Auld Lang Syne
Author: Lee West
Archiving: All FQF will be archived solely at this site until January 30th, 2005. After that, it's yours to do with as you will.
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended. I do not own Harry Potter, its characters, or anything associated with it. I'm not making any money from this story, and I don't intend to.
Challenge & Summary: Challenge #25: It's Christmas Eve and Remus has to work a night shift at a terrible job. How does Sirius help him out? Sirius brightens up Remus's bleak New Year's Eve. Quite nicely, as a matter of fact.
Author Notes: Although the challenge was about Christmas Eve, the story flowed better as a New Year's Eve fic. Hopefully the challenger won't mind. Thanks to Kate for the beta.
December 31, 1980, a little before 8 p.m. The evening was bitter cold, and the young man walking on the dock area was shivering. He was clad in an old brown coat; a knit cap, mittens and scarf in bright scarlet and gold managed to impart some warmth. However, the cutting wind coming from the river was brutal. He hunched over, trying to protect his face from the assault of the winter wind.
He walked more briskly, sniffling. His face was red and his nose running from the cold. Only a few more steps to go towards the old warehouse. He ran the rest of the way, took a key from his pocket and opened the padlock.
The warehouse was small, dark and deserted. It was usually also cold and damp, but not that night: it was warm inside. Mercifully, the cargo stored there that New Year’s Eve needed mild weather. He peeked at the tag on one of the boxes – orchids, hence the cozy temperature inside. Thank Merlin for small miracles, he thought. It could’ve been a meat cargo and this place would be freezing. He walked to the small cubicle where he would spend his New Year’s Eve. From his rucksack he took out a thermos of tea and a sandwich – his supper.
He was finally feeling warm enough to take his outerwear off. Inside he wore a security guard uniform. He had volunteered for the undesirable New Year’s Eve shift for two reasons: the substantial extra pay would be welcome; and he would not have to go to the party at James and Lily’s house.
Remus Lupin, werewolf, twenty years old, one of the star students of his year at Hogwarts and brilliant in Defence Against the Dark Arts, was working as a security guard at a Muggle warehouse.
He decided he didn’t want to think about that. It was a job way below his qualifications, but it paid for his small bed-sit and for food. He worked mostly in the evenings and actually enjoyed it. During the day the place was noisy with workers; at night he could read a good book in peace. The place had a Muggle telly for the guards, but Remus never turned it on during his shift. The noise interfered with his reading pleasure. It was an easy job, as not much happened at the warehouse, and it had strong doors and heavy padlocks.
Once, however, he had to fend off a gang of hoodlums who had managed to break into the place. There had been three of them, roughly the size of trolls, carrying clubs, against him, unarmed.
Remus wasn’t strongly built. It had taken a lot of persuasion on his part for him to get that job, as the manager of the warehouse had been looking for big men to protect the place. Remus had finally convinced him that he could do the work by showing great strength in spite of his wiriness.
The three hoodlums couldn’t see beyond the thin frame. They laughed, batting their clubs against their palms for good measure, and advanced towards the stupid young man standing in front of him. Normally the guards would just run for their lives when confronted with the gang, leaving the thugs free to ransack the place. That night the burglars thought they would be having some extra fun.
They stopped for a minute when the young man reached for something on his left side. They were surprised when his hand came out of his pocket holding only a thin stick. The burglars almost wetted themselves in laughter. It was really ridiculous: a skinny young man holding a thin stick in his hand! Then they started jeering at him, making mock fearful faces.
They advanced towards him, enjoying the torture they’d inflict. Laughing wildly, they approached Remus – and stopped laughing when he pointed the stick at them, said something in a foreign language and a big ghostly wolf shot from the stick and charged at them. As they scrambled to get out of the way of the strange fanged beast, they collided with each other and fell on a heap on the floor. Remus calmly approached them, the wolf growling next to him, picked up their clubs and broke them easily against a crate full of rocks.
He picked up the ringleader effortlessly by the collar of his shirt, although the man was far heavier, and pointed the stick at him. The man wriggled in fear and called for help. His cohorts, however, couldn’t move past the wolf who was keeping them at bay. Remus whispered a soft Obliviate at the ringleader. He took some of his memories, but not all. The two other men he obliviated completely. As the three of them looked like they were having a sweet dream, he performed his first ever act of violence. He threw the three of them out of the warehouse and onto the street. They stared blankly at him while he closed the heavy doors whose locks they had picked.
