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brighty18 in rs_small_gifts

Fic - Cold Feet - For Closet Zebra

Title: Cold Feet
Author: brighty18
Recipient: closet_zebra
Rating: PG-13? Sorry, I am dreadful at ratings.
Highlight for Warnings: * swearing, implied sex, mild drug use, a tad of angst, a dash of hurt-comfort, sexuality revealing Christmas trees, rude fairies, snowballs, references to gay Yetis, and clueless Harry *
Word Count: Just under 3,000
Summary: Sirius has anxiety and cold feet - but not in regards to Remus.
Author's notes: Well, I tried my best to work in all three of your prompts. I know you wanted: Remus laughing with snow in his hair, this picture, and Sirius had cold toes. I hope you like it, and here’s wishing you the happiest of holidays.
Also, a huge thanks to my fab beta, leashy_bebes

Remus glanced over at the sleeping form beside him, noting the prominent notches on Sirius’ spine. Sirius snorted and rolled uneasily in his sleep, instinctively seeking the warmth of Remus’ body. Or perhaps it wasn’t sleep at all, really. The past two weeks had been difficult for Sirius, his mood fading as the excitement of Christmas waned, and Harry’s return to Hogwarts loomed in the not too distant future.

It had started off well, at least. Though Remus had not been present, he’d heard through Harry (and, of course, Sirius himself) how confidently Sirius - unaccustomed as he was to counseling families through tragedy - had handled the Weasley family the night of Arthur’s attack. As a former teacher, Remus knew all too well that kids were often difficult – and in times of great stress that difficulty was heightened. Fred, apparently, had yelled at Sirius, implying that the man was unwilling to risk his own neck for the Order. But Sirius had shown surprising dignity and composure, letting the comment slide and offering nothing but kindness in return. “The twins are impulsive, to say the least,” mused Remus. “Perhaps Sirius was able to recognize that same attribute in himself?” Or so he hoped.

And things had only improved from there. When he realized that the house would be filled for the holidays, Sirius was thrilled, decorating the house with a festive flair that did little to conceal his sexuality. Naturally, Remus had teased him mercilessly about this, provoking many a self-deprecating laugh and a few of the rare, brilliant smiles he so treasured.

“That, my love, is surely the gayest Christmas tree in existence,” he’d proclaimed as he watched Sirius fussing with the brightly colored fairies.

Sirius barked out a laugh and continued mock-glowering at the tree. “Too much yellow near the top,” he’d snapped to the brightly glowing beasts. “You there! And you lot! Move down!” Remus could not fail to notice that at least one of the disgruntled creatures gave his boyfriend a rather questionable two-fingered salute before descending to a lower branch. But Sirius had merely laughed it off, kissed Remus, and continued to tinker with the tree until, in the end, it resembled a neon explosion of rainbow cheer.

Harry, unsurprisingly, had adored it. In fact, despite the boy’s unpredictable dark mood swings, both men had very much enjoyed spending time with Harry over the holiday. And that joy had been reciprocated. In fact, there were several moments in which Sirius had been on the verge of telling Harry the truth about his love life. But, as always, something had intervened - and usually in the form of Ron or Hermione or a small of explosion of twin-based chaos. Still, both men had the sense that Harry would have been somehow accepting - had he had the chance to understand.

Unfortunately, like all good things, holiday cheer must come to an end. Despite Sirius’ enthusiasm – not to mention his hospitality and flair for decorating – the Weasleys inevitably withdrew into themselves, rallying around the ailing Arthur and pushing Sirius into the shadows. Too often they took Harry along with them on these journeys, leaving Sirius to wander the house alone, his mood ever darkening as he watched the bright, family interactions around him. He took to spending more and more time in Buckbeak’s room, seeking solace in the beast’s stoic company and low, comforting hum. “Buckbeak gets me,” Sirius would say. And Remus knew this to be true. Sirius had always had an affinity for animals, and Buckbeak was no exception.

