Title: Payment Due
Fandom: Harry Potter
Characters: Sirius Black/Remus Lupin
Rating: PG (the lads are in bed- sleeping!)
Spoilers: You should read book 3
Disclaimer: This universe is not mine. These characters are not mine. I get no money of any kind.
It had been a hard, stressful, weakening night. Remus had tossed and turned, gripped with feverish transformations until the peak of the full moon. And then he turned from human to wolf, as was the monthly chore. Sirius had kept him calm, holding him at bay as a dog, luring him into harmless and peaceful sleep as a lover. Sirius always kept him sane, even as a wolf. Some nights were more difficult than others, and Remus had kept them both up until dawn whimpering with hurt and fatigue this time.
Remus Lupin woke later that morning, startled out of sleep by some undistinguishable loud sound. He yawned, moving his jaw back and forth to loosen it- he'd been clenching his teeth, grinding them tightly. He shivered, wet with sweat and slipped further under the ripped, torn covers. "Siri?" he asked in mild confusion, feeling arms around him and a heavy form beside his in the bed.
"Sorry," came a soft reply, laced with a hint of embarrassment. The body beside his rolled over, rocking the bed slightly. "I had to sneeze."
Remus nodded and the perfectly understandable, certainly excusable notion. "It was terribly cold last night." He shivered again at the thought of the chill. "And it still is." He looked up to the window, catching glimpses of the outside through the small space between curtains. "Cloudy winter morning... it should snow again soon." He'd been hoping for some sun, some warming, friendly sun. But it was not to be this month.
With a sniffle, Sirius pushed his head further into the pillow, with no intentions of paying attention to the weather. "I was up all night in the cold, trying to keep you calm, put you to sleep. Even with the wolfsbane in your system you seemed like you wanted to prowl. I was scared to... go to sleep....even as a dog." He stopped, as if someone had placed a freezing spell upon him. Then suddenly his palm went flat against his nose and mouth. One breath. Two breaths. Then--"heh-shhh!"
"Bless you," Remus said rather absent-mindedly, thinking nothing at all of it, nuzzling into Sirius for warmth. "Feel better after a good sneeze, I hope?"
Sirius shook his head. "Worse, really. I think I'm--"
Too smart, too quick, he put it together in an instant. "A cold, Sirius? Really?" He felt the man's forehead. "You don't feel warm at all."
"No," he replied, sniffling. The light, underlying congestion in his voice was suddenly more noticeable when he spoke. "But I do feel sick."
Concerned he was, but also aware of his abilities and duties. He shifted, pulling himself up in bed and holding his arms out. "Come here and let me hold you, then."
Sirius paused, sitting up, rubbing two knuckles beneath his nose. "Remus," he spoke slowly, as if watching his tactfulness. "You only feel strong enough to sit up because you just woke. You can't very well expect to hold me--"
With a strong smile to back himself up. "Have a little faith in me, Padfoot. I think I know when I'm well enough to hold my lover in bed." And with a kiss through the air, "And I think I know when I'm needed to. Now come here and lie back on me."
Sirius sat back against the man, lounging so that he was half lying, half sitting. He sat up for a few moments, before Remus pulled him back, easing him so that the man put his weight against the other. Remus draped his arms over Sirius' shoulder, folding them against the chest, securely. He held the man for a few moments, closing his eyes, beginning to drift back to sleep.
When Sirius pulled forward, Remus found himself jerked back to be both alert and concerned. "Sirius?"
Sirius threw back the covers, heading straight for the bathroom. He mumbled something Remus didn't quite catch on the way over. The absence was explained by the sudden sound of two more sneezes "ehh-Epshhh! Het-cheshh!" and some thorough nose blowing. The man emerged from the bathroom with a tissue wadded in his hand and a rather dejected sort of look on his face.
Remus held his arms out again, with the same inviting smile, the same warm eyes. Sirius lay back down in bed against Remus, closing his eyes with a sniffle and a "Sorry. I had to sneeze again." Remus nodded it away, running a hand through his hair, directing some wayward strands one way, others another, attempting to make some sense of the sleep-tossed hair. It wasn't long before his tired eyes gave way and he began to nod off, his arms around Sirius' front, a tight hug loosening as he fell to sleep.
