Not to discriminate every moment some passionate attitude in those about us, and in the very brilliancy of their gifts some tragic dividing on their ways, is, on this short day of frost and sun, to sleep before evening.
- Walter Pater, Conclusion to Renaissance
Bran dreams of a shower of white sparks - or white blossoms - it's hard to tell what they are. In the dream, a man with wild white hair and long fingers tosses something bright and small up into the air. Bran always wakes before he sees what the bright thing has exploded into; he knows it's something important, but he can never stay in the dream long enough to understand.
He thinks he sees that man every once and a while, like a shadow disappearing around a corner. He longs to call out, but he does not know the man's name. It seems as though he should, if only he could remember.
Bran lives with Will, and has for the past five years, since his Da passed on and left the farm to Bran. Will couldn't decide what to go to school for and so a summer with Bran turned into few years and by now all the other Stantons are convinced Will is going to become a farmer, surrounded by Sheepdogs and sheep, chicks, cows. Bran isn't convinced of anything; he'd have thought five years living with Will would have given him some clue, but he has found there seems to be even less he understands about Will.
He spends his days with Will in the house that they share, and his nights trying to chase down this dream. But sometimes Will is not there. No one else seems to notice, but Bran notices that Will is gone for stretches of time longer than it makes sense for him to be gone, and he returns looking tired and confused, his eyes moving over the yard, the house, the rooms as if for a clue. Bran ignores these times because he knows it is what Will would have him do.
Bran asked Will, once, about the man in his dreams, tossing the ball of light into the air. He noticed a similar kind of light in Will's eyes.
"Preserve those dreams," Will had said, clasping Bran's shoulder. "They are powerful. Dream them often."
But Bran could not find a way to explain that he did not like the dreams, because he could not see beyond them, and he knew, somehow, that there was more beyond them to see.
Remus' feet crunch on the snow. It's icy enough for him to have to pay attention, but not enough for him to lose his balance. The sky is bright blue and cloudless, and the snow sparkles. Remus loves these days after the storm, when everything seems to clear up like it had never been in question. He can see the road glistening with snow in front of him. His are the only footprints.
He's looking for Will Stanton. For advice. The Order is searching out old friendships. Remus isn't sure that the two meetings he's had with Will Stanton over twenty years make them friends, but he doesn't have many friends left. It can't hurt to gather them near.
Will's address is a place called the Davies Farm in Wales. Remus came from Hogsmeade in a complicated route of Floo and Apparation. He arrived in the town center, asked for directions, and found himself here. The road led up to acres of farmland, and he thought if he squinted, he could see a cabin. Remus has never been here before, but it feels familiar, old.
Remus suddenly remembers a snowball fight with Sirius – he can't remember what they were doing or why they were outside, but he remembers the stinging snow hitting the back of his neck, melting down his shirt. He thinks that he has spent more of his life without Sirius than he ever did with Sirius. He shoves his hands into his pockets and walks up the hill. It's late in the afternoon when he reaches the house, the sun just starting to fade.
There is a man standing on the porch as Remus starts up the path and he is sure it is not Will.
"Is this the Davies' farm?" Remus asks.
"Yes," the man answers. "What business do you have?" The man sounds kind but guarded. Remus can't get a sense of how to proceed, and he feels something prickle at the back of his neck. He isn't sure if it is suspicion or a warning, but he can't ignore it, and so he decides to try a direct approach.
"I'm looking for one of the Old Ones," Remus says.
The man is quiet for a moment. "Will's not home. Why don't you come up for tea."
Will is gone again; he walked to the market yesterday afternoon and it's noontime the next day and Will is nowhere to be seen. Bran expects him soon - hopes at least - and he's practicing pretending that a whole day has not passed. Will probably won't even bring home any bread or cream, which he had gone to town for in the first place.
Bran thinks the footfalls he hears outside might be Will, but as soon as he opens the door, he can see from the set of his shoulders that the man coming up the path is a stranger.
