by Victoria P.

Remus was engrossed in the latest adventures of Endora Morehead, Wizard Detective, while Sirius lounged on the couch, thinking aloud about the best way to remove his mother's portrait, when a door slammed somewhere on the floor above, and Hermione rushed down the stairs, eyes bright with tears.

"Hermione?" Remus asked, setting his book down and removing his reading glasses. "Are you all right?"

"Does she look like she's bloody all right?" Sirius muttered, sitting up quickly, and Remus bit his lip to keep from smiling at Sirius's protectiveness.

Hermione sniffed. "Ron is -- I don't understand. He says these things to me-- I know he thinks he's being funny, and he's upset about Mr. Weasley, but--" She rubbed a hand across her nose and Remus handed her his handkerchief. "Thanks. I'm sorry for being such a --"

"Girl?" Sirius said. Remus threw him the Glare of Death, which he ignored, as he always did. "It's okay. I mean, you're a girl, right? You're allowed to behave like one."

Remus crossed his arms and sat back, interested to see where Sirius was going with this.

"The thing is," Sirius continued, "Ron is a fifteen-year-old boy, and take it from me, fifteen-year-old boys are utter gits most of the time. Except maybe Moony there." He jerked his chin at Remus, who snorted and raised an eyebrow in response. "He was more mature than the rest of us combined."

"I suppose," Hermione said doubtfully, shooting a glance at Remus for confirmation. At least the tears were gone.

He nodded. "It's true. The part about boys being idiots. Not the part about me being more mature." He cocked his head for a moment, thinking. "Well, compared with Sirius and James, a five-year-old throwing a tantrum was more mature, so really, it wasn't difficult to be the grown-up one in our little group, if you see what I mean. But I was no more mature than Ron at his age. I just faked it better."

"I should probably be offended, but he's right," Sirius said ruefully. Remus threw a pillow at him, which he ducked easily.

Hermione wasn't seeing the humor. "But he doesn't treat Harry like this. He doesn't say mean things or tease or--"

Remus bit his lip again, as Sirius burst out with, "Well, of course he doesn't, silly. He doesn't like Harry."

"Of course he likes Harry," she replied, brow furrowing. "Harry's his best mate, or so he's always saying."

Remus and Sirius exchanged a look, and Sirius said, "But he doesn't like him, like him. Unless there are things about Ron we don't know? Remus?"

Remus shook his head, not trusting himself to speak.

"Hmph," Hermione grunted, frustration evident in every line of her body. "But what does that mean? You sound just like Lavender and Parvati."

Remus couldn't hold back the laughter this time, picturing Sirius with the two girls, braiding hair and exchanging secrets. Sirius threw the pillow back at him with a mock-threatening look before turning back to Hermione.

"When a man and a woman--" Sirius began, and stopped when Remus choked. "You think you could do a better job, Professor?"

"No, no. Go right ahead," Remus replied, gesturing for him to keep going. "I wouldn't miss this for all the tea in China."

"And since everyone knows you are fiendishly addicted to the nasty stuff, I reckon that means you'd like to hear the rest of what I have to say?"

"But of course, my dear Mr. Padfoot."

Hermione made another strangled noise, and Remus was sure that if they'd been Harry and Ron, she'd have scolded them for going off on a tangent.

Sirius gathered his tattered dignity and said, "Sometimes when a boy has certain feelings for a young lady of his acquaintance, he behaves badly toward her, says and does things simply to get under her skin, because it's the only way he knows to get her attention focused solely on him, instead of on her books or homework." He smiled nostalgically. "You can't even imagine the things James did to attract Lily's attention, or what I --" he broke off, as if he'd revealed too much.

"Do go on," Remus said, leaning forward attentively.

"Hush, you."

Hermione's face was flushed, her eyes bright again. "You think Ron fancies me?"

"I thought you were the cleverest witch in your year, Hermione," Sirius said. "If it's taken you this long to suss that out, I'm worried for the future."

"I-- Oh." Hermione sniffed, and launched herself at Sirius, who fell against the back of the couch with an, "Oof!" She hugged him tightly and after a startled moment, he hugged her back, a huge grin on his face.

Remus smiled at that, and when Hermione broke away from Sirius, she approached him with more decorum. "Thank you, too, Professor," she said, and gave him an awkward hug as well.

She pulled back and patted her hair just as Ron came down the stairs, looking sheepish.



"I'm sorry I was a git before. I'm just--"

"It's okay, Ron. I understand," she said, a small smile on her lips. "Do you want to," she hesitated, "hang some mistletoe in the drawing room?"

The tops of Ron's ears turned red and he said, "Cool. Sure." He held out a hand, and Hermione shyly took it.

Sirius lay back, arms crossed behind his head, as they left the room.

"Still think I can't be the godfather Harry needs?"

Remus frowned. "I never said that. I know you were worried--"

"I leave the worrying to you, Remus. You're much better at it."

"So you do admit I'm better than you at some things."

"At worrying. Yes."

Remus rose from the chair and moved to the couch, nudging Sirius's hip with his own to make room.

"Just at worrying?" he asked, leaning over and running a finger across Sirius's lips.

Sirius flicked out his tongue and Remus felt wet warmth against his fingertips; it sent a thrill through him. "Why don't you give me a demonstration and we'll compare notes afterward?" Sirius asked, sliding a hand around Remus's nape and pulling him closer.

"Mmm, sounds like a good plan," Remus responded, brushing a light kiss over Sirius's mouth. "And you can tell me all about these young ladies you acted the prat for while we were at school."

Sirius laughed against his mouth. "Jealous, Moony?"

Remus rearranged himself so he was lying next to Sirius on the couch, unconcerned that Molly or the children could walk in at any moment. He dropped kisses along Sirius's neck and jaw. "Only if you let someone else do this." And he slid his tongue into Sirius's mouth.

After a leisurely snog, Sirius said, "No, I think you're the only one who'll be doing that."

"I'm quite good at it, too."

"And they call me the conceited one," Sirius grumbled, initiating another kiss. "You're as arrogant as I am."

"Maybe, but I hide it better."


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