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In Other Words (I Love You)

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October

When Sirius wakes up the morning after Frank and Alice Longbottom’s wedding, there are several thoughts vying for attention in the early morning fog of his brain. I am never drinking againweddings are utterly insane, and fuck I would kill for cup of coffee right now are discarded, however, when Sirius’s eye lands on five inky-black letters scrawled on his forearm. He rolls onto his back and holds his arm up, peering at his marred skin, smiling in spite of the pounding in his head. A tingling sort of warmth fills his chest and he forgets, for a brief moment, that he’s probably going to be nursing the world’s worst hangover today.

oOo


One shower and two slices of toast later, Sirius phones James, who sounds less than thrilled.

“Moony?” James asks around a yawn. “Is that some weird sex thing? Because you know it’s too early for that sort of—”

“It’s not a sex thing, you pervert. I met him last night at the wedding.” Sirius rolls his eyes and blows at the steam rising from his cup of coffee.

There is a sigh and then, “Well, that’s great, Sirius. I’m happy for you, but why are you calling me? Haven’t you got him all trussed up in your bed or something?”

Sirius rubs at his temples, still throbbing a little from the previous night’s overindulgence, and says, “No, that’s the thing…”

He’s been trying like hell all morning to remember, but memories from the night before are harder to hold onto than the best dream. He remembers the sound of laughter. Warm brown eyes lighting up with amusement as they regarded Sirius over a glass of champagne. And dancing. Fingers wrapping around Sirius’s wrist and toying at the end of his shirt when they swayed together. The taste of chocolate when they kissed. 

Thinking, insanely, that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with this person. Insane because, fuck they’d only just met. Except, not quite so mad, because nothing—nothing—had ever felt so right before.

Sighing into the receiver, Sirius says, “He’s not here. He didn’t come home with me last night.”

James is silent for a long moment and Sirius wonders briefly if he has fallen back asleep before he says, “Sirius, I still don’t understand why you’re calling me.” Except he sounds more resigned than confused because, after almost two decades of friendship, James knows by now that Sirius has something up his sleeve and he is going along for the ride whether he likes it or not.

“You have to help me find him.”

oOo


“This is mad you know,” James grumbles for the third time as they sit, squashed together on James’s sofa, James’s laptop open to Facebook which is littered with photos from the night before. James cards a hand through his hair which is even more unruly than usual today, as if protesting being bothered so early on a Sunday by idiot friends who get too drunk to remember meeting the person who may end up being the love of their life by defying gravity in a most aggravated manner.

“Stop complaining,” Sirius says as he jabs the arrow to bring up the next picture. Sirius had brought a box of pastries from the shop near his flat as recompense, but both James and his hair were unimpressed by the offering, so Sirius has stopped pretending to be sorry for bothering his equally hungover best mate and focuses on his task. “You’re my friend, you’re honor bound to help me.” 

James makes a noise that might be acceptance or disgust that Sirius ignores. He’d filled James in on as many details as he could remember (jotted down helpfully in a small notebook) but there is frustratingly little to go on. Sirius can drink with the best of them but he’d gone way overboard last night. They all had. Frank and Alice had wanted to get married before they hopped on a boat to sail to the Antarctic to study penguins—fucking penguins—for two years and it was as much of a good-bye party as it was a wedding.

As if that were not enough, Alice had wanted a Halloween-themed wedding, what with it being so close to the end of October, and all the guests had been in costume. At the time, it had been a blast (Sirius’s Robin Hood costume had been quite the hit) but now it is more of a hindrance as they click through picture after picture of costumed guests. The only thing Sirius remembers about “Moony’s” costume is fur. Something furry. He’d actually thought James might hit him when he told him that bit—as if forcing him to help Sirius find a furry bloke named Moony instead of sleeping off his hangover was the worst offence.

They click through pictures in silence, pausing to snort or laugh at one ridiculous costume or another and to save a picture of Peter in full rat regalia to for future blackmail purposes. After thirty minutes they’ve had zero success but quite a lot of blackmail material, so it is not a complete waste. Still, Sirius is starting to feel anxious as happy faces fly by and nothing sparks a memory.

“What are you two doing?” 

Sirius turns to see Lily standing at the foot of the stairs wrapped in a bathrobe looking pale, glitter still stiff in her hair, making it look like James’s evil, albeit fabulous twin. She comes up behind them to peer at the laptop curiously. 

He says, “Research,” as James says, “Looking for Sirius’s soulmate.”

It is a testament to the number of ridiculous things Lily has borne witness to since she’s known the both of them that she does not question this. Only drops a kiss on James’s head and shuffles into the kitchen. The smell of coffee brewing wafts through a few minutes later and Sirius spares a moment to be very glad she married James.

“Sirius, are you sure he was wearing something—“

“Wait!” Sirius grabs James’s wrist and clicks back when something familiar flashes past. “There! That’s him!” Sirius says excitedly, pointing to a figure standing behind a beaming couple he does not recognize. The man is wearing a rather ordinary grey suit but there is a furry hood framing his face with equally furry ears attached. It drapes down his torso like a scarf and attached at the ends are paws that he has slipped his hands into like pockets. 

He’s quite a ways back and his head is turned, looking at something in the distance, but he is smiling and a memory slams into Sirius quite suddenly.

“Let me guess,” Sirius asks, pulling on one tuft ear. “You’re a high-powered businessman who eats his competition for breakfast?”

The man laughs, a low, rich sound that sends a shiver down Sirius’s spine, and he regards Sirius curiously with a tilt of his head. “Are you going to steal my money and give it to some orphans if I am?”

Sirius grins and crosses his arms, meeting the man’s eyes. “I may. If you’re a bad sort of businessman. You’re not, are you?”

“Oh, definitely not,” the man says earnestly. “I only eat the really tasty ones.”

That startles a laugh out of Sirius before he can help it. “Well can’t fault a man for that,” he says and then holds out his hand. “I’m Sirius.”

The man hesitates for a second before grasping Sirius’s hand in return. “Moony.”

“Really?” Sirius asks. They don’t let go and they don’t look away, but neither of them seem particularly bothered by this. “What sort of name is Moony?”

‘Moony’ finally lets go and gives him a mysterious smile. “The only sort I’m going to give you. Can’t have you tracking me down and stealing my riches after all.”


James squints and leans a bit closer, studying the photo intently. “I don’t recognize him. Don’t think he’s one of Frank’s friends.” James has known Frank since they were practically toddlers, their families going way back. “He’s not tagged either.”

“Fuck,” Sirius mutters. He takes the laptop as James gets up and wanders into the kitchen and begins reading the comments. They’re useless. Just annoying chatter about the girl’s make up. Nothing helpful like the man’s name or phone number, although Sirius admits that would probably have been too much to hope for. He saves the picture and continues tabbing over to new photos, frequently checking the home page to see if any new pictures have been uploaded.

A few minutes later, James and Lily come back into the room bearing coffee and pastries and Sirius has run out of pictures. He is just considering going onto Frank’s or Alice’s page and searching through their list of friends when Lily plucks the computer from his lap. “So, where’s the picture of this moon fellow?”

She sounds annoyingly perky for someone who looked like the hungover Bride of Frankenstein just a few minutes ago. “I saved it…there.” Sirius points to the folder labeled “Sirius’s soulmate” James had helpfully created.

Lily brings up the picture and giggles, “Oh my god, Shelly’s makeup!”

“Lily, focus!” Sirius says.

“Sorry,” she says, but doesn’t really sound it, and then she makes a clicking noise with her tongue. She hands the laptop back. “Sorry, Sirius. I remember seeing him last night but I didn’t talk to him.”

Sirius rubs his eyes tiredly and leans back into the cushions with a groan. “Maybe I’ll call Frank, see if he remembers…”

“No,” James and Lily say together and Sirius stares.

“Why not?”

Lily gives him an incredulous look over the rim of her cup. “They’re on their honeymoon!”

Sirius scoffs. “Please, they are not on a honeymoon. They’re on a boat going to look at some pigeons that don’t have the decency to live somewhere warmer.”

“Sirius, they just got married. They don’t want to be bothered,” James says like he’s talking to a child.

“We are talking about the love of my life here!” Sirius reminds them, feeling justifiably melodramatic. “I think they’d understand, all things considered.”

James and Lily share a look that Sirius does not like. Not one bit. He braces himself for the lecture.

“Sirius,” Lily says gently. “You’re awfully worked up over someone you’ve only just met. You can’t have even spent that much time with him. The reception was what? Three, maybe four hours? And then we hit the pub by Peter’s before we all went home.”

