It was pretty late in the evening, when Sirius made it back to the Common Room. He hated spending a perfectly good Saturday night studying and working on a Transfiguration project instead of spending time with his friends and coming up with a truly outstanding prank. Not to mention, he wished that he could have joined James and Peter, who went to sneak some butterbeer into the castle right after dinner. Or he could have stayed behind with Remus to mess around a little while James and Peter were gone for at least an hour.
Instead he was stuck in the library with Athena O’Connor, perfecting their semester project on a human to inanimate object transformation. If it were anyone else, he would have probably bailed but Athena did save him from many tedious parties at his parents’ house when he was younger and still lived at home. They would make fun of their pretentious families and sneak off with very expensive Firewhisky bottles. They weren’t really friends, but they shared a mutual loathing of their families and if Sirius were to be stuck with any Ravenclaw for the mandatory partner project, at least it wasn’t with someone he couldn’t stand at all.
Now, he was looking forward to salvaging something of his evening. Thankfully, the Common Room was loud and boisterous and his mood immediately perked up. Remus didn’t seem to be around but James was standing on top of the sofa, with a cup perilously swaying in his hand, reenacting some sort of heroic deed to a laughing Lily, with Peter sitting by the fireplace and pouring himself more butterbeer, nodding along. About twenty other people were milling around, generally having a good time, more appropriate to the weekend.
Mere seconds after Sirius came through the portrait, James noticed him, stopped in the middle of the sentence and beckoned to him with the cry of “Padfoot! Have some butterbeer! We managed to sneak two whole cases!”
“Nice.” He took the bottle that Peter offered him and flung himself on the sofa next to Lily, while throwing his bag under his feet. “I wish I could have come with you. We could have gotten another one,” he said as he took a generous sip.
“Well, we knew you were busy,” James said with a smirk in the corner of his mouth, as he winked at Sirius. Actually, winked.
“What?” Sirius was a bit puzzled by such a display. Was there a joke that he missed?
“You know what. We get it, mate. You were busy ‘studying.’” Sirius could actually feel the quote marks around that last word. James was acting extremely weird.
“What are you talking about? I was in the library, unfortunately.”
“Right. The library. With its dark corners and all those stacks.” James was giggling by this point.
“James, that’s enough,” said Lily, good naturally, smiling at her boyfriend fondly and pulling him down from the top of the sofa to sit next to her. “If Sirius wants to keep it private and not broadcast everything, that is actually good of him. He is being a gentleman, for a change, surprisingly.”
She leaned toward Sirius and whispered, “And despite the fact that I wanted to warn her many times in the past month that she should stay away from you, I think you show great sensibility, there. You two are good for each other.”
Sirius choked on his butterbeer as he realized what all the winking and the implications meant. He started coughing violently as James patted his back. And as soon as Sirius got his breath back, he barked out a laugh, and said, “You think, I’m what…dating her! That’s ridiculous.”
Lily’s face clouded. “Sirius Black! Are you leading her on? Is it just fun for you? Because I hope she knows that!”
“NO!” Sirius yelled out. Many people around the room stopped what they were doing to look at him. He stared defiantly at everyone until most students in the Common Room went back to their own fun. “No,” he said, much quieter. “No, I’m not anything. I’m not dating her, nor seeing her. Not anything. We are just partners on this stupid project! Why would you even think I was dating her?”
“Everyone knows, Sirius,” said Peter. He wore a puzzled expression on his face. “I heard it from Frank who heard it from Emma who heard it from Midas. And you were flirting with her this morning after breakfast.”
“I was not! I was asking her when we should meet up.” Sirius was getting irritated. “To study!” He added as he saw that James was about to say something. “I was not flirting. That’s just regular Black charm. I talk like that to everyone. And she told me a funny joke about our mutual great-grandfather.”
“Look, Padfoot. It’s all right if you don’t want to say anything. But we do like her and everything, if you want to bring her around. You don’t have to hide it,” James said and laid a comforting hand on Sirius’ shoulder.
Sirius shrugged it off and rounded on James, “I’m not seeing her. What the hell! Why does everything think that? I never even mention her.”
“Well, you have been happier lately,” said James.
“And whistling a lot,” said Peter.
“Everyone is talking about it. Remus said Marcus saw you and Athena whispering close together and being all cozy yesterday.” said Lily.
