We'll Be Again
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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: Challenge OC #01: Padfoot and Moony catch on to things before their human counterparts do. Bonus points if one or the other isn't into men (or doesn't know it yet).
Author Notes: Thanks to Starkiller and Suzene for the beta.
"So. You and Moony, huh?" Sirius looked up at James, the spoon full of chocolate pudding that he'd had en route to his mouth suspended in mid air. James was grinning, the sort of mocking grin that was all right when Sirius was grinning that way too, but was decidedly not all right when he wasn't. "What?"
"Oh, you know." James was smug, and Sirius felt his cheeks heating up even as the urge to punch James' lights out got stronger and stronger. "I know you remember. You and Moony were very...close last night."
Sirius' eyes flicked from side to side, to see if they could be overheard. Essentially they were alone, Remus being in the infirmary recovering from the previous night's moon, and Peter having taken his pudding upstairs with him so that he could make a start on his Potions homework. The other Gryffindors still at the table were too far away to hear them. Sirius' eyes fixed on James again, and he glared. "I was the dog, James, in case you don't remember."
James waved a hand dismissively. "Even so," he said airily, his smile still smug and far too knowing for Sirius' liking, "You were close. Moony and Padfoot, sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I..."
Sirius stood abruptly, dropping his spoon on the table with a clatter and almost knocking over the bench he'd been sitting on, making quite a few people look up from their dessert and look their way. He leaned over the table, cheeks flaming now, to hiss in James' face, "Sod you, Potter, you stupid arse. I don't know what you think you're implying, but whatever it is, you're fucking wrong." And with that he was gone, storming out of the Great Hall with the echo of James' laughter in his ears.
Sirius avoided James for the rest of the night, shutting himself within the sanctuary of his bed, the curtains drawn closed, and doing his homework by the light of his wand in between fuming over what James had said to him. James could sod off, because he was not a shirtlifter, with Remus or anyone else. Moony and Padfoot had been ...close... that moon, it was true, but it was just the usual stuff, just running around, playing, wrestling with each other...okay, maybe when they'd stopped to rest in the forest Moony had snuggled up to Padfoot closer than he normally did, and Padfoot had snuggled into Moony a bit more than usual as well. Moony had rested his head on Padfoot's neck, but it had been a bit chilly in the Forest last night, so it was fair enough to want to get warm. It meant nothing, not a thing, and it certainly didn't mean that anyone was a bloody poofter. Least of all him. He'd prove it to James if he wanted, the smug git. He'd prove it.
And prove it he did. It wasn't difficult; he was Sirius Black, after all, and girls had been wanting to shag him rotten for years. Before now he'd been lukewarm about the whole thing, really -- girls were okay, nice enough he supposed. Soft, certainly, and nice smelling. Too giggly though, on the whole, and stupid round him, except for Evans, but she was a total ballbreaker, and James was welcome to her, not that he had a snowball's chance in hell of getting her. Sirius had snogged a few girls in games of Spin the Bottle and Catch and Kiss, and it had been all right. Not as good as pranking with his mates and full moon runs and making Snape's life hell though, so he'd concentrated his efforts on that. That was much more fun. But now...now he had a point to prove, and he was determined. And Sirius Black when he was determined was a force to be reckoned with.
He wasn't an idiot about it either. None of the love sick ones for him, no; he didn't want to saddle himself with a girlfriend, that would just be stupid. But he also needed maximum coverage. So he went for the big-mouthed ones, the ones who only wanted him for his looks, so that they could notch him up on their bedposts, and tell everyone that they'd had a piece of him. He'd only need two or three of them, and the Hogwarts grapevine would do the rest, and he'd have proved to the world, and one James Potter, that he was not a sodding poofter.
