After the group had explained what had happened, how they had been looking for Sirius, having found him at a hidden location only this afternoon, they had left. Apparently they had been told by Kingsley Shacklebolt that the safest place for Sirius would be with Remus, so without asking, or telling him about what was happening, they had taken him here. They had brought him upstairs, where they had put him in Remus’ bed. Remus hadn’t even known what to say or do, so he had simply watched, and accepted it. But now they are gone, and Sirius is in his bed, still unconscious, and severely wounded.
When he had watched him disappear through the veil, he had watched him die. He had watched his very best friend, die. So this, it doesn’t make sense. And yet, here he is. Looking pale, fragile, and his bones are sticking out of him. But it is him. Sirius is still alive. He shouldn’t be, but he is. Just as Remus is about to go downstairs to get a glass of water, he notices a movement on Sirius’ face. He goes over to him, and realises that he is waking up.
“Sirius?” he asks, his voice barely even audible.
“Sirius, is that really you?” Remus asks, and he can feel the tears burning in his eyes. Sirius opens his eyes, and he looks up at him.
“Moony?” Sirius asks, and Remus can’t help but smile. He kneels down beside the bed, and puts his hand on Sirius’ arm, to feel him, to make sure he is real, to make sure he isn’t dreaming.
“I watched you die,” Remus whispers, and Sirius turns his head to look at him.
“You’re not getting rid of me that easily.” He smiles, bringing up his hand. Remus grabs it, a tear falling from his eye. “I’m not dead yet.”
“How… I watched it happen, Sirius.”
“It wasn’t real,” Sirius says, but Remus can see that he is struggling to talk. “They…”
“Shh… I’ll get you something to drink.”
“Don’t go,” Sirius whispers, not letting go of Remus’ hand. “Please.”
“I’m not going anywhere.”
Remus had stayed up all night, to make sure Sirius was okay, to make sure he wouldn’t leave. To make sure it wasn’t all a trick. But in the morning, Kingsley had come by, to confirm what had happened, and how he had kept it quiet, in case the tip had been a lie, or a trick. He had asked Remus to take care of Sirius, to help him get back on his feet. And to find out what has happened to him. Remus doesn’t mind taking care of Sirius, but he isn’t going to interrogate him. If Sirius wants to tell him, he will listen. If not, then there must be reason for it, and that’s okay too.
“Do you want to try and have a shower?” Remus asks, after Sirius has woken up. His wounds all seem to be healed, or at least partially healed, but the blood is still there, and it is awful to see.
“Do I stink?” Sirius asks, a shy smile on his face.
“Well, that too, but…” Remus smiles, but mostly because it’s good to see a smile on Sirius’ face again. He didn’t think he would ever see that smile again.
“How long has it been?”
“Since you… disappeared?” Remus asks, and Sirius nods. “About two years,” he says, and he can see the tears forming in Sirius’ eyes. “You didn’t know?”
“I didn’t,” Sirius confirms. “And all this time, you thought I was…”
“Yes. We all did. Harry was so upset, he nearly went after you,” Remus says, trying to hide how upset he himself had been. But he knows that Sirius can see right through it. Even after all these years, Sirius is still his best friend, and no matter what has happened, and everything that has changed, their bond is still there.
“I am so sorry.”
“No, you have nothing to be sorry for. You…,” Remus tries, but he can feel a lump in his throat. “You are going to be okay.”
“Are you?” Sirius asks, but Remus just looks down at his feet. “Let’s try and have that shower,” Sirius then says, trying to change the subject, and Remus nods. He helps Sirius out of bed, and supports him, as he leads him to the small bathroom. Sirius is out of breath by the time he reaches it, having only taken a few steps, and Remus can already tell that he will not be able to stand on his feet long enough to take a shower.
“Let me help you,” he says, and although Sirius wants to object, because he doesn’t want Remus to see him like this, he still gives a little nod. Remus quietly helps him out of his clothes, and helps him sit down in the shower, because there is no way that he will be able to stand. It nearly brings tears to his eyes, to see the man he has once known to be so handsome, so strong and confident, now so skinny and fragile, his legs too weak to hold him up. But he tries to ignore it, as he turns the water on. And he tries his best to not think about what could possibly have happened to Sirius, as he washes away the dirt and the blood from his skin, from his hair, from his long beard. But to know that this has been done to him, that he has been hurt, it is something that he can’t ignore. It makes him feel sick to his stomach.
“Who would’ve thought, huh?” Sirius says, as he looks up at him.
