It was snowing in London. Not pretty little flakes pirouetting on to windows in tiny wisps and whitening the pavements just so. It was proper snow. City snow, country folk called it, that stopped traffic and ruined shoes and turned Regents Canal to ice.
Remus loved it. It stopped the whole city in its tracks and yet no one could be blamed. Life was so busy now; it was nice to be able to slow down for once, and to have an excuse to do so.
It gave him more time for moments like this; sitting in Camden Head, drinking hot cider and buttered rum, warmed by the copper pipes beside his legs, biro in hand. He was penning a review, but this was something of his own, not a deadline to meet, and he was going to debate whether to pass it to his editor only once he'd got it completely finished.
Preacher was old news now. Still, Alice had been kind enough to give him a referral, and Frank too, after some deliberation. His old friends had actually accepted that it was time for Remus to move on, a rather touching revelation. He missed them sometimes. When it wasn't warm inside and snowy outside, and when everything was going perfectly fine in his new flat in Somers Town so that he was quite unsure what to do with himself, he'd find himself suddenly conjuring up an image of Dorcas sending the photocopier up in flames and he'd laugh to himself in the quiet of his bright little kitchen.
Not that he'd ever go back to Gloucester for more than a visit. Remus Lupin was happy.
Presently, the owner of the 'Head, Tom, came over, wiping down a pint glass with a tea towel. "Get you another, Remus?" he said pleasantly. After four months they were familiar with each other. The cosy pub was one Remus often frequented for his articles.
"Cheers, Tom," he said. He figured he was going to be there a while yet.
Tom took his empty glass and nodded towards the little stage. "Not bad this one, is he?"
Remus's grin widened. "He's alright."
"Fleetwood Mac. Haven't heard this in years," Tom said jovially. "And here's me thinking kids have no idea about music."
He walked away, whistling the upbeat melody emanating from the shady stage. Remus too turned his attention back towards it, tapping his pen in time with the rhythm. It was difficult to actually see the stage as so many people had gathered to watch, but he could hear well enough. With that imperfect, husky voice, and perfect, intricate guitar-playing filling his ears, he didn't really need to see.
After penning a few more quick lines - natural, in his element, unique - his drink arrived, the set finished to enthusiastic applause, and ten minutes later someone was sliding into the seat opposite him.
"So go on then, what are we saying? Four stars? Five?"
Remus clicked his pen and set it down, a little smile playing on his lips. "I'd have considered three, but you didn't play 'I'll Follow the Sun'."
"I always play 'I'll Follow the Sun'."
Remus looked up beneath his eyelashes and grinned at Sirius, and Sirius grinned back.
"It's my favourite," he reminded him.
"Well, put in a good word for me and I'll include it in the next set," Sirius suggested cheekily, but he had to turn away before Remus could reply; a group of five or so people had approached the table to gush about his set. If they remembered him from before they didn't say. The only words they had for him were ones of kindness and admiration, about how fantastic he was now.
Sirius tutted when they'd gone. "Fans," he said with a roll of his eyes, trying and failing to keep the smirk off his face.
"It's hard being brilliant, isn't it?"
"Incredibly," Sirius agreed. He reached over to grab Remus's cider, sipping it, licking his lips in appreciation and drinking some more.
"I can get you one if you want," Remus offered, but Sirius just shook his head, swallowing.
"I've got to get a move on," he said.
"The meeting about the EP? I thought it wasn't until four?"
"Yes, but I've got to walk you home first and leave time in case you want to invite me up for coffee."
Remus raised an eyebrow.
"Sorry," said Sirius, "tea."
Remus laughed at that, not missing the pleased look on Sirius's face and feeling his own heart kick up a beat. Draining the last of the cider, he stowed his notebook and pen away and pulled on his coat, Sirius going to fetch his guitar. Then, bracing themselves, the two stepped out into the cold February snow. Sirius slung the acoustic over his back, offering Remus a deliberately anxious grin as the snowflakes immediately began to paint his short, black hair white. Together, they started the trek up the street towards Somers Town.
Overall, they were taking things slow, and that was exactly how Remus liked it. Since that fateful day in September, they'd apologised and since endured various other slip-ups, but now it was February and the slip-ups seemed to be happening less and less frequently. In fact, things were going so well that Sirius, over a drink celebrating his forthcoming double EP, had subtly suggested they spend Valentine's Day together, outside of London.
That was in a week, and Remus was genuinely looking forward to it. They'd spent Christmas together too, but that had been with the band, including James and his now-fiancée Lily. This time they'd be alone, and it was slightly nerve-wracking but exciting too, as though they'd be reaching a new level in their relationship. At any rate, Remus thought it might solidify things a bit. Neither of them were very sure where they stood with one another yet.
Sirius had forgiven him, that was the main thing. James and Fabian and Peter had too. In fact, rather than damage Blue Stag, the article had done them the world of good. Suddenly everyone knew who they were and everyone seemed to be hailing them as pioneers, like Queen or Bowie, congratulating them on showing "true rock 'n roll spirit" by not caring what anyone else thought. None of the band ever pointed out that Sirius hadn't come out willingly; James in particular loved the attention too much to spoil things. Besides, everyone was happier that way.
It had even helped fix things between Sirius and James. As soon as the article circulated, Sirius had left the band on an impulse but, seeing the good it did to his relationship with his best friend, they'd decided to keep it that way. Fabian's brother Gideon had joined the band on bass, and Sirius was doing what he'd always wanted to; going it alone.
Well, not quite alone. Remus religiously attended every gig, just as he'd noticed Lily doing on the tour last summer. He even, as was the case today, occasionally wrote about Sirius in the magazine he now worked for; a comfortable, totally music-centred publication based in St. Pancras, not ten minutes from his new home.
Things were good, and in that moment, walking in the city snow with Sirius, Remus felt as though they could only get better. As they trudged along in totally unsuitable footwear, laughing at their lack of practical attire and transport, he could feel Sirius's eyes on him. He smiled.
"What?" he asked, turning to face him.
Quickly looking away, Sirius shook his head. But then he chanced another glance upwards and, upon noticing that Remus was still looking at him, stopped in the street altogether. Remus's questioning look promptly vanished from his face as Sirius leaned in to press a quick kiss to his cheek.
He immediately lifted his hand to touch the patch of skin momentarily warmed by Sirius's lips in pleasant contrast to the chill sting of the snow. He was glad the winter weather had reddened his cheeks in advance, especially when he glanced down at the space between them.
Shyly, Sirius offered him his hand.
Remus nibbled his lower lip to suppress a giddy, pleased smile. "Oh, go on then," he said, linking their cold fingers together. He felt Sirius squeeze back gently. Together, they started up the street again.
It was funny how things worked out, Remus thought then. This time last year he'd been writing about musicians from London, and now he was holding hands with one in the very same place. He didn't question it. He couldn't. It was Sirius who had made it clear to him that there was no point looking back. If you wanted to get anywhere, you had to keep going forward. Sometimes you had to be spontaneous, and sometimes you had to just take things as they came, take chances when they arose. If there was one thing Sirius Black had taught him, it was that there was a first time for everything, and thinking in such a way made the world a much more exciting place to be. Remus was doing his best to remember that.