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brighty18 in rs_small_gifts

Imperfect Imperfection for Chiralove

Title: Imperfect Perfection
Author: brighty18
Recipient: chiralove
Rating: PG
Highlight for Warnings: *angst, fluff, hurt-comfort, lack of coherent plot, snow-shoveling, *
Word Count: About 1,875
Summary: A winter’s night after a hard day’s work should theoretically yield some peace.
Author's notes: A big thanks to leashy_bebes and cackling_madly for the emergency, last minute betas. You ladies rock my world.
Happy holidays, chiralove . I hope this isn’t too fluffy and that it pleases.

Remus sighed, the sound echoing across the cavernous bedroom, briefly drowning out the sharp crackle of the hearth fire and the constant drone of the winter wind outside their window. Despite the fire and Sirius’ knack for warming charms, the room was cold, and Remus snuggled down further into their warm bed, Sirius snoring lightly beside him. He glanced warily at the window. The snow was continuing to build, obscuring with mounds of white fluff what normally would be a view of midnight London.

Sirius stirred in his sleep, wrapping his legs around his lover and wedging his ice-cold feet between Remus’ formerly warm calves. Years ago, Remus would have been annoyed - werewolves needed all the heat they could get and somehow Sirius’ feet managed to suck the warmth from any bit of flesh they encountered. Dementor feet they called them before the joke became entirely inappropriate. As teenagers, Remus would grumble and gripe, whining until his lover grudgingly pulled on the thick woolen socks that he claimed made him look like an elderly bourgeois banker.

Yet now, somehow, Remus found he no longer minded the frozen toes.

It had been a cold day to begin with. The snow, which had been falling for days, was beginning to pile dangerously on the roof, creating precarious peaks which hung over the eaves, threatening to come crashing down upon guests and innocent pedestrians. Arthur had mentioned the dangers of the increased weight on the already compromised roof of the aging town house, so Remus and Sirius had undertaken the daunting task of clearing the snow. The trouble was, Sirius had insisted on doing it the Muggle way, claiming that they would be in full view of the neighbors. “Those aging bints across the street are always at their window and Merlin knows what they’d think of two men wandering about on rooftops, moving snow with nothing but sticks. It would look strange, Moony – grotesquely suspicious.”

Despite the knowledge that shoveling snow the Muggle way was akin to Crucio, Remus reluctantly gave in to the logic of his lover’s argument. On the one hand, Sirius could be counted upon to spend as much time as humanly possible out of doors, but on the other, Remus could not blame him. No one – least of all a, active-to-the-point-of-hyper man like Sirius Black – should be expected to spend the entirety of his days trapped inside a dark, dusty prison of a house. Besides, Sirius was right: the old biddies across the street were exceptionally nosey.

And so they came to spend the afternoon engaged in backbreaking labour. Sirius, despite the loss of muscle mass from years of incarceration, proved to be a surprisingly able worker, and even Remus had to admit that there was something perversely sexy about the sight of his lover, red-faced and sweating as he tossed shovelful after shovelful of snow into neat piles at the center of the roof. Remus was prone to back-spasms and sudden falls on slippery surfaces, but somehow Sirius managed to wield a shovel with something akin to grace. Years ago, Remus would have been jealous of this effortless physical efficiency, resentful of the way his boyfriend took naturally to hated Muggle tasks, acting as if they were plain fun rather than deadly painful. But things had changed. This afternoon, as Remus watched his lover bounding across rooftops, grinning madly with shovel in hand, he found himself entirely unable to be resentful. Instead, a nameless emotion surged through him, something akin to longing, but not quite. Remus could only stare wistfully at his lover and smile.

Later, of course, came the inevitable tea and sex – though not necessarily in that order. Somehow tedious household chores always led to sex for Sirius Black. Not that Remus minded.

But now the exertions of the day were beginning to manifest themselves physically in Remus’ body. His shoulders ached and his lower back felt as if he’d been kicked by a hippogriff – not that Buckbeak would do such a thing. His right ankle twinged whenever he rolled over (the result of rather spectacular spill on a previously unseen patch of ice). He sighed again as he ran his hands across the warm expanse of his boyfriend’s surprisingly bare back, his calluses singing out a subtle reminder of his earlier experience with a wooden-handled shovel. Worse yet, he highly suspected he was catching a cold, that dull scratch in his throat a telltale sign of impending illness.

