23 July: The Grimmauld of it All Who: Sirius Black and Remus Lupin What: Remus gets the run down on the Grimmauld request from the Prewett brothers and then there is distraction by shenanigans. Where: The Flat When: Tuesday, 23 July evening, after being tricked into lunch with the twins Warnings/Rating: Discussion of pureblood ideology. Jokes about bad parenting in regards to Sirius’s childhood. Language.
At this point, Remus knew Sirius well enough to know when to worry, and when to just bide his time. The truth would shake out eventually. Said truth also usually came best when well fed and after an abundance of cuddles, they really weren’t that different in that respect. The only additional challenge was the Padfoot of it all. Remus loved him in all forms, it was just a lot harder to get information from a dog than a man.
“Home at last?” He said looking up from his notebook where he was sketching a number of different things. “With lots and lots of food? Because, woe, do I suffer from hunger.”
Sirius was indeed bearing bags of greasy pub food: easy take-out, good when hot, guaranteed to be less good as left-overs which was the perfect excuse to eat everything now. Not that they needed one.
If his hair looked a little wild- as if he'd been tugging on it in frustration, unhappiness or both- and the expression in his eyes slightly manic, well, that wasn't so unusual. Sirius's moods ways were intense.
"Yes, yes, I brought food," he said, plunking the paper bags down onto the table. "I promised you I would, didn't I?"
“Always so good to me.” Remus stood up to wrap a hug around Sirius as he laid out the food. It was probably trickier to manage the food with Remus wrapped around him, but Remus always thought the hug was worth it. “Do you want to wash up first or just tuck in? I promise not to eat everything right off.”
Sirius didn’t mind having Remus wrapped around him, though it did make not spilling anything that much harder. It was...grounding, made him feel less like he was apt to fly apart at any second. Though he probably still would regardless.
“Let’s just eat,” he decided. It was true that he didn’t want to talk about it (except for how he also did want to talk about it,) but he fancied being alone with his thoughts even less, even for five minutes. It was stupid. Grimmauld was just a house, and it wasn’t like he had to go there tomorrow or permanently. It shouldn’t make him feel like his stomach was somewhere down in the Earth’s core and his lungs didn’t work right to think about seeing the inside of it again.
But it did.
He grimaced at the food and tried to make sure to keep his face turned from Remus so that the other man wouldn’t see his expression.
“Works for me.” Remus tugged, pulling Sirius back down to the sofa. It was as good a place as any to eat. It was another second or two to rearrange limbs and settle takeaway containers to work out how to eat and cuddle at the same time.
Remus was happy to just be present and eat, telling tales from his rather uneventful day between mouthfuls. When Sirius was ready they would get there.
Sirius was very aware that Remus was soothing him, lulling him into calm. A few years ago he might have been annoyed by it, but now...now he was grateful for the kindness. Remus soothing his prickled feelings felt like home (far more than Grimmauld Place ever had, even in the best moments of his childhood, and Merlin, he didn’t want to go back in there, not even for a minute, and...maybe the soothing wasn’t really going that well, but it was the thought that counter.)
He tried and failed not to fidget as he ate, not paying any attention to the food but pretending to. Finally he made a frustrated noise in his throat and ran his hand through his hair, making it stick up a bit around his face. “I’ve got a…mission, sort of. Couple of missions. Or...tasks, really. Jobs. Stuff to do. The one’ll be fun, even, or at least...uh, in our wheelhouse, if our wheelhouse is sneaking about Hogwarts and infiltrating its secrets, which it is. Dunno if I’m even supposed to be talking about any of it,” he added belatedly. “Whatever. They didn’t say not to. Fuck it.”
Remus redirected Sirius’s hand down and with his other hand attempted to soothe and brush the messy mane. “Given the crowd if you weren’t supposed to say you wouldn’t be able.” From the little Remus knew of the Prewett twins, he knew they were careful. “But doing something is always good. Are these missions about the horcruxes or have you been tricked into some strange pureblood courting ritual.”
Sirius pulled an awful face at that thought. “Ugh. Moony. I’ve never courted a bloody pureblood and I absolutely am not going to start now. Though,” he added, going thoughtful, “there’s a certain appeal in seducing someone into blood traitor-dom. Piss off the old guard, all that.”
He was stalling very obviously, of course, and he let Remus smooth his hair into something resembling order to further distract.
“Then think of the scandal over courting a werewolf with no ability to produce an heir.” Remus scooted back onto the sofa, pulling Sirius with him. The time to eat was over, a good dent made in all the options. “So not a pureblood courting ritual, but maybe the other thing? It is well past time we got some leads on the horcruxes.”
