The Unknown Want Chapter Three Disclaimer: It's taking J.K. even longer than it took us to write anything new, so we don't feel bad playing with them. Warnings: Boys in love swear a lot. Also, you know, SLASH AHOY!

Shine! shine! shine!

Pour down your warmth, great sun.

While we bask, we two together. Two together!

Winds blow south, or winds blow north,

Day come white, or night come black,

Home, or rivers and mountains from home,

Singing all time, minding no time,

While we two keep together. -Walt Whitman, "Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking"

The glare of morning sunlight against his eyelids brought Sirius into reluctant consciousness. He could feel a headache hovering, waiting to pounce. He screwed his eyelids tighter together in protest, burrowed his head deeper into his oddly silky pillow and tried to go back to sleep. This felt nice. This felt better than nice. He'd never felt so completely peaceful upon waking before- the impending headache notwithstanding. His arm tightened around the figure next to him, and he drifted back off into a light doze.

He managed another few minutes of peace before a snuffle from the figure next to him jolted him, rousing a vague shock of recognition. What the hell had happened last night? He tried to force his brain to think. The bed underneath him was clearly not his own; from what he could tell, he wasn't wearing his robes, and he was tightly curled around an unidentified bedmate. He had a strong feeling that his mother would not be proud of him right now. His brain swam and smarted. Well, he wasn't as concerned about this as he should be, he concluded finally. Despite the encroaching hangover, it was too cozy to commence with the morning after recriminations. But he was now undeniably awake, and as reluctant as he was to disturb this pleasant status quo, he tried to make himself remember what had gotten him here.

Damn.

One extremely awkward dinner with Remus and Natalia. Check. One humiliating public break-up. Check. Oh, he definitely remembered that. He cringed in recollection. Frantically, he groped for any memory of subsequent events. He'd been at the pub, and there was some Firewhiskey, right. And then he and Moony... Moony. Jesus. He was in bed with Moony. He wasn't just in bed with him, either. He was adhered to him, head to toe. Involuntarily, his eyes popped open. A shard of pain shot through his skull, and he pressed his face into Remus' shoulder, trying to block the merciless morning light. He blinked a few times to focus, and found himself looking at a curtain of soft brown hair, gently moving in time to his own breath.

Remus' breaths were slow and even, and Sirius saw no good reason to wake him. Besides, he'd never been this close to a completely peaceful Remus. He looked so tousled and relaxed. He found himself breathing in the same rhythm, as if the dissonance of an unsynchronized breath would disturb him. He really wasn't going to move anytime soon, he realized with faint shock. He wasn't planning to get out of this bed at all...and that wasn't...maybe he shouldn't... and then it was too late. He was asleep.

The next awakening was far more jarring and immediate.

"Awk," Sirius half yelped, most of his breath stolen by the sharp elbow in his ribs.

"Wha-" Remus had evidently turned over in his sleep and rolled right on top of him. He watched Remus' eyes blink twice and focus.

"Um, Good Morning?" He ventured. The smile that was his reply stopped his breathing as effectively as the elbow had. A totally spontaneous, full faced smile he'd only seen on the rarest of occasions lit Remus' face. It made him aware of every hair on the back of his neck.

"I'm sorry- I didn't mean to-" Remus stopped. The smile slowly faded from his mouth, but the light didn't leave his eyes.

Seconds ticked, and neither of them moved. Dimly, Sirius thought this was odd. One of them should be at least chagrined. Maybe even horrified. Moving would be good, too. The silence was getting very long- one of them should say something.

Perhaps he should blink.

Seen at this distance, Remus had a lot of green in his eyes. He had really nice eyes.

He drew in air in preparation to speak.

"You have really nice eyes." His cheeks went hot. Wow. Well, that wasn't what he'd meant to say at all. He couldn't look Remus in the eye, didn't want to see his reaction to that. But the proximity of their faces left very few other places for his focus, and his eyes dropped to his lips.

One of them should really move. Why wasn't Remus moving?

