autumn stories: 1981 – (azkaban years), on the blankets (R)

Summary: Sirius remembers.
Rating: R, for descriptions.

He starts with an ankle, resting on the tangle of blankets. He can see the curve down to a roughened foot, abrasive with callus from going barefoot in all seasons, all weather. The toes are thin and long, the nails cut too short.

Once he can see that one ankle, that one foot, once that is clear to him, he takes a deep steadying breath, and if it is a good day he continues.

Crooked at nearly an identical angle: another ankle, another foot. The posture of sleep is always curled, never with arms outflung or ankles carelessly dangling. Letting his eyes travel up he can see the long muscles along long leg bones, leading to sharp bony knees bent at sharp right angles. Still too thin, the legs continue to protruding hip bones and the hard muscles of his arse. He knows that there are dimples on that arse; he knows that his own fingers have filled them. He knows the balls and cock and the tangle of ginger hair that the sleeper curls around.

Another breath; by now he is good at controlling his breathing.

The arc of broad back, laddered by vertebrae. The round hardness of muscles under brown skin, one arm curling around the top of his head, graceful fingers curling into the blankets, twitching a little, perhaps in a dream. His hair is longer than it has ever been before—

And he stops, takes a breath, because he has started to break the rules. Breathe. Breathe.

The hair is long enough in places to brush the sleeper’s neck. It is brown, non-descript, and streaked with silver. His other hand lies splayed in front of his face. His mouth is open and wet; the blankets that press into his face are darker under his mouth. His nose is thin and covered with faint freckles. There were one hundred and twenty-eight freckles, the last time he counted.

Breathe. This was the most dangerous place, where he had the most to lose.

Freckles also sprayed across the high cheekbones and the forehead, both lined with red marks from the blankets. His eyes were shut; the eyelashes were thick and gummed at the corners, and the exact same colour as his pubic hair.

This is a good morning, to have made it this far in the game. He indulges himself.

The eyes blink open, and he can see all the colours this morning. Green, brown, grey, black, white. He can see recognition in those eyes; he can see the broad mouth widen in a welcoming smile.

He feels himself start to smile back, and that is when he knows he has to stop. He opens his own eyes.

There are no blankets here. He sits up on the bare mattress and crosses to the narrow window. Dawn is breaking over the black ocean yet again.

He has schooled himself to keep the skeletons of his memories, so that what he saw remains even as what he felt is stripped daily from him. His mind is a landscape of facts and statistics, that which he has forced himself to retain.

He knows the man sleeping is important; otherwise this image would never have lasted this long. Sometimes, but only sometimes because he does not wish to drive himself mad, he allows himself to wonder what it was he felt towards the man sleeping, before he became a survey: head, arms, chest, legs, ankles.

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