Title: As Red as Hearts and Autumn
Word Count: 46,890
Alternate Links to Fic: here @ author's LJ
Contains: No warnings apply
Author's Website/Masterlist: here @ AO3, or here @ author's LJ
Summary: It's the autumn of Sixth Year, there's a flu epidemic at Hogwarts, and the Blacks want their heir back.
Why I'm recommending this: There are so many things to love within this fic. It was written in 2005 for scarvesnhats, the autumn edition of the seasonal fic-a-day challenges that used to run in R/S fandom, so it has a gentle and steady day-at-a-time pacing that works well for a fic about two boys in the 1970s gradually coming to realise they fancy one another. It's gorgeously written, and being seasonally-inspired, it's full of the most beautiful of autumnal imagery: harvest fruits, falling leaves, snagging scarves, the nip of frost at the windows. rosemaryandrue's prose style is lean, lyrical and full of warmth, infused with humour and wit and moments of introspection, and a plot surprisingly engaging for what is in essence a 47K character study of all the Marauders. Oh heavens, her characterisation is to die for: long-suffering Remus and his hatred of his prefects' meetings, and Sirius' obsession with Remus' ankles! 'Tis this above all else - the characters and the author's obvious affection for them all - that keeps me coming back to this fic and the 'verse it's part of. I cannot recommend them highly enough!
So Sirius reached down. Remus grasped his hand and scrambled up, limber and neat. Sirius, who moved with a chaotic grace, was intrigued by that neatness. What was the point?
Remus perched on the next branch, his scarf trailing, and said, "You alright?"
Sirius shrugged. With James he would have brazened it out and it would have ended with someone punching someone and the untimely demise of a lot of good conkers. He didn't need to lie to Remus. Instead, he bounced on his branch and caught the end of Remus' scarf.
"Please don't throttle me."
Sirius grinned and combed through the fringe of red and yellow wool. "I'm just tidying you up."
Remus rolled his eyes. "That from Mr If-I-leave-my-boxers-on-the-floor-long-e
"Well, they did," Sirius said reasonably. "Although I still don't understand how they started smelling of lavender."
"I'll give you one clue. It starts with house and ends with elves."
"Nah," Sirius said, already feeling better. "It was Chemisty."
Remus threw his hands up in dismay and then wobbled. He steadied himself against the trunk of the tree, leaning comfortably, and blinked at Sirius. "Do you want to talk about this one?"
Sirius, who had been thinking about how warm that scarf looked and how much of Remus' warmth would linger if he stole it, felt his mood plummet. "Haven't read it yet."
"Maybe I should just burn it. Thwart them. Maybe I should send it back. Or maybe I should just read it and not care because it doesn't matter, does it? It's nothing to do with me."
Remus just waited, his eyes grave.
Sirius huffed and pulled the letter out of his pocket. Then, as if he hadn't been brooding about it all morning, he ripped it apart and hurled the shreds into the yellow leaves. "I'm Sirius," he said fiercely. "I am not a monster."
Remus stared at him, wide-eyed. Then he smiled and held out his hand. "Hello, Sirius. I'm Remus and I'm not a monster either."
Sirius looked at him, at his quiet smile and outstretched hand, and lunged forward to grab it. "Pleased to meet you."
Then the branch sprang back in protest and, as is always inevitable when one disregards the laws of gravity, Sirius fell out of the tree, dragging Remus, scarf and all, behind him.