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mustntgetmy in rs_small_gifts

Fic: Night By Night for deiareads

Title: Night By Night
Author: mustntgetmy
Recipient: deiareads
Rating: PG-13
Highlight for Warnings: *Very brief, non-graphic mention of masturbation. *
Word Count: 2,994
Summary: Remus and Sirius wend their way closer together through a couple of late night discussions.
Author's notes: The official prompt I took up was "late night talks," but I also incorporated "Pining!Sirius" and "in denial!Remus."

The party finally ended at half past three. The graduating Gryffindors, having succeeded in thoroughly destroying the common room and sending McGonagall into an apoplectic rage four times throughout the night, were now able to leave Hogwarts with pride. By the time the house-elves began to peek their heads into Gryffindor Tower the only people still in the common room were those that had passed out where they’d been sitting, a rogue Hufflepuff boy, a sixth year Gryffindor girl the Hufflepuff was incoherently but successfully chatting up, an Animagus, and a werewolf. The Hufflepuff and the sixth year left Gryffindor Tower giggling when they noticed all their friends had passed out, leaving the Animagus and werewolf as the only conscious occupants in the common room.

They spoke softly, laughing at a joke so oft-shared it was tattered at the edges. They moved closer to each other, the better to hear each other’s whispered voice and so they would not wake anyone, or so they told themselves.

There was a piece of microscopic dust in Remus’s hair. Sirius brushed it away. His fingers lingered in Remus’s hair, electrically close to the side of Remus’s face.

They stopped talking and then Sirius took Remus’s face in his hand gently and tilted it upwards, making his intentions clear.

“This,” Remus whispered, unable to take his eyes from Sirius’s mouth, “Is a bad idea.”

“You always say that,” Sirius said, moving closer so that all Remus was aware of was the curvature of Sirius’s mouth and his need to feel it.

“I mean it this time,” Remus said and they kissed.

Sirius looked down at Remus, smiling somewhat dewily because of the amount of firewhiskey he’d consumed that night, but cognizant all the same of the line that had been transgressed. He let his hand glide down Remus’s face, excited about feeling the rest of him, and was surprised when his hand was stopped.

“I mean it this time,” Remus said and now his voice was hard, his eyes cold.

For a moment they stood staring at each other, joined by Remus’s grip on Sirius’s hand before Remus released Sirius and, turning on his heel, went for the dormitory.

Sirius stood unmoving for several long minutes after Remus left, his face a mask of incomprehension. Eventually, he found an appealing empty space on the floor and fell asleep among the party detritus.

The summer and autumn after they left Hogwarts James became quite fond of lamenting about how infrequently they saw each other, how ridiculous the taxes were on everything, and in general how trying the life of an Adult was.

His lamentations, as overzealous as his Quidditch diatribes, were usually held within earshot of Peter and Remus, who he saw at least twice a week, and who were keen on reminding James that he received a steady allowance from his parents so his stance on taxes was, as Remus put it, “the ramblings of a brainless flobberworm.”

In private, when he wasn’t keen to be grabbing his back and pretending he felt the onset of arthritis, James told Sirius how pleased he was by how little had changed between them all.

“What could change?” Sirius asked, knowing the answer already.

“People move on, Padfoot. People grow apart. I should’ve known better to think it would ever happen to the Marauders though.” And then he clapped Sirius on the shoulder and Sirius had been lucky that Lily had walked in then because his smile had been a hollow one.

What had happened at the party now seemed as bad as a decision as sending Snape into the Whomping Willow. They had not spoken about it the morning after, or indeed at all. And now, whenever they would get together Remus would make sure to not be alone with Sirius.

