The clock ticks.
Surely, Sirius thinks, it can’t be necessary for it to tick so loudly. What possible benefit could be derived from this torture? Nor is there any way the problem cannot be solved by magic. No, he thinks, this is deliberate. This is, in fact, a special Detention Clock, made for the express purpose of causing him to misspell ‘thief’ for the eighth time and have to cross out yet another line.
At the desk beside him, Remus’s hand moves carefully and steadily across the parchment. From what Sirius can see, his handwriting is perfect. He probably likes doing lines. He probably finds it soothing, or thinks of it as an opportunity to improve his handwriting, or something. Sirius feels hot and itchy just looking at him. He feels something of a sense of déjà vu at how his gaze is drawn to Remus’s hand, gliding around the curves of each letter so precisely it’s almost hypnotic. He takes in the tension in Remus’s thumb where it grasps the quill, the way it stretches the skin over his knuckle and makes the scar there gleam white. He shakes himself. Even a desk away, he is as aware of Remus’s physical presence as if he were pressed up against him. It seems to make the air buzz, as though even the tiniest movement on Remus’s part sends some kind of ripple outwards, making Sirius’s skin prickle. Even Slughorn seems aware of the tension between them. When Sirius looks away from Remus, he notices Slughorn glancing back and forth between them, looking faintly confused. Sirius gives him a weak smile, then averts his eyes. Even staring in the opposite direction, he can still feel that Remus is there. The hairs on the back of his neck feel as though they’re standing on end.
Now seriously disconcerted, he looks back to his lines and sees that he’s smudged the last several rows while distracted. Swearing, he attempts to fix the damage with his wand, but only succeeds in turning the ink faintly purple. When he glances up he catches Remus smirking at him. The sight of his smile sends a jolt straight through his stomach to his groin. They both look hurriedly away. Sirius shifts in his seat to try and conceal the fact that he’s now half-hard. He counts the lines he’s done so far. Only one hundred and twenty-seven to go.
The clock ticks.
It’s past midnight, and Remus and James are alone in the common room, Remus curled up in a chair by the fire and James leaning against an ottoman with the soles of his bare feet only inches away from the embers. They have an ongoing if not particularly competitive competition to see who can get more bits of scrap parchment into the grate, and it’s a good thing it isn’t competitive because Remus is being soundly defeated. If it was competitive, Remus would point out the gross unfairness of the whole thing given James’s obvious advantages of a) Quidditch and b) being closer to the fire. But he’s far too mature for that.
It feels strange to be able to worry about small things, like whether accidentally-on-purpose kicking James in the head to break his run of twenty-three on-target shots in a row is outside the boundaries of his moral code. There’s a strange tension that he and Sirius share now, a hyper-awareness of the placement of each other’s bodies that makes it difficult to concentrate on much else. It’s as if he can see Sirius even when he isn’t looking at him, which is plainly ridiculous. But still, he feels strangely drained. If nothing else, he hasn’t slept well the last few nights. Even with two sets of bedcurtains between them, he feels as if he can sense Sirius from across the dormitory. He wonders if he’s been sleeping. It’s been three days since the closet incident (and yes, he is well aware of the irony, thank you), and he’s very nearly at the point of wishing it had never happened. Even if it was- well. His experience is pretty limited, but he can’t imagine that anything could possibly measure up to that minute and a half in a dark cupboard with frogspawn all over his shoe. But nothing is worth losing Sirius over, whatever the number of Silencing Charms he’s had to cast over the past few nights might suggest to the contrary. And maybe he’s worrying too much, but it feels like he might be. They haven’t had a conversation lasting over a minute since Closetgate. Sirius’s disappearances are getting steadily more frequent, his excuses more and more flimsy. He’s even started bolting out of lessons, and not just History of Magic but Transfiguration. Remus doesn’t think it’s an over-reaction to find it hurtful that Sirius is willing to so frequently risk the wrath of McGonagall just to get away from him.
James can be surprisingly perceptive, a fact Remus often forgets, which is why he nearly jumps out of his skin when James looks up at him and says, ‘Stop agitating and do something about it.’
Remus completely fluffs his throw. The balled-up parchment bounces off the wall and lands on James’s calf. ‘What are you-’
‘I’m not just a pretty face, you know’, says James. ‘Honestly, Moony, do you think I’m a complete idiot? Or did you just genuinely not realise that this little domestic, whatever it’s about, affects the rest of us too? Poor Peter has been comfort-eating like nobody’s business.’
