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Slip of the Tongue, A

by Victoria P.

[Story Headers]

Sirius was in the middle of having sex with his girlfriend when he realized he was in love, and told her so.

Normally, this would have pleased both of them immensely. Unfortunately, there was a problem.

"Did you just call me, 'Remus'?" she asked, sounding nothing like a woman in the throes of passion.

"Uh--" Sirius searched for something to say, but really, even his long experience at talking his way out of trouble hadn't prepared him for this. "I meant, uh, Hippolyta?"

Hippolyta, for that was indeed his girlfriend's name, shoved him off the bed. He landed on the floor with a thump, erection rapidly deflating.

"Yes, because they sound so similar," she said, rising from the bed and reaching for her robe. He winced. "You can leave now, Sirius, and don't come back."

He opened his mouth, but no sound came out. After what felt like an eternity, she said, "I'll have your stuff sent to you." She wrapped the robe around herself, looking sad and small. "I should have known. Everyone at school said you lot were queer. But I thought once Potter and Evans got together--"

"I am sorry," he said absently, "I just figured it out myself."

The rumors had never bothered him, because they'd never stopped him from pulling, though James and Peter spent some sleepless nights worrying that the girls they fancied thought they were gay. Moony'd had other problems, and people thinking him gay had been the least of them. Of course, Moony actually was gay, whereas Sirius had never really looked at another bloke that way before.

Which didn't really penetrate the haze of "Oh, God, I'm in love."

Normally, whenever he fell in love (and at school he'd done so an average of three times a year; he was demanding, but not fickle), Remus was the first person he'd tell about it. Remus actually gave good advice despite his relative inexperience in matters of the heart, unlike James, who'd been feeling up girls since the age of thirteen but thought putting snow down their jumpers was the way to show you fancied them, until Lily had finally put him out of his misery.

He worried that maybe it wasn't quite right to make Remus figure out what he should do, but he'd never been one to let thought stand in the way of action. Remus would know, because Remus always knew.

So he hopped on his motorbike and roared off into the night, enjoying the cold wind in his hair and the way the stars in the night sky looked like diamonds against velvet.

He was quite pleased with this poetic turn of mind; it meant he'd be bloody brilliant while confessing his love. How could Remus reject him?

These thoughts gave him the confidence he needed to pull the bike into the alley beside Remus's building. Dismounting, he bent and picked up a handful of gravel from the patch of weeds Remus called a garden and chucked a couple of pebbles at Remus's window.

He was almost out of rocks when the sash flew up and Remus's head, followed by thin shoulders, poked through the window.

"Sirius bloody Black, what the hell are you doing?"

"I'm in love with you, Remus!"

"Are you drunk?"

"Drunk on love!"

"It's one o'clock in the morning, Sirius. Go home."

"No! I'm here to convince you of my love!"

Lights came on in various windows, which opened to reveal a few of Remus's less-than-pleased neighbors.

Remus looked around and lowered his voice to a pained whisper. "Please don't."

"Let me in, Remus. We need to talk."

When Remus hesitated, old Mr. Weinbrunner from next door shouted, "Let him in, you idiot! Some of us have to work in the morning!"

So Remus buzzed him in, for which Sirius was extremely grateful, as it was cold out, and despite what all the poets said, love wasn't keeping him warm.

"You daft bastard," Remus said upon opening his door, which was not exactly the greeting Sirius was expecting after his declaration of love. "Is this some kind of joke?"

"On me, maybe," Sirius replied. "I'm in love with you."

"I believe we covered that part of the conversation with you shouting it to everyone in the neighborhood. Did James put you up to this? Did you bet on the Cannons again? They're never going to win, you know."

"It's not even Quidditch season, Moony," Sirius chided. "And no, James didn't put me up to this."

Remus crossed his arms over his bare chest -- Sirius couldn't help noticing how smooth and firm his skin seemed. His mouth went dry and he reached out a hand, which Remus summarily smacked away.

"What the bloody hell are you doing here, Sirius?"

"I am utterly enthralled, completely entranced, and wholly enraptured by you."

"Those are three things that mean the same thing." Sirius thought he detected some amusement mixed in with Remus's exasperation.

"Yes. They mean, 'I love you.'"

"You love me." Remus's tone was flat, no longer amused. Sirius nodded. If he'd been in canine form, he'd have rolled onto his back and offered his throat. Remus sniffed. "You show up on my doorstep at one in the morning, reeking of Hippolyta --"

"She doesn't wear -- oh."

Remus went on as if Sirius hadn't spoken. "And you've come to tell me you're in love with me."

"Well, yes." He ran a hand through his already messy hair. "I suppose I should have washed up first, but she threw me out."

