The whole mess started at the breakfast table.

The meal had begun inauspiciously enough, with James rambling on about the weekend's Quidditch match, Peter listening with rapt admiration, and Remus thumbing through a book as he absentmindedly scooped bits of egg into his mouth. There was nothing unusual about the scene – certainly nothing that might indicate a life-altering revelation was imminent.

And so Sirius went about buttering his toast, happily unaware of the metaphorical storm-cloud looming in the distance.

"Peter," he said conversationally, "have you confessed your undying love for James yet? You're practically drooling on him."

"Oh, lay off him, Sirius," James defended jokingly, as Peter spluttered and glared. "You know you're just jealous. Sorry ladies, but I'm taken, by the lovely Miss Evans." He sighed dreamily, a glazed look coming over his eyes for a moment. "Anyway, Peter," he continued his spiel, shaking himself out of his daydreaming, "Hufflepuff clearly doesn't have a chance against Ravenclaw, not with the way their Seeker's been performing…"

Sirius snorted and turned back to his toast. As if he would be interested in James. Not that he had ever considered dating a bloke. But if he did, it certainly wouldn't be someone like James. That was practically emotional incest.

"Remus, will you hand me that jam by your elbow?"

Remus pushed it across the table without glancing away from his book. Sirius took a moment to notice the way the sun reflected off Remus's tawny hair before scooping a knifeful of jam and spreading it across his toast.


No, if he did ever did decide to date another guy, it would have to be someone who could balance him out, Sirius decided. Someone intelligent, but who could still appreciate a good prank. Someone quiet, yet confident enough to deal with him – someone who would be unperturbed by the madness that was Sirius Black.

Sirius took a bite of toast.

It would have to be someone attractive, too – not that James wasn't attractive, he supposed. Lily seemed to like him well enough. But James's untidy hair and slightly gangly figure did nothing for Sirius.

And definitely not someone like Peter, he thought with slight disgust as the eyed the boy's stout form. Too pudgy and rat-like.

No, he concluded, it would have to be someone with a very different sort of look. Someone with a lean, muscular build, and preferably soft, light-colored hair. Someone with amber eyes that gleamed when amused, and….

Sirius glanced up across the table to where Remus was obliviously turning a page over.

He would need someone like Remus.

And then it hit. With a sudden, blinding clarity, the realization finally struck, completely flooring him. He had been describing Remus the entire time. He was attracted to Remus.

As in, his friend Remus. As in, his friend Remus who was also a werewolf. As in, his friend Remus who was also a werewolf, who was currently sitting across from him, scratching his nose as he frowned adorably down at his book.

That Remus.

How could I have missed this? he thought, completely horrified with himself. It was glaringly obvious now that he thought about it. The way his stomach flipped when Remus smiled at him. The way he always went to Remus whenever he wanted to rant about his insane family – or anything, really. The way he always seemed to date slender, flat-chested girls with light-brown hair, but never really clicked with any of them. They way he got terribly distracted whenever he tried to study around Remus.

He wanted Remus bloody Lupin. And in a very gay way.

"Oi, Sirius," James's voice cut quietly into Sirius's thoughts. "You okay? You've been staring at Remus like he's about to sprout fangs for the past five minutes. Full moon's not for another two weeks, mate."

Finally looking away from his book, Remus glanced quickly around to make sure no one had heard. Thankfully, most of their house had learned to give the Marauders a wide berth during meals, as that was a common time for their mischief, so the surrounding table was empty.

Satisfied, Remus turned back to his book.

Sirius somehow managed to chase the look of horror away from his face and turned to James. "Yeah," he croaked out. "Um…I'm not feeling very well…I think I need to put my head down." He did just that, almost upsetting the jam jar as he dropped his head to the table.

Remus looked up from his book, frowning in concern.

"Need to go to see Madame Pomfrey?" James poked him in the side.

"I'll be alright in a minute," he reassured, his voice slightly muffled in the wood. But he wasn't going to be alright. He was going to be very, very not-alright. And things were about to get very awkward between him and his werewolf friend.

