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rs small gifts 2012

bearshorty in rs_small_gifts

Fic: Midnight Conversations for calico-lupin

Title: Midnight Conversations
Author/Artist: bearshorty
Recipient: ithinktsdashing
Rating: R
Contents or warnings (highlight to view): * a few curse words, some angst*
Word count:3,351
Summary: All the important conversations seem to always happen in the kitchen in the middle of the night. Or how Remus and Sirius got together as adults at Grimmauld Place
Notes: Calico-lupin, I hope you will like this. Your prompt was so wonderful. I tried my best to mix angst and happiness in the right proportion. But the boys would not let me have a really sad ending, though. They just wanted to have a little fun in the end. Thank you to Bear for the beta. And to awesome mods who gave me a much needed extra time. Happy holidays to all.



The house was quiet. The walls were creaking and Remus could hear Buckbeak moving upstairs even from the lowest floor, but all the human occupants seemed to be asleep on this chilly August night.

Moving silently, so as not to wake anyone in his sleepless quest for a midnight snack, Remus opened the solid wooden door to the kitchen, only to be met with the smell of the cigarette smoke.

Sirius was balancing precariously on the back legs of a chair by the kitchen table with a full ashtray in front of him, feet on the table. If Molly were to come downstairs, she would be fully horrified. Maybe that was what Sirius was hoping for as he looked at the door with an eager expression.

“Oh, it’s you,” said Sirius, taking another drag.

Remus closed the door behind him as softly as he could, and pretended to be shocked.

“Smoking, Sirius? Molly will kill you tomorrow,” said Remus. He moved toward the counter where Sirius apparently left a slice of pie, and found a fork.

“She won’t know, would she? I do still remember basic air cleaning charms. Mrs. Potter never caught on when I stayed with them, did she?”

“Hmm.” Remus sat down at the table a few seats away from Sirius and took a bite of the pie. It was blueberry and it was delicious.

“Where did you even get them?” He asked Sirius after swallowing a particularly tasty bite. As soon as said it, he wanted to take the question back. Reminding Sirius of his inability to leave the house would often lead to a sulk or a curse or a rant. This time, however, Sirius answered without seeming to take offence. Apparently, he was in good mood this night. Most likely because he spent the evening teaching Harry all kinds of explosive spells.

“Bummed them off Kingsley. I’d offer you one, but I only got so many. And you rarely wanted to smoke in school.”

“Not my vice, really,” said Remus, taking another bite.

“Sweets are your vice and sugar. Any other vices I missed while I was trying to prevent the Dementors from sucking away my memories?” asked Sirius.

“A few. Nothing you need to know.”

“Now you are piquing my interest,” said Sirius. He added, “There are also apple biscuits in the cupboard.”

Remus nodded his thanks and went to get them. He also pointed his wand at the teapot to warm up some tea. “Want some tea?” He asked. Sirius nodded.

Remus took two cups out and said, “My vices are not that interesting; yours, however, were always myriad.”

“And now I’m stuck here and can’t indulge too many.” Sirius started to sound dull again and Remus searched his brain to try to change the subject. Sirius’ moods could be so mercurial lately.

Before he could think of anything, he saw Sirius’ mouth quirk up and his forehead scrunch up in amusement. Sirius took another drag of the cigarette and said, “By the way, what are you wearing? You can’t get up to many vices wearing that.”

Remus ignored Sirius’ look and made the teapot pour the tea into the cups. “It’s just a nightshirt, Sirius. Since it is nighttime and I was in bed, I was already wearing it. I didn’t think anyone would even be up to see me.”

“Ah huh. It looks very silky. And long. Is there a cap to go with it?” Sirius was giggling a little and Remus was starting to get affronted on behalf of his sleepwear.

“It’s comfortable. And it is one of the few nice things I have. I refuse to apologize for the choice of my attire.” He put the cup in front of Sirius and went back to his seat clutching the biscuits.

Sirius continued giggling. It was unsettling. “Where did you even get it? Did you go shopping specifically for girly and soft nighty?”

“No. I didn’t buy it.” Remus scratched his ear in slight embarrassment. “I sort of stole it from an ex, since I always found it nice.”

