The blinding stadium lights burned against Remus’ eyes as he looked on from the stands. He was flush, despite the cold and the light rain, and a small smile graced his lips. To any onlooker, it would appear that Remus was a rugby fan. He had on a jersey from his University team, a matching hat, and his eyes danced across the field below him. But truly, Remus had never cared much for rugby. But Remus most certainly cared for him.
Remus could barely recognize Sirius from all the way up in the stands. All the players generally jumbled together and Remus relied on Sirius’ mess of dark hair and the number twenty-four on his back. But the way that Sirius practically danced across the field was the easiest way to identify him. He somehow moved gracefully despite the rough nature of the sport, weaving in and out of other players and throwing the ball with a practiced, nimble movement. It was entrancing and Remus couldn’t look away.
The final point was scored and Sirius grabbed the shoulders of his closest teammate and shook him in excitement. Remus felt his smile widen as Sirius hopped from player to player, eyes and grin wide. He really was beautiful, even through the sweat and dirt across his face.
For a moment Remus hoped that Sirius would look up, see him, and smile. Some sort of acknowledgment that Remus was there, wearing his shirt and only in the stands because Sirius had asked him to come. But Sirius’ eyes scanned the stands and looked past Remus, not even pausing for a moment, looking through him as if he was a ghost.
Remus worked as a tutor through his University’s student services as part of his work-study. The work helped with his scholarship so he spent every Tuesday and Thursday night on the third floor of the library waiting for a pupil. He mostly met with younger students who were succumbing to the unexpected stress of higher education. He truly liked being a tutor. Remus planned on being a teacher after he graduated and he welcomed the practice, but he did often find these sessions a tad boring.
And then on a Tuesday night, right as Remus was shooing off a first-year, Sirius walked through the library’s double doors. Remus knew who he was of course. Everybody did. He was the school’s star Rugby player, and possibly the most attractive man that Remus had ever seen.
He was tall, but not quite as tall as Remus, with broad shoulders but an otherwise lean frame. At the time his hair was pulled back, a small bun at the base of his skull with small pieces framing his face. His grey eyes glinted under the fluorescents.
“Is this the tutoring center?” he had asked with a raised eyebrow. Remus swallowed thickly and nodded, sending a smile to the first year as they gathered their belongings and fled the library.
“Lucky bastard,” Remus thought to himself as Sirius slid in the now empty seat across from him. He could already feel his cheeks heating up and he was not looking forward to being visibly flustered each time Sirius looked at him.
“I need a tutor,” Sirius said, leaning back in his chair and placing his hands behind his head. Remus tried his hardest not to stare.
“What course? I only tutor in History and Literature courses. If you need help with something else I can grab Marlene or Lily,” Remus replied, shuffling his papers around.
“History,” Sirius said, “The class I have with you.” Remus looked up at that and met Sirius’ gaze, the other man smiling playfully. Remus knew the class he was referring to, but he had assumed Sirius had never noticed him. He sat a few rows behind Sirius and truthfully spent most of the hour staring at the back of his head. Remus was lucky he didn’t mind the reading or else he would be completely lost.
“Ah yes, History of the British Isles ,” Remus recited. He leaned down next to his bag and pulled out his textbook. “What do you need help with?” he inquired.
“Just need to review a bit before the next quiz,” Sirius answered, “I’ve got to keep up good grades to play.”
“Of course,” Remus answered, “Did you bring your book?” Sirius smiled and shrugged.
“I forgot mine, guess we’ll have to share,” he replied. Sirius got up and marched across the table before plopping down in the seat next to Remus, far closer than he needed to be. So close Remus could smell his cologne and see the faint blue specks in his eyes.
Remus averted his eyes and dove into revising, ignoring how he could feel Sirius’ eyes on him.
Remus couldn’t deny that he was attracted to the Rugby player. From the moment he had spotted him from across a lecture hall his first year, he couldn’t ignore his physical reaction. But that’s all Remus allowed it to be. An infatuation based on nothing but physicality and aesthetics. Sirius was known around campus as a flirt, though it was blatantly obvious that he only flirted with members of the fairer sex. And Remus couldn’t let himself fall for a straight guy. So he appreciated the back of Sirius’ head during lectures and allowed himself to look up his pictures on the school’s athletic website on particularly lonely nights. But he never allowed himself the illusion that his attraction could amount to anything more than that.