“The two of us, in a shower together, after all these years,” Sirius explains, a small smile on his face. Remus can’t help but smile, as he shakes his head, but he doesn’t say a word.
It’s been a few days, and Remus is downstairs, preparing breakfast, when he hears the stairs creaking. He quickly goes over to them, and finds Sirius struggling down them, already out of breath.
“What are you doing?” he asks, as he quickly goes up the stairs, to help Sirius.
“I wanted to…,” Sirius begins, but then he gasps for breath. “Be here with you.”
“I was going to bring your breakfast up in just a minute.”
“I know,” Sirius says, as they get downstairs. “But I…”
“Shh,” Remus says, and he leads him to the kitchen table, where Sirius sits down. “Here, have a cup of tea.”
“Is this where you live?”
“Where are we?”
“Far away from other people,” Remus says, looking down at the eggs as he slides them onto a plate.
“It doesn’t matter. Here, eat,” Remus says, as he puts the plate down in front of Sirius. “You need to get your strength back.”
“What happened, Remus?”
“It doesn’t matter.”
“Is Harry… did he…?” Sirius asks, his voice now full of worry.
“Harry is fine. He is staying with the Weasley’s. They ehm… Voldemort is dead.”
“I heard. There was a battle?” Sirius asks, and Remus nods, images of that night flashing through his mind. “At Hogwarts?”
“Yes,” Remus answers, as he joins him at the table. “People died… people we knew. Friends.”
“And others. But Harry, he survived. That is all that matters,” Remus says, trying to change the subject. Sirius notices, and decides to let it go. There is time enough for them to talk about it later.
It is the first full moon tonight since Sirius has come back, and Remus is uncomfortable with leaving him on his own. So far, he had slept on the floor, in the corner of the room, so he could keep an eye on him. Sirius had told him to come sleep in the bed with him, but he had refused. But tonight he will have no choice but to leave him, and it has been making him anxious for days.
“It is a full moon tonight…”
“Will you be okay on your own? I can try and contact someone…,” Remus begins, but Sirius stops him.
“I am fine. I am already getting stronger,” he says, as he flashes a small smile. He still looks fragile, but there is a strength in his eyes now. Remus can’t help but look into them, wondering what has happened to him. But then memories from their time at Hogwarts come flooding back, and he can feel his face getting flushed. Sirius notices, and puts a hand on his. “I have missed you so much, Remus. Not just for the last… two years, but since my time at Azkaban. Not having you in my life…”
“I know,” Remus says, and he looks down at their hands.
“I so wish we could…,” Sirius says, but then he stops, trying to find the right words. “I wish things would have been different.”
When Remus wakes up the next morning, his skin feels too tight, and his heart is pounding out of his chest. The Wolfsbane Potion had changed his life, he had managed to keep his condition under control. But after Severus’ death, he hadn’t managed to make the potion himself. His supply had run out last full moon, and now fully experiencing the transformation again, fully becoming the wolf again, it is making him cry out in pain. The pain is nearly unbearable, and his body doesn’t feel right anymore. Even after more than thirty years, it is something he can’t get used to. But then the door opens, and he keeps quiet.
Sirius find him in the corner of the room, panting, sweating, the hair stuck to his forehead. Without saying a word, he goes over to him, and cuddles up to him, wrapping his arms around his waist. He hasn’t done this in nearly twenty years, but it doesn’t matter. It still feels right, like their bodies were meant to fit together.
“Did you forget to take your potion because of me?” Sirius asks, and Remus looks down at his hands. They are sitting at the kitchen table, having just had lunch, which Sirius had prepared. Remus had wanted to help, but Sirius had refused to let him. “I am so sorry, Remus… I will help you remember, I…”
“There is no potion,” Remus interrupts him, and he looks up at Sirius, who has a confused look on his face. “Severus, he ehm…”
“He died,” Sirius sighs, now understanding what has happened, how Remus has run out of the one thing that could help him. Remus gives a little nod, and Sirius puts a hand on his. “We will find a way, we…”
“We can’t,” Remus interrupts him again. “I have tried, trust me. But we can’t.”
“Right,” Sirius says, but he knows he won’t let it go. He will find a way to help Remus. He has to.
It has been nearly a week, and Remus is starting to feel better again. More like himself. But when he wakes up, and finds his bed empty, his skin feels like it’s on fire again. Have the last few weeks all been a dream? Had he imagined it? He gets up, and goes downstairs, hoping to find Sirius there, but the house is empty, and his anxiety makes his want to go back upstairs, get into bed, and never get out. Because how could he have imagined that Sirius was still alive? He had watched him die. He had seen it happen.