He could see that Remus' lips were shaping words, but he couldn't hear them. He wasn't sure if this was because he wasn't making any sound, or if he just couldn't hear it above the pounding of his heart in his ears. Those lips were nearly as nice as his eyes. And if he leaned up just a bit, he could touch them with his own, which wasn't really an idea he was having so much as something he already seemed to be doing. Remus' head mirrored his, his clear eyes turning slightly cloudy. Remus, it seemed, was having a similar idea.

The brush of Remus's lips was so soft it tickled.

"Christ!" Sirius jackknifed, throwing Remus up and backwards. "Christ!" He scrambled off the edge of the bed. "What in the bloody hell was that?" He scrambled on the floor for his robes. They were still slightly sodden, but it seemed important to have a layer between him and what had almost happened.

"I think I'm still drunk. I mean, I'm obviously still drunk." He heard himself blither. "We're clearly pissed out of our minds..." He looked up from fumbling for the neck of his robes to see a stone-faced Remus clothed and heading straight for the door.

"Hey! Where are you going?"

Remus didn't slow, or turn, or look at him. Sirius had a sudden flash of deja vu. Oh no. Not again. Still half crouched, he launched himself at the door a second before Remus reached it. He managed to block the doorknob, his arm still only halfway through his sleeve. What the hell, he thought. It's not like I have any dignity left.

"Don't do this." The snarl was well masked by precise consonants.

"Do what?"

"I don't want to have to move you."

"What, you mean our new hobby? Go ahead. Throw me around a little. The room is pitching already."

"Shut up! Jesus, Sirius! Don't you ever shut up?" There was a note in his voice that made Sirius search out his eyes. Remus was almost completely absent from his eyes- it was the Wolf that Sirius was looking at, now. Sirius had never been so frightened in his life.

It wasn't the simple fear that the Wolf would rip him to shreds. He understood that fear. He felt it still, sometimes, but it was a clean fear, one that didn't bother him anymore than the fear of being killed on his motorbike.

He didn't want to look at it anymore, but Remus' eyes would not let him go.

He wants me, he thought. But that was too small.

Mine, said the eyes that held him.

Oh my God, oh my God, ohmygod, his mind babbled. Yours, yes. And then: I don't know him at all. Their friendship...Remus himself...was just a thin veneer over this fathomless, primal thing. He wasn't supposed to see this. This was ruining everything. This was ruining him.

But it didn't matter.

The Wolf- was claiming him. No, worse, he thought- had already claimed him; he'd just never confronted it before. Not from inside Remus, pouring out from his eyes. Something inside of him acknowledged this claim on him, made peace with it. The Wolf was still capable of tearing him to pieces- eating his heart from his chest cavity and enjoying it. It wasn't the violence that Remus could inflict upon him that had turned his body to stone and his stomach inside out. Remus could do anything to him. Anything.

And he wouldn't stop him.

Not couldn't.

Wouldn't.

And without thought, as if there was never any other choice, Sirius bared his neck and waited. The space of two heartbeats passed, and everything Sirius thought he understood and trusted lay suspended in them.

Moony. Remus. Padfoot. The Wolf.

Remus broke his gaze abruptly with a choked sound, but Sirius remained where he was, his gaze still frozen and his heart hammering.

He felt hands on him, moving him, and he marveled at how gentle they were. Perhaps, he thought, he won't toy with me before he.

Sirius shut his eyes. He felt Remus' touch leave him, and he waited in a vacuum of inevitability. Yes, he thought, and Oh God, please.

The sound of the door closing behind Remus felt like a blow. He let his watery knees give and sank to the floor.

*** 'This is pointless', Sirius thought, after his fifth Apparation of the hour. He was currently in a Quidditch pitch in Sussex he rather liked. In the past few hours, he'd been in Muggle London, Hogsmeade, the street in front of his flat, and a rather staggering variety of strip clubs, none of which he'd actually entered.

