As Remus Lupin stood at the door of 12 Grimmauld place, hand raised to knock the door, a breeze of cold wind swept over him and brought him to a halt in his rash movements. His arm froze where it was, just inches from knocking against the dark wood, as a realisation ran a cold shiver down his spine and had his delusions leaking like tears from his mind: Sirius wouldn't really be here, would he?
Remus had set off from Hogwarts that evening, leaving his position willingly before he was forced to, and the first place he could think to visit was here - his mind had seemed to Apparate him to the doorstep the moment the idea plucked up in his mind, and now here he was. But surely Sirius Black, a man who up until a year before had been locked up tightly in Askaban for a crime he had not committed, would not have thought to come to the childhood home he had always hated. He wouldn't have been so reckless, instead running off - or rather, flying off - with that huge Hippogriff he had supposedly stolen from Hogwarts' grounds. Now that he thought about it, Remus realised that there was no real reason for him to be here, as Sirius no doubt would have valued his own life over seeing him, but the werewolf couldn't help but hope and wonder at whether there was an instinct within him that still tied him to Sirius. If it hadn't been cut off in the lengthy time they'd been parted then he must have been here, but the likelihood, Remus knew, was low.
Twelve years it had been, and Remus was finding it difficult to believe that he had been waiting for that long. It felt a million times longer, but at the same time he could remember the last second he'd spent with Sirius before the other man had been arrested: the two of them lying under the moon together, its bright orb having been just days from being full and making Remus twitch with the anxiety of what he had known it would do to him soon. Sirius had been trying to sooth Remus' fear of it, but his efforts had clearly failed as seeing a boggart still revealed Remus' deep set fear of the full moon. Every day he'd thought of Sirius, wondering if he would really turn his back on his friends to serve Voldemort, but never really believing that it was possible. No way had the man he loved turned to a Dark Lord without him knowing.
Remus and Sirius had been together since their fifth year at Hogwarts, and it had been no idle teenage romance - it would be an insult to them to suggest so. No, it had more than that - Remus had even dared to say that it was love - and being torn from Sirius had been agony. Remus had thought he knew Sirius better than he knew himself, yet for a few short weeks after Sirius' arrest he had been unable to believe anything but what the Daily Prophet had reported: that Sirius was guilty for the death of Peter Pettigrew and the betrayal of James and Lily Potter, his best friends, as well as their son, Harry - Sirius' godson. It had shredded Remus' sanity, the idea that Sirius would do such a thing, but eventually he realised that it couldn't be true, and had pleaded for Sirius' innocence. But the Ministry would not budge - in their eyes, Sirius was no doubt guilty.
The years following had been horrendous, as Remus was left as the last of the Marauders and feeling more alone than he ever had before. He had felt constantly as though he was waiting for something, although he knew not what as Sirius' conviction was a life sentence. Something within him must have known, sensed that one day Sirius would escape, and now that he had Remus wanted only to be with him now, and wash away the twelve years they had spent apart with a swipe of his hand and a long waited embrace.
But he knew that Sirius wasn't here, and wherever he may be, he certainly didn't want to see Remus now. He lowered his hand and turned away, concluding that it was probably for the best anyway. He at least wanted his love to be safe, and coming here to such an obvious meeting point would be too much of a risk to ensure that. He descended the the steps and was about to walk away, refusing to look back, but a familiar voice stopped him.
"Going somewhere, Moony?"
Remus turned around suddenly, almost slipping on the wet ground as his gaze locked with the other man's. Sirius Black stood proudly in the doorway, dark hair swimming in the light breeze. He'd obviously shaved since Remus had last seen him, on the grounds of Hogwarts on an unfortunate full moon, and he'd changed his clothes, but there was still faint stubble building on his chin. Remus hadn't had a chance to talk to Sirius properly at Hogwarts, as they'd had to worry about the children's safety and make sure Sirius wasn't hauled back to Azkaban. But he could clearly see that Sirius was thinner than he remembered, his clothes hanging off of his bony frame. One thing that jumped out at Remus was the smile that brightened up his lover's face, still just as arrogant and cheeky as he'd always known and making Remus forget about the twelve years that they had spent apart.
