The Force Of History
by Abaddon

He was pacing the hallways when Remus found him. Sirius had been there a week before hand, making a vain attempt to clean the place up before Molly marched in with her potions and sprays and charms for mildew and decay. She took one look at the decrepit building and declaimed loudly all it needed was a woman's touch -- to which Sirius snorted and told her that it had never had that, not even when his mother was alive, before storming off to the bed he'd reserved for himself and Remus.

That night when Remus curled up against him, one finger tracing lazy patterns over his left shoulder, Sirius shrugged his touch away and moved as far apart as possible as he could without falling out of bed. Neither of them got much sleep that night, to be honest.

The days passed with an unending banality, sweeping and blending into one another as if there was no distinction that matter, no point, no purpose, no end. Sirius helped Molly clean in a sullen bitter silence, and with each day his shoulders hunched over a little more, flinching when the painting let go its flood of hate and vitriol. Some nights, Sirius would let Remus curl his fingers down Sirius' back, working at the tensions with his hands and kisses against the skin. Some nights he shifted away again, shunning company and respite. They were finally back together, but they rarely spent much time together anymore except in uneasy silences and love-making was a vague memory to them both.

Sirius answered Harry's letters promptly, and sent those of his own, warning him, admonishing him, and failing to answer any of the questions Harry asked between the lines. Remus would watch Sirius at a desk in the study, curled up in a faded leather chair himself, watch as Sirius scraped out a series of replies that they both knew meant nothing. Sirius had never meant to be caged, not like him, and the torment of Azkaban had left him brittle and weak, unprepared for this new imprisonment even if it was at Dumbledore's request and due to simple logic.

Remus found him pacing in the halls one afternoon; no-one else was there, apart from Kreacher and Remus didn't count him by any definition. He watched for a little while as Sirius was seemingly content to grind down the carpet with the soles of his shoes, before Sirius finally stopped, facing away from him, shoulders slumping.

"I feel as though I'm going to die."

Immediately, Remus crossed over to him, and wrapped him in his arms, brushing his lips across the back of Sirius' neck. "Don't be stupid, you're not going to die."

"I spent so many years trying to get out of this house. And now I'm back and it hasn't changed, and have I, really? Did I ever grow up? Did I run away and just never stop?"

There was little he could say to that, to be honest. Remus buried his face against Sirius' hair and smelt the familiar scent of his body. It seemed slightly barren, though, empty. Old. Maybe Sirius had a point. Both of them were relics, of little use to anyone but each other, and even that was sometimes questionable. Oh, they had Harry to look out for, but Harry wasn't here, and neither of them could protect him in the end from the truth he had to learn. But halfway through that train of thought, Remus found his voice. "Of course you grew up. We both did."

Sirius turned in his arms, and gave him a look that Remus remembered from a time long ago. "How can you say that with such certainty?"

"I look in the mirror every morning," Remus deadpanned, "and I wake up with you in my arms more often than not. You didn't have grey hairs where you were fifteen, Padfoot."

Sirius leaped back with a stricken expression, fingers already reaching up to tangle in his black hair and pull it round so he could examine it. "Where?" he demanded, mock-horrified, and Remus was already doubled over laughing. After the best inspection he could perform under the current circumstances, he let his hair go, and tossing it back over his shoulder, advancing on the other man with outstretched hands as if to strangle him. "That was not fair, Moony-"

"Oh, whoever said life was fair?" Remus chuckled, slowly backing away, body poised to make a break for it. He hurled himself to the left, but his strength was not what it was, weary beyond his years and Sirius' arms wrapped themselves tightly around his waist and pulled him in, nuzzling against his shoulder.

"I'm sorry for being such a shit lately."

He sighed, and pressed himself back against Sirius' taller frame, relaxing in that all too familiar embrace. "It's alright." Remus shivered when he felt Sirius kiss that spot just under his ear. "This house is a nightmare -- everything you told me about, but worse. I can't blame you for going a little insane."

"What, only a little?" Sirius teased, and those lips slipped up to Remus' left ear, teeth nibbling on the earlobe before his voice grew sad, somewhat melancholy. "This place eats people. It just sinks them down into the past and they can't escape. My mother, my father...the Blacks live, and die here. It's a trap. If I stay here, I'll just end up like them, I know it, a twisted memory, and nothing more."

"Then I'd better take you for walks more often," Remus joked, before he too grew more serious. "I'm sure there will be something for you to do outside these walls."

"I'm sure," Sirius assured him, non-committal, and they slipped off to their bedroom.

So Sirius went on cleaning, even if he slept better nowadays, and they made love at least once a week and it wasn't a chore in the slightest. Sometimes Remus would wake in the night to find the bed empty and the creak in the floorboards a telltale sign that the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black still had one victim left.


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