Categories > Books > Harry Potter


by aWICKEDgiraffe 1 review

MWPP AU It's the last day at their boarding school; Sirius is having a hard time coping with the sudden onslaught emotions that this event brings about. SiriusXRemus

Category: Harry Potter - Rating: PG - Genres: Angst,Romance - Characters: James,Lupin,Peter,Sirius - Warnings: [?] - Published: 2009-05-13 - Updated: 2009-05-14 - 5169 words - Complete

It was all coming to an end. All those years of that clandestine tree house, of voices calling out in unison and an indissoluble brotherhood, all drawing to a close swiftly and steadfastly, as constant and inevitable as the drifting tides. Nothing left to do but ride out the last wave, clutching grasping groping, desperately searching for driftwood to cling to in the whirlpools of closure and finality, something to make the adventure seem worthwhile, something to pluck from the waters of their childhoods to bring with them on the oceans of their adulthoods. Would it be the days of war, the nights of magic? The pirate ships, the kings’ castles, the wizards’ lairs or the wolves’ dens? Or maybe they would choose the blood and the tears and the sweat that had spilled from their pores and down their skins to penetrate the earth and create the life around them, building up and up and up until the very essence of the place was essentially theirs and theirs alone. Would it be the rivalries and friendships, the puberties and sex drives? The First Girlfriends and the love-at-first-sights and the hatreds and confrontations, the broken bones and sleepovers and late-night study sessions? Which would they choose; which memory from which epoch of their lives would they carry with them in their pockets? Which remembrance would find everlasting life in the minds of they who would leave this place?

Churning spinning plunging, the wooden lifesaver is found and they adhere to it, saved at last from the vortex of their future. The adventure is complete, the memory immortalized—and even in the throes of old age and death this pocket-watch with the stilled second hand will be with them, memorabilia from a time when their lives had consisted of sports and girls and masochism and sovereignty and that was it. A simpler time, a happier time. But what was it?

Perhaps it was they themselves.

The sun had hidden her face behind the regal mountain peaks of the Cumbrians and all that was left was her golden hair, spilling over the faces of the hills and onto the countryside beneath her, strands falling even on the leaves of their willow tree and giving it an unnatural hue of bullion gold. It was the latter part of evening and they all knew that the return journey should hence be attempted, should they have any hopes of returning before the street lamps flickered on and their absences noted by those of higher authority than themselves.

And yet they lingered, side-by-side, gazing off unto the hills until the curling locks of Madame Soleil agitated the irises enough for tears to well up and boyish hands to swipe and flick them away. It was not because of goodbyes, no, for they had some dignity left over from their early days. There weren’t any goodbyes, for they would defeat the entire purpose of their lingering and their denial would be dissolved into an ever-darkening world of truth that none wanted to step foot into; a nightmare of eternal nighttime that was becoming more real than they had ever imagined it could be. It was creeping closer and closer to them with every ray of sunshine that disappeared behind those blue facades off in the distance, so they had to keep watching, postures erect, eyes keen and attention focused so that it wouldn’t surprise them. It couldn’t come behind their backs and rear its ugly head unexpectedly because they were watching waiting listening; eyes silent; ears silent; mouths silent.

The one to at last loosen the binds on his tongue and break the silence was the one most likely to do so, though the weight of the atmosphere acted as a muffler on his vocal-box, dimming the timbre of his voice to a whispered breathiness that his companions could nevertheless hear, over the silence of their own voices.

“We should go.”

It was a bold move, like the sudden cracking of a rifle through still air, and none of the others were brave enough to follow the fire. A tawny head swiveled on a pale neck, and ocher eyes slid over the forms beside him; pleadingly, apprehensively, expectantly. Not one of them dared to even return his glance—their eyes remained rigidly ahead, staring off into the distance as if the four horses of Armageddon would rear and gallop through the bloodied sky before them bearing their deaths. A bit over-dramatic, thought the tawny-hair, and much more gloomy than it had to be. So he again looked over at his comrades, leaning out a bit farther to make himself visible to all, and beseeched them to leave the place and return to the boarding school.

This time, there was movement—the body beside him flinched, and tousled raven hair shook about a tanned face as a harsh mouth pronounced loudly, “Not yet! Not yet, Moony …”

The one called Moony settled back into his normal posture, a frown tugging at pale lips. Young eyes wizened by too many rushed years glanced up at the receding tides of daylight, and then back over the countryside with a muffled, tired noise. He opened his mouth to prepare a dry, biting comment for his uptight friend, but another figure on the opposite side of the platform spoke first.

