Notes: This fic was, originally, meant to be short, sweet, and fluffy. Instead came out as a monster. I rather like it this way. Anyway, as always on this account, if you don't like slash, or simply don't like Sirius and Remus in love with each other, feel free to turn back. The rest of you, enjoy.
Disclaimer: Remus and Sirius, et al., belong to JKR. I'm just playing with them for a while, and they shall be returned completely intact, none the worse for wear, and probably fairly happy.
Remus can't pretend he's happy with it. James may have agreed to let Sirius stay on with him, but James always agrees to mad schemes. Mr. and Mrs. Potter may have treated Sirius like a second son and told him he was welcome any time, but they love James, and so they love Sirius by association. Sirius's parents may have made his entire life miserable, but when Sirius ran away from home, Remus could not bring himself to be happy about it. He cannot possibly imagine running away from home.
Mostly, though, Remus is not happy with it because James' family is taking a trip to Ireland for the remainder of August, and Sirius needed someplace to stay, so he and Remus are lying in the thick grass of a Scottish hillside, staring at the clouds, and Remus is not happy with it.
"You'd never even think of going back?"
"No," Sirius says tiredly, and rolls away from Remus to stare into the sky. "I can't believe you could even think that."
Remus does not apologize, because they both know he knows about the Blacks. Part of the problem, Remus reflects, is that he knows Sirius at least as well as James does, but he does not have James' ability to joke on a whim and set everything lightly aside. He wants to say something, but there is nothing to be said.
"Let's talk about something else," Sirius suggests, still facing away.
"All right," Remus agrees, and cannot think of what to say. He is not happy with this, with Sirius being here, because there has been a strange distance between them. It started with that bloody stupid prank, because Sirius never bothers to think and he still believes that Severus Snape would have deserved it, should he have reached the Shrieking Shack and been bitten by a werewolf. Remus has been searching himself, trying to forgive, because having Sirius as a friend means everything, and even if Sirius is very stupid, Remus must forgive him. The prank was only a month before school ended, Remus's last transformation of his sixth year at Hogwarts, and he had been hoping to get away from Sirius for a while, to sort out what should be forgiven and what cannot. That Sirius chose to run away from home now, and that James must be on holiday this August, and that Sirius must come live with Remus for a month, is only unfortunate because the timing is very bad.
For example, Remus could have picked better timing to discover that he is very much in love with one of his best friends.
He's not entirely sure when it started. Perhaps it goes as far back as second year, when his friends told him earnestly that they would never abandon him for something out of his control. But the warmth and disbelieving happiness of that moment were for all three of them, equally, not for Sirius alone. Perhaps, then, it started the moment Remus watched Sirius transform into a huge, shaggy black dog. That, he knows, was the moment he realized Sirius loved him. James had done something so brave, so risky, simply because it was so; Peter had done it because it was exciting and he would have rather died than been left behind; Sirius had done it because he was bloody insane and he had studied one of the hardest known transformation spells for three years because he wanted to make things easier for Remus. That, Remus realized, that is love.
Loving a friend, though, is different from being in love with them.
Really being in love with Sirius had started roughly the middle of sixth year. When Remus began noticing the fall of Sirius's hair and the exact shade of his eyes, when Sirius would grin carelessly and the bottom would drop out of Remus's stomach without warning. When Remus would catch a flash of strange hunger in his own face in the mirror, a slip of something secret behind his eyes that proclaimed the utter madness of being in love with one's best friend.
Which is why, just now, Remus would rather have Sirius almost anywhere but where he is, sprawled beside him on the sloped grass of a Scottish hillside. Remus wants Sirius to be nowhere but here, and that is why it would be far better if Sirius were somewhere else.
"So," Sirius says into the stretching silence, "d'you have anything to talk about?"
My God, Sirius, yes, Remus thinks, and says nothing, just shrugs a bit, awkward when lying down. He stares at a cloud, which with a stretch of imagination could be dog-shaped.
"I don't know," he says. "I don't suppose you want to talk about school."
Sirius sighs exaggeratedly and rolls over again to face Remus. "What I don't understand," he says finally, "is why sometimes we can find thousands of things to talk about and I think I'll never get tired of you, and then we've got to go to class or something – and then here, we've all the time in the world, and I have no idea what to talk about."
"Sorry," Remus says rather helplessly.
