There's an awkward sort of blind hesitation, like the first time they ever dared such an intimate exploration, though both of them remember the countless tangled secrets they shared in the Shrieking Shack in the early hours, when moonlight left the earth ragged and scarred.

And there is no reason to stop as Sirius' hands drift vaguely down his back, uncertain and trembling just a bit, because he is no longer the reckless, daring boy he used to be – he shakes with fears he has swallowed for so many years, but now they choke him.

There's white roses on the windowsill and he feels something breaking, brittle bones or skin snapping, stretched too tight to stifle the panic that lumps in the pit of his stomach.

There's a quiet noise in the back of his throat as Sirius' hands brush over tender bruises—

They fumble to make contact as the sheets twist around them, entangling, they're trapped in each other.

There's the quiet pounding of rain and he feels this is all he has left.

There's a stiff and uncertain silence and he tries to remember what it was like to feel hungry.

There's a silent moving photograph in the room of two boys in black and white print, a captured image repeating the same motion of smiling and pointing at something beyond the observer's view, something off in the distance – perhaps James executing a perilous Quidditch move or maybe a far-off rainstorm misting on the horizon – but it was never long before the boys' eyes would drift back and catch on each other and their cheeks would flush, just a little. Such an intimate impression in the photograph but it is lying under the bed on the floorboards, whispering under the dust that lingers on its surface.

There are so many repressed whispers and smothered memories in this house, beating with dull persistence like a dying butterfly's wings.

it seems almost an illusion but the glittering clear-cut glass vase full of swaying roses teeters on the edge, like a hallucination of pleasure half-imagined, and shatters

Soon – too soon – it is morning and he leaves Grimmauld Place before the grey dawn descends.