Some Things Never Change
The plaque on the door was coated with grey dust, but his name was clear. The name of the star, but most importantly, the boy. Reaching out slowly, Remus lupin dragged his index finger over the six letters, clearing them of the dust and feeling the grooves of the two S's, the two I's, the R and the U. A name befitting the most noble and ancient bloodline - a name that would be followed by another that held more weight than shackles. Sirius had always despised being a Black, but made it his life's ambition to prove that he was different.
For a long time, Remus wondered if he himself was just another step in Sirius's plot to remove himself so completely from the Blacks. By associating with a half-breed and a half-blood, Sirius certainly made his stance clear with his friendship with Remus. And as a grown man, Remus still wondered, was still insecure, still doubted that someone as wild and handsome would choose to be... befriend someone so bookish and boring.
Remus took a deep breath and then moved to turn the doorknob of the bedroom, swinging it open. The hinges protested with a look creaking, warning him that entering would probably end badly. But Remus knew every booby-trap in Sirius Black's book, and knew exactly which floorboard not to step on and what wires to step over. Muggle and magical pranks lined every space in the room, a fortress protected forever from intrusion.
The room was boyhood immortalized. Quidditch posters stuck permanently to the walls, trinkets suspended from the ceiling, those Muggle glow-in-the-dark stars stuck all over, their glow long since faded. It was cluttered still with shoes, socks, boxers, and things. A broom was propped up in the corner, covered with cobwebs. Every inch of dresser, desk, and windowsill was blanketed with dust, as were the comforters of his rather large, unmade, Gryffindor-colored bed.
Strolling in, Remus sat on the edge of the bed and looked up at the top of the four-poster bed from the sleeper's point of view.
On the top were dozens of engraved pictures and words. They were all done with a pocket knife that Remus saw now on the bedside table, rusted shut and unmoved for decades. He lifted it into his palms, fingers the cool metal of it.
Remus remembered the last summer Sirius spent in the Black household and remembered what they'd carved up there.
"Sirius, are you sure that's a good idea? You could fall."
"You're such an old woman, Moony," Sirius snorted, giving a bounce on the bed to jostle his friend. He stood straight up in the middle of the comforter, head bent back - which couldn't have been comfortable, Remus reflected - and twirling the knife expertly in his right hand. "I do this all the time. Stop worrying so much."
Lying on his back, looking up, watching Sirius cautiously, Remus crossed his arms and said, "I'm not worrying. I'm just warning you that with one slip of your foot, you'll be stabbing yourself or me. And I really am not in any mood to be stabbed today, Sirius."
"Oh, bosh," Sirius said. "Whose never in the mood for a good stabbing?" There was a loud crunchy sound as Sirius dragged the tip of his knife through the wood.
"Why don't you just use a wand?"
Sirius gave a dramatic gasp. "Remus Lupin suggesting I use my magic outside of school? Why, I'm quite disappointed in you, actually."
"Please, as if that's stopped you before," Remus scoffed. "Now, what exactly are you drawing?"
"Not drawing. Writing."
"I thought you told me that you needed to tell me something?"
"I do. But I am going to write it, up here, on my bed, instead of speaking. It's much more romantic that way."
Remus raised an eyebrow. "And why would it need to be romantic?"
Then, pulling away, Sirius gazed upward at his masterpiece with a satisfied huff and a "There. Finished!" Flipping the knife closed, Sirius dropping abruptly back onto the bed, making the whole mattress jump and sending Remus a foot into the air.
There, on the top of the bed, freshly carved, very simply were the initials and word "SB + RL 4EVER" with a heart around them.
"I admit," Remus said, raising an eyebrow. "I'm confused."
"I'm bent, you idiot. And I'm bent for you."
"If this is your idea of a prank -"
"What kind of prank would it be, proclaiming that I'm a shirt-lifter and telling you I fancy you? Hardly benefits me in anyway."
Remus's brow furrowed. "You're fifteen."
"I am. Or, rather, in about a month I'll be sixteen. Does that help?"
"Not particularly. I'm just confused."
"I love you."
Smirking at the memory, Remus shook his head. Sirius never was graceful about delicate conversation. Like a freight train, he just plowed through, relentless and determined to say what he felt he needed to say. And forget tact, he had none. Plus he only ever said what he thought, when he thought it.
Shucking off his shoes with two quickly kicks, Remus hefted himself up onto the bed and stood up to touch the heart with their initials in it. He remembered being so freaked out with the sudden proclamation. Remus had spent the entire previous year telling himself that the weird feelings he had for his friend would fade with time - just a phase, he thought - and then to have the said friend declare rather shockingly that he loved him was... off-putting. Remus hadn't known what to feel. He felt a little nauseus at first, but then Sirius had kissed him and suddenly the world stopped spinning and his heart started. He remembered every feeling that he'd been afraid of being laid out in front of him and clarified.
