March 2004 - January 3, 2011

Disclaimer: I don't normally take quite this long to write stuff, honest. Beta by elynross. Do not archive without permission.

in the right hands

The lesson was over, and all the students wandered out of the meadow, some of them brushing at stains on their robes where the more aggressive Brindlers had left muddy pawprints. "Wait," Sirius said, catching the sleeve of Remus's robes and dragging him back around the trunk of an oak at least ten times as old as the two of them together. "I've got something to show you."

"Okay," Remus said, slightly breathless as he stumbled backwards over a root and stood pressed against the tree-trunk. Sirius loved that faint hitch in Remus's voice, almost the suggestion of a growl. "Will it take long? I've wanted lunch since half-past breakfast."

The sun came out from behind scudding clouds, and Sirius felt its warmth against the side of his face like a petting hand. Early May was capricious, and the ground was slippery underfoot, slick with mud from two days of rain. Remus squinted against the sunlight, and strands in his hair shone with momentary brightness, copper and white mixed in with the leaf-mould brown.

Sirius curved his hand about Remus's jaw, tried to touch him as warmly as the sunlight, and leaned up to kiss him. He pulled back to say, "Shouldn't have fed all your biscuits to the Brindler. Kettleburn said you were spoiling it rotten. And I don't know, how long do you want it to take?"

Remus smiled and leaned back against the oak, hands flat against its crumbly bark. "More like bribing it. It didn't like the way I smelled. Did yours show you how to find buried hexes as well?"


"Well, then." Remus's eyes in sunshine were brown and green and a little gold, like the branches and leaves and sunshine above them. Camouflage eyes. "I consider my biscuits well spent."

Sirius pressed closer to Remus, pushing him harder against the trunk. "Am I squashing you?"

"No." Remus leaned his head back against the tree, too, still smiling, and Sirius kissed his bared throat. He slid his hands down Remus's arms to his hands and spread his own out over them.

"God, you're freezing." He lipped at Remus's earlobe, which was also cold. "I have an idea. Come on." He grabbed Remus by one chilly hand, and Remus laughed and followed. Sirius went through the trees for as long as he could before venturing onto more open ground, creeping along with theatrical stealth while Remus followed in effortless silence, and they ended up behind greenhouse four. "There's a side door here."

"Which is latched," Remus said, in that calm, matter-of-fact way of his, "to keep people out."

Sirius snorted. He drew a stiff piece of parchment from a pocket in his robe, folded it double, and slid it into the crack of the door. "Not very much of a challenge." The latch lifted, and the door swung open.

"You really are a prefect's worst nightmare." Remus slipped into the greenhouse, and Sirius followed him.

Inside this greenhouse, the air was dry and warm. Rare desert plants grew in pots of sandy soil, and the workbench along the back wall listed to the right, where a morning star cactus leaned heavily against it. Sirius caught Remus's hands in both of his and drew then to his face, breathed on the cold fingertips, and then began to suck each finger in turn into his mouth. When he looked up, he saw that Remus was watching him steadily under the ragged brown fringe of his hair. Sirius smiled, released the ring finger of Remus's right hand, and curved his tongue about the middle one. Remus's eyes grew hazy and his mouth fell open.

The dry, stiff leaves of the whispering palmetto rustled against one of the glass walls. Sirius kissed Remus's palm, then stepped in close and kissed his mouth. He pressed closer, and Remus backed up, until they were pressed against the doorjamb, standing in sunshine that filtered hot and sticky as syrup through the glass. Sirius pushed his thigh between Remus's legs and tried to remember what the greenhouse floor looked like and just how dirty his knees would get if he dropped down and--

The front door of the greenhouse rattled open, and Sirius froze. A cheerful voice said, "Oh yes, of course I have Timidulas, they're in the back..."

Remus yanked the back door open and Sirius out through it before Sirius could even blink, and they were around the corner of the greenhouse before Sirius's legs quite caught up with the rest of his body. When Remus let go of him, Sirius rubbed the place on his shoulder where Remus's fingers had dug in and grinned to cover the way he really, really wanted to go to his knees right there and then. "Not quite the kind of manhandling I had in mind, there."

A cloud drifted over the sun, shadowing them for a moment, and then away again. Remus was clear-eyed and tight-lipped again. "We're missing lunch," he said, turned away, and walked towards the castle with a quick, ground-eating stride.

Sirius frowned and rubbed his shoulder some more. He glared in through the greenhouse wall, where Professor Sprout was coaxing Timidula buds into a small bowl, and walked more slowly up to the castle. When he got to the Great Hall, there was no sign of Remus, so Sirius sat with Lily Evans and Eusebius Cox and had shepherd's pie and sexual frustration for lunch.

