Maybe James was right. Maybe he had finally lived up to his family’s legacy and gone insane. But Merlin knew he couldn’t help it, or even find out why it was exactly that Remus’ physical appearance bothered him so much all of a sudden.
It had all started the first day on board of the Hogwarts Express, where James, Peter and Sirius sat on their compartment chatting and bickering as usual, making up for the summer spent apart. Remus was notoriously absent, attending the first meeting of the year on the prefect’s carriage.
The summer had been a rough one. Of course, it had never been pleasant for Sirius to return to Grimmauld Place, but with the rise of Lord Voldemort and his new group of followers the tension in his family was growing more unbearable by the day, and it It took a little more than a month before he ran away for good, getting consequently disinherited. He certainly must have made a poor sight the night he appeared exhausted and soaked with rain at James’ doorstep, whose parents thankfully took him in without hesitation.
However, last weeks at the Potters’ had been amazing, and he was looking forward more and more to the first school year he would spend without the pending fear of returning home.
He was still lost in these thoughts when the door slid open, and Sirius gaped.
James took the words off his mouth. It was definitely Moony, but it didn’t look like him anymore. To begin with, Remus had always been really pale, almost an ill kind of pale. Now the little skin Sirius could see showing from his neatly pulled robes was softly tanned, and the freckles that went from his cheeks all the way down to the collar of his shirt stood out more than ever. His hair was longer, curls starting to fall over his forehead, and it also looked lighter. Even the blond tips of his eyelashes seemed to bring out more his eyes somehow. Remus was…
—Moony, you’re hot! —He finally blurted out as he leapt to his feet.
—Pardon? —His friend started, but Sirius was already rounding him up.
—What have you done? You! Your hair! Prongs!
—Yeah, what have you been eating mate? —Intervened James immediately as he put Remus into a loose headlock. —How dare you to grow taller than me! And if it isn’t meat what I’m feeling, rather than bare bones!
—It can’t be!
—Look at this, Padfoot —he continued, lifting up one of Remus’ arms — he has biceps !
—I can feel it! —Shouted Sirius while he squeezed it exaggeratedly.
—Galloping Gargoyles, he’s gonna get all the girls!
—What is to become of us now?
Remus’ face was getting redder by the moment as they groped him shamelessly. It was true though, their friend wasn’t nearly as skinny as he’d been before the holidays, and where him, Sirius and James had always been pretty much the same height, Remus was now at least half a head taller.
—Enough with the two of you! —He finally batted them off and started to straighten his robes— Every year I step onto this train in hopes that you have miraculously grown some sense, and every year I find myself disappointed.
—Oh, now you know everything about being sensible and proper, don’t you, Mr. Prefect?
And thus more roasting ensued and they fell into the familiarity of their friendship, although Sirius couldn’t help but keep stealing glances at Remus the whole ride to Hogwarts.
James and Peter seemed to get used to Remus’ new appearance by dinner time, opposite to Sirius who was growing rapidly obsessed as the first weeks of school passed.
He was expecting for people to be as shocked as him with Remus’ sudden glow up, girls practically throwing themselves into his arms, and was utterly startled when everyone remained unaffected.
Well, it was true that he’d caught some first years snickering and blushing when Remus had to deal with them over some prefect duty, and maybe he had seen his friend talking more with girls recently, but not nearly as much as he had supposed. Sirius didn’t understand it. If he was a girl, he would go after Remus for sure.
He tried explaining it to James, but his best friend was a lost cause.
—I don’t know why you’re making such a big deal out of this. We’re teenagers, mate, everybody is changing. For example, have you seen that shapes under Evans’ sweater? —He said, curving his hands vaguely over his chest with a smug grin. —That definitely wasn’t there last year! See, that’s what puberty does to you.
Sirius thought about the family portrait that hung on the wall at Grimmauld Place, made months before starting his first year at Hogwarts. Of course he had grown considerably over the years, his hair was longer, his face less round, but other than that he still looked pretty much like that boy on the frame that pulled at his robes and made faces whenever his mother wasn’t looking.
He hadn’t got any facial hair to shave either, or even pimples, the bane of many fellow student’s existence. Come to think of it, the only noticeable effects he could recall were some really… hard problems he was having lately at the most inconvenient moments (at lunch in the middle of the great hall, when the four of them were roughhousing on the grounds, hiding from Filch in a cupboard after a prank). Yeah, that’s what puberty does to you.
