Sirius burst through the dormitory doorway, pausing for just a second to admire the splendid chaos of living with other boys. The terrific muddle of dirty socks, discarded books, spilled ink and broken quills spoke to him -- in the language he loved best – of friends, laughter, kinship, and . . .
He started, glancing sharply over to Remus's bed where the latter lay, comfortably propped up on a mound of stolen pillows, an open book in his lap. "Nnnh," he managed.
Remus quirked an eyebrow. "Did you lose your vocabulary again?" He made a great show of moving his book and checking beneath, before lifting the corner of a pillow. "Not here," he offered, cheerfully.
Sirius seethed at his inability to be articulate. It wasn't fair. A man shouldn't be expected to make Rational Points or have Reasonable Discussions About Confusing Subjects when the cause of the confusion was bloody well prone. "Pffft," he offered.
"Well said." Remus cocked his head in wary fascination, dipping his hand into a small paper bag that lay beside his hip.
Sirius blinked. "Sweets?" he asked, confusing discussions forgotten in an instant. He watched Remus lift a toffee to his lips. "Sweets!" he crowed before bounding across his own bed to land beside Remus's, making a grab for the not-quite proffered treasure.
There was a fraction of a second for Sirius to register bemusement at the warning before he noticed his fingertips were suspiciously warm. A fraction of a second more and he was yelping in pain. "BLOODY buggering . . . . !"
Remus watched Sirius do the unholy dance of those whose hands have been singed. "Bonfire toffee," he offered, simply.
"Bastardy bollocksing buggering . . . "
Remus held up his wand in a gesture of helpfulness. "Should I . . . ?"
"Crap on a . . . yes, YES . . . " Sirius offered his hand, fingers throbbing painfully, squinting until the cool wash of Remus's spell did its work. "Bugger," he gasped, turning to flop dramatically across the foot of the bed.
"You should know better than to mess with Bonfire Toffee," suggested Remus, eyeing the bits of him he could see between his feet.
"I didn't know it was Bonfire Toffee, did I?"
"Could've waited. Could've asked."
"Remus, I'm wounded." Sirius lifted his head to gaze at his friend with eyes he hoped were thoroughly sad, possibly bordering on pathetic. "Are we not mates? Whatever's mine's yours, vice versa, et cetera, ad infinitum?"
"For someone who was completely without vocabulary mere moments ago . . . "
"I wasn't without it."
"May I remind you of 'nnnh' and 'pffft'?"
"Excellent choices, both of them. Very expressive."
Remus gave a soft huff of laughter. "You know you're not allowed near Bonfire Toffee. You know it's that time of year. Did it not occur to you that . . ."
"That one of my best mates would torture me by consuming the stuff under my very nose?" Sirius sat up, smoothing his robes in a stab at embattled dignity.
Remus merely watched him with amusement. "Just because I can clear my mind of mischief and therefore eat a piece without being burned . . . "
Sirius sighed and studied his hand. "It's quite unfair."
"Well at least it seems to have restored you back to yourself," murmured Remus distractedly, attention drifting back to his book.
"You seem yourself again. After . . . " Remus waved a hand. "You know."
"All that . . . jumpiness."
Sirius swallowed against the sharp, hard thing suddenly lodged in his throat. "Have not been jumpy."
"Denial is always a such a fascinating choice for you. Has it ever worked to your advantage?' Remus turned a page as he spoke.
"I've been distracted, alright?"
"Well it's hard when . . ." Sirius squirmed, uncomfortably. "Pffft."
Remus closed his book with a sigh. "We're back to pffft?"
Sirius slouched, curling in on himself, and said nothing.
"What is it?" Remus sat up to better touch him on the shoulder. "Really now, Padfoot. Something's wrong."
"Not wrong exactly . . ." said Sirius. "Just, wrong."
"Ah." Remus fell back against his pillows.
Sirius turned his head slightly to peer through the cover of his hair. "I've been a bit mixed up about . . . well . . . "
Remus waited. No end to the sentence seemed imminent. "Quidditch?" he suggested?
A snort. "No."
Sirius winced. "Closer."
"So it is a girl?"
