Disclaimer: Anything you recognise remains the property of JK Rowling.
A/N: Written as a birthday gift for the wonderful Gilpin, but I thought a couple of people here might like to read it too ;). This story is referenced in a couple of my other fics, most notably The Werewolf Who Stole Christmas and Disaster. Enjoy ;).
Remus was cold, and itchy, and whatever he was lying on smelt of cat. He wrinkled his nose in distaste, not wanting to risk too much movement for the sake of the pile of bricks apparently sitting on the back of his skull, and reached for the duvet with a scrabbling hand.
His fist came back empty, and he muttered a chastisement to it. He must have pushed the blankets off in the night, he thought, and inwardly he cursed his stupidity. And the cold.
That was a thought. Why was it so bloody cold?
Remus couldn't think, but realised that he had only two options: sit up to get the duvet or put up with it. The former was certainly appealing – the chill was rather biting and he'd really love to be safely ensconced and warm again, although his head throbbed and his stomach churned at the very thought of moving. He vaguely wondered where his pyjamas were, but it didn't seem very important, or at least, seemed less important than the churning and the throbbing.
For a moment he sank down into an aimless daydream – something about a dry stone wall and starlight, and then somewhere over to his left there was a creak. Idly he wondered what it was, but it didn't seem very important either – houses just creaked sometimes, whatever Mad-Eye said about always getting up to investigate every little noise.
"Do you think we should wake him?"
Remus wondered who was talking and why on earth they were doing so in such an annoyingly loud voice.
"It is a bit undignified, lying there like that."
"I was going to suggest a full English, but – "
"It's certainly a side of him I never normally get to see."
There was a snigger, and Remus tried to bat it away with his hand, groaning quietly to himself and wishing the voices in his head would be quiet.
"I have to say, though, he is rather – "
"I know. I mean, you hear the rumours about what werewolves look like naked, you just never – "
Remus' eyes sprang open as the words 'naked' and 'werewolf' combined with something to do with the cold, lack of pyjamas and the cat smell in his mind. Even though his brain stalled when it came to trying to put all the pieces together and provide him with an accurate impression of what was going on, he surmised enough to know that when the picture came into truly sharp focus, it wouldn't be a pretty one.
Remus swallowed and looked up, and three faces peered at him from the doorway.
Lily sniggered and looked away, covering her mouth with her hand, Sirius muttered something about James watching out if Lily liked what she saw, and James glared a little, and then offered Remus a sympathetic, if rather nervous, smile.
Remus' stomach churned.
He had a sneaking suspicion that he was sprawled naked on the floor of the Potter's lounge, although in truth the thought was rather too horrific for his brain to do anything with.
He swallowed nervously. He couldn't be naked on the floor of the Potter's lounge, could he?
Disconcertingly, it was definitely their ceiling above him.
And they had a cat.
And he couldn't think where else he'd find Sirius, Lily and James in the same place this early in the morning.
Even more disconcertingly, nudity would account for the cold and the slight itching of his shoulders.
And he had been –
With a jolt, Remus remembered.
They'd been drinking, hadn't they?
And yes, having passed the point where he was too drunk to Apparate some hours previously, he had come back here with Sirius, having forgotten where he lived – or not forgotten, exactly, just been too drunk to make the connection between where he was and where he lived, which amounted to largely the same thing.
He saw a foggy image – they banged on the door and moaned at Lily, who was up with Harry, to take pity on them, and she rolled her eyes and then relented, tossing Remus a blanket for the sofa as Sirius staggered off to claim the spare room.
Remus grimaced. He had the vaguest recollection of an urgent drunken desire to get out of his clothes. He'd had some difficulty with his shoes and the buckle of his belt, he thought, but eventually, yes, he had succeeded. And now he came to think about it, he could sort of remember a feeling of falling, and then another of not really being bothered about it.
So that was it, then. Naked at the Potters'.
If he was naked – which he rather thoroughly suspected he was – he thought he should probably do something to cover himself up, but as the blanket had been out of reach earlier and he had no idea what he'd done with his wand or clothes, he was rather at a loss as to what. Remus pressed his lips together in thought, although a suitable plan for what one was supposed to do when one found oneself naked on the floor of one's best friend's lounge rather eluded him.
