Chapter 2 : Act 2: Romance
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It was a hot, uncomfortable day to be running errands but Sirius and Remus were out on a mission. Two missions if truth be told. The first was to gather intel on a death eater gathering that was meant to happen right in Knockturn Alley. The other was to get Sirius fitted for his dress robes he was to wear to Lily and James’ wedding. They didn’t have many details on the group they’d be following or the purpose of the gathering they were meant to observe but by all accounts it was a low-risk mission.
“Do you think we’ll stand out wandering down Knockturn together?” Remus asked in a low voice as they exited the Leaky Cauldron.
“You might,” Sirius laughed. Pulling Remus towards an alley between shops, he added, “I’m going in with my disguise.”
Sirius was usually exuberant during missions, if not slightly reckless. Something about putting it all on the line made him feel alive in a way that he couldn’t otherwise experience. In the shade between Quality Quidditch Supplies and a small bakery, Sirius wore an eager grin that worried Remus more than it put him at ease. “Are you sure Padfoot is the best disguise for this mission?” Remus asked with anxiety creeping through him. “I don’t think there are many stray dogs roaming the streets of wizard London.”
After a fleeting kiss, Sirius transformed into a large black dog and took off towards Knockturn Alley. Remus hurried after the large black dog with his eyebrows furrowed with frustration. “Pardon me,” he said to the witches and wizards he bumped into while in pursuit of Sirius.
When he finally caught up with Sirius, they were two stores down from Borgin and Burkes and had caused quite a scene. A small group was watching Remus and Sirius with interest. One of them, a tall burly man, approached Remus with a sinister glint in his eyes.
“Is that your dog?”
“This dog, oh yes,” Remus stammered. “He got away from me – must have seen a cat.”
“Thorfinn, come check out this brute,” the burly man called over to the group still chatting several feet away. Crouching down, the man reached towards Sirius. “There’s a nice doggy,” he cooed.
Sirius growled and barred his teeth. “Careful, he’s a bit tense around strangers,” Remus warned. Reaching into his satchel, Remus pointed his wand at a quill and transfigured it into what he hoped would pass for a leash. “Let me get the leash –“ Remus stopped as he realized there wasn’t a collar on Sirius’ neck. This is something the man who was showing great interest in the black dog noticed as well.
“Won’t get too far with that if you don’t have a collar,” he noted with a grin. “What’s your name?”
“Oh, I’m…” Remus faltered for a moment as he decided between making up a new name or using his real identity. Both options presenting risk – the truth would give this group an easy way to track Remus and Sirius down in the future but lies would risk being found out as spies. “Lupin,” he said firmly. “And this is my dog–“ he stopped again. He called Sirius Padfoot enough around people to make it an easy connection even for the dullest death eater to make with some digging. “-Snuffles.”
“I’m Floyd Gibbon and this here is Thorfinn Rowle,” Gibbon said indicating the man who he called over earlier. “And over there we have the Carrows.”
Remus’ stomach dropped at the names he was presented with. Gibbon was suspected of murdering an auror named Smyth and the Carrows were reported to be some of the most violent of the death eater crowd. Idly stroking Sirius’ head, Remus was trying to think of a way to leave before the conversation moved from lovable pets to something more dangerous.
“Nice to make your acquaintance,” Remus smiled weakly.
“Make our acquaintance?” Called one of the Carrows with a cackle. “I doubt you’d really want to make our acquaintance, boy.”
Sirius started to growl again and stepped protectively in front of Remus. “We should be off. All the attention is upsetting Snuffles,” Remus said, backing away from Gibbon. When he was several steps away, Remus turned and walked away at what he hoped was an easy pace.
Behind him, he could hear Gibbon say, “We got better things to do than chase done a mudblood and his dog.”
Once they were back in the alley where Sirius had transformed, Remus wiped sweat from his brow and leaned against the stone wall. “You are the most reckless, irresponsible,” Remus paused and rubbed his forehead for a moment as if trying to think of a strong enough word to describe Sirius.
The large black dog wore what could be described as a smile as it transformed into a dark-haired man. “Come on, Moony. That went swimmingly well,” he said, running his fingers through Remus’ hair. “That is, it went well until you tried to put a leash on me.” This statement caused Remus to raise his brow. “What? I’m un-leashable.”
“That much is clear,” came Remus’ voice, stifling a shaky laugh. Pulling Sirius closer, he said, “You’ll have to pay for that debacle later.”
Planting a kiss on Remus’ neck, Sirius asked, “What debacle? I helped us gain valuable death eater information. Who knew they were dog people?”
“I’m sure Dumbledore will thank us in person for that crucial information – death eaters like dogs” Remus said, unable to keep his voice sarcasm free. “We should head into Madam Malkins for your robe fitting,” he added looking at the watch on his wrist.
Minutes later, they had been assigned a store clerk to help with the fitting. “It looks like we have a set of dress robes for Sirius,” the young witch said cheerily. Sirius took the garment bag and entered a room to change. “And we have an outfit for Remus,” she added reading the name from a second garment bag.