Once the full effect of the spell was over, two of the hoodlums would have no recollection of the skinny man or the wolf. The ringleader did remember, however, and would spend the rest of his life talking about a ghostly wolf that had shot out of a stick. No one believed him, of course, but the kind nurses at the insane asylum treated him with patience. He was very large, but docile like a teddy bear. And his tale was very entertaining.
The next morning Remus showed the picked lock to the manager, saying that he had overcome a solitary burglar, who unfortunately had run free. His merchandise being intact, the manager was thankful and even gave Remus a small raise.
He felt bad about using magic against Muggles, but quickly discarded the guilt feeling; it had been self-defence, after all.
After that first brush with the burglars, no one bothered him again. Nobody believed the ringleader, of course, but it was common knowledge that ‘something’ was amiss with the thin guard. Hoodlums talked – it was a small world, that of the underground.
Ready for his New Year’s Eve shift, Remus sat down on the chair in the cubicle where the guards kept vigil. The chair was purposefully uncomfortable: the security guards had to be awake and alert. He uncapped his thermos and unwrapped his sandwich.
As he munched on it, he thought about the conversation he’d had with Lily that afternoon. She’d tried to prepare a takeout container for his supper, but he wouldn’t allow her to carve the ham before the party. They’d argued a bit about it, and she’d almost succeeded. The Marauders were all a bit afraid of her, and did whatever was necessary to avoid her fury. But Remus was adamant and had promised her that he’d be back for a leftover lunch the next day, after he was through with his shift.
“Remus, I don’t know why you accepted this shift tonight,” she’d said, as she prepared a sandwich for him to take to work, “knowing we had a party. This is Harry’s first New Year’s Eve!” He had felt guilty, but had given her the only answer he could:
“I need the money, Lily. And you’ll have mostly couples here tonight anyway.”
“Not really. Kingsley’s coming alone. And I’ve invited a few of my girlfriends, so you may even start the year with someone new…”
Yes, but Sirius will have a date. And I don’t want any of your girlfriends, Lily, he thought.
Munching thoughtfully on the sandwich, he realized he’d taken the easy way out. He’d had a longtime crush on Sirius, which he’d kept a secret, of course. It had always been relatively easy to be around his friend, even when Sirius was snogging a woman next to him. Sirius was completely straight, and Remus had accepted the fact that he’d never be in the position of the woman Sirius was dating at the time. He’d never showed any jealousy. It was his secret and his alone. As long as nobody else knew, he’d be able to function normally around Sirius.
The problem is that someone had found out. A week before, he’d been with James at the Order’s headquarters when news came that a team of Aurors had been caught in a duel with some particularly nasty Death Eaters. It was Sirius’s team. News that one Auror had been killed brought Remus to panic. James had been nervous, too, but Remus, normally so controlled, had broken down. When a tired but unharmed Sirius stepped into Headquarters, the look of relief on Remus’s face was a telltale sign for someone as bright as James. The next morning he’d cornered Remus and drawn out the truth – there was more than brotherly love in Moony’s feelings for Sirius.
This was the reason he’d decided not to go to the party. He was sure James would look at him pityingly when Sirius shoved his tongue down his girlfriend’s throat at the strike of midnight. Remus John Lupin didn’t want anyone’s pity. He’d mentioned to James the reason he wouldn’t be going to the party, but had sworn him to secrecy. He’d made James promise that nobody would know, not even Lily, who was bound to unleash her fury on Sirius for being ‘an insensitive berk’. And Sirius, although quite used to being called a berk by her, might still demand to know what he’d done that time. And that would be disastrous, as far as Remus was concerned.
James had tried everything – he had begged, cajoled, blackmailed, but Remus was adamant. He’d join the Potters for lunch on the first. That he could handle, even if Sirius would probably be there, too. The day wouldn’t have the party atmosphere of New Year’s Eve, an evening you wanted to spend with the one you loved.
He finished his sandwich, threw the wrapper away, put his feet up on the desk and opened his book. It was a particularly good one, and he was hoping for no interruptions.
He was totally immersed in the story, not noticing it was already past 9 p.m., when he heard a faint rumbling noise outside. Thunder, he thought. But the weather report hadn’t forecast rain. The noise became louder and louder. He decided to take a look outside. There was a small lookout near the front door of the warehouse. He looked through it and saw only a dimly illuminated grimy street. He was already turning to go back to the cubicle when he heard the unmistakable sound of someone picking the lock of the heavy door. Not again! Not tonight! he thought, getting his wand ready. This time he wouldn’t waste precious time trying to negotiate with the burglars. His book was waiting for him.
