“Mhm?” Sirius mumbles. They are lying on their backs, in the grass, looking up at the stars.
“What happened, that night?”
“You mean when James and Lily…”
“Yes,” Remus says, and Sirius turns to face him.
“I didn’t betray them.”
“I know. I’ve always known that,” Remus quickly says. “Peter did, and he faked his death, and framed you for it.”
“He did, but… I did go out there to kill him.”
“Because of what he had done?”
“Yes,” Sirius says, an embarrassed look on his face. “And if it hadn’t been for me, James and Lily, they wouldn’t have been at risk. They wanted me…”
“I know, but it would’ve been too predictable. Voldemort would have known, and he would have ended up killing you.”
“But I would have never betrayed them, I would have kept quiet,” Sirius says, and Remus nods. “But they wanted you.”
“But then how…?” Remus asks, not understanding.
“I didn’t trust you,” Sirius admits. “I was jealous, and pitiful, so… I told them they couldn’t trust you.”
“Right…,” Remus says, a sharp pain going through his stomach. He had, not once, believed that Sirius would have betrayed their friends. To know that Sirius hadn’t trusted him, it hurts.
“They died, because of me.”
“No, they died because of Voldemort. Because of Peter. You did nothing wrong,” Remus tries, but he can’t hide his hurt.
“Remus, I trust you, more than anyone in this world. You do know that, right?” Sirius asks, but Remus just looks away. “I was hurt, because we didn’t work out, because of my jealousy. I was messed up, up here,” Sirius continues, putting his fingers to his head. “I loved you, and I fucked that up, because I was being a…”
“A brat?” Remus asks, and Sirius can’t help but smile.
“Yes, I acted like a brat. A jealous, pathetic brat. I was insecure, and jealous, but deep inside, I always knew that I could trust you. More than anyone, I would trust you with my life.”
“Then why… They died, thinking they couldn’t trust me,” Remus says, and Sirius sighs.
“They knew that they could trust you. Perhaps they knew you were a predictable choice as well. Perhaps they…”
“What?” Remus asks, but then Sirius stops talking, and he looks back up at the sky.
“I miss them,” Sirius admits, a lump in his throat. Remus knows that James had been like a brother to Sirius, and that losing him, would have felt like losing a part of himself.
“Me too,” Remus sighs, and he looks up at the stars, wondering what life would be like if James and Lily hadn’t died that night. Where they would be right now. Where he himself would be right now. Would he have been happy?
“Do you remember the lake at Hogwarts?” Sirius asks, one morning, a few days after another full moon. Remus is cuddled up in bed, with a cup of tea, while Sirius is sitting at his feet.
“Is it still there?”
“It is.” Remus smiles into his cup of tea, remembering his last night at Hogwarts, when he and his friends had gone swimming after the dance. “Many things are still being repaired, or have gotten damaged beyond repair, but… the lake survived.”
“I often dreamt about it, when I was in Azkaban,” Sirius admits.
“I did,” Sirius confirms, and Remus can see the blush on his face. He tries hard not to, but can’t help but smile.
“There is a lake out there,” he says, and he looks out of the window. “It’s about a fifteen-minute walk, but…”
“We should go.”
“We’re too old,” Remus laughs. Sirius looks offended for a second, then raises an eyebrow.
“Oh, really? We’re too old to swim?”
“We are. We…”
“Fuck off,” Sirius laughs, and Remus shakes his head as he looks down at his tea again. But then he feels Sirius putting a hand on his leg.
“Don’t. Please, just… don’t,” Remus says, and Sirius takes his hand back, looking confused.
“I didn’t mean to…,” he tries, but then he sighs. “Why do you live out here, Remus? What happened?”
“It doesn’t matter.”
“What happened to you was worse,” Remus says, and Sirius moves, to sit next to him, resting his head on his shoulder.
“Tell me,” he says, and he holds his hand up. Remus grabs it, and looks out of the window again. But thinking about everything that has happened, it hurts. It makes him want to scream, because the pain is nearly tearing him apart. But then he compares it to what Sirius has been through, and he feels awful. Because he had lost his life, being locked up in Azkaban, then not getting the chance to fully live, because of having to hide, then being taken by the enemy and being tortured for years… It is so much worse. And yet… He takes a deep breath, and tells Sirius everything, from not feeling like he belongs, to the pain he feels at having lost his friends, to what he had seen during the Battle, to being scared to hurt people if he lets them get close.
