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A rapid pounding on the door startles Sirius making him fall off the platform and into the lava below for the fifth time in a row. Cursing, he throws the controller behind him on the couch and stomps over towards the door, annoyed both with the level he’s been stuck on and the unexpected interruption. The knocking pauses, before picking up even louder than before.
“I’M COMING, HOLD ON!” he hollers at the door down the hall. Pausing just long enough to peer through the peephole and be vaguely certain the person isn’t there to murder him, he yanks the door open just before they can bring their closed fist down on the door again. “What?” he demands.
The man in front of him squares his shoulders, nostrils flaring. “Don’t even fucking start with that attitude, as if I’m some sort of inconvenience to you after everything you’ve done to fuck over my life, you, you-”
Sirius blinks in surprise, recovering just before the man can charge on. “Look, I’m sorry I took the last bag of crisps from Tesco yesterday, I can definitely see how that would put you in such a strop on a Friday night.”
He smirks when the man’s eyes go even wider, mouth gaping open and closed like a fish while he searches for a response. Sirius crosses his arms and leans in the doorframe, waiting with mock patience for him to respond. “You think this is a bloody joke?”
Inspecting his fingernails, Sirius tries to scrape out the charcoal stuck there to no avail. He’s not entirely sure why he tries, since it just ends up there again the next time he’s in the studio, but in the moment it feels like the right thing to annoy the stranger who has so rudely interrupted his lazy Friday night. “The only joke I see here is that swotty cardigan.”
The other’s face flushes red with a violent blush and Sirius almost feels bad, because yeah alright, maybe that was a bit insulting if you don’t know Sirius and his brand of playful humour. He pushes away the feeling though, because this bastard is the one who was pounding on his door just to start hollering at him for no apparent reason. He’s never even seen the man before.
“Yeah, sure, steal my bird and then insult my clothing. Why not?” He waves a hand flippantly but Sirius stands up shocked.
“Which part are you confused by?” the man seethes, eyes narrowed dangerously. “The part where I know you’re sleeping with my girl, or the part where you insulted my clothes two seconds ago.”
“The first – I’m very aware about the cardigan joke.”
“There’s no point in playing dumb, I fucking know.” The other sighs, all of the wind gone from his sails, shoulders slumping as he rakes a hand through disheveled curls, damp from the spitting mist outside. “Reversed the number on her phone and found the billing address.”
“I didn’t steal your girl, mate. I mean, I’m fucking sorry because that’s horrible, but it wasn’t me.” A snarl pulls up the other’s lip, he glares with disdain, but Sirius holds his hands up before he can continue. “I’m gay, for fucks sake. Like, really, really, gay. You’ve got the wrong bloke.”
Face slack, eyes rake over him and Sirius is suddenly acutely aware of the fact he didn’t bother to put on a shirt and is standing in his baggiest joggers and barefoot. “Oh,” the man replies eloquently. He licks his lips, then digs a note from his pocket, the handwriting on it hurried and thick from too much pressure. “So you’re not, Benjy Fenwick?”
Sirius freezes midway through fidgeting with his hair; his heart similarly feels as if it has stopped in his chest. “No…” he says slowly, leaning to peer at the note as if it will be different than what the man has said out loud. “But that’s my boyfriend’s name…”
“Oh. Oh.” Eyes wide, the man looks horrified and guilty, despite having done nothing wrong aside from interrupting Sirius’ night and accusing him of cheating with his girlfriend. And turn Sirius’ world upside down. He shoves the note toward Sirius, who verifies that, yes, that is Benjy’s phone number, and name, and Sirius’ address on the paper.
“Well,” Sirius says heavily, shoving all of his swirling emotions away into a box to be dealt with later over a bottle of scotch. “I was just playing some Super Mario Brothers, but it looks like I have some redecorating to attend to. Did you have any plans for your evening or do you feel like helping? Might help with your own anger, since you didn’t get to properly yell.”
“Yeah, I’d actually love to lend a hand,” he answers with relish. “Remus Lupin, by the way. And, sorry for shouting. And almost breaking down your door.”
Sirius shrugs nonchalauntly, as if both happen on the regular. “Sirius Black. Come on in.” He stands back, gesturing the other into the apartment. “Luckily we have nice weather for this.” Finding a jumper he had left draped over the sofa, Sirius throws open the balcony door and ignores the way the fine mist immediately wets the floor. He peers down at the empty lawn beyond the railing before returning to Remus who is still watching him with a certain level of guilt. “I’ll pile his stuff for you and you can have the pleasure of tossing it out front?”
Remus nods wordlessly and Sirius sets to work, collecting the things that Benjy has accumulated in his apartment over the nine months they’ve been dating. Clothes and books, toiletries, coffee mugs, and that ugly painting of a cat in a top hat that Sirius loathes because he is a dog person thank you very much. At first Remus just drops the items gingerly over the railing, but when he starts really getting into it, throwing things with more force and spreading it across the lawn beside the walk up, Sirius can’t help but grin. He throws the stupid cat painting himself, the last thing to go, and rests his elbows on the balcony next to Remus.
