Fandom: Harry Potter
Warnings: incest, underage sex, seduction, betrayal -- Hamlet, basically.
Length: 6655 words
Archive: For sure. Just leave a comment.
Notes: A staggering amount of love for adux and misscake for the betas. Literally turned this story for festering shit into what it is now, which is hopefully readable.
In a dark night of adolescence, Sirius grabs Regulus by the hand and leads him into the shadowed corners of the world, a world their parents have barred from them. Here, where streetlights shine with synthetic fire and neon strips stretch for ages, they dodge about and find comfort in forbidden pleasures.
This world, their new world, is one of gleaming rain-paved streets, rich with cars and people. There is vomit and broken glass on the street in their world; it is not the bright side of the moon, but Sirius likes it despite this. Regulus likes it too, but he likes it because it frightens him. These sharp leers and sharp teeth, they terrify him. They might be snatched at any moment; he hears about these people, these monsters that devour children like him, and it thrills him.
The cinema, the Bildungsroman, is a squat building made of grey brick. Only the front is illuminated, scattered with a half-hearted pointillism of lightbulbs like some vintage marquee. Sirius pays for their tickets in worn, crumpled pound notes and he holds Regulus’ cuff possessively as they make their way through the lobby, trainers sticky on the stained maroon carpet, the crunch of popcorn sounding like beetle molts. There are old men by the far side of the lobby, leaning against the yellow-stained walls and smoking unfiltered cigarettes. One leans up, the first action for movement, but Sirius whips his head about and, from tar-pit eyes, gives a fierce stare.
They duck into the theatre and take the top row. There are three other people in the theatre, but they are just white-reflected corpses in the ethereal cinema light. Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai starts up, and Sirius and Regulus can hear the click-click-click of the projector. They settle into their filthy seats, black scarves and black woollen cloaks surrounding them placidly like dark cotton waves. Deep under their coats are two grubby brother-hands – dirt under the nails, calloused and filthy with the dust and dirt of their shadow-world – clasped together. They squeeze sometimes, a playful challenge, but never, ever do they release. It’s a game for them; if they disconnect, one of them might get swallowed – swallowed by their black cloaks, swallowed by the lecherous men who follow their every guilty move. They never, ever let go.
Sirius loves taking Regulus to movies, especially to Kurosawa movies. There are lightbulbs behind Regulus’ eyes when they watch Kurosawa. This is the ninth time they’ve seen Seven Samurai, and still his eyes gleam when he discovers the villagers’ plan, still he frowns at Kyuzo’s stoniness, and he always, always cries when Kikuchiyo convinces his comrades to save the village. Sirius likes the frightened-flashes in Regulus’ face as swords glean off swords, loves the lonely whimpers he makes when the samurai are struck down.
The movie lifts, and their machine – a machine that captured them, moved them, framed them – is revealed to be a derelict room with peeling yellowed wallpaper, brown plush seats that were once red, and a soft haze of smoke circling the ceiling, the air stuffy and dry. Sirius and Regulus wait until the room is empty before talking.
“Where should we go now?” Sirius smiles in that rare selfless and brotherly way he had; he was the vehicle and it was up to Regulus to drive.
Regulus runs one hand through the thick tangle of dark hair and smiles, siphoning the intense internal pleasure he has, the pure vigour of his twelve-years. “I’d like to get a drink somewhere.”
“I like the sound of that,” Sirius says. He gets up, straightens his clothes and turns his back on Regulus, crouching down to offer a piggyback ride. Regulus grins a crazy crooked grin, showing his not-quite centred teeth and that manic fire in his eyes. He leaps on Sirius’ back and hooks to loving arms around his neck, and Sirius hoists him spinning and wonderfully into the air, just like they used to as kids. This barrier – Sirius’ post-pubescently wise fourteen years and Regulus’ naïve pubescent twelve – doesn’t keep them apart, and Regulus is still light enough to carry.
They sprint from the theatre, boy-on-top-of-boy, and in a rush of delirium they laugh like crazy at the dirty cigar-smoking men at the far end of the lobby. The run into the cold and humid London air and Sirius’ boots crunch on broken glass. Neon is reflected on the wet pavement and Sirius nearly slips, so he puts Regulus down and they run off, hand in dirty hand.
They’re at that age. Nothing could be like this ever again. Regulus would, too soon, lose his prime. His legs would lengthen and shed their boyish kind of grace in exchange for the awkwardness of adolescence. Sirius doesn’t like that thought, of this beautiful boy – his beautiful boy – being turned into a man-thing, like himself. He doesn’t want to see Regulus’ face, smooth and brilliant and brightly freckled as it was now, grow spotty or scraggly dark scruff. He wants this same Regulus, this Regulus untouched by his parents, untouched by the world, untouched by the growing darkness.
