"Scrivenshaft's" spoke Remus.
James rolled his eyes as he absently pulled Lily's hand up to his mouth for a quick kiss, "alright mate, you and Diana go to Scrivenshaft's, Lily and I need to Gladrags to order the new Gryffindor design on all the Quidditch jumpers for this season. Pete – you and Sirius should check out Dervish & Banges to see if they have a couple of sneakoscopes that can be fused with those noisy dungbombs I got for my birthday, and we can all meet up at Broomsticks for a late lunch around 2pm, savvy?"
Everyone nodded their consent and quickly split up. Diana looped her arm through Remus' and kissed him sloppily on the cheek. Remus grimaced, tossing Diana a mockingly displeased look, causing her to erupt in quiet laughter.
"Oh Remus', honestly! You're such a prude!"
Remus huffed, "I'm not a prude, I just don't want people thinking your my girlfriend," he retorted poking Diana in the ribs.
Diana giggled and snuggled in closer to Remus, "Am I not smart enough to be your girlfriend, Remus?"
Remus chuckled, "You know very well that's not the reason," he began, casting a mischievous glance towards his dear companion, scrunching up his nose in mock disgust, "you're just not nearly cute enough."
Diana squeaked, breaking free from Remus' arm to swat him twice before he managed to escape, laughing wildly as Diana chased him down the street towards the quill shop.
Sirius closed the door behind him with a trembling hand, slumping back onto the cool wood and letting his body drift slowly down to the floor. Pulling his knees up to his chest, he clicked the Muggle lock into place with the hand still grasping at the doorknob and let his head fall back against the barrier.
With eyes closed, he took a couple deep breaths and tried desperately to mentally brace himself for what was sure to be an uncomfortable confrontation with the green-eyed witch.
He thumped his head back against the door and groaned in agony, "Gods, Remus. I'm so sorry. So sorry," he whispered.
"What in the name of Merlin is your problem?"
Bill grasped the man's shirt violently and shoved him up against the wall with a grunt, "You are my problem. I don't know if you've realized, but the cat is out of the bag. Time to step up and take responsibility you weaseling little shit," he spat angrily, his usual soft brown gaze now wild.
Sirius flopped back onto his four poster, tossing his transfiguration book to the foot of the bed and reaching into his drawer for a licorice wand. Taking a rather large bite, he scooted over and sat up so his back was pressed against the headboard, allowing Remus to flop down next to him. Pressing his back into Sirius' chest, he let his head droop down onto his friends shoulder. Sirius smacked away at the gummy treat in his mouth, unaware that Remus had covertly stolen the last 2/3rds of the treat and was currently stuffing it into his mouth, smiling wickedly.
Sirius sighed and swallowed the gummy as he began to play with Remus' thick chestnut hair. He twirled a wavy lock around his long slender finger, and let it drop, only to pick a new piece and start over again.
Remus smiled. He loved having his hair played with – it was such a loving, doting action that he couldn't help but lean into the touch. Sirius chuckled and placed a chaste kiss on the top of Remus' head.
"Say Moony," he began, looking thoughtfully out the window to the rising fog that had settled over the lake, "do you think Jamie is right? About the whole family thing, I mean?"
"I'm not sure, Pup. I've never really thought of myself as a family man. I wouldn't be able to support a family, for one. Secondly, I would have to find some poor girl willing to look passed my lycanthropy. And even still, she would have to be one hell of a woman to trust me with my own children," Remus trailed off with a sigh. "I just don't think that kind of love is in my future."
Sirius nodded, "I'm not sure it's in mine either. Is that such a bad thing though? Babies cost a lot of money, they take a lot of time and patience, and they will inevitably hit the age where they can't stand to be seen in public with you. They will grow up and blame you for all the crap in their life, only to have babies of their own and stick you with the babysitting. Being a parent seems like a crap job to me."
Remus laughed heartily, "Well, when you put it that way, it doesn't seem so bad, being old and alone I mean."
