A/N: This was actually conceived before 'Under the Willow' and I just returned to it rather recently. It's by no means finished, but I'm rather anxious to post it because I quite enjoy it and want to see what you think. If you don't like it, I won't be heartbroken though.
This is rated R for sexuality (what else?) and is SLASH. Please read at your own discretion.
ps. I do not own any of the very endearing characters, they are all property of Ms. JK Rowling.
If You Could Read My Mind
Remus Lupin had a fleeting thought of 'damn portkeys' before the ground rose to meet him as he fell face first down the last three cement stairs. Luckily, grass cushioned his fall and he escaped with minor bruises. His trunk, however, was not as fortunate. It had popped open with the fall and now his belongings were spread rather embarrassingly all over the pavement. He picked up his trousers and underwear while grumbling about stairs, trunks, portkeys, and other miscellaneous things not really worth grumbling over.
He had never particularly liked portkeys, but it was his only option, as he had missed the Hogwarts Express from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. It just so happened that the full moon was a couple days after school let out, and Dumbledore had arranged for Remus to stay for a couple days and then he had set up a portkey to take Remus from Hogwarts to Sirius' flat in London, where he now found himself picking his clothing off the cracked pavement. He wished the portkey hadn't transported him straight to the edge of the stairs outside Sirius' flat, but was reluctantly thankful for the portkey nonetheless.
For the first time, Remus wasn't be spending summer holidays with his parents. He had received an apprenticeship for the holidays working under one of the Ministry's Aurors, Elyse Delacroix. He had Dumbledore to thank for this. The Headmaster had written Remus an excellent reference letter that had helped convince the ministry not only that Remus was an excellent student, but also that his lycanthropy wouldn't be a problem. Unfortunately, this meant he would be spending the summer in London, not at his parent's home in Hampshire. At first Remus had fretted about finding a place to stay, and had almost refused the apprenticeship, but Sirius had at once offered his newly rented flat and Remus had of course accepted.
Now, Remus stared down at the small piece of paper in his hands. 321 Brumble St. Apt. 3, Rm. 4. It was in Sirius' nearly illegible, scribbled writing, but Remus could read it after six years of practice. He opened the heavy front door, and headed up the stairs, silently cursing whoever made the rule about not using magic outside school. His trunk clunked on every stair as he dragged it behind him. Out of patience and out of breath, he arrived at Sirius' door. Number Four. He knocked.
Inside, Sirius was reclining on the newly purchased orange corduroy pull-out sofa. He had bought it with Remus in mind, knowing that his werewolf friend was going to be spending the summer with him. A polite knock made Sirius cock his head, like the dog he sometimes transformed into. He bounded off the couch and to the front door (approximately four steps when running).
"Moony!" he shouted, a silly grin on his face. Remus returned his grin with his own wry smile, a smile Sirius knew meant that he was tired, and most likely annoyed. Nonetheless, Sirius embraced him quickly before grabbing his trunk with seemingly no effort.
"Nice place, Padfoot," Lupin nodded in appreciation. Although the flat was small, it had anything a couple of bachelors would need: a kitchen, bathroom, living room complete with telly and a bedroom. There was only one bedroom, but Remus had insisted that he sleep on the couch and Sirius stay in his bed. Sirius had reluctantly agreed, but had bought the pull-out couch as a consolation prize.
Sirius had tossed Remus' trunk beside the corduroy couch and was now reclining in the same spot he had been just moments before. Remus sat down beside him, his body sinking into the plush fabric.
"You dig?" Sirius asked, indicating the corduroy couch.
Remus nodded. He let his head rest back on the couch and closed his eyes briefly. Sirius shook him lightly with his left hand.
"I'm awake, I'm awake," he groaned.
"When does your apprenticeship thingie start?"
"Next week. Monday."
Sirius did some mental calculations. "Four days."
"Four days," Remus repeated.
"Great. Four days for us to run around London before you have to get serious."
"Sounds good. Do you mind terribly if I take a nap first?"
Sirius gave him a half smile and shook his head. His dark hair fell into his face. "No, go ahead Moony. I'll keep myself occupied."