‘I thought that was because he still hasn’t plucked up the courage to tell Mary he’s a virgin’, says Remus. Peter and Mary have been dating for nearly a month, a period of time in which she would usually have dated, shagged and dumped at least three guys, and Peter is starting to break out in a cold sweat whenever anyone so much as mentions sex (which, around Gryffindors, is a lot). It would be sort of sweet except that it necessitates Remus contemplating Peter’s hypothetical sex life, which he’d really rather not do.
‘That, too’, James concedes. ‘But mostly it’s because you and Sirius won’t even look one another in the eye and, without sounding like a girl, it’s scaring the shit out of us.’ The silence stretches between them for a long time. Then James says, ‘Look, you don’t have to tell me-’
This is a golden opportunity to escape this whole awkward conversation, and Remus knows it. But- well, he hasn’t talked to anyone about it. Having the same conversation with himself for three days straight cannot possibly be healthy. At this point, he’s willing to do almost anything to stave off the inevitable insanity. Even talk to James.
‘No’, he says, still not quite able to believe that he’s voluntarily initiating this conversation. ‘No, um, look, you have to promise not to freak out, okay? Swear you won’t freak out?’
‘I swear’, says James, ‘on Lily Evans’s limpid emerald-green eyes.’
Suppressing the simultaneous urges to ask James where the hell he learned the word ‘limpid’ and beg him to never, ever use it again causes Remus actual physical pain. But he knows he can’t give himself an excuse to chicken out by changing the subject. ‘Right’, he says, wrestling his urge to gag into submission. ‘Yes, well, er. Me and Sirius, we sort of, um, we. You know.’
James stares blankly at him for a long, torturous moment. Remus finds himself wondering if it’s too late to take it back, to scream ONLY JOKING or cast Obliviate or shove his head in the fire as a distraction. But then James’s face changes into something odd that Remus can’t quite read. ‘Oh’, he says, quietly. It isn’t quite an ‘oh’ of surprise, and Remus reminds himself once again that James is more perceptive than he appears. ‘You, um’, he continues. There is clearly some kind of fierce inner struggle going on in his brain. ‘You and Sirius, you…shagged?’
Remus chokes, leading to a coughing fit so violent his eyes fill with tears. He manages to wheeze, as forcefully as he can with the limited breath available to him, ‘No! No. Absolutely not. NO.’ He takes a few deep breaths. ‘We just, er, kissed.’ This is true enough that his conscience only gives a very minor twinge. Trying to explain to James the exact ratio of innocent kissing to not-so-innocent semi-groping that went on is more than he can take. This entire conversation is already fast shaping up to be a hot contender for the single most excruciating experience of his life.
‘Oh, well that’s-’ starts James, and then backtracks, ‘Not that I wouldn’t be alright with, I mean, if you two wanted to- you know, me and Peter could-’
‘Please’, whimpers Remus, ‘I beg you, stop talking.’
‘Right-o’, says James, with entirely unconvincing breeziness. The awkward silence to end all awkward silences ensues. Remus gnaws at his hangnails and stares into the fire, determinedly not looking James’s way. After what feels like an eternity, James says, ‘And that’s why things have been so…weird?’
Remus nods. Then James slowly and precisely balls up a piece of doodle-festooned parchment and lobs it at Remus’s head. His aim, as ever, is perfect.
‘Ow’, says Remus, making no attempt to mask the relief in his voice. ‘What was that for?’
‘Fix this, you muffin’, says James. ‘It’s nowhere near as complicated as you think it is.’
‘Coming from you-’ Remus starts to say, then gives up. After all, James’s advice can’t possibly make the situation worse. Probably.
‘Look’, says James, in a gratingly patronising tone, ‘have you considered maybe talking to him about this?’
‘Talking to him!’, squeaks Remus, trying hard not to think about the last time he really tried to talk to Sirius. ‘Silly me! Oh, yes, I can just see that conversation going down a treat!’ Then he deflates and says defeatedly, ‘What would I even say?’
James stares hard at him. ‘What do you want to say?’
‘That is the least helpful advice anyone has ever given anyone else in the long and illustrious history of unhelpful advice’, says Remus.
‘Okay’, says James. ‘Well, what do you want?’
Remus’s first thought is, I want things to go back to normal. But he’s not sure they ever could, and moreover, he realises suddenly, he doesn’t want them to.
‘I want things to be alright between us’, he says. ‘Between all of us. And…’ Part of him wants to leave it there, but James is staring him down over his glasses in a disconcertingly Dumbledore-ish fashion. It is clear he will brook no avoidance. ‘And I want… to do it again, I suppose. Kissing him, and…so on. Without these horrible awkward pauses in between.’
