Love Is Not All
- Story Summary:
- It may well be that in a difficult hour/Pinned down by pain and moaning for release/Or nagged by want past resolution's power/I might be driven to sell your love for peace/Or trade the memory of this night for food./It may well be. I do not think I would.
- Chapter Summary:
- It may well be that in a difficult hour,
It was one of those seventh-year late-night conversations of a ridiculous philosophical nature, such as whether it would be wrong to use a cheering charm on a suicidal wizard against his will or whether house-elves should be able to petition for vacation days. "If you could make a trade for a cure for your condition," wondered Sirius speculatively, "would you give up sex?"
Without thinking about it, Remus replied, "Yes." Then, "Wait. Are you talking about sex-sex, or being able to come, or what?"
"All sex." Sirius flipped over to face him, his skin gleaming gold in the candlelight. James had taken his cloak and snuck out with Lily, while Peter was hiding in a corner of the library to finish an essay he'd put off for too long, so Remus and Sirius had the room to themselves for a couple of hours. Tracing a finger down the long scar on Remus' side until he shivered and twitched, Sirius continued, "The ability to feel it. No getting hard, no enjoying being on the receiving end. But you'd never turn into a werewolf again. Would you do it?"
"Would you stay with me if I couldn't have sex?" countered Remus, somewhat nervous until Sirius looked at him as if he'd gone daft.
"'Course I would. We were friends before we started doing any of this." Ducking his head, he kissed Remus just below the jaw in his most sensitive spot, and giggled when Remus whimpered softly. With his face still hidden against Remus' throat, he asked, "What about love? Would you trade the ability to feel love for a complete cure for your condition?"
"No!" Lifting his head, Sirius looked at him in surprise at his vehemence. "I wouldn't really be human if I did that, either, would I?"
"Not all love," amended Sirius. "Romantic love. Physical love. You'd still be able to love your friends, but only as friends. There would be no passion."
"No passion?" Now Remus hesitated. He was fairly certain that Sirius would tell him he would stay with him even in this circumstance, and probably he would, at first. But the boy next to him, who was even now wriggling his thigh against Remus' groin to see if he could make him stir again already -- he was nothing if not passionate. Impulsive, risk-taking...that was Sirius. He might agree to stay, but without real love, how long could it last? How long before he'd stay away longer and longer, coming back with that guilty expression he'd worn before they'd been together when he'd repeatedly ignored promises to study with Remus so he could spend time with James and some girl or other, when Remus had come to understand his feelings for Sirius because it wasn't even the girls he envied, but James.
"No passion," murmured Sirius, head lowered once more, tongue tracing a path to Remus' chest. Sometimes Sirius groomed him like a dog, licking the same spot over and over, while sometimes he seemed only to want to taste him. Moaning softly, Remus felt himself getting hard and shook his head.
"No. Wouldn't trade."
"But Moony..." Again Sirius raised his head and Remus wanted to cry out in frustration. "With what you go through every month? It wouldn't be worth it?"
"No. Would you please keep..."
But Sirius was distracted now, thinking. "All right. What if you could do it halfway? Not be cured, exactly, but what if there was a potion or something that would make the transformation easier -- a sedative for the wolf, or something -- but it would numb you a little, so that you wouldn't feel things quite so strongly, good and bad? Then would you do it?"
Remus had heard rumors of just such a potion, something being tested by the Potions Master at Durmstrang. The Ministry of Magic was said to be very excited about its potential; there had been proposals, his mother had told him, to make it mandatory for werewolves in lieu of restraints at the full moon. As terrifying as his monthly transformation was, Remus was not certain how he felt about being required to alter his body in such a way; the thought that the potion might affect his moods and feelings was almost as frightening as what the wolf did to him.
Clearly Sirius had not heard about the rumored potion, but then, Sirius rarely paid attention these days to anything that didn't directly affect himself. He had talked a bit about possibly training to be an Auror, but despite his undisputed brilliance, his marks had always been uneven in subjects that didn't interest him, and having a lover who was not only male but a werewolf would make him even more despicable to the purebloods at the Ministry than he already was as the Black family black sheep. And then there was the fact that he'd broken the law, becoming an Animagus, something not likely to escape the Ministry's notice if they checked up on him as a potential employee.
"Would you want me to do it?" Remus asked Sirius.
"If you wanted to."
"That's not what I asked." Sirius was frowning slightly, shifting a little to the side so he could look at Remus, whose side was cold where Sirius was no longer touching him. "It would make some things easier for you, wouldn't it? Not having to take the risk of turning into a dog and running around at the full moon. Not having to worry about me the next day. And -- maybe no one would ever have to find out about us."
