Sirius arrives in a flurry of snowflakes, seventeen days after Dumbledore’s letter of warning.
Remus would prefer to stay inside, comfortable in the shadows, concealed by the fine fabric of his window curtains. His newest boggart stands on the doorstep of the house, and no spell he knows will make it humorous. Hiding is easy, but impractical.
He opens the door and invites Sirius in.
“Do you remember Christmas, our fourth year?” Sirius asks as they make dinner. He has been at Remus’ for six days.
“No.” The oven timer beeps and he turns it off.
Sirius tosses a salad together. “At James’? Caroling? Pie? Bad poetry? You must, Remus.”
Remus doesn’t remember, no more than he remembers how he felt the day that James and Lily died. “I’m sorry, Sirius.”
His tone belies the sentiment; he has spent years forgetting. Nothing is left of that life, except Harry and the uncontainable presence in his kitchen that comes with a thousand reminders of the past.
When Remus works on Order business, Sirius sits on the shabby sofa across the room. He has a book open on his lap, but hasn’t read past page 45. He is always there when Remus turns around, dark eyes bottomless and inscrutable.
Remus’ spine tingles. He thinks perhaps he’s supposed to know what Sirius’ gazes mean, but memories like that are locked away and covered up, buried under layers of dust in the attic of a house he no longer visits.
“Tea?” He asks.
Sirius absently flips a page without looking down. “Please.”
On his way into the kitchen identical holes burn through his shoulder blades. It is not as unpleasant as it should be.
Sometimes they go for walks in the afternoons, feet leaving intricate patterns in the crisp snow. The house is isolated enough for security and the daily dustings smooth away their secrets.
Sirius walks too close to Remus so their hands and shoulders bump. He doesn’t mention previous snowfalls, but his face is bright, glittering like sunlight on ice. Remus’ heart clenches at the resonance of memory.
“I’ll race you.” Sirius says, grinning and cajoling until Remus is laughing too.
One night Remus finds himself sharing the sofa with Sirius. He settles in with the latest report; Sirius rests an arm along the back of the couch and runs his fingers into Remus’ hair.
The touch is pleasant so Remus leans into it, words blurring under half-closed eyes. He turns his head to look at Sirius and catches him off-guard, naked longing stark in the lines of his face. Remus’ insides heat up and he leans forward before he can stop to think.
His mouth is awkward and cold on Sirius’, but then Sirius slides his tongue between Remus’ lips and tugs on the back of his neck. Sirius tastes like chocolate, like sunlight, and he kisses Remus like it’s the ending of the world.
Too much sensation. Remus pulls away gasping, summertime still lingering on each of his taste buds.
“God,” Sirius says. “Remus, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean—“ He stands up quickly and moves away from the couch. Remus’ vision snaps abruptly into focus.
Sirius winces, but Remus ignores it. “Didn’t you mean to, Sirius? Touching me? Bringing up the past? Always being there when I turned around?”
“I’m sorry,” Sirius says again.
Remus stands up. “Why?”
“You don’t want to be reminded of what’s gone.”
It’s true. But Sirius is here, and beautiful, and Remus aches. “You’re not gone,” he says, and steps forward.
And then they are kissing again, all wide-open eyes and searching, hungry mouths. Sirius’ fingertips whisper up and down Remus’ back, leaving heat-strokes in their wake. Encouraged, Remus rests his hands on Sirius’ hips and drags him between his legs. Sirius gasps when their cocks brush through layers of clothing, pushing closer until Remus breaks the kiss.
“Bedroom—“ He grates out against Sirius’ cheek.
“Too old for the floor?” Sirius asks shakily, hands working at the button of Remus’ trousers.
“Yes.” Remus growls, pulling Sirius down the hall by the front of his shirt.
The shirt and trousers are gone by the time they make it to the bedroom door. Their fingers move swiftly on each other’s remaining clothing, biting off kisses to curse and rip until nothing separates them but skin. The bed trips Remus up as he stumbles blindly backwards and they land in a tangled heap of limbs.
Sirius’ hands can’t seem to get enough of Remus’ skin: rubbing up his sides, stroking down his stomach, lingering at his nipples and his knees. Remus kisses as much of Sirius as he can reach, licking at wrinkles and newly sculpted lines. Sirius’ thumb ghosts along Remus’ cock and Remus arches up, desperate for more contact.
“What do you want?” Sirius asks, his voice raw.
Everything is half-familiar, the lines of a poem Remus memorized a thousand years ago. “I don’t—“ he says, frustrated. “Just—what do you want?”
Sirius’ fingers dip and glide along the hollow of his hip. “I want to fuck you,” He murmurs dreamily, “But I think that can wait.”
