Title: A Private Moment

Author: tarotgal

Fandom: Harry Potter- Alternate Reality, Marauder's Era

Rating: PG

Disclaimer: I do not claim the rights to anything here and have only my muses to blame for this, lovely things that my muses are. The characters are not mine and I get nothing from this apart from an occasional case of the giggles. The "universe" (such that it is) is mine but people are welcome to play in it if you let me know/credit me/not go against any established storylines (yeah, like I could manage actual storylines in a series of PWPs?)

Summary: Set in a Regency AR, there is present-giving and Sirius indulges Remus.

Series: This is the first in what I'm tentatively calling my 'Hogwarts Regency' series

Notes: I was stuck with uncooperative muses and writer's block for nearly four days when I was replying to a post by silly_sooze and this suddenly demanded to be written. I was relieved at the way it began to flow and amused by the result.

Feedback: I would adore comments about this- whatever they may be!



A Private Moment


     As all tales must begin, this one does so on a spring afternoon as I made my way down the dimly lit hallway to the school library. Unlike texts used for my studies, what I had in my possession was a novel. One I had read through twice since borrowing it, in fact. I hugged it close, recalling with much fondness all the witty characters and thrillingly romantic scenes. Admittedly I felt somewhat foolish mooning over such a book now that I was in a relationship and did not need fictional romances to fill that void any longer. But somehow those lovely romances only seemed to assure me that my own was just as thrilling. If not for my promise to return the book that very day and if not for the fact that I am always a man of my word, I would have surely held onto it longer.


     When I rounded the corner, my steps stopped abruptly. The soles of my boots scraped against the stone floor beneath them before coming to a halt a mere breath away from two of my three best friends. I raised a hand at once to tip my hat to both as I nodded with their names. "Mister Prongs. Mister Padfoot. And what might you two scoundrels be doing lurking in the hallway outside of the library? Surely it is not the books for which you have eyes."


     "Books are for scholars and vicars, my dear Mister Moony," Mr. Sirius Black said with a smile, his gentle grey eyes casting a glance at the book I caringly clutched. "And for those who would rather read about life than live it." His fingers fiddled with the scarf around his neck, which I knew meant he was having me on for the fun of it but meant no harm.


     Having dueled with Mr. Black on the subject of literature many times before, I was well prepared to do so again. "In hard times such as these, I am not ashamed of making short retreats into fictional paradises. Not so long as one remembers not to confuse life and novels as the two are far from interchangeable no matter how similar the elicited emotions."


     For a moment, a glint in his eye and a twitch of the corner of his mouth indicated he wished to pursue this further, but an outstanding matter drew his attention. "It is emotion, in fact, which has us hiding in the shadows just steps from the library," he explained. "For, I am not sure you have noticed, Mister Prongs here has taken ill."


     "Ill?" asked I, suddenly concerned. I studied Mr. James Potter's face for a moment but detected no hint of illness. His face had color and his blue eyes were unclouded behind his spectacles. His cheeks held no rosy hue and his hair was no wilder than normal beneath his hat.


     But Mr. Potter nodded regrettably. "I am afraid so."


     "He is," Mr. Black elaborated. "Quite terribly love sick."


     I made a noise of understanding somewhere between amusement and simple confirmation. "I feel quite the fool for not having guessed." Looking over their shoulders and into the library I could now clearly see the object of James' affections sitting alone at a table with a book in front of her. As only another avid reader might notice, I watched closely and saw she was looking at her book but not actually reading it. It was as though she desired to be disturbed, or at least expected to be. Thus I reached out and gripped James' upper arm. "You should go to her at once and confess your heart."


     "This moment, you mean?" asked James. His voice shook from nerves though he cleared it just the same as if it had been merely a tickle in his throat.


     I nodded fervently and Mr. Black joined in. Then, as I straightened Mr. Potter's hat and head boy badge to make him perfectly presentable, Mr. Black continued to speak convincingly. "You must go to your young Miss Evans at once and tell her of your illness. She has a tender heart and will help you to recover, I am most certain of it."


     I continued to nod earnestly. "I daresay she is an excellent choice, Mister Prongs. Well-read and well-dressed--"


     "Both beautiful and brilliant," echoed Mr. Black, continuing to follow my lead.


     "But she would be just as lucky to have such a young gentleman of fortune such as yourself."


     "Fortunate," agreed Mr. Black. "Intelligent, of high rank, well-mannered and easy on the eyes as well."


     Mr. Potter smiled at the compliments, then looked from Mr. Black to me. It seemed his confidence had been sufficiently elevated. Then he made a swift turn on his heal and strode determinedly into the library.


     Together we watched him approach Miss Evans. He inquired about having a word with her and she invited him to sit. I could not hear what transpired between them, but their gestures spoke for themselves. I watched Mr. Prongs' hand go to his forehead, as though indicating fever, then to his chest to cover his beating heart. I saw Miss Evans smile, and watched her wrap a strand of her red hair around a finger as she listened to him speak. I saw her green eyes sparkle as he took her hands and held them in his. And I saw the shy but overwhelming delight on both their faces as they kissed each others' cheeks with affection.


