Warnings: Sexual content, ridiculous amounts of boy kissing, some roughness, and a line stolen shamelessly from a children's movie (yeah, I watch Disney when I write slash).

Notes: Written for the Interhouse Fest on LJ. Hugs and kisses to Muse35 for the beta!


With Eyes Painted Blind

"Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind,
And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind."

-William Shakespeare (A Midsummer's Night Dream)

oOo

"Ha! Take that! Sniveling little baby! Argh!"

Shouted curses and grunts of pain quickened Remus's pace as he hurried around the corner towards the sounds of people fighting. Two students were struggling against each other. He watched, a little perplexed, as the smaller of the two held the larger in a fierce headlock, their wands lying harmlessly on the stone floor.

Sirius threw his weight behind him, knocking his brother against the ornate gold frame hanging on the wall, but Regulus held firm, grunting with the effort of keeping Sirius in the stranglehold. The fop in the powdered wig gave an indignant cry of, "Brutes," and stalked off to who knew where.

Remus winced in sympathy as a sharp elbow collided against Regulus's cheek. Deciding he'd seen enough he pointed his wand at the pair and shouted, "Relashio!"

Regulus reeled back with a hiss like an angry cat, releasing Sirius, whose face was slowly returning to its normal color now that he was free to breathe once more. "Accio!" said Remus as Sirius made a dive for their discarded wands.

The look of fury Sirius gave him would have sent grown men running. Remus lifted his chin and quirked one brow as if to say I dare you. Sirius only smiled. "My wand, Moony. If you don't mind. My little brother here needs to be taught a lesson."

Remus did not back down, despite years conditioning urging him to give in to Sirius's every whim. "No. You'll get it back later. When I'm convinced you'll not use to hurt, maim, or otherwise seriously injure students younger than you."

"Fat chance of that ever happening," said Regulus. Remus sent him a glare.

"See? He's just a back-talking little snake. Here, let's give him a forked tongue to match." Sirius made a grab for the wands but Remus danced just out of his reach.

"No. Just go, Sirius. Or I'll report this to McGonagall."

"Go ahead," said Sirius, crossing his arms over his chest in challenge. "I could serve that detention in my sleep."

They glared at each other for a solid beat. "Regulus," Remus said, never taking his eyes off Sirius's. "Did you know, in our first year, your brother used to sleep with a little stuffed—"

"Alright! Godric, Moony, low blow," he said before storming off.

Pocketing the wands, Remus pulled out the folded bit of parchment from the front of his robes and watched the dot labeled Sirius Black move further and further from their location. The dot labeled Regulus Back, however, was moving closer to him.

"I suppose I should thank you," Regulus said, standing so close that their two dots became an indistinguishable Remulus Blupin spot on the map. Remus looked up at the boy, admiring his full, pink lips as they twisted into a familiar smirk, mere inches from his own. Warm puffs of breath caressed his face as Regulus spoke. "It is customary, after all."

"No thanks are necessary," Remus assured him, making a mental note to check the name charm on the map later before tucking it back into his robe. Regulus had not moved.

"Such a modest hero," Regulus murmured, his voice going low and husky. Pale fingers toyed with the end of his tie, winding around the red and gold fabric idly. "Lucky for me that you just happened to be making your rounds then."

Lips twitching, Remus said, "I think Sirius is the lucky one, judging by that choke-hold you had him in. Perhaps I ought to collect my thanks from him?"

Regulus growled low in his throat. "Like hell."

Stumbling slightly, Regulus pulled him forward, tie still twined around his fingers, until Remus was pinning him against the wall, their lips already locked in a brutal kiss. A groan passed between them when their bodies made contact, sending sparks of pleasure up Remus's spine, though he was unsure who exactly had uttered it. Teeth bit sharply on Remus's lip, followed quickly by an urgent swipe of tongue, soothing the bite but demanding entrance all the same.

Remus parted his lips and melted into the kiss as Regulus sucked greedily on his tongue, one clever hand winding around his waist, the other holding him in place by his tie. He loved when Regulus got possessive. A burning heat began unfurling in the pit of Remus's stomach. He only just resisted the urge to grind his hips into the other boy and chase the burning heat to completion.

