Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters, events and/or places that are recognized as being written and created by J.K. Rowling. J.K. Rowling owns all the characters and places from the Harry Potter books including the ones used in this story.
"…six, oh my God, seven, eight, nine, one more….TEN! No!" James and Sirius brake off with wild laughter. Peter stares at them like a king, ten Dragon Puff cereal balls stuffed up his left nostril. It hurts like hell, but seeing James and Sirius come undone with their heads banging against the table, makes up for the slight nose bleed he'll have all day.
"I can't even look at you," says Sirius, rubbing under his eyes. "That was insane."
Peter ducks under the table to extract the cereal. He does a quick count to make sure he got them all, then sits back up. "Who's next?" he asks.
"Prongs," squeals Sirius.
"Prongs," says Peter, gravely. "I dare you to…." He looks at Sirius for help.
"Belch in McGonagall's face." Sirius's smile is illuminating and Peter and James laugh with shock back at him.
"OK!" James gets up from his seat so fast his shoe catches on the bench and he trips. Before he leaves, he reaches blindly into his school bag and pulls out his Transfiguration textbook. Peter and Sirius watch, hook, line and sinker, as James makes his way to the Professor's table, stands there in front of Professor McGonagall. They watch McGonagall's face go from mild curiosity to sudden boiling outrage. They watch James turn on his heel and walk calmly back to the table. "Yeah," he says as he sits down. "I have detention the rest of the week."
"Excellent," says Peter, though they all know nothing'll top ten cereal puffs up the nose. "Padfoot's next."
Sirius beams. Already he was dared to sit down next to Snivellus at the Slytherin table and act like they were best friends forever, eat a piece of bacon they saw Hagrid drop on the floor and step on, and tell Putrid Penelope of Ravenclaw that he had the hots for her. Breakfast Dares is a fun game they love to play and they love to play it especially when Remus isn't there refusing to participate and scowling at them.
"Fun's over," says James. Sirius follows James's eyes over his shoulder.
"I can sit somewhere else," says Remus, sitting down next to Sirius. "Breakfast Dares?"
"Yes and oh my God you missed it!" James starts tapping Peter on the shoulder, but can't talk; memories of Dragon Puffs constricting his throat.
"I see." Remus reaches down into his school bag. "Here, Padfoot." He hands Sirius a thick roll of parchment. He's not smiling, but it's an act.
Sirius drops his fork onto his plate with a rattle of metal against glass. As he unfurls the parchment, reads the tiny cursive words, his smile widens drastically. "Oh Moony," he whispers. He looks at Remus. "Are you…really?"
Now Remus does smile. He shrugs one shoulder. "It wasn't your fault you had detention last night," he says. It wasn't. Remus was there and Snape totally set Sirius up to get caught by Filch. Granted, Sirius is an easy target, but in the end Sirius didn't deserve it.
"Oh dear God is that his essay?" James is almost standing, peering at the parchment still clutched in Sirius's hands. He slams back into his seat. "Remus, you're letting him copy your Potion's essay?"
"Well." Remus doesn't look up from scooping eggs onto his plate. "I hope he'll change the words around-"
"I will, Moony! I will. I promise." Remus doesn't let anyone copy his homework. His essays are practically password protected and unless one of them was violently sick in the infirmary would he ever offer them otherwise.
James gapes at him. "Ihave had plenty of undeserved detentions-"
Peter coughs loudly.
"Fine. Whatever." James shoves half a pancake in his mouth and directs his angry chewing at Remus.
"Moony, I…I don't know what to say." Sirius bends down to carefully place Remus's essay into his bag. He has a twenty minute study break next before Potions and now he doesn't have to come up with a sixteen inch essay all by himself; which is a form of torture in some countries. Sirius, in one movement, straightens up and wraps his arms around Remus's neck. "Thank you, thank you, thank you," he chants against Remus's shoulder. And it tickles Remus's skin and tickles his insides in a funny way.
Pulling back from him, Sirius is all smiles. "I just-can't-you-thank you. I love you. I worship you. Thank you so much, Moony! I've got to…how can I repay you? What can I do to show you how much this means to me?"
