A/N: This is much longer than I thought it would be, but don't let the length scare you off. It's pretty much to the point. I took liberties in guessing Hogwarts's population. I guessed 500 total students, about 300 from fourth to seventh year. If I'm way too high or too low, let me know and I will be forever grateful.
Pairings: Remus/Sirius, James/Lily, a bit of Peter/OC, and a hint of McGonagall/Dumbledore.
Warnings: Slash, one-shot, a few bad words. It's rated T for a reason.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything that you recognize.
He was going to kill Peter.
The whole thing was totally and completely Peter's fault. Every emotion and worry that had darted through Remus's mind since that fatal, beginning moment was all because of Peter. Stupid, bloody Peter.
Wait, no, Remus's mind interrupted, breaking through his irrational rage, which Remus found quite unfortunate, as it was rare that his mind got so worked up. He was actually quite enjoying the rush of hatred. It wasn't all Peter's fault. He is one of the innocent ones here, remember?
Remus begrudgingly agreed with the sensible, interfering part of his mind. He felt mollified, though, when he remembered the two who should really be blamed for this fiasco.
In reality, everything was mostly James's and Sirius's fault, but Peter still played a small part. No matter how unknowingly Peter had started it all, Remus told himself that he still didn't feel bad shooting Peter withering death glares. He would just have to remember to direct them at two other people, now.
He would kill them, too.
Everything had started nearly two months ago. Remus could remember putting pink-tinted butter on his pink-tinted toast as he wished that the bloody cruel holiday of Valentine's Day would end soon, even though it was sadly only breakfast. There had been a pile of cards and notes by his side, although it hadn't been as tall as the piles belonging to James and Sirius. The two black-haired boys had been counting cards when the fatal words were spoken by a seemingly innocent Peter, who had been watching two Hufflepuffs glance nervously at each other when the other wasn't looking, and then turn away any time they almost made eye contact.
"It would be nice if people knew who fancied them and who didn't," Peter had said wistfully. "Everything would be much easier, wouldn't it?"
Remus had looked up from his pink-tinted jam to see the pink-tinted smiles of James and Sirius start to form. Then he had dropped his head into his pink-tinted hands and cursed Peter, St. Valentine, and toast.
Now it was April 13th, and Remus was hiding in his bed, wondering how the hell James and Sirius had come up with such an unfortunately brilliant scheme from Peter's remark. Although, he had to admit, it certainly wasn't unusual. James and Sirius could dream up any idea from any remark that any person made. In fact, he could remember last year, when he had looked up from The Daily Prophet to tell his friends that it was going to rain during their trip to Hogsmeade, and Sirius and James had exchanged similar grins to the ones on Valentine's Day. Three days later, there was a controlled hurricane in the Slytherin common room that took two weeks to get rid of. That meant that Sirius and James had spent those two weeks having a jolly good time laughing at Slytherins crawling out of sleeping bags that were laid out in the Great Hall, complete with bed head and morning breath.
The fact that Remus had researched the spell and taken many pictures of Bellatrix's hair for future blackmail (although that had been Sirius's idea) hardly mattered.
Remus looked over at the clock with a sigh. Twenty-two minutes until midnight.
The past two months had been filled with research, writing, and licking. So much licking that, in fact, Remus had forced Sirius to change into Padfoot to finish it off. Understandably, Remus was scary when he was forceful. Because of that, most James's and Sirius's brilliant plan was now covered with dog slobber. It had taken them until about halfway through the plan until they had realized that magical seals were easier to use. Remus had simply blamed the Envelope Department, aka James and Sirius, for this. He had licked hundreds of bloody envelopes and would not be blamed for the lapse in common sense.
James and Sirius's idea was so simply complicated—or was it complicatedly simple? James had somehow gathered almost 300 Muggle envelopes (which was surprising, considering that James still called Muggle money "the funny looking paper with lady on the front", although Remus severely doubted that so many envelopes were collected from legal channels)—one for each student in fourth year and up—and Remus had researched the spell. Peter had charmed the ink, and Sirius had stolen the school roster.
Together, they had charmed a number of quills to write nearly 300 names on 300 envelopes, and write 300 messages on 300 pieces of paper.
Remus mentally apologized to all of the innocent trees slaughtered for this evil plan.
The plain, ordinary ink had been charmed to become Deciding Ink. On 300 pieces of paper, the Marauders had penned I ---- you. On the front, it had been addressed To: . The From line had been filled in with a student's name.
