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Remus stared a the laptop screen.  “Shit,” he whispered to himself.

Someone wanted to write a book about the band.

It was a short email, only a few lines of text, but it still made Remus feel nervous.  He shouldn’t have been, he knew.  Telling his story was his job.  He was a folksy-singer songwriter, bleeding out on stage was what he did.  Did it really matter that this time someone else would be holding the pen?

He took a deep breath and set the laptop down on the coffee table, lying across the sofa and staring up at the ceiling.  Breathe, Lupin, he told himself.  People have speculated for years and he’d survived.  This… he glanced over at the laptop… Skeeter woman wasn’t going to say anything anyone didn’t know.  He could fold his secrets into the narrative everyone knew.

The story ran through his head.

For about five years, The Marauders were the most popular boy band in all of Britain.  They sang the music they were paid to sing and showed up to the photoshoots and award shows they were expected to show up at.  They fell into “types” so tweens and teens could nurture their budding fetishes.  Lunch tables in schools all over the country (the world, really) would be abuzz with conversation about which Marauder was the best. 

Some preferred James, who despite his glasses was sold as the “jock,” and posters of him flashing what artful photoshop suggested were biceps would be found on many a teenaged wall. 

Those who thought they were more “deep,” and “intellectual” would go for the “sensitive” Remus, his face (soulful green eyes glancing up at you through girlish lashes) plastered on the front of diaries with little heart shaped locks. 

Those who thought they were rebellious would go for the “bad boy” Sirius, who only wore black and wrote his autograph with little stars over the “i”s.  Then there was Peter — the fourth Marauder was originally billed as the “cute” one, but quickly just became the “fourth Marauder.”  Girls didn’t usually chose him, but often wound up with him as their hypothetical future husband when they weren’t quick enough to call their favorite during a slumber-party-induced divvying up of the boys.

They were a fun five years, really.  Lots of parties full of famous people, lots of free drinks they weren’t technically supposed to have in the early days.  Lots of time spent in the tour bus strumming guitars and trying to figure out what they would sound like if they were “real” musicians.  Lots of pills slipped under tables and into coats.  Pills to help with sleep.  Pills to give energy.  Pills to keep smiles plastered on their faces as journalists asked vapid question after vapid question.  And then, of course, there was the money.

Boy bands do not tend to have long shelf lives.  The last album was a flop and the boys (now 21) were men.  Their demographic had grown up and didn’t want sugary pop music any more.  Meanwhile, the younger crowd had a fresh batch of corporate offerings to drool over.  The label strongly suggested the band take an indefinite hiatus.

James took to it very well.  He’d been the most laddish at the start, but he was getting sick of all the traveling and partying.  Shortly before the band broke up, he married his long-term girlfriend, the actress Lily Evans.  They both more or less decided to give up on being famous, and slipped out of the public eye and into domesticity with surprising ease.

Peter slipped away from the public eye a little less gracefully.  A few months after the band decided not to be a band anymore, he was arrested for inappropriate contact with a minor.  Several minors, actually.  Peter apparently had not been terribly careful about which groupies he chose to take home.  The investigation and trial was big news for a few months, then the world collectively and willfully forgot about Peter.  His Wikipedia page ended abruptly with a sentence about his conviction and the amount of time he would be serving.  There was an unspoken agreement among the three other Maurauders not to mention him.  They all felt a little weird about how easy it was to edit him out of their memories, out of the conversation.  None were willing to admit that while the other bandmates had always felt like brothers, Peter always just felt more like the fourth Marauder.

So James had a Happily Ever After complete with a baby, and Peter was a footnote everyone wanted to skip over.

Remus and Sirius?  They went off the deep end.

Tabloid after show after blog tried to figure out exactly what went wrong with the two former band mates.  Everyone had a theory.  Sirius grew up with particularly horrible parents.  Remus had been bullied all his childhood and had major self esteem issues.  They were both queer, so maybe they needed the drugs to cope with difficulties of being queer men in showbiz.  They were druggies because they were gay.  They were gay because they were druggies.

