It was smaller now, the water closer than it had once been, but it was still their beach.
Remus sat on the sand, his shoulders sagging, his face tired and worn, feeling thirty years older than he should. The War was finally over. Voldemort had been defeated only two weeks ago. Harry was still at St. Mungos with a majority of the Order, recovering from a variety of curses, some of which they’d never even heard of before they’d been cast. Remus had been released that morning, declared physically healed and sent on his way.
It didn’t surprise him, really, that this was his first destination. This beach had such pleasant memories, after all. Memories of a time when four boys had laughed, played, and had nary a care in the world. It was on this beach that he and Sirius had shared their first kiss. Sixteen and far too arrogant for his own good, Sirius had chased him down the beach until he’d caught him.
Remus’ fingers ghosted over his lips, still able to taste peppermint and sunshine and Sirius, looking down the beach to see ghosts of the boys they’d once been. He watched Sirius pin him, laughing as his long hair had fallen around his face, remembering what it had felt like for that firm body to press him against the sand. Electricity in the air as Sirius’ eyes had darkened and his smile had faded. Then nothing but pleasure as lips had awkwardly fumbled, teeth biting, noses bumping, and tongues finally touching.
Sirius had caught him that day and never let go. Even now, years after his death, Remus could taste sunshine and peppermint and Sirius. Though, after Azkaban, it had been different. It had been firewhiskey and death but it had still been Sirius.
Remus looked away from the fumbling teenagers who had been grinding against one another, kissing and touching beneath the summer sun. He saw James laughing, pushing his glasses up the bridge of his nose, splashing him for not going into the water. He saw Peter as he’d once been, building a sandcastle with Sirius, the two plotting and creating something so magical as he and James tossed around a ball. So many memories of the past, everywhere he looked, happy memories, before life had become something not particularly worth living.
They were all gone now. Ghosts of the past. He was the last Marauder, alone with nothing but memories and a pledge to keep Harry safe. A single tear slid down his cheek as the sun moved lower in the western sky. “We did it, boys,” he whispered into the wind. “Harry did it. Voldemort’s gone, forever this time. You’d have been so proud of Harry, such a strong young man. His friends, they’re like we used to be, before darkness interfered. They stood by him, so brilliant to watch, to be part of.”
Running his fingers through his hair, he looked behind him. His eyes moved up the sandy stairs to the cliff above. A soft smile crossed his lips as he saw them there, smiling at him. James was a couple of years older than the last time they’d been at this beach, still pushing his spectacles up the bridge of his nose. Take care of my boy, Moony.
Peter was much older, looking as he had a year ago when he’d stepped in front of a killing curse aimed at Remus by Lestrange, the echo of the words he spoke before dying that night I’m so sorry, Moony soft in the air as he waved shyly.
And Sirius. He was grinned proudly, and Remus knew it wasn’t just Harry he was proud of. Looking as he had that day they’d lost him to the Veil, he finally seemed somewhat at peace. Miss you, Moony. Always with you. Love you.
Remus blinked away more tears as he watched them descend the stairs, moving past him to the beach, laughter from years past in the air as James ran down the beach, tossing a ball in the air, and Peter and Sirius began to plot some wild castle design. When Sirius looked up at him and smiled, he could taste sunshine and peppermint and him. Sitting back on his hands, Remus smiled gently as he watched the ghosts of his past, knowing one day he’d be joining them here, losing himself in memories of the boys of the summer.