By this time, all this random Apparating was sure to have rung a few bells at the Ministry. He was also quite certain a crowd had gathered at the Department of Magical Transportation and they were laying odds on when and where this idiot was going to splinch himself.

Himself, he was betting that he had one good go left in him before his arse was in Surrey and his head somewhere near Yorkshire.

"Sod it all," he said belligerently, and popped into the garden at Godric's Hollow.

Sirius gave himself a thorough visual check to make sure he was entirely intact, and then plopped down in Lily's herb garden. The only thing he was entirely certain of at this point was that in two days from now he was supposed to be the lynchpin in a spell that would ensure the safety of his best friend, his wife, and his godson, and he was utterly incapable of such a position of trust. He wasn't his own man. If he'd learned anything this morning, it was that.

His stomach clenched. The Remus of this morning bore no resemblance to the Remus he thought he understood. There was a canyon of darkness inside him about which he knew nothing. The fact was, he didn't know Remus at all. He didn't know himself.

He'd never felt so entirely empty before.

He'd always been so careless of everything; so certain that he and his small circle were untouched by the evil raging around them. It battered at their windows, it snatched up loved ones around him, but those inside were inviolate. He'd had faith that together they could keep it all at bay. He'd never once contemplated the possibility that the evil had been with them all along.

Even when Dumbledore had warned them there could be a traitor close to them, and insisted they move up the date of the Fidelius charm, he'd never for a moment entertained the idea that it could be one of his dear ones.

But now, he could only hear Remus saying, "I think sometimes that you forget I'm a Dark creature, Padfoot. But I never do." And now that he'd faced that darkness, he couldn't deny it any longer.

"What are you doing? You've crushed all my sage, and half the dill." His head jerked up at the sound of Lily's voice.

"Sirius? You look terrible. My God, what's wrong? What's happened?" Her voice shook.

He choked on a laugh. "I don't know. Maybe you can tell me."

"Is everyone all right? Nothing's happened to anyone, has it?"

Sirius sketched a helpless gesture in the air and laid his head on his drawn up knees. Heedless of her robes, Lily dropped to the dirt beside him.

"You're really frightening me, Sirius. Please."

"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry." He looked up into her pale face. "No, everyone's fine, for all I know. Which seems to be shockingly little, I've recently discovered."

She let out a small exhalation of relief. "Well, you're obviously very far from fine. Come on. Get up out of the dirt and come inside." She rose to her feet and brushed the dirt from her skirt.

"Come on." She extended her hand to help him up. Sirius looked at it blankly for a moment, and then shrugged and let her pull him to his feet.

"What's going on, Sirius?" She opened the door to the cottage and ushered him inside.

He looked around at the cozy cottage that had been the headquarters of their friendship since Hogwarts. His home, really, although he didn't live here. It all looked different today. The edges were sharper, the shadows more pronounced. It took all the strength he had not to cry for the loss of the illusion. He dropped into the closest chair.

"You're going to have to use Peter. I'm no good to you as a secret keeper. I've been...compromised." He let out another mirthless laugh.

"What? How? What happened, Sirius?" Lily's voice was sharp.

"I wish that I could tell you. But I'm not sure that I understand it myself. All I know is- Lily, are you absolutely certain that I'm loyal enough- strong enough- to bear this kind of responsibility? You're really willing to put your family's life in my hands?"

"Yes." Her answer was firm and immediate.

"How can you be sure?" He looked directly into her green eyes, which met his unwaveringly. "Because I thought that I knew, too. But it's very clear to me now that I was both blind and a fool."

"Whom?" Her tones were impatient. "Whom are you talking about? You're frightening me, and I want you to stop this cryptic nonsense and tell me what is going on."

He took a deep breath. "I think Remus might be the traitor."

The crack of flesh upon flesh reverberated throughout the room. Lily spoke with deadly calm precision.

"I will not allow you to say that in my home. Never dare do it again, Sirius - are we clear?"

He nodded mutely, his cheek stinging.

Lily's glittering eyes softened. "Sirius, our last- our only- defense is our friends. I need you to be strong for me.for Harry.for all of us. If we start to turn on each other, then Voldemort has already won."