According the book that they had "borrowed" from the Restricted Section, Deciding Ink had a time release. You decided when you wanted the ink to decide, and then applied the other necessary charms for the plan to work. It was advanced magic, over N.E.W.T. level, supposedly, because of the complicated charms needed. Fortunately for them, Peter was one of the best Charms students in Gryffidor, just beneath Lily Evans and Annabelle St. James. Each of the envelopes had been charmed with three other spells besides the original charm needed for Deciding Ink, which had been tedious work for poor Peter. Somehow, though, with some help from Remus (James and Sirius were, to put it quite bluntly, arse at charms. After Herbology (Sirius held a strong, everlasting grudge against plants and all natural things green), it was their worst subject).
Now they had 300 thick, creamy envelopes stuffed with thin sheets of paper stashed beneath their four-posters, just waiting to be dragged up to the Owlery. That was James's and Sirius's job, though, thankfully. They had volunteered to do most of the grunt work, since Remus and Peter had spent time with research and charms. They were currently hauling several particularly large boxes up the many stairs, hidden beneath James's Invisibility Cloak.
Remus checked the clock again. Eighteen minutes until midnight.
Eight hours and twenty-eight minutes until Sirius Black would realize that Remus Lupin hopelessly fancied him.
Eight hour and twenty-eight minutes until Remus's life as he knew it was over.
And, no, he wasn't being melodramatic.
"Wormtail?" Remus called suddenly, sticking his head out of his closed bed hangings.
"Mmm?" Peter acknowledged, looking up from his essay.
"What is the chance of this not working? You know, the ink deciding the wrong person?"
Peter thought for a moment. He swung his legs onto the floor and reached for the Charms book that they had been using. The page that they needed was already bookmarked. He skimmed the page before saying, "Ninety-eight percent."
"Ninety-eight?" Remus repeated hopefully. Maybe he would be in that lucky two percent.
"And ninety-three for birds." Peter wrinkled his nose thoughtfully. "Apparently, they have more complex emotions than blokes do."
Remus doubted that—he knew that he would make a better patient for a therapist than three-quarters of the girls in Hogwarts. His emotions were complex enough to keep him up late at night with his head pounding and heart racing and mind yelling, "Sirius's nightmare wasn't that bad! Leave him! Now! Before you do something you'll regret!" after Sirius came to him with those wide grey eyes and that innocent expression, mumbling about a nightmare and his family and the Cruciatus Curse and how he couldn't sleep alone for the rest of the night.
Birds and (some) blokes had definitely just as complex emotions as the other. The difference, Remus discerned, was that girls were better had controlling their emotions, so they seemed more complex because their feelings weren't obviously out in the open.
Then again, Remus could look to half of the males in the school and say that they were shallower than a puddle already attacked by Sirius. And when Sirius attacked puddles, complete with obnoxious yellow boots and a bright red umbrella, they tended to be much shallower than beforehand.
"So, there's a two percent chance that the ink could be wrong?" Remus tried, trying to force his mind away from the mental image of Sirius only wearing yellow boots while jumping into a puddle.
"Could be," Peter shrugged. "Why, are you hoping to keep your affections for someone hidden?" He grinned. "Who is she?"
"No one," Remus answered quickly. "I fancy no one. Actually, I'll be surprised to see who my envelope ends up with. Probably Lily. In a purely platonic way, of course. She's the only girl that I can actually speak to without my brain beginning to hurt. Oh, yes, Lily. Lily's nice. Don't you think she's nice?"
"You're rambling," Peter remarked, amused. He crawled back into his bed, and then called from behind the hangings, "Good luck, then! I hope that you and your bird get together tomorrow, no matter how nervous you are about it!"
"My bird," Remus muttered quietly as he slipped beneath his blankets. "I wish he was a bird. Life would be so much easier if he was a bird."
Remus concentrated his thoughts on how much he liked Lily Evans before finally drifting off to sleep.
If it wasn't for damn Sirius Black invading his dreams, everything might've been all right.
Remus was twitching the next morning. He was twitching often and quite visibly, and his hands were shaking in his lap. He was chewing on his lip so thoroughly that he had managed to forget about his eggs, and his hands were too busy being clammy and damp and shaky to push the food around his plate in an attempt to fake consuming his breakfast. Sirius had been quite concerned earlier, but after Remus had flinched when Sirius had wrapped an arm around his friend, the black-haired boy had taken to sneaking surreptitious glances up from his bacon to Remus.