James says, “Yeah, I mean, we all had a good time last night. And anyway, weddings, you know? Emotions are running high and everyone thinks they’re in love.”

“We’re just saying maybe you should give it a day or two.”

“Think things through before you go stalking some bloke.” 

They’ve got the double-team act down to an art, Sirius thinks bitterly. Heaven help their children. And anyway, they don’t understand. James and Lily have each other. They’ve been together for years. They’re so stupid in love it’s actually kind of embarrassing to be seen with them in public. They’re perfect together and they’re happy and God help him, Sirius wants that.

Sure, he’d been fine with the bachelor life for years. Reveled in it even. Going out with whomever he pleased, whenever he pleased. Taking them home and not feeling the least bit sorry when they were gone the next morning. No commitments. Just no-strings-attached good fun.

And that was fine for a while. It was all he needed to get by. But it’s not enough anymore. His twenty-sixth birthday came and went in January. James and Lily were talking about trying for a baby. Peter was getting serious with a girl from his office. Frank and Alice’s wedding invitation came in the mail last spring. And here he is…still alone. 

He’s sick of being alone. Everyone has told him at least once that all he needs is the right person to come along and he’ll change his mind about the single life. Well now the right person has and he’ll be damned if he lets this chance slip by him. 

“I’m not going to stalk him,” Sirius says, thinking James has zero room to talk considering how obsessed he got when he first met Lily at university. I’m in love I tell you. Love. Oh, God…kill me, had been his exact words before he’d run off to be sick in a nearby bush. Sirius has never mentioned this to anyone and he’d really hate to have to use it as ammunition now, but it’s comforting to know it’s there if he needs it. Sirius continues, “Look, ‘Moony’ and I, we clicked or something last night. I don’t know, I just really just want to get to know him better. That’s all.”

The look he gets from them now is far more sad and sympathetic, but that is somehow worse. He doesn’t want their pity. He just needs their help.

Lily says, reasonably, “At least give it a week before you call Frank, or email him, whatever. I promise you, right now, they don’t want to be disturbed. You can wait a week, can’t you?”

A week. Yeah. Sirius can wait a week. He nods. “Yeah, alright.” And with that he picks up the computer again and sends a copy of the picture to his email before clicking on the ‘friends’ link on Frank’s page.

oOo


As he promised, Sirius waits a full week before contacting Frank. During that week, however, he continues to scour online for any traces of the mysterious Moony. He has little success. In fact, he has no success. Aside from the one picture, Sirius has been unable to find any trace of the man. No one resembling him is friends with Frank or Alice or any of their guests that he’s been able to determine, and with so little information to go on, Sirius’s nightly searches end frustratingly quickly.

He and Frank are not particularly good friends. That’s not to say they don’t get along. They do. But Sirius only really knows him through James and they certainly don’t have a just-called-you-up-to-see-how-things-were-going friendship. So when he does call he is disappointed, but unsurprised, when it goes directly to voicemail. Now that he thinks about it, he isn’t even sure where in the world Frank is and if he’s even capable of getting cellphone reception.

Sirius debates looking him up on Skype before deciding to just send an email. But now that he is sitting there, fingertips at the ready, he is not exactly sure what to say.“Heya Frank! Bitching wedding you had. Hope the penguins aren’t giving you too much trouble. By the way, I might have fallen a bit in love with someone at your wedding whose name I do not know. Crazy, right? Can you help a bloke out?” It sounds ridiculous, even to him.

Suddenly he feels rather foolish, obsessing over this man like has been. His friends have indulged his whimsy to a certain extent, but looked at from someone who doesn’tknow him, it might not look completely…well, sane. 

A harsh reality lands on Sirius suddenly as he takes this all in. What if this man wants nothing to do with him? Sirius had felt a spark of something huge, something significant, that he’d never felt with anyone else before, but what if that feeling had not been mutual? Or what if ‘Moony’ was already seeing someone? Is that why he’d given Sirius a fake name? And even if he was single, if he’d been interested, he knew Sirius’s name. He could find Sirius if he wanted much easier than Sirius could find him, surely.

Before he realizes what he is doing, Sirius is pulling on his coat and shoes and stepping into the crisp October air. He has no destination in mind. He just needs to take a walk. To clear his mind.

He navigates the busy London street outside his door with ease, his nerves calming slightly as he loses himself in the crowd, and he gives his actions over the last week a hard look. Okay, maybe he has been acting a bit…obsessed. He’s a passionate man after all. He tries to decide if that’s a bad thing but comes up with nothing. 

He exhales long and low. He’d liked the man. A lot. He thinks ‘Moony’ had liked him too. So what was the harm? Unless Sirius had misread his signals. Had he mistaken the cryptic answers to his questions as flirting? Sirius shakes his head; no, there had definitely been a playful lilt to the man’s voice when he’d said “Moony”. 

Lost in thought, Sirius’s feet have carried him to a small pub a few streets from where he lives. It’s more of a lounge than a pub, really. The owners Glenn and Ella had been jazz musicians ‘back when Sirius was hardly a glimmer in his father’s eye’ and held a lasting fondness for swing era music. The place was downright swanky; Dean Martin and his like would have been right at home here. Sirius actually prefers it to his usual haunts when he’s on his own, finding the relaxed crowd and golden-age atmosphere comfortable.

He takes a seat at the bar and a glass of something tall and very welcome appears suddenly in front of him. Glancing up, Sirius catches the eye of the owner and barmaid Ella and they share a smile.

“Love or money?” she asks without preamble.

Sirius cocks his head. “What?”

“Mr. Black, I have been doing this a very long time. I’ve seen more men wearing that look drown their sorrows than I care to think about,” Ella says, leaning onto the glossy bar-top and leveling a meaningful look at Sirius, but her blue eyes are kind. Thoughtful and searching. Like she really cares about Sirius’s stupid problems. 

So he lets out a little sigh and says, “Love I suppose.” He takes a deep drink from the glass, feeling pathetic. It’s not like he’s been dumped or anything. Why is he moping? 

Ella only nods. “What happened?”

Sirius does not know quite how to explain. I got drunk and met the perfect man only to wake up with a fake name and handful of memories is probably too much to admit to, so he simply says, “I just don’t think…they know I exist.”

He is a little surprised to hear Ella chuckling. “Mr. Black, if I wasn’t still in love with my husband after forty-two years, I’d have said yes to running off with you ages ago,” she says with genuine fondness. “Trust me. He knows you exist.”

He is completely unsurprised she saw through his poor attempt to remain discreet about the gender of the person in question. Ella is sharp like that. Sirius continues without prompting. “I dunno. It wasn’t the most…conventional of meetings. I’m starting to think maybe it was all one-sided.”

“Ask yourself this,” Ella says and leans a bit closer over the bar, her blue eyes boring into his. “Could you live with yourself if you never found out?”

Sirius only shrugs and he hears Ella mutter something about “young people” before she places a small tumbler in front of him and fills it with whisky. 

“You think about that,” she orders and moves to help the two new patrons who’ve just walked in.

The whisky goes down smooth, sending a quick rush of warmth straight to Sirius’s toes. He swivels on his stool to watch the other patrons mingling around the dance floor; it’s still too early for much dancing, but there are a few couples who don’t give a damn twirling around the floor without a care in the world. He watches an older couple swaying slowly despite the relative upbeat tempo of the song that Sirius recognizes with a jolt.

”Someday,” Sirius croons, bending slightly so he is singing just in the man’s ear as they dance. “When I’m awfully low.”

Moony is giving him the mother of all incredulous looks. “Sirius?”

“When the world is cold.” He slides his hand down to the small of the other man’s back, pulling him closer so they’re flushed together, chest to chest, hip to hip. “I will feel a glow just thinking ooooooof you.”

“Oh my God, you’re really doing this,” Sirius hears him say with something like mortification coloring the edges of his voice. And if he were not quite so drunk, he might have the decency to be embarrassed because what the hell is he actually doing anyway? But he cannot stop. It had seemed like a good idea when he started and he has had enough champagne that it still seems like a good idea.

“And the way you look tonight,” Sirius sings, releasing Moony for just a moment and giving a slight tug on the wolf hood.

“Do not quit your day job,” Moony says with complete sincerity, shaking his head, but Sirius can see he is smiling. Sirius’s response is to twirl the man in his arms out then in again quickly before dipping him gently to the floor in one graceful movement. The look Moony is giving him now is all at once fond amusement and put-upon annoyance. As if he has known Sirius all his life and he ought to have expected such theatrics from him. “Okay, you dance well. I’ll give you that.”