Sirius was a mess for the rest of the day. He wasn't quite sure what was said in any of his classes, being too distracted by NOT paying attention to the way Remus chewed on his quill when thinking, or the way his eyes lit up when he mastered a spell, or the way he wrinkled his nose in disgust when the fumes from his potion hit his sensitive werewolf nose.

Whenever Remus turned to talk to him, Sirius would hurriedly start up a conversation with James or Peter, or frantically open up a textbook and bury his nose inside. In between classes, he practically flew to his next lesson in order to avoid Remus; it was probably the earliest he had ever arrived to any of his classes.

In turn, Remus seemed to deal with this development with his usual equanimity. If he was confused and hurt by Sirius's sudden aversion to his presence, he didn't let on around the others.

Sirius didn't go to dinner that night. No way was he going, where he'd be forced to sit across Remus the entire time. Instead, he told his friends he had a headache and, after a short stop to the kitchens, holed up in the dormitory. Most of the time he spent lamenting his sorry lot in life and the terrible tragedy it was to be attracted to his fellow Marauder, which wasn't exactly productive of him but felt depressingly satisfying. Then at eight o'clock, when he knew Remus had a study group in the library, he set off down the stairs to find James.

When Sirius poked his head into the Common Room, he found James sitting on a couch, valiantly attempting to write his Potions essay.

That was easy.

Glancing around and finding the room satisfactorily bare of any werewolves, especially slightly bookish ones who tormented their friends with their untouchable attractiveness, Sirius gave a sigh of relief and ambled over to James.

"I'm in trouble, mate." He sank dramatically onto the chair opposite his friend, who looked up from his essay in inquiry. "Big trouble," Sirius continued wearily. "Life-changing, friendship-wrecking trouble. T-R-O-U-B-L-E. Horrifying, mind-numb-"

"I get it!" James cut in, waving his quill at Sirius. "Just get to the important bit!"

Sirius took a deep, steadying breath, preparing for the worst, and looked his friend square in the eye.

"I think I fancy Remus."

James blinked. Then sighed, rolled his eyes, and turned back to his parchment.

"Oh. I know. Was that all?"

"What! How…When…But..." Sirius spluttered. "I just barely figured it out! How…how did you already know?" He was floundering, thrown into unfamiliar waters. Since when did James notice anything not related to Evans?

"Listen, Padfoot," James told him bracingly, "it was pretty bloody obvious. I mean, come on. The constantly checking him out, the excessive and unnecessary touching, the hostility towards any girl who talks to him…I think the only people who haven't noticed are you and Remus. Now, of course, being just Remus."

"I don't check Remus out!" Sirius protested indignantly. And he wasn't being hostile, he just thought those girls should find some other boy to try to ensnare with their wily, flirtatious ways. And he certainly didn't touch Remus excessively. They were friends – friends touched!

James lifted an eyebrow. "How 'bout we ask Frank. Frank!" he called across the room. "Does Sirius check Remus out?"

Frank, seated by the window with his girlfriend Alice, looked up from their game of chess. "All the time. Has he finally noticed?"

Grinning, James nodded back.

"Poor sod," Frank chuckled and turned back to his game, where his pieces were tapping their feet in impatience. "Oh sorry, Alice. My queen to your knight."

"There you go," James smirked at Sirius.

"Fine," Sirius gave in. "Maybe I do a little." He stuck his chin in his hand glumly. "But it's his fault for being so cluelessly shaggable."

Just then, the portrait door swung upon and Lily entered, headed for the girl's dormitories with her bag slung over her shoulder.

"Lily!" James shouted, delight spreading across his face. Sirius groaned. He certainly didn't dislike Lily – though they occasionally had minor differences of opinion that led to not-so-minor shouting matches – but she could be a nosy bugger when she wanted, and now was not a time Sirius wanted to deal with her inquisitiveness.

The girl in question smiled and changed course, instead crossing to where the two boys were gathered, each with vastly different expressions.

