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Title: What Remus Wants 
Author: [info]alfirin_kirinki 
Beta[info]ashe_frost
Fandom Harry Potter
Rating: PG-13
Summary: PREQUEL to 'A Guide to Happiness' - after a little bit of a cock-up in potions, Sirius finds out a few things about Remus - like just how much he loves chocolate cake...
Author Notes: Originally posted some time in 2002. Thanks, as usual, the lovely Ashe, and also to Hannah, who set the challenge in the first place.
Can be read as a standalone, but would spoil the prequel, 'A Guide to Happiness' if it was.


What Remus Wants

"Everybody knows I adore you, everybody knows I live for you, everybody knows that it's true - except you..." The Divine Comedy



Sirius watched Remus carefully mouth the measurements of stickleback fin and willow root to himself as he tipped them into the cauldron they were sharing. Ordinarily, Sirius would have been sharing with James and Remus with Peter, but since James had started going out with Lily - the Florence Nightingale of the Gryffindor Tower (more like the Ghengis Khan, in Sirius's opinion) - the silly speccy git had been pairing up with her in all their lessons. Subsequently, Sirius had turned to Remus as a partner because little Peter, who had been so meek and ready to jump when they clicked back in their first year, now actually had a will of his own and a crush on Thora Blod. Sirius wouldn't have minded, he really wouldn't, except Remus was thoroughly useless at Potions. Even Peter was better at Potions than Remus was, and that was saying something. Thus, Sirius was left with the responsibility of watching Remus to make sure he wasn't doing something stupid (like dicing, not grating the toad tongue and then adding it before the quail egg), as well as keeping up with his own share of work. Since they'd been working together Remus's incompetence had become notably worse. Sirius was sure someone, somewhere, had it in for him. Someone more influential than Snape.

Sirius shook his head as Remus clearly gave himself a small, smug grin of pleasure that the cauldron hadn't exploded in a shower of violently purple ooze that left half of the class sprouting cheerful summer blooms at various points about their person. No, because that was last lesson. This lesson they were making a strange hybrid of Verita Serum and Telepathum lotion. The name was so strange that, by sheer twisted irony, only the literary-minded but alchemically inept boy beside him had been able to pronounce it.

In fact, Sirius was growing so engrossed in his self-pity at having to work with Remus that he completely missed the moment that the sandy-haired boy tossed his shredded lemon grass into the cauldron. All of it. The specified quantity had been an eighth at that point, with a quarter when it had turned canary yellow. By the time Sirius did notice, it was far too late.

"Remus," he began apprehensively, gazing at his empty chopping board, "you remember that green stuff? The lemon grass?"

"Yes."

"Where is it?"

"In there," Remus told him, gesturing to the cauldron, "I added the four ounces of fins, the peeled root and then-"

"The lemon grass..."

"Yep."

"Oh." Sirius winced and ventured a look into the cauldron. The substance inside was vivid pink. "We, er... we weren't supposed to use that until-"

BOOOOOOM!!

All hell broke loose. Other students screamed and fled to the back of the room, Remus leapt backwards in shock, tripped and smacked his head on a nearby stool. Sirius slowly straightened and raised his hand, he was completely dripping in shocking fuschia potion.. "Sir, can I have a cloth please?"

He looked down at the other boy, still laying flat out on the flagstones and reached out his hand, "Come on, goldfish brain, up you get," he tutted.

"Sorry..." he mumbled, rubbing the lump on the back of his head, gingerly. Professor Scales approached with a towel and stared at the mess with disapproval.

"Congratulations Mr Lupin, Mr Black. This is the second time in as many lessons that you have been able to coat the ceiling with you coursework. You will remain after the lesson and -"

"But Sir - it's the last day before the holidays!" Sirius complained. "You wouldn't give us detention now!"

"Oh I would, Sirius, indeed I would," the withered old man smiled.

"Bollocks," Remus's voice muttered. Sirius gaped at him. Never, ever, ever did Remus swear. He blinked and began to wipe the potion from his face. Apparently, the professor hadn't heard.

"The rest of you may return to your cauldrons," the old man called, beckoning them back to their desks. Reluctantly, they returned - obviously having hoped they would be sent back to their houses.

"I am such a moron!" Remus murmured beside him, "He's going to think I'm such an idiot... "

"Don't mind that old bugger," Sirius whispered back, "we'll get this lot cleared up by the end of class anyway."

Remus glanced at him and nodded, blushing a pleasant shade of pink. He ducked his chin in to his chest. "I wish, just for once, I could get something right in this subject. I'm fine everywhere else..."

"Don't worry about it so much and you'll do fine. It's because you think too hard - you distract yourself."

"You distract me..."

"Oi, it's not my fault! I spend half the class making sure you're getting it bloody right!"

