask permission.
Feedback: If you so desire.
Warnings: Character death, angst, first-person writing.
Pairings: Remus/Sirius; Remus/Bill
Disclaimer: They're all J. K. Rowling's, and I've got the feeling that she'd have my head for this.
Summary: Excerpts from the journal of Remus Lupin. Grief -- and relief -- come in many colours.
Notes: This was part of the Remus Remix on livejournal, based on a drabble by Casira, which can also be found here. I've taken some liberties with OotP, assigning dates to certain events, as JKR gave us absolutely nothing concrete to work on as far as dates are concerned. I started writing this on scraps of papers at work, which is perhaps why it came out as a journal. The title is from William Wordsworth's "To Sleep," and therefore is indicative of his creativity rather than mine. Thanks to Amber and Circe, who read this over and told me that it didn't suck. However, I never fail to tinker with things, therefore all the little errors are my fault.
His scent lingered on the pillow after he'd gone.
Remus curled close, breathing him in -- his tangy sweat overlaid with his own, and dulled by the mustiness of the house that oppressed him, made him charge out heedlessly at the end. Remus tried to ignore that, to smell and taste and remember Sirius, but he could only see the shadowed hollows left behind.
When the sheets were changed, he couldn't sleep.
Weeks passed until there was another smell -- spicy, dry, like wind through long sands -- and mingled sweat again, only half-known, and bittersweet. Remus traced the mattress' unfamiliar indentations and sighed.
But when Bill settled back into them and kissed him, there was sun in the room again -- and maybe it wasn't sleep but waking that Remus wanted.
9 June 1996
He's so very agitated today. Stormed around the house all day long, slamming doors and windows, tossing out his mother's rubbish with some sort of spiteful glee. He woke her portrait up twenty-seven times already, so she has been screaming and raving continuously since before breakfast.
I really wish he wouldn't get like this.
12 June 1996
Dinner was wretched tonight. Before his typical pre-dinner exit, Severus did his best to rile Sirius up, telling him over and over again how much of a lazy wretch he is, sitting around scratching at fleas all day.
Severus got just the reaction he wanted out of Sirius, I suppose, and that reaction woke Mrs Black up. Though I doubt anyone wanted that particular reaction.
Sirius moped through all of dinner, picking sullenly at his meal, glaring at Molly whenever she asked after him. Nothing I said would comfort him, and he shut himself up in the library -- "Cleaning out that old bat's horrible books; might as well do something other than lick myself, don't you think?" -- as soon as he'd had enough of the stony silence that was our dinner.
Wretched. Not at all fun or enjoyable or relaxing, like our meals used to be. Perhaps someone ought to have words with Severus next time he comes 'round.
12 June 1996
He said nothing upon coming to bed. Merely settled into his side and pulled the covers up about his shoulders. Something's bothering him; I think Severus's words cut deeper than either of us would like to admit.
Sirius is trying, he truly is, but he just can't gain any ground. Thirteen years in Azkaban did strange things to him; that is no surprise to anyone except for Severus, it seems.
He even shied away whenever I tried to touch him, to embrace him, to pull him close so that maybe my comfort would bleed off onto him. I'm running out of ideas here. He's been like this for weeks, and it's getting to the point where I doubt that I can remember what it felt like to have him in my arms, to be wrapped up in him so completely.
He's wrapped up in himself these days, wrapped up in his contempt and anger and grief and horror and so many words and emotions that I put behind me so long ago. I think that he sometimes forgets that I too have not had an easy life, that perhaps I do understand his feelings of confinement in a house you thought you'd never see again.
Too much. Too much for me right now. I wish he were normal again. I wish we were normal again.
I can't sleep when he's like this. Only sit and stare and sigh wistfully, wishing that we could be sixteen again. Then everything would be easy, we could be carefree.
17 June 1996
I find that, no matter how much I desire to write here, to capture my thoughts, that I can't do it. Sirius is, and always will be, the only one to whom I bare my soul, and committing even those words to paper makes my very insides hurt.
But as Sirius has been increasingly distant, lost in his own thoughts, his own captivity, it seems that I'm running out of places to go.