Sirius' face crumpled. "Lily.I.oh, god, I'm sorry. I'm so sorry," he mumbled. He ran a hand roughly over his jaw, unable to meet Lily's eyes. "I don't know what's happening to me. I feel like I'm losing my mind!" Leaning forward, he rested his head in his hands.

Lily shook her head. "Sirius, why.why would you suspect Remus? I don't understand."

He groaned from between his laced fingers. "Neither do I!" Sirius looked up earnestly. "I'm sorry, Lily. More sorry than I can say, honestly."

She moved toward the sofa, settling lightly next to him. "I know you are." She smiled softly, and he smiled gratefully back at her. "Did something happen between you and Remus?"

He got up and walked to the window, staring out at the ruined herb garden. "Have you ever thought about the fact that Remus is a Dark Creature? That his existence comes from Dark Magic?"

Her answered surprised him. "Yes, Sirius. I have. I've thought about it ever since I learned his secret. And I've always wondered how he was able to bear it. It's a terrible struggle for him, Sirius. You, James, and Peter have never really thought about it that way. At first it was an excuse to break the rules, and then it just became a fact of life. You're so impetuous, so heedless. You took the leap into friendship and then never thought about him in any other light. And he needed that, too, to be accepted in such an uncomplicated way. But it's not that way for Remus. Everyday his good nature fights against the wolf, which is trying desperately to get out. He would never hurt any of us, Sirius. Not on purpose. It's his greatest fear, you know. He fears hurting an innocent, especially someone that he cares about."

Sirius whirled back from the window, the words bursting from his lips in a torrent. "What if he tried? And what if I couldn't stop him? What if I didn't want to stop him?" He stopped abruptly, turning back to the window.

Lily grabbed his arm, and twisted him toward him. Her voice was deadly calm. "What? What are you talking about? What happened between the two of you, Sirius?"

He shook his head. "He was different, different than I had ever seen him before. I felt.strange. I felt."

"What, Sirius? Keep going."

He shook his head again, vigorously. "Forget it. It doesn't make any sense. Not in the light of day like this."

Lily reached up, and turned his face to her. "Sirius. I have watched you and Remus ever since you were little boys and I know you. Tell me what you're feeling."

He couldn't look at her and say it, but he couldn't stop himself from saying it. He spoke to the floor. "He owns me, Lily. He looked at me, and it was like I'd never seen him before in my life. It was as though, all these years, I was in the middle of a friendship, and he was..." He stopped and cleared his throat. "And I never knew. I had no idea."

She reached over and put her hand on his. "And that felt like a betrayal."

"I...yes."

"Did you ever think that maybe he was trying to protect you?"

"I don't need to be protected from him! I don't want to be protected from him. He had no right. If...that's how he felt...if..." He faltered. "Then that was my business just as much as his, and...God! I don't even know what I'm saying anymore."

Gazing steadily at him, she moved the hand that still held hers to his chest. "Yes. Yes you do. Tell me what's in here, in your heart. And don't be afraid."

A rushing was sounding in his ears, and Sirius drew in an unsteady breath before speaking. "I feel.possessive. And possessed, at the same time," he started, haltingly. "I need.to be around him all the time and I'm anxious when he's gone. I think I." He trailed off, uncertainly.

"You think you.?" Lily's voice was barely above a whisper. "Finish it, Sirius. Do it."

The knot in Sirius' stomach twisted like a knife, and his heart seemed to be frantically trying to beat its way out of his chest. "I think I'm.in love with him, Lily. I think I love him."

He was startled at the ease with which the words slipped from his lips. They were already gone before he could even comprehend their meaning. His wide eyes met Lily's grinning ones. Laughing, she threw her arms around his neck and kissed his cheek.

"Oh, Sirius. I've been waiting so long for you to realize it!" She clapped her hands together. "But there's somebody who's been waiting even longer."

