Title: Gracious Revelation
Disclaimer: Harry Potter and related characters belong to JK Rowling and various other people and companies. Not me, no matter how much I'd like to own Sirius, at least. And no matter how much I'd like to, I make no money from this.
Rating: um... huh. PG-13? A couple of bad words and dirty thoughts, but...
Summary: An accident, a lecture, a conversation and a shortcut lead to good things for Remus and Sirius. Third person. Schooldays. (Slightly-pre)slash. Can be a stand-alone or a resolution to "Sweet Torture" and "Cherished Smiles".
Sirius completed his Potions assignment with a flourish of his quill, and stretched backwards with a satisfied sigh. With a final grunt, he straightened up, and opened his eyes to find Remus observing him with an indulgent smile. He grinned back, the mere presence of his friend enough to noticeably lighten his demeanour. Remus' smile brightened, and the feedback loop of each boy's good cheer fuelling the other's could have continued for some time; were it not for Sirius unconsciously leaning forward to close the distance between them and knocking over his ink bottle. In the ensuing panic of removing items from the path of the spill and attempting to mop up the streams of ink, the instant of connection was lost, though not forgotten.
When the danger was somewhat past, Remus glanced across at the darker boy, and commented in a seemingly idle fashion, "That's a lot of ink for one bottle." Sirius coughed nervously, expression caught somewhere between guilt, a feigned innocence, and a grin. "Er... it's like blood, you know, looks like more than it is," he stumbled. He persisted through Remus' raised eyebrow of disbelief, but when the smaller boy added a slow headshake, Sirius crumbled and grudgingly admitted that he "might have cast an Ever-Full charm on it." Remus' amused laugh carried softly across the table he was perched on, and he settled himself more comfortably to compose his lecture as Sirius busied himself tidying the remnants of his accident and reorganising his belongings. He stopped abruptly when hailed as "Mr Black!" "Yes, Professor Lupin?" he replied, and a brief grin flashed between the pair before they settled into their roles as long-suffering schoolmaster and penitent pupil.
"Point the First: the inkwells are set into the desks for a reason, Mr Black. Kindly see your way fit to using them. Point the Second: you can apparently master an Ever-Full charm and use it for a trivial purpose, and yet the use of a simple Stabilus eludes you. Most disappointing. Point the Third: to our knowledge, at least two of the Professors in this establishment routinely remove any and all enchantments from all of their pupils' scrolls - especially those belonging to you and your particular associates. Have you considered that the ink from this bottle now constitutes an enchanted object? And, as such... have you something to say, Mr Black?"
Head hung low, the boy volunteered the information that it was, in fact, the bottle that was an enchanted object, and the ink was unaffected by standard removal of charms. Further, he stated that he had checked this thoroughly before using the ink for academic assignments. "I see. Well, at least you have thought a little for once. Point the Last: you attempted to deceive me."
Here, Remus dropped out of character and leaned slightly closer to Sirius. He, distracted by thoughts of grabbing his friend's robe and pulling him further across the table, nearly missed the continuation of the lecture. "The problem there is 'attempted'. Honesty unbefitting a Marauder, Siri. J'accuse."
"But," the guilty one objected, "that's for other people. I don't lie to you, Moony." A small, beatific smile appeared on Remus' face, and he reached out his free hand. Sirius held his breath in anticipation of the touch; then expelled it in indignation as Remus ruffled his carefully combed hair with a strangely affectionate gesture. "Come on, daftie," he said, "time for Potions."
Remus swung out of the library before Sirius had finished scrambling his possessions into his bag, attempting to give himself a little breathing space. He had almost given himself away; the friendly co-operation and game-playing had served to bring down some of his guards, and his treacherous hand had succumbed to the urge to just muss the boy up a little. Absently, he flexed his fingers, enjoying the sense memory of thick clean hair sliding between them and tickling his palm. The bang of one of the library doors brought him out of his reverie to see the object of his contemplation approaching him, attention focussed on the escaping contents of his book bag. Seeing the danger posed by the pupils filtering through the corridors on their way to class, Remus grasped him by the elbow and steered him to the wall.
"What did you go running off like that for, Remus?" the rescuee complained in an aggrieved tone, not needing to look up to confirm the identity of his saviour. "This is your fault, you know. You could have waited for me, like maybe a friend would, but no, can't do that, can't let him get organised like you know he likes to, that would just be awful! And it's not my fault I forgot to put a stupid Stabilus on the thing, I got distracted, and that was your fault too, waltzing through the Common Room with no clothes on so half the girls were swooning on the floor, I don't know..."