They slouch like criminals along the dark alleys until they reach a public house. Gathering his cloak about him, Sirius steps in first, and in his huskiest voice asks for a booth by the end, if you please. His dark hair, now brushed over his eyes, helps disguise his face – he might pass for seventeen. The waiter believes him, or simply doesn’t care, because he lets Sirius and Regulus in without so much as a sniff. Sirius orders a pint of stout, and a half-pint of lager for Regulus, which are delivered in dirty, greasy glasses. The beer loses its head within seconds, but the warming, muggy quality of it remains just the same. They sip greedily.
The light falls on their table in copper pools, dim and distant. Under the muted light, with their cloaks spun up around them as they were, the boys looked like two tramps, shaggy-haired and dark-featured. Regulus, who has always been passionate about pretend, takes his pair of black leather gloves from his coat pocket and, with a pocket knife, saws off the fingers, making frayed-ended fingerless gloves. He puts them on, flexes his sharp boyish fingers, and smiles approvingly.
“Listen, Regulus,” Sirius says during a lull in conversation. He runs a hand through his hair and parts the lank locks to regard his brother with serious eyes. “What have mother and father told you?”
Regulus takes another sip of his beer and shrugs inconsequentially. “They’ve just been mentioning my coming-of-age.”
“Oh.” Sirius is silent for a long while and Regulus becomes concerned.
“What do they mean by it, Sirius?” Regulus asks with adopted concern.
“They’re gonna try and change you, buddy.” Buddy. It rings out like some foreign word from some foreign throat. Scratchy, strained, and important.
“What’s wrong with you?” Regulus laughs as he speaks, a high giggle, not yet changed by the seriousness that comes with both puberty and a parent’s voice.
“They’re going to change you.” Sirius’ voice has resumed its normal level of assumed baritone and vague lilting manner, like everything was a joke. “They’re gonna grab you, and twist you,” he makes a twisting motion with his hands, an odd and comical expression on his face, “and they’re gonna … they’re gonna make you hate me.” His voice drops on the last words.
“Never gonna happen, Sirius,” Regulus says with a chirp. “Never ever gonna happen. Youse my brother, aren’t you?” Regulus fell back into the comfortable slang of his school friends, mimicking Sirius’ casual speech as best he could. Sirius could hear the sound of his leather boots smack against their booth as Regulus swung his legs carelessly. “Youse my brother and I love you forever.”
Sirius, feeling rather older than his fourteen years, drains the rest of his beer and stands. “We should be getting home. Mother and father will be worrying.” He glances at the clock on the wall, which signals that it is quarter past twelve. Sliding a leathery ten quid note on the table, he helps Regulus straighten his coat and they leave the bar.
As they walk, Sirius continues to talk.
“You know why we can’t tell mother where we’ve been, right?”
“Yeh,” Regulus huffs, his breath escaping in a white cloud.
“Because if she knows we’ve been doing muggle things –”
“She’ll whip us. I know Sirius.
“No, she’ll whip me. Because I’m corrupting you.”
“Corrupting me?” Regulus exclaims. “But I asked you to take me tonight…”
“That won’t matter to her. Remember what I said? She’s going to try to separate us.” Sirius is panting now, his breath trying to catch up with their fast pace through the darkened alleys. In a moment of panic, Regulus, realising their hands were apart, reaches out for Sirius. On contact, Sirius spins around, furious, “No! Regulus, you don’t get what I’m saying! She’s going to make you hate me, yeah? Because of – because of this.” He moves his hands about vaguely. “Because you’re here with me and she doesn’t want us here. She’s lost her grip on me and now she’d sacrifice me – sacrifice us – to keep a hold on you.”
“Sirius,” Regulus says in the cocky high-tones inherent to the Black family, “you’re making a big deal outta this. She can’t change my mind for me. C’mon, don’t be an idiot.”
Sirius takes a great sniff, turns on his heel and walks ahead at a fast pace. Regulus trails after him desperately until he grabs Sirius by the sleeve, spinning the boy around. Regulus is shocked to find tears in his older brother’s eyes, tears that carve a path through the day’s soot and dirt on his cheeks. He looks frail under the harsh white light of the streetlamps, his hair mussed up like a shaggy halo, eyes red-rimmed and lips quivering.