Sirius' brain was still racing, and he barely caught her words. "Wait. Wait! You've been waiting for me to realize.and he's been waiting.?" He looked up at Lily. "Remus is.I'm mean, he's.with me?"

"Yes, you idiot, of course he is." She laughed.

Suddenly, he had a picture in his mind of he and Remus in their own flat. He and Remus in their home, safe and together. A home, like Godric's Hollow.

"Oh, God, Lily. The charm." His buoyancy was gone. How could he forget how fleeting this could be?

"You can't do it, Sirius."

"Oh, now I can't be trusted?"

"I trust you implicitly, you know that. But your loyalty is to more than just James and I, now, and that's as it should be. Peter will be more than willing to stand in your stead. He's free of entanglements, and he loves us dearly. He's already offered more than once. I'm so happy for you, Sirius, and don't worry. We'll be safe."

"Are you sure? Are you absolutely sure?"

"Go home to Remus. I promise you it will all work out as it should."

Suddenly, the events of the day came flooding back to Sirius. He jumped to his feet.

"Moony! Oh, god, Lily. I was such an ass this morning. He's never going to forgive me."

"Oh, Sirius. I think when he hears what you have to say, he's definitely going to forgive you," she answered, laughing.

"I've got to go!" He kissed her quickly on the cheek and headed for the door. He stopped, and turned back to her. "Lily.thank you. Thank you."

She smiled. "You're welcome, Sirius. Now, go! Know yourself, know Remus, and don't be afraid."

He returned her smile. "I won't. Not anymore." He turned and ran from the room, shouting good-byes to Harry and James over his shoulder. Lily heard the soft pop of Apparation, and stood looking into the garden for a long time.

"Harry, does it look all clear in there?" Lily looked toward the doorway, and saw her son's black curls peering around the corner. James' disembodied voice came from behind the wall. Harry giggled, and clapped his hands. "I'll take that as a yes." He entered the room, carrying Harry, and looking curious.

Lily laughed, and Harry responded, reaching toward her with chubby hands. She took him, and kissed his head as he snuggled against her. She took James' hand and led him to the sofa. "Sit down, love. There's something I have to tell you."

***

Sirius popped into the back courtyard of his flat, and promptly tripped over a bicycle. He barely noticed his skinned knee- his eyes were on the windows of his home. The lights were on, thank God. Remus was home, and he took a moment to be thankful for that. He didn't want to waste any more time. While his world continued to rearrange itself around him in a way that finally, finally made sense, the undercurrent of urgency had turned into a steady hum of now, now, now, now thudding in his ears.

What was wrong with him? How had he not known this...thing, this essential, wonderful, undeniable thing? Remus. Him. Him and Remus. He'd been an idiot for...Christ. Maybe ten years. He dashed up the steps and grabbed the doorknob.

"Moony, mate. You're in love with an ass."

***

From his bedroom, he could hear the front door thudding into the jamb. He tightened his fingers on the robe he was folding until it creased in his hands, but he kept on neatly matching seams, shaping it into a perfect rectangle. He deposited it in the open trunk at the end of his bed. He had to prepare. Any second now. Any second Sirius was going to come careening through that door, and-

"Moony!" His black hair was windblown, and there was a streak of dirt across his cheek. He forced his eyes back into the half filled trunk. He didn't need to look at him. His energy seemed to coat the room with a film of electricity, and not looking at him was not making him any less aware.

He picked up another robe, and resolutely began to fold. Just concentrate, he told himself. One task after another. You're almost done, and then you can leave, and then you...

He didn't quite manage a perfect rectangle.

***

He wouldn't look at him. He fucking wouldn't look at him.

"You're packing."

Either Moony thought that was self evident, or he wasn't talking to him, either. He ran his hand through his tousled hair and dropped himself on the end of the bed. He'd almost forgotten about this morning. Well, no, of course he hadn't forgotten about this morning, he'd spent the entire day doing nothing but dissecting it.

But he'd changed the ending, and Remus had no idea.

