Presents for puppies.

A.N: Alerts and favourites are very, very much appreciated – but reviews are appreciated even more! So let me know what you thought of it! -L

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Chapter 3: A rewarding exchange

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But no words would come to Remus' aid.

He was left sitting there like an idiot; just staring into Sirius eyes and feeling the latter's hot breath on his lips. Come on, screamed his mind from somewhere within, do something! He's obviously expecting you to! Unfortunately, neither Remus' mouth nor his body got the message – and he kept quite still.

After what seemed like forever, Sirius broke the silence himself.

"Hey Moony, guess what?" he said, a silly grin suddenly plastered across his face. "It's nearly 2 am!"

Sirius shuffled out from beneath Remus, suddenly all energetic moves and gleaming eyes, and jumped back up to his feet.

"You know what this means, right? It's Christmas day!!"

Remus hesitantly rose as well, simultaneously relieved and disappointed that the moment was broken.

Why hadn't he done anything?

If Sirius had meant something by that comment about 'love and war' – which he probably hadn't, but.. – Remus should have answered, shouldn't he. Maybe Sirius now though he was turning him down. Come to think of it – was he? If he really liked Sirius, shouldn't this kind of thing flow naturally?

Remus was shaken out of his doubting thoughts by an exited Sirius shaking him by the shoulders.

"Christmas day, Moony! Food! Gifts!!" The grin threatened to break Sirius' face in two.

Despite his worries, Remus had to crack a smile. No-one could get as excited as Sirius, and it always put a smile on Remus' face.

"But Pads, 2 am in the morning? I don't think the gifts arrive until morning, do they?"

Sirius grin faltered a little.

"Oh. Right."

He looked lost for a moment, before turning to Remus with a hopeful look.

"Console ourselves with more Butterbeer?"

Remus happily agreed, and they went back to the couch and be-bottled table. Sirius opened a pair of yellow bottles, and sat down handing one to his fellow Marauder.

For a couple of minutes they just sat next to each other.

Remus enjoyed the sweet taste and relaxation brought by the hint of alcohol.

Sirius lay his feet on the table in front of him. Anyone seeing them right then would say he looked completely relaxed and normal – just a guy hanging out with his friend, drinking butterbeer and talking. But if you took into consideration that this was Sirius Black, and then looked at his eyes more closely, you might see the faint mischievous glint playing there.

"Hey Moony?"

Remus turned his head towards him, mid-swig.

"Seeing as it is past 12 o'clock, and officially Christmas morning, I have an idea."

Remus nodded, his mind still occupied with a pleasant daydream of him and Sirius in The Three Broomsticks. It was amazing what you could do with Butterbeer…

"How about we give each other our presents now?"

"Mm" murmured Remus, half-listening.

"Because Lily told me you got me something from that tank-top shop, and I'm excited to see if it'll fit me as good as it did you."

Because of Sirius' innocent tone, it took Remus a couple of seconds to realize what he'd just said. Tank-top. Bathroom. Kissing. Naked. Remus snapped back to reality with a splutter, which he quite unsuccessfully tried to pass off as a cough.

"Ur, ahem, what?" Dammit, dammit, don't blush!

Sitting stiff as a pole and staring straight ahead, Remus didn't see the faint smile playing on Sirius lips.

"And I've got something for you too" Sirius added, ignoring Remus' failed attempt at pretending he hadn't heard him. "Are you excited Moony?!"

Sirius didn't wait for answer, but jumped up.

"Great! I'll go get them then, just you relax here for a bit."

And then he was gone, taking the stairs up to their dorm two steps at the time.

Remus breathed out slowly.

Excited? He was bloody terrified.

***

After what seemed like forever, Sirius came scrambling down the stairs again.

Remus had tried to arrange himself in a position which said 'I'm totally and completely relaxed, waiting for my purely platonic friend to return – as well as being utterly available and kissable should the subject come up. Incidentally, I'm also dead handsome.'

In effect, this meant leaning back on the corner of the couch with one arm draped - oh so casually - over the back of it.

He too late realized that this made him look like one of those cheesy guys who, while watching TV with their girlfriend, would drape their arm over the back of the couch so that they could - unnoticed by said girl of course - inch it closer and closer until it cuddled her shoulders…

Remus resisted the urge to slap himself, and instead concentrated on upholding his (he hoped) casual-meets-sexy air.

Sirius however, seemed completely oblivious to all this laidback sexiness going on as he sat down next to him on the couch. Remus couldn't help but notice there was a disappointing lack of blushing, and no comments were being made of his hotness either.

Oh well.

Sirius was carrying two neatly packed gifts. Or, one neatly packed gift that Remus recognized as his own for Sirius, and one rather scruffy package held together by what looked like a couple meters worth of tape and string.

The scruffy gift was wrapped in brightly shining red paper with green Christmas trees though, and even had a huge green bow on top of all the tape - so Remus knew the intention had been good. Sirius, growing up as a Black, had never needed to know even the simplest household spells. So, as pathetic as it might look, that wrapping had probably taken him quite the effort. Remus smiled at the thought.