Sirius sighed and pulled Remus closer to his chest, placing a kiss on his cheek, "You won't be alone, Remus. We are going to graduate, and move into that flat my uncle left me. I'll get a job at the Ministry, and with the money my uncle left, you can open that defense studio you've been thinking about. We can grow old and crotchety together, sit on the front porch and wave our canes at young children as they take shortcuts through our yard."
Remus snickered, "You – a job at the Ministry? Guess that means you will have to pick up a book every now and again."
Sirius snorted, "I'll have you know I do just fine in my courses, git!"
Remus sighed contentedly, "Old and crotchety together, eh?"
Sirius smiled, looking down into the pale eyes of his best friend, "If you'll have me."
Hermione knocked softly on the bathroom door, "Sirius? Would…would you open the door please? I...I need your help," she murmured quietly to the small crack along the frame.
Sirius quietly cleared his throat and swallowed thickly. Standing up from where he had slumped down to the floor, he reached out and clicked the Muggle lock up and turned towards the sink. Running cold water into his cupped hands, he splashed his face twice to freshen himself up as he spotted Hermione slowly moving into the bathroom from the mirror in front of him.
His soft grey eyes met with her concerned and weary green gaze by reflection. Hermione handed a dry face towel over to him, "I would like to leave, but I'm afraid I'm in no condition to be apparating with two side-alongs," she mumbled to her feet.
Sirius held up a hand and shook his head as if to stop her from whatever explanation she was rehearsing, "Not to worry. You take the boy back to Harry's, I will bring Dawn along with me right behind you."
Hermione let out a breath she wasn't aware she had been holding and smiled appreciatively, "Thank you, Sirius."
Dawn had made her excuses once they had settled into Harry's flat that she needed a good nights rest after the excitement of the day. Taking Xander with her, she made her way to her temporary bedroom across from Hermione's and closed the door behind her. Sirius threw a silencing spell on her door just in case Harry decided to pitch one of his famous fits when he got home, as it was likely to happen with the events of the evening.
Hermione changed into a pair of brown pajama pants and matching brown hooded sweatshirt. She slipped her feet into a pair of grey fuzzy slippers and padded her way over to Sirius' flat while twirling her hair up into a messy bun.
Sirius made them each a cup of hot tea with a splash of brandy to calm their nerves. Sipping silently for a few minutes, Sirius decided the uneasy quiet of the room was becoming too much to bear.
"Ok!" he gasped, "Let's not pretend this evening did not happen. You are going to talk, I am going to talk; we'll get pissed and hopefully this weir," Sirius gestured wildly with his hands, "…tension will be gone by the end of it."
Hermione quickly set down her tea and shuffled into the kitchen. Sirius rubbed his temples as he heard the clinking of glasses and movement of various bottles from the next room. Hermione made her way back into the den with two glasses and a large bottle of corked amber liquid, "No idea what this is but it looks potent and there is almost a full bottle of it so here we go," she mumbled as she poured a generous glass for each of them. Raising her glass into the air, Sirius mimicked with a 'cheers'.
Hermione shivered lightly as the liquid burned a path down her throat. Smacking her lips together a few times, she sighed and turned her gaze towards the handsome wizard across from her who was gulping down the mystery liquid like it was water in the desert.
"What a bloody night," she groaned.
Sirius pulled the empty glass away from his mouth and poured himself a fresh glass. Leaning his elbows on his thighs, he leaned forward in his chair and twirled the amber liquid around, "I'm sorry you had to be put through that. It's never a pleasant feeling to be put up in front of the firing squad. I only wish I could have hexed Molly's lips shut without a dozen witnesses present."
Hermione sighed, "It's alright. I knew it wouldn't go over easily. Molly simply adored Tonks. I knew she would react poorly to the thought of Tonks' husband and I having an affair. You can't really blame her, she doesn't understand the circumstances. If I had explained the whole 'mate' situation and what occurred to draw Remus and I together – romantically – then she would probably understand. Quite frankly, I don't feel like explaining it to her as it is none of her business. She can hate me for eternity for all I care. I just don't like the thought of her disliking Remus."
