The Dating Expert
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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: New Moon #1 - Sirius goes to Remus for advice on asking someone out and Remus explains that just telling the person outright is the best thing to do. Remus just doesn’t know that the person Sirius is asking about is Remus.
With the school year’s first Hogsmeade weekend only two days away, most of the lunchtime conversations in the Great Hall seemed to focus on the neighboring village. Older students were telling third years the places they should not miss, and everyone seemed to asking or answering the question, What do you want to do in Hogsmeade on Saturday?” Even Sirius succumbed and asked his friends.
“Remus and I have a double date with Patricia Bones and Tansy Hopkins,” Peter said with grin.
“Really?” James said He leaned forward and gazed down the long table to where Lily Evans was sitting with the other sixth year Gryffindor girls.
“Keeping secrets from us?” Sirius asked.
“We weren’t keeping it secret,” Remus said as he reached in front of Sirius for the platter of roast beef. “It just happened. Tansy and I made plans last night after the prefects’ meeting.”
“Dating your fellow prefects, Moony? Just remember that one of them is off-limits,” James said with a glare and a would-be threatening jab in Remus’s direction. The gesture would have been much more threatening if he’d been holding a knife instead of the serving spoon from the potatoes.
Remus looked back at him with a deliberately puzzled look. “Which one would that be, James? Bellatrix or Snape?”
“Ha ha ha,” James said deadpan. “I’m serious; stay away from Evans.”
Remus almost groaned when he heard James give Sirius the perfect set-up for his favourite pun, but Sirius didn’t take advantage of it. Remus glanced at Sirius beside him and saw that he was frowning as he stabbed idly at his roast beef.
“So, what should we do with the girls on Saturday?” Peter asked, drawing Remus’s attention back across the table to Peter and James.
“Oh, I don’t know. I suppose we should just let them choose,” Remus replied.
“O.K., I guess that would be best,” Peter said with a happy smile. “I have no idea what kinds of things girls like to do.”
“Peter,” Sirius said sharply, “just remember to steer them elsewhere if they want to go gawk at the Shrieking Shack.”
Peter’s forehead wrinkled in confusion. “But it’s not like they’d figure it out or—you’re right.” He smiled wryly as he looked at Remus again. “I guess it’s not exactly somewhere you want to bring a date.”
“No,” Remus admitted. He jabbed Sirius with his elbow in an unspoken, “Thanks for thinking of me.” Sirius jabbed back.
Double Potions had been an unqualified disaster that afternoon. Remus had apparently added too much venom from a Venomous Tentacula to his potion—what was the difference between a dash and a drop?—thus causing it to foam up over the rim of his cauldron, spill over his desk, and drip onto his robes and the floor. After reaming out Remus in front of the entire class, Professor Zabini had assigned him an additional essay. After drawing a sketch of Zabini drowning in his own cauldron and writing a failed attempt to begin the essay, Remus wadded up the parchment in frustration, tossed it at the fireplace, and missed.
Sirius looked up from his own work at the other end of the table. “Want some help, Remus?”
“I know I arsed up that stupid Vox Perdus Potion, but assigning me fifteen inches on the importance of proper measuring is asinine. How on earth am I supposed to write fifteen inches on the importance of proper measuring? You measure right, the potion works. You measure wrong, it doesn’t. End of essay. One inch.”
“Describe the correct way to measure different types of ingredients: powders, liquids, leaves. And give him a bunch of examples of how potions can go wrong. You know, for a Mutatis Potion, you have to measure the beetles before crushing them or you’ll have too much beetle in it and it won’t work, but for a Fortifying Potion, you should measure the beetles after you crush them or you won’t have enough and it’ll be poisonous.” As he spoke, Sirius pushed his books closer to Remus and moved to the now empty seat across from him, the seat where Peter had been sitting before he’d gone off to play gobstones.
“And why has no one ever standardized Potion making?” Remus complained. “If all the recipes were consistent in how they’re done, they’d be so much easier to remember.”
“Ahh, but that would actually make sense, and magic is supposed to be obscure. It’s part of the mystique.”
“Bugger mystique,” Remus said as he began making notes for his second attempt at an essay. He wrote down the two examples Sirius had given him. “I prefer practical.” He created an outline with as many different measurement techniques as he could think of, and then looked up at Sirius while he tried to remember more. Sirius looked down at his own book when Remus looked up. “Did I leave any out?” Remus asked as he pushed the parchment across the table.