“What a sight that is,” he admires, bumping his shoulder against the other. “Great job. Thank you for the help.”
“I’m sure you could have handled it yourself,” Remus mumbles, fidgeting with his cardigan sleeves. “But thank you for letting me help. Felt pretty good. Probably better than yelling.”
“Did you not do the same with her stuff?”
Remus’ shoulders slump, but he follows Sirius back into the flat when he tugs on him gently by the elbow, pulling him out of the rain that has started coming down with conviction. Sirius indulges himself with thoughts of Freyr bringing his wrath down on Benjy’s possessions for his virile infidelity.
“No, I came from texting her to have her things out by the time I get back home. I thought if I came and yelled at him… well, I don’t know what I thought, to be honest.”
“I don’t blame you. I’m not entirely sure what I think either.”
“Did you have any idea?”
“None. Wonder if that’s where he’s at right now, helping her get her shite for your place and no idea his is out in that sodden mess.” Sirius tries to laugh, but falls short, instead settling for crossing to the kitchen pulling out a hardly touched bottle of scotch and two glasses. “Have a drink with me?”
Remus hesitates. “I’d hate to further impose on your night.”
“No imposition. Friendly drink among commiserators, hmm?” He shakes the bottle in temptation while Super Mario Bros pause music taunts them merrily in the background.
A drink and a half later of Sirius’ best single malt sees them on the sofa, backs against each arm to face each other with a plush blanket thrown across their laps. The alcohol has long since stopped to burn and Sirius just sighs in pleasure at the pleasant heat as another swallow warms his belly.
“At least you hadn’t been together long?” he offers, knowing that it’s very little by means of consolement to this kind of hurt.
Remus scoffs, staring into the amber liquid before taking a hearty swig. “Honestly, I’m not even upset she’s gone, just pissed she cheated. Like, what’s the fucking point in that? Just break up and whatever, don’t cheat.”
“Right!” Sirius agrees vehemently, pushing himself more upright with his elbows, leaning forward with intensity in his gaze. “You deserve way better than that, what a bitch move. I mean, I guess especially since you haven’t been together that long? Just call it off and move on. How did you even meet her?”
Rubbing the bridge of his nose, Remus has his eyes closed and Sirius takes the opportunity to really study the man without drawing attention to the fact his eyes are lingering. He could always blame it on the alcohol, and with that in mind takes another sip.
“She’s the coworker of a good friend who says I have shite taste in men.”
Sirius chokes a bit on his drink, the other’s soft green eyes opening in amused concern.
“Yes, I’m bisexual. Though, I take it you don’t have a problem with the principle itself, although perhaps have more of a problem with it than usual at this particular moment.” He looks away, pulling the sleeves of that damn cardigan down over his hands and wrapping them around the glass, cradling it like a crux.
“Benjy’s a right asshole, but that doesn’t reflect on all bisexuals,” he says darkly. “My best mate’s wife is bi and I have choice words for anyone who shows a lick of biphobia.”
Remus chuckles with relief and sinks lower into the corner of the couch. His feet are tucked between Sirius’ side and the back cushion. Sirius doesn’t even think as he settles his hand on them, absently stroking a wool covered ankle.
“I didn’t mean it about your cardigan, by the way.” Remus raises an eyebrow in mocking question, the edge of his lip twitching in amusement. “Well, no, I did mean it. It’s a right swotty sweater, but I realised as soon as I said it you didn’t know me or that I was just playing or that I don’t think swot is a bad thing. What I’m saying is, I didn’t mean it to be offensive, and I had no idea your girl had been cheating on you and I was adding insult to injury.”
The other man just shrugs and drains the rest of his glass. Sirius leans over the edge of the couch to make an ill fated acrobatic grab for the bottle, narrowly missing the corner of the coffee table and shouting a triumphant ah hah! while still dangling awkwardly. After righting himself, he holds the bottle aloft, bowing as best he can, like a knight returning from slaying a fire breathing dragon with the scotch as his trophy to the roaring crowd of Remus’ unfettered laughter.
Brandishing it with a flourish, he silently offers to pour more into Remus’ empty glass. “I really shouldn’t,” he offers weakly, even as he holds it out for Sirius to reach more easily.
“The weather is shite. I’m not sure whether you walked or drove, but either way I think you’re best staying on my couch, in which case you might as well continue to indulge with me.”
Remus opens his mouth to respond, but at that moment Sirius’ phone rings shrilly, vibrating from its place on the coffee table and lighting up with Benjy’s name. Setting the bottle down, Sirius reaches for the phone. “What was your ex’s name?” he quickly inquires.
Swiping to answer the phone. “Hullo?”
“Hey, babe,” Benjy’s voice sounds strained and out of breath.
“Babe? You must have the wrong number, this isn’t Emmeline.”