Unable to stop himself, Remus had already ran back up the stairs before he even registered what he was doing. He threw himself into Sirius' arms, head nested in his shoulder and holding on tightly as if they might be ripped apart any second. With the familiar arms surrounding him any words he might have uttered fell from the end of his tongue, and the only noise he could manage was a silent exhale. But it wasn't just the touch but the smell that did it, like an aura surrounding Remus and lulling him into calmness. After his "little" accident at the school which had caused his resignation, Remus' senses were still heightened from the lingering full moon, so that the scent immediately registered as distinctively Sirius.
"Sirius," Remus was finally able to breathe, the syllables each stinging like acid on his tongue. His heart ached, more than it had in all those years without Sirius, because now, as they held each other, locked in that tight embrace, it suddenly hit Remus how much he needed the other man. Twelve years had swept by, quick when he looked back but at the same time he could remember each hour being agonisingly long. How he had even survived a single minute without Sirius was beyond him - the entire time seemed like an empty void in his mind, a dream disguising itself as a foggy memory. Remus found himself gripping on tighter as he thought of this, the fabric of Sirius' thin coat bunched up in his fists.
"It's alright," Sirius whispered back, as though he could hear the desperate muttering of Remus' thoughts. If it was any moment that convinced Remus that this moment was real, that the man he'd loved since they were fifteen was really here, it was the second Sirius' voice flooded into his ears from mere inches away. Even in a scarce whisper, the gentle roughness of it could be heard, along with that same devilish undertone which had been present from the day Remus had met him.
It was Sirius who eventually pulled away, but his hands didn't leave Remus' sides. He stared for a moment, his grey eyes mixing with the golden of Remus', before reaching a hand to the side of his head. "I've missed you, Remus," Sirius said, and Remus himself was left speechless. There was a tempting grin on his lover's face as he said his name. Remus tried to nod back, caught up in the net of Sirius' gaze, but before he could, lips crashed against his, familiar like an old childhood friend.
Remus' head was in the sky, engulfed in the bliss of a kiss that tasted better than chocolate to his starved tongue. It had been so long since he'd kissed anyone, he'd not wanted to engage in any other relationships while he waited patiently for Sirius to return to him; it felt like betrayal, like he was abandoning Sirius, and besides, no one else would ever compare.
Their mouths moulded together like two pieces of a puzzle and their bodies where flush, one of Remus' hands buried in Sirius' thick black hair and the other trying to tug him ever closer - no matter how close they got, there always seemed to be a barrier left between them and after so many years, Remus only wished to demolish the ones already built from their time apart.
Remus felt in a way as if, as they kissed passionately on the doorstep of Sirius' miserable childhood home, caring not for who may spot them, there was a separation between the two men. Twelve years was a long time, and it was to be expected, Remus guessed, that they would each be a little out of tune with eachother. But at the same time the feeling only made the werewolf more desperate to have Sirius as close to him as possible - their wounds needed to be mended, all the walls had to be destroyed, as he couldn't stand the feeling of them being slightly less connected than they had as teenagers.
Sirius' arms had hastily wrapped themselves around his lover's torso, and seemed to want Remus to be just as close, his grip tightening with each of the werewolf's insistent tugs closer. His tongue traced wonders over Remus', and his fingers were not shy in creeping beneath the hem of his shirt. The roughness of his skin told silent stories, no doubt scars caused by harsh beatings and the dementors' kiss. There was no doubt that Sirius looked thinner than he ever had before, whilst his skin carried a death-like grey hue and his eyes held a look of dark insanity. Remus didn't mind, only worried, but he was intent on drawing away the lingering effects of the dementors' deadly kiss with his own loving kisses - he would happily litter them over ever one of Sirius' remaining scars, physical and mental, if that was what it would take.
But for now they were forced to pull away from eachother; although they were not ashamed to be embraced at the doorstep as they were, especially since they and the house were shielded from any muggles' eyes, the night air was cold and thin, and both men craved to be inside by a burning fire rather than relying on eachothers' bodily warmth. Without any words, Sirius lead his werewolf back into the dirty old house and closed the battered door behind them.