That was until he felt Sirius’ hand land on his knee under the table as he explained the significance of the bloodless revolution.
Remus stuttered for a brief moment, stealing a quick glance at Sirius. The other boy stared resolutely down at the book in front of them, avoiding eye contact at all costs. But Remus could see the faintest of blushes dusting his porcelain skin.
Remus cleared his throat and continued his reading.
The next Tuesday Sirius was back. He and Remus studied for a good twenty minutes before he placed his hand on Remus’ knee once again. Remus let it rest there for a few moments before internally taking a breath and reaching down to tangle their fingers together under the table, obscured from view. Sirius let out a surprised cough, but when Remus glanced up, he saw a small smile on the boy’s face.
Later, one of Sirius’ teammates came barrelling through the library. His hair was dark and pointing in all directions and he had a grin plastered across his bespectacled face.
“Oi, Padfoot! Seen Evans around here?” He shouted, seemingly unaware of his location. Sirius practically jumped out of his seat and ripped his hand from Remus’, running his now free fingers through his hair.
“James! What are you doing here?” He asked, his face a dark shade of scarlet. Remus shrunk into himself, pulling his limp arm into his lap. Of course, Sirius wouldn’t want to be seen holding hands with a bloke. “ Especially me,” Remus thought to himself bitterly. He stared awkwardly at the grain on the tabletop.
“I told you, looking for Evans,” the boy, presumably James, answered. “She tutors chem students here a few nights a week.”
“I haven’t seen her,” Sirius answered. James sighed and dropped down into the chair across the table.
“I must’ve just missed her,” he lamented, “I meant to ask her to the game this weekend.” Sirius’ knee began to bounce under the table.
“She left about ten minutes ago,” Remus offered meekly. James’ eyes shot up and looked at Remus as if he had just noticed his presence.
“Do you think I could still catch her?” James asked quickly. Remus shrugged.
“Maybe? She usually leaves through the south exit,” he replied. James shot up from his seat, a wide grin on his face.
“Thanks, mate, you’re a lifesaver!” he shouted at Remus as he heading towards the door. A tense silence fell over the table as soon as James left.
“Sorry about him,” Sirius grumbled.
“It’s alright,” Remus replied, “though he could be a tad quieter. It’s a bloody library after all.” Sirius let out a week chuckle.
“Don’t know if he’s ever stepped foot into a library before. He’s unfamiliar with the proper etiquette,” he said softly. The boys were quiet for a moment more and Remus longed for the familiar weight on his knee to return but it never did.
“I take it he doesn’t know then,” Remus asked softly. Sirius looked up at Remus with wide eyes.
“Know what?” he practically whispered, his eyes darting around the room. Remus shook his head.
“Nevermind,” he muttered, pretending not to be hurt when Sirius scooted his chair farther away.
Remus shoved his hands in his pockets as he shuffled away from the stands. He questioned why he had even come to the stupid game in the first place and why he let Sirius have so much of a hold on him. It was embarrassing, really, how much he felt for the dark-haired boy and what he would do for him.
Remus caught sight of a familiar head of dark red hair and he sped up to fall in step with Lily, one of the other tutors. She shot him a smile when she saw him.
“Remus, I didn’t realize you were a rugby fan,” she chirped, taking in his spirit wear. Remus just shrugged.
“Eh, can’t say I am. Just thought I come to watch once. Get the full university experience, you know?” he said, hoping it explained away his presence. Lily just hummed and gave him an odd look, her eyes lingering on his jersey.
“Maybe you should come out to more games. I’ve come to enjoy it after a few matches,” Lily said. She had started going out with James Potter, the team’s full-back, and had started coming to the matches weekly. Remus sniffed.
“Maybe. I’ll think about it,” he replied.
Suddenly, a mess of black hair came flying towards Lily, practically tackling her. Lily let out a shrill giggle and attempted to extract herself from her over-excited boyfriend.