The truth was that once you get used to a party life style, it can be very difficult to stop. 

Remus Lupin or Sirius Black (and usually both) could be found at any party in London worth going to.  Sirius owned a lavish townhouse that he filled up most nights with people he didn’t know.  He decided along the way that he’d rather be high than have to deal with anyone sober.  Remus decided he’d rather be high than have his brain talk to him all night.  They shared drugs.  They shared lovers.  They shared bail money.  They shared blame.

They both knew it was unsustainable, but it was what they were accustomed to. 

Then, three years after the band broke up, Remus had an overdose.

The next morning, grey-faced and red-eyed and leaning against his friend’s hospital bed, Sirius said to Remus, “we have to stop this.  It’s going to fucking kill us.”

Remus, who felt half dead already, nodded.  They promised each other that they were going to get sober.  Even in that moment, they knew it was unlikely.  They were fuck ups.  Their pictures were used as click bait by then, old pictures of the band above links assuring the reader that they’ll never guess what the Marauders look like now.  They were washed up members of a boy band.  They were a stereotype.  They knew the story, everyone did.

But somehow, somehow, they managed to keep the promise.

It was slow and messy.  They dragged each other (sometimes kicking and screaming, sometimes drunk) to 12 Step meetings.  They called each other at random hours just to see if the other was sober or fucked up.  They stroked one another’s back as they vomited their relapse into the toilet.  They watched each other take Antabuse.  One day after a particularly nasty fall off the wagon, Remus took Sirius on a surprise road trip.  To rehab.

Piece by piece, they stitched their lives back together.  Sirius decided to pursue acting.  At first, he was tossed a few roles for novelty’s sake.  People’s eyebrow’s raised when they saw his name on posters.  But slowly the public came to realize that the sexy guy from that old boy band could actually act.  He worked his way up to starring roles and even appeared in some plays.  The mantle above the gas fireplace in his townhouse bore little decoration save the two BAFTAs placed on either end.

Remus had dusted off the old notebooks he’d long since forgotten and started to make music.  He recorded albums full of deep, emotive lyrics dripping with metaphor and literary allusions.  His two solo albums were critical successes and commercial flops.

But that was okay, Remus had thought.  He was still getting checks in the mail from the old band days.  He’d sold out spectacularly at the beginning, and so he could work on passion projects for the rest of his life.

The world had accepted the two celebrities back with open arms.  After all, the only thing people like more than a fuck up is a come back.  And this time around, Remus and Sirius kept each other sane and sober.

They were truly lifelines for each other.  And they told each other everything.

Well, Remus thought, almost everything.

Remus had yet to tell Sirius that he was in love with him.  Had been since the day they met.  He could remember so many interviews and photoshoots where the people around him commented that Remus always looked so mysterious and sexy, like he was hiding something.  He wondered how many figured out that he was hiding his hopeless love for his bandmate.

For almost fifteen years now, he hid it.  He pushed it down.  He watched Sirius get better and slowly become Britain’s greatest playboy.  There was a new girl or boy on his arm at every gala or awards show or movie premier.  Cheap tabloids teased about Sirius’s relationship du jour.  Remus knew that Sirius was really only in about half of the relationships the gossip writers thought he was, but half was still a lot.

So Remus decided he would wait.  He would wait until Sirius got cast as a father instead of a son.  He would wait until People Magazine stopped listing them as the some of the sexiest men in the world.  He would wait until they started getting calls asking them to appear in commercials for dietary supplements catheters and whatever else they want old men to sell.  He would wait until they were grey and old and saggy and their cocks didn’t work any more.  He would wait.  It was his secret promise to himself, that he would wait.

Sure, Remus had had a few relationships over the years, but they never really worked out.  They were all doomed from the start, since Remus always looked at them as something to do until he and Sirius ended up together.  And he knew it was fucked up and not fair, but he couldn’t help it.  He had yet to meet anyone he wanted to be with more than Sirius.

