Title: Of Brothers and Boyfriends
Word Count: 38,286
Summary: After winter break sixth year James finds Sirius and Remus in bed together. He is disgusted and horrified to discover the true nature of their relationship, which they had been keeping secret for years. As the first rumblings of war begin to infringe on the edge of the Marauders' awareness, Sirius struggles to reconcile the two most important men in his life: his brother and his boyfriend. Sometimes choosing between them is easy, sometimes more difficult, but what will happen when real danger threatens, and Sirius' choice means the difference between life and death? Written for rsbigbang 2011.
Warnings: flangst, homophobia, violence, peril
A/N: I swear, if every post is going to be limited to a single chapter... *grr*
The slamming door to their bathroom startled Sirius out of his restless sleep. He awoke slowly, blinking and rubbing grit out of his eyes as he stared around the dorm room. James' bed was empty, while Remus and Peter were just waking in theirs. James was the one in the bathroom, then.
Sirius groaned. He had to use the loo.
Remus was grabbing for his robes and pulling out the books he needed for the day as he appeared to be dawdling, waiting for James to clear out of the shower. Peter, after a moment of hopping back and forth in front of his bed, sucked in a lungful of air and threw back his shoulders, before striding forward to their shared bathrooms. Sirius groaned, tightening his legs. If only he could do the same.
A half hour later, and Peter had managed to go through his entire morning routine, including loo, shower, and clothes. Now he was sitting on his bed, flipping through a Quidditch magazine as he pretended not to shoot nervous looks every couple of seconds between Remus and Sirius and the bathroom door, where James' shower was still running.
Cursing, Sirius started for the bathroom. Remus held out an arm to try and stop him, but it was half-hearted at best. Sirius brushed right by it and stormed his way into the bathroom, ignoring the showers and heading straight for the loo.
Release achieved, Sirius decided to continue on getting ready while he was here. He wasn't about to let James' twatish behavior make him miss breakfast. So Sirius grabbed a towel and headed for a shower, tugging the curtain shut behind him and turning on the water.
James' voice was loud enough to be audible over the spray of two showerheads. “Wormtail was already in here, so that's got to be one of the poofters.”
Sirius snarled as he lathered his arms. “You're fucking right it is!” he shouted back. “And this poofter's been waiting on your dawdling arse all morning, so you can go stuff your insults and let me shower in peace.”
The other shower turned off, and Sirius listened carefully as he began to shampoo his hair. He kept his eyes open and focused on the shower curtain, head tilted back to keep the shampoo out of his eyes. He still wasn't sure exactly what James might be capable of when riled too far, but he was prepared for anything.
Bare feet slapped across the bathroom tiles, coming to rest just in front of Sirius' shower curtain. He waited, hands stilling in his hair, breath held, as the shower pounded down on his head. James' voice was lower, but no less audible, than before. “You better not come out when I'm still changing. Wouldn't want you to get all hot and bothered by the view of my arse.”
With a snarl Sirius snapped the shower off, ignoring the shampoo still dripping from his hair. He grabbed a towel off the bar in the shower and wrapped it around his waist, before stepping out of the shower. James was similarly dressed in a towel and nothing else besides his sneer and glasses, dark hair plastered down against his head in a rarely seen show of deference to James' attempts at taming it.
“You know what, Potter?” Reaching a hand out, Sirius shoved James against the nearest wall, watching with satisfaction as the sneer dropped off his face and was replaced by a look of shock. “Remus told me to play nice. Treat you right, be understanding, take the abuse. And I tried listening to him, Potter. I really did.” The way James' face turned red at the most glancing mention of Sirius and Remus' relationship just spurred him on, encouraging Sirius to greater heights of recklessness. He shook James a bit, rattling him around against the cold tile walls. James' glasses slipped down his face, pieces of hair starting to escape from where they were plastered against his head and sticking up in all directions. “But since you've decided to be such a fucking arse about all of this, I'm doing just how you wanted: I'm ignoring Remus.”
Sirius leaned close, reveling in the way James' entire body tried to flinch away from him, but had nowhere to go. Sirius pressed his lips up against James' ear. “It's on, James Potter. If you're going to try and make Remus and mine's life a living hell, I'm happy to return the favor.”
With that, Sirius shoved himself off James, stalking away to the sinks where he tried to salvage his half-washed hair. He didn't even glance at James in the mirror as the other boy pulled himself together and stormed out, bathroom door slamming behind him. He could hear muffled shouts coming from the bedroom, words like “Poofters!” and “Assault!” reaching his ears, before another door slammed and an uneasy silence settled over the dorm room. Sirius stared resolutely in the mirror and brushed his teeth, ignoring the churning in his stomach and the rushing in his ears.
Less than a minute later, the door behind him opened. Sirius' eyes flickered up, meeting Remus' in the mirror. The other boy looked tired: brown hair poking up every which way, visible bags under his eyes, and a sort of ashen hue to his whole skin. Sirius dropped his gaze as he spit into the sink.
“Don't even start,” Sirius mumbled as he wiped his mouth on a towel. Sighing, he turned to face Remus, backs of his thighs against the sink and arms crossed over his chest. “He was the one who wouldn't drop it.”
“I know.” Remus grimaced at Sirius. “But whatever you said probably wasn't the most tactful way to put things.”
Sirius snorted. “Yeah, well, calling us names and forcing us to wait a half hour to use the loo isn't exactly tactful. Who knows,” Sirius pondered, “maybe a little bit of tactlessness is just what James needs to get all this,” he gestured between the two of them, “sorted in his thick skull.”
