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22 November 2011 @ 11:28 am
Camp Rome [Harry Potter] PART 1/2  
Title: Camp Rome PART 1/2
Fandom: Harry Potter
Pairing: Remus/Sirius
Rating: R
Warnings: Hard drug use, Major character illness, Major character death, Suicide, (Off-screen) Noncon
Word Count: 13,265

Summary: AU: Remus kills Severus and is sent to an internment camp in his fourth year at Hogwarts. James never forgives Sirius, and Sirius transfers to Durmstrang. At the end of the war, Sirius and Remus strike up an unlikely friendship that rapidly becomes something much more.

Thanks: Thanks so much to brighty18 who used her valuable time to for me, and to mindabbles who volunteered to do so before her computer exploded. Thanks also to dogsunderfoot for talking me down off a ledge when the going got tough. Finally, thank you to the LJ community ficfinishing

Author's Notes: Written for rs_games 2011 Team Sirius, Prompt: 19 - "It is not down in any map; true places never are." - Herman Melville and originally posted here.

Camp Rome PART 1

It was a simple mistake, but it changed everything. If I could take it back, I would. If I could take it back, I’m sure Remus and I would be living in a Chelsea flat. James and Lily would bring their sprog around on Sunday evenings. I ruined that. I ruined that. I ruined everything the night I told Snape how to get past the Whomping Willow.

There is still, however, a Chelsea flat involved. It’s where I sleep. I might have said that it’s where I live, except what I do there could hardly be called living. I do shower from time to time, and I always shaved before my visits to the Camp. I eat, I drink-- perhaps much more than I should. I used to do the harder stuff, snorted a Muggle drug once-- heroin-- but Remus put an end to all that. I had to stay alive, he said. For him.

Ah, Remus. This brings us around to the story I was planning to tell in the first place.

Everyone in the Wizarding world has heard by now of the famous case of the Hogwarts Werewolf, I’m sure. The Hogwarts Werewolf and Remus Lupin are the very same. Anyone who was alive and aware during the scandalous events of Spring 1975 will likely recall the story of how a Hogwarts student came to be killed by another, the latter being a werewolf that Dumbledore had, in full knowledge of his condition, admitted into the school. The press was eager to call Remus-- a best friend of mine at the time-- a monster, but I was the real monster. I was the one who had set it all up.

It really is impossible to guess how things could have gone differently if Severus Snape hadn’t been killed. He really was a bad sort, and I have no doubt he would have fallen in with the Dark Lord’s legions eventually, but despite that, the evil I brought about by this thoughtless action far exceeds any good I can claim it to have had.

The real after-effects were threefold. First, my best mate James Potter ceased speaking to me. He did not go so far as to turn me over to Dumbledore and hence get me kicked out of school, but I hardly could have blamed him if he had done. As it was, I was so ashamed and alone at Hogwarts that I transferred to Durmstrang for my fifth through seventh years. It wasn’t a bad place. I did make friends there, and was able to leave much of my looming guilt behind me for a time. However, I was unable to simply forget the past because of the third-- and most grievous-- result of my thoughtlessness. Remus Lupin was not only ejected from Hogwarts, but incarcerated in an internment camp for werewolves, Camp Rome in the Black Country near the town of Brownhills. I had hardly heard of the place then. It was to become my life.

The war brought me back to England. I don’t think there’s any need to recount the war itself, as you’ve likely read about it in the papers. Dumbledore accepted me eagerly into the effort, and it was as a member of his Order of the Phoenix that I learned of the marriage of James Potter and Lily Evans, and that they were expecting a sprog. James and I never spoke. It was evident he had not forgiven me. Evans, I knew, never would. It was a glimpse of what might-have-been for me-- I could have had them as friends. As it was, I felt awkward enough having them as allies. Dumbledore never assigned us together and I gather this was by some request on their part. I also never shook the feeling that Dumbledore did know what I’d done in fourth year. He knew my guilt. I sometimes wondered if everyone did.

Maybe that’s why I did it, I don’t know. I told myself at the time that it was curiosity and not guilt, but it might have been something in between or something else besides. Regardless of my mysterious motives, when the war was over I Floo’d to Brownhills and began inquiries about the visiting hours and policies at Camp Rome. I was gratified to learn that visitations there did exist, though the hours were somewhat limited. The day after I’d first gone to Brownhills, I visited Camp Rome for the first time. I visited him for the first time.

