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How Remus Got His Groove Back

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“My Moomoo come to play wiff me?”

Remus scooped Harry into his arms and pressed a kiss to the boy’s chubby cheek. “Yes! And we’re going to have so much fun, aren’t we?”

Harry squirmed happily and shouted, “Uh-huh!”

Remus set Harry down and the toddler immediately began running circles around his legs. James squatted down to try and catch his son's eye. “Harry, just because Uncle Moony can’t say no to those big green eyes—”

“Excuse me? Who can’t say no those big green eyes?”

“—does not mean you get to walk all over him tonight. Use your powers for good, not evil.”

Harry continued running as if neither man had spoken. He only came to a stop to declare, “We play wiff my new dwaggies!”

When he ran to his playroom to collect the dwaggies in question, James translated, “Dragons.”

“I’d gathered that, thanks,” Remus responded, settling into the couch. “So what’s the plan for tonight? Bank heist? Government takeover? Virgin sacrifice?”

“I don’t know who you’ve been talking to but if anyone asks, Gringotts, Parliament, and Peter are all safe.”

“Well Lily was so vague when she asked me to babysit, I assumed you had to be doing something nefarious.”

“Really?” James' face twisted in confusion. “We’re just going to dinner. Oh, there was a bit of conflict over where we’d actually eat. Maybe that’s why she was vague. See, I wanted to try that new Chinese restaurant on Mabel Street, but Sirius wants to go to—”

“Sirius?” Remus laughed. “I guess I should have known that ‘date night’ meant dinner with Sirius.”

James chuckled, adjusting the collar of his shirt in the mirror hanging over the fireplace. “Actually, we’re double dating. Sirius is bringing some bloke he met at a coffee shop last week.”

“Oh.”

James continued speaking. “Don’t be upset that we didn’t invite you. It was just supposed to be me and Lily but Sirius forced himself on us last minute. Apparently, the guy is a scientist and Sirius isn’t confident enough in his chem lingo to keep up conversation for a whole evening so he wants Lily as backup to help impress him. I’ll admit, I’m a little put out with the bastard. He made us change our reservations! He says that seafood is an aphrodisiac and—”

Luckily for Remus, Harry took that moment to re-enter the room with two intricately detailed toy dragons. He shouted, “Look Moomoo! These my dwaggies!”

 

---

 

Maybe I should get a haircut.

Remus shook the thought from his head. No, he did not need a haircut. His hair was fine.

He willed himself to just fall asleep already. He had the opening shift at the library tomorrow morning and didn’t need to spend the whole day drained because he was too busy wondering what Sirius was doing to sleep.

Maybe I should try working out more.

He’d try counting sheep. It had never worked before but there was a first time for everything.

One sheep. Two sheep. Three sheep. Four sheep. It’s too late for him to still be at dinner and even if he caught a late movie it’s already midnight shut up shut up shut up. Five sheep. Six sheep. Seven sheep. Eight sheep. Nine sheep. Ten sheep. Eleven sheep. Maybe I should get a haircut. Twelve sheep. Thirteen sheep. Fourteen sheep. Fifteen sheep. Next time I can convince him to stay by— 

The sound of the front door opening sounded throughout Remus' room and he prayed that Sirius was alone. It was one thing to wonder what Sirius was doing; it was another to be forced to listen to it.

Remus’ own bedroom door opened. “Moony?” Sirius half-heartedly tried to whisper but was still loud enough that if Remus actually was asleep he probably would have woken up.

Pretend to be asleep. You’re not at his beck and call.

“Hi Sirius,” Remus whispered.

“Good, you’re up,” Sirius responded, tossing his jacket carelessly on the floor. When he was out of all his clothes but his boxers, he crawled in behind Remus and wrapped a well-muscled arm around Remus’ waist. He began placing wet, open-mouthed kisses against Remus’ neck. Remus tilted his head to give Sirius better access.

“God Moony,” Sirius growled. “You’re so fucking soft. And sweet. Soft, and sweet and good to eat.”

“How was your night?”

“Horrible,” Sirius mumbled against Remus’ neck. “But let’s not think about that right now. Let’s think about getting these clothes off of you.”

You have to get up at six tomorrow. Tell him no.

Remus turned to face Sirius, looked into his bright grey eyes, then laced his hands through Sirius’ so silky hair to pull him into a kiss.

 


 

“Padfoot, have you seen my blue sweater?”

“You have a million blue sweaters. You’re going to have to narrow it down.”

“It’s a knit turtle-neck.”

“Never seen it.”

Remus sighed and ran to retrieve a different sweater.

“I think I’m going to try that new Chinese place on Mabel out for lunch!” Sirius called to him.

Remus reentered the living room, hastily trying to gather everything he would need for the day into his satchel. “Hmmm?"

Sirius rolled his eyes but smiled at Remus indulgently. “I’m going to order takeout from that new Chinese place on Mabel. James has been annoying me lately so I want to try it before he does.”

Remus snorted. “Going straight for the jugular I see.”

“Don’t mock me. Will you be home for lunch?”

Remembering that he was indeed in a hurry, Remus continued his harried hunt for his textbooks. “No, I’m studying with Daniel.”

“Who’s Daniel?” Sirius demanded.

Remus checked under the couch. He was usually very neat and careful with his things but Sirius had a knack for distracting him. “He’s a friend from school. I’ve mentioned him numerous times.”

“Oh,” Sirius responded. “Well, that sounds boring. Ditch him and come eat with me.”

“No, we wanted to read over each other's work and exchange notes. It’s important.”

“Well, we need to eat. You’re so skinny. If I don’t feed you, you might disappear into nothingness and then where would I be?”

“You’d be alone with a coffee maker that you still don’t know how to use.”

“Exactly! We can’t have that. You’d better just tell that David fellow—"

“Daniel.”

“—David fellow that you have to cancel.”

“Sirius, no. This paper is important. I could really use a second set of eyes.”

“How about we make a whole event of it?” Sirius asked. “Instead of ordering in, we could go to eat there. And then we could even go to the bookstore!”

Say no.

But this offer was so tempting. Lately, Sirius was always on the go either with his work at Potter Toys or with other people or with the Marauders as a group that there wasn’t much time for Remus outside of the flat.

Say no. You are not at his beck and call.

Remus sighed. “Fine. But you’re treating.”

Sirius grinned widely. “I wouldn't have it any other way.”

 

---

 

“I’m so sorry Daniel,” Remus repeated.

Remus! Stop apologizing! I told you not to worry about it.” Daniel laughed. “Now I get to go surprise my girlfriend with lunch. It’s fine.”

Forty-five minutes later, Remus came home to an empty flat.

Should I change?

No, it wasn’t a date and Remus should not let himself fall into the trap of thinking that it was. It would only make it worse when Sirius hit on the waitstaff in front of him.

But maybe I should put on a nicer sweater. Sirius says the green one brings out my eyes.

No, Remus would not change.

 

---

 

Two hours later, Remus took off his green sweater and threw it roughly at his dresser.

Sirius did not come home at all that night.

 


 

“Wormtail, you don’t see reason.”

“Prongs, you are caught up in an unrealistic teenage fantasy.”

Teenage fantasy?”

“It was puppy love and that’s why it didn’t work out. They started dating when they were seventeen, did you really expect that to last? Not everyone is you and Lily.”

Traitor.”

“I am not a traitor because I have decided that I like Rory with Logan more than I like Rory with Jess.”

“Traitor, traitor, traitor! Rory and Jess were clearly soulmates—”

Remus couldn’t help but guffaw. He was two margaritas in and was a lightweight and they were arguing about fictional characters and everything was so so so funny, so he laughed.

“Okay,” Sirius chuckled, “Who’s on Moony duty tonight?”

“Hey,” Remus scowled. “I am not a duty.”

“Of course you’re not a duty,” James said in the same gentle way he talked to Harry when he wanted to assure him that he was indeed a big boy but big boys still needed their water wings in the pool.

“I can get home on my own,” Remus huffed.

“Of course you can, sweetheart,” Sirius agreed, patting Remus gently on the shoulder. “Now, can we please make peace for the greater good of the group? Prongs, acknowledge that while Jess and Rory did have a significant amount in common and were connected on a deep mental level, ultimately they were too young and it was destined to fail. Wormtail, acknowledge that while Logan was a good counterbalance to Rory’s bookish ways and helped her character grow, he too was not what she needed in a man.”

“Never!” James and Peter shouted at the same time.

Sirius groaned. “We’re going to need more drinks.”

Remus laughed.

But despite his drunkenness, Remus was still conscious enough to notice twenty minutes later when Sirius had not returned from the bar. James and Peter had now been pulled into a truce by their mutual adoration of the Luke and Lorelai union, so Remus felt they were distracted enough for him to sneak away to look for Sirius. Maybe they could even find a nice quiet corner and… “I’m going to go to the restroom,” Remus announced. He hummed to himself as he made his way through the heavy throng of people. He was so happy. Happy to be here with his best friends. Happy to see all of these other happy people enjoying their Friday night. Happy that—

“Oops,” he said, accidentally out loud.

The tall man he bumped into laughed. “Sorry, that was my fault. I got in your way.”

“No, I should have watched where I was going. Sorry.”

The man stuck out a hand. “Hi, I’m Edgar.”

Remus shook it. “Remus.”

Edgar smiled. “Remus. I saw you with your friends over there. I don’t mean to be super aggressive, but I have to say you have the loveliest dimples.”

Remus felt the blood stain his cheeks.

“Do you want to dance?”

Edgar was an attractive man. It was tempting…

Say yes. You are not at Sirius’ beck and call.

But then he thought of Sirius and the way Sirius’ hand on his shoulder earlier had made him so warm and so happy. Remus smiled apologetically. “I would love to, but I’m actually looking for someone right now.”

“No worries,” Edgar said easily. “Maybe I’ll see you around.”

Remus made his way towards the restroom. He really had to go. Then he would find Sirius.

Well, he would find Sirius if he ever made it out of this stupid hallway. What made it harder to navigate was that there were several couples leaning beside doors and inside nooks; it was nearly impossible to see where a line might start or end. Remus was going to turn around and give up when something caught his eye.

Sirius was pressed up against a beautiful brunette in one of the aforementioned nooks. Though Remus was close enough to the couple to hear their conversation, Sirius only had eyes for the woman in front of him.

“Why are you bothering me again?” Despite her words, the woman was looking up at Sirius hungrily through her eyelashes.

Sirius smirked. “Because you look soft. And sweet. Soft and sweet and good enough to eat.”

Remus turned quickly. He hoped he found the restroom soon because the margaritas and burger he had for dinner were definitely making their way back up.

 


 

“He’s on a date,” Remus mumbled to himself. “He is on a date and he probably won’t be back tonight and you’re not allowed to be mad because he is not your boyfriend and he never has been so you need to calm down and go to bed.” He spread peanut butter on his bread with so much force that it tore.

While he attempted to fix the mistake, the front door opened. Remus felt his heart start to beat rapidly.

Please be alone. Please be alone. Please be alone.

“Most esteemed Mssr. Moony, my dearest friend, my most trusted confidant, wind beneath my wings, what might one do for a peanut-butter sandwich?”

Remus relaxed. “One might start with some peanut butter.”

Sirius came up and wrapped himself around Remus from behind. “What I meant, was what one might do to receive a peanut butter sandwich from the most esteemed Mssr. Moony?”

Remus sighed but tilted his head back to allow Sirius to pepper his neck with kisses. He said, “The most esteemed Mssr. Moony has been babysitting a hyper three-year-old who threw all of his vegetables on the ground, repeatedly tried to ride the cat, and nearly broke three Potter family heirlooms. The most esteemed Mssr. Moony is going to bed.”

“Perfect,” Sirius murmured against Remus’ neck, “Bed is what I had in mind too.” A strong hand wandered down to Remus’ arse. It grabbed a cheek and began firmly kneading.

Although the pit of his stomach tightened pleasantly, Remus managed to force out, “Were you or were you not just on a date?”

Sirius groaned and released his hold. He made his way over to the refrigerator and replied, “Oh Moony, it was awful! I would go on a date with Bella before going out with what’s-his-name again.”

Remus managed to contain his smile. Mostly. He was at least able to say “Well if you’re able to make incest jokes so soon afterward, it couldn’t have been too bad a night” without glee. Mostly.

“No,” Sirius said. “It was bad. He thought Africa was a country. Then he said he didn’t get the point of literature. I almost stabbed him with a shrimp skewer.”

Remus allowed himself a laugh and began making a second peanut butter sandwich.

“And honestly, for being so fit,” Sirius muttered as he stuck his head in the refrigerator, “the guy was rather mediocre in bed.”

Remus stopped making the sandwich. “You slept with him?”

“Yeah.”

“Tonight?”

“Yeah.”

Before Remus had time to think about the consequences of his words, he asked, “Do you do that often?”

“Do what?” Sirius responded. He still had his head buried in the refrigerator.

“Have sex with other people and then come home immediately after and have sex with me.”

Sirius straightened up so quickly that he knocked his head against the top of the refrigerator. Another time Remus might have laughed. Or rushed over to see if Sirius was okay.

After he properly stood up and turned to look at Remus, Sirius asked: “Does it matter?”

Did it?

Part of Remus wanted to say no. This was the part of him that was addicted to Sirius’ sweet late-night oaths of affection, that was consistently awed by the unwavering loyalty of Sirius’ friendship,  that was never happier than when he and Sirius sat together in the evenings and recalled the day’s events over beers and takeout. The part that—

“I love you, Sirius.”

Silence louder than any words echoed throughout the flat.

Finally, Sirius laughed uncomfortably. He shifted from foot to foot and ran a shaking hand through his hair. “Remus, I love you too. You’re one of my best mates, of course I—”

Remus should have taken the branch that Sirius was so graciously offering him. Remus should have jumped at the opportunity to pretend that his declaration was one of brotherly affection and not of passion.

But part of Remus was tired. This was the part that vomited in the evenings when it was clear that Sirius would not be returning for the night, that was regularly stood up in favor of better offers, that was forced to smile at and shake hands with the horde of people who were deemed attractive or interesting enough to be invited out on actual dates, while Remus himself was designated to the shadows of their flat.

For that part of himself, Remus said, “You know what I meant.”

“Remus,” Sirius said in a tone that made Remus want to throw the unfinished peanut butter sandwich at his face.

Don’t patronize me.

“I will always love you as a friend, but…what we do here, that’s just sex. It’s always just been sex to me. I mean—I thought we were on the same page.”

“We were,” Remus whispered. “We were on the same page...at the beginning. But it’s not like that for me anymore. I want…”

More.

Sirius pulled at his hair. “I’m just—I don’t want—I’m not interested in being in a relationship. And even if I was…it wouldn’t be with you.”

Though no one had ever punched Remus in the gut, Remus was positive this is what it felt like.

“You and me, we just wouldn’t work. We’re too different. You need someone who will pick up their socks and knows how to set up the coffee pot and actually enjoys doing the crossword puzzle with you in the mornings. And I need someone…”

Better.

“If you and I ever got together we’d most certainly break up disastrously and ruin our friendship, which is the last thing I want to happen.”

No. We wouldn’t want that.

“It just wouldn’t work,” Sirius finished lamely.

Remus hated himself.

He let himself fall into the fantasy. Let himself believe that because Sirius fucked him and let him make his coffee in the mornings that he loved him. Let himself believe that the small instances when Sirius had been slightly jealous or possessive over him were because Sirius cared so much for Remus that he couldn't bear the thought of anyone else having him. Let himself believe that Sirius' endless stream of conquests didn't matter because he still came home to Remus most nights.

But none of this was true.

What was true was that Sirius had used him and Remus couldn't even be mad about it because he had happily let it happen. What was true was that Sirius Black did not care about him so much that he didn’t want to share him—but simply did not share any of his toys. Because that’s all Remus was—a toy. Remus would never be special to Sirius or someone Sirius would consider as an equal partner. What was true was that Remus was just sex and that was all he would ever be.

“Alright,” Remus said in a voice far wispier than he would have preferred. Left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot, do not cry, left foot, right foot.

“Remus,” Sirius called out, almost softly. When Remus paused but didn’t turn around, Sirius said, “I’m sorry.”

Remus raised his head half an inch in acknowledgment and then locked himself in his room.

Chapter Text

Despite his youthful propensity toward careless spending, James Potter had grown into his fortune quite humbly. For example, the home he and Lily had chosen as the place to raise their family was rather modest, at least by Potter standards. Instead of the multi-million dollar estate where James had spent his own childhood, Lily and James had chosen a four bedroom house in a quiet suburb on the outskirts of London.

Still, there were certain luxuries James would never give up.

The main luxury was spoiling his son. James would forever and always be wrapped around Harry Potter’s tiny finger. End of story.

A second luxury was James’ love for travel. James had been greatly shaped by Fleamont and Euphemia Potter’s countless adventures around the globe. It was James’ life goal to eventually travel to every country at least once.

Another luxury was Olly.

Although Remus would never quite get used to the attitude that James, Sirius, and Peter shared towards money, he wholeheartedly agreed that Olly was a luxury that could not be expended.

Even reheated, Olly’s food was magical. It let him forget about his student loans. It let him forget that he was in love with his best friend who would never love him back. It let him forget that he would subsequently have to move out of said best friend’s flat into a grimy studio located in one of the worst parts of London where he would unquestionably be robbed at some point in the near future.

Lily raised her wine glass. “To Olly.”

“To Olly,” James, Sirius, Peter, Remus, and Harry shouted back happily.

After a few minutes of happy eating, Peter let out a small shriek. “I almost forgot to ask! Moony, have you heard back from Dumbledore yet?”

Remus had applied for and received a job as Fabian Prewett’s personal assistant. Fabian mainly needed a second set of eyes while working on his newest textbook on Ancient Greek Comedy. As Remus was working towards a PhD in Classics, this was an invaluable opportunity. Even more importantly, it would give Remus the funds needed to move out of Sirius’ flat. However, Remus certainly did not want to discuss this in front of Sirius, who had no knowledge of Remus’ intentions. Unfortunately, it also wouldn’t do to deflect the question. Marauders were notoriously nosy creatures.

Remus cleared his throat. “Yeah. I, um—I got the job.”

“I knew you’d get it!” Lily exclaimed.

Upon seeing his mother’s excitement, Harry began to clap excitedly.

“Job?” James asked curiously. “I didn’t know you were looking for another job. Did something happen at the library?”

“No,” Remus said quickly. “No, I’ll still be working there on the weekends. I...just needed something that paid more.“

“London rent is no joke,” Peter said over a bite of lasagna.

“What?” Sirius set down his wine glass with a clatter.

James looked equally puzzled. “Are you guys looking to move?”

Remus tried to sound as casual as possible. “I’m just checking some places out right n—”

Sirius abruptly stood from the table, flinging his fork down with more viciousness than it deserved. He grunted, “I’m going out for a cigarette.”

When Sirius was out of the room, James turned back to Remus. “Should we assume Sirius was not informed of your plans?”

Remus looked down to his plate. “I didn’t want to tell him until I had everything figured out.”

“Do you know why he’s so upset?”

Remus shrugged.

It had been exactly three weeks since the incident. In these three weeks, Sirius’ behavior had shifted considerably. Now, Sirius made it a point to bring home a date no less than twice a week. Remus had two theories regarding this behavior. The first theory was that Sirius was diligently making sure not to give Remus false hope for a potential relationship. The second theory was that Sirius now resented Remus and was intentionally (and successfully) trying to drive him to move.

The previous morning, Sirius had pulled Remus aside to tell him that a bird from work was coming over to cook him dinner and he would appreciate it if they could have the flat to themselves for the night. Remus felt that he had shown true restraint in that he neither punched Sirius nor burst into tears.

“I’d better go talk to him.” Ignoring the pricking at the back of his neck, Remus made his way out into the garden.

Sirius did not wait for him to settle into a lounge chair before he asked, “So I’m really the last to know?”

Remus squirmed uncomfortably. “James didn’t know.”

“Only because you knew he’d mention it to me.”

Sirius was not wrong but Remus kept his eyes focused on the rose bush next to Sirius’ feet. “I didn’t want to tell you until I knew that I was definitely moving. I wasn’t sure if I could afford it and I didn’t find out about the job until Monday.”

“Monday? So you had all week to say something and you didn’t? Do you already have a place?”

“I’m still waiting to hear back from some complexes before I decide,” Remus responded calmly.

Sirius threw his cigarette to the ground and smashed it violently. “So you put out applications then! And you’ve been accepted by some of these shitholes! And yes, I know they’re shitholes because that’s all you can afford on your wages.”

“Why do you care?” Remus snapped before he could stop himself, finally looking up at Sirius. “I thought you’d be happy to have the flat to yourself and your harem.”

Sirius narrowed his eyes. “Well I just thought you’d tell the person who’s been your meal ticket all these years that his duties are being relieved.”

Remus was so surprised by the venom in both Sirius’ words and tone that he couldn’t hold back his gasp.

Sirius’ face immediately flushed. He began speaking hastily. “Fuck. No, I’m sorry! Remus I didn’t mean—”

Remus stood up. He said, with as much dignity as he could muster, “I’ll be out on the first of next month. Your duties will be officially relieved then.”

Ignoring all of Sirius’ pleas to turn around, Remus held his head high and walked back inside.

 


 

“So is your name really Remus Lupin?”

“Excuse me?”

“It’s just that—I mean it’s literally Wolf Wolf. It’s weird.”

“That’s rude to say to someone’s face,” Remus said, though he was not particularly offended.

“So you’re not denying that it’s weird.”

“I have a friend,” Remus paused for a beat. “I have a friend named Sirius Black. I think that’s weirder.”

“Okay, I acknowledge that Sirius Black is weird, but it’s still not weirder than Wolf Wolf.”

“Sirius Black is an adjective and a color.”

“First of all, don’t lie, Sirius is a star. Second of all, Wolf Wolf.

Remus sighed and turned back to the computer screen before him.

“I know him by the way.”

“What?”

“I know Sirius Black. Our families are old friends.”

“You’re related to Molly Weasley, right?”

“That’s my big sister!” Fabian’s grin was large.

“I thought I recognized the hair. My nephew goes to her daycare. Do you know James Potter? His son is good friends with Ron.”

“Oh yeah, I’ve met little Harry tons of times. And I think the Potters are technically cousins actually. Did you go to Hogwarts as well?”

“Go Gryffindor.”

“Where dwell the brave at heart! It’s a rather incestuous bunch, our circle, isn’t it?”

That was something Remus had discovered early on in his prep school career. As a scholarship student, Remus had not gone to the same preschools or played on the same polo teams or attended the same (or any) cotillions as his peers. It was a bit overwhelming until James, Sirius, and Peter befriended him and helped acclimate him to the the full complexities of the various familial and social relationships of the young and wealthy.

It was not surprising that Remus was now working with another Hogwarts alumnus. After all, Albus Dumbledore, headmaster of the highly-esteemed boarding school, had been the one to connect Remus with Fabian Prewett.

Fabian spoke again. “If you know Black and Potter, you probably know Pettigrew too.”

“He’s currently in my flat, hiding from his fiance.”

Sirius’ flat, not my flat.

“I don’t think that’s a great marital sign, considering they just sent out their wedding invitations.”

“No, they’re quite happy. He’s just useless at wedding-planning. I say hide, but really he’s been banished there to ensure that he doesn’t muck up the seating arrangement or anything equally important.”

“Oh, I get that. At my brother’s wedding two years ago, someone made the mistake of seating Andromeda Tonks at the same table as Narcissa Malfoy. It wasn’t pretty.”

Remus laughed. He remembered that. Sirius had burst into fits of hysterical guffaws at random times for the rest of the week.

Fabian leaned in close and asked, “Can you keep a secret?” When Remus nodded, Fabian said, “It was me who messed with the seating charts.”

Remus thought that he and Fabian Prewett would get along perfectly.

 


  

“Remus.”

“Yes, Peter?” Remus responded, looking for his untranslated copy of Aristophanes’ Lysistrata. Fabian specifically requested he bring it to their next meeting.

“Remus.”

When Remus had finally boxed up all of his belongings, he was painfully reminded how few things he actually owned. There were not even enough boxes to fill the pickup of the small truck Remus rented for the occasion. And yet, when Remus needed to find something, it was as if he was one of the hoarders on television.

“Remus.”

“What, Peter?” Remus finally turned to look at his friend.

“You can not stay here.”

Remus sighed. “I know it’s not what you guys are used to, but it’s all I can afford.”

“Remus, stay with Sirius. I know you can afford that because it’s free!”

“No.”

It was Peter’s turn to sigh. “I know you guys are fighting about something but—”

“We’re not fighting.” This might have been more believable if Remus didn’t kick one of his cardboard boxes when he said it.

“Move in with me!” Peter exclaimed. “It is also free! Move in with James! Once again, free!”

Remus pointedly ignored Peter as he turned to check a box labeled ‘kitchen shit.’

“Okay how about this. Rent a room from me. I’ll charge you the same amount you’ll pay here, except you won’t have to worry about being eaten by mice while you sleep.”

Remus rubbed his eyes. “How am I expected to grow as an adult if I leech off my friends for the rest of my life?”

“Remus, I am literally afraid your landlord is going to sneak in here in the middle of the night to violate you. I’m not exaggerating or trying to be funny. It is a serious concern of mine.”

It was a serious concern of Remus’ as well but he wouldn’t admit that out loud. Instead, he asked, “Where’d James go anyway?”

“Probably to try and get your deposit back. He said he refuses to help you unpack because he refuses to let you move in here.”

“Wormtail, I appreciate the sentiments. I do. But I’m a grown man and am moving in here whether you like it or not.”

“Remus?”

“Yes?”

“I think the cockroaches carried away the book you’re looking for.”

“There are no cockroaches!”

---

Many hours later, when the last of the boxes had been unpacked and the last of the pizza eaten, Remus laid under his covers and ruminated on the events of the past few weeks.

Remus had a job that he enjoyed with a boss that he liked.

For the first time in his life, Remus had a living space that was entirely his own.

Despite the fact that he had probably ruined his relationship with Sirius beyond repair, Remus still had best friends that loved and supported him.

I’m going to be all right.

Remus couldn’t have known, that across town in a much nicer flat in a much nicer neighborhood, an equally restless Sirius Black was whispering the same words of encouragement to himself. Like Remus, Sirius wished he believed them.

 



With a stomach full of butterflies, Remus hit Confirm.

Remus had always been shy. When he was a small child and his mother took him to the park, he’d sit beside her and read his picture books until it was time to go home. That basically summed up the way he approached the rest of his twenty five years of life.

Putting himself out there was not something he was comfortable with.

