The hallway smelled of rotting onions and for the first time since he had arrived two weeks ago, Remus Lupin wished he was at home. He was standing outside of number four and was as out of breath as he had been that first day, only on that first day it had been because he was lugging two heavy suitcases up the stairs. He turned his key in the lock and as the door opened, sound filtered out in pieces.
"- bloody obvious whose name you called out!"
"Cassandra, please! It's not like that!" Sirius shouted back. Remus' gaze darted first to Sirius coming out of the hallway shirtless, still buttoning his pants, and the young brunette who was flushed (although with anger or something else, Remus couldn't tell) in front of him, looking quite dishevelled as if she had got dressed in a hurry. Cassandra looked at Remus for a moment and then turned back to Sirius.
"If you ever get this sorted out, give me a call," she said coolly before stepping past Remus into the hallway.
"Where the hell have you been? It's one in the bloody morning!" Sirius exclaimed once he noticed Remus in the doorway.
"What was that about?" Remus asked, his brow furrowed. He didn't particularly want to talk about where he had been or what he had been doing. His entire body ached.
"It's not important," Sirius said as he crossed through the kitchen towards Remus. "Where have you been?" he asked again.
Remus sighed and felt the weight of the world rest upon him. "We got attacked tonight."
"You what? Here, sit down," Sirius said motioning to the now familiar chesterfield.
"We were attacked. Six Death Eaters."
He slumped down on the orange corduroy sofa, wincing slightly.
"Are you all right?" Sirius asked as he sat down beside him, his grey eyes focused entirely on Remus.
"I got hit. It was my fault," Remus said quietly, voicing the concern that had been running through his mind since the attack.
"It wasn't your fault," Sirius contradicted immediately. "What did you get hit with?"
"It was my fault. There were two of them firing spells at once. I only had time to block one of them. I should have blocked both," Remus finished with a defeated sigh. "I don't know what the hex was. It felt like all the energy was drained from me immediately. It was… strange. I went to St. Mungo's and they were able to restore some of my energy, but I still feel all achy like I've run a marathon or something. It feels like the morning after a full moon."
"What about Elyse?" Sirius asked, referring to the auror Remus was interning with.
"She was able to take care of the others after I got hit. Before I got hit I did manage to take out two on my own though," Remus said with a half smile.
Remus shrugged. "Could you just put on tea, please?"
"Yeah, of course," Sirius replied and immediately sprang into action. Remus let his eyes droop down. He didn't realize he had fallen asleep until he was being lightly shaken awake.
"Here, have some tea," Sirius said gently and held out a mug.
Remus groaned as he sat up, causing Sirius to furrow his brow in concern. "Did they give you anything to take?"
"There's a potion in my bag, if you could just…"
Sirius set down his tea and pulled out the vial of translucent violet liquid and eyed it suspiciously. He tried reading the label, but it was all in mediwizard shorthand which was as good as Greek to him. He managed to decipher that Remus had to take it twice a day. He uncorked it and sniffed it gingerly. It smelled like alcohol and something sweet that Sirius couldn't quite put his finger on.
"Do you want to take it now?" Sirius asked, putting the cork back on.
Remus shook his head. "I just want to go to sleep. It's one in the morning."
"I know… I was worried," Sirius admitted as he cradled his mug. "Just now, before you came home, I said your name instead of Cassandra's while we were…," he let his thought trail off, and gave a nervous laugh. He suddenly looked extremely embarrassed. Remus chuckled softly.
"Is that why she left in a hurry?"
"Yeah. She thought I would rather be with you. Which isn't true," Sirius added hurriedly. "I mean, you're great, but there's some things you need a woman for."
Remus nodded distractedly. He had this strange sinking feeling in his stomach and had suspicions that it wasn't just from what happened to him tonight, but also what Sirius had been doing in his absence.
"Do you ever plan on settling down?" Remus asked him as he curled and uncurled his fingers around his mug.
Sirius looked up from his tea. "I suppose, someday. Why?"
Remus shrugged half heartedly. "I just see you with all these birds and it seems like none of them are really what you're looking for."
"Christ, Moony. I'm only seventeen. All I'm looking for right now is a good shag," Sirius replied, looking rather affronted.
"Right," Remus muttered. "I should get some sleep."
"Oh. Right," Sirius said, getting up from the couch. He paused and Remus looked up at him expectantly, but nothing came except a quiet 'Good night'.
Remus lay on his back after Sirius had left the room, his eyes closed but his mind was wide awake. He hated that he cared so much about Sirius and who he slept (or didn't sleep) with. He almost wished that things had never changed between them. The easiness between them seemed to be replaced with double guessing and wanting things that would never transpire.
He wanted Sirius. He could admit that now to himself in the safety of his own mind. He whispered it into the darkness to try it out on his tongue. The words fell to an empty room and sounded foreign to his ears. The strangeness of wanting his best friend was not entirely unwanted, however. He suppose he did enjoy having an object of affection over which his thoughts could linger. He enjoyed the occasional burst of butterflies in his stomach and of course morning wanks in the shower were made more worthwhile when he had Sirius to think about.
Still, it hurt. As much as Remus busied himself with work, Sirius' companions did not escape his notice. They weren't particularly numerous and rarely stayed for breakfast, but just the thought that they got to share something more intimate than he would ever be privilege to made Remus' insides ache. When they left and never returned, Remus wondered if they knew what they were leaving behind. They thought of Sirius as a cute one night stand. Remus thought of Sirius as… If he was perfectly honest with himself, which he usually was, he thought of Sirius as the one who knew him best. Even after the prank, he thought of Sirius as the one he trusted more than anyone except perhaps his parents or Dumbledore.