He's become used to strangers since he has known Will: odd people who he would never imagine showing up and coming into his life.
Bran suddenly knows Will isn't going to return today. He feels it like a change in the weather. He might as well see if he can help the man instead of telling him to come back tomorrow.
Bran stands at the door and lets the man come into the house. A few bits of snow blow in and across the floor as Bran closes the door.
The man sheds his coat and Bran gets a good look at him: handsome but worn, a young face but graying and wrinkled. Bran feels power in him – definitely a visitor for Will. Oh, well, perhaps they can both wait Will out together.
"My name's Remus Lupin, by the way," the man says, extending his hand.
"Bran Davies," Bran answers and they shake. Bran watches as the man suddenly goes pale. "You look frigid," Bran says, to cover. "Let me make some tea."
"Thank you, I'd like that," Remus says quietly, as he takes a seat at Bran's table.
Bran ponders the man's reaction as he fills the kettle. Others have given him that same look. He has never figured out what it means, or why they all seem so surprised when they meet him.
Remus cannot believe Dumbledore even sent him out on this mission, if his mind is failing him so much. He should have known the moment he set eyes on the man who this was: the white hair, the amber eyes, the pale skin.
The Pendragon. Remus realizes what he felt was not suspicion or a warning, but simply this man's presence.
"I'm sorry, we haven't any cream," Bran apologizes. "Will went out to get it."
"You expect him back soon?" Remus feels like he is treading very delicate ground. He has all the time Bran's back is turned making tea to figure out how to handle the situation. "I don't meant to bother. I can always come back tomorrow."
"No, I had hoped Will would be home tonight. He went out yesterday."
"To the market? Does it take that long to get to town?"
"It's complicated," Bran says with a frown.
"So it seems," Remus murmurs. So this was his farm. And Will was not at home
Oh, Remus thinks. Oh.
It makes perfect sense that they would be living together. Remus, after all, should understand that particular fellowship. Once, he knew it better than anything else.
But why hadn't Dumbledore told him? Unless Dumbledore didn't know? Remus suddenly remembers something of the story, its myth-like end – hadn't Bran lost his memory of magic, of it all?
"Who are you?" Bran asks.
"I'm looking for Will," Remus says, looking down at this hands. "I can't really say more than that."
"No one can." Bran's tone is plainly frustrated. "All sorts of strangers come here and no one can say who they are and what if some of them are dangerous? Why does everyone want to see Will? I let them talk and I don't ask questions and –"
Remus knows, then, that he was right. Bran doesn't remember, although he seems to know a lot more than he should.
"Listen, Bran, I'll go. I'll find another way to get in touch with Will and I won't bother you. I'm very sorry."
"Wait, Remus." Bran comes over to the table and stands next to Remus' chair. "I'm sorry. At least you gave me your name. Most don't do that. And you seem friendly. I am just worried, Will's been gone since yesterday and he said – well, here, let me give you some tea." The kettle is whistling and Bran fetches it and brings it to the table, filling the pot with water. Remus listens to the water splashing into the teapot, and watches the rising steam briefly frame Bran's face.
"If you don't think Will should be back today, I won't keep you."
"I don't know when he'll be back. But it's a long walk back to the village. And you don't even have a bag. We have the room. Why don't you stay?"
"Thank you, Bran. You're very kind."
Remus watches Bran set the top on the teapot, hang the kettle back over by the fire, and say, "So, who are you?" Bran's smile is wide, mischievous, true. Remus can't help but smile back.
Remus realizes Bran isn't letting this go, and rightly so. Remus has been invited to stay – but in return, he has to give something to Bran.
"I'm a wizard," Remus says, and lets the words hang in the air.
"Well, that makes sense," Bran says after a moment. "I've met a few before. Lots of people come by looking for Will."
"And you don't know why?"
"I've found it's easier not to ask Will."
Remus finds that hard to argue with. "So how can you tell...."
"I can feel your magic." Bran says instantly.
"You can?" Remus says, staring openly at Bran.