Remus shrugged, looking unconvinced. But he let the issue drop, jerking a thumb over his shoulder. “Speaking of the loo...”
Sirius sighed as Remus raced off to the toilets. He had no clue what it would take for James to come around. But as it was, Sirius wasn't about to let James run his and Remus' lives. James was his brother, sure: but that didn't mean he got to dictate who he loved. Not even Sirius' parents had succeeded at that – and Merlin knows they tried.
Sirius tossed his towel to the ground and went out to the dorm room to get dressed, shooting Remus a rakish wink that he didn't really feel on the way out. No, if push came to shove, and James kept acting like a twat, Sirius wasn't about to give up Remus. They had been together for three years. Their relationship had survived all sorts of Sirius' stupidity – including the incident-which-would-not-be-named. This wasn't some misplaced crush that Sirius was just going to throw away because his brother disapproved.
Sirius smiled more genuinely as Remus rushed out of the bathroom, hair dripping wet from a quick scrub down and throwing clothes onto himself like a madman. Sirius allowed himself to be dragged out of the room and down to breakfast by Remus, sneaking a quick kiss on the stairwell before they reached the common room. Remus smiled shakily back at him, books slipping in wet hands as they pushed their way through the morning crowd.
No, if it came down to it, Sirius wasn't giving up Remus for James. The stupid twat would just have to learn to accept the two of them.
The fact that Remus gave great head made Sirius' decision rest easier, too.
Remus and Sirius slipped quietly into their room late that night, shucking shoes, robes and books as they went. Out of habit Sirius headed for Remus' bed for a quick post-astronomy cuddle, pressing his hand gently to Remus' lower back as they tiptoed across the room.
Just as Sirius was following Remus into his bed and reaching for the curtains, the lights snapped on, and James' harsh voice filled the room. “And just what the fuck do you two poofters think you're doing?”
Automatically Remus pushed Sirius away, curling up defensively in his bed. Sirius whirled around, seeking out James in a fit of rage. He was in his bed, looking like he had been sitting up and waiting on Remus and Sirius the whole night.
“And don't try and pull that old 'studying' excuse: we all know what you were up to, now.”
On the other side of the commotion, Peter awoke with a groan, blonde hair pressed all to one side. “Aw, is that what you guys were doing all those times? Bloody hell...”
“Peter!” Sirius whirled on him, ready for a two-pronged attack, if necessary.
But Peter waved his hands sleepily, falling back against his pillows. “No. 's cool, you know. Just. Ew. Could have gone without knowing that.”
“'It's cool'?!” Sirius' attention was brought back around to James with the other boy's squeaked indignation. “Now I know you're a poofter, Wormtail.”
“Then how the hell do you explain being okay with these two shoving their cock's up each other's arses not ten meters from where you sleep?”
In that moment, seeing the freaked-out look flash across Peter's face, Sirius felt for his fellow Marauder. He was ready to come to Peter's defense, but then the blonde-haired boy puffed out his chest and shook his head fiercely in James' direction. “They're boyfriends, James. It's what they do! If you ever manage to get with Lily, we won't go spare if she spends the night on occasion.”
Throughout all of this, Remus was staying silent, a huddled mass on his bed. Sirius glanced down at him, wincing. It was only three days before full, which meant the muscle cramps, aches, pains, and headaches were all starting up. And James was doing his damnedest to make sure Remus had a rough time of it.
Sirius wasn't about to stand for that. He came to a decision, climbing into bed with Remus even as his boyfriend scrambled under the sheets and protested. James started making terrible, horrified noises, like a pig caught in a blender. “Budge over, Remus.”
Remus' hands were shoving at Sirius, legs curled up tight to his chest as he tried to have the minimum contact between the two of them. James was shouting that he was going to call McGonagall, or Dumbledore, or out the two of them to the Slytherins. Peter was remaining strangely silent. When Sirius glanced over at his bed, he found Peter's curtains tightly shut and the last shimmers of a silencing spell dispersing around his bed. Smart bloke.
“Sirius! Sirius: no.” Remus' voice was an attempt at calm, though Sirius could hear the nervousness under it. “Sirius, don't do this. Think about this.”
Firmly ensconced in Remus' bed, Sirius turned to James. His face was red, glasses slipped halfway down his nose and hair sticking up in all directions. He was leaning half off, half on his bed, as if he couldn't decide whether he wanted to draw his curtains and hide, or run off and tell a teacher about them. “No, you know what: Pete was right.” Sirius gestured at the closed curtains of Peter's bed. “If you wanted Evans to spend the night, we wouldn't raise a fuss. Maybe take the mickey a bit,” Sirius admitted, “but we'd let you.”
Sirius allowed a nasty little smirk to grow on his face as he waited out a string of curse words and homophobic slurs fall from James' lips. He cut in when James stopped for a breath. “But you don't have Evans yet, do you, Potter?” Deliberately and visibly, Sirius set his hand down on Remus' blanket-covered thigh, squeezing tightly. Remus growled up at him, but Sirius ignored it. He was too busy watching James' reaction as the bespectacled boy practically fell over himself trying not to see.
“But I've got Remus to do for me everything Evans wouldn't even ever think of doing for you.” Sirius turned to Remus, doing his best to ignore the murderous looks his boyfriend was leveling at him. “So what do you say, Moony? Blow job? Rim job? It's been a good twelve hours since we've gotten off together, and Merlin knows that's so long for us to go in between.” Ignoring both James and Remus' anger, Sirius waved a hand over his shoulder at James. “Just ignore him, Moony. He's just jealous we're about to get our rocks off.”
