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Solstice

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Solstice. A weighted, breathless balance point.

Remus is sitting on the crest of the hill, looking out over the lake. Sirius checks automatically, but the moon is a bare sliver in the sky, a wink and a promise of aches to come. Remus doesn't have to check. Remus feels it deep in his bones in a way that Sirius never will. Sirius envies him, in a way, that certainty (and then he remembers it is the only certainty Remus has, a werewolf among humans, a quiet studious boy among his blithe and noisy peers).

"The nights will get longer now," Sirius says, pushing his hands into his pockets.

"Yes," Remus says.

Sirius hesitates. It is not in his nature to hesitate, to consider his actions; Remus brings out something new in him, something tender and shy. There are times this drives Sirius mad-he isn't used to being a stranger in his own skin. He can deal with anyone else and never be caught wrong-footed, but then there is Moony.

"Does it help?" he asks at last. "When the nights are short."

Remus' smile is crooked, weighted down at one side as he glances up at Sirius. "No," he says. He looks back out over the water, but there is an invitation in the softened set of his narrow shoulders. Sirius lowers himself to the grass to sit next to Remus.

They have spent the day in Hogsmeade, a last meetup before their summers truly start. James and Peter are in the Three Broomsticks now, waiting. Remus came to the castle for a few doses of pain-relieving potion and some scar ointment from the infirmary, and borrowed a few books as well. Sirius will never understand Remus' desire to study, to waste precious golden minutes of summer with his nose in an old book, but Remus is looking forward. It will be N.E.W.T.S. next year, and then their futures will be determined, if there are any futures to be had. Sirius tries not to think about the time coming, though he can feel it in the way his jaw clenches at night and the way Regulus glares, touching his robed forearm with the back of his other hand as if he has a secret. It seems the whole world is descending into darkness, sinking slowly. The longer the nights, the louder the whispers will grow.

Remus sighs, the sound barely audible over the rustle of the breeze through the trees. Sirius leans against him, knocking his head gently against Remus. Remus gives him that wobbly smile again.

"Cheer up, Moony," Sirius says, resting his chin on Remus' shoulder. It's pointy, but not so bad. "Only a few months and you'll be back in your beloved library like summer never happened."

Remus drops his head. "I don't particularly like endings," he murmurs into his shirt.

"It's not any different from last summer." Sirius settles his chin more comfortably and puts an extra heartiness in his voice. "I'll be with the Potters, doing odd jobs and thinking up all of next year's pranks, turning myself into the bronzed god of the seventh years. You'll be doing Moony things, swearing your love and devotion to every book you see."

"It feels different," Remus mumbles.

"Yeah," Sirius says, dropping the act. "It does." Remus looks up at him and their faces are so close and the firm muscle of Remus' shoulder is so warm and Remus smells of books and laundry soap and a hint of something darkly musky, and Sirius kisses him. It doesn't take much, just a shift to the side, and then his lips are against Remus'. It's an accident. It's destiny. It's a fleeting whim. It's a long time coming. Remus' lips are faintly chapped and his stubble is coming in, but his mouth is all the solace Sirius has been seeking. He leans in, very gently, a question caught between their mouths.

And Remus kisses him back, firmly, fiercely, all at once, as if he had to wait for some internal door to be unlocked, as if somewhere inside himself, he were fumbling with the keys to a room he hadn't entered in a very long time. Sirius presses against Remus, matching Remus' sudden strength with undiscovered vitality of his own. The sun shines down on them, making Sirius' eyelids glow, warming them both until Sirius feels sweat dampen his temples and Remus pants gently against him.

"Well," Sirius says, a little breathless. "Long nights are good for something." He untangles his fingers from the tails of Remus' shirt.

Remus smiles, the corners of his mouth even this time, his lips pink and slightly swollen. "Let's enjoy the light while it lasts."

"A most wise Moony," Sirius sighs. He rests his hand on Remus' knee. After a moment, Remus' fingers cover his, brushing tentatively against Sirius' knuckles. Something swells in Sirius, sweet and nearly painful, like the burn of the fine old brandy he drank at his family's dour Christmas table years ago, three sips for the growing heir. He had not thought he would find that feeling again. The world turns. It slips into darkness and back into light at the point when the darkness seems most inevitable.

"Someone has to be the dull one," Remus says into Sirius' hair. "Otherwise you might come completely untethered and run around the castle blinding people with your nudity, et cetera."

"You aren't dull, dear old et cetera. You just...wax and wane. Swear not by the Moony, th' inconstant Moony," Sirius gabbles, foolish and giddy, and Remus, in grand tradition, stops his mouth with a kiss.