This fic was written for the Wordsmiths and Betas Holiday Aesthetic Creation, and was inspired by an aesthetic created by KittenShift17. I really enjoyed writing this, so I hope you enjoy reading it :) The only two warnings you need are it's non-canon compliant, and it is M/M, and really... It's 2017. You shouldn't even need that. Hope you all enjoy!

It would be just his luck that the full moon would fall on Christmas this year. His final year in school, his last chance to enjoy the freedom of no responsibilities, to just spend the Holidays with his family with no expectations for the future. Only, now, he would be spending it here, at Hogwarts.

Because if there was one thing that scared Lyall Lupin, it was werewolves. Even after 17 years of living with one, he was terrified of what they were, what they could do and who they might do it to. So instead of going home and celebrating a quiet Christmas with his mum and dad in their little cottage, with their modest tree and homey decorations, he'd be alone, in the shack.

Remus sighed, swinging his bag up over his shoulder as he wandered down the hall towards his last class of the day. Defense against the Dark Arts was usually his favorite, but today he couldn't really think about anything else besides how cold and lonely the castle would be this winter. It had been 6 years since his last Christmas here – during first year his parents had encouraged him to stay, citing that it would be good for his education. He'd known, even then, they really just wanted a break from him and it had clawed at his heart.

That year, however, he'd met Sirius, who'd stayed behind for more nebulous reasons. They'd struck a tentative friendship over the holiday, and when school started up again the other boy had introduced him to James and Peter, and by the end of the year the four boys were inseparable. By the following year, Sirius had discovered his furry little problem, though he'd kept it to himself until the other two had worked it out at the beginning of third year. By the end of third year, Padfoot, Prongs and Wormtail had been born, and Remus hadn't spend a full moon alone since.

Winter, though, was different. Since being accepted as an honorary member of the Potter family, Sirius spent all breaks at their home with James. Peter, naturally, went home to his family and Remus would go spend the obligatory holiday days with his family before retreating to the Potter home as well. The adult Potters didn't know his secret though, and there was no safe house on their property, so he'd always go home during the full moon to protect his second family. With it falling directly on the holiday this year, however, his father had sent an owl, requesting he not come home as they were inviting other guests.

He glanced around the sparsely populated classroom. Some of the students had left early, eager to visit family. Some had been called home early, news of mysterious deaths spreading through whispers and small obituaries in the paper. Most of the rest of the students would be leaving after classes at the end of the day. In their normal seats, Sirius was leaning back in his chair, balancing precariously with one foot hooked around a leg of the table.

Remus dropped his overfull bookbag next to his seat, plunking unceremoniously into his own spot, before pulling out his notes and quills. He could see Sirius watching him out of the corner of his eye, small frown on the edge of his lips.

"What's eating you, mate?" came the controlled drawl, and Remus hunched his shoulders.

"Nothing," he replied shortly, slapping a quill down on the desk. Sirius raised his eyebrow at his friend.

"I can tell," he replied dryly. Before he could ask another question, Professor Akecheta entered and began teaching. She was, as all the years before, new to the position at Hogwarts but had taught at Ilvermorny for over a decade before taking the DADA position. Of Native American descent, she had access to deeper, more earthly elemental magic than her European counterparts, which gave her a unique approach to light and dark spells. Their class had been equal parts philosophy and practical application, which meant they understood more about the curses they were countering than in years past. Remus felt like it was the best education he'd had on the subject in the last 6 years, and had sympathy for the incoming classes that wouldn't get the same insight. Assuming, of course, the curse was still active.

He scribbled a few notes halfheartedly on his scroll, trying to ignore Sirius's barely concealed efforts to get his attention from the corner of his eye. Allowing his sandy hair to flop forwards into his eyes, he effectively shut the dark haired boy out as he tried to pay attention to their lesson. Of course, attention was in short supply, and he missed some of the important points, which made him even more annoyed.

As Akecheta released them to practice dueling, Sirius grabbed Remus's arm, dragging him to their own corner of the room. Usually, they were ordered to split up and engage others due to their naturally mischievous tendencies, but apparently the professors were just as distracted as the students this afternoon. Remus lifted his wand as he stepped into formation across from his dark haired friend, blinking at the frown he saw on his lips.

"What is up with you, Moony?" Sirius asked, wand held loosely at his side. Remus pursed his lips, firing off a jelly-legs jinx.

"I told you, it's nothing," he groused back. Sirius raised his eyebrows, countering the jinx lazily before firing back a stupefy.

"Right. Nothing has you acting like a pouty second year girl who's been turned down for the yule ball," he intoned back. Remus jumped to the side, allowing the curse to slip by him before firing back a tickling hex.

"I'm just...It's just..." he struggled, before gesturing towards the windows outside. Sirius parried the hex, before glancing up, his eyes widening as he caught sight of the moon through the stained glass. Remus could see his brain working, counting down the days to the next full moon, and when he figured it out, he turned his blue gray gaze back onto Remus, understanding dawning across his features.

"Shite," he responded. Remus nodded, firing off a stinging hex.

"Indeed," he replied dryly. Sirius fired two hexes back at him.

"So, I take it you're not going home," he surmised. Remus felt his lips twist bitterly as he shook his head sharply.

"No. Dad wrote, said they're having company this year," he answered, leaving out the part where his father explicitly asked him not to come home. Though, Lyall really didn't ask. He more commanded, and expected it to be followed, and it was.

Remus watched his best friend's expression morph from empathetic to thoughtful, and he shook his head firmly, "No"

Sirius tipped his head to the side, long black hair sliding across his shoulders, impish smirk settling on his lips, "What?"

Remus couldn't control the little smile that grabbed his own mouth, but he shook his head emphatically once more, "No, Sirius. You don't need to stay here. I'll be alright"

Sirius blew out a sharp breath, a few strands of hair dancing with the exhalation, "You're no fun, you know that Moony?"