“Sirius!” Remus shoved Sirius away forcefully, throwing him against the pillows. Sirius smirked and raised an eyebrow at the movement, but Remus wasn't even looking at him. Instead he crawled to the edge of the bed, holding one soothing hand out to James. “I'm sorry, James. We didn't mean for any of this to come out the way it did, and I know it'll take some getting used to-”
James' face twisted cruelly, the horrified disgust that had disfigured it when Sirius was talking replaced with loathing. Sirius watched as James opened his mouth, like he was watching one of Voldemort's new thugs fire off a spell: there was nothing he could do to stop it, and he knew Remus was going to be hurt.
“Shut your fucking snout, gayarse. I don't even know what they should call what you two do together. Homosexuality? Bestiality? I had noticed you and Pads getting a bit too frisky on full, but never thought anything of it. Now... did you guys ever do anything? Did you ever mount him as a wolf, Lupin? Let him mount you as Pads? Maybe you didn't even wait for the full-”
With cold, calculated fury, Remus' flicked his wand four times. One flick cast a silencing spell around James' bed. The second closed his curtains. The third and fourth did the same, only aimed at Remus' own bed. It was all over so quickly that Sirius barely had time to blink before Remus was sagging down against his pillows, eyes wet and weary.
“Oh. Oh, Moony, I'm so sorry. You just say the word, and I'll get James for you. I'll-”
“Shut up, Padfoot.”
Knowing Remus' moods even better than he knew James', Sirius clamped his mouth shut, fiddling with Remus' duvet as he waited for the amber-eyed boy to quietly pull himself back together through a series of deep, even breaths.
When he finally did speak, his words made Sirius' mouth drop down just about to his stomach. “You were being deliberately cruel.”
“Me?!” Sirius flung an arm out, pointing through the drawn curtains in the direction of James' bed. “Did you hear him, Moony? Hear what he said? About us? And... and...”
“Yes,” Remus hissed, rolling gingerly over on his side, back to Sirius. “I heard him. I'm not deaf. But you were still egging him on: climbing into my bed, talking about our... our...” Remus waved a lazy hand between them without looking back at Sirius. “You know. What we do.”
Wincing, Sirius crawled up behind Remus, rubbing his arm gently. “Sorry, Rems,” he murmured. “I wasn't thinking.”
“I know,” was Remus' whispered response. “It happens with you.”
Waiting a beat, Sirius watched Remus' body language. His inhalations were stiff, jerky, and his exhalations appeared to be rushed. His entire body was held tight, like he was afraid of moving too much. “'s not a good moon,” Sirius muttered at last, nudging at Remus' arm. “Come on, get on your stomach.” It was the only response he could have, when Remus brought up the Prank. Because Sirius had been wrong, and stupid, and an absolutely horrific human being. So it was all he could do, to offer some physical relief from the pain. It was the best he could do.
With a stifled moan, but no protestations, Remus rolled onto his stomach, face pressed into the pillow and arms at his sides. Sirius reached under the pillow and grabbed some of the medicinal oil they got from Madam Pomfrey for just such occasions, pouring some onto the small of Remus' back. He settled in above Remus – knees straddling Remus' hips, hands splayed out across his back – and began his massage. Remus' soft groans and whimpers were muffled by his pillows, but Sirius had been doing this for Remus long enough to know what areas needed the most attention.
“Thought you were supposed to give me a blow job?” Remus' words were muffled but still audible to Sirius, who let out a barking laugh.
“We can do that too, if you'd like.” His hands slid down the left side of Remus' spine, thumbs digging in at each vertebrate and deftly working their way down.
Remus sighed, lifting his head and popping his neck as he turned to the side. Sirius watched Remus' long eyelashes flutter against his face as he poked and prodded at his back. “Not really in the mood.”
Sirius snorted. “Me neither. Though I suppose having your brother think that Salazar's torture dungeon is too good a place for you tends to kill the mood.”
“I know you said you weren't deaf, Moony, but I'm beginning to doubt that.”
Remus fell silent, and Sirius shifted over to his right side, working his rotary cuff first. “You shoving us in his face isn't helping.”
“I don't care.” Sirius shook his head decisively, dark hair hanging in his eyes as he worked at Remus' shoulder. “I decided it this morning, Moony: I don't care if it just pisses him off more. He's got to get over this himself, because I am not choosing him over you. Not with the way he's been treating you. And me,” Sirius added as an afterthought. Because really, that's what his own feelings in all this were: an afterthought. James was acting like a total arse to him, fine. James had done so before. But James was acting like an arse to Remus, too: who never hurt anyone, who never deserved a single ounce of the tonnes of suffering and sorrow that the world dumped down onto him.
Finishing his massage, Sirius placed a kiss to the back of Remus' neck, before edging down and lying next to him on the bed. Remus turned to face him, a sort of world-weariness filling his eyes. “I still think there's a better way to handle this. James could accept us eventually. Maybe if we pretended to split up for a bit, give him some time to adjust?”
Sirius was already shaking his head before Remus finished, throwing a thigh over Remus'. “No way. We stick together in all this, and we just wait James out. If he doesn't come around eventually, then I don't want him for a brother.”