This was what Remus did when he was angry. He avoided and made use of silence. There had been other fights, over trivial things and not-so-trivial things, but Sirius didn’t believe Remus had avoided him for so long before, not even over Snape. The kiss had been impulsive, something that occurred to him as he stared down into Remus’s flushed face. The feeling of wanting Remus, however, had lingered in the recesses of Sirius’s mind since at least the beginning of sixth year. Remus could think of the perfect last minute addition to any prank, throw a Jelly-Legs Jinx with deadly accuracy, and had a crooked smile that lit up his light brown eyes. It had seemed natural throughout his sixth and seventh years to stare at Remus more than natural and if he thought about him while he wanked, well, Remus was a good looking bloke, wasn’t he? But kissing him hadn’t gone at all according to plan. Not that Sirius had had a plan, which might have been the problem.

Sirius had turned it over in his mind for months. Every time Remus met his eyes briefly and then quickly looked away or said something too casually, Sirius went over the kiss trying to find the thing he’d said, the slightest movement he’d made that night in order that he might be able to correct the present so that things between him and Remus could at least go back to normal.

Often work kept him out late, and he’d go mumbling incoherently to his bed and sometimes only make it to the sofa. One night, swaying dangerously over the coffee table and reciting his grocery list out loud, he began to think idly of Remus and how he kissed Remus and when his body was about to make acquaintance with the table he had his epiphany.

He bounced up, his tiredness eradicated. Without pausing to consider the time or leave his flat Sirius Apparated outside Remus’s door. Taking only a moment to smooth back his hair, he then pushed long and determinedly on the doorbell.

Sirius waited to hear Remus’s sleepy shuffle, expected to see his tousled hair peep through the door at any second. But he heard nothing. He pushed the doorbell again and listened. There was no sound inside. He held the doorbell down so that it bleated for nearly a minute but still no one stirred inside Remus’s flat.

“Moony?” Sirius called, raising his fist and banging on the door.


Sirius heard Remus’s voice not from inside as he expected, but to his right, from the stairs. He was looking at Sirius in surprise, and Sirius, fist poised above the door, mirrored Remus’s expression.

“Ah, hello,” Sirius said.

“I suppose you were just in the neighborhood at –” Remus looked at his watch, “Ten to three in the morning.” Without waiting for Sirius’s response he deftly moved Sirius aside while hardly touching him, and then opened the door. He kept the door open for Sirius and shut it behind him when he stepped into the flat.

Remus flipped on the lights in the living room that also passed for his bedroom and sat down on his sofa. He looked at Sirius, who was still lingering by the door. Sirius scratched the back of his neck, unsure of how to begin, and asked how Remus was to stall.

Remus sighed and rubbed at the corner of one eye. After a moment’s silence he said, “I’m sorry, Sirius. I haven’t been fair to you lately.”

Sirius began to give Remus an empty and inaccurate account of how he’d been doing lately, before he properly heard what Remus had said, and his face, in understanding this, went two directions at once.

“Broken you, have I?”

“What? No, I just – why are you apologizing to me? I should be apologizing to you.”

Remus wrinkled his nose in confusion. “What for?”

“For –” Sirius tried to find a word that would sum up what had happened without reversing Remus’s sudden good humor. “For June.”

“Are you holding yourself responsible for events within entire months now? The Black ego is legendary, certainly, but I didn’t know it had expanded to such great lengths.”

“I meant…”

“I know what you meant,” Remus interrupted. He shrugged and gave Sirius a soft smile. “It’s all right. I shouldn’t’ve –” He shook his head. “There’s no blame to be laid except for the way I’ve treated you these past few months, and I am sorry about that. I’ve been a prat.”

“Yes,” Sirius said, but he was grinning. Everything was fixed now.

“Something to drink, if you’re going to linger in my doorway all night?”

“As I suspect you have nothing but tea, no thank you.”

“Har har,” Remus said, going into his kitchen and bringing out a glass of orange juice defiantly.

They eyed each other and for a brief moment things were unsettled between them again, but then Remus said, “Sit down, Sirius,” gestured to the secondhand sofa, and as soon as both of them were sitting the feeling had passed.

Remus kicked his shoes off and curled his legs up under him the way Sirius remembered he used to at Hogwarts. He held the glass of juice in both hands and sipped at it like it was something that was either very hot or very cold.