Sirius read quickly and then looked through the list a second time. “I don’t think so. Make sure you mention that Fortifying Potion will be poisonous if the beetles are mismeasured. Zabini will love it.”
“He is rather obsessed with accidental poisonings, isn’t he?” Remus noted as he took the parchment back. “I think he just wants to be able to say, ‘It’s not my fault; I warned him,’ if one of his students does accidentally poison himself.”
Remus was halfway through writing the rough draft of his essay when Sirius cleared his throat and asked, “So, have you liked Tansy for long?”
“Hmm?” Remus crossed out an awkward sentence and rewrote it. When he finally looked up, Sirius had his head bent over his textbook but was peeking up through his black fringe of hair.
“Do you really like Tansy?” Sirius asked again.
Remus shrugged. “She’s alright. She’s friendly, and she’s always in a good mood. Easy to be around, you know?”
“Not like me,” Sirius said quietly.
“No,” Remus said with a chuckle, “definitely not like you. Peter’s really going to owe me for this.”
“Peter?” Sirius asked in confusion.
“Yes,” Remus said slowly, “Peter likes Patricia, Patricia is best friends with Tansy—”
“And the four of you are double dating because Peter wanted to date Patricia.”
“Not because you wanted to date Tansy.”
Remus smiled slightly and shook his head. “I kind of feel bad about it though.”
“Tansy likes me, but I’m only going with her to help get Peter and Patricia together.”
“I just hope that Patricia and Peter hit it off. If they do, Tansy will probably be happy for her friend and a little less angry that this won’t lead to a second date for us.”
Sirius was silent long enough for Remus to write another paragraph, and then he asked, “So, who do you like, Moony?”
Remus pressed slightly too hard with his quill and created a blot on his paper. “Who says I like anyone?” he asked.
“You’re sixteen, and you’re male; therefore, you are a walking hormoon.”
“Hormone. So the only question is, whose face do you imagine when you put a silencing charm on your bed curtains and wank?”
Remus knew there was no point in denying that he did so. Sometimes the complete absence of sound from a dorm mate’s bed was as obvious as the sound of harsh breathing or stifled sighs of pleasure at release. But that didn’t mean that he had to confess his fantasies—especially to the favourite subject of those fantasies. “No one specific,” he said.
Remus looked down at his essay again and asked the question he couldn’t resist asking. “Who do you imagine?” He heard Sirius inhale to speak and steeled himself to hear the name of whichever girl had caught Sirius’s eye, but Sirius remained silent. Remus waited several long moments before he dared to look up.
Sirius smiled nervously and shook his head. “Not telling, not tonight.”
“SIRIUS!” James called from the gobstones game on the other side of the common room. “Come play with us!”
Sirius and James were just returning from Quidditch practice when dinner began on Friday night. Remus was sorely tempted to wait for them. He knew from past experience that they would shower quickly and change into clean clothes before dinner, and there was nothing Remus enjoyed more than the sight of Sirius returning to the dormitory after a shower, wearing nothing but a damp towel and a sheen of water on his skin. He loved the way strands of black hair lay wet and heavy against Sirius’s neck, and the way beads of water would trail down from the black hair, between the shoulder blades, down the spine, and under the towel toward the cleft of Sirius’s ass. He could almost imagine that it was his fingertips trailing down Sirius’s back.
But between his nagging conscience reminding him that he shouldn’t be ogling his friend in that way, and Peter wheedling him to come to dinner so they could go talk to Patricia and Tansy, Remus allowed himself to be talked into leaving the dormitory. He had promised Peter that they would use the pretext of asking the girls what they wanted to do the next day as an excuse to sit with them and talk for a while. He didn’t mind when he saw that they had arrived in Great Hall before the girls. If Patricia and Tansy had already been there, Peter might have wanted to sit with them during dinner, but now it would make more sense to eat at their own house table and just stop by the Hufflepuff table after they finished eating.
“Ready to go?” Peter asked Remus just as James and Sirius sat down beside them.
“No,” Remus replied as he served himself a second helping of Shepherd’s Pie. “Relax, Peter. They just got here a few minutes ago; they aren’t going anywhere soon.”
