Disclaimer: Nothing you recognise belongs to me.

A/N: This was written for the The "Inspiration of a Title"-challenge (created by CrAzY flamINGO anD. thE. ) over at the HPFC forum.

Details: A title was given for our story. The title was to be used as inspiration for the fic.

Provided Title: Never Stop Laughing

Prompts: nothing but crazy, everything spins


Never Stop Laughing

"Padfoot!"

Sirius started awake and spent a bleary, sleep-filled moment gazing at the crimson top of his four poster bed.

It's too dark, was his first thought.

Why the hell did Prongs wake me up? was the next.

His bed curtains parted to reveal a grinning James Potter.

"What the bloody hell is your problem, Prongs?" he mumbled, rolling over and pulling his sheets partially over his head. "Can't you let a bloke sleep in peace?"

He heard a derisive snort and opened his eyes. Remus was seated on his own bed next to Sirius', fully dressed and wearing a look of extreme antipathy. Sirius cocked an eyebrow at him in silent question.

"I was the first on he woke up," Remus replied before turning to James. "Over an hour ago." Sirius winced in silent sympathy.

James came around to the other side of the bed so that he could talk to both of them. Peter followed close behind, collapsing across the end of Sirius' bed and promptly dying. Or, at least, that's what it looked like to Sirius. He nudged Peter experimentally with a toe of his right foot.

"Urgh," Peter proclaimed despondently.

"Just checking," Sirius told him before turning back to James. "This is not on, mate. It's dark. We want to sleep."

The bespectacled boy grinned and said, "Don't care. The game's afoot. Pranking."

Sirius sat up and swung his legs over the side of the mattress, scrubbing a hand across his face. He gazed at Remus pointedly. The werewolf stared back with complete understanding.

"No more big people books for him, Moony," he stated anyway. "Only one's with small words and colourful pictures from now on, all right?"

Remus snickered at James' look of faint outrage. The comment even elicited a feeble, muffled laugh from Peter who had rolled over onto his stomach and had his face buried in the red bedspread.

"Where's your sense of adventure and excitement?" James cried in indignation.

"Those senses tend to leave us at three in the morning," Remus replied caustically.

James scoffed and threw his hands in the air. "You three are supposed to be Marauders! The only one I see here is me and that's no good. United we stand; divided we fall!"

He continued to rant for quite some time, waving his hands about energetically, spasmodically, and, with what Sirius assumed to be, a great deal of emotion on his part. He glanced at Remus and shrugged his shoulders, silently cocking an eyebrow again. Remus huffed out a breath of air and shook his head while his shoulders fell in defeat. Sirius smiled and turned to poke Peter in his side.

"What?" he squeaked out in surprise, starting back awake and jerking himself into a sitting position. James raged on.

"C'mon, Wormtail," Sirius told him. "The sooner we get this over with, the sooner we can all go back to bed and dream of murdering Prongs with a lorry loaded with Bludgers and frogs."

"Frogs?" Remus asked thoughtfully. "I was picturing Bludgers and Evans, myself."

"Now that's more like it, Moony!" Sirius said proudly. "Two of the things he loves most, turned against him."

"Well, we have been saying for years that they would be his downfall," Peter said, smothering a yawn.

"Indeed we have, Wormtail," Sirius murmured gravely. "Indeed we have."

"And here I had this whole great plan that involved Slytherins and Wormtail and you knobs are just going to…" James continued obliviously. Sirius rolled his eyes.

"Oi, Prongs!" he shouted over his friend's tirade. James turned to him with a look of utmost exasperation. "We're not going to be any good for pranks if you bore us to death with you monologue first."

James sputtered something incoherent as the other three grabbed the Map, Cloak, and other pranking necessities and ushered him out the door. He quieted once they made it through the portrait hole and led them down into the dungeons and to the Slytherin common room.

"All right, Wormtail," James whispered to the rat seated upon his shoulder, "scurry through that crack we found in the stones and open the door to their common room.

Wormtail squeaked in understanding as he climbed down James, ran beneath the edge of the Cloak, and disappeared into the stone wall. A few moments later there was a muffled creaking sound as a disguised portion of the wall swung outwards to reveal the Slytherin's green-cast common room.