“James let go!” she squealed, “you’re all sweaty!” James planted a wet kiss on her cheek before releasing her, shooting Remus a hurried smile.
“Sorry Lils, I‘m just so excited that you came,” he said. Lily rolled her eyes playfully.
“I come to all of your matches, you dolt,” she replied. James just gave her a goofy smile.
“And yet I still get excited every time I see you in the stands.”
Remus’s chest ached as he watched the look that James was giving Lily. He ached at the hand so boldly wrapped around her waist and the quick kiss that she gave him. It didn’t feel fair. Remus ached for that. He wanted to hold his lover’s hand without a second thought, to publicly love him completely and unapologetically.
“Are we still going to Gid’s afterparty?” Lily asked James. He nodded, resting his chin on her head.
“Remus, do you want to come?” Lily asked, looking at him with her wide, green eyes. Remus hesitated.
“Uh… I’m not sure,” he started.
“Oh come on it’ll be fun,” Lily pleaded.
“What’ll be fun?” an all too familiar voice asked from behind Remus. He tried to look over his shoulder as casually as possible, drinking in Sirius in his rugby uniform.
“Gid’s party,” Lily answered, “I’m trying to get my friend Remus here to go.” Sirius’ eyes met Remus’ and a shock went through his body. The charged moment barely lasted before Sirius gave him an awkward smile and a nod.
“Do you two know each other?” Lily asked.
“Lupin has helped me out with history homework a few times,” Sirius answered smoothly. Remus nodded.
“You should come, to the party I mean,” Sirius said. His words were cursory and off-hand but Remus heard an undercurrent in them. Sirius wanted him there.
“Yeah maybe. It’s been a while since I’ve gone out,” he said with a shrug.
“Perfect,” Lily said with a smile.
It took two more tutoring sessions for Sirius to place his hand on Remus’ thigh again. Then only two more before Sirius asked if Remus would prefer to study in his dorm instead.
The second they walked into Sirius’ empty room, his mouth was on Remus’ in a searing kiss. It was nothing like Remus had ever felt before. His mouth was hot and sweet, his tongue sliding across Remus’ teeth, his hands in Remus’ curls. Remus felt as if his body was on fire, every touch sending sparks through his limbs. The world fell away as Sirius pressed against him, sighing into his mouth. He pulled away for air, Remus chasing his lips.
“You have no idea how long I’ve wanted to do that,” he groaned into Remus’ ear.
“Probably just as long as I have,” Remus murmured before leaning down to meet Sirius in another kiss.
And thus, Remus’ life became a series of clandestine meetings and insistences that no one could know.
“I’m not, you know…” Sirius began one night after hours of kissing in the dark.
“Gay?” Remus breathed out.
“Yeah. That. I’m not that.”
Remus would crawl home at odd hours, never spending the night in Sirius’ bed. Never feeling like he was allowed to. It hurt, the hiding and the longing for something more, but Remus just couldn’t stop. Sirius had somehow consumed him, seeping into his skin and pillaging his mind. He couldn’t let go of whatever this was just yet.
The walk from the stadium to Gideon Prewitt’s off-campus home wasn’t far. Remus fell slightly behind James and Lily as he made his way there, stealing glances at Sirius as he walked.
“You played well,” Remus said, slicing through the thick silence.
Sirius looked up, seemingly surprised that Remus spoke. His eyes landed on the Jersey that Remus wore, his eyes darkening at the twenty-four across his chest.
“Thanks, mate,” Sirius said after a moment, having shaken himself out of his trance.
Mate. Remus’ stomach dropped.
The more time Remus spent with Sirius the harder he fell for him. He was enraptured by the passionate way he spoke about the things he cared about, the way he smiled into kisses, and the way he traced the scar just above Remus’ lip.
But it became all the more clear that Sirius could never fully be his.
Sirius was insistent that he was straight, vehemently denying that he could be anything but every time he saw Remus. It was abundantly clear to Remus that after the things they did, Sirius certainly wasn’t straight. But he had learned early on not to point that out. It would only ever lead to an argument and Remus leaving the room as a door slammed behind him.
