Like an Old Married Couple

Author: Kate of Kintail
Rating: PG-13
Archiving: All FQF will be archived solely at this site until September 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 SS #01: After graduating, Sirius and Remus decide to move into a flat together. However, they end up getting more than they both bargained for.
Author Notes: I am immensely grateful for my reliable, efficient, and incredibly skilled beta reader, circe. And thank you to whoever proposed this challenge- I had plenty of fun with it!


Sirius’ head snapped up. “What was that?”

Remus smiled and nudged the papers just a little closer to Sirius, practically pushing them off the table. “You asked if we were done here. I said ‘Almost’. There’s one part left to sign.”

Sirius sighed and picked up the quill as though he’d forgotten how one worked since leaving Hogwarts two days ago. He scratched his scraggly signature on the blank line beside Remus’ lovely one in contrast. Then he added the date, though he had to glance at the one Moony had put down to remember it was June 8th; now that they were out of school the days were all blending together for Sirius. His hand hurt for a moment as he did so but by the time he set the quill down, the pain was gone.

Now you’re done,” said the mousey building manager, Mrs. Treepot, collecting the papers and blowing on the bottom to be sure the blood signatures were dry. Then she shuffled them up into a single stack and tapped one edge against the desk repeatedly until the papers were straight and neat. She stuffed the lot into a large manila file folder and waved her hand at it. It took off, the folder sides flapping like wings, and nested comfortably in the middle drawer of the file cabinet just behind her. “Congratulations, Gentlemen. Mr. Lupin and Mr. Black, you’re now renting your first apartment.” She slid two sets of keys across the table to them.

Seated side-by-side, they both smiled at her. Then they turned to face each other, grinning. “What do you say we swing by the place and have a good look before we go collect our things from my parents’ house and the Potters’?” Sirius nodded eagerly in agreement.

“I can’t wait until we start fixing it up to feel like it’s ours,” Sirius told him as they climbed the stairs of the building.

“There’s no one I’d rather share a flat with,” Remus replied with a smile. He was slightly out of breath from the two flights already and had two more to go.

Sirius stopped him once they reached the fourth Floor landing. “Want me to carry you over the threshold?” he joked.

Remus laughed, jingling his keys in hand. “That’s for married couples, Sirius.”

“Yeah. I guess we’d have to start dating first for that, huh?” He said, shrugging. “But how about just for fun. Asmates?” He held an arm out in an offer, getting ready to scoop Remus up.

Remus took a step away, still laughing. “Thanks, but I think I’ll walk. I don’t trust you not to drop me.”

Sirius frowned. “Aw, Moony! You’re no fun. I hope you don’t plan on being so uptight once we move in. Once a Marauder, always a Marauder. Leaving Hogwarts didn’t change that.”

Remus slipped his key into the bottom lock, then turned and removed it. Then he fumbled for the key that fit the deadbolt lock on top. He held up his free hand. “I promise no lectures so long as you behave yourself once in a while.” The top lock clicked and Remus pushed the door open by the handle.

Sirius stood outside with a disappointed look on his face. “But, Moony, this is me we’re talking about!” Remus laughed, but they both lost the train of the conversation once they entered.

The flat was nothing special by normal standards but to Remus and Sirius it was breathtaking. As they walked through the empty rooms, they could envision their things all around and imagine the fun which lay ahead.

“I can put my writing desk over here,” Remus said, excitedly pointing towards a spot of beige shag carpet in front of a sunny window in the small living room.

“We can put the sound system on this side and the couch in the middle,” Sirius said, gesturing as well. “And maybe a sitting chair to the side here.”

“With a coffee table in the middle, if we can manage it,” Remus agreed, trying not to let his financial concerns get in the way of his idea of the ideal living room.

They had practically chosen draperies by the time they moved into the kitchen. “We can use the cabinet above the sink for herbs and potion ingredients, and put dishes in the ones on either side.”

Sirius nodded in agreement. “And there will be enough room for my bike against that wall there—”

“Hold it!” Remus put a hand on Sirius chest to stop him from advancing on his way over to inspect the indicated area. “You want to keep your motorbike in the kitchen?”

Sirius nodded innocently, though his grin was overwhelming. “I have to keep my baby somewhere, haven’t I? Can’t leave it out on the street for just anyone to mess with.” This was met with a disapproving look from Remus. “If you’re worried about how it’ll look, I’ll turn on its invisibility booster. Once that’s installed, of course.”

Remus rolled his eyes. “Yes, that would be lovely. I can just see myself running into it every morning and repeatedly breaking my foot.” Sirius tried not to laugh at the image and Remus’ words which dripped with sarcasm. He was intent on keeping the bike inside. “Just promise me you won’t work on it in the flat?”

Quickly, Sirius held his hand up. “I give you my solemn vow.”

The thought of charming his three bags of groceries to follow him up the four flights of stairs hadn’t occurred to Remus until he was nearly home already. The ice would surely melt in the stiflingly hot hallway if he took the time to set the bags down for any length of time to dig out his wand and perform the spell now. So, with much difficulty, he just managed to maneuver around them as he got out his keys and entered the flat.

Immediately, he tripped over a wrench set spread across the living room Floor. He felt his body jerk forward but he managed to keep from falling. One of the grocery bags tumbled out of his hands, however, and food fell out of the top. Luckily, nothing spilled directly onto the rug.

Sirius’ tools were all covered in oil or grease or whatever else oozed out of machines. The motorbike itself was in a state of disrepair, with several of its smaller parts removed altogether. Sirius, who was wearing just as many black smudges on his face and clothes as the thick, beige, shag carpet, looked over his shoulder with a smile. “Back so soon?”

“Sirius!” Remus exclaimed, exasperated. His mouth had fallen open. “What in the world were you thinking? We’ll have guests arriving within the hour!”

“Which is why I’m working here. You told me to stay out of the kitchen. You told me to fix things up. And she needs fixing.” He caressed the seat with great reverence.

“I meant the flat! It needs a proper cleaning.” Remus frequently used lightweight spells to keep it tidy, but nothing was as effective as a real, substantial cleaning. He really couldn’t fathom how it could have gotten so untidy in just the one week they’d been living there.

“Aw, Moony, it’s only a flatwarming party. They don’t expect things to look perfect.”

Remus sighed to himself. “Fine. I’ll do the cleaning, once again. Just get your tools off my living room rug, all right? And clean yourself up. You look a mess.” He took his groceries, including the fallen items, and headed to the kitchen.