Over the thudding in his head, Remus could vaguely make out his own voice emitting a low groan. He wondered what to do, but a suitable response continued to elude him, and so he cleared his throat. There was nothing else for it.
"Morning," he said sheepishly, and Lily sniggered, and then her snigger deepened into something approaching a guffaw as she stepped round him on her way to the kitchen.
For want of something better to do, Remus met Sirius' eye with a vague plea for help – and his trousers hit him square in the stomach. "Put some clothes on, Moony," Sirius said. "You're really putting me off the idea of a sausage sandwich."
Somewhere inside, Remus knew that 'nbleurgh' wasn't a real word, and that shaking his head violently after a mouthful of Firewhiskey wasn't a particularly manly thing to do. However, he couldn't really find it within himself to care about either.
He set his glass down, very nearly missing the table entirely, and regarded his companions. It was a sorry sight. James had his head on his hand and looked half asleep, Peter's eyes kept rolling back, and Sirius was staring unashamedly at the barmaid's bottom as she sashayed past, collecting empty glasses. There was nothing quite as depressing as The Grinning Kneazle on a misty Thursday night, which meant it fitted Remus' mood perfectly, and he was finding something oddly comforting about the sticky carpet, the crap music on the jukebox, and the smoky atmosphere from an earlier kitchen fire when a wizard who presumably hadn't been here before had made the mistake of ordering food.
James swayed a little and then jolted awake. "I should be getting – "
Sirius' head snapped back, his expression falling from the vague, bored lust it had been sporting to something that looked almost wounded. "You can't," he said. "We haven't had a bloke's night out in ages."
"I have just had a baby – "
"Oh be quiet. It was weeks ago and Lily did the hard part."
"And there's a bloody war on, in case you've forgotten," James said, nodding with what might have been indignation.
"Even more reason, then," Sirius said, "to bond while we can. Besides, Moony's miserable and I promised to cheer him up."
James sighed, shooting Remus an apologetic glance across the table. "I'm all right," Remus said, forcing a smile. "You can go if you like – I'm perfectly cheerful."
"Nice try, Moony," James said, "but you look like someone just stole the marshmallows out of your cocoa and tried to beat you to death with them." Remus chuckled slightly at the idea, but the sound felt rather hollow, even to him. "Who's round is it, then?" James said. "I mean if we're staying, we might as well – "
"Oh well don't force yourself," Sirius said. "I'm sure I could find something better – " His eyes darted back to the barmaid and became a little glazed. " – to do with my time."
"No. We all agreed to get Moony out of this slump," James said. "We drink until Remus cheers up, and as he's still not exactly a little ray of sunshine, we stay."
Peter let out a long groan and staggered to his feet, clinging to the edge of the table for support. "Same again?"
Sirius puffed out his cheeks in some kind of exaggerated gesture of consideration, and then nodded, and Peter took a moment to steady himself, and then lurched towards the bar, reaching for the counter as soon as he could to steady himself.
"You know what we should do," Sirius said, and Remus held up a hand in protest.
"I don't want to hear it," he said. "The last time you suggested something we should do, I ended up losing a very fine jumper in a bet to a short bald man who really didn't have the colouring to pull it off."
"What?" Sirius said, grimacing in annoyance. "You're not still annoyed about that, are you?"
"It was my best jumper! No wonder I'm always so bloody miserable."
"I'll buy you a new one for Christmas," Sirius said waving airily. "Besides, it's not my fault you don't know the difference between poker and snap."
James laughed, and Remus glared at him across the table. "It's not funny," he said. "The rules were never properly explained and it was a very easy mistake to make, under the circumstances."
For some reason, that only made James laugh harder, rocking back in his seat and dabbing at his eyes with his fingers, and Remus sank back into his chair, crossing his arms and glowering at the world in general.
Everything was so bloody unfair.
