Disclaimer: All characters here belong to J.K. Rowling.
Originally Posted: February 2004 at the SBRL Group
Author’s Notes: Have you ever read a story including Remus and Sirius and thought, “That’s really good, but I wish it had been slash”? This story was inspired by Black Tie by InFabula. I hereby serve notice that I have shamelessly borrowed several elements from Black Tie, but not the outcome. You can find Black Tie at the Werewolf Registry.
When Remus had agreed to dress for James and Lily’s engagement party at Sirius’s flat and then go with him to the party, he hadn’t meant that he wanted to actually dress in the same room as Sirius. Well, to be quite honest, he did want to, but he rather thought he shouldn’t. Granted, there wasn’t an inch of Sirius’s body that he hadn’t already surreptitiously glanced at and memorized, but that didn’t mean that the real thing was not distracting. Distracting and having a quite noticeable effect upon him. Remus was now discovering that the trousers of his Muggle suit were much less able to conceal his predicament than loose fitting robes.
Remus was trying to keep his distance. He was dressing in the spare room of Sirius’s flat, the one Sirius used as a study and a guest room. After all, it was practically his room. Sirius often coaxed him into staying there on the nights after the full moon.
Sirius, on the other hand, was not cooperating. He was carrying on a conversation with Remus through the open doorways and kept coming into Remus’s room—in various stages of undress—in order to emphasize certain points. The worst was when he came in wearing only boxer shorts and an unbuttoned white shirt. Even for a pile of Galleons, Remus couldn’t have told you a single word that Sirius had said. He could have told you exactly how the shirt drew back when Sirius threw his arms wide while making a point and revealed sculpted abs with one more line of definition on the right side than the left, or how the gleaming whiteness of the shirt contrasted with the line of black hair on Sirius’s belly when the shirt hung straight again. And he could definitely tell you how the boxer shorts gapped open facing the wrong direction when Sirius sat on the bed to pull on a sock.
Now that he was fully dressed, Remus wondered what possible excuse he could use to justify taking a shower. A very cold shower. Thankfully, when Sirius appeared in the doorway again, he was at last fully dressed—almost.
“Please tell me you know how—oh good, you tied yours. Can you help me with this stupid Muggle tie? I’ve never tied one in my life.”
“Not surprising,” Remus said as he held out a hand to take the tie from Sirius. Sirius’s parents hadn’t permitted him to wear any Muggle clothing while he was a child, and after he had begun rebelling against his parents as a teenager, casual clothes had been his Muggle clothing of choice.
Remus looped the silky tie around Sirius’s neck and adjusted the ends so it should come out right—then he hit a snag. He was trying to concentrate on the correct loops and turns, discovering that it did indeed take concentration when trying to tie it mirror-image for someone facing himself, and realizing that concentration was difficult to achieve while Sirius was just an inch away and his warm breath was on Remus’s face. Remus tried to focus on the tie, but just beneath his hands, Sirius’s broad chest was rising and falling in synch with the warm breath ghosting across Remus’s nose and cheeks.
Remus was tempted to briefly stroke the white shirt below his fingertips and use the motions of tying the necktie to disguise his actions. He resisted. He shouldn’t touch Sirius like that, even if Sirius didn’t realize what he was doing. Maybe, maybe, maybe his friends could accept that he was gay without feeling awkward around him—but not if they suspected that he harbored any lustful feelings toward them. Peter was quite safe in that regard; Peter was more of the cuddly teddy bear type, and that wasn’t a turn-on for Remus. James had been safe in that regard for a couple of years; Remus’s early teenage interest in any good-looking male had become more focused on just a few as he grew older. But Sirius—Sirius definitely topped the list of those Remus found attractive.
“I can’t do this,” Remus admitted. “You’re facing me, and it’s the mirror opposite of how I usually tie one.”
“What if I turn around?” Sirius asked as he did so.
Sirius was only a couple of inches taller than Remus, and Remus suspected that he could easily reach the necktie by putting his arms around Sirius’s shoulders. However, he’d only be able to reach by pressing up close behind Sirius. Too close. And although Sirius would probably laugh if the wolf—somehow miraculously tame—tried to hump his leg, Remus didn’t think he’d get the same reaction if he rubbed against Sirius’s ass while in human form. Not for the first time, Remus envied his friends their ability to change species at will and their lack of murderous instincts while transformed. Of course, he knew he’d never dare act on his desires even then.