He put his plans into action over the next month, and they worked like a charm. Like the best charm ever invented, in fact; soon the whole school was buzzing about what a stud he was, and Sirius (obviously) did nothing to discourage the rumours. He even actively encouraged them by strategic appearances in public looking suitably dishevelled, clothes askew, hair mussed, with love bites all over his neck. If the fact that every time he came back to the dorm looking like that, Remus got quieter and more withdrawn bothered him, he didn't let on. The awful, tight feeling in his chest every time Remus would look pale and tight-lipped and refuse to meet his eyes was nothing to the feeling of elation he got when he made James eat his words.
The day after the next full moon and James and Sirius were alone at breakfast again, and, much to Sirius' dismay, James Potter the Smug and Annoying Bastard was back.
"First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the..."
Sirius slammed his fist down onto the table, causing a couple of first years just near them to almost jump out of their skins. "You just shut it, all right? So Moony and Padfoot snuggled. So what? Last I checked, that wasn't a sodding crime. It doesn't mean anything. It doesn't mean anything."
James waved his fork in Sirius' face, complete with a half-eaten sausage on the end of it. Sirius wanted to smash his face in. "You're having yourself on. It does so mean something. Even if you say it doesn't mean anything to you - which I don't believe for a second, by the way - it means something to Remus. Moony was all over you like a rash, almost like he was afraid to let you out of his sight. I think Remus likes you."
Sirius stared at James, furious. He could feel himself blushing, and that made him even angrier. "Are you mental?"
James grinned and plucked the sausage off his fork with his teeth, chewing it messily before shaking his head. "I'm not mental. I'm right, is what I am. He's got the hots for you."
Sirius spluttered, his own breakfast almost untouched and going cold on his plate. When he spoke, it was with the tone of someone speaking to a small and particularly stupid child. "I'm sorry, but you are cracked. First of all, he was not all over me like a rash. Second of all, how in the hell do you get from Moony wanting to lie close to Padfoot to Remus having the hots for me? It was bloody cold in the forest last night, if you can't remember, and Remus doesn't remember anything on full moon nights. He's gone, and Moony's there. You know that, you wanker. Even if he did have the hots for me, Moony wouldn't know it, just like Remus wouldn't know it if Moony had the hots for Padfoot. You're wrong."
James shook his head again. "Am not." James stabbed another sausage with his fork. "And I'll prove it to you too."
Sirius glared. "How are you going to..." Just then a bit of skirt with red hair and green eyes swished past their table, and James turned his head to stare, as always. If Sirius didn't act soon, he'd lose him. He snapped his fingers in James' face. If he got a fork in his, James could get snapping fingers. He was lucky Sirius wasn't shoving them up his nose and ripping his face off instead. "Hey. Hey!" James looked round, a telltale glazed expression on his face. "I said, how are you going to prove it?"
"Ah...I, um..." James couldn't keep from looking up the table. "I'm going to..." All of a sudden, the red-haired bit of skirt laughed, at Merlin knows what, and James was on his feet. "I'll...I'll tell you later, Padfoot, OK? Bye."
And then James was gone, up the table to make an arse of himself as usual. If looks could kill, then Sirius fancied that the one he was giving James' retreating back would have done the trick. He threw his fork down on his plate in disgust and got up, shouldering his book bag. If he was going to be forced to watch things that made him feel ill, he might as well go to Potions and sit behind Snape.
Sirius obsessed about what James had said all that day, and, unfortunately for him, he didn't get a chance to talk to James about how he was going to prove it again until it was too late, and he was in the middle of doing it.
They were all in the dorm that night, Remus having come back from his day in the infirmary, pale and drawn and with an exhausted look about him that never failed to make Sirius want to give him anything he asked for, not that he ever did ask for anything. He was sitting up in bed now, a blanket around his shoulders, his Potions textbook propped up on his knees, catching up on the reading he'd missed while he was in the infirmary. Peter and Sirius were also doing their homework (or, at least, Sirius was pretending to so that he didn't have to talk to James), and James was thumbing through an old copy of Which Broomstick, mercifully quiet. Sirius should have known that it wouldn't last.