“Come on, Padfoot. Moony’s right. Wandering about the “forbidden” forest after dark, running into trees, trousers hanging about our knees … doesn’t exactly sound like a good send-off, does it?” Long, powerful legs built for athletics swung around the corner of the wooden platform and up onto it, pushing an equally elongated body into a kneeling position. One last sidelong glance at his friends: “Let’s shove off, eh?”

Moony returned the glance whole-heartedly, his face falling in relief. “Yes, let’s—“

“I said not yet!!”

The loud, barking voice resounded about the forest like the rumbling of thunder as Padfoot shot up, grabbing his athlete-friend by the arm to halt him roughly. Moony and the other, Wormtail as known by his friends, started in surprise.


“Sirius let go of him! You’re acting positively bestial! Calm down, for heaven’s sake!” Moony’s level-headedness unfortunately got him nowhere with his hysterical friend, and before any of the four could realize what was going on, Sirius had spun on his heels and raked a hand over Moony’s cheek in a harsh slap.

Even as his own hand was following through, Padfoot’s dark eyes widened in surprise at his action. Moony’s head snapped to the side, cheek already being stained a deep red, and there were collective gasps from the rest of the party. The athlete, now freed from Padfoot’s tight grip, stumbled backwards (nearly off the platform) in shock.

And then the stillness settled back over the group—Moony continued looking dazedly off to the side, one hand clutching his rosy cheek and Padfoot was frozen in shock, back hunched at the shoulders and hand still outstretched. Wormtail and the other, Prongs as he was called, remained apprehensively watchful, deciding wisely not to get in-between the two just yet.

Slowly, never taking his apologetic eyes off Moony’s profile, Padfoot retracted his hand. “Remus, I …”

Without turning his head back to Sirius, Remus let go of his cheek and spun around abruptly, heading for the open doorway of the tree house. Sirius swallowed, suddenly panicking.

“Moony! Hey, wait! Remus, just wait a goddamn minute! Remus!”

But Remus had gone, retreating into the sanctuary of the tree house. Padfoot took a hesitant step forward, in an attempt to follow—but Prongs held out his previously captive arm, barring his friend’s way.

“I wouldn’t if I were you, mate,” the tall boy said solemnly, hazel eyes drinking up the atmosphere and leaving everything else sober behind him. Sirius, despite his namesake, was unaccustomed to handling situations so serious, so he began to feel slightly queasy and started pacing about the tree house deck.

“Prongs … go in and see what that bloody twat is—”

James interrupted him, looking dourly affronted. “The hell I’m cleaning up your messes, Padfoot! And anyway, you’re the one who decked him, not me,” he snapped, waving his hand dismissively through the air.

Wormtail remained silent, still shocked by the startling anger and violence currently breaking up their close-knit group. He was never much for talking, anyway; always the one on the outside, contented not to be involved in the action, but just involved in general—he looked back and forth from Sirius’s stressed features and James’s cool dignity, brushing off his jacket and smoothing the wrinkles on his trousers. After a few moments’ pause, Sirius let out a sound that rather reminded Wormtail of a kicked dog and continued his pacing, digging his nails into his palms in some form of self restraint. Wormtail was sure to give him lots of breathing room, dangling his legs off the tree house platform as far as he was brave enough to let them.

Too late: Sirius caught his movement in his peripherals, and gave pause. Wormtail audibly gulped as Sirius knelt down to his level, and he could see in those stormy, turbulent gray seas that Sirius was desperate, guilty, and panicked.

Not a very comfortable combination to be in close proximity of someone as nervous as Wormtail.

“Wormtail! Peter, oh Peter—be a darling, won’t you? Go in and … tell Remus that I’m … that he’s … Go see what he’s doing, okay, Peter? You’ll do that for me, won’t you?”

Peter gazed into the pleading eyes of his desperate comrade, and a kind of pity struck him deep and true in his heartstrings and he felt the need to help his poor friend. But upon opening his mouth, before the soothing, meaningless words could summon themselves to his tongue, Prongs gave a loud, rather direct cough and caught Wormtail’s gaze. The athlete’s gaze was a mosaic work of greens, anger, blues, and forewarning—Peter swallowed and instead trained his flooded eyes skyward.

