A/N: Here it is, finally. It has officially been declared that I am the worst updater ever. Your planning for my demise may commence now.

I'm starting to write chapters a bit ahead, so that they'll be prepared for an update a lot faster. Hopefully this will work out better. Chapter six is ready to be posted, but I'll wait for a few reviews, first. Thank you to everyone who has read this story, so far! I really appreciate your feedback, even if I'm shit at showing it. (:

-Carli

xxxxx

Never explain—your friends do not need it, and your enemies will not believe you anyway. -Elbert Hubbard

Chapter Five
The Tension and the Terror

"All the possibility and promise
Just weighs on me so heavily
And I try but I'm not convinced
And your lips they pout and twist
And I'm done trying just to
Keep myself from kissing you."

xxxxx

"Reeeemussss."

Go away.

"Mooonyyyy."

Fuck you.

"C'mon, it's past noon. You've had enough sleep." I felt the mattress sink beside me as Sirius sat down, grabbing my shoulder lightly and trying to flip me over. But I pressed myself into the sheets and the pillow into my face, refusing to move.

"Go away," I moaned against the cotton pillowcase, feeling it dampen slightly with my warm breath. Soon, though, it became rather hard to get any air into my lungs; and so I was forced to flop my head sideways, defeated and grumpy. Sirius's stupid, grinning face slid into focus as I blinked against the harsh lights.

"Morning, sunshine! I was starting to think you'd died or something," he crooned airily, clapping his hands together and jumping up from my bed as I propped myself up on my elbows shakily. I reached over to my nightstand, letting my hand scuttle around curiously for my glasses; stopping when Sirius snorted stuffily, holding them on in front of me. Before I could even say 'thanks', he bounded across the room and stepped onto James's bed.

"What are you—" I began sleepily, but I was cut off by Sirius as he tested out the mattress absently, shoving his hands into his pockets as he bounced on the balls of his feet.

"Forty fucking minutes, I've been sitting here, waiting for you to get up." I felt myself blush slightly, wondering if he had really been sitting right next to my bed the entire time. Why hadn't he tried to wake me? My stomach fluttered girlishly, and my mouth gaped open at the thought; but I was able to pass it off as somewhat of a strangled yawn. "You'd think," he continued, quite pensively, "that ten hours of sleep would suit you." He bent his knees, cocking an eyebrow lazily as he stopped bouncing. "Merlin knows it did me. I've been up for four hours." He rocketed off of the mattress, landing on Peter's, next to it. James's duvet trailed onto the floor after his foot, curling around on the wooden floor and catching on the corner of his opened trunk.

"Well, that's great for you," I muttered, rubbing my left eye and letting out a true yawn. Sirius just smirked, and pounced his way onto Frank Longbottom's mattress. If I wanted to make an idiot out of myself, I would have informed Sirius that thanks to his ever-so-delightful late night interrogations, I hadn't slept until I could see the golden light of morning seeping through my hangings and hear James rustling around in his trunk, getting ready for a rousing early Quidditch practice. But, like most sane human beings, I preferred not to make an idiot out of myself. So I restrained.

Swinging my feet to the edge of the mattress, I let my feet fall onto the shaggy scarlet bedside rug and wiggled my toes around absently. Suddenly, Sirius vaulted from Frank's bed; landing ungracefully next to me before collecting himself handsomely, as if he had not just fallen on his arse.

"So," he said calmly, holding out a hand and hauling me to my feet. "You missed breakfast. I brought you up some pancakes, but they're kind of really fucking cold, now." He waved his hand to the side, motioning to a small tray that was balanced precariously on the corner of my trunk. A glass jar stood next to the golden plate of hotcakes, a thick yellow substance filling it about halfway. I looked at Sirius.

"Mustard?" I asked exasperatedly, but Sirius just grinned wider. Plopping down cross-legged in front of my trunk, I picked up a pancake and ripped a piece of it off. It was the fluffiest pancake I had ever tasted. Granted, it was the coldest, too—but it was the thought that counted, right?

"Mmmm." I nodded, swallowing the first bit and ripping off another. "Delicious."

Sirius looked as though I had just declared him God. He jumped up and down excitedly, clapping his hands together. "I know, right?" he exclaimed, and I snorted. "I went down to the kitchens and told the house elves to make you the extra-fluffy kind."