That night, he lay awake behind the velvet curtains of his bed and listened to James's snoring and thought about what it would be like if he crept into Remus's bed under cover of darkness and a silencing charm, pressed himself against Remus's back, and licked his shoulder blade. Remus would shiver, Sirius decided, with that little hitch in his breathing that Sirius loved, and hold still for Sirius's caresses until Sirius bit the nape of his neck; then he'd roll over and take Sirius with him, stretch them both out and push--

The pile of books next to Sirius's pillow made a spectacular crash when they slid to the floor. Sirius sat up straight, heart pounding in quite a different way all of a sudden, and tried to scoop the books up without pulling back the bed curtains first, getting hopelessly entangled. Across the room, James was awake at once, bare feet slapping against the stone as he leaped out of bed. "What was that?"

"Sirius," Remus said, not sounding nearly as confused as a person just woken from a sound sleep ought to do.

"Dropped some books," Sirius muttered. Then he overbalanced and fell out of bed himself.

"Big book," Peter said drowsily.

James laughed and padded across the room, hauling Sirius upright, more or less, and pushing him back onto the bed, more or less. "Sleep," he said. "Or do something quiet, anyway."

"I'm not the one who snores." Sirius tried to sort out his bedding.

"Yes, you do," James and Peter said in ragged chorus, with Peter adding a wistful, "Can I go back to sleep now?"

In the morning, Sirius had forgotten about the books on the floor and stepped on them when he got out of bed, swearing so loudly that Peter threw a pillow at him; since Peter still had his eyes closed, the pillow hit Remus, who was just crossing the room. James tried to have nothing to do with it, but within minutes, all four of them had a water fight in the bathroom and were very nearly too late to get any breakfast before their first lesson.

After Charms, Sirius dragged Remus into a small room full of folding chairs and old school banners and pressed him against the wall and kissed him, but just when it was starting to get really good, Remus wriggled away to go to Divination.

After Divination, Sirius dragged Remus into the boy's toilets at the end of the third floor corridor that no one ever went to because Lily Evans and Simonetta Crane had charmed the cubicle doors to make extremely personal remarks, pressed him against the wall, and kissed him, but Remus wriggled away to go down to lunch, and Sirius had to admit that he had a point.

Between Arithmancy and Potions, Sirius tried to drag Remus into the cloakroom off the entrance hall, but Remus wriggled away to fetch his homework, and Sirius was left staring at Rubeus Hagrid's old wellingtons, and that put him off sex for at least an hour.

After the last lesson of the day, Sirius had had enough. He collared James. "Take Peter to the library," he said. "Keep him there."

"Doing what?" James rolled his eyes. "You don't want us getting bored after twenty minutes. We'll go down to the Quidditch pitch and play at practising. When can we come back?"

"We'll see you at dinner." Sirius pushed James's cloak at him. "Or not."

James laughed. "I'm only doing this because you're such a right arse if you're not getting any."

Sirius tried not to laugh, and failed. "Bugger off, Prongs."

"No, that's--"

"Shut up. Go away."

"All right. I'll just go and warn Moony that he's about to be ravished, then. Because he'll never have guessed, after today." James easily dodged Sirius's hand, got in a well-placed thwack with his broomstick, and ran out of the dormitory.

Sirius sat cross-legged on his four-poster bed and began to unbutton his shirt. His hair was long enough now that it brushed his shoulders, and he liked the sensation; he slipped his shirt off and turned his head this way and that, working the kinks out of his neck and feeling the light, tickling caress of hair against his skin. The window beyond James's bed was open, and a cool breeze shivered his skin. Sirius licked a fingertip and rubbed it over his hardening nipples.

"That's not your Arithmancy homework," Remus said from the door.

Sirius looked up and smiled. "Shut the door and get over here." He watched as Remus turned to the door for a moment, watched as Remus slipped his robes off and dropped them by James's bed. Grey was a Remus color, was a color Remus would choose to wear of his own accord, trusting it to hide him. Gryffindor red and gold, now, that made his hair shine and his eyes sparkle. And really, Sirius reflected, those trousers weren't hiding much, grey or not. He licked his lips.

Remus dropped down next to Sirius on the bed. "Aren't you cold with your shirt off and the window open?"

"Maybe a little," Sirius said, rubbing his nipples again. "Come warm me up," and he pulled Remus down on the bed, barely giving him time to kick his shoes off. Remus was heavier than he looked, lean but dense with muscle, easy and loose-jointed. Sirius grinned and did some wriggling of his own, and slid his hands up under Remus's shirt. He pushed his face into the crook of Remus's neck and breathed deep.

"You're smelling me again."

"Mmm." Something about the way Remus smelled, clean linen and warm spicy skin, made Sirius want to get closer and closer. It wasn't quite the smell of sex, or the smell of the promise of sex, if that was a smell, but it was a message that somehow meant more, more, more, and Sirius swiped at Remus' collarbone, getting the taste on his tongue as well. He had it now. Padfoot loved tracking Remus by scent, finding memories of him in places he had been, finding him and sniffing him and licking him all over. "Best smell in the world."