"What now?" Remus asked quietly once they were inside.

"Now," James whispered as he snatched the bag of joke products from Sirius' hand and provided them all with a wicked grin, "we play."


The following morning, Sirius rolled Remus out of bed earlier than was strictly necessary. Remus was beyond caring after so many years of the same routine. He always groaned, stood up and got dressed, and followed Sirius wherever he chose. He never complained, though. He truly no longer minded and Remus had come to cherish these precious moments alone with Sirius.

Sirius was an early riser and had been for as long as Remus had known him. Even having acquired very little sleep for being awake half of the night before, Sirius was still up with the sun. Remus smiled at his friend's back as he was led into the common room.

"So, how do you think they'll react?" Sirius asked as he sprawled his limbs across the red couch.

Remus shrugged. "Same way they always do, I suppose."

"Yeah," Sirius agreed lethargically. "Evil glares…"

"Muttered accusations," Remus continued.

"And Snape will threaten us all, but never go through with it," Sirius finished, all emotion draining from his face.

He and Sirius generally avoided any mention of that particular Slytherin. And the name 'Snivellus' never came up in any conversation between the four Marauders. Any time he forgot and said something about him, or the name was mentioned in Remus' presence, Sirius boxed and closed himself off from everything around him. Remus felt as though his friend was always waiting for the other shoe to drop.

"Sirius," Remus sighed quietly as he leaned forward in his armchair to look at the dark-haired boy better, "I'm not upset about it anymore. You know that. I understand that you're sorry and I've let it go. Why do you still let it bother you so badly?"

The Animagus sat up and stared down at his knees, his lips pulling down into a frown. The flickering flames of the fire mixed with the strange half-light from the windows cast odd shadows across his face. Remus suddenly wondered if he'd been eating like he should have been.

"I know, Moony," Sirius murmured. "I know you forgave me and I'm grateful for that, I am." His fingers worked at the nail of his thumb. "I am so happy about that, but…well, I can't let it go, Remus." Sirius' eyes clenched shut as though he was trying to block out some sort of painful image. "I'm scared of ever hurting you again, Moony. I don't want to; I never wanted to."

"You won't," Remus assured him quietly.

"You don't know that, Remus," Sirius said in a strangled breath. "No one can ever know that. Nobody knows what I'm…capable of. Not even me." He finished in a loathsome murmur as he sank down inside himself and Remus felt his heart crack.

He moved quickly, taking up the seat beside Sirius and grabbed his chin in one hand, turning his friend's head to meet his mournful grey eyes.

"I know who you are," Remus said softly. "I may not know everything you're capable of, but who could ever know that about anyone? I do know who you are, though." Remus smiled.

"Who?" Sirius mumbled out dejectedly. His eyes never left Remus' brown ones.

"Well," Remus began, "for starters, you're my best mate. That's the first reason I forgave you. I kept trying to picture what my life would be like without you and I couldn't." Sirius gazed at him skeptically. "To lose you, Padfoot, for any reason, would be…utterly painful and heartbreaking. You've always been there when I've needed you, and more often than not, I never even have to ask. Where would I be without that support?"

Sirius shrugged.

"You're a Marauder," Remus continued. "You're the one that comes up with the maddest schemes and ideas. You're the heartthrob of Hogwarts; the one every witch wants. You're untouchable; the one that none of them can get.

"You feel things in ways that no other person does and you do your best to hide it, but you know you really can't." Sirius snorted and Remus grinned. "You're the object of McGonagall's affections, even though she pretends to despise you. And I have that on good authority, by the by."

Sirius choked and his eyes widened in barely contained amusement. "Whose authority would that be, then?" he asked.

"Well, Pete's, of course," Remus answered seriously.

"Oh, of course. How silly of me," Sirius scoffed sarcastically, his eyes dancing in mirth.

Remus hummed before continuing, "You are, Sirius, in every sense of the word and in your very essence, nothing but crazy." His grin softened. "And I wouldn't have you any other way."

The corners of Sirius' lips pulled up into a smile and his eyes sparkled with some unnamed emotion. Remus tried to study them and discern what it was, but Sirius turned away quickly, averting his eyes to the flickering flames. When he looked back, the emotion was smothered under gratitude.