‘All right’, says James. ‘Off you go, then.’
‘What?’ Remus squawks. ‘What do I-’
James fixes him with a stare of alarming intensity.
‘Go and tell him what you just told me. Or kiss him and then tell him. Or tell him and then kiss him, I really don’t care. Don’t stammer at me, do it. This is going to be a good year. Our mischief making will be more spectacular than ever before, our names more feared, and I absolutely positively will get a date with Lily Evans. And if you two want to have at it as well, then I honestly don’t care, though I can’t say I think much of your taste. But there is one thing I will not allow, and that is you two and your total inability to communicate making everything awkward and destroying the Marauderly camaraderie that is the very backbone of our brotherhood. Go on! Sod off! Go!’ And he continues to glare at Remus until he gets up from his chair and scrambles up the steps to the dormitory.
Sirius is lying awake. Of course he’s lying awake. It isn’t Peter’s fault. Peter’s snores are as loud as ever, but he’s long since learned how to tune them out. But Remus still hasn’t gone to bed, even though it has to be past one and it’s not like him to stay up so late. What if he’s decided that he can’t even sleep in the same room as Sirius anymore? What if he’s gone off to sleep in the common room, or in the Shack, or something? It’s the sort of thing Remus would do. Maybe he should go find him.
He’s halfway out of bed and groping for his dressing gown by the time he hears the door click open. Remus appears, shuffling into the room as if he’s not sure he wants to be there. Sirius freezes. He briefly entertains the thought of feigning sleepwalking before Remus hisses ‘Sirius?’ and he figures it’s a lost cause. Remus hovers by his bedpost. He’s chewing his hangnail. In the dark, it’s much harder to acknowledge that they’re Being Awkward. Something about whispered conversations in the middle of the night preclude awkwardness. ‘Come with me?’ whispers Remus. ‘I need to talk to you.’
‘Where?’ Sirius hisses back. ‘I think James is still in the common room.’
Remus casts around for a second, worrying still harder at the side of his thumb. ’Um. Bathroom? It’s important.’
They tiptoe one by one into the bathroom. Remus turns the light on, flooding Sirius’s corneas with white-hot agony. Sirius lets out a yelp that is cut off by Remus slapping his hand over his mouth, a totally non-sexual gesture that somehow makes him nearly jump out of his skin. In circumstances such as these, Sirius would usually lick Remus’s hand to make him let go, but at a time like this it doesn’t feel as if it would have the connotation of innocent mischief that it usually carries. Remus takes his hand away, squinting in the blinding light. ‘Um. Sorry. Light off?’
Sirius nods. Remus turns out the light and mutters Lumos, producing a much more bearable amount of light. He sits down with his back against the bath. Sirius sits beside him. ‘Oh, god’, says Remus, sounding kind of nauseous, and then he leans in and cups Sirius’s jaw with his hand and kisses him, hard and closed-mouthed and determined. It starts out more a statement than a kiss, but then Sirius breathes out and lets his shoulders slump and the clash of their lips and teeth melts into something easier. They kiss for a long moment, and then Remus pulls away.
‘Look’, says Remus, sounding much calmer than Sirius feels, ‘the thing is- OK. I really, really fancy you.’ Sirius opens his mouth- to say what, he has no idea- but Remus shushes him. ‘I just have to say this, OK? I don’t think this thing is going to just stop, or go away or something. And besides, I don’t want it to. Because I fancy you. And what I want is to keep doing this, on a more than semi-regular basis, without it being horrible and weird in between.’ He runs his hand frantically through his hair. ‘Can’t this- us doing this- can’t it just be normal?’
Sirius breathes out, long and slow. ‘That sounds fucking ace.’
Remus grins and kisses him. His wand has gone out but it doesn’t matter, their eyes have adjusted sufficiently to the dark that they can see each other anyway. This is the first kiss that feels halfway normal; not some earth-shattering, friendship-destroying event that rewrites Sirius’s insides, just warm-tasting and firm and real and Remus. ‘Don’t run off with Dorcas Meadowes, OK?’ Sirius whispers, and he thinks Remus understands the deeper meaning behind it, but he says anyway ‘I don’t want- I just want you. No-one else.’ It feels like a promise, and really he is far too young and virile to be foisted with such commitment, but then Remus’s teeth catch at his lower lip and he decides he doesn’t care.
Remus is a really, really fantastic kisser.