“Why don’t you sit in the desk chair? I’ll be able to look over your shoulder and see what I’m doing,” Remus said. “And we’ll have the back of the chair between us,” he thought.
“There should be a charm to do this,” Sirius said as he pulled out the desk chair and took a seat.
“There is, but you have to know how to tie it first so you can—uh—” Remus floundered for the correct word.
“Guide the charm?” Sirius suggested.
“Exactly. All done. How’s that?” he asked as he snugged the knot a bit tighter against Sirius’s throat.
“It’s supposed to be. Requiring men to wear neckties is the way Muggle women have their revenge upon Muggle men for the fact that they have to wear high heels.”
“Wizard clothes are much more sensible,” Sirius groused as he slipped a finger between the shirt collar and his throat.
“I’ll tell your mother you said so.”
“Bite your tongue.”
“Biting myself once a month is enough, thank you.”
Sirius, who had been looking in the mirror and checking his hair one last time, suddenly stilled with his fingers still in his hair. He turned his face a fraction of an inch to gaze at Remus’s reflection. Sirius considered nearly anything as fair game for teasing and joking. However, Remus’s self-mutilation was one of the few exceptions.
“Ready to go?” Remus asked in order to change the subject.
Sirius faced Remus with a smile. “Definitely. The sooner we get to the party, the sooner we can leave.”
“I thought you liked parties.”
Sirius shrugged. “A party where I have to be on my best behaviour and pretend to be a Muggle, versus spending some time with you afterward. I’d rather spend time with you. I’m glad you’re staying here tonight.”
“I shouldn’t stay here,” Remus thought. This evening had already offered ample proof that Sirius thought no more of parading half-nude around Remus than he had when they were dorm mates. Sirius trusted Remus to think of him as a friend, not to give him staring roles in his sexual fantasies. “Of course he trusts you,” Remus thought. “He doesn’t know what a perverted freak you are.”
“Perhaps I should just apparate home to my mum’s after the party. I don’t want to be underfoot here. You’re on duty tomorrow, aren’t you?”
“Tomorrow afternoon, and you promised to come back here tonight. I’ve been so busy with auror training that we never spend any time together anymore. Besides, you’ll splinch yourself if you try to apparate pissed.”
“I’m not going to get pissed, and I promised James that I wouldn’t let you get pissed either,” Remus said. “Lily’s nervous enough about us blending in with her Muggle relatives.”
“Of course I won’t get pissed at the party. Do you really think I’d risk the safety of you or my bike by riding drunk? No, we’re getting drunk after the party. I have a bottle of Scotch and two clean glasses waiting for us here.”
“You actually washed a glass for me? I’m so touched. How can I turn that down?”
* * * * *
Lily was showing off both her engagement ring and her fiancé to her aunt and her cousins. Peter was grazing at the buffet table while chatting with school friends. Sirius was in the center of a mixed group of guests and regaling them with one of many “Lily rejecting James” stories. And Remus was on his own. He glanced around for someone in similar circumstances and saw that Lily’s sister was similarly standing alone.
“Excuse me. You’re Petunia, aren’t you?” She looked at him warily and nodded. He extended a hand to her. “I’m Remus Lupin. I’m a friend—”
“Excuse me,” James interrupted, then in a whisper he asked, “Lily’s uncle keeps talking about restoring a classic jaguar. I can tell that he isn’t talking about a cat, so what is he talking about?”
Remus tried not to smirk. “A jaguar is a make of car, a very expensive car. Grab hold of Sirius of pull him into the conversation. He’ll know what it is.”
“Thanks. Don’t know how I’d get through this without you.” And he returned to Lily’s uncle with a smile.
Remus grinned at Petunia. “He’s so clueless sometimes.”
Petunia smiled back. “I didn’t know that James had any normal friends.”
“Normal?” Remus had to laugh. He was undoubtedly the least normal of all of James’s friends. “Do you mean ‘Muggle?’ Because I’m not.”
“You’re a—like them?” she asked with a glance in the direction of James and her uncle laughing at some joke told by Sirius.
Remus nodded. “I’m a wizard. My mother is a Muggle-born witch, like Lily, and I went to a Muggle primary school, so I know a bit more about Muggle life than most of my friends.”
The corner they were standing in suddenly became much more crowded as a very large man put his arm around Petunia’s shoulders and stepped uncomfortably close to Remus. Although they seemed to be the same height, the other man tried to give the impression that he was looking down on Remus.