“Ahem … well, look at that! It’s getting awfully late, mates. I think I’m going to head back and … and … pack up my belongings! Again … you know, in case I left something behind. I always leave stuff behind—” He seemed to catch on to his babbling, and stopped himself. “R-right then. Catch you later!” He gave a silly salute before he slipped over the side of the platform, caught the woven ladder in his small hands and climbed clumsily out-of-sight.

Sirius pounded his fists on the wooden dais, snarling angrily, “Wormtail, you bloody coward! See if James’s mum ever sends you honeyed fudge for Christmas again! Peter!!” Sirius ended with one fierce pound of a fist, and then splayed his hand and rested his head on it.

“God bloody dammit,” he snarled into his fingers.

James took pity on the poor beast, and kneeled down to pat his back sympathetically.

“S’alright, mate. Just got a bit prissy, that’s all. Give him a few ticks, and then go in and slap a bandage on him and he’ll be right as rain.”

Sirius didn’t raise his head, but he did raise his voice. “Easy for you to say! Moony’s positively wolfish when he’s upset! Why don’t you go in with that bandage, eh?”

James’s hand thumped loudly on Sirius’s back, at that comment.

“Ouch! You wanker!”

“There isn’t anybody who can fix this but you. I always said you were a bloody slob, Sirius. Didn’t your mother ever teach you how to clean up after yourself?” Prongs dodged a flying fist, laughing hysterically, and slipped gracefully over the side of the dais, pausing to give Sirius’s scowling face one last wink. “See you in an hour or two. I’ll have the first-aid kit out and ready for you after Moony finishes being … wolfish.”

Dodging one last attack and laughing his arse off, James disappeared.

Sirius snarled a few curse words into the empty air that used to hold a best friend, an EX-best friend, and then sat back on his haunches feeling more abandoned than he’d ever care to admit to himself.

“Traitorous, wretched thing … thinks he’s so wise, the great James Potter, knowledgeable in all Things of Life. The great prune,” Sirius mumbled, watching as a flock of birds became displaced from their roosting nests, no doubt because a great giant prune was walking beneath them, singing off-key in that squawking way of his.

And then the birds and signs of the Prune were gone, and Sirius was left with silence and his nervousness. He sat down awkwardly, fiddling with the creases in his trousers, and said, “Well, what now?”

And there he sat. It was nearly dark at this time; the droning cicadas and chirping crickets and the fat little forest toads had all begun their nighttime symphony, and Sirius could see the glow of the gas lamps on the campus of his boarding school, glittering from afar.

He was an idiot. He hadn’t meant to clout Moony, really he hadn’t—it was just something about Moony’s words that had really irked him, struck him somewhere unreasonable and uncivilized, and he’d just lost it. Yes, it was his fault, and it really shouldn’t be an issue to just go into that tree house and apologize to the sulking prat—but Sirius’s pride had a way of getting in the way of things, and now it was telling him that he couldn’t be sure it was only him at fault for this.

High school had come and gone too quickly, and now Sirius was supposed to just pack up his things and leave this place forever, leaving behind everything and everyone who had made him into the man he was today. But how could he? How could he go out into the world to be Sirius Black if the reasons he was Sirius Black were missing from his life? How can he be James Potter’s Best Friend or Hogwarts Boarding School’s Most Famous Prankster or Remus Lupin’s Biggest Headache if all of those crucial elements were gone?

And there was Moony, ever-so eager to go back and start his new life, forgetting all about the people he once called friends and the place that very nearly reared him—the place where he’d had all the turning points of his young life, the place where he’d met James and Peter and Lily …! And Sirius himself …

Somehow, the very thought of Remus Lupin forgetting all about him was maddening, the others be hanged.

The creaking of warped wooden boards and an edgy cough brought Sirius’s attention out of the dark, obscure depths of his relatively unused brain and to the doorway of the tree house.

“Oh! Oh, Sirius, y-you’re still here? I’d thought that … with James and Peter …” Remus was finding himself quite inarticulate, and he flushed a deep crimson because of it.

Sirius replied rather lamely, “No, I … err, stuck around.”



Neither made a move, both caught up in a vortex of hidden guilt and smothering awkwardness, the sky ever darkening in its oblivious, unbiased way.

When their silence started becoming ridiculous, Sirius finally damned his pride and hung his head in front of his good friend in humility.

