The Photograph

"Anyway, I don't think your friends would despise you for being gay. I mean, they accepted you being a werewolf so why would they leave you alone now? Don't worry, I think Sirius will be able to cope with the fact that you are in love with him. The two of you should just have a long talk and figure out how you want your friendship to continue if he really knows about it."

"You think so? He won't be disgusted?"

"I'm pretty sure of that. Just try acting normal around him."

Both feeling reassured, Lily and Remus said good bye and hung up.

Chapter 6- Hogwarts Express

The four marauders sat down in the compartment they always sat in on the Hogwarts Express. Peter chatted merrily about his holiday to Italy and James and Sirius told the others about the pranks they had started to plan during the holidays. They all wanted to play some of the greatest pranks during their last year so that the marauders wouldn't be forgotten at Hogwarts; even Remus didn't object to that.

Sirius and Remus avoided looking at each other, only to sneak short glances at each other, trying to see what the other was thinking.

After a while, James got up pulling Peter with him.

"I haven't seen Snivelly yet. Lets go and see what he is up to."

Sirius quickly got up to follow them but James stopped him immediately.

"No, I think the two of you should stay here, after all we don't want him digging in our trunks while we are gone. Besides, you should maybe be catching up with what happened during the holidays."

Sirius shot James a devastating glare, why did he have to hint at everything and not just leave it to him? Remus was sure to ask and then he wouldn't be able to follow his plan. Not that he had one, Sirius reminded himself. He should have written a letter when it was still possible.

James just laughed at Sirius' death glare and pulled Peter out of the compartment with him.

To Sirius' great relief, Remus didn't ask what James had meant. He didn't say anything and when Sirius finally dared to look at him, Remus was absorbed in watching the rainy landscape rush by.

Sirius pretended to be reading a copy of the "Quidditch Monthly" but he was actually thinking fervently about how he should tell Remus. Finally, he opened his mouth to say something when the door slid open and Peter, James and Lily entered.

James, who was holding a beaming Lily's hand, looked at them and shot Sirius a questioning look. Sirius shook his head slightly and James frowned a moment before announcing:

"Sirius, Remus, meet my girlfriend Lily Evans!"

Remus laughed.

"We know Lily, you don't need to introduce us but congratulations to both of you anyway."

They spent the rest of the train ride talking, James and Lily cuddling in the corner of the compartment though they both talked with the others. James reminded them of the time left of the trip once in a while and Sirius knew he was prodding him to talk to Remus but he couldn't think of a way to say anything.

Finally, after checking his watch once again, James declared:

"Quarter of an hour to Hogwarts. Oh, by the way Remus, we wanted to talk to you about something."

He looked at Sirius who jumped up.

"Don't you dare, James Potter!"

James continued without taking notice of Sirius' words but the others were staring at Sirius because of his sudden outbreak.

"What I was going to say, Remus, is that…"

Sirius grabbed Remus' hand and pulled him out of the compartment, hearing Peter and Lily ask what all this was about.

Sirius led a perplexed Remus through groups of students getting ready to leave the train until he found an empty compartment and closed the door behind them. For the first time since they had left their friends, he looked at Remus who was wide-eyed and nervous. Sirius noticed he was still holding Remus' hand and quickly let go.

"What was that about?" Remus asked confused.

"Sorry about that but I think we should sort this out without Peter and Lily as an audience and James sticking his nose into things that aren't his business. I wish James wouldn't be as observant as he has been lately. I preferred him living completely oblivious of everything around him, only interested in playing pranks and Lily. It's a wonder that the two of them are really a couple now…"

Remus relaxed as Sirius started rambling, then seemed to make a decision and interrupted him.

"Sirius, I think you said something along those lines yesterday. What was it that James wanted to talk to me about?"

"Oh… errr… please try not to hate me for this…"

"It would take quite a lot for me to hate you and I don't think James' eyes would have had that mischievous glint if it were that bad. Just tell me."

"Well, you know what we were talking about yesterday, about telling somebody that you're in love with them. It's just that… I mean… I can understand if you are shocked and everything… Anyway, that photo James took of Lily before the holidays: we were in the background and during the holidays James looked at it and… when I came over he asked me… well… he sort of blackmailed me… erm…before we get off the train… somehow he didn't want to give me that time…"

Sirius felt all the blood rush into his face as he tried to tell Remus what was going on. He quickly glanced at Remus to see how he was reacting. Remus was staring at him blankly.

"Sorry Remus, I can understand if you don't understand how I'm feeling. I'm sorry if I ruined our friendship by this. I can understand if you're upset about it, I shouldn't have let any of this happen and that I at least shouldn't have burdened our friendship by telling you but after keeping things secret for over two years now, it just had to be let out somehow. If you feel better about it that way, I can stay away from you. I'm so sorry about everything, I really am…"

"Sirius, I'm afraid I don't understand a word that you're saying. I told you I wouldn't hate you so calm down. What did James blackmail you with?"

