"I still don't see why we need to have a Haunted House," Sirius said, looking around the dungeon hallways balefully. "We live in a haunted castle."
"It's a Halloween tradition. Muggle thing. I think it'll be fun," Remus said, trying to sound placating so Sirius would stop whining. "Besides, you like Muggle things. Remember the record player?"
Sirius ignored him. He sneezed twice, then made a face. "I think I just swallowed my own snot," he said miserably. "I hate being sick."
Remus eyed Sirius as they made their way down the damp dungeon halls toward the meeting place. He really does look sick, Remus thought, taking note of his flushed cheeks and bright eyes.
"Here," Remus said, grabbing his arm and taking an abrupt turn down a side passageway. "Come with me."
"Hey—where are we—achoo!" Sirius sneezed again, propelling him headlong into Remus. "Ouch," he snuffled, still trodding after Remus. "Where are we going? We're supposed to meet James and Lily."
"They can wait," Remus said, and led Sirius up a staircase towards the kitchens.
"All this for a snack?" Sirius complained, scrubbing his itchy eyes. "James will kill us."
"Rubbish. He'll be too busy gawping at Lily to notice we're not there."
Sirius didn't bother to argue the point.
"Wait here, I'll only be a minute."
Stifling his complaints, Sirius leaned against the wall and waited for Remus. A few minutes later Remus reappeared, holding a steaming mug of hot chocolate.
"Here," Remus said, looking almost shy as he handed Sirius the mug. "I had the house elves put a splash of Pepper-Up Potion in it. Should make you feel better."
Sirius took the mug from Remus gratefully. "Thanks, Moony," Sirius said, taking a noisy slurp and licking the frothy chocolate off his lips. "Mmm, 'sgood."
Averting his gaze from Sirius's red lips, Remus offered a distracted smile and led the way back towards the old Potion's classroom.
By the time Remus and Sirius reached the dungeons, a small crowd had already gathered around James and Lily. Behind them was a large chalkboard covered with neat handwriting and lists that looked nothing like James's frenzied Quidditch scribbles, and thus could only be Lily's doing.
Remus looked around and saw Peter standing by a blonde Hufflepuff whose name he should know, but couldn't recall. Snape was standing by the far wall with a group of bored-looking Slytherins. Remus hoped fervently that Sirius wouldn't notice Snape standing there and feel the need to take out his misery on the Slytherin. Luckily, James was far too distracted to bother Snape—he was fidgeting with his glasses and looking nervously at Lily every few seconds. Lily hadn't hexed James when he'd asked her to Hogsmeade a few weeks ago, which all the Marauders had interpreted as a good sign, especially since James hadn't died from shock (which Sirius had cheekily suggested was Lily's intention in the first place).
Nearby, a twittering group of Ravenclaw girls was edging closer to Remus and Sirius, shooting Sirius amorous looks between giggles. Remus glared at them, hoping by sheer force of will he could keep them away.
Oblivious, Sirius continued slurping his hot chocolate and making satisfied "mmm" noises that distracted Remus almost as much as Lily was distracting James.
Lily cleared her throat. "As you know, only seventh years are allowed to participate, so you fifth year Ravenclaws had better go."
Disappointed, the group of girls left, casting Sirius longing looks over their shoulders as they made their reluctant retreat. Remus rolled his eyes, glad for the first time that only seventh years were planning the Haunted House. Remus, Sirius, and Peter had been dutifully recruited the week after Dumbledore had placed the Headboy and Headgirl in charge of the event, and when Remus protested, citing NEWTs as his excuse for not joining, he had received such pleading looks from James that he'd finally conceded—not that he was planning on helping James get into Lily's knickers. He was there for moral support only.
And maybe to spend more time with Sirius—not that he would ever admit it.
"Thank you so much for being here," Lily continued, taking charge in an uncannily McGonagall-esque manner. "We have just two weeks before Halloween, so we need to plan accordingly. For those of you unfamiliar with the Muggle tradition of Haunted Houses, it's basically a decorated maze filled with people in costume who frighten you. We'll make the East wing and the nearby passages into the Haunted House. I'll need all of you to help decorate and to work as scare actors. I'll help everyone with their costumes." Lily smiled at everyone like a proud military leader preparing her soldiers for battle. Remus felt sudden sympathy for James's terror.