Coats were immediately thrown to the sides, and rough kisses collided their lips together. They were slower this time yet fuelled with more passion and desperation, only droplets of the lingering relief of being reunited remaining. The two were encapsulated in eachother, hot breaths mixing as they stumbled sloppily towards the living room nearby, knowing they would be unable to make it all the way to any of the bedrooms upstairs. Shoes were kicked off, and shirts quickly followed them, but after this the dismissal of clothing slowed as Remus took in Sirius' body in the dim light.
Shadows were cast across his chest from the majority of the room being in darkness, but still he could spot and clearly feel the rough scars beneath his fingertips as they traced across Sirius' chest and stomach. Some had turned white with age, but the more prominent scars were the ones pink with the fresh ache of broken tissue. Not only did they cover the man's chest, but his arms, back and likely his legs too, a suit of reminders and lasting pain. Remus had similar scars of his own from years of transforming into a monster every month, and he could feel the searing heat of Sirius' sneaky eyes burning across the many he did not recognise, but none of them seem nearly as painful as Sirius' must have been.
"Remus," the other man breathed, catching Remus' chin to tear his gaze from the scars lacing his own chest. Sirius' eyes searched Remus' with clear concern, but they quickly strayed back to the werewolf's scars. "It still pains you, doesn't it?" Remus knew that he was not only asking of physical pain, but the insecurity and hatred he had always held towards that part of himself also. He still held that hate, and was sure he would never let go of it, and as much as he knew the information hurted Sirius, he couldn't bring himself to lie.
"It always has, and forever will," he admitted, much to Sirius' distain. But the dark haired man offered a meek smile that didn't suit the usual sharpness of his features and continued to gaze into Remus' soft hazel eyes.
"I still love you, Remus," he confessed in what seemed to be a light daze. More of a grin suddenly replaced his smile, which made Remus return it. "I always have and forever will."
"So do I," he agreed. Sirius' eyes widened for a moment, but Remus refused to believe that he was honestly surprised - had the passion in his kiss said nothing of the love they each felt? Even after all those years and the gradual accumulation of scars for each of them, the love had not faded, only been buried alive beneath a hoard of more immediate troubles. It had not taken long to dig the memories and lingering feelings of their teenage years back up from their shallow graves again, and now only a light layer of mud dusted the old coffins. Of course there were barriers between them which both of them sensed, but these walls were not formed from lack of love - if anything they were an accumulation of love's enemy: time.
Yet despite this their lips were blissfully unaware of the disconnection, and to the naked eye it was impossible to see as each of them continued to tug at the other's remaining clothing and tossing the articles to the floor triumphantly as each was removed. Kisses may have been fragmented by they didn't ever break, only continuing on in the next installment once their lips had parted and returned. It felt so natural, and if Remus closed his eyes he could feel that same hum of belonging that he'd always felt around Sirius.
It was only once each of them were indecently clothed and had vacated to a sunken couch nearby that their kiss truly broke, but rather than snap cruely in two it parted like the Red Sea. Breath needed to be hastily caught and crammed into Remus' lungs or he was sure he would soon faint - his lips being so occupied and overworked was more tiring than he remembered. But although his mouth may have been detached from his lover, his eyes never once left. They scanned the calloused skin of Sirius' arms, both curled around Remus' waist, and once they had skirted carefully past the worst of the scarring to save himself the pain, he could practically feel his pupils dilating at the sight of Sirius' sly smile creeping onto the edge of his mouth. Remus could easily see that he'd come from a family of Slytherins just by that smile, and wondered how the cheek of it alone hadn't forced him to continue on his family's example.
Sirius was watching Remus watch him, tracing his eye movements and smiling more than he had been idly before when the werewolf's eyes caught his. He couldn't see how Remus hated himself so much, as for all the scars that he no doubt saw as hideous that marked his soft skin, Sirius saw it as detailed artwork, enhancing his lover's strength and everything Sirius loved most about him. Askaban had possessed none of the gentleness that Remus' hands provided him now, ever shy and hesitant as he remembered, and it's all that Sirius had been longing for all that time, along with the sweet, addictive taste of Remus' lips.
"Sirius," came a whisper in his ears that took him a moment to realise had came from Remus' lips, he was so dazed by the werewolf's appearance. "Siri, I'm sorry, but I must ask you something."