And he couldn’t tell Sirius either, because that could destroy everything.  If he and Sirius started dating now, it could all end quickly.  He didn’t want that.  He wanted to be it for Sirius.  He wanted to be the last person Sirius dated, the One.  The Happily Ever After.

And maybe that would never happen, but Remus didn’t want to settle for anyone else.

I’m a Barbie girl, in a Barbie woooooo-oooorld…”

  Remus jumped at the stupid ringtone Sirius had set for himself that time a few years ago when he’d gotten ahold of his phone.  He sat up on the sofa, the sudden shift sending blood rushing from his head.

“Hello?”

“Can I crash at your place tonight?”

Must’ve broken up with his girlfriend, Remus thought.  “Of course,” he said.

“Great.  Be there in a few.”  He hung up.

When Sirius arrived, he didn’t have an overnight bag.  He didn’t need one.  He spent so much time in Remus’s flat that he had several changes of clothing and a toothbrush living there permanently.  An entire shelf in Remus’s bathroom was dedicated to the various creams and serums Sirius needed to get out the door every morning.

“You and… Willow, was it?  Did you break up?”

Sirius nodded.  He flopped down into Remus’s sofa.  “She dumped me.”

“You look positively heart broken,” Remus deadpanned.  They’d had this conversation before.

“Yeah… well…”  Sirius trailed off, and glanced at Remus’s laptop screen and changed the topic.  “I can’t believe someone wants to write a book about us.  It makes it feel like ancient history.”

“It was ancient history.  It’s been almost ten years.”

“Feels like yesterday,” Sirius mused.  “But I feel old, sometimes.”

“That’s because you are old,” Remus teased.  He tugged on a lock of Sirius’s silky black hair.  “I think you’re starting to go grey.”

“Hey!”  Sirius shoved his friend away.  “Yours is coming up soon, young man.  Don’t give me any of that shit.”

Sirius had celebrated (dreaded… feared… accepted) his 30th birthday a few weeks before.  Remus, who was still 29, would keep teasing him until March rolled around and he too reached the dreaded milestone.

Remus settled down beside Sirius.  “Have you heard from James about it?”

Back when the band was still together, James and Sirius were inseparable.  Remus never really resented their relationship, but he knew it was something special.  He still considered James one of his best friends in the world, but they didn’t talk often.  James was busy with his wife and son.  And last Remus heard, Lily was pregnant again.

“No,” Sirius said.  “But I figure we should all get together and discuss it before we agree to anything.  Us three and… Peter.”

Remus nodded.  “I wonder if she’s contacted him,” he said quietly.

Sirius shrugged.  “I don’t know.  I’ve never… I don’t know the channels.”

They weren’t looking at each other.  Neither of them really wanted to talk about Peter, but the matter hung heavy in the air.  It wouldn’t be gone until they’d settled it… or maybe put it off.

“We’ll call James tomorrow and the three of us can go from there,” Remus said.

“Right,” Sirius said, brightening.  “So… what were your plans for today?  Mine went away when Willow started throwing plates at my head.”

Remus laughed.  “I didn’t know people actually did that outside of movies.”

Sirius wrinkled his nose.  “Willow’s an actress.  Maybe she takes her craft too seriously.”

“You met on set, right?  She played your love interest?”  Remus never saw any Sirius’s movies.  Sirius never went to any of Remus’s gigs and didn’t own any of his albums.  When they’d gotten clean and went back into the entertainment industry, they made a promise that they would avoid each other’s work, that they would interact with each other like they weren’t famous.  Their own world.  It was the “keeping each other sane” part of their “keeping each other sane and sober” agreement.

It was doubly important for Remus, since most of the songs he wrote were about him pining for Sirius.

“Yeah,” Sirius said, closing Remus’s laptop gently.  The book discussion would wait.  “We just started hanging out and then… didn’t stop.”