“Go where?” James asked as he served himself some pie as well.
“To go chat up their new girlfriends,” Sirius said. “Right?”
Remus nodded as he ate.
“So, how did you get them to go out with you?” James asked just a bit too casually.
Remus laughed and almost choked on his food. He shook his head and took a swallow of milk. “Forget it, Prongs. It won’t work with Lily.”
“Because the date was Tansy’s idea; I just took her up on it. Somehow I don’t see Lily asking you for a date.”
James thought a moment. “So turn it around. How did Tansy convince you to take her up on it?”
“Didn’t you tell him?” Remus asked Sirius. Sirius and James told each other everything, or so it seemed to Remus.
Sirius shook his head. “It didn’t come up.”
Remus didn’t want any of Tansy’s friends to overhear. He leaned forward across the table toward James and spoke quietly. “We’d been talking about Hogsmeade at the prefects’ meeting, and then after the meeting, Tansy was sort of hinting. I knew that Peter liked Tansy’s friend Patricia, so I told Tansy that I’d promised Peter that I’d go to Hogsmeade with him. Then I mentioned that Peter was always saying nice things about Patricia, and voila, a double date.”
James smiled. “Well done. Next time a girl falls for you, Remus, maybe it could be one of Lily’s friends?”
“Sure. No problem. We all know they’re lining up to go out with me,” Remus said with a roll of his eyes. He wiped up the last of the gravy with a piece of bread and then washed that down with the remainder of his milk. “O.K., Peter, let’s go.”
Patricia and Tansy were sitting across from each other with Patricia on the side of the table nearest to Gryffindor. A few of their friends were sitting on one side of them, but the seats were open on the other side. Remus gestured for Peter to head toward Patricia while he continued around to the other side of the table and then headed toward Tansy. By the time he sat down, Peter and the girls were already discussing what they wanted to do in Hogsmeade—in a way. They hadn’t yet made it past the, “But what do you want to do?” stage yet.
“At least they’re talking,” Remus reflected. The sooner this date turned into “Peter and Patricia—with Remus and Tansy tagging along,” rather than “Remus and Tansy—with Peter and Patricia tagging along,” the better.
He smiled in greeting to Tansy and looked back toward the Gryffindor table. A tall Ravenclaw blocked his line of sight to Sirius, but James seemed to demonstrating a Quidditch strategy with various gestures. Isabel Shacklebolt, one of their teammates, moved down the table to sit with them. Remus forced his attention back to his companions.
“…and after that, we can have lunch at Madam Puddifoot’s,” Patricia said brightly.
Remus cringed and caught Peter’s eye. On one of their first visits to Hogsmeade, the four of them had all vowed that they would never set foot in that lace-bedecked shrine to femininity.
“If you really want to—” Peter said hesitantly.
“Boys don’t like that place,” Tansy said to her friend, and Remus was tempted to kiss her.
“But it’s romantic,” Patricia insisted. “You want to go, don’t you, Remus?” she asked with a meaningful look between Remus and Tansy. Unfortunately for Patricia, “romantic” was not the atmosphere Remus wanted.
“If the weather’s nice, a picnic would be fun,” Remus suggested. “The house elves in the kitchen would gladly pack a picnic basket for us, and Peter and I know a hill just beyond the town with a nice view.” Remus hoped they’d agree. It would spare him the pink-on-pink décor of Madam Puddifoot’s, and it wouldn’t require any of his meager finances.
“A picnic! That’s a wonderful idea,” Tansy enthused. “Isn’t it, Patricia?” There was a slight—very slight—edge of warning in her voice, a note of “Say, ‘Yes,’ or else.”
Patricia sighed. “Well, if the weather’s nice.”
“We’ll make a final decision tomorrow after breakfast,” Remus said. “You two can decide and let us know. Then Peter and I will visit the kitchens if the decision is for a picnic.” He decided that he’d given Peter enough chatting time and rose to leave. “I’ve got to go do some homework so I won’t be worrying about it tomorrow.” As he stood, he automatically looked back toward Sirius and James. James was deep in conversation with several others, but Sirius was no longer in sight.
