Ring the Bell In the Rain
It had started to pour with rain not five minutes ago. Bucketing, and Remus stood on the in-side of the door waiting to open it for the person he knew was on the out-side of the door but not opening it until that person rang the doorbell because, if he opened it before then, that person would know he had been standing here and would know, then, that he had been watching him stand outside his door for the past ten minutes, debating whether or not to ring the doorbell in the pouring rain. He had considered opening it under the pretence of going out for a walk, but then the rain had started and only a maniac would wander about in this weather. Well, a maniac or a person who was being very indecisive about ringing the damned bell!
So he sat, with his back to the door and a mini-map of his house, one of four prototypes they had constructed while working on the Hogwarts one (just completed earlier that year), and watched the little dot labelled 'Sirius Black' wander back and forth outside his front door. At long last the dot stopped and the doorbell rang.
"Sirius!" Remus exclaimed as he opened the door to find a soaking-wet, ruggedly handsome young man standing on his front doorstep.
"Moony," Sirius said and forced a rather pathetic smile. He had dallied too long, he decided, outside Remus' door and was now soaking wet and frozen to the core.
"Remus? Who's at the door?" Mrs. Lupin called, and Remus had to smile before he replied.
"Just a wet stray dog, mother," He turned back to a seething Sirius and jumped in realisation. "Oh, I'm so sorry. Come inside, quickly, you must be frozen."
"Quite cold," Sirius growled.
"Don't let a stray dog into the house!" Mrs. Lupin called as she ran down the hall. "Or at least don't let it into the living… oh, hello Sirius."
"Hi Mrs. Lupin. Don't mind if I come in, do you?" Sirius said, and he smiled his charming smile.
"Oh, not at all. Come in, take off that coat. Remus, go up and find him some clothes. Oh, silly me," She smiled, tapped Sirius on the shoulder and muttered 'exaresco', and he was instantly dried, head to toe.
"Thanks." Sirius smiled. Mrs. Lupin nodded and wandered off, back down the hall.
"Come in, Sirius." Remus smiled, closing the door behind his friend. They went into the living room and Sirius, who was still quite cold despite his recently dried state, sat down by the fire and started warming himself. He glanced back at Remus who had taken a seat in one of the big, comfortable armchairs with his hands folded across his lap.
"So, Moony," Sirius asked with a mischievous grin. "What're you doing with that there map?"
"I, uh… oh," Remus was flustered and turned rather pink as he fumbled to put the map away.
"Well?" Sirius grinned.
"'Well', what, Padfoot? Might I ask why it took you ten full minutes to ring the doorbell?" Remus stuck up his chin. "All that pacing must have worn you out, especially in the rain."
"And all that time you didn't open the door for me?" Sirius raised an eyebrow. "You horrible tease."
"Why aren't you at James' place, anyway?" Remus asked.
"I told them I was popping out for a bit, they're expecting me back tomorrow some time," Sirius shrugged and he looked back into the fire.
"Tomorrow?" Remus said, a little nervous excitement creeping into his voice. It had been weeks since their little encounter, so beautifully set up by James, so hideously brought about by Remus' embarrassed stammering, and so awkwardly ignored since they had gone on holidays.
Sirius glanced out of the corner of his eyes to see Remus with a little smile on his face, his eyes distant. He quickly looked back into the fire just as Mrs. Lupin popped her head in the door.
"Did I hear you say tomorrow, Sirius?" She asked. "Are you to be staying the night?"
"If that's alright with you, Mrs. Lupin," Sirius said, beautiful, endearing and innocent.
"Oh, of course. I'll have to put you up in Remus' room, though. I'm afraid the spare bedroom is rather full at the moment, and I'm pretty certain that boggart is back, Remus. You'll have to deal with it for me."
"Of course, mother."
"I'll go and put a bed in your room now. I hope it's tidy." She muttered as she wandered off and up the stairs.
"So why did you take so long to ring the doorbell?" Remus asked.
"Ah, what does it matter?" Sirius grinned. "I'm here, now."
Remus was reminded of his first encounter of the wild young lad. "With a bed next to mine." He smiled.
"That you're more than welcome to." Sirius said quietly.
Remus stood calmly on the inside of the door, his back leaning against it. Outside he knew there to be a Sirius, doing much the same thing. But for some strange reason neither of them could bring themselves to do anything about it.
The sky was going quite dark now, and Remus lowered himself to the ground, his back sliding down the door. He held in his hand a letter from Dumbledore. A simple letter, really.
I am writing to inform you of the arrival at your house of a certain old acquaintance of yours. He is in need of a place to live at the moment, and we thought it best that he come to you first. Please do care for him, I'm certain you have much to catch up on.
But the letter really hadn't prepared him for this. Outside the door Sirius slid down to sit on the porch. He admired the garden, a little absent-mindedly. The yellow roses seemed to have lost their red tips over the years. Or perhaps Remus had replanted them while Sirius was gone. He would have to ask.
The stars began to show, but there was huge cloud-cover rolling in from the east, so they would soon disappear. Sirius sat and watched it all unfold, barely thinking any more. He was tired, very tired, but he still wasn't ready to knock on the door. He knew Remus was in there somewhere, and if he knocked, the call would be answered.
What if it wasn't like last time? Sirius thought. What if what happened in the Shrieking shack was a nervous thing, and they would now return to awkwardness again? Sirius shivered suddenly, and something fell on his foot. He had no shoes, he had been travelling as a dog for so long that he hadn't bothered with new clothes. When he looked at his foot there was a tiny drop of water, all spread out over his skin. Sirius contemplated it for a second, and then stood up, walking down the path a bit. He held out his hands and let the drops fall on them.
The water came heavier, quickly, and his hands began to fill with water. He rubbed his hands together, rinsing away all the filth that coated them, and then he rubbed his face and his arms, and his feet. He tried to wash away as much of the dirt as possible, and when he turned around to go back to the door, he smiled.
Remus stood just behind him in the rain, as wet as Sirius was, just allowing the water to soak his clothes and hair. Remus grinned and the water trickled down his face and into his mouth. They laughed, and Sirius wanted so much to touch him.
Remus stepped forward, smoothing his hands over Sirius' now clean cheek, and he kissed his old friend, and then they hugged. It was a hug for all the years that they had missed, and the kiss that followed was a kiss for all the time they had spent apart.
"Oh, Sirius," Remus whispered, as he pressed their foreheads together. Both of them were grinning. "When will you learn to just ring the bell?"