Sirius chuckled lightly, "It's strange that they say 'opposites attract'. You and Remus are so alike it's eerie."
Hermione sipped at her drink and eyed Sirius questioningly, "How do you mean?"
Sirius continued to twirl the glass between his hands, watching the liquid create a funnel-shape down the center, "You both read obsessively, you both have insatiable appetites and incredible metabolisms. I would be hard pressed to show you a spell that you don't already know. Neither of you are superficial, or flashy. You are both stubborn, passionate, and neither of you will ever look at the world through a rosy filter. You both are fiercely loyal, and care more about the people you love than you do for yourselves," he trailed off.
Hermione slipped out of her seat and slumped back on the chesterfield next to Sirius, leaning back and taking a large swig of her drink, "You're right, it is eerie."
Sirius nodded, and leaned back, letting his head fall back upon the back rest and turning to face the little witch who was staring at him with strange intensity. Hermione let her eyes roam over his face momentarily, taking in the soft lines around his eyes, the crease in his brow, the little strands of grey that were slowly forming around his temples. She traced the outline of his lips, drawn to the way that the corners quirked upwards even when he was not smiling. He had a small scar on his left upper lip. His nose was ever-so-lightly dashed with freckles that should you not be this close to his face you would have missed entirely.
Hermione smiled inwardly. Sirius was a beautiful man, there was no denying that. She wondered how many people really understood just how beautiful he truly was, how many people knew that he had a light dashing of freckles, or that his steely grey eyes had a little bit of green flecked through them laced with gold.
Sirius winked playfully at her, jolting her back to reality and causing her to blush slightly. He oddly did not mind that she was scrutinizing him so closely – a privileged he extended to only 3 other people in his life; James, Harry, and Remus. They were the loves of his life. James had been like a brother to him, almost like an extension of his very own body and mind. Harry was turning out to be exactly the man his father had been, only slightly more jaded and reserved. Remus… well Remus had been everything else. All of the happy moments in his life he had shared with Remus; pranks, discoveries, friendship, acceptance, accomplishment, his fears and his desires alike.
Sirius thought he should be unnerved to be feeling this happy without Remus present, but in a way he was. He was reflected through Hermione's beautiful green eyes. Even though Sirius had never known a green eyed Remus, there was no denying that they belonged to him.
Sirius swallowed thickly, she belongs to him.
Hermione's head rolled back so she was facing directly into the doorway. She took a long sip from her glass and licked her lips of the remnants, "I want to thank you, Sirius. For tonight, for defending Remus and I. I know it could not have been easy for you to talk about him…" she trailed off.
Sirius sighed, "Easier than you would think, actually. Sure, it's painful to think that he is gone, that I am the last survivor of our friends, but in a way, I'm really not. Harry is turning out to be so like his father was. Same headstrong attitude, heart-on-his-sleeve, never thinking about the outcome of his passionate outbursts. He's got himself Ginerva, who is so freakishly like Lily that it almost makes my skin crawl. And you," he murmured, taking the chance to flicker his gaze up to meet Hermione's, "you are so like Remus that it feels almost as if he is still here."
Hermione blushed lightly and tore her gaze away from Sirius', "He missed you, you know. When you passed through the veil, Remus was inconsolable for months. He never did recover from losing you - blamed himself actually. Always murmuring about how he should have been watching Bella, should have known she would take great pleasure from executing a member of her own family. Even when we were together, I could see in his eyes when the room was quiet that his thoughts had reverted back to all the mistakes he had made with you; believing you capable for murder, letting you go to Azkaban without a fight, letting you fight your own battles against your family, keeping you from contacting Harry as much as you would have liked, keeping you locked up in that dreaded old house with your mothers portrait while knowing how much it tortured you to be there..."
Sirius swallowed thickly and kept his misty grey gaze on Hermione, willing her to continue talking about his dearest friend, afraid that if he spoke Remus' presence in the room would be forever gone.
Hermione fumbled with a loose string on her sweatshirt, continuing to mumble on, "I heard what you said tonight, that Remus was never in want for love. Is that true?" she whispered, resting her eyes on Sirius'.