"Ah," I said thickly, through a mouthful of food. "Those are the best sort." He nodded again, kicking a stray sock under Frank's bed and sitting down on the shaggy rug.

"So," I continued, pointing to the jar of mustard. "What happened to the rest of it?" He blushed, fiddling with a scarlet strand from the rug and chewing on his bottom lip nervously. I had never in my life seen Sirius Black blush.

"I... ate it?" he said ashamedly, and I made a peculiar sound somewhere between a giggle and a snort. He scoffed at me, folding his arms and throwing his nose into the air.

"Anyway," I asked, deciding it better to change the subject than play along with his ridiculous—albeit adorable—moping. "What's this all for, in the first place? I mean, it's not my birthday, or anything." His smile fell, and I grimaced. "Unless, of course, you decided to forget that, again?" He shook his head, looking even more offended as I continued. So I shut my mouth, and nibbled on another colossal pancake, instead. This particular one didn't seem to be cooked all the way; and cool, thick batter dribbled over my bottom lip. I left it there, and continued to stare at Sirius's affronted expression.

"Can't I do something nice for you, every once in a while?" he asked, and I noticed that he seemed to be getting a bit defensive, which was really quite rare. I threw up my hands in a surrender, swallowing again and looking him in the eye.

"I wasn't saying that there was anything wrong with it. In fact, I quite appreciate it." I shot a look at the jar of mustard, and smirked. "Well, that part's a little weird; but you meant well, yeah?"

His smile snuck its way back onto his lips, and they curved at the edges as he pulled his knees to his chest and reached onto my bed, grabbing my pillow and pulling it toward him. And then, of course, he followed the appropriate sequence of events by tossing it at my head. I fell backward onto the hardwood floor, and my pancake went flying toward the wall. I stayed put, pulling the pillow up and propping it behind my head casually.

Sirius had stretched out on his stomach now, resting lazily on his elbows with his sock-less feet in the air. He pulled a single thread from the rug, and shrugged. "I guess I just felt bad, though, to tell you the truth."

"Bad about what?" I asked, but I already knew the answer. Last night had no doubt been awkward for the both of us. Undoubtedly, he was regretting that he had ever even asked me the stupid question.

"Bad about being a nosy prick, o'course," he said, smiling apologetically. The edges of my lips twitched uncertainly, and I leaned forward to pick up another pancake before flopping back onto the pillow.

"It's alright, mate," I offered, chewing on one end of the pancake. I was starting to feel awkward again, and didn't particularly want to have this sort of a discussion, at the moment. Or at any moment, for that matter.

"No," he said. "It's not alright. I shouldn't have cornered you like that. I have absolutely no sense of personal space, I suppose. I just... I don't know. I had to ask—I didn't think about how weird it would be for you."

I shook my head. "Sirius, stop. It's fine, okay? In fact, you can just totally forget we ever even had the conversation, if you want to, and—"

"Remus, you stop!" he barked suddenly, and I froze; pancake halfway to my mouth. He ran a shaky hand through his hair, and sighed. "Just let me talk, will you? I'm trying to apologise, and the least you can bloody do is listen."

"Sorry," I whispered, lowering my hand and pursing my lips together to keep myself from interrupting.

"Don't be," he said, calming down a bit. "Just... accept the apology, yeah? I feel bad about it, and you telling me not to isn't going to fix anything." He paused, but I dared not say anything. Taking this as a cue to continue, Sirius plowed on. "Now. James has Quidditch, and then he's spending the day girl-oogling, as usual. I persuaded him to take Pete along, so you and I have the day to ourselves. I personally suggest we tap into that chocolate stash I know you keep." He was smiling again, now, and I couldn't help but laugh—his mood was contagious.

Sitting up, I flipped open the lid of my trunk and dug to the bottommost corner; pulling out a metal lock-box and my wand.

"Alohamora," I muttered, and opened the top before setting the box on the ground between us.

Sirius's eyes lit up. "Excellent," he breathed; grabbing the box of sweets and tucking it under his arm, heading for the door. "You get dressed," he told me, as he grabbed the doorknob loosely. "I'll be in the Common Room. Be quick, alright?"