"Thanks, Moony," he murmured softly. "I think I needed that." He searched Remus' face for a long moment before smiling again. I know who you are too, just so you know."

Remus wrapped his arm around the other boy's shoulders and Sirius leaned into the touch slightly. "You'll have to tell me some time, then."

"Yeah, I will. Some time," Sirius agreed, never taking his eyes off Remus' face.


When the foursome entered the Great Hall a few hours later, it was filled with the sounds of apprehensive murmurs. They cast a quick glance to the Slytherin table and saw that it was suspiciously empty. James grinned in triumph as he sat down at the Gryffindor table and clapped Peter on the back.

"This, gents," he said, "is the only nourishment I require. I have no need for food or drink. I am sated by the sight of success!"

Sirius glanced at Remus, who was seated beside him, and rolled his eyes.

"Ho!" James cried and pointed a finger at the two of them. "You mock now, but just wait and see! We shall be victorious! Students will sing our names to the highest of rafters for generations to come!"

Sirius threw a well aimed half slice of toast into James' mouth and the other boy choked, his newest speech effectively ended.

"Cut the act, Prongs," Sirius said with a smirk. "Evans isn't around to hear you."

James glared as Peter patted his back forcefully. Once his airways were clear of bread crumbs, he opened his mouth to voice a retort, but there was a shriek of inane laughter and his attention was redirected, his mood lifting immediately. He and Peter turned in their seats to look at the doors.

The Slytherins trooped through the entrance in various sized groups and a hush fell over the Hall for a long moment. Suddenly, snickers broke out before becoming full-fledged laughter moments later. The Slytherins were a very somber group indeed. Somber and ridiculous, all at the same time.

Sirius literally fell across the bench and into Remus when he saw Regulus Black walk through the doors. He made a desperate attempt to muffle his guffaws in the fabric of his friend's robes, but it was no good. The teddy bears waved and Sirius collapsed into hysterical, tear-pouring, breath-stealing gales.

Every Slytherin student, from the smallest first year to the largest seventh year, both male and female, was wearing their pyjamas. Only altered for the amusement of the rest of the school. There were dancing ballerinas on the burliest males, waving teddy bears that blew kisses on the most arrogant, silly clowns on the most depressing, and fuzzy, animated animal slippers for every single student.

Remus suddenly poked Sirius in the side and pointed towards the door when he had the boy's attention. Severus Snape was barreling in their direction with anger on his face and fire in his eyes. Sirius' laughter doubled. Snape was clad in nothing but fuzzy pink bunny slippers with too long ears that he tripped over when he walked and a pair of crimson pants that flashed 'I love James Potter!' in bright gold letters.

James turned and gaped at him and Remus in horror. "What – why did you do that?" he yelped.

Remus provided him with a complacent smile and answered, "We had to make it up to you somehow, Prongs. You didn't think we were going to let you go unrewarded after this morning, did you?"

Sirius grinned nastily at him across the table. "Don't disturb our sleep. You know better by now, surely."

"But – I – look at them!" he stuttered.

Sirius hummed. "It's quite something, isn't it? Wonderful legs, Snape. I would have never guessed."

Snape stopped behind James and Peter and glared at them all. "I know this was you four," he snarled. "And I know you can tell me the counter-curse to take these permanent spells off, so I want it. Now."

"Oh, it isn't permanent," Sirius assured politely. "Not even close, actually."

"It'll wear off by tomorrow morning," Peter continued. He paused and looked thoughtful for a moment. "Or the next."

Snape's eyes hardened into black stone as he glared across the table at Sirius. Then, to the Animagus' shock, he smirked and Sirius began to worry.

"Like my legs, Black?" Snape asked with a sneer. "I'm not surprised. I'm sure you spend enough time looking at everything you can around the castle." His eyes flicked to Remus and back again. "Tell me, do you still –"

"If you dare finish that sentence, Snape, a pair of bunny slippers and pants will be the least of your worries," Sirius said dangerously. Remus' hand appeared beneath the table and gripped his knee and Sirius restrained himself from reaching across the table and strangling the Slytherin. For Remus.