Soon even James got tired of his ramblings (Sirius suspected the only reason he’d been going along with it in the first place was because of his not-so-secret jealousy of Remus and Evans being prefects together) and he ended keeping his reflections about their friend to himself. The only thing that he got from James anyways was the suggestion of “stop being such a queen and whining about Moony stealing his title of Hogwarts’ pretty boy”.
It wasn’t anything like that, really. It was just that he noticed things others didn’t seem to. Like the way Remus’ old, worn out trousers fitted him better now, stretching so lightly around his thighs rather than just hanging loose. Sirius specially liked his muggle jeans, and thought about getting ones himself now that he wouldn’t be returning with his family anymore (he would have loved to watch his mother’s face upon seen him in muggle clothes though).
The main reason behind Remus’ transformation, apart from a natural growth spurt, was apparently his father. He explained to his three overly-curious friends how Mr. Lupin had announced at the beginning of the summer that “he was old enough to lend a hand at home instead of keep loitering around all day”, and from then on Remus would help him tend their cottage’s considerable garden. The long hours working in the sun had done the magic, and he had spent them willingly if just to please his parents, who were convinced that the exercise would be good for his health.
Sirius had to agree wholeheartedly with them. If he had been astonished that first day on the train, it was nothing compared to the morning he went into the bathroom only to find Remus fresh out of the shower, washing his teeth on the sink, with only a towel around his waist.
Although Remus’ emphasis with privacy had loosened considerably over the years after discovering his condition, and more so since they became animagi and stayed with him through his transformations, this was still an unusual image and it made Sirius startle at the door for a second.
Remus looked at him and he hurried inside with a nod of acknowledgement, going on distractedly with his morning routine. His tan had long faded, but where until then his friend’s back had only showed the bumps of his spine, now subtly toned muscles moved under his skin, etched with freckles and scars. Over the mirror his stomach and chest looked firm, and even the arm holding the toothbrush looked strong and tense. Sirius was so absorbed he slipped and fell to the bathroom floor.
Remus choked and spat toothpaste all over the mirror, but managed to clean himself quickly and help him up between laughing and coughing.
—Oi, It’s not bloody funny!
—I beg to disagree.
—It’s all James’ fault, the git. I stepped over that slimy thing he got from Zonko’s last weekend and got all soggy. What colour do you think will suit more his hair, Moony, pink or green?
Remus rolled his eyes as he vanished the toothpaste mess with his wand.
—You know, sometimes I wonder how we’re all still alive, the way you lot go throwing everything around. —He then made for the door but stopped. —And why charm his hair when you can replace his shampoo with the hairless potion that comes detailed on the last number of Witch Weekly ?
He said the last part without turning, and Sirius was left alone in the bathroom grinning to his retreating figure.
Throwing off his pyjamas, he made note to seize a copy of the magazine from one of the girls as soon as possible and stepped into the shower, because, again, it was being a hard morning in more ways than one.
As a result of his little fixation, he was spending more time with Remus than ever (James had taken to call him “Moony’s lap dog” by now). However, Remus didn’t seem to mind and complied to all of Sirius’ antics with a mild level of resignation. It was one of these moments when Sirius finally, catastrophically, realized.
—Mooooony, I’m bored!
He came bustling through the portrait hole, earning a couple of annoyed looks from the few people that were still up scattered around the common room. Sirius ignored them completely in favour of stomping his way towards the sofa where Remus was reading a book, and threw himself dramatically on it with his head on his lap.
When his friend showed no reaction, he lifted his hand and started poking him on the cheek.
Remus grunted and pressed down the book forcefully on his face.
—Merlin, Sirius, go pester James or Peter!
—Nope. —His voice came muffled by the hard cover.—Prongs fell dead after quidditch practice, didn’t even bothered to shower, the filthy troll, and I don’t know where Wormtail is. Plus, you know you’ll always be my favourite.—The book lifted and he still managed to flash Remus his most winning grin.
When he sighed wearily and glanced at his watch, Sirius knew the battle was won, but waited until his friend set the heavy tome aside and looked down at him.
—Now, what do you want?
He sat up and summoned two butterbeers from his discarded bag, handing one to Remus as the latter shook his head in mild disapproval.
Sirius lost track of the time as they talked and emptied a couple more bottles that’d been left in their stash after the last quidditch party. It was so late they were the only people left on the common room, but none of them were precisely unused to long nights.
