At The Water's Edge
by Victoria P.


Sirius looked up from the newspaper as Remus opened his eyes. He put the paper down and moved to the bed.

"You all right, there, Moony?"

"Been worse. Feel like I been rode hard and put away wet." Sirius blinked and Remus gave a tired smile. "It's a, uh, colorful Americanism."

"Oh." Sirius thought about that. "You went to the States while I was in Azkaban."

"For a while." Remus rolled his shoulders, and Sirius could hear his joints crack. "Rumors of a Native shaman who could help with the curse." He yawned. "Obviously, that didn't quite work out. Beautiful country, though. You'd like it."

"Beautiful country here, Moony." Sirius nodded his chin toward the window, which overlooked a stretch of white sand and blue ocean. Remus's parents had left him the little summer cottage on the beach; it was the only thing they’d had left after a lifetime of searching for a cure for lycanthropy. Sirius had visited the Lupins at this house once, and he and Moony had spent their first summer after Hogwarts here. He'd been surprised when Dumbledore's directions sent him here after he'd left Surrey.

Remus squinted against the late afternoon sunlight dappling the bedroom. "You let me sleep all day."

"Seemed like you needed it."

Remus sighed and swung his legs off the bed. "I have things to do, Sirius. I can't spend all day lounging in bed."

Sirius shrugged off Remus's annoyance. "Seemed like you needed it," he repeated.

Remus grunted in response, rose and padded into the bathroom. When he came back into the bedroom, he said, "I'm fine, Sirius. I've been doing this al-- a long time."

Alone. He'd been doing it alone, was what he was going to say. Sirius felt the burn of old anger and guilt, bitterness and regret swell in his chest. "You're not thirteen anymore."

"None of us is," Remus replied, stripping off the robe Sirius had bundled him into after he'd transformed in the predawn coolness.

Sirius's mouth went dry and a thrill of something long forgotten sparked along his nerves. Remus appeared not to notice as he changed into a pair of faded jeans with holes at the knees, and a t-shirt that had once probably been black or green, but was now an unappetizing shade of brown. Though it looked good on Remus. Most things did, Sirius thought idly. Nakedness most of all. And Remus was apparently unfazed at being naked in Sirius's presence. Which was odd. Because there had been a time--

Sirius stopped that line of thought, because while it felt like almost no time at all had passed since then, it had been fourteen long, hard years. For both of them. He'd only been here a few days, wasn't sure how things would shake out.

Besides, Remus was most likely not in any physical shape for messing about today, so it was utterly pointless to get all worked up about it.

On the other hand, Sirius was glad to know he still could get all worked up about it. Twelve years in Azkaban had changed him a lot, and the equipment hadn't been working all that well just after his escape.

"Will you finish packing up the books? I have some notes to transcribe for Dumbledore." Remus's question interrupted Sirius's thoughts. Remus ran an impatient hand through his hair; he had never been one for preening before a mirror. He always seemed surprised by his reflection. "I need a haircut."

Sirius was fairly certain that last bit was rhetorical, but he responded anyway. "Looks good to me."

Remus flashed him a half-grin and left the room.

They spent the afternoon working quietly, Remus at his notes, Sirius packing Remus's books. He wasn't sure why Remus had decided to come with him to Grimmauld Place, but he was happy he had. It meant they could at least revive their friendship, even if everything else was lost. And he'd take whatever measure of support he could get in the old hellhole.

After a dinner of fresh fish and store-bought chips, they settled in the small living room, Remus with the newspaper, Sirius prowling the room, unable to settle in one spot for long. He kept stealing glances at Remus, long fingers splayed over the paper, hair burnished copper by the light of the setting sun, coming in through the open windows.

"I'm bored," Sirius said, after a long, companionable silence broken only by the rattling of the newspaper.

"Have you fed Buckbeak?" The hippogriff was living in the basement.

Sirius nodded. He spent some time with his fellow fugitive every day.

"We could sit outside," Remus went on. "There's a nice breeze off the water."

"Chess?" Sirius asked.

Remus smiled. "Bring it along. I can kick your arse outdoors as well as in."

"I'd like to see you try," Sirius replied with a grin.

In less than ten minutes, they were out on the beach, lounging on an old plaid blanket spread on the sand, equipped with Remus's chessboard and a bottle of brandy.

It was dark by the time the chess match ended, Remus eking out a narrow victory because Sirius was too distracted to pay attention to the game, fascinated by the play of light and darkness over Remus's features, and the way his fingers, strong and gentle, moved the well-worn and somewhat sleepy pieces across the board.

Sirius lay back while Remus put the chess set away. The no-longer-full moon bathed the beach in light. The water was dark, yet dappled with diamonds, stretching to the horizon; the sand was bleached bone white, warm and soft beneath the blanket.

They were alone for the moment, which was fine with Sirius.

Much as when they were younger, Remus seemed to be thinking along the same lines.