At Hogwarts, he’d had one girlfriend named Violet Jones that he’d known since he was eleven but didn’t date until sixth year. When he started university, Remus had a boyfriend that he met at Freshman orientation and proceeded to date until graduation. When that ended, Remus did not date anyone until he started sleeping with Sirius, who of course had been his best friend for the previous twelve years.

Remus wasn’t sure he was even capable of dating someone he hadn’t known for a significant amount of time. He didn’t think that the questions the site asked were enough to get an appropriate impression of an individual.

Ping.

Remus jumped. He didn’t expect to get messaged so fast.

Ping.

Another one!

Ping.

As he looked over the pictures of a Mr. Kingsley Shacklebolt, Remus thought online dating might not be so bad after all.

   



“So have you also been invited to the most prestigious social event of the year?”

Remus hummed. “Probably. I’m quite a hot commodity these days, I’ll have you know.”

“Cockiness doesn’t suit you, Lupin.”

“Jealousy doesn’t suit you, Prewett.”

“Guy goes on one date with a male model and thinks he’s Miss Universe.”

“Kingsley told me I have the face of an angel. He would know—he’s professionally beautiful.”

“Personally, I don’t see it.”

“Some girls are just prettier than others, Prewett.”

“Is this what you guys do all day?” a female voice cut in.

Remus and Fabian were both caught off guard by the sudden intrusion. They were both used to the solitude of Fabian’s dingy office.

“Hi Marlene,” Remus greeted.

Marlene McKinnon was an undergrad that worked as a receptionist in the office of the Classics Department.

“Hi Remus, hi Fabian.” She said. “I just came to drop off some files. They’re from Professor Callaway.” She handed them to Fabian.

Although Fabian smiled at her widely, he remained quiet.

After a few beats of awkward silence, Remus finally said, “Thank you, Marlene.”

“No problem. Bye Remus. Bye Fabian.”

A few seconds after she disappeared, Fabian said, “Bye.”

Remus narrowed his eyes at Fabian. “You okay there, buddy?”

Fabian seemed to have shaken himself out of his stupor. “So are you going or not?” he asked.

“Going where?”

“To the most prestigious social event of the year. Keep up.”

Remus thought that was rich coming from the person who had gone mute at the mere presence of a beautiful woman. This whole situation was particularly strange because Fabian had a (well-earned) reputation for being a rather charming bachelor.

Like Sirius.

Remus would investigate more at a later time.

“What event is this again? I have so many.”

“The annual Weasley Daycare musical theater production.”

“Oh yes,” Remus said. “How could I miss this year’s rendition of King Lear?”

“I myself am looking forward to the lecture the twins are giving afterwards on the concept of insanity.”

In reality, the children were doing Cinderella. Harry would be playing Gus Gus the mouse, and Remus was actually quite excited to see him in his little grey footie costume.

“I’m looking forward to the red carpet.” Remus pouted his lips. “I’ve been practicing my poses.”

“At least something good came out of your brush with fame,” Fabian said, turning back to his computer. “Maybe Marky Mark was right and you can book a big campaign, earn us some money, get away from your roommates.”

“Roommates?”

“The cockroaches.”

“There are not cockroaches in my apartment,” Remus said in what was most definitely not a growl. The scuttering he heard in the middle of the night came from the wind, that was all.

“Uh huh. And the men that hang out in front of your building sell baked goods, right?”

Does cooking meth count as baking?

“Yes. They sell baked goods.”

Fabian snorted.

Remus narrowed his eyes. “You’re a classist.”

“I will have you know that I did not see a dime of my trust fund until I turned twenty-five. I worked my way through university same as you, Lupin.” Though Fabian’s tone was joking, Remus could tell he had hit a soft spot.

Instead of pointing out the fact that Fabian had a trust fund at all, Remus responded, “Then you should be able to commiserate with me.”

“I am commiserating with you! I tease because I’ve been there.”

“Whatever.”

They worked in comfortable silence for fifteen minutes.

“The cockroaches probably only come out at night anyway, right?”

“There are no cockroaches!”

 


 

“Remus, at least think about it?”

“Lily, I don’t want to go out with a random man from your yoga class,” Remus groaned.

“But he’s so cool! I swear you’ll like him.” Lily was practically bouncing in her seat from excitement. “He is a bit older. But really forty is the new thirty, and I’ve always said you were an old soul anyway—”

“No.”

“Remus, don’t be an ageist! You wanted to be in a serious relationship, right? Well this is the kind of guy who’s going to give you what you want.”

I wanted a Sirius relationship, Remus thought to himself and then immediately cringed. “I don’t need you to set me up,” Remus said firmly. “I do fine on my own.”

This was not strictly true. Despite the fact that they hit it off well, Remus’ affair with Kingsley Shacklebolt was short-lived due to Kingsley’s hectic work schedule. After that ended, Remus had not found much time to date between his studies, work for Fabian, and shifts at the library.

Lily would have undoubtedly called Remus out on his lie if not for the fact that the sound of the front door opening echoed into the kitchen. A moment later, James and Harry entered looking sunkissed and happy.

“My boys!” Lily exclaimed, holding out her arms to Harry.

“Hi Mama!” he exclaimed and gave her a quick hug before catapulting himself into Remus’ arms. “Moomoo!” he yelled. “Wook what we gots fo you!”

“Hi Prongslet!”

“This fo you,” Harry said, holding up a bright blue seashell. “Unca Pafoo founded it. He sayed you like seashells and you don’t gots one like it!”

As a child of the seaside, Remus had spent much of his youth scouring the shore for shells. It was a beloved tradition in the Lupin household. Remus treasured his collection, more so now that his mother had passed on. “That was very thoughtful,” Remus said, “I love it.”

Harry happily wiggled in Remus’ lap.

---

Remus laid awake in bed later that night, restless and uneasy.

Text him. Say thank you for the shell.

Remus had spent two months pretending like everything was alright, like he was alright and that his new job and new apartment were the gateway to a new life, a better life.

And a tiny blue seashell would bring the whole thing down.

Remus was well aware of their pattern. He would get mad at Sirius and then Sirius would do something tooth-rotteningly sweet and Remus would forget that he was mad at him. This was always the problem, and why it was so hard for Remus to say no to Sirius. Because to give up bad Sirius was to give up good Sirius, to give up friend Sirius.

And, their weird parasitic sexual relationship aside, Sirius was above all one of the best friends anyone could ask for.

In their early years at least, before Remus had grown to be rather well-liked and James and Sirius had reached their full scope of popularity and the Marauders in general had gathered a reputation as ones not to cross, Sirius had taken on the role of Remus’ protector. He was never ashamed to be friends with the poor scholarship kid who didn’t know much about etiquette or cotillions or the like. Never hesitated to brawl with a peer that made a nasty comment towards Remus.

How could Remus ever forget that?

Forget that Sirius eagerly let Remus live with him rent free, not for sex, but because he genuinely wanted to make Remus, buried in student debt already, live a little easier.

But this was how Remus got confused. This is how he had let himself fall into the fantasy. Sirius wanted to be a friend and not a boyfriend.

Maybe if Remus was able to make that distinction—maybe then they could go back to the way things were. He did not need to text Sirius thank you. Sirius was innocently sharing memories with baby Harry about his Uncle Moony. That was it. This was friend Sirius.

Remus would learn the distinction.

Chapter Text

“You need to make up with Sirius.”

Remus looked up from the piece of apple pie before him. “What?”

James sighed and ran a hand through his hair.

“You look like Edward Scissorhands’ ugly cousin when you do that,” Remus told him.

“While we’re telling lies, go ahead and make an excuse for why you haven’t spoken to Sirius in the past four months.”

“I’ve been really busy with work and school.”

“Is that your final answer?”

“It’s the true answer.”

“Ding, ding, ding! Wrong!” Before Remus could cut in to defend himself, James began speaking again. “I know you’re lying because I see plenty of you. Peter sees plenty of you. I think you spend more time here than at your own flat.”

“I told you, the water in my flat only runs at certain times of the day,” Remus muttered.

“Remus, Sirius misses you.”

“No, he really doesn’t.”

“The man is a mess. He doesn’t know what to do with himself.”

"I'm sure he has plenty to do," Remus scoffed. According to Fabian, Sirius had been working his way through the society circle at an impressive rate.

James groaned. “Remus, he broke the vase.

Though Remus’ heart rate quickened, he maintained a cool tone when he asked, “What vase?”

James narrowed his eyes. “The vase that you gave him as a gift when you moved in together five years ago. The vase that he loves .”

“If he loved it so much why didn’t he ever put it out?” Remus snapped. “He kept it in his bedroom. He didn’t love it. It was ugly and I bought it at a garage sale for five dollars. I’m sure that he only kept it because he was too lazy to throw it out.”

“Moony, he loved that vase so much that he kept it locked in his bedroom because he didn’t want anything to happen to it.”

“That’s no way to treat a vase. Vases are supposed to be filled with daisies and roses and set on the coffee table for everyone to see and enjoy.”

“Maybe the vase was so special to him that he hadn’t found the right place for it yet.”

“Well that doesn’t matter now because it’s broken and he gets to go find newer, prettier vases.”

“Okay, I think we’ve really travelled far from this allegory.”

“James, can we please stop now?”

“Remus, do you know what happened the morning after he broke the vase?”

“No and I don’t care.”

“He came into work an hour late, in the same rumpled clothes he wore the day before, with his fingers covered in bandages.”

“I said I don’t ca-”

“He stayed up all night hot glueing the damn vase back together.”

Remus kept his eyes focused on his pie. Finally, he said, “But the vase will never be the same as it was.”

James exhaled slowly. “No, it won’t. But maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe it’ll be stronger now with all the hot glue Sirius used to fix it. Maybe the cracks will always remind Sirius that he needs to be careful with the things he loves if he doesn’t want to lose them.”

“You’re right. This isn’t a good allegory.”

James ran his hand through his hair again. “Please, just try.

Remus sighed, and turned back to his pie.

 


 

 

“Veto on the lobster puffs.”

“You don’t get a veto, Prewett.”

“I’m the guest of honor and I don’t get a veto?”

“Why would you be the guest of honor?”

“Because I’m the Best Man’s boss and can tell him to dance like a monkey at my leisure.”

Remus paused. “Okay, you’re the guest of honor. But what’s wrong with lobster puffs?”

“Lucretia Rosier served lobster puffs at her daughter’s debutante ball last month. That’s what’s wrong with lobster puffs. Tell Pettigrew to serve caviar on blinis.”

Seemingly appearing out of thin air, Marlene drawled, “Oh, to be a member of the aristocracy.”

Remus hadn’t heard the word “aristocracy” be uttered so viciously since the semester he took a class on 18th century French history. He felt the sudden need to defend himself. “I’m not a member of the aristocracy,” he said. “I live on Sugar street.”

Marlene snorted. “I just came to drop off some of your mail, Prewett.” She was so used to Fabian’s silence by this point that she didn’t wait for a response before leaving.

Remus sighed. “You’re an embarrassment to the team.”

After some loose digging, Remus discovered that Fabian had a crush on Marlene. Apparently the crush was so strong that it rendered Fabian incapable of speaking like a normal human in front of her. The reasons why Fabian was attracted to Marlene were no mystery; she was good looking, incredibly smart, and had a sharp sense of humor. What was a mystery was why Fabian was so afraid of her. He also was good looking, incredibly smart, and had a sharp sense of humor. At least in the time Remus had known him, Fabian had never had any trouble charming the pants off anyone.

“To be honest, I don’t get why you don’t just ask her out.” Remus understood the fear of rejection all too well, but he didn’t think Fabian had anything in particular to lose if the situation didn’t work out.

“Well first of all, we work together,” Fabian said.

Remus rolled his eyes. “She drops off your mail maybe twice a week. I don’t think the integrity of either of your work will be compromised if the relationship goes south.”

“I meant that it would be awkward to have to see her if she said no.”

“Did I mention she drops off your mail maybe twice a week? And in case you haven’t realized, there are two other receptionists down there that I assume are equally capable of handling your US Weekly subscriptions.” Remus perked up. “ Also , don’t you think it’s funny that neither of them have ever come down to your office before? This whole time… I think it’s a good sign.”

Fabian shook his head. “Just a coincidence.”

“There are no such things.”

“She’s too young for me.”

“Age ain’t nothing but a number, darlin’.”

“She hates the aristocracy.”

“You worked your way through college, remember?”

Fabian turned back to his computer.

Ten minutes went by before Remus spoke again. “Well, I’m off.”

“What?” Fabian exclaimed, looking at the clock above Remus’ head. “It’s five already? Why does it seem like we never get any work done? What do I pay you for?”

“Hey, you’re the one who wanted to argue about lobster puffs and caviar on crackers.”

“Blinis, Lupin, Blinis. You’ll never catch yourself an aristocrat at this rate.”

Remus had just exited the elevator on the first floor when a sudden idea came to him. Instead of making a right towards the exit, he made a left towards the main office.

If Fabian wasn’t ready to make a step towards Marlene, then Remus would just have to sneakily give him a little push. He was a Marauder, after all.

 


 

 

At seven o'clock on friday night, Remus was very excited for his date with Gilderoy Lockhart. In the two weeks they had been chatting online, they discussed everything from literature to politics to their career aspirations. Gilderoy was someone Remus could see himself potentially forming a deep connection with.

At eight o'clock on friday night, Remus was very confused.

There was no question of Gilderoy being a catfish. The man that met Remus in front of the sushi restaurant looked exactly like the man Remus had been messaging. Gilderoy had the same blond locks, blue eyes, and symmetrical grin that Remus had grown fond of.

But there were other concerns.

“... well I could’ve taken the role, of course, but it just wasn’t fulfilling. An Oscar just wasn’t worth it. I’d much rather spend my time in macadamia. I’ve gotten several offers for teaching positions, from the very best schools, of course, but I’m still looking for an environment that really suits the Lockhart agenda.” For the first time of the night, Gilderoy took a pause.

Remus was still so focused on “macadamia” that he didn’t notice Gilderoy had asked him a question. “I’m sorry, what?” Remus asked, taking a sip of water.

“You were lost in my eyes, weren’t you?”

Remus choked on his water.

Gilderoy didn’t notice. He said: “Don’t worry, sweetheart, I’m used to it.” Then he winked.

“...What were you trying to ask me before?”

“What do you do?”

This further raised Remus’ suspicions. Their careers were one of the topics Remus and Gilderoy had covered in depth. The only explanation Remus could come up with for this strange behavior was that Gilderoy had been messaging several people at the same time, and forgot the details of each interaction. However, this theory still did not explain the inconsistencies between online-Gilderoy and in-person-Gilderoy’s mannerisms.

Remus cleared his throat and began speaking. “I’m currently working towards a PhD in Classics-”

Gilderoy laughed so widely that Remus could see each one of his straight, white teeth. “Well it’s a good thing you’re so pretty then. Not much work in the Classics field, is there?”

Remus had heard this criticism countless times and been unaffected, but something about the way Gilderoy said it made Remus want to throw a breadstick at him. Remus fought this urge, and forced out a laugh. “What’s the only thing more useless than an English degree? A Classics degree.”

Gilderoy frowned. “I’ll have you know that I am a big supporter of literature. I’m actually working on a novel right now. All the people who have read it, and these are the people that are experts, of course, have said that it will undoubtedly be the next great English novel.”

“Oh,” Remus said. “What’s it about?”

“I’ll tell you what it’s about if you promise not to be naughty and try to steal my idea.” Gilderoy winked. “I’d have to punish you.” Another wink.

Remus didn’t know what to say, so he said nothing.

But this was no problem because Gilderoy did not have trouble holding a one-man conversation. He said, “So it centers on a woman- I’m all about equal representation, of course- who was part of an all-female assassination squad. But here’s the twist: her partners betray her. She spends the rest of the novel getting her revenge by killing them off one by one.”

“… So it’s like Kill Bill.

Gilderoy frowned again. “Never heard of it .

Remus opened his mouth but then closed it. Eventually, he said: “That’s a very good idea, Gilderoy. I’m surprised you didn’t mention it in our messages.”

“Well, I naturally couldn’t trust that kind of information with my assistant.”

Remus tried to make sense of Gilderoy’s words. He couldn’t. “What do you mean?”

“You’ve been messaging my personal assistant.”

“... What? Why?”

“Oh you silly thing. I have way too many important things on my plate to chat with people myself. I just pick the people that would look good next to me and let my assistant take it from there.”

“Oh.” Remus had never been reverse-Catfished before, so he didn’t know what the appropriate reaction was, but he was not terribly upset.

His main concern was online-Gilderoy. Previously, the only fault Remus had with online-Gilderoy was that he would burst out into intense, random fits of anger directed towards his “idiot boss.” Remus thought he should probably warn in-person-Gilderoy about online-Gilderoy’s increasing number of murder “jokes.”

Well, maybe not.

 


 

 

Thanks to Remus’ careful scheming, a decent chunk of his colleagues and the Marauders minus Sirius had collected at a local bar for drinks and a good time.

James and Fabian were arguing about college basketball when Marlene walked in with a few friends. Fabian spilled his drink on himself.

“I hate you, Lupin.”

“I’ve created a scenario in which you can karaoke ‘I Will Always Love You’ to Marlene. I’m your best friend right now.”

“You’ve created a scenario in which I will definitely make a fool of myself in front of Marlene. You are a bastard.” Fabian rushed to the restroom to try and clean himself up.

Peter asked: “Speaking of karaoke, where’s Padfoot?”

James took a long sip of his beer and eventually responded: “He’s on a date.”

Peter snorted. “I should have guessed.” A few minutes later, Peter spoke again, this time much more confused. “Wait, if we’re here, and Lily and Mary are at the ballet, and Sirius is on a date, where’s Harry?”

James took another long sip of his beer. Remus and Peter exchanged wondering glances when he didn’t stop and kept chugging.

“You didn’t forget him at home, did you?” Remus asked.

James finally put his beer down. “He’s with Sirius,” he grumbled.

Peter’s eyebrows shot up. “But you just said he’s on a date…”

James sighed. “Sirius took Harry to the zoo with his date.”

Remus jerked so fast that he almost knocked his drink over.

“You lie,” Peter said.

I solemnly swear.

“Wow.” Peter let out a low whistle. “Is our Padfoot growing up?”

Remus could feel the nachos he’d eaten earlier that evening churn in his stomach. He stood up quickly. “I’m gonna- go say hi to some people.” Then he ran towards an exit.

When he reached the cool air of the street, he allowed himself to hyperventilate.

Sirius took a date to the zoo with Harry. Harry . The most precious thing in Sirius’ life. Harry, who none of Sirius’ dates were even allowed to breath near. A memory rushed to Remus’ mind.

One night, long before Remus and Sirius started sleeping together, Sirius had a bloke over to their flat after a date. It was snowing severely outside, and James had gotten into a car accident that left one of his arms broken. When Lily phoned in a panic to say that she was dropping Harry off so she could go to the hospital, Sirius kicked his date out.

Sirius kicked the man- transportation less and still drunk- out into a severe snowstorm at two in the morning because he didn’t want one-year-old Harry (who would not remember the man and even if he did could have easily slept in Remus’ room and avoided him altogether) to form any kind of attachment to him.

Sirius did not let anyone near Harry.

But Sirius had let this date spend time with Harry. Invited the date to their special Godfather-Godson bonding time.

I’m not interested in being in a relationship. And even if I was… it wouldn’t be with you.

Remus took a deep breath. Sirius had not lied to Remus. Had not led him to believe that he never wanted to settle down with anyone. He clearly said that it was Remus he didn’t want to settle down with.

And what did Remus expect? For Sirius to change his mind after all these months and come running back to him? Why would he?

And wasn’t the whole point of moving out and dating and making new friends to move on from Sirius? Remus should not even want Sirius back.

He would not let himself get upset. He would-

“Are you alright?”

Remus looked up from his perch against the wall and put on a fake smile. “I’m fine. I think I’ve just had a few too many. I’m a bit of a lightweight.”

“Yeah, I’m not much of a drinker myself, so when I do drink I’m a bit of a mess. I came out here to get some air,” Benjy Fenwick, an English T.A. at the university and Marlene's best friend, said as he crouched down to sit beside Remus.

Remus quirked an eyebrow. “A bit of a mess?”

“Yup,” Benjy said. “I go crazy. I dance on tables. Throw up in bushes. Get into fist-fights with the engineering majors. What can I say? I’m a party animal.”

Remus smiled, this time authentically. “For a party animal, you are neither slurring your words nor stumbling around. Also, you don’t smell an ounce like alcohol.”

Benjy smiled sheepishly back at Remus. “You caught me. I haven’t had a drink tonight. Uh, I saw you hightail it out of there, so I thought… I thought it was my chance to chat you up. In hindsight, this is probably not a great time because you’re clearly upset. I’ll just leave you alone.”

As he started to stand up, Remus put a hand on his arm to stop him. “Stay,” Remus said. “I’d like for you to chat me up.”

“I have to warn you, I’m not a male model or the next great English author.”

Remus scowled. “Does Fabian just share my dating life with everyone?”

“He says you- these are his words- amuse him like a dancing monkey at the circus.”

“That son of a bitch.”

“Moony!”

Both Remus and Benjy jumped at the sudden sound.

Peter came forward and nodded a polite hello to Benjy. Then he said: “The ballet finished and Mary wants me home. Did you still need a ride?”

“Yeah, just hold on a second?”

When Peter made his way inside, Remus pulled his phone out of his pocket. “Can I have your number?”

He would move on.

Chapter Text

Weasley’s Daycare was located at Molly and Arthur Weasley’s home just outside of London. Though it was modest, it was located on a massive plot of family land and was large enough to satisfy the needs of the equally large family.

On the night of the play, the backyard was decorated with fairy lights, pumpkins, and pretty hand crafted lanterns.  Molly had taken Polaroids of each of the twenty children in the play and arranged them on a large bulletin board with their names and a short bio. There was a refreshment table overflowing with Molly’s own mouth-watering creations as well as treats brought by other parents. A stage built specially for the occasion sat with several rows of seats before it, waiting for the young thespians to make their entrance.

Harry, always a little ham just like his daddy, had happily posed for countless pictures in his tiny mouse costume. If the entire play was a mess from start to finish, seeing Harry shake his little felt tail while he sang along to “Bibbity Bobbity Boo” would make the entire thing worth it.

It should have been a beautiful night.

“I’m glad you could make it, Belinda,” Lily said warmly.

Belinda laced a hand through Sirius’. They looked so beautiful together that it made Remus want to jam the stick from his cake pop into his eye.

She said, “I’m glad too. Sirius talks about you guys all the time. I’ve been looking forward to meeting you.”

Peter looked up from the cupcake in his hand. “We’re excited to meet you too. You’re a bit of a rarity, you see. No one’s managed to catch this guy’s eye for longer than a minute yet.”

“Stop embarrassing him, Wormtail,” James said hastily.

“Yeah, Petey,” Mary swatted Peter playfully, “You’ll scare the poor thing off. So what do you do again, Belinda?”

“I manage a dog shelter,” Belinda responded.

Of course her job is working with Sirius’ favorite animals all fucking day.

“Sirius loves dogs!” Peter exclaimed.

“That’s how we met,” Belinda explained happily. “He came in looking to adopt. He connected with Snuffles right away.” She smiled at Sirius adoringly. Belinda was always smiling. It bothered Remus.

“Which pet store is it?” James asked.

Turning her attention back to the group, Belinda answered, “It’s called Marie’s Rescue. It’s on the corner of Sugar and First street.”

“Remus lives on Sugar,” Peter said, eyeing Remus with disappointment. Even though it had been five months and Remus had not been robbed or eaten by mice yet, Peter still offered Remus a room in his flat on a weekly basis.

“And you still have your shoes?” Belinda laughed.

So she’s making fun of my street now?

Remus forced himself to laugh. “To be honest, I don’t have much worth stealing and I think it shows.”

Having managed to engage Remus for the first time that evening, Belinda quickly said: “Sirius tells me that you’re still in school?”

James jumped in, “Our Remus is on his way to becoming an expert on Ancient Rome!”

“I’m working towards my PhD,” Remus explained. “I’m not so sure about the expert thing.”

“That’s not what Sirius says,” Belinda told him kindly. “He says that you can go off into analysis of the Metamorphoses at the drop of a hat!”

So he’s complaining about me now?

Remus smiled tightly, but didn’t say anything else.

Belinda continued talking. “And with a name like that! I think it was written in the stars that you study Rome.”

So she’s making fun of my name now?

Belinda went on to say, “I must say I have a lot of admiration for you. It’s not easy working your way through those school loans. But I’m sure all your hard work will pay off soon.”

Remus suddenly felt guilty for his unkind thoughts.

It’s not her fault that Sirius doesn’t want you.

“Thank you,” Remus said, putting on his most friendly smile, “So has Sirius forced you onto Elvendork yet?”

Belinda grinned. “I wouldn’t say he forced me. I’m quite keen on motorbikes. Been thinking of getting one myself, actually.”

Of course she has.

“Really?” Peter asked. “I’m glad Sirius has found someone who doesn’t mind splitting his affections.”

Belinda laughed and it sounded like bells ringing.

Wait. No. That was an actual bell.

Arthur’s voice echoed out through the speakers. “If you could all take your seats. The show will begin shortly.”

The crowd of parents and other supporters made a shuffle from the patio to the stage. Remus took the aisle seat with the intention of not being squashed next to James or Lily, who would undoubtedly be squirming every second Harry was onstage. However, Sirius somehow ended up in the seat next to him, which was worse.

Remus would have panicked more if he didn’t feel a sudden presence lean next to his head. It was Fabian, who had taken the seat directly behind him.

Without preamble, Fabian said: “Twenty pounds says at least one of those kids falls off stage.”

“You know, you have quite the sadistic streak in you.”

“Fifty pounds says it’s Longbottom.”

“You’re a mean son of a bitch, Prewett.”

“Don’t pretend you weren’t thinking it, Lupin.”

“I was not! I have faith in little Neville.”

“Enough faith to bet fifty pounds on it?”

“Erm…all my money's tied up in the stock market right now.”

“Hah!”

“Fine! If I had more than twelve pounds in my bank account, I’d bet it on Neville.”

“Well the joke’s on you because I built that stage so I know firsthand how shitty it is. No codes were followed. No experts consulted. I guarantee at least one of those kids is coming off.”

“I could literally have you arrested for child endangerment right now.”

“But then you wouldn’t have a job. You’d have to exchange your body for rent money. You’d be Greyback’s bitch.”

“Whoa, no need to get nasty. We could still work together while you’re in prison.”

Fabian smiled. “You’d visit me?”

“No, I meant that we could send notes through the post.”

“We couldn’t talk on the phone?”

“Those collect calls would add up.”

“Would you at least buy me cigarettes to trade for street cred?”

“If you’d stop calling me your dancing monkey I’d consider it.”

