A/N: One last summer piece before the summer comes to a close.
Disclaimer: If Harry Potter belonged to me, a certain pink-haired character wouldn't have ever come into existence. As she sadly did, JKR still rules the HP universe, and I am still a teenager with no rights to a famous book series.
The summer after fifth year is the first summer that Remus invites them to stay at his house. His parents are in Romania for a fortnight, taking advantage of the holiday for two they won in Witch Weekly. Instead of staying alone, Remus asks Peter, James, and Sirius to join him, and they all readily accept.
Being parentless is thrilling for them, although they all skirt around admitting it. Sirius boasts that he hasn't lived with his parents for a month, but the Potters are better at parenting him than the Blacks ever were. They all know that Sirius hasn't gotten over his disownment, but it is something that is never brought up, under a silent agreement. It is supposed to be their time of freedom, with no problems involved.
They are sixteen, and have no legal wizards around to take the blame for them, so they live like Muggles, and James and Sirius complain often about this. Peter and Remus, both half-bloods, enjoy mocking their Muggle-challenged friends. None of them dare contact the Lupins to ask them to Apparate in and reset a cooling charm or spell something up for dinner, though. It would ruin their illusion of freedom, independence.
So they sweat together in the August heat, shirtless, wearing Muggle trousers that were attacked with scissors so they stop around the knee. They spend the day outside and fall asleep wherever they can, occasionally underneath the stars, other times underneath the table. The full moon is done with for the month, so they have nothing to worry them. It is simply summer at its most basic, with heat and laughter and tanning bodies.
They wake up late, often around noon, and find the nearest cut-off trousers to pull on. After four days, all of their trousers are in a pile, so it soon doesn't matter what belongs to whom. Everything is hazy and blended, and no one really cares whether the trousers are his or James's or Mr. Lupin's. It's all part of summer – boundaries are blurred and some things just don't seem as important.
All that matters to them is racing each other outside, pushing and tripping through the tall grass to find the "watering hole" that Mr. and Mrs. Lupin set up for the boys. They jump into the water – half-clothed or completely starkers – and splash around in the magically cool water for hours. Then they drag their bodies out of the water and collapse beneath the sparse shade of the least shoddy of the shoddy trees near the watering hole. They sit there sweating, daring one another to break and dive back in the water, telling stories and planning pranks and attempting to mutilate James for not shutting up about Lily sodding Evans. And they think this, this, is what summer should be. It's what it is.
Returning to the house when the sun begins to set to get smashed is also what summer is. Drunken games and ridiculous dancing and passing out in piles on top of the kitchen table are oddly normal things to them. Remus had never thought about waking up in so many different places in his house, and after the first few nights, he starts to enjoy the variety it. Peter swears that he shall never get over that one time on the roof, though.
Sirius enjoys being at the Lupins', because it is the first time he has felt normal all summer. He hasn't felt normal with his family in years, and the Potters are almost being too nice to him. He feels like, as much as he loves James's family, they are mollycoddling him, and he frankly can't stand it. Spending time free, with just his best mates, is what makes him feel like a normal human being. In the beginning, anyway. Because Sirius has been forced to accept that he is not a normal human being.
He blames summer, in some part, but not fully, because he loves what summer has brought to him. He also blames the tree, but the tree means a lot to him, too. He finds himself blaming himself the most, and there is no "but" to that. Really, it is his own fault.
There's the unusually hot air sticking to them, suffocating them, as they laugh beneath the tree – their tree. His hair is still damp from the water, and he suspects that the sweat will prevent it from drying any more. Remus's hair is still damp, too, although he has tied it back, so it's most likely not as hot on his neck as Sirius's hair is on his. He doesn't really care about the state of James or Peter's hair, but seeing as their hair is much shorter than Remus and Sirius's, he supposes it is drier. He can't bring himself to ponder beyond that, though, because it simply doesn't interest him.
What interests him is Remus's back. James may be regaling them with a dramatic retelling of one of his many, many attempts to win the heart of the most fair maiden Lily Evans, and Peter may be encouraging James's five-minute description about the shape of her earlobes, but, really, a dead flobberworm is more interesting than that. Remus's back is interesting on its own, and Sirius has just recently accepted the strangeness of that train of thought.
Remus's back is smooth and scarred, with the faint lines of muscles running beneath the skin. Sirius can remember which full moons Remus acquired most of the scars on, which frightens him a bit. But nothing frightens him as much as the bite mark that Remus obtained at age six, courtesy of Fenrir Greyback. The fact that the monster had marked Remus is horrible enough, but it is the way that Sirius is drawn to look at it, as if it is a magnet, that makes it seem even worse. He can't even see the full bite, anyways; only the top half is visible to him. The bottom is hidden beneath the waistband of Remus's (or – as they seem to be too large on Remus – James's) cut-off trousers. The thought of the other half of the bite makes Sirius swallow hard and fill his mind with things like Hagrid wearing a bikini, or Dumbledore dressed in drag.