Remus chuckled, firing off a stinging hex and a tickling jinx in rapid succession, "I'm the most fun you've ever had, Padfoot"

Sirius blocked the first spell, but the second caught him in the side, and he dropped to the ground, laughing hysterically. Remus raised his fists in the air, jumping up and down, cheering, "I'm number one! I'm number one!" while his best friend rolled around on the ground, cursing him through his tears of laughter.

Remus stood at the train platform in Hogsmeade, listening to the bright red train blow it's familiar whistle. He'd come down to wish his friends a happy holiday, and see them off, promising to visit after the New Year. As the train began to pull away from the station, he sighed, shoulders slumping as he tugged his worn cloak closer. Thick, billowing steam, poured out of the stacks, and he waved his hand in front of his face to clear it away, coughing at the weight of it in the cold winter air.

Turning back towards the town, he paused before stepping off the platform, enhanced hearing picking up the sound of boots on the wooden boardwalk. Glancing over his shoulder, he froze, watching the fog part behind him to reveal the tall, dark, boy.

"Sirius?" he asked, confused. His friend grinned, that impish little grin that he reserved only for his friends, that spoke of the mischief he was planning, and shoved his hands into the pockets of his tailored pea cost, strolling up to Remus.

"That's what my mum called me," he answered. Remus turned fully around, looking up into his face.

"What are you doing here?" he asked, "Shouldn't you be going to the Potter's?"

"Well, that was the plan, but then a little wolfy told me someone would be alone here. And I couldn't have that," he replied lightly, swinging an arm over Remus's shoulder and steering them back into the village. Remus made a soft noise of protest, but he could see Sirius shaking his head, "Plus, James is taking Lily home to meet the parents and I figured they could use some time alone"

Remus wrinkled his nose, falling into step with the taller boy, "Lily has already met Charlus and Dorea"

Sirius slowed down, tilting his head around and bestowing him with a knowing look, "Yes, but James wants her to MEET his parents"

Remus's eyes widened, "Oh...Oh! Really?"

Sirius grinned and nodded, directing them towards the Three Broomsticks, "Yup. He's decided to pop the question at New Year"

Remus frowned a little, allowing himself to be guided as he considered the fact that his other best friend had told Sirius and not himself. He grabbed the door to the tavern, holding it open to allow Sirius in first, following him silently into the sparsely populated dining area. Sirius tilted his head at him again, slanting his eyes at his expression.

"He didn't tell anyone else," he revealed, "And I think the only reason he told me was because I caught him staring at the ring in his trunk, sweating and turning alternating shades of white and red"

Remus laughed then, allowing his doubts to vanish as he settled into his seat. Sirius sprawled gracefully in the seat across from him, long legs stretched out as he linked his fingers together and regarded the werewolf. He'd grown, they'd all grown over the past six years, but whereas Remus felt like he was all still awkward lines and angles, Sirius had adopted that easy grace that seemed to come naturally to pureblood children. If they had an ungainly stage it was masked by high cheekbones, strong jawlines, and enigmatic eye colors so that by the time they'd grown out of it they were even more strikingly attractive and none-the-worse for the wear.

For Remus, his monthly changes had given him inner strength that was augmented by lean muscles and firm limbs, but had come at the cost of easy poise. He had a tendency to hunch his shoulders, and walk as if he was guarding his heart at any time. The scars on his face made him nervous, sure that anyone could see what he was, which projected through his moss green eyes. Contrarily, he never really had a hard time meeting girls, he just never really trusted that they were safe around him or would be interested if they knew what he was. Well, that and the fact that girls didn't really tickle his fancy anyhow.

"So, what are we going to do for Christmas?" Sirius changed the subject. Remus raised an eyebrow, tucking his cloak a little tighter around himself in the cool room.

"What are we going to do?" he repeated.

"Well, we are stuck in the castle for the next two weeks with limited staff and even fewer students. Certainly we can come up with something to do," came the reply.

"What if – and now, hear me out here – What if we do the unexpected," he answered, and Sirius tilted forward, enthusiasm gleaming in his eyes, "What if we actually go NOWHERE, do NOTHING, and manage to get through the holidays without earning detention?"

Sirius scoffed, leaning back again before tapping his fingers on the table, "You're no fun when you're brooding"

Remus grunted in protest, "I am not brooding"

"Yes you are. You're feeling sorry for yourself because you have to be here, and not at home," he responded, raising his hand as Remus opened his mouth, "EVEN THOUGH I gave up my own Christmas to come here and spend it with you, because YOU ARE my best friend... Still, all I get in return is brooding"

Remus grabbed a peanut from the tray on the table and threw it at him, laughing when it bounced off his forehead, "I am not brooding"

Sirius threw a peanut back at him, "Brooding!"

Remus grabbed a handful, pelting him with them one at a time, mocking, "Oh, glorious and powerful Padfoot, I am so grateful that you deigned to stay here with me for Christmas, even though your only other option was watching James and Lily suck face in front of his parents"

Sirius flinched, barking out a laugh as the peanuts bounced off his shoulders and head, before he grabbed the bowl and leaned forward, upending it over Remus's head, spilling the rest of the nuts on top of him. Remus sat, shocked for a moment, before he grabbed spare nuts out of his lap and jumped forward to shove them down the animagus's shirt. Sirius caught his wrists in his hands even as their combined weight caused the chair to flip backwards, sending both boys sprawling onto the floor. They stared at each other for a moment in shock, before laughing and grabbing for peanuts off the ground, stuffing as many as they could down each others clothing.

"OI!" came the shout from the bar. Remus and Sirius froze, jumping up, "If you two are going to act like a bunch of buffoons, you can leave!"

The two turned and looked at each other, before Sirius reached down to right his chair, adjusting his coat and settling back down into his seat. Remus grabbed his wand in one hand and the glass dish in the other, wordlessly returning the legumes to their designated spot. He looked at Sirius, smiling innocently, as he reached over and poured the bowl down his best friend's shirt. Sirius jumped up with a shout, and Remus dropped the dish on the table before dashing out into the empty avenue.