Sirius nodded slowly, careful not to blink as tears threatened to spill from his eyes, "I meant every word. Remus was never in want for love," he murmured.
Hermione's brow furrowed in thought. A few moments of silence passed between the two before she willed up enough courage to continue on.
"You loved him." It wasn't a question, merely a statement of truth. She should have seen it before, but it just wasn't one of those things that immediately came to mind when you saw Remus and Sirius together. Sure they had always been close, but it seemed like one of those friendships that just couldn't be put to words. The silent touches, loving gazes, and carefree laughter of a couple of boys who had been friends long since before they had met.
Pete nearly jumped straight through his own skin when the dormitory door slammed open and Remus came scampering through… tripping over his own feet and laughing so hard he couldn't breathe. He just about died of laughter when Sirius stomped in after him.
"FIX it, Remus, fix it NOW! I swear to MERLIN I will bloody murder you with my own hands if you don't FIX IT NOW!" his oddly sing-song voiced bellowed across the dormitory walls.
Remus wrapped an arm around one of his bedposts and gasped for breath, slightly bent over and clutching at his chest. It would have been a fright to see if Remus wasn't shaking uncontrollably from laughter. Sirius tossed his book bag down and lunged across the room towards Remus. Remus squealed, scrambling over his bed to put some distance between himself and his seething best friend.
Sirius shifted his weight from foot to foot, fists clenching and relaxing in frustration. His steely grey eyes were almost pure silver from the fire and venom he felt pulsing through his veins. He wanted to wrap his little hands around Remus neck and squeeze until he reversed the damn spell.
"Pads…I can't… it's timed…I'm sorry, really really…" Remus huffed out between breaths, "sorry". He really was sorry, but he hadn't lied when he told Sirius that the spell was time release. It would be another 6 hours before things returned to normal.
Sirius threw his fist into the bedpost and screeched like a wild banshee. Of course it was a time release spell, he knew that long ago. It still didn't change the fact that he was stuck like this for 6 hours any better. He knew it was irrational to screech at Remus for not having a reversal for it, but it made him feel slightly better to have at least someone to yell at.
Just as Sirius was on the verge of pitching one of his famous fits that were famous for clearing the dormitory for 12 hours at a time, James flew through the door with his Polaroid in one hand and a developed photo waving in the other.
"Oi! You aren't going to believe what I have here! I was out snapping pictures for my Muggle Studies project and just…" James trailed off, having registered the change in the room.
Standing dead center of the room was his best mate. His black curly hair was tied up into two yellow ribboned pigtails atop his head. His eyebrows lengthened slightly, and shaped. His usual 5 o'clock shadow was replaced with smooth creamy skin. His lips twitched up slightly in the corners, pink and full. If that wasn't enough, taking a glance downwards, James noticed the definite addition of breasts to his best mate, and a uniform skirt where usually there would have been slacks. All in all, Sirius Black made a pretty cute girl.
Sirius shot James a scathing glance. The room went dead silent. Sirius quirked an eyebrow at his friend, daring him to speak, to say something to set him off. James was stunned. Dropping the picture he had so proudly brandished moments ago, he quickly lifted his camera and snapped a picture.
Before Sirius had time to react – to pummel his best friend into the floor – a quick hum of magic skitted by him from behind. James squeaked in a very feminine manner as his unruly hair lengthened, his square frame rounded off, his nose turned up and his hands contracted into delicate palms and fingers.
Sirius' head snapped around and saw Remus proudly storing his wand back in his robes. He didn't even noticed James' squeal and retreat from the dormitory to the bathroom to assess the damage as he smiled at his mate and nodded.
"Bill, please. This has to stop! We keep having this same stupid argument over and over again... what happened to us? We used to be the best of friends," Charlie pleaded.
"Yes, Charlie, we used to be very close. Things change, people change..." he spat.
Charlie sighed, running a freckled hand through his short red hair. Bill took a deep breath and turned to face his brother once more. Charlie looked on the verge of an emotional outburst, his unshed tears threatening to spill should the air shift in the slightest. Bill sighed.