"You can kiss him." James's voice rings in their ears long after it stops.
"What?" whisper Remus and Sirius together. Sirius still has his arms around Remus's shoulders.
Peter snorts into his juice. "Do it, Prongs," he says, nudging James in the arm.
"It is your turn, Padfoot. I dare you to kiss Remus." James sneers, wild haired, wild eyed, and frightening.
A very, very long time ago, or first year, James and Sirius invented the rule that if they were dared, ("they" meant the four of them; Remus was included without his consent), and the daree backed out, a certain wet spot would appear on a certain trouser area and no matter what they did it wouldn't go away for the whole day.
Sirius looked down at his crotch.
Remus rolls his eyes. He was simply going to tell Sirius to give him the rest of his bacon. That would have sufficed as a thank you to Remus. Extra bacon? You're welcome. He didn't want a scene. Everything had to be a scene with James. And Sirius. This was why Remus wasn't surprised at all to feel Sirius's fingers grasp his chin and turn it. Turn his face until his whole outlook on the world consisted of Sirius's forehead.
Sirius is contemplating and concentrating. A smile filters softly across the edge of his lips. He leans foreword.
There's a dragon in Remus's chest. In Sirius's chest too. And it erupts with sudden long flames. Red hot flames spreading through their bodies. Becoming their blood. Boiling their bones. It scorches their insides, and lights them on fire in a thousand different ways. And it's smoky and warm and they never felt like this before. Like alive all over.
Everything jolts to a stop. Remus's eyes open, though he doesn't remember closing them. With a pop, a smack, his mind collides back into place. He wants to pant. Pant like the wolf he is because he can not seem to get enough oxygen into his lungs. Sirius is back to being a close blurry figure and Remus watches his forehead crease. Sirius starts laughing.
And James and Peter are laughing. But they're really laughing. Laughing like two people how just dared their best friends to kiss each other. Laughing like two people who just saw something hilarious.
Sirius's laugh is nothing like Sirius's laugh. It's not wild and barking and head thrown back. Remus doesn't know what it is.
He does know what it is.
"That. Was. Better. Than. The Dragon Puffs," huffs James. His breathing is sporadic. "Best dare ever?"
Peter nods, his face a bright red cherry of delightful amusement. The bell rings for class and Remus gets up casually. "Got to go to Runes," he mutters. He looks up at Sirius. Sirius looks at him. And when James finally comes around and pulls on Sirius's hair do they blink
A week later arrives and Remus is sitting amongst the rest of Gryffindor, watching their team hopefully not lose the last Quidditch match of the year. Gryffindor versus Hufflepuff. It's a shoo-in.
Remus is about ready to start listing all the other things he could be accomplishing (like studying for O.W.L.S!) instead of sitting on a hard bleacher out in the sun, when a chorus of excited whoops and hollers rings through his ears. Peter is the loudest. He grabs blindly at Remus, hauling him up by his collar.
"We won," he screams. "There's Prongs!"
Hands are reaching up for James as he swoops towards them, not caring if they pull him off his broom. He manages to yell "Moony! Pete! Lockers!" before he is forced to flee the scene.
Remus and Peter squirm in and out of the throngs of student spectators and down to the Gryffindor Locker Room.
Twenty more minutes of pointless time wasting, (Remus is a little on edge about his upcoming exams), and Sirius and James spring forth from the locker room. Peter jumps up and down and James joins him. "I love winning," says James, spinning Peter around.
Remus laughs, shaking his head, and falls in step next to Sirius as the four start back up to Hogwarts.
Ahead of them, James is rehashing every awesome detail from the match to a bated Peter. "It was a really good game," says Sirius.
"Yeah." Remus is praying that Sirius doesn't ask him any questions because paying attention to what was happening on the pitch was something Remus wasn't doing.
Sirius coughs. "You didn't have to come."
"Padfoot." Remus turns his head to look at Sirius. They lock onto each other but they don't stop walking, simply using James's voice as a guide. "Of course I…I mean, I wanted to come."