Idly, Sirius pulls up a few tufts of grass and shreds them with studied absentmindedness. "S'okay," he says. "As much my fault as yours we're sitting around being bloody bored." He gazes up into the endless blue of the summer sky. "That cloud, what does it look like?"
The cloud that looks like a dog has vanished. Remus tries to figure out which bit of sky Sirius's weaving finger is attempting to point towards. "A couple of lumps," he says. "I don't know … maybe some sheep?"
"Those are obviously faces," Sirius says with amused impatience. "See? There's one nose, and the other mouth …"
"What," Remus interrupts, half-amused and half-exasperated, "are you telling me you're seeing cloud-people snogging?"
"That's a good boy, Moony."
Only Sirius, Remus thinks, with resigned wonder. One moment he is very bored and acting uncomfortably awkward; the next, he's talking about cloud pictures and people snogging within the same breath, and the latter is not a good subject for Remus just now.
"You're mad," Remus says decidedly, and is about to add something sarcastic about the perils of letting Sirius cloud-watch around small children when the other boy interrupts him.
"Ever done it yourself?"
"What," Remus says, half surprised and rather afraid he knows what Sirius is talking about, "been mad?"
"No," Sirius replies impatiently. "Though you're quite loopy."
"Stop interrupting, will you?" Sirius props himself up on his elbows and looks down at Remus with disconcerting solemnity. "I mean, there's something to talk about. Ever snogged anyone?"
Not this conversation, please, Remus thinks helplessly. "No."
"No?" Sirius looks rather surprised. "All right then, how about just kissing? Ever kissed anyone?"
"Besides my parents?" Remus asks lightly.
"Yes," Sirius says impatiently.
"Oh, I don't know, Sirius, what do you think?" Remus says. On his list of things to do today, lying around on a hillside with Sirius Black was not really near the top. And lying around trying to evade personal questions from the boy he's realized he is in love with didn't even enter into it. He props himself up on his elbows too, so that he will not have to gaze up at Sirius while saying this. "You don't see me showing off for the girls like James does, do you? I don't suppose it ever occurred to you that I don't want to get involved with someone who doesn't know I'm a bloody werewolf!"
"Yeah, but," Sirius says, looking faintly bewildered, "just because you kiss someone doesn't mean you're going to have some epic relationship with them, right?"
"Oh, sod you," Remus says with far less tact than usual, and flops back down.
There are a few seconds of merciful silence, and Remus stares up into the endless blue of the summer sky. There is a rustling, Sirius shifting position in the grass, and then Sirius is leaning over him, the ends of his hair, which he has been growing out, tickling the tip of Remus's nose. Remus has a moment to see that Sirius's eyes are, as always, a very wonderful clear gray color, and then he squeezes his own eyes shut.
"Sirius, your hair is in my face."
"Sorry," Sirius says unrepentantly, and doesn't move.
"You're blocking my light," Remus tries.
"That only works when you've got a book under your nose," Sirius says, amusement tingeing his voice. "Besides, how can you notice the light? Your eyes are closed."
"You can see light when your eyes are closed," Remus replies indignantly, and it occurs to him that the conversation is running itself in circles, going nowhere, and Sirius is not nearly distracted enough from the previous topic. Part of that problem, of course, being that with Sirius leaning over him, Remus is having a deal of trouble to keep himself from being distracted.
"Anyway," Sirius presses on, "since when does kissing equal epic romance?"
This is useless. Remus opens his eyes again; Sirius is still staring down at him, his head tilted sideways inquiringly. "Perhaps I spend so much time reading," Remus suggests, "that my silly brain has become firmly emblazoned with the notion that kisses mean rather more than random teenage hormones looking for an outlet."
"Ah." A slow grin slides across Sirius's face. "Explain that to Prongs."
"He'd call me absolutely barmy."
"Shame. And to think that status has been reserved for Wormtail all these years." Sirius is still grinning, propped on one elbow and leaning over Remus with his hair a wild black halo around his face.
"Yes, utter shame," Remus echoes, rolling his eyes. At least they are back on familiar ground, pointless silly banter, though he is still having a bit of trouble breathing properly.
"Anyway," Sirius says again, "are you implying that most of your reading material includes epic snogging scenes?"
"If your mental list of my reading material includes Dickens novels or Victorian detective stories, then most certainly not," Remus replies dryly. This is somewhat better; he is hiding again behind comforting, sensible fiction, the words on the age-softened pages protecting him from Sirius's intense gaze.
