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What It Means To Me

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It has been twenty years since Remus and his friends had graduated from Hogwarts. Twenty years since they had left the comfort of what had been like a home to them for seven years. They had been excited to see what the future had in store for them. And at first, it had been exciting. Remus had brought his best friend, now his partner, Sirius, home to tell his parents about their relationship. They had welcomed him to the family, and Remus couldn’t have been more relieved. It had only been weeks, until Lily had found them a place to live, and they had moved out. She and James had taken one of the bedrooms, Remus and Sirius the other. It hadn’t been the nicest apartment, but it had been nice enough. Remus would have lived anywhere, as long as he could live with his friends. It had been exciting, and they had had a great time. Especially when Lily and James had gotten married, things had looked up. Their futures had all seemed as bright as can be.
But once Lily and James had moved out, things had changed. Remus had noticed a change in Sirius. Sirius had gotten jealous, he had become suspicious. Whenever Remus would come back from assignments for the Order, Sirius would ask him about his day. But not in a kind, interested way. It would be like he was interrogating him. Trying to catch him in a lie. It had started to grate on Remus, and they had gotten into arguments about it. Still, they had been in love, and they couldn’t imagine not being together. But one night, Sirius almost hit Remus, only just stopping himself in time. That’s when they knew that it wasn’t working anymore. It had stopped being fun.
Three years after they had graduated, Remus’ life had fallen apart. Lily and James had just had a baby, Harry, and anyone could see how much they had loved the little boy. He had watched Sirius hold the baby in his arms, and it had made him feel something which he hadn’t felt for a long time. It had made him fall back in love with him all over again, watching him be his old self again, the happy young man, full of excitement, full of joy. He had been planning to tell him, but then it had all come crashing down. Lily and James had been murdered by Voldemort, Sirius had been arrested for murder, including that of their former friend, Peter. Lily had invited him to the wedding, and slowly but surely, afterwards, they had accepted him back into their lives. But the minute Remus had heard about what had happened that night, about Sirius betraying their friends, he knew that something about it wasn’t right. It had to have something to do with Peter. But Peter was dead. So were his friends. And Sirius was gone, off to Azkaban. He had lost them all.
For years he had wandered, trying to make sense of it, trying to find a purpose, to find his place in the world. But nothing seemed to make sense, not without his friends. It wasn’t until Albus Dumbledore had invited him back to Hogwarts, to fill in a position, that he had felt a sense of purpose in his life again. Not only did coming back to Hogwarts give him the chance to have the potion that would change his life, that would keep his condition under control. But it also gave him the chance to meet Harry, Lily and James’ son, whom he had not seen since he was a baby. Life had finally started to make sense, and he had finally looked forward to the future. But there was also the issue of Sirius escaping from Azkaban, and people saying that he was coming after Harry. Remus didn’t believe the lies, because Sirius would never hurt Harry, but he could tell that people looked at him differently. They knew that he and Sirius had been friends, and he could tell that people wondered if he knew something. If perhaps, he had helped the murderer escape. But then Peter had turned out to not have been murdered at all, and he had indeed turned out to be the one who had betrayed their friends. Sirius had come back to Hogwarts, but not to hurt Harry, to protect him. It had nearly broken Remus, to see Sirius again, after all these years. But there had been no time to let himself think about it, because it had been a horrible night, where his condition had nearly killed Harry and his friends, and he had hurt Sirius. And before the night was over, Sirius had gone. Severus Snape had told everyone about his condition, and he had felt like he had no choice but to leave Hogwarts once again. He couldn’t stand the judgement. The fear in people’s eyes.
The Order had been reinstated, and Remus had, horrible as he felt about it, been glad to have a purpose again. He would take on everything, small or unimportant as the assignment might be. He just needed to have something to do. He needed to have things make sense. But he was still wandering, he still didn’t feel like he had a place in the world. And when he had to come home, he had realised that he had had no home. Members of the Order would go and stay with Sirius at Grimmauld Place 12, so, nervous as he was, one night he had knocked on the door, to ask for a place to stay. Sirius had invited him to stay for as long as he wanted, and Remus had been more than grateful. But there had also been an awkwardness between them, which neither of them would mention. They had a past, but with everything that was happening, with the danger looming, it didn’t feel right to mention it. So they had kept quiet, and whenever there had been an awkward moment, they had simply laughed it off, or ignored it all together. They figured that one day there would be time to talk about things.
But then came the battle at the Department of Mysteries. Remus had felt strong, he had felt confident, as he had stood there, duelling, with his friends by his side, most new, but one his oldest and very best friend. It had made him feel more confident that they were going to win this war, than ever before. But then it had happened. Bellatrix Lestrange, Sirius’ own cousin, had murdered him. Sirius had disappeared through the veil. Within seconds, he was gone. Remus had watched it happen, and his legs had nearly given out. But then he had seen Harry, and the thought of losing that boy as well, it had given him a new surge of strength. He had been able to stop him from going after Sirius, but all he had wanted to do, was go after him himself. Because when he lost Sirius, he lost a part of himself.
Nymphadora Tonks, another cousin of Sirius, had actually been the one to help him, after Sirius’ death. She had been there for him, and she had listened to him. She had been the one who held him, when he had broken down, unable to deal with the pain. She had been the one to get him back on his feet. She had become a great friend, and without her, Remus wasn’t sure he would have coped.
But two months ago, his world was torn apart all over again. All of their lives had been torn apart, during the Battle of Hogwarts. So many lives had been taken that night, so many people having lost their friends, their brothers, their sisters, their children. It had been slaughter. And they had all seen things which they will never be able to unsee. Remus had fought, and he had nearly been killed. But somehow, he had survived. His wounds should have killed him, but somehow, something had kept him alive. He had lost many of his friends though, including the woman who had saved him after Sirius’ death. She had died, protecting students. Her death, it had made Remus feel cursed. Everyone around him died. His friends, they died. If he had stayed away from them, then maybe, they would have survived. Maybe they would still be okay. The guilt had nearly torn him apart, and it had made him decide to leave. Because the thought of losing more people, of hurting the people he loves, it is unbearable.
He had moved into a small cabin, out in the country, and although it could do with some fixing up, it is good enough. He doesn’t need much. As long as he is on his own, unable to hurt people, he will manage. He has gotten used to the loneliness by now.

But currently there is a lot of noise outside, and he gets up to look out of the window. There is a group of people, and they are huddled together, looking at something on the ground. Remus grabs his wand, and goes outside.
“Who are you?” he asks, ready to fight if he needs to. But then he sees what they are looking at. His skin starts burning up, and there is a sick feeling in his stomach. “No…”
“We found him,” one of the men says, a look of shock on his face. “We finally found him.”
“No, he died. I watched him die,” Remus manages to bring out, as he watches them pick up the wounded man from the ground. “Who are you?”
“We work for the Ministry, we…”
“No, Kingsley, he… he would have told me,” Remus says, but he can feel his legs wobbling, as the group walks past him, into his house.
“It was a secret mission. We had gotten a tip, and we have been looking for him ever since,” the first man says, and he puts a hand on Remus’ arm. “It’s him, Remus. Sirius is alive.”

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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.
“Mhm.”
“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.
“What?”
“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?”
“It is.”
“Where are we?”
“Far away from other people,” Remus says, looking down at the eggs as he slides them onto a plate.
“Why?”
“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.”
“Dumbledore…”
“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…”
“Oh, right.”
“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.”
“Me too.”

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.”
“We?”
“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.

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“Sirius?”
“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.”
“Me?”
“Not Peter.”
“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.
“Of course.”
“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.
“You did?”
“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.”
“It does.”
“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?”
“But…”
“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?”
“Minerva.”
“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.”
“We’ll see…”
“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.”
“Why not?”
“You died,” Remus explains. “So everything you owned, it all went to Harry. He owns the house.”
“Right.”
“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?”
“But…”
“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 isn’t.”
“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…”
“Tell me.”
“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.”
“Of me?”
“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?”
“I…”
“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?”
“I…”
“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.”
“I know.”
“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.
“You are.”
“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.
“I…”
“Haven’t contacted her.”
“Yes…”
“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.