"And you said you'd break all my quills and maybe even my fingers if I didn't, and I quote, join the normal people and watch the last match."
"I was playing with you, idiot! I can't believe…you hate watching Quidditch."
"No, I don't."
"I bet you snuck a book in, right?"
"You watched the game?"
"Yes! I was watching you the whole time!"
"Well, that was dumb. I didn't do much. …I felt distracted."
"It didn't look that way. You were excellent. Smacked a lot of those bladgers."
"Forgiven as always. I'm sorry to take you away from studying. Really."
"Don't be sorry, Sirius."
"But, I feel bad. And you let me copy your essay last week! And I got an E because you worked really hard. Making you come to the game was a bad way to say thank you."
"…you already said thank you."
"I needed a break and it's nice to be…I'm not going to have much time to just talk until exams are over and then it'll be summer and who knows if I'll see you. Padfoot?" Remus stops walking. "Where are we?" He looks around. There are trees and bushes and foliage all around them. In between two large oaks, Remus can see the path they were on, twisting up towards Hogwarts. "Where did Prongs and Wormtail go?"
"I dunno," says Sirius. They face each other. Remus can't tell if he's moving or if Sirius is moving, but he can feel the Earth moving. And he can feel Sirius's hot breath on his nose. And he can feel Sirius's mouth, as it presses soft against his own.
One time, Remus had a dream where he was falling. First he was on a broom and he was up so high; the atmosphere was a thin and hazy sea. The moon was right there. Full and blinding and Remus had tried to reach it, tried to rip it from the sky. He lost his balance then. And he started falling. Falling down, fast. The moon slipping away as the layers of atmosphere got thicker and soup thick and constricting. Then they were just clouds, and there was nothing between Remus and hard ground. He remembers panicking, clawing desperately at air, feeling scared and hopeless. He remembers closing his eyes tight, deciding there was nothing he could do. Anticipation filled his dream body. Hot wired nerves spiking his heart rate until it was beating so hard, pounding in his chest. He felt it in his sleep. He felt his stomach lurch and bubble and soar and drop and clench and erupt. Everything was moving with a momentum that was addictive. He feared the drop as much as he was eager to fall again. His body was pumping desire and adrenaline. An inch from the ground, he woke up, panting and shaking, thinking nothing was ever going to feel like such a rush.
He was wrong.
That's what this kiss felt like.
Sirius's mouth leaves his, cool air slipping in between their lips. It took two more seconds for them to quickly leap away from each other. Breathing like they just came up from a deep dive with no oxygen tanks.
"Hey! Come on, guys!" James comes galloping towards them.
"We're missing the victory party," shouts Peter from the path.
It doesn't take much else for them to follow James and Peter. They don't walk next to each other this time. It's June and Remus is sweating, but he feels cold and suddenly misplaced.
O.W.L.S are over. Done. And after days of late night study crams and waking up with a cold sweat because he couldn't remember how to brew a Strengthening Solution, Remus is finally ready to make sweet love to sleep.
But, apparently, sleep isn't in the divine plan.
"Are you awake?"
Remus pulls back his curtains as an answer, and Sirius crawls in. He sits cross legged next to Remus, fiddling with the bottom of his t-shirt.
Remus moves over. "You want to lie down?"
"Yes." Sirius shifts quickly so that he's lying next to Remus in a perfectly aligned parallel. Remus waits for Sirius to break the silence. He doesn't have to wait long. "Think you did good?" blurts Sirius.
Remus sighs. "Nix the small talk, Padfoot. What's the matter?"
Sirius sighs even heavier than Remus did. "James is mad at me."
"Because of what happened with Snape?" Remus feels Sirius's head nod against the pillow they're sharing. "Why? You didn't tell Prongs to hang Snape upside down."
"No, but I started the whole thing. I was bored and I made him…And then Evans…Moony, can I ask you a question?"
"Of course." Remus's head turns slightly to the side, left hand curling under his cheek.
Sirius tilts his face to look at Remus and whispers "Am I bad friend?"
"Sirius," says Remus in a voice filled with soft shock.