The war was awful – every bit as bad as advertised – he didn't have a job, and the one good thing he had going for him – his girlfriend – had cancelled on him at the last minute because some of her trolls had broken out of their training pen and she needed to stay and persuade them to get back in, and now, now his friends were making fun of him, when they'd dragged him out with the specific objective of cheering him up.
It was all so bloody unfair.
Peter plonked a glass of Firewhiskey down on the table in front of Remus, and met his eye, nodding at the drink encouragingly. "It's a double," he said, and Remus smiled in thanks.
Peter sank heavily back into his seat, the legs of his chair scraping across the floor, and rested his elbow next to the ashtray, dropping his chin into his palm. "I'm drunk," he muttered, and James let out a low murmur which sounded a bit like agreement.
"Up for a game, Pete?" Sirius said, and Peter's eyebrows darted up on his forehead, and then slumped back again in incomprehension.
" S'bit late for Quidditch," he said, eyeing the darkened street outside.
Sirius rolled his eyes. "Not that kind," he said. "I thought we might play a little drinking game. Cheer ourselves up, or something."
"Is this going to be one of those drinking games," Remus said, "where we all confess hideously embarrassing things, and in the morning eye each other warily and want to hang ourselves?"
"I'm in, then," Remus said, and Sirius laughed.
"Right," he said, apparently taking Peter and James' stony silences for a response in the affirmative. "The rules are simple. We take it in turns to ask a 'would you' question. If you would you drink, if you have you drink twice and are naturally obliged to share the story."
"Fair enough," Remus said. "Who wants to start?"
Bacon sizzled in the frying pan, and Remus winced at the noise. He still hadn't quite worked up the guts to meet anyone's eye, or ask what had happened.
His memories of the night before were – shaky, at best. He distinctly remembered The Grinning Kneazle and some Firewhiskey, but for some reason he couldn't quite place, in his stomach sat the notion that he ought to be embarrassed, and although waking up sprawled naked in front of his friends accounted for part of that, he was sure there was more to it.
He sipped his tea, trying to piece together the foggy fragments of his memory, and wondering why he kept picturing a dry stone wall and starlight. Lily looked up from the bread she was slicing and met the edge of his gaze. "So what happened to your eye?"
Remus' free hand flew instinctively to where she was looking, and the second his fingertips made contact, he wished that he hadn't. He winced as the sting pierced through his hangover.
He explored the area gently with the pads of his fingers, assessing where the worst of the pain lay and wondering what on earth had happened. It felt bruised, definitely, and he'd been punched before, of course, most notably by Hattie Partridge's brother, although this felt a little more tender than that had. He wondered if he should risk healing it in his current state, or if that was more likely to result in him losing an eye, which was really the last thing he needed.
"Looks like quite a bruise," Lily said. "How did you..?"
"Honestly?" Remus said. "I've no idea."
Lily raised an eyebrow, the corners of her mouth twitching in the beginnings of a smile. "How drunk were you?"
"I've no idea about that either," Remus said, "which is always a worrying sign."
Lily sniggered, and Remus closed his eyes for a second, letting out a slow sigh and leaning back against the doorframe. "About earlier," he said. "I'm sorry you had to see – " He cleared his throat, wondering what the appropriate term might be. " – that."
"Oh don't be daft," she said, "although if I'd known you were so nice to look at without your clothes on, I might have insisted on that torrid affair after all."
She met his eye with a cheeky smile, and Remus grinned. In spite of everything, Lily's pretend-flirting with him always made him feel better.
"Would you ever fake an orgasm?"
Sirius looked from face to face in eager expectation, glancing at the glasses to see if any would be lifted in answer. It hadn't taken the game long to degenerate into talk of very little other than sex, although Remus couldn't deny that he found Sirius' questions a little baffling, and this one more baffling than most.
"What?" James said, utterly aghast. "Why would I?"
"I don't know," Sirius said, shifting uncomfortably in his seat. "Say you get bored and want it over and done with and that's the only thing you can think of."
James laughed into his hand. "I don't know who you've been sleeping with where boredom comes into the equation, but – er, no. Never."