Sirius eases him back up and they continue to sway slowly to the music, ignoring the looks they’re getting from the other guests. He gives a casual shrug. “Mother insisted on lessons when we were younger.” Moony does not comment further nor ask who ‘we’ entails exactly so Sirius continues. “You’re not bad yourself,” he remarks, noticing the man has not trodden on his toes once and is keeping up with every one of Sirius’s steps.

“Oh, I’ve taken a few classes myself,” Moony says offhandedly. “It helps with work to know my way around a dance floor.”

“And what sort of work might that be?” Sirius asks, jumping at the opening.

Moony gives him a coy smile and says, “Ah, now that would be telling.”

He is not entirely sure but Sirius thinks this man is playing hard to get. Pulling him close once more, Sirius ducks his head and hums along to the music for a moment, his lips ghosting over the shell of one ear before beginning to sing again. “Yes you’re lovely. Never ever change. Keep that breathless charm—”

“I will not tell you no matter how long you torture me,” Moony jokes but Sirius feels the hand on his waist tighten and fancies he hears the other man’s breath hitch slightly as he says it. 

Sirius grins. He likes a challenge.


The old couple is still swaying when Sirius’s thoughts return to the present. He lifts his glass and toasts them before draining the last of his drink as they carry on, completely oblivious to the world around them. He drops a generous amount of bills next to the now empty glasses and pulls his coat more tightly around him, preparing to step back into the cold.

“Leaving so soon, Mr. Black?” Ella calls after him.

Sirius only blows her a kiss as he exits the bar, but he catches her smiling before the door swings shut. It’s been a week and he has an email to write.

oOo


Two days later Sirius has not received a reply. He does not worry. James and Lily were probably right, even though he wouldn’t admit it even on pain of death. The newlyweds were still caught up in their honeymoon. Sirius sighs and clicks off his inbox. He can wait a little longer. 

oOo


November

“Maybe you should hang up posters,” Peter says as their waiter brings their lunch, “with his picture and big bold letters that say: HAVE YOU SEEN THIS WOLF?”

Sirius does not immediately reject the idea, which speaks volumes about how hopeless he’s become in his search for Moony. It has been three weeks since he sent the picture off, asking politely if Frank or Alice could tell him who the man was. Three long weeks and nothing. Penguins are really not that interesting.

“Haven’t had much time for him anyway,” Sirius says, trying for careless. “Work is murder these days.”

This is absolutely true incidentally. If asked, Sirius would tell people he’d always had a passion for art; he’d caused quite the upset when he’d decided to pursue it as a career. At first he’d done it as a final “fuck you” to dear old mum and dad when he’d went off to the university of his choice to pursue whatever the fuck he wanted. 

But as it turned out, you couldn’t quite take the Black out of the man; because while he enjoyed making his own pieces and occasionally took commissions, he found himself drawn more to the business side of the art world. He had a shrewd eye for what would sell and what wouldn’t, rather impeccable taste, and a sharp mind for marketing. He’d been snatched up quickly by one of the largest art dealers in London shortly after finishing school. It wasn’t quite what he’d expected when he’d told the admissions lady he’d be focusing on art and art history, but it was worlds better than investment banking. 

Currently, his employers were trying to kill him with work but the holiday season was in in full-swing; people wanted consultations on gifts, winter galas and balls were fast approaching, and there was always spring to look forward to. He was feeling a bit run ragged truth be told, but it kept him from dwelling too much on his absent Moony, so he could not complain too much.

“Yeah, I suppose not,” Peter says. “Olivia is really looking forward to the Yule Ball by the way. Thanks for the tickets.”

Sirius waves his hand absently. “It’s nothing.”

“Er, you and James and Lily will be going to that one too, right?”

“Yeah. Sure, I’ll be thoroughly sick of parties by then, but they’re showcasing a lot of our new artists and they’ll want me there.”

“That’s good I…” Peter trails off for a moment looking unsure before he blurts, “I’m planning on asking Olivia to marry me.”

Sirius’s head snaps up so fast he gets vertigo. He’d known Peter was getting serious about this girl. They’d moved in together over the summer after all, but he is surprised all the same. “That’s…that’s great, man. She’s a nice girl.”

Peter visibly relaxes at Sirius’s words. “I didn’t know if I should tell you with your—uh—thing with this bloke and well…”

He still looks anxious, like he expects Sirius to berate him or accuse him of some type of betrayal. “You don’t need my permission, Pete, for God’s sake.”

“Yeah, I know but, well, I didn’t want to…rub it in or anything, especially after James told us Lily was pregnant, but I wanted you all to be there when I pop the question.”

Despite his best efforts to appear apologetic, Sirius actually does feel a little betrayed. Everyone—bloody everyone—is falling in love and getting married and all he has are scattered memories of a man he can’t find. It’s just not fair. He gives himself a mental shake. It’s not fair but it’s also not fair to be mad at Peter for it. 

“You’re not rubbing anything in,” Sirius says, smiling as he signals the waiter. “Can we get two glasses of champagne? To hell with it, bring us a whole bottle, my friend is getting married!”

Peter is bright red. “Don’t jinx it! She hasn’t said yes or anything.”

“She will,” Sirius says as the waiter hurries off. Fate, it seems, is determined to surround him with people who are happy and in love. “Of course she will.”

oOo


December

The Yule Ball is probably the biggest, most spectacular event of the whole Christmas season. Certainly, it is the biggest event of the art community. There are dozens upon dozens of artists, musicians, fashion designers, and photographers mingling with wealthy patrons, press people, and other agencies. It feels more like a cut-throat reality television show than a celebration in all honesty. Sirius has been there for two hours and he’s already gone through all of his business cards and has had to text his information to the last three people.

A waiter floats past him with a tray of drinks and Sirius snags one without hesitation, making his way to where his friends are standing together around a painting of some people who are very tragically naked.

“Anatomy lesson?” he asks when he reaches them, and he almost winces when he takes the piece in. He thinks the artist was going for ‘bold’ and ‘innovative’ and ‘in your face’ but Sirius thinks there are several things that are just too ‘in your face’ for his liking. 

“Will someone actually bid on this?” Lily asks looking a little green, but then she’s always a little green these days. He does not envy James dealing with her ‘morning sickness’ one bit. James, Peter, and Peter’s girlfriend Olivia are also looking uneasily at the painting—though Sirius doubts it is the reason sweat is beading across Peter’s brow just at the moment. 

Sirius nods. “Yes, I think so,” he says thinking of the many dark nightclubs blaring loud music and full of smoke and flashing lights. Or of bored, wealthy housewives who want something shocking for their dinner parties. 

“Are you alright, man? You’re looking kind of…” James makes a waving hand gesture at him, trailing off. 

He’s fucking tired actually. The week leading up to the ball had been one meeting after another, both on the phone and in person. Meeting new clients, touching bases with old clients, meeting with his boss and getting yelled at for one thing or another. That had actually been his last several weeks if he thought about it and Sirius is beat. After tonight he was going to curl up in bed and sleep for a month. 

“I’m all right,” he says instead but he doesn’t think they buy it. 

“Still on for Christmas Eve? Mum won’t hear you’re not coming,” James says, not pursuing the issue, and Sirius actually smiles. Mrs. Potter is the possibly the nicest, coolest woman ever, and he knows she is inviting him because he’s ‘family’ and not just because he would otherwise be spending Christmas Eve alone. 

“Wouldn’t miss it.”

They linger for a bit before Lily excuses herself to the restroom, Olivia in tow. Peter watches them leave looking anxious and just as likely to be sick as Lily did. Sirius claps him on the shoulder.

“Relax. It’s going to be fine. Didn’t forget the ring did you?”

“Ring?” Peter squeaks and goes, if it is possible, even paler, patting his pockets frantically before pulling a small black box from his coat and visibly relaxing. It’s the second time he’s fallen for that and Sirius still thinks it’s hilarious. 

“You’re going to do it during the fireworks?” James asks, plucking the box from Peter’s hands and studying the small diamond band inside.

Peter takes it back and returns the box to his pocket looking thoughtful. “Yeah, I think so. I wasn’t sure if…”

Sirius tunes them out, realizing there will be another wedding to attend very soon and thinking about the last one he’d been to. Frank had never replied to Sirius’s email. Sirius had even called him once but there had been no answer. He hasn’t really had time to think much about his own love life, or lack thereof, these days anyway, though he isn’t sure that is because he’s been so busy with work or because he threw himself into work to forget.

“You sure you’re all right?” James says, waving a hand in front of his eyes, and Sirius blinks, realizing they’ve been saying his name for the last few seconds.

“Just tired I guess,” Sirius admits, scrubbing a hand over his face. 

James pulls on his sleeve, directing him towards the main ballroom with its many tables framing the dance floor. “C’mon, we got a table, you should eat something.”

