Title: None [part of the Pack Behavior series]
Fandom: Harry Potter
Rating : T
Word count: 2906
Summary: Ever since Remus tried to kiss him, Sirius has been terribly confused. This is exacerbated by Remus’ avoidance resulting in lots of sensual frustration
Warnings: Awkwardness, allusion to depression, mention of self-hatred, asexual and bisexual erasure stemming from ignorance, curse words, ableist slurs.
Author’s note: Remus is bisexual and Sirius is asexual, but as this is taking place in the wizarding world and during the 1970’s, they don’t have the words to explain this. Erasure of these concepts is written with this in mind.
At Remus’ request they were all sitting before open books and parchment with quills in their hands, ostensibly doing homework. At his request they were in the library, ostensibly to avoid distractions (for in hope of notice me notice me notice me, spring had donated wafting, cooling breezes and the smell of the earth’s growth and an unfairly warm and beautiful March afternoon). At his request they were not discussing even things pertaining to the homework, ostensibly being silent. Going counterclockwise, they were arranged thusly around the library table: Sirius, James at the head, Peter, an empty seat, Remus at the opposite end, two more empty chairs, and Sirius again. This had not been at his express request but it was still his fault, because instead of upholding the habitual seating pattern and occupying the empty chair next to Sirius, Remus had walked around the table and dropped his bag as far from Sirius as possible, ostensibly because he had a lot of work to do and needed room, and indeed he had put up his things like a wall to fill the gap.
All of these ostensible things, were, actually, complete bull shit.
Because Sirius had been rereading the same paragraph of his Runes textbook for the past quarter hour, losing track of the words every time his eyes flitted involuntarily to Remus. Homework was out of the question.
Because Sirius’ very skin was tingling with frustration. It was not cold, but he kept shivering from the terrible, lacking sensation all around his upper body. There was a phantom pressure on his upper arms, and he kept clenching and relaxing them in attempt to assuage it. Neither his grip on his quill nor that to hold his text and parchment in place were adequate to eliminate the acute emptiness of his palms and the wanting for contact at the base of his fingers. Sensual distractions could not be escaped.
Because Sirius was hyperaware of each scratch of Remus’ quill on Remus’ parchment full of notes and each turn of the page of Remus’ book and each dust-allergy-induced sniff or swallow or cough Remus made. “Silence” was a flawed concept.
Because Sirius knew exactly how much work Remus had to do, which was none. He had been sitting alongside, watching, as Remus frantically finished everything that had already been assigned for the next two weeks in his own, weird, Moony-ish stress relief before accosting Sirius with such strange and terrible concepts as “er, so, I’ve been thinking,” and “m-maybe we, or at least, I-I’ve been,” and “what I’m trying to get at is” and “oh, fuck it” and shoving his flushed face into Sirius’ own. And as Remus had been studiously avoiding Sirius in the four days since that disastrous discussion, studiously in the “doing school work whenever Sirius came around to avoid him” way, he had also finished everything that had been assigned since then. So Remus’ retaking notes on the latest chapter of their Defense book and his pile of things he would eventually start pretending to work on were feigned and not only deeply wrong in the sense that he was being confronted with an unattainable feast while he wasted away, starved for the familiar contact of Moony’s skin but also stunk of Proper Ways and Subtle Politic and Calculated Nonattachment and Things Pleasing To Mother. And this was nothing but bullshit.
Remus snuffled, and Sirius pressed his quill down so hard the nib broke. Ink blotted through the two-and-a-quarter lines of the Runes essay he’d managed to force his way through. He froze, glancing at James, Peter, Remus for their reactions (James concerned and oblivious, Peter glanced wide-eyed first at him then Remus then back, Rem looked up and looked down again as if he hadn’t, and it was much too Slytherin) before throwing the quill down and shoving away from the table. “Sod all, I need air. With me, Prongs?” James yawned, stretched, scratched his head.
“Nah, I’m making decent progress. Might as well stick with it. Hex Snivelly if you see him for me?”
“Yeah, alright.” He clapped James’ shoulder, which did nothing to relieve the tension in his hands and only pissed him off further, and he stormed out of the library. Someone would get his things if he didn’t get back before they left.
Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck. There was no one, no one, doing anything worthy of a hexing in his path as he left the castle. Fucking ornery student body-the one time he was already in a bad mood, they’d have to act like decent human beings just to take the piss further.
He broke into a sprint right outside the castle doors. Just run, shut up thinking, shut up.
What he really wanted was the sanctuary of mind given by his dog form, but it was too nice of a day for that and anyone sensible, anyone who wasn’t being influenced by unnatural inclinations for using work as an excuse to lock oneself away from real life, was outside. What he really wanted was to be petted, fingers in his fur, safe-comfort-friend smells in his nostrils as he fell asleep. What he really wanted was to flop over Moony’s shoulders as he did his responsible Moony things, researching whatever needed to be researched now or doing homework. What he really wanted was to knock Moony’s head in, wolf or human form didn’t matter, until the stupid whatever it was that made him want to kiss Sirius was gone and they could be friends again and nothing would be weird so he could go nuzzle the hell out of the other boy and get hugged in return.
