The Sugar Quill
Author: Honeychurch & Lallybroch (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: The Unknown Want  Chapter: Chapter Two
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The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

 

Chapter Two

Disclaimer: If you really want to pretend that JK wrote this, weíll let you. 

 

Is it indeed toward your mate you sing? or is it really to me?

For I, that was a child, my tongueís use sleeping, now I have heard you,

Now in a moment I know what I am for, I awake,

And already a thousand singers, a thousand songs, clearer, louder and more sorrowful than yours,

A thousand warbling echoes have started to life within me, never to die.

-Walt Whitman, "Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking"

 

The only sound in the flat was the steady thudding of his fingers on the kitchen table. Sirius twitched in his seat, briefly considered doing the dishes, and stared at the kitchen door. Where the hell was Moony? The picnic had ended an hour and a half ago- long enough for Sirius to have dropped off Natalia and come home.  Long enough for him to have changed robes, read the Daily Prophet, and paced the length of the flat several times before settling down in the kitchen to lie in wait for Remus.

The picnic today had been an unqualified disaster from his point of view. Remusí mood from the night before had not abated by this morning, and he barely said a word all day. Which really pissed Sirius off- why couldnít he just get mad and yell like a normal person? Remusí silences were far worse than anyone elseís tantrums. For one thing, they were completely and totally distracting. It was absolutely impossible to concentrate on anything else when Remus was behaving like that. 

Sirius checked his watch for the fourth time in fifteen minutes, sighed, and re-cataloged his numerous woes. Natalia was irritated with him now; she had made that quite clear when he dropped her off at her flat.

"Why did you invite me to the stupid picnic if you werenít planning to talk to me the entire day?" He had to admit she had a point.  But this, also, was all Remusí fault. He wouldnít swim; he wouldnít play Quidditch- he just sat under the same bloody tree all afternoon. What was he supposed to do? Just let Moony sit there like a lump with a dark look on his face? He was trying to be a good friend.  Well, bugger that, because apparently everyone was pissed at him now.

 

He thought about throwing something, but realized heíd just have to clean it up. Where had he put that bottle of Drambuie? 

 

A soft Ďpopí from the living room brought Sirius to his feet.  "Remus?" He tried to keep the annoyance out of his voice.

 

There was a long silence. "Padfoot? I didnít expect you to be home." Remus appeared in the doorway, his face tired.

 

"Where have you been?" The words came out more harshly than heíd intended. It was a demand, not a question.

 

Remus looked taken aback. "What? I was helping clean up after the picnic. What are you doing here? Whereís Natalia?"

 

"Home. Whatís wrong with you?" The words tumbled out of his mouth before he could stop them.

 

"What?" The single word was spoken sharply, and Remusí eyes narrowed.

 

"You know what Iím talking about.  You stormed out of the bar last night, you hardly said two words all day today, and youíreÖ" He stopped. Usually he could feel his way through any situation with Remus. True, his natural composure made it difficult to know what he was thinking. He had enormous reserves of control. But Sirius had known him so long, heíd become good at reading his moods, and heíd never seen him like this.

 "Iím what?" The words were spoken mildly, but they were unmistakably a warning.

 "Youíve completely closed yourself off, and itís a really bad time for that, Moony." All of a sudden, he wanted to see him break. He wanted to see Remus lose that iron control; he wanted to see him. "Five days. Itís less than a week before the Fidelius Charm. And after that, how often will we see them? We wonít, Remus.  Not until this is all over, somehow.  These are our last few days together."

 "You think I donít know that?" Remusí voice was still calm, but there was a dangerous edge to it.

 "Then why did you spend the entire day ignoring all of us? Why wonít you talk to us? What the hell happened yesterday?" Sirius found himself on his feet.

 "Iím tired. Iím too tired for this." Remus ran his hand through his hair. "Iím going to bed."

 "Youíre not leaving." Sirius moved to block the door.  "Not before this conversation is over."

 "This conversation is over."

 "No, itís not."

 "Move aside." Remus closed the small distance between them; they were scant inches away from each other now, eyes locked.  With a faint sense of shock, Sirius realized how easily this could turn into a physical confrontation.

 "No." Angry gold threatened to subsume the cool green in Remusí hazel eyes.  Neither of them seemed to be blinking anymore, Sirius noted. He struggled to draw a breath against the weight on his chest.

 Remus finally broke eye contact. "It doesnít have anything to do with you, Sirius. Itís my own affair."

