" She is not trying to seduce me, Sirius," Remus said for what he felt like was the millionth time. " She is just a lonely young woman with a very big heart."
" Are you shagging her behind my back?" Sirius asked in a playful tone, though his eyes gave him away. Remus smacked the back of his head and walked past him into the living room.
" That wasn't an answer, Moony!" Sirius called after him in pursuit.
" Yes, Padfoot, putting up with you for so long has finally turned me straight in the course of two weeks," Remus muttered, stepping into the kitchenette and digging through one of the shelves. " Have you seen the pasta? Thought I'd make us spaghetti tonight."
" You're making her spaghetti? But I like spaghetti!" Sirius said, making no effort to help with the search, instead grabbing a beer from the refrigerator with a scowl.
" Yes, and as you will be there, too, I don't see what your point is," Remus said, locating the box he sought, and setting it beside the stove.
" Oh, no I won't. I'm leaving before the temptress gets here," Sirius said taking a long pull from the bottle. The doorbell rang.
" You're too late, Padfoot. Be nice, or else," Remus said with a stern look of warning.
" Look at it this way," Remus said on his way to the door, " You can keep an eye on things. And I dare say, you'll soon see that you're acting like a fool on this whole matter."
Remus opened the door, smiling politely.
" Hello, Beverly," he said, making way for his muggle neighbor, a blonde woman with a wide face and cat eyed glasses.
" Hi, Remus," she said, handing him a bottle of red wine.
" Thank you, Beverly, that will go perfectly with the dinner I'm making. I've invited along a friend as well. I hope you don't mind," Remus said, as Beverly looked past him into the living room and laughed.
" Oh, of course not! He's gorgeous!" Beverly said. Remus' eyes widened slightly at her boldness before she continued.
" Wow, he is an enormous beast, and all that glossy black hair! Wherever did you pick him up?" she asked enthusiastically. Remus turned in confusion, both annoyed and relieved to see her praise had been addressed to a large black dog curled sulkily by the sofa.
" Um -- he followed me home." Remus said, giving Padfoot a nasty look over Beverly's shoulder.
" Can I pet him?" she asked. Padfoot gave a low growl.
" Better not. He's a bit on the feral side. If he doesn't shape up, I might have to take him to the pound," Remus said, his mouth twitching slightly.
" Oh, that's a shame," she said nervously, giving the dog a wide berth as Remus led her into the kitchenette.
Padfoot huffed and whined his way through a dinner of inane conversation, glancing irritably at the wall clock what seemed like every five minutes. Beverly was a librarian, he discovered, who had been the one to recommend the small but reasonably priced apartment Remus had moved into after graduation, despite Sirius' persistent requests that he come to live with him. They discussed various works of muggle literature, and Sirius felt entirely out of the loop as they dissected one piece he hadn't read, ad nauseum. He didn't see how Remus could be so thick as to not notice the way she looked at him, shyly and hopefully. It was all he could do to not go over and whizz on her ugly woolen tights and clunky shoes. But he did want to prove how very much Remus was his the second she walked out the door, oh yes. And there would be nothing of the sort if he peed on the dinner guests, obviously. He didn't need the posh Black upbringing to know that particular bit of etiquette.
" I'm very disappointed in you, Padfoot," Remus said in amusement, as Sirius turned back into his human form while Remus shut the door.
" You can't tell me that tart isn't after you now," Sirius said, seething with indignation. Remus laughed.
" Well, if you're still on about that, then you missed a perfect opportunity to show her that I'm very much taken, you realize," he said, stepping towards him and wrapping his arms around Sirius' waist.
" You know how hot I get when you give dull lectures on muggle classics," Sirius said, kissing the tender flesh of Remus' throat. " Didn't think the slag would ever leave."
Remus shuddered with pleasure.
" Me, either."
The issue of Beverly was causing identical havoc however, just a week later, when Remus decided to have her over for dinner again.
" You have to be Padfoot this time, you realize. If you're going to be hanging out here regularly, someone is bound to see Padfoot sometime, and I can hardly tell her I had you put down due to your grumpy disposition now," Remus said, checking on the roast chicken.
" Could tell her he's off seeing family," Sirius said, his mouth full of the mashed potatoes Remus had begged him to leave be. Remus ignored the comment, stopping to lick the potatoes off the side of Sirius' mouth as he followed the sound of the doorbell.
" Couldn't have her thinking I let the dog eat off the table, now could I?" he called in a sultry voice over his shoulder.
This time Beverly brought a present for Padfoot. Remus fought hard to suppress laughter as the young woman cheerfully presented him with the two items.
" I knitted these last week. I hope they fit," she said. Remus took the two knit dog sweaters, one red and one blue, holding them up for the dog's inspection. Padfoot whined and hid beneath the coffee table.