Sirius nods automatically but he pulls away. “I should do a few more rounds. I’ll stop by in a bit,” he says, and wanders off in the direction of a likely looking patron, missing the twin looks of concern his friends give him as he departs.

oOo


Almost another hour later, Sirius falls into a chair next to James and immediately snatches up one of their glasses, tipping it back and swallowing the contents without hesitation.

“Oh, hello, Sirius. Lovely to see you again,” James says conversationally. “We were just wondering where you were.”

“Oh, you know…business,” is all Sirius says. “Where’s Pete?”

“Dancing with Olivia,” Lily says, handing him a plate of food.

He eats without tasting, listening to snatches of the conversation between his friends, wondering how much longer before he can go home. A waiter comes around to refill their drinks and to drop off several slices of chocolate cake.

Lily makes a small moan of delight. “Oh this is good,” she says after another forkful. “Not as good as what Alice had for the wedding, but still good.” 

“You can’t go wrong with chocolate,” James agrees, tasting his own piece.

Something lurches in Sirius’s stomach that has nothing to do with the food he’s just swallowed. “What was that?” he asks suddenly.

James gives him a funny look. “Said you can’t go wrong with chocolate.”

“It’s almost impossible to do chocolate badly. Sells itself really.”

“The cake,” Sirius says quietly, gripping James tightly around the wrist and staring into his friend’s eyes like the answer to life, the universe, and everything is just behind those square glasses.

For his part, James looks mildly nervous and says, “Er…yeah, could you let go? That hurts a bit.”

“The cake!” Sirius says again, louder, and something like excitement is welling up inside him so quickly he could float away if there was a strong breeze. “Moony! The fucking cake!”

James and Lily share a confused look. “Have you lost it, mate? Is this sleep deprivation or something?”

The groan that escapes him would be embarrassing—should be embarrassing—but Sirius is having a hard time caring just now. Lifting another forkful of something chocolate and divine to his lips, Sirius says, “This is fantastic. And I’m not just saying that.”

Moony’s face is completely blank as he watches Sirius, but there is no mistaking the way his pupils flare when Sirius licks frosting from the tip of his fork. The corners of Moony’s lips twitch. “Of course you’re not.”


Giving James a shake Sirius says, “That’s why he wasn’t in any pictures! It makes perfect sense!”

“Lil?” James asks, looking panicked. 

Lily shakes her head, “No clue, dear.”

“Yes! I remember!” Sirius releases his friend and presses his fists to his eyes, as if trying to keep the fuzzy memory from dissipating. “He couldn’t tell me how he knew Frank and Alice, from school or work or family...”

“So you’re gate crashing then? Sneaking into receptions to prey upon weak and gullible wedding guests such as myself?”

“You are hardly weak or gullible.” Moony bites his lip, looking uncertain, then says, “If you must know…” 

“Oh, I’m afraid I must.”

The words tickle his hear as Moony leans in to whisper, “I made the cake.”

 

oOo


All plans of sleeping once he gets home are shoved aside. The second he is in the door he is sprinting up the stairs to his computer, James, Lily, Peter, and Olivia following him. After two months, he is one enormous step closer to finding Moony, and his friends told him there was no way they were missing that; even Peter and Olivia (sporting a new diamond ring) were excited and eager to help. 

“Try ‘wedding cakes’ and ‘London’,” Lily says when Sirius has brought up the search engine. She has her mobile phone out and is tapping away with her fingers.

“What’s your Wi-Fi password?” Peter asks, looking at his own phone. James takes the phone and helps him while Sirius clicks through the results on his screen.

There are so many. There is no way they can find him like this. Sirius chews on his bottom lip and thinks. He is sure that the man had been dropping him hints the whole night. He’d wanted Sirius to find him. He’d set up a game of chase and if Sirius just thought about it…

“I probably shouldn’t,” Moony says, eyeing the feather quill Sirius is holding out to him. “The guest book is for guests.”

“Hey, they insisted you stay, didn’t they? Said they wanted to thank you for coming through for them last minute? That makes you a guest.”

Moony looks torn for a second before taking the quill and dipping it into the black ink. Sirius watches him write in the ancient looking tome serving as a guestbook. Orange light from the dripping white candles nearby turn his hair a burnt, coppery color and Sirius becomes a bit enchanted with the way it falls into his eyes as he writes. Eventually he places the quill back into its pot of ink and he blows on the shiny inscription he’s left.

“There,” he says, straightening. “Happy?”

“Yes,” Sirius says, reading over his shoulder. 

 

Love is all you need. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt. 
Sweetest wishes for a happy marriage.


Beneath the message in place of a signature is a tiny crescent moon.


Sirius smiles, remembering the little crescent moon and all the other hints he’d been given that night. He alters his search slightly and hits go. His heart stops.

“Guys…”

He feels his friends come up behind him. The list of results is significantly shorter. There is only one result actually and he thinks there is a manic laughter building in his throat as he reads the name because this is just too perfect.

He clicks on the link to the website. A picture comes up of a small shop with wide, glossy windows, beyond which he can see an assortment of delicious looking cakes and pastries. On the window, in large letters are the words: 

Blue Moon Bakery and Cafe
Weddings - Birthdays - Special Occasions


Beneath this is the image of a wolf howling, silhouetted by the full moon behind it. 

oOo


“Sirius.”

James’s hand on his shoulder stops him just as they approach Blue Moon Bakery, which looks even more warm and inviting than it did in the photos and smells utterly fantastic in the frigid December air. James pulls them out of the way of harried looking Christmas shoppers and into an out-of-the-way alcove.

“James?” Sirius asks, when his friend does nothing but stare at him. “Are you…do you not want to come in with me anymore? Because you’re the one who insisted on tagging along.”

“No, I just wanted to say…look, I know you’re”—James makes a waving gesture at him—“you’re looking for something. I’m not stupid, you know. I’m your best friend.”

“Mate, if this is your last-ditch attempt to confess your secret, undying love for me just spit it out already. I promise I will only laugh a little bit before letting you down gently,” Sirius assures him.

“Keep dreaming, Black,” James says, lips quirking into half a smile before he turns serious again. “Do you suppose you don’t, I dunno, have some sort of…idea about this guy? Like maybe he’s not ‘the one’ but you want him to be?”

“Oh my God, are we really having this conversation? Have you actually grown a vagina? Is that what happens when—”

James kicks him in the shin. “I’m being serious!”

Because he is a good friend, Sirius does not go for the obvious joke. Instead, he holds his hands up in an I-surrender-please-tell-me-more-about-your-girlish-feelings-so-we-can-go-back-to-my-place-and-make-fat-free-popcorn-and-complain-about-our-periods gesture and waits.

Huffing, James says, “I just don’t want you to be disappointed if this guy isn’t what you think he is.”

Sirius knows this is a possibility. That perhaps he’s built Moony up in his head, expects too much from him, and that James (for all his ridiculous talk about feelings) has a very good point. He also knows he cannot stand to not find out. So he gives James his best reassuring smile and says, “I know what I’m doing.”

James quirks a brow at him, perhaps because every time Sirius has said that, it has resulted in one or both of them landing into spectacular trouble, but he does not argue. He only nods and leads them back into the bustling street in front of the shop. Through the window they can see several men and women and children enjoying warm drinks or else cooing over the display of cakes and pastries, all being helped by employees in blue aprons. Sirius can practically feel James’s eyes on him so he rolls his shoulders, steeling his nerves, and walks inside. 

oOo


It’s warm inside and it smells absolutely delightful. Sirius inhales deeply, filling his lungs with the rich, sweet aroma of freshly made cakes and pastries and coffee. If he weren’t here on important business Sirius would love to take the time to look around and sample the merchandise. But as it is, he is here on important business, so he weaves his way politely through the small crowd of patrons and tries to quell the nervous feeling that has made his stomach clench and his fingers tingle.

Out of the corner of his eye, he sees James wander off to another side of the shop. Divide and conquer. He’s always liked the way James thinks. He spends several minutes scanning the shop for a hint of a Moony-shaped person, but soon the nervousness begins making way for tentative disappointment. He isn’t here.

“Can I help you with something?” Sirius turns to see a woman with shockingly pink hair watching him. She is standing behind the counter, away from the other employees, her hand poised over a notebook full of what looks like figures. Her apron is covered in white powder and dark smudges and she looks bone-tired but her eyes light up when she gets a good look at his face.

“You!” she says, her mouth dropping open in surprise. “Oh my God, it’s you!”

Confused, Sirius glances over his shoulder before turning back. “Um…I’m sorry. What?”

“You’re the guy! The guy Remus met in October, aren’t you?”