But then he notices something outside, and he breathes a sigh of relief. Sirius is sitting on the ground, watching the sunrise. Remus watches him for a minute, as he tells himself that it’s okay. Sirius is alive. But then he leaves the house, and joins him.
“I thought you had gone,” Remus says, not telling him how scared he really had been, and what he had really thought.
“I didn’t want to wake you up.”
“Right,” Remus says, but he can tell from Sirius’ voice that something is wrong. He wants to ask him, but he isn’t sure if he should. They had spent a lot of time together after he had moved in with him after he had left Hogwarts, but they had mostly talked about the Order, about Harry. They hadn’t talked about themselves. They hadn’t even spoken about Lily and James, or Peter for that matter. It just hadn’t been the right time. But is there ever a right time to talk about those kinds of things?
“I’m just having a bad day,” Sirius tells him, still looking out at the sky. He brings his hand up to his head, and sighs. “Up here.”
“Do you want to talk about it?”
“So you can tell them?” Sirius snaps, but he feels guilty about it right away. “I didn’t mean…”
“I was asked to find out what happened to you, but if you want me to keep it to myself, I will. You know that,” Remus says, and Sirius nods, now finally looking at him.
“I know,” he says, and a long silence follows, where he just looks at him. But then he takes a deep breath, before looking back at the sky. “The veil, it wasn’t real.”
“How did they…?”
“I don’t know, but that’s how they… They wanted people to believe that we were dead, so people wouldn’t come look for us.”
“I wasn’t the only the one,” Sirius says, as he looks down at his hands, and Remus can see the tears in his eyes. “There were others, dozens… men, women, children…”
“But they only said they found you? How…,” Remus begins, but then he stops himself, and he gives a little nod.
“They tortured us, for information.”
“I am so sorry,” Remus says, his voice shaky, and Sirius looks up at him, the tears still in his eyes.
“They tortured us, but no one said a thing. Even the children, they…” A tear rolls down his face, and he quickly wipes it away. “We never told them anything.”
“I believe you,” Remus says, and he reaches up, to wipe a tear from Sirius’ face. It’s instinctual, but the second his hand touches Sirius’ skin, Sirius closes his eyes.
“I can still hear their screams.”
“Sirius, I…,” Remus tries, but what can he possibly say? All he can do is wrap his arms around him, and hold him tight.
“Why me, Remus?” Sirius sobs. “I watched them die, all of them, but… why did they let me live?”
“Because you were the strongest,” Remus tells him, and he lets go of him. “You survived, because you are strong.”
“There were children…,” Sirius sobs, more tears falling from his eyes.
“I know. Believe me, I know,” Remus whispers, as images from the Battle flash before his eyes. The dead bodies of students, some of his former students, some only eleven years old… he can still see them, clear as day. Sirius can see the pain in his eyes, and it breaks his heart to see it. Because the pain, it is the same pain as his.
The two men had kept to themselves for the rest of their day, and only now, in the late afternoon, does Remus get back from a long walk. After their conversation he had needed to be on his own and have some time to think. The fear of something happening to Sirius is still there, but Sirius is getting stronger each day, and he knows that he can’t be there to protect him every moment of the day. He needs time to himself, to deal with everything that has happened, and is still happening.
“So, what do you think?” Sirius asks, when Remus walks into the living room. Remus can’t help but smile when he looks at him, and sees that he has shaved off his long beard, and cut off some of his hair. He now has a short moustache and goatee again, and looks like he had done years ago. His face is still gaunt, but it actually gives Remus chills to see him looking so well again. To see him looking like himself.
“We should find some new clothes for you,” Remus says, trying not to show how emotional he is getting, but Sirius can tell, and he flashes a small smile.
“I quite like wearing yours.”
“Sure you do.” Remus lets out a small, embarrassed chuckle, and looks down at the floor.
“I do,” Sirius says, and he comes over to him, and puts his hands on the sides of Remus’ neck. “They smell like you,” he whispers, a mischievous smile on his face, and Remus can feel his face getting flushed. “I love you, Remus.”
“I love you too,” Remus says, but saying those words, it terrifies him. The people he loves, they die, they get hurt. So saying ‘I love you’ again, after all this time, it feels like he is putting a curse on Sirius.
“I’ve missed you,” Sirius whispers, before placing a short, sweet kiss on Remus’ lips. They wrap their arms around each other, and pull each other close, not wanting to let go anymore.