Title: A Grim Night

Author: tarotgal
Harry Potter

Rating: PG

Pairings: Remus/Sirius

Spoilers: none

Disclaimer: The pups are not mine! And why would I be getting money/fame/glory for this?
Sirius and Remus come home after a battle with a few Death Eaters, not much better for the fighting but very much more alive than their foes.

Comments: I'd love some



A Grim Night



     Sirius loved being able to turn into a dog. For one, it was the perfect form for him, dark and mysterious, but shaggy and lovable. It reflected his appearance and voice, and gave him a perfect disguise when he needed a hasty escape. And for another, his particular form afforded him some extra benefits. To any muggle, he was simply an enormous dog, and judging by its expression and tail they either wanted to pet him or run from him. But to a wizard or witch, he was a grim. A harbinger of death. And not just any death. A gruesome, violent, sudden death which could not be avoided at any cost.


     Which was why, when they actually managed to find out where and when to raid, it was Padfoot the dog that always appeared first to the Death Eaters. It was Padfoot who stood growling and snarling but looking mystical and dignified, before the others attacked. James on his left, Remus on his right, and any of the order coming in elsewhere with wands raised, ready for battle. It was Padfoot who started the alarm, the panic. It was Padfoot who scared them senseless before the order descended to overwhelm them.


     They didn't always kill the Death Eaters upon attacks. And they certainly never used the unforgivable curses. They fought to stun, they fought to bind. They fought to stay alive. But many times they had no choice and at the end of a skirmish if their own were still standing when the Death Eaters were not, the job was a success. When it was they who made the attack, however, it was Padfoot who announced their coming.


     And it was Padfoot who gloated about it afterwards. "D-did you see their faces this time, Moony?" Sirius asked, hurrying along beside Remus as the two walked briskly down the street to their building. Sirius wore a long cloak, but still shivered with cold in the snow, his arms crossed over his chest, hands tucked beneath his armpits for warmth.


     Death Eaters, who almost always wear hoods with masks so they could not be identified, were this time disguise-less and vulnerable. "Aye... I saw... them," Remus replied, lips blue with the cold. He was out of breath, puffing small clouds in the cold winter air. Remus pursed his lips, wincing as a stitch in his side pained him. He didn't want to talk any more until they reached home.


     Sirius, however, did not seem to pick up on this. "Too bad there were only three of them this time. I love when it's a whole group and they give that look to each other and--"


     "Sirius!" Remus hissed, stopping in his tracks and swaying a little.


     And now he understood. "Oh, yeah." He pulled a hand out and rubbed it through his hair to shake off some of the wet snow. "Yeah, let's go home." They hurried along together, Sirius a step behind and shivering, Remus limping ever so slightly.


     They followed the bend of the street and their building came into sight. Both men quickened their paces at the sight of it, determined to get home. Their flat was not the most comfortable or extravagant. It was nothing like Peter's lush bachelor pad or James and Lily's house. But it was home, and it was theirs. And most importantly, right now, it was warm. The fire burst into life in the fireplace as they entered, recognizing them. The candles on the coffee table and kitchen table followed suit, lighting the flat with a soft glow.


     Remus stripped off his cloak at once, hanging it by the door on a coat rack that seized a hold of it tightly as though it, too, was cold. He glanced at Sirius to take his cloak, but Sirius seemed cold and shivery still, as he settled on the rug in front of the fire, and Remus decided he needed more time still to warm up. So he limped over to the bathroom instead and kicked off his shoes then, gingerly, pulling off his pants. The cut on his leg looked much worse than he'd thought, worse than it felt, and Remus was certainly no stranger to pain. He sat down on the closed lid of the toilet and reached into the cupboard below the sink for the box full of bandages and things he kept there for easy access. He's had one of these boxes almost all his life. When he'd been young, it had been his mother who cleaned his wounds and bandaged him up. At Hogwarts, it had been Madam Pomfrey or, occasionally, Remus would do it himself. And now...


     Sirius burst into the bathroom. "Remus! You said it wasn't bad!" Sirius bent immediately, holding a cloth to it, applying pressure as blood trickled from the wound down his leg.