Still, the aches and pains of his all-too-young-to-be-aging body faded in comparison to the simple joy of spending a cold winter night snuggled close to the man he loved. The fire crackled softly in the hearth and the snow pounded the window with a gentle hiss. Somewhere, high above his head, newly formed piles of snow shifted uneasily in the freezing wind, and as if in response, Sirius tossed and muttered in his sleep. Ignoring his throbbing back pain, Remus rolled over and pulled Sirius tightly to him.

Remus struggled against it, but as the first waves of sleep washed over him, he could not help but smile. This was life as he knew it. It was an imperfect perfection, but it would do.

*** ** *** ** ***

Sirius moaned softly as Remus pulled him close. The werewolf had been restless all night – all day, in fact – and Sirius had been secretly worried. He loved Remus, and Remus unquestionably loved him back, but there was always room for doubt, doubt that Remus was happy, doubt that life at Grimmauld Place was bearable, doubt that he, Sirius, was enough. So little felt like enough these days.

Still, it had been a wonderful day. The snow, which bothered everyone else, pleased Sirius greatly, affording him the precious chance to venture outside, breathing in the fresh, cold air of winter and bathing himself in the pale December light. It was a small freedom, but it was beautiful. He’d even waved brightly to the decrepit old birds across the street, sending them a cheeky wink over the top of the cheap, plastic Muggle sunglasses his cousin had once bought for him as a joke. Nymphadora had claimed they’d be useful as a disguise in case he ever had to go “on the lam,” but today Sirius had actually managed to put them to good use.

After all, they’d have looked right suspicious standing on the roof wearing what the neighbors would undoubtedly think were bathrobes and waving their wands about as the snow slowly disappeared from view. It was bad enough that they were queer, but queer and insane was even worse. Knowing that that would never do, Sirius suggested they move snow the Muggle way, and Remus had reluctantly agreed. Sirius knew his boyfriend hated Muggle chores, and was secretly thrilled that he’d given in. In the end however, it was more or less a compromise, for whilst they moved the snow manually, using nothing but snow shovels and plenty of manly muscle, once piled out of sight, the mounds were surreptitiously Vanished. “How else are we to dispose of it?” Remus had rightfully inquired. And Sirius had admitted he’d no clue.

The work, though somewhat painful, had been refreshing, and Remus, despite his constant barrage of physical complaints, was the best companion Sirius could wish for. He always was. His sweat-soaked fringe froze almost instantly in the bitter cold, falling in Remus’ face in what Sirius was not ashamed to admit was a most fetching fashion. And, after all, a frozen, grumpy Remus was an adorable Remus so, after the snow was tamed and the work was done, Sirius could not help but push his lover against the crumbling plaster of the attic wall and snog him thoroughly. Well, more than snog, actually, but Sirius knew he would get himself all worked up again if he dwelt on it right now.

But now night had fallen and Sirius was expected to be still. The roof had been conquered and Remus needed sleep, but Sirius felt restless. He’d been feigning slumber for the past several hours, listening to the whispery patter of snowflakes on glass and the far off creaks of the aging house. Grimmauld Place calmed down at night, its nighttime noises a mere echo of the daytime terror of memory. Though he was loathe to admit it, the house still frightened him sometimes, ghosts of the past still too strong to be properly ignored.

But here with Remus, Sirius felt a reprieve. Loved. Calm. Safe and secure. Yet still not entirely free from worry.

Rumour had it that Sirius tried too hard to be cheerful – at least that’s what he heard the Weasleys whisper in the corridors. Yet he also felt Molly’s disapproving glare when his cheerful demeanor failed and he could no longer hold back the demons. There was no winning, really – except perhaps with Remus. Remus was the only adult who could be counted upon to be loving and yet unfailingly honest. And Sirius didn’t want to lose that - not to his own selfish foolishness and certainly not to the hardships of life as they knew it.

