1. A place where one lives; a residence.
Remus had lived in the small cottage most of his adult life and with the exception of a few stray cats that came and went, he had always lived alone. He knew intimately the cracks of his ceiling, the chipping tiles in the bathroom, and which of the front porch stairs was loose. The house was worn but held up over the years against storms, floods and the occasional blizzard. It had always been enough for Remus. It was home.
The yellow paint in the bathroom was faded just enough from sunlight to match the robin's egg blue tiles. The curtains were getting worn but when they were partially closed they let in the perfect amount of sunlight on a Sunday morning for a fantastic soak in the tub with a novel. This was precisely what Remus was doing when there was a pecking at the dusty window. He nearly dropped his book into the soapy water in alarm but managed to save it just in time. He sighed softly and set the novel on the wicker end table beside the tub. Wrapping a towel around himself hastily he pulled the window open and let the tawny owl inside. It dropped the letter into his outstretched hand and settled itself on the edge of the tub. Remus gave him a pointed look that told him not to even think about having a bath before opening the letter (addressed to: Remus J. Lupin, The Clawfoot Tub in the Yellow Bathroom, The Cottage Over the Hill, Rottingdean, East Sussex.)
You should be aware that you may have a visitor within the next couple weeks. This old friend will most likely be travelling on foot and will be quite weary by the time he arrives at your doorstep. Please see that he gets fed and looked after. I will be in touch.
P.S. While I know I do not need to remind you of this, it might be wise not to believe everything one reads, especially when The Prophet is concerned. The truth will be revealed in time.
Remus rubbed his forehead and set the letter on top of his book. He was not entirely surprised when after a moment it fizzed before disappearing with a soft pop.
"I don't have anything to give you," he told the owl regretfully before removing his towel and settling back into the bath. The owl soon took off through the window with a dignified squawk and Remus moved his hand to pick up his novel once more. He started to pick it up before setting it back down and settling instead for staring at the chipped blue tile on the wall.
Old friend… Sirius? Sirius was coming to stay? He must have meant Sirius; he was Remus' only old friend or at least the only one who would travel by foot. Sirius was coming soon. The very thought simultaneously filled him with anticipation and dread. He wanted to see Sirius, of course he did, but he was also filled with something that vaguely resembled fear and anxiety. The last time he had seen Sirius and they had touched, the very action was enough to warm his entire body. Feeling his body against Sirius' had felt like a layer of ice melting off his weary bones. It had felt like home.
2. To move or lead towards a goal
Sirius barely paused at the crossroads before deciding on left and taking off at a jaunt. He was getting closer, he could feel it. He felt like he could almost smell Remus and that spurred him on until he was going at an all out run, his four paws pounding on the near-dirt road. Remus Remus Remus Remus, he thought with every stride.
He slowed when he heard what sounded like running water and paused for a moment, cocking his head in the direction it was loudest. Sure enough he could hear a bubbling stream coming from somewhere in the woods and he ran towards it, dodging the low branches and manoeuvring through the underbrush. Before he could go any further he needed a drink. A bath wouldn't hurt either, he thought to himself as he lapped up the cool, clear water. He waded into the water, upsetting the waterfowl that were bobbing on the water's surface. The cool water felt nice running through his thick coat, and it was only the thought that he was almost at Remus' cottage that forced him out of the stream and back onto the road. Feeling rejuvenated, he took off at a run once more, knowing he was close.
As he ran, he thought of Remus' reaction to his arrival. He wondered if Dumbledore had told him he was coming and if so, would Remus be happy to see him? While a part of him knew Remus would of course be pleased to see him, another part of him swam with doubts and questions. In Azkaban, he had had recurring thoughts and dreams that he and Remus were… more than friends. Now, here in the sunshine, on his way to Remus' house, the thought seemed preposterous – another fantasy made up by his lonely, demented mind. He would just ask Remus when he got there what the nature of their relationship was before Azkaban. On second thought, that seemed much easier said than done. He was supposed to know these things. Think, Padfoot, think, he scolded himself.
