Sirius had always dreaded the end of the school year. He didn't mind the tests, as he'd always been able to get an O without visiting the library even once. No, it was the leaving that bothered him. The idea of going back to 12 Grimmauld Place to be tortured with his parents' crazy beliefs and general hatred of him for not agreeing with them. He had always hated the place, with its antique darkness and its old stained bedsheets and tarnished silver and the thick coat of dust on all the furniture. He hated the way the stairs creaked and the way everything gleamed with the silver and green he bullied people for wearing the rest of the year. He hated that horrid house elf and his suck-up brother and the way his mother spit the word "mudblood" out like it meant nothing and the way they called Voldemort 'the dark lord.' He hated her, too, and his father. Hated them more than he'd known he could hate any person, even more than Snape, which he thought was definitely saying something seeing as he'd basically attempted to kill him last year.

However, since he'd run away last year and spent a month and a half at James' house, he no longer had to worry about returning to his hated childhood home. This year he'd made sure to plan in advance. First he was going to stay with Remus for two weeks, and then he was going to apparate to James' house, where he'd spend the rest of the summer.

To say he was excited would be an understatement. He wanted to meet Remus' parents, to see the place his friend had grown up, and, most importantly, to spend time alone with Remus. James was his best friend, and he'd never questioned this, but he felt closer to Remus than anyone else. There was something they could understand about each other that James could not touch, coming from his perfect, loving family and growing up cherished, the only child in a large house full of sunshine.

His father had picked them up at King's Cross with a friendly smile that gave Sirius the feeling of someone he recognized but wasn't quite sure where from. The similarities between him and his son were quite abundant. He saw this even now, sitting at the dinner table with Remus and his family a week into his stay. The house they lived in was small, and all of the furniture and rugs in it had the appearance of something that had been cleaned far too often and was in desperate need of being replaced. Remus' bedroom was small, with faded fluffy blankets and a bookshelf loaded with muggle books and a stuffed dragon from his childhood. It was constantly full of a quiet atmosphere, so soft at night that he could hear the crickets as the sun set. Even outside, sitting next to Remus on the front lawn, no cars drove by and no neighbors made noise, and it was the perfect scene each night to talk about everything he'd never told anyone before. The garden in the backyard was full of flowers that had been grown the muggle way, and there was a field not too far off that he and Remus had gone to a couple of times to just fly around and toss a quaffle back and forth. They had this funny little device in the sitting room that Remus called a "telly," said it was a muggle invention, and Sirius had sat on the couch mesmerized by it for hours. The kitchen was small and always full of the smell of something baking. His mother cooked the way muggles did, which Sirius personally found a bit odd, but it tasted much better than anything Kreacher had ever made. Sirius had never seen a house he found so amazing. It was cozy in a way James' mansion could never be.

However, it wasn't the house Sirius was afraid of missing in just one week; it was Remus.

"Hey," Sirius says to his friend over dinner. "You should come to James' for a bit, just a week or so. I bet his parents would love to have you."

Remus looks unsure. Sirius knows every nuance of his facial expressions, knows when a twitch of the lip means he's scared and a single shade of eye color change means he wants something, and he sees the latter now. "Yeah? I don't want to invite myself."

"I'm positive they won't mind. I mean, if they don't mind me literally living there..."

He glances at his parents. "Do you think I could go?"

Remus' mother attempts to calculate when the full moon is in her head. Sirius knows the look.

"Last moon was just before school ended, about eight or nine days ago," he says helpfully. "So that's not a problem."

"Right," she says. "Well, if James' mother doesn't mind, it should be fine."

"How are you planning on going?" Mr. Lupin asks.

"I was planning on apparating there," Sirius says. "We've both got licenses."

"Oh," he says. "Right. It's easy to forget you're 17 already," he tells his son warmly. "Seems just yesterday you were a little tiny kid asking me to read you just one more book before bed."