The silence on the other side makes Sirius smile ferally, especially when Remus has to cover his mouth to keep from laughing.
“It’s not like that, Sirius,” the other finally offers feebly.
He rolls his eyes. “Yeah, I can tell. Your shit’s outside. I’ll have the locks changed tomorrow, so don’t bother returning the key.”
“Does this mean we’re done?”
“Yes. Yes, it fucking means we’re done Benjy.”
Remus’ jaw drops open in shock and Sirius shakes his head in equal amazement that the man even had to ask. He doesn’t wait for a reply and opts to hang up. Staring at the phone in his hand, a hysterical laugh bubbles in his chest until tears are streaming from his eyes.
“Did he really fucking ask if you were done?!”
“Yes! He bloody well did! Can you believe that?! What an arse.”
“Fuck him. Fuck ‘em both, pass me that controller. Let’s play some video games.”
Sirius meant to go get in bed. He thinks he even said it out loud once or twice that he was going to go. But somewhere between Layer-cake Desert and the final castle in Frosted Glacier, Sirius lost himself in the plains of Remus’ freckled cheeks, in the flickering glow of candles burning low and bouncing off curls of too-long hair tumbling into soft Irish eyes, and the long fingers that frantically brush them away during heated moments between platforms.
As his blinks became longer in the comfortable darkness of 2am, his head pillowed on his elbow and sleep dragging him down like an anchor mooring him at home port, his last thoughts were of eyes lingering on him and soft curses of distracted deaths.
Therefore it shouldn’t have been as disorienting as it was now, waking up on the couch in a tangle of limbs, screen faded with the pause menu darkened and controller having turned itself off where it lay beneath Remus’ sleeping hand. Careful not to wake the other boy, Sirius reaches for his phone still on the coffee table where he threw it after Benjy’s call. The battery has almost died, but he manages a quick text to James’ dad, who owns his apartment building, about getting the locks changed.
When he returns from plugging the phone in, Remus is shifting lazily, sage-green eyes blinking open but still clouded with sleep. Sirius perches on the edge of the couch, leaning back across Remus’ legs. “What do you think about going out to grab breakfast together?” he inquires softly.
Eyes closed, Remus nods emphatically with a small grunt. They head out not long after, walking side by side in comfortable silence. Sirius deeply inhales the fresh just-rained air that makes him feel invigorated, as if he can do anything, be anyone, with a completely clean slate.
“You’re awful chipper this morning.”
The for someone who found out last night that his boyfriend was cheating on him goes unsaid, but not unheard. “That’s the funny part, isn’t it? I should feel upset, or offended, but really I just feel. Relieved. Alive. Like I can take on the world.” He looks over at the quirk of lips, the relaxed gait and soft eyes. “That’s odd, isn’t it? We should be a mess.”
“Well, I think we both are a bit of a mess, but not over last night we aren’t, you’re right. Guess that just means they weren’t the ones, yeah?”
“Yeah,” Sirius agrees easily. He holds the door open, waving Remus inside his favourite diner.
“Oh, my friend works here.”
“Yeah, Dorcas Meadowes? She waits here.”
“No shit! Dorcas is a peach.”
“Her girlfriend is the one who introduced Em and me,” he says lowly as they’re led to a table.
“Well, I’ll have to have a talk with Marls, then, about her choice in partners for her friends.”
Remus chuckles from behind the menu and Sirius is staring at the single dimple that has appeared in his right cheek. Until he realises that just over Remus’ shoulder is a too familiar face. Biting back a laugh he gently kicks Remus under the table, and before the man can ask him if they’re really playing footsie, he jerks his chin toward the other table.
With a dubious look and a poor attempt at inconspicuousness, Remus peers over his shoulder and then whips back around, eyes wide and hand slapped over his mouth to keep from laughing aloud. His reaction is confirmation enough for Sirius that, lo and behold, their exes have decided on the same restaurant for a breakfast date.
Smugly, Sirius notes that neither look as happy or comfortable as he and Remus do. A better man would say he hopes they’re happy together — Sirius, however, hopes they’re both miserable and realise they will never find someone as great as Remus or himself. He’s caught up in his catty thoughts when Remus nudges him under the table, leaning forward with a mischievous twinkle in his eyes.
“Want to have some fun?”
Holding his gaze, Remus reaches over and laces their fingers together on top of the table, within clear sight of Benjy and Emmeline, if either decide to look up from where they are playing on their phones.
Sirius wets his lips, squeezing Remus’ hand and dubbing the heat in his belly as a mixture of last night’s scotch and hunger. (He does allow himself the small guilty pleasure tucked deep in the recesses of his mind of not specifying what type of hunger.)
“We have some things to talk about later,” Dorcas says in lieu of greeting, reaching across their conjoined hands to set down Sirius’ usual cafe latte and a breakfast tea for Remus, cream on the side.
