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24 January 2016 @ 03:44 pm
Assumptions and Expectations [Harry Potter]  
Title: Assumptions and Expectations
Fandom: Harry Potter
Pairing: Remus Lupin/Sirius Black
Rating: PG-13
Word count: 2534
Summary: Sirius and Remus decide over Christmas to try out something more than friendship.
Notes: Written for leontinabowie as part of rs_small_gifts. I know many readers, like Remus, may not know a lot about asexuality so unfortunately this turned out a bit like a primer. I am not asexual so this is based on second-hand research and I would appreciate any corrections. Thank you to leontinabowie for the prompt, and I think there may be more here to explore! Thank you to mindabbles for a very speedy beta-reading.

Assumptions and Expectations

“So…” Remus said, sounding a tad awkward, “Did you have any Christmas plans then?”

“None,” Sirius answered. He was not in a good mood. He felt sour and alone. Last year he had been at the Potter’s for Christmas, but since the Dragonpox epidemic and James’s parents’ deaths, he was facing Christmas alone. He had assumed he could just hang out with James but James and Lily were spending the holiday with Lily’s parents, who were both quite old for Muggles. Her mother was very poorly and James and Lily had canceled all the previous plans to spend the week with Lily’s mum.

Sirius hated being alone. He eyed Remus, sitting on a pub bench next to him. The four of them -- James, Sirius, Remus, and Peter -- had met for a drink. As soon as James left, Peter had rushed off with a vague explanation, as though anyone much cared what Peter was up to. Sirius and Remus had hardly spoken since leaving Hogwarts, owing to the fact that their Order duties took them in different directions, but here they sat together in the pub. There, in the dim light, Sirius felt he was seeing Remus for the first time since school -- really seeing him. He had chapped lips and dark circles under his eyes. He had cracked fingernails and a prominent hole in the knee of his corduroys.

“Say,” Sirius asked skeptically, “What has Dumbledore got you doing? You look rough, mate.”

“Ah, nothing,” Remus said dismissively, “Just talking to folks. It involves a lot of travel.”

Sirius nodded, though Remus’s explanation really explained nothing.

“Look,” Remus said, “Since you don’t have any plans, you’re welcome to come to my place for Christmas. My mum makes good pies.”

Sirius felt his heart leap into his chest, but one moment later he tapped it back down. Remus was being polite, he was sure, not issuing a heartfelt invitation. “I wouldn’t want to be a bother.”

“No bother,” Remus smiled, and the smile reached his eyes.

“Well, alright then.”

+++++

Two weeks later, on Christmas Eve, Remus and Sirius arrived at Remus’s mum’s home. Sirius was goggling. He had never been in a properly Muggle house before, and though Remus’s dad had been a wizard, he had passed on a few years ago and Remus’s mum now lived in a Muggle house in a Muggle village.

“What’s this?” Sirius asked, flipping the little flag on the mailbox.

Remus dragged Sirius through the door by his arm before Sirius discovered the door bell. “Mum,” he called.

His mum appeared in a moment from the kitchen doorway. “Close the door, dear, the heat’s getting out,” she said.

Remus turned to see Sirius’s head was stuck out the door eying the doorbell, so he jerked Sirius back inside and shut the door. “Mum, this is Sirius Black.”

“Hello,” she smiled, her eyes crinkling. “I would shake your hand, but, well…” She held up two flour-covered hands by way of explanation.

“Hiya,” Sirius answered, still obviously distracted by things Remus didn’t even notice any more -- light switches and electrical sockets and even the wire running down behind the table lamp. “Where is that going?” Sirius whispered.

Remus’s mum smiled indulgently. “Let me go wash off my hands and get you a drink, shall I?” She disappeared into the kitchen, not waiting for an answer.

Remus prodded Sirius for his jacket, and then promptly tossed it, along with his own, over the newel post on the stairs.

His mum reappeared, carrying two mugs of hot apple cider, pushing one into each of their hands. “Have a seat,” she said, mostly to Sirius. Sirius obliged. “Remus has told me quite a bit about you,” she continued. “Your family is a very old Wizarding family, is that right?”

Remus was willing his mum to stop talking before she got into uncomfortable territory for Sirius, but Sirius just nodded, “Yes ma’am.”

“Yes, I remember,” she said, nodding. “Remus told me they would never approve of you dating someone like him -- a half-blood I mean, on top of, well, on top of everything else. He used to have quite a crush on you and I would grow so tired of hearing Sirius this and Sirius that.”

Remus felt his face flush hot. Sirius was watching him rather intently all of a sudden.

“But I understand you no longer hold with your family?,” Remus’s mum continued.

“I never held with them!” Sirius answered brusquely. “But now I don’t even live with them. It’s not them that’s kept me from dating… from dating whomever I like.”