Sirius smiles warmly at the idea of this. He can imagine a six year old Remus, post bite, in bed with Mr. Lupin sitting at his feet, reading to him every evening except for that one horrible night a month when he would've had to be locked in the shed. It's just the idea, though, Sirius thinks, that his parents wouldn't have treated him differently for something he couldn't help. Remus seems much less enthusiastic at the memory and instead looks down at his plate, blushing.

"I don't see any problem with it," Remus' mother tells him. That seems to be the final word on it. Remus looks up, beaming.

It isn't until later that night in his bed that he voices how excited he is. "I've never been to James' house," he tells Sirius.

"It's brilliant," he says. "I've never been anywhere like it before. It's way too big for the three of them, but it doesn't feel empty."

Remus nods. "What about Peter?"

"He's on vacation," Sirius says. "With his mum and his sisters. They went to see his mum's friend in Wales."

There is a tingling lull in the conversation. The crickets are as loud as ever outside. Sirius shifts a bit closer to Remus. "What're his parents like?"

"I love them," Sirius answers enthusiastically. "They're pretty old to have a son our age, but Mrs. Potter's a brilliant cook and Mr. Potter is hilarious. You can tell that James inherited his personality, but my God- Mrs. Potter looks exactly like him."

"Are you going to stay with them? Until September, I mean."

He hesitates at this. "I think I'm gonna try to find a flat," he says. "I love them, but I don't think they want me living with them forever."

"Do you know where?"

"Maybe in London. You'll come visit me, right Moony?" Sirius teases.

"I'm actually not sure I want any part of that, especially not if James is around as well. You'll probably be getting pissed every night."

"No," Sirius answers. "Life is good. Nothing I need to wash away with Firewhiskey."

Remus laughs. "I don't know what I'm going to do after graduation."

"About what?"

"You know, moving out and everything. I probably won't be able to find a job quite as easily as... well, you know, people who aren't werewolves."

"I'm always up to having a flatmate," he says, grinning at his friend.

"I'm not a charity case just because I'm a werewolf," Remus jokes.

"I know. People don't usually find it to be in good taste to steal chocolate from charity cases, and stealing your chocolate is a hobby of mine."

Remus laughs, because he knows that this is quite accurate.

"I don't think I'm gonna be able to sleep," Sirius says. "Do you have any interest in the aforementioned firewhiskey?"

"Sirius."

"I'm not going to get drunk," Sirius defends himself. "Just a bit buzzed. There's some in my trunk. I'll get it."

This, of course, is a lie, and, combined with Sirius' overestimation of his tolerance for firewhiskey (which Remus has to deal with every time he decides to drink), Sirius is not exactly drunk an hour later, but he's not quite his usual self, either. Remus won't deny that he's had a bit as well, and he feels warm and he's sure it's not just the summer heat.

"Moony," Sirius says. "I love your house."

"My house?"

"Yeah, it's so little," he says. "It's brilliant."

"It's not," Remus says. "It's crap. Embarrassing, really."

"Because it's little?"

"Because it's obvious that we don't have a lot of money when you look at it," he answers quietly.

"Oh, Moony," Sirius says. "Get over it. I don't care."

"What?"

"I don't care if you're poor or if you're a werewolf or whatever else. I love you."

Remus blinks at him. His eyes have long since adjusted to the light, and he can very clearly see Sirius' flushed pink cheeks and hazy eyes. "You too, mate," he says.

Sirius' eyes just watch him for a moment, and even through the haze of firewhiskey he finds himself wondering what Sirius is seeing. Sirius himself is wearing a tight black v-neck, which Remus remembers him saying he purchased at a muggle flea market, and given that it is roughly five hundred degrees in Remus' room despite cooling charms, he has given up on pajama pants and is instead just wearing a pair of gray boxers, which Remus has tried desperately not to notice are a size too small. He can smell Sirius, too, a combination of sweat and cut grass and smoke and firewhiskey, although he thinks he may be contributing to that last one as well. He wonders if he has a smell, and if Sirius notices it, because he knows he himself certainly does not notice James' or Peter's, so it seems perfectly reasonable that Sirius would not notice his. If he has one. He's not drunk enough to ask.

