Sirius jiggled the key in the handle of the entry door, trying to get it to fit perfectly and unlock the damn thing. He shuffled from foot to foot, shoulders inching up as the wind cut down the street, the chill causing his ears to ache painfully. Come on, just fit, damnit. His key wasn’t cut quite right but the building manager insisted it worked perfectly fine every time he complained, so here he was, cussing softly under his breath at a completely innocent looking glass door for the fifth time that week.
When he finally was able to pull the door open and step into the entryway, his first thought was the entirely improbable am I in the wrong apartment building followed quickly by please let that fantastic arse belong in this apartment building. It took him a short eternity of gawping to realise that the arse in question was attached to a person currently struggling with a large package on the ground.
The entryway had smooth stone floors; an absolute nightmare on rainy or snowy days. Sirius had experienced his own share of struggles to lift things off that damn floor as it slid away or he couldn’t get his fingers under the box, or any number of other difficulties. But that didn’t mean he found it any less amusing when it was happening to someone else.
Schadenfreude and all that.
He enjoyed the sight for only a few seconds more before he took pity on the person. “Can I help you with that?”
They jumped, spinning around wide eyed and flustered, and oh they were cute. A few inches shorter than Sirius with brilliant eyes that practically glowed in the sunlight like the deep baltic amber of the stone Sirius had hanging in his bedroom window. Sirius felt his cheeks heat up as he eyed the smaller man up and down.
“N-no! It’s fine, I’m sure I can get it on my own.”
“Please, let me help you. It’s really no problem.”
“Well.. if you wouldn’t mind… It’s heavy and I keep losing my balance whenever I manage to get my fingers under it at all.”
Sirius smiled in what he hoped was a charming way. Normally he had no problem winning people over but on the rare occasion he was actually interested in winning someone over, he had a history of crumbling into an awkward mess of limbs and verbal garbage.
Kneeling down, he quickly realized that it was a package worthy of the struggle the man had been having because it was, in official terms, Fucking Heavy. He managed to tilt the side opposite him up so that the other man could slip his hands under while Sirius slid his own hands down the length until his side was up as well. Getting to his feet was a struggle, but he managed the feat valiantly, if he did say so himself.
“What did you order then, bricks?”
“Yes, I thought they would make good decorations. Modern industrial aesthetic and all that.”
Ohhhhh, I like him, Sirius thought. He let the other lead the way, taking the stairs slowly.
“I really do appreciate it. I’m definitely going to be late to work, but didn’t want to leave it sitting out until I got back.”
“You were worried someone was going to steal your encyclopedias?” Sirius cocked an eyebrow in disbelief, but didn’t bother trying to hide the amusement tugging his lips into an enamoured smile.
“Anthology,” he corrected automatically. “And yes! That greasy git in the basement keeps purposely fucking with my packages.”
“Snivellus,” he sneered in distaste, knowing instantly which resident would be petty enough to pick on the man.
“He kicks them to try and break whatever is inside, or hides them. I definitely found my new jacket in the bushes out front last month. Just, juvenile shit like that. These cost a small fortune and I didn’t want to risk anything happening to them.”
They came to a stop in front of the first door on the right at the top of the stairs, surprising Sirius. “This is yours?”
“No, I decided to leave the books I just struggled with for half an hour with a random resident.”
Rolling his eyes, Sirius nodded his head toward the door across the hall. “That’s mine. I just never saw you before.”
“Oh! Well. I’m at class and work a lot, but that is surprising we haven’t run into one another before now. I suppose we wouldn’t have if I had left for work when I was supposed to.”
“Will you be in trouble when you get there?”
“Not too much, luckily my boss likes me and knows all about Snivellus. Over here should be good.”
They carefully lowered the box onto the chipped coffee table that practically groaned under the weight. Flexing his aching fingers, the man cocked his head looking up at Sirius curiously, before holding his hand out. “Remus, by the way. I’m sorry to run, but I really do have to get to work.” He hesitated for only a moment before continuing, “But, I work at the coffee shop down the road. If you wanted, you could walk with me and I could fix you something up on the house as a thank you?”
Briefly, Sirius considered declining. He had been dying to get home and out of his binder, his chest just starting to ache from hours of wearing it. One look at that mischievous quirk of full lips though had him thinking fuck it. He could make it a bit longer – he had a feeling it would be worth it.
He took Remus’ hand in his own, “Sirius Black. And yeah. That’d be great.”
They stopped just long enough for Sirius to drop his backpack in his apartment before they bounced down the stairs one after another and back out into the blustering cold. If he had been worried that the walk would be awkward, he would have been wrong, because Remus immediately launched into an animated conversation and series of questions, hardly giving Sirius time to be anxious about the interaction.
