Summary: Sirius obeys Dumbledore for once and lies low at Lupin's. Awkwardness ensures, tempers flare, and confessions are made. (SB/RL -mild slash)
Disclaimer: I am just another slave to JRK's world. It belongs to her.
Spoilers: Through book four. I'm in OotP denial mode. *hiss*
Remus Lupin hated the dark. He didn't just hate it, he loathed it with every fiber of his being. Ever since he'd been a little boy, and the werewolf had bitten him in the dead of night, the darkness made something inside him want to crawl into a corner and hide. It represented everything he hated: evil, fear, his own lycanthropy, and death. For Lily and James had been killed in the dead of night, and Sirius Black had nearly met a fate worse than death in the darkness almost exactly a year ago.
Thinking of Lily and James caused an old ache to stir inside him, but it was the thought of Sirius and the dementors that made Remus shiver with fear. If Harry hadn't been able to conjure that Patronus, if he hadn't taught Harry how to conjure one in the first place, if-
No, it was best not to dwell on "What if"s. Sirius was alive now, wherever he was, and so was Harry, though perhaps for not much longer. Remus had been avidly following the news of the Triwizard tournament since he'd read the (highly fabricated) article in the Daily Prophet about Harry's personal life. He suspected someone was trying to kill Harry yet again, and had written so to Dumbledore, who had been inclined to agree with the young werewolf. Tonight was the final task for the tournament, and Remus was awaiting the morning Prophet with a sense of dread. If Harry didn't make it�
Remus shook his head. Dwelling on such depressing things was beginning to give him a headache. He moved from the living room of his small house, to the cramped kitchen to make himself a cup of tea. It would help sooth his nerves, and perhaps some of the aches in his body after the full moon of three nights before.
A heavy scratching at his door startled Remus into knocking over the old blue teapot, spilling tea all over his pajama pants and the kitchen floor. Cleaning the floor with a wave of his wand, Remus moved to the door, his wand still held at the ready if needed. Cautiously, he opened the door to find a familiar shaggy black dog sitting on his side porch, regarding him thoughtfully.
"Sirius, what are-" Remus's question was cut off as Padfoot pounced on him, knocking him to the floor, and began to lick his face in earnest, tail waging.
"Oy! Get off me, you great big lump of fur!" he cried in protest while pushing Sirius up off his chest. He moved to shut the door and turned around to face the now-human Sirius standing in his kitchen, barefoot and shabbily dressed but grinning like a fool at his friend.
"Fancy seeing you here, Moony," he said by way of greeting, crossing his arms over his chest and shivering. "Don't suppose you'd mind me kipping here for a bit, seeing as how I'm a wanted man and all."
Remus grinned back at Sirius, too thrilled at the arrival of his dearest friend to wonder for long at the circumstances that had brought him to his doorstep. "Not at all, old friend. If you don't mind me saying so, you look awful."
Sirius gave a hollow laugh and, for a moment, his gaze took on the sunken, depressed look that twelve years in Azkaban had given him. But the look was gone as swiftly as it had come, and Sirius grimaced looking down at his tattered robes. "A shower and some clean clothes wouldn't be amiss right now, Moony."
"And something to eat," Remus said, taking a mental note to have a long talk with Sirius about what was wrong. "The shower is right where it's always been, and I'll try and find some clothing that isn't worn to rags."
Sirius gave a haughty sniff and did a passable imitation of Lucius Malfoy, holding himself regally aloft. "For your information, Mr. Lupin, these are the highest fashion in Paris right now," he drawled, making Moony laugh for the first time in weeks. He gave a shake of his hips, making Remus laugh harder, and sauntered off to the bathroom, closing the door behind him.
"Mad, he is." Remus muttered to himself, heading across the hall to the spare bedroom, where he kept all the bits and boxes that didn't go anywhere else. He had a trunk full of Sirius's things in there somewhere, carefully hidden for thirteen years. It was dark, and Remus stubbed his toe once and muttered a few choice words before pulling out his wand and whispering "Lumos."
