Secret Keeper

Author: KateKintail
Rating: R
Archiving: All FQF will be archived solely at this site until August 31st, 2007. After that, it's yours to do with as you will.
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended. I do not own Harry Potter, its characters, or anything associated with it. I'm not making any money from this story, and I don't intend to.
Challenge & Summary: FM16:Remus comes out to Sirius.
Author's Notes: Thank you to my favorite, trusty R/S betareader, Tina! I've written other 'coming out' fics set during the Hogwarts years. This time, I thought I'd try something a little different.

Evening transformed into night, with the crescent moon framed by the small kitchen window. Remus gazed out at it, his arms up to the elbows in hot, sudsy water. His cabin was quiet, apart from the sounds of water running and dishes clinking. Having spent so much time alone with his thoughts, Remus felt compelled to fill the silence. "Are you certain you are all right on the couch?" Remus had picked it up second-hand, and though it was a nice shade of tan, it was not in the running for the most comfortable couch in England. "I know you don't want me to give up my bed, however I hate to have a house guest suffer. Perhaps we could take turns? You could take my bed tonight, if you like."

"Or we could both sleep in your bed."

Remus was incapable of answering. His mouth felt dry and words evaded him, even if he could have forced them out. Sirius did not know… and Remus could not tell him now, after so many years of keeping the secret.

Sirius seemed to sense something was wrong, and scrambled to elaborate, though he sounded cool and calm. "After all, neither of us takes up much space in a bed." He patted his belly. "I should publish my dieting secrets. How does this sound: The Sirius Black Azkaban Diet: Secrets from the Escapee? There could even be a post-prison section on the best ways to catch and prepare rats."

Remus chuckled. He turned off the water and set to work drying the last sinkful of rinsed dishes. "Compared to that, I'm sure even my cooking is to die for."

"It is," Sirius agreed. "Maybe it is better I sleep out here. I can raid the cabinets for midnight snacks if I wake up with my stomach rumbling."

"Are you certain you don't want to sleep in my bed?" Remus could have kicked himself. "I mean, while I sleep out here. Otherwise I'm liable to keep you up. I stay up half the night reading."

"I remember."

"Excuse me?" His hand with the dishtowel slipped, and he nearly dropped the plate he was drying off.

Sirius shrugged. "Back in Hogwarts, some nights you would come up to bed pretty late. As I remember, you said you were out reading."

Remus nodded. The bobbing of a head was a convenient gesture when one did not wish to lie but neither could he speak the truth.

* * *

Hogwarts: 1976

Everyone always met up on top of the astronomy tower. And despite the moon, Remus Lupin had always rather enjoyed that spot for its ambiance. Snogging an especially delicious bloke beneath the stars was quite invigorating. But as there was usually someone up there already, it meant having to find somewhere else to go in order to have some privacy to do certain private things.

A strangled cry burst from the boy between Remus and the wall. His tongue and lips pressed against Remus' palm. His arse cheeks tensed around Remus' cock delightfully. Remus gave just a few more strokes before he, too, came. He buried his face against the boy's smooth shoulder and back but his cry was skillfully silent.

When it was over, he pulled out carefully and cleaned them both off. The dark-haired and dark-eyed boy's robes were bunched up beneath his arms, and Remus pulled them down with care. He turned the boy and he kissed the warm, thick lips. "Are you all right?" he prodded softly, running his hand through tangled, dampened hair. "Do you want to stay here for a while?"

The boy nodded and fell into Remus with a pleased sigh. Remus wrapped his arms around him with a tight squeeze. There was but a year's difference in age between them. And many times Remus had felt like the more immature of the two. But the boy needed cuddling now, and Remus was more than happy to supply it. Remus kicked aside some things to make room. Then he sat, pulling the boy down onto his lap.

The boy, who turned on his side as his arse was a little sore, snuggled into Remus' chest. Remus kept his arms wrapped around him. "That was fantastic, wasn't it?"