He shut the door behind him, and I reached into my trunk again; pulling out a pair of denim jeans and a gray and yellow striped sweater. Pulling my pyjama top over my head and throwing it onto my bed lazily, I yanked the sweatshirt on and changed my pants. I nabbed my scarf, which was sticking discreetly from under my bed, and headed down the spiral staircase.

"You," Sirius informed me, gazing laughingly at my yellow sweater. "Look like a Hufflepuff." A giggle came from the end of the couch, and I let my gaze follow it—Tahlula was curled up against the armrest, next to Sirius. Her hair was pulled up into a lazy bun, and she was wearing a red tee shirt and a pair of black jogging pants. I sat down across from them, and Sirius put a few of my chocolate frogs between us on the coffee table.

"Look who decided to join us!" he exclaimed innocently, motioning to Tahlula. She handed him a pack of Exploding Snap cards, and sat forward.

"Mmm, great bloody coincidence that is, eh?" I mumbled, though I couldn't help but smile. The common room was nearly empty, as it was a Saturday afternoon. Most of the students were out doing something or other, although there were a few first years sitting in a corner, stressing over a Potions assignment.

Sirius slid the brand-new cards out of their pack, and began to shuffle them idly, a smirk tugging at the edges of his lips. "Don't act like you're not enjoying this, Remus," he said smoothly, dealing the cards into three messy piles. "I know that you, for one, do not care for big groups of people. And today, it's all about you, me," he paused, shooting Tahlula a glance and grinning broadly. "And your lovely girlfriend over here."

I rolled my eyes, resisting the urge to toss one of the scarlet and gold-tasseled pillows at his face. Apparently, though, Tahlula had much less self control than me; because she did just that, a second later.

"Oi!" Sirius laughed, picking up his cards and letting the pillow fall to the floor. "You should at least be able to see the humour in the situation. Merlin knows I certainly do." I scooped up my own pile of cards, scowling at the rubbish hand I'd been dealt.

"You have a terrible poker face, Remus," Tahlula noted casually, and I looked up as if to catch her in the act of hypocrisy—but her features were stony, and I couldn't tell one way or the other what sort of cards she had. Sirius, too, looked quite indifferent; save the omnipresent smirk that laced his gray eyes. It'd always been there, for as long as I could remember. I suspect if it were to disappear, so would the liveliness of Sirius's appearance. He was all dark tones and sharp features, but in a mysterious way rather than a depressing one. Black hair fell naturally over his pale face, white teeth, and signature grin that always lingered in his otherwise stormy eyes.

Tahlula glanced quickly at the top card in the centre deck, and put down an eight without any hesitation. I tried to figure whether or not she was bluffing, before checking my own hand again and shaking my head. "Pass."

Sirius shot me a quick smirk before laying down an eight, too. He flipped over the top card on the deck, and I groaned. The eight in my hand exploded with a nearly deafening snap!, the blue and gold pieces falling to the ground at my feet. Tahlula and Sirius's cards were swept under the deck, and Sirius dealt me eight cards from the top.

"Losing so badly, so soon!" Sirius said, in mock sympathy. This time I did whap him over the head with one of the throw pillows, but he just smiled even wider.

By the sixth round, I had more cards than I could hold. Sirius, on the other hand, was down to one. "One, one, one," he sang, his fingers strumming the back of the card idly as he waited for me to make my move. "One card, one card, oh I've only got one card..." He broke off, then, humming a tune that I'm absolutely sure he was improvising. It was awful.

"One card in my hand, it's oh so lonely, oh so—"

"Sirius, we're not blind, okay? We can tell how many cards you have," Tahlula snapped, and I nearly pounced on her in gratitude.

Sirius looked up innocently, batting his eyelashes in what I'm positive was an attempt to look saintly. "Oh, I'm sorry, did I say that out loud?"

The top card in the deck was a four. I had a four, myself, and I wasn't sure if I should chance bluffing. There were two left in play, and he could very well have one of them. On the other hand, I had three sixes. It was quite unlikely that he had the last one. Sirius was looking me directly in the eye, now, and it was making me squirm uncomfortably.

I shakily pulled a six from my hand, laying it flat down on the table in what I hoped was casual indifference. Sirius held my gaze for another second, before laying his card down. It was a six. The one that I had laid down exploded defiantly, knocking the other cards off of the table.