"I'm sorry, Chuck. You're my brother, you have always been, and will always be my best friend. But we aren't playing Wizards and Warlocks in the sandbox anymore, we are grown men. I have a wife, and a family. They need me, and I need them. I never thought that a family of my own could mean so much to me, that a woman or a child could steal my heart quite the way they have. I would die without them, and while some people think that makes me weak, I happen to think it makes me stronger. I have something to live for. I have something to fight for."
Charlie wiped his eyes with the sleeve of his striped shirt and tossed his pleading gaze to Bill, "You think I don't want that too? I would trade places with you any day Bill! I don't have anyone to love, anyone to take care of. I go to bed each night and crawl underneath cold sheets. I live in an apartment that has blank walls and a closet full of dangerous artifacts that are not suitable for children...do you know why? Because I have no children. I have cold sheets because there is not another warm body there to curl up into. You...you have everything I want, and everything that I can't have."
Bill gave Charlie a calculating glance. He knew Charlie was lonely, and he knew he was a good man. Charlie had an amazing capacity for love, but found it difficult to find a woman who would want to give their heart to a man who had such a dangerous job, a woman who could understand his life long ambition to put his life on the line day after day to try and tame those fantastic creatures enough so that they would be less of a danger to others.
Charlie turned his back to his brother and buried his face in his trembling hands. He began to sob silently, wishing that this conversation would just end already, that he could go and have a couple of drinks and let his mother kiss him on the forehead and lift his spirits with tales of his childhood. He was vaguely aware of Bill placing something upon the picnic table beside him as he spoke, "I cannot give you Tonks back, but there is someone who needs you as much as you need them."
A few moments passed and the sound of the back door quietly shutting made it's way to Charlie's ringing ears. He sighed, wiping the last of his tears away as he turned to see what Bill had left for him.
It was a picture, of a small boy with vibrant purple eyes and strawberry blond hair.
Sirius kicked absently at a hard ball of snow, watching it bounce a few meters ahead of him before stopping and waiting for the next assault. It was a warm day under the grey Hogsmeade sky, but not nearly warm enough to force away the snow.
Sirius had been ditched by his friends; James had managed to pull Lily away from Scrivenshaft's newest novelty item – a quill and parchment set that notated their owners thoughts in neat pullet points (...perfect for studying for NEWT's James! I could be studying and preparing for two different courses simultaneously!) - and into Madam Puddifoot's for a cuppa, Pete had been given some insider information from Remus that their dear Diana was simply dying to try one of Luciano & Gorbitts famous cinnamon buns that come with a choice of 16 different toppings and decided to muster up his courage and ask her on a date, and Remus? Well, Sirius wasn't exactly sure where Remus had buggered off to, but he suspected it had something to do with the new shop that sold Muggle novelty items that Remus had mentioned could be a perfect place for him to find something for his mother as a Christmas gift.
'At least the snow tapered off', he thought, squinting up at the grey clouds from under his faded red newsboy cap.
Stuffing his hands into the pockets of his too-big pea coat, Sirius left the remnants of the mutilated snowball behind and made for The Three Broomsticks for a warm butterbeer to kick the edge of the chill off of him. Just as he was wondering to himself how long it has taken Lily to hex James for the pick-up line he had been so proud of and planned to use today ('If you were a tear in my eye I would not cry for fear of losing you.'), he saw two people scuffling quickly for the alleyway just to his right and up about six stores. The last boy in looked suspiciously like Snivellus, and immediately 8 different hexes and jinxes popped into his mind that would brighten up his day.
Sirius snickered gleefully to himself, skipping along quietly along the fronts of the shoppes so that he could easily peer around the corner of the alleyway and cast his hex without being caught.
The first thing he noticed, was that the boy was not Snivellus at all, It was Jordan Mullins from Hufflepuff. He had the same long dark hair as Severus, but also had warm brown eyes and a thin goatee that made him look about 2 years older than he actually was. All in all, he was a very sweet boy, had even gotten the Marauders out of trouble a few times by vouching for their whereabouts when McGonnagal would try and tear them a new one.(Truly, Professor, James and Pete were with me in the East Wing common room the whole time discussing Muggle music. If you are going to punish them for anything, punish them for not liking The Beatles. Honestly! The Sex Pistols? Sid Vicious is cool and all, but no one is as cool as John Lennon!')
