Sirius stared across the room. There, in the corner, was the perfect man. With hair as black as the night sky, thick, muscular arms, and smooth, unscarred skin, he looked like Remus's anti-thesis. He was perfect.

He was older than Sirius, with a few wrinkles already forming in the corners of his eyes. Sirius shrugged off the thought, and focused on the differences between the man and Remus. The man was wild and fun, and his eyes had a malicious glint Sirius would never see in Remus's gaze. Realising that he was still thinking of Remus instead of the attractive man, Sirius slammed back the ale he held in his hand and left the glass on the bar. He stood, moving to the other side of the room, to the man.

If it weren't a gay bar, Sirius would have been a bit apprehensive about approaching the man. Instead, he sidled up next to him, invading the man's personal space. The man appraised him, eyeing Sirius as if he were a wild animal. Sirius knew he looked young. He grinned widely and threw out a hand for the man to shake, making the first move in an attempt to hide his age and insecurities.

The man's smile was toothy, and it reminded Sirius of a sneaky fox. The man introduce himself as Tony and shot Sirius a glance that made him feel less like a person and more like a plate of meat. Still, he looked back at Tony steadily, holding his own even as he wondered what he had got himself into.

The man nodded toward the back room, and Sirius's heart began to beat double time. This was what he wanted, needed. He had never thought it would be so easy to get. He quirked an eyebrow at Tony, and sauntered off into the dark part of the bar. It was easy for him to pretend the sex was nothing and to keep his inner fears hidden from the world.

Tony was falling behind, so Sirius stopped and looked over his shoulder, smirking salaciously at him. "Are you coming?" he asked naughtily, stressing the last word on purpose.

Tony's eyes lit up, and he moved closer. "I certainly hope so," he purred into Sirius's ear, making him tremble. Sirius told himself that he shuddered because it felt good and not because of the fear the man's words evoked in him.

Then Tony pushed them forward, into the room and against the wall. Sirius's chest was pressed against the plaster; he craned his head back to look at Tony.

The man sneered at him. "You want it rough, against the wall, slut?"

Sirius stiffened, and then he pushed himself away from the wall. "Dirty talk won't do it for me," he murmured, knowing the man wouldn't believe him. He fumbled to regain the upper hand. "I do hope your cock is as big as your mouth."

Tony groaned and pressed against him. "God, kid, you've got a mouth on you." His hands rose to Sirius's shoulders. Sirius thought, for a moment, that Tony was going to kiss him, and he turned away. Tony chuckled darkly and pushed him to his knees instead. "I want you to put that mouth to good use."

Sirius stared as he unbuttoned his pants. Then Tony's hand was on the back of Sirius's head, pulling it forward, and Sirius surrendered to the moment. He pleasured Tony, ignoring the fact that his own body wasn't reacting at all, and forced himself to focus.

Tony finished, and he tugged Sirius up by his hair. He groped for Sirius's cock and snorted when he found him flaccid. "Took care of yourself already?" he asked, but Sirius knew he didn't want an answer, didn't care whether Sirius actually got off or not. Tony nodded at him and wandered back out to the bar. "See ya around, kid," he called back over his shoulder.

Sirius waited until he was out of sight and then slumped back against the wall, cringing as he landed in a puddle of something. There were other men in there, doing what he had just done and more, but he ignored them, letting his mind blank out. This was not his first time in this bar, in this room. He kept coming back, night after night, searching for something to fill the hole inside of him.

Instead, all he found was emptiness. His encounters with men always ended the same way—Sirius collapsed somewhere, his heart and mind both blank. Yet, he liked feeling this way because it meant he wasn't thinking about Remus.

James woke up as Sirius slowly pushed the door open.

"Where've you been?" he mumbled sleepily, a yawn practically splitting his face in two.

"Bathroom," Sirius muttered, and it was the truth since he was just in there cleaning up after his night out.

James shook his head. "Don't lie to me. You've been gone for ages."

Sirius shoved James over in his bed and crawled in with him. "Excuse me for wanting a wank."

James wrinkled his nose. "Eww. Keep your hands off me then. No, just get in your own cot."

"It's hard. Don' wanna," Sirius said, the alcohol in his system catching up to him. "I washed my hands too. Nothin' wrong with 'em."

James reached over and cuffed him on the head. "You're drunk as a skunk. My parents will kill you if you've been in the liquor cabinet."