Sirius turned to Remus and Peter, raising his eyebrows briefly at Peter and then shaking his head and turning his appeal to Remus instead. Remus laughed. "Don't look at me, Padfoot," he said. "I'm with James on this one."
"So you've never – "
"Right. Me neither. Just wondered."
Remus raised a disbelieving eyebrow at Sirius, and Sirius glowered at him. "In your defence, though," Remus said, trying desperately to keep a straight face and not give in to his snigger, "you've probably had a lot more sex than we have, and I can see how after a while it might lose its appeal."
Sirius' jaw tensed. "Oh be quiet," he said, Summoning a packet of dry roasted peanuts from the tabletop, opening them and throwing one at Remus' head. "Whose go is it?"
"So you don't remember anything?" Sirius said, sitting down at the table and reaching for the bacon sandwich Lily offered him. "Nothing about how you got the bruise?"
"Very little," Remus said, resting his head on his hand and massaging the outside of his bruised eye. "Do I want to know what happened?"
"Depends," Sirius said, taking a large bite of his sandwich and swallowing it with difficulty.
"On how you'll take the news that you fight like a girl."
Remus looked up slowly and raised one eyebrow in Sirius' direction. "Did anyone ever seriously expect that I'd fight like anything else?" he said.
"That's a fair point, Moony, but even given that caveat, it was a spectacularly crap fight."
"Which I lost, presumably?" Remus said, indicating his eye with a vague wave.
"On the contrary," James said. "You fought like a girl, but a dirty-fighting girl with an unexpectedly mean right hook. Anyway, you didn't get that in the fight, you got it falling off the table."
"Falling off the – "
James sniggered. "You remember we were playing that game?"
"The one where Sirius confessed he sometimes gets bored during sex and fakes it to have it over and done with?"
Sirius choked on his bacon sandwich, his face turning slightly puce until James whacked him on the back. "Of all the things you could remember," he said, wheezing slightly, "it had to be that."
a big impression."
"Yes, well, after that – I mean that was when things really started going downhill," James said. "In a lot of ways, it was Joni Mitchell's fault…."
"Would you ever steal a mate's girl?"
Remus shifted nervously in his seat, refusing to meet anyone's eye and wishing he could reach for a steadying drink without implying that he had. "Would depend on the mate," he said.
"Would depend on the girl," Sirius said, leaning forward conspiratorially and they all laughed.
"I've got one," Remus said, racking his brain for a change of subject before alcohol and tricky questions conspired to let words out of his mouth he'd never be able to take back. "Would you ever – sleep with a Dark creature?"
Peter grimaced, but Sirius leant back in his chair, tapping his glass on his lip in thought. "How Dark are we talking?" he said. "I mean something human-like – good-looking hag, maybe – "
"There's no such thing as a good-looking hag," James said, "that's the point."
"Hypothetically," Sirius said. "I mean I'd never sleep with a banshee, but – "
"A werewolf?" Peter said.
Remus met Sirius' gaze and raised his eyebrow in mock suggestion and flirtation, before giving in to a spluttering giggle that suggested he was quite a bit drunker than he'd previously thought. "Well, I mean you're not my usual type, Moony, but – " Sirius tipped his glass at him and then drank a shot, shaking his head as he let his glass fall back onto the table.
Remus raised his too, taking a sip, and James eyed him inquiringly. "It'd be hypocritical not to, wouldn't it?" Remus said, and James laughed.
"Well," Sirius said, "I think that brings us quite neatly onto another question."
Remus leant forward. He hadn't been at all convinced that a drinking game would be a good idea, but he confessed himself rather unexpectedly cheered by all of this. It was probably the Firewhiskey talking, he thought, but cheering up was cheering up, and he'd take what he could get. "Would you ever kiss a man?" Sirius said.
The word was out of Remus' mouth before he'd had chance to really consider it, and in truth the answer surprised him a little. "What do I do for a maybe?" he said, lifting his glass to eye-level to examine it. "Half a shot?"
No-one answered him, and Remus looked up to find them all eying him with rather startled expressions. "Would you really..?" Peter said, leaning forward and squinting at Remus as if there was something new and interesting about him.