“Mmm, they might hate it more if I did produce a pureblood kid and raised it wrong,” Sirius mused as he leaned back with Remus. “But I’d rather have a werewolf anyway.”
He couldn’t stall forever, though. Or rather, he could, but he knew he shouldn’t.
“Yeah. Two of ‘em that I know about. One is in Hogwarts somewhere, and the way their locating spell is acting I’m pretty sure it’s in one of those weird unplottable spots we found when we were doing the Map. I’m thinking that one on the seventh floor near the dancing trolls, yeah? Just ‘cos it’s hardest to get into and also weirdest. Great for hiding a thing you never want anyone to look at.”
“One at Hogwarts shouldn’t be much of a bother.” Wasn’t that a thought? With a short trip to the school they might actually get a horcrux. There was still the question of how to destroy them, and maybe it was safer at the school until they knew. And despite, Hogwarts being the initial site of the Peter unraveling, Remus doubted that was what was upsetting Sirius. Still, Remus might had held him a little more firmly as he continued, “What about the other mission?”
Sirius rubbed a hand over his face and shook his head a little. Still. Better to just say it, even if that did make it a real thing he would really have to do, and think about, and come to terms with.
“There’s another one they’ve found. At Grimmauld Place.”
Which meant all sorts of things, not one of them something Sirius could take with aplomb. Even if his inability to act flippant and uncaring was shaming him to no end. He glanced at Remus and then quickly away again.
Remus forced himself to pause, using a head kiss as an excuse. Then best to go with the joke first, rather than the more solemn questions. “What? You don’t want to introduce me to your parents?”
Sirius snorted, but there was not, in fact, much humour in it. “If either of my parents came within a hundred bloody meters of you, I’d hex them into the next life,” he muttered darkly. “Don’t think I couldn’t. Mum’s not as good a duelist as Bellatrix, I could actually bloody beat her now.”
“She gets that close and maybe I threaten to lick her.” That joke assumed she might know more than she should, but it was a solid option. “But you went with me to my dad’s place. I am certainly willing to accompany you, be your guard dog as it were.”
Oh, Merlin. There was a chance Walburga might know, at that. But...no. If she’d known that her erstwhile son’s best friend- boyfriend, now- was a werewolf, she’d have spit the knowledge out to everyone, used it to ruin both their lives. Bellatrix surely hadn’t mentioned the fact to her aunt, probably thinking she had enough grief in her life without knowing that Sirius was sleeping with an “animal,” or whatever other horrible prejudiced rot she believed about the situation.
The thought of Remus coming with him was awful and tempting all at once, but he shook his head glumly. “There’s a blood line. And...other things. The sort of thing you’d expect a paranoid like her to have set up. That’s part of why it’s got to be me, although a lot of that is just that I know the fucking place.Though,” he added, perking up a little, “could be she’s added more security. Could be I won’t make it inside at all.”
Could be he’d get cursed terribly for his trouble, but that was still weirdly more appealing than actually going inside.
“Doesn’t mean you have to go alone.” Remus only barely understood the whole pureblood nonsense, and even then he never had to live it. There was magic there, blood was a powerful thing, but it wasn’t the only place of power. “And if not me, then what about James? Or one of the Prewetts?” They were purebloods of various standing. Remus would prefer it to be him, but he understood if Sirius would prefer otherwise.
"So you'll, what, hang around in the street and chance Walburga spotting you and getting suspicious while I sneak around the place looking for a bit of You Know Who's soul?" Sirius asked with a snort. "Bad idea. I'll just...I'll go. I'll get the bloody thing. Not a big deal, don't even know why it's bothering me."
But it obviously was bothering him, and quite a bit or he wouldn't have admitted it in so many words.
There was an errant thought about it being nice to have another friend who could fit in your pocket. Except that wasn’t true anymore. Wormtail wasn’t an option. Instead, he rested his chin on Sirius’s shoulder, taking a moment to breathe, to pick better words. “I’d rather be spotted then you be all on your own in that house. You are not alone, and Walburga doesn’t get to do anything to you, or me.”
Instinct was to shrug Remus off and fidget away, but Sirius resisted it somehow. Taking the comfort was allowed, he reminded himself. Even if it was always going to feel a little bit foreign. For all of the touching and cuddling and piling on that all of the Marauders had been doing for years, it still felt taboo when he was upset, like there was a catch, like the other shoe was about to drop because he was getting too close.
But that wasn't true. And acting like it was would be letting bloody Walburga win.
