This is the second sequel, following 'Waiting a Long Time' and 'If I Get There.' I originally intended 'Waiting' to be a one shot, which is why this whole series is massively screwed up. (If I ever archive it somewhere else, I'll post them all together.) Anyway, there will be one more one shot after this, and then I'm thinking of writing a multi-chapter. But, I need you guys' support, so review.

You don't need to read these in order, I hope, so read this if you want. It might make more sense in order, but this stands really well on its own.

Beta'd by Vaughn, the coolest cat ever.

Time for part three!

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Part Three: So Much Closer

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Rumors ran rampant in the Hogwarts hallways during the Marauders' fifth year. The mysterious bond that had attached the boys at the hip appeared to be missing. There was still something there, but…

Remus, the shy one, seemed to be taking his Prefect duties to the extreme, and some people said he'd ratted on his friends and lost their trust, hence the reason he stopped eating with them in the Great Hall, instead opting for Lily Evans's and Frank Longbottom's company.

Peter ate with Remus sometimes, sometimes with James and Sirius, but the latter two seemed to immensely dislike this. They'd also stopped performing pranks, causing a bit of an uproar among the Slytherins: On the outside, they were haughty; inside, they were terrified. (Who knew what those four could have up their sleeves?)

But perhaps the most peculiar development was school hunk Sirius Black's lack of whirlwind romances. After taking Hufflepuff Elizabeth Becker on the first Hogsmeade weekend, Sirius wasn't spotted with any girl. No longer did Hogwarts girls flutter their eyes, whispering to their girlfriends that Sirius had looked at them.

He seemed downright moody.

Lizzie had claimed that she knew a secret about Sirius; she confronted him once, after Gryffindor and Hufflepuff finished their Botany lesson. "Sirius! Either you come clean or I do it for you!" she'd shrieked, and all students found themselves looking on with a morbid curiosity. It sounded like she was accusing Sirius of murder.

The way she was snarling, he must have done something awful.

James and Sirius began rolling up their sweater sleeves, sighing as if casting a spell on Elizabeth was the last thing they wanted to do, but they really had no other choice. It was actually Remus's rogue memory charm that did her in, though, flying in from just behind James and Sirius in a flash of red. When all eyes turned to him, he shrugged, flushed, and muttered something about not meaning it to be that strong. Neither Dumbledore nor Madam Pomfrey could undo the damage, though, and Elizabeth was sent home early.

The Hufflepuffs said that she said that she was going to Disney World.

The rumor began spreading that Sirius and Elizabeth had had sex, but had forgotten to use a proper contraceptive charm, and then after getting her up the duff, Sirius made her get rid of the baby.

That seemed to satisfy the masses, as it explained why the Marauders were torn apart and why Sirius was being all like he was. But then the Beckers got very angry and sent a Howler to Sirius, and he had to explain that not only did he not have sexual relations with their daughter, but that they had ended up not even finishing their Hogsmeade date, going home with their friends instead of each other.

"Trust me," he told the Beckers through Dumbledore's fireplace. "The last thing I wanted to do was fuck your daughter."

The use of that particular verb made the Beckers cringe, but Dumbledore just patted Sirius on the back after that, telling him kindly that it was probably time to go.

"What did the Beckers say?" James looked up eagerly from his Arithmancy book. Sirius scowled, plopping down in the chair next to James. He was happy that the common room was empty. He already felt like he was on display enough.

"Do you think I should just come clean? Tell everyone. It's so disgusting, hearing all the rumors, James…I'm not screwing Moaning Myrtle, nor Filch's cat; no, I'm not having sex with this chair." He patted the seat beneath him fondly and a smile twisted its way onto his face. "I actually think I'm going through withdrawal."

That made James chuckle, but he still seemed preoccupied.

"You okay, though, really? Crazy about Remus's Memory Charm, huh? How he didn't get in trouble?"

"Yeah, I know. All Dumbledore told him was 'good job,' which of course means he knows I'm a giant ponce!"

"How did Elizabeth find out, anyway?" James found himself leaning forward. Sirius chuckled.

