A/N: Originally written for the June rs_500 on LiveJournal. Thanks to Ginge for the beta. The original challenge, for thesiriusmoon -- Keywords: orange, skyline, typical. Dialogue: "Please don't start that again!"

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Maybe Now

It was the first week of school, the first week of their seventh year, when Sirius brought Remus down to the lake and said, "I want to talk."

Before Sirius could start to explain, Remus was heading for the castle again. "Please, don't start that again."

"Again?"

Remus paused. "This ... isn't about ... about the whole Snape thing last spring?"

Sirius shook his head. He'd apologised over and over again for everything that had happened at the end of sixth year when he'd sent Snape to the Whomping Willow. At the end of the year, he was apologising several times a day. For the first half of the summer, he'd apologised at least once a day by owl or floo.

Remus hadn't forgiven him, but eventually he had told Sirius that he wanted to forget it ever happened, and he'd never be able to look at Sirius without thinking about it if it came up every time they spoke. This was the first time it had been mentioned in weeks.

"I'm still really sorry about that."

Remus waved him off. "What did you want to talk about?"

"I want to tell you something. Maybe you should sit down."

Remus rolled his eyes and had a seat in the grass, then looked at Sirius expectantly as he sat down beside him.

Sirius took longer than necessary situating himself in the grass and then gathered all his Gryffindor courage, took a deep breath, and said, "I'm gay."

Remus waited for a moment, as though he thought there might be more, then finally said, "That's what you wanted to tell me?"

"Yeah..." Sirius couldn't tell if this was going really well or really badly.

Remus nodded. "All right."

Sirius blinked. "...all right? That's ... all you have to say? All right?"

"Well ... what did you want me to say?"

"I don't know." Sirius ran his hand through his hair. "I've never told anyone before. I thought you'd have a bigger reaction..."

"Typical Sirius," Remus said, rolling his eyes again. "You expect everything to be so ... theatrical. Did you want me to yell a bit?"

"No..." Sirius really wasn't sure what was going on anymore. "But this is a big deal for me, so I thought... I don't know."

"It wasn't such a big surprise."

"What?"

Remus shrugged. "I mean ... I sort of figured you might be."

"You did?"

"Well, you're better looking than any other bloke in our year, but you've never been on a date. You always wear those horrifically tight trousers. And you don't even seem to realise that girls are throwing themselves at you all the time..."

Sirius almost managed to smile. "Jealous?"

A smile twitched at the corners of Remus's mouth as well. "You wish." He looked at Sirius for a long moment before saying, "It's not what I was expecting to hear when you brought me out here, but ... it doesn't surprise me. I'm sorry if my reaction is less dramatic than you were hoping for."

"No. I was sort of afraid you might be ... uncomfortable."

"I don't judge people for what they are," Remus said. "I judge them for what they do."

Sirius was silent, staring across the lake at the skyline where the sun was sinking beneath the horizon, turning the surface of the lake a fiery orange.

"I'm sorry," Remus said after a moment. "I didn't mean that to sound the way it did."

Sirius shrugged. "Nothing I didn't deserve," he said, despite the sting.

Remus shook his head. "I said I wanted to be done with that. It's not fair of me to bring it up." He pulled his knees up to his chest and wrapped his arms around his legs. "What did James say when you told him? Was he 'uncomfortable'?"

"It's like I said -- I haven't told anyone else."

"Not even James?" Remus said, turning to look at Sirius in surprise.

"Nope. No one."

"But ... I mean, you're a lot closer to James than you are to me..." now. He didn't say it, but the strain on their friendship meant that now they were nowhere near as close as they had once been. Before everything that had happened in the spring, Remus might not have been nearly so surprised to hear something like this before James. Now...

"I just thought you'd understand," Sirius said quietly, and then seeing the look on Remus's face, he added, "Not being gay. Being different."

"I guess I might know a bit about that." Remus smiled a little and turned to look out at the lake, resting his chin on his knees. His hair needed trimming. Sirius could see around his neck and ears where he was starting to look scruffy, and his fringe was just short of falling into his eyes.

"D'you really think I wear my trousers too tight?" Sirius asked suddenly.

Remus looked startled for just a second and then started to laugh. "Merlin, yes. You're going to do real damage to yourself one day, cutting off circulation to your bits like that."

"Been thinking a lot about my bits, have you?" Sirius said with a raised eyebrow. "Something you want to tell me, Lupin?"

"Certainly not," Remus said, a broad grin destroying the look of disdain he was trying to put on. "And don't you start thinking about my bits either, Black." There was an almost imperceptible hesitation before Remus confided, "I've got a date with Mary Macdonald on Friday."

"Mary?" Sirius managed to fight the impulse to say something about how irritating he found Mary Macdonald, because, really, she didn't matter. What mattered was that, for the first time in a long while, Remus had actually shared something with him. It was such a huge moment after so many months that Sirius could only find one appropriate response.

"Don't wear that awful shirt with the brown stripes when you go on your date," he said. "She was only being nice when she said you looked good in that shirt. It's horrific."

Remus bit back a laugh. "If you listened to yourself when you talked, you'd hear exactly why I wasn't surprised when you said you were gay." He sighed and pulled himself to his feet, offering Sirius a hand. "D'you want to see if the kitchen elves have any leftover pudding?"

Sirius grinned as Remus helped him up. "Definitely." For the first time since Sirius had betrayed Remus, for the first time since he had made the worst mistake of his entire life, he was finally feeling that maybe, maybe ... maybe their friendship was on the mend.

fin