Chapter Text

What It Means To Me cover

“How are you feeling?” Sirius asks, as he and Remus are about to leave for Hogwarts. Over the last few days, Remus had hardly eaten a thing, and he had gone for long walks by himself. Sirius had tried to give him some space, but it had been difficult, because he just wanted to look out for him, and take care of him.
“I’m scared to go back,” Remus admits. “The last time I was there, I…,” he begins, but then he stops himself. Sirius grabs his hand, and gives it a squeeze.
“I know,” he says, and he lets out a sigh. “To go back to the place where you’ve seen those things happen, where… But think of the good times you’ve had there. That was our home, remember?” Sirius asks, and Remus nods and flashes a small smile. “It is going to be a home to so many other students, and they are going to make memories there, make friends, learn about themselves, perhaps find love... Like we did.”
“I know.”
“And I’ll be there with you, every step of the way,” Sirius says. “I may be a little furry at times, but I’ll be there,” he adds, and Remus lets out a small chuckle. Sirius brings up his hand, and brushes the hair out of Remus’ face. “It’s going to be okay. I promise.”
“I’m going to be sick,” Remus says, as he takes a deep breath, getting ready to step into the castle. The large black dog nuzzles his nose into his hand, and Remus can’t help but smile. “I…,” he begins to say, but then a young boy comes up to him, looking nervous. Most students aren’t arriving until next week, but some had arrived a few days ago, to help getting some of the damaged classrooms ready for a new year.
“Hello, sir,” the boy says. “is that your dog?”
“It is,” Remus says, a big smile on his face.
“May I pet him, sir?” the boy asks.
“Yes, he won’t bite.” Remus smiles, and the boy kneels down to start petting Sirius. Remus tries not to laugh, because he knows that Sirius loves the attention as a dog, he always has. But then, he had always loved the attention as a young man as well.
“We have a dog at home, his name is Goofy. My little brother named him. He’s a Labrador,” the boy rambles on. “I’m really going to miss him.”
“I can imagine,” Remus says, as the large black dog rests his heavy head on the boy’s shoulder, the boy giving him a big hug.
“What is his name, sir?”
“His name?” Remus asks, trying to come up with something, because people can’t know that Sirius is alive. Even having him here, like this, is dangerous because some people will recognise him. “Snuffles.”
“Snuffles?” the boy laughs, and the dog stares up. Remus can see an annoyed look in his eyes, and tries not to laugh, as he nods.
“Well, it’s more of a nickname. His real name is Padfoot.”
“That’s a great name, sir.”
“Thank you.”
“You have a lovely dog, sir,” the boy says, as he gets up, brushing the hairs from his hands. Without saying another word, the boy turns around and walks off. Remus looks down at Sirius, and sees him still looking annoyed.
“Oh, please, you love the attention,” he laughs, and he pets his head, before continuing on to Minerva’s office. When he gets there, he knocks on the door, but there is no answer. So he wants to turn around and leave, but then the door opens, and Minerva appears, looking stronger, more determined, than ever before.
“Ah, Remus,” she says, and when she notices the dog next to him, a small smile appears on her face. “When you said you were bringing a pet, I was hoping it was indeed... Come on in,” she says, as she steps aside, to let the two men enter into her office. “Sirius, I…,” she begins, but she stops herself, as the dog turns into an older, still gaunt-looking, version of the man she used to know. “Come here,” she says, and she gives him a big hug. “I don’t know how this is possible, and I don’t want to know. I’m just glad that you are back. The both of you.”
“How does it feel to be back?” Sirius asks, once they have entered Remus’ office.
“Odd.”
“Good odd?”
“Just odd,” Remus says, as he looks around him. The office had looked very different the last time he had been here, but it hadn’t gotten damaged too badly during the battle. It makes him feel uncomfortable, like it should have been damaged. Like he should have gotten damaged. Like he should have died.
“Remus…,” Sirius begins, because he can see the pain in his eyes. It makes him feel physical pain to see it, and for just a second, the image of the teenage boy he used to know, flashes through his mind, happy, laughing until the tears were rolling down his face. All he wants, is for Remus to be that happy again. He doesn’t know what to say though, so he simply goes up to him, and pulls him into a tight hug. Because what can he say? How can he make things better, when he himself feels changed, damaged, by all the things that have happened. By all the things that he has seen. How can they ever go back to how they used to be, when they are not the same anymore?

“Are you sure it is safe?” Remus asks, his face an odd, grey-ish pale colour. Tonight it’s a full moon, only days before the start of a new year at Hogwarts. Remus had known that the timings would be like this, and that he would most likely still be weak during the first few days of the year. But he wasn’t going to miss the beginning of the year, Sirius wouldn’t let him. But the thought of transforming into the wolf again, now that he isn’t in control of it anymore, back here at Hogwarts, when there are students around, it makes him feel sick. Because what if he gets out? What if he hurts someone, or worse, kills someone? What if he kills them all?
“It is,” Minerva confirms. “The students are aware of your…”
“Condition,” Remus interrupts, and she gives a little nod.
“They will stay away from your office.”
“What if they don’t?”
“They will,” Minerva confirms, and by the look on her face, Remus can tell that she has put something in place, perhaps some kind of protection spell, to keep both students, and Remus safe.
“But…”
“Remus, I do not have time for this. I would not have let you come back if I thought you were a danger to the students. Now please,” Minerva says, and Remus gives a small nod, before leaving her office. He still feels sick to his stomach, because what if he is more dangerous than Minerva knows? Will they be able to stop him before he hurts someone? Will they be able to kill him before it’s too late?
When he enters the hallway, leading to his classroom, he finds a group of students, all huddled around the dog, who is enjoying all of the attention, and who has, over the last two days, been a replacement for all the pets the students have had to leave at home.
“He is the best, Professor Lupin,” a girl says, a big smile on her face. Remus gets the biggest smile on his face, and nods.
“He is.” He smiles, as the large dog looks up at him.
“Ehm, professor?” an older students asks, looking nervous. “I don’t mean to offend, but… It’s a full moon tonight, is it not?”
“It is,” Remus answers, his heart beating fast. The last time he had worked here, Severus Snape had told everyone about his condition, and he had had to leave because of it. Because no one wanted someone like him to teach their children. This time people know, and although Minerva had explained to him that people don’t care much about that kind of thing anymore, not after everything that has happened, not after a war, it still makes him feel anxious. What if people still look at him like he is a monster? What if they are scared of him?
“Is there anything we can do to help, sir?” a girl asks. “To make it easier for you.”
“We can look after Snuffles for you,” the older student says, and Remus can’t help but smile.
“Oh, wow,” he says, a weight having been lifted off his shoulders. They don’t look at him like he is a monster, not at all. “I really appreciate the offer. Thank you. But I can… I can manage. Thank you.”
“And Snuffles?” the girl asks.
“He is being looked after. But thank you,” Remus says again, and he flashes a grateful smile. “I should ehm…,” he says, and he looks over to his classroom.
“Yes, of course. Good luck tonight, Professor,” the older student says, and he steps to the side to let Remus through. Remus gives a small nod, before getting into his classroom, with Sirius following him. Sirius doesn’t change back though, not until they have entered the office, and have locked the door behind them.
“Where are you staying tonight?” Remus asks, as soon as Sirius has changed back, a nervous look on his face. He hadn’t thought about it before, because he had been too nervous about the students. But now he realises that Sirius has nowhere to go, and he can’t stay here, because it isn’t safe.
“With you,” Sirius answers, as they walk through the office, and enter the bedroom.
“What do you mean?”
“I’m not going anywhere.”
“I will kill you,” Remus says, as he goes over to the corner of the room, to check the place where he is planning to be shackled to the wall tonight.
“You have no idea, do you?”
“What do you mean?”
“How pathetic you are,” Sirius says, and Remus looks at him, an offended and hurt look on his face. “When you’re the wolf, you’re not a… you’re not even really a wolf, wolves are beautiful creatures, are they not? You are this skinny, sickly-looking, pathetic version of a wolf.”
“I am?” Remus asks, not sure how to feel about this. He had never actually seen himself when he had transformed, so he had formed a picture of himself in his head, but he hadn’t imagined himself to look the way Sirius has just described him. He isn’t sure why, but it makes him feel embarrassed.
“You are not dangerous, Remus,” Sirius explains. “I keep telling you. You have this idea in your head that you will kill people, but you won’t.”
“Look at what happened when I forgot my potion, on the night you came back to Hogwarts. I could have killed Harry and his friends, I hurt you…”
“So you hurt someone, once. In how many full moons?” Sirius asks. “And you were upset that night, your mind was all over the place. Other than that one time, you have never, not once in your life, hurt a single person, when you were a wolf.”
“Because I make sure I can’t get out,” Remus says, getting annoyed, but when a mischievous smile appears on Sirius’ face, he just gets confused. “What?”
“I made sure you were safe at the Shack,” Sirius explains. “But once you changed, I came back in. At first you would growl and try to scratch me and all that, but… After a few months, when we were friends for longer, you didn’t even look up. You let me come close, you let me sit with you.”
“You did what?” Remus asks, his heart racing. Because all this time, he had thought that he had been at the Shack on his own, with Sirius staying outside, to make sure he wouldn’t get out, and to make sure he would be safe. But to know he had come inside, that he had risked his life? That changes things.
“That’s how I know that somehow, somewhere, you are still in control, even if you don’t know it. It is still you in there, because the longer we knew each other, the closer you let me get.”
“When I changed back that one time, and you were already there, sleeping next to me…”
“I lied,” Sirius admits, flashing a shy smile. “I told you you hadn’t just changed back, that you had actually been asleep, but… I messed up, I fell asleep, and didn’t go back out in time before you changed back and realised I was there.”
“I could have killed you.”
“But you didn’t. You are not dangerous, Remus. I have been trying to understand this, ever since you told us. That’s why I stayed with you every full moon, I studied you, and I talked to you, hoping that it could make you come back, control it, you know? But I never managed to do it. Then once we all managed to be Animagi, and we first took you outside, you still weren’t with us, not really,” Sirius explains. “You were there, but you,” he says, bringing his fingers up to his head, “You still weren’t there. But the next time, in the morning, you remembered us being there. You remembered what you had done that night.”
“I did,” Remus says, trying to process what Sirius is telling him.
“You can control this thing, we have seen that it can be done, somehow,” Sirius says, “And I’m not going anywhere. Because you are not a danger.”
“Why haven’t you told me any of this before?”
“Because I never did figure out how to help you. But this time, I’m not… We are going to fix this,” Sirius says, a determined look on his face, and Remus can’t help but smile. “So no, I am not going anywhere, I am staying with you tonight. And even if you were to make me leave, I would simply come back in, once you have changed.”
“I don’t think you’d be able to, I am fairly certain that Minerva has put up a protection spell around the office.”
“Well, I would be able to get in.”
“Your magic is stronger than Minerva McGonagall’s magic?” Remus laughs.
“No, but I can be very persuasive when I want to be,” Sirius laughs, as he comes up to Remus, and puts his hands around his waist.
“Oh, really? Should I be worried?” Remus asks, as he wraps his arms around Sirius’ neck, pulling him closer.
“Maybe,” Sirius laughs, and he gives him a kiss. “Don’t worry, Moony. I am not going anywhere, with anyone. I love you. You do know that, right?”
“I love you too,” Remus answers, a shy smile on his face. Sirius gives him another kiss, before letting go of him. “You didn’t just say those things, about me not being dangerous, just to be nice, did you?”
“Fuck off, Remus.”