Remus? Is that Moony’s name? 

“Remus,” he says slowly, tasting the name on his tongue and finding he likes it very much. He gives her a quizzical look. “October?”

“Yes! You’re him aren’t you? The bloke he met at the wedding? You were…” she brings her hands to her head, scrunching her nose as she thinks. “Batman?”

“Robin Hood,” Sirius says without thinking and she nods vigorously.

“Right! Oh my God, it’s really you. Isn’t it? What are you doing here? Are you”—she gives him a salacious grin—“are you looking for him?”

Sirius is still incredibly confused, but he seems to have found Moony at last. Whatever happened that night, Sirius must have made some kind of impression if Moony—Remus—has been talking to his co-workers about it. He offers his most winning grin in return. “Yes, as a matter of fact I am. Is he around?”

Her smile fades a fraction. “Oh, no, you’ve missed him actually. He left for the McKinnon wedding about thirty minutes ago.” 

“Oh,” Sirius says, and he slumps a little against the counter. “You don’t suppose he’ll be back soon.” 

She shakes her head. “No, it’s been sort of a mad house around here what with Emmeline quitting and Teddy being sick and he’s had to make all the deliveries himself,” she says, frowning thoughtfully. 

“Oh,” Sirius says again.

“But…” she begins, trailing off a little. She gives him an appraising look and Sirius feels suddenly like he’s being put under a microscope. 

He steps closer. “Yes?”

“You could probably still catch him at the wedding if you hurry.” 

oOo


“You could have just gone back another day,” James grumbles from the passenger seat of his own car. 

Sirius takes his eyes off the road to spare his friend a brief look of surprise. “Where has your sense of adventure gone? Or does Lily keep that in her handbag along with your bollocks?” 

“Arse.”

“Wanker,” Sirius tosses back.

“We’re not even dressed for a wedding!”

“Look, we’ll figure it out as we go,” Sirius says, waving his hand in annoyance. “Anyway we’re not going to stay long, just long enough to get a glimpse of this Remus fellow. If it’s not him we’ll leave, okay?”

“And if it is him?”

Sirius just grins and taps the accelerator a bit harder than is strictly necessary. 

oOo


“Sirius,” James hisses when they’ve slipped into the waiting area outside of the reception hall. “They’re all wearing kilts, Sirius. Kilts! For fuck’s sake.”

“Relax,” Sirius hisses back. “Just don’t draw attention, we’ll be fine.”

And yeah, they get a few odd looks. But no one speaks to them except for one elderly gentleman who seizes James by the front of his shirt, asking if he’s seen his cousin Enid (cousin Enid comes along shortly thereafter to rescue him with a you-know-how-he-gets sort of look) and some waiters who offer them hors d'oeuvres and glasses of wine. 

They decide to split up and cover more ground, but after ten minutes of mingling and surreptitiously searching, Sirius is starting to wonder if maybe they were too late. Perhaps ‘Remus’ has already left? Or maybe he was never Moony to begin with and Sirius is wasting his time. But that makes no sense. The woman at the shop had recognized him. That means Moony—Remus—must have told her about him. He leans against a tall pillar and scans the crowd, sipping idly at his drink, trying to decide if it’s worth hanging out any longer.

“No, I know,” a voice says and Sirius ears immediately perk up. He recognizes that voice. “I’ll be home soon. I’m leaving now, okay? I love you.”

The voice’s owner rounds the corner, tucking a mobile phone into his coat pocket and stopping dead when he sees Sirius. 

It’s him. Jesus Christ on a pogo-stick it’s him and, wow, his memory has really not done the man justice. He’s not as tall as Sirius remembers, but maybe that’s just the absence of that wolf hood thing, but he’s not short either—probably just a hair shorter than Sirius himself—and his hair is much nicer without it anyway. Sandy-brown and falling into his eyes and fuck, his eyes—like broken shades of autumn leaves. 

“Hey,” Sirius says after a moment of intense silence, because he’s not quite capable of stringing more than one word together right now.

Moony—Remus—gapes for another second, then, “S-Sirius?”

Sirius absolutely does not give a mental cheer of delight that Remus has remembered his name. He only inclines his head and says, “Moony was it?”

“What are you doing here?”

He holds his drink up, indicating to the gathered crowed. He has to hand it to himself, he’s playing it very cool.

“You know the McKinnons?” Remus asks slowly. 

He shrugs. “Funny coincidence I guess.”

“Right,” Remus says, nodding vacantly, still staring at him like he can’t quite believe Sirius is real. “Um, look, Sirius, I—it’s nice to see you again but I have to be going.” And he hurries off, past Sirius, like a fire has just been lit beneath him. 

“Hey, wait,” Sirius calls after him, following quickly. Remus stops but the look on his face is one of annoyed impatience. Sirius soldiers on anyway, affecting a charming grin. “Do you want to get a drink with me some time? I know a really cool place.”

Remus sighs and takes a step back. “Sirius…”

Undeterred, Sirius follows. “C’mon, we had a good time the last time, I mean, didn’t we?”

“I told you before. I can’t.”

“I can’t.”

“Just…” His eyes linger on Sirius’s. He looks miserable but something steely hardens in those brown depths. “I’d appreciate it if you left me alone.”

This doesn’t seem right. It’s not at all how Sirius had hoped it would go. He knew this was a possibility, of course. That Moony—Remus—may not be interested. But he'd always imagined that all he needed to do was find the man and things would fall into place. That whatever had clicked into place in October would happen again.

Sirius says takes a step back to let Remus go. “Yeah, okay. Sorry.” 

“Enjoy the wedding.”

Sirius watches him go. A second later James is at his side. “What happened? Why is he leaving? Should we…give chase?”

“I…He…”

Sirius presses the other man against the wall, reveling in the way the hard lines of their bodies fit together. Moony is lean, one taught line of muscle hidden beneath his cheap grey suit. Sirius pulls one end of the silly wolf hood until it falls to the ground and buries one hand into the silky brown of Moony’s hair as he seals their lips together. Oh God. He likes the way Moony tastes. He likes the way Moony groans into his mouth and curls his tongue around Sirius’s. He really, really likes the way Moony’s hands clutch his hips and pull him closer. Tighter. Fuck. 

“Fuck,” he breathes, kissing the space just beneath Moony’s ear. Moony shivers and rolls his hips into Sirius’s and Sirius does it again. Behind him he can hear the party raging on, but it is miles away from where he is right now. Pressed against Moony. Sharing Moony’s warmth. He could do this forever.

“Come home with me,” Sirius says, nibbling on the other man’s ear. 

“I…” Moony gasps and before he can respond further, Sirius is kissing him again. He slips a thigh between Moony’s knees and leans closer until there is nothing but their atoms between them. The noises he’s making are sinful. Sirius is so enraptured he doesn’t notice immediately that Moony is pushing him away until their lips part and they’re both gasping for breath. “Stop, Sirius.”

Stopping is the last thing Sirius wants to do but he pulls back, feeling the loss of the other man’s warmth keenly. Moony looks utterly wrecked in the best possible way. His hair is disheveled and his lips are red and swollen. There are bright pink patches on his cheeks and his clothes are rumpled. Sirius’s brain is at war with wanting to eat him alive and to pull him close and simply hold him. Or maybe that’s just the lingering taste of chocolate telling him he’d like to devour the man whole. And he is still spectacularly drunk. 

“What’s the matter?”

Moony shakes his head, licking his lips and Sirius can’t help diving back in for another kiss. He is pushed away again after a very short while. “Sirius, I can’t. Please.”

And before he notices it, Moony has wriggled out from beneath him. He stoops to retrieve his discarded hood and then is walking stiffly away. Sirius catches up quickly however, gripping Moony’s elbow gently and turning him so they’re face to face again.

“Hey, wait, I’m sorry. Okay? I’m not trying to come on too strong but this…” Sirius cups his face and kisses him again, tender this time, swiping a thumb across the other man’s cheek. “This is…pretty fucking good, yeah?”

“I…it’s…” Moony trails off, his eyes boring into Sirius’s like they’re searching for the words he is suddenly having such a hard time finding. He removes Sirius’s hands looking tortured, but then takes a deep breath and the look is replaced with calm detachment. “I can’t,” he says evenly. 

Sirius wants to ask why. He’s pretty far gone, granted, but he’s not so far gone that he’s failed to recognize…whatever the fuck it is that’s happening between them is big. Life changing. He’s never been so struck by another person before. It’s like Sirius has been living with a void, an empty space in his chest, for years and now it has suddenly been filled.

“You should go back to the party,” Moony says, smoothing his clothes where they’re wrinkled before turning and walking away.

