There Is No If
by Kira (kirabop@hotmail.com)

Author's Notes: Randomly inspired fluff. Enjoy.

--------

Remember the last time I told you I love you
It was warm and safe in a perfect world
You yawned, and I had to say it over
I said "I love you" I said
You didn't say a word
Just held your hands to your shining eyes
And I watched as the tears ran through your fingers
Held you hands to your shining eyes
And cried

"If you die" you said
"So do I" you said
But it ends the day you see how it is
There is no always, forever
Just this
Just this
-- The Cure "There Is No If"

--------

"Moony! Hey, Moony!"

Flattening his palms against his knees, Sirius Black leaned forward, drawing in quick, sharp gasps of chilled air that hit the back of his throat like pins and needles. His dark hair, grown long enough now it was in desperate need of a trim, fell forward enough to brush his cheeks. He ran a hand distractedly through it, smoothing back the long bangs from his eyes. It tended to be in his way more often than it was not, but he was of the opinion that it was aesthetically appealing, if the puppy-eyed looks girls always gave him in the halls were any indication. He rather liked the nonchalant, laid-back air it gave him as well, and for that he was willing to sacrifice seeing properly.

Ahead of him, his friend trooped through the snow, piled on thick now after the storm that had assaulted Hogwarts the night before. It was the first day of the weekend and the students were enjoying it in the outdoors, bundled up tight in their thick winter robes. Scarves of various patterns were wrapped tight around most necks. Sirius had flung his on without much care before barreling outside into the freshly fallen snow. His robes were open as well, showing that he had at least had the common sense to wear a sweater and slacks. He had been known to wear much less when his excitement got ahead of his logic.

James was spending his weekend bundled up in the commons room near the fire with Lily Evans, who he had somehow managed to gain the attention of after years of failed attempts. Sirius had attempted to coax him outside for the day, but James had told him quite simply that when you tried so hard to get something, you didn't dote on it for one day before throwing it away. Sirius had proceeded to stick his tongue out at his friend, inform him that Evans would not like that analogy at all, and ran outside. Moony at least would still be there for him.

But Moony was walking yards and yards ahead of him in the snow, scarcely hearing his calls, and he was growing tired of tracking him like a dog. He was ready to flop down in the snow and have a nap when Remus finally lifted his head, seeming to notice him at last, and looked at him over his shoulder.

"Oh. Sirius."

"Oh, he says," Sirius muttered. Straightening, he ploughed through the snow, coming to stand alongside his friend. "I've only been following you for half an hour now."

Remus smiled, a faint tug at the corner of his lips. He never did smile fully. Sirius had wanted to ask him more than once if life was really all that bad that he could not give at least one smile that touched his eyes, but whatever the reason was, it was not his to demand of Remus. They all had things they wanted to hide. Even Peter had things he was keeping from the rest of them, though Sirius wasn't nearly as interested to find out what those were as he was to find out what Remus was concealing.

"You disappeared quick this morning," Sirius said. "Shoulda woken me up."

"Well," Remus began, "you were snoring so peacefully I thought it would be rude to bother you."

Sirius lifted a hand and swiped his knuckles across Remus' red cheeks gently. "Funny, Moony."

They walked together, side by side, black robes a sharp contrast against the perfectly white snow, and only the red and gold Gryffindor colors of Sirius' scarf providing any true source of color. Around them, students of all years were making the most of their weekend free of classes and responsibilities to build snowmen, snow fortresses, and engage in snowball flinging wars. A group of older students had even brought out their broomsticks and were having a game of make-shift Quidditch on a large, empty field.

Remus knew that Sirius would have liked to be there with them, in the middle of it all, the center of attention. Sirius always was the center of attention. No students at Hogwarts gained the sort of fan-following that Sirius and James did. They were the popular students, the ones the younger years looked up to as role models, and the ones in their own year either longed to be friends with or loathed. But neither James nor Sirius realized the impact they had. Still, Remus doubted that if they did they would change their ways.

