After Remus learned of Sirius’s innocence, he wanted to go to him. He wanted to apologize, and to make up for everything Sirius had gone through. But, he still had no idea where they stood. He didn’t get to talk to Sirius after the full moon, and was only left with the conversations that they had earlier. None of which were about their relationship. But if Remus was concerned about how much he thought about Sirius before all this happened, he was unprepared for what happened the next year. All he did was think about Sirius. He would write a letter addressed to Sirius, but would never send them. Sirius might want to be alone, he must be in hiding somewhere. What if Remus gave him away? He couldn't risk being the reason Sirius went back to Azkaban.
At least he had enough money from his job at Hogwarts to move to a small house in the middle of nowhere. He didn’t want to potentially put any one at risk, as he didn't have the resources to continue making the Wolfsbane potion. He was safe here. As was everyone else. He still couldn't get over that he was too distracted by Sirius's return and innocence that he put Harry and his friends in danger. As much as Sirius had told him he wasn't a monster, this was one of the times it was hard to believe it.
Mostly, he was glad that he could move away from the other werewolves and half breeds. Before working at Hogwarts, Remus was living in a crumbling condo full of broke wizards or creatures that smelled like dark magic and piss. The area was packed full of down-on-their-luck wizards. Not that they were all terrible people - but there were beggars everywhere. People in clothes that looked worse than his. Most people there were addicts or alcoholics, and spent a lot of time at shitty bars that Remus could care less for. But he’d still go sometimes for the company. For most people, life after the first war had changed for the better. But for Remus things only got worse.
Now, he spent all of his time alone at his secluded cottage. He had a shitty under-the-table job of helping out some parents who homeschooled their kids. His success at Hogwarts got around to a few people, and all he did was send owls with suggestions and tips on teaching defense against the dark arts, as well as some charms work too. It was easy, and he was making some money. But life still wasn’t much better. At least he finally knew that Sirius was innocent.
One day, a bird Remus didn’t recognize came to deliver a letter. It didn’t look like it was even from England, and Remus immediately thought of Sirius. The note was written in code but Remus understood it completely. Sirius was worried about Harry - of course he was - Remus was worried too. But Sirius was traveling back to Hogsmeade in order to be closer. The thought of Sirius getting caught before they got to talk was terrifying. Sirius probably wouldn’t even get a chance to defend himself before they sucked his soul. Sirius wanted Remus to meet him - in the shrieking shack, just like the old days.
Remus was counting down the days until he got to see him. He wrote out exactly what he wanted to say and what he wanted to ask. He talked to himself in the mirror. He played out the conversation over and over again in his head. He wasn’t sure what he wanted. But he knew he never stopped loving Sirius - even when Sirius was a supposed mass murderer and traitor.
Finally the day came. Remus would’ve cried himself to sleep the night before if he had got any. Instead he downed 3 cups of coffee, and apparated as close as he could to the shrieking shack. It was hard to keep himself calm as he got closer to the shack. He kept his head down, not wanting to be reminded of what everything was like before the war. Just being near the village was bringing back the memories of the 4 of them running around Hogsmeade, fucking with Madam Rosmerta and spending all of their cash at Zonkos.
When he finally walked in, he saw a black dog walking in circles - pacing very human like. As soon as Sirius saw him he transformed back into himself.
“Remus.” They hugged. Before they hugged like friends, but now, they’re hugging like they used to. It was the hug Remus would give Sirius after they both got back from dangerous missions. There were tears in both of the men’s eyes when they broke apart.
“Sirius, how have you been, really?” Remus asked. He really wanted to hear that Azkaban wasn’t that bad, and that being on the run was even better. Like a vacation even. But Remus knew that wasn’t true. He could see it in his eyes. The pain and the fear and the loss of too many loved ones - so long ago, but still there.
“You don’t look so good Moons,” he said, looking Remus up and down. “I mean I know I’m the one who was falsely accused of our friend’s murder and has spent the last 13 years as a guilty man, but you...” he trailed off. Remus knew what he meant. “How have the moons been?”
Remus shook his head. As if anything he’s been through could even compare to Sirius. He couldn’t speak. He didn’t know what to say. He was racking his brain for the things he wrote, read, and spoke to himself earlier. But there was nothing.
“Sirius.” They locked eyes. They both looked so hurt and so run-down. It’s hard to imagine that they were ever as happy as they were. Finally Remus felt the words building up in his throat. “Sirius, I spent every day for the past 13 years thinking of you. I spent countless days going over everything we went through together. Every conversation we had. I couldn’t believe it. James was dead. And Peter was supposedly dead. And you were locked up. And I was the only one that was ok. But I was never ok, not with what you did. And I could never believe it. I couldn't believe that you - I mean you of all people - could do something like that. And I’ve been trying to just hate you for so long, and I couldn't, and now I don’t have to." Remus looked into Sirius's eyes, but Sirius said nothing, so he continued. "And trust me, it was probably the biggest relief ever I can’t even begin to explain. But my brain is just so confused I don’t know what to believe anymore. I just...”
At this point, there were tears streaming down his cheeks and he could barely talk. "I’m sorry that you had to go through what you did. I’m sorry I wasn’t there when you went to James. I’m sorry. I could’ve stopped you. I could’ve saved you.” The last part came out as a sob, and Remus felt his chest tighten and the room started to seemingly get smaller. But then all he felt was Sirius’s embrace.
“Remus,” Sirius said so quietly, Remus probably wouldn’t have been able to hear it if his mouth wasn’t this close to his ear. “Don’t ever apologize for what happened to me. Please.” His voice was cracking, but he didn’t stop talking. “I never wanted to see you in pain. I never wanted to hurt you. That night, I was broken. I didn’t know what to do. I shouldn’t have gone looking for Peter. I should’ve gone to you, and we could’ve helped each other.” He stood there, just holding Remus for a second before saying anything else. Remus's breaths were slowing down, but there were still tears streaking his face. “The past is done. It’s over with. And we’re alive and we’re here.” At this he pulled away from Remus, and tilted Remus’s head up with his hand, so that they were looking into each other’s eyes. “We’re alive.”
“I never stopped loving you Pads,” Remus whispered. “Even when you were a mass murderer,” he added with a watery chuckle, but his weak smile disappeared as he added: “Even when I thought you were the one who killed James and Lily.”
“I could never stop loving you.” There were no sounds except for the two of them breathing.
“Were the dementors bad to you?”
“Worse than you can imagine.”
“What’d I say about apologizing to me?” Remus laughed and pulled Sirius into a watery kiss. A kiss that seemed to turn the men into boys again. On Sirius’s bed in their dorm. Remus tasting of chocolate and cigarettes and Sirius of everything good ever. No one had known then. It was so easy. James was as alive as ever, probably flirting with Lily or running down the hallways or flying on his broom. Peter was still their friend, laughing at their jokes, and keeping their secrets. Everyone was happy and young and safe.
It’s crazy how much things can change. But some things never do.