“You really think she’s gonna do it, don’t you?” Regulus asks, rocking back on his heels as the gravity of his brother’s worry strikes him.
“I know she is,” Sirius replies, his voice cracking helplessly.
Regulus is dark and quiet, until, “You don’t trust me?”
“What?” Sirius sniffs, feeling awkwardly like the younger child.
“You don’t trust me, eh? You think I’m gonna turn on you just because she wants me to? You think I’m gonna throw this away cause she tells me to?” Regulus nods sadly at his own words. “If you think I’m gonna hate you then you must not trust me, and maybe then I’ll have a reason to hate you.”
“Don’t talk like that,” Sirius says, summoning his strength, “you know I trust you.”
“No you don’t. Look at your talk. Smart old Sirius thinks he’s better than me, that he survived mummy’s words and now I’m gonna crumple because I’m weaker.” His words are harsh, but Regulus’ manner remains within the soft realms of a boy betrayed. “You’re an idiot, Sirius.”
Pride gets the better of him. “Don’t talk down to me.” He is crazy now, irrational, fuelled by love and panic.
“I’ll talk to you how I want, because you don’t trust me.”
“Shut up, Regulus.”
“Youse only telling me to shut up cause youse know I’m right.” The pattern, the easy rhythm of his words infuriates Sirius. It’s like Regulus didn’t even care, didn’t even realise the pain he was causing. “Look at me,” Regulus says strongly, stronger than Sirius has ever heard him before. “Look at me, Sirius.”
Sirius looks up from his shoes and sees Regulus’ expectant face before him. Sirius is immediately struck by how young Regulus looks. Just twelve, still holding the fire and vim of youth, which is manifested in a soft pink flush over his translucent skin. His eyes are wide and bright; there is a certain kind of dirty fluidity them, a glowing quality that Sirius knows will, in many years time, set, like liquid silver, into a cold hard stare, lacking all the things that makes him beautiful now. Regulus’ lips are pink, pinker than Sirius imagined lips could be, soft little things – they too would be subject to the grind of time, eventually becoming thin and hard. Was I as beautiful as he was? Sirius thinks to himself. It was just two short years ago, but I’ve changed so much, this dirty scruff, this hardness of muscle and bone.
“What do you see?” Regulus asks at length.
“I see… you.”
“I see, erm, a boy?”
This is ridiculous, Sirius thinks. What does he mean, look closer? Sirius is wary of this game; Regulus isn’t one to focus so fervently on one subject. Usually Regulus becomes bored and drifts to other things. Not now. Now there is an intensity, an adult intensity in his dedication, his insistence that Sirius look.
And there, Sirius sees it. In the backs of his eyes, in the corner of his mouth. That. It’s like seeing Regulus for the first time. Sirius smiles.
“Good,” Regulus says on seeing Sirius’ change in expression. And without another word, he stands on tiptoes, wraps two guilty arms around Sirius’ neck and lifts himself up to kiss his brother’s hard plum lips, firm and numb under his own. But slowly, under melting naïve insistence, Sirius softens, allows his lips to part, to separate so that Regulus might feel some of the warmth, some of the frightening and intimate love that he had tried to hard to suppress.
Sirius melts, falls back against the alley brick wall, back to the dust and earth and the dirt. Regulus is still around him, gloved hands mashed against the stone, still kissing Sirius awkwardly and curiously. He’s pressed against him, and their hair is getting in the way of their noses and their lips, smelling of salt-sweat and the musty smells of home. Uniquely though, Sirius smells of smoke, right deep in his jacket, and Regulus faintly of sticky sugar and fruit-shampoo. They both taste of beer.
Regulus’ hands, insistent, unbutton Sirius’ jacket and slide under his cotton shirt, under the waistband of his trousers. Dark and fumbling, Regulus presses them closer together, so blind to what he’s doing, so blind to what this means.
It starts that night. Sirius is, as he suspected, whipped and sent to bed, but Regulus isn’t in his room when Sirius comes to say goodnight. The talks have begun.
Sirius waits by the edge of his brother’s bed and examines the room. It has a high-vaulted ceiling, which disappears into shadows and delicate curlicues of decoration. False buttresses emerge from the high walls and only serve to highlight the depth of the ceiling, to instil a false feeling of grandeur. The walls are bare and yellowed with age – the boys were not allowed posters, so only a small chart showing the dates and pairings of the present Quidditch season is hung, lonely above Regulus’ bed. On the far wall is a wireless, and beside that a small glass tank, which holds Regulus’ lizard, Altair. Sirius gets up and observes him silently, prodding his spiny back with one inquisitive finger.