"I know it's not, Padfoot - I didn't say it was," Remus replied, looking at him strangely. "I know I'm absolutely appalling at potions, there's no need to remind me."

"Well don't accuse me of distracting you, then, you cheeky git!"

"But... but I didn't," Remus told him uneasily.

Sirius merely cocked an eyebrow and continued to clean the desk. Remus gave a mournful sigh beside him.

"I wish I was as naturally brilliant as you. What's the use in being able to pronounce the names of potions I can't even make? It's embarrassing!"

"You just need to concentrate. Learn to concentrate instead of wandering off into that little world you've got in your head and you'll be fine. Do you have a mortgage on that, by the way? The amount of time you spend lost in it, it must be bigger than the entirety of the Royal Estate!"

Remus frowned at him with disapproval, "Pillock."

Sirius blinked, He said that without opening his mouth! he thought.

"I can't help it if I find potions boring, Siri," Remus was telling him, "It's just not something I'm at all interested in."

Sirius was about to warn him that he had better learn to be interested when the other boy added, "There are some things I'm far more interested in..." - again without moving his mouth. It suddenly clicked what was going on; by some horrible fluke, Remus's potion had worked - and Sirius, of course, had been thoroughly coated in it. He smirked to himself. This would be interesting.

Back in the common room after dinner (Sirius had been right - they had cleared it all rather quickly), Sirius was listening to Remus's unspoken insecurities about whether his newly-transfigured name plaque was shiny enough for an "A+" and if there would be chocolate cake for tea. I was a well documented fact that Remus didn't like chocolate cake. He suffered from a near-physical dependency on its existence. It was his one genuine culinary weakness. (Although, to look at him you'd have thought he lived on carrot sticks.)

Suddenly, Sirius found himself under the weight of the other boy's gaze. He looked up and caught his eye, poking his tongue out at him, childishly. "Ohhh... God I wish he wouldn't do that! He's so-" Sirius didn't catch the rest because James flopped down into the seat beside him yapping on about Quidditch practise after Christmas. He was taking Lily home to meet his parents over the holidays. Sirius shuddered. Peter was going home, too - something about a grandparent's birthday, which had interestingly be sprung on him in the past two days. Didn't they know the old dear's birthday was then? he wondered idly, his eyes wandering back to Remus again. It's just you and me, kid, he smirked. He was strangely looking forward to it. It was rare for them to spend much time alone together, and provided he didn't let Remus anywhere near a cauldron for the duration of the holidays they'd be fine.

James got up and wandered off to find Lily. Sirius merrily returned his attention to Remus, awaiting the next bizarre thought to escape from his mind. It had been quite entertaining, if not a little surreal, so far. Aside from the concerns about his homework and dinner, Remus had spent over half an hour contemplating the finer points of why he had been given a nine-inch, willow and centaur tail hair wand. Some of his theories had seemed relatively logical - others would have had Mr Ollivander put out of business. Now, though, Sirius had gatecrashed an altogether different train of thought.

"...n't as if it matters. You're hardly Clark Gable anyway... all that would happen is that you would open your mouth, nothing would come out and then you'd look like even more of a fruitcake. I do hope we have chocolate cake, later... I can't stand any more minced pies. I think I'd rather drink the contents of my cauldron than eat another minced pie and Christmas is still a week away! Oh well... at least I'll get to be alone with him..." a wry smile stretched over the other boy's face and he gave a small sigh, "...mind you, with all that mistletoe they've put up I won't see him at all because every girl left here will be trying to catch him under it!"

Sirius grinned to himself. Remus was obviously talking about him. He was right, too. The decorations had only been up for twelve hours and he's been caught in the corridor by bold girls brandishing seasonal flora six times already. Including a blonde girl from Slytherin who he had been reluctant to admit was actually rather cute. Sirius cringed. A cute Slytherin! Since when was that possible? He allowed himself a surreptitious glance at the other boy, having decided that staring at him would prompt suspicion at the very least. They'd been trying to orchestrate getting him under the mistletoe with someone all afternoon and failed dismally. Sirius had found, though, that the closer they got to achieving their goal, the less he wanted to succeed.Don't be daft about it, you bloody idiot. You can't hoard the female population of the school!


Meanwhile, Remus's thoughts had proceeded to a point at which Sirius had completely lost track. "...utter humiliation and you'd never look him - or anyone else - in the eye again until your dying day! It isn't as if you have any suggestion he wouldn't throttle you for it... What's worse, being his friend or having him hate you?"

Sirius cast him another glance. He surely wasn't still on the same subject, so whose friendship did he think he'd lose? And why?

"...uch beautiful eyes, though... such nice hair... I wonder how James would take it...?"

Oh fuck! Sirius thought, suddenly, Remus's got a crush on Lily!

"...not like me, though. Far too good for me, even if he were like that. Which he's not. I think I would have noticed by now if he was... certainly been looking hard enough..."