It’s been four days since the bathroom incident (days filled with so much truly fantastic kissing that his lips look as if they’ve been hit with a Swelling Solution) and Sirius still isn’t sure whether or not he should be surprised by this. It’s extremely difficult to ponder such deep philosophical conundrums while Remus’s lips are ghosting over his jaw, just barely brushing against his skin. It’s maddening. One thing he knows for sure, though- he will never be fooled by Remus’s mild-mannered, cardigan-wearing, tea-loving exterior again. It was all a lie, a big fat lie. He doesn’t really mind, on the whole.
Remus grins at him wickedly. Sirius is not used to Remus grinning like this. It would be downright disturbing if it wasn’t so attractive. He pulls Remus closer by the back of the neck and kisses him, hard. Remus wriggles closer still, and then with a stealthiness that has to be some sort of werewolf trick and really shouldn’t be allowed he slides his leg over Sirius’s and shifts his weight so that all of a sudden he is directly on top of Sirius, straddling him. Sirius lets out a rush of air all at once. He finds it suddenly very difficult to think about anything other than the feeling of Remus’s weight pressing down on him, the heat, the pressure of Remus’s thighs on either side of him. Remus looks down at him and there is a sudden flash of the Remus he’s used to as he realises exactly what he’s done and where he’s sitting, or rather what he’s sitting on. He turns bright red. It’s a lovely colour on him, Sirius thinks.
‘Um,’ Remus says. This is not really up to Remus’s usual high standards of eloquence, but then if he’s feeling anything like how Sirius is feeling this is not really a surprise. Sirius dreams about reaching the pinnacle of articulacy that is ‘Um.’ Or he would, if he wasn’t somewhat preoccupied with the fucking obscene way Remus is chewing on his lower lip, and also arse, directly on top of cock, did he mention? Their eyes meet and they both snort with laughter. It reminds him that Remus is still Remus, hithertofore undetected carnality notwithstanding. He likes both Remuses equally. Well, he thinks, as a smirking Remus mouths his way wetly over Sirius’s neck, nearly equally. Remus’s hips press down over his crotch and he gasps much too loudly and is embarrassed for almost an entire second before Remus does it again. He lets his head flop back against the pillows and makes a sound that is much too high-pitched to be made by anyone with a functional (at present, extremely functional) set of male genitalia. He’s certain he never made so many embarrassing noises in any of his encounters with girls. But Remus is different.
And then Remus’s fingers are reaching for the top button of his shirt and working it open, and they both freeze. Their eyes meet. Mouth dry, Sirius nods.
Remus’s fingers move down the front of his shirt, undoing the buttons one by one. Each brush of fingers against his bare chest sends a shock straight to his crotch. Both of them are breathing slowly, moving slowly, eyes never leaving one another’s face. Sirius’s brain is screaming at him. REMUS IS TAKING OFF YOUR SHIRT HOLY SWEET MERLIN THOSE ARE REMUS’S FINGERS GETTING CLOSER TO YOUR COCK ALERT ALERT THIS IS NOT A DRILL. Then the last button falls open. Remus’s hands move to his shoulders, edging the shirt over his arms, and Sirius props himself up on his elbows to help him. He shoves the shirt away. Whether it falls off the bed or ends up tangled somewhere among the bedding he neither knows nor cares. He reaches out and brushes Remus’s collarbone where it is exposed by the loosened collar of his shirt, feels Remus shiver. ‘Can I-’ he begins. ‘God,’ breathes Remus, ‘yes.’
He has seen Remus shirtless comparatively rarely. Of all the Marauders, he is the least inclined to shed his clothing; in fact, he’s always seemed to have a positive aversion to it. In any case, he’s never really paid attention to him. Sirius is sure, at least, that he’s never seen him look as beautiful as he does now. His eyes are drawn to the way his stomach rises and falls below his ribs, how it makes the scars across it shift and stretch. He touches them, carefully, and Remus shivers and kisses him. This kiss is hungry and there is intent behind it, and when Sirius flips Remus onto his back and straddles him Remus makes a surprised little noise that tails off in a long exhale of breath. He kisses Remus’s neck, his collarbone, and when Remus bucks beneath him it fills him with a strange recklessness. He can’t stop. He doesn’t want to stop, not when Remus is this beautiful beneath him, struggling to keep his breathing steady.