The trunk was tucked in the corner, between a cardboard box labeled "A.L.-DNO" and a broken hat stand. The trunk bore Sirius's initials on a tarnished gold plate, and a simple "Alohomora" opened it easily, revealing the contents of the brimming trunk. Piles of photographs, a few moth-eaten sweaters, an old Gryffindor tie, a box labeled "Dangerous!" in Sirius's untidy scrawl, and a scattering of old Muggle clothes (including a pair of jeans that Remus remembered being very fond of seeing Sirius in). Those came out, along with a t-shirt and one of the less tattered robes. He moved to close the trunk, but paused, one of the photographs catching his eye. He did a double take, wondering where in the world Sirius had gotten a photograph of that particular incident. His seventeen-year-old self was struggling helplessly under the onslaught of a seventeen-year-old Sirius, holding a sprig of mistletoe high above the two of them. As Remus watched, his younger self lost the battle and Sirius kissed him deeply. The memories came flooding back-
"Sirius, you stupid prat, get off me!"
"Not until you kiss me. It's tradition, Moony!" Sirius's voice held a note of something unfamiliar that made Remus pause.
"Bloody hell!" But he gave in and stopped struggling.
"That's the spirit!" he crowed, and leaned in for the kiss.
Warm, soft lips brushed his. Suddenly Sirius was devouring his mouth and Remus was helpless, lost in his touch-
"It's getting a bit chilly here, Moony,"
Remus jumped at the sound of Sirius's voice and hastily shoved the photograph back in the trunk as he turned around. Sirius stood in the doorway, a towel wrapped around his waist, with his long black hair damp and shiny from the shower. Remus gulped, words dying in his throat, and thrust out the handful of clothes at Sirius, blushing.
"He-here you go, Padfoot," he stammered, not looking at his friend. Sirius gave him an odd look, then shrugged and took the clothes in one hand, moving his gaze from the strange behavior of Moony to the trunk that he had just closed.
"Are those my old school things and the like?" he asked, genuinely interested.
Remus nodded, daring to look up at Sirius now that his embarrassment had somewhat waned. "Yeah. Your mum was only too pleased to get rid of it after you�erm�after-"
"After I was a stupid git and went to Azkaban." Sirius finished without a trace of self-pity. "Right. Well, maybe we can look through that later. Right now, clothes. Ta, Moony." And he disappeared back into the bathroom again with a twitch of his hips, leaving a breathless and stunned Remus staring in shock behind him.
Sirius had relished the feel of a real shower, and had used every drop of hot water possible (and a great deal of cold water too) to scrub himself (and his hair) truly clean. He'd had to use Remus's shampoo and the like, and it was beginning to get to him: having Moony's smell in his nose constantly. Seeing Remus's reaction to his near-nakedness had given Sirius a moment of hope that his old friend wanted to pick up the pieces of their relationship and try again. But Remus had laughed it off and thrown him some clothes, which gave Sirius a nasty jolt. He still loved his old friend, had loved him all throughout his stay in Azkaban. Seeing him again in the Shrieking Shack, even under the circumstances, he had been hard pressed not to kiss him right there in front of Harry and his friends. Only the thought of having to deal with Peter had made him resist. And seeing Moony tonight, once again under unhappy circumstances; the urge was still there, carefully controlled but present.
He dressed himself quickly, noting the fact that the jeans (while tight) and the t-shirt fit him quite well. He no longer looked as thin and lanky as he had when he' d escaped from Azkaban, but he still had a lot of weight and muscle to gain if he wanted to look anything like his former self. Chucking his dirty robes into the hamper in the bathroom, Sirius strolled barefoot out of the bathroom and into the kitchen, where he watched Remus make a light supper for them. Time had added more gray to his friend's auburn hair, and a few more lines to his face. But he was still the same, wiry, thin Remus Lupin that Sirius had known in school; and Sirius still found him beautiful. He briefly wondered if Moony in werewolf form was still half as amazingly handsome as he had been in school.
Remus turned and, spotting Sirius lurking in the doorway, motioned him into the kitchen. "Food's ready. I don't have much," he explained, sitting down at the tiny table. "But I'll get more tomorrow, if-"
"Remus, this is fine," Sirius assured him, smiling. "Really. It's the first proper meal I've had in months," He paused for a moment, considering the best way to wipe the worried frown off his friend's face. "You could serve me boiled socks and I'd eat them. As long as they weren't Snape's."