Chapter Text

What It Means To Me cover

When Remus feels himself changing back, his skin feels like it’s on fire, like nothing inside of his body sits right, and like someone has just banged his head against a wall over and over again. He realises he is still in his and Sirius’ Hogwarts bedroom, which is good, because then at least he hasn’t gotten out and hurt students. But as his vision comes back to him, he sees a ripped up pillow, and a faint memory flashes through his mind. But he can’t quite catch onto it, and figure out how it fits into the puzzle of what has happened. It takes a while before he is fully aware of his surroundings again, but when he is, he catches himself howling out in pain. There is a movement in the corner of the room, so he turns his head, and sees the large black dog turning back into Sirius.
“Remus, I…,” Sirius says, as he comes over to the bed, a worried look on his face. “I am so sorry, I must have fallen asleep.”
“I…,” Remus begins, and he realises he has stopped howling. His body still feels wrong, so he looks down, looking for wounds, for blood, trying to make sense of things. Trying to find the memory of what has happened with the pillow. Did he hurt someone? Has there been a fight?
“What is wrong?” Sirius asks, noticing the panic written all over Remus’ face. “Are you hurt?”
“Am I?” Remus asks, and Sirius kneels down before him and wraps his arms around him.
“I don’t think you are. You were… Don’t you remember?”
“I don’t,” Remus whispers, and he can feel the tears stinging in his eyes. “Did I hurt someone?”
“What? No,” Sirius says, and he lets go of him. “Remus, we… this is going to sound absurd, but we played…”
“Played…?”
“You, as the wolf, me as a dog, we… we played,” Sirius explains, and he laughs at the absurdity of it.
“We did?” Remus asks, a more than confused look on his face.
“We did,” Sirius laughs. “You seemed to be enjoying yourself, actually, so… I was hoping you would remember.”
“I don’t,” Remus admits, but then an image of Sirius as a dog, tearing apart the pillow, flashes through his mind. “So I haven’t hurt anyone?”
“You haven’t hurt anyone, Remus. I promise,” Sirius says, as he takes Remus’ hands in his. “You didn’t get out, and you haven’t hurt anyone. You haven’t hurt me. We had fun, that’s all.”
“Truly?”
“Truly,” Sirius confirms, and he brings up his hand, to brush the hair out of Remus’ face.
“I mean, you did sniff my arse,” he says, a serious look on his face. “But that’s nothing new, is it?”
“Fuck off,” Remus laughs, and Sirius can’t help but smile, because it’s good to see him laugh again. “Thank you.”
“What for?”
“For staying with me.”

It’s been a day, and Remus is still recovering from the full moon. He is in bed, reading a book, with a cup of tea, while Sirius is in their small bathroom, getting ready.
“What do you think she wants to discuss?” he asks, and Remus sighs, as he puts his book down on the side table.
“I don’t know,” he answers, unable to raise his voice, so Sirius comes out of the bathroom, into the bedroom, not wearing anything. Remus can feel himself blushing, and when he sees the smile on Sirius’ face, he knows that Sirius has noticed it.
“Do you think she’ll send me away?”
“Of course, Sirius. That must be it.”
“There is no need for sarcasm.” Sirius rolls his eyes, as he comes over to the bed, and sits down next to Remus. “I just thought that perhaps you had heard something.”
“While I’m stuck in bed?” Remus asks, but Sirius just shrugs. “I don’t know. Maybe she doesn’t like dogs, and she doesn’t want you walking around the castle anymore.”
“Do you think so?”
“What is wrong with you?” Remus laughs. “You haven’t been this nervous since… She is not your Professor, Sirius.”
“I know…”
“You’re ridiculous,” Remus laughs, and Sirius gives him a kiss, before taking the tea from his hands, and putting it down on the side table, next to the book. One kiss leads to another, and within seconds, Remus is on his back, Sirius leaning over him, caressing his side, while their kisses are getting more passionate. But then Remus reaches out, and touches Sirius’s naked hip, but it makes him flinch, and move away.
“I should get ready,” he quickly says, and he gets up from off the bed.
“Sirius, I…”
“Don’t,” Sirius says, and without saying another word, he gets into the bathroom, leaving Remus feeling guilty and confused. Because what had just happened? What had he just done that had upset Sirius? And why?
After getting ready, Sirius had left without saying a word. Remus has been thinking about this morning all day, and he is about to get out of bed to go and look for Sirius, when Sirius finally come back into the bedroom.
“I am so sorry,” Remus says, but Sirius shakes his head, as he sits down on the side of the bed.
“No, I am. I have to explain, but… not now.”
“Right,” Remus says, but he isn’t sure how to feel, because what if Sirius is angry or upset with him?
“Minerva offered me a job.”
“She did?”
“To protect Hogwarts, as… Snuffles,” Sirius explains, and Remus can’t help but smile. “The castle needs protection, but students will get upset at guards being around, or… I’m not sure, but…,” he continues, trying to find the right words.
“But they trust you, feel safe around you.”
“Exactly.”
“I think it’s a great idea.”
“You do?” Sirius asks, and Remus nods, flashing a smile. But Sirius looks down, a nervous look on his face. “It’s a great responsibility.”
“It is,” Remus says, and he takes Sirius’ hand in his. Sirius looks up, and Remus flashes another smile. “But I think you would be perfect for the job.”

