"They found Frank and Alice."
Sirius and James looked up at the words, shock evident on both their faces as they stared at Peter. In the other room, they could hear Lily playing with Harry, and the babyís laughter seemed grating, given the news they had just received.
"What happened?" James asked quietly, though his hand shook as he poured Peter a cup of tea.
The blond shook his head and drained the cup, heedless of the heat. "Dumbledoreís not sure; theyíre in St. Mungoís and theyíre alive, but they arenít there any more." He shuddered and looked down into the now empty cup.
"Fucking Death Eaters," Sirius snarled, getting up to pace around the small kitchen. "What about their son - whatshisname?"
"Neville," James murmured, glancing toward the living room.
"Heís alive; they arenít saying where he is."
"Prongs, you and Lily need to..."
"I know," James answered. "Iíll talk to Lily."
Sirius watched his friend stand, Jamesí every move slow and painful, as if he were an old man. He knew they all were showing the strain of this battle; he only had to look in the mirror to see the dark circles etched under his eyes or at Remusí visibly gray hair. Peter seemed to be faring the worst, however; always nervous, heíd lost weight and looked as if he hadnít slept in weeks.
"Theyíll make it through fine," Sirius murmured, stopping behind Peterís chair and resting a hand on his shoulder. "Even You-Know-Who himself wonít be able to find them once the fidelis is in place; then, once this is all over, things can get back to normal."
Peter nodded but still looked troubled. "But what if he does find them? Padfoot, he broke the Longbottomsí mindsówhoís to say he canít do that to whoeverís the Secret Keeper, especially if he knows who that is?"
"Relax, Wormy." Sirius grinned and squeezed Peterís shoulder. "The secret will be safe with me; who better to keep it?"
Peter shrugged and toyed with his cup.
"What? You think Iím going to blab? Merlin, mate, these are Lily and Jamesí lives weíre talking about here!"
Peter still didnít say anything, just looked up at Sirius out of the corner of his eye. They could hear James and Lily talking in the other room, but their voices were too low to make out what they were saying.
Sirius started to pace again. "Shite, I wish Moony was here," he muttered.
"Iím sure he has a reason," Peter consoled, now half turning in his chair to watch Sirius. "Heís got a lot going on."
"I know," Sirius snapped before halting and sighing. "Sorry, Peter, Iím just on edge with all this."
"It has to be tough, not knowing what heís doing half the time."
Sirius dropped back into his chair and nodded. "That it is, mate." He rested his chin on his hands, staring at the teapot between them for some time. "Díya really think my being Jamesí and Lilyís secret keeper would put them in danger?"
"I donít know," Peter answered. "You are Prongsí best friend though, so if someone wanted to find them..." His eyes widened in horror.
"Theyíd look for me," Sirius finished heavily.
"Whatíd you do now, Sirius?" Lily asked, her voice full of forced cheer.
Peter and Sirius looked up and attempted smiles, Sirius reaching out automatically when Harry laughed and reached for him. "Nothing, Lil, nothing at all," he assured her, settling Harry on his lap and tickling the toddlerís stomach.
"Why donít I believe that?" James said wryly.
Peter chuckled. "Well, itís true this time."
"Sadly, it is," Sirius nodded. "I was thinking though... maybe it would be best if I wasnít your secret keeper."
"But why, Padfoot? Youíre my best mate."
"Thatís exactly why," Sirius said pointedly. "Everyone who knows you will suspect Iím the one under the fidelus, thatís why."
"What about Remus?" Peter asked.
"No," Sirius countered, shaking his head, "heís got enough on his plate as it is. It has to be you, Peter."
"I - I donít think..." the blond began, only to be cut off by James.
"Sirius is right," he said, looking over at Lily, who slowly nodded. "Peter, youíre the one."
As Sirius opened the door to the flat, he rubbed at his forehead. Had he done the right thing? He hated not being the one to keep James, Lily and Harry safe, but maybe Peter was right, and by not knowing, he would keep them safe. Of course, if Peter was right about that, maybe he was right about other things as well...
Frowning, he started toward the kitchen, pulling himself up short when he saw a familiar form sitting at the table. "Moony! I didnít expect you home tonight." Relief coursed through him, but curled deep within it was a bit of resentment that he didnít know where Remus had been, nor was he likely to find out.
Remus rose from his seat and moved into Siriusí arms, swallowing hard when they were a fraction slower than usual in wrapping around him. "I missed you," he said, laying his head on Siriusí shoulder and unabashedly clinging to him. "With all that You-Know-Whoís been doing lately, I needed a reminder that thereís still some good, and youíre definitely the best thing I could think of."
"If youíve started thinking Iím good, you need some sleep," Sirius muttered, giving in and resting his cheek against the top of Remusí head, drawing comfort as much as giving it. "You okay?"
"Tired, scared, wishing we didnít have to be apart so much," Remus sighed. Wishing that Peterís comments didnít make so much sense. But I donít believe it; I wonít believe it. Not of you, Padfoot. Remus pressed a little closer. "I wish this were all over and we could just get on with our lives."
Sirius nodded. "That would make things simpler."
"Come to bed with me for a bit? We can make dinner later. Right now I need to feel you holding me," Remus said, not raising his head. "It seems so long since we could just relax together."
"Yes, it has been," Sirius echoed quietly, stepping back and letting his hands slide down Remusí arms to twine their fingers together as he started backing toward the bedroom. "When do you have to leave next?"
Remus was glad he was able to reply, "Not for three days. I get this weekend off. I think I was starting to look too pitiful," he admitted with a wry laugh. "I really missed you, Siri."
"Missed you too, I donít sleep well without you next to me." This was the truth, and Sirius was able to manage a smile as he said it.
"I know exactly what you mean!" Remus replied fervently. "I donít think Iíve slept a night through while I was away. I hate this," he said suddenly. "We should be spending time together and spoiling Harry and teasing Peter about Callista, not worrying about saving the world!"
"I donít think Wormyís seeing her any longer," Sirius answered. "He said something about her wanting someone with better prospects." They entered the bedroom, and Sirius let go of Remusí hands to shed his robes, stripping down to his pants and waiting for Remus to join him before getting into bed.
"Pity, she seemed a pleasant enough sort. Still, weíre all still young, and he has plenty of time to find the right person. There ought to be one fancy-free Marauder," Remus chuckled, shedding his clothes and sliding into bed. He sighed blissfully as the mattress contoured itself to his body, and he held out an arm to Sirius.
"Mmm, true," Sirius nodded, getting into the bed and spelling out the lights, feeling Remus settle against his side as he closed his eyes. "Who knows what the future will bring."
It took every bit of control that Sirius possessed to keep from chasing after Hagrid and tearing Harry out of his arms, but he managed to stay still, watching the huge man carry his godson away into a world without James and Lily.
Once his motorbike had faded into a speck in the night sky, Sirius turned, looking once more at the wreckage of the Pottersí cottage. A whimper forced itself from his throat, and he stumbled through the debris in search of James. When he found the other man, his best friend, in truth more of a brother than Regulus was, he dropped to his knees and moaned. Reaching out, he took the already cooling body into his arms, burying his head against Jamesí chest and rocking back and forth as tears of rage and despair forced their way from his eyes.
He wasnít sure how long he knelt there, but he was stiff when he finally stood after placing a farewell kiss on Jamesí forehead. "He wonít get away with this, Prongs," Sirius whispered, settling his friendís body back in the wreckage and straightening up. After finding Lily and promising her the same as well, he turned and walked away. It was time to kill a rat.
Remus sat in the darkened flat, arms wrapped around his knees where he crouched in a corner of the living room, the debris of the furnishings around him. He had no idea how long heíd been there, an hour, a day, a week, or perhaps an eternity had already passed in his personal hell. Dumbledore had been the one to tell him, the one to bring his universe crashing down on his head, and Remus had stumbled home silently.
