Remus's eyes were just fluttering shut when the curtains around his bed rustled. His eyes popped open to see Sirius creeping towards him, closing the curtains behind him.

"Sirius?" Remus rubbed his eyes while the mattress dipped under the weight of his pureblooded friend. When he looked again, Sirius was making himself quite comfortable in Remus's bed, his lighted wand leading the way. Remus slid back, away from the other boy's body, as if it would burn him. "Sirius, what are you doing?" he reproached. His friend did not generally respect boundaries of personal space, but being startled awake in the wee hours of the morning to find someone crawling into his bed was more than he cared for at the moment.

"I can't sleep," Sirius replied, oblivious to his discomfort.

"So you're going to come prevent me from doing so as well?" Remus hissed.

"I just thought we could chat," said Sirius, sounding wounded.

"What exactly would you like to chat about at nearly two in the morning?" Remus returned, his voice nearly as sharp as McGonagall's.

Sirius's confidence seemed to falter slightly at Remus's question, his bottom lip quivering almost imperceptibly. Remus's resolve wavered. He sighed and grabbed his wand from his night table, and cast a silencing spell at the curtain around them. "What is it, then?" he asked, his tone softer.

"Remus, what would you say if I…thought perhaps…I mightfancyabloke?" the words tumbled out of his mouth.

"A bloke?" Remus repeated slowly. A worried look and a slight nod from Sirius ensured him that he'd heard correctly. Remus eyed him skeptically, suspecting a prank. "You? A…what did you call yourself? A 'pernicious panty peeler'? I thought you were hopelessly devoted to the opposite sex."

"I thought so, too," Sirius said, staring at a particularly interesting spot on his friend's comforter.

"Sirius, are you saying you think you're gay?"

Remus's tone was soft and patient, but that didn't stop Sirius from flinching slightly at the word. It was a word that had been floating around in his brain for months. Hell, it might have been years. "What if I were?" he asked softly without moving his eyes from the bedclothes.

"Sirius," Remus admonished gently, causing the brooding boy to look up at his friend. "I'm a werewolf. I try to kill people once a month. Do you think I'd think less of you for fancying boys?"

"This isn't like turning into something else once a month, something bearing no resemblance to the other 28 days…this is who I am," Sirius said.

Remus studied the boy sitting on his bed, looking at him pleadingly, begging him to understand. He understood perfectly, and he had never seen Sirius look more vulnerable. Or more beautiful.

"You're right, it's not the same at all. You still are, and will always be, the same boy who's sitting before me now, and whom you like to kiss doesn't change anything. I suppose what I meant was that I know what it's like to be afraid of what people will think of you. You never have to worry about that with me."

Sirius blinked a couple of times before breaking into a wide, genuine grin. "Thanks, Moony."

Remus offered a small smile in return. "Sure thing, Padfoot. So that's it, then, you're batting for the other team?"

Sirius's face contorted into confusion for a moment. "Well, I don't really know. It's not really boys in general, per se."

"Boys in particular, then?" Remus said in a completely neutral voice.

"A particular boy," Sirius mumbled.

"Perhaps it's merely a crush," Remus suggested.

"'Crush' sounds so…trivial," Sirius nearly whined.

Remus was more than a little bit shocked that Sirius Black would suggest his feelings for someone were more than trivial, but he suppressed this and gave a slightly bored-sounding sigh. "Well, the only thing left is to tell me who he is," he teased airily. He thought he caught a look of panic in Sirius's eyes. "Wait. It isn't…" Remus groaned. "Tell me it isn't Snape."

Sirius let out an indignant cry and swung Remus's own pillow into the side of his head. "I can do a hell of a lot better than bloody Snivellus," he snarled.

Remus pretended to consider. "Well, then, who is it? I won't tell anyone, honest. I won't even laugh." When Sirius looked at him again, there was a flash of something Remus had never seen there before. Fear. It made Remus change tacks. "You don't have to tell me, but I really wouldn't tell anyone. I just want to help. And not in a slipping-him-a-love-potion sort of way, either," he joked. "Later, when you're ready."

Sirius was more grateful than he could express. "Thanks, Moony," he said again. "You're about the best mate a guy could have."

"Just returning the favor," he said with a smile, clapping his friend on the shoulder. "Now get out of here and let me sleep."

"Goodnight, Moony."

"Goodnight, Padfoot."