Saturday 3rd June presents itself as a decidedly gorgeous day. Remus Lupin notes this fact with a contented sigh upon settling himself in the short grass of the football ground, to the left of and underneath the stands where he knows he'll get the perfect shot.
Indeed, as he adjusts the lens on his camera and raises it to his eye he catches three successive shots of James Potter, the university's star centre midfielder, doing impressive little kick ups, a look of utmost smugness on his face. Remus knows he'll delete them later - they're not what the magazine is looking for - but it's enough to assure him that his camera is ready and raring to go whenever the teams are.
This in mind, he lowers the camera into his lap and leans slightly into the shade. Already he's cursing himself for bypassing suncream in his earlier rush to get to the pavillion before the match began. Still, he should be alright here where it's fairly cool. It's rather relaxing actually. A few birds are singing in the morning sunshine, the buzz of pleasant chatter and laughter sounds from above, the faint, summery sound of splashing water emanates from the nearby lake. It's actually quite lovely -
With barely a second to protect his precious Canon 450D, a black and white ball comes hurtling towards him at full speed. He gasps, ducks, and with a tiny yelp feels a brush of leather against his ear as the ball skyrockets past, landing with a thud and rolling into the darkness of the stands behind him.
Remus exhales slowly. He is safe, but more importantly his child is safe, and he gives it a shaky pat where it's nestled in the crook of his arm. So concerned is he for his darling's welfare he barely registers the dark shadow now looming over him, and it takes a laugh and a half-hearted "sorry, babe" for Remus to finally look up.
He recognises his assailant immediately. Average height, standard athlete's body, but with a wicked grin and hair far too long for his sport, it can only be Sirius Black dropping to his knees next to him to paw the ball out from the shadows of the bleachers. He grunts with the effort, but smiles and apologises again when Remus looks at him.
"Stands are there for a reason, Lupin," Sirius smirks, hauling himself back on to his feet.
"I can't get a good shot from the stands, can I?" Remus replies loftily.
"I don't know, can you?" Twirling the ball in his hands, Sirius cocks his head to the side. "Glad to see you're snapping us again today. Come back for that kiss, have you?"
He offers up a no doubt well-practiced wink, and Remus has to admit, if only to himself, it takes some strength not to smile back. Black's been pestering for this 'kiss' - this "teensy-weensy, harmless little kiss" - for the past few weeks now, ever since Remus shot the university football team for the Spring Semester charity calendar.
While Remus has to admit it's tempting, he's repeatedly refused the cheeky offers, shrugging off the audacious remarks or replying with some half-arsed attempt at dry wit. He's still not entirely sure Black isn't taking the piss. After all, he's the uni's star winger or striker or mascot or something like that, and his starry social life is considerably more spicy than Remus's. First semester a rumour spread that Black had bedded half the girls' netball squad and all of the birds on the gymnastics team.
When, however, it became apparent that it wasn't girls Sirius was terrorizing after matches and in the intervals of stuffy formals, but that he'd had more than his fair share of fun in the locker room showers with three male rowers and a Sports Science lecturer (not all at once, though no one would have put that past him either most likely) Sirius had proudly accepted his title of the Big Queer Footballer. The only reason last month's petition to get him kicked off the team hadn't circulated for very long was because he is, apparently, rather good at kicking a ball into a net.
Remus, meanwhile, is a second year Art student. He likes Hemingway and green tea and Caravaggio, and the only rumour that's ever circulated about him was in the Year 1 Nativity when someone suggested he'd wet himself as a result of being a particularly terrified Wise Man.
So it stands to reason then that, for one thing, Remus is a little bit attracted to Sirius Black and, for another, he's more than certain Sirius Black is trying to make a complete idiot out of him.
"Benjy's in hospital," he explains presently, wiping a bit of grass from his camera. "Probably as a result of one of your stray footballs."
Dorcas Meadowes, editor of the The Order, had spared no details when describing the grisly business of sports journalist Benjy Fenwick's visit to A and E. Remus recalls it now with a shudder.
"Wasn't me," says Sirius, "it was Pettigrew. Boy's a menace. He's filling in for Dearborn today."
They both look behind him to where Peter Pettigrew, a second year Sociology student, is trying in earnest to copy Potter's game of keepie uppie. Suffice to say he's failing miserably, and when he bops the ball on his up-turned nose he gives up altogether.
Sirius turns back to Remus, eyebrows raised. "Totally useless."
"Maybe you should go and help him out."
"Don't want me hanging around, eh, Sunshine?"
"I just think your match is about to -"
"Oi, Black!" They turn, and Sirius's burly coach, a man whose name Remus doesn't even know, is bellowing at him from across the field. "Stop pansying about with Lewis and get over here!"
Remus ducks his head as he hears from above him the sharp inhale which can only be Sirius hiding a laugh.
"Guess the whistle's about to blow," he says cheerfully. "Going to kiss me good luck, Lewis?"