"You don't have to start fights to get my attention, you know," Remus panted when they broke apart, moving to run his lips over the warm skin of Regulus's jaw and neck.

He felt Regulus's throat undulating as he chuckled. "How do you know I started it?" he said in a tone that was almost a pout.

"You're saying you and Sirius just happened to get into it during my rounds? In my part of the castle no less?"

"Hmmm. Funny coincidence."

Their lips met again. Tender this time, slowly savoring each brush of lip and tongue. Remus sighed into the kiss, wanting it to last. Reluctantly, Remus pulled away again after several moments. "I know you've only been a prefect for four months, so I'll let you in on a little secret. Killing other students is definitely against the rules."

Snorting, Regulus said, "Yeah, well, he'd deserve it."

Remus hummed noncommittally. Sirius's relationship with his family was strained these days and Remus preferred to keep from taking sides. One of the wonderful things about Regulus was that he did not push Remus to do so, perhaps because they both knew, deep down, who Remus would choose.

"I should get back," Remus said, stepping out of Regulus's embrace, feeling the loss of closeness keenly.

"Must you?" Regulus whined. "It's been ages. I feel like I never see you."

"I know. Perhaps we could have another funny coincidence during your rounds Tuesday night?" Remus suggested, slipping Regulus's wand from his pocket and handing it to him.

Regulus took the wand, analyzing it closely. "It's Snuffles, isn't it?" he asked after a moment of silence. Remus stared and Regulus offered a small chuckle. "Sirius's little stuffed dog? He's had it forever. Didn't know he'd brought it with him though." Regulus tapped his temple and smiled wickedly. "Thanks, Lupin. Tomorrow then."

oOo

The light of the waning moon above glared mockingly down at Remus as he sat, hunched on the hard stone wall of the Astronomy Tower. It was miserably cold out. The stone was hard and unforgiving beneath him; his clothing, painfully thin as it was, allowed the chill to seep through with ease and settle deep into his bones.

Wind whipped his hair back, sending another frosty chill down his neck. He took a shivering breath, welcoming the mind-numbing cold. Anything to keep him from thinking about the nightmare that had been the last few days.

Behind him, Remus sensed a familiar presence approaching slowly. Hesitantly.

A menacing growl bubbled in Remus's throat, and was he just about to tell Sirius to take his apologies and fuck right off when a warm coat was draped across his shoulders. Transferred heat from the coat's owner bled into skin. The unique scent of wind and old books and citrus oil used to polish brooms enveloped him, and Remus nearly sighed in pleasure, wanting to hide himself away inside the expensive fabric.

Regulus sat close beside him. He reached over and took one of Remus's ungloved hands in his, working the cramped digits open to curl around his fingers. They sat like that for some time.

"Are you alright?" Regulus asked softly.

Remus gave the hand a squeeze, feeling a bit of life returning to the deadened extremities. He nodded. "Yeah. I'm alright. Now."

oOo

An irritated finger poked Remus none-too-friendly in the side. He grunted, eyes still closed, and the finger prodded him again. Disgruntled, Remus slapped the hand attached to the offending finger.

"Bugger off, Padfoot! Merlin, didn't you get enough abuse last night?"

"Did he now?"

Remus cracked his eyes open. The Hospital Wing was dark and completely empty. Moonlight shone from the high windows above. Brown eyes landed on Regulus who was seated on the bed beside Remus wearing a sour expression.

"Reg? What're you doing here?"

"I think the better question is: what are you doing here? Or better yet: what, in Salazar's name, does my brother have to do with anything presently?"

A sigh escaped Remus before he could prevent it. "Nothing, Reg. You know it's not like that."

Warm breath hovered just over Remus's mouth. Though he was tired and tetchy, he arched upward, keen for a taste of the lips only just out of reach. Regulus spoke. "You know, I went to great pains to have that note delivered to you yesterday. I do not appreciate being stood up, Lupin."

Remus bit back a frustrated groan. "A house-elf accosted me while I was in the loo. You call that going to great pains?"

"Don't try to talk around the issue." Remus could feel the annoyance on the words this near. Pink, inviting lips hung teasingly close. "I asked you to meet me last night. I managed to get someone to take over my rounds because we hadn't spent time together in weeks!"

