Remus Lupin was leaning on a low glass wall, looking out over the train station. His dark blonde hair was longish, but neat and combed away from his face. Underneath the curly fringe his grey eyes were alert. He had been at King's Cross since 7.30 am, and in all other circumstances he would have been falling asleep on his feet by now.
What was keeping Remus awake wasn't the super-supreme extra large black coffee he had bought with muggle money on his way here, and neither was it the breakfast of Honeydukes chocolates left over from the summer holiday. No, the reason Remus's eyelids were holding themselves up with such fervor, was because this was their owner's first opportunity to lay eyes upon Sirius Black in three months.
Some people will tell you that three months isn't all that long. These people have obviously never been in love, have hearts the size of peanuts and should be shunned.
Not that Remus would ever publicly admit to being in love. In his heart of hearts he had known it for about two years, and he had managed to admit it to himself last year. But own up to it outside his own private thoughts? Never!
It wasn't as if he didn't know how to keep a secret. After five years of sneaking out of school every month at full moon without getting noticed and a lifetime of acting normal back home, Remus Lupin was a veritable master of deception. But he would never forgive himself for what might happen to Sirius if the Black family found out their eldest son was romantically involved with a boy.
Okay, romantically involved might be a slight overstatement.
In Remus' mind he and Sirius were like the protagonists a Shakespeare play (which sometimes evolved into a smutty movie). But real-life Sirius wasn't quite as easy to handle. The two boys were definitely good friends – it was Sirius who had first made contact with Remus and introduced him to James and Peter. And even though everyone knew Sirius' best friend was James, Remus couldn't help but wonder what that made him. Sirius was a very physical person and hugged people left and right, but he didn't go to sleep in everyone's lap at night. Or in their beds, sometimes. He didn't look at everyone like he looked at Remus.
Or at least this was what Remus told himself on late nights when he lay awake, a ball of red-eyed angry frustration staring at the drapes around Sirius' bed and trying to understand the stupid, beautiful boy sleeping behind them.
It didn't really matter, though. Even if Remus had been brave enough to make a move with Sirius (the very thought of this made his cheeks turn crimson), he couldn't risk it. The Blacks didn't know their son was friends with a werewolf, and the risk of that revelation was enough. Now that Regulus had started in Hogwarts, strange stories about Sirius' were likely to reach the Blacks' ears. So Remus kept his thoughts to himself.
As Remus stood pondering the extent to which Walburga and Orion Black had mastery of his love life, he noticed a dark haired figure at the farthest wall by the vending machines. With a jolt in his chest, he straighened up and ran a hand through his hair.
Remus has always found Sirius maddeningly attractive.
Even at the start of first year, when Sirius was a distant and disdainful rich boy who nobody could understand how ended up in Gryffindor. Of course, the attraction was neither conscious nor romantic at the time. Only the quiet joy of seeing something beautiful from afar.
Much as Remus' personal liking of Sirius had increased over the years, the "afar"-part never quite disappeared. Sometimes it felt like Sirius knew everything about Remus (well, apart from the fact that Remus wanted to snog him silly), but Remus knew next to nothing about Sirius' life outside Hogwarts. There were strict rules for what Sirius would and would not talk about.
The pretty never stopped, though.
But as the distant dark figure moved over to the vending machines (it was Remus who had showed him how to use those), Remus could see him more clearly. His unruly friend had always had a slim build. Remus saw a picture of his mother once, and it seemed to run in the family. Now, however, Sirius was plain scrawny. His trousers looked baggy, and the fitted shirt showed off a much more narrow frame than Remus remembered from june.
Remus sighed to himself, running a hand through his honey blonde hair again. This was one of those things they didn't talk about.
Sometimes, Sirius sort of stopped eating. He didn't do it in a dramatic, look-at-me-I'm-so-sad type of way. He acted just like normal – at mealtimes too – and if you didn't pay attention you would never notice that hardly anything travelled off his plate and into his mouth. But then he got skinnier of course, and even Peter sometimes remarked that Sirius looked sick. Not to his face of course.
It didn't happen very often, but it worried Remus all the same. And it made him uncomfortable, because he felt like a bad friend for doing nothing about it.
Remus detached himself from his glass wall, and started moving towards where Sirius still struggled with the vending machine. Maybe Remus hadn't taught him that well, after all.
Just as Remus wiggled between an elderly woman and a suit-clad man, Sirius looked up from the machine. Remus felt a familiar surge in his stomach as those dark grey eyes found his. Then Sirius grinned, and Remus inhaled sharply as his body tingled with sudden happiness.
"Sirius!" he shouted, in a rare moment of not caring that he was attracting attention in a public place.
"Moony, you're here!" Sirius' voice was incredulous, but he grinned widely as he bounded towards Remus and pulled him into an enthusiastic hard hug.
"You really are mad, you know that? It's barely 8 in the morning! What are you doing here?!" he exclaimed, his voice hitching a little at the end when Remus patted his back. Remus instantly reddened, worried it had been less of a manly pat and more of a longing stroke. He let go at once, stepping back to look at the face he had missed so much over summer.