He could remember… a brush of skin, the feeling of scar tissue – no, just one scar – beneath his fingers. He closed his eyes and slowed his pace. He could almost remember a gasp, a moaned name. He growled in frustration. He couldn't possibly ask Remus if they had made love like he remembered it. If the answer was no he would be embarrassed. If the answer was yes, he would still be embarrassed that he couldn't fully remember what was obviously an intense experience, if the brief vivid snapshots in his mind were real.
Fuck, Padfoot, Remus moaned in his head and Sirius whined, feeling so close to uncovering something, so close. He inhaled a deep breath and ran faster.
3. A valued place regarded as a refuge
For weeks Remus listened for scratching at his door. His ears became tuned so that anything even slightly resembling a bark perked his attention.
During the days he worked on getting the cottage in tip-top shape. The cracked tiles that seemed to have character before now seemed old and worn. The faded wallpaper seemed tacky and the garden didn't seem so much natural as simply overgrown.
Of course there was only so much he could do. He couldn't afford new tiling, flooring or carpets. He certainly couldn't afford new furniture and there wasn't enough time to completely weed the garden. Still, by the time three weeks had rolled by, Remus could look around and be proud of his home.
The only problem was that now that he didn't have home repairs to occupy his mind, it was taken up entirely worrying over Sirius. Was he okay? Was he hurt? What had Azkaban done to him? Would he remember everything? Would he remember… them?
The last question occupied his mind most of all. He couldn't exactly say to Sirius, 'oh by the way, just before you went away to Azkaban we started shagging. Would you like to recommence?' Even when they had started fooling around (seemed so long ago) they hadn't talked about it. It was almost as if one day they weren't shagging and the next they were, as if it was just the natural progression of things. The issue of what they were doing had only come up once when Remus asked Sirius if James knew that they were… doing… things. Sirius gave a sort of shrug and a nod and Remus didn't worry on it.
Now though he wished they had at least come up with a name for it, apart from 'that thing they did'. He gave a wry grin as he imagined a conversation with Sirius consisting of him describing their sex life as 'that thing they did' and Sirius asking him if he meant the dishes.
He ran a hand through his greying hair and sat down heavily in the woollen armchair.
Who knew if Sirius would even be capable of that anymore? Just say 'sex', Lupin, he scolded himself. Surely if he could say 'Voldemort' he could admit that he had been having sex with one of his best friends. Sex. Shagging. Fucking. Sleeping together. Fornicating… Making love. There, that's better.
Of course even just thinking about fucking Sirius had made him hard and painfully aware of how long it had been since he'd last been in bed with another man. He was just unbuttoning his trousers when there was a scratching at his wooden door.
Of all the times to arrive, he thought irritably before being flooded with guilt. He buttoned up his trousers with trembling hands and pulled open the door.
The large black ball of matted fur in front of him wiggled a bit before placing two giant paws on his chest and licking at his neck.
"Down, down," Remus said, laughing. He looked down at the muddy paw prints on his white shirt. At least some things didn't change.
"Come on in, we'll get you bathed," Remus said with a smile that faded a little when he realised he had used the word we.
He closed the door behind Sirius and watched as the dog turned into an Azkaban-ravaged man.
"Good to see you," Sirius said gruffly before pulling Remus into a hug.
"You too," Remus said before letting go of Sirius and stepping back.
"You mentioned a bath?" Sirius said with a hopeful smile.
"Of course, just through here," Remus said, leading the way to the yellow bathroom.
"There's some things I need to tell you about Harry and the Final Task," Sirius said, hesitating in the doorway.
"Later. I got the idea from the Prophet and Dumbledore's letters. Get clean first; you must be tired."
"I am," Sirius admitted.
"Just leave your clothes on the floor, I'll leave clean ones outside the door," Remus told him before turning to leave. He heard a faint 'thank you' before he closed the door.
It was twenty-five or thirty minutes before Sirius came out of the bathroom, just when Remus was starting to worry he'd drowned himself in the bath. Remus' clothes, which would have been a bit tight on him twelve years ago, were visibly loose and Sirius hugged his arms to his body as if trying to disguise this fact.