“I hate pulp,” Remus said, looking into the depths of his glass.

Sirius wanted to say “I know,” but knew he was meant to say something about what a miserably picky blighter Remus was and did.

“Wanker,” Remus responded.

“Champion. First class,” Sirius said absently, and then asked, since he was once more beginning to feel the press of all the hours he had been awake, “Why were you out so late, Moony?”

Remus, his mouth to the rim of the glass, eyed Sirius. He took two small sips of juice before cutting his losses and setting the glass on the floor.

“The short of it,” he said, “Is that I was going to get drunk.”

Sirius nodded, accepting this without question.

“And the long of it is that I got fired because my employer found out that the moon has somewhat of a negative effect on me, I’ve been blacklisted, and my rent has gone up.”

Sirius swore loudly and vehemently. A more prudish wizard than Remus would’ve blushed.

“My thoughts exactly,” Remus said. He sighed, looked over at Sirius, and sensing Sirius’s incoming barrage of questioning said, “Don’t worry, I’ll be fine.”

“Moony –”

“Stuff it,” Remus said. “It’s too late for worrying.” Then, as though he’d just realized that Sirius had come in, he asked, “Why are you here?”

Sirius had time to blink in bafflement before Remus went on. “Did you just come here to apologize?”

“Yeah,” Sirius said. “It hit me that the reason you might be angry with me was that I hadn’t apologized.”

“So you bounded over here at ten to three in the morning.”

“Yes.” Sirius grinned.

“Padfoot.” He said it in a half sigh, half murmur of affection, and Sirius felt properly warm for the first time since June.

Remus had enough money to make it to the first of January if he didn’t find another job, and considering how many stern-faced, thin-lipped employers had stared down at him and then cross-referenced his name, it seemed he wouldn’t.

Stretching the money he had and the constant flux of job listings were the thoughts that dominated his day. They were the things he discussed with Sirius, James, and Peter when he saw them, though he was always careful to make a joke of the situation and of himself.

James had taken him aside one evening when the others had gone and offered him money. Remus had refused him. Things were bad, but they weren’t quite that bad yet. James had assured him the offer was always open, and then he made a slightly obscure comment about being very happy nothing had changed between all of them.

That had been November. It was now the second week of December and the money, as much as Remus tried to budget it, was dwindling down.

These were Remus’s daytime thoughts. They were supposed to be his nighttime thoughts as well. The facts of his life were certainly becoming nightmarish enough to bear him into the moon-filled hours, but when he’d sit in his flat after another disappointing interview his thoughts would flee from decreasing numbers to, of all things, Sirius.

It had been juvenile to ignore Sirius the way he had and things were better now that they were speaking again, but the discomfort that Remus had felt in the instant aftermath of their kiss lingered. He would sit, his forkful of leftover what-have-you hovering for minutes in the air, thinking about how deeply Sirius stared into his eyes sometimes, how it would make him blush and turn away and start a new conversation. How the night he’d been fired he’d actually meant to go to a club and find a bloke who looked just like Sirius or who looked nothing like Sirius to clear the kiss from his memory.

How when he panicked during the day about not having a place to live or not having any money, all he had to do was think of the smell of soap, the soft touch of a hand against his cheek, and the deep gray color of Sirius’s eyes up close.

But, and at this point the leftover what-have-you would make its way to his mouth, there was a valid, perfectly rational reason he’d left Sirius that night. There were several reasons, in fact. Remus had even taken the liberty of writing them down. Reasons one through four dealt with the fact of being a werewolf, and how another person entering a relationship with a werewolf was a very foolish thing indeed (even if that person could become hairy themselves). Reasons five through seven had to do with not being in a relationship with a friend, while reasons eight and nine expressed a perfect happiness with being single, thank you very much. From reason ten until reason fifteen, Remus went into depth on why Sirius was expressly wrong for him. Reason fifteen, the most exasperated reason, was written sloppily and was underlined and read, “He’s Sirius Black. Do I really have to go on?”

