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All the Young Dudes

Chapter Text

 

I just want to see you

When you're all alone

I just want to catch you if I can

I just want to be there

When the morning light explodes

On your face it radiates

I can't escape

I love you 'till the end

 

I just want to tell you nothing

You don't want to hear

All I want is for you to say

Why don't you just take me

Where I've never been before

I know you want to hear me catch my breath

I love you 'till the end

 

I just want to be there

When we're caught in the rain

I just want to see you laugh not cry

I just want to feel you

When the night puts on it's cloak

I'm lost for words - don't tell me

All I can say

I love you ‘till the end.

 

“Where are you going!?” Remus hissed, as he marched into the kitchen. He didn’t want Sirius to hear them fighting, but things didn’t look good at all, from the way Grant was calmly stirring his tea, not making eye contact.

“Brighton.” Grant said, “I’ve had a job offer - a really good one. Better pay, and I can help more people, I can really make a difference.”

“But we live in London.”

“Remus…”

“You’re just up and leaving me for a job ?!” Remus was gearing up to start shouting; to shame Grant into staying. Grant just smiled sympathetically and shook his head,

“Don’t be silly, now. You know it’s about more than that.”

Remus’s heart was beating hard, he felt sick, woozy, as if the floor was rocking back and forth. “You can’t do this!”

“I’m just making things easier for you,” Grant said - and from anyone else that might have sounded bitter. “Haven’t I always tried to do that?”

“But I love you!”

“I love you too, my darling, but I’m not sure that’s all there is to it.”

“So you’re just making the decision for me?!”

“I’m making a decision for me.” Grant said, very firmly. He looked at Remus now, dead in the eye, and Remus could see there would be no more arguing. “Sirius needs you now, and you’ll go to war, because that’s who you are, you’re mad and brave and incredible. There isn’t a place for me in all that, so I need you to let me go. We’ll always be friends, won’t we? Care home yobs together?”

Remus wanted to wail. He wanted to fall to his knees and clutch Grant around the waist and hold him there forever, to beg and plead. He knew that was selfish. Grant was right; Remus had already decided to re-join the Order, he had decided the moment Sirius returned. It wasn’t fair to keep Grant around for that, it was downright dangerous. But he needed him, oh, he really, really needed Grant. Remus wasn’t sure he could do it all alone, not with Sirius the way he was.

“You’ll break my heart if you go now.” Remus said, aware he sounded sulky and petulant.

Grant shook his head lightly, holding his ground. “I’m sorry, love. But it’s breaking my heart to stay.”

And in an instant, Remus understood. He saw Grant properly for the first time, not as his protector, his champion, but as a person who was not so very different from him, who was just as vulnerable to suffering.

“It’s not a proper goodbye, eh?” Grant said, softly. “You’re not shot of me yet.”

“I haven’t always been fair to you.” Remus said. He had wanted to say it for a long time now. He wanted some kind of forgiveness.

“You’ve been fine,” Grant smiled, without a trace of blame. “You’ve been my little bit of magic.”

Remus made a strangled noise, and tried not to cry. Grant hugged him, and they held each other for the last time.

Grant left Remus in the kitchen, with two cups of tea - one for Remus, one for Sirius. Remus stood in silence and waited for the door to go. When he heard it shut, he covered his mouth with his hand and closed his eyes. He breathed in and out for a few moments, then walked into the living room. Sirius was still on the couch. He looked anxious, rubbing his hands together.

“Remus, I--”

“No.” Remus held up his hand, shaking his head, “No, I need a minute.”

He went into the bedroom and closed the door. He sat on the bed and cried and cried. Once that was done with, he washed his face and went back to Sirius.

There was so much work to do.

* * *

Monday 10th July 1995

Things were harder, after Grant left. Remus felt as though he had lost his rock; the person who had kept him safe for thirteen years. The man Remus was left with was practically a stranger; a gaping hole of misery and fear and vengeful rage. Remus was on eggshells, and the war stretched ahead of them - would it always be like this?

They kept focussed on the war, mostly because Remus refused to discuss Grant, or his feelings. It was too much, in those early days. They spent their time working on lists of contacts, getting in touch with the old crowd, digging up old information from the last war. Sirius hooked them back into the floo network, using a secret connection only accessible to the right people, and time and time again the two of them knelt on the hearth rug, speaking into the flames; Sirius explaining his story to each member. Few of them took much convincing. All of them believed that Voldemort was back, and wanted to do something about it.