But every time Remus suggested that Sirius might not be straight, fear flashed through Sirius’ eyes before anger. It was only for a moment, and so quick that Remus barely caught it. But it was clear: Sirius was stricken with terror.
It wasn’t hard to figure out where this fear stemmed from. A cursory google search told you everything you needed to know about the Blacks. They were a prominent political dynasty in England, their conservative views extreme even for their side of the political spectrum. Bigotry ran deep through their blood, and not even Sirius could escape their influence.
“I ran away when I was sixteen,” Sirius had told him once. “I went to live with James and his family. I just couldn’t take it at home anymore.” Remus had shifted in the bed and looked at Sirius. Even in the dim lighting, the vulnerability in his eyes was clear as day. This was a Sirius only Remus was Privy to. Not the bravado that he put on for everyone else.
“Did they do something to you?” Remus whispered, fearing the answer. Sirius let out a humorless laugh.
“They did a lot of things to me. It got so bad I had to get out,” he replied.
“I’m so sorry,” Remus had said. Because what else was he to say? He leaned over and pressed a kiss to Sirius’ bare shoulder. Sirius flinched away.
“Sirius,” Remus murmured, “You got out, they can’t hurt you anymore.” Sirius turned and looked at Remus, his eyebrows drawn and his eyes pensive.
“Of course they can.”
Remus stood in the kitchen, a cup full of some mysterious liquid in his hand. He surveyed the room, regret pooling in his gut. Had he imagined the look in Sirius’ eyes when he had asked him to come? He must have, because Sirius was nowhere to be found. So Remus was left to his own devices.
He took a sip of his drink and eyed the couple in the corner. They were two senior boys, tangled up in each other on the couch, laughing as they talked to their friends. Remus yearned for that kind of domestic bliss. To be able to curl up in Sirius’ arms in public. To be able to do something as simple as call him his boyfriend.
Remus wandered from room to room, hoping to catch a glimpse of Sirius. It wasn’t until he reached the basement that he did. He felt as if he may throw up.
There sat Sirius with his hand wrapped around a pretty girl’s waist, his face close to her’s as she talked. Remus stared for a minute, taking in the sight of the boy he was slowly falling in love with, in the arms of someone else.
And as if Remus’s gaze had burned him, Sirius looked up wildly, his eyes meeting Remus’. Remus turned and tumbled up the stairs as fast as he could, tears burning at the back of his throat. He tore through the crowd, ignoring Lily’s questioning cries in the kitchen, and stumbled through the front door.
“Remus wait!” Sirius called from behind him. Remus ignored him and kept walking, racing down the pavement as fast as he could.
“Remus please,” he heard again. The house out of sight, Remus finally stopped and turned slowly, refusing to look at Sirius.
“Remus, I’m so sorry,” Sirius said, his eyes desperate and pleading. Remus shook his head.
“I don’t care,” he said slowly. Sirius looked as if he had been doused in cold water.
“I said I don’t care that you’re sorry. I can’t do this anymore,” Remus spit out.
“No, no, no, you don’t mean that,” Sirius pleaded. Remus laughed darkly and ran a hand through his hair.
“Yes, I do. This is clearly not what you wanted so just end it now. Just let me down gently now before this hurts me more.”
“Remus…” Sirius whispered, “I do, I do want you.”
“But I don’t want you,” Remus croaked, “Not like this.” Sirius shut his eyes and backed away, the words hitting him like a punch in the gut.
“No. I can’t do this. I can’t hide and I can’t watch you keep running from this,” Remus said, his face set.
“I’m not running from anything,” Sirius said through gritted teeth, his voice hard. Remus scoffed and shook his head.
“Whatever. It’s not my problem anymore. You’re not my problem anymore,” Remus replied. Sirius’ angry expression melted into something else entirely at that; resignation. He ran a hand over his face and looked back towards the house, taking a nervous breath.
“So that’s it then?” he asked softly. Remus sighed, his anger dissipating, leaving only a gaping hole in his chest.
“Yeah. That’s it.”
“Goodbye, Remus,” he whispered.
It was a Thursday on the third floor of the library, and for the first time in months, Sirius Black never showed.