"A Winter's Day"

As a general rule, Remus does not permit himself to reminisce. He assuages his need for nostalgia with chocolate. Nothing helps the pangs of remembering days past than an enormous slab of Honeydukes finest dark chocolate and a musty old book to lose himself in. If it weren't for his metabolism, he'd be an overweight, addicted to chocolate, bibliophile werewolf.

Remus finds that it is easier to pay attention to the mundane, everyday tasks that he comes across in his monotonous middle-aged unemployed days. If he does not dwell on the dull, boring aspects of life, he is bound to remember the vibrant and blissful days of his youth. When falling down this path to days prior, Remus can only be reminded of those two mischievous dark-haired boys that were his sun, in opposition to the dreaded moon. Thinking of James and Sirius leads to thinking about the final marauder—the lost sheep.

Remus knows that Peter is one of the critical reasons to why he lives in isolation. It was Peter who betrayed Lily and James to Voldemort. It was Peter who sentenced Sirius to twelve years in Azkaban, while Remus led his life believing that the man he loved was guilty. It was Peter who helped Voldemort rise to power again, which in turn caused Sirius' death. Peter is the reason why Remus chooses not to remember. He knows that he should be angry, betrayed, unforgiving, but he only sees the pale boy who wanted to be just like James and cook toast for the marauders for all eternity. Despite all that Peter has done, Remus cannot find it in his heart to hate him.

Remus has lost Sirius Black twice in one lifetime, and on his slightly masochistic days he wishes that if given the chance to lose him a third time, he would take it because he would at least have Sirius again for a short time. This is one of those days.

Remus knew it was going to be one of those days. One of those days when no matter how much he tells himself to not think about the past, no matter how many pounds of chocolate he eats, no matter how many tattered pages he reads, Sirius will sneak up on him when he least expects it.

It really is unfair, Remus thought, because he has tried to move on with his life. But no one ever compared to Sirius. No one understood him quite like Sirius had. And here he was, thinking about Sirius again just like he promised himself he wouldn't.

Remus ran a hand over his scarred face and sat up in his bed. His body ached from premature ailments due to his unfortunate condition and the cold of an early winter. He had dreamt of Sirius. Remus remembered vividly, pushing past a fifteen year old Harry, reaching past the veil, and pulling Sirius back from beyond the tattered material. Sirius had grinned at him as if he wasn't just about to die and leave Remus cold and alone. Sirius had embraced him; Remus could feel Sirius' strong arms around him, crushing him with his endearing love. But when he woke, he found that it was his sheets that had him in a crushing embrace not his beloved.

Remus knew it was going to be one of those days because when he dreamt of Sirius, it stayed with him throughout the day. He dressed in silence and crossed his tiny flat with socked feet to the kitchen where he made himself a cup of coffee. He stood for a moment, holding the cup between his hands to warm his frozen fingers. He reached out to the curtains that shaded the window over his sink and pulled them open.

Outside, everything was covered in a thick fluffy layer of sparkling white snow. This overnight transformation of Remus' neighborhood had brought out all the children, who despite the early hour of the morning, had already donned their snow clothes and were making snowmen and having snowball fights.

Remus' eyes fell upon a pair of boys who were laughing and pelting each other with snowballs. A smile spread across Remus' tired face as he observed them. He could hear their joyous laughter as they tackled each other into the snow. Soon though, the laughter and snow blurred into memory and it was Sirius who was tackling Remus to the ground…

Oof. The air rushed out of Remus as Sirius' pointy elbow smashed into him—or was it his head? Remus had trouble remembering the details now. He just remembered Sirius.

"What are you doing out in the open and completely unarmed when the Slytherin Snowball Army is waging war on innocent passersby? They could be anywhere and you're just walking along completely oblivious. Have you no honor, man?" Sirius asked.

The words danced above Remus in tiny puffs of smoke. Though Sirius' tone was dire, his grinning eyes betrayed him.

"I was going for a walk. And I have my wand, that's protection enough for me." Remus protested. He tried to move, but Sirius had him pinned. He could feel the snow soaking through his trousers and James' jacket (it was warmer than his bedraggled sweaters) that he had conveniently nicked earlier that morning.

Sirius reached over with his free hand and retrieved the book that had flown out of Remus' hands when he'd been thrown to the ground. "Poetry, Moony?" Sirius asked with a pained expression, though Remus could tell he was subliminally taunting him. Girl, girl, girl! Poetry, Moony? You are a girl. One of these days you're going to wake up and you'll want to wear make-up and dresses.

"Oh, don't look at me like that, Sirius. I like poetry and you just have to get over that. Now, if you please, my trousers are getting wet—"

"Remus Lupin! I never thought the day would come!" Sirius said proudly.

Remus rolled his eyes. "You know what I meant, Padfoot." He said severely.