When they weren’t working for Dumbledore, Remus put the TV on and more often than not, Sirius would transform into Padfoot and doze off. Remus did all of the cooking - Sirius offered, but Remus wouldn’t allow it. He said he wanted Sirius to rest, to recuperate, but really he just wanted to be in a different room, most of the time. Sirius still slept on the couch, because neither of them were able to broach the subject.

“Full moon on Wednesday,” Remus said, one afternoon. They’d just signed off with Kingsley - an Auror Moody had brought in, who seemed pretty capable. Remus wasn’t sure what that was worth; he’d seen plenty of capable wizards die.

“I know.” Sirius replied, brusquely.

They sat side by side on the couch, blankly watching the TV. It was only the muggle news, but it might as well have been static, for all they cared. Just a reason not to look at each other.

“I usually leave an hour or so before sunset,” Remus continued. “Gives me time to clear the area, if I need to.”

“I remember how it works.” Sirius said.

“Ok, sorry.” Remus muttered, irritated. “Just thought you’d want to know. But if you’ve got other plans, then by all means, stay here.”

Sirius looked at him. “Oh. You want me to come?”

“Only if you want to,” Remus said, hurriedly, “I don’t mind either way.”

“Dumbledore said I need to stay here at all times…”

“Fine. Stay here then.” Remus folded his arms tightly across his chest, feeling hurt.

“No, I’ll come with you.” Sirius said.

“Great.” Remus drawled, sarcastically.

It was how almost all of their conversations seemed to go. One of them would deliberately misunderstand, or become unreasonably defensive about a tiny matter. Then the other would bite back, and around and around, until they both just stopped talking and ignored each other. But if Remus got up, or made to leave the room, Sirius would give him that terrified look; “Where are you going??” and Remus would sit back down again, and the whole scene would re-set.

He thought that bringing up the full moon might cheer Sirius up a bit. Sirius had always loved full moons, and it meant he could leave the flat for once. Can’t you just be normal?! Remus found himself thinking, angrily, I don’t want to live with a stranger, I want my best friend back. I need help.

Then he felt guilty. Because obviously Sirius couldn’t help it, and if he really thought about it, they had always been a fractious couple; they were both hotheaded Gryffindors, after all.

Still. Sirius may not be a complete stranger, but he was certainly strange . Had he always been so watchful, so quick to anger? Or had Azkaban done that to him? Or - worst of all - was it all Remus’s fault?

Without Grant there, Remus began to wonder whether he seemed different himself. Perhaps years of living like a muggle had made him less interesting. He was slower than he’d been as a teenager, more cautious. He rarely laughed.

It was stupid, but Remus was even more worried about how he looked. He had never been a vain person; he’d always been very ordinary looking, scarred and a bit gangly, even when Sirius had known him. But at least back then Remus had been young . Now, his hair was grey all over, only a few strands of the original mousey shade left. He had more scars than ever, and sometimes he still smoked, which made him cough like an old coal miner.

He was so much less than he had been before.

“This isn’t going to work, is it?” Sirius said, abruptly, breaking Remus’s thoughts.

No tact. Once he had been so silver tongued he could talk anyone into anything; could reel off dirty jokes like they were romantic poetry. But now everything Sirius said was sudden and blunt and full of raw urgency.

“What isn't?” Remus asked, shaken. He kept his eyes fixed on the TV.

“This. You and me. In the same room. Trying to act like… trying to be ok with each other. After everything that’s happened, and fourteen years… it's just going to be too much.”

Remus finally turned to look at him, ready to be annoyed again, but found that Sirius was staring down at his hands, twisting them hard in his lap so that the skin pulled and his knuckles whitened. He had scars too, now.

He didn’t look so old and strange, then; he just looked like Sirius. And he was frightened.

“Oh, I don’t know,” Remus said softly. He reached over and stilled Sirius’s hands with his own, weaving their scarred bony fingers together. He caught his eye and smiled encouragingly. “You were always too much for me. I never minded.”

