I'm really sorry for the ridiculously long wait for this chapter. Unfortunately things have been a bit hectic for me, so I have had to put all of my writing on the back burner. I feel like its going to take me some time to get back into the swing of things, so I apologize if this chapter is a bit weak. Hopefully things will be back up to par soon.
Warnings: Some nudity and suggestive scenes, but nothing serious.
As Remus began to come around the first thing he noticed was the cold that ached in all of his bones. He felt himself begin to shiver and wondered what he'd been doing up until that moment, but was sure that shivering was an improvement. He felt a bruising pain in his chest, as though someone had been hammering on it, and just as he started to register his surroundings he felt a set of hot lips close around his and surprisingly sweet air force its way into his lungs. It was at that moment that he realized he'd not been breathing. As the shock of the foreign breath pushed into his lungs he felt himself begin to convulse, his body trying desperately to force the water from the delicate tissues of his respiratory system.
"Oh thank Merlin, he's breathing!" Lily gasped from where she stood over her two friends.
"That's it, Moony. Out with the bad air..." Sirius said, short of breath himself, as he pulled his friend into a sitting position so he could lean forward to cough the water from his lungs. "And in with the good air."
Remus was blinking rapidly as he tried to clear his head and his chest all at once, his body shaking with his uncontrollable coughing. He could hardly recall what had happened. He remembered feeding the squid with Sirius, but things became vague and then absent after that. Managing to get his eyes open as his coughing fit began to subside he was able to take inventory of himself, and realized that he was not in good shape. He felt his face begin to heat up, a small hot dot on his freezing body, as he realized most of his clothing was in shreds and draping off his frame.
"Oi! What are you lot staring at!" James was shouting from where he stood between his two friends and the crowding group of students. "Go find something else to gawk at!"
Remus felt embarrassment surge through him as he realized the crowd was likely staring at the scars that littered his body, caused by his monthly transformation. He had become rather comfortable with his fellow marauders seeing them, and had even shown Lily the previous year after she'd sorted out his condition on her own, but he was still very self conscious when it came to strangers or acquaintances knowing about them. He felt his arms snake around his own body in an attempt to shield himself from their stares.
"He said beat it!" Sirius snarled at the group as he began to pull his sopping wet jumper off, only to pull it down over Remus' head.
The group of whispering students seemed intimidated by the joint efforts of Sirius and James and began to disperse, though they continued to throw glances at them as they made their way up the hill. Remus was shaking as Sirius helped to dress him, knowing he'd be more comfortable if he were covered.
"W-w-w-what hap-p-pened?" Remus asked, his voice scratchy from coughing and his teeth chattering from the cold.
"The squid seemed to take a shining to you." James said more gently as he crouched down beside his two friends. "Got a bit feely then dragged you into the lake."
"G-got a bit f-f-feely?" Remus asked, his eyes a bit large. "D-did th-that bast-t-t-ard try to mo-mo-molest me?"
James couldn't help but chuckle at the look on his friend's face.
"Shut it, Prongs. This isn't funny." Sirius said. "Come on, Moony. I'll take you back to the dorm so you can warm up."
They worked for a moment to try and get Remus on his feet, but after struggling to walk a few yards, one of his legs seeming sprained from his battle with the flirty cephalopod, Sirius wound up carrying him, and this time Remus was too exhausted to fight his way onto his friend's back. Considering his exhaustion and inability to fight the emasculating carrying style, Remus was at least relieved to see that the halls were mostly empty, realizing quickly that Sirius had been taking the long way to avoid being seen by too many people. Remus felt his chest warm at the realization that Sirius was being so thoughtful. As Sirius made his way into the private dorm room he felt a surge of disappointment, hating that he no longer had an excuse to be so close to him.
"Think you can stand up?" Sirius asked as he walked through the door to the bathroom.
Remus nodded and suppressed a wince of pain as his sprained foot began to bear weight. He was glad that Sirius hadn't let go of him as his head began to spin. To add to his over all poor condition he felt something agitate the sensitive tissue of his throat and had to cover his mouth to suppress the coughing brought on by the painful burning. Keeping his chest braced with one arm, Sirius began patting the other boy's back, hoping to get any residual water out of his system.
"Come on. Lets get this wet stuff off." Sirius said gently as the coughing finally subsided.
It was strange to find himself in this situation again. When he'd rescued Remus from the owlery he'd felt a bit uneasy about the process of warming him up. He had seen Remus sans his clothes many times, but there was something strangely intimate about undressing the other boy, and he found himself feeling surprisingly nervous. This time, however, he was feeling a strange thrill of excitement as he peeled the wet knit from his narrow frame. Remus was still shivering and Sirius found his eyes strangely drawn to the small rosy points he could see through his white uniform shirt. As he parted the buttons gently, removing the veil of thin fabric he found himself wondering if he'd ever seen nipples that were quite so pink. He didn't realize he'd paused, or that he was staring rather blatantly until he felt Remus' hands cover his where he was still holding onto the shirt buttons. Startled he raised his gaze to meet his friend's wolfishly yellow eyes and he felt his heart leap up into his throat. He wondered if his friend had always looked so feral.