Bran holds up his hand and slowly, so as not to startle Remus, and moves it to hover just over Remus' chest.
Suddenly the air around them seems thick, his hair feels static, the space between he and Bran seems to glow – Remus feels his breath shorten, his heart beat pick up, his mouth go dry.
Bran pulls his hand away gently and smiles.
"Well," Remus says, finding his voice again. "That's never happened."
Bran already likes this stranger better than anyone else who has visited. There is something different in Remus, some similarities with himself that he sees but can't explain. He studies Remus, searching for the answer.
"So, why are you looking for Will?"
"We're fighting a war. Our enemy – "
"The Dark?" Bran interrupts. Remus stops, and gives Bran a blank look.
Bran is as surprised as Remus is. "I don't know why I said that," Bran says a moment after.
"The Dark was defeated some time ago," Remus says carefully, and Bran watches his hands, his fingers curling elegantly around the teacup.
The guest bedroom is cozy and welcoming, but Remus can't sleep. It's not simply the house or Bran on his mind – sometimes it's easier not to sleep. Not to lie there in the dark and wish. Remus always feels weary and rarely feels tired, and so it's easy to shut his eyes for an hour without really sleeping, wait until he knows Bran is asleep, and get up and sit in front of the fire.
Remus pulls a book onto his lap in the armchair and takes out his quill and a few pieces of parchment. First, a letter to Harry, as he'd promised.
I'm traveling on business. Nothing but masses of paperwork, let me assure you. I haven't gone hiking in green mountains or seen any gorgeously frost-covered farmland. Certainly, I haven't eaten anything remotely delectable as fresh gooseberry cream – see if you can have the house elves make some of it for you on one of your late-night kitchen raids. Oh, of course I know you go down there all the time. Really, Harry, your father invented the late-night kitchen raid.
Best to Ron and Hermione.
There is much more he wants to say to Harry, but this will have to do for now. All they've covered in their letters is this – basics, a little joking, some encouragement: a reminder that Harry isn't absent of adult figures who don't want to control his life.
Now, the letter to Dumbledore is going to require some fancy footwork.
Your cousin Oswald wasn't at home when I arrived in Oxbridge. A kindly neighbor by the name of Arthur – do you know him? – took me in while we waited for Oswald to return, which Arthur insists will be anytime now.
Give my regards to your lion.
He finishes his letters and it is still hours from daybreak. He thinks he might try to sleep, but first –
Well. I've exhausted the letters I had to write, and I can't sleep. So rather than burden my host with my talking aloud, I thought I'd write. Because I know you can hear me so well from either way. I wonder if I sent this if it would reach you. Had we decided if parchment can travel into the Great Beyond? Or if I could train an owl to fly near the Veil and drop a message in without actually going in itself? See, Sirius, this is what happens when I don't sleep. I'm coming up with Arithmancy equations of owl flight and projectile objects and I just miss you so much...
Remus hears Bran's bedroom door open, and he quietly folds away the parchment.
Bran blinks at the firelight and rubs his eyes, and he's clearly headed for the kitchen when he sees Remus. He turns slowly, then smiles and comes over, pausing before sitting in the other armchair by the hearth.
"Do you mind if I join you?" Bran asks. There's a little bit of, "What are you still doing up?" in his tone but he does not ask.
"No, I don't mind at all," Remus says, and he hears in his voice the perfect blend of warmth and invitation. Bran takes a seat, folds his hands into the sleeves of his shirt, and stretches the tiniest bit. He looks like he's trying to be less awake than he is. His eyes are bright and sharp and Remus can tell how alert he really is.
"I didn't wake you, did I?" Remus asks. He knows the answer will be no – Bran was surprised to see Remus there and so clearly it was something else, but Remus is starting to feel like he has some responsibility, especially since he's awake in his host's house in the middle of the night.
