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Forever Is a State of Mind

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His hands clapped rhythmically, the bass thrumming through the bottom of his feet, travelling up his calves, and he glanced up at the mirrors along the walls to see both Meadowes and their back-up dancers following along. They shouldn’t have any trouble with this run-through. They’d been working four gruelling weeks, and the choreography was less than three minutes long. They were all professionals.

His hand went up, counting sharply. 3, 2, 1.

One sharp clap he could feel from fingers to his elbows, then his foot stepped out, head swinging down, arms up near his ears. He could feel the timing in his bare toes as they stomped along the hardwood flooring. His studio had been specially made so he could feel every shift in the tempo.

His legs moved, torso swinging forward from side to side, hips sharp and robotic. He could see them all following along, and a minute in, he abandoned the dance to turn and watch. Dori was better than the other dancers, but he was less fussed about that. He knew the director would put them where they were needed.

Dori was the main focus and they looked great. All spandex with a flowing blouse open along their shoulders. Their hair was tied back, wild, tips tinged blue. Their dark brown skin shone with sweat, making the expanse of their arms have an almost ethereal glow. But they were grinning.

Yeah. They had this. There was no question.

Remus adjusted the hem of his t-shirt, today’s reading Jesus Had Two Dads—an ironic Hanukkah gift from his ex who thought it was hilarious—and he clapped along. He signed out a few quick pointers, signs his dancers should have long since recognised, and they adjusted quickly.

Before long, the song was over and he was clapping his hands for them to fall in line. With a sigh, he reached up and switched on his processor, assaulted by the sounds of heavy breathing and the massive, humming fan at the edge of the room ghosting them with semi-cool air.

“Excellent job. You’re released. Go, be free my dancers.” Remus preferred to be voice-off, so his dancers and the singers he worked with knew his spoken words were rare.

Dori quickly hurried over, throwing their arms round his shoulders. “Thank you,” they said, then pulled back their hand to sign it.

Remus laughed, giving their cheek a fond pat before signing back, ‘Welcome. You looked gorgeous. Send me the video the moment it’s finished.’

Giving him a quick thumb’s up, Dori headed out of the room to change, and Remus let out a sigh of relief. He was done, at least with this, for likely a few months. He only worked with a handful of singers presently, Dori being the most famous. They were a sudden popstar sensation topping the charts with both songs and advocacy for the trans community. No one expected the fame they got, but it happened. And when they started looking for a choreographer for their videos, Remus’ name came up.

He was a bit of an anomaly in the dance community. He started off running a small dance school for Deaf and Hard of Hearing, but his moves were legendary. He was discovered on YouTube, a sign cover he did of Pharell’s Happy. The thing of it was, dancing came naturally to Remus, as natural as breathing. Beats and vibrations travelled through his limbs and he couldn’t really explain it.

His Deafness worked against him, only because no hearing teacher ever wanted to take him on as a student, so for most of his life he’d been self-taught. He’d been given a cochlear implant when he was a baby, the one and only resentment he held against his parents, and his way of rebelling had been refusing to turn the processor on, and the moment he could protest, refusing to continue his vocal therapy.

His parents loved him, but they were intimidated by the Deaf Community. They’d taken to him coming out as trans better than they has as him coming out as Deaf—capital D—and proud. Their fear led him to becoming a Deaf Rights activist at University. He deeply envied the Americans and the fact that they had an entire Uni for the Deaf, something Europe was sorely lacking. His life was full of audism and oralism and he would be damned if he bowed to that.

When he took up dancing, and choreography, no one wanted to trust him. After all, how could a Deaf man actually know what it was like to hear the music. To experience it the way they did. How could Remus understand the profound impact of lyrics and melody.

He pitied them, most of the time. The lack of silence, the lack of distractions. Getting to choose what got his attention, and when. Getting to feel the music in his entire body, from toes to the top of his head and become one with it.

Eventually he started making a name for himself. Although most directors were hesitant to trust, through YouTube and his small school, he was gaining some traction. He was starting to become an internet sensation in a way, which could lead to fame.

Something that also made him nervous, seeing as he had a child to think about.

Teddy was eight, nearly nine. He’d come from a short but comfortable fling Remus had with Nym—she’d been hired as his interpreter as she was getting her Graduate degree, for one of his lectures. Remus, who’d always been a bit of a rebel, had ignored all professional protocol.

The relationship ended with laughter and friendship. And a baby.

Remus waited until everyone was gone before heading into the changing room. He slipped out of his dance clothes and shrugged on a pair of boxers. Walking to the small sink in the corner, he wet a flannel and swiped down over the back of his neck, arms, and down his chest. His dark-tawny curls were a bit stiff with sweat, but a shower could wait.

He had to stop by Nym’s and rearrange his schedule with her to pick up Ted. He had Benjy coming by to help with sorting out his latest video, and he was filling in for one of the other teachers for the tot class on Friday who was poorly. Remus suspected morning sickness, but she was still refusing to say.

I’m heading to mine. Be there soon?

He fired off the text to Ben, then slipped into jeans and a loose t-shirt. He slipped his processor off, and into his pack before shoving thick, monstrous-sized headphones over his ears, plugging them into his iPod. He was feeling out the beats to a few of the latest hits, trying to decide which he wanted to do next for his videos. He had enough subscribers now that he was actually making a bit of money off his YouTube venture, but it meant more responsibility. It meant getting better equipment and keeping up with what the kids thought was cool.

Not that Remus was old, by any means. He wasn’t quite at thirty yet, though close. But damn it if he’d succumb to the stigma of being that old dude trying to stay hip.

God, did kids these days even say hip anymore?

Shaking his head, Remus grabbed his pack and keys, locking up the studio on his way out. He was two steps from the door when he felt a presence behind him, and he turned to see the perky, pinched face of a woman in cat-eye glasses, blonde curls, holding what looked like an alligator-skin handbag. He blinked at her, and she smiled.

He gave her a tense smile back, and them she mimed him taking off the headphones.

On reflex, he did, realising what was happening about halfway through the motion, but she’d already begun to speak.

“…to…word…later…you?” Her smile was large, but her lips seemed a bit stiff and along with the fact that his speech-reading skills were absolute crap, it was even worse.

Remus sighed, then reached into the side of his pack to pull out a small notepad and dull pencil.

Sorry I’m Deaf and can’t understand you.

She started to speak again, this time slower, and Remus made a frustrated noise in the back of his throat before thrusting the pencil and paper at her. The woman looked almost as though touching it would put her at risk for Deafness—and sometimes he wished it did for how ridiculous hearing people could be—but eventually she took it up.

I’m Rita Skeeter, work for Daily Prophet, surely you know us? I was hoping to get an exclusive with you.

Remus blinked at the words she’d scribbled down. What? Why

You’re working with Meadowes. Your name is becoming synonymous with popstars of a…shall we say different demographic. My editor has me on a piece where we want to highlight the idea of a deaf choreographer.

Remus grit his teeth together because he wasn’t a fucking gimmick. He was working with Dori because he was bloody good at his job and it wasn’t in spite of being Deaf. Hell, if anything, he was better than other people in his field because of it.

But he knew pissing off this woman who very clearly worked for a wide-spread publication was not on his list of things he should do whilst trying to build a name for himself. He took the pencil up with a tired sigh.

I need to get in touch with my terp. I don’t want to do the whole thing in writing. It’s exhausting.

The woman—Rita—waved her hand and took the pencil back. The Prophet will provide one, of course, as a thank you for giving us the exclusive before the release of Meadowes’ newest album. I’m sure she’s going to hit the top of the charts.

Remus glowered down at the words. I’m sure they are. They always do. And does your publication have an agency to hire a terp?

He could see Rita’s whole body shaking with her laugh, and he fought the urge to roll his eyes. Something about her put him off, but it could be good press. It could be great for the dance academy as well.

Of course we do. We have several language interpreters. We work with stars all across the globe.

Well it made sense at the very least, and although he didn’t particularly like this woman, she worked for a high-end press and that meant something. Shrugging, he handed off his name card to her and scribbled down to send him a text with the details. I have my son on Saturday to Monday, so any days besides those are fine.

“We’ll be in touch,” she said, or he assumed she said as she slipped the card into her bag and snapped it shut. She offered out her hand, complete with over-long, violently pink nails, and he took it. They scraped against his palm unpleasantly, but he managed a smile before she wandered off, her hips shaking with the stop of her heels on pavement. Remus swore he could feel the vibrations of her steps in his jaw.

That done, he hurried off to meet Benjy, wondering if this was the start to something big.

***

Sirius glowered down at the pale hand slowly snaking up the length of his jeans. His grip on the eyeliner pencil had gone too tight, and his wrist was aching, trembling a bit. “What are you doing?”

The blond sat just under him grinned, his too-bright, too-plastic smile shone stretched across his face. “Nothing at all, love.”

Sirius let out a slow, careful breath. “Your hand is on my thigh.”

Gilderoy looked down, then back up at Sirius, batting his still-naked lashes up at the makeup artist. “So it is. Funny, that.”

“And I suggest you remove it,” Sirius replied.

“Is it bothering you that much?” Gilderoy crept his hand higher until Sirius’ went down, squeezing over Gilderoy’s wrist. Hard.

“Listen, darling,” he drawled, “it’s not the best idea to be sexually harassing the person who’s got a very sharp, pointed eyeliner pencil hovering just above your eyeball. As far as I know, it’s only that lovely voice of yours that’s insured by your producer.”

Gilderoy swallowed and removed his hand, but his smile didn’t leave as he closed his eyes and allowed Sirius to apply the liner. “I’m just saying, we’d be fairly cute together.”

“Your long, sordid history is not appealing to me.”

“Slut shaming is not on, you know. At least that’s what all the kids are saying.”

Sirius smudged the liner, then grabbed the shadow brush. “You know what else isn’t on? Sexually harassing your employees. You know what else isn’t on, Gil? Dragging the name of everyone you’ve ever shagged into your disgusting little memoir. You can put your prick wherever you want it and that’s your business. More power to you. But I have no intention of being a mention in your sequel.”

He finished up with the shadow, then grabbed the setting spray and gave his entire face a long spritz. When he was done, he remove the pieces of tissue from his collar, and used the comb to re-set his fringe.

“Sorted.”

Gilderoy was wearing a small pout as he slid off the makeup chair and looked in the mirror. “I wish you weren’t so good at your job. I’d sack you for your clever little mouth.”

Sirius snorted. “You don’t employ me, and you won’t find anyone better. Break a leg out there.” Sirius began to pack up as Gilderoy sauntered away, and he muttered to himself, “Really. Please break it.”

“Talking to yourself isn’t a good sign, Padfoot,” came a voice from behind him.

Sirius spun, his face breaking out into a massive smile and he threw himself into the arms of his best mate and current flatmate. “Jamie, what the hell are you doing here. I thought you were in Bulgaria. Oh god, don’t tell me you…”

“No, nothing happened,” James said, cupping Sirius’ cheek to kiss him. “There was some terror threat and we were all sent home. Match was rescheduled, which Lily’s over the moon about because they’ve just put her on overnights which means Reg is working double-time with Hari.”

Sirius wave his hand. “I’m actually done with this shite for a few weeks now. When you’re heading back, I can take over.”

James’ smile softened and he put his hand on the back of Sirius’ neck. “Good. That ponce going on tour?”

Sirius rolled his eyes as he turned away, finishing up packing his tools. “Yes. Thank fucking all the gods in every pantheon to ever exist. He tried to get them to send me, but you know I don’t tour.”

James chuckled and slid into the makeup chair as Sirius got his hair tools sorted. “Well some day they’re going to have someone going on a ridiculous tour like…Hawaii or something. Then you can triple-charge your normal fee and have some tropical holiday.”

Sirius picked up his massive, too-fluffy powder brush and swiped it across James’ face, making him scrunch up behind his glasses. “You’re an idiot. But yes, if that happens, I’m absolutely going. You four can freeze your arses off in ugly old London.”

“How dare you insult our great city,” James said, putting a hand to his heart.

“Shut up, you don’t even like it here. You’re planning on retiring in Delhi.”

James shrugged and grinned. “And you’re coming with me.”

Pursing his lips, Sirius slung his makeup pack over his shoulder. “Come on, let’s get the hell out of here. We can swing by that Moroccan place. I would give my left pinky for some lamb mouchi right now.”

“How about give no fingers or toes, and I’ll buy. I’m in a good mood since I get a few weeks to be home.” James slung an arm round Sirius’ shoulders and pulled him along.

Sirius never felt more content than he was with James and their small family. Maybe a bit lonely. It got tough on days he got to watch James with his boyfriend and his wife and it had been ages since Sirius had found anyone who piqued his interest.

Part of him blamed his family for his inability to connect to anyone, which made the fact that he was demisexual even harder. His dating history was slim to none. He’d acquired a rather amusing reputation at school, even. One that sent his parents reeling even after they’d disowned and disinherited him. Bit of a slag. Sleeping with anyone who crossed his path.

Sirius half wished he would have, only because adding truth to the rumours would have been the cherry on the sundae of pissing off his family. But instead it was the fact that he enjoyed being feminine and rather liked men—when he liked anyone at all—that had done it. It was enough for Walburga and Orion to spend the rest of Sirius’ life up to this point pretending as though they didn’t have a first born.

They put all their efforts into Regulus, but at eighteen he showed up on Sirius’ doorstep, dishevelled, a bit worse for the wear, and asking for a place to stay. There was not a thing on the earth which could make Sirius turn away from his baby brother.

When James started to fall for him, things got awkward. Lily was pregnant with Harry, and they had been in a bad way. James was staying on Sirius’ sofa at the time, and with Regulus in the mix, Sirius thought things would go straight to hell.

He caught James and Regulus together one rainy evening, and the row lasted weeks. But eventually, it worked itself out.

It wasn’t perfect. Even in the house now, their personalities clashed. Lily was brash and straightforward. She didn’t sugar-coat or soften the blow when she was upset or bothered. Regulus was stoic, tucking everything inside just as Sirius had done growing up, and the Black siblings were never great at expressing themselves until it all boiled over and seared everyone within a five metre range.

James was the glue, really, that held them together. The posh, spoilt boy who grew into a man who had far too much love for one human being. Footie mad and disillusioned with British colonialism, and absolutely the best cuddler on the planet. It was when Lily realised that James had enough love for her, Regulus, Sirius, and the baby that she found her real place in the family.

Regulus had never stopped being hesitant about his spot there. Like he could be chucked at any moment. Even seven years later having helped raise Harry and referred to as a parent, and so absolutely and completely loved by both James and Lily. Sirius understood him, and sat by his side during the worst of those insecure moments. And Regulus did the same for him.

They had a flat now, huge and posh and cosy. Room for all of them to live together without being in each other’s business. And they were happy.

Mostly.

Sirius was mostly happy.

He had a good job, he had some fame—enough to piss off his family, but not so much he couldn’t head down to the local and have a pint if he felt like it without being papped.

Tonight he could go down to his favourite Moroccan place with James and get some food and take it home…and feel like he belonged somewhere.

“You’re awfully quiet tonight, love,” James said, nudging him.

Sirius rolled his eyes. “What, that’s a crime now?”

“No. But usually when you get done with a bit of work like this and a holiday in front of you, you’re a little more…enthused.”

Sirius sighed. It was true, he was a bit more morose than usual. But life was weighing on him. He was getting ready to celebrate twenty-nine this year and what did he have to show for it, exactly? Yes his career was alright, but what did that make him? His father had dedicated every second of his time to his bloody job and it left him now with children who hated him, and a wife who blamed him for it, and a country who thought his views were outdated and cruel—which they were.

Sirius didn’t want to be that. He wanted a little more than just a job to show for how far he’d come.