Sirius swiped his hand against his face, only creating a bigger smudge across the bridge of his nose. He called after Remus with a correction. “Our living room rug!”

Remus put most of the groceries away, though kept some out for the party. He took out bowls and filled them with pretzels. And he checked on the contents of the crock pot that had been stewing all day; it seemed fine. There were a few small side dishes to prepare yet, and he wanted to get at least one more dessert in the mix as well. There could never be too much chocolate.

“Remus?” Remus looked over to see Sirius standing in the doorway.

His skin was glistening with moisture and his hair was dripping wet. Apparently he was in the ‘cleaning himself up’ stage of preparations. Remus stared, taking in Sirius’ bare, slightly hairy chest and barely noticing the two shirts Sirius brandished, one in each hand. “So, which do you fancy for tonight?”

Realizing after a moment of panic that Sirius had meant the shirts, Remus gave them his full attention. One was a conservative dress shirt, colored white with thin, light grey stripes. The other was a striking blue and much more Sirius’ style, though Remus couldn’t remember him ever wearing it. “The blue one,” he said instinctively.

“Yeah?” Sirius lowered the other and lifted the blue one, inspecting it more closely. “S’not too loud for this?”

Remus shook his head. “No. It’s you. And they’re coming here to see you.” Plus, Remus was quite certain it would go well with his eyes.

Sirius nodded decisively, then looked back at Remus. “They’re coming to see you, too,” he said cheerily. “And our place, of course.”

Remus groaned inwardly. “Got to finish the food and the cleaning,” he said hurriedly. He glanced at the time and felt panic rush through him. There wasn’t nearly enough.

When he looked back, Sirius had pulled on the blue shirt. He’d left the buttons undone at the cuffs so that they flapped loosely. And he’d done up all the buttons in the front except for the top two. This shirt definitely said Sirius. “I’ll help,” Sirius said, stepping beside a shocked Remus and taking up the box of brownie mix. “We’ll get it all done. Don’t worry.” He shook his arm, the cuff flapping loosely and he looked worried that it would drag in the mix. “You sure about the shirt?”

“Oh, absolutely,” Remus said with a smile that really wanted to be a grin.

After pouring the mix into a bowl, Sirius sighed and stretched his arms out towards Remus. “Shouldn’t have done long sleeves. It’s warm in here. Can you roll them up for me?” Remus rolled the sleeves up starting at the cuffs until they were past Sirius’ elbows. The shirt was soft, and Sirius’ skin was still slightly damp. Warm. Smooth. Remus tried not to linger on those thoughts and headed quickly to the freezer to check on the ice when finished. He wasn’t sure there would be enough. Not a moment later, Sirius had another request. “Actually, Moony, can you take over here? I want to go put on cologne before I forget.” Remus finished making the brownies as Sirius, unsurprisingly, did not return.

Despite Remus’ pre-party pessimism, the flatwarming went well, all things considered. Peter was consoled for not having a date and was repeatedly steered towards available girls. James and Lily could barely keep their hands off each other. Several former members of the Gryffindor Quidditch team whom Sirius had invited flirted with the former Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw prefects whom Remus had invited. And all seemed to have a nice time talking about their times at Hogwarts, now that they’d all left it, and what lay ahead for them that summer and beyond.

Remus kept their drinks freshened and Sirius made sure there was always food coming, almost as if they’d rehearsed their roles ahead of time. One nice dinner, a little dancing, and several games of charades later, it was time for everyone to head out for the night.

Flanking the door, Remus and Sirius bid them all farewell with handshakes, pats on the back, and hugs in more than one case. And when they had their apartment to themselves again, both sighed and relaxed considerably.

“Three compliments on the shirt, Moony,” Sirius said, plucking at it.

“Not surprised,” Remus replied. Sirius looked just as good in it now as he had before the party. “So how about you do the cleanup since I did most of the cooking and cleaning?”

Sirius froze, staring hard, strong, unblinkingly.

Remus sighed. “Too much to expect from you?” Sirius grinned and nodded. Remus waved dismissively at him, then headed to the kitchen to start the dishes.

“You ready to go, Moony?” Sirius asked, his beer sloshing and his arm sliding around Remus’ shoulder as he stumbled to Remus’ side.

Remus shifted on his barstool and nodded. “Yeah. My leg’s been hurting since my mission last night. I think I’m done dancing,” he fibbed. His leg felt significantly better, actually, but dancing with a bunch of loose women wasn’t exactly his idea of a fun night out. Dance clubs just weren’t his scene. He only went along with Sirius for support and to unwind with a drink or two. And, of course, because Sirius wanted him along. But drinking with Sirius only ever lasted a few minutes because Sirius inevitably made eye-contact with some scantily-clad woman and left Remus to pursue her. And Remus spent the rest of the night sitting on a barstool, waiting and hoping to go home. Now, Remus put on a smile and looked over at Sirius. “I’m definitely heading out, but you can stay if you’d like.”

Sirius shook his head. “Nah, I’m spent.” He burped silently, for which Remus was grateful. “And I don’t want to stick around if you’re not having any fun.”

Remus smiled appreciatively now. “Thanks, Padfoot.” He’d actually been itching to get home to curl up with a cup of tea and the new novel he’d taken out of the library. Plus, he was rather flattered that Sirius had considered his feelings and thought of him at all tonight.

Sirius leaned closer, his lips hovering just beside Remus’ ear. Remus could smell Sirius’ scent strongly now, even hidden beneath the cloak of alcohol and cigarette smoke. Sirius exhaled a slow, hot breath and whispered, “Plus, I’mmuch too drunk to Apparate home by myself.”

Remus’ smile faded. He sighed deeply.

Sirius put on a bit of a pout. “Please don’t go into disapproving mode on me,” he said.

Realizing that Sirius had heard it all before and probably wouldn’t remember a lecture in the morning anyway, Remus nodded. “It’s okay. I’ll help you home. Wouldn’t want you splinching yourself.” He took Sirius’ beer from him and set it on the counter. He dropped a few Galleons beside it to cover tip for both of them. Then he rose and offered his arm. Sirius held on tightly.

They Apparated home and Sirius’ legs buckled the moment they arrived. Apparently, just Side-Along Apparation seemed to have taken quite a bit out of him. Luckily, Remus grabbed hold of him before he fell. Then he walked the man down the hall to Sirius’ bedroom. “Need to use the bathroom first or—”

Less than a step into the room, Sirius broke free of Remus, shaking his head. He stumbled forward and collapsed face-down onto his bed. “Jus’ wanna sleep. Okay?”