     "I thought it wasn't bad," Remus protested, wincing as Sirius wiped at it with a medicated, cleansing cloth. But the pain from that, too, turned out to be minimal. "Perhaps I'm so numb with cold that I couldn't tell?"


     "That," Sirius said, looking up from the injury and into Remus' face, "I can believe." His fingers were still cold and stiff, but they knew their routine well, and in no time at all, the wound was cleaned and bandaged and Remus had an arm around Sirius' shoulders for support as they left the bathroom but insisted all the while that he could walk on his own.


     The flat was small, only one large room and a small bathroom in the corner. But they didn't need much. They were fresh out of school, and used to having no more than a bed or two to spread their things out on. Remus spread out on the couch, and Sirius propped his injured leg up on cushions for him. "So," Remus said with a stretch and a yawn. "What would you like to do tonight? Play a board game? Read together? Have ass-pounding sex?"


     Sirius grinned but shrugged as he took his eyes off Remus. "To tell you the truth, Rem, I think I might head to bed early. I'm feeling a little..." he shrugged again. "I dunno, not myself." He lifted his hand and pawed at his nose a little.


     Remus frowned seriously. "I know what that means." He bent a finger, beckoning. "Come here, let me feel your forehead, Love." Sirius obeyed, closing his eyes as Remus pressed the back of his hand to his forehead. He paused longer than usual, then felt Sirius' cheeks, neck, and hands.


     "Well? Am I running a fever or not?" Sirius asked impatiently, starting to look worried now.


     "Can't tell," he stated, trying to smile a little to reassure Sirius. "You're still freezing cold from outside." He took both of Sirius' hands and cupped his around them, rubbing vigorously. "And so am I. I'll check again in a few minutes when we've both had a chance to warm up."


     Sirius nodded, pulling one hand back and cupped it over his nose and mouth. "herChoo! hurChuhhh! hurChhhoo!" He sniffed and wiped the back of his hand against his nose. "I don't think we need to wait." He sniffed hard again.


     "I did notice you weren't quite your usual self earlier tonight." Remus took his other hand back, wiping it dry with a part of his sleeve and then rubbing it warm again with the other. "I thought it was just because of the news of Reg--"


     Sirius sighed angrily. "Don't mention that git's name!" Remus could feel Sirius tighten. "If he's stupid enough to go and join the bloody Death Eaters then I don't even want to think of him as my brother any more. Not that he was a perfect angel before, either." Sirius grunted.


     "Calm down," Remus said, pulling his leg down from the pillows. "Let me get you some tea."


     Sirius pulled a face. "Remus, you know I hate that moss stuff you make."


     With a sigh, Remus stood up, steadying himself on his injured leg. "I won't give you any of that. I'll just make some regular tea for you." Sirius' expression did not improve any. "With lots of sugar and honey. It'll warm you up and help your cold or, whatever it is you have." With another shrug, Sirius gave up his battle.


     Remus returned with two mugs, one for him and one for Sirius. Sirius scowled at the cup and sniffed it apprehensively. But the steam tickled his nose, and he handed it back to Remus immediately. "herChahhh! hurChooo!" He sniffed and rubbed a hand beneath his nose. "S-sorry." He reached out for the cup again.


     "Can I get you a tissue or something?"


     "Don't bother yet. It's just a little tickle in my nose. Not worth getting up for." He took a sip of the drink, nearly choking on it.


     Concerned, Remus reached out, clutching his upper arm. "What's wrong? Don't like it?"


      "Course I like it. Hot chocolate's my favorite." Sirius smiled. "But I thought you were making tea."


     Remus grinned. "Well, you know I can't resist chocolate. And there will be time for tea later. Best to just get warm first, hmm?"


     Nodding, Sirius scooted closer to Remus, snuggling against him with great affection. Remus put an arm around him with a sigh. There was silence for a while, as they drank and thought. "Think this is going to be what it's like from now on?" Remus asked, drawing fingers through Sirius' short hair. "Working all day, fighting at night? Friends hurt and dying, families broken up? Fighting, killing, taking lives, then going home to our warm beds and hot chocolate?"