“I was going to say the same thing,” Sirius replies, smiling too sweetly at her. She knows him well enough to flinch from the threat, her eyes darting toward the two at the other table. “You and Marls want to come round for dinner tonight?”
“Mmmhm. I’ll tell her to pick up your favourite take-away,” she placates. “Remus, you’ll be there as well?”
He studies Sirius’ face, eyes searching and guarded, but relaxes at the thumb stroking a soft pattern on the back of his hand. “Yeah, alright.”
They place their orders, and Sirius makes it a point to laugh a bit too loud at something Dorcas says, but doesn’t look over to see if it’s enough to draw attention to their presence. After she leaves, he finds the conversation flows so naturally he forgets he’s supposed to be pretending, and instead is mostly surprised he and Remus haven’t met before now. They run in the same circles but seem to have just missed one another at every party or get together because of one thing or another.
On their way out, Benjy hesitates next to their table, and Remus takes the opportunity to lean forward and wipe a bit of jam from the corner of his mouth. As he starts to pulls his hand away, Sirius grabs him by the wrist, sucking his thumb into his mouth. “All clean,” he says cheekily, relishing the surprised blush that paints the other’s cheeks a maddening shade of red. Benjy hurries off without a word.
After breakfast, Remus goes home to shower and change, and make sure all of Em’s stuff is gone, and returns shortly after Dorcas but before Marlene. The girl walks in, waving a white pillowcase in one hand and holding two bags of takeout in the other. “I know, I know, I’m the bloody worst.” Her shoulders slump and she holds her arms wide to Remus. He shakes his head with a fond smile before walking into her waiting arms and enveloping the smaller girl in a hug. “I’m so sorry, Rem.”
He plants a kiss on the top of her head. “If you’ve got sweet potato roti in there, all is forgiven.”
“As if I would even bother to show up without it, honestly.”
Marlene leans down to plant a kiss on Dorcas’ lips where she’s seated in the arm chair, before claiming a seat on the floor in front of the coffee table. Sirius brings out plates and cutlery and they fall easily into a night of regaling the girls with last night’s events, Remus filling in what happened before he turned up on Sirius’ doorstep, and both gasp and guffaw at all the right moments.
From then on, dinners between the four become a common occurrence. Occasionally they’re joined by James and Lily or Peter and Hannah. Sometimes it’s James, Peter, Remus, and Sirius, with all the women insisting they need a break from the boys’ nonsense, and Sirius realises he’s missed this. He knew that none of his friends cared much for Benjy, but it became quickly apparent just how much they hadn’t liked him, how much time he hadn’t been spending with his friends that he hadn’t even noticed, and how much time he had been spending home alone because he didn’t feel like he could be around people.
It took losing his boyfriend for him to realise just how much he had lost by being with him. The addition of Remus is just the cherry on top of what Sirius is quickly coming to appreciate as the happiest he has been in his life.
The two have accidentally stumbled on Benjy and Emmeline on dates twice since and hammed up pretending to be on a date together as well, earning numerous dirty looks from the other two. Sirius loves spending time with Remus, whose dry wit and sarcasm not only matches his own level of humour, but keeps him in check in a way he’s known he needs but refused to admit until now. Their exes looking miserable together and at them having a great time, and an excuse to hold Remus’ hand, or lean against him, or rest a hand on his waist, is just an added bonus.
Sirius is standing behind Remus, his chin resting on the other man’s shoulder, and just generally being a nuisance while he dices tomatoes for dinner, when Marlene makes a casual remark about Em telling her about reservations she and Ben have for this weekend. Remus’ hands pause, head cocking curiously. “That’s a really nice restaurant. For how miserable the two always look, I’m surprised they’re putting that much money into a date.”
“I was thinking the same. Sex must be really good for them to be trying so hard to make it work,” Marlene muses.
Sirius scoffs. “If it is, it’s not because of him.” Remus snorts in amusement. “What, is she?” he asks despite the pain in his chest telling him he’s not sure he wants to hear the answer to that question.
“A gentleman doesn’t kiss and tell.”
“Bollocks to that. Ben is lazy and lacking in all adventure and passion.”
“Are we still talking about in bed?” Marlene asks.
Pulling back from Remus, Sirius leans against the counter, arms crossed and brow furled as he thinks. “All around, actually. Bloody hell, how did I stay with him for nine months? Why didn’t you lot knock me over the head?”
Marlene pulls a face. “Honestly, you weren’t around enough for us to do it.” Sirius’ face must have dropped because Marlene makes an apologetic motion. “It’s in the past, and thank goodness for that. Let’s just leave it there.”
“Still, though. Weary Traveller is supposed to be phenomenal. I think James has taken Lily there a few times and both raved about the food and atmosphere. I’d love a chance to go.”
“Going to invite yourself along as a third then, are you?”
Sirius narrows in on Remus, but his back is to him and he doesn’t see the danger coming. Marlene does, though, knowing him all too well. “Oh no, Sirius.”
“Hush, you. I’m scheming.”