“Not yet,” Remus said, taking out his wand. “Assio Hangover Tonic!” Sirius pulled a face, but Remus forced him to drink a capful of the hangover potion. It wouldn’t get rid of his hangover completely, but Sirius would be far better off in the morning and would regret it if he hadn’t had some.

As Sirius lay on the bed, falling asleep, Remus removed his shoes and shirt… and then his trousers. Remus suddenly found himself staring down at a Sirius wearing nothing but his shorts. And from this angle, Sirius had quite a backside. Remus bit his lip and forced himself to pull the covers up over Sirius and tuck him in.

“There we are,” Remus said, patting Sirius’ back through the blankets. His pats grew softer and gentler until they became pets. As soon as he realized this, his hand froze in midair and he backed away slowly. “Goodnight, Sirius,” hewhispered before quickly retreating to his own bedroom.

Like most mornings, Remus came awake slowly. It was rather warm in the day already for early July. He supposed he shouldn’t have been surprised considering how warm it had been the previous night when he’d been out working on a mission for the Order. He rolled over in bed and switched off his alarm before it had a chance to go off. Then he stayed in bed an extra few minutes, listening for the birds. After several weeks of living in the flat, he had come to expect hearing them outside his bedroom window every morning. This morning was no exception. A few moments later, he heard a few merry chirps and twitters. Gathering up his energy, he pulled himself up out of bed. He donned his tan terrycloth bathrobe, grabbed a change of clothes, and padded down the hall to the loo.

As always in the mornings, the hot shower felt heavenly. It was a week after his transformation, but his body still felt stiff and tired, especially after a long night’s sleep. But the hot water cascading over his skin loosened him upand relaxed him. It was encouraging and soothing, and he could only think of one thing that would have made it better, though he tried hard not to think about it. Eventually, albeit reluctantly, he shut the water off and steppedout.

Like every morning, he sat at the kitchen table and relaxed as he began his day. He breakfasted on biscuits and jam, preferably strawberry. And he read The Daily Profit while drinking a large, steaming mug of highly sweetened tea. He liked to get through the whole paper without a disruption.

This morning, he heard movement in the hallway and smiled. Sirius was up. Must be a school day, otherwise Sirius wouldn’t be awake before teatime, let alone breakfast. As Remus flipped through the paper and stirred his teaabsentmindedly, he heard a shriek from down the hall.

Unfortunately, this too was a common morning event. Remus cringed as he heard Sirius come storming out of the bathroom and stop in front of the table in the kitchen. Sirius was dripping wet and wearing nothing but a towel around his waist, held in place with a tight fist.

Remus hid his head behind his newspaper, though peaked out a little, sheepishly. “Good morning, Pad—”

“It is not a good morning,” snapped Sirius. “And do you know why?”

Remus ducked behind the newspaper completely and whispered, “Because I used up all our hot water again?”

“Because you used up all our hot water again!” Sirius cried, throwing one hand up in the air, keeping a tight hold of his towel with the other one. “You know I have to get to Auror training by eight.”

“You might have gotten up earlier or showered last night,” Remus pointed out.

“Might have done, sure. But I didn’t and I deserve a decent shower as much as you. Maybe more. I’m the one who needs to get up and go to training while you…” Sirius trailed off, instantly regretting his choice of words.

“Just because I can’t become an Auror or get a normal wizarding job doesn’t mean I’m not working hard for the Order and trying to make a living same as you!” Remus retorted harshly.

Sirius took a step back and gave in at once. They had been through this before and Sirius clearly didn’t want to have this argument again right now. “All right. I’m sorry. I know you’re working.”

Remus sighed and accepted Sirius’ apology with a nod. “And I’m sorry I used up all the hot water again. Would you like me to go in and perform the spell for you?” His hand tightened around his newspaper to keep it from shaking at the thought of going into the bathroom with Sirius.

But Sirius shook his head “No. I can do it.” The spell on the showerhead would ensure the water coming out was at least somewhat warm, though not quite hot. “I just would have liked some warning before I stepped into an icy cold shower first thing in the morning.”

Remus nodded again. “I’ll leave you a note on the mirror next time.” He caught himself and coughed. “I mean, I’ll try not to use up all the hot water next time. Ah, have a good shower.”

Sirius left, muttering something under his breath about playing the werewolf card again. Remus chose not to call Sirius on it and went back to his paper and his tea.

Remus lay awake thinking, because he simply couldn’t fall asleep to such a din. The walls in their flat had turned out to be far too thin, which normally wasn’t much of a problem but for the fact that Sirius and the woman he had brought home were being far too loud in the other bedroom.

Remus had tried silencing spells, but the apartment resisted them inside. It was probably some safety precaution having to do with the smoke detectors or something. So Remus could do nothing to prevent the sounds from reaching his ears. And what sounds they were, too.

The woman Remus hadn’t even caught a glimpse of made loud cries and whimpers as though whatever Sirius was doing was breaking her. She pleaded for him not to kiss her there, wherever ‘there’ was, but then begged him to continue a moment later after he’d apparently listened to her and stopped. Then when something felt very good, all she could say was a high-pitched and breathy “Oh!” After quite a long time of it, Remus began to have doubts that she even knew the rest of the alphabet.

Sirius’ sounds were far more appealing. Sirius continually made a low growling, gurgling sound, like a masculine purr. He would mutter sweet things to her, complimenting her lips or her nipples and telling her how much he wanted tomake love to her. When he was nearing the end, he grunted just a tiny bit.

Remus buried his face in his pillow and lay on his stomach in bed, trying to ignore the sounds and trying to deny what was going on in the room next door. But the bed squeaked and the headboard bumped against the wall. They sounded like they were having the times of their lives.

It was a far cry from their nights back in Hogwarts. Sometimes the Marauders would sneak into the Honeydukes cellar and nick some sweets. Other times they’d raid the kitchens, which yielded a better selection but was much less challenging due to the generous nature of house elves. But practically every night they’d all wind up together on one of their beds. They’d share their notes and homeworks. And then they’d stay up late planning and scheming, or just talking. They’d play Truth or Dare, and the next day Snivellus would just so happen to break out in hives. Or they’d talk about who they fancied and James would blush furiously whenever they brought Evans up, even if it took years for him to admit to it. And they’d all fall asleep in bed together, in a mess of books and food and body parts and blankets. Sometime during the night one or more would wake up and stumble back to his own bed. But on the nights when they chose Sirius’ bed to congregate on, Remus stayed there until morning. Many times Sirius would wake up, give him a pillow, and go back to sleep rather than boot him off.