"I didn't exactly plan to fall ill, you know." Not a lie, really.

Regulus pulled away. "Hmph. Why are you so ill all the time anyway? Nothing contagious, I hope."

"Of—of course not," Remus said around a yawn. He stared sleepily into the concerned blue-grey eyes. Lifting one sluggish arm he wrapped his hand around the back of Regulus's neck and pulled him close, letting loose a careless, "I love you," before claiming the other boy's lips for his own.

Regulus melted into the kiss, tongue curling sensuously around Remus's before he groaned, and pushed Remus away with a scowl. "Why do you have to go and ruin a perfectly enjoyable evening with your sentimental rub—"

Remus cut him off with another kiss. "Say you love me."

"No. I refuse. I'm not going to lie to you, Remus."

"Reg…" Remus pleaded, "I'm ill."

Sighing Regulus reached a hand to smooth the blankets over Remus's chest. "Fine. I…return your affection."

oOo

Regulus had a ritual. Every day, for the last several years, from July to September, Regulus would mark an X in bright red ink that he pilfered from his father's study on the little calendar pinned to his wall, displaying the days left before he would return to Hogwarts.

Sixty days until he'd be able to fly his broom again.

Fifty until he could curl up into his favorite armchair in the Slytherin common room with a new book.

Forty-two days before he could dock points from some stupid first year.

Regulus marked an X on the calendar the day after Sirius left. Red ink dribbled past the lines of the little black box—a fat dollop sneaking into the panel of another day in the future. Regulus swiped at the splotch with his thumb, smearing the ink across several days. He grimaced at the smudge of red and sucked the ink off his finger.

Thirty-four days before he'd see his brother again.

He stopped marking the days after that.

A letter arrived some time in the middle of the week smeared by Regulus's thumb print.

It was rather short.

R-

I hope you're alright.

-R

Regulus tucked the letter beneath his pillow and began marking the dates again.

Twenty-eight days and he would be with Remus.

oOo

Gambling was not something Remus regularly engaged in. Life had dealt him a rather rubbish hand, and he didn't fancy his odds when it came to games of chance. But considering the game was Quidditch, he felt secure in the knowledge that James Potter was a sure thing.

Regulus glared resentfully up at Remus, kneeling beneath the Gryffindor stands after the match, golden wings still fluttering in his clenched fist. Remus tried very hard not to smirk. Granted Regulus had caught the snitch, but James had scored no less than thirteen of the twenty-two goals that had secured a Gryffindor victory. He almost felt sorry for the Slytherins and was happy Regulus had managed to salvage some of their pride.

"Do you always let your friends fight your battles for you?"

Remus ignored the taunt and ran his hand through Regulus's windblown hair. A surprise thrill shuddered through him at the sight of the other boy, kitted out in Slytherin green Quidditch gear, kneeling before him. He touched Regulus on tip of his nose. "Let's not be a sore loser. It was your idea to make the wager after all. Of course, if you want to back out, I'd understand."

His hips jerked roughly forward when Regulus pulled at the front of his belt, undoing it with ease. Oh, the pride of a Black.

The snitch was thrust into his palm. "For the love of Merlin, don't lose that!" Regulus said before making short work of the now insistent problem between his legs.

When he'd finished, Remus released the little golden ball, watching it flutter and speed off. "If you can catch it in less than ten minutes," he told Regulus breathlessly, "I'll return the favor."

oOo

"I thought I saw him go this way."

"This would be much easier if you hadn't lost the bloody map."

"Would you mind very much shutting the hell up about that? Oi, Remus!"

Remus bit his lip to keep any sound from escaping him. A smile pressed against his neck before parting, kissing the flutter of pulse, and then biting firmly. His fingernails scrambled against the wood door Regulus currently had him pinned to. The sound of his friends' voices was growing closer.

"Reg…" Remus gasped as a knee shifted between his legs. A low groan escaped him as sparks of desire danced up his spine every time Regulus shifted against him.

Regulus sucked on the bite, warm pleasure unfurling at the base of Remus's spine, and he knew he'd have an incriminating red welt to explain later. Pulling away, Regulus gave him an infuriating smirk. "Don't you even think about healing that."