He wouldn't quite meet Remus' eyes as he took in the living room, something resembling familiarity flickering just beyond his eyes.
"I've been here before," he said slowly and Remus nodded. They had come here once the summer after school was out, just the two of them.
Sirius walked to the bookshelf and ran his hand lightly over the spines of the worn leather books. He looked at the pictures in the frames before turning his gaze to the couch in the middle of the room. The couch where we first made love, Remus' mind supplied unhelpfully.
Remus tensed as Sirius walked towards it slowly, a look of slow dawning on his face. He ran his hand over the back of it gently, his eyes still searching.
"Did we…," he started, glancing up at Remus desperately for confirmation.
Remus let out a breath he didn't realise he'd been holding and nodded.
He was not prepared for the sob that broke from Sirius' lips despite his attempt to hide it with his hand. Nor was Remus prepared when Sirius crossed the room in two steps and enveloped him in a tight embrace.
"I didn't think it was real," he said over and over into Remus' hair. There was a wetness against Remus' neck that he didn't think was entirely due to Sirius' wet hair.
Remus shushed him gently and smoothed down his knotted hair. "It's okay now, it was real," he murmured and held onto Sirius tightly while he shuddered in his arms. "It was real."
When Sirius pulled back, his eyes were still overly bright and shining with wetness.
"Can it be real again?" he asked softly.
Remus nodded, relief flooding his entire body.
4. The place where something is discovered, founded, developed, or promoted; a source.
Remus nodded and Sirius felt as though a weight were lifted from his burdened shoulders. For a moment they stood facing one another and Sirius became aware of the wetness on his face, of his skinny frame and time-ravaged body. He cursed his trembling hands as he reached out and cupped Remus' lightly stubbled face. Remus sighed softly before stepping into Sirius' touch and slowly – ever so slowly, as if wanting to prolong the very moment – tilting his head and leaning forwards so his lips brushed Sirius'.
It was something both had done dozens or hundreds of times but at that moment it was as if all those kisses had been brushed from the slate and they were starting again anew. Sirius' hand cupping Remus' check slid to the back of his neck and settled in the wispy curls that collected there. Remus rested his hands gently on Sirius' waist as they kissed languidly, getting reacquainted with the tastes and feels of each other's mouths.
For a moment Sirius thought he could live in this kiss forever until a low moan escaped Remus, sending a shock down his entire spine and making him instantly hard. As if Remus had felt it too, the hands that were resting gently on his waist tightened and then after a moment's hesitation, started pulling loose the shirt out of Sirius' trousers.
Sirius responded in turn, tightening his hand around the back of Remus' neck and pulling them together. He could feel Remus' hardness through his trousers and he drew in a quick breath as Remus started on the first button.
Suddenly he pulled back and looked Sirius in the eye. "Is this okay?" he asked. Sirius nodded fervently. "Don't stop," he added, and was pleased when Remus flashed him a grin before leaning forward to kiss him once more.
"I missed this so much," he murmured, pulling back for a moment and resting his forehead against Sirius'.
"You have no idea," Sirius murmured in reply, stealing another kiss from Remus' slightly open mouth.
"I was afraid you'd have forgotten," Remus said softly, so softly Sirius almost didn't catch it.
"How could I forget this, Remus?" Sirius said quietly, a hand gently stroking the curve of Remus' back. "How could I possibly forget you?"
"I don't --" Remus started to say, but was interrupted by Sirius' tongue tracing his bottom lip. "Sirius…," he said in that low breathy voice that Sirius had almost forgotten. Sirius ran his tongue along Remus' bottom lip again before kissing down to his jaw. He licked the curve of Remus' jaw, coaxing a low sigh from Remus' lips. As he kissed up to Remus' earlobe, it came back to him in a thousand small hints what Remus liked, what would make Remus writhe and moan. He smiled around Remus' ear as he bit down and was rewarded with a sharp gasp. Oh, he was remembering. He traced Remus' earlobe with his tongue and teeth to the tune of Remus' breathy groans before Remus murmured, "just fuck me" and undid Sirius entirely.