Remus really hadn’t expected apartment living to be anything like the dormitory. For one, James and Peter didn’t live there. And somewhere, deep down, Remus had expected Sirius to bring girls home. He knew quite well why. But Remus hadn’t thought they’d always stick to their bedrooms and never sit up talking. And Remus certainly hadn’t thought he’d have to listen to Sirius’ exploits with the girls.

During the month and a half now that they’d lived together, Remus really hadn’t expected to feel so distanced from Sirius. Remus sighed and buried his head under his pillow. This muffled the sounds a little better, so Remus curled up in a tight ball, closed his eyes, and really tried to fall asleep, hoping they’d just finish already and go to sleep as well.

No matter how many times he saw it, it never got any better. The dark mark hovering over a house was always, always, unsettling. Remus and Frank Longbottom had arrived too late to prevent the tragedy, but they had managed to stupefy and capture two of the Death Eaters responsible before they had a chance to escape. So at least there had been something of a success that night.

Most nights of patrolling passed without significant incident. Not because Voldemort and his Death Eaters were staying quiet, but because they’d learned to be extra secretive about their movements and actions. Which was, of course,worse. It was almost pointless to keep patrolling, but Dumbledore seemed to think it helped, so the Order continued.

Remus Apparated back to his street, clutching his broomstick in hand, terribly exhausted. He’d been hit in the left arm by some numbing jinx, and feeling was only now slightly returning to it. All he could think about was getting home finally and crawling into bed for a good, long rest. Earlier in the day he’d planned on waking early to work on his book, but since patrolling ran so long, he was sure he’d sleep in tomorrow morning as a much needed reward.

After doing a spell to make certain he hadn’t been followed, he headed into his building and climbed the stairs to the flat. It was tiresome and tedious, and just as his legs threatened to give out, he reached the proper landing. He fumbled with his keys a moment, the jingling sound echoing so loudly in the deserted halls that he hoped he hadn’t woken anyone up. He unlocked the door, both with keys and magic, and entered with relief.

However, the moment he stepped inside, he gave a start. The lights were still on and Sirius was on the couch in his pajamas, sitting sideways so that he faced the door. Sirius sat straight up, looking incredibly concerned. “Are you allright?”

Remus set his broom down against the cloak rack by the door. “A little worse for the wear, but I’m all right,” Remus said with a nod. “But what’re you doing up?” he asked, unconsciously rubbing his numb upper arm with his other hand.

“Waiting for you,” Sirius replied. “You were supposed to be back from patrol three hours ago. I Flooed Dumbledore and he said he hadn’t heard anything. And I got worried you…” He swallowed hard. They all knew very well the risks they took as part of the Order of the Phoenix. But none of them liked to actually say it out loud. “But you’re all right?”

Remus gave him a weak smile. “Yeah, I am. There was Death Eater activity in the south. A family killed. Frank and I caught two Death Eaters that were there. We had to wait for authorities to come round and collect them. The whole place was ransacked, not just destroyed in a struggle. Looked like they’d been searching for something. Dunno what but Frank and I inventoried everything magical and important-looking that we could find just in case they missed it. The two we captured weren’t carrying anything, but they weren’t talking either.” Remus sighed and flopped down onto the other side of the couch. “It was an unexpectedly long night.”

Sirius nodded sympathetically. “I wanted to stay up until I heard. I’m glad you’re home safe.”

Remus smiled again, flattered and a bit shy. “Really nice of you to wait up for me. Thank you, Sirius.” He leaned a little closer. He didn’t expect a hug or anything, but maybe a friendly, reassuring pat on the arm wouldn’t be too much to hope for.

Instead, Sirius sprang up and Remus fought to hide his disappointment. “I filled the kettle for you. In case you wanted tea. Do you? Want tea, I mean?”

Remus sighed deeply, far from disappointed now. “That would be heavenly.” He was much too tired to get up, so he watched Sirius heat the water up with a spell and pour it into a mug. He brought it over on a small tray with spoon, teabag, and the pot of sugar. Though Remus usually took liberal amounts of sugar, he didn’t put quite as much in this time because of the late hour. He set the tray on the coffee table and clutched the warm cup hopefully. He drank, smiled, and sighed again in that order.

Then, before he realized Sirius was still up, a blanket was draped over Remus’ front and Sirius had settled right beside him on the couch. “Your arm’s hurt,” he said, touching it gingerly.

Having forgotten, Remus paused a moment before nodding. “I was hit by a hex.” Sirius swore lightly and muttered something especially derogatory about Death Eaters. “It went completely numb, but I’m starting to get feeling back in it,” he admitted. “How could you tell?”

Sirius rubbed his hand up and down it, as though warming it so the feeling would return. Though it was lighter than it should have been, Remus could feel the touch, which he was glad about for more reasons than one. “I know you. I know the way you sit and drink your tea. Are you sure it’s all right? I could call up St. Mungo’s and ask if there’s a spell to return the feeling more quickly.”

Remus shook his head. Just his luck. The one time Sirius decides to touch him like this, he couldn’t even feel it properly. “Thanks, though. I’m sure it’ll be fine by the morning.”

“Well, if you’re not, you tell me and I’ll Floo the hospital immediately. All right?” Remus nodded and Sirius sighed.“M’glad you’re home safe,” he said, then rose from the couch. “Goodnight.”

“Goodnight, Sirius. Thank you again for the tea.” He was glad to be home safe, as well. He wasn’t scheduled to patrol again for a week because all the research he was doing to help the Order took precedence, but he didn’t think he’d mind so much if it meant coming back to Sirius like this.

“Yup.” The man crawled backwards on all fours, then rose to his feet with a grunt. He readjusted his jeans at the waist where his tool belt hung. Then he rubbed his large hands together, shaking his head. “That’s a broken stove all right.”

“We know that much,” Sirius said, sounding a bit annoyed. He’d crawled around and looked at it for over a quarter of an hour before they’d called their landlady, then the recommended repairman. Remus hovered just behind Sirius, ready to jump in if he was needed to keep Sirius’ anger in check. “That’s why we called you. Question is: can it be fixed?”

The man nodded. “Oh, of course.”

Sirius’ and Remus’ faces broke out in smiles.

“But I don’t have the part you’ll need.”

The smiles faded.

“Can you get the part, then?” Sirius asked, now impatient in addition to annoyed.

“Of course,” the man replied.

Hope blossomed yet again.

