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In The Dark



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Old July 13th, 2011, 9:27 am
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In The Dark

Keep you in the dark,
you know, they all pretend.
Keep you in the dark
and so it all began...


In The Dark

"I don't like it," James says, and crosses his arms firmly, as if the matter is clearly closed. Sirius, for once, refrains from punching him; he should've known James would have been infuriatingly stubborn about all this. Instead, he sighs through a quiet, "I didn't say you had to like it."

James unfolds his arms, and harshly pushes his chair back as he stands. "Well, I don't like it. There's nothing more for me to-"

"Look, could you just shut up and think about it?"

"I have thought about it! And the answer is no."

"You're being st-"

A horrible, strained laugh breaks through the tension: "Oh, I'm being stupid?! You're barking-forget I said that." James closes his eyes, pinches his nose with his forefinger, because the world has stopped laughing, and they really don't need to, now.

They stand in exceedingly uncomfortable silence for a while, James, in the middle of the kitchen, and Sirius leaning on the doorframe. He doesn't need to, he doesn't even know why he's doing it- perhaps it's something to always hold onto, something there.

Eventually, James hisses, "And have you even asked how Wormtail feels about this?" He shoves his hands into his pockets and soon slips into a near perfect imitation of Sirius's casual stance- complete with fingers unnecessarily running through his hair- like Sirius actually does when he's unbearably nervous. "Er, Peter, mate, sorry 'bout this but...d'you mind switching places with me? It won't be for a long time- might be even shorter, considering you could die."

Sirius feels suddenly sick, but manages a weak smile. "Get lost, Potter," he returns, with mock disdain.

James snaps out of his brief act, eyes wide. "I mean it, Sirius. And then, we've got your whole crazed idea about-"

"Don't talk about him."

"We're going to flipping have to! Moony could never, would never-"

"People can change," Sirius says softly, reluctantly, drumming his fingers on the frame's wood to distract himself. "It's a war."

James fixes him with a steely glare. "Not Remus," he replies, with absolute certainty that Sirius wishes he could share. "Are we even talking about the same person, here? Don't you remember any-"

"Yes, James, I do remember, thanks very much." Sirius's voice is cold, and he can hear a little bit of his old clipped, posh accent (all thanks to dear mother) seeping through- which usually happens in...in times like this. He expects James to pick up on it, as ever, and roll his eyes, exclaiming, "Oh, my sincere apologies, Mr Black," but, he doesn't. And it is then that Sirius realises exactly how desperate they are.

James still continues with an intensely determined air: "I don't understand where you're coming from. Do the Marauders mean nothing to you, mate? 'Cause it's starting to-"

"We were children Pro-James." And Sirius cringes inside because, God, he sounds like an adult, that wasn't supposed to happen-

"Children?! We swore-well, we left behind the Map and everything, little parts of us-and-and we said, in the Three Broomsticks...And don't look all patronising; you started it! Er-well, Remus had bought us all butterbeers first and we were worried, it was far too expensive for him to-anyway, and you said that-it was cheesy, but you were probably-er-tipsy, you said we'd always look out for each other; that's what we do...And Remus, he was, Merlin, he was probably tipsy himself, 'cause he hugged all of us, and he's Remus, and he said, "I will most likely not remember this, but, 'course, mates, 'course." We all swore, and I meant it, and Peter meant it, and Remus-"

"Stop it, James," Sirius cuts short the overwhelming tirade, staggering backwards. "Stop it."

But James's hazel eyes are flashing, now, and he steps forward. "What's the problem? Don't like hearing the truth?"

Mind buzzing with persistent words, Sirius stumbles out into the hallway again. This is scarily new and unfamiliar; James shouldn't be the one losing control, that's his job- always has been, always will be. "I'm...I'm scared, Prongs!" he shouts, voice echoing off the walls, forgetting to be embarrassed- just acting without thought.