Peter also made his farewells, but he chose to return to the Gryffindor table where James was holding court with a few teammates for their myriad fans. Remus hurried back to Gryffindor Tower. He estimated that he had at most half an hour of Sirius’s attention before James returned and reclaimed his best friend. Remus tried not to begrudge James and Sirius their close friendship, but more and more, he found himself looking forward to those moments when he had Sirius to himself. Unfortunately, the only occupants of the common room were a few younger students. Remus had been lying when he said that he wanted to get some homework done, but with no other viable alternative, he went upstairs to get his books.
“Hi,” Sirius said as Remus entered the dormitory. Remus spotted him sitting on the sill of the window between their beds.
“Hi. What are you doing up here? Why aren’t you discussing Quidditch with the others on the team?” Remus said as he thought, “with James.”
Sirius shrugged. “What are you up to? Any plans?”
“No,” Remus said as he sprawled on his bed and watched the dark-haired boy silhouetted against the last of the day’s light. “I told the girls that I had to go do some homework, but the truth is I don’t have much. I’ve caught up with everything I missed because of the last moon, and it’s too soon to start working ahead again.”
“Lying to your girlfriend already, Moony? That doesn’t bode well for the future.” Sirius’s face was in shadow so Remus couldn’t see his smile, but he could hear the amusement in his friend’s voice.
“She’s not my girlfriend,” Remus reminded him.
“Just don’t kiss her tomorrow, or she’ll think she is, and then you’ll break her heart like you did Mary last year.”
“I didn’t break Mary’s heart,” Remus said defensively. He still felt a bit guilty for dating her in a doomed attempt to ‘be straight.’ “She was dating Dickinson within two weeks of our breaking up.”
“Yeah, sorry about that.”
“I’m not.” Remus’s guilty feelings for dating her merely because she was a girl, rather than because of any genuine interest in her, and then breaking up with her because—again—she was a girl, had been greatly assuaged by her rapid rebound into the arms of another.
“Um, I was—” Sirius fell silent. “James and Peter will probably be back soon,” he said instead. He stood and put one hand on a post of Remus’s bed.
Remus nodded and thought sourly, “Nice chatting with you, Remus, but my best friend is on his way, and you don’t mind if I dash and leave you, do you? That’s a good lad.” He sat up and reached for a book as he said, “Maybe they’re back in the common room by now.”
“Do you want to go for a walk?” Sirius asked. “We have a couple of hours until curfew.”
“Really?” Remus stopped himself before he could gush, “With me?” After all, Sirius probably wanted James and Peter to go as well. “Yeah, I would. Let’s just stay away from anywhere Tansy might be since I did say I had a lot of work to do.”
“We can go for a walk outside, maybe by the lake?”
Sirius waited while Remus shed his school robe and put on a warm sweater over the Muggle clothing he had been wearing underneath the robe. Their cloaks remained packed in their trunks. Each new school year, an unspoken contest of machismo existed between them to see who would succumb to the chilly Scottish weather first and be the first of the four to need his cloak. By the time they went down the dormitory stairs, James and Peter had returned to the common room, as had those they had been talking with in the Great Hall. James looked up and started to stand when he saw them heading for the portrait hole, but Sirius shook his head and gestured for James to sit down again. James settled back on the sofa again and returned his attention to Isabel.
“You’ve never tried firewhiskey, Shacklebolt?” James asked in mock astonishment. “That’s it. You’re coming to the Hog’s Head with me tomorrow.”
After leaving the common room, they made idle conversation about various classes, but the closer they got to the front hall, they quieter they became. Finally, their whispers lapsed into silence. Although not technically breaking any rules, the idea of going outside the school in the evening seemed to produce instinctive “avoid getting caught” behaviour. It wasn’t until the gravel of the shoreline crunched underfoot that they began to speak again.
“So—uh—what plans did you make for tomorrow?” Sirius asked.
“We’re going to have a picnic for lunch. I didn’t pay attention to the rest.”
“A picnic. Sounds kind of romantic. Are you sure you aren’t interested in Tansy?” Sirius asked as he bumped Remus’s shoulder with his own.
“I suggested a picnic to get out of having lunch at Madam Puddifoot’s.”
Sirius made a strangled sound of horror. “Puddifoot’s? Are they mad? My balls shrink in horror just passing by the place. Actually setting foot inside would probably do some sort of permanent damage.”