"Ugh, I'm still finding these things everywhere" groused Sirius, holding up a beige nut in his hand. Remus chuckled, leaning back on the couch across from where the darker boy was sitting.

"I just plucked one out of my shorts a few minutes ago," he confessed, "I'm not even sure how it got there"

"This one was in my sock. My SOCK Moony!" Sirius whined, and Remus laughed harder, leaning his head on the back of the couch.

"Poor Pads, keeps finding nuts when all he wants is some cream" he teased. Sirius scowled at him, before his expression morphed into thoughtful. Remus winced, that look only ever meant trouble.

"Sirius..." he started, warning tone in his voice. Sirius gave him an innocent look.


"I know that look. I don't know what you're planning, but you can stop right now"

"I'm not PLANNING anything"

"What are you THINKING, then?"

"Well, James may or may not have left me the map. And I may or may not have knicked the cloak," Sirius started. Remus groaned.

"It's our first night! What could there possibly be to do tonight?"

Sirius grinned, the expression lighting up his whole face, "Well, I'm glad you asked Moony"

"It was a rhetorical question, Sirius!" he exclaimed, as his best friend pulled a well worn parchment paper from behind his back,

"See, I was thinking, we could sneak down to the kitchen," continued Sirius, and Remus shook his head.

"And get detention while we're on holiday?"

"Well, I was thinking about just getting some hot chocolate" came the amused response, "But if you really want detention, we could probably stop by the dungeons on the way back"

Remus felt his ears perk up, "Hot chocolate?"

Sirius nodded affirmatively, "I mean, if you don't WANT hot chocolate..."

"I'm going. But only for hot chocolate. No funny business," warned Remus. Sirius held up his middle three fingers on his right hand, eyes wide and angelic.

"Like Lily always says, Scout's honor"

Remus cursed as he tried to keep up with Sirius, running back through the halls towards the Gryffindor common room. He was shorter by a couple inches than the dark haired boy, and struggled to keep in stride with him unless it was a full moon. With the moon a few days off still, he lagged behind by a few feet, the weaker antelope as it were for any teachers who might find them.

Stomping up the stairs two at a time, he almost missed a step as one of the cases swing around, changing their trajectory mid-flight. Reaching the top, they turned sharply to the left, rushing towards the hall that lead to the Gryffindor dorm. Two steps in, Sirius shot out an arm to brace against the wall, stopping Remus in his tracks. Remus huffed, looking up at his friend who'd placed a finger against his own lips before pointing straight ahead.

The shadow slunk along the ground, tail twitching in the air as it trotted down the vacant hallway with purpose.

"Miss Norris!" mouthed Sirius, and Remus started to backpedal. He froze again as his shoe made a loud squeaking noise against the ground, and the feline paused in her patrol. Looking up at Sirius horrified, the taller boy grabbed him by his lapels and gracelessly shoved him sideways into an open broom closet, carefully closing the doors behind them.

The space had been cramped as first years when they hid in closets, and certainly hadn't gotten any larger as the years had gone by. Remus found his chest pressed fully against Sirius's back, and could feel him panting. Remus tried to move back, but the brooms behind him shifted and he froze, trying to keep them from falling. Sirius shuffled, turning about to face him, shushing him as he did.

"She's still out there," he whispered, the scent of peppermint and chocolate on his breath. Remus nodded silently, trying to look over his shoulder at the door.

"How long do you think we'll be stuck here?" he asked, shifting uncomfortably at the handle that pressed into his own back. Sirius grinned, the corners of his mouth curling up wickedly.

"Why? Have something in mind, Moony?" he responded, leaning toward his blonde haired friend. Remus fell still, his own heart stuttering at the sudden proximity.

It wasn't like they'd never been close before. It wasn't even like Sirius hadn't joked about snogging or being intimate before. But, if he was honest with himself, he'd had a crush on his dark haired friend for the better part of a year, and when he tossed out those little comments it let his stomach swoop with anticipation. Even if his brain knew better, his body still responded with some attentive interest.

He could see him in the dim light of the cupboard, hovering over him, leaning towards his face, though whether it was to test his resolve or see him more clearly he couldn't tell. And, in spite of the reaction from the rest of his body, he knew his best friend's proclivities laid in the bed of almost any willing girl who would have him. So he pulled back, clearing his throat before scoffing in a teasing tone, "You know, if you wanted to get me in a broom closet Padfoot, all you had to do was ask"

Sirius was quiet for a moment, which caused Remus to draw his brows down in consternation. Sirius was many things, but quiet was not one of them. He heard the other boy make a humming noise in the back of his throat before he leaned away, and in the crack of light through the door he could see the grin had returned to his lips, "I prefer to use the element of surprise"

"Well, why don't you see if you can surprise us out of here. You need a shower," retorted Remus, crossing his arms over his chest in an attempt to create some space. Sirius snorted, turning back to the crack and peeking out.

"Yeah, well you smell like a circus"

It was cold, and there was a bite to the air as they walked around the black lake silently, Sirius levitating rocks with his wands and flinging them aimlessly across the dark water. They'd been trying to find things to do to occupy themselves with, but it was rather uninspiring around the castle when there were so few inhabitants present.

As if he was reading his thoughts, Sirius sighed, whining, "I'm bored"

Remus grunted in response, "Want to go down to Hogsmeade?"

The taller boy made a face but nodded affirmatively, "You know, we should be finding ways to make things more fun"

Remus wrinkled his nose, "How do you mean?"