Still, no matter how hard Remus tried to coax him into happiness, Sirius withdrew further. Molly uncharitably called it “a fit of the sullens,” but Remus knew better. It was not that Sirius was feeling unsociable, but that he felt unsocialized. Warm and wonderful as the Weasleys could be, they had their own family culture and that culture rarely included outsiders such as Sirius. Remus, too, felt the slight sting of rejection, but, as a werewolf, he was far more accustomed to it. Sirius, however, was beside himself.

“I miss Prongs,” he’d told Remus one night after a particularly awkward evening with the Weasleys.

“Of course you do, Pads,” Remus had said, pulling his boyfriend close. “We all loved James and Lily.”

Sirius had given him a solemn look and shrugged sadly. “But it’s more than that, Moony. When we were Marauders, things made sense. Jokes were funny. Stories were interesting. And…” he paused, fiddling forlornly with a loose thread on the cuff of his robes. “People were much more fun,” he continued.

Again, Remus understood. It was only natural that he’d feel that way. Azkaban had not been kind to Sirius’ social skills, and being in a foreign situation only made things worse. Years ago, Sirius was the Marauder with the impeccable sense of timing. They’d all been witty – even Peter – but Sirius’ tongue was legendary. But now? Well, as much as Remus hated to admit it, now Sirius occasionally laughed too hard at his own jokes or pushed a comedic moment longer than strictly necessary. Long, awkward pauses sometimes followed things he said, causing Sirius to lapse into periods of fitful silence. Alone with Remus or Harry or even in small groups of Order members he was fine, but large parties – especially parties of loud, red-headed houseguests, made him feel increasingly ill at ease. Frankly, Remus sometimes wished they would all go away. Grimmauld Place was hardly cheery, but at least alone, they could try to scrape together a life for themselves.

Sirius moaned softly in his sleep, curling into a ball and pressing his cold feet into the small of Remus’ back. That was it. There would be no sleeping now. Remus sat up and reached for the photograph on Sirius’ nightstand, smiling sadly at his own image flitting in and out of the frame. The framed photo had been his Christmas gift to Sirius, part of a series of happy memories. In the picture, a much younger Sirius, grinning madly with delight, lobbed endless snowballs at his best mates. James, red with the exertion of their mock battle, levitated an enormous - yet decidedly unspherical - wad of snow over his opponent as Peter cowered in the distance. Predictably, the wad missed its intended target, exploding over Remus’ head and showering him with white powder. Photo-Remus laughed and laughed, shaking his frozen locks and sending a spray of wet snow into Sirius’ face as he bent to kiss him. Real-Remus sighed, tracing a long finger along the outline of photo-Sirius’ cheek. It had been a beautiful night.

Ironically, it was that very adventure that Sirius had been attempting to explain to Harry when the latest negative incident occurred. They’d been gathered in the kitchen, preparing a punch for their New Year’s Eve party, when Harry had asked about the photograph.

Sirius had smiled his rare smile and immediately launched into the sordid tale of an illicit midnight excursion to the top of the astronomy tower and how it had ended in a night of screaming off rooftops, impromptu snowball battles, and a rather fortunate escape from Argus Filch and a band of roving prefects.

“So, why’d you sneak out in the first place?” Harry had asked, and Sirius - who’d been utilizing a surreptitious Concealment Charm to add an entire bottle of Firewhiskey to the eggnog - dodged the question deftly.

“Oh, I think we just needed some air, Harry,” he’d mumbled, giving Remus a rakish wink. Yes, it was a rather lame excuse, but thankfully Harry was too clueless to push the issue, thus ensuring that Sirius would never have to admit to his godson that the four of them had snuck out of the dormitory because James Potter had produced a bag of some of the best Muggle weed in the British Isles. Well, actually, he’d stolen it from Remus, but that was another story.