“It’s just…it’s nothing,” Sirius said. He reached up and pulled the tie from the bottom of his plait, tucking the small ribbon into his pocket. He shook his hair out, the soft waves falling round his shoulder, and he sighed. The air was getting chilly, impending autumn promising a frigid winter, and that idea of Hawaii was sounding really nice right about now.

A fresh start.

He glanced at James and nearly laughed because he realised there was no way he could leave this family, even if he wanted to.

“Come on, you giant baby. Let’s get you some delicious take-away. And how about a sweet to go along with it, eh? Always cheers you up.”

Sirius rolled his eyes, but nuzzled into James’ side. “Yeah. It does.”

***

Remus grinned at the camera. Sweat was pouring down the back of his neck, and he ended the final shot on his knees. His hair was falling in tight ringlets over his forehead, and his hands were buzzing from the rapid signing to the song. But he liked it. They’d done damn good and Benjy had a great eye for the camera.

Rising up, Remus grabbed a dry flannel from the stool near one of his lights and swiped it across his forehead.

‘Nice,’ Ben signed. ‘Go again?’

Remus shook his head. ‘I’ll look over the footage tonight and if we need any new shots, I’ll text you.’

Ben clapped him on the shoulder, then held his fingers over his palm, drawing them in a rapid circle. ‘Pizza?’

Remus grimaced, patting his stomach. ‘Too many calories.’

‘Ponce,’ Benny said. ‘One pizza night won’t kill you.’

‘It might. My dad has a shit heart,’ Remus argued, elbowing Benny as they headed out of the filming room and into the lounge. It was far cooler in there, the windows wide and the lights soft and forgiving. He collapsed on the sofa just under a breeze coming in off the terrace, and he flopped his head back on a cushion. His wrists were tired, making his signs lazy. ‘You win. I can’t cook.’

Benny grinned. ‘Victory. I’ll go pick it up so you can shower and skype the kid. You want anything else?’

‘Fizzy drinks,’ Remus said with a flick of his wrist. ‘If we’re being bad.’

Benny rolled his eyes, but clapped Remus on the knee before grabbing the keys and darting out the door. The slamming vibrated through his one bare foot that was pressed to the hardwood, and he let out a long sigh, feeling it ease some of the tension in his chest.

His mind was half on a shower, and half on the upcoming, potential article by that Skeeter woman. He couldn’t shake the ick in his bones, but the idea of being able to draw attention to his school was a big deal. Remus was sick and tired of constantly having to explain himself to the hearing world.

The same questions over and over again.

“How do you hear the music?”

“Some of us have hearing, some don’t. But we don’t necessarily need to hear it to enjoy it.”

“But how can you enjoy it if you can’t hear it. It’s music.”

Even when he gave them proper, scientific answers about the vibrations and how they moved from the breastbone through his limbs, down to his toes, they didn’t get it. They didn’t get that he was sensitive to it, growing up without hearing made that so. And it was nice. He didn’t need to hear tones and words in order to let it flow through his limbs. In order to get enjoyment out of dancing.

“What’s the point,” they always always asked. “What’s the point of dancing to music you can’t hear?”

Sometimes he hated them so much.

Remus switched on the shower, hot enough to steam the mirror round the sides, and he stripped down. He glanced briefly at his top-surgery scars, the flesh now pale against his olive skin, and much thinner than they had been several years ago when he finally had the money to go through with it.

He had a love-hate relationship with the idea of body modification. He hated conforming himself to the standards of other people. Mostly because he’d been given his CI before he was old enough to decide whether or not he wanted it. But he never wore them, or when he did, he kept the processor off, and he was quite happy in his life.

He had decent relationships and good sex, and his egg implanted in the belly of his ex made a gorgeous baby he couldn’t get enough of. Teddy was the light of his life, really. And as lonely as he was sometimes, what he sacrificed for parenting made it all worth it.

Teddy was the reason he’d started the dance school in the first place. He’d been content with his YouTube hobby and the occasional choreography job. But one day his son was watching him practise and toddled into the room, pressing his hands first to the floor, then went face down and giggled and giggled at the feeling of the vibrations running through him.

Remus took out Teddy’s hearing aids, then turned up the bass as loud as he could without blowing the speakers. Together they danced and moved and Remus realised he wanted to do this for more children. So he talked to Nym and her parents offered them a loan, and the school was born.

Now he had several teachers working with several age-ranges. Remus was full-time owner, part-time teacher, and he’d never been more proud of his progress. Even his parents who had shied away from the Deaf community most of his life got involved.

They learnt more sign when they realised Teddy was going to be sign-first, English second, and voice-off when he was home with Remus. If they wouldn’t do it for him, Remus conceded, at least they’d do it for their grandchild.

The shower was quick, and Remus felt better as he stepped out, dried off, and slipped into a t-shirt and jogging bottoms. He grabbed his laptop on the way out, flopping back on the sofa, and he switched it on. As it booted, he sent a text off to Nym, who said she was already waiting, and Remus hurried to start up the app.

Moments later, Teddy’s face appeared on the screen with a wide grin. ‘Hi!’ his small fingers flew through the signs. ‘I had a good day at school, and mummy bought me more paints for my HAs.’ He turned his head to the side to show off his hearing aids which now looked like they were moulded out of glitter itself.

Remus snorted a laugh. ‘Beautiful,’ he said, exaggerating the way his fingers moved away from his mouth. ‘You ready to come on Saturday?’

Teddy nodded. ‘I’m skipping practise on Friday though because mummy wants me to go to Shabbat with her.’

Remus nodded, waving his hand. ‘That’s fine, love. I have to take Mary’s class for her, so I'll pick you up straight after.’

Teddy, who was used to that, shrugged. ‘Can we do the cinemas this weekend? I want to see the film with the fox and the rabbit.’

Remus grinned and nodded. ‘Yeah. Anything you want. It’s close to your bedtime though, so let’s say goodnight.’

Teddy pressed his cheek to the camera, and Remus leant forward, giving his own camera a smacking kiss. ‘Night, dad.’

‘Love you,’ Remus signed. ‘Tell your mum to text me later, okay?’

Teddy agreed, then rang off, and the screen went dark.

Remus shut the laptop, laying back and feeling rather pleased with himself. He was doing the best he could by his child, and he could only hope Teddy never went through life feeling as outside the world as he had. He wasn’t perfect by any means, but damn it, he was going to try. Even if it meant ignoring the lonely ache in his gut until his boy was grown. It was a worthy sacrifice.

***

Sirius stepped out of the shower, his hair tied up in a high bun. He slid into the silk pyjama bottoms Lily had gotten him for his last birthday, and pulled on a threadbare t-shirt with the writing all peeled away. He was tired, still morose, and although he was full of delicious food and pleased to be relieved from working for a couple of weeks, it didn’t take the edge off. Not really.

Padding down to the telly room, Sirius poked his head round the door and saw James and Regulus sat on their most comfy sofa. There was something on in the background, but the sound was off. It was an intimate moment—sweet, as James’ intimate moments always were. He was spread out on the sofa, with Regulus lying between his legs, head all tucked up under James’ chin. James was gently brushing through Reg’s hair, talking quietly into his ear. Regulus’ eyes were closed, and he had a soft smile playing round his lips. His Just for James smile, that rarely came out when others were around.

Harry was in the room as well, headphones secure over his ears, plugged into whatever video game he was lost in. Sirius gave his head a fond pat as he came into the room, then took one look at the couple and fell to his knees.

He fell all the way forward, dramatic as ever, his face falling into the soft, shaggy carpet just in front of the sofa, and he let out a small noise somewhere between a whinge and a groan. There was a pause, and when nothing happened, when no one jumped up to comfort and spoil him, he made it again.

After a moment, there was a very distinct James chuckle. “Padfoot?”

“No,” Sirius said.

James sighed, then there was a shuffling, and warm hands gripping him under his arms, dragging him to the sofa. His head was pillowed in James’ lap, his feet in Regulus’ much to his younger brother’s dismay, but he didn’t care. Regulus had a firm grip on his calf, and he turned so he could nuzzle his face into James’ stomach.

“Everything is awful.”

James’ fingers undid the bobble holding up his bun, than began to detangle his wet hair. “No it isn’t.”

“You’re just being a dramatic brat,” Regulus supplied.

Sirius gave him a soft kick to the ribs. “Shut up. You wrote the book on fucking dramatic.”

“Learnt from the best, you mean,” Regulus shot back.

Sirius whinged again. “Your stupid boyfriend is so mean to me all the time.”

“Be nice,” James said mildly.

“No,” Regulus replied.

James snorted. “Well, that’s all I can do, Sirius. Sorry. Surely you’ve learnt to cope after all these years.”

Sirius growled and curled his fingers into James’ shirt, tugging on it. “I’m lonely. My job is great, but I’m so lonely and I’m starting to wonder if I really am that shite of a person that no one wants to date me.”

“You are,” Regulus said.

This time James reached over and thwaped him on the arm because when Sirius talked like this, often times it meant he was going to spiral. It meant he really didn’t think he was worth loving. James had seen it before, several times during the years. Sirius couldn’t help it, really. The product of an abusive childhood made his self-esteem fickle and weak.

“You’re not shite. You’re wonderful and you’ll find someone who appreciates you.”

“Easy for you to say. You’ve got two of them,” Sirius groaned, feeling his chest get tighter and tighter. He clutched at James harder. “Jamie…honestly though, what if I’m just meant to be alone.”

“You won’t be,” Regulus said. “You’ll be inflicting yourself on our happy little home forever. I’ve made my peace with it.”

Sirius felt his throat tighten along with his fingers, and James sighed. “Reg, my love, will you go take Harry out for some ice cream.”

The word ice cream miraculously filtered through Harry’s video game noises, and he wrenched his headphones off. “Oh! Can we go to Florean’s?”

Reg rolled his eyes. “Fine. Let’s go.” He rose, holding out his hand, and Harry grabbed it with a happy hum. “You two want anything?”

“No,” Sirius said at the same time as James said, “See if that have that Cashew Milk one.”

Regulus bent down to kiss James softly, then a kiss to Sirius’ cheek. “You’re not shite, you know,” he said very quietly. “And I like it when you’re here.”

Sirius felt warmth spread through him. It wasn’t as if he didn’t know, but confirmation was sometimes necessary. He closed his eyes and listened to Harry and Regulus amble off, and when they were alone, he rolled his head up to look at James. “Sorry I’m so…” He waved his hand dismissively, not quite sure about the word.

James shook his head and carded his fingers into Sirius’ hair again. “You’re allowed to be that, Pads. I know it’s hard. And I know you’re lonely. But you really have got us.”

“S’not the same. I mean would life have been easier if I’d fallen in love with you? Sure.”

James rolled his eyes. “Ponce.”

“Well it’s true, and you know it. We’d be off somewhere on some tropical island and I’d be doing your makeup and we’d be all lazy and it would be glorious. But that’s not what happened.”

James cupped his cheek. “No, I suppose not.”

“And I just…want someone to love me for who I am and I know it’s so morose and stupid…”

“It really isn’t. You deserve it. And I know you’re feeling down, but I still believe it’ll happen. Someone unexpected and random and…it’ll be really great.”

Sirius sighed and pushed his face into James thigh. “You think?”

“Yes, I do.”

Sirius let his eyes close and he felt himself get sleepy. “Will you sing to me?”

James laughed, but his hand drifted to Sirius’ shoulder and he knead at the muscles gently. “Beatles?”

Sirius hummed. “Yeah. That would be really lovely.”

So James did. And Sirius eventually found himself drifting off to the quiet, crooning sounds of James’ tenor, and hoping that his best mate was right. He would wait as long as it took, so long as he knew whatever it was, was waiting for him too.

Chapter Text

Remus stared round the room, first glancing at the blonde reporter, then at the hired interpreter. It wasn’t anyone Remus recognised before. He was tall, lanky, his hair shoulder-length and unwashed. He was regarding Remus with a vague sneer, as though his presence there was an absolute inconvenience. Remus was immediately put off by the entire situation, and he clutched the paper cup full of tea a little tighter as he settled into the seat to Rita’s left.

She gave him a friendly smile, then said something he couldn’t read, and the interpreter didn’t lift his hands, merely nodding. Remus scowled at the absolute unprofessionalism of the entire situation. He’d been in the room nearly five minutes and there had been no attempt to communicate with him, and no introductions. He half wished he’d brought his processor with him, but he’d assumed that whatever agency the Prophet used for their interpreting services, the people would be professional.

That, apparently, was not the case.

Remus cleared his throat, he knew loudly by the way both Rita and the interpreter flinched, and he offered a tense smile, his eyes flickering back between Rita and the man. She frowned, then her mouth formed an O before she turned her head away to speak with him.

With a sigh so heavy Remus could see it, the man turned and his hands lifted. ‘SEVERUS SNAPE,’ he spelt slower than Remus expected. He pointed to himself.

Remus blinked, then signed his own name back, offering his sign name as a courtesy though Snape merely blinked at him as though he didn’t understand. It did not bode well for the whole affair. Clasping his hands on the desk, Remus looked back to Rita who was shuffling round papers, then she pulled out a notebook, a sharp fountain pen with a peacock feather sticking out the back—the most barmy thing he’d ever seen anyone this century use—and she gave him a smile before she spoke. To Snape.

A moment later, his hands raised and Remus had to focus hard because where he was expecting BSL came Signed English. ‘Thank you for coming here, Mr LUPIN. I am hoping we can get through this quickly and take a tour of the facility.’

Half the signs were wrong, though with context Remus managed to put them together, and he held up his hand. ‘You use SE,’ Remus signed. ‘BSL know you?’

Snape stared at him. ‘I do not understand your signs.’

Remus wanted to bang his head on the desk. This had to be a joke. ‘BSL,’ he tried again. ‘You study where?’

Rita looked put out, but Snape ignored her just as much as he’d ignored Remus moments before to answer. ‘I study sign language online. I was certified online.’

Remus’ face dropped and he turned to Rita. “I’m sorry, but I can’t work with him. He doesn’t speak BSL.”

Both people in the room froze and Rita said something like, “I’m sorry, what?”

Remus scrubbed his face, letting out a groan. “He’s using Signed English, that is not BSL. Different grammar. He’s not understanding my BSL.”

Rita didn’t answer Remus, instead turning to face Snape and speak with him. Completely done with the entire situation, Remus grabbed his tea and stormed out. He wasn’t sure if they were trying to call him back, but he wasn’t about to turn round and see for himself.

He came round a corner blindly, too frustrated to look where he was going, and immediately smacked right into a large chest. He let out a cry as his tea sloshed over his hands, dumping itself on his shoes, and he flew back a bit as the rest of the tea soaked into the thigh of the man’s jeans.

Remus looked up, so flustered he didn’t bother to do anything but rub his fist in a circle on his chest. ‘Sorry!’

It took Remus a moment to be surprised when the man’s hands came up. ‘It’s fine. Really. Are you okay?’

Not only was he signing, he was signing Deaf speed, and BSL. Remus blinked up and took him in for a second. He was tall, dark brown skin, wild hair, glasses, and a sheepish grin. He was incredibly fit, muscular like a football or rugby player, and held himself in the same manner.

‘You sign?’ Remus asked.

The man laughed, then extended his hand for a shake before pulling it away. ‘JAMES POTTER. I sign, yes. Really, are you alright? You look upset.’

Remus sighed, leaning against the wall. ‘I’m fine. I was doing an interview with the Prophet, but the terp she hired only uses Signed English, and doesn’t understand BSL. I just ran off.’

James’ face fell, and he shook his head. ‘A terp who doesn’t know BSL?’

Remus nodded miserably. ‘I should have expected it.’ He glanced at James one more time. ‘Are you Deaf?’