"Bugger off," Remus mumbles, not meeting his eye even when the ball is bounced at him. Sirius catches it back of course, then pads off in his astros with a grin, leaving Remus muttering to himself; "Lewis. Fucking Lewis."
They don't win. Remus gets a fantastic shot of Potter volleying the ball into the net though, and another of Frank Longbottom getting smacked in the face with it, so all in all, not a total waste of the day on his part.
The team, however, look gutted. Trailing off to the showers, Remus watches as they share manly, one-armed hugs of consolation and pat each other on the back. Potter looks close to tears, perhaps because his spectaular goal went unnoticed under the four shots the opposing team hammered into their net.
It's just football, Remus thinks, shaking his head at the pitiful scene. Even the people thumping down from the stands above him sound pissed off, and they weren't even playing. He'll never understand competitive sport.
He waits until the cheated onlookers have gone before ambling out from beneath the bleachers, camera around his neck. He checks his shots, deletes a few, and glances around the sun-soaked pitch. It's so beautiful, and so utterly unfair that the football team get to use some of the university's most spectacular land for their pointless game; lake and boathouse to the north, thick, luscious forest on the right, a magnificent pavillion on the left that surely cost a small fortune.
He thinks of the meagre Art facilities with a sigh, twsting his lens to get a clear shot of a particularly lovely crack willow, trunk twisted and leaning so that its dainty leaves trail gently in the lake. He smiles; it's so -
Remus turns abruptly, camera going off with a snap and making him jump. He tuts, knowing he'll probably end up with a picture of his shoes now.
It's Sirius, of course. No one else would bother him when he's clearly busy. He's got a ball tucked under his arm, and he's showered quickly, obviously not bothering to dry himself properly; his white Diesel t-shirt has turned see-through with damp. Remus almost laughs, and then he finds himself wondering if Sirius is often pressured to get out of the showers quickly, what with... well, what with -
"Your tree, I mean," Sirius goes on. "Very, um, artistic."
Remus can't help but smile. "It's alright."
Gesturing to the camera, Sirius says, "Get a good shot of us losing then, did you?"
"I think you played pretty well."
Sirius gives a little laugh at that, flicking his hair from his eyes and sauntering closer. "I imagine you know as much about well-played football as I do about taking pictures." He mimes clicking the shutter release on a camera, before letting his arms flop back down to his sides. "We were complete shit."
Remus thinks back to the game, but he can't remember much beyond what he'd captured on his camera, and even then he'd been a lot more interested in aesthetics than "free kicks" and "red cards". Thinking about it, perhaps Sirius looked slightly less enthusiastic than he had at the last game Remus photographed - one which they'd ended up winning - but beyond that, he fails now to see why this match has been particularly terrible.
He shrugs uselessly. "Up your game."
This elicits another bark of laughter from Sirius's throat as he begins bouncing the ball against the shortly-clipped grass. "You sound like James," he says.
"Does that mean I've got the makings of a captain?" asks Remus, and he lowers his camera when Sirius stands in front of him, head cocked to one side.
"I think you're far too gorgeous to be captain. Mascot, perhaps."
Remus snorts. "Thanks."
"It was a compliment, babe."
"Feel free to not call me that." Remus doesn't even know why he says it. He actually sort of likes it, presumptuous and emasculating and flirtatious as it is. But then, it's not the done thing to like those sorts of names, and his expression suggests as much.
Sirius holds his hands up in mock surrender. "Sorry, sorry. I forgot how highly-strung you are."
"I'm not highly-strung!" That hurts a bit. Just because he doesn't abuse people on a bit of grass thrice weekly and get pissed up every evening following doesn't mean he's uptight.
"Want to play a game?" says Sirius.
"No, thank you."
Irritated, Remus looks away from the crack willow to the cocky footballer, arching a brow. "What game?" he asks, rolling his eyes at the other boy's triumphant grin.
"Goals and Doles."
"Alright, so..." Sirius breaks off to jog over to the nearby goal posts, beckoning for Remus to follow. "So I shoot..." He looks far too excited as he mimes a kicking motion, ball now planted on the grass in front of him, "and if you save it, I have to do a forfeit. But if I get it in, you have to do the forfeit."
Remus looks behind himself, then back at Sirius, considering. "Well, you're obviously going to get it in..."
"I'll go easy on you."
"My camera," he protests, but Sirius holds his hand out for it and for some horrific reason Remus finds himself handing it over, watching as Sirius loops it around his neck.
It's not really - alright, that is - but he supposes there isn't much he can do about it now. Chewing his lip, he asks, "What's the forfeit then?"
Sirius pretends to be deep in thought for a moment as he taps his finger against his chin, humming. "Hm. Hmm. Hmmm -"
He straightens up. "Whoever loses has to say something they like about the other person. Yeah?"
Remus gives him an incredulous look, stepping begrudgingly in front of the goal. "I might have known you'd take any opportunity to stroke your ego," he says. "I mean, I know you lost the match and all, but -"
"Shut it, Lewis."