Sirius paused, looking up, "I don't know. I guess I imagined breaking into classrooms, and pranking the other dorms, and stealing cookies from the kitchen"

"We did steal hot chocolate from the kitchen," pointed out Remus, "Right before we redecorated the Slytherin dorm in red and gold. Which, by the way, you promised you weren't going to do"

Sirius scoffed, "Yes, but the only person who saw was some ickle firstie who was so scared he hid under the table the whole time. It doesn't count"

Remus rolled his eyes, "I'm sure the firstie will spread harrowing tales about your prowess with decorating charms for years to come"

Sirius reached over and punched him in the arm lightly, and Remus growled back at him. The dark haired boy raised his eyebrows, mischievous grin back at the sound, "Oh, is Moony getting ready to come out and play?"

Remus glared at Sirius out of the corner of his eye. It was three days before Christmas, and his nerves were drawn tight, the moon now almost full. In a blink, the other boy had turned into a big black dog, jumping in front of him and bowing down with his front half, wagging his tail. Remus laughed, kicking a spray of snow off the ground and over his friend. Padfoot barked excitedly, jumping up to grab at the ice with his mouth, spinning around as he landed and taking off towards the village below them.

Remus grinned as he jogged to catch up, falling back in stride with Sirius half way down the hill, where he'd changed back into his human form. The taller boy raised an eye at him, stepping closer, drawing his arm out from behind his back to reveal a snowball in his palm. Remus shouted wordlessly in panic, jumping away even as Sirius threw it at his face. In an instant, the two began a veritable snow war, gathering as much as they could, pelting each other with as fast as possible as they ran, laughing down the hill.

Approaching the entrance to the town, Remus drew up short and sobered, eyeing the Shrieking shack indignantly as they passed it. Sirius dumped a handful of snow down his cloak, before catching his mood and stopping his own merriment just as abruptly. Making a short noise of rejection, he hooked his arm around the werewolf's tugging him impatiently past the dilapidated shelter and into the town limits. Remus chuckled at his attempts at redirection, following him into the first shop he came too.

Scrivenshaft's Quillshop seemed an unlikely stop for the impish pureblood to make, a thought which seemed to occur to him only moments after he stepped inside as his forward momentum paused, but he shook himself and strode onward, grabbing at an ornate eagle feather quill. Remus smiled faintly, recognizing diversion for what it was, easing off to look at the latest journals and papergoods across the room. The proprietor cleared his throat, pushing his glasses up his nose, and spearing them both with a well deserved glare as they filtered through the room. Remus waved weakly, before turning back to Sirius who was holding up a bright purple ink well in the light.

"Moony, check this out," he called, and Remus winced a little before wandering over to his friend.

Sirius pointed to the bottom of the well, smirk on his face, "Look at the color"

"Midnight Maidenhead," read Remus, his ears turning a little pink as the words slipped out of his mouth. Sirius laughed, slapping him on the back before putting the inkwell back on the shelf.

"Wonder where he got the inspiration?" he whispered conspiratorially and Remus wrinkled his nose in return before daring a look at the shop owner. He was older than Remus's own parents, with thinning white hair and watery blue eyes, thick through the middle and wrinkles taking up most of his face.

"Do you really want to know the answer to that?" he replied, turning his green eyes up to Sirius's gray. His friend grimaced then, shaking his head sharply in the negative.

"Well, that's an image I'm never going to be able to purge from my brain," came the sarcastic reply. Remus shrugged.

"You started it," he answered blandly, picking up a bright pink inkwell and blanching as he read the bottom. Turning the pod, he laughed as the color drained from his friend's face.

"Lover's lips?" he exclaimed, and Remus hushed him, glancing over his shoulder at the man who was still watching them.

"I think we're done here," he responded, placing the well back on the shelf, and tugging on Sirius's jacket towards the front door. He gave another friendly wave to the shopowner before shoving his friend out the door ahead of him. Once back in the street they looked at each other, falling apart in laughter before continuing their trek onward.

"I am never going to look at that man the same way again," proclaimed Sirius, shuddering. Remus nodded in agreement.

"I guess he was young once, too"

Sirius shook his head, "I'm never going to get old, Moony"

Remus frowned, stopping abruptly as he looked up at his closest friend, fear creeping around his heart, "Don't say that"

Sirius furrowed his brows, cocking his head to the side, "Don't say what?"

"That you're never getting old," he answered, frown creasing his expression more deeply.

"Why not? I cant think of a single benefit to getting old. You get wrinkly, your sight goes, your hearing goes, birds start avoiding you, and then you end up with a couple of young shits like us laughing at you in your own shop," he declared, shaking his head in revulsion. Remus took a shaky breath, looking away.

"Because the alternative to growing old, is dying young," he answered, deliberately avoiding his friend's eyes. Sirius fell quiet at that, causing Remus to look back at him in surprise. Sirius was watching him with an inscrutable look, no longer sporting the same smirk of self-assuredness he had been only moments before. Remus fidgeted under his inspection, fingers plucking self consciously at the edges of his cloak.

After a long moment Sirius smiled again, this time more natural and warm, lacking the denigration it often carried, before he reached over, slinging his arm around Remus's thin shoulders once more, "Aw, Moony, I never knew you cared"

Remus let out a huffed breath, attempting and failing to shrug the arm off his shoulders, "It's almost like you're my best friend, or something"

There was a tightening of the hand at his shoulder, and he found himself pressed against the taller boy's body briefly, before he was released, honesty in the next statement, "You're mine, too, Remus"

Remus cleared his throat, ignoring the slight blush that crept up his cheeks and the soft smile that found it's way onto his mouth, "So, uh, what do you want for Christmas, Padfoot?"

Sirius released him then, tucking his hands into the pockets of his coat, "I don't know. I don't really need anything"

Remus huffed, "Of course you don't. But do you WANT anything?"

Sirius half turned towards him as they continued their walk, eyes lighting up with a mischievous glint, smirk firmly planted back on his face, "I can think of a few things I WANT"

Remus groaned, "I cannot get you a date with Selena Rosier"

Sirius laughed again, though it sounded hollow to the werewolf's ears, and he turned forward again, "Surprise me, Moony"

Remus groaned at the weight that dropped onto his bed, yanking him abruptly out of warm slumber.