The look of relief which flooded Sirius’s face was worth every lost moment. It was an entire lifetime. He raised Remus’s hand to his lips, and gently kissed the inside of his palm.

They returned to the TV after that, but kept holding hands.

* * *

Thursday 14th July

Thankfully, the full moon was a welcome change of pace. They apparated to the Brecon Beacons together, and both transformed on a mountainside. The wolf was thrilled to be reunited with its old companion, and they spent their time chasing foxes through the grasslands, running together for miles and miles. They were better together, in their canine bodies; more natural, more at ease. Perhaps the lack of inhibition, or perhaps the bond forged between them as dog and wolf was not as easily broken.

When Remus turned back, at dawn, Padfoot licked his face gleefully, nuzzling into him, and Remus laughed, for the first time since Sirius had returned to London.

They were still smiling when they got back to the flat, and it felt bigger than before; less of a cage.

“I forgot how strong you were,” Sirius beamed, full of energy, “I forgot you were faster than me.”

“Of course you did,” Remus grinned, “Arrogant prick. I could always beat you.”

He picked up the post sitting on the doormat and flicked through, as Sirius flung himself onto the couch, sprawling out. It was the first time Remus had seen him look really relaxed in their flat again, and it made him feel warm inside.

Flicking through the bills and takeaway leaflets, Remus stopped short as he reached a postcard. It had Grant’s new address on it. Nothing else, just the address, neatly printed. The needle sharp sting of regret hit Remus, and he sighed, heavily. There was no phone number. Either Grant didn’t have one yet (which seemed very unlikely, as he was barely off it normally, and needed one for work), or he was telling Remus not to get in touch.

“What’s up?” Sirius said, from the couch, ever watchful.

“Nothing. Grant’s new address, that’s all.” Remus put it on the mantelpiece. “I really need a lie down, I think I’ll go to bed.”

He downed some painkillers - only over the counter stuff, nothing exciting - and went to sleep. Luckily that was easy enough, after a full moon. When he woke up, the bedroom felt cold and empty. It was long after midday, and he could smell bacon cooking, the salty, savoury scent wafting its way through the flat.

He got up and followed the scent to the kitchen, where Sirius was standing over the hob, agitating a sizzling pan of bacon and eggs. He turned, seeing Remus and smiled,

“Thought you’d be hungry. You’re always hungry.”

“Yeah,” Remus nodded, yawning and scratching his head. “Cheers.”

Remus made the toast quickly, with his wand - he was getting back into the habit of using magic again now that his last ties to the muggle world had been cut.

They sat at the table in the living room, and Sirius even made an effort to use a knife and fork. Remus smiled at that, remembering James and Sirius’s impeccable pureblood table manners. He will come back to me, Remus told himself, as Sirius buttered his toast daintily, bit by bit.

The postcard from Grant was still sitting up on the mantelpiece. The image on the front was of Brighton Pavillion. “I’d better start boxing up the rest of his things,” Remus said, thinking out loud. “Find a way to get them to him.”

“He said he’d come back, when he was settled.” Sirius said, unexpectedly.

“Oh.” Remus blinked, “Did you talk, then?”

“A little bit,” Sirius shrugged, faking nonchalance, “Just to say goodbye. He told me to look after you.”

“Oh, I see.” Remus said, quietly. “Well, sorry about that. That wasn’t his place to say.”

He wanted very much to keep these two halves of his life separate.

“No, it was ok,” Sirius said. They were quiet for a bit , eating. And then… “When did it happen?” Sirius asked, back to his sharp abruptness.

“When did what happen?”

“You and him. How soon after… after I went to prison?”

Remus set down his fork. “Why are you asking me that?”

“I’m just trying to fill in the gaps - the stuff I missed.”

Something inside Remus grew hot and fierce.

“I don’t see what Grant has to do with any of it. Do you want a list of everyone I’ve shagged since you’ve been gone?”

Sirius breathed in, sharply, at that. “No, of course not.”

“Well, then. Leave him out of it. He’s gone now, that’s that.”

“I shouldn’t have asked. I just thought... “

“I never cheated on you.” Remus said, hardening his voice, “So you can stop wondering. I never, ever betrayed you. Even if you think I did.”

Sirius frowned, and looked down at his food. “You are still angry about that, then.”