Sirius exhaled largely and rolled off of Remus, pulling him up with him. "Yes, I know what you meant," he said, imitating Remus' voice, "I was just—oh never mind. You are no fun, you know that?"

Remus shrugged, taking back his book of poetry from Sirius' hands. Sirius shoved his hands deep into the pockets of his pants and kicked some snow with his combat boots. "Last chance to pummel the hell out of the Slytherins. James got the brilliant idea of putting dungbombs in the snowballs. Genius, Potter is. Come on, Moony, you know you want to." Sirius said playfully.

"I'll just go along by myself. You have fun." Remus said, tucking the book underneath his arm and adjusting the wooly Gryffindor scarf around his neck.

There was disappointment in Sirius' eyes, but he smiled anyway. "Alright. Enjoy your poetry. And don't forget you owe me a game of exploding snap."

Remus nodded and lifted his hand in a wave. "We can play tonight, after you've destroyed the Slytherins' snow castle." he said before walking away from Sirius….

Looking back on it, Remus wished that he had stayed. Every memory that replayed in his head was plagued with what Remus should have done when he had the chance. He should have stayed and made a fool of himself, if only to spend a few more hours with Sirius. He should have spent less time reading his books alone in the dormitories, and more time with James and Sirius planning the next prank against Snape. He should have been more vocal when it came to his true feelings for Sirius. All those wasted years of angst and worry. What if Sirius didn't feel the same? What if Sirius was just having him on? Why couldn't Sirius have just stayed at 12 Grimmauld Place on that dreaded evening instead of coming to Harry's rescue?

All the what-ifs and should-haves tortured Remus on days like these. It was why he did not want to remember, because after all, there was nothing he could do to change the past. Sure, while he was lost in the memories he was happy, but once he returned to the emptiness of his flat, he was left with nothing.

Remus sighed and poured his now tepid coffee into the sink. Coffee would not be enough on a day like this. He went over to the pantry and pulled out a slab of chocolate. He broke off a piece and let it melt slowly on his tongue. On these days, it was even hard for chocolate to ease Remus' grief. The rich, almost bitter flavor of the chocolate did nothing to warm his heart, but it did remind him of days long past. It wasn't long before the familiar taste sent him back again…

Remus shoved another piece of chocolate into his mouth. He ate chocolate compulsively whenever he was anxious, melancholy, nervous, or angry. In simpler terms, Remus ate chocolate whenever he was emotionally troubled. Remus didn't even bother swallowing before pushing the remains of the bar into his mouth.

The Marauders and the rest of the seventh years had just graduated from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and usually this would be cause for celebration. For Remus, it meant not being with his friends everyday and trying to make it in the world without them and with a rather potentially harmful condition. He wished he could suspend this moment in time so he wouldn't have to continue on. He didn't want to grow up. He wanted to stay a Marauder forever. He didn't want to leave Hogwarts and all the happy, Sirius-filled memories he had there.

Before Remus had a chance to swallow the immense glob of chocolate in his mouth, he felt himself being tugged into a dark classroom. He made a gurgling sound as he saw Sirius putting a finger to his lips.

"Shh. Let me talk." Sirius said with a seriousness that was very, for lack of a better term, un-Sirius.

That shouldn't be a problem. Remus thought cheekily, because after all, his chocolate had decided to wedge itself nicely into the back of his throat, rendering him mute. So, Remus merely stared at his friend as the chocolate threatened to cut off his air supply and Sirius looked at him oddly. There was something odd about Sirius. It was in the way that his left shoe scuffed the dirty floor of the classroom, the way his fingers twitched against his trousers, the way kept worrying his bloody lower lip with his teeth. Remus wanted to shake him.

Sirius let out a gusty laugh and looked at Remus. "You see… well… er… bollocks… I think I'm in love with you." He said rather rushed.

Remus felt his stomach drop. It was a cruel joke that he, Remus Lupin, had always been in love with Sirius Black, but had never dreamed of telling Sirius because he knew Sirius did not feel the same. And here he was, hearing Sirius tell him that he was in love with him and there was chocolate stuck in his esophagus and this was not at all how he imagined this moment to be (if it was to ever happen).

The silence drew out at deadly length while Remus tried to find his voice, and while Sirius decided to backpedal.

"You know what…I think… maybe I'm just… well… perhaps…let's just forget it, Moony." Sirius said airily.

"Yuurgh ghaavking me ohhn, Schiriuus." Remus finally spluttered.

Sirius gave him a sideways look. "What's wrong with you?" he asked.

Miraculously, the chocolate went down and Remus swallowed. "You're having me on." He repeated.