“You stole a nightshirt from a bird! You do have vices!” Sirius smiled.

Remus was so glad to see him in such a good mood that he said without thinking it through, “It wasn’t a girl, Sirius. He, my ex, just liked clothes. And as I said – comfortable.”

As soon as the words left his mouth, Remus closed his eyes for a moment and took a deep breath. He really didn’t mean to say anything but now it was done. Sirius was looking at him with a raised eyebrow and Remus turned to stare in his teacup. He couldn’t bear to see anything in Sirius’ expression that could damage their newly recovered friendship.

Sirius’ voice, however, did not sound judgmental in any way, just surprised. “Really. A bloke. Since when?”

Remus lifted his eyes to see Sirius looking very curious but otherwise unchanged. Remus said,
“It’s not exactly new. Since school, I guess.”

“But you went out with Arista, the Hufflepuff girl, in sixth year a few times. And you brought that skinny girl to our get together in Leaky Cauldron after Prongs’ wedding.”

“So...”

“So, now you’re telling me you’re into blokes.” Sirius frowned. “Were you hiding? You know my uncle was gay and I was alright with it. You could’ve said something.”

“I’m not…” Remus took a sip of tea to fortify himself. He never actually had this type of conversation with anyone. He tended to avoid the subject all together. He continued, trying to pick his words carefully, “It is not a boy or a girl thing. When I see someone, and that happens rarely enough, it doesn’t matter to me if it’s a man or woman. It’s about the person.”

“Interesting,” Sirius said.

Remus waited for him to elaborate but Sirius seemed to be just contemplating the new information.

“You still should have said,” Sirius said finally.

Remus shrugged and had another apple biscuit. They sat in compassionate silence for a while. Sirius was smoking his cigarette until it was just a stub and his fingers burned and Remus kept drinking his tea.

“What’s it like?” Sirius suddenly said.

“What?”

“You know, being with a bloke?” Sirius had a mischievous look in his eyes as he pulled another cigarette from behind his ear and lit it with his wand.

“Fuck off,” said Remus, as he got up, put his cup away and left the kitchen. He was feeling tired now.
____________________________________________________________

It was probably close to midnight when Remus finally got inside Grimmauld Place and out of the cold October rain. He breathed the sigh of relief just to be warm again and took off his coat. It needed a bit more patching soon, he noticed with resigned drop of his shoulders.

He knew that the house was empty of anyone but Sirius and he figured that Sirius was asleep by now. He quietly hung the coat on the rack near the door and walked carefully toward the stairs so as not to wake the portrait of Sirius’ mother. He was exhausted, and began thinking that he should probably just go to sleep. While he wanted to share the frustration of his latest mission with his friend, he didn’t want to wake him. Trudging up two extra floors between his room and Sirius’ also did not sound appealing.

As he neared the stairs his stomach rumbled. It had been more than sixteen hours since he last ate something, so maybe getting some food was not a bad idea. Eyes slightly drooping, Remus changed course for the kitchen, in the hope of some small midnight snack.

When he entered the kitchen, he was surprised to see that Sirius was not asleep at this late hour after all but sitting, slumped in the kitchen chair, with a whiskey glass and a few bottles of fire whiskey in front of him, almost all empty. He was also smoking again and, by the smell, he was doing that for a while.

“Hey,” Remus said. “I’m back. You’re not asleep.”

Sirius looked up at him with slightly hazy eyes. “Well, clearly. You’re going to make any more obvious statements? My brain is not that dead. Although, since it’s useless now, it might as well be.”

Remus didn’t like the bitterness in Sirius’ voice. Since the beginning of September, every time Remus came back from his missions, Sirius seemed to sink more and more into a bitter and cranky mood which usually corresponded with the increase in the alcohol consumption.

Remus could understand it and tried not to let it bother him when Sirius aimed biting comments at him. He would be bitter too if he couldn’t leave the house and be useful. As much as he hated meeting with other werewolves and how useless those missions felt, at least he was trying.

“I’ll try for non-sequiturs, then,” Remus said, coming into the kitchen.

Sirius just took another drink right out of the bottle, bypassing the glass on the table. He looked skinnier than a week ago when Remus saw him last.

“Have you eaten today?” Remus asked.