He approached the door carefully and waited. Maybe the lock picker wouldn’t be successful, and he wouldn’t need to revert to magic. But the person on the other side was insistent. He heard a low curse, muffled by the heavy door, a short period of silence, an exclamation that sounded a lot like Alohomora! – and the door flew open.
Death Eaters! he thought. But before he could rationalize why Death Eaters would invade an old warehouse in Muggle London, he heard the familiar voice:
“Happy New Year, Moony!”
It was Sirius, clad in black trousers and a leather jacket, one hand still holding his wand, the other on the handle of his motorcycle. Strapped to the side of the bike was something that looked like a very small Muggle picnic basket.
“Sirius! What are you doing here?” asked Remus, once he was past being surprised.
“Spreading some holiday cheer. Now, be a lad and let me put the Black Beauty inside.” He looked around with a worried frown. “I don’t want to leave it outside, even if it’s protected by magic. This place looks rough!”
Remus opened the door wide, and Sirius idled the bike in. He looked at the inside of the bleak warehouse.
“Can’t believe you traded the comfort of Potterplace for this on New Year’s Eve, Moony.”
Remus gritted his teeth. He’d been so careful to avoid seeing Sirius tonight, and now here he was. Reminding Remus that it was a special evening, and that he was in this abysmally depressing place by his own choice.
“Well,” he answered flippantly, “I need the money. Unlike some people with rich uncles...”
“I know, I know, no need to be shirty. Come on, let’s eat, drink and be merry.”
“I’ve eaten already,” sulked Remus.
“You’ve eaten already? That puny sandwich the red terror made for you? That’s a poor excuse for a New Year’s Eve supper. C’mon, where can we eat? Is there a table in this place?”
“No, but there’s a desk,” he said, pointing at it.
Sirius looked warily at the rickety desk. He dragged it out of the cubicle and transfigured it into a nice table. He also transfigured two boxes into dining chairs. He put the tiny basket he had carried inside on the floor; with a flick of his wand, it resumed its normal size. It was huge!
From the basket Sirius took out a tablecloth, napkins, two candlesticks, china, silverware, two crystal wine goblets and two champagne flutes. Remus’s mouth was open; he hadn’t moved and was staring in amazement. The basket also produced a bottle of what seemed to be very expensive red wine and a bottle of equally good champagne. Sirius uncorked the wine deftly with a flick of his wand, leaving the champagne cooling in a bucket. He handed the cork to Remus, who took it automatically, still staring at the table in front of him. Sirius gestured for Remus to sniff the cork. The smell made Remus’s mouth water.
The seemingly bottomless basket also held an extraordinary supper. Soup, salad, ham, roasted potatoes, carrots and green beans, each in its own china serving dish. The next item from the basket made Remus’s eyes bulge – a three-layer chocolate cake, beautifully decorated and with the words ‘Happy 1981’ piped on top. Finally, Sirius made a brisk hand movement and a nice, soothing melody played in the air.
Sirius then motioned for Remus to start pouring the wine while he finished the last touches on the table. He gave it an appraising look and turned to Remus, who was still glued to the floor, staring at the table and at Sirius.
“Moony, where’s the wine? C’mon, lazybones, pour us a glass.” But Remus didn’t. Instead, he asked:
“Sirius, what’re you doing here?”
Sirius smirked. “Remus, I thought you were smarter than that. It’s obvious that I’m here to have a New Year’s Eve supper with you, right?”
“Why aren’t you at James and Lily’s?”
“I was there, cooking with Lily,” he smiled sheepishly. “That’s why I’m a bit late. I’m – ah – not quite proficient in the kitchen, you know? It took me a bit longer than I expected.”
“You made this?” Remus was incredulous. “Since when can you cook?”
“Well, cooking isn’t a specialty of mine, but Lily helped. Her cookbook helped even more. We’re having the same dinner she prepared for the party – a smaller amount, but the same courses.”
“Why?” Sirius seemed puzzled. “Well, she’s expecting about ten people and this is only for the two of –“
“No,” interrupted Remus. “Why did you do this? Why did you cook dinner for us and why did you bring it here?” In a strange way, Remus was upset about Sirius’s kindness. It was pity again, and he didn’t want pity from anyone. And yet it was hard to get upset at Sirius when he was right there, in all his gorgeous self.
“I cooked because I didn’t want to bring Lily’s dinner. And I brought it here because you obviously can’t go there!”
That was it. Pity. That horrible feeling of being pitied again.
“Well, I think you should take it back, then,” Remus said. He didn’t really mean it, but he was upset by Sirius’s apparent motivation.
“Why? You don’t like it? You like ham. And it tastes good; Lily made sure of that,” he added hastily.