"Oi, you're not laughing at my present are you?" Sirius looked at him suspiciously under furrowed brows.

Remus assured him that he wasn't. On the inside, he wondered how Sirius could look so relaxed, so natural all the time. It had taken Remus quite an effort to attain his cute guy-position. And there was Sirius, doing without even trying….

Remus noticed that he was still smiling. Somehow he felt better now. After all, there was just the two of them there (except from the sleeping Peter of course, but inanimate objects didn't count), and hadn't the worst already happened? Sirius had given him the perfect opportunity to kiss him, and Remus had responded with all the social prowess of a retarded shellfish. And now, they were going to open that gift, which would be just as embarrassing, and Remus could do nothing about it. So instead of throwing an angsty fit and throwing up in his hands, Remus simply smiled.

To tell the truth, he was impressed with himself.

*

"No, your present looks great Padfoot. Did you wrap it by hand?" Remus asked, studying the strange shape of the package.

Sirius beamed. He was actually quite proud of his work with that wrapping, even though James said it looked like it'd been done by a blind troll. He was particularly satisfied with the bow, seeing as he knew from clever research (asking James) that Remus liked green.

"Yup, did it all by myself like a good boy" he beamed. "So…flip a coin over who gets to open first??"

Remus smiled back at him. One of the things about Remus that often amazed Sirius was how he was always so calm and cool. Sirius himself tended to be all over the place with energy and restlessness, always moving, thinking, having ideas pop into his head like he was a walking lightning rod or something. But Remus had this smoothness, like he knew something no-one else did.

Come to think of it, he probably did. His eyes were like bottomless pits of….Sirius didn't quite know of what. He felt like he could stare into them for hours and hours, and never find out. Remus Lupin was a mystery! – and that wasn't something Sirius was used to.

Most of the time he read people like books, especially girls. He knew how to make them happy, what to say if they were sad, how to charm them into nearly anything at all.. But Remus was different.

For one thing, he was a bloke.

And this was something Sirius had thought about quite a lot these past weeks, particularly after what had happened in Hogsmeade on Saturday. Sirius had never been a discriminating guy – in his heart he knew that what he appreciated was beauty; and whether it was in a girl or a boy didn't seem to matter. But here, Remus was different again. Of course he was beautiful – oh yes indeed – but he was also a friend, someone Sirius respected. And most of all; Sirius could never quite figure him out.

Like earlier this evening; Sirius had completely come on to him and gone in for a kiss; and Remus had done nothing. What was that? He had to be interested, he'd certainly been last Saturday!

Hadn't he?

"Nah, you can decide, I don't mind" said Remus, abruptly shaking Sirius out of his inner ramblings.

"Oh? Okay, then..you get to start! Becaaaause my present is too beautifully wrapped to wait! Yay!" Sirius realized he sounded a bit like a squirrel on speed, and tried to at least look like he kept his cool.

But inside, he felt that familiar childish present-rush as Remus picked up his first present of the year.

While Remus started working on the string, Sirius wondered fleetingly what he'd think of the gift. James and Pete had tried to get him to buy a watch or something, but Sirius refused to go for something as boring as that. A watch? That was such an old man-gift, Sirius didn't even dignify it with a response. So naturally he had used his clever researching skills (conferring with the guys again) and gone to the source of what Remus liked more than anything else in the world….

"Oooh, Honeydukes wrapping!" Remus' eyes lit up.

He held a large oblong box in his hands, emblazoned with the golden Honeydukes logo. How on earth Sirius had managed to wrap a perfectly normal box and make it look like a shapeless heap, he'd never know. Remus let his hands caress the box lovingly. If there was something he loved…

Sirius sat crouched up in the sofa, facing Remus. The boy was sliding his hands over the box, slowly, almost languidly.

Now, why did he have to do that when Sirius was trying so hard to keep his cool? It was so typical of Remus. He was always doing everything like this – his whole body language was smooth, elegant, deliberate… Sirius tried not to think of how Remus would look eating that chocolate.

"Oh wow, this is wicked!" Remus exclaimed. He had opened the box, and was looking down on Honeydukes' Assorted Holiday Chocolate Lover Mix Supreme.

"Sirius! You shouldn't have!"

And now he was slipping a chocolate into his mouth.. Merlin. This wasn't fair. And hey, why was Sirius letting Remus have all the power? After all, he was Sirius Black.

"Oh, you know you want it!" Sirius said, leaning closer with a smug grin plastered across his face. "Did you notice the chocolate sauce? I think you'll like that one especially…" Sirius gave Remus his best heart-throb look through his eyelashes. Ha!

Remus' eyes widened, and he felt the familiar blush building up.

Dammit! He'd let his guard down when he saw the present, and now Sirius was all close and….yummy.

Those intense eyes of his, always looking at Remus, and ruffled black hair everywhere, giving the pureblood noble a permanent just-got-out-of-bed look. Sirius in bed. Hm…

No! He was not going to let Sirius play him this easily. Time to find out how much of a game this really was..

