"How did this even happen?" Remus asks irritably, eyeing the sodden dog in front of him with crossed arms.
"I'm not sure," James mumbles back truthfully, rubbing his neck uncomfortably at the sight of the black dog. "I was just taking him out for a walk, and–"
Remus turns to face James, and looks him in the eyes sternly.
"Padfoot," he addresses. "Does not need walks. He has enough activity once a month."
"I'm surprised you brought that up," James says dryly, ruffling his hair out of place, "But you cannot blame me. The dog needs as much action as any human."
"He is a human, James," Remus says, as though he's talking to a small child, "When you will grasp the concept that Padfoot is really Sirius and that Sirius is really Padfoot? You're really Prongs, but you don't see me feeding you weeds and grass, do you?"
James wrinkles his nose, and pets the dog feebly. "Fine. Sirius and I took a walk and he changed into Padfoot halfway there."
Remus rummages through his trunk, and extracts an old and tattered brush. He gently untangles Padfoot's fur knots. "That still doesn't explain why he is wet."
"Well, that is a different part of my story–"
"Ahh!" Remus yells in disgust, fingering the dirty brush as though it was riddled with diseases, "Urgh, James, he has fleas!" he throws down the brush and sends a glare at the dog, who whines loudly.
"I know. I saw that too."
Remus opens the door to the bathroom in the dormitory and motions for the dog to go inside of it. He shuts the door once the dripping tail is hidden, hissing at James.
"If Padfoot has fleas, then Sirius has fleas, and that is not a pleasant thought on a human."
James has the nerve to laugh loudly and does so. "Actually, it's quite amusing, knowing Sirius."
Remus slapped his face into his palms, shaking his head. "How are we going to explain this?" His muffled voice moans from behind his fingers.
James ignores him. "I saw the fleas on him, and then Sirius started freaking out."
Remus groans but still looks at James expectantly for more.
"And then he jumped into the lake trying to get rid of them. Padfoot, that is, not Sirius." the black-haired boy informs, standing up from the bed he was sitting on.
"This is going to be a problem." Remus says heavily.
"Well… do something. He can't have fleas forever." James pushes him encouragingly towards the bathroom door. After a sigh Remus opens it, finding Padfoot sitting obediently at the tile, his hind legs scratching at random places.
The werewolf feels a soft smile playing on his lips at the sight of the dog desperately trying to fight away the fleas, and kneels down beside it.
"I don't know where that flea medication went," he tells Padfoot gently, petting his head. "But perhaps a good wash will be good enough."
Padfoot's ears go behind his head immediately, his tail tucked beneath his legs at the sound of baths. Remus laughs at his reaction, but still drags a reluctant and flailing about dog into the nearest bathroom stall.
He's not going to go into the shower with him, because that would be awkward, and… well, he can never forget that Padfoot is really Sirius and that Sirius is really Padfoot. So whatever he does in front of Sirius or Padfoot will be monitored by both a canine mind and a human mind.
Creepy, Remus thinks dryly.
With a half-hearted push, Remus sends Padfoot skidding into the stall, and he uneasily pokes his head through the curtain, just to make sure that he's staring at Padfoot, and not a naked Sirius.
Surprisingly, he does not shiver in disgust or wrinkle up his nose, but instead he simply squirms at the thought.
With two fingers groping wildly at the button for the water to turn on (because he's going to close his eyes in case Sirius does a sudden transformation on him and Remus sees things He Does Not Want To See) and hits it blindly.
The water spurts down on top of Remus' elbow and Padfoot, who is still trying to wiggling through Remus' legs to escape the shower. He whines pathetically in the corner.
"Get yourself good and cleaned," Remus instructs to the dog sternly, before snapping closed the curtains immediately, "no… transforming on me."
If dogs could smirk, Padfoot would.
After a minute of running warm water on the dog, Remus shuts off the showerhead and lets Padfoot run loose in the bathroom, watching fur flying as water droplets latch onto the wall and stick onto his skin.
"No shaking!" Remus yells, but with no avail. Throwing a towel onto the dog and trying to tackle him, Remus eventually pats off Padfoot until two innocent gray eyes are staring into his, with the puppy-dog-look etched into them.
"You know," Remus says fondly, "I have never seen a dog with gray eyes, but I suppose that it was is so unique about you, my little furry."
Padfoot tilts his head curiously at the werewolf, before licking him sloppily on the cheek. Remus shrieks.
If dogs could laugh, Padfoot would.
"No licking! Ick!" Remus scolds playfully, wiping his cheek revoltingly. "You still are a human, Padfoot."