"Don't leave. You don't have to leave. I mean, there's no reason. I know. I mean, I know. I figured out a lot of stuff today, and - "

He'd better still love me, he thought. It would be just my luck if he fell out of love with me on the day I fell in love with him. God, was I unforgivable this morning? Surely I've been a bigger prat than that before and he's forgiven me- I mean, if he loved me through that punk phase, what's a small homosexual panic attack?

"Please still be in love with me." Why didn't he have any control over what came out of his stupid mouth?

Remus slammed the trunk shut and strode over to the closet. Sirius winced.

"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I mean...I love you, too." He jumped to his feet and followed him. "I'm in love love with you. Could you please look at me?"

Remus brushed past him on his way to the chest of drawers.

***

Remus' stomach churned. He can't mean it, he told himself. You know how Sirius loves. Intensely. But rarely for longer than a month.

Break your heart now, and you might not be completely destroyed. It's better this way, he counseled himself. He'd never intend to ruin you, but you know he doesn't mean it. Not the way you need him to.

This will only end badly. So end it now.

***

"Are you in there?! Are you listening to me at all?"

Every time Sirius tried to intercept him, to force him to look him in the eye, Remus mechanically changed course around the tiny bedroom. It was beginning to make him feel slightly ridiculous.

"This isn't fair, Remus. This isn't how you treat a friend. I know you're mad at me, but you could at least acknowledge my existence."

Remus began to fill a box with the assorted photos and toiletries on the top of the bureau. Sirius watched him for a minute, hoping that he'd give up this pretense and talk to him. Remus completed his task in total silence and turned toward the trunk, resolute.

Sirius stepped in front of him. Remus was now hemmed in by the bureau, the wall, and Sirius, who plucked the box from his grasp. He tossed it on the bed.

"You won't listen to reason," he said by way of apology, and then Remus' head was cradled in his hands, and his lips were making his argument.

Remus was completely still, but he tasted good, and felt good, and when Remus gasped, he slid his tongue in his mouth. And then Remus wasn't still anymore. He was clutching his robes, and sucking on his lower lip. He'd never felt anything like this before. He closed his eyes and hung on.

***

Oh God. Oh God.

He wasn't strong enough for this. He wanted to climb inside Sirius; he wanted to live in this electrical, beautiful moment.

It was so hard to remember that he couldn't have this. You can't have this. He wrenched himself away and stumbled against the bureau.

He had to get out.

***

He watched as Remus shakily pulled his wand from his robes and tapped the trunk. His chest was heaving, and his breath came in shudders, but it lifted off the floor and floated toward the door. Remus followed it.

"Please. You can't keep doing this. Don't leave." He marveled that his voice was steady. He was going to hit something, or cry- something completely embarrassing. "You may doubt me, or think I'm crazy, but you can't leave. You'll tell yourself it's over, and you'll never see me, or you'll see me and you'll be pleasant, like I'm just a person you knew once. And that'll be it. You'll never come back to this. I know you- you won't let yourself do that. And then it's over before it starts."

Remus hovered by the door, but he wasn't going through it, so Sirius walked toward him.

"Let me explain it, okay? Just let me tell you everything and.and plead my case. And afterwards, if you still don't believe me.well, I won't stop you. Agreed?" Several long moments passed, and then Remus nodded curtly.

"Agreed."

Sirius exhaled a breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding. His heart began to throb painfully inside his chest. He was acutely aware of the fact that the entirety of his life's happiness rested precariously on his oral report skills.

Sirius cleared his throat. "First off, let me just say that I'm really sorry that it took me so long to come around. I've been a daft prick and I'm sorry." He paused, searching Remus' face for a reaction. Nothing. "Second, I want you to.no, I need you to know that this didn't just happen tonight. It's always been there, right in front of me. I just didn't know how to put the pieces together. I love you, Moony. I always have. I just...didn't know it yet." Remus grunted and looked away. "Or maybe I did and I was just afraid.I don't know. I'm sorry I wasn't brave enough to figure it out until now."