"It was grand, yeah," Remus agreed. "Despite the close quarters."

"You ever done this before?" the boy asked. Then, he quickly added, "Here, I mean?"

Remus shook his head. He looked up and around the tiny broom closet. The only light within came from the crack beneath the bottom of the door, but he could still see the assortment of cleaning supplies and spare candles. It boasted a much different atmosphere than the astronomy tower. "Not here, no."

The boy smiled and relaxed a bit more. "That's good. It can be our place, then."

Remus chuckled softly. "I'm not sure I like the idea of our place being a ratty old broom closet that smells of cleaning solution and old socks. I'd rather it be somewhere more romantic. Like the biography section of the library, three rows back, where we talked for the first time. Or the trees behind the lake where we kissed for the first time." He looked up at the shelves holding mousetraps and boxes of trash bags. "I wasn't paying any attention to this place just now. I was only thinking about you."

With a flush in his cheeks, he buried his face into Remus' robes. "Remus—" he whispered, clutching the robes tightly in a fist.

"Shhh," Remus whispered, kissing the top of his head to kiss away all embarrassment and leave only affection.

"Wish we didn't have to do it this way," he said, his voice muffled by the robes. "Wish we could be like all the straight couples." Remus sighed and nodded. He wished the same. Sometimes the midnight meetings and stolen kisses in secret spots were exciting, but most of the time he would have preferred having a regular, open relationship like everybody else. "D'you think you'll ever tell your friends?" he asked curiously. "You said that you've told them important secrets before. You said you'd trust them with your life."

"I have trusted them," Remus agreed. He thought for a moment, then answered carefully. "It's not that I think they'd go telling the whole school I was a poof. I'm sure it'd be a shock to them and they'd have trouble understanding, but they'd get over that. I don't tell them because I just don't think it's something they'd care to know about me. I share a lot of great things with them… but there are some things I don't. Take books, for example. I won't go running to them about some book I'm reading and how brilliant the plot twist is. They just don't care. It would make things strange and awkward." That wasn't the entire truth, but it was one strong aspect of it.

"Mmm," was the thoughtful but drowsy reply, and the boy grew a bit heavier in Remus' arms. Remus smirked and wondered how much of that explanation had been heard. "Rem, mind if I sleep a little? I didn't realize I was… so tired…" He gave a strong yawn. "But I don't want to leave."

"Take a nap, Robert," Remus said, using his nose to brush the boy's bangs out of the way and then he kissed the bare spot of forehead. "I might do the same actually, if you don't mind."

Robert didn't mind one bit. He snuggled into Remus and fell asleep with Remus' cheek resting on the top of his head.

* * *

Lupin's Cabin: 1995

Present Day

Four teenage boys could hardly share a dormitory room for years on end without getting to know each other in embarrassingly intimate ways. They all knew what it meant when one would strip the sheets off his bed first thing in the morning instead of waiting for the house elves to do so on laundry day. They said nothing about guttural, desperate noises of pleasure that might have been uttered a bit too loudly in the middle of the night. And they used terms like 'having a bit of a lie-in alone' and exchanged appreciative smiles when being granted privacy in the room on mornings.

So when Remus emerged from his bedroom quite late one morning, looking a bit exhausted and shabbier than normal, Sirius knew precisely what the man had been up to. "Had a bit of a lie-in, did you?" he asked, looking up from his bowl of oatmeal to see his friends' cheeks pinken a bit.

The reaction, however, was brief. Remus cleared his throat. "We are not kids any more. There's no need to speak to each other in code. Yes, I had a nice, leisurely morning wank, if you must know," Remus replied bluntly. It was Sirius' turn to blush slightly with embarrassment. "Now, is there any more oatmeal or did you finish off the last of it?"

Sirius pointed to a canister on the counter. There was just enough for a serving, Remus found. Adding liberal amounts of milk and the last of the bananas made it look like even more. He sat down across the table from Sirius and instinctively picked up the paper. They had taken to scouring The Daily Profit lately, looking for hints of mentions regarding the events at the recent Triwizard Tournament, references to Harry or Dumbledore, or anything else that might be useful.