"Whatcha thinking about?" Sirius asks softly, nudging Remus' knee with his own.

"If we were still at Hogwarts we'd be out on the grounds right now," he says. He's thinking of the thick woods outside behind his house, of the lovely deep dark lake that shines at night, of the silence and solidarity and spontaneity of summer nights.

Sirius, having known Remus longer than he's really known himself, understands and is immediately apprehensive. "I don't know if we should," he says.

"It's safe," he says, although this is not entirely true. He was, after all, bitten in those woods.

"Are you sure?"

"Yeah, of course."

Sirius pauses, makes a strange snuffing sound, and then gets up. "The things I do for you."

"Oh, you know you want to."

He smiles a little bit, reaching over to turn the lamp on the bedside table on as searches through his suitcase for a pair of shorts, eventually coming up with a gray pair. Remus himself gets up and finds a pair of socks to wear, while Sirius has given up on that before its started and is slipping his sneakers onto his bare feet.

Once they are both dressed, they turn to look at each other, and they know that they're both thinking the same thing. Sirius voices it: "Now how do you propose we get out without waking your parents, oh wise Moony?"

"We could just apparate."

"Don't know if you've noticed, mate," Sirius says, leaning back against the wall next to Remus' dresser, "But apparating makes a bit of a pop noise. Bit noticable. Would probably wake them up."

"No, it wouldn't," Remus protests. "Besides, I'll just use a silencing charm."

Sirius purses his lips, looking disapprovingly at Remus with a look that Remus is sure he stole from him, and casts the charm himself. "Alright?"

"Yeah," Remus says. "Just into the backyard." He turns on his heel, and Sirius does the same, grabbing his arm so that they go together. When the uncomfortable tight sensation is over, they open their eyes and find themselves in front of a huge expanse of tall, old trees.

"Come on," Remus says, and he heads out into the forest, wand out. Sirius follows, and they walk in silence for a while, grass crunching under their sneakers as they are closed in by a wall of cricket chirps and fireflies.

"How far are we going?" Sirius asks.

"Already too much for you?" Remus asks with a teasing grin.

"No," he says. "Okay, maybe. My feet already hurt from that hike you took me on this morning."

"That was hardly a hike. And maybe if you'd wear socks with your trainers..."

"Sorry, mom."

"Now we're back to normal."

"Hmm?"

"Before," he says. "You were trying to keep us from doing something dangerous and I was pushing for us to go. When does that happen?"

"Never," Sirius agrees, laughing. Neither of them say it, but they both know it's the firewhiskey. "Where are we going, anyway?"

"There's a lake and a nice clearing out here," Remus says. "Come out here to think sometimes."

And they see it as they emerge from the last two moss covered trees, a beautiful field with rich green grass that looks blue under the dark blanket of the sky, and a lake filled with black water and mystery. He has been here a thousand times before, but tonight, with Sirius by his side, it feels new.

"Wow," Sirius says. "This is wicked."

"Mmh," he says. "Quite eloquent."

Sirius just smirks and shoves him, but not hard enough to mean it. He heads over to the lake and sits down at the edge.

It's a minute before Remus plops down ungracefully next to him. "This is my favorite spot," he says.

"Yeah," he says. "I see why."

They're quiet for another minute, and Remus feels comfortable there, with Sirius and his thoughts. He glances over at his friend to find him staring down at the edge of the lake.

"How come I'm the only one who's been to your house?" Sirius asks suddenly.

"Oh. Well, we're different, aren't we?"

"Are we?"

"Yeah," Remus says. "I mean, you know. Maybe not... but we talk. I mean really talk. Pete and James don't do that. Not with us or each other."

"Yeah," Sirius says. "Except you're making us sound like girls."

Remus laughs softly. "I don't think it's a bad thing."

"To be girls?"

"To talk, you berk."

"Oh," he says, quite serious for him. "Well, you know. I don't have..."