“And the worst part about it was that my feet were so cold they turned blue,” Sirius had continued. From the end of his wand, he produced a small, violet flame to heat the illicit eggnog to drinking temperature. “And Moony refused to help me, claiming he didn’t believe that toes actually turned black before they fell off.”

“No, I merely didn’t believe that yours would,” Remus had corrected. “James did though - and he earned himself a face full of your foul foot odor for his pains.”

Harry had looked delighted, but it was Ron that interrupted the reminiscence with a bewildered shrug. “Sirius, you really like talking about the past, don’t you?” he’d asked with childish nonchalance.

“And it’s not as if we’ve not heard this story before,” George added under his breath.

Apparently, the comment stung.

Sirius had stiffened, shivering that inward shiver that Remus recognized as social anxiety. He opened his mouth to speak, but Ginny, of all people, got there first.

“But Harry hasn’t,” she’d spat disdainfully. “Did it not occur to you fools that perhaps he might enjoy hearing stories about his father? Or were you so wrapped-up in your own idiocy that you failed to notice? Garden gnomes have more sensitivity!” She gave her brothers an icy glare and stomped out of the kitchen. “Boys!” she grumbled as she disappeared into the darkness of the hallway.

For a moment, Remus had the bright, fleeting hope that the evening would be saved, but Sirius merely looked deflated and half-heartedly continued with the story until even Harry looked bored. Watching the fiasco, Remus could not help but fume at the unfairness of the situation. Of course Sirius meant well. He was trying. And if he carried a joke too far, well, it was because he actually thought it was funny!

Sirius had excused himself to bed not long after that, forcing Remus to wait what he thought was a socially acceptable amount of time before joining him. Even still, Ginny had given him a wink as he made his way up the stairs. “Honestly, sometimes that little vixen is a bit too perceptive for her own good,” he’d thought as he bid her goodnight.

But now the room was stuffy, Sirius was restless, and Remus was entirely unable to sleep. Suddenly, a splendidly inappropriate idea occurred to him. Fishing around beneath the bed, he retrieved a small bag which he quickly shoved into the pocket of his faded, plaid pyjamas.

“Sirius,” he whispered, shaking his boyfriend’s shoulder. “Wake up! It’s the New Year!”

Sirius blinked blearily. “Wha?” he began.

Flushed with sudden adrenaline, Remus kissed him hard on the lips and then dragged him from the bed. “Get up, love. We’re going to celebrate.”

Shrugging, but failing to entirely conceal his excitement, Sirius allowed himself to be shoved into an old, woolen dressing gown, as thin leather slippers magically placed themselves on his feet.

“Shhhhh,” cautioned Remus, rubbing a gentle finger over his lover’s lips. Sirius smiled into the darkness, and the two made their way down the night-hushed hallway and up the stairs.

The staircase narrowed as they neared the roof, and Sirius turned and gave Remus a knowing wink. “I think I know what we’re doing,” he whispered, but Remus shushed him with a kiss.

“Well, we’re not going to be doing it of you wake the whole damned house,” Remus countered.

Outside the snow was falling and the cold January air stung their lungs, but the pain was nothing compared to the unlikely freedom of a midnight romp. Reaching into his pocket, Remus pulled out the bag of weed. “Been saving this for a good long bit,” he chuckled, breath curling into the winter air in pale puffs.

“Hardly,” laughed Sirius, expertly rolling the joint and lighting it with a wordless Incendio. “You’ve had those plants growing in the cupboard for ages.” He took a deep drag and passed to Remus who, truthfully, could not deny the accusation. For a few, brief, glorious minutes, the two smoked in silence, the lights of London shining beneath them as soft, white flakes settled on their hair and shoulders.

Through the haze of falling snow, Sirius looked younger, happier, more at ease with the world, and Remus longed to take a photograph of the moment, capturing it forever in his memories. “I love you, Padfoot,” he began, “and…”

But before he could finish the sentence, a well-packed snowball smacked him hard in the face. “And… you’re going down,” he finished instead. Abandoning the stub of his joint, he packed a fresh ball of snow and hurled it toward Sirius with deadly aim, hitting the other man square in the nose.

