She was mean and she had seashells in her hair! (dollsome) wrote in hp500,
She was mean and she had seashells in her hair!
dollsome
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Response #1 - "War"

Set during the first war against Voldemort.



Sirius likes the idea of glory.

He understands just as well as anyone that it's empty and dirty, this war. There's nothing spectacular in it; instead, it's exhausting, secretive, necessary. It's that last part that gets him. He's four months shy of twenty-one and still immature in a lot of ways. He's not so sure this is something to be ashamed of. He doesn't want to wither up, become all calculation and cold glances. He looks at Mad Eye Moody sometimes and is overwhelmed with the sharp childish urge to shout in protest, to run away. There are times when he doesn't want anything to do with any of this.

It isn't always. He knows he's fighting the good fight, that he wouldn't be able to stand being anywhere else. The deaths pour in steadily and it makes him sick to dress in black and sit dutifully solemn-faced while whimpers rise up around him, Remus on one side of him and Lily on the other, thinking oh God oh God it could be any of them next. It makes him sick to stand it, but it would make him sicker not to.

On the nights without Order meetings, awful still nights where destruction seems put on pause, he sits at home and thinks of forgotten things: Lily slapping James across the face in fourth year; the thrill of the Forbidden Forest and moon nights; the joy of lazy nothing-filled summer days at the Potters'; sitting in the library, staring at Remus to pester him instead of studying for exams; Remus looking up. Sometimes he's sure he's the only one who remembers.

Remus is much better at all of this than he is. Maybe it's because he's always known how to keep secrets, or because he's an old soul, not like Sirius -- Sirius, he'd once dubbed impossibly young. He'd smiled at the time but now he hardly ever does. He reads and plans and nods in agreement, knows precisely how to meet every obstacle. Sirius does not entertain the idea that he is not afraid, but Remus keeps his fear hidden, wrapped neatly up and tucked away.

He comes home late and answers all of Sirius's questions perfectly, concisely. His tone is not flat so much as politely unaffected. Sometimes there are things he can't say, and so he doesn't.

It sparks something in Sirius, red-hot and cruel, and at times he can't help but mock or scathe. Remus allows it, which makes it all the worse.

'You seem upset,' he'll observe, hanging up his cloak, not bothering to look at Sirius.

You're too good at this is what Sirius wants to say, but doesn't, for fear of the words coming out clumsily or maybe for the grain of dark truth that could be hidden in them, that he won't recognize, at least not yet.

'I'm sick of this,' Sirius declares once, the petulant child. He knows how ridiculous he sounds, and decides it is deliberate. 'We're just trying to put off the bloody inevitable. It's stupid and tiring, that's what it is.'

'It's war,' Remus reminds him, and goes to make tea.

Night is stripped of its meaning, which is no surprise -- morning has stopped bothering to offer some pretense of hope; the daylight hours alternately slip by and drag. The bed remains made for days at a time, corners carefully tucked in (Remus's handiwork). Something alive and monstrous eats away at Sirius, makes sleep impossible except for a few stolen hours in armchairs that tend to end in black or flashes of green.

Remus doesn't sleep at all; exhaustion becomes him. He is haggard and Sirius notices his hair beginning to gray. Funnily, he takes on an oddly heroic air.

It strikes Sirius one day that this might be glory -- the real thing. He finds himself disappointed.

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  • 5 comments
Oh, this was lovely and very much as I imagine it might have been when that initial youthful idealism about war and heroism and "fighting the good fight" finally loses its lustre, and the reality of the cold misery of it sinks in.

Very well done!
Ouch. A fascinating and brutal portrait of Sirius coming apart under the pressure of a brutal and terrifying war.
I quite like this -- the idea that understanding war's nature wears at Sirius and Remus, but it doesn't make them stop fighting.
Oo, I like this. A lot. Well done.
Really good. I love the little details that make it seem so real, and it just seems to fit the characters so perfectly. Every time I read it I see something different.