He knew from past experience that when he fell for someone, he fell hard. He also knew that when he fell, it was brief. A couple weeks at most. Well, it had been a couple weeks he realized and his feelings were not fading. If anything they were getting stronger and it frightened him. He had never fallen for someone that he knew so well before. The girls that had captured his interest in the past were acquaintances at the most; girls he knew from a class or two. In his mind he made up the details he lacked to finish his version of the girl he was fantasising about. With Sirius, there were no details to make up. He knew all the details of Sirius' life, and yet that didn't deter him. He wanted Sirius for who he was, not who he thought he could be.
Remus rolled over gingerly on the sofa. He tried to avert his thoughts to anything but Sirius and the attack, but in the end he would rather think about Sirius than what happened tonight and so he fell asleep with the image of Sirius burning in his mind.
His first thought upon waking was Moony. Sirius quickly pulled on a housecoat and slipped down the hall into the living room where Remus was sleeping. There were quiet mutterings coming from the couch and Sirius smiled as he walked over to sit on the end of the pull-out couch.
Remus didn't wake when he sat down and so he just sat and watched him sleep for a few moments. He reached out a hand tentatively, his eyes on Remus the entire time, to touch Remus' leg nearest to him. When Remus still didn't wake, Sirius ran his fingers lightly up and down his calf, the soft hairs tickling his fingers. A small tingle of excitement ran up and down his spine, making him shiver involuntarily.
His thoughts drifted to last night. He blushed when he remembered calling Remus' name while climaxing and his stuttered explanation that he and Cassandra both knew was a lie. He let out a soft sigh. He had to do something about this… this crush. He thought that just being with women would be enough to take his mind off Remus, but it hadn't worked so far. His thoughts would go to Remus at the most inappropriate of moments, like during sex when he wished it was Remus moaning underneath him instead of an anonymous woman.
Remus gave a soft moan as if on cue. Sirius frowned slightly and rummaged through Remus' bag to find the potion from last night. He debated waking Remus, it was noon after all, but decided against it. He should sleep in today instead of going into work, Sirius reasoned. He hoped Remus agreed with him once he woke up. Remus was always determined not to miss too much class after the full moon and Sirius knew he would be the same way when he woke up after the attack.
The Attack. The words capitalised themselves in his mind. He didn't want to admit it, but he had been more worried about Remus last night then he had let on. So worried in fact that Cassandra had had to coax him into sex. That just didn't happen when you were Sirius Black. Now to see Remus sleeping peacefully beside him, Sirius' insides swelled with a strange emotion that he couldn't really pinpoint.
He set the potion down on the floor beside the couch and carefully climbed onto the makeshift bed. He stretched out so he was facing Remus, mere inches separating them. Oh how he ached to touch him, then. It took every bit of self control he had ever possessed not to kiss Remus while he slept soundly. His resolve strengthened, Sirius was quite content to lie there watching Remus sleep. That is, he was content to watch him sleep until Remus let out a small moan. Sirius watched as his self control dissolved, leaving him inches away from a vulnerable sleeping man.
'This is so wrong,' he groaned in his mind. His body begged to differ. He very carefully budged forward slightly. His breath hitched and his heartbeat quickened when Remus mumbled something incomprehensible, but soon he was sleeping soundly again and Sirius relaxed. He licked his lips and brushed his lips very gently against Remus'. He quickly moved back to where he was before and watched Remus' reaction. He didn't stir, nor did he wake. Sirius trembled with need but he didn't dare risk kissing Remus again. It would be hard to explain how he came to have his lips pressed against Remus'.
After watching him sleep for a bit more, Sirius decided he needed a shower; a cold one.
When he finished, Remus was awake and staring at the ceiling.
"Moony?" he asked, uncertainly.
Remus turned towards him with a weary smile. "G'Morning."
"It's afternoon," Sirius replied with a half-smile.
"I know. Wish you would have waken me."
"You needed rest."
Remus didn't reply but climbed slowly off the pull-out couch.
"Do you want me to measure out your potion for you?" Sirius asked, standing hesitantly near the door. Almost every instinct in his body was crying for him to take this weary boy, almost man, in his arms and look after him. Almost every instinct except a poignant, tangy fear that he couldn't ignore. He stayed near the door and watched Remus' motions.
"I can do it," Remus replied and rummaged in his bag.
"Did you want to owl your parents?"
"God no," Remus said in one breathy whisper. "They worry enough as it is. If they knew about this I'd be on the first train back home."
"Can I owl James and Wormtail?"
Remus shrugged. "Do what you like."
"I thought I would invite them over some weekend."
"That would be nice," Remus replied, still preoccupied with finding his potion.
"Okay," Sirius replied and wandered into his room to find some parchment.
He scribbled down a brief summary of yesterday's events onto two pieces of parchment. As a PS he added, 'Let me know when you're coming to visit,' hoping they would make it soon. It wasn't that he wasn't enjoying have Remus about, it was just that it could get a little overwhelming sometimes and he missed having Prongs and Wormtail about to balance his attention. He attached the parchment to his own rarely used, but never forgotten, owl and watched as it took off into the London rain and faded into sight.