Sirius always said that he had loved Remus probably from the first moment he ever saw him. He said that there had always been some little part of him that had been present, even at the tender age of 11, that knew that he wanted to protect the quiet, sickly looking boy on the train and that he would willingly do whatever it took to make him smile even once.
Remus thought it was a sweet sentiment, but he also thought that Sirius just couldn’t pinpoint the exact moment, and that was understandable since Sirius’ mind was a bit of a chaotic mess of thoughts and emotions and it would be hard for him to just find that one moment where he felt the slightest shift and pause it long enough to hold onto it.
Remus, however, could pinpoint the exact moment he knew he was in love with Sirius Black. Or rather, moments , as it had happened in stages and each one stuck out vividly in his mind as if he had been able to freeze frame them and store them away for safekeeping.
Of course, if he really thought about it and really took a close look at every moment from the time he had met Sirius on the train, he was sure that he, like Sirius, could also claim that a part of him was always acutely aware that the relationship between them could not be placed in the same platonic category as the relationships they had with the other boys, no matter how close all four of them were. They had, after all, started crawling into each other’s beds at night not even halfway through first year - both plagued with inner demons that kept them awake or terrorized their dreams, they had found comfort in the fact that they both had a darkness that neither James nor Peter would ever understand and they had both silently vowed to protect each other from them.
The first real, solid moment of realization for Remus had happened in third year. It was the morning after the full moon and Remus had been in the hospital wing, obediently resting as per Pomfrey’s strict orders, and suddenly he was woken up by what could only be described as a ruckus. Voices just outside the infirmary door were bickering frantically, followed by the sound of Madam Pomfrey scolding the owners of said voices, and shushing them as she ushered someone into the bed just beside Remus’.
“Honestly, Mr. Black! Of all the foolish, reckless things-!” Pomfrey reprimanded, sounding exasperated as most Professors usually did when talking about Sirius. Remus had held his breath, not daring to turn over to see what was going on, though he was sure Sirius had done something ridiculously stupid to land himself in the Hospital Wing. He was willing to bet it was a fight with one of the Slytherins again. “Potter, Pettigrew, just sit down and wait there while I fetch a potion for Mr. Black. Quietly , please!”
The nurse hurried off to her potions cupboard and Remus laid perfectly still and quiet, listening to his three friends whispering just behind him.
“Merlin, Sirius! I can’t believe you did that!”
“Does it hurt?!”
“Nah, it bloody tickles, Pettigrew. Of course it bloody hurts! My fingers are broken!” There was a brief pause. “How’s he look?”
“Dunno. He’s sleeping. Pomfrey’s probably got him on a draught to make sure he’s resting.” James muttered. “Hope it was worth breaking your hand to get in here just to watch him lie there like a-”
His interest sparked, Remus dropped the facade. “I’m awake.” He announced, carefully turning over to face them. James and Peter were sitting on the edge of the cot that Sirius was currently occupying. Sirius was grinning widely at him, nursing his bruised and bloody fist close to his chest. “Morning, Moony!”
Remus was too busy staring at the mangled mess of Sirius’ hand to comment on the annoying nickname Sirius had given him. “What on earth did you do to your hand, Sirius?”
“Oh,” Sirius responded brightly. “Pomfrey said we couldn’t come in to see you unless one of us were sick or injured, so I punched the corridor wall.” He shrugged casually. “I’m injured.”
Remus had stared at him, jaw dropped, feeling both horrified and awestruck. “I-I don’t...Why!?”
“I did it for you, Moony.” Said Sirius, as if it were the most obvious thing it the world. As if anyone would go ahead and maim themselves just to be allowed in to see their friend in the hospital.
Remus was absolutely positive in that moment that Sirius Black was completely insane.
Remus also thought he might be insane as well, though, because he was pretty sure he loved Sirius for it.
Stage Two of Realizing He Loved Sirius Black happened not long after Stage One, but this one was far more obvious. They had been playing Truth Or Dare after drinking a little too much stolen firewhiskey in the dorm room just weeks after the Broken Hand Incident, and Marlene had dared Sirius to kiss one of the boys. Expecting that Sirius’ obvious choice would be James, everyone was quite surprised when Sirius, grinning confidently as only he would, did not pick James at all. Of course, no one was nearly as surprised as Remus was when he found himself being kissed by his best friend.