Instead, Sirius finds himself concentrating on the upper part of Remus's back, the part that isn't too extremely taboo. The part that hopefully doesn't make people suspicious when Sirius lets his hands wander and trace the scars below Remus's shoulders whilst lost in his own haze of summer fantasies.
Because he likes sitting behind Remus, his legs in a "V" and Remus in between them, but not touching him. He likes reaching out and touching a fingertip to a scar, and then running that fingertip along the mark before tracing another. He likes the feeling of Remus's smooth back beneath his hands, even though he has to disguise it as boredom and too-still hands that need something to do instead of the amazing experience that Sirius just wants to immerse himself in. He has to attempt to pay attention and force laughter when James teases Sirius that he just can't keep his hands off Moony. He has to bite his tongue to keep from admitting that he really can't keep his hands off Remus, and he currently has about six different fantasies running through his head that involve James and Peter disappearing and Sirius's hands in many other places.
That's why he wonders if James has finally fulfilled his ambition of one day being able to read minds when on their ninth day at the Lupins', James decides to leave the tree to jump into the water again, urging Peter to come with him. Sirius watches as the two boys race to the watering hole before diving in, his ears picking up the sounds of laughter and sputtering. James and Peter aren't very far away, but far enough that Sirius can concentrate on tuning out the noises the two are making so he can pretend that it is only him and Remus, together.
Remus is talking, and Sirius is attempting to pay attention to what Remus is saying. Attempting. Because whilst Remus really is quite interesting, Sirius is finding more physical parts of his friend worthy of his attention. He knows it's not necessarily right, but Remus is skinny and not as pale as usual and has freckles sprinkled across his long nose. Although Remus is definitely not a textbook beauty, Sirius really can't find anything he would ever change about him. It's the eyes and the hair and the everything that Sirius just… Remus is beautiful, in his own unique way.
Remus is gesticulating with his hands, adding onto the story that Sirius should be listening to. But, really, how can he be expected to pay attention when Remus's delicate wrists and thin fingers are forming shapes that really shouldn't cause this reaction in him, but somehow are?
Then there's the way they're sitting – Sirius isn't behind Remus. He's sitting across from him, leaning against the tree opposite of their tree. Remus is relaxed against the trunk, and Sirius can see the small paw print on Remus's hipbone, and curses himself for suggesting that they all get tattoos. He suppresses the urge to let his fingers play over his own matching paw print, and drags his eyes up to meet Remus's. Remus is silent now, and Sirius realizes that Remus might have caught on that Sirius was staring at him quite intently in areas that male friends avoided on other male friends. Usually. Because Sirius has sort-of-kind-of accepted that he doesn't exactly think of Remus in the way that normal male friends do.
Remus isn't paying attention to Sirius, though. He is flicking his golden hair out of his eyes with the tips of his fingers and turning his face to the sun, grinning at the sky. And there's his throat, bared for the world, bared for Sirius, and Sirius feels an almost feral urge to lean across and nip the taut, sun-darkened skin. This urge scares him, but interests him just as much.
A throat clears. "Sirius?"
"Yes?" Sirius replies quickly, snapping out of his reverie of Remus-filled thoughts, attempting to concentrate on the boy himself. He meets Remus's eyes carefully.
Remus studies him carefully for a moment. "Never mind."
Sirius feels awful as he sits there, his stomach churning and breathing quickened. He feels close to being found out. Close to Remus discovering just why Sirius can't quite keep his hands to himself. Close to Remus giving him that look of shock and discomfort, but never hate or disgust, because Remus isn't like that. But it would still be awkward, although Remus would never hurt him. And he really doesn't want it to happen; really, not at all. Maybe there wouldn't even be a chance of it happening, though, if Remus would tuck his bloody chin down and stop looking so beautiful and desirable.
Time passes. Sirius isn't really sure how much time it is, but in that time Remus seems to fall asleep, still leaning against the tree. James and Peter jog to them, towels around their necks, asking if they want to figure out how to make dinner the Muggle way. Sirius glances at Remus, so peaceful and relaxed, and quickly tells the two boys to attempt it on their own, hoping Remus shan't be too angry if his house is burned down.
Sirius watches as James and Peter sprint back to the house, and winces a bit when he hears a crash and a wave of yelling. Ignoring that, though, he folds his arms and looks up at the hints of dusk touching the sky, and smiles briefly. He loves summer nights.
The reason why he loves summer nights most stirs, though, and Sirius redirects his attention to a shifting Moony. Really, Moony can fall asleep anywhere, which has been quite handy over the past few days, where Moony has spent much time dozing on uncomfortable surfaces. Sirius himself can only sleep on anything less than a sofa when he is completely smashed, which is why he has slept on tables, and the supply of hangover potion is running low.
Remus looks even prettier, Sirius thinks, in the new lighting. He smiles a bit to himself, because Moony always makes him smile. And there is really no reason not to smile, because Remus is beautiful and the night is beginning and it is just him and Remus, and the possibilities could be endless if he wasn't too bloody afraid to find out whether Remus would even think of him in that way.