“But we don’t have any down at the warehouse. So I’ll need to order it special. It’ll take about a month in all. Very busy time right now. Lots of backorders. Plus, transfiguring something else won’t do. There isn’t a guarantee that it’ll be a permanent transfiguration in this case and if it wears off, it’ll break more on the inside, which’ll mean more repairs.”

And hope died.

Then man continued. “And before you start thinking about calling up another company, I can assure you it’s futile. We’re the only one what deals with these babies.” He reached over for his clipboard and scribbled a few notes on it. Then he unclipped the bottom copy and handed it over to Sirius. “I’ll stop by your landlady and arrange the rest with her. Have a good day, fellas.” With a pop, he’d Apparated out of their kitchen.

Seconds later, Sirius slammed his fist down on the range, causing a sound so loud that Remus jumped. “Damnit! What the heck are we supposed to do for a month with a busted range?”

Though he would not admit it, Remus found Sirius’ anger a bit amusing. After nearly two months in the flat, he’d only seen Sirius use the stove twice. While Remus’ cooking wasn’t exactly world class, Sirius seemed to prefer it to makingsomething himself. “Looks like we’ll be eating a lot of take away,” Remus said with a shrug. Sirius pulled a face at the idea. “Well do you have some magical solution?” Remus asked. When Sirius did not answer, “We could try that Italian place ‘round the corner tonight.”

Sirius thought for a moment, then he sighed with resignation. “Guess we don’t have a choice.” His stomach rumbled. The stove would have to have broken down right before dinner.

“I’ll go dig up the menu,” said Remus.

Strange place. Not safe here. Got to get free. Got to go out.

Padfoot circled the wolf, trying to calm him down. But Moony would have none of it. The chains they had both thought unnecessary were suddenly something they were very glad to have. The wolf strained and pulled at his bonds, snarling andscratching at everything he could touch. Down to his last resort, Padfoot stopped right in front, growled, and stared him down.

Challenger. Wants what’s mine. Must get free. Need to fight. Need to hunt. Moony looked back at him,amber eyes glaring… then softening. Remember now. Not a danger. Friend. Friend dog. He whimpered pitifully, tail between his legs and ears flat back against his head.

Padfoot’s body rose and fell with a deep sigh. He was relieved that Moony had given into him at last. He leaned close and licked Moony’s snout.

Moony nuzzled back happily. Good friend. Nice friend. Friend who helps me.

Padfoot folded his legs under himself and lay down, and Moony followed his lead without question. They curled up together on the Floor, around the thick chains. Padfoot put a paw on Moony’s back, keeping him down just in case.

Dawn couldn’t come soon enough. The wolf became a man again, and the dog did the same now that it was safe. His hand rested on Remus’ bare back and his whole body was pressed against Remus’ side.

Sirius pulled back and Remus shivered. Sirius grabbed a blanket from the bedroom and wrapped it around Remus. Remus opened his eyes and looked up at him. “What happened? Bad as last time?”

Sirius nodded. He tilted his head towards the wall where they’d rigged up the chains. Remus looked over to see great holes in the wall where the ends of the chains were no longer. Paint and plaster had been ripped off and littered the rug. “Did I get out?” Remus asked worriedly. “Did I hurt anyone?” He licked his lips to see if he could taste blood.

“The chains were heavy enough, just like you thought. You moved slowly. Could stand but that’s about it.” He rubbed the back of his neck. “You weren’t very happy about being here, though.”

Remus sighed and tried to lift his arm, but the chains were far too heavy.

“Oh, let me get those for you.” Sirius retrieved his wand and waved it a few times. The shackles clicked open and the chains slithered out from beneath the blanket like iron snakes. “Better?”

Remus shook his head. He still found it difficult to lift his arm. His whole body felt worn out and exhausted. “Maybe we should have learned from last time. Maybe we shouldn’t have tried this again. I can’t keep my mind intact like before.”

“Without James and Peter, you mean?” asked Sirius. “Because I can call them over next full moon if that would help. You know they wouldn’t mind.”

He thought a moment, then shook his head again. “No, it’s not that. It’s this place. It’s unfamiliar, not like the shack.”

Sirius cocked his head. “So what are you suggesting exactly? That we take a train up to Scotland every month? We could do that in the summer, but certainly not when school starts up again.” As accommodating as Dumbledore had been, he couldn’t possibly like the idea of Remus traveling to Hogwarts every month to transform and putting his students in needless danger just because the shack smelled like Remus’ territory.

“There are other—”

“The ministry program?” Sirius said, astounded. “Or going underground? No way. You may be a werewolf but you’re a wizard three-hundred and sixty-five days and three-hundred and fifty-three nights out of the year. And I won’t let you forget that. Maybe it’ll just take time for you to feel like this place is your territory. But it’s our home now and this is where you belong. Right here with me.”

Remus gave him a weak, apologetic look.

“Now I’m just going to get some Mercurochrome and bandages for you.”

Remus shivered as he struggled to sit up, “And while you do that, I’ll do some cleaning up here. The wall—”

“No you won’t!” Sirius said, easing him back down. He grabbed a pillow from the couch and slid it under Remus’ head, then tucked the blanket more tightly around him. “That can wait. You just rest right now. Get your energy back.”

Remus shivered and hugged the blanket to his chest. Then he glanced back over at the giant holes in the wall and the rug. Their rug. “Doesn’t look like we’ll be getting our security deposit back.”

Sirius chuckled. “Bandages,” he reiterated. “And a large cup of hot chocolate.”

Grinning, Remus nodded appreciatively.

The strange, high-pitched squeal filled his ears, and Remus jumped back from the sink just before the pipe burst. Water spurted up from the drain and Flooded out from behind the door to the cabinet beneath the sink. The water soaked into his socks, and Remus reached forward and opened the door to see the split in the pipe and water spraying out.

Backing away, Remus rubbed his sleeve over his face to dry it off. Then he immediately headed straight for the living room, which was right off the kitchen. He skidded to a halt in front of the fireplace and spoke the words to start the fire. They kept a line of Ukrainian nesting dolls on the mantle piece. The set was painted to look like canines, each a different breed of dog. The largest in the series was a big black dog, of course. Remus reached for it and screwed it open, wood squeaking. He took a few conservative pinches of the powder within and threw it into the fire. When the green flames rose up, he stuck his head in. “Godric’s Hollow. Potter residence.”

Flames leapt at his ears, and smoke burned his lungs, but he resisted the urge to cough for fear the Floo network would misinterpret his cough as a destination. But then James’ living room came into focus around him, and he saw James and Sirius sitting on the couch together. “Sirius,” he choked out and finally let himself cough a bit.

