Remus listened warily as Sirius moved, noisily, from the pantry, through the short hallway, and into the bedroom, closing the door with a bang that made Remus jump. He waited, but when after a minute or two Sirius did not re-emerge, he shrugged and returned to his book.
Time became uncanny after that. Remus spent what he estimated to have been about twenty minutes reading the same paragraph, only to glance up at the clock and find that five had passed. Another time he lifted his gaze from his page and was startled to see that the shadows that fell across the room had lengthened considerably. It was nearly teatime, he realised, and about time for it, since despite the fact that he’d made scant headway in the chapter he’d intended to spend the afternoon studying, his eyes were dry from staring and his head was beginning to ache dully. He opened his mouth to tell Sirius to put on the kettle, but remembered in time that he was still not speaking to Sirius.
Remus slumped in the overstuffed chair and pondered the possibilities. He really did fancy a cuppa; it was cold in the flat, and James and Lily had just sent them a tin of delicious-smelling violet tea, purchased while on their honeymoon in Spain. Moreover, there was shortbread in the cupboard. He supposed he could get up and get it himself, or just summon the tea things if he could reach his wand. But the thought of Sirius--lovely, repentant Sirius--serving him, and then joining him was too pleasant to be dismissed. He wondered how to let Sirius know it was teatime, without actually saying the words. He was still wondering, when a familiar voice hissed, “Psst! Moony!”
Startled, Remus jumped again, then looked around wildly. When he saw the sock puppet, poking up over the back of his chair, he crossed his arms over his chest and glowered. “Cute,” he said dryly.
“Well,” said Sirius, “I reckoned since you weren’t speaking to me--I mean to Sirius--your non-speaking sanction didn’t cover me. Footpad,” he clarified.
Remus studied the blue button eyes, the lolling velveteen tongue, the lopsided, flopping ears, and tried, without success, to be angry. The knot in his belly loosened slowly, and he realised with some dismay that he was going to forgive his errant boyfriend, and sooner than he’d anticipated. But if the ending was a foregone conclusion, he was going to make Sirius work for it.
“All right,” said Remus. “No, when I said I didn’t want to talk to Sirius any more, I didn’t have Footpads in mind. What do you want?”
“Well,” said the voice from behind the chair, “your loving boyfriend and I have spent the afternoon conferring, and we’ve decided that you, Moony, are beautiful and intelligent and studious and…stuff. And far too good for us, obviously. Us meaning unwashed sock puppets and, you know, unworthy bitches. We love you, Moony. Lots. More than anything in the world, in fact. Padfoot, especially, loves you. And I--that is, the two of us, I Pa--Footpad and you know…bugger, Moony, I can’t keep this up. I’m really sorry, all right? Can I get off the floor, now?”
Remus scrambled tiredly to his knees and leaned against the chair’s back. Sirius, sitting cross-legged on the floor, grinned up at him crookedly. “Keep talking,” said Remus.
“Everything, of course.”
“Let’s hear it, then.”
Irritation flashed in the pale blue eyes, but was gone quickly. Sirius sighed and said, “I’m sorry I left the pantry a mess this morning. And yesterday morning. And Monday,” he added hastily.
Remus watched him steadily.
“I’m sorry I forgot to give you that letter from the Registry.”
“I should think so.”
“I’m sorry I called Wormtail a pasty, spineless…worm.”
Remus raised an eyebrow.
“…to his face,” Sirius muttered. “Sorry I forgot to return your library books, sorry I ate all the ice cream and the shortbread--”
“What!” Remus’ fingers curled around the chair’s back. “You didn’t,” he said flatly.
“Nah, I didn’t,” Sirius agreed, grinning again. “There’s plenty for both of us if you’ll take tea with me. Please, Moony?”
Remus considered. “I don’t know,” he said at length. “Are you really penitent?”
“I’m the most penitent person in the world, Moony. Or I shall be if that’s what you want…”
“That is want I want,” Remus said reflectively. Quite unbidden, a corner of his mouth quirked upward. “Footpad was better at flattery.”
“Footpad’s a sodding whore,” Sirius said derisively. “Please, Remus? I’m really sorry. Two lumps and cream, love?”
Remus glanced back at the sock puppet. “I dunno, Footpad. He called you a whore. You think I should forgive this wanker?”
“I think so,” said Sirius at once. “I also think you’re entitled to a bit of vengeance. He is your bitch, after all.”
Remus put his head in his hands. “Sirius…”
“Yes, my love?”
He shook his head. “Please stop calling me that. Did you at least apologise to Peter?”
“Yes, for real. Ask him if you don’t believe me.”
“Why should I forgive you?”
“Because,” said Sirius sagely, “of the benefits. Well, think,” he went on as Remus lifted his head and frowned at him. “What do you get if you stay angry? Nothing. You get to spend the rest of the day revising. La-di-sodding-da. You get to go to bed early. If you forgive me…you get tea and your damn precious shortbread. And you get to shag me rotten, later. Joking aside,” he said, finally sounding tired, “I’m really sorry. Really. I love you. I know I’m a great git, I know I don’t deserve you, but somehow I got you, so I’m going to try to keep you. Please give me another chance?”
“I’m not that angry with you,” Remus said, smiling slightly. “All right, get up. You’re forgiven. Put the puppet away and get me my tea.”
Sirius rose in one fluid motion and was halfway across the room before he
stopped, glanced over his shoulder, and said, his dark eyebrows raised slightly, “Do you love me, Remus?”
“You know I do,” said Remus, taken aback.
“But you don’t say it as often as I do.” The blue eyes were narrowed and deeply troubled.
“Well--” Remus cast about helplessly for a satisfactory reply that would not result in a soul-baring conversation. “I don’t talk as much as you do,” he said finally, and a little lamely. “The number of times I say it are proportionate, I guess, to the number of times I…talk.”
Sirius scratched the back of his neck and looked at his bare feet. “I guess.”
“I love you,” Remus said. “A lot. I missed you when we weren’t talking.”
“That was only three hours,” said Sirius.
“Well… It felt like a lot longer,” said Remus, and had for his reward that adoring blue gaze and that brilliant smile. He felt a flutter beneath his ribcage and knew with sudden certainty exactly how the day was going to end. “Get the tea,” he said, smiling back, “and we’ll discuss your redemption.”