Remus could hear the children squealing with delight as he trudged through the woods. His heart hung as heavy as his briefcase that swung by his side. For thirteen whole years, he had been alone, thinking the worst of his former friend. He paused, his feet not wanting to step another step, as though his heart was too heavy to carry.
He pinched the bridge of his nose as if trying to will away the thoughts that thundered in his mind. He glanced up as a horn pierced the country air, he watched as the smoke from the Hogwarts express floated away in the distance, leaving a fading trail in the late afternoon.
Part of him was sad to watch it go, the rest of him was thankful for not having to remember the past.
“Need a lift?” Came a croaky voice behind him. His heart jumped to his throat, they weight of it throwing him backwards, tripping him to the floor. Looking up he saw the piercing grey eyes buried in waxy skin and wiry hair.
“Merlin, Moony!” Sirius smiled as he offered the taller man his hand.
Remus glanced at it and then at his friend’s face again before gripping it. His heart thudded in his chest as he got back to his feet. Something must have shown on his face as Sirius’s eyes darted away shyly.
“What are you doing here?” Remus hissed as he looked around, terrified suddenly that the dementors would descend again. He pushed his friend into the darkening trees and back under cover.
“I couldn’t leave, not without seeing you, alone!” His eyes darted up to Remus’s and then away again, as if afraid of what he would see.
“Me?” Remus asked quietly.
“Yes, Moony!” a ghost of Sirius’s handsome grin appeared before it was lost again in the hair of his beard.
“Why?” Remus whispered in reply. He felt like they were teenagers again. As if they hadn’t made their feelings clear long ago, in a darkened common room.
“Why?” Sirius scoffed.
“Why would you want to see me? After the way I’ve treated you?” Remus asked, turning away, not wanting to see the anger in those cool, grey eyes.
“Moony” Sirius’s hand brushed his arm. Remus didn’t move, almost too scared to breathe.
“I should go” He whispered again.
“Moony!” Sirius said, firmer than before, drawing Remus’s eyes back to him. “Don’t…please!”
Remus was surprised to see water welling in his eyes. “Don’t walk away from me, Moony” He snorted derisively “I couldn’t bear it again.”
Remus felt his body turn and before he had consciously thought about it, the shorter man was in his arms.
“I’m so sorry” He whispered as he felt Sirius shake in his arms. “Dumbledore said you betrayed us. I was so angry with you.”
The stood for what felt like an eternity, as the cooling air surrounded them. Both healing and breaking over and over as they embraced each other. Sirius muttered something against Remus’s chest.
“Sorry?” Remus asked as they pulled away.
“I forgive you” Sirius smiled, his eyes watery and bloodshot. “And I’m sorry.”
“What could you possibly be sorry for?”
“For leaving you alone,” Sirius looked down nervously. “Are you? What I mean to say is-” His hands began to twist and fidget, his eyes looking away.
Remus shook his head drawing Sirius’s gaze.
“There has never been anyone else” it was his turn to look away. “Not for me.”
A warm hand pressed against his bruised cheek. He looked down into Sirius’s face, blind to the ravages of time and Azkaban. Sirius would always be the roguishly handsome prankster who had stolen his heart.
Remus closed his eyes with a shuddering breath as their lips touched. He didn’t dare breathe just in case this was another of his waking dreams. One of the many, which had haunted him for over a decade. Hands pressed them together, tighter. Remus felt a growl shudder through him, the wolf stirring within him as his possessive, predatory nature reared.
Mine. There was no other word for the feeling. They separated slowly, bashfully.
“It’s getting dark,” Sirius said quietly. “Do you need a lift?”
Remus laughed for the first time in what felt like a lifetime. “Calm down, Padfoot!”. Sirius smirked.
“I meant a lift home” he replied with a quirked eyebrow.
“How?” Remus asked cautiously, knowing some of the Marauders more nefarious plots had been his doing.
“I travel in style now, Moony!” He smiled as he led Remus further into the forest “I travel by Hippogriff, these days!”
“Ah, I see that Miss Granger’s time-turner was put to good use this year then.”
“Genius witch!” Sirius nodded “Harry too, James and Lily would be so proud!”
They both nodded solemnly before Buckbeak appeared through the trees.
“Come on Moony, I just want to go home, have a bath and let you feed me chocolate.”
“Mmm,” Remus replied, “I’m sure that we can come to some sort of arrangement.”
Sirius nodded to Buckbeak in the fading light and waited. After a few moments, Buckbeak replied in kind and Sirius approached and mounted. He lowered a hand to Remus who grasped it without a second thought.
Once they were both seated, Buckbeak launched them high into the air. Remus wrapped his arms around Sirius as they cleared the surrounding mountains.
In the distance, the sky had transformed into a smouldering mass of clouds and sunlight as the sun lowered itself behind the horizon. Remus sighed for a moment, letting all his troubles wash away as they were bathed in that last rays of the sunset.
Remus didn’t know what the future held, however, he hoped that the loneliness was finally over, at least for now.