 "Thatís the problem. Everythingís your own affair."

 

"What are you talking about?"  His tone of voice deflected the intensity of the moment; suddenly it was as if their conversation was no more than a friendly chat about the weather.

Something inside Sirius broke open completely. "Jesus Christ, Moony! How the hell do you do that? I know youíre seriously upset about something. And I know youíre completely hacked off at me right now- Iím standing here blocking you from leaving your own damn kitchen. So talk to me! Yell at me! Donít you need anybody?"

Remusí entire body froze. "Iím not baring my soul to you. That doesnít mean Iíve shut the world out," he said finally.

"Then there is someone privy to the inner workings of Remus Lupin? I find that hard to believe." Siriusís voice was bitter and biting. "Oh, because havenít you heard? Ordinary mortals canít possibly understand him."

For a moment, Sirius thought that Remus was going to hit him. Heíd never seen that look on Moonyís face before.  His familiar face was twisted into a mask of unguarded anger and something elseÖsomething that made his heart pound. Itís the adrenaline, he thought. Itís the charge of actually seeing him break.

"Who the fuck do you think you are?" Remus nearly snarled.  Sirius could feel the heat of Remusí anger enfold him, and he stiffened his pose in the doorway.  "What claim do you think you have on me? Give me one good reason my life should be an open book to you." He pinned Sirius with his eyes.

Sirius opened his mouth, but no words emerged. He didnít know whether it was because he didnít have a good answer, or if it was just impossible to speak with Remus looking at him like that.

"I thought so," Remus growled, and his arm shot out. Sirius found himself on the floor of the kitchen watching Remus slam the door of his bedroom before he knew what had happened. Well, heíd wanted to see him lose control, he thought, his heart hammering against his chest. He picked himself up from the floor shakily. Remus had never used his strength against him before, and God, he was strong.

He wasnít willing to let this end here. Adrenaline was coursing through his body, and he thought it would be worth it to get good and beaten up if meant that Moony would talk to him.

"Moony?" He strode over to Remusí door and pounded on it. "Moony!"

"Get. Away. From. The. Door."

"Please? Please. I know it has something to do with yesterday.  With that werewolf.  I donít know what youíre thinking, Moony, but thatís not you. Itís got nothing to do with you. Iíve never seen you intentionally hurt anyone in my entire life."

There was a long silence, and Sirius leaned against the door to catch any sounds behind it. Finally he heard Remusí voice. He was obviously right up against the other side of the door, but Sirius had to strain to catch the words. "Donít presume to know what Iím capable of, Padfoot. I donít know what Iím capable of."

***

The noise inside the Leaky Cauldron was clamorous, the booths and tables filled to capacity. All except one. Sirius and Natalia sat in a far corner, their table cloaked in uncomfortable silence.  Heíd fled to her house the night before, after his row with Remus.  It hadnít been a very good idea, he could see that now, but at the time heíd been so wound up and restless he hadnít been able to think straight.  And now there was an air of tension between them that seemed to be mounting with each passing moment.  He looked across the table at Natalia, who sat fiddling with the napkin under the drink in front of her. 

"Seems ridiculous to sit here in silence," Sirius offered, in an attempt at conversation. 

She glanced up at him, with a smile that didnít quite reach her eyes. "Yes, I suppose so."

 

"Iím sorry that Iíve been soÖdistracted lately.  Itís just that Iím so concerned about Lily and JamesÖ"

Natalia shook her head quickly. "No, Sirius. Theyíve got a really bad situation right now, and I know you have to help them.  I just wish that when you were with me, youíd be happier about it. It just seems that we never have any time to ourselves." She gave him a searching glance and then spoke, tentatively.  "It seems like, maybe, you donít want to be alone with me."

 

He rolled his eyes and sighed loudly. "Now, that is ridiculous."  The instant he finished speaking, he spotted Remus across the room.  Oh dear Lord.  Heíd forgotten that heíd invited Moony. This was going to require some delicate handling. 

 

"ErÖNatalia? Donít get mad, okay?" Perhaps not the best opening. With a look of dawning comprehension, she scanned the room.  Her face turned thunderous as she spotted Remus.

 

"I donít believe you," she hissed.

 

"Iím sorry, Iím really sorry. Itís just that we had a bit of a row last night. Weíre all rather having a time of it lately, and I thought it would be good if--"

"You had a fight last night?" She interrupted him. "YouÖandÖ.he? Had a fight?" It was as if she was on the verge of solving a difficult Arithmancy problem. "Would this fight have taken place about fifteen minutes before you came over to my flat?" Her voice scaled up, and had Sirius been paying closer attention, he would have caught the outrage.