Standing as he is, Sirius notices something under Regulus’ bed. Getting on his hands and knees, he discovers the source of his curiosity: a small silver-framed photo of Regulus – no older than six – on Sirius’ lap, giving him an exaggerated kiss on the cheek. Sirius looks at the photo for a long while, unable to recall why it startles him so. It’s not the fact that he doesn’t remember the photo – that doesn’t matter – it’s simply the subversiveness of it, the fact Regulus has hidden it means that he doesn’t want it being found.
And then Sirius knows why: this is the only photo of them together; no mother, no father. Just them, brothers. His parents, in their mission to destroy everything that even hinted at Sirius, had taken any and all photos of Sirius and Regulus together. This lonely photograph was the only survivor.
Sirius is surprised to see his tears splashing on the frame, unaware that he had been crying. Just then, Regulus, who had been standing behind him for some minutes, speaks.
“So you found it?”
Sirius turns around, wiping tears away for the second time that day. “You know, then. That’s why you hid it.”
“We brothers are more observant than you think,” Regulus says smugly. “Of course I knew.”
Sirius slides the photo under the bed again and stands, in control of his tears once more. “Sorry for snooping.”
“S’all right,” Regulus says off hand, pulling his shirt and trousers off, changing into beautiful sky blue pyjamas of brushed cotton. Regulus, changed, crawls into bed and Sirius tucks the thick black comforter under his chin and gives his messy hair a quick ruffle. Regulus speaks, “You gonna read to me tonight?”
“If you want,” Sirius replies. “What do you want me to read?”
“A Separate Peace?”
“Fine, you stupid ponce. Where’d you put it?” Sirius asks as Regulus points to the bottom shelf on his bookcase. Sirius withdraws the book and sits awkwardly on the edge of Regulus’ bed. “Any section you want in particular?”
“Where they go to the beach?”
Sirius groans. “Again?” Regulus doesn’t reply, but gives Sirius a significant glance. “Oh fine.” He opens the book, leafs through until he finds the section and begins to read: “‘Swimming in pools is screwy –”
“Sirius.” Regulus interjects, “aren’t you gonna crawl in?”
Instead of speaking, Regulus lifts the blankets and Sirius knows what he means. Sirius does as he is asked, wriggling under the heavy blankets as Regulus slides over to the opposite side of the bed to make room for his older brother. Sirius tucks them both in and turns to face his brother, leaning up on one elbow to read.
“‘Swimming,” Sirius begins to read again, “in pools is screwy anyway,’ Finny said after a long, unusual silence as we walked toward the dormitory. ‘The only real swimming is in the ocean.’ Then in the everyday, mediocre tone he used when he was proposing something really outrageous, he added, ‘Let’s go to the beach.’”
Regulus grins; he loves when Sirius reads. Sirius reads properly. Each character sounds different; Finny has the same jumping and cheerful quality as Sirius’ voice, but Gene has some foreign variety of dense baritone. Sirius reads properly because when he reads the narration he lets his voice grow blank, so you don’t get it confused with the speech. When something exciting happens, Sirius knows when to give the right pauses so he makes it suspenseful. When something sad happens, you can almost feel the misery seeping through his speech, real sympathy glowing through.
“The Boardwalk lights against the deepening blue sky,” Sirius reads, “gained an ideal, starry beauty and the lights from the belt of honky-tonks and shooting galleries and beer gardens gleamed with a quick purity in the clear twilight.” Sirius pauses and glances at his watch: 2:12 a.m. “Okay, that’s it, sleep now.”
Regulus groans. “A bit more?”
“No more,” Sirius says firmly. “Sleep now.” He slides out of bed, tucks the covers back under Regulus’ chin. There is a long pause as Sirius gazes down at Regulus, his expression a strange combination of affection and murky significance. Eventually Sirius pulls away and walks from the bed.
“Sirius,” Regulus says softly, “aren’t you going to kiss me goodnight?”
Sirius turns around, something cold and curious in his eyes. He is suddenly aware of the cockiness in Regulus’ voice, the self-assuredness. This isn’t the naïve Regulus talking – the one kissing him in the photo. This is a Regulus who knows what he wants, who knows what he’s asked for and all it implies. Like that night, in the alley. Sirius ambles slowly towards his bed and looks down at the boy, an odd half-grin on his face.