James was using the same light and airy tone that just lately had meant trouble for Sirius every time he'd used it. Sirius felt his stomach clench and dragged a piece of parchment towards him, starting to write anything that came into his head on it just so he didn't have to participate in the conversation. He didn't look up when Remus said, "Yes, Prongs?"
"You don't remember much that goes on during the full moon, do you?"
Sirius did look up at that, just as Remus shook his head. "No, not really. Sometimes I get flashes of things, impressions and whatnot, but it's never anything really clear." Remus looked suddenly uncomfortable, and his eyes flicked around to all of them in turn (Sirius fancied that he looked at him the longest, but that was probably his imagination,) before saying softly, "Why? I...nothing's happened, has it? I've not done anything bad that you lot are hiding from me, have I?"
James shook his head and smiled. "Oh, no no, I just...I was just wondering, that's all."
"Oh. Okay, then." Remus looked at them all again before starting to read his book again. It was quiet for a minute, and Sirius went back to his pretend notes, almost groaning out loud when the inevitable happened.
"Yes, James?" Remus sounded tired. Sirius looked up again.
"I know you just said that you don't remember stuff, and that's fine, but I just wanted to know one more thing. Is it like...does Moony feel things that you feel? I mean..." Sirius could see out of the corner of his eye James waving his hand in the air while he searched for the words. "If you're happy, is Moony happy too? And, just say, if you were mad at someone, would Moony be mad at them too? And if you liked them, a lot, would Moony like them a lot as well? Besides the fact that he'd want to rip their head off if they were a human, of course. That goes without saying."
Sirius held his breath. Remus' fingers tightened on the edges of his book, Sirius could see them going white and bloodless, and he got a wary look in his eyes, one that was much the same as he used to get before they knew about him and they asked too many questions. If Sirius hadn't been so caught up in his own trauma right then that look would have hurt him, because hadn't Moony learned to trust them all by now? Apparently not, but with good reason this time, because James Potter was up to no good, and for once Sirius wanted to kill him for it.
Remus' eyes flicked to Sirius then down at his book a couple of times before he looked at James and shrugged. "Ah...well. Aside from the wanting to rip their head off, I've...I've read that. That if a werewolf is really upset about something when they go through the change, then they tear themselves up more. I suppose I must do that too, but I haven't really taken any notice of what happens when. It's hard when you don't remember."
James nodded. "Right, yeah. Of course it is. Thanks, Moony, that's all I wanted to know."
Remus smiled weakly, his eyes flicking to Sirius once more, and Sirius looked away and down at the parchment in front of him, trying to ignore the feeling of James' eyes boring into the side of his head.
A couple of nights after that, Sirius got four weeks detention for getting caught after hours shagging Elanor Ackerley in the Transfiguration classroom on McGonagall's desk.
A few days before the moon the next month, Remus came back to the dorm with his neck covered in love bites, and looked at none of them before shutting himself behind his bed curtains. The next day when Remus was down in the infirmary stocking up on painkilling potions, Peter, in a gleeful whisper that made Sirius want to strangle him with his bare hands, told Sirius and James that Remus had been seen snogging a bloke, from Ravenclaw, up against the shelves of the arithmancy section in the library at closing time, and that bloke had been the one who put the bruises on his neck and done Merlin knew what else to him. Peter shuddered with barely repressed revulsion, and James looked at Sirius with that knowing in his eyes again, and Sirius looked away from both of them, the awful, tight feeling back in his chest again.
That month Sirius didn't go to the Shack. He sent Snape instead. And when Moony couldn't kill Snape, or James, he turned in on himself, and tore himself to shreds. Sirius sat vigil outside the infirmary as much as he could between classes and detentions, but when Remus came back to the dorm after almost a week, he refused to speak to or even look at Sirius. And James, James who in Sirius' mind had started all of this by being a total arse, was Remus' willing accomplice, keeping Sirius away from him as much as possible. Sirius had never felt more broken, or betrayed.