What he really wanted was to talk to James about all this.
But wanting to be in a pile of limbs and hugs with your same-sex mate was weird if you were a bloke now they weren’t kids, and they were about the blokeyist you could be. High fives or coming to blows, that was all right, that was just friendship, but you couldn’t want to be physically intimate with another boy unless you were gay, and Sirius obviously wasn’t gay, or else Moony coming on to him wouldn’t have been a problem, would it?
And even if he understood any of that well enough to communicate it, this was a private, Moony thing. Sure, he could tell James anything, but this wasn’t his thing to tell. So if confusion was eating at him and if he felt terrible for keeping secrets about stuff that bothered him when and James swore they wouldn’t do that with each other, he had to wait until Remus sussed it out himself and said it was okay.
No, shut up shut up shut up. Stopping the thoughts was practically impossible with a human brain. Fuck all. He sped up and veered around the lake towards the Willow. With any luck, no one would be around to see and he could slip in around the base of the tree, off to the Shack to get some control over his head.
He circled around the tree once to make sure no one was watching then pointed his wand at the knot to freeze it and dove down into the hole, transforming midair so as not to face plant. Then it was run run run and let the dog take over and let scent tell him everything he could possibly need to know and let the confusing interpersonal dynamics alone for a bit.
It’d been too long since he’d had ground under his paws, since he’d any real length to run. Padfoot and Moony had been confined to the Shack for the past few months since the scare in November, and though the tunnel was good for running, getting trapped there by the wolf, which was fighting Sirius’ dominance more for being cooped up, made it unappealing during the full. And being here without his pack or herd generally sucked. Today was different, since today his pack sucked.
When he got to the Shack, his hackles raised: not me enough. He marked the doorway. Better. Then he sniffed around, surrendering to instinct even though his boring, human mind knew that no one else could get in here. Prongs’ old, food-but-angry-about-it and useless-sheep-please-herd-me-so-I-don’t-run-into-my-death scents were annoying since he wasn’t there, and his mine-mine-mine pheromones were all over the place. The prick had been trying to mark his own territory. Sirius huffed and defecated over an offending spot. The animal ally dynamic was not as easy between carnivore and herbivore, or maybe it was the problem of stags being aggressive loners instead of pack animals. Where Sirius would allow his packmate to claim area for himself, the stag doing it was offensive, a challenge to his authority.
He had no idea yet what would happen when the wolf met Prongs. James and Sirius could mostly keep the animal instincts in check with their human minds, and even with all that going for them they weren’t getting along. Considering that the wolf only had flashes of Remus (rather than the other way around like the animagi), how savage it had gotten when the deer scent had been fresh in January, and that Prongs would probably react negatively to the presence of what was definitely a predator as opposed to the maybe-friend-maybe-foe of a large dog…. If they were ever going to get back outside, the wolf had to heel to the stag, and that meant the stag would have to hold his own or even win when they crossed each other. Sirius had no idea what Padfoot’s conflicting roles as packmate and herder would have him doing instinctively during those fights, but he hoped the dog would be on Prongs’ side, though the chances of that happy scenario seemed worse with each encounter with either of them. He hadn’t yet been in the position of trying to simultaneously fight Padfoot’s instincts and the wolf. He was not relishing the idea that he might have to soon.
I thought I was doing this to avoid dealing with interpersonal conflict, he objected to himself, and this was perfectly true so he stopped thinking about the things to come (the dog form was great) and reclaimed a few more spots Prongs and the wolf had marked. Hot from the run and thirsty from the water loss, he sped up the stairs, into the bathroom, and used his two forepaws to turn on the tap. When he was satisfactorily hydrated, he went back and lay down in his armchair (relatively unscathed, because he had claimed it, and the wolf knew that attacking it meant he would bring all of Sirius’ canine rage on itself) and slept.
He was woken by footsteps-obviously Remus’- in the tunnel, and sat up at attention, leaning forward over his feet and ears pricked as he waited. When he finally entered the room, Remus took one look at him and blanched. Good, Sirius thought as he hesitantly came forward, offering a loose fist to sniff. All of this is your fault. Sirius allowed the approach though, and inhaled the scents coming off of the boy-human, friend, pack, traces of lunch, paper, leather shoes, ink, feather, nervous nervous nervous-and licked the friendly hand in spite of himself then thumped his head into it so petting would commence.
And Merlin smite him if this wasn’t basically the best thing in the whole world. One of his humans was there to be protected and directed into petting him, and he could nuzzle and sniff and taste to his doggie heart’s content and nothing was weird, nothing was weird, nothing was weird, he could just be and do and not have to do the human, Slytherin consideration of every little thing. It was just him and his packmate in human form and this was a way things were supposed to be.
