A/N: The absolute last chapter, guys! And this time I mean it.
I've enjoyed writing this immensely, and have enjoyed all the feedback. Thank you so much and thanks for coming along for the ride - it's been real! I would love to hear your opinion, not just about this chapter, but the story as a whole.
The Hogwarts Express steamed and creaked as it was warming up, getting ready to roll out of the train station. The platform was busy and hectic with parents kissing their children goodbye, and reminding them to behave and do their school work.
Remus and Sirius had loaded their trunks and were saying goodbye to James and Lily. Peter had started on his new job, and couldn't come to see them off.
"This is going to be strange..." said Remus.
"Yeah," said James biting his lip. Damned if he was going to cry over something like this. "Yeah," he repeated. "I sort of wish we were going with you... but then again," he said, grabbing Lily's hand.
Sirius slapped his shoulder playfully. "You're a big boy now. You're ready to go out into the real world and start a family."
"Right," said James.
"It won't be that long. We'll see you at the wedding! I'm going to be the best best man ever!"
"Yeah, I better not regret it!" groaned James.
"Shut up, Moony! Or you can be Lily's bridesmaid!" said Sirius.
"Shut up, yourself!" Remus retaliated.
"Okay kids - time to be off to school," said Lily, adopting an authoritative tone.
"Prongs," said Sirius and pulled his best friend away from the others.
"What?" said James, looking at Sirius with a puzzled expression.
"I, uhm... this is going to sound funny, but... don't trust Peter."
"It's just... I don't trust him completely anymore, and -"
"Is this still about that stupid comment he made about Remus when he was unconscious?" said James incredulously.
"No," said Sirius, dismissing it with a wave of his hand. "No, it's just... I don't know, it's just a feeling I have. I can't really explain it... Haven't you noticed that he's been a little strange lately, and distant?"
James shrugged. "I think you're reading too much into it. He's our long-time loyal friend, Padfoot."
"Yeah," said Sirius, looking a bit ashamed of himself and shuffling his feet uncomfortably. "But... I'm a little anxious leaving you guys here... it's stupid, I know, but... Could you just promise me not to trust him with any really important secrets?"
James sighed. "It's crazy, Padfoot. But okay - if it makes you feel better, I'll promise to run it by you first if there's anything."
Sirius grinned, visibly relieved.
After the feast Remus and Sirius went to their spot by the lake to enjoy the warm late summer evening. If felt good to be back, and in one way everything seemed like it had always been, but in another it was rather different. It was strange that their whole year was now missing and they had to get used to share lessons with the year below. But most of all, it was strange to be there without James, Lily and Peter. No Prongs and Wormtail in their dorm. It was quite a consolation, however, that they had been given their own private room.
They were sitting, side by side, looking silently, like so many times before, at the beautiful scenery in front of them. Remus was the first to break the silence. "I'm so happy to be here with you."
"Me too," said Sirius and gave his hand a squeeze.
"You. You're making me so happy. I want to do the same to you."
Sirius looked at him, pleased and perplexed at the same time. "You ARE making me happy, Moony!"
Remus shifted so he was sitting, facing Sirius. "I want to make you even happier. I want you to be as happy as you possibly can be for the rest of your life. You deserve that. And I want to take away all your doubt and worry. I don't want you to ever again be insecure about how I feel about you. I want you to feel safe and loved."
Sirius opened his mouth to speak but was silenced by Remus' finger on his lips.
"I know I'm not as good as you are at showing exactly how I feel, but I'm trying, because you deserve to know. You always make me feel good about myself by showing me that I'm the most important thing in your world and how much you adore me. And I want to do the same for you. I know you think that you love me more than I love you, but you couldn't be more wrong. I'll never be able to express in words just how much I love you and what you mean to me. When I came here seven years ago I had never in my wildest dreams imagined that I would ever be liked, let alone loved, by anybody - especially after finding out about my condition - but I was surprised to find that somebody did care about me and wanted to be my friend. I hadn't known that kind of love since I lost my dad. And then in our 6th year you surprised me again by showing me that an even greater love was possible for me. You've spent every minute since then making me feel like the luckiest and most loved person in the world. You've done it so well that I've never doubted you - even though I've always been a very insecure person. You've changed my life. You've changed me."
Remus could see that Sirius was listening intently, drinking in every word, his eyes swimming with emotion.
"I wish I could do the same for you -" Remus started.
"You DO, Remus! You've changed my life too - for the better. You've changed ME. Made me a better person," interrupted Sirius.
"I want you to feel just as secure and loved as I do," continued Remus. "I'm not sure how to do it, but..." he trailed off, starting to sound very nervous. "You know the thing that James and Lily are doing... we can never do that... because we're blokes and all..." The normally so well-formulated boy was desperately searching for the right words and struggling with what to say. "But I've been thinking that maybe we could... you know... just do our own private thing. It doesn't have to be official to mean something, does it? It's the gesture that counts and not so much a piece of paper signed by some Ministry official, isn't it?"
"Remus Lupin - are you... trying to propose to me?" asked a baffled and wide-eyed Sirius. He could feel his heart racing at a ridiculous speed.
Remus flushed and swallowed hard. "I... I guess I am..." He fumbled for something in his pocket and came up with a small box. "I had these made. It's probably stupid..." he added uncertainly. "I didn't know how to... what to..."
Sirius steadied his shaky hand with his own. "It's okay, Moony. It's not stupid. Show me."
Remus opened the box and put two rings in his palm. "I had these made," he repeated. "This one is for you," he pointed to the one of gold. It had a crescent moon and the letter R engraved in it. "And this is mine," he said, pointing at the silver one [Note: It is Muggle superstition that silver hurts werewolves]. This one was engraved with a star and the letter S.
Sirius stared at them for what seemed like an eternity. Then he looked up, and Remus could see that his eyes were filling up with tears.
"What... what do you say?" Remus whispered.
Sirius stretched out his hand. "Put it... put it on," he said in a quivering voice.
Remus held his breath and put the gold ring on Sirius' finger. He had to grab hold of his wrist to steady his hand because it was shaking so much it made the task difficult.
"I'll never, ever take it off," whispered Sirius as his tears of joy started spilling.
Remus' face cracked into a huge smile as also he started to cry. "Put mine on too," he said, and presented his hand to Sirius.
As Sirius put the ring on Remus' finger he felt light-headed and giddy. It was like all the bad things that had ever happened to him lost their significance and all traces of fear, worry and doubt evaporated into the air and disappeared.
"Consider your mission accomplished. You've just made me the happiest person in the world!" he grinned at Remus and took both of his hands in his.
Remus grinned back and leaned forward on his knees to kiss him. Sirius edged forward until their bodies touched and deepened the kiss. Although kissing Remus was always absolutely mind-blowing, he thought that this one was probably the best they'd ever shared.
"It's getting dark," said Sirius when they finally broke the kiss. "How about we go and inaugurate that new room of ours?"
"I'd like that," Remus smiled.
They got up, and headed, hand in hand, back towards the castle.
A/N: That's it!
I've been pondering a lot over whether or not to write that last part, but I thought "what the hell" and went full-blown on the sappiness. Hope I didn't make anyone puke :)
To those who might be interested: I have a bunch of ideas for new fics. Tomorrow I'll start on a Remus/Regulus fic and plan to be posting first chapter soon. I'm definitely not done with Remus/Sirius, though, since they ARE my favorite couple, and I have plans for several more of those stories, too. Among others, an AU which I'm quite excited about. Just keep your eyes open - I'll probably keep being pretty active.