"Right," James said, tearing his eyes away from Lily and looking at the assembled students. "And we'll need a refreshment stand as well, as a sort of Halloween after-party. I'll be in charge of that committee. Everyone come up to the chalkboard and sign up for which committees you want to be on, and which costume you want for the Haunted House. You're welcome to add your own suggestions, but make sure it'll frighten the bollocks off—I mean, make sure it's scary," he finished quickly.
Since Sirius and Remus were at the back of the crowd, it took them a while to reach the board. Remus saw Peter and the blonde Hufflepuff sign up to be under James's food committee, but he couldn't tell which costumes they had chosen.
"I feel so much better now," Sirius said, grinning at Remus and throwing his arm around him in a sideways embrace. "My nose isn't full of snot anymore—mmm, you smell good Moony," Sirius said, nuzzling Remus's neck. For a minute Remus was so thrilled he almost forgot to breathe, though he was given a harsh reminder when the students in front of the board moved, giving him a clear view of the list of costumes.
Beside costume number 14. Werewolf, someone had written in large block letters, REMUS LUPIN.
Sirius stiffened beside him. "Don't worry, I'll erase it—" he murmured, moving forward quickly and reaching for the chalkboard eraser.
"Don't," Remus hissed, grabbing his arm and trying to make it look like he wasn't holding his friend's hand. "It will be suspicious if I make a scene and change it now, in front of everybody. Leave it."
Sirius frowned, and yanked his arm out of Remus's grasp before he listed himself as costume number 15. Vampire, mimicking the block letters that made up Remus's name.
"Snivellus," Sirius said, turning away from the board and grabbing Remus's hand. "He'll pay for this. C'mon."
Remus's panic over his secret's exposure was quickly accompanied by the entirely different sort of panic that he felt whenever Sirius touched him.
Sirius rounded on James as soon as he entered the boys' dormitory. "You idiot," Sirius snarled, glaring at James as Peter entered after him. "You put 'werewolf' on the costume list?"
"I didn't!" James said, surprised. "What gave you that idea?"
"Oh, I don't know," said Sirius sarcastically, "maybe because it was listed on the fucking chalk board?"
"Lily was in charge of that," James said, sounding dazed.
"Sirius, what are you going on about?" Peter asked, used to Sirius's melodrama but wary of his wrath being turned on him.
"Fucking Snivellus signed Remus up for the werewolf costume! Right in front of everyone!"
Peter paled, and went to sit down on his bed. "Damn," he said quietly and as unobtrusively as possible, as if worried his emotions would only fuel Sirius's rage.
"Where's Remus?" James asked, trying to sound calm.
"Hiding in the library, because you were stupid and insensitive enough to let Lily put werewolf on the list!"
"Like you're the sensitive one around here," James snapped, his cheeks flushing an angry red.
Sirius's eyes narrowed dangerously. "And what's that supposed to mean?"
"It means that you're the one who spilled Remus's secret to Snape, not me! This is your fault."
Sirius looked like he was about to hex James, but he suddenly sneezed, breaking the tension in the room.
"Fuck this," Sirius said after an undignified snuffle, and stormed out of the dormitory.
Remus felt ridiculous crouching in the dark. He had been jumping out from behind the same crate for three hours, trying to scare the first years. Somehow he always managed to get the timing wrong, and the younger years either laughed or ignored him.
To his immense displeasure the giggling Ravenclaws had been the only group who had bothered to scream, though any satisfaction Remus might have felt quickly disappeared when they started laughing immediately after, asking where they could find Sirius.
His throat hurt and his thighs were sore from crouching and he was just about to abandon his station when –
Remus jumped and spun around wildly, heart pounding in his chest.
"You're not scared of our own Haunted House, are you Moony?" the vampire asked, snickering softly.
"Sod off," Remus grumbled, embarrassed that he'd been so easily startled.
"Moony, you can't be mad at me!" Sirius said, baring his fangs and arching a dark eyebrow.
"Well maybe you should stop doing things to make your friends angry," Remus suggested reasonably, ignoring Sirius's attempt to look sinister.
"Prongs isn't angry anymore. We made up."
