Ink Stains
by Siryn

1 -- brand me, mark me

He'll never forget when he saw the first one. They were in their dormitory on the first day of sixth year and he saw the dark ink through the sleeve of Sirius' thin white t-shirt. The initials were in script, the dark lettering standing out against his pale skin. It was stark and still, so Remus assumed Andromeda and her Muggle husband had taken him to get it. He caught himself before he reached out to touch it.

"Did it hurt?" he asked, keeping his hands busy by unpacking his books and hanging the calendar with the lunar cycle marked in red over his headboard. Sirius flopped down on his bed and pulled up his sleeve, the muscles in his bicep flexing as he looked at the marking on his arm.

"It did, at first," he replied thoughtfully. "Andromeda asked me if I wanted her to put a numbing charm on beforehand, but I said no. Made it a bit more real, more permanent or something." Sirius' eyes flickered briefly to where the crescent shaped bite scar was hidden under the collar of Remus' shirt and the temperature in the room seemed to rise exponentially the longer they looked at each other. Something warm and heavy was filling his stomach and before Remus could close the distance between them, Peter crashed through the door and the moment was broken. Grabbing his notebook and a spare quill, he escaped to the library without looking back at Sirius.

 

2 -- imprint me, engrave me

Shifting to lie on his back, he tried reciting curses and counter-curses, but nothing worked. They had been sharing a room for six and a half years and all of a sudden Remus couldn't sleep. Not only could he not sleep, but he also couldn't stop staring at Sirius' bare back in the bed across from his.

The phoenix rippled over his right shoulder blade, red and gold feathers glowing in the pale light of the room. He'd slipped off during their last Hogsmeade weekend and no one thought much of it, figuring he was doing the same last minute Christmas shopping they all were doing. He'd met them back at the Three Broomsticks and never said a word.

This one was a wizard tattoo, the ink charmed but no less permanent. The drawing didn't move but it seemed almost alive, the tip of one wing grazing Sirius' spine. It moved with his breathing and again he quelled the urge to reach out and touch him.

Things had been strained between them since the incident in the spring. He'd been furious at Sirius and didn't speak to him for close to a month. Of course not speaking to him didn't stop the dreams, if anything it made them more intense. They faded again over the summer, and by the time term had started he thought he could get over this thing, whatever it was, with Sirius.

"Nightmare, Moony?" he asked without rolling over. James and Peter were home for the holidays, so the question seemed to echo in the half-empty room. His voice was gravelly from sleep and it sent an unexpected jolt down Remus' spine.

"No, just couldn't sleep. Didn't mean to wake you," he replied.

"How many more nights?" Sirius asked, glancing out the window.

He didn't need to look at the calendar; he could feel it in his blood. "Four. Looks like I'll be ringing in the New Year in the Hospital Wing," he answered lightly. Sirius sat up and he looked up the ceiling, pretending to be fascinated by the heavy canopy over his bed.

"The Bleeding Toad does good work," he said, changing the subject. Sirius peered over his shoulder, the wings shifting as his skin moved over muscle and bone, the movement making Remus' throat go dry.

"Well, they had an excellent sketch to start from," Sirius answered with a slight smile. Intrigued, Remus kicked off his blankets and moved to look closer. The lines were familiar and the eyes of this particular phoenix were unmistakable.

"Where did you find it?" he asked, his fingers hovering over the design.

"Dumbledore found it in his office, after..." Sirius' voice faltered for a moment, but they both knew what he was talking about. "After you came back to the dorms. I kept meaning to give it back to you, but then it was summer and it was still in my Transfiguration book and I just never took it out." He was struck at the odd sweetness of that, knowing Sirius had kept that scrap of parchment all this time when he could barely find notes and essays he'd just finished writing.

"Remus," he said softly, "I'm so sorry. About Snape." He'd heard this apology a thousand times, but there was something in his voice, something sad and sincerely defeated that made him think that this time Sirius finally meant it.

He didn't respond right away and he felt Sirius begin to move away from him and he caught his wrist.