Snape stopped, glancing next to Sirius and saw the confusion flickering through Remus' eyes. He smiled bloodlessly.

"Oh dear," he whispered in mock distress. "You haven't told your pet?" He looked at Remus and held his gaze. "Did he ever tell you exactly why he did what he did? I'm sure he didn't. Why don't I take the problem off your hands, Black?"

Sirius' jaw clenched tighter and a muscle jumped beneath the surface. No, no, no, he thought desperately. Don't do anything. Remember what happened last time. You're lucky Remus is even still here at all. Don't risk it again.

"You see, Lupin," Snape continued, spitting the name out as though it disgusted him, "I discovered something that hit one of your precious little friend's nerves quite hard. He's been lying to you, Lupin. He's –"

"Mr. Snape," a sharp voice cut in, "I believe you should return to your table. You have no business being here."

Sirius wanted to shout to the bright blue ceiling in relief. Never had he been so happy to see McGonagall. Snape turned after throwing one more threatening glare in Sirius' direction and walked away. Their professor looked at them with narrowed eyes and tight lips.

"I'm assuming we have you four to thank for this, then?" she asked contemptuously. She sighed and massaged her temple with two fingertips. "Report to my office directly after dinner for detention tomorrow night."

"Professor," James spoke up as McGonagall started walking away, "you can't prove it was us."

"Mr. Potter," she said wearily, "after almost a full six years of dealing with the four of you boys, I no longer need proof." She eyed them strictly. "Tomorrow night; no excuses."

James physically deflated as he turned back to his friends. "Well, it was still a success," he reasoned.

"Too right it was," Sirius said, perking up instantly. "I believe this calls for a celebration of sorts." He peered at the others, a grin forming on his lips. "Anyone for a Hogsmeade run with me after classes?"


"They are quite pissed, aren't they?" Sirius said from the floor of their dormitory in regards to James and Peter.

"Well, yes," Remus said with only a slight slur, "but so are you."

Sirius was of the mind to agree. "But not as much as them. Bloody lightweights."

Remus hummed in agreement and gazed across the room to his two other friends. Peter was on the floor beside Sirius' bed, limbs sprawled haphazardly in every odd direction. He snored peacefully to the ceiling. James, for whatever reason, had initially been lying prone across Sirius' bed. Sometime between his last drink and falling asleep, he had fallen from the bed and landed across Peter's torso with his legs still propped up into the air. He nuzzled his nose into Peter's arm contentedly and snored as well.

"Pass me the bottle," Remus told Sirius. The dark-haired boy handed him the half-empty bottle of Firewhiskey (the last of the two he and James had taken earlier) and Remus took a large swallow. He noted, with a relatively small and inconsequential amount of concern, that his mouth, throat and stomach were more than completely numb. He shrugged to himself and took another swig.

"Oi! No hogging!" Sirius shouted. James snorted in his sleep.

Remus handed him the bottle back without fuss. "Well," he sighed, "this is a wonderful celebration. I love watching my mates drink themselves into a coma and then sleep it off."

Sirius choked and Remus grabbed his arm and shook it above his head vigorously.

"All right!" Sirius cried. "I'm fine; you can stop shaking my arm now."

"Oh," Remus said, staring at his own arm blearily. "Sorry, didn't realise." He dropped his arm back down, pulling Sirius' with him.

"Merlin," Sirius said after a moment of silence, "I can't take this anymore. C'mon, let's go up to the Astronomy Tower or something."

"Why?" Remus asked even as Sirius pulled him up by the arm Remus still had clenched around his wrist.

"Because it's hot in here for one," the Animagus replied as he withdrew the Cloak from James' truck and proceeded to dig through his to find the Map. "And for two, I just feel like it. It's always nice up there. Ah hah!" He unearthed the Map from a wad of old robes.

"I'm not sure if I ever want to touch that again," Remus said warily. "There's no telling what happened to those robes; I haven't seen them for at least three months, I don't think."

Sirius cocked his head as he stared at the material in his trunk for a long moment in thoughtful puzzlement. "Huh. You know, I can't actually remember what happened in those, but I know something did."

"My point exactly," Remus said as Sirius grabbed his hand and pulled his from the room.