“I can see that,” she says tiredly.
“Say, what are you doing Saturday night, Remus?”
Glancing briefly over his shoulder in surprise, his eyebrows ask the question before it leaves his lips. “Me??”
Sirius rolls his eyes. “No, the other Remus in the room.”
“What are you thinking, Sirius…” his voice is heavy and Sirius can’t tell if he’s actually tired of Sirius’ antics or if there’s a certain level of intrigue — if the weight is hiding a similar endearment that Sirius has found it harder and harder to mask himself with regard to the man who charged into his life.
“Fancy a date with me?”
Remus hesitates, not looking at Sirius. “I don’t know. I mean, every other time we just happened to run into them and it was a fun way to deal with the awkward situation and make it not awkward. Well. For us. I’m sure it was pretty awkward for them. But planning to crash a date seems…petty and like we care. Which, I don’t.”
“Neither do I,” Sirius insists. “But don’t you think it would be fun?! Plus it’s an excuse to get dressed up, have a nice meal in a super fancy place. It’ll be fun, Remus! It won’t seem like we care to them, either, because they won’t know it’s intentional that we’re there at the same time. When Emmeline sees you all dressed up it’ll be that last little push of oh I fucked up. You didn’t even throw her stuff out the window; consider this your revenge.”
He wipes his hand on a teatowel before turning and stabbing a finger in Sirius’ chest, the effect of which is lost in his smile. “That! That’s petty!”
Sirius grabs his hand, wrapping it in his larger one. “What, and helping me throw Benjy’s stuff over the balcony in the rain wasn’t?”
“No it isn’t, and you know it. Them aside, I’ve wanted to check that place out for ages but didn’t feel like taking Ben, and I don’t want to go alone, so you’d be doing me a favour. My treat. Pleeeeease, Moony?” He adds the new nickname he’s given him, knowing that Remus secretly loves it.
When he sighs, Sirius knows he’s won and pumps a fist in the air in triumph.
“Fine, you win. But we are not doing anything to ruin their night. I don’t want a scene and I do not want any bloody chance of either of them trying to get back with us.”
Sirius doesn’t miss he says us rather than me and has to swallow past the excitement bubbling in his stomach. “I completely agree. The past few weeks have been the happiest I can ever remember being. I wouldn’t risk going back to that for anything. Just a fun night out, gentleman’s honour.” Sirius holds his hand up in a mock swearing, his heart thrumming in his chest when Remus mutters a retort about the state of his gentleman’s honour as he turns back to the dinner prep.
Forgetting entirely about Marlene’s presence, he swoops in and leaves a quick kiss on Remus’ cheek. “You’re both blushing,” she remarks.
The men startle, jumping at her voice, eyes wide as she flicks her blue ones back and forth between them, a knowing smirk on her lips.
“No we aren’t,” they say at the same time.
She’s still laughing heartily when Dorcas comes through the door.
“Your girlfriend is a menace,” Sirius mumbles, moving to the sitting room with the excuse of putting on music.
That night he walks home, hands shoved deep into his pockets, his thoughts filled with firm intentions to regather the scattering pieces of his tenuous grasp on his sanity before Saturday night.
Sirius was raised on formal dinners, estate parties, and boarding schools with uniforms. Suffice to say, he is no stranger to dressing up. Which makes it all the more ridiculous that he is stood in front of the mirror redoing his tie for the fourth time because he didn’t like the look of the knot the first three times, and has changed his jacket choice twice, and is still not sold on the one laid out on his bed. He keeps reminding himself that it isn’t important, and it’s just a prank on their cheating exes, except it does feel important and not at all like a joke.
He’s just about to rip the tie off, scrap the whole outfit, and start from scratch, when there’s a knock on his door. Muttering curses under his breath, he jogs over and throws the door open, breath punched out of him at the sight of Remus on his doorstep.
“Sorry, I’m a bit early, I know,” Remus apologises. He should laugh at the twisted déjà vu of Remus at his door, this time apologising instead of shouting at him, but Sirius just stands staring awestruck at the man before him.
Swallowing thickly, he stands dumbly blocking the entrance as his eyes trail a blazing path, taking in every little detail. His hair is freshly cut, the sides short and curls falling with an effortless chicness across his forehead. The white, green, and grey gingham shirt is crisp against his bronze skin, an emerald green tie tied smartly and lying perfectly (unlike Sirius’ own, he thinks self-consciously). He can see the peek of a silver tie clip at the V where a grey cardigan is buttoned and he can’t even find it in him to classify the sweater as swotty if he wanted to.
And, oh, does he want to, because instead of being able to tease the other he’s left with oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck on a frantic repeat in his mind, beating in time to the traitorous heart pounding against his ribs. Surely even Balder never shone so bright.
“You cut your hair.” He replies dumbly, but is actually grateful that he manages to scrape together something that even vaguely resembles English.