James sniggered as he checked his watch, as did Peter. They announced the countdown. It was officially three minutes until Remus's life was over.
The three minutes ticked on agonizingly slowly. Remus took the time to glance nervously around the room. Lily Evans leaned across the table to talk to Dorcas Meadows and Alice Nisson, and Kingsley Shacklebolt fixed a glare on a group of Firsties that that had commented on his shiny head. Snape was oozing with his pure-blood acquaintances ("Not friends," Sirius insisted. "No one, no matter how disgusting, could be friends with Snivellus.") over at the Slytherin table. Sirius was fixated on his breakfast (were his hands trembling, too?), and James and Peter were silently urging time to move faster as they stared at James's watch intently.
Remus really, really wanted to be sick.
"Ten," James counted. "Nine."
Breathe. Breathing is good.
There is a two percent chance.
Oh, what am I kidding? I'm never lucky.
I could blame the two percent chance!
Yes, that's it! I'll tell Sirius that the charm went wrong! It's brilliant!
Shit! Wait, I can't lie to Sirius!
He'll never believe me.
Goodbye, Unnoticeable Remus Lupin. Hello, Poofter in Love with His Best Mate.
I hate my life.
Every single owl from the Owlery swooped down into the Great Hall, each carrying a few envelopes. It was a vision of mass confusion, with four unconfused boys acting as the eye of the storm in the middle of it all. Whilst their classmates panicked, James and Peter whooped loudly, Sirius banged his head against the table, and Remus jabbed at his wrist with his spoon.
"Run for your lives!" someone screamed.
"It's an attack!" came another voice.
"Save yourselves from the Angry Wonky-Nosed Nufflers!" Xenophilius Lovegood yelled.
"Shut up, you bloody idiots! It's just mail!" shouted a voice of reason. It sounded suspiciously like Lily Evans, but, of course, Miss Prefect would never call anyone an idiot, much less a "bloody" one (as she would later insist during McGonagall's investigation).
"I love her," James said dreamily, both knowing and admiring that it had been Lily. Remus couldn't help thinking that when she found out that James had taken part in planning the stunt (and she would find out. She always found out), he would be in too much pain to admire her.
Sadly, when he was done being in pain, he would still think that she was the most wonderful human being on the planet.
The owls swirled overhead. Remus spotted eight snowy owls flying in the pattern that Sirius had choreographed for them. He managed a small, queasy smile as one went too far to the left and flew into the wall. Then he remembered that it was Sirius, the Sirius who was just about to find out that Remus fancied him, who had an awful sense of distance and direction, that had taught the poor, innocent owls how to bang into walls, and then Remus was back to twitching and sweating and generally being a useless blob of extreme nervousness.
When the owls started swooping over plates and dropping letters into the eggs, Remus was gripping the side of the bench so tightly that his knuckles were an unhealthy shade of white. He figured it was better than shaking, though, so he continued to grasp tightly until James shot him a concerned look. Remus just ignored his friend's glance and closed his eyes, breathing deeply.
Then the choreographed team of owls swooped down to the Gryffindor table.
Julia Strauss's letter landed in her porridge, and George Kingston's was somehow dropped down his robes. Mary Macdonald was forced to disentangle her envelope from her hair (how it had gotten stuck, she didn't know), and the owl delivering to Bruce Smith ran into his abnormally shiny forehead and knocked the poor chap out. Everything was all confusion, pain, and suffering.
Remus was hyperventilating.
"Miss Evans, Mr. Lupin, help me put a stop to this!" McGonagall yelled above the commotion. As a prefect, Remus knew that he should be attempting to end this. Unfortunately, his body refused to cooperate. Even if it did, though, his efforts would have been futile. James had a way with owls (well, he didn't instruct them to fly into walls, at least), and he had convinced them not to leave until every last letter had been delivered.
McGonagall had taken her fantastically pointy hat off her head and was waving owls away. Lily and her friends were standing on the Gryffindor table, attempting to steer the birds in another direction. Prefects, Heads, and professors were all working to get rid of the animals. In the middle of it all was Professor Dumbledore, who was sitting at the professors' table, drinking his goblet of pumpkin juice and smiling in that mysterious, Dumbledore-like way.