There’s something in Regulus that reminds him of a gypsy. His skin is just dark enough; darker than Sirius’ in any case. His hair is similarly striking, a swath of messy black locks that frame his face perfectly. There’s a fierceness around the eyes too, something beautiful and not quite meant for this world. A sharpness, a tingle. There’s something loose and wild about him, a gypsy-like quality in both boy and behaviour.
“We can’t.” Sirius doesn’t sound sincere, not even to himself.
“Mother doesn’t have to know.” Regulus, twelve and thunderously proud, smiles at him, the crook in his smile full of mischief and dark possibilities.
“Okay,” Sirius mumbles, “g’night.” He leans down, his hair draping about his face as he kisses Regulus fleetingly on the lips, covering him in shadows and obscurity. Regulus, boy plenipotentiary, leans up as Sirius pulls away, and catches him in a second, more compelling kiss that brings Sirius’ hands down, to touch his brother’s chest, grip his shoulders gently, kiss him harder. Regulus squirms enjoyably as their kiss, like the tide rising, deepens and grows more desperate. Sirius wants to pull away, and he tastes of it; reluctance and shame. In the end though, he is stayed. Regulus’ smell and the soft skin of his stomach peeking from where his shirt has ridden up entices Sirius, fills him full of a liquor he’s not yet had. In a movement, Sirius crawls over Regulus, straddling his brother’s waist over the blankets, leaning down so he might kiss him more comfortably.
Regulus finally breaks from the kiss, breathless and excited. Sirius leans up making a soft perpendicular angle between them and casts a sympathetic look down at his brother. Regulus, starry-eyed, pulls his pyjama top over his head, exposing soft skin covered by the lightest pepper of freckles, his smooth stomach rising and falling with each gasping moment. Sirius blushes deeply, but finds Regulus’ guilty fingers coercing him until he too pulls off his shirt.
There is a difference between them, a dark difference. Regulus can’t be much smaller than Sirius, but his body betrays his looks – he is translucent, he is soft and his body catches the light and glows like silver. Quietness, gentleness, the final beautiful shape before he is cast into puberty. Sirius though, is hard – bones, muscles, angles. He is maturity; there is hair in his armpits, and soft wisps stretching from belted trousers to navel. When his arms reach down to stroke Regulus’ cheek, the muscles in his arms bulge like an athlete’s. His broad shoulders look strong, so much stronger than Regulus’ slim, dextrous limbs.
Compelled, Sirius leans down so he comes chest to chest with his brother, and kisses his lips gently, then faster, fervently. Regulus’ hands, no longer concerned around the back of Sirius’ neck, slide down, past hard nipples and slim stomach to his belt buckle, and he begins to loosen it unthinkingly. Sirius, shocked into movement by the sound, pushes himself away, flushing brightly.
“No, this is too –”
“What?” Regulus asks cockily. “I don’t mind, you know.”
“You’re twelve, you’re too young.
Regulus nearly spits. “Too young? Fuck all I’m too young.” Sirius looks at him darkly. “You can’t tell me what to do,” Regulus says, sneering. Sirius falls forward gracefully, catching himself on elbows at the last second. It is a deliberate movement, to make Regulus flinch, but Regulus doesn’t. He merely smirks, leaning up to give Sirius a snapping kiss.
“I can tell you what to do,” Sirius replies, his voice as husky as it had been at the bar, “I’m your brother.” Sirius’ dirty hands are under the covers, sliding Regulus’ pyjama bottoms down to his knees as Regulus undoes the zipper of Sirius’ jeans.
“It means more than this, doesn’t it?” Sirius asks, panting.
“We mean more than just –”
“Of course,” Regulus says, smiling. “Always.”
Frantic hands, night-blind eyes; whimpering, moaning – sleeping.
“Where are they?”
Regulus grins. “Excellent.”
The actions are fast and blurred. Regulus undoes Sirius’ trousers as Sirius peels his shirt off. Regulus, in just a t-shirt and shorts is undressed quickly and immediately pressed grunting to the wall as Sirius kisses the back of his neck with dark red lips.
“I don’t want you spending so much time with Sirius, he’s a bad influence on you, my darling.”
“No – I love him, and don’t you dare try and keep me from him.”
Remus glances once at the ornate gold clock in the hallway: 1:16 a.m. He has just returned from an evening with James, Remus, and Peter. It’s one of the few times the four can meet, as one of the four is always off travelling to Merlin-knows-where. Today they had flooed to Diagon Alley and spent the day wandering, playing, and, when bored, descending to bouts of mischief.
Sirius turns on the shower and undresses in silence, not wanting to wake neither his parents nor Regulus. He gets into the shower and begins to soap up when he hears the outer bathroom door creak open. He hears footsteps.
