Of Sex and Cigarettes
He smelled it at soon as he opened the door: cigarette smoke. It wasn't that it was strong or particularly unpleasant, but it immediately conjured memories that Remus would rather forget. He immediately closed the door and went back down to the common room from whence he had come, short of breath.
"Something wrong, Moony?" Peter asked from where he was playing gobstones with a younger, fifth year Gryffindor.
"No," Remus choked out and immediately left through the portrait, Peter staring after him, concerned.
You'd think it wouldn't bother him anymore, the smell of cigarette smoke; the telltale post-coital pleasure that Sirius always liked to engage in, had liked to engage in with Remus once upon a time. But of course it did. It overcame him with a wave of anger and jealousy so deep that he always had to leave the room to get some fresh air.
Outside the castle, the October air was crisp and cool. It prickled along his skin, creating goose bumps. He fumbled inside his robes for his own cigarettes and lit one with a murmured 'Incendio'. His hands shook slightly as he took deep puffs of the cigarette. Remus only smoked when he was anxious, and lately he was only anxious when the smell of cigarette smoke filled the dorm.
During the summer the smell of cigarettes used to accompany a different emotion altogether. It used to follow the feeling of satisfaction and happiness after he and Sirius had shagged in Sirius' flat. Sirius would light one up and they would pass it between each other with small smiles. Afterwards, they didn't talk about it and it never came up until the next time Sirius would creep into the room he slept in while he stayed with Sirius over the summer.
When Sirius touched him, Remus felt this surge of emotion like he had never known. He had always wanted to be liked, but to share what he and Sirius had shared… Remus had never thought it possible.
He dropped his cigarette and bitterly ground it into pavement with the toe of his boot. He reached for another cigarette in the near-darkness and lit it up. He continued to walk through the courtyard until he reached a bench, where he sat, ignoring the way the cold of the stone crept through his robes. He hunched over, his elbows on his knees, and smoked slowly this time, his anger slowly being replaced with sadness.
He thought back to that time in August when they had shared everything together: the flat, their bed, their bodies. Remus thought they had shared something else as well. Sometimes after they shared the cigarette, Sirius would gather him in his arms and kiss his forehead while he traced patterns down his back with his fingers. When Remus awoke, sometimes Sirius was still there and he would borrow deeper into the covers just to be closer to him. When Sirius awoke, Remus would pretend to be asleep while he gently untangled himself from their embrace and went into his own room. Remus ignored the pang of hurt, dismissing it as him being too sensitive. Really, what did he expect? For Sirius to stay with him and discuss their feelings? Blokes didn't do that, he told himself. In the end, he never held it against him because in a few nights Sirius would be back, and did it really matter whether he stayed with him during the night or not? He did love him, right?
Remus let out a low sigh and exhaled smoke. Of course he didn't love him. If he had loved him they wouldn't have had to go through that awful awkward speech before they went back to school…
"When we go back to Hogwarts… we can't keep doing what we've been doing. I mean, think of James and Peter. It's been a bit of fun, but you know we can't keep doing it, right?"
There was a pause when Remus stared at him, numb. And then, finally, "Right. Yeah, of course."
Sirius smiled, obviously relieved, and patted him on the back. He didn't noticed Remus flinch. "Good. I was afraid you'd be upset."
Remus let out a weak laugh that sounded false even to his own ears. "Oh, no. No, it's fine," he lied.
"Great. I'll just be packing, then."
It wasn't fine, but Remus would sure as hell pretend it was. He smiled politely when Sirius introduced him to Madeline or Magdalene or whoever she was. He even sat there while Sirius made out with her on his bed, pretending to be immersed in a book, afraid to leave. If he left it meant it bothered him, and it didn't bother him. He was fine. Just fine.
He looked up when he heard the crunch of gravel.
"Alright Moony?" James called.
Remus forced a smile and nodded. He obviously couldn't tell James what was really going on. For all the things Sirius hadn't said, he had made it clear that James and Peter couldn't know.
"You know, just girl problems," he lied, shuddering inwardly when he realised how second nature it came to him now.
James looked confused for a moment before he sat beside him on the bench.
"Oh. I didn't think you, er, had girl problems."
Remus looked over at him sharply.
"You know, after what happened with you and Sirius, I just assumed…," James trailed off as he stared down at his hands.