Sirius watches him go and then slumps against the wall. The room is sort of spinning. Maybe he’s a bit more drunk than he previously thought. He takes a few steadying breaths and goes to find James and Lily.


“Sirius?”

“He…” Sirius clears his throat, dropping his eyes to stare at the bubbles in his drink rather than the place Remus has just left. “He wasn’t interested.”

oOo


It’s fine. Sirius is fine. So Moony—Remus—wasn’t interested. If Sirius hadn’t been so drunk that night, he would have remembered Remus telling him to back off and he wouldn’t have started this wild-goose chase in the first place. He only has himself to blame, really. It would be nice, however, if James would let it go.

“I just can’t believe it,” James gripes, seated next to Sirius once more in the passenger seat of his car. “I mean, you go to all this trouble and he just…”

“Drop it, James.”

“No, this is—it’s rude that’s what it is!”

Sirius clenches the steering wheel tight. He knows James is just playing the part of the good best friend but Sirius would like it if he’d just shut up. He says, “You were the one who said I shouldn’t get my hopes up.”

James sighs. “That’s not what I meant.”

“Well it doesn’t matter anyway,” Sirius says. 

They’re stopped at a red light. Last minute Christmas shoppers are hustling across the street carrying bags and packages. Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. Tomorrow he’ll have dinner and celebrate with his borrowed family because his family still isn’t speaking to him. Everyone will coo over Lily and how big she’ll get before the baby is born. It will be fun. It will. He loves the Potters. Loves James and Lily and when their baby is born, he’ll love the baby too. He doesn’t need anyone else.

oOo


His flat is silent when Remus arrives home. He opens his mouth to call out when Melanie tiptoes around the corner, waving her hands in a “shushing” gesture.

“He just fell asleep,” she says quietly.

Remus nods. “How is he?”

“He’s fine. Hasn’t run a fever all day. We watched DVDs mostly.”

“That’s good,” Remus says, sagging a little in relief. It has been a very trying day but at least now he can scratch “unwell child” off his list of worries. “Thank you for coming over last minute, Melanie. You’re a lifesaver.”

Melanie shrugs and slings her book bag over her shoulder. “It’s no problem, Mr. Lupin. Teddy is my pal and a little extra money around the holidays is definitely welcome.”

Remus will be forever grateful he hired the teenager two years ago to work in the shop during summer holidays. He’ll be sorry when she heads off to university next year and he loses Teddy’s favorite babysitter. 

He hands her a generous amount of bills. “You’ve got a ride home?”

“Yep,” she says, pocketing the cash. “Call me if you need someone for New Year’s Eve, okay?”

“I’ll keep it in mind. Thank you, Melanie.”

“Happy Christmas, Mr. Lupin.”

Remus closes the door behind her and leans against it for a brief moment, feeling the last three day’s weariness catching up with him. The holiday season is always busy with special orders, even without losing one employee and dealing with whatever bug Teddy caught at day care. Running into Sirius Black, of all people, today has been the proverbial icing on the equally proverbial and terribly exhausted cake.

That, he had never expected. Thank you very much, serendipity, for dropping that bomb into his lap. What he really needed to top things off this week was running into the man who had disarmed him so thoroughly that he was unable to think of anything else for weeks.

Remus had almost forgotten how gorgeous Sirius was. How captivating and infectious his smile could be. Seeing him again had been such a shock that Remus had almost forgotten himself. Had almost allowed himself to want. But he couldn’t. He wouldn’t. He had other things to consider now and besides; he’d learned his lesson the last time he let himself get swept up in ideas like love and romance.

It could have ended so much worse with Dora. He’d tried. For a while, he’d convinced himself they were meant for each other. But in the end, they’d just been two people who got married because they were having a baby. At least one of them had been smart enough to end it before they started resenting each other. And he’ll be the first one to admit how fortunate he is. Instead of having a bitter ex-wife and a son he only sees every other weekend, he has a friend and business partner, and they split their time with Teddy evenly. But it had still hurt when she told him it wasn’t working. 

He is not naïve enough to think he’d be so lucky the next time. That everyone would walk away on good terms—wounded pride being the only thing to show for their efforts. His own failed attempt at happily ever after aside, he’s been on the business end of weddings long enough now to know that things rarely last forever. Certainly he likes the idea, and he can sell it to any blushing bride and nervous groom, even if he isn’t sold on it himself, but he is not in the market for it personally. Hell, he isn’t even shopping. And Sirius Black, with his charm and his laughter and his passion, has buyer’s remorse written all over him. No thank you. 

He pokes his head in on Teddy, but the four-year-old is still fast asleep. Remus figures he’ll let him sleep a little longer before waking him up and coercing him into taking some medicine. Heaving a small sigh he toes off his shoes and pads to the kitchen. Tea, he thinks. Definitely tea. Or maybe something stronger. 

oOo


Remus is dozing on the sofa when a nudge to his shoulder and the smell of Chinese food rouses him. He looks up to see Dora smiling down at him and holding a paper bag. “Wake up! I brought Lo Mein.”

“You are amazing.”

“Tell me something I don’t already know,” she says, shoving his feet off the sofa so she can sit. She hands him a white carton and a set of chopsticks from the bag. “I peeked in on Ted. He’s feeling better?”

Remus nods, licking a bit of sauce from his thumb as he opens the carton. “Mel said he hasn’t run a fever all day. I was going to wake him up actually. Get him to eat and take some medicine.”

Dora shrugs and shakes her head. “Let him sleep a bit longer. Tell me about the wedding.”

“Wedding? You mean the McKinnon’s?” Remus asks, pausing mid-bite. There is a suspicious smile playing at her lips. Remus narrows his eyes. “It was fine. Why?”

“Oh,” Dora shrugs again, doing a very bad job of feigning interest in her sweet and sour pork. “Just wondering.”

“It was alright, you know. You’d have loved it. All those men in kilts.”

She snorts inelegantly and raises one brow in his direction. “Checking out the guests were you? Meet anyone interesting?”

“No,” he lies easily. “Not really.”

“Really?” Dora says loftily. “Didn’t run into any familiar faces or anything?”

And there is too much of a knowing glint in her eye when she says it for his liking. He sends her a stern look. “You knew. You knew! How…”

She shrugs but her smile is absolutely gleeful now. She says, “He may have come into the shop. I thought you didn’t tell him.”

“I didn’t.”

“Then how did he know to look for you there?”

That gives Remus pause. “He…was looking for me?” 

Nodding, Dora says, “Yep. Wandered in looking like a lost puppy searching for his master. I gave him the address to the McKinnon reception second I recognized him.”

“I should have never told you about him.”

Dora rolls her eyes. “You come back that night looking like some thunderstruck teenager, covered in love bites, and I’m supposed to just forget about it? Good God, Remus, I’ve never seen you so…I dunno…preoccupied by someone before.”

An awkward silence falls between them. For his part, Remus thought he’d done a good job of pretending nothing happened that night, but if Dora had noticed…Even though they’ve been split up for nearly a year, he still feels like he’s done something wrong. Been caught out. 

Clearing her throat, Dora says, “So…”

“So what?”

“What happened?” she asks, sounding a tad impatient. “Did you talk to him?”

Remus sighs. “Yes. I did.”

“And?”

“And nothing,” Remus says, poking at his dinner. “What did you expect?”

“Remus…” Dora says, in that disapproving way she does when Teddy has done something wrong.

He heads her off before she can work herself up into a lecture. “No, Dora, I told you the last time. I’m not getting involved with anyone.”

“And I told you the last time, you’re an idiot if you let this chance slip by you.”

“What chance?” he asks, and he can’t help the impatience that slips through. “There’s no chance. We just had a few drinks. We danced. We…made out a bit. That was it.”

“You were miserable for days afterwards. Weeks, if memory serves.”

“I was not miserable,” Remus argues.

“So I imagined that far-off look in your eye whenever you thought no one was watching? Or the way you turned the station whenever a certain song came on in the shop?” she says, daring him to contradict her, and Remus drops his gaze. God, had he been that bad? She sighs again and her voice is much gentler when she says, “Remus, I know you think it’s not worth it to try again—”

“Dora, please stop. I know what you’re trying to do and I appreciate it but I don’t want to—why do you even care so much?”

“You haven’t been on a single date since we split up,” she says firmly. “You’re twenty-six, Remus, not sixty-two. I’m sure you have needs. I just want you to be happy.”

Remus rubs his face with one had. “I am happy. You and I are good and we’ve got Teddy and the shop is doing well. I’m not looking for anything more right now. That’s all.”

Dora looks like she wants to argue some more but she only nods. “Alright. I’m sorry. I thought I might be doing you a favor.”