Sirius shrugged and pressed himself closer to James. James was safe. He was in love with Lily, and he didn't know Sirius was gay. Sirius could cuddle closer without James complaining. Peter wouldn't let anyone near him, something about a "personal bubble", and Sirius couldn't get close to Remus anymore—it was too tempting. So, Sirius snuggled up against his mate and pretended he was happy.

"'Night, Padfoot," James said as he snuggled in too.

Sirius thought James understood his need to be touched. His mother used to kiss him, back before he was sorted into Gryffindor. His father used to pat him on the head, long before Sirius refused to study the Dark Arts. His brother used to hug him when they were younger, far before Sirius turned his back on his family. James knew about these lost touches. Sirius thought he understood.

"'Night, Prongs."

Usually Sirius waited a week before going back to the bar. Remus sent him a letter though, and Sirius ripped it open and read it the moment it arrived.

Remus said that he missed Sirius and James, he wished school would start sooner, he met a cute girl the previous week, and they were going out for dinner that night. Sirius wrote back and said that he hardly missed Remus--"you prat", he didn't want school to start for another millennium, and he hoped Remus had a good time with his new bird. His hand shook as he wrote the lies.

He owled the letter and then told James he'd be back soon. James sighed but waved him off. Sirius slipped on a leather jacket and boots before he left, not looking back as he shut the front door behind him.

He walked to the bar, since he still didn't have his Apparition license, and it was opening just as he got to the door.

The bartender gave him a nod and his normal ale, and then left Sirius in peace. It was only one in the afternoon, and the bar was deserted, so he sat and sipped his drink and forced himself to think about any man but Remus.

The man who entered the bar after Sirius was a blond, blue-eyed nancy-boy. He was the opposite of Tony, yet he was nothing like Remus, and that was what really mattered.

It took hours and more than a few drinks for Sirius to convince the man to join him in the back room. Sirius didn't know his name, so he called him "sweetheart" and "love" and sweet, sugary names that Remus would never tolerate. Sirius pressed him against a wall and pushed his hand down the man's trousers. He buried his face in the man's shoulder and sucked on his skin, leaving a red welt anywhere his lips touched. The man tasted like stale sweat, his cock was tiny, and Sirius wasn't aroused, but Sirius couldn't see anyone besides him at that moment, and that was what was important.

The man shuddered and slumped against him. Sirius yanked his hand from the man's pants and wiped it off on the wall as well as he could, ignoring the thought that many other men had probably touched the same place with the same thing on their hands. The man reached out for him, but Sirius pulled away.

"I've... already taken care of it," said Sirius quietly, and even though it was a lie, it irked him when the man laughed at his supposed lack of stamina. He used his annoyance as an excuse to snarl and walk away, and he walked out into the bar, past everyone, till he reached the door. He opened and closed it calmly, but once he was safe from the eyes inside of the bar, he took off running.

There was a small playground at a school near James's house. He scaled the fence around it, and then he climbed onto the slide. It was so short that he could stretch out on it, his feet on the ground and his head at the top. He laid there and let the darkness surround him.

His thoughts were blank. He was in bliss.

James had always known that Sirius wasn't happy at home, so it surprised Sirius when he asked him to explain why he ran away. Sirius told him about his parents, the Dark Lord, and Regulus. He didn't tell him about Remus and the faceless men in whom he hid his feelings.

James shook his head, as if he didn't believe those were Sirius's only reasons, but he didn't question him. Sirius was grateful. He didn't want to explain that it had been his mother's words about homosexuals that had finally made him leave.

It was hard to think about Remus but it was harder not to think about him. Nothing made Sirius happier than getting an Owl from him, or meeting him for lunch in Diagon Alley with James. He savoured every word Remus wrote and carried his most recent letter around in his pocket all day. At night, he tucked the letter under his pillow and tried not to worry about the fresh scars he had seen on Remus's arms while they were in Obscurus Books.

On the night of the full moon, he stared out the window until the morning sun rose and saved Remus from the pain Sirius knew he must have suffered. He never went to the bar on a transformation night. As much as he wanted to forget about Remus, he would never betray him by doing that. Full moon nights belonged to Remus.

Sirius would do anything for Remus. That was why he filled his mind with strange men. As long as Sirius had the men, he couldn't think about Remus. He couldn't dirty his friend with his thoughts.

His mother had always said that homosexuals were the worst blood traitors. Even the wizards and witches who married Muggles and Muggle-borns had a chance of giving birth to a magical child. Queers could give birth to nothing but the end of the wizarding race. They were dirty and despicable, and they deserved nothing. Sirius knew she was right and that being gay meant he would never have a child.