Remus shrugged. "If I fancied him," he said. "If I fancied someone, I wouldn't just not kiss them because they happened to be a man. I mean it seems a little foolhardy," he continued, wondering if he'd got all the syllables of 'foolhardy' in the right place, "to rule out an entire sex just for the sake of it."
"Too right," Sirius said, clapping him on the back heartily and making Remus' head dip worryingly close to the table.
Remus was about to launch into some further explanation, that just because he hadn't met a man he fancied yet didn't mean he never would and he wouldn't want to be blind to the possibility, when the song on the jukebox changed, and suddenly he felt more cheerful than he had all night. "I love this song," he said.
"We know," Sirius said. "We had it on a bloody loop for – "
Remus wasn't listening.
He was too busy trying to clambour onto the table.
"What the hell are you – "
"Have you gone – "
"Remus, get down or you'll – "
For a second, Remus wasn't entirely sure what he was doing on the table.
In fact, after that second had passed, he still wasn't entirely sure, but between the swirl of alcohol in his veins and the music, it had seemed important for him to get up here, and so now he was, he determined to make the most of it, regardless of how much his knees were shaking.
He'd never really been much of a dancer, and, finding himself suddenly a bit afraid of heights, he didn't really want to move, but three pairs of eyes looked up at him from the table below, and in his periphery he could see the barmaid stop what she was doing and turn to watch, her arms folded across her chest and one eyebrow raised, and the wizards who'd caused the kitchen fire earlier put down their forks to watch him, too.
He really had always liked this song very much indeed, and, well, there didn't seem to be many other options. He closed his eyes, flung his arms wide, and joined in.
"And don't it always seem to go – " His voice was a little on the tremulous side, perhaps, he thought, and so he belted out the next line with more gusto. " – that you don't know what you've got til it's – " Emboldened by the encouraging chatter and chuckling he could hear, he attempted a pirouette to accompany the last word. " – gone –"
Remus' feet didn't entirely cooperate with the idea of a pirouette, much less the practice, and one of them shot out from underneath him –
He wavered. He wobbled. He realised he'd never really had that great a sense of balance anyway, even without half a bottle of Firewhiskey inside him.
The table reared up to meet him, although logic told him that it wasn't the table rising up to meet him so much as him hurtling towards it – and then he lost his balance entirely and the table really was rearing up to meet him as it tipped over and met him halfway. The Firewhiskey they had been drinking flew into the air – Peter, James and Sirius leapt up from their seats – the ashtray pirouetted much more gracefully than he had – and Remus landed with an 'Ouff', whacking the side of his face on the edge of the table.
The carpet was sticky with Firewhiskey and cigarette ash and God knows what –
He tried to blink away the stars from his eyes, grimaced as pain seared through his elbow and one of his knees, and then looked up to find an unfamiliar wizard peering down at him, curry and beer dripping from his pointed hat.
Remus didn't see the fist coming.
He certainly felt it, though, when it landed right on his jaw.
On an ordinary day, Remus probably would have let it pass – he had, after all, kicked the fellow's dinner all over him – but today had been so spectacularly awful, what with that owl from Malina cancelling their plans and then falling off a table in front of everyone and everything, that he couldn't help himself, and before he knew what had happened, he'd scrambled to his feet, made a fist and sent it sprawling into the other man's face.
Almost immediately he wanted to apologise, and managed to stammer out the first few syllables of 'I'm sorry, I didn't mean to, I'm just having a bad day' – but the man grabbed him by the shirt and pulled Remus towards him, his face puce with rage, and so Remus thought that it probably wasn't the appropriate moment to continue. He barrelled his head into the other man's shoulder – really he hadn't the faintest idea what he was doing, and somewhere a voice was shouting 'are you in a fight?' in a rather astounded tone – forcing him back against the table. The man scrabbled at the back of his collar, trying to heave Remus off him and making him gag at the same time, and Remus responded by taking hold of a fistful of the man's salt and pepper hair and tugging, hard.