"Shh, heís almost here. Hey, Moony!" He waved his hand so Remus could locate them in the crowded pub. Okay, so maybe this wasnít such a great idea.  This afternoon, it had seemed like a brilliant tactic. Natalia could be a buffer between he and Remus, and Remusí presence could diffuse the awkwardness of his ill-planned visit to Nataliaís last night.  But from the look on Moonyís face as he spotted Natalia at the table, he might have set himself up for a really uncomfortable situation.

"Have a seat, Moony." His best defense, Sirius decided, was to be completely oblivious to the tension at the table.

"Hello, Natalia." Remusí greeting was pleasant, but his spine was so stiff he resembled a coat-rack.

"Good evening, Remus." She tried to approximate his tone, but there was a noticeable undercurrent of annoyance.

"Iím sorry. I wonít interrupt your eveningóI was just stopping to say hello." He ventured a half-smile.

"What are you talking about? I invited you. Sit down." Both Remus and Natalia shot him looks- Remusí exasperation, Nataliaís incredulity.

"No, thatís fine. You two have a nice evening." Remus nodded at them and turned to go, but Sirius seized his arm and pulled him into the chair.

A very long, very tense silence followed.

"Should we order wine?" attempted Sirius, brightly.

"Look, Iím just going to go." Remus started to rise, but Sirius shot out his hand in protest.

"No! Youíre staying. Weíre all staying."

Natalia gave him a searching look and reached for her bag. "No, Sirius. Weíre not. I can tell when Iím not needed. Iím going home."  Seeing that Remus was hastily rising again, she stopped him, shaking her head as she stepped away from the table. "Goodbye Sirius, Remus." And she turned, striding quickly from the pub. 

Sirius sat back in utter shock.  Somewhere along the line this evening had gone horribly wrong, and he was at a loss to explain why. 

Remus was gesturing frantically toward the door. "Go after her, you daft bastard!"  

Sirius nodded mutely, and bounded toward the door. Stepping out onto the deserted street, he spotted Natalia already halfway down the block.  He raced down the street, shouting after her. "Natalia! Please wait!"

She stopped at the corner, and waited for him to catch up.  The street-lantern burning above her head gave Nataliaís face a fierce intensity.  "I donít really think thereís anything to say, Sirius."

"Nothing to say?" he spluttered. "After all this time thereís nothing to say? Shouldnít we at least talk about this? Please donít do this, not now. "

"Do what? I havenít done anything. Thatís the material point!  I should have done this a long time ago."

"Why?" His brow furrowed as he said angrily, "I donít understand why youíre doing it now!"

Natalia gave him a piercing glance, and then spoke so quietly Sirius had to strain to hear.  "You wonít like what Iím going to say."

"Please, Natalia. Just say something."

Her eyes narrowed. "Fine. Iím just not prepared to be someone elseís stand-in."

He shook his head. "I donít have a clue what youíre talking about."

"Oh, I think you do. Thereís something going on here, and it doesnít have a thing to do with me. Last night proved that."

He grimaced. "Look, I already said I was sorry that I was a littleÖrough. I donít know what else to say."

Natalia smiled sadly. "I wouldnít have minded, Sirius, if it had been about us. But it wasnítÖand it hasnít been for a while. Itís not fair to me, Sirius. And I wonít do it anymore. Goodbye." She paused for a moment and then turned away.  He watched until her dark figure disappeared into the horizon.

Remus was still sitting at the table, looking as nervous as Remus ever looked.  He raised an eyebrow questioningly.  Sirius shook his head, and sat back on his chair with a defeated thud.  Remus quickly leaned forward, a look of concern on his face. 

"Iím sorry, Sirius. Did she tell you why?"  Sirius nodded dispiritedly.

"She said it wasnít about her. That it hadnít been for a while. Iím not sure what I did to make it about me, but thatís what she said." He shrugged. "I guessÖsheís right.  Iíve been so wrapped up in myself, with Lily and James, and I suppose I havenít been very attentive to her." He heaved a great sigh and shook his head. "Iíve been dumped. That fucking sucks."

Remus nodded sympathetically. "Had the two of you talked about a future together? I mean, the other night you were considering marriage and nowÖ" He trailed off. Sirius shrugged and looked away. 