Sirius is really Padfoot and Padfoot is really Sirius, so basically his analogy just concluded that Sirius has licked him on the cheek.
Remus clears his throat despite the fact that his voice is fine. And then after he realizes that he's just cleared his throat for no reason whatsoever – actually, not no reason whatsoever, the licking part – oh no, and now that he's thinking about that… Remus blushes.
"All done, Padfoot," he calls out loudly, vigorously rubbing the towel on top of the dog's head, "Those fleas will be gone in no time." Remus reassures, one hand on Padfoot's snout and the other scratching by his ear playfully.
The dog barks.
"How about transforming so we can see if they're still around?"
The words hit him before he remembers saying them, and the next second Remus is only a human in a skin of crimson, his eyes wide. And another second goes by and Remus blinks and then he's staring down – no, up – at Sirius and not Padfoot even though Sirius really is Padfoot and Padfoot is really Sirius –
Stop thinking, Remus thinks snappishly.
He sucks in a breath.
He's staring down at Sirius, and there's definitely no Padfoot involved – even though there were some canine senses still shining through – and then Remus realizes that his hand is still on his face – dear god, on his cheek and in his hair by his ear –
And ohmygod Remus had forgotten that he was still naked.
In a yelp, Remus jumps back and wipes the fingers that had actually touched Sirius' skin there while he was naked on his pants as though they are covered in fleas.
And then he remembers to close his eyes.
"Go and – and get a towel. Now, Padfoot." he totally forgets everything as he's speaking and closing his eyes as tightly as though he's seen Merlin himself – and Remus mentally admonishes himself for speaking to Sirius as though he still is a dog.
But Sirius obeys.
And that does prove that Sirius is really Padfoot and that Padfoot is really Sirius.
"I – ahh, Moony, there's a flea on my wrist."
Remus needs to listen to himself and keep his eyes closed until he has double and triple confirmed that Sirius is dressed or fully wrapped in the towel like a toga, perhaps, but he listens to the Loyal-Friend part of him and grabs Sirius' wrist to check to fleas.
He flicks it off.
"Thank you." Sirius thanks with a small grin.
"There's one on your cheek." Remus points out, and the mentally chastises himself for bringing attention to that, because know he'll probably have to brush it off. Because that's being a Loyal Friend.
He hates being a Loyal Friend sometimes.
"Can you take care of it?"
Remus moves without realizing it, his fingers resting on Sirius' cheek, picking away the flea but still letting his hand be a feather light touch on his friend's face.
And as another flea crawls onto Remus' thumb, he stares fixedly in Sirius' eyes as though he was tied to them.
The toffee-method of staring.
It's as if his eyes are glued to Sirius' with toffee. Warm, wet, gooey and hot toffee that is almost impossible to lick off.
Almost unconsciously, Remus licks his lips.
The flea crawls slowly onto his arm. Sirius' eyes flicker to his elbow.
"You have a flea on your shoulder, Moony." he points out with a slight indication with the tip of his finger.
"Oh." Remus finally has an excuse to move away.
With a slight flick of the fingernail, Remus can imagine the flea squealing in fright and flying off into the air. He smiles smugly at the image.
"Take that, you little bugger." Remus murmurs under his breath.
"I'm sorry, did you say something?"
Remus looks up from the now untouched spot on his arm and eyes Sirius blankly. "To the flea," he tells him, realizing that he sounds completely brain-dead too late, "Not… not to you." Remus finishes lamely.
"So I still have them? The fleas, I mean?" Sirius asks depressingly.
"Yes. I've never known a human who has fleas, though. Perhaps they'll just… flee."
"Bad pun, Moony," Sirius informs him with a wrinkle of the face, "You need to work on your insults."
"I do not!" Remus says back in indignation, crossing his arms.
"Or perhaps witty comments," Sirius continues thoughtfully, "You use your vocabulary for the wrong reasons."
The tawny-haired boy rolls his eyes, before he sees something out of the corner of his vision and something clicks – a bad click – and his eyes widen.
"What? What is it?" Sirius asks worriedly to Remus.
"I…" Remus starts uneasily, immediately turning away from Sirius. "I see another flea. You might want to take care of it."
"Oh," he responds. "Can you?"
Remus closes his eyes tighter and furrows his brows unpleasantly. "I'd… rather not. It's on your pants," he can practically hear Sirius' eyes becoming saucers and his brain gearing into realization. It's not a pleasant sound. "I'm going to turn around now," he warns. "And when I do, I expect you to be Padfoot so I can rewash you. One… two… three."
He turns around and sees an obedient dog sitting in the corner with his ears behind his head. Remus glares at the sight, watching his heart melt at the innocent puppy eyes. "Don't do those on me, they don't work!"
