A Prayer to Unbelief
With many thanks to Rochefort, for being the best.
"Our rituals are never for the dead."
- Dana Gioia
The London streets were busy, mindless shapes moving all around
him, hurrying, rushing, the faces lit at angles by the streetlamps.
He knew his destination, and he did not hurry. He walked, one foot
in front of the other, knowing what he had to do, and knowing that
it would be precisely what he shouldn’t have been doing. At the
sign above the door, he stopped. The streets were now more deserted,
and every once in a while, a shadow would pass from one alleyway
to another. The door in front of him was painted black, it shone
slightly in the yellow light. He put his hand on the doorknob and
He had never been inside before. But then, he had never gone looking.
The pub was dark, filled with smoke and the faint smell of alcohol
and urine. Red lamps lined the ceiling, making everybody that occupied
it appear unreal and unholy. The faces around him were ruddy and
inhumane, and he could barely hear himself thinking above the blasting
of the music. Everything sounded muffled to his ears, all movement
like grotesque animation. It was perfect.
He lit a cigarette and walked up to the bar, trying to appear at
home as best he could in the hard atmosphere. His faded jeans clung
to his legs, loosely hanging about his ankles, and his leather jacket
smelled a little too familiar for him to forget exactly why he had
finally come here. The clothes felt strange, out of place, even
though they had been chosen specifically for these streets, for
this world. For a moment, he was glad of the all-encompassing smoke,
coming from him and the surrounding room. He tried ignoring the
suggestive looks he was getting from the regulars for the time being.
The first two pints went down smoothly and rather quickly. Not surprising,
really, as he was definitely in practice by now. Suppressing a smirk
at his own expense, Remus set down his glass and ordered another.
He found his voice to be hoarse, tired and empty. It reflected him
“Aren’t you lovely, dear,” drawled a voice in his ear. He turned
his head sharply and automatically flicked the ash off his cigarette
into an ashtray that he had pulled towards himself earlier. The
voice was lazy and lacked all subtlety. The owner of it looked to
be about fifty, flabby-faced and about as hopeless as Remus felt.
No, that would be too cruel. It had to be someone who would be able
to live through tonight, his ego in tact. He narrowed his eyes,
“No? And what are you saying ‘no’ to, love?”
“You.” He took another swig of the lager in front of him. “Not looking,
“Ah.” The face closed off and the man retreated, swaggering, pretending
to the room that this meant absolutely nothing to him. Remus felt
pity, and it tasted vile. He turned away, and continued drinking,
automatically, not noticing the liquid going down his throat. His
purpose here was not to find release. It was not to fuck a man who
would fall for him just because he had filled him up. His purpose
Taking a drag of the cigarette between his fingers, he turned on
the stool, facing the pub. After scanning a few generic faces that
he forgot a second later, he saw him. There. That boy, right there,
sitting in the dark corner, drinking beer. He looked about nineteen,
and out of place. Remus could tell it was his first time there,
as well. He pretended not to notice the reason for the immediate
attraction. He stood up.
The boy saw him approaching and lowered his dark eyelashes momentarily.
Remus knew it was courage that the boy was lacking. Courage and
confidence. But he would do. Yes, he would do.
The eyes, when they lifted, revealed themselves to be grey, just
icy enough to appear blue in the strange light. Suppressing vague
disgust, Remus lowered himself into a chair, and looked on in silence.
The only sign of interest was his presence, as well as the hand
that lay calmly on the grimy tabletop. His other hand lazily lifted
the cigarette to his mouth, and he held it there for a moment longer
than he normally would have. By the time all the smoke had escaped
his mouth, the boy’s lips were open and he was staring wide-eyed,
like a deer caught in the headlights. It was grotesque, what he
was doing, and Remus knew it, but he had to and he couldn’t stop.
It was not something he could control any longer. It rolled on,
and he dimly followed.
The boy nodded, his movement jerky and uncontrolled. Remus almost
stopped himself, but then remembered. No, he would go through with
it. And this boy would learn a lesson right along with him.
He went up to one of the bartenders, and without needing to say
a word, the man handed him a key, with a yellow piece of cardboard
hanging from the ring. Number 7. Remus took it calmly, and nodded
his head for the boy to follow. Somehow knowing where he was going,
he led the way through a door on their right. The corridor that
met them was lit by a single light bulb that hung loosely from the
ceiling, projecting its wary light onto the stained walls and the
scuffed, black linoleum floors. Remus didn’t think that it was possible
for a place to be quite so appalling, but he was being proved wrong.
He had made the right decision, after all.
He walked two paces ahead of the boy that followed him without question,
reproach to his tacit style, or their dingy surroundings. Remus
felt a wave of something revolting build up in his throat, but he
made his feet move, one in front of the other, one step, two steps,
three. They were passing doors, muffled sounds of creaking beds
and shouts accompanying their footfalls. He thought he’d be sick.
He thought he should get used to it.
Seven. The second to last door on the right. He put the key in and
the lock gave way with a sharp click. Everything seemed easy,
too easy, much too easy to bear. When he heard the boy enter behind
him and close the door, he turned around and faced him.