Remus smiled and kissed the tip of Sirius' nose, brushed soft, slightly chapped lips across his mouth. Sirius made short work of Remus's shirt. He pressed himself up, rubbing their chests together, and then rolled them over so he could use his tongue the way he wanted. Collarbone, breastbone, brown nipples shivering under every wet stroke, one of them a moon just beginning to wane, its lower right edge sliced off by the line of a scar. Sirius kissed it softly, then sucked hard, as though he could draw the pain like poison, years after the fact.

He liked to rub his face against Remus's stomach, nosing at the soft trail of hair, biting a little around the navel. Those trousers had to come off, and Sirius unbuttoned and unzipped and pushed and pulled while Remus shifted under him in ways that were sometimes helpful and sometimes not.

Remus' hipbones were even sharper than his cheekbones, and Sirius licked one of them and then trailed his tongue along the soft crease at the top of Remus' thigh, in and down, lapping at the skin. He blew away the hair that kept falling in his eyes, and that meant he was also blowing on the trail his tongue had left on Remus' skin. Remus made a small sound, barely more than a caught breath, and Sirius smiled. Remus was always so quiet and controlled, but there had to be a way to tease him into a reaction, a more vigorous response. Perhaps, Sirius thought, if he licked right here--

The door to the dormitory slammed open. "Oi, stop that!"

"The hell?" Sirius wrenched around and saw James standing just inside the dormitory, hands clapped over his eyes.

"Oh Merlin, I've gone blind. Look, sorry and all that, but someone's been breeding dancing mice with glowing tails under their bed and they escaped and got into the kitchens and set fire to the flour and the curtains and one of the house elves had hysterics, and McGonagall and Filch are about to inspect the dormitories to see what else people are doing that they shouldn't, and unless you want them to walk in on you like this I think you'd better stop."

"Oh." Sirius swore under his breath. Remus was already zipped up and starting to pull his shirt on. "Ta, James. D'you see my shirt anywhere?"

James tossed a T-shirt at him, and Sirius tugged it on although it was a couple of inches too short for him, probably Peter's. He turned to see that Remus was kneeling on the floor, looking under the bed. "Better move the dungbombs," Remus said. "And that case of Butterbeer. And Sirius's and Peter's recreational Herbology project. And whatever you're brewing in that cauldron, James--"

James made a distressed sound and threw himself down on the floor next to Remus, Peter came rushing in through the door, Sirius rolled off the bed, and the next few minutes were extremely hectic.

When McGonagall came into the dormitory, Sirius was lying on his bed, reading his Divination textbook, and Peter was standing by the window, folding a shirt and looking down with great interest at something outside. There was no sign of James or Remus. "Well," she said. "I trust there is nothing unsuitable concealed in this dormitory?"

"What?" Sirius looked up from his book and blinked with artful surprise. He jumped to his feet. "No, Professor McGonagall. Of course not." He grinned at her. "Well, unless you count some of Potter's underwear."

Sirius didn't see Remus again until dinnertime, when James and Remus came in with cool air in their clothes, James with a bit of bark and some pine needles in his hair, both of them laughing. "Mischief managed," James said in a low voice, leaning forward over the table and grinning at Sirius and Peter. "Did you get in trouble with McGonagall?"

Peter shook his head. "Oh, no. There was no trouble left to get into." He smiled. "Filch was furious, though. He crawled under the beds twice."

"I think McGonagall thought it was funny," Sirius added. "She had that look on her face."

The corner of Remus's mouth curled up. "You've invented that look on McGonagall's face. You're just seeing what you want to see."

Sirius opened his mouth to argue, but Remus was brushing pine needles out of James's hair, not looking at him, and he ate some boiled carrots in a thoughtful manner instead. James explained to Peter where they'd hidden everything, in the Shack and in some places at the edge of the forest. Sirius stretched out a leg under the table and kicked James's shin, not too hard. When James looked up, Sirius twitched an eyebrow, and James nodded.

A little later, when Remus had finished his third helping of beef stew, they all left the hall together and walked slowly through the castle. Sirius had brought away an apple, and ate it in short, impatient bites.

"That reminds me," James said, tapping the breastplate of a suit of armor. "Peter, I need to show you what we did with the fireworks -- the way we stacked them, they could fall on Wormtail, if you-- C'mon, we'll just slip out and see what we can do, Remus and I were in a bit of a rush."

"It shouldn't be a problem," Remus said, frowning. "Look, you know we--"

"Let's not take any risks with it," James said, steering Peter back towards the stairs. "We'll catch up with you later."

Remus started after James and Peter. "I'd better go with them."

Sirius went after Remus. "No, you don't. Look, I want to have a word with you." He grabbed Remus and hauled him back the way they'd come.

Remus was not easily hauled when he didn't want to be. He broke free of Sirius's grasp and walked back in the direction of the stairs. "I have homework, too. And so do you."

Sirius caught Remus's sleeve and tried to budge him again, nearly stumbling into a fairly gruesome tapestry. "We've time. Remus. Just, just come in here for a moment."

"All right," Remus said, but his voice promised nothing good.

