Disclaimer: Remus, Sirius, James, Peter, and Lily are JKR's. Annie and all the others are mine. The words were invented by someone else too, but the order in which they appear is mine. Sothere.
"The Dog's Guide to Kissing a Girl" was originally published on FictionAlley on 11 January, 2004.
Remus needed more time.
He didn't know what he'd do with more time if he had it, but nevertheless he wished with all his might that the dance could be moved to, say, a week from now. He'd even settle for a day from now, so long as the stupid thing didn't start in fifteen minutes as it was supposed to.
Better yet, the dance could be cancelled altogether – a thought that made him smile for the first time all day. The dance would be cancelled, and he could just stay up here and not worry about—
"Moony!" The door to the fifth year boys' dormitory opened with a bang and Sirius Black strode in, snapping Remus out of his last-minute bout of wishful thinking. "Are you coming or what?" said Sirius. "It's almost seven. We've only got fourteen minutes to get downstairs and meet the girls, and everyone's already left except you, you lazy git!"
"I'm not lazy," countered Remus automatically, and in this particular case it was true. It certainly wasn't laziness that had kept Remus motionless on his bed for the past ten minutes, wishing and wishing that time could just slow down for once.
"Then what's the matter?" Sirius grinned. "Scared?"
Remus looked Sirius squarely in the eyes and said, "Yes."
"Hm," said Sirius, sobering a bit at the honest confession. "Well… see, think about it this way: what could go wrong?"
This was just about the worst thing that Sirius could have said, especially since Remus had spent most of the day making a mental list of things that could go wrong.
He'd come up with two hundred and seventy-three.
"Let's see," he said. "Annie could forget that I asked her to come to the dance with me. She could show up with someone else."
"Not going to happen," said Sirius confidently. "Annie has a very good memory, and there were witnesses to the event."
Remus thought for a moment and decided that Sirius was probably right. So he moved down the list. "I could spill something on her robes. Or on my robes."
"Easily avoided," said Sirius. "Don't eat or drink anything while you're there. From the looks of it, you probably couldn't keep anything down anyway."
"True," said Remus. "How about this: I could accidentally hex her."
"Then just don't bring your wand."
"I could step on her feet."
"Don't dance too close to her."
"I could blow up the entire school."
"Don't set anything on fire."
"She could find out that I'm a werewolf."
"Look, now you're just being ridiculous…."
"I could try to kiss her and she could say no."
Sirius opened his mouth to reply, but closed it again with a faintly puzzled expression on his face. He considered this possibility for a moment and then shrugged at his friend. "I don't know what to say about that one," he admitted with an unusual quietness in his voice. "You just can't ever tell with girls."
Remus narrowed his eyes, studying the other boy somewhat warily. "Aren't you the one who keeps saying that all you have to do is smile at a girl and she'll be all over you?"
Sirius looked decidedly sheepish. "Well…."
"Sirius, how many girls have you kissed?"
Looking more than a little alarmed, Sirius pushed his dark hair self-consciously away from his face. This was clearly not a question that he'd been expecting. Everyone assumed that because of his good looks, Sirius Black had had his way with practically every girl in the school, and this reputation had made him terribly popular in certain circles, a prime target for flirtation in others, and an object of loathing for those who thought themselves above such petty things.
Meanwhile, as Sirius loved to be the center of whatever kind of attention he could get, he played up his reputation to its fullest. That is, he usually did. Now, however, the uncharacteristically sheepish expression remained stuck on his face as he went slightly pink under Remus' gaze.
"Two," he mumbled.
If anything in the world had the power to make Remus feel better about the upcoming dance, that one word was it. Even though he himself had never kissed a girl at all, it was somehow comforting to know that Sirius was only two kisses ahead of him.
"Stop bloody grinning, will you?" said Sirius irritably. "Come on, Wormy and Prongs are waiting for us downstairs."
With that, Sirius turned and stalked out the door. Remus, feeling considerably more optimistic about things, followed him.
It was nearly ten o'clock, and over the course of the last three hours Remus had discovered that going to dances with girls – or at least this particular dance with this particular girl – wasn't really all that bad.