"No, you didn't wake me," Bran laughs a little, and Remus again gets the uncanny sense that Bran knows so much more than he lets on. Bran's eyes dart to the parchment that Remus has folded on the table, to the ink on Remus' hands, to Remus' eyes – Bran's reading him, and Remus smiles quietly, saying without speaking that he had a few letters to write, and well, he doesn't sleep much anyway, and Bran understands. He sits back into the chair, comfortable – it's a familiar spot for him. He stares into the fire and Remus waits for him to speak next, holding back the urge to fill the quiet with chatter.
"It was a dream that woke me, actually," Bran says, and Remus nods for him to continue. Gentle, this is very delicate, made more intimate by the hour. Bran sits forward, holding his hands together in front of him, his elbows on his knees. "It's a dream I've been having a lot lately."
Remus does not say anything, only nods for Bran to go on.
"I dream that I'm holding something – something crystal – it's cold and heavy in my hand. In the other hand, I have a sword. It's my sword, if you know what I mean. I don't have a sword, of course, but in the dream, I know this belongs to me. And Will's with me, and there are other people – familiar people – we're protecting something."
Bran shakes his head as if clearing away the dream. "It doesn't make any sense."
Remus does not say, "It's just a dream," because he suspects that it's not, really, a dream at all.
"Why does it wake you?" Remus asks. "Does something happen?"
"There's – thunder in the air. And riders on horses. And they're coming for us, and there's something I have to do, but – " he starts again. "Something explodes – something that's white and - it's like a flower bursting into bloom. And I know that it's then that I have to act – and that's when I usually wake up. I can't remember what it is I'm supposed to do, or what happens. I feel like – "
"If you could just stay in the dream, you'd figure it out?" Remus asks.
Bran smiles. Remus understands.
"I used to have this recurring dream that I was chasing someone though the woods. Running and running, and I could see them just ahead of me, always out of reach. And when I'd finally catch up, they'd - " Remus paused. How to explain Sirius turning into Voldemort, or a Death Eater, or the wolf that bit him when he was a boy – "they'd turn into something else, something that wasn't them. I'd got it wrong. I'd always wake up exhausted.
"Maybe you were really running in your sleep." Bran says, smiling. His white hair falls messily over his forehead, thin and gleaming.
"I wish I could understand what it means."
"You mustn't worry so much," Remus says. "If the dream is trying to tell you something, it will tell you eventually. There's nothing you can do to solve the puzzle now. It'll come to you when it's time."
Bran smiles, and lowers his eyes, and Remus finds himself reaching out to touch Bran's hand where it rests on the arm of the chair. He was going to pat him, to say, "there, there" but instead, his hand stops over Bran's, and Remus brushes his fingers over the back of Bran's hand.
Remus is quiet and then leans forward, his voice rich, "Ask Will, when he returns, to tell you about the Dark."
"Oh, no, I couldn't," Bran says. "He must keep it a secret for a good reason."
There has always been something odd about Will, something Bran could not understand, even after all their years of friendship. There is something in the shadows around him, something in the way he seems larger than he is.
Will had shrugged off Bran's questions about the shadows, and his disappearances, as if he'd never asked them. Bran was so stunned the first couple of times that Will refused to admit what had happened that he didn't say anything.
They'd fought about it only once. Will had been gone for a whole day, and Bran had done the all of the evening chores so that Will simply could not ignore it. "I was hardly gone for long," Will said, shaking off his cloak and pouring himself tea from the pot Bran had made ready.
"Will," Bran said, with all his fury.
"Enough," Bran said. He meant it, and for once he was sure that Will knew exactly what he was talking about, that Will had been lying his way through these years.
"Bran, I can't –" Will started, but Bran wasn't having it.
"I'm entitled to know!" Bran shouted.
"It's nothing, Bran," Will said, his face shuttering, the truth leaving his eyes. "It's all a series of coincidences. You're making something out of it that it's not."
"The hell I am," Bran said. They never fought. They never talked to each other like this. Except – it was oddly familiar. Bran felt like he knew just how Will would react.
Will came over, sadder than Bran thought he had ever seen him. "I can't tell you, so stop asking." He reached out as if he were about to caress Bran's face, then held back. He swallowed loud enough for Bran to hear. "I'm doing this to protect you."
