Sirius was downstairs as soon as he heard the front door shut, the heaviness of the wood making it impossible to close without some sort of noise. It echoed in the old house, announcing the only person who would dare enter without knocking first.
This one was the only other human who lived there besides Sirius.
He hurried to the bottom of the stairs, looking around wildly for his friend. Seeing no sign of the man, he walked briskly to the kitchen to find Remus standing beside the table, looking weary and a bit peaky. Sunlight streamed in from the window, illuminating the silvery highlights of Remus' hair.
"Sit down," Sirius instructed suddenly. He resisted the urge to hug Remus. Instead he strode to the teapot sitting on the stove, grabbing the handle to carry it to the sink. "Tea?"
"Please," Remus muttered tiredly as he sat in the closest chair. He watched as Sirius heated the water for the tea. He ran a hand over his face and sighed. "What have you been doing?"
Sirius just shrugged, keeping his back to Remus. "Nothing out of the ordinary. Cleaning, abusing Kreacher, feeding Buckbeak...do you want something to eat?" He turned after taking a couple of teacups and saucers out of the cabinet and setting them down on the table. He paused, looking at Remus carefully. "You should definitely eat something. Really, I know you're doing your job for the Order, but Dumbledore works you too hard sometimes. You look like you're about to drop. I'll cook some bacon and heat up that lasagna that Molly left."
Remus peered up at him blearily. "Stop acting like a mother hen, Padfoot. I'm fine." He leaned forward to rest his head in his hands. "I'm just tired. Full moon is in two days. You know how I get."
The only sounds for a few minutes were of Sirius puttering around the kitchen, pouring tea into the two cups and setting the pot down on the table between them as he sat across from his friend.
At the thought of the tea warming his bones, Remus looked up to find Sirius frowning at him. "What?"
"You called me a mother hen."
Remus blinked. "Did I?"
With a hand that was most clearly shaking, Sirius spooned three scoops of sugar into his cup. "You're right. All I do is clean and cook and worry." He stopped, setting the spoon down onto the table. "I'm tired of feeling like a bloody housewife!"
Shaking his head, Remus stirred some milk into his tea. "You're not. And don't let Molly catch you saying that; it's 1996, not 1976. Things have different meanings now. Anyway, you know what Dumbledore said. Staying here is the only option right now-"
"I don't feel like a man anymore, Remus!"
Surprised by the roar in Sirius' voice, Remus felt alert and entirely awake at the outburst. He placed his hands around the cup, but he didn't lift it. "You're...most definitely a man," he said slowly. "What would make you feel more like one?"
Sirius slumped his shoulders, his form curling over like an old man. "I don't know," he said morosely. His eyes, full of sadness and something dark that was unfamiliar to Remus, focused on the tabletop. "I just feel so cooped up here. I don't see anyone except for you, and you're only here every so often. Sometimes Order members come and don't even bother to say hello. They just knock when I'm busy upstairs, and someone who is already here answers the door, and they leave before I even know that they've come." His lips formed into a slight sneer. "Sometimes, I even miss Snape's face. If that's not bloody pathetic, I don't know what is."
Remus tried not to smile as he thought of something to say. "Maybe you just need a good shag."
The cup was halfway to Sirius' lips. "What?" Shocked blue eyes stared at Remus.
This time, Remus did smile. "I said that you need a shag," he said loudly. Boldly. "A right good one, too. Something hot and wild and sweaty." He shrugged, taking a sip of his tea. "Maybe once you've buried your prick in someone, you'll feel more masculine."
Sirius grinned. "There's the old snarky bastard I know and love. And how do you suggest I get a good shag partner in here to come to bed with me? I might remind you, dear friend, that not only am I an escaped murderer from Azkaban, but I look like one as well."
Remus laughed. "You look fine." He took another sip of the tea, thinking. "Why don't I search around for you next time I'm out? What would be your preference these days?" His brown eyes twinkled. "I seem to remember you having a thing for blondes back in the old days. Long hair, big breasts, green eyes...I think most of your girlfriends were that type."
A smile was tugging at Sirius' lips. He watched Remus over his teacup carefully, waiting until his friend had just taken a sip. "I think," he said slowly, "that I would like a man."
