With a big thankyou to Enelya and evalanis for beta-ing nearly all these chapters. :)
"Sirius, get up."
"What is it?"
Sirius rolled out of bed, rubbing his eyes as he padded across the cold floor, following Remus to the back door. Remus pushed the door open and held it there for Sirius. Sirius shivered as he stepped out into the cold, Northern air. He felt himself wrapped in warm arms from behind.
"How long have you been up?" He asked, spying an empty teacup and one of Remus's numerous novels.
"A while," said Remus. "But I thought you should have a look." He loosened one of his arms to point over to where the clouds had broken away from the horizon, revealing a spread of stars on the moonless, overcast night. Sirius, after years of not seeing the sky, had to admit to its beauty, but he didn't feel it quite warranted a midnight wakeup call.
"It's lovely," he told Remus. There was a certain lack of conviction that Remus found very unnerving. He turned Sirius about to look in his face.
"You don't seem very impressed." He teased lightly. When the kitchen light, shining out through the open door, caught on Sirius's eyes, Remus nearly jumped. They were all but dead. The poem-worthy sight Remus had wanted to share was all but wasted on Sirius.
He hugged Sirius again and nudged his neck in a very wolf-like manner. Eventually he found a response when he was hugged back.
"I'm sorry you had to go through all of that." He whispered.
Sirius was silent. Remus hugged tighter.
"I really am. And I'm sorry that I let it happen and I'm sorry that I didn't believe you and-" he choked briefly and hugged Sirius tighter. "I really am, Padfoot, so sorry."
"You've been going through hell once a month since you were eight. I'm sorry about that." Said Sirius simply.
"Don't be ridiculous. That's not the same."
"Because you're not haunted by fear? You don't get a sudden and unavoidable rush of emotion when you see the moon?" Sirius asked sarcastically. "Or is it because you still feel emotions, and I don't?"
Remus flinched and stepped back. There was nothing in Sirius's eyes, not even anger, despite his words. Remus sat down where he had been reading earlier and looked out at the mountains.
After a moment Sirius sighed and knelt down in front of Remus, taking both of his hands.
"It'll get better, Moony." He said. "It has to get better."
"Yes." Remus whispered. "Yet sometimes it gets a lot worse first."
Sirius stood up pulling Remus with him. Sirius smiled and kissed Remus's forehead, and Remus fancied he could see a light in Sirius's eyes, however faint.
"Remember what James used to say?" Sirius asked. "Smile when you're down."
"Chances are your problem's not that big anyway." Remus replied, remembering at the same time the encouraging expression James always wore when he used to say it.
"That's right," Sirius said. "Now hold tight."
Remus felt the familiar, awkward sensation of apparition and then he felt very cold. He looked about him and understood his sudden coolness to be a result of standing up in the foothills of the mountains they had just been observing.
Sirius conjured up boots and long, warm coats for each of them, and then held out his hand for Remus's.
"Where are we going?" Remus asked, warily taking Sirius's hand.
"Up the hill." Sirius said. Remus saw a trace of the old, mischievous trademark Sirius smile before they began their trek.
"You mean the mountain?" Remus asked, suddenly appalled.
"Hill, mountain it's all the same." Sirius said.
"Race you to the top."
"Definitely daft." Remus laughed. "You're on!"
And there upon the mountain that evening, two absurdly immature near-middle-aged men chased each other, laughing like the children they were (at heart). They ran all of two hundred odd metres before one of them apparated to the top, shortly followed by the other, where they fell to the ground and laughed until they cried. Then they lay upon the freezing, icy rocks until the cold reached them and they apparated back home. There they fell asleep sometime later, snuggled together on the couch. Not, one should note, before the words 'I think you've got fleas again' and 'I love you' were exchanged.