The next day Sirius announced that he was dating Marlene McKinnon, and Remus felt overwhelmingly envious. That’s when he knew he was fucked, because he definitely shouldn’t be jealous that his best friend - his best male friend - had a girlfriend, and that he would be kissing her from now on and not Remus. He’d never kiss Remus again, because it had only been a game, and Sirius clearly liked girls just as any normal boy their age should and even if he didn’t, he wouldn’t want Remus anyway because Sirius was perfect and Remus was...well, he was what he was.
He forced himself to accept these facts, as he believed them to be, and resigned himself to suffer in silence and hope that these feelings would eventually disappear.
Stage Three was the greatest of all because after years of secretly pining, it had turned out that Sirius did return his feelings and in fifth year they officially became a couple. Remus didn’t think there would ever be a time where he would wake up and not have to convince himself that it was real, and that Sirius Black loved him and wanted to be with him. Stage Three was punctuated with lingering touches and stolen kisses and awkward fumblings behind the curtains of one of their beds until they finally managed to get things right. They were whispered conversations and promises late at night while the others were sleeping, things that only Remus got to hear Sirius say and that he didn’t have to share with anyone, not even James.
Stage Four wasn’t quite as great. In fact, it was pretty bloody lousy, because the absolute worst feeling in the world is when you want more than anything to hate someone but you just can’t do it because you love them. Remus learned just how thin the line between Love and Hate was when he learned that Sirius had told Severus Snape how to get past the Whomping Willow, leading him directly to the Shrieking Shack where he, Remus - a fully grown werewolf - would have killed him, or worse. He wanted to hurt Sirius as badly as he felt hurt. He wanted to say terrible things to Sirius, things that would cut deeper than anyone else knew how to cut the Great Sirius Black.
But he didn’t. He didn’t have to, because Sirius was already hurt and he had already told himself all of the terrible things that Remus wanted to say to him. Sirius’ own guilt plus several weeks of strict silent treatment were punishment enough, Remus decided. He knew that Sirius deserved worse. Moreso, he knew that he himself deserved better. He just couldn’t help it. He loved Sirius too much, and so he forgave him.
Looking back, Remus would also pinpoint this particular moment as when he should have known . He should have known that he wasn’t only in love with Sirius, but addicted to him as well. He should have realized that this was the start of a dangerous habit.
Sirius was like a drug, and Remus couldn’t give him up no matter how deadly a drug Sirius proved he could be.
He would always forgive Sirius.
Remus should have seen Stage Five coming the moment the Daily Prophet read ‘Mass Murderer Sirius Black Escapes Azkaban!’ . He should have known from the way that even reading that name made his skin prickle and his heart race. It had taken years to detox the Sirius Black out of him and he knew that the name should make him feel nothing but the utmost loathing and disgust, but instead he felt that deep longing that he hated to admit he had never fully gotten rid of.
He tried to ignore it. He tried repeating it over and over in his head, the same way he had twelve years before when his world crumbled that he didn’t still love him and that everything he had known about Sirius Black had been a lie. It had never sat right with Remus, despite all of the evidence that had pointed to Sirius being guilty, but something just didn’t feel right. That, he told himself, was the Addiction speaking.
But it wasn’t.
Because Peter Pettigrew’s name was on the map and the map never lies and if Peter was alive then that meant-
They were standing in the Shrieking Shack as if they were seventeen again. Only they weren’t seventeen, they were Thirty Three and Sirius was standing in front of him looking like barely even a shadow of the boy Remus was in love with all those years ago but it didn’t matter in the slightest because all Sirius had to do was look at him and Remus knew.
Because they had silently vowed to protect each other from their personal demons when they were 11 and now Sirius needed to be protected more than ever.
Because he would never be able to make make these feelings disappear, or pretend he didn’t have them at all.
Because Sirius did things that were crazy and reckless and stupid.
Because they had both said and done things out of fear that had made them forget the stolen kisses and awkward fumblings behind the curtains of their beds and the whispered promises they made late at night while the others were sleeping.
He’d forgive Sirius for anything, over and over and over.
Because he loved Sirius.