Shades of Gray

(the THIRD AND FINAL companion to "No Better Mistake" and "Finding Home")

DISCLAIMER: I do not own Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, James Potter, or any other related characters from the world of Harry Potter. I also don't own the setting, plot lines, relationships, etc. ANYTHING ASSOCIATED WITH HARRY POTTER BELONGS TO J.K. ROWLING, not me.



If you're new - you might want to read the first two stories, but even if you don't, this one will make sense. RL/SB slash, and rated M for language, and sexuality. It's also a TINY bit AU, but only because of the absence of Voldemort. Most everything else goes along with the books. I hope you like it!

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"Oh come on," Remus Lupin murmured, twirling his wand in his hand, "come on, you stupid, thing, lock…"

With a final twist, he heard the bolt finally slide into place, and he sighed in relief. Though he probably wouldn't have opened the door to fix it anyway, he double-checked that the sign in the bookshop's window read Closed, testing the doorknob a final time. His hands – and brain – had been so cold he'd been barely able to hold his wand, and thus had had quite a time locking up, never mind the basic level of the spell. Despite his now icy fingers, he couldn't help but take a moment to admire the display window just beside the store's front door. He had put it up himself a few weeks ago, carefully choosing various red, green, and cream-colored books to create, in his humble opinion, a nice Christmas display. Even though the store was now dark, it did bring a little color to the otherwise dim street, white from the snow that had fallen earlier in the day.

Shoving his hands into his pockets, Remus pulled out a particularly atrocious knit hat, mentally cursing his friend, Lily Evans, for choosing such a heinous yarn, but in these temperatures, he was hardly in a state to complain. Quickly, he rubbed his hands together, and set off briskly across the slushy street toward the grocery.

The sharp, low growl of a motorcycle in the otherwise empty street caused him to spin quickly around in surprise. He would have perhaps tripped in shock if he had not recognized the bike's sound almost at once—and he was, for that reason, not at all surprised to see the large, black motorcycle parked just beside the bookshop. He was, however, a bit curious as to why his nineteen-year-old boyfriend, Sirius Black, seemed to be waiting for him.

"What are you doing here?" Remus asked, although he was unable to stop the smile that was spreading quickly across his face.

Sirius leaned against the handlebars of his pride and joy, looking up at him. His dark, mused hair was still shorter than Remus was accustomed to seeing it, but it had grown somewhat since the August before, the curling ends extending a few inches past the bottom of his red, knit hat. As usual, his thin, somewhat tan face didn't seem to change in accordance to the dropping temperatures – Remus felt certain that his cheeks were growing rosier and rosier by the minute – but he had, at least, taken the time to bundle himself up in a few layers of flannel shirts and his leather jacket. However, the sparse, white snow did a great favor to his steel-gray eyes – the ground's reflection cast them almost silver; metallic.

"Just fancied a little ride," Sirius grinned toward him, and Remus rolled his eyes.

"You would," he murmured, shaking his head. He was shivering slightly, arms tucked into each other, but Sirius seemed to be unaffected by the cold, "It's glacial out here, Sirius…"

"Oh, it's not that bad," Sirius countered, "you want a ride?"

"I've got to get the—" Remus began, but stopped as Sirius held up a bag.

"I've got it," he said, and so Remus, sighing, climbed on to the bike, stuffing their groceries back in the side compartment. You could easily Apparate home… he reminded himself, but as Sirius handed him his helmet, pulling Remus' hands around his waist, he couldn't suppress his smile. Oh, go on, then…

And they were off – shooting quickly down the street, which had obviously been cleared by some city official. Despite the wind that now nipped at their hands and faces, Sirius had been quite right – it wasn't that bad… After all, hardly anything could be really horrible when your arms were wrapped tight around the flat stomach of an extremely good-looking man, speeding off toward the warm home you both shared…

It was December: six months after Remus and Sirius had first moved in to their old, beautiful house in the middle of nowhere. The house was small, only one bedroom, and filled mostly with second-hand furniture and dishes, but the area around it was lovely – vast woods and fields for the two to roam about it, something that Sirius had chosen particularly in lieu of Remus' "little problem"; the fact that he was a werewolf, and every month, he transformed into the dangerous beast. This little fact was something that had caused a large number of problems in their relationship – in fact, just in September, that tidbit, combined with a number of lies Sirius had told at work and home, had caused the couple to nearly meet their end. They had, however, made it through their rough patch, and now, Remus was the first to admit that things were going well. It was a different type of "together" than what they had had once they'd first become a couple, during their final year at school, but in a way, he almost preferred it – they were older now, much more mature, and able to appreciate each other that much more for their struggles. Sirius was continuing with his Auror training, and Remus still worked – and now managed – the small bookshop he'd just left, a place he'd grown to love very dearly, though he still had ambitions to teach. One other, main improvement in their lives was an improvement in Remus himself; through many long talks with Sirius, and their best friends, Lily and James, he had finally begun to develop a little more confidence within himself. His relationship with Sirius was, by no means, perfect (as long as Sirius continued to leave his socks on their bedroom floor, Remus doubted it ever would be), but things were definitely getting better for Remus, who had spent a large majority of his past years in various states of anxiety and guilt. Although nothing could change the burden he felt he had put on Sirius by being a werewolf, each passing full moon brought further hope that things would be alright, and Remus' confidence seemed to be growing each day. Things were not simply one way or the other, but they were better. In the past, having Sirius had been the main source of Remus' happiness, but now, he was finding more joy within himself; more sure that he could be successful, and that had made an enormous difference. Sirius particularly enjoyed this newfound self-esteem, as it improved things both with his personality, and within the bedroom…