Remus briefly wished various homicidal scenarios on the calm old man, who had probably never been in the situation of his very male best friend finding out that he fancied him, before resuming his twitching. He had remembered that, no matter how annoyingly calm Dumbledore was, he could probably control everyone in the Great Hall with one flick of his wrist. Frankly, Remus didn't need any more problems, especially if they were caused by one of the most powerful wizards in the world.
He watched with a dull horror as, one by one, letters were dropped into the food of his surrounding housemates. Breakfast was surely ruined, but no one seemed to really care. About half of the students were screeching, screaming, and jostling each other to find a prime hiding spot beneath the table, and the other half were plucking the envelopes out of their food and regarding them with curiosity. There were only the select few, like Lily Evans and her group of friends, whom were actually attempting to do something about the invasion of owls. She looked positively livid as she fought an owl away from her bright red hair while Xenophilius chattered on about Waffle-Toes Snufflers, or something strange like that. James had muttered to his friends that Lily was such a genius that she was merely irritated that others felt the need to explain obvious (the fact that nine-tenths of everything that Lionel said wasn't true didn't register in James's mind) things to her, but Sirius pointed out that she was most likely just angry because, even while she stood on a table, Xenophilius's line of vision was slightly below hers. She had issues with her height, or, more accurately, lack thereof.
Six minutes after the invasion had begun, it was over. The owls all disappeared together, swooping out of the Great Hall in unison. Lily muttered something that sounded suspiciously like something that she should not say in front of professors, but, McGonagall, who was standing next to Lily and murmuring the exact same phrases, chose to ignore it.
People unfolded themselves from on the floor and beneath the tables, crawling back into their seats. Remus watched as James's and Peter's eyes darted around the room, gauging reactions as people began to open the envelopes. Sirius, Remus noted with surprise, was staring at his spoon and twitching slightly. It was very un-Sirius-like behavior, and Remus could only credit to the fact that some bird was going to find out that the great Sirius Black fancied her. It was still quite odd, though, as Sirius never twitched about girls. In fact, Remus could only remember Sirius twitching three times in the nearly six years they had known each other, and all three times there had been no females present.
She must really be special, Remus thought sourly. He looked around the room, wondering who she was. Maybe Felicity Doyle, a sardonic, intelligent Ravenclaw whom had made it obvious that she fancied Sirius. Or, maybe the lucky girl was someone shy and quiet, like Ella Wurther, a sweet Hufflepuff. Remus was placing his bets on Ally Spierce, a feisty, uninhibited Gryffindor. Yes, with her short dark hair and almond-shaped eyes, she was pretty and had a spirit that was so like Sirius's own. They would be a perfect couple.
Remus frowned as he remembered studying with Ally last month for an Ancient Runes exam. Sirius had shot odd glances their way for an hour, before he had finally stormed off after Ally placed her hand on Remus's arm and whispered something in his ear.
Ally, Remus thought, his chest feeling hollow. Must be.
Remus breathed deeply as he fished the envelopes meant for him out of his breakfast. He stacked them neatly by his plate and quickly counted with his eyes. Eleven. It wasn't a bad turn-out, although it paled in comparison to James's thirty-one and Sirius's thirty-five.
He looked away for a moment, watching the facial expressions of students from other houses. There was everything ranging from pleasure to disgust to surprise. There were even a few indignant shrieks, and he saw a few punches thrown by two blonde Hufflepuff girls. He actually smirked, though, when sweet, innocent, and amazingly tactless ("I've noticed that you've been sending some certain looks a certain someone's way, Mr. Lupin. It looks like your black pupils have turned starry. Now, forget about that hangdog expression. Fancying anyone is perfectly natural, Mr. Lupin," he had said in front of eight other students) Professor Greenlee tried to pull the girls apart, but had been jabbed in the jaw and was now entangled in a surprisingly scary-looking piece of bacon, a fake plant, and a bench. Remus didn't care how well-meaning the man was; he still enjoyed every moment of his professor's pain.
After completing a visual survey (forty-six people fighting, twenty couples snogging, eighteen people crying, sixty-one people with murderous expressions, to Remus's quick, averaged count), Remus turned back to his plate and lifted up his stack of envelopes to read through. He was surprised, though, to see that he was one short. There were only ten in the pile.
Shrugging, he guessed that he must've counted wrong. There were no envelopes on the floor, so he shrugged off the missing envelope and began reading through the ones that he had.