But of course it couldn’t last: “Pads, can we talk?” He huffed and licked his nose nervously, but transformed.
He was displeased to find that the petting session had done nothing to fulfill his craving for touch. Wounds and bugs would transfer from dog to human, even phantom pain in his phantom tail, but sensual frustration would not be appeased by Padfoot being fine. He crossed his arms over his chest to subtly add pressure and leaned back in the chair. “What?”
Remus swallowed, flushed red at addressing the task at hand now that the worry of making sure Sirius didn’t hate him had been proved baseless. “I just…things have been…weird, since.” He looked at Sirius, clearly looking for validation or solutions he could not possibly provide.
“And…I dunno. I just. I guess I thought. Well. I was confused, I guess. That all…this,” he waved his hands between them to indicate years of emotional and physical closeness, “meant we must fancy each other.” Sirius’ heart rate sprang into s sprint, beating out no no no no no no.
“But I mean,” he continued, “that’s ridiculous, right, ‘cause I mean, we like girls. I mean, Lily, y’know?” and dear Merlin did Sirius know all about how Moony and even Peter, in his hesitant way, mooned over Evans. Apparently only he and Prongs had sensible heads on their shoulders and could see what a pain she was. Granted, Prongs got just as mindless over other girls, just none of them as intolerable as that ginger.
“Yeah.” Except. Well. He guessed he must, since he obviously didn’t like blokes, not if he was put off by one of his closest friends. Probably he just needed to hang out with some girls a bit, but he couldn’t see the point. He already had friends. And people sucked. And associating with people you don’t like for assumed future gain was such a Black thing that it made his skin crawl.
“Anyway, I’m, I’m sorry.”
“No, don’t. You don’t have to, to apologize. This stuff’s…” terrifying “confusing, and hey. I mean. I’m sorry too. I mean, I like you, I, I, I love you. You’re one of my best mates, of course I do. You’re amazing. C’mon, don’t look like that, you are,” because Remus had gotten that awful, self-hating look on his face. “I wouldn’t bother with you otherwise, would I?” and he pulled Remus into the chair, into a hug. And, ah, bliss bliss bliss, this is what he’d been craving, and he had to concentrate on not running his hands up and down Remus’ back because that would be gay, and that was not something that they were. He’d just have to adjust. But then Remus nodded into his shoulder and Sirius reacted by turning the hug vice-like until he could feel the other heartbeat keeping up with his own’s panicked thumping.
“Er?” said Remus and Sirius let go immediately and forced himself to make eye contact despite feeling small and pathetic. Remus looked confused, bashful. “No, I didn’t want you to stop. I mean. I’ve, I’ve kinda-“ and trailed off, too embarrassed to keep talking.
“Felt too twitchy and loose all over?” Sirius asked and wished he hadn’t let stupid words come out of his stupid mouth. But Remus smiled incredulously-someone else understanding what you didn’t quite get yourself was always surprising and wonderful.
“Yeah! I’ve. Well, missed you. And, I miss getting hugs.” He settled back down into a comfortable embrace. “I think it’s a pack thing. It’s weird when we haven’t climbed all over each other for a while. But I don’t feel that way about anyone else, and that’s why I. Well.” Sirius nuzzled the side of his head and then fell to stroking the same spot.
“Yeah.” It was not that he wouldn’t welcome this with James or Peter, but he didn’t think it would be as effortless. And he certainly didn’t go stir crazy over them, didn’t feel wrong and lacking and too much alone.
They rested like that for a while, Sirius’ forehead squishing Remus’ ear, Sirius massaging his mousy hair, while his no no no no heartbeat slowed to yes, yes, yes, yes. “Is this going to be all right?” he finally asked.
“Yeah, we’ve figured it out, so we’ll stop being weird. It’ll be okay.” Sirius froze.
“Stop being weird? Does that mean-“
“No. This is normal, for us, at least. And if you try to squirm out of supplying my daily quota of affection, I will tell you more about the muggles’ latest vaccine breakthrough.”
“Moonyyyyyy. No need for dire threats.” It got the laugh Sirius had been aiming for.
Normal, for us. It sounded good. It sounded great. It felt possible. They would right themselves-not like either of them could possibly abandon the other. He would need to keep a careful watch for a while-whatever Remussaid to the contrary, he’d been hurt over this mess, and a hurting Moony was a thing to be careful with-but their friendship was strong enough to hold up to the pressure of romantic blunders, and that was all that mattered.
(And as punishment for thinking that incredibly self-serving thought, Sirius ensured that he got himself pinned, never mind that it wasn’t really a punishment since they were both laughing with relief and triumph at this wreck being patched, because selfishness met with generosity on both ends was how this friendship deal seemed to work. And damn him, but he hoped to keep it that way.)