James shook his head. ‘Hearing.’

Remus worried his bottom lip before venturing the question, ‘Any chance you have time to help me with a short interview?’

***

Rita looked thoroughly annoyed when Snape was dismissed and James took his place, but she didn’t argue. She’d been packing up to go when Remus walked back into the room, James at his heels, and her eyes narrowed at his sharp grin.

‘This is James,’ Remus signed, and he could see James immediately interpreting. ‘I just met him out there. I’m frustrated that for all your resources, I could find someone off the streets and you paid someone without proper qualifications.’

Snape, who was still there, looked murderous, but Remus ignored him as Rita began to speak, James immediately jumping in. “I was unaware his qualifications were sub-par, but I do apologise. I take it you’re still interested in doing the interview?”

Remus shrugged. ‘It’s fine with me. I expect better though, next time. I understand if you don’t know how to sign, it’s hard to vet a person, but you could at least ask for references.’

Rita blushed, but said nothing as she resumed her seat, and Remus took his. James took his own seat, across from Remus, to Rita’s right hand, and gave Remus a quick wink before everything got started.

The interview itself went alright. The questions were standard, about his childhood, his parents. He explained that deafness ran in his family, genetic trait which he passed on to his son, though he’d always been isolated from that side of the family.

‘They’re from Israel,’ Remus signed casually, making sure James was following—impressed that he was keeping up so well. ‘When we moved to the UK, we never visited, so I never got to see that side of my family. I wasn’t involved with the Deaf community until I was much older.’

He went on to explain his love of dance, trying his best to explain what it was like to choreograph music he didn’t hear, but instead felt. ‘I think the dances are more in tuned to the more subtle nuances of the songs,’ Remus said. ‘Things you don’t normally notice because hearing people are too distracted by lyrics or melody. I can pick up more subtle rhythms, have the dancers react to those, and it becomes more fluid. I think honestly I have a better advantage over hearing choreographers because I am without those distractions.’

“And you use a Cochlear Implant, is that right?” she asked.

Remus scowled. ‘I have one, I don’t use it.’ He noticed James’ smile widen at this, but he didn’t draw attention to it just yet.

“Why’s that? Wouldn’t it be easier for you to just hear?” Rita gave him a saccharine smile. “All this business with the interpreter could have been avoided, couldn’t it?”

‘No,’ Remus signed sharply, and appreciated that James’ facial expression matched his angry signs. ‘CIs are not cures for being Deaf. It’s artificial hearing. Most children, like me, were implanted long before we’re able to consent to the procedure. And there are far too many negative side-effects we have to contend with and for what? To better blend in with the hearing? To accommodate them instead of asking them to learn a few basic signs or even basic Deaf etiquette? I’m happy to be Deaf. I’m proud to be Deaf. And I have no intention of making it easier on hearing people by wearing an implant I never wanted in the first place.’

“Why not have it removed?”

Remus sighed. ‘I attempted to when I was eighteen, but had a poor reaction to the anaesthesia and had to be revived before the procedure could carry on. At this point it’s not life threatening, and I’d rather not put myself at risk.’

She asked a few more questions, about his gender which he told her was none of the public’s business. Then about his son—which he only allowed a few questions. They finished up with information about the school, and his most recent job working with Dori before it was over.

“I’d love to have a tour sometime,” Rita said, glancing at James for a second. “I’ll be sure to hire a proper interpreter if you’d be agreeable.”

Remus shook his head. ‘Leave the interpreter to me. I’ll be in touch.’

They shook hands, and Remus and James remained in their seats until Rita had gathered her things and headed out. When the door shut, James turned back to him, his face smiling and his head shaking.

‘Wow she is…’

Remus laughed. ‘I know.’

‘Why are you doing the interview?’

Shrugging, Remus leant back in his chair, his signs becoming less formal and a bit more lazy. ‘I wanted to bring some good press to the school. It’s not easy trying to get people to understand why a Deaf Dance academy might be a good thing for the community. And I’d like to be seen as a proper professional instead of as a gimmick. The Deaf Choreographer shouldn’t be some funky label people use in order to seem edgy.’

James nodded. ‘I understand. Believe me.’

Remus fiddled with the hem of his shirt before asking, ‘How do you sign so well?’

Eyes wideneing, James laughed again. ‘I’m CODA. My parents are Deaf. They’re from India, and both pretty big activists in the Deaf community. Right now they’re attempting to raise funds to open up a Deaf school there that isn’t focused on oralism. It’s pretty audist there, all their Deaf schools focus on speech and lip reading. Deaf pride is really a big focus in my family.’

Remus’ grin widened. ‘That’s great. Really. Really great.’

James laughed and shrugged. ‘My parents think so. I travel a lot, play football for ARSENAL, you know. But I try to be involved where I can.’

Remus eyes widened. “ARSENAL? Professional? I just had a professional footballer interpret my little magazine interview?’

James laughed and smacked the table, shaking his head. ‘Yes mate, you did.’

Remus put his hands over his face, laughing for a bit. Grabbing his mobile, he quickly did a search for James, and eyes widened to realise he was, indeed, a rather well-known player. Shaking his head, he flashed his screen at James who gave a casual shrug. ‘Why didn’t you tell me?’

‘You were upset and that woman was shit. And that terp…’ James’ fingers trailed off, and he scowled. ‘I wanted to help.’

‘Thank you,’ Remus signed emphatically.

James waved him off, then reached over for a bit of paper Rita had left, scribbling down a number. ‘If you need someone for the tour, please text me.’

Remus shook his head. ‘Aren’t you busy?’

‘Mate, I’m not too busy for that. I mean it.’

Remus felt a bit confused, but took the paper anyway, and put the number into his mobile. After a bit, they rose and headed for the street, pausing by the doors for their last goodbye.

‘It was nice to meet you,’ James said, and when Remus stuck his hand out to shake, James pulled him in for a hug instead. He pulled back, his eyes laughing, and Remus shook his head with a grin.

‘Nice to meet you too. And again, thank you.’

James waved him off, then gave a mock-salute before marching down the street. Remus was still in a bit of disbelief as he headed out, but the day went much better than he could have ever imagined.

***

“…and if you would just sit still this wouldn’t even be a problem,” Sirius barked as the kitchen door swung open and James walked in. Sirius was sat cross-legged on the top of the counter, in front of Regulus who was having his eyes done. Lily was off to the side with her mobile, recording the whole thing, a small grin on her face.

“What are you doing?” James asked.

“Mate, don’t ruin this,” Sirius said. He blew lightly across Reg’s eyes, then swiped his thumb gently across the lid. “I’m practising and I promised my viewers they’d get a candid video of me. You weren’t home, so I had to steal your obnoxious boyfriend.”

“Who is also your brother, who doesn’t know what he did to be born with a rubbish sibling like you,” Regulus complained, his mouth falling into a thin, tight line.

Lily snorted. “That’s Regulus for, I love you and I’m so glad we’re related.”

“The hell it is,” both Regulus and Sirius chorused together.

James sighed, then ignored Lily’s recording and walked over, pressing a kiss to Sirius’ cheek. When he attempted to give one to Regulus, Sirius shrieked and shoved James away.

“Don’t you dare, Potter. Do you have any idea how long I’ve been working on his face?”

“Too long,” Regulus muttered, pouting at his lack of kiss.

Sirius rolled his eyes as he dipped his brush into the loose, red powder. “I’m working on his look for Holi. That’ll be the trial run before your dad’s big event.”

James rolled his eyes. “Bollocks, I almost forgot about that damned thing.” He tilted his head to the side, then smiled. “That colour is gorgeous on you.”

“Hands off,” Sirius warned again. He glanced at the camera. “This is what I have to deal with living here. This. It’s hell. Utter hell.”

“He loves it,” Lily countered.

Sirius rolled his eyes. “Where the hell were you, Jamie? You went out for a coffee and it’s been two hours. Are you having an affair?”

“First of all, how dare you,” James said as he dug into the fridge of a bottle of juice. “Second of all, I helped out a bloke, nothing major. He had a shite terp and he was trying to do an interview. Actually, I need to skype dad about him. He’s been looking for someone to help with the Bollywood dancing and I think I’ve found someone.”

Sirius was only half listening as he finished up Reg’s eyes. Giving his brother a spritz with setting spray, he then motioned for him to turn to the camera and he grinned. “Perfection. Absolute perfection. Sometimes I astound myself.”

“Your humility astounds me daily,” Lily said dryly.

“I love you too, ginger blossom. Anyway my loyal and beautiful followers, now you see what I go through—the pain, and aching—the blood, sweat, and tears—in order to practise so you get clean, edited, well shot, well thought out videos to help you perfect your skill. Until next week!”

Lily ended the video. “You want me to upload it straight to the channel?”

“I promised no editing,” Sirius said with a grimace. “I’m going to regret it later, I’m sure.”

“They’re going to love it,” she said, passing James to kiss Sirius on the cheek. Once she was done, she grabbed Reg by the chin and turned his face from side to side. “It actually looks very fetching, love. Are you going to let him get you all dolled up for Holi.”

Reg sighed, leaning into Lily’s hand gently. “I’m thinking about it.”

“I’ll do all of you, and Hari,” Sirius said flippantly as he jumped down from the counter. He rounded on James after that, poking his finger at his best mate. “So really, what took you so long? A terping job? What is this, Uni?”

James huffed. “The bloke’s a choreographer. He works with that singer dad’s trying to hire for that collaboration bit for the event? Meadowes?”

“Oh, they’re brilliant,” Lily said. “I just downloaded their new album.”

“Anyway he’s called Remus,” James said as he sent a text off to his dad. “And he was being interviewed, but the magazine hired some terp that didn’t speak BSL. I ran into him—literally—in the corridor and ended up helping him with the interview. I’m going to send dad his info for the event.”

“Good plan,” Sirius said.

“You’d actually like him,” James said quietly. “You should check out his youtube channel. He does sign videos—you know the music ones? I haven’t seen them, but I reckon he’s pretty brilliant.”

Sirius hesitated. Most sign interpretation videos were boring, if he was being honest. Most were done by hearing people, and devoid of emotion and nuance. But if James was recommending it, he reckoned why not.

“Not like I’ve much better to do besides watch the comments roll in about how shite I am,” Sirius groused, knowing better than to delve into the cesspool that was the YouTube comments section. He grabbed a bottle of water, then headed to his own room.

An hour later, Sirius woke from an unplanned nap with Harry jumping onto his chest. His eyes opened, and he found himself nose-to-nose with the green-eyed boy. “Haz?”

“Mummy said to come and wake you up,” Harry said, poking Sirius on the nose. “She said if you don’t get up now you won’t sleep at all tonight and you’ll be cross tomorrow all day. And you’ve got to mind me!”

Sirius scrubbed his face, then reached up quickly, tickling the boy until he squirmed away. Sirius laughed gently, ruffling Harry’s messy locks, and they fell back against Sirius’ sea of pillows. “Well, are you going to entertain me and keep me up.”

“Nope,” Harry said, putting his arms behind his head. “You entertain me!”

Sirius sighed, then reached out and grabbed his laptop. He’d been meaning to look up the sign videos James mentioned earlier, and figured now was the time. The search was still fresh in his browser, and he clicked a link which took him straight to YouTube. The channel was called MrMoony, and it had several different videos. Most, it seemed, were signing songs, and others labelled rants of one thing or another.

Sirius wasn’t entirely interested in those, so he scrolled through until Harry shouted and pointed, “Do you want to build a snowman! Padfoot,” he whinged.

Sirius let out a withering sigh, having enough of Frozen for a hundred lifetimes, but he’d also never been able to tell his godson no, so he clicked it open. The video was an intro screen, fairly decent graphics welcoming the viewer.

Welcome to MrMoony’s YouTube channel. Any questions and please see the Welcome video. Today will be a performance of Frozen’s Do You Want to Build A Snowman, as performed by MrMoony and Mini. Please enjoy.

The video cut to a room with trees and snow painted on what looked like massive bits of paper attached to the walls. Then the camera panned down to a small boy with wild, dark curls sleeping on a pillow, under an Elsa duvet.

The music began, and then Remus entered. Sirius was immediately struck by the sight of him. He was wearing trousers, a white and grey plaid shirt, and of all things—a bowtie. His hair had the same fantastic curls as the boy’s did, a large nose, and grin as he stepped into the frame. He was lithe, well defined like a dancer—which would make sense of he was a choreographer. He glanced at the camera, then his hands began to move.

But it was nothing like Sirius had ever seen before. The signs flowed, BSL not signed English although the lyrics carried on with the melody. But it wasn’t just signing. His entire body moved with it. Flowing and dancing, turning it into a marriage of language and art and something else Sirius had never experienced before.

He knew BSL well enough—never quite up to James’ speed, but when the Potters had taken him in, he’d worked and worked until he could have a conversation with them without trouble. It had been a few years though, since he was immersed in the language, and as he watched, it started coming back.

As the video went on, the younger boy got up and the pair began to duet together. Sirius could see bright, purple sparkling hearing aids on the boy’s ears when he pushed his hair back, and his hands flowed like a native signer. It was beautiful, there were no other words for it.

“That’s so cool,” Harry breathed when it was over. “Paddy, he’s so cool.”

“I think so too,” Sirius said, staring at the preview of the next video queued. He glanced at Harry. “Go on and see what Reggie and your dad are up to. I’ll be out in a few minutes.”

Harry gave him a knowing look, but scampered off, letting the door slam on his way out. When Sirius was finally alone, he loaded up the video titled Happy, and the familiar song began to play.

Just like with the Frozen song, it was something new. He was dressed just as ridiculous, jeans, a t-shirt, a bowtie on his neck, his hair wild, arms bare and lovely. He moved like water flowing, pulsing with the music in a way Sirius rarely saw in dancers.

The video was shot outside, a small patch of London he vaguely recognised round some block of flats. The camera was shaky, adding to the aesthetic of the song, and Remus’ hands flowed perfectly as he jumped over stoops and swung round lampposts and skipped on top of bus benches. The strangers wandering by watched with wide eyes and smiles, pointing, but Moony didn’t seem to notice or care. He was part of the song, belonging to it.

Sirius wished desperately he knew him in real life. A sudden envy of James’ afternoon of translating because there was something about this man Sirius desperately wanted to know. Not that he’d ever bother. His relationships crashed and burnt, to the point where as lonely as he was, and as much as he wanted it, he was still scared.

He was tired of being an anomaly with his dates. Assuming he’d “get over” his sexuality. He’d get comfortable enough and his libido would appear as if by magic. It was too much to hope Remus would have some understanding.

So he clicked the browser off and shut his laptop. He wasn’t going to do this to himself. He just didn’t have it in him.

***

Remus had Teddy’s hand, swinging it lightly as they moved up the steps to their landing. Remus quickly opened the door, and Teddy burst inside, throwing his rucksack down near the table and bolted for his room. Rolling his eyes, Remus picked it up and set it on the sofa before heading over to check his email.

The channel he’d been following for a while, BrushItOff, had uploaded a new video. The description said it was an unedited, day in the life of, sort of thing, and Remus decided he’d queue it up later. Presently he was looking through BrushItOff’s archives for something he could use for Teddy. Purim was coming up, and Teddy was going as a ladybird, so he wanted something to match. Not that Remus was any good at all at following the tutorials, but they helped and Teddy seemed pleased with his dad’s work.

They watched the channel together, and Remus could see in the future, Teddy rocking some of the more fantastic looks Padfoot—the makeup artist—would show. He hoped that day was far off. He was enjoying being a parent, and was hoping his kid wouldn’t rush headlong into adulthood.

His sole job, really, was to make sure Teddy grew up easier than he did. No pushback from parents however he wanted to identify. Remus had an alright transition—his parents loved him and had trouble with it at first, but there was so many more things to worry about that eventually they just let it go.

