Notes: Once again, many thanks to Anne for betaing and being such a great sport about my incessant mistakes and making me hit my head against the wall due to a confusion between 'predator' and 'prey'.  How long have I been in this country, again?..  The title comes from an idea that can be found in John Fox's "The Boys On The Rock".  Read it.  Now.

Warning: Contains slash.  Will eventually contain graphic sex between two males.  If this isn't your cup of tea, please don't read on.  You have been warned…

Dedications: To Sekhmet, on principal, so to speak.  And Happy Birthday, Annechka! ;)

~*~

The day had been perfectly normal for young Sirius Black.  He attended all of his classes with the rest of the fourth years.  He antagonized his Professors with cheeky comments that they knew they could do nothing about because he was still, sarcastic bastard or no, one of the brightest students in the entire school.  He ate lunch with his friends.  He got into another row with that greasy git Snape – though he didn't come too close, since he was afraid of the probable assault on his keen sense of smell (it had been rather heightened lately, and he wondered if their Animagus spells and potions were finally taking effect.  What would he become, a predator animal?  He really hoped so.)  He took a shower after his late-night Quidditch practice and afterwards, exhausted, fell into bed. 

He didn't fall asleep right away, and instead talked to Remus, whose bed was nearest to his own.  Remus was feeling a bit better – the previous night had been a full moon, and the shadows under his eyes were still dreadfully dark – and he seemed all for a late night chat with Sirius.  James was apparently even more exhausted than Sirius, their captain having run all the chasers through more rounds than they could count, and he was already blissfully asleep in his bed, murmuring something that sounded very suspiciously like "Lil".  Sirius stored the fact away in his mind, lest this new ammunition come in handy in the future.  Peter was in the common-room, doing some late night studying.  Probably tearing out his hair, Sirius reckoned, but he was so tired, today of all days, he really didn't feel like going down there and helping the poor bastard.  Some other time.

Remus was half-lying in his bed, head propped up on his arm, looking at Sirius with solemn eyes.  Sirius was exasperated.  Hadn't they already been through this?

"Look, Moony, it's going to be fine.  Really.  We none of us are going to die, I promise you."

"Well, what if you end up…splinched, or something?"  He winced at the mere thought.

"We're not trying to Apparate here, mate," Sirius reminded him, raising an eyebrow.

"All right, fine, not splinched – half-turned into…whatever animals you would become, what then?  Going to walk around with hind legs and a human torso, are you?  I hear that isn't very popular with the girls, you know." 

It was good to know that even in such serious situations Remus never lost his humor.  Sirius was comforted, because, truth be told, he was a bit scared.  After all, the transformation process was extremely difficult.  Only a handful of wizards ever made it happen successfully, the others having undergone extremely painful repercussions to their mistakes.  Sirius gulped.  Well, they were who they were.  They could do it, if McGonagall could.

"We'll be fine, Remus, I promise.  I think it's starting to work already, too."  He smiled at the way Remus' head perked up and even lifted off of his hand.  Even his mouth fell open a little.

"Really?  How do you know?  Could you –"

"No, not yet, but I feel my sense of smell becoming stronger.  Like, right now, I could tell you what kind of soap you used.  From where I'm lying."

"Really?  What is it, then?"

"Mmm…"  Sirius closed his eyes and sniffed.  A smell of pine and fresh assaulted his senses.  It was unconsciously pleasant and he sniffed again, smiling to himself.  It was a really nice, sort of…cosy…clean…kind of smell.  He opened his eyes. "Pine."

"Wow.  That's impressive."  Remus smiled and let his head fall back onto his pillow.  Sirius cocked his head and watched the candle light flicker over his friend's face.  Remus had a very nice face, he thought suddenly.  It was just pleasant and easy to look at.  Familiar, too.  Nice eyes.

"I can't believe it's going to work…" Remus said, looking at the ceiling.  Sirius started.  He realized that he was staring and looked away.