Remus was not as I remembered him, but then almost six years had passed and likely I was not as he remembered me either. The first moments were painfully awkward; they sat us in a small tent outside of the main grounds, guards surrounding us. A small line of blue flames flickered on the floor between two plain chairs-- a magical barrier. Whether it kept werewolves in or visitors out I never did determine.

I remember that the summer that year was particularly warm, and the tent was not cooled in the least. Judging by the sweat stains on Remus’s clothes-- a neck-to-floor black and grey striped robe-- the camp itself was not significantly cooler. A sat in the wooden chair on my side of the tent, feeling exposed. He sat on his side. There was a strange unreadable expression on his face. And then he spoke.

"You don’t have to apologize," he said softly.

Until he said those words, I didn’t realize that I had come to apologize. Once he had, though, I realized I had nothing to say aside from an apology. "Remus..." I started.

"It was my fault, really. I should never have gone to Hogwarts. If something seems too good to be true, it usually is." He was smiling now, but the expression was still joyless. "Either way, nothing can change the past. I don’t blame you; you don’t need to come here any more. There’s nothing to be gained in torturing yourself."

I wondered if he took his own advice. Judging by the self-recrimination he had displayed only moments before, I doubted it. I decided it was best for us to ignore the subject of the past. Instead I asked what, in retrospect, seemed like a ridiculous question: "Are they treating you well here?"

He shrugged. "There’s nothing terribly shocking to report. They aren’t harvesting body parts for scientific experiments, if that’s what you’re asking." I honestly didn’t know what I was asking, so I let it slip. Remus continued, thankfully on a new subject. "James told me you were back. He warned me you might try to come here."

I felt my heart sink. I was not surprised that James and Remus still owled. I was not surprised that James thought my presence in required some kind of advance warning. I must confess, though, that I was disappointed. There’s nothing like having everyone you’ve ever cared about-- everyone who has ever cared about you-- against you.

Remus must have seen something on my face, because he seemed to relax a bit. "I’m glad you came," he said. I knew it was a lie, but I appreciated the attempt at something resembling friendship.

"I am too," I lied back.

"You won your war," Remus said, and I was shocked to realize that the war hadn’t reached into the confines of Camp Rome. The war had extended its bloody fingers into nearly every aspect of Wizarding society, but one thing both Purebloods and Muggle-borns could agree upon was the detestable nature of the werewolf. To Remus, it wouldn’t matter who was in charge of the Ministry.

I nodded, though, and searched the small tent for our next topic of conversation, as if I might see a script written on the wall. Not surprisingly, none showed itself.

After another moment of awkward silence, I bid goodbye to Remus and Camp Rome. In that moment, I remember actually thinking that I would never be back there, that I was glad to have it behind me. I felt my duty fulfilled. Remus later confessed that he didn’t expect to see me again either.

Have two souls in the entire world ever been more wrong?

------

I didn’t get a job; I didn’t need one. I was living off of my parents’ money. My brother had died in the war and my parents hadn’t thought past burning me off the family tree. They hadn’t written me out of their will. I have to assume to this day that this was some oversight. A war was on and perhaps my mother and father had not expected to be on the losing side. Maybe they assumed they would get to the solicitor someday after the war ended. Regardless, they hadn’t, and their money was a fortune. I took absurd delight in spending it on whatever I knew they wouldn’t have approved of, from a Muggle motorbike to those men who drift through the back streets of London in the wee hours selling their bodies for a five pound note.

It was from one of these that I met my best friend and worst enemy, heroin. I never got as far as those street-side junkies who shot up with shared needles. I stopped with snorting, though it’s hard to know what exactly would have happened if not for Remus. I’m sure, drifting and aimless as I was in life, I would have sought greater pleasures at the expense of all else.

It’s hard even now to remember why I ever decided to return to Camp Rome. It was near Christmas and I was wallowing in guilt about the fact that I hadn’t even a kind neighbor with whom to pretend to share the holiday. I had plans-- as much as they count for plans-- to go to a Muggle cinema and take in some movie. I told myself I would be rebelling against tradition by having popcorn for my Christmas dinner. When I finally left my flat to wander into the snowy world, though, I didn’t go to the cinema. Instead, I Apparated directly to Brownhills.