“Oi!” yelled Sirius, “That was uncalled for!” But the next three snowballs, launched in rapid-fire succession, told a different story. This time Remus ran, ducking behind a chimney for cover only to face a shower of snow from behind. He whirled to face Sirius, who stood there smirking.

“Apparation is most unfair, love,” laughed Remus as he gathered snow for another ball.

“Well, as they say, all’s fair in love and snowball fights.”

“And who, precisely, says that?” asked Remus, stifling a most unmanly giggle. Frankly, Sirius looked hilarious, frozen hair sticking up all directions, pyjamas wet to the knees with melted snow.

“I do,” countered Sirius, launching another ball. “And my word is sterling.”

“And since when do I take the word of a gay Yeti?”

Sirius barked out a laugh. “And how precisely, Mr. Moony-expert-on-Himalayan-wildlife, does one determine a Yeti’s sexuality?”

“Quite simple, Pads,” replied Remus, “by the degree of poufiness of his Christmas tree.”

A loud guffaw rang through the winter air, and a light flipped on in a flat across the street. Sirius’ laughter died on his lips, and he took a hesitant step closer to Remus. Sensing a possible trap, Remus dodged to the right, losing his footing on the icy tile and plunging headlong into a powered drift.

“I was going to say,” began Sirius, helping Remus to his feet, “that you looked every bit as gorgeous as you do in my photograph.” He brushed the crusted flakes from Remus’ fringe, and placed a small kiss on his frozen lips. “But now you just look silly,” he added.

And Remus laughed.

“Too bad Filch’s not here, Moony,” sighed Sirius. “Padfoot could use a good run.”

Remus gave a snort of derision and shuffled closer to his boyfriend, slippered feet still losing traction on the snow-covered roof. “Well, I for one, am quite glad he’s not,” he murmured. “I can think of some rather adult adventures I’d rather him not witness.” He launched himself at Sirius, throwing his arms around the shivering man, and kissing him deeply. For a moment, the world was reduced to warm, chapped lips and probing tongues.

“This is nice, Moony, ” murmured Sirius, pulling back for a moment and gazing into his lover’s eyes. He leaned in and placed a feather-light kiss on Remus’ lips.

And Remus knew exactly what he meant. It was nice. Although only a brief escape it, it was truly wonderful to be free of the odd stares and uncomfortable silences – to simply be themselves.

Sirius deepened the kiss and then pulled back once more. “Except…” he began, gazing solemnly at Remus.

Remus stiffened, the cold deepening around him as worry chilled his bones. “Except what, Pads?”

“Except for the fact that my toes are frozen.”

“Oh, no,” sighed Remus, “not again.”

“Siriusly, Moony, I’m quite sure I have frostbite. Were I to remove my slippers right here and now, my toes would surely be blue on their way to black. And that’s only a few short steps from oedema!”

“Then keep your slippers on,” chuckled Remus.

“But they’re wet!” whined Sirius whilst suppressing a grin. “I’m positive that I at least have chilblains.”

“Fine,” conceded Remus, “we’ll go back down to the bedroom, and I’ll try to think of a way to warm you up.”

Sirius arched an eyebrow as they headed for the trapdoor that led to the stairs. “Oh, I can think of a way, Moony. Several ways in fact.” He poked his boyfriend lightly in the ribs. “We both know how you like toe sucking.”

“Ew!” snorted Remus, “I am most certainly not sucking on your red, blistered, chilblain-riddled toes.”

“They’re not red, Moony, they’re blue! I told you that.”

“Great, your toes are as rainbow-hued as your damned tree,” chuckled Remus under his breath.

“Don’t think I didn’t hear that,” whispered Sirius as they made their way down the silent hallway to their cozy, fire-warmed bedroom.