That did it. Remus chuckled, digging into his sandwich at the same time Sirius did. For a while, they ate in comfortable silence, broken only by the occasional hum of satisfaction from Sirius or the chink of glasses as they drank the tea Remus had made. Finally, when the table was cleared of every crumb, Remus magicked the dishes into the sink with his wand. Then he leaned forward, resting his elbows on the table and regarded Sirius with an intent gaze.
"Why are you here, Sirius?" he asked, gazing seriously at his old friend. "I know you-this isn't a social visit. Something happened."
Sirius sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose with his fingers for a moment before regarding Remus with a tired, haunted look. "Lord Voldemort is back," he said simply, waiting for Remus's reaction to the news.
Remus did not shout, nor did he try and deny what Sirius had just told him. Rather, he gave a tired sigh and his shoulders slumped in defeat, looking off into the distance as if lost in thought. Sirius would have preferred it if he had gotten angry or had started crying. Anger, fear ...those he could deal with. But Remus's exhausted acceptance gave Sirius pause, and he waited for his friend to say something.
"When? And how?" Remus finally asked, his intense gaze back on Sirius. So Sirius recounted the tale exactly as Harry had done just hours earlier in Dumbledore' s office. When he had finished, Remus was looking even more tired and worried than before; but he regarded Sirius with a calm, determined look.
"We won't let him get Harry, Sirius," he said softly, voicing Sirius's main concern. "You know that."
Sirius sighed, dropping his head into his hands. "I know that, Moony," he said, his voice muffled. "But it doesn't make me worry any less. If anything happens to him-"
"Nothing will happen to him. Not on Dumbledore's watch," Remus said firmly. He glanced briefly at the grandfather clock in the corner and raised an eyebrow: it was nearly midnight. He turned back to look at Sirius and caught him mid-yawn. Sirius froze, then smiled sheepishly.
"It's been a long night," he explained, but Remus shook his head and stood up.
"You're going to bed. I don't care if I have to make you drink a sleeping potion-you're getting some sleep."
Sirius didn't even protest as Remus hauled him to his feet and led him to the bedroom. Remus never entertained, and his spare bedroom was now a study/storeroom. So he laid Sirius down in his own bed and covered him up.
"You sleep till you're rested. Don't worry about contacting everyone else-I'11 take care of that for you," he said, as Sirius began to feebly protest this command.
"Where will you sleep?" he asked finally, making Remus blink in surprise
"The couch," he replied, picking up one of the extra pillows off the bed. "And no worries-I've slept there plenty of times."
Sirius looked like he wanted to protest this but he yawned again so he simply mumbled a 'thank you' before falling fast asleep. His light snoring soon filled the room; Remus smiled and closed the door behind him as he went back into the living room. He had a lot of letters to write and he hoped his owl, Roma, would be back from her hunting soon so he could send them off quickly.
He had just sat down to write the first letter when a noise from the hallway made him look up. Sirius stood there, now shirtless, looking exhausted but embarrassed.
"Can't sleep," he confessed, blushing. "Don't like the dark much anymore."
Remus knew in an instant what Sirius was asking, and decided the letters could wait until morning.
"No worries. Padfoot." he said softly, following him back into the bedroom. Shedding his own robe, Remus lay down beside Sirius in the bed and the two quickly fell into a deep, easy slumber.
As Remus drifted towards wakefulness, he noticed two things: his covers were extremely warm, and his pillow was quite firm. But he was comfortable for the first time in days, and he hadn't woken up once in the night (a truly miraculous feat considering his nightmares.) Groaning in protest at truly having to get out of bed, for his internal clock was telling him it was nearly eleven in the morning, Remus rolled over and found himself on top of a grinning Sirius.
"Morning, Moony," he said, his grin widening at Remus' startled look. "Sleep well?"
The events of the night before came rushing back to Remus, and he sighed heavily. Sirius put a hand on his friend's shoulder, his grin replaced by a look of concern.
"It'll be alright, Remus," he said, forcing the young man to look at him. "Dumbledore will take care of everything. "
"I know," Remus said, disentangling himself from Sirius. He refused to think about the fact that he'd been quite comfortable and happy right where he was, tucked in his best friend's arms. That was another problem to deal with later. "But we've got to get the others together. You promised Dumbledore."