“And all this time I thought you liked it when I called you my-”

“Shush.“

Remus and Fabian were both startled by the sound. Remus was even more startled when he realized it came from Sirius.

“The show’s about to start,” Sirius muttered but didn’t look at them. This was one of the only things he had said all night, and was certainly the only thing he had said to Remus. In fact, it was the first thing Sirius had said to Remus since their last conversation in James’ garden months ago.

Fabian grimaced, mouthed “fifty pounds,” and then settled into his seat.

Remus inched as far away from Sirius as he could, and tried to enjoy the show.

 


 

 

Remus could hear voices as he approached Fabian’s office.

“I disagree.”

“Okay, I admit Kalani has strong technique, but Maddie has the it-factor. There’s just a grace to her that the others lack. You either have it or you don’t.”

“I acknowledge that Maddie does have a certain indefinable quality about her, but Kalani clearly has better legs and feet. You can’t beat ballet training, Prewett.”

“You’re entitled to your wrong opinion.”

“I’m not wr-” Marlene cut off her sentence as soon as Remus entered the room. To his immense surprise, she was perched on top of Fabian’s desk.

She didn’t wait for him to sit down before she asked: “How was the date?”

Remus had spent the previous Saturday night on a date with Benjy. Apparently, Marlene had spent roughly the same amount of time trying to set Remus up with Benjy that Remus had spent trying to set her up with Fabian.

“It was nice,” Remus responded, beginning to set up his laptop.

“Yeah, he said he had a great time too. You guys are going out again on Wednesday, right?”

“Yup,” Remus responded. A little belatedly, he added, “I’m really excited.”

“Good, he’s excited too. And- shit, I need to get back.” She narrowed her eyes at Fabian. “We’ll get back to this later.”

“I look forward to hearing more of your wrong opinions.”

Marlene sighed, but didn’t say anything else before leaving.

As soon as the sound of her footsteps disappeared, Remus spat, “What the fuck was that?”

“Oh, we were talking about Dance Moms. She just doesn’t see reason. Maddie is obviously the best-”

“You were talking.

“Yes.”

“Please don’t act like you don’t turn into Dopey the Dwarf every time she comes within ten feet.”

“She’s a lesbian.”

“What?”

“I asked her out and she told me that she likes the ladies.”

“Oh.”

“Yup.”

“I honestly don’t know how to react.”

“It was a bit of a curve ball for me as well.”

“So that means you can talk in front of her now?”

“Well, I’m not concerned about trying to impress her, so yes.”

Remus pondered this for a moment. “At least I don’t have to get secondhand embarrassment from watching you make a fool of yourself in front of her anymore.”

“Must you mock me at this difficult time?”

“You’re right. Is there anything I can do for you?”

“Yes. Get me the number of the girl that was with your little ragtag team at the play the other week.”

“Lily’s taken. It worries me that you haven’t caught on to that by now.”

“I meant the one that was sitting between Black and Pettigrew.”

“Oh,” Remus said in surprise. “She was, um, with Sirius.”

“Well it’s been two weeks, I’m sure she’s free now.”

“No, they’re like... datingorwhatever.”

“Hey, if you’re after her yourself-”

“Really.”

“I don’t believe you.”

“It’s true.”

“I’ve known Sirius Black since before he was born,” Fabian scoffed. “He doesn’t date people for longer than a weekend.”

When did the responsibility of relaying Sirius’ dating adventures befall to Remus?

Trying not to scowl, he responded, “He does now, Prewett. Sorry, she’s taken.”

“Okay.” Fabian shrugged. “So how was the date?”

“It was fine,” Remus murmured, looking down to rummage around in his satchel for a pen.

Fine? ” Fabian questioned suspiciously.

It had not been a bad date. Benjy was not a bad guy.

He was certainly attractive enough. They discussed their childhoods growing up on the seaside. They playfully argued about books they had both read. At the movie, they laughed at all the same parts.

And that was what Remus wanted.

Someone who would pick up their socks and knew how to work the coffee pot and actually enjoyed doing the crossword puzzle with him in the mornings.

Benjy would do all of those things.

“It was fine, ” Remus repeated firmly.

 


 

 

When Remus heard the knock at his door, his insides felt like they were shriveling up inside him.

His friends rarely visited his apartment (for obvious reasons). If they did, they certainly let him know beforehand so that he could undo all his locks in time for them to come straight in and not have to wait in the hallway (for obvious reasons).

This meant that the person knocking had to be someone in the building, and that someone was most likely his landlord, Fenrir Greyback.

Greyback made up various excuses to visit Remus on a regular basis. Remus actually spent very little time in his apartment, so he was mostly able to avoid Greyback and his lecherous gaze. However, the apartment was so small and the walls so thin that it was hard to pretend that he wasn’t home when he actually was.

Remus sighed and made his way to the door. He sluggishly began undoing the assortment of  locks that James had payed to have installed. Remus had not fought James over the gift.

When Remus finally got the door open, he fought the urge to close it again.

“Hi,” Sirius greeted awkwardly.

“Hi,” Remus responded, just as awkwardly.

They stood in awkward silence for a moment, but Remus was too uneager to be exposed to the elements of his building to stay that way for long.

“Come in,” he said, noticing for the first time that Sirius was holding a cardboard box.

Sirius began speaking hurriedly. “I cleaned out the flat and found a bunch of your stuff. I’ve been meaning to return it to you.”

Remus looked inside the box. There were a few books that he had lent Sirius. Some albums he remembered that he forgot but wasn’t sure how to ask for back. Various doodads that he had collected over the years. And there were a lot of sweaters.

Remus mumbled, more to himself than to Sirius, “How did I forget so many of my sweaters?”

Sirius cleared his throat uncomfortably. “They were probably mixed with my dirty clothes when you left.”

“Oh,” Remus mumbled. “Thank you for returning them.”

“You’re welcome.”

Neither of them made any move to sit. Then Remus realized that it was his apartment so it was probably up to him to offer a seat.

“Would you like a cup of tea?”

When Sirius nodded yes, Remus indicated that he take a seat at the table, and then set up the kettle. He sat down across from Sirius.

A minute passed.

Should Remus just address the elephant in the room?

“Belinda liked you a lot,” Sirius said.

Oh.

Remus took a breath. “She’s very sweet. I liked her too.”

“Thank you for being so nice to her.”

Remus focused his eyes on the kettle. “I had no reason not to be nice to her.”

Another minute passed.

“It’s been getting warmer latel-”

“So you and Prewett, huh?”

Remus did not quite understand the implication. “What do you mean?” He asked, finally meeting Sirius’ eyes.

“Are you guys a thing now?”

“Oh,” Remus said, taken aback. “No. We’ve been working together on his manuscript for the past five months. He’s become a good friend though.”

“He’s kind of a playboy, you know.”

“Yes,” Remus agreed, indeed knowing.

“I- I just thought you’d like to know before things get too far.”

“Well, like I said, he’s just a friend.”

“A good friend.”

“Yes,” Remus responded.

“I heard the way you were talking to each other,” Sirius said, far more accusing than a man in his position ought to be.

“Like good friends?” Remus retorted.

Sirius rolled his eyes. “He called you his little monkey.”

“No, he called me his dancing monkey.”

Sirius snorted. “Is that better?”

“Yes!” Remus rose to his feet, indignant in the way only Sirius could make him. He was embarrassed to feel blood rush to his face.  “Dancing monkey is a joke. Like, haha, I’m your boss so I can make you dance like-”

“You are so fucking cute ,” Sirius growled before he jumped to his feet and pulled Remus into a kiss.

Remus wished he could say that he immediately pushed Sirius away and ordered him out of his apartment.

But he couldn’t say that because he did not even slightly hesitate before lacing his hands through Sirius’ hair and pulling him as close as was physically possible. He moaned as their tongues met in a rhythm they knew all too well.

Always handsy, Sirius did not waste time before grabbing Remus’ arse and squeezing tightly.

Also always handsy, Remus did not waste time before roaming his hands under Sirius’ shirt to grope his abs. Remus loved Sirius’ abs.

Sirius pulled away and inhaled deeply. “I missed you,” he said and then began sucking on his favorite spot on Remus’ neck.

Remus groaned. “I missed you too.” He removed his hands from Sirius’ abs to unbuckle Sirius’ pants.

“I need you,” Sirius said before reclaiming Remus’ mouth.

Many moments later, when Remus managed to get a gasp of air, he said: “Then take me.”

They had began to stumble towards Remus’ bed when Sirius’ phone went off. Sirius pulled it out of his pocket and turned it off hastily. Sirius was quick, but the close proximity between the two men allowed Remus to clearly see “Belinda” flash across the screen.

Although this was the first time in five months that Remus’s apartment felt like home, although he felt like he would die from the tension coiled in his belly, although rejecting Sirius was something completely foreign and unnatural to him- Remus pushed Sirius away.

Sirius’ hand twitched toward Remus, but he stayed where he stood.

“I think we should stop,” Remus said firmly.

“Yeah,” Sirius croaked out. He took a few steps back. “You’re right.”

After a few beats of awkward silence, Remus said: “Thanks for bringing my stuff back.”

Sirius took the hint, and made his way to the door. “Of course. Um, I guess I’ll see you next weekend.”

Next weekend was Peter’s wedding.

“Yes,” Remus muttered. After a few minutes, he had the locks undone and the door open. “I’ll see you then.”

Sirius gave him a weak smile and turned to leave. However, before he made it even halfway towards the stairs, he stopped. With a deep breath, he said. “I meant it when I said I miss you. Not just for… that. I miss talking to you. I miss being friends.”

Remus wasn’t sure how to respond, so he settled for telling the truth. “I miss being friends too.” Sirius smiled at him so brightly that Remus remembered how easily he’d fallen in love with him in the first place. Not that he could ever forget.

When Sirius was finally gone, Remus was too distracted to even do up all his locks.

Ten minutes in and you already had your hands down his pants.

Remus roughly shoved the cardboard box of his belongings in a cluttered corner.

You're desperate and needy and pathetic.

How could he so easily fall into the same trap? Had he learned nothing in these five months? Had he even moved on at all?

But I stopped it. I told him no.

Remus did stop it, didn't he? It had taken every ounce of self control in him, but he did push Sirius away. That was something that had rarely happened in the two years they were sleeping together.

Maybe Remus was learning after all.

It’ll all be fine.

Chapter Text

By the time the newly married and their wedding party piled into their limo, Remus was feeling pretty damn good.

He attributed most of his good feelings towards the success of the wedding ceremony. Peter had managed to say his vows without crying, which was a feat for the man who could not make it through Click starring Adam Sandler without crying. Harry, dressed to the tens in a tiny suit that perfectly matched those of the groomsmen, had carried the ring without dropping it or getting distracted even once and was now in the safe care of Olly. Most importantly, Remus had walked down the aisle and managed not to trip himself and bring down Margot, Mary’s sister and the Maid of Honor, with him.

Remus attributed the other seventy percent of his good feelings to the cute little flask James currently had in his pocket.

“Remus!” James batted Remus’ hands away from his trousers. “If you keep trying to stick your hands in my pants, people will think things.”

Margot batted her eyelashes at Remus and said: “You should be so lucky to have a Remus Lupin trying to get into your pants.”

With a flair of bravado he wouldn’t have had without Flasky, Remus blew an air kiss to Margot. “Anytime anywhere, Macdonald.”

Yes, Remus was feeling pretty damn good.

 


 

Many: hours, speeches, and champagne flutes later, Remus was still feeling pretty damn good. He dove into his slice of cake with eagerness, happy to listen to the buzzing conversation around him.

James, as he was wont to do when drunk, had taken to emotional rambling.

“Peter,” James hiccuped, ”I have known you since we were five. It was Millicent Crouch’s annual Christmas party and you managed to sneak the entire chocolate fountain underneath the kid’s table. I knew then that we would be friends forever. And look, here we are twenty years later! Both of us settled down with beautiful wives and proper jobs like proper gentlemen.” He abruptly turned an accusing finger to Mary, who was outright laughing at him by this point. “You treat my Wormtail right, you hear me? I’ll kill you if you hurt one hair on his tiny head.”

“My head is not tiny!”

Mary ignored Peter and nodded at James with faux earnestness. “I solemnly swear not to hurt one hair on his tiny head.”

“Oh no,” Remus laughed, “We’ve tainted her! I guess she’s really one of us now.”

James turned to Remus. “And my baby angel Remus!”

Lily threw her napkin on the table. “Here we go.”

“Moony,” James said so seriously that he almost seemed sober. “I will protect you until the day I die.”

Remus opened his mouth to respond, but James stuck a single finger to his lips to stop him.

James said: “You are a delicate flower of innocence and beauty. One day soon someone is going to pluck you up and proudly display you in their vase.” James winked without a hint of subtlety and then glanced pointedly at Sirius.  Fortunately, none of the rest of the table seemed to notice because they were still trying to wrap their heads around the flower analogy. Remus too was confused because was he was pretty sure he was supposed to be the vase.

Regardless, Remus answered: “Thank you James, I love you too.”

James pecked him on the cheek then turned to muffle his sobs against Sirius’ shoulder. Sirius started patting him awkwardly on the head and the sudden contact made James look up. If possible, he started crying harder. “Padfoot! My brother. Do you know how proud I am of you?”

“Erm…”

“You have grown into a man right before my very eyes! I mean, there was not one stink bomb present today!”

“I was not afforded the same luxury at my wedding,” Lily added dryly.

James continued rambling. “You are an excellent businessman, an ace best friend, and a spectacular person. You are well on your way to becoming a real adult human.”

Remus was drunk enough to raise his glass in celebration. “To Sirius and his adult humaning!”

The table raised their glasses and cheered.

“Speaking of adult humaning,” Peter said, turning to his new bride. “Did you know that Belinda is officially Sirius’ girlfriend?”

“I don’t believe it,” Mary said, narrowing her eyes at the squirming man in question.

Sirius’ cheeks grew bright red. “I didn’t ask her to be my girlfriend,” he said very quickly.

Peter rolled his eyes. “Okay, she’s not his girlfriend. He’s just decided not to date other people… and spend most of his time with her… and meet her family. But no, she’s not his girlfriend.”

“Congrats, Sirius,” Mary said.

Peter eyed James, whose grin had quickly lowered into a frown, suspiciously. “Don’t you want to add this to your speech about adult humaning?”

“Erm, yes. Of course. Sirius, I’m so glad that you are, um, matur-”

Remus interrupted. “Can we all just congratulate Sirius and avoid the speeches?”

“Here, here,” replied Margot. “You lot are some mouthy fuckers, aren’t you?”

Lily nodded. “They are.”

Peter took a sip of his wine. “Who knows, you might be the next one to tie the knot, Padfoot.”

After waiting an appropriate amount of time to ensure the table wouldn’t suspect his departure had anything to do with Sirius’ forays into domesticity, Remus stood up. “I need to go say hi to Fabian, I’ve barely seen him all night. He’ll give me shit about it on Monday if I don’t.” He didn’t wait for anyone to respond before scurrying away.

He found Fabian on the edge of the dance floor leaning in close to a woman in a server’s uniform. If Remus had less to drink he might have realized that Fabian was flirting with the woman and probably wanted to be left to it.

“I’ve been looking all over for you,” Remus sighed, stumbling only a little. When he reached Fabian, he leaned against him for balance.

Fabian turned to the server, “Ignore him. He’s not with me. He’s a local drunk that’s always crashing these types of things. You should probably call the police, that’s the only way the riffraff will learn.”

The girl snorted. “I saw him give the Best Man speech.”

“That’s part of his rouse.”

The server smirked and began to walk away. “Maybe I’ll see you later,” she called over her shoulder.

“Yes please!” Fabian yelled to the girl’s back. Then he turned and raised one red eyebrow at Remus.

Remus smiled weakly up at him.

“You’re drunk as a skunk.”

“I am not!”

“You just stomped your foot like Ron does when it’s bath time.”

“I did not.” Remus frowned.

“Something on your mind, Lupin?”

“No.” Remus frowned harder.

Fabian sighed. “Well, if you don’t want to talk, then I guess we’ll just have to dance.”

Remus shook his head. “I can’t dance.”

“All you have to do is shake your hips and bop from foot to foot. If all else fails, do the hustle.”

A new song began playing and Fabian snapped to attention. He wiggled his shoulders and began to sing. “Do you remember?

“No-”

The twenty-first night of September?

“Please don’t.”

Fabian grabbed both of Remus’ hands and led him to the dance floor. “Love was changing the minds of pretenders.

“You’re actually not a bad singer.”

“What can I say? I’m a jack of all trades.”

For reasons unfathomable, Remus’ drunk mind found this particular sentence hilarious. He laughed so loudly that he caught the attention of several other people on the dance floor, who just smiled drunkenly back at him.

Fabian began to sing again. “Ba de ya- say that you remember. Ba de ya- dancing in September.

Remus joined in. “Ba de ya- never was a cloudy day!

When the song ended a few minutes later, Fabian said: “You were right.”

“Hmmm?”

“You really can’t dance.”

“No, I think I’m getting the hang of it!”

“You dance as well as someone would expect someone who recites Shakespeare at parties to dance.”

“Thank you.”

“Bless you for being drunk enough to take that as a compliment.”

An angry voice suddenly appeared close to them. It said: “Remus? Can I talk to you for a minute?” Without waiting for Remus to respond, Sirius wrapped his hand around Remus’ wrist and pulled him forcefully through the throng of guests and out of the ballroom.

When they made it to the empty hallway, Sirius growled, “What the fuck do you think you’re doing?”

Remus snatched his hand away from Sirius with a scowl. “What are you talking about?”

“You were hanging all over that bastard!” Sirius exclaimed, eyes blazing madly. “Thought you’d rub it in my face, huh? Show me what I can’t have?”

Remus’ jaw dropped.

Sirius began ranting frantically. “You spring all these feelings on me out of nowhere! Then you make me out to be the fucking boogeyman because I happen to like it the way things are and want to stick to the arrangement that we had agreed on!” Sirius kicked viciously at a potted plant. “And then you leave me- abandon me! All because we couldn’t do the thing your way! You leave as soon as you realize you can’t get what you want out of me!”

Are you fucking kidding me?!

Sirius didn’t seem to have heard Remus, for he continued on his diatribe without pause. “And now, here you are, rubbing it in my face that you’ve moved on. Rubbing it in my face that you don’t need me anymore, don’t want me anymore. Do you know how that feels?”

Maybe it was the alcohol. Maybe it was because he was already emotional from seeing his best friend get married. Maybe it was because this was the first time he had truly been confronted with the reality of his situation. Whatever the reason was, all the feelings Remus had been repressing for the past few months- for the past few years, really- came rushing forward and he did not have the strength to push them back.

“I sprung my feelings on you out of nowhere?! Sirius, why did you think I didn't date anyone else in the time we were sleeping together? Why did you think I cooked for you and cleaned for you and set your coffee out for you in the mornings? Why did you think I always made myself available for you? No matter what I had going on, I was always there if you wanted someone to listen to you or someone to stroke your massive ego or someone to fuck! Of course you liked it the way things were you selfish bastard! You basically had a housewife at home and multiple partners on the side!

"And I abandoned you? I left because I couldn't get what I wanted out of you? Well, you have my most sincere apologies, Sirius. I'm sorry that not wanting to be forced to watch the person you love fuck anything that moves is too much to want! I'm sorry that I didn't want to stick around in a relationship- sorry, an arrangement - where my partner sucked the life out of me like a parasite!” Remus took a deep breath. “You literally told me that I was the last person you would want to be in a relationship with. Specifically me. Who in their right mind would stick around after that?"

Sirius stumbled over his words. “I-I- no. I did not say that you were the last person I wanted to be in a relationship with!”

Remus stomped his foot. “Yes you did! You did! You said-verbatim- I’m not interested in being in a relationship, and even if I was, it wouldn’t be with you. You said that to my fucking face!”

“Well I didn’t mean it like that!” Sirius’ voice was no longer angry, but instead rising in panic.

Remus ignored Sirius’ words. He rambled on: “Do you know how that feels? To have the person you’ve been pining over for ages tell you to your face that you were the last person they wanted to commit to? To spend years waiting at their beck and call while they came and went as they pleased? To know the whole time that you’re not attractive enough or funny enough or interesting enough or good enough to have their undivided attention? And then, after all that, to be told that what you had was just sex?  To be told that you’re as meaningless and interchangeable as a random fuck in the hallway of a bar? To realize that you’re not good enough to be a boyfriend but you’re alright enough to cheat with on someone who’s actually relationship material? Do you know how that feels?"

Sobs began to overtake Remus and he hated himself for it.

In an instant, Sirius was trying to enclose him in his arms, but Remus shoved him away violently. “Don’t touch me, don’t touch me, don’t touch me!

“Moony, please. Let me-”

“Don’t call me Moony!” Remus yelled. “You’re not my friend! You used me and threw me away like I was garbage! You are not my friend!”

“Don’t say that, Remus! Please. Let’s go to my room and talk about-”

“Oh, you’d like that wouldn’t you?” Remus laughed bitterly over his sobs. “Might as well sneak in one more fuck with your lovesick pet before you get home to your real girlfriend, right?”

No! Stop talking like-”

“Well I’m done being your lovesick pet! Go find Belinda if you want a fuck. Go find your harem. I am done.

“Stop-”

“I am not at your beck and call anymore,” Remus spat before shoving Sirius once more and storming away.

Chapter Text

One week after the wedding:

A letter mixed in with Remus’ regular post, which Fenrir Greyback collected from Remus’ mailbox and delivered directly to his door because he was “in the area”:

Most Elusive Mssr. Moony,

I have enclosed a check with this letter. For your convenience, I have signed it but left the amount lines blank. Now you can run off to the shops and buy a new phone, stat!

How do I know you need a new phone, you ask?

Well Remus (please read that in the nasty tone that is intended), I know that you need a new phone because I know your old phone is broken. I know your old phone is broken because there is no other logical reason for why you have not been answering any of your very best friend’s calls or texts for the past week.

You’re welcome,

Most Offended Mssr. Prongs

P.S. I know something happened between you and Sirius because he has become just as hermit-like as you and has taken to wearing all black to work every day.

P.P.S. If you don’t start responding to me soon, then I’m going to have to show up at your flat to make sure you haven’t worried yourself to death or been violently murdered by your landlord.

P.P.P.S. Please don’t make me go to your flat. Cockroaches scare me.

P.P.P.P.S. The Prongslet has requested that I include one of his illustrations for your enjoyment. It is titled, “Fishies Playing Tag.”

 

---

 

In Remus’ overfilling voicemail box:

“Hey Remus! I think something might be wrong with your phone because I keep getting sent straight to voicemail. Anyway, I hope everything’s okay with you! It’s been kind of a while since we’ve seen each other. I think our last date was before your friend’s wedding? I was hoping we could grab dinner soon. I actually have something I need to talk to you about. It’s nothing to worry about at all! But it’s something that we should really discuss in person. Anyway, I’d better get going. Give me a call when you can!”

 

---

 

An email delivered after several other emails containing revision suggestions and pictures of celebrities photoshopped without eyebrows were ignored:

Lupin,

Okay, don’t take this as me saying that I either miss your or am concerned for you, because I don’t and I’m not!

If we’re being honest, I could care less that you’ve called in sick all this week. It’s no skin off my back! I actually like the quiet of my cozy basement office that has no windows. It’s nice not having to force conversation with anyone. It’s fun to be able sit alone with only my own thoughts as company for hours on end.

But here’s the thing- you didn’t really call in. You sent me one rather typo-ridden email saying that you’re sick with the flu and will be gone indefinitely. Then you didn’t respond to any of my revision notes OR my texts about the latest episode of Younger.  This is very strange, as I know you to be remarkably fond of both Hilary Duff and pointing out my mistakes.

I thought I’d check in to make sure all is well in the Lupin Roach Motel. Again, I’m not doing so because I miss you or care about what happens to you, but because when people suddenly turn up dead, the coppers always follow the money.

As I am your main source of money, you can see why this might concern me.

It would really be in all of our best interests for you to just shoot me a quick response to confirm your status of living. But remember, I don’t really care either way.

-your boss who does not at all miss you

 

---

 

Written on the back of a postcard, collected by Remus from his mailbox personally because he learned the consequences of leaving his mailbox unattended:

Moony! Sorry Mary and I haven’t been in touch, but we’ve just been so so busy! We spent all day yesterday at the Delphi Theater, which I know you love! Oh it’s so beautiful out here and we’re having such a great time. We’re taking tons of pictures that I know at least YOU will appreciate!!! I’d better get going, but I’ll call sometime this weekend. Oh! If you talk to Padfoot before I do can you please remind him that when he goes to feed Mary’s turtles he needs to make sure they are kept separate at all times? Princess tends to try and fight the other two when they get too close. Thanks!

P.S. Just as I was about to send this out, I got a frantic call from James about how neither you or Sirius are responding to any of his texts or phone calls. Is this a prank like the time in fifth year when you convinced him that he was the only survivor of a zombie apocalypse?

 

---

 

In Remus’ increasingly more cramped voicemail box:

“Hey Rem, it’s Elsie. I got your text and I CAN cover your shifts for the rest of the week. Also, just thought I’d let you know that some guy keeps calling the front desk and asking for you. He said he needed to talk to you specifically because you were helping him work out some missing book fine, but I could tell he was lying. He didn’t seem stalkerish though, so I think someone has a secret admirer! Although he does only call during your regular shifts... Maybe you should watch out actually. But I’ve been on a Stalkers Who Kill binge, so maybe I’m a little paranoid. Haha, anyway, I hope you feel better, see you next week.”

 

---

 

Sent to Remus’ cell phone:

Marlene: Fabian is literally going crazy I went down to give him his mail and I s2g he was singing “Grease Lightning” to himself

 

---

 

Remus was embarrassed.

Embarrassed for drinking too much. Embarrassed for blowing up maniacally. Embarrassed for showing Sirius that he hadn’t actually moved on at all.

And now he didn’t know what to do.

Remus was sure that Sirius wouldn’t have told anyone about his outburst because doing so would only incriminate Sirius himself, but there was still Sirius himself to worry about.

Remus had humiliated himself in front of Sirius Black. Sirius Black, who Remus had spent the past fourteen years subconsciously and then consciously trying to impress. Sirius Black, who carried Remus' heart in the palm of his hand. Sirius Black, who now knew that Remus was a big cry baby who made meaningless flings out to be dramatic love affairs.

Remus knew he didn’t owe Sirius an apology, and he didn’t want to apologize, but he wished he hadn't lost his temper so quickly. He wished he had just ignored Sirius' drunken ramblings and walked away. He wished there was some way they could pretend like nothing had happened. He wished they could go back to the time before things got so complicated.

