“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.”
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—"
“—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!”
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.”
“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.”
“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.”
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?”
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?”
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…”
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…”
“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.