"I never mentioned it to her. I got scared, I suppose. Big step, and all that. Anyway, arenít you the one that said it wasnít a good idea?"

"Hey, I never said that. I said I thought it was sudden, thatís all. Besides, Iím not the one to be asking about things like that." Sirius could tell Remus was getting irritated and he knew he should let the subject drop; they were moving into tender territory here. But he found he couldnít help himself.  During the last few days, heíd been seeing an entirely different side of his friend, and he wanted more.

"Why do you keep saying that, Moony? What is it that makes you unqualified as an advisor? Havenít you ever been in love?" He instantly regretted his words. Remusí eyes narrowed, and Sirius could see that unfathomable something glinting from inside them. And then it was gone, locked away behind Remusí resolve.

"Are you trying to pick a fight, Sirius?" Remus spoke quietly; his precise words a mix of threat and steel.

Sirius shook his head. "No. I donít want to fight anymore. I just want you to talk to me, Remus.  I know that youíreÖ" but Remus cut him off sharply.

"You donít know. You canít."

Sirius knew he was right. There were aspects of Remusí life that he knew he could never fully appreciate, and it tore at him. "Okay, fine.  I donít know. But you could help me to understand, couldnít you?"

Remus folded his arms as Sirius gazed at him imploringly. "Please, Moony."

"Werewolves mate for life. Did you know that? Do you know what that means?"

Sirius leaned forward, his startled brain racing. He spoke slowly and deliberately. "You meanÖif youÖitísÖ"

Remus laughed mirthlessly. "Yes, Sirius. Thatís exactly what it means." Sirius sat back, and hoped that he didnít look as incredulous as he felt. He could feel Remus watching him. 

"Okay, Moony. Iíll admit it. That is not what I thought you were going to say." He shook his head, laughing, unable to stop the goofy grin that was spreading over his face. Thankfully, Remus was laughing as well, and Sirius could feel some of the tension between them dissipating.

"Arenít you glad you asked?"

Sirius nodded, still laughing. "So, now what? Any other deep, dark secrets youíd care to share tonight?"

Something flickered again in his bottomless hazel eyes, but Remus smiled, and shook his head. Raising his hand, he signaled the bartender. Remus grinned broadly at the inquiring look Sirius gave him.  "Only one thing left to do, mate. Drink heavily in an attempt to forget what a lousy prick you are."

***

If Sirius drank any more, he really would forget who he was.  He was having a hard enough time staying in his chair.  He opened his eyes widely in an attempt to clear the blur, and succeeded enough to see Remus leaning forward, his elbows resting haphazardly on the table. Remus raised his head, and peered at Sirius through the one eye he was able to keep open.

"I think that last whisky shot was the bad one, Siriusss." He snickered. "Siriusss. You have a silly name. So many sísss. Makes me sound drunk."

Sirius chortled loudly. "You are drunk, you prat. Youíre very, very drunk." He tried to point an admonishing finger at his inebriated friend, but found that he was suddenly unable to focus his eyes on just one Remus. "Stop moving around, Moony! Iím trying to point at you!"

Remus giggled. "Iím not moving! Iím sitting. Iím sitting very still. Youíre the drunk one. You canít even point!"

"I think youíre both fairly gone, gents. Time to pack it in." Both Remus and Sirius turned drunkenly toward Tom the bartender who was standing over them, both hands on his hips in a position of fatherly concern.

Sirius looked from Tom, to Remus, and back to Tom in confusion. "Weíre not gone, Tom! Weíre right here!" Tom shook his head, and offered both hands to the drunken men. He pulled them up with the familiarity of a man whoís seen lifetime of similar sights, and pushed them toward the stairs.

"Neither of you are going home tonight. Room 3ís open. I wonít take the chance of you to gits trying to Apparate and getting yourselves splinched."

Remus stopped and grabbed Siriusís arm as he stumbled. He turned back to Tom. "Youíre just the nicest man, Tom."

Tom grinned, and shook his head. "Get along with you upstairs, now. Thereís water on the nightstand. Take my advice and drink some. "

They stumbled toward the open staircase. Sirius wrapped his arm around Remusí waist. "I have to hold you up. Youíll fall down if I donít!" He exclaimed in response to the look Remus gave him. Remus laughed as Sirius tripped over the front step. He looped his arm around Siriusí back and half-carried him up the stairs.  He kicked open the door to Room 3 and dropped Sirius inside the darkened room. 