"I know.  James reckons it'll be soon.  I can't wait.  Can you imagine how much mischief we can get into if we're all animals?"  He sighed.  Those would be their glory days.  He really couldn't wait, fear or no fear. 

"Roaming the forbidden forest…"

"Meeting other magic creatures…"

"Howling at the moon…"

"Running…"

"Together...."  They said the last word simultaneously.  A double pun, Sirius realized a second before he grew crimson and quickly turned away.  He heard swift rustling of sheets – Remus must have done the same thing.  It was odd … why had he felt this embarrassment?  All they said was…that they would run together.  Remus and Sirius…and James and Peter.  Together.  All of them.  Right? 

"Ahem, well, anyway…  I should go to sleep, I'm still knackered from last night," said Remus, his voice oddly muffled.  Sirius turned and saw that his face was buried in his pillow and his long neck was unusually pink.  What he could see of it, anyway.  Perhaps it was some sort of breathing problem associated with the full moon.

"G'night, Remus."

"Night, Sirius."

It was a perfectly normal day.  It was the night that brought an unnerving new development.

~*~

Sleep came unsurprisingly easy.  Sirius never had any trouble sleeping, his daily activities ensuring that he be thoroughly exhausted by the time his head hit the pillow.  But this time, the dreams were a bit different.  He felt…strange.  It was a dark tangle of sweaty sheets, legs, arms, oddly hot breath and, for some reason, light brown hair, all building up and up and squeezing at his insides, wrenching pleasure out of him, transporting him higher and higher towards some strange vortex until…

Everything exploded in a flash of brilliant white light. 

He woke up. 

He was, indeed, sweaty.  He was also wet.  Gasping, he looked down at the source of the moisture – his sheets twisted around his crotch – and stared, still trying to catch his breath.  It felt … amazing.  Weird.  Incredibly, indescribably … good.  And the only thing he could really remember was the hair and the scent.

Pine.

Sirius groaned and rolled over.  It was going to be a long night.

~*~

"Ungh…eurgh…bright…too bright…"  Sirius grunted and buried his head deeper into his pillow.  Where was this light coming from?  Hadn't he shut his curtains?  After a long, sleepless, self-questioning and berating night, he had finally fallen asleep when the sun began to peek over the hills and wasn't quite ready to join the rest of the awakened just yet.  His wand still lay by his side from the clean-up charm he had had to perform.  Sirius had, quite unfortunately, fallen asleep during that particular lecture in Charms, and it took him a good six tries until the mess finally disappeared from his tangled sheets.

"Oy, wake up, you lazy arse!"  A sickeningly cheerful voice called from somewhere far away, booming over his pounding head and making him wince.  James could be a right prat sometimes.  Sirius groaned again.

"James, go away."  He tried tugging the curtains back, but his hand closed around empty space.  It fell back to dangle off the bed.

"Oh, no, Black, you are not going back to sleep.  It's eleven.  You can get up now, just like the rest of us mere mortals." 

Bastard.

"Wake me up when it's bloody noon, James, I'm not getting up.  You'll just have to get me up."

That had been a mistake.  Just as he was falling back into sleep, a warm cover of unconsciousness closing all around him, Sirius was brought back to earth with a crash.  And a splash. 

"ARRRGHHHHHH!" 

His arse throbbed painfully, as well as the elbow that he landed on after having fallen out of his bed, and he was completely soaked.  In cold, freezing water. 

"You…you…bastards!"  He yelled over the general uproar of laughter that seemed to surround him.  He looked up through his soaked hair and saw Moony's laughing face.  Thinks it's funny, does he…  A brief image from a previous dream came to his mind without warning, and he quickly quashed it, burying it deep, deep, deep inside his mind.  Remus looked more sympathetic than James, though – that one was howling with laughter, doubled over, tears soaking his blue eyes, glasses askew as he bobbed up and down.  Sirius thought a good kick would do the trick, and followed his thoughts up with actions, kicking James in the shins.