"And as for the rest of it?" Sirius wants to know.
"I refer you to Romeo and Juliet."
"Ah." Sirius finally rolls away again, to sprawl next to Remus on the grass like a careless puppy. "When in doubt, quote Shakespeare."
"I wasn't quoting, Padfoot."
"Soft, what light through yonder window breaks?" Sirius mumbles at the sky. "Only line from that one I know. Does Juliet glow, d'you think?"
"For Romeo," Remus replies thoughtfully, and realizes shortly thereafter that he is no further from the dangerous topic of conversation than he was five minutes ago. "Never mind that, what does that cloud look like?"
"A cloud," Sirius says dismissively. "So, why have you never kissed anyone, then?"
"I don't expect that's really your business," Remus says, and winces inwardly. There is nothing specifically wrong with his words, but their entire tone seems to strike a dissonant chord, hanging in the air between them. He says hastily, "Fair deal if you tell me first?"
Sirius laughs. "Okay then. Fifth year. James."
Remus sits up too quickly. "What?"
Sirius only shrugs. "He was mad on Evans since fourth year, remember? By fifth he had it in his head that she didn't like him because she somehow subliminally knew he didn't have any snogging experience. I was his guinea pig, see."
"Horrible," Remus says, but he is laughing now, either amusement or relief, he doesn't know.
"And you know what he said to me?" Sirius adds, his eyes glittering with suppressed laughter too. "He said, he could tell I was a boy even with his eyes closed, and that wasn't any fun at all. I pretended to get all offended, right, so he stormed off to debate whether he should practice on a few girls too or just wait for Lily to notice him."
Remus lies back down in the grass, still laughing a little, but he asks, "Did that bother you?"
"Nah." Sirius props himself up on his elbows. "I figured it was mostly the same as helping him with a prank. I know some of the girls like him, but I just can't see the appeal." His grin widens. "And he's a lousy kisser."
Remus bites his lip to keep from laughing again. "I hope you didn't tell him that."
"Of course not. I'll leave that one to Miss Evans."
"Ah." Remus flops back down. The day is really very beautiful, in fact.
"My turn to what?" Remus asks, because he might as well play innocent.
"To tell me about your first kiss. Or lack thereof, I guess."
Remus gives it due consideration this time, absently raking grass through his trailing fingertips. The simplest answer, of course, is I'm waiting for you, but he has few illusions about Sirius. They have been best friends for years, and though Sirius has shown no significant interest in girls, the way James and Peter have, Remus chalks this up to wishful thinking. Sirius hasn't shown any particular interest in boys, either. And Sirius is willing to spend time with him, laugh and joke, run with him on full moon nights, and Remus supposes that is love enough.
"I suppose," he says finally, "I really am being silly, and waiting for the right person, or some sentimental claptrap like that."
"What if the right person doesn't come?" Sirius asks, sounding genuinely interested, and not very much as though he is teasing. Remus risks taking a sideways glance at him; Sirius is still sprawled on the grass and looking at the sky, though his brow is slightly furrowed, rendering his features more thoughtful than is normal.
"Maybe they have," Remus replies lightly, "and we just haven't noticed."
He realizes, belatedly, that the we sounds exactly like it is. He had meant myself and this person, but replaying his words inside his own head, his sentence sounds very much like you and I haven't noticed, Sirius.
Sirius makes a noncommittal sound. "Learn to pay attention, then."
"Yes," Remus agrees.
A silence stretches between them. Remus can hear it echoing uncomfortably, but he knows enough about himself to guess that he is probably projecting the discomfort, and that, as far as Sirius is aware, it is an amiable silence, or a thoughtful one, or a detached break between one conversation and the next.
Sirius makes a sudden movement, rolling over so that he is on his side and mere inches from Remus. "You really have to wait?" he says.
At least five interpretations of this seemingly innocent query flit through Remus's mind; he finally settles in simply blinking at his friend with polite puzzlement.
"I mean," Sirius goes on, his words tumbling over each other, "if you go around just waiting for the right person, what if they come along, only their idea of the right person is an excellent snog on the first try? Then what?"
"Then they're not the right person," Remus replies decidedly.
"All the same," Sirius says, plucking distractedly at the hillside grass. "Don't you think you should practice some?"
Remus's breath comes short again.