Seventy-three minutes, three shots of Firewhiskey, and a rather vigorous lovemaking session (thankfully, sans toe sucking) later, Remus and Sirius were curled-up in bed, safe, warm, and sated. Shirtless, Sirius dozed lightly, shifting in his sleep and mumbling something about hexagonal snowballs and weak eggnog. A light sheen of post-coital sweat coated his back, and the fire burned bright in the hearth, sending extraordinary heat into the room.

“Myfeetarehot,Moony,” he murmured. Still, he failed to unspoon himself from Remus.

Sighing, Remus shifted the covers to slightly expose their feet which were twined together at the edge of the bed. He curled closer to Sirius, breathing in the heady scents of snow and sweat and sex.

“NowI’mcoldagain,” grumbled Sirius, and Remus nudged the covers back over their feet.

The scene was repeated several more times until Sirius finally settled down and admitted he was comfortable.

“You’re not easily satisfied, are you, Pads?” Remus whispered.

“I’m satisfied with you…”

Remus smiled into the darkness. Despite his ever-changing foot discomfort, for the moment, Sirius was satisfied. He had Remus, he had Harry, and he was comfortable and appreciated and loved. Maybe that would be enough.


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AWH. This is lovely. I felt genuinely bad for Sirius with the whole social problems thing - I think it's definitely believable. 12 years in Azkaban can't be good for anyone ;-;

Lovely <3
Thank you! I think he was by no means insane, but I do think he was beautifully damaged. Honestly, after spending that much time by oneself, the social world (especially of the Weasleys) would feel very foreign and alienating. And, like many big families, they have their own culture and don't really understand outside-the-family thinking.

Edited at 2009-12-02 02:49 am (UTC)
♥_♥ boysboysboys I love them. And this put me in precisely the festive mood needed.

Edited at 2009-12-01 04:11 pm (UTC)
Awww! *snuggles them* Love love love Sirius's nearly incoherent mumbling about hot then cold feet! I have that exact same problem. And the poor dear, I felt his pain for his social anxiety. It can't be easy, but he's doing a brave job of it. ♥ Much love for this story!

I can't regulate my body temperature well, either. Too hot or too cold. Always.

And thank you for seeing Sirius as brave here. I think of him as such, but such courage is easily overlooked.
Thank you! I am glad that you enjoyed it.
Yay, New Year's and weed, it's the best combination! I love how they are so mischevious and how Sirius carries the jokes too far; it's so believabe. And oh god, the rooftop snowball fight! You should seriously put up a "Do not attempt this at home, or the fire department will be scraping you off the pavement" warning, because I'm one of those dumb kids who would totally go and repeat it. It sounds just that awesome, and now I want to go do it :)
Yay, New Year's and weed, it's the best combination! Truly.

And please do not fall off a roof and sue me and hurt yourself. LOL. Siriusly, though, I kinda pictured a flat roof, but still I'd suggest not running on any snowy surface.
Thank you!! I'm glad you liked it.
New Years on the snowy roof, there's a wonderful vision! Thank you!
Thank you!! I'm glad you liked it.
That was gorgeous! I love the post-Azkaban relationship you've created for them, loved the teasing and banter between them. Your Sirius is beautifully cracked and damaged, and your Remus is just - *dreamy sigh* - perfect! I loved the recreation of their night in the snow, and the ending is so bittersweet. Beautiful job, hon. *hugs*
THANK YOU!!! In some respects this is my favorite era because it is so complicated. I think of Sirius as being sane, but having some PTSD-like issues (gawd knows he lived through a lot.) And being "out in the social world" would doubtless be confusing for someone in that position. Poor guy. But Remus? To me, Remus "gets it," because not only does he love Sirius, but he understands the concept of alienation first hand.
Gahh! So sweet, especially the end ("I'm satisfied with you.").