"Once school is out and people begin arriving for the summer, we're not going to be able to do this," Remus said.

Sirius shrugged. "We'll be in London by then."

Remus looked as if he were about to launch into a lecture, so Sirius slipped into shape as Padfoot. He romped amid the foam at the shoreline, reveling in the warmth of the night, the soft breeze through his fur, and Remus's attention.

Remus sat with his elbows resting on his knees, bare feet digging into the sand. He laughed at Padfoot's antics for a while, then lay back and stared at the stars.

Sirius, bored without an audience, resumed his original shape and flopped down on the blanket, shaking out his wet hair.


"Water's nice," Sirius said, grinning, snuggling up to Remus, still sometimes a little more dog than man.


"We should go swimming."

"Feel free," Remus said, turning his head and smiling. He was so close. All Sirius had to do was lean in and they'd be kissing. He closed his eyes, took a deep breath, but couldn't find the courage to cross the small space between them, which masked the giant chasm of fourteen years.

"No fun without you, Moony." Remus made a non-committal noise. It took Sirius a moment to recognize it as his, "Please try to convince me to do whatever daft thing you're planning," noise. He nudged Remus's shoulder with his own. "Moony," he whined. "Come swim with me."

"My swimming trunks are in the house. And I don't have a pair that would fit your fat arse anyway." Remus managed to say it with a straight face.

"Fat? I am not fat!"

Remus sighed, and Sirius nudged him again. "Don't. Please," he said, all levity gone from this tone. He couldn't handle this lovely night turning into another rehashing of the past, couldn't face the sorrow haunting Remus's eyes whenever he thought Sirius wasn't looking.

Remus nodded once, decisively, and his voice was bright as he said, "All right then, Sirius. But I'll be cursing your name later when I have to wash sand out of some very private places." And with that, Remus stood and pulled his t-shirt over his head.

Sirius stopped fidgeting for a moment, watching. Remus was thin enough that his ribs were visible under his skin, and the grey in his hair glinted in the moonlight. Old scars gleamed white against the tan skin of his shoulders and back. Sirius didn't recognize some of them, and had to fight off a wave of melancholy at what he'd -- they'd -- lost.

Remus's hands moved to the fly of his jeans and Sirius caught his breath, watching, feeling heat flare along his skin. Remus looked down at him and laughed, stripping off jeans and boxers in one quick move. He walked to the water, and Sirius admired the long, smooth muscles of his legs and arse.

"Well? Are you coming?" Remus called over his shoulder.

"Sooner than you think," Sirius muttered, undressing quickly and following.

The water was colder without fur to insulate him. He knifed through the waves, swimming skills honed from his time in the tropics. He wondered idly about convincing Remus to join him in a place that was warm all year round, where they could have little drinks with umbrellas in them brought by handsome young men named Carlos, and swim in the ocean whenever they wanted, without worrying about hypothermia.

Remus floated nearby, occasionally kicking to keep his head above water.

"Lazy," Sirius teased.

Remus nodded, unfazed.

They were quiet for a while, lulled by the shushing of the waves against the shore. The air, which seemed so warm earlier, was now cool against Sirius's wet skin. He turned to suggest heading back inside for more brandy and maybe a fire, and Remus was gone.

"Oh shit." 'This was a bad idea. He's not strong enough. Never should have suggested it. Oh, God. Let him be all right. He has to be all right--'

He spun in the water, trying to see where Remus had gone, and he was pulled under. He came up sputtering curses, Moony's laughing face above him.

"Goddammit, Remus, don't do that," he growled, grabbing Remus's shoulders and almost sinking the two of them. "I thought you were drowning." It sounded stupid now that he'd said it aloud.

Remus sobered immediately. "It's okay," he said, brushing Sirius's heavy, wet hair off his face. "It's okay."

Remus moved closer, but it was too much. Sirius pulled away, swam back to shore, not checking to see if Remus followed, but hearing him breathe in time with the waves.

They collapsed on the blanket, shivering, huddling close for warmth. For a few moments, Sirius thought he'd never be warm again, thought he'd ruined a good evening with his paranoia. He wasn't sure which was worse, nor which caused more shivering -- the cool air on his wet body or the idea that Remus could have drowned, that he could have caused them both to drown when he panicked. Luckily, Remus was a strong swimmer.

Remus pressed in close, damp skin and wet hair, distantly familiar, like a faded copy of a photograph, something Sirius knew he'd known, but couldn't quite recall in detail. Remus's head fit perfectly between Sirius's neck and shoulder, one arm wrapped around Sirius's body, the other pulling the blanket over top of them to block out the breeze.

"Sand," Remus said, his voice rumbling in Sirius's ear, "sand in very private places!" And he laughed, warm breath sending new shivers down Sirius's spine, shivers of desire. He threw one leg over both of Remus's, wasn't sure which of them gasped as their cocks brushed.