Sirius shifted uncomfortably in his seat. This did not bode well. It took him several moments to actually realise that Remus was, in fact, using the word 'he'. He frowned and scratched his cheek absently. He? What's the bloody hell's he-

"Look at him, just sitting there! Not a clue. Absolutely no idea... or maybe it's a case of no interest... It would have to be me, wouldn't it? And him. Brings a whole new meaning to beauty and the beast, at any rate..."


Sirius almost opened his mouth to argue that Remus was not a beast and was not to think of himself as such. He promptly closed it at the spectral sound of a knut dropping - clink-plink - inside his head. He means me! Moony's thinking about me! Oh fuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckettyfuckfuckfuck! Of course, he had known that Remus was thinking about him before, but this - well, this was a whole new kettle of fish. Remus fancies me. Remus. Moony. Fancies me. Oh my GOD! What the hell do I do now? How has he missed the fact that I'm male? I - well... an attractive male, obviously, but... I'm still bloody male!

"I wish I was a girl."


Sirius nearly choked. Bloody hell... He considered the other boy for a moment, as he rested his cheek heavily on his fist and gave a deep sigh as he stared into the nearby hearth. Mind you, he'd make a good girl... A pretty girl. Great big eyes, nice sandy hair... he's so delicate he'd make quite a convincing girl, actually. Heh - I'm sure there's a potential prank in that, somewhere...

"If I were a girl at least I might have some small chance... and he wouldn't tease me so much for being small... and even if we
 did get together we could just be normal and it'd mean one less thing to hide... As if being a bloody werewolf wasn't bad enough! Now I'm a gay werewolf who's in love with his very not-gay best friend who also just happens to be the most popular one in the school with the girls. Wonderful. I should sell my story to Witches' Weekly."

Sirius frowned again. It always came down to the bloody wolf. The poor boy was always so afraid of people finding out and so hard on himself for it. It always made Sirius feel so frustrated because he hated seeing his friends miserable, and more often than not that's exactly how Remus was. Not miserable enough to bring the others down, but just miserable enough that it made Sirius feel sorry for him. Made him wish there was something he could give him to smile about, because there was no one whose smile was quite like Remus's.

At that moment Acacia Bones dumped herself unceremoniously in his lap, brandishing some mistletoe. Remus stood with a sigh and headed for the portrait hole.

"Reme, where are you going?" he called.

"Library... I, um... I have some homework."

Yeah, Sirius thought, homework that doesn't have to be in for two weeks...

That night, when he lay tangled in his blankets, Sirius was kept from sleep by a persistent muttering from the direction of Remus's bed. He strained his ears to listen but couldn't make out a word that was being said. Obviously, though, the other boy was having trouble sleeping. The curiosity finally grew too much, and he clambered out of the covers and moved to his bed as quietly as he knew how. It was an art perfected by all of the Marauders, and something which gave them the delectable edge they had over Filch.

"Moony?" he whispered, jerking the curtains slightly, to show which side he was on.

"Siri? What're you doing?" the other boy's voice whispered back.

"You were talking to yourself, I was just wondering if you were alright." He tugged the curtains open a little and shoved his head through.

"I wasn't talking to anyone..."

"It sounded like you were talking to yourself," Sirius insisted, deciding to climb through the drapes and join him on the bed.

"I was just... thinking," he said softly, and even in the dark Sirius knew that the soft "about you" that followed hadn't been spoken aloud.

"Reme... I should tell you something," he began, shifting slightly, "I probably should have told you earlier..."

The other boy flinched, making the mattress shift slightly. "Oh no... oh no, one of those girls has asked him out and he's said yes! He's going to spend all Christmas with her and leave me here..."

"As if I'd do that!" Sirius said before he had time to think about it.

"D-do...what?"

"Ah. Um... that's what I wanted to talk to you about. You know that potion, earlier?"

"The potion? Oh no. It - it worked, didn't it?"

"Erm, yes."

"How much have you heard?"

"Er... a bit."

"Oh."

"Shame there wasn't any chocolate cake for dinner. I quite fancied some after listening to you craving the stuff like a pregnant woman all evening."

Remus gave a small, forced laugh. "He knows! Oh God, he knows how I feel! Stop. Think of something else. Must not think of how much you fancy him-"

"It's alright, Re, I'm perfectly used to people fancying me," he said, trying to reassure him, and rather effectively doing the opposite.

"I know you are," the other boy sighed. "And I know you are more than happy to encourage them. The girls, that is."
"So?" Sirius demanded indignantly, "What's to say I only like girls?"

"Oh come on, Sirius, credit me with some intelligence, please. You have never, ever looked at another boy the way you look at all the girls. Trust me, I've been checking."

"You reckon you know me better than I know me, do you?" Sirius asked, raising a challenging eyebrow that the other boy couldn't see.