Remus thought of a few choice comments he could reply with, but instead closed his eyes and stretched out on the comfortable sofa. Sirius watched him for a few minutes from across the room before Remus opened one eye and told him to stop staring. Sirius just grinned, but went into the kitchen nonetheless. He poked around and realized with embarrassment that he had forgotten to buy extra groceries for his guest. Grabbing his wallet from his nightstand, he went out of the flat, locking the door behind him.
Remus awoke to the smell of teriyaki stir fry coming from the kitchen. He got up slowly, bracing himself for the dizziness that usually accompanied getting up too fast, especially right after a full moon. He padded to the kitchen in his socks.
"Padfoot, you've outdone yourself," Remus remarked when he saw Sirius concentrating on his vegetarian stir fry.
"Good, you're up," Sirius said, ignoring the previous comment. He turned his gaze to Remus briefly and smiled at how his light brown hair fell into his eyes. He had forgotten how adorable Remus looked when he first got up.
"Plates?" Remus asked.
Sirius pointed to a cupboard while turning off the stove. He removed his apron and hung it haphazardly off of a cupboard. He grabbed a fork for himself and chop sticks for Remus.
"You remembered," Remus smiled as Sirius set down the chopsticks.
"Yeah, I have a weird memory," Sirius replied uneasily. What that really meant was that he tended to remember strange details about Remus that were really quite insignificant but important at the same time. For instance, the fact that Remus had recently become a vegetarian, or that he preferred eating stir fry with chopsticks. Sirius remembered the first time in the Great Hall he had seen Remus eating with chopsticks. He had stared as Remus gracefully ate his stir fry. He himself was having trouble managing with a fork, let alone chopsticks, but Remus had used chopsticks like second nature. This was one of the many details that stuck in Sirius' mind when it came to Remus.
They ate mainly in silence, with Sirius asking about the full moon, about Dumbledore and about everything else. Remus replied honestly, not delving into too much detail in true Remus Lupin style. As they were eating, there was a pecking on the side of the open window. Sirius got up and let in the tanned owl.
"Dumbledore," Sirius said when he saw Remus looking at him quizzically.
"Want to know if I got here all right?"
Sirius nodded, and grabbed a quill from behind his ear that Remus hadn't noticed earlier. Sirius scribbled a reply and gave it back to the owl. The owl took off and Sirius watched it briefly before returning to dinner.
"So, after dinner you and I should go to the pub down the street," Sirius suggested.
"Yeah," Remus agreed, "I feel like I could use a drink."
"Then drink we will," Sirius said with a grin.
A few hours later the seventeen year olds found themselves in the pub down the street. It was rather full for a Thursday night, but Remus and Sirius didn't mind. It made it easier for them to fit in amongst the muggles. Several shots later and Sirius was quite tipsy while Remus was positively smashed.
"You know," Sirius was saying, "We don't drink enough."
"Tha's true, Padfoot. We should drink more. Drink lots," Remus replied, using hand gestures to get the point across. He didn't look up when a dark haired woman sat down beside him. At least not until she placed her hand on his arm, causing him to turn towards her quite sharply.
"Hi there," she smiled.
"I'm Carissa," she told him, the smile still on her face.
"Remus. This is Sirius," Remus introduced, motioning to Sirius beside him at the bar.
Carissa giggled. "You have funny names."
Remus shrugged and retorted, "You do."
"You're cute. Want to buy me a drink?"
"No, we were jus' leaving. Sorry," Remus said standing up. This proved to be too much for the intoxicated werewolf as he almost fell over. Luckily Sirius reached out his arm and caught Remus before he fell over completely. Sirius stood up, more successfully than his friend, and pulled out a few bills. Remus went to do the same, but Sirius stopped him by placing a hand on his arm.
"I've got this one."
"No, i's alright," Remus slurred.
"No, no. I've got it," Padfoot grinned at his drunken friend.
"Okay, okay." Remus hastily put the money away and the two left, leaning on one another. Carissa watched them leave with a bit of a smile before she went back to her drink.
"I think I'm drunk." Remus giggled uncharacteristically while Sirius struggled with his keys.
"I think so too," he agreed. "You giggle when you're drunk."