"Do they now?"
Sirius is Sirius again, no more Padfoot, except that he still is sporting the awfully adorable and irresistible puppy dog eyes. Remus tries to suppress his grin but simply can't.
"No," he says with a knowing smile, "Now wash up."
Sirius becomes Padfoot again as Remus sends him skidding into the shower stall for the second time that day. There's a disapproving whine from inside the curtain, but Remus isn't going to check up on a naked dog.
Wait a moment.
Dogs are always naked.
And if Sirius is really Padfoot and Padfoot is really Sirius that means that Sirius is always naked –
Stop thinking dirty thoughts, Remus scolds himself. It's… unnatural.
It's unnatural for him to think of such things. Remus Lupin is not a dirty person. He's very very clean and he pride's himself for his hygiene in dirtiness.
Remus shakes his head from his thoughts, the babbling in his head becoming louder and crazier by the second. "Are you done yet?" he screams impatiently towards the stall.
When there's not a response, he storms forward, about to wash the damn dog himself, but the moment the curtains zip open by Remus' deft fingers, he realizes that Sirius has changed back into Sirius to wash off the fleas.
A very smart idea, to turn into human form and then wash up, Remus could have possibly even thought of it himself if he hadn't been so involved not touching him – but he didn't, so know Sirius had to think of it himself.
Remus is one daft werewolf.
For a freakishly long moment time stops and Remus finds himself staring at places he shouldn't be staring and it seems like Sirius is almost letting him – which shouldn't be happening, should it?
But then Remus' brain stops as he finds the water spilling out onto the tile and under his feet and he slips painfully on the soap, falling back-first onto the hard floor.
There's a thud, and Remus is thankful that it wasn't a crunch.
"Moony!" Sirius calls out hastily, not bothering to turn off the shower spout as he kneels beside his friend.
Remus closes his eyes. "Get dressed first, Sirius." he tells him hoarsely, ignoring the throbbing pain in his spine.
"Just grab a towel!" he squeaks, feeling Sirius' black hair dripping onto his stomach as the other boy hovers over him.
He can't hear Sirius moving.
This is going to be a problem.
"Well?" Remus demands, outraged, as he snaps his eyes open for only a second. Sirius is staring intently at something in Remus' hair.
"You have fleas, too, Remus."
But he was a human – he wasn't even partially canine, that was impossible.
Sirius starts laughing.
"Har har." Remus remarks dryly, getting up from the slippery floor and tossing Sirius a towel, which the black-haired boy ignores.
"Do you want help getting them off?"
"Getting what off?" he asks slightly worriedly.
"The fleas, Moony."
"Oh," he responds, "er." And then he has nothing else to say because then Sirius kisses him.
It's rough on the mouth and perhaps a bit wet from the fact that the shower spout is still running and drowning the bathroom, but something in Remus' head is turning at one hundred miles per hour which makes him produce a gallon of sweat with every passing second.
Did Sirius ever take care of that flea? Because Remus doesn't think that he did – he's too busy – not that Remus minds.
Not that he minds at all.
"Mmph." he offers feebly against Sirius' lips, flailing his soapy hands around in the air wildly.
Remus feels a flea crawl around on his nose, and one against his ankle, and even one crawling around where fleas definitely should never roam around, but just moans meekly in response.
Did someone send a warning message into his owl mail that this was going to happen? No. Did the neon letters on his alarm clock flash him the caution signs of DO NOT ENTER THE BATHROOM TODAY, DOOM, DOOM AWAITS YOU, REMUS LUPIN? No. There was no warning that this was going to happen.
And so now that it is, he isn't prepared.
Sirius makes a sound, and it doesn't sound like it's an 'ergh' sort of noise, so Remus thinks that he's doing something all right and continues. But the fleas are terribly spoiling the mood.
Not that Remus minds.
"What happened?" he croaks out when they separate, clinging to the wall for support. "Did – did the fleas do something against you?"
It's babble, and Remus knows that, but somehow Sirius doesn't laugh or tease or mock him, he just grins wickedly and shakes his head. "You were staring. I thought I'd return the favor."
"You were naked." Remus adds in defense of himself.
Sirius shrugs. "You have a flea on your ear, you know."
"So do you," he says, "and that's not appealing. Because now not only do you have the fleas, but Padfoot has the fleas as well."
Sirius cocks an eyebrow, swirling Remus back into his arms for a second.
"Moony," he tells him. "I am Padfoot."
"I know. It's a little creepy."
"And a little irresistible too."
And then they both shut up with their lips connecting – the fleas on their faces perfectly aligned.