"Right, right. Just five more minutes of sleep?" Sirius yawned, then buried his head in the pillows again. "I'm so tired."
Remus smirked and silently counted to five, then picked up his wand off the bedside table and muttered, "Wingardium Leviosa." Sirius gave a startled yell as the mattress lifted up off the bed frame and tossed him onto the floor. Laughing, Remus put the mattress back down and grinned at Sirius, who was sitting on the floor, looking crossly at him.
"I'm going to make breakfast. We'll deal with alerting the old crowd after we eat," he said and walked out of the bedroom. When Sirius appeared, fully dressed and showered a half-hour later, Remus had made bacon, scrambled eggs, and toast, along with a pot of tea for himself and coffee for Sirius.
"You sure go all out, Moony," Sirius said as he helped himself to some of the bacon. "Makes a guy feel welcome."
Remus smiled at the praise, but remained silent and poured himself a cup of tea. He wasn't very hungry, and this seemed to bother Sirius, who kept pestering him (between mouthfuls) to eat something.
"The full moon wasn't that long ago, and I know you're not feeling good. Eat something, or I'll make you," he said in a no-nonsense tone. Remus knew that Sirius wouldn't let up until he ate something, so he obliged by eating some toast and a few pieces of bacon. This seemed to please Sirius, and the rest of the meal was passed in companionable silence.
Finally, when Sirius had polished off the last of the bacon and coffee, Remus cleared away the dishes and brought out parchment, ink, and two quills.
"You're helping me write these," he told Sirius, who made a face but didn't complain. "I'll take Alastor Moody, Fletcher, Dodge, and the Weasleys-"
"Molly was there; she knows what's going on," Sirius said distractedly, already scribbling away at his first letter. "But I'll take Kingsley, Diggle, and Arabella Figg."
"Then that leaves Podmore and Vance. I'll take care of them as well," Remus said, and set down to work on his first letter.
The sound of scratching quills filled the air as the letters were quickly written, detailing only that they were all to meet at Remus' place within in the next few days. They were sent off with Remus's owl Roma, Sirius and Remus secure in the knowledge that the recipients would contact anyone else that needed to know about the reformation of the Order. As Roma flew out the kitchen window, Remus stared moodily after her, feeling the need to brood over the current events for some time. Sirius, who was not noted for his patient streak, shifted uneasily in his chair, then sighed.
"Rem, don't brood. It makes you look old."
"Didn't you once tell me I looked sexy when I-" Remus said absentmindedly, cut off quickly but Sirius ' alarmed exclamation.
"Alright, fine!" Sirius stood up, turning an interesting shade of red. "Brood, for all I care. I'm going to take a nap."
"Fine," Remus said coolly, raising an eyebrow. "You do that."
"Remus, come on, " Sirius pleaded, now looking hurt. "Don't be mad at me. You know I hate it when you get all worried and over-analyze everything."
"And why should you care? I'm not your concern anymore." Remus stared moodily at the fireplace, but the silence didn't last for long, as Sirius swore loudly and glared at him.
"Because I love you, you bloody prat!"
The only sound in the room for a long moment was the unsteady ticking of the grandfather clock in the comer. Remus stared at his best friend, utterly shocked. Sirius loved him? As in love, loved him? Sirius looked utterly mortified, and ran out of the room and outside onto the porch. Gathering his wits about him, Remus followed, knowing he would have to do some fast-talking to keep Sirius from running.
"You-you l-love me?"
"Yeah," Sirius refused to meet his gaze.
"As in, 'I want to spend the rest of my life with you' love?"
"Uh huh." Sirius continued to study the wooden floor of the back porch.
"Oh. " Remus took a deep breath, then smiled. "That's great. Because I love you too."
"So I'll just go then, since- wait," Sirius looked up and eyed him suspiciously. "Did you just say you love me?"
"That's right." Remus couldn't suppress the grin that blossomed on his face.
"Ah, thought so." Sirius smiled, and Remus found himself in a bone-crushing hug. He cried out involuntarily, all the air rushing out of his lungs. Then Sirius' lips were upon his and he didn't think of much else until they parted for air, finally.
"Mmm. That was nice. Can we do that again?" Remus murmured, looking dazed. Sirius laughed, then tapped him gently on the nose.
"As many times as you want."