"You want me to…?"
"Fuck me," Remus said again, his voice dripping with lust. This wasn't part of the Remus Lupin Sirius remembered, but he liked it. He liked it a lot.
"God yes," was all Sirius could say before he pushed Remus against the wall roughly. The frames on the bookshelf teetered in protest but did not fall over. Remus undid his buttons quickly, sometimes just ripping them off in his hurry to rid Sirius of his clothes. Sirius tried to do the same but his hands shook slightly until Remus placed his own hands on Sirius', stilling him.
"Let me," was all he said before he undid the buttons of his shirt and tossed it onto the floor. Sirius traced his fingers over Remus' chest reverently, bowing his head to kiss at a new scar or to lick at Remus' nipple. A whisper of a memory came back to him as he took Remus' nipple between his teeth and bit down gently.
"Fuck, Padfoot," Remus moaned, his hand coming to rest in Sirius' hand and it was as if all the pieces were sliding into place and the cracks in his memory were being filled in. This was where he was meant to be, he was sure of it.
He startled when Remus tugged lightly on his hair, but he was only pulling Sirius up towards him so he could kiss him. He tangled his hands in Sirius' hair and kissed him hard, their teeth clacking together for a moment. Sirius pushed him against the wall once more and this time the picture frames did topple over in a metallic crash that Sirius didn't concern himself with. He was only concerned with the feeling of Remus hard against him, writhing against him and moaning into his mouth.
The time of languid kisses and exploration was gone, now it was half kisses to corners of smiles and hot open mouths panting in lust.
Sirius had almost forgotten what it was like to have another human being touch him. It was dizzying, feeling Remus' hands on his body, and he abandoned concentration just to feel his touch. He was brought to by the sharp painful pleasure of Remus biting down on his neck.
"I'm going to --" Sirius gasped, trying to hold onto this pleasure, trying to prolong the feeling of Remus rubbing against him, seeking friction like two schoolboys in a back hallway.
"Come," Remus whispered and stroked Sirius through his trousers until Sirius came with a helpless moan, his eyes squeezed closed, pleasure flooding through his body.
"There," Remus was saying and stroking his hair when he opened his eyes. There was a hint of a smile on his lips and when Sirius was finally able to meet his eyes he saw the semblance of mischief.
"It's been a while," Sirius muttered, embarrassed. He buried his head in the crook of Remus' neck.
"It's okay," Remus said, "we have time to practice. Maybe next time we'll even make it to the bed," he added with a gently teasing smile. Sirius let out a snort of laughter.
"Maybe we can make it to the bedroom right now," he said, his mouth curling into a smile.
5. An environment offering security and happiness.
When Remus awoke, it took him a moment to get acquainted. A few things were different. For one, he was incredibly sore and it wasn't full moon. For another, he felt incredibly satisfied and when he went to turn over, he was met with another body. Well. That explained the first two things anyway.
He laid in bed a few minutes while everything came flooding back to him. Sirius had arrived. Sirius still remembered. Sirius (incredibly, in his opinion) still wanted him after all these years. They had… fucked. Had sex. Made love. All of the above.
He carefully rolled over so he was facing Sirius, who was still asleep. He had changed greatly over the past years. His cheekbones were sharper, the circles under his eyes were darker and there were small wrinkles Remus didn't recognise. Still, as he slept he was as beautiful as he had ever been. Remus couldn't help himself; he leaned over and kissed him softly on the cheek.
Sirius' eyes flickered open and Remus saw a moment of panic cross them before he registered where he was and with whom.
"'Morning," Sirius replied gruffly. A slow smile crept onto his features which Remus couldn't help but return.
"Mmm." Sirius threw an arm over Remus and pulled him towards him. "I did actually."
"Good," Remus replied, settling into Sirius' embrace.
"I could get used to this," Sirius murmured into Remus' neck.
"So could I," said Remus softly, closing his eyes. "So could I."