Remus laughed in agreement. “Girls. They ask us to do something daft like that, and then they wonder why we don’t want to date them.” A moment later, Remus’s brain realized what his mouth had said, and he cringed inside. Thankfully, Sirius didn’t seem to have noticed his minor slip.
They had reached a slight rise in the shoreline, and Sirius sat down on the grass facing the lake. Remus sat beside him. A depression full of small rounded pebbles lay under one of his hands, and Remus picked up a handful to toss one by one into the lake. A faint breeze wrinkled the surface of the dark lake just enough that the ripples from the pebbles disappeared almost instantly. Sirius picked up his own handful and began tossing pebbles just a bit farther than Remus had. Remus responded to the unspoken challenge and increased his distance as well.
“I never told you who I liked,” Sirius said as he tossed another pebble.
Remus’s stomach tightened as if bracing for a blow. “No, you didn’t.” He didn’t want to know. As long as he didn’t know, he could imagine that he still had a chance. But he also knew that he’d have to deal with the reality of Sirius falling in love sooner or later. He should just consider himself lucky that Sirius had spared him that heartache as long as he had. “Who is it then?”
“Actually, I need some advice—now that you’re the resident dating expert in our group,” Sirius added as leaned over to bump Remus’s shoulder again.
“Wormtail can’t get a date without your help, Prongs is chasing a girl who despises him, I’ve never bothered, but you—not only can you get dates for yourself but for Peter as well.”
“Well, when you put it that way—” Remus forced himself to sound cheerful. The last thing he wanted was to help Sirius win the heart of some girl. “But that’s what friends do,” he reminded himself. “Who is she?”
“O.K., we’ll call her Miss X. You’ve waited until the last moment if you want to ask X to go to Hogsmeade with you.”
Sirius threw the remainder of his pebbles into the water. “X is already going with someone else.”
“That is a problem. Are they really serious about each other, or do you think you have a chance?”
“Neither,” Sirius said. He sighed and lay back on the grass. “I know for a fact that it isn’t serious, but next time it might be. I just have this nagging feeling that if I don’t say something soon, I’ll never get a chance.”
“So what’s stopping you?” Remus scooped up more pebbles and allowed them to slide through his cupped hand like sand in an hourglass.
“Because I know I don’t have a chance, and it’ll just make things awkward between us when X has to turn me down.”
“What?” Remus stared down at Sirius in amazement. Only the despair in Sirius’s voice convinced him that his friend wasn’t fishing for a compliment. “Why on earth would any girl turn you down? You’re drop dead gorgeous, and don’t pretend you don’t know it; the mirrors compliment you often enough. You’re extremely smart; James is the only one who can keep up with you sometimes. You’re a beater on a winning Quidditch team, and you have the fans to prove it. And you’re both pure-blooded and rich, so if you’re stupid enough to fall for some girl who cares about those sorts of things, you’re still set. Just walk up to her and ask her out. The worst she can do is say, ‘No,’ and then you’ll be no worse off than you are now.”
Sirius had turned his face away from Remus early in the lecture. Now he sat up and hunched forward, clutching his arms around his knees so Remus could not see his face at all.
“That’s just it,” Sirius said quietly. “I didn’t fall for ‘some girl.’ I—I fell for a bloke. Madly, hopelessly in love with him.”
“James,” Remus knew, and suddenly his heart ached for his friend. His own jealousy whenever Sirius and James were together suddenly seemed insignificant compared to the pain Sirius must feel as he witnessed James’s relentless pursuit of Lily. Yet somehow, Sirius always managed to play the supportive best friend each time James was turned down.
“And he likes girls, so—hopeless.”
Remus moved closer and put an arm around Sirius’s shoulders. “Sorry.”
“I know I shouldn’t tell him; it’ll just ruin what we do have,” Sirius said sadly. “But it’s killing me keeping it secret. I feel like I’m lying to him by not telling him. What should I do?”
Remus had to laugh. How could he possibly give advice in this situation when he’d been too cowardly to even consider telling the truth about his own feelings for Sirius? But Sirius misunderstood the laughter and looked at him with hurt in his eyes. Remus gestured helplessly with his free hand.
“Sorry, I just don’t know what the answer is. It’s a hell of a problem, isn’t it? I don’t know how he’d react. On the one hand, James was open-minded enough to accept having a werewolf for a friend, so maybe he’d be O.K. with his best friend being in love with him, but—”
“Give me a little credit for having a brain, Padfoot. Who else could it be?”