Home. He laughed bitterly, the sound a raw sob in the desolation.
This had been his home, the place where heíd been ecstatically happy for a short time. With Sirius. Sirius, the man he loved, his best friend, the person heíd trusted above all others. The person whoíd killed one of his closest friends after helping Voldemort destroy their other friends, including Siriusí own dearest friend, and nearly his own godson as well.
Remus sobbed again, then threw back his head and screamed his anguish and rage and disbelief. How could this be; how could Sirius have led Voldemort to Lily and James and killed Peter? But he had, everyone knew it, and now Remus had to go on without his friends, without his love, and he had to cut his love for Sirius out of his heart.
Unable to bear another moment in his former home, Remus apparated away, indifferent to the fate of his belongings, wanting only to get away. Dust slowly settled to fill the void where heíd been, leaving only the destruction heíd wreaked when he first returned to show that heíd ever been there.
"Give this to Lupin when you see him, all right, Harry?" Sirius asked, pulling his godson into a rough hug before mounting Buckbeak. Running away again - he hated having to do it, but with Pettigrew on the loose again, it was his only chance. In a fair world, there would have been time to talk to Remus, but in a fair world, James and Lily wouldnít be dead, and Harry wouldnít have to live with his damn muggle relatives. "And take care of yourself." Harry nodded and stepped back as the hippogriff took to the air, waving furiously in farewell.
Remus stared down at the note, reading it for an extraordinarily long time for a three-word message. So he thinks to protect me by leaving me again, does he? Oh, Padfoot, do you really think itíll be that easy to shake me now that I know I can have you back? He smiled faintly as he thanked Harry for bringing him the message.
Once he convinced Harry and his friends that he was leaving and that it really was for the best, all that remained was to make his farewells to Dumbledore and Professor McGonagall, and he was off. He decided to visit his parents for a short while, knowing that Sirius would be on the move at first, but he had a very good idea where he would find his erstwhile lover when Sirius went to ground. And he was going to make sure that he had an alternative ready and remove Sirius from the dreadful atmosphere of his childhood home as quickly as possible.
"I expected you a week ago," Remus said blandly by way of greeting as he stepped out of the shadows and joined Sirius in front of 12 Grimmauld Place. "Iíve rented a cottage in the middle of nowhere in the Scottish Highlands. No one will ever to think to look for us there."
Sirius blinked and lowered the wand heíd half-raised in preparation to defend himself. "Donít you know better than to jump out at wanted criminals, Lupin?" he asked dryly.
"íLupin?í How formal we are, Padfoot. And I donít jump out at criminals, just errant lovers who disappear when they should know better than to try to leave me behind. I lost you once, Sirius, and Iíll spend the rest of my life trying to make up to you for believing it even for a moment. Iím not going to lose you again."
"There was the minor matter of you being a wolf and my being locked up in the tower waiting for the Dementorsí kiss that necessitated my swift departure," Sirius commented, feeling an ache in his chest as he looked at Remus.
Remus nodded, not denying any of that. "However, you could have left a message where I could meet you or sent me a message since then. Stop trying to be noble and protect me. I only want to be with you. Merlin, Sirius, I havenít slept a night through in twelve years!"
Sirius lowered his head so that his dull, knotted hair fell around his face. "Didnít do a very good job of it, did I?" he whispered. "I should have believed in you, Moony, in us, but I..." When he looked up again, his eyes were bright with unshed tears. "Iím sorry."
"Youíre sorry?" Remusí laugh was closer to a sob. "Oh, Sirius. I was the one who believed the lies about you, who listened to Peter beforehand and started to wonder and then believed that you could... could kill Prongs and Lily. Iím the one whoís sorry, so sorry."
Unable to stand the hopeless expression on Remusí face another moment, Sirius took a stumbling step forward, taking the other man into an embrace and resting his face against Remusí hair, shuddering. "Nothing to be sorry about, Moony; I did the same."
"Then stay with me or let me stay with you," Remus begged, arms closing convulsively around Sirius. The brief embrace the night theyíd discovered Peter hadnít been enough, not nearly enough after so long apart.
"Remus Lupin on the run with a wanted criminal and a rogue hippogriff?" Sirius murmured, "Doesnít sound like something the Moony I remember would do."
"Remus Lupin following after Sirius Black sounds exactly the way I remember us."
Sirius gave a strangled chuckle. "Youíre going to throw your life away, for me?"
"I think of it more as taking my life back." Remus hugged him tightly. "But unless we want it to be a very short one, we should probably go inside or leave."
"Only for a minute. Iím not staying in this hellhole a second longer than I have to," Sirius muttered, reluctantly letting Remus go and looking toward the house. "Just wanted to get some things and how in Merlinís name did you know I was coming back here?"
"Where else would you go that no one else could find you? And where no one who knows you, aside from me of course, would ever think to find you? I knew immediately, even before I saw the letter you owled to Harry."
"That letter was supposed to make everyone think I was in South America," Sirius commented even as he led Remus up to the door and murmured the counterspell to unlock the wards.
"It worked for everyone else. But I knew that there was no way you would go that far away with things so unsettled. If Iíd thought you had, Iíd be there myself." Remus followed him inside, wrinkling his nose at the dust and grime. "I thought there were house elves?"
Sirius looked around the dark, dismal interior, his shoulders slumping under the weight of being in the House of Black once again. "Thereís one, Kreacher. He was always insane; doubt being here alone since my mother died has helped him any."
He looked down in distaste at the trollís leg umbrella stand and made a face. "Címon, Moony, letís get what I came for and get out of here. After seeing this, youíll understand why I never invited you lot over."
Remus sneezed and nodded vigorously. "I already do. What a gloomy place! I think the Slytherin commonroom would be more inviting!" He followed Sirius warily, half expecting something to jump out at them, and he let out a loud yelp when a shrill, accusing voice suddenly shrieked at them from a portrait on the wall.
"How dare you bring that foul, filthy half-breed into this house, Sirius? You should have done him in like you did the rest of them."
Sirius tensed and reached for his wand, aiming a conflagration spell at the portrait hanging in the hallway. "Shut up you fucking bitch!" he screamed, watching in satisfaction as flames rolled over the painting. His expression turned to one of disbelief, however, when the smoke cleared, revealing the undamaged portrait.
"How dare you! This is my house, you ungrateful whelp! And that creature doesnít belong here. Leave!" she shrieked directly at Remus, who winced.
"I really wish my hearing wasnít as good as it is," he muttered under his breath, glaring at the picture. "Do you think we could paint a gag on her? Shut up, you foul-mouthed harpy!" he roared, momentarily shocking Mrs. Black into silence, glaring at her for the insults to Sirius.
"... finally seemed to be coming to his senses and now this," the portrait muttered to herself, glaring at the two men.
"Just so you know, dear Mother," Sirius said, drawing himself up straighter and looking her in the eye, "all those things you were so proud of me for these past years were a lie; just thought youíd like to know."
As Mrs. Black screamed insults and curses after them, Sirius dragged Remus down the hallway and upstairs to his old room. "Just need to clear this out and we can be off," he muttered, kneeling down on the floor and fiddling with a board near the far corner.
"You must have some fairly important things here to be willing to come back and deal with her," Remus said with distaste, watching Sirius curiously. "That is the most horrid person Iíve ever had the misfortune to meet. Itís a bloody miracle you turned out the way you did."
"I had no idea that thing was hanging there," Sirius said, removing the board and pulling a pack from the space beneath it, then a box. "She died a year ago, I heard about it while I was outside Hogwarts. Thought itíd be easy enough to get in here..." He opened the box and pulled out a wand, stuffing it in his pocket. "Should have known that would have been too easy."