Realization dawned in Remus's eyes, and Sirius knew he'd made a mistake.

"You know where the couch is, Sirius. There's no reason for this ridiculous charade."

"It's not a charade. I am in love with you." He took a step forward and Remus stepped back. Sirius was surprised to find this retreat was actually, physically painful, causing an ache in his stomach much like the one he'd had from eating too many Chocolate Frogs in one sitting when he was seven.

Remus sighed, impassive. Sirius hated not being able to read him, that he was so easily able to wipe all emotion off his face. Since the Trick in sixth year, Sirius had studied Remus in great detail -- his expressions, his habits, the way he always tied his left shoe first and never remembered where he'd hid the chocolate he denied hoarding -- and yet Remus was still capable of completely closing him out and becoming a stranger.

"Did you receive any gifts from your family? Anything that may have contained a seduction charm or love potion?" Sirius hesitated for a moment before shaking his head, and knew he'd made another mistake when Remus nodded. "I thought as much." He jerked his chin toward the couch. "Get some sleep, Sirius, and we'll talk about it in the morning."

Remus levitated some pillows and a blanket onto the worn couch and walked back into the bedroom, leaving the door slightly ajar behind him. Sirius didn't think he could take sleeping so close (it was a tiny flat) and yet so far away from the object of his desire.

He'd occasionally pictured other women while in bed with a girl, but never a man. Never Remus. Not until tonight. And yet now, lying alone in the chilly flat, on a sofa that felt like it would collapse if he shifted the wrong way, he could taste desire thick on his tongue like honey, making his heart race and his cock hard.

He wanted Remus, wanted to touch him and be touched by him. He wanted to kiss and lick his way down that scarred, wiry body that was always hidden by old clothes two sizes too large. It should have been startling; he'd occasionally noticed other boys, but never thought much about them. But he wanted Remus in every way possible -- wanted to sleep with him and wake up next to him, wanted to know how he tasted, how to please him, what sounds he made while having sex, how his face looked when he came. If it was to do with Remus, Sirius wanted it, and he wanted it now. He was willing to learn whatever Remus would teach him, and he didn't worry too much about the mechanics of it all.

He could hear Remus settling in, the sound of cotton pajamas sliding against cotton sheets. He counted silently. Remus would be asleep by the time he reached ten. He wasn't sure if it was a function of the wolf, or if Remus was just one of those lucky people never troubled by insomnia, but he could -- and often did, while they were at school --sleep anywhere at the drop of a hat. Maybe it was simply that his body was so often in need of rest that opportunities to do so were never wasted.

Sirius couldn't recall how many nights he'd spent watching Remus sleep, a silent vigil in the hospital wing or the Shrieking Shack, or their own room in Gryffindor tower.

He listened, then and now, to Remus's deep and even breathing, untroubled by nightmares. It was a soothing sound, one Sirius had missed in the months since they'd left Hogwarts, and soon he found himself drifting off to sleep, as well.


Sirius woke to the sound of bodies thumping into the room. Squinting, he saw James and Lily spill out of the small fireplace and dust themselves off.

Lily looked around; she'd never been to the hovel Remus called a flat before, and Sirius could tell she was preparing to yell at him and James for 'allowing' Remus to live in such a dump. She had such a soft spot for Remus -- they all did, really. Well, except for Peter, who had never quite got over his fear of werewolves, and always looked a little uncomfortable when Remus stood too close, especially after he'd revealed his preference for boys.

As if Remus would ever want Peter. Sirius would have laughed at the idea, if he weren't pretending to still be asleep so he could listen to the conversation without having to participate.

"Remus, you simply must come and live with me and James. This place is completely unacceptable. And the neighborhood--" Lily began.

James opened his mouth, but Remus was quicker. "Lily, I can take care of myself. And I would never intrude. It's still your honeymoon. Even if I wanted to live with the great git again."

"Hey! Sirius is the great git," James replied. "All other gits bow before him."

Sirius tightened his fists on the blanket. They were testing him, but he was strong. He was sleeping. He wasn't going to be distracted by James's nonsense. He needed to hear this conversation.

"At least according to Hippolyta," Lily added dryly.

"Ah. I know she threw him out, but he wouldn't tell me why. Just blathered --" Remus paused and Sirius held his breath, "a whole lot of bullshit. I think he may have been hexed by Regulus or something. He wasn't making any sense."

"He told you he loved you."

Sirius held his breath.

"How did you--"

"You should know by now that Lily always knows everything."

"That's why Hippolyta sent him packing. Apparently, last night he called her 'Remus' while they were shagging," Lily said, laughter in her voice.