Sirius took a deep breath. Why did it have to be so complicated? He was making everything worse with his rambling. He should just answer Remus' question and get over with it.

"James looked at that photo and I guess that I hadn't been aware of the photo being taken so I wasn't careful enough to hide what I was thinking and feeling at the time. Well, you know what magical photographs are like so James saw it. I don't know why he is suddenly noticing other things than his Lily and Quidditch…"

"So James could see what you were thinking and feeling when the photograph was being taken and he knew that it was something you wouldn't want others to know so he blackmailed you with this secret?"

"Yes. He asked me if what he had noticed was true and I confessed. James told me that if I didn't tell you about it before we get off the train, he would tell you himself. I wanted to talk to you about it yesterday but then Peter came and I didn't want to talk about it in front of him. I think James left the compartment with Peter because he wanted me to tell you. When I couldn't find the courage to tell you in spite of his constant reminders of the time left, he decided to tell you even though the time wasn't over yet. Sometimes I really hate him for being so persistent."

Sirius still preferred looking at the ground so he didn't see how unbelieving surprise spread over Remus face at the mention of Diagon Alley for a second before he controlled the emotions showing on his face.

"From your story so far, it doesn't sound as if James forced you to talk to me just because he wants to make your life difficult out of pure spite."

Sirius laughed.

"No, you know what James is like. He wants to help people but usually ends up making things even more difficult. I think I would have tried to tell you sometime in my own pace but thanks to James, I'm standing here trying to tell you and just making a fool of myself because I always end up rambling. I'm not sure if you know what it's like to talk to somebody who really means a lot to you about a subject that has been on your mind constantly for over two years. You can imagine a thousand ways of saying it but when you really have to, you can't because you have tried to keep it secret for so long and it has become your deepest secret. You can think of all the good reasons in the world for telling: that the person won't hate you because he has been your friend for years and didn't hate you even when you did things to him that were probably much worse, that he always accepts people the way they are, that he is trying his best to make you comfortable enough to say whatever you are trying to say, that you should tell him because the secret concerns him most of all and that it would only be fair to let him know. It doesn't help at all. You are still stuck and don't know how to reveal this silly secret."

Sirius finally looked up to look at Remus. He was standing there, looking at him as if he knew that there hadn't been many moments in which Sirius had been as open as he was now. Remus nodded and answered in a hushed voice, barely above a whisper.

"I know what it's like. I know it only too well."

"When you confessed to us that you are a werewolf?"

"No, that wasn't as difficult. I mean now."

"Now? I always thought that being a werewolf was your deepest secret."

"I thought so too but it turned out there are things I care about more."

Sirius laughed softly.

"Do you realise how absurd this entire situation is? We are standing here and are to too afraid to just tell each other what our secrets are. I mean, it can't really be that bad."

Remus laughed as well.

"You're right. It can't possibly be as bad as worrying and talking about how difficult it is, especially when I've got the feeling I already half know what this might be about."

"You do?"

"Well, I have a guess but if it is something totally different I would feel terribly stupid."

"It looks like I'd better just tell you what I've been trying to tell you all along: I'm in love with you and have been since around that story about Snape finding out."

"Well, it looks like we've been all nervous about telling each other the same thing. I love you too."

They leaned towards each other to kiss. Before their lips met the train's brakes screeched and they tumbled apart and fell onto the seats. Sirius laughed.

"We needed full fifteen minutes to say those few words and then we're interrupted by the stupid train. I can't believe our bad luck!"

"We'll be able to wait a bit longer, I guess. It would have been even worse if we'd never told each other. But I guess the friends we have wouldn't have permitted that, Lily knew how I felt about you and was urging me to tell you. I guess now that she and James are a couple, we couldn't have kept our feelings secret from each other much longer."

"Trust our friends to play match-makers whenever they have the chance to! Lets go back to them, I'm sure they knew all along that we both liked each other back and they're probably already imagining all kinds of things why we are needing so much time!"

The two of them quickly went back towards the old compartment but their friends were already waiting outside by the carriages for them. Lily and James grinned broadly when Sirius and Remus joined them.

"I hope there's no need for me to tell Remus?" James asked as he punched Sirius playfully in the arm.

"I bet you knew all along that it wasn't only me!" Sirius replied, trying to look angrily at James as they got into the carriage.

James took out the photo.

"Watch Remus on it. It's pretty obvious."

Remus and Sirius looked at the photo as the Remus on the photograph gave Sirius a look full of longing.

"I guess you're right about that!"

They laughed and Peter, who had just climbed into the carriage as well, shot another photo as Sirius put his arm about Remus.

Thanks once again for all that reviewed! I hope you liked the end of the story. I'm trying to think of a couple of new stories and I have a few ideas but not much time to write them down since I have a very busy week ahead of me (I should be learning German now: four hour long test/exam tomorrow) and the week after that I'm in Croatia with my best friend (wow, I'm traveling so much this year!).

I'll try to find some time in between anyway and I might have one or two shorter stories to post next weekend but don't get your hopes too high.