“Not nice to flirt with other men’s wives,” the large man said. He smiled as he said it. “Just a joke,” his smile implied, but his eyes were hard. “Not joking,” they said.
Before Remus could proclaim his innocence, Petunia spoke up. “Our conversation is already over, Vernon. I just found he’s one of them—like Lily.”
“Why don’t you go see if your mother needs any help in the kitchen?” Vernon asked Petunia.
“Gladly,” she said as gave Remus one last contemptuous glance.
“Lily tells me you’re newlyweds,” Remus said to Vernon in an attempt to make friendly conversation—and to assure the large man that he was well aware that Petunia was already taken. “Congratulations. Where did you—”
“Listen closely,” Vernon interrupted Remus’s question about the honeymoon by poking a finger like a sausage into Remus’s chest, hard. “Petunia’s told me all about the funny business your kind get up to. Spells and charms and love potions. I’m not going to sit by and let you or any of your freaky friends try anything with the normal women here at this party. What you freaks do to each other is your business, but you stay away from my sister and my wife’s relatives, are we clear?”
“Very clear. Believe me, the women at this party are quite safe from me,” Remus said, trying not to smile as he said it. Vernon narrowed his eyes in mistrust. “I failed love potions in school, you see.”
“What about love potions?” Peter asked as he drew near.
“Nothing. Peter, have you met Lily’s brother-in-law, Vernon?”
* * * * *
The party was beginning to take its toll on Remus. Mingling with the Muggle guests was actually proving easier than mingling with the wizard guests. He could entertain Lily’s relatives with highly edited anecdotes of James’s long pursuit of Lily. His former schoolmates and James’s relatives tended to ask more prying questions. To be fair, they weren’t actually prying. They merely wanted to know what profession Remus had gone into after school, and why he hadn’t become an auror like they had assumed he would. Remus’s lack of a satisfactory excuse that didn’t involve lycanthropy was the only reason he resented the questions.
He scanned the room for Sirius, hoping that Sirius was as ready to leave as he. He didn’t hold out much hope. Sirius loved being at the center of attention, and parties were the perfect setting.
“Looking for me?” Sirius asked in his ear. Remus turned with a smile, only to come face to face with both Sirius and a heavy-set woman with an unfortunate resemblance to Vernon. “Marge, I’d like you to meet my friend Remus Lupin. Remus, this is Miss Marge Dursley. Marge is the sister-in-law of Lily’s sister, Petunia.”
“Nice to meet you, Miss Dursley. I met your brother earlier.” Remus smiled pleasantly at the round-faced woman, although he suspected he should be giving Sirius a glare of death.
“Call me Marge, please.”
“Marge breeds bulldogs,” Sirius explained. Then he smiled at Marge and said, “Remus is very interested in dogs. You simply must tell Remus exactly what you were telling me about how to prick the interest of a male who’s reluctant to mate. I need to go help Lily with—something.” Then he whispered in Remus’s ear, “James inflicted her on me; I’m inflicting her on you,” and walked away laughing.
Marge was already explaining, “—think that it’s all about scent, and that is a large part of it, but touch works as well, especially just after he’s licked himself clean. However, you mustn’t touch his testicles as he’ll find that threatening.”
“I can understand that,” Remus managed to say. He nodded as he pretended to listen to Marge’s discourse on the finer points of dog breeding. He managed to keep a straight face by imagining possible revenge scenarios for Sirius. “Too bad Padfoot doesn’t look like a bulldog. Allowing Marge to grope him might do for a start.”
Marge kept stepping closer and closer as she spoke, and Remus found himself retreating in an attempt to maintain a comfortable distance. They’d just passed into the dining room, and Remus glanced around looking for a rescuer. Instead, he caught the eye of Vernon Dursley. And judging by the red flush of Vernon’s face, he had a few more drinks in him than the last time they’d spoken. Not so many, however, that Vernon didn’t recognize Remus. Vernon’s ruddy face deepened into magenta as he looked angrily between Remus and Marge.
“I warned you!” Vernon said angrily as he circled the buffet table and came toward them. “I warned you that I didn’t want any of you weirdoes talking to my sister.”
“Vernon!” Marge scolded. “I’m perfectly capable of choosing who I want to spend time with. I’m not a little girl, you know.”
“Definitely not,” Sirius said from somewhere behind Remus.