"I know you are. If I didn't think you were, I never would have come back," Remus answered. His hand was still wrapped around Sirius' wrist and he could feel the blood pulsing under his fingers speed up slightly. Looking up, he saw Sirius watching him carefully, as if he was trying to decide if Remus was going to bolt or not. The warm, heavy feeling was back and as Sirius leaned toward him, he shut up the voice in his head that was telling him this might be a very bad idea and pressed their lips together.

 

3 -- claim me, embed me

Dropping his wet coat in the hallway, Remus lit the fire with a flick of his wand. He was beginning to hate winter in London. It was wet and cold and miserable and he hadn't heard from Sirius in almost two weeks.

In his last owl all he'd been able to say was they were in Romania, training was going fine, Moody was weirder than ever, and that he was thinking of him. Lily had gotten a similar letter from James and they had commiserated over pints at a pub near the university where he worked as a research assistant. Except summers, this was the longest any of them had ever been apart.

He stuck the kettle on the stove and began to mindlessly scoop the tea when he heard a pop from the living room. His wards were only keyed to let three people Apparate directly into his flat. Process of elimination narrowed it down to only one.

"Lily," he called, "the book you're searching for is on the third shelf, second one in."

"Books, books, books. Is that all you think of when I'm not here, Moony?" Sirius asked from where he was leaning against the doorway, still dressed in his dark gray Auror robes. He was twirling his wand idly between his fingers but the hungry gleam in his eyes gave him away. Remus grinned.

"Sadly, my books are far better flatmates than you. They never babble on about Quidditch or leave wet towels on the floor," he remarked flippantly as he turned the gas flame off. He had a feeling tea would be the last thing on his mind soon enough.

"Quidditch is a fantastic sport and it's not my fault that you're utter crap at it and I would stop leaving the towels on the floor if you'd quit complaining about how much it bothers you. Honestly, you're like an old woman sometimes," Sirius retorted blithely. Whatever he meant to say next escaped him as Remus sidled past him out of the kitchen, dragging his hand deliberately across his hip.

He made it halfway down the hall before Sirius caught him. The thud of his back hitting the wall was drowned out by the distraction of Sirius' mouth on his, hot and demanding. It had been far too long, he thought, as he nipped at Sirius' bottom lip. The reaction was a deep growl that shot straight to his groin. He bucked his hips forward as Sirius pulled back, catching his breath. His palms were flat against the wall next to Remus' head, pinning him between the wall and his body.

"God, I missed you," Sirius said roughly against his ear.

Remus slid his hands between them and pulled at the clasps on his robes. "Show me."

Their kiss was slower this time, with robes and clothes being shed as they made their way to the bedroom. The bed was still unmade and they collapsed onto it, not wanting to let the other get too far out of reach. Remus let his hand trail down Sirius' side and as he passed his hip he felt a strangle tingle, like the after effect of a spell. When he looked up, Sirius was grinning.

"I have a surprise for you," he said. He was lying back on the pillow, one arm thrown over his head. He was utterly at ease and unashamed of himself and it made Remus almost laugh out loud at him.

"I can't possibly imagine where you could be hiding it," Remus teased as he licked and kissed his way down Sirius' chest. He took his time, marking out the lines of the protection rune inked just below his navel with his tongue. Moving toward the crest of his hipbone, Remus felt the prickling again.

"Sirius, what is this? Did James hit you with another one of his custom curses?" he asked, wondering if he had been hurt. It had never even occurred to him to ask what Sirius was doing here. Sirius was looking him now and there was a flash of anxiety on his face, which was completely unlike him, especially in this situation.

"Do you remember the incantation that reveals invisible ink, like the one we used on the map?" Sirius asked softly.

Remus blinked, trying to figure out what he was getting at. "Of course, it's Aparecium. Why?" He followed Sirius' eyes back to his hip, where his hand was still resting. There was a word appearing, black outlining the yellowy gold letters. Remus' heart dropped into his stomach when it was completely clear.

"Lupinus," he whispered reverently, "Of or belonging to a wolf."

This was a declaration, something tangible. They had never said the words out loud to each other before. He'd held them back so many times because he was afraid that Sirius would panic and run from this, from him. Slowly, he rubbed his thumb over the letters, feeling the buzz from the charmed ink. Sirius shifted and he looked up at him and smiled.