“You are not cursed, Remus,” Sirius sighs. “You are just… we all are, a part of this, of what has happened. If you are cursed, then so am I. People die during a war, and it isn’t fair, but…,” he continues, trying to find the right words. “We have all lost family, friends. But that doesn’t mean that you should lock yourself away and hide for the rest of your life. I mean, I’m still alive, am I not? So if you were cursed, wouldn’t I have died?”
“You did die, Sirius. I watched it happen.”
“Yes, you did,” Sirius says, and he looks down at their hands. “But I am not dead, Remus. It was only a trick. You are not cursed.”
“It feels like it. Tonks…”
“Was killed during battle. That had nothing to do with you. If she hadn’t been your friend, she still would have been out there, fighting to protect those students.”
“I know,” Remus admits.
“I truly am sorry that you lost her, but… it had nothing to do with you,” Sirius repeats, and Remus nods. “You are not cursed, you are not dangerous, or a monster. Do you hear me?”
“Don’t,” Sirius says, and Remus can’t help but smile. Even though the fear is still there, to lose people, it is good to be with Sirius again. To talk to him, to hear him speak, to watch him smile. To simply be with him. “When did you feel like you did belong?”
“At Hogwarts,” Remus admits. “Back when we were there, but also when I taught there. Well, until Severus…”
“Then go back to Hogwarts. Ask… who is headmaster now?”
“McGonogall?” Sirius flashes a big smile. “She loves you, she always has. Go back to Hogwarts, and ask for your old job back.”
“I’m sure someone else has already…”
“So what?” Sirius asks. “Ask her. You need to find something that makes you happy, and if you were happy out there, then go back.”
“If you don’t ask her, I will,” Sirius asks, and Remus shakes his head, knowing that Sirius actually will do it. He is stubborn enough. “Besides, I will have to move out some day, and find myself something to do. Well, cleaning up the place is…”
“You can’t,” Remus interrupts him, and Sirius looks at him, a confused look on his face. “You don’t own the house anymore.”
“You died,” Remus explains. “So everything you owned, it all went to Harry. He owns the house.”
“I’m sure we can contact him, and if we explain it to him, he will…”
“No,” Sirius interrupts him. “It’s fine. He can keep it. I will find somewhere else to live.”
“Stay,” Remus blurts out, feeling his face getting flushed. “Move in with me.”
“Well, if you insist,” Sirius laughs.
“I do. I like having you here, Sirius,” Remus admits, and Sirius flashes a small, shy smile, before bringing his hand up, to brush the hair out of Remus’ face. It’s only a small move, but Remus remembers him doing it all the time, back when they had been at Hogwarts, and it makes him think of everything that has happened between them. Of everything that could have been. Of everything that could be. But then he just flashes a small smile, and Sirius brings his hand down again, and looks out of the window.
“I still think we should go to that lake you mentioned.”
“You’re not going to let this go, are you?”
“No,” Sirius says, a mischievous smile on his face.
“Let’s go then.”
“Wow, this is beautiful,” Sirius says, a look of awe on his face. The lake is nowhere near as large as the one at Hogwarts, and the view isn’t as grand. But Remus has to agree that it is beautiful, especially because everything is still in bloom, and the lake is surrounded by all kinds of brightly coloured flowers.
“I told you,” Remus says, but then he runs out of breath, still recovering from the full moon, which had exhausted him, and having just walked for fifteen minutes. “didn’t I?” he continues, and Sirius looks at him, now a concerned look on his face.
“It can’t go on like this, Remus.”
“What do you want me to do?”
“I’ve been thinking.”
“Here we go.” Remus rolls his eyes, and Sirius can’t help but smile, as they slowly but surely make their way over to the edge of the lake.
“Do you remember how we used to stay with you when you were…”
“A wolf?” Remus asks, and Sirius nods. “You stayed with me, what, six times? Peter got bored, and James forgot all about it, because he was too distracted doing whatever it was that he was doing with Lily.”