"Remus," says Sirius. And he rocks his body sideways suddenly, pouring himself over Remus's torso. "Remus," he whispers again.
Remus's heart races with his mind. He wishes he was on the ground, so he can grab onto real solid Earth. Instead he digs his nails into Sirius's hips. He wants his heart to stop so he reaches up for Sirius's mouth because he knows that'll do it.
But kissing Sirius is like electric shock therapy.
They pull back to breathe, resting forehead against forehead. Sirius whimpers and rolls his head down, nose against Remus's nose, then rolls again, now mouth against mouth.
Remus knows now what it must feel like to be lightening. First it's just two molecules of tightly wound solar energy and elements and rain and ice. There's a shift in the air and the two molecules collide, striking with a charged heat, erupting, and with a sudden burst of energy like nothing else there's an explosion of electricity leaving streaks of white hot light in its wake.
Remus has streaks of white hot light bursting behind his eye lids whenever Sirius's tongue collides with his own.
Sirius's mouth rips away from him like a static charge. "Are you gay, Remus?" he asks.
"No," pants Remus. "Are you?"
"No." Sirius groans, falls down, and nuzzles his face into Remus's neck. "It's just you, Moony."
Remus's eyes flutter closed.
Sirius kisses him. "It's." Sirius kisses him. "It's just." Sirius kisses him. "You." Sirius kisses him, and Remus grabs Sirius's hair to stop him from moving away. If Sirius moves away Remus is going to die. Every one of his organs will cease to function. Sirius is keeping him alive; pumping his body with electric life.
A dwindling supply of oxygen causes Remus to let his mouth drop from Sirius's. Sirius uses that break to push himself violently away. He sits back against the foot of Remus's bed, and buries his face in his hands. "Why can't you be a girl, Moony?" he sighs.
Remus sits up. "If I was a girl you wouldn't want me."
Sirius laughs. And nods.
"You'd just ignore me like every other girl that goes here, in favor of James or Pete or whoever is my replacement in this alternate universe."
"No replacement," says Sirius, slipping his hands down to his lap. "It would just be the three of us and I'd be completely lost without you."
"You'd be OK."
Sirius looks at him with deep dark gray eyes. "I'm not OK." Remus scoots forward and wraps his arms around Sirius. Sirius's arms tuck themselves under Remus's, holding on with a tight force. Remus almost can't breathe. "I'm a little better now," Sirius laughs into Remus's shoulder.
"You're a good friend, Padfoot. Go to bed."
Sirius nods. As they pull back, their lips collide again likes magnets that can't help but reach for each other.
They're electricity poles, set up on a street, with wires pulsing between them, connecting one to the other in an endless wave. And even though Sirius is moving farther away to his own bed, and Remus is turning and curling and tucking himself under his covers, the power line doesn't disconnect.
It's been there the whole time. James's dare just flipped the switch, turned the power on. But Sirius knows that it was always there, for evers, plugged in and ready to go, waiting eagerly in the dark.
Remus is sitting diagonal from him in their train compartment, on their way home from Hogwarts. He's sharing a box of Bertie Bott's with James. Every time he's ready to pop one into his mouth, his head raises higher and his golden, sun golden eyes dart to Sirius's silver ones, (Silver like the moon, he thinks. And he's the sun. How fuckin' poetic of me.), and Remus smiles at him like they're sharing a secret. And Sirius smiles back because they are sharing a secret. A muddled, unusual, barely there type of secret. But a secret nevertheless.
Sirius had never felt so happy. He's leaving his favorite place. He's leaving the only people who care about him. He's leaving his security blankets and lifelines. He's returning to a place filled with darkness and death and despair. A place where he's not welcome. To a home that's not a home at all. He's returning to a family that beats him mentally, and swears at him, and curses his existence, and ignores his existence, and wishes he was dead.
And he's happy. Happy because every time he hears Remus's voice something nice shoots through his body, like the tail of a comet.
