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Time is a Fine Invention

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Six months later

"Smile for the camera! Remus... Remus... Re - "

"Go away."

"But everyone wants to see your pretty face! Alright, where's Samnfab - oh, you two are disgusting, this isn't that kind of film... where's James? James! Come and be in my film!"

"What's the film?"

"Whatever you want it to be, pal. I'm granting you complete artistic freedom."

"Alright, I need to make a cape."

James sets down his empty can of Carling and wanders off upstairs, and Sirius lowers his camera, caps the lens, and leans his head back into Remus' lap.

"Hello, gorgeous," he grins.

"Hello, darling," Remus' upside-down face murmurs back. He has his nose buried in Fabian's Victorian copy of the Odyssey which, since they - that's Sirius and Fabian and Peter and James - moved in a week ago, has had pride of place on the living room book shelf, alongside 1001 Movies to See Before You Die and James' battered copy of Cujo.

It is three o'clock in the morning. All their guests, bar Sam and Janis and Remus, have left. Peter has passed out in the bathtub.

"How's the directing project going?" Remus asks, eyes not moving from his current page.

"Gooood," Sirius drags out. He gives the camera in his lap a fond pat. "Got some great footage of James chucking up in the Rice Krispies box."

"Ah, so it's an art house film then?"

"Something like that," Sirius mumbles, turning his head and nestling it into the warmth of Remus' t-shirt. The Lumineers still buzz in the background on low, and he can hear his friends muttering dopily to each other, and the thud of James' drunken blundering in his room upstairs.

"I'm sure your new tutor will love it."

"I'm sure he will too. He'd be a fool not to. There's this fantastic part where James' cousin gets married. And lots of bits with you sleeping. 'Cos every film needs its pretty face."

"Well there's an unnerving revelation."

"M'drunk."

"You're drunk. I think we should get you to your bed."

"Our bed," Sirius corrects.

"Our bed, is it? You've kicked me out of it every time I've slept in it."

"Sorry. It's just so small."

Small like everything else in the house, as well as the house itself. It's an old place, a slightly damp cottage set halfway between Durham and Newcastle with a ten-minute bus journey either way, and the old walls shake, and they all hit their heads on the slanted ceilings, especially Fabian who is about nine feet tall, and the kitchen and bathroom tiles are freezing in the mornings, and it's theirs and it's perfect.

"I'll try not to kick you out tonight," Sirius tells him, "though I make no promises. No promises do I make."

"I appreciate the sentiment all the same." Remus sets his book aside and tries to move Sirius' head very gently. Then he stills, and pats Sirius' hair instead. "You're not going to fall asleep on me, are you?"

"Only for a bit," Sirius mumbles.

"You have a rather heavy head. Do you know that?"

"That's because it's full of so many wonderful things."

Remus laughs quietly, and somehow - Sirius himself isn't entirely sure how - manages to coax him into a sitting position. He runs a hand through Sirius' new-grown hair, kisses him on the neck and stands up, holding out a hand.

"Come on. I'll make sure you don't bang that wonderfully brimming head again."

Sirius wearily rubs the fading week-old bruise on his forehead and sets his camera on the side table, before taking Remus' hand and getting unsteadily to his feet.

"Goodnight, Samnfab," he drawls over his shoulder, but they've fallen asleep in the armchair and don't hear him.

Upstairs, settled beneath the covers of a tiny double bed, Sirius allows his heavy head to fall back on to the pillow. They used to have a sort of nanny at his old house in London, and when he was little and he'd been running around all day she'd tuck him into bed in the evening and say, as though he wasn't in the room, "Ooh, he'll sleep tonight!"

That's how it feels now, as though he's been on his feet all week and now he's ready for a whole night of warm, refreshing peace. Only the nanny's not here to say it, so he says it to himself, mumbled into his pillow, "He'll sleep tonight."

Remus, getting undressed at the foot of the bed, looks up. "What?"

"I said he'll sleep tonight."

"Who?"

"Me."

He can feel Remus peeling back the quilt. His mum made it for Sirius, and it's patchwork and very soft and warm, if a bit girly. But it's far too hot to use it in late August, and Remus folds it neatly at the end of the bed. The mattress depresses slightly as he slips beneath the covers, and Sirius automatically curls around him and rests his head on his chest, and Remus pretends to mind for a moment before winding an arm around him and rubbing his shoulder, turning out the lamp with his spare hand.

They lie together quietly in the warm darkness. After a while, Sirius murmurs, "Did you like the house-warming party?"

"I did."

"D'you like this house?"

"I do."

Sirius rubs his cheek against the soft cotton of Remus' t-shirt and sighs, content.

"Well. Goodnight, Moonshine," he says through a yawn, tacking sleepily on the end, "Love you."

Remus squeezes his shoulder and kisses his head and falls easily to sleep.

Despite his previous forecast regarding a lovely long night of deep dozing, Sirius stays awake a bit longer. Lying like this, he can hear Remus' steady heartbeat, his deep breathing, feel the rise and fall of his chest, and it sounds very romantic because it is, but Sirius knows he won't be able to fall asleep like this. It's too distracting, and his own pillow is a lot more comfortable and a lot less inclined to move and murmur. He'll shift his head back down soon and go properly to sleep, but it's not often Remus nods off first, so Sirius takes the opportunity to enjoy it. He thinks in the silence for a while.

He thinks about this new house and how wonderful it feels to be out of halls, to never have to drink soya milk again, and he thinks about his new course, Film Aesthetics, and how much he loves rolling it off his tongue. He thinks about his friends, new and old and irritating and brilliant, about living with James again, and being here with Remus and everything feeling like it's supposed to be here, that he's found his place (this damp little house, this city, this bed), that he's done it right. That he's done alright.

There's this film he used to watch as a kid. An old film, old enough to be in black and white, but not enough to bore his eight-year-old self as he lay beneath a duvet in the loft, transfixed by the dusty projector. He remembers Katharine Hepburn - or maybe it was Audrey - and he remembers Cary Grant, and he remembers this line, this one line, that he's always got repeating itself like a record on a loop in his head, that thick American accent, that soft, southern chirp: How does your garden grow, Case? Is it wonderful where you are?

And Sirius thinks, as he drifts off to sleep, it is. It's wonderful.

End