The man wailed in pain – looked rather stunned, too – and Remus almost wanted to laugh at the expression on his face, although some kind of latent survival instinct told him that that wouldn't be a very good idea. "Why you – " the man started, drawing back his fist for another swing.
But this time, Remus did see it coming, and so rather than just waiting for the blow to land, he swerved to avoid it, balling his fist and sending it into the side of the man's head.
It impacted with a rather sickening smack, and as Remus watched, the man toppled, seemingly in slow motion, backwards. His eyes rolled back in his head, his arms hung limply at his sides, and without making any effort to break his fall, he landed with a thud on the carpet.
Remus blinked at him in incomprehension. Had someone Stunned him?
"Bloody hell, mate," James said. "I think you knocked him out."
Feeling rather stunned himself, Remus looked at James, who shrugged and looked at Peter, whose face froze in terror. He looked at Sirius instead, finding him open mouthed, his hand stalled halfway to his wand pocket.
A moment passed in which the very earth seemed to still beneath them, and then chaos was come – the wizard on the floor's friend shouted something about Magical Law Enforcement, the barmaid sprang into action, brandishing a neatly-clipped display broom that had apparently belonged to some former Quidditch champion, and the other patrons stirred up from their seats.
"Run!" Sirius shouted.
It seemed like a very good idea.
"Really?" Lily said over the top of her mug of tea. "You knocked him out?"
"Apparently," Remus said. Now he came to think about it, his knuckles did hurt a bit.
"And then what happened?"
"We did the manly thing and ran for it," James said. "Peter was sick in the gutter on Hope Street, so I took him home and then came here – I don't know what this pair got up to for the next three hours."
Remus met Sirius' eye across the breakfast table and raised an eyebrow in inquiry. He had no recollection of anything, other than a fuzzy image of the stars and something to do with a dry stone wall – and maybe grass, now he came to think about it….
Sirius cleared his throat and looked away towards the window. "You really don't remember anything?" he said.
Remus burbled his way through a moment's thought, and then shrugged, shaking his head and then immediately wishing that he hadn't done so. "Did we go star gazing?" he said.
"Something like that," Sirius replied.
Remus sat on the low dry stone wall, bouncing his heels off the stone and gazing up at the stars. Aside from the pain in his face, the throb in his knee and his elbow where he'd whacked them and the fact that he'd planned on spending the night with Malina rather than Sirius, it was a beautiful night. He knew he should probably be more churlish about the whole thing, but it seemed too beautiful a natural spectacle above them to really hold a grudge.
The vodka had helped a lot with that, he thought.
He leant back, half-testing his balance, seeing how far he could lean before he started to teeter and caught himself. "It's been a night and a half, hasn't it?" Sirius said, and Remus laughed, reaching for the bottle of vodka and taking a sip.
James and Peter had cried off and gone home after their speedy exit from The Grinning Kneazle, but Sirius and he – well, they hadn't really had anything to go home for, and so they'd found a Muggle off-license and bought whatever was cheapest and then wandered around, joking that with Remus' bruising and vague Firewhiskey smell they probably looked like a pair of tramps.
They'd talked about nothing in particular, at cross-purposes a good deal of the time, and a moment or two ago, they'd settled for a sit down on the low wall of a cemetery. It was out of the way and quiet, and the trees around them took away some of the chill, and though he knew he should probably find the mist that swirled between the headstones disconcerting, Remus rather liked the place.
"You know what you said earlier?" Sirius said.
"About kissing a man."
Remus teetered a little on the wall, nearly toppled, and then righted himself, digging his fingers into the crevices between the stones and pulling himself upright. He had only the vaguest recollection of anything that had happened before he'd fallen off the table, and idly he wondered if the fight had given him brain damage. Was there a spell for that? "What about it?" he said warily, meeting Sirius' eye.
"Nothing, just – you said if you met one you fancied – " Sirius shrugged and looked away towards the red telephone box that stood a way off, and Remus frowned at the back of his head, wondering what on earth he was going on about.
"That was the point, though," Remus said. "I haven't."
