PG, 900 words.
Summary: Remus comes to meet Sirius by the sea before he finally leaves for the fugitive life.
Dedication: For sambethe - happy birthday! &hearts
The name bounces along the rocks, before getting thrown into the crest of a wave. Remus stands on the Normandy shoreline, the wind blowing his robes back and half-blinded by the setting sun. For a few minutes, he can hear nothing but crashing waves, and sees nothing but sky.
The rocks begin to chink together behind him, and he turns around to an emaciated dog creeping towards him. A sudden flash of happier days, a different shore, and his heart cracks open.
"What are you still doing here?" Remus asks. "It's not safe, it's too close. Look, you can almost see Britain." He stares out over the sea, as though to illustrate his point.
There's no reply. Remus looks at the dog and sits down. What feels like a long time passes, then he feels the need to break the silence.
"I resigned, you know. Now part of that fine tradition of one-year Defence teachers, I suppose. I'll be able to get by for a little while on what I saved of my wages, but after that?" He shakes his head. "But that doesn't matter, not really. Luck of the draw, that's all." The dog shifts its head on its paws, looking up at Remus. "You look terrible, you know," he says with a grin, receiving a furrowed forehead in answer. "You need to get out of here. I mean, I don't-- I want you to stay, and the injustice… Oh for God's sake. Sirius, I've been reduced to talking to myself for years, please change back."
It takes a shuffling moment to comply, then Sirius sits against a rock. Where there was wild burn energy, that night in the Shack, now he seems almost drained of all life, but he smiles, and Remus is helpless to do anything but smile back.
"I'll be leaving soon, don't worry," Sirius begins to say slowly. "Just want to make sure Buckbeak's ready to go."
Remus nodded. "Okay."
They stare at each other, until Remus bows his head and starts laughing. "Sorry! I don't know what to say."
Sirius looks confused for a moment, but then his smile widens and he laughs shortly too, a sound that grates against Remus' ears, but he doesn't care.
"It's alright," Sirius says. "You don't have to say anything. You came."
"Yeah, I did."
And now it is Sirius' gaze that is drawn out inexorably towards the sea. "I think I'd like to stay by the sea, wherever I go." It is then his turn to be silent for a while.
"I forgot about you, sometimes, in there. Because James, Harry, Peter, so much there for them to feed on. But all of my memories of you, they took them, or I hid them away so deep I couldn't remember any more."
"I hated you," Remus replies.
"But then I got out, and it's taking a long time, but I'm remembering again, stupid things, really. Like that summer we all went to the seaside, and you got that daft stripy sunburn."
"Entirely your fault," Remus says dryly.
"Really? Oh good."
"I don't want to know where you're going, I'm sure you understand. And I probably won't be able to meet you anywhere either. I was talking to Dumbledore before I left, and there's going to be a lot of questions. Snape is dying to put the blame on me, you can imagine, and you know no one's going to believe me whatever I say." Remus grunts shortly. "Some things haven't changed."
"Clearly." A flash of anger crosses Sirius' face for a moment.
"Some things have, though. Peace time, Sirius – can you imagine? We didn't fight for nothing."
Sirius sighs. "I wish I believed it was going to last. You know it won't, don't you?"
Remus shrugs. "I don't know."
"If you'd heard what I've heard…" Sirius shakes his head. "We'll see."
"And when it should come – if it should come – we'll be ready, this time."
Sirius bites his lip. "Fat lot of use I'll be, running away."
"It's not forever." Remus stands up. "Come on, you have to get out of here."
Remus gently helps Sirius to his feet. Sirius walks away, and Remus finally notices the sound of an impatient Hippogriff pawing at the ground.
Soon, he reappears, arm tucked around Buckbeak's neck.
"You know I'd come with you, if you asked," Remus says.
Sirius nods, and then suddenly moves towards him, gripping him in a shivering embrace. "Remus--" he begins.
"Don't." Remus shuts his eyes for a moment. "We'll have time, later. But you have to go now."
Remus feels a feather-light brush against his lips, a sigh against his neck, and Sirius steps back and smiles. "I'll just say goodbye, then."
"Goodbye." Remus manages to produce a smile back. "I'll see you soon."
"Yeah." Then Sirius is mounting his great steed and slowly soaring upwards, looking back constantly until he is a speck against the last rays of sun. Remus watches him go, with sea spray in his eyes, until at last the stars come out and call him home.