Anxious green met haunted grey met for the first time in seventeen years. There was so much in that exchange that Sirius didn’t know how to feel. He had spent the last seventeen years begging the walls of his cell to forgive him for what he had thought about the man standing before him, for the way they had parted on such poor terms so long ago, so full of anger, anger for which he wasn’t even sure he remembered the cause. He had relived that day and so many others a million times. The way they had fought about something stupid, tensions high for the war, for Remus’s infernal secret missions, for the way they could never talk properly anymore. No touch, no wave, no apology or even a whisper of affection, just slammed doors and a clipped, “Bye,” over his shoulder to which he didn’t wait around for a reply. He had been so angry with Remus the last time he saw him that the rest of that month had been hell, waiting to see him again, waiting to tell him how sorry he was, how much he loved him, how he wished they could just talk and share things the way they always used to, before the Order got in the way, before Voldemort ruined it all, before he ruined it all. It was all his fault. Everything that had happened was his fault. James, Lily, Harry... believing Remus could ever betray them, trusting in Pettigrew when he should have seen the signs that something was wrong with his traitorous ex-friend, leaving Remus alone all of that time without ever getting the chance to make up for what had come between them. All of it was his fault and his fault alone.
Yet there he was. The man Sirius loved more than life itself was standing before him, so much older, so many more scars, so much more broken than he had been the last time Sirius saw him. The look in those beautiful emerald eyes was haunted in a way that perhaps even Azkaban couldn’t do to a man. Remus had been through so much trauma in his absence that it was as clear as day to the man who spent hours of his youth just watching him and waiting to be noticed. Sirius wanted to fix him, to take away the pain so evident in the way he carried himself and the hidden look in his eyes. The anxiety, he understood. It had been so long. He was sure he was quite obviously a bundle of nerves himself. But there was something deeper in those eyes, something darker, something Sirius wanted to lock away to keep Remus from feeling ever again.
Sirius settled for giving a weak smile, something akin to the way he used to smile at Remus. It felt so right and so wrong at the same time. The last time he had smiled had been a lifetime ago, flopping into bed alone and wishing for Remus to be there, hugging the man’s pillow to make up for the fact that no-one was beside him and just pretending, wishing for the end of the month so he wouldn’t be so alone, lulling himself to sleep with happier memories and finally letting that soft smile grace his lips as he fell into fitful slumber. He had smiled on the night before Halloween that year and then never returned to that bed.
“Sirius…” Remus whispered but he may as well have been screaming. Nothing else in the courtroom mattered, no-one else existed. Remus acknowledged him and the tone of his quiet voice conveyed so much love, so much pain, so much confusion, so much guilt and anxiety. But there was no hatred, no contempt, no anger. Sirius was honestly amazed at how well he could still read the man, even after their extended separation.
A pale hand rose, open, palm out in invitation. Remus’s eyes were searching for something but he cracked a gentle, albeit brief, smile. Sirius swallowed a sudden lump in his throat and broke into a run to reach the door and the man that stood just beyond it. It was like waking up from a nightmare and diving into a dream all at the same time. He had a hard time believing this was actually true, that he wasn’t about to be hauled back into prison and subjected to a dementor’s kiss at long last. Any second, the door would slam in his face and a harsh laugh would taunt him for thinking that it was really all over.
Remus caught him as he stumbled over the threshold, atrophied muscles giving out after the short burst of adrenaline fueled motion. Thin arms were around him, gripping him tighter than he ever remembered being held. The bag Remus had been holding dropped to the floor beside them and fell over, spilling out some clothes that went ignored. Sirius wrapped his arms around a chest that was too bony and clutched at a sweater that hung too loose, never feeling safer than he had in that moment.