Sirius had always felt it was important to keep a clean shaven face. He often remarked that his cheekbones were easier to appreciate that way and his jaw seemed more defined. Remus agreed. His best friend was incredibly handsome and had excellent judgment on what made a person more attractive. Remus figured Sirius was right. And he wasn’t one to complain. On cold nights when they cuddled under the covers, Remus traced the animagi’s familiar bone structure and the comforting soft skin. He’d found home on his cheeks and calm on his lips.
But with the war raging, both men didn’t have time, or frankly, any fucks to give about shaving or their appearance. And while Remus grew a subtler stubble, Sirius came home each few days with an ever growing and luscious beard. “And of course the fucker grows a beard better than I.” thought Remus to himself, amused. Their relationship had always been built on trust and admiration, but most importantly, a heavy dose of rivalry. While James liked the role of wise mentor or prank companion, Remus liked to keep Sirius on his toes and present competition to the once young boy who often rested on his laurels. Only this time, Remus hoped Sirius wouldn’t make them compete on the beard thing. He would be sorely beat.
Speaking of the devil, Remus heard the rattling of keys behind the door of their flat. He found that muggle security, although not as effective as magic security, provided à sense of comfort and normalcy, so the pair carried their key everywhere they went. Sirius had decided to hang it around his neck, like à piece of jewelry and Remus loved it.
“Honeyyy, I’m homeeee.” said Sirius, pushing the door. He often said that in a fun loving tone, but right now, Remus could hear the strain of his voice. Joyless.
He stood up from the couch. Relieved. He’d been gone for the last five days and I’d had been torture. Sirius entered the living room, looking gloomy and exhausted. His shoulders were slouched, which was uncharacteristic for the prideful Gryffindor. But what could be considered characteristic in the midst of a war? Were these tired and scared versions of themselves the new normal?
“Sirius.” said the Remus. He grabbed his lover’s beautiful, beautiful face. The beard was still growing strong. It made him look older, wiser. Remus didn’t like it. He wanted to grow old with Sirius, and they were still far too young for that.
Sirius leaned into his hand. Their reencounters were always like this. Solemn, quiet. They felt as if they made sudden movements the other would fade away, like a gush of smoke.
“I’ll make tea.” whispered Remus after kissing the other man's cheek.
No questions were asked. That was also an unspoken rule. If one of them returned with an injury they’d heal one another but asked no details. Their flat was safe. Normal. Like a small sad bubble. Remus reckoned it wasn’t healthy to stay silent and fuck and drink their feelings away but it was all they could manage. Ever since the Prewetts in August… Remus couldn’t think about it.
Sirius followed him to the kitchen like a lost puppy, but Remus signaled the couch and went back to the kettle. He found a few mandarins in the fridge that Lily had given him a few days back. He threw one at Sirius, who catched it, a quick smile grazing his features. But the taller man couldn’t tell because of the beard. “Damn that bloody thing” though Remus, tutting.
With two cups of tea in hand, he sat on the couch, next to his best friend. He’d prepared Sirius’ tea like he liked it. An unholy amount of cream and four cubes of sugar. They’d bickered for years at Hogwarts about it until Sirius had admitted it annoyed his mother, under the invisibility cloak, when they were supposed to fill the Slytherins hourglass with red and gold diamonds. Remus had never argued with him about tea again. Sirius was rebellion incarnate, even in the smallest things. And Remus had always been positively fascinated by it.
They drank in silence, and Sirius peeled the mandarin for the both of them. Remus tapped a Queen song on his boyfriend’s knee. He was not particularly a fan of their music, but Sirius always sang along when they came in on the radio. He had associated the band with him.
“I knew you liked them.” said Sirius, recognizing the melody.
“They’ve grown on me,” admitted Remus. “Their music reminds me of you. All young and eccentric. Authentic.”
“Bloody hell. Who are you and what have you done to my Moony?”
Remus couldn’t help but laugh.
“Thank you.” said Sirius sheepishly. Through the beard, Remus could barely see his cheeks glowing a soft shade of pink.
He went in for a real kiss. Full on the lips. But the hair tickled and Remus could not feel the other man's lips, not completely.
“The beard has to go. Now.”
“What? No! I like it!”
“You look like an old man.”
“I’m twenty one, Moony.” stated Sirius, in a tone so solemn it almost sounded ironic.
“Exactly my point.”
Sirius rolled his eyes but went to the bathroom dragging his feet. “Still acting like a child.” smiled Remus. He heard him rummaging around the cabinets for a few seconds, until Sirius poked his head through the door. Remus was taken aback by how unfamiliar his face seemed. Damn that bastard thing.
“Will you do it?” asked Sirius.
“Shave it. Will you do it?”
Remus raised his eyebrows, but nonetheless set his cup down and went with Sirius.
He was holding his old fashioned razor. Remus was terrified of that bloody thing. Sirius had bought it a few years back and had demonstrated its blade on a piece of paper. Remus had immediately demanded for Sirius to use another drawer for his things. He was not risking getting cut.
