Word count: 2804
(This is an au where Remus doesn't go to Hogwarts)
It had been precisely two weeks, four days, and thirteen hours since Benjy had left Sirius for his soulmate.
This was unhealthy, Sirius reminded himself. He was completely over him, and he had to stop this stupid… counting obsession. He sighed and looked at the clock. Two weeks, four days, and fourteen hours as of… now.
He should have known that the 'Soulmates don't matter to me' speech Benjy had spoon-fed him when they'd gotten together was complete and utter bullcrap.
It wasn't that Sirius didn't have a soulmate- everyone had one, even Muggles.
He rubbed his left arm unconsciously. That was where he was connected with his soulmate. Anything his soulmate wrote or drew on his own arm would appear on Sirius' and vice versa.
As a teenager, he had been entranced with the drawings and sketches that would appear on his otherwise unblemished skin- his soulmate was quite the artist. He would sit in History of Magic, blocking out the Professor as he droned on and on about the Hogwarts ban on half-breeds in 1969 or whatever, instead watching the colourful splotches of colour trailing across his arm- flowers, animals… especially wild animals, many of which resembled wolves.
Sirius felt almost remorseful that the only thing he contributed to 'their arm', as he liked to call it, was the occasional reminder, and that one time a drunken James had drawn penises all over it.
He was sure his soulmate really appreciated that one.
Sirius remembered also, the first time he had written something directly to his soulmate. It had been in his fifth year, only a week or so after the penis incident, when Sirius decided to, for the first time, acknowledge that their 'arm connection' existed at all. He had been desperate to find out who she was, but also rather nervous. Perhaps his soulmate was someone from school, who, knowing his reputation, wouldn't want anything to do with him.
Sirius sighed, holding the pen to his arm. It was now or never. He had gone through what he would write with James dozens of times, but now, the pen gripped firmly in his hand, he hesitated a little. Was it too much for his first 'letter'? Would his soulmate think he was too weird? How would she reply?
What if she didn't reply?
Closing his eyes, he scrawled the first word on his bare forearm.
He opened one eye, and if he had expected something to happen, he would have been sorely disappointed. Instead, he felt relieved. His soulmate was clearly expecting him to write something else, and Sirius didn't want his whole bloody paragraph to go to waste.
'I think your drawings are beautiful.'
He frowned. That wasn't too weird, was it?
Sirius continued writing. 'My name is Sirius Black. What's your name?'
He stared expectantly at his arm until he saw the start of a sentence being formed near the crook of his elbow.
'Hello. Is Sirius Black… a boy's name?'
Sirius wasted no time in scribbling a reply.
'Yes, it is. Why?'
'My name is Remus Lupin,' the words said. 'And no reason really, I guess I just expected you to be… Well, a girl.'
Sirius' arm was running out of space to write, so he went into the boys' bathroom to scrub the writing off with soap, getting rid of it all, apart from the message Remus had just sent. He went back to the dormitory to sit on his bed and looked it over puzzlingly. Sucking on his quill for a moment, he dipped it back in the ink.
'Are you not a girl?'
'I'm not,' Remus confirmed.
'Yes, oh,' Remus replied.
Sirius thought for a moment. Well, it was his soulmate. It didn't really matter what gender they were, did it? For a while, Sirius had felt more attraction to the boys at Hogwarts the females, most of which James claimed were 'hot'. Maybe he was… Gay. He had never really considered it a possibility until now, when the gender of his soulmate was being thrown in his face. He took a deep breath and continued writing. He wouldn't want Remus to think his gender had put him off.
'So, Remus. What's your favourite colour?'
'You don't mind that I'm not a girl, do you?'
'Of course not, silly.' Sirius hesitated for a moment, his quill hovering over his arm. Then he added, 'Do you?'
'Of course not! And… thank you, I guess. Homosexuality is frowned upon where I'm from, so thank you. For giving me a chance.'
'So what is your favourite colour? Mine's red.'
'Blue,' Remus replied, elegantly.
Sirius wasn't sure quite how Remus had managed to get him so intrigued after just one exchange, but from that day, he always looked forward to their daily conversations. He told Remus almost everything- almost, meaning he wrote nothing of his family problems- after all, who would want to associate with a guy who couldn't even stand up to his own parents? Talking to Remus was like an escape from it all, an escape where he could pretend he was any old teenager, one with a loving and caring family.
That is, until the day Sirius' soulmate decided he wanted nothing to do with him.
'So, how come we've never met before? I'm a Wizard, you're a Wizard, we're both the same age and I know you don't go to Hogwarts. Where did you get all your intelligence? Do you go to Beauxbatons? Although everybody knows Hogwarts is better, of course.'
'I'm…' There was a short pause. Then, 'home-schooled.'
'That must be great, not having to go to lessons and all! How come?'
