The cat is named Cat, because Sirius's imagination is better spent on pranks and things of that nature. Cat does not seem to mind her new name, if the way she curls up in Sirius's lap is any indication. Remus leans his chin in his hand and smirks as Padfoot and Cat roll about on the floor together. Two creatures, Remus thinks, forgotten in dark places and now rescued and thriving.
He laughs when Cat makes a kill of Padfoot's ear, and the dog lays its head patiently on the floor and allows himself to be gnawed upon.
"Cat," says Sirius afterward, once he's changed back and they've had dinner, and his charge is sleeping on one of Remus's pillows. "It's a stupid name isn't it?"
"Not particularly creative," Remus says thoughtfully, "but very precise."
Sirius rolls over and watches the cat sleep. His feet are in Remus's lap and it is very hard for Remus not to tickle at them with the business end of his quill. "She ought to have a proper name." Sirius touches the tip of her tail with his finger. "A full name."
Remus looks at him. "Have you a proper name, then?" he asks.
"Unfortunately." Sirius rolls his eyes. "It's horrible. My name is so long it goes off into another county. Has it's own weather system, my name."
"Well, go on then!" Remus laughs, and he does end up poking his quill at Sirius's foot. "Tell us what it is."
"No!" Sirius squeaks and shifts, hiding his feet beneath Remus's legs. "You'll laugh. Worse, you might tell James, and then I'll never hear the end of it."
"You will!" Sirius frowns. "You'll tell him and the next thing I know, it'll be written up on the boards in Transfiguration. Though," Sirius adds with a sigh, "perhaps old Minerva can show me how to Transfigure it into something a bit smaller?"
Remus snickers. "Go on," he says. "Tell me. I promise not to tell. I'm good at secrets, you see."
Sirius hums. "You are." He scratches his head. "Are you absolutely positive you won't tell?"
"Absolutely." Remus raises his right hand. "I solemnly swear."
"Right," says Sirius with a bright smile. "All right then. My full name..."
Remus leans in.
"My full name," says Sirius, "is SiriusMizarBetelgueseMuliphenBlack." He says it in one breath, and all the names run together but Remus can still pick them out. His eyes widen.
"You're joking," he says. "That's your full name?"
Sirius groans. "Tragic, isn't it? Bloody tradition, firstborn son and all that." He rolls onto his back and stares at the ceiling, his long black hair spread out all around him like some sort of reverse supernova. "It's my name, plus a cousin and a grandfather, I think."
Remus stares. "...Betelguese?" he says, trying not to laugh. Sirius scowls and kicks at him.
"Shut up! S'not funny!"
"Of course it isn't," says Remus, but he's smiling. "Your name is long but at least it's more interesting than Remus John."
Sirius sits up a bit. "Is that it?" he asks. Remus sighs and nods, feeling for the first time that it is a rather shortish name.
"Well," says Sirius. "I'm sorry."
"It's all right," says Remus. "It doesn't matter." He grins. "At least I'm not called Betelguese."
He doesn't even see the pillow coming.
It's the night before the night before they go back to school, and Remus is fitful. He ought to be sleeping, and Sirius certainly is. He's wrapped around Remus from behind and snoring away into his ear. Cat is somewhere south, around their feet, stretched out in a way that somehow makes her seem twice her size. It's very comfortable in Remus's bed and yet, he still can't sleep.
He wonders if it will continue, once they're back in school, this business with Sirius. Remus hopes that it will but he finds it highly unlikely, because Sirius will of course be very busy with pranks, and James and Quidditch, and all of those things. And Remus knows now what it means to be what they are, and what other people think of it.
No, he thinks, snuggling down into the blankets and tightening his grip on Sirius's arm, it won't do at all to be like this at Hogwarts. He shuts his eyes against the thought that he has only one more night of this closeness, of the breath at his back and the taste of Sirius on his tongue. He doesn't know what he's going to do, when all he has is an empty bed and air in his mouth.
Remus starts, and twists round. Sirius is blinking at him, his eyes flinty and fuzzy with sleep. "Padfoot?" he whispers. "What're you doing awake?"
Sirius shifts and rubs his nose on Remus's shoulder. "You're all fidgety," he murmurs. "What're you fidgeting about?"
"Nothing," says Remus. "Go back to sleep, Pads. We have to pack tomorrow."
"Wasn't nothing," Sirius grunted. "You're worrying about something."
"Are too," says Sirius, and he gives Remus a pinch. "Cut it out."
Remus wriggles. "Stop pinching me."
"Right." Sirius sits up suddenly, rubbing his eyes and shoving his hair out of his face. He scratches his belly and smacks his lips, and looks around the room before sliding out of bed and stumbling over to the window.