They were still sitting together, so close it was a bit ridiculous, with all the space left on the sofa, but in truth it was quite comfortable and he didn’t want to move. He felt strangely giddy, but it was so nice by the fire, and the soft light really did favour Remus. It reflected on his hair, his eyelashes, danced across his face while he stared absently into the flames.
Sirius breath became heavy as suddenly it didn't seemed to be enough air in the room for him anymore. Then Remus turned, and their eyes locked.
He almost didn’t recognise his own name over the blood thundering in his ears, his heart beating painfully on his chest. They were so, so close now, it would be so easy to just lean a bit and kiss him. So he did.
It lasted only a moment, their lips meeting softly with each other, but it collapsed Sirius’ senses all the same. He still felt in a daze as he parted the kiss slowly, blinking, but it was Remus’ shocked expression what brought him back to reality.
His heart stopped and panic spread through his whole body. He bolted from the sofa and got out of the common room without looking back, not even thinking about getting caught outside after curfew.
Sirius ran aimlessly over the dark corridors for a while, the sound of his own footsteps echoing loudly on the stone walls until he found himself on the passage behind the mirror on the fourth floor. Once inside, his back hit the wall and he let himself slide into the floor with his head on his hands.
He had kissed Remus. He really had. Everything had happened so quickly, suddenly Remus had just been there, and Sirius couldn’t help himself. It happened to him a lot lately, and maybe he had just found out why.
James’ voice interrupted his frantic thinking. He stilled in hopes that his friend would go away, but he didn’t have such luck as the mirror in front of him opened and closed.
—C’mon, I know you’re in here, I checked the map.
The Marauder’s map, which showed the location of any person within Hogwarts grounds and one of their greatest accomplishments right along with becoming animagi, though Sirius wasn’t feeling very fond of it just now.
—Why on the name of Merlin are you hiding anyways? —James continued as he took off the invisibility cloak.
His agitation must have been showing all over his face because when James finally looked at him his expression became one of concern.
—You alright, mate?
—I…I don’t know.
Not with little difficulty, James pried the confession out of him.
—You —he started, brow furrowed in confusion —you kissed Moony?
—Haven’t I just said so, you idiot?—Sirius snarled.
—So… you.. .like him?
—No! — he panicked— It’s just- well —but James quickly interrupted his sputtering.
—That makes a lot of sense, actually. You went absolutely bonkers about how handsome and strong and-
He pointed his wand at James, who lifted his hands in surrender.
—Oi, I’m just trying to help! Calm down, will you!?
Sirius crossed his arms defensively and turned his face, but he heard James sigh before continuing more cautiously.
—You are into blokes, then.
It wasn’t a question so he didn’t answer. Couldn’t have even if he’d wanted to.
—But what a disaster!—his friend shouted dramatically—The great Sirius Black, the school’s most eligible bachelor, fancies the pants off his best mate! I can already hear the young ladies of Hogwarts wailing!
Sirius couldn’t hold back a snort, and the atmosphere seemed to loosen up a little.
—Have you ever fancied me?—Said James, breaking it completely.
—What!? No! You are my friend!
—Why not? Remus is your friend too! I’ll let you know, it’s a totally reasonable inquire, I’m a highly desirable gentleman!
—You arrogant berk, I bloody swear if your head gets any bigger-
—And does Moony let you kiss him with that mouth?
Sirius didn’t even bothered with his wand this time and threw himself at James, lifting clouds of dust from the floor as they wrestled.
—What are you going to do?— Asked James once they settled again, still out of breath.
—What do you mean?
— Well, you have to tell him.
—Of course not! He can’t know. Not ever.
—You just kissed him, mate, I think he might have an idea.
Sirius groaned loudly and buried his face onto his lap.
—You don’t think he could… like you back? Did he kiss you back?
—He… —Sirius tried to recall the moment exactly. —It was so fast. He mostly looked stunned.
—I bet he did. But he didn’t throw you off or anything, right? It’s something I guess. Now come to think of it he does stand you better than anyone else, and you are more annoying with him that with anyone else.—He ran a hand through his hair, even messier than usual after their scuffle.—You know, I sometimes wondered about Remus, because he wouldn’t go out with any girls, or even talked about them, but I thought It was just because of his furry little problem.
Sirius listened to James’ reasonings intently, though not very convinced.