“You aren’t helping, Padfoot,” Remus thought. He wanted to reassure Vernon that he has absolutely no interest in Marge, but he struggled for a way to say it without insulting her. Vernon’s fists were already balled into fists as he strode toward Remus, and Remus realized he wasn’t getting out of that room without getting punched. His wand was in his pocket, but he couldn’t use magic on Vernon in front of the Muggles in the room. He didn’t even dare defend himself without magic because he might injure Vernon severely. Vernon might weigh twice as much as he did, but werewolves were stronger than humans, and Muggles were more fragile than wizards.
Sirius laid a hand on Remus’s shoulder and pulled Remus back a step while he himself stepped partially between Remus and Vernon. “You don’t really want to fight with him over your sister,” Sirius said. “It would be a mistake, believe me.” He leaned closer to Vernon and whispered something that made Vernon’s eyes go wide.
Vernon took several steps back from Sirius and Remus, looking at them as if first horrified and then disgusted. Vernon grabbed both Petunia and Marge by the arms. “Lily’s freak friends are worse than I thought,” he said. “We’re leaving. Go get your coats.”
Remus had seen those looks of horror and disgust too many times not to recognize what they meant; Sirius had told Vernon that Remus was a werewolf. Remus didn’t care that Vernon knew, but he did care that Sirius had told him. Sirius had sworn that he’d keep Remus’s secret, yet he’d told Snape. Sirius had sworn that he’d learned from his mistake, and that he’d never betray Remus again. But now he had. Remus didn’t know if he was more disappointed or angry, but he did know that he had to get out of that room and away from Sirius.
Vernon pushed Petunia and Marge past Remus and through the door. He paused on his own way out, giving Remus once last look of disgust. “Bloody Nancy-boy,” he said and spat on him.
Vernon dropped like stone from Sirius’s punch to the face. “Vernon! Oh my God, Vernon!” Petunia shrieked as she fell to her knees by his side. She stared up at Sirius angrily. “You bully! You freak!”
Lily tossed them a kitchen towel to staunch the blood pouring from Vernon’s nose. “Shut up, Petunia,” Lily said. “Vernon started it. He’s lucky that Sirius only punched him.” The threat of what Sirius could have done with magic went unspoken, but was understood. Petunia shut up.
Remus was already on his way out. As he left the house, he heard Sirius calling for him to wait. Remus didn’t check his stride until halfway down the block, then he slowed down and allowed Sirius to catch up with him. “Nancy-boy,” he repeated to himself. “I have no reason to be angry with Sirius. I never asked him to keep my being gay a secret—mainly because I never told Sirius that I’m gay. He didn’t break any promises.”
“You should stay and apologize to Lily and her parents,” Remus said.
“Tomorrow,” Sirius promised. “Lily isn’t angry with me, anyway. She’s angry at Vernon.”
Sirius’s motorcycle waited by the curb. Remus stared at it and hesitated. His mind knew that he had no reason to be angry, but he still felt the anger anyway. He’d been so certain that Sirius was telling his other secret.
“I’m sorry I embarrassed you back there,” Sirius apologized. “I just wanted that stupid whale to realize that you weren’t after his sister. I should have realized that he’d probably be a bloody homophobe and react badly.”
“It’s O.K. It’s better than what I initially thought you were telling him about me.”
Sirius paled and appeared thoroughly chastened. “Once again Sirius speaks without thinking it through, and Remus suffers for it.”
“Suffers? I can handle a bit worse than having a whale spout on me.”
Sirius chuckled and flicked his wand at Remus’s shirt with a simple cleaning charm. Then he offered a motorcycle helmet to Remus. “Are you still willing to share that bottle of Scotch with me? I’ll understand if you aren’t.”
Remus accepted the helmet with a slight smile. There was no way to ride with Sirius without sitting close to him and holding onto him—or at least holding his jacket. He realized that this offer to let him do so was his friend’s way of saying, “Yes, I know you’re gay, and I don’t care.” It reminded him of the way his friends had bestowed the nickname “Moony” on Remus after discovering that he was a werewolf.
* * * * *
“To the unfortunate bulldogs!”
“To the bulldogs!” Remus agreed as he raised his glass and drank to the toast.
Sirius shuddered. “I just got this horrible image of her coming toward Padfoot with hands outstretched.”
“I was contemplating that earlier—revenge against you.”
“She’s enough to put even the straightest bloke off women,” Sirius mused as he refilled their glasses.
“Are you sure she was female? With that mustache, I wasn’t so sure.”