He stopped again, waiting for some sign from Remus that he was on the right track. Still nothing. A spark of irritation swept through him. Was the man made of stone? Sirius grabbed a nearby chair and planted it firmly in front of Remus. He sat and leaned forward, resting his elbows in his knees. I know you think that I'm impetuous and stupid and that I'm going to wake up tomorrow and have regrets. But do you want to know the only regret I'm going to have? It will be the fact that I've waited so long to tell you this and the fact that I've wasted so much time with people who meant nothing to me.when all along." He broke off as the words caught in his throat. Remus opened his mouth, and then closed it again, as if unsure what to say.

Sirius stood up abruptly, and walked away from the sofa. He turned back to Remus and their eyes locked for a moment, before Remus looked away. He dragged his hand through a tuft of black hair. "It's funny, you know. Looking back on school.a lot of stuff makes sense."

"What do you mean?" Remus asked, warily.

"Do you remember those green robes you had in Sixth Year?"

Remus thought for a moment, before nodding slowly. "Vaguely. Why?"

"I liked them. I always told myself it was the material, or.something. But honestly, I thought they made you look..nice." He shrugged sheepishly. "There's other stuff like that, of course. I could tell you more.if you want." He felt his cheeks flush at the thought of sharing some of the more personal experiences. Damn, the man was making him blush.

Remus smiled softly and shook his head. Sirius moved quickly, crouching down on the floor in front of him. "That's what I'm trying to explain, Remus. It's little bits and pieces of information that I just couldn't put together in my head. And now, finally, I've got it all worked out and." He paused and slowly put his hands over Remus' folded ones. "Please don't punish me because I took so long to get to this place. I love you, Moony. And I want you...I want you more than anything I've ever wanted in my life."

***

Remus wouldn't allow himself to let out the breath he was holding. His brain was swimming. It was impossible. It didn't make any sense. But here was Sirius, his large hands warm and strong on Remus' own, staring back at him expectantly. And for a moment Remus allowed himself to slip... He indulged in the thought of a life where Sirius' hands weren't just on him tonight, but every night, and the terrible empty uncertainty that Remus had been carrying his entire life was a thing easily swept away by a pair of winking brown eyes.

But he knew better than anyone that things weren't that easy. He pulled back his hands slowly and folded them in his own lap. "I know that you think what you're feeling is real. But it isn't. You're confusing wanting and loving. You fall in and out of love twice a day, Sirius. But this is it for me. You can change your mind in two weeks...but I can't. Do you get that?" Remus felt panic setting in. He needed Sirius to understand, to see that this was more than he would be able to bear...couldn't Sirius see that this was the thing he'd been waiting for his entire life?

Sirius shook his head furiously. "That's not fair, Remus, and you know it! Do you think any of this is bloody easy? You think I'd be doing this for a little...Christ, do you really think I'd use you like that?

Remus felt a flash of guilt. But he had to steel himself against the inevitable hurt, didn't he? He'd rather spend the rest of his life alone than have it all end as painfully as he knew it would have to. His heart gave a sudden twist as he took in Sirius' wounded expression.

"Not on purpose, Sirius. I know you wouldn't. But you're not thinking clearly...you're confusing-"

"I'm not confusing anything, Remus." Sirius captured Remus' hand again and slowly rubbed his fingers over Remus' knuckles. "I think that for the first time I'm actually clearing some things up." His voice was ragged and the look of blatant desire in his eyes forced Remus to his feet. Backing away from the sofa, all he could think of was finding escape.

"I can't do this, Sirius. Please don't do this to me." He wished that he could keep the desperate tone out of his voice, but his resolve was weakening and if Sirius didn't stop looking at him like that- he knew what Sirius wanted, it was coming off him in waves and Remus almost felt light- headed with the scent.

"I guess I didn't think," Sirius muttered.

Remus felt his heart give another ugly twist. But it was better that Sirius have his seconds thoughts now, before things progressed...wasn't it? Was this really better somehow? He was having a hard time imagine what could be worse.

