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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: Full Moon1: The original challenge. How did the pups first meet and get together? A common goal lends a bond to Remus and Sirius from their very first meeting, and its effects linger years later when their relationship begins to change.
Author Notes: A big thanks to Runespoor for beta reading this story!
Remus Lupin had known pain. There were deep scars that blemished his hands, and even more that crisscrossed his heart. He had known fear - paralyzing, agonizing fear. He had faced his own mortality and wrenched it back by a thread. He had known loss, the kind of loss that kept men locked inside their own loneliness for fear of breaking in the outside world.
Remus Lupin was eleven years old.
And now he found himself facing - even with all the fear he had known before - what may have been the scariest moment of his life. Because what frightened Remus most of all - more than death, more than pain, more than werewolves - was other eleven year olds.
At least, that was how it felt as he climbed the steps of Hogwarts for the first time. Other first year students surrounded him, talking excitedly, and whereas he halfheartedly joined them he found himself feeling a bit overwhelmed. He just didn't know what he should say to them; it had been years since he had really interacted with children his own age, and he wasn't sure if he could remember how.
What would they do, if they found out? A small voice in his head whispered discouraging things to him as the crowd moved farther into the castle on the horizon: no sense in making friends now, since you're was bound to lose them by the end of the month anyway. Trying to shake the voice out of his head, he told himself that it would be fine; they wouldn't have to know... He was so grateful to Dumbledore for giving him the opportunity to come to Hogwarts, but he couldn't help but think that the headmaster must have been completely off his rocker to consider it.
Dumbledore and his mother tried to explain to him the precautions that had been taken - something about an abandoned house, and a secret passageway, and a newly planted tree... apparently it all fit together somehow to save his ass. Was it possible, really possible, for him to live as a normal eleven year old boy for twenty-eight days out of the month? He dared not hope.
"Hey there!" A hand clamped on his shoulder, and he looked up to see a thin boy with blonde hair and large teeth with whom he had spoken briefly on the train.
"Hi." Remus forced a smile and told the small, discouraging voice in his head what it could go do with itself.
"Are you nervous?" the boy asked, his voice shaking slightly. "My brother's in Ravenclaw so I'm really hoping I'll end up there with him... my mum and dad will be so disappointed if I end up in Hufflepuff instead 'cause I'm not smart enough."
"My mum was in Ravenclaw!" chimed in another boy who was standing just behind them. He was tall and gangly with dark brown hair, and wore glasses that kept slipping down his nose.
"Was she very smart?" the blonde boy questioned.
"Oh, sure. Always trying to get me to read things. She said it'd be a cold day in hell before the Hat would put me there, though. I'm not really so into books, I guess, unless they're the kind that tell me about Quidditch. Do you two play?"
Remus shook his head, and noticed that his companion did as well.
"Well. I imagine everyone will have a chance to learn! And really, I'm hoping to get into Gryffindor." The Quidditch lover's eyes wandered to the other students and lingered on a sullen looking boy with greasy black hair. "Now there's a future Slytherin if I ever saw one."
Remus followed his gaze, and the blonde boy looked skeptical, saying, "Well, you can't really tell by looking at someone, can you?"
The dark-haired boy shrugged. "You're right. Boy, I think I'd just die if I got put into Slytherin though. Everyone knows that's where all the ones who go bad start out... Dark wizards, Dark witches..."
Remus felt his throat tighten. Dark creatures. He vaguely heard the other two boys begin discussing a book called Quidditch Through the Ages, but his mind was swimming. Engrossed as they were in their conversation, they didn't even seem to notice when he made his way to the edge of the mass of students, where he could quietly panic in private.
As Professor McGonagall explained the sorting process to the rest of students who were listening intently, Remus ducked behind a pillar and started chanting to himself. "Please not Slytherin. Please not Slytherin." That would just be the last shovelful in my grave, he thought. It would prove everyone right; werewolves were evil, and so of course the evil werewolf would be put into the evil house...
Suddenly, he heard something very familiar, coming from the other side of the pillar. A boy's voice quietly repeating, "Not Slytherin. Damnit, not Slytherin." Unable to hold back his curiosity, Remus slipped to the other side and saw a dark-haired boy with his tie swinging loose across his shirt. The boy looked up.
"Oh, was that you?" he asked, digging his heels into the ground and leaning against the pillar with his arms crossed. "I couldn't help but overhear your affirmation and figured I'd give it a try too. Every little bit helps, right?" He surveyed Remus for a moment. "So, do you have a family full of dark wizards too?"
"No," Remus said quickly.
"Well I guess any reason not to be in that house is as good as another. I'm Sirius, by the way." He stuck out his hand, realized it was covered in dirt, wiped it on his pants, and then stuck it back out again.