This list, occasionally edited, did little to prevent Sirius from bursting in on Remus’s thoughts every night. He often went to sleep much the way he had the night he had kissed Sirius: wanting to run back to Sirius, and staying put because he was sure that to go to Sirius would be a worse idea than inviting Snape to the Shack himself.

Yet against all reason Remus found himself alone with Sirius in Sirius’s flat a few days after December’s full moon, still sore from the transformation, and setting up his third chess game against Sirius to take his mind off the residual pain. James and Peter had just left, both of them unwilling to sit through another lengthy game of chess that didn’t get interesting until the last five moves. Remus would’ve left too – it was late – but they were tied, and now it was a point of pride to beat Sirius, whose king he used to be able to take with seven moves in first year.

With ten moves in and no pieces yet taken Sirius broke the silence.

“I resent this effort to distract me,” Remus said. “Also, I didn’t hear you.”

“I was talking to James,” Sirius began.

“I’ve noticed that occasionally happens,” Remus said, eyeing the board, and then decisively ordering one of his knights to move.

“Do you need money?”

“I have enough money to make it to New Year’s. I’ll find another job before then.” Remus watched as Sirius took the bishop he’d been planning to move on his next turn.

“And your flat?” Sirius asked.

“I’ll be fine,” Remus said, and one of his pawns took one of Sirius’s.

“You could live with me.”

“You and James,” Remus said, looking over the board and realizing that Sirius was blocking him at every turn on the board, “gentleman of generosity.”

Remus waited, expecting Sirius to answer with something like “and masters of mischief,” but instead there was a long silence as Sirius sent his kingside castle idly to the left-hand corner of the board.

“Is that a yes?” Sirius asked quietly.

“To living with you?” Remus asked, startled.

“That,” Sirius said, “Would be a no. It’s your move.”

Remus gaped at Sirius, who was looking down at the board, and then he looked at the board himself and could not reconcile the patterns he found there. He groped for something to say so that he and Sirius would not spend another three months avoiding one another, for some reason to put Sirius’s mind at ease. He began to talk.

“I just can’t pay –” his eyes alighted on his queen and he saw a single opening where he could take Sirius’s queen and check Sirius. Remus saw that the blockade around all his pieces that had only moments before seemed so constricting had been illusory, and could be maneuvered through. Had that been the real reason? Fear of someone being too close to him?

“Oh,” he said out loud, his eyes wide.

Sirius looked up.

“I can’t pay half your rent, Padfoot,” Remus said, meeting Sirius’s eyes.

Sirius shrugged. “If you clean the bathroom I’ll consider it paid.”

Without looking down, Remus tipped over his own protesting king.

Sirius blinked. “We weren’t finished.”

“No, we aren’t.”

And Remus leaned over the chessboard, the pieces grumbling, and he whispered, “You’ve got a piece of dust in your hair.”

Sirius flushed. “Are you teasing me?”

Remus put his hand in Sirius’s hair and brushed away a mote of dust that wasn’t there. “I’ll clean the bathroom if you let me stay.”

Sirius laughed softly, half nervously, half his usual bark. “When can you move in?” he asked, the inches closing between them.

“Tonight,” Remus murmured, the word having time enough to imprint itself on Sirius’s lips before they kissed a second time. And then a third. After that, they lost track.


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Thank you!
Your genius mix of humor and lush solemnity, leaves me smiling. In fact, I have to say that I enjoyed your writing style immensely.

This story was much more than story. Of course, the plot was engaging - how could anyone not love angsty, indecisive Remus and charmingly generous Sirius who wears his heart on his sleeve? But it was more than plot. It was how you told the story. You had passages of such gentle beauty (They spoke softly, laughing at a joke so oft-shared it was tattered at the edges. They moved closer to each other, the better to hear each other’s whispered voice and so they would not wake anyone, or so they told themselves.) mixed with lovely bits of humor (Often work kept him out late, and he’d go mumbling incoherently to his bed and sometimes only make it to the sofa. One night, swaying dangerously over the coffee table and reciting his grocery list out loud, he began to think idly of Remus and how he kissed Remus and when his body was about to make acquaintance with the table he had his epiphany.). And that was utterly, utterly effective.