He was dirty, in that sense, but it didn't change his feelings. He tried to forget about Remus, to date girls, but it didn't work. Sirius had realized his feelings after he was called to the office and informed that he had almost got Remus expelled from school. His prank on Snape was supposed to be just that, a prank, but it got out of hand. Sirius took his punishment in silence, stunned by the idea of what he could have cost Remus. What he had almost cost himself.

The thought of Remus being forced to leave school, leave Sirius, had entered his mind. Sirius's heart had ached, and it took him a while to realise why. When he did, he threw himself into his detentions, pretending he had never thought of Remus that way.

His mother would have called him dirty, and she was right. He could destroy the people close to him far too easily. He almost destroyed Remus, after all. Sirius refused to let his queerness hurt his friends, so he pretended it didn't exist except when he was groping men in dark corners of the Muggle world.

Sirius had almost hurt Remus, and he wouldn't let it happen again. He buried his head in the sand and pretended he was okay, even when a day without a letter from Remus sent him fleeing to the bar and a day with a letter only sent him there sooner. He wouldn't dirty Remus. He loved him too much for that.

Sirius carried on at the bar right up until the night before he was to leave for Hogwarts. That night there was another young bloke in the bar, around Sirius's age. He was thin, with brown hair and eyes, and a preppy outfit. His hands fumbled on the table before him as if he wanted to hold something, like a book.

Sirius knew it was dangerous to approach the boy, but he did it anyway. The teenager, Eric, blushed when Sirius mentioned the back room but followed him. Sirius did what he usually did, pressing Eric up against the wall and shoving his hand down Eric's pants. Incredibly though, he found himself growing hard. In the dark room, the shadows on Eric's face looked like scars, and Sirius traced one shadow with his tongue. It felt like smooth skin, and he pulled away, disappointed.

When Eric reached for Sirius, he didn't pull away as he usually did. Even after the boy came, Sirius continued to let Eric touch him. Eric spun them around, pushing Sirius up against the wall and twisting his hand just right. Sirius cried out and came.

"Remus," he murmured, and the boy shot him a dirty look, pulling his hands from Sirius's trousers and wiping it on Sirius's shirt.

Eric stalked away from Sirius, calling behind him, "It's bloody rude to say the wrong name, mate!"

Sirius's mind was still muddled from his orgasm, and he watched Eric walk away with pain in his heart. That's what Remus would do if he ever found out how Sirius felt.

Sirius sat there on the floor for a good hour, just thinking. Other men came and went, but he ignored them. All he could think of was what just happened, but the memories weren't numbing him like they usually did. Instead, they were inflaming him, images of Remus being superimposed over Eric in his mind. In his imagination, when he licked the scar on his partner's face, it felt like a thin ridge of harder skin. When he called out Remus's name, Remus moaned back. When he sunk to the floor, Remus fell down with him, cuddling up against him.

It wasn't until one amorous couple managed to step on Sirius's legs as they walked by obliviously that he realized where he was. He stood and tried to clean himself up, but he only succeeded in getting more grime everywhere. Finally, he walked out of the room, ignoring Eric's glare, and into the street. He walked to James's house slowly, images of Remus floating through his head.

He would see his friend the next day. He would spend a whole school year watching him from afar. He would have to hide his feelings from the world. Even knowing all of this, just the thought of being near Remus made his stomach squirm happily.

He snuck into James's house, stripped off his clothes, and crawled into his cot. James didn't even stir, and Sirius closed his eyes. It had been dangerous to take that boy to the back room. The only thing he could think of was how much he wished it had really been Remus.

Sirius clutched the distorted memories to his chest as he slept, refusing to let them escape. He dreamt dreams of Remus and scars and shadows.

Sirius hugged Mrs. Potter. "Thank you," he said, not enumerating on why he was grateful.

Mrs. Potter just smiled and squeezed him tighter. He knew she understood that he was trying to say: thank you for letting me stay in your house, eat your food, and impose on you totally. Thank you for saving me.

He leaned into the hug for a moment more, imagining it was his mother holding him tight, and then pulled away. It was a stupid wish, he knew, given that his mother hadn't hugged him since he was five because it wasn't proper for Black's to show public affection.

His mother's admonishments against it had driven Sirius to hug everyone once. He had grown used to casual touches and had hugged anyone and everyone. Until Peter developed his personal bubble rule and James informed him that Lily thought James was gay because of the hugs, so Sirius wasn't allowed to hug him in public anymore.

