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Bureau of Mutants, Superhumans, & Costumed Vigilantes

June 21st, 2003

Post-OoP Fic Drabble @ 07:42 pm

Current Mood: melancholy melancholy
Current Music: "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables," from Les Miserables

Well, in an attempt at self-therapy after finishing Order of the Phoenix, I've written an angsty R/S fic. Warning: It contains spoilers for OoP.

Burning Silicon

"Now I must live for vengeance and for war
And howl at the silent stars alone."

--Lowry, from an unfinished sonnet.

I've always hated the night sky. I would have failed Astronomy in school were it not for Sirius, who loved the stars with a passion and whose boundless enthusiasm had a way of drawing others into the things he waxed rhapsodical about. Astronomy, Quiddich, Transfiguration, and dueling ruled our lives during those years at Hogwarts, and God help the poor wight uninitiated into the wonders of peering through telescopes or whacking people with blugders. Sirius was always eager to impart his superior knowledge to the less fortunate.

Getting me to pass Astronomy became something of a personal crusade for him. I can still remember being approached during my first year by a skinny boy anxious to tell me exactly what I was doing wrong when I tried to set up my telescope, rolling his eyes at my obvious incompetence at a task a troll ought to be able to perform and loudly offering to do it for me. I let him. My mother had warned me not to mess with "his sort." "Black of hair, black of nature, Black of name," the saying went, and the stories I had heard about the Blacks of previous generations (usually when I wasn't supposed to be listening) had been decidedly less than pleasant. Still, there was no way I was going to be able to set the damn telescope up by myself.

I've always hated the night sky. Hated it, and avoided it whenever possible. I knew the phases of the moon by heart, but until Sirius took me by the scruff of the neck and thrust me face-first towards a telescope, I'm not sure I even knew the names of the planets, let alone the constellations. They shared the sky with the moon, and I hated the moon and everything to do with it.

When I looked up, I saw a vast expanse of darkness, cold, distant, and uncaring. Sirius saw perfect, infinite beauty, clean and pure and comforting, every group of stars an old friend. Normally incapable of sitting still or waiting patiently for anything, he could spend what felt like hours hunched over the eyepiece of a telescope, making miniscule adjustments and searching the heavens for a single star. Listening to him whisper the names of the constellations in my ear, I could sometimes see the beauty too. For a while, I loved them because Sirius loved them. Without him, the sky went back to being dark and cold.

Sirius loved the stars, I loved a star. Like his namesake, my Padfoot shone brighter than anyone else around him. He burned with passion, energy, intelligence, and a loyalty so fierce that he was willing to abandon his home, his family, and even, on occasion, his human form for his friends. I basked in the light, and forgot--or maybe I simply never knew to begin with--that the brighter and hotter a star burns, the more quickly it burns out.

When he went to Azkaban, the light went out, and I was alone in the dark again. And during those long, lonely years, I hated the night sky even more, because all of the stars reminded me of him. When they glittered, they seemed to be mocking me. "Silly werewolf," they seemed to say, voices cold and chiming, "silly little werewolf, thinking he loved you. If he truly did, he would never have turned traitor. Did you honestly think he'd be faithful to you? He wasn't even faithful to James."

I sold the telescope he kept on the balcony of our flat to a second-hand shop in Diagon Alley. I wanted to smash it, but I needed the money.

When he came back, when we found each other again in the Shrieking Shack that full moon night, the stars regained their appeal. Years in the dark had made Sirius long for the sky more than ever, and it was often a struggle simply to make him go inside. We slept on the grass a lot, those few nights at my house, before the business of the Order pulled us to London and ate away at our time together. He still remembered every constellation's name.

Sirius hated being idle, he hated being confined, and he hated being locked up away from the sky. "Without the stars," he told me, "a man's soul dies." The windows in the attic were the first thing in that horrid old house at Grimmauld place that he cleaned, so that he could watch the moon rise through them.

He hated cleaning almost as much as he hated being confined, so scrubbing grimy glass by hand was a true sacrifice coming from him. But then, Sirius was always good at sacrifices.

I want to be angry with him sometimes, to scream at his stupid, berserker recklessness, his total lack of anything resembling self-preservation. It never lasts. Without that fire, he wouldn't have been the man I loved. It's far easier to be angry at Albus, for keeping him pent up to the point of stir-craziness, at Severus, for waving his inactivity in his face, even, in my darkest moments, at Harry, for dashing off the Ministry that day. If he hadn't needed to be rescued…

If he hadn't needed to be rescued then, it would have been something else. Probably another attempt at vengeance. When stars burn up all of their hydrogen, they have to start fueling themselves with heavier elements, with carbon, with silicon, with resentment and bitterness, instead of lust for life. I could see that happening with Sirius, so lonely and angry, with nothing left to keep him burning but his love for Harry and me, and his hatred for the Death Eaters.

I just hadn't expected it to be so soon. I hadn't expected it to be so quick. Just like when he went to Azkaban, I don't even have a body to bury. This time, there wasn't even a wand to break. All I am left with is half the contents of a Gringotts vault, and ownership of a miserable, Dark Arts infested house until Harry comes of age and inherits it. If I were a crueler and more vindictive man, say, Severus, I think I'd let Kreacher's head join those of his forbears on the wall, before passing the place on. And possibly burn that horrid picture in the front hall, who takes it in turns to either rant about her traitor son or weep for the extinguishing of the family line.

I see it in my dreams sometimes, those last few seconds. On good nights, my dreams are filled with callused hands and warm lips, with hard muscles and scarred skin, and long curtains of silky black hair. On bad nights, I see his body falling slowly backwards into that arch, through a black veil like a starless night and into darkness, the veil falling into place behind him again like clouds blocking out the stars.

If Harry hadn't needed me, I think I would have jumped in after him. Part of me wishes I had. The other part of me is glad I did not, glad that I remain behind to fight Sirius's fight for him, to protect Harry for him, to bring down Voldemort. The desire for revenge, I am discovering, is a fairly good substitute for the actual desire to live. The moon, unlike stars, does not have its own source of light. It must borrow it, as mine was borrowed from Sirius and James. The moon does have a lot of rock, however. It is solid, hard, and has survived countless ages worth of meteor impacts. The moon and I are good at surviving. You can tell that simply by looking at us. The scars of time and hardship are etched into our skin, and we are both old and empty of life. Sirius would have told you that the moon was the most beautiful thing in the sky, cool and silver and luminous, more perfect even than the stars. I'm fairly sure that he didn't even say that simply to get inside my robes, but actually meant it. He always said that he never really learned to love the night sky, not just admire it, but truly love it, until he met me.

According to some cultures, the spirits of the dead dwell among the stars, walking the Milky Way across the heavens to whatever lies beyond. For Sirius's sake, I hope this is true. It's not precisely in line with Catholic doctrine, but then, the only way I could become a more thoroughly lapsed Catholic would be if I converted to Judaism. Sirius belongs among the stars. Failing that, he belongs someplace like the Norse Valhalla, fighting and laughing beside James and all the other valiant dead. Sadly, Valhalla does not exist, and the stars are nothing more than giant furnaces of hydrogen, millions of nuclear bombs going off in space. Wishing that they were more, that the bright glimmer of Orion and Canis major resting just above the horizon were really Sirius looking down at me, will not make it so. As it is, the stars are simply reminders of what I have lost, will lose, never had. With Sirius beside me, I could gaze at the gauze and diamond net spread across the sky and see the stars' beauty, their splendor, their light. Now, I see only the darkness between them.


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