"You don't have to help me with this if you're uncomfortable." Remus said, his voice still shaking, though his shiver-induced stuttering had subsided.
Sirius wondered suddenly if he was uncomfortable. He hadn't thought about the possibility. His heart was, in fact, racing noticeably, and his fingers were shaking slightly, even though his body temperature was surprisingly high considering his recent dip in the black lake.
"I'm not uncomfortable." Sirius finally insisted after a moment of hesitation, and he was suddenly certain that he was telling the truth.
He felt strangely nervous, but he didn't feel uncomfortable. With his mind a little clearer, he went back to undressing his friend, letting him hold onto his shoulder while he helped him out of the shredded remains of his trousers and shorts. He wondered when bathing together had become so tense for them. In the first few years of their friendship it hadn't been uncommon for the four marauders to shower nearly on top of each other, particularly on those mornings that followed a late night of mischief making. It was never and issue for them, though, and they often joked openly about each other's nudity. But now there was a visceral tension that made the situation complicated.
"Funny how we keep ending up like this, huh?" Sirius asked with a chuckle, desperately hoping to break the tension that had grown between them as they both stood naked under the hot spray of water.
"I guess I've just had poor luck here lately." Remus said, purposefully keeping his eyes trained away from Sirius' toned body, knowing he'd not be able to hide any reactions given their state of undress.
"If that's what you want to call it." Sirius said with a laugh, using his smile to ease the atmosphere, something he's always been talented at.
They bathed in silence for a while, though Sirius made sure to keep a hand on Remus to steady him the whole time. As Sirius brushed the wet hair from Remus' face for him, the lycanthrope realized just how gentle the other boy's eyes were at that moment. He felt his heart begin to race again and wasn't sure if he felt the urge to smile or to cry.
"Sirius?" Remus hadn't meant for his voice to come out so quietly, the intimacy of whispering seeming almost inappropriate.
"Hm?" Sirius continued to smooth the hair away from his friend's face, realizing somewhere deep down that he was doing it for himself now and not for Remus.
"Did you really jump into the lake to save me?" He asked, wiping the water from his eyes.
"Nah, I just felt like going for a swim." the black haired teen joked, leaving Remus feeling suddenly foolish.
Just as Remus thought to push his joking friend aside, however, he felt slightly roughened fingers touch his cheeks, drawing his attention back up to the dark grey eyes that seemed to glow behind the wet eyelashes that surrounded them. It was obvious that he'd been able to read Remus' slight offense at his joke, and now his expression was uncomfortably serious.
"Moony, you know I'd do anything to keep you safe, right? We all would. You're really important to us." Sirius confessed, his voice low, sending vibrations into the very center of Remus' body.
Remus had no reason to doubt the things the other boy was saying, but couldn't keep his comment from slipping.
"Then why were you the only one who jumped in after me?"
Sirius looked surprised by the comment, as though he'd not thought about that fact himself. The smile that spread across his face was intensely gentle though, and Remus felt himself shiver as the fingers on his cheek brushed against his skin again, the heat of a palm pressing along his jaw line.
"Well I guess maybe I care a bit more than they do..."
A lump had formed rather suddenly in Remus' throat, his heart thumping wildly against his rib cage. He'd imagined before what it might be like to have Sirius look at him as though he were special to him, as though he were a lover, and now he was certain that this is how it would look. In order to prevent the shaking that had started in his hands he reached up to hold onto his friend's forearms where he could feel his muscles tense slightly. He found himself blurting out words before he could stop to think properly.
"Pads, I want to tell you now." He said, his voice shaking some.
Sirius felt his stomach tighten and knew without having to ask what his lycanthropic friend was referring to. He pushed his fingers back into the velvety hair behind Remus' ears and rubbed soothing circles there.
"What is she using to blackmail you, Moony?" He asked quietly, hoping to sooth his nerves by broaching the subject first.
"There's... someone I like." Remus found himself struggling to get the words out, finding it hard to hear himself through the sound of blood rushing past his ears.
The sudden pressure in Sirius' chest surprised him. Not only because of the triviality of the secret that was giving Debbie so much power over him, but by the unhappiness it sparked inside him. It left a bitter taste in his mouth, though he quickly relegated it to his possessive nature.
"Is that it?" He asked, smiling nonchalantly.
"It's not that simple, Padfoot." Remus said, his dripping brows furrowing together. "If I don't do what she says she'll tell everyone, including the person I like."
Sirius couldn't stop the laughter that shook his body. He realized suddenly that Remus was much more adorable than he'd ever noticed. He'd always known that his friend was shy, but to see him panicking over something like a crush was nearly too much to bear. Sirius realized that laughing probably wasn't his best course of action, though, when he saw anger flash through his friend's eyes.