He gets up in the mornings, long before I arise -- which is, in the first place, too early by most standards -- and I hardly see him until dinnertime, or until someone from the Order comes back with important information. It's to the point where he won't even look me in the eyes. I've told him time and again not to do anything rash, not to go out and risk himself, after all he's gained, but I know that desperate look on his face. I know he wants out of here, and he's afraid to be confronted about it.
I don't want to confront him; I just want him to be safe. We're not teenagers anymore.
18 June 1996
Another day and everything still stays the same. I asked him, this afternoon (when I found him shredding old photographs in his mother's study), if he was planning something reckless. He just glared at me and kept on ripping the visage of his mother into tiny shreds. I just shook my head -- "I love you when you're alive and with me, Sirius. Please stay that way." -- and left the room. No one will ever change Sirius. I should have remembered that from before. I thought perhaps Azkaban had shaken the rebel out of him, but I was wrong.
20 June 1996
I can never stay angry with him. Not when he touches me the way that he does. Not when he drives me wild with his fingers, tangled in my hair, scratching down my chest, tracing my scars, pumping roughly at my erection. He always knows how to make up for any times he may have slighted me. I fell asleep last night to the even sounds of his breathing, my hand rising and falling with his chest. "I promise you, Remus, I promise you, I promise you that I shan't go," he murmured as he kissed me all over. And I believe him.
21 June 1996
Something's happened. Severus has just gotten in contact with us. Urgent need for the Order at the Ministry. He Who Must Not Be Named, Harry, Hermione, others. Can't write; just waiting for Tonks to get downstairs so we can leave at once. Severus requested Sirius to stay; I've pleaded with him to do the same. Can't risk him.
Tonks ready -- must go...
22 June 1996
He's gone. Dark Lord alive for sure. Ministry in denial, of course.
He lied to me...
I can't write anymore. It hurts.
23 June 1996
I had to pull Harry away from going after Sirius. How could I hold him back when every last fibre of my being wanted to bolt through the veil after him, I'll never know.
And how can I convince Harry that he'll never be back when I am still in denial myself?
25 June 1996
Must hold self together. For the kids, for Molly and Arthur, for Albus, for me, for him. Because they expect me to, though I don't know why. I've lost my best friend. I've lost all my friends, the only people who made my childhood bearable. Everyone is asking after me, but I shan't tell anyone how much my very soul aches.
28 June 1996
Met Harry at the Station today, with Moody and Tonks and the Weasleys. Had to escort the poor boy back home to what may be the only thing keeping the Dark Lord at bay, away from him, keeping him safe. Had to bite my lip from defying the Order, defying Albus, and demanding that he stay with us, at Grimmauld. He's the only living connection that I have to Sirius now. But I didn't. Wouldn't look too well, to have me breaking down on the Platform. We already looked dodgy enough as it was.
My obligation to them is done, for now. The children are home safe, and I'm not of much use for gathering intelligence about the current... situations. Albus wants me to relax, take some time off, but where am I to go? Grimmauld is, regardless of any qualms I could have, my home now. It's surely better than the hovel I called home as a child, as an adolescent, as an adult. It is home to me because it is Sirius, it is part of him as much as it is of me, and wherever he is, I am.
Except now. He is behind the veil, he is in the Beyond, and I am still here.
I do not want to be here. It is not home anymore.
30 June 1996
I've decided that the only safe place in this house is this bedroom. It is the only place where I can feel free to grieve, and yet still feel alive. He's not been gone long enough for his presence to leave this room, and I hope it never does. Don't know what I will do if it does.
Everything still positively reeks of Sirius. The bed, the drawers, the piles of shabby clothing lingering in the corner of the room. I think that I will leave it like this, for now, for as long as I can. I don't have any other way to hold on to him.
Last night, I hugged his pillow to me, buried my face in it, breathed in the scent of Sirius, and I felt relief. I felt a break in this endless stream of grief that I seem to be caught in. I felt safe, I felt adored, I felt like I was in his arms again, and all was right in the world.
I don't know whether anyone else can smell Sirius, but I can. Perhaps it's the lycanthrope in me, perhaps it's my overwhelming love for him, but either way, this room is Sirius, and I don't want it to change. It's the smell of his very body, his sweat mingled with mine, that I breathe in, that keeps me going. I doubt that it will keep me going forever, but I can try. For now.