The paper appeared to have been thoroughly scoured already that morning, and by Sirius' lack of comments, Remus assumed that meant there was nothing of any consequence. Still, he liked waking up to the paper in the mornings, now that he was able to afford one, and he liked to read through the articles leisurely in order to help perk his brain up a bit more. Perked but not entirely thrilled by what he was reading, Remus soon found himself on the back page of the newspaper glancing through the obituaries.

It wasn't particularly comforting breakfast reading, but he had enjoyed himself that morning and now he felt it was time to get back to the world and all its horrors. Voldemort was back and would be killing again. A secret war had just begun. The first war against Voldemort had been unspeakably awful in so many ways, but this one was already worse for the resistance was small and the evil was nearly invisible.

Nearly. With a loud clink, Remus' spoon dropped into his almost empty bowl. His breath caught and his teeth bit down hard on his lower lip.

"Remus?" Sirius asked rather nonchalantly as he finished off his own breakfast. "Having trouble eating?" When Remus did not answer in so much as a sniff, Sirius looked up and across the table at Remus. "Moony?" He narrowed his eyes at the newspaper. Then he realized and his demeanor changed in an instant. His expression turned solemn and he sat up straighter in his chair. "Who's been killed?" Remus remained silent. "Moony?" Solemn turned to anxious. "Moony, it's not—"

Snapping out of it, Remus shook his head. "No." Remus knew what Sirius had been thinking, but Harry was safe with the Dursleys. Voldemort could not harm him there, even if he had been able to find him. "No, it is a man named Robert Alverts. He was with us at Hogwarts. A year behind us in Ravenclaw. Do you remember him?"

Sirius thought for a brief moment, then shrugged and shook his head. "Don't think so."

Remus' fingers made their way down to the paper. His fingertips caressed the short obituary. Unnamed cause of death. Survived by no family, no wife. Of course there wouldn't be a wife. If there were a lover, he wouldn't have been mentioned either. Tears stung the back of his eyes and tickled the inside of his nose. "He, ah…" Remus swallowed hard, his voice on the verge of breaking. He took a deep breath and shook his head. Then, free of all trembling, spoke. "He was a good lad." At that, the moisture in one eye was too overpowering. It filled, collected, then trickled out at the corner.

Quickly he coughed and wiped a hand across his face. His chair scraped back from the table. "We are out of oatmeal. I'll go out and pick some up." Leaving the rest of his breakfast behind, Remus crossed his tiny cabin and grabbed his coat. It was not cold out, but he felt chilled and he shivered when he slipped it on. He threw open the door and paused in the doorway on his way out.

He looked back for a moment, at his friend sitting alone at the small wooden table. Sirius looked a bit depressed to be left alone so suddenly and without real reason, but nothing Remus could say could make Sirius feel better. Sirius could not leave Remus' house, lest he be seen by wizard or muggle. And with James dead, Peter as Voldemort's servant, and Sirius a fugitive, Remus was the only one able to venture outside to search for any sort of comfort. Or at least somewhere else to break down and someone else to do it in front of. "Do not wait up for me," he choked out to Sirius. Then he headed out, closing the door behind him.

* * *

Hogwarts: 1977

At Hogwarts, however, Remus was the least free of any of his friends. No time was this ever more evident than on St. Valentine's Day. While others walked through the corridors of the school holding hands with those they loved, Remus' hands were shoved into the pockets of his robes. While others exchanged cards and sentiments over meals, Remus had to keep his true feelings from showing through. While others shared their sugary treats, Remus' sweet-tooth went unsatisfied. While others met all along the school grounds, Remus found himself in a broom closet where he could not be seen.

Leastways not seen by any who did not have the proper password to be granted entry. "Remus?" Robert's voice whispered into the darkness of the closet. "Are you here already?"