"Not exactly. Look . . ." Sirius pushed back his hair, shifted a little closer. "Idon'thinkIlikegirlsatall." He pressed his lips together, horrified. That wasn't what he'd meant to say in the slightest. He'd meant to Lead Up To Things, and Go Slowly, had spent weeks planning it out during History of Magic and a couple of particularly boring sessions of Ancient Runes. He was going to be Suave and Compelling. Shit shit shit.
"You don't think. . ."
Sirius watched as Remus digested the rest of the sentence. "Idon'tthinkIlikegirlsatall," he repeated. Oh he was a disaster.
Remus pushed himself into a better sitting position. "What?"
Sirius resigned himself to verbal autopilot, even as he quelled the urge to smash himself swiftly in the forehead with his fist. "It's been months, Remus, bloody months. I thought I was going crazy and then I realized no, not crazy, just . . . well you know . . . "
"You didn't say anything."
Sirius felt his heart begin to hammer against his rib cage. "Well pardon me for missing the class about confessing to my mate that I might very well be . . . . "
"Gay? What's the big deal about being gay? You've known about ME for a bloody year!"
"In love with him! For crying out loud . . . "
Remus spluttered, suddenly out of steam. "I'm sorry? "
"You heard me."
"No, I don't think I could possibly have heard you, because you said, you suggested . . ."
"Saying it fast doesn't help you know."
"Sirius, this is madness "
"Quite possibly. But it's what IS."
"No, no it's not." Remus shifted again, pushing a pillow to the floor so that he could more readily back up against the headboard of his bed. "It's a delusion. It's a fancy." He ignored Sirius's snort of derision. "This is your latest thing. And you can't . . . you can't mess with . . . This isn't something you do when you . . . . This isn't a game."
"I know it's not," said Sirius, becoming irritated.
"I'm not a game."
"Of course you're bloody not!" He hadn't meant to yell, but couldn't regret it. "Do you think so little of me that you think I'd . . . "
"This isn't . . . "
"Stop!" He caught himself, lowered his voice. Shifting forward he covered Remus's hand with his own, pressing it into the mattress. "Please, stop."
Remus swallowed awkwardly.
"I don't know how to . . ." Sirius stopped, his breathing coming unevenly. " I don't know how to . . . ." No words, again. Dropping his head he swore quietly. And then . . .
"Sirius?" A whisper.
He raised his head, the look in his eyes so stark and truthful as to make his friend flinch. With deliberation he reached into the bag of sweets between them, withdrew a piece of toffee, and put it in his mouth. He held Remus's gaze as he savored the rich confection, a melt of aching sweetness slipping across his tongue. It was every bit as good as his no-good, teasing, bastard friends had always suggested, the kind of toffee that made you want to groan with delight, close your eyes and savor the smoky taste until it vanished. But his eyes were fixed on Remus, and he had no intention of shutting out that sight. Not when he could see his friend begin to tremble, long before the toffee was done
"You're not . . ." Remus cleared his throat. "It isn't burning you."
Sirius shook his head.
"It isn't burning you." Remus shook his head slightly, eyes wide. "I . . . . I . . . "
It was the catch in his voice that made Sirius close the gap between them, gathering his friend close, wrapping his arms around him, feeling something break and stretch, sing inside as Remus pressed his face into the crook of his neck. "I like you," Sirius whispered. "You daft, irritating bugger, I realized I like you."
Remus closed his fingers in the fabric of his friend's robes. "Oh," he breathed, eyes drifting closed as he held on tight. "Oh."
"And I like that toffee. Dammit, why'd it have to be so bloody good? I'm going to want it all the damn time now and the chances that I can manage to be without mischief for another thirty seconds, much less the time it takes to eat one of those things, well it's less than . . . "
"Sirius." Remus nuzzled closer.
"Just . . ."
Sirius felt the arms around him tighten, felt his breath stutter and settle. "Oh," he managed, fully realizing what he held for the first time. His eyes drifted closed, relief washing through his limbs as he charted the many pleasures of nestling against Remus – the warmth, the almost-stillness, the sweetness that tugged at the back of his throat with far more potency than the embers of usually-forbidden toffee. "Will y'have me then?" he asked, voice muffled, not wanting to speak but wanting to know.
A shiver of laughter ran through Remus's body. "You're an utter disaster, Padfoot," he murmured, lifting a hand to the back of Sirius's head. "But I think I will."