His hair was grayer. That was the first thing Sirius noticed. In just the year since he'd seen him last, his hair was grayer.
The next thing he noticed was that Remus' flat was nearly bare of everything except shabbiness, and that Remus was serving them the last of his tea.
"Why are you here, Sirius?"
"Dumbledore sent me." He took a sip from his cup. It was bitter, without milk or sugar. Remus had neither. "Have you been following the Triwizard tournament in Hogwarts?"
"Is Harry all right? He should not have been permitted to participate." Remus turned pale.
"Harry is...Harry is not all right, but he's alive." He told Remus all about the tournament, and about Harry and Cedric disappearing. And about Harry coming back with Cedric's body.
Remus closed his eyes. "He was a fine student, a fine young wizard."
"It gets worse still." Sirius took Remus' hand. "Voldemort is back." As the tea cooled, and Remus held on tightly, Sirius told him everything Harry had said, from the first spell to the last. "He's back, and he has his minions around him, and he can hurt my godson. Has hurt my godson. And he's back."
"Why are you here, Sirius?" Remus warmed up the tea again.
"Because Dumbledore sent me. The Order is active again, Remus. It has to be. We're rounding up the old crowd - or what still exists. And we need you."
"You need a known werewolf?" He shook his head. "Oh, Sirius. I can't even get a job anymore. This place, the food I needed - I have nothing left from last year. I'm useless to the Order." He shrugged. "But I'm glad to be thought of."
"I never stopped thinking about you." He touched Remus' cheek.
Remus pulled back. "I'm sorry. It's...it's been too long. And too much has happened. It's been thirteen years."
"I'm not going to let go. This year - this year I could think about you in good ways. In the ways we were before James died. Remus, I missed you. I still..."
"Don't say it. You're not who you were. I'm not who I was. It has to be different." He got up and put the tea things in the sink. Sirius followed him.
"You're not the same." He was grayer. He was thinner, and his robes were even shabbier than they had been last year. "But you're still beautiful, Remus. Still the most beautiful, the wisest, the *best* man I've ever met. I know I'm a wreck. I know what Azkaban and then living the way I have has done to me." He ran his hands through his tangled locks. "Am I that ugly?"
Remus' eyes widened. "You? No, never. Never ugly. Not to me. Ever." He wiped his hands on a towel and walked to him to take his hands. "You were the handsomest boy in school then, and you are now. You just need a bit of a wash and shave." He leaned in and kissed him on the cheek.
"So. There's hope for us?" Sirius could feel the hope in his heart.
Remus shrugged. "I don't know. But we're part of the Order again. Maybe we can be like phoenixes, too."
"Please. Come home with me." He held Remus' hands firmly.
"My house. Mother died while I was in prison. The house is mine, lock, stock and doxies. Dumbledore is going to make it headquarters and do a *fidelius* for it. Come, live with me. Help me make it a home for Harry. For us."
"We lost so many people last time." He pulled Sirius in closer.
Sirius wrapped his arms around him. It felt awkward and wrong at first, but then memory came back. "I know. And we'll lose more. We lost that boy today. Let's take something good while we can, please."
Remus said nothing for a long time. Sirius didn't mind. He was happy for the moment. "Yes. If you can use a known werewolf in your ancestral home, I'll come with you."
"We can use a man of calm strength and courage. We need you. I need you. Come with me."
Remus smiled and kissed him on the mouth, and Sirius knew he'd finally come home.