And leaving Bran stunned, Will turned away and went into his room, closing the door without a sound.
The next morning, Bran had made breakfast, had said the first words - something about if Will wanted tea - and that was the apology, that was the agreement between them. Bran would stay, Will would stay, the secrets would stay. Will would keep his mysteries and Bran would go on ignoring them and Will would, in his way, be grateful.
"Don't be so sure he's keeping the secrets for a good reason," Remus says, startling Bran from his reflection. "Secrets seem to come out of necessity, but they rarely have much good behind them at all."
They lapse into quiet again, both of them staring into the fire. Bran watches as Remus falls asleep sitting up. He looks accustomed to it, like there's a reason he doesn't go to bed. Bran gets the sense that there's more sadness around him than he'd ever let on.
Bran pulls out a book and reads until its light enough for chores.
Remus wakes with his neck stiff against the chair. Bran is gone from the chair across from him, but as Remus blinks to clear his sight, he looks up straight through the window outside and he sees the herd of sheep make a sharp turn outside the window, and the outline of Bran guiding them.
Remus checks the sun, and then the clock – it's 7 AM. He gets up and washes his face in the bathroom sink, and then puts on his overcoat and goes to meet Bran outside. He gets up and washes his face in the bathroom sink, puts on his overcoat, and goes to meet Bran outside.
It's sharply cold, and Remus feels the air bite at his face and neck. It wakes him up, and he feels invigorated, excited. Positive. This is a good place, and Remus is looking forward to seeing the break of the farmland at the top of the hill. He stands at the fence and watches Bran take the sheep out. When Bran turns and waves to him, he feels his heart lift.
Bran jogs over, "I'm almost through. You can start tea."
"Can I help with anything?" And Remus begins another day helping a stranger – who doesn't seem all that unfamiliar after all.
After breakfast, Remus says he needs to go into town to send his letters, and Bran offers to walk with him.
"Will and I sometimes walk into town this way for the pub," Bran says, scuffing his shoes against the crusted snow.
"But not lately?"
"Will's gone more. And since Da died and the farm - "
"It's funny how sometimes the absence of a person can shape your life more than their presence," Remus says.
Bran reaches out then, and very briefly brushes his fingers against Remus' cheek.
The snow is hard and packed under their feet from a day's sun and settling, and Remus can still see his footprints from when he arrived yesterday. No one else has been this way, no horses or sheep. Remus likes that idea, the quiet, the stillness, the unchanging feeling. Bran is noticeably cheery this morning; he wears a grin that's almost a smirk, flashing his teeth white, and his hair glows with the sun and the sharp brightness of the snow. It smells like water, and sunshine, and farmland, and nothing more. There are no underlying smells, and Remus is surprised how long those smells — the mold and dust of Grimmauld Place, the faintest familiar scent in his cottage, the smell of other people — have bothered him. Things are simpler here.
And yet, just as complicated. Bran's dream has been on his mind, and he's decided that he has more than one conversation that needs to be had with Will once he returns. Wherever he returns from. Remus tries hard not to think about it. He knows its business for the Light, he knows why Will is called away, and he's been the one to call Will through time and space before, for the Order. Remus knows what he can't tell Bran. But at the same time, well, really, Remus just knows how this feels. To worry. To wonder. To make up your own explanations because your friend won't tell you what's going on, or once you both admit he's lying, he can't tell you why.
Friend. It's odd to think of Sirius that way, so simplified for everything Sirius was to him, but in some ways, it's the truest. Friend.
"Well, you'll need the post office, then," Bran says, as the roofs of town come into view. "It's down by the creamery."
"They're magical letters, aren't they?" Bran says, bemused.
"The letters? No, they're not magical. But they people I'm sending them to are wizards, and we use a different system for mail than the post. We use owls, and various other birds who are willing and sharp enough."
"I've never gotten mail by owl," Bran says wistfully.
"I'll have to send you post when I return home."