     It was only then that I felt Mr. Black's hand on my lower arm, squeezing with the same amount of affection, if not more. When I turned my gaze and looked into his eyes, I saw how violently in love he was. "I have been longing to find a moment alone with you," he confessed in a low, rough whisper. "I have a present for you."


     I blushed then, as was not uncommon whenever I learned he had a token for me. My Mr. Black was always surprising me with trinkets and sweets to show his affection and I treasured each dearly even if I was forced to hide most in a box at the very bottom and back of my trunk. For my lack of status and fortune all I could give to him were letters from my heart. I knew he kept every one, however, and knew he treasured them as much as I did his gifts.


     If not for my fear of being found out, I would have kissed him immediately in order to express my gratitude. Instead, we withdrew to a private alcove where it would be impossible for anyone to find us were they not possessed of a certain map. We sat close together on a cushioned bench, my dark black robes blending almost seamlessly into his. I set the book aside in hopes of finding far more delightful distractions.


     "I must be forthright about this," said my Mr. Padfoot, "as it is a most unusual gift. The only one of its kind, to be sure, but also strange in its form and meaning as well." He took a small package from his pocket and held it tightly. "I received post from my parents today. And with it a gift to me that I wish to give to you instead."


     I am certain I did not hide my considerable surprise at this. My first thought, of course, was some family heirloom like a ring that Padfoot was supposed to give to the woman he picked to be his wife. However, I quickly decided that all the romance from my novel had clouded my judgment. Still, the concept of the re-given gift was intriguing, especially for its origins and Padfoot's outright confession. "Something from the most ancient and noble house of Black that I am to have? Your parents would surely disown you for giving something like that to someone such as me."


     His smile turned into a grin. "I can but hope, my handsome Moony." He kissed my cheek and slid the package into my hand as he did so.


     I wasted no time in its opening, untying the bow into merely a string, then lifting the top of the box. There was another box inside, but this I recognized as the present itself. I withdrew it with care and held it upon my flat palm as it was small enough for me to do so. It was made of brilliantly polished silver and sported a small latch for its lid. The snuff box, for that is what it was, even had his initials in script on the side. "I am afraid, my good man, that I shall have to change my name in order to accept this gift. Not even a blind man could confuse this with R.J.L. And were I to use it as it now appears, I might be accused of stealing such a fine thing."


     He smiled good-naturedly and nodded. "True enough-- that is, if you had any intentions of using it yourself."


     "Oh?" I asked, even more interested-- interested, suspicious, and playful. "What did you have in mind, then?"


     He took the box from me and lifted the tiny latch to pull back the hinged top. "I know how much you enjoy watching me sneeze. And, as you are well aware, nothing makes me sneeze quite so much as a little snuff."


     I was indeed aware of this fact. It occupied my thoughts and dreams far more regularly than was proper, and my Sirius was aware of that.


     As most gentlemen who take snuff can attest to, the sensation to sneeze is typical. With experience and a small amount of willpower, however, that urge can be suppressed or ignored completely. Mr. Black had never mastered this, though. If I were given a guess, I would say that was partly due to the fact that he actually wanted to sneeze, because he knew how much I adored it. While it is true other things gave me incredible pleasure, his sneezes delighted me like nothing else could.


     With rapt anticipation, I watched him inhale just a bit of the powder which he had tapped out onto the webbing between thumb and forefinger. His sniff was short and strong, and he blinked as the sensation struck him. Already I could see it working on him. His nose wrinkled and his nostrils flared. It was a delightful sight to see, my tender but tough man and his twitching nose.


     A warmth like no other took hold of me. I felt nearly too giddy with anticipation to be still. I could not possibly contain my elation. I found myself pressed right up against his side with my arm around his shoulders to draw him closer. He jumped at how familiar I was being but did not pull away. On the contrary, he gasped and set his hand upon my thigh. Even through my robes the touch was hot and I tingled all the more for it. "Have you a hanky ready then?"


     I had not, but it only took me moments to retrieve mine. I always carried at least two, one to keep clean so that it could be offered to a lady or used as a gesture and a second for more hearty uses. I was prone to head colds and even though this was hardly the season for them, I still carried one just in case. This was the one I handed over to him-- thick, beige, and without my initials or a white flower embroidered in the corner by my mother's hand.


     This one suited Sirius much better. It was large enough to engulf his hand entirely with more fabric to spare, and I had my suspicions that every bit of it would be used before this was ended.


     His breaths were shallow and unsteady for a few moments more. However, the way his whole body tensed heralded its arrival. As did a sudden, sharp breath inwards. "hehhhh... heff-Chushhh! ehhh-Churshhhh!"


     His sneezes were hardly proper. Instead they were free and wild, just as he was. I removed his hat for him lest it fall to the floor and be dirtied. And when he sneezed again, the sneezes seemed even freer as they shook his entire body and snapped his head forward. "hehh-CHShhhh! ehhhh-hihhh-CHISHH!"