“Busy,” Sirius yells. “Don’t come in.”
The footsteps don’t stop. They’re nearing the inner bathroom door, the one leading into the shower and bath area.
“Busy,” Sirius says again.
The door creaks open. He can tell from size and shape that it is Regulus, and judging from the blur of the frosted glass, he is wearing a white t-shirt and his dark red pyjama bottoms.
“Regulus, I’m in here,” Sirius says with irritation.
A pause, a cough. “I know.” Regulus opens the shower door. His hair is messed all about, sticking up in places and lying oddly flat in others. He has that familiar crooked grin, the grin of a Caravaggio subject, all energy and cockiness. Sirius notices absently that Regulus is wearing his The Necromancers band t-shirt, which looks comically big over his scrawny form.
He also notices, this time very presently, that Regulus has stepped the shower, still fully clothed. He notices, with equal astuteness, that even as Regulus steps under the warm jet, t-shirt plastered and pale on his body, hair sent spiralling into went tendrils, water drenching and collecting on his long eyelashes, he has not looked from Sirius’ eyes, never once shifted his gaze. It comes as no surprise when he, on tiptoes, kisses Sirius on the mouth.
“Regulus – come here, my sweet.”
“Do you see? I was right.”
“Sirius – he’s gone without you. Didn’t he tell you he’d spend time with you today?”
“Yes, but –”
“And now he’s abandoned you.”
“No he – well – yes.”
“Bildungsroman is playing A Clockwork Orange tonight,” Regulus says to his brother, who is presently bent over his desk, writing a letter.
Sirius nods absently. “I saw the advert.”
“Want to see it?” Regulus grins broadly.
“Of course,” Sirius murmurs. “Not today, though.”
Regulus ignored him. “We’re going to have to go now to get there on time,” he says, his voice bright and clear. “C’mon.”
“I said another day, Regulus,” Sirius says impatiently, dipping his quill into the black ink before scribbling furiously across the parchment.
And then Regulus’ culpable hands are tickling the back of Sirius’ neck. Sirius freezes where he is as the hands crawl up, getting tangled in his long hair. It’s a proposition, a promise; Regulus’ soft kiss to the back of Sirius’ head, the warm murmurs in his ear. Goosepimples sprawl along his arms as Regulus’ hands slide down the front of Sirius’ shirt, grasping his belt when they reach Sirius’ waist. Sirius gasps and puts down his quill.
“Please, Regulus,” Sirius whimpers, “not tonight. I need to write this – it’s important.”
Regulus strides off without a word.
“Regulus, bring that bottle here.”
“Here you are, mother.”
“Darling, you look upset.”
“I’m not. I’m just – just angry.”
“It’s Sirius, isn’t it?”
“No – no – it’s okay. I’m fine. He’s fine. We – we’re fine.”
Sirius is lying on his stomach, naked, reading Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice. He’s on his bed, silk sheets comfortable under his body, and he squirms with pure childish pleasure. He flips through the book absently, though his attention is not focused on the words; his entire being concentrating on the slowly approaching footsteps. He hears his door creak open and those same soft footsteps pad across his room. He doesn’t turn from his book, lying as he was away from the door.
The footsteps stop just short of his bed and he hears Regulus take a few deep breaths.
“You’ve got a nice arse.”
Sirius sniggers and closes the book. He twists awkwardly to take a look at Regulus. The boy is naked and unashamed, stroking himself indolently, body half-covered in shadow. His face is a bit dirty, dirt smudged on his cheeks and forehead, which only served to make him appear even more reckless than his slim frame and slim, agile limbs did already.
He crawls onto the bed next to Sirius and slides two slim arms around Sirius’ waist.
“It’s my birthday tomorrow,” Regulus says softly.
“I know. Fourteen.”
“What’d you get me?” He squeezes tight around Sirius waist. Sirius extricates himself from Regulus’ grip and turns about in bed so he might face his brother. Face to face they’re both curled, gazing at each other affectionately.
“I dunno,” Sirius says, stroking Regulus’ dark hair inattentively. “What do you want?”
“Not much else you can give me,” Regulus says, cheekiness creeping into his voice.
“Mm,” Sirius murmurs sleepily, “I suppose not.”
Sirius is suddenly aware of his own pressing erection between two naked thighs, and Regulus’, half-hidden by the curve of his leg, and the short dark curl of his pubic hair. Regulus also seems engaged by their sudden attraction, and he dips one hand between Sirius’ thighs and cradles him, rubbing one finger along him as he does. The smirk on his face speaks volumes.