“Oh. Yes.” Remus reaches up self-consciously and touches the front where it tumbles across his eyes. “It was getting a bit long?” he offers with a hint of a question.
“It’s perfect. You. Wow.” Sirius clears his throat, finally stepping away from the door and looking in as if he has never seen his apartment before and finds it incredibly interesting. “Come on in. I was just finishing getting dressed.”
Remus laughs warmly, apparently unaware of Sirius nearing critical and inevitable levels of self-combustion. “Finishing up? You look perfect, except…” He moves into the room and closes the door behind him before turning and stepping into Sirius’ personal space. He adjusts Sirius’ tie, sliding the knot up just so and then spreading his hands across Sirius’ chest. “There. Perfect.”
Sirius has to bite down on his lip to stop a whimper from escaping, although there’s nothing he can do to stop Remus from feeling the frenzied thrum thrum thrum of his heart beating beneath the other’s lingering palms. He’s so distracted trying to prevent any inadvertent noises from escaping that it takes him several ticks to realise that Remus’ eyes are locked on his mouth, where his lower lip is still trapped between his teeth.
Vaguely Sirius could swear they were getting closer until suddenly, Remus draws his hands from his chest as if burned, taking a large step back and looking anywhere but at Sirius.
“I’ll just- er. Grab my jacket then and we can go?”
Remus nods, still not looking at him as Sirius sweeps past to retrieve his jacket from the bed. When he returns Remus is still acting awful twitchy, which is making Sirius twitchy, and that just isn’t on because this is going to be an amazing night. Shrugging into the jacket he comes up behind the other man and rests a hand on his waist, rubbing soothing circles and feeling inordinately pleased when the other relaxes and leans into the touch.
The weather is fair, a gentle breeze blowing in fresh spring air chasing away the winter while the days get longer, and as the two walk to the restaurant in silence Sirius feels like they are hung suspended between this and something else, just like sun hangs about to plunge them into night.
He can’t stop stealing glances at Remus in that stupid cardigan with his stupid green tie and pants that are hugging his arse entirely too well; and every time Sirius’ shoes click on the sidewalk there’s a steady stream in his head of I’m fucked, I’m fucked, I’m fucked click clicking along to the rhythm.
When they are led to their table, Sirius is momentarily caught off guard to see Benjy and Emmeline a few tables over, which is really bloody stupid of him because that’s why they’re here tonight, isn’t it? Yes, Sirius wants to try this restaurant, but they’ve been having these silly dates as a way to show their exes they don’t care, that they weren’t hurt by their infidelity, that they’re over it and moved on, so why did Sirius forget? Why does he stop short at the sight of them, as if they are intruding on his evening out with Remus, and not the other way around?
It’s an act, all an act, Remus is only here for petty revenge and some good food. Emmeline is scowling at them as they take their seats, so Sirius tosses her a wink in an effort to ground himself back to the reality of the situation. He knows he promised Remus that he wouldn’t make a scene, but a little salt is more of a margarita than a scene. The woman responds by reaching out and lacing her fingers with Benjy, smiling at him sweetly and leaning forward for a kiss.
“I think they’re on to us,” Sirius whispers conspiratorially as he and Remus take their seats.
“What do you mean?”
“They’re pulling an us on us.”
“You know, that really shouldn’t make sense, and yet it does. I’ve been spending too much time with you.”
Sirius juts out his bottom lip but Remus just smiles brightly, leaning forward with his elbows on the table, so uncaring of the rules of propriety that Sirius wants to kiss him right then and there over the bread basket.
The thought catches him off guard and he frantically tries to shove it down. He will not ruin this night by being a prat who cannot cannot keep his touchy feelys in check. Not that he has any touchy feelys. Because he doesn’t.
“Don’t tell me you’re going to spend the night being pouty because your ex is being snogged poorly a few tables over.”
“No, I’m going to spend the night being pouty because my date thinks he spends too much time with me…” he mutters laying the black cloth napkin across his lap. Remus opens his mouth to reply but seems to think better of it, and Sirius pretends he doesn’t see. “Shall we retaliate? I could lay you out on the table and snog you senseless,” he jokes, trying to keep his voice light as if it’s not actually something he is seriously considering.
Green eyes don’t look up from where they’re scanning the wine list with great interest. “You promised not to make a scene,” he remarks, sounding every bit the disinterested houseman who has reminded his partner of this a thousand times before and will probably do so a thousand times more, knowing full well it’s an effort in futility.
Sirius plucks the list out of Remus’ hands, ignoring the quiet huff of protest. “Have you forgotten? You’re forbidden from choosing the table wine after selecting a pinot grigio to go with last week’s steaks.”
The other’s pleased laugh is just this side of an evil cackle and Sirius tries, he really tries, to deliver a scathing look but he knows he’s falling short because for some unknown reason he always falls short when it comes to being upset or snarky with Remus. The king of arrogance and biting remarks–and he can’t even manage a proper glower like poor wine pairings rightly deserve.
“What are you going to eat?”