Remus would say yes to anything, but Sirius slides up to catch Remus’ mouth and grasps both of them in one long-fingered hand. His tongue glides against Remus’ and their hips fit like puzzle pieces. Sensation everywhere: heat and friction and skin-on-skin, the roughness of Sirius’ palm and the gentle, intimate scrape of their cocks rubbing together.
Remus tightens his grip on Sirius’ shoulders as the rhythm builds. It’s intense, irregular, and he kisses Sirius out of time, burying himself in Sirius’ mouth and thrusting against his hand in counterpoint. He’s sure he’s moaning, saying something irrelevantly important, but it is swallowed on his tongue.
Then he loses track until Sirius tenses against him and suddenly they're both coming, warm and amazing and unexpectedly perfect.
“Remus,” Sirius murmurs. It sounds like a prayer. Remus doesn’t know what to say so he just holds on to Sirius as they ride out the aftershocks. He is still shaking uncontrollably, hot and cold from pleasure and novelty and fear.
He’s not sure what’s supposed to happen next.
“Do you remember,” Sirius says eventually, “the first time I kissed you?”
Three weeks after the Trick on Snape, on the stairs to Gryffindor Tower. It had been astonishing, a clumsy clash of fierce teeth and urgent tongues and broken friendships. The next day Remus announced that Sirius’ mistakes were forgiven. No one mentioned the kiss.
He remembers it now, in a sudden rush not unlike orgasm. He can almost feel the bite marks on his lower lip, accidental and exquisitely painful.
“Do you remember,” he counters, almost a whisper, “the first time I touched you?”
James’ bachelor party, two days before the wedding. They all drank too much, ended up with Peter snoring on the living room couch and James passed out the wrong way on Sirius’ bed. Sirius climbed in with Remus and curled up against him, inhibitions loosened by alcohol and something that might have been longing.
Remus remembers remembering the taste of Sirius’ mouth and wanting it again, wanting it so much that he put a hand on Sirius’ neck and kissed him without any warning at all. He was never sure afterwards whether Sirius opened his mouth in response or surprise. He tore away enough clothes to give his hands room and ground down against Sirius until they both came.
In the morning, they sent James and Peter home and made tea to treat their hangovers.
“Do you remember,” Sirius says, and Remus thinks he might be smiling, “the first time you fucked me?”
After the wedding, hard and fast and vital against the door of their flat, too urgent to strip. They hadn’t touched since the bachelor party, not even a casual hand on shoulder or brush of fingers in the kitchen. Then Lily, giddy from wine and kisses, had begged Sirius to make Remus dance. Sudden contact, an unconscious rhythm too much like sex, and Remus dragged Sirius out of the reception so quickly that no one even saw them leave.
Afterwards, they moved to Sirius’ bedroom and did it all again, slower, heated intensity lasting longer and burning higher.
Waking up together was less accidental. They kissed over the breakfast dishes, in the bathroom, on the way out the door. Sirius stopped going home with girls. James caught them holding hands under the table and grinned.
“Do you remember,” Remus says, and then stops.
“The first time I said ‘I love you’?” Sirius finishes. Remus sits up and turns to look at him. He is leaning on the headboard, a bunched-up sheet across his lap.
“Let me remind you,” Sirius says. “September. Full moon. Prongs and Wormtail had Order business and couldn’t make it. We made love and then you lay there shaking like there was poison in your blood. I held you. I’d held you before, even during school, but this time was different. You told me to leave and I wouldn’t.”
“You never would,” Remus mutters. Sirius nods.
“You said I should either change or go because it was almost moonrise. I said ‘I love you, Moony,’ and you stopped shivering and kissed me.” Sirius picks up Remus’ hand from where it is fisted in the covers. “And then you said ‘I love you, too, Sirius,’ and the moonlight came in through the window.”
Someone is sweeping away the dust in the house in Remus’ chest, re-hanging photographs on the walls, opening doors to let in a breeze.
“Even in Azkaban?” He asks Sirius.
“Four things kept me alive,” Sirius says, not looking at Remus. “Harry, revenge, innocence, and memories of you. I won’t say they kept me sane, but they kept me alive.”
Remus’ shadow is altering its shape, brightening and filling in the crosshatched lines of his skin and bones. He no longer trusts his own sanity. He reaches out with his free hand and cups Sirius’ chin, tilts it up so that he can meet his eyes.
“Do you think you can teach me how to remember?” He asks gently.
Sirius’ smile lights up his face, fills in the creases left by anger and doubt and isolation. “Yes,” he says, “I think I can.”