After replacing the board, he slung the pack onto his shoulder and stood. "All right, thatís the lot of it. At least I can get rid of this damn shoddy wand now." He eyed the one he had been using with disdain.
"So now we can run away together?" Remus asked eagerly. Despite all the problems and the difficulties he knew lay ahead, all he could keep thinking was that he had Sirius back and they were going to be alone together for the first time in a lifetime.
"We need to go collect Buckbeak first," Sirius answered, managing a smile at the eagerness in Remusí tone. For a moment, the other man sounded twelve again.
"I suppose I can share your attention with him. After all, he did help save your life by giving you a means to get away," Remus replied. "For that alone Iíd make sure he was the happiest hippogriff in the history of the world."
"Heíll be glad to hear it. Now, címon, Moony, letís get out of here."
"With pleasure. Weíre going home, Sirius," Remus said softly, arms going around Sirius to hold him close. "For the first time in a dozen years, weíre going home together."
"Good thing the place had a barn," Sirius mused once they were in the small cottage with the door and windows shut against the brewing storm and warded against visitors. "Not quite what Buckbeakís used to, but he seemed happy enough."
He paused and looked around the cozy space, feeling something in his chest clench. "Nice place you chose here, Moony. Watch it; Iíll want to stay permanently."
"Thatís the idea. Iím never letting you out of my sight again," Remus said emphatically. "Whatever happens to you happens to both of us. I wonít ever lose you again. Iíve been barely half alive the last years. Iíd rather be dead, Sirius."
Sirius rounded on Remus, his blue eyes ablaze. "Donít say that. Donít ever say that."
"If it upsets you, I wonít, but it doesnít change the facts, Sirius. I havenít been living these last years, just existing, and I donít ever want to feel that again. Youíre rather stuck with me, Iím afraid," he finished cheerfully, trying to lighten the mood.
Taking a deep breath to try and calm himself, Sirius nodded. "Suppose thatís for the best as Iím yours for life and beyond."
"That sounds like a good start to me," Remus replied, pulling him into a hug. "Shall we look upstairs at the bedroom? I havenít slept with you in a very long time, and I think this is a good time for a nap."
"Sounds like a grand idea," Sirius answered, taking Remusí hand and letting the other man lead him up the stairs. "A bed and you next to me - seems like a dream."
Remus smiled faintly but replied, "No, the last years have been the bad dream. This is finally real." He went straight to the bedroom, only then letting go of Siriusí hand to start undressing, amber eyes never leaving his rediscovered lover.
Sirius swallowed hard as he watched Remus strip down, only belatedly remembering to remove his own clothes as well. "Youíre whatís real, Remus," he rasped, sitting down on the side of the bed before his knees gave out.
"Letís agree that weíre both real, shall we?" Remus sank down to his knees in front of Sirius, hands settling on the other manís shoulders. He leaned his forehead against Siriusí, letting out a sigh of utter contentment and relief as the never-forgotten scent of his lover surrounded him.
Sirius leaned into the touch, bringing his arms around Remusí shoulders, his fingers lacing underneath the other manís tawny hair at the nape of his neck. A deep shudder ran through him, and he leaned back to look Remus in the eye. "Lie down with me, Moony."
"Iíd like nothing better." Remus somehow slid up onto the bed and got them positioned comfortably without ever losing his grip on Sirius. Suddenly an idea struck him, and he grinned, pulling out his wand and muttering a short spell. A moment later the bed undulated gently beneath them.
Shaking his head, Sirius uttered a bark-like laugh and pulled Remus closer, needing to feel their whole lengths pressed together for comfort as much as anything. "Youíre too thin," he muttered, pressing a hand against Remusí ribs.
"I could play the xylophone on your ribs!" Remus retorted, fist clenching momentarily in Siriusí long, dark hair. "Weíre going to stuff ourselves silly and do nothing but eat and be together for at least a fortnight."
"And sleep," Sirius added.
"Oh yes, we have years to make up for." Remus hugged him tightly, face buried against Sirius. "And you wanted to run away from me, you bloody git!"
Sirius closed his eyes and took a deep breath. "I wanted you safe. You and Harry, thatís all there is to me now, Moony."
"How can I be safe without you?" Remus shook his head, stroking Siriusí hair unconsciously. "That would just leave me empty again."
"No," Sirius corrected gently. "Even if we arenít together, Iíll be with you, I swear."
"Iíd prefer not to put it to the test if itís all the same to you," Remus replied, shuddering slightly. "I like you right here where I can touch you."
"Same here." Sirius stroked a hand over Remusí hair and down his back, stifling a yawn as he felt himself relax for the first time in over a decade.
"Sleep, love," Remus murmured drowsily. "Weíll wake up together."
"Then weíll feed you," Sirius mumbled, closing his eyes and already half asleep as he spoke.
"And you." Remus rolled half on top of Sirius, settling against him as naturally as if the intervening years had never been. He smiled as he fell asleep.
The sun was just coming up, painting the bedroom shades of dawn, when Sirius awoke, gasping for breath, the remnants of his nightmare clinging to his consciousness. He tried to sit up, found he couldnít move, and immediately transfigured, desperate to get away from whoever it was that had found him.
Remus yelped as he was tossed half across the bed from where heíd been comfortably sprawled atop Sirius, his eyes opening blearily to see the panicked looking dog poised at the edge of the waterbed. "Sirius?" He knuckled his eyes, trying to wake up.
At the sound of Remusí voice, the tension leeched from the dogís body, and as he turned around, it was Sirius who finished the motion to sit cross-legged on the bed. "Fuck, Iím sorry, Moony. Wasnít sure where I was there for a minute."
"At least you didnít bite me," Remus shrugged. "Iím sure it wonít be the last time something like that happens. And I donít mind seeing Padfoot around. Heís comfortable when itís cool."
Sirius nodded and attempted a smile. "I suppose Iím still more used to being him than myself."
"Heís still you... and we really canít talk about this too long, or weíll confuse ourselves," Remus half-chuckled. "But I do enjoy the human you, too."
"Good point," Sirius said, "and I would hope so since thatís who youíre stuck with except during the full moonóand speaking of that, is Snape," his mouth twisted into a snarl, "making you more potion?"
"Yes, I made arrangements for him to give it to Dumbledore, whoíll bring to me in the village. Iím sorry I had to let him know that much about where we are, but I need that potion, Siri. It at least lets me have the peace of knowing I wonít hurt anyone."
"Donít apologize for that, love," Sirius murmured, reaching out to touch the other manís face. "If anyone alive deserves peace, itís you."
"I could say the same of you. What youíve suffered, Sirius." Remus leaned into his palm. "Maybe we can find some peace together... and then maybe we can find our way back to where we were."
Sirius nodded, his throat too thick to allow him to answer.
"Right then, breakfast." Remus knew that if they sat there any longer, theyíd both break down, and while that might help, they werenít ready for it yet. So he got up and pulled on his jeans. "Fancy some porridge? Or steak and eggs?"
After clearing his throat and giving himself a shake, Sirius stood as well. "Porridge is fine," he said, reaching for his own clothes. "As long as thereís honey."
"Know your sweet tooth, donít I? Of course thereís honey. And marmalade and fresh currant jelly too. Iíve gotten to be a fair hand in the kitchen."
"Guess thatís a good thing as I doubt thereís much take-away up here." Sirius followed Remus out of the bedroom to the small kitchen. "Suppose I can put water on for tea at least."
"Are you going to burn the kettle again?"
Sirius quirked a small smile. "Not if you keep your eye on it."