“I don’t know…”
“Well, then, how will I choose the wine?”
Remus holds the menu higher to hide his smile, but Sirius has already seen it. “You could just select the one you like best.”
“You’re Pagan,” he replies mildly, not even missing a beat, grin evident in his voice.
Sirius’ heart, on the other hand, feels like it’s missing beats with every bit of banter. “The intention still stands.” He ends up refusing to order wine until Remus orders his food, which causes the other to hem and haw with mock indecision and drive Sirius absolutely mad. To his horror he can actually feel himself twitch in his trousers at the mischievous glint in the other’s eye when he considers changing his decision after Sirius places his own order. He considers kicking him under the table, but instead grips his hand painfully tight in warning. Remus just smiles wickedly and acquiesces to the waiter that he’ll stick with what he chose.
He doesn’t let go of his hand even after the waiter returns with the bottle of wine, pouring them each a large glass of liquid so dark it’s nearly black in the dim lighting, but Remus doesn’t seem to mind. He watches with rapt attention as the other plucks the long stem glass up, holding it to the light and swirling it with interest and poise that would make any critic proud had they been ignorant to his earlier plebeian suggestion that Sirius just pick what he likes.
The conversation is hazy at best to Sirius who can only seem to really focus on the feel of Remus’ warm hand in his and the thrumming of his blood in his veins. He’s fairly certain he shouldn’t be able to sense that so acutely, but if it’s the sign of an imminent death he could die happy with the last sight of Remus’ lips stained red, tongue sweeping across to catch the stray droplets.
“What are you thinking about?”
Swallowing thickly, Sirius toys with his wine glass, staring into its depths as if it holds the answer to all of his questions. “Something I read this week.”
“Ahh well. I don’t remember it exactly, but it was about how a soulmate is not someone who enters your life peacefully. It’s someone who enters like a supernova, with intensity and familiarity all at once. Who marks a before and an after in your life.”
When he looks up, Remus is staring at him with enough magnetic force to put a black hole to shame — drawing Sirius in and tearing him apart at the same time. He’s sure if his heart beats any harder it will leap straight out of his chest, expose all his secrets for Remus to see, laid out in a catastrophic display right there on the table. He loves you, look and see, he couldn’t bear the weight of this heart, so full with you and yet not full enough.
The clearing of a throat causes Sirius to jump, looking up startled to see the waiter standing holding their plates. “Is it alright if I set these down?” he asks only slightly awkwardly, which makes Sirius think they aren’t the first couple he’s had to draw attention to the fact he was standing there.
Remus is blushing and playing with the napkin on his lap, so Sirius smiles and apologises, but the man just chuckles, leaning forward to lay the hot plates in front of them.
“Part of the job,” he says. “Is there anything else I can get you gentlemen right away?”
“I think we’re alright, thank you.”
He leaves with a small bow of his head as Sirius and Remus tuck into their meal. The food is phenomenal and Sirius is actually disappointed that he hasn’t been here before. Slowly, Remus forgets his embarrassment about the waiter and falls back into their usual easy banter and conversation, Sirius’ remark about soulmates apparently forgotten.
It isn’t until their plates are removed and they are talking quietly over the last of the wine, candles burning low, that Sirius remembers and glances across the room only to see an empty table. He’s overcome with the hope that that is the last he and Remus see of them, and isn’t sure what to do with the thought.
“I didn’t even notice them leave.”
“Neither did I.” He studies the constellations of Remus’ freckles in the flickering light. “I hope that’s the last we see of them,” he admits, and can only hope that Remus hears the rest of what he’s saying.
Remus sips his wine slowly, but his eyes don’t leave Sirius’. “Don’t fancy any more fictitious dates with me?”
“Was this faked?” he challenges, his voice stronger than he feels as trepidation courses through his veins.
His smile starts small, and he looks down but it does nothing to hide the bright grin that breaks across his face. “No, perhaps not…”
Sirius licks his lips, unsure but compulsively needing to press forward, unwilling to let the fragile opportunity pass him by after Remus’ concession. “All this because I took the last bag of crisps at Tesco.”
Remus looks back up at him in confusion, until suddenly seeming to remember Sirius’ joke in the midst of his stuttering rant that night and leans back in his chair, rolling his eyes. “When someone asks how we- how we met-” he corrects, but Sirius’ infatuation blazes brighter with the unspoken mistake — the near slip of how we started dating. “-you’re going to tell them that story aren’t you? Going to skip over how I made an arse of myself yelling at the wrong bloke and make some snarky joke about how you took the last bag of crisps from the grocery and I was incensed.”
He knows he’s silent for a few beats too long, that he’s staring and Remus is giving him a funny look. That he should laugh, make a joke about fucking crisps or something else inconsequential, but he can’t. He can’t think of anything inconsequential and knows that if he opens his mouth it’s going to be something soppy that comes out and he can’t tell if Remus would be okay with that.