But it had still been difficult. He wanted Teddy to feel free to just explore himself, to never worry about what he or Nym might think. They’d always been open with him about his birth, about how he’d come into being.

‘Your mummy and I didn’t want to stay married,’ Remus explained when Teddy had asked the year before. ‘But we wanted a baby and she really wanted your DNA to come from me. So we saved up money and went to see some doctors, and eventually they took an egg from me, and put it in her tummy. She was able to grow you and bond with you inside her body.’

Teddy wanted to know why Remus hadn’t elected to do it himself, and Remus wasn’t sure how to explain to his child his fear of dysphoria he wouldn’t be able to manage if he carried a child. He’d never been fussed about the idea that genitals meant gender, but there was so much social stigma surrounding pregnancy and it wasn’t something he’d ever been desperate to experience. So he merely said he and Nym decided it was the best way for their family to exist, and Teddy accepted that. One day the kid might be old enough to understand the subtle nuances of gender dysphoria his dad suffered, but for now, he didn’t need the burden—and Remus was almost always happy.

Just as Remus found a video he could use, Teddy came tearing back into the room wearing a huge grin. ‘Pizza tonight?’

Remus snorted. ‘Your mum will kill me if I don’t make you eat veg at least one time.’

Teddy pouted and rushed up to his dad, throwing his arms round him. ‘Please,’ he signed. ‘Please,’ he exaggerated the sign wide.

Remus sighed. ‘How about pizza with one veg?’

Teddy pouted another moment, but eventually conceded, especially after he saw the video Remus had queued. ‘Tonight?’ he signed excitedly.

Remus nodded. ‘I’ll send an order for the pizza, you go get the makeup.”

Teddy scrambled off his lap, and Remus sent in the text order. Just as he got the confirm text, another one popped through, and he was surprised to see it was James Potter.

Sorry to bother you, but I had a question for you. You worked with Meadowes, right?

Remus frowned. Yes, I did. On her latest video for her choreography. Why?

A few minutes passed before he got another text. Have you ever heard of a Bollywood singer called Dakshi Patil?

I haven’t, sorry.

My dad’s running an event, I think I may have told you about it? To raise money for a school he’s opening in Delhi. It’s in London, in three weeks, and I was wondering if you might be interested in collaborating on some choreography. Meadowes and Dakshi are putting together a small show, and we could use a choreographer. We’d like a marriage of traditional Bollywood dance combined with modern dance.

Remus’ eyes widened at the text. Just then, Teddy came into the room with his makeup kid, and Remus held up a hand for him to wait as he finished the conversation. That sounds great, but I’m not trained in that style. Won’t that be a problem?

My dad cares more about showcasing Deaf Talent than your training. Dakshi could come by and show you some of the basics, then you could maybe put something together? I know it’s last minute, and honestly we couldn’t pay you what you normally charge but, I was hoping maybe for the Deaf community you might be willing. I know that makes me seem like a huge twat.

Remus had to laugh, his head shaking at his mobile. You’re not. You helped me more than enough. Three weeks is a stretch, but depending on the length of the show, and how quickly I could meet with Dakshi, I might be able to throw something together. And consider it a favour repaid.

Remus wondered if maybe he was making a mistake, taking no pay. But he’d experienced enough of audism and oralism in his life that knowing an entire country was built round it for Deaf people, he felt like it was the least he could do.

I’ll get back to you, okay? When are you free?

I could meet her at the school any day.

It was silent after that. The lights flashed, indicating the arrival of the pizza. Teddy, who’d been trying to be more adult each day, begged to pay, so Remus let him handle the transaction. Fifteen minutes later they were mostly full, and Padfoot’s video was playing on the laptop.

Remus was sat in front of Teddy, Teddy’s eyes closed, Remus with the shadow brush. His tongue was pinched between his teeth as he attempted the piss-poor job of the amazing work Padfoot had done in the video. He paused for a moment, watching Padfoot’s smile, the gentle contours of his face as he explained how it all worked.

He was very expressive, which was something Remus adored about him. His face was bright, eyes always meeting the camera, expressions matching the words and tones so even if Remus couldn’t read his lips, he could always tell how Sirius was feeling, what he meant as the words scrawled across the screen.

Benjy was forever taking the piss about Remus pining after this YouTuber. He had many more followers than Remus did, and it was obvious why. He was beyond gorgeous. His smile, his passion. Just everything.

Remus wanted to deny it, but why bother, really. He was a YouTuber, and it was obvious Remus would never actually meet him.

With a sigh, he finished Teddy’s eyes, then gave his leg a pat. ‘Finished,’ he signed. ‘Go look.’

Teddy hurried off, then rushed back into the lounge wearing the biggest grin. ‘Love it! Love it! I’m going to look great on Purim.’

Remus snorted, nodding his head. ‘The best. Now go start your bath and wash it all off. We’ll practise more before Purim. I promise.’

Teddy flung himself at Remus, kissing his cheek before rushing off to do as he was asked. As Remus sat back, he clicked through a few other videos, and saw one tutorial with a small boy who Remus had seen before, but oddly enough now, he looked familiar. Something about the expressions and the hair, but Remus couldn’t quite put his finger on it.

With a sigh, he clicked the video off, then grabbed his mobile to see James had texted back.

Dakshi says she can meet you tomorrow at the school if you’re free. Should only take a few hours. And I’ll come along to terp. I’ll have my boyfriend with me, it’s our date night, but he’s alright with it.

Remus decided not to try and argue with James about ruining his date night, and instead sent the address to the school. Looking forward to it, James. See you tomorrow.

Ten minutes later he got a text back. I can’t wait. Thanks again, Remus. You’re a lifesaver.

Chapter Text

‘Please behave,’ Remus begged his son through large, expressive gestures. ‘This might take me a while.’

Teddy gave him a withering look, having spent loads of time with his dad already at the school, whether he was teaching or choreographing for the people who needed him. And Teddy usually behaved. He mostly behaved. I mean…he was an alright kid, anyway.

‘Aids in,’ Remus instructed.

Teddy sighed, but walked over to his rucksack and fished them out, and put them on. ‘Better?’ he signed at his dad.

Remus grit his teeth a little, hoping everything would go smoothly. He really owed James, and honestly, it was a worthy cause and he wanted to help. ‘Yes, thank you. And I swear we can do anything you like after this if I can get through without interruption.’

Teddy huffed, then dug through his pack for his drawing supplies and plonked himself down at the far end of the room. Remus watched him a moment, then went over to his stuff and fished out his processor. With a grimace, he clipped on, though he didn’t switch it on straight away. Instead he flicked on the music, low volume but high bass, and began to stretch and work his muscles to the beat.

He went through a few of his steps he was teaching one of the older classes, a mixture of modern dance and classic ballet, and he didn’t notice the figures in the room til he spun round and saw James in the doorway wearing a slight grin.

Remus dropped his arms and quickly switched on his processor before walking over and beckoning him inside. Behind him was Dakshi Patil—he’d looked her up the night before, watching several of her videos and her work was gorgeous—and to his surprise, twin girls who were blinking owlishly at Remus, then over at Teddy who hadn’t bothered to look up from his project.

Remus extended his hand to James first, then to Dakshi as James quickly made the introductions.

“I’ve my processor on,” Remus explained after a moment. “I’ll still need help with translation, I don’t totally understand speech that well. But I want to be able to hear as much of the music as I can, to get a real feel for it before I work on any choreography.”

Dakshi smiled at him, then bent down to instruct her girls to sit and behave quietly.

‘They can go and sit with Teddy,’ Remus signed to James. ‘He’s Hard of Hearing but he can understand fine and uses speech.’

James quickly translated, and Dakshi then sent the girls over to the small boy. Teddy looked up in surprise, scowling at the invasion of his privacy, but Remus quickly signed at him, ‘Be nice,’ and he huffed, but shifted over so they could sit.

Remus said another prayer to himself that this would go smoothly.

‘Okay,’ James signed as Dakshi began to speak, ‘I brought you a copy of the songs that Meadowes and I will be doing. It’s a mash-up of BOLLYWOOD and POP, and I want the dance to reflect that. I also brought in one of my albums where I did some remakes of OLD SCHOOL BOLLYWOOD and I can teach you the dances for those. That way you get a feel of what it’s like.’

Remus nodded. ‘Let’s get started.’

***

It took far longer than he’d hoped. The style of dance itself was simple enough, but remembering the steps wasn’t easy and by the time he’d got it down, they had to pause to separate Teddy and the girls six times. Eventually Remus sent Teddy up to Mary’s classroom to wait, and Dakshi apologised profusely.

“It’s not their fault,” Remus said, skipping sign to show he really was sorry. “He doesn’t like sharing his space. He’s a bit spoilt.”

Both Dakshi and James laughed. ‘My girls are no angels,’ James signed for Dakshi. ‘Don’t be too hard on him. Anyway how long do you think it’ll take. I think Meadowes and I will need at least five days to learn the routine, as well as our backup dancers. There are going to be at least eight.’

Remus shrugged, biting down on his bottom lip before signing, ‘Give me three days, I think. If I work through some of my classes I think I can come up with something decent.’

‘We’d like you also at the festival,’ James said. ‘To supervise and everything. Would that be alright?’

Remus smiled. ‘Yes, of course. We’ll be in touch, okay? Over text?’

Dakshi shook his hand, then called the girls over and they headed out. James lingered a while, smiling as Remus grabbed a flannel to mop up his forehead.

‘Not too bad?’ he asked after Remus switched his processor off.

Remus snorted. ‘Can you do those moves?’

James demonstrated a little bit, not half bad for someone who wasn’t professionally trained. ‘My dad loves it, was always making me learn the steps,’ he explained with a shrug. ‘I never shared his passion, but I never forgot.’

Remus chuckled as he beckoned James along, up the stairs to find Teddy. He could feel the beat of music, and he paused by one of the doors to see the fives and sixes class working with Mary. She was currently having them sat on the floor feeling the differences in the vibrations under their hands. Remus grinned, then headed over to her main room where Teddy was still colouring.

Remus stomped on the floor, and Teddy looked up. ‘Finished.’

The boy jumped up with a grin, and ran over. ‘Can we go to the zoo tomorrow?’

James and Remus both chuckled. ‘Mine loves the zoo,’ James said. ‘We ought to take them together some time.’

Teddy frowned. ‘Is he Deaf?’

‘No,’ James said. ‘But he learnt sign before English. My parents are Deaf.’

Teddy brightened. ‘Okay he can come, then!’

James laughed again as Remus signed a quick apology, but James brushed him off. ‘I was exactly like that as a kid. It’s no worries. He’ll be excited to meet you.’

‘Go get your things,’ Remus ordered, then turned back to James. ‘Maybe I’ll bring him along to the Deaf Event?’

‘Yes,’ James said excitedly. ‘Harry will be glad to have a mate there. He doesn’t get on with other kids very well so he’ll be excited.’

Remus grinned. ‘Great. I’ll be in touch then, yeah?’

James clapped him on the shoulder, then stuck his hand out to Teddy to shake. ‘Nice to meet you. Talk soon.’

***

Sirius walked through the door, arms loaded with shopping bags full of makeup supplies, and several text messages on his phone he was determined to ignore. He’d got a huge response from his most recent video, and had decided to make another candid one, shot selfie-style as he shopped. It was a bit ridiculous, and he got funny looks everywhere, but he’d enjoyed it.

When he slipped into the lounge, he found James reading in his favourite chair, and Regulus on the sofa with Harry perched on his knee. The small boy was wearing tiger ears, and grinned up the second Sirius entered.

“Padfoot! Will you do tiger stripes for me for the zoo?”

“You’re going to the zoo?” Sirius asked, letting his bags down and dropping onto James’ lap. He smiled when James’ arm came round his waist and held him tight.

“Daddy’s taking me,” Harry said. “Reggie has to stay here for work though.”

Reg ruffled Harry’s messy locks, careful not to dislodge the ears. “You know I’d go with you if I could, love.”

Harry huffed. “Mummy’s always sleeping or working and you’re always working. Paddy, can you come?”

Sirius twisted his head to look at James. “Am I invited?”

James snorted. “Of course you are. We’re meeting that YouTube bloke. The Deaf dancer? Remus?”

At that, Sirius’ heart sped up, thumping hard against his ribs. “What? Why?”

“He’s got a kid,” James said with a shrug. “Round Harry’s age. Thought it might be nice to get them together.”

Sirius’ mouth went dry and he glanced at Harry’s pleading face. “I…er. Okay. Yeah sure I…why not.”

James quirked a brow at him. “Something wrong, love?”

“I think Padfoot’s a bit thirsty,” Regulus muttered.

“You want some juice?” Harry offered.

Regulus snorted, buring his face in Harry’s hair, and Sirius refrained from using a rude gesture in front of the young one. “Maybe I should stay.”

James huffed, squeezed Sirius round the waist before easing him up and standing. “Don’t be a git. It’ll be fun, and you’ll like Remus.”

“I think that’s the problem,” Regulus said.

Sirius bit the inside of his cheek. “It’s not a problem, you…”

“Si,” James warned quietly. “Reg, my love, please stop torturing him.”

Regulus pulled a face, then smiled at James. “Only for you.” He shifted Harry off his lap. “I have to get to work though. Give us a kiss, yeah?”

Harry leant up and gave Regulus a kiss on his cheek, not taking his eyes from the telly. Reg then moved round Sirius, elbowing him in the ribs before grabbing James and planting a proper kiss on his lips. James held him tight. “Love you, babes. See you when we get back.”

“You both disgust me,” Sirius said entirely without venom. He dove into the new makeup and found enough in there to do proper tiger stripes on Harry.

An hour later and both Harry and Sirius are in matching make-up, gorgeous eyes, with whiskers and black outlining the tips of their noses. Sirius took a few selfies, then swapped to video. “Zoo day, everyone,” he said to the camera. “You ready, Hari?”

“We’re going to see tigers! Maybe I can live with the tigers!”

“You’re a pretty ferocious beast,” Sirius agreed. “Jamie, you want to say anything?”

“I think I’ll pass, as usual,” James said, shaking his head.

Sirius huffed, but carried on discussing the zoo animals with Harry until it was time to leave. He ended the video, planning on putting it all together once the day was up. Maybe, he thought, he could get Remus to join in. Not that he was plotting out some type of love story to evolve out of two YouTubers, but wasn’t that the romance shit followers were always going on about?

Harry interrupted his train of thought by insisting they bring animal ears and stuff to makeup Teddy’s face, just in case the other boy wanted it. Sirius agreed, letting Harry run and get a pair of his Panther ears, and Sirius packed a small case of makeup he could carry with him. A few more texts popped through, but Sirius continued to ignore them, shoving his mobile into his pocket as they headed down for James’ car. Sirius got Harry strapped in to his seat, then they made the trek over.

The zoo was busy enough, but Sirius didn’t notice much besides his absolute nerves knowing that in just moments he’d be meeting Remus face-to-face. Not that Remus knew he existed, of course. But it didn’t stop the butterflies in his stomach. It was like meeting a celebrity in a way, which felt barmy as he was surrounded by film and television stars so often with his job, he rarely found himself starstruck.

And yet, as they approached the front gates, there he was, and Sirius’ breath quickened. Remus looked different from his videos, of course. Mostly because he wasn’t in some silly shirt and bowtie, and he was far more relaxed than in his videos.

He was lithe though, fit, a dancer’s body for sure with a broad torso, and well defined arms. He was wearing a plain, black t-shirt and jeans, his hair covered half by a beanie, though stray curls poked out the sides, and he had one hand firmly clamped in a small boy who was nearly the absolute spit of him.