"Argh!"  James teetered dangerously on the edge of standing and sprawling and finally fell down, glasses falling off and skidding towards the wall.  Now it was Remus' turn to howl with more laughter and for James to give him a good kick.  The domino chain continued until all four friends were laughing from their various positions on the floor.    

When the laughter had finally subsided to chuckling and an occasional hiccough, Sirius wiped his eyes.  They were wet both from the water that had so unceremoniously been dumped on his head as well as from the tears generated by laughter.  Well, now there was really nothing he could do but get up.  After all, his bed was soaked in freezing water, just like the rest of him.  Shivering, he got up and headed for his trunk.     

Having gathered up his trousers, shirt, shorts and various and sundry other objects needed for a shower, he headed towards the bathroom.  He dumped his clothes on the bench and undressed, yawning loudly. While wiping his sleep-deprived eyes, he climbed in the shower.  Ever grateful for the invention of hot water, Sirius was finally able to think clearly, with no best friends prodding him in the sides, or…other friends invading his subconscious. 

Sirius sighed.  What the hell was that, last night?  What was that dream about, anyway?  He woke up feeling absolutely…elevated.  Was that the right word?  Yes, yes it was – he felt elevated, elated.  Amazing.  There was another person involved, and he feared to even think the name of that person.  It couldn't have been…right?  Wasn't that weird, or wrong?  From what he knew of adolescence, he had had a wet dream.  That was supposed to be…sexual.  Sex, to every healthy male, meant girls.  Why had his subconscious featured…Remus..? 

A sudden wave of panic overtook Sirius as the name finally made its way to the very edge of his thoughts, and he gasped, the hot water suddenly scalding, stifling, not letting him breathe, needing escape, escape, escape…  He pushed on the flimsy shower curtain and lost his balance.

THUD.

He had fallen out of the shower stall so quickly that his feet slid and he had ended up on his rear end for the second time in half an hour.  The slick floor was cold against his heated skin and it felt surprisingly good.  He closed his eyes and breathed in deeply.  He was all right.  He was fine.  He was. 

"Sirius?"  A concerned voice called from the door and he had time enough to look towards it to see the looks of utter shock on the faces of James and Remus, Peter's head barely visible behind them.  Sirius smiled a weak smile and only then realized that he was completely starkers.  His cheeks heated up, and he scrambled to his feet and jumped back inside the stall.  Taking a deep breath, he poked his head out of the curtain and made himself grin:

"Well, show's over, you can go on with your mornings now, nothing left to see!"

"Are you all right?" James asked, his glasses already fogged up from the steam, making him look slightly owlish.  Remus was still gaping, his mouth hanging a bit open and cheeks red from the heat of the shower.  Peter's small watery eyes were as wide as Sirius had ever seen them.  He hadn't made that big a spectacle out of himself, had he?

"I'm fine, James, really!" he smiled as he wiped his wet forehead and pushing the hair plastered to it away.  "I just slipped, nothing serious!  Or, well, you know, nothing – "

"Don't dare say it.  I can see that you're fine, nothing cataclysmic.  All right," James breathed out, "See you at breakfast, then.  And try not to have any more…accidents?  We know your head is thick, but it might not survive a third meeting with the floor." 

Ignoring the bar of soap that Sirius had aimed at his head, James turned away and left the bathroom, Peter at his heels.  Remus wasn't moving, however, even as the soap slid across the floor and stopped at his boot.  He still looked rather concerned, and Sirius wished he would go away.  A concerned looking Remus was the last thing he needed at the moment.  He had to be alone.  Looking at Remus suddenly became difficult for him – such a contrast to last night, when he…

When he had stared like he had never seen Remus before.

Bugger.

"Remus, I'm fine, really, I'll be out soon, all right?"

"All-all right.  Just be…er…careful…yeah.  Ummm…all right, see you, then."  Remus' eyes looked bigger than usual as he finally turned around and left.  Sirius let out a breath he had apparently been holding. 

He closed his eyes and leaned against the slick wall, his shoulder blades digging into it painfully.  He was definitely in a mess now. 

…to be continued