Before Sirius had the opportunity to be disappointed, he noticed that Jordan was not simply in an alleyway with someone, he was snogging the living daylights out of that someone! His hands were pressed up against the cool stone wall of Fortiscue & Ingrams, one of his legs was crammed firmly between the legs of his companion, and he was panting violently in between kisses.
Sirius' lip twitched up into a sly smile, wondering who Jordan had been keeping secret from his buddies. Not being much of a voyeur, he made to turn and walk away to share this information with Pete and Diana, when Jordan pulled back and revealed his secret.
Brown hair flecked with bits of unmelted snow, soft pale eyes whose corners were laden with creases from laughter, full bow shaped lips that encased a set of perfectly straight white teeth...that was Remus.
Remus smiled sweetly at Jordan, worrying his bottom lip between his teeth. His November eyes danced with mischief as they flicked between Jordan's honey brown eyes and kiss swollen lips before reaching forward and catching his mouth once more in a quick kiss.
Jordan laughed quietly, bringing his hands down to rest on Remus' sides, stroking him lightly while never tearing his glance away from the boy in front of him. Both boys smiled happily and whispered oh-so-quietly between themselves.
How had Sirius never noticed this before? Remus was kissing another boy. He was smiling, and running his worn mitten-laden hands up Jordan's arms. Jordan cocked his head to the side and slowly reached up to the collar of Remus' tweed jacket, pulling it tight around his neck, and adjusting his golden scarf to keep out the cold. Remus thanked Jordan with a goofy lopsided grin before letting his head fall back against the wall.
Jordan leaned in slowly and let his lips brush against Remus', who grasped tightly to Jordan's winter cloak and pulled him in to deepen the kiss. Jordan opened his own mouth and danced his tongue gently across Remus' lower lip, licking the tip of Remus' tongue and making him shudder.
He bit gently on Remus' lower lip, letting his teeth drag across it before releasing it and kissing him once more. Remus let out a breathy moan before creeping his leg up against Jordan's arousal. Jordan groaned from the blissful agitation and pressed himself fully against Remus, trapping him against the wall and ravishing every piece of skin he could make contact with.
"Oh Merlin...more..." Remus rasped, grasping the other boys thigh with his left hand while pulling his scarf off with the other. Jordan ground his aching arousal into Remus', eliciting a sharp gasp and intake of breath from the boy pressed to the wall, "Don't stop, Jordan, please..."
Sirius whimpered quietly as he watched Remus grip Jordan's long hair and guided his mouth back to his own. Leaning against the side of the alley wall, Sirius watched with rapt fascination as Jordan continued to push his friend over the edge, touching his clothed chest, making that kind and gentle face contort with pleasurable pain, causing those bow shaped lips to curl up and expose his perfectly straight white teeth, forcing away that gentle silky voice in favour of a breathy husk.
Sirius was confused. This was his friend, and here he was, spying on what was surely meant to be an intimate moment. Never before had he ever imagined that Remus' could be such a creature of nature, despite knowing that 12 days of the year he was exactly that. But the wolf and the boy were so different; the wolf was crass and impulsive, natural and carefree whereas Remus was calm and calculated, solitary and kind.
A loud groan broke Sirius from his reverie. His eyes snapped back to the scene in front of him. Remus' eyes had snapped shut, his head lolled back against the wall with Jordan's hand firmly secured over his mouth as he shook and moaned into the glove. Jordan dropped his head to Remus' shoulder and bit into the material as he too was overcome with spasms of pleasure. Remus wrapped an arm around Jordan's neck and held him as they both calmed down.
Sirius calmly pushed himself away from the wall and staggered away from the alley, thankful that he had not been caught watching them, but cursing himself for staying as long as he did for it would surely cause much discomfort in the nights to come.