There was no teasing after the moon from then on, because there were no more moons for Sirius and Padfoot. The first month Sirius rushed back from his detention to sit at the window next to James' bed, his heart aching when he saw the branches of the willow stop, and the shadowy figures of Moony and Prongs and Wormtail emerge from the tunnel and head for the forest. He sat there all night, waiting for them to return, and only when they had and he saw James and Peter come out from the tunnel to come back to the castle did he go to his own bed and pretend to be asleep. For two more moons he sat his Tower vigil, every fibre of his being yearning to be out there with them; to feel the wind in his face, the floor of the forest under his paws as he ran, to catch the scent of some beast or another, prey, and veer off after it, Moony hot on his heels. He wanted that, but as time rolled on again toward the third moon since he'd made the biggest mistake of his life (and three months since Remus had said a word to him), he realised he wanted much more. He wanted to be there when Moony change back into Remus, to be the one who scooped Remus up off the floor and tucked him into bed all safe and warm, then to change back into Padfoot and lie across Remus' feet like a big hairy water bottle. Or better still, to lie beside Remus and have him wrap his arms around his neck and bury his face in the thick fur there, only to be grumpy and sleepily petulant when Padfoot pulled away and became Sirius again, whispering that he couldn't stay because Pomfrey was coming and he'd be caught. He wanted to be the one after the Shack who smuggled chocolate into the infirmary and brought Remus his assignments and sometimes sat and read to him if Remus wasn't too tired and Pomfrey would let him.
In short, Sirius realised, he wanted Remus, and everything that came with him. And the realisation made him feel sick, because he'd been an utter, utter idiot, and Remus was never going to speak to him ever again, let alone want him anywhere near him. But as the night of the third moon came and James and Peter left to go to the Shack Sirius made his decision: he had to try. If Remus hexed him into oblivion and told him he never wanted to lay eyes on him again, well then at least he'd know that he'd tried.
He sat all night at the window looking out on the willow again, but this time when he saw them coming back from their run he got up, leaving Gryffindor Tower and jogging through the halls to the main entrance. When he got outside he shifted into Padfoot and ran full pelt to the willow, dodging the swinging branches to get underneath before entering the tunnel. Clambering out of the tunnel and into the Shack, he trotted down the hallway to the stairs, pressing himself into the shadows underneath them to wait. He dozed lightly, paws twitching, until the noise of James and Peter coming down the stairs woke him. He watched them walk down the hallway and go into the tunnel, but didn't move until he couldn't hear them talking anymore. Once everything was silent, he ran up the stairs and into Remus' room.
Remus was asleep, which was a good thing, because Sirius needed to take this slow. He jumped up on to the bed at Remus' feet, turned round a couple of times then lay down, resting his head lightly on Remus' calves. Remus didn't wake, and Sirius didn't try to wake him. This was enough for the moment, just to know that he was here doing what he was supposed to do with the person that he was supposed to be doing it for.
Padfoot stayed next to Remus until he heard Madam Pomfrey's footsteps on the stairs, slipping off the bed and under it quickly and staying there while she checked Remus over. He waited until she got him up and dressed and down the stairs before he moved, following them back to the castle at a safe distance behind.
The next month he did the same, changing into Padfoot and waiting under the stairs of the Shack for James and Peter to leave before sneaking up to Remus and snuggling up. This time though he was more adventurous, snuggling up beside Remus rather than at his feet, and his heart soared when Remus mumbled in his sleep and threw his arms around him, pressing his face into the fur at his neck, just like he always used to. He made sure he stayed very still, again only moving once he heard Pomfrey on the stairs, extricating himself from Remus' arms as gently as he could. He looked back at the bed before he scooted under it, and what he saw there froze. Remus was awake, looking exhausted and rumpled but disconcertingly alert as he stared right at Padfoot and didn't say a word. Sirius was glad he was the dog then as he stared right back, as that meant that he didn't have to try to explain himself, but he stood there frozen until Pomfrey's hand was rattling the door knob, the noise making him snap out of it and slip under the bed. He followed them back at a respectful distance again, but he couldn't help but notice that Remus kept looking back to see where he was.
