"Hands, like secrets, are the hardest thing to keep from you."
It is the night of September the first, and Remus Lupin is lying in his bed, in number twelve Grimmauld Place, being very, very, very still.
The whole house seemed to creak and groan and ache around him. He can hear hooves and claws scraping on the floor in the room above his head – Sirius says that Buckbeak is restless, wants to get out and stretch his wings, and Remus had wonders if Sirius is talking about himself as well. There are low mutterings in the corridors as the portraits murmur about filth and scum and mudbloods. There are the slow, paced footsteps of Kreacher as he drags his feet along the landing.
These are not the reasons that Remus cannot sleep.
Remus cannot sleep because he is waiting, in silent stillness, for something to happen. He doesn't know whether it will happen, but he can tell.
After all these years, Sirius has become too easy to read.
He spends what feels like an eternity just laying still and thinking. He thinks of Harry, who is too much like James and Lily, who is still a boy despite the dark shadows in his eyes and the scar on his forehead. He thinks of Nymphadora, and round eyes that can change their colour, and long, long eyelashes that cast shadows on her cheeks in the candlelight. He thinks of Sirius, who is his best, best friend.
He knows that Sirius is standing outside of his door.
It seems like another eternity before the door opens, but it can only have been a few minutes. When Sirius gets into the bed, the sheets whisper and it sounds like secrets.
Neither of them touches each other.
Remus exhales slowly, through his nose, because he knows they shouldn't be doing this; they are not sixteen anymore, locked together inside the dormitory, on Remus' bed with the curtains pulled closed, and their hands over each other's mouth as they let off some steam.
When he breathes in again, he knows that tomorrow he will have to leave, and Sirius will have to endure days or weeks of rattling around, distinctly alone, in a house full of personal ghosts and bad dreams.
Remus turns his head to look at Sirius in the dark, and Sirius' eyes are bright and animalistic. Sirius smells like firewhiskey and sandalwood and cigarettes, although Remus knows he hasn't smoked in years.
Sirius whispers, "Moony," but it is a question. Remus doesn't trust himself to answer.
Instead he presses his forehead against Sirius' and he can see his reflection in grey eyes, except it is distorted. He thinks he looks like a monster.
Remus presses his mouth against Sirius'.
There is a pause, and then Sirius' response is overwhelming; he is kissing Remus back with such enthusiasm and joy that Remus fears he will be crushed beneath it. He thinks it is a long time since anyone has touched Sirius or shown him any attention.
Sirius is all over Remus: one of Sirius' arms are around Remus' waist and one of Sirius' hands are in Remus' hair and Sirius is nuzzling his nose into the delicate skin where Remus' neck meets his shoulder and Sirius is kissing fire along Remus' collarbone.
Remus wonders what Nymphadora would think if she could see him now, and wishes that he didn't. He tries very hard not to think at all, especially not of her.
And then Sirius' hands are in his pants and Remus' body goes onto autopilot, and it's impossible to think anyway. He can hear groaning and some of it is coming from him, and someone is whispering RemusRemusRemus in his ear.
Then there is just heavy breathing and tangled limbs in the darkness that fit together like two puzzle pieces that have been separated for too long.
Remus dozes before he sleeps, and his imagination runs wild. The hair brushing against his shoulder is pink or purple or blue, and the high, proud cheekbones belong to a different face. The skin in his imagination is soft and smooth and flawless and distinctly feminine. In reality the legs pressed against his own are too long and too hairy, and Remus tries very hard not to focus on them, because they are ruining his fantasy.
His dreams may be full of Nymphadora, but he is still there with Sirius, because they're friends, and that's what friends are for.
In the morning, Remus takes his battered suitcase that still reads 'Professor R. J. Lupin' although he has not been a Professor for a long time and prepares to leave Grimmauld Place. Sirius is slouched, waiting in the hallway, hands stuffed in his pockets, and a surly look in his eyes. Remus puts on his coat and shoes, ignoring Sirius for the most part, until it's impossible to postpone the inevitable any longer.
"I'll be back soon," Remus promises quietly, and Sirius nods.
As Remus turns to leave, Sirius does something unexpected, and grazes his lips over Remus' cheek. Remus can feel the stubble on Sirius' jaw, and for a moment, his heart almost starts to beat erratically. Memories of last night splash across his memory, and his head spins.
Remus has to stop and remind himself that he is not sixteen and enamoured with beautiful, crazy Sirius Black anymore. Sirius is just his best friend.
Sirius whispers, "Come home soon," and Remus nods, and thinks Nymphadora and Sirius really do bear a striking family resemblance.
Worryingly, as Remus leaves Grimmauld Place, he thinks he is beginning to doubt even himself.