trinsy: (doctor/jack)
[personal profile] trinsy
title: Sometimes It Hurts Instead
fandom: Harry Potter – an AU version wherein everyone has been gender!swapped
character(s): Remi Lupin, Sirena Black
rating: PG
genre: angst, hurt/comfort
words: ~1750
summary: Snippets from Remi Lupin’s life and her complex relationship with Sirena Black
warnings: gender!swapping
notes: So a few months ago, my sister and I spent a pleasant few days casting our ideal female!Marauders over text and email. This was the result (image and post by her, not me). I dare anyone who has seen Karen Gillan and Katie McGrath not to imagine them being fun, fierce, flirty pranksters together. Anyway, a few days ago I suddenly really wanted to write something with flirty and fierce Karen!James and Katie!Sirius. I started typing and … that is not the story I wrote. I’m honestly not even sure how this happened. I don’t even ship Sirius/Remus. But somehow Remi took over my brain and would not shut up until I wrote this.
disclaimer: I don’t own anything associated with Harry Potter. The dialogue in the Shrieking Shack scene is taken directly from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, was written by J. K. Rowling, and belongs to her and her publishers. The title comes from Adele’s “Someone Like You”.



Sometimes It Hurts Instead



When Jamie and Sirena are united, everything is beautiful. They are a seamless unit, charming and flirting their way into and out of the most preposterous situations.

And if nine times out of eleven they’re flirting with each other, well, Remi’s not about to complain, because she thinks sometimes that might be the most beautiful thing of all.

----

Even in a hollow, skin-stretched skull rendered in a black-and-white photograph, Sirena’s eyes burn.

Wonder at me, they say. I am so much more than you can possibly imagine.

I know, Remi thinks, aches with the knowledge. The Sirena she remembers dances across her mind, graceful and elegant and extraordinary, with a cruel spark that she usually keeps in check and an infinite capacity for love.

Remi looks into those burning black eyes and wants to scream, How were you so much less than I believed?

----

Remi’s happiness frightens her. Her friends are beautiful and generous and magnificent and selfless, and she doesn’t deserve them at all. She has never felt so loved, never felt so valuable.

Petrova follows her around, looks at her with the same awe most people reserve for Jamie and Sirena, asks her questions like Remi is the only one with the answers, like what Remi knows actually means something.

Jamie treats her like an equal in a way no one else ever has – like Remi is just like every other person, like she isn’t dangerous and a freak and an outcast. Like she’s actually worth enough for someone as incredible as Jamie to want to spend time with her.

Sirena pets her and takes care of her and loves her with a fierceness that sometimes overwhelms her by its sheer incomprehensibility, but Remi never hesitates to return that love with equal ferocity, and that’s what frightens her most of all.

“Something’s on your mind,” Jamie notes one evening, when the four of them are relaxing in their dormitory before bed, and Remi is fighting off the panic that is always just at the edge of her mind that she’s going to lose all this. “You’ve been preoccupied for days.”

“It’s nothing,” says Remi at once, glancing over at Sirena, who is sitting on the edge of Jamie’s bed, all long-legged elegance and piqued interest.

“Whenever you say it’s nothing, it’s always something,” says Sirena.

“It’s nothing,” Remi insists.

“Come on, share,” says Sirena, giving Remi the smile she uses whenever she’s trying to explain to a professor or prefect why she’s somewhere she shouldn’t be. “It’s just us girls here.”

“Secrets, secrets are no fun,” Jamie adds in singsong.

Sirena gives her a disparaging look. “Are you eight?”

Jamie shrugs. Petrova isn’t saying anything, for which Remi is grateful, but she is looking at Remi with that quiet intensity she has, like she’s gathering as much information as she can before she … what? Remi still isn’t sure, and isn’t really overly fussed about it. It’s not like Petrova has anything close to perfect recall.

“Our whole lives are secrets,” Remi deflects.

“Not from each other,” says Jamie, rolling her eyes. “Look, if you can trust us with your furry little secret, you can trust us with anything, right?”

“It’s a boy, isn’t it?” says Sirena. “It’s always a boy,” she adds to Jamie, as though Sirena actually cares about boys, or indeed in any way understands people who do.

“It’s not a boy,” says Remi.

“All right,” says Sirena, and it’s obvious she doesn’t believe her. “Keep your secret. Jamie going on and on about Linus is enough to be getting on with anyway.”

“I don’t go on about him,” says Jamie at once, and it’s Sirena’s turn to roll her eyes.

“Of course you don’t,” she says. “He just happens to come up a lot.”

“We run into him a lot,” Jamie counters.

“I wonder why that is,” Sirena shoots back.

It’s an old argument, and Remi watches as Jamie and Sirena perfectly execute its careful choreography, teasing each other like they’ve never said these jibes before, and when Sirena finally surrenders, as she always does, and presses a kiss of supplication to Jamie’s temple, Remi aches with the phantom pain of its tenderness.

----

Remi has never wanted to be wrong about a person this badly. Her eyes dart between the struggling rat in Ronna’s hand and the trembling shell that used to be Sirena, and she sees the truth but she doesn’t let herself believe it, not yet. She has to be certain.

She demands Ronna give her the rat (Petrova, she doesn’t let herself think), and finally meets Sirena’s gaze.

“Together?” Sirena asks as Remi holds the rat toward her, and Remi nods.