It’s been a few weeks since the beginning of the new year, and at first it was difficult to get into the rhythm of everything again. But now both men are getting used to their daily routine, and they are actually getting to enjoy being back here. And although it is difficult, because they are spending most of their time off in the bedroom, because no one can know that Sirius is still alive, they know that it is only temporary.
They are now in the bedroom, after a long day’s work, and they are getting ready for bed. Remus is getting changed, when Sirius comes up to him and has him sit down on the side of the bed. Sirius sits down next to him, a serious look on his face.
“What’s wrong?”
“I need to explain why I don’t, why I can’t…”
“Why we’re not having sex?” Remus asks, and Sirius nods, looking down at his hands. “I don’t mind, honestly.”
“But I do.”
“Right,” Remus says, and Sirius looks up at him, a troubled look on his face.
“I haven’t… not since before Azkaban.”
“Really?”
“Really,” Sirius admits. “I haven’t even, you know… given myself a hand,” he explains, and Remus can’t help but smile, because he still calls it what he had called it all those years ago.
“Why not?”
“I wanted to, but the idea of Dementors watching…”
“Right,” Remus says, trying not to laugh.
“And then when I escaped, and I moved into Grimmauld Place, there were always people around. And there was too much going on, I didn’t… It just didn’t feel right. And then they took me, so…”
“Not even once?” Remus asks, struggling to believe it. Because the Sirius he had known, before Azkaban, back when they had first gotten together, before then even, had slept around, had always wanted to get off. He didn’t even care who with. To think of him not having sex, not even ‘giving himself a hand’, for nearly twenty years, it doesn’t make sense to him, even now Sirius has explained it to him.
“No, not even once,” Sirius admits. “I did sleep with other people after we split up, but… nothing since I got locked up.”
“Wow…”
“That’s why I’m nervous. I’m scared I will fuck it up, that I…”
“Have lost the ability to fuck?” Remus asks, and Sirius lets out a small chuckle.
“Yes. That sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?”
“It does, but I do understand. And like I said before, I don’t mind. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, that is fine too,” Remus says, and he flashes a reassuring smile. “Honestly, it doesn’t matter to me.”
“But don’t you want to…”
“I do,” Remus laughs. “But not if it makes you feel uncomfortable. That was the deal we made, wasn’t it? We were only going to do it if it was fun.”
“That is true,” Sirius says, and a silence follows, which he eventually breaks. “May I ask…”
“What?”
“How many others have there been?”
“Wow,” Remus laughs, and now he is the one to look down at his hands.
“That many, huh?” Sirius laughs, and Remus looks up at him.
“None,” he admits, and Sirius stops laughing. “I was still in love with you, so… I didn’t want to sleep with anyone else. And then I lost all my friends, which… It leaves quite a mark. Makes you unable to trust anyone.”
“I am so sorry.”
“So there haven’t been any others,” Remus admits, and Sirius gives a little nod, before a mischievous look appears on his face.
“What about…?” he asks, and he makes a movement with his hand that makes Remus blush.
“Well, yes… I have done that.”
“I figured,” Sirius laughs, and Remus shakes his head, smiling to himself. For just a second, he feels like they are the younger versions of themselves again, and things are exciting, new, they are discovering things about each other, about themselves. For just a second, he feels happy, excited, alive.

“What’s wrong?” Remus asks, when he notices the miserable look on Sirius’ face, as he is staring out of the window.
“I was just thinking… the last time I was here, and I was able to walk around, as myself, without people looking for me, or people…,” he sighs, and looks over at Remus. “I miss my freedom.”
“I know,” Remus says, and he goes over to him, and wraps his arms around his waist. “But it’s only for now.”
“It’s been months, Remus.”
“I know…”
“Remus, open the door!” they hear someone shout, as the person knocks on the bedroom door, and it takes them a few seconds, but then they realise it’s Harry.
“Hide,” Remus whispers, and Sirius quickly gets into the bathroom, while Remus tidies up, hiding any evidence of Sirius living there.
“Remus!”
“Just a minute!” Remus answers, as he tries to compose himself, before opening the door. “What are you doing here? What is…”
“I know he’s here,” Harry says, and Remus can feel his heart nearly beating out of his chest. But he tries to remain calm.
“Who is here?”
“Sirius,” Harry answers, and he looks over to the bathroom. “Is he in there?”
“Harry, I…,” Remus tries, but Harry walks past him, and opens the bathroom door.
“I am so sorry, I wanted to tell you, but…,” Sirius tries, but before he can finish his sentence, Harry has slammed into him, giving him the biggest hug.
“I thought you had died…”
“I know,” Sirius sighs, Harry clinging onto him as though he can slip away any second. The teenage boy starts sobbing, and Remus can see the pain in Sirius’ eyes. He can see that this is killing him. They had known that this moment would come, but they hadn’t been prepared for it. Not yet.
After a few minutes, Remus had left, to give Sirius and Harry time to talk. But he has just watched Harry leave, still looking upset, so he quickly makes his way over to his bedroom, only to find Sirius sitting on the bed, the tears still in his eyes.
“What happened?” Remus asks, as he sits down next to him, and cuddles up to him.
“I am so sorry,” Sirius whispers.
“What for?”
“Harry told me everything,” Sirius explains, as he puts his hand on the side of Remus’ face. “Everything you’ve been through. All of you. I…,” he continues, but then he struggles to find the right words. “I am so sorry.”
“Don’t,” Remus says, and he looks down. He had told Sirius about the things he had seen, about the things he is still struggling with. But to know that Harry has told Sirius everything, that he has somehow filled in the gaps, completed the image for Sirius, it makes him feel exposed.
There is a knock on the door, and they both jump up. Normally they would lock the office door, but not on weekend days, because then, normally, no one comes into Remus’ classroom anyway. So to have someone coming into the office and knocking on their bedroom door twice now, it is highly unusual.
“Who is there?” Remus asks, expecting it to be a student. But Minerva answers, and he quickly gets up to open the door. She enters the bedroom, and Sirius quickly gets up, brushing down his clothes, making sure he is looking decent.
“I have just been contacted by the Ministry,” Minerva says, and a small smile appears on her face.
“What did they say?” Remus asks, hoping that they have given her news about Sirius’ situation.
“Well, it looks like we’ll be seeing a whole lot more of you from now on,” she says, and Remus can’t help but smile, as he looks over to Sirius, who just has a shocked look on his face.
“Are you saying…”
“Yes.”
“But… what about my job?” Sirius asks, and the smile on Minerva’s face actually grows bigger.
“It is still yours if you still want it. As… Snuffles,” she says, and Remus tries hard not to laugh when he sees the blush on Sirius’ face.
“But how will… I don’t want to stay in this room, I want…”
“You will be introduced to the students as my assistant,” Minerva explains, clearly having thought this through already. “It will explain your presence at Hogwarts. And you will still be able to do your job.”
“Won’t people recognise him?” Remus asks. “People have seen him as… Snuffles. People who know him.”
“They have already recognised me. That is how Harry found out I was here,” Sirius explains.
“I did ask them to keep quiet,” Minerva says, but then she gives a little shrug. “I suppose it does not matter now. I will, again, ask them to keep quiet, so other students will not know.”
“Thank you,” Sirius says, a grateful smile on his face. Minerva gives a little nod, before leaving the bedroom. Remus goes up to Sirius, and gives him a big hug.
“You are free, Sirius,” he whispers.
“I know…”

