I don't know how to say this. That's why I've got to write it, isn't it? When I'm around you, I feel like I can't breathe.

Remus stopped and cursed at the parchment, willing it to force his words to make sense. Writing this was more difficult than when he'd first told his friends about his lycanthropy. It was strange to find this more nerve-wracking than explaining his "furry little problem." How do you tell someone you're in love with them? Going back to the parchment, he took a deep breath and tried to call on some of that dormant Gryffindor courage.

I don't mean to make you feel bad when I say this. On the contrary. Whenever you're near me, there's a current of energy in the room. I can barely explain it. I'm sure you've felt it too. It gets into my bones so deep, I feel its loss whenever you're not around. There's a tension only you and I can feel, though it won't take much for others to catch on once I make my confession to you.

He paused again and looked around the bleak kitchen of Grimmauld place. What he needed was tea to calm his nerves and stave off the mid-April chill. Not bothering to summon Kreacher—who would probably do nothing but grumble at him—Remus put down his quill and went to the sink for water, slowly preparing his drink as he thought over the words again. Perhaps he wouldn't have to go far in his explanation. After all, Sirius had been understanding when he said he'd had to break off his fledging relationship with Nymphadora. Understanding because he knew the real reason why? Or simply because he knew Remus had been unhappy and hadn't wanted to give the young lady more reason to hurt?

It had been for the best. She'd smiled sweetly and told him she understood when he explained they could never make it work, but he could read the sadness in her eyes. She'd wanted something he could never give, no matter how much he tried to pretend. He wanted someone else he might never be able to have. Not if he didn't pluck up the courage to finally say what he'd been thinking for years. Isn't that what his friends had always encouraged him to do – show a little of the potential bravery that earned him a place with the lions of Hogwarts? Maybe they'd all sensed it, deep down. That was the thing with friends and secrets. They weren't always as far apart as one would like to think.

Remus sat again and read over the words he'd already composed. There was nothing left to say now but the truth he'd been struggling to come to terms with longer than he liked to recall.

I'm in love with you. It sounds crazy, doesn't it? Me, the mild-mannered, shaggy bum completely head-over-heels for the wildest character I've ever met. It's that wildness that draws me, I'm sure of it. The uncontrollable part of my own nature yearns to connect with the untamed part of yours. Fighting it is useless. If I'm honest with myself, I've felt the draw as long as we've known each other. Being separated from you…it could be a week or twelve years, but it will always feel like an eternity.

If I get the courage to give this to you, I hope you'll read this letter in the spirit with which it is intended. I love you. I don't expect anything more or less than we already have. Whatever your reaction to this news, your friendship is enough to sustain me. I won't lie and say that I wouldn't be disappointed, but if you don't feel the same, I can be content with nothing but the mild affection you've shown thus far. Indeed, your friendship is one of the brightest spots in my life right now and I hope nothing in this letter will lead to its loss.

With nothing left to add, Remus scrawled his name at the bottom and set the letter on the table to dry. He finished his cup of tea and turned his head towards the door, listening for the quiet footsteps of his friend on the stairs. He knew the letter was overly formal and romantic. If he was going to be blunt in his assessment, it read a bit like a Muggle romance novel. Still, it was honest. If Sirius needed nothing else, it was to know that someone in the world loved him. For a man whose existence had been reduced to being entrapped in the unhappy home of his childhood, Remus knew it was the best gift anyone could give. He only hoped it would be received.

The kitchen door opened behind him and Remus jumped, turning as Sirius stumbled in.

"How was your nap?" he asked.

Sirius offered a lazy half-smile. "I'm still up there in bed, I think. Any of the other Order members here?"

Remus shook his head. "I made tea." He pointed to the counter. When Sirius turned to the counter, Remus slid his fingers over the edge of the letter, unconsciously pulling it closer to him as he watched Sirius pour himself a cup. When the other man sat across from him, he offered a tentative smile. "Feel better than you did last night?"