" Aww. He doesn't like them," Beverly said with a giggle. Remus shook his head, bending down and beckoning the cowering animagi.
" Nonsense. He'll look right smart in them, I'm sure. Thank you so much Beverly, it's very thoughtful," Remus said.
" Come out, Sirius," he said in a firm tone, letting Padfoot's given name slip.
" Sirius? Well isn't that a darling name for a dog? Like the Dog Star," Beverly said with a smile. Remus colored slightly.
" Um, yes. If Sirius knows what's good for him, he'll come here. No after dinner treats for bad doggies," Remus said. Padfoot whined pitifully, hanging his shaggy head low as he emerged slowly from beneath the table.
" Gotcha," Remus said, struggling for a moment, and finally wrestling the red sweater onto the black dog, who gave him a look that would have clearly communicated a wish for vengeance were it not for the cursed cuteness factor of his present appearance.
Padfoot rolled on the floor, settling on his back and providing an indecent view of himself, while the dinner conversation once more bored him to distraction. Once more Sirius wondered how Remus could be so oblivious to the little tart's cautious brand of flirtation, as she flipped her dark blonde hair over her shoulder and laughed just a little too hard at Remus' sarcasm.
" Would you like to go for a walk? There's an enchanting little book shop around the corner you might like," Beverly said when they had finished their meal. Remus glanced at Sirius' obnoxious position and smiled.
" Yes, that would be nice," Remus said.
Sirius was feeling murderous by the time they returned, having had to wait outside in the snow for half an hour, as the shop did not allow dogs.
" Good job he had that sweater to keep him warm," Remus said with an evil grin, as they walked back in and sat on the couch, looking at some dusty volume Beverly had acquired on their journey.
Padfoot curled up at the front door beside the wet, snowy boots Remus had pulled off, chewing on them in frustration. They were in tatters by the time Remus walked her to the door.
" Oh, no! Your boots!" Beverly said with concern, upon observing Padfoot's handiwork. Remus frowned slightly.
" Yes, I think I'm beginning to remember why I was always a cat person," he said, as Beverly left and said her goodbyes.
Remus walked past Padfoot and he transformed, not so much as glancing at him.
" Those were my only pair of boots, you know," he said with a sigh.
In the following two weeks, Sirius finally coaxed Remus into accepting his offer to move into his apartment with him (and accept a much nicer, new pair of boots) when Remus lost yet another job due to an employer's discovery of his condition. In turn, Remus coaxed Sirius to be a good dog, and wear his blue sweater for a last dinner date to say goodbye to Beverly.
It went much the same as always, a literary conversation and a sulky canine, but this time Beverly seemed far more quiet than usual.
" Is something bothering you, Beverly?" Remus asked when they'd finished eating and she had helped him clear the table. Beverly shrugged.
" It's nothing. I'm just going to miss you and Sirius, is all," she said with a sad smile.
" I had kind of hoped --" she started and blushed deeply, looking away.
" Yes?" Remus asked politely, fearing what her answer might be. Beverly shook her head, forcing a brighter smile that didn't quite reach her eyes.
" It's nothing. I hope you like your new place, Remus. I've enjoyed having you to talk to," she said, rising from her seat. Remus walked her to the door, feeling sorry for the young girl, but not knowing quite what to say.
Remus smiled as he turned to see Padfoot pulling off the sweater as fast as he could before transforming.
" Aha! I told you! You can't deny she fancied you all along now!" he cried in triumph, throwing the garment away from him. Remus shrugged.
" You win," Remus said. " I do feel sorry for the girl though." Sirius scratched the back of his neck.
" Well, yeah. Can't blame her, of course," Sirius said with a wink.
The doorbell rang, and Sirius answered it without thinking. Beverly stood there, frozen, staring at the handsome man who had seemed to appear from nowhere.
" I -- I'm sorry. I'm a friend of Remus'. I left something here," she stammered nervously. Sirius gave her his most charming smile and shook her hand.
" I'm Sirius. Sirius Black. And you must be Beverly," he said, the girl looking at him strangely.
" Sirius? Like Remus' dog?" she asked. Remus stepped into the doorway.
" Here you go. I just noticed you'd left it," Remus said, handing her the book she'd left behind. Beverly looked from one man to the other, and took the book with a dazed expression.
" Er -- thanks. Sorry for interrupting," she said, blushing.
" No, it's fine. I've actually wanted you to meet Sirius," Remus said. Sirius smirked.
" The original Sirius, that is," Sirius said, throwing a possessive arm around Remus' waist.
Sirius turned to Remus when the awkward moment had passed and the Remus' confused neighbor had left.
" So, do you want me to keep the sweaters then?" Sirius asked teasingly. Remus rolled his eyes.
" No, Padfoot, you know I prefer you naked and free. In any form," Remus said, pushing Sirius back onto the sofa with a growl.