As happy as Remus seemed, Sirius still worried. Had he gone too far with today’s work session? Was he too much of an over-enthusiastic lover? Had he lost his charm? His looks? His attractiveness? Remus, claiming that he found Sirius as sexy as ever, denied this, but Sirius was well aware of his own imperfections. He’d watched his own reflection in the tarnished mirror when he thought no one was looking. He’d heard his own false laughter echoing too loudly in uncomfortable rooms. He’d noted the looks of pity the others gave his boyfriend.

And now Remus was sighing in his sleep. Was he annoyed or merely contented? “Or, perhaps,” whispered Sirius aloud, “there is no difference at all.” Perhaps life was merely what it was and no one, whether wizard or werewolf, Muggle or hippogriff, could expect much more. He was laying in the arms of his lover, muscles aching from over-exertion, as the hearth fire warmed the frozen night. Perhaps this was all that could be expected: a slim, earthy happiness that made him feel alive.

Sirius rolled over, nuzzling his lover’s neck and breathing in the unique scent that was Remus. As if in response, Remus reached out and pulled him close, holding him tightly as if to shield him from snow and cold, Dementors and nightmares. From several floors above them came the dull roar of newly piled snow sliding from a roof – their neighbor’s roof, Sirius hoped. Either way there was nothing to be done at the moment, for there was no way in hell he was going to leave the safe cocoon of their nice, warm bed to investigate. Even he was not that foolish. 

Remus seemed to hear the noise as well, whining softly in his sleep and running his callused hands over Sirius’ bare back, sending small shivers up the other man’s spine. “I love you,” he whispered.

Sirius smiled into the dusty darkness. The fire crackled, the snow fell, and a much-needed peace settled over the house. “I love you, too.”

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I love how Sirius thinks of Remus here--his safe place, loving and unfailingly honest. They get each other and want and love each other, and despite Sirius' insecurities Remus is what matters. The maturity of their reflections is nice, as well. That this is what they have and regardless of imperfections, it's still really good because they're together. Lovely!
Thank you! You leave such great comments!

I am glad that you thought their thoughts mature; that's really what I was getting at. One of the reasons I love this pairing is because they actually appear in canon as adults and have adult feelings. Not that there is anything wrong with young love and MWPP, but it's fun to get a chance to play with the subtleties of adulthood.
Gosh, this is beautiful. These guys can make shoveling snow such a wonderful thing. Their reflections of each other feel so true and honest, even if they might not be the thoughts they want to have necessarily of each other but at least they think what they feel and know. I love how Sirius would've wanted to do it the Muggle way and how Remus would agree even if he hated it.

Somehow tedious household chores always led to sex for Sirius Black. Not that Remus minded.
I love this!

But here with Remus, Sirius felt a reprieve. Loved. Calm. Safe and secure. Yet still not entirely free from worry.
I love this too.

Remus struggled against it, but as the first waves of sleep washed over him, he could not help but smile. This was life as he knew it. It was an imperfect perfection, but it would do.
And this! So very true.

Wonderful fic!

Edited at 2010-12-26 10:32 pm (UTC)
Wow! Thank you so much for the fantastic comment. This really makes me feel good!
I really love this, the way they've been through enough with and without each other to accept each other's imperfections and appreciate each other for who they are. Gorgeous.
Thanks!! Great comment! Honestly, to me, that acceptance and appreciation are really what love is about in the end. I tend to believe that if they hadn't died, they would have been one of one of those couples that stays together to the end because they really "get" each other.
Oh my goodness, this is so beautiful! I absolutely adore all of the small domestic details, and their relationship here is so sweet! I love that it's not quite perfect and that they each have their worries or complaints, but the way they work together is just absolutely amazing.

Thank you so much!!! <3333
Oh, yay! I am so relieved that you liked it. I loved your prompt because you love small, domestic details and tactile things - because I love writing them. Honestly, one of the reasons I love the pairing is because I really think that they do "get each other" in that accepting sort-of way that makes for a great couple. Unfortunately, fate intervened.
I told you before, I will tell you again, I love this fic. It's such a lovely little slice of life.

I love the intimacy you created in the first two paragraphs, with the two of them snuggled together in bed and all the little details (and "Dementor feet" which is darkly humourous), and the two pov's. The mundane task of shoveling snow took on so much meaning to both of them, gave Sirius some much needed freedom, and brought them closer together.

