A/N: JamesxSirius SiriusxRemus. A love triangle, of sorts.

Rated R for sexual situations + language.

"The one you love and the one who loves you are never, ever the same person."


Prologue.

"I'm going to Prongs' house, babe. I'll see you later." He placed the slightest of kisses on the pale of his cheek before grabbing his coat and whipping around the corner, out the door.

"Good-bye," Remus called after him, sighing as he sunk back down into his armchair with a cup of honey-lemon tea. Suspicion boiled in his stomach, and he tried to drown it (-to no success-) with another sip.

The clock on the wall struck ten times, loud like a cannon, a solemn salute.

- -

Part One: James.

"He's not going to get suspicious?" James twisted his fingers into Sirius' hair, who was busy kissing James's stomach. He looked up, briefly, eyes clouded with annoyance.

Why do you always bring him up? "No, he's not. Doesn't suspect a thing."

Sirius brought his eyes back down, lips sliding lower, skimming the band of his jeans. James shivered.

"Are you sure? Because we could always just- "

He stopped, raising himself up to full height. "Yes. Merlin, Jamie, calm down."

"Because you've been here three times this-"

"Calm down."

He pulled away from Sirius' touch, and sat down on the bed. "Maybe this isn't such a good idea."

"Not a good idea? Ha, very funny. Because of Remus?

"It's not just him, it's Lily, too."

Something in Sirius' chest tightened. He ignored it and snorted derisively.

"Lily's always been there."

James furrowed his brow and slowly shook his head, eyes intent on the man standing, as if he were explaining something painfully basic to him. "I…I'm married, Sirius."

"I know that, Prongs."

He saw James visibly wince. "Don't call me that. It's not...We're not..." he stopped. "We're older, that's what we are. And we should be acting like it."

"What the fuck are you talking about?"

"Oh, Christ." His head dropped into his hands. Sirius took a slow breath, in through his nose, and tried again.

"Look, I know you're getting married."

James' voice was muffled against his palms. "No. No, I don't think you do. Sirius, It's not right."

"I-"

"We can't do this; these things anymore."

The ache in his chest was now painful, like needles. And the words- The words weren't coming correctly anymore. "Not right? What is wrong with you? Did the last four years not happen or- or-? Or what? I always knew you were going to get married to Lily, and you always knew that I was with Remus. I don't understand what's so-"

James let out an exasperated groan. "It's called being in a relationship, Sirius! You have to give things up to make them work. You have to give things up to get other things."

"So you're giving me up?"

"No!" he leapt up, instinctively reaching out to touch Sirius's sharp jaw. It's not like that." He received from Sirius such a look in return so raw, so pure, that he couldn't help but turn around and sink to the bed once more, his gaze on the floor. "Well, I guess it sort of is, but-"

"Do you love her?"

James' head jerked up, and he turned a fantastic shade of pink. "Excuse me?"

"Do you love her?"

He looked away. "Stop it. What do you want me to say?"

"I want you to say if you love her or-"

"No!" he jumped to his feet, eyes blazing. "No, you don't! You don't want the truth. Not one bit, Padfoot." He spat the nickname at him like a curse. "You want me to say that I don't love her, and that I want to be with you instead forever and ever, and that I'm going to leave her. Isn't that right? Isn't that what you want? You want me to tell her that the wedding's off? Just like that?"

He swallowed past the lump in his throat. "It's not-"

"Is that what you want from me?"

For what felt like a long time, the air was still and thick. Finally Sirius let out a shaky-

"-No."

"Then what-"

But there was nothing else for James could say, because without warning Sirius was crossing to him in one quick stride, he was taking his face in his hands, and kissing him long and hard on the mouth. James (-Prongs, who always tastes both sweet and sour-) did not fight it. When he pulled away, he saw his eyes were like round, dark saucers, burning.

James knew it was a question. One he had been asked so many time before, and one he himself had asked, too.

After a moments' hesitation, he breathed a soft, "Okay. Just this once." Both could hear the reluctance in his voice.