"Iím going to be doing all the cooking, arenít I? Which means you get all the washing up." Remus quirked a smile. "I donít think I mind that division of labor at all."
"I think I can manage a ĎScourgifyí or two to clean things up."
"Just make sure youíre aiming at the dishes and not me. I donít need to be scoured."
Sirius finished filling the kettle and set it on the stove. "No, I want to put meat on your bones, not scrape it off."
"Iím actually looking forward to a good meal if that makes you feel any better," Remus admitted. For a long time now heíd eaten only because he had to, but with Sirius back he found renewed interest in many things.
Sirius nodded. "Then hadnít you best get cooking it?" he asked, striving for a bit of his old jocularity.
"Demanding bugger, arenít you?" Remus pretended to glare as he started the porridge. "Put on some toast, wonít you? And donít forget to make the tea."
"Now look whoís being demanding," Sirius chuckled. "Tell me where the bread is and I will; the tea has to wait for the water to boil."
"I realize this is a leap of logic, but you might try the breadbox."
"Logic was never my strong point and you know it." Sirius lazily pointed his wand at the wooden box. "Accio bread."
Remus gaped at him. "You couldnít walk five steps across the room to get it yourself? You lazy git! You and I are going for a long walk this afternoon."
"Feed me first," Sirius demanded, opening the bread wrapper and pulling out several slices.
"Before and after," Remus replied, eyeing the clearly visible ribs. "I plan to fatten you up like a Christmas goose."
"Well, you always did like goose."
Remus rolled his eyes. "Make the toast. And the kettleís boiling." Remus needed his attention on the porridge just then to make sure it didnít scorch or get lumpy. "This is almost ready."
"Yessir, Professor Lupin, sir," Sirius chuckled, standing and putting the bread in the toaster then adding leaves to the teapot and pouring boiling water over them.
"Ah, Iíll get you housebroken yet."
Sirius snorted. "Woof," he muttered.
"Good boy." Remus reached over to pat his head.
"Keep it up and youíre going to get bit."
"Promises, promises," Remus taunted, laughing. He turned the flame off on the stove and carried the pot over to the table where he served up two generous helpings. "There then, just need the honey and milk and itís done."
Sirius gave a half smile and went to gather up the toast from the toaster. He set it on the table and poured them both mugs of tea while Remus brought over the condiments. "Youíre right, Moony; you have learned to cook," he commented.
"Lots of free time," Remus murmured into his tea. "But Iím glad because you really do need to gain some weight. Iím afraid a strong wind will blow you away."
"Have you ever heard the muggle expression Ďthe pot calling the kettle blackí?"
Remus made a face at him. "Fine, fine, so I could do with a bit more flesh as well. Weíll get fat together, and then no one else will want us, so I can stop worrying about someone stealing you away from me."
Sirius arched his eyebrows before taking a sip of his tea. "Moony, the only reason anyone would want to do that would be to claim whatever reward the Ministry has on my head."
The snarling growl Remus let out would have done Moony proud. "No one will touch you," he gritted.
"Easy love," Sirius murmured, reaching out to take Remusí hand. "Iím not going anywhere."
"Bloody right," Remus replied emphatically, his fingers lacing through Siriusí. It took a moment for him to calm down, and when he did, he smiled sheepishly at Sirius. "Sorry. Bit of an overreaction there."
"I expect Iíd react the same way if someone came after you," Sirius answered carefully.
Remus smiled wryly. "So weíre a bit nuts about each other." He shrugged. "Doesnít sound so bad to me. Now eat your porridge before it gets cold."
Sirius nodded and squeezed Remusí hand. "If Iím a knut, itís a bad one," he murmured before going back to his meal.
"Youíre my bad knut," Remus replied, eyeing him to make sure he was eating before starting his own breakfast. He started to take a piece of toast, stopped, stared, and started laughing.
"Sirius, I adore you, but how can you possibly manage to burn one corner of the toast to a cinder while the opposite is completely untoasted?"
"Blame your toaster, not me," Sirius chuckled, handing over the butter and knife.
"I manage to get a normal piece of toast... but youíre not getting out of helping that easily!" he added hastily as he saw the glint in Siriusí eye.
"Would I try to do that?"
"Yes!" Remus pushed a salvaged bit of toast toward him and took a slice himself. "You Marauder."
Sirius closed his eyes and took a deep breath. "Merlin, it feels good to hear you say that."
Remus reached over and took his hand. "You are a Marauder, Sirius. You and I are the last, though I think Harryís bidding fair to be another. Heís more serious than Prongs, of course, but the lad has a fair bit of mischief in him." Remus smiled suddenly. "I wonder what his form would be if he were to become an animagus."
"I wouldnít ask him that, or somehow he, Weasley and Granger would manage to do what we did just to find out." Some of the sadness left Siriusí eyes at the thought of it.
Remus shuddered. "Merlin! Those three are impossible. Hermione is much too clever for their own good, and they just egg each other on... Much like another group of Griffindors I can think of."
"Youíll have to tell me more about them all, you know."
"Thatís right, you didnít really get a chance to get to know any of them, did you?" Remus rubbed a thumb over the back of Siriusí hand. "Iíll tell you everything I know till you cringe at the very mention of their names the way I do."
Sirius shook his head. "Not going to happen. You tell me all you know, and Iíll still beg you for more."
"By then theyíll have stirred up another dozen hornetsí nests and experimented with who knows what spells, so weíll never run out of tales. Perhaps we could convince Dumbledore to start a Gryffindor Gazette," Remus laughed.
"Doubt thatíll happen, so weíll just have to rely on letters." Sirius sighed and ate some more.
"We will sort this all out, Sirius," Remus said quietly, reaching across the table yet again to take his hand. "And when we do, weíll have Harry to live with us, and weíll teach him all the tricks we used to use."
Sirius nodded and let go of Remusí hand to nudge him into eating more. "Heís already got the map and Jamesí cloak; who could ask for a better start?"
"And he has two best mates and us as well." Remus ate more of his porridge, wrinkling his nose as he saw how much honey was swimming on Siriusí. "Itís a wonder your teeth donít rot," he marveled.
"Scourgify spells are good for more than pots."
"Make sure you use it before you kiss me. Iíve never liked quite that much sweetness." Remus virtuously ate another spoonful of his porridge, which had been lightly drizzled with honey.
"Your loss," Sirius murmured, turning back to his own meal, noting Remus ate more when he was eating as well.
"I can plenty of secondhand sugar," Remus said solemnly, then laughed lightly. "But if itíll make you eat more, Iíll buy it by the gallon."
"And just how are you going to afford it?" Sirius asked, only half-joking as he knew jobs for Remus would be few and far between now that Snape had spread the word that he was a werewolf.
Remus shrugged. "I have a bit put aside at Gringottís. And quite a bit in a muggle bank, too, since Iíve mostly been working the muggle world. They need tutors too. I havenít really spent very much since there was nothing I wanted to spend it on, and now Iím glad since Iíll be able to spoil you with it."
Sirius arched an eyebrow. "I think you need to spend it on some new robes for yourself."
"The new ones would just get frayed at the hem too. Mine are perfectly serviceable. And frankly Iím hoping to keep us naked most of the time for a while."
"Finish your breakfast, Remus," Sirius answered, smiling as he downed the rest of his food. "We have a walk to take, remember?"
"Oh yes. I suppose weíd better dress then. You might scare the sheep."
"Oh, now thatís amusing, Moony," Sirius snorted, rolling his eyes before getting to his feet and spelling the dishes and pots clean.
"I thought so." Remus waited till he was done then caught Siriusí hand to draw him upstairs so they could dress. Though it was summer, it was a wet, foggy morning, and theyíd be more comfortable in jeans and sweaters, especially since Remus was looking forward to a nice long walk over the moors with Sirius, by which time the sun should have burned off the dampness.