The whole fic is a beautiful balance of fluff and angst and like I said before, at that point in their lives, they need all the fluffy happiness they can get.

Lovely job :)

And thank YOU for the beta! You really helped.

I love you for commenting on the "Dementor feet" thing; for some reason I really liked that bit.

I only wish shoveling snow were in the least bit as lovely as they seemed to find it.
I liked how you gave us both Sirius' and Remus' perspectives of the same day, especially the similarities between them as well as the differences. Remus' was fantastic, but I have to say that I loved Sirius' post-Azkaban reflecting. You really touched on some fantastic emotions there. Really enjoyable, Brighty!
Thank you! I have a real "thing" for post-Azkaban Sirius. I don't think he was insane, but I do think that he was dealing with some PTSD-like issues. (And why wouldn't he be?) He's a strong person, but I picture him really struggling with mundane social interaction. Remus, however, would get that
Oh, I do love this! I do! It's funny but I think it's in part because it doesn't really have a plot so I can take this out and snuggle with it over and over all winter as needed. Snow is falling now but I know it won't be as pleasurable as this when Aunt God She's Awful and I shovel it tomorrow......

Im my mind's eye, and snuggled under the down duvet, I can "see" Sirius in his sunglasses bounding across rooftops, grinning madly with shovel in hand. I'm more like grumpy Remus, with aches and blisters and undoubtably, a runny nose. But I think instead, I'll think on them snuggled together in post-orgasmic bliss in their big bed with the fire crackling and the snow falling softly outside in the London night.

THANK YOU!! You always write the best comments!

Ironically, I wrote this after shoveling snow myself. Unfortunately, for me it was not so lovely: my companion was a 70 year-old man and there was only about eight inches, but it was on gravel. I, too, am more Remus in this, swearing like a sailor as I cleared a 20x40 foot area.

Still, I think that the these two men can deal with it. Part of the reason that they are my OTP is that we get to see them as adults in canon and can let them have those real, complicated feelings that one can mostly get from adults. To me, real love has a lot to do with acceptance, understanding, and the ability to appreciate the beauty of flaws. These two have it in spades.

Thanks, again, for the great comment.

Because this story is sweet and warm and makes me want to snuggle right up with them. XD <3
I really do love them best, I think, as older men, negotiating the tricky ins and outs that would be their relationship. Doubts and fear would naturally play a part of their inner workings, as it does for us all, making this a very human look at how relationships are formed and maintained. Lovely work.
Me, too. One of the many reasons I love this pairing is because we get to see them (and write them) as adults with all the complicated trappings of adulthood. Not that MWPP is not totally fun, but you know what I mean.

Thanks for the great comment!
Remus you adorable grumpy hypochondriac you <3 :) I simply ADORE your OOTP- era pups, they are so sweet and grumpy and broken and worried and just leave each other so much. *snuggles them so they can't breathe* :D this was gorgeous and dreamlike, I especially love the image of sirius' icy feet between remus' calves :). I love how their relationship wasn't quite perfect, I feel it's true to life and true to canon (poor post- azkaban Sirius *gives him to moony to hug*). And haha, the image of them shovelling snow was hilarious :D loved tonks giving him the sunglasses! just great and so wintery! ^^
Thank you so much! What a great comment.

Sadly, I can relate to poor Remus' grumpy hypochondria. LOL. He, at least, didn't have to shovel snow when he had cramps. Unfortunately, no relationship is truly perfect, but I like to think of them as fully understanding each other in ways others might not.

Thanks, again!
Awwwwww, this is so, so lovely. The inevitability of tea and sex! :D I also love the heat-sucking feet. There are many wonderful images here, but most of all I love the descriptions of how they see each other and how they are living in the moment, loving what they have, and taking the happiness that is there. Thank you!!
Thank you!
This just seems a very honest look at their days at Grimmauld Place. Realistic, a struggle, but not entirely without hope or happiness.
Touching and lovely!
Thank you! I love them during this time because it is possible to be realistic without being entirely depressing or over-happy. I also think that they very much need hope.