"MOONY! I got us something!" came the excited exclamation, "Get up get up get up get up"

Each exclamation was punctuated by a bounce of his bed, and Remus grabbed for his blanket, trying to drag it back over his head, "Go away, Pads"

"Come on... You'll love this!" came the beseeching whine, and Remus groaned.

"If you loved me you'd let me sleep" he mumbled back. Sirius barked his laugh again, grabbing the blanket and dragging it downwards.

"It's because I love you I'm making you get up!"

Remus felt his heart flutter at the announcement. They'd told each other they loved each other before, especially as children who'd suffered from poor home lives. But now, now that his stupid body had taken note of his friend, it settled in his bones differently. And he knew, without a doubt, he would do anything to hear him say those words again, even if it didn't mean the same thing to Sirius as it did to him.

Remus tried to keep the smile off his face as he playfully clamped his eyes closed, crossing his arms across his body and his legs at the ankles, pretending to keep himself asleep. Sirius make an annoyed noise at the old game, straddling Remus's thighs and reaching down to tickle his side, "This isn't funny, Moony!"

Remus peeked one eye open, "I don't know what you're talking about"

Sensing his imminent victory, Sirius renewed his attack, reaching down to tickle both sides, causing Remus to squeak and scrunch his body up, his knees knocking the back of the taller boy's thighs, sending him falling forward. Remus, expecting impending collision, winced, closing his eyes tightly and turning his head to the side. With a yelp, Sirius caught himself before impact, hands braced on either side of the werewolf's head, face inches from his own. Remus could feel his breath on his cheek, and he opened first one eye, and then the other, taking in the darker boy's arm braced next to his head. Turning, he looked up into the unfathomable blue gray eyes of his best friend, face so close their noses were practically touching.

Sirius made no effort to move, and Remus made no effort to push him away, heart pounding against the cage of his chest. He swallowed harshly as he watched his friend's eyes travel down his face to his lips, and then back up again, fine smile lines peaking out at the corners as he took him in. His breaths came in short pants, his own gaze fixed on Sirius' mouth as the older boy licked his lips. He felt him lean closer, and closed his eyes unconsciously, tilting his head up in anticipation. There was a pause, and then a warm, wet brush up the length of his nose

Remus wrinkled his nose in revulsion, grabbing Sirius by the waist and shoving him up and away, his supernatural strength allowing him to remove the other boy completely from his bed. Sirius laughed again, landing on his butt on the ground, leaning on an arm as he looked up at him from the floor.

"That's disgusting, Sirius!" he shouted, wiping his nose with the sleeve of his night shirt.

The darker haired boy jumped up spryly, hopping up and down, "But now you're awake! So, come on! Get dressed so we can go!"

Remus frowned, scrubbing at his nose again, "Go where?"

Sirius reached into his back pocket, producing two yellowed cards and shoving them into his face, "Special permission from Minnie to go to London for the day!"

Remus paused, wrist still over his nose, "London?"

Sirius nodded vigorously, "London!"

"But, tonight..." Remus started, gesturing at the sky. Sirius frowned and waved him off with a hand.

"We'll be back in time. Don't worry, I'm not going to let you loose on the muggles"

"But what if..." he tried again and Sirius jumped up, grabbing him by an arm and pulling him towards the edge of the bed. Reflexively, after years of being dragged around by friends, he made his body go limp.

"Moooonnnyyyyy," whined Sirius, towing his friend onto the floor. Remus sprawled out onto the worn rug, willing himself to be heavier than ever, "This was a lot easier when we were 11"

Remus laughed then, looking up at Sirius's face from six feet below him, "How, exactly, did you get passes from McGonagall?"

Sirius gave his familiar impish grin, "I may have threatened that I was getting bored here"

Remus grimaced and nodded, tugging his arm out of Sirius's hand and jumping to his feet, "Underhanded, yet effective"

"And true!"

Remus sighed, straightening out his night clothes, "Alright, just give me a few minutes to get ready"

Sirius jumped up, pumping a fist into the air, "I win!"

Stepping out of the fireplace into the Leaky Cauldron, Remus brushed the soot from his clothes before following Sirius up the stairs and into the main dining area. Giving Tom a brief wave, they stepped out into the bright sunlight of muggle London. The city was decorated for the holiday season, boughs of pine adorning doors, and sparkling lights strung up between the buildings. Strands of tinsel wound around the streetlights, giving the avenue a fairytale feeling. Sirius cheered again next to him, and Remus gave him a soft shove accompanied by a harsh shushing noise.

"Stop! People are going to start looking at us," he admonished, ducking his head nervously. Sirius grinned at him, striding out ahead, spring in his step.

"Let them look, Moony! We're free!" he cheered again, and an older man startled on the street next to them. Remus gave the stranger an apologetic look.

"Just got out of jail. Been there a while," he excused, before grabbing the dark haired boy's arm and steering him down the road.

Sirius laughed, dragging his feet a moment before tugging his arm back out of Remus's grasp, "You know what you need?"

Remus winced, "I don't think I'm going to like where this is going, am I?"

"You need to lighten up. Relax. ENJOY this beautiful day," came the charming implorement.

Remus hunched his shoulders around his ears, "Please don't do anything to embarrass us"

Sirius grinned, "Not me"

Remus groaned, "Please don't embarrass me then"

"You know what game I think we should play?"

"Ugh. What game do you think we should play, Sirius?"

"Good boy"

Remus froze, his face turning white, "No. No. We are NOT playing 'Good Boy'"

Sirius bounced a few steps away, "Oh yes. Yes we are"

"No, absolutely not!" he hissed back, but before he could stop him Sirius took off away in a sprint. Remus took off after him, watching in horror as his best friend snatched the purse off a lovely girl, before continuing down the street.

"Hey! Thief! He took my purse!" yelled the young woman, and Remus rushed past her.