Remus shook his hand. "I'm Remus."
"Well, Remus," Sirius began, grabbing his arm and pulling him back into the sea of first years, "It looks like the moment of truth has arrived."
As they walked, he continued talking, all the while trying somewhat unsuccessfully to tie his tie. "I'll tell you what. Let's make a deal. If we both get put in Slytherin, I'll kill you and you can kill me." His voice was light, but his smile faltered slightly.
Remus couldn't help but laugh when Sirius knotted the tie and pulled it up, sticking out his tongue as his simulated a noose. "And what if we get put into a different house?"
"Then we'll celebrate!" Sirius bellowed, flinging his arms out and nearly knocking down a small, red-haired girl standing next to him. She gave him a dirty look, but he continued talking to Remus, oblivious. "And how about this - if we're not in Slytherin I'll buy you a Butterbeer first chance I get. As thanks for inspiring me to do that little invocation. Even if one of us ends up in Hufflepuff!"
Remus smiled. "You do know we're not allowed into Hogsmeade until third year."
"Well, you'll still be here, won't you!"
Not so sure about that, Remus thought, but just nodded as they stood in line in the middle of the Great Hall.
Sirius was one of the first to be sorted, and Remus watched in anticipation as the Hat seemed to take its time and then blurt out "GRYFFINDOR!" with a great deal of enthusiasm. Sirius punched a fist into the air triumphantly and gave a little bow to the cheering table of Gryffindors. McGonagall frowned at him, so he made his way to the Gryffindor table a bit more discreetly, pausing briefly to catch Remus' eye and give him a thumbs up.
When Remus' turn came, he sat down on the stool and tried to keep his hands from shaking as the Sorting Hat was placed on his head. He saw a familiar face in the crowd smiling broadly at him - the boy with glasses who loved Quidditch. He hadn't been sorted yet, but Remus had a feeling he may get his wish to be in Gryffindor . Sirius too, was grinning at Remus, obviously wishing him well.
Please not Slytherin, he thought desperately.
"Hmmm..." the Sorting Hat echoed inside his head. "This is tough. You're a smart one, I can tell. Like to read, do you? But... there's definitely something cunning in you, something quite animalistic and power-hungry right below the surface. Not Slytherin, eh? Are you sure? Well, I can certainly tell you're brave, there's no doubt about that. Been through a lot, have you? Ah, I see now. This is easier than I thought... GRYFFINDOR!"
The Hat shouted the last word, and immediately the Gryffindor table erupted into applause, with Sirius hooting loudly. "I told you!" Sirius said, grinning as he patted Remus on the shoulder when he sat down beside him.
Remus just couldn't stop smiling.
When James was sorted a few minutes later, he took the other seat beside Remus. "Fancy seeing you again!" he said, running a hand through his messy hair, "Guess I'll get to teach you some Quidditch, eh?" He turned to Sirius. "I'm James Potter by the way."
"I'm Sirius Black." Sirius tipped an imaginary hat. "And here we have Remus not-Slytherin Lupin."
And in that moment, Remus felt happier than he had in quite a long time.
Remus heard the shout from the other side of the room, as well as a loud thump and some squeaking noises.
"Sirius! Get off my bloody bed!" This voice was James', and he didn't sound very happy.
Remus pulled the blanket up over his head, but could still hear muffled voices.
"I mean it, Sirius! Stop jumping on my bed! The springs are going to break and then I'll make you switch beds with me and you'll have to sleep in the wonky one. Geez, Sirius, what are you, 13? I'm going to... OOF!"
Remus poked his head out of the blanket and peeked over to the other side of the room where James was lying in a heap on the floor, Sirius standing on his bed with his arms spread wide, proclaiming, "I win!"
In the bed closest to Remus, Peter sat up and yawned. "You would think after six years this sort of thing would have gotten old."
James suddenly catapulted off the floor and tackled Sirius, pushing him off the bed and yelling, "You win, my arse! I'm going to..."
Remus sat up and watched them with an amused smile, as Peter padded over to his bed. "What's gotten into Sirius?" he asked, yawning and yanking at his pajama shirt, which was becoming a bit too snug.
"He's just happy to be back at school," Remus replied, watching as James threw a copy of their potions textbook at Sirius. "You know how rough the summers are for him. Even though he's moved out... his mother still seems to find ways to harass him."
Peter nodded. "Good of James' mum and dad to take him in."
"Okay!" Sirius suddenly cried, panting for breath, holding James' wand triumphantly.
"Give that back!" James shouted, obviously enjoying himself even though he was attempting to look annoyed.
"I'll make you a deal," Sirius said, dodging out of the way as James swiped at him. "I'll give it back if you tell Wormtail and Moony your big news."
"What news?" Remus asked, rubbing his eyes sleepily and climbing out of bed.