Remus was the only one who still let Sirius hug him, and he was the only one that Sirius didn't want to hug. When Remus hugged him, it led to dangerous thoughts. Sirius couldn't stop himself from falling into the hugs anyway.

So, when James and Sirius boarded the train and found Remus had already grabbed them a car, Sirius burst into it and swept his friend up into a hug. Remus returned it, and Sirius wished he could hug his friend all of the time. It was far too soon that he had to pull away.

James and Remus shared a more sedate handshake, and Peter muttered about his personal bubble when Sirius offered to shake his hand. Sirius rolled his eyes and collapsed into the seat next to Remus. He wanted to lean on Remus, like he used to, but he held himself upright. Hugs when greeting each other were one thing. Lying on his shoulder like a lovesick girl was another.

The train ride to school was comfortable and normal. Even when Remus spent half an hour telling them about how he managed to get his summer fling to go down on him, Sirius had remained nonchalant and upbeat, regardless of how much he wanted to lock Remus in one of the train's bathrooms and show him how good a blowjob could be. His stupid bint had used her teeth! Sirius was far, far better than she could ever be.

He kept his thoughts quiet though and pretended that he was jealous of Remus for getting oral sex. In reality, he was far more jealous of the girl for getting to give it to Remus.

He thought he had covered up well, but as they were climbing off the train, Remus pulled him aside.

"Is something wrong?" asked Remus.

Sirius gulped.

"You can tell me. No matter what it is," Remus said. He looked at Sirius with gentle, caring eyes. Sirius wanted to fall into them and never leave.

Sirius shook his head. "I'm fine really." He was just madly in love with Remus, that's all.

Remus frowned. "If... if you say so."

Sirius didn't dare speak, not unless he wanted all of the wrong words to come tumbling out. Instead, he grinned at Remus and tugged him back over to where James and Peter were holding a carriage for them. He promised himself something though.

Sirius promised himself that he would not let his perversions touch Remus's life. It was bad enough that he was in love with his friend. He refused to let that fact hurt Remus. He'd already been hurt far too much in his life.

Within a week of classes starting, Sirius heard whispers of Aaron Marsh getting caught in a broom closet with Evan Rosier. Rosier was a Slytherin and of no use to Sirius. Marsh, on the other hand, was a Ravenclaw sixth-year, quiet and, usually, discreet.

He was also tall and muscular with darkly tanned skin and dark brown eyes. Nothing like Remus, who was always a bit pale and gangly looking, he was just what Sirius wanted.

All it took was a careful conversation in a deserted classroom, and Sirius had a new distraction. While James spent his evenings trying to get into Lily's knickers, Sirius gave Marsh hand jobs. If Peter disappeared when they were supposed to be studying together, Sirius snuck into Marsh's room to give him a blowjob. And every time Remus winked at him and walked off with a girl on his arm, Sirius pulled Marsh into the Room of Requirement and let him fuck Sirius into oblivion.

Everything was going fine. Remus had no idea what Sirius was doing. Marsh didn't mind all of the sex, and Sirius actually found himself aroused by the other boy at times.

Then Marsh started getting a bit demanding. He wanted sex when he wanted it, even if it meant Sirius had to lie or sneak away from his friends. The sex was harsher too. Sirius had to do a lot of research in the library to learn the healing spells he used to cover his bruises.

It was what he needed though. He was dirty, perverted, disgusting. His mother used to spank him when he came inside in filthy clothes. Marsh just served as his punishment for being this kind of dirty. At least, that's what he told himself.

It's what he was telling himself when Marsh told him to strip in the middle of the Potions classroom one evening. It's what he repeated in his mind when Marsh bent him over Slughorn's desk and tied his wrists to the corners. It's what he chanted silently when Marsh took him without any preparation and only a little lube.

But it wasn't what he was thinking about when he came harder than he had ever come in his life.

Instead, he was thinking of Remus. Remus, who opened the door to the potions classroom and stood watching, open-mouthed, until Sirius came with a cry so harsh it hurt his throat. Remus, who turned and ran, slamming the door behind him and breaking Sirius's heart into a billion tiny pieces.

When Sirius went back to Gryffindor Tower that night, Remus was waiting for him.

"What the hell were you doing?" he hissed.

Sirius flinched and looked away. "It was nothing. Just sex."

"With a boy? Tied to a desk? In a classroom?" Remus reached out as if to touch his shoulder, but Sirius pulled away. "I just don't understand. Why...?"

