Younger Than That Now
by Victoria P.

Remus Lupin is thirty-five years old. He can count how many times he's been in love on one hand, and still have two fingers left to flip off Snape when he comes around.

Given that, he's pretty sure he should be forgiven for pulling away in shock when the person he's been in love with the longest -- the one with whom he's never had a chance -- kisses him one night while they're doing the dishes.

He jerks away, spraying them both with water.

"What are you doing?" he asks, more surprised than angry.

Sirius looks at him sheepishly. "I thought, I mean, you-- you fancy men, right? That hasn't changed?"

Remus blinks.

"No. Yes. I mean, yes, I do, and no, it hasn't."

"Give us a kiss then, Moony." Sirius leans in, breath minty fresh and sliding over his lips like a warm breeze.

He flashes back to seventh year, Sirius teasing him about being a woofter, mincing about and blowing kisses at him. Remus shoves him lightly. "Cut it out, Sirius."

Sirius cuffs his shoulder. "Oi! Not good enough for the Professor, am I?"

It's surreal, the way past and present are merging in his brain; the playful touches, the banter -- this could be any of a thousand nights they've spent together, at Hogwarts, at Sirius's flat, at Godric's Hollow -- but it's not. The house never lets him forget, even when he manages to overlook the wasted grandeur of Sirius's once-handsome face, or the weight of the years on his own scrawny body.

"I don't blame you," Sirius mutters, and the faint edge of bitterness cuts through Remus's reverie like a stiletto.

He's tempted to lecture, but Sirius has never responded well to lectures, and he's had his fill of giving them in the two months they've been at Grimmauld Place. With the kids off at Hogwarts and the Weasleys back at the Burrow, he and Sirius have to come to some sort of peace with the past, with each other.

Sirius opens his mouth and Remus can already hear the diatribe he's going to unleash. There's only one way to stop it, he tells himself. And for a second, he lets himself believe that.

He kisses Sirius, open-mouthed, tasting mint and a hint of dinner and something uniquely Sirius, tangy and addictive on first contact.

Sirius's hands, damp from drying dishes the Muggle way, grab his hair, fingers sliding against his scalp, sending pleasant tingles down his spine. His body, already half-aroused simply from being in such close quarters with the object of his desire, responds immediately.

He presses Sirius to the sink, their bodies fitting together perfectly, the way he'd always imagined they would. He can feel Sirius's erection against his hip.

Another memory flashes behind his eyes -- after Hogwarts, Sirius and one of the distant Black cousins snogging at the Hog's Head, and Sirius's cheerful indifference to gender. "Any port in a storm, Moony. Not going to be picky about it."

It's more of a reality check than the way his robe is being soaked, more insistent than Sirius's hands and lips.

He pulls back. "I'm not any port," he says roughly.

Sirius's eyes go flat, distant. "What?"

"I'm not any port in a storm, Sirius. We're not sixteen, and I'm not here for your convenience." He says it matter-of-factly, no histrionics. He'd decided long ago this would be a bad idea, had Sirius ever shown any interest.

He walks away, leaving the dishes half-done.

They avoid each other for days, not hard in a house the size of Grimmauld Place. Much easier than when they'd had to share a room at Hogwarts after Sirius had sent Snape to the Shrieking Shack, with James and Peter trying to mediate, emissaries bearing gifts Remus hadn't wanted, wouldn't take. All the sugar quills Honeydukes had in store, the offer of a new broom, Potions homework written for him through the end of the term -- none of it could ever give him back that innocent trust he'd had in the boy he'd thought was his best friend, the boy he'd wanted before he'd even known what desire was.

In the end, he'd given in. There was never any doubt he would; it was just a matter of time. And it was the only time in his memory Sirius had ever effaced himself, but only because nothing else had worked.

It was Remus's one triumph over Sirius, a Pyrrhic victory that left a bitter taste in his mouth.