It was silent at first. His steps were light, mocking the intensity
of the atmosphere. The boy in front of him took off his leather
jacket and Remus took it from him, throwing it haphazardly on a
nearby chair. He saw a light blue collared shirt, first three buttons
undone. The collarbone was slight, and a sheen of sweat in the dip
below the throat betrayed the nervousness of his companion. Remus
began unbuttoning the shirt, when something made him stop. He looked
the boy in the eye and said:
“What’s your name?” It sounded indifferent, matter-of-fact, and
he was repulsed. Repulsed and spurred on, as if that single sentence
led the way to the rest of the evening. It had set the tone - and
Remus merely kept up.
“Rob-robert,” the boy choked out. His voice was much too clear for
the damp room. It almost ruined Remus’s resolve. He had no right
to do this. But then, wasn’t that what the boy had come here for?
Perhaps he was lucky to have found Remus, as opposed to any other
man that entered the pub - as opposed to a regular. Remus nodded
in response and dropped his hands.
“I’m Remus. Now, take off your shirt.” He turned away and walked
the two steps towards the bed. It was covered by an old plaid blanket
and a sheet that had been stained just a little too much to be the
perfect white it had once been. Two pillows lay side by side, the
same hue of yellowish grey as the sheets.
He began stripping himself of his clothes, mindless of everything
but the hollow feeling inside his chest. When he turned around,
Robert had already stripped down to his Y-fronts. Lean, young, unworthy
of this place. Just like Remus. What had he been looking for, tonight?
Remus started to wonder and stopped himself just in time. This was
not his purpose tonight. He didn’t care. That was his purpose.
To not care about anything, anything but his own cock, to let his
cock guide him, to forget about the rest of him. Because that part
didn’t matter anymore.
He indicated for Robert to come over, horror taking over more and
more of his mind. He hated himself. Well, he was used to that by
now. At least now he had a solid reason for doing so. He pressed
the slightly damp body closer to his and bit into a smooth shoulder.
He heard a gasp. He pushed the boy down on the bed, fumbled through
his jacket for lubricant, threw it on the covers, and rolled on
top of him.
He was doing it as a punishment to himself. To the world that had
allowed him to give himself over so completely. That had allowed
Sirius to live, to exist at all. To appear in Remus’s life. To become
his life, to worm his way into his lungs, and then with one movement
suffocate him, leaving him with nothing but a choking gasp.
To leave him. And to never come back.
He snapped the Y-fronts of the slim hips, pulled them down the boy’s
legs and reached for the tube. He didn’t look at the boy’s face
for fear of seeing his own reflection.
Mechanical, it meant nothing. Fucking this body, taking it - it
didn’t mean possession. It meant defilement. The boy didn’t seem
to know it. His hoarse shouts were the only sounds filling the dank
room. He moved gracefully, his beauty lost on the man silently moving
in and out of him. The black hair was a mockery of the act that
was already nothing but a cosmic joke. A joke that the world had
played on Remus - a joke that he had to play on himself lest he
See this? This is you, fucking someone you feel nothing for -
neither love, nor hatred. He is nothing in your mind but a fucking
hole. His body is nothing but a piece of flesh to hold onto as you
move inside him. You’re punishing him for believing in you, for
trusting you with this. No one can believe in you, not even you,
because you believe in nothing. A man who believes in no one and
nothing cannot be believed. He is capable of anything.
His fingers dug deeper into the smooth hips in his grip, and he
thrust in one last time, holding himself inside, holding onto his
release, empty and unbearable. He didn’t make a sound.
“Are you going?” Disappointment. Such disappointment from such beautiful
lips. Remus didn’t look in the boy’s direction as he gathered up
his clothes and began dressing himself. He couldn’t make himself
look. He couldn’t believe, but he could feel. There had rarely been
a variation in his feelings for the past two years. At this moment
it was shame, pointless and useless. He pulled up his trousers and
shot the body on the bed a look.
He had to get out. He had to get out, but something held him. He
looked at Robert, at the grey eyes that answered back with innocence
and sweet ignorance.
“Who was he?”
Remus didn’t think he had felt his mouth move, and his throat was
certainly dry enough that he knew he hadn’t spoken.
“What?” His answer was, when finally given, sharp.
“Who was he...Remus?” The grey eyes now looked almost stern, and
accusing. The world continued playing a joke on him, after all.
Would he not be able to get away with anything? Pressing down on
his thoughts, Remus zipped up his trousers.
“No one of importance.” He quickly threw his shirt over this head,
automatically running a hand through his hair.
“Obviously,” the boy snorted.
“Leave it. I’m going to go and pay them now. You stay here, if you
want. Get some rest.” He walked to the door, and put his hand on
the doorknob. He paused and turned around. “Who was he, Robert?”
Robert’s mouth dropped open slightly, but he recovered himself in
time. He turned away and looked out the darkened window. “No one
of importance,” he said, resigned.
“Then we understand each other. Goodbye, Robert.” He turned the
doorknob and opened the door, the corridor light throwing him into
shadow. “Good night,” he added quietly and walked out.
He didn’t remember the walk back home.
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