The pain was fading, even before he opened his eyes. He had to squint against the brightness that radiated out all around him, and by the time he could see the forms of shadows, the pain had muted to a vague memory.
Before he can make anything out of the confusing brightness and undulating dark forms, he hears a gasp, soft and feminine. “Remus,” comes a voice, so familiar and long lost it crushes his chest. The tone was an agony of emotion, joy and sorrow wound close.
“Lily?” he tried to say, but it was less than a croak. He smiled though as her slender hand cupped his cheek.
“I hoped we wouldn’t see you for a while longer, but... let me find them. There’s water beside you.” The thing he was lying on rolled slightly as she stood – a bed, it must be – and soft, swift padding of socked feet on stone.
Gradually the world focused. It was the Gryffindor dormitory, with bright summer light spilling in through the mullioned windows. Three four-poster beds stood in the round room. The fourth, the one Peter should have had, was gone. The other two were a mass of rumpled bedding, detritus of clothes and sweet rappers all across the covers and floor.
His heart leapt in his chest, and suddenly he felt... young again.
He grabbed the glass next to the bedside and took a long drink – it was so good. Cool and sliding over his tongue and into his belly. It was almost as he remembered Gryffindor tower to be, but for Peter’s bed. Why was it gone? And why was he here? What he last remembered was... a battle like no other. Hogwarts was over run with Death Eaters, students were fighting for their lives against Dark Arts too advanced for them to even comprehend, against creatures he’d not even mentioned during his classes... and then... then...
“MOONY!” Two boys belted into the round room and tackled him, bearing him down onto the bed with a grunt. “You came! You’re here!”
Even if he couldn’t believe his eyes, his nose told him the truth. “James,” he whispered. “Sirius.”
“Who else!” James groused, tousling his hair roughly with elation. He looked no older than sixteen. So much like Harry had been at that age –
“Idiot!” Snarled Sirius who glared down above him. “It’s far, far too soon for you to be here!”
“Yeah, we thought you’d be ages coming,” James said, stopping his hands and sounding wounded. “But it doesn’t matter. Look, Remus... Moony. I’m... we’re so sorry. We were so stupid for thinking that you’d... that you were the one we couldn’t trust. But you’re here! It means you’ve got to forgive us, doesn’t it?”
Uncertainty was not something he was use to seeing in James. Remus smiled and sat up again, smoothing his messed hair with a half-forgotten movement. “Prongs, it’s all right.” He looked between Sirius – who was, too, young and un-damaged by Azkaban – and James. “So... this is what there is... after?”
Two sets of dark eyes met in a glance full of silent words. After a moment, James slid off the bed. “I’m going to go back to Godric’s Hollow. Help Lily with lunch. It’ll be ready in half an hour, don’t miss it!”
“Later, James,” Sirius murmured.
James grinned and jogged off down the spiral staircase. Remus was frowning. “Isn’t this Hogwarts?” he asked, softly.
“Parts of it,” Sirius replied. “It can be all of it, if you want it to be. Every place you like is close by. You can even get places you don’t like much, or have never been to, if you think about it hard enough.” The was a silence as Remus tried to understand it. Sirius pushed fingers through the dark mass of hair.
“Padfoot,” the werewolf whispered, the words a confession. “I had a son.” He felt Sirius’ surprise, and pushed on. “With your cousin, Nymphadora.”
“You do like how the Blacks breed ‘em, don’t you,” Sirius chuckled.
Remus shot him a glare. “She was in battle with me. Can we look for her?” That stopped Sirius laughing. “Please? I don’t think we can... I don’t want to hurt her.”
“We don’t have to look. You just have to want to see her. If she’s here, she’ll feel it.” He shrugged then got to his feet. “And if your worried about... well, being faithful...” The handsome boy cast his gaze down, took a breath, and said, “It’s not the same here as it was there. You get all you want. I can be playing quiddich with James in autumn and at the same time be kissing Lily by the Lake in the spring. There is no jealousy. There’s just joy.”
Remus stared at him. “You kissed Lily?” was all he could manage to say.
Sirius’ laugh was like velvet. “I might have done, but it didn’t stop her loving James, you see?”
“I... I don’t understand.”
The dark haired boy offered his hand and a smile so familiar and filled with wicked excitement it sent a thrill through Remus’ body. “Come on. Let me show you.”