Sirius is looking very nervous. "It's all right if you think it's a stupid idea, I guess, but I just thought I'd off – suggest it."
"What are you saying?" Remus says slowly. He is vaguely surprised the world hasn't begun spinning round him yet; proper breathing is certainly a thing of the past.
"I don't know," Sirius says, and laughs, a horrible little mirthless laugh. "Stupid, really. I mean, you're not like James at all. I mean, he's in love with Evans and he didn't mind snogging me just for the hell of it, and here you don't even have anyone to be in love with, so I suppose there's no one to practice for, so you wouldn't …"
"Is it," Remus says carefully, "that you want a bit of practice, in case you ever go out with any of those admiring girls?"
Sirius laughs again, the same short barking laugh as before. "Girls, Moony."
"Yes," Remus says mildly. "Girls."
Sirius gestures vaguely. "Want to know something about girls? When I was a kid, I learned that girls were mad, like my mother, or power-hungry, like my cousin Bellatrix, or cold, like Narcissa, and that there were all arrogant bitches. Girls."
"Oh come now, not all of them," Remus says in puzzlement. He's starting to get an inkling as to what Sirius is driving at, here, but this is too interesting to analyze quite yet. "They weren't all like that, surely. You liked your cousin Andromeda well enough by your own account."
"Yeah, and she was a tomboy as a kid. She was like … I dunno. Another boy, Moony. Like my older brother, or something, while Regulus was still being a whiny little brat."
"Well, surely you've revised your opinion on girls since then?"
Sirius shifts his shoulders uncomfortably. "Some girls are decent, I guess. But those are all the ones like Andromeda, right – the ones who don't give a fuss about their looks, or mine either. And here you're suggesting I go after some of those girls that admire me. I'd kiss the squid first."
"Ah," Remus says, his voice carefully treading the line between amusement and sympathy. His mind, meanwhile, is processing the relevant information – Sirius does not like girls.
"All right," he says, even more carefully. "So that bit of practice is for any interested boys, then?"
Sirius shrugs carelessly. "Don't know about that. I mean, bad enough I hang out with halfbloods and Muggle-supporters and think Voldemort is utter tosh … just think for a minute. How would they react if they learned I wasn't interested in carrying on the family name, either?"
"Rubbish," Remus says. "You ran away from home; who cares what they think?"
Sirius blinks, once. "Right," he says, very softly. "I forgot."
Remus's insides twist. He has, from an early age, been given to imagining what it might be like, to be someone else; a small child forced mindless and maimed every month must take refuge in something, and so Remus had read, read with feverish intensity until he half-believed he lived in those other worlds, inhabited the minds of those other people. He is good at it, still, putting himself in other people's shoes, but when he hears Sirius now, he does not want to. If he were, too, so inexorably bound to a family he hated … No, he would never want to be Sirius.
"I'm sorry," Remus says, though this is a completely useless thing to say.
"S'all right," Sirius replies, with a valiant attempt at a careless grin.
The pained grin, of course, must be what does it. There is no other way to explain why Remus would do what he does next, for Remus always keeps his behavior set within strict boundaries, an unconscious part of the way he is. He never forgets himself, never, so there is no other way to explain why Remus rolls onto his side too, there on the grass, so that his face is only inches away from Sirius, or why he says, "Want to get your mind off it, then?"
Sirius's eyes shift a little, to focus on Remus's face. "Moony," he says, carefully, in a sort of whisper, "what are we talking about, anyway?"
"Practice," Remus says, and waits.
An odd sort of relief comes across Sirius's face; some of the tension drains, as their words turn away again from his family. "So who is it, then?"
"You know." Sirius makes a sudden movement, rolling away from Remus and up, until he is sitting again, sprawled on the hill. Remus ignores a sudden, not altogether unexpected wave of disappointment at the loss of proximity, but he says nothing, and only sits up, too, as Sirius continues, "You know. The person you're waiting for, who doesn't mind you haven't the faintest idea how to snog properly, and probably doesn't mind you spend so much time reading, and … Anything else? Something about knowing that you're a werewolf?"
"That too," Remus agrees. His mind is functioning properly again, and he halfheartedly wonders why he was mad enough to bring the conversation back around to this, but maybe he wants Sirius to figure it out.