“Yeah, I know. I…thanks,” he says, and she nods again. “So, anything interesting happen today?”

With a laugh that doesn’t sound entirely forced, Dora launches into a recap of the day’s events that apparently involves a mishap with the espresso machine. Remus listens and comments and laughs in all the right places. And if his mind keeps wandering back to the look of disappointment on Sirius Black’s face before he walked away, well, he’s the only one who needs to know.

oOo


February

Sirius winks at the pretty bartender as she places a short glass in front of him and fills it with whisky. “Can I get you anything else?” she asks, and there is really no mistaking the way her brow quirks and her tongue whets her lips as anything but an invitation.

“No, but I’ll be sure to let you know,” he says, and watches the way her hips sway as she goes to help someone at the other end. He forgets her almost immediately in favor of his drink.

He probably should have just stayed home. Or perhaps gone to see Ella, where at least the atmosphere was less desperate and lonely. He hadn’t planned on coming out at all today, but an email from Frank Longbottom (several months too late, thanks) had sent him into a fit of melancholy that morning that he’d been unable to shake.

The club he’s at is almost depressing in its desperation. So many men and women searching for someone to keep them warm tonight, of all nights. This time last year he was playing the room like a professional. Jesus, if this is what love does to people then it is massively overrated.

“So I noticed you were sitting here all by yourself,” a man says, slipping into the seat beside him. He signals the bartender. The man shifts on his stool so he is facing Sirius, like they’re old friends in the middle of a chat. “And I thought to myself, it’s Valentine’s Day and it would be such a tragedy if someone as gorgeous as you had to spend tonight alone.”

It’s a crap line, but the man is very nice-looking with vivid green eyes and sandy blonde hair just the perfect length to grip tight and pull. Sirius takes a large swallow of his drink and smirks. “Not alone anymore.”

oOo


April

Remus pauses, spatula in midair when Teddy asks, “Daddy, what’s a hot date?”

He glances over at his son sitting at the small table reserved just for him in the back of the shop, his feet swinging over the side of the chair as he colors with a bright red crayon. “Sorry, what was that Ted?”

“Mummy said to grandmum she had a hot date,” Teddy says, his eyes focused on his work. “What’s a hot date?”

Remus is momentarily stunned, trying to think of how to describe the concept of dating to a four-year-old. A dollop of frosting makes a daring bid for the floor but Remus is quicker and he layers it over the cake as he thinks. “Well,” he begins. “Your mum met someone, a bloke, and she liked him so she’s going to spend some time with him.”

“Oh.”

“Yep.”

“Daddy, how come you don’t like someone?” Teddy asks, looking up from his coloring as if the question truly puzzles him and requires his full attention.

“I like you, Ted,” Remus says easily, because he can’t exactly explain how thoroughly complicated the love-life of an adult truly is.

Teddy purses his lips, and then asks, “Can we go on a hot date then?”

Remus laughs. “Sure, Ted.”

oOo


June

Sirius closes the door labeled GROOM behind him and takes a deep breath. He’d forgotten how stressful being part of a wedding could actually be. It doesn’t help he’s the only one holding Pete together because James has been tending to his very pregnant wife most of the afternoon. Perhaps he’s better off giving this whole thing a pass if all it does is turn men into nervous wrecks who vomit and pull at their hair.

Alcohol, he thinks. A nice drink will do him good. And he’ll even bring one for Pete, he’s such a good friend. 

The reception hall is empty of guests—just waiters setting up tables and decorations. For only six months of planning, Peter and Liv pulled off a pretty nice show. The garden outside is lovely and the hall is bright and warm and, he feels stupid even thinking it, romantic. It’s going to be nice, he thinks.

He nods and smiles as he passes people carrying vases of flowers and small boxes wrapped in ribbons. “Beer. Two. Official groomsmen business,” Sirius says when he reaches the bar and he drops a bill in the tip jar. 

The bartender, who is still setting up, pops the cap off two bottles and hands them over before resuming his task of setting up glasses and supplies.

“Ta,” he says, turning on his heel and taking a long swallow from one bottle. He heads back the way he came when he catches sight of another person setting up a table ten feet from where he is and he stops dead.

Really? Fucking really? Of all the bakers in all of London, they had to hire this one? He takes all his nice thoughts back. This is the worst wedding ever. Peter is so not getting his beer.

Before he can make an unnoticed exit, Remus looks up and catches his eye. He straightens, wiping his hands on a cloth, and says, “Oh…er, hey there.”

Sirius almost laughs out loud. “We have got to stop meeting like this. Really.”

The corners of Remus’s lips twitch for a moment before he nods. “Yes. For the record, I had no idea you’d be here.”

“Yeah, neither did I. Know you’d be here, that is,” Sirius clarifies. “I do have a few questions for the groom now, however, if you’ll excuse me.”

He turns away, trying to decide if he should kill Peter now and thwart the whole wedding or wait until later, making Olivia a widow, when Remus calls after him. “I should have explained myself.”

Sirius grits his teeth and turns back. “Sorry?”

He looks anxious—lapping at his lips in a nervous gesture, and Sirius’s eyes can’t help but follow. Damn, maybe not quite as ‘over it’ as he’d like to pretend. Remus takes a breath. “I should have explained myself…before.”

Shaking his head, Sirius says, “You don’t have to explain anything. You didn’t want to. That’s enough for me.”

“No,” Remus says quickly. A nearby waiter shoots them both a curious look and Remus steps closer until he is right in Sirius’s personal space. If he wasn’t quite so angry about the whole thing, he might notice that Remus has an adorable smattering of freckles across his nose. He shifts, wishing the man would just do his whole cake-thing and leave so he can kill his friend in peace.

“I did…want to,” Remus says. “I wanted to go home with you that night but…”

Sighing, Sirius asks, “But?”

“It’s complicated.”

Bollocks, Sirius thinks. Two people who are into each other is not complicated business. But he doesn’t say that. Instead he says, “Complicated how?”

“I’m divorced, for one thing,” Remus says, his eyes boring into Sirius’s like they’re searching for something.

Sirius almost laughs again. “Okay…” he says slowly. “I think it would be more complicated if you were married, in all honesty, but okay.”

“And I have a kid. A son.”

“Ah,” Sirius says, understanding a little better. Remus’s shoulders slump a fraction and his gaze drops but Sirius ducks his head until their eyes are locked once more. “I’m waiting for you to get to the complicated bit.”

“It’s...that’s—” Remus throws up his hands, like Sirius is not cooperating by being totally okay with these admissions.

“Do you want to know what I think?” Sirius asks gently. “I think something clicked for me that night and, call me crazy, but I think you felt it too.” Remus doesn’t argue, just stares. Sirius continues. “And now I think you were just too scared to even try. Your loss, mate.”

“You’re right,” Remus says before Sirius can turn to leave again. “I was. I am. It’s not been easy and I suppose I thought it was safer to push you away than to…try again.”

He sounds hopeful, and Sirius feels the last of his anger drain out of him. He doesn’t need this now. He’s moved on. He’s over it. He’d romanticized this man—made their first encounter out to be much more than it was. Like the stars had aligned to bring them together or some shit. He’s over it. Completely. 

Except he’s not and he knows it. But he can’t wait forever for this man to get over his own hang-ups either. So he sighs and says, “I have to get back.”

There is a flash of something like pain in Remus’s eyes, and then, “Yes, of course.”

“It’s just,” Sirius rushes, wanting to make sure he’s understood. He’s not brushing Remus off or anything. “The ceremony. You know? And I still don’t know if I’ll be killing the groom before or after.”

Remus actually laughs, bittersweet, and the sound of it sends a shot of warmth straight to Sirius’s chest. “Yeah.”

He doesn’t want to go but he really does have somewhere to be and if he stays he might just do something stupid like tell Remus he loves him and that just won’t do. “Take care, Moony.”

“Yeah, you too,” he says, and Sirius does not look back when he leaves.

oOo


Remus sees himself out of the reception hall after setting up the cake. The gardens outside are beautiful and fragrant in the warm June afternoon. He’s never told anyone, but secretly he loves June weddings. Not because it’s his busiest, most profitable month, although that helps, but because they always seem especially romantic. Despite his past experiences, both personal and professional, he still finds a certain charm in the idea that love can last forever. That the right person can come along and…he sighs as his thoughts wander back to Sirius. 

He had not meant to confess, the way he had. He hadn’t even really admitted it to himself that he was scared. Fuck, for barely knowing him, Sirius has his number alright. He just hadn’t wanted to leave it on a bad note, that was all. Certainly he hadn’t expected, hoped, that Sirius would want to…what? That ship has sailed and Remus was not on board.