Remus sighed. There was no use in making wishes that could never come true. The only thing he could do at this point was make sure not to push away the few people who still cared for him. He took out his phone.

He texted James: I’ll stop by for dinner tomorrow. Tell the bb I love his pic

He would call Benjy back when the man was off work.

He emailed Fabian: I don’t understand your fixation with Charles. He’s old. #TeamJosh5eva. btw I’ll be back mon.

He would wait for Peter to call him first to avoid disturbing the man's honeymoon.

He messaged Marlene: Next time please record for blackmail purposes, thanks

Chapter Text

Two weeks after the wedding:

When Remus heard the hurried knock, knock, knock at his door, he ran to undo the locks at a record speed.

He had woken an hour earlier to Fenrir Greyback’s much more aggressive knocking. To absolutely no one’s surprise, the building was infested with cockroaches and needed to undergo fumigation. Greyback had come to give Remus his personal apologies and offer his own private lodgings to circumvent the inconvenience. Greyback said that he took his tenants’ satisfaction very seriously. Greyback put emphasis on the word satisfaction.

Remus had managed to eventually get Greyback to leave, but he did not want to spend more time than necessary in the flat. In fact, though he technically had a week before they would begin fumigation, Remus was so eager to leave that he wasn’t even slightly hesitant to ask James if he could stay in his guest room.

Now it seemed James was finally here to pick him up.

As he began undoing the locks, Remus rambled. “You didn’t bring the BMW, right? I told you, when people in this neighborhood see a car like that they think that it either belongs to a drug dealer or a rich idiot who made a wrong turn. Trust me James, neither are good. So- oh.”

Sirius looked significantly more haggard than he had at the wedding. He didn’t necessarily look thinner, but there was a sunken quality to his skin that gave him a more gaunt appearance. He had heavy, dark bags under his eyes that looked remarkably out of place on his normally perfect face. Instead of a mischievous grin, Sirius lips were turned into a frown, which created lines around his mouth and in between his eyebrows. Sirius’ clothes, though expensive and fashionable, looked rumpled and unflattering on his hunched frame. It surprised Remus that one man could look so different in a mere two weeks.

“Can I come in?”

Remus didn’t think he could have refused the wretched creature even if he wanted to.

“Uh, yeah,” Remus responded, stepping aside to allow Sirius entrance.

Sirius walked into the flat, but made no move to sit at the small kitchen table or start any further conversation. After several moments of silence, Remus pulled out a chair in invitation. Lacking the grace that had clung to him even in childhood, Sirius plopped into it mechanically.

“Are you okay, Sirius?” Remus couldn't help but ask.

Sirius let out a bitter laugh. “You’re asking me if I’m okay?”

Remus looked around uncomfortably. “Yes?"

Sirius laughed again. “How are you like this? How are you so fucking nice all the time?”

“Uh-”

“To everybody. You’re so nice to everybody. If you ran into bloody Severus Snape in the street you’d probably hold a door open for him.”

“Sirius-”

“I literally thought about putting ex-lax in Prewett’s drink at the wedding and you’re not even dating him. I was dating Belinda, and the first time you meet her you stand and talk to her about the best way to approach reading Melville with a fucking smile on your face! How do you do that?”

“Um…”

“You are a literal fucking angel sent from Heaven, and what do I do with you? I treat you like shit!”

“I’m not an angel-”

And then Sirius did something Remus had not even seen him do the night that Walburga and Orion Black officially disowned him- he started sobbing.

Remus allowed his natural instincts to take over. He immediately flew into the rickety chair beside Sirius and wrapped an arm over the man’s shoulders. “Shh. It’s alright, Sirius,” Remus whispered, massaging Sirius’ shoulder blades soothingly.

“It’s not alright!”

They remained silent until Sirius' sobs started to subside. When it seemed the heaves were gone completely, Remus quickly grabbed Sirius a box of tissues.

Using a much calmer but slightly formal voice, Sirius spoke again. "I came here to apologize."

Remus was too startled to respond.

Sirius continued on. “First, I would like to apologize for the stuff I said about how you abandoned me after you couldn’t get what you wanted out of me. Not only was that completely off the mark, but it was also a blatantly derogatory mischaracterization. I get it now… I get why you had to leave me. I didn’t understand before because I was too fucking selfish to look at it from any position that wasn’t colored by my own self pity.”

It surprised Remus to note that this speech seemed somewhat rehearsed. This was a little bit unsettling, not because it made the speech seem unauthentic, but because it didn’t occur to Remus that Sirius would have put so much thought into it.

“Second, I would like to apologize for accusing you of rubbing it in my face that you’ve been seeing other people. I now understand that it was hideously hypocritical to do so. I know my… jealousy and possessive tendencies are things that I need to work on.

“And most importantly… I’m sorry for how I’ve treated you these past few years. I’m so sorry, Remus!” Sirius’ voice cracked with duress. Remus could tell that this part of Sirius’ apology was unrehearsed. “You were right. I used you and treated you like shit. But please believe me, Remus, I really did not know what I was doing! I didn’t think about anyone but myself and I didn’t know that I was hurting you so badly! If I wasn’t so selfish I wouldn’t have taken for granted what was right in front of me.”

Sirius started weeping again.

Remus was too flabbergasted to comfort him.

Sirius began talking through his sobs, “Remus, you are so good. Deep down to your core, you are just pure light.” Sirius let out a watery laugh. “You know, when we were kids, I had this theory that you were an angel dropped down from Heaven just for me.” Sirius laughed again before composing himself. “I’m so lucky to have had you in my life all these years. You are so- I mean- I think- aside from Harry, you are the most precious thing in the world to me. I’m sorry that I haven’t shown that.

“And… there are so many more things I need to apologize for that I don’t know how to put into words, but know that I am so sorry. For everything.”

Sirius took a deep breath before making his final plea.

“I know that I don’t deserve this, and I know it would be a long time before we could get back to the way we were. But would you please give me a chance to be your friend again? Please let me try? These past few months have been the most miserable of my life. I promise I can be a good friend to you. Please.

Then Sirius sat back, staring hopefully into Remus' eyes.

Silence echoed throughout the room.

Accepting Sirius’ apology would be a major step towards returning to the friendship that had meant so much to the both of them. Really, isn’t that what had been plaguing Remus for the past two weeks- a way to try and get things back to the way they were? The answer was yes.

But Remus wasn’t so confident in the logistics of being just friends.

How could they be just friends after all they had been through?

Could Remus stand beside Sirius as the man vowed to love one lucky person for eternity, like he had just done for Peter? Could Remus be the loving Uncle Moony to the child Sirius would eventually have with this nameless, faceless person, like he was with Harry? Could Remus laugh with Sirius and celebrate with Sirius and confide in Sirius with no romantic feelings attached?

Sirius hung his head when it became clear that a response was not forthcoming. “I understand why you don’t want to speak to me anymore. I’ll just leave.”

Without thinking, Remus placed a hand over Sirius’ forearm to stop him. Sirius’ eyes, always so bright, once again sparkled with hope, and Remus stopped second guessing himself.

Maybe they would never be each other’s great big love stories, but they would always be Marauders.

“I think fourteen years of friendship outweighs two years of casual sex,” Remus murmured, smiling weakly.

Sirius’ smile seemed to lower just the tiniest bit, but in a second he rushed forward and enveloped Remus in his arms.

However, to Remus's surprise, Sirius jumped away a second later. “Sorry!” Sirius cried, sounding like he meant it. “Is it okay if I hug you?”

Remus, who was not used to Sirius asking permission for anything, was caught off guard. “Uh- I- sure? Yeah.”

And then Sirius was squeezing him again.

Though there was a sharpness in his chest and nausea in his belly, Remus smiled. He hoped that what people said about forgiveness being more for the person doing the forgiving than the person being forgiven was true. If he could find peace in a friendship with Sirius, and figure out how to leave all the nastiness in the past, then maybe he would be able to move on after all.

“Remus?”

“Yes, Sirius?”

“Is that a cockroach?”

“Yeah, we should probably get out of here.”

 


 

“That’s no good.”

“Why?” Fabian demanded.

“Because she’s vegan and therefore will probably not appreciate a gift card to Big Randy’s Steakhouse!” Marlene responded, voice high pitched in frustration.

In an ironic twist of fate, Fabian was now helping Marlene try to get a date with a fellow undergrad named Dorcas Meadowes. As Fabian’s dancing monkey, Remus was being pulled along for the ride.

Although, Remus had to admit the situation wasn’t all bad.

The university was officially out for summer break and the summer courses wouldn’t begin for weeks, so the campus was mostly empty. He and Fabian had seized the opportunity to do their work in some of the school’s beautiful courtyards without having to endure the hustle and bustle of normal campus life. Now, Marlene had joined them in lounging in the grass on top of a blanket stolen from the office emergency supply kit.

While Marlene and Fabian were spending the lunch hour coming up with increasingly worse wooing tactics, Remus was tuning them out and basking in the sunlight. He found if he murmured “uh huhs” and “I don’t knows” at random intervals, they didn’t bother him.

“Okay,” Fabian said. “How about this: tell her you’re doing a raffle to earn money to fight childhood diabetes. Wait like a week, and then tell her she won. When you’re giving her the Big Randy’s Steakhouse gift card as her prize, use that as a conversation starter to-”

“What is your obsession with the Big Randy’s Steakhouse gift card?!”

“I got it for my birthday but I don’t want it so I was hoping someone would buy it off me.”

“You richies are always trying to earn a quick buck off the backs of the working class!” Marlene huffed.

“Uh huh.”

“Well if you two are just going to gang up on me I’ll keep my ideas to myself!” Fabian scowled.

“God, I don’t know why I came to you for help! You thought inviting me to karaoke night was a good way to impress me.”

“Hey! I have a beautiful voice and everybody in that bar said so!”

“Everybody in that bar was drunk! Back me up, Remus.”

“I don’t know.”

“Don’t drag Remus into this. He’s just getting over the flu and he’s delirious. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about. And, might I add, the karaoke thing was his idea.”

“Whatever,” Marlene rolled her eyes. “I have to go. Some of us have jobs to do.”

Marlene stood to gather her things, and the movement broke Remus out of his strawberry daiquiris on a French beach daydream.

“Bye, Marlene,” he said, rising to a sitting position.

“Oh, before I forget, are you coming to my barbecue?” Marlene asked. “Benjy was kind of vague when I asked him.”

“Um.” Remus could feel himself blush. “I’m not sure yet, I might have to cover a shift at the library for the coworker that covered for me last week. I’ll let you know soon.”

“Okay,” Marlene nodded with a smile. Then she turned and shot a glare at Fabian before walking away.

When she was gone, Fabian asked suspiciously: “How’s it going between you and Benjy?”

“Ummm… it’s not.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah.” Remus averted his eyes.

“Did he try to pitch you his new novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, or something?”

“No,” Remus growled. Then, more calmly, he said: “We just realized that our interests are not compatible.”

Fabian narrowed his eyes. “Why are you such a bad liar?”

“I’m not lying.”

“Unless you sunburn only on the apples of your cheeks, you’re lying.”

“It just turned out that we don’t enjoy the same things.”

“Oh!” Fabian exclaimed, understanding. “In bed, you mean.”

Remus stared at a tree just beyond Fabian's head.

Fabian didn’t even bother trying to hold back a laugh. “So did he try to whip you or something?”

Remus squirmed.

Fabian gasped. “I was joking!”

“Well, he was not joking.”

No! Little Benjy Fenwick?”

“You can’t say anything to anyone.”

“Of course not, who am I going to tell?”

“Gideon, Molly, Caradoc, Marlene-”

“Are you calling me a gossip?”

“I am firmly calling you a blabbermouth.”

“Better a blabbermouth than a kinkshamer.”

“I’m not shaming anyone! I just don’t want certain kinks done to me.”

“So what happened? Did he try to slip some handcuffs on you when you weren't looking?”

“No! He sat me down on Sunday night and very maturely explained to me that he was into BDSM. He explained to me what kind of things BDSM entails, and asked if I would like to pursue that kind of sexual relationship.”

“And you said no.”

“I said no.”

“But would you be the one doing the whipping or the one getting whipped?”

“I was too afraid to ask.”

“Which response were you afraid to hear?”

“Both.”

Fabian sighed. “Can’t win ‘em all I guess.”

And if you were Remus Lupin, you won none of them.

 


 

Remus could not lie. Staying with James, Lily, and baby Harry was fan-fucking-tastic.

The past four nights were the best nights of sleep Remus had gotten in six months. There was no fear of any insidious creatures, be them insect or human, violating him in the dark of the night. His costly mattress was covered in equally costly bed linens of the finest fabrics, and he felt like he was sleeping on a cloud every night.

Instead of the microwavable breakfast and dinner meals Remus had grown accustomed to in his oven-less flat, Remus was being spoiled by Olly with three delicious but still nutritious meals a day. In a mere four days, Remus could feel his immune system strengthening from his new well-balanced diet.

And of course, having an adorable three year old in the room next door was an added bonus.

In their bi-weekly phone calls, Remus was finally able to honestly tell his father that he was doing okay.

“Moomoo, look what I builded! It’s our house.” Harry said, pointing to his lego creation.

“Oh my God, you’re such a good builder, Harry!” Remus exclaimed, studying the blocks with exaggerated intent.

Harry beamed happily for a few minutes, but then, with a fickleness common to toddlers, knocked the whole thing down and started anew.

While Remus kept an eye on Harry at the kitchen table, James and Lily were working on dinner. Well, they were working on heating up the food Olly had left frozen for them for dinner.

“Is now an appropriate time to badger you about this Benjy fellow?” James asked as he and Lily settled into their usual seats at the table to wait for the timers to go off.

“Oh,” Remus sighed. “I’m not seeing him anymore.”

“Thank God.”

Remus’ mouth fell open.

James shrugged. “I’ve no problems with the guy. He was a decent chap, but it was never going to last. He wasn’t your forever person.”

“What does that even mean?”

“You were never excited to talk about him. Hell, you’ve told me more about Prewett and his love life than you’ve told me about your and Benjy’s relationship.”

“That’s not true.”

James ignored Remus and continued talking. “Every time I ask about you guys, I always get the same answer. We’re fine. How was the date? It was fine. Lily wants to invite him over for dinner. That’s fine.

“What’s so wrong with fine?”

“Nothing. It’s fine.”

“I think fine is all some people can ask for.”

Lily, who was watching their exchange silently, finally chimed in. “Remus, you deserve more than fine.”

Before Remus could respond, Harry threw his blocks down loudly. “I bored!” he exclaimed. “Can we play on da swings?”

Lily turned her attention to Harry. “Why don’t you go grab your Nemo coloring book to show Uncle Moony? He loves your fishies.”

“Kay!”

When Harry disappeared down the hallway, James sing-songed, “I have some good news.”

“There’s going to be another Gilmore Girls reboot?” Remus asked.

“I’m still working on that one.”

Lily snorted, “I’m sure that your fan mail to Alexis Bledel is making a big impact. What’s your news?”

A devilish grin that Remus knew all too well slowly crept onto James’ face. “Sirius broke up with Belinda.”

Despite the increase in his heartbeat, Remus calmly said, ”That’s unfortunate. I’m sorry to hear that.”

“When did this happen?” Lily asked curiously, but didn’t seem that surprised by the news.

“Apparently the night after the wedding,” James chirped.

Remus froze, but neither James nor Lily seemed to notice because Lily had her eyes focused on James shrewdly.

She finally said, “You know, there were always rumors about you two at Hogwarts that I made the conscious decision not to believe. But sometimes I wonder…”

“Yeah,” Remus put in, “You seem awfully happy about the breakup.”

“And you’re not?” James asked with a quirked eyebrow.

“Why would I be happy?” Remus responded, narrowing his eyes in warning. “I, unlike some people at this table, don’t relish in the pain of my closest friends.”

“I just think that Sirius deserves more than fine too. Is that so bad?”

James stared unblinkingly at Remus until Lily was sympathetic enough to put Remus out of his misery.

“Speaking of the devil,” she said, “he should be here any minute.”

James noticeably perked up, and Remus rolled his eyes.

Because Sirius happened to choose the day Remus was evacuating his apartment for fumigation to apologize, he was privy to the fact that Remus would be temporarily staying with James. To James’ great pleasure, Sirius had come over for dinner every night since then.

But Remus knew that Sirius was just making up for lost time. He had missed the Marauder family dinners just like Remus had missed them, and now that they had made up, Sirius was eager to resume them. That was all. There was nothing more to it.

James viewed things differently.

But Remus couldn’t really blame James. The man did not know the details of his and Sirius’ relationship, and he did not know that they had agreed to be friends. So when Sirius did things like pull out Remus’ chair for him or laugh extra loudly at all of Remus’ jokes or take it upon himself to serve Remus’ food and refill his drink or inch his chair progressively closer to Remus’ as the night went on, James misunderstood. Poor, clueless James was under the impression that Sirius had romantic intentions, while Remus knew that the acts were purely friendly.

The sound of the front door opening tore Remus out of his thoughts.

“Padfoot!” Harry’s voice echoed from the entrance way.

“Hi, Puppy!”

Harry’s giggles got closer and closer until finally Sirius entered the kitchen with the toddler on his shoulders.

“I was just in the neighborhood,” Sirius said in his usual carefree tone. “Thought I might as well mooch dinner off you guys.”

“What’s that in your hands?” James asked gleefully.

“Oh, I just happened to swing by that bakery on Franklin street this morning so I happened to have some extra double chocolate fudge brownies with me,” Sirius said as he carefully set Harry down to the floor.

“How nice,” James smirked. “They’re Remus’ favorite.”

“They are, aren’t they?” Sirius remarked casually. He sat down in the chair beside Remus even though the one at the head of the table was closer. He slung his arm over the back of Remus’ chair, still very casually. “Hey, Moony.”

Sirius was just being friendly, that was all.

Chapter Text

Friday Morning:

 

“What the fuck happened to you?!”

“I’m not sure what you mean, Prewett.”

I mean, what the fuck happened to your face?”

“Oh,” Remus responded, taking his time in setting down all of his belongings. Finally, he said, “Well, Lily gave me some of this Korean eye cream that she says does wonders for undereye circles-”

“Fuck off.”

“-so thank you for noticing. I’m glad that it’s working so nicely.”

“Unless the cream was supposed to make it look like you just went a couple rounds with Mayweather, you should sue.”

“Okay, do you want the truth?”

“No, tell me about how you walked into a door.”

“It’s a little embarrassing. I ask that you don’t laugh too much.”

“I will laugh as much as the situation warrants. Go on.”

With an extra-loud sigh, Remus explained, “I tripped over a shoe in the middle of the night and hit myself on my kitchen table.”

“I don’t know why you’re always trying to lie to me. You’re not good at it.”

Remus frowned, probably a bit too exaggeratedly. “It’s the truth! And it was a very painful experience, so please let us end this conversation.”

Remus tried not to let his gaze waver when Fabian stared intently into his eyes for a few uncomfortable seconds.

Abruptly, Fabian gasped. “Oh my God! You were robbed!

“What? N- Yeah. Yes, I- I was robbed.”

Fabian’s face twisted with great concern. “What happened?”

Remus felt a pang of guilt, but continued on in a stumbling explanation anyway. “I was, um, walking to the market because I really needed some, um… Pepto-Bismol. And it was late and this guy just comes at me out of nowhere. We… struggled for a bit as he tried to get my wallet- that’s when he hit me- but luckily some people came walking around the corner and the guy ran away.”

“Oh my God! Remus! I’m so sorry! Are you okay?”

“I’m completely fine,” Remus said honestly. “Please don’t worry about me.”

“Wow, did you report it? Did someone at least catch the bastard?”

“Uh, no, I didn’t report it. I could tell that the guy was just some tweaker looking for a fix. Kind of sad really- addiction, that is. People like that need medical help, not police interference.”

“Yeah, you’re right.” Fabian’s mouth was turned down into a deep frown. “But why wouldn’t you tell me?”

“I- I was afraid that it would worry everyone too much! You know how everybody is, always joking about where I live. I thought that if everyone found out what happened, I’d never hear the end of it.”

“Yeah, I understand buddy,” Fabian sighed. “I’m sorry about that- the joking.”

“No!” Remus said hurriedly. “Please don’t feel bad.”

“You know what, Remus? Why don’t you take today off? Or even the rest of the week. You should be recuperating, not sitting here worrying about my bullshit.”

“No,” Remus said firmly. “I’d really rather be here, working... to keep my mind off of the pain. But, can I ask a favor?”

“Anything.”

“Please don’t tell anyone what happened? When we see Marlene tonight, just back up my shoe story, okay? And if you happen to talk to James or Peter, please don’t even mention it at all. They won’t buy the shoe story either, so I’m just avoiding them until the bruise heals.”

“Yeah, of course, Remus. No problem.”

“Thank you.”

You are one pathetic bastard, Lupin.

 

Friday at Nine o'clock:

 

Remus scowled as he, Fabian, and Marlene had missed yet another question, bringing their score to five out of twenty instead of five out of nineteen.

He was bitter about the fact that they were losing. He was bitter about the fact that he was playing bar trivia on a friday night. He was bitter that James, Sirius, and Peter were having dinner at a place where they served tropical drinks in fishbowls and he couldn’t go because he had to hide a black eye.

Quite pettily, he told Marlene, “If you wanted to impress Dorcas, you’ve failed.”

“I’ve failed? Who was it that forced us to answer ‘goalie’ to a question about Tony Romo?”

“I’m sorry, I must have been too busy cringing at the embarrassing come-hither looks you’ve been shooting Dorcas to hear either of you contributing the right answer.”

“If you didn’t already look so pathetic with one swollen eye, I swear to God Lupin I’d box you right here right now.”

“Enough!” Fabian growled. “Let’s just leave. We’ve embarrassed ourselves enough for one night.”

Marlene would have stomped her foot if she hadn’t been sitting. “But I’ve barely had a chance to talk to Dorcas all night!”

“Lucky her.”

Marlene’s head snapped back to Remus. “Fabian, how many male models do you think will be so eager to take Remus out after I break his cute little nose?”

“Stop!” Fabian exclaimed. “This pub quiz has turned us against each other! We walked in here as Les Quizerables, and I’ll be damned if we don’t leave here as Les Quizerables!”

Remus huffed, but offered a hand to Marlene. He knew how frustrating it was to try to catch the attention of someone who could not be less interested.

He said, “I’m sorry for losing my temper and calling you Satan’s mistress.”

Marlene took Remus’ hand and gave it a squeeze. “I’m sorry for losing my temper and giving your number to the guy with the My Little Pony tattoo when I went to the bathroom.”

“Wait, what?”

“Great we’re all friends again!” Fabian clapped. “Marlene go say bye to Dorcas so we can leave.”

“No,” Marlene said dejectedly. “Honestly, I think she forgot I was here at all.”

Remus wouldn’t say it out loud, but he thought Marlene was right.

When Remus, Fabian and Marlene first arrived, Dorcas had politely made small talk with Marlene for a few minutes. However, she had not spared poor Marlene a glance since. Now, Dorcas looked like she was having the time of her life with her friends.

“Let’s get drunk.”

 

Friday at Ten o'clock:

 

Remus was scanning the crowd of Ricco’s Bar, looking for a spot where he, Fabian, and Marlene could drink their sorrows away in peace, when he spotted them.

Fuck! abort abort abort abort abort abort

But Remus was too slow. Within seconds, eye contact was made.

Peter waved.

Damn me and my drunken reflexes.

Remus had really thought he’d covered all his bases. He figured that as long as he kept regular technological contact with the Marauders, they wouldn’t be suspicious when he wormed out of face-to-face interactions for two weeks.

He was counting on those two weeks.

The Marauders, who were well-experienced with Remus’ avoidance tactics and lying tics, would certainly not believe any of his fabrications. They would never believe that he had fallen over a shoe, and the minute he got into his robbery tale, they wouldn’t believe that story either. Then he’d have to explain how he’d really gotten a black eye, and he’d die of humiliation.

Remus supposed this was his karma for letting Fabian pay for his drinks all night to “cheer him up.”

Remus sluggishly made his way to the table where Peter, James, and Sirius sat.

“Hey,” he greeted, as nonchalantly as he could.

Peter gasped; James frowned; Sirius was out of his seat in seconds.

He grabbed a firm hold of Remus’ jaw so he could inspect the purple bruise. “How the fuck did you get this?”

Remus pushed Sirius’ hands away. “Oh, this? It was just an accident. Nothing to concern yourselves with.”

“Bullshit. You tell me who did this to you right now.”

“Relax,” Marlene said, still a bit snappy from the evening’s events. She stole an empty chair from a nearby table and Fabian followed her lead. She continued: “He tripped and fell. No big deal.”

“Is that really what happened, Remus?” James asked sternly.

Remus nodded his head, “Yeah, that’s it. It’s kind of funny actually, I tripped over a shoe, haha. It was no big deal. Really.”

Peter snorted; James frowned; Sirius scoffed.

“I’m not lying!”

“He says as he scrunches his nose, shifts from foot to foot, and scratches his left ear,“ Peter said with an eye roll.

“Tell me who did this to you, Remus,” Sirius repeated.

“No one did this to me,” Remus all but yelled. “It was an accident.”

Peter, James, and Sirius sighed in unison.

“Wait, are those things- the scrunching and the shifting- the things he does when he lies?” Fabian asked, eyeing Remus suspiciously.

“Yeah,” James responded.

Fabian’s eyes widened. “Oh my God! You kept doing those things when you said you liked Keeping Up With the Caesars!”

Keeping Up With the Caesars? ” Marlene questioned.

“A single-camera sitcom centered around Julius Caesar and his adventures in Rome.”

“...That doesn’t sound funny,” Marlene responded.

“It wasn’t,” Remus muttered. At Fabian’s glare, Remus continued, “I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, I don’t understand your obsession with the man. He was not as charismatic as you personally seem to find him. Just because you feel that you two are kindred spirits doesn’t mean-”

Sirius interrupted, “Can we please stop talking about Prewett’s horrible ideas and get back to the matter at hand? Remus, you tell me what happened to your eye right this instant or I swear I’ll-”

“Fine!” Remus yelled in exasperation. He took a deep breath that he hoped made it look like he was gathering his courage. “I didn’t want to say anything because I didn’t want to worry you guys, but… I was robbed last night.”

“Oh my God!” Marlene exclaimed. “I see it now! I see the nose scrunch!”

“And the ear scratch!” Fabian shouted.

“Try again,” James told Remus.

“I’m allowed my secrets,” Remus sniffed.

“Um, what… no?” Peter laughed. “We don’t have secrets. We don’t know what that word means.”

James nodded. Sirius was glaring at Remus.

“You’ll never make me talk,” Remus said.