Sirius is, mercifully, annoyingly, not quite catching on. "There are probably a fair bit of people who won't mind the no-experience-with-snogging clause, at least," he says musingly. "And I think you'll get by with the spending-time-reading thing too, by a pretty big margin." The faint line appears between his eyebrows again. "Don't know how much luck you'll have in the last department, though. The list of people who know you're a werewolf is pretty thin."
"It is," Remus agrees again, mildly.
"Let's see," Sirius says. "Your parents know, but they're right out."
"Indeed," Remus says dryly. "And even if they weren't, my mum's been dead for a while, so it's a no go either way."
Sirius grins. "Point. Now, Dumbledore and Pomfrey also know, but I'm guessing neither of them are quite your types."
"Nor any of the teachers," Remus agrees. He cannot quite decide whether he should be thrilled or horrified; Sirius appears to be going through a litany of names, and sooner or later he is liable to come across the obvious conclusion.
"Right," Sirius says again. "That leaves … er. Snape. Don't tell me."
"Severus?" Remus says in surprise. "Good God, Sirius, he probably wants me put down."
"Yeah," Sirius says, with surprising soberness. "Sorry about that."
Remus blinks. That's the closest thing to an apology he has gotten.
"Anyway," Sirius continues, sounding rather relieved, "that just leaves – Peter?" He glances sideways at Remus. "He fills all three, doesn't he?"
"I suppose he does," Remus agrees, still mildly surprised. "But I don't suppose you've noticed, Sirius – Peter likes girls. Rather a lot. And Amy Prewett seems to like him back."
"Oh. Yeah." Sirius bites his lip. "I guess that means James is right out, too."
There is another silence, and this time Remus knows with certainty that the discomfort is not only in his imagination. Sirius gazes thoughtfully off down the hill, at the village below them in the valley.
"So," he says finally.
Sirius looks at him, now, the disconcerting gaze that Padfoot is wont to fix on people; not melting puppy eyes, but light and gray and filled with shrewd curiosity. "You know," he says, "I'd really like some sort of definitive answer, here. Either way we're still friends, but I'd like to know."
It would be entirely useless to say know what? but Remus is still tempted to say it, on reflex. Instead he says, more calmly than he expected to, "Yes, as a matter of fact, it is you."
A breeze rustles the grass around them. Nothing, Remus notes, seems to have changed; he still feels a sort of peculiar warmth, looking at Sirius, but he feels nothing more dramatic. This isn't a love confession, after all; it's merely a statement of fact. And Sirius is still just looking at him, unblinking, looking neither disconcerted nor enlightened.
"Ah," he says. "I see."
Remus looks at him curiously. "And?"
"And …" Sirius seems to fumble for a moment. "And – well. What does that mean, then, exactly?"
"That I rather fancy you," Remus says, which is another mere statement of fact. Panic, if it comes, can be saved for later. "And that I don't particularly expect you to do anything about it, because I think I've fancied you for a few months now and I didn't ever consider throwing myself at you. Because, you know, we're friends and that's good enough to be going on, I think."
"Oh," Sirius says, and frowns a bit. "Is it?"
"I think so," Remus replies, and tips his head back, staring up at the clouds again. The light has moved; the sun is beginning to creep westwards and set in the hills behind them, tingeing the sky whitish-blue and the clouds golden. None of them look like anything but clouds, but Remus concentrates on them anyway, because he is not sure what he feels just now, besides a sort of faint relief that he now has one less secret to keep.
"Why me?" Sirius asks rather helplessly.
Remus looks back over at him; Sirius's hair is shining darkly in the setting sun, and his face is puzzled, half in shadow.
"What on earth does that mean?"
Sirius bites his lip. "I mean, of all the people in the world – surely you might have thought that you'd find someone, and after a bit you'd know them well enough to tell whether or not they'd still love you if they knew …"
Remus blinks, and realizes, Sirius knows. Remus had, carefully, only admitted he fancied Sirius, because Sirius had said himself, either way we're still friends. No damage is done if one entertains thoughts of snogging one's friend and admits it, because that can be laughed off. This is different, and Sirius knows, because he said it, said still love you, and perhaps he does not even realize what he said.
"Anyway," Sirius rushes on, looking rather abashed now, "I can think of lots of people who are … are nicer than me, for a start. I mean, you deserve –" He sees the way Remus is staring at him, and stops.
"Don't tell me you're saying you're not good enough," Remus says, still rather unsure what to think. Currently his mind seems to be stuck somewhere between exasperated and gratified.