Remus felt like the wind had been knocked out of him.
"What do you mean?" Remus asked slowly. He lit another cigarette and waited for James to answer.
James looked rather embarrassed at this point, but Remus didn't care, He needed to know what James knew.
"Sirius didn't say much, really. He just mentioned that you two had been rather, er, close over the holidays and then you wanted to break it off to see other people during the school year. Which is why I'm surprised that you haven't been seeing anyone," James added, "unless you have been…"
"No, I haven't," Remus said quickly. He took a deep breath and another drag off his cigarette. "That's not exactly how it happened, James," he said in a low voice.
"What happened, then?"
"Sirius said that we couldn't keep doing what we were doing because of you and Peter. He didn't want you to know."
"But that's ridiculous!" James exclaimed as he stood up suddenly. "He owled me at the beginning of August telling me what was going on."
Remus frowned, his eyebrows furrowing together.
"I don't understand."
"Me neither, mate. Me neither," James said sympathetically.
"If he didn't want me, he should have just said something instead of being such a bloody lying coward."
James nodded in agreement. "Listen, are you going to be out here for a bit?"
Remus shrugged and then nodded.
"Alright, I'll see you when you come in," James told him and rested his hand briefly on his shoulder before striding back towards the castle.
James walked with purpose back to the dormitory, even ignoring Lily in the common room as he took the stairs up to the dormitory two at a time. He stood outside of the door for a moment before flinging it open.
Sirius looked up from where he was sitting on the window ledge. His left leg was curled up against his chest while his other dangled off the sill. He was smoking a cigarette.
"I think we need to talk," James said as he closed the door behind him and locked it with a swish of his wand.
"Look, I'm sorry if we were loud," Sirius started. "She's a screamer, mate, I can't help that."
"A silencing charm would help," James replied, his tone disapproving, "but that's not what I wanted to talk about."
"I was talking with Moony just now."
Sirius nodded and looked at him blankly.
"He mentioned something interesting about August," James continued.
"What did he say? Would you just get on with it?" Sirius asked irritably.
"He said that you were the one who ended it, not him."
Sirius paused, as if wondering whether it was worth contending. "Yeah, that's right."
"That's not what you told me. He also said that you told him you were ending it because of Wormtail and me."
Sirius had the decency to look slightly embarrassed, if not exactly ashamed.
"So, what's going on?" James asked, sitting next to him on the window sill.
Sirius took a drag of his cigarette before answering.
"Okay, look. You can't laugh," he warned James.
James chuckled at the warning but promised he wouldn't laugh.
"Alright. The thing with Moony, it was just supposed to be a bit of fun, you know?"
James nodded even though he didn't really know.
"And then I started wanting to sleep with him after, to stay the night I mean."
"So that wasn't supposed to happen, not with him. I've never wanted to do that with any of the birds I've shagged." He took another drag of his cigarette. "The first time I stayed the night I woke up and looked over and just looked at him, just watched him sleep. I'd never done that before, Prongs. It freaked me out, you know? I didn't talk to him for days."
"So, you're scared?" James asked slowly.
"No," Sirius replied quickly. "I mean, I went back after that. We kept, you know, and I'd sometimes stay the night and leave before he woke. I don't think he ever knew. What would he say if he knew? I mean, I don't even know if he ever wanted what we did. He never came to my room."
"I don't think he didn't want it. He was probably just afraid or something. You know Moony, he doesn't like to call shots," James pointed out.
Sirius nodded and took another drag of his cigarette. He looked out the window and down below into the courtyard.
"Christ, is that Moony out there?"
"Yeah. You're a fucking arsehole, you know that?"
Sirius looked away from the window to James. "What did I do?"
James thought he might hit him at that moment, but he didn't. "You just dropped Moony without a real explanation and have been fucking Magdalene so loud that all of Gryffindor can hear it. How the fuck do you think he feels?"
"I dunno," Sirius mumbled.
"Yes, you do," James insisted. "Imagine if that was him up here, fucking everyone else. Is that what you want? Because that's what's going to happen if you don't smarten up."
Sirius rested his head in the hand that wasn't holding the cigarette. Finally his gaze returned to James.
"I don't know what to do, Prongs. I've never felt this way. He doesn't feel the same way. I know he doesn't, and if I tell him he's going to…I don't want to lose him."