They made it to the tower without obstacle and climbed the spiraling steps until they were standing at the top-most point, directly beneath the dark blanket of the sky. Sirius sighed and sank to the stones in boneless contentment. He patted the space next to him and motioned for Remus to sit beside him.

"It's a nice night," he said. "Enjoy it for once. You don't have anything to worry about when you're up here."

"How often do you come up here?" Remus asked after a contemplative minute, trying to organise his fuzzy thoughts.

Sirius shrugged as he stared upwards. "Couple nights a week, when there aren't any classes."

"How did we never realise it?"

"I only really ever do it when Prongs is out chasing Evans or you're holed up in the library," he said softly. "It's nice to clear my head sometimes, you know? I spent most of my time up here this past autumn after…well, after." Sirius sighed and shook his head, his eyes traveling across the sky to the far constellation of Lupus. "I couldn't stand being around you, Remus, knowing you didn't trust me; knowing you hated me. It was easier out here."

"I never hated you, Sirius," Remus told him quietly, but vehemently.

Sirius turned back to him and his lips pulled up into a sad half-smile. "You should have," he replied. "I would have, if it had been me."

"I'm not you, Sirius," he said softly.

Sirius' smile turned into a grin. "No, you're not, Remus," he said. "And I thank whatever deity is out there every day for that. You wouldn't be you if you were me."

Remus' mouth worked silently for a long moment before he finally gained his voice back. "That is the most confusing thing I have ever heard. Yet it still made complete sense."

Sirius laughed and lay back against the stone floor, Remus following after a few seconds. "I know," he chuckled.

Remus laughed with him and they lay together for a long time, both simply admiring the beauty of the heavens before them. He didn't spend enough time looking at the night sky, always terrified he'd see the moon and one time, just once, it would be full and too late. His friends couldn't protect him forever and he felt it in his very bones; in his heart. It was a nightmare he lived with, even in the daylight hours.

"Sirius?" he said after a lengthy silence. The other boy's head turned in his direction, an eyebrow rising questioningly. "What was Snape going on about earlier?"

Sirius tensed and his eyes widened almost imperceptibly. "Nothing important," he answered, turning his head away.

"It sounded like it was," Remus pressed gently. Sirius said nothing and Remus sighed. "Sirius, you know you can tell me anything; I won't say an ill word about it. Perhaps I can help you find a solution to the problem so that Snape won't be able to harass you with it anymore."

Sirius shoved himself up in to a sitting position so suddenly it made Remus' head spin. "It's not something that can be fixed, Rem," he murmured. "It's just something I have to deal with and I have been; for quite a long time."

Remus raised himself up as well and placed a soothing hand on Sirius' shoulder. He felt a muscle jump beneath the skin, but ignored it. "What are you dealing with, Pads?"

Sirius swallowed and moved his eyes to the distant forest. The silence grew and Remus began to wonder if Sirius was going to answer at all. He could feel his friend's muscles twitching beneath his hand at the tension radiating from the Animagus' body.

"I'm bent, Remus," Sirius whispered so softly, even Remus' enhanced hearing almost didn't catch the words. "I fancy blokes. I always have."

Remus was shocked into silence. Impossible, his mind shouted. Sirius couldn't fancy men; he was the heartthrob of Hogwarts. Remus had even said so to the boy that very morning. It just did not fit.

"I –" he began before pausing and clearing his throat. "I've never seen you with a…bloke."

Sirius turned to him, his grey eyes defiant and pleading at the same time. "When have you ever seen me with a bird?"

Well, that's an incredibly good point, he thought. Sirius…gay…right.

"Right," he said. "All right, I can handle this. 'S not like it's some large problem, is it? I mean, you're still the same person you've always been, right? Still Sirius; Padfoot."

Sirius' eyes softened and he nodded. Remus could tell by the movement of his mouth that he was biting the inside of his cheek. It was a nervous habit he'd always had. He shook his shoulder, where Remus' hand still rested and Remus released his grip. Instead of moving away from his friend, though, the way Sirius had intended for him to do, Remus stretched out his arm and wrapped it around his shoulders comfortingly. Sirius stared at him in bemusement.

"This isn't…awkward for you?" he asked tentatively.