Remus sank down on the arm of the sofa. "He what?"

James cackled. "She says he also calls out your name while he's sleeping."

Sirius felt himself flush and hoped they weren't looking at him. He hadn't known that. He rarely remembered his dreams.

"Do you remember when he fancied Sheila McMartin?" Remus asked, laughing. "He used to whimper her name in his sleep and then strip his bed before class so the house-elves wouldn't know he'd had a wet dream."

Sirius bit the inside of his cheek to stop from mentioning how James always moaned Lily's name when he was having one off at the wrist, even while he'd been with other girls. James had always been crap at silencing charms.

"Well, he doesn't fancy Sheila McMartin anymore," James replied. "He fancies you."

Remus took a deep breath. "So he said. He also said he received post from his family, and you know that never goes well."

Sirius had heard enough. He sat up. "I never said that!"

"Eavesdropping, Sirius? That's even more childish than usual," Lily said.

Sirius smirked at her. He liked Lily. She was clever and pretty and she seemed to adore James as much as James adored her. But they never had got along well, and her marriage to James hadn't changed that. Sirius still believed they were too young to have married, that there were years and years ahead of them to do such mature things, but James was convinced if he didn't tie Lily to him now, he might lose her.

Sirius suddenly understood that urgency when he looked at Remus. He felt a vague pang of fear when he couldn't recall if Remus was currently involved with someone.

"Just waiting for the right moment to make my presence known," he replied.

"I think your snoring took care of that," Remus said.

"The snoring was camouflage. I was pretending to be asleep," Sirius replied with great dignity. Or at least as much dignity as he could muster still dressed in yesterday's clothes, with his hair a mess, and in need of a shave and a shower. "I do not snore. Nor do I whimper."

"So you admit you were eavesdropping?" Lily pressed.

"I never denied it." He tapped Remus's arm. "I said there was no post from the family. Why'd you say I said there was?"

"You had to stop and think about it."

"So? I receive a lot of mail."

"All of which is beside the point," Lily interrupted.

"And what would the point be?" Remus asked warily.

"That I'm in love with you!" Sirius bounced off the couch and loomed over Remus. "That's what I've been trying to tell you. I worked it out last night."

"While you were having sex with your girlfriend."

"Yes."

"This doesn't present a problem to you?"

"No."

"You do realize that I am not now, nor have I ever been, female."

"Course I know that. I'm not daft."

"That's a matter of opinion." Sirius opened his mouth to protest, but Remus overrode him. "And you have never before shown interest in anyone of the male persuasion."

"I'm not interested in just anyone, Moony. I'm interested in you."

"I always knew you were a poof," James said.

Sirius shrugged. "Everyone thought you were shagging me."

Lily snickered. Remus frowned.

"But I'm not a poof," James said.

"Takes one to know one," Sirius answered.

"Is that my cue?" Remus asked, crossing his arms and glaring at the two of them.

"Look, I realize this is rather sudden," Sirius began.

"You have such a talent for understatement."

"But it makes perfect sense. Look, I'll show you. Stand up." He took Remus's hand and yanked him to his feet, then slid an arm around his shoulders. He swallowed hard, surprised at the intensity of his response to Remus's nearness. He turned his head, heart racing, and his lips brushed Remus's cheek. "We just fit." His voice was rougher than it had been a moment before. He was encouraged when Remus didn't jerk away.

"You do look just darling together," Lily said, smiling.

"You're not helping," Remus replied, shrugging Sirius's arm off. She laughed again and Sirius thought he might have won her over. Remus shook his head and began pacing the small living room. "You just don't wake up one day, look at your friend -- who happens to be a gender you never considered attractive before -- and say, 'I'm in love with him.'" Back and forth he walked, fireplace to sofa. He was making Sirius queasy.

"Actually," Lily said, "That's exactly how it happens."

Remus froze. "Lily--"

"You look over at this person, who's been nothing but aggravation for six long years, and suddenly the world shifts on its axis. For a moment, everything's a blur, and then it all snaps into focus. Everything rearranges itself, and you realize it's not nausea you're feeling, it's love."

James wrapped an arm around her waist and kissed her soundly.

Sirius nodded. That was exactly what it was like.

Remus did not look convinced. "You're telling me you mistook nausea for love?" he said when James released Lily. "And you married him?"

"No. Yes. Just-- haven't you ever had the world change in an instant, Remus?"

"Never for the better."

Sirius could feel the tension radiating off him. He stepped closer, put a hand on Remus's arm. Lily bit her lip.

"Right then. We've done enough damage," James said, breaking the uneasy silence. "We'll leave you two lovebirds alone to sort things out."