James sighed. He looked down at his feet for a moment and then mumbled something very quickly and completely unintelligible.
"What was that?" Sirius goaded, cupping his hand to his ear.
"I said that last night after the sorting ceremony I asked out Lily and she said yes." James snatched his wand from Sirius, yelled, "Wingardium leviosa!" and caused the potions textbook to fly up and drop precisely on Sirius' head.
"Ow!" he cried, rubbing at it. "That hurt!"
"Lily Evans is going out with you?" Peter asked James, his voice laced with awe.
A slight pink tinge colored James' cheeks. "Yeah... next weekend's a Hogsmeade trip."
"That's great news," Remus said, patting his shoulder.
"Yeah," Sirius piped in. "We all knew she'd go for you once you stopped acting like such a..."
"I wouldn't finish that sentence if I were you, Padfoot," James warned with a mock glare. "Besides, we all know that that whatever I was such a, you were and are even more so."
Sirius clutched melodramatically at his heart, and turned to Remus. "Did you hear that, Moony? I think he's just insulted me."
Remus shook his head, amused. "Imagine that."
Six days later, Sirius and Remus waved goodbye to James and Lily on the cobblestone sidewalk outside Honeydukes. They were alone now, as Peter had been caught sneaking into the kitchens and was currently serving detention with Filch.
Sirius must have been thinking along the same lines, because he looked and Remus and mused, "It's a good thing Filch didn't get the map! We've just finished it and already Peter's managed to get himself into trouble... he's a mess. I don't know how he'd get on without us." He suddenly grinned. "It's just us, then!"
Remus felt something jump in his stomach. He suppressed whatever feeling it may have been announcing, and smiled back. "Guess so. What do you want to do?"
"Well, if I remember correctly," Sirius began, striding down the walkway, his pace slow enough so that Remus could catch up, "I owe you a Butterbeer."
Remus thought back to the last time they'd been in Hogsmeade before the start of summer vacation. "You do? I don't remember..."
"Oh, it's a longstanding debt. I just hadn't felt inclined to bring it up since it would have actually required me to shell out a few hard earned sickles."
Remus stopped walking and looked at him quizzically. "Sirius, what on earth are you talking about?"
Sirius leaned in and whispered roughly in his ear, "Not Slytherin... not Slytherin..."
Remus shivered. He could still feel Sirius' breath on his ear as he tried to ignore the sensation and work out what exactly he was talking about. Suddenly, understanding dawned. "Are you kidding me?" Remus asked with a somewhat nervous laugh. "That was six years ago!"
"And six years is much too long for an unpaid debt," Sirius pointed out, grabbing his arm and steering him into The Three Broomsticks. "Imagine what would had happened if you hadn't won our bet that day! One of us might be stuck sharing a room with Snivellus. I can just imagine the way that place smells..."
Remus allowed himself to be dragged to the counter, where Sirius said loudly to Rosmerta, "Two of your finest butterbeers please!"
"Let's go for a walk," he continued once they'd paid and he had flashed his signature charming smile at the attractive witch. "I know Lily and James are going to make their way here eventually and I have a feeling I won't be able to keep myself from making fun of them."
"Best if we go then," Remus agreed with a laugh. "I wouldn't want to be in the room with you and James when the hexes start flying."
They left the bar and walked along the hill that overlooked the shrieking shack. Remus purposely avoided looking down.
"Did you really think you were going to get put into Slytherin?" Sirius asked, taking a swig out of his bottle.
"Yes," Remus said, only a trace of bitterness in his tone. "I'm a dark creature, remember?"
"Bah," Sirius scoffed. "You? Dark? You're about as dark as a fluffy pink bunny."
"A bunny?" Remus wondered if that was supposed to be some sort of compliment, because it didn't particularly seem like one.
"You know what I mean."
"Well you certainly wouldn't have fit into Slytherin either," Remus added. "Regulus may be your brother, but he's..." He shuddered.
"Yeah, I know." Sirius kicked at a rock and it went flying over the edge of the hill. "So what do you think James and Lily are doing right now?" He changed the subject.
"Snogging like... bunnies?" Remus suggested with a grin.
"I hear bunnies are quite good at snogging," Sirius added with a rather suggestive smile, and Remus felt that strange leap in his stomach again.
"Well, you should know. You certainly have enough practice at it," he finally joked, ignoring the feeling.
Sirius waved a hand dismissively. "The girls at Hogwarts are complete nitwits."
"I guess you're just going to have to start looking elsewhere then, " Remus said. They had reached the end of the path. He leaned against a tree, his feet jutted out in front of him.
"Elsewhere, huh? Like... boys at Hogwarts?" Sirius raised an eyebrow at him.