Remus darted forward and pressed a quick kiss to Sirius' lips, lingering just long enough to touch his tongue to Sirius' in a tiny little reassurance. “You know it shouldn't be a choice, Pads. You should be able to have us both: brother and boyfriend.”“James made it one.” Sirius flicked Remus' wand and turned out the last of the lights that were illuminating their small section of the room, cocooned within blankets and curtains. As Remus fell asleep pressed up against Sirius' chest, Sirius nuzzled his cheek against Remus' hair. It was definitely James who had made it into a choice, who had tried to force Sirius' hand. And until James figured out what a right twat he was being, Sirius was perfectly fine choosing Remus over him.
Sirius' fingers were idly folding paper airplanes as he waited by Remus' side in the hospital wing. The smooth slide of the folded edges beneath his finger pads and his nails calmed him slightly, and gave his twitchy hands something to do other than pick at themselves.
With one completed to his satisfaction – a dozen other rejects tossed into the wastebasket next to Remus' bed – Sirius pulled out his wand and practiced his Wingardium Leviosa on it. He idly trailed the plane around Remus' bed, ducking over and under the posts that held the curtains up. A fond cough interrupted his absentminded spellcasting, drawing his attention to a just-waking Remus on the bed.
With a last flick of his wand, Sirius brought the airplane to rest on Remus' stomach. The bedridden boy picked up the plane and unfolded it, pouting when he saw it was blank. “And here I was,” he croaked, causing Sirius to instinctively reach for a glass of water, “thinking you were sending me love letters.”
Sirius pressed the water into Remus' hands, waiting as the boy drained the whole glass in a few long gulps. He refilled the glass immediately, trying to pass it back to Remus who refused it with a small shake of his head. Sirius placed it on the side table, ready at a moment's notice.
With a seriousness bordering on reverence, Sirius brought a hand up to Remus' forehead. It lingered there for a moment, testing for a temperature, cold sweat, or throbbing veins. Remus waited patiently in his prone position, as he did after every full. Satisfied that Remus was no more ill than usual for this time of the month, Sirius let his hand card back into Remus' hair, separating sweat-clumped locks from each other with gentle diligence.
Remus hummed, closing his eyes as he let Sirius pet him. His Adam’s apple bobbed as he swallowed, and Sirius remained silent, waiting for him to speak. “How'd everything go?”
It was the first thing Remus asked after every full moon. Sirius smiled reassuringly as he lifted the glass of water again and pushed it back into Remus' hands. “Fine. Everything went fine.”
Remus swallowed another half a glass before passing it back to Sirius, who diligently refilled it with the pitcher on the nightstand. All of this routine was no different from how fulls normally went: Sirius fretting over Remus, Remus fretting over everyone else. Normally James and Peter would be there as well, watching the proceedings with rolling eyes and pushing chocolates and exploding snap cards at Remus as they tried to interrupt the cringe-worthy affection between the two canine-inclined boys. Of course, before today no one had ever thought it odd how much Sirius doted on Remus after full moons, and how Remus let him with not even a grimace for all the attention.
Sirius shook his head, glancing away from Remus. “No,” he murmured. “Wormtail came out. Crawled all over Moony's fur. Moony seemed a bit peeved, snapped at him once or twice when he squirmed too close to your ears, but it was fine. We stayed just around the Shack. Didn't want to risk going too far without...” Sirius' voice trailed off as he glanced away from Remus. His hands dropped to the bedsheets, fingers fiddling with each other until Remus laid a gentle hand over them, quieting Sirius' nervous twitching.
“Isn't there a match?” It wasn't exactly a change in subject – more of a gentle suggestion. “Against Slytherin?” Remus pressed, “What time is it?”
Sirius didn't even need to glance at the clock above Madam Pomfrey's workstation to know that the match had already started. He shrugged a shoulder as he moved a hand back to Remus' head, running his fingernails gently over Remus' scalp. His eyes turned to Remus' face as the other's eyes closed, studying his face carefully for any signs of discomfort. Every time a muscle in Remus' jaw relaxed, or a smile tugged at his lips, Sirius' heart leapt, eyes drinking in the sight greedily.
“Doesn't matter,” Sirius finally whispered, hand slipping down to cup Remus' cheek. His thumb moved slowly over Remus' cheekbone, just a faint whisper of motion. Remus' eyes opened, managing to look disappointed with Sirius even lying sick in bed.
“If you had gone to the match, cheered him on...”
Removing his hand from Remus' cheek, Sirius leveled him with a fierce look. “He didn't come out to full. That's way more important than some ruddy Quidditch match.”
Interrupting any argument that might have started between the two of them, Madam Pomfrey bustled over with a sleeping draught and bottle of healing lotion. “Other boys busy this morning?” She asked, even as she encouraged Remus to sit up and swallow the sleeping draught.
Sirius' leg twitched out and kicked at one of the bed's legs. “Quidditch match,” he grumbled.
“Oh, well then,” Madam Pomfrey said, “Mr. Potter can't exactly miss that, being Seeker and Captain and all. And I suppose Mr. Pettigrew's cheering him on.”
Sirius rolled his eyes, picking at his fingers. “Probably wetting himself with the joy of it.”
“Language, Mr. Black.”
Sirius tried shooting Pomfrey a quick version of one of his grins, and it apparently did the trick, because she patted his head consolingly. “It's of course always a delight to see you here looking after your classmate, Mr. Black. Remus is lucky to have a friend like you.”