Remus giggled again and Sirius laughed at him while he leaned on the door, prompting it to open.
"Okay, you sleep here." Sirius pointed towards the sofa.
Remus nodded and fumbled with the buttons on his shirt before giving up and collapsing on the sofa. Sirius was compelled to collapse alongside him, but forced himself to his own bed after grabbing a glass of water. A small trail of spilled water lead from the kitchen to his bedroom, a telltale sign of his inebriation. After downing the water in one gulp, he tore off his clothes and fell on the bed. His eyes closed as his head hit the pillow, and he fell asleep very shortly after.
The next few days followed the same itinerary. The boys slept in, got up and toured London (Sirius pointed out all the great sites to an enthralled Remus who had only been to London briefly in the past), had dinner, and then settled at the pub where they usually drank too much for their own good. Usually a few women tried to pick up either of them, but so far had been unsuccessful. Remus wasn't comfortable going home with a strange woman, and Sirius wasn't comfortable leaving his friend alone in a strange pub. Sirius didn't mind though, Remus was good company. Only James knew him better than Remus and as James was miles away, Sirius was determined to spend all the time he could with Remus before he started working.
Monday came too soon. Sirius chuckled as Remus fluttered about the room, making sure he had everything.
"So," Sirius said, looking at his watch, "It's one o'clock now. You're leaving in fifteen minutes?"
Remus nodded nervously.
"And you're home around ten?"
"Approximately. We're doing the evening shift. She said sometimes things go well and I may be home early. Sometimes things go badly and I may have to stay late. At least I'm not on the graveyard shift though."
"Yeah, that's true," Sirius said pensively. "Listen, I may be out when you get home, but just let yourself in and don't wait up."
Remus raised an eyebrow.
"I'm going to see Natasha, that girl we met last night," Sirius explained.
"Ahh. Well, you kids have fun," Remus grinned.
"You too. Good luck tonight." Sirius patted him on the back before Remus slipped out the door, closing it behind him.
Eight hours later, almost to the minute, Remus let himself in to his new home for the next few months. He tossed his shoes by the door and was just unbuttoning his shirt to take a shower when he heard a noise that sounded like a female voice. His eyebrows furrowed in confusion. He walked quietly down the hall and discerned that the female was in Sirius' room.
The door was opened enough for Remus to peek in and get quite an eyeful. Not only did he see who the voice belonged to, he saw her straddling his best friend, completely nude. Now, it wasn't that Remus was particularly nosy, or that he wanted to spy on his best friend, it was just that it's not every day that you see a beautiful naked woman in your flat. Or at least you don't if you're Remus Lupin.
The woman, who Remus could only assume was Natasha, rolled onto her back. Her long dark hair, almost the same colour as Sirius', fell across the pillow in thick curls. Remus felt the heat rising to his face and felt compelled to look away. As he averted his eyes, however, he averted them upwards and his gaze fell on Sirius.
Remus had seen Sirius naked on a number of occasions, it was unavoidable when one lived in a dormitory with four other boys. Seeing Sirius naked as he was changing clothes though, and seeing him naked as he made love to a woman, were two very different things. Remus watched the arch of his back change with his movement. He saw the way Sirius' bit his bottom lip with effort and the way he let his head roll back. Natasha had her legs wrapped around Sirius' slender waist, her small feet moving up and down with his thrusting. Their breathing was laboured, but almost harmonious and Remus felt hypnotized just listening to the sound of it. A loud expression of pleasure in the form of Natasha moaning brought Remus back down to reality and he quickly moved away from Sirius' door and into the bathroom across the hall.
His chest heaved as he replayed in his mind what he had just witnessed. He locked the door before taking off his clothes hastily and turning the shower to a colder setting. He was just getting in when there was a knock at the door.
"Yeah?" Remus called back. He tried to picture Sirius clothed on the other side of the door but all he could see was Sirius naked, despite his best efforts otherwise.
"I'm having a shower, I'll just be a minute," Remus replied quickly and got into the shower, pulling the curtain closed behind him. He showered quickly, as promised, and wrapped himself in his white bathrobe.
"I'm all done," he called through Sirius' door on his way to the living room.
