Remus Lupin did not like Valentine's Day.
It wasn't that he had anything personal against it – as days went it was nice enough. Most of the Valentine's Days that he'd experienced had been lovely brisk February days, perfect for walks around the grounds, which turned his cheeks and nose red and made him smile with the simple joy of exercise.
So no, really, Remus quite liked the fourteenth of February.
What he did not like, nay, what he hated about Valentine's Day was the behavior that came with it. People being soppy and fawning over each other and not being able to go anywhere without walking into at least one romantic couple embroiled in something that was definitely not suitable for the eyes of the lower years. Plus, there were the added horrors of the hideous amounts of pink and frills and cards and roses. Especially the cards and roses.
It wasn't that Remus was bitter because he'd never received a Valentine. This was actually something he was extremely thankful for. He, personally, couldn't think of anything more embarrassing than having a red rose thrust upon him in the morning and being forced to carry it around all day because he had nowhere to put it and everyone would be able to see it and they would giggle and speculate and ask horribly prying questions...
Don't get him wrong – he had a lot of respect for that St Valentine bloke he'd read about in Muggle Studies. Marrying people in secret - very kind of him. Sound like an alright chap. It was just that he couldn't stand the 'celebration' that had sprung from it.
The only thing that got him through the day was his traditional walk with Sirius. Every Valentine's Day – Moon permitting – they would meet at the main entrance of the school – at four on weekdays, just after lessons finished, or at two should the day fall on a weekend – and they would yomp across the grounds for a couple of hours. Sirius would rant about how after breakfast James' conversational skills rapidly deteriorated until he was only about to talk about Lily sodding Evans and Remus would rant on how stupid and commercialist and sickening the whole day was and what would bloody St Valentine do if he could see what he had started anyway?
And once they had ranted, they would be able to chat amiably while they wandered aimlessly until it was time to go back to school before they lost various body parts such as fingers and noses through severe frostbite.
Remus Lupin did not like Valentine's Day. However, he had to admit that it had it's good points.
Sirius had it all planned out. It would be perfect.
Sirius knew a lot of things – at least half of them had no bearing at all on real life and those were, unfortunately, the things he best remembered – but the other half could be extremely useful.
For instance, he knew that James should never be allowed to eat chocolate bars for breakfast, he knew that Peter tending to start vibrating when he was terribly excited about something and he knew that he, Sirius Black, pureblood, oldest son and heir to the Black fortune ((well, he'd been disowned, but he'd disowned them back and the bit about him being the oldest son was still true)) was in love with Remus Lupin, werewolf, half-blood and heir to not a whole lot.
Sirius knew a lot about Remus.
He knew that Remus only ever ate cereal if the bowl was near overflowing because he'd be hungry all morning otherwise. He knew that Remus liked nothing better than curling up with a book by the fire when it was cold outside, that he would only ever turn down chocolate when he was seriously ill, that he didn't like mashed potatoes but loved parsnips and that he was almost as bad at chess as Sirius was.
The most important thing, at least at the moment, that he knew was that, despite it all, Remus quite liked romance. Although, Remus had pointed out to Sirius when they'd been discussing it one evening, I only like the well-done kind. Most of it is terrible stuff. Makes me want to vomit. But the truly well-done stuff? The stuff that's only done in private, so you only know about it from films or books? That's nice.
However, Sirius also knew that Remus' paranoia for thinking that everything he did was being watched would greatly outweigh any appreciation for the gesture should an attempt be made to give him a Valentine in public. Fortunately for Sirius, Remus did not consider James, Peter and Sirius public. And that was where Sirius' marvelous plan began to build up.
He would place a bunch of roses on the werewolf's bedside table; they would be the first thing Remus saw when he got out of bed. It was perfect.
He had already planned what he was going to write on the card:
Happy Valentine's Day
The 'P' was to give Remus something to ponder over. Sirius knew he liked a good puzzle from time-to-time. And then, if Remus hadn't worked it out in time for their walk, Sirius would tell him, then seduce him and they would live Happily Ever After.
If Remus had worked it out, then he would have had plenty of time to realize that of course he reciprocated Sirius' feelings and couldn't possibly live without him and they would seduce each other and snog a lot and live Happily Ever After.
It was perfect – like all of Sirius' plans.
This would be a Valentine's Day to remember.
Upon the morning of the Fourteenth of February, Remus Lupin gave a tremendous yawn and rolled onto his side, scrubbing the sleep out of his eyes as he blinked blearily at the curtains in front of him. He didn't know exactly what time it was, but he was positive it was too early for sane people to be awake. He didn't particularly want to be up himself, because it was so cold outside and his bed was so warm and comfy, but he knew that the only way he was going to get a peaceful breakfast would be if he went down early.
He stretched lazily and kicked back the covers, sitting up and pulling back the curtains like he usually did. Breaking his usual routine, he then proceeded to catch sight of the item beside his bed and froze in horror.
Sitting on his bedside table, as if it had every right in the world to be there, was the biggest bouquet of roses he had ever seen.
For a moment he forgot how to breathe, so shocked was he. Why on Earth were there roses by his bed? Who would want to give him roses? Normally people only gave them to James or -
They must be for Sirius, and whoever had delivered them had gotten the wrong bed - theirs were next to each other, it was pretty easy to get confused - Sirius had ended up in Remus' bed by mistake often enough.
Feeling a bit steadier now he was in familiar territory, Remus moved the roses carefully onto Sirius' bedside table, careful to position them so that the vase they were in wouldn't tip over and cause a mess. He surveyed his worked in a satisfied manner for a moment, experiencing a vague pang of something he couldn't identify as he looked at the blooms, before he got dressed and headed down for breakfast, his world the right way up once more.