James and Sirius looked his way. “Something wrong, Moony?” James asked, leaning towards the fire.

“Yeah,” he said, suddenly rethinking his call. “Um, Sirius, I think the sink’s broken.” Through the flames he saw Sirius roll his eyes.

“Great. First the range, then the walls, and now the sink,” Sirius mumbled, not quite out of Remus’ earshot due to his heightened senses. “Well did you call Mrs. Treepot about it?”

Remus hesitated, looking nervous.

“Or the repairmen? We still have that number on our fridge. They do the plumbing for our building, too, remember? We talked to them less than a month ago.”

Remus didn’t answer. He saw Sirius roll his eyes a second time.

“So the sink breaks and your first instinct is to call me, so I can come right over and fix it?”

Remus chewed on his lower lip, and nodded. “Yes,” he admitted. He glanced over to the kitchen to see how shiny the Floor was the puddle of water was quickly becoming a pool. He needed to get in and do a spell to contain it at once before it got to the living room and soaked the rug.

“I’ll be there in a few,” Sirius said with an annoyed sigh.

“Thanks,” Remus replied quickly but quite appreciatively. Then pulled his head out of the flames and darted over to the kitchen, drawing his wand.

Tennis shoes slapped the pavement in heavy, uneven beats as the two ran down one alley, then a street, and then another alley. Remus was glad when Sirius choked out “My turn!” and flung out his arm. Remus clutched Sirius’ tightly through his leather jacket and tried to catch his breath before Sirius Apparated them away. They stood, panting, in another dark alleyway. Sirius bent over, his hands on his thighs, coughing but trying to do so quietly. It was so cold already that Remus wasn’t sure he’d notice if a Dementor were to find them. And it was so dark he could barely see Sirius and the dumpster just beside them, let alone a Death Eater. So he closed his eyes and relied on his hearing.

It didn’t take more than a few seconds for him to hear it: the pop that indicated someone else had Apparated close-by. From the sound of it, right around the corner. Remus had a pain in his side from so much running, and his mouth longed for a taste of water. He’d been injured earlier during the pursuit and to even think of moving was torture. But he didn’t want to die here either. He grabbed Sirius’ arm and straightened him up. Remus’ eyes were wide and telling, and Sirius nodded in understanding. Together they took off down the alley at a sprint.

They reached a door opening and closing in the wind and they took it. Remus wheezed out a Lumos spell and they ran by wandlight through what seemed to be an abandoned warehouse. There was a maze of hallways to the right, with boxes stacked to the ceiling in places. When Remus thought he heard something other than the two of them, he put out his wand and they moved in the pitch black darkness.

Their progress was much slower this way, but they kept going. When one stumbled or ran into a wall, the other grabbed him and pushed him onwards. Finally they found a good place to hide. It was an office with but one door and a largewindow in that same wall. They quickly removed the glass, hopped through it, and replaced the glass with a flick of their wands. Then they sat down on the Floor just below the window, with their backs to that same wall. If someone looked in, they could easily be missed unless that someone got right up to the glass and looked straight down. And even then, Remus and Sirius had a trick or two up their sleeves that might buy them a few extra seconds for an escape.

So they sat and waited, letting their breathing slow, though their pounding hearts continued at full speed, as though they were still running. “Must have some tracer spell for tracking people who Apparate,” Sirius reasoned. “Heard aboutthose in class last week but they’re supposed to be hypothetical still.”

“Not any more,” Remus whispered back, coughing a little. His chest ached, his legs hurt, and his lungs and nose were burning. “How many do you reckon were there? I counted at least twenty Death Eaters.”

“Twenty-two and three Dementors,” replied Sirius, who had gotten a better look at them. “But I’m sure it’s just the one of each following us, and last I heard, Dementors can’t Apparate so I think we lost that one.”

Remus nodded and swallowed hard. In the comforting darkness, his eyes wanted desperately to close. Sirius and Remus had been up for two days straight and Remus’ eyes weren’t the only part of him which was exhausted tonight. But he fought against his desire to sleep. He rubbed at his nose, which was itching fiercely and was about to comment on it when he heard something. He froze in fear. Normally the two of them would be able to take one Death Eater easily. But ifhe was given time to call his buddies, twenty-something plus Dementors was far too much for the two of them. Escape was their only option right now, and even that seemed doubtful.

Soft footsteps sounded far behind them and to their right. Sirius heard them that time, as well, and immediately slumped down, just to be sure the top of his head didn’t poke out above the window and into the line of sight. Instinctively, Remus pressed himself into Sirius. His body was almost trembling but his hand and the wand in it were steady.

The footsteps neared, echoing in the passageways. Everything around them began to get a little bit brighter. Remus could see Sirius’ pale, tense face and his wand held at the ready as well. Their surroundings in the office appeared in a hazy yellow glow and Remus realized that the Death Eater was using Lumos while searching for them just outside the office.

Remus and Sirius held their breath and hoped for the best. The footsteps stopped just on the other side of their wall and the wandlight shined in right through the window. There was a lengthy pause, and the doorknob was jiggled. But then the Death Eater moved on. Slowly, the light faded away, as did the footsteps.

It became very dark again, but their eyes adjusted after a while. They waited nearly five minutes after the last moment of complete silence before either sighed in relief. “I think he’s gone,” Sirius said.

Remus nodded. “Think so, too, but didn’t want to jinx us.” He rubbed at his nose again and sniffled lightly.

“You all right?” said Sirius, looking over concernedly. “Cold?”

“No,” Remus answered without thinking about it. The nights were growing colder as August made its way towards September, but this warehouse was especially chilly. “I mean, yes,” he corrected himself. “I’m bloody freezing, actually. But my nose… it’s all itchy. It’s all the dust in here. Obviously I didn’t want to sneeze or cough or anything and give us away.”

Sirius snorted and nodded. “Yeah, thanks for that. But… sorry about your allergies.” He was more than familiar with Remus’ tendencies and sensitivity after seven years of Springs and exploring dusty passageways and Herbology classes. “Guess there is a downside to those heightened werewolf senses.” Sirius leaned forward and swung his arms back. His hands pulled at the cuffs of his jacket, then at the sleeves, until he’d slipped it off completely. “Here,” Sirius said, setting it heavily in Remus’ lap. “Least I can help with the cold.”

