Unexpected, But Not Unwelcome

by darsynia

Notes: Written --/--/--.

Remus didn't like sitting alone in the room, but Sirius was still asleep, and while he could tell himself that he hadn't sought to wake him because he needed his rest, the real reason was that Padfoot could be a right bastard when he didn't wake naturally. Still, the cluttered walls and sunken, dark corners of the room were giving prudence a run for its money. He'd never had the 'pleasure' of visiting #12 when Sirius had lived here with his family—though his identity as a werewolf hadn't been public knowledge, he was poor, his family didn't have a long and illustrious bloodline, and... well, Lupin was fairly certain that his friend hadn't liked to think of his school chums visiting him, anyway. Sirius had always dodged their attempts to bring up the subject, at least, he had until he'd gone to live with James.

He and Sirius (and, he supposed, Kreacher) were the only ones occupying #12 Grimmauld Place right now, as it was in the middle of the day, and most of the other Order members were at work or taking care of other business. Remus had gone to a bookshelf to find something to occupy his time until Sirius got up, but he'd managed to earn himself a hand injury when he'd reached for a copy of The Rise and Fall of the Dark Arts. He still wasn't exactly sure what had happened, but he'd found himself having been shoved back a few yards from the shelves in question, his hand stinging with pain as though he'd been hexed. Lupin still wasn't sure whether that particular piece of furniture had been charmed to repel 'undesirables' such as himself, or if it could detect his condition.

Remus suspected the former, as several encyclopedias listed werewolves under 'Dark Creatures,' and the Black family certainly didn't have a history of shunning dark magic.

"Moony, is there any particular reason why you're sitting there in the dark?" Sirius asked from the doorway, his voice still gravelly from sleep.

"Several, actually," Remus answered, and Sirius grunted a laugh. Lupin looked up to see that Padfoot hadn't bothered to straighten his robes or tame his hair before coming down to see who had come to visit. He had to smile; his friend had been asleep when he'd arrived, which meant that no matter who his house-guest would have been, Sirius would have looked just as disheveled. There was something very refreshing about that sort of carefree disregard for formality, Lupin thought.

"Are you hungry?" Sirius asked, seeming to negate this conclusion. When he'd begun to demur, stating that he'd eaten lunch before coming over, however, Sirius just waved his hand and interrupted with a quick 'Good!' as though Remus had said yes, instead. Lupin followed his friend into the kitchen, shaking his head and chuckling.

"Old bat stayed asleep, for a change," Sirius said, tossing a few things onto the table before settling into a chair. His mother's portrait had indeed been silent when they'd passed.

"Probably because, for once, you weren't loudly arguing with someone in the hallway," Remus said, reaching over for a piece of carrot. "Though, it's not really your fault—you just woke up, after all." He leaned up against a nearby counter, waiting for Sirius's retort.

"You're the instigator," Sirius protested, pointing at him with a piece of celery. "Tried to fool everyone with the perfect Prefect routine, but I knew better."

"Aha! But maybe you were the ones fooled," Remus said, impulsively. "Perhaps I did such a fine job hiding my baser instincts that you all were taken in." He wasn't sure what had made him say it; it was probably just pique at being taken for granted as the well-behaved one yet again, he decided. Sirius still managed to outdo him, however.

"Don't I wish it," he said in a low voice, sounding as if he were speaking to himself. Then, louder, "Sorry, Moony, but I would have been able to tell." Sirius grinned at him, and Remus was surprised to see a hint of wistfulness, or perhaps even bitterness, in his expression.

"Sirius, you're not—how do the Muggles say it? 'God's gift to—'" Lupin began, meaning to finish with 'magical delinquency,' but Sirius cut him off.

"Remus," he said, again in a low voice, his eyes glittering with intensity. This caught Lupin completely off-guard; something about the quality of Sirius's voice was at once dangerous and predatory.

"Sirius... what-?" Remus began again, suddenly very aware of the hard lines of the counter and cabinets behind him.

"You mentioned baser instincts?" Sirius said, leaning back in his chair in a position that should have looked relaxed, but instead seemed to underscore the roughness of his character, his disregard for authority.

"I..." Lupin trailed off, his mouth suddenly dry. He couldn't quite place where the atmosphere of their exchange had shifted—tilted, really, ever so slightly askew, but it had. Sirius got up from his casual lounging position on his chair, and just then it struck Remus that part of the reason he felt unnerved was that Sirius had taken control of their conversation. Lupin had never really acknowledged it, but with his de facto position as 'the good one' in their group had come a kind of understanding, that he was the mediator, the one in charge, in a way. Sirius had just swept that all away, and Remus still couldn't figure out how.

"Do you think I could fool you?" Sirius said now, cocking his head to the side a tiny bit. He hadn't moved, but Remus could have sworn that the room had gotten smaller.

"You're doing a fairly good job of—"

Sirius didn't seem inclined to permit him to finish any sentences, however.

"Do you think I fooled you at school?" Sirius interrupted again with a thread of curiosity in his voice—and now Remus's confusion was total.

"Fooled me with what?" he asked in exasperation, holding up a hand before his companion could break in again before he continued, "—and if you simply say 'baser instincts' again I'm going to seriously regret bringing it up in the first place."