"She won't do anything to me," he reminded, frowning. "I can take her in a duel, I already said. Anyway, I made it out of there once, and that was harder than this'll be. This is just sneaking." Whereas that time, it had been begging his brother to come along and being denied, on top of the sneaking. Among other hardships, other hurts.
“It’s not your dueling ability I worry about.” No, there other wounds and scars there, ones that didn’t leave physical marks. And Remus knew they were on uneasy ground with Sirius right now. “Do you know what you’d be looking for?”
Grimacing, Sirius nodded. "Yeah. They think it's Slytherin's locket. Which, it would be, wouldn't it. Not like the House of Black would let anyone store Hufflepuff's teacup, or whatever, there. Not even You Know Who could make them accept something from any house but Slytherin."
“Okay, you have to knick some jewelry from your mum. You’ve overcome far greater challenges.” And put that way, it did seem rather simple. Although Remus knew it was tantamount to his Welsh adventure to collect the horrid ‘back up’ plan that still sat tucked in the back of a closet not to be thought about.
Sirius grunted and ran a hand over his face. It was so, so stupid. He knew it was. "Its not even that it's fucking Walburga," he said, all in a rush. "Or, it is that it's fucking Walburga, it's always fucking Walburga, but...it's just...there's only one reason why it's there, isn't there? Walburga isn't the one who You Know Who gave it to, and I just...i don't want to go picking through his stuff. Merlin, it's so dumb, I'm pathetic."
Remus nudged Sirius with his nose. “Or, and this is a wild idea. You are human.” The words came slow to carry their weight and hope it was heard. “Humans have all sorts of strange and complicated feelings. And he is your brother. Despite all else.” Blood mattered, yes, but so did shared experiences. Sirius escaped the Noble and Most Ancient House, Regulus didn’t. “And it could be worse. The locket could have been a courting gift to Walburga.”
"He was a Death Eater," Sirius started to protest before Remus's joke brought him up short. He twisted to stare at his boyfriend in mute horror for several long seconds before he could find his voice to reply. "Oh Christ, Moony, if you try to imply that the Dark Lord is my real Dad, you will be sleeping in this couch, I swear."
He was laughing a little as he said it, though, so the humor wasn't lost on him.
“And then we’d both be sleeping on the coach.” Remus bopped his nose. “But I don’t envy you the task ahead. And even if you won’t let me go with you. I am here for you. Just like you take care of me. It makes me feel better, useful even, to be able to return the favor.”
"It's not a favor," Sirius protested, because 'favor' implied that it was a hardship, a debt, and that wasn't it at all. "But yeah, ok, I will think about you coming. Thank you."
“This relationship between us should go both ways is all. And thank you for telling me.” Remus ran a hand through Sirius’s hair gain, sure to give a good scritch at the base. “Now, I think we need to spend the rest of our evening watching very stupid and pooly made action-adventure movies. I will also accept comedies.”
The rest of the evening settled into something more of a normal with bodies strewn about the sofa in various formations. There was also a noble, but not really surprising polishing off of the rest of the take away, and really just comfort, presence.
It was a moment to breathe, to unwind, but also, at times a moment for those unwelcome thoughts to creep in, about families and friendships.
The hurts caused by Pettigrew’s betrayal of the Marauders weren’t fading yet. It was going to take a long time- Sirius knew from experience, though not precisely this type of experience, how long it could take for the wounds inflicted by discovering that someone you thought was family in fact wasn’t to scar over- but the pain had, at least, started to dull. Enough that he, and the others, were capable of thinking about other things in their quiet moments; enough that it had become obvious that a distraction that wasn’t full of darkness and distress was in order.
And after all, they were still young. Young and, in the case of he and Remus, still in the very beginning stages of the first (and only, if Sirius had anything to say about it,) really serious romantic relationship of their lives. So early, in fact, that in and amongst everything else certain necessary first steps had been neglected.
This realization caught him by surprise, but it didn’t take long for him to decide that it needed to be remedied. It took about five seconds, really, and then he was poking his toes gently into Remus’s stomach to get his attention, having been sprawled out on the sofa with his legs across the seated werewolf’s lap.
“Moony,” he said urgently, just in case the poking wasn’t enough, “Moony. Do you know what we’ve never done?”
Remus had in fact been very comfortable up until the poking started. “Hmmm. Climb to the top of Everest? Actually enjoy a vegetarian meal? Successfully pull off polka dots?” He grabbed hold of Sirius’s foot with a gentle squeeze.
“No, I- hey! I look fantastic in that shirt and you know it,” Sirius protested, though he notably did not untangle himself from Remus’s lap. Nor did he try to take his foot back. “Just for that I’m going to wear it when we do the thing I’m actually thinking of, which is...drumroll, please...go on a date!”