Sirius fumbled for a door he hadn't even noticed before, and when he went inside, Remus followed him, but stopped just inside the door, closed it, crossed his arms and leaned back against it. Sirius sighed. There were many better ways to start this talk, but what came out of his mouth was, "You don't really want to do this, do you?"

Remus uncrossed his arms. "I honestly do have a lot of homework. I'm awfully behind in Ancient Runes, and it's the full moon in two days, so I'll lose a lot of time there."

"I don't mean this," Sirius said, "I mean this. Us." He stepped in closer and kissed Remus, who kissed him back softly, but didn't bring his arms up to try to hold him. Sirius stepped back, and Remus let him go without even a token effort. "See?"

"No." Remus frowned.

"I mean." Sirius stared at the door frame next to Remus's head. "I don't think you've ever dragged me into a room and kissed me. Or climbed into my bed at night. You just, you go along with it, the way you go along with James on kitchen raids, and. I dunno." He stared at the toes of his boots instead, trying not to imagine Remus seizing hold of him, kissing him ruthlessly. "Do you really want to do this?"

"Well, I." Remus's voice sounded strangely distant. "Not if you think it's -- I mean, I thought you were happy with, I didn't realize you weren't-- We shouldn't, then. I have to go." He yanked the door open with considerable violence, and left.

Sirius stared at the closing door, then tugged at the door handle to follow, but the door was stuck. Perhaps Remus had done something to the hinges. Sirius turned around, staring at the room. He'd never been here before; he would have recognized the paneled walls, the two large, high-backed armchairs in front of the fireplace, the frieze of running dogs along the mantelpiece. At least, he thought they were dogs. There was a small round table next to one of the chairs, and on the table, a stack of freshly washed and ironed handkerchiefs. Sirius shook his head in mild confusion and tried the door again.

This time, it squeaked open under his hand and let him out into the corridor. Sirius went back to Gryffindor tower. Remus wasn't in the common room, nor was he up in the dormitory, which felt strangely empty without all their usual supplies under the beds and the smoky scent of whatever James had had in that cauldron. Probably the library, then. Turning back towards the door, Sirius took a moment to kick the nearest bedpost, and at that moment, James came in.

"Hullo. Peter's bed behaving badly?" James grinned, but Sirius didn't grin back. "Has something happened?"

Sirius shrugged. "I think," he said. "I think Remus broke up with me."

James stared. "Why?"

"I don't know!" Sirius kicked the bedpost again. "I asked him if he really wanted to, you know, sometimes he's so, um, and he said we probably shouldn't, then, and then he left."

Pulling off his robes, James sat at the foot of Peter's bed and frowned. "I don't think I understood a word of that."

Sirius slumped down next to James. "Problem is, I'm not sure I do, either." He scratched the back of his neck. "I thought he wanted this, but then I wasn't sure, so I asked, and he said we shouldn't, and then he ran off." Sirius stared at his knees. "'spect I did something wrong."

"Yeah, that seems likely," James agreed cheerfully. "Want me to talk to him?"

"No. Yes. No." He looked sideways at James. "What if he doesn't really fancy me?"

James made a choked-off sound. "Do you know Remus? The one you've been carrying on with since Michaelmas?" He poked Sirius in the chest. "Bloke in our dormitory, brown hair, looks at you like you're chocolate and he hasn't eaten in days?"

"He does?"

James scratched his chin. "Most of the time, yeah. I mean, when he's not looking at you like you're dafter than a drunk pixie. But we all do that, you know."

"Fat lot of help you are," Sirius muttered, but he felt better. "Do you reckon I should try to talk to him again, then, or just, well. Do something?"

"Talk," James said promptly. "Talking's best. To Remus, not to me." He grinned. "At least if you mean what I think you mean when you say do something. Be a shame if you tried to snog him and he put you through the wall."

Sirius shivered a little, but shook his head. "He'd never."

"Well, but he could, couldn't he?"

"Mm." Sirius rubbed at the bruise on his shoulder the exact size and shape of Remus's hand. "I expect he could." He frowned. "Oi, why aren't you in the Shack with Peter? If Remus hadn't broken up with me, you could have walked in on us again."

"The door was open," James said. "Remus usually remembers to close it even if you don't." He leaned over and investigated the hidden compartment in Peter's bedpost for sweets. "Off you go, then. Find out what you did and apologize for it, and we can all get back to normal. And d'you mind if I borrow your broom for tomorrow's practice? Mine's got a kink in the tail, it keeps pulling left."

"No crashing," Sirius said. "And I don't want any more Bludger dents in the handle." He got up and walked to the door.

"It was that or my head," James said, unapologetic. "Why are you still here?"

It seemed most likely that Remus was in the library, and trying to talk to him there would be difficult, to say the least. Sirius decided to find out, though. He pulled his robes on, because the castle hallways were quite chilly in the evenings, and walked quickly through the common room without stopping to talk to anyone. The shortest route to the library was also the least-used one, involving a trompe l'oeil door and a narrow staircase with steps worn deep and slippery in the middle. Sirius went down with care and slipped out into an empty corridor, barely stirring the dust as he went.

