Author: eca celliStory: Most Valuable Chapter: Default
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Remus listened to the springs creak as he sunk into the
dilapidated old couch, staring at the flames licking their
Remus listened to the springs creak as he sunk into the dilapidated old couch,
staring at the flames licking their merry time away in the hearth. It wasn’t
the common room, but it would have to do.
squeezed the mug of butterbeer in his hand unconsciously. It was so strange,
being out of Hogwarts. He’d never realized how much he would miss it—the sounds
of quills scraping on parchment, the musty smell of books, the raucous laughter
of students pounding in and out of the portrait hole. He liked the clamor of
the school, the rush of the students bustling from class to class. He liked the
power of ten thousand tomes at his fingertips, even with Madam Pince’s annoying
tendency to snip at the slightest sound.
The hardest part to get used to was sleeping in a room alone. It was odd not
hearing the steady breathing of three other boys in their respective beds,
weird to think that if he spoke out into the night no groggy voice would moan
an answer. Honestly, Remus didn’t particularly like sleeping in a room alone.
It was too lonely, after all those years of sharing a dormitory with his three
best friends. It was probably the reason he chose to stay up so late now,
talking to Sirius in their pathetic little flat here trying to pretend their shabby
living room was in any way similar to the Gryffindor common room.
Sirius plopped into the armchair across from him amid a cloud of dust. “Do you
want more butterbeer or tea or something? I’m really thirsty,” he declared,
folding his hands behind his head and reclining, apparently having never had
the intention of actually retrieving the drinks.
Remus shook his head. “Sirius, where did you get this furniture again?”
“My uncle Alphard. Why?” Sirius answered, carelessly picking at a tattered
corner of the upholstery.
“And you didn’t take the time to clean it at all?” Remus said, waving the dust
away from his face.
“Dust never hurt anyone,” Sirius shrugged.
“Yes, Sirius, dust never hurt anyone except those with serious allergies and
countless other conditions, including a highly sensitive sense of smell.”
Sirius raised his eyebrows. “You want me to clean the furniture, then?”
“No, not really. It’s not that urgent,” Remus answered, getting up and
refilling his mug of butterbeer on his own.
Sirius rolled his eyes at him as he walked away. Moony was so confusing half
the time. He’d act like he was going to scold Sirius about something then, at
the last minute, recant all his complaints and act like nothing happened. For
being a man who lived his life by patterns, Remus was the most unpredictable
person Sirius knew. Remus’ routines absolutely bewildered him.
instance, now Remus was going to walk into the kitchen, turn on the sink and
rinse out his mug for some inexplicable reason. Why? In Sirius’ mind there was
no good explanation for rinsing out one’s mug when it was just going to get
used again anyway. It drove him up the wall. There! Sirius could hear the
faucet running now. Yes, and now he could hear a drawer opening and Remus
retrieving a towel and then the fridge creaking open and finally the sound of
pouring liquid. It was daft. Completely mad.
emerged from the kitchen, his mug in his hand again. “We should really clean up
around here,” he said, pushing a pile of magazines over to make room for his
mug on the coffee table as he sat down again.
is in the eye of the beholder,” Sirius prattled. “The flat’s fine the way it is.”
He reached for his empty mug and frowned at it.
believe that’s ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder,’” Remus corrected. “And
before you go complaining about my not bringing you a drink, I’d like to point
out that you didn’t bring me one so we’re perfectly even.”
shook his head and heaved himself out of the chair. “You’re so strange.”
blinked innocently at him. “That’s rather rich coming from you.”
theory, Remus had lived with Sirius for going on eight years but up until this
point, all of those years had been tempered by the company of other,
comparatively normal, roommates (if one could call James and Peter normal,
which was a stretch in itself). But the point was, no matter how much Remus
loved Sirius; it was only possible to take him in small doses. Of course,
everyone had their peculiarities. Remus knew this—he himself had his fair
share. But, dear God, Sirius was a nutcase.
hummed far too much. Remus doubted that Sirius was even aware he was doing it,
but he was constantly humming and, if he wasn’t doing this, he was muttering to
himself. Even now, he was humming some tuneless melody while he dithered away
in the kitchen. It drove Remus insane—could the man never be silent? Could he
never, for even a second, let there be peace?! Sirius filled every waking
moment with some sort of movement, some sort of sound, some sort of pointless
action and Remus found it absolutely annoying.
wouldn’t find Sirius’ nervous energy so off-putting if not for the fact that he
never did anything of use. It was one thing to be a naturally active person,
always looking for the next entertainment, the next amusing shiny object; but
it was quite another to never use that same boundless energy for the benefit of
others—like washing the dishes, for example, or making the bed or cleaning the
damn dusty couches.
sounds emanated from the kitchen and Remus was positive that Sirius was
rummaging through the cupboards, expelling all kinds of things that would never
be put back in their proper place until Remus finally became bothered enough to
do it himself months later.
you making all that racket for?” Remus yelled.