Sirius and Remus exchanged a quick glance, before Remus spoke up, sleeping draught slurring the edge of his words. “Madam Pomfrey? You wouldn't... James is mad, and...”
The draught was kicking in, and Remus' eyes fell shut before he could even complete the thought. Sirius turned to Pomfrey, taking Remus' limp hand gently in his as he did. “What Remus was trying to say was: James might not be around for a bit. We had a... a bit of a falling out.”
“Boys,” Pomfrey threw up her hands and chuckled. “What was it over? No, wait, let me guess,” her ruby-red lips twitched knowingly, “a lass. Was that it? Was Remus getting too close to that Evans girl? I know Potter's had his eye on her for years.”
Sirius shook his head ruefully, running his fingers in between Remus' over and over again. Feeling Remus' skin move against his was soothing, comforting: even with Remus sound asleep. “Not exactly. It's,” he hesitated, glancing up at Pomfrey. Would she try and separate them, if she knew? Would she force them to sleep in different dorm rooms, or not let Sirius around any more after fulls? But she was so good with Remus being a werewolf, and seemed so understanding about everything else – but then again, so had James.
Sirius decided to take a leap of faith, Pomfrey's bright green eyes encouraging him forward. “It's because James found out Remus and I... we're a bit more than friends. You know?”
When Pomfrey's hand shot up to her mouth, Sirius thought he had just ruined everything, and had a fleeting moment of panic course through him. But then Pomfrey was giggling, and Sirius realized she had covered her mouth because she was smiling. “Oh my word, Sirius. You really know how to upset the family conventions, don't you?” She sighed, glancing at Remus before running a motherly hand through his hair, much like Sirius had earlier. “And Remus: as if he wasn't going to face enough prejudice in life as it was.”
Clutching Remus' hand tighter and pulling it to his chest, Sirius stared fiercely up at Pomfrey. “But he's got me. I'll protect him.”
Madam Pomfrey's smile was warm as she turned to Sirius, patting him lovingly on the cheek. “I'm sure you will, Mr. Black.” She paused, lipstick-covered lips twitching in amusement. “And I'd be lying if I said I had never guessed. You two boys display your affections much more physically and openly than any other teenage boys I've seen in my years here.”
Sirius blushed, glancing down at the soundly-sleeping Remus. “I just... worry. You know.”
“I know,” Pomfrey agreed. In a surprising display of affection that she normally reserved for Remus, the older woman bent down and pressed a kiss to the top of Sirius' head. “I'll just leave him with you, then. I know he'll be in good hands.”
Sirius nodded and stood, helping Pomfrey draw the privacy curtains around Remus' bed. He smiled as he sat back down and propped his feet up on the bed, crossing his ankles as he relaxed. At least he knew that the staff – some of the staff, anyway – wouldn't be horrified with him and Remus. And it didn't look like anyone would be forcing them to move to separate dorms just on principle.
So long as James kept his stupid mouth shut.
Sirius was awoken by the sound of a chair scraping loudly over the Hospital Wing tiles. He jerked to attention, practically falling out of his seat as he swung his head around, looking for the source of the disturbance. His eyes landed on Peter, who was hauling a chair over to the other side of Remus' bed with one arm, the other laden with chocolate frogs.
“Shh!” Sirius hissed. “You're going to wake-”
“Too late,” came Remus' groggy reply. He groaned and stretched on the bed, eyes blinking open as he glanced around his small section of the Hospital Wing. “Hullo, Pete. Those for me?”
Peter nodded even as he dumped the armload of candy and chocolates onto the bed. They tumbled down into the valleys made by Remus' limbs under the covers, coming to rest in different areas on the blankets. Sirius picked a chocolate frog that tumbled down over to him, popping it into his mouth before it had the chance to hop away. Remus himself went for a bar of chocolate, breaking off a corner piece and setting it in his mouth, humming as it slowly melted. Sirius watched fondly. Remus had the most peculiar habits when it came to eating chocolates.
“Gryffindor won,” Peter offered, not really looking at Sirius. “Party back in the common room.”
“Yeah, well,” Sirius grumbled as he picked at a Fizzing Wizzbee, “that's what tends to happen when we win.”
Remus glanced at him as his mouth moved, cheek protruding after he shoved the piece of chocolate in his mouth to the side. “They're going to really notice, now,” he offered, words slightly muffled as he talked around the chocolate.
Sirius shrugged. Peter and Remus were right to mention it: Sirius always was the leader in any celebrations of Gryffindor's dominance. He'd supply the entire house with butterbeer and firewhiskey, shoot off complicated fireworks spells that no one else knew, and generally be the loudest, drunkest, proudest Gryffindor of them all, dancing on tables and howling to the proverbial moon. His absence from the celebration today – especially considering it was a match against Slytherin – would be more than noticeable; it'd be Dumbledore showing up without his beard, or the Sorting Hat absent from the opening ceremony.
“We should head over,” Remus suggested, words clearer now that he had finished his piece of chocolate. “I'm feeling well enough to make it to bed, and you need to put in an appearance.”
“No you're not, and no I don't.” Sirius grimaced and spat into the wastebasket. Bogey flavored jellybean. He had thought it was key lime pie. “Eat your chocolate.”
“Sirius.” Remus' voice was stern, his expression that no-nonsense one he got on only the rare occasion, like when he was reprimanding fourth years. “I'm heading back to the dorms. You can help or not. I've got Pete to help me, after all.”