Remus started when he heard a loud whoop, and then looked up. James had jumped up from his place on the bench next to Remus and was standing on top of the table, pumping his fist in the air while simultaneously screaming and doing an Irish jig.
"Mr. Potter, get down here this instant!" McGonagall demanded. James, who was too euphoric to listen, paid her no mind.
"SHE FANCIES ME!" James yelled. "LILY EVANS FANCIES ME!"
And, with that, James jumped over seven plates, ten mugs of coffee or tea, and stepped in several bowls of porridge before launching himself to the ground and grabbing Lily Evans. Their lips were pressed together within seconds, and, thankfully, James was not hexed, as he had been the last time he had kissed her hand. Remus could hear Lily's friends grabbing a sheet of paper off the table and hissing delightedly, "It says he loves her!" as James continued to quite publicly snog Lily within an inch of her life.
McGonagall sighed resignedly. "I suppose I'll let this chaos unwind itself," she murmured before rushing over to her plate to see who she had gotten letters from. Remus didn't know whether to smile or be disturbed when Dumbledore winked at McGonagall and her cheeks colored a lovely shade of pink.
When Remus turned, his eyes locked with Sirius's, and he felt his heart leap into his throat. Contrary to many romance novels, it is not a pleasant, fluttery feeling when a large organ decides to take up residence in your pharynx. Remus choked, chugged a good bit of his tea, and decided to go back to twitching and trembling. It seemed to be the only thing that he could manage to do.
He carefully watched Sirius slide one slim, pale finger beneath the wax seal or glue of each envelope and drag it across, pulling off the seal and ripping the paper. Then Sirius would pull out the slip of paper, read who it was from, and make an appropriate facial expression. When he was done, he would place the ripped envelope and crinkled piece of paper confessing some girl's inner feelings for him on top of a piece of buttered toast and repeat the process.
It was driving Remus mad.
Sirius's nose crinkled; his eyes widened; he smirked; he smiled; he rolled his eyes. Every single letter had a different reaction. The only letter that he could clearly see that was met with disgust was from one of Bellatrix's friends, as Sirius had divulged under his breath.
Please, please, don't have that make that expression when he reads mine, Remus begged silently. Please.
After Sirius had completed his long process thirty-four times, the end was finally near. Remus felt like he was the only one that knew the magnitude of that moment, which he, in fact, was. James still had his tongue down Lily's throat, Peter had drifted over to the Hufflepuff table and was talking to his crush, Shelia Mathers, and Sirius had no idea what was going to happen. But he would, Remus realized as a slim finger slid beneath the seal, in five…four…three…two…
A bloody smile.
He was smiling.
How was the possible?
Then, it hit Remus. He closed his eyes and exhaled deeply, smiling. Things had finally worked out for him. Everything was going to be alright.
Praise that lovely two-percent chance.
At that moment, Remus decided that two was his favorite number. In fact, it was now the best number in the world, and he would physically harm anyone who said otherwise. Two had gotten him through what could have been the biggest disaster of his life, and he would forever praise the holy number of two.
When Remus snapped out of his thoughts, Sirius was slipping the letter, envelope and all, into his pocket. A small wave of disappointment flowed through him as the little voice in his head began to nag him.
Now he's going to date Ally, it said mockingly. And you're going to be left all alone…
Sighing resignedly, Remus opened his first letter, his finger sliding beneath the seal much like Sirius had done. After he got through all eight, he had tallied letters from three Ravenclaws, three Gryffidors, two Slytherins, and two Hufflepuffs. Even though the letters from the Slytherins had made him cringe (just because he thought that they shouldn't be hexed for simply existing didn't mean that he liked them), he decided that it was a good enough turn-out.
He glanced around the room to check on his friends once again. James's hand was in a place where no hand should be inside a bustling Great Hall, and Lily's hand was in another certainly surprising place. Peter and Shelia had their fingers laced together as they leaned in closer at the Hufflepuff table. And, across from Remus, Sirius was still smiling in that way that made Remus feel relieved and jealous and angry and nervous and flushed all at the same time. By Godric, Sirius's eyes had even lit up. Remus chewed on his lip as he imagined all of the scenarios of Sirius's and Ally's imminent coupling, and turned away from Sirius's bloody smile, concentrating on the floor.
It was a shame that he hadn't been able to tell who, exactly, Sirius was smiling about.