“Sorry, mate …”

Remus sighed, and walked over to sit by his friend’s side. “No, it’s alright really. Actually, I should be the one apologizing to you.”

Sirius looked up startlingly, guiltily. “What? Of course not, you stupid—you bloody—why would you—?”

“I understand,” Remus interrupted quietly, settling himself in the space next to the black-haired boy, gazing unfocusedly off into the distance. Through the very-near darkness of twilight, the flushed hand mark on his cheek stood out starkly, almost as vividly as an ink-stain on white trousers, and the sight of it made Sirius clam up.

“I’ve been thinking about it, you know, in the tree house … and I just want you to know I understand how you feel, Sirius. Well, I mean, I’m only making assumptions I guess, so I can’t really say anything on your behalf … what I’m really saying is that I know how I feel, and I think it may be similar and/or exactly like what you’re feeling, I think …”

Sirius tried his very best to follow his incoherent friend, but there’s only so far the narrow span of his attention can stretch before he gives up.

“Moony—Moony, mate, you’re babbling …”

Remus flinched. “Am I?”

“Like a brook.”

Sirius watched his friend with something akin to concern, but then his little doggie brain finally clasped onto something, and he turned back to the sweeping darkness before him.

“I think I get it … you’re—I’m—we’re going to miss this place … so much.”

Lupin turned a fair shade of purple, and manically scratched at his ear. “Well—yes. Yes, I do believe you’ve hit on it. That's exactly what I was trying to say. S-spot-on. Good.” He coughed delicately.

Sirius leaned back on his palms. “What a year it’s been, Moony my man. Think of all the trouble we caused!”

“You and James caused, you mean, and just dragged me into it,” Remus mumbled, under his breath.

Sirius continued unhindered. “Think of all the damsels who’s lacy hearts now reside in our breasts!”

Moony rolled his eyes. “If you’ve forgotten, I’m the one everyone calls a poofter just because I’m always in the library and don’t go to dances and such.”

Sirius looked surprised. “Didn’t you go to any dances? God’s sake. You’re one odd man, Remus Lupin.”

Moony sighed rather painfully. “Let’s get back to spilling the stuffing out of our little lacy hearts, shall we?”

Sirius spread his legs, pumping them up and down to get the blood flowing to his toes again. “Please, wreak all havoc on that stuffing, Moony. This is an open tree house floor, and I am a most impartial audience.”

As Sirius was unashamedly spreading himself out, Remus was inadvertently closing in on himself. “Sirius … have you ever felt … serious … about anyone before? So much that … that you can’t even think about anything else in the world—even good literature, which is all you’ve ever needed before in this lifetime?”

Sirius shot him a look. “Which ‘you’ are you referring to? Certainly not Sirius Black ‘you.’ Because if you’ve forgotten, I don’t read.”

Remus was a little startled, and then replied, “No, no—and impartial ‘you.’ I suppose I should have used ‘one’ to indicate impartiality, but then it would have lost the effect of—“

“Gibberish,” Sirius interrupted. “You speak in Gibberish, Moony. God knows how you communicate with normal human beings.”

Remus folded further within, withering like a cactus blossom in Antarctica. “Oh …”

And then, Sirius registered Moony’s question. He turned an interesting shade of red, perhaps tomato paste and beets, a bit on the bloody side. “Oh. Well, um … ahem … you know me, ha-ha, Sirius Black! Always serious! Ha-ha …”

Remus imagined the pair of them was rather a lovely sight, Sir Spaghetti Sauce and his Indian guide, Talks-in-Tongues.

He vaguely felt the inclination to cry.

Silence fell over the pair, until Sirius’s stomach made an odd gurgling noise and the spell was broken.

Remus’s eyes fell onto the area of complaint, and then let his eyes rove up a wide chest and angular face to meet strangely emotive eyes. Padfoot, for his part, felt each and every muscle in his body stiffen as soon as those golden-brown eyes roved over him, and he wasn’t sure if they wanted to pull him dangerously forward or help him spring safely away.

This feeling, this indecision … Padfoot had never experienced such hesitation in his life, before meeting Remus Lupin. He’d always lived a carpe diem life: a life on the edge of the unknown, as spontaneous a man as there ever was. But now, all it took was one look at the curling Greek hair and droopy eyes of his best friend, and Sirius wasn’t sure which direction was up anymore, and which was down.

