‘I remember a time when my life had sanity in it, you know,’ Lily said with an air of tragedy.
Remus laughed. ‘You do? Then you ought to count yourself lucky. The question is: why did you give that up?’
Lily jerked her head in the direction of a table in the centre of the pub. ‘Because I appear to have got rather attached to a certain berk over there.’
James and Sirius were conducting an intricate Irish jig, presumably to the music of their minds, whilst swinging their ties above their heads.
‘If only Dumbledore could see his Head Boy now,’ Remus murmured with a smirk.
‘Indeed.’ Lily had never been very good at keeping a straight face, and a smile twitched at her mouth now.
Peter wandered past, clutching three foaming pints of Hogsmeade’s finest ale. ‘Oi! You two! Stop gossiping in the corner and get over here!’
Remus suddenly developed a wicked glint, and turned to Lily. ‘Care for a dance?’
‘Lupin!’ Lily gasped in overblown shock. ‘Yeah, go on then.’ After a sneaky grin, Lily extended her hand, all coy eye flutters. ‘You charmer.’
Expertly, Remus took her hand and began to waltz her slowly into the middle of the room. He leaned in close to whisper ‘One… two… three!’
‘Get your hands off my woman right now, Remus Lupin!’ James bellowed right on cue, frozen on the table top with his leg still in mid-air.
‘Sorry, James!’ Lily called out. ‘I’m leaving you for Remus, he’s a much better dancer.’
‘Right, that’s it.’ James leapt off the table and grabbed Lily’s arms before launching into the most vigorous tango Remus had seen in quite some time, and he knew that in a minute they’d be snogging in a corner, depraved beings.
Peter grinned and held up his camera. ‘Got his face just when it was that lovely burgundy colour. Classic stuff!’
Sirius quickly downed James’ abandoned pint then jumped down from the table much more gracefully. ‘Why, Moony! You never told me you could dance like that.’
Remus winked. ‘I have many a hidden ability.’
‘That so?’ Sirius raised a very suggestive eyebrow, and Remus blushed.
‘Oh God!’ Peter yelped. ‘Never talk like that when I’m in earshot, ever again.’
‘Steady on,’ Sirius said easily, ‘don’t get your robes in a twist, Wormtail, we shall desist.’ He made an elaborate bow. ‘For now…’ he muttered in Remus’ direction.
For this is how things went these days, as they steered ever further into uncharted territory, despite all of their cartography. James and Lily had become JamesandLily approximately four months, two weeks and six days ago (ever since James’ Cloak had slipped from their shoulders in the common room). Peter had been disgruntled about this for four months, two weeks and five days, though now he accepted James’ separation from them all with relative good grace.
It was three months, three weeks and two days since Sirius had suggested that since he and Remus were both quite clearly very repressed, very gay and very attracted to each other, they ought to have a go at unrepressing themselves sometime, just to see what happened. It was three months, two weeks and six days since Remus had stopped being flabbergasted by this, and started seeing what happened.
They’d been ‘seeing what happened’ ever since, and Sirius’ conclusion was that what happened was very good indeed, and Remus was very much inclined to agree.
‘Moony? You alright there?’
Remus blinked – James had returned. ‘Yeah, sorry – miles away!’
‘So I can see.’ James gave Remus a puzzled and affectionate look, then went off to rescue Lily, who was being fawned over in the far corner by a group of Sixth Years who seemed to consider her and James to be some sort of demi-gods.
Sirius was leaning against a wall, glass in hand, the picture of teenage rebellion with his biking jacket. Remus snuck up behind him, and moved to whisper into his ear. ‘C’mon, let’s go outside for a while.’
James and Lily, theirs was a love of dinner tables and mountaintops, to be shown through outer signs and told as a grand story to doubtful children when they ask what love is. But Remus knew of a different kind of love, one that lives in the roots of things. What he and Sirius had was not something of showy declaration, because it sprung up when no one really noticed, and neither of them knew so much as they felt.
So Remus drew Sirius away from this racket of excess to the outside, where the cold made dreams more fragile and more beautiful, with air so clear that Remus could breathe Sirius straight into his lungs.
There was still doubt in Sirius’ eyes, and Remus knew no other way of reassurance than through connection of skin, to tell him that he was the source of all his joy. Fingertips brushed against cheekbones and Remus whispered words, guttural words that only Sirius could bring out of him, and Sirius shuddered against him in a way that was so natural and so strange.
Sirius smiled, and suddenly it was night-time no longer, but shining, glorious day, and with a sigh, Remus dissolved away into this new world.