“Don’t remember,” Sirius answered, looking at Remus with a gaze Remus couldn’t decipher. Sirius looked like he was contemplating something important.

“Right. I’ll make you a sandwich then. I hope Kreacher got some food.” Remus moved toward the pantry.

“Molly was here yesterday. She left some things, I think. But I’m not really hungry.”

“You’ll eat it anyway. Besides, I’m hungry, so it’s really not a bother.” Remus found some chicken, bread and tomatoes and brought them to the counter to start putting it all together. “So, how was your week? Wasn’t there another Order meeting on Wednesday?” He asked, with his back to Sirius, as he cut some chicken pieces.

“Hmm.” The chair scraped behind him and he heard the thud of the bottle hit the table. Sirius was up and coming closer by the sound of it. Remus was about to turn around when he felt boney arms wrap around him and a sloppy kiss on his neck. He froze and put the butter knife down.

“What are you doing?” he asked Sirius, shocked.

“I don’t want to talk about the Order,” slurred Sirius. “Or eat anything. Maybe you can entertain me in another way.”

Remus felt another kiss on his neck and Sirius’ hands began roaming. That snapped Remus out of his shock and he grabbed Sirius’ hands to pull them away from his body. He turned around, which was not easy with Sirius at his back trying to get into his skin, and firmly but gently pushed Sirius away while holding Sirius’ hands in front of him to establish some distance.

“Sirius. You’re drunk. And straight. What are you even thinking?” Remus was trying very hard not to panic.

“I am drunk. So what? Makes it more fun.” Sirius tried to lean in, and Remus had to be firmer in keeping Sirius away.

“Sirius, stop it.”

“Why? You’re into guys. I was often told I’m attractive. We can have some fun in this godforsaken house.” Sirius voice seemed a little clearer and he looked ready to argue and get his way.

“That is… Why are you…? You’re my friend. We can’t just... And, by the way, while I might be into guys, you never showed interest that way, so forgive me for being skeptical.”

“Well, I don’t know, do I?! I might have been, or whatever.” Sirius’ voice was getting louder, and higher and more on edge. “How should I know who I’m into? Stuck in Azkaban since I was twenty-one. I was so fucking young, Moony! I don’t know what I am or could be. Stuck here too. Can’t exactly date, can I? And you have these freckles. And you can actually stand me!” He tried to lean in again and Remus couldn’t handle it anymore.

He pushed Sirius away forcefully and scrambled to get to the other side of the table. Sirius’ legs hit one of the chairs and he stumbled and cursed. He tried to move toward Remus again but Remus said sharply, “Don’t.” Sirius stopped and looked at him, puzzled.

“So, I’m the only option? Because no one else is here and you’re bored. Nice to know. You’re drunk. Why don’t you sleep it off? You’re embarrassing yourself enough.” Remus ran his hands through his hair and tried to calm his rapidly beating heart. “I’m not a toy, Sirius, here for your amusement. You can’t play with my feeling or use me like this.”

Remus took a deep breath and continued, “You are my best friend and the only family I have left, so I’m going to go upstairs and try to sleep, and I will forget this ever happened. Go to sleep. Or don’t.”

Feeling his heart in his stomach, Remus backed up and quickly left the kitchen, not quite being able to decipher the look on Sirius’ face. He started to think that he didn’t know Sirius at all anymore.

____________________________________________________________________________

Remus couldn’t sleep. As he pulled back the blankets, he shivered. However, staying in bed would be useless and he might as well get some tea. As he walked down to the kitchen, he hoped Sirius was still there reading that ridiculous magazine.

The last two weeks since “The Incident,” as Remus called it in his head, were unexpectedly less awkward than Remus thought they would be. Neither he nor Sirius brought it up. Remus kept on pretending it never happened no matter how his treacherous heart remembered Sirius’ breath on the back on his neck. The next day, Sirius was awake by lunchtime and they cooked together. They talked of many inconsequential things and Remus began to relax.

Sirius was indeed still in the kitchen, working over the crossword puzzle. He looked up when Remus entered.

“Can’t sleep again? Is it the last full moon?” Sirius asked.

“Probably. I’ll just have tea.” Remus walked straight to the teapot. “Do you want anything?”

