Archiving: All FQF will be archived solely at this site until August 31st, 2007. 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: SS3: When the pups graduate from Hogwarts, Remus naturally assumed they would be moving into a flat together. Graduation comes and Sirius has already gotten a flat; for himself.
Author's Notes: Thank you to my beta readers Tina and Symphonyflute!
Remus Lupin strongly believed that there was nothing so good as the solitude of the Hogwarts library. He could get lost in the maze of stacks- so lost that no one would be able to find him without a charmed map. More importantly, there were thousands of books that he could lose himself in. There were exciting adventures to occupy his thoughts, and lovely characters who made sense.
Not like that berk, Sirius Black.
Remus kicked a rock along the street, watching it bounce along the cobblestones and come to rest a few strides past the doorway to the bookstore. It was not as much of a comfort as a library. The store felt cold and sterile, and though he was surrounded by books, he was unable to read them without purchasing them first.
But at least he knew where he stood with them.
Remus stood outside the bookstore window, ogling the beautiful leather-bound volumes within. He had coins enough in his pockets for only two meals. However hungry he was, he wondered if he might not be more satisfied by spending money on another book. With a sigh, Remus took out his pocket watch and regarded it. Then he looked about the streets, searching for a familiar face. When he found it, he raised a hand. "Peter!"
On the other side of the street, Peter jumped in fright. This wasn't the least bit unusual these days, unfortunately. His eyes darted and found Remus. His whole body relaxed. Then Peter hurried over.
"Thank you for suggesting lunch today," Remus said, slapping Peter on the back. "I always like to have a full stomach before a transformation."
They headed to a small table at an outdoor restaurant and ordered two steak meals accompanied by generous portions of potatoes and mixed vegetables. "Save room for dessert, I'm buying."
"I have enough money for this," Remus assured him. "I just want to show my appreciation again for you letting me move in with you at such short notice. I wouldn't have been able to afford my own place." The Order gave him a small stipend but it was hardly enough to live off of, especially considering he needed to report to the Ministry every month. What little savings he had would be quickly depleted when full moon nights rolled around. It would be one thing if he had his own place with a safe room where he could be locked up, like he'd been in the shack. But Peter lived in a one-room efficiency and Remus slept on the sofa, so that arrangement wasn't possible.
Peter looked at Remus, studying his face closely. "Have you spoken to Padfoot lately?"
Remus shook his head.
"For someone with an allergy to owl feathers, you sure don't do much to keep them from coming around with messages."
Remus gulped down a liberal amount of cola and shrugged. "I can't talk to him right now. Not after what he did." Remus finished off his drink and looked around for the waiter to get a refill. "Besides, tonight's the full moon. And this weekend I have a job to do for the Order. And-"
"And there's never going to be a good time. We're in the middle of a war, Moony. It's not like we're kids at Hogwarts and can see each other all day every day. Padfoot's not that smart. Sooner or later he will get tired of the silent treatment."
Remus stared back at Peter. "Clearly you don't know Sirius as well as you think."
"I'm telling you, Prongs, if he doesn't start talking to me soon, I'm going to give up." The waiter, wearing a red and white checkered shirt and a bright white apron, brought their food. The Italian restaurant was hopping this afternoon. James and Sirius could barely hear themselves think over the din. However, considering the silence Sirius had recently experienced, he did not mind the noise. As soon as they got their food, the two of them dug in and ate for a good ten minutes without saying another word. Then Sirius sighed and picked up just where he'd left off. "I think I'd be better off just giving up."
With his mouth full of pizza, James just chuckled.
"You don't think I'm serious? Wait!" Wincing at his choice of wording, Sirius held a hand up and James laughed. "No, please don't. I can't take puns right now. I'm too bloody miserable."
James swallowed and washed the pizza down with some water. He took a deep breath and rubbed his hands back and forth. "Now then… tell Prongsy, Doctor of Love, what's wrong."
Sirius threw up his hands. "That's just the problem. I don't know, because he won't tell me."
James nodded. "Ah. Then in my expert opinion, you did something wrong."
Sirius dug into his calzone. He grumbled, "I knew that much already, Doctor."
James laughed again. "Start from the beginning, Pads."
"He started giving me the cold shoulder during the last week we were at Hogwarts. I thought it might be all that pressure of N.E.W.T.s. You know how Remus is about his studies. But afterwards, he barely looked at me unless it was to narrow his eyes or glare at me. Then I thought it would get better after we were settled in our new places. I even invited him over to stay a few times. I tried to make it sound as enticing as possible. I promised him nights of lovemaking, wine, chocolates-"
"Remus John Lupin turned down chocolates from you?"