He takes Remus’s nipple between his teeth and Remus slams his head back into the pillow, not quite biting back a moan. Sirius traces a finger along the long scar that starts below Remus’s nipple and ends just above the bottom of his ribcage. Remus moans in earnest, and Sirius kisses the very end of the scar and then works his way downwards, placing kisses across Remus’s stomach. There’s an obvious intent here now he hadn’t fully realised he was implying, and his heart is thudding uncomfortably in his chest, but when he runs his tongue over Remus’s hipbone and hears him moan ‘Oh- Sirius’, he stops caring. He wants this, and even though it feels like a line he can never un-cross, he knows he’ll never want to anyway. He undoes Remus’s fly with shaking fingers, and Remus raises his hips off the bed to allow him to slide his trousers down over his thighs. It’s still a bit of a struggle, and Remus snorts when he nearly falls off the bed trying to pull the leg over Remus’s right foot, but then Remus is wearing nothing but his boxers and he swallows, hard. He glances up at him, as if asking for permission. Remus’s eyes are dark, pupils dilated, and he manages a shaky smile. Sirius presses a wet kiss to Remus’s cock through the sweat-soaked cotton and feels Remus shudder beneath him.
Sirius peels Remus’s boxers over his hips and feels his heart thump wildly at the sight of Remus’s cock, flushed and heavy against his stomach. It looks intimidatingly huge, and he doesn’t know how much of it he’ll be able to take. He licks tentatively up the shaft, and Remus swears and bucks.
‘This-’ Remus gasps, ‘this isn’t going to last long, fuck-’
The noise Remus makes when he sinks his mouth over the shaft is the most beautiful thing he’s ever heard. He tastes- strange; not bad, but strange, salty and with an odd earthiness underneath it. It is a stretch to get even halfway down. The weight filling his mouth is alien and takes some getting used to. Remus is letting out a more or less constant stream of swearing, hands fisted in Sirius’s hair. He quickly finds a rhythm that doesn’t make him want to cough, and even when the head of Remus’s cock bumps against the back of his throat and makes him gag a little it doesn’t matter because Remus stammers out Sirius’s name and Sirius feels as if he might burst, harder than he’s ever been in his life. When Remus comes he writhes, hips bucking wildly, and groans out Sirius’s name, and Sirius swallows, about half a second from coming in his pants. He pulls off with a wet pop and Remus breathes out shakily before pulling Sirius back up the bed and kissing him, open-mouthed and dirty. Sirius ruts furiously against him, so hard it’s painful, and Remus fumbles open his trousers and wraps a hand around his cock. The angle is awkward but it doesn’t matter, he barely manages two strokes before every muscle in his body seizes up and Sirius comes, swearing into Remus’s shoulder.
He feels boneless, sprawled half onto the bed and half onto Remus. They’re both sticky with sweat. ‘Ugh’, says Remus, regarding his hand, which is still covered in Sirius’s come. ‘This is disgusting. We are disgusting.’
‘Disgustingly sexy’, mumbles Sirius vaguely into Remus’s shoulder. His brain still hasn’t quite started working again. ‘Oh. Um. Sorry about that, Moony old chap.’
Remus regards him for a second, then bursts out laughing. ‘What?’ yelps Sirius, indignant. ‘What are you laughing at? I have to tell you, Moony, most people would take offense to being openly laughed at by the person they’ve just sucked off.’
‘Sorry!’ gasps Remus. ‘I’m sorry, really! It’s just- this is real. And- this-’, he gestures with his messy hand, ‘this is real, too. I’m sorry. It’s just the shock. It’ll wear off, I expect. Given a few more-’
‘What?’ asks Sirius, grinning wickedly. ‘A few more what, exactly?’
Remus hits him in the face with a pillow.
The problem with having really fantastic sex with someone you share a room with is that it after the first time, you more or less never want to stop doing it. Which is all well and good, except that it becomes increasingly difficult to remember that two other people share that room, too.
This doesn’t really become a problem until a week later. Sirius’s trousers are around his ankles and Remus’s hand is wrapped around his cock and all is wonderful in the world when Peter’s voice comes from outside the confines of his bed, asking ‘Sirius, have you see my spare shirt?’ and then the curtains are twitched open and Peter’s face is staring down at them, mouth slightly agape, looking for all the world like a traumatised guppy. Then he vanishes. Sirius wrenches the curtains fully open in time to see Wormtail scuttling out of the dormitory door and away down the stairs. Transforming under stress is a habit of his. Sirius thinks it might be related to his form being a rat in the first place. It makes sense.
They’re both hopping around trying to button their shirts and get their trousers on at the same time when James bursts into the room. Peter stumbles in after him, eyes slightly glazed.
‘All right’, says James, drawing himself up to his full height. Sirius finds himself reaching for Remus for support. ‘Whose bright idea was it to get it on in the middle of the day in the dorm room?’ He glares at them both. ‘Oh, and more to the point. How did neither of you two clowns remember to tell Peter?’