As was the case with most things, it was the waiting that had been the worst part. Ever since the previous week when he'd asked Annie to go to the dance with him, he'd been distinctly edgy and restless – much to the amusement of his three closest friends, of course. James' lack of nervousness over the past week was mainly because he didn't have to worry about impressing his crush, which in turn was mainly because his crush was going to the dance with an older Ravenclaw boy. Peter probably would have been nervous, but in his case excitement far outweighed nervousness since he couldn't wait to see what James and Sirius would do with the fireworks they'd purchased for the occasion. And Sirius wasn't nervous because Sirius was never nervous.
Remus wasn't usually nervous either, but in the past few days he'd discovered that the prospect of a date with Annie Ruben had the power to change that entirely. Actually, he'd been fairly suave (in his own opinion, anyway) up until three days ago, when she'd asked him if he wanted to be partners in their Potions lesson. He'd naturally agreed, but ever since he ended up spilling those few drops of their Shrinking Solution on her shoes, he hadn't been able to look her in the eye.
She must have known that the incident was still on his mind, because one of the first things she'd said to him tonight was that he shouldn't worry about shrinking her shoes, since they were now back to their normal size and she'd forgot all about it.
Remus didn't quite see the logic in this; if she'd forgot about it, then how could she have brought it up?
But after a moment of contemplation, he decided that it didn't really matter. What mattered was that she was smiling at him and he'd better hurry up and find somewhere to sit down or else he'd just end up slipping in a puddle of his own drool, which would likely be very embarrassing.
They got a table with Sirius and his date Marianne, Annie's friend Trilby and her date Bobby, and a couple of Trilby's other friends – and that was where Remus first discovered that talking to girls wasn't as hard as it looked. You could talk to them just about as easily as you could talk to boys, so long as you didn't start chattering about how pretty other girls were.
Much to his surprise, Remus found that he and Annie actually had a lot to talk about, and that was what made the evening go by so quickly. They talked while they danced, although those conversations usually involved one of them apologizing for stepping on the feet of the other. They talked in between dancing with other people, especially after Remus took Lily Evans rather clumsily around the floor and ended up having to explain the looks of barely-concealed wrath that James kept shooting him. They talked over a slice of cake and a cup of pumpkin juice, since Remus decided that he felt confident enough not to spill anything on anyone's robes. They talked as the first of James and Sirius' Filibuster fireworks went off, mainly about how loud the noise was and how they couldn't hear each other.
They talked as the last dance was coming to a close and everyone was slowly trickling out of the Great Hall, when Remus saw Sirius and Marianne slip quietly out of the hall and asked Annie what she thought about not going back to Gryffindor Tower just yet.
"I think that's a great idea," she said in response, a mischievous smile creeping across her face.
And that was how Remus Lupin and Anastasia Ruben came to be standing face to face in the shadow of a suit of armor on the second floor.
"Interesting choice of location," said Annie, clearly trying not to laugh.
"Well, I didn't want to go up to the Astronomy Tower," he explained. "Everyone goes up there to… well, that is… there'd be people watching us."
"Watching us do what?" she inquired innocently.
"Er," he said.
She grinned, evidently taking pity on him. "Oh come on, I was just kidding! I know what people do up there… and I expect your friend Sirius is up there snogging poor Marianne Pringle till she can't breathe, right?"
Remus let out a breath of relief. "Probably," he agreed. "They were probably the first ones there!"
Annie rolled her eyes dramatically. "I wouldn't doubt it." She paused, nervously pushing a lock of brown hair behind her ear, and looked up at Remus again. "Listen, Remus… I'm really glad you didn't want to go to the Astronomy Tower. I mean, it's like you said – everyone goes there. And I don't think you're like everyone else, you know? You're sort of… I don't know… I mean I like you."
"Really?" said Remus, possibly a little too quickly. "I mean… that is, I like you too. Quite a lot, actually." He felt his heart beating faster, and he tried to remember the advice that Sirius had given him just the day before. What were you supposed to say to a girl once you got her alone like this?