“If you don’t tell us what happened,” James declared, “I’ll share the pictures of you from Halloween in fifth year on Facebook.”

Remus took time to deliberate. Finally, he spat, “If you’re going to force it out of me, at least buy me some drinks first.”

“On it!” Fabian shouted, eager to bask in Remus’ humiliation.

“Hey! If anyone’s going to buy Remus’ drinks, it’s going to be me,” Sirius growled.

Fabian turned to look Sirius in the eye. “I’m not going to fight you over who gets to pay for drinks. Fuck, if you’re so eager, I’ll take a vodka tonic, thanks.”

Peter laughed; James snorted; Sirius flushed.

“Alright,” Sirius begrudgingly laughed, “I’ll get a round for the table.”

Ten minutes later, Remus began his tale:

 

---

 

Stand By Me, Duck Soup, Trading Places, Dead Poets Society and… Pretty Woman.”

Across the table, Farrah Fawley raised one perfectly groomed eyebrow.

Remus did not allow his gaze to waver. “I stand by my answers.”

With the eyebrow still raised and the corner of her red lips lifted into an impish grin, Farrah took a slow sip of her wine.

Remus couldn’t keep the smile off his own face. He leaned forward and murmured, “I will not allow myself to be silently judged by the woman who referred to Mommy Dearest as comforting.”

“If you knew my mother, you’d understand,” Farrah retorted. “But Pretty Woman is your fifth favorite movie? I’m a little concerned about the kind of company you keep, Mr. Lupin.”

“Well, I’m here with you, aren’t I?”

“I think you’ve just proven my point.”

Remus was so glad that he ignored his initial hesitance to dive into the world of Tinder.

When the waiter dropped off the check, Farrah was quicker to grab it, but Remus snatched it from her fingertips within seconds. “I’ll take care of it,” he told her firmly.

She smiled, and asked, “Shall we go for coffee?”

Definitely.

When they were outside the restaurant, Remus helped her into a soft mink coat. While doing so, he couldn’t help but notice that she smelled like violet and jasmine. That was one thing he loved about dating women- they always smelled good. There was no-

“Susanne Rose Smith!”

When Remus turned his head toward the raging voice, he expected to see- well, he didn’t know exactly what he expected to see, but what he definitely did not expect to see was a burly man flying towards him. Correction- flying towards Farrah.

Instinctively, Remus moved to stand in front of her, but to his massive surprise, she sidestepped him and ran towards the man with a preposterously large smile on her face.

“Daddy!” she yelled.

“Don’t you Daddy me, Susanne. I’m sick of this shit.”

“Dad, what are you talking about?” She widened her eyes comically, presumably to appear like she didn’t understand what he could possibly be angry about.

“I’m talking about pretty boy over here. I know you’re up to your old tricks.”

Remus did not appreciate the man’s tone when he spat “pretty boy,” but if there was one lesson he had learned during his time on Sugar street, it was not to engage already angry men who were much much much larger than him. As Remus looked at the man’s bulging forearm muscles, he thought that the man could call him whatever the fuck he wanted.

“Dad, this is a friend from school!”

The man turned to look at Remus, then looked back at Farrah-who-was-apparently-Susanne. He said, “I’ll admit he looks younger than your usual targets, but I found your messages. I know this is BigBoy59.”

Before he could stop himself, Remus yelped out, “That is not my user name!”

“Not him? I’m sorry, is WreckitRalph69 so much better?”

“That’s not me either.”

The man shook his head exasperatedly. “I don’t care what your username is. You have the right to know- this is my daughter Susanne, she’s 16-”

Remus felt dizzy.

“-and she seduces older men. Then she forces them into buying her expensive things so she won’t report them to the police for sleeping with a minor.”

Remus didn’t know how to respond. He was positive he was going to throw up everything he’d eaten in the past twenty four hours. She was going to blackmail him!

A thought suddenly occurred to him. “I’m not rich,” he said.

“You told me that you’re a doctor.”

“No, I said I’m studying for my doctorate.

“Exactly.”

“I don’t think that means what you think it means.”

“Huh?”

“A doctorate is-”

“Enough of this!” the man shouted. “Susanne, this is the last straw. I’m sending you to live with your aunt Eleanor.”

“No!” Farrah/Susanne whined, no longer sounding even slightly like an Old Hollywood femme fatale.

“You’ve left me no other options, you’re out of control.”

Farrah/Susanne sneered, “Fine! I’ll just run away! I’ve got Stephen and Marcus and Randall and Calvin-”

Fuck. How many men have you been talking to? Are you just charging by the hour at this point?” Remus blurted out before he could stop himself.

Two sets of blue eyes flashed to Remus angrily, and he knew he had said the wrong thing. As mad at Farrah/Susanne as her father was, it was not a good idea to refer to her as a prostitute in front of him.

Remus watched in slow motion as the fist soared towards him, and then the world went black.

 

---

 

The table sat in silence as Remus finished his story. Then Peter started laughing, which set off James, which set off Fabian and Marlene. Sirius was the only one who seemed unamused.

“You should not be on Tinder or any of those kinds of websites,” he huffed. “People on there are only after one thing.”

Peter and James looked at each other. They shouted, “blackmail” at the same time, and then broke out into cackles.

Remus downed his drink. “Trust me,” he said, “I am never going on Tinder ever again. I’m never going to online date again. I’m never going to look at another human being in a romantic way ever again. And if you’re all going to relive my trauma for your own amusement so blatantly, you can at least get me drunk enough to forget.”

 

Saturday at 2AM in the morning:

 

Remus was now drunk enough to forget everything that had happened to him in his entire life.

Perhaps this was why he had agreed to let Sirius give him a ride home on his motorbike.

“Moony?”

“Mhmm?”

“You have to let go of me so we can get off the bike.”

“But I’m comfortable!” Remus pouted.

“Believe me, I love having you wrapped around me, but we need to get you up to your flat.”

Remus grumbled but released his arms from around Sirius’ waist. What felt like thirty minutes later, Sirius managed to undo Remus’ vast array of locks without any help from Remus, who was clinging to him like a baby koala.

“I knew this place was a shithole, but it’s shitiness takes on a whole new meaning at night.”

“Mhmm,” Remus mumbled, still hanging off of Sirius.

“Okay, let’s get you to bed, Moony.”

Remus grinned.

Noticing this, Sirius groaned, “Please don’t look at me like that. I only have so much self control.”

“But I miss you,” Remus pouted. He stood up on his tiptoes so he could place a kiss on Sirius’ ear.

Sirius had wrapped his arms around Remus’ waist to hold him tightly and was nuzzling Remus’ hair before he snapped out of his daze. He grabbed Remus' arm to lead him to the bed, and firmly said, “No, Remus, you’re drunk. I’m putting you to bed.”

Remus pouted some more and Sirius shoved him gently so he’d fall back into his tiny mattress.

“But I want you,” Remus told him.

Sirius began to undo Remus’ shoes. He said, “Remus, trust me, there is nothing that I would like more than to pound you through this mattress, but we can’t.”

“But why?” Remus whined.

“Because if you were sober, you wouldn’t want to.”

“Who cares about sober me? I only care about me now!”

Sirius laughed. “Well I care about you all the time, so we can’t.”

“I’m not going to remember anything when I’m sober.”

“I know, beautiful,” Sirius said with a fond smile.

Remus grabbed Sirius’ arm and pulled until Sirius lost his balance and fell on top of him.

Sirius groaned again. “Are you trying to kill me?”

“No, I want to kiss you.

“If you ask me when you’re sober, I promise I’ll kiss you whenever you want.”

Remus scowled. He wanted Sirius to kiss him now.

“Do you remember where your extra blankets are?”

“No,” Remus answered petulantly.

“Work with me, Moony. I’m afraid if I don’t stay to keep an eye on you, you’ll end up drowning in your own vomit.”

Remus grinned again. “Sleep with me!”

“Remus, I don’t think that’s a good-”

“I just want you to hold me. You never hold me.”

“I... okay.”

Remus smiled as Sirius kicked off his shoes, then turned to his side so Sirius could slip in behind him. He smiled harder when he felt Sirius wrap an arm around him.

“Night, Sirius,” Remus said, beginning to finally doze off now that he had gotten what he wanted.

“Night, Remus. I love you.”

Chapter Text

“Moomoo, we get pizza, pleaseee?”

“Harry!” Lily laughed, “Mommy just made you some yummy chicken and veggies! Doesn’t that sound good?”

“Yuck,” Harry pouted. “I want pizza!”

“Prongslet,” Remus looked down at Harry, who was splayed out across a fluffy white rug. “If you eat all your dinner, we can get some ice cream after. How about that?”

Harry stared at his fire truck in contemplation. Finally, he decided, “We get pizza AND ice cweam! Pleaseee Moomoo?”

Remus stared into Harry’s big blinking eyes. “Okay Prongslet, we can-”

Lily interrupted with a groan. “Stop, Remus. The little monster knows exactly what he’s doing. I swear he’s more like his father every day.” She turned back to the four year old and said, “Harry, you’re having chicken and vegetables for dinner. If you behave, Uncle Moony will take you out for ice cream.”

Green eyes met green eyes.

“Mama- ” Harry barely managed to squeak out before Lily pounced. Giggles filled the air, and when both parties finally rose from the tickle attack, Harry had red lipstick kisses covering his face.

“I think she won, buddy,” Remus murmured.

Harry nodded solemnly. “I eat my chicken.”

It was after dinner, while Remus was bundling Harry up for their trip to the ice cream parlor, when the front door swung open.

“Oh!” Remus exclaimed, surprised by the sudden visitor. “Hi.”

“Hey, Moony,” Sirius smiled before leaning down to scoop Harry into his arms. He began tossing Harry up and down, and Harry let out delighted squeals every time he soared through the air.

When Sirius finally set the bouncing boy to the ground, he told Remus, “I was in the neighborhood so I thought I’d stop by to see James. Are you babysitting?”

“Yeah,” Remus responded as he watched Harry try to climb up Sirius’ legs. “James and Lily are on a triple date.” Remus laughed. “I assumed it was with you and Peter.”

“No!” Sirius said, a bit too quickly. “Definitely not me. They were going out with- I mean, I don’t know who they were going out with, obviously, but I think they might have been going out with the Longbottoms.”

“Oh,” Remus said, searching for something else to say. “I was going to take the little monkey out for ice cream. I’m not quite sure that’s a good idea though.”

Sirius laughed and once again grabbed Harry.

“You come wiff us!”

Remus tensed.

He and Sirius had indeed made great strides in the three months since Sirius’ apology. The Marauders had regained their usual camaraderie, and the awkwardness between Remus and Sirius had diminished significantly. However, the two men had yet to spend any one-on-one time together, and Remus was not sure such time would go so smoothly.

Sirius looked to Remus hopefully.

It won’t be alone time; Harry’s here.

“Um, yeah, come with us. If you’re not busy, I mean.”

“No, not busy at all!” Sirius exclaimed. He peppered Harry’s cheeks with kisses.

When they had Harry buckled into his booster seat, Sirius snatched Lily’s car keys out of Remus’ hands.

“Hey!” Remus yelled.

“Oh,” Sirius said, surprised. “I just- I usually drive.”

“I’m the designated babysitter. I’ll be in charge of all field trips.”

“Okay, whatever you say, Moony.”

“Just because I don’t drive like a maniac- oh. Good.”

Remus had been internally preparing for an argument. He had expected Sirius to mention the time Remus called him in a panic because he had parked so badly that he couldn’t back out of his parking spot without hitting the car next to him. Or the time Remus almost got a ticket for driving too slowly. Or the time Remus got stuck in the middle of a funeral procession.

Sirius grinned at him, but didn’t comment on the red coloring Remus’ cheeks. He opened the driver’s side door for Remus and held out the keys.

“Thank you,” Remus said tightly.

Five minutes later, Sirius hesitantly said, “Remus, you’re only going ten miles an hour.”

Remus' knuckles were white around the steering wheel. “It’s raining.”

“It’s drizzling. Also, the water doesn’t seem to be bothering that old man on the sidewalk who’s walking faster than us.”

Remus narrowed his eyes but didn’t dare take them off of the road in front of him. “I’d rather be safe than sorry with Harry in the car.”

“Okay,” Sirius murmured, “you’re in charge.”

“Roads are the most slippery in the first- oh.”

“You’re very combative tonight. Like a little puppy fighting for a chew toy.”

Remus scowled. “I do not very much appreciate that comparison. And I’m combative because I’m not used to you being so pacifying and non-aggressive.”

“Well, maybe an old dog can learn new tricks.”

Remus didn’t know how to respond to that, so he didn’t.

“What flavor are you going to get, Puppy?” Sirius asked Harry as they walked to the ice cream parlor.

“Chocolate!” Harry, who was holding both Remus and Sirius’ hands and swinging between them, squealed in delight. “Just like Moomoo!”

“Uncle Moony will eat chocolate off of anything, won’t he Harry?”

Remus, who was grinning down at Harry, snapped his head up to glare at Sirius.

“Yup!” Harry yelled.

Sirius winked.

“Harry,” Remus began as they entered the shop. “Did Daddy ever tell you about the time Uncle Sirius ate a hotdog from the garbage?”

“You eated outta da twash can?! Yucky!” Harry squealed loud enough for the other patrons to look at Sirius questioningly. Sirius flushed.

Remus winked.

“I was eleven, Harry,” Sirius said, more to the other patrons than to Harry.

“Still yucky,” Harry told Sirius.

“That’s right, baby,” Remus said to Harry, “Yucky.”

When Harry ran to look over the ice cream flavors, Sirius leaned in to Remus and murmured, “Are you really going to throw me under the bus when I know firsthand where your mouth has been?”

Sirius!”

Sirius put up his hands in surrender. “Okay, I’m sorry, friend. What kind of ice cream can I buy you to make up for my devilish ways?”

“An ice cream cone hand delivered by God would not make up for your devilish ways. But anyway, I’m the babysitter so I will be buying the ice cream.”

“But I’m the Godfather so really I should be buying the ice cream.”

“...Normally I would put up more of a fight, but honestly the one washing machine we have in the building just went out and I need to save all of my quarters.”

“I told you, you can always move back-”

“So thank you for the ice cream,” Remus interrupted.

Sirius grunted and went to stand beside Harry.

 

---

 

Harry wiggled excitedly in Remus' lap. Remus put a calming hand on the boy's arm. It wouldn't do to reveal their excitement to the enemy.

"Hmmm." Sirius eyed Harry shrewdly.

Harry wiggled some more.

"I was going to save this... but something tells me I should use it now." Sirius carefully set down a Draw 4 card.

Remus didn't have to see Harry's face to know that he was pouting.

"Are you really going to do that to your four year old Godson?"

"All's fair in love and war."

"Uno's war now?"

"It is the way you play it."

"How do I play it?"

"Dirty."

"How so?"

Sirius looked at Remus incredulously. "You and the baby pout every time I put down a card you don't like!"

Remus shouted "I don't pout!" at the same time Harry shouted "I not a baby!"

Sirius looked adoringly at Harry. "Of course you're not a baby, Puppy."

Remus cleared his throat expectantly.

"I said what I said."

"I am a grown man and I do not pout."

"Are you kidding? Where do you think Harry learned it?"

"From his immature Godfather, perhaps?"

Harry interrupted. "So we gots to pick up four more cards now?" he asked glumly.

Remus smirked at Sirius. "Not tonight, Prongslet." Remus tapped Harry's tiny wrist twice-their agreed upon signal- and dramatically set down a card he'd been saving.

Harry shouted "Uno!" just as Sirius looked down to inspect their card. It was a Draw 4 identical to the one he himself had just set down.

Remus pushed the stack towards Sirius. "Draw eight, friend."

Harry jumped off of Remus' lap to run around in happy circles.

Sirius mouthed dirty and Remus tried to ignore the way his heart rate quickened.

 

---

 

Hours later, when Harry was bathed and read to and sleeping peacefully in his race car bed, Remus and Sirius settled down in the den waiting for Child’s Play to begin.

“I still think I’d have to go with Andy Griffith,” Remus said.

“Why would you choose the one sheriff in the world who doesn’t carry a gun as your partner in a zombie apocalypse?”

“Because Andy Griffith doesn’t need a gun. He’d just use reason and logic to teach the zombies a moral lesson and then they’d leave us alone within a half hour.”

“Well I’m sticking with Roseanne Barr.”

“Your obsession with that woman is becoming worrisome.”

“She’s like the mother I never had.”

“That’s even more worrisome.”

The microwave dinged and Remus began to stand up to go collect their popcorn, but Sirius popped up so quickly that he looked like an overgrown whack-a-mole. He gently shoved Remus back onto the couch. “No, let me get it!” Sirius was out of the room before Remus had time to respond.

Remus heard a yelp; it sounded like Sirius had opened the popcorn bag while it was still hot. Then there was some clanging; it sounded like Sirius had dropped some dishware. Then there was some cursing; it sounded like Sirius had spilt melted butter onto himself.

Remus winced, but Sirius eventually made it back to the den with the popcorn bowl in hand.

Through a mouth full of popcorn, the butter-stained man asked, “Did you know that in Ancient Rome, they would have these banquets and would make themselves throw up so that they could keep eating all night?”

Sirius had been offering various facts about Ancient Rome all evening. Remus wanted to be annoyed by it, but Sirius always looked so pleased with himself that Remus couldn’t help but smile at him.

“Yes, I actually did know that.”

They settled back into their seats and watched as the opening credits of the movie started to play.

"Look, it's Prewett," Sirius said when Chucky first popped up on screen.

"It’s very strange to me that you have taken such an intense disliking to him. He reminds me a lot of you, actually.”

“He’s too old for you. I feel like I should call Chris Hansen on him.”

“First of all, I’m twenty-six and he’s thirty-two, so the situation isn’t exactly worthy of To Catch a Predator jokes. Second of all, I don’t know how much clearer I could make this: Fabian is very much straight and very much just a friend. The thought of being in any way romantically involved with him makes me want to vomit.”

Sirius looked way too happy with this information. He responded, “Okay, I guess I’ll delete all the negative Amazon reviews I wrote about his book.”

“The book’s not even out yet.”

“I wanted to be prepared.”

Remus did not want to reward this bad behavior, but he couldn’t hold back his laugh. Sirius grinned at him.

Ten minutes later, however, Sirius wouldn’t stop wringing his hands.

Remus couldn’t ignore it any longer. “Something wrong?” he asked.

“So... are you seeing anyone?"

Remus felt the overwhelming desire to lie and tell Sirius no, but decided that was crazy. He should not have to lie about his dating life. They were friends, and friends shared stuff like this with each other.

"A few people,” Remus answered. He couldn’t stop himself from adding, “But I’m not, like, serious about any of them.”

"Anyone I would know?"

"Don't suppose you're familiar with Gilderoy Lockhart?" Remus snorted.

A smile broke out on Sirius’ face. "Are you kidding? You went out with that idiot too?"

Remus bolted upright. "Did he share his all female assassination squad betrays member who decides to kill them one by one but is not Kill Bill idea with you too?"

"No, but he did share his underdog boxer who overcomes the mean streets of Philadelphia to ultimately win the championship but is not Rocky idea with me."

"And when you slept with him, did he make you do it in front of the mirror too?"

"Wait, what?” Sirius stood up so abruptly that the popcorn bowl fell from his lap and scattered onto the carpet. Sirius didn’t seem to notice. “You slept with him?

"Uh-"

"You slept with the bastard." It wasn’t a question.

“I-he's-I mean- I was drinking the whole night because he was too stupid to talk to sober, and- he’s a handsome man! And I’m an adult! I don’t need to defend myself!”

Sirius ran a hand through his hair. Remus stayed quiet. After pacing the room for a few seconds, Sirius sighed. “You’re right. I’m sorry. Friends aren’t allowed to get jealous when their friends sleep with other people, right?”

“If it makes you feel better, he was as bad in bed as you’d think he’d be.”

Sirius smiled weakly and began to clean up the popcorn he had spilled. He stood back up abruptly, and asked: “Why did you assume that I’d slept with him too?”

“What?”

“You said, when you slept with him, as in you thought I’d slept with him.”

“Oh. Sorry, I-”

“I don’t sleep with everyone I go out with. Even- even before, I didn’t sleep with everyone I went out with. And I haven’t slept with anyone since Belinda.”

Struggling to maintain control of his composure, Remus said, “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have assumed, and-”

“Honeys, we’re home!

Hastily, Sirius said, “We were having such a good night, can we just forget about all of this?”

Relieved by these words, Remus nodded eagerly.

Footsteps approached and James and Lily entered the room.

“Padfoot, what are you doing here?”

“Uh, I came to see you. I didn’t realize that you guys were going out tonight. And then, uh, I decided to stay and hang out with Remus and Harry since I was already here,” Sirius said, staring into James’ eyes intently.

James stared back just as intently. “Oh, okay. I’m glad you guys had a fun night.”

Lily rolled her eyes. “Can you please stop doing that annoying thing where you communicate telepathically like a pair of Siamese twins?”

“Quiet, You,” James responded, grabbing Lily by the waist.

“Moony, do you want a ride home?” Sirius asked.

Remus did want Sirius to give him a ride home. That was what scared him.

He responded, “Um, I think I’m just gonna spend the night, if that’s okay with James and Lily.”

“Of course you can spend the night,” James said, still looking at Sirius.

“Okay,” Sirius smiled. “I’d better be going now.”

When Remus went to sleep that night, he dreamt of chocolate ice cream cones and Roseanne Barr.

 


 

“I’ll give you James’ Gilmore Girls DVD box set.”

“Already have one, thanks.”

“I’ll give you a pint of my blood to sell on the black market.”

“The black market is not interested in diabetic blood, thank you.”

“How many times do I have to tell you that I’m not diabetic?”

“I see how many sweets you eat. Don’t fall into the misconception that just because you’re skinny-”

“Okay I have diabetes whatever let’s move on. What if I give you pedicures and scrub your feet for a month?”

“I have a girl named Chloe who does that all year round and she doesn’t give me the back sass.”

“I’ll wear a monkey costume and do Swan Lake variations at your leisure.”

“Unless your last name’s Baryshnikov, I don’t wanna see it.”

“I’ll marry a rich person, kill them, and give you the life insurance.”

“There is nothing you could offer me that would make me change my mind.”

Please don’t make me go there. I hate it there.”

“Lupin, be a big boy and go get us some lunch!”

“But there’s people!”

With September came the chaos of the new school year. Spaces that were once so open and free were now vibing with anxiety and insolence and general panic.

“Go or I’ll make you buy me a textbook from the bookstore.”

Remus was fighting his way through the busy courtyard when a voice suddenly appeared beside him.

“You okay there, Lupin?”

“Oh!” Remus jumped in surprise, then laughed. “Hi, Dorcas. Yeah, I’m fine, why do you ask?”

“I heard you mumbling Chucky over and over again.”

“Oh, that was- um, you look really nice today, Dorcas. Have a hot date?”

“I wish. No, just a presentation for a business class.”

It suddenly occurred to Remus that he should use this opportunity to talk up Marlene. However, before he could think of something uncreepy to say, Dorcas spoke again.

“Do you like sushi?” she asked.

Remus nodded. “Yeah, I love sushi.”

“Well, this new place just opened down the road from my flat. Maybe we could try it out sometime?”

Remus thought carefully on how to phrase his next words. “That sounds great. Do you know who else loves sushi? Marlene McKinnon. I’m sure she’d love to come too.”

Dorcas’ smile wavered. “Oh, I meant just the two of us… like a date.”

Remus’ blood ran cold. Why do these things always happen to me?

“First let me say, I think you’re so great-”

“You don’t have to let me down gently. It’s all cool, I don’t need an explanation.”

“No, you really do.”

Marlene and Fabian had mucked up this entire operation, and, as per usual, it was up to Remus to set it right.

Remus continued speaking. “I don’t want to say too much, but I have a friend that’s really into you, and-”

“If you’re talking about McKinnon and Prewett trying to rope me into a threesome- save it.”

“What?!”

“Yeah, I’m not interested in being some straight couple’s attempt to make their sex life less boring.”

“Whoa, that’s not what’s going on, Dorcas.”

“I have to say, I’m a little surprised that you’re in on it. I thought better of you, Lupin.”

“Wait, you’re completely misunderstanding the situation. They’re not even a couple!”

Dorcas’ face twisted in confusion. “They’re not?”

“No!”

“But they’re always together! And every time I see Prewett alone, he waxes poetic on how beautiful and smart and funny Marlene is. Once he even told me that Marlene and I would look beautiful together. And he keeps trying to get me to go to some random steakhouse with them.”

“I told that cheap bastard to just regift that stupid fucking gift card-”

“To be honest, it’s starting to make me uncomfortable.”

Fucking idiots.

“Is that why you’ve been giving Marlene the cold shoulder?”

“Basically.”

“Okay, I didn’t want to tell you this outright, but this situation has taken an ugly turn. Marlene likes you- a lot. But, being the pretty popular girl that’s never had to chase anyone before, she turned to Tweedledum to help her. Tweedledum, being a playboy since birth, doesn’t have a clue on how to instigate a meaningful relationship. It’s basically the blind leading the blind.”

Dorcas looked incredulous. “So he thinks he’s been helping?”

“Sadly, he does.”

“This is very strange.”

“I understand your confusion.”

Dorcas frowned. “I’m sorry, I understand that Marlene’s intentions were good, but this whole situation has left a bad taste in my mouth. I don’t get why she didn’t just ask me out if she was so interested in me.”

Remus felt his heart sink. Hurriedly, he said: “Sometimes people just don’t know how to properly express themselves when they’re into someone. Marlene isn’t the kind of person to gush or openly share her feelings, so she’s been trying to show you how much she likes you. Like- do you remember when she went to that Physics Seminar you tweeted about? It might seem stalkerish, but in her mind, she sees it as trying to show you that she can take an interest in the things you like.”

Dorcas contemplated this. Eventually, she mumbled, “I understand what you mean.”

“I’m not trying to badger you if you're not into her, but if you are interested in the slightest bit, maybe you can just give her a chance? Her feelings are genuine even if her approach is wonky.”

“I guess I have to give her some credit for trying, right?”

“It would be much appreciated. If only just so I don’t have to listen to those two fools write any more horrendous poetry.”

“It’s been them leaving the haiku on my car?”

“I’m sorry, I thought I shredded them all. They must have taped some back together when I went to the loo.”

“That explains a lot.”

For reasons entirely unrelated to Dorcas and Marlene, something Dorcas had said was repeatedly playing through Remus’ mind.

I have to give her credit for trying. I have to give her credit for trying. I have to give her credit for trying.

I have to give him credit for trying, right?

Chapter Text

“Wow, I didn’t think you liked Davey that much.”