"Sirius?" Remus frowns. "What're you doing?"
Sirius doesn't answer. He lifts the window open, taking a deep breath when the heady scent of a dying summer drifts into the bedroom. Remus can smell it too, even from the bed - the heather and the moss, the smell of the nearby river, the faint odor of cows. It's a pleasant smell somehow, and Remus finds himself leaning toward it, sniffing. He watches Sirius curiously.
"Come here." Sirius beckons him over with just his fingers. "Come here, Moony."
Remus slips out of bed and goes to where Sirius stands, leaning against the sill and looking outside. It is a very clear night, not a cloud in the sky and a thousand stars to show for it. The moon is long gone, and Remus is glad of that.
"What am I looking at?" Remus asks. He shivers when he looks out at the trees and the barn, because darkness always turns them from harmless things to shapes in shadow, and he can't help being somewhat frightened of them.
He hears a rustling behind him and when he turns it's Sirius brandishing a broom, a wicked smile on his face. Before Remus can say anything Sirius leans in and whispers, urgently into Remus's ear. "All the time we've been here," he says, "and we've never once flown. You don't fly."
Remus swallows. "I don't like to fly," he says softly. Sirius laughs.
"That," Sirius says, and he puts the broom into Remus's hands, "is because you've never flown with me."
At once Remus is turned back toward the window, and Sirius stands behind him. Remus can feel Sirius's breath in the shell of his ear, tickling.
"Let's fly," says Sirius. "While we still can. Forget whatever it is you're worrying about, and just fly with me. Okay, Moony?"
Remus nods. "Okay," he whispers. "Okay."
The broom is beneath him, and he feels it lifting him slowly off the floor. Sirius is on it as well, behind him, his arms around Remus and holding Remus's hands firmly against the broomstick. The room is so silent, even the crickets seem to be holding their breath. Remus is.
Sirius leans forward.
"Fly," he says.
At once they launch from the window and out into the sky. Remus is so terrified he can't even scream, and that is a good thing because he doesn't want to wake his parents. He doesn't want it to end, this terrible thrill of hurtling through the air, skimming the treetops with his feet. Sirius laughs behind him and in the distance a dog barks in reply.
"North!" Sirius shouts suddenly. "Go north!"
"Which way is north?"
Sirius laughs. "Who cares?"
They soar over the farm, past the cows and the pastures, past the creek and the place where the funfair had been. There are no autos on the roads below and no one to see them, not at this hour of the night. The broom suddenly darts higher and Remus can't tell if it's him or Sirius that's doing it. All he knows is that they are rising, faster and faster, closer to the darkness though the stars never change.
"Are you still worried?" Sirius shouts over the roar of the wind. "Still fidgety?"
"No!" Remus leans back against him, causing the broom to shudder and veer to the left. "Yes! I'm worried that I'll be sick!"
Sirius laughs. "Can't have that! Let's land there, just there." He points to a spot, and it's then that Remus smells seawater. They have reached the sea.
He's shivering when they touch down, having left in nothing but pyjama bottoms. Sirius is in shorts and not much better off, but he doesn't say anything. They stand on a grassy cliff and the ocean roars below them, slapping at the rocks. Remus's breath is caught on the breeze and taken away, and he reaches blindly for Sirius's hand to steady him.
"Moony." Sirius gives his hand a squeeze. "What're you worried about?"
"This." Remus looks at him. "School. We- Will we still be..." He doesn't ask the question because he can see the answer in the curve of Sirius's smile. "Oh. We will, then?"
"Of course we will," says Sirius. "You idiot. Of course we will."
Remus allows himself a little grin. "Oh. Okay."
"You idiot," Sirius says again, putting his arms around Remus and kissing him, and Remus feels a little bit insane because he's standing on a cliff, and he doesn't know where he is, and he's i kissing /i this boy on this cliff, and it's in the middle of the night and he i hasn't any shoes on /i . The summer is over, and Remus is freezing.
Against his chest Sirius's heart beats like a bird trying to come out of its egg.
"Let's go home," he says.
They fly back and Remus is so tired that they've barely landed in the bedroom before he's collapsed on his bed half-asleep. Cat is there, looking cross and wondering where her bed-warmers had got to.
"Sorry," Sirius mumbles to her, and Remus feels himself being arranged under the blankets, Sirius's warmth following him under. When Sirius moves closer Remus turns, puts his nose to Sirius's hair and breathes. He smells seawater, and flight.
"Thank you," he murmurs, curling up into Sirius and sighing. "Clever Sirius." He giggles sleepily. "Goodnight, clever Sirius..."
He feels the thrum of Sirius's chuckle.
"The cleverness of me," he yawns.
They sleep, and the summer ends.