Tahlula threw down her hand, not even bothering to continue. "You, Sirius, have ridiculous foresight." He pumped his fist victoriously and began to clean up the cards. The shredded pieces of blue and gold that had been scattered throughout the course of the game—mostly surrounding my feet, of course—collected themselves and shaped into cards again, at the simple wave of his wand.

"You, on the other hand, Remus," she continued, pulling her feet up onto the couch and into her chest, once again. "Are absolute pants at lying."

Sirius let out a bark of laughter, as he forced the cards back into their box.

"I never said I was good at snap," I muttered, and Sirius chucked the bulging box of cards into my lap before sinking into the plush cushion behind his head. I tossed it, in turn, to Tahlula; who caught it gracefully and stood up from the couch.

"As lovely a game as that was, I actually have someplace to be," she said, stretching her arms toward the ceiling and yawning. She started towards the girls' dormitory, but stopped at the bottom of the staircase. "So I'm going to get dressed, but don't miss me too much." Shooting me a knowing look over Sirius's shoulder, she said cheerfully, "You boys have fun!" before bounding up the stairs two at a time.

"She's nice," Sirius said, but he seemed to be a bit distracted. All I could get in was a brisk nod, however, before he continued.

"Why are you wearing that?" he asked, motioning to where I had wrapped my maroon and gold striped scarf tautly around my neck.

"Oh, I have to," I said airily. "To hide the marks, you know? I have a very cannibalistic boyfriend."

Sirius froze. I rolled my eyes, unraveling the scarf and throwing it onto the floor. "Joking," I sighed, letting him inspect my neck. "Like anyone would want to, anyway."

Shrugging, Sirius popped a chocolate frog into his mouth. "You underestimate yourself, Remus." Apparently, my throat decided that now would be a great time to close up.

Before I could say something ridiculously embarrassing, however, Tahlula came bolting down the stairs, again, wearing a gray pleated skirt. She pulled the elastic band from her hair as she walked toward the portrait hole, letting her black hair fall about her shoulders.

"Oi, where are you going?" Sirius called, and she turned around before exiting; a huge grin plastered on her face.

"Oh, I have a study date with Frank," she said calmly, but I could see the excited glint in her eyes. I snorted.

"Frank Longbottom?" Sirius asked, his eyebrows raised. Tahlula nodded, and smiled even broader.

"She fancies the pants off him," I told Sirius, trying desperately to keep myself from smiling, too. Sirius looked confused, but I just shook my head at him. "I don't get it either, mate."

"So wait, a minute," Sirius said, hopping up off of the couch and heading toward her slowly. "Is this a study date? Or... a date where you're going to study? Each other? Meticulously?" I rolled my eyes. He had apologized to me just this morning, for being nosy; and here he was poking around someone else's business already.

"Just a study date." Tahlula frowned, twisting her fingers in the hem of her skirt. "I dunno. I might ask him if he wants to visit Hogsmeade with me, next time a weekend rolls around."

"The Saturday after next," I piped up, picking my scarf back up from the floor and wrapping it around my neck. Tahlula paled considerably.

"Oh," she said, her voice a bit more high pitched than usual. "That's... soon." Blinking rapidly, she turned on her heel and ducked out of the portrait hole without another word. Sirius sniggered and shook his head as the painting of the Fat Lady swung back into place, taking his seat on the end of the couch, again.

"Y'know," he said, nabbing another chocolate frog before leaning back and hastily ripping apart the packaging. He tossed the wizard card to the floor, seemingly disinterested. I plucked it off of the carpet and examined the twinkling blue eyes of the card's featured wizard: Albus Dumbledore. I already had about seven trillion Dumbledore wizard cards, but all the same I placed it into my pocket before looking back up at Sirius, who was now meticulously picking at the struggling frog—he always preferred to eat the limbs, first. I had nearly forgotten that Sirius had started to speak, until he continued a few moments later.

"I honestly always thought of Frank Longbottom as being strangely asexual." His eyes glittered in a nearly harmlessly malicious way, if that were at all possible. "And if we're playing the honesty game, here, then I have to admit that's what I always thought about you, too."