Sirius drank down half his tea in one gulp. "No," he replied simply. "I can't imagine what's going to happen to Harry now that Umbridge is Headmistress." His shook his head; his thick, dark locks swirled around his ears. He placed a hand over Remus's on the table and looked his friend in the eyes. "I can't do anything for him. It's horrible, being helpless like this. I'm so worried, I can barely think about anything else. It's a wonder I get any sleep at all." He glanced down to where their hands touched on the table. "What's this?"

Remus blushed and pulled his hand away from Sirius. "A distraction from worrying over Harry, if that's what you need," he said. When Sirius looked at him quizzically, he added, "I've finally gotten the nerve to write something."

Sirius pulled the letter closer, still looking at his friend. "What would you need to get up the nerve to write?"

Remus paused before letting a small smirk touch his lips. "Remember when I told you Tonks had come on to me and I felt strange about it?" Sirius nodded. "I've finally decided to be honest about why I reacted that way," Remus said.

Sirius grinned. "And you've provided a written confession?"

"Something to that affect," Remus said. He cleared his throat. His mouth was suddenly dry. His palms had gone sweaty and his heart was starting to pound. He'd heard that extreme stress could possibly trigger a change; Remus found he had no wish to test that theory in the middle of his friend's kitchen. He needed to calm himself, quickly. "Why don't you read it and tell me what you think?" Remus asked. "I'll be…I need to go to the bathroom."

Without waiting for a response from Sirius, Remus escaped from the room and up two flights of stairs to the nearest decent lavatory. He splashed cold water on his face and counted to ten. Then twenty. Before he'd realized it, he was somewhere over two hundred and he could hear James somewhere in the back of his mind, taunting him for being a coward. Whoever heard of a werewolf afraid of talking about his feelings? James teased.

Indeed, Remus thought. I can do this. If it comes down to it, I could always claim the letter as a joke. Bad timing or not, Sirius would buy a prank from his friend. Right?

Delusion firmly in place, Remus descended the stairs slowly, pausing outside the kitchen door to listen for his friend's laughter. Before he could force himself to go in, Sirius pushed the door open, nearly running him over.

"You don't have to hide from me," Sirius said. He was grinning broadly. "The letter was beautiful, if not a bit sappy." His smile slipped a bit and he put a hand on his friend's shoulder. "I had no idea you felt so strongly."

"I…well." Remus blinked hard. This was not the rejection he'd expected. Sirius looked downright thrilled. "I worked at keeping it under wraps. Partly because I know how people might react to our relationship. Also, obviously, because I had no way of knowing if my feelings would be returned."

Still smiling, Sirius said, "I don't think that's something you needed to worry about. The letter had the desired affect."

Remus breathed a sigh of relief. Kissing him would be appropriate now, right? He leaned forward and was hit in the shoulder by the kitchen door as it swung open. Remus saw little more than a flash of pink hair before Tonks wrapped her arms around him and slammed him into the far wall.

"I love you too," she whispered.

Remus's eyes widened. Sirius grinned wider and threw him a thumbs-up.

Tonks leaned back, his letter clutched in her hand. "It was beautiful. I can't believe you were nervous about giving it to me." She looked up and he saw the tears in her light brown eyes. "Lucky for you, Sirius is such a good friend or I'd never have known how you feel about me." With a squeal, she leaned up to plant her lips over his before pulling him back into a tight hug.

One arm came around her and he caught Sirius's eyes again. As his friend grinned, Remus raised one hand and pointed to him. He mouthed the word 'you' and watched as his friend's expression went from confusion to surprise to what Remus could only guess was a kind of acceptance for what he'd attempted to say. Acceptance and a small measure of sadness. Flashing one last small smile, Sirius went back into the kitchen, leaving Remus in the hall with the girl who thought he loved her.

He closed his eyes. This was his reward for being a coward.