The moon wasn’t up yet, but the sun was just barely starting to set, its orange rays casting their last golden glow. Remus turned away from the window, wanting the moon to never come up, and yet perversely wanting it up, wanting to start and finish his customary battle with his demons for the last time this school year. He walked over to the chair behind his desk and slumped down in it, putting his head in his hands. He looked down, and in the gaps between his fingers he could see one of the drawers of his desk ajar, and some parchment sticking out.
It was the Marauder’s Map. Remus pulled it out and laid it on his desk, staring at it for a moment. They’d lost it their seventh year, and he never expected to see it again, yet here it was. He knew he could probably use it to find Sirius, to bring him in so that he’d never hurt the ones Remus loved again, but the Map stayed blank. Remus didn’t know if, once he found Sirius, he even would be able to turn him in. Surely, Sirius knew all sorts of Dark Magic that would be able to overpower him…
“Thinking of me?” a low, familiar voice commented lightly from behind him. Remus sprang up and whirled around, his wand clutched tightly in his fist, to face none other than Sirius Black himself. But this wasn’t the Sirius Black that he’d seen in the wanted posters all over Hogsmeade. This wasn’t a Sirius Black that looked like he’d spent twelve years in Azkaban and another on the run. This was a Sirius Black as he had last looked the last time they were happy together.
Remus’s mouth dried, though whether with fear or with longing he didn’t know. The man standing in front of him, a small smile playing around his lips, looked not a day older than twenty. His hair wasn’t the matted, tangled, greasy mess it was in the pictures around Hogsmeade; instead it was sleek and shiny, and just past his ears. He was even wearing those Muggle jeans that he’d loved and wore nearly everywhere, and his shirt, a plain white button-down, was open to the waist.
Remus’s mind seemed to freeze as the very picture of his lover at twenty stepped forward out of the shadows. Remus held his wand tighter, raised it slightly and opened his mouth to cast a spell, when Sirius started chuckling, the laughter low and having an almost cruel edge to it.
“Going to curse me, are you, Moony?” Sirius asked, his voice sending shivers down Remus’s spine. At this, the name he had not heard in nearly thirteen years, Remus clenched his teeth and raised his wand higher.
“Don’t call me that,” he growled. “You don’t have the right to call me that.”
Sirius raised an eyebrow. “Don’t I?” he asked.
Remus closed his eyes and took a deep breath, fighting down the rage at that simple assumption. “No. You don’t,” he said. “You lost that right when you betrayed James and Lily and Peter.”
Sirius shrugged. “Have it your way, then,” he replied, then turned to face the door to Remus’s office, and had nearly reached it with one hand on the doorknob when Remus realized what he was doing.
“And where do you think you’re going?” he asked a bit rudely, but didn’t care. James and Lily’s murderer was not going to just walk out the door when there was something Remus could do about it. Not when he finally had Sirius in front of him. Even if this Sirius couldn’t possibly be the one who escaped Azkaban…that Sirius couldn’t still look this good…Remus wrenched his mind away from those thoughts. Those kinds of thoughts were dangerous.
Sirius turned around and raised the other eyebrow. “You don’t seem to want me around, so I thought I should leave,” he said pleasantly. “Was I wrong, then?”
Remus shivered. “No. Yes,” he said, and Sirius cocked his head. “I don’t want you here, but I won’t let you leave.”
Sirius crossed his arms. “Ever going to make up your mind?” he drawled, and Remus flinched. That voice…
Remus shook his head slightly and stood up straighter. “You aren’t leaving,” he said, in the Professor voice he normally saved for stubborn students.
Slowly the smile on Sirius’s face grew, now looking slightly feral. Sirius let go of the doorknob and turned to face Remus completely, and Remus’s heart started pounding. He took a deep breath to calm it down again, but his throat choked up when Sirius reached his desk again and looked at him through half-lidded eyes, exactly as he always did whenever he was thinking of something he wanted to do to Remus, something that both of them usually enjoyed…
“Stay where you are,” Remus said calmly, even as his heart pounded harder at Sirius’s proximity. “If you come any closer, I’ll Stun you and give you to the Dementors.”
“Would you really?” Sirius asked, amusement in his voice, though he did was Remus said and stayed where he was.
“Yes,” Remus snapped. “Don’t give me any more reason to curse you than I already have and maybe they won’t give you the Kiss.”