Sirius snorted. "Why? Because I'm a bloody pervert, that's why."

Remus gaped at him until Sirius shouldered past him and up to their room. "Goodnight, Moony."

"...goodnight, Padfoot."

"What do you mean by pervert, exactly? Is it just that you like being tied up? That's not very perverted. Not really. I mean, well... I'd do it. Um, with a girl."

Sirius stared at Remus for a long time. Images of Remus tied to the corners of his bed while Sirius rode him flooded Sirius's mind.

"No. It's not that," Sirius answered finally.

Remus frowned and looked back down at the books lying on his bedspread. "Do you get off on almost being caught then? Because that's not that perverted either. I mean... it's kind of a thrill trying to hurry so, um, your dorm mates don't catch you wanking. Right?"

Now there were more images of Sirius and Remus, rushing to pull each other off before Peter and James got back from dinner, in Sirius's head.

Sirius opened and closed his mouth a few times before he managed to make any sound come out. "Can we not talk about this? Please?" he whined.

Remus bared his teeth and growled, and Sirius sighed but subsided. Padfoot had always considered Moony the alpha of their "pack" and Remus knew it.

"I'm trying to be supportive, you bastard. Now tell me. Why are you a pervert?" His voice carried a hint of an alpha command, and Sirius shuddered. That tone of voice never failed to turn him on.

He picked at a spot in his sheet that was a bit frayed, wondering if he could poke a hole in it. "It's because I'm... gay. Alright? I'm a bloody pervert because I like being buggered! See? It's disgusting, right?"

He didn't watch to see what Remus was doing. He couldn't take seeing a look of disgust on Remus's face. He heard papers rustling, and then Remus's feet hit the floor. Sirius's stomach churned. Merlin, had he disgusted Remus so badly he couldn't stand to share a room with Sirius? Was he going to leave?

The footsteps grew closer though, moving away from the door. Remus's shoes appeared in Sirius's line of vision, the scuffed toes stopping a foot from his bed. Sirius closed his eyes. Was Remus going to hit him? His mother had never failed to smack him after he had confessed a wrongdoing. He hadn't expected Remus to do anything like that, but he supposed it was only to be expected.

He heard more papers rustling, and then the bed sank down next to him, putting Sirius off-balance so that he fell against Remus. He froze, waiting for Remus to scream, shout, or hit him. Instead, a pair of arms came around him and pulled him even closer. Remus rubbed one hand up and down his back, petting him.

"Where did you get an idea like that?" asked Remus.

Sirius didn't dare move. He didn't want Remus to stop touching him. He thought he was about to lose his best friend forever, and instead he was getting hugged by him.

"Sirius? Why do you think it's bad to be gay?"

Keeping his eyes squeezed shut, Sirius spoke softly. "Gay wizards can't have children, not if they don't pretend to be straight and marry a woman. And the wizarding race would die out if people didn't have children. So, it's wrong. It's dirty and perverted and wrong because I should be chasing girls and trying to make babies with them."

Remus's hand stilled on Sirius's back. "Where did you learn that?"

Sirius shrugged. "It's just common sense. My mother said it was wrong, and for once, she was right."

"No, she wasn't!" Remus squeezed him tightly, and Sirius felt like he would fall to pieces if Remus let go. He wanted Remus so badly, but he couldn't have him.

"She was. It's disgusting, and I hate feeling this way. Why couldn't I be normal? I tried to like girls. I tried to date Bertha Jorkins! I just don't feel anything for them though."

Remus sighed. "It's normal. Really. There's a Muggle researcher in America who says that ten percent of the population is gay."

"Sure. Ten percent of American Muggles are gay. What about on our side of the pond? What about wizards? I'm sure there are fewer wizards than Muggles, since there are so many Muggles." Sirius tried to pull away, but Remus wouldn't let him. "It's not right. It's wrong!"

Remus snickered. "Yes, right and wrong are usually opposites."

Sirius opened his eyes and shoved at Remus. "Shut up!" Remus broke into laughter and fell backwards on the bed, pulling Sirius down along with him. Sirius was startled for a moment before he began to laugh too.

Remus continued to hold Sirius close even after they had calmed down. Sirius tried not to snuggle into his friend's side, but he moved ever so slightly closer. Remus didn't hate him. Remus didn't think he was dirty. Remus still liked him... in a friendly and very platonic way.

Sirius breathed in Remus's scent, wanting nothing more than to stay where he was forever.