Like a ship buffeting in a storm about to be lost at sea, Sirius is desperately searching for something to grasp onto before he drowns in the feelings that are steadily choking him. Remus reaches out, gripping his hand with a worried look. “Pads?”
“I’ll tell them I wasn’t in love with you at first sight, but I should have been,” he murmurs like the confessional it surely is. Remus’ eyes are wide and he’s squeezing Sirius’ hand too tight, but he doesn’t stop him so Sirius surges on, leaning forward, voice low and intense. “I should have been. I should have known right then and there, barefoot in my hallway with you too pissed off to even form coherent sentences that I would want to spend the rest of my life with you. That I’d be desperate for the chance to fall asleep on the couch with a video game forgotten in the background and desperate to annoy you while you cook dinner until you kick me out of the kitchen. I didn’t love you the first time I saw you but I do now,” his voice breaks on the final word and he knows he can’t go on but it doesn’t matter because Remus has a hand behind his head, dragging him forward to meet him halfway and kissing him with the drowning intensity that Sirius has been suffering from for weeks now.
When they pull back, Sirius is dazed and only mildly aware of the fact that the waiter is hovering nearby, unsure whether to approach them or leave them to snog like school boys over the table. He’s too flustered to help the poor git and is grateful when Remus takes the initiative to put the poor sod out of his misery and wave him over.
“Can I interest you in dessert?”
“No, thank you, I think we’re ready for the bill.” When he disappears Remus reaches out, brushing a finger across Sirius’ cheek. “Don’t disappear on me, I’m not done with you.” His voice is thick and sends a bolt of heat straight to Sirius’ stomach at the promise it holds.
Sirius hands his card over without even looking at the slip, eager for them to be free to leave. Outside, Remus slips his hand into Sirius’, twining their fingers together and pulling him back towards the flat at a much faster pace than they had walked to dinner. The street lights burn brighter than normal and Sirius laughs as he chases after Remus.
As soon as the door closes, Remus presses Sirius against it, one hand on his hip and one around the back of his neck. “I’m going to kiss you,” he warns, as if there were any chance in any realm that Sirius would stop him. His mouth is hot and Sirius licks in eagerly, memorising the curve of his mouth beneath his lips.
When they finally slow down and pull back, Remus rests his forehead on Sirius’ shoulder who presses a kiss to his temple tenderly. “Tell me this isn’t just the wine answering,” Sirius pleas quietly.
“When you opened the door that night my first thought was oh, I can see why she left me. Followed quickly by it’s a shame she got to him first.” Tilting his head up, Remus presses his body flush to Sirius’, trying to get as close as humanly possible though for Sirius there is no such thing as close enough when it comes to Remus. He takes Sirius’ face in both his hands, staring him straight in the eyes and Sirius is lost. “I love you.” His words are slow and deliberate, weighted with surety and longing that pulls at his heart.
Sirius kisses him slowly, carefully in answer, with every ounce of tender affection he’s been harbouring since the man came crashing into his life like a tempest. “So, you forgive me for the crisps?” he asks against his lips.
Remus bursts out laughing, pulling back with mirth twinkling in his eyes. “I will if you go grab a bag and eat them on the couch with me.”
“How can you possibly be hungry already?!” Sirius crows, already headed for the kitchen and retrieving Remus’ favourite ice cream from the freezer as well.
“Less talk, more snacks,” the other yells from the sitting room.
Sirius hears the start-up music for Mario Kart and doesn’t bother to hide the soppy grin on his face. As he drops down on the sofa next to Remus he pulls him close with an elbow around his neck, the ice cream still in his hand. Just shy of kissing him, he asks, “Does this mean you’ll be my boyfriend?”
Remus closes the gap, kissing him soundly. “If you beat me in the Lightning Cup.”
“No way! You cheat on Rainbow Road!”
“There isn’t a way to cheat on Rainbow Road, you just don’t know how to corner.” Remus leans over and steals the ice cream off Sirius’ spoon.
Sirius leans out of his reach for the next spoonful, talking through the mouthful of ice cream. “If we’re doing this, we’re doing Triforce Cup.”
“Ugh, fine, but your obsession with the Hyrule Circuit is actually concerning and might require therapy.”
“Whatever,” Sirius scoffs, selecting the cup. “What do you get if you win?”
“You as my boyfriend,” Remus whispers lowly in his ear. Goosebumps crawl up Sirius’ neck and he’s forced to close his eyes as a shiver rakes his body.
Remus’ character shoots off on the screen while Sirius is still stuck at the starting line. “CHEATER!”
Lucca Hermes spends his days writing technical jargon and his nights daydreaming of better futures for the most deserving of gays. Periodically he begrudgingly emerges to share his thoughts with the class. More of Lucca’s writing can be found at archiveofourown.org/users/shadow_prince, most of which are inspired by the marauders of Harry Potter. You can also find him on Instagram @godsandcrows talking about trans bodies, the trials of homeownership, and his beautiful puppy Regulus.