"That isn't why I asked, Moony!" Now Sirius' eyes had gone wide; he was afraid he'd upset Remus. "First of all, I love turning into a dog. Except the fleas I sometimes think I'm happier that way. I hate worrying about you but if you mean you think it bothers me trying to take care of you, you're wrong. I just wish I could do something...that's why I was asking, because I know how much it hurts you." The hands were back on Remus' sides, but instead of teasing him, they were stroking hard, reassuringly, though which of them Sirius was trying to comfort, Remus wasn't certain. "I thought...never mind. Moony, I wouldn't want you deliberately to hurt because of me, all right? If there was a way to make it stop, and you didn't, because -- well, you keep asking if I'd stay with you -- I'd want you to take it."
"Are you asking, would I give you up for a cure? The answer's no, Sirius! If you're telling me you'd give me up, because it would make your life simpler..."
"I'm not! I swear, Moony, I'm not!" The candle sputtered suddenly, casting the room in darkness before the flame reasserted itself, less brightly, on the fraying wick. "It was just a stupid question. Forget I said anything." Sirius' fingers had not stopped rubbing him, pulling him closer, and now the dark-haired boy kissed him hard on the mouth. "Just forget it," he insisted, and Remus was only too glad to obey, losing himself in the sensation of Sirius rolling beneath him and arching up against his groin.
In the years after Voldemort's fall, many of the witches and wizards who had been preoccupied with Defense Against the Dark Arts found their work somewhat unnecessary. Certainly there were many who wanted to study the notes of the Order of the Phoenix on the struggle and the Boy Who Lived, but Dumbledore advised caution, suggesting that many of the brightest instead work on practical matters, developing new techniques for Healers and creating stronger shields between the Muggle and magical realms.
It was during this time that Wolfsbane was perfected, and Remus became one of the first recipients of the treatment. In those days no werewolf was ever told the name of the wizard who had brewed his potion, yet Lupin always received his from Dumbledore via an owl from Hogwarts, and he felt an odd certainty that it was being produced by Severus Snape. In its earliest forms, the potion was much more powerful than the sort later approved by the Ministry for general use -- though there was a movement to require it, spearheaded by a group of former Slytherins, werewolf bites remained relatively rare, and during the tumultuous period of distrust after Voldemort's fall, the subject was dropped.
For Remus, there was never any question about whether or not to take the potion. He was in Azkaban; he had been responsible for the deaths of James, Lily and Peter; he had betrayed everything and everyone Remus had ever loved. If Wolfsbane numbed the passions among its other attributes, so much the better. Sometimes Remus wished it suppressed memory as well. He wondered whether there was consolation in losing one's mind to the Dementors, becoming free from remembering.
Gradually the potion was refined; less blue-stone, more Jambolan bark, and on occasion Remus found himself having erotic dreams, sometimes even responding unexpectedly to a half-seen stranger with dark hair and a certain carefree stride. He hated it, and hated himself for it. There was a poem he had come across by an American poet that gave him the answer which had eluded him that long-ago night with Sirius:
Love is not all: it is not meat nor drink
Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain;
Nor yet a floating spar to men that sink
And rise and sink and rise and sink again;
Love cannot fill the thickened lung with breath,
Nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone;
Yet many a man is making friends with death
Even as I speak, for lack of love alone.
He would gladly have traded the cure to have Sirius back.
He swore to himself over and over that forgetting to take the potion before he went to the Shrieking Shack had been an oversight, but once Sirius was free, he wondered. He had never believed in fate -- what sort of destiny condemned a little boy to a life as an outcast and ravening killer? -- but he thought that, somewhere in his mind, maybe he had believed he could make a deal: the cure for love. Even after Snape told everyone what he was, costing him his job and taking him away from his friends at Hogwarts, he could not bring himself to be sorry.
Sirius came to him in the spring, after the horrible events of the Tri-Wizard tournament. They were cautious around one another at first, unable to forgive themselves for failing to trust one another in the days before Voldemort's fall, and Sirius seemed sometimes like a trapped animal, desperate to leave the house and his memories of Azkaban but unable to do so and remain safe. Remus watched him pace and wondered whether he had been like that, the days before the full moon, in the years before the Wolfsbane which Snape continued to send to him faithfully in spite of all that had happened.
Hours before the moon was due to rise in the first month, Sirius had looked at the potion and said softly, "Let's go into the woods tonight."
Remus knew all the reasons that it would be unwise. Without Prongs, Padfoot had little chance of preventing him from attacking a human should they chance upon one; Sirius himself might be recognized and caught; though he would keep his mind, he still risked doing an injury to himself, and he would be very weak afterward, more so than in a post-Wolfsbane stupor.
"Would you want me to give up a cure for my condition for love?" he asked Sirius, who stared at him out of sunken, haunted eyes.
"I never wanted that," Sirius croaked. "Moony, I'm sorry..."
Remus raised a hand to forestall him. "Let's go into the woods tonight," he agreed. Because some things couldn't be traded, and some things he refused to lose.