“Huh?”

“You are talking to Davey, aren’t you?”

“No.” Remus’ face scrunched in surprise. “Why do you ask?”

“Oh,” Fabian frowned. “You’ve just been smiling at your phone all day. I assumed you were sexting.”

“One of these days, I’m going to report you for sexual harassment in the workplace.”

“One of these days, I’m going to report you for stealing post-its from the supply closet.”

“It seems we’ve reached an impasse.”

“It seems so.”

Remus turned back to his computer.

“So who are you sexting?”

“I’m texting Sirius. We are most certainly not sexting.”

“Sure, sure.”

“We’re not.”

“Then why do you look like someone just called you pretty and offered to walk you to study hall?”

“For your information, Sirius and I are working on a project.”

“Does this project include taking off your clothes?”

“Sirius is one of my oldest and dearest friends. Why would you suggest such a thing?”

“Because I can put two and two together.”

“Agree to disagree.”

“You’ve had lunch with him almost everyday this past month.”

“So? He’s been my best friend since we were eleven. And I’ll have you know, James and Peter were at some of those lunches.”

“How many?”

“I don’t keep a tally.”

“Ballpark it.”

“I’d rather not.”

“So Potter and Pettigrew went to lunch with you once is what I’m hearing.”

“It’s a hassle for them to make it to this side of town.”

“Potter and Black work for the same company. Their offices are probably ten feet apart.”

“That’s neither here nor there.”

“And I’m also going to assume that Black hasn’t been sending Potter and Pettigrew expensive chocolates.”

“You don’t know that.”

“I feel confident in my guess.”

When Remus began to ignore Fabian, the man asked: “So what’s your project?”

“You know that movie Horrible Bosses?

“...Yes.”

“That’s our project.”

Fabian’s jaw dropped. “And this whole time I thought we were friends.”

“You were mistaken.”

“I’m going to remember that when I write up your yearly evaluation.”

“If everything goes according to plan, you won’t have to worry about thinking that far ahead.”

“This conversation has taken a direction that I don’t very much like.”

“Maybe you’ll take this into consideration the next time you make me drag your dry cleaning through the underground and two buses to bring it to you.”

“Maybe I will. Probably I won’t.”

Remus nodded. Probably he wouldn’t.

After a few minutes of silent working, Fabian asked, “So what time do you want to meet next Wednesday?”

“Huh? For what?”

“For Marlene and Dorcas’ date.”

“That’s a funny joke.”

“You really don’t want to see firsthand how much of a shitshow that date is going to be?”

“...Pick me up at eight.”

Remus' phone pinged with a text notification.

Sirius: Andromeda’s in!

A sudden thought popped into Remus’ head. He turned to Fabian, and asked, “Can you do me a favor?”

“What kind of favor?”

“One of treachery and pandemonium.”

“Oh good, I thought you were going to ask me to water your plants or something stupid like that.”

 


 

“It happened again,” James said gravely one afternoon.

“What?” Peter asked through a mouth full of sandwich.

“Sirius disappeared at lunch and wouldn’t tell me where he was going.”

Peter rolled his eyes. “He’s allowed to do things without telling you.”

“But I ran into Prewett the other day.”

“And?” Remus asked.

"And,"  James scowled, “he told me that he saw Sirius having dinner with Narcissa and Lucius Malfoy.

Peter shook his head. “Prewett must be confused.”

“No, he said he even stopped by to say hello and rub it in Malfoy’s face that Abraxas got caught evading taxes.”

“Maybe someone died and they’re settling some legal matters,” Remus offered.

“In what world would Sirius Black talk legalese with his cousin face to face instead of through lawyers?”

“Have you tried asking him what’s been going on?”

“Oh Remus,” James sighed. “Sweet, naive Remus. If only it was that simple.”

“So what do you think is going on?” Peter asked.

“I think his crazy family is trying to drag him back to Jonestown.”

“That’s ridiculous,” Remus said. “Sirius hates his family.”

“Yeah,” James began, “but he’s been so off lately. They’ve caught him at a vulnerable time.” James shot Remus a pointed look.

“But what would they want with him?” Peter asked.

“I’ve thought long and hard about this,” James responded, “and I think it has to be a marriage thing. Regulus took off for America and now they need an heir back to sell to the highest bidder.”

“You know what,” Peter said contemplatively. “Has anyone else noticed that he hasn’t been dating at all?”

“You’re right!” James exclaimed. “I haven’t heard of anyone since Belinda. Although that might be unrelated...” His eyes flickered back to Remus.

“Maybe he needed some time to recuperate,” Remus said. “Belinda was the first girlfriend he’s had in a long time. Maybe he was more broken up about it than we thought.”

“Maybe that’s part of it.” James had a wild glint in his eyes. “And that’s why he’s so susceptible to their tricks. He’s lonely and he’s falling right into the trap.”

“I think you’re reading too much into this.”

“No.” James said. “Something wicked this way comes. I can sense it.”

 


 

“And then do you know what she said?”

“What?” Remus asked, struggling to keep his eyes focused on the man before him.

"Who’s William Fault-ner?”  Davey Gudgeon threw his head back and laughed uproariously.

Remus tried to force himself to laugh, but instead found himself asking, “Well… you do teach fourteen-year-olds, don’t you?”

“So?”

“I just think it’s a little too much to expect that they've had much exposure to William Faulkner’s work.”

“Yeah, but honestly that’s no excuse. If you choose to study American literature, you should at least take the time to learn the names of the authors.”

“...Okay.” Remus couldn’t help but add, “But the class is compulsory. She didn’t choose to study American literature.”

Davey rolled his eyes. Remus tried to reign in his glare.

“Nonsense. These kids have it too easy these days.”

Remus took a sip of the wine that Davey had ordered before asking Remus what he wanted to drink and subtly checked his phone under the table. He felt a pang that definitely didn’t have anything to do with the fact that he didn’t have any new texts.

“But enough about these kids,” Davey smiled. “Tell me more about studying Philosophy.”

Remus tried not to sigh.

 

---

 

When Remus was inside and as comfortable as he would ever be in his apartment, his phone pinged. He almost knocked his laptop to the ground in his haste to grab the phone.

Davey: I think we should continue our great night tomorrow morning. How does breakfast sound to you?

The old Remus might have, out of loneliness and desperation, said yes.

The new Remus, who was still lonely and desperate but less so, grunted and quickly typed out an excuse.

Remus settled back into bed. When his phone pinged again he ignored it. When it pinged a second time, Remus grunted again and grabbed it to see what bullshit Davey was trying to spew now.

He was pleasantly surprised to see that the text was not from Davey.

Sirius: Snuffles found the sweater you left in my car and won’t give it back

Attached was a picture of Snuffles wrapped up in the large knit sweater.

Remus: He can keep it, it looks better on him

Sirius: Eh, he looks cute, but I wouldn’t go that far

Remus’ cheeks hurt from smiling so hard.

Remus: I’m going to tell him you said that

Sirius: Please don’t. He still hasn’t forgiven me for tricking him into taking his heartworm medicine

Remus: You can buy my silence

Sirius: Name your demands

Remus: Lifetime supply of Hot Cheetos

Sirius: Playing hardball, ay?

Remus: I don’t want to waste my moment of power

Sirius: Your wish is my command

Remus: It was nice doing business with you Mr. Black

Sirius: It was a PLEASURE doing business with you Mr. Lupin

Remus: Give Snuffles a kiss goodnight for me

Three dots appeared to indicate Sirius was typing, but just as quickly disappeared. They reappeared, and Sirius wrote: I will. Goodnight Moony.

 


 

“The Vice President of Marauders Incorporated calls this meeting to order.” Sirius pounded Harry’s plastic gavel. “Is Mssr. Moony prepared to take down the minutes for this meeting?”

Remus nodded his head. “Yes, Mr. Vice President, sir.”

“If Mssr. Wormtail would be so kind as to share his progress on Mission: Jonestown.”

“I convinced Philip Avery to tag Mssr. Padfoot in a picture from Evan Rosier’s dinner party. The picture is of the buffet spread, so the target should not find it suspicious that Mssr. Padfoot can not be physically seen in the picture.

“Good work, Mssr. Wormtail. Mssr. Moony, can you please share your progress on Mission: Jonestown?”

“I convinced one Fabian Prewett to tell the target that he saw Mssr. Padfoot having dinner with Narcissa and Lucius Malfoy. I was also able to convince one Molly Weasley to relay to the target that fellow daycare parents have been gossiping about a budding relationship between Mssr. Padfoot and one Celeste Lestrange.”

“Perfect work as usual, Mssr. Moony.” Sirius cleared his throat. “On my part, I have convinced Andromeda Tonks to call the target in a panic and disclose that she had discovered that I’d been spotted at a jewelry store with Bellatrix Lestrange.”

Peter rubbed his hands together gleefully. “Excellent.”

“Everything seems to be going according to plan,” Remus nodded.

Sirius smirked. “Happy Pranktober, Mssr. Prongs.”

 


 

“Do you think Marlene’s going to be mad at us forever?” Fabian asked.

“That’s the message I got. Or at least what I managed to make out between the hexes she kept muttering under her breath.”

“Should we be concerned about those hexes?”

“... I want to say no.”

“Maybe we should have found a better hiding spot.”

“Yeah. Also, the wigs probably weren’t a good idea.”

“At least Dorcas didn’t see us.”

“I think she was more preoccupied with the fact that the waiter kept blatantly hitting on Marlene in front of her.”

“I’m glad you accidentally tripped him.”

Remus narrowed his eyes. “He spilled hot soup on me.”

“Sometimes you just have to take one for the team.”

Remus sighed. “At least Dorcas agreed to a second date.”

“Yeah, but did you see her hesitate?”

“That was hard to watch.”

“Oh well.” Fabian said. “I’m sure the second date will be better. Next time, we’ll-”

Fabian was interrupted by a curly black wig flying towards his head.

 


 

Ring. Ring. Ring.

Remus’ heart pumped with adrenaline.

“Moony?” James answered.

“I’m done with him,” Remus spat out.

“Done with who?”

“Black.”

“What happened?” James asked warily.

“You know, after everything we’ve been through, after forgiving the bastard for all the things he’s put me through, this is how he repays me.”

“What-”

“But that’s just fine. If he thinks he’s too good for me, then that’s just fine.”

“Remus, calm down and tell me what happened!”

Remus growled, “He showed up at my place today and went on this bullshit speech about how he values the friendship we had as kids, but now that he’s older and wiser he realizes that he needs to be around more people like him.

What?!”

“I guess he’s done slumming it with the scholarship kid.”

“No, Remus, I’m sure it’s just a misunderstanding and-”

“He said, now that he’s pursuing a marriage with Celeste, he needs to be conscious of his social image and therefore can’t afford to be seen with me anymore.”

“Remus, that’s crazy and so unlike him. It must be them. I don’t know if they’re drugging him or blackmailing him or-”

“Then he asked me to sign a contract saying that I will never tell anyone about our sexual relationship!”

No!”

Remus huffed. “I know we’ve had our problems, but this is ridiculous. I mean, he’s ready to throw a fourteen year friendship out the window after a few lunches with Bellatrix? How little I must mean to him.”

“Remus, something’s not right. He’s been trying so hard these past few months to prove- He wouldn’t do this if he was in his right mind. He loves you!-” Remus’ heart felt like it stopped beating. “-Let me talk to him. I’ll try to reason-”

“Don’t bother,” Remus sighed. “He’s taken his stand. And even if he does change his mind… the things he said to me about my finances and upbringing were crossing the line. I don’t think I can forgive him this time.”

“Remus-”

Remus hung up the phone and shot himself a smile in the bathroom mirror for a job well done. He texted Peter and Sirius a quick “done” and went to relax in his bed and watch Women Behind Bars on Netflix.

 

---

 

Ring. Ring. Ring.

Remus blinked his eyes open.

Too dark. M’ sleepy. I’ll sleep in and tell Fabian that my bus was late.

The ringing stopped, and Remus nuzzled himself happily into his covers.

But just as Remus started to doze back off, his phone started ringing again. This time, he realized that it was not his alarm, but his ringtone. James’ name was on the screen and Remus realized that it was three in the morning.

More than slightly anxious, Remus answered the call. “James?”

“Remus!” James’ voice was full of hysteria.

“What’s wrong?” Remus bolted straight up.

“There was an accident and there’s so much blood and I don’t know what to do!”

Breathe, Remus. Breathe!

“Where are you? Did you crash? Were Lily and Harry in the car with you?”

“No!” James shouted, not sounding any less frantic. “It wasn’t a car accident and Lily and Harry are at home asleep. I’m in your parking lot. I need you to come down right now!”

“Okay!” Remus shouted, grabbing the first sweater and pair of shoes that popped into his eye-line. “I’m coming, I’m coming. Do you need me to take you to the hospital? Or would an ambulance be quicker?”

“No! Don’t call anyone! I- you need to see this.”

More afraid than he’d ever been in his life, Remus flew down the stairs and through the building’s entrance into the black night.

James’ car, shiny and expensive, was immediately visible. Remus didn’t even stop to worry about the various figures that were also out and about in the streets, and ran to the car.

The passenger door swung open and Remus hastily entered.

James’ hair was always messy but tonight it looked like someone was trying to tear it out. His sweatshirt and hands were covered in what could have only been blood. His eyes were unnaturally wide with panic and fear and something else.

“What happened? Where are you hurt?”

James mumbled.

“I can’t hear you!”

It’s not my blood!”

Remus gasped.

“It’s not my blood, Remus! It’s- it’s- it’s Bellatrix’s!”

Remus’ brain seemed to have frozen, for he could not force any words to leave his mouth or force his brain to think of anything other than Bellatrix’s blood Bellatrix’s blood Bellatrix’s blood.

James began his tale hastily. “I was so mad after you called me- and I know they’ve been doing something to Sirius. I know they have to be threatening him or something, so I decided to go straight to the source and settle the matter myself. And Rodolphus is out of town for business so it was just me and Bellatrix and I kept screaming at her and she kept screaming that she didn’t know what I was talking about but I KNEW she was lying and I was getting madder just thinking about all the crazy shit his family’s put him through all these years and I just- I snapped! I pushed her and she fell and hit her head and I swear I tried to help her but there was so much blood!”

“You’re- you’re lying,” Remus stuttered out. “You’re playing a prank on me.”

James broke out into sobs. “I wish this was a prank Remus. Oh my God, what have I done?  They’re never going to let me see my baby again!”

“I- I don’t believe you James!” Remus was now equally as hysterical as James.

He’s lying he’s lying he’s lying but that blood looks real but James would never do this oh my God what if he has to go to prison? What will Harry think of his father?

“Remus,” James choked out. “I didn’t know what to do so I cleaned up the blood and put her in the trunk.”

I don’t want to look I don’t want to look but I have to see to make sure this isn’t a prank I don’t want to see I don’t want to see and the blood looks real

Shakily, Remus opened up his door and stepped back out into the cool night air. Despite the figures that were gathered throughout the street, the night was eerily quiet. Remus thought he had stepped straight into an Edgar Allan Poe story.

James also stepped out of the car and stumbled, as if he was drunk, towards the trunk. When both men were standing, James pressed a button on his keys, and the trunk slowly lifted itself up.

Bent into an awkward angle and covered in blood, was unmistakably Bellatrix Lestrange. Remus gazed at her intently, hoping to see some sign that would reveal that the body was a dummy or an actress, but Remus only saw the familiar upturned nose, wild black hair, large almond-shaped eyes, and full red lips.

“Oh my God!” Remus gagged.

“Remus, I don’t know what to do!”

“Hurry, close the trunk!”

When they were back inside the car, James started hyperventilating.

“Okay, maybe I can hit you or something and we can say it was self defense!”

“I’m so much bigger than her, it won’t be believable,” James groaned.

“Okay, let’s think. Let’s think, let’s think, let’s think. Okay! Maybe we can dump your car off the side of a cliff and report it as stolen, and then-”

Just then, the sound of sirens broke up the night’s silence.

The group of men across the street scattered and James and Remus froze. They looked to each other.

“No,” Remus mumbled. “It’s- it’s too soon! How could they be here so soon?”

“Oh God!” James groaned. “I’m going to prison!”

Remus prayed the sirens would get more distant, but in an instant, a single cop car tore into the parking lot and swung right behind James' car, blocking them in. A voice echoed throughout the lot.

“Get out of your vehicle with your hands in the air!”

After exchanging one last look, James and Remus complied.

To Remus’ surprise and mortification, Frank and Alice Longbottom got out of the car with their guns drawn.

“I’m sorry, Potter,” Frank said gravely. “But we got a call from a man claiming to be Mrs. Lestrange’s boyfriend saying that when he arrived at her home, Mrs. Lestrange was gone and there was blood splattered on the door. Our surveillance cameras caught you carrying something large out to your car and fleeing the scene.”

For the first time since Remus had known him, James remained silent.

“We’re going to have to take you in,” Alice added quietly.

“No!” Remus yelled. “It was a misunderstanding! It was self defense! She had a knife-”

“Lupin,” Frank interrupted, “You might want to keep quiet unless you want to be charged as an accessory to murder.”

Unable to control himself, Remus ran to a nearby bush and threw up everything that was in his stomach.

“I think that’s the shot,” a new voice cut in, and suddenly there was a bright flash of light along with the click of a camera.

Remus’ head shot up. “What?”

He screamed and jumped what must have been ten feet in the air when he saw Bellatrix crouching in front of him with a Nikon.

“Zombie!” he shouted.

There was another flash and click.

James, Alice, and Frank burst into laughter. The doors to the car parked next to James’ swung open and Peter and Sirius got out, cackling so hard they could barely hold themselves upright. On the other side of the car, Lily and Harry appeared. Lily was also cackling madly and Harry was clapping his hands excitedly.

“We got Moomoo! We got Moomoo!” he squealed.

“Happy Pranktober!” Bellatrix exclaimed.

With the aid of the bright lights of Frank and Alice’s headlights, Remus realized it wasn’t Bellatrix at all.

Andromeda took off her wig. “I’m glad looking exactly like Bellatrix has finally done me some good.”

“You all were in on this?” Remus managed to choke out after the laughter dulled to a roar.

“Yup!” James yelled, wrapping his arms around Remus’ waist and lifting him off his feet to spin him around.

Remus swatted at James until he let him down. “And Operation: Jonestown?”

“The decoy to make way for Operation: I Know What You Did Last Summer,” Peter responded, wiping the happy tears away from his eyes.

“I hate you all.”

Sirius ran over and threw an arm over Remus’ shoulders. He leaned in and whispered, “For the record, I voted on pranking Wormtail.” Before Remus could shove him away, Sirius placed a kiss on Remus’ cheek and ran over to grab Harry.

“Happy Pwanktobuh Moomoo!” Harry yelled.

Remus begrudgingly laughed, and repeated the sentiment. He then asked, “So I assume this is all on video?”

James nodded, “I bought a tiny camera to stick on the dashboard. I personally am looking forward to putting the still of your face when I said the blood wasn’t mine on my Christmas cards.”

"I'm looking forward to reading the comments on the Youtube video," Peter said.

“I hate you all.”

Chapter Text

“I watched Split last night."

Remus perked up. At last- a break from Davey’s painfully in-depth lecture on the worst interpretations of William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience!

“How’d you like it?” Remus asked, sitting up straighter in his seat.

“The inaccuracies were blindingly transparent.”

Holding in a sigh, Remus asked: “It kept you on your toes though, right?”

“On the contrary, I thought it rather predictable.”

“What kind of movies do you like? You’ve never said.”

Davey stared at his plate thoughtfully. “Well,” he began, turning his gaze back to Remus, “I tend to steer away from the recycled plots and self-indulgences that litter Hollywood. I suppose documentaries can be worth watching- if they’re produced by the right sort, of course.”

“Of course,” Remus repeated wryly. Already knowing the answer, he asked, “Have you seen The Keepers?”

Davey shook his head as if the idea was preposterous. “I don’t hold much store for true crime documentaries. I feel that they tend to be unwatchable due to their bias. No, I like to watch things like animal documentaries.”

Remus took a bite of his lasagna to prevent himself from making a joke. Davey did not generally appreciate Remus’ jokes.

Remus did not generally appreciate Davey’s jokes, for that matter.

Sometimes he wondered why he continued a relationship with someone he was so clearly incompatible with, but then he thought about how he laid alone most nights with no company save for the couple arguing in the flat above him. Remus was so so so lonesome and all he wanted was someone that would be there. Someone who would hold him at night and go with him to his friends’ dinner parties and just listen to him.

But at this point in his dating career, Remus understood how unrealistic that desire was.

He had tried being in a casual relationship with someone he was truly, madly, deeply in love with, and he was lonely. He had then tried forming serious relationships with people he thought he could potentially fall truly, madly, deeply in love with, and, if possible, he was even more lonely.

Davey was not a bad person; a little pretentious and boring, perhaps, but not bad. At least Davey wanted a committed relationship. At least Davey would be there.

Maybe that was all Remus could ask for.

 


  

Remus could hear Fabian and Marlene’s voices the moment he stepped out of the elevator. Because of their urgency to get their words out as fast as possible, Fabian and Marlene’s sentences mashed together in an inharmonious blurb of high-pitched excitement and bad ideas.

Against his natural instincts, Remus rushed towards the sound. He would have to kill this monster before it grew a second head.

The second he entered the office, Remus panted, “What are you guys doing?”

Two sets of anxious eyes turned on him in eerie synchronicity.

They looked too much like James and Sirius for Remus’ comfort, but still he persisted. “Well?”

“Nothing,” Fabian responded. The man’s attempts to subtly clear the suspicious diagrams off his desk did not go unnoticed by Remus.

“What are those?” Remus questioned.

“What’s it to you?”

“Evil wins when good people do nothing.”

Fabian rolled his eyes. “We have a good idea this time.”

“Your judgement is unreliable.”

“Really,” Marlene interrupted, “it’s a good idea.”

Remus closed his eyes as if it would protect him from what was to come. “What’s your idea?”

“Well, it’s my and Dorcas’ two month anniversary-” Remus tensed. “-and I wanted to plan a nice date to ask her to officially be my girlfriend.”

Remus untensed. “Oh. That’s very sweet actually.”

Fabian smiled smugly.

“So what are you planning?”

“I want to take her to a nice restaurant and then ice skating. We’re trying to decide on the restaurant.”

“I say Piazza Barone,” Fabian said, “They have the best lobster ravioli.”

Marlene frowned. “But going Italian ups the risk that I’ll spill red sauce all over myself. And Piazza Barone is way out of my price range.”

“How about Les Deux? It’s the most romantic restaurant in London. I’ve never failed to close at Les Deux.”

Marlene rolled her eyes. “I think you keep forgetting that not all of us have trust funds.”

“How about Cafe Dominique?” Remus asked. “It’s trendy and a little fancy but it won’t break the bank.”

“That’s perfect!” Marlene exclaimed. “It’s on Porter street, right? Then we can get to the park in time for the blimp-”

“Hey!” Fabian interrupted frantically. “Marlene, don’t you have to get back to work?”

“You got a blimp?” Remus questioned warily.

“It’s romantic, Lupin,” Marlene responded defensively.

“But don’t you think it might be too much?”

“There’s no such thing,” Fabian added.

“But what if Dorcas isn’t comfortable having your relationship displayed in such a public arena?”

Marlene looked like a balloon being deflated, and Remus felt guilt flow through him. “I know your heart is in the right place,” Remus said quickly, “but I think you should nix the blimp. I think Dorcas is a fairly simple person and she’ll be happy with a thoughtfully planned dinner. And the ice skating rink will be beautiful this time of year with all the holiday decorations. It’ll be the perfect place to ask her.”

After a moment, Marlene sighed, “Yeah, you’re right.”

When she left to get back to work, Fabian glared at Remus. “Must you ruin all our fun?”

Remus eyed Fabian thoughtfully. “Part of me thinks that you think these ideas are good simply because you’re a drunken fool. The other, much smaller, part of me thinks that you’re way too smart to actually think these ideas are good, and only offer them for your own sick amusement.”

Fabian said nothing.

Remus asked, “So which is it?”

“Who’s to say?”

“That’s what I thought.” Remus started to set up his laptop.

“You’re coming to watch, right? I bought new wigs. The lady said these ones won’t fall off.”

“When is it?” Remus asked, taking a sip of tea from his thermos.

“Next Saturday.”

“Can’t,” Remus answered. “I’ve got the library Christmas party. Maybe you can ask someone who shares your twisted sense of humor. I hear O.J. Simpson just got paroled.”

“I forgot about your Christmas party!” Fabian exclaimed. “Aren’t you getting an award or something?”

“Yeah,” Remus responded casually. “It’s no big deal though.”

“Well employee of the month is a nice acknowledgement-”

“Employee of the year.”

“Pardon?”

“I’m employee of the year.”

Fabian raised his eyebrows. “I thought it was no big deal?”

“It’s not,” Remus shrugged. “But I want it to be known that I’m employee of the year.”

“You know, we could have employee of the month here.”

“It’s not really a contest if we both know that you’re just going to give it to yourself every month.”

“What, I’m just supposed to discount myself because I’m the boss?”

“And you’d probably make me buy you the thirty-five dollar gift card to Olive Garden.”

“Would you expect the employee of the month to buy his own reward?”

“No, but I would expect him to be an actual employee.”

“I’m an actual employee.”

“We’ll leave that for the lawyers to decide.”

“Got Gloria Allred on speed dial, do you?”

“Well, she does specialize in employment discrimination. I’ll own the rights to all your publications when Gloria and I are through with you.”

“Will you at least keep me on as your assistant?”

“I’m sorry, but the team has decided to go with someone younger. We’ll keep your resume on file though, in case something happens to our mail boy. Have a nice day.”

“You play hardball, Lupin.”

“How else do you think I became employee of the year?”

 


 

“Now, before we dig into this great feast, we’d like to acknowledge an employee who’s consistently gone above and beyond the demands of his job. This person is never late, never calls in sick, and is never unwilling to work. He’s welcoming to every single patron that walks through those doors; always ready to hunt down any book, fix any broken printer, or make superb suggestions.

“Aside from these mundane but integral activities that keep our library running smoothly, he’s shown great leadership skills in his management of our larger events. He is a favorite among our families who bring their little ones to our storytime hour as well as the sulky teenagers who come for help on research projects.

“So please, a round of applause for Mr. Remus Lupin.”

Mrs. Pince was a very harsh woman who never really had a kind thing to say unless it was for the books she viewed as surrogate children. This was certainly the nicest thing she had ever said about an employee as far as Remus was concerned. Any other time he might have been overcome with emotions from her glowing speech.

This time, however, he had other things on his mind.