And what if he were to draw forward? What would happen then? Sirius had given it so much thought that to think it again seemed pointless—he had come up with any and all possible scenarios, and they all ended in tragedy (though one admittedly had ended with Remus wearing a vomitous pink dress. Actually, it was more a mountainous mass of frills and lace and other girly dress trimmings than an actual piece of clothing).

The problem was that Remus was too logical. He was too brainy and therefore always spoke and acted on logic. Cool, unfeeling logic. How Sirius detested logic! It made men like Remus so unreachable … Sirius hadn’t known how to proceed when the indecision had kicked in because he never knew what in Sam hell the bookworm was thinking. He’d thought, if only Moony would give him some kind of bloody sign … a dead signing language, or a secret mantra in pig-Latin …something other than the nothing he always got.

He wanted Remus to be illogical. For one measly second, he wanted Remus to loose himself to his human side; to feel like Sirius felt every time he saw the tawny-hair curled up by the fire with a ridiculous-sized book, or when the other boy smiled, in that crooked, shy way of his. He wanted Remus to experience the mad rush of heated emotion that swept Sirius away constantly, washing away at his restraint like as if he were a rock, being battered by a rough sea.

He wanted Remus to feel with him. For him. To feel in general.

Unbeknownst to Sirius, feeling was the exact problem Remus was trying to be rid of. Letting his eyes wander over the black-haired boy’s lean body had been a lethal mistake; now the usually-reserved boy could feel that tightness beginning in his lower-abdominals, the one that would keep him awake at night, lying behind private curtains sweaty and needy.

‘I am so obscenely epicene,’ he thought, trying very hard to make himself devolve into a creature incapable of intelligible thought.

‘Glaries deliknit marisoelic.’ He gave being unintelligible his best shot. ‘Terighs woudit yownbut.’

Sirius’s eyes met his. It wasn’t helping.

“S-Sirius … I …”

Sirius gave Remus his undivided attention. For someone as chaotic and unfocused as Sirius, the look was disconcerting. Remus, sitting there awkwardly under the intense stare, nearly forgot what Sirius was staring at him for as he marveled at how the black-haired man had dredged up enough of an attention span to spare any for him.

Sirius leaned forward unconsciously, trying to anticipate what Moony might have to say to him. Finally, when the bookworm seemed to have slipped into a coma, Sirius could take it no longer.

“Yes …? You what?”

Remus started, breaking the spell of Sirius’s intense gaze as he looked about distractedly. Sirius snorted. Not going to find your words milling about the tree house, Moony, mate. Though, he imagined if lost subjects did float around visibly for all to see, he wouldn’t be having this much trouble finding out what Remus was thinking.

“Oh. Right. Umm … I … we …” Remus sighed mentally. He could never say aloud what he had been thinking for roughly more than half a year. Doing so would betray the friendship they had spent five years developing. “We should head back. Lots to do before tomorrow, right?” He laughed, but his heart wasn’t in it.

Sirius’s face fell. He leaned away, and stared out back towards campus. Remus felt he should have a proper funeral service for the loss of the closeness.

“Oh. Yes, it’s rather late, mm? Should … head back …”

Despite having both agreed to the idea, neither moved a muscle. It was in the atmosphere, a feeling of incompleteness that wouldn’t leave the two well enough alone.

Suddenly, Sirius whipped around to face Remus again. “Moony!”

Now it was Moony with hawk eyes, watching Sirius with what could be interpreted as eager anticipation. “Yes …?”

Sirius flushed, looking like he had hung upside-down for and entire year, but his eyes were dead-set with determination. “I … I have something to tell you. Dammit, we both have something to tell us – god dammit, this is madness—Moony mate, Remus … I … we …”

Sirius flailed around, desperate for the words that had evaded him for so long. He clutched Moony’s sleeve, as if it were a lifeline in a turbulent ocean, looking at good ol’ logical Remus, hoping against hope that Mr. Logical would help him out and say something completely illogical.

Remus seemed just as desperate as Sirius, but god damn him he still sat there like a lumpy piece of—of—something lumpy, looking at him with those god damn droopy eyes and grasping his wrist with those bony book-wormy fingers. They were both flushed so much, an outsider might think they were both being boiled alive in the same cooking pot.