     I sat in awe of the sight before me. My heart leapt to my throat as he tapped out a little more snuff and breathed it in again. Immediately, his nose wrinkled and his eyes closed. Swaying a bit, he nonetheless managed to raise the handkerchief all the way to his face. "ehhhh-KRShhhhh! ehhhShushhhh!"


     Sirius scrubbed his nose into the handkerchief in a most undignified sort of way. I adored how needy and desperate he must have felt then, and I held him closer. So close that I could feel his breaths against mine as more sneezes began. So close that I could feel the strained rise and fall of his body with each reluctant breath. "ihhhhCrshhhh! ehhUrshhhhh! hehhhh-Chishhhh!"


     Nothing I could think of could compare to how delightful he looked when sneezing. The fluid motion, one sneeze after another. The way his face scrunched when he felt one approach and relax a moment before one struck as though filled with relief. With his eyes closed as they were, I felt no shame in watching him closely. My whole body tingled with warmth as I longed for more. Sirius did not disappoint me. "hehh... hehCshhhhh! hihhShffshhhh! ehh-hehh-IHFshhhhh! ehhhChshhhhhh!"


     I cherished each and every one, even though I took from him the snuff box so he would not inhale any more. Though I would have loved nothing more than to watch him sneeze all afternoon, I did also wish to keep his suffering to a minimum. He looked grateful as I closed the box, though the look did not last long. With the handkerchief again refolded, he buried his nose in the folds. "hehhhChrchhhhh! KShhhhh! Ihhhh-CShhhhh!"


     He paused, waiting, but no more seemed to come. Mr. Black wiped at his nose, then he sat for a moment with a most thoughtful expression. Suddenly, a final, single sneeze shook him. "hehhhChishhhh!"


     When he lifted his head again, he was sniffling. One of his hands moved to my neck and deft fingers slipped a button through its hole. He struggled more with the second than the first, but it was unbuttoned without much trouble. Passion was racing through me now. And though it was the most indecent thing I could think of, I wanted him to take me now, right there in the alcove, while he was still sniffling. Confronted with him as he was now, however, I would not have lasted more than a second.


     But he did not take me, nor did he unbutton my robes all the way. He undid just enough to pull back my robes on one side, exposing my pressed shirt and fine scarf beneath. I could hardly breathe. All that was real were his penetrating eyes and his hot touch. He ducked his head and rubbed his nose into the handkerchief protruding from my breast pocket. With his handsome, runny nose just above my madly, deafeningly pounding heart, it was all I could do to contain myself.


     When finished, he pulled the handkerchief out and dabbed it at his nose. Then, like a young sheep with his mother, Mr. Black nuzzled his face into my shoulder and neck. "Did you find that enjoyable, Moony?"


     In answer, I wrapped my arms entirely around him and placed a soft kiss on his forehead. I found his skin warmed from the effort of so much sneezing. "What tremendous luck," whispered I, "that I am in love with the only man in all of England whose nose tickles from the finest of snuff."


     A light chuckle was directed into my shirt and robes, and he shook in my arms. "Not the only man, I am sure. But perhaps the most handsome of that kind." He looked up and mirrored my smile with one of his own.


     "No doubt the most modest, as well."


     He deserved the comment, and took it graciously. "Yes, but I am also honest. I do not believe I shall be able to sneeze for you any more today." He rubbed the handkerchief against his nose. "Besides, I wish to save some for later so that I may be able to sneeze for you at other times." His grin and the glint in his eye were unmistakable. "I wish to drive you mad with desire when you are unable to hold me like this or show any emotion. Such as when we are in class together."


     "You playful scamp!" Truthfully, I was quite attracted to this idea, and it did nothing but increase the warm tingling throughout my body. "I should wonder what the professors would do to you were they to find you taking snuff in class. I wonder what others would say to your sneezing..." An especially humorous thought struck me. "Think of Snape!"


     Padfoot made an especially rude face. "I don't care what that hermit thinks of me."


     "Manners, my charming Padfoot! Manners!" I laughed, though felt rather sad in my heart of hearts. "After all, you and I are bound to similar fates for we shall never take wives and society shall never accept us for what we are."


     He nodded in agreement, though he looked far more depressed on that note.


     "Come now," said I, and I dropped the box into my pocket. "I still need to return my book to the library and I would be interested to see how James and Lily are getting along."


     Again, he nodded and stood. Like a perfect gentleman he offered me his hand. I took it and he touched his lips to it as softly as flower petals. Then he helped me to my feet. But when we emerged from the alcove and walked down the hallway, we did not touch. He strode confidently and I hugged the book to my chest with both arms. No one watching, from other students to the youngest son in the Black family would have been able to guess we had been so intimate.


     But the knowledge and memory were not so easily lost on me. "I enjoyed our moment and my gifts," I whispered to him. "I look forward to repaying you later by satisfying your special desire." If shy, embarrassed, and excited could be wrapped up into a single expression, it would have been the one Sirius sported at the sound of my words. Quickly and quietly we made secret plans to meet up in an abandoned classroom later that evening. But that is an entirely different tale to be shared some other time.