Authors Note: I am definitely proud of myself. Two chapters in the same month, with a third on the way! Hopefully this will make up for my lapse, eh? Anyway, not much to say except enjoy and let me know what you think!
Who could that be? I wondered as I ran downstairs to answer the front door. Whoever was waiting was incredibly impatient. They'd knocked once and then proceeded to pound on the door without pause. It wasn't as if I was taking long, either.
I flung open the door, prepared to reprimand the rudeness of my visitor, and was brought up short by the person waiting for me.
"Blimey, it's about time," Sirius drawled, "it's bloody cold out here."
My mouth dropped open as I took in the sight of him. "Sirius, what are you wearing?" was the first thing that popped out of my mouth. He had some sort of shiny black helmet on his head, the visor pushed back to expose his sparkling eyes, which were illuminated by the nearly full moon blazing overhead. He wore a long black coat as well, which flapped and snapped in the bitterly cold wind of the December night. His hands were encased in black leather gloves and his feet and legs by knee high boots.
"Fetching, isn't it?" he asked with a cocky grin, dusting off invisible specks of dust as he did so. I caught myself nodding in agreement. He looked like some sort of fallen prince intent on seducing me. I grinned at the thought of him knowing what I was thinking. He'd be appalled.
"Yes, but why are you wearing it?" I asked again, wrapping my arms around myself in an attempt to ward off the howling winds.
"Well," he said meditatively. "What else would I be wearing when riding this?" he asked with a wicked smile, stepping aside with a flourish as he did so.
My mouth once again dropped open at the sight presented to me. I found myself drawn to it despite the freezing winter weather, pulling me towards it as I gingerly hopped from foot to foot to spare my bare feet constant contact with the cold earth. It was a muggle motorcycle, black, shiny, and alluringly dangerous.
I gave it a cursory inspection, mainly taking in the power of the thing, before sprinting back into the warmth of my house, Sirius in tow.
We both immediately dropped in front of the fire blazing in the hearth, myself carelessly and Sirius in that aristocratic manner of his.
"Where, in Merlin's name, did you get that?" I asked as I rubbed my hands vigorously to restore the warmth.
He shrugged, reclining on his elbows as he basked in the glow of the fire, lazily absorbing the heat that I'm sure he needed just as much as me. "James and I excavated a muggle junkyard," he replied casually, as if it wasn't something out of the ordinary.
"You got that thing out of a junkyard?" I questioned in alarm, looking at him as if he had gone a bit daft.
He shrugged again. "Sure. It was free, that way."
"Right. But is it safe?" I said, continuing to peer at him as I did so. It seemed that Sirius was acting more like his old self. He'd been having moodswings on a far larger scale than usual lately, and I was beginning to get tired of trying to keep track of it all. The arrogant Sirius before me was a Sirius I was used to, even if I had started to get accustomed to the Sirius who let his guard down.
"Sure it's safe," he drawled, "Prongs and I fixed the bugger up. Looks pretty good, don't you think?" He had a self satisfied smile on his face as he continued to lounge in front of the flames.
"Sure, it looks good," I said, "but that doesn't mean it is good."
He sat up in order to give me a look of complete indignation. "Why, Moony, do you think Prongs and myself incapable of repairing a motorbike? After all that we've accomplished thus far?" He rolled his eyes disdainfully before resuming his former pose.
"Well," I said with a laugh, "considering you're both pureblood wizards and that a motorbike is an entirely muggle creation . . ." I trailed off, letting him finish the thought.
He looked at me for a minute, attempting to hold onto his conviction that he and James could accomplish anything, before breaking down and letting out his barking laugh. "You're right, as always," he said with an affectionate nudge of his foot. "We hired a muggle mechanic to fix the thing up, and then I took care of the magical handiwork."
"Wait," I said in amusement, "what magical handiwork?" His eyes were veritably dancing with mirth and mischief. I'd missed that look.
"Well, it flies, of course," he answered matter-of-factly. He glanced at me out of the corner of his eye, pretending to be indifferent to my reaction but secretly anticipating it. He loved to drop news on us out of nowhere.
"What?" I cried, both delighted and mildly disturbed. "How?"
"Don't you worry about that, Moony my man. Just be glad that it works." The grin on his face was utterly exultant. It was good to see him so happy.
"You actually created a flying motorbike," I stated flatly, shaking my head as I did so.
"Of course," he answered with a lazy smile.
"Of course," I agreed.
We sat there for a moment, listening to the crackling fire and the groaning winds, before it occurred to me to ask why he was here.