Before he could respond, Regulus reached for the door handle digging into Remus's side and turned it. His support gone, Remus stumbled backward and nearly fell, saved at the last minute by James Potter who caught him around the arms.

"Hello, Moony. What are you doing falling out of empty classrooms, eh?"

"Er," he said intelligently as he righted himself.

Sirius gave him a curious look and poked his head into the room. Remus sent a silent thank you to the universe that he and Regulus had met, this time, in a room that contained a very convenient second exit.

"Whoever he was snogging is gone."

"I wasn't—"

Sirius gripped his chin, tilting it up to expose the red bite. The smirk on his handsome face was maddeningly reminiscent of Regulus's only moments ago. Blushing furiously, Remus pulled away. Both James and Sirius were sniggering.

"Oh…just…shut up or I'll eat you both next full."

oOo

"I'm a werewolf."

"Nobody is perfect."

"I know some people who would disagree."

"That's where you go every month then? I knew something was up."

"I can't help noticing you're not running away screaming."

"Of course not. I return your affection, remember?"

oOo

Remus hurried through the castle, feet slapping loudly against the stone floor as he tore through the halls. He hadn't been able to find Regulus in any of the usual places. The train taking him back to London and away from Hogwarts for the last time would be leaving in less than an hour. If he didn't find Regulus soon he'd miss his chance.

He pushed past a group of tiny Hufflepuffs bearing trunks and down a corridor of unused classrooms hidden by a large tapestry. The door to their favorite classroom at the end opened just as Remus reached for the handle and Regulus stepped out.

Remus sighed in relief, reaching for the other boy, but stopped short when Snape, Avery, and Mulciber filed out behind him. Remus let his hands drop to his sides.

"Are you lost, Loopy?" Avery asked. He and Mulciber shared a laugh at the old taunt. A muscle twitched in Snape's jaw. Regulus remained silent, his eyes glued to the floor.

"Just checking for any stragglers," said Remus calmly. As if being caught alone in an empty corridor by four Slytherins was nothing to be concerned over. He cleared his throat. "The train will be leaving soon."

"Oh!" Mulciber hit is forehead with his palm, coming up beside him. "Thank you, Loopy!"

"Yeah! How can we ever repay you?" Avery asked, eyes cruel as they surveyed Remus. "I know…"

Remus doubled over in pain, his breath leaving him as a fist connected with his stomach. Another hit his back knocking him to the floor. Out of the corner of his eye, Remus saw a leg swing back, and he curled in on himself waiting for the blow.

"Stop," a voice said. Regulus was staring coldly down at him. "Let's go. He's not worth it."

The four boys swept past him. Remus bit back a cry of pain as one of them tread on his fingers. "Have a nice life, Loopy!"

He watched as one by one the four boys disappeared behind the tapestry, the smallest of the four hesitating for moment. Pale hands that only four nights previous were bringing Remus joy gripped the hanging fabric. Remus caught a glimpse of the boy's profile, eyes closed tightly, before he too swept out of the hall and Remus was alone.

Getting gingerly to his feet, Remus took several deep breaths. "Goodbye, Regulus."

oOo

Bile frothed and threatened to spill from his throat as Regulus stooped and kneeled on the hard stone floor of the Malfoy's sitting room. He pressed his lips to the hem of the wizard's robe that towered before him and warned his stomach that any mess would be met with certain death.

He breathed deeply, ignoring the lingering burning on his arm.

"Master."

oOo

"Moooooooony!"

Remus looked up into a dazzling smile and unfocused eyes. He glanced at the half-empty flute of champagne in Sirius's hand and shook his head. "How much have you had?"

"It's a wedding, Moony! Try to lighten up, yeah?"

"Constant vigilance, Pads. You ought to know. I'm certain Moody's pounded it into your arse on more that one occasion."

"Well, you'd know all about arse pounding now wouldn't you?"

Sirius smirked, looking very pleased at his little jab at Remus's preferences. Remus glanced around but his fellow wedding guests were not paying any attention to them. The groom had lifted the bride over his shoulder and was currently spinning her around the dance floor—the red-haired woman shrieked and laughed—and the inside joke about homosexual werewolves had gone quite unnoticed.

"Careful, Sirius. I might start taking your constant joking as a proposition pretty soon."

