Disclaimer- You're delusional if you think I wrote Harry Potter. Sometimes I wish I was that delusional….

Author's Note- Sorry it took so long, but a small bit of writer's block and a whole lot of school kinda delayed me. Oh well, here it is. Hope it didn't turn out too bad. Though don't be afraid to review and tell me if it did!

Love and Caring and all that Crap

Chapter 4

He never liked leaving dinner early. Once in the entrance hall the clanging of silverware against plates and the chatter of students and professors – the sounds of life – became so distant. To Remus, it almost felt like he was missing out on something. After what Sirius had just done, however, he couldn't stand to stay another minute. Why couldn't the boy just let things go? He was always so annoying, so persistent, so obsessive. It was infuriating. And now Remus was in trouble for something he had nothing to do with – something that Sirius deliberately intended him to get caught for.

He took in a deep, shaky breath and let the sounds from the Great Hall wash over him for a moment longer before pushing open one of the great oak doors and stepping out into the night. The stars were only just beginning to appear between the clouds. The moon, so near to being full, was completely obscured. Remus had just sat down upon the stone steps of the castle, finally finding one minute of peace within the absurdity of his day, when the door behind him opened once more.

"Moony?" It was James. Remus closed his eyes, inwardly groaning but choosing not to say a word. "Er, I just, um, wanted to apologize," said James. "I mean, for helping to get you in trouble with McGonagall. Sirius just – "

"Sirius just doesn't know how to mind his business," Remus interrupted harshly. James fell into an awkward silence, but Remus wasn't paying attention. He was thinking about every time Sirius had ever pried, poked, or picked his way into the secrets of his life.

"I was going to say that he can sometimes get a bit carried away," James said quietly, "but that works too…."

"A bit carried away?" Remus turned around and gazed at the other boy skeptically. "James, when Sirius wanted to ask me why I disappeared every month he led you and Peter in some elaborate scheme to ambush me as I came out of the toilet one day. He always has to know everything. Some things he just doesn't need to know." He turned back around and breathed slowly, methodically. He wished he didn't feel this way. More than anything he wished that there weren't so many things about him that set him apart from everyone else and constantly risked his relationships with other people. Remus couldn't expect his friends to keep accepting just how different he really was. He didn't even want to think about what Sirius would think after discovering that his werewolf best mate, a bloke, was attracted to him.

Remus sensed James' hesitation before the be-speckled boy took a seat next to him on the steps. "Look, you know Padfoot," James began, "he doesn't much give a damn what most people think about him. Hell, he makes up crackpot stories about himself just so half the student population will talk about him or conclude that he is indeed completely nutters." James grinned sourly. "But when it comes to the people that matter…. Moony, he needs us. Sirius doesn't like to think that he could lose any of his closest friends, that there could be even the faintest shadow of a possibility that a problem could exist between him and one of us. Especially you."

"What's that supposed to mean?" asked Remus, curiously surprised and only slightly cynical.

James looked as if he didn't quite know how to word his thoughts. "I, well, I'm sort of like the replacement for Sirius' ass of a brother. Wormtail, he's just there and Sirius tolerates him. But you – Remus you're the one that Sirius talks to. He trusts you. Not with pranks and such, as that would fall under my job description, but he does trust you. With how he thinks, what he feels, who he is. Padfoot thinks I'm an oblivious idiot, but I see how important you are to him."

James caught Remus' eye and Remus held the gaze questioningly. And then James got up to leave. "Just don't tear him apart until you've really heard him out, alright? I don't know if you're avoiding him or not, but he does need you."

Remus nodded. "Yeah, okay."

"Oh, and Moony?" James continued.

"Hmm?"

"Ten chocolate frogs next time we go to Honeydukes?"

"I have to ring out the entire first floor, James. Not to mention the never-ending detentions with McGonagall."

"Right," James said with a grimace. "Ten frogs, three packs of Droobles, and as many Licorice Wands as you want."

"Sounds good." Remus smiled half-heartedly and watched the other boy go back into the castle. With a quick glance at a moon he could only see by sensing its location, he too got to his feet and slipped through the massive front doors.

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The first floor was submerged under at least an inch of water. Soggy papers and books littered the ground where students had abandoned them in search of some sort of shelter. Most of the portraits hanging along the walls were blurred where water had touched paint; irate, smeared occupants were grumbling within their frames.

Remus splashed down the corridor, his almost dry shoes becoming thoroughly wet once more. Taking in the full extent of his surroundings, he reflected dully that the job wouldn't take nearly as long as it was going to if McGonagall hadn't confiscated his wand half-way up the marble staircase. At least the rest of the school was done with their dinner and had already returned to their dormitories. Remus didn't want to deal with anymore girls approaching him to tell him off for ruining their hair….

"Well this should be interesting." Remus felt himself involuntarily tense at the sound of Sirius' voice. He spun around to face the other boy, but decidedly refused to respond for fear of completely losing it. Luckily – and it was a measure of how much he really did not want to speak to Sirius at the moment that he found it lucky – Filch shuffled into the corridor just behind Sirius carrying all manner of cleaning supplies.

"Enough chatting," the caretaker wheezed. "I have to be here long enough without you two delaying everything with your incessant talking."

Refraining from rolling his eyes, Remus turned them instead upon a shivering bulge in the pocket of Filch's robes. "Er, sir," he began, pointing at the still-squirming lump, "what's that?"

Filch blinked and glanced down at his pocket. "Oh – Mrs. Norris," he muttered to himself, reaching with one gnarled hand to pull out what appeared to be a ball of fuzz with unnaturally yellow eyes.