The kitchen door banged open and Sirius’ head poked out. “You’ve been keeping
secrets from me.”
Remus laughed. “I told you not to go through my underwear drawer.”
“No, no, you’ve been keeping secrets from me. I can tell because you’ve hid it
in the cleaning cupboard where you thought I’d never find it, but you were
wrong because I have. Sirius Black has discovered your stash! He has unearthed
your deep dark secret!”
“Pray tell, what exactly were you doing in the cleaning cupboard?” asked Remus,
“Actually, I was looking for the whiskey. A while back I got a bit pissed and
hid it somewhere where there was Mrs. Skower's Cleaning... whatsit. Didn’t
really know we even had a cleaning cupboard until then—all I remember was that
the place reeked of alcohol. Gave me a terrible headache.”
“Are you sure it wasn’t you that reeked of the alcohol and not the cupboard?”
Sirius glared. “That’s beside the point.”
“What is the point then?” Remus smirked.
Sirius emerged from the kitchen, clutching his butterbeer mug and hiding one
hand behind his back. “The point is that while I was searching for some good
hard liquor to liven up this party, I stumbled upon your secret stash…” he
hovered above Remus now, his hand still tucked behind his back like he was
about to reveal some incredibly cheesy magic trick, “of chocolate,” Sirius
finished, exposing a large hunk of dark brown delicacy, perched precariously on
his fingertips with a flourish as if it was some sort of precious jewel…which
it was, as far as Remus was concerned.
were few things that Remus could afford to indulge himself in after all his
expenses, but the most valuable commodity he routinely invested in was
invariably chocolate. Other people had drugs, cigarettes, and alcohol but Remus
had chocolate. It solved all his problems. When the mental and physical
injuries of his horrific monthly transformations and hectic daily life weighed
down on him, Remus turned to chocolate. There was nothing quite like that warm,
sweet, ethereal taste to calm ragged nerves and Remus knew this better than
anyone. In a world of chaos, chocolate was what kept Remus reasonably
“Sirius,” Remus began, as if speaking to a very small, very stupid child, his
eye trained on the treasure, “you’re not supposed to get into that. It’s very
valuable and very mine.”
opened his mouth to reply and, in one fluid movement, Remus made to snatch the
chocolate out of his hands but Sirius had anticipated him. “Ha! You can’t get
it that easily!” But even Sirius’ fingers were too clumsy that moment and with
an ominous “flugg” Remus felt his mug of butterbeer suddenly grow much heavier.
not getting it.”
was…the last of….my chocolate,” Remus whimpered. His idiot of a friend…damn… “Sirius!”
black haired comrade shrugged, falling back in his dusty armchair. “I didn’t
never said you meant to. It doesn’t
matter if you meantto or not, my chocolate is all gone and
it’s because of you!” Remus ranted, burying his nose in his mug. The warm butterbeer
was starting to melt the hunk of chocolate; murky clouds of dark brown
emanating from the bottom of the glass. Poor chocolate.
can fish it out if you want.”
be soggy,” Remus sighed.
leaned back in the armchair, causing another small poof of dust to fly up into
the air. Remus would file this cloud of dust in his memory, Sirius knew, to
bring up at another point in time but he wouldn’t say anything about it now.
Remus dealt with one transgression at a time, it was his idea of fair play but,
regardless, months and months from now he would spring a list of misdeeds on
Sirius in order to guilt him into submission for some purpose or another.
Honestly, Sirius didn’t mean to mess up so often. He really hadn’t meant to
drop that precious piece of chocolate in Remus’ butterbeer—he knew how much
Remus loved his sweets. He had only meant to negotiate a small piece for
Sirius thought, watching Remus gazing, melancholy, into his mug, there were
opportunities in the most unexpected situations. He almost giggled out loud at
the idea that dawned on him. Just like the old days… “Well, it’s not all a
loss,” Sirius declared.
looked up incredulously. “What’re you on about?”
devilish smile spread across Sirius’ fine features and Remus felt a wave of
foreboding. “Haven’t you ever studied Potions, my dear Remus?” At his
companion’s humorless stare, he continued undeterred, “It’s simple science. The
chocolate and butterbeer have undergone a physical change—the chocolate has
been added to the butterbeer—but that does by no means mean that the chocolate
no longer exists. It has been mixed into the butterbeer. In order to experience
the beauty that is the chocolate, all you must do is drink the
cringed, flinging himself into the back of the couch, holding his glass
on, Remus! Drink it! I dare you!” Sirius exclaimed, sitting more alertly now,
abandoning his quasi-scientific manner to sound like the easily excitable
overgrown schoolboy that he was.
grimaced into his mug, “That’s absolutely revolting.”