"Ouch, Moony. That hurt." He pouted at Remus and rubbed the sore spot on his bum. He could hear Remus stumbling around the darkened room, cracking into furniture and swearing. 

"I canít find the bloody-ow-sodding-ouch!-light. Whatís this? Oh, itís the bed." A soft thud came from the direction of the bed, as Remus dropped onto it. "Screw the light anyway. Too much work."

It was suddenly very apparent to Sirius that water was an immediate necessity. "Moony?" His voice wavered. "Can I have the water?" He heard Remus rolling off the bed, and fumbling along the nightstand. "Canít see a bloody thingÖoh, hereÖ" Remus made his way along the floor, and approached Siriusí prone form.  He thrust the goblet into Siriusí waiting hand. "Water!"

Clumsily, Sirius drank from the goblet, spilling most of the contents down the length of his robes. "Oh. IÖspilled. Look!" He grabbed for Remusí arm. 

"Itís dark! I canít see. Oh. Right."  Remus fumbled in his robes, finally pulling his wand from his pocket. "Whatís the spell for Lumos?" The wandís tip sparked, startling Remus and illuminating Sirius and his sodden robes. 

Sirius gave him a look of utter agony. "Oh, Moony! Iím all wet," he moaned. 

"Take your robe off, then!"

"No!" Sirius moaned again. "Iíll be practically starkers. And you wonít. Itíll be like that bad dream where Iím back at Hogwarts, standing in the Great Hall, and I look down and see that Iím completely starkers and everyoneís staring at me. And thatís not even the worst part. I see Snape and heísÖ"

Remus cut him off quickly, shuddering. "Fine! Iíll take my robes off too. Anything to make you stop telling that story!"

The dim light of the wand flickered as the two fumbled with their robes. Finally discarding the garments, Remus led the way toward the bed.  They clambered up onto the soft bed, discovering that it was quite a snug fit for two grown men. But personal space didnít seem too crucial an issue to Sirius at the moment. He flopped down haphazardly, moving only when Remus nudged or pushed him out of the middle.

They lay in silence for a moment. Sirius found he was oddly comforted by the solid heat of Remusí body next to his.  He breathed in pine and musk, a scent distinctly Remus, and found he was comforted by that as well. 

"Moony?"

"Mm-hmm?" Remus answered groggily.

"Youíre very strong, arenít you. I forget sometimesÖthat youíre so strong." The words came unbidden from his mouth. His drunken state had obviously loosened his tongue.

"Yes. Iím very, very strong. Iím also very, very drunk."

Sirius giggled. God. He was drunk. "Because you donít look as strong as you are," he continued. "And then you surprise me." His addled brain was swirling with vague thoughts and actions, but one idea was coming through crystal clear.

 He wanted to touch Remus.

With the certainty of the very drunk, Sirius reached out a wavering hand until it came in contact with Remusí forearm. It was solid and sinewy, covered with a layer of soft hair.  Unconsciously, his fingers stroked upwards, sliding along Remusí arm, along the powerful bicep.  It was the strangest thing, to feel the steely musculature of Remusí body. It was all angles and curves, covered with hair, so unlike anything Sirius had ever known. Dimly, he became aware of his desire to touch more. He paused briefly at the sculpted shoulder, waiting for Remus to stop him, but he made no sound.  Encouraged, he trailed his fingers down Remusí sternum.  He heard a sharp intake of breath as his fingers traveled along Remusí hard stomach, and he splayed his hand full out across the rigid plane. Something tightened inside his chest, as he felt Remus tensing beneath him. Tentatively, his fingers brushed against the pattern of hair just beneath his navel. Suddenly, Sirius felt a strong grip encircle his wrist. He slowly exhaled. "Sorry. IÖumÖ"

Remus cut him off, dropping his hand back by his side. "Itís okay. Letís just go to sleep, alright?"

"Yeah. Thatís a good idea."  Sirius lay quietly, trying to make sense of what had just happened. He felt so oddÖsoÖhe couldnít put his finger on it. Not like heíd put his fingers on Remus. Which had been nice. Which wasÖoddÖreallyÖbecauseÖhe drifted off to sleep.

 

Authorís Notes: This particular installment is dedicated to Honeychurch's potential hedgehog that will not be named Seamifer, and to Signy, the werewolf girl, who has the potential to be the cheesiest character ever created in the history of fan fiction-which is saying a lot.

To be continued...

//
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