"Bloody…stupid…Peter," Remus huffed as he pushed his way through snogging couples. "Bloody…stupid…James." He accidentally stepped on someone's hand (who snogged on the floor in the middle of a bloody corridor anyway? Why couldn't they join the other slightly more respectable hormonal couples groping against the walls?). "Bloody…stupid…damn…gorgeous…Sirius."
Remus, understandably, wasn't in a good mood. Even though it was a Wednesday, Dumbledore had declared that all classes were canceled to celebrate the admittance of young love. Remus had felt like delivering a right-hook to Dumbledore's nose, but had refrained. Now, though, he was wishing that he had done something drastic to land him in an empty, locked room for the rest of the day. Because of this "admittance" (Remus didn't think that their scheme, which had, in theory, involved more heartbreak and pain than snogging, could be constituted as an admittance), couples were shamelessly snogging in corridors, doorways, and out of doors. Even some third years, whom hadn't been included in this stupid, stupid scheme, had been sparred into admitting their crushes, and had joined among those who were shamelessly snogging. Sadly, Remus had also spotted many first and second years smiling shyly and clasping hands as they stepped over their snogging elders.
"Everyone but bloody me is happy," Remus muttered to himself. "Everyone got who they wanted."
He wondered briefly what it would have been like if Sirius had gotten the letter. Oh, who was he kidding? There was nothing to wonder. Sirius would first let out a bark of laughter, thinking that it was all a prank, then slowly realize that the prank was that the envelopes couldn't lie, so it couldn't be some silly joke pulled by Remus. Then Sirius would look up at Remus was questioning, sympathetic eyes, excuse them both from the table, and attempt to fathom the situation with Remus before bolting, unable to handle the fact that his male best mate fancied him.
Although, maybe, maybe, there was a tiny, small, justalmostpossible chance that Sirius could…returned Remus's feelings? He obviously didn't really, as his letter had probably gone to Ally Spierce, because it certainly hadn't landed in Remus's breakfast. Still, though, there could have been…something...maybe? Remus didn't know what he could hope for, what was even plausible. What was classified as hope or hopelessly false hope. He just really wanted…Sirius.
He really wanted Sirius, but would never have him.
Remus grumpily told the Fat Lady the password (it had been changed to foetus amor for the occasion) and maneuvered through the crowded common room. He stormed over to the stairwell and began to stomp up the stairs. He didn't notice that there was someone near the top of the stairs until he nearly tripped over one Sirius Black.
"Wotcher, Moony," Sirius offered quietly, looking up at his friend with lined gray eyes. "Want to sit?"
"Why are you sitting on the stairwell?" Remus asked as he lowered himself onto a step two below the one that Sirius was sitting on. He tilted his body so he could meet Sirius's eyes, which seemed particularly stormy. They were a shade or two darker than they had been earlier that morning.
"Prongs and the redhead are in our dorm," Sirius said bitterly. He played with a loose thread on the sleeve of his robes, dropping Remus's gaze and looking down. The whole school knew that Sirius hated Lily Evans for taking away his best friend's attention. Now that it seemed like James and Lily were finally together, Remus doubted that the hatred would lessen anytime soon.
"They're shagging," Sirius continued. "At least, that's what it looked like they were about to do when I left. I couldn't handle being in there anymore."
"I'm sorry," Remus said softly, reaching up to clasp Sirius's shoulder with a reassuring hand. "He's not going to leave you, you know. You're still his best mate."
"He finally has the girl of his dreams." Sirius shook his head sadly, drowning in the realization of it all. "He's going to move on from us all."
Remus opened his mouth to say something, and then closed it again. He couldn't think of the appropriate thing to tell in the situation. He couldn't even come up with something appropriate to tell himself. Instead, with Remus's lips resignedly pressed together, they sat in silence, Remus's hand still resting on Sirius's shoulder.
It was a few minutes later when Sirius's tentative voice broke the stretch of quiet. He lifted his head slightly so he could meet Remus's eyes. Remus inhaled deeply, already feeling the gravity of Sirius's impending words.
"I am a prat," Sirius said finally, his voice thick. "The worst kind of prat there is."
"There's nothing new there," Remus said in what he hoped was a light voice, although he could sense the weary heaviness of his tone.
"No." Sirius shook his head, biting his lip and looking away. "It's…" He trailed off, and was silent for a moment, thinking. Finally, he decided on his words. "I got it. Your letter, I mean. From today. From the plan. I…got it. And read it. Seven and a half times."