Sirius pouted, and Remus closed his eyes. Be strong, he told himself. He’s a murderer. He might even be here to kill me now.
“What reason have I given you to doubt me so, Moony?” Sirius asked, sounding aggrieved, and completely ignoring Remus’s early command not to use that name. Remus’s control, which had been holding onto tooth and nail, snapped. How dare he? How dare he sound as if he’d done nothing?
“What reason have you given me?” Remus repeated, clenching his fist so hard that his nails broke the skin and blood started slowly running down his palm. “What about the betrayal of Lily and James to Voldemort? What about killing Peter and those Muggles? What about not even having the decency to stay in Azkaban and leave me the bloody hell alone?”
Sirius laughed. “You want me to leave you alone, do you?” he asked, then spread his arms. “You’re perfectly capable of making me. Look, you have a wand and I’m unarmed. Go ahead, Stun me.”
Remus gritted his teeth. “Don’t taunt me,” he warned. He raised his now-bloody wand a little higher, but still didn’t cast the spell. Sirius smirked.
“What, not going to?” he asked, and lowered his arms. “Suit yourself.” He shrugged, then cocked his head and put his hands on his hips. “So…you don’t want me to leave, and you don’t want me to stay. What is it that you do want, Moony?”Remus’s eyes widened, taken aback by the question. He barely even noticed the nickname; why would a murderer want to know what he wanted? He shook his head. “Dammit, stop playing with my mind!” he hissed, and was rewarded with Sirius’s laughter again, a low chuckle.
“If you don’t know what you want…” Sirius stepped closer, and Remus stepped back, “…then why don’t I help you find out?” And before Remus could do anything, Sirius had captured his wrists and raised them above his head before shoving him back against the wall between the grindylow tank and the bookshelf and coming down on his mouth violently. Remus closed his eyes and tried to tug his wrists free, but Sirius had them caught tightly. Sirius pressed himself closer to Remus, and Remus, who was fighting a losing battle between his brain and his desires, could feel a moan coming from low down in his throat, one that he tried to keep back, but in vain. Sirius stepped back, a cruel, pleased smile on his face. Remus panted, slumped against the wall.
“Why are you here, Black?” Remus asked quietly as soon as he caught his breath and straightened up. “How did you get in here? And how is it that you still look twenty years old?”
Sirius shrugged gallantly. “I’m here because you want me here,” he replied. Remus’s heart clenched.
“No,” he said. “No, you’re wrong. I don’t want you here. I want you gone!”
Sirius slowly shook his head, still smiling cruelly. “No, you don’t,” he said softly. “You want me to stay. You just don’t want to admit it.” He tenderly brushed a lock of hair away from Remus’s face, the gesture at odds with his _expression, and Remus trembled and flinched away from his touch.
“No,” Remus insisted, pushing away all doubts. “I want you gone. Anywhere, so long as it’s not here.”
“You don’t mean that,” Sirius said, and as Remus opened his mouth to protest again, Sirius quickly pressed a finger against it. “If you really wanted me gone, you wouldn’t be letting me do this.” He pressed himself to Remus and fitted their mouths together again, and Remus couldn’t stop himself from leaning into the touch, that familiar, wonderful touch. But this time he kept his eyes opened, trying to look at anything except Sirius, and that was when his eyes fell on the slightly opened packing case on the floor by his desk.
He froze. The packing case—that was the same packing case he had been using for the boggart for Harry’s lessons. How had it gotten open? His mind flashed back for a moment to earlier that day and bringing in the packing case from the exam, and it getting jostled in the halls by the students. One of the clasps must have gotten open. Just then his brain started working again, and he realised how Sirius had gotten into the room.
He shoved Sirius away so violently that the wizard smashed into the chair and knocked it over. “Boggart,” he said quietly. “You’re a boggart.” Sirius looked up at him, his shirt half off his shoulder, and said nothing. Remus raised his wand high and shouted, “Riddikulus!”
Nothing happened. Sirius stood up straighter, smirking, and Remus quickly closed his eyes, shouting, “Riddikulus!” again, wanting to wipe that smirk off Sirius’s face, but again nothing happened.
“Something wrong, love?” Sirius calmly asked, crossing his arms against his chest and raising an eyebrow inquisitively. Remus opened his eyes, and immediately had to look away. A young Sirius with only half his shirt on and who was smirking at him was not a good thing.