"No," Remus answered. "Should it be?"

Sirius' grey eyes still stared at him. "'Suppose not," he replied in a soft murmur.

"Why didn't you tell us?" Remus asked.

Sirius sighed and shrugged. "I was worried about how you three would react."

Remus snorted and Sirius' eyes flashed with brief hurt.

"If you three can handle sleeping in the same room with a werewolf," Remus hurried to assure, "I don't think any of us have anything to ever worry about when it comes to reactions."

The dark-haired boy smiled and shook his head. "'Course we don't," he said. He ducked his head and looked at Remus from beneath his lashes sheepishly. "I was going to tell you. Eventually."

"Yeah," Remus said, "I know." He paused for a moment, considering. "Was that all that was about? Snape said he hit a nerve fairly hard. How did he even figure that out?"

Sirius had tensed again and Remus stopped his questioning to survey is friend. His eyes were clenched closed tightly and his hands were balled up into solid fists. The muscles in his jaw jumped as his teeth ground together and his body shook.

"There is more, isn't there?" Remus asked softly. Sirius provided him with a stilted nod. "You don't have to tell me, Sirius. I understand. One confession a night is more than enough."

"No," Sirius whispered. "No, I won't hold it in anymore. I'm tired of hiding and lying to the people I care about and I want it to end. Now. Even if you do hate me afterwards."

"Sirius, what are you –" Remus began, but was suddenly cut off as a pair of warm lips pressed against his. Remus was too shocked to do anything more than sit in frozen stillness.

Sirius pulled back and looked into Remus' wide, brown eyes. "I – I'm in love with you, Moony," he stuttered out quietly. "I have been for three years now."

Remus wanted to say something, anything, he truly did, but he was still frozen. He stared at Sirius as the boy gazed back in increasing nervousness. Remus' mouth finally managed to work a couple of times, but no sound came out. Sirius made a choking sound as he pulled back further, out from under Remus' arm, and stood, grabbing the Cloak and rushing out of the door and down the stairs. Remus realised he had left the Map behind.

The werewolf didn't leave the tower until the first streaks of dawn could be seen upon the horizon.


Sirius avoided Remus at all costs for the next three days. He couldn't face the boy after what he had done. He was an idiot and he knew it, but there was nothing that could be done for that. He would be damned if he would give Remus the chance to shove him aside, though. If Remus thought it would be painful for him to lose Sirius, there was no comparison to how much it would hurt for Sirius to lose Remus.

Then again, what is it I'm doing now? he thought reproachfully to himself.

Sirius shook his head and pulled his knees to his chest, glancing over the ledge of the Astronomy Tower barrier which he was seated upon. He looked across the school grounds and his heart ached when his eyes rested upon the beech tree. He could see himself and Remus now, seated beneath the tree – their tree – on warm, sunny days. He thought about how many times Remus had sat with his back pressed against the trunk, book in hand reading aloud to Sirius sprawled across the ground with his head resting in the werewolf's lap. His free hand would always rake its fingers through Sirius' hair and send him into a state of bliss that he had always sworn Remus would never, ever know about.

Sirius sighed and rested his chin against an upraised knee. "You've really bollocks things up this time, Padfoot," he murmured to himself.

"Can't be that bad," a voice said behind him.

Sirius twisted suddenly in surprise and had to grip the side of the ledge for fear of falling off. There was a snort and rustle of fabric. Remus appeared from beneath the Invisibility Cloak and ran a hand through his disheveled hair.

"You know," he said after a moment, "I'm almost positive there's a rule against sitting there. It's quite dangerous. Tallest tower of the entire school, besides Gryffindor."

Sirius refused to look at him. "What are you doing here, Remus?" he asked sullenly.

Remus sighed as he answered, "Trying to talk to you, you flee bitten mutt." He shook his head. "Honestly, what else would I be doing up here under the Cloak."

"Spying on students getting off so that you can fuel your perverse sense of kinkiness along with fulfilling your Prefectly duties?" Sirius replied immediately with a shrug. When he realised what he'd said, his eyes widened and he flushed.

Remus' lips tugged up in to a smile and he moved closer to Sirius. "I've missed that wit the past few days, you know?"