“Not really. Well, a nine letter word that can fit into this stupid puzzle.”

“Want any help?”

“No. I’ll figure it out. Need to keep my mind sharp.”

In the last two weeks, Sirius still went through his moods and continued to drink once in a while but he had clear days too, when he could focus. Today was a good day and Remus was grateful for it.

They continued in companionate silence. Remus made his tea, found a bit of crumb cake and settled by the table, pulling an old newspaper toward him. Everything was quiet.

“Yes!” yelled Sirius and Remus jumped in his seat.

“I got the word!” said Sirius.

Remus shook his head and was about to go back to his article when Sirius said, “Remus. I’m sorry.”

“What for? You and James once made me fall out of bed the way you ran into our dorm full steam.” Remus chuckled at the memory and his friends’ excitement over a silly prank.

“No. Not about the yelling just now. I’m not sorry about that. You should have seen your face!” Sirius laughed. Then his face got solemn again. “No. About the other night. You know.”

“Oh. Right. Can we not mention it? At all. That would be preferable.” Remus really didn’t want to relive that night.

“I won’t. Not after this.” Sirius fidgeted with his hands. Remus knew Sirius was itching for a cigarette. “I just wanted to say I’m sorry. It’s just, you think that I only did that because you’re the only one here and I was drunk but that wasn’t it. I really didn’t mean it like that.”

“I don’t understand,” said Remus.

“It’s not the lack of options.” Sirius paused, gathering his words. “That week I just felt so alone and you came home and for the first time in a week someone was here to listen and ask how I was and if I eaten. Someone actually gave a shit. And it just felt…It felt good. I wanted to be close. To you. Not to anyone random, just to you.”

“Sirius…” Remus began but Sirius held up his hand to stop him.

“No, let me say this. You know, James, he always knew that he loved Lily. Since he met her, I think. He was always so certain. And I loved him like a brother but I was jealous of that. That certainty. Of having someone to love like that. Because I don’t think I ever had that – that kind of unconditional love. I did want it though, and I thought that maybe one day, I’d meet a girl and I’d know. James once said that being with Lily always felt like home, like family, even before he married her. That he felt so easy and comfortable and like himself with her. He didn’t have to be anyone else at all. Because she knew all his faults and loved him anyway. And the only time I could be myself was with James and you and that fucking rat but even then it wasn’t like James meant it. I don’t know what love means, Remus. I don’t. But this place only feels like home when you’re here. It’s the only time I can bear it. And that night I just went with it. Because you were back. And you knew all my faults and were there anyway. And I knew yours. And I’m sorry I overstepped. I just don’t want you to be upset at me for that. I know you bottle things.”

Sirius finally stopped talking. He was looking everywhere but at Remus. He got up, went to the cupboard and pulled out a bottle. He got a glass, sat back down and poured a shot.

Remus felt like his throat was never going to work again. He reached toward Sirius and got the bottle out of his hands, and drank some straight out of it. His throat burned.

“I’m not bottling. I’m not mad at you, Padfoot. I never could stay mad at you for long.”

“I know. I use that quite a bit even. I just don’t want to make you leave because I’m an insensitive prick.” Sirius’ voice was quiet.

“I’m not going to leave. I can’t.” Remus told himself to be brave. “You know how I said knew I liked boys even in school?”

“Yeah.” Sirius was frowning at the apparent shift in conversation.

“Well, I knew it because one day, when I was fourteen, you came back from helping James practice Quiddich and you were changing and I looked at you and I realized just how beautiful you were.”

“Really. Well, I was rather handsome then. I don’t blame you.”

“You were. Still are. And I got mad that night because it would mean something with you, if we did that. I couldn’t just be an afterthought. But I also want to always be here for you.”

“It would, though,” Sirius said. “Mean something. It would mean something. Of course, it would. “

Sirius drank the whole shot of firewhiskey in one take, got up and walked toward Remus. He took Remus’ hand in his own and pulled him up. His eyes looked clear.

Remus’ hand was shaking. “This will not end well,” he said, trying to stall.

“Always the pragmatist.” Sirius smiled. “It doesn’t matter. You’d still be here, right?”

“Right.”