“Don’t call me that!” Remus snarled, looking at Sirius—it was so hard to think of him as anything else, even though Remus now knew that it wasn’t really Sirius—out of the corner of his eye. “You’re just a boggart, why didn’t you leave?”
“Because you don’t want me to,” Sirius replied placidly. “If you didn’t want me here, that spell of yours would have worked. But, obviously, it didn’t, so here I am.” He shrugged.
Remus shook his head quickly. “You’re wrong. I don’t want you here. You’re a boggart, dammit, you’re not real.”
Sirius quirked an eyebrow again. “You want me to be real?” he asked, then grinned wolfishly. “Now we’re getting somewhere.”
“That’s not what I meant!” Remus snapped. Oh God, he thought, nearly panicking, it isn’t fair. It’s just a boggart, I should not be losing control like this. The blood was drying on his palms and the cuts were stinging, but Remus ignored them.
Sirius took a step forward, and Remus took a step back. Sirius sighed and looked at Remus, his blue eyes boring into Remus’s own. “What are you afraid of, Remus?” Sirius asked softly.
Remus shivered. This is not going my way… “The moon,” he replied. Well, that’s true, really…except that it’s Sirius here and not the moon…
Sirius shook his head and took another step forward. Remus took another back, and hit the wall. “If that’s true, then why am I here?” Sirius asked, echoing Remus’s thoughts. Remus didn’t answer; he didn’t know what to say. Sirius stepped forward again and cupped Remus’s cheek in his hand. Remus told his body to move, that this was a boggart, not Sirius, and even if it was Sirius it would be a murderer and therefore not a person he wanted to touch him, but his body didn’t listen, instead growing warmer at Sirius’s touch. “Remus. What are you afraid of?”
“Not you,” Remus replied snappishly, only it didn’t come out as irritated as he’d meant it.
Sirius caressed his cheek with a thumb. “If that were true, then why am I here? Why is it that, rather than the moon, a twenty-year-old Sirius Black stands in front of you?”
“You’re not Sirius,” Remus said, closing his eyes. “You’re not. And I’m not afraid of Sirius anyway.”
“The fact that I’m here means you’re wrong,” Sirius said quietly.
Remus made an exasperated sound. “I know you’re here. I don’t want you here, and I’m not afraid of you, but why are you even asking what I’m afraid of? You’re a boggart; you should know better than I do.”
Sirius smiled slowly, then leaned in close to Remus’s ear, his hot breath washing over the side of Remus’s face, and nipped at his earlobe. “Your fear is so delicious,” he breathed into Remus’s ear, and Remus shuddered. “Embrace it for me, Remus. Let it inside you.” Sirius wound his arms around Remus’s waist. “Let it spread throughout your body. Can you feel it, Remus? That cold fire in your veins?”
Remus’s arms stayed limp at his sides. “No,” he said, even though he could. He could feel that icy fire in his blood, but he didn’t know if that was fear or if it was Sirius’s proximity that was causing it.
Sirius chuckled, the low laughter right next to his ear. “Don’t lie to me, Remus. You can feel it, because I can feel it, and I am the expert on fear.” He pulled back slightly, his face now hovering an inch away from Remus’s. “You love it,” he whispered.
Remus shook his head. “No,” he said, emphatically denying it, though he wasn’t quite sure why—they both knew he was lying. He knew it wasn’t Sirius who was holding him, wasn’t Sirius who was gazing at him so intently, but it looked like him and felt like him, smelled and tasted like him. It was something that he’d gone without for nearly thirteen years. And even if it wasn’t real, he wanted it to last. He closed his eyes. As much as he hated it, he wanted it. Those twelve years without him had been hard, but at least he’d been distant, far away in Azkaban. But with Sirius at Hogwarts, and each subsequent day a bigger stress on his control, at times it had been all he could do to not just go find Sirius and kiss him breathless, because, murderer and traitor or not, he was still Sirius.
Sirius smiled and pulled Remus closer. “See?” he breathed. “You want it. Want me. So why don’t you take me?”
“Because you’re not real!” The cry burst out of Remus’s throat, surprising him, though not surprising Sirius, who simply nodded in response.
“If it really was Sirius Black who held you in his arms, what would you do, Remus?” he whispered. “Would you touch him, kiss him, ravish him, tell him how much you love him? Would you want to stay here forever with him?”
Remus started shaking his head helplessly. “I don’t know. I don’t know!”