"Have you ever asked him how he feels?" James asked.
"No," Sirius muttered.
"Have you even told him how you feel?"
"Not so much," Sirius admitted. "It was just easier that way."
"You're such a berk," James said with a laugh. "Aren't you supposed to be clever? Because you're acting like an idiot. Now go down and tell Moony how you feel and if you don't lose him I'll owe you ten galleons."
"What happens if I do lose him?" Sirius asked tentatively. He threw his cigarette butt out the window.
"Then you lose him."
Sirius nodded and got up. He pulled on his heavy robes and descended the stairs, so nervous that it felt like the sorting ceremony all over again.
Sirius recognised Remus at once, sitting on a bench in the courtyard. Cigarette butts were gathering around him in a circle. Sirius frowned slightly. He knew Remus only smoked when he was upset or had just shagged someone. Sirius hoped it was the previous.
Remus snorted bitterly and Sirius cringed.
"Have a good shag?" he asked.
Sirius didn't reply but sat down beside him and pulled out a cigarette.
"Please don't smoke," Remus said softly.
Sirius looked over, taken aback, but put the cigarette away. Remus had never cared before if he smoked.
"You always smoke, after, and I don't really want to think about that."
"Oh," Sirius replied. He was at a loss for words. Remus tended to have that effect on him which was probably why he tried to avoid talking to him too much. He preferred to just listen or watch Moony. It was safer that way, he reasoned. He had less of an opportunity to sound like a berk.
"Anything you want?" Remus asked finally.
"I've been an arse," Sirius said with a small nervous laugh.
Remus shrugged, neither admonishing not supporting the statement.
"In the summer, I didn't mean for things to happen like that, Moony," Sirius started.
"Look," Remus said sharply, "if you're here to tell me that you regret what happened over the summer, you needn't bother. I already came to that conclusion all on my own. It's obvious by the way you've been carrying on. Now, if you'll excuse me."
Remus got up, shoving his cigarettes in his robe and walked quickly away. Sirius watched him helplessly. For a moment he just sat there, watching Remus walk away until he gathered the courage that had abandoned him earlier.
"I'm in love with you," he said as he stood up. Remus kept walking. Sirius didn't know if he hadn't heard or if he didn't care. He hoped it was the first.
"Would you stop?" he shouted. "I'm in love with you!"
Remus stopped dead in his tracks. Sirius stood frozen to the spot as well. His heart was pounding as Remus slowly turned around.
"I can see that," he said very evenly as he walked back to where Sirius was standing. "It is quite obvious that you're in love with me by the way you've been fucking that girl. It was obvious you were in love with me the way you always left me in the morning during August. You've made it perfectly fucking obvious that you're in love with me by the way you keep hurting me." He punctuated the second last word by shoving Sirius. He stumbled backwards but didn't fall.
"I didn't mean to hurt you. I should have told you," Sirius said quickly. "It's been hell this past month without you. Every time I fucked her I thought of you, honest. I know I've been unforgivable and incredibly stupid but please give me a chance, Moony. I just need one chance."
"Give me one reason why I should."
"James bet me ten galleons that I wouldn't lose you when I told you that I loved you. If you give me a chance, I'll split it with you."
Remus started laughing, unexpectedly. "I'm not a whore that you can pay to be with you, Padfoot."
"No, no, no!" Sirius shouted hurriedly. "God Moony, I get so stupid around you. It's like my brain stops working and I just say and do the stupidest things and I'm so fucking scared of losing you that I can't even think straight, and --"
"Shh," Remus said softly as he came closer. "Just shut up, Padfoot."
Sirius nodded as he fell into Remus' embrace. And then it was Remus' hand in his hair and Remus' lips on his cheek, and jaw, and finally his lips.
"You haven't quite lost me," Remus murmured as he pulled away. "But you will if you keep on with Magdalene."
"I know," Sirius nodded. "I don't want her. I just want you."
"Then start proving it," Remus called over his shoulder as he walked back towards the castle. He didn't turn when he heard Sirius' hurried footsteps after him and didn't slow his pace when Sirius caught up with him. He did however, allow Sirius to intertwine their fingers together tentatively. Remus caught his eye and gave him a small smile. They exhaled together.