Sirius nodded, then turned back, and of all the expressions Remus expected to see on his face, Sirius was sporting one he'd thought would be way down the list after amusement and probably disdain. He looked rather petulant and disgruntled, even, and for a second Remus frowned, wondering what on earth – "I'm fanciable," Sirius said.
Remus let out a guffaw of rather unintentional laughter, which did nothing to ease Sirius' miffed demeanour. "You want me to kiss you?" Remus said, his chest shaking with silent – and then not so silent – laughter.
"No – just – well – "
Remus gazed up at the stars, trying to bring them into focus and failing rather abysmally, then wondering how much he'd had to drink and if that was something to do with the fact that he couldn't seem to distinguish where Aquarius began and Pegasus ended anymore. "I was just thinking," Sirius said, and Remus stopped looking at the stars and looked at him instead, although honestly, he was no easier to bring into focus, "this war. Makes you think about stuff, doesn't it?"
"And we could be dead tomorrow – and when people say that normally, it's just a cliché but for us – "
Remus took a swig from the bottle of vodka, and then handed it to Sirius, although the residual laughter he had felt rather died along with Sirius' words. "I know," he murmured.
"So, I think you're right, and I would too – kiss a man, I mean. If I fancied him. Life's too short, you know?"
"That's kind of what I meant."
"So if you wanted to – " Sirius swallowed, and offered Remus a kind of hopeful grimace, causing him to bite back a grin at what he thought Sirius might possibly be about to suggest. "I don't know – see? With me?"
"I'm not sure I'd want to go to the effort of kissing you," Remus said, "now I know you fake it."
Sirius glared, although his eyes danced with amusement, too. "Oh shut up," he said. "At least I didn't crack my head open on a table dancing to – of all things – Joni bleedin' Mitchell. You should be flattered I'm even offering, state you look."
Remus sniggered, half-heartedly wondering if he'd need to just keep drinking to avoid the inevitable pain of his injuries. He looked up at the stars again, giggling quietly to himself, and then glanced at Sirius, wondering….
Sirius was right, though, tomorrow they may well be dead. "Okay," he said.
"Okay," Sirius murmured, and though his eyes were laughing, he fidgeted with the label on the vodka bottle before setting the whole thing down at his feet. "In the name of possibly being dead tomorrow, then."
They both sniggered, the decision they'd just made hanging in the air between them for a moment.
"We should – " Sirius gestured vaguely to the distance between them, and then turned towards him a little more squarely, and Remus shifted a little closer on the wall.
His head span with alcohol and ideas. Was he really going to do this? Was he really going to kiss Sirius? He thought he very well might be about to, although the idea still felt vague, rather than actual.
Remus tried to marshal his brain into some kind of action – but all it did was throw out questions. Should he approach this as he would with a girl? Should he brush Sirius' hair away from his face gently with his fingertips, lean in slowly? Or was there some other set of rules he'd not hitherto been privy to that applied to doing this with a man?
He thought about it for a second, but brushing Sirius' hair away seemed far too – well, girly, and even if he did do that, it'd still leave him with the problem of what to do next. He glanced at Sirius' lips. He'd never thought about kissing him before, didn't even really fancy him in the slightest – after all, it was hard to have any kind of romantic feelings for someone who'd once hit you with a hex that made you throw up caterpillars.
But – well, he was Sirius Black, and if he was going to kiss any man he didn't really fancy just for the sake of having kissed him in case he died tomorrow, Remus supposed he could do worse.
He decided to just stop thinking and do it, and so with that in mind, Remus edged a little closer still, met Sirius' eye briefly, just long enough to be offered a tiny nod, and see Sirius lean forward a bit, and then shut his eyes, and leant in too.
The sensation of Sirius' lips under his that he'd expected never came, and so he leant harder, and further, and then –
He opened his eyes to find the grass swirling up to meet him as he toppled off the wall and into the cemetery.
For a second, he was too dazed to say or do anything, and then he rolled onto his back and looked up at the stars. They were spinning.
"Ow," Remus said, even though it was a huge understatement and totally unequal to the task of capturing the throbbing pain on his forehead where he'd nutted the grass, and possibly a rock.