Remus couldn’t help the next words: “you that into her?”

Sirius laughed and shook his head.  “No.  She’s nice and all, but… not very interesting to talk to… she’s sort of…”

“Stupid?”  Remus offered, quick and harsh.  He immediately regretted it.  Willow had never done anything to him.  Nothing but date Sirius.

“I wouldn’t say stupid…” Sirius trailed off, as if to add, but I won’t refute it either.

“So why didn’t you just dump her?”

“Because there isn’t a good enough reason for me to dump her.”

“No reason better than that you don’t want to be with her?”  Remus prodded.

The corner of Sirius’s mouth ticked up in a wry smirk.  “No reason besides that, no.”

Remus laughed.  It sounded false even to him.  “I don’t understand why you do that to yourself.  Date people you aren’t really into, I mean.”

Sirius turned to face him.  They were very close on the couch.  Remus ached to touch Sirius, but he didn’t.  He was used to this, the wanting and never having.  The pain of it was familiar, like an arthritic joint that could feel the rain coming.  It made him feel old before his time.

Sirius shrugged.  “Seems like the thing to do.  Why don’t we go to the cottage tonight?”

Remus was a little shaken by the sudden suggestion, but nodded.  “Sure.  Haven’t been there in a while.  Let me pack.”

A few minutes later, they were on the road headed out of the city in Sirius’s car.  They chatted occasionally, but mostly fell into comfortable silence.  Halfway through Sirius put on one of his many punk playlists, and they shouted along with the music together, neither caring about how hoarse their voices were getting from the screams.

It was almost evening when they finally arrived at the small cottage.

Sirius owned a tiny one bedroom house by the sea.  It was tucked away in a small inlet surrounded mostly by forest.  Sirius had paid more for it than it was probably worth, but the quiet and anonymity of the place was priceless.

The two men got out of the car and breathed in the air.  It was a raw November day — overcast with some darker clouds on the horizon threatening rain.  Remus could hear the waves crashing on the nearby beach.

“Take your shoes off,” Sirius said.

“What?”  Remus turned.  Sirius had that look in his eye he got when we was scheming.  That look had gotten Remus in a lot of trouble over the years.

“Just take them off,” Sirius repeated.  He himself was already barefoot and tossed his boots into his car.

Knowing Sirius too well to keep arguing with him, Remus complied.  He’d barely finished pulling them off his feet when Sirius shouted: “Race you to the water!” and took off.

“Oh, you shit!”  Remus shouted after him, laughing.

It was about 200 meters to the water, so Remus had a little time to catch up.  He matched Sirius’s pace for a moment and casually swept his leg up under his friend’s.  Sirius fell with a loud curse.  “You’ll pay for that, Lupin!”  he shouted as Remus sprinted the last stretch to the water.

“Ha!” he laughed, kicking around in the shallows.  “Guess who got — oh fuck!”

Sirius bull rushed him and sent them both falling into the surf.  Remus gasped and his mouth was filled with salt water.

“You were saying?”  Sirius laughed when they emerged.

“My… my… my phone!”  Remus sputtered, trying and failing to haul himself up.  A wave rolled up behind the two and splashed them.

“Ah… shit!”  Sirius yelled.  “Didn’t think of that!”

The two clambered out of the water and hurriedly pulled their phones out of their pockets.

“Fuck,” Remus said.  “Fuck, fuck, fuck!”  He pressed frantically at the buttons, but his phone was unresponsive.  He glared at Sirius.  “You murdered my phone.”

Sirius threw his own phone into the sand.  “More of a murder-suicide.  I’m sorry, Rem.  I honestly just didn’t think of it.”

“Well,” Remus said, trying to quell his anger.  It wasn’t like this was the first time Sirius just hadn’t thought of it.  “You owe me a new phone.”

“A new phone, and dinner.  And coffee for maybe three months… and…”  He stared up at the sky.

“Keep going,” Remus prompted, “I like where this is going.”