“But I do,” Sirius said. “I know what your choice would be, and so do you. And that’s what scares you.” He softly kissed Remus’s lips again and pulled back to regard him once more with those piercing blue eyes.
“No,” Remus whispered, though he wasn’t sure what he was trying to deny anymore. He had Sirius’s taste on his lips. How could he deny what he really wanted when he had Sirius’s taste on his lips?
“Yes,” Sirius countered. “You know what you would choose. You love him. Tell me, Remus, how long would you be able to resist?” And before Remus had the opportunity to answer, Sirius kissed him, hard, and Remus couldn’t even think anymore. All that existed was this mouth on his, these arms around him, this hair tickling his face and neck. Finally, Sirius pulled back and laughed. “You’re afraid of what you know I can make you do, and do willingly.”
“Bastard,” Remus whispered, and Sirius laughed again.
“Aren’t I?” he asked. “The ultimate bastard, that’s what I am, seducing you to the Dark side, and me. Because you can’t get me without it, and you want me.”
“But you’re not him,” Remus said quietly. “You’re not Sirius. You’re just a boggart.”
Sirius shook his head in amusement. “I am what you fear,” he corrected. “And what you fear is being unable to resist Sirius enough to stay with the Light. So I am Sirius.”
Remus wanted desperately to deny it. He wanted to yell that it wasn’t true, that he could be strong, even against Sirius. But he wasn’t sure that it was true. He didn’t even know if he would want to resist. The moon had never tried his control the way a year with Sirius so close and yet out of his reach did. So the boggart-Sirius was right—this was what he feared.
Sirius’s smile grew wider. “See?” he whispered, leaning his forehead against Remus’s. “You fear what I can make you want to do for me, to me, with me.” He half-closed his eyes. “I grow strong on that fear, especially as you’re paralyzed to stop me. You don’t want me to go, so I can’t. Ah, love,” he sighed. “If you can’t resist me, how are you going to resist him?”
Remus closed his eyes. He had to be strong. He couldn’t let Sirius win, not like that. “That’s between me and the real Sirius,” he replied steadily, and raised his wand, pressing it into the boggart’s chest. “Riddikulus,” he whispered, and this time it worked; the warm proximity of Sirius became the cold distance of the full moon, which was set to rise in about another hour. Bowing his head, he said, “Riddikulus,” one last time, and watched as the boggart exploded into wisps of smoke.
He stood there with his eyes closed for another few minutes. Now that Sirius—or rather, the boggart—was gone, he felt slightly…lost. He knew he should be feeling relieved that it was no longer around to tempt him, but all he felt right now was empty. He opened his eyes and took a deep breath. Where was Snape with his Wolfsbane potion? Maybe the acrid taste would be able to help him get his mind off the memory of Sirius’s lips moving against his, would be able to get rid of the taste uniquely Sirius that was still in his mouth.
But he didn’t want the memory gone quite yet. His eyes fell on the Marauder’s Map, still lying on his desk, and he took a step towards it before he even realised what he was doing. He’d just take a look, just to see where Sirius was…he wasn’t going to do anything, he told himself. Certainly not go find him by himself. But taking a look couldn’t hurt…
His hands were steady as they picked up the Map, though he’d almost expected them to be trembling. “I solemnly swear I am up to no good,” he whispered, tapping the Map with his wand, and watched the spidery lines branch out from the point his wand had touched. When the Map was formed, Remus let his eyes rove over the castle and grounds, searching—and found the names Harry Potter, Ronald Weasley, and Hermione Granger on the grounds, over by Hagrid’s hut. And as he watched them move towards the castle, he saw another very familiar name appear on the Map, on a straight collision course with the trio. He saw the dot labeled Sirius Black hit the one labeled Ronald Weasley, but that wasn’t what made him stand stock still in shock. There weren’t just the two names of Ron Weasley and Sirius Black moving towards the Whomping Willow. There was another one, one that Remus had never expected to see on the Map ever again.
Alive. He’s…alive. But then, Sirius…Remus didn’t quite know what was going on right now, but he knew he would find out. And find out if the boggart and his own subconscious had been right too. Without a second thought, Remus grabbed his cloak, swirled it over his shoulder, and strode out of the room. He forgot about the Map lying open on his desk for anyone to see the names moving on it.
Sirius Black. Ronald Weasley. Harry Potter. Hermione Granger.
And Peter Pettigrew.