I really, really enjoyed this.
*blush* Thank you so much for your kind words! I'm really glad you liked it.
Ahh, that's lovely. I liked Remus's list. Silly boy.
Isn't he? Thank you!
They spoke softly, laughing at a joke so oft-shared it was tattered at the edges.


And this bit --

“I mean it this time,” Remus said and now his voice was hard, his eyes cold.

For a moment they stood staring at each other, joined by Remus’s grip on Sirius’s hand before Remus released Sirius and, turning on his heel, went for the dormitory.

Sirius stood unmoving for several long minutes after Remus left, his face a mask of incomprehension. Eventually, he found an appealing empty space on the floor and fell asleep among the party detritus.

(and the sentences leading up to it, I just didn't want to paste it all)

-- I read that bit at least three or four times, just trying to figure out how you did it. MAN, I can just see it so perfectly in my head, and it's so heartbreaking. I love it.

So, so well done. I really enjoyed in denial!Remus!
Thank you very much! I'm particularly proud of how the opening section came out and I'm glad you enjoyed it.
This seems so genuine, it's lovely to read. I particularly liked their conversation after Sirus apoligised, and for some reason I really liked the first paragraph too. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed it.
Oh, those last few lines completely melted my heart. I'm so glad Remus finally came to his senses, both in terms of being with Sirius and swallowing his pride enough to accept help. I hope they'll be able to make a happier future for themselves. Nice work!
Thank you! It was a great challenge to get Remus to come to senses, since he's so damn stubborn, ha.
I love the chess connection, that's really clever. really well-written fic!
I'm glad the chess scenario worked for you. Thank you!
Lovely. It feels sweet and a little bit sad at the same time.

This line seemed very true to me:

This was what Remus did when he was angry. He avoided and made use of silence.
Haha, yes, that's very much how I imagine Remus after the Prank too. Thank you!
Thank you very much!
It seems so typical that Remus would write a list of all the reasons this relationship wouldn't work. And Sirius' delayed apology was also so in character. This was funny and thoughtful and I liked it very much.
Yeah, Remus's list screamed out at me as something I'd have to do because it was so him. Oh, Remus. Thank you very much!
No man or beast should be forced to enter the hell that is Sirius Black's bathroom. Thank you very much!

(Your icon is really cute!)
Aw, Remus and rent problems! *squishes him. And James too and his taxes.* I love adult details here and how the Marauders are slowly learning what it's like being out of Hogwarts.

Also, I love how you use dialogue in relation to the scene and atmosphere. They add tension and they say things out loud, but we know that something else is happening silently. Very nice balance, and I love it, as well as the game of chess. :)
Thank you very much! I'm glad the dialogue and the chess game worked for you.
Oh, this is so wonderful! *loves* <33333
Thank you!
This is so beautiful! I love the pacing of this fic, and how you pack so much into such clever lines. The way you repeated the "dust in your hair" trick, the way James keeps on harping on about how nothing has changed as though he is trying to convince himself that nothing has changed. The way Remus jokes about the Black's ego being so large that Sirius finds himself responsible for a whole month's actions, without Remus realising himself that holding himself so aloof and unaccepting of well-meant help is a kind of arrogance in itself. And finally, as others have mentioned, the use of chess as an analogy to their thoughts and their decisions. I love all the little things, the underlying melancholy in the large part of the fic, and how hopeful and lovely the ending is without being overly fluffy.

In short, this is wonderful, and I really love it ♥
Thank you so much for your in-depth comment! The reflective elements of this fic (James going on about how nothing has changed, the Black ego comment) came together in a kind of serendipitist way, and I'm really glad they worked for you.
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