“It’s raining,” Sirius said, pointing up.

Remus looked up as well, though he wasn’t quite sure why.  A raindrop hit him in the eye.  “So it is.”

“Think we should go inside?” Sirius asked.

Remus didn’t really want to move from the soft sand, so he said, “why?  We’re already wet.”

“I promise I’ll get you a new phone,” Sirius said, and the conversation died off.

“So what prompted the sudden road trip?”  Remus asked after a moment.

Sirius shrugged.  He combed his wet hair back with his fingers.  “Haven’t been here in a while.  And after the morning with Willow, I just wanted some quiet.”

“Quiet?  Is that why you decided to tackle me?  Quiet?”

The rain was starting to fall more heavily now.  “You’re not going to let this go, are you?”  Sirius asked.

“Not until I’m walking out of the store with a new iPhone, no.”

Sirius laughed.  “I decided to tackle you because you tripped me in a very unsportsmanlike manner.  I was defending my honor.”

“Sirius, I have spent too many nights in thinly walled hotel rooms to hear you talk about your honor.”

Sirius shoved him.  “You shush.  Now let’s go inside before we freeze to death.  I can already feel my old joints crying.”

“Aw,” Remus cooed.  “Old Man Black just can’t handle the cold anymore, can he?”

Sirius stood and plucked his dead phone from the sand.  “You best be happy Old Man Black hasn’t gotten his cane yet, because otherwise he’d be beating you with it.”

Remus cocked an eyebrow.  “Caning?  Who knew the old perv was so kinky.”

Sirius winked.  “C’mon.  I can’t buy you a new phone if you die of pneumonia.”

 

Sirius started a fire in the small wood stove as Remus set their clothing out on a clothes line.  He’d created a smaller line with some spare string and draped the sodden bank notes from their wallets on it.  They looked like the little Tibetan prayer flags Willow had hung across Sirius’s window when she moved in with him.

“That blanket looks ridiculous, Remus.  Just change into your dry clothes.”

“Not in front of the Queen,” Remus said, drawing the blanket more tightly around his shoulders.

Sirius sighed.  “Then come by the fire.”

Remus complied almost immediately.  “So why did you really decide to pin me to the Atlantic ocean?”

“You’re really never going to let this go, are you?”  Sirius asked, though he was smiling.

“I’m just curious.  You aren’t usually that rambunctious… well, you haven’t been for a while.”

Sirius smiled a small smile at the fire.  “Yeah, it has been a while, hasn’t it?  I guess that might just be it.  I don’t like that I’m getting older.”

“Ah,” Remus realized.  “The book.  You aren’t that old, Sirius.  Most people would still consider you young.”

“I know,” Sirius said.  “But…”

“But,” Remus agreed.

“Do you have any regrets?”  Sirius asked.  “I mean… after everything we’ve all been through, what would you do differently?”

“Wouldn’t have minded skipping out on our three year bender,” Remus said.

“You see, I’m not so sure I regret that.  I mean… you almost dying, that I regret.  But I don’t think I’d be where I was if I hadn’t hit rock bottom like I did.  I think it took ripping my life apart for me to build something I could actually be proud of.”

Remus nodded.  This was surprisingly deep talk for Sirius.  “See Willow’s been schooling you in New Age psychology.”

Sirius chuckled.  “Maybe.  But… I don’t know.  I’m glad I had the learning experience, but I spent so much time being lost… I feel like my time is evaporating all around me, and I still haven’t figured out what’s actually important to me.  Haven’t…”  he trailed off, eyes cast down.

Remus’s skin felt hot and he could feel his heart beating.  He didn’t know where this conversation was going.  “Do you have any ideas?”

Sirius paused.  “Do you remember the day we all met?”

Remus blinked.  “Uh… sort of.  I remember thinking James looked like a git.”

Sirius snorted.