"Well …" Sirius trails off, stares at his hands. "I almost got you killed."
"Almost got Severus killed," Remus corrects, feeling rather as though the conversation has veered wildly off topic.
"And you," Sirius insists. "I'm not stupid, Remus; I've read up on werewolf 'rights', if we're going to be generous and call them that … If I'd been thinking, I wouldn't have done it, because who cares if Snape would be very nice in about a million pieces, it's not worth it for you."
Remus realizes, quite suddenly, why Sirius never apologized. It is a given, between himself and Sirius and Peter and James, that the four of them look out for one another; this prank, then, was a slip-up no more foolish than any night when Peter would trip on the invisibility cloak and James would be caught by Filch – merely a careless error, which does not betray the understanding between the four. Sirius never intentionally stopped looking out for Remus, and Remus knows enough about Sirius to realize that he will never stop thinking that Snape deserved what he almost got.
"It's all right," Remus tells Sirius now. "Nothing did come of it, and I'm still here."
"Yeah," Sirius says, in a voice that wavers slightly with relief, and he reaches a hand out and very lightly traces the line of Remus's jaw.
"What are you doing?" Remus says, in barely more than a whisper, but does not flinch away.
Sirius drops his hand quickly, his cheeks turning very slightly pink. "Sorry."
He is unwilling to apologize for nearly killing Severus Snape, and he acts contrite for touching Remus's face. The absurdity of it lands somewhere deep within Remus, and before he can stop it, he giggles.
Sirius gives him a very surprised look.
"Sorry," Remus gasps between giggles, and claps a hand over his mouth.
Sirius drags the hand away. "Shut up, Moony," he says, beginning to grin too, and leans in too close. If it were a Muggle movie, Remus reflects, trying to get hold of himself, now would be the time when Sirius would effectively shut him up with a passionate embrace and searing kisses. Though Remus doesn't know if Sirius has ever even heard of Muggle movies, the other boy seems to be thinking along these lines as well, because his grin is fading, and he is studying Remus's face very closely. Remus realizes that he has stopped giggling.
"What was that about, anyway?" Sirius asks.
"I don't know," Remus says, because he cannot quite remember what was so funny, anyway. "Nerves. Clouds. You."
"I'm an idiot, aren't I," Sirius says.
Twilight is beginning to creep up the hill, and the pleasant breeze of the afternoon is beginning to chill with evening. Remus shivers slightly. "I suppose so," he agrees.
"And you don't mind," Sirius says, and this is not a question either. "Moony. You're mad. Utterly mad."
"I suppose so," Remus says again.
Time slows, and they simply look at each other.
"You don't mind I read books all the time?" Remus asks softly.
"I borrow those books all the time," Sirius says, grinning faintly. "Can't afford to mind it."
"And you know I'm a werewolf."
"That I do, Mr. Moony."
"And …" Oddly enough, the panic that Remus has been expecting still hasn't arrived. He wonders vaguely if it was delayed at the train station, and has to keep from giggling again. No panic, then, but certainly nerves. Remus doesn't usually allow himself to be quite this silly.
"And," Sirius finishes for him, "neither do I mind that you've never snogged anyone."
"I might not be any good at it," Remus points out.
"That may be a good thing," Sirius says, still with the grin hovering at the edges of his mouth. "Because I'm still busy wondering why you'd choose me, of all people, so if it turns out you're a rotten snog, that might put my mind at rest about a few things."
"You're mad, too," Remus says, and it seems that that's all need be said on the subject, so he leans forward and presses his lips to Sirius's. Sirius tips his head a little to the side, and tangles a hand in Remus's hair, and nudges Remus's mouth very slightly open. Oh, Remus thinks vaguely, and then stops thinking for a while, and wraps his arms very tightly around Sirius's waist.
"No good, Moony," Sirius gasps, pulling back. "I'm out of luck entirely."
"What?" Remus asks, slightly dazed.
"You know how I said James was no good at kissing? I'm tempted to go right off to Ireland after him, and tell him, 'Prongs, see Moony here? He can kiss properly'."
"Oh," Remus says in relief. Sirius starts to say something else, but the first stars are coming out overhead and the hilltop is cold now, so the only practical course of action is to get as close to Sirius as possible and kiss him again.