"I think you're awfully pretty," he said, the words all tumbling over each other as if they were competing to see which one could get out of his mouth the fastest. But her eyes seemed to light up, which inspired Remus to go on. "I like your freckles," he continued, "and I like how your hair isn't too long, and your robes are nice, and… and your glasses are pretty, and—"
"My glasses?" she repeated, a look of extreme bewilderment on her face.
"The frames are pretty," he clarified. "They're always shiny, and they're gold, which is good. I like gold so much more than silver. And you're always pushing them up, and it's…."
He trailed off mid-sentence, suddenly aware that her look of bewilderment had changed into one of perplexed annoyance. "Er," he faltered. "Should I not have said that?"
They stared at each other for several long moments, Annie shaking her head slowly back and forth, and Remus wondering desperately why she didn't just answer his question. "Never mind what you should have said," she sighed, finally breaking the silence, and she looked him right in the eye with a very different look than she'd had before. "I just don't want to be kissed by a boy who thinks my glasses are pretty."
Remus' face fell. That was exactly what he'd been afraid of. He nodded slowly at her, making up his mind to try and retain some semblance of dignity before he sought Sirius out and hexed him till he cried for mercy. Advice indeed. "Just go on and on about how pretty she is," Sirius had said. No wonder he'd only ever got two kisses.
"Well," he said, trying to keep his voice as even as possible, "can I at least walk you back to the common room?"
Despite the strange look she gave him, she ended up consenting. They walked side by side in complete silence till they reached the portrait of the Fat Lady, by which time the lack of conversation had brought back all of the nervousness that Remus had been feeling before the dance had started. "Excuse me," said Remus to the Fat Lady, who was napping.
Blearily she opened her eyes. "What is it?"
"Ursa Minor," he replied.
"Hm? Oh yes," she murmured, yawning as she swung the portrait open. But she seemed to have fallen asleep again mid-swing, because the portrait only opened a crack, which didn't leave enough room to climb through.
Letting out a softly aggravated sigh, Annie stepped in front of Remus and grabbed the edge of the portrait's frame, getting ready to pull it open the rest of the way. But a sudden "Wait!" from Remus froze her before she could do so.
"Shh," said Remus. "Listen." They leaned closer to the portrait-hole – there were a couple of people talking very loudly inside.
"…and it was so weird, not at all like I thought it would be. It was like she was trying to eat my tongue! And she kept biting my lip, and I think it's bruised…."
"Who's that?" Annie whispered, her sudden smile indicating that she found this as funny as Remus did.
"It's Peter!" he whispered back. "He must have kissed Kitty Harris tonight!" Annie snickered.
"At least you got a kiss – me and Padfoot didn't even come close!"
"Yeah, she called me an arrogant prat and ran off with her stupid Hufflepuff friends."
"Marcie said she didn't want to kiss me just because I tried to kiss Lily earlier! How stupid is that?"
"Sirius Black didn't get a kiss?" said Annie incredulously. Remus nodded, equally amazed by the revelation. Suddenly she grabbed his hand, pulling the portrait fully open with the other. "Come on," she said.
When they stepped through and into the common room, Remus found that it was entirely empty save for his three friends and a pair of second year girls a little ways away, who were trying unsuccessfully to look as though they hadn't been eavesdropping. He also found that all eyes were suddenly on him and Annie… and that she seemed not to notice at all.
In fact, she suddenly seemed to notice nothing but Remus. She looped her arms around his neck, pulling him awfully close, and she smiled a rather wicked sort of smile. "I had a lovely time tonight, Remus dear," she said in a voice that was entirely too loud – and that was when he realized exactly what she was doing. "I only hope," she continued, "that we can do this again soon. Very soon."
And before he knew it, her lips were inching closer and closer to his, pressing up against his mouth in a very awkward stage-kiss, and pulling away. "There," she said. "And now… I must bid you goodnight. And farewell. And adieu. I long already for tomorrow's Transfiguration lesson, when I shall look upon your face again."