“I don’t want to be.” Remus said. “I don’t want to be, but I am. You thought I was a spy , Sirius! You thought I would try to hurt Lily and James - you thought I would try to hurt you .”

“I was confused,” Sirius said, his voice small, “Everything was such a mess, everything was so difficult, and no one knew anything, no one trusted anybody--”

“I remember.” Remus snapped. “I was there. I still trusted my friends.”

Sirius kept staring at his food, but Remus wasn’t finished, this had to come out eventually, he knew how it felt to leave things unsaid.

“D’you know how stupid I was? D’you want to know how completely dense I was, in those last months? I thought you wanted to break up with me! I wanted to come back from the pack and see if we could make things up - it never crossed my mind that you thought I was a… I mean, fucking hell, Sirius. I loved you!”

“Remus…”

“I loved you, and you left me with nothing , do you understand? I had nothing except a lot of scars and a drinking habit. So don’t start interrogating me about the bits of my life I’ve been able to put back together.”

Remus stood up and paced, the last of the full moon still hot in his veins. He stood by the window. He wanted to smoke, but he’d learnt by now not to give in to those kinds of urges - the kind that felt good, but would probably kill you in the end. The kind of urges he got when Sirius was around.

“I’m sorry.” Sirius’s voice was still very small. He was hunched forward, his hair in his face. Pitiful.

Remus felt terrible, even though he knew he deserved an apology. He hadn’t meant to be hurtful. For fuck’s sake, Remus scolded himself, why can’t we ever get this right?

“No, I’m sorry.” He said, steadying his voice, remembering to be understanding. “I didn’t mean to be so…”

“I understand. I swear, Moon--Remus, sorry - I swear, I thought about you every day. What you must think of me, what you must have heard… I was the stupid one, not you. I should have trusted you, I should have told you about Wormtail being made secret keeper - I mean, bloody hell, we should have made you secret keeper. Merlin, when I went to Godric’s Hollow that night… I just lost it.

“I would have done the same.” Remus sighed, “I’d have killed Wormtail. Sirius, I'm sorry too. I wish I hadn’t believed them - I wish I’d tried to investigate, done something to help you. I was just such a state, I barely went out, I was never sober. That stuff’s all my fault. ...And that’s why I needed Grant.”

Sirius nodded, forlorn, still sitting at the table. It was too much, the air was too thick.

“Here, are you finished?” Remus asked, needing a subject change, “I’ll do the washing up. Thanks for that, it was perfect.”

He cleared up the plates and took them through to the kitchen. He folded up the last of Sirius’s fried egg in a piece of toast and scoffed it - waste not want not. Sirius came in just as he was chewing,

“Same old Remus,” he snorted, “Finishing everyone’s food.”

“I know,” Remus laughed, slightly abashed, turning on the taps. “Grant used to call me the human refuse unit. Once he ordered a set meal for four from the takeaway downstairs, but got stuck on a work call, and by the time he came back I’d eaten the lot.”

Sirius took this anecdote pretty well. He came to stand beside Remus and took up a tea towel, so he could dry as Remus washed. They did this in companionable silence for a while, but Remus knew Sirius was building up to something. His body was giving off that agitated energy Remus recognised from long ago - were they going to have a fight again? He hoped not.

“How long was he here?” Sirius said, softly, “How long were you…”

“A long time.” Remus replied, concentrating on the dishes.

“It’s good that you had someone.” Sirius said, with remarkable humility. “I’m glad you weren’t alone.”

“He was better than I deserved.” Remus agreed, glancing at Sirius to check it was ok to continue. “I never thought I’d… I didn’t think I could ever love someone who wasn’t you. But I did. I loved him.”

Sirius opened his mouth, but seemed to think better of it, and closed it again. He nodded, a shadow of disappointment crossing his face. He was trying so hard . Remus put down the last dish, carefully, and wiped his hands dry on his jeans.

He turned back to face Sirius, who was watching him like a hawk.

“I loved him.” Remus said. “But he wasn’t you.”

Sirius’s eyes widened, hopefully. Remus gave him a small, shy smile, and a tiny shrug. Sirius leaned in, and all of a sudden they were inches apart, and then they were kissing, clutching each other tightly, as if it was their first and last.