It’s a small town but not a dead place. It had not changed in the six months since my last visit except that instead of being submerged in sweltering heat it was walled about by cold winds. Even on Christmas a few shops were open and some of the country folk had decided to eat out in the pub on the main street for Christmas dinner. I stopped in there and got some food take away before walking the chilly mile over dead grasses to Camp Rome. I could have Apparated-- perhaps should have, because the pub food was cold by the time I arrived-- but the walk did me some good and gave me time to prepare what I might say to Remus.

The tent also had not changed, though there was a warming fire on my side. I hoped Remus could feel the heat from it as well. When I asked the guard whether Remus could have my food, I was surprised that he didn’t protest. The guard took it from me silently, opened it to ensure it was nothing more than I had claimed, and passed it across the line to the guard on the other side. This guard delivered it to Remus without comment. I watched this with trepidation as if something might go horrible wrong, but Remus watched with amusement in his eyes. When he finally opened the take away, he couldn’t hide his ravenous appetite. I wondered whether they were feeding him enough as he tore into the chips with curry sauce.

"Merry Christmas," I said, interrupting his eating and feeling terribly pleased with myself for my Christmas charity.

Remus stopped immediately, licking his lips. "Is it?" he asked.

"Haven’t you got calendars here?"

Remus stared blankly at me for a second before shaking his head. "They feed us different food on different days of the week. It passes for a calendar, but it doesn’t tell the holidays."

"Didn’t James owl then?"

Remus shook his head again. "He has his own concerns. I’m sure you do as well."

I laughed at this. The idea that I had anything at all with which to concern myself was ludicrous.

I noticed then that Remus was looking at me strangely. "What?" he asked. It occurred to me that he might have thought I was laughing at him.

Sobering up a bit, I clarified why I was laughing. "Remus," I started, "All my family is dead, not that I’m mourning them. I haven’t got any friends. I was planning on spending Christmas at the cinema by myself. You may think I’m coming here out of guilt, but mostly I haven’t anywhere else to go." I smiled, trying to not sound pathetic or self-pitying. I didn’t really even feel self-pity. This was simply the facts of my life as I saw them, and I knew I had only myself to blame.

Remus didn’t seem to react for a long time. He was watching me and I imagined he was weighing my response to judge its truthfulness. His only answer was, "I can speak to James. Maybe he’ll--"

I waved this off. "James and I are ancient history. He thinks I’m evil incarnate."

Remus did smile at that. "I must say the things he says about you in his letters are less than flattering."

There was a place deep down inside where this statement still had the power to wound me. I thought I hid it well, but apparently not as well as I had hoped, since Remus responses, "Sirius, he’s wrong. The things he says about you-- if he took even ten minutes to speak to you he’d know he was wrong."

Maybe the worst part of this conversation was that I didn’t believe Remus; I was quite sure James was right about most things, and especially about me. I shrugged, unable to voice these fears.

I don’t recall exactly how that visit ended, but I left feeling worse than when I had arrived. I remember keenly thinking that I didn’t deserve a friend like Remus and that I certainly didn’t deserve his forgiveness. I didn’t go to the cinema. Instead, I went home and got pissed until I passed out on my bed.

We went on like this for longer than I like to admit. That was a dark time for me. Perhaps for Remus as well, from afar. I visited Remus once a month or so through the year, but it seemed to me that my time with him only highlighted how empty the rest of my life was, how little I believed in my own innocence. Every month after I visited Remus I told myself I never would again. And yet every month like clockwork my life would grow too empty for me and I would seek our Remus. I hated myself for this; for the fact that I needed Remus in my life in order to fill me up. Maybe it was some misguided sense of chivalry, but I thought I needed to find myself some other crutch. Remus didn’t deserve to have me leaning on him after everything else I’d already done to him.

That’s what led me first to alcohol and then to pot, but when they were not enough I turned to heroin. And still, it didn’t help much, though it did help at times. I convinced myself that my dealers were my ‘friends’, that they were looking out for me in some sick and twisted way. I even told Remus that I had been making new friends. I told myself that he was happy for me. That tells you something about how blind I was-- he was anything but happy for me, but by that point I was so sunk into myself and my own delusions of stability and prosperity that I could hardly see my hand in front of my face.