"Lumos!" was Remus' affirmative answer. The tip of his wand lit, revealing Robert's smiling face. "I see you read my note."

Robert smiled. "Yes," he nodded. "We really must try to come up with a better code. My mother would never send me a note on Valentine's day regarding socks."

"And, yet, you came," Remus said.

"Not yet," corrected Robert playfully. "Now, close your eyes."

"What?" asked Remus.

"Close your eyes," Robert requested, covering the end of Remus' wand with his hand to block the light.

Chuckling, "It's pitch black in here. I can't see anything anyw—"

"Close your eyes," he repeated again with a more convincing whisper.

When Remus finally obeyed, he felt two separate sensations which combined into one. The first was Robert's hand cupping his crotch firmly and enthusiastically. The second was a small chocolate block being eased just between his lips and into his mouth. He felt a warm, tingling rush fill his body. "Mmmm… dark chocolate. Quite sinful."

Robert could see his smile when he uncovered the end of the wand. "Happy Valentine's Day, My Love." Remus warmed to hear the term used to address him.

"And you, too. Here, I have a present for you." Remus pulled a small package out of his pocket. From its shape and form it was clearly a book.

Robert unwrapped it carefully and chuckled. "Poetry. Oh, Remus. You're such a romantic!"

"Shhh. It's only Whitman. But I thought there were some especially appropriate… ones… mmm, thank you." Robert had supplied him with another piece of chocolate and touches to his crotch had progressed to strokes. "We can read some afterwards, if you like."

He nodded excitedly and set the book on a shelf to keep it safe. "Afterwards…" he whispered, his hand slipping beneath Remus' robes to find Remus was not wearing pants of any sort beneath. "Afterwards I hope you're too exhausted to remember how to read."

"Oh, is that right?" Remus said, amused. Robert sunk down to his knees, knocking over a mop but not caring. He ducked beneath Remus' robes, at least the portion Remus had not helped tug up. Remus leaned back against the wall with a deep sigh. One hand found the top of Robert's head and dug his hands into the rich brown hair. He closed his eyes and enjoyed Robert's mouth around his member. Even if he hated this holiday, he was glad for any excuse to be with Robert like this.

* * *

The Booker Street Pub: 1995

Present Day

"Do you have a place we can go?" asked the man with whom Remus was currently engaged. Hands were in pants, tongues had found tongues, and they would absolutely require privacy if they continued.

"Yes, I d—" Remus began, before remembering his houseguest. And then his heart sunk down to the bottom of his stomach. Remus did not do so often, but it was not beyond him to bring a man home to his cabin for a few hours of excitement. If the man turned out to be dangerous or psychotic, he could always perform a memory charm and be done with it. Admittedly, he knew he should not stretch the bounds of morality so, but it was preferable to seedy encounters in trashy motels or dirty back alleys. "Actually," Remus said with a sigh. "I do not."

Remus gasped as the long-fingered hand took hold of his cock through thin underwear. It was driving him mad, but what set him over the edge was the way the man kissed the side of his nose and corner of his eye which was slightly salty from tears spilled just minutes before he'd met the man.

"All right," Remus whispered. "You can come back to mine, but it is imperative that we remain perfectly quiet."

They took a cab part of the way, and walked part. Remus took him in a roundabout way until the man was sufficiently confused as to his whereabouts. He seemed surprised when Remus' cabin showed up in what felt like the middle of nowhere. In reality, Remus had Apparated them while kissing. There was no way the man would be able to find the cabin again.

They tip-toed through the living room, silent as the dead. Remus led the man to the bedroom, shut the door, and locked it. As soon as he turned around, he saw the man spread out on the bed, completely starkers. "Remember?" Remus pressed a finger to his lips in the sign for quiet.

For a moment, he was reminded of his times back in Hogwarts, sneaking around and snogging in broom closets. After so many years of not having to do this, here he was right back in it again. What a fitting way to remember Robert. Remus choked back tears in fever of heat and arousal. In a flash, he joined the man on the bed.