—You two should talk anyways, can’t avoid him forever.
—I could try though. —He grumbled with his head down, but James’ glare made clear it was not an option.
—But what if he freaks out? If he doesn’t want to see me or talk to me anymore?
—Padfoot, Remember it’s Remus we’re talking about here. At worst he’ll understand, be both terribly sorry and polite, and you two will get over it as always. And at best… well, from then on Pete and I will have to be very careful upon entering to the dorm without warning.
—Wanker.—He muttered in response, but his friend started poking him with pointy fingers.
—Oh c’mon, as if you wouldn’t want that, ah, wouldnt you?
Sirius was suddenly glad of the dim lights because could feel the heat rising on his face.
—It’s settled then—sentenced James, apparently done with the teasing, as he palmed his hands into his knees and got up —you’ll tell him tomorrow.
—Tomorrow!?— Sirius all but jumped from his seat on the floor.
—Yes, tomorrow. Now, we’re going back to bed because I have a feeling that it will be a long, trying day— he rubbed his eyes tiredly behind his glasses— but not before stopping at the kitchens because I can hear your stomach growling from here, y’know.
When Sirius woke up next day, daylight filled the room from the tall windows and the other three beds were already empty. It was no wonder he had slept in, given the time he came back the night before and the hours he spent lying awake afterwards, thinking about the whole situation. And there had been a lot to think, indeed.
He imagined himself with Remus, just to be sure that’s what he really wanted, holding him, kissing him, touching him… until he imagined too much and too well and memories from the last few months flooded his mind like a tidal wave.
At lunch, the day they charmed the chairs on the Hufflepuff table to scream when someone tried to sit on them, which forced most students to relocate and the Gryffindor table became so cramped that Remus’ thigh was bumping and rubbing against his at every move. When James had pushed Peter into a hippogriff dung returning from Hagrid’s house, and it had somehow escalated into a full-blown battle between the four of them that ended with Remus on top of Sirius, pinning him forcefully to the ground. Inside a broom cupboard, hiding from Filch after they transfigured the Slytherin quidditch cups on the trophy room to burst like geysers, with Remus breath on his neck and his whole body pressed to his back. And the shower, oh, Merlin...
James was right, he had to talk to Remus better sooner than later because he couldn’t carry on like that for much more.
Thankfully, James and Peter had carried the weight of the conversation during lunch, engaging into a passionate discussion over the upcoming match between Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff that very afternoon. Remus had been undoubtedly quieter than usual, but nothing compared to Sirius, so distraught he had barely managed a few mindless comments in between playing with the food on his plate.
James had forced him to stay at the castle afterwards, seeing as Remus was planning to spend some time in the library instead of accompanying them to the match. Thus, he was currently in no better state, hiding in the dorm in hopes of finding the courage to go and search for his friend anytime soon.
Tired of pacing holes on the carpet, he ended taking a seat on the bed that belonged precisely to the object of his thoughts, and was so absorbed in them that when the door opened he was caught completely off ward and shot up abruptly.
—Hi.—It came up rushed and high pitched, and sirius cursed himself.
—Um, hi.—Remus halted at the door eyeing him carefully. —What are you doing here? I mean, I thought you’d be in the match.
—Yeah, It’s just not worth facing this weather just to see Ravenclaw sweep the Hufflepuffs off the pitch. —He tried with a nervous laugh.
—Oh, of course.—His friend’s face remained carefully neutral, gaze down as he made a couple of doubtful steps into the room— Right, so I was just going to grab something and head back-
—No!— Sirius interrupted him quickly—No, I… —He sighed and ran a hand through his hair —I actually wanted to talk to you. Please?
He shifted to the side inviting Remus to sit with him at the edge of the bed, and he did so keeping a respectful distance between them, hands neatly pulled in his lap.
—You know how, on occasion, I’ve been known to act without thinking it properly before?
The corner of Remus’ mouth lifted.
—Not the point! What I’m trying to say here is that yesterday was one of those times. And I’m sorry if it disgusted you or anything.
—It’s fine- It didn’t. Don’t worry. —He muttered with his eyes fixed on his lap, but even with his head down Sirius could see the deep blush running from his cheeks and all the way down his neck.
It wasn’t by no means a bad response, but when it was obvious he wasn’t saying anything more, Sirius shifted carefully a bit closer to continue.