She plopped down onto the couch next to James and dropped her bag down on the floor in front of her. James leaned over and gave her a peck on the lips, still grinning like a loon. He hadn't quite gotten over the fact that Lily Evans had agreed to go out with him, even though it had already been four months.

"What's wrong with Sirius?" Lily asked, pulling a scroll of parchment out of her bag. Sirius braced himself. Here it came.

"Huh? Oh. He just discovered his fancies the pants off Remus."

"Huh." Lily leaned down again and began rifling through her bag for a quill. "Took him long enough."

"Don't tell me you knew, too," groaned Sirius, dropping his head in his hands. This was getting rather embarrassing. Everybody seemed to know!

Lily unzipped a side pocket and shifted the contents around. "Oh, honestly, Sirius. It's painfully obvious." She zipped the pocket back up and yanked the main section of the bag open to peer inside again. "The only way you could be more apparent is if you wore a sign that said 'I want Remus Lupin' around your neck." She shoved her hand into the bag and dug around a bit.

James reached over and plucked the quill out from where it was tucked behind her ear, then dangled it in front of her face.

"Oh, thank you, James," she smiled as she took it. "I knew there was a reason I dated you."

James grinned. "Well, that and my dashing good looks, my wicked sense of humor, my brilliant Quidditch skills, my-"

Lily walloped him in the face with a pillow from the couch.

"Anyway, Sirius," she said, ignoring her dramatic boyfriend who was clutching his nose as if it was broken, "what are you going to do about it?"

Feeling slightly taken aback, Sirius asked, "Do about it? What would I do about it?"

"Boys are so thick." Lily rolled her eyes. "I mean, are you going to tell Remus that you like him?"

"What!" he spewed incredulously, a look of pure horror on his face. "Are you completely mental? He would never speak to me again! He would hate me forever and denounce me in front of the whole school! He would kick me out of our dormitory and-"

"Oh, stop it," Lily snapped. "Remus wouldn't do any of that. The worst that could happen is Remus doesn't return your feelings and it's a little awkward for a week, before the whole thing blows over. And anyway, I'm fairly certain he likes you back," she said confidently.

"She's right," James agreed, having abandoned his nose-clutching theatrics. "Remus is good at hiding things, but he's not infallible. It seems pretty clear he's interested, too."

"Wow, James," Lily looked mildly impressed. "That was a big word, where did you pick that up?"

"What, don't you think I'm clever enough to use it?" He smiled smugly.

"Clever enough, yes. Just not well-read enough."

"Ha! So you do think I'm clever!"

Lily smacked him playfully and turned back to Sirius, who had calmed down and was once again feeling rather despondent.

"Are you telling me that you, Sirius Black, are feeling insecure about someone potentially turning you down?" Lily questioned skeptically. "Sirius Black, the arrogant git who wouldn't know modesty if it whacked him on the nose?"

Sirius's spine instantly straightened and he sneered scathingly at her. "Of course not," he said, looking every inch the proud pureblood. But then he slumped back over and dropped his chin to his hand once more. "Yes."

"Oh, this is too good," Lily giggled. Sirius didn't even have the will to glare at her.

"Don't kick him while he's down, Lily. The poor guy's just realized he fancies his good friend. He's had a hard day, acting all awkward around Remus."

"Not helping, James," Sirius muttered.

"Oh, you're just being silly," Lily declared briskly. "All you need to do is tell Remus how you feel, and the whole thing will be sorted and you two can snog your hearts out."

James, being the good little boyfriend he was, nodded in agreement. "What kind of Gryffindor are you, anyway?"

"One who'd rather like to keep his friends."

"That's enough!" Lily jabbed her quill at Sirius. "Tomorrow, you're going to tell him how you feel. If you don't, I'll do it for you."

All the color drained for Sirius's face. "You wouldn't, would you?" he asked in absolute horror.

"You know I would," the meddling witch affirmed. "And either way, don't you think Remus deserves to know? You know you would want to, if the situation were reversed."

Sirius's head reconnected with his hands. He hated arguing with Lily when she was right.