"She kept trying to grab my nether region, Jameson." Sirius took on a dignified story-telling voice.

"Really?"

"Don't sound sarcastic! I can't help it if women want me. Anyway, I politely told her that I wasn't interested, that I wasn't some kind of slag. She told me that she heard that I was, and I said, 'I'm sorry.'"

"She didn't like that?"

"We were in the fucking Three Broomsticks, Jimmy! And she was acting like she wanted to shag me right there on the table! And I tried to think of every excuse possible. She was unzipping my pants and I said, 'Um…I'm naked under my clothes. I'm actually a woman, all right? I'm a werewolf! I'm a banshee! I've done naughty things with my broomstick…!'"

That made James giggle.

"Don't laugh; I told her you taught me everything I knew. None of that stopped her of course, so I just ended up saying the truth."

"Which was?"

"Naturally, that I loved to take things that weren't broomsticks. And then she stopped and listened and was damn nice about it. I told her everything, and I thought, well, if Lizzie accepts me, she can't be too bad? And then she goes and… Screams it to the world."

"Remus hexed her." James's voice was hollow.

"I know." Sirius sounded similar.

"Do you know what that means?"

"Haven't the faintest…"

"He's been acting weird."

"Well, you and your big mouth told him I wanted to do the horizontal dance with him. Of course he's acting weird!"

"I didn't let it slip. He asked. I said nothing. Nothing."

"Saying nothing is sometimes speaking volumes, Jimbo."

James said nothing to that.

"Okay, I guess I have to deal with the fact that Moony loathes me. Damn hypocrite. Not only did I accept him for his little furry problem. Nope, I see him in those sexy jeans and see his tight arse and I love it. It gets me off. Ugh, he's so goddamn sexy!"

The way Sirius was going on, James knew that that meant that Remus was right there, so he wasn't surprised to look at the doorway and see the boy hesitating slightly before entering, blushing and frowning.

"Do you have to do that every time I enter a room?"

Sirius seemed to contemplate his answer for a split second before simply replying, "Yes."

"I'm not trying to ignore you, you know."

"We've had this conversation a million times, Moony." Sirius looked at his fingernails. "You seem to think that if we spend less time together, my crush on you will fade away. When, in fact," his eyes flashed at Remus, "it's only grown stronger."

James watched this exchange with the interest of watching a tennis match before sighing, "You know, you both are hopeless in your own way." He didn't really know what he meant by that, but it just seemed to fit in the moment.

"I wrote Elizabeth a letter. Apologizing for the whole thing." Remus dropped his bags onto the floor and began looking through one for some parchment. "I felt terrible. Her parents were dead sweet, but she's still so messed up. I feel awful."

"Why are her parents nice to you, but they regard me as some kind of heathen?"

Remus gave Sirius a look that said, 'I wonder why?' but Sirius just winked and Remus coughed, ears growing red as he returned his attention to his bag. James laughed at his friend's unease.

"Aren't you glad that you've been Sirius's Girl of the Week for the last six weeks now?"

"Yes," Remus deadpanned. "It's my lifelong dream come true."

"Come?" Sirius lifted his head like an excited puppy. Remus covered his ears.

"Don't say things like that!"

"You're just so schmexy, my Remmy. Can you blame me for finding you utterly delectable?"

"That's it!" James stood up, knocking biscuit crumbs from his pants to the floor. "I was waiting for you, Sirius. You're here. I'm going to bed, you two."

"I'm gonna finish my Transfiguration essay," Remus called after James.

"Gonna stay here with me? Not afraid I'd jump you?" Sirius appeared comically-malicious in the firelight. Remus scoffed.

"Hardly."

He took James's vacated chair and began writing quickly, yearning to get up to bed and to sleep.

"It's been three and a half weeks, Remus. That was our plan. I still like you. What do we do now?" Sirius sounded desperate. Remus sighed. "Can we be friends again?"

"We didn't stop, Sirius."

"Felt like it to me."

"You're right. I'm a damn hypocrite. It bothers me tremendously."

"It bothers me, too."

"Really?"