Knowing that Remus didn't hate him for being gay made things somewhat easier and a whole lot harder. Sirius was happy that Remus had accepted him, but Remus had grown standoffish since their conversation.

When James had burst into the room while they were still lying together, Remus had jumped up and away from Sirius. Sirius had tried not to be hurt, but it hadn't worked. He and Remus used to lie next to each other all of the time, and James had never cared. Why couldn't James see them together now that Remus knew Sirius was gay?

In fact, after Sirius came out to Remus, it seemed like Remus was afraid to be around him in public. In private, Remus was happy to hug Sirius or sit next to him in one of their beds and do homework, but in public, Remus never touched him, not even letting their fingers brush together when he passed him pumpkin juice or a quill.

Sirius hated it. He tried to forget about what had happened between them. He tried to bury his emotions in sex, as he had over the summer, but things weren't the same anymore. He handled it though, until the next Hogsmeade weekend.

Everything was normal. James was chasing after Lily, Peter was grumbling quietly to himself, and Sirius was walking along with Remus at his side. They did their shopping at Zonko's and Honeydukes, and then headed to The Three Broomsticks. Then everything changed.

James followed Lily and her friends to their table, and Peter and Sirius slid into the seats on either side of their normal booth while Remus went up to the counter to grab them all butterbeers. When he came back, he paused for a moment before sliding into the seat next to Peter.

Remus never sat next to Peter. Never. He had always sat next to Sirius, saying that it was necessary to "keep him under control". He handed out the butterbeers he was still holding nonchalantly, while Sirius watched him with hurt in his eyes.

It must have been a lie. Remus wouldn't even sit next to him. He didn't think Sirius was normal. He thought Sirius was a pervert, as any normal person would. Sirius had fooled himself into thinking otherwise.

He drank his butterbeer silently, watching Peter and Remus argue over which Hogwarts Quidditch team had the best chance at winning.

Marsh strode into the pub a minute later and sidled up to their table. He leaned over and whispered in Sirius's ear. He wanted sex, and he wanted it right then. Sirius was about to protest when he caught Remus's eye.

Remus was frowning.

Sirius glared at him. How dare he be upset that Sirius was gay? He'd never asked for this. He wanted to be normal. He didn't want his heart to feel like it was broken and could never be fixed. He hated the fact that, even though his best mate thought he was disgusting, he loved Remus with every part of himself.

Sirius turned away from his frown. "I'll see you later," Sirius said as he scooted out of the booth. He followed Marsh out into the street and back up to the castle. He didn't bother to say anything. Marsh didn't want to talk anyway.

Marsh led him to the Room of Requirement, which gave them a big, empty room, and ordered him to strip. When Sirius was naked, Marsh grabbed the tie Sirius had just pulled off and used it to tie his hands together. Then he pushed Sirius to his knees and Marsh opened his trousers.

Sirius did his best to please Marsh, but his mind was too focused on Remus to pay attention. After a few minutes, Marsh growled and pulled out of Sirius's mouth.

"Get on the floor."

Sirius did as he was told, leaning over until his face and shoulders were pressed against the floor. He wasn't aroused, and it made it hurt worse when Marsh pressed inside of him with only spit to ease the way. Still, the pain was good. It made Sirius forget about Remus. As long as Marsh was pounding into him, Sirius didn't have to think about the look on Remus's face.

Sirius didn't hate Marsh for what he did. He appreciated it. It made it easier to blank out his thoughts. Marsh was violent, but he never irrevocably hurt Sirius.

Marsh came hard and pulled out of Sirius. He reached around to pull Sirius off but snorted when he found that Sirius was still limp. At the beginning of their "relationship" he had tried to make sure Sirius always got off, but he seemed to realize now that sometimes Sirius didn't want to. He just wanted to be used.

He untied Sirius and left him laid out on the floor. Sirius hardly noticed him leaving.

After that, Sirius started avoiding Remus. It was just easier. Remus obviously didn't want to be around Sirius now that he knew. He threw himself at Marsh until Marsh cut everything off. Apparently, Rosier wanted to get back together with him. Sirius nodded when Marsh told him and wished him luck. Marsh had grinned and thanked him, muttering something about handcuffs as he wandered off.

After that, Sirius buried himself in homework. He spent most of his time hiding in the Room of Requirement. Peter was too busy sneaking off somewhere to notice and James had finally managed to convince Lily to have sex with him, so he was completely out of it. Remus was the only one who noticed when Sirius would give some pathetic excuse and sneak off. He'd frown every time and Sirius figured he probably thought that Sirius was going to meet Marsh.