It turned out you never really lost the knack. Like an unbroken spell, Remus felt every moment come flooding back to him as vividly as if it were yesterday; not the fights, or the war, or the emptiness, but the joy, the thrill of friendship, and the love - so, so much love; Remus felt as if he was being filled up with it; he was spilling over.

Just as it had been the very first time, Remus’s brain seemed to be yelling yes, yes yes ! and he held onto Sirius with both hands, you’re mine, you’re mine, you’re mine.

When they broke apart, they were both grinning, pressing their foreheads together, holding each other’s shoulders as if they were fighting - or falling.

“I love you,” Sirius whispered, “I love you so much.” He squeezed his eyes shut, “Don’t worry, you don’t have to say it back.”

“Of course I love you, you idiot,” Remus gasped, not sure if he was laughing or crying, “I never stopped.”

Sirius laughed too, though his cheeks were wet, and kissed him again. And again, and again, and again.

They weren’t teenagers anymore. They finished the washing up, and returned to the couch. Sirius suggested playing a record, instead of the TV, and Remus acquiesced, willing to give him anything he wanted. He selected Diamond Dogs, first, but Remus thought the lyrics to ‘We are The Dead’ might be too hard to hear. In the end it was Hunky Dory, which had happier tunes on it.

Sirius stretched out, his head in Remus’s lap, and Remus stroked his hair and bent over to kiss him whenever he liked, because he could, at last, he could .

“I missed you.” He whispered.

Sirius squeezed his hand and turned his head, slightly, obviously not wanting Remus to see the emotion on his face. He cleared his throat, “Tell you what I’ve missed,” he said, a smile playing on his lips - that Sirius Black grin - “Smoking. Haven’t got a fag, have you?”

“They’re bad for you.” Remus tutted. “They kill you.”

“We’re all dying,” Sirius replied.

“Maybe.” Remus agreed, lacing their fingers together, “But shouldn’t life last longer, if it can be like this?”

* * *

They fell asleep on the couch, probably because they were both too shy to suggest moving to the bedroom. Remus awoke to birdsong in the early hours of the morning, still upright, stiff, hips aching, the warm weight of Padfoot in his lap. He scratched sleepily behind the dog’s ear, pushing him away to get up and use the loo.

When he came back, Sirius was back to himself. “Sorry,” he said, “I keep turning in my sleep. I think I spent too long as a dog in Azkaban.”

“It’s fine,” Remus smiled, “I don’t mind at all.” He stretched, “What do we need to do today, is there anyone left on the list to talk to?”

“No, we’ve done everything,” Sirius said. “Except find a new headquarters. Hey, I had a thought about that - what about that old church you stayed in with the werewolves?”

“Oh, that… no, probably a bad idea. Greyback knows where it is.”

“He’s still around, then.”

“Mm hmm. Tea?”

“Please.”

Remus went into the kitchen and Sirius followed him, still talking, “I just thought that would be good, because it’s the middle of nowhere, so I can be there too. I hate the idea of you going off to meetings and me staying put.”

“Don’t you like it here?” Remus raised an eyebrow. He loved his little flat, “Other than Hogwarts, it’s the only place I’ve ever really felt at home.”

“Oh Remus.” Sirius squeezed his arm, “You’ve gone all soft in your old age.”

“Piss off.” Remus snorted, giving him a light nudge with his elbow. “We didn’t all grow up in mansions.”

“No but-- hey! Hey, Remus, that’s it!” Sirius was shaking his shoulder now, jogging Remus as he tried to pour the milk.

“Oi, watch it! What?”

“My mansion! Or it’s mine now, anyway - my parents are both dead, I’m the Black heir! The house will answer to me!”

“Oh, I see,” Remus frowned, turning to look at Sirius properly, “Are you sure? I mean… you really want to go back there?”

“Well, no, obviously I don’t. But it’s probably one of the most protected houses in Britain - the Blacks took home security really bloody seriously. There are enough rooms for all the Weasleys and then some - oh merlin, imagine my bitch mother’s face if she knew I’d invited the Weasleys over to stay! It’s something I can do to help, isn’t it?”

“But Sirius, think about it, you’ll be in the home your parents lived in - all their things will be there…”

“We’ll chuck it all out,” Sirius waved a hand, “And it’s so safe - a safe place for Harry, Remus.”

