Written for: cursedinsanity
Rating: PG-13 for smoking, drinking, and war themes
Word count: about 700
Pairing: implied Remus/Sirius
Summary: Remus needs a moment away from the others, to get his hands to stop shaking. Set right after Hogwarts, during the First War.
A/N: Thank you to foretinterdite and shes_gone for the excellent betas, and to plotbunniofdoom for the Brit pick. And then to trubbleclef for the hand holding and general wonderfulness. I changed some things even after they read over it for me, so all mistakes are mine.
Written for cursedinsanity in the rs_small_gifts fic exchange.
Remus has only finished two pints when everything hits him all at once, pressing him down into his seat even as a mouthful of beer spurts out of his mouth in an eruption of laughter.
James is the first to react, slapping his back a bit harder than is actually necessary and asking what the hell he ordered and if he could have some too. Peter, bless, forces a napkin into his hand and asks if he’s all right, to which Remus can only respond with an enthusiastic nod and then something about fresh air. He grabs his coat and stumbles out into the alley behind the bar.
It isn’t snowing, but the ground is slick with ice and the air is heavy with a sharp, bitter chill that reaches all the way down to his bones. He turns over a wooden crate and leans back against the brick wall, pulling a package of cigarettes out of his coat pocket. He nearly drops the first one, his fingers are trembling so hard, but finally he manages to hang onto a match long enough to strike it against the brick wall. Then he leans back again, blowing smoke between his lips.
He doesn’t smoke very often, but in quiet moments when he is alone, it feels right. His father smoked, and Remus remembers sitting in his mother’s closet and pressing his face into a dusty old sweater that smelled faintly of tobacco and firewood. The cigarette he is smoking now smells familiar too, but it’s darker, sweeter.
“Only two drinks in?”
Remus looks up to see Sirius standing in the doorway leading in from the interior of the bar, hand resting languidly on the wall beside.
“I’m not drunk,” says Remus, taking another drag from the cigarette. “I just needed some fresh air.”
Sirius lets the door shut and comes up beside him, turning over another crate so that he doesn’t have to sit on the ice. “Mind?” He sits without waiting for an answer, stretching his legs out in front of him.
“Sure.” Remus tosses the cigarette onto the ground and reaches into his pocket for another. He offers one to Sirius, who accepts, and Remus lights both of them.
“These taste familiar,” Sirius observes after a moment.
“They should. They’re yours,” Remus replies, because he suddenly realizes why they smell so familiar. Like Sirius’s hats and scarves, like his pillow on lazy Thursday mornings, like the hollow of his throat.
“Mmmm,” Sirius murmurs. “You wouldn’t happen to have found them in that coat you’re wearing?”
Remus looks down and notices for the first time that the coat he’d grabbed is definitely not his. For one, it probably cost more than his entire wardrobe. He looks down at Sirius’s arm, notices a patch on the elbow of his coat, and feels his cheeks simmering under a layer of frosty air.
“Sorry,” he mutters.
Sirius shrugs. “Yours is warm.” He brings the cigarette to his lips again, and his elbow brushes against Remus’s, and suddenly the giddiness is bubbling up in his chest again, absurd and out of place and sharp as a butcher’s knife. He chokes on it, coughing up smoke and dragging breaths of icy air into his lungs. He coughs until there is nothing left but a lump of despair, burning like firewhiskey at the back of his throat.
“All right?” asks Sirius when the coughing subsides and Remus is sitting upright again. He nods and wipes his nose with the edge of his sleeve.
“I was just thinking.”
“Oh, is that what that was?”
“About the McKinnons.”
The silence settles in the spaces between them, in a cloud of cigarette smoke and in Remus’s mouth, and he is reminded inexplicably of that first night back at Hogwarts, when he looked across the silent dormitory to see Sirius staring back at him in the dark. Sirius takes another drag from his cigarette, and Remus sees the cloud of smoke pass in front of them like a fog. Sirius’s knee presses against Remus’s in a way that feels both casual and deliberate all at once, and the lump in the back of Remus’s throat loosens a bit.
“Thanks for the cigarettes,” says Remus.