“And I wasn’t wrong,” Remus said.  “I thought Peter looked sort of shy… you know, at the beginning, I thought Peter and I would be good friends.  He seemed out of place like me.  What about you?”

Sirius stared at the fire.  The dancing light of it reflected in his eyes.  It gave him a sort of otherworldly beauty, but made his eyes impossible to read.  “I didn’t like Peter from the start… and I know it sounds like I’m trying to make myself sound observant, but I honestly didn’t like him.  He reminded me of every snitch I went to school with, and he just didn’t seem fun.  Or attractive.  I was just figuring out that I liked boys as well as girls those days, and I was sort of shallow.  I didn’t get why he was in the band.”

“He’s the best singer,” Remus said, and it was true.  He’d at least give the old rat that.

“Yeah, but we all knew boy bands aren’t put together for their technical chops.  And he just always had… something about him.”

Remus nodded.  They rarely talked about Peter, but when they did, they usually learned they all sort of agreed.  “He sort of creeped me out, sometimes.”

Sirius closed his eyes.  “Yeah,” he said, barely audible.  “Then there was James.  Did I ever tell you that I spent the first year secretly madly in love with James?”

Something in Remus’s stomach dropped.  He’d always suspected that Sirius had a thing for James, but having it confirmed hurt more than he thought it would.  “No,” he said.  “You never told me.”

A nostalgic smile tugged and Sirius’s lips.  “He reminded me of all the unobtainable boys I ever went to school with.  I was always falling in love those days.  I felt so deep and tragic, pining away for him.  Then I realized he was a complete git and hopelessly straight.”

“He is one of the most aggressively straight men I’ve ever met,” Remus commented.

Lads, you should have seen that girl’s tits, they were indescribable,” Sirius said in a fairly passable James impersonation.

And then this bird just pulled my fly open and went to town.  Best.  Head.  Of.  My.  Life,” Remus replied in kind.

They laughed.  Remus pulled the blanket tighter around himself.

“And then there was you,” Sirius said.  Tingles ran across Remus’s skin.  “I had no clue what to make of you when we met.  I’d never met anyone like you.”

To most people, that probably would have sounded like an outstanding compliment, but Remus knew why he seemed different.  The other three Marauders all came from money.  Remus was the only one from a working class background.  In the early years, the difference had been pretty significant.

“You were always so… cool.  And you never seemed to want to have anything to do with me, which I found infuriating.  I didn’t know how to deal with rejection.”

Remus wanted to laugh and scream.  He was sort of cold with Sirius in the early days, yes, but that was mostly because he didn’t want the other boy to realize that he was desperately and pathetically in love with him.

“And then you got to know me,” Remus said, trying to diffuse the tension, “and you learned that I’m just a silly little nerd from Wales.”

“It was humbling learning that the only one who went to a state school was the smartest, I’ll admit.  But mostly I remember being sort of annoyed because you were the only one who was prettier than me.”

Remus felt a heat on his cheeks that had nothing to do with the fire.  “Sirius, we both know I was never the prettiest one.  You were.”

Sirius sighed.  “Not about to get into that argument, but if teenaged shallow me made that assessment, there’s absolute validity in it.  I don’t care how People ranks us.”

“So you didn’t like me at first?”  Remus asked.

“I liked you, I just didn’t know what to do with you.  A lifetime of being told that as a Black I’m inherently better than everyone else and suddenly there’s this Welsh kid with no connections who’s somehow prettier and smarter than me.  It threw me off.”

“Sorry to disturb you, then,” Remus mumbled.

“It was a good disturbance,” Sirius said.  “I needed it.  Of all the people in the world, you’ve probably had the best influence on me.”

“I’ve literally given you heroin.”

Sirius rolled his eyes.  “You know what I mean.”

Remus sighed.  “I know what you mean.”

“And… yeah…” Sirius trailed off awkwardly.  “I just… you confused me.  And then…” Sirius sighed and straightened up.  He turned to face Remus directly, the light from the fire casting half his face in shadow.  “Look, there is actually a reason why I brought you here,” he said.  “I wanted to talk to you about something.”

