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by melihobbit

If we had this night together
If we had a moment to ourselves
If we had this night together, then we'd be unstoppable
- The Calling – Unstoppable

I. Prologue.

There is a great sadness about people who appear to be old beyond their years; the truth is that they have lost something beautiful to them, something as simple and indefinable as a memory. The greatest moments of our lives are sometimes the ones we miss, and passing from our consciousness they can never be recalled; they are simply lost in the caverns of time like an old book filed away in a huge library, unlabeled and impossible to find again. The tragedy is when you know deep inside your heart you are going to lose something, and there is no way you can save it. It is beyond your grasp, like an ephemeral mist that passes through your desperate fingers like water, always slipping away, always just out of reach.

The best moments of your life can be over in an instant. And sometimes, by the time you realise how special these moments are, they are long gone.

II. Brotherhood.

Two figures walked side by side on the path towards the lake. The frigid, moonless night formed an expanse above the treetops, among which several solitary stars flickered restlessly. The boys’ gaunt outlines- one taller than the other, with a mop of dark, casually messy hair; the other shorter but slender, his movements possessing a sweet, self-conscious grace- formed twin shadows against the gloom pressing in from all sides. Around them there radiated an unusually affectionate, comfortable atmosphere, of the type that can only be found in the presence of very good friends.

They walked unhurriedly, their hands swinging easily, their steps out of synch with one another causing the dry brush under their feet to crunch in angry protest at each footfall.
Their voices were somehow lost against the expanse of the sky and the road, and the encroaching dark, but were audible at close range.

“Pity those Slytherins didn’t see us, actually. We could’ve had a bit of fun with them.”

“Yeah, and let them go running to the Headmaster to tell him we were hanging around in Hogsmeade after hours.”

“So what? So were they. They’d want to have a bloody good excuse to get them out of that.”

“You’re drunk, Sirius.”

“Ah… is that why you offered to walk me home? What a gentleman.”

“Well, no- I got the feeling Prongs and Wormtail couldn’t stand the sight of you anymore. I was just sort of… stuck with you.”

“Oh, really?” Sirius took a swipe that clipped Remus playfully on the ear; the other boy ducked away, grinning.

The taller boy swung an arm around the young Remus Lupin’s shoulders and gently pulled him to his side. Smiling, he stared up at the sky. “Moony,” he said in an almost confidential voice, pointing, “See there? Know what that star’s called?”

Remus shook his head briefly, following the direction of Sirius’ finger, which had pointed out the brightest star in the sky.

“Never mind. Neither do I,” Sirius said rakishly, and grinned in his ear. “No bloody idea.” He turned his eyes back to the sky, as Remus allowed himself a quiet, indulgent little smile. You never were much of an astronomer, Padfoot.

The wind hummed softly between the trees. Sirius turned around and began walking backwards, a smile plastered across his face at the sudden return of a memory.

“Did you see the look on Snivellus’ face when Prongs flipped him over today?” He let out a bark of loud laughter.

Remus glanced over his shoulder surreptitiously, as if to make sure that no-one was listening. “I don’t think he should’ve done it,” He said in a quiet voice, throwing a glance at Sirius.

“Oh, come on. Even Evans thought it was pretty funny.”

“No, I mean… humiliating him like that. In front everyone.” Remus swallowed, realising his voice had an uncomfortable, strained quality about it. “Just didn’t seem right.”

Sirius continued walking backwards in long, loping strides, but the easy amusement faded slowly from his face. His dark eyes watched Remus carefully. “You never said anything at the time,” he said casually, but there was a note of concern in his voice.

Remus just shook his head, shrugged, and looked away into the dark bushes at the side of the road. “Not much point, was there?”

The smile returned, but it was unsure this time. “Don’t tell me you feel sorry for the little bastard.”

Remus shrugged again, gave Sirius a small glance, and then looked away lest his eyes betray him. “I just don’t think the punishment fit the crime. That’s all.”

“Those ’Slitherings’ deserve everything they get,” Sirius said flatly, but fell into step beside Remus again, walking forwards. A silence descended and their footsteps melded into each other, overlapping, falling apart, in and out of step with each other.

After a long time Sirius placed an arm gently across Remus’ shoulders, pulling their bodies closer to each other. Remus savoured the warmth of Sirius’ tall presence beside him and a slight, contented smile touched at the corners of his mouth. When Sirius spoke again, jarring in the silence, it startled him.

“You know I’ll always look out for you, don’t you Moony?”

Remus looked across at him, their faces very close now, and couldn’t help it- despite the seriousness of his friend’s face; the smile spread into a grin. “What are you, my big brother?”

The taller boy’s eyes remained serious, though his lips curved a little, and when he spoke again his fingers tightened on Remus’ shoulder. “I’m just saying. You’re never alone. Not ever. I want you to remember that.” He seemed to want to say more, but unable to. The words both spoken and unspoken hung in the air between them.

The smile seeped away from Remus’ face. There was an immense gravity in Sirius’ voice that he had never heard before, and a raw, fearless honesty.

“Yeah, I know,” he replied softly, looking into Sirius’ depthless, dark eyes. He saw an odd kind of calmness fall over Sirius. The muscles of his face relaxed; the slight frown that had been creasing his forehead smoothed out. There was some deep and powerful emotion within, and Remus couldn’t figure it out, or get past Sirius’ mask to reach it. Slowly the moment passed, and Sirius broke eye contact, though his arm remained firmly in place around Remus’ shoulders, a strong, comforting weight. They walked in silence, enjoying the moment of brotherhood, of togetherness, of simply being.

Remus glanced up at the moonless, grey-lit sky and wondered, if they would ever be like this again, just the two of them walking in the dark, and he was reminded- absurdly- of a line from an old Muggle film.

There’s no place like home.

His eyes abruptly began to sting and he wiped them with a thumb, face turned away, hoping Sirius wouldn’t see.

III. Home.

Hogwarts slowly reared into view like a fantastic glittering jewel, its many lights casting the surrounding landscape in a soft, otherworldly glow. Its twin, a reflection in the lake, rippled and gleamed serenely, welcoming the two boys back to the grounds of Hogwarts. Seventeen year old Sirius Black turned to his friend Remus Lupin, his dark hair blown back from his forehead by the cool wind, a boyish smile lighting up his face with reckless charm. He ruffled Remus’ hair playfully.

“What are we?”

“Marauders,” Remus replied with a quiet smile of his own, the faint sting of tears returning with a rush of warmth and compassion for the boy beside him- the boy he loved unashamedly, completely, in that moment. “And we’re unstoppable.”

IV. Epilogue.

The night of Sirius’ death, Remus Lupin cried in his sleep and dreamed of the night when he was Moony, Sirius was Padfoot, they were Marauders, the world was beautiful and they were unstoppable.

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