"Yes. Why can't I like someone dashing, someone so unbelievingly good-looking that you'd swear he was a Greek god or something. Yet, that fellow'd most likely be shallow; an easy screw for sure, but not very bright..." Sirius appeared to be thinking.

"Why don't you like someone dashing?" Remus spoke a question that'd been eating at him.

"I think you're dashing."

"No, I'm not."

"You're just nice." Sirius leaned back into his seat, content, placing a hand on Remus's knee and squeezing. "You're just nice."

"I think you're nice, too, Padfoot." Remus closed his eyes. "But I'm not gay or anything. So, I'm sorry."

"I know, Moony. My Moony."

Sirius yawned and adjusted so that he was on his side in the chair, hands placed beneath his head.

Remus gazed at his friend, breathing in and out, chest expanding. In. Out. In. Out. In. Out.

"If I was a ponce, then my life would truly be crap."

---

"I wanted to show you something," Sirius said for the billionth time.

"You keep stepping on my foot."

"I'm sorry. It's urgent, though."

"Does James know we have this thing?"

"He better not; it is invisible, after all, and I have the Map."

"You're kidnapping me. Gonna rape me in The Shrieking Shack?"

"It is at the top of my priorities, yes."

"You took the joke too far."

"You started it."

"But I'm not the fairy."

"That's true, I am fairy-ish. Look."

"What…? Oh my God!"

"Ace, right?"

"It's brilliant! What's with all those stars?"

"They're lining up. All the professors are doing something tonight because of them. I overheard them talking about it."

"Why'd you take me to see this? Why not James or Peter? Trying to seduce me?"

"Yes, yes. I figured I'd show you stars, and then you'd be all mine. Four months of turning me down, but a line of stars, yeah, that'll get you."

"All right, then. Why did you take me out here? Really?"

"Really? Because it's late; James and Peter are asleep. And I also thought that you were the only one who could appreciate this."

"I do. It's gorgeous."

"Isn't it?" Sirius smiled dreamily before suddenly and quite ungracefully plopping legs-crossed onto the ground.

"Ugh."

"What?"

"You sat down."

"So?"

"I'm attached." Remus tugged the cloak to emphasize that he too was underneath it.

"Oh, ha. I forgot." Sirius smiled as Remus adjusted himself on the ground next to him.

"I'm not letting go of this cloak for the life of me. It's freezing."

"Here, let me warm you up."

"If it wasn't so creepy that you're all over me, I'd ask you not to stop. You're quite warm."

"I'll make it less creepy, here---"

"It's still a little creepy, even if you are a dog, but… It's better than nothing, I guess. Let's look."

Remus sighed.

"I love the stars."

Padfoot barked in response.

"Thank you for taking me to see this, Padfoot… I know I told you my mum liked to look at stars with me, but that was back in first year, and I thought you'd forgotten."

Another bark came from Padfoot.

"I should've known you'd never forget anything I tell you."

Padfoot jumped up onto Remus, resting his paws on Remus's shoulders and licking him right along the face. Remus chuckled.

"I'll take that lick across the face as a sign of affection and not molestation, just for your sake."

An onset of whooshing signified that Sirius was returning to his human form.

"Remus?"

"Yes, Sirius?"

"Why can I lick you as a dog and not as a human?"

"Less creepy. Unless you tell me it gets the dog off, then it's kinda creepy."

"No, like this---"

"You, you just licked me!" Remus couldn't hide his shock. Sirius could play that way with James and James just shrugged it off. He would do it to Peter just to make him squirm, but he never, ever played that way with Remus.

"Don't sound so affronted, I meant it as a sign of affection!"

"No, you didn't! Ugh! Stop…stop..stop---Umph…Oh."

Sirius pulled away from Remus, his eyes darting back and forth from Remus's lips to his eyes. "You just kissed me."

"You stuck your tongue in my mouth!" Remus defended himself.

"I gotta—I gotta split, Moony." Sirius shook his head and turned back into a dog.

Before Remus could speak, Sirius was gone, off into the night, now only a tall black dog running into The Forbidden Forrest.

Remus held his head in his heads and sighed.

---

Part one is Waiting a Long Time

Part two is If I Get There

Part four is Ready or Not