“Come on!” Sirius hissed, “Drink it. We’ve got
nothing better to do. It’ll be an experiment! Do it in the name of academic
pathetic,” Remus tried but he was already beginning to crack despite himself.
For some reason, and Remus didn’t really care to analyze it, he couldn’t ever
remain angry at his friends for any extended period of time. More than anyone
else, they knew how to make him cave, Sirius especially. No matter what
the transgression, his saucy, rude, uncouth, incredibly clever and terribly
funny friend could charm his way back onto Remus’ good side. He often tried to
resist but found a long time ago that it was futile.
then, do it for the chocolate,” Sirius smirked, confident that Remus wouldn’t
be truly put out with him if he nudged him a bit further. If truth be known,
Sirius lived for moments like these when his playful teasing and immature games
pushed Remus a bit outside of his routine, made him abandon his well
established patterns because he loved seeing Remus bothered, loved seeing him
crawl out of his shell, show some kind of raw emotion. It made a person more
human, Sirius reasoned, if one could make them fidget.
stared into the mug for a while. All that chocolate, beautiful, delightful,
wonderful chocolate and all of it gone to waste. It couldn’t taste that bad,
could it? Butterbeer and chocolate…someone had to try it. God, he was such a
softy. He laughed, “You know how my mind works.”
grinned. “Only after years of practice.”
right, I’m going to try it but I’m warning you: if I sick it up, I’m aiming in
make sure to duck.”
know, this is unbelievably childish,” Remus said, raising the mug to his lips
it, you wimp.”
Butterbeer and chocolate, it turned out, were two flavors that were never meant
to blend. Any virtue the one held independent of the other was lost—it tasted
horrible. The previously smooth, warm taste of the butterbeer was now ruined by
the grit of un-dissolved chocolate, greasy and lumpy. It was revolting, the way
it stuck in his throat. It was absolutely disgusting, but Remus had been
challenged and he was determined to meet that challenge. He felt himself
grimace as he gulped it down. The butterbeer was starting to dribble down his
chin...only one more swallow. His eyelid started to twitch.
Sirius watched Remus frown, watched him cringe and fidget as he forced down the
butterbeer. He had always loved to see Remus show emotion—any kind of emotion.
It was like a traveler coming home from abroad and hearing his native language
for the first time—it doesn’t matter what’s said, as long as he understands.
And Sirius understood Remus’ grimaces more than he had ever understood his
silence. Gulping down the butterbeer, Remus’ eyelid twitching--for some reason,
Sirius found the scene absolutely hilarious. He started to giggle.
“Oi!” Remus sputtered, spitting and retching. “Ew, that stuff’s disgusting.” He
threw down the mug, glaring at it and a giggling Sirius in turns. “I suppose
you find my misery humorous?”
“You have a bit of dribble on your lip there,” Sirius laughed.
Remus swiped his hand across his face. “You know what this means, don’t you?”
“It means,” Remus leaned forward in his seat, “that you’ll have to buy me
Sirius stopped giggling. It had only been a joke, but something about the way
Remus had said it struck a strange chord, reminding Sirius of something that
had been there for a long time. He felt odd, all of a sudden.
“Because I love chocolate,” Remus continued, “and now it’s all in the bottom of
my mug…” but he couldn’t speak anymore. Sirius had kissed him.
It wasn’t a passionate kiss and it wasn’t a motherly peck. It was somewhere in
that gray in between, lips pressed against lips in a solid, quick embrace. But
it was definitely a kiss. It was over all too fast.
Damn it, damn it, damn it. Sirius wished he wasn’t so impulsive, so reckless,
so God damn bloody stupid. Should he run? Should he act like nothing happened?
Should he say something?
“I um…I-I uh…I should go…rinse this mug out,” Remus stammered suddenly,
stumbling out of the room. Sirius considered telling him that the kitchen was
in the opposite direction but somehow he suspected that had never really been
The mug mocked him.
Sitting on his wardrobe, it stared unseeingly at him, insensitive to his
turmoil, a mocking memorial to that… incident.
Remus couldn’t say that he was angry because he wasn’t. Sirius did stupid
things and he’d forgive him because he always forgave him. He was more shocked.
Shocked that even Sirius would do something so incredibly reckless, shocked
that he would toy with emotions like that, shocked that he had been kissed by
his best mate in the world and he wasn’t angry about it. He was confused.