"Don't worry miss, I'll get it back!" he called out, watching his friend as he turned down into an alleyway. Panting, he caught up just in time to hear a bark, and watch the big black dog return to the road, leather bag in his mouth as he trotted jauntily back. Remus glared at his friend as he jumped up, placing his paws on Remus's shoulders and dropping the purse into his hands, "Someday someone is going to catch you, you know that, right?"

The only response he got was a wagging tail and another lick on the nose for his efforts. Wrinkling his nose, he wiped it forcefully, the dog dropping back down onto all fours as he jogged back to the distraught girl. Sighing, Remus followed him, plastering a smile on his face as he approached her. She was lovely – exactly Sirius's type. Blonde hair, blue eyes, face expertly made up, skirt fluttering beneath her mid length, white overcoat.

"Here you go, Miss" he said gently, holding out the leather purse, soft expression on his face. She clapped her hands joyfully.

"Thank you so much!" she exclaimed, grabbing the bag before leaning forward to press a kiss to his cheek, causing Remus to blush.

"It was my pleasure, really," he answered, and the girl flushed prettily at their proximity. Clearing her throat, she squatted down, tapping her hands on her knees.

"And I'm assuming this handsome fellow is yours?" she asked. Remus rolled his eyes and nodded.

"As much as anyone can claim to own him"

"Well, he's such a Good Boy!" she proclaimed, reaching out to burrow her fingers in his hair. Padfoot leaned forward, shoving his nose down her jacket into the valley between her breasts. The girl squealed a little in laughter, hugging him tighter to her.

"Padfoot!" Remus admonished, and the black dog pulled back, turning his head to look at him, tongue lolling out to one side as if laughing.

"Oh, it's alright. He's just a dog, he doesn't know any better," she responded, rubbing his back vigorously.

"You would think that," muttered Remus, and the girl tilted her head to one side before standing again.


Remus shook his head, rueful smile on his lips, "Nevermind. Ah, would you like to join us? Miss...?"

"Oh!" she exclaimed, holding out her hand to him, "Everly. Natalie Everly"

"Remus," he answered, "Remus Lupin at your service"

She blushed a little as he placed a kiss on the back of her gloved hand, tucking it back against her chest as he released it, "Well, Mr. Lupin, I would love to have lunch with you. But, sadly, I have a previous engagement"

Remus nodded, adopting a vaguely disappointed expression, "Certainly, I understand. I wish you a Happy Christmas, Miss Everly"

She chewed her lip a moment, before muttering a "What the hell", and opening her purse. From inside she produced a piece of paper and a pen, scribbling on it furiously before she handed it to him, cheeks stained red, "Here"

Remus raised his eyebrows before taking the little piece of paper from her, staring curiously at the series of numbers on it, "I...Thank you?"

"It's my number. In case you want to go out some other time," she clarified, ears turning the same shade of pink as her cheeks. Remus grinned more genuinely then, appreciating her own bashfulness. Boldly he reached out, and grabbed her hand once more, placing a chaste kiss on the back of it.

"Until we meet again, Natalie," he replied, before dropping her hand and turning to leave, whistling for Padfoot to follow him.

"Until we meet again," came the voice from behind him.

Remus kept his smile as they walked off jauntily down the street, even after they'd turned the corner and Sirius stepped back into his normal form. Even if he wasn't all that interested in women, it was always nice to feel wanted. Sirius slapped him on the shoulder, giving him a cheshire cat grin.

"See, that wasn't so bad, was it?"

Remus rolled his eyes and shook his head, grunting a reluctant, "No"

"Want to do it again?" he asked, enthusiastically. Remus shook his head wildly.


Sirius laughed at him, before taking off once more, this time knicking a shopping bag. They played the game several more times over the course of the afternoon, ranging from pretending to steal small items, to pretending to lose his dog who just magically showed up before he arrived. It was a favorite of Sirius's, which Remus surmised was probably because he got to shove his head down shirts and look up skirts, leaving the werewolf to do the heavy lifting of chatting and trying to get dates and phone numbers. It was a gamble as to whether or not it would work, but it was a way to pass the hours.

As the afternoon started to grow long, Sirius drew up short in front of a shop, eyes fixated on the drawings hanging on the walls inside. Remus paused, looking at what had caught his attention before shaking his head furiously.

"No. Absolutely not, Pads"

"Oh, come on. It'll be fun!" wheedled the taller boy, grabbing the handle to the door.

"Fun? You do know muggles use NEEDLES for this, right?" he exclaimed. Sirius gave him a roguish grin, before stepping inside.

"Yes, but how many of us have muggle tattoos?" he asked before walking around the tight quarters. Remus stuck close to him, still shaking his head.

"You're crazy," he declared.

"You say that like it's a bad thing," retorted Sirius. A tall, bald man with full sleeves entered from a door in the back.

"Can I help you two?" he asked. Sirius nodded, opposite to Remus's negative.

"We were interested in getting a tattoo done"

The man eyed them suspiciously, "Can I see an ID?"

"Of course," answered Sirius, and Remus watched wide eyed as he pulled a wallet out of his jacket, producing a fake driver's license with a flourish. He pressed his lips into a thin line, not giving him up. The artist looked at the ID and grunted satisfactorily, nodding before he looked back up at the gray eyed boy.

"What did you want?"

"Well, it's a personalized tattoo. Footprints. Wolf, dog, deer and rat" he answered. The artist pursed his lips, but nodded again.

"Give me a few minutes and I'll see what I can draw up"

"Sure, take your time," answered Sirius smoothly, and the big man disappeared once more.

"Where did you get that?" hissed Remus, pointing at the ID card. Sirius grinned, putting it away and stuffing the wallet back in his pocket.

"Apparently Lily's brother does some shady stuff. I blackmailed her into getting it done a few months ago"

Remus frowned, "You know, we're OF AGE. You don't have to lie"

Sirius snorted, voice laced with sarcasm, "Yeah, but what am I going to use? My Hogwarts ID card?"