The nickname was better than any kiss or loving utter that Remus could ever have provided him with, a syllable of laziness that told Sirius that his Remy must have been comfortable to use it. But he could see the importance and urgency of what Remus wished to ask in his soft hazel eyes, suddenly sharp and nervous as though there was a question pressing on his mind all that time.
Sirius nodded. "What is it?"
Remus took in a laboured breath, and the words were impatiently surging from him before he even had the chance to exhale it. "Why in Merlin's name did you wait so long to escape Askaban?"
Sirius' forehead dropped against Remus' shoulder the moment he heard the question, and dreaded answering it immediately. Sirius divulged in a deep sigh, and Remus worried for a second if his question had hit a soft spot - he wished not to ignite painful memories, not when he and his long-distanced lover were locked in such a close embrace. His arms circled Sirius' back and tightened around the other man's thin frame, his flat palms feeling every defiant rib and protruding bone rise and fall as Sirius breathed and sensing warm breath against his bare shoulder.
"Remus, I'm sorry," Sirius murmured, barely audible even in the stuffy silence of the room. "I'm so sorry, it's all my fault. I've failed you..."
"Don't ever say that," Remus whispered sharply back, hugging the man closer to him and feeling the stickiness of sweat forming between their chests, pressed tightly against one another. "This was of Peter's doing, all of it. Not you."
The light shuffle of matted black curls was the only sound betraying that Sirius shook his head, whilst his forehead still laid against the dip in Remus' shoulder. "No," Sirius uttered, his voice gruff and weaker than Remus had ever heard it. "I could have escaped from Askaban the day I got there." The words hit Remus in an unexpected fashion: sadness he realises, is a prominent feeling that follows.
"Please, Remus, you have to understand," Sirius goes on, and his voice quivers like that of a twelve year old boy. "The dementors, they are worse than any death. Their kiss is ten times worse than you could ever imagine, Remus, and once they have you it seems that there is no way out - no hope, no love. Any strength or sense I may have had to escape seemed to vanish right before my eyes, and years passed like the blink of an eye for I was void of any emotion. It was only a lapse of pure luck that had me strong enough to escape, along with the knowledge that Harry would be in school by now..."
Remus listened and heard the sorrow in every breath of Sirius' words, the knowledge of how his story must have sounded. Although he was glad that his lover had been spared the torment of years alone by the numbness he had had to endure, Remus couldn't help but hear the ghost of lost time echo through his mind. If only Sirius had been about his wits earlier, if only they'd had more time... If only Sirius' now frail body hadn't been subdued to such torture whilst his mind had been torn from him.
Hot drops of liquid fell onto Remus' shoulder all of a sudden, and the heat of them seemed to singe his skin to a sore pink as they trickled down to where gravity lead them. Sirius had begun to cry, although if he was anything like his teenage self now he would never admit it, and every tear felt like burning acid against Remus' skin.
"You should've been enough, Remy. You alone should've been enough to drag me out of there... But you weren't. I love you, Remus, I swear it, but somehow the thought of you waiting for me only made me think that I'd let you down, that you thought me to be a murderer, a betrayer, a fraud -"
"Never," Remus hissed back. "Sirius, you must know that I would never think of you as any of those things. I didn't believe a word of what was said about you."
"I know that now," Sirius agreed, "Now that I'm out of their grasp." He pushed away from Remus' shoulder and although his eyes were red and wet, he refused to wipe the tears away. "I was stupid in my youth and I didn't take this seriously at all, but I won't take you for granted again, Remus. Never again."
Whatever he spoke of was never explained, as his lips caught Remus' a second later, but the werewolf could not complain. He marveled in the taste of Sirius' lips, salty now though they were, and vowed the same promise - after all this time apart, how could he ever see Sirius as anything less than he was: utterly perfect. Moments passed before Sirius mouth left his, but the familiar softness of them only transferred to his neck, lips and tongue beginning a rampant assault of the most sensitive spots. He earned a low moan from Remus, and to this Sirius only hummed back with delight.
Another twelve years would not go amiss between them, not again. The next twelve years would be them, and only them, wrapped in a folly of passion to make up for all they had missed. And this was a promise each of them solemnly swore in the heaviness of their breaths in the denser air of the room around, and in the deepness of their kisses as the two intertwined.