His thoughts were confirmed when he tried to steal away one evening. Peter had just left their room, claiming he had a date, but Sirius doubted it. James had already gone off to pester Lily, so this left Remus and Sirius alone.

Remembering the conversation they had had in this room and how it had felt to be wrapped up in Remus's arms, Sirius let out a shuddering breath and began packing his homework up. He shoved it all into his bag and headed for the door.

"I'll be back soon," he said.

Remus frowned at him from across the room and Sirius's heart clenched. "Where are you going?"

"Just to study."

"You can study here," said Remus. "That's not why you're leaving. Are you going to meet Marsh?" His nose wrinkled up, as if he had smelled something rotten.

Sirius's throat seized up. "No," he muttered.

Remus stood up angrily. "Don't lie to me, Padfoot! This is the sixth time you've snuck off to see him this week!" He planted his fists on his hips. "Are you dating him?"

"No," Sirius said.

"Then why are you spending so much time with him? Are you letting him... is he doing things to you?" Remus's face contorted. He looked curious and disgusted all at once.

Sirius let out a bark of laughter. "No! I haven't seen Marsh in weeks. He's got a boyfriend."

Remus's angry stance disappeared immediately. "Oh, no. I'm sorry. I... I didn't even realize you two had broken up."

Sirius watched him approach. When Remus wrapped him up in a hug, Sirius dropped his school bag on the floor. He heard a bottle of ink shatter but he didn't care. He'd missed this too much to do anything else besides clasp his arms around Remus and breathe deeply.

"Do I need to go beat him up for breaking your heart?" Remus asked softly.

Sirius closed his eyes and clung to him harder. "My heart was broken long before he dumped me."

"What did he do to you?"

"Not him."

Remus squeezed him tighter. "Who then? I'll go hex them, I swear."

Sirius began to shake with silent laughter. If only Remus knew. "He didn't do it on purpose. I was an idiot. I fell in love with a straight bloke, and when he found out I was gay, it upset him. It's understandable."

Remus let go of him then, and Sirius's eyes flew open. Had he said too much? Had Remus figured it out?

Remus didn't move away though. Instead, he lifted one hand to Sirius's face and smoothed a thumb over his cheek. "I'm sorry. Whoever he is, he's an idiot."

He didn't know. Sirius caught his gaze and held it. They froze for a moment, standing like a silent tableau. Then Sirius leaned into Remus's touch and closed his eyes.

He opened them a moment later when he felt lips on his own. It was a soft, chaste kiss, and it made Sirius's heart hurt more than ever.

Remus grimaced as he pulled away. "I shouldn't have done that."

Yet again, Sirius's heart broke. This time so did the rest of him. He fell to the ground, fumbling for his books. The room was blurry and he couldn't see through the tears pooling in his eyes. A shard of the broken ink well sliced open his finger. He used the pain as an excuse to let the tears fall.

"Padfoot? Oh, no, don't cry. I'm sorry; I'm so sorry." He bent down and grabbed Sirius's hand. "You're bleeding. I'm so sorry." His wand looked like a wavy line through Sirius's blurred vision. "Episkey. I'm so sorry."

Sirius started babbling, careful to guard his secret even in his misery. "I like him. I like him so much, and he thinks I'm disgusting. I am. I should... I don't know what I should do. I should leave. I should just get out of his life. I shouldn't have to deal with me. I'm a pervert." He shouldn't have said that much, but Remus was his best friend. He needed to talk to him about it. He was the only one Sirius could talk to.

Remus squeezed Sirius's hand so hard it hurt. "Shut up! You are not a pervert!"

Sirius shook his head. "No. I'm a pervert and it's horrible and I should just go find a girl to marry and forget all about him and let him live a normal life without me—"

"Bloody hell! Sirius, you are not a pervert! Because, you know what? If you're a pervert, then I'm one too, and I consider myself quite normal, thank you very much."

Sirius blinked, trying to clear his eyes, and finally reached up and scrubbed away the tears with the palm of his free hand. "What?"

Remus chuckled. "You don't have to look so shocked. You aren't the only bloke who likes other blokes, you know."

Sirius just stared. "What?"

Remus sighed. His hands played with Sirius's absentmindedly. "I'm attracted to men. One man, in particular, but I do find many men attractive. I didn't want to own up to it until you came out to me. I wanted to be normal, but if you are gay, then being gay is normal, in its own way."

