For the Flavors Prompt/Challenge on HPFC. Prompt: Sweet - Remus gets drunk for the first time. Sirius makes sure he's safe for the night.

AN: Underage drinking is illegal and has far reaching consequences. Unless your friend nearly uses you as a murder weapon (and perhaps even then), don't try it. Please.

All right, I'm done with the meddling. Very few people read these things, anyway. On to the story!

I own nothing.


"When Words Fail"

Sirius's memories of Hogsmeade all blur together in a mess of Marauders and girls and pranks and kisses and the Three Broomsticks and Madam Puddifoots (which elicits a shudder) and avoiding the Shrieking Shack like the plague.

There's one visit, though, that sticks out vividly on its own merit. It's not exactly a scheduled visit, but then, most of the Marauders' visits aren't.

This one, though, is different from most. It's more desperate, more serious. It's the only time Sirius travels the passageway alone, because Remus is already there.

It's the day after the stupidest decision of Sirius's life.


"Where's Remus?" he asks James, a bit frenzied. "He's not in the Hospital Wing."

"Sirius…" James starts in a tone that's almost warning.

"I know, James," Sirius interrupts whatever he was going to say. "I know. But I need to apologize."

James nods. "I'm not sure, though. Check the map." James is quite a bit shorter with him than usual, and as much as Sirius expects it, it still hurts.

Sirius grabs the map, but on his way back he stops by where James is reclining on his bed.

"I really am sorry, you know. It was stupid, and I know that."

James glances up at him. "I'm not the one you need forgiveness from," he says simply.

Nodding, Sirius murmurs as he's walking out the door, "I know. But you blame me for it too. I solemnly swear that I am up to no good." He taps the map and says Remus's name, which, if Remus is in the castle, should bring him up. It doesn't. "Tempus." The numbers that light up show that it's later than he'd thought it was. He spent four hours just thinking in the kitchens, and now it's 10 'o clock.

Yet, as far as Sirius knows, Remus has never left the castle by himself. Though, Sirius supposes, he's probably furious and not exactly thinking straight – or, not thinking straight for Remus. It would probably be quite reasonable if it were anyone else. Remus is just usually so logical that his illogicality is reasonable for anyone else. This train of thought hardly makes sense anymore.

Walking down the passageway behind the one-eyed witch by himself feels… foreboding. The passage seems so much darker, gloomier. Though he won't admit it, he's half running by the end of it because all he wants is to get out of there.

Coming to Hogsmeade at night is always easier – Honeydukes is closed, so there're no suspicious eyes to catch him out.

It's winter, and the snow on Hight Street crunches under his feet as he contemplates where in the village a sad, angry Remus would go. Not the Shrieking Shack, that much is certain. He doubts the bookstore, either, because Remus doesn't read when he's upset. The Post Office, Zonko's, and Gladrags all seem rather unlikely. That leaves either the Three Broomstick's or the Hog's Head, and, Remus being the logical person that he is, Sirius decides to check the Hog's Head – the barkeep is far less likely to report a student roaming the village than Madam Rosmerta.

He's right in one. Remus is sitting on a barstool at the Hog's Head. What surprises Sirius, though, is the fact that he's nursing a glass of crimson liquid that looks quite like firewhiskey.

Sirius has never seen Remus drink before. Remus is the Prefect, the rule follower. Seeing him breaking the rules without prompting scares Sirius, and it means that Remus is much more hurt than he'd guessed.

He nods questioningly to the barkeep, tilting his head toward Remus. The man holds up his hand, fingers splayed – five. Remus is on his fifth drink. Sirius frowns, but the barkeep just shrugs and says, "He seemed to need it."

Remus jumps five feet in the air at the voice. He whirls around unsteadily before catching sight of Sirius. "You! What're you doing here?" he asks indignantly, his words, surprisingly, only slightly slurred.

"Rem-" Sirius tries, but Remus interrupts.

"No, Sirius. Don' wanna hear your excuses. Don' wanna. 'M tired of it, Sir. Tired of you. 'M just… so… tired…"

Suddenly, he pitches forward. Startled, Sirius barely catches him.

"Is he…" Sirius starts to ask, before realizing, "He just passed out!"

The barkeep grunts. "Been expecting that a while. Surprised he lasted so long, honestly. 'Twas quite obvious that it was his first time touching the stuff."

"And you let him drain five glasses?" Sirius asks, appalled.

"Like I said, the lad seemed to need it."

Sirius sighs. "I suppose."

After quite a pause, the man asks, "I take it you're Sirius, then?"

Frowning, Sirius inquires, "How'd you…"

The man laughs. "I'm a barkeep, lad. People tell me things. I could tell you things about half this village. And your boy there, he's a talker."

"He didn't… He didn't tell you the whole story, did he?" Sirius asks with trepidation.

"Indeed he did. But don't worry yourself about it, lad. If I'd wanted to go telling people's secrets, I'd've been a reporter, not a barkeep."

Sirius nods. He hates trusting people, but it doesn't appear he has much of a choice.

"A word of advice, boy, perhaps unwelcome, but regardless. Apologize. He seems mad, but, really, he's just hurt.

"I know," Sirius murmurs guiltily. "That was what I came here to do."

The man nods. "Good. Because let me tell you something. He's a good lad, boy, and he loves you. And you only really get one shot at love like that. Don't screw it up."

Confused, Sirius nods. The barkeep can clearly see his confusion.

"I'm not much for messing in people's business, lad, but I've seen a lot of people mess up. People come here when they can't find a way to fix it. But you, lad, you've got that rare shot at making things better. I hate seeing people waste that."

"I won't," he says firmly, before moving forward and slinging Remus's unmoving arm around his shoulders.

"C'mon, Moony," he murmurs. "Time to go. Classes tomorrow, you know." Remus groans, refusing to wake up. "All right, then," Sirius tells him. "But you always say you hate it when I carry you."

Remus makes no response, so Sirius picks him up bridal style and carries him carefully to Gryffindor tower, stopping occasionally to check the map. He thanks Merlin for his position as a Beater – if not for that, his arms would be dead by now, but as it is, they're used to the strain.

When he gets back to the dorm, James and Peter breathe identical sighs of relief.

"We thought maybe he'd slaughtered you and was hiding the body," James explains.

Sirius chuckles. "Nope. Our little Moony was out growing up," he says, setting Remus down gently on the bed.

"Is he…?" Peter starts, then trails off.

"Completely toasted?" Sirius finishes. "Yup, pretty much." He pulls the blanket over Remus and goes to change for bed, but a surprisingly strong hand catches his wrist.

"Stay," Remus mumbles. Sirius hesitates, but eventually he pulls off his over-robe so that he's just wearing a T-shirt and pants, and crawls under the blankets. Remus curls up on top of him immediately, using Sirius's chest as a pillow.

James sets a wastebasket by the headboard. He smirks at Sirius's look. "You're going to need that," he says. Sirius grimaces, but James turns out to be right. Remus spends an hour with his head in the wastebasket that night, Sirius rubbing tired circles on his back.

When he wakes up in the morning, Remus has a throbbing headache and a new respect for the rules.

When Sirius wakes up in the morning, he has an apology on his lips.

And Remus forgives him, because, without saying a word, Sirius has proved that he's sorry, and that he never meant to hurt Remus. Because when words fail, actions speak. And Sirius's actions over the course of the night have spoken volumes.