James laughs- but it's forced, unfeeling. "Don't know what you've gotten yourself into?" he questions, "You said it yourself, mate, this is a war-"

"No!" Sirius protests loudly, and he senses movement from upstairs- Lily, no doubt putting Harry to bed. "I'm scared for you." He sees James blink in surprise from behind his glasses, leaving Sirius to flounder- even though he and James can usually read each other like very obvious books. "I don't-I don't want you to lose-" His hands gesture vaguely to the moving photographs on the mantelpiece: a flash of red hair as Lily tries to dodge the camera, grinning all the while, Harry, laughing while being lifted high into the air by Re-

Something in James's brain seems to have clicked, for he's abruptly right in front of him, and that frenzied, pent up energy seems to have vanished. If he were younger, Sirius would have no doubt have been impressed.

Slowly, calmly, James takes in the indicated photographs, smiling at some, in spite of himself. His face relaxes, and it instantly reminds Sirius of the stag he becomes in light of the moon. He's a far cry from Sirius's posture; muscles taught, ready for...what? What can possibly come next?

James raises his hand and claps Sirius's upper arm- once, twice. "I know," he murmurs, though it's mostly to himself.

Sirius waits. He shuffles from one foot to the other. He reaches up and scratches his ear. He reaches for and then clasps his wand in his jacket pocket, just in case; just to check. He longs inexplicably for Remus, for Remus to be here, or at least for Remus to figure out what he's planning, to tell him to not be such an idiot; of course he's not the spy...

"Alright," James says finally. "Alright." Every sound of every letter sounds deliberately drawn out. "But not because of Remus," he adds firmly, just as Sirius's relief shines plainly upon his face. "Just..."

However, Sirius doesn't even register what is said next; all he does is grip James's upper arm-a repeated pattern- and thinks I know you're safe. All three of you.

***

After the Charm has been cast, Sirius retires into his flat and doesn't emerge for anyone- to be on the safe side. The only time he ventures out is to visit Peter's hideout in the evenings. He barely sleeps.

That habit is soon broken-Halloween, mid afternoon, if you wanted to be precise.

Mind numbingly bored, Sirius sags into an increasingly sinking couch and picks up a book from his small, scuffed table. I've definitely lost it, he thinks wryly as he flicks through the worn, dog eared pages and then glances at the title: Treasure Island. His heart clenches painfully as he realises this is Remus's book; an old, second hand copy that he consistently packed in his suitcase at Hogwarts but, as far as Sirius could see, never read. He actually never asked Remus about it, and it strikes him sadly that he may be unable to ever ask Remus anything again.

Sirius turns back to the first page- a blank one before the story begins- and sees there, in neatly inked handwriting: To our Remus, on your sixth birthday. With love, Mummy and Daddy. It's the last thing Sirius remembers reading for he soon slips into muddled dreams of great ships sailing in the vast, uncontrollable ocean and then familiar floating pumpkins and candles of years gone by. The rest consists of muddled emotions with no proper place (fear, panic, confusion), morphing into something even more hazy: Remus is standing before him, and his face is twisted into near unrecognisable pain and Sirius whips around, to face nothing. And Remus is screaming and screaming, and Sirius tries to help him; tries to say it'll be alright, but Remus can't hear him and Sirius can't understand it; doesn't want to understand...

He jolts awake with tears on his face, which are soon angrily brushed away.

Sirius lies there for a moment, just breathing, that's all, like James was when Sirius told Peter the plan. He closes his eyes and tries to push the dream within a dream out, and instead, can only hear James's recent, pleading belief: "Moony could never, would never-"

And in that second, Sirius realises James was talking complete and utter sense and knows he was a fool for not thinking this earlier.

Seized by this gripping, fierce desire to simply let Remus know, Sirius reaches forward, letting Treasure Island fall from his lap, and grasps some parchment and a pen- he much favours them compared to quills; less fiddly, less hassle.

The letter he's writing is certainly not like the one Lily received on Harry's birthday- where everything was all so neat and careful- for fear of interception. Sirius immediately doesn't care about that, anymore. The parchment is soon busy with words- some hastily crossed out to make room for more- and it's probably full of spelling and grammar mistakes that Remus will most likely wince at.

He is beginning the last, difficult sentence, when the little, modest clock on the wall chimes and, starting, he looks up: 8:00pm.

Better go check up on old Wormtail, Sirius thinks, rising. The letter lies, forgotten, on the table.
---------------------
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The lyrics in italics at the start of the story, come from a song called The Pretender by The Foofighters. All credit goes to gelowo93 for the song suggestion.


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