Remus sighed. "Do I want to know what you did to Snape?"
Sirius looked shifty. "Probably not," he admitted, avoiding Remus's gaze.
"Aren't you supposed to be somewhere?" Remus said, too tired and sore to have this conversation. "Somewhere else, I mean?"
Sirius pouted, which was rather impressive considering he had huge fangs. "You're just stroppy because I scared you when you're the one who's supposed to be scary," he accused.
"Well it's not my fault my costume isn't as good as yours," Remus replied, impressed with Sirius's pale skin and blood-red cloak despite himself. With Sirius's naturally dark hair and grey eyes, he looked like he was actually a member of the undead. "You really look like a vampire," Remus said, wondering whether it was wrong to be aroused by that.
Sirius grinned at him. "You really look like a werewolf."
Remus rolled his eyes.
"Oh, I thought of a few vampire jokes! Want to hear them?"
"Sirius, we're supposed to be scaring people, not making them laugh," Remus said, pointing out the obvious just to be annoying.
Sirius grinned evilly. "From what I've heard, you should be taking your own advice, Mr. Scary-Dark-Creature wannabe."
Remus gave up. "Fine. What's your joke?"
Sirius cackled gleefully, his eyes glinting in the low torchlight. "What time is it when you're being chased by five hungry vampires?"
"Dinnertime?" Remus guessed.
"Five-after-one!" Sirius said, then laughed at his own joke. "Hey, here's another one! Why do vampires need to take Pepper-Up Potion?
"So they won't sneeze?" Remus offered sarcastically.
"Close!" Sirius said, beaming at him. "They take it to stop COFFIN!"
Remus stared at him. "Sirius, these jokes are really, really bad. Painful even."
"I know!" Sirius said happily. "I need some coffin drops! Ahahahaha!"
"That's not the only thing you need," Remus muttered.
"Why did the vampire subscribe to the Daily Prophet?" Sirius continued, undaunted.
"Because he heard it had the best circulation!"
Remus was about to hex Sirius silent when he had an idea. "Okay, Sirius," Remus grinned. "I have a joke too. Ready?"
Sirius nodded eagerly.
"What do you get when you cross a vampire with a werewolf?"
"This," Remus answered, and grabbed Sirius by the shoulders and pressed his lips against his, hard.
Sirius stilled, his mouth motionless as Remus kissed him. When Sirius didn't respond after a few seconds Remus began to pull away, but then he felt Sirius tentatively return the pressure.
Slowly, Sirius raised his hands to rest against Remus's hips, and moved his mouth softly against Remus's.
They moved closer in each other's embrace and began to kiss passionately.
For about two seconds.
"Shit!" Remus said, jumping back suddenly. A trickle of blood was making its way down his chin.
"The fangs," Sirius said, sounding dazed. "Fuck. Sorry."
Remus laughed nervously. "I didn't know you really wanted to suck my blood."
Sirius continued to stare at Remus, wide-eyed. "Was that it? The joke?"
The rational part of his brain began to catch up with his impulsive body. Needless to say, Remus was not best pleased.
Remus swallowed, trying to gather what was left of his wits. "Not unless you want it to be," Remus said finally, refusing to meet Sirius's eyes.
"What the fuck does that mean? You don't just kiss your mate for a laugh!"
"It wasn't for a laugh," Remus admitted.
"Then what was it?"
Remus forced himself to meet Sirius's gaze. "I fancy you."
If possible, Sirius's eyes only got wider. "What, like 'I fancy going for a swim'? That kind of fancy?"
"No. Like James fancies Lily."
Sirius seemed to consider that for a moment, his face betraying no emotion as he stood and watched Remus blush. "So not a joke, then?" he asked finally.
"Not a joke," Remus repeated faintly.
"So was there a punchline?" Sirius asked.
"Huh?" said Remus intelligently.
"To the joke. What do you get when you cross a vampire and a werewolf?"
"Oh. I made that up. I mean, the—the thing I did. That was the punchline."
Sirius raised an eyebrow. "Well, you'd better come over here," he said solemnly, returning his canine teeth to their normal size. "We should work on your delivery."
Later that night, Remus smiled when he realized he had finally gotten his timing exactly right.
Notes: Any and all feedback is adored. :)