For me, the wake up call came nearly an entire year after that Christmas visit. It wasn’t quite Christmas, but it was close enough that I fancied myself ‘in the spirit’. I went to visit Remus while high as a kite. I don’t know if I thought he wouldn’t notice or if I thought he wouldn’t care. I don’t think I was thinking much of anything at all. Once in the tent, which was cold enough that I could see my breath as I spoke, I prattled on about who-knows-what to a silent Remus for nearly an hour. I only know how much time it was because the guard warned us that we had only a few minutes left, and they only allowed us an hour then. I slammed my mouth shut, suddenly realizing that Remus had said no more than five words in all that time.

When I did finally look at him-- I mean really look at him-- I noticed a deep sadness in his eyes. "What?" I asked. "What’s wrong?"

Remus shook his head, sighed, and then spoke. To this day I have not forgotten the exact words he said: "Sirius, please don’t kill yourself. You’re the only real friend that I have, and I need you. Stay alive."

By the time I’d managed to get my tongue moving again, the guard was already escorting Remus out of the room. I left, stunned.

I would like to be able to say that I never touched heroin again after that day, but that would be a lie. It’s simply not as easy as that to kick such a habit, especially when I believed it wasn’t detrimental to me. I did get there in the end, however. It was mid-summer by the time I was fully clean with an intention to stay that way.

As for Remus, I’d wanted to ask him time and again at our visits what he had meant when he said those fateful words. Didn’t he have James as well? Had he made no friends in all of his years in Camp Rome? Every time I nearly did ask, I lost my nerve and ended up sputtering off into some other useless question. I don’t think it was really the presence of Remus that brought out this shameful cowardly streak in me. Rather, I think it was the guard. I never could shake the feeling that he was listening to our every word, and it didn’t seem like a topic we should share with him. Was Remus likewise so deprived of privacy in the camp?

I don’t know if this was my motive or if it was just idle curiosity, but around that time I began to take out books on werewolf law and werewolf detention camps. I wanted to understand Remus’s daily experiences about which he never spoke unless directly questioned. Even when asked, he gave the barest minimum answers. I also needed know every last one of Remus’s rights and whether there was any way I could extend them. I owed it to him as I’d put him in Camp Rome, but that wasn’t my real impetus. We had become even closer friends now than we had been in school, and I would have helped any close friend as best I could.

Unfortunately, I found nothing. It seemed we were already taking full advantage of the freedoms afforded the denizens of Camp Rome. Visiting Remus in that small tent in the full view of the guards was considered a luxury, and I imagined the Wizengmot patting themselves on their backs for their generosity. The deeper I delved into the legal documentation, the more disgusted I became with the Wizarding society I had fought to save. Granted, with Bella and her bloody Dark Lord in charge it could only have been worse, but things needed to change.

Not, mind you, that I thought I was the one to change them. Perhaps before the war, before I had sent Remus to Camp Rome, I might have believed I could change the world for the better-- but I wasn’t exactly thinking about ‘the world’ then. I had spent most of that time thinking about the style of my hair.

It was, in the end, frustration that drove me to the Potters’ door. I knew I was as likely to get punched in the face as anything else, but I also knew that Lily Evans Potter was one of the top solicitors involved in helping disenfranchised members of Wizarding society push for greater political freedom. That meant that finding a loophole around these bloody werewolf detention laws was basically her job. For all I knew, she might already know of one. It was a risk I had to take.

I timed my visit specifically so that James would not be home. He was the one likely to punch me, though I knew I still had to be careful of the hexes that I knew Evans was capable of. As I was standing on the doorstep it occurred to me that I might have tried polyjuice or simply writing her under a pseudonym, but I was here and running away now would be cowardice. So, I knocked on the door.

It seemed to take her a long time to arrive at the door, but when she did I was not terribly surprised to see the business end of her wand pointed right into my face. "Pleasant morning, Evans," I said calmly. She wouldn’t just cut me down on her doorstep in broad daylight, right?

"What do you want, Black?" She spat my name like it was a curse, and I hate to admit that I did flinch.

"I just want to talk." Even as I said this, I was regretting the entire trip. She wasn’t even going to give me a moment to explain. "Can I come in?"

"You can do your talking right here or not at all," she snapped.

"Alright..." At least it was something. At least she had given me the moment to speak. From there, I launched into the short version of a longer story: how I had come to be friends with Remus, and how I wanted to help him.

Evans did not seem mollified. "You lock him up in that hellhole, and then you think you’re the only one who can save him from it? How self-important can you be? Do you think James and I haven’t tried to find a work-around?"