Sirius grumbled, but stood up, throwing away the rest of his every-flavored beans. Peter scrambled to collect all the chocolates, shoving as much as he could into his robe pockets and holding the rest. Carefully Sirius wrapped an arm under Remus', helping him slide toward the edge of the bed and get his feet under him. “Deep breath,” Sirius murmured, ignoring the eye-roll he was sure Remus was giving him. In a single smooth motion, he lifted Remus to his feet, waiting as the other boy's knees wobbled and shook for a moment before steadying.
“Good?” Sirius ducked his head, looking into Remus' eyes for any signs of pain or discomfort. A small sheen of sweat had broken out on Remus' forehead, but he seemed relatively stable now.
“Fine. Not too bad, honestly.”
Sirius didn't take Remus' word for it, but could tell by the way Remus was holding himself that he'd be all right to make it back to the dorms. Ducking his head again, Sirius pressed a quick kiss to Remus' lips, lingering just long enough for the other boy to kiss back. “Come on,” he murmured, pressing a kiss to Remus' temple before pulling away, “let's get going.”
The first few steps were a challenge, but before they even reached the hospital doors Remus was walking on his own, only keeping a hand at Sirius' elbow for reassurance. As Peter grabbed the door for them, Sirius noticed the way he avoided looking at the two of them.
“Oh, sorry Pete. I didn't think-”
“'s fine.” Peter waved a hand as they started their slow journey down the Hogwart's hallways, keeping close to the walls to avoid over-enthusiastic students running into them. “Still just weird, you know?”
Sirius shrugged, laughing. “Well, I don't really know, since it's not weird for us.”
Peter gagged jokingly, ruffling his blonde hair. “You know, I was actually thinking about it last night-”
“Oi, you hear that, Moony? He was thinking about us snogging last night.”
Remus chuckled as Peter shot them two fingers.
“Thinking about how to explain it, you arse,” Peter continued. “Why it's so weird to see you blokes kissing. And I think I've got it sussed.”
Remus' gaze flickered up from his feet and over to Peter for a moment. “Isn't it just because we're two of your best mates? Seems like that'd be reason enough.” Sirius moved closer to Remus as his steps stuttered, and the injured boy dropped his gaze back down to his feet.
“It's not just that, though,” Peter argued. “At least, I think. I mean, check this: so, it's awkward for any couple, even a guy and a girl, to snog in front of you, yeah?”
Sirius and Remus nodded in agreement. Sirius grinned, leaning past Remus to tease Peter: “That time you and Susan Haxley were going at it in the common room I just about ruined my trainers.”
Again, two fingers came up as Peter shot Sirius a dirty look. He continued relatively unperturbed. “So any couple snogging is awkward, even if it's just a normal guy and girl. But with two guys – or two girls, I guess, though I'd pay good money to see that – you don't ever see it. So it reaches this whole other level of awkward, because it's just weird. Not that,” Peter rushed on to reassure Sirius and Remus, “I think you blokes are weird. I'm never going to understand it myself, but whatever makes you happy is fine by me. Point is, seeing two people kiss: awkward. Seeing two boys kiss, which you never see, ever: more awkward. It's like...” Peter snapped his fingers, “watching a bloke kiss a camel. You just don't ever see it. It looks weird.”
Sirius and Remus exchanged an amused look as they stepped onto a moving staircase with Peter, waiting patiently as it shifted from the floor they were on up to the fourth floor. Sirius turned to Remus, eyebrow quirked. “Correct me if I'm wrong, but I do believe one of us just got compared to a camel, Moony.”
Remus pretended to consider this, wry smile tugging at his lips even as Peter groaned and smacked himself on the forehead behind him. “I imagine it was you, Padfoot old chum. After all, you do have quite the 'hump' obsession.”
The two boys collapsed into snickers as Peter turned red, clutching at his hair with both hands. “I'm trying to have a serious conversation, here!” he shouted as the stairs came to a stop. They stepped off, continuing on to Gryffindor Tower.
Sirius laughed. “We know. We're just taking the mickey.”
Remus nudged Peter's shoulder with his own, even though he winced immediately afterward with the motion. “And it's alright to feel that way. If only everyone was even half as accepting.”
And awkward silence descended over the boys in those last two hallways to their common room, as each considered what the result of James' homophobia might be. Sirius felt a sickening tendril of doubt curling around his heart as a vision of months and years without James in his life stretched before him. Would the Potter's be similarly as bigoted? Where would Sirius live? Remus' family wasn't well-off, nor did they know the nature of their relationship. It was doubtful they'd let a disinherited seventeen-year-old vagabond crash at their place until Sirius found a way to make rent.
Peter gave the password to the Fat Lady, who was already drinking in celebration of Gryffindor's victory. Sirius moved away from Remus as they stepped in, after double-checking to make sure that the other boy was steady enough to make it on his own to the dorm stairs.
Inside, the common room was in an uproar. Butterbeer sloshed freely around as someone set off pre-packaged Zonko's fireworks. Red and gold banners and streamers hung around the room, similarly colored glitter blinding Sirius every few meters as yet another student set off a cracker filled with it.
A drunken Frank Longbottom collapsed into Sirius, who was doing his best to keep the revelers away from Remus and get him up the stairs as quickly as possible. “Jus' in time, Sir-us!” he slurred, dragging a helpless Sirius away from Remus. “Gotta... James. Say you... cong- conr- congr- woo!”
In an instant Sirius found himself being shoved up onto a table with James Potter, who was pumping his broom in the air and giving a drunken account of what must have been the game-winning snitch capture. “Sho, sho then... woosh!” he cackled. “Lucius' face.”