Remus felt a tightness in his throat.  “What did you want to talk about?”

Sirius looked unsure of himself in that moment, and Remus decided it didn’t suit him.  “Do you remember… Paris?”  There was something in the way he said it that implied he wasn’t referring to it as a place, but as an event.

Remus frowned.  “It’s the capital of France, if my state school education informed me properly.  We went there on tour a few times.”

“Do you remember when we went there while touring for the third album?  When we were staying in that hotel with the hot tub on the roof?  And James brought like thirty people over from a club?”

A faint memory flickered in the back of Remus’s mind.  Crowded rooms and blaring music… Sirius off in the corner with some girl… and… and… “I think I blacked out,” he said.  “Why?  Did something happen?”

Sirius bit his lip.  “Yeah, something happened.”

“Wha… what happened?”  Millions of terrible possibilities ran through Remus’s head all at once.

Sirius was staring past him then, eyes glazed over.  “You came into my room, after the party ended and everyone left, and you were fucking out of it…”

Remus’s eyes widened.  “What did I do?”  His heart was pounding a tattoo in his chest.

“You asked me why I was alone.  You said that, uh, that it didn’t make sense I was alone, pretty people shouldn’t have to sleep by themselves.”

“Oh my god,” Remus ducked his head into the blanket.  “Please tell me I didn’t…”

“You crawled into the bed and… uh… made an offer.  And I turned you down!  I promise, I didn’t do anything.  I got you some water and put you back into you room, but while I was doing that, you whispered something…”

Remus wanted to die.  “What did I say?”

“You…” he looked at the fire, seemingly losing some type of nerve.  “You said that you’d wait for me.”

The words, which had echoed through his head for so many years, felt weightier on Sirius’s lips than he’d ever imagined.  “God,” he whispered, face tucked into his knees.

“Was it true?”  Sirius asked.  “Is it… is it still true?”

Fuck it.  Fuck it all.  Fuck everything.  “Yeah, Sirius.  It’s true,” he muttered.

He heard movement, and looked up.  Sirius had moved so he was sitting directly in front of him, face a hairsbreadth from his own.  “I don’t want to wait anymore,” he whispered.

Remus felt hot.  “What?”

Sirius’s eyes were darting about furiously, searching his for… something.  “I… I’ve loved you for a while, Remus.  A long while.  I was just always afraid I’d fuck it up, like I always do.  I didn’t want to fuck things up with you… but I don’t want to have to keep waiting… I—”

Whatever he was going to say, he was stopped by Remus’s lips on his.

When you spend 15 years waiting for a kiss, what is it supposed to be like?  In so many ways it was like every other kiss — the heat of another person’s breath, the sandpaper grit of another man’s stubble, the nervous seconds after initiation when it feels that he won’t kiss back.

But then, it was Sirius.  He kissed back fiercely, all clanking teeth and fingers weaving through Remus’s hair, tiny expressive moans darting out between them in the short breaks between kisses.  Remus ran his fingers through the long black hair, tangled and wavy from their dip in the sea.  The part of Remus that wrote indie folk songs for a living would swear his lips tasted like the ocean.

Sirius’s hand snaked down between Remus’s legs.  He was naked under the blanket, so his fingers made immediate contact with Remus’s hardness.

Remus gasped against his lips as Sirius squeezed him at the base and started stroking him.  Their lips continued to crash together, all sense of technique quickly lost.  Remus had been with scores of men, but this still felt like a first kiss, a first touch.

Sirius tugged at him, his lips drawing sloppy lines down Remus’s neck and leaving bites of bruises along the way.  The rain outside fell harder, faster, louder.