"I'm sorry Moony, but really..." he said, moving his hands down to take his shoulders. "You're giving this too much thought. If you like someone, just tell them. You're fantastic. There's no reason they won't like you back." He meant every word he said, but somehow felt a strange pang of jealousy as he said it.
"I know for a fact this person doesn't like me the same way... and I'm afraid of it ruining the friendship we have if they find out..." Remus felt his heart racing as he spoke, certain that Sirius would be able to figure his secret out with the amount of information he was giving.
Raising his gaze to meet his friend's intensely grey eyes he tried to convey his feelings with a look, finding words to be more difficult than he'd imagined. After a moment he saw the thick eyelashes surrounding those eyes he'd come to worship widen and for a second he was sure the message had been received, but almost immediately he realized he'd been wrong.
"You're in love with Lily?" Sirius asked, sounding genuinely shocked. "Moony, you know that James'll have your head if he finds out."
The frustration and disappointment that Remus felt surge up inside of him surprised even himself and before he could consider his reaction he felt himself shoving Sirius away from with both hands, his eyes stinging slightly with tears of anger. Sirius was obviously equally surprised and his foot slipped a little as he was pushed.
"It's not Lily, you stupid mutt! Merlin, why do you have to be so fucking dense?" Remus was throwing a full blown temper tantrum at this point, but was stopped as he tried to exit the shower.
"Woah! Calm down, Remus." Sirius said, using his real name to try and placate the other boy.
"You're so stupid, and so blind, and I really hate that about you!" Remus continued shouting, trying to pull his arms away from Sirius' grip. "You're so caught up in your stupid romantic flings that you have no idea of what's going on around you! You don't realize how many people are watching you and how many people you hurt!"
Remus was pretty sure, somewhere in the part of his brain that could still think straight, that he was getting dangerously close to saying something he would regret.
"Hey now, hold on just a second!" Sirius said, finally starting to look slightly offended. "Do you really think I don't care about people I break up with whose feelings get hurt?"
"If you do care you have a funny way of showing it! I wouldn't even be in this position if you hadn't gotten Debbie so upset!" Remus spat, wiping the water form his eyes as he did so.
"So now you're on her side? Moony, she's blackmailing you! She's not exactly the innocent victim! Besides, this isn't about me! It's about you, now tell me who it is that you like!"
"Of course it's about you! Its always about you!" Remus said, certain that the water that was stinging his eyes wasn't just from the shower any more.
In their slight scuffle Sirius had managed to back him against the tile of the shower, holding his wrists to keep his arms from flailing, and as he saw the hurt expression on his friend's face he felt a strange inkling of understanding, accompanied by an increase in his heart rate.
"Just tell me who it is, Rem." Sirius said quietly, their foreheads very nearly touching.
At such close proximity he could see the water from the faucet beading into heavy drops that hung from the other boy's eyelashes before they dripped down to roll down his cheek, or across his impossibly pink lips that seemed fuller than he'd ever realized at this close distance.
"Just say the name." Sirius whispered, realizing that Remus had completely stopped fighting him. "Please."
The tip of Remus' soft looking tongue darted out to moisten his already wet lips, and Sirius could see them shaking slightly as they opened a few times to try and form words.
"Its..." Remus began, his voice barely audible.
"Tell me." Sirius gently commanded again, not sure why he was still leaning closer to him, or why he felt such a powerful pull between their bodies, or whether he was actually intending to kiss him.
Remus had taken a deep, steeling breath and Sirius had only just realized he'd been holding his breath when their nerves were battered by the jarring sound of the door slamming open.
"Peter you twat! Don't go in there!" James' voice was heard from the dormitory outside, though both of the boys in the shower were focused on their slightly portly friend who was staring at them with a nearly comical look of shock on his face.
"What the hell?" Peter asked, his brows coming together in something that could have been disgust. "Are you two making out or something?"
Sirius felt his stomach clench painfully and immediately released Remus, taking a pointed step back.
"Don't joke like that, Wormy, it's disgusting." Sirius said before he could run his words through the proper filters.
Realizing what he'd just said, Sirius dared a look back at Remus whose face had turned to stone, though even without the aid of facial expression his eyes broadcasted the intense pain and insult he was feeling without trouble. For a second, Sirius was sure he was going to be punched, and was also sure he deserved it, but instead Remus gave him a hard shove, causing him to slip and stumble out of the shower, landing in a shamefully naked heap. Peter scampered out of the way as well as Remus stormed out of the bathroom, yanking a towel off the rack on his way and barely hiding the limp in his sprained leg.
"Wow... I dunno what you two were doing in here, but I think you may have messed up." Peter said as he turned to watch Remus march his warpath.
"No shit." Sirius muttered as he worked on getting himself back on his feet.