“I’m sure it’s good. It smells good. It’s not that. I don’t need you to keep me company.”
“Remus, this isn’t nice. You want my food but not my company? I’m insulted!” joked Sirius.
“This isn’t a joke, Padfoot!”
“What is it then? Why are you sending me away?”
“You have a party to go to. You should go back to it.”
“I do have a party to attend, and it’s right here with you.” He started pouring the wine and offered a goblet to Remus, who accepted it mechanically. Sirius touched his glass to Remus’s, smiled and said: “Happy New Year, Moony.”
Remus answered warily, “Happy New Year, Padfoot,” and he took a sip of the wine. It was divine. The food smelled delicious, and his stomach betrayed him by growling loudly. Sirius grinned.
“Your stomach has spoken. Sit down, Remus, let’s eat.”
Dinner was extremely enjoyable. The wine kept flowing (apparently the basket was bottomless) and tongues loosened. The two friends reminisced about their school years and kept the conversation on happy things only. The world outside was grim enough, but in that ugly warehouse there was holiday cheer.
Remus wanted to ask Sirius about his girlfriend. She had to be upset about Sirius not being with her. Probably she’ll be going to the Potters’ afterwards, to ring in the New Year with Sirius. He had no doubt that Sirius would leave after dinner, after he’d done his good deed. Sirius, however, didn’t seem to be in a hurry at all. Remus refrained from asking about the girlfriend, lest Sirius looked at his watch and decided it was time to go.
They finally finished eating, and a flick of Sirius’s wand cleared the dishes. They had the chocolate cake (Lily had made it, Sirius confessed).
Remus was touched by the concern his friends had shown for him. Pity or not, they cared for him. Sirius had gone out of his way to bring a nice dinner and jolly company. Lily had coped with a little baby and two separate meals (he wasn’t fooled – Sirius and cooking were like oil and water). He had had a good New Year’s Eve thanks to them. But now they’d finished eating, and it was time for Sirius to go…
Sirius finished packing the empty dishes and took the desk back to the cubicle. Remus got up and was starting to transfigure the chairs back into boxes when Sirius stopped him.
“No, let me do it.” He transfigured both into a futon, where he sat down with his glass of wine. He patted the seat next to him, beckoning Remus to sit down, too. Remus obliged. Sirius looked at his watch – oh, the watch! Time for him to go, thought Remus. He was ready to say good-bye to his friend when Sirius said: “Perfect timing. Thirty more minutes to midnight.”
“You’d better go, then,” said Remus, with a pain in his heart.
“Why? Doesn’t your shift end at 8 a.m. tomorrow morning?”
“Yes, but you should go back to James and Lily’s.”
“What for? They have each other to kiss Happy New Year - and a lot of guests. They don’t need me.”
Remus couldn’t stand it any longer: “What about your girlfriend?”
“Sirius, don’t play dumb. Janet Wilcott, your girlfriend!”
“Oh, we broke up. I don’t have a girlfriend now.”
The pain in Remus’s heart eased a bit. “When did this happen?”
“The day Prongs told me you fancied me,” Sirius answered casually, sipping his wine.
Remus blanched and let go of his glass, which shattered on the floor.
“Moony! Now you don’t have a glass. That’s okay, though, you can share mine. And we’ll have champagne at midnight anyway.” He pointed his wand at the shards of glass and they flew to the trashcan.
Remus’s mind was on overload. He’d heard the words ‘midnight’ and ‘champagne’, which, of course, meant that Sirius would be staying with him. But the only thing he could think about was that James had betrayed his secret.
“Sirius, did James tell you that I fancy you?”
“Yes, he did. And he told me that you didn’t want to spend New Year’s Eve at his house because of my girlfriend.”
“And you broke up with her because of this?”
“Well, not because of New Year’s Eve…”
“Why did you?”
“Because James told me you fancied me, I told you.”
“But what does this have to do with your girlfriend?”
“I realized that I like you better than her. So I broke up with her. And here I am. New Year’s Eve is, after all, a time to be with the person you fancy, isn’t it?
Remus thought that maybe the wine had gone to Sirius’s head. “But I’m a bloke!”
“Yes, Remus, after sharing a dorm with you for seven years, I’d say I’d have to be pretty thick to not have noticed,” Sirius said patiently.
“But you like women. You don’t like blokes!”
“Well, don’t be so sure...” Sirius was grinning.
“You’ve dated men before?” Remus asked incredulously.
“No, not date-date. I’ve messed around with a couple, though. It’s good, too.”
“Who?” blurted Remus.