Lily gave Sirius a kiss on the cheek and Remus a fierce hug. "I think he means well," she whispered, and Remus smiled reluctantly. Sirius beamed at her.

They disappeared into the Floo, and Sirius was alone with Remus again.

Sirius opened his mouth but Remus was faster. "Wash up. I have some of your clothes from the last full moon in the wardrobe. I know a spell that will reveal if this is some kind of charm, but I need to look it up to make sure."

He put a hand on Remus's shoulder. "It's not a spell."

"Go," Remus said, waving a hand toward the bathroom, and his tone brooked no argument.

Sirius did as he was told. A quick shower and a change of clothes, and he felt like a new man.

He was sure he could convince Remus to give him a chance, if Remus would just let him speak.

When he came out of the bathroom, Remus had his nose in a book, his wand in his hand. He looked up when Sirius dropped his dirty clothes on the couch.

"There you are."

"Where else would I be?"

Remus's mouth curved in a half-smile. "I've found the reveal spell I was looking for. You should glow green if it's a hex, red if it's a charm." He waved the wand at Sirius. "Rivelisi."

Nothing happened.

"I'm not glowing."

"I see that." He flicked the wand again. "Rivelisi!"

"Still not glowing." Sirius grinned. "I think you have to believe me now."

"Maybe it was a potion." Remus flipped through the book.

"Remus, it's not a potion, not a hex, not a charm. It's not the Imperius curse or too much firewhisky or the aftereffects of smoking billywig stings." He sat down on the couch. "I love you."

Remus put the book down and ran a hand through his hair. "I believe that you believe that, Sirius. I just--" He sank onto the couch next to Sirius. "You're my best friend. Well, you and James, and even Peter. And that's a kind of love, a good kind of love. And that's it. That's what you're feeling."

Sirius shook his head. "Do you think I don't know the difference? Think I can't tell what I'm feeling now is different from what I feel for James?" He snorted. "I thought you were the sensitive one, but you're just thick." He grabbed Remus's hand, pressed it to his chest. "Do you feel that? You do that to me." With his other hand he reached out and cupped Remus's chin, leaned forward, and kissed him.

He tasted tea and something undeniably Remus, a taste he swore he'd never forget. Remus was still and unresponsive for a moment, but then he returned the kiss. Sirius would have crowed in triumph, but he'd have had to break contact, and he wasn't willing to do that any time soon.

The push of his tongue into Remus's mouth was another sensation he wanted to remember forever, soft lips giving way to wet warmth and an overwhelming rush of feeling, like static shock multiplied a thousand times and turned into pleasure along his frazzled nerves. His fingers moved against the skin of Remus's jaw, smooth from his morning shave. He wanted to memorize every millimeter of it, be able to identify it by touch alone. He pressed forward and Remus bent back under the assault, hands coming between them and fisting in Sirius's shirt, pulling him close before abruptly shoving him away.

Remus's breathing was ragged but he managed to get the words out. "What the hell are you doing?"

"Kissing you. I'd have thought that was obvious." Even Sirius realized now was not the time for clever remarks about Remus's romantic experience or lack thereof.

"Sirius--"

"Don't tell me you didn't feel it, too."

Remus sprung up, began pacing again. "I won't lie and say I never thought about it, but Sirius, it's insane. Don't you see that? How can I trust you--" he stopped, turned away.

Sirius rose, walked over and put his hands on Remus's shoulders. He wanted to massage the tension out of them, but settled for saying, "I understand."

Remus snorted in disbelief. "What happens if I say, 'no'?"

Sirius had never considered that an option. People didn't say no to Sirius Black. He opened his mouth and snapped it shut. He couldn't say that -- Remus would mock him mercilessly, and, much more importantly, never believe he was sincere in his feelings.

"Nothing. Nothing happens if you say no," he said, forcing the words out.

"Nothing changes?"

"What do you want me to say, Remus?" he snapped, finally losing his temper. He moved to face Remus. "Everything's already changed! That's what I'm telling you."

"Sirius--"

"No, listen to me, Remus. I understand. I'm a bad risk. You've already given me more second chances than one person deserves. Do you think I don't know that? I'm a Black. If I were you, I wouldn't have anything to do with me. If I were really a good friend, I'd tell you to run far, far away from me and never come back." Remus smiled at that. Sirius lifted a hand, brushed his fingers over Remus's cheek. "But because I am a Black, and a right selfish bastard, I'm asking you, please, give me a chance."

Remus swallowed hard, and Sirius knew he'd made his point, and he knew how to press his advantage. "Remus, please?" He leaned in and brushed his lips over Remus's, breathing in as Remus exhaled, heart racing and blood pumping as if he'd just played a twelve hour Quidditch match.