“It does sound…” Remus thought hard, coming around to the idea. “If you’re sure ?”

“Of course I am! And anyway, it won’t be half as grim if I have you there with me, will it?”

“Ha,” Remus poked him, “Now who’s gone soft?”

They got in touch with Dumbledore via the fireplace, and even he sounded impressed with this idea. He wanted to know how to get in, what sort of charms and curses Sirius knew about, how soon he could alert the Order.

“We’ll need to give the place a proper clean,” Sirius said, eagerly, “It’ll be full of junk, but I can help, if I’m going to be there all the time, and no one is better with magical pests than Remus!”

“An excellent idea, gentlemen,” Dumbledore’s eyes twinkled through the flames, “And right under Voldemort’s nose - in the home of his most loyal supporters! How soon can you both get there?”

“Tomorrow.” Remus said, quickly, because he knew Sirius had been about to say ‘right now!’ “We’ll go after dark, so it’s less suspicious.”

“Good man, Lupin,” Dumbledore said, “In that case I shall await word from you.”

His face vanished in a puff of smoke.

“Yes, Moony! Sorry, Remus…” Sirius cheered. “Amazing! Let's pack!”

Of course, Sirius had barely anything to pack, and was much too excited to be sensible anyway. That was left up to Remus, who began making a list of all the things they would need - books of course, all the notes from the first war. Clothes, food, bedsheets - Remus didn’t know how long Grimmauld Place had stood empty, he wasn't sure if any of it would be salvageable.

“I can finally show you my bedroom!” Sirius trilled, “Ooh, teenage me would be so jealous, getting Remus Lupin in my bedroom!”

“Ha,” Remus snorted, folding up robes and stuffing them into his trunk.

“And just wait until Harry arrives! We can sort out a room for him, and when the war's over, it'll be his…”

Remus smiled and kissed him and agreed it would all be lovely, it would be an adventure, because that was what Sirius needed from him just then. And he was determined to do everything Sirius needed for as long as he could.

“I can’t wait to see Andromeda - and her kid! Must be in seventh year now, surely? Hey, imagine if she and Harry fall in love, how completely mental would that be? Then he'd be… what, my second cousin?”

“Once removed, or something like that,” Remus acknowledged, “What are you talking about, anyway, they're almost a decade apart. We were thirteen when Andromeda had that kid.”

“And Moody, the old codger, and Arthur, and Gideon and…”

“Sirius, no,” Remus said, gently, “Remember, Gid and Fab died.”

“Oh… oh yeah…” Sirius's face fell, and Remus felt dreadful. Perhaps he couldn't just go along with everything. He touched Sirius's hand, “It's ok, you're already remembering things much better than a few weeks ago.”

“Maybe.” Sirius said, uncertain. He rubbed his arm. “I think I'll go and have a rest, if that's ok?”

“Of course.”

Remus finished all of the packing, and when he went back to the living room, Padfoot was curled up on the couch again.

They ate a light meal for dinner, and Remus had the TV on because it was his last night around all of his muggle comforts. They still decided to take all of their old records - though plenty had warped over time, and gave off an unpleasant hissing sound over the music. With everything packed away in trunks and boxes, it felt very final, to Remus. But perhaps that was just nerves.

He tried to stay calm, watching the sky outside turn a deeper shade of blue, the streetlights turning from pale pink to thick amber, and the stars beginning to show. Light pollution in London meant that stars were rare - you could only make out the very brightest ones.

Sirius's head was nodding against his shoulder already, as the tv announced the nine o'clock news. Remus yawned and flicked his wand at the screen, turning it off for the last time. “Oi,” he whispered to Sirius, “Come on, let’s go to bed.”

“Mmph.”

Remus had to shake him a bit, but finally Sirius staggered up and wandered zombie-like down the hall. Remus brushed his teeth and washed his face, then followed him in.

Sirius was standing beside the bed, biting his lip.

“Come on,” Remus yawned, climbing under the covers, “What's wrong?”

“Um. Nothing.” Sirius got in, slowly.