The man had short, spiky blond hair and dazzling blue eyes. His cheekbones were high and defined, his chin strong and prominent. He was ambiguously young, but easily over the legal age of consent. This man could have been anyone. Remus didn't even know his name. When Remus came while fucking him, Remus did so with Robert's name on his lips and face in his mind.

It felt so good to have that closeness again, that contact. To touch someone and be touched in that way. To come knowing someone else was about to do the same because of you. Remus wanted to hold onto that forever. If it weren't for the need to clean up and get the man out of the cabin before Sirius saw him, Remus would have probably broken down the minute after he pulled out of the man and stripped off the condom.

As it was, Remus needed a few moments to compose himself. Then, with his finger to his lips again, he led the man back out the way they'd come.

It nearly worked. The man did not see Sirius, Remus was absolutely certain of that. However, Sirius saw the man. Remus was thrown into a panic as he saw the whites of Sirius' eyes connect with the back of the man's head. Remus quickly saw the man back to the bar. He considered and decided not to wipe the man's memory.

Remus wished very much that he could erase Sirius', though. The lights were on in the cabin when Remus returned, and Sirius was fuming and in more of a panic than Remus was. A predictable amount of fighting ensued, with Sirius terrified he'd been recognized and Remus attempting to reassure him.

"He didn't get a look at you and even if he had, all he would have seen was long hair and blankets. For all he knows, you're my sister."

"You put me in danger. He could have recognized me."

"He's a muggle."

"My picture was all over the muggle news."

"A year ago. But, Padfoot, he didn't see you."

"Don't you 'But, Padfoot' me! It never worked when we were kids and it's not working now." Sirius had nothing to pack up, so he bunched up his blankets and threw them on the couch as he got up. "I'm leaving!"

Remus held his hands up and moved to the kitchen. Clearly he would not be winning this one by yelling. "One cup of tea," Remus said. "That's all I ask. Have one cup of tea and hear me out. Then if you want to leave, we'll owl Dumbledore right away and see if the preparations for Number 12 are through." Remus lit a burner and put the kettle of water on the stove. "Deal?"

Sirius glanced at the door anxiously.

"Sirius, we're friends. We're marauders. We're brothers. If you don't trust me to keep you here safe, we have bigger problems than tonight."

Sirius sat down on the arm of the couch, arms crossed over his chest. "One cup. Start talking, Remus."

Remus wanted to insist that Sirius needed to start listening, but he settled for tea and silence. "First, I promise you that there is no way that man will say a word to anyone about this. He did not see you and cannot identify you. He could never find this place again or identify it either. I would die before endangering you."

"So then why were you parading some stranger through your cabin in the dead of night?" Sirius' voice was rough.

Remus swallowed. "I was broken up inside. I needed something from him."

"What? Was he your therapist? Your dealer?"

Remus swallowed back bile. At the start of this conversation, he had meant to tell Sirius. But now that he was being backed into a corner, his instinct was to claw his way back out, growling and fighting. Except the big black dog had always been able to keep the wolf in check. And even after an exceptionally good lay, Remus did not feel as young as he once was. If this went badly, today of all days, he was not sure he would be able to recover. He hadn't seen Robert in years; he could handle losing a past lover… but he was certain he could not handle losing Sirius. Not again. Not because of something he did, something he was.

The words spilled out, but the tears and sickness stayed back. He could only say this once. "The man was just a trick I picked up in a bar." He lifted his head from the kettle on the stove and met Sirius' eyes. "For sex."

Sirius stared at him. Those deep grey eyes were flat, piercing. The stare made shivers run up and down Remus' spine, even though he was standing right next to a hot stove. This was worse than the look Sirius gave him when they'd had the conversation about his being a werewolf in second year. Sirius licked his dry lips. "So you're a poofter?"

Remus nodded. And swallowed. And nodded again. "Before you ask, I always have been one. Back in school, before school, even. I'm a great big flaming poof."

