Hot morning sunlight woke Remus up, dazzling him as he opened his eyes groggily. He could feel thick sheets around him as his limbs regained sensation, and the unmistakably soft touch of Hogwarts pyjamas. As a lone bird twittered outside the window opposite, Remus let out a long, sleepy sigh, realising that he was safe; that he was alive.

The rustle of bedsheets to his left caught his attention; his heart leapt as he squinted to see that unmistakable head of long, black hair tumbling across the pillow, the familiar shape of that slender, rigid body on its side, sleeping and covered by quilts. Slowly a smile began to materialise on Remus' face as he watched his friend's back rise and fall, laughing silently as he thanked whatever gods had rescued them and saved their lives.

Remus cracked his back as he rose to sit up, swinging his legs out over the side of the bed. His toes clenched as they brushed the freezing tile floor, and gingerly he got up out of the bed and hopped over to where Sirius was sleeping. "Sirius," he whispered, placing his hand tenderly on his shoulder, "wake up, Sirius, we're alive!"

Sirius continued to sleep, his body turned away and his face blank. Remus cleared his throat and shook him a little, repeating, "Sirius, wake up!" With a snort and a groan he awoke; still weak from his wounds and the exposure, he moved only slowly as, wincing, he rolled on his back bleary-eyed to face his friend. "You're okay," Remus whispered to him, unable to hide the smile he wore.

Agonisingly slowly, the smile dropped as Remus read the change in his friend's eyes. Those bright green eyes, at first so tired, had lit up with a flash of joy upon meeting his, but as the seconds wore on memories had clouded them, memories of their desperate moment together in the snow. A flicker of the eyelids and they flitted imperceptibly downwards, just for a moment, simply unable to maintain eye contact. As he looked at him once more a strange sense of guilt had come over them, before turning back and away from Remus, not to look upon him again as he rolled over in silence.

Remus stood stock-still, frozen by Sirius' devastating look of embarrassment. His hand had lifted from his friend's shoulder of it's own accord, open and outstretched uselessly. His stomach felt as if it had fallen down into the dungeons; gulping dryly he straightened up and walked stiff-limbed back to his own bed, slipping inside it's covers once more and surrounding himself with them, burying himself to the world.

***

"You couldn't even look at me," Remus muttered softly, his lips curled with bitterness. A drip of water broke the uneasy silence that followed, sending a rat scurrying along the skirting-board.

Sirius rolled his eyes up and down in silence, shamefaced. Time and again he opened his mouth as if to speak but the words dried up in his throat. "I didn't…I hadn't," he babbled, frowning as he failed to form the words he wanted. "I hadn't expected to-"

"Survive?" Remus accused him, whipping around and regarding him with malevolent eyes. "That's what you were going to say, wasn't it? Because I should have known; Sirius Black, the only time he'll ever open himself up is when he's desperate." He turned back around, pulling the bedspread around his shoulders tighter across his body as he began to rock slightly. "So scared, so terrified of being alone…you'll take anything that's offered, and hang the consequences."

Sirius sighed as he sat up, his back pressed against the headboard. "I was scared," he admitted, "lying there in the snow, bleeding, dying…I just wanted-"

"You just wanted to get one last notch before you died," Remus replied, his voice low and laced with venom. Sirius rose up furiously, kneeling on the creaking mattress. His heavy breaths echoed around the dead, silent shack as he struggled to respond.

"No," he barked with bile rising in his throat, "I just wanted to know you were there."

Remus scoffed with a mirthless laugh. "Know I was there?" he replied mockingly. "I'd been carrying you for miles, I gave you my clothes, I gave you my body-" he stopped suddenly, his throat closing up as he realised the implications of his words. "You just wanted," he resumed after a second or two of silence, "to see how much you could get out of me. I know you always knew," he spat bitterly, looking down at the floor as he cringed with embarrassment to admit his feelings.

Sirius looked down to the mattress guiltily, his lip quivering as his heart kicked violently against his chest with guilt. "Yeah, I knew," he replied hoarsely, "and I liked it." The silence between them was palpable as Remus' ears jerked up slightly. "Not like…not like that," he added, his voice sullen, "I just liked…knowing. I liked having," he sighed, "I liked having that…power over you."

Sirius sat back down on the bed with one knee beneath his chin, abashed and silent. Remus let out a quiet, shivering sigh as he pulled up his legs to sit with them crossed at the edge of the bed, still staring down at the dusty floor. "Is that it, then?" He asked sadly. "Now that I know you know, and that you know I know you know, and the cat's well and truly out of the bag…we can't just be friends anymore, not after this. Not after this," he groaned, burying his forehead in his hands as he winced.

"No," Sirius replied softly, "no, we can't." He slipped back against the headboard once more, licking his lips and keeping his eyes fixed upon Remus' spine as he ventured tremulously, "But we can be something else."

Remus' head rose slowly as Sirius' words fell over him. Was he being serious? Turning to face him he noticed how quiet and shy Sirius had become; a sure sign that, yes, he was. "Something else?" Remus asked, half-disbelievingly. "No, Sirius, we can't do that," he sighed, shaking his head sadly.

"Why not?" Sirius shot back, his face stiff and serious. "Isn't that what you wanted? Why do you have to be such a bloody martyr, Moony?" Remus' face blanched in shock as Sirius' tone suddenly became vicious. "This is what you wanted," Sirius repeated, staring intently into his friend's eyes. "If you want it, take it."

Remus shook his head dumbly for a few seconds before finally finding his voice. "Sirius, you're not…I mean, you don't…" Sirius tilted his head slowly, scrutinising Remus as he stammered. "You just…don't…like…boys," Remus finally blurted out, turning away and burying his chin in his chest in embarrassment, blushing furiously at his childishness.

Sirius laughed softly, a warm smile creeping over his face as he watched Remus flounder. "Mature and eloquent as ever, Moony," he chuckled, watching as his friend's shoulders began to rise and fall as the laughter became catching. At length they both found themselves giggling helplessly, exhaustion and desperation fuelling their elation.

"You're right," Sirius said at length after the laughter had died down, "you're right, though. I don't like boys," he stated, looking inscrutably into Remus' eyes. "I like you."

Remus swallowed slowly, his fear and apprehension being steadily replaced by excitement. "That's good, I suppose," he mumbled with an awkward smile. "What," he asked, clearing his throat, "what do we do now?"

Sirius shrugged nonchalantly. "I suppose, no-one really has to know. It's nobody's business but ours; let's keep in that way." Remus nodded and made to speak before Sirius hushed him, moving closer. "And in the more immediate future, Mr. Moony," he continued, his voice softening as his face moved closer to Remus', "now, I would like you to kiss me."