James' eyes were wide with shock. "Whoo boy. You definitely did something wrong!"
"Now he won't even return my owls. He even blocked my floo."
The young men returned to their meals, Sirius fuming and confused, James lost in thought. James had ordered a small pizza, and was working his way through it rather lovingly. Lately, Lily had him eating nothing but health foods and as many times as he tried to explain to her that pizza was the ultimate healthy food because every food group was represented, she wasn't convinced. Sirius liked his meal as well, but he wasn't really hungry. Tonight was the full moon, and even though he had some work to do for the Order later, the only thing on his mind was Remus. He'd sent an owl that morning, asking Remus again to come stay with him overnight, but he'd received no reply, no sign that Remus had even read the letter. Maybe it was for the best; if Remus was so angry at him, there was no telling how angry the wolf would get.
"I think I should just ignore him," Sirius said. "If he thinks I'll just keep this up until he's finally ready to talk, he's got another thing coming. As soon as he realizes we could break up, he'll start talking again. You'll see."
"Are you sure that's the best idea? We are… well, we're fighting a war here. Do you really think it's a good idea to play games?"
Sirius considered this for a moment before replying, "Absolutely. You don't know Moony the way I do."
Remus shivered as he pulled the shredded blanket more tightly around himself. He'd done a number on the blanket during the night, but it was better than nothing until the Ministry official came by to give him his clothes. As he hugged his legs up against his chest, Remus couldn't help but fondly recall how he had spent his last full moon. He'd run wild with the rat, stag, and dog, basking in the freedom and possibilities that lay beyond Hogwarts. Then, when dawn had broken, Sirius had wrapped himself around Remus' broken body to keep him warm. Sirius had kissed him lovingly and dressed him tenderly, leaving Remus' side only when Madam Pomfrey came to unlock the trap door.
There was something that resembled a tear in Remus' eye, and he sniffled. The sound echoed, bouncing off the walls of the dark brown, sterile room he was being held in. It was a good hour and a half before someone came by to release him. Then it was another hour back to Peter's flat on the Knight Bus. Remus returned, exhausted, sore, and incredibly nauseous from the ride. He barely made it to the couch.
He didn't have his own space in Peter's small flat. He lived out of his trunk which doubled as a coffee table in front of the couch he slept on. Every morning he folded up the sheets and blankets and stowed them in the trunk. The only thing he kept out were his books. There were several stacks of them all around, in front of the trunk and on the floor on each side of the couch. He couldn't possibly read them all at the same time, but he liked having them around to look at. He liked to have them keep him company.
This morning, however, he was too tired to take comfort in their stories. Seconds after his head made contact with a couch cushion, he passed out. He slept soundly, despite fleeting, disturbing dreams.
Remus woke hours later when Peter came home. Peter draped a blanket over Remus and patted his back. Wearily, Remus lifted his head and mumbled, "Send Sirius' owls back unanswered."
There was a brief pause. "He didn't send any owls today."
Startled, Remus pushed himself up off the cushions. "No owls? None at all?"
Peter shook his head. "Perhaps he thought you'd be away and there wasn't any sense in sending any?"
A wave of panic spread through Remus, making him cold despite the warm blanket. Then the panic turned to fear. There was only one reason that Sirius Black would not send more owls, as he'd done every day for the last two weeks. "Where's the floo powder?"
"I'm too tired to Apparate. Just give me the floo powder." Somehow, Remus managed to rise and find his footing. The muscles he had strained the night before were sore and shouting at him for heat and rest. They all but demanded he return to the mildly comfortable old sofa. He tightened up between his shoulder blades and grabbed hold of the mantelpiece to steady himself. Peter held out a small tin box. The young man looked doubtful but could not deny Remus anything today.
Remus took half a handful and flung the powder into the fire. "Canary Row, Building B, Flat Number 8." He stepped into the fireplace and closed his eyes. He let the flames take him, but the trip went straight to his head.
Dizzy, Remus stumbled back out of the fire before the flames went from green to orange once again. Then he fell against the unfamiliar wall to catch his breath and regain his senses.
"What are you doing here?"
Remus opened his eyes. Intense fear gave way to relief. He stepped forward and, without invitation, wrapped his arms around Sirius Black. Even though he was still angry at the man, Remus could not resist nuzzling his face into Sirius' shoulder and neck. Sirius' arms came around him and hugged back. The embrace tightened and Remus took some of Sirius' shirt in his hand, making a tight fist around it. "Thought you were dead."