"It's amazing," he said and Sirius let out the breath he was holding.

"I had it done in Romania. There's an artist there that does commissions and..." Sirius trailed off as Remus bit down on his earlobe. Remus' lips made their way down his jaw and when he finally found Sirius' mouth, he tried to pour everything he had into that kiss. When they broke apart, they were both gasping for air.

"Are you sure? I'm not very good at sharing, you know," Remus murmured against his throat, letting the slide of skin on skin wash away the nervousness that was fluttering in his stomach. Sirius' fingers wound through his hair and pulled his head up so they were eye to eye.

"You never had to share me, Moony," he said as he leaned up to kiss the silvery scar on Remus' collarbone. It sent a shiver through his whole body and when Remus moved his hips, he felt his cock brush against Sirius'. He moaned and twisted back the other way, reveling in the delicious friction they were creating. Bending down, he nipped at the hollow of Sirius' throat and felt the growl this time, low under his lips.

"Remus," Sirius pleaded, his eyes hazy with desire. Reaching over, Remus fumbled in the nightstand drawer until he found what he was looking for. He ran the slippery substance over his cock, fingers teasing Sirius before easing himself in slowly. He took his time, stretching and pressing until he felt Sirius moving against him, moaning softly. Wrapping his hand around Sirius' cock, he stroked up and down in time with his thrusts. The sensations were overwhelming and when Remus looked at him he was almost undone. Eyes half closed, Sirius was lost in the moment, black hair stark against the white pillowcase and whispering his name over and over again. The letters on his hip were glowing brighter and Remus felt some feral part of him break loose, needing to move faster and harder. There was a tingle building at the base of his spine and suddenly he was there, tumbling over the edge. When he felt the warm slickness on his hand and heard Sirius cry out once more he pulled out slowly. He muttered a cleansing spell over them before crawling up and joining Sirius. He settled on his side with Sirius behind him, hand splayed over his stomach.

"I meant it, you know," Sirius said, kissing the back of his neck. "If you'll have me, I'm yours."

Remus smiled. "Well, I'd never want to burden anyone else with you and since you're already here, I guess I'll keep you." He felt Sirius chuckle against his skin and pull him close. Tugging up the blankets, Remus nestled into the best night of sleep he'd had in months.

 

4 -- scar me, score me

Remus collapsed onto the living room floor, vaguely surprised he hadn't splinched himself. He hated the October full moon, the equinox always made the wolf more difficult to control. Sitting up carefully, he tried to pull off his coat without disturbing all his bandages. That's when he realized he wasn't alone.

"Where have you been?" Sirius was sitting on a wooden chair near the window, his feet up on the sill. It was completely dark in the room and the weak moonlight threw his face into shadow. But he was the most welcome sight Remus had seen since he'd left six days ago.

"Hello to you too, Padfoot. No, I'm fine down here on the floor, don't get up," Remus replied sarcastically. Shrugging the offending coat off, he slowly stood up. He took out his wand and lit the candles on the table. Sirius still hadn't moved from his seat but was watching him closely.

"Is everything all right?" Remus asked cautiously.

"Voldemort is going after James and Lily. We've decided its best if they go into hiding until we figure out what he wants from them," Sirius said, trying to keep his voice as even as possible. "You didn't answer my question."

He shook his head. "I was in Wales. Dumbledore sent me there to get some information from one of our contacts there. But you already know that." As Sirius shifted, he got a better look at him. There was a new tattoo on his left arm, something Celtic he thought, with Harry's birth date worked into the middle. He'd barely seen Harry that year with his work for the Order. And he could count the number of times he and Sirius had spent more than a single night together on one hand.

"You weren't in Wales for the full moon last night, were you?"

Remus was on the couch now, slowly peeling the stained gauze off of his forearm. The scratches weren't bad and he doubted they'd even leave a mark. "No, I was in Hogsmeade, at the Shack. It was late and I knew I wouldn't make it back here in time. Is there a point to all this, or are we just playing Twenty-bloody-Questions?" he asked irritably. "I'm tired and not a little bit sore and I'm still waiting for you to tell me what's to be done with James and Lily."

"Are you working for the Death Eaters?" Sirius asked bluntly.