Teddy, Sirius remembered from the Frozen video. He was wearing a shirt with penguins on it, and jeans, and was looking warily between James, Sirius, and Harry. His hair was a mess of curls, just like his dad’s, and he had bright purple hearing aids tucked over his ears.

James quickly waved, and Sirius didn’t miss an almost spasm that went over Remus’ face as he glanced at Sirius, then at Harry who was clutching onto Sirius’ hand shyly.

‘This is SIRIUS,’ James signed, then offered Sirius’ sign name. ‘And Harry.’ He turned to the boy, ‘Harry, this is Remus and Teddy, and use sign, okay?’

Harry shrugged, then let go of Sirius’ hand to approach Teddy. ‘I’m a tiger today.’

Teddy raised a brow, but looked more relaxed the moment he saw Harry sign. ‘I like Penguins.’

Harry cocked his head to the side, looked back at Sirius, then at Teddy. ‘But we brought you ears.’ He stomped his foot at Sirius who laughed, then pulled the ears out and displayed them. ‘Want them? Paddy can do your makeup. Like mine.’

Teddy looked up at Sirius, then his eyes went wide and looked back at his dad, then at Sirius again. Sirius noticed an expression of almost-panic on Remus’ face before Teddy’s hands came up. ‘I know your videos.’

Sirius blinked, and he fumbled with the bag so he could sign, ‘From the computer?’

Teddy nodded emphatically. ‘Daddy made me a ladybird and I’ll be that for Purim.’

Sirius didn’t recognise the last sign, but he looked up at Remus who was blushing furiously and rubbing a closed fist round his chest. ‘Sorry. We know your makeup tutorials.’

Sirius laughed and shook his head. ‘That’s okay. I know your sign videos. Nice to meet you.’ He ignored the violent rush up his arm as they shook hands, and he whipped away quickly so he wouldn’t be obvious. Remus was just too cute and Sirius wasn’t sure what to do about it. He had never been so shy or awkward before, and what the hell was going on with him?

To distract himself, he beckoned Teddy over to benches whilst James and Remus sorted out tickets for their entry. He had the boy sit, then he placed the ears on his hair, and began the makeup. Luckily for panther it was a simple gold shadow, some winged eyeliner, and a bit of a nose with whiskers.

‘Photo?’ Sirius asked.

The boys grinned, throwing an arm round each other, and Sirius snapped a few for his video. He swapped to the camera and began to voice, along with poor, one-handed signing. “It’s zoo day! As you can see I’m still in tiger gear, and we’ve now got Hari and Teddy, the Tiger and Panther for the day. Say hi.’ He moved the mobile round, and the boys began to sign in their excitement to go inside.

“Hari’s saying he can’t wait to see the tigers, and Teddy appears to be a fan of the Penguins, so I’m sure it’s going to be an exciting day. Stay tuned to my channel later for a tutorial on this fun makeup for your kiddos’ next zoo days. Until then!”

Sirius ended just as Remus and James approached, and he gave them both a sheepish smile. ‘I won’t use the footage on my channel if you don’t want.’

Remus waved him off, his head shaking, a soft smile on his face. ‘I don’t mind. Teddy’s on mine quite a lot.’

Sirius flushed. ‘I know. I saw the Frozen one.’

Remus groaned, rolling his eyes and shaking his head. ‘Can’t escape it.’

Sirius chuckled, then his eyes went wide as he realised James had both boys and they were marching toward the entrance, leaving Sirius and Remus behind. Flushing hard, he beckoned Remus along, and soon enough they were inside and trying to map out their day.

The boys were immediately demanding ice lollies before they even began their journey, and when Remus tried to buy them, James insisted, and took the off again. Sirius shuffled his feet, then cast Remus a glance and noticed he was being stared at.

He startled, until he remembered how absolutely impolite it was to look away from Remus who needed to see his face, and he flushed again. ‘Sorry this is…it’s nice to meet you. I like your videos a lot, and James is over the moon about your help with the Deaf Event.’

Remus’ grin was wide and sunny, and he shrugged. ‘I’m happy to help. And you know I like yours as well. Teddy’s always making me practise on him, and I actually have some skill now. Nowhere near yours,’ he gestured at Sirius’ face and huffed a laugh. ‘Your signing is good, by the way. I was nervous you were…you’d be…’ Remus trailed off and shrugged.

‘I spent from sixteen on with James’ parents, so I learnt quickly,’ Sirius explained. ‘I’m still slow, it’s been a few years since they were over.’

‘It’s great,’ Remus insisted.

Sirius swallowed thickly, then chanced a tense smile. ‘Thanks.’

Remus laughed once more, then held out his hand as Teddy came tearing up with his strawberry flavoured sweet, and Harry had his own lemon one. After that, the day was a blur of racing from exhibit to exhibit—the kids each getting to see their favourites. Teddy sold Harry on the penguins, and Harry sold Teddy on the tigers, and only Sirius and Remus were brave enough to go and see the spider exhibit. James wore an expression Sirius knew well, the entire time giving him a look and Sirius wanted to hit him.

He half-wondered if this had been some sort of set-up, and whilst Sirius would have so been down with it, he couldn’t tell how Remus felt. He was nice, chatty, and Sirius would almost assume he was flirting, but he was behaving the same way with James and it was putting it off.

Sirius had never had so much bloody trouble reading someone before.

They stopped for afternoon tea, letting the kids stuff themselves with sweets before they took off to finish the zoo rounds, and by the time it was over, and each had a giant stuffie—Teddy with a tiger, Harry with a Lion—they were exhausted and the adults looked ready for a holiday away from their little holiday.

‘This was nice,’ Remus said as they exited.

James nodded, clapping him on the shoulder. ‘Brilliant. Again sometime?’

Remus nodded, then turned to Sirius and after a second, smiled at him. ‘Nice to meet you.’

‘Same,’ Sirius replied. Feeling unsure of what to say next, he just turned to Teddy and offered a high five. The boy jumped to smack his palm, then grabbed his legs and hugged him. Sirius let out a startled laugh, then lifted the boy up for a proper embrace. ‘Next time, eh? You can come over for one of my tutorial videos with Hari?’

Teddy turned wide eyes at his dad, bouncing on his feet. ‘Did you see that?’

Remus laughed, nodding. ‘Yes. I think we’d like that. Thank you.’

Sirius waved him off, then waited until they were gone before rounding on James. “Well. That was…”

“I’m not going to comment,” James said with a smirk. He swung Harry up into his arms, and they headed for his car. After he got the boy strapped into his seat, he shut the door and turned back to Sirius. “For what it’s worth, I think he’s into you, too.”

Sirius rolled his eyes. “No idea what you’re on about.”

“I’ve never seen you so polite, Sirius. Ever. So many please and thank yous. So much blushing.”

“Shut up,” Sirius groused.

“You didn’t say a bloody word to me,” James pointed out, yanking Sirius close by his wrist.

“I didn’t say a word at all. We were signing all day.”

“You know what the fuck I mean,” James said with a snort. “Just…go for it, yeah? I’m going to invite him to Holi, and maybe then you’ll find your spine.”

“Fuck. Off.” Sirius wrenched away from James and got in the car. Instead of looking at his best mate, he busied himself with going over the rest of the video, and even the small clips he’d accidentally gotten Remus in, his heart was thumping.

It was ridiculous to feel this way. James—what the hell did he know? He wouldn’t know flirting if it up and bit him on the arse. It was a bloody miracle he managed to make it work with one person, let alone two. Sirius would absolutely not be taking his advice.

Though his mind couldn’t help but wander to the what-ifs. What if Remus was interested? It still left the massive elephant in the room—Sirius might fancy him but his sexuality remained demi—and very rarely did people understand that it wasn’t just falling in love would “correct” his libido. He had no idea what Remus did or didn’t understand about it, and it was always a source of contention.

It was the sole reason he hated dating—hated the disappointment and heartache every time they left because they were tired of waiting round for him to be “normal”. James always said if it was meant to be, it wouldn’t be difficult, and it wouldn’t be painful.

Sirius had yet to experience that, and approaching thirty, he was starting to wonder if he ever would.

***

Remus stared down at his mobile, then decided not to open the text. Teddy had just gone back with Nym, and he was in his studio. It was smaller than the school, but it was sound-proofed enough to keep most of his neighbours from complaining when he worked. Right now he had the music turned up as loud as his speakers could take it, and he was running through a few of the moves for the song.

He had a decent idea of where he was going to take the choreography. He’d spent the entire night after the zoo watching Bollywood videos on YouTube—for research. It had absolutely nothing to do with distracting himself from the utter shock of James’ mate being Sirius fucking Black. It had absolutely nothing to do with his desire to keep watching Sirius’ videos, and replaying every moment he’d spent with him on their day out.

Nothing at all.

It was purely work research.

If anything, his denial at least led him to being productive.

He had almost the entire song finished. He knew a few things would need to be adjusted here and there, but with Dakshi’s help, it likely wouldn’t be a problem at all. He found the Bollywood style dancing to be energetic and brilliant, and he couldn’t wait to see it all played out on stage.

It wasn’t until the lights flashed in the corner of the room that he remembered Benjy was supposed to come by for Remus’ weekly video. One he’d forgotten to cancel thanks to the job he’d picked up. Biting his lip, he wandered into the lounge and threw the door open.

Benjy was there with the usual equipment, and beer tucked under one arm. He jutted his chin upward in greeting as Remus let him in, then banged everything on the table.

‘You look flushed. Were you dancing?’

Remus nodded. ‘I completely forgot to tell you, this week’s video is off.’

Benjy stared, then his shoulders deflated and he laughed. ‘Thank god, mate. I am bloody exhausted. I was rowing with Eli all night, and didn’t get more than an hour of sleep.’

Remus’ face fell. ‘I’m sorry.’

Benjy waved him off. ‘Usual shite, you know. Right now I’d just love a few beers and to sit on my arse. You mind?’

Remus waved at the sofa, then went to rummage in his cupboards, finding a left over packet of cheesy crisps to go with the beer. Benjy gave him a wide grin as he cracked two beers, handing one off, then took a long pull of his before wiping his mouth on the back of his hand.

‘Anything new? Distract me, Moony.’

Remus rolled his eyes. ‘That bloke James Potter…’

‘The famous footballer?’ Benjy asked. He’d taken the piss for days after learning who had helped terp Remus’ interview.

Remus huffed. ‘Yes. He invited me to the zoo, to take the kids. He’s got one round Ted’s age. He brought a…’ Remus’ hands stilled for a second. ‘Friend.’

Benjy blinked at him. ‘And?’

‘It was Sirius Black.’ When it was clear on Benjy’s face he didn’t know who that was, Remus said, ‘The makeup artist on YouTube.’

Benjy sat forward, his mouth opening in a laugh. He slapped his knee, his head shaking back and forth. ‘The one you’re so thirsty for.’

Remus felt his cheeks go white hot. ‘He was nice. Weird though, shy? I thought sometimes he was flirting but other times…’ He shook his head. ‘I just don’t know.’

‘That is brilliant, my friend,’ Benjy’s hands said, then reached out and cuffed him on the shoulder. ‘Will you see him again?’

Remus shrugged. ‘Maybe at the Deaf Event. James asked me to be there to supervise the choreography.’

Benjy grinned widely. ‘Invite me. I have to see this.’

Remus rolled his eyes. ‘Fuck off. I embarrass myself enough, I don’t need you adding to it.’

‘He’s cute in real life though, isn’t he?’

Remus shrugged. ‘I don’t think cute’s the word for it. He’s…’ But there really wasn’t a word for it, whatever Sirius was. Gorgeous, overwhelming—but in a good way. Remus had it bad, but really he had no intention of doing anything about it. Sirius rubbed elbows with celebrities daily. He had a channel that was celebrity status in the YouTube world, so what would he want with someone who ran a little school and occasionally made ridiculous sign videos? Honestly, he was probably just trying to be nice.

Remus looked up when Benjy kicked his calf lightly. ‘You’re over-thinking again. Stop it.’

Remus sighed. ‘I’m not. I just know there’s no point.’

Benjy leant his head into Remus, and instead of answering, flicked on the telly and the pair let things be.

***

Remus eventually sorted out his texts the next day. He arranged for Dakshi, Meadowes, and their dancers to come to the school on Thursday so they could begin to learn the routine, and make any changes necessary.

James had also sent one over, inviting Remus to Holi. It’s a festival, loads of food and dancing, and it’ll be fun. I think Teddy would enjoy it if you could bring him along. Just let me know, okay, and I’ll get you the address.

Remus looked up a few videos on the Holi festival and whilst it did look amazing, he was hesitant. It was falling the day after Purim, which he’d be spending at the Synagogue with Nym and Teddy dressing up, minding the costume contest and food—Nym had volunteered to manage that this year—and attending the late reading.

Also he knew Sirius would be there, and as much as he was aching to spend more time with him, Remus wasn’t sure it was good for him to pine like this. He avoided relationships generally—not only because he had to deal with half the gay men he dated being subtly transphobic, but also half of them weren’t thrilled about him being a single parent.

And Sirius was hearing. Whilst it was less of an issue because of the Potters, something like that always gave Remus pause. He’d always been proud to be Deaf, and he’d never purposefully excluded hearing people, often they just couldn’t relate. And that did matter. When it came to him and Teddy, at least. The last bloke he’d dated had been fine that he was trans, but after several weeks had insisted on being verbal in the house, and Remus had a rule. He’d stuck to it his entire life, and when their row about Remus refusing to wear his processor at home reached it’s peak, they ended things.

And Remus decided he was just better off alone.

Deciding not to text James back straight away, Remus sorted out the song for his next video and went through the lyrics to translate them from English to BSL. Just as he was finishing up, his mobile buzzed, and he saw it was an email from Rita Skeeter.

Flicking the screen open, he glanced through.

Mr Lupin

Thanks ever-so-much for the interview. It’s already gaining traction. Can’t wait to meet up and see about the school.

Best Regards,
Rita Skeeter

Remus followed the link, almost excited to see how well it was written, until he got to the first line. And then the sentence following wasn’t any better. He was immediately portrayed as an anomaly, dancing in spite of his Deafness, rising to the challenges of being disabled, and at one point his gender was brought up, and the transphobia was so striking, he had to put his mobile down and take calming breaths.

He could feel dysphoria creeping round the edges of his mind, making his skin itch, and making anger bubble in his stomach. The words in the interview had been twisted, written wrongly, half the things in it he hadn’t even said.

He had been so sure of James, so sure he was translating properly. He was a CODA, of prominent Deaf Activist parents. Remus wanted to—no needed to—believe James hadn’t done this to him on purpose.

With shaking hands, he picked up his mobile and texted James. I need to see you immediately. Are you busy?

He received a reply only moments later. I’m out with Reg. But we can meet if you like. Everything okay?

Remus chose not to answer, instead asking James to meet him at the school. I’ll be in my office. How quickly can you get there?

James replied with twenty, and Remus could be there in ten, which would give him some time to calm himself down. He didn’t want to come at James accusing him, but his entire body was shaking. How could this have happened?

In the back of his mind he was sure it was that Skeeter bitch. She’d treated him like a gimmick the moment he saw her, but he had to be sure. Grabbing his shoes, he slipped them on, hoping the walk would clear his mind a bit.

This couldn’t be James.

In his office, Remus sat down behind his desk and took a breath before he reopened the article, determined to read it objectively. He went through it all again, cringing at every abelist thing she’d said, and when he got to the bottom, he saw it.

Severus Snape.

She’d still listed the interpreter who’d been sacked as the person who had gone over the meeting.

He felt sick.

