A remix of Twinkledru J.'s To Lucasta, Going to the Wars written for the Remix...Redux challenge. Some sentences and phrases taken from the original.
Many thanks to Halrloprillalar for beta and for asking the right questions.
Some things are better off forgotten
A Sword, a Horse, a Shield
"You believed it."
Remus looked down at Sirius, sitting awkwardly on the floor of the compartment. Sirius's voice was lower than it used to be; softer, and at the same time more rough.
Remus remembered weekends their seventh year, when they'd sit like this; James and Lily snuggled against each other in the opposite seats, Peter in the seat beside him, and Sirius on the floor. One of his long legs would be stretched out, possibly even kicked up on James and Lily's seat, the other drawn up to his chest. His head resting against Remus's thigh.
Winter had barely begun and already it seemed unending. Remus looked out the window, then at Harry sleeping in the corner. When he spoke, his mouth was tight.
"Of course I believed it."
Harry stared at the whirl of snow outside the window as the train moved through it steadily. Across from him, Sirius slept, wrapped around himself, his tail twitching. Harry wondered what he dreamed of.
He was glad to be away from Hogwarts. The term had been cold and rainy so far, no good for Quidditch, and time moved too slowly. He was impatient to be done with it.
It was a strange term. His skin felt like it didn't fit him.
Remus caught his eye and smiled. "Almost there," he said.
The sky was still grey with snow as they stepped off the train, shivering their way into the cold, an extra coat dropped over Harry's shoulders. Sirius trotted ahead, his black coat spotted white, until he was a smudge, a dark patch on the snowy landscape. Remus watched him as he and Harry lagged behind, hoods raised against the snow.
"How is school?" Remus asked. A question all schoolchildren loathed. But his thoughts were fragmented and wearying these days; it made conversation difficult.
"Okay," Harry said. He kicked the snow in front of him. "Where are we going?"
"Sirius's family has a small house in the village, about halfway down the road from the station."
Sirius was waiting for them on the walkway leading up to the house. Harry ran ahead, trailing puffs of frost. Sirius held the door open for him, and Remus watched them enter the house. Lamplight spilled out onto the snow.
When he closed the door behind him, Harry and Sirius were already in the kitchen. He heard Harry laughing.
Of course I believed it, Sirius thought, as he crossed the living room on padded feet. The room stood out in negative, in shades of black and grey. Harry was asleep in his room. Remus was asleep in the other guest room; he'd moved his things out of Sirius's room months ago.
They all believed one thing or another. Sirius wondered, after those years in Azkaban, whether it really mattered.
It had stopped snowing, and the sky was almost painfully clear. Stars stood out like diamonds, sharp and white and relentless. He loped easily through the banked snow.
He was still not used to feeling so clearheaded. In Azkaban, even as Padfoot, his mind had been thick; his thoughts trudging forward as if through mud, his emotions dulled and confused. He sometimes believed it was a mercy.
Ahead, the road curved out of sight as he passed the last house marking the village. He thought about going further, not stopping, then remembered Harry.
They all believed it. Sirius carried it with him like a chain.
Harry wolfed down his breakfast; eggs and toast washed down with tea that had gone cold, until he tossed a spell at it that sent a burst of steam nearly to the ceiling. Sirius sat across from him, watching bemusedly.
"Is that park down the road open for anyone?" Harry asked, mumbling through a mouthful of toast. He was thinking of the Firebolt, of Quidditch.
"Sure," Sirius said. "Just be careful."
Harry rolled his eyes. He got enough of that at school.
Remus appeared in the doorway. He was dressed and shaven, and looked wide awake and fresh, except for his eyes. "Sirius, can I talk to you for a minute?"
Sirius followed him out of the kitchen, and Harry took a sip of his tea, which was now so hot it burned his mouth. Remus and Sirius were on the far side of the living room, and he couldn't hear what they were saying.
That park should do, he thought. The snow had stopped, and the kitchen window framed a sky so blue it looked painted. Good flying weather, and the snow would make for softer landings.
He looked up as Sirius slid back into his chair. "Remus has some business in London," Sirius said. "Thought he'd give us some time to ourselves."
Harry nodded. Sirius still thought of him as a child. He heard the front door open and close.
"So," Sirius said brightly. "What do you want to do today?"
Harry looked wistfully out the window, at the sky so perfect for flying; not that he would see much of it now. He shrugged and put on a smile. "Doesn't matter."
The snow was gone when Remus returned, late afternoon casting the world in blues and greys. As he followed the muddy walkway to the house, he saw a darting shape, like a bird, whirl above the roofs of the village. So he trudged through even more mud, through a maze of damp and winter-bound gardens, to the park.
Harry swooped down as he neared, braking to a sudden, flashy halt. His face was flushed. "Hi, Remus."
"Hi, Harry. You're getting quite good at that."
"Thanks," Harry said diffidently, though Remus could see he was pleased. "How was London?"
Remus smiled. "Cold. Is Sirius at the house?"
Harry nodded to the far side of the park. "He's right there."
Sirius, in dog form, was stretched across a bench, his head up and alert, staring across the field at them. Remus had hoped to have a few more minutes alone with Harry.
"Thanks," he said to Harry, who nodded and pushed off the ground for another flight. The field seemed very wide as Remus crossed it. He sat down on the bench, and when he looked over, it was Sirius sitting there, not Padfoot.
"A little risky, don't you think?" Remus said.
Sirius shrugged. They sat silently.
"How long are you back for?" Sirius asked finally.
"I---" Remus cleared his throat. "I just came back to get more of my things. I found a flat in London. Ollivander's renting that room above his shop."
Remus attempted a smile; it made his mouth hurt. "It's no good, Sirius. You know that."
Sirius smiled back. It looked like it hurt even more. "Does it matter what I know?"
Remus gripped the edge of the bench until his fingers were numb. "It matters. That's the problem, don't you see? We could go on like this for a few more months. A few years, even. But it's still there. And I---" He ran out of breath. He'd rushed through his last words to get them out as quickly as possible. Out and over with.
"I don't see anything we can do to change it. To change things."
Sirius glanced at him sidelong. "How would you have changed things back then?"
Remus shook his head. "I wouldn't have. I still would have believed what I did."
Sirius nodded. He didn't say anything. Then: "What will you tell Harry?"
Remus raised his head to the darting blur that was Harry and his Firebolt. "I don't think we need to tell Harry anything," he said. "He's a smart kid." He watched Harry for a while, a little envious of his grace. Remus had never been much use on a broomstick.
Sirius had shifted back to dog form, and his head was stretched out over his paws and turned away. Remus wished he could reach out, stroke his head once more.
"Goodbye then," Remus said awkwardly. The bench creaked when he stood up.
Harry saw him cross the field and swooped down again, executing the full-stop a little less expertly this time, but still better than Remus had ever managed.
"Going back to London?" Harry asked astutely.
Remus nodded. He glanced back at Sirius. "You'll take care of him?"
"Sure." Harry looked surprised. "I mean--he'll be all right, won't he?"
Remus nodded. The sky had grown steadily darker since he'd left the station; he'd have to hurry to make the evening train back to London. "He'll be all right."
Some things are hard to forget. Some are better off forgotten.
They'll be all right.