Remus pulled him close, so happy to have him near again. He wrapped his arms around Sirius's body and inhaled the scent of him, and buried his face in that beautiful hair. He felt so good. He felt complete. He kissed Sirius’s cheek, searching for his mouth, “Love you.”

“Love you too.” Sirius returned, though he was very tense, and turned his head away.

“What's wrong?” Remus asked, pulling away, “Am I being too…?”

“No, I just…” Sirius pulled back too. “Sorry, I just don't think I can… you know, any more.”

“Oh.” Remus blinked, “Oh, Jesus, sorry, I didn't mean to… of course not, if you don't want to.”

“No, I want to,” Sirius squirmed, “I'm just not sure I can. Since Azkaban… um. There's not really been a lot ‘going on’, if you know what I mean. I might not… er. I just don't want you to think it's you.

Oh!” Remus blinked again. He didn't really know what to say, or what to do. This was not a problem he'd ever encountered before. He wanted to be kind. “I’m just glad you're here,” he said, truthfully. “I don't need anything else.”

“Really?”

Really.

Sirius turned around, and took Remus's face in his hands, and kissed him, long and deep. That would have been enough; truly, honestly. Remus would have been happy with Sirius's lips, Sirius's taste and scent. But after a while, Sirius pulled back, and grinned,

“Doesn't mean I don't want you to try…”

And Remus just about dissolved.

It took a very long time. There had to be a lot more kissing, a lot more coaxing and gentle caresses and heated whispers; it took hours and hours. But how could Remus complain, when he finally had Sirius sighing in his arms again? It was so tender and so, so beautiful.

Afterwards they lay exhausted, and hot, and happy. Remus felt as if every hair on his body was singing; every nerve ending humming. Sirius curled into his body, and stroked his scars, like he used to.

“Hmmm.”

“Hmmm.”

“Remus?”

“Yes?”

“Can I ask you one question?”

“Oh,” Remus smiled, “If you really must.”

“What have you been doing all these years, Moon--sorry.”

“No, it’s ok. Call me Moony.”

“Moony.” he sighed, happily, “What have you been doing? When we called around everybody - they were as surprised to see you as me. They all said they hadn’t seen you for a long time.”

“Since the war.” Remus confirmed. “Since Lily and James.”

“Why?” Sirius asked, frowning.

“I couldn’t bear it.” Remus said, simply. “Being around anyone who knew what had happened. I’ve seen Mary once or twice, but no one else. I wanted to be alone.”

Sirius shook his head, looking frustrated. “I don’t understand you, Moony.”

“No,” Remus smiled softly, “No, you never did, quite.”

“Fair enough.” Sirius accepted.

He lay back onto Remus, with his whole weight - though that wasn’t much. It was pathetic, really. Two bony, wiry men, clinging together; both old before their time, and both so lost.

They had never understood each other, not really.

“You always tried, though.” Remus said, into Sirius’s hair. He wrapped an arm around him and kissed his head. “You still knew more than anyone else ever has. Ever will.”

“Even though I thought you were--”

“We don’t need to talk about that.”

Sirius gave half a sigh, and Remus knew he disapproved, but they’d done enough talking, for now. They were quiet for a long time, and Remus closed his eyes.

Finally, Sirius spoke.

“Even if we don’t talk about it, don’t you think we ought to try to forgive each other?”

“You sound like Dumbledore.” Remus snorted.

“Ha.” Sirius said. “Yeah, you’re right. Can you believe we’re back following orders from that old fool? I s’pose I don’t really know much about forgiveness.”

“Me neither.” Remus sighed.

“I don’t know if it’s worth anything, really, with lives as short as ours.” Sirius said, sadly,  “I think at this point, there’s only love and hate.”

“That’s very fatalistic of you.” Remus commented, “I thought I was supposed to be the pessimist.”

Sirius shuddered slightly, which Remus took for a laugh. He squeezed him tighter, and kissed his shoulder. “Love and hate.” He murmured, thoughtfully.

“Love or hate, I s’pose.” Sirius clarified. “You make a choice.”

“It’s that simple, then?”

“Yeah. I think it is.” Sirius reached for his hand under the duvet. He looked up at Remus, eyes now icy grey, but as piercing as ever. He was asking a question.

Remus squeezed his hand in answer,

“Love.” He said.

And then he kissed him.

 

The End.