"Remus." Sirius poured everything he'd ever felt into the word, making it a promise, a prayer, a reclamation.

"Sirius," Remus answered with equal reverence, an affirmation of his own.

Sirius wanted to say something more, something brilliant and worthy of this man lying next to him, so strong and full of sorrow. No words arrived; he put his mouth to better use, moving it over Remus's lips, warm and soft and tasting of fine old brandy and salt from the sea.

Remus opened his mouth, the touch of his tongue against Sirius's sending shockwaves down to his rapidly growing erection.

He moved his hips, wrenching a small moan from Remus, who pushed back against him. That friction was the best damn thing he'd ever experienced. He ran a hand through Remus's hair, over his shoulders, down his back. Remus pressed even closer, as if trying to climb inside his skin. Sirius broke the kiss, hungry for more, for every inch of skin he could lay hands and lips and tongue on.

Remus twined those long, strong fingers through his hair, tugged his head back and nipped at his throat.

"Remus," he managed, earning a grin, a flash of white teeth gleaming in the moonlight. He was drowning in sensation, overwhelmed by the feel of skin against skin, the sand clinging to both of them, the scent and taste of Remus surrounding him. It was almost more than he could bear.

Sirius slid a hand between them, bumping Remus's, obviously heading in the same direction. They laughed, Remus's mouth against his ear, his pressed to Remus's chest.

"We used to be good at this," he muttered, and Remus laughed again.

"We had a lot of practice," Remus replied, wrapping a hand around Sirius's cock and stroking. Sirius was certain nothing had ever felt so good. He thought he would die if Remus stopped, and die if he didn't. He tensed, aware he was going to climax far too quickly. He wanted to pay attention, watch Remus come before he lost himself in his own orgasm.

"No--" he gasped. The hand disappeared, snatched back as if burned, disappointment flashing over Remus's face. "No. I mean--" He took Remus's hand and guided it to his cock. "Please. I want--" Remus’s smile returned; he resumed stroking, and it was too much for Sirius. "God, Remus." Pleasure ripped through him, beginning at the base of his spine and spiraling though his body, Remus's touch enough to make him lose complete control. He spilled himself over Remus's hands and body like a sixteen-year-old virgin.

"Oh." Remus breathed. "Sirius."

"I'm sorry," he muttered, burying his face in Remus's hair.


He raised his head, could feel his ears burning. "I was a little quick on the trigger."

The smile Remus gave him was so bright it outshone the moon above. "It's okay. In fact, it's better than okay, Sirius. It's absolutely wonderful."

"You're never going to let me forget this." He pouted theatrically. At least Remus hadn't laughed.

"I hope not." Remus kissed him quickly, eyes, nose, lips. "We have time, Sirius. Lots of time."

"We lost a lot of time."

"We'll make up for it. Just --" Remus squeezed him tight. "Don't worry about it."

"I want to touch you," Sirius said, changing the subject, suiting action to words. "I want to make you come." He fisted Remus's cock, memory and instinct guiding him.

"Oh," Remus said again, nothing more than a puff of air against Sirius's lips. Sirius breathed him in, stroking faster; he took Remus's mouth in another kiss, matching the rhythm of his hand with his tongue.

Remus bucked against him, one hand on his hip, the other tangled in his hair. The hand in his hair tightened painfully as Remus tensed and shuddered. Remus threw his head back, tendons standing out in sharp relief, and came with a low growl Sirius felt down to his toes. It made him shiver with delight.

They lay sated and entangled for a few moments; Sirius was content to feel Remus breathing against him, the stars circling overhead.

Remus stirred and reached over him; a murmured, "Scourgify," and they were both clean. Remus settled back against him, and again they were quiet, listening to the ocean meet the shore.

"I missed you," Remus said quietly, and Sirius was surprised to realize he knew how much else Remus was saying with those words.

"Yeah," he replied.

"We should go in." Remus made no move to get up as he spoke. "Still have packing to do in the morning, and sleeping on sand isn't the best idea." 'No,' Sirius thought, 'Remus ought to be in bed tonight.' And maybe in bed, they could have another go, and this time he'd last a bit longer.

"Why are we moving again?" Sirius asked, remembering the horror of his life at number twelve, Grimmauld Place.

Remus raised himself up on one elbow and stared down at Sirius. "To help the Order. To help Harry.

"Oh. Yeah. Right." Sirius knew those were good reasons, important reasons to move back to London, to lock himself up and give away his freedom.

Remus brushed Sirius's damp hair behind one of his ears. "You're doing a good thing, Sirius. You know that."

"I know. I just--" He sighed.

"Best not to borrow trouble, Sirius. It will come our way soon enough." Remus kissed him lightly, and lay back down, snuggling up against him.

'So much for going inside,' Sirius thought, smiling. He wiggled a little, trying to find the perfect position as the sand shifted beneath them.

He was free, for the moment, and with his best friend. It was enough.


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