"I know," Remus says softly, and he feels his heart swell with affection for Sirius. Sirius, who is quite an idiot most of the time and doesn't think before he talks and is practically loyal to a fault and who practically gives him a heart attack every time he wears that stupid muggle leather jacket and eyeliner (which he has taken to wearing every day now).

"You're ace," Sirius says.

"Your drunk is showing," Remus jokes, but Sirius remains straight lipped.

"Serious, Moony." He looks back down at the ground. "I like you."

"You're quite a bit drunker than I thought," he says, his cheeks flushing now.

"Really," he says. "You know. More than birds, even, sometimes."

"Well, that's how it is, isn't it? Put your mates before girls? Especially when you shag them once and never talk to them again."

"I resent that," he says, turning his nose up, but then he seems to remember that he was attempting to be serious and drops his head again. Remus stifles a laugh. "Sometimes," he says. "It's like... I don't know. I'll just be talking to you and you'll laugh and I'll just suddenly be overcome with the urge to kiss you," Sirius says, and Remus' cheeks are red by this point, his heart pounding out of his chest. "S'not normal," he says, as though this needed clarification.

"You're 16, Pads. And you, specifically, will shag anything that moves."

"No," he says adamantly. "It's not that."

"So you fancy me?"

Sirius looks up, his big gray eyes shining with vulnerability. "Dunno. S'just, when I see you in a cardigan with a hole in the elbow and those patches and faded jeans and..." he looks away.

Remus nudges him, and he looks back over. "I know," he says. "Seems stupid."

"Sorry."

"No," Remus says quickly. "It's not. Can't be, if we both feel it," he says, and Sirius' eyes brighten ten shades. "With your stupid motorcycle boots and your eyeliner. Drives me quite mad, you know."

"Really?"

"Yeah," Remus says, blushing again. "And... you know."

"So what do we do?"

"Do?"

"If we fancy each other."

"Oh."

"D'you mind?"

"Mind what?"

"Being... gay, or, you know, whatever," he says, his cheeks flushing a bit. "Keep up, Moony."

"No," he says. "I just..."

"I want to snog you," he says. "Can I snog you?"

Remus stares at him blankly.

"M'gonna snog you," he says. "Feel free to stop me."

Remus blinks, and the words refuse to sink in, and then Sirius' lips are on him, his hands gripping his waist tightly. Remus is still vaguely frozen, but he feels his knees turn to jelly and his stomach jumps into his ribcage.

"Moony," Sirius says when they pull away after a short moment. "That was brilliant," he breathes. "But I think I've scared you. Say something?"

"I think I fancy you," he says, his voice heavy with the epiphany. Sirius pauses before laughing quite loudly.

"You're quite dramatic when you want to be, you know," he says, flashing a joking grin at Remus.

"I didn't know," he says. "That I fancy you I mean. I knew I was attracted to you, but that's a bit different, isn't it?"

"Eh. You think too much."

"Excuse me if I was a bit stressed out about the fact that just the sight of you in your leather jacket was enough to send me off to the bathroom for a wank."

Sirius makes a soft, needy noise that is possibly the girliest thing that Remus has ever heard come out of his mouth. "Are you kidding? You can't just say stuff like that to me, Moony."

Remus is blushing quite a deep shade of red, and he hopes it's dark enough that Sirius can't see it.

"Christ."

A smile tugs at the corner of Remus' lips in response, and he leans in to kiss Sirius, who melts into the embrace for a moment before pulling away.

"No," he says. "Bad idea."

He must look confused, because Sirius just grimaces in response. "You okay?"

"Will be, if you-"

"Oh," he says, realization dawning on him, and he shifts closer and kisses him again. Sirius groans as it quickly develops into a full-fledged snog, tugging Remus against him with an arm around his waist.

"Shit," Sirius says when they pull apart for a moment, and Remus just grins and dips back in.

It is with swollen lips and flushed cheeks and intertwined hands that they head back to the house an hour later. They also have wet hair, but that's only from the dip in the lake they had to take to cool off. It had barely helped. Remus is still finding walking quite uncomfortable.