'I was quite ill as a child, and although I'm not anymore, my parents thought it best if I continued with the education I was getting.'
Suddenly, Sirius felt scared. What if it was something bad, something fatal? 'What illness, if you don't mind me asking?' he wrote, his hand shaking a little.
'I'm not sure I'm ready to tell you…'
Sirius shook off the feeling of foreboding that had overcome him and protested, 'But we're soulmates! We're meant to tell each other everything!'
(It was his fault, Sirius later decided, for being too forceful.)
'Sirius, I just can't okay?' Remus replied, his writing a little untidier than usual.
'But why not?'
There was a long pause, but Sirius was sure Remus was going to tell him.
As writing began to slowly appear on his wrist, he realised this wasn't the case.
'Look, Sirius, the thing is, I don't think I can do this. You're such a brilliant person to talk with, and I just know you'd be even better in person. That's why I can't bring myself to drag you down with someone… Someone like me. I can't tell you about my illness, but I'm sure, if you knew of it, you wouldn't want anything to do with me. I'm sorry, but I can't, Sirius. You deserve better.'
After that, the beautiful drawings stopped appearing on Sirius' arm.
Sirius had told everyone that soulmates just weren't for him and that he felt he wanted to find love for himself. Of course, everyone believed him- what reason did they have not to? Everyone except for James that was, but Sirius couldn't remember a single time when James hadn't seen through his lies.
Benjy hadn't been the first to try to convince Sirius soulmates didn't matter; Sirius had been with a number of men, though the relationships always ended the same way. His boyfriends usually found their soulmate and, upon realizing how much they needed them, decided Sirius no longer mattered.
James had always been the one to drag Sirius out of his slumps in the days and often weeks after Sirius' many heartbreaks, but now it was the holidays, and James had been in Spain with Lily for the past three weeks. Sirius hadn't yet told him about Benjy, as he figured James would be too busy and besides, who would he be to ruin a perfectly good holiday?
Two weeks, six days, and seven hours had Sirius ordering his fifth pizza that week and drowning his sorrows in firewhiskey.
James never did understand why Sirius got so upset after break-ups anyway. It was alright for him after all, his soulmate hadn't kicked him out of her life completely. Yes, James and Lily were sickening, but at least he was happy.
Sirius took another swig from his bottle. Stupid James, pretending to empathize with poor, pathetic Sirius, whose own soulmate didn't even want him.
Two weeks, six days, and ten hours had an utterly intoxicated Sirius stumbling around his flat, shouting love ballads at the top of his voice, blissfully ignoring the bangs on the wall from the flat next door telling him to 'kindly', shut the fuck up.
But it was two weeks, six days, and sixteen hours after Sirius and Benjy's break-up, when a tired, jet-lagged James Potter stumbled into the flat to see his best mate, instead finding two arms and legs dangling out from under a blanket on the sofa, surrounded by pizza boxes, Chinese takeaway cartons, glass bottles and unwashed clothes. He could hear snores coming from under the blanket and yanked it off his sleeping friend unforgivingly in an attempt to wake him.
"Sirius, what the hell?" James exclaimed.
The no-longer sleeping Sirius winced and brought his hands up to his ears.
"Ow, James," he whined, pitifully. "Can't a man suffer from extreme heartbreak in peace?"
James' expression softened a little. "Benjy?" he asked, and Sirius nodded mournfully.
"He found his soulmate."
James sighed and rubbed his forehead.
"Sirius, I know you've said you don't want to be with your soulmate and all that nonsense, but I don't see why you can't just… I don't know, see how it goes? I hate seeing you like this."
Sirius frowned. "I told you, James, he doesn't want anything to do with me."
James shook his head and his face grew sterner. "If you say so. But this has got to stop happening, Siri."
Sirius watched as James spent the next twenty minutes clearing out his flat- throwing away the old takeaway containers, cleaning his surfaces, and throwing his clothes in the wash.
"Thanks, mate," Sirius said tiredly when James had finished. "I think I might go back to bed for a bit though."
James looked him over exasperatedly. "I think not. Exactly how long have you been lounging about in this flat?"
Sirius frowned. He didn't actually think he'd been out of his bed since the break-up, apart from to use the toilet or answer the door to collect his take away.
"Precisely two weeks, six days and…" He looked at his watch. "Seventeen hours," he said before he could stop himself.
James shook his head again. "Look at you, Sirius, you're a mess. Go take a shower- I'll make you breakfast, and then you will go outside and get fresh air, and you will meet new people and get over Benjy. Who knows, maybe you'll meet someone else who doesn't care about soulmates and you can skip off into the sunset together."
"Thanks, James. I don't know what I'd do without you," grinned Sirius.
James laughed. "You wouldn't have any friends and you'd still be drowning in pizza boxes. Go shower, it stinks to high heaven in here."