Remus forgot how to breathe.
He could remember the few minutes ago when he had been wishing that Sirius had gotten his letter, because maybe then, there would have been a slim, tiny, nearly nonexistent chance that he would have been able to spend the day snogging someone instead of bitterly glaring at every other happy couple. Now he realized how bloody daft that wish had been. Not only was the hope, of course, completely false, but he now felt like he was going to be sick. He was light headed, his hands were all cold and clammy and doing that bloody shaking thing again, and he really, really wanted to remember how to breathe, because he realized, in the long run, that particular skill would be of some use.
Finally, when he choked on a bubble of air and coughed loudly, he was happy to return to the Land of the Breathing.
"Y-y-you read it?" Remus managed to stammer. He wanted to attempt to pretend to be cool and collected, but, face it, he needed all his brain power to remember the concept of breathing and the action of speech, never mind the thoughts that went along with opening your mouth and forming words. He would simply go into overload if he had to act, too.
"Erm, yeah," Sirius said awkwardly, still picking at his loose thread. "And that's why I'm such a prat."
"I'm…eh…confused," Remus admitted. Even now, Remus knew that there was no was that his extremely embarrassing, ohMerlinmylifeisover letter did not make Sirius a prat. If anything, Sirius should be realizing that he was a clever, witty, gorgeous bastardthat unconsciously seduced best mates.
"I'm…well…see…" Sirius closed his eyes, once again carefully searching for the correct words. The result of his search this time, though, proved to be extremely fast and ineloquent.
"My letter…" he began again, then opened his eyes and inhaled deeply before saying, "JamessnatcheditwhenyouwereturnedaroundandI'msorrythatI'msuchacowardbutyouknowhowmuchofapratIamandIwillforeverbesorryforbeingsobloodypathetic." He finished his thought in such a rush that Remus felt his head spinning as he tried to translate Sirius's words into English. When he finally did, he could only utter one thing.
"From my pile?" Remus's eyes were wide, questioning, and, although he didn't want to admit it, hinting at a pale glimmer of true hope.
"Yeah," Sirius confirmed, nodding sadly. He tilted his head to the side. "I'm so damn sorry, Moony. I was such a coward when I first realized that my letter would end up in your pile, and your letter came…I was so happy, but then I felt really bad about what I had done. Well, what I bribed James to do, since he was sitting next to you."
"Your letter went to me?" Remus said quietly, his voice heavy with disbelief, still wishing to clarify that no, he was not insane and that Sirius Black's confession letter had been sent to him.
"Yes." Sirius puckered his lips and exhaled deeply. "To you." He pushed his hand into the pocket of his robes and retrieved an envelope. Remus's name glinted on the front in Deciding Ink. It was purple, obviously written by Sirius's own charmed quill (Sirius wanted to use colored ink for his), and Remus's chest filled with this odd warmth.
Now Remus's hands were shaking with a whole new emotion: eager anticipation. The letter was actually meant for him. Not Ally. Not a pretty Ravenclaw or a sweet Hufflepuff. Sirius was quite possibly gay and he quite possibly fancied blokes and he quite possibly fancied Remus and it was unbelievable and, Merlin, Sirius could fancy him!
Remus tore open the envelope and fumbled for the sheet of paper. Once he found it, he quickly unfolded it. His eyes went directly to the middle of the page, where Sirius's enchanted quill had written in thick, purple Deciding Ink. His eyes quickly darted over the three words etched in the middle.
"What does it say?" Sirius asked curiously, his eyes flicking back and forth from the paper to the wall, as if waging a war on what they should look at. Finally, they decided on Remus's face. "I wasn't quite sure what it would write…I was having a bit of trouble deciding, myself, and I didn't want to open it…"
Wordlessly, Remus tipped the paper so Sirius could read it. The black-haired boy let out a low whistle, rubbing the back of his neck. His gaze shifted to the wall, then back at Remus, then down to the page again.
"Wow," he murmured. "Oh, Merlin, wow."
Across the middle of the page, written in Sirius's unmistakable purple, charmed ink, was I love you.
