Author's Note: RLSB. Fluffangst + drabble. Oneshot.


"I love you. Do you have a problem with that?"

Sirius felt his breath catch in his throat but kept walking, shoulder to shoulder with Remus; four brown boots stepping in time. His face turned scarlet, and all but one word stuck like honey in his throat.

"No."

"Good."

He didn't dare look at him. It was just one of those things he said, from time to time; one of those things that Sirius didn't know what to make of. Remus wasn't exactly a master at being obvious, at saying what he was thinking and saying it plainly, without prefaces and excuses, without disclaimers and vague terms.

I love you. They should have represented exactly what one would think they would, but somehow they didn't. Somehow, with Remus, everything was a puzzle of sorts. A word, a phrase would mean something completely unrelated, something undecipherable. And yet, Sirius always found himself looking for an answer that may or may not even be there. I love you. It wasn't, he thought, that Remus meant to be evasive, simply that this was the only way he knew how to communicate. Remus was not one to be bold nor to be proud, and although he was loath to admit it, did not quite understand all the logistics of social niceties. I love you. It could mean thousands of things, he knew, because this wasn't the first time Remus had said it. Third year, right before summer break. Fourth year, after a streak of three lost Quiddich games in a row. Fifth year, when Regalus had died. And now, this.

I love you.

Sirius knew, somewhere in the back of his mind that it wasn't normal. Something tugged at the edges of his embarrassment and glee, whining to him that this just wasn't what boys did, especially not boys who were sixteen years old. Boys who were as close to being men as one could get without actually bearing the title. He knew there was something that seemed to cloud the air between the two of them whenever the words were said; something that made it unable to breathe, or see, or think. He would find himself just staring at Remus; in class, at meals, while walking the grounds together. Without even realizing it.

I love you.

No one else had said this to him, as far back as he could remember. Not his mother or father, not James, not Peter. Not any of the girls he had gone out with. Only Remus. He treasured the words in a way he was terrified to reveal even within the confines of his own mind, let alone aloud. The mere fact that he could remember all four occasions on which Remus had uttered them was proof enough that something was horribly amiss between them.

I love you.

And, when he thought about it for a minute, he had never remembered saying them to anyone else. Not saying them and meaning them, anyway.

I love you.

They were stupid, he tried (and failed) to convince himself, hands clenching inside the deep pockets of his corduroy blazer. Snow crunched underneath their shoes, and they yet beat out a steady pattern. Clonk-click-clonk-click. He decided there and then that they were just words, and that they didn't mean a thing. They couldn't.

Or rather, shouldn't.


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