It strikes them both, then, that Remus' visit will end as soon as Will returns. Time suddenly seems upon them. "Let's get some food to bring home," Bran says. "What do you like to eat?"
Remus likes this village, too. He likes everything about this place. Especially the kinship he feels with Bran. As they're walking home, holding their bundled packages, Remus says, "So, you and Will....live together?" Remus says; Bran is quiet.
"We're friends," Bran says, and nothing more.
After a moment, Remus responds quietly, "I had a friend like that once."
Bran stops and turns to look at him, sharp and quick. Then those amber eyes soften, and Bran nods, They continue their walk back.
It's late in the afternoon when Remus decides to test a theory.
"Bran, have you ever done any magic?" Remus asks. Bran's laugh rings out in the kitchen.
"I'm not a wizard," Bran says.
"We all have some sort of magic inside of us," Remus answers. It's not entirely a lie, but he can't very well tell Bran why he's asking. Remus suspects Bran still has magic in him, that the spell that took away his memory could not actually change him.
"We can start with something basic," Remus says, and Bran gives in.
Bran's magic is so strong that he dims the light coming in the windows and puts out the fire with his Nox. Remus does his best to pretend this is what always happens when wizards try this spell.
They progress to harder spells and at Exaudio, Remus feels the force of Bran's power surrounding them. He watches Bran, trying to see if Bran notices. He is alive with joy, wild and excited, like Remus remembers his first day at Hogwarts, his firs peek into a new life. Bran is not simply a natural – he has done this before. He has simply forgotten.
They do Accio and Remus freezes, lowers his wand. Remus can feel Bran, feel him tugging at his Remus' control without realizing.
"Remus, what is it – "
"It's nothing. It's – " And then Bran seems to realize it, too.
Bran touches Remus' shoulder and they're suddenly too close, and Bran is leaning into Remus, and Remus' hips are against the table and Bran's eyes are on fire. They're glowing with magic, Remus feels it drawing him close, as Bran draws closer, Bran near him, inside him, Remus is breathless with it. Because of this, Bran everywhere, Remus isn't sure if Bran kisses him first or if he leans into Bran, either way, Bran's desire is unmistakable. Remus is bent, almost backward onto the table, and Bran's hands are in his hair.
Bran's mouth is open with the words he was about to speak but Remus' tongue presses warmly into Bran's mouth, pressing any speech back. Remus kisses like he's talking, his lips moving open and closed, his tongue pressing words directly into Bran's mouth.
Remus pushes up at Bran, so they are standing again, Remus bending Bran backwards now. Bran is thrumming, thriving on Remus' responses.
Bran breaks for a breath. "Oh!" he gasps, and Remus kisses Bran's neck. His skin tastes like ice, like snow melting on his tongue. Bran is sinuous, soft, deep as a well.
"Can - can we – ?" Bran asks brokenly.
"Yes," Remus says warmly. "We can."
They return from the next morning's chores to find Will home. Remus watches Will and Bran share a look, relief and comfort and secrets passing between them, and he can see the pain they cause each other.
"Remus Lupin," Will says, coming over to shake his hand.
"Old One," Remus says.
Bran slips away to another part of the house, and Remus wants to call out, to call him back, but Remus knows this is a pattern he should not interfere with. There will be time later.
"So the Dark has found purchase yet again," Will says sadly. "Come, sit. Let us talk. Tell me what has happened."
Talking to Will is like time stops passing, and Remus wonders if it was true, if that, too, is in Will's power. They talk for what feels like hours about strategy, about resources, friends and prophesy, the Grimoire, the Light; Remus has much information to bring back to Dumbledore.
"Now, let me ask if there is any way in which you might take advice from me," Remus says at last, and Will looks puzzled.
"What advice would you give me, Remus?" Will asks.
Remus leans forward and looks directly into Will's eyes. "Do you love him, Old One?" All that is an Old One in Will seems to melt away, and he looks so much younger, plainly vulnerable. Finally, Will nods. "You must tell him what secrets you are keeping from him," Remus says sternly.