Promptly after eating James' 'nutritious' breakfast (one that consisted of a banana and a bowl of cornflakes), Sirius was shoved out his own flat with the command to get plenty of fresh air and exercise (honestly, who did James think he was, his mother?).
That was how Sirius ended up in a Muggle coffee shop called 'Starbucks' or something, puzzling over all the different drinks on the menu.
When he got to the front, he still hadn't spotted any signs of a butterbeer, so he went for the next best thing.
"Um, excuse me?" he asked the young man at the counter. He had shaggy blonde hair which he kept running his hand through and the most adorable amber eyes Sirius thought he had ever seen.
Not that he was looking or anything.
"What's the sugariest drink on your menu?"
The barista grinned. "That would probably be the Peppermint Mocha Frappuccino. Although, personally I'd go for a hot chocolate. Or a Caramel Macchiato. You look like a Caramel Macchiato kind of guy."
Sirius puzzled over how he could possibly resemble any beverage at all, but decidedly dismissed the question.
"I'll have that with soy milk then," he said, giving the barista his most winning smile.
A smirk flickered across the man's face, but he suppressed it quickly. "That'll be £2.70," he replied, business-like.
Thankfully, Sirius managed to count out the muggle money and didn't make a fool of himself in front of the adorable barista.
"Can I have a name for the order?"
The barista's jaw snapped open before he shut it hurriedly. He turned away from Sirius quickly and back to the queue.
"Next please," he said, and it almost sounded a little panicked.
It was then that Sirius caught sight of the man's name tag. 'Remus', it read.
Sirius stared and his mouth dropped open, mimicking Remus' previous expression. Remus wasn't exactly a common name, he thought, excitedly. Could it really be him? The same Remus? But remembering their last conversation, his face fell. He might have found his soulmate, but Remus didn't want him. Still, though- he had found his soulmate.
"Excuse me sir?" came a shaky voice from behind the counter. "Your coffee."
Sirius turned towards the man, who was biting his lip nervously.
Taking all his courage in both hands, Sirius said, "Remus, can we talk for a minute?"
Remus turned towards another man behind the counter, who nodded and held up his outstretched hand as if to say 'five minutes'.
A couple of seconds later, Remus was his side of the counter, and Sirius led them to a table with two chairs.
"Are you Remus Lupin?" he blurted out, and Remus chuckled.
"Straight to the point, I see. Yes, I am. And you're…" His voice became more thoughtful. "You're Sirius Black, aren't you?"
Sirius nodded sombrely. "Yes. I know you said… Well, you didn't want to be with me, but I was wondering if maybe… you'd give us a chance?"
Remus shook his head. "Oh no, it's not that I don't want to be with you. I mean, look at you," he gestured to him and Sirius blushed. "You're beautiful," Remus continued, very matter-of-factly. "It's just when you find out what I am, you won't want to be with me. And I wanted to spare myself the pain of that."
"Well, why don't you tell me 'what you are', so I can figure that out for myself?" Sirius asked, raising an eyebrow.
"Okay." Remus took a few deep breaths. "Well, the thing is... I'm a werewolf."
Sirius stared at him for a moment. "I'm not really sure what to say. I'm-"
"Disgusted?" Remus whispered, his fingers clutching the edge of the table. "Scared?"
Remus stared at him for a minute, before bursting into a fit of giggles. Giggles that made him look utterly adorable, or so Sirius thought
But suddenly Remus' laughter vanished and was replaced by a dark, almost sad, expression. "Sirius, I've just told you I'm a werewolf. Shouldn't you be running away or… I don't know, but you're totally underreacting."
Sirius shrugged. "Well, I think you're overreacting. Honestly, you just told me your biggest secret, so I told you mine."
"I knew you were lactose intolerant," Remus replied deadpan.
"What? No, you didn't!"
A grin split up Remus' serious expression. "You forget I'm a barista. What normal person would taint their Caramel Macchiato with soy milk unless they were lactose intolerant?"
Sirius took a sip of his coffee. "Tastes all right to me," he remarked. "Although not as good as butterbeer, I have to admit."
"You can't be serious! Caramel Macchiatos are like a gift from heaven."
Sirius grinned toothily. "But Remus, I'm always Sirius."
Remus shook his head at the lame attempt at a joke and looked back to the counter where the other employee was waving him over.
"Look, Sirius, I've got to go, it was great meeting you and all but-" he said, half rising from his chair.
Sirius knew it was now or never. "Go out with me?" he asked so loudly that half the people in the café turned their heads towards them.
For the second time that day, Remus was stuck gaping like a fish. "You still want to…?"
"Of course, I do, silly." Sirius grabbed Remus' hand. "You're my soulmate. I wouldn't give that up for anything."