Chapter Text

What It Means To Me cover

The next morning, a parcel had appeared in Remus’ office. When he had opened it, he had been a little offended, but mostly grateful, to find two new suits for himself, two suits for Sirius, and a few every-day outfits for Sirius. There hadn’t been a note, but he had known that it had been Minerva who had arranged this for them. Up until now, Sirius had still been wearing Remus’ clothes, which aren’t his size to begin with, but which are also old, and have been worn far too many times to still look decent. Sirius hadn’t minded, not at all, but Remus had felt bad for him. Because here he was, after everything he had been through, finally starting to look healthy and strong again, but because of his clothes, still looking shabby and miserable.
“What do you think?” Sirius asks, when he comes out of the bathroom, and for just a second, Remus sees the man he had seen years ago, after he himself had left Hogwarts, and he had come to stay at Grimmauld Place. Sirius had looked so handsome, it had made him feel butterflies in his stomach. For just a second, he gets the same feeling in his stomach, and he can feel himself blushing. “I look old.”
“You don’t,” Remus laughs, as Sirius goes back into the bathroom. Remus follows him, and finds him staring into the mirror.
“My hair really is going grey, isn’t it?”
“It is,” Remus laughs. “But you’re still just as handsome,” he adds, as Sirius turns to face him.
“You’re not so bad yourself.” Sirius flashes a smile, before kissing him. “Remember when we went to the dance, on our final night here?”
“Of course.”
“You probably don’t remember, but I gave you a ring that night,” Sirius says, and Remus playfully pushes him away.
“Fuck off,” he laughs, and he turns to leave the bathroom. Sirius follows him, not sure if he is angry with him, so he quietly watches him getting a box out of the drawer of the side table, and opening it. “Did you honestly think I could forget about that?”
“I don’t know…”
“This,” Remus says, getting the ring out of the box, and holding it up, “Was a promise.”
“And then I fucked it up.”
“We fucked it up. But we’re getting a second chance, and this time we are not fucking it up.”
“No?”
“We better not,” Remus laughs. “And if we do, we’ll just try again.”
“Until we stop being idiots?” Sirius asks, as he takes the ring from Remus, and looks down at it.
“Exactly.”
“I lost mine,” Sirius says, as he gives the ring back to Remus. “I was still wearing it, when… they didn’t let me keep it, in Azkaban, so…”
“And you didn’t even try to get it back when you escaped?” Remus asks, teasing him. “It’s just a ring, Sirius.”
“I’m hoping we’ll have new ones one day.”
“Oh, really?” Remus asks, and when he sees the blush on Sirius’ face, he can’t help but smile. “So do I.”
As students start arriving in the Great Hall, they notice Sirius sitting next to Remus, and most of them start whispering to each other, recognising him from the posters they had seen years before. But they do know that he was innocent, and that he is Harry’s godfather, who had in fact died. So to have him sitting here, it doesn’t make sense.
“At least they know who you are,” Remus whispers, trying to calm Sirius’ nerves. But it doesn’t seem to work. And when people they know, Harry’s friends, start arriving, and start recognising him, Remus himself starts getting nervous. Most of them sit down at their tables, but Neville comes over to them.
“Sirius, I…,” he says, a big smile on his face, “I saw you before, but I was told to pretend I didn’t recognise you, so… But I did, I recognised you, and I wanted to tell everyone. I was so relieved to see that you were still alive, I…,” he rambles on, and Sirius can’t help but smile. “I am so glad you are okay.”
“Thank you, Neville.”
“I should…,” Neville says, when he notices Minerva looking at him, a stern look on her face. Without saying another word, he goes over to the table, and sits down, excitedly telling his friends about Sirius. Remus can see the relieved look on Sirius’ face, and without thinking about it, he grabs his hand, and gives it a squeeze.
“You know that people can see us, right?” Sirius whispers into Remus’ ear, and Remus can feel himself blushing.
“Do you mind?” he asks, his heart beating fast.
“Me? Remember what I used to do, where anyone could see? I do not care if people see you hold my hand, trust me,” Sirius whispers, and Remus can’t help but laugh. Because yes, he can still remember walking in on Sirius and whoever the people were, many times.
“Fair enough.”
“So, how does it feel?” Remus asks, when he and Sirius are out for a walk that night. Sirius’ job is to guard Hogwarts, and to look after the students, but apparently there are others who guard Hogwarts as well, meaning that Sirius doesn’t have to do his job 24/7. Minerva hadn’t told him too much about the others, but he trusts that they are good at their job, or she wouldn’t trust them with it.
“How does what feel?”
“Freedom.”
“I’m not sure yet,” Sirius admits. “Overwhelming.”
“Are you glad to be here, as yourself, though?” Remus asks, and when he sees the tears in Sirius’ eyes, he can tell how much this means to him. After Minerva had told the students that Sirius was her new assistant and that he would be staying at Hogwarts, he had been applauded for minutes on end. It had brought tears to his eyes, and Remus could tell that he had been thinking of James and Lily. “I miss them too.”
“It feels odd to be here, without them.”
“I know,” Remus says, thinking back to when he came back to teach here, years ago. He had been on his own then, without any of his friends, and it hadn’t felt right. He had felt lonely, and it had taken a long time for him to feel at home at Hogwarts again.
“I feel guilty, for getting another chance, when they didn’t… they didn’t get to raise Harry, they… It isn’t right,” Sirius says, and Remus nods, but he doesn’t know what to say. “I’m glad we’re here together though. I don’t think I would have coped, if you weren’t here. If you hadn’t been there, after they found me.”
“Sirius…”
“You saved my life. You do know that, right?”
“I didn’t, I…”
“You did,” Sirius interrupts him, and he stops walking. He looks around him, a shy smile on his face. They have ended up by the lake, Remus realises, and he can’t help but think of the night he and Sirius had made love here, in the rain, with the lightning lighting up the sky. “It probably wouldn’t be appropriate if we…”
“No,” Remus laughs. “If a student catches us, we…”
“A kiss then?” Sirius asks, and Remus gives a little nod. Sirius brushes the hair out of his face, and looks straight into his eyes, before kissing him, for just a moment forgetting everything that has happened in the last twenty years. For just a moment, they are students again, about to go for a swim, James and Lily are still alive. For just a moment, everything in the world is right.

It’s been a few months since the beginning of the new year, and it’s only a few weeks until Christmas. Another full moon is coming up, and Remus is nervous. Because last full moon, he had remembered everything that had happened during the night. He hadn’t been able to control his actions yet, but he had felt more like himself during the night, and when he had transformed back, he hadn’t been in so much pain. It still terrifies him, but he is finally starting to believe that maybe, somehow, he can gain control. So tonight, they are going to test it. They won’t be staying in the bedroom, they will actually be going outside. It had worked before, all those years ago, so technically, it should be okay. Because after all, he is, as Sirius had described him, just some pathetic wolf-like creature. Not a violent wolf like some. But still he can’t help but worry for the safety of the students, for the safety of Sirius. Sirius has promised to stop him, with whatever is necessary, to protect the students though. But it still scares him.
“It’s too soon,” he says, and Sirius rolls his eyes. “What if I…”
“You won’t.”
“But what if…”
“You won’t,” Sirius repeats. “I promise that you’ll be okay.”

“Did you see it?” Remus hears a girl ask her friend, as she comes into his classroom the morning after the full moon. Normally he wouldn’t be able to be here right now. He would be too fragile, too tired. But after he had transformed back, he had felt like himself within minutes. And although he still feels tired, he doesn’t feel like the transformations are controlling his life anymore.
“The wolf, you mean?” the friend of the girl asks.
“Yeah, and Snuffles.”
“It was beautiful! Do you think it was…,” the friend asks, nudging her face in Remus’ direction. He notices, but pretends to be looking at something on his desk.
“It was a full moon, wasn’t it?” the girl whispers.
Remus remembers running around, playing and rolling around in the snow with Sirius last night. He had felt happier and lighter than he had felt for years, and he knows how much the freedom had meant to Sirius. But he hadn’t realised that students had been watching them from their bedroom windows.
“Is it me, or is everyone looking at us?” Sirius asks, during dinner that night. They are in the Great Hall, and after a long day, where Remus had to listen to everyone whisper about him and Snuffles playing in the snow, he knows he will now have to explain it to him.
“They are looking at me. Apparently people were watching me and… Snuffles last night,” he whispers, and Sirius can’t help but laugh. “It’s not funny.”
“It kind of is. Think about it. This was your biggest secret, and now…”
“It’s not funny,” Remus repeats, but Sirius can see the smallest smile on his face, and underneath the table, he gives him a small nudge in the ribs. The smile on Remus’ face grows, and Sirius knows that right now he is a little embarrassed at having been seen, but he is also relieved. Because yes, everyone is talking about it, but they are only saying good things. No one is scared of him. No is calling him a monster. Not anymore.