It took me a moment to scrounge up the proper reaction to such a statement, rather than simply allowing the ridiculous blush to creep up my neck yet again. I decided that scoffing was rather appropriate, and Sirius broke out into a toothy grin as I tried to pass the redness of my cheeks for agitation rather than embarrassment.

"But now, of course, I've got these ridiculous images trotting around my brain of you being gay and doing gay things that aren't really that gay; like baking cookies and whatnot. Isn't that weird? Even though I know you're gay, now, I still can't picture you actually fancying anyone."

I might have laughed at the vaguely confused expression that slowly overtook Sirius's otherwise careless features following his jumbled sentence, had I been a person of more patience. But I most conclusively wasn't.

"Maybe," I hissed angrily. "You should say 'gay' just one more time, yeah? For good measure." I regretted saying it the moment that it tumbled from my mouth, but it was too late. Sirius cocked an eyebrow deviously, and I gritted me teeth.

"Oh, Remus darling, you're just so absolutely gay." He flicked his wrist jokingly, and I wanted nothing more than to tackle him. And not in the way I'd wanted to for eons, either, but in a way that would end up with him pleasingly unconscious. A few of the first years in the corner looked over, as Sirius hadn't really bothered to keep his voice down. One of them giggled, and I adjusted the shiny Prefect badge on my scarf in what I hoped was a nonchalant way; my eyes fixated on the window just to the left of their table. They fell silent, and I returned my gaze to Sirius.

"You're really getting a kick out of this, aren't you?" I said, but he was preoccupied with staring at my badge, a smirk playing at his lips. I swung my feet up onto the coffee table, and he looked back up at my face, still smiling.

"Indeed I am. You know I just love to see you bothered." He stood up from the couch, lumbered across the few feet dividing us, and thumped down noisily next to me. He put his arm awkwardly around my shoulder, in nothing more than a friendly manner, but instantly my spine fused. Maybe he noticed, and was trying to pretend he hadn't, or maybe he just simply wasn't as perceptive as I thought he was. Either way, he snaked his arm back around my neck—which was, mind you, ten times worse—and placed it innocently in his lap.

"But really, isn't it nice to have it out in the open? Now you have someone to talk to about it!" I didn't even need to look at his face to understand how unexplainably excited he was.

"I had Tahlula," I said defiantly, the only other alternative being an awkward hug that would inevitably end in me burying my face into his shoulder and confessing that I was glad that it was 'out in the open', too. Well, maybe not glad—relieved seemed more like the proper term. Either way, this route called for an intense grasp of humility that I neither had nor wanted to achieve.

"Yes, but now you have someone you can relate to!" he shouted, throwing his hands into the air. My neck nearly broke whipping around to look at him, and my eyes felt as if they were going to roll right out of my skull.

He let out yet another notorious bark of laughter, and stood up before I could wrap my head around what was going on. "Joking," he assured me.

I forced a smile, wishing he wouldn't.

"But seriously," he said, and I groaned inwardly as the inescapable grin broke the sobriety of his face. "Seriously, I'm serious." He giggled uncharacteristically, and I ground my teeth together to keep myself from joining him. Again with the humility, and my lack thereof.

With an impatient wave of my hand, I motioned for him to keep talking. After dedicating a few moments to the appreciation of his overused and never-funny-in-the-first-place pun, he looked me in the eye. "Serio—"

"Sirius," I warned; leaving off the end of the sentence—"be serious"—for the sake of my sanity.

He put his palms up, in a gesture of resignation. "I'm glad that you told me. I can't say it enough."

I couldn't help but smile, now. "Me, too." With a quick glance at the first years, still huddled together, but now far more interested in us than in their homework; I suddenly glared. "Sort of. Sometimes. Almost."

"I know, I know," he sighed, lowering his hands and—with a jolt of electricity that easily rivaled a lightning storm—intertwined his fingers with my own, which were hanging limply by my side. "But you love me anyway."

Silently, I agreed.

"C'mon," he said, and again I noted the ubiquitous glimmer in his stormy eyes. Before I could even really appreciate the feeling, he withdrew his hand and began walking toward the portrait hole. "Let's go to the kitchens."

xxxxx

A/N: I hate the Sirius/Serious pun. But I have a feeling that sir Padfoot would have absolutely adored it. (: