It was two am. Remus had just come back home from his date with his boyfriend of half a year, only to find Sirius sitting on the kitchen counter, his legs swinging slowly, eating ice cream straight from the bucket.
Sirius gave him a curious look. "You didn't stay there a night?"
Remus shrugged and leaned against the counter. "He has an early morning. I decided to come back home, so he can get some sleep."
Sirius rolled his eyes. "How romantic."
"It's called being adult and responsible."
"How can you be so cold when you date?" asked Sirius, with bite in his tone. "I swear, wasn't this like the first time you two saw each other for a week? And then you don't even stay a night."
Sirius shook his head. "You're unbelievable." Sirius scooped more of the ice cream from the bucket. He ate it slowly, swirling the spoon, thoughtful expression on his face, and then said with a scowl, "Why are you two even together? He's a shallow dullard. And his laugh is weird."
Remus had to think about it. "He likes books too?"
"He likes books too," repeated Sirius flatly, his expression of someone deeply disappointed and unimpressed. "I was expecting you to say at least that the sex is good."
Remus shrugged. Honestly, there hadn't been satisfying sex for awhile. But that's how things went. He knew the signs. This relationship was on its way to end. It was on the same, identical, dull death spiral that had happened with all his previous relationships as well.
He wasn't upset. He had got some good book recommendations to last him a year, and they had had fun movie nights.
Sirius was peering at him with a deep frown. "You should be getting riled up right now. I'm trying to pick a fight here, goddammit. Defend your lovely boyfriend, have a goofy smile, tell me how sickeningly happy you two are. Or cry, for fuck's sake, and tell how bad it is and you don't know how to fix it, but you really want to try." Sirius paused and shook his head, looking frustrated. "But you never do any of that, do you? With anyone you love."
Remus wanted to say that they were talking about dating, not love, but he knew that wasn't a right thing to say. Usually those two things went together for people. "Well. He likes to cook together too. It's nice. He's nice."
"If I were your boyfriend, I'd be offended to hear how passionate you're being. 'Nice'. Please stop, the heat in your words is making me blush."
"He is nice, though."
Sirius groaned. "He isn't supposed to be nice! He should be earth shaking! He should be your other half! He should be the best person in your life, or at least one of the best! He should be making you crazy in all the best ways! You never even smile when you talk about him, you just try to hide your grimace and you change the subject as soon as possible, and that's mad because you are the one who is always smiling, you fucking mister sunshine."
"I'm taking it seriously, therefore there's no room for smiles?"
Sirius gave him a glare, and then a grunt. "True, actually. You do take dating seriously - but in all wrong ways. You treat dating like a boring hobby your mom forced you to start and keep doing when you were a kid."
Remus snorted, because it actually described his current feelings perfectly.
Sirius glared at him accusingly. "Well one thing is sure. You aren't nice when you're getting those people's hopes up."
That stung. "It's not like I lie to anyone. I do try. It just. It never ends up working." At least he didn't strung people along. And it was unreasonable to expect to know from the first meeting if two persons clicked or not, right? It took time.
"It never works, because you date only people who are boring wet blankets, and for some reason you decide it's a good idea to pretend to be a wet blanket too with them, and it's like you throw away all the bits that make you you."
"That's not true," protested Remus half-heartedly.
"Remember Richard? He was bloody shocked and ready to run out the door the first time he hanged around with all of us, because suddenly you were smiling and laughing and being snarky and having a personality. Poor boy looked terrified."
"Oh fuck off, you're exaggerating." Not by much, though, Remus had to agree. But he had learnt from that time... He had stopped bringing his boyfriends around the Marauders. It was just easiest for everyone involved. His boyfriends just didn't gel with his friends, a fact that he had accepted.
"He asked me if you had smoked something when he wasn't looking," Sirius said flatly. "He was that shocked by learning that you had other expressions than 'politely faking interest'. Quite promising sign. I could just imagine how thrilling the time you two spent together was."
"Well, he is an ex now. You can stop needling me about him."
"And what about your current cutie? Is it any better with him? Does he make you laugh? Does he leave you ridiculous lovesick notes on the bedside table for you to read when you wake up? Does he make you want to leave ridiculous notes for him? Oh right, of course not, because you two don't even spend time or nights together."
Remus wrinkled his nose, trying to imagine his boyfriend leaving a lovesick message for him. "You just don't get it. I like things calm and nice. I don't like that kind of stuff. I don't like it when people are clingy. Or pushy. Or overbearing."
Sirius stared at him. His eyebrows were high, almost hidden behind his hair. The melting ice cream was dripping from his spoon onto his t-shirt, which was actually Remus's, as was the ice cream Remus had bought for himself yesterday. "Since when?"
Remus looked away. "Since always."
"Wow. Excuse me, I have to go send a memo to Prongs. Let him know how much you must have hated him for the last fucking decade."