"Checkmate," he heard Alice's satisfied voice declare, and something that sounded suspiciously like "Shit!" from Frank.

Alice trotted smugly over to the trio gathered on the couches, while Frank followed at a more leisurely stroll.

"So, Sirius," Alice said brightly, "are you finally going to ask Remus out?"

Sirius raised his head to glare distrustfully at her. "Why do you care?"

"Sirius," she said deliberately, as if he were a child, "I'm sure you don't realize this, but practically the entire school has been wondering when you two will finally get together. There's even a betting pool on when it will happen."

"What!" Sirius yelped, sitting up straight in shock.

"Yep," Frank affirmed. "The Prewett twins are running it. It's five galleons to get in, and you choose the date you think the two of you will get together – I had Christmas morning. At least half the school's in on it, and I know for a fact that a few of the teachers are in too."

Sirius decided it might be a good idea to curl up and die right about now. Teachers were betting on when he'd get together with Remus? The world was insane.

"Shh! Frank, it's against the rules to tell either of them about it!"

"Well, it doesn't really matter now, does it? Christmas already passed, so I'm out of the running. Unless you want to hold off 'til next year, mate?" Frank eyed Sirius hopefully.

Sirius just sank dejectedly back into his chair.

"Not likely," Alice answered for him. "Have you seen the two of them lately? It's like they're glued together! Sirius is always hanging off Remus, ruffling his hair – any excuse to touch him. I'm surprised it's gone on as long as it has without either of them doing something! Besides," she added as an afterthought, "we aren't even going to be here next year."

"Hey!" Sirius shouted, coming out of his despair to defend himself. "I do not hang off Remus! And I don't touch him all the time! We're friends, and we touch in a normal, manly, friend-ish way!" He was starting to feel rather peeved about this conversation. Who did these people think they were, betting so casually on his and Remus's love lives?

"You don't touch James that much, and you two are practically brothers," Lily interjected reasonably.

Sirius scowled.

"Anyway," she continued, undeterred, "Sirius is going to tell him tomorrow, right? Or I'm telling for him."

"Lily," Frank regarded her with clear suspicion. "You wouldn't happen to have your bet on tomorrow, would you?"

"I don't bet!" she insisted indignantly, but conceded when James gave her a pointed look. "Alright, I had the second Wednesday of October."

Lily too! Sirius felt betrayed. Even the Marauders! Well, Lily wasn't a Marauder, but he liked to consider her an honorary one since she was dating James. Speaking of whom, it would be just his luck if he found out James-

"I have some day this month. I'm not sure which exactly."

Sirius shot up, out of his chair. "That's it! I can't take any more of this. I'm going up to bed."

With that, he marched up the stairs to the dormitory and closed himself up behind his bed curtains. It had been a long, horrible day, and he just wanted it to end now.

He didn't sleep very well that night, and dreamt of Remus's horrified face staring at him.

The next morning, Sirius's Day in Hell began.

After sleeping in much too late, Sirius was forced to choose taking a shower in lieu of eating breakfast, because he didn't have time for both. As he dashed to his first class, hair still wet and dripping, he suddenly remembered Lily's instructions from the night before.

Maybe he should just go back to bed.

Still debating whether to stay or go, he paused as he reached the classroom door. Stay or go? Go or stay? Stay? Go? Run away and live in the Forbidden Forest for the rest of his miserable, lonely existence where no one would care if he fancied his mate? As it turned out, it didn't really matter because the decision was quickly snatched out of his hands.

"Mr. Black," McGonagall's sharp voice snapped at him from within the classroom. "If you've finished examining my door, perhaps you'd care to join the rest of us?"

Oh well. He didn't really think he'd get on with all the centaurs, anyway.

Sirius swung the door open and smiled disarmingly. "Of course. Always a delight to join your class, Professor. Nothing can compare to your enthralling lessons." He winked jauntily.

"Take a seat, Mr. Black, and five points from Gryffindor for being late," McGonagall said disapprovingly, but her lips were twitching suspiciously.