Remus blinked, caught by surprise with this news. “Oh, I shouldn’t have any –“ he started but was interrupted by Sirius’ voice.
“Yes, you do. Go try it on.”
Taking the bag, Remus went into the second changing room. “I didn’t think Lily would have an outfit for me to wear tomorrow,” he called over the wall.
“You know how she gets – wants all the details hammered out,” Sirius said with a muffled voice.
The garment bag revealed a pair of leather pants and a blue dress shirt. “She wants me to wear this to her wedding?” Remus asked incredulously.
“Just try it on, Moony,” Sirius said rattling the door to Remus’ fitting room.
“How did she know my size?” Remus asked as he slipped the pants on. “Don’t tell me you let her raid my closet.”
“Uh… no, not that.”
The tone of Sirius’ voice told Remus that there was more to the outfit he was trying on than was previously told. It was with a pang of trepidation that Remus opened his fitting room door only to see Sirius’ grin. “I can’t go to James and Lily’s wedding wearing these. They’re… they’re sexy pants,” Remus said in a low voice. “I doubt this is what Lily wants to see me in on her wedding day.”
“Well, I might have influenced her decision here,” Sirius confessed, causing Remus to cross his arms. “Maybe I picked the outfit out myself,” he added, placing a hand on Remus’ bum and giving it a squeeze.
“You’re a dog.” Remus turned and went to go change back into his trousers and top.
“What did you expect?” Sirius asked, barging into Remus’ dressing room. “I am a dog. What? Don’t stop changing on my behalf.”
Rolling his eyes, Remus unbuttoned his shirt deftly. “We’re not shagging here,” he said tersely as he hung the new shirt. “The rehearsal dinner is in an hour and I’d like to shower before we go.”
“We could multi-task,” Sirius suggested hopefully.
“We could,” Remus agreed, unable to hold in his salacious grin.
The rehearsal dinner was a small gathering of close friends who were either in or helping with the wedding. James’ face was alight with nervous excitement and Lily was radiant with the effervescent glow of a bride before her wedding. There was a happy buzz to the chatter now that they had run through the plans for the next day.
“Moony,” James called across the room. Remus approached James so they would not have to shout their conversation. “How’d the pants work out?” he asked, grinning. Then he added, “Padfoot seemed to enjoy picking them out for you.”
“He enjoyed getting me out of them too,” he retorted with a wink.
“Oh jeez, Remus,” Peter snorted from next to James. “Thanks for the visual.”
Remus took a long draw from his pewter mug of mead and took in the room. He caught sight of Sirius with the Prewett brothers and Marlene McKinnon, enjoying a laugh. It was Lily’s voice that brought Remus back to the conversation.
“I’d keep an eye on her if I were you,” she said with a nod towards Sirius.
“On Marlene?” Remus clarified.
“She’s out to get Sirius,” Lily whispered with a significant nod.
This news stunned Remus into momentarily silence allowing James to pipe in. “Doesn’t she know they’re together?” he asked nodding towards Remus.
“She is going to, and I quote, convert him,” Lily told them with a dark look on her face. “I’ve told her not to meddle but,” she shrugged as if to say there isn’t anything to be done.
It was disconcerting to hear that others thought Sirius was on the market like a flat no one lived in. He and Remus had been together for two years and were, at least Remus thought so, happy. “I’ll keep my eyes peeled,” he finally said in a quiet voice.
Sirius had been quite affection that evening which assuaged Remus’ clouding doubt which had been hanging over him since dinner. They were both exhausted after a long day but had spare energy for tender moments before bedtime.
“Tomorrow is the big day,” Sirius muttered sleepily as he pulled the blanket over his shoulder.
“The very big day,” Remus agreed, deciding to stay with Sirius as he drifted into sleep. Remus had insisted on not completely cohabitating after graduation as a way to let themselves be close but still ‘be their own person’ – whatever that was supposed to mean. Sirius was supportive of Remus’ need for individual growth and maturation but often struggled at maintaining separate habitation spaces.
After several minutes, the bed creaked as Remus rolled towards the edge of the bed in an attempt to return to his own room. Despite the attempt at stealth, Sirius was alerted to Remus’ movement. The two men had been utterly aware of one another for nearly two years so it was a bit silly for Remus to try leaving the bed, or doing anything for that matter, without Sirius catching on to his actions.
Snaking his arm around Remus’ waist, Sirius pulled the warm, thin body close as he said, “Stay with me tonight.”
It wasn’t the first time he made the request and it wasn’t the first time Remus denied him. “Not tonight, love,” Remus murmured gently. Not wanting to linger in the awkward moment, Remus made his way across the smooth, wood floor and to his own room. The sheets were a nice contrast to the warm ones Remus just left but they also felt empty and lonely.