I stepped back and raised my hands defensively. "Whoa. Look, Evans, I came here specifically because I assumed you had looked into it."

"Well you needn’t have bothered," she snapped. "There’s nothing that can be done unless you can turn back time or marry the bloke." The door slammed so hard that I heard their small child start screaming in response. I tucked my head down and began to walk away. If anyone had looked at me out of the window-- and I doubted that Evans would even bother unless it was to make sure she didn’t have to call in the Aurors or something-- I would have seemed dejected and disappointed.

Inside, though, I felt anything but. In fact, Evans had inadvertently given me the answer. She definitely had a point-- if I could somehow go back in time and undo the past, I could save Remus from all this mess. The only reliable method of time travel that I knew of, though, the Time Turner, simply did not function that way. There would be too much I would have to relive. Besides, as selfish as it seems now, we had won the war and I was honestly afraid that if I were to change the past I could be undoing that victory. There was a part of me that had never once doubted that Severus Snape deserved to die-- it was that same part of me that didn’t regret what had happened to Remus. It wasn’t a part that I flaunted for the world to see, but I secretly thought Potter and Evans knew about it, could read it as if it were written on my face, and were thus justified in all of their treatment of me. I felt that Remus knew about it, too, but that was different somehow. He had never asked me to apologize and I never had done. I didn’t think he would want me to go back in time.

The other option, though... I have to admit that in all my browsing of laws and texts, the idea had not come to me. I didn’t recall it having been mentioned in those texts. Clearly Evans had discovered something I hadn’t.

And thus I returned to my research with renewed vigor. Now I had a direction, something specific to look for in my reading.

It wasn’t written in the wizarding laws, nor was it mentioned in the wizarding law texts I had been ruthlessly devouring for weeks now. Rather, I found my breakthrough in Muggle history texts of Ireland. I could never have found it without Evans’ help, as vague as it had been. The idea, though, was brilliant. Following World War I, the Muggle English had kept Irish Republicans in internment camps to try and quell their rebellion. They were not considered prisons; the denizens were granted certain rights, but not full rights. The Wizengmot set up Dangerous Creatures Camps only decades later in order to prevent werewolves and vampires from aiding Grindledore in his quest for power. The fact that the wizarding camps were modeled after he Muggle camps of decades before, though, was not a secret. Apparently many wizards had objected to following any Muggle model at all and had opposed the creation of these camps. Ironic, I thought, that my grandfather had used pureblood supremacy to try and block the creation of the Dangerous Creatures Camps that were now the bane of my friend’s existence, and by extension, my own.

The Dangerous Creature Camps had in their original charter, as a result, the apparently benign statement that all right afforded the occupants of Muggle British internment camps would likewise be afforded to occupants of the wizarding equivalent. It was a statement I had seen before, and I had already researched the earlier Muggle internment camps, but I had not spent very much time on them. I though I’d find the answer in some obscure wizarding Creatures legislation.

But there is was, in black and white ink in the fifth amendment to the Muggle British internment charter: "Occupants shall be allowed to marry and be given in marriage as long as their marriage meets all legal requirements of marriage in the jurisdictions in which the camp is located. In addition, they shall be allowed private time with the person they marry." Hurrah! If Remus and I married, he would have to be permitted time alone with me-- without a guard. Time out of the eye of the guards wasn’t much, but it was something at least.

Even if the wizarding courts did not feel inclined to hold up their part of this bargain, I did have something that had been inspiring unlikely empathy in wizarding courts since Ancient Egypt: money. I had quite a lot of it, actually. Generations of loose spending could not have drained the riches of the House of Black. I secretly delighted in the idea of spending my parents' pureblood money in order to secure some little freedoms for a halfblood werewolf, but that was really just an added bonus.

Then I realized there was one part of my brilliant plan that I had not even considered. Muggle readers might think that out both being men would have been a major barrier to this plan, but Wizarding courts have been recognizing same-sex marriage for-- oh, well at least since before I was born. It was common in many wizard societies in ancient times, and though it is not common in modern Britain, wizards have always been determined to stand upon tradition.