Remus huffed, "Fine. But don't come crying to me when you get arrested by muggles for using a fake ID"

The artist returned just then, beckoning Sirius over to look at his sketches. The dark haired boy pointed at one, smiling enthusiastically. He couldn't hear what was said, but watched as he stripped off his shirt and settled into a chair by the front window. Remus sighed, dropping himself into a stiff plastic chair in the middle of the room.

"My chest hurts," whined Sirius as they hurried back down the streets, sun rapidly dropping in the evening sky.

"I told you they used needles," groused Remus back, shoving the door to the Leaky open unceremoniously. Sirius was right behind his heels as they rushed through the dining area, and down the stairs to the floo.

"Yes, but you didn't tell me it would hurt"

"What part of 'needles' was ambigious?" came his indignant response as he tossed in the floo powder, calling out the name for the Hog's Head tavern. With it being so close to moonrise, it was safer to just go directly to the shack through Hogsmeade, rather than try to get back through the castle in time.

Stumbling through the other side, Remus felt his adrenaline spike as his skin began to itch. That was always how it started – itching skin. A hand grabbed his wrist as he rushed towards the door, and he made an impatient noise as he turned to look at his friend.

"Does it look alright?" wheedled Sirius, pulling his shirt down and to the side, exposing the freshly marked skin. Remus jerked his arm away, making another noise of irritation.

"It looks fine, Sirius! Just like the last 11 times I told you!" he groused.

"Hey, it's ok Moony. We're going to make it," came the soft voice from behind him. Remus sighed, a sharp sound that caused his shoulders to drop.

"I can feel it starting," he replied, shoving the door open and stepping into the cold evening air. Snow was beginning to fall over the village, big, fat, wet flakes that were covering the ground quickly. Turning around, he smiled a little at the surreal feel it gave to the familiar scene. Sirius stepped out behind him, grinning broadly as he looked up.

"Might have a white Christmas after all"

Remus glanced over his shoulder, returning the grin as he caught the taller boy's eye. The two laughed before running off into the street, rushing for the relative safety of the shrieking shack. They slipped in through a loose window board on the bottom floor, Sirius making sure to seal it back up as Remus started a fire and carefully removed his clothing. The last thing he remembered was the sympathetic look on his best friend's face right before he turned into a big black dog.

Remus shivered as he woke up, groaning at the aches and pains in his body. The fire had dulled down a long time ago, if the low glowing embers were anything to go by, and the floor of the shack was decidedly unforgiving. He stretched his arms above his head, wincing at the protests from his muscles. There was the sound of scraping across the room from him, and Sirius's sympathetic gaze swum back into view, mug in hand.

"Hey, mate, how you feeling?"

Remus groaned again as he pushed himself into a seated position, taking the mug gratefully, "I think this floor gets worse every year"

Sirius barked out a laugh, "I promise, when we make a safe room for you in your own house someday, it'll include a bed. Or padded walls"

Remus nodded, taking a long pull from the hot chocolate, moaning in appreciation as is slipped down his throat, "You are a godsend, Sirius"

The animagus froze a moment, his cheeks appearing a little pink, before he cleared his throat, "Well, what are best mates for, right?"

Remus nodded into his glass, "Right"

As he finished his mug, he reached for his clothes, gingerly pulling them onto his sore body. As he pulled his cloak back around his shoulders, he gave Sirius a pained grin, slowly standing. The taller boy shared the expression, putting an arm around his shoulders and guiding him up the tunnel towards the castle.

"You know, if you wanted me all to yourself, you could have just asked Moony. You don't have to go through all the theatrics," he teased lightly. Remus groaned next to his friend, leaning heavily against him.

"Trust me, Sirius, I would rather just ask," he answered, allowing himself to be led up to the infirmary.

Sirius laughed in response, bumping him with his shoulder affectionately as they trudged through the halls. They hiked in companionable silence, limbs occasionally bumping into each other, the animagus offering a supportive hand on his back or elbow as they made their way to Madame Pomfrey.

The matronly mediwitch made a tsking sound as she took in Remus's appearance, swarming around him and guiding him to the cot already set up for him. The werewolf bit back his irritation, trying to be appreciative that the older woman even cared at all for him. Sirius sat next to him on the small bed, shoulders hunched down as he surveyed him.

"Will you be ok if I leave for a little bit?" came the hesitant question. Remus raised his eyebrows before furrowing them again.

"Where are you going?" the question left his lips before he could stop it. The darker hair boy reached up and rubbed the back of his head, lips twisting into a half frown.

"I can't really tell you," he replied, and Remus frowned.

"Why not?"

Sirius shook his head, mouth morphing into an amused but genuine smile, "Would you just quit asking questions?"

"Never," declared Remus with a smile. Sirius barked a laugh, shaking his own head.

"I need to wrap your gift," he confessed. Remus blushed in response.

"You didn't have to get me anything," he protested. Sirius shook his head.

"Best friend, remember? Gift was always going to happen," he answered. Remus smiled shyly.

"I guess I can spare you for a few minutes," he teased. Sirius grinned, popping up and squeezing his shoulder.

"I'll be back before nightfall," he answered, before turning to jog out the door.

"How many gifts are you wrapping?" called Remus after him, but the animagus just waved his hand and disappeared. The sandy haired boy sighed, rubbing his own hand against the back of his head.

"Madame Pomfrey?" he called out. The matron peeked out the door of her office, and Remus favored her with an apologetic look, "I don't suppose there's any way you could help me get Sirius a gift?"

Remus woke up warm, and comfortable on the floor of the Shack for the first time in years. Black fur was wrapped around his body, and tucked under his head, easing his joints as he pushed himself up onto an elbow, "Pads?"

