"So, what do you want to do today?"
Remus looked out the window, at the rain pouring down onto the dreary London streets, seeming to wash them even greyer than they had been before the skies had opened.
"Not go out in that, certainly. It's as if all the colour's being washed away."
Sirius sat down on the sofa beside him, watching him carefully.
"London's like that. Sometimes it seems to wash people's identities away too--or at least tries to."
Remus shot Sirius a sharp look, but Sirius was looking out the window, at the rain pelting the panes of glass.
"London rain seems so different from Hogwarts rain. Hogwarts rain was refreshing. This is...constrictive."
Sirius closed his eyes.
"I know that all too well. My parents never would let me outside when it rained."
Unspoken, of course, was that he was stuck in the house for hours on end, stuck with the parents and the little brother and the ill-spirited house-elves. Unspoken, but also understood. That was one of the reasons Sirius had asked Remus to be his flatmate, and Remus knew it. They didn't always need to talk about anything, and sometimes the silence was nice.
"Mine were always afraid I'd get sick in it. As if my lycanthropy really did make me fragile and sickly, first year excuses notwithstanding."
The rain seemed to be washing away the silence, too, but that was all right. Sometimes silence was nice, but other times, companionable talking was better. Sirius and Remus were equally content with either.
"You're anything but fragile. I don't know anyone tougher than you."
Remus smiled slightly. Sirius was easy with mean-nothing compliments. He doled out praise the way Mr Honeyduke doled out sweets—often, and with evident enjoyment. But that didn't make it any less nice to receive one.
"I know of at least one person tougher, and who would be quite unhappy that you’ve forgotten him—Alastor Moody.”
Remus smiled. Sirius scowled. Sirius’s mentor within the Aurors was infamous, and undoubtedly unforgettable. He’d probably be offended if he were ever overlooked.
“Moody doesn’t count. He’s a war-zone in and of himself.”
He certainly was, at that. You could map the path of his career on his face, with its many scars.
“He might not appreciate it if he ever heard you say that.”
Not that that would matter to Sirius. He was as free with insults as he was with compliments. Lily had often expressed annoyance over his flippancy, but Sirius would usually just grin at her, and she’d throw up her hands and declare him hopeless.
“Ah, he wouldn’t care. Anyway, hang what he thinks. He’s not important.”
Remus went back to looking out the window. Was it just him, or were the streets a little greyer, the pavement a little paler?
“Then what is important, Sirius?
Silence again for a moment. Remus let it stretch out, as he knew James would not have. If James had been Sirius’s flatmate, he’d have been badgering Sirius for an answer. But Sirius hadn’t asked James to be his flatmate.
“Life is important. And love, and hope.”
Honest answers were worth waiting for. No hurried, snapped-out answers, no automatic replies to make the questioner go away and let him think. Sirius could think here. So could Remus.
“What happens when love and hope go away?”
The rain showed no signs of abating, not even for a moment. If anything, it seemed to start coming down harder.
“Then we make them come back.”
Sirius sounded so sure. Remus looked away from the window in time to see Sirius looking at him with a tiny smile on his face, one that was dropped as soon as he noticed Remus watching him.
“Things aren’t always that simple.”
Most things weren’t, and love and hope were not excluded from that. In fact, love and hope were two of the most complicated things that Remus knew. Hope wasn’t easy, not when there was such a desperate need for the abilities Moody was training Sirius to use, not when Remus couldn’t hold a paying wizarding job for longer than the few months it would take for his employers to figure out what he was, and not with the rain pouring down and washing away all the colours of the world. And love was even harder.
“Sometimes things are that simple, Moony.”
Sirius’s voice was soft, and felt like cool velvet caressing his skin. Remus shivered, though he didn’t quite know why, and somehow the flat seemed to be getting warmer, regardless of the chilly wetness outside.
“But how can we hold onto them when there’s no way to stop them leaving?”
Some things are just so ephemeral; they slip through your fingers before they’re even properly known. Where can love and hope be found in the midst of a war? Where brother is pitted against brother, the light can’t hold back the darkness, and friendship can’t stay the nightmares?
“We don’t let them slip away.”
So easy to say, but was it that easy, really? Could such things be held on to when driven away by death and suffering? How could such light be found in a torrent of darkness?
“But how do we know when they’re about to?”
Sirius’s eyes were blue fire as they looked at him. Emotions raged, a previously frozen waterfall freed by the fire of Remus’s question. Remus could only watch as they surged around him and seemed to capture him and drag him within their depths.
“We just have to learn to pay attention…and to recognise things for how they are…”
Remus couldn’t breathe. How was it that he hadn’t burst into flames at that look in Sirius’s eyes? How was it that he couldn’t bring himself to look away?
“What if we don’t recognise them? What then?”
The light in Sirius’s eyes dimmed, and Remus was able to suck in a shuddering breath. He couldn’t do that when Sirius was looking at him that way, with the fire in his eyes. The rain outside increased in intensity. Sirius slumped back against the sofa.
“Then they’re lost, I suppose. And who knows if you’ll ever find them again?”
Remus closed his eyes. He didn’t want Sirius to look at him that way. He didn’t want him to reawaken old feelings, little stirrings from years ago when it was silky black hair and blue eyes that he couldn’t stop dreaming about. They had been buried, that they wouldn’t affect things in a way he could not bear…but they were not forgotten. Dreams had an odd habit of coming back when you least wanted them to, and this one would occasionally torture him with its sweetness and how utterly unattainable it was.
“What if we don’t want them to be lost, but don’t know what to do to find them?”
Love and hope, that’s what they’d originally been talking about. Remus had almost forgotten in the aftermath of fire, had almost thought they were talking about something else, though what, he didn’t know. Not yet. But he would soon. That, he knew.
“Don’t be afraid to look for them.”
Sirius’s voice was velvet again, soft, smooth, caressing. That voice was something Remus could listen to every day of his life. It made him feel like throwing his head back and howling. It felt like anticipation and culmination wrapped together and around him. He wanted more.
“But how will we know where to look?”
Odd, how it was Remus asking and Sirius answering. Their roles were usually reversed. And also odd, how refreshing the exchanged positions could sometimes be. Even with that tinge of uncertainty, sometimes it was nice to step out of the responsibility of knowledge-giver and be knowledge-seeker for once.
“Sometimes…the best place to search is right in front of you.”
Remus looked up, looked at the man sitting next to him on that patched-up old sofa. In the background he could still hear the rain, but in a muted sort of way, like it was buzzing in the back of his head. But the rain wasn’t important. Nothing was important right now except the one who was there.
Remus raised his hand, fingers spread wide. Sirius mirrored the action, and their hands hovered an inch apart, before they moved forward simultaneously, and met palm-to-palm. Warmth spread throughout Remus’s body as their fingers curled around each other, and Remus looked up to see Sirius looking at their joined hands, smiling.
An answer to a question Remus hadn’t finished asking, but that didn’t matter. Sirius always could answer his questions before he finished asking them. And this was one answer it seemed Remus had been waiting for all his life, as Sirius had been waiting to give it.
“The rain’s starting to stop.”
It was. Sirius looked out the window and to see the heavy clouds starting to part, the rain slowing down to a drizzle. He hadn’t let go of Remus’s hand. The sun peeked out from behind the clouds, illuminating the street, making the puddles and leftover droplets glisten and shine. The street was no longer the lifeless thing it had been during the storm. The colour was back, and all the dreariness had been washed away.