“I know,” Sirius sighs. “And I fought with them over it, many times. I truly did. We had spent years learning how to become Animagi, and once we finally could do it, they simply… gave up. I…,” Sirius stops himself, and he looks out at the water. “I felt like they were betraying you.”
“I did not know that you fought with them over me. I’m sorry.”
“No,” Sirius quickly says, and he looks back up at Remus. “I so wished to help you Remus, I still do. But when they weren’t there, the first full moon, I could see the hurt in your eyes, and you pushed me away. You wouldn’t let me…”
“I wasn’t going to let you risk your life,” Remus interrupts him. “When they were there, it was three against one if something happened. But if it was just you, then… I was afraid that I was going to end up killing you,” he explains, the feelings of anxiety coming back to him. “And I was right to. That night, when you came back to Hogwarts, and Harry and his friends were there, and you showed us that Peter had been there all that time… I transformed, and I hurt you, Sirius. I am still dangerous.”
“That was different,” Sirius tries, but he can see the fear and pain in Remus’ eyes. “If I stay with you, then…”
“Then you will die,” Remus interrupts him, and he wants to turn around, but Sirius grabs his arm.
“I am not giving up on you,” Sirius says, and he can see tears form in his former partner’s eyes. “I have stayed with you, every single full moon, when I could. And I will stay with you every single time, for as long as I can. Do you hear me?”
“No. When we stayed with you, we managed to get this under control, even without a potion. You weren’t dangerous anymore, not to us anyway. So I am telling you, I am staying with you, and I am not going to die. Because you are not dangerous,” Sirius says, and he puts a hand on Remus’ chest. “Even when you are the wolf, it is still you in there.”
“It is,” Sirius confirms, and he flashes a small smile. His hand is still on Remus’ chest, and they can both feel his heart beating fast. Sirius moves his hand up to his neck, very gently, very softly, and he can see Remus shiver. “I love you, Remus.”
“I love you too,” Remus whispers, and Sirius leans forward to kiss him, but Remus pulls away. “Please don’t.”
“I am so sorry.”
“No, I… I just can’t.”
“I understand. I shouldn’t have done that,” Sirius says, and he takes a step away from him. “How about we go for a swim?”
“I would like that,” Remus says, still embarrassed at what had just happened. But not as embarrassed as he is about what is about to happen. He is about to undress in front of Sirius for the first time in years, and although he knows that Sirius will never judge him, he can’t help but feel embarrassed. He had always been embarrassed about his body, even when he had first stepped into that shower with Sirius, back at Hogwarts. But back then, he had been young, and things had been exciting. He had managed to get over it quickly. But this is different. He has gotten older, and his body is now covered in more scars, more ugliness. Once he undresses, there will be nothing to hide behind. Sirius will see all of his ugliness, and it makes him want to run. But he can’t.
He quickly gets out of his clothes, and takes a deep breath, before turning around. But then he can’t help but look at Sirius’ body, and it makes him hate himself for thinking about himself, about his own scars. He had helped Sirius shower for the first few days, so he had seen his body, but he hadn’t fully taken it in. But seeing his body right now, in the open air, the bright sunlight shining down on it, it fully hits him. He has gained some weight back, but his ribs are still sticking out, his tattoos from his time in Azkaban seeming even darker, against his sickly pale skin. But what breaks Remus, are the scars. Sirius is covered in them, and Remus can’t even begin to imagine what must have been done to him.
“I know I have gotten older, but it can’t be that bad, can it?” Sirius laughs, but Remus can see the sadness in his eyes. “Let’s get in.”
“Yes,” Remus quickly says, and they both get into the lake. The water is warm, and just feeling it on his skin, makes Remus feel better. He closes his eyes, as he simply lets himself float around. But then he opens his eyes, and notices Sirius watching him, with a small smile on his face. “What?”
“It’s good to see a smile on your face,” Sirius says, and Remus can feel his face flush. The smile on Sirius’ face changes, and Remus can tell that he is getting shy now. “I shouldn’t be telling you this, but…”
“I can’t stop thinking about what we had, what we did, back at Hogwarts,” Sirius admits, and Remus looks down at the water, avoiding Sirius’ gaze. “When I see you, I want to hold you, and kiss you, I want to…”
“Don’t,” Remus says, and he looks up, only to find Sirius closer to him now.
