Sirius looks down. Water puddles at his feet, gliding down the sides of black lined boots. He feels strangely naked when his skin is damp, like maybe if his body's too slippery his soul will slide out. Moony likes the rain. He likes Sirius, too, but he thinks the thing about slippery souls is stupid.
"Do you think you'll ever stop loving me?"
This isn't a question that Sirius has asked before, but Remus seems unsurprised, and the momentum of a small shrug pushes him down off the stone wall so that he's standing with his foot in the puddle by Sirius's boots. "Of course not," he says. "Love is forever, didn't you know?"
"Forever is a really long time."
"Right. Seems longer without love though." He kicks at the ground, and Sirius doesn't notice the water splash onto his arm.
Lily and James have a January wedding because Lily doesn't like rain either. She'd rather it snow, she says.
"Are you sure you don't want my coat too, Moony?"
"N-no." His teeth click together twice, and then he sticks out his tongue to catch a snowflake as if demonstrating his acceptance of the weather. "What's a little cold in the face of true love?"
Sirius looks over to where Lily and James are dancing; James is still an awful dancer, husband or not. "Do you think we'll ever get married?"
"To whom?" Remus grins and ducks the proceeding blow.
"We're too young to get married anyway," Sirius concedes, not waiting for a real answer. "They're too young."
"But they're in love. It's a vow, not a chain."
Sirius feels a hand slide into his back pocket.
How can you suspect him?
"It's only a precaution, Sirius. You and Remus are just so... close. Peter doesn't have anyone like that."
"It's because he's a werewolf."
You said that you'd love him forever.
"It's because I'm protecting my family. Just wait it out. We won't be in hiding forever."
Sirius looks up. He laughs.
His emotion-constricted chest explodes like a fountain, flooding his body with hysteria, spewing painful laughs that burn his throat. He wishes the fountain were real so that he could wash the blood off of his clothes. He's no good with cleansing spells. Moony does the laundry.
An Auror regards him with an expression of complete disgust. "How could you be so cold?" he asks as the shackles bind themselves.
Sirius closes his eyes. "What's a little cold in the face of true love?"
There are only bad things.
And only rain.
Forever seems longer without love.
When it finally appears again, Moony's face looks a lot different than Sirius remembers it. There are more scars, less warmth.
When did he grow up?
The wolf looks the same, though. Or maybe his coat's a little thicker, as if he's found shelter from the cold. Remembering the edge in Remus's eyes now, Sirius wonders if perhaps the man has grown thicker skin now, too.
When Sirius has to leave, he almost tells Harry-not-James to take care of Moony for him. But then he remembers that Moony always took care of him.
Instead, he promises that he won't be gone forever.
It's just stopped raining when a big black dog appears at the cottage.
When Remus steps onto the porch, he drops a teacup. It shatters as they stare at each other for a moment.
"If I'd known you were coming I'd have set out the dog dish," Remus finally says. "Well, are you coming in? Your fur's all wet."
Behind the safety of closed doors, Sirius transforms. "I can't stay long." His voice still sounds raspy and pained from dormancy.
Remus nods, pouring two more cups of tea. Into one he scoops exactly one and one half lumps of sugar, and hands it to Sirius. "I thought as much. They've questioned me once, but I expect they'll be back."
"I had a time getting Dumbledore to tell me where you were."
"You obviously had more luck than when I told him not to. You're not safe here."
"I told you I won't stay long."
They stare again, as if a decade's worth of unsaid things can suddenly pass between their eyes.
"I'm sorry," Sirius says, dropping his eyes.
"Gods, Padfoot, whatever for?" Remus's voice nearly breaks at this, as he sets down his teacup and cross the short distance between them.
Sirius feels arms wrap around him. "Do you think you could love me again?"
Remus looks down, disbelief evident on his face. "Sirius... whatever makes you think I stopped?"
A protest lingers on the edge of Sirius's lips but is melted by a kiss, a kiss that tells him all that Remus cannot say. "But it's been so long," he whispers when they break apart.
"It's only time, Sirius. I promised, remember? We can't pass the time without love."
"You made a vow." Sirius traces a familiar scar across the length of Remus's shoulders. "Do you think we should get married someday?"
Remus chuckles. "A bit soon for that, don't you think?"
"You're right. We're much too young to get married."
Remus strokes Sirius's hair, long fingers threading through it. "Maybe when this is all over. Then you'll never have to leave again."
"When it's over."
Sirius feels lips on his cheek, the wet mark they leave behind on his skin, and hopes that the dampness can stay with him when he has to fly away. "After all," he adds, his eyes like a faded photograph, "The war can't last forever."