When Remus pulled the door open to a familiar storefront, Sirius froze dead in his tracks. “THIS is where you work?!”
Too late to back out now, he sighed in resignation, braced himself for the inevitable teasing to come, and followed Remus into the warm building. Behind the counter, red hair piled messily on top of her head, stood his best friend’s wife. She looked up from refilling the case with fresh baked goods, eyes lighting up in a way that could only spell disaster for him, his privacy, and his sanity.
“There you are Remus, I was just getting worried.”
“Sorry Lils, had to rescue a package before Snape got to it again.”
She pulled a face, obviously she had been clued in on the past misadventures of Remus’ deliveries. “And who have you got with you then?”
Narrowing his eyes threateningly, Sirius tried to guess what game she was playing at, but was only met with a dazzling smile that fooled no one.
“Oh this is Sirius, he helped me get the box up to my apartment. Insanely heavy, that one.”
He stood correct – the smile fooled precisely one. One distressingly adorable boy with wind tousled curls and sharp eye teeth that peeked over his lip when he grinned. Which was entirely too frequently for Sirius’ gay ass.
So distracted staring at Remus’ soft features, he completely missed the next bit of conversation until he heard his name again.
“I said what can I get you to drink? You know, the promised free caffeine as thank you for being my muscle?”
“Oh! Um. Traditional cappuccino, please?”
“So boring! You know something sweet and delicious is no threat to your masculinity.”
Sirius’ eyes went wide in brief panic, throwing a look at Lily, wondering if he had somehow missed a bit that gave away that he was trans. Or maybe he just didn’t pass today. Or maybe it was just obvious.
“I don’t get why men deprive themselves of delicious drinks. Have you ever even tried a pumpkin spice latte?”
He shook his head numbly.
“Peppermint mocha? Roasted chestnut? Vanilla almond?” Remus sighed, but it was good natured. Wishfully, Sirius classified it as fond, but quickly dismissed the idea. “All I’m saying is, stop by anytime and I will whip you up something new, free of judgement.” He pushed the cappuccino across the counter, frothed milk folded into a heart on the top.
Blushing, Sirius cradled the to-go cup in his hands enjoying the warmth spreading through his fingers even as he willed it away from his cheeks. “I’ll keep it in mind.”
“So, what do you do with your time, Sirius Black?”
“Make bad decisions, mostly,” he spoke automatically, before realizing that probably wasn’t the best answer for someone he would have liked to impress. “I mean, I’m a student.”
Lily snorted, but he ignored her.
“I don’t suppose you had anything to do with all the plants from the lobby ending up in front of Snape’s door, did you?”
He crossed his fingers and rubbed at his eyes. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
Remus’ responding chuckle was deep and warm. Sirius’ stomach swooped and he tried not to think about what it would be like to feel that laugh against his lips. Images flitted through his minds’ eye of laying tangled up together, the snow piling up outside, but warm with his head on Remus’ chest. Of hearing that deep laugh and feeling it reverberating in his bones.
The way Remus watched him made him panic he had said those things out loud, but since Lily wasn’t cackling with glee he guessed he must be safe. “You know, Sirius, Remus here is a student at the university as well.”
“Is that right?”
“Mhm. He’s even the leader of the LGBT+ student organization, if you were looking for something to become involved in.”
He knew looks couldn’t actually kill, but he tried anyway. Lily had been trying to get him to go to the group’s meeting for the past year and six months, ever since his family had disowned him. He resolutely ignored the voice in the back of his head whispering maybe it would be worth it if it meant being around Remus more.
“Oh! Yeah, and we accept everyone. So even if you’re just an ally and want to come hang out with us, that’s fine too! We have movie nights, and board game nights and all kinds of stuff. Just a calm place to hang out together, somewhere safe, yeah?”
“I’ll consider it. What made you get involved in the group?” He considered actually slapping his forehead. Smooth, Black.
Remus smirked, leaning over the counter and pinning Sirius under his gaze. “Well, I’m pansexual. There are jokes on the internet that it’s part of the mythical because so many people dismiss it as not existing. It was nice to be around people to whom I didn’t need to explain or justify my sexuality.”
“That’s…really nice actually.” He must have sounded as flustered as he felt, because Remus’ smile turned predatory.
“My sexuality or the group?”
Sirius laughed awkwardly, shoving his free hand deep in his pocket and leaning against the door, desperate to escape before either he or Lily made a bigger fool of him. Really, it was a toss up. “Yeah, well. I should. Get back and. Do homework, but um. Lemme know if you need any more help handling your package.”