Remus could feel his climax approaching and put a hand on Sirius’s chest.  “Wait,” he whispered between kisses, “I don’t want to finish yet.”  He continued to push Sirius until the man was lying on the floor.  Remus tossed his blanket somewhere behind him and climbed on top of Sirius.  He supported himself on his elbows above him, and bent down for another kiss.  Sirius instinctually thrust his hips up and Remus groaned as the rough fabric of Sirius’s jeans made contact with his sensitive, weeping cock.

Remus undid Sirius’s fly.  The loud squeal of the zipper was jarring against the ambient sounds surrounding it: the men’s labored breaths, the rain pounding against the roof, the cracking of the fire.  They looked at each other, startled, as if they had both just emerged from some dream.  Remus didn’t break eye contact as he started palming Sirius through his briefs.

Sirius closed his eyes.  “Off… I need to get them off.”

The scramble to get Sirius’s clothing off wasn’t much of a seductive dance.  His head got stuck in the t-shirt when Remus tried to remove it too quickly, and his jeans clung to his damp legs.  What made it all the worse was that they had both stopped acting like sexually experienced men.  They had forgotten they were alone and had time.  To them, it felt like they were in some back room while on tour, searching desperately for release while always keeping an ear out for the approaching steps of their manager telling them it was time to step behind a mic or in front of a camera.  Fifteen years of familiarity melted away as they learned each other’s bodies, vulnerable and scared and new.

Sirius pulled Remus back to him once they were both naked, and their members brushed together.  Remus looked down at them.  Sirius had been forced by his job to stay in shape, and it showed.  His stomach was tightly muscled and beautiful and, judging by its surprising hairlessness, waxed.  Remus, on the other hand, had a softer stomach, which sported a dark trail of hair.  Maybe he would have been embarrassed by the difference, but in the moment, he couldn’t think of anything except the fact that their cocks were touching and Sirius had just wrapped his hand around both of them.

Sirius pulled at them, and soon Remus started to help.  Their hips thrust instinctually together as their hands tried to find a good rhythm.  They didn’t look at each other, instead they looked at where they were joined, at the new intimacy they explored together.

It didn’t take long for the tension to boil over.  Remus came first in long ropes of white.  He gasped as Sirius’s hand started to move faster and disentangled himself before it became too much.  He wrapped his hand around Sirius as the other man’s head fell to his shoulder.  Sirius gasped and groaned in his ear until he let out a moan and Remus felt heat and warmth splash on his fingers and down his stomach.

A little while later, they were lying together on the small bed in the cabin, Remus’s head resting in the crook of Sirius’s shoulder.  They had laced the fingers of one hand together, and Remus looked down at their arms.  They were both pockmarked with small scars from needles.  Absentmindedly, Remus started to stroke the track marks on his arm, then the ones on Sirius’s.  “Twins,” he commented, with some irony.

Sirius laughed.  “If that makes us twins, then we’re part of a very large family.”

“We’re junkies.  That makes us citizens of the world.”

“Don’t ruin Casablanca.”

“We’ll always have Paris, though.”

“Oh shut up.”

“You’re being awfully commanding for a man who owes me a phone.”

“I’ll buy you a fucking phone!”

“Wait on it for a bit, I enjoy having this leverage.”

Sirius extracted himself from beneath Remus and propped himself up on his side.  “Think we should mention this to the Skeeter woman?”

Remus’s body tingled with the joy of knowing what this meant.  “Might as well, if we keep going at it someone’s bound to notice.  Your prick has its own press corps.”

“As it should.”

Remus rolled his eyes.  The rain seemed to have slowed outside.

“Do you think we can actually make this work?”  Sirius asked after a moment, trailing a finger across Remus’s skin.  “Do you think it won’t ruin everything?”

“I don’t know,” Remus answered, looking up at the cottage’s plaster roof.  “But I want to try if you want to.”  He looked over at Sirius.  “I promise I won’t stop loving you.”

Sirius’s lip quirked.  “I promise I won’t stop loving you.”

Maybe it was stupid.  Maybe they were too old to make those sort of pacts.  But then, they’d always had a strange knack for keeping their promises to each other.