"Okay."

"Okay." James nodded, as if obeying an order. And with that, he dropped to his knees and began to undo the zipper of Sirius' jeans.

- -

It wasn't until a half-hour later, when they were lying on the cold floor, nude and panting, Sirius sprawled spent and bleary, across James' chest, that the messy-haired brunette (-He looks the same he did when we were sixteen-) whispered in a low, confessional tone, "She's pregnant."

Sirius didn't respond. It should have been like being slapped in the face, but he didn't feel it. Somewhere shock dully registered, barely puncturing the surface of his consciousness.

"Two months in. She's out telling the Order, right now, that she'll have to give it up to stay at home. I…I asked her to. It's for her own safety."

It got so quiet that the sound of wind whistling through the trees was audible. And then-

"So you do love her?"

It was James' turn not to respond.

"I'll take that as a yes."

And with that, Sirius pulled his clothes back on, and he was gone.

- -

Part Two: Sirius.

He didn't get home until much later, having spent what felt like hours walking around the city aimlessly, freezing, kicking at trash on the street. Trying to make himself feel something other than the numb sensation of being used. Worn and bedraggled, he pushed the door open and went straight upstairs to the bedroom, only to find Remus still awake, writing in a notebook of some sort. He looked up, surprised, and closed the book, placing it calmly on the bedside table.

"Hello, Remus," he yawned.

"Hello. How is James?"

"He's good, he's good." Sirius turned away to kick the shoes and socks off his feet, then to sloppily toss his coat into the closet.

"Mm-hm." Remus kept his face straight. "Did you two immediately fuck, or did you have tea or something first?"

Sirius choked. "Excuse me?"

"Oh, and I would prefer it if you actually hung up your coat."

He whirled around.

"Excuse me?"

Remus blinked. "Hang up your coat. It's going to get wrinkles."

"No, before that."

"About you and James? I'll take that to mean you immediately fucked."

"James and I didn't-"

"You really don't need to lie to me anymore. The fact alone that you assumed I wouldn't figure it out, what, five years ago? –It's a bit insulting, really."

"I…" for once found himself at a loss for words. How did Remus know these things, know everything all the time? "Why would you think a thing like that?"

And if he had known so long ago, why had he waited until now?

Below them, the clock struck once.

"Hang up your coat, please?"

Sirius turned around quickly and did as he was told; feeling like his skin was on fire. He wanted to run, to shout something, to explain. Explain what, though? Remus knew, because that's what Remus did. He figured things out, quicker and sharper than most. And he did not share things, he kept them tucked away in the corners of his mind, until the opportunity presented himself to flaunt the fact that he was an onlooker, and he was a damn good one. You didn't lie to him (-Fuck it, I'm such an idiot.-) and you didn't think you knew him.

There were things, he realized, easing the aging corduroy onto a wire hangar, more than he wanted to admit, that he didn't know about Remus. Why did I think for so long I was the only one who could keep secrets? And above that, keep those secrets well.

As if reading his mind, an even voice behind him murmured, "I live with you." Sirius shivered slightly and closed the closet door with an unsteady hand. "I figured it out when we were seventeen."

He balked. "When we were-?!"

"Yes. I…I knew all along, Sirius. Although I quite enjoyed being delusional for some time. Making myself see things in you that weren't really there."

A vision of himself, mere hours ago, on his knees before a hesitant and worried James flashed through his mind, and he turned away. "I know the feeling."

The guilt he had pushed back into the depths of his belly for years and years came flooding back. He remembered, as clearly as the cold floor beneath his bare feet, the first time Remus had kissed him. Sixth year, alone in a deserted History of Magic classroom. The scent of lemon hanging vaguely in the air, the sensation of summer peering into through a window set high on the wall. The wet taste of chocolate on his lips as he pushed against Remus' hips and the desk they were pressed against slid backwards with a loud scratch across the floor. He fell forwards onto him, and kissed the spot below his ear, as Remus' eyes fluttered open, desperate and hazel. Asking, imploring. Needing.