Sirius starred at them. Well, of course, he’d been happier. He and Remus had a lot more chances to be alone now with James spending more and more time with Lily and Peter joining the chess club. And just last week they tried that move where… As his thoughts turned to Remus, Sirius’s brain also caught up to what Lily had said.
“Wait, Remus believes this too?”
“Well, yeah,” said James. “You really can stop denying it.”
Sirius had enough. He put the bottle on the floor, got up and picked up his bag. “I’m not denying anything. Let me say it very clearly – I am not seeing Athena. At all.”
They still looked dubious. Sirius closed his eyes, took a deep breath and asked, “Where is Remus, anyway?”
“He’s upstairs. He wanted to read a book and said it was too loud in here,” Peter said.
“Right.” Sirius turned away, walked to the stairs and took them two at a time. He was fuming. He liked to gossip as much as anybody but his friends should know him better than that, especially James. He silenced the part of his brain that whispered that perhaps he should just tell all his friends the truth about him and Remus.
He opened the door with a violent push, stormed into the room and threw his bag onto the bed. Then he turned toward Remus who was sitting on his own bad, looking startled with a book in his lap.
“Hi,” Remus said. “You’re back earlier.”
“Am I?” said Sirius. He came closer to Remus, taking very slow, deliberate steps. “Well, Athena and I finished the stupid project today, didn’t we?”
Remus’s brow was furrowed. He closed the book and put it aside. “Is everything all right?” he asked.
“I don’t know. It depends.”
“On whether or not you really think I’ve been dating her and sleeping with her and not just meeting her to study.”
Remus froze and then bit his lip. “Look, Sirius. I get it, ok. She is a nice girl and she makes you laugh. I’ve seen it. And I don’t mind. I mean, I do, a bit, but I get it and you deserve more. And I always knew that this would happen that I’m not enou…”
Sirius could not let Remus get another word out. “SHUT IT,” he yelled.
Remus stopped talking and was squeezing the bedsheets with his hands. His knuckles looked white.
Sirius took another step closer. Remus’s body moved back a little and Sirius’ breath hitched.
“You think that I’m seeing her. That I’m really dating her. And that you’re what…just a bit of fun. Just something on the side I want to mess around with? And you’re ok with it.” Sirius could barely get the words out.
“I am.” Remus’ voice was shaking. He visibly steadied himself. “I understand. I know who I am and what I am. And you are Sirius Black. And I know it’s wrong to still be with you. I don’t want to hurt Athena, but I want you even for a little while. So, yes. I’m ok with it.”
“You don’t want to hurt…Are you out of your mind?!” Sirius felt his anger rise along with his voice and tried to keep it under control.
He pointed a finger at Remus and said, “Don’t you dare talk about yourself that way. Don’t you even dare. You are the most courageous and amazing person that I know and don’t you dare think that you don’t deserve everything. Everything! And I want to give that to you.”
“No, don’t. I heard enough. First of all, I’m with you. Not with Athena or anyone else. With you. I don’t want anyone else. At all. Just you, you dumbass. And we are finally together and you think last month was what? Pity? Experiment? What? I’m not with you on the side of anything and the fact that you even think that...that you don’t know… I’m in love with you, you idiot!” Sirius paused to take a deep breath to calm down. After a few seconds where Remus looked at him with wide eyes, Sirius continued, “And second of all, she has boobs – shouldn’t that be a clue not to believe this ridiculous rumour.”
Sirius felt like he ran out of steam. Remus’ eyes looked very teary and he moved closer to the end of bed. Sirius took one more step toward him and his legs met Remus’s.
“You’re not seeing her?”
“No. Do you really think so little of me?”
“I don’t. Sirius, no. I just thought…I’m sorry.” Remus put his hand on Sirius’ waist and scuttled closer. Sirius ran one hand down Remus’ hair and left it on his cheek.
“I love you,” he repeated. Since he said it once, he might as well make a point of it.
Remus’ breath caught a little. “I love you too.”
Sirius leaned down to kiss him.
When he pulled away, Remus was smiling and Sirius couldn’t help it. He smiled too. Happy Remus never failed to make his heart full. He decided that he needed to make sure Remus would never doubt him again.
As he was coming up with elaborate plans, Remus said, “Most courageous and amazing, am I?”
His smile was turning very wicked and his hands were sneaking down.
“Well, yeah. After myself, of course.”
Sirius put all the thoughts of rumours out of his head.