It didnít take long to dress, even with frequent interruptions to touch each other, and they were soon headed back downstairs. "Think we should take a picnic basket with us?" Remus mused. "You could even ramble on about wanking again if you like," he chuckled, remembering another afternoon a long time ago.
Sirius gave a small smile. "Why not, though not sure about the conversation; itís been so long since Iíve done it, I canít remember it to talk about it."
"Oh, Sirius!" Remus stopped in his tracks, spinning around to pull Sirius into his arms and hug him tightly. "What they did to you, what I let them do to you," he whispered, self-loathing clear in his voice. "I donít know how you can bear to look at me."
"Easy, love," Sirius murmured, wrapping Remus into an embrace and resting his head against the other manís hair. "More like how can I not look at you. You didnít do a thing to me."
Remus pressed against him, comforted by the once-familiar sensation of Siriusí length along him. "I believed Pettigrewís lies," he whispered. "Iím so sorry, Sirius. I never should have doubted you, never let my jealousy and insecurities drive a wedge between us that stole a huge chunk of your life. Thatíll never happen again. I only hope you can still trust me."
Sirius shook his head, closing his eyes. "You werenít the only one who believed, Remus. If Iíd have taken the time to think it all through..." He sighed and leaned into the embrace. "We canít go on saying Ďwhat ifí. Right now there are three things I want: Harry safe, Peter dead, and youóin any order I can get them."
"Well, Harryís as safe as he can be for the moment even if not particularly happy with those vile peopleóIíll never understand how that poisonous creature could be Lilyís sister! Peter, unfortunately, is out of our reach for the moment, and as for me, you have me. You always did."
"Thatís why I had to chase you around for a year, is it?" Sirius asked, giving a slight smile. "And I think Harry will be all rightóthe muggles now know that his deranged murderer of a godfather is on the loose, and who knows what might befall them if the nutter gets word they mistreated his godson."
Remus gaped at him and then started to laugh, delighted by the tiny glimpse of the old, mischievous Sirius. "Do you think we should owl them? Just to Ďthankí them for the excellent care theyíre taking of Harry?" he chuckled.
"Iím more up for a Ďweíre watching youí note. Scare the ugly plaid pants off that git of an uncle of his."
"Oh, we really must. Harry deserves to get some joy out of his miserable summers. That James and Lilyís son should have to live with such joyless muggles!" Remus shook his head. "We need to put an end to Voldemort so we can be a family. The three of us are all we have left."
Siriusí expression sobered, and he sighed. "Fucking Snape..." he growled.
Remus restrained an urge to roll his eyes. "Forget Snape and concentrate on the real enemy... just not right now. This is our time, though Iím beginning to wonder if Iíve lost my appeal." He peered up through his graying hair, which had fallen over his face, knowing that waifish look had never failed to move Sirius.
"If it wasnít for..." Sirius caught sight of the glint in Remus amber eyes and cut himself off. "Right, love." He reached out and brushed Remusí hair off his brow and shivered when he met the other wizardís gaze. "Címon, best take that walk."
"Yes, I need to get you back into shape so I can wear you out," Remus replied with a grin.
Sirius stepped back and eyed Remus from top to bottom. "Iím not the only one."
This time Remus did roll his eyes. "Well, I see some things never change. You were always trying to fatten me up back then too."
"Compared to now, you weighed as much as a dragon back then."
"Very funny!" Remus gave him a mock glare. "Come on then, letís be on our way. Iíve a fancy to lie in a field and have you feed me peeled grapes."
"Dream on, Moony," Sirius snorted. "Perhaps after you fan me and quote poems to me."
"More likely Iíll tumble you into a stream," Remus laughed, finally letting his hands drop from Siriusí waist to move toward the door again. "Might have to give you mouth to mouth after that."
"Oh damn, letís find the stream quick."
Remus burst into laughter. "Try to be a little more obvious, why donít you?" Chuckling, he waved his wand at the picnic basket that began to follow them, bouncing giddily as if sharing his laughter.
"Only time Iím secretive is if Iím pulling pranks, you know that," Sirius called, standing in the cottage door. He eyed the open surroundings, then sighed and changed forms, not wanting to risk having Remus caught with him.
Remus frowned slightly as Padfoot joined him, but he didnít call Sirius on it, not yet. "I wish I could change as easily as you do," he said wistfully, watching the huge black dog pace at his side. "But I enjoy watching you even when I canít," he added, smiling faintly.
Padfoot barked and bumped against Remusí legs, leaning into him as they walked along together, his tail wagging in contentment.
Remus let his hand trail along the silky fur on the dogís back, Padfoot tall enough for him to pet without leaning down. "Oh, it feels so good to be together again," he said softly, glancing down to meet the intelligent brown gaze.
The dog chuffed a bark of agreement, ducking back to lick Remusí trailing fingers before dancing ahead.
Laughing, Remus chased after him, Padfoot letting him get close enough almost to touch him before darting away again. "Tease!" he panted after a few minutes, pausing to catch his breath.
Padfoot gave a low bark, this one of concern when he saw how winded just this bit of exertion had left Remus. Settling into a walk again, he fell in at Remusí side, whining quietly as he rubbed against the manís leg.
"Stop worrying, or Iíll be calling you mother hen," Remus chided cheerfully. "Iíve just not had much exercise lately. Iím out of practice."
A sneeze was the only answer Remus received as they walked toward a small copse of trees nestled in the valley ahead.
"You know," Remus observed conversationally, "thereís no one around here. Not for miles and miles. Weíre completely alone. Thatís why I rented this cottage. Thereís no one to see us no matter what we do or how we look when we do it."
Padfoot cocked his head to the side and looked up at Remusí, for once determined to be the cautious one.
"Bloody hell but you can be stubborn when youíve a mind to!" Remus shook his head. "Fine, but I expect human conversation once weíre shielded from view by no one," he repeated.
Padfoot nodded and nuzzled Remusí leg by way of apology.
"Shall I toss a stick for you to fetch then?"
That provoked a small nip at the fabric of Remusí trousers.
"Oi! Thatís not the kind of biting I like!" Remus yelped as he dodged aside. "Here am I trying to be friendly, and you go and bite my arse. Some people are just never satisfied."
Shaking his head, Sirius trotted ahead of Remus and flopped in the shade of the trees, his tongue lolling out as he panted.
"I hope youíre not expecting me to serve you," Remus said pointedly as he allowed the basket to settle to the ground and reached into it for the blanket heíd packed. Once it was spread over the grass, he flopped onto it, arms and legs akimbo, and groaned happily. "Ah, this is a good day."
Padfoot got to his feet again and walked over to the blanket, settling down with his head on Remusí belly, changing as he rolled over so that his head was pillowed on Remus. "Mmm, yes it is," he sighed, stretching out and relaxing.
Remus smiled contentedly up at the sky, enjoying the bright day that had dawned as the early morning haze burned off, one hand lazily stroking Siriusí hair. "That cloud," he said suddenly, "looks exactly like Professor McGonagall, donít you think? After weíd done something particularly annoying."
"Yímean like the time we let loose those doxies in the Slytherin common room?" Sirius murmured, his tone one of lazy contentment.
"Exactly!" Remus laughed as he remembered that occasion. "She had an expression just like a wet cat. Of course, we didnít look much better when she got her hands on us."
"Merlin, that was the detention we spent cleaning out the drains under the Potions classroom." Sirius laughed and continued, "Remember how Jamesí hands got dyed blue and Peter..." He sighed and shook his head. "And I lost half the hair on my head."