He barely noticed time passing, and suddenly he looked up to see James stood in the doorway, and a person next to him that looked so strikingly like Sirius he almost thought it was him a moment. Then he realised it had to be Reg—and Reg had to be Sirius’ sibling. He was a little shorter, clipped hair but falling in the same elegant way over his forehead. He was far less expressive though, and regarded Remus with more caution than Sirius ever had.

‘You okay?’ James asked, taking in Remus’ expression.

Remus nodded, then gave James an apologetic smile. ‘Can we speak alone?’

James nodded hurriedly. ‘I’m just going to tell him to meet me down in the lobby, okay?’ James then turned his head to speak, and Reg gave a curt nod before leaving the office, shutting the door behind him.

‘Sorry,’ Remus signed again, but James waved him away.

‘What happened?’

Licking his lips, Remus decided the best way to tackle this was to show James the article, so he pushed his mobile across the desk. James snatched it up, and Remus watched his eyes go wide, the corners of his mouth turn down, and eventually his face melt into a mask of fury.

Slamming the mobile down, his hands flew. ‘I didn’t say any of that! Remus, I promise. I would never… she misquoted everything!’

Seeing James’ abject rage allowed even the small, lingering suspicions ease up in his belly, and he nodded. ‘I thought so, but I wasn’t sure if you…had seen it. She listed the other terp, also. That SNAPE.’

James snatched up the mobile again, scrolled, then bared his teeth. ‘I’m a witness. Hearing witness and we can get her for slander, Remus. My dad will be furious.’

Remus shook his head. ‘I don’t want to make a fuss…’

James half-rose. ‘Remus, you can’t let her print things like this. It’s damaging to the Deaf community.’

‘I know,’ Remus signed wearily. ‘But it happens so much.’

‘And it shouldn’t. That’s what my dad works so hard for,’ James’ hands insisted, his signs rough and intense. ‘Please. Please,’ he begged. ‘Talk to him. He’s coming to London for Holi and you can meet him then. Or after, if you’re busy. Let him handle this. This is what he does. You can’t let the reputation of your school be based on this audist bullshit!’

Remus felt something in his chest unknotting, carefully and easily, and he realised it was because he wasn’t alone in this. He had support. Yes, he’d done the school alone, and even with the teachers he had, it had still been him. Working, building a reputation and prestige for Deaf dancers, showing the world you didn’t have to hear the music to still love it—to appreciate it.

And it had been fine. But the idea of having someone supporting him…

‘Okay,’ he agreed, and James immediately calmed. ‘Okay. I can’t come for Holi,’ he said, thinking of Sirius—which was so inappropriate at a time like this, and he cursed himself a bit for it— “but the next day I can meet up.’

‘Come to mine,’ James said, and reached for one of Remus’ ink pens and paper. He scribbled his address down, and pushed it toward him. ‘It’ll be comfortable there, and we can go over everything. I’ll tell my dad exactly what’s happened. I swear he’ll sort this.’

Remus offered a gentle smile, then got up to shake James’ hand when he was pulled into a hug. James pressed a kiss to his forehead, fierce and protective, making Remus laugh a bit.

‘Sorry,’ James signed. ‘But I promise it’ll be okay.’

Remus nodded, and reached out, giving James’ shoulders a squeeze. ‘See you then. And…thank you.’

James shook his head. ‘Don’t thank me for fixing something wrong, Remus. You deserve it.’

Remus watched as James left and although he wasn’t sure it would ever work out with Sirius, he felt a wave of satisfaction, and even a bit of gratitude—no matter that it was borne out of something which had gone so wrong.

Chapter Text

Sirius dug his spoon into the ice cream and sighed, not looking at the clock perched on the wall. He didn’t want to know the time, not when it was mocking his inability to sleep. He had several harassing texts from both Gilderoy and his people, offering obscene amounts of money, and then later threats against his reputation if he didn’t agree to tour with him.

But Sirius belonged to no one, and had made himself a promise years ago. He didn’t care about reputation, he didn’t care about money. He cared about being with his family and feeling free.

Shuffling past the lounge, he heard soft voices and poked his head in. On the sofa were Lily and Regulus, quietly chatting, one on either side with their feet tangled together. Lily spotted Sirius and leant forward. “What is that?”

“Chocolate,” Sirius said. “With cashews.”

“March your arse over here right now,” Lily commanded. “I’m having my period and I have to keep on my crap shift schedule.”

Sirius snorted, but wandered in, plonking himself between Lily and his brother, and handed over the ice cream. Regulus shifted his feet so they rested in Sirius’ lap, and his head flopped against the cushion.

“Why can’t you sleep?”

Sirius shrugged. “This time of year always gets me. Also been bothered by Gil’s people all fucking day.”

Regulus pulled a face. “I hate that ponce. I dunno why you work with him.”

“I have to. He’s contracted with BBC One and I just fix the face of whatever twat has their arse in my chair.” He reached up, tugging the end of his plat which had got stuck under the strap of his laced cami top. Lifting his feet, he tucked them cross-legged, and reached to give Reg’s feet a massage. “What about you?”

“Keeping Lils company,” Reg said with a shrug.

Sirius looked over at Lily who was giving Regulus a fond smile. “You’re such a spoilt shit.”

“Which one of us?” Lily asked.

Sirius furrowed his brow, then shrugged. “Both of you. All of us.”

“Hmm, true,” Lily said, licking the spoon before handing it back. “And I’m feeling particularly stroppy because I haven’t seen you lot in ages and I’ve no idea what’s even going on anymore.”

“Well, Sirius is pining over some YouTuber…”

Lily’s eyes widened. “That dancer?”

Sirius felt his cheeks pink. “I’m not pining. I just…he’s nice. And I don’t fancy him.”

“You could never lie properly,” Regulus said, kicking Sirius in the thigh a bit. He grabbed the xbox controller and opened up the YouTube app on the telly.

“Don’t!” Sirius cried, but Regulus was already opening the channel which had been bookmarked.

“Oh look, he’s got a new one,” Reg pointed out, grinning at Lily who’d sat forward eagerly.

“Regulus!” Sirius begged.

Reg clicked open the video. “Whoops.”

Burying his head in the cushion, Sirius only looked up when he heard a voice talking. A voice, on Remus’ channel. The person had a thick, Deaf accent, and Sirius knew it had to be Remus. His head snapped over, and his eyes went wide at the sight of the object of his affections looking weary and world-worn. His eyes were a bit red-rimmed like he’d been crying, and the video was candid, likely taken on a mobile or laptop camera.

“I’m speaking in this video,” Remus said, his chin propped up on a curled fist, “because this is for the hearies. Captioned for my fellow Deafies because you know I love you and I want you to know when this happens to you, you have my support and love. Today I was featured in an article in a major publication. It should have been a cause for celebration. I thought I was being highlighted for my Deaf Talent. To show the world that Deaf is not disabled. That it’s powerful and beautiful and deserving. I wanted to bring to light the good we’re doing at my school, and to show that Deaf and hearing alike love my videos and actually get something out of them.

“Instead I was torn apart. I had my gender questioned—and I’ve never been anything other than proud to be a trans man. Yes, I am a man. I am a dancer, I am Deaf, I am a father, and I am trans male. And to have that presented in a way that I am just posing in my own gender was…” Remus stopped and ran a hand down his face.

Sirius felt his gut clench at the sight of fresh tears pooling in Remus’ eyes, though they didn’t fall.

“It’s late now. It’ll be midnight soon and I’m not going to edit this video. I want you to see the raw effects of when the transphobic, abelist society decides to highlight a person who has done nothing but work for their community, and lessen their efforts, making their success about what they accomplished in spite of who they are, and not because of it.

“I am a brilliant dancer, and not in spite of the fact that I’m Deaf. I am Deaf, I am a good dancer. I run a school—a successful school for other children who grew up like I did. It was stated in this article that I have rejected the cure for my deafness,” Remus turned his head, lightly touching his implant, “in order to make a statement. This was not a cure. This was surgery, a modification to my body before I was old enough to agree to it. This is a symbol that hearing parents often cannot or will not accept that it’s okay to be Deaf—that you can be successful and happy and Deaf. I reject that statement. I don’t need to hear to be who I am.

“When I arrived at the interview, I was provided an interpreter without qualifications. An interpreter who learnt their signing on the internet, who had received no certifications or proper education. One who did not speak my language.

“I was lucky enough to meet someone who could help, and even then, I was misquoted and all of my words were taken out of context to minimise my success as a Deaf man.

“I don’t exist in spite of my body. I don’t exist in spite of my Deafness. I exist as I am because of it. So I’m telling all of you out there, cis, able-bodied people—don’t. Don’t do this. Don’t ignore us, don’t silence us, don’t minimise us. We are allowed to be who we are. Happy, and talented. We are not your inspiration, or a reason to feel better about yourselves when things go wrong.” Remus took in a shaking breath and scrubbed his face, then switched to sign and this time, it had no subtitles.

‘Stay strong, stay proud. I love you all, and we won’t ever let this stop us.’

The video ended, and the playful attitude between Regulus, Lily, and Sirius was gone. Sirius blinked, then turned to Lily. “Go fetch me James’ mobile.”

Lily’s eyes widened. “What for?”

“He’s been texting with Remus, and I don’t have his number. I’m inviting him over.”

“Si…” Regulus protested weakly.

“Look at him, Reggie,” Sirius insisted. “Maybe he’s got friends or a significant other or…something. But maybe he hasn’t and it’s the least we could do. Christ.”

Lily was on her feet, and returned moments later with James’ mobile. Sirius flicked through the messages and eventually found where he’d been talking with Remus. Opening up a new message, he typed out-

Remus, it’s Sirius, from the zoo. I’ve nicked Jamie’s phone. I just saw your video and well…I’d like you to come by ours if you’re still up and don’t have Teddy. We have chocolate ice cream and probably cheesy crisps. And whatever happened, it was total shite and if you don’t want to be alone, we’d love to have you.

Sirius half expected Remus to be asleep, or even reject his initial offer, but instead there was a response two minutes later.

You sure?

More than. We’ll be waiting.

He knew Remus had the address, but he sent it again for good measure, and received a reply from Remus saying he’d be twenty minutes. When he handed the mobile back off to Lily, she was watching with a curious expression.

“You really do fancy him, don’t you?”

Sirius flushed. “I’m not inviting him over because of that, you know. I’m not trying to use this to have a letch.”

“Sirius,” Lily said in a withering tone, “I think I know you better than that by now. It’s just…he seems like an alright bloke and I’m happy. If that’s the case.”

“I don’t think he fancies me back,” Sirius said. “But it doesn’t matter. He shouldn’t be alone like that.”

And really, neither of the two could disagree.

***

When Remus finally arrived, Lily had gone to bed and Regulus hovered just long enough for Sirius to answer the door before mysteriously disappearing upstairs. Sirius wanted to throttle them both, but Remus still looked so weary and sad that he immediately took him by the hand and dragged him into the lounge where he’d set up what ice cream Lily had left them, some popcorn, and a couple crisp packets from the cupboard.

‘It’s not a lot,’ Sirius signed, making an apologetic face.

Remus laughed, running his hands back through his hair with a shrug. ‘It’s alright. I don’t even know why I came.’

Sirius shook his head, gesturing to the sofa, and they both sat. ‘Because what happened was shit,’ he offered. ‘I looked it all up online and I want to kill that bitch.’

‘James said his dad would take care of it,’ Remus replied, his signs slow and careful.

Sirius wished he could tell him to speed up to his own, comfortable level, but it had been too many years since he’d been immersed in it, and he was afraid he wouldn’t be able to keep up. ‘He will. Dad is amazing, he won’t let that bitch get away with this.’

Remus laughed a little, shaking his head. ‘I think I might delete my video. It’s so pathetic. I felt pathetic.’

Sirius frowned. ‘It wasn’t. It was beautiful. I don’t…I’m not going to understand what it’s like to be Deaf, but I know what it’s like to have your gender…MINIMISED,’ he spelt, not remembering the sign. He smiled when Remus offered it, and he copied it. ‘And sexuality. I’m DEMISEXUAL,’ he signed, his cheeks colouring with a high blush. ‘And I know what it’s like to have people look at you like you need to be fixed.’

Remus tilted his head, then sighed and nodded. ‘It doesn’t feel good.’

‘No. It’s…an ice cream sort of not good.’ Sirius reached down and offered the ice cream over. Remus chuckled, but took it with a new, clean spoon, and dug in. When he glanced up, Sirius carried on. ‘I’m glad you came over. I had a nice time at the zoo with you. And I binge-watched all of your videos. Your talent is…’ But Sirius didn’t have the words or the signs for what he was trying to say.

Remus’ cheeks went faintly pink, and he set the ice cream down. ‘Thank you. I love it. I love music, love dancing. It’s freeing, you know?’

Sirius grinned. ‘I think I do know.’ Without really thinking, he reached out, letting his thumb trace over the contours of Remus’ face, and when he realised what he was doing, he snatched his hand back. ‘Oh my god, I’m sorry. I’m…you have great lines. I…I’m sorry.’

Remus caught him by the wrist, squeezing for a second. ‘It’s okay. You want to…’ He gestured like putting makeup on his face, and shrugged.

Sirius felt his heart start to thump in his chest, and he sat up straighter. ‘Yes?’

Remus nodded. ‘Yes. You want to make a video? Collaboration? How to make yourself feel better when the world is shit?’

Sirius barked a laugh, then nodded. ‘Four AM shit world, makeup sessions.’

Remus nodded, and waved Sirius off who scrambled to get his things. He grabbed his makeup kit, then his smaller camera on the tripod and came back into the lounge. He gestured to Remus, ‘Is this okay?’ and when he got a nod, got it set up before arranging his things on the sofa cushion.

‘This is going to be good,’ Sirius signed, cocking his head to the side and grabbing Remus by the chin again. ‘You sure you don’t mind?’

‘A chance to have you put makeup on me instead of my terrible attempts to mimic your videos?’ Remus asked with a quirked brow. ‘I think I’m okay with it. And your hands feel nice.’

Sirius blushed white-hot again, wondering if it was possible to actually catch fire from his inability to control the temperature of his own blood. He coughed, looking anywhere but at Remus’ eyes until he got control of himself. ‘Maybe next I can do a video with you? We can pick a song together.’

Remus nodded and smiled carefully. ‘That would be nice.’

***

The whole night went well. Sirius did just a simple look for Remus, but they laughed a lot, Remus taking the piss a bit when Sirius got the signs wrong, and then Sirius taking the piss when he let Remus attempt to copy the look on Sirius which turned out nothing short of a disaster. But they were both grinning and pressed cheek-to-cheek when they had their sign off.

Remus mentioned something about how he ought to get home once they’d cleaned their faces up, but somehow the pair ended up lying face-to-face on the sofa, signing quietly until Remus’ eyes got heavy. Sirius followed suit, and it was how Harry found them the next morning when James sent him off to see if anyone wanted breakfast.

Remus’ eyes opened when he felt someone hovering and poking his nose, and he blinked.

‘Hi,’ Harry signed. ‘Hungry?’

Remus coughed a little, and attempted to move until he realised he had Sirius’ arm tucked tight round his middle, and Sirius’ face buried in the side of his neck. The events from the night before came crashing back, and he blinked. ‘Thank you. I’ll be up in a bit.’

‘Wake Padfoot,’ Harry said, nodding at Sirius. ‘He sleeps too long.’

Remus snorted a quiet laugh, and watched the boy run off before he settled back down and turned his head just slightly, to get a glimpse of Sirius’ profile. Even in sleep, he was gorgeous. His brows were furrowed, hair coming loose from the plait and sticking up round his ear. His feet were poking out of the silk pyjama bottoms, toes polished a soft purple which matched, and they were tucked over Remus’ calf.