—I didn’t know what I was doing. Or well, I did- I just hadn’t realized yet. Moony...I like you. A lot.
—Well, we are friends-
—Not as friends.
—You…—Remus seemed at a loss for words. — Why?
The question threw him off completely, and he looked at the other boy in confusion.
—Sirius, you are —he started in the same voice he used to explain Peter a particularly difficult spell —you could have anyone you wanted. I just don’t see how-
—No! —Sirius cried heatedly —I’m not letting you out with that excuse! Oh, I’m a poor werewolf, nobody loves me!
—It’s not an excuse!
—It is with me! You know damn well I don’t care. You know it Remus.
—Well, It wasn’t even what I was going to say. —He said angrily, and Sirius snorted.
—Oh, go on then please.
—I would If you’d be so kind as to stop interrupting me.
They glared at each other, but Sirius knew better than keep arguing and allow him to stray from the topic. Finally, Remus caved and resumed his explanation with a long sigh.
—Sirius, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but you are popular, you’re handsome, and really smart too-
—You think I’m handsome? —Sirius everything but jumped from his seat, the rest of the conversation already forgotten.
—As much as I hate to push your ego even further, I think we can establish that is a known fact-
—You like me then?
He had seen his opportunity, and was determined to seize it.
—What?! I didn’t say that!
—Sirius! —Remus’ eyes widened almost comically.
—I mean it. I didn’t know until it happened. So, maybe, if you let me kiss you…
—I don’t think it’s a good idea.
—Please, just once, and then I promise I’ll shut up, if that’s what you want.
—Remus, let me, please…
He hadn’t fully realized how much he needed it before, and he didn’t know what he was going to do if the other boy ultimately refused.
It came so muffled he almost missed it. However, Remus was looking down, hands toying with the frayed hem of his sweater, and Sirius was afraid he had imagined it.
—Yeah? — he whispered, searching for a confirmation.
A slight nod was all he got in return, sending his pulse in a wild race. He cupped Remus’ face and leaned in cautiously, feeling very much as if he was trying to approach a wild animal without scaring it. After a moment, following the gentle guide of his hand, he turned slowly and Sirius licked his lips in anticipation. His breath hitched as Remus’ own parted unexpectedly in response, and he closed his eyes to cross the remaining distance between them.
He caught his friend’s top lip and sucked in, once, twice. It was almost overwhelming, and he felt his hand tremble against Remus’ jaw, but the lack of response made Sirius part the kiss with his heart on his throat.
They looked at each other, and Sirius’ insides twisted in fear that all was over. However, they were still so close that their noses almost touched, and Remus wasn’t moving away. Desperate, he tried again.
It took him a few agonising moments, but finally, tentatively, Remus started to kiss him back. Sirius was soaring, his whole body feeling as if it was going to burst. It was still slow, but so intense that soon they were both coming for air.
This time it wasn’t even clear who started it, and Sirius could barely contain himself anymore. His tongue found Remus’ hot mouth and he whined pathetically when the other responded in kind. Suddenly there was a hand clutching at his shirt and another one tangled in his hair, while he grasped his friend’s hip as if his life depended on it.
Before long, the position grew uncomfortable and they fell back into the bed, startling them both still. Their ragged breathing sounded loud on the quietness of the room, feeling warm on each others’ faces, and upsetting a small lock on Remus’ forehead that Sirius couldn’t help but smooth back in place.
He obliged himself to sit back then in order to give his friend some space. Remus lifted from the mattress too, and they resumed their earlier positions on the edge of the bed.
—See Moony —Sirius hastened, worrying that the moment would pass —you liked it too.
He reached slowly for the other boy’s hand, holding it carefully into his and tracing patterns on the soft skin as he spoke.
—I know you must be confused, Merlin knows I am too, but this —he gave their joined hands a little squeeze and met Remus’ gaze again, unable to explain the intensity of his feelings —I think we could try something, I think we should at least…
He trailed off as he watched Remus lift his free hand, and closed his eyes to the gentle touch of fingers caressing his cheek. They were promptly followed by the feeling of a forehead pressing against his, the brush of a nose, and Sirius shifted so he could bury his face on his friends’ neck. The scent he found there, so familiar and new at the same time, made him dizzy with emotion, and their hug tightened.
—Yes —Remus’ voice sounded hushed but clear, lips right against his ear sending a shiver down his spine — Yes .