Remus caught a whiff of expensive aftershave and alcohol as Sirius leaned close, his smile turning particularly wicked. Sticky lips ghosted just over Remus's ear as whispered, "Maybe that's the idea."

A flame of desire licked at Remus's insides as he took in lustful grey eyes and dark hair framing a face so closely resembling the one in his dreams. God, it would be so easy…

But no. Never. He could never live with himself if he did it. He leaned away from the intoxicating scent of his friend and plucked his own glass of bubbly from the table.

"Please, Padfoot," he said, taking a small sip. "I do have standards."

oOo

Regulus grunted as he was shoved against a wall, one hand wrapped firmly around his throat, not choking but perfectly in position to do so. His captor shifted a thigh between his legs and almost unwillingly, Regulus felt his cock begin to swell. Amazing how one man could have such an effect on him, even after more than a year apart. He groaned and the wand between his ribs dug in deeper.

"Lupin," he said with as much dignity as he could muster. "Fancy seeing you again after all this time."

Remus brought his face closer, furious brown eyes boring into his.

"How could you?" The hand around his throat released its grip and clenched instead around his wrist, slamming his hand against the wall above his head. The silky material of his robe fell away, revealing pale skin marred by an inky black brand. Remus was glaring at him, demanding an answer. "Why?"

"What choice did I have?" Regulus hissed his reply, angry. "You were leaving to save the world with my brother and those other idiots. What was I supposed to do at the bottom of the snake pit?"

"There is always a choice, Reg. You could've—"

"Oh, what? Join your side? Yes, I can just imagine the warm welcome I'd receive! At least these people want me!"

"I want you! They just want to use you! They don't care about you like I do!"

"You're too late!" His voice broke around the words. It was too late. Far too late. Remus could not help him. No one could.

Remus's wand clattered to the floor. His hand was released and the bruising fingers from before carded gently through his hair. Regulus hated himself as he leaned into the touch. Remus's hand was warm and gentle, just like he remembered. Heart-breaking sadness filled his lungs as snatches of breathless kisses stolen in secret parts of the castle flashed by in a swirl of color and longing.

"You're too late…" he repeated when his voice was more under control. "I belong to someone else now."

The bruising fingers were back, gripping his jaw tight, and Regulus had only a moment to register Remus's fury before their lips met in hungry kiss. A sharp bite and the metallic taste of blood assaulted his tongue as Remus forced their mouths together, both men groaning loudly as the kiss grew feverish.

One by one, Regulus's senses shut down until the only thing he could register was Remus. Touching him. Tasting him. Drowning in his warmth. His smell. They stumbled out of their robes, lips locked and blood pounding while their hands sought places they'd almost forgotten.

The bed springs creaked when Regulus hit the mattress. Remus was on him, above him, instantly, lips and teeth tasting his skin once more. Another rush of warmth flooded Regulus's veins when Remus's eyes met his, lust-blown pupils turning the chocolate-brown eyes near black.

Regulus took a shaky breath at the sound of his belt clicking and then falling to the carpeted floor with a dull thud, his vision going blurry with his mounting excitement. Remus's lips claimed his once more, tongue delving deeply and fingers tugging at his remaining clothing.

Pleasure-pain twisted around Regulus's spine when Remus entered him after a hasty preparation, sending waves of pulsing heat through his groin. Over their mingled moans and slapping sound of flesh meeting flesh, Regulus could hear Remus growling. "Mine."

He splayed a hand across Remus's chest, giving himself over to the other man as his climax was wrought from his body. From this angle, Regulus couldn't see the blackened skin on his arm and almost smiled, crying out loudly when Remus filled him. "Yours."

oOo

"Hmmm…Paris?"

"I don't speak French."

"I forgot how uncultured you are."

"I forgot how much of a snob you are…India?"

"Too hot….oh…do that again."

"I suppose that means Rio is out then…Canada?"

"Don't stop…for the love of God, don't you dare stop…"

"Fuck."

"Yes…"

"…"

"So. Canada?"

oOo

"Do you suppose anyone would be suspicious if we met in a place that didn't look as if it were lived in by trolls?" Regulus asked in distaste, plucking his clothing from the unwashed floor.