“Yeah, who else.” Sirius looked out at the dark water again. “Theoretically, what if it were you? Would you want me to tell you?”
Remus knew the answer to that was an unqualified, “Yes!” but that answer might not apply to James. Would James feel uncomfortable about the easy physical familiarity he’d previously shared with Sirius: play-wrestling, sharing the tight space under James’s invisibility cloak, lying on the same bed to work on a project together? And they were on the Quidditch team together. Time spent in the locker room or showers could become very awkward. “I think that you should start by telling him half of the truth. Tell him that you’re gay. If he doesn’t react well to that revelation, obviously you shouldn’t tell him more than that.”
Sirius looked back at Remus to ask, “And if he did react well?”
As Sirius’s hair brushed the back of Remus’s hand, Remus had to suppress a shiver. The hair across his hand was cool and silky; the shoulder muscles under his hand were warm and firm. Somehow it was so unfair of the universe that in the same conversation he’d learned that Sirius was gay and that Sirius was in love with someone else. But Remus had learned long ago that the universe was unfair.
Remus’s mouth had gone dry. He licked his lips and tried to remember the question. “Then I guess you’d have to decide if it’s worth the risk to you. But if he doesn’t care that you’re gay, I think he’d be pretty understanding about your being in love with him. You’re too important to him. He won’t want to lose your friendship.”
“Am I important to you?” Sirius stared intently into Remus’s eyes as if trying to peer into his soul. If the wolf had been stronger, it would never have permitted this intrusion, this challenge to his dominance, but with the moon only a sliver in the sky, it was a purely human instinct that made Remus lower his gaze. He feared that Sirius would see that he loved him.
“Of course you are, Padfoot. You’re—my friend.”
Remus regretted the words the moment they were spoken. This was his opportunity to tell Sirius the truth. Sirius had just finished telling him that he was in love with James, so there would be no need for Sirius to say an awkward “I’m sorry, but I just don’t feel the same” reply.
Sirius got to his feet and offered Remus a hand. “It’s time to get back. You need a good night’s sleep before your big date tomorrow, right?” Even in the pale remainder of twilight, Remus could see that Sirius’s smile seemed forced. He was obviously nervous about his upcoming conversation with James.
“At Madam Puddifoot’s,” Remus joked in an attempt to lighten Sirius’s spirits, “where my balls will shrivel down to the size of toad eyes.” They fell into step together as they followed the shoreline back toward the lights of the castle.
“It isn’t James,” Sirius said suddenly. “I’ve decided that I want you to know, and it’s alright that you don’t feel the same way, really. I just don’t want—”
Remus had forgotten how to walk somewhere in the midst of Sirius’s confession. Sirius ceased moving and fell silent when Remus fell behind.
Sirius nodded but did not turn around.
Remus opened his mouth to finally admit the truth, but then he had better idea. He wanted to make up for lost time. He pressed up close behind Sirius, wrapped his arms around him, and nuzzled his neck and silky black hair while whispering in his ear. “I am a complete idiot. I fell for you ages ago, but I didn’t dare say anything. You asked who I fantasized about when I—” he rubbed Sirius’s cock through the thick cloth of his robe and was rewarded with a gasp. “You, I imagine you.”
Sirius twisted in his arms and kissed him firmly. Tongues shoved into the others’ mouths insistent and hard as if trying to substitute for the more intimate acts they could not do in their presently clothed state. Sirius wrapped his arms around Remus, crushing their bodies together, and Remus pulled his own arms free so he could reach up and tangle his fingers in the silky black hair.
“God, Moony,” Sirius gasped when they paused for breath. “Straight from ‘You’re my friend,’ to ‘I fantasize about you,’ with no pauses in between.”
“No, just afraid I’m dreaming.”
Remus suddenly realized that the night was not yet dark enough to completely conceal them, and they were far too close to the castle to be doing what they were doing. Demonstrating for Sirius that he desired him had been one thing; demonstrating it for their schoolmates was another. He stepped back and kept Sirius an arm’s length away.
“We shouldn’t kiss here; it’s too public. You have two choices, Padfoot. Either we go back to Gryffindor now, and I take a very cold shower, or we go somewhere private. Your call.”