And I laughed out loud at this --

“That, my love, is surely the gayest Christmas tree in existence,” he’d proclaimed as he watched Sirius fussing with the brightly colored fairies.

Fairies on the tree! Love it. And then again at this --

...and Sirius - who’d been utilizing a surreptitious Concealment Charm to add an entire bottle of Firewhiskey to the eggnog...

I just love the bits of magic thrown into a story that is really more about human (well, you know) problems/relationships. And also that you used the prompts in the photograph, and then revisited them. Ok! I'm finished! Well done!
Thank you so much! What a wonderful comment.

I adore magic in the everyday detail of life. After all, it's the everyday details that make-up our own lives. We brush our teeth and do the dishes and drive to work or school. They do it, too, but, of course, magically.
oh, this is so lovely! i don't read too many OotP-era fics, simply out of preference, but this was just such a nice read. inadvertently outed by his flamboyant christmas tree!sirius ftw! :D and remus was patient and lovely and GINNY ♥

great job! <3
Thank you! That is quite the compliment. I actually love this era because it is so complicated, but I hate too much angst, so I can totally relate. I don't see Sirius as insane, but he does deal with many PTSD-like issues. Poor guy, he's been through a lot.

And thank you for saying that about Ginny. I can't bring myself to be a Ginny-hater and she's rather fun to write.
So awesome! I'm ready for Christmas trees and snowball fights yea!!
Thank you!! I'm so glad you liked it!
Awww! That was really sweet! (And a bit sad, but way to go, Ginny! W00t!) Love the "Make the Yuletide Gay" Christmas tree! Hee!
Thank you! I'm so glad you liked it. I was kinda going for bittersweet and I'm so glad it worked.

And I can't bring myself to really be a Ginny-hater. She's bright and brave and certainly has her moments. I honestly do think that she'd "get it" on a level that he brothers never would.

"Make the Yuletide Gay." LOL

Ah, the bittersweet era. Sigh............ But it's lovely to think that they made the most of their time together. I especially noted that Marauders grow older but never grow boring!

“And since when do I take the word of a gay Yeti?”

Sirius barked out a laugh. “And how precisely, Mr. Moony-expert-on-Himalayan-wildlife, does one determine a Yeti’s sexuality?”

“Quite simple, Pads,” replied Remus, “by the degree of poufiness of his Christmas tree.”

You have NO idea how glad I am that my Christmas tree isn't up so that I don't have to look at it and judge it's poufiness!
Thank you for your lovely comment. I do love this era precisely for its bittersweet complexity. They've grown older, they've been through hell, but they are still, at heart, boys. And they still cling to the happiest times of their lives. But, at the same time, I really do think that these two learned and grew together during this era. They simply love each other THAT much.

Yeah, my tree is generally pretty damned poofy, too. LOL. Actually, the tree bit (in fact, Sirius' decorating) reminds me of that "We Need A Little Christmas" song from Mame. Yeah, I know that's pretty gay, but there is such beautiful desperation in that song (when taken in context of the musical.)

Edited at 2009-12-02 04:01 am (UTC)
The gay Christmas tree had me in stitches :D

Poor damaged Sirius! At leats he had Remus with him.

This was lovely, in a sad and funny way, at the same time.
Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Yes, Sirius is damaged. Not insane, but damaged. I think of it as something akin to PTSD and I imagine that attempting to fit in with the "social world" of the Weasleys would be quite difficult in many ways. Big families are cultures unto themselves, are they not?
Thank you! What a thoughtful comment!

I cannot imagine how awful Azkaban would be, but I imagine Sirius suffering from what we would call PTSD. The rest of the world, the social things, the subtleties of complex family interactions, would be baffling to someone who has spent so much time alone. And, whilst the Weasleys are wonderful, they are, very much, a world unto themselves. All big families are. In fact, I see them as being very outward (or extroverted) in their thinking. That's not a bad thing, just different from the small, intimate world of Sirius and Remus.
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