Then Remus will say something to him and there's more than a comet cascading through him, it's an entire universe banging into existence. Exploding in the pit of his stomach, spreading stars and planets and dust and fiery hot matter into every corner. He's more than alive, he's everything that's ever existed. He's Sirius on Earth pulsating with the brightest light in town just like Sirius in the sky.
And he's trying really hard not to think about the truth. About how Remus really isn't his. About how Remus might never be his. About how they both can't afford to be any different, when really he thinks that if they're already different what's one more spectacular detail? And they're not different. They're exactly how they need to be.
When Sirius walks next to Remus, it's like he belongs there. Right next to him. He belongs in that place next to Remus. And the thought makes him feel happy. So he thinks about that. Because if he thinks about his real life at home, thinks about how ever since that night after O.W.L.s ended Remus has kept a tiny distance from him, his heart will break.
Remus is curled up in his father's old armchair. Everything in Remus's house is old and worm and homey.
School has been over for two weeks now and Remus has been restless ever since. Books, his mum's television, nothing keeps his attention.
He wants to owl Sirius but he doesn't know what to say. It's hard to tell how Back Home Sirius is going to be like.
Remus stares at the bookshelf in the tiny room and is ready to get up and arrange the books in proper library format, when a dark lump squeezes itself through the tiny open crack in the window.
It's James's bird.
Forgetting about books and his parent's bad organization skills, Remus grabs the letter the owl is offering him. The note seems to have been written in a great hurry, which makes it almost illegible because James has everything except great hand writing.
Remus squints at the letter. "Moony. Sirius ran away from home…?" Remus reads that over a few more times. "He's here. You've got to come sickly, oh, quickly. I, something, can't read that…leave now." Remus looks up at the clock on his mantle. "It's late," he whispers. He reads "Sirius ran away from home" again. Grabbing a quill, Remus writes down an excuse and leaves it for his parents in case they get up and wonder where he is.
With his heart in his throat, Remus grabs a handful of floo powder and shouts "The Potter's".
Remus spins out of James's lavish fireplace and into a dark sitting room. "Prongs?" he whispers. Squinting he sees baby James waving at him from the mantle; at least he has the right house.
He pads silently through the room and out into the hallway. There's a more causal sitting room a little way down, streaming yellow light and muffled voices into the hall. Remus, chest still pounding, covered in floo powder, makes his way down. But something stops him before he takes his final step.
Its James's tired voice, and Sirius's low sobs.
"Padfoot, please. Just tell me what happened."
"I told you. I had enough of them. I left."
James sighs. "Then, why are you crying?" He sounds completely at a loss, which doesn't surprise Remus. Sirius never cries and Sirius would kill himself before he cried over his family.
"Padfoot," says James when Sirius doesn't answer. "What do you want me to do?" There's a pause. "Stop shrugging at me! Do you want me to get my mum? She'll make you feel better." There's another pause. "I don't know what to tell you! I don't know what you need!"
Remus swallows the hard scratch in his throat and finally moves.
"Oh, thank you," groans James. He moves closer to Remus. Remus can see, over James's shoulder, Sirius bent over the arm of James's couch, hands grabbing into his hair, shoulders shaking. "I don't know what to do. I've tried everything. I was hugging him for the better part of an hour, I feel horrible…Padfoot?" James turns around. "Padfoot, Moony's here."
Sirius's head springs up.
James turns back to Remus. "You always have something wise to oomph!" James slams into the wall and Remus has barely a second to realize what happened when Sirius has his arms around his body, and his nails dug into his skin, and his lips pressed against his surprised mouth.
They kiss and Remus doesn't feel restless anymore. He feels dizzy and like a thousand lights turned on at once, blinding and masking night into day. For once, Remus's senses cool down and then he feels his back pressed against the railing of James's staircase and feels everything real and Sirius.
Sirius pulls back from Remus. "Thanks Prongs," he says and sighs. "I needed that." Remus smiles. He feels that magnetic pull again and swoops down for Sirius's lips.
"You're…welcome?" James slinks past them. "Explanation. Later," he says, taking the stairs two at a time.
Remus and Sirius didn't hear a thing he said over the pounding in their ears.