He blinked, wondering if he might have possibly misheard the question. Sirius was sitting up now, his body poised to strike if provoked. He'd seen him that way before, but he'd never had that anger directed solely at him.

"Have you gone completely mad? You know very well that I am not now, nor have I ever been in the service of Lord Voldemort. What is the matter with you?" Remus asked, not bothering to hide the anger creeping into his voice.

Sirius' eyes didn't leave his as he spoke. "You left Wales four days ago. Yesterday you were in Hogsmeade for the full moon. That leaves one day unaccounted for, a day on which a team of Aurors was ambushed by a group of Death Eaters outside London. One of them had their throat ripped out. The only people who would have access to their whereabouts were the Ministry and the Order. And it would take a supernatural amount of strength to do the kind of damage that was done."

"Like the strength of a werewolf, is that it?" Remus said quietly. He heard Sirius get up from the chair and move toward him. His wand was in his coat, out of arms reach. The fact that he might need to use it against Sirius sickened him.

"We know they have Snape working on the Wolfsbane potion. It's what they've promised to the other werewolves working for them," Sirius said from behind him.

It was so ridiculous he laughed. "Do you really think I'd give up on everything I believe in for some bloody potion?"

žI think if you thought it would kill the wolf forever, you'd do whatever you had to," Sirius answered. "If you turn yourself in, I can protect you. The Ministry will..."

"The Ministry will pump me full of Veritaserum and silver bullets. They don't trust me and I don't trust them. And apparently you don't trust me either or we wouldn't be having this conversation," Remus finished, trying to contain the rage that was welling inside him. "Get out."

"Remus, we need..." Sirius started but Remus' hand around his throat stopped his voice.

"You need to get out of here before I really lose my temper. I am not a traitor and if my word isn't enough then this conversation is over," he snarled, baring his teeth. He let Sirius go and watched as he Disapparted, a look of betrayal written all of his face. He took his wand and reset the wards, blocking anyone from entering and stormed down the hall.

Turning the faucets to scalding, he stripped off his clothes and began removing the rest of his haphazard bandages. He left the one on his hip for last. The tape came off painfully slow and he looked at the mark in the reflection. Ink glimmering, the black paw print stood out against his skin, mocking him.

 

5 -- inscribe me, rewrite me

When he opened his door that morning, Remus was not surprised to see a large black dog sleeping on his porch. He was thin and a bit worse for the wear, like any good stray would be. Holding his cup, he sat down next to him and scratched lightly behind his ears. The dog lifted his head and opened his grey eyes slowly, as if to make sure of exactly who was touching him. Scooting back, he sat up on his front legs and shuddered, his body changing back into its human form.

"You should have knocked. I would have let you in, you know," Remus said, leaning back on his hands. Sirius looked better than he did the last time he saw him, but not by much. The hints of blue trailed out of the ragged shirt he was wearing and he suddenly thought of the first time he'd seen one of Sirius' tattoos. It seemed like a million years ago.

"I didn't know if you were alone," Sirius answered with a shrug and wrapped his arms around his knees. They both stared out at the quiet woods for a few moments.

"Where's Buckbeak?" Remus asked, finally breaking the silence.

"He's in one of the caves a few miles away. He knows to stay there until I call for him. He needs some rest; we've been flying for four days straight," he replied without looking at him.

"You should come in then. There's tea and I might even be able to find something edible," Remus said as he stood up. "There's no one here, hasn't been anyone for some time now," he added as an afterthought. He left the door open and after a moment, Sirius followed him.

He set the steaming mug in front of him and Sirius sipped from it carefully, trying to hide the slight shake in his hands. An astonished smile broke out over his face.

"Don't look so surprised. I had breakfast with you every morning for seven years and shared a flat with you after that. Very strong, one sugar, lemon only with Earl Grey," Remus said, turning back to rummage through the cupboard. "The selection is rather slim, I'm afraid. I've only been here a night or two and I didn't really bring anything with me."

Sirius shook his head. "It's fine. I'm really not hungry. But I would like to..." he gestured at himself and Remus understood immediately.