He grinned. However, it quickly faded when he scanned the room and saw the only open seat was next to Remus. Just his luck.

As the suddenly gloomy Sirius made his way to his seat, James caught his eye and smirked at him. Tell him, he mouthed.

Sirius responded with a rather rude gesture.

"Mr. Black! Kindly sit down and stop disturbing the class!"

Sirius sat, with a stiff smile towards his tablemate. Remus gave an amused smile of his own, but chose not to comment on Sirius's late entrance.

McGonagall began lecturing on the dangers of hasty wandless transfiguration, but Sirius wasn't listening. He was too worried about Lily's ultimatum to bother. He didn't doubt for a second that she really would go through with her threat and tell Remus his secret. Meddling cow! She was going to destroy his friendship with Remus!

But what if Remus really is interested? A small voice in the back of his head insisted.

No! That was ridiculous! There was no way Remus was interested in guys, and if he was, he definitely wouldn't be interested in Sirius.

How do you know? Have you ever seen him on a date with a girl?

That doesn't mean anything! Remus is just too busy with schoolwork to date anyone!

That's not true and you know it. He has plenty of time to hang out with you.

Sirius wished the little voice would be quiet, because he was having a hard time arguing with himself without feeling like a loon.

Ha! Loony for Lupin!

He smacked his head on the table. That was it; he had officially driven himself to insanity.

"Sirius?" A quiet and slightly amused voice came from his left.

Head still planted firmly on the desk, Sirius rolled one eye to the side to gaze up at Remus.

"Your headache still bothering you?"

"I'm fine," Sirius grumbled into the table.

Remus gave his slight, quirky half-smile in response and turned back to his notes. That was what Sirius liked about Remus: he never pushed an issue when Sirius clearly wasn't in the mood. Well, Sirius also rather liked that small, quirky smile. And the way Remus's hair fell gently across his eyes. And…

Sirius banged his head on the table a few times.

"Mr. Black! Please refrain from abusing the furniture," McGonagall warned him sharply.

Raising his head from the desk, Sirius wondered if it was possible he had offended any major deities recently. Someone was certainly out to get him.

Alright. This was getting silly. He was Sirius Black! He didn't sit about and bemoan his fate! He was a man of action! And if he fancied his friend then he was bloody well going to tell him! Not dance around like some damned Nancy-boy!

Er…poor choice of words, perhaps.

But the sentiment still stood! And Lily was right, much as he loathed to admit it. Remus deserved to know. And if he had forgiven Sirius for the incident with Snape in fifth year, then he could definitely forgive him having a little crush.

Alright, maybe not so little, but that was beside the point. Friends didn't let such silly matters come between them!

Confidence restored, Sirius turned to the boy next to him with a determined gleam in his eye. He had made up his mind, and he was going to follow through!

Remus bit his lip in concentration, diligently taking notes.

Feeling his stomach squirm uncomfortably, Sirius took a breath. He could do this.

"Listen, Remus, I have something important to tell you."

Remus looked at him seriously, a questioning frown on his face. Sirius tried not to get distracted by the lip-biting.

"This might be a little unexpected, but-"

"Did you hear that?" A hissed whisper from a few seats back reached Sirius's ears. "It sounds like he might be asking out Re-"

"Quiet!" another whisper interrupted sharply. "I can't hear them!"

Sirius's head hit the table with a thud.

"Mr. Black!"

Okay, so maybe the classroom wasn't the best place to confess your feelings to a friend, Sirius decided as he walked out of Transfiguration. He really should have thought of that. However, walking to class was perfectly fine! Especially now that James was hanging back to walk with Lily, a beaming smile permanently etched on his face, and Peter was tagging along behind James, leaving Sirius all alone with Remus.

"Remus?" he began hesitantly.

"Hmm?" Remus smiled that quirky half-smile at him.

"Um…okay…I know we're friends and all, not to mention we're both-"

"Shit! Is Black confessing? Dammit, I had my money on next Friday!"

Sirius resisted the urge to bang his head against the wall. "You know what, Remus? Never mind. I'll talk to you at lunch."