There was a momentary pause, and then, "Okay."
Remus padded down the hall, barefoot and carrying his clothes. He changed into his pyjama bottoms in the far corner of the living room, out of sight from the hallway. As he was crawling under the covers on the pull-out couch, he heard Sirius and Natasha coming down the hall. Remus rolled over quickly and closed his eyes, feigning sleep. He heard murmured conversation and then the lock clicking as it slid into place.
The weight on the couch shifted as Sirius sat down on the couch beside Remus. Remus kept his eyes shut in an effort to keep up the façade of sleep.
"Oh, give it up. I know you're not sleeping," Sirius chuckled as he shoved Remus lightly.
"Well, if I was, I wouldn't be anymore," Remus groaned as he rolled over to face Sirius.
"You got home early," Sirius said, a little uneasily. "How was work?"
"It went well," Remus said, stifling a yawn. "How was Natasha? I mean, how did the date or whatever go?"
Remus was thankful only the kitchen light was on so that Sirius couldn't see the red creeping into his face at the thought of Natasha, and Sirius. Would these mental images ever stop shifting through his head?
"Oh, she's fine," Sirius shrugged. "We were supposed to go back to her place, but then we went out and she wanted to come back here."
"Ahh," Remus said. There was uncomfortable silence between them.
"Well, goodnight then," Sirius said quickly and rose from the bed.
"'Night," Remus replied and rolled over. He tried in vain to think of anything else except Sirius (Natasha had disappeared completely from the mental images). Eventually he fell into a restless sleep and woke the next morning to his alarm at eleven am.
Sirius was already awake and eating cereal at the counter. He was still in his bathrobe which hung lazily around his figure. The tie was slowly sliding out of its knot, threatening to come undone, as Remus noticed when Sirius stood to put the dishes in the sink. He blinked twice and proceeded to make up the couch.
"I'm sorry about last night," Sirius said awkwardly. "I hope we weren't too loud."
Remus shook his head. "It's your flat," he pointed out.
"Well, it's our flat for the summer," Sirius smiled. He then proceeded to curse himself silently for the previous comment. Our flat? Could you be any more obvious? Sirius let himself fall into a familiar daydream of himself and Remus sharing a flat, but more than that, sharing a bedroom. Sharing a bed.
Sirius turned his attention towards his breakfast dishes, but made the unfortunate (or perhaps fortunate, he reflected later), mistake of turning around as Remus was standing in his boxer shorts, deciding which pants to wear. Sirius tilted his head slightly as he studied Remus' figure. He was slender, but not overly thin. There were a couple of visible scars on his back, but most of them had disappeared due to Madam Pomfry's care. Sirius let his eyes travel down one of the longer scars that ran from halfway down Remus' back to somewhere under Remus' boxer shorts...
Remus turned suddenly, as if sensing someone watching him. There was a loud crash as Sirius dropped the bowl he had been drying.
"Are you all right?" Remus asked immediately. He hurried over to help Sirius pick up the broken bits of glass.
"Yeah, there's just a bit –"Sirius pulled out a shard of glass – "In my foot."
Remus frowned as he studied Sirius' wounded foot.
"Here, let me grab a bandage," Remus said as he went back to the living room. Sirius continued to pick up the glass carefully and tossed it in the rubbage bin. He shook his head, wondering what had got into him. Well, actually, he knew what had got into him. It had been there since last year. He had tried to shake it, tried to deny it, had even tried going out with other people, but the fact of the matter was that he had a crush on the rather sweet boy who had just returned with bandages.
Remus cleaned and bandaged Sirius' foot like someone who had had lots of practice bandaging wounds, which of course he had.
"There you go," he said as he patted Sirius' foot gently. "Now, whatever possessed you to drop a bowl?"
"Oh you know me. I'm just clumsy," Sirius shrugged. He noticed that Remus was still not dressed and forced himself to look away. At this rate, he would break all the dishes in the flat. He rested in one of the kitchen chairs and reclined his foot on the other while Remus dressed after deciding which pants he was going to wear.
"I'll see you tonight," Remus called as he made his way to the door.
Sirius watched him leave with a sigh. Another eight hours to kill until Remus would be home again.