"And then you had the same expression as an offended cat," Remus chuckled, stroking the hair in question. "You were appalled that anything would dare sully your appearance."
"What was worse was having to listen to the Slytherins crow about it until I talked Madame Pomfrey into making me a potion so it would grow back."
Remus tugged lightly on the long, dark strands. "You looked kind of cute mangy."
Sirius snorted. "I looked like shite and you know it. Not much worse than now probably."
"Youíre the most beautiful sight Iíve ever seen," Remus replied quietly and fervently. "Though I will admit you do look better with a full head of hair." He stroked it comfortingly, though it was questionable which of them drew more peace from the action.
"Glad you think so," Sirius murmured, pressing his head into the caress. "We had it easy back then, Moony. Go to class, pull pranks, run around the Forest once a month..."
"Well, I wasnít so thrilled with the running around the Forest," Remus murmured, "but youíre right. Life was certainly a lot simpler then. For a little while, though, we can pretend that itís like that again. Itís just the two of us, alone together, with no distractions or problems." He chuckled faintly. "I think weíre on our honeymoon, Sirius."
"I thought those always came complete with half-naked women serving you drinks in coconut shells," Sirius chuckled, rolling over so that he could look at Remus. "Not to say I donít like the thought of it."
"The only person youíre going to be looking at half-naked is me and donít you forget it!" Remus half-growled, tugging again on Siriusí hair. "Or are you telling me that I donít interest you any more?" he teased.
Sirius stared at Remus as if heíd gone mad. "What do you think?"
"Well, youíre the one talking about half-naked women!" Remus tried a slight pout to see if it still had the same effect on Sirius.
"You donít like thinking about half-naked women?" Sirius asked, frowning. "It isnít as if I want to grope them or anything."
Remus shrugged. "I prefer to think about you if Iím going to imagine anyone half-naked. Women are pretty enough but not really my thing."
"Think about me? You saw me half-naked last night, or would you rather I go on about wanking some?"
"Hmmm." Remus pretended to think about it. "It would be a pretty show, but I suppose it can wait till later. I need to feed you up some first."
"Likewise, Iím sure," Sirius answered, arching an eyebrow.
Remus started laughing as he peered down at Sirius. "You wonít be happy till my arse is the size of an elephantís, will you?"
Sirius shrugged. "Better that than a shrewís."
"You really are mad." Remus shook his head as he absently combed his fingers through Siriusí hair, massaging his scalp. "But Iíll eat if you will."
"Twelve years in Azkaban," Sirius laughed, pressing a kiss to Remusí stomach. "And I think I could manage a bite or two."
"Youíll manage more than that, or the sandwiches are the only thing youíll be biting!" Remus frowned darkly. "Iím afraid a good blow would carry you away."
Sirius paused and gave a slow grin, his blue eyes sparkling with suppressed mirth. "Well, you could always give it a try and see what happens."
"What? Oh! Thatís not what I meant, you git!" Then Remus stopped and thought about it, and it was his turn to smile slowly. "Though if youíre offering..." He squirmed out from under Sirius and rolled onto all fours straddling the other man. "Perhaps we should work up an appetite," he murmured, grinning down at Sirius.
"I think youíre suggesting something Iíve always had an appetite for," Sirius murmured, reaching up to pull Remus in for a kiss and shivering as their bodies came together. Thirteen years, and it felt like forever.
Remus groaned into the kiss, his hands clenching into fists on either side of Siriusí head. He lowered himself until they were almost touching, each oneís body heat warming the other as their mouths clung together.
"Merlin... Moony," Sirius whimpered, clutching Remus to him and holding on for dear life as they kissed again, tongues sliding against each other as they rocked together.
"Right here, Padfoot," Remus murmured as he lowered himself onto Sirius, clutching at him as soon as he didnít have to support himself any more. "Iím right here with you, and Iím never leaving you again." His mouth closed over Siriusí again on the final word as they clung to one another.
Sirius shuddered, clasping Remus against him as they traded control of the kiss back and forth, both trying to devour the other. When they finally broke apart, he looked up at the other man, panting harshly, blue eyes dark with a roiling mix of emotion but unable to speak.
Remus stared down for long moments, his own amber eyes showing a welter of confusion, remembered pain, and lust. Finally he pressed another kiss to Siriusí lips before sliding downward, his fingers fumbling with belt and buttons before sliding beneath to free Sirius. He nuzzled against the bared flesh, breathing in the scent of his lover, finally believing that they were really back together.
"Ahh, Moony," Sirius groaned, tangling his hands in Remusí hair and bucking upwards, on edge already and knowing he wasnít going to last. "Love me," he begged.
"Always," Remus murmured an instant before he took Sirius into his mouth. He moaned at the never forgotten taste, making Sirius shudder, and he suckled on the head, a hand curled protectively around the shaft while he concentrated on reacquainting himself with one portion.
Sirius cried out again, beyond caring if anyone heard them, not that it was likely given their remote location. He heard his pulse throbbing in his ears and screamed, unable to stand even that small bit of attention, his orgasm leaving him spent and weak as the day heíd escaped Azkaban.
Remus drank him down, petting and soothing the shaking man beneath him as he slid back up his body to kiss him tenderly. "I love you," he whispered, holding Sirius tightly in his embrace.
Sirius bit back a sob and clung to Remus, burying his head against the other manís shoulder, finally able to believe this was real. "Need- need to do something about you, love," he finally whispered, trying to recover some equilibrium and feeling Remusí erection digging into his hip.
"Only if you want to. Holding you and wanking is good too, more than I imagined Iíd ever have again until recently," Remus murmured, rocking gently against him.
"Thought I was supposed to be the one going on about wanking," Sirius murmured, managing to get a hand between them to rub his palm against the rough corduroy fabric of Remusí trousers.
"Got tired of waiting, didnít I?" Remus laughed quietly, arching into Siriusí palm with a soft moan. It had been so long, so very long, and he nearly sobbed as Sirius touched him.
"No more waiting, love," Sirius whispered, undoing the button and zipper and easing his fingers under the pants and Remusí boxers to close them over his erection. "Feel so good..."
"Yes, you do," Remus panted, nearly whimpering as Sirius touched him. "Oh Merlin, please donít let this be a dream," he moaned, eyes closing as he thrust into Siriusí hand.
"Iím here, Moony. Never leaving you again, I swear," Sirius whispered, kissing Remusí temple and moving his hand faster, knowing Remus was on edge.
Remus cried Siriusí name as he came, a single tear falling from his eye as he collapsed in his loverís arms.
Sirius stroked his free hand over Remusí back, calming him and holding him close. "Love you, always will," he promised.
"And you wanted to leave me behind," Remus snorted, holding him tightly. "Prat."
"Wanted you safe," Sirius corrected gently. "But it seems you have your own version of safety and what it implies." Even as he spoke, Sirius shivered inwardly, knowing that if it came down to leaving or having Remus end up in Azkaban with him, heíd go.
Remus smiled faintly. "If you ever try to leave me again, Iíll hunt you down and kick your arse!"
"You and what army of Aurors?"
"I wonít need an army," Remus snorted. "So donít tempt me. Iím not going to lose you again, Sirius, no matter what. So donít even bother trying."
Sirius looked offended. "Why would I try that?"
"Just making sure weíre clear on it. Youíre mine."
"Never argued that point. In fact, I seem to remember having trouble convincing you of it."
Remus opened his mouth, stared at Sirius, closed it again, and then started to laugh. "I think this is quite possibly the silliest argument weíve ever had."
Sirius was silent a moment before chuckling. "I do believe youíre right, love."
"We must be lightheaded from hunger. We should eat." Remus twisted around to grab for the picnic basket and reach in, suddenly hungry. "We worked up an appetite, and weíll need to feed it before we can do anything else."