The library was a little warmer than the drafty passage leading to it. Pools of warm light glowed at several tables where people were studying late. Sirius walked quietly in the shadows of the stacks until he found Remus, who was sitting alone at a table surrounded by piles of books and rolls of parchment. He had inkstains on his fingers, and the collar of his robe was askew. Sirius sat down across the table and waited for Remus to notice him.

The scratch of Remus's quill against the parchment was slow and laborious, as if the words were dragging their feet. Remus had tugged his sleeve back to keep it out of the ink, and the fine hairs on his arm glinted gold in the lamplight as he shifted to a new line on the parchment and his wrist flexed. Muscles moved under the skin with casual ease, and Sirius rolled his shoulder in unthinking response, feeling the bruise twinge with the movement.

At long last, at the end of a very long sentence, Remus looked up. He didn't say anything, merely cocked his head to one side, waiting.

Sirius sighed. "I'm sorry."

Remus looked politely uninterested. "For what?"

Sirius shrugged. "No idea, but I thought it was worth a try." He also tried his most charming smile, but Remus seemed entirely unmoved. Sirius slumped a little in his chair. Silence weighed on him.

"Listen. Can we talk about this?"

Nothing changed in Remus's expression, but a faint flush rose on his cheeks, his throat. "I think we'd better not."

Sirius leaned forward across the table, cursing the impulse that had left him three feet of solid oak away from physical persuasion.


"There's no point." The flush deepened across Remus's cheekbones. "It's not--" He bit off the words. "It's better like this."

"No, it's not," Sirius said. He swallowed. "Nothing's better without you. I'm not better without you." He swallowed again; it was the table's fault, pressing into his belly like that. "Unless you really don't want me."

Something flashed in Remus's eyes, and the quill broke in his fingers. "Sirius." His voice started out smooth, but ended up ragged. "If I wasn't making you happy, if it wasn't what you wanted--"

Sirius half stood up, chair scraping back. "You are what I want, you loony--"

Knuckles rapped sharply on oak. "Silence!" Madam Pince said sharply. "Mr Lupin, Mr Black. Silence in the library, if you please."

Sirius didn't please, not at all, but this certainly wasn't working out the way he had intended. He put the chair back in a quiet, orderly, librarian-approved manner, leaned across the table, and hissed at Remus, "You can't stay in the library forever, you know." Then he left before Madam Pince could throw him out.

Halfway back up the well-worn staircase, all the energy left him, and he sat down abruptly on a hard stone step. Remus really had broken up with him. And he'd asked for it. Sirius closed his eyes and beat his head softly against the stone wall. He'd asked if Remus really wanted to do this, and it seemed clear, now, that Remus thought that meant that Sirius didn't want to do it. If he'd only kept his stupid questions to himself, perhaps he'd still have a boyfriend with soft eyes and warm skin and strong, scarred hands, whose kisses made Sirius feel hot and pliant, made him melt like chocolate in the sun.

And get sticky. Sirius grinned a little to himself. Then the grin vanished. He trailed his fingertips slowly through the dust and grit on the steps. No, he couldn't have kept his stupid questions to himself. Things had been good, but they hadn't been quite right between them. Remus had been holding back, somehow. As if some part of him remained untouched by kisses and caresses, hidden like the moon behind a cloud, but undeniably there.

So Sirius had asked, and Remus had answered, and now whatever they'd had between them was over, because Remus thought it was better like this. Sirius stood up and went up the rest of the stairs, slammed the trompe l'oeil door shut with more force than necessary, and returned to the Gryffindor common room. He would have slammed the portrait shut if he'd been able to figure out how to do it. Remus's words looped over and over in his mind.

The common room was empty except for Lily Evans, who sat curled up in a chair before the fireplace, almost hidden by a large book. She nodded at Sirius, and he nodded back on his way to the staircase, then stopped cold in the middle of the floor as he finally heard what Remus-in-his-head was saying. "I don't believe it," he said.

"Okay," Lily said agreeably, pushing her braids back.

"I don't believe it. James is right."

Lily snorted. "Yeah, I don't believe that, either. Right about what?"

Sirius had thought that something was wrong between them because Remus was so cautious, could be somehow reserved even with Sirius's hand down his trousers. Sirius had worried that Remus wasn't as involved, didn't feel as strongly. But. "Remus wants to make me happy."

One of Lily's eyebrows climbed almost all the way to her hairline. "Bit slow with the epiphanies, aren't you?" She disappeared behind her book again.

Sirius was worried about not making Remus happy. Remus was apparently worried about not making Sirius happy; he'd said so himself. And perhaps Sirius would like, well, more, but he was much happier with Remus than without him. Sirius just needed to make him listen, and not in the middle of the library, either. He went upstairs to do some more plotting with James.