"N-no... that's not what I meant," Remus said quickly. "I meant..." He started to explain, and then blurted, "You don't fancy boys, do you?" He immediately wished he had kept his mouth shut.
"You mean - like you do?"
Remus gaped. A million things were running through his head, most of them not good. But at the same time he realized - he hadn't managed to keep being a werewolf from his friends; what made him think he'd be able to keep this secret? "Wh-what do you mean?"
Sirius shrugged. "Well, you do, don't you?"
"Do what?" He was stalling. After all, it wasn't every day that you were faced with having to admit to your best friend that you were probably gay. Of course, what he really didn't want to admit was that he had the feeling that maybe he was attracted to Sirius... which was something that he'd been trying to keep buried deep down for quite a while.
Sirius chuckled. "Fancy boys, Moony!" He seemed to register Remus' terrified expression and his own face softened. "Hey, I'm not trying to put you on the spot. I just... I just figured it out, you know? I mean, you never talk about girls the way we do..."
"Maybe I'm just shy," Remus muttered, all the while wondering why he wasn't just admitting the truth.
"You don't think we would care, do you?" Sirius looked slightly hurt.
Remus looked up at him. "No! No, of course not. I mean, I guess liking boys isn't anything compared to being a werewolf." At least, he hoped not.
"So is there any boy in particular that you like?"
"No," Remus said quickly. "No one." He thought he saw something on Sirius' face then, a flicker of... disappointment?
"Well, while we're in the telling secrets mode," Sirius said after a few moments, "I suppose I should get something off my chest too."
Remus could only imagine. "Been dating two girls at once again?"
Sirius laughed. "No!"
Remus started to open his mouth again, but Sirius cut him off. "Not four, either. I haven't been dating any girls, if you hadn't noticed."
Remus pondered it for a moment. No, actually he hadn't noticed, but come to think of it... "Why not?" he asked.
"Because there's someone in particular I fancy," Sirius said in a low voice.
"Who?" Remus felt a bit of a sinking feeling in his stomach.
"Well, I'm not sure I should say... these things have a tendency to muck up friendships," Sirius said, kicking at another rock.
Oh no. "Oh, Sirius..." Remus said, shaking his head slowly. "Not Lily."
Sirius' eyebrows shot up. "No! Not... not Lily."
Remus let out an involuntary breath of relief. "Oh, good. Man. James would have just..." He stopped. "Well, who then?"
"Bloody hell, Remus," Sirius muttered, his face contorted in frustration. "Are you really going to make me tell you?"
"Well, I mean I guess you don't..."
"It's you, okay?"
Suddenly, Remus' heart stopped beating, for just a second. At least, he thought it did, because he definitely couldn't feel it in his chest anymore. In fact, he pretty much couldn't feel anything anymore. It took a great deal of effort to make his mouth move and get out the single word: "What?"
Sirius' eyes shot to the ground briefly, his expression embarrassed. "Look, Moony, I can't explain it, I just... I don't know. I think about you, okay? Trust me, this is just as confusing to me."
Remus stared at him for a moment, feeling emotions wash over him that he couldn't even identify.
Finally Sirius spoke again, and his voice seemed on its edge. "Hey, I understand if you don't feel the same way, I just had to -"
Remus grabbed his arm. "Don't," he choked out, his voice rough.
"Don't think for even one second that I don't care about you." The grip that Remus had on the other boy's arm loosened until he was holding it gently, and his thumb caressed his skin, hesitantly.
They stood there for more than a minute before Sirius finally spoke. "So why didn't you tell me before?"
"Apart from the obvious that it's a bit difficult to confess to your seemingly girl-crazy best friend that you might fancy him? You're..." His voice faltered, and he was afraid that it betrayed how frightened he was. "You're my best friend, Sirius. What happens if it doesn't work? I can't lose you..."
Sirius waved the argument aside. "Well, we'll just have to make sure it works, won't we?" His careless tone was suddenly reassuring to Remus. This was Sirius. He knew Sirius.
A playful smile tugged at his lips. "But you like girls!"
Sirius laughed. "Well, apparently I like boys too. Or, one boy, at least."
Remus' eyes locked with his, a sudden understanding washing over him. "Me," he said softly. And with that, he took a step forward and grabbed Sirius' shoulders, bringing his head down to his, where their lips met.
Remus could feel Sirius moan into his mouth as they kissed, a deep kiss that seemed to last forever, until he finally pulled away and looked in awe at the other boy. "Is it always like that?" he asked, putting his fingers to his lips.
"No." Sirius looked at him with equal shock. "It's not."
"I'll bet they can't kiss like that in Slytherin," Remus whispered, so dazzled that he wasn't even sure what he was saying.
"Then it's a good thing we're not..." Sirius began, but was interrupted by Remus' mouth again closing over his.