“Well then. I did say you should show me some of your vices.” Sirius stopped talking then and leaned in to kiss him. The kiss was tentative at first, but then Remus decided to throw caution to the wind and indulge while he could. Sirius was pressed close to him. Remus’ legs felt like jelly.

Sirius pulled back and looked at Remus with surprised expression. Then he smirked, looked down, drawing Remus’ eyes down too, and then Sirius looked back up. “So I guess I’m interested after all,” he said and his eyes looked positively wicked.

Remus laughed and leaned in to kiss him again. This might not last but, for now, it was so very good.

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Comments

This scene rang so true: “Well, I don’t know, do I?! I might have been, or whatever.” Sirius’ voice was getting louder, and higher and more on edge. “How should I know who I’m into? Stuck in Azkaban since I was twenty-one. I was so fucking young, Moony! I don’t know what I am or could be. Stuck here too. Can’t exactly date, can I? And you have these freckles. And you can actually stand me!” He tried to lean in again and Remus couldn’t handle it anymore.

He pushed Sirius away forcefully and scrambled to get to the other side of the table. Sirius’ legs hit one of the chairs and he stumbled and cursed. He tried to move toward Remus again but Remus said sharply, “Don’t.” Sirius stopped and looked at him, puzzled.

“So, I’m the only option? Because no one else is here and you’re bored. Nice to know. You’re drunk. Why don’t you sleep it off? You’re embarrassing yourself enough.”


It broke my heart.
Thank you. I think it broke my heart too as I was writing it.
Oh, this was so very lovely! And happy! You totally had me at Sirius was balancing precariously on the back legs of a chair by the kitchen table with a full ashtray in front of him, feet on the table. If Molly were to come downstairs, she would be fully horrified. Maybe that was what Sirius was hoping for as he looked at the door with an eager expression. If that is not perfectly Sirius, I don't know what is. And you painted such a vivid image, too.

I really enjoyed how humor and angst blended together so nicely. Little elements like Remus' nightshirt and Sirius' sarcasm blended nicely with the more serious parts like Sirius' confession.

This was really well done.
Thank you! Sirius is especially fun to write when he is being mischievous.
This is just wonderful! I'm sort of a sucker for fics where the boys don't get together until after akzaban. The whole emotional arc of your story was well done.

My favorite bits:

How should I know who I’m into? Stuck in Azkaban since I was twenty-one. I was so fucking young, Moony! I don’t know what I am or could be *sniff* Sirius' development was so arrested by Azkaban, and in the books it gets played off as just sort of him never growing out of being hotheaded and rushing into dangerous situations, but I adore fic where we can see how much deeper it really goes.

You are my best friend and the only family I have left The FEELS!

And I loved the ending. The best thing about ending angsty OotP fics happy, is that we all know the happiness is short lived and so there's this magic sort of bittersweet quality that comes. And the fact the in his gut your Remus KNOWS that it will be short lived just made it really pack a punch.

Bravo/a!
Thank you! The bittersweet is probably the best part about Remus and Sirius and why I love them so much. So much angst opportunities. In this story, when it came to the ending Remus just wanted some happiness even for a bit, and he refused to have anything else. I think he would appreciate moments despite their ephemeral nature more than Sirius because he had more life experience. Sirius makes me sad because he really never had a chance to really grow up.
You had me at the first line. I love that sleeping-house feeling when you're awake in the middle of the night. It's such a Remus and Sirius time.

Wonderful balance of angst and humor there at the end. It felt very in character and believable.
Thank you! One of the prompts/wishes was the song "Nights in White Satin" and when I was listening to it I was just picturing them all alone in a sleepy house.
Like larosemunit said above, a really lovely balance of angst and humor, just what I'd expect from these two. Well done! M.