He felt comfortable. More comfortable than he had in years, and he didn’t want to move. But last night had been a fluke. He was emotional and Sirius was clearly feeling sorry for him. It was nothing more than that. Although the possessive way Sirius held him, and all the blushing whenever Sirius would touch him…

He didn’t want to get his hopes up.

Carefully reaching out, Remus tucked a bit of stray hair behind Sirius’ ear, then gave him a gentle shake. He could feel the vibrations of murmurs against his shoulder, and he shook harder until Sirius’ head popped up a bit, his eyes bleary and unfocused.

As he blinked, the grey eyes gently focusing on his, his cheeks coloured with more blush, and he swallowed. Then his head cocked to the side and Sirius mouthed, ‘Hi.’

Remus laughed and mouthed, ‘Hi yourself.’

Biting on his lip, Sirius carefully pulled his arm out from Remus’ waist, but didn’t move far. ‘Sleep okay? What time is it?’

Remus shrugged. ‘I slept fine, but no idea. I didn’t meant to…this. I’m sorry.’ Sirius’ expression fell so fast, it made Remus’ heart pound and he lifted his hands. ‘No it was nice. This was nice. I just…wasn’t sure you wanted…’

‘I’m showing my arse, aren’t I?’ Sirius asked.

Remus blinked. ‘What?’

Sirius huffed, then scrubbed the sleep from his eyes before he signed, ‘I fancy you and I’m being obvious and probably making you very uncomfortable.’

Remus blinked in surprise. ‘You…? Me? Me?’

Sirius’ mouth twitched. ‘Yes, you. Why, was I actually being subtle for once?’

Remus couldn’t help the laugh escaping him, and he reached out, cupping Sirius’ cheek for just a moment. ‘Maybe not. Maybe I’m just oblivious.’

Sirius’ blush deepened, and instead of answering, he hid his face in Remus’ neck, only coming out when Remus began to rub his back gently. He blinked, then said, ‘Now you know.’

Remus nodded. ‘Now I do.’ Then he licked his lips and signed, ‘It’s okay. I fancy you back.’

Sirius lit up with surprise. ‘Really?’

Remus laughed, nodding, then stretched back and turned his head. It was then he caught a glimpse of the time and realised that in spite of everything that happened, and the sudden realisation that this person he’d been pining for, for ages, fancied him back, he still had obligations. Like work. Like a class to teach. In ten minutes.

Scrambling up, Remus quickly ran his fingers through his hair and looked round panicked. ‘I have a class. I have to run. Can we talk about this later?’

Sirius was up, bypassing James and Harry in the kitchen to get Remus to the front door. ‘Yes. Please, please later? Are you coming to HOLI?’

Remus started to shake his head, then realised that he actually could now. If…if this was all real. If this actually meant what he hoped. ‘I think so.’

Sirius brightened, and he reached out, taking Remus’ arm and pulled him in for a hug, burying his face in Remus’ neck once more. When he pulled away, he licked his lips, then smiled. ‘Text you later, yeah?’

Remus nodded, his head spinning with the suddenness of it all, but his hand came up and cupped Sirius’ cheek before he backed away, nearly falling down the steps of the front stoop. He laughed before righting himself, and left for the day with the memory of Sirius’ delighted smile at the forefront of his mind.

Chapter Text

Nym’s hands were stuttering to the point Remus couldn’t understand her, and he had to reach out, grabbing her shoulder until she stopped. Her eyes, wide and on his, twitched at the corners.

‘Face paint,’ she signed. ‘Cancelled.’

Remus blinked. ‘What?’

Her hands flew then, explaining that the face-painter she’d booked for the Purim party at the synagogue had gone into labour, meaning that there was no one, and it had been advertised that children could have their faces done up to match their costumes before the costume contest.

‘What am I going to do?’ Nym’s fingers begged. ‘Have you learnt enough from those videos?’

Remus blinked, then it occurred to him that whilst no, he had not learnt enough from Sirius’ videos, he actually knew the man in question. And they’d got…friendly. Or…whatever it was. He’d gone over there and had slightly melty ice cream and cuddles and well…

Remus raised up his hand for Nym to wait, then pulled out his mobile. Sirius, I have a favour to ask, and it’s a huge imposition.

Only a moment passed before he got a return text. One night of cuddles and already it starts. I’m only joking. What can I help with?

How would you, a celebrity makeup artist, feel about spending a few hours at a synagogue painting the faces of small children?

***

Sirius shuffled his feet on the pavement just outside the synagogue. His eyes strayed to a massive, bronzed statue of a menorah which was lighting up gently as the evening sky darkened. He could hear children squealing off somewhere, little footsteps pounding off pavement, and he wondered a bit what he was doing here.

He liked Remus. Even as he’d rushed off without even discussing what had happened the night before—and the fact that Remus had taken offered comfort without wanting more had thrown him, in the best way. So Sirius wanted to help. No, he more than wanted to help.

He was equipped with several totes full of makeup items, hair items, glitter, and other things he’d used to dress Harry’s face up. Now he was stood outside the synagogue waiting for Remus, who had texted saying he’d be right there.

Five minutes passed, and finally a side-door on the building swung open, and Remus appeared. He was wearing smarter clothes, trousers and a button-up shirt, and when he turned, Sirius caught a glimpse of his kippah pinned to the back of his head over his curls. A small smile twitched at the corners of his mouth as he nodded his hello, Remus hurrying over.

‘Hi,’ he signed quickly.

Sirius held up his hands, laden with the totes, showing he couldn’t sign. He nodded for Remus to lead the way though, and although it was a bit awkward between them, he followed Remus inside, down a dimly lit corridor, into a wide open space laden with what looked like a stage, several children mucking about, and several tables.

Remus nodded toward one in particular which had a small, scribbled sign saying Face Paint stuck to the front, and two chairs.

‘I don’t know how to thank you,’ Remus signed quickly as Sirius divested himself of the makeup supplies.

Waving him off, Sirius grinned. ‘I’m happy to help.’

‘I would tell the children they’re getting their faces done up by a famous YouTuber and BBC One makeup artist, but I don’t think they’d much care.’

Sirius snickered a little and shrugged. ‘Tell them I’m responsible for making THE DOCTOR look as good as he does. That’ll impress them.’

Remus’ eyes widened. ‘Really?’

Sirius openly laughed. ‘No, but it’s not like they’ll know the difference.’

Rolling his eyes, Remus nudged Sirius with his shoulder, and stayed in close for a long moment. Their gazes locked, and it wasn’t until a woman with flashy reddish-pink hair wearing a flower crown approached, that they startled back into themselves.

The woman tapped her foot, eyebrow raised until Remus flushed. ‘This is my ex, NYM. Teddy’s mum. Nym,’ he signed, using her sign-name, ‘this is SIRIUS.’

Nym stuck out her hand. “Heard loads about you,” she said.

Sirius frowned at her lack of signing, but when he turned to Remus, he saw the other man had wandered off to a corner where Teddy was playing with a few of the other lads. Looking back at Nym, he smiled. “I hope good things.”

“Oh you know Remus.”

“Actually I rather don’t,” Sirius admitted. “I mean, a bit. Obviously. Shit, I sound so awkward. And I’ve just said shit in your holy place. Twice.”

Nym giggled and squeezed his shoulder. “No worries. Half the time during Shabbat services I’m on my mobile doing…well things I shouldn’t be. Don’t much thing G-d cares though, if you ask me.”

“Well I live in a Hindu house,” Sirius said with a shrug. “And my parents were Thai Buddhist so…” He grinned and shrugged.

Nym’s smile got wider. “Brilliant. Well I’ve seen your work and I think the kids are in for a real treat. Celebrity makeup and all that. It’s all Ted’s talked about when his dad told him. He er…he brought you something as well.”

Just then, Teddy came tearing up with a grin, and a flower crown clutched in his fist that had several purple and blue ribbons coming off the sides. He threw his arms round Sirius’ legs as Remus approached, wearing a slightly sheepish grin.

‘Teddy made that for you,’ he signed.

Just then Teddy looked up and shoved it up at Sirius. ‘I have one too!’ the boy signed excitedly. ‘I can wear it later with my costume.’

Sirius glanced down to see the boy sporting a blue kippah with superman on it. ‘Cool,’ he said, and pointed.

Teddy grinned. ‘Mummy bought it online.’

Nym shrugged. ‘He’s got a BATMAN one at home.’

Sirius laughed, then looked over at Remus who was smiling gently, and Sirius took the opportunity to fasten the crown round his head. He glanced down at Teddy who was beaming. ‘Pretty?’

“YEAH!” Teddy shouted, hugging his legs again. ‘I’m going to be a ladybird. Can you paint me ladybird?’

‘Yes, I can,’ Sirius quickly signed back.

Teddy let out another whoop, then rushed off, dragging his mum along which left Remus and Sirius stood together again.

‘He’s excited,’ Remus signed apologetically. ‘Sorry.’

Sirius shook his head. ‘It’s cute. Hari’s the same. He wanted to come, but he’s got to get up early tomorrow to help his dad with stuff for Holi. Fleamont has a booth at the festival there for the Deaf Event, and hoping to raise awareness for the school.’

Remus smiled. ‘I can’t wait to see it.’

Just then Sirius realised they’d attracted some children, and he flushed. ‘I should set up.’ Remus wandered off, letting Sirius tend to his table, and he was nearly done when a kid tugged on his shirt, and he turned.

“Mister, are you deaf like Teddy?”

Sirius shook his head. “No, I’m not. I just know sign language.”

The kid’s eyebrows raised. “Oh good.”

Sirius felt something in his chest constrict a bit. “Well you know, sign language isn’t scary. And neither is being Deaf.”

With a scowl, the kid shrugged. “Yeah well it’s weird, and Teddy’s weird. He can talk but he sounds funny and never wants to and…”

“You know,” Sirius said, trying to reign in his anger at the child, “accents aren’t funny. They’re just different. Like people from other countries.”

“Whatever,” the kid sighed, then ambled off.

Rubbing a hand down his face, Sirius sincerely hoped that child would not be returning to have his face done up.

***

All in all, the night went well. Sirius let Teddy be the first in the queue to have his face done, and he did a ladybird theme on his eyes with some strategic spots, and flashy glitter. Teddy had put on a red with black spotted tutu over a pair of leggings, and had a flower crown with two antennae.

Other kids came to have things like Batman, Spiderman, Hulk, and other superheros. He did loads of Elsa themed—luckily he’d done enough of that with Hari for all his Frozen obsession which thankfully only lasted a few months—and a handful of butterflies and faeries.

By the end of the night, his hand ached, and he was tired, but the costume contest was going on at that point and it was too cute. They were on the toddler portion now, and Sirius grinned from behind his table as he watched the smaller ones parade round the stage.

He startled when someone took his makeup chair, and his face softened into a smile when he saw it was Remus.

‘I like your holiday,’ Sirius said. ‘Costume contests and sweets and pizza?’

Remus chuckled. ‘They’re not all like this, you know. But this is a favourite of mine.’ He glanced at the table, then looked back at Sirius. ‘Got time for one more?’

Sirius felt his heart thumping, and his fingers had just the faintest tremble as he pinched Remus’ chin and turned his face gently from left to right. ‘What do you fancy?’

Remus shrugged. ‘Be creative.’

Sirius didn’t miss the slightly trembling breath Remus let out when he grazed Remus’ jawline with his thumb. Reaching for a brush, he dusted Remus’ eyelids with a bit of gold, then took his thin brush and dipped it into a blue liquid eyeshadow. Tracing along the side of his face, he painted a series of flowers, adding a dusting of green for the leaves, then just a sprinkle of glitter to match Teddy’s

When he was done, he sat back and showed the mirror to Remus who blinked, then grinned. ‘Beautiful.’

Sirius shrugged. ‘Thank you.’

They stared a moment, then Remus carefully raised his hands. ‘I used to be afraid of makeup. Like it would…it would take away from my gender, you know? It frightened me. Then I had Teddy and he loves wearing it, and loves when we do matching looks going out. And I realised nothing can take away who I am. And your work is amazing.’

Sirius reached out again, brushing the backs of his knuckles along Remus’ naked cheek. When he pulled away, he signed, ‘You are amazing. And gorgeous. Thank you for having me here.’

Remus didn’t say anything else, just turned his attention back to the contest, but he did shift closer—so close their thighs pressed together. Sirius felt something zinging up and down his spine, and when Remus’ hand carefully sought out his own, he didn’t pull away.

***

After everything, the reading began and Remus went with his gut, inviting Sirius along. ‘I’ve got a terp, if you want to join me.’

Sirius hesitated. ‘I don’t know if it would be appropriate since I’m not…’

Remus shook his head. ‘The reading is for everyone. That’s what we believe. And I’d like it if you came with me.’

Sirius licked his lips, then nodded and let Remus take him by the hand. They found seats on the far left, and there was a woman in her mid-fifties with greying brown hair, wearing a big smile. Remus recognised her, her signing wasn’t the best, but it certainly wasn’t nearly as bad as the bloke from the Prophet had been.

Remus had a hard time concentrating though. He glanced back a few times at Nym who was sat in the back with Teddy who had now dropped off against her shoulder, and he got a wink in response. Blushing, he glanced back at the terp and tried to concentrate on the words. Of course he’d been to more readings of Esther than he could count, so he didn’t need to see the signs to know. And the feeling of Sirius next to him, their pinkies linked together on the bench between them…he swore he could just stay that way forever.

The night had been…more than he expected. He felt momentary fear. What was he doing? Would Sirius really want to be with him? So many times he’d attempted to make something work, only to have it blow up in his face. Over his Deafness, over his gender, over the fact that he was a parent. Or his work schedule being gruelling.

Sirius, however, seemed to have a deep, communal understanding of all those things. He grew up with Deaf adopted parents, he himself was part of the trans community as a demi-male and though they hadn’t talked about it, Remus knew Sirius likely had experienced the feeling of dysphoria and not belonging. He also had a demanding job, a public job that required a lot of him. And he loved his godson as though it were his own child. And, if Remus wasn’t reading into things, he rather liked Teddy.

It seemed too good to be true, but he was resolved right then to at least try.

When it was over, it was a bit late. Nym took Teddy home for the night so Remus could attend Holi—his meeting with Fleamont the next day, along with meeting Dakshi and Dori to go over the choreography. Remus waited in the corridor for Sirius to gather his things, and together they walked to the car park.

Sirius pointed at a bike, chrome and shiny, his face lit up and proud. ‘That’s me.’

Remus walked over, running his hand along the slick, leather seat. ‘Beautiful. You’ve had it a long time?’

Sirius nodded. ‘Ages. It was a gift from James’ dad. I’d love to take you for a ride sometime. If you’re keen.’

Remus felt flushed again, and nodded. ‘That would be great. I was actually wondering if maybe…we could go on a date.’ His fingers fumbled through the words, and he had to force himself to look Sirius in the face.

He saw no hesitation though, no reluctance. Just a gentle smile lighting him up. ‘I would love that. We can talk about it tomorrow, yeah? You’re still coming?’

Remus nodded. ‘Tell James I’ll be there. Maybe…you could pick me up.’

Sirius, if possible, smiled wider and reached out, drawing Remus closer. ‘I would like that. I can’t wait.’

Remus didn’t to cross any boundaries, knowing Sirius’ sexuality, it was important that Sirius made the first move. So instead he cupped his cheek and stroked it with his thumb, then pulled him in for a hug. “Goodnight,” he whispered.

Sirius pulled back, looking a little startled, but the smiled hadn’t left his face. ‘Night, Remus. I’ll see you tomorrow. And thank you.’

Remus didn’t move as he watched Sirius get on the bike and start it up. He felt the rumble in his feet, riding up his legs, and into his belly. It got more intense as Sirius revved the engine, and then he was gone, and the feeling went with it.