Remus exhaled like a laugh. "I can see that."
After that, the hug seemed less important than a kiss, but Remus was hesitant to share one. As the room around him became real to Remus, he backed up. If he'd had the energy, he probably would have slapped Sirius, or at the very least he would have begun yelling. Instead, he looked around for the nearest chair and headed straight for it. His limbs did not move quickly enough. Dizziness took over.
Remus did not make it. Whether his legs gave out his head grew light, he could not say. But he was well aware of Sirius swooping in and catching him. Sirius lifted him up before he hit the ground. There was a strong heartbeat in Remus' ear, and gentle bounces that were Sirius' strides down the hallway to the bedroom. Then he was practically swaddled in blankets and propped up with pillows, all of which smelled strongly of Sirius. Soap. Shampoo. Sweat. Spunk. Most likely, Sirius had not washed the sheets since he moved in. Remus found it perfectly intoxicating. It was Sirius… and only Sirius. "Sirius," he whispered.
"Shhh." Sirius needed no invitation to his own bed, yet only lay atop the covers, his head sharing the same pillow as Remus'. "You're absolutely mental. You should never travel the day after your transformation." His hand curved slightly and he placed it upon Remus' forehead, feeling for a fever that was not high. "You should rest now. We can fight later."
"Don't want to fight at all," Remus whispered, before he could stop himself. He still had an overwhelming urge to kick Sirius, knee him in the groin, or do something equally childish and awful, except now he felt close to tears as well. He was drained and exhausted, and he snuggled up against Sirius' chest with a choked sob. "I understand your desire to have a swinging bachelor pad to entertain… well, whoever." That was the part Remus definitely did not want to know more about. "But we shared a bed every bloody night; I assumed we'd move in together. I assumed you'd invite me to live here."
"You assumed that?"
Remus nodded and snuffled, "Then I find out you went and got this place on your own. Without me. Not once did you ask me to move in."
Sirius was silent for a few seconds as he let the words sink in. Then, "You're right that we were close, that we shared a bed every night- shared more than a bed." He peeled back damp hair and pressed his lips to Remus' warm forehead. "Which is why I assumed that you'd move in with me. I assumed I wouldn't even have to ask."
"You assumed that?"
Sirius nodded. "But then you went and moved in with Peter instead and never once came to visit, let alone move in."
It was Remus' turn to be thoughtfully quiet. He looked into Sirius' eyes, but did not risk a kiss. "You really wanted me to live here?"
"Of course. Always did, but then I realized you must not want to."
"Easy to say that now…but how do I know you mean it?" Sirius smiled the sort of smile that always made Remus go weak. Despite himself, he snuggled closer to Sirius, feeling that comfort and familiarity he hadn't had since Hogwarts.
"Of course I wanted you here. Haven't you even looked around the room?"
Remus lifted his head. His neck felt sore and he longed to put it back against the lovely, plumped pillow. The bedroom was large, with a king-sized bed against one wall, a nightstand on each side. Against the left wall there was a dresser that stretched from one window to the other, and a mirror hung in-between; only six of the twelve drawers looked used, full-to-overflowing or partially pushed in. The other wall had three doors, all of which were open, leading to the hallway, a closet containing Sirius' clothes, and a completely empty closet. Against the wall opposite the bed, however, stood five bookcases, all lined up and all empty. In front of them was a cushy arm chair and a small table upon which was a lamp. Remus looked from it back to Sirius again.
"I thought about setting up a reading spot for you in the living room, but then I decided there would be too many distractions. There's a spare room down the hall I considered, too, but I thought it would be a better safe room for full moon nights. So I made space here. After all, there isn't anywhere as intimate as a bedroom… our bedroom. Even when you didn't move in, I didn't take down the bookcases in hopes that you might at least come over to store some of your books here."
Remus nestled his face on the pillow in the space between Sirius' shoulder, neck, and head. He was romantic. And he was annoying. Annoyingly romantic. He was an absolute berk and Remus couldn't help but love him. He yawned, nuzzling and cuddling as close as he could- closer than he had thought possible.
"So what do you say you spend the night here and get to know the place? Then maybe you can consider moving in…"
As wonderful as that sounded, Remus had one better. "How about I take a little nap here, and you go get my things? Then maybe we can unpack together?"
Sirius pulled back a little, just so that he could cock his head and angle it in order to kiss Remus. With Sirius' arms wrapped tightly around him, Remus closed his eyes and kissed back. Even surrounded by empty shelves, without a single book in sight, and though he certainly was not alone, Remus had never felt safer and more at ease.