"Well, I think I'd have noticed."

"Well I've spent all bloody evening wondering, thanks to you, and I think that just because I haven't liked any boys so far it doesn't mean I never will. It doesn't mean I don't now," the dark-haired boy explained, in a tone of voice that implied he was rather smug about this loop-hole.

"Don't be daft, Siri."

"Daft! Well, how long have you known, hm?"

"Since I met you."

There was a prickling silence at that point. For a moment, Sirius pondered, but was jerked out of his thoughts by a hushed un-spoken panic from the other boy.

"Oh no... now I've scared him! You idiot! What on Earth possessed you to tell him the truth?"

"You're serious, aren't you?"

"I..."

"Are you?"

"I may be a Marauder, Siri, but yes, I do take some things seriously from time to time. There's no need to sound so shocked."

"I'm not shocked..."

"Fraud."

"I think... I think I'm actually pleased."

"Now is perhaps not the time for a joke, Padfoot."

"Who says I'm joking?"

"The small voice that's telling me - and always has told me - that you were very straight. And very out of my league."

"Oh don't be such a wet blanket, Moony! You're as attractive as any of the girls!"

"You know, that really does nothing to reassure me of my masculinity."

"Well, I've got to be honest, Remus, you aren't really very blokey, are you?"

"Thank you, Sirius, I'm flattered."

"Well, I mean - it could work in your favour..."

Remus gave a tiny indignant hurrumph and muttered, "I don't want anyone to like me because I'm 'girly' and the nearest available thing to a female! I want people to like me just for me. I want you to like me just for me..."

"Remus, I do like you just for you-"

"Not the way I want you to like me!" There was a pause before Remus carefully asked, "Um - did I say that out loud? Really - did I say it out loud?"

"How should I know? It's dark!"

"Oh... yes, of course," Remus sighed, mournfully.

Sirius also gave a sigh and moved nearer to the other boy. "Re - you've really got to drop all this woe-is-me rubbish. You'll depress yourself."

"In all honesty, Sirius, I can't say that I need an awful lot of help at the moment."

"Oh listen to yourself! Moan, moan, moan! Look, if I was as funky as you-"

Remus made a slight choking sound, "FUNKY? Now I know you're taking the mickey..."

"I'm not! You're great, alright?"

Remus seemed to mutter something that sounded like, "Flaming not..." but Sirius could barely hear him because the sound was drowned out by the sound of him thinking, "I wish you meant that, Siri, I really wish you did..."

The dark-haired boy took a deep breath and fumbled around until he found the other boy's hand, "I do mean it, Reme. You're one of my best friends ever and I... God I'm going to sound like a right soppy tart... Y'know - I love you and all that because you're my mate. My friend, that is... And really - what can be so different about being more than friends?"

"Of all the people to have to ask that question..."

"What're you trying to say?" he demanded, letting go of the other boy's hand, in order to put his own on his hips defensively.

"I meant that the girls are just queuing up to show you how different it can be."

"How? I don't have any friends who are girls."

"Unless you count me of course," Remus countered tartly.

"Touche!"

Even in the darkness, Sirius knew that the other boy was scowling. It wasn't something Remus did very often, he was far too pleasant for something so hostile as scowling. He looked sweet when he was irritated, though.

"Go to bed, Sirius."

"What?"

"I said go to bed. I have homework to do in the morning."

"Homework? It's the first day of the holidays!"

"Yes, Sirius, I need sleep so I can do my homework," Remus insisted. "And you need your sleep so you can save up your energy to chase all the girls with bits of limp mistletoe all day..."

"I need my energy so I can run away from the girls who chase me with limp mistletoe, actually."

"That's it, I'm not listening any more. Go to bed!" He gave the other boy a sharp shove, nearly topping him from the mattress.

"Oooooh, temper, temper, Moony!" Sirius teased gently, climbing off before he was evicted, "sweet dreams, you grumpy old cynic, you."

"Sweet dreams! Yes, of course, dreaming of yo- chocolate cake. Chocolate cake. I will dream of chocolate cake. Not Sirius and chocolate cake - just chocolate cake. Chocolate cake. Chocolate cake. ChocolatecakechocolatecakeSiriuschocolatecakechocolatecakechocolatecakechocolateSirius. Sirius and chocolate cake... oh fiddle sticks!"

Remus gave a start as his curtains were suddenly shuffled again and the silhouette of the other boy's head reappeared. In the darkness he wasn't quite sure what was happening until he felt a pair of lips (at least, he hoped they were lips) pressed to his own, slightly off-centre. After the merest moment, the other boy pulled back and gave his hair a tiny tug, grinning, "It can be arranged," then disappeared, bouncing noisily onto his own bed.

Bundled up I beneath his blankets, Remus did not strictly dream of chocolate cake that night.

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