6 July 1996
Should I be concerned that I've not left this room for nearly a week now? I'm not, but it seems that others are.
I don't want their concern, nor their pity. Neither will bring Sirius back. Neither will keep the scent and the flavour and the impression of Sirius in this room. He's not gone, I refuse to believe it. He's still here with me, and we'll bring him back home someday. We have to, or I fear that I'll lose my mind.
9 July 1996
I think they've caught on. Caught on to the fact that I don't wish to see them. There's an endless stream of visitors at my door, and I wish them all to go away. Molly was just in, staring at me with her sad eyes. I want all of the sad eyes to stop, please. I want to be left in here forever, until everything stops turning, until these sad eyes close and he is with me again.
12 July 1996
I slept on his side of the bed tonight. Tried to burrow under the covers the way he did, tried to fill the indentations and patterns left by his body, rumples left by his gangly limbs flailing, but to no avail.
The room seems infinitely colder tonight, despite the blankets.
I can't seem to make him come to life anymore. I look at his side of the bed and try to imagine him there, next to me, and I can't do it. He is not here anymore, and all that he's left for me is the faint smell of Sirius on the sheets, and the shadowed grooves and shapes he's left behind in our bed.
I can't make him come back, I can barely smell him anymore. I can barely feel him anymore. My heart is breaking, shattering.
18 July 1996
I have no reason to write here anymore. It's all gibberish, in my head, and committing it to this parchment makes it all too apparent to me that perhaps I am losing my mind. My sleep is becoming disturbed; I awake, screaming, clutching at the sheets, sweating, crying at times. I replay his death in my head nightly -- that elegant, stunned, fatal arc through the veil; the maniacal laughter of his cousin, the murderess; the screams of Harry -- and no matter how desperately I try to change the outcome, when I wake, it is always the same. I am always alone, and cold.
23 July 1996
Molly finally did what she's been hinting at for weeks now. She barged in whilst I was writing, and very unceremoniously ripped the sheets from the bed Sirius and I shared.
My bed, now. She's made sure of that.
"It's been a month now, love," she said when she balled the sheets up in her arms, looking at me with those damnable sad eyes. She wrestled the fabric into place, folding it over her arms. "I can't have you sleeping on these dirty things anymore." She shrugged -- a parody of apology -- and turned from the room.
Were I one of her brood, she would have comforted me rather than pitied me.
Then again, were I one of hers, she would likely have taken the sheets away long ago.
Still, she's stolen the last of what was mine--his--ours. The bed doesn't call out his name anymore; but, then again, neither do I.
Can't tell which is more of a shame.
25 July 1996
Can't sleep. Nightmares still plague me, and now I have nowhere to turn, nowhere familiar to bury my face when the pain needs to stop.
27 July 1996
I can't sleep tonight. Again. Molly's fed me a few cups of Uncle So-and-so's All Purpose Sleep-Aide, and I've had at least three squares of my chocolate, yet to no avail. That stuff doesn't work on unfathomable grief, I suppose.
She doesn't believe that it's because of the sheets that I can't sleep. Said perhaps I've been thinking too much, but I don't know what else she expects me to do. She forgets that I'm just as much a prisoner of this house and its memories as Sirius ever was.
When I woke from my restless sleep, there was a knock at the door. Bill Weasley was behind it. He's been at Grimmauld for quite some time now, but I've rarely interacted with him. I've had no reason to. Anyway, he said my talking in my sleep had woken him, and asked if I needed anything. I shrugged, but he forced me downstairs to his mother and her infernal home remedies. I don't know how I woke him, but I'll be sure to put up stronger wards tonight. I don’t need more prying eyes.
31 July 1996
Another night and no relief.
They're starting to wonder at the Order meetings.
What's wrong with Remus?
Poor boy, still grieving for Sirius.
Perhaps he needs to get his head on straight and go back to being productive.
I'd recognize that last sneering voice anywhere, and I flinched as Severus spoke. I thought I was past that.
I heard their voices as I stumbled down the stairs and into the kitchen, where they ceased their chatter and stared at me mournfully, pity and sadness and perhaps anger in their eyes. Molly made that maternal clucking noise with her tongue and then cleared her throat, as if nothing had ever happened.
"Tea, Remus, before the meeting starts?"