The room fell silent, turning to watch Sirius as he stood on the table, feeling terribly exposed and uncomfortable – for the first time ever – under the careful scrutiny of all those eyes. A shot glass of firewhiskey was pushed into his hands, and Sirius found his arm raising it high automatically, in preparation for a toast.
By now James had stopped trying to recount his heroic Quidditch abilities and was glaring daggers at Sirius, alcohol lowering his instincts for self-preservation. Across the room, Sirius could see Remus and Peter standing just before the stairs to the boys' dorms. Remus' eyes were sad, but pleading: begging him not to make a scene, to just go along with it, to try and talk James down from the inevitable, public fight.
“What're you doin' up here, you fookin'-”
“Toast!” Sirius carefully avoided looking at James as he jerked the firewhiskey glass in his grip, encouraging the rest of the Gryffindor's present to do the same. Mustering up an enthusiasm he in no way felt, Sirius shouted: “To Gryffindor! To Quidditch! And to meeting Slytherin in the finals, with the same result!”
The students roared, fireworks going off and streamers flying every which-way, covering the gathered population from head to toe in red and gold. Throwing back his head, Sirius gulped the firewhiskey. In one motion he jumped off the desk and tossed the glass to a nearby student who didn't look too pissed, then flipped his hair and strode away, pushing through the crowds to the stairwell. Hands seemed to fling themselves out and pat him on the back as he walked, Sirius accepting the praise and returning the cheers with years of practiced ease, autopilot doing all the work for him. Right now his conscious mind was only concerned with two things: getting Remus upstairs to bed, and leaving before James caused a scene.
He reached the stairwell, unrealized held breath escaping his lips as he sidled up to Remus. In such a raucously drunk crowd, a little bit of contact between the two boys would go entirely unnoticed. It was how they had managed to hide their relationship in plain sight for so many years. Hell, they had gotten away with Valentine's Day dates at Hogesmeade before, calling it a “Happy Bachelor's Club”. Peter always had some girl on his arm for the day, and James was always mooning over Lily, so was automatically not invited.
Briefly, Sirius mused that Gryffindors might be bloody brilliant, but were also just a bit dense. He didn't think Remus and his relationship would have stayed secret for so long in Ravenclaw. Or, hell: even Slytherin.
Oh, bollocks. He should have touched wood. Just as Sirius thought he was in the clear, one foot on the bottom step as he turned with Remus to head upstairs, the one Gryffindor with any sort of observational skills appeared to behind him.
“Sirius Black. What exactly is going on between you and Potter?”
Wincing, Sirius turned slowly around. He was met by a pile of red hair and green eyes, pursed lips and hands on hips. “Hey, Evans,” he grumbled.
“Well?” She raised an eyebrow, looking every centimeter the prefect she was. “What is it? Normally you'd be cavorting more drunkenly and loudly than the lot of them, but here you are, slinking away with Remus and Pettigrew.”
Sneering in a way calculated to send Lily off in a huff, Sirius turned up the Black haughtiness. “Boys' business, Evans. You wouldn't understand. Now if you'd just excuse us-”
To his surprise, Sirius found himself stopped by Remus' hand on his elbow. His boyfriend's eyes were shifty, dropping guilty down at the floor as he refused to meet Sirius' eyes. “Lily... kind of already... knows.”
Sirius imagined his prompt imitation of a gaping fish satisfied Lily's sense of superiority immensely. Well, bugger her.
“Listen,” Remus turned to Lily, hand still on Sirius' elbow – though now more for support than to keep Sirius in place. “I need a lie down. Do you mind taking this upstairs? I'm sure Sirius would explain.”
Overprotective instincts kicking in, Sirius nodded in agreement to whatever it was Remus just said. His entire focus was now on getting an increasingly wan-looking Remus up to his bed, maybe with a hot towel on the back of his neck and a nice, medicated back rub.
Which was how Sirius found himself watching Lily sniff disapprovingly at their things, Remus bare-backed beneath him as his hands slid slowly over his moon-tired muscles. “So?” Lily prompted. “What's got Potter looking like he just kissed Severus?”
He felt Remus tense beneath his hands even before he saw the muscles in his back tighten painfully. Patiently, gently, Sirius slid his slicked hands over the smooth skin, kneading and working until they slowly unwound themselves. He shot Lily an accusatory look. Remus didn't deserve to be upset so soon after the full.
“Why're you so interested in Potter, Evans?” Sirius fired back, smirking to himself as Lily blushed hard enough to clash with her hair. “More importantly, what do you think you know about Remus and me?”
Remus' eyelashes fluttered over his cheek where his face was visible in profile against his pillow. “Lily found out last year,” he mumbled. “Valentine's Day.”
Turning his focus to Lily, Sirius frowned as he took in the smug smirk on her face. “I thought there was something up with you two, so I asked Remus out on Valentine's Day as friends. He said you boys had your 'bachelor' get-together that day.” She flipped her hair. “Honestly, Remus: you don't need to be raised a wizard to have heard that excuse before. I suppose you and Sirius are going to be 'flatmates' after Hogwarts? The right girl just never going to come along?”
Sirius dropped his gaze, focusing on shifting his ministrations to Remus' right side. He worked his thumbs down the side of Remus' spine in slow, even movements. “It was the best we could come up with,” he muttered. “Better than stringing some bird along, using her as a cover!”
