The door creaked open, letting the sounds the pattering summer storm into the soft silence of Remus's cottage. Sirius Black walked into the house, leaving wet foot prints behind him on the stone floor.
"Moony?" he called into the dark, humid recesses of the hall, "Remus? It's..." he hesitated, "...it's Sirius. Are you here?..."
"Annnd you're not," he said softly to himself. He dithered for a moment in the foyer, uncertain if he should wait for his old friend, his old lover, or if he should head back out into the rain and return tomorrow. With a sad sigh, he headed back out the front door and stood for a moment on Remus's tiny porch, watching the rain slowly flatten the green meadow the cottage sat in. A gust of warm, moist wind washed over him and blew the door open and he sighed again, reaching over to close the door.
There was a crack and a sodden Remus appeared in his dooryard. He squinted up in the rain at Sirius and a little smile broke out on his face.
"Hello there," he called to Sirius as he jumped onto the porch. "How long are you here for?"
Sirius shifted foot to foot. "Albus wants me to, ah, stay here for a while and lay low. But if you, you know, don't want me to stay, I'm sure we can find something else..." he trailed off, carefully watching the other man.
Remus smiled at him, "Nonsense. Come inside and dry off, or take a bath, or whatever you need to do."
"A bath sounds nice," Sirius admitted and his stomach emitted an incriminating rumble.
Remus laughed at him, "All right, a bath and a meal, too. Any preference?"
Sirius smiled, "Not especially. Whatever you have, I'll take."
Another Remus smile, "All right then. The bath is down the hall, third door on the left." He paused, "Let me get a look at you?" he asked Sirius, and then reached out and tugged at the thin cotton shirt Sirius wore, revealing the too-thin figure beneath it. He tsked. "Must fatten you up, Pads. Skin and bone, skin and bone. I think I have something that might fit you. It'll be a bit long in the leg, though."
Sirius snorted, "Everything you have is a bit long in the leg. Thank you," he added with a genuine smile for Remus.
With a soft smile, Remus disappeared into the soft dark of his cottage hall and Sirius followed him after a moment.
Remus's voice floated into the foyer, "Ach! I see you've already been in here, leaving your doggy footprints on my floor!"
"Well, I was hoping you were in, and you know how you get wrapped up in your books," Sirius replied with a laugh as he slipped into the bathroom. Shutting the door, Sirius hummed a sing he had heard on the Muggle wireless one soggy day on the run. "I'm gonna be, I'm gonna be the man who wakes up next to you..." He smiled in the candle light and turned on the shower.
Later, after washing years of dirt from his skin and dealing with the tangled atrocity that was his hair, Sirius cracked open the door, finding a small folded pile of clothing in front of the jamb. A faded linen shirt, soft, worn jeans, and underpants! Oh, how he had missed proper underwear!
Sirius pulled on the clothing and walked into the kitchen where Remus was humming along to the swing record on the Victrola and cooking some sort of soup. He dropped carrots into the pot and danced across the kitchen as he reached for the lid with long, slim fingers. Sirius leaned against the door jamb lazily and smiled at Remus, laughing softly.
Remus looked over at him and flushed, stopping mid-motion, "Er, hi. Wasn't expecting you out yet." He dropped the lid on the bubbling pot.
Sirius smiled and shook his head, "If the carrots are going in, can I assume you're almost done?"
Remus smiled back, "I see you still remember my soup making technique."
"I do," he agreed. "I remember how irritable you used to get when one of us would interfere with the Sacred Soup."
Remus sniffed, "If you recall, you liked my soups."
"I did. I expect I still like them."
"They're...thinner soups, now. Butter helps, some, but still..."
Sirius nodded, "I don't think I could handle a massively thick soup now anyway. Been living off rats, mostly."
Remus looked at him, sadness filling his eyes. "I would have made sure you got more than that, Sirius, had I known."
He waved a hand, "You didn't. I didn't tell you and I spent the last year in a cave—foolishly, if I may say so. Wasn't much I could have done for Harry there." A wave of bitterness crossed his face, "Not much I can do for him anywhere, actually."
"Not true, Padfoot, not true. Keep in touch with him, tell him stories, talk with him. That's plenty," he said, stirring the pot. Remus looked up at him, a sudden, sharp sadness in his eyes. "I missed you," he said quietly.
Sirius smiled faintly, "I missed you, too. I'm sorry I didn't keep in contact with you, after the Shack."
Remus nodded, "Don't worry about it. Sit down?" he asked, pointing at a shabby little chair at the kitchen table with a wooden spoon.
Sirius nodded and settled down with a soft groan. He wasn't twenty anymore and Merlin if he wasn't feeling every bit his age and then some. Remus gave him a soft look, "Tea?"
"I'll make it," he said, getting up again. "Keep everything like you used to?" He watched Remus for a moment, taking in the graceful movements.
The man nodded, vigorously stirring his soup. "Pretty much."
The two of them moved around the small kitchen area, bumping into each other once or twice before finding a rhythm.
Finally, they sat down for an early dinner, a hot, buttery soup with tea and crackers. They spoke for a while, of things they had done or seen since they had seen each other last (Remus tried not to wince when Sirius joked about knowing a dozen recipes for rat stew), and then about useless topics, studiously ignoring the elephant in the room.
Remus had never been one to let an elephant stay for tea, if he could help it, and this one seemed like it would like to stay for the night.
"Ah, Sirius?" he asked.
The dark haired man looked up at him, "Yes?"
He paused. How the hell does one say this...? "Erm, we never really talked about it, the last time we saw each other, and..."
"I've been wondering that, too," Sirius agreed, knowing exactly what he was wanting to say. He stirred his tea. "I don't think we can pick up where we left off."
"No, we can't," Remus agreed. "I don't think I'd want to, actually. It was rather...harsh, on the part of both sides."
Sirius grimaced. "I know...I still can't believe I thought it was you..."
Remus waved a hand dismissively, "Times like that bring out both the best and worst of people. You had fodder, I think, for what you believed and so did I. I lied to you for years about being a werewolf and you...well, there was the Prank." Sirius heard the capital P clank into place and winced. "All that is behind us," Remus went on, "I'd like to look at the here and now, if you don't mind...I think we should take it slower than we did the first time."
Sirius chuckled, "We went as slow as a rampaging hippogriff last time, Moony. Shall we go at a reasonably adult pace?"
"Instead of two horny teenage boys?" Remus laughed, "I think so."