But Remus ended up skipping lunch, saying he needed to run to the library to check something for the next class. Silly boy. Didn't he know he was a growing werewolf and needed his food?

Sirius grabbed a sandwich and tucked it into his robes. Remus could eat it during History of Magic.

"Hey, thanks, Sirius," Remus smiled warmly as he accepted the sandwich. "I was getting hungry."

"Thought you might be." Sirius slumped into the seat next to Remus.

"So, what did you want to tell me earlier?" Remus took a bite out of the sandwich, chewing quietly.

Sirius straightened up and glanced around warily. There was practically no one in the classroom yet! Excellent.

"Okay, Remus, I want you to hear me out on this before you say anything, alright?" he said earnestly. "And I don't want to make things awk-"

"Sirius!" James burst into the classroom. "What are you doing in class so early?"

Sirius was going to kill someone. He wasn't even going to bother with a wand – just put his hands around the neck and squeeze the life out. James was looking like a pretty good candidate.

James appeared to understand the murderous glint in his eyes, because he chose to sit next to Remus rather than Sirius.

"I'll tell you later," Sirius growled to Remus through clenched teeth.

Maybe if he explained the circumstances, they wouldn't send him to Azkaban for whatever he did to James. It was a possibility.

"Hey, Remus?"

"Yes, Sirius?"

"What would you say if I told you-"


"Look, they're so cute together!"

Giggle. "Do you think they'll really start going out?"

"Definitely! I mean, look at them!" Unrestrained giggling.

"Never mind, Remus, I'll talk to you later."

This was ridiculous. Sirius was ready to just throw Remus against the nearest wall and snog the hell out of him, consequences be damned, because this was absolutely ridiculous.

Sirius had followed Remus to the bathroom – the bathroom, for Merlin's sake, like some kind of creepy stalker – and even there he couldn't have a private conversation.

"Listen, Remus-"

BANG! The bathroom door flew open and a hunched-over second year tumbled inside, pinching his nose as blood poured out. Another flustered second year rushed in after him.

"I told you not to try that spell! This is exactly what happened to me!"

"I doe, I doe! Dow help me ged the blood to stob!"

"I'll talk to you later, Remus."

Classes were over. Classes were over, and Sirius still hadn't told Remus how he felt.

Remus was just over there, across the classroom quietly packing up his things, still oblivious to Sirius's feelings.

It was looking more and more likely that Lily would carry out her threat and- Hey! Who was that tart hanging on Remus's arm?

Sirius glared at the encroaching, giggling tart. Had he been in his dog form, he would have bared his teeth and growled. He relaxed slightly, however, when Remus discretely shook his arm free and shouldered his book bag.

This was it, Sirius decided. The perfect time to quietly go somewhere private with Remus and at last confess his feelings. Classes were over, there was no one to interrupt-


Ah. And here was Remus himself. Perfect.

"Listen, I've got a prefect's meeting until dinner, would you mind taking my books back up to the dormitory?"

This was not happening. That would be too cruel.

"No. I don't mind. See you at dinner."

"See you."

Thud. Sirius's head hit the table.

Sirius jabbed his chicken fiercely. This was so stupid. Here was Remus (reading as usual), right across from him, and he couldn't say a word about how much he fancied him because of all the nosy busybodies around them. Jab. Jab. Jab.

"Ease up on the poultry, mate, it hasn't done anything to you," James smirked. Ooh, he knew exactly what was going on, the tosser, and was enjoying every minute of Sirius's torment. Sirius jabbed the meat even harder, pretending it was James's face.

James leaned over, and whispered tauntingly in his ear. "Better get a move on. Lily's got that look in her eye."

A quick glance at Lily showed that she did indeed have that look in her eye – that mischievous, determined look that always meant trouble for somebody else.

"Remus-" she began.

"No!" Sirius leapt from the bench.

"-could you pass me the salt?" she finished with a smug smile at Sirius.

Sirius sat down, too relieved to be embarrassed by all the eyes now watching him in unconcealed interest. He took a bite of his peas.