Starting to shiver now that the danger had passed, Remus wasted no time in putting on Sirius’ black leather jacket. It was hot and heavy on him and he started warming up the moment it was on thanks to Sirius’ body heat. Remus whisperedand sighed, “Better now.”

“Good,” replied Sirius. “How ‘bout your knees?”

With everything else, Remus had nearly forgotten. He looked down at his jeans which were split open at the knees and bloodied. He’d managed to perform a simple cleaning spell but bandages had been out of the question as they would haveprevented him from running. At least they’d stopped bleeding now, but they didn’t look very good and he imagined they looked worse when not in the dark. “Not so great, but I’ll manage. These jeans have had it, though.”

Sirius nodded and tugged at the cuffs of his sweatshirt now, pulling the sleeves down to cover as much of his hands as he could. “Yeah. Whose idea was it to go patrolling in this part of London on the coldest night of the year so far in Muggle clothes?”

“Moody’s,” Remus replied. “Thought we’d be less of a target.”

Sirius rolled his eyes and spoke sarcastically, “That worked brilliantly. Crazy Auror.” He shivered and cupped his hands to his face, blowing hot air into them.

“You’re cold,” Remus stated the obvious. He went to remove the loaned jacket but Sirius shook his head.

“You’re hurt. Need it more than me,” he protested.

Remus laughed. “You berk, it’s your jacket!” Again he tried to take it off raising his arm up to slip it out of the sleeve.

But this time Sirius’ hand stopped him, holding the jacket in place. “Keep it,” he said sternly. Then he ducked under Remus’ arm and scooted right against Remus’ side. “We’ll share it. Just keep me warm.” He shivered and crossed his arms over his chest. Remus paused awkwardly, then wrapped his arm around Sirius’ torso, hugging him close.

Sirius still shivered a little, but then again, so did Remus. And it was a few minutes before Sirius shook with the fiercest yawn Remus had ever seen. “M’sorry,” Sirius mumbled, closing his eyes. “So tired.”

“Me too,” Remus replied, thinking about how warm and comfy his bed was and how he’d give just about anything to be there now instead of cowering in a freezing cold warehouse at four in the morning, trying not to be murdered by a maniacally evil wizard’s minions. But if they really did have a method of tracking apparating, it wasn’t safe to go anywhere right now, let alone home. They’d just have to stick this out a little longer and hope for the best. Remus tried not to think about where he’d rather be. Hesitantly, Remus suggested, “How about we take turns dozing off. I’ll take the first watch because my hearing’s so good.”

Sirius considered the offer for a few moments, before he nodded. “Yeah. Makes sense.” He yawned again, shaking at the force. “I’m not going to be much good until I get a few minutes of sleep anyway.”

“You want to take the jacket and lie down?” Remus asked, ready to remove it again and give it back to Sirius. The cold and shivering would keep him awake, at least.

But Sirius shook his head and leaned it back against Remus’ arm and the office wall. “I’m all right like this.” He opened his left eye and looked at Remus. “That is, if you are.”

Remus nodded. “I’m as well as I can be.”

Though clearly exhausted and losing the battle to stay awake, Sirius still managed to look sympathetic. “We’ll get your cleaned up as soon as we get home,” he said, gesturing to Remus’ cuts. Then he sighed. “Wish we were back home right now.”

“You do?” Remus said, trying to keep the mood light. “Even with the broken range and the thin walls and me using up all the hot water in the morning?”

Sirius chuckled and somehow, almost impossibly, snuggled even closer. His cold nose pressed against the side of Remus’ neck. “Even with all that,” he agreed, his breath warm against Remus’ skin. “I miss our flat.”

Remus had to admit he missed it, too. But, as he hugged Sirius close to keep him warm, he realized he was pretty damn happy being where he was right now, too. If this was what it took to be close to Sirius again, he wasn’t going to argue much. “We’ll be back soon,” Remus whispered reassuringly. “The sun’ll be up in five hours or so.”

“Mmph,” Sirius agreed, practically asleep already.

“Sleep well, Padfoot,” Remus whispered.

The scratch of quill against parchment was usually an agreeable and calming sound for Remus. But tonight he’d been writing and re-writing the same sentence so many times without getting it right that he was just about ready to crumple up the whole manuscript to date and toss the lot in the fire. He really needed to get this chapter completed by the end of summer and the only breaks he could afford to take now were to take a few sips of tea.

He was hunched over his desk and lost in thought when Sirius came home. Nevertheless, he lifted his head, put on a weak smile, and gave him a pleasant “Welcome home, Padfoot.”

Sirius dropped his cloak on the Floor, having missed the coat rack by at least a meter on his way towards the desk. “Chinese take away tonight?” he said, spotting the cartons littering the desk. “Brilliant. I’m starved.”

Before Remus could intervene, Sirius snatched one up and peered inside, frowning when he found it empty. “I was hungry, too,” Remus explained, gathering up the cartons, which were all empty, and dumping them in the waste basket. Dribbles of sauce slowly leaked out onto the balled-up pieces of parchment within; a fitting end to rejected words.

“Still could have saved me some,” grumbled Sirius, backing up, then flopping over the arm of the couch and landing on the cushions with a bounce. “Would have been nice to come home to a meal.”

Remus raised an eyebrow. “Well excuse me. You seem to have forgotten the meals I’ve made you last night and the night before and the night before that…”

“Those aren’t tonight. You could have ordered extra so there’d be something for me at least,” Sirius retorted, sounding a bit more on edge than usual.

Remus thought he knew why. His hand, squeezing his quill ever tighter, began to cramp up. “Didn’t know what time you’d be home, did I? Plus there are plenty of leftovers in the fridge already.”

“My training ends at five o’clock. You know that,” Sirius reminded him.

“Yes,” Remus nodded. “And it’s now…” He took out his gold pocket watch and regarded it for a long moment for dramatic effect. “Quarter-past eight.” He sighed and stuffed the watch away. “You went out drinking with James after class again.”

“So what if I did?” said Sirius. “I’m allowed, aren’t I? I can’t always be the good boy like you and stay in all the time.”

Remus pointed out, “I stay in because I have to work.”

“Yeah,” laughed Sirius, lying on his back and staring up at the ceiling. “Because you’re getting so far with your book, aren’t you?”

Remus felt his blood starting to boil now. He forced himself to put down the quill before he broke it. “Not a lot of publishers would take a chance on a book by a werewolf. But it’s an excellent job for me and I needed the advance. I spend a lot of time on it because I want it to be good.” He waved his hand at the rest of the living room, seeing that Sirius was now watching him. “Plus I do work for the Order here and I work around the house cleaning—”

Sirius gave a snort.