Sirius woke up and, in a fit of out-of-character glee ((out of character because it usually took Sirius a good two hours to wake up fully enough to appreciate such delicate nuances of the human existence as emotions)), grinned up at the canopy above his head. Today was the day. By now, Remus would be down at breakfast, pondering over the identity of 'P'. In a few minutes, Sirius would join him, looking even more gorgeous than usual, and would be able to grin knowingly as Remus muttered his thoughts aloud, trying to puzzle it out.
He wouldn't put it past Remus to have figured it out by the time two o'clock rolled around. He knew he'd be on tenterhooks all day, trying to guess whether Remus had guessed.
He pushed back the bedcovers and sat up, intending to head downstairs and spend some time with Remus before Peter and James woke up.
He was just about to start humming as he tugged the curtains open, when he froze and whatever note had been about to escape withered and died. He felt his heart leap up into this throat, choking him and making his eyes sting, before tumbling down to the pit of his stomach and shattering into a million pieces. A sudden wave of nausea passed over him and he had to grab at the bedpost to steady himself as he swayed on the spot. He couldn't breathe.
He'd never expected Remus to work it out this quickly.
Sirius stood, somewhat dazed, and peered down at the roses on his bedside cabinet.
"Well...bugger," he whispered miserably, his voice tight. He located the card among the flowers - Remus had put it back where Sirius had left it. Obviously he wanted to pretend he'd never read it. "Bugger."
God, how arrogant was he? He hadn't even considered that Remus might not want him, that Remus might not even be gay. He was the poster-child for Egotism and it made him feel even sicker. Had he really thought that Remus' sexual preferences wouldn't be an issue if Sirius asked him out? Had he honestly believed that Remus would feel honored and flattered and roll over like a little puppy and let Sirius have his wicked way with him?
Merlin, if he was that arrogant all the time, it was no wonder Remus didn't want anything to do with him.
Sirius crumpled the card up into a ball in his hand and swallowed hard. Well. That was that then. A clean rejection. Quick and neat. And at least he'd tried, so he couldn't regret anything. He wouldn't live the rest of his life not knowing.
There was the sound of movement behind him.
"Woah!" said James. "That's a lotta roses! Who're they from?"
"I don't know," Sirius lied, somewhat shortly. "There wasn't a card."
James came up next to him and peered curiously at the flowers, looking ridiculous with his glasses perched on the end of his nose.
"Think they're from that Ravenclaw bird that's been eyeing you up?"
"No," Sirius snapped. "And I don't care. It doesn't matter." He strode into the dorm bathroom, slamming the door behind him.
Standing under the hot spray of the shower, hands pressed firmly against the tiled wall, head tilted downwards, Sirius watched the water drip off the end of his nose as he thought about his situation, his mind moving far faster than it was used to at this time in the morning.
It was no big deal. So Remus had rejected him. So what? There was no need for him to start acting like one of those people who sang those depressing Muggle songs about how the world was going to end because they had been rejected. Sirius always called the people who sang them cop-outs. And they were. Complaining that nothing was worth doing any more because they'd been snubbed. He'd bet that they hadn't tried and were just taking the easy way out and milking their misery for as long as they could.
Sirius Black was many things, but he was not a cop-out.
He had pride - that was the one thing his upbringing had been good for. He knew his own worth.
Remus didn't want him. So what? Que cera, cera. Life goes on.
And if Remus Lupin could live without Sirius Black, then Sirius Black could certainly live without Remus Lupin.
Remus looked up from his huge bowl of cornflakes as Sirius sat down opposite him, his long black hair loose and slightly damp.
"Morning Sirius!" he said cheerily. "Nice shower?"
Sirius paused and stared at him for a moment, visibly surprised, before carrying on loading up his plate.
"It was alright," he said slowly, frowning slightly. "A shower's a shower."
"Are you two getting philosophical about washing again?" James grumbled, plopping down next to Sirius and reaching for a slice of toast. "I do wish you would stop that. It's not the sort of thing a man wants to hear at breakfast."
Sirius grunted, absorbed in his breakfast, but Remus gave James a small grin.
"We'll try our best James. Sorry."
Sirius was somewhat shocked when he appeared for breakfast and Remus spoke to him as though nothing was different. It didn't take him long to regain his mental footing though, all things considered, and he congratulated himself on his quick recovery. If Remus wanted to pretend Sirius had never sent him a Valentine, then Sirius would follow his lead.
Of course, then that wanker James had to come down and had to make Remus give that little half-grin that quirked up the corners of his mouth and made Sirius ache inside. Some best friend he was. Sirius would have to thump him for that.
Peter arrived not long after James, seating himself beside Remus and they sat in silence until the mail arrived, bringing with it small mountains of cards for James and himself, and even a few for Peter, but as usual, none for Remus.
Sirius scowled briefly at his cards, suddenly realizing the reason he was so arrogant. He wished the cards in front of him to hell, and toyed with the idea of not opening them, but his natural curiosity and the fact that he was supposed to be acting normal quickly overturned that intention and he made short work of the envelopes, scanning each message briefly before tossing the cards carelessly to the table, feeling unusually lethargic. Thank Merlin it was Saturday. If anyone had tried to make him work today, it would have been just plain cruel.
Sirius left the Great Hall immediately he finished his breakfast, but Remus lingered for a little while, toying thoughtfully with the remains of his egg.
Sirius had scowled at his Valentine's cards. Sirius had never scowled at his cards before. He had always laughed and gloated and compared the size of his pile with James' and was generally in his element. And then he always hung around in the Great Hall for a little while, flirting with all the girls, before going wherever he needed to go, flirting all the way.
Sirius hadn't looked like flirting was at the front of his mind when he left the table.
Sighing and pushing his plate away from him, Remus stood. He could always ask later when they went for their walk.
At the moment, Remus had some large-scale hiding to do.