He had not lost his touch. Remus choked. "Excuse me?" His voice had practically squeaked, and Sirius barked a laugh.
"Your...face...God..." Sirius tried to catch his breath. "Moony, that was priceless. Really, that made my entire week."
"Great," Remus drawled as he gulped some air. "I'm glad that I amused you. Now, seriously, I'll see what I can do about...pleasures of the flesh. Surely, I can get someone to come and be discreet about it. And with some sort of glamour, you won't even look like yourself." He picked up a napkin and wiped at his chin. "Do you want a blonde?"
Sirius was still smiling, lines appearing at the corners of his eyes. "No, I told you. I want a nice, good-looking bloke."
Remus huffed. "Fine, if you're not going to tell me, then I won't even bother-"
"Moony," Sirius interrupted, the smile gone, "that's what I want. I don't really expect you to go..." he gestured rudely, spitting, "WHORE-shopping for me." He sighed, sitting back in his chair. "I almost forgot all about this until just a few moments ago. There was this man before I went to Azkaban. He and I were...we..." He gave up and shrugged at the shocked look on Remus' face. "Sorry I didn't tell you. I honestly didn't remember until just now. It was only once." He smiled just a little. "I think I turned gay from that one time. Or at least, that's what I thought afterwards. I didn't really have any time to explore that theory before I went to prison, but if I had pursued that side of myself any more, I would have most definitely settled down with some bloke." He shook his head and gulped some tea down. "Women are absolute nutters. Men are more stable. I don't need some mad woman in my life."
Remus was still staring at him, his eyes wide. "You...you're gay." He said it as a statement, his voice filled with wonder. "I never thought..." He trailed off, still staring.
Frowning, Sirius looked across the table at the other's face carefully. "Are you okay with this? You're not disgusted, are you? I didn't think you would be, but that's based on the Remus I knew before."
Forcing himself to swallow his shock, Remus tried to smile. "I haven't changed, Padfoot. I'm not disgusted."
Blue eyes were now boring into him. "I think you've helped me today, though, Moony. You don't have to pay someone to come to bed with me, of course, but some kind of sexual exploration would help. If you could get a hold of some Playwitch magazines, I'd be tempted to kiss you." He grinned, waiting to laugh with Remus at the absurdity of the statement. He had playfully joked about that sort of thing with his friends when they had been in school, always producing some sort of roll of eyes or laughter.
But Remus didn't laugh. Instead, the brown eyes were serious and blazing. "Is that a promise?"
And suddenly, to Sirius, it felt as if the room were closing in around him, making him sweat. He shifted uncomfortably on his chair, squirming under the intensity of the hot stare focused on him. Remus...what? Did he really just ask that? "Moony...?"
Remus pushed his chair back and stood up abruptly, the sound scraping across the floor. "One kiss for each magazine, I think, would be fair enough. Don't you agree?" His voice was brisk and business-like.
"Let me change clothes. I'll go to Knockturn Alley. There's this little shop called Mojo Mandi's Emporium of Love that might do quite nicely." He was clearly babbling now, and Sirius stood up as well, intent on stopping his friend. Remus didn't notice though, placing his empty teacup in the sink. He was still talking. "Though I have to admit that I've never thought to go in, despite my realistic acceptance of other people's sexual pleasures and ways of-"
Remus stopped on his way out of the kitchen, turning round to find Sirius striding towards him. He raised his eyebrows, but only had time to take a quick breath to speak again when strong hands clasped his biceps and pulled him forward.
When they kissed, both were silent and still. Sirius ventured a lick at Remus' lips, and at contact of tongues, a spark seemed to ignite between them.
They parted moments later. Sirius licked his lips and smiled down at Remus' upturned face. "I don't think you need to get me any wank mags."
"And I don't think I need to visit Mojo Mandi's," Remus said quietly. He stepped back, pulling on Sirius' robes. "Come on," he ordered, walking backwards. "I intend to make you feel more like a man."
Sirius followed like a loyal puppy, running his fingers over the back of Remus' hand and smiling at the back of the greyish-brown haired head.
Remus was, as he had always been, a man of many surprises.