“Mum,” Remus interrupted. “Why don’t we talk about something besides my childhood crushes and Sirius’s family before you’ve embarrassed both of us half to death.”

“Oh, sorry,” Remus’s mum said quickly, “Sometimes I speak without thinking.”

Thankfully, the rest of the conversation was about food -- a topic that Remus never failed to find interesting -- as his mother regaled them with all the foods she had made for Christmas dinner tomorrow.

+++++

Sirius had a belly full of cider and cocoa and sparkling wine when Christmas Eve bedtime finally rolled around. He was to sleep in the extra upstairs bedroom next to Remus’s room, and Remus took him up to show him where linens and extra blankets were kept. While making up the bed together with fresh linens, Sirius watched Remus carefully. Remus was not looking at him now that they were alone together. Remus was also talking entirely too much about linens.

“Hey,” Sirius interrupted whatever Remus might have been saying about thread counts. “Did you really fancy me?”

“Can we not talk about that?” Remus asked, wincing.

“I mean, if you did, that’s fine. I just want you to know I never would have listened to my family. I mean, I never have. So that wasn’t a reason --”

“I know, alright? I told my mom that rubbish about your family to get her off my case. She wouldn’t shut up about how I needed to ask you out before we finished school.”

“Before we finished school? You mean seventh year?” Sirius balked. “But that wasn’t exactly childhood, Moony. That was a few months ago.”

Remus turned red again. “Yeah, well, I didn’t ask, so it doesn’t matter.”

“Why didn’t you?” Sirius asked, genuinely curious.

“Mostly because I knew you would say no.”

Sirius knit his brows, trying to wish Remus weren’t right about that.

“See,” Remus said, “you would have said no.”

“You could at least try asking,” Sirius said, “that is to say if you still feel the same way.”

“Alright,” Remus said, with mock patience. “Will you go out with me?”

“No, but let me explain--”

“See,” Remus exclaimed, “I knew you would say no.”

“Yeah, but, well, it isn’t what you think.”

“You don’t have to say it. I know you don’t go for blokes anyway,” Remus sighed.

Not denying it, Sirius instead asked, “You do still fancy me, then?”

“I’m not talking about this,” Remus answered flatly.

“You do!” Sirius’s eyes widened. “I can’t believe it!”

“You don’t look in the mirror much if you can’t believe it,” Remus said.

Sirius looked down at himself as if there might be something written across his shirt. “You find me attractive?”

“Everyone does,” Remus huffed.

“I know loads of girls do, but do you as well?”

“Yes,” Remus said, seeming a bit angry now. “I find men attractive. I hope that doesn’t change anything between us.”

Sirius’s tongue felt too large in his mouth, and he was afraid he might say something stupid since he really had no idea how to proceed here. “No, I don’t mean men, I mean me.”

“You are a man, Sirius.”

“But surely you don’t find all men attractive?” Sirius asked with genuine curiosity.

“I don’t know what game you’re playing at but --”

“No game,” Sirius said quickly, afraid he had pushed the questions too far. “I’m just… trying to understand.”

“Well,” Remus said, tucking the last corner of the quilt over and standing tall. He had a good four inches on Sirius. “There’s nothing to understand. I like men, you like women, it’s the same only different.”

Remus moved quickly to the door. “Goodnight then,” he said.

“I don’t like women,” Sirius blurted out.

That stopped Remus in his tracks. He turned back to Sirius slowly. “What? You like men, then?” This was clearly difficult for Remus to believe.

“Well,” Sirius tilted his head to the side. “I dunno. I like some women. Lily’s alright since she got the Head Girl badge off. Your mum seems nice. And I like some men. I like James of course, and you and Peter…”

“Don’t take the piss, Sirius,” Remus said coolly.

“I’m not,” Sirius waved his arms in frustration. “Look, I said no to you, but it’s not what you think! I’m, I don’t know, broken or something. You don’t need that in your life.”

“I don’t… broken?” Remus said.

“Yes. No. I mean, I like people. I adore people. I love being around people. But I can’t imagine wanting to have sex with them. Like… well, a few summers ago James and I were out and he pulled me a bird, Sara. I thought, what the hell everyone else is doing it, so we did it, and it was awkward and sweaty and I’m not keen to repeat it.”

“Oh,” Remus said, seemingly at a loss.

“So, after that, I thought it was because she was a girl, see, and maybe being with a boy would be better. I was actually seeing Jeremy Goldstein for a couple months early in sixth year but he wanted more.”

“More?”

“Sex,” Sirius answered. “With a boy it would be loads better, he said. But it was still weird. I got off, but I hated the idea of doing it in front of him, or anyone really. Just because something feels good, does it need to be a shared experience?”

“Sorry?” Remus, not turning away from Sirius for even a moment, not even seeming to blink.

Sirius was sure he was over sharing. He had never told anyone these things, not even James, but Remus had always been very easy to talk to. Remus was good at listening.