Remus closed his eyes, and Sirius could see him forcing himself to relax. "One chance," he said, closing the tiny space between them and kissing Sirius tentatively.

Sirius slid his hand into Remus's hair and sent up a small prayer of thanksgiving to whoever might be listening. When Remus broke the kiss, he had a small smile on his face.

"I love you, Remus. I mean it."

Remus ran a thumb over Sirius's lower lip. "Let's not be hasty, Sirius. You fall in and out of love three times a year like clockwork. There's no guarantee this is any different. I don't want to be left behind after you've moved on to the next new thing. Your friendship is more important to me than the possibility of shagging you, which I'd never expected to have and never really needed."

"This is different."

"Prove it."

"How am I supposed to do that?"

"I don't know." Remus shrugged. "I'll know it when I see it. I'm not an experiment or a convenience. You can't go mucking about with me because no girls have taken your fancy lately and you want to see how the other half lives."

"That's not--"

Remus interrupted him. "Last night, you were shagging Hippolyta, and now you claim you love me. I need to know that if we start shagging, you're not going to fancy Peter in the morning."

"Now that's just cruel, Moony. I would never fancy Peter."

Remus crossed his arms over his chest. "My point stands."

Sirius wanted to argue, but knew it would be futile. "So what happens now?"

"Nothing."

"Remus--" Sirius pulled him close and kissed him again.

"Mmm. Okay, maybe that," Remus murmured against his lips. They stumbled back to the couch, Sirius pressing Remus against the sagging cushions, unwilling to relinquish contact. He let his hands roam over Remus's body; Remus was thin but strong, lean and hard -- 'Oh yes, very hard,' Sirius thought, brushing his fingers over the bulge in Remus's trousers. Remus gasped into his mouth and his body responded.

If this was what Remus wanted, he could do it. It wasn't a hardship to sprawl on the couch and snog.

"Whatever you want," he murmured against Remus's throat. "I'll be whatever you need."

"I need you to be a friend," Remus replied. He sought Remus's mouth again, but Remus stopped him. "This can't be casual, Sirius. Not between us. Too much is at stake."

"So, what? I'll buy you dinner? I already know all your friends. I'll do whatever you want, but you have to give me a clue."

Remus reached up, pushed his fringe off his face, fingertips lingering to trail down his cheek, over his sensitized lips. He kissed them, trembling a little. Remus closed his eyes and whimpered when Sirius opened his mouth and sucked on Remus's index finger.

"Sirius." Remus withdrew his hand.

"I'm not going anywhere."

"I want to believe that."

Sirius bent his head, brushed his mouth over Remus's, nibbling on his lower lip. He pulled away and said, "Remember the first time I took you flying?"

"Yes."

"You almost pissed yourself when I took us into that spiral dive. 'Sirius, you're insane. Sirius, land right now. Sirius, I mean it, I'm going to vomit,'" Sirius mimicked eleven-year-old Remus with uncanny accuracy.

Eighteen-year-old Remus eyed him warily. "And?"

"What were you saying by the end of the day?"

Remus closed his eyes again, and Sirius held his breath, hoping Remus remembered. That day had marked the first time the two of them had done something without James and Peter. He wondered if what he was feeling now had begun even then. He could still hear Remus's voice as they landed, breathless with excitement. 'Sirius, that was bloody brilliant. Can we do it again? Please?'

"I thought I was going to die then. I think I might die now," Remus answered, but he didn't move or push Sirius away.

Sirius smiled against his mouth. "Love is like flying, Remus. You just have to trust me and take the ride. I swear I won't let you fall."

"Or we'll both fall together."

"Either way. It'll be worth it. I promise."

End


victoria
Achromatic: http://www.unfitforsociety.net/musesfool LJ: http://musesfool.livejournal.com

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Fandom:  Harry Potter
Title:  Slip of the Tongue, A
Author:  Victoria P.   [email]
Details:  Standalone  |  PG-13  |  24k  |  04/18/04
Pairings:  Sirius Black/Remus Lupin
Summary:  Sirius is a daft bastard. Remus accepts that.
Disclaimer/Other:  All Harry Potter characters belong to Rowling and Scholastic etc.; this piece of fan-written fiction intends no infringement on any copyrights.
Archive: Lists, Achromatic
Feedback: would be lovely.
Notes: Thanks as always to Jen, Pete/Melissa, Dot, and Meg. Thanks to Anonymous, who suggested the title. Thanks to Narie and Laura for the beta, and Pru for helping out. Spot the Whedon and Sorkin references if you can. Also, is it me, or does Sirius sound like The Tick?

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