"Is there another reason for you being here other than to show off your new toy?" I inquired.
"Naturally," he drawled. "Prongs and the family went to visit his mental aunt, and I figured staying in a house alone with you was a much better alternative than that." All the Marauders knew that I insisted on my parents leaving the area when the full moon was approaching. I wouldn't risk their danger when I transformed, and I was old enough to convince them of my own safety. I was just glad the full moon didn't fall on Christmas this year.
"Of course," I agreed easily. "You had nothing better to do. Why else would you come to visit me?" I'd meant it teasingly, but it was loaded with meaning that each of us detected.
"Moony," he said sharply, leaning forward and grabbing my hands as he did so, "I love spending time with you. But it's no secret that your parents are less than fond of me. I'm no good for you," he said in a mocking voice that nevertheless held a note of sincerity. He rolled his eyes as if to scoff at my parents' opinion of him, but I knew that it bothered him greatly.
He pulled his hands away and crossed his arms, staring into the flames as he did so. The Sirius before me was one that I was getting to know better every day: the brooding, melancholy Sirius who actually revealed that he cared about quite a lot more than he let on.
I hesitated before undoing his arms and holding his hands in mine again. It seemed an appropriate gesture, so I found it odd that I was self conscious about initiating it. My momentary anxiety was dispelled when he turned to me, gripping my hands tightly, hoping for reassurance.
"Sirius - you're good for me," I said softly. He looked unconvinced. "You're better than good for me. You're perfect for me." I was shocked by the sincerity of my words. They were completely and unthinkingly true. Sirius brought out all my sides, and he did so effortlessly. I was myself around him. I was his strength just as he was mine. I had fun with him in ways impossible to do so with anyone else. Quite simply, Sirius made me happy. As infuriating, pig-headed, and arrogant as he could be, he still determined my emotional state of mind.
The realization was mind boggling to me. I would never be able to live without that boy. It scared me to come to such a conclusion, but it was the blatant truth. Sirius' importance in my life had risen dramatically, whether he wanted to accept it or not. One of mine and Sirius' former arguments rose to mind. He was right. Who needed a girlfriend like Katie when you had someone like Sirius in your life?
He looked into my eyes, reading the honesty in them, before bringing his hands up to cup my face. The heat that rose to my cheeks had nothing to do with the roaring fire. Sirius once again lay raw before me as his eyes bore into mine, searching for something only he could find.
I was fixated, unable to move, barely able to breath, as he brought his face closer to mine. There was no hesitation in his actions. "You mean that, Moony," he said in wonder. "You really do."
He brushed my hair back from my forehead, resting his whole hand against the side of my face. His motions were so sure. So steady. I was completely unresisting, utterly limp as he slid one hand down my cheek and neck to rest on my shoulder.
There was a conviction, a confidence, in his eyes that would not be deterred. His face was slightly closer.
I continued to gaze into his ravaged eyes, attempting to absorb as much of what he was revealing as possible. He seemed to be waiting for something. Some sort of response, or reaction, from me. There was a desperate look in his eyes that belied his confident actions. I swallowed once, twice, as I attempted to formulate some sort of answer. I noticed that his breathing seemed heavier. I wasn't breathing at all.
I couldn't look away. "Of course I meant it," I finally whispered, shocked by how broken my voice sounded. "You're my best mate." Whatever reaction he'd been hoping for, that wasn't it. I watched in confusion as a look of rejection washed across his face. Was my friendship not good enough?
He closed his eyes, once again forcibly severing the connection we'd forged between us. I found myself blinking rapidly. "Of course," he whispered in resignation, and he closed the distance between us.
Sirius and I had hugged before, in triumph, in mockery, and even in awkward affection, but never like this. He clutched me as if holding on for dear life, and I found myself bunching his coat into my fists as I held him just as tightly. We couldn't look at each other anymore, and so we buried our faces in one another's hair, holding each other closer than we'd ever dared before.
Whatever was passing between us, this tension, this aching, throbbing, unspoken tension, was placed under intense scrutiny in that moment as I held Sirius in what could only be described as apology (though what for, I still dared not query), and as Sirius held me in a desperate plea for comfort.
I really began to wonder, for the first time, what was going on between us.
Sirius had been incredibly touchy lately. He was normally rather moody, but it was in a way that still kept his true emotions hidden. However, what he was really feeling had been boiling to the surface more often than not lately. I'd been seeing more genuine emotion from him in the past few months than I had in the past few years. I wondered what had triggered it.