Sirius winced slightly and stretched his shoulders, but made no comment on the touching.
"Well you know," said Remus lightly, "I woke up early. Figured I might as well come down here, seeing as I was up." He gave his friends a crooked smile.
They both knew this was just an excuse – Remus and Sirius had been meeting in Kings Cross like this for the past three years. In third year, Remus had been here early because his dad was catching a morning flight, and Remus had wanted to take the train to London with him. And then he had met Sirius in the train station, both of them equally surprised and pleased to find a friend to spend the morning hours with. Since then, Remus had been taking the 6.30 train on September first every year. He liked these mornings.
"So, how was it this year?"
"The holiday? Same as always," Sirius shrugged. "A bit of sun, a bit of rain, a lot of Blacks. Nothing to report." He finished this matter-of-factly statement by grabbing Remus' shoulder and steering him towards the nearest bench. "But enough about me!" he added in a most un-Sirius like way."On to more interesting and less Dark supremacisty things; How about you, Moony old mate? How's your old dad doing, and how did the camp thing go this year?"
Remus chuckled as he was dragged down on the wooden seat next to an energetic Sirius. Sirius had never quite gotten his head around the idea of camping, and always asked about it. When Remus first told him about the annual camping trips he and his dad used to go on in summer, Sirius had though it was a joke. Then he had asked if Remus and his dad had been kicked out of their house.
As Remus started recounting the story about the rain storm which had hit them the first night, he felt himself relax as if soaked in a bubble bath. He, Remus, loved his dad, and he loved spending time with him in summer. But he had missed seeing Sirius, with his energetic gesturing and the spark in his grey eyes, and how he couldn't sit still for even one second.
"Your dad really is crazy, you know" said Sirius as Remus finished his story. "I'm pretty sure he's the only wizard who would willingly live in a canvas tent with no heating, no kitchen, and not even proper walls! And go fishing without magic!"
"Well, yeah" Remus smiled, "he's not too bad. Even when he makes us sleep outside under the open sky in a storm."
"WE should do that sometime! I want to see this place you're always talking about, with the water and fish and storms and everything", said Sirius enthusiastically. He had probably never held a fishing rod his entire life, though Remus. Or seen a tent without at least five bedrooms and a couple of fireplaces. Wait, did he say we? As in, Remus and Sirius in a teeny tiny tent in the middle of a forest?
"Er, I'll take you! To the forest I mean, camping. I mean, if you want to, not that you..I mean, we could ask Prongs and Wormtail too, you know? Or not, I dunno." Remus knew he was stuttering, and fished through his brain for less delicate topic.
" Er, but how about you Padfoot, don't your family ever go on holidays? I mean, you never really tell me anything about what you do all summer?"
Sirius' smile waned a little, and for a moment he just looked at Remus without saying anything. "My father isn't quite like yours Remus" he finally said. His lip curled a little, turning his half-smile into a grimace.
"When I was little, I used to wish that Father and Mother would take me with him when they went away. They used to go on trips sometimes. Or, I don't really know where they went, but sometimes they'd leave for a couple of days or a week or two, and Regulus and I would be left at home with Kreacher. Regulus used to be such a baby back then, I remember him always crying."
Remus didn't say anything, not wanting to disturb this unexpected flow of information.
"He was always asking, Regulus I mean, where Mother and Father had gone. It was annoying. " Sirius fished out a packet of cigarettes from his pocket, offering one to Remus.
"In the end I had to make up stories for him, jus so he would be quiet. Sometimes I told him our parents hadn't gone away at all, that they were just playing hide and seek. He'd amble around the house for hours looking for them, until he forgot or got so tired he fell asleep. And sometimes I'd tell him they were with other kids just like us, except those children didn't have any parents. So Mother and Father had to visit them. All crap of course. But I think he believed it for a couple of years."
Sirius looked up again at Remus, offering him a light. Remus lit his cigarette.
"I have no idea where they went actually. Our parents, I mean. Could have gone camping, for all I know. Doesn't matter anymore though, Reg is old enough to not cry about it anymore, so I'm not bothered."
"Hm," said Remus. He watched the smoke curling up from Sirius' cigarette, afraid to break the mood.
And he really didn't know what to say. In fact, he felt a little overwhelmed. Sirius hadn't really told him anything about his parents or childhood before. At least not beyond the lines of "they are crazy Slytherins with no souls".
Sirius suddenly got up from the bench, shaking his head as if to clear it. "Whatever. Want to grab a coffee and see if that hot muggle girl from last year still works here?"
Remus got up and followed his friends towards the cafè they always hung out in when waiting for the train together. Despite his best efforts to quench it, a small voice in his head was whooping. Not about Sirius' family situation – and certainly not that strange detached way in which he spoke of it, as if he didn't have any sadness left to feel over it. But about the fact that Sirius has told him about it. Had told him, Remus. And he had a feeling that this wasn't something Sirius went around sharing with just anyone.
The thought made Remus' insides do the happy dance, even as he watched Sirius chat up the pretty, curvy blonde behind the counter. Well. It might not be a breakthrough, but it was a start. A first.