Remus scowls, suddenly determined to win. That would show him. Sirius Black and his great big buggering ego, missing a goal to an Art student who hasn't so much as touched a football since he was twelve years old -
"Oi! I wasn't ready!" He swivels round to look at the ball now rolling about drunkenly in the corner of the white net. "Bloody cheat."
Sirius positively guffaws at this, watching as Remus grumbles to himself, retrieving the ball with half-hearted shuffles of his feet.
"Not my fault you're gormless," says Sirius, stretching a bit so his t-shirt rides up. To Remus's surprise, the languid action reveals a spiky tribal tattoo above his hip. Unoriginal. He probably got it on some lads' holiday in Ibiza or Turkey, and yet Remus finds he has to turn to pick up the ball in order to distract himself.
"No, you really are just a filthy cheat," he mumbles, voice slightly strained. He considers hauling the football at Sirius's chest, then sees the camera dangling there and opts for rolling it across the grass instead.
"Alright, I'm a cheat. Never said I'd play fair. Anyway, go on." Sirius beams, picking up the ball and swivelling it between expert hands. "Something you like about me, please and thank you."
Let's see, Remus thinks to himself, we could start with your body. That daft tattoo peeking out from under your t-shirt. Your hair. Eyes. Arse. Laugh.
"I'm afraid this is impossible," he says finally.
"Your confidence," Remus decides, feeling a bit bad. "It's... admirable. Alright?"
"Well. I suppose. Have to admit I was hoping for something a bit, you know, sexier."
"Sexier?" Remus splutters. "Like what?"
"You know. Fit body. Bedroom eyes." He flutters said bedroom eyes ridiculously, and Remus scoffs. An appropriate quip is already on his lips when Sirius speaks again: "Right, second go. This time, the forfeit is that you have to say something you like physically."
"You are joking, aren't you?" says Remus, but when Sirius places the ball at his feet and doesn't answer, he supposes his question has already been answered for him.
Sirius makes a great show of warming up - perhaps to give Remus a good look at his body in order that he can choose a favourite physical trait for when he inevitably loses - but when Remus makes a threat to leave unless Sirius gets the bloody hell on with it, he obediently slams the football straight into the net for a second time.
Remus isn't sure why he even considered the idea that he might save it. He looks from the black and white ball, rolling about dazedly, to the grinning athlete with a sigh.
"Well?" Sirius prompts. Narcissistic little -
"Your legs," Remus replies with an abrupt nod. "They're very shapely."
Sirius looks down at himself, unimpressed. "Oh. Brilliant. Thanks. Third go?"
"You've already won. Best two out of three," Remus points out.
"That isn't how Goals and Doles works. Third go's always the best go. It's when the good forfeits come into play."
"I see," says Remus, certain he knows where the ridiculous game is heading. Sirius Black is standing in front of him, after all. "And what would the next forfeit happen to be?"
"A kiss." Sirius's answer is immediate, accompanied with a self-satisfied little smirk.
Remus almost laughs. He gives a shake of his head and shrugs instead. "There isn't much point playing if both situations have the same outcome. What do I get if I save it?"
Now it's Sirius's turn to shrug. "Whatever you like."
"Alright. If I save it, I get my camera back and we stop playing." It's a fair forfeit, he thinks. He's a bit tired of humiliating himself, and there's only so long he can be without his camera without going mad, especially when it's staring him right in the face, pleading with him not to let the giddy sportsman kill it.
"I'd have given you anything you like, Lupin," Sirius tells him. "But alright, if that's what you're going for." He gestures for the ball one last time, sets it down in front of himself and offers Remus a dopey smile. "Can't wait for this," he says.
He cranes his foot back, suddenly slamming it back forwards with an expert twist of his body and booting it straight at the goal. Remus can't help but yelp as the ball rockets towards him with a whoosh, but he's no time to be ashamed as he brings his hands up to shield himself from the ball that whacks straight into him.
Or rather, straight into his hands.
Opening his eyes, he blinks down at his fingers. He barely registers Sirius's howl of disappointment as he notices the leather, warm and heavy on the pads of his fingers.
"I was actually trying that time!" Sirius bawls, spinning on the spot like some poor, distressed wench.
Remus chuckles in disbelief. Then he laughs, bouncing the ball experimentally in his hands. If this is how goalkeepers feel when they save a ball, he can sort of understand why they get such a kick out of it.
"So much for star player, Black," he says smugly, "I'll have to let the captain know just how astonishingly shoddy your football skills really are. Can you imagine the look -"
He doesn't get to finish his sentence. Sirius has already marched over to cover Remus's lips in a firm kiss. His eyes widen beneath the unexpected assault of plump lips and pleasant stubble, but when it's clear Sirius isn't going to pull away any time soon, he allows his lids to sink closed again, relaxing against the feel of Sirius's hands on his waist.
"You cheated," he says breathlessly when they finally break for air.
Sirius gives him this wonderful, infuriating grin. "Never said I'd play fair."