There was silence for a minute, and then the kettle whistled loudly. Remus busied himself pouring tea and soaking tea leaves, adding lemon and a touch of honey. Remus picked up the cups to take them to the couch, but found Sirius was standing behind him. Startled, as he had not heard Sirius approach, Remus nearly spilled the cups. Quickly, Sirius reached out and steadied them, and not a drop went astray. "Obviously you're not a flaming anything or I would have figured it out long ago." Sirius' fingers touched Remus' around the cups, and Sirius took one of the cups for himself. He sipped it and inhaled sharply. "You made this burning hot on purpose, didn't you?"

Remus nodded, though he had made it no hotter than usual. "So you would take longer to drink it, and you would stick around longer."

Sirius cracked a smile. "How mischievous of you."

Remus was too stressed to smile. "I try."

Sirius took the other cup and set them both down on the counter. He stood in front of Remus, shifting from one foot to the other. When Remus met Sirius' eyes again, Sirius lifted his arms and immediately wrapped them around Remus. At first Remus was stiff and uncertain. However, when Sirius' embrace continued, Remus couldn't help but melt into it. Then, slowly, gratefully, he returned the hug.

* * *

Hogwarts: 1978

"I can't believe this will be the last—"

"Hshh!" Remus clung to Robert tightly, their arms wrapped around each other so tightly that it almost hurt.

"You're always quieting me. Just for once, let me say my piece?"

With tears in his eyes, Remus nodded. "Go ahead," he whispered, his voice breaking.

Robert paused, then, "Fuck." He sniffled back tears of his own. "Now I can't say anything!" He shook with sobs, and Remus let his own tears slide down his cheeks. Remus' chest felt trapped, smashed, and he gasped for breath between fits of sobs. Robert's fingers dug into his back, clutching him desperately. Precious seconds and minutes ticked by, and all they could do, twenty-something minutes before the Hogwarts Express was to come and whisk them away, was cry with each other.

"I love you," Remus choked out, and the words seemed empty as they resounded in the broom closet. They couldn't express even a fraction of what Remus felt.

"I love you, too," Robert replied. He pulled back just enough to see Remus' face. "If…" he trailed off.

"Say it?" Remus whispered.

Robert shook his head and tried to control his emotions.

It didn't matter; Remus knew what he was going to say. If Remus made it through the war, if Remus were still alive in a few years after Robert finished at Hogwarts, would the two of them find each other again? Neither young man dared answer, for the same reason they could not speak of things uncertain.

Remus pulled him close again, thumping Robert on the back and squeezing him. They both coughed and sniffled, rubbed their cheeks into their shoulders, and mopped their faces with handkerchiefs. They drank up their last few moments together in a series of ragged breaths and racing hearts. And for all the times Remus had wished he and Robert could be together outside the closet, right then Remus wished he could have stayed in there forever.

* * *

Lupin's Cabin: 1995

Present Day

"You berk. You could have told a mate."

Remus shook his head. "I could barely say it now at thirty-five. How could I have said it at fifteen?"

Sirius stepped back, ending the hug. He wore a casual smile. "Like this. 'Oy, mates. You know how you're always aiming to fix me up with birds? Well don't bother, 'cause I'd much rather have a good stiff cock!'"

Remus laughed. "I could barely talk about it with other boys who were gay. You lot would have taken the mickey for sure. Remember how it was with me always studying? And then you'd always joke about my 'furry little problem'?"

"Yeah." Sirius shrugged. "But we didn't mean anything by that. We'd just have a laugh. We cared about you, you know that. We'd have never chucked you out because you liked boys. You can't help who you like." Sirius paused, comprehension dawning on him. "Wait, other gay boys? You mean at school?"

Remus nodded.

"You mean you knew… you spoke to… you had…"

Remus nodded again.

Sirius' tone was deadly serious. "That name in the paper this morning."