"You're just as bad as him," said Remus, and then promptly shut up, because there was no good ways for that conversation to continue. "Can we stop, please? It's my miserable dating life, not yours, and I didn't ask you to solve it."
"No, we aren't stopping now. I feel like we are starting to get somewhere. You finally admitted that your love life is miserable, and not 'nice'. I think I can soon get you to admit that you're a self sabotaging masochist and you only date people opposite of who you'd really like."
The problem with Sirius was that he was too smart, and had no respect for people who wanted to live peacefully in denial.
"Fuck off," muttered Remus.
"Good. You're starting with grumpy swearing. Means we really are getting somewhere."
"Fine. I admit. I suck at dating. I'm a loser. I'm the worst boyfriend there has ever been. Don't worry, I'll just stop trying then. I'll break up with him. It'll be good. I'll have more time as single for drinking tea and growing old."
"Not the solution. Apart from, well, yeah, you gotta break up with him. But Moony, c'mon. Let's skip this 'woe is me' part. It's frankly quite boring and pathetic, and we just agreed that you aren't a wet blanket."
"No, I'm growing rather keen on the idea. I'll have a couple of decades of mourning over what a mess I am, then couple more regretting how I spent my life in solitude and mourning. It'll make a beautiful, tragic biography one day."
"Sad thing is, I know that you're only half joking. What if you kept that idea for your angsty, fictional novel, and instead actually aimed to live your life?"
Remus rubbed his temples. "Sirius. Let it be. Not everyone will have the grand romance in their lifetime. It just doesn't always work out like that."
"I have a theory," said Sirius calmly.
"Fuck your theories."
"Shut up, don't interrupt. I have a theory that you're scared of love. You're scared shitless of getting your heart broken. So you aren't even considering it. You're just… locking your heart away, and hiding the key. That's why you're always being a prat and shying away from people who could genuinely have a chance of getting who you are, and who are trying to make a move on you. That's why you get all cold fish, and why you turn into emotionless stonewall and reject people who aren't incompatible with you. That's why you end up with oblivious, stupid, shallow dullards - they don't realize that there's more to you, so they won't rock your shitty boat of self-sabotage, and you can pretend that everything is nice."
Sirius gave him a challenging, intense glare, which looked ridiculous, since he was still sitting on top of the kitchen counter, his hair messed up, Remus's silly puppy shirt on, and also waving his spoon in Remus's face. "Counter that, you prat. Tell me I'm wrong."
Remus wanted to say something about how sometimes love wasn't worth the risk of messing it all up. Sometimes it was better to love from afar, from a distance. Sometimes it was safer to keep it confined in small gestures, in every day affections, in letting the other steal your clothes and eat your food. Sometimes it was enough, and it was still beautiful, and there was no need for more.
Love and dating didn't need to go hand in hand, and his love life really wasn't that miserable, just his dating life, and Sirius was wrong, he didn't lock his heart away, never had.
He loved just alright, with all his heart.
But yes, maybe he was afraid.
Sirius smirked smugly. "You can't, eh? Because I'm right. You aren't cold or 'sensible' or cool headed or adult about love. You're secretly a pining disaster, aren't you?"
"Fuck off," said Remus weakly.
Sirius put the ice cream bucket on the counter next to him and jumped down. He had a mad gleam in his eye, and he came to stand in front of Remus, dangerously close. Remus leaned back against the counter, his hands gripping the edge of the counter behind him, his heart beating fast. Sirius leaned closer, and put his hands on the counter on either side of Remus, his fingers brushing against his.
"I've got a question for you. Am I nice?" asked Sirius, his eyes on Remus's.
"No," said Remus, and swallowed. "You're a bloody menace. Prat. Bastard." My best friend. The best thing that ever happened to me. The one person I can't stand thinking about losing.
Sirius hummed, and leaned closer, his nose touching Remus's cheek, his lips kissing softly, briefly Remus's jawline. "Good. I'd fucking hex you if you ever described me as nice."
Remus let out a weak chuckle. "That would never happen." He swallowed. "This is a bad idea."
"This is the best idea," said Sirius, speaking the words vehemently against Remus's throat. "And I've tried to fucking tell you so for ages, but you've been so bloody infuriating. Don't you agree that a chaotic fucking mess of a romance would make a better biography than decades of pointless pining?"
"'At least the sex was good'?" Remus murmured, and felt Sirius shaking against him from laughter.
"Too goddamn right we're gonna make sure of that. Gotta make sure it'll be a fucking good book."
Remus buried his nose in Sirius's hair, and swallowed. This was going to hurt. This was going to, quite probably, somehow break his heart into pieces. This was something he had never done. Because Sirius was right, Remus never dated anyone who had even a slim chance to really get close to him and hurt him.
It would be easier to push Sirius away now. It would be easier to love him from the safe distance.
But maybe Sirius had a point. They only had one life. Better to die heart broken and full with memories than with numbness and regrets.