But Even Jesters Cry
"What, my dear Moony, is the meaning of this?" said Sirius, holding a bottle out to Remus and sounding so nearly like his old self that any lingering guilt vanished completely, despite the faint sniggering Remus could hear off to one side. Sirius' hair continued to throw off sparks and coruscate through the spectrum, each drop of water that fell taking a tiny rainbow with it before it hit the floor.
Remus tried really hard not to smirk. "Meaning, my dear Padfoot?" he asked, transferring some sausages and eggs to a plate for Sirius, then adding plenty of fried tomatoes and mushrooms as well, just the way Sirius liked it. Or at least the way he had liked it, a lifetime ago when they were of an age that this sort of pranking was appropriate.
Sirius gave Remus a considering look, then snorted and accepted the plate. "I suppose not everything can change," he said, then leaned in close as if to whisper a secret.
Instead, he shook his head like a wet dog, spattering Remus, their breakfast, and an unfortunate Snape with shining droplets of enchanted water.
It took seven more pranks before Sirius recovered enough of himself to retaliate, which was good, because Remus had been starting to grow desperate. Desperate enough that he sat down one afternoon and poured himself a glass of firewhisky, and nearly singed off his eyebrows when a laughing fire imp burst out of the bottle and began to dance on his head, singing "The Werewolf's Bollocks," at high volume.
It was worth the cold shower to hear Sirius' laughter fill the hallways, however briefly.
It wasn't long after that Molly began favouring them both with the sort of looks she normally reserved for Fred and George, or possibly Mundungus Fletcher, and for some reason Remus took this as a good sign. In the past three days since the whiskey incident, there had been talking underpants, vanishing trousers, a swarm of nipple-biting nargles, three separate attempts at hexing someone's bollocks off, and one interrupted blowjob on the stairwell. Four pranks and two more uninterrupted liaisons later, and Remus felt it was time for his final move.
He rigged Sirius' bed.
"Moony!" said Sirius plaintively, bursting through the door to Remus' tiny room and finding Remus already in bed, reading a book and looking supremely self-satisfied. "I have to have somewhere to sleep, and it takes hours to get snakeburrs out!" he said, referring to the wicked little creatures that Remus had left in Sirius' bed. They looked like tiny snakes, burrowing into the mattress and then leaving their hooked tails sticking out to catch on skin and hair and clothing irritatingly, thus protecting their new homes.
"So sleep here," said Remus calmly, setting aside his book.
Sirius' eyes went wide, and he shook his head. "You know I'm not ready," he said, his voice much less steady, losing the fire that had slowly filled it back up these past weeks.
Remus would later claim it was manipulation, the way his own voice wavered and calm smile grew a bit watery around the edges. "I don't mean sex, Sirius," he said, scooting over and patting the bed next to him. "I just mean... sleep with me."
Sirius paled a bit more, and Remus brought out his real ammunition. "Don't be such a girl, Padfoot," he said, using the exact tone they'd perfected in school when teasing Peter about his body shyness, Sirius about his hair, or James about pretty much everything.
Sirius snorted just like he used to, then looked surprised to have done so, as though it was an old reflex he hadn't thought was around anymore. "Fine," he said, stalking to the bed and jumping in, bouncing a little as if to test Remus' resolve in all of this. "Don't complain to me if I snore."
"I'll only complain if you turn into a dog in the middle of the night and put your cold nose in places it doesn't belong," said Remus calmly, allowing himself to be crowded right up to the wall.
"Oi, I only did that once!" Sirius protested, giving Remus a poke.
Remus chuckled and rolled onto his side, snaking an arm around Sirius' waist. "I know," he said, snuggling up shamelessly, trying not to be dismayed at how thin and cold Sirius was, not at all the warm, robust boy that used to snuggle up to him of a night, all elbows and bluster and demanding cock. "It doesn't do to forget, though."
Sirius was stiff, but he put his arm around Remus' shoulders anyway, even if it took him a moment or two of hesitation first. His breathing was ragged under Remus' ear, but it wasn't until Remus pressed a kiss right over his heart that the first sob came. "Moony," he said softly, snuffling and burying his nose in Remus' hair anyway, arms suddenly less hesitant and more clinging.
"I'm here, Padfoot," said Remus, pressing another kiss to the heartbeat doing double time under his ear. He thought of saying something else, like "It's okay to feel" or even "I love you," but then he really would feel like a great big girl and Sirius might close him out again. They were allowed a moment or two like this, but one of the tacit rules was that they couldn't talk about it.
Instead, Remus let the candles die out and didn't let go, clinging as much to the memory of who they'd been as Sirius' bony frame, feeling some of Sirius' sadness finally drain away. Eventually they slept, though Remus could never say after who drifted off first, and it was never mentioned that Remus had to wash his hair twice to get the snot out, or that Sirius' shirt still had a suspicious damp patch when they awoke. Remus would only have claimed it was drool, anyway.
Remus, good friend that he was, helped Sirius to get all the snakeburrs out of his bed and even managed to keep Sirius from putting them down Snape's back, instead giving them to Snape in a jar for future use as ingredients. The gift of a rare, live ingredient was less well-received than it might have been, however, given the state of Snape's robes.
Between the two of them, Moony and Padfoot had managed to make Snape's robes not only jump three feet to the left, but begin a song-and-dance routine to the classic pub song "What Did You Say That You Put In That Potion?" Remus had managed to leave the man his dignity, or at least his shirtsleeves and trousers, though apparently Sirius had added in an extra charm of his own, as Snape's pants had hopped an extra two feet to the left and appeared to be singing harmony.
That night, they both slept in Sirius' bed, as it was larger and had not been used for several very enthusiastic rounds of sex that afternoon.
Molly never did approve, and Remus never could bring himself to care.
Title: But Even Jesters Cry