“I miss what we had, Remus. And I am trying to figure out how you feel about me, about our past, but I can’t,” Sirius admits. “Most of the time I can tell exactly what you’re thinking, but when it comes to us, I just can’t tell.”
“I’m sorry,” Remus says, and Sirius gives a little nod. “I am scared.”
“I watched you die. I lost you,” Remus tries to explain, but even as the words leave his mouth, he knows that they sound ridiculous. But it’s the truth, he had watched his best friend, and former partner, die, and he can still remember the pain he had felt back then. Letting Sirius get that close again, knowing that he can lose him again, knowing that he will have to go through that pain again, it scares him more than almost anything.
“But you didn’t lose me. We both survived, and we have gotten a second chance, Remus.”
“I can’t lose you,” Remus whispers, and Sirius sighs.
“Do you remember what James said to you, on the night of the dance?”
“He told you to not be scared, and live your live hidden away. That is what you are doing. I am not just talking about us, but look around you. When was the last time you have spoken to anyone, outside of your monthly trip into town to get food?”
“You are hiding, because you are scared,” Sirius continues, not giving him a chance to speak. “You are doing exactly what James told you not to do.”
“Stop acting like a baby, and grow up,” Sirius spits out. “Get out there, and take a chance.”
“For me, taking a chance and leaving this place, means that I might end up killing people.”
“Fuck off, Remus. You are nearly forty years old, and you haven’t killed anyone, so I’m pretty sure you will manage just fine out there,” Sirius continues. “You are not staying here to protect other people. You are staying here, hidden away, because you are scared. You are scared to get hurt again, and to lose people. But that is life. If you stay here, you will have no one to lose, but is that what you want?”
“No,” Remus admits, an empty feeling in his stomach.
“Then get out there, go back to Hogwarts, and get your job back. Fight for it, fight for what makes you happy. Because if you stay here, you will never be happy.”
“I know.” Remus nods, and he looks out at the water. He can feel Sirius’ hand on his arm, giving it a little squeeze, and he looks back at his best friend. “I will go back. But only if you go with me.”
“I have nothing there, I…”
“You have me,” Remus interrupts him, and a small smile forms on Sirius’ lips.
“I do?” he asks, and Remus nods. He wraps his arms around Sirius, and pulls him into a tight hug. “Then I will go with you.”
“What?” Sirius laughs, when he notices Remus staring at him. They are on the couch, Remus cuddled up under a blanket, with a cup of tea in his hands, Sirius on the other side of the couch, his feet against Remus’, underneath the blanket.
“You’re going grey.”
“What?” Sirius asks, and Remus can’t help but laugh at the offended look on his face. His own hair had started to turn grey years ago, but it hadn’t bothered him at all. So to see the look on Sirius’ face, it only makes him laugh.
“Fuck off,” Sirius laughs. “I’m not.”
“You really are,” Remus laughs, and he leans forward, to bring his hand up to Sirius’ hair. But Sirius just leans forward, and presses his lips against Remus’. Remus returns the kiss, but then leans back again, shaking his head. But he is unable to hide the shy smile on his face. Because for just a moment, he remembers their very first kiss, all those years ago.
“So, when are we going back to Hogwarts then?” Sirius asks, two weeks after they have had their conversation about Remus trying to get his job back. Remus was supposed to contact Minerva about it, but he still hasn’t, and Sirius knows it. Because he knows that Remus is still scared.
“Haven’t contacted her.”
“We’re still going,” Sirius says, and before Remus can open his mouth to say another word, he continues. “So that’s that.”
“The new year starts in just a few weeks… we can’t go, Sirius. If we go, people will know you’re alive, and they can’t, not until…”
“We are told it’s safe for me out there,” Sirius interrupts. “It’s a good thing I know how to hide then, isn’t it? I make a pretty great dog.”
“You’d go back, as…”
“Well, what else am I going to use it for? It took me years to learn how to do it, so I might as well use it, right?” Sirius shrugs, and Remus can’t help but smile. “You’re running out of excuses here, Remus.”
“I am. So I guess I better contact Minerva then.”
“I guess so.” Sirius flashes a big smile, before giving him a kiss. “And don’t forget to tell her that you’re bringing a pet,” he adds, before winking and walking off.