He wiggled his fingers in something like a bad impression of jazz-hands as if he was expecting applause.
“A date?” Remus didn’t hide the face he made. The fond exasperation wasn’t anything new. “You do realize you don’t have to woo me. We live together and I am pretty much a sure deal. Besides, we have pseudo dates. Is this not a date?” There had been food earlier and they were spending time being together. “Or is the ask an excuse for me to wear the three wolf moon t-shirt again?”
“One,” Sirius said, ticking off the numbers on his fingers as he spoke, “I do so have to woo you. That’s what you do when you’re in, you know, a relationship or that. Two, you’re not a sure deal, d’you understand how long I pined in secret? You don’t pine when someone’s a sure deal. And three, this is definitely not a date. This is us hanging around doing exactly what we’ve done since we were twelve, more or less. Unless you’re telling me that we’ve actually been in a romantic relationship since we hit puberty and I just didn’t know i- wait. Were we? That actually sounds like me. Shit.”
“It’s all a matter of perspective, I guess. And I am not sure you can be dating someone and not know it.” Remus crinkled his nose at the thought. He had opinions about secret pining, but he had this now. Why delve back into it? “So, yes, newer, but I would say pretty certain. You’re stuck with me now, Black, forever and ever.” He started to more properly massage the foot in his hand. The other one would get it’s time.
“However. I could be agreeable to wooing, but I like this too.”
Tipping his head back with a happy little moan (he hadn't exactly been trying to coax a foot massage out of Remus, but he hadn't exactly not been either,) Sirius struggled to keep his focus on the conversation at hand. Since he'd started it, after all.
"Do we call it 'stuck' when it's mutually agreeable? Whatever. The point is, first date, what do you say? I'll take you wherever you want. Except to the top of Everest or a vegetarian restaurant, those were both horrible suggestions. You'd hate either of them."
“I would be terribly cold and hungry.” As intended, Remus did switch to the other foot. “And I am mutually agreeable to you as well. But sure, let’s do it, go on a date. Proper and all, well, not that proper given present company.” Of course now the question was what could do on said date that they didn’t do already. “But I will likely require food. Libations. And something...well something else.”
Sirius looked at Remus again, bright-eyed with pleasure at the agreement. “You always require food,” he pointed out fondly. “That’s a given, Moony-o. And we can do something else. Anything, whatever you like. Well, whatever you like within flying motorbike distance, anyway.”
“We can try that newer brewpub in Glasgow? Then see where the night takes us?” That also meant an excuse to go out on the bike. For Remus, that was always an exciting and solid adventure. “You’re not really going to wear the polka dot shirt are you?”
Sirius pouted outrageously at that. “Are you saying I don’t look good in it? Moony. I am injured. I am hurt. Maybe I don’t want to take you on a date after all, if you’re going to be cruel to me when I’m trying to woo you.”
“Why Mssr Padfoot, are you trying to Welsh on a deal?” Remus stopped the impromptu foot massage, settling both his hands on Sirius’s ankles. It was most certainly a warning. “Have I turned you native?”
“Oi, London born and bred, more’s the pity,” Sirius protested, poking his toes into Remus’s thigh again. “And I’m just saying you shouldn’t be cruel to the one who loves you. It’s bad karma.”
Remus shook his head. “Well, well, well, whatever am going to do with you?” Before there was even time or space to answer, Remus’s hands drifted upward on a very serious mission to attack and all ticklish spots. Ever the tactician, Remus allowed his body to follow, attempting to pin Sirius to the couch.
"I can think of a few thi- ack!" Sirius shrieked, flailing to try to save himself from the tickling. It wasn't particularly effective, but then again he wasn't actually trying all that hard.
The tickle assault continued for a few seconds. It was as much of an honest action, as it could be a set up for something more. Remus wasn’t lying when he said all he really needed for this. Hanging out with Sirius, being able to touch him more freely. Sirius wasn’t the only one who pined and wanted for things he didn’t think he could have. Or even that he deserved them.
Remus paused, precariously positioned just above Sirius. “Now, what are you thinking?”
Sirius took a moment to get his breath back, trying and failing utterly to glare up at Remus.
"About what you're going to do with me?" He asked when he'd recovered sufficiently, though he took the time as he spoke to hook both legs around his boyfriend's waist. "Or about what else we ought to do on our first date?"
“Both. I think always both.” Remus pressed down into Sirius leaving no space between them. “But best to settle more urgent matters first.” And for effect he waggled his eyebrows.
Laughing, Sirius pulled Remus in for a kiss and wherever the kissing would lead. Somewhere wonderful, he was sure. It always did.