Then Sirius was pulling away yet again. When he turned, pushing the blankets down again, Remus could see his face was tense, mouth dropped open, eyes squinting, nostrils flaring. The man clearly needed to sneeze badly. Though he didn't seem to be holding it back, it didn't quite seem to be coming over him as quickly as before either. Ample warning, it seemed, as Sirius ducked back into the confines of the bathroom, out of sight. Sneezes followed almost immediately. "ehhhCheshhh! heh-shhhhh! Ehhp-tushhh!" He sniffled loudly, then was heard blowing his nose again. He returned a few blows later, dragging his feet, looking worn out.
He lay back into Remus' welcoming hold, enveloped in warmth and caring. "Sorry again. I had--"
"Had to sneeze?" Remus chuckled, nipping his ear with a tug and a kiss. "It's quite all right." Sirius yawned widely, making Remus tired just to see it. They pulled the covers back up, snuggling beneath, listening to nothing but their breathing and the pounding of their hearts.
When suddenly, again, Sirius tore himself away. This time, with the balled-up tissue beneath his nose and mouth, he got up. He looked on the verge of a sneeze once again, but this time it seemed a stronger urge, more immediate and compelling. The blankets followed him for a few steps, trailing behind on the ground as his pace quickened. A few steps from the door, the sneeze had its way with him. One hand held the molding on the doorway, steadying himself. "ehh-Chishhh!" One step closer. "heh-Cheshhh!" And another closer. "ihhshhhh!" Making him stumbled forward through the doorway and into the bathroom again. "ehhhChhshhh!" He blew his nose almost immediately, taking a few minutes longer to return this time. "Sorry..." he apologized, sitting down on the edge of the bed. "I had to sneeze again."
"Mmmm," Remus acknowledged, listening to the man a few feet from him sniffle. "I am beginning to understand why the boys sometimes call you Snuffles by name." He patted the bed beside him. "Why don't we forget cuddling and why don't' we forget formalities? You'll disturb me less by sneezing than by getting up out of bed repeatedly." He reached out and rubbed a hand down Sirius' back. "Come back to bed, Padfoot. Nurse your cold with rest." In a flash, he waved his wand and the tissue box from the bathroom appeared on Sirius' bedside table.
In agreement, he nodded and climbed under the covers once again. His pillows were propped up, the blankets tucked around. Sirius was exhausted, one look at his scruffy, worn face could tell them that. But the sniffles were ever-presently annoying. Every time Remus began to drift off, he was pulled back by a loud sniffle or a muffled sneeze from the man beside him. Or worse, at the feeling of the man squirming about, fidgeting from lying on his back to his left side, then his right, then back again.
Finally, with Remus' head aching from lack of sleep, he sighed and sat up. "This isn't working."
It was obvious, and Sirius nodded reluctantly. "Sorry," he whispered, plucking two tissues from the box and giving his nose another blow. He sounded sad, disheartened, guilty.
And Remus noted the emotions. "It's all right... if this is a cold you're coming down with, I can't expect you to suddenly stop your nose from tickling just because I need some sleep." He reached over Sirius and put the tissues in his lap. "Why don't you try taking a shower? The hot steam should loosen you up, make it easier for you to breathe."
Sirius nodded. "I am rather congested." He stood, taking the tissues with him. "I'll be back in a few minutes, then."
A few minutes turned into twenty three, but when Sirius emerged from the steamy bathroom, rubbing his hair dry with a towel around his neck, his congestion had backed off a little bit. His nose still tickled, in fact he'd sneezed freely in the shower a number of times, but there wasn't so much head cold stuffiness there now. "Remus, that worked well. Thank you for--" as the towel fell from over his head, he saw his lover quite asleep in bed, still half sitting up.
Sirius smiled, hanging the damp towel over the back of a chair, and headed to the bed. He eased Remus down beneath the covers and tucked the sides in around him tightly. Sick, he dared not leave a gentle kiss on his lips, so instead he blew one from the doorway on the way out to the sitting room.
* * *
Sirius, awake in bed, lay on one side. Propped up on an elbow with his head cocked and resting on his palm, he sniffled and winced as he swallowed. He was not feeling well at all, and his condition seemed to get worse every waking moment without Remus there to make him feel better or at least keep his mind from immediate discomfort. He'd spent much of the afternoon curled on the couch, attempting to read. But the words became blurry, and he continues to lose his place as he stopped to need to sneeze or blow his nose. But now his throat was starting to hurt, especially when he swallowed. And the hearing in one ear kept going out. Sometimes he could clear it with a yawn or a good blow but most times it was as if he had water in it. Very annoying.