"Yeah?" answered Remus, looking Sirius straight in the eye. "Well, I do love the taste of sweetness in my mouth. And there's a lot of fun to be had with chocolate sauce, eh?"

Sirius raised his eyebrows. Seriously, did Remus Lupin just make a sexual reference concerning chocolate sauce?

Oh, it was on.

"Sure" smiled Sirius, keeping his friend's gaze while leaning towards the box. "You don't mind if I have a taste, do you?"

He picked up a chocolate, inhaling the scent of it before putting it in his mouth.

"Mm" he murmured, and slowly licked the residue off his fingers. His eyes' never left Remus. "Tasty".

Remus licked his lips in sync with Sirius, the contours of a lopsided smile forming on his mouth.

"I bet it is" he said, steadily keeping his friend's gaze.

Sirius could feel his breath growing heavier. Damn it, his chocolate-plan was backfiring! Those lips were just too good - he needed a diversion.

"Hey!" he forced himself to drop Remus' gaze, "isn't it my turn to open a gift now?"

Remus smiled to himself. Ha! He'd definitely shocked him a little there.

This was fun!

"Sure" he smiled, "open away. I'll just watch."

Right now, he wasn't even nervous to see Sirius reaction. Well, not very nervous at least.

"So you like to watch, huh?" Sirius mumbled while reaching for his gift.

Remus chuckled.

"Maybe."

*

Sirius rolled his eyes, and started unwrapping the present. Inside was a white shirt with black lining at the cuffs and collar, and black buttons down the front. It was obviously from Gladrags, where Remus had bought the infamous tank top last weekend.

"Hey, Gladrags, awesome" said Sirius, wondering how he could use this to it's full extent. "You never know what might come off their clothes".

Urgh, that was lame. He needed stronger stuff.. Ah! Sirius smiled to himself.

"Mind if I try it on right now?"

Remus blinked. Try it on? But Sirius was already unbuttoning his school shirt right in front of him. Seriously, that bloke.. And then Remus train of thought was pushed entirely off its rails. Sirius' pale, muscular chest was erupting before him. The mere sight threw Remus right back to the events of the past weekend. He could practically taste the sweat…

"Uh" he nearly growled, and then had to clear his voice. "Um, yeah, go ahead.." Damn. Get dressed, you dog, before I…

But Sirius didn't dress. He just paused there, bare-chested with the shirt from Remus dangling from his hand. Then he leaned forward.

"Remus" his voice was breathy, "thank you so much, I love it."

He proceeded to pull Remus into a tight hug, smiling to himself. If this didn't break that werewolf, he didn't know what would… And then he felt the fingers, trailing up the small of his back. A surprised gasp left his mouth. Remus Lupin!

Sirius pulled out of the hug, but didn't sit back down. Their faces were mere inches apart. Sirius hesitated, unsure of whether to push things further. After all, it wasn't the competition he was trying to win.

Remus on his part, was inwardly kicking himself when he realized he was back in the position he had been in earlier this evening, Sirius lips almost touching his. Why did it always get to this? Why was he letting himself play along when he knew he'd only get hurt?

"Remus?"

"Sirius?"

They spoke each other's names at the exact same moment.

"Listen" offered Remus in a small voice, "I think I should tell you something. I'm not looking for just… I mean, I don't know what you're thinking, but.."

"Me neither" interrupted Sirius, "I'm not just interested in…well, you know. If that's what you meant? If not, I didn't mean…"

They looked at each other's equally insecure expressions.

Then they both chuckled.

"Hey Moony" mumbled Sirius. "I know people say I'm just a love-'em-and-leave-'em kind of guy, or whatever, but…I don't want that with you. You're different."

"Really?" the honeyblonde boy eyed him soberly. "Because seriously, if this is just another one-time fling then..I won't get mad, but I'd rather you tell me right now. Okay?"

Sirius smiled weakly. "It's not. Really not."

They were so close, and Remus didn't know if he was falling under some sort of Sirius spell or something, but, well, he really did seem sincere. Sirius wasn't just Sirius Black, he was also Padfoot. And Moony trusted Padfoot.

"Pads? I think I really like you" he said quietly, eyes closed. It was now or never.

There was a millisecond where everything stood still for Remus. There was no sound from the boy in front of him.

And then he felt the velvety lips on his own.

The kiss wasn't like last weekend – not filled with violent need and fighting for dominance.

But it was passionate, and light, and to Remus tasted sweeter than any Honeydukes Holiday Mix ever could. He chuckled lightly into Sirius lips at his own cheesy thoughts.

"Hey" whispered Sirius, "you better not be laughing at my snogging skills."

Remus smiled a little nervously. Sirius hadn't said it back yet.

"I'm not", he mumbled.

"Good. Because you'd better get used to them. I'm not letting your lips near anyone else from now on."

"Oh yeah?"

"Yeah. I like you too, you mangy wolf."

"Sleazy dog."

"Hey! Who are you calling sleazy, Mr. I-like-to-play-with-chocolate-sauce?"

To that, Remus had no snappy retort.

His lips were too busy elsewhere.