Sirius really isn't sure why he does it. He thinks that it isn't his fault, anyway; he blames an outside force, something controlling him. Just because he takes the concept of "personal space" very loosely doesn't mean that he always carefully crawls towards his sleeping mates and perches only centimeters away, his face nearly touching theirs. He doesn't normally breathe carefully and quietly so he can study the golden lashes brushing against Remus's high cheekbones, or the tip of Remus's too-long nose only centimeters away from him. He really doesn't make it a habit to stare at Remus's pink lips that closely, although from afar it is another story.
The thing is, he doesn't usually do things like this, even though he fantasizes about them often. But now he is here and he can't turn back, and he isn't even sure if he wants to turn back. Because there is summer heat and memories of warm skin, and the dusk makes everything look twice as beautiful. He doesn't need a reason or an explanation, although he has many; he just can't remember them. In fact, he's grasping at straws to remember his name, because Remus's breath is intermingling with his, and he can almost imagine that they're wrapped up in each other's arms, breathing the same air and being in love and lust and everything around and in between.
It's all too much and too little and too potent and too unbelievable, and Sirius finds all of his self-control dissipating. He has been holding tightly to it for days, weeks, months, and it hasn't brought him anything but frustration. He's tired of being frustrated, and he wants to fix it. He does, oh, he does, but he really doesn't know what to do. Because no matter how beautiful the moment is, and even though his mates tease him about not thinking before he acts, he's thinking right now, and the thoughts aren't making him extremely happy. Remus can turn him away or say no or run in the opposite direction.
But then Remus's eyes flutter open, and suddenly Sirius can't think anymore.
The kiss is passionate and needy and clumsy and so far from perfect it's laughable. Sirius has only done this a few times before, and only once with another bloke, so he's nervous and confused atop of all of the other emotions he can't identify.
Is Remus okay with this? He doesn't know, but Remus isn't pulling away. He's kissing back, he thinks, but he really isn't sure. But is that a tongue? Oh, he thinks it is! And a tongue means that Remus is responding, and that maybe Remus doesn't find this disgusting, and wants Sirius too.
There are hands and hair and noses colliding, all in a frantic manner that would be classified as ridiculous by any bystander. But Sirius has pent this up for the past six months, and has fought to hold it in even more over the past few days. He isn't going to stop until Remus pulls away, and he doesn't care that James could come up and take photographs at any second and mock him for the rest of his life. Because if he dies of embarrassment, he will die a happy man, because oh, Merlin, Remus's tongue is in his mouth, and Remus's hand is…oh, Merlin. And fuck James, because he's never experienced anything as great as this, and never will. Moony is his now – and it really doesn't matter if it's true or not. In his mind, Moony belongs to him.
Remus gently breaks the kiss, and Sirius is forced to move away, too. There's this one terrifying moment when Sirius just looks into Remus's eyes, worried of the possibility of Remus deciding that he hadn't meant to kiss Sirius back, and giving him those pitying Moony-eyes. But Remus's eyes stay without pity, and his fingers lightly trace Sirius's jaw line, which certainly means something, but Sirius can't clear a space in his mind to analyze it. All he knows is that this feels right, very right, even the raindrops beginning to splatter on them and the darkening sky and the wet earth. It's all right.
"Padfoot," Remus murmurs, his eyelids heavy and lips nearing Sirius's again, "what took you so long?"
"I dunno," Sirius says huskily. "It's just you…and everything…kiss me again, please."
"Mmm," Remus breathes, then leans over and they're kissing again, and it's right.
It's all right, even when James and Peter come out with pots and wooden spoons in their hands, and they run around in the rain. The uncooked spaghetti crunching at their feet and utensils being thrown around is right, and Peter and James even treat RemusandSirius like it's something normal, with a roll of the eyes and a spoon to the back of the head. It's surreal: the heat, the rain, the touches, the wet grass. They kiss, and James pushes them into the water, but it doesn't matter. They kiss again and again as the rain pours around them, and it's traditional British weather and an untraditional British romance. It doesn't matter, though; nothing matters, and they throw a fork at James's head.
Sirius feels daft as he and Remus lay on the wet earth hours later, hands linked and looking up at the stars. Apparently he's missed all of the obvious signs that Remus has been giving him over the past week, and now that he relives the moments in his head, they all do seem painfully obvious. But Moony isn't angry; he thinks it's cute, he says, and although Sirius insists that he's not cute, he's ruggedly sexy, he loves it all the same. Sirius loves everything about this: the kisses, the stars, the hands and closeness. He loves Remus, too, but he doesn't think he'll tell Remus, not yet.
Then, curled against Remus, he shuts his eyes and breathes in the scent of rain and Moony. Moony kisses his hair gently and whispers goodnight, Padfoot, goodnight. Sirius smiles sleepily, and it's perfect and wonderful and right as the thick summer air envelopes them, enclosing them in their own little world. They are protected; wrapped up in each other.
For a moment, invincible.