And it was not as though they were the cruel sort of popular, the way some of the more well-known Slytherins were. They never purposefully excluded anyone or sought out to deliberately hurt anyone... unless that someone happened to be Severus Snape or one of the other Slytherins that had somehow managed to get on their bad side. Sirius in particular could be vicious with his revenge... as was seen when he nearly sent Snape to his death at the Whomping Willow in their fifth year.

But he was genuinely sorry for that, Remus knew he was. He had never meant for it to go as far as it had.

They were walking along the outskirts of the school grounds now, nearer and nearer to the Forbidden Forest. Remus often walked alone and the walks never ceased to bring him to this one, single point. Something was always pulling him toward the forest, something inside him that moved him without his even being aware. He was always surprised when he would look up and find himself bare inches from walking into the timber. It was never where he intended to go, and yet he always did.

It was the smell, the colors, the danger, the absolute longing that drew him there. It was the wolf that tempted him.

He sighed softly and then drew in a sharp breath of cold air. Spending his transformations locked in the Shrieking Shack was beginning to wear on him. He wanted to be out, to be there in the forest, to be able to run free. Not even the comfort of his friends being with him in the times of his change, keeping him under control, was enough. He wanted to be alone. He wanted to be able to hunt. And the more and more the desire grew, the more and more he worried that he would do something horrible to James or Peter or Sirius.

"Hey, Moony."

A hand lifted near his face and a finger flicked at the tip of his nose, still red from the cold. He lifted his eyes to see Sirius watching him. He had not realized that they had stopped walking, standing on the edge of the forest, where the snow ceased in blanketing the ground. It had all been caught in the thick branches of the trees when it had come cascading down, leaving only a few patches of white on green and brown earth. He and Sirius stood on the edge, under the shade of a towering pine tree.

"Oh, good," Sirius said. "Was afraid I'd lost you there."

"Sorry," Remus murmured.

"Hm." Sirius pressed his hands into the pockets of his robes, fingers brushing along some item he had hidden there for the purpose of tormenting Severus Snape. Probably a dungbomb or something, he had already forgotten what it was, and what Snape had done to deserve the deed this time. But he knew at least it had to be something. Most of the time he only sought to torment Snape when the other boy had done something to deserve it. And most of the time, Snape had.

"Well, come on then," Sirius said, and he continued to walk, plowing his way through the snow and making a path for Remus to follow.

"Sirius?"

"Yeah?" Sirius continued to stomp through the snow, flattening it down to make it easier to walk across. Remus followed quietly in his wake.

"Have you... ever wanted something so badly... that you know you shouldn't have but you want it anyway?"

Sirius glanced back at him over his shoulder, moving so quickly it caused his hair to fall across his eyes from where he had shoved it back behind his ears. One eyebrow was arched in delicate confusion. "How do you mean?"

"Never mind," Remus said quickly. Lowering his head, he stared down at the soles of his tattered shoes.

"If it were nothing you wouldn't it be asking, would you?" Sirius pressed. "What do you mean, like... like being five and really wanting to try some fire spells because your parents say no?"

Remus glanced up at him, a near smile on his face. "You did that, didn't you."

Sirius flashed him one of his charismatic grins. "Set the curtains on fire," he said proudly. He continued to walk and flatten the snow to make a meager path. "Sure, I know what that's like," he continued. "It's just wanting to play with dangerous things and knowing you're better off without, right?"

"Something like that..." But it was more than a want, it was more like a desire. A desire to be there in the forest, to be running, to be hunting something down to the ground -- a dangerous desire. Something he wanted so badly he was afraid he would do something terrible.

There was a tree overlooking the lake that they had designated as their own. They would often spend their afternoons there when it was cool enough to study and do their homework, or to just lounge and do nothing at all. Sirius was gravitating toward there naturally, and Remus had no choice but to follow him in his twisting, winding path through the snow.

Not seeming to care that the snow was wet and cold, Sirius promptly flopped down, leaning his back up against the stripped trunk of the tree, bare of its bark in the winter. Remus stood by his side, the thought of sitting rear end in the snow not appealing to him. He was already cold as it was.

"Come on, Moony, live some," Sirius beckoned.

"No, thank you."