Well, one thing. One thing that had entered the library a couple minutes into Mrs. Pince’s speech and snuck into the seat beside Remus with a beaming smile.

“Mr. Lupin? Please come forward to accept your gift.”

Remus stood up, eyes still focused suspiciously on Sirius. Half-expecting James and Peter and general chaos to arise, Remus quickly made his way towards the small stage usually reserved for storytime hour. Into the microphone, he said: “Thank you, Mrs. Pince, for your lovely words. It’s an honor to work with such an amazing group of people, and it’s even more of an honor to be recognized by them. The library would not run so smoothly if we all did not work cohesively together, so let’s have another round of applause for all of our staff, especially Mrs. Pince, our fearless leader.”

When Mrs. Pince announced that everyone should dig into the food, Remus immediately went straight back to Sirius.

“What are you doing here?”

“Ouch.”

Remus flushed. “I’m just surprised you came. I mean... it’s a library holiday party.”

“You got an award, of course I had to come!”

Remus was taken aback. “I mentioned it a month ago. I’m surprised you remembered.”

“Of course I remembered,” Sirius said. “It’s about time this place recognized all the extra hours you spend working and planning those things for the kids.”

“...Thank you.”

Sirius continued to beam at him. “So, should we eat now?”

“Yeah,” Remus answered, for the first time noticing Sirius’ attire. Remus already felt dorky in his oversized red jumper. However, next to Sirius, who looked like a literal Armani model, Remus felt like a misshapen blob of red clay. “If you have a date after this, don’t feel like you have to eat here. I’ll just get you a drink-”

“I don’t have a date!” Sirius interrupted hurriedly. “What would make you think that?”

Remus cocked his head to the side in confusion. “Oh. You just look really nice.” Remus nodded to the rest of his casually-dressed co-workers and their families, many of whom were also staring at Sirius with interest.

Red colored Sirius’ cheeks. “I didn’t know this was going to be a party. I thought it was just going to be an award ceremony. I wanted to take you out for dinner after.”

Remus laughed, “Well that’s nice of you. We could still go out to eat if you want. No one will care if I dip out.”

“Are you sure? You’re employee of the year, after all.”

Remus snorted. “It’s a party at a library; it's not going to last past eight anyway.” Remus quickly made the rounds and again thanked Mrs. Pince.

As the duo made their way towards the parking garage, Remus couldn’t help but keep staring at Sirius’ perfectly fitting suit. He commented, “I don’t want to go to any restaurant that has a dress code.”

“We can go wherever you want!” Sirius exclaimed. “I, uh, I actually made reservations at a few different places.”

Remus’ eyebrows shot up. “You did?”

“I wanted to surprise you but I also wanted to let you pick.”

“Where did you make reservations?”

“Um, Francesca’s, Querencia, The Palms, Musashi… Les Deux.”

“Well,” Remus paused, still caught off guard by the way the evening was turning out, “that was very thoughtful, thank you. But honestly I’d rather just go for a burger or pizza or something casual.”

“Whatever you want, Moonbeam,” Sirius responded with a smile.

 

---

 

“Sometimes I think Regulus likes you more than he likes me.”

“What gave it away? The fact that he consistently tells you to your face that he likes me more than he likes you?”

“That, and also the fact that he gave you a nicer Christmas present.”

Remus narrowed his eyes. “How do you know that he gave me a nicer present? How do you already know what he got you?”

Completely unapologetic, Sirius responded, “I opened them both and then rewrapped them.”

“Of course you did.”

“Then I compared the prices online.”

“Of course you- wait. Did you open the gift I gave you to give to him?”

“...No.”

“You have no respect for privacy.”

“Hey,” Sirius began, pointing a mozzarella stick at Remus. “My baby brother and my Moony do not need privacy.”

Remus rolled his eyes. “So he seems happy?”

Sirius smiled, more to himself than Remus. “He does. He’s definitely found a nice little nest in San Francisco. The whole weekend he talked about nothing but how much he loves working his way up the tech industry and how he’s made a great group of friends and how he’s going on dates with women that aren’t distantly related to him. It’s basically like he’s come straight out of an episode of Friends.

Remus was more than slightly relieved to hear Sirius show such enthusiasm for his brother’s San Franciscan life.

When Regulus finally got out from under Walburga’s thumb, Sirius had expected the boy to immediately take a place under his own wing. Therefore, it was a surprise when Regulus announced that he’d be moving by himself to the States, basically as far from the Black family as he could get. Sirius did not take the news well. He didn’t see what Remus did, which was a young boy who needed to find independence and his own place in the world after a lifetime of being more or less “the spare” to the most toxic and manipulative family in London. Sirius’ bitterness ran deep, and initially he all but ignored Regulus’ attempts to reach out and mend their relationship.

Things had gotten significantly better throughout the years, but finally it seemed Sirius fully understood Regulus’ point of view. Remus wouldn’t say it out loud, but he was proud Sirius had made such great strides toward maturity.

“Although,” Sirius drawled, “he was upset that you and I aren’t living together anymore.”

“Did you lie to him for me?”

“Yes. I told him that you had found a great one bedroom in a safe neighborhood for a great price.”

“Did he believe you?”

“Not at all. He worries more than Peter.”

Remus frowned. “I wish I could have seen him.”

“He wants us to go visit him. I think it’d be fucking amazing.”

Remus sighed. “I’d love to go to San Francisco, but I’m broke as a joke.”

“I’ll pay for-”

“Don’t finish that sentence,” Remus interrupted, holding his fork like a weapon.

Sirius put his hands up in surrender. “It was just an offer!”

“Let’s change the subject. Have you watched anything good lately?”

Sirius eyes lit up. “Yes! I just started watching this true crime documentary on Netflix about people who confess to crimes they didn’t commit.”

“That’s on my watch later list! I’ve been afraid to watch it, though.”

“All these innocent people were just left to rot in prison. It's horrible.”

Remus groaned. “I don’t think I want to watch it anymore.”

“It’s so depressing Moony. I had to watch The Hills immediately after to cheer me up.”

“I will never understand your fondness for Speidi.”

“You don’t want to be the Heidi to my Spencer?”

You’d be Heidi and I’d be Lauren Conrad.”

“Are you trying to hurt my feelings?”

Remus laughed, “Maybe this isn’t a safe subject either.”

“Why can’t we have a conversation that doesn’t end in us bickering?”

Remus shrugged. “We like bickering. We're good at it.”

“James always says we bicker like an old married couple.”

Remus suddenly felt anxious and he didn’t know how to respond, so he took a sip of his soda.

Sirius let out an exclamation. “I almost forgot! I read that book you mentioned.”

Remus furrowed his eyebrows. “Which book?”

Eighth Step."

A mix of surprise and pleasure filled Remus. He had mentioned the book in passing months ago, and it was nice to know that Sirius took note.

“How’d you like it?” Remus asked.

“It was really good,” Sirius responded. He had a spark in his eyes usually reserved for pranks. He continued, “The ending was so...satisfying. I'm glad that he stayed sober and made his amends.”

“Yeah,” Remus agreed, “One thing that I loved about the novel is how it showed that people deserve second chances, but second chances don’t always happen the way we expect them to.”

“Exactly! I liked how sobriety didn’t come easy for him, but he still persisted and eventually got his family back. Even if it didn’t work out with the girlfriend, he still did what he set out to do and reconnected with his son.”

Remus nodded. “It would have been easy to write him off as a deadbeat alcoholic father, but Ortiz did such a great job in showing how genuine Jim's intentions were and how tirelessly he worked to right his wrongs. I was definitely rooting for him throughout the novel. Although, I will say that I like that he didn’t get back together with the girlfriend.”

“Really?” Sirius asked. “I mean, I understand that realistically she wasn’t about the leave her boyfriend after he was so dependable all those years, but in the back of my mind I thought it would be nice to see her and Jim and their son reunite.”

Remus responded, “Well, I think that it was healthier for them both to stay apart. I guess I like how the book acknowledged that he did hurt her, and even though she forgave him and became friends with him again, forgiveness doesn’t necessarily mean that things can go back exactly how they were.”

Sirius frowned. “Yeah, I see what you mean. Hey, do you want to go have hot chocolate at that frilly place you like?”

A little surprised at the abrupt change of topic, Remus was delayed in his response. He answered, “It’s not frilly, but yes, Madam Puddifoot’s sounds great.”

 

---

 

Remus loved Sirius’ Audi. It was sleek and beautiful and made him feel like he was in a James Bond film. That was why he had made no move to get out of it, even after Sirius stopped in front of his flat. There was no other reason. It was the car.

Unable to think of something else to say to prolong the evening that didn’t involve inviting Sirius upstairs, Remus mumbled. “This car is too flashy.”

Sirius sighed dramatically. “Well, I have to chauffeur you around in style, don’t I?”

Remus couldn’t hold back his smile. “Well Jeeves, this is my stop.”

When Remus grabbed the door handle, Sirius exclaimed, “Wait!”

Remus rested back into his seat. “Yeah?”

After a few beats of hesitation, Sirius finally forced out: “Do you want to come with me to the company’s New Year’s Eve party this year?”

Of all the strange things that had happened that evening, this was hands down the strangest.

It wasn’t that Remus didn’t want to go. The Potter Toys annual New Year’s Eve bash was infamous for its extravagance and exclusivity. Even being the owner’s son’s best friend didn’t buy Remus an invite, as it was strictly open to company employees and their respective dates. Remus very much did want to go and engorge himself on lobster and decades-old wine.

But he didn’t understand why Sirius would invite him at all.

“You wouldn’t rather bring a date?” Remus asked.

Sirius took a minute to respond. “I think I’d have a better time with you.”

Remus did not trust the warmth that ran through his veins at that statement, but, much too quickly, he responded, “Okay. Yeah, I want to go.”

Tomorrow night, Remus would ponder the implications of being invited by Sirius to such a lavish event.

Tonight, Remus would bask in the warmth.

Chapter Text

“Really?”

“Yes.”

“This whole time?”

“Yup.”

“Prove it.”

“Excuse me?”

“Dinner receipts, movie tickets, anything. Just prove it.”

“Why is this so hard for you to believe?”

“Because you don’t do commitment. You said so yourself.”

“Well maybe I found someone worth committing to.”

Remus eyed the man before him warily. Eventually, he said, “But you’ve been seeing other people this whole time.”

“I have not.”

“You have.”

“Name one specific time that I’ve told you I was going on a date.”

Because he could not think of a specific time when Fabian had told him he was going on a date, Remus responded, “I still don’t believe you.”

“I know you’re upset that you and I will never get to act upon the sexual tension that burns between us, but I have a girlfriend, Lupin. Accept it.”

Remus rolled his eyes. “I just find it hard to believe that you’re capable of monogamy.”

“That’s a rather large statement.”

Remus shrugged.

Fabian narrowed his eyes, “If you’re so sure that I can’t keep a girlfriend, then why were you trying to set me up with Marlene?”

“I assumed that you’d never actually get a date with her, and if you did, then you’d rip each other to shreds before things got too far.”

“I feel like no one on this planet knows how mean you are except for me.”

“You get the hate that you give.”

“I’ve done nothing so hateful as to deserve your judgement of my very pure and very happy relationship.”

“I’m sure that it’s very pure and happy; I just don’t think it’ll last.”

“And you wonder why I didn’t want to tell you about it,” Fabian responded in a voice much too sharp to be considered bantering.

Remus bristled. Defensively, he asked, “Why are you so mad?”

“Because you’re shitting all over my relationship. It’s almost like you don’t want it to work out.”

Remus frowned. He hadn’t been trying to shit on Fabian’s relationship, and he certainly didn’t want the relationship to end badly. He was just being realistic. Fabian had never, aside from his short-lived infatuation with Marlene, shown any desire to dip into the waters of monogamy. Emmeline, the server Fabian had met at Peter’s wedding so many months ago, was probably a lovely woman, but Remus didn’t think it possible that Fabian was capable of changing his ways in such a short amount of time.

But was seven months a short amount of time?

It’s the same amount of time that Sirius and I-

Remus wasn’t sure, but either way he was wrong in this situation. He should be rooting his friend on no matter what.

“I’m sorry,” Remus apologized, meaning it. “If you’ve found someone that makes you happy, then I’m happy for you.”

The tension visibly released from Fabian’s body. “I accept your apology.”

“Can I offer you a half eaten chocolate bar as a gesture of goodwill?”

“No, but you can sneak me into that New Year’s party.”

“Even if I could, I would not.”

“Come on! I heard they hired Giada de Laurentiis to cater.”

“I’ll be sure to get you an autograph.”

“Maybe if I start flirting with Black, I can get him to bring me as his arm candy instead of you.”

Remus suppressed his growl. Trying and almost succeeding in sounding casual, he replied: “If you were arm candy you’d be black licorice.”

Fabian gasped. “That was uncalled for. I don’t know what Black sees in you.”

“You are trying to bait me and I will not fall for it.”

“So which of you’s Pookie and which one’s Sweetbottom?”

We’re not dating!”

Fabian’s eyes widened in surprise.

After a few moments of awkward silence, Remus cleared his throat. “I think I let you bait me a little bit.”

“Maybe,” Fabian began thoughtfully, “we should call it an early day.”

Remus nodded in agreement.

 


 

"Donald Walker," Lily said, dark lips pulled into a smirk.

James smiled smugly back at her. "Victoire Dubois."

The smirk fell from her face immediately. "Goddamnit," Lily cursed. She had thought she was in the lead.

Sirius looked between the two Potters with disgust on his face. "You two are gross."

Though Remus wanted to note that the game Lily and James were playing was exactly the kind of thing Sirius would normally love, he was feeling particularly warm towards Sirius, so he added, "Yeah, you guys are weird as fuck."

Lily and James rolled their eyes in unison.

"We're weird for playing a harmless game?" Lily asked.

Remus didn't know if harmless was quite the right word.

"You're using people for your own sick amusement," Sirius retorted.

James rolled his eyes again. "We're not using people."

"You're basically collecting people," Remus put in.

Remus wasn't sure how this game had started, but apparently it was something James and Lily had been doing since their first company New Year's Eve party. Whoever got the most offers from a married person to go for a "word in private" in one of the hotel suites won the game. The rules were that neither James nor Lily could outright pursue their targets; they were just to act friendly and tempting enough to get the other person to make the offer.

Remus supposed that the game was relatively harmless. After all, James and Lily were simply letting individuals who were already eager to engage in extramarital affairs think that they had a chance with them. Furthermore, Lily and James rejected their offers discretely, as the point was never to expose or ridicule any of their targets.

But it was still weird as fuck.

"No," Lily argued, "We're collecting offers. We're basically seeing which of us is hotter. Is that so weird?"

"Yes," Sirius answered emphatically.

"Oh!" James exclaimed, eyeing someone at the bar. "There's Roderick Walter's wife. He's been in the States 'for business' for months now! She'll be all over me."

"I don't think I like you two very much anymore," Remus sighed.

Sirius stated, "I'm going to leave an anonymous tip with Child Protective Services so that they grant me full parental rights of Harry."

"He can call you Papa," Remus suggested. "It's close enough to Padfoot that it won't confuse him too much."

James pointed a finger reproachfully at Sirius and said, "The game a man plays with his wife is his own damn business." Then he was off to speak to Roderick Walter's wife.

"Damnit," Lily muttered under her breath, "that woman's been eyeing him for years." She scanned the crowd frantically, then relaxed back in her chair and the smirk returned to her face. "I know, I'll go after Roderick Walter himself."

When she was gone, Sirius mumbled, "I thought I was the bad one."

Remus nodded in agreement. "I thought you were the bad one too."

“Will you help me raise Harry when they award me custody?”

“Of course,” Remus answered. “Someone needs to make sure that he’s eating his veggies.”

“It’s cute that you think you’d be in charge of his diet when your own diet is sixty percent chocolate, thirty percent caffeine, and ten percent chips.”

“Well what would you put me in charge of then, Papa?”

Sirius smirked. “Oh, I like that. Call me Papa from now on.”

Remus rolled his eyes and did not dignify that statement with a response.

Some time later, Remus commented, "I like the music they're playing," when the notes to a familiar song echoed throughout the ballroom.

"It reminds me of your mother," Sirius smiled.

Remus smiled back. "That’s what I was about to say. Did I ever mention that she used to make me dance with her? She would push the dining table off to the side of the kitchen and make me practice. I hated it at the time so we stopped, but now I wish I'd have paid more attention."

"Yeah," Sirius agreed, "then maybe you wouldn't be so clumsy now."

Remus scowled. "I am a fine dancer, I'll have you know."

"Prove it."

Remus' eyebrows shot up. "What?"

"Dance with me and prove you're a good dancer."

"N- fine," Remus responded, standing and looking at Sirius challengingly.

Without another word, Sirius rose to his feet and dragged Remus by the hand to the busy dance floor.

"I'll lead," Sirius offered.

"No," Remus responded, moving Sirius' arm from his waist to his shoulder.

Sirius looked like he wanted to argue, but eventually said, "As you wish."

You always take the sweetest rose

Remus was clumsy and missed most of the steps and had no rhythm whatsoever, but somehow the dance was perfect.

And crush it till the petals fall

Remus thought that only eyes belonging to Sirius could be one of the coldest colors in the rainbow and yet still manage to appear as warm as sunlight.

You always break the kindest heart

Remus thought that described Sirius in a nutshell. He should be as cold as ice but really he was so so so warm.

With a hasty word you can't recall

Liquid silver: potentially dangerous but so strong and so hot. That was what Sirius' eyes were: liquid silver.

So if I broke your heart last night

Sirius brushed a stray lock of Remus' hair behind his ear and Remus' heart felt like it was going to beat out of his chest.

It's because I love you most of all.

When the song ended, Remus and Sirius stepped apart.

Sirius told him, "You are such a bad dancer."

"If you keep insulting me then I'm going to leave," Remus responded, even though he couldn't keep the smile off his face.

"No!" Sirius yelped. "What would I do without my beautiful date?"

Remus couldn't find it in him to feel embarrassed by the blush on his cheeks. "I'm sure you'd do alright without me."

"No," Sirius argued, a little too seriously for the tone of their banter, "I wouldn't."

After a beat, Remus responded, "Then you better be nice to me."

Sirius didn't say anything for a moment, but eventually asked, "Do you want to dance some more?"

Remus nodded his head.

 

---

 

"I like him," Remus told Sirius as they stepped away from Alastor Moody.

"Because he called me idiotboy?" Sirius questioned.

"Yup."

Remus liked the majority of Sirius' coworkers. Although, he did have to admit that it was strange to see Sirius in this corporate environment. It wasn't necessarily surprising that Sirius was so well-liked, nor that he was lauded for his work performance by all of the people he had introduced Remus to. Remus had always known how sharp Sirius' mind was once he found something worth setting it on. No, what was strange was how grown up Sirius looked standing between the respectable older men and women that comprised Potter Toys Inc.. He looked like he fit in and Remus felt pride that a boy that had every reason to remain Peter Pan for life had settled into adulthood so well.

"He liked you too," Sirius said. "He thinks you're a good influence on me."

Remus snorted, "I have never and will never have control over that mash you call your mind. I still don't know why Dumbledore made me Prefect."

James appeared at their side looking frazzled. His hair was messier than usual. "Have either of you seen Lily?"

"Yeah," Remus answered, "She's at the bar not-flirting with that ninety-year-old man in the green suit."

"Good, good," James responded, already turning on his heel to go to her.

"Whoa," Sirius started, grabbing James by the tie, "what's going on?"

"Roderick Walter just tried to fight me," James muttered.

"What?"

"He thought I was flirting with his wife! Can you believe it?"

Remus and Sirius shared a disbelieving look.

"You were flirting with his wife," Sirius said.

"No, I was not," James replied. "That's against the rules. All I was doing was letting her show me pictures of her hairless cats."

"Is that a sex euphemism?" Remus asked.

"No!" James scowled, then frowned. "I think I'm going to have to quit."

Sirius snorted. James loved his job, but he did not particularly want anything to do with running the corporation. Although he had inherited the majority of the company's shares when both his parents passed away, he had allowed his father's long time business partner, Alastor Moody, coincidentally, to act as the head of Potter Toys alone. James could have Roderick fired if he really wanted, but it was not surprising that his first inclination would be to quit.

"I knew the evilness would catch up to you," Sirius said.

"I have to get out of here," James mumbled.

"I'll be your second if he tries to fight you," Remus offered kindly.

James smiled adoringly at Remus. "Bless your precious heart, Moony, but that old geezer would snap you like a twig. No, Sirius, you have to be my second."

"I'm on the old guy's side."

James scowled again. "May a curse befall your house."

Sirius shook his head. "Mate, do you know how many people have tried to put curses on the Black family? The Blacks sold their souls to the devil in the stone ages."

"Bah!" James yelled and stormed off to find Lily.

Suddenly the M.C.'s voice broke through the loud noise of the party. "Attention everyone! This is a reminder that it is 11:55, so grab your special someone and get ready for the countdown!"

The room cheered. Remus was surprised; the time seemed to fly by.

Sirius grabbed Remus' hand and began to lead him away from the dance floor. "Let's go to the patio."

Remus stopped and tugged his hand gently out of Sirius' grasp. He laughed, "But we're about to do the countdown!"

Sirius smiled brightly. "But I have a surprise for you!"

Remus rolled his eyes but still stuck out a hand for Sirius to grab.

"The patio is beautiful," Remus said, looking at the vibrant flowers surrounding them, "but it's cold and there's nothing out here."

Sirius just smiled.

Remus was so transfixed by it that the sound of the party chanting made him jump.

They yelled, "Ten! Nine! Eight! Seven! Six! Five! Four! Three! Two! One!"

And then a pair of lips were on his and he was putty in Sirius' hands.

When the lips removed themselves, they panted out: “I love you so fucking much.”

“Sirius-”

“I love everything about you. I love how smart you are and how passionate you are about the Romans and literature and philosophy. I love how you’re nice to literally everyone you meet. I love how calm and level headed you are. I love how you talk back to me. I love that you listen to people because you genuinely care about making them feel better. I love how adorably dazed you are in the mornings. I love how you suck at driving. I love how you hog the blankets because you’re always freezing like a little old lady. I love your dimples. I love your long eyelashes. I love-”

“Sirius, wait-”

“No Remus, let me finish."

“I’m sorry that I was too fucking stupid to realize it before. I’m sorry that I didn’t get it before. I thought that I was happy having you at home while I came and went as I pleased. I didn’t realize that it was you that made me happy until you weren’t there anymore.

“And then I thought you abandoned me because you left- you know I have this fear of people trying to use me for the things they want and then leaving me. We can blame that one on my mother.  So anyway, when you left me, I tried to hurt you. But I get it now. Seeing you date all those other people made it feel like someone had ripped my heart out. So I know now what I did to you. Not entirely, because I fucked up so so so badly, but I know a little bit more and I know why you had to leave me. I know why you wanted more, and now I’m ready to give you everything I have.

“You said that you felt like you weren’t good enough for me? Well I’m not good enough for you and I never will be, but if you give me another chance, I swear I’ll spend everyday for the rest of my life trying to be better for you. Please Remus, will you give me a second chance?” Finally, Sirius closed his mouth to wait for an answer.

Remus sighed and rubbed at his tired eyes so he wouldn’t have to see ill-fated hope sparkle in the melted silver.

Remus Lupin was not a stupid man. He had noticed the signs. He knew that Fabian’s jokes were not far off the mark. He knew that he and Sirius’ constant communication would be classified as flirting by anyone with a brain. And he knew that Sirius was, for lack of a better word, wooing him.

However, while he did truly believe that Sirius did truly believe that he was in love with Remus, Remus did not for one second think that what Sirius was feeling was more than a product of guilt.

For it had always been against Sirius’ personal code of honor to betray the sanctity of friendship. Remus knew that Sirius had not understood the pain he was causing Remus until Remus blew up at him at Peter’s wedding. Now that Sirius did know the extent of the damage he had caused, he was going into overdrive trying to figure out how he could fix it. It seemed, because he was so afraid of losing Remus as a friend, he had confused his platonic love for romantic love.

“Sirius,” Remus murmured, “you’re just confused because I made you feel bad at Peter’s wedding.”

Even the party raging on the other side of the door seemed to go silent in that moment.

Finally, in a much more solemn voice than he had used only moments ago, Sirius replied, “I’ve never been so un-confused about anything in my life. I love you.”

“Sirius,” Remus replied softly, “you don’t have to put on this charade. You are forgiven and you will always be my best friend.”

Sirius frowned so deeply that Remus could feel it tug the strings in his own heart. The frown muttered, “I don’t want to be best friends. I want to be with you for the rest of my life.”

Trying to sound as patient as possible, Remus reminded him, “We literally slept in the same bed most nights and we couldn’t make it work. For all intents and purposes, we were a couple- and you didn’t want it. Remember?”

“Don’t you see? I did want it! But I was so used to having it that I didn’t realize that I loved it! I took it for granted so I didn’t realized I loved it until it went away.”

“Sirius, we slept together for two years and you never once had an inclination towards dating only me. Why in the world would you have one now?”

Sirius grabbed both of Remus’ hands and placed light kisses over the knuckles. “I was a fucking idiot. I’m still a fucking idiot, but less so. I’m going to be so much better, Remus. I promise.”

Remus snatched his hands away. Unable to keep the bitterness out of his voice, Remus mumbled, “You’ll be better until you get bored of me again.”

“Remus,” Sirius started, his voice once again rising with urgency, “I’d never get bored of you. I have never been bored of you. I love you.”

Remus blurted, “Is that what you told Belinda? You took to her quite fast for someone who was supposedly missing me so much.”

“I took to Belinda quite fast because I was lonely and I didn’t know what to do with myself without you there. She was a nice girl but a poor replacement.“

Remus was beginning to lose his patience. Did Sirius not know that he was making this whole situation unbearably hard for Remus? Did he not know that it was killing Remus to have to repeatedly reject the very thing he wanted more than anything? Did he not know that for Remus to let himself fall into the fantasy a second time would only make their inevitable breakup ten times more devastating?

Sirius was right the first time- it just wouldn’t work.

“Why can’t you believe that I love you?”

“Because I don’t trust you.”

“You don’t trust me?”  Sirius uttered the words breathlessly, but not in the same sweet way he sometimes used to speak when it was late and it was just the two of them encompassed by the heat of their bodies and Sirius’ expensive sheets. It was breathless in a woeful, tortured way, as if the very life had been knocked out of him.

Remus suddenly hated himself. He had read the signs and ignored them because he had grown addicted to the selfish pleasure he got from Sirius’ doting attention. Now Sirius looked as wretched as the day he had shown up in Remus’ flat to apologize. He looked like a kicked puppy who was starved for affection. Remus wanted to run to him and admit that he was still in love with him and that yes, he would give him a second chance so that they could be together for the rest of their lives.