Edited at 2012-12-18 04:12 am (UTC)
Thank you!
I'm so behind on reading!!! This was great! Awesome balance of OotP angst and lightness to keep it from getting too depressing. Very natural. Kudos!
Thank you!
What a lovely read. I could totally see Sirius taking a drunken pass at Remus...and then following it up with such an honest confession. ♥
Thank you.
This was heart wrenching at parts - Sirius in Akzaban too long and too young, Remus not wanting to be the only option.... but the last section brought it all together so nicely. Thanks for the really great angsty read!
Thank you!
Like ladonnaerrante, I'm especially drawn to fics where the boys don't get together until after Azkaban, and I enjoyed yours so much! I love the image of them in the kitchen, having these late night talks when the house is quiet and everyone else is gone. It's just the perfect setting for confessing one's feelings, but I like that we have to wait a bit for things to come together. And the dialogue is just all so perfect and natural. I love the idea of Sirius bumming cigarettes off Kingsley and their discussion of vices and Remus's sexuality in the first scene, the failed seduction in the second scene, and their confessions in the final scene, which were heartfelt but not too overdone. Some of my favorite lines:

--Any other vices I missed while I was trying to prevent the Dementors from sucking away my memories?” asked Sirius.

Remus took two cups out and said, “My vices are not that interesting; yours, however, were always myriad.”

“And now I’m stuck here and can’t indulge too many.” Sirius started to sound dull again and Remus searched his brain to try to change the subject. Sirius’ moods could be so mercurial lately.


--Sirius looked up at him with slightly hazy eyes. “Well, clearly. You’re going to make any more obvious statements? My brain is not that dead. Although, since it’s useless now, it might as well be.”

--“Well, I don’t know, do I?! I might have been, or whatever.” Sirius’ voice was getting louder, and higher and more on edge. “How should I know who I’m into? Stuck in Azkaban since I was twenty-one. I was so fucking young, Moony! I don’t know what I am or could be. Stuck here too. Can’t exactly date, can I? And you have these freckles. And you can actually stand me!”

Sirius's moods and reactions just rang so true and I really felt for him.

Oh, and I love the ending, especially this:

Sirius pulled back and looked at Remus with surprised expression. Then he smirked, looked down, drawing Remus’ eyes down too, and then Sirius looked back up. “So I guess I’m interested after all,” he said and his eyes looked positively wicked.

As others have said, the whole story had the perfect blend of angst and humor. Well done!
Thank you for such a lovely review. 'The vices" conversation just happened - it wasn't even in my plan - but sometimes the characters take over and make the story fit! I'm really glad that Sirius' characterization rang true - I always relate to Remus so much better but over the last few years I feel like I'm finally learning how to write Sirius.
This was so lovely and hard and beautiful. I felt so bad for them both and yet it ends on such a hopeful note. Fics in this time are always so hard, hard to get past "AND THEN we know what happens next *sob*" :D but I still love that moment of coming together, of sharing their friendship, and of falling in love. Truly a lovely story.
Thank you! I think because we know their story is ultimately tragic is why we all want them to have that bit of happiness. It is always sad but aren't all stories.
Argh, my heart. This is lovely, and heartbreaking. And How should I know who I’m into? Stuck in Azkaban since I was twenty-one. I was so fucking young, Moony! I don’t know what I am or could be rang so true.
Thank you. The sentence which you quotes, that whole paragraph wrote itself - it was really emotional for me to write it because my heart was breaking for Sirius there too. I'm glad that emotion, hard as it is, came through in the story.
Oh, you really were not joking when you said you were going for all the prompts, were you? This is such a perfect Christmas present, and it really does have that right amount of angst and happiness and just them. It hurts but still, it makes you smile. And like everyone else, I have to quote this particular part; I was so fucking young, Moony! I don’t know what I am or could be . Oh please, do twist the knife, do that! (Seriously, do it.)
Oh, look - you did! “So, I’m the only option? Because no one else is here and you’re bored. Nice to know. You’re drunk. Why don’t you sleep it off? You’re embarrassing yourself enough.” Ow. Ow, ow, ow that's... I feel so horrible for loving fic like this. I'll never believe that Molly was right about Sirius being confused regarding Harry/James, but at this point, he was so tired, and so worn, and few people did not treat him like shit, and yes he drank, and I'm never going to blame him for it. I would have, in his situation. Never gets to be fucking happy, does he? There's always a war or another and... Well, obviously I don't have to go on. But then there's Remus, who's been through a whole different kind of hell, taking care of Sirius when he needs him the most.
Why do I even bother? There are too many emotions happening here right now. Stupid amazing ship. Thank you so, so much for this, I hope you're having a lovely Christmas and new year <3