     Sirius purposefully took a long gulp of hot chocolate just then, delaying his response for as long as he could. With a soft sigh, he shrugged his shoulders and rested his head on Remus' shoulder. His hand ran down Remus' thigh, stopping just short of the injury. "I couldn't tell you, Remus. But I hope not." He pulled his hand back immediately. "herAHChhh! hurChahh! hurChoo! hehChhoo!" He ran his hand beneath his nose, sniffing madly. "Ub, Rebus? Sniff! Could, sniff, you get be, sniff, those tissues dow? Sniff!"


     Remus nodded. "Assio tissues!" he called, aiming his wand towards the bedroom. A box came flying out. He caught it deftly and pulled a few tissues out. He held them up to Sirius' face, rubbing, wiping gently. Sirius put his hand down and closed his eyes, letting Remus tend to him. "Blow your nose a few times now, Siri." He held fresh tissues up now. "That's a good pup." Sirius smiled behind the tissues and Remus gave his nose a final wipe. "Now drink the rest of your hot chocolate before it becomes cold chocolate."


     Sirius gulped it down, then handed it over and snuggled up to Remus more freely. He rested his head in Remus' lap, a cheek pressed against a warm thigh. Then he curled up halfway on the couch and draped one arm across Remus' legs. "Sirius?" Remus asked, reaching down and stroking the man gently. His jet black hair felt like silk to the touch, his skin was smooth and soft, and once Remus' fingers caressed these parts, they did not want to leave.


     "Mmm?" Sirius' pale eyes were closed and looked like they would not open again tonight.


     "Would you like to just sleep here tonight?" Remus asked softly, tracing the rim of Sirius' ear, then slipping back behind to get tangled in the hair again.


     "Just a little while," Sirius said with a nod, snuggling closer. "Kay?"


     Remus' fingers gently massaged the back of Sirius' neck, then rubbed his shoulders. "My leg still hurts, you know. I won't be able to carry you over to bed the way I normally do."


     Sirius tensed up and tightened a fist on Remus' robes. Burying his face in Remus' lap, he took in a deep breath. "heh-hehChshhh!" He didn't open his eyes, but he did lift his head, cupping a hand over his nose and mouth. "hurChooo!" His breathing was unsteady, only gasps that made him rock with the effort of each. "hurChshhh!" His hand reached out and grabbed a tissue quickly. "heh...hehChooo! hehChuhhh!" He collapsed weakly onto Remus' lap, giving a sigh His eyes pulled open, and he looked up at Remus. "I dod't care. I dod't wadt to get ub." He nuzzled, snuffling, into Remus' lap.


     "I won't make you get up and go to bed, then." He picked his wand up and aimed it for the bedroom again. "Assio blankets!" The blankets sailed over, and Remus tucked the thicker of the two around Sirius and draped the other over himself. As Sirius snuggled warmly against him, Remus placed one hand on Sirius' side and back, rubbing comfortingly through the blankets. His other hand picked up and held a book. It was early yet for him to fall asleep and he favored reading before bed. And at any rate, he wasn't about to fall asleep until he was sure Sirius was out as well.


     "hehChuhh! herChooo!" Remus looked down at Sirius, a tissue rubbing against his nose. "heh-hehCHooo!" Remus patted his back, then he continued rubbing his hand up and down the man's side. Sirius looked up at him gratefully. "You sure you don't mind?"  


     "Course not. So long as you're comfortable." Sirius smiled to express his contentment, then relaxed back against Remus.


     After nearly an hour reading, his eyelids began to droop, and even the book, informative and exciting though it was, did not keep his attention away from sleep. He closed the book and set it back on the side-table. Then waved his wand towards the candles around the room. They extinguished themselves at once, leaving a smoky smell hanging in the air for a few minutes. Sirius twitched his nose at it in his sleep.


     Remus let the fire in the fireplace continue to burn and flame, however. There were salamanders dancing in it now, and he had never had the heart to extinguish a fire prematurely when it meant killing them. The glow on Sirius' cheeks went from light to dark in places at each flicker. Remus' eyes, though tired now, did not seem so ready to close with this sight before them for a sleeping Sirius was entertaining to watch.