But he didn’t do that. He couldn’t do that because Remus Lupin was not a stupid man and he could not let Sirius break his heart a second time because he would not be able to recover from such pain a second time.

“Sirius,” Remus began gently, taking a cautious step towards him. “That was a poor choice of words, and I do trust you, but I think that you’re misunderstanding your feelings for me. I think you’re trying to make up for what happened between us, and this is the only way you can think of.”

Sirius would not lift his gaze from the floor.

Unsure of what to do, Remus allowed the silence to reign.

But soon he heard cheering and he was reminded that they were indeed at a party- a work party, nonetheless. Afraid that someone important to Sirius would soon venture out onto the patio and find them in their tense situation, he hesitantly murmured, “Sirius?”

Finally, Sirius looked up.

“I’m sorry,” Remus told him immediately, eyes unable to break contact with the melted silver that was no longer pure but now diluted by moisture.

Sirius smiled weakly. In a grave voice that was so unfamiliar coming from the lips that Remus knew so well, Sirius answered, “You don’t have anything to be sorry for. I guess… I’m too late. But… I still want to be your best friend… if you’ll let me.”

Remus nodded vigorously, trying and failing to ignore the lump that was forming in his throat.

Now speaking very fast, Sirius said, “I think I’m going to head home. You should stay and enjoy the rest of the party though. I’ll go to the front desk and arrange for a car to pick you up and take you home.”

“No-” Remus began, but Sirius was gone within seconds.

Remus Lupin wasn't sure that he was such a smart man after all.

Chapter Text

"How do you think I'd do on RuPaul's Drag Race?"

"Fine."

"I got so many compliments in my new wig at Darlene's date last night."

"That's nice."

"You'll film my audition tape, of course."

"Sure."

"I've never actually watched the show, but I figure it's basically a beauty pageant."

"Uh huh."

"The talent portion will be hard because I have so many talents to choose from."

"Yup."

"What do you think will look better on stage: flame throwing or-"

Remus interrupted when the throbbing in his eye became too unbearable to ignore, “Not today, Fabian.”

Fabian nodded and silently returned to work.

 


 

Remus tried to close his door but he was no match for the product of natural athleticism and unbreakable determination that was James Potter.

"We need to talk," James told Remus firmly as he slipped through the door crack with a feline dexterity.

Remus turned and walked back to his bed. "About what?" he asked, laying down and focusing his eyes on the ceiling.

"Sirius."

Remus did not avert his gaze from the ceiling.

"I thought things were going well between you guys,” James mourned. “What happened?"

Remus shrugged. "I don't know what you're talking about."

"Really? Because one minute you two are all but shagging in public and the next he's taking weeks off in vacation time and you're laying in bed all day."

"You don't know that I've been in bed all day."

"You're wearing pajamas with pigs on them and a stained jumper."

"That proves nothing. I wore this grocery shopping last week."

"Cut the bullshit. At least tell me what happened."

"It doesn't matter," Remus muttered and turned on his side so he could face the wall.

"It does matter when you're both so clearly miserable."

Remus silently counted cracks in the dirty white paint.

"Okay, I'll have to start guessing then," James hummed. "Did he do something? Did he hit on someone else-"

"No!" Remus yelped. Then, trying to gain his composure, he murmured, "Sirius didn't do anything."

"Okay," James responded, clearly pleased with himself for having managed to engage Remus. "Then why are you so upset with him?"

Remus sighed and rolled onto his back. "I'm not upset with him."

"Please Moony, just tell me what happened."

Remus groaned. It would be no use to keep trying to deter James.

"He told me he loved me."

James jumped to his feet ecstatically. "Finally!"

Remus frowned. "Don't get too excited. I know that he doesn't really mean it and I told him so."

"What?"

"It's for the best," Remus muttered.

"Whose best? Certainly not yours."

"If we got together it would only end badly."

"Sure," James retorted, "a relationship between two people who are utterly obsessed with each other and devoted to each other and perfectly suited for each other is destined to end badly."

"Life's not as easy for other people as it is for you, James," Remus snapped.

Softly, James replied, "That's why you shouldn't throw something away that might make life a little less hard."

Again turning to face the wall, Remus said, "I didn't throw him away, he threw me away."

"That was the biggest mistake of his life and he told me so."

Remus said nothing.

James continued, "He's been trying so hard to show you that you can depend on him."

"He's trying now,” Remus started impatiently, “but let's say that I take him back. Then what am I supposed to do when he remembers that there was a reason he rejected me in the first place? What am I supposed to do when he leaves me for someone better?"

"There is no one better for him, and now that he's taken his head out of his ass, he knows it."

"I can't let him hurt me again," Remus mumbled to the wall.

"Remus," James began quietly, "I'm not saying that you owe him a second chance just because he's being nice to you. I know that he's already hurt you and you have every right to not want anything to do with him. But you're my best friend, and he's my best friend, and I know you guys better than anyone else on this earth knows you. I know that neither of you is as happy as you are when you're together. There's a reason that it's been a year and you guys are still as obsessed with each other as you were in the beginning. There's a reason that all of your dates are duds and he hasn't even felt the urge to date for seven months. You two belong together. Just fine is not good enough for you, Remus. You owe yourself the chance to be with the person that makes you happy."

Remus remained facing the wall.

With a sigh, James stood up from his seat at the kitchen table. Gently, he said, "I can tell you want to be alone, but please think about what I said. Call me if you need anything."

Only when he heard the door close, did Remus allow himself to wipe the tears away from his eyes.

 


 

"Please?"

Despite the fact that Peter was basically the adult human version of Winnie-the-Pooh and Remus found it incredibly hard to say no to the man's childlike blue eyes, he stared firmly at his pancakes and said, "I won't do it."

"We'll buy you a car."

"You guys are acting like children."

"That's good!" Peter exclaimed. "Use that when you talk to her. Tell her we're way too immature to be responsible for new life."

Remus groaned in exasperation. "I'm not going to be the one to tell your mother that you and Mary don't want children."

"But why?" Peter whined.

"Because she deserves to hear it from you!" Remus yelled.

"But she'll be upset."

Remus patted Peter's hand. "She'll get over it."

"All she's been talking about since the wedding is having grandchildren."

"Just explain yourself to her, she'll understand."

Peter did not look convinced.

Remus told him, "At the end of the day, all she wants is for you to be happy."

"I know," Peter sighed, "but she's been looking forward to having a baby around."

"Tell her that if I ever have a baby, she can be the surrogate grandmother."

Peter laughed. "I didn't know you wanted children."

Remus shrugged. "Honestly, I've never put much thought into it. But in a vague, distant way, I suppose I do. And when I have them, your mother has my permission to steal them."

"I appreciate that," Peter relaxed the slightest bit. "I always thought you and Sirius would have pretty children."

Remus jolted in shock.

"Well," Peter corrected, "if it were possible for you two to have biological children, that is."

"That's a strange thing to say," Remus said, trying to sound casual and failing.

"I have to admit," Peter mused, "I'm a little embarrassed that it took me so long to realize what's been going on."

Remus set down his cup of tea so Peter wouldn't notice his shaking hands. "What's been going on?" he asked as innocently as he could.

Peter smiled sadly. "Do you really want me to say it?"

Remus took a moment to contemplate his next sentence.

"I've already talked to James," Peter told him.

Slumping in his seat, Remus asked, "Why are you two so nosy?"

"We're Marauders," Peter answered simply.

With a scowl, Remus said, "So are you going to try and pressure me into taking Sirius back too?"

Instead of answering the question, Peter asked, "Remus, do you remember the first snowfall of First Year?"

"No."

If Peter recognized that Remus was lying, he didn’t comment on it. Instead, he began his story. "It was the first snowfall of First Year, and as young boys do, we had instigated an inter-house snowball fight. Everyone was having a great time. Everyone, that is, except you.

“You sat and pretended to read under a nearby tree. Every time we'd ask you to come play, you'd say no in that ridiculously polite way you have about you. It wasn't until James and Sirius grabbed you bodily and forced you to join us, that you actually let yourself have a good time. And such a good time you had! You knocked Barty Crouch down on your first try! This day has always stuck in my memory just because of how happy you were."

"So?"

"So, you've always been too afraid to take the things that you want. It's almost like you don't believe good things could possibly happen to you so you don’t bother trying.

"If you don't want Sirius, then that's entirely okay. If you know that he's not someone you could be with on a long-term scale, then I will stand behind your decision wholeheartedly. I know he's done things to hurt you, and I understand if you can't totally forgive him or totally believe that he’s changed.

“But, I don’t think that’s what’s really bothering you. I don’t think that you don’t believe Sirius has changed, I think that you don’t believe that Sirius has changed for you.

“And I know that’s not the case. I know he’s utterly devoted to you. Fuck, he's been utterly devoted to you since we were eleven, but it's just that now he's learned how to properly channel his emotions. I think that you two would be great together, and would make each other happier than anyone else could make you.

“That's why I want you to take him back. James and I would never try to pressure you into doing something you don't want to do, Remus. We just want you to do what’s going to make you happy, and sometimes, you need a little push,” Peter finished with a deep inhalation and sat back in his seat.

Remus felt like his mind was going to explode. The speech was way too much for him to take in all at once, so he stood up from his seat and dropped some cash on the table for his food. He mumbled, "I need to get going."

Peter smiled sadly. "Okay, Moony."

Remus stepped outside of the restaurant into the crisp January air, and he took out his phone. When the familiar voice answered, Remus asked, "I know this is kind of late notice, but can we meet today?"

 


 

"I don't understand, we're so well-matched for each other.”

Remus told Davey, "It's nothing personal. We do have some things in common-" Remus could not find it in himself to go as far as to say they were well-matched "-but it's just not working out for me."

Davey blinked.

"I just don't really feel any chemistry between us," Remus explained, "I'm sure the feeling's mutual."

"But you're so well-read!" Davey exclaimed.

This was the most animated Davey had ever gotten in their short relationship, and Remus suddenly felt a pang of sadness for the man. Davey was truly not a bad person, and Remus hoped that he would find someone that had equally bland interests and a similar sense of non-humor.

"There are a lot of people who are well-read," Remus insisted, "and I'm sure one of those people will make you much happier than I could."

Davey's frown stayed in place, but it did not sway Remus. He said, "I'm sorry, Davey. I hope you find someone else soon."

 


 

Remus almost had all of the locks on his door undone when-

"Remus!"

The grocery bag in Remus' arms fell as he jumped in surprise. He spotted a figure running towards him in his peripheral vision and began to yell, "Get away," before he realized who the figure was.

"I'm sorry!" Sirius yelled, setting down his own belongings to hurriedly pick up Remus' groceries. "I didn't mean to scare you, but I got really excited when I saw you."

Always the overgrown puppy.

Remus cleared his throat. "It's alright. I probably overreacted, it's just that we've had a few robberies in the building this month."

"A few in one month?" Sirius asked incredulously.

Remus nodded, and before Sirius could comment on the matter any further, he said, "Come in."

Remus undid the locks and he and Sirius entered his tiny flat. Sirius set down Remus' groceries on the counter and then rushed back out the door to collect the things he left in the hallway. When the man reentered, Remus felt confusion wash over him.

"What have you got there?" Remus questioned, eyeing the poster board and briefcase in Sirius' hands.

"I have a little presentation for you," Sirius replied. He set up a small easel and placed the poster on it, then opened his briefcase to retrieve a stack of papers which he spread out carefully on the kitchen table.

"A presentation?" Remus asked warily.

"I've decided that since you don't believe that I love you, I'll just have to prove it to you."

Remus was flabbergasted. "Huh?"

Sirius took a moment to smile indulgently at Remus before returning to his preparations. "I'll begin in just a second."

Remus needed to sit down.

"Okay!" Sirius clapped his hands together. "I'd like to start with my opening argument, which is that you and I are soulmates."

Remus opened and closed his mouth several times before deciding on keeping it closed.

"We just fit," Sirius explained simply. "We're like opposite sides of the same coin. We love the same movies but argue about what they mean. We don't read the same sections of the paper but that's okay because it just means that we can share what we've read with each other over breakfast. When I'm with you, I don't have to be an attention hog because I know you like me even when I'm not being funny or charming. When you're with me, you get to be funny and charming because you know I’m not judging you." Sirius' voice dropped to a register Remus knew all too well. "Your body fits perfectly underneath mine when we-"

“Okay!” Remus yelped. "What's the poster for?"

It was a tri-fold poster board, and when Sirius unfolded it, Remus saw that at the top of each section were the words Dependable, Monogamous, and Doting respectively.

"I think," Sirius began, "that you have it in your big Moony brain that I haven't put any thought into this. You think that this is a passing fancy that was built out of a moment of tension. But that is simply not true. I love you. You are my soulmate and have always been my soulmate but I was too much of an idiot to appreciate you. Since discovering my idiocy, I've been working tirelessly on wooing you, and here is a presentation of my labor."

"As you see, my plan has been divided into three portions: to prove that, one- you can depend on me; two- I can be monogamous; and three- to make you realize that you are the best thing that's ever happened to me."

"Under Dependable, I have a copy of all important events relating to you. If you're wondering why your birthday is missing, it's because I, of course, know that by heart. If you're wondering why your class schedule and both of your work schedules are on here, it is not because I follow you around every day in a stalkerish fashion, it is because I like to make sure you have a ride home when it rains."

"In the middle section, I have my phone records. You can see that the only phone numbers I've been in contact with in the last seven months are yours, James', Peter's, Lily's, Andromeda’s, and Reg's. These other phone numbers are work related and I have documentation to prove so, as you can see on the table. There is also a notecard with the passwords to my email and various forms of social media so that you can check my loyalty to you anytime you please. I can't exactly prove it to you, but in these past seven months, I have not slept with anyone at all."

"And the last section-"

Remus' head was swimming and he wasn't sure he could handle much more of this, so he interrupted with, "Sirius, stop."

"Please," Sirius pleaded, "this last part is the most important."

Remus sighed but nonetheless nodded for Sirius to continue.

"At Peter's wedding," Sirius said as if the words were knives in his mouth, "you told me that I made you feel like you weren't good enough for me. You told me that I made you feel like you were as random and interchangeable as a fuck in a bar. You told me that I made you feel like you are the last person I'd ever want to be in a relationship with. That night, I was so confused because I just couldn't comprehend how you'd feel that way. But after I had time to think about it, I realized that you felt that way because I treated you that way. I realized that I never once showed you how lucky I feel to be able to share your air.

"So part three- or Doting, as I fondly call it- is the part where I make sure that you know that I treasure you more than life itself. Remus, you are my first choice, and you will always be my first choice. You are the only person who I like waking up to in the mornings. You are the only person I've ever gotten jealous over because you're the only person who I can't stand the thought of being with anyone else. You're the only person that I think about obsessively all through the day. You're the only person that I can sit with in complete silence and feel one hundred percent at ease. You're the only person that I want to be with for the rest of my life."

Sirius paused for a long moment, before moving to kneel before Remus.

Always the overgrown puppy, Remus thought for the second time that evening.

Sirius asked, "Remus, do you still love me?"

Unable to force out a lie, Remus shook his head no.

If anything, this response boosted Sirius' spirit. "You are the worst liar," he whispered happily, taking Remus' hands into his own to interlace their fingers.

Remus groaned. "You know I love you," he said like an accusation.

"Then let's be together!" Sirius exclaimed, eyes shining brighter than the star for which they were named.

"It's not that easy for me," Remus answered, turning his gaze down to his lap.

"If you give me the chance," Sirius begged, reaching to stroke Remus’ cheek, "I can be the boyfriend that you deserve."

"I'm afraid that you'll realize that it's not actually a job you want to have."

"How can you compare loving you to a job, Remus?" Sirius barked out in a laugh. "To get to tell you that I love you every day until I die? To sit with you every morning and watch you slowly wake up in that adorably blinky way of yours and then give you the wrong answers to the crossword puzzle just to see you pout? To be able to take you out on dates and show you off? To be able to sleep beside you and hold you and fuck you and kiss you whenever I want?"

Remus sighed but didn’t say anything more.

“You’re my forever person.”

Remus, try as he might, couldn't repress his smile. “Have you been talking to James?”

Sirius didn’t answer because he was too focused on Remus’ mouth. “Have I mentioned yet that I love your smile?”

“You said you love my dimples, but that’s basically the same thing, right?”

“Well I love your smile and your dimples and your pretty plump lips that are so cute whether they’re smiling or pouting or scowling or around my-”

“Stop!"

“So how about it?” Sirius asked, somber again. “Be mine?”

When Remus took too long to respond, Sirius asked, “Did I mention that I love you?”

“Once or twice.”

“Because I do. I love you.”

“Sirius…”

“You're the moon and I'm the stars."

Remus rolled his eyes but wondered if he ever really stood a chance.

"Please, I still don't know how to use the coffee machine."

"You still don't know how?" Remus blurted. "It's been a year! What have you been doing?"

"Starbucks."

Remus snorted. Thinking of Marlene, he murmured, "You richies really live by your own set of rules."

"If you take me back then you can teach me how to use it myself.”

Remus snorted, "You just need your maid back.”

"No," Sirius responded without humor, "I need my other half back."

Remus sat without speaking for another minute. Finally, he started, "If this is going to work-"

Sirius jumped to his feet and brought Remus up with him. He wrapped his arms around Remus' waist and lifted him into the air to spin him around.

Remus swatted at Sirius until he set him back down, and repeated, "If this is going to work, we need to go slowly."

Sirius nodded frantically. "Of course, whatever you want."

"That means we wait to have sex until both of us feel confident in this relationship."

Remus was glad that this stipulation did not seem to diminish Sirius' expression of glee.

He added, “Also, I don’t need the passwords to your social media accounts. Or your phone records.”

“Are you sure? I don’t care-”

“I don’t need them,” Remus interrupted, “I trust you.” With that final comment, Remus twined his hands in the long black hair that he loved so much, and he pulled Sirius down into a kiss.

Later, Remus would further discuss his stipulations and boundaries.

Now, Remus was taking what he wanted.

Chapter Text

“All I’m saying is that I wouldn’t put it past you.”

“I would not burn my foot on a George Foreman grill, Lupin.”

“Need I remind you of the time I had to rush over to your flat because you accidentally spilled hot wax on your man bits?”

“You probably shouldn’t mention to Black that you’ve seen my man bits.”

“Eh, a healthy bit of antagonism is good for him. Keeps his head unswollen.”

“At my expense?”

“Sometimes you just gotta take one for the team.”

Fabian narrowed his eyes. “You know I don’t like it when you repeat my own words back to me.”

“I think Freud might have a few things to say about that.”

“How did we get on this topic again?”

“We were talking about incompetent bosses,” Remus answered, staring at Fabian pointedly.

“Oh yes, that reminds me.” Fabian cleared his throat. “When I first met you I immediately knew I wanted to take you under my wing.”

“The first day we met you spent the better part of an hour making fun of my name.”

“You walk in here with a name like Wolf Wolf and I’m not supposed to say anything?”

“Well you walked in here smelling like cheap perfume and cigarettes and I didn’t say anything.”

Fabian ignored Remus’ jibe and said, “Honestly if you choose to study Classics with a name like Remus Lupin you’re basically asking for it.”

Remus opened his mouth to respond but abruptly closed it. Fabian was not wrong; he was sort of asking for it.

Fabian nodded smugly. “I thought so. Now can I please finish my speech?”

“I’m tired of speeches,” Remus groaned. “Everyone’s always trying to make big dramatic speeches. Sirius. James. Peter. Harry. Everything’s always worth a speech and I’m sick of it. Let’s just cut the cake.”

Fabian sniffed, “You have no respect for ceremony, Lupin.”

“Prewett, I know you’re officially done with your book-”

“Yes, and you don’t even want to commemorate our journey’s end.”

“Our journey isn’t ending! I will literally see you tomorrow at Dorcas’ birthday party!”

“But it won’t be the same.”

Remus rolled his eyes. “No, we won’t be stuck in a stuffy office in a poorly ventilated basement talking shit when we should be working. What a shame.” Remus was silent for a moment. “You’re right, it won’t be the same.”

“Hah! You’re going to miss me.”

“No-”

“You’ll miss me!”

“Fine, I’ll miss you. Even though I can’t escape you even in my nightmares.”

A grin that looked too delighted for Remus’ comfort took over Fabian’s face. “Well, I have some good news then! The publishers liked my book so much that they asked me to do a new book of translations of some of Aristophanes’ plays. The boys are back, baby!”

Remus looked at him blankly. “And you’re just telling me this now? Why did we have to do this whole ceremony thing then?”

“Well I was going to tell you at the end of my speech, but someone didn’t want to hear it.”

“Arg! I’m leaving. Cut your own damn cake,” Remus stood up and began gathering his things.

“Yeah, that’s probably for the best. Emmeline’s on her way over.” Fabian held out a plastic cup filled with champagne. “Come on, Lupin. Just humor me?”

With a deep sigh, Remus took the cup.

Fabian cleared his throat. He raised his glass and Remus mirrored him. “Here’s to those who wish us well, and those who don’t can go to hell!”

They clinked cups and Remus took a drink. “You wrote a book and that’s all you could come up with?”

“Well if you’d rather hear my speech…”

“Nope, have fun with Emmeline.” Remus was halfway out of the room before he paused. “But please don’t have fun on my desk.”

Fabian shrugged. “We’ll see.”

 

---

 

"I, President of Marauders Incorporated, hereby call this meeting to order," James declared, "Agent Padfoot, if you could please give us a progress report."

"I have reserved the trained doves. In related news, the dove bite on my finger is healing nicely."

James nodded. "Good work. Agent Wormtail, please share your progress."

"Well," Peter began, "The life-sized Dumbledore ice sculpture is proving harder to secure. Though, I would like to mention that the ice artist is prepared to make a non-life-sized alternative."

James deliberated for a moment. "How non-life-sized?"

"A comparison to Danny Devito was made."

"No," James shook his head, "that'll never work. Tell the ice artist that we'll pay extra if we have to. Now, Agent Moony?"

Remus licked his lips, "I actually have a question."

"Go ahead."

"Who's the target?"

James blinked at Remus.

"I was under the impression that the target was Peter," Sirius said, looking into Peter's eyes with confusion.

"Nooo," Peter responded slowly.

Sirius frowned.

"I thought that we were targeting Lily," James muttered.

Remus furrowed his eyebrows, "But Lily was the one who was supposed to get the fire dancers."

"Huh," James wondered aloud, "Strange."

"So, what do we do now?" Peter asked.

James pounded his gavel, "I officially shelve Operation: Midnight in Paris for future consideration. Agents, cancel the doves and the ice sculpture. This meeting is hereby ended."

"Okay," Sirius clapped his hands together, "Remus and I have news."

"You're breaking up?" James and Peter asked at the same time.

Remus' jaw dropped. "What the fuck?"

"You two are so annoying," Peter responded, standing up from the kitchen table to grab a banana.

"Yeah," James agreed. He took on a mocking tone, "you guys are so in love and are the perfect couple blah blah blah- give me a break already."

Peter sighed. "I miss Davey."

Remus rolled his eyes. "You never even met Davey."

"Yeah," Peter nodded, "that was the appeal."

Sirius was now switching back and forth between glaring at James and Peter. "Well since you don't want to hear our news, drop that banana and get the fuck out."

"C'mon, we jest, we jest. Tell us your news."

Sirius' glare turned into a beam within a second. "Remus is moving back in with me!"

James and Peter shared a look.

"So what's your news?" Peter asked.

"Haven't you guys been living together this whole time?" James wondered.

"No!” Remus exclaimed.

"You are literally always here," James argued.

Remus sighed. “That’s just because of the cockroaches.”

Peter cocked his head to the side. “I thought they fumigated.”

“He was talking about Greyback,” Sirius answered.

“This meeting was entirely anticlimactic,” James muttered.

Sirius returned to glaring. "Get out."

"Okay," Peter stood up, "I've got to go talk to the ice artist anyway. I think a Danny Devito-sized Dumbledore ice sculpture would look nice in my foyer."

As James and Peter made it to the door, they stopped and grinned. James said, "Congrats guys."

Remus felt tingles at the bottom of his feet when Sirius smiled at him. “Thanks,” he murmured, “we’ll see you for Friday night dinner.”

 

---

 

A few hours later, Sirius plopped down on the couch and grumbled, "I'm mad at you.”

"Hmmm?" Remus had decided to take on the one man task of cleaning the flat. Unfortunately, he was having trouble determining if the stain on the carpet was a Harry stain or a Snuffles stain.

"I'm mad at you," Sirius repeated and reached out to try and snatch Remus by the shirtsleeve.

Remus ducked out of Sirius' reach and made his way to the kitchen to grab the cleaning supplies.

"Remus!" Sirius called, "Don't walk away from me when I'm trying to yell at you!"

With a fond sigh, Remus made his way back into the living room. "Yes, dear?" This time Remus allowed himself to be pulled into Sirius' lap.

"Where was I?" Sirius asked after he spent a few minutes nuzzling Remus' hair and placing kisses on his neck.

"You're mad at me."

"Oh yeah," Sirius said, clearing his throat. "There was a refund in my bank account today."

Remus smiled. "That's nice."

"Yeah," Sirius began, "It was a refund for half of the month's rent."

"Oh?" Remus asked mildly.

Sirius narrowed his eyes. "Do you have any idea why I would be refunded half this month's rent?"

"No, nothing comes to mind."

"Really? Because I called the office manager and she told me that someone by the name of R. J. Lupin came in with a check and insisted that she take it."

"What a coincidence," Remus said, "That's so close to my name."

"I thought we talked about this!"

"We did! And I told you that I'm going to put in my fair share around here."

Sirius frowned. "I don't want you to put in your fair share. I want to take care of you."

Remus sighed and tried to kiss the corner of Sirius' frown. Sirius, however, was too quick and managed to turn his head at the last moment so he could kiss Remus fully on the mouth.

A minute later, they took a break for air.

"Remember when we first got together?” Remus asked, “We said that this relationship would only work if we're both equally invested and involved. Paying for my own things is part of being equally invested and involved."

Sirius’ face softened, “Fine.”

Remus kissed him again.

A few minutes later, Remus breathlessly asked, "Do you know what else is part of being equally invested and involved?"

"What?" Sirius mumbled, mouth still attached to Remus' neck.

"Picking up your own damn socks," Remus answered sternly.

Sirius removed his mouth and barked out a laugh. "But I love watching you bend over to grab them."

Flushing, Remus countered, "Well if I spent less time bending over to grab your disgusting socks, I'd be more inclined to bend over for other things." Remus leaned back to wait for Sirius to take the hint. It only took about half a second before Sirius was dragging him towards their bedroom.

And that was how Remus Lupin got his groove back.