As Sirius disappeared into the distance, Remus let his eyes close, and he allowed himself to bask in what could be something good. Something very good, indeed.

Chapter Text

Harry’s asking if Teddy will come along. Any chance?

It was a long-shot, and he was surprised to see Nym agreeable. She sent a text saying she’d drop Teddy off at the Potters’ and asked for the address, which, after confirming with James it was alright, he gave. He wasn’t entirely sure what to wear, Sirius had said, ‘Shirt and jeans, something you won’t mind getting wet and full of colours. I’ll be by to pick you up shortly.’

Remus went with a plain, white t-shirt and jeans, as everything else he owned he either couldn’t afford to have destroyed, or the sayings he thought might be a bit rude for a festival like Holi. He threw a beanie over his curls, leaving his processor off to avoid any damage, then headed down to the kerb to wait.

He felt the motorbike before he saw it, the rumble in the air, then Sirius came round the corner and rolled to a halt. Remus took him in, wide eyes, desire pooling in his belly to just touch him, to be close to him. His hair looked like it had been oiled, and twisted into an elaborate plait with a few gold threads woven into the braid. He was wearing black leggings, with a mid-thigh length, blue kurta with gold embroidery on the collar and sleeves.

His make-up was precise, a rainbow of colour on his lids, bright red across his mouth, the contour so sharp Remus actually held his breath for a moment as he looked at him. He felt suddenly under-dressed, shabby in a way, but the way Sirius looked at him, his entire face lighting up, the feeling was quickly banished.

‘Good morning,’ Sirius signed.

Remus grinned as he stepped up, shuffling is feet a bit awkwardly. ‘Teddy’s going to meet us at yours.’

‘Excellent. Hari will be so happy. He hasn’t stopped talking about him since the zoo.’

Remus chuckled, as his kid had been doing the same. It wasn’t often Teddy got to meet kids round his own age who signed fluently, who had been exposed to Deaf culture and was comfortable in it. By this young age, Teddy was already tired of explaining how his hearing aids worked, or of interpreting for his dad when hearing people found writing to be just too much of an inconvenience to them.

Remus hated it, both for himself and for his child, so having Harry in their lives was a blessing. Especially if he was really going to make something work with Sirius. If, he realised, Sirius really wanted it.

Sirius motioned for him to get on the bike, so Remus carefully swung his leg over, grabbing onto Sirius’ middle a bit tighter than he needed to, but he was nervous. He could feel Sirius laughing a little, but it was drowned out by the vibrations as Sirius kicked the bike on, and soon enough they were soaring down the streets.

Remus let out a small laugh, and felt Sirius push back against him just a bit as they took a corner, and before long, they were rolling up to Sirius’. He switched off the engine, then offered Remus a hand out to slide off before following, and he tucked his keys into his pocket with a grin.

‘Alright?’

Remus nodded, unable to stop his grin. ‘Fun. I can see why you like it.’

Sirius glanced back at the bike, then at Remus. ‘Even more fun when you’re with someone you like.’

Remus swallowed thickly, and when Sirius took his hand, he gave the long fingers a squeeze and let Sirius pull him inside, and into the lifts. He was nervous all over again, not just for the holiday, but to meet James’ dad, and to be introduced to something so unfamiliar.

Sirius seemed excited about it, however, and it was infectious. Remus felt himself go a little giddy, almost, as they approached the door and Sirius flung it open. Inside, Remus could feel the beat of music, not up too loud as Harry was sat in the lounge colouring in a thick book and seemed unbothered.

He immediately caught a glimpse of James who was rushing from one room to the other, then Lily who was, surprisingly, wearing hospital scrubs.

‘Sorry,’ she signed quickly to Remus who lifted a brow. ‘Work. They let me have off last year.’

Remus pulled an apologetic face. ‘Long day?’

‘Twenty-four hour, A&E shift,’ she signed with a small pout. She leant up, pressing a kiss to Sirius’ forehead, then rushed over to Harry who looked up and threw his arms round his mum.

A moment later, Regulus came in, wearing a yellow kurta and dark jeans, and he gave Lily his own kiss before she grabbed her keys and was out the door. Regulus offered a short wave to Sirius before trudging toward the kitchen, and Sirius rolled his eyes.

‘Not a morning person.’

‘Unlike you?’ Remus asked.

Sirius waggled his brows. ‘I’m an all the time sort of person.’

Remus laughed, shaking his head. ‘Why am I not surprised. Your makeup looks very beautiful, by the way.’

Sirius bit down on his lower lip, then reached out, brushing his knuckles down Remus’ cheek. ‘Thank you,’ he signed after pulling away. ‘Your everything looks beautiful.’

Remus felt his face erupt into a hot blush, and he was saved by his phone buzzing in his pocket. Pulling it out, he saw it was a text from Nym, letting him know she was there with Ted.

Sirius waved his hand. ‘Tell her to come up.’

Remus sent off the text as Sirius announced to Harry that his friend had arrived, and Harry quickly threw his book down, bouncing round until Sirius opened the door to let in Remus’ ex and son. Teddy looked a bit shy, but grinned when he saw Harry, and let the younger boy drag him off immediately to his bedroom.

Nym rolled her eyes. ‘He’s been on about it all morning since your text.’

Sirius grinned, looking a bit shy—and Remus didn’t blame him really, she was the ex and she was quite bold even on her more calm days. ‘Do you want to come to the festival?’ he signed, then Remus saw his mouth moving as he asked aloud.

Running her hand through her short hair, she looked at Remus, then smiled softly and shook her head. ‘Not this year, but maybe next?’

Sirius shrugged. ‘Standing invite, okay?’

She gave a quick salute to him, then pulled Remus in to kiss his cheek and said she’d text later. A moment later, she was gone, and Remus and Sirius were alone again, standing in the lounge.

‘I was wondering if Teddy could be in a video for Holi,’ Sirius asked after a few moments. ‘Hari wants his makeup done and I was thinking they could match?’

Remus grinned. ‘He would love that.’

***

Remus eventually wandered off with James, and Sirius quickly set up his camera and got the boys on the sofa. It was a mixture of speech and sign between the pair, and they were overly demanding about looking, exactly the same, Padfoot,. Sirius’ videos featuring Hari were always rather popular, so he had a feeling this would go over well.

“So,” Sirius said as he finished the last brush-stroke on Hari’s eyes, “now we’re prepped for Holi.’ He beckoned them both to show their eyes, and then they all three signed a quick goodbye before Sirius ended the video and sent it to the queue for editing.

“Padfoot,” Teddy said, tugging on Sirius’ shirt. Sirius looked up, a bit surprised Teddy was voicing since he tended to only sign when Remus was there. “Do you like my dad?”

Sirius blinked, startled, and then he laughed and signed, ‘Yes I do. Very much.’

Teddy beamed. “Okay because I like you too and if you want to come round more, I think that would be really good. And he just talks about you like…all the time. All the time.”

Sirius found himself blushing. “Yeah?”

Teddy nodded sagely. “Yeah. Like…super all the time. So…I’m alright with it.”

Sirius barked another laugh and ruffled the boy’s curls. “Thanks, kid. I’ll see what I can do.”

After that, Hari dragged Teddy off to see if he had a matching kurta he could borrow, and Sirius stood up, clearing away his mess before he found James and Remus in the kitchen with Regulus having tea. James was showing something on Fleamont’s website, his chin resting on Regulus’ shoulder as he signed sloppily with one hand about the upcoming event.

Remus turned when Sirius entered, and he gave him a wide grin. ‘Video good?’

‘Boys were very well behaved. Good job on Teddy. He told me you talk about me all the time.’

Remus’ eyes went wide, and his gaze snapped over to Regulus and James who were smirking, then back to Sirius. ‘I don’t know what to say.’

James waved his hand at Remus to get his attention, then shook his head. ‘That’s alright, it can’t compare to Sirius’ non-stop chatter about you.’

‘Thank you,’ Sirius signed widely, his face pink in spite of all the makeup he had on. ‘Thank you very much for that.’

James shrugged, then turned Regulus’ face to kiss him gently before straightening up. ‘It’s time to go. If we don’t hurry, all the good colours will be gone.’

Regulus followed him out, and Remus turned back to Sirius. ‘Is there anything I need to know about this? Rituals or prayer or…?’

Sirius shook his head, then reached out to pull Remus closer. ‘No. Just know you’re going to run a lot, be doused in a rainbow shower of powdered colours, and eat amazing food. And I’m excited to do this with you.’

Remus swallowed thickly, then reached up and touched Sirius’ face. ‘Me too.’

***

Holi was…an experience. Remus was completely unprepared for several things—namely being a target because no one had warned him about wearing white. People he didn’t know, people he’d never seen before in his life delighted in showering him.

Sirius had been right about the running, and laughing. The boys ran off on their own to play with the kids, and Remus didn’t get even a small chance to look round before the madness began. It wasn’t long before Remus barely recognised himself or Sirius, hands clenched together, and they got into the action as well.

It carried on for what felt like an eternity until Sirius dragged him over to a massive rain barrel to wash their faces up, and he grinned as Sirius’ soft hands brushed curls out of his face, and powder from his cheeks.

‘Alright? Not too overwhelming?’

Remus laughed, shaking his head. ‘This is amazing. It’s so bright and…it’s wonderful. I love it.’

Sirius grinned. ‘Well Fleamont’s waiting for you. He’s got an event tent near the food and you can have a sit-down with him.’

Remus nodded, and let Sirius drag him by the hand toward the massive array of tents. There was music somewhere, Remus could feel it in the soles of his feet, but he couldn’t see where it was coming from. People in this area had food and drink, and it wasn’t long before they saw the small tent Fleamont had set up.

James was there, interpreting for his dad, looking like a wash of rainbow himself, but he was grinning and going between speech and sign for the small queue of people there taking pamphlets of information.

‘I’m going to get some food and a drink. Can I bring you something?’ Sirius asked.

Remus nodded. ‘Anything, thanks. Which one is James’ dad?’ As he asked, however, he saw him. James was the spit of Fleamont, down to the wild hair, glasses, and matching kurta. Only the smattering of grey in Fleamont’s hair showed his age, and the crinkles next to his eyes.

He immediately caught Remus’ gaze and beckoned him over, and Remus found his feet moving faster than he expected them to. Fleamont’s signs were wide, enthusiastic just like James’, and he immediately pulled him in for a hug.

‘I have been looking forward to meeting you all day,’ he signed, ushering Remus to a seat. ‘I’ve had that rubbish interview pulled from the Prophet, and we’re going to redo one today, focusing on your work on the Deaf Event for India, and your school.’

Remus, who was taken aback by everything, blinked, then grinned as he looked up at James who gave him a quick wink. ‘That’s wonderful, thank you.’

‘And after,’ Fleamont signed, leaning in slightly, ‘you tell me all about how you’ve woo’d my second son.’

Remus flushed, feeling lucky most of it was hidden by the colours on his cheeks, but he couldn’t help his grin. ‘Yeah. I think I can do that.’

***

Sirius stood back and watched Remus with Fleamont for a while, seeing Remus’ nerves fade into excitement as he got to talking about his job, his school, his kid. When he felt safe that Remus wasn’t overwhelmed, he wandered off for a lassi, and found Regulus queued up for one himself.

He slid next to him, elbowing his brother who had washed his face, but had a plethora of blues, yellows, and purples clinging to his hair. “How’s your Holi this year?”

“Same as every year,” Regulus said, trying to sound aloof, but was betrayed by his grin. “Rubbish that Lily’s working.”

“Eh. She loves her job, and James has a plan to get her when she walks through the door. Hari’s in on it.”

Regulus rolled his eyes, but snickered. “I’m sure she’s got a revenge plan already going.” They moved up one, then Regulus stared at him. “So you and Remus.”

Sirius bit down on his lip to try and hide his own smile, but failed. “Yeah I…I think so. I fancy him.”

“Wow, Sirius,” Regulus deadpanned. “I would have had no idea if you hadn’t said that just now.”

“Oh fuck off,” Sirius replied with a snort. “But honestly I think…I think there’s something there. Between both of us.”

“You mean between the man who looks at you like the sun shines out your arse, and his kid who thinks you’re the coolest thing that’s ever existed—which clearly shows a lack of decent parenting.”

Sirius’ jaw tensed. “Must you always be so mean?”

“Only to those I love so much,” Regulus said loftily, and smirked a bit when Sirius grinned. “I’m happy for you. I like him. We all do.”

Sirius felt something unknot in his gut as they reached the window, and he grabbed two mango lassis for himself and Remus. Regulus got his own, then they started back for the tent slowly. “It’s been a long time since I’ve had feelings for anyone, you know? I’m a little…” Sirius stopped, glancing over to find Remus, Fleamont, and James chatting happily away. Fleamont had Teddy on the table, and was signing what looked like a song—though Sirius was at the wrong angle to see it properly, and Remus was laughing and doing some short dance moves.

He felt a rushing in his body, through his limbs, and it took him a moment to realise what it was. And oh…

Oh.

He found he was moving toward the tent without meaning to, and he came up next to Remus, first pressing the cup into his hand, and then brushing an errant, blue curl off his forehead. Remus gave him a blinding smile, content and happy and so warm, and Sirius felt that rushing again.

And the desire to cling on and never let go.

‘I want to show you something,’ Sirius signed, and reached down for Remus’ hand. He didn’t care right then if Fleamont still needed him, or if James wanted something, or if Regulus had more to say. Right then he wanted to make his intentions clear, because he wanted Remus.

All of him.

Exactly like this.

They walked through a group of people, and came round a corner to several rain barrels, and several tables of powder. He drew Remus over, and hovered his hand over each small pot. ‘When I was little,’ he signed, ‘and James first brought me to Holi, I was overwhelmed. My house had always been so dim, so unloving. I’d never been hugged or kissed. I didn’t understand the concept of unconditional love like the Potters had.’

Remus’ face fell a bit, and he squeezed Sirius’ wrist before he carried on.

‘I started to associate colours with things. Fleamont was blue. So bright and warm, and shining. Effie was red, because she was fierce and loyal. James, purple. Loyal and forever. Reggie was green, mostly because I envied him when he found love with James and Lily. Lily is indigo, for her warmth. And Hari was pink, because he was new.’ Sirius took a pinch of each of the colours, and sprinkled them onto Remus’ hair like snow, and Remus lit up, bright and happy, laughing deep in his chest.

‘You,’ Remus said, reaching over to the table, and he dipped his hand in each one. ‘Are all of these colours.’ He wriggled his fingers and let the rainbow shower over Sirius’ hair. Cocking his head to the side, he blinked. ‘What am I?’

Sirius smiled gently, then curved his fingers toward his temple and shook them. ‘Yellow.’

Remus grinned, but before he could sign anything, Sirius took a handful of the powder, and doused him in it, straight in the face. Remus let out a surprised cry, then a laugh as he blinked it away, shaking his head. He reached out, curving his fingers into Sirius’ kurta and yanked him close.

“Sirius,” he whispered. “Kiss me?”

Sirius reached up with both hands, swiping the yellow away before he dipped his head in. He hesitated, asking for permission, and Remus nodded carefully before closing the distance. It was powdery and gritty and soft and warm and the most wonderful kiss Sirius had ever had in his life. His head was spinning and his heart was soaring, and he was half-convinced he was flying as Remus held him so tight.

Never in his life had it ever felt this right. Never had he felt this safe.

Just as he pulled back, they were suddenly pelted with more colour, and there was a sharp giggle as the pair looked over to see Teddy and Hari there holding fistfuls of the powder. The pair looked at each other, then at the table, and with a cry, they went after the boys.

As their feet hit the pavement and they went chasing, Sirius realised then—right then—he was exactly where he was meant to be.