"It was presumptuous, I suppose, for me to think that I could just show up declaring my love and expect you to feel exactly the same. But even if you think that this isn't what you want right now, it's not going to change how I feel." Sirius' voice faltered on the last few words.

"What?" This was not at all what he'd been expecting.

Sirius put out his hands, pleading. "Just let me finish. I just want you to know that I'm not giving up. I love you, Remus and I'm going to prove it to you if it takes me the rest of my life. This is not the end."

Remus could feel himself losing the few precious bits of control he had left. "Do you think that I don't want all of this? That I don't want to just say yes, yes, I love you too, and I want everything?" He realized that he was shouting, but it didn't seem to matter any longer. "Of course I love you. Of course I want you! But we can't...I can't. I'm...I'm afraid."

"Then don't give up on me, Moony!" Sirius leapt to his feet and closed the expanse between them in two strides. He stopped in front of Remus and stood silently for a moment, studying him. Then slowly and deliberately, Sirius slid his hands along either side of Remus' face and leaned forward until his lips barely touched the outer curve of Remus' ear. "You can trust me, Moony," he whispered softly. "You can trust me with all of it, because I know what it means. It means forever, Remus. It means I want you to claim your mate."

***

Mate.

Remus felt an intense rush of exhilaration. Claim. Mate. The words rang through his head and a powerfully possessive urge surged through his body. Something primal was stirring inside him and he doubted that his weary mind would be able to fight it.

And he knew that he wasn't even going to try.

Sirius stepped back and stared at him, silently waiting for Remus to respond. "Are you sure?" Remus whispered hoarsely.

His voice was steady. "More than I've ever been about anything."

Remus reached out ,and Sirius moved toward him automatically. Their lips brushed gently and Remus felt strong arms slipping around his waist. And as their mouths met in deep, frantic kisses, one thought sang Remus' head.

Mine.

Sirius sighed softly, and leaned forward, resting his forehead against Remus'. They stood silently for a moment, and Remus wondered how long it would take before he was able to breathe again. Judging from the look on Sirius' face, it would be some time. The heady scent of Sirius' excitement filled his nostrils and desire went coursing through his body.

He wanted Sirius and it was a delicious victory to know that he was going to take him.

His mate.

His.

Forever.

***

Remus awoke in much the same fashion as he had the morning before; only this time when he rolled over onto Sirius, he was immediately pulled down into a passionate kiss. By the time Sirius released him he was flushed and breathless.

"Hi," murmured Remus sleepily. Sirius curled up beside him, and propped his head in his hand.

"Hi." He was grinning so widely that Remus couldn't help but smile back. "I've been watching you. You know, you're really cute when you're sleeping. You look about twelve, and you snore."

He considered arguing with him for a moment, but instead he rolled back over on top of Sirius and silenced him with another kiss.

He was going to love getting used to this.

***

AUTHOR'S NOTES:

HC: So, in the time it took us to complete this chapter, two Harry Potter movies have been released, they've debunked the food pyramid, and my hedgehog Seamus passed from the earth. This chapter is dedicated to his memory. May flights of angel hedgehogs sing you to your rest, my sweet prince.

Lally: Well, things really fell apart when Sweaty Ron moved into my house. I had to spend a lot of time showering with him. There wasn't much time left for writing.

HC: And then there was all the time I had to spend hiding in Canada while I got that whole extradition mess straightened out. But look! It's done now! You just finished Chapter Three! Woo!

Lally: The One True Way rides again! Woo!

HC: So, we gotta thank a bunch of people. Firstly, all y'all with the incessant nagging? Right on.

Lally: Mad props to Lele and Gretch, our intrepid beta readers and research assistants. You guys rule the school for a multitude of reasons.

HC: Thanx, thanx, thanx to the kewlest girls in the world- you know who they are. They all live at the Quill.

Lally: And as ever, our undying love and affection for the best Erik in all the world.

And now... coming in the fall of 2005...The Unknown Want: Chapter Five.