That wasn't the issue at all. Rather, the issue was that I was a poofter and Remus... well, I was fairly sure that Remus was not. It's not as if our private visits would be about sex, though. We were just friends, after all. But Remus might not like the attachment. I just wanted to talk to him alone a bit, and this entire mad idea was probably overkill. Wouldn't it just have been easier to bribe a guard or something? But I would have had to bribe several guards on many occasions, and it seemed to me that was its own can of worms. One loud-mouthed guard could send me to prison as well. I’ve never been one to be concerned about the legality of my decisions, but I didn’t want to be separated from Remus. Even then, it was a desire I could not name, and I had the motivation for the first time in my life to try and follow the rules as best I could. I needed to keep my nose clean, and I’d found a way to do that and get what I wanted at the same time.

I didn’t think about it until later, so I won’t pretend it was part of my decision-making process-- much as I wish it had been-- but there was another excellent reason to go with the more complex plan: it would set a precedent for werewolves, wizards, and witches everywhere.

------

I hated this feeling. I knew I was proposing a legal workaround and not a marriage, but nevertheless my palms were sweaty and my heart raced as I climbed the last hill behind which Camp Rome hid. I had Floo’d in early, leaving room for a long walk in the crisp early-autumn weather. I’d had some notion that such a walk would calm my nerves, but it had done little towards that end. I knew I would simply have to get this over with the hard way.

It was the same tent I had met Remus in countless times, the same line of flame separating us. The guard might have been one I had seen before or not; I didn’t pay much attention to them. Their faces blurred together into the same uninterested and glazed eyes, the same square chin, and the same overfed haunches hiding bristly wrestler’s muscles. They were nameless automatons to me, faceless time-keepers. I hated the guards.

Despite the sameness of the entire situation, everything felt different to me that day. Remus looked different-- expectant? Surely that was my imagination. I sat, my leg tapping nervously.

"You are up to something." Remus broke the silence auspiciously with these words.

"I’m-- Am--." My throat choked off my voice. I wanted to protest, but in fact I was up to something. The guard seemed to lean in, more intent on the conversation than usual. They had already taken my wand from me at the door; what could the guard possibly fear?

"Look, um," I restarted awkwardly. "I know this idea is rubbish, but I was thinking... if you are I got-- if we, you know, tied the knot-- you could be free from the goon squad," I indicated the guard with a sweep of my head, "For a few hours a fortnight at least."

Remus said nothing. I sneaked a peak at him from under my long fringe. He was watching me intently, his mouth set in a straight and un-telling line.

"I know it’s a stupid idea," I added. "You can laugh at me. I won’t mind."

Remus, though, did not laugh. He watched me eerily.

"Right, so..."

Remus turned to the guard. "I think I’d like to go back now," he said politely. The guard nodded, and in moment Remus was gone. I sat alone with my wounded pride and met the other guard at the entrance. I wasn’t sure what had happened, but I could be sure of what hadn’t happened. Remus had not liked my hair-brained plan.

The time between that awkward proposal and my next visit to Camp Rome two weeks later crawled by unnervingly. I was almost relieved to sit down across from Remus again and carry on a normal conversation. It wasn’t as smooth as it had been; we discussed the weather of all things. When a moment of silence fell between us, Remus cleared his throat and began to speak:

"I owled James," he started. "I told him... about what you said last time."

"Oh." I pursed my lips. I had rather hoped we’d avoid this topic altogether, hope it had never happened, but clearly that was not in the cards.

Remus shook his head, but he was smiling just a tad. "James thinks you’re using me. He called you a few choice names. He really doesn’t think very highly of you."

"Yeah", I said. "Tell me something I don’t know. I can’t blame you if you do whatever he thinks is best. He’s been a better friend to you than I have." I sagged a bit when he didn’t appear likely to refute my claim. I don’t know what I’d been hoping for, but alienation from everyone had never been my plan.

Remus continued on a new tack: "Sirius, there’s something I need to know before I can give you an answer regarding your offer. You have to answer me truthfully. Do you promise?"

I promised, and I meant it.

"Do you feel guilty about putting me in here?"

I thought about my answer a long time. I knew there would be repercussions from whatever I said, and I wasn’t sure if I was ready to face them. But I also knew I had to answer him.
"I’m not sure," I answered truthfully. "I feel bad that you ended up here, but... if I had to do it all over again, I don’t think I would do anything differently." My face and heart fell together. I was disappointing him yet again. "There was a war coming..." I offered feebly.

"And you considered my sacrifice just another en route to winning that war?"

Unable to look at him, I nodded.

"Don’t you think that should have been my decision to make?"