"He does not remember," Will replies
"He does. He knew Merriman. He asked if I knew an old man with white hair who he sees around corners and shadows. He asked if our war was against the Dark."
"You think I'm remiss in not telling him?"
"I'm not talking about the Light, Old One. I think there are other things at risk if you keep things from him for too long."
Will seems to startle to attention. "Has he told you about the dreams?"
"Of the six signs, yes. The mistletoe. Eirias." Remus smiles gently. "He remembers."
"I can't tell him, Remus. It's against the rules."
"What rules? You set the rules."
"His choice was – "
"What exactly do you think is going to happen?" Remus says, losing his patience. "Have you forgotten who he is?"
"He is not who he was when he made the choice," Will answers.
"You're afraid he's going to regret the choice, aren't you?" Remus says after a moment. "You're afraid if he knows..."
"Our life now...."
"He is pretending. And he's doing it for you, because he thinks that's what you want."
"I'm keeping him safe."
"Believe me when I tell you that there are no secrets that can do that." Remus sighs heavily. "Don't you see? Your life now – you don't know what it's like to be on the receiving end of secrets like this."
"And you do," Will says sadly.
"You have no idea what it's costing Bran to say he's fine, to know there are things you aren't telling him."
"I cannot undo your past," Will says.
"Will, you know that's not what I want. I want you both to be spared." Remus is suddenly very close to tears.
"It's been so long," Will says. "We were boys. What if he isn't happy with his life? What if now that he's lost Owen Davies, he wants to know his real father? And I'm the one who asked him to forget."
Remus reaches out and takes his hand. "He wants to remember, Will. If he had really chosen to forget, then he would forget." Remus pauses. "You will only lose him if you continue to keep these secrets. He already half-knows, and he's waiting. For you."
Will squeezes Remus' hand. "You give good advice, wizard," Will says softly.
"As do you, Old One."
Bran comes into the room a few moments later, approaching slowly to see that he is not disturbing their conversation. Will gives Remus another warm smile as he slips out the door, in the direction of John Rowland's.
"Can I pack you some food for your return journey?" Bran asks.
"Will you return to Scotland?"
"London, first," Remus says. "Listen," but before he can finish, Bran leans in and kisses him.
Remus knows what happened with Sirius, the secrets and how they cut at both of them, took time from his life that he wishes he could have back. When he was in Bran's position, he desperately wanted for someone who understood . He hopes that, at least for a short time, he can have been that person to Bran. When Bran pulls back, he flashes a quick smile at Remus. Remus raises a hand to Bran's mouth, and then his own. His lips are still tingling from their kiss.
"I'm glad you came here," Bran says, and then he turns to packing a half a loaf of bread and two bright green apples for Remus.
Bran wakes from the same dream, the shower of white sparks, the old man. But he's seen something different this time. He says into the dark of his room, "Silver on the tree."
"Yes, we all have found the light at last," Will says softly.
"Will," Bran says. "Have you been standing there watching me sleep?"
"Yes." Will steps into the room, comes to the bed. He reaches out a hand to caress Bran's face.
"Tell me," Bran says. "About the Light. The Dark. About the Old Ones." It seems to cost him something to take this risk, to say these secret words. Will brings their faces together, presses his lips to Bran's forehead, his eyebrows, his closed eyes.
"I am a servant of the Light," Will says. "Once, you were, too. There are rules, Bran, but I've come to believe they cannot really apply to us. I will not risk losing you because I am supposed to keep these secrets. You made a choice – but you did not choose to forget. That was thrust upon you for your safety."
"What was my choice?"
"You were offered two paths. One of your past, and the other – well, this world. You chose to stay."
"I chose you," Bran says, looking up at Will. "If I chose this world over what you say, then I must have chosen it for you."
Remus makes it to the nearest Floo just as it is getting dark. He thinks of Will and Bran and his chest tightens. The snow crunches under his feet and he tries not to miss Sirius. It doesn't work.