“Oh no. I’m not using that.”
Sirius rubbed his chin.
“It’s too bushy for your muggle one.”
Groaning, Remus went to get a chair from the kitchen. He set it in the middle of the small yellow room and patted it. Sirius sat eagerly and the werewolf placed a towel over him, like he’d seen in a movie.
He opened the tap and blocked the passage of the water. Sirius reclined his head as Remus placed a dollop of shaving cream on his hand. With his eyes closed, his best friend seemed just a smidge younger. No creases or tired expressions. The beard was still a problem though. Remus spread the cream on the young and familiar face. Sirius opened an eye and looked in the mirror.
“Now that's an old man.”
Remus laughed. But he felt himself grow anxious. What if he fucked up?
“Are you sure?”
“Hey, you suggested this,” chuckled Sirius. “No going back, darling.”
Remus’ stomach fluttered. After five years of requited feelings, the word “darling” coming out of Sirius’ mouth made him giddy still.
The taller boy drew in a deep breath and placed his hand on Sirius’ forehead while the other glided over his sunken cheek.
“Don’t close your eyes, Lupin.”
The mix of white cream and raven hair cleared a path for his lover’s ivory skin to appear and Remus smiled. He closed the tap and wiggled the razor in the water. Then went back to Sirius’ face.
“Looking good, Black.”
The task was repetitive and relaxing, Remus found. In the silence of the bathroom, the two men could barely hear the noisy radiator. Their mingled breaths and the soft grazing of the blade had created a peaceful bubble around them, and the yellow lightning only made it more comforting. Remus couldn’t even hear his thoughts. A very much welcome relief.
He carefully planned how he was going to shave Sirius. Giggling, he dabbed away the last bits of shaving cream and chimed:
Sirius opened his eyes and looked at himself in the mirror.
“Remus. Bastard. Lupin.” he breathed out before roaring into laughter.
The animagi was now sporting a mustache. A very good mustache by Freddy Mercury standards. Remus chuckled, at the sight of his best friend but also at his laughter. Warm and bright. And much too rare these days. Remus thought of the chimney in the common room at Hogwarts and of that bloody radiator on cold nights. None had provided this much warmth as Sirius laughing on that bathroom chair.
“I ought to cut your hair to complete the rockstar look.”
“You better not. My hair is sacred.” said Sirius after catching his breath.
He smiled, passing his fingers over his face. Remus watched his reflection, fondly. He looked silly, but cute. Remus knew that even with a mullet, Sirius would still be beautiful.
After a few minutes, Sirius looked up at him, still looking through the mirror.
“What a handsome couple we make.” he smirked.
“Okay that’s enough. I’m getting rid of the bloody thing. Say goodbye to Mr. Mercury.”
The taller man shook his head.
“I’m never letting you forget this, Moony.”
“I’m aware.” he smiled.
Sirius grinned at the pun, turning towards Remus, who grinned back. Then he pivoted towards his reflection once again.
“Farewell, Mr. Mercury.”
And Remus resumed his task. Gliding the blade, this time with more caution. Sirius’ upper lip trembled and Remus wanted to kiss him. So badly. He caressed the jet black hair on his boyfriend’s head while he wiggled the blade in the water, breathing in Sirius’ odor. Expensive perfume, tobacco, sweat from the mission, and a smidge of mandarin.
“You smell like fruit.” he hummed.
“Is that supposed to be an euphemism of some kind?”
The position he was in made his voice more raspy, and the nonchalance that his closed eyes gave him made him especially attractive. It gave Remus chills.
“Don’t make me laugh, you twat. Better if I don’t cut your nose off.”
After getting rid of the las bit of hair, Remus traced his lover’s lips with the tip of his fingers. He smiled with satisfaction. There he was. Sirius Black. The love of his life.
“All done, love.”
Sirius leaned upwards, opening his eyes once again. He examined his reflection.
“There he is that old bloke.”
Remus kneeled next to him and touched the animagi’s cheeks. Sirius smiled.
“Thank you, Remus. I missed him.”
And in some selfish part of his mind Remus thought: “I miss him too.” Even without the beard, Sirius still looked tired and worn down. Remus supposed he did too.
The raven-haired man turned to him and grabbed his face, gently, as if he was some sort of treasure. Remus touched his hand, carresing the creases and small scars. Somewhere in those icy blue eyes, he could see some semblance of the young boy he had fallen in love with. He just had to get used to the soldier. It would be hard, but Remus would do it. Because he loved Sirius Black.
“I want to see you with a beard again some day.” he confessed.
“Wouldn’t you rather a mustache?”
They both smiled. Two idiots completely in love with one another.
“I want to grow old with you, Sirius. I want us to become boring and wrinkly. We can even move to Spain and have a villa like those posh old pigs that live in Chelsea.”
His lover chuckled.
“You want to push me around in a wheelchair too?”
“If it comes to that.”
Sirius expression changed. He softened. And when he spoke, Remus knew he understood what he meant.
“I love you too, Moony.”
And Remus kissed him.