“Moony, I can’t do this anymore, I can’t … look at us, a lumpy piece of lump and a soggy pile of lake goo. We make terrible soup.”

As per usual, Moony couldn’t follow Sirius’s train of thought, but it didn’t matter so much at the moment. The only thing that mattered was Sirius—Sirius Black, the best friend he had come to love in a not-best-friend way, the same Sirius who was so close to him now he could smell the pudding he had for dessert this evening.

Raotuining martidanca,” Remus said, giving one last effort at developing a mental illness, before Sirius told him to shut the bloody hell up and kissed him, pulling Remus to him so swiftly that he missed the majority of the thinner male’s mouth, ending up knocking faces with him and getting Padfoot saliva over his cheek. But Remus, good man Moony, he didn’t complain a bit—just made a sort of squeaky girly noise and redirected Sirius’ mouth on his face, making it so that they were actually kissing—not just him getting drooled on by an over-enthusiastic dog.

It wasn’t disgustingly over-the-top, nor squeamishly amateurish … these were two boys—no, two men, and their mouths were all power and dominance, following a “divide and conquer” tactic that was simultaneously obnoxious and arousing for the both of them. Sirius was taken by surprise with the pace that Mooney had set for him. He thought the bookworm would’ve been all … swoony, but this wasn’t the case—Mooney was strong and masculine in this moment were weakness easily shows through, and his fingers tightened over Sirius’s chin harshly and his tongue painted wonderful drool-pictures in Sirius’s mouth.

When at last Mooney ran out of breath, he made a slight “mmph” sound against Sirius’s mouth and pushed away, embarrassed at the long string of saliva that followed him out.

Sirius stared it, still connecting their mouths, and then poked it. It broke in half; each half slapping their respective owner’s chin. Mooney gave an odd sort of giggle, slightly on the hysterical side, and wiped it away. Sirius just left his on his face, opting to stare at Mooney and wonder if they were descending into madness.

The weight of the situation and what he had just done settled upon Sirius like a pile of bricks, making him sort of seize up in his place on the floor. His eyes went buggy, and his mouth fell open as if to speak, but no words came out. He looked absolutely panic-stricken.

Remus found it at once jejune and adorable.

"Sirius," he said, beaming in quite a stupid manner. "Sirius, you're absolutely stark-raving mad. We're both completely bonkers. Come to college with me.”

Nothing much had changed. Padfoot still didn't know what the hell Mooney was saying, and Mooney had no intention of even guessing what poor, stray little thoughts actually survived the trek across Sirius's temporal lobe. But it didn't even matter to the bookworm, because Sirius had kissed him and he had kissed back and no matter what happened now, he knew that their time together was not coming to and end today. It was coming to a new beginning.

Sirius floundered around for something to say. “R-Remus! Come to … college with you? But, that doesn’t even make any … I can’t live in the dorm with you, can’t just … just pack up and leave …” To an outsider, it would have been quite a sight to see, this epic role-reversal between the quiet nerdy-type and his strong, jock friend.

Remus couldn’t quite believe it himself, which only made him grin all the wider. What would James Potter think? Sirius, being all serious and rational, while Remus acting rashly without taking the time to even use intelligent words in a logical order.

“We'll rent an apartment together outside of campus. I'll make you spaghetti and I won’t make you read books without pictures, I promise. Come live with me."

So overcome by Remus’s request and his bright, intoxicating smile, words eluded the black-haired stud. Isn't this what he’d wanted, anyway? For Remus to act completely illogical?

But still … he couldn't just pack everything up and follow the bookworm to some college up north like a lovesick little puppy, could he? Granted he had no more family to turn to, (at least none he ever wanted to associate with again) but shouldn’t they stop and think about this—?

And then Remus's curved lips were on his again; and, after a long moment, he vaguely thought 'Meh, what the hell? I hear the weather up north is simply marvelous anyway.'

And then he stopped thinking entirely.

Why question things so far in the future? He had Remus in his arms now, and he had great friends that would stick by him no matter what he decided.

And he had his own, personal bookworm to think for him, anyway. Things would be okay.

Looking back, seeing the old as new again, they silently take out their memory boxes, their souvenirs of a life just beginning to form—and laying quietly in a corner, behind all the arcade trips and the reckless pranks, sitting amongst the confessed feelings lay the single most important memory either would ever have of this time, this singular time in space that seemed never-ending even as it had passed long ago:

Each other.
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