"Robert Alverts." Remus swallowed instinctively. But instead of bile or tears, he found his path clear. For once, he realized he could actually speak about Robert… to a friend, no less. "He wasn't my first time… and I don't think what we were could be called boyfriends since no one else knew about us… but he and I were something for three years. Robert shall always have a place in my heart."

Sirius seemed moved, but also well aware of Remus' loss. "Fuck."

Remus nodded, chuckling. "We did a whole bunch of that, yes." Remus took a deep breath and let it out very slowly. "I needed some time today, and tonight I needed to be reminded of that part of me." Sirius reached out and took Remus' hand, and Remus took it as a sign to keep going. "I was so used to keeping secrets about myself. Considering how secrets and distrust got Lily and James killed, I wanted to come clean about this the moment you came to stay here, but I just couldn't tell you. Now or then."

"Why not?" Sirius squeezed his hand.

Remus felt flooded by friendship and overwhelmed with reassurance. If there were any time, this was it. "You come from a pureblood, traditional family, Sirius. How would it be for a friend and dormmate to come to you and tell you that I like guys and I've had a crush on you ever since first year?" As though he were a teenager again, Remus' cheeks flushed red at the admission he couldn't take back.

Sirius' hand shook slightly as he breezed past Remus and dumped his cup of tea out into the sink. "I need something stronger." He moved towards a cabinet.

"I don't think I have anything." There was rubbing alcohol under the sink in the bathroom, but that was reserved for treating wounds.

"I brought a bottle of wine," Sirius said, pulling that very thing out. He yanked the cork out and immediately took a mouthful. His cheeks plumped with fullness until he swallowed in two gulps. Sirius exhaled and shoved the bottle in Remus' direction. "I wish you'd told me."

With uncertainty, Remus took the bottle. He preferred the tea, in all honesty, but the wine was a gesture which could not be refused. "I know." He drank a little, finding the taste warm but strong, fruity, and startling. "But back then, it was as though girls were the only things worth talking about. Even if I'd told you, I wouldn't have been able to participate in those discussions. James, Peter, you… you all liked girls."

"I do," Sirius agreed. He snatched the bottle back and took a swig. "But I never said I liked them exclusively."

Remus had excellent hearing, yet he was sure he must have heard wrong.

When Sirius spoke again, his voice was quiet and his eyes were filled with the sort of vulnerability that anger had hid during the beginning of their fight. "It would have been nice to have had a friend to talk to about it. Especially a friend I fancied."

Remus set his cup of tea down without taking a single sip. "I need to sit down," he whispered. Though the kitchen table and chairs were closest, Remus and Sirius planted themselves on the sofa seconds later. They lit candles on the coffee table, and the glow filled the room. Remus tilted his head, resting it against the back of the couch. He closed his eyes, gathering his energy and sorting the words out in his head, or at least attempting to. When he spoke, he still felt hopelessly muddled and confused. "You're saying that you are—"

"Bisexual. Yeah, that's me. Always have been. Not that I've had the opportunity to have either man or woman for the last fifteen years, mind." He cracked a smile. "I'm also a convicted murderer, escaped from prison and on the run from dementors."

"Oh really?" Remus chuckled. "In the interest of full disclosure, I must tell you I'm a werewolf."

"Imagine that." Sirius took another gulp from the bottle. "How is it that we can trust each other with the deepest of secrets, yet when it comes to discussing how we like men, we get scared to death?"

Remus shook his head. "I meant what I said before, that I fancied you right from the start. I learned to love you as a dear friend. I cherish your friendship, Padfoot. I don't need anything more from you if..."

Sirius seemed to ignore Remus' uncertainty. He lifted the bottle between them. "A toast?"

Remus nodded. "To friends sharing their secrets at last." He took the bottle and drank.

Sirius nodded approvingly, drank, and raised it again for his own. "To Robert Alverts, a great love in Remus' past. And Sirius Black, who just may be a great love in Remus' future." He took a gulp, passed the bottle over, and smiled as Remus drank to the toast.

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