Lily looked like Christmas had come early and Sirius thought it best to just cut his losses and throw himself out the door without trying to salvage the situation. Good thing he never had to see the guy again. Oh, wait, he thought sarcastically.
He was still standing outside the door, banging his head gently against the cold brick wall when the door swung open again. Sirius held perfectly still, willing whatever all powerful being that could possibly exist would either strike him down or at the very least render him invisible.
“Just going to randomly throw this out there, but I get off work at 7 and really like tea.”
Not bothering to remove his forehead from the wall where it rested, he gave Remus a thumbs-up.
Once back in his apartment, Sirius decided to make a cup of tea and lay with it under his Christmas tree. Best place to spend time contemplating the Absolute Gay Disaster he had become. Staring up at the lights and breathing in the woodsy scents from the cedar’s needles, he weighed his options.
He had made it this long without ever running into Remus. He could probably find a way to avoid him and not have to move apartments entirely. Alternatively, he could take the fact that Remus followed him out as a sign that he was into awkward gay disasters who regularly put their foot in their mouth when flustered. Which left the question of whether he wanted to have Remus over for tea that night, and whether he could stand putting a binder back on for it.
Scrubbing at his face in irritation, he tried to quiet the cacophony of anxious thoughts and focus on his tea and tree. He hated that so much of his life and availability revolved around how long have you been wearing your binder? But there was nothing to be done about it at the moment so he resolved himself to pushing it away to be irritated at some other time, when there wasn’t a hot neighbor to be thinkin about instead.
Digging into his pocket for his phone he pulled it out and accidentally dropped it on his face. Rolling over and rubbing at his nose, he unlocked it to text Lily, but found he already had messages waiting from her.
[Lily-flower] Don’t worry about getting me anything for Christmas, I’m good.
[Lily-flower] My birthday, too. Possibly for the next several years.
[Sirius] I hate you.
[Lily-flower] No you don’t, you love me.
[Sirius] I really don’t. Why did you pretend like you didn’t know me?
[Lily-flower] Because I’ve low-key been trying to convince Remus to meet you for ages and he’s been refusing a set up. So I didn’t want him to know it was you, since he was clearly into you, and then stop flirting on principle of me being right.
[Sirius] He was not flirting with me. And he’s going to find out eventually??
[Lily-flower] I just wanted the smitten-ness to sink in a bit more. Then I’ll be smug about it later.
[Sirius] Yeah, well, all that doesn’t matter
because I’m never leaving my apartment again.
[Lily-flower] But then how will you help him handle his package?
Keeping an eye on the clock, he calculated it all very carefully, so that he was setting a cup of tea outside his door right at 7. That way it would still be hot, but he wouldn’t risk Remus actually seeing him doing it. He folded a note on top of the cup, and taped a sign to the door with Remus’ name and an arrow pointing down.
Sirius had timed the steep exactly, put the precise amount of sugar and cream in that he had long experimented with and gotten down to a science, filling his favorite to-go mug to the brim with what he could only hope was the best cup of tea Remus had ever had.
As soon as it was settled, he shut the door quickly, locking it and running further into his apartment to hide—and not be tempted to watch through the peephole for the cute boy to return. Sirius was wearing a pair of gray sweatpants and his softest sweatshirt with a huge hood, which he pulled up on his head to help with the whole hiding part.
Time didn’t seem to exist within his dark apartment, the only light coming from the twinkling Christmas tree lights. He paced a lazy, absent pattern in front of it, replaying all of his awkward foot-in-mouth answers from earlier in the day, eyes flicking toward his bottle of scotch temptingly.
A soft knock pulled him from his thoughts, and he padded on stockinged feet across the hardwood floors. Pulling the door open slowly, he was greeted by Remus holding his cup of tea in one hand and the note in the other, a wry smile in his face.
“You know, this wasn’t so much a suggestion for an apology as a request for company. Though, I do like the pun.” He smiled down at the note, eyes moving to read it over again, where Sirius’ sloppy cursive had spelled out Sorry I’m an awkward idiot, I just think you’re beau-tea-ful. Looking back up at Sirius, he noted the comfy clothes. “I don’t want to intrude on your night though,” he added, starting to pull away.”
“No, no – I just. Well, I wasn’t sure.” He toyed with the ends of his sleeves, pulled over his hands. “I was just having a quiet night in, but you’re welcome to join me?” he offered hesitantly.
“I’d like that,” he answered, smiling softly.
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.