"Right," I muttered sarcastically. "Because if I had said, ‘think it would be great to kill Snivellus with me?’ you would have jumped at the opportunity. What can I say? I did what I thought was right."

"And you still think it was the right thing to do?" Remus asked.

I shrugged. "I think it happened and it’s in the past." I did finally look up when I said, "I wish I’d had the balls to simply kill him with my own hands and leave you out of it. But I don’t regret that he’s dead."

"That’s why James and Lily can’t forgive you," Remus stated.

"Don’t care," I answered. "It’s not their consciences that I have to live with. It’s mine."

Remus cracked a smile. "You are a selfish son-of-a-bitch."

I shrugged again. I was a lot of things, but I was never apologetic for who I was.

"Thank you for the honest answer."

I nodded. "So I guess I’d better leave now."

"Don’t you want my answer?"

"I already know it. I just admitted I’d do this to you again if I needed to. I don’t really need to wait around to know how you feel about it."

Remus surprised me then-- more than he had ever before in my life. "Sirius," he said gently, "If I thought you were offering out of pity or remorse, I couldn’t accept your offer. Now, though, I know you don’t feel those things. That’s what worried James-- that you were offering in order to seek absolution."

I felt outrage. "I was offering to help a friend. Sad to say, but my motives are hardly ever more complex than they seem."

Remus nodded. "In that case, I accept."

------

The ceremony itself was small. The court and judge, as I predicted, had bowed to a bit of financial persuasion and were satisfied that as long as we didn’t do anything ridiculous like report the entire thing to the Prophet it would do no harm and set no real precedent. I hoped they were wrong, but I also knew I wasn’t going to jeopardize anything by waving a red flag in front of them. I didn’t like the Prophet anyway.

The ceremony was held in that same tent where Remus and I always met. Our witnesses were the beefy guards and the blue flame. I had never thought I’d get married, honestly, and certainly not to someone with whom I had no discernible romantic connection. It bothered me less than I thought it should. I had no friends and was not likely to find any kind of spouse among my former drug dealer associates, and Remus’s prospects were probably worse than my own.

Only as the judge pronounced us married did it occur to me that I hadn’t so much as touched Remus, not even a handshake, since the day I’d sent him here. Suddenly, there was nothing I wanted more.

Luckily for me, I didn’t have to wait long. The guards escorted us out of the tent, each going our separate ways. They led me back into their main offices where they unceremoniously required that I strip. I was searched thoroughly by both magic and rough, gloved guards’ hands. Following the search, they gave me a simple grey tweed robe to put own and led me back out into the cool fall air. I shivered, naked under the itchy robe. Next, they brought me to a small building. It looked like perhaps it was a stone storage shed of some sort. They opened the door and dumped me unceremoniously inside. I registered the lock behind me clicking just a moment after I realized that I was not alone.

"Remus," I whispered. This was the first time I had seen him in years without that eerie blue glow of the flame between us. I didn't realize until that moment that the sallow look of his skin was not an artifact of the indigo flame.

He had evidently been dumped just as unceremoniously into the small one-room building as I had, minus the strip search. The room was small and cinder-blocks painted white. It was cold, though a very old stove appeared to have been haphazardly shoved into the corner. It was not lit and gave out no heat, and I wondered how either of us were supposed to start it without a wand. The floor was the same cold stone, and my feet were bare and cold against it. Remus at least had been left with his camp clothes-- shoes included. He sat on a low and rusty cot. The sheets on it were stained with something that looked suspiciously like blood. I decided it had been requisitioned from the infirmary for this new use. There was a sink and toilet as well. On the floor next to the toilet there was a small pile of old condoms and even a half-used tube of lube. I was momentarily happy we would not be using them-- they didn’t seem like they would hold up very well. The afternoon light filtered in from small barred windows near the ceiling, and there was no light source besides this. Nevertheless, perhaps because of the whiteness of everything in the room, this was plenty of light to see by.

Remus was watching me silently from his perch on the cot's flattened mattress. I felt awkward. Minutes before, I had been aching to touch him. Now, I almost felt like running away. Instead, I cleared my throat and asked "How long do we have?"

Remus shrugged. "They didn't say anything to me."

I nodded. Evidently we'd better make use of the time we had, since they hadn't seen fit to let us know how much time that would be. I sat down on the cot and it creaked underneath me, but it seemed secure enough to hold the weight of two people. I folded my legs under me to try and keep my feet warm and fought the child-like urge to sink my arms into the sleeves and huddle in upon myself in the tweed robe.