"What is it?" Sirius asked, extending his hand to prod the small furry creature. He withdrew it soon after a tiny paw shot forward and clawed at his fingers. "Ow – bloody hell!" he cursed, quickly sticking his index finger in his mouth and sucking the blood from his wound.

"Oh, bloody hell," Remus murmured, averting his eyes.

Filch ignored them both and cradled the vicious kitten against his chest lovingly. "This, Black, is Mrs. Norris. I'm training her to help me keep the students of this school in line."

"A cat is supposed to keep us from dropping dung bombs and staying out past curfew?" Sirius asked, raising an incredulous eyebrow.

"Cats happen to be very trustworthy and clever animals Black," Filch spat with literal spit. Remus couldn't be sure, but he thought he heard his friend barely utter, "I've always liked dogs myself…."

"So what's its name then?" Sirius inquired curiously.

"I already told you her name Black," replied Filch. "Mrs. Norris."

"Well yeah, Mrs. Norris. So Norris is her last name. But what's her first name?"

"Shut up Black." And with this, Filch handed each of them a mop and several sponges, told them to get to work, and retreated to a nearby corner to talk to his cat.

Remus ignored Sirius' attempts to catch his eye and began mopping the floor, periodically ringing out the water into a bucket. The work was tedious, and Remus had the feeling that he wasn't going to get any studying done tonight. Lifting his head slightly to shoot Sirius yet another look that read purely, 'This is all your fault,' he noticed that the other boy kept checking his watch. Remus felt his stomach clench with a feeling of foreboding that was not for the first time directly connected to Sirius.

Sure enough, after ten minutes of no progress whatsoever and Sirius hardly ungluing his gaze from his watch, an echoing bang sounded from some distant part of the castle. Filch's head snapped up instantly and Mrs. Norris had gone rigid. "Peeves," the caretaker said simply before ordering Sirius and Remus to stay put and taking off, kitten in hand, down the slippery corridor.

Remus barely looked up. "Another brilliant plan of yours no doubt," he said, picking up a copy of The Standard Book of Spells, Grade Six, and tossing it onto a pile of other destroyed textbooks. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Sirius shrug, leaning casually on a mop and watching him.

"Peeves likes to piss off Filch. What better time to do it then when we're stuck in detention?"

"We wouldn't be stuck in detention if it wasn't for you," Remus snapped bitterly, plunging his mop to the floor with more intensity than was typically needed for mopping.

"I am largely to blame, yes," said Sirius, "but if you had just talked to me…." Remus didn't reply. They'd had this conversation so many times and he was tired of talking in circles.

"Look Moony, I'm sorry about the whole getting you into trouble thing. I know being a prefect is really important to you and that I could've really screwed that up . I just need to know what I did wrong. I have to know how you feel."

Remus looked briefly into Sirius' pleading eyes and then said, "I think I'll head further down the corridor. You can take this half and I'll take the other…." He bent down to pick up the bucket but was stopped as Sirius' hand grabbed his wrist.

"Rem," he said. Remus stiffened instinctively, his hand slowly curling into a fist. He knew that Sirius knew he could hurt him if he really wanted to. He also knew that Sirius didn't care.

"Fine," Remus said, standing up straight once more. "Since you have to push so damn hard, since you have to dig so deep and risk ruining everything, I'll tell you. Because you have to know," he added scathingly. Again he looked Sirius in the eye, hating that he liked him so much, despising the way that this boy could make him give in, always give in. "I fancy you Sirius. I like you. Not just as a brother, not just as a friend. I really like you. Are you happy now? Still wish I wasn't avoiding y – "

Sirius interrupted by shoving his friend against the closest smudged painting he could find, causing both mops to come clattering to the floor and knocking a bucket so fiercely that it came dangerously close to tipping. Remus, taken by surprise, didn't say another word and instead watched Sirius swallow nervously before saying, "So this really has nothing to do with me kissing you?"

"Kiss – what?" Remus spluttered.

"You know, when I thought you were asleep and, well, er…." Sirius studied Remus' expression curiously.

"What are you talking about?" the werewolf asked, irritated and confused. "Is this supposed to be some kind of joke that I seriously don't get, because if you hate me I'd rather just kn – "

Sirius pressed in closer, every part of him touching every part of Remus. Knees to knees, thighs to thighs, chest to chest. Remus gasped as Sirius shifted slightly so that their faces were just a breath apart. It was at this distance that the animagus chose to whisper, "Remus, I fancy you too."

"Oh," Remus sighed. He leaned into Sirius' kiss – a first kiss that was far less awkward than it should have been. Warm and wet, sweet and long. Sirius pulled away and Remus could still feel him on his swollen lips. Smiling, he reached for the other boy's hand – the one that still lingered in his hair – and grasped it tightly within his own.

"Ow," Sirius said in a tone that was more matter-of-fact than anything else. Clearly not expecting this particular response, Remus released his friend's hand and watched as Sirius shook it rapidly.

"Geez, what did I do?" Remus asked, trying not to appear too offended.

"It wasn't you – it was that damn cat. And it's bleeding again." Sirius held out his finger to reveal a small, bleeding cut, and then brought it up to his mouth to clean it in his traditional Sirius way.

Before he got the opportunity, however, Remus broke in with an exasperated, "Oh for the love of – Sirius, give me your fucking hand." Not even waiting for a response, the boy grabbed the bloody finger and licked it clean himself. The metallic taste of blood was a far cry from chocolate, but Remus decided that as long as Sirius was attached, he was happy.

"Hmm," Sirius mused, grinning annoyingly, "I feel like I've been doing it wrong this whole time."

"And that's why you have me Padfoot," Remus smiled back, uncomfortably comfortable between the blurred landscape behind him and the boy before him, "I'll take care of you."

The End