Sirius made a face at him but relented, allowing him to stand while he slouched, cobalt eyes passing over the grounds with little to no interest at all. To most he would have looked bored, but Remus knew he was watching and absorbing everything. He always did. Things the rest of them would have forgotten from months ago Sirius would always remember and bring up at the most random of moments. It was just something he did, for no reason at all, really. Watching people seemed to be a hobby to him, something to do to pass the time.

"So what did you mean?" Sirius asked. "When you asked me that."

"Nothing, really," Remus answered softly. He trusted Sirius and was willing to confide in him, but the feeling was not one he could put into words, not in a way that Sirius would be able to understand. It was not that he was not intelligent enough... but Sirius saw everything as black and white. There was never a middle ground for him.

"Hm," Sirius murmured, and he did not seem inclined to press the topic further. "Come on, Moony, sit down," he said instead, coaxing to his friend. "It's quite fun, sitting ass-down in wet snow."

"It sounds like it," Remus replied, vague sarcasm lining his voice.

Sirius smiled suddenly, a slightly devious grin, and untucked his long legs from where he had them crossed over to stretch out more comfortably. Looking up at Remus, smile still in place, he patted his lap. "Well?" he said. "Come on, sit. I'm warm."

"I'm not sitting in your lap."

"You know as well as I do I'll have my way no matter what."

Remus sighed. "Sirius--"

"Sit."

There would be nothing else until Sirius had his way. And it was not so much that he minded... he didn't. Sirius tended to be spontaneously affectionate with him often. He had learned to grow accustomed to it...

He sat down with him, sitting more on the ground between Sirius' legs than he was sitting on his lap. Sirius closed his arms around him, crossing over his chest and pulling him back slightly, into the circle of warmth Sirius provided. He felt the brush of skin against his cheek; Sirius dropping his chin to rest on his shoulder. It was all casual to Sirius. It was nothing he would do with anyone else -- he was certainly not that casual -- but it was how he had always been with Remus. Casual touching seemed to come naturally to him, as naturally as everything else did. Remus would have never thought there was deeper meaning to it -- not with Sirius. There was rarely anything but what was on the surface when it came to Sirius... or perhaps he was judging him too quickly.

"Warm?" Sirius asked. His breath was hot against Remus' ear.

"Warm," Remus confirmed, "but I'm still sitting rear-end in the snow..."

Sirius chuckled, the sound reverberating in his chest. Remus felt it. "Well," Sirius said, "that certainly sucks for you."

"Comforting," Remus murmured.

"Are you going to tell me what you meant?"

The abrupt change in subject did not bother him; it was the abrupt change of tone. No longer light-hearted and joking, Sirius was serious, concerned almost. Remus should have known to not expect him to leave it alone... should have never asked him at all. Sirius would not let it drop until he had his answer.

"I don't really want to talk about it." But he tried anyway, hoping to dismiss it as nothing, though he knew Sirius would never allow it.

"Too bad," Sirius said. "You brought it up, Moony."

"My mistake," Remus said softly.

"Yup. Your mistake. So talk."

"I don't really... know how to explain," Remus tried, again making a plea to not have to talk about it at all. Sirius made an impatient sound back in his throat.

"Try," he commanded.

He wanted to. He wanted to be able to tell Sirius, to confide in his friend. There were few people he could confide in, really, when it came to his problem. James and Peter knew, but he had never been at all close to Peter, and Sirius was much closer to James than he had ever been. Remus knew the only reason why he was allowed in their elite group was because Sirius cared for him and wanted him there. James and Peter, though his friends now, would have scarcely offered him a glance if it were not for Sirius. James because he never noticed anyone until he considered them within his regard, and Peter because he was far too shy to approach.

And so there was only Sirius that made the effort to understand him and know more, to draw him from the tight shell he tried to hide away in. It would have been easy to confide in him; Sirius knew the circumstances and did not see him as a plague-ridden disease as so many people did see those affected by lycanthropy. But it did not mean he wanted to draw attention. He wanted to forget it and attempt to live as normally as he could...