For the last few months, Remus wanted to stay with Sirius each night and never leave his side but he was afraid to say so. The weeks before James and Lily’s wedding had been too hectic to have a serious relationship discussion but afterwards seemed an appropriate time to talk about taking their relationship further. Yes, it would be best to let it be a surprise after the wedding. Remus, his eyes fluttering shut with sleep, decided he would keep his feelings close to the chest until the reception.
The wedding was lavish and full of joy. It was a wonderful reprieve from the daily stress and danger of the war. Music was softly playing in the pavilion where they held the reception. Remus was catching up with Benjy Fenwick while keeping an eye on Marlene’s attempts to corner Sirius. They ended up doing a few dances together, as maid of honor and best man it was expected that they spend a good portion of the evening arm in arm.
To his credit, Sirius looked politely disinterested in Marlene’s advances. After a few perfunctory cycles around the dance floor, Sirius placed a cordial kiss on Marlene’s cheek and left her with the Longbottoms before making a b-line to Remus and Benjy.
“I think my best man duties are almost done,” he announced by way of a greeting.
“Now you can enjoy yourself, mate,” Benjy said with a laugh.
“That’s my plan,” Sirius laughed.
Remus opened his mouth to ask Sirius to dance, so they could talk, but hesitated. Despite having planned on using that evening for a romantic rekindling between them, he had to pause and steel himself. It was the moment of hesitation that caused the moment to sail by.
Caradoc, Fabian, and Sturgis hailed Sirius from their table. “I’ll be back in a jiffy, Moony,” Sirius said as he waved to the nearby group.
“I’m going to get some air,” Remus said, excusing himself from the table. Outside he met Gideon who was lighting a cigarette.
“Evening,” Gideon called out, inviting Remus to join him. “Want a drag?”
Remus accepted and inhaled the tart smoke. “I heard you and Fabian had a run-in with some death eaters last week. How’d you get out of that one?” he asked as he handed back the cigarette.
Gideon let out of short burst of laughter. “Mostly luck, I’d say. You and Sirius have been in more than one scrape together.”
“You wouldn’t believe the mess he got us into yesterday,” Remus started with a wry smile. He stopped before retelling the entire story – they hadn’t talked to other Order members about Sirius, James, and Peter being animagi. “We got out without mayhem and destruction but it took some fast talking on my part,” he finished, hoping that Gideon wouldn’t probe further.
Before Gideon had a chance to ask for more details, Peter came out of the tent and joined them. “Bit warm in there, isn’t it?” he said standing to the left of Remus. “Been asking Marlene for a dance but she hasn’t been interested,” he added with a sigh.
“Maybe she just needs a few more drinks,” Gideon offered helpfully.
“That makes me feel wonderful,” Peter huffed sullenly.
Gideon and Remus tried cheering Peter with their falsely optimistic encouragement about him finding the right woman eventually. When words failed to cheer the mousy-haired wizard, Remus ordered more drinks.
“Cheers,” Gideon said raising his glass. “To finding the right woman.” Glancing at Remus, he added, “Or man.”
“Cheers,” Remus chuckled.
With slightly less melancholy in his voice, Peter added, “Cheers.”
Feeling emboldened by liquid courage, Remus decided to find Sirius. His first sweep of the reception was unsuccessful in finding Sirius. Caradoc and Sturgis were still around but they were chatting up women, clearly looking for a bit of wedding-night romance of their own. Not wanting to search frantically for Sirius while he could be in the loo, Remus took a seat and tapped his foot to the music.
He waited through a set of songs, a few lively tunes and one that was meant for slow-dancing, but Sirius was nowhere in sight. The ugly beast of suspicion crept into his mind as he swept the room to see who else was missing. A lead weight dropped in his heart as he noticed that Marlene was nowhere to be seen. Having just been out front of the reception area, Remus decided to explore the back.
Stepping outside in the warm evening air, Remus was on alert for any sounds that indicated more than wedding festivities were afoot. Not too far from the door, Remus heard voices behind a lilac bush. When Sirius’ voice washed over him, Remus felt suddenly queasy.
“Shouldn’t you be snogging someone else?” came Fabian’s voice, it was no more than a whisper yet it carried through the evening air. “Or is this the champagne speaking?”
“It’s much more than the fine champagne…” Sirius murmured.
Not able to idly listen to this exchange, Remus lit his wand and rounded the bush to the great surprise of Fabian and Sirius.
“Remus! I –“ Sirius faltered at the look on Remus’ face. “I can explain.”
“It’s much more than the champagne?” came Remus’ cold voice. “Don’t bother coming home tonight, Black,” Remus said turning away from the two still bewildered faces.
Pausing for a moment by the door, Remus could hear Sirius adding his colored commentary to the situation. Ignoring the latest outburst of “Balls, what do I do now?” Remus took in a composing breath and reentered the party. He couldn’t believe that Sirius had felt so distant that he was seeking comfort in the drunken arms of another man. Perhaps they could work things out but theirs was a romance fractured.
A/N: One more part left! I hope you’ve enjoyed the story so far. The next chapter will be slightly sad. I’d love to hear what you think! -Rose
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