"I really am an idiot," Sirius says sometime later, when they find themselves sprawled again on the hillside, the grass around them bent and crushed. It is impossibly warm now, despite that it is full night now and the lights of the village are twinkling merrily below them. Remus's shirt has come untucked, and the collar is bent entirely the wrong way; half the buttons on Sirius's shirt have come undone, and Remus doesn't remember doing that, but he has been very preoccupied and hasn't really been paying much attention to his hands.
"Are you?" he asks lazily. "Why on earth would you say that?"
"Should've done this months ago, that's why," Sirius replies promptly. "Months and months. When James went chasing off after Lily again, I sort of wondered who it was I'd been practicing for, and I couldn't think of any girls. And no offense to Peter, but Amy Prewett's welcome to him. So it's you, I guess. I spend all my time with you, anyway, now Peter's got a girl, and James has always been a little loopy."
Not exactly a love confession, Remus thinks wryly, but he is too warm and happy and disheveled to really care just now.
"If that's the case," he says instead, "why on earth did you go to James' place when you left Grimmauld Place?"
Sirius rolls over and stares at Remus as though he had just asked, Why is it necessary to breathe? "Because James is from an old, respected family," Sirius says, like this is the most obvious thing in the world. "And they've got lots of gold. If my family wants to make trouble, the Potters are up to it. Whereas you – well, it wouldn't be impossible to get you in trouble, not by a long shot. You're a werewolf, and I don't want you, or your dad, or Dumbledore, or anyone, into trouble because of me."
"I see," Remus says, and feels suddenly much lighter. He hadn't even known this was troubling him.
Silence stretches between them again, and this time, it seems to Remus to be the most comfortable, wonderful silence he has ever heard. He gazes up into the velvet-black sky, his eyes finding Orion's belt, then traveling down and left, until he finds the brightest –
"Did you mean it?" Sirius asks softly.
"That you've – that I'm … the right person. I mean. Is this the be-all and end-all, then?" He doesn't sound nervous, or upset, merely thoughtful.
"I really don't know," Remus admits. "That'd be lovely, of course, the fairytale ending, but things change. We're seventeen – and after we're out of school, we've got Voldemort to worry about – but we've managed to stay friends for six years running. That means something, I think. We'll always be friends, at any rate."
"But you want the fairytale ending?" Sirius says, and he sounds slightly anxious now.
"Nothing ever ends," Remus says, and smiles faintly, realizing he has managed to quote a few books with that pithy phrase. "I want …" he turns away from the sky, rolls onto his side to face Sirius, who is watching him anxiously, and catches Sirius's hand, twining their fingers. "I want to run with you every full moon for the rest of my life."
A word hangs between them, shimmering in the night air, and Sirius must see it, because he grins in relief, and tugs Remus closer and buries his face in the other boy's hair. "Prongs will have a fit," he mumbles.
"Prongs will have no right to, after molesting you like that," Remus laughs.
"I don't suppose he'd mind if one of us pretended to be a girl. I nominate you; you've already got a skirt."
"Kilt, you English twit."
"Skirt," Sirius says stubbornly, and will not relent, even after Remus tickles him mercilessly for a few minutes and he is weak with laughter. "I suppose," he says breathlessly, and giggles again, before going on in a more reasonable voice, "I suppose that, as long as we don't carry on snogging when James or Peter are in the room, neither of us need be a girl. Though it's still a skirt."
Remus lets this last bit slide, because the prospect of snatching kisses in between classes is a rather nice one. "Sounds like a plan."
"And a most excellent one, as it has been masterminded by Messers Padfoot and Moony," Sirius says in satisfaction.
Remus glances at his watch. "It's after eight. Dad will be wanting us down for supper."
"Right," Sirius says, and gets to his feet, then gives Remus a hand up. "Any idea what's for dinner?"
"None at all, though I'm sure I can promise some chocolate near the end of the meal."
"Lupin addictions," Sirius says, rolling his eyes, as they begin to stroll down the hill. "Utterly terrifying."
I've a new addiction, Remus thinks, watching Sirius's profile and the fall of his hair, but he says nothing of that aloud. Instead, he says, "Sirius?"
"Next time you go prying in my personal life, I promise to refrain from getting tetchy." They reach the bottom of the hill, and a paved road; Remus turns to the right and they head toward to Lupin cottage. He adds, "Don't ever give up prying, either; the results are absolutely wonderful."
"Yes, aren't they," Sirius agrees, and steals a quick kiss in the doorway, and they go inside the house.