I declined politely and took my seat at the table, awaiting Severus's weekly report on the bumbling Death Eaters, Hagrid's report on the cooperation (or lack thereof) of the giants, Albus's report on the shortage of lemon drops in this infernal house.
I found once again that it is all too much for me, so I excused myself from the meeting. Perhaps Albus was right. Perhaps I do need some time away, some time to heal.
3 August 1996
He came again to my door tonight, as I sat reading over some of Sirius's papers that he'd left in the room. That Sirius had left behind. He wouldn't say why he was there, only seemed slighted when I wouldn't invite him in. Regardless of his intentions, I shan't let him invade the space that once was Sirius's.
5 August 1996
I still only grab small snatches of sleep each night. The lack of sleep is getting ironically tiresome, and I wish for something to make this insomnia cease. No sleep-aide that I've tried has helped, and I shan't burden Severus further by asking him to create another potion for me.
7 August 1996
Again, Bill came to my room. He didn't say much, just asked if he could come in. I refused, waving my hand idly and making up some excuse about doing research for the Order.
I don't know if I can make excuses for much longer. I don't know why he wants to talk, what he wants from me, but I don't need a new friend that understands little of what I've been through. I just want sleep, and I don't think he can offer me that.
10 August 1996
And again. It was early in the morning this time, and I was sitting up, staring out the window, looking at the dreary dullness that is London.
"Remus, let me in," he called, rapping lightly at the door.
"No," I called back, "please go."
There was silence for a while, just my breathing, until the footsteps retreated.
I don't understand this. Perhaps my brain is addled, perhaps I'm delirious from lack of sleep, perhaps I'm not thinking straight, but I just don't understand.
I don't want to understand.
14 August 1996
Again he comes to my door, and again I turn him away.
"I can help you," he says, flicking a long strand of red hair over his shoulder. "Please let me stay."
As always, I decline, shaking my head solemnly. "You can't help me," I reply, as I always do. He shrugs and walks away, leaving me to my sleepless night, my unfamiliar bed, my unfamiliar life.
It becomes harder to turn him away with each night that passes.
18 August 1996
I fear that I did something very, very stupid last night.
I let Bill Weasley kiss me, and I don't feel bad about it in the least.
26 August 1996
He takes up so much of my time, and I am strangely grateful. He comes to my room every night now, and I let him in. I don't know why, but it's comforting. It shouldn't be comforting, but it’s filling some sort of hole in my heart, no matter how superficial the filling may be.
He stays the night sometimes, which is odd in a way. He sleeps in this bed, on the left side, on Molly's fresh and crisp sheets. He cleans up after himself, he doesn't leave his dirty things in the corner at night.
He's not Sirius, though. Never shall be. But his arms are strong at night, his body warm. Slowly, I find that I can sleep again, curled up next to him, my fingers tangled in long red hair, his strong hand resting on my thin hip. It is not a deep sleep, but it is sufficient for now.
4 September 1996
This morning, I woke after Bill. It was the first time in a long while that I had the room to myself in the morning, and I couldn't help but wonder what my morning routine had now transformed itself into. Everything is so unpredictable now that I simply cannot have a routine.
The room no longer smells like Sirius, although it still sighs his name from time to time, and I feel wistful, and wonder what could have been. It is an unfamiliar scent, sex and sweat that are not my own, that are new and different, and yet non-threatening. The room is sad, but not overwhelmingly so. Molly's fresh sheets, a worn checked pattern this week, reek faintly of spices and warmth and the ocean. The bed creaks under this new weight, and it is uncomfortable for a while as it tries to understand this new body that invades its space.
He came back today as I was running my fingers idly over the sheets, tracing the new hollows that his hard form left on this old mattress. He settled into the bed, forcing the sheets and the springs to recognise him as its rightful owner, and kissed me lightly, a playful smile upon his lips.
Perhaps this is the change I have needed. Perhaps Bill was sent here to bring me out of my misery, my grief, to refocus my perspective on life. I shan't complain, for I adore all that he has done for me, whether or not he knows it. The room is warm and bright, in sharp contrast to the bleak greyness that was shrouded over it (and my life as well, in retrospect), and I am alive again.
And, despite my grief, my sadness, I know that Sirius would want me to live when he could not. I am awake, refreshed.