For the "Maybe in another life, I could have loved you" challenge by Aries Diamonds on HPFC.

Warning: Remus swears. Once.

I own nothing.


"Another Life"

In the softy, breathy silence after what is one of a hundred kisses, Regulus murmurs, "I love you."

Remus pulls his head back slightly. "Well, shit." Regulus startles at the word – he still doesn't expect obscenities from Remus. They're typically few and far between. Well, excluding that night in Regulus's fourth year – the night Regulus still has no idea what happened, but he knows Sirius messed up badly, and Remus's eyes glowed with fury and his hands shook with fear.

But, for tonight, Regulus knows that he isn't really experienced in relationships – yet he's experienced enough to know that swearing is not exactly a desirable response to a statement like his.

Remus slides back, away from Regulus – yet not too far.

"I'm sorry," he says, true regret in his tone. "I never meant… I never meant to let it go this far." Regulus can't let go of his gaze; there's a deep sadness in Remus's eyes, as there usually is, but it's rawer than usual, and deeper.

"I'm sorry," he says again. "Maybe… Maybe, in another life, I could have loved you. Maybe, if things were different, this could have worked."

"I don't…" Regulus says. He means to end the statement with understand, but the word just won't slip off his lips. It catches in his throat.

Remus smiles softly, sadly. "Regulus, think about it," he says, but, as easily as the words could be condescending, from Remus, they just aren't. "You're a Slytherin, and I'm a Gryffindor. We're destined to be on opposite sides of this war."

Regulus shakes his head. "I don't believe in destiny," he murmurs stubbornly. "I make my own choices. I decide where my life is going to go, who I'm going to be. That's up to me. The same way it's up to everybody else."

Remus smiles wryly – just with his mouth, not with his eyes. "My life… is not where I would have chosen it to be. I didn't choose this – no one in their right mind would."

And Regulus knows that he's talking about the thing that everyone seems to know except him – the big secret that Remus has always been hiding, and no matter how much Regulus tries to prove that he's trustworthy, tries to make Remus trust him, Remus doesn't, and Regulus has to live with the wondering.

But the thing that he doesn't know about isn't a very good argument against Regulus. "I can't believe that. I can't believe that I don't have a choice in where my life goes."

"You may not or may not believe it," Remus says. "But what matters is whether or not it's true. And, fact is, there are just some things that are beyond our control."

"So that's it, then?" Regulus asks. "You're ending this because you think it's doomed to fail? Of course it's going to fail if you end it!"

"It's called a self-fulfilling prophecy," Remus mutters sadly. "And I know that, but… Look, this isn't worth… I'm not worth getting hurt over."

"That's my decision."

"No," Remus murmurs. "It's not."

Regulus's eyes flash. "You can't decide what's best for me!"

A dark, humorless mirth sparks in the depths of Remus's amber eyes. "Oh, so now it's not up to choice anymore? Now that someone's chosen something you don't agree with, it's not up to choice?"

"That's not what I meant!"

"Oh? Then what did you mean?" Remus's tone is harsher, more derisive than he'd normally be, especially with Regulus. And Regulus isn't stupid – it's a thinly veiled attempt to push him away. Still, it hurts more than he'd like.

"There are some decisions," Regulus says carefully, each word deliberate. "There are some decisions that require more than one person, because they involve more than one person."

Remus grimaces bitterly. "There will always be people who make decisions, regardless of who they affect."

"You're right," Regulus says coldly. "They're called sociopaths."

Remus's eyes narrow and darken. Regulus wants to snatch the words from the air, unsay them, but he knows he can't.

"I'm sorry," he tries, but Remus is already shaking his head.

"See? This can't work – not in this life. And this is the life we're stuck with. Maybe, in another life. Merlin, you don't know how much I wish… but we're not in another life, we're in this one, so I can't. We can't."

Regulus says softly, "Self-fulfilling prophecy."

Remus shakes his head. "It's more than that. It's destiny, come early." He gets up. "We have to face it, Regulus. In this life, we were never meant to be."

And Remus turns around and walks away without looking back. Regulus bites his lip, firmly. Blacks don't cry, he tells himself, but that doesn't stop the tears from falling.