"Sirius?" Peter asked tentatively as Remus calmly handed the salt to Lily and returned to the book in his hand. "Are you okay there?"

James snorted.

"Fine. Why?" Sirius glared balefully at the shortest Marauder.

"No-nothing!" Peter stammered, turning back to his dinner hastily.

"Don't take it out on Peter," Lily gloated. "Why not just go ahead and tell-"

"Evans!" Sirius barked warningly. He wouldn't put it past her to reveal everything to Remus during dinner, of all times, while the rest of Hogwarts watched on nosily. Like they were doing now. Some were pretending to eat, at least making pretence of conversation, but the majority of them were staring in rampant and undisguised curiosity. He knew it. He could hear the whispers.

In fact, the only person who seemed completely uninterested in the conversation was Remus, who was serenely reading his book.

"You're being a baby, Sirius," Lily informed him.

"I don't care!" he hissed back.

"But it's silly!"

"So what!"

"You've had all day-"


"-and I think you should really-"


"-go ahead-"

"Don't you dare!"

"-and tell him how you feel now!" Lily finished triumphantly.

Sirius glared his fiercest glare at Lily.

Remus turned a page over.

Standing up purposefully, Lily called, "Remus!" and the boy looked up, politely inquiring.

"No!" Sirius shouted, jumping to his feet as well and almost overturning the water pitcher. He had to stop this!

"Remus!" he yelled before Lily could get another word in. "I want to snog you and shag you and do all sorts of gay things with you!"


Deadly silence filled the Great Hall.

Lily sat down.

Sirius was frozen, staring down at Remus in horror. Had he just said that? What happened to the 'Remus! Don't listen to a word Lily says!' he intended to say?

Remus looked absolutely stunned. His book had fallen forgotten on his plate – something he normally would be appalled about – and his mouth was hanging open slightly.

Time seemed to freeze as the two stared at each other with wide eyes. Nobody in the entire hall moved.

Then, a slow flush crept up Remus's face. "Er…really?" The question was hesitant, unsure.

Sirius could do nothing but nod wordlessly. He couldn't believe himself. He had just blurted that out, like a complete idiot, giving his friend no choice but to reject him in front of the whole school.

"Oh." Remus scratched the back of his head and looked away in embarrassment. "Um…thanks. Does this mean…you're asking me out?"

Another nod was all Sirius could manage.

"Oh," Remus said again, awkward and uncharacteristically flustered. "Er…well then. Huh. Uh…well…I'd like that too? So…yes?"

"Yes?" Sirius couldn't seem to make his brain understand the meaning of the word. Was 'yes' good?

"Yes," Remus repeated, more firmly this time.

Then Sirius's brain clicked together, suddenly working at high speed to make up for lost time. 'Yes' was good. 'Yes' meant Remus wanted to go out with him. 'Yes' meant Remus wanted to snog and shag and do all sorts of gay things with him – though he'd probably never say it that way.

Sirius leaned all the way over the table, one hand accidentally landing in the chicken platter and the other grasping at Remus's tie. He yanked, pulling Remus across the table as well, then crashed their lips together in a frenzied and slightly messy kiss.

'Yes' was amazing.

The Great Hall erupted into cheers – well, mostly cheers, but Sirius tended to ignore the Slytherin table anyway. And quite frankly, he had much better things to worry about at the moment.

"Sirius," Remus muttered breathlessly against his lips. "You've got your hand in the chicken."

"I know," Sirius breathed back, nuzzling his nose.

"And you're dipping my tie in the pumpkin juice."

"It'll come out."

"Are you sure about this? I mean, about us, are you sure you want to…."

Sirius pressed their lips together again, softer and gentler this time. "I'm sure. In fact, I think the whole school is sure."

Remus smiled that beautiful, quirky little half-smile of his. "Alright then."

Sirius decided to give Remus's mouth something much better to do than asking questions.

Among all the cheering and whistling, Sirius heard one last voice above the rest.

"Hey!" James shouted in gleeful realization. "I won the betting pool!"