“Remus, what is taking you so long?” Sirius asks, after knocking on the bathroom door again.
“Nothing, I’m just…”
“Open the door,” Sirius laughs, when he hears the embarrassment in his voice. “What are you doing in there?” he asks, and it takes a moment, but then Remus opens the door, his face flushed. “Were you…”
“Giving myself a hand?” Remus asks, and Sirius puts a hand on the side of his neck. “I’m sorry.”
“Don’t you dare,” Sirius whispers, a guilty look on his face. “Come here,” he whispers, before pulling him into a tight hug. “Let’s go to bed.”
“But I was…”
“Let’s go to bed,” Sirius repeats, and Remus gives a nod, before following him to the bed. He turns the lights off, and gets into bed, still not sure what to do, what to say. Is Sirius angry with him for getting himself off? But then Sirius gets into bed with him, and he kisses him with such a passion, that Remus can feel something in the pit of his stomach, which he hasn’t felt since he was a teenager.
When he feels Sirius’ hand wrap around his dick, he gasps for breath. It’s been twenty years, and this takes him back to all those years ago. Back when they were young men. Back to when they had first fallen in love. And for just a moment, he feels like they are back in their old bedroom again, like the last twenty years have not happened.
But when he looks up at Sirius, and he looks into his eyes, he sees that they are not the same young men anymore. Things have changed. The world has changed. But he knows that he still loves this man just as much as he always had done.
“Are you sure this is okay for you?” he whispers, still fully aware of what Sirius had told him. How he hadn’t had sex with anyone since before Azkaban. How he hadn’t even given himself a hand. Remus wants them to take the next step, but not if it’s too soon. Not of it will end up upsetting Sirius.
But Sirius doesn’t say a word, he just takes Remus’ hand in his, and puts it on his own dick. Remus is a bit taken aback, because he hadn’t seen this coming. But at the same time, it feels so familiar, like there has been no time since they have last done this. And as Sirius closes his eyes, he can’t help but smile. He still remembers what Sirius had liked, how to tease him, and he can feel that Sirius remembers everything as well. Because he has to gasp for breath, his heart nearly beating out of his chest.
“Fuck,” he whispers, leaning his forehead against Sirius’. But then Sirius puts a hand on the back of his neck, and he kisses him. Remus knows that he is close, and he senses a change in his breathing. But not only that, he also notices a change in his face. There are tears in his eyes, and his lip is quivering. And when he comes, the tears start falling from his eyes. He kisses Remus again, but there is such a pain in the kiss, that Remus gets chills all over his body. He wipes his hand clean on the sheet, before wrapping his arms around Sirius, holding him so tight, that he must be hurting him. But it doesn’t matter. He needs to hold him. He needs to let him know that he is here for him. And Sirius clings onto him, his nails buried deep into his back.
“Marry me,” Sirius sobs, but Remus knows how upset he is, so he ignores it. But Sirius pulls free from his grip, sits up, and looks straight at him. “Marry me.”
“You’re upset right now, Sirius, you…”
“I’m not upset,” Sirius says, more tears falling from his eyes, and Remus can’t help but smile, as he sits up, to wipe the tears from his face for him. “I’m happy.”
“You are?”
“I am,” Sirius confirms. “We got a second chance, Remus. We can’t…”
“Let’s do it,” Remus says, before Sirius gets a chance to finish his sentence. “Let’s get married.”
“Really?”
“Yes,” Remus laughs, and Sirius kisses him, before wrapping his arms around him. Sirius starts kissing him, and Remus wants to lie back down, but Sirius stops him. “What are you…”
Sirius glances down, and Remus quickly covers himself up with his hands, feeling very exposed now. But Sirius just laughs, as he pushes his hands away.
“I haven’t done this for a good few years, so…”
“You don’t have to…,” Remus says, but before he can finish saying the words, Sirius has already wrapped his mouth around his dick. Remus actually has to hold onto the bed in order not to fall over, and he closes his eyes for a moment, but then he opens them, a longing to see Sirius. A longing to feel him, to hold him, to touch him.
“Fucking…,” he blurts out, but he stops himself from saying the rest, as he covers up his mouth with his hand. He is actually seeing stars now, and just watching Sirius doing this to him, after all those years, it’s enough to make him come.

“Ah… that’s a nice piece of jewelry you’ve got there, mister Lupin,” Minerva says, the smallest of smiles on her face. They are in the Great Hall, watching the Christmas dance. Remus and Sirius had gone out to buy themselves engagement rings only a few days ago, and while they are excited about their engagement, they haven’t actually told anyone.
“Thank you,” Remus says, his face getting flushed.
“Does this mean…?”
“Yes,” Sirius says, the biggest, proudest smile on his face. “We are getting married.”
“Congratulations,” Minerva says, and the smile on her face grows bigger. She gives a little nod, before walking off, and both men look at each other, before bursting into laughter.
“This is ridiculous,” Remus laughs. “We used to be them,” he says, looking out at the students dancing. “Now we’re…”
“Old men?”
“Exactly,” Remus laughs. “Look at what we’ve been through… How did we end up here?”
“We were given a second chance,” Sirius says, and he grabs Remus’ hand, looking down at the two rings on his finger. The ring he had given to him all those years ago, and the new ring. “I don’t know why. Why us, and why not others. But… we owe it to them to take this chance, and to make the most of it,” he says, and he looks up at his partner. He can see the tears in his eyes, and knows that he is thinking about James and Lily. “We owe it to them.”
“I wish they were here. When I see those kids, I feel…”
“I know,” Sirius says, giving his hand a squeeze. “I feel it too.”
“Do you remember the night after the dance, when we came here?” Remus asks, later that night. They have come to the lake, and they are both looking out at the water. “That was our last night here before…”
“It all went to shit?” Sirius suggests, and Remus can’t help but smile. But it’s the saddest smile, and Sirius puts an arm around his waist, pulling him closer. “I have dreamt about that night so many times…”
“Me too,” Remus admits. “I wish…”
“What?”
“It doesn’t matter.”
“Tell me.”
“I wish I had known it then, what would happen,” Remus says. “I would have appreciated it more. Spent more time with them. With you.”
“We wouldn’t have been friends with Peter. We would have found a way to kill Voldemort. We would have changed the world,” Sirius says, and he sighs. “You can’t think like that, Remus. If we had known everything, then… who knows what we would have done, who we would have been.”
“They would still be alive.”
“You don’t know that,” Sirius says, and Remus looks at him. “You can’t know that. Of course I wish none of it would have happened, but we can’t change the past, Remus. We can only move forward and try to…”
“Forget?”
“No. Never forget. Because those things made us who we are now, Remus,” Sirius says. “And I love you. More than you will ever know.”