“Kingsley, for instance, if you must know,” said Sirius nonchalantly.
“Shacklebolt?” Remus was in shock.
“Yes, we used to have our own little celebration after Quidditch victories – Gryffindor’s or not,” he laughed.
“Kingsley is gay?”
“You didn’t know? Merlin, Remus, you aren’t very perceptive, are you?”
Remus was flabbergasted. No, he didn’t know. He didn’t know Kingsley was gay. He didn’t know Sirius was bisexual. He’d even spent his teenage years at Hogwarts trying to figure out why he wasn’t as girl crazy as James and Sirius were, only realizing he was gay after leaving school. He certainly wasn’t perceptive.
“Did James know about you…”
“Being bi? Yes, of course. We don’t have secrets. That’s why he told me about you.”
“You didn’t know I was gay, then?”
“Oh, for a while I was almost sure. But Kingsley told me you weren’t – so I thought you were just shy.”
“How did Kingsley know?”
“He told me he made a pass at you, and you brushed him off.”
I did? When did Kingsley make a pass at me? “I don’t remember him making a pass at me, Sirius.”
“Well, he said he did. He invited you to go to Hogsmeade with him in our sixth - his seventh - year and you told him you couldn’t because you had to study.”
Remus recalled the invitation. Was that a pass? I thought he just wanted my company – although I couldn’t figure out why. I wasn’t really part of his group of friends… And I did have to study. “I did have to study!” Remus was indignant.
“He saw you later with Sue Ackerby at Madam Puddifoot’s.”
Remus remembered the tall Quidditch Beater, the first woman ever to hold that position at Hogwarts. She was huge! “She grabbed me! She pulled me all the way to Hogsmeade. I told her I had to study, but she wouldn’t let go of me.”
“Yes, she was a big girl,” mused Sirius. “Anyway, I certainly didn’t know you fancied me – you hid it pretty well.” He looked at his watch again. “Five to midnight, Remus. Time for champagne.”
But Remus couldn’t move. “So you decided to… what? Do what with me?”
Sirius wriggled his brows suggestively: “Well, I’m open to suggestions, Moony.”
“You don’t mean…” Remus was incredulous.
“I mean whatever you want to do is okay with me. You know, I’ve heard this tradition that whatever you do at the ring of midnight on New Year’s Eve, you’ll do the whole year through. I want to be with you. You’re one of my best mates. You fancy me, and I think you’re damn attractive. Let’s do something fun at midnight, Remus. Who knows what’ll happen during the year?”
Yes, who knows? Remus was normally a cautious person, but here was his dream come true: Sirius asking him to have fun together. Why should he resist?
He smiled at Sirius: “Okay, let’s drink the champagne. Midnight is only one minute away.”
They poured the champagne and started the reverse count. At the stroke of midnight, the two friends embraced and shared a sweet kiss that soon turned passionate. I hope his tradition is true – I want to do this the whole year round, thought Remus, losing himself in the softness of Sirius’s mouth, feeling Sirius’s hands exploring his body, the effect of liquor making him dizzy – or was it Sirius’s mouth that was making him dizzy?
The roving hands started unbuttoning his uniform shirt, and he took Sirius’s shirt off. Soon all of their clothes were discarded and scattered on the floor. Sirius gently lowered him onto the futon.
Sirius started kissing Remus’s throat. His reward was a soft moan that made him shiver. He took a nipple in his mouth, and Remus started arching his back, losing himself to the sensations. Sirius’s fingers played with the other nipple and Remus’s body seemed out of control.
Sirius’s mouth and hands were doing things that Remus had never felt, not like this. He thought he’d die when Sirius took his cock into his mouth. The only coherent thought he could muster at that time was that yes, Sirius had certainly done that before. There was the right mixture of talent and experience. He wrapped his legs around Sirius’s waist. He wanted Sirius inside him NOW!
His friend must’ve read his mind or, most probably, he was too far gone himself and couldn’t wait any longer. He whispered a lubrication charm, and Remus felt a slick warmth inside him. He was just about ready to come, but used all his power to hold on – not now, not just now…
With coated fingers, Sirius stretched Remus carefully until Remus was begging Sirius to penetrate him. Slowly, too excruciatingly slowly, Sirius did. And they rode happily together in the first minutes of 1981.
After they came, they took a few minutes to regain their breath. Sirius kissed Remus softly on the lips and said:
“Happy New Year, Moony. This was a great way to start the year, wasn’t it?”
Remus laughed: “Sure, Padfoot. And, according to your tradition, we’ll need a lot of stamina in 1981…”