Taken aback by this rant, it took Remus several moments to remember the incident in question and attempt a reply. "They were your old jeans that you gave me because you outgrew them, and you and James had hidden everything else while I was in the shower! So it was your fault to start with! And what do you mean, swooning girls? That's your job, not mine." Sirius snorted at him and slung his bag over one shoulder. "Blind, you are. Honestly." He set off striding down the corridor in the wrong direction; and Remus, after a moment of deliberation, followed.
Catching up to Sirius in a little-used passageway, Remus took the opportunity to grab him by the shoulder and turn him to continue their conversation. "What's that supposed to mean?" he challenged. Sirius met his gaze with a defiant gleam in his eye. "Well, for starters, some of them really were impressed when you appeared in those jeans. I never would have given you them if I'd realised just how tight they were." Remus blushed slightly, thinking just how snugly the clothing in question fit – and how pleased he had been when Sirius handed them over and his scent still remained in the cloth. They hadn't been washed since.
"Would you have preferred it if I'd wandered down in a towel?" he asked tartly, folding his arms and leaning one shoulder against the wall. The look that came over Sirius' face indicated that he was actually considering the scenario presented, and he leaned against the wall with a slight grin, mirroring Remus' posture as a prelude to his answer. "I never said I didn’t like the jeans," he teased, tossing a wink to the shorter boy before whirling and continuing down the passage. As he reached the intersection with a larger corridor, he turned and called back to his dumbfounded friend: "Come on, then. Don't want to be late."
Remus hurried to catch up, trying to figure out what was nagging at the edges of his consciousness and thus totally unaware of the vigorous cursing that Sirius was directing at himself in his mind, interspersed though it was with relief that Remus hadn't noticed and his tone had been light enough to pass it off even if he had. "Potions is back that way," Remus pointed out. Sirius grinned again: half-amused, half-sly. "Trust me, Moony," he said, "this is a shortcut. If we take the stairs down at this bit, we don't have to double back and the corridors are more direct, so we get there in half the time."
Remus, glad to be back on familiar ground, gave the other boy an assessing glance. "Of course I trust you, Padfoot," he said, earning a grateful smile that was almost - almost - as happy as the one he had seen in the quiet of that morning, in the privacy of their dorm, when he woke to find his lucky star watching over him like a guardian angel. He shook off his preoccupation to add, "but those stairs don't go down on Tuesdays." Sirius started walking again, slower this time, not entirely certain if he was going the right way. "That's Thursdays," he said, attempting to sound firm. Remus stopped. "Tuesdays," was his succinct response. Sirius stopped as well, staring at his friend. "You sure?" he asked. Remus nodded, a wry smile on his face. "Oh. Bugger," the taller boy swore as his shoulders slumped in defeat. Remus turned to retrace their steps, only to be halted by the sound of a reflective laugh. At his interrogative look, Sirius shrugged and told him, "Good thing today's Wednesday, then." His peals of laughter rang back down the corridor as he darted off, with Remus in hot pursuit.
Breathless with mirth, Sirius flung himself round the final corner and skidded to a halt at the top of the stairs, yodelling his victory into the open space. The sound was abruptly cut off as Remus cannoned into him, almost sending the pair of them tumbling down the stairs. Sirius automatically grabbed the smaller boy to steady him, and found himself struck by a rush of images all prompted by the feeling of the wiry frame pressed against him. Remus - touching him, holding him, kissing him, writhing under his weight as they tore at each other's robes...
Sirius came back to himself with a rush and quickly disentangled himself, putting them at a merely friendly distance. "Watch it!" he chided, "you'll hurt yourself." Remus shrugged, head down and mind working fast as he started down the stairs. His self-reproachment for not even attempting to step away from Sirius was quickly overtaken by wonder at the fact that the other boy's concern had been, not that Remus would hurt someone else (namely him) but that he would hurt himself. Of course, he had done that on a regular basis ever since he had been bitten – though the intensity was less now that he was not alone, another thing that Sirius had done for him. The realisation that this boy whom he quite possibly loved felt such a protectiveness for him, unnecessary though it may be, was a joyful one. He continued to analyse their interaction, and he realised what exactly had been bothering him about their earlier conversation – aside from the implied compliment that ended it.