Sirius' eyes tracked him as he moved until he was seated across from him on the ledge. "Really? I don't see why," he scoffed.

"Do I have to repeat all the reasons for you?" Remus asked, his smile still in place.

"I'd prefer if you didn't," Sirius said dejectedly. "I don't deserve any of them."

"You know that isn't true, Sirius," he whispered.

Sirius' eyes blazed. "What are you doing here, Remus?" he snapped. "Really?"

The other boy's smile disappeared and his expression became stoic. "I need to ask you something," he said.

"Well, what is it then?" Sirius huffed out. "In case you can't tell, I'm a bit busy brooding here."

Remus moved closer and gripped Sirius chin between his thumb and index finger. He studied Sirius grey eyes for a long moment before saying, "Why do you love me?"

"I – what?" Sirius spluttered.

"You claim you love me," Remus told him. "I want to know why."

"I don't claim to," Sirius snarled. "I do."

"Then tell me why." Remus' golden-brown eyes gazed back at him calmly.

Sirius turned his head, breaking his chin out of Remus' grasp and stared across the grounds to the beech tree again. "I – you –" He broke off and swallowed roughly. "There isn't any specific reason. It's everything about you, Remus. Everything you do or say, it all just builds up around my heart and it's like you own me, but in a good way.

"I love how when you read to me, you're voice is just that perfect level. Like you're enjoying me hearing it as much as you're enjoying reading it at all. And I love how when you're fingers go through my hair, they always find the perfect spots to touch. I love your laugh and how I have to work to get it out of you. It's a challenge, and I live for it.

"You look at me and my heart soars and flies higher than any broom could ever hope to go. And I love you even more because it's you that makes it do that and no one else. I love how when you go to the library and you're really concentrating, you chew on your quill feathers and always end up with ink smeared across you face, somehow. And how when you come back or we finally drag you out, you always smell like old books and parchment and ink and dust. And I have to make some sodding excuse just so that I can get close enough to you to really smell it. To smell it enough to commit it to memory until the next time I'll be able to smell it again.

"When I look at you, or hear your voice or name, or even think about you, everything spins and it's like my whole world has been turned upside down. It's the most amazing feeling; you can't even imagine. You touch me and my whole body tingles. You whisper in my ear, something that only I can hear, and I can't breathe. It feels like my heart is going to leap right out of my chest anytime anything involving you happens."

Sirius swallowed again. "I don't know what love is supposed to feel like, Moony, or how it's supposed to go. Other people may call me an idiot because that's what I think it is, but I don't care. That's my love, Remus, and it always will be."

It was silent after he finished and Sirius wondered if he'd made Remus angry. It wasn't like him not to reply to something that was said, no matter what it was. He risked a glance in the boy's direction and was shocked to see Remus staring at him with glassy, tear-filled eyes that gleamed in the faint moonlight. He blinked and a tear spilled over and slid down his cheek.

Sirius acted on instinct. He leaned forward and reached out a hand to wipe the wetness away. "No, Moony, please don't cry. I'm sorry."

Remus' hand jerked up and grabbed Sirius' in midair before he could touch the pale skin. Sirius tried to pull his hand out of the other boy's grip and began to apologise for trying to touch him, when Remus leaned forward, shoved Sirius' back against the stone wall, and kissed him.

Sirius gasped in surprise and Remus took the opportunity to slide his tongue between his lips. Sirius moaned into his mouth and wrapped his arms around Remus' back, fingers clawing into his shoulders. Remus' hands came up and his fingers wove into Sirius' hair, working all the right places and Sirius groaned.

Lack of oxygen forced them to eventually part. Remus' lips moved along Sirius' jaw, planting warm, open-mouthed kisses along the bone until he reached his ear.

"I love you, Sirius," Remus whispered.

Sirius grinned and nuzzled his nose into Remus' neck. "Love you too, Remus."

Hours later found them wrapped in one another's arms on the stone floor of the tower. Remus lay on top of Sirius, his hands still working through the dark hair. He leaned in and kissed Sirius again.

"Never stop laughing," Remus murmured against his lips.

Sirius kissed him back, slow and long before whispering back, "Never start crying."