"Mmmm," Sirius murmured, reaching for his wand. "Best clean you up too so you donít get a chill." He mumbled the spell and settled Remus against his side so they could share the food in the basket.
Remus sighed happily. "This feels exactly the way I remember it," he said softly, head pillowed on Siriusí shoulder. "Itís right, the way it should be." He had one arm draped over Siriusí middle, and he felt content, at peace.
"That it is," Sirius whispered, his voice rough as he held Remus close.
Remus reached into the basket and pulled out a block of cheese. He broke off a bit and took a bite, then offered it to Sirius, holding it to his lips to tempt him.
"Youíre a mother hen, you know that?" Sirius rasped, dipping his head down to nibble at the cheese.
"Which would make you my egg. Well, I do like to sit on you," Remus mused, smirking.
Sirius gave a bark of laughter and cuffed Remus on the back of the head, feeling as if he was finally regaining some inner balance. "Which means you should eat more so your bony arse wonít bruise me."
"Iíll have you know this is a perfectly fine arse!" Remus replied indignantly. "And Iíll eat more if you will," he bargained, thinking but not saying that Sirius was the one who needed building up.
Sirius chuckled to himself. "You know, we seem to be having this conversation quite a lot."
"We do, donít we," Remus agreed laughingly. "Obviously we both need to take better care of ourselves. Or least let each other do it for us." He drew out some biscuits to go with the cheese and busied himself with that for a bit, realizing that he was hungry.
Satisfied that Remus was eating his fill, Sirius rooted around in the basket as well, finding some cold roast and snacking on that, feeling the strange sensation of total relaxation for the first time in years.
"Mmm, this is nice," Remus murmured contentedly some time later, lying with his head in Siriusí lap as he again watched the clouds float overhead. "Iíd like to stay here forever."
"Thatíd be nice," Sirius answered quietly, stroking Remusí hair.
"Then thatís what weíll do." Remus laid a gentle finger over Siriusí lips when he tried to speak. "For now, until we hear otherwise, we can let ourselves enjoy this time and not worry about the future. So in a way, it is forever." He smiled suddenly. "Besides, you need to put on a few stone before we go anywhere."
Sirius groaned. "Moony, I love you, but if you mention my weight or lack of it once more, Iím going to hex you!"
Remus burst into laughter. "Oh, but itís such fun watching you growl at me," he chuckled, letting Sirius know that heíd been doing it to tease him... at least in part.
Sirius grumbled again and took a vicious bite out of a remaining roll.
"Mmm, yes, I do like the sound of that growl," Remus murmured, shivering sensually. "You could always bite me, you know," he invited throatily.
"Might have to hold off a bit on that," Sirius answered, his frown turning to a lopsided smile, "not as young as I used to be."
"You mean you have to take your teeth out?" Remus widened his eyes comically. "You have muggle dentures?"
Sirius waggled his eyebrows. "Can you imagine the blowjobs if I did?"
"You sound much too interested in that for my liking. Padfoot would not like being toothless, so forget it, Sirius." Remus was snickering as he spoke, unable to hold back as he imagined Padfoot.
Sirius couldnít resist. "Moony might like it."
Remus snorted. "You just like the fact that Iím still aware as Moony now, thanks to the potion, and Padfootís finally going to get some."
"Moony and Padfoot?" Sirius tried to look horrified. "Remus J. Lupin, youíve gone kinky in your old age!"
"You mean youíve forgot that I always was?" Remus smirked. "And what did you expect? After all, poor Moonyís a virgin!"
"You really want Moony and Padfoot to..." Sirius shook his head, eyes wide.
Looking somewhat taken aback, Remus stared back. "You mean you donít?" Heíd never considered that, just assuming that Sirius would want to share everything with him now that they could.
Sirius snickered. "Gotcha, love."
"Prat!" Remus growled at him, lazily smacking him but too relaxed to put any force behind it. "Serve you right if Moony turns his nose upóand his tail down!--at you."
"As if he would."
Remusí eyebrows rose. "Are you sure you want to dare me, Padfoot?"
Sirius mimicked the expression. "As if you have any control over him."
"You do remember that potion I take now, donít you?"
"Smug prat," Remus grumbled, knowing that Sirius was right and heíd never be able to ignore Padfoot any more than he could ever ignore Sirius.
Sirius smiled and lay back, folding his arms behind his head and closing his eyes. "Only when I have reason to be."
"Comments like that will not get you shagged."
"Just got that, even Padfoot needs a bit of recovery time."
"Love, itís been much too long if you canít tell the difference between shagging and being sucked off," Remus retorted.
Sirius only arched an eyebrow in response.
Remus let his head thump down onto Siriusí shoulder. "Iím not going to win, am I?"
Sirius shrugged and tightened his arms around Remus.
"I never thought Iíd be so happy to have you driving me mad," Remus whispered, turning his head to press a kiss to Siriusí skin.
"Donít mean to do it on purpose, love," Sirius sighed.
"Well, donít get too used to it. Iím sure Iíll get over it and be back to smacking you when you need it very soon." Remus nestled closer, simply reveling in lying there with Sirius, the sun warming them.
Sirius ran a hand over Remusí back and took a deep breath, relaxing. "Have to keep me in line, donít you?í
"Iíve decided to dedicate my life to it, just to keep the world safe, you understand."
"Mmm, donít want me to scare all the Dementors, do we?"
Remusí laugh came out sharper than he intended, almost a sob. "Iíd like to send them all straight to hell."
Sirius hugged him tighter and pressed a kiss to the top of his head. "Be glad to help you there, love."
"Why does it always seem to be you comforting me, even when it should be the other way around?"
"Because you seem to need it more than I do."
"Or because you pretend not to need it," Remus replied gently. "You donít have to pretend with me, Sirius. I love you, and Iíll still love you even if you actually show how youíre feeling."
Sirius shook his head, feeling his mouth brush against Remusí hair. "I canít, love. I feel like if I let it out, Iíll break and that will the end of it for me."
Remus tightened his arms around Sirius. "Iím here to pick up the pieces, Sirius. Just donít shut me out again. I donít ever want to lose you again."
"Itís bloody hard, Moony," Sirius said after a long silence.
"I know, but last time we started keeping secrets, we lost ourselves, our friends died, you went to prison, and I hated myself every day for a dozen years. I think talking is the lesser of the evils, Padfoot."
Sirius nodded. "You always were the smarter one."
"At least you recognize it," Remus teased, trying to lighten the mood. "I knew you could learn."
"It takes some time, but apparently I can."
"Splendid. I think Iíll keep you."
"Glad to hear it."
"Does this mean I should get you a collar and leash?" Remus snickered.
"Youíre making me wish for Azkaban."
"You want me to chain you up before I have my way with you?" Remus retorted, refusing to let them sink back into melancholy.
"Perhaps we should go back to the cottage first? My old bones arenít up for being chained here to the ground."
Remus snorted. "Old my arse! But Iíd hate to startle some unsuspecting nature lover out for a walk, so back to the cottage it is. Iím looking forward to curling up in bed with you." He smiled as he sat up. "Padfoot always was the best foot warmer."
"Ahh, now I find out why you want me here: to keep away the cold, damp weather," Sirius chuckled as he sat up as well. "Weíd best clean up and get back then."
Remus spoke the spell to clean them before leaning in to steal another kiss. "And since weíve just eaten, we can play for hours," he said, pushing to his feet and stretching luxuriantly.
"And nap in between."
"Mmm, napping together in front of a fire. Heaven!" Remus decided happily, setting his clothing to rights, suddenly eager to get back to the cottage.