Over the top of the wall, he could just make out Sirius bent double, his shoulders shaking violently, and his laughter drifted away into the night on the breeze.
"So we didn't..? I just fell off the wall and then, that was it? Or..?"
The plates sat in the sink ostensibly being washed, and Remus bit his lip and met Sirius' eye. He hadn't really wanted to ask in front of the others, but at an opportune moment, Harry had wailed to signal he was awake, and James and Lily had both gone upstairs to see to him, leaving the two of them alone in the kitchen.
Sirius grinned. "You really don't remember, do you?" he said, and, laughing, Remus shook his head.
"I think if we had, I'd remember – "
"Not necessarily," Sirius said, leaning against the wall and lazily Summoning a tea towel and setting it in motion over the draining board. "I do fake it, so I'm probably very forgettable."
Remus ran a hand over his face, his eyes roving Sirius' for any hint of what had actually happened. "You're not going to tell me, are you?" he said, and Sirius laughed.
"Where'd be the fun in that?" he said. "It's your own fault, anyway. If you weren't such a drunkard, you wouldn't need me to tell you what you did or didn't do."
Sirius sniggered, and for a second, Remus thought he wasn't going to say anything else and would leave him to stew, not knowing, forever. "Maybe we did," Sirius said, meeting his eye and smiling slightly. "Maybe after you fell off the wall, I offered you a hand up, picked a leaf out of your hair and planted one on you. Maybe it was nice – a bit awkward and stubbly at first, but nice." Remus raised an eyebrow, watching Sirius' face for any flicker that would give away whether or not he was joking. "Or maybe," he continued, without giving anything at all away, "I was too busy laughing to do anything of the sort, and then when you finally managed to haul yourself up, you claimed you weren't in the mood anymore and walked off in a strop. I suppose you'll never know."
"You really are a bastard of the highest order," Remus said, but his head hurt too much for him to put any real malice into his words.
Sirius grinned. "Anyway," he said, pushing up off the wall and making for the door. "I seem to remember James saying something about there being a war on, so I'd best be off."
Remus murmured some kind of half-hearted goodbye, trying to force his brain to remember which of the two scenarios Sirius had posited was the truth. He'd remember Sirius plucking a leaf out of his hair and kissing him, wouldn't he? He must be joking.
Remus sank into a chair at the kitchen table and closed his eyes. For a misty Thursday night in The Grinning Kneazle, he really had excelled himself, he thought – dancing on a table, starting a fist fight, fleeing the scene of what he supposed was theoretically a crime, and then ending up sprawled naked on his best friends' lounge carpet.
Not to mention whatever he had or hadn't done with Sirius. He massaged his temple with his fingers and wondered. Was it more embarrassing to get drunk and accidentally kiss his friend, or to get drunk, attempt to, and fall off a wall in the process?
Remus propped his head on his hand, wincing as his bruised eye reminded him of its existence, and stared down into his tea. He knew he'd never hear the last of this, and he groaned, whispering the words, 'I solemnly swear that I am never drinking again,' into his mug.
"I'll just leave you with the thought," Sirius said over his shoulder as he reached for the doorknob, his eyes dancing with amusement, "that whilst I may very well be a bastard of the highest order, you are a drunkard of the highest order – " He opened the door and Remus winced at the daylight. " – and a hell of a kisser."
Remus' mouth fell open, but his brain totally failed when it came to putting words to the moment, and before he could think of anything at all, Sirius offered him a conspiratorial wink and, laughing, disappeared into the sunshine.
Remus sat at the table, massaging his throbbing forehead with his fingertips.
Of course it was all his own fault. He'd been the one to say, 'Is this going to be one of those drinking games where we all confess hideously embarrassing things, and in the morning eye each other warily and want to hang ourselves?', so really, he had no-one else to blame that it had been.
He sighed, closing his eyes and leaning back in his chair. Never, ever drinking again, he thought.
A/N: Thanks for reading :D. Reviewers get a drunken night out with their Marauder of choice, which may or may not culminate with a snog under the stars ;).