It hadn’t been a romantic kiss, but it hadn’t been familial either. It had been
the kind of kiss old couples gave each other after fifty years of marriage and
two grown children. And that was confusing. Remus really couldn’t believe
it…there had to be an explanation. Maybe it hadn’t been what he thought it was
at all. Maybe he was making an idiot of himself. Maybe this was a trap set up
by James and Sirius and they were lurking in the background now waiting to jump
out and laugh at him. And maybe Sirius had just been kidding and Remus was
supposed to laugh but instead he had ruined a good joke, made it awkward and
possibly ended the best friendship he’d ever had in his life. Maybe Sirius had
just been drunk. Or maybe…Britain
was in Europe. European men kissed, right? It was
normal, right? Right? Who was Remus kidding—they weren’t European, they were
British. And British men definitely did not go around kissing their mates.
He and Sirius had always had a different kind of relationship. Where James and
Sirius had always been brothers from the start, inseparable best friends of the
same heart, Remus and Sirius had always been opposites—opposites who shared a
similar sense of humor, a similar sense of fun and a similar set of values.
Remus had to admit, their relationship hadn’t been without tension. Sirius
annoyed the hell out of him. But it was those same annoying characteristics
that he also found fascinatingly endearing. They had been friends for eight
years now and Remus couldn’t help but recall an old Muggle saying now—opposites
He was disturbed. He should just stop thinking about it. Right.
Remus clambered into bed, pulling cold covers up around him, nestling himself
between one dusty book and another, both left on his bed long ago from some
late night reading excursion. He missed Hogwarts at night. He missed the
fortress of library books he would pile around his four poster and Madam
Pince’s pride when he returned every single one of them back in mint condition.
He missed the dark red hangings of his four poster. He missed the comforting
sounds of the common room. He missed being able to speak out into the night and
hear an answer.
smiled drowsily, caught in that limbo between sleep and wakefulness. James was
whispering in the middle of the night, Peter was snoring and somewhere in the
vicinity he could hear Sirius’ soft footfalls as he went about his mischief. Just like it always was.
Remus remembered one night when Sirius, covered in darkness, had tripped over
one of Remus’ books and sent the whole wall crashing down, along with himself,
onto Remus’ bed. It had been awkward but then, it was Sirius. Sirius. His face
was looming above Remus suddenly, unbearably close and then he was kissing him
and… Remus’ eyes flew open.
wouldn’t catch any sleep tonight. The silence was ill fitting to him. His
thoughts swarmed about him, attacking him from all angles. He tried not to
think about it, tried to find something else to dwell on but everything led
back to James and Peter and…Sirius. The light of the waning moon shone palely
on his bedroom wall and visions of a stag, a rat and a dog glowed before him.
Remus stared at the ceiling. Right now, he needed to hear the steady breathing
of his friends in the night, needed to know they were sleeping soundly
somewhere in the dark near beyond. He needed that sense of normalcy. And, most
of all, he needed their secure friendship. Remus valued nothing more.
The mug mocked him.
The couch was miraculously free of dust when Remus shuffled out of his bedroom
that morning, though its occupant looked a bit worse for the wear. Sirius was
curled into himself, his clothes bedraggled and his black hair looking
uncharacteristically like James’ as he slept on that old, ratty sofa. The
embers of the fire were dying and their lack of warmth reflected in the
features of a sleeping Sirius. And Remus recognized it for what it was—peace
offering. Sirius had been wracked by anxiety too last night; their worry had
been mutual. Everything might turn out all right yet. Normally, Remus
would have shoved Sirius awake on finding him like this but somehow that seemed
inappropriate now. He shuffled his way into the kitchen.
Remus liked routine. He liked dependability. And he tried to reflect those
values in his actions. Every morning, he’d shuffle out of the bedroom and into
the kitchen and every morning he would blindly scavenge for the tea pot and
every morning he would drowsily fill it up and set it on the stove until its
shrill whistle pulled him out of his stupor. And this morning, he did the same.
Except when he went to pour the water into the rusty old tea pot, he found a
package in the sink. A package from Honeydukes. A package of Honeydukes’ best
chocolate. Another peace offering.
The kitchen door creaked open and Sirius slipped in with the Daily Prophet,
shuffled over to the cupboard to retrieve a tea cup and plopped down at the
table, waiting for Remus to pour him his tea like he did every morning.
thing about Sirius was that he was unpredictable. And Remus expected this. But
whenever he anticipated some reckless, stupid or crazy action from his maniac
of a friend, Sirius would go and do the unexpected—he’d act normal. And for all
his appreciation of routine and dependability, Remus liked this spontaneity. It
confused him, it annoyed him but it also made him feel alive.
watched in awe as Sirius rustled the paper open. Black eyes flicked upward to
meet his gaze. “I bought you chocolate,” Sirius rasped, his voice not yet
accustomed to consciousness.
Remus nodded. “I know.”
It was almost normal between them--something feeling old, familiar and
comfortable—that morning in the kitchen. There was nothing Remus valued more.
A/N: I love Remus and Sirius and I believe they love each
other. Please review, I appreciate feedback greatly.
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