"Good thing we're not taking it slow, then," Sirius says as they reach the edge of the woods.

"You're right, we should take the time to get to know each other," Remus jokes.

"You can be quite a knobhead when you try, you know."

"I do."

"Quite good, then, that you're so hot," he mumbles, giving Remus' hand a squeeze.

"Is that how I put up with you, then?"

Sirius grins softly. "Must be."

"No," he says. "Don't know why, but I actually enjoy your personality as well. I must be mad."

The trees begin to thin out, and the sun is beginning to come out, so they can kind of see where they're going. On the downside, they can now both make out the embarrassment on each other's cheeks from the events of the night.

"So you'll come to James' for a while?"

"Yeah," he says. "And I can come visit too, or you could come here."

"It's not the same."

"You're already getting too clingy," he jokes.

"Har har."

"It'll be fine," he dips in to kiss Sirius on the cheek, and both of their cheeks darken. They lose their footing and stumble a bit as their legs turn to mush. This does nothing to help with the embarrassment. "You won't even miss me."

"I'm sure," he says. "Especially with how James is probably gonna call me a girl all summer."

"He won't mind."

"That I'm gay?"

"About any of it," he says, nudging Sirius' side with his elbow as they reach the house. "We're family, you know."

Sirius blinks but does not say anything, and Remus gives him a reassuring smile as he opens the door. The house is filled with the beginnings of morning streaming through the windows, and they quietly tip-toe up the steps, avoiding the extra-creaky ones.

"Wait, didn't we-" Sirius begins in a whisper, but he is cut off by the opening of Remus' parents bedroom door.

Remus' mother pokes her head out and blinks sleepily. "Everything okay?"

Sirius tugs his hand out of Remus' and smiles charmingly. Remus clears his throat. "Yeah," he says. "We couldn't sleep so we went for a walk. 'S fine."

"Okay," she says. "Go back to sleep."

"Okay."

She retreats and the door shuts, and Remus looks at Sirius.

"Okay?"

"She was half asleep," Remus explains quietly, pushing his bedroom door open. Sirius follows him inside. "Good thing, too. Not exactly how I imagined coming out to my mother."

Sirius laughs as he bends down to unlace his shoes. "You're going to tell her, then?"

"I suppose."

"I'm gonna tell James' mum," Sirius says. "She'll figure it out and it'll hurt her feelings if I haven't told her myself. And especially with all that she does for me... I hate hurting her feelings."

"She's your mum," Remus says, toeing out of his socks. "In all the ways that matter."

"We're not family, though," Sirius says, glancing at Remus. "Like you said. Because then this'd be incest."

"Try not to be such an idiot, Pads," he says, getting back into bed.

"No, but really. I mean, Prongs has always felt like my brother, and even Pete, to an extent, but you know. You're always different."

"Don't be all sappy," he says as Sirius crawls in next to him.

"Mmh," Sirius answers, burrowing his face into Remus' neck. He's filled with that weird, satisfied, exhausted feeling you get when you get up too early, go out and do something, and then come back to bed for a nap. He knows it quite well from their midnight explorations planned in an effort to gather information from the map, but he's never known it to include his stomach and chest melting as Sirius cuddles into him. "Mmh... you're comfy, Moony."

"Er... thanks?"

He laughs, deep and throaty, his warm breath hitting Remus' skin. "Promise you'll sleep in my room at James'."

"You just want your dirty way with me," he answers quietly, tugging the blanket around them. A few birds chirp outside, greeting the morning, and when he turns to nuzzle into the top of Sirius' head, it smells like boy shampoo, which he finds much more appealing than he'd expect.

"Go to sleep," Sirius tells him, a condescending tone to the words, but he can feel Sirius' smile against his neck, and, winding an arm around Sirius, it really is easy to drift off now as the divine drumming of Sirius' heart vibrates against his own ribcage and the heavenly light of dawn fills the room.