“Regulus,” Sirius says, “you know that this is more than just – just –” It’s just then that Sirius realises he’s never put a word to what they do; their dirty affection, their fumbling hands, gasping breaths, and moaning grunting screaming ends. It’s time, Sirius thinks to himself. “You know that this is about more than just sex.” The words leave his mouth in a mumbled fury, so desperate were they to emerge.
Regulus’ expression falters slightly. “I know that. We’re brothers, of course it’s more than sex.” His tone indicates a kind of subtle impatience, a ‘get on with it’ ideal.
“It’s just sometimes I wonder. I do this with you – yeah I like it, but I like spending time with you more. It’s just – we’re so – you’re me, yeah? You’re my brother. We’re so – we’re – you know what I mean, yeah?”
“I guess,” Regulus says in a drawling, half-bored tone.
“Then, can we just – lie together? Sleep?”
“Okay,” Regulus says in a blunt monotone.
“I love you,” Sirius assures him confidently.
“Yeah,” Regulus murmurs. “I love you too.”
“Darling, dearest, come here.”
Red fingernails along his cheek. Regulus smiles.
“You’re my sweetheart, my darling boy. Mother loves you, come here darling.”
Regulus sits beside her on the couch. He is wearing black pants – Sirius’ pants, he can fit in them now. His shirt is white – Oxford Cotton, unbuttoned to the last. He leans casually against the black leather couch and stretches back with adolescent apathy. Shadows dance across his face as the Venetian blinds rustle in the wind.
“Where is Sirius, Regulus?”
“He doesn’t tell you things?”
Regulus stares at the ceiling and makes a smacking noise with his tongue. “Naw.”
Regulus continues to stare at the ceiling.
“He doesn’t love you, you know. He doesn’t love anyone here – not anyone in his family.” She strokes his hair and Regulus makes an inconsequential noise. “He’s a nasty boy, I’m glad you’ve stopped spending so much time together.” Regulus makes another noise, something that sounded like a vague concurrence. “You’re a wonderful boy though, my beautiful Regulus.” Another noise. “Do you really think he loves you, Regulus? You think Sirius cares?”
“Cause we’re brothers.”
“You think that matters?”
“Yeh.” He pauses. “He cares.”
“He’s been giving you a hard time recently, hasn’t he?”
“Yeh. But he always has.” His voice was dirty and sullen.
“No,” Mother says, crooning softly in her son’s ear. “He has been harder on you now, hasn’t he?”
One month, Regulus thinks, two months and I’ll be fifteen. Sirius will be seventeen in one month, and he still thinks he’s better. He’s only thirteen months older than me, that’s no measure of greatness. “Well, yeh, but he’s just at that age, isn’t he?” At that age – Regulus and Sirius were going through the same changes, but if there’s one thing a teenager won’t admit is similarity.
“No – no, it’s because he knows you’re better.”
“Better at what?” Regulus asks, his voice clear, for once. “I’m not better than Sirius.” The last residues of that childish hero-worship clung to him like snowflakes on eyelashes.
“Of course you are, you have potential. And he’s jealous.”
“Jealous of what? Being younger? Being smaller? Being less-liked, is that it?” He turns to his mother, malice absent from his voice, but turmoil still ever-present.
“Jealous because you’ve been chosen.”
“I can’t say anything – it’s your own decision, but a letter arrived for you.” She hands him a letter. On the front is the glowing green imprint of the dark mark. “Read it, think it over, dearest. Don’t let Sirius tell you what to do – he’s got too much power over you already; he’s jealous. Mm, dearest? He’s jealous, yes.” She pets his soft black hair affectionately.
Regulus is lying on his bed, reading the letter for the hundredth time in an hour when Sirius arrives back home.
“Hey Reg,” Sirius says, leaning against the doorframe. “Mother’s on the war-path, don’t wanna stick around here. Wanna catch a movie? Bildungsroman is playing Cabaret tonight – what are you reading?”
“Nothing,” he replies hastily, sliding it under his pillow.
“Is that the – Regulus?”
“What does it matter to you?” Regulus says sharply.
“You’re joking. You’re fucking joking,” Sirius says. “You’re not actually –”
“I am, actually,” he says defensively.
“You’re fucking kidding me. No way, not my Regulus –”
“Oh shut up, Sirius. You’re just jea–”
“Fuck you, Regulus. Don’t even say it. Don’t you dare.”
