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Eat Your Vegetables

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Being from a wealthy family, Sirius had never learned to cook. This wasn't a problem until he finished school since, once evicted from Grimmauld Place, he went to live with the Potters, who were equally as well supplied with house elves. James, therefore, was as useless in the kitchen as Sirius, and when they left Hogwarts their entire repertoire for feeding themselves was this: toast. Tea was also a possibility, as were things that could be cooked on a toasting fork over a fireplace, like sausages and crumpets. He very quickly became tired of toast and sausages and crumpets. Fortunately, out in the Muggle world, Sirius discovered takeaway.

Two weeks out of Hogwarts, the takeaway containers started building up in the corners of the somewhat dingy flat he had rented in Chelsea. He'd clean them up periodically, mostly when Remus was dropping around. Then he'd order more takeaway and the cycle would begin again. Takeaway, in Sirius' estimation, was one of the best things about living in a Muggle neighbourhood.

One evening, when he pressed the buzzer that opened the door downstairs – Muggle things! So peculiar, but so useful! – Remus appeared with two paper bags of groceries. A leek poked out from the top of one.

"What is this?" Sirius grabbed one bag and rummaged through it. Carrots, potatoes, onion, something unpleasantly squishy and wrapped in white paper. His fingers brushed smooth glass. "Aha!" He extracted a bottle of wine and brandished it in triumph. "Something useful."

Remus snatched the wine back. "That's for dinner," he said. He pushed the newspapers and vinyl records to one end of the kitchen table, and slung the grocery bags up on the scarred wooden surface.

Sirius checked the clock hanging slightly askew from a bent nail above the refrigerator. It was a little after five. "Well, it's dinner time now, more or less – let's crack it open." A little wine, he mused, then a languid fuck and maybe a bath, and then they could order something to eat.

He watched as Remus opened cupboards and peered inside. "Are you looking for a corkscrew? Give it here, I'll just – " he wiggled his fingers.

"No." Down on one knee, Remus reached deep inside the cupboard under the sink and pulled out a battered and rusted iron frying pan that Sirius hadn't even known was stashed there. "I saw this the other day when we had to unblock the drain." He passed it to Sirius. "Scourgify this, will you? I'm cooking tonight. I'm worried you're going to get scurvy."

"What the fuck is scurvy?" said Sirius, watching in wonder as Remus washed and chopped the vegetables.

Remus pushed a piece of raw carrot into his hand. "Eat this, and you'll never need to know."

The squishy parcel contained pieces of chicken. Fascinated by Remus' deftness in the kitchen, Sirius stood behind him as he cooked vegetables and browned the chicken. "Why do you know how to cook?" he asked, with his hands on Remus' waist.

"Mum taught me," Remus said. He pushed Sirius' hand down from where it wandered under his shirt. "I helped her out with cooking and laundry and so on."

Sirius didn't know what to say to that – it was hard enough to imagine a household where you had to help get things done, let alone a mother who bothered to teach you something – so instead of speaking, he kissed the back of Remus' neck.

Remus reached for the bottle of wine, and Sirius cheered. "Finally!" he said, and held out two glasses with one hand, the stems tucked between his fingers.

Remus poured a measure into the frying pan, which sizzled madly, and, admittedly, smelled as amazing as any takeaway. Then he deftly filled each glass and took one for himself.

Sirius raised his in a toast. "To dinner," he said.

The rest of the evening seemed to be following the plan that Sirius had mentally drawn, if not in the same order. The chicken was delicious, and then there was some involved snogging while Remus stacked the dishes for washing. According to Remus, washing the dishes was the accepted role of the person for whom the meal had been cooked.

"But then I'll be washing dishes forever," said Sirius, plunging the plates into soapy water with only the vaguest idea of how they would become cleaner.

Remus passed him a sponge, and mimed a scrubbing action. "You could learn to cook, you know. I might not always be here to take care of you."

Sirius looked at Remus' reflection in the window. Standing behind him, in the dim yellow light of the bare globe in the kitchen, Remus looked gaunt, still tired from the last full moon. He turned and put his soapy hands on Remus' shirt to pull him close. Lather dropped onto the floorboards as he kissed him hard.

"You'll always be here," said Sirius, firmly. "We'll be old men together, and you'll still be nagging me to pick up my socks and sweep the floor."

Remus leaned into him, thin and wiry in Sirius' arms. "You'd better start eating your vegetables, then, or you'll have no teeth whatsoever."

Sirius nipped him hard on the collarbone to show that his teeth were perfectly fine, and they fell together to the grubby wooden floor, tugging at each other's clothes. Behind them, the dishes waited in the cooling water and the half moon shone through the window.