"You can tell me." Sirius spoke quietly. He was not trying to pressure Remus into talking, but assure him that he was there and could be trusted. He was not expecting any life-changing declarations. He just wanted Remus to at least feel comfortable enough to confide in him.

"I know," Remus replied. He did not like the longing in Sirius' voice, the way he made it seem that he was pained that his friend would not confide in him. He did trust Sirius, did want to confide in him, but he did not know where to begin. It was one thing to lean on Sirius when it was something petty that bothered him, but it was quite another to be telling your friend about all of your hidden desires, desires about wanting to run in the forest and hunt down the more vulnerable creatures that lived there.

"Something's bothering you so out with it already. You know I'll do what I can to help."

Remus knew he would. Sirius had always been disgustingly self-sacrificing in that way. He was willing to do anything to help someone else, even if it happened to be at his own expense. Unfortunately this was something he did not think Sirius would be able to help him with.

"Wanting something so badly but knowing it's no good for you," Remus murmured, "not... not like wanting to torment Severus Snape like you do while knowing you'll only get in trouble with the professors..."

"Like what, then?" Sirius asked.

"Like something that is drawing you whether or not you really want to go."

He felt Sirius shift behind him, adjusting his body into a more comfortable position, or perhaps simply moving for the sake of moving. An immediate response seemed to allude him.

"It'd be better for the both of us if you said it flat out, Remus," he said finally.

"It's just that..." Remus fumbled for the words, and he found them, all coming quick and rushed in a raced explanation. "I hate being stuck like I am, when I--when I transform, being confined like that, I want to be able to go out there, out into the forest alone. I want to be able to hunt things and... I know it's wrong but it's there, you know? And it's wrong..."

Such a long silence followed that Remus was nearly squirming before Sirius spoke again. He suddenly wished he could take it all back. It was not the first time that he and Sirius had ever talked about his lycanthropy, but it was the first time he ever admitted to the beast inside of him and the control it had over him, the inhuman desires it gave him. He had never wanted to admit that to Sirius, Sirius who saw him as a human being, and not as the monster the rest of the world did.

"Well," Sirius said finally, in such a way that he drew himself up, chest filling up with air as though he were about to make a mind-shattering statement, "that's what wolves do." And fell somewhat further from what was expected.

It was simple. But it was his answer. That was what wolves did. It made perfect sense to Sirius. Things that commonly would not have made any sense to someone else Sirius could always piece together and make seem almost normal.

"That isn't what people do," Remus replied somberly.

"Maybe not, but you're not really like everybody else, are you? And in a good way."

"There is no good way when you're like me..."

"Oh, don't be depressing," Sirius said, almost scolding. "I didn't say you're different like weird, I mean different as in special. You know?"

"No," Remus answered honestly.

Sirius snorted. "Come on. You really don't realize how special you are?"

"No... I'm not."

The arms folded around him pulled away, hands lifting to clamp down hard on his shoulders. A small, startled cry escaped him as Sirius, gripping him tightly, forced him to turn completely around and face him, so close that their nose tips were nearly touching. Eyes wide, Remus stared at Sirius and into his furious expression.

"Don't say that," he hissed softly. "I don't want to listen to you knocking yourself down like that." His expression softened just barely. Slowly lifting his hand, he brought it nearer to Remus' face, drawing back quickly when Remus flinched at the sudden and abrupt contact of knuckles against skin. He waited a moment, studying the face of his friend, before hesitantly bringing his hand in close again. Remus closed his eyes this time as Sirius gently brushed his knuckles over his cold cheek.

"You have no idea how great you are, do you, Moony?" Sirius asked softly.

"Sirius--"

"You're kind," Sirius interrupted. "Kind and smart..." His fingers splayed out against his cheek, sliding up and into his hair, carelessly brushing the sandy strands away from his eyes. Remus nearly flinched again as Sirius brought up his opposite hand to the other side of his face, flattening his palm against his cheek and holding him there in place, centimeters away from one another, tips of their noses brushing.

"And you're cute," Sirius added almost as an after thought, laughing softly.

