by Laura Smith

The dead don't dream.

That's a lie and Sirius knows it. He knows it in his blood and in his bones, both of which have stayed with him since he slipped through the veil. Since he died. He wanders a vast wasteland of nothingness, kicking at dirt and dust with a rage that defies description, always searching for someone, something, some way out of this place that isn't.

At night, when he tires, when he's exhausted and worn out and worn down, he finds a spot of grass in the middle of nowhere and changes, transforms and lies in it, snuffling and smelling and sighing with his lolling tongue until sleep overtakes him.

Some nights, he runs wild and free as Padfoot, covering territory in great loping strides, pouncing on the ground so hard that the shock of impact vibrates the pads on his paws, landing so that his claws sink into the ground, scar it. When he wakes, the smells and tastes of the night are still in his nose, on his tongue.

Other nights, he walks into rooms that can't hold him any longer and sees sorrow and pain. He reaches out to brush his hand against Remus's furrowed brow, smooth out the lines that were never there when they were children, lines that creased his skin while Sirius was hiding away, cursing himself for ever doubting the one person that he knew unconditionally would never betray them. Him.

Peter made him doubt and he lives with the regret, even in death. He moves around the room and watches Remus, watches Moony. He separates the two in his mind. Remus is the quiet, withdrawn, tired looking man with gray in his hair and a sigh on his lips. Moony is impish and slightly wild, wind in his hair, lights in his eyes, a smile on his lips. Moony, he thinks, died the same night he did.

He prowls the houses of his friends and loved ones, looking in on Harry and gently touching the dark scar, wondering if his cool touch might soothe it, might lift some burden off the young man's shoulders.

He spies on the Weasleys, never disturbing their ghost, as if he's not even there, not really there. He watches Molly worry and Arthur become bowed down with the weight of responsibility. Arthur is not made for heroism, but he stands there as he always did, always does. His sons and daughters unaware of how proud they should be, but proud nonetheless.

He spies on enemies and friends, watching them sleep, watching them dream, watching their nightmares, but he always returns to Remus. He doesn't use the bed anymore, simply slumps in a chair with a book, reading until his eyes drop closed and the pages drop to the floor.

He wakes before what would be dawn if the sun rose here, shaking his head to clear the musty decay of Grimmauld place from his senses, hoping to cling to the pure sliver of sensation that is Remus.

He always fails to hold on.


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