That night, Remus didn't return to the room until long after everyone else was in bed. Sirius lay awake in the darkness and listened to the soft rustle of shed clothing, and pictured Remus's body as it was stripped of its prim schoolboy trappings, as the architecture of bone and sinew and muscle was revealed. He stayed perfectly still as Remus got into bed and settled the sheets and comforter to his liking. He kept his breathing even, and hoped that Remus couldn't hear his heartbeat; it felt like the tolling of a huge bell that shook his entire body.

Maybe he wouldn't tell Remus everything tomorrow. But maybe he'd tell Remus some of it.

Sirius forced himself to stop listening for signs of Remus's presence, the scrunch of a pillow, a soft breath. Instead, he made himself focus on James's regular snoring until it put him to sleep.

The next day, Peter woke Sirius by sitting down on his feet. Remus was already gone from the room; he didn't sleep much in the nights before the full moon. Sirius crawled out of bed and dragged on the nearest set of clothes; not until he was halfway through breakfast did he realize that he was wearing one of Remus's shirts, and a too-small pair of socks that he couldn't even remember seeing before. He looked at James, calmly buttering a piece of toast next to him, and James nodded.

Sirius wasn't certain how he got through the day. At least no one expected him to pay attention in History of Magic, where Binns seemed to have put even himself to sleep, and James stopped him from turning his toes into chocolate truffles in Transfigurations. Remus was silent and distant, barely speaking to anyone at all, though Peter got a small smile out of him just after lunch by telling a truly dreadful joke about a centaur, a hippogriff and a Slytherin walking into a bar.

"Breathe," James said in his ear. "I'm not helping you with this if you're going to swoon on the stairs."

"Swoon!" Sirius drew himself up and tried to elbow James. "I'll show you swooning."

James made a show of raking his hair back and adjusting his robes, then checked his watch. "Ten minutes," he said.

Sirius nodded. He tugged James's robes askew again. "What if he won't come?"

"I'll tell him you swooned and you need help." James dodged away from Sirius and hurried down the hallway, and Sirius went off and loitered in an alcove near the room with the dog frieze and the comfortable armchairs, wondering if whoever had left the handkerchiefs behind had come to take them away.

Those ten minutes dragged out into an eternity, but at long last, he heard footsteps approaching, and James at his most persuasive. "No, it needs to be here. In this hallway."

Remus clearly had his doubts. "Why? What's here?"

Sirius didn't know what story, precisely, James had used to coax Remus here, but he did know that tone of Remus's voice, so it seemed better to keep the prevarication to a minimum. He stepped out of the alcove. "I am."

Remus looked at James in a way that did not bode well for James's much-needed tutoring in Arithmancy, and then at Sirius. "So you are."

Sirius nodded at the door that was, to his surprise, standing ajar. "Thought we could talk in here."

Remus shook his head slowly, more in disbelief than denial. "You never give up, do you."

"Not on you," Sirius said. He swallowed hard.

"I'll just be off, then," James said, stepping back cautiously, as if he expected Remus to bolt. He looked at Sirius, and Sirius nodded a heartfelt thank you. James disappeared back the way he and Remus had come, and Sirius trusted him to tell a convincing story, if one were needed, to explain why Sirius and Remus weren't where people expected them to be.

Sirius pushed the door wider open and cocked his head at Remus. "Please?"

"I suppose I'd better," Remus said ungraciously, coming up next to Sirius, "or Merlin knows what you and James will try next time." He gave Sirius a sideways look. "You aren't going to swoon, are you?"

"No!" Sirius said, outraged, and followed Remus into the room. There were the armchairs, and the fireplace, just like last time, and some stuff on the table that he ignored in favor of staring at Remus. He sprawled into the nearest chair, hooking one leg over the armrest. "Remus," he said, as gravely as he could, and then couldn't think of any other words.

Remus was still on his feet, inspecting the frieze over the panels on the walls. "These are wolves," he said.

"That's nice." Sirius glared at the back of Remus's head. "Would you sit down, please? Don't fancy talking to someone who's more interested in the walls."

Remus turned in a swirl of robes and took two long strides, sitting down with a thump. "Better?" He cocked his head, his eyes distant and cool. "What is it you want to talk about so badly?"

"Remus," Sirius said again, and then gave up on trying to find words and just let them come. "Tell me why you don't want me any more."

The fire crackled. Remus froze, both hands clenching the armrests. A silver-white stripe of scar tissue across his knuckles gleamed in the firelight. "That," he said with slow care, "is not precisely the problem." He relaxed slowly, leaning against the high backrest.

"Feels like the problem to me," Sirius said, cursing the armchairs and the way they were stuck a fixed distance from each other. "You never... I mean, it's always my idea..." He looked up sharply. Remus was growling, a low rasp of a sound that made Sirius's bones tremble. "Feels like I'm always after you," he got out. "I want you so much, and I wish you would..."

Remus shook his head. "You don't know," he said. "I could hurt you."