"Remus?" he whispered softly, trying to ease the man from sleep. "Remus Lupin?" Sniffley and desperate for someone to take care of him, he nudged the man a little with his nose and face, as a dog might do with his snout. "Remus? Moony?" No response at all. The man was clearly sound asleep.
It only took him a moment to remember what had made the man wake earlier that day, with a smile. His nose was rather ever-tickly. And it wouldn't be too difficult to wake Remus with another sneeze. But if it were to come sooner than later, he favored the sooner rather than the later. "Remus?" he tried once more, to no avail. He sniffed. Waited. Sniffed again. Wiggled his nose. Sniffed. Nothing. Just congestion and some light tickling centered in his nostrils. After a second of thought, he rubbed a finger lightly beneath his nose, especially against the tip. And that was what did it, tickling intensely suddenly, pitching him forward with a loud double, "ehh-Hishhh! hept-Tushhh!"
Like a first year charm, it worked. Remus stirred as Sirius sniffled into a fresh tissue. The handsome eyes flickered open, then closed again and he relaxed again into sleep.
Pleased with the response, Sirius tried again, face drooping, breath heaving. Then, "ehh-Keshhho!" He made sure he sneezed fully, yet not too close to Remus.
This time, Remus stirred and his eyes stayed open. He turned to his side with a yawn and a small stretch. "Siri?" he mumbled.
Sirius sniffled. "Oh, Remus. I didn't realize you were awake..." He tried not to let a pleased grin give him away. "Sleep well?"
Remus nodded, giving a greater stretch. "Mmmm, yes. You?"
Sirius shook his head. "I, uh... " he sniffled.
Sitting up, Remus sat up and placed his palm gently against Sirius' forehead. "You feel somewhat warm."
Taking the man's hand between his palms, he rubbed the hand. "That's because your hands are like ice."
"I could use a nice hot drink," he smiled. "And you... I think you could use a little bit of me?" Remus tore his hand away and stroked Sirius' stubble-lain chin. "Go lie down on the couch and I'll build a fire and get a drink." He moved his hand from chin to right behind the man's ear, and scratched with a grin.
Sirius smiled, hanging his head. The man knew him much too well. "Thank you, Remus."
Standing, pulling Sirius to his feet as well, "Don't thank me until we're snuggled together on the couch and you're feeling better."
* * *
It was difficult not to feel better while lying in Remus' most capable, loving arms. Despite his sniffling and sneezing, of course. The fire burned well, eating the wood slowly with gentle blue and purple flames which danced and sparked magically. It was a simple fireplace, just as their cabin was simple. Simple but theirs, in a world that had opposed them for so many years.
"I think I need--"
"Go ahead and sneeze," Remus laughed, holding up a few tissues. "Silly, you don't need my permis--"
"ehhh-Ihhhshhh! Keh-Teshoooo!" Sirius sneezed into cupped hand, then tore the tissues away from Remus to tend to his nose.
"Bless you." He held Sirius in his arms, and they were curled on the couch together on a blanket. But as the blanket was not over them, their warmth came from each other and the fire. "Tomorrow if you're still feeling this sneezey I'll take you over to Madame Pomfrey to be checked out."
Strongly, he shook his head. "I'd rather not. I just want to stay here where I can be sick in private." He sniffed, paused, then directed several more sneezes into his hand. "ehh-Keshhh! Heh-Cheshhhhoo! Hih... heh... heh-Ehshooo!" He sniffled, rubbing his hand against his nose and face. "I want to be sick in my own bed.." He sniffled wetly and managed to suppress a yawn. "You know how I get, Remus."
Yes, Remus knew. One did not live with someone for years, and one did not know someone since childhood without getting some sense of the person. A tight, squeezey hug was his answer. "Fine then," he said, reaching over with his spare arm and securing a book. "I'll just read to you?"
Sirius nodded, sipping from an overflowing foaming goblet. "Whatever you like, sniff, sniff, Remus."
Remus kissed his cheek and whispered, "I know, you'll be asleep before I finish a paragraph."
Grinning, sniffling, Sirius was forced to agree and closed tired eyes already.