Remus let his gaze wander over the castle walls, picturing the spaces within. He couldn’t imagine a place with both complete privacy and that would be comfortable enough for a lengthy and thorough exploration of Sirius’s body. Then the swaying branches of the Whomping Willow caught his eye. He looked directly at the dangerous tree and smiled.
“The Shack?” Sirius asked incredulously. “Are you sure?”
If this had been anyone else, the Shrieking Shack would have been the absolute last place Remus would have wanted to go. It was the prison where he endured the monthly shame and horror of his own body’s betrayal. But the Shrieking Shack was also the place where Padfoot came each month to rescue Remus from himself, the place where, in the mornings, Padfoot would bathe Remus’s wounds with his tongue, and the place where Sirius would gently help him into the bed or onto the sofa to await Madam Pomfrey’s arrival. The Shack was probably where Remus had begun to fall in love with Sirius.
“Mr. Moony invites Mr. Padfoot to join him in his den, where Mr. Moony will gladly share the bed.”
The weather was mild and sunny, the view of Hogsmeade was picturesque, the picnic basket was full of the house elves’ delicious specialties, and the picnic blanket was charmed to be extra cushiony and soft. Judging by the smile on Patricia’s face as she chatted with Peter, even she would have to agree that the picnic was at least as romantic as lunch at Madam Puddifoot’s. Unfortunately, Tansy seemed to think so as well, and she kept finding opportunities to lean against Remus or rest her hand next to his. Remus found just as many opportunities to withdraw his hand or shift away slightly.
Remus caught himself yawning—again. Once they had missed curfew, Remus had pointed out that it would be “highly irresponsible” of them to risk losing house points by trying to sneak back into the school. Sirius had agreed, of course. They had done some sleeping, but each time one stirred, the other found himself awakened by stroking and kisses. By the time they snuck back into Gryffindor Tower at dawn, they had enjoyed each other in virtually every way they could. The one exception had not been from a lack of desire or even from first time nerves—just a simple lack of lubricant. Remus wondered just how rude it would be of him to stretch out on the grass and take a nap after they ate. And he wondered if he really cared what the others thought.
The sound of something large crashing through the underbrush caused Remus and Peter to draw their wands and jump to their feet. They both had enough experience with the Forbidden Forest’s inhabitants to be wary. Although the Forest was on the other side of Hogsmeade, it was not all that far away, and no one could rely upon all the creatures that lived there to honour arbitrary boundaries drawn on a map.
Remus was the first to spot and recognize the pale eyes peering out from behind a bush. He put his wand away and said, “It’s O.K. It’s just a dog. I’ve seen him in Hogsmeade before.”
At this, the enormous black dog came trotting into the clearing, his tail held high and waving like a furry flag. He stopped just short of the blanket and sat on his haunches. He licked Remus’s hand with his long pink tongue and looked up at Peter with a doggy grin.
“You’re so cute,” Patricia cooed, holding out her own hand to be sniffed. “What’s your name?”
“Nuisance,” Remus said as he sat down again. Tansy immediately shifted herself closer to him, but a moment later, the large dog forced himself between them and sat down again.
“Appropriate name,” Tansy said.
“Go away, Nuisance,” Peter said. “We have food for four, not for five. Go bother someone else.”
Padfoot licked Remus’s ear and neck. Never before had Padfoot’s licks seemed like anything more than doggy affection, but now the feel of the sandpapery and very flexible tongue sent a tingling jolt down Remus’s spine to his groin. Only with effort did he keep his eyes from fluttering shut. Padfoot whimpered and gazed at Remus with pleading eyes.
Remus faked a stern expression and said, “Don’t even try the puppy eyes on me. Stay here, and you’re in trouble. Go away, and I promise I’ll play with you later.”
Padfoot’s ears cocked up and he jumped to his feet. As he trotted across the picnic blanket, his enthusiastic tail whipped across Tansy’s face. Remus chose to assume it was an accident. Padfoot headed down the path toward the town, but paused just before he reached the bend. He looked back at Remus and barked sharply. He leaned backward with his forelegs low to the ground and his rump and wagging tail high in the air.
Remus’s resolve crumbled. He discretely pocketed the small crock of butter that the house elves had packed in the basket. “Maybe I should walk him back to town,” Remus said as he got to his feet. “He might be a naughty dog.”
-- Written May 2004