"I know." Sirius couldn't sit still; he bounced up out of the armchair's embrace and began to pace in front of the fire. "I know you could." He was deeply aware of the strength and power that lay coiled in Remus, just under the skin. "But you wouldn't." He shivered a little.

"You're afraid of me," Remus said, with the growl threaded through his voice. "You're shaking." He rubbed the back of one hand over his mouth. "Do you wonder why I think it's better like this? D'you think I want to feel fear from--"

Sirius launched himself at Remus, landing in the chair with his knees on either side of Remus's thighs, bruising himself slightly against one armrest. The armchair rocked, but stayed standing. "Did you lose your sense of smell when your mind went?" He pressed in as close as he could in this awkward position. "I'm not afraid of you. I don't think you'll hurt me. You don't want to, do you?"

Remus's arms came up, wrapping around Sirius, holding him tight. "Never." He pressed his face against Sirius's throat, breathing in, and Sirius knew that his scent wouldn’t lie and couldn’t be misunderstood by anyone who was paying attention.

It seemed that Remus was paying attention. He leaned back and pulled Sirius's head down and kissed him. Remus kissed as though he were eating a ripe peach, with great and hungry care, and Sirius let himself be devoured, making soft sounds of approval. His skin felt suddenly hot, as though he'd moved from shadow to sunlight. Remus was always intense, but he could hide it better at other times; in the days just before the full moon, that intensity ate right through the thin veneer of calm politeness.

"But do you?" Sirius said when he had breath to speak again, because he wanted to hear Remus say it. "Want me? I mean, who wouldn't, but."

Remus tipped his head back against the chair, hair like silk against the ragged red velvet, and laughed. There was a trace of the growl in his laugh. "Sirius. You're always in such a hurry." He slid his hands down to Sirius's hips and pushed up against him, and there was no room for doubt. "You know I do."

Sirius took a deep breath, feeling his heartbeat speed up as the words came tumbling out. “Then show me. Let me feel it. That you want me, that you're more than strong enough to hurt me, and that you never would."

The hands on his hips tightened, a sudden clench that wouldn't leave bruises. "Is that what you want?"

"Yes." Sirius resisted the urge to hit Remus on the back of the head, but only because the chair back was in the way. "Merlin, yes." He was trembling again, he could see his own heartbeat pulsing in his wrists, could feel it all the way to his fingertips, and what he felt might be partly nerves, but it had nothing to do with fear. “Please.”

“Sirius,” Remus whispered softly. “Do you know how much I...”

“Are you going to let me find out?” Sirius licked at Remus’s throat, just below the jawline.

Remus made a sound. “Yes.”

Then he stood up, effortlessly taking Sirius with him. Sirius barely had a moment to be dizzied before he was back in the chair again, in the same position as before, kneeling on the seat, only now Remus was standing behind him, leaning over him, brushing his hair aside to kiss the back of his neck.

He felt the scrape of teeth across the knobs of his vertebrae, and now the shudder was deep and spontaneous, a ripple that went clean through him. Remus’s hands slid up under Sirius’s shirt, shaping his rib cage from behind and then curving around in front to spread out across his belly, fingertips fluttering in light caresses that followed the pace of Sirius’s breathing, in out in hitch out.

One hand moved higher until the thumb started to flick back and forth over Sirius's nipple. At first the sensation barely registered; then it sang along his nerves, a tight, hot pleasure. He arched and moaned, reaching back with both hands to find Remus and drag him closer.

Remus pulled his hands out from underneath Sirius’s shirt and caught Sirius's arms, pulling them forward and up to the top of the armchair’s high backrest. He wrapped his right hand around both of Sirius’s wrists and held them there, his grip tight, but not hard. Sirius tugged against the hold; knowing he couldn’t break it, he still pulled until Remus pressed his wrists down against the velvet and growled in his ear. That low rasping sound was like a gentle caress along Sirius’s skin, but at the same time powerful enough to set up an echo in his bones.

With his free hand, Remus unfastened Sirius's pants and dragged them down a little, enough that he could fit his palm over one cheek and drag his thumb up and down the cleft of Sirius’s arse. Sirius felt like fireworks were about to go off somewhere very, very close; he was sparking, twitching. “Please.” He leaned forward enough to kiss the hand that held his wrists down, licking slowly over the back and straining up to tongue the knuckles, lumpy and a little callused. Remus tightened his grip, but not in a way that meant stop.

Sirius closed his eyes so he could concentrate on the taste of Remus's skin, because that taste was perfect to him just as the smell was, that inimitable and perfectly Remus scent, so much deeper and richer than anybody else’s. He slid his tongue down so he could suck on the inside of Remus's wrist, feeling every beat of Remus’s pulse.

A quick kiss to his neck, and then a quiet chuckle, as Remus let go of his arse but kept his wrists pinned. “That's remarkably thorough planning,” Remus said. “Or optimistic...”