“Male, female, who cares. Ick.” Sirius shuddered again. They each sipped in silence this time, and Remus knew it was because they had strayed close to the matter on both their minds, his no longer secret sexual orientation.
“Do James and Peter know?” Remus finally asked.
Sirius shook his head. “I haven’t said anything to Peter.”
“But you and James talked about it.” That virtually went without saying. James and Sirius rarely had a thought without sharing it with each other.
“I think James knew before I did.”
Remus sighed. He could easily imagine Sirius and James sitting around discussing their suspicions about Remus’s sexuality, and whether or not to confront Remus with the fact that they knew. It was all too much like the scene he had once walked in upon in their dorm room years ago. The main difference, this time they weren’t worried about Remus wanting to tear out their throats, but about Remus wanting to shag them—to shag Sirius—senseless.
“I’d gotten up the nerve to tell you tonight,” Sirius explained. “The Scotch was in case I needed a last minute shot of courage. I guess that’s why it popped into my head to say it to Moby Dick. Not one of my more brilliant ideas.”
“No, it wasn’t, but it wasn’t one of your worst either, so don’t beat yourself up about it. Just accept it as an object lesson in why so many homosexuals chose to stay, at least partially, in the closet.” Remus poured them each another drink of Scotch as he spoke. As he held his up to the light, he laughed. “You’re a mess, Padfoot. You need Scotch to get up the nerve to tell a friend that you’ve figured out he’s gay, but at the drop of a hat, you can out said friend to a bloody wanker like Vernon.”
Sirius stared at him—or tried to. He blinked several times as if he couldn’t quite bring Remus into focus. Remus began to wonder just how much Sirius had to drink at the party.
“Say that again,” Sirius said.
Remus took the half-empty glass out of Sirius’s hand. “Why?”
“Did you just say that you’re gay?”
“No, I just said that I’m Princess Margaret. Of course I just said that I’m gay.”
“Yes, Padfoot, I’m gay. That’s what we’ve been discussing, remember?”
“No, we’ve been discussing that I’m gay.”
Remus was torn between wanting to take a very large swig straight from the bottle and wishing that he hadn’t had anything to drink this evening. “You? But—Vernon—you told him—what did you tell him?”
Sirius glanced down and avoided eye contact, just the way Padfoot would do to Moony to show submissiveness. “I told him that you’re my lover.”
Remus downed the Scotch in his glass and saw Sirius peeking up through his fringe. “Me?”
“You’re the most amazing person I’ve ever met, and I know I’m not good enough for you, and that I always screw things up, so I’m not asking you to give me a chance, although I’ve got to admit, I wish you would give me a chance. You’re smart, and you’re funny, and I love the way just a little of the wolf peeks out when you get really angry, and I love how you try so hard to keep that from happening, and I’ve always wondered if— And you have the most amazing eyes—and the way you bite your bottom lip, just like you’re doing now, God, it drives me crazy.”
Remus immediately stopped biting his lip and began to smile instead.
“And I want to be a better person when I’m with you; I want to be someone you’d want to have around. James said that he’d kill me if I kept telling him about how amazing you are instead of telling you—which is completely unfair since we all listened to him go on and on about Lily for years—but I was afraid that if I told you, you’d feel awkward around me or not want me to help you in the mornings after you transform back—because you’re nude and all—or that you’d kill me for all those times Padfoot has licked you from head to toe once you realized that it wasn’t just because I was a dog that I did it.”
“I always hated that I had to wait an entire month before I’d have an excuse to lick you back,” Remus admitted.
“Really?” Sirius breathed. He began to smile. Remus nodded and smiled back.
As Sirius leaned closer to kiss him, Remus couldn’t help but wonder, “What if this ends badly?” His parents’ divorce had taught him all too well that people rarely remained friends after romance died. And if he lost Sirius as a friend, he knew which side James would chose—there really was no question. And wherever James led, Peter would follow. He was risking all of his friendships on the success or failure of one romance.
Remus could taste, smell, Scotch on Sirius’s breath, although he knew he shouldn’t be able to distinguish it from the same on his own. Sirius’s lips were soft and smooth but firm against his own as they kissed first his top lip and then his lower. Remus wanted to taste more, taste Sirius and not the Scotch. He licked at the parting between Sirius’s lips to encourage him to open more and permit him deeper, even as he felt Sirius doing the same to him. The slide of tongue against lip, of tongue across tongue, of teeth against lip, of fingers through hair, and of palms across shirt.
“It will be worth the risk,” Remus thought.