"What else?" he asked abruptly as they reached the dungeon level. Sirius blinked at the question, coming as it did out of absolutely nowhere, and he asked for clarification. "You said "for starters." So there must be something else." Sirius blinked again, wishing that his friend didn't have to be so pedantic. And trying to think of a convincing lie. "Did I? Don't think so," he said, affecting an air of nonchalance. Remus looked profoundly disappointed, and Sirius felt an unpleasant wrenching in the pit of his stomach. "I thought you didn't lie to me, Sirius," the fairer boy said quietly; and then he shrugged, twisting a false smile onto his face as he asked for directions.
Sirius set off without risking another comment, leading the way to an empty patch of wall and looking expectantly at Remus. He didn't disappoint. "It's a wall," he said, perfectly aware that there had to be more to it, but willing to play along for the sake of actually getting to class on time. Sirius kicked a stone, and a doorway about four feet high appeared. At Remus' look of surprise, he shrugged and bent to enter. His voice echoed behind him as he explained, "Well, the house-elves have to get around somehow. And you know what the corridors are like down here – twisting all over the place. I've found three of these so far – damn good shortcuts. Pun unintentional."
Remus snorted softly, slightly amused, and was glad to find that the wall closing behind him didn't cut off all the illumination in the passage; but the fact that he had a perfect view of Sirius’ behind didn’t help his concentration, and he hit his head off the roof twice in quick succession. "Why aren't they on the Map?" he asked, attempting to distract himself. "Put it on tonight," Sirius suggested. "Dashed lines, maybe, since they’re not full-height. Slows you down." Remus nodded, knowing that the gesture, while unseen, would not go unsensed. He knew that Sirius had nodded in response, and was surprised when he spoke up again.
"The other thing was, well..." Sirius swallowed audibly, glad that he could see nothing of the boy he addressed, then in the next instant realising that he wouldn't know how his words went over until Remus spoke. He continued anyway. "I like you. In... well. Um." He stuttered to a halt, and was absurdly grateful to see the wall at the end of the shortcut appear. He opened it, and stepped forward, straightening without thought when Remus said shakily, "Me too," and only just missing cracking his head open on the stone. He turned so that when Remus emerged he stood directly between Sirius and the wall.
It was suddenly the most obvious thing in the world that Sirius should take one step forward and Remus should take half a step backward so that they were pressed against the cold stone. Their lips met in a gentle, tentative first kiss, quickly followed by another. Remus greatly appreciated the warmth and weight of Sirius leaning into him, but the damp at his back quickly became intolerable and he pushed away. The devastation that flashed across Sirius' face before a guarded mask descended demanded another quick kiss prior to Remus' explanation: "Wall's slimy." Sirius lit up, a wide and joyous smile appearing before he clasped Remus briefly to his side, releasing him with the words, "Eloquent and erudite as always, my dear Professor Lupin." Remus ducked his head to hide his own smile, and looked each way down the corridor with a deliberate air before turning to Sirius with a perfectly composed quizzical expression. He turned left, and waited for Remus to follow suit before setting off.
"We're going to have to make some decisions now, you know," Sirius said quietly, a thoughtful look taking over his face as he gazed fixedly at the floor. Remus looked at him briefly, then prompted him to continue. "Well," he said, "we're together now, yeah?" The underlying insecurity struck at Remus' heart: he stopped Sirius in his tracks in order to gaze into his eyes as he offered affirmation with a word and a kiss. "So," Sirius started walking again once he had recovered his equilibrium, "who do we tell, what do we tell them, how do you feel about kissing in public, so on and so forth." Remus gazed at him with something that was a mixture of horror and admiration. "You know a lot about this," he said warily. Sirius gave him a quick glance, hunching his shoulders a little as he added another item to his list: "Are you going to get pissy about my exes." Nodding slowly, Remus coolly answered, "Only the ones you fucked."
Sirius stopped yet again, looking stricken. Remus took pity on him, and smiled. "I won't get pissy," he promised. "We can talk about the rest before dinner, right?" They rounded the last corner to find a group of classmates gathered outside the classroom, and Sirius nodded briefly, smiling one more private smile before they were greeted by their friends and went back to normal life.
And if a peaceful joy graced each of their faces all through Potions, nobody else could do more than acknowledge the beauty of it.