Remus had watched the enchanted quills write in the same form for hours. I you. The list of decisions they had chosen had been fill-ins like love, fancy, am hopelessly attracted to, am totally obsessed with, really want to shag, and tolerate. Never during any of those hours, though, when Remus's tongue had been coated with that damn Muggle envelope glue, or when he had been yelling at James for not thinking of using a seal earlier, had he thought that the fill-in would be sent to him by Sirius. He had wished, hoped, even dreamed a bit, but hadn't given any actual thought to the real possibility of it happening until earlier today. Even then, though, it had been entirely hypothetical, and he had believed that it would be more likely that Filch would handcraft a Marauders statue out of used chewing gum and force every student to bow down to it hourly while murmuring soft praise to the group of Gryffindors. And now that it had actually happened, minus the bubblegum statue and bowing, Remus, frankly, had absolutely no idea how to react.
Fortunately, Sirius took care of the reaction for him.
The second Remus looked up from the paper, he saw Sirius's face looming inches away from his own before lips had swooped down and pressed against his in a kiss. It was warm and wet and there were teeth and oh Merlin, is that a tongue, but it was perfect in so many ways that Remus couldn't, wouldn't, even begin to describe.
If he had thought breathing was difficult before, it was now the equivalent to climbing Mt. Everest without an oxygen tank.
Nearly impossible, unless you were really experienced.
Considering that Remus's snogging experience with blokes was minimum, his snogging experience in all was minimum, and his snogging experience with Sirius had been, until just recently, none, he did not consider himself to be at all experienced.
He wouldn't have made it up the mountain alive.
"Moony? Merlin, Moony, are you alright?" Sirius asked frantically as he pulled away, finally noticing his friend's complete lack of oxygen intake.
"F-f-fine," Remus stuttered as oxygen flowed into his starved lungs. "Just fine."
"I'm sorry," Sirius said hurriedly. "Sorry, sorry. I shouldn't've done that, should I?"
"It was fine, Padfoot," Remus assured him. In truth, it had been much more than fine: it was fantastic, wonderful, unbelievable, and abso-bloody-lutely perfect.
"Can I see the letter?" Remus asked quietly, suddenly. Sirius looked at him, confused. "The one from me to you."
Sirius reached into his pocket again and handed Remus the rumpled paper enclosed in the torn envelope. Remus deftly pulled out the letter, smoothed it against his knee, and skimmed the writing.
"The two-percent chance," Remus murmured, looking up.
"Wha?" Sirius asked ineloquently, confused.
"Peter said that there was a two-percent chance that the spell could be wrong. That it could choose the wrong person, or the wrong word," Remus explained.
"What? Hold on—oh, bugger." Sirius's eyes widened when he realized what Remus was trying to explain. "Oh, shit, it was meant for someone else, wasn't it?" His expression was one of pure horror. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm so, so sorry! Please, Moony, please, I promise I'll never kiss you again, never ever. And I'm sorry and I thought that you fancied me and I made a mistake. I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm—what in the world are you doing?"
Remus had fished a Muggle ballpoint pen out of his pocket whilst Sirius had been prattling on. He was now crossing out the middle word in the phrase written on his letter to Sirius.
I fancy you it now read.
Sirius was bewildered when Remus began to write another word above the crossed out one. Wait, hate didn't start with an l. Was Remus going to be creative and use loathe? There was the o…hold on, there was no v in loathe…
Silently, Remus handed the letter back to Sirius, who clasped it with trembling hands, reading over the words although he already knew what they said.
"You—you mean?" Sirius stuttered, looking Remus in the eyes. "You…you do too? You do?"
"Yes, Pads," Remus said with a small smile. His breath was coming quite easily now. "I love you, too."
"Thank Merlin," Sirius breathed before he attacked Remus with his lips, pushing the tawny-haired boy against the wall whilst snogging him thoroughly.
As the letter fluttered lazily down the staircase, propelled by the rush of air from the newly opened dorm door, Remus smiled against Sirius's lips.
Maybe he wouldn't kill Peter, after all.
"Finally," he heard James breathe from the top of the stairs. "Finally, they got together."
Come to think of it, James could live, also
"Did anyone ever tell you," Sirius murmured huskily, nipping on Remus's ear, "that you look absolutely adorable when you are being snogged senseless on a staircase?"
As for Sirius…
"No, I don't think I've ever heard that before," Remus said, grinning mischievously. "Why don't you carry on? Who knows how I'll look after other various, more interesting, activities taking place on this staircase?"
"Mmm, I think I'd like that," Sirius muttered thoughtfully, his grin matching Remus's.
…he had much better uses whilst alive.