"Lovely new outfit you've got there, Sirius," Remus said.

I shrugged, not really in the mood to dwell on the current... situation. Well, there was one part of it on which I was happy to dwell. I snaked out an arm and roughly hugged Remus to my side.

He made a noise in his throat that I could not decipher. Only then did Remus and the situation I had put him in feel genuinely real to me. "I am sorry," I whispered. "I never meant to hurt you."

"The road to hell was paved with good intentions," Remus said with a soft smile. I still hadn't let him go.

"But I doubt the road to heaven is paved with the bad," I responded.

"No," he said, carefully extracting himself from my embrace. "Without a doubt, good intentions are the most you can ask of someone. Though a bit of forethought rarely hurts."

I laughed, feeling as though I had finally received the absolution I hadn't known I had been searching for. I felt a pang of shame, wondering if James had been right about me all along. Remus seemed to anticipate my thoughts. "Was that the conversation you've been aching to have with me in private?"

"No," I answered quickly. "There's no specific conversation I've been angling for. It's more the concept of privacy in general."

Remus nodded, but then silence fell between us. It was more awkward than I had expected. "So," I sighed. "We're married, you and I." I guess I had been hoping that the comment would break the strange glass wall growing invisibly between us, but it did the opposite. The silence grew thicker, more desperate to be filled.

"Did you ever think you'd marry a man?" Remus asked quietly.

"No," I answered too quickly. "Not the man bit, though. The marriage bit. I can't imagine settling down," I confessed.

"Oh?" Remus's eyebrow went up. "Do you have a lot of women? I mean, out there?" The nod of his head was meant to indicate the world outside Camp Rome, I imagined.

I shook my head. "It's always been men for me, Remus. I thought you knew that."

His cheeks pinked a bit before he reiterated his question. "Have you got a lot of men, then?"

I shrugged. "I've made do. When I was high..." I didn't think I had to tell Remus about that. He had seen it in action, a bit. "It was a convenient way to pay for drugs," I admitted. "Not that I don't also have the money, but paying that way made me feel more like it was a necessity than a privilege."

Remus shrugged one shoulder uncomfortably and I guessed he knew what was coming. "What about you?" I asked. "What's it like in there? Do you... have relationships?" I didn't think Remus would be the type to simply have sex, so the question seemed valid to me.

His laugh was cynical and pained. "Camp Rome is entirely about relationships," he confessed, "Though probably not the sort you are thinking of. You wouldn't want to know. You wouldn't understand."

I shook my head. "No, I probably can’t understand. But I don’t think that means I shouldn’t want to know."

Remus seemed to consider this for a moment. "You can’t judge," he said finally. "You of all people haven’t the right to judge me for what goes on here."

The words stung, not because I thought I might judge him, but because it was unlike Remus to hold the past over my head. He seemed to realize what he had said or how it had hurt me because he quickly added, "I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it like that."

"I deserve it any way you mean it," I answered flatly.

"It’s just... if you want to know the truth," he sighed, "I can’t go more than a day without judging myself for what goes on here. I’m... afraid of what you’ll think."

"You don’t have to tell, then."

"I will," Remus answered. "Not today, but someday I will. I promise."

Suddenly, there was a firm banging on the locked door of the room. I think I jumped a full six inches out of my seat. Remus’s head dropped just as a voice yelled. "Time’s up." The door swung open to reveal three guards, wands drawn. I was not amused by how little notice they’d given us. If we had been a real married couple, they probably would be barging in mod-coitus. I knew better than to resist three beefy goons with wands, though. I raised my hands in the universal gesture of harmlessness and stood. The cot groaned unhappily at the shifting of weight. All three guards entered the room. One grabbed me by the arm and escorted me out. I barely had time to turn and shoot Remus an apologetic glance before the stone door slammed behind me, leaving Remus alone in the small outbuilding with two guards. I remember the deadness I had seen come over his eyes in that last look we’d exchanged. To the guard that was swiftly pulling me towards the main buildings I asked feebly, "What are they going to do to him?"

The guard answered me with only silence, and within fifteen minutes I found myself back outside the main gates in my own clothes. With one more desperate glance back at the stone walls of the camp, I shoved my hands in my pockets and trudged away home.

Proceed to Part 2
 
 
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