Promise Not to Stop When I Say When

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Chapter title from "Everlong" by Foo Fighters.

Warning: more smut. In fact, I wrote this chapter and considered not even publishing it for fear of smut overload. If you feel it's getting excessive, please don't hate me. I promise I am getting back to plot and leaning more toward fluff in the upcoming chapters. :)

A dreary rain beat against the parlor window the next morning. Sirius sipped his coffee and stared outside as one of Rhiannon's birds, Slytherin, nipped at his finger where it rested between the bars of their golden cage. The sheets of rain and the long grasses waved in the incoming winds and reminded Sirius a bit of the Veil itself. He owed his life to Gryffindor, the bird now missing from the trio after its nosedive into the Veil. Somehow the tiny songbird had managed to exchange its life for Sirius's own, by whatever mythological connection seemed to follow and empower Rhiannon from time to time. Slytherin and Thunderbird lived happily in the parlor, chirping from their perch overlooking the dunes. Sirius had to wonder if their sacrifice would ever be required again, and what exactly that would look like if the Veil weren't a factor next time.

It was early — far too early for Sirius, who wasn't used to seeing the world at this time of day. The basement chill had awakened him, threatening to arouse images of Azkaban. He'd left his companions slumbering in the transfigured basement bed in a sleepy, satisfied tangle of long hair, lazy limbs, and beautiful naked skin. Sirius got excited sometimes when he thought about how good they must all look together. Even Severus was attractive these days, as hard as it was for Sirius to fathom. The relaxation of the house, its natural surroundings, and getting laid regularly looked good on the man. It was such a change from his greasy, angry Hogwarts days. Even Snape's anger last night had a soft edge to it that was tough for Sirius to put his finger on. It definitely felt like it came from a place of playfulness — threatening only so far as the wizard would allow it to go for the benefit of the game. And it was a fun game.

Sirius felt himself harden a bit again as the memories came back. His backside was fully healed from Rhiannon's aftercare, but his nerves had flesh memories of the searing burn of leather. They didn't do that type of torture in Azkaban, instead relying on mental torment from the Dementors and the complex, insidious physical and psychological effects of the Cruciatus curse. Severus's torture was a walk in the park compared to that, but it still filled a need Sirius didn't really know he had. He wasn't sure what to make of the satisfaction it gave him, but he did feel it lifted some of the awkwardness and guilt of their past. It leveled the playing field between them, much like the act of sharing their wives. Bizarre as it may be, it seemed to be what they needed.

Sirius heard heavy footsteps in the hall, and he turned around to see Severus looming in the doorway, wrapped in his bathrobe and sipping tea. He was surprised the man wasn't avoiding him after last night.

"Miss me already, Sev?" Sirius couldn't resist. Their banter was one of the more thrilling aspects of his current domestic confinement.

"I came to feed Rhiannon's birds," the wizard said simply. "I see you've already beaten me to the task." He took a seat in an armchair and removed the Prophet from his robe pocket.

"Any news?" Sirius asked nervously, recalling yesterday's revelation of his marriage record possibly being discovered.

"Too soon for any of that," Severus replied. "It will take some time for the Ministry to search the priest's home and file everything. Then they'll likely take their findings to Yaxley, who will bring it to one of our meetings before taking any action. I'll do my best to minimize it and label it a distraction from more urgent matters."

Sirius nodded. "I know you will, and I thank you. Colleen does too."

They both fell silent, Severus's dark eyes fixed on the paper. Sirius wished he something bigger to focus on other than the birds. He made slurping sounds with his coffee, glad for anything to fill the void between them.

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