One hand slid to the back of his head, slipping through strands of hair to rest against his neck. Sirius slowly began to pull him closer. Remus did not stop him. Too startled, maybe. Maybe because he did not want to. He did not have time to think, not as warm breath brushed against his partly opened lips, not as Sirius pressed their lips together. It happened too quickly. His eyes flew open wide... and then clenched shut, surrendering to the feel of Sirius' mouth against his own, slowly and gently kissing him.

It was that simple. The slight pressure of lips against his own and nothing more. Sirius did not rush him, slowly allowing Remus to adjust and feel more comfortable before he dared to do anything else. One hand gripped Remus' shoulder, the other resting on the back of his neck, and when Sirius felt those muscles relax as Remus accepted him, he knew it was safe to continue.

He did not know how long it was before they parted, only that he was breathless, and the sudden absence of warmth left him feeling vaguely that there was some sudden void between them. Tongue flicking out, he licked along his lips nervously, eyes searching Remus for some indication of whether or not what he had just done was good or bad. He could not tell, not by the way Remus' lashes fell to veil his eyes, and not by the curve of his still surprised, still open mouth. Inexplicably impatient and jittery, Sirius nudged at him, attempting to draw him from his daze.

"Hey, Remus? Uh..."

Remus sat back on his legs and lifted a hand to lightly brush his fingers against his lips. He seemed more confused than anything else, and Sirius supposed confused was always better than angry and wanting to deck him upside the head.

"Why did you do that?" was what Remus said, voice softly confused.

Feigning nonchalant, Sirius shrugged his shoulders, stretched his arms out, and then laced his fingers together behind his head. "Well," he said, all casual nothing, "it seemed like the right thing to do at the time." He closed his eyes, blocking out the blank stare Remus was giving him.

The long, awkward silence that followed had him leaping to his feet, frustrated, brushing snow from his pants and robes more harshly than was needed. Remus remained seated, staring up at him.

"Well?" Sirius demanded. "Was it that bad or what?"

Remus blinked. "Was what bad?"

Growing hot in the cheeks, Sirius whirled around, folding his arms over his chest. "The... the kiss, stupid. You're not saying anything..."

"Oh."

Sirius sighed. "Yeah, oh."

It had been a stupid thing to do... he had never admitted aloud to anyone that he had ever thought his friend attractive. He was a boy, after all, and as far as he knew his interest lay in the opposite gender, if the number of girlfriends he had over the years were any indication at all... but Remus was different from all of them. What was attractive about him was more than appearance, it was in his words, in how he could so easily understand everything about him, that made Sirius feel like there was something more... but it had been stupid to ever think Remus felt the same. But it was stupider to go on male hormones and kiss him like that.

"Listen," he said, turning as he shoved his hands in his pockets, "I didn't mean anything by it, I just--"

"It was nice."

Sirius stared down at him. "It was what?"

"Nice," Remus repeated, shrugging his shoulders. Another adjective seemed to slip his mind. Looking up into the surprised face of his friend, he smiled. "You kiss good."

"Oh," said Sirius blankly.

Remus laughed. "Oh, he says," he said, mimicking Sirius. The other boy scowled.

"Aw, shut up, Moony. C'mon, I'll help you up." He extended a hand to his friend, who took it and allowed Sirius to hoist him to his feet. He brushed the snow from his robes and pants, but there was little doing to solve the problem of the wet patches on his knees and shins. At least it was only his legs. Sirius had a very wet rear end, on the other hand.

"What're you laughing for?" Sirius demanded.

Remus pointed. "Well, you're all wet..."

Sirius glanced behind him. "Oh, bloody hell. Stop laughing at me and come with me to change."

Remus did comply to follow alongside him, but he did not stop laughing. Sirius reached over and cuffed him lightly upside the head.

"So're you feeling better now?"

Smiling, Remus nodded. Sirius grinned back at him and slung an arm around his shoulders lazily. "Good. I hate for my best friend to be all broody."

"Thanks..."

"I should kiss you more often if it perks you up like that every time." He laughed, leading the way into the castle with a half-cocked grin in place. Remus rolled his eyes.

But still... if it did cheer him up every time, and even if it didn't...

He didn't think he would mind if Sirius did it again.