"Of course. It's upstairs, first door on the left," he said with a nod of his head. Sirius swallowed down the rest of his tea and got up from the table, heading upstairs. Remus set his cup in the sink and took a deep breath.

He knew that Sirius was going to show up eventually. Dumbledore had been sending regular owls, along with the Wolfsbane potion from Severus, so he was aware of his general movements and of Harry's. He hoped those dreadful relatives of his would let him go to the World Cup with the Weasleys. It would be good for him.

The clanking of the pipes over his head brought his mind back to the man upstairs. He really had no idea what to say to him. How do you apologize for thinking someone you loved was a murderer?

Remus went up the stairs and got a towel from his bedroom. He didn't really have any clothes that would have fit Sirius before, but now he was almost as thin as he was. Grabbing the first things on the top of the pile, he went to the bathroom. He knocked lightly and then went in. Sirius was sitting in the tub, his head resting back against the tile. The strange blue symbols were clear through the water and he didn't realize he was staring until he felt Sirius looking back at him.

"Sorry, I just...I'll leave these for you," Remus said, laying the pile on the sink. When he got into the hallway, he closed his eyes and tried to clear his head. He wasn't a teenager anymore.

Going back to his room, he dug through the books in his trunk and finally found the one he was looking for near the bottom. Ancient Runes had been a favorite subject of his in school and he wondered if the symbols had a specific meaning. It would be a decent distraction, in any case. He was so absorbed he jumped when he heard the voice from the doorway.

"You won't find them in there," Sirius said quietly. Remus turned around and Sirius came into the room, settling on the opposite end of the bed. The shirt was unbuttoned and before he could ask, Sirius slipped it back off his shoulders. They were everywhere, small ones dotted his collarbones, and larger ones decorated his chest and stomach, none overlapping or obscuring another. Remus could make out the edges of the protective rune just above the waistline of his pants. He didn't ask anything, only waited for Sirius to explain them.

"They're part of a spell designed to make the wearer invisible, much stronger than a normal Disillusionment Charm. Just before Peter betrayed Lily and James, I had them done in order to watch the Death Eaters, to look for the spy," he said.

"To look for me, you mean," Remus said calmly. Sirius stiffened at that, but nodded in agreement. When he didn't say anymore, Sirius went on.

"The night they attacked Lily and James, I knew they were planning something, but they were all so careful not to say where they were going. That's why I went to check on Peter. The second I walked through the door, I knew I'd made a mistake trusting him. You should have seen the house, Remus. And they were both lying there, for a moment I thought maybe they were sleeping. Dumbledore had Harry and I just snatched him and started singing every foolish song I knew to calm him down, to keep him from crying. They told me to go and find you, to lay low until we knew for certain that Voldemort was dead, but all I could think about was getting revenge, of finding Peter and tearing him to shreds for betraying them, for betraying all of us. If only I had listened to them," he said hoarsely. "I'm so sorry, Remus. Can you...do you think you can ever forgive me?"

Tentatively, Remus reached out, tracing the blue ink across his sternum. He was so thin that Remus was sure he would be able to feel his heart beating through his chest.

"If you can forgive me for spending all those years thinking you deserved to rot away in Azkaban. I was so angry with you that night. And I never got to explain where I'd been," he answered softly. He swallowed back the emotions that were threatening to spill over. All the years they'd lost were pressing down on him.

"What do you mean?" Sirius asked. With a slight smile, Remus got up and stood in front of him.

"The night I left Wales I went in Edinburgh to see a friend of mine. And I had this done." Dragging the fabric down, he showed Sirius the mark on his hip, now marred with a scar through the middle. "I suppose the wolf tried to get rid of it, even if I couldn't." Sirius grinned and for a moment, the years melted away from his drawn face. Leaning down, Remus cupped his face and brushed his lips across his.

"I wish we could change the past, but we can't. We can only make the best of what we have. No more apologies, no more talk of forgiveness. Only this," he said and kissed him again. They were careful of each other, almost shy; wondering if the other might break. Pulling away, Remus ran his thumb lightly over Sirius' cheekbone.

"I missed you so much," he said softly.

A wicked smile lit up Sirius' face. "Show me."

And with the sun shining though the thin curtains, Remus did.

 

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