Sirius had no idea what he was talking about, but a moment later, he yelped as something cool and creamy landed on his overheated skin. Remus teased him with slick fingers and then slid one right in; Sirius dropped his head forward and groaned. “Where did you get--”

“On the table.” Remus blew his hair away from his neck and licked behind his ear. “Didn’t you put it there?”

“No,” Sirius gasped. His body was in motion, rocking in tiny movements between Remus’s hands, and when Remus released his wrists to slip two fingers in his mouth, he felt as though he would shiver apart, trying to press closer, push down. “Oh,” as a flash of sensation shot through him, “oh, do that... again...”

“What, this?” Remus twisted his wrist, and oh, that was two fingers, and Sirius felt like he was coming apart and Remus still sounded so controlled, though that rasp in his voice was more pronounced now. Sirius sucked harder on the fingers in his mouth, and Remus licked his earlobe. “You’re so... This is what you want?”

“Yes.” Sirius licked at Remus’s fingertips. “Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.” He wished Remus would hold him down again, but at the same time, he didn’t want to lose the weight of Remus’s fingers on his tongue. “Can’t you,” he drew his breath in sharply, “tell?”

Remus nosed at his throat again, kissed and licked behind his ear, breathed on his skin. His lips were a little chapped, and the roughness was a tease and a tickle. Sirius tilted his head to the side and shuddered when Remus’s tongue drew a line down his throat to his collar, and then back up again.

Sirius thought he could stay like this forever, but just then Remus shifted behind him, fingers slipping out to be replaced by a much thicker pressure, and Remus’s breath against his ear turned into that low ragged growl that made Sirius want so much he didn’t even have words for it. He arched, pushing back, and then cried out at a quick flash that turned into a slow burn.

He could feel his own pulse echo through his whole body, half sound and half sensation, the way pounding must be to a drum. Remus wrapped both hands around Sirius’s wrists and pressed them into the chair, pressed Sirius forward as he slowly worked his way in, pushed forward until they were chest to back, hot and close and perfect.

“You,” Remus whispered, starting to thrust slowly. “You are...”

“Nn.” Sirius tried to spread his legs wider, but he was trapped by the arms of the chair. “What? I’m, oh, what?”

Remus’s voice was all growl now. “Mine.”

“Yes!” Sirius moaned and laughed at the same time. “Remus, you idiot. I thought you’d never catch on.” He shuddered all over as Remus began to move faster, harder. “Yes. Like that.” Sirius strained against Remus's grip, and so far from letting him go, Remus just held him tighter. His breath caught at the rightness of it. “Yours.”

For a moment, Sirius felt the dry prickle of the chair’s velvet cover against his arms, the seam of the seat cushion pressed under one of his knees, and then he lost those feelings to the intense, brilliant pleasure of Remus moving in him. Short thrusts at first, almost harsh, and then a long, slow slide that made Sirius cry out loud. Remus pressed his face against the side of Sirius’s throat, licking and nipping.

“I want you so much,” Remus said raspily, as if the words were torn out of him. “All the time. That’s why I always... waited for you to come to me. It felt safer.”

Sirius tried to laugh, but it came out as a breathless sob. “Completely cracked,” he panted. “You are... Remus, you idiot. Yours, whenever you want, I’m yours, I would... Oh. Oh, that’s--”

He arched back and lost all interest in speaking. It was too good, the overpowering stimulation and the sheer rightness of knowing that Remus was claiming him, Remus was finally taking what was his. The deep, steady sound of Remus growling in his ear was better and more thrilling than any verbalized declaration of love and desire. This, just this, the two of them together, locked in a hot and perfect struggle for pleasure--

Time stretched out forever around him, and then compressed into a tight and inescapable now, stripping his self down to a single breath. Sirius screamed when he came.

The next thing he knew was velvet pressing against his face, and the hot weight of Remus pressing against his back. Sirius sucked in a breath and tried to make a sound. He thoroughly approved of Remus after orgasm, heavy and dazed, completely relaxed for once. Remus panted into Sirius’s neck and then gripped him tight around the waist and chest and twisted them both around, so Remus sat in the armchair (or rather slumped back in it) and Sirius sprawled on top of him, their bodies still joined together.

“I think,” Remus said, still breathing heavily, “that we're missing Arithmancy.”

Sirius chuckled, which produced some interesting sensations. “Do you expect me to care about that?”

“Not until the twenty inches on the Chaldean method are due,” Remus said dryly. “But I should have--”

Sirius squirmed. “No. Wait.” He craned his neck far enough that he could see a bit of Remus’s face. “Please don’t tell me-- Remus. Honestly. Would you rather have been in class?”

“Well.” Then Remus laughed and tightened his arms around Sirius. “No. Unless you were there. I would much rather be... wherever you are.”

“Good.” Sirius squirmed some more, trying to get comfortable. “Try to remember that before you decide to break up with me next time.” He tipped his head back and kissed Remus’s chin, conveniently within reach. “Try to remember that I’m yours.”

Remus growled, and Sirius felt touched by something warmer than sunlight.

* * *

harry potter || e‑mail
dreamwidth comments