The disillusionment, the truth that he is a monster and even those closest to him see him that way, remains. The lesson that in Sirius's hands, everything could be a weapon, has never left him; it contributed to his belief in Sirius's guilt in the long years after James's death. Its echo lingers, reminding him that he is doing the right thing, that to become involved now would be disastrous for him, after so many years of believing his feelings for Sirius were nothing more than a childish infatuation long outgrown.

For once, he has the advantage -- he can leave the house any time he likes. He doesn't, though, except for the necessities of Order business and keeping the fridge stocked; to do otherwise would feel like cheating in this game they're playing. If he wins, he will do it without cheating.

And that thought brings him up short almost a week into their skirmish.

What, exactly, is he going to win?

They've already lost almost fifteen years, and if he's learned nothing else, it's that life rarely hands out second chances; those who don't take advantage of them don't get them again.

Sirius is in the library, searching his father's books for something worth saving, when Remus finds him. Remus is a book-lover, but he's never seen such a collection of dark arts texts, books that make his skin crawl and his balls curl up against his body.

"Were you serious?"

Sirius looks up, opens his mouth and closes it again, a shuttered expression on his face. "About what?"

"This." Remus takes the book from his hands, leans over and kisses him.

Sirius, never one to hesitate, kisses him back with abandon, sliding his tongue against Remus's in a way that makes Remus lean on the desk, pulling Sirius with him.

For a few moments, he is lost in the sensation of Sirius surrounding him, hands everywhere, mouth demanding a response. Sirius tastes of the coffee he prefers to tea, and a hint of magic, ready to spark given the right circumstances.

Remus thinks he could spend the rest of his life in this position, even though his back is starting to protest, they are surrounded by the almost sentient malevolence of the house, and the Order is meeting in a few hours. Not to mention Kreacher could walk in at any moment.

That last thought is enough to return him to sanity. He breaks the kiss and is glad to notice he's not the only one breathing heavily and sporting a hard-on.

"Remus?" Sirius is wary; Remus has seen the look on his face only a handful of times, each engraved on his memory with the clarity and precision of a scalpel.

"Don't start something you have no intention of finishing."

"I wasn't aware I was starting anything."

"You kissed me in the kitchen."

"And you kissed me in the library."

"Sirius." He needs Sirius to say it, say something, prove he remembers, prove he was listening.

"You could never be just any port."

That deserves another kiss, and time stands still as he drags Sirius's head down, the feel of soft hair spilling over his fingers and stubble burning across his cheek heightening his pleasure.

"Why?" he asks, lips against Sirius's ear, knowing he'll probably regret it. He doesn't really want the answer anyway.

Sirius nibbles at his jaw; he closes his eyes and lets his head fall back. "Because."

That's not an answer, but he decides to let it go. Hands and lips and the slick, wet heat of Sirius's tongue in his mouth say more than any glib explanations Sirius could offer, and are far easier to believe.

But there's one thing he doesn't quite understand, one question he thinks is safe to ask.

"Why now?"

"I got tired of waiting."

"Waiting for what?"

Sirius presses his forehead to Remus's. "For you to give me a sign."

"Oh." It takes him a moment or two to process that. He recalls their first kiss in the kitchen, and realizes the whole thing was premeditated -- the suggestion they do the dishes the Muggle way, the close quarters, Sirius's surprisingly fresh breath. He wants to laugh for the sheer unexpected joy of Sirius Black planning ahead, and doing it for him.

Questions still tumble through his lust-addled brain -- why, how, when -- but he stifles them. If Sirius can think ahead, surely he can be spontaneous for once, and accept whatever happens next. "Well. I think I just did. I could do it again, if you like."

"That'd be brilliant."

They sink down into the chair together, Sirius whispering promises he can't possibly keep, Remus stilling him with kisses. Time slips away again, and Remus doesn't care.

He'll take what Sirius can give, and worry about tomorrow, tomorrow.


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