And, furthermore, I wondered if anyone else was seeing this side of him. If not, then why me? What was it about me specifically that was making Sirius break down? What had changed?
Sirius had told me that he liked blokes. That had certainly changed. But, in reality, nothing was different. Sirius still walked the same, talked the same, and flirted the same. There was no overt difference, except for the underlying understanding that he wanted something that would be very hard to get. Our society was not the most accepting.
We'd never really talked about him liking blokes. I suppose that was because it came as no surprise to me. I certainly wasn't expecting it, but after he'd told me, I'd found myself less than shocked. It seemed like Sirius' style, and I knew that nothing would really be different. Or, at least, that nothing should be different.
But something was.
Maybe Sirius was the one that was having trouble accepting it? But that didn't make sense. Sirius was unapologetic when it came to who and what he was. He wanted to be the way that he was. Everything about him was in his control.
Unless something had finally happened that even he couldn't master.
Maybe he didn't just like blokes in general. Maybe he liked one specifically. That would explain so much. He had been acting like James when he'd first fallen for Lily. He was incredibly moody, he picked fights, and he sneered at other relationships.
Perhaps that explained his insane jealousy over Katie and myself. He was bitter that we could have the relationship which he desired. And we were flaunting it in his face. I wished I'd realized sooner.
I wondered who this boy could be, though.
An image of Sirius kissing me with wild abandon rose to my mind, and for a moment I wished - what? That the boy could be me? I laughed at my foolishness. I didn't like blokes. And if I did, it wouldn't be Sirius. Besides, I wasn't his type.
We were friends. The best of friends. There was absolutely nothing I would do to change that. I had no desire to. But sometimes, I couldn't help but think of those dreams . . .
Every now and then they invaded my mind, and though I valiantly resisted, I always ended up surrendering. They were a dirty secret. They were something I kept buried deep and didn't heed except for the immediate moment I was considering them. Otherwise, they were kept out of sight and out of mind. They were irrational, and I was a rational man.
I would never make any effort to make them come true. I honestly didn't want to, either. There was no motivation. No need. No drive. I had Katie for that, and I had Sirius as my best friend. That was all I wanted and all I needed. That was it.
I could still allow myself moments like these, though. Moments when Sirius and I held each other close and clutched each other tight. I knew we would never speak of them, and so I allowed it. After all, nothing would come of it. Nothing could come of it. I didn't want things to change.
I didn't want to let go. It was with reluctance that I removed my arms when Sirius pulled away.
He looked at me and smiled. His eyes were no longer raw, but neither were they shuttered. He wasn't hiding anything from me, but he was no longer trying to show me anything either.I wondered again what he'd been trying to convey, before.
"You got any food in this place?" he asked with a grin. "It was a long fly from James' house."
I laughed. "You were probably eating the whole way here. That's all you do." I got up to go into our small kitchen, wrapping my arms around myself as I did so.
I was suddenly very cold.
"How you feeling, Remus?" I asked concernedly. It was probably stupid to ask him that, but I didn't know what else to say. He looked pretty awful. He'd gotten some nasty cuts from the transformation last night, and there was no Madam Pomfrey to patch him up this time.
"'M okay," he muttered, mustering a grin as he did so. "Prongs and Padfoot are brewing a healing potion as we speak."
I nodded, unsurprised that they'd started doing so as soon as we'd woken up, and also unsurprised that they hadn't asked me for help. I sighed, gingerly sitting on the side of Remus' sagging bed.
"You want any water or anything while you wait?" I asked. I was out of my depth, here. He always had a nurse - or Sirius - to take care of him after these things.
He shook his head, lips tight with pain. He still managed a smile at my thoughtfulness, though. I shifted uncomfortably a few times, unsure of what to do. I wanted to help out somehow, but I was really no good for that.
I viewed James' and Sirius' return with relief, though neither of them acknowledged my presence, as usual. Sirius immediately dropped down on the other side of Remus, stroking the other boy's hair as he waited for James to administer the potion.
I continued to sit unobtrusively.
It took a few hours, but after repeated doses of healing potions and a spell done by James, Remus was finally able to get up and move about.
We took it easy for most of the day, so that Remus wouldn't feel strained. James, Sirius, and I attempted to cook dinner while Remus sat at the kitchen table and laughed at our efforts. It was not a completely failed enterprise, however. We ended up with some rolls that we put cold ham on. It ended up being filling.
"What now?" Sirius asked as we all lazed in Remus' living room. His house was only heated by the fireplace in this room, so it tended to get a bit chilly anywhere except here.