Regulus turns his head away bitterly. Sirius could always do this, no matter what. No matter how confident Regulus was, how self-assured he was about his body, his mind, his strength; Sirius could always make him feel so small. A turn of the head, a twitch of the lips, a scowl or a frown and Regulus felt like a child, like the twelve-year-old who wanted desperately to kiss his god of a brother, like the teenager who met with this adolescent deity in dark corners so they could rub and fumble in shadows, like the boy who crawled in his brother’s bed so he could hear how much Sirius loved him. Regulus hates him for it.
Sirius takes a few calming breaths before he strides to Regulus’ bed side. He kneels by his head and gives him a rough kiss on the cheek. “You’re my brother, I love you – don’t do this.”
So small. So fucking small.
“C’mon, I’ll take you out, my treat.” Regulus snorts. It was always his treat.
“You can’t tell me what to do.” Regulus speaks slowly, deliberately, saying words he has said his entire life, but never has he meant them this much. He’s jealous of you – he wants to control you, his mother’s voice chimes dully in his head.
Sirius stares at him blankly. His expression doesn’t change as he gets up. “She’s changed you.”
“She’s hasn’t done shite. Sure she’s talked to me, sure she’s opened my eyes to new things, but it’s you who has damn well changed,” Regulus says with sudden furry. “You always had to make everything so – so fucking dramatic. Oh Regulus, I love you,” he mocks, “this is so important to me – this is so much more than – than sex.” His voice trembles on the last word.
“You – you’re a bastard, Regulus.”
“So what if I am?”
Sirius is silent for a long time, and then, “Did you ever love me?”
Regulus doesn’t reply.
Sirius steps slowly away. “I – I’m going.” He leaves the room and Regulus watches him go. He watches from the window as Sirius leaves the house, hands deep in his black coat pockets, black hair blowing around his head, scarf flapping in the wind like a broken crow’s wing.
Regulus doesn’t know what to feel – guilt, anger, sadness? They all seemed so foreign, watching Sirius tread quickly from 12 Grimmauld. He doesn’t know if he should feel bad for saying what constituted so obvious a lie. He did, of course, love Sirius. He loved him in that roundabout, unwilling way. He loved him as you need to love a brother – angrily, frustratingly, presently. But Sirius was stubborn. He wanted Regulus to retain that childlike aspect, the total and blinding admiration Regulus had for him at twelve or thirteen, when it was more than sex, and Sirius was his everything. But now, almost fifteen, his freckles were fading, his chin felt rough, and the downy once-gold hairs on his arms and legs were steadily turning black. He was becoming a man, and those feelings of devotion and desperate longing for Sirius were so far in the past Regulus could scarce recall them, no matter how hard he tried.
He sighs and gazes out the window. Sirius has turned the corner and is gone. Regulus sighs again. This was just a stupid fight, he thinks to himself. We’ll sort things out eventually – he’ll learn to trust me, to respect me, not as a worshipper but an equal.
Yes, that’s it. Regulus would apologize, and Sirius would reciprocate, seeing what a strong man was emerging in his brother. They would be in love, but it would be a newborn love, an evolution of their previous fidelity.
They would apologize and then everything would be okay again. They were brothers after all. They needed each other. Brothers.
Remus cleans up Sirius’ room after – after that night. He does it in tears, taking breaks every so often, sitting on the edge of the bed, head in his hands. The room has a claustrophobic feel to it, like the roof, which once must have been so noble, so gaunt, is reaching down, strings of cobwebs dancing about the ceiling and creeping down the walls. The paint on the walls is peeling, a sickly yellow colour. Remus collects the books from the shelf – The Flannelled Fool, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Sandel, A Separate Peace, The Thief’s Journal – and puts them in a bag. He finds ancient movie stubs and receipts, which he puts in the waste-paper basket.
When he cleans under the bed, he finds dust bunnies and spider webs and – a picture frame. The glass in it is broken, and the frame looks like it had been repaired sloppily. Remus falls back against the bedside table. There, grinning bright and fair are Sirius and Regulus. Sirius is facing the camera a crooked smile on his face, one of pure happiness. Regulus has his arms around Sirius’ neck and is kissing him, upturned nose squashed against Sirius’ face. It’s easy to see how alike they were, from beautiful arched eyebrows to slightly upturned nose. And those eyes, dark and round, with beautiful long eyelashes, those were the same too.
For a moment Remus thinks that they might have been more similar than they seemed. They had the same look, the same glance, the same heat and fire in those eyes, after all. He looks at the photo again. No, he says to himself, they couldn’t have been. No.
He gives a weak smile and continues to clean.