"You're gay? You like a bloke?" It was as if Sirius's dreams were coming true. Well, some of them. He'd never considered that Remus could like a man besides Sirius. Somehow, that hurt worse than watching him date girls.

Remus shrugged. "Not really. I like girls too. Most of the time I prefer them. There's just one man who I really like."

It was stupid to ask. Sirius was only going to get hurt, but he had to know. "Who is he?"

"I can't tell you." Remus squeezed the hand he still held. "He's been through a lot. I don't want to hurt him."

Sirius looked at their intertwined hands. The shock of finding out Remus liked men had dried up his tears, and he could see them clearly. Sirius's hand was tanned from Quidditch and flying. Remus had ink stains on his thumb and pointer finger. "I won't tell."

Remus dropped his hand and jumped up. "No. I can't."

Sirius stood and snatched Remus's hand back. He had to know. It hurt to think about it, but he had to know. "Who?"

Remus looked at him for a second before tugging his hand back to his body and pulling Sirius closer too. They were inches away from each other.


Remus closed his eyes. It looked like he was struggling against something. "Damn it, Padfoot." He opened his eyes and leaned closer to press a kiss to Sirius's lips.

Sirius was angry. He let go of Remus and pushed him away. "You arsehole! I'm not going to tell. You don't have to kiss me to avoid the question." His breath was fast and his heart was beating double time. Remus just had to make everything more difficult, didn't he?

Remus crossed his arms. "I was answering the question!"

Sirius threw his hands into the air. "What the hell? No, you weren't! You were kissing me." Remus looked at the ground. Sirius gasped as something occurred to him. "You were kissing me."

Remus raised his head and rolled his eyes. "No, I was kissing a Dementor. Idiot."

"Me?" Sirius couldn't move. "Me?"

Remus turned away and walked back to his bed. "Yes. And I'm sorry. I know that you like that bastard who upset you so much." He settled into an empty spot and picked up a book. "That's why I didn't want to tell you. So, let's just forget this. Get your things and we can study together."

Sirius was smiling before his brain even finished processing Remus's words. "Me."

Remus flipped a few pages forward in his book. "Yes. You. Please shut up now."

Sirius walked over to the bed and looked down at Remus. His book was upside down. His smile grew. "You."

"What are you on about?" Remus flipped a few more pages. The book was still upside down.

"You're the bastard."

Remus stiffened. "I said I was sorry."

Sirius flopped onto the bed next to him. He pulled the book out of Remus's hands and turned it right side up. Remus blushed.

"No, you're the bastard who broke my heart." Sirius snickered at the startled look on Remus's face. He felt higher than the moon after Remus's confession. "I thought you thought I was disgusting."

Remus pursed his lips. "I told you that you were normal."

"But you wouldn't touch me in public."

Remus's blush darkened. "I didn't want people to realize my feelings for you."

"You hugged me in private though."

"Yes, well, you never would have realized my feelings. You aren't the brightest Lumos when it comes to feelings."

Sirius should have been offended but he knew it was the truth. "And you always frowned when you saw me with Marsh."

Remus growled. "Stupid boy. He was horrible to you. I saw those bruises! He shouldn't have been allowed to touch you."

Sirius cocked his head to the side, so that it was lying on Remus's shoulder. "Were you jealous?"

"So very jealous. I just kept picturing that scene in Slughorn's room over and over in my head. I was on prefect duty that night. I should have given him a detention, taken away all of his house points, and reported him to Slughorn. That would have got you in trouble though."

Sirius kept his head where it was. "So, then, what are we now? If I like you, and you like me."

"Best mates," Remus said decisively.

"Oh." Sirius hadn't been expecting that answer. Boyfriends, lovers, friends with benefits: any of those answers would have made him happy.

"We will always be best mates, no matter what happens."

Sirius nodded as he sat up straight. "Right. Of course."

"Even if dating each other doesn't work, we'll still be best friends."

"Dating?" squeaked Sirius.

Remus raised an eyebrow at him. "Of course, we're going to date. You can't be boyfriends without dating."

"Boyfriends?" came out even higher.

Remus chuckled and pulled Sirius into a kiss. Sirius kissed him back as passionately as he could. His mother was wrong, just like she was about Muggles and purebloods and everything. It wasn't dirty or perverted to be gay, not when Remus was gay too. Remus could never be dirty. In fact, being gay was probably the most brilliant thing ever. They broke the kiss to gasp for breath.

"Like I said, you're not the brightest Lumos."

Sirius laughed and shoved him, falling down with him and covering him with kisses.