"I hope not," Sirius said, bluntly. Remus wasn't left much time to ponder the meaning of this, however, for the instant that he had spoken, Padfoot walked directly over to him. Slowly, deliberately, Sirius stepped closer, placing his palm flat on the cupboard beside Remus's head. It wasn't until Sirius pressed his hand atop the one Remus was clutching at the counter with that he realized Sirius wasn't just playing games again, invading his personal space to garner a reaction. Sirius had always found it amusing to push boundaries at school—anytime, really—and no one had been exempt; his favorite way to unnerve Remus had been to step close, too close, staying there until Remus ceded him victory and either moved of his own accord, or swatted Padfoot away. Even then, however, Remus had felt more in control than he did right now.

Remus's attention had been commanded by the odd sight of Sirius's hand atop his own, but after a few seconds, he lifted his gaze to look at his friend directly. Padfoot's breathing was steady and even, but his grey eyes were dark, pupils dilated so widely that Remus could see himself reflected in them.

"So," Sirius said, his voice a low rumble that barely moved the air between them. "Did I fool you, do you think?" His thumb moved a tiny bit against Remus's hand, barely a caress, but with such a weight of emotion behind it, the significance of that small gesture was profound. Remus had blinked, dropping eye contact with Sirius for just a moment afterwards, but before he could gather himself together again, Sirius closed the distance between them, taking Remus's lower lip between his own and pulling away slightly, so that the prolonged heat of continued contact was emphasized, magnified. Remus had never felt so desired as he did at that moment, and the fact that the kiss had been so very Sirius—confrontational, emotional, reckless—seemed to be the very thing that had Remus struggling to remember to keep hold of the counter he was leaning against.

He'd shut his eyes the instant that their lips had met—for no other reason than he'd been swept up in Padfoot's emotional lorry ride—and Remus now opened them and stared unflinchingly back at his friend, to show that he was surprised, but unashamed.

"I'd say you would have," he managed to say, in response to Sirius's question. "But... you can't honestly say you—back at school, you wanted—"

"You?" Sirius finished for him softly. "Why not? I always liked a challenge, didn't I?" At this, Remus blushed.

"Why didn't you—"

"By Seventh year, so much was going on... I didn't want to ruin our friendship," Sirius said simply. "I figured I had time." He gave a hollow sounding laugh.

Remus's mind was racing, placing this new information in its place among all the other memories, re-evaluating his interpretations based on the alternate explanation for Sirius's behavior. A grim thought occurred to him, one that had him placing a firm hand on Sirius's shoulder so that Lupin could pace about the room. After a long few minutes, he looked up again to see that Sirius leaning against the side of the cupboard, arms folded, watching him.

"You know I'd mistrusted you," Remus said, the words still painful even though a year or more had passed since he'd last spoken of it. Sirius had become increasingly distant after graduation, more reckless and less social. "You seemed as though you had something to hide." He said this with a tone that mixed accusation and sadness. "Why now?" Lupin asked, his voice barely above a whisper.

"Patience hasn't really earned me much," Sirius said, straightening his frame so that their eyes were level with each other.

"It kept you sane," Remus offered.

"Yes, but my goal." Sirius's face darkened for a second or two before he shrugged. "'Cry Havoc, and let slip the dogs of war,'" he quoted, looking up at the ceiling with an odd expression on his face.

"I didn't think you went in for Muggle playwrights," Remus said, his eyebrows furrowed; it was strange and yet somehow amusing to hear something like that from Sirius's mouth.

"I don't—but one of my... neighbors in Azkaban..." his voice trailed off as he shut his eyes against the memory. After a moment, he opened them, saying, "Whether he was simply barking mad or chanting it to beg for some sort of revolt, I don't know." He shook his head. "It grew on me."

"I'm not fighting you, you know," Remus admitted, blushing slightly. Sirius smiled at this, and it struck Remus just how different that smile was from their carefree days at school. He thought it strange, how all three of the remaining Marauders could understand the concept of a life experience that altered all the life that came after it. He didn't regret that he hadn't caught whatever hints Sirius may have sent his way, though, there was no point to that.

"You should be, Moony—I'm a bad influence," Padfoot said with mock seriousness. "Broke out of Azkaban, broke into Hogwarts," he summarized, ticking them off on his fingers as he spoke. "Runaway, illegal Animagus, blood traitor," he continued as Remus started to walk toward him.

"Poor student, betrayer, murderer," Remus added, causing Sirius to look up at him sharply. "That was before, Sirius, and every one of them misconceptions," Remus said to him firmly before moving closer, almost as close as Sirius had been to him earlier. Neither of them touched the other; they were as close as two people could be without touching, their breathing shallow, eyes locked. When Remus allowed his mouth to break into a warm smile, Sirius's head twitched, as though he wanted to lean towards him but stopped himself. It was the reaction Remus hadn't realized he was looking for—the impulsive proof that Sirius wasn't simply looking for an adventure, wasn't trying to convince himself as well as Remus that he wanted something more—because Sirius wouldn't have stopped himself in either of those situations.

"Stay still," Remus directed, leaning over to brush Sirius's lips with his own. It was exciting, heady—overwhelming—and, what was more, entirely new territory, and he wondered if it was as difficult for Sirius to keep still as it was for him to pull back.

"Remus...?" Sirius's voice was rough; his eyes had closed, and it was one of the only times Lupin had ever heard his friend sound in any way unsure. Remus wanted to say so much—how Sirius had been so brave to have survived Azkaban, how he knew how much it cost Sirius to stay quiescent in his hateful house while the rest of them were free to fight, how Remus had learned, over many painful years, that it was possible to put the past behind you. What he did say was as close and concise as he could manage, his voice thick with newfound emotion.

"That was before, Sirius—this is now."