Sirius shook his head violently. "No, no I'm not. This isn't a joke. I realized it just now when I saw you out there eating your chocolate. Well, actually, I've known for a while now. Oh bollocks, it's been more than just a while. The night I sent Snape to the Shrieking Shack. When I saw you in the infirmary I just… I—I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life righting that wrong. So there, now it's out there. I love you, Remus Lupin, and it's fine if you don't love me back because, yes, this is all a little wonky for me. Can't imagine what's going through your head—"

It all came out in a wonderful blur. Remus knew that Sirius meant what he said, but he just couldn't believe that it was really happening. The moment Remus had fallen for Sirius was earlier than Sirius' moment, but none of it mattered anymore. Words were still spilling from Sirius' mouth, but Remus was no longer listening. He wanted Sirius to just shut up.

"I love you, too."

"And you don't have to worry about—what?"

Remus smiled and stepped closer to Sirius. "Honestly, you didn't know?" Remus asked. He lifted a hand, unthinkingly, his knuckles grazing Sirius' flawless jaw.

"Er."

Remus chuckled. "It's okay, Sirius. You can kiss me now."

Sirius groaned and lurched forward, pressing his lips to Remus'. It was the best feeling in the world, Remus had thought, to have the boy he loved love him back. He moved his arms around Sirius' neck and kissed him back.

Sirius pulled back a little to catch his breath, leaning his forehead against Remus'. "God, Moony, you taste like chocolate." He breathed before nipping another kiss.

"You know, I never thought this day would come," Remus whispered against Sirius' neck as Sirius crushed him in a hug, "but what will the others think?"

Sirius stepped back, his eyes alight. "James and Peter? They're happy! Elated that I've come to my senses!"

"You told them before you told me?" Remus asked.

Sirius shrugged with a mischievous smirk. "You never would agree to it otherwise." He said cryptically.

"Agree to what otherwise?" Remus asked. Boy, was Sirius just a box full of surprises this evening.

"Come live with me at my flat. I know there's a draft and cockroaches the size of obese cats, but we can make it a home. I don't want to live there alone and—"

Remus silenced Sirius with another kiss. When he pulled away, Sirius looked at him with a smile. "You're not letting me get a word in again. Justifying before I've even had a chance to answer." He said.

"So, does this mean—"

"I'd love to come live with you, Pads, even with the cockroaches." Remus said.

Sirius was grinning like a madman and it was infectious. Sirius took Remus by the hand and pulled him from the classroom. "C'mon! We've got to tell the others!"

Thus began their short-lived, but albeit unforgettable, romance. But it hadn't lasted long enough before Sirius was taken from Remus for the first time…

This was not at all how Remus had planned to spend his day. He wiped a tear away from his cheek and walked back to his lonely bedroom. There was no use trying to erase Sirius from his memory. He would always be there. Hiding stealthily behind long forgotten memories just ready to pop out at Remus when he didn't expect it.

Remus crouched beside his bed and pulled out a large, dusty shoebox. Once a resting place for his father's loafers, now a place where Remus stored his past. He rarely opened the shoebox anymore for it exuded all things Sirius and reminiscing was supposed to be forbidden. Remus ran his fingers over the tattered edges of the box and his breath caught in his throat. This box contained his childhood and his adulthood, Christmas cards and Valentines from holidays long ago. He had charmed the shoebox in his sixth year at Hogwarts to have an infinite capacity so he was able to store everything that reminded him of Sirius in it.

He lifted the box and placed it on his bed. He sat down next to it, took a lingering breath, and removed the lid. His heart was already in a vice when his coffee-colored eyes fell upon the scraps of paper and the moving photographs. There was his favorite picture of James with Lily's bra on his face (Sirius' doing) and that one of Peter on Valentine's Day (poor old bloke, pink really was bad for his complexion). Remus shifted past pictures of himself and his three best friends, some would wave at him, while others winked or smiled. Finally, he found what he was searching for.

He took the photograph from the shoebox and lay back onto the bed. He smiled at the two young boys in the photo. A ten-year-old Sirius had his arms wrapped around Remus in one of his crushing hugs. The dark-haired boy grinned at Remus from the glossy paper before nuzzling the Remus in the photograph. Remus closed his eyes and could feel Sirius there with him. He remembered that day in their first year when James had decided to snap a few photographs for his mum.

Remus let the picture fall to his chest as a tiny, choked sob escaped him. He was a glutton for punishment. He knew that opening the shoebox would only make the pain worse. But then again, something about the shoebox made him feel whole again. It returned him to that place when everything revolved around Sirius.

He lifted the photograph again and looked at Sirius. Maybe reminiscing wasn't all that bad, he thought to himself. His memory would always be there with him; he wouldn't want it to ever leave, despite the grief it caused him. These pictures, the notes, and his memories of Sirius were a tender, warm light on this lonely, winter's day.

A/N: Major shout out to the Shoebox Project (the best Marauder-era fic there is. It's good enough to be canon. check it out, honestly!) Also, this was inspired by The Shin's "Pink Bullets," one of the most R/S songs I've ever heard. Thanks for the reviews!