Chapter Text

What It Means To Me cover

“What is this?” Remus asks, when a student hands him an envelope.
“My father is a photographer, Professor. He gave me a camera, to practice, and I’ve been taking pictures of you and Professor… sorry, Mister Black… sorry, Snuffles,” the student stumbles, her face getting flushed, and Remus can’t help but smile. The students had figured out about Snuffles being Sirius quite some time ago, but they had mostly kept it to themselves, knowing that they weren’t meant to know.
“You have?” Remus asks.
“I know it sounds a little odd. But I first saw you in the snow, before Christmas, and…,” the student explains, and he opens the envelope, getting out a stack of photographs. The first is of him and Sirius, or Snuffles, out in the snow. Sirius, the beautiful black dog he had seen so many times. A little greyer now, but still large, impressive, strong. But he himself next to him, a pathetic, skinny thing. He hardly deserves to be called a wolf.
He can feel his face getting flushed, as he looks up at the student.
“I saw you again, the next full moon, and you looked different,” she says, and Remus looks at the next photograph. In it, he is looking much healthier. Still hardly a wolf at all. But he is looking stronger, there is more colour to him.
“I remember you,” Remus says, and he can’t help but smile. Last full moon, he and Sirius had been running around, and they had seen a student out, late at night. They had stayed away from her, but he had thought she was following them. He had told himself it was all in his head. But when he looks through the photographs, all the way to the last one, the smile on his face grows bigger.
He sees the large black dog. Impressive. Strong. Next to him a wolf. Not the pathetic looking creature he had seen in the first photograph. But a wolf. A beautiful, almost mythical-looking creature. The most intense colours, reflecting the moonlight. But even in their dog and wolf forms, Remus can see the bond, the love between them, and it brings tears to his eyes.
“May I keep this one?” he asks, and the students nods.
“You can keep them all, Professor.”
“Thank you,” he says, still fighting his tears. The student seems to notice, because she flashes a supportive smile, before leaving his classroom. Just as she does, Sirius walks in, and he is about to say something, but when he notices the tears in his partner’s eyes, he gives him a hug.
“Did something happen?”
“Why didn’t you tell me?” Remus asks, and Sirius lets go of him. He takes the photographs from Remus, expecting them to be something horrible, but when he sees the beautiful photograph of himself and Remus, taken only days ago, he can’t help but smile.
“Who took this?”
“A student. She gave it to me, but…,” Remus says, now showing Sirius the first of the photographs, from months ago. “Why didn’t you tell me that I’ve changed?”
“I thought you knew.”
“I didn’t.”
“You didn’t feel it?” Sirius asks, as he lays the photographs down on the desk. “Remus, you… You have become the most amazing…”
“What happened?” Remus asks, and Sirius can’t help but laugh.
“You stopped letting it control you, Remus,” he says, as he puts a hand on the side of his partner’s neck. “You grew stronger, and you became more confident. This…,” he says, pointing down at the beautiful wolf in the photograph. “is you. That, that wasn’t you. Not really. But this is who you are. You have finally taken control.”
“I feel more like this…,” Remus admits, looking down at the pathetic-looking creature in the first photograph.
“You have no idea how beautiful you truly are, Remus. How beautiful you always have been.”
“Don’t.”
“You are,” Sirius says, and Remus’ face turns a dark shade of red. Sirius kisses him, pressing his hips against Remus’, and within seconds, Remus is on his back on the desk, with Sirius on top of him, his hand in his pants, wrapped around his dick. But then they hear footsteps, and they both jump up, Remus nearly falling over. But Sirius catches him, before they turn around, and finding a very embarrassed Neville standing there.
“I just wanted… I should…”
“Spit it out, Neville,” Sirius laughs, the embarrassed teenager reminding him of a younger Remus. He had always been just as awkward and embarrassed. But to see what has become of him, how he has found a new strength, since coming back to Hogwarts, it makes his heart skip a beat.
“It doesn’t matter. I should go. You just…,” Neville says, before turning around and storming out of the classroom. The men look at each other, and start laughing.
“Do you think we’ve traumatised him?”
“Oh please. I’m sure he has seen worse. Remember the things we used to walk in on?” Sirius laughs.
“I do,” Remus laughs, still remembering the times where he had walked in on Sirius with other students, before they had gotten together. “I walked in on you in the toilets, the showers, the library, the…”
“Stop,” Sirius laughs. “Or you’ll be giving me ideas here.”
“Oh really?”

It’s the end of the school year, and it has flown by. Only a year ago, they were back at Remus’ cabin, Sirius trying to get his strength back, having just been rescued. A year ago both men had felt fragile, broken. Things hadn’t felt right.
But here they are, back at Hogwarts, and although they still have to live with what has happened, and their memories are with them every single day, they have found a way to live with them. They have found a way to move on. They have taken their second chance, and they are trying to make the most of it.
“I don’t want to go,” Remus says, as he looks down at the photograph in his hands. It was taken at the dance, on their final night at Hogwarts. It shows him, Sirius, James and Lily, laughing, looking so free. So young. So happy.
“We’ll be back in a matter of weeks,” Sirius says, as he wraps his arms around him from behind, resting his head on his shoulder. He looks down at the photograph, the laughing faces of James and Lily bringing tears to his eyes.
“Do you think they’re still out there somewhere? Watching Harry?”
“Watching us?” Sirius asks, and Remus nods, still looking down at his friends. “I don’t know.”
Remus lays down the photo, before turning around, facing his partner. He looks straight into his eyes, and for just a moment, he sees the young man he had fallen in love with all those years ago, and it brings a shy smile to his face.
“What?”
“I was just remembering something.”
“Something good?”
“Do you remember our first kiss?” Remus asks, and Sirius can’t help but smile.
“Before we had sex for the first time,” he says, and Remus nods. “Of course our official first kiss was later, but that was when I kissed you for the first time.”
“It was,” Remus says, his face beaming, and the smile on Sirius’ face grows. “You didn’t kiss people though, so…”
“I only ever wanted to kiss you, Moony,” Sirius says, a shy look on his face. “And when we first… it meant more to me than I let on. Fucking other people, it never meant a thing, but with you…”
“Thank you?”
“Fuck off,” Sirius laughs. “I mean it, Remus. You’re the only person I have ever loved. The only person I ever felt something for.”
“I know,” Remus says, before kissing him. It’s just the sweetest kiss, but a second kiss is more passionate, and before they know it, they are on the bed, making out.
“Fuck, we shouldn’t…,” Remus says, and he wants to push Sirius away.
“Why not?”
“Because we’re not…”
“We can try,” Sirius says, looking nervous. He sits up, and Remus sighs. “I don’t know if I can, but… we can try, right?”
“If you’re not ready, then it’s fine, Sirius. I’m fine with the occasional…”
“Giving a hand?”
“Yes,” Remus laughs. “I don’t need sex.”
“But I want to,” Sirius says. Remus pulls him into a kiss, before letting go of him again. He is starting to feel nervous, because he hasn’t had sex with anyone in more than twenty years, and this could possibly be a disaster. But he remembers all the times they had done it, and all the things they had done, and he can’t help but smile.
“You’ll let me know if you want to stop?” he asks, and Sirius nods, while already getting out of his clothes. Remus goes into the bathroom, quickly gets out of his clothes, and grabs the bottle of lubricant. But before leaving the bathroom, he takes a look at himself in the mirror. The aging man he sees staring back at him, he hardly even recognises him. But for just a moment, he sees that nervous teenage boy that he had been all those years ago, staring back at him, and he can’t help but smile.
“Let’s see if I still remember how this goes,” Sirius says, trying to lighten the mood, but Remus can tell how nervous he is. So he kisses him again, before lying down on the bed. He expects Sirius to take a moment, but within seconds, he feels Sirius’ fingers pushing into him.
“Fuck,” he blurts out, and he can’t help but laugh.
“I’m getting to it,” Sirius laughs. “Patience.”
“Fuck off,” Remus laughs, as he turns his face, to look at Sirius, who is looking nervous, his face a dark shade of red. But then he leans down, and he gives Remus a kiss. “I love you.”
“I love you too,” Sirius whispers, as he pulls his fingers out. Remus’ heart skips a beat, and he realises how nervous he actually is. But as he watches Sirius fumble with getting the lubricant open, even though he had managed just fine before, but he is now struggling because his hands are shaking, he starts to relax. He takes it from him, and opens it up. “I feel like I’m eighteen again,” Sirius admits, as he takes the bottle from Remus.
“Me too.” Remus smiles. “It feels like our first time.”
Sirius flashes a shy smile, before giving him a kiss, which is so full of passion, that Remus doesn’t want it to end. But then Sirius moves away, and he lies down behind him. Remus can feel his warm skin against his back, and it is giving him chills all over. But then he remembers the scars, which had never been there before, and the tattoos, and for just a moment, he is being reminded of everything that has happened since the last time they had had sex. But when he feels Sirius positioning himself to push into him, all bad thoughts leave his mind, and all he can think about is what is about to happen.
“Are you ready?” Sirius whispers, and Remus nods. Moments later, Sirius pushes into him, and he had expected the pain to be as bad as it had been the first time. But there is something so right about this feeling, so familiar. It feels like this is what is meant to be. And as Sirius slowly, gently, carefully, starts to push in and out of him, he fully realises how much he has missed this.
“Sirius?” he asks, his voice hardly audible. But Sirius hears it, and he is scared that something is wrong. That he has hurt him.
“Do you want me to stop?”
“I…”
“Yes?” Sirius asks, and he pulls out, and reaches over, to look into his face. “What’s wrong?”
“I can’t wait to marry you,” Remus says, and Sirius can’t help but laugh. He gives him a kiss, feeling relieved that he hasn’t hurt him.
“So can I…”
“Yes,” Remus laughs. Sirius pushes himself into Remus again, this time taking it less slowly. And within seconds, he grabs his dick, and Remus can feel that this isn’t going to last long. But it doesn’t even matter. Just being able to share this with Sirius again, this kind of intimacy, he didn’t think he’d ever be able to do that. And it only makes him realise that it really had all been a trick. The veil hadn’t been real. Sirius did not die. Sirius is still here with him.
“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” Remus says, when they are looking out of the window, laying in each other’s arms, later that night.
“What?”
“The moon.”
“It is,” Sirius says, looking at the content smile on his partner’s face. “I did not think I would ever hear you say those words. You have always been scared of it. But you seem so different now, so…”
“I know,” Remus admits. “I feel different.”
“You seem happy.”
“I am.”