Sirius helped gather the remains of their lunch up and put them in the basket after dressing, then kissed Remus again and shifted forms, lapping at Remusí hand as he sat at his side.
"Youíre just trying to get out of carrying anything," Remus laughed, spelling the basket to float along behind them. "Should I throw a stick for you to fetch then?"
Padfoot barked and rolled his eyes, bumping against Remusí legs as he walked.
"Iíll take that as a no. Just as well. Getting burrs out of your fur is not something Iím in a hurry to experience again."
A sneeze greeted that remark.
"Fine, next time you can get them out yourself," Remus warned, trying not to laugh.
Padfoot growled and darted in front of Remus, trying to trip him.
Remus cursed mildly as he staggered, barely managing to keep his feet. "It would serve you ruddy well right if I stepped on your bloody great paws!"
Padfoot gave a pitiful whine and darted ahead, leading Remus back to the cottage.
Rolling his eyes, Remus muttered, "Youíd think Iíd be immune to that pathetic little whimper after all these years."
All that comment got him was a soulful look over his shoulder as Padfoot sat on the flagstones outside the door.
"Iím a pushover," Remus sighed, opening the door and following Padfoot inside, the basket trailing along behind him.
Sirius changed back and grinned. "Thatís not a problem as far as I see."
"No, you wouldnít think so, would you." Remus shook his head, moving forward into Siriusí arms.
"Not as long as itís me youíre getting pushed toward."
"True, thatís not something to complain about. In fact I rather enjoy it."
"Youíre not the only one." Sirius murmured, resting his cheek against Remusí temple.
"Itís a good thing weíre alone," Remus half laughed. "Can you imagine the comments about sappiness from someone like Ron Weasley?"
"Heís terrified of me, so he wouldnít say a thing."
"Which is something weíre going to have to deal with eventually. He is Harryís best mate after all. Itíll make holiday gatherings awkward if he shakes in a corner whenever we get together."
Sirius chuckled. "Awkward but amusing."
"Sirius! We donít need Molly trying to hex you to protect her son," Remus exclaimed, though he was smiling as well.
"True, she never did like me,and I doubt a dozen years have helped that at all."
"Sirius, none of the girls who werenít trying to get into your pants liked you."
"Lily liked me!"
"She tolerated you at first because it drove James wild when she wouldnít give him the time of day. And then it was more like a brother-sister thing. I donít think Molly considers you her brother."
Sirius nodded. "Molly would be glad to see me back in Azkaban."
"I donít think she dislikes you quite that much," Remus replied judiciously. "But she does think you a bad influence on Harry and the others and would like to keep you away from them. I donít think sheís particularly fond of me either if it makes you feel any better."
"Remus, youíre a prince, Molly loves you."
"As long as you love me, thatís all that matters."
"Well, was there any doubt of that?"
"You mean aside from you trying to run off without me?" Remus replied, eyebrows rising. "Not really," he admitted, relenting, too happy that they were together again to tease.
Sirius rolled his eyes and hugged Remus to him. "Not going to do that again."
"Good! I didnít really like that idea." Remus widened his eyes. "Merlin, weíve proved you can be trained, Padfoot!"
"Sod off, Moony," Sirius grumbled.
Remus snickered. "Youíd miss me."
Sirius sighed. "I hate it when youíre smug."
"No, you donít. You love me."
"Not when youíre smug!"
"Yes, you do. You just hate to admit it. But thatís all right because I know."
Sirius grumbled in response.
Chuckling, Remus stopped halfway up the stairs and pulled Sirius into his arms, kissing him soundly. "And I love you too, you bloody great git."
"Of course you do, youíre the smart one."
Remus rolled his eyes. "How had I managed to forget your so-called sense of humor?"
"No idea, it must be old age."
"Oh, very funny you are. Not." Remus aimed a cuff at the back of Siriusí head, intentionally missing. "Just for that, you can do the housecleaning," he added smugly.
"Ha! Youíre the domesticated one, not me."
"Which is exactly why you need to learn."
Sirius snorted. "Trying to make a housewife out of me?"
"Well, since that would mean Iíd have to marry you, I think I could live with it."
"Ooo, a proposal after all these years!" Sirius attempted a swoon.
"Prat. I should trade you in for a good house elf," Remus grumbled, laughter sparkling in his amber eyes.
"Thatís bloody disgusting, Moony - having perversions for house elves? I should scrub you down with lye soap!"
"For the cleaning, you arse!" Remus shook his head. "Leave it to you, Sirius. Though come to think of it, having you wash me doesnít sound bad."
"With lye soap?" Siriusí eyes grew round, and he looked shocked.
"No! Would you forget the bloody lye soap," Remus exclaimed, exasperated. "I donít like house elves or pain or whatever other weirdness your bizarre mind can dream up. I just like you."
"Ahhh, well then..." Sirius grinned and hugged Remus to him. "Thatís fine then."
"You are a bleeding idiot at times," Remus sighed, shaking his head fondly. "Then again, I love you, so it doesnít say much for me either."
Sirius chuckled. "At least I know enough not to answer that, love."
"Good lad," Remus replied, grinning as he continued up the stairs. In an abrupt change of subject, he asked something that had been bothering him. "What are you planning to do when the new school term starts?"
"No idea. You?"
"Well, I wonít be teaching," Remus said, a hint of bitterness surfacing in his tone. "I suppose Iíll just follow you around till we find something better to do."
Sirius sighed and hugged Remus again. "I wish I could fix that for you, love, but aside from strangling Snape in his sleep, I canít think how to do it."
Remus laughed wryly. "I donít think that would really help. But just having you back helps. Itís more than I ever thought Iíd have."
"Honestly, I feel the same." Sirius gave a wan smile.
"Arenít we a pair?" Remus sighed. "Honestly though, I feel as if part of me has been missing or asleep for a dozen years, but Iím whole again, thanks to you. I just wish we didnít have to hide away. I could kill Peter," he snarled.
Siriusí expression turned grave, and he looked down into Remusí eyes as he spoke. "One day we willófor James, for Lily, for Harry, and for us."
"Soon, I hope," Remus replied fervently. "I hate it that he has his life while youíre forced to skulk about because of his crimes."
"Itís not much of a life thoughóhis, I meanó"Sirius amended. "Toadying to You-Know-Who day and night. I prefer being a house elf to you."
"Itís still more than he deserves," Remus snarled. "He will pay for what heís done. Iíd just like to get hold of him during a full moon," he added with a feral, teeth-baring smile.
"Iíd rather feed him to Hermioneís cat."
"Iíd hate to give the cat food-poisoning," Remus sighed, slowly relaxing in Siriusí embrace.
"True, Crookshanks brought me some of my best meals last year."
Remus made a soft sound of distress and hugged Sirius close. "Iím sorry I ever doubted you."
"Itís the past, Remus," Sirius murmured. "We have to let it go, or there wonít be a futureówell, parts of it anyway."
"Iíll just remember when you seduced me then," Remus replied, smiling shakily. "And when we got our flat together, and that Christmas Eve when we watched Harry and he spit up on you," he chuckled.
"Mmm, and shagging under the stands at the quidditch field."
"How could I forget that?" Remus laughed. "I still canít believe we did that!"
"And why is that?"
"Anyone could have seen us!"
Sirius chuckled. "It didnít seem to bother you at the time."
"At the time I doubt Iíd have minded or even noticed if someone stepped on us!"
"You always were a single-minded git."
"I donít recall you complaining at the time." Remus smirked at Sirius. "In fact, I rather think you enjoyed it."
"Did I say otherwise?"
Laughing, Remus hugged him. "Good thing. So why donít we go take a nap so we can do it again later?"
Sirius grinned devilishly. "Thatís a capital idea, my dear Moony, a capital idea."
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