Sirius was in heaven. He'd just kissed his best friend and had escaped with all of his limbs intact, as well as a confession of love from the very same friend. Things were definitely looking up now, though he wondered for a moment whether or not he' d shorted something in the werewolf's brain, because Remus seemed to be in a daze, mumbling half sentences and smiling.
"Anyone home in there, Moony? You're grinning like someone just put a dungbomb up Snape's-"
"Perfectly fine." Remus said, cutting Sirius off before he could finish that disturbing train of thought. "Just�err�a bit surprised. I wasn't expecting to find myself kissing you on my back porch when I woke up this morning."
"But it's fun, isn't it?" Sirius kissed him again, and Remus could only nod his agreement. They managed to make it back into the house, still locked together, and Sirius pulled Remus down onto the couch without too much trouble. When Sirius's hands began to wander under his robes, however, Remus pulled back, breathless.
"We c-can't. I'm not-" he stammered, but Sirius cut him off.
"Relax. We don't have to do anything, you know, major," Sirius kissed him again, this time tenderly. "Not until you're ready."
"It's not that," Remus sighed, pulling himself out of Sirius's arms, though he didn't put much distance between him. "If we would, err, m-make 1-love," (Oh he's cute when he stammers, Sirius thought) "it would mean I'd have to, um, c-claim y-you as my, my mate."
"Your mate?" This threw Sirius for a loop, and he stared at Remus as though he weren't entirely sure the man was speaking English. "As in, the forever kind?"
"Werewolves mate for life," Remus said moodily, leaning back into the squashy couch. "And I can't take that risk, not if you're not serious, or if this could end tomorrow."
Sirius sighed. This was a minor glitch in his plans, but nothing he couldn't deal with, eventually. "That's okay, Moony," he said soothingly, reaching out to take Remus's hand. "I love you, and I'd happily spend the rest of my life with you, even if we never had sex. But I'm willing to wait until you're sure. I'll just be taking a few cold showers now and then."
"Really?" Remus looked at him, hope written allover his tired face. Sirius nearly melted at the sight. The poor guy really didn't think he was serious about their relationship? Sure, Sirius had been quite the ladies man during their school years, but he'd never really done anything with most of the girls or guys, despite the popular belief otherwise. And he'd never toy with Remus that way; what he felt for Remus was different than any school crush.
"Of course. This isn't some fling, Moony old friend. I love you. Hell, ever since I kissed you that one Christmas, I've wanted to do it again."
"I liked that, you know. Even if I didn't act like it." Remus whispered, looking up at the ceiling and blinking furiously. Sirius knew he was trying not to cry, and it made draw Remus into his arms and hold him tightly, silently reassuring. "I thought you were just playing, so I didn't say anything about it."
"And I thought you hated it, so I didn't say anything," Sirius rested his head against Remus' soft auburn hair and sighed. "James kept bothering me about it. He suspected, you know, and never let up on me about asking you out. Even up until-" he stopped, unable to go on, and suddenly it was Sirius' turn to blink back tears.
Remus took Sirius hand in his and squeezed it gently. "He kept dropping hints that I should talk to you about it," he confessed quietly. "Lily too- I think it was their goal to play matchmaker for us."
"We were too bloody stupid to notice." Sirius said bitterly, holding Remus even more tightly. "And it cost us thirteen years apart."
"I-I hated myself for not knowing, for not confronting you about what was happening. And I hated myself for believing that you were capable of something like betraying us all." Remus closed his eyes, furious with himself for being so stupid. "Forgive me, Padfoot?"
"Of course." Sirius kissed the top of his head. "If you'll forgive me for being a stupid prat," Remus nodded and silence passed between them for a moment, before Sirius snorted, and shook his head.
"This is stupid," he said finally, drawing a startled glance from Remus. "What do you say we stop beating ourselves up about the past, and go have a look at that trunk of mine. I bet there's a few things in there to keep us amused until everyone starts dropping by for a chat."
Remus smiled and stood, drawing Sirius up with him off the couch. "It should certainly be an adventure," he said dryly as Sirius dragged him off down the hallway to the spare bedroom.
--to be continued...
Like it? Love it? Want to burn me at the stake? By all means, let me know. And I promise, there will be more, as soon as I snag another beta (anyone?) to read the next bit.