“I think so.” She wants to say, Please be right about this. Please. I can’t lose you again. Oh please, please let this work.

She counts to three and lets go.

----

Sirena visits her five days before Halloween to give her November’s rent money.

“The bag’s heavier than usual,” says Remi, frowning, as she takes it.

“It should be enough to cover four months of living expenses,” Sirena explains. “Food and everything. I don’t know how long it’ll be before I can visit again.”

“So it’s happening soon, then?” Remi asks. “The Fidelius Charm?”

“Yes,” says Sirena simply. She’s grown brittle since graduation, rougher around the edges. All she needs is her motorbike and a clear sky to ride it in and a Death Eater to fight when she comes down.

And Jamie, sometimes, to ride behind her. She doesn’t seem to need Remi anymore at all.

“Tell Jamie I’ll miss her,” says Remi, and Sirena nods, expression tight.

I miss you too, Remi wants to add. Come back to me soon. Wherever you’ve gone, come back.

Perhaps her thoughts play across her face, because Sirena’s expression suddenly softens, and she takes Remi’s hand and presses it against her cheek.

“How did it come to this?” she whispers. “When did this happen?”

Remi shakes her head, fingers curling gently against Sirena’s skin. Sirena leans into the touch, eyes fluttering briefly shut as she turns her head slightly to brush her lips against the inside of Remi’s wrist.

She’s gone before Remi’s arm has dropped back to her side.

----

When Sirena turns up on Remi’s doorstep a year after the Shrieking Shack incident, she’s pale and shaking and vulnerable in a way Remi has never seen her before.

“Voldemort’s back, she tried to kill Harri, Voldemort’s back, she tried to kill Harri,” she murmurs over and over as Remi guides her inside and sits them side by side on the couch.

“Shh,” Remi soothes, brushing Sirena’s mass of wild, untamed hair away from her face. Sirena’s eyes are darting around the room, like she thinks she might have to flee at any moment. “Harri’s safe. You both are. What did Dumbledore say?”

“To come to you,” says Sirena. “She wants you to start reassembling the Order.”

“Okay, good,” says Remi, seeing something she can have Sirena latch onto, ground herself with. “You can help me. We’ll need as much help as we can get.”

Sirena nods. “Of course. Anything you need.”

Anything, Sirena? Remi thinks. Don’t make promises you can’t keep, not again.

“Please, can I stay here?” Sirena asks, interrupting Remi’s thoughts. “For a little while, anyway,” she adds, and she sounds so uncertain.

“You can stay here as long as you like,” Remi answers, and Sirena’s lips twitch very slightly.

“Forever?” she suggests, and it’s meant as a joke, but there is something so fragile underneath.

Remi seeks out Sirena’s skittering gaze, waits until she’s locked it with her own to answer.

“Forever is fine,” she says firmly. “Actually, forever sounds brilliant.”

For the first time in fourteen years, Sirena gives her a true smile.

----

For twelve years, Remi buries the past under work and werewolf woes and the façade of moving on.

When she opens The Daily Prophet one morning and is confronted with Sirena’s sunken, haunted stare, she wants to tear the pages apart and scream until her throat is raw.

Instead, she sits down at her desk and calmly composes a letter accepting the first steady job of her adult life.

----

Sirena only agrees to go back to Grimmauld Place because Remi agrees to go with her. The moment they enter the house, Remi regrets it, because Sirena’s eyes briefly flare with panic before they go dead.

“You don’t have to stay here,” Remi says at once.

“I’ll be fine,” says Sirena, because she has always believed she’s stronger than she is. “Let’s go clean up the kitchen.”

Remi follows, already preparing for when she has to clean up what’s left of Sirena.

----

Harri suggests once, after a dementor lesson, that Sirena deserves to die.

Remi remembers the way Jamie and Sirena used to move together in perfect synchronicity, and thinks that for Sirena, living is probably worse.

----

After every Order meeting, Sirena locks herself in her room for several days. Remi mostly leaves her alone, except for leaving trays of food outside her door that usually remain untouched.

After the third meeting, Sirena doesn’t come out for five days, and Remi gets worried enough to actually enter the room.

Sirena is lying on her bed, staring at the ceiling, to which she’s affixed a picture of the four of them (though Petrova has been torn out) from their last day at Hogwarts. Remi carefully approaches and sits next to her on the bed.

“It’s gone, all of it,” Sirena mutters. “All of it.”

“I’m still here,” Remi murmurs, covering Sirena’s hand with her own. “I’m right here, Sirena.”

Sirena wraps her hand around Remi’s and squeezes fiercely.

“For now,” she whispers, and Remi convulsively squeezes back.

They are both so broken, jagged edges clicking against each other as they try to find the places they used to fit.

Sirena reaches out with her free hand, her fingers barely brushing the curve of Remi’s cheek.

“You’re beautiful,” she breathes, an aching wonder in her voice that makes Remi’s heart clench.

So are you, Remi wants to say, but the words catch in her throat and she can only nod.

----

When Remi and Sirena are together, everything is not beautiful: It is raw and dirty and exposed – two broken people who have given up pretending to each other that they are still (were ever) whole.

But sometimes the pieces almost slot together, sending out a flare of pleasure-pain, white-hot and fleeting, and Remi remembers that there is beauty in brokenness too.

Fin.
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