     He was dreaming again. About Death Eaters, clearly. He mouthed words like 'curse' and 'Snape'. He flexed his hand and clenched it into a tight fist. His body jerked and twitched, legs moving as though running, mouth pulling into a tight frown. And he whimpered and shook with emotion so intense that it seemed to overwhelm him. Remus could see his eyes moving behind their lids. He could see Sirius' rage and anguish all at once. And he knew that, in his sleep, Sirius had been the black dog again, bounding up to look down on a sea of Death Eaters, wishing them all a happy death before bounding down to fight them and protect his own with all he had.


     Remus waited until the dream got so intense that a tear rolled down Sirius' cheek before waking the man up. Sirius jumped back, startled to find himself not in the dream and not even in his bed. But at Remus' look of concern and the soothing crackles of the fire, he softened and relaxed. "I was fighting them, again," Sirius explained. "They came after you, James, Lily, and Peter. And I was the only one who knew they were coming. And... and Regulus was with them."


     "What?" Remus exclaimed, reaching for his wand at once to summon over floo powder so they could speak with Dumbledore.


     Sirius reached out and gestured for Remus to relax. "It wasn't a premonition or a vision of what's happening now. It was just a dream. About my brother. He's still in school, I'm sure of it. But in the dream he was with the Death Eaters and he... was crying." Sirius sniffled and blew his nose. "What do you think it means, Remus?"


     Remus patted Sirius' head, easing him to lay it back down. Remus readjusted the blankets and rested his hand against Sirius' back. "I really couldn't tell you, Sirius."


     Sirius made a fist so tightly that it shook with his anger. "I swear, it doesn't matter if he is my brother. If he tries to hurt one of you, he's dead. And I won't wait to turn back into a man, either. I'll leap on him and rip his throat out while he's still standing." Sirius was breathing heavily, his whole body seizing as anger raced through him. Then it tensed from something else. "hurCHooo! herCHUHH!" The sneezes seemed so strong and forceful that they drained away his anger a little.


     "Rest, Love," Remus advised, rubbing a tissue against Sirius' nose for him. "Or you're liable to sleep through your training tomorrow and miss learning another important way to protect us." Sirius smiled and nodded, closing his eyes. Soon the fire was putting him back to sleep. Remus summoned over a pillow and made himself as comfortable as possible, sitting up on the couch as Sirius still used his lap as a pillow.


     "hurChuhhh! herChoo!" Remus looked down to find Sirius holding a tissue against his nose, while his other hand pulled away the blankets, inspecting Remus' injury. "Needs new dressings," he said. And before Remus could object, Sirius pulled away from him on the couch and stumbled towards the bathroom. He squatted on the floor, changing the bandages carefully. "It looks a lot better now," Sirius said, sounding hopeful. He pulled back and rubbed the back of his wrist beneath his nose.


     "It feels a lot better, too," Remus said, running his hand over the spot on his leg to be sure the bandages were secure now. "Thanks."


     "C'mon. Let's stretch out in front of the fire." Remus felt his hand being tugged, and a moment later, he had joined Sirius on the floor, on the big, fluffy rug that lay in front of the fire. He pulled the blankets down and they wrapped around both men. Lying on their sides, Sirius held Remus from behind, their bodies curved and fitting as though made for each other. Sirius had an arm around Remus, holding him tightly for warmth and comfort. And when he had to sneeze, Remus, who had retrieved the tissue box along with the cushions and pillows, passed back tissues for Sirius. Sirius used them, then chucked them into the fire.


     Sirius tensed against Remus, who knew the sound of his breathing well and pulled  a tissue out from the box. "heh-ehChooo! hurChooo! hehChuhhhh!" Sirius' hand, already around Remus, took the tissue from him and tossed it, used, over his head to the fire.


     Watching it burn and feeling Sirius' arms wrapped around him, Remus smirked, "You're the one who's sick. I should be holding you to make you feel better."


     "Mmmm." Sirius kissed the back of Remus' neck. "Let me rest thinking that I'm protecting you. That's what will make me feel better."


     Even with a paining leg and a head cold, they managed to fall asleep, with help from the fire's warmth and gentle glow. Sirius did not release Remus all night, holding him tightly even through fitful dreams as the fire slowly died. The dreams were not as bad this time around, but both Remus and Sirius were glad for the touch as they drifted in and out of sleep, thankful that the grim's appearance this night had indeed been meant for the Death Eaters and not one of their own.