Remus had loved Sirius, too.
With a heavy sigh, Remus dropped his hand from the carving and went onto the next. There were a collection of animals drawn up there - a stag, a dog, a wolf, and... a rat. With a pained scowl, Remus looked at the rat, the W written beside it. Remus weighted the pocket knife in his palm, twisting it open with some difficulty.
With an angry thrust, Remus threw the knife at the rat - but stopped the tip from touching it at the very last moment.
Years, this room had been preserved in 1976, never changing and never touched. Even when Sirius had returned briefly to his childhood home, he hadn't touched it. And Remus realized why.
In that room, it wasn't 1996. There'd been no Battle at the Department of Mysteries. James and Lily weren't dead. Sirius wasn't... gone. Harry wasn't even born. Peter wasn't a traitor. They were all just children, defacing their parents' furniture, waiting for the school year to start once more so that they could spend full moons in the Forest and afternoons flying on the pitch.
The knife was slid shut and Remus closed his eyes. Sirius would have wanted the room to live on as a time capsule, as a glimpse at a childhood of smiles before an adulthood of suffering. There should be no trace of the future, no reminder of the rat's treason.
With a heavy pang in his chest, Remus couldn't deny it anymore. The sob ripped from his throat and he dropped to his knees on the bed, the springs screeching under his weight. Squeezing his eyes shut, he pressed his face into the pillows, tucking his hands under to pull them up and into his face. But his hand brushed something rough underneath the pillow. Sitting up slightly, Remus felt around and found the parchment.
On it was his own handwriting, and after reading the very fist line of the letter, he remembered writing it like yesterday.
I know I freaked out. Perhaps that's a bit of an understatement, seeing as I was incoherent for a full eleven minutes by your count, but I wasn't freaked out that you kissed me. Quit the opposite. It was rather nice and I'd be lying if I haven't thought about it nonstop since it happened.
So, yes. I guess you could say I'm... how'd you put it?... "bent for you", but don't let it go to your head. That thing can barely fit through doorways as it is. You nearly as bad as James and I won't have you become intolerably arrogant seeing as I am now stuck with you "4ever" as you so eloquently put it on your bed. And now that its carved into your bed, its practically gospel, and who am I to argue with the roof of your bed? I know better than that.
Quaffle is in your court, then. I don't know what to do from here on. I'm clueless. More clueless than usual, that is. But, uh, I guess I should say what I didn't say the other day then, shouldn't I?
I, um, love you too.
PS. I'd vastly prefer it if you stop calling me "dumpling". Every time you do, it makes me hungry.
Through the tears that'd escaped minutes ago, Remus started laughing. Hard. So hard his stomach hurt. He remembered how his stomach had been in knots writing that letter the night after Sirius had kissed him. His hand had been shaking, and that fact was made evident in the unusual messiness of his handwriting, the quiver in his lines. It practically screamed hesitance and chagrin.
Now the tears coming from Remus's eyes were of joy. Joy in that he'd gotten the courage to write that letter that night, joy in the fact that Sirius had stashed the awkward letter under his pillow, or maybe just joy that he was being brought back into teenagerdom slowly with the room.
And for a minute, when Remus looked up, the dust disappeared and the curtains swung open, sunlight streaming in, brightening the walls. The posters no longer curled at the corners, the moth-eaten holes in the bedspread were mended, and the broom looked brand new, the handle glistening with fresh polish. He could smell the sweaty socks and the leather of new Quidditch supplies, and that weird shampoo that Sirius always used. The reds were more vibrant, as were the golds, and the ghosts of his friends in their youth lounged across the room in its former glory.
He saw it, as if through a Pensieve, a bystander, without participating.
James was hanging upside-down off the bed, his crazy black hair hanging and his glasses slipping off of his nose. Sirius was sitting on top of his dresser, legs dangling, and kicking boyishly. Peter was sitting, laughing at something James had said, in the chair at the desk. And Remus himself, skin clear of wrinkles and hair grey-less, was lounging sitting cross-legged on the floor, wondering with awe at how he'd ever been so blessed with such hilarious, happy, invincible, and incredible friends.
And as fast as the memory had come, it vanished with only a breath, leaving in its wake a bone-deep cold.
It didn't feel much like a time capsule anymore. More like a grave.
Remus decided to make one modification to the top of the bed. With Sirius's knife, he planted words there next to their 4EVER heart for the rest of the bed's existence, before standing up and walking towards the door.
Raking his gaze over every inch of the room once more, Remus slowly closed the door, laying his childhood to rest, leaving behind four simple, freshly-carved words:
I love you too. - M
~ So Long And Thanks For All The Fish