Title: Final Phase
Author: Lyricality
Rating: PG
Description: Written for the Master and the Wolf 30-minute fic challenge.
Based on Challenge #48: "Remus and Severus are soul mates, but both of them died before they realized it. Will they get the chance to be together in the afterlife?" Vaguely inspired by the imagery of What Dreams May Come and The Cell.
Archived: On the Master and the Wolf website. Elsewhere after November 17th, 2004, only by author permission.
C&C: Please. Contact me at lyricalitys@yahoo.com

"They say there was a fire on the night I died
All I am is gone
Still the soul holds on."
- Janis Ian, On the Other Side

In this darkness he hung suspended, arched upward, as if gasping for air. He was something spidery and feathered, gauntly defiant, immovable in even this changeable reality. Blackbird, raven light.

Nightbird.

Death wasn't what he had expected. Nothing, but not peace. Silence, but never calm. Darkness in grays and blacks and funeral shrouds, after color had faded and sound had gone, and nothing had remained of taste or touch. He had never forgotten what he was, still remembered who he had been, and clung to the knowledge in what was left of his heart, clutched it with tattered talons because this place could rip it away.

Once he had remembered the moment of death. Endlessness was wiping even that slate blank.

Unwelcome heat still made him rouse, twisting into himself, burning dark and spreading wings. Slightly above, wavering like liquid, Black's eyes burned into his own. Canine here too, where form suited itself to the soul, Sirius slipped in and out of shadow, part of this darkness. He was close, too close, as he had been in life, a rape of personal space.

"Hullo again, Snape."

He might have been breathing along the back of Snape's neck, and despite the impossibility of a sensation so blatantly human, Snape went quilled, his soul rippling sharp with spines. Speaking here took effort now; he rasped, raven-voiced. "Fuck yourself."

The dog chuckled, all moonlit fur now, sliding unharmed along the jagged edges of Snape's best defenses. "Learn to behave yourself," he breathed, and it was undoubtedly, unmercifully hot, hissing into Snape's ear, wrapping unwanted around his neck, squeezing tight. "Or he'll never come visit you, here." That made him jolt, breaking Sirius' hypnotic hold, and the dog drew back, barking a laugh, his grin nothing now but a gleam of teeth. "Yes. He's dead now, too. Missed him, hmm?"

Strangling now, but darkness filled his lungs. "You can fuck him, too," he snarled.

A gleam of dogstar-eyes, and Sirius wove back and forth, full-body denial, insufferably amused. "Poor Snivellus," he nearly purred, so smug that Snape should have liked to wrap hands around his throat, snap his soul like his spine. "You died for him, and you're still too much of an ass to see it, aren't you?" Sirius was fading now, echoes of unapologetic and inappropriate passion. "After all this time, you haven't realized that I was only his relationship of convenience."

Snape drew in a breath and choked on blackness. I would rather drown myself forever than know what you mean.

***

Apathy curtained him with physical weight, dragging downward, and Snape spread remnants of wings in the darkness to float. In the distance, something beckoned, warm like a sudden touch, and he stirred, twisted to reach it, remembering cinnamon and summer, seeing light from the bottom of a well. He felt himself looking upward, into the whiskey moonlight of lupine eyes, and a sound caught itself inside his throat, suffocated and died.

Lupin was wolf here of course, so brilliantly, painfully bright that Snape wanted to sink into himself again, to be unlit. Dog and Rat and Stag and Wolf, and here he should be living a fable, were he living at all. The wolf loomed over him, lean and steady, arched, and they reflected each other, watching each other through a wall of water. Distortion.

"Why?" Lupin asked, and Snape curled into himself like a raptor in rain, sharp but shielding with one wing. It was the question he wouldn't answer--the answer he wouldn't let himself remember. "Like hell you won't answer me," Lupin snarled, and it rippled the darkness between them, made it eddy and swirl. "You can't leave me alone for twenty years to wonder, then not tell me why, Severus, when you finally can!" Snape couldn't be reached, not even Black could truly touch him, but the wolf was burning, thrust itself into the darkness between them and caught Snape in the tearing white of its teeth.

Pain--pain--and Lupin was wrenching, pulling him upward, fangs forming fingers, fur an endless rippling of sunlight on snow when he pulled Snape upward with him, dragging him free of the strangling shroud. Snape gasped, as if taking a breath full of light.

"You know why," Lupin growled, a sound that made Snape arch again, draw himself up again, a different sort of defiance now. In this new twilight, he was spreading wings of glittering black to balance Lupin's brilliance, because it was surrounding him, engulfing him, and it was that completeness he had always feared, that wholeness that threatened to wrap around him and smother him silent. But he'd silenced himself, tried drowning himself already, so what did it matter to anyone anymore, if he screamed?

Strange that it sounded more of ecstasy than of agony, when he did.

They were winding into each other, brilliantly dark, burning, and all the universe must see them now, moon ascending into night, the tidal pull of one to the other. He felt them cycling, each half of a natural whole, revolving around each other.

Snape drew a breath of starlight. "Because you're mine."

As always, Lupin showed him one face, one true face, as the moon showed the earth, and merely smiled.

Answer enough, for eternity.