The black blanket shifted, and a shaggy head raised, gracing him with two warm brown eyes. The dog panted at him, before reaching over to lick his cheek and Remus grimaced even as he chuckled. Sirius usually was back is his human form before the werewolf woke up, but the added heat from his body made it a little easier for him to move. Stretching, he scrubbed the back of the dog's head before grabbing his clothes off the chair.

"Thanks, Pads," he murmured, pulling on his shirt. By the time his head was through the hole, his friend sat next to him, small smile on his lips.

"Always, Moony"

The walk back to the castle was slow, but not as painful as the previous day, and the werewolf declined the visit to the infirmary, grabbing a piece of chocolate out of his pocket instead. As they arrived at Gryffindor tower, Sirius recited the password and pushed the door open, allowing Remus to enter ahead of him.

Inside the common room, Remus stopped abruptly, mouth agape. There was a tree next to the fireplace, fully decorated, and streamers adorning the walls and ceiling with a sprig of mistletoe hanging down over the coffee table. On a separate table behind the couch, there was a spread of breakfast foods, and the smell of hot chocolate wafting over to them. Sirius squeezed his shoulder as he stepped past him, secretive smile on his face, "Happy Christmas, Moony"

"You did this?" the sandy haired boy asked, eyes taking in the decorations greedily. Sirius nodded, shifting his weight nervously from one foot to the other. Remus stared at him for a long moment, before throwing his arms around his friend, holding him tightly in a grateful hug, "Thank you. You don't even know..."

Sirius grabbed him just as tightly, pulling the slightly shorter boy against him firmly, "Yes. I do"

Remus tried to ignore the fact that his eyes felt a bit damp as he pulled back, reluctantly releasing his friend from his embrace. He surreptitiously wiped his lashes, before following Sirius to sit on the couch. The dark haired boy grabbed a red and silver wrapped package off the side table, thrusting it into his hands.

Remus smiled, "Really, Pads, this is too much"

Sirius shook his head, expression solemn, "No. I wanted to do this"

Remus chewed his lip for a moment, before nodding and ripping open the package. Inside was an exquisitely tailored cloak, made out of fine wool and lined with red satin. Remus stared at it, before looking back up at his friend, "Sirius...This is...I couldn't..."

Sirius favored him with a haughty look, "You can't reject a gift. That's rude"

"But this is...I'm sure it cost a lot," he replied. Sirius placed his hand over Remus's on the fabric.

"You can't put a price on friendship, Moony. Besides, don't think I don't see you trying to pull that ridiculous excuse for outwear around you every time there's even a little draft. This one has warming charms spelled into it," he replied, "And a cushioning charm. In case you need to sit on it"

The 'or sleep on it' was left unsaid, but Remus heard it none-the-less. He felt himself tear up again in so many minutes at the thoughtful gift, turning his palm over to squeeze his friend's hand. Sirius smiled then, bright and genuine, the expression chasing away the shadows so often hidden on his face.

Remus cleared his throat, before smiling nervously back at the animagus, "I got you two gifts. They aren't quite as extravagant, but..."he started, reaching into his pocket to pull out a small box. Nervously, he shove it over to Sirius, who gave him a questioning look as he took it.

Lithe fingers plucked the top open, and he laughed as he looked inside. Two silver cufflinks sat surrounded by navy blue silk, stamped with dog prints in the center, "These are perfect, Moony"

Remus grinned, placing his cloak on the coffee table before standing. Sirius looked at him curiously as he fidgeted in place, "The second isn't...Well, it's not really something you can take with you. But I think you'll like it anyway"

Sirius's eyes widened as Remus pulled up his shirt, revealing a bare patch of skin above his left hipbone. Clearing his throat, the werewolf recited, "I solmenly swear I am up to no good"

As the last word left his mouth, four sets of pawprints appeared on his skin, marching in a straight line to the bottom of his ribcage before disappearing. Sirius gasped, jumping up in delight, "You got a tattoo?"

Remus grinned, allowing his shirt to drop back into place, "I couldn't let you be the only one with guts"

"Did it hurt?" asked Sirius, hand rubbing the place above his chest. Remus shook his head.

"As it turns out, MAGICAL tattoos are quick and painless," he answered smugly, stepping towards the couch to sit down again. Only, his leg jerked back into place. Remus blinked, attempting to move once more, and getting stopped.

Sirius smirked at him, pointing up, "Magical mistletoe"

"Magical...Why on earth would you put up magical mistletoe if it was only the two of us?" asked Remus, staring accusingly at the little sprig hanging from the ceiling. He heard Sirius move, and looked over, watching his friend take the two steps between them.

Sirius's expression was a mixture of sincerity and determination, blue gray eyes fixed firmly on Remus's own as he approached. Remus felt a coil of anticipation spring up in his stomach, even as his own body took note of the tension in his friend's shoulders, the bobbing of his adam's apple before he answered, "To make sure I got the present I wanted"

Remus felt his mouth go dry, and he swallowed harshly, watching as the dark haired boy's hand came up and cupped his cheek, whispering, "And what was that?"

Sirius framed his face with both hands, removing the space between their bodies and tilting his head down until his lips were just centimeters away, "You"

As his lips pressed against Remus's own, the werewolf felt a moan slide unbidden out of his throat, eyes closing. The kiss was tentative, questioning, and he slid his arms around the animagus's back, pulling his firm body tightly against himself. There was a responding chuckle, and suddenly the mouth was sure, and demanding, encouraging his lips open, allowing their tongues to tangle languidly together. Remus groaned again, tilting his head to the side, begging for more. He felt Sirius's hands slide down to cradle his neck, thumbs brushing against the fine hairs at the nape, before he pulled back, pressing their foreheads together. Remus panted, opening his eyes to look directly into Sirius's, shy smile crossing his lips.

Sirius grinned back, expression looking like a kid in a candy store, "Happy Christmas, Moony"

Remus reached his right hand up, threading his fingers through the taller boy's hair, maneuvering his mouth back down to his own, murmuring"Happy Christmas, Pads" as his lips found their way back home.