His loss.

The sound of a familiar song carries over from the pavilion where the ceremony will be held and Remus chuckles because life is a bitch. 

“You’re not going to sing this one too, are you?” Remus asks, leaning closer to his dance partner.

Sirius pouts. “You know, you’re gonna hurt a guy’s feelings at this rate.”

“Well it’s one thing to butcher Sinatra, but if you ruin Elvis for me I may never forgive you.”

“Your loss,” Sirius says. 

They listen to The King as he sings about rivers and seas and how some things are just meant to be, dancing so slowly they might as well be standing still. Why the world feels like it’s careening out of control, Remus has no clue. He takes a deep breath and something, some spicy aroma, fills his lungs and he wants to bury his face in the crook of Sirius’s neck and…that would probably be weird. 

So instead he says, “Your friends aren’t wondering where you are?” 

Because Sirius has spent a good part of the evening with him and surely people must be missing him by now. This does not seem to concern Sirius, however.

“They probably think I’ve met someone and I’m working on sealing the deal.”

“I see,” Remus says, and…alright. He doesn’t know if he should be offended or not.

“Don’t worry though,” Sirius says, as if he’s reading Remus’s mind. “I ditched her a while ago.”

Remus laughs and the hand on his waist tightens for moment. He tilts his head so he’s speaking directly into Sirius’s ear. “Guess you’ll just have to make do with me then.”

Sirius is breathless when he says, “My loss I suppose.”


Remus rubs his eyes, feeling tired. He wonders what would have happened if he hadn’t fought it so hard before. If he’d gone home with Sirius that first night. Or if he hadn’t panicked and fled the second time. Maybe he’d be a guest at this wedding too. With Sirius. Or not. Who knows? No point wondering what might have been. 

But it still would have been nice to find out. 

Something tickles at the edges of his consciousness. Perhaps it’s not too late? He stops, biting his lip in indecision for a moment. He has no reason to believe Sirius is still interested. If anything, they’re last conversation was a definite “I am so over it” from the other man. But there are two voices that sound very much like his son and ex-wife telling him to stop being an idiot, and it is killing him to not know, so he pulls out his phone. 

He clicks on a list of contacts he keeps for the day’s deliveries. Pettigrew. There is a short list of names but Sirius’s is not among them. The best man is listed, however. Remus takes a chance and dials the number.

“Hello?”

“Hello, is this James Potter?”

He hears an indistinct crashing noise.

“Yes. But look I’m kind of busy—”

“Can I please speak with Sirius? It’s urgent.”

“One sec.”

There is the sound of the phone being fumbled and conversation he can’t make out before another voice comes on.

“What?” Sirius barks.

“Sirius? This is…it’s Moony.”

Silence stretches for a moment and then, with less venom and far more confusion, “Oh. Hi?”

“I know you’re busy,” he says quickly, before he loses his nerve. “But I’d…I think I’d like to take you up on that drink offer. If it’s not too—if you’d still like to, that is.” 

More silence. Remus beings to wonder if maybe Sirius has hung up and then he hears laughter, slightly hysterical. “Yeah. Yes. I’d like that.”

Sirius rattles off an address and says he’ll meet Remus after the reception.

“I’ll see you there then,” Remus says, and he can’t keep the smile out of his voice.

“Definitely,” Sirius says, and then there is the sound of the phone changing hands.

“I hope you know you just saved a man’s life,” James says before hanging up. 

Remus lets out a laugh, feeling like he’s just won a marathon, not scored a date. He immediately calls Dora. “Hey, can you keep Teddy tonight?” he asks when she answers. “Something came up.”

“Of course. Remus, is everything okay?”

“Yes. Perfect even.”

“Okay,” she says slowly.

“Oh and tell Teddy I have a hot date.”

oOo


Remus is sitting at the bar, nursing the same drink he ordered forty minutes ago. He knows how receptions can go. Sirius isn’t exactly late. They didn’t agree on a specific time. But he lets out a relieved breath all the same when a bundle of neatly tied blue flowers is placed on in front of him. 

He struggles with keeping his smile in check and says, “You shouldn’t have.”

“I caught the bouquet,” Sirius says sunnily, grinning from ear to ear. 

“Really?”

“Guess it’s just my lucky night.”

Sirius has removed his coat, leaving him in a dark grey waistcoat and white shirtsleeves. He drapes his coat over the back of the stool beside Remus and takes a seat. His tie is hanging loosely around his neck his sleeves are pushed up to the elbow and Remus loves and hates how utterly perfect he looks. 

“Good party?”

“Great party,” Sirius says. The woman behind the bar drops a tumbler of whisky in front of Sirius without any prompting. “Ta, Ella.”

“This is a nice place. Do you come here a lot?”

Sirius quirks a brow and shakes his head. “I think we’re past terrible pick-up lines, don’t you?”

Remus rolls his eyes but he can’t stop smiling. He watches Sirius swallow his drink in two large gulps, fixated on the way his Adam’s apple bobs up and down. This is probably the best worst idea Remus has ever had.

“I want to dance,” Sirius announces suddenly. He holds his hand out. “Dance with me?”

Placing his hand in Sirius’s, Remus says, “I would love to.”

The music changes and time seems to slow down for a moment when Sirius pulls him close. They fall into step so easily it should be frightening but it’s not. He can feel Sirius’s thumb rubbing small circles against his hip and that spicy aroma is playing havoc with his senses again and this feels completely, amazingly perfect. He lets his head fall against Sirius’s shoulder and his eyes slide shut.

He can feel the rumble of Sirius’s voice when he speaks some time later. “So, Mr. Moony. Tell me about yourself.”

“It’s Remus, actually,” he says, looking up to see wide grey eyes watching him intently. They’re nose to nose—Sirius’s lips inches from his own. “Remus Lupin.”

Epilogue


One Year Later

When Sirius wakes up the morning after his own wedding, there are several thoughts vying for attention in the early morning fog of his brain. I am never drinking again,weddings are utterly, utterly insane, and where the hell has Remus gone off to are discarded, however, when Sirius’s eye lands on a message scrawled in black ink on his forearm. 

You snore. I want a refund. 
Coffee on the balcony.
-M


He rolls onto his back and holds his arm up, peering at his marred skin, and a smile splits his face. Rolling out of the bed he stretches, feeling his still sleeping muscles twitch back to wakefulness, and pads to the balcony of the suite they’ve rented out for the weekend.

“I do not snore,” he says when he finds Remus curled up on a chair near the railing. Remus’s eyes are fixed on the sun, still rising over a gently rolling ocean, but his lips twitch when Sirius drops a kiss on the top of his head.

“Got my memo did you?” Remus asks, sipping from his cup.

“Yes,” Sirius says, sitting across from him and pouring a cup for himself. “And I’m sorry to inform you, but all transactions are final, Mr. Lupin. You’ll just have to make do for the rest of your life.”

Remus sighs like all the world’s problems belong to him. “I suppose I will,” he says, but the smile he gives Sirius is so fond that Sirius’s heart skips a beat. 

Over a year of dates and “sleepovers” and practically living together later, Remus can still reduce him to a twitterpated mess with just a smile. He rests his chin on his hand and watches Remus watch the sun rise until a shrill series of beeps from Sirius’s phone breaks through the brief peace they’ve commandeered for themselves.

“It’s been doing that all morning,” Remus says, nodding at the phone lying on the table between them. 

“Well, that’s probably what happens when you elope and don’t tell anyone what you’re doing.”

“Hmm,” Remus says in acknowledgement. 

The most important people in their lives had known that their “short holiday” was secretly a honeymoon, but there were still plenty of text messages and missed calls. Sirius scrolls through a few texts that say things like: “Oh my God!” and “You wanker, why wasn’t I invited?” and “I didn’t even know you were seeing someone…what the fuck?” before he chuckles and turns the phone off. 

“You know, if we’d had a proper wedding, we might have scored some really excellent gifts,” Remus says, placing his empty cup on the table and regarding Sirius curiously. “New kitchen appliances, wine glasses, you know…stuff.”

Sirius thinks about that. Having given more than his fair share of gifts over the years, he’s seen more than one bride and groom walk away with piles upon piles of neatly wrapped boxes or slim envelopes no doubt stuffed with checks, and knows they would have made out like bandits had they gone the more traditional route. 

He glances up at the man he’s only known a short while, all things considered, but still feels like he’s known his entire life. And, yeah, he’s probably really soppy for thinking that, but Remus knows what an utter sop he is and he still seems to like him, so Sirius simply smiles, reaches for Remus’s hand across the table, and says, “We have everything we need.”

End