It’s the night of the turn of the millennium. The two men are at the lake, the place where they had come to so many times. Where they had walked, talked. Where they had fucked. It still feels like their place, even after all these years, and they couldn’t think of a better place to get married.
They had only invited their closest friends, the people who have stood by them through it all. They hadn’t even told anyone else about the ceremony. So here they are, about to get married, in front of their closest friends, who have become their family over the years.
“And you have written your own vows, if I am not mistaken?” Minerva says. Remus nods, looking pale, and shaky. But this had been his idea. He had asked Minerva to be the one to marry them, and it had been his idea to write vows. To make a promise in front of his friends. To speak in front of them, with everyone watching them. Sirius had suggested they’d elope and get married in Vegas. To not have to deal with all of this, but after the deathly glare Remus had given him, he had changed his mind. Yet here Remus is, looking like he is about to be sick.
“Do you want me to go first?” he whispers, but Remus shakes his head. “Are you sure?”
“I can do this,” Remus says, before taking a deep breath, and flashing the smallest smile. “Sirius, I know I’m supposed to say how much I love you, and I am supposed to promise to give you all I have, that I will never stray,” Remus begins, and a few people start laughing. “But you and I, we are not like most other couples.”
“What ever do you mean?” Sirius laughs.
“I hated myself because of my condition, and I was scared to get close to anyone. I thought I was a monster. But you never gave up on me. You made me believe that I…,” Remus continues, but he has to stop because he is getting emotional. “You gave me hope. And I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you.”
“Remus…”
“When I thought I had lost you… I realised that I am nothing without you, Sirius,” Remus admits. “You are…,” he says, but then he stops himself. Sirius puts a hand on the side of his neck, flashing him the most loving smile. “I need you.”
“I need you too,” Sirius whispers, fighting against his tears, because he can see the emotion in his partner’s eyes. He can see the pain, and the fear. Memories from everything that has happened. But he can also see the most pure, and honest love. And it makes him feel such warmth going through his entire body, that he can’t fight the tears anymore.
“You are my best friend,” Remus says, as Sirius quickly wipes his tears away. “and I can’t wait for you to be my husband.”
“Fuck,” Sirius says, still fighting against more tears, now that it is his turn. “Remus, I… I probably shouldn’t tell everyone how we first got together,” he says, and Remus can’t help but laugh. “But when that happened, I had no idea that we would end up here. I had no idea, when I stepped into that shower…,” he says, and some people start laughing, “of the things that we would have to go through, before we would get here. I had no idea that the world… that we would lose our best friends, that we…,” he says, more tears rolling down his face. “That we would lose each other. And I know that we are not the same anymore, but my love for you has never changed, Remus, and it never will,” Sirius says. He opens his mouth to say more, but he can’t continue on. Because he is overcome by such emotion, that he simply can’t speak anymore.
“Shall I continue?” Minerva asks, and Sirius nods, as Remus puts an arm around his waist, pulling him closer, as their friends all huddle around them a little closer.
“Remus John Lupin, do you take Sirius Black as your wedded husband?” Minerva asks, and both men look at each other with the biggest smile on their face.
“I do.”
“Sirius Black, do you take Remus John Lupin as your wedded husband?”
“I do,” Sirius says, and he can feel Remus’ grip around his waist tightening. At this point they should be putting a wedding ring on each other’s finger, but they had decided against buying new rings again. They had decided to simply go on wearing their engagement rings, Remus also still wearing his promise ring from years ago.
“Then I am pleased to say, that I may now pronounce you husband and husband,” Minerva says, and they can all hear the emotion in her voice. The two men give each other a kiss, as their friends, their family, start applauding and cheering.
“I love you, mister Lupin,” Remus whispers.
“Mister Lupin?” Sirius laughs.
“What do you think?”
“I love it,” Sirius whispers. He had always hated his family name, so to be able to change his name to share it with the man he loves, his husband, it just feels right. “Sirius Lupin…”
“It will take a while to get used to…”
“Yes, it will,” Sirius laughs, before giving Remus another kiss.
“I have a little surprise for you,” Remus says, as he gets something out of his pocket. It’s almost midnight, and their friends are all celebrating. The two men have left them, to come out to the water, to almost the exact spot where they had been all those years ago, when they had had sex out here. With the lightning lighting up the sky.
“What?” Sirius laughs.
“It isn’t the original one, but I had this made for you,” Remus says, as he opens up his hand, showing off an exact copy of the promise ring Sirius had worn all those years ago. The one he had lost when he had gone to Azkaban.
“Oh, Remus…”
“Do you like it?”
“You don’t know how much this means to me,” Sirius says, as Remus slides the ring onto his finger. He wants to say something else, but they hear their friends starting to count down to midnight, and they look over to them.
“A new year, a new millennium.”
“A new world,” Sirius says, and Remus can tell that he is thinking of everything that they have gone through. But then his husband wraps his arms around him, and he gives him a kiss.
“I love you, Remus.”
“I love you too,” Remus whispers. Loud cheering can be heard, as the sky lights up in the brightest of lights. Once upon a time it had been lightning. Once upon a time there had been a war. People had lost friends. Family. People had lost their lives. But Remus and Sirius had been given a second chance. This time it’s fireworks. The beginning of a new year. A new millennium. A fresh start for this changed world.

 

Remus and Sirius had continued to work at Hogwarts until they had decided that it was time for them to move on. They had spent so many years at Hogwarts, and it had been their home for most of their lives. But as they had gotten older, they had decided that they wanted to see the world. So everyone’s favourite teacher, and the protector of Hogwarts had been given a Dance like never before, to say goodbye. To say thank you.
But every full moon, the large black dog, and the beautiful mythical-looking wolf were still seen at the Hogwarts grounds. They were still seen running, playing, howling. They were still seen protecting the grounds. The students.
But Remus and Sirius were not seen at Hogwarts anymore. Not until Minerva McGonagall retired, and someone needed to take over her work. There were plenty of people willing to step in, but there were only two people she trusted enough. So the two men came back, and they moved back into Hogwarts.
Nowadays everyone knows the story of the legendary two men who ran Hogwarts together. Who made it better than it had ever been. Students are being taught about them, about their lives. About how Sirius Black had stuck by his best friend. How he had supported him, the werewolf. How he had never judged him. About how Remus Lupin had been a fighter. How he had never given up. How these two men had lost everything. How they had survived and overcome, no matter what. How in the midst of it all, they had fallen in love, and their love had survived, until the day they died.
Everyone knows of Remus Lupin and Sirius Black, or Sirius Lupin. There is now a statue in the exact spot where the two men had gotten married, of a large dog and the most beautiful looking wolf, and people still honour them by laying flowers there every single birthday, Christmas, New Year. People come to sit with them when they feel lonely. When they need a friend. When they need to be reminded that no matter how bad things seem, things will be okay.
Yes, everyone knows the story of Remus Lupin and Sirius Black. And no matter how many years have gone by, their story will never die. Their love will never die.