“And what’s that supposed to mean? As though you know something about cleaning? You never lift a finger around here unless I tell you to. And even then it’s questionable.”

Sirius sat up, glaring at Remus now. “Yeah, well, at least I don’t leave dusty old books and used tea bags all over the flat!”

Remus gasped slightly as the blow struck. Even if he had to admit he did that… and he could see how it might be a tad annoying to accidentally stick one’s elbow in a wet teabag… he wasn’t about to let himself be labeled the messy one here. “And like you’re much better?” he said, standing up and rounding the desk to make his accusation. “You smoke fags when I’m not home and you think I don’t notice the smell!” He sharply raised his arm and pointed at his nose, his long sleeves swaying on his arm from the movement. “Werewolf here, remember?”

“How could I forget?!” Sirius said, getting up as well to point over the couch to the wall which still needed some repair after last full moon. “Your wolf self tries to destroy this place once a month. Though you seem to do a bang up job on your own, what with the range and the sink.”

Neither of those was my fault!” Remus said, his words starting to come stronger and faster now. “Unlike the dent in the side of the oven where a motorbike fell into it.”

“You notice everything I do,” Sirius said angrily. “And even though you don’t chide me every time, you give me that look like I’m supposed to know better.” He pointed at Remus, practically bouncing up and down. “There! You’re doing it right now!”

“That’s because you should know better. You’re an adult wizard now. You’re not an annoying little kid running around and needing to get away with things.”

“Annoying?” Sirius snapped, storming over so close that his rather flushed face was only centimeters from Remus’. “Look who’s talking Mister Don’t-talk-to-me-while-I’m-reading-the-morning-paper!”

Remus was aghast and leaned closer, getting right into Sirius’ face with his accusation. “What about you, Mister I-never-get-enough-attention-so-I-only-play-loud-music-when-my-flatmate’s-trying-to-write?!”

“Oh you think I’m trying to get your attention when I do that, do you?” Sirius asked, practically shouting.

“Yeah, I do!” Remus shouted back. “You make me so—” But he wasn’t given a chance to finish.

As though they’d planned it from the very start of the fight, they both leaned so close that their lips touched. It was a strong, angry kiss. They both seemed to fight against it and fight to keep the other held captive by it as well. Each moved his face, lips, tongue in an attempt to make the other concede. But all that resulted was one wild, fiery kiss that didn’t stop until they were simultaneously both out of breaths and out of moves to try.

They pulled back, blinking at one another in silence, otherwise standing motionless.

“Git,” Remus whispered finally. “Didn’t want you to find out this way. Why did you have to go and let me kiss you like that?”

Sirius shyly licked his lips. Apparently the kiss had finally rendered him at a loss for words.

“Stop it,” Remus whispered, closing his eyes against the temptation that was Sirius’ mouth. Now that he knew what it felt like, what it tasted like, Remus was going to have to work even harder at being normal and distancing himself. That is, if Sirius would even let him stay in the apartment instead of booting him right out on his poncey arse. And before he could try to regain normality, he felt the lips against his again.

This time they weren’t quite as angry. But they still moved with strength. And a bit of something else. Desperation or longing or… maybe desire. Remus opened his eyes for a moment to see Sirius kissing him eagerly. A hand cupped his cheek, and Remus’ eyes fluttered closed. He wrapped his arms around Sirius’ waist, holding him close and kissing back with all he had left in him.

And when they separated a second time, a smile played on Sirius’ mouth. “Never thought…” he said, speaking softly now, just above a whisper. “When you agreed to share a flat with me, I thought it was just ‘cause we were mates and all.”

“It was,” Remus said quickly, honestly. “With the war and my transformations and all, I just wanted a friend close by. The fact that I’ve fancied you for years barely entered into it. But now that you know, I can pack up and leave,” he offered.

Shaking his head, “Don’t want you to leave. We made this place together. We share it together. It’s our home.”

Sirius’ hand swept past Remus’ temple and his fingers streamed through Remus’ hair. Remus resisted the urge to whimper with pleasure and, instead, smiled and leaned into the touch. “Sirius,” he whispered, his voice straining with emotion, most of which was pain. He closed his eyes again. “Please don’t touch me like that unless—” His breath caught in anxious anticipation.

Sirius’ lips were so close that he could nearly feel them again. The sensation he could feel was Sirius’ hot breath against his face. “Thought you were smart, Remus. How many times do I need to kiss you before you catch on that I’m not running away from this and that I kind of like it?”

“Once more should do it,” Remus replied, speaking so that his lips brushed Sirius’ and his sentence ended in the kiss. This one was just as strong, but much more tender. But when Sirius moved in closer right in the middle of the kiss, Remus felt something hard and warm press into his thigh, and he went weak with desire and relief.

Remus found himself sighing happily when they pulled away. And he was smiling, too. “Don’t think this means I’ll go easy on you when it comes to cleaning this place up.”

Sirius chuckled. “So long as you don’t think this means I’ll actually clean up more.”


“So when we got there it was just this gigantic troll—” Sirius’ hand gesture bumped into the bowl of peas and sent a few flying.

Remus caught the bowl before more damage could be done and narrowed his eyes at Sirius. “Sirius!” he hissed. “Sit down before you break all our good dishes.”

Sirius looked down with his best puppy-dog face, then obeyed and lowered himself down into his seat at the table. “You said I could tell the story,” he pouted.

“And so you can,” Remus said, patting the bowl as though to reassure the peas that they were out of danger, at least until they could be eaten. “But I’m sure Lily and James would prefer to eat the food I cooked, rather than wear it.”

Not caring at the moment to carry on with the story, Sirius turned to Remus beside him in a bit of a huff. “Oh, and you’re implying that I didn’t lift a finger to help with the meal?”

“Threatening the range every ten minutes to behave itself and not break isn’t exactly helping, Padfoot!” he laughed.

“Before you go criticizing my technique, I’d like to point out that it didn’t break again, did it?” Sirius laughed as well.

Across the table, Lily giggled and James could not suppress a smile. But it was the situation that had amused them. “It’s a wonder we didn’t see this coming back in Hogwarts,” James commented.

Lily agreed, nodding. “You two act just like an old married couple.”

Remus felt Sirius’ hand sweeping over his thigh and resting in his crotch. There was definitely more than the safety of the peas for Remus to want Sirius sitting down beside him again. He smiled pleasantly so their dinner guests would not suspect what Sirius was about to be up to. He replied, “Almost.”

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