Speaking of… Remus now leaned his cheek against Sirius' back, relaxing in the constant, straight path of the bike. He recalled fondly what a special time Christmas was for Sirius and himself. Last Christmas Eve, exactly a year ago, the two had, for the first time, made love in their secluded dormitory at Hogwarts, and Remus knew that Sirius was not one to forget that little tidbit of history. Sirius, though he appeared to be, outwardly, much "tougher" than Remus, was quite sentimental. He was much more vocal, and obvious with his emotions, unlike Remus, who had, until recently, hidden most everything. Remus felt a certain sense of anticipation – Lily, James, and a few other friends were due to arrive at their home in a little while, but they did still have some time, at least for a little something fun… especially because, feeling the weight of the bags beside him, he felt certain that all Sirius had purchased at their grocery was a large quantity of alcohol. The thought of this made him blush, but only slightly – with new assurance came new sexual desires, and, to Sirius' delight, Remus was finding himself less and less shy to admit to what he wanted from their relationship.

Sirius came slowly to a stop, pulling his motorcycle carefully into a covered spot just beside their two-story home. At the sight of their snow-covered house, Remus quickly came back to earth; it was getting late, and though they had cleared up most of their junk the night before, he felt certain that there were many things to be done before anyone could begin to arrive. It had been Sirius' idea to have a party – he loved the holidays, he was like a child, almost, at the thought of Christmas – and though it would be a trick squishing everyone in, the two felt sure they could manage. Teeth chattering, Remus allowed Sirius to extend a gloved hand to help him off the back of the bike, then scooping up the groceries.

"Oh wait, wait!" exclaimed Sirius, snatching the bag from him and hurrying to unlock the front door, "stay here," he ordered Remus, disappearing inside. Teeth chattering, Remus looked impatiently after him.

"I did something when I was home today!" Sirius' muffled voice came from inside the house, and Remus craned his neck, trying to see in, but as if he sensed what Remus was doing, Sirius yelled again. "Moony, close your eyes! Give me a second—"

Sighing, but still in good spirits, Remus shut his eyes, and within seconds the door creaked open again, and Sirius' now uncovered, warm hands were upon his shut eyelids. "Step back," Sirius murmured into his ear, "Come on, come with me…" He guided Remus a few steps backward, leading him, as he could tell, further and further away from their front door.

"I'm freezing!" Remus called, but Sirius' excitement was contagious. In another second, he felt Sirius whisper in his ear again – "open your eyes!" – and he did, gasping at what glowed before him.

In true Sirius fashion, he had gone a little overboard… but the house looked very festive, outlined all in lights of many colors – red, yellow, green, white, blue – dangling down from their stooping roof like multicolored icicles, bordering the windows of their tiny bedroom and kitchen; their colors bouncing off the pure white snow that covered the ground. Every door was covered with a bundle of lights; even the chimney had not been able to avoid Sirius' decorations; there, too, lights circled and twisted, casting the whole house in a vivid, cheery glow. It was almost funny; it was the only thing visible for many, many acres, save the rippling fields and still-thick trees, and it was lit up as tacky and as beautiful as their homemade Christmas ornaments inside.

In a parallel to only minutes before, Remus felt Sirius' hands wrap around his own waist, and without thinking, he did as he always did. He leaned back, his head resting in the nook between shoulder and jaw, feeling the scratch of beard against his own smooth face, resisting the urge to giggle like a schoolgirl as Sirius kissed just below his ear. "It's wonderful," he said honestly, circling his own arms around Sirius'. "You did all this?"

"And without magic," Sirius said happily, and Remus, suppressing another eye roll, grinned even harder. It would be like Sirius to do it all manually… Remus could picture him now, delighted with himself as he climbed on top of their short roof. Though he was now very cold, Remus turned around in their embrace to face Sirius, changing the grip of his hands so that they were now around his neck, pulling him closer and kissing him deeply, relishing the feeling of Sirius' hot lips on his, warming him up like a steaming mug of cocoa.

"You are amazing," muttered Sirius, "so… amazing…" Unintentionally, he had spoken the same words he uttered a year previous, and Remus found himself kissing him again, remembering, with a feeling of warmth in the pit of his stomach, the anticipation, the feeling of that sweet beginning, the wonderful, first-time sense of pleasure… Mere inches away from his face, Remus could see the reflection of so many lights in Sirius' eyes as they pulled apart, his mouth curling into such an easy, comfortable smile, still true, still very much in love, and, most importantly… still there… Still there, grinning at him, just like he had for the first time, so many years ago.

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A sweet chapter to start... I do love a little cheese sometimes.

I'm really happy to share this one with you guys. It's going to be cute, AND dramatic, with people coming back in you've seen before... lots of fun surprises. I hope you're excited too!