Sirius hoped that Remus might talk to him after that, but he never did. A couple of times he looked like he was going to, making Sirius' heart pound in his chest, but then he always backed off. Sirius was bitterly disappointed, but he didn't want to push. Pushing was bad, and Sirius had done enough bad things over the last little while to last him quite a long time. No, he had to wait, and be patient. Even if it killed him.
It almost did too, the time until the next moon positively crawling by. Eventually it came, and Padfoot sneaked into Remus' bed again the morning after. He'd just settled down beside Remus and put his head on his paws when Remus spoke.
"How long have you been sneaking in here?"
Padfoot almost jumped out of his skin, scrambling back and away before looking at Remus. He'd though Remus was asleep; he'd certainly looked it. But now Remus was looking at him with eyes that weren't sleepy at all; he'd been foxing, the sneaky bastard. Sirius came a little closer and sat down, looking at Remus still, but didn't change back.
"How long? Change back and answer me."
Sirius did change back then, and once he'd changed back he couldn't meet Remus' eyes. "Not that long. Three months."
"Three months," Remus repeated. "Why?"
"Because!" Wasn't it obvious? Sirius moved a little closer, as if being closer would get his point across. "Because, I wanted to make sure you were all right, that you weren't hurt and that you were warm and..."
Remus' expression was unreadable. "I had Prongs and Wormtail with me."
"Oh, I know, I know, it's just..." Sirius moved closer and tried a smiled. "Well, it's not the same, is it? Moony and Padfoot, you know, that's us. It's not the same without Padfoot, now, is it?" Remus was quiet, and Sirius' smile faded. "Look, Remus, I...I've been an idiot, OK? I know that. And I'm sorry, I'm really, really sorry. It's just that James said that there'd been snuggling and that it meant something, and that I knew, and I just...and I didn't know, OK? I didn't. And he kept going on, and I'm an idiot, I got scared, and I didn't know what to do. And I fucked up, I fucked up hugely, and I couldn't be more sorry, truly, and I know that I deserve to have you never speak to me again, but that'd kill me, really kill me because I know now and I'm not scared anymore and I just want a chance, a chance to be Moony and Padfoot again, and maybe also..." He could feel himself bushing scarlet now, "Maybe we could be Sirius and Remus as well, if you want to. I want to. I know that now. I do." He looked at Remus' face again shyly. He was staring at him in shock, so Sirius said hurriedly, "So, you just...you just think about that, OK? No pressure, no pressure at all."
Remus was still staring, saying nothing, and Sirius couldn't stand it. So he closed the distance between them and kissed him, and abrupt press of lips, their noses bumping awkwardly. When Sirius pulled away Remus was frowning, so he looked down at the blankets, humiliated. "Sorry, I didn't mean..."
That wasn't what he expected Remus to say. His heart sank. "OK."
"You've been an utter bastard."
"Oh." This was not going well at all. "Yes."
"You hurt me."
"Don't do it again."
"I won't, Remus, I swear, I'll be..."
"Because if you do it again, that's it."
Sirius nodded frantically. "I know, but I won't, I'll be good, and I'll do..."
"Yes, I know. Shut up and kiss me, you pillock, and properly this time. Then get out, because Pomfrey'll be here soon."
Sirius beamed and leant in again, his heart almost bursting. He kissed Remus properly this time, and once more, and again, until a breathless Remus was pushing him off the bed and forcing him to go. He gave Remus one last goodbye kiss and did as he was told, hiding under the stairs as Padfoot until Pomfrey had gone up to Remus, then pelting back through the tunnel to the castle. Later on he'd smuggle some choclate into Remus in the infirmary, and maybe sit and read to him for a while. Until then though, he had some choice words to say to one James Potter, Smug and Annoying Bastard, and, as it turned out, Matchmaker Extraordinaire.
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