Remus reached over the side of the bed, pinching one bare cheek, and Regulus gave a little squawk of surprise. He rounded on Remus, his face flushed. Remus grinned. "These sorts of places were meant for affairs such as ours."

"Are you saying what we have is dirty?"

"Never." Remus leaned up on one elbow, watching Regulus dress. "What we have is special. The odds of us falling in love—"

One foot in his trousers, Regulus straightened abruptly. "I never said I love you."

Remus stood and helped Regulus into his clothes. "Yes, but I know you do."

"Gryffindors," Regulus muttered, buttoning his shirt with a shake of his head. "They think 'No' means 'Yes' and 'Get lost' means 'Take me, I'm yours'."

"I seem to recall a Slytherin prefect dragging me bodily into a broom cupboard and snogging the life out of me after the week I spent training him start of term. Don't remember much protesting then."

"Be that as it may, I'd quite like it if next time we met, you fucking me is the only reason I feel as though I need a bath."

"Is it the stench of werewolf or half-blood you find offensive?"

"Don't." Regulus sat on the edge of the sagging mattress. "You're...I hate when you talk about yourself like that."

"It's just a joke, Reg."

Remus could count on all of his fingers and toes a hundred times over the number of jokes he and his friends made about his lycanthropy. Regulus never seemed to find it funny. Nor did he enjoy jokes about their respective heritages. Regulus always seemed to want to forget, perhaps because it was so very dangerous what they were doing.

Frowning, Regulus ran a finger across the newest scar on Remus's belly. "It hurts you."

"I live."

Regulus touched his forehead to Remus's stomach. "I…our time together means everything to me. You know that?"

"I do."

"Good."

oOo

Regulus paced. His feet kicked up small clouds of dust from the ancient rug as he traced a path back and forth. It was an agitated sort of habit, one he was not normally prone to but he'd seen other people do it when they were pensive or nervous. And Regulus was definitely nervous.

Remus was late. He should be here by now. Remus had been late before. They both had. But Remus had never been cursed to within an inch of his life before an arranged meeting before.

What if he was…Regulus shook his head. He refused to let his thoughts take him down that path. He took a deep, calming breath. Remus was fine. He was alive when Potter and Sirius had Apparated him out of the skirmish the night before.

His feet were growing weary from the constant back and forth. Perhaps Regulus had mixed up the location? No. He was certain he'd got the message right. Even in the thick of raging duels, Regulus had heard.

"Quit your shrieking, Black!" Remus had shouted at his brother. "This time tomorrow we'll all be dead if we don't get out of here."

One of his more obvious hints, Regulus thought, still feeling a little panicky. What if someone had deciphered the message shouted over whizzing hexes and curses? What if one of those Order morons had figured it out and Remus was being detained? They were certainly no more forgiving of traitors than the Dark Lord's followers. He seriously doubted they would excuse Remus meeting with a known Death Eater for an occasional romp in the sack any more than they would if Remus had branded his arm with a snake tattoo.

The handle on the door rattled then opened silently. On instinct, Regulus gripped the wand in his pocket, prepared to strike. In stepped Remus Lupin, looking tired and pale, but whole, and still very much alive.

Relief flooded Regulus's veins and his hands and lips were firmly attached to the other man's with bruising force before the door had even closed.

Remus made a pitiful sound that became a moan as his back hit the wall and Regulus's lips latched onto his. He leaned, pliant and unmovable, against the wall, his tongue curling lazily around Regulus's desperate kiss.

Breaking away, Regulus peppered urgent kisses onto Remus's nose, his cheeks—any accessible surface of skin he could—migrating back to pink, swollen lips more than once.

"Reg—Regulus," Remus managed.

"Shut up!" Regulus ordered between urgent kisses. "Shut up you stupid, noble idiot! Why did you take that curse for Pettigrew?"

"He's my friend. I can take a bit of pain."

Furious, Regulus pulled away, glaring at the other man. "It wasn't just pain, Remus! Dolohov fucking sliced you open! Is that blundering idiot really worth dying for?"

"Yes, he is!" said Remus, sounding suddenly less tired as his voice rose to match Regulus's fury.

"And what about me? Do you think I want to stand there and watch you die?"