“Look,” Sirius said, by way of closing the conversation. “I would have turned you down, but it’s not because I don’t like you. People who date expect more, they expect the sex, and I’m not interested, so I figure it’s better to just not date in the first place.”

“Um, thanks,” said Remus. “Thanks for telling me all this… this is personal stuff, Sirius.”

“Well, I didn’t want you to feel jilted,” Sirius said, looking abashed. “I wanted to clear the air.”

Remus was watching Sirius as though Sirius were some sort of puzzle, and it was making him distinctly nervous.

“What?” Sirius asked.

“It’s just… I didn’t ask you out because I made an assumption about your answer. And you turned me down because you’ve made an assumption about what I want in a relationship. I don’t see how those two things are all that different.”

Sirius squinted at Remus. “You mean you aren’t interested in sex?”

“Oh no,” Remus answered, “I am very interested in sex. But loads of people have sex without a relationship, so what’s odd about having a relationship without sex?”

“Well, what if you got, you know, really randy?”

“I could do the same as I’m doing now,” Remus offered. “I could just take care of it myself. I haven’t lost anything then, really, as it’s not like I’m getting laid a lot at the moment.”

“But someday you might want --”

“Listen to yourself, Sirius,” Remus said. “Someday? There’s a war on. I’m not asking you to marry me. I’m asking you to go out to dinner with me or see a play.”

“Oh,” Sirius said. “I guess it never occurred to me that anyone would want to be with someone who didn’t want, that is to say --”

“Just because sex is all Jeremy thought about, doesn’t mean it’s all anyone thinks about.”

“I never thought about it before, honestly.” Sirius felt as though everything had tilted on its side. It had never even briefly occurred to him that he could be in a relationship without putting up with sexual things he didn’t want to do. And he did want to be in a relationship. And the idea of being in one with Remus intrigued him quite a bit.

“Do you do snogging at all?” Remus asked, looking quite nervous.

“Why, are you going to snog me now?” Sirius asked, feeling a good bit more cheerful.

“Ah, no, I’m just trying to understand. I’m not trying to cross a line.”

“Yeah,” Sirius said with a smile, “I do snogging. I did with Jeremy at least. That part was great until it got to where he was expecting sex every time I so much as looked at him.”

“Well, I can promise not to expect sex,” Remus said, nodding.

“I honestly can’t believe you haven’t tried laying that ‘but if it were with me, you would love it’ line on me. That’s all Jeremy kept talking about.”

Remus smiled. “I knew a girl between fourth and fifth year in the summers, a neighbor at our old house, who was determined she could make me straight because she was the best kisser. Or so she said. She couldn’t buy the idea that I didn’t want to kiss her, no matter how fantastic a kisser she was.”

“Oh yeah, I remember you telling us about her, I think. Peter kept asking about her address.”

Remus laughed, “Yeah he did. He said, ‘I simply must meet her for scientific purposes.’” Remus did a good impersonation of Peter’s high-pitched voice.

“What a prat.”

“Well, think about it,” Remus said more soberly. “I’ll let you get to sleep.” He opened the door, stepped through with a wave, and then closed it again.

Sirius jumped for the door and jerked it back open, decision made. Sirius had never much liked over thinking things.

“I don’t need to think about it. We can try a date or two, yeah. I’m willing if you are.”

+++++

The next day was bliss. Sirius could not get enough of Remus’s mum’s cooking. He hadn’t had a home cooked meal since James’s mum had died and he had forgotten how much better everything tasted when it wasn’t takeaway.

But it wasn’t just the food. It was Remus. He still looked rough and care-worn, but there was a new brightness in his smile. Sirius marveled at the fact that he himself had put it there.

And the world felt new. They hadn’t even been on a date yet, but Sirius already felt less alone against a hostile world.

“Happy Christmas!” Remus’s mum declared, lifting her glass.

“Happy Christmas,” Remus and Sirius answered together, raising their glasses as well. Sirius’s free hand rested, as though it belonged, on Remus’s shoulder. Sirius squeezed, then added “And a lucky New Year as well.”
 
 
 
.ayebydan on January 25th, 2016 07:29 pm (UTC)
This is utterly delightful! I think you handle asexuality very well and I love that it is Sirius you make ace. You manage to take his canon playboy image and yet make it fit this reversal. I love the comments about missing home cooking and not being sure what to do with himself alone. ♥
justtopostmyfic: bwjusttopostmyfic on August 29th, 2016 03:27 am (UTC)
I love that you are still writing HP R/S currently, even though the fandom has quieted a lot. My favorite is "A Comfort". Just a true-blue comfort fic with the angst that comes with the longebity of their relationship and Remus' abused health.

I found it from the recommendation on wolfstar warehouse tumblr, on a list for Remus being chronically ill. Love the Remus whump!