With that, she turned on her heel and strode toward the staircase that led to the girls' dormitories. Remus looked over at his friends – they all looked as dumbfounded as he felt. He looked back at Annie, whose walk had suddenly developed a kind of impudent swagger. He took a deep breath and went after her.
"Annie," he said in a breathless whisper.
She turned around, the wicked smile still on her face. "Couldn't wait till Transfiguration, hm?"
"Don't talk so loud," he said.
"Well, what is it?" she asked, lowering her voice to a whisper that matched his.
"Annie," he began, and then shook his head and began again. "Annie, I meant it when I said I liked you. And I… well, I don't know why I said all that stupid stuff about your glasses, but you know how you said you didn't want me to kiss you because I was saying dumb things?"
"Well, I also don't want you to kiss me just to make my friends feel bad," he said.
"Oh," she said with a smile that faltered between wicked and slightly sheepish. "I'm sorry. You should have said something."
"Can I say something now?"
"You just did."
"Then can I say something else?"
She must have finally sensed that he was being completely serious, because she simply nodded, a faintly worried look on her face.
Remus looked quickly down at the floor and then back up at her. "I just wanted to tell you that I think you're pretty." She furrowed her brow in annoyance, but he continued before she could say anything. "I think you're pretty, and you're so much fun to talk with, and I had a really nice time at the dance with you tonight, and I love it when you laugh, and… and you're the first girl I've ever really liked."
"Wow," said Annie, her face softening into a smile. Even her eyes were smiling behind her glasses.
"Can I kiss you?" whispered Remus earnestly, suddenly very aware of his heart fluttering in his chest.
A hint of a nod was all that he needed. Before he could lose his nerve, he pressed his mouth against hers in a kiss – not a loud fake kiss like the one of only a moment ago, but a real kiss. He was suddenly conscious of the very strange sensation of sucking at Annie's top lip, but he relaxed when he realized that she was sucking at his bottom lip, and it felt kind of good, and that was probably what was supposed to be happening.
If it was, he decided, he should make a habit of kissing girls more often. This was actually quite enjoyable, and not just because James and Sirius would probably be jealous, and—
Remus pulled away abruptly when he realized that his friends were almost certainly watching him. But Annie, whose cheeks were now an attractive shade of pink, either hadn't thought of the fact that they were being watched… or didn't care. Probably the latter.
So Remus decided that he didn't care either. He smiled at Annie, who smiled back. All of her earlier melodramatics were gone, and she said in a soft voice, "I like you too." And she ran up the stairs.
Slowly Remus turned back to face his friends, who were indeed watching with their mouths hanging unabashedly open. Despite his sudden urge to act as though nothing had happened, Remus grinned. And he kept on grinning just because he couldn't help it.
"Wow," said James as Remus came over to sit down with them.
"Yeah," said Sirius, sounding ever so slightly disgruntled.
"Nice going, mate!" said Peter, the only one of the three who looked genuinely pleased.
Remus said the first thing that came to his mind: "She said she likes me."
"Mm," mumbled Sirius.
"She said it twice!"
"Oh for Merlin's sake, Moony, will you stop bragging?"
Peter hit Sirius with a nearby sofa cushion.
"And she kissed me back, and she even looked happy about it afterwards!"
Sirius took the sofa cushion and threw it at Remus' head.
"And you know, Padfoot," said Remus thoughtfully, "your advice about how to get girls to kiss you? It doesn't really work."
Sirius looked at him, more than a little perplexed. "And I suppose you're the expert now?"
Settling the cushion in his lap so that he could rest his elbows on it, Remus said, "Maybe. Maybe I should give you some advice, and that way you could get to kiss more than two girls!"
"Two?" repeated James and Peter in astonishment.
Sirius looked wildly around for something else to throw at Remus, but settled for tackling him instead.
Remus, as usual, won.
Author's Note: This was intended to be a one-shot story, meaning that there will be no further updates. However, if you enjoyed it enough to be interested in reading more along these lines, please click on my author name and check out "The Dog's Guide to Getting a Date," another fic of mine which takes place directly before "The Dog's Guide to Kissing a Girl." Thanks for reading, and please don't forget to review!