"You weren't exactly doing anything to prevent it."

"Why do you think Dolohov aimed the curse at Pettigrew? I confunded him! Taking a huge risk in doing so, mind you, only for you to throw yourself in front of that lump like some stupid bloody hero—"

Regulus stumbled when Remus placed a hand on his chest and shoved him hard. "So it's alright for my friends and the people I care about to die so long as it suits you! Do I have that right?"

"I don't want anyone to die!" Regulus growled, righting himself. "But yes, I do place a higher importance on your life than others."

"Goodbye, Regulus."

"No!" Regulus managed to grab hold of Remus's sleeve before he touched the door handle and pulled him into another embrace. Remus allowed it but the look of disgust on his face remained. "Don't go. Please."

When Remus spoke next his voice was low and quiet. "People died last night, Reg."

"I know…" He nuzzled Remus's neck, inhaling deeply, trying to fill himself up on the dark, masculine scent. "I know and I'm sorry they died. I am. It's just…the last twenty-four hours have been the worst of my life, Remus."

Familiar, comforting hands slid through his hair and down his back, holding him close. Regulus sighed and pushed himself flush against the other man, reveling in the warm pulse of life he could feel through Remus's thin clothing. "I need you."

Remus shivered against him, the fingers on his hips gripping suddenly tightly. Hot, needy lips met his in a fierce kiss and Remus dragged them through the drafty house, peeling clothing as they went, until they reached the second story bedroom where they did not speak again for quite some time.

oOo

Stretching like a contented cat, Regulus rolled next to Remus, wrapping his arms around a scarred torso. He smiled at the kiss Remus dropped into his hair. "You were really scared, weren't you?" Remus whispered in his ear.

"No."

"Liar."

Regulus leaned up on one elbow to glare at him. "I was not scared, Remus. I was bloody terrified, alright?"

"You needn't worry. I'm tougher than I look. I can take few nasty curses."

"You can't!" Regulus said, anger coloring his voice again. "Haven't you been listening? You could have died! If you had—" Regulus slumped against him, his anger leaving just as quickly as it had come, "—I don't know what I would have done."

It was so easy to forget how young Regulus was. Transforming into a werewolf every month from the tender age of six had forced Remus to accept a more realistic outlook on life and the world. He watched as one by one each of his friends lost the sparkle of youth from their eyes while war continued to ravage their dreams for the future. There had never been such light in Regulus's eyes. One of the many things that drew Remus to the Slytherin in the first place.

"Regulus, look at me." Placing one finger under Regulus's chin, he lifted the dark head hiding in the crook of his arms so their eyes met. He ran a thumb across one sharp cheekbone, kohl-colored lashes fluttering shut briefly, before icy-grey eyes met his again with a burning intensity. "I'm fine."

"I know." Regulus flicked his tongue across his thumb when Remus let it wander to kiss swollen lips. "Remus, I…"

He waited patiently for whatever declaration of love Regulus was prepared to dispense this time.

"I want to wake up with you."

Remus laughed outright as a pink tinge worked its way across Regulus's cheeks. Even in their twined position on the bed, Remus fancied he felt Regulus's shoulders square in the way they usually did when he was about to take a very stubborn position on something.

"Soppy girl," he said affectionately, but Regulus was not smiling.

"I do," Regulus said, low and earnest, and Remus felt his heart flutter in his chest. "I want to see your eyes the minute I open mine every day. I don't want to be terrified all the time of what will happen. I don't want to wonder every time curses start flying if today will be the day I watch you die. I—I want to be with you. Always."

"I want those things too," Remus insisted.

Regulus pulled away, sitting up and hugging his knees to his chest. Remus ran a soothing hand over his back.

"I'm defecting."

Remus's hand stilled over the tense muscles beneath his palm. "What?"

"I just—" Regulus's voice wavered "—I can't do it any more."

"Reg…" Remus kneeled beside the other man, hardly daring to hope. They left their loyalties at the door every time they met, happy for the few fleeting moments they could spare each other.

Regulus turned to face him, reaching for his hand and gripping it tightly. "I have a plan. I could use your help with it though."

"Anything," said Remus, squeezing the hand in his.

Taking a deep breath, Regulus said, "What do you know about Horcruxes?"