Title: Off-Color

Author: tarotgal

Fandom: Harry Potter

Rating: G

Pairing: Remus/Sirius

Disclaimer: Not my characters, just my active imagination

Summary: It's Halloween and Remus has a head cold. That's not a surprise...

Notes: The idea for this struck me as I was coding Vignette's story 'Awake'. I wrote this in honor of Halloween 2005. The sections are exactly 500 words long each.




     Not ten minutes down the hallway, Remus Lupin fell back against a wall. He dug around in the right pocket of his robes for a handkerchief, feeling nothing but a few balled-up tissues. He wasn't much for swearing, but a few of the more colorful words the Marauders used when stuck in dreadful situations popped into his mind. He held a hand up to his face as he fumbled with the other in the left pocket.


     The sneeze came just as his hand closed around the very thing he'd been searching for and another less than tasteful word filled his mind as he doubled over. "ihhhYIHshhhh!" His two hands met at chest-level as he wiped one dry. He sniffed liquidly and mopped at his nose with the hanky. "Wretched cold," he muttered through a sigh. "ihhh..." His head snapped forward. "HIHShhh! ihhhKShhh!"


     Remus was certainly no stranger to head colds. It was something about the colder months and the terribly drafty castle that brought them about. He seemed to attract colds like a magnet. He'd felt a bit weary and off-color earlier that day, but a cup of tea had put him right. Or so he'd thought at the time. For now he was a very sniffly, sneezy magnet who couldn't manage to make it from one room to the other without stopping in-between to tend to his nose.


     He sniffed hard again and lifted his head. Several girls ran past him, wearing orange and black ribbons in their hair. He could hear the excitement rising from the Great Hall even though he was not yet there. He would expect nothing less than a fine celebration for this year's Halloween at Hogwarts. Dumbledore always went all-out for this sort of thing. And considering this was also a Hogsmede weekend, the Remus anticipated that the excitement in the Great Hall would be at a fever pitch.


     However, Remus did not feel especially festive just now. He felt like going to his room and curling up in his four-poster bed with a book and another cup of tea. And, perhaps, a embarrassingly tall stack of handkerchiefs. "ehhhh..." He brought his current handkerchief to his face, rubbing his nose through it for a moment, then, "ehhh-ihhh-YIHHKChhhh!" His breath caught almost immediately afterwards. His jaw dropped wide and his body tensed up even more than before. "IhhhTChuhhh!" His blows were moist and deep but thankfully muffled by the handkerchief.


     No one in the hallway paid him any attention. In all the excitement over the holiday, there was no reason they should notice him, really. He had a feeling that might change once he got to the Great Hall. He could imagine being swarmed with well-wishers and advice and he wasn't overly anxious to call such attention to his cold. Though he could also envision the looks he'd get from Snape or Madam Pomfrey and definitely preferred the well-wishers to sinister glances and smothering. Somehow, the hallway seemed like the place to be for now.






     Not ten minutes down the passage, Sirius Black froze and fell back against the wall. It was busy now, as everyone was headed into the Great Hall for the Halloween Feast, but through the masses of students he spotted Remus. He wasn't really surprised at this as he'd been attracted to Remus like a magnet since their very first day at Hogwarts.


     Remus stood snuffling into a handkerchief, looking a little lonely and looking quite off-color. Sirius saw Remus' lip twitch slightly and knew a sneeze was brewing perhaps even before Remus knew it himself. But he already had the handkerchief up and nearby. He buried his nose deep in its folds as he snapped forward. "ihhhh-YIHShhhh! Hehh... hehh-IHHChahhh! HihhShuhh!"


     "He's come down with another bloody cold," Sirius whispered to himself with a considerable amount of sympathy for his friend. He had been hopeful that maybe it was just a case of the sniffles and fatigue from the fact that the full moon was so near. Sirius knew it was near, and could practically sense it was near. Just as he could sense the discomfort Remus was in just now. It was clearly a head cold, though.


     Sirius wanted to rush right over, take Remus in his arms, and sweep him off to bed. After brewing some tea, Sirius would curl up with Remus under the layers of covers and read him to sleep, taking care that there was a liberal supply of fresh handkerchiefs as Remus' colds always tended to require so many.


     "hihhh-YIHChhhh-KISHHH!" The strong double-sneeze was almost too much for Sirius to bear. Remus had never been one for public displays of affection, but Sirius wanted so badly to go to him and hold him right then and there until the sneezes passed. It felt horrible to know that could not happen. Damn Remus for being so irresistible and needing him.


     "ihhhh-yih-HIHShhhh!" Remus sneezed again, and blew his nose. The crowd had thinned by now and finally Remus left his spot to head towards the Great Hall. Sirius left his own spot and followed Remus with his gaze. He saw the doors to the Hall swing open for a moment, revealing the brilliant decorations from colorful streamers to levitating, lit pumpkins and candles. He saw the sea of students with their bright faces and oblivious smiles, just as he'd seen in Hogsmede earlier that day. He watched as Remus in his patched robes disappeared out of sight, heading for a seat.


     Sirius sighed deeply. More than almost anything, he wanted to go to Remus and help Remus feel better. But he could not. There was something he needed to do that he felt was even more important. Sirius ran a hand through his long, tangled hair. With a deep breath he turned on his heals and walked away towards Gryffindor Tower, desperate to get to the third years' dormitory room. Distracted by the sight of Remus, however, Sirius forgot the fact that he didn't know the password.