"Well," James said with a devious grin, "I did bring that Firewhiskey Wormy over there swiped for us."
"Oi, I was wondering what happened to that!" I said with a laugh, glad that James had given me credit for the drink.
"Oh, no," Remus said hurriedly, "my parents are getting home tomorrow. We are not going to be hungover when they arrive."
"Relax," James said with a dismissive wave of his hand, "I mixed up some potions for that before I came over here."
"Yeah, besides, I know a spell for that, too," I chimed in eagerly. They looked at me oddly for a moment.
"Where'd you learn this spell, Pete-o?" James asked curiously.
"More importantly," Sirius said suspiciously, "why'd you learn this spell?"
"Have you been drunk before?" Remus asked. Leave it to him to cut straight to the heart of the matter. It felt like I was under an investigation. All three of them rarely focused their attention on me at the same time.
I shrugged uncomfortably, berating myself for opening my big mouth. If they knew I'd been drinking already, then they'd want to know who with. That was a whole can of worms that I did not want to deal with.
"I just know the spell," I said easily.
They dismissed my response, choosing instead to grab the liquor.
"Here we are, then," James said, plopping it down onto the carpet between the four of us.
They were all three eyeing it speculatively. It was old news to me.
"I'll go first," Sirius said easily, snagging the bottle from the middle of the floor as he did so. He manhandled the lid until it came off, and then took a huge swig. He immediately started coughing and spluttering. "It burns!" he cried, still coughing. The rest of us laughed at his misfortune. It was his own fault for trying to be cool.
"Hand it here," I said with a laugh. When he gave it to me, I took an easy drink, feeling it slide a burning path down my throat. Being accustomed to it, I showed no reaction.
The others once again laughed.
"You were out done by little Wormy!" James mocked Sirius, grabbing the bottle from me as he did so. He followed my example and took an easy drink. He still coughed, but he handled it much better than Sirius. That didn't surprise me. James always had been the better of the two.
Remus eyed the bottle apprehensively for quite some time. "You're sure there will be no evidence of this in the morning?" he asked nervously. We all nodded and egged him on. He let out a martyred sigh before taking a drink of his own.
"Ugh," he said, smacking his lips as he did so, "it does burn."
"This stuff is pretty disgusting," Sirius said agreeably. He proceeded to take a more subdued drink.
And so it went until the whole bottle was gone.
Once again, being accustomed to the drink had its benefits. I was able to hold my liquor much better than the others.
Remus was already out, laying down on the couch and snoring slightly. It didn't surprise me that he was the first one down. After the transformation and all, he was probably not exactly up to par when it came to drinking this stuff.
James and Sirius had started an impromptu dance party, with James singing the music. They were horribly off key.
I began shooting hexes at their feet to really make them dance, laughing when they yelped in pain when one got them. They finally collapsed breathlessly to the floor, laughing just as hard as me.
"Well, Wormtail, that wash a grea' idea to brin' that firewhiskey," Sirius slurred out, giving me a pat on the back as he did so.
"Yesh, Pete-o. Thish wash fun. It's good to hang out wif you, like ol' times," James said, slinging an arm around my shoulders as he did so.
I felt myself grinning, flattered that James had enjoyed the firewhiskey, and that he'd actually missed me. I'd missed him too, but I would never say as much. Sirius would probably make fun of me. I felt guilty for not spending as much time with them anymore, but at the same time . . . they never said anything about it. Not really.
I put my arm around James' shoulders, giving him a halfhug that he returned enthusiastically.
"Well, I'm off ter bed," Sirius said with a yawn, heading up the stairs as he did so.
"Wait - wait jush a minute," James said, "where do you think you're shleeping?" He waved his arms around to emphasize his point, and ended up falling backwards onto his rear end as he did so.
"Remush's room, o' course," Sirius said with a hiccup.
"Remush shoul' be the one shleeping there," James said reproachfully.
Sirius seemed to consider this for a moment as he swayed at the bottom of the stairs. "You're right. We'll bof shleep there." He walked over to where Remus was sleeping and lifted him up, carrying him in his arms up to his bedroom. James and I both looked at each other as the door slammed.
"What is that all about?" I asked him, stretching out in front of the fire as I did so. I knew James would want the sofa.
"Oh, Shiriush ish in love wif him," James remarked absently, before letting out a belch and collapsing onto the sofa.
I stared for a moment, slightly taken aback by this news. I shuddered. It wasn't exactly natural.
That must explain Sirius' behavior of late, then. He'd been acting oddly enough for even me to notice, and a few others.
Regulus had been wondering about that.