Sirius remembered closing his eyes and imagining Jamie, Jamie, Jamie as Remus pushed him backwards against another desk and ran his teeth along his earlobe, one hand cold on his stomach.

He remembered telling James about it later, nervous, in the darkness of their dormitory and the way he had whispered "Like this?" before easing him backwards onto the pillow. He could still feel the crush of their lips, together, creating heat in the still, stale night. It was a game, nothing more. It was an experiment, a test of purpose. Look what I can do. And to you, of all people.

Look what I can do to you.

He used Remus. James used him. It was easy to push such truths aside, but only for so long. And they were never fully erased, either. As a teenager, he could pass such antics off as hormones. When the war began, it was considered stress relief.

But now? There were no more excuses. It was almost like he deserved this; this passive, factual confrontation from Remus. It was like being back at school, listening to a review lesson. Learning the things that he already knew, but had slipped away, somehow.

"You don't love me."

Sirius didn't move. It felt like he was lost at sea, it felt like remorse and inevitability. Like reality.

- -

Part Three: Remus.

"You don't love me, and I don't mind," he whispered, bare feet making the floorboards creak in the stark silence. Sirius could feel him close, then closer, breath on his neck. "Just pretend. Just for-" He kissed the back of Sirius' neck, teeth cold against the tight skin there "-tonight, just as long as we're together, for once. Lie to me." His fingers were ghosting over the shoulders, the neck, putting pressure on the small of his back. "Make me believe. Make me believe that you-"

But he didn't finish his sentence, for the very next second he found himself being crushed against Sirius in a spine-breaking kiss, knocking the breath out of him, making him gasp for air against the press of lips and tongue, against the strong arms wound tightly around his torso.

And then Sirius was tugging at the buttons on his own shirt, at his zipper, at Remus', and it all happened too quickly. They were against a bedpost, against a dresser, then lying against sheets and pillows and quilts and each other. Above all else, against each other; and Remus marveled at how perfectly their bodies fit together. Sirius was muttering long strings of words, filled with too many Sorrys to count. Over and over again, he kept saying that word, with such finality, such static, resolute despair. Why don't you just accept that this is the way it's- his hands found the waistband of Sirius' boxers and he yanked them down to his ankles, feeling the arousal rough against his thigh. –the way it's supposed to be. You goddamn- Sirius let out a soft groan, and Remus rolled over, on top of him, locking eyes. You ridiculous- The way his eyes shone amber like that, it was unnatural. You- You stupid- Eyes shouldn't make it unable to breathe, to think. All of a sudden there were no words, not for how much he loved him, hated him, whatever it was. It didn't matter that this was Sirius, or that he was Remus and that he was certainly not James. None of it mattered, because none of it made sense.

And that was as far as the thoughts in Remus' head would go, for those amber eyes were begging him (-And only me, Padfoot doesn't beg anyone else-), as they had so many times before, and he couldn't, couldn't dare say no.

- -

And as they laid there in darkness, catching their breath and wiping the sweat from their brows, there was a silence too tight; too severe and too loud to be a real silence. Frost was twisted on the windowpane and the heater turned on below them. It was winter, and it was lonely. Remus unexpectedly felt the figure next to him stir, begin to shake, although not with passion. It took him a full minute to realize that he was crying (-Sirius crying, for God's sake-), low and gasping, with deep, bitten-back sobs. Over and over again, he struggled for air, he struggled to steady his breath, but the tremor would not cease. And Remus did not hold him, did not say a word. Instead, he found Sirius' rough hand in the darkness and intertwined their fingers. He squeezed it with all he had, hoping it would be enough, knowing there was nothing left to do; that he had nothing else in him to offer. They stayed that way, hearts heavy and stomachs twisted with something neither could decipher (-Remorse? Need? Terror?-) until both at last fell quietly to sleep in the early morning hours.

When he woke, it was late afternoon, and Sirius was gone.

There were still tears on the pillow.


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