He could see Lily's dismissive hand-wave in the periphery of his vision. “Granted,” she acknowledged. “But it was still obvious – to me, at least. And I wanted in on it, so I pressured Remus until I got it out of him.” She studied her hands nonchalantly, picking at her dark purple nail polish. “Honestly, I just wanted to get some gossip on you, Black. Every girl my year just goes on and on about how utterly magnificent you'd be in bed, and I wanted to hear Remus' corrections.”
“Moony!” Sirius didn't even pause in his massage, but he pouted down at the boy beneath him. Remus cracked an eye open and smiled apologetically.
“She did get some stuff out of me during rounds. But all good things!”
Lily sighed, disappointment evident. “Sickeningly so,” she grumbled. “It was quite the letdown. I was just sure you'd be all fantasy, no reality, but you seem to be something right, if Remus' incomprehensible devotion to you is any indication.” Before Sirius could figure out how to respond to Lily's left-handed compliment, she plowed right on. “So. Potter. He found out, didn't he?”
Peter piped up from his bed, swinging his legs back and forth over the edge. “We both did,” he supplied. “It was an eventful morning. James went to wake Sirius up, found him and Remus lying together, all loved-up. Sirius was...” Peter flushed, kicking his heels more violently against the side of his bed. “Right up against... Remus was... snuggling. In his arms.” Peter vaguely hugged the air before settling back on his elbows and sighing. “I think it was seeing Remus' bits and Sirius' hands centimeters away that really did James in.”
Lily snorted in a rather un-girly way. Sirius continued to rub Remus' back, sliding down onto Remus' thighs so he could rub his sciatic nerves more easily. They always wound up pinched after fulls – Sirius suspected it had something to do with the way Remus' hips had to swing around to transform into the wolf.
“But that was it?” Lily pressed. “Potter caught you two spooning – naked, apparently –” Peter nodded an affirmation, “and went mad?”
Sirius shrugged as he continued to trace a firm line over the stubborn nerve with his thumbs. “Dunno. First thing I knew Potter was throwing Remus onto the floor and socking me in the jaw.” Sirius allowed his fingers to trail lovingly along Remus' hip for a moment before switching sides again.
“But Petti- sorry, Peter seems fine with it.”
Peter shrugged two meaty shoulders from his place on the bed. “Wasn't exactly my idea of a pleasant morning, seeing my two mates naked and without the width of their short hairs between them,” he mused, “but so long as I don't have to see it again, I don't care. I guess James was just raised different, or something.”
Lily glanced over at Sirius, taking in his position on top of Remus, and Remus' near-nudity beneath him. “But, what about... this, for instance.”
Peter blinked. “What, the massage? Sirius does this after every full.”
“James knows this?” Sirius and Peter glanced between each other, confused. Lily continued after they nodded: “And he never thought this was strange? You never picked up on them being a bit more-than-friends, Peter?”
Peter shrugged, looking ashamed. “It's just... it's how they are. Sirius and Remus. It's how they've been for years.”
“Well,” Remus spoke up, prompting Sirius to glance down at him. He had thought Remus had drifted off already. “We've been together 'for years'. It wasn't like there was a recent, sudden change in our behavior toward each other. And when we were third years and just starting out, no one was really thinking stuff like that, so no one really noticed if we looked at each other different, or touched a little too much.”
Lily rolled her eyes and flipped her hair. “Boys,” she announced to the room at large, as if that explained it all.
Abruptly the door opened, and in stumbled a rather impressively sloshed James. Sirius suspected the drinking had more to do with James' anger with him and Remus than it did any Gryffindor victory, since he normally never got this drunk unless it was over the House Cup. “Oh, look,” he slurred, “the poofters. Given Wormy a show? Gonna... fucking... orgy... thing. With the... cocks.”
Before Sirius could even lift himself off of Remus and crawl back to his own bed, Lily was in front of James, hair flying and eyes blazing. “James Potter!” James' eyes went wide, then gooey, as he registered Lily standing in front of him. “I think it's simply abhorrent the way you're treating your two best friends, just because they fell in love. You should be ashamed.”
James blinked out of sync, then kept one eye closed as he tried to focus on Lily. “But... Lils... we... did you see the Quidditch? I did the Quidditch.”
“You caught the snitch because Lucius was nearly too sick to sit on his broom, much less fly to his full capabilities. If he was, he would have trounced you, since you spent more time glaring at the stands than actually looking for the snitch.”
With those acerbic words, Lily was off in a whirlwind of red hair and green eyes. James was left staring at the space where she was standing, sheer bafflement pervading his features. Meanwhile, Sirius took the moment of confusion to press a quick kiss to Remus' shoulder and slide off him, tip-toeing over to his bed. He didn't even bother getting changed into his pajamas: James would pass out in a matter of minutes, and then Sirius could go through his nightly routine devoid of drunken, homophobic slurs.
Sure enough, one grumbled “poofter” later, and James was snoring into his pillow, glasses pressing into his face and sure to leave deep red lines tomorrow. Sirius chose not to slip them off and move them to James' bedside table as he passed James on his way to the bathroom. When he returned, clad in pajama bottoms and scratching his stomach, Sirius pointedly ignored the snoring berk and went to Remus' bed. He tugged the covers up, tucking them tight under Remus' sides and making sure the other boy was sleeping comfortably. He ran a quick hand through Remus' hair, kissed his forehead, and was back in his bed, trying to sleep away his worries of the day. At least James would have a killer hangover tomorrow.