They opened Severus' cartons together in the den, although it was Remus who was making all the noise as he tore off the Spell-o-tapes and peered through the contents of his lover's things.
"You have a lot of books," he mentioned, smiling at the things he found inside.
Severus was not looking at him. "What of it?"
"Nothing, really." Remus went through the stack, glancing at titles. "I find it adorable—"
"—that you have more books than you do clothes," he finished before something colourful caught his eye. "Oh, what are these?" He picked up a thick packet of paper, held together by a thick string.
Severus stopped flicking his wand at the mess Remus was making and glanced at his direction. "What are those?"
Remus looked up, grinning. "Look, Severus, photos of you! In nappies!"
"Give me those!" Severus bellowed, lunging to his direction.
With a laugh, Remus managed to catch him, fingers wrapping around the wrist that held the arm and pulling his lover into his chest. They fell on the couch in a tangled heap. The held photos scattered around them, falling on the ground, on the coffee table, on the boxes of books and clothes. "I'm glad," Remus said with his lips against Severus' ear, "that you brought these photos."
"They belonged to my family," Severus replied stiffly although he closed his eyes when Remus moved to nibble his neck. "They're not important. I shouldn't have brought them."
Remus frowned against Severus' hair, trying to interpret what his lover just said. "Of course they're important," he scoffed. "They're your memories."
"I have a lot of things I would rather forget," Severus said.
They fell silent, and Remus thought it was very unfair for Severus to say that because he had no argument for such logic. They had just survived two wars, life was still beginning for them, and they were both so new to this relationship that there were still barriers that needed to be brought down. Sometimes, their relationship felt so fragile that Remus thought it might be better to just hold Severus in his arms.
Right now, though, he said, "Photos are just memories, aren't they? Even though they smile and wave, they're just the past. They can't hurt anyone, not anymore."
Severus lay motionless with his head on Remus' chest, fingers unintentionally clutching Remus' shirt. "Right." His breath as he exhaled tickled Remus' neck. "Right."
It took them a month to put everything in the right place. Remus was normally scrupulous when it came to cleanliness but there was a heady delight in finally having Severus living in his house, not to mention the relief whenever he saw his lover anywhere in the house—whether it was in the loft with his potions or in the bathroom taking a piss. Sometimes, Remus felt he was too drunk on the feeling of being happy and scared at the same time, because it could all turn sour anytime.
And he had thoughts like:
What if the war had damaged them too much? What if Severus didn't like him after all? What if all they could have together was the past?
Still, all he could do was to get pieces of their existence fit each other, trying to let Severus' life blend in with his—potion fumes mingling with the scent of cooking, his books on the shame shelves, his photographs hanging on the walls, his clothes in the hamper. Putting little signs of Severus in the house made Remus think he might be thinking of possessing him. It was irrational and stupid, but it made Remus feel Severus would actually stay.