Fic: Black Winter and Golden Dreams

Title: Black Winter and Golden Dreams
Author: huldrejenta
Fandom: Harry Potter
Characters & Pairings: Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot & Prongs, Remus/Sirius
Rating & Warnings: G
Word Count: 2,700
Summary: When you're young and in love, sometimes even Sirius Black wants some advice.
Notes: Written for mutuisanimis at the 2014 rs_small_gifts. Marauder fluff ohoi!
Thank you so much to starfishstar for the wonderful beta job ♥

As it turned out, it was something Peter said that finally got the ball rolling.

The four of them were on their way from Hagrid’s hut back to the castle. It was bitterly cold, and Sirius couldn’t wait to get inside.

"This is going to be the coldest winter ever," James said. The dark blue December sky was floating above them, pretending to be a warm, comforting blanket for them to crawl under. Shivering, the four friends pulled their winter cloaks tighter around themselves in an attempt to fight off the cold as they crossed the frosty grounds.

"Do you think they'll cancel Quidditch practice?" Remus' voice was muffled behind his Gryffindor scarf, leaving only parts of his cheeks visible, flushed red by the cold.

James' laughter wrapped around them like an extra layer of clothes. "Hah," he said. "There's no way they'll cancel it unless our hands literally freeze to the brooms, especially for us sixth years and the seventh years.”

He exhaled happily, for once not adding his usual mantra that you're taking up too much space unless you're living on the edge.

Sirius would've smiled if his cheeks weren't frozen stiff. James could have his enthusiasm for Quidditch practice in this weather all to himself. Even though Padfoot loved winter and snow, Sirius was more of a summer person. And Padfoot, for all his impressive qualities, was an appallingly bad Quidditch player, leaving Sirius to fend for himself on the broom.

“I have a strong feeling Lily is going to talk to me at dinner,” James announced.

“What you need, Prongs,” Peter said, “is to find her password.”

“Password? You mean like a password to the common room?”

“Sort of, but I’m talking about the password to her heart. I’ve read all about it.”

James shook his head, laughing, and continued his brisk pace. “Never heard of such a thing.”

Sirius hadn’t either, and he was too cold right now to think much about it.

One great thing about winter, though, was how close to one another the cold made them walk, how they huddled together, how Sirius was able to lean into the swish of Remus' arm against his own as they strode towards the castle.

He wondered if Remus could hear it, the sound of soft fabric moving against soft fabric. Did Remus sense the quiet thrill of being so close? Did he notice the faster-than-usual thud of Sirius’ heart? Re-mus, Re-mus, Re-mus, it said. And then, what Sirius sincerely hoped Remus couldn't hear: Grow-a-spine. Grow-a-spine. Grow-a-spine.

Coming inside from the cold and into the Entrance Hall was like stepping into another world full of warmth and holiday spirit. Hagrid was yet to bring the traditional twelve Christmas trees into the castle, but the fairies were already there, flying around the everlasting icicles by the staircase banisters while waiting for the trees.

It's Christmas soon, Sirius’ mind piped up as he joined the crowd into the Great Hall, just in time for dinner. You should tell him before Christmas. Tell him, and make a warm memory for when even celebrating with the Potters can’t chase away all cold thoughts.

Sirius couldn't quite explain why this was so hard. It shouldn't be. This was Remus, after all, whom Sirius had known since he was eleven and loved almost as long, first with the childlike wonder of meeting someone whose mind was clever and whose heart was golden, and now with the affection of someone about to become a man.

His attention was pulled back to the Great Hall by James’ familiar sigh of awe. Clearly, Lily had been spotted. They had reached the Gryffindor table and slouched down onto their usual seats at the end, as far away from sharp-eyed Heads of House as possible. Lily sat with her friends, not giving James so much as a glance.

"I really thought she'd notice me this time." James wasn't usually one to be deterred, but today it seemed to be getting to him. Maybe Sirius wasn't the only one who'd like an extra warm memory in his luggage for Christmas.

"She might still come around," Remus said, clapping his hand on James' shoulder while Sirius helped himself to a decent-sized portion of shepherd's pie.

"I told you, Prongs,” said Peter, “it's because you haven't found her password yet. I read all about it in Witch Weekly." Peter had that eager look on his face, the one that said his enthusiasm was stronger than his judgment.

"They had this great article on how to get someone to notice you. If you want the object of your affection to fall in love with you, it's important to find that one gateway into their heart, and the gateway won't open unless you have the correct password."

Sirius took it as a sign of his own desperation that he might actually be interested in hearing more about this. Peter Pettigrew giving out dating advice to Sirius Black wasn't a scenario he'd ever envisioned, but why not at least listen for a bit?

James, though, clearly felt no need for help. "I don't need a sodding password," he snorted. Obviously the food had brought back his confidence. "It's only a matter of time before Lily notices how charming I am. I'm perfectly capable of handling this on my own."

"Absolutely." Remus nodded gravely. "You have, after all, discovered that bragging about dropping Dungbombs around the castle isn't the way to true love, and you realised it all by yourself."

"No offence, Peter," said James, opting to ignore Remus' comment, "but it sounds like a load of rubbish if you ask me."

"Meanwhile," Peter said, "I have actually been on dates, real dates that didn't take place in my imagination, which is more than can be said about you."

Fair point. Sirius drank some pumpkin juice, hoping that Peter would just get on with it.

"It's quite simple, once you know what to look for," Peter said. "The article says that you need to pay close attention to the person you'd like to woo - hey, stop laughing, they aren’t my own words, I’m just telling you what it said in the article! Anyway, the point is, as your first step, to figure out what the other person is genuinely interested in. And not to barge in with your own passions and whims, assuming that will impress the one you like."

James actually managed to look suitably embarrassed, though he wasn't fooling anyone.

"So, first you observe," Peter continued, "then you make a list of their interests, what they like to do or talk about, what it takes to bring out that special light in their eyes. What makes them look like a rose ready to blossom, the article says. And then you systematically try the things on the list one by one, talking about it or casually carrying around a book or something about, let's say, making quilts, if your chosen one loves to make quilts, or maybe getting involved with some of the activities they care about."

Peter took a break to eat a few mouthfuls, apparently happy that his friends were playing along. Or at least listening.

"According to the article, there's a very good chance that somewhere down the line you'll hit the right button to push and find the password to their heart. From here on out it should be easy. Or so this lady in Witch Weekly says. She's been married five times, so she ought to know what she's talking about."

"Does it say how you can find the password if the list-thing doesn't work?" Sirius tried his best to sound nonchalant, suspecting he was failing badly.

"Oh, yes." Peter must've read that article quite a few times, judging by his swift reply. "If you try everything on your list and there's still no breakthrough, then you need to dig deeper. You have to find The Reason."

Peter let those words linger while he tried to catch up with the others, digging into the food.

"The Reason?" Sirius prompted.

"Precisely. The Reason why this person is so important to you, exactly what it is about them that makes them so special. And then you do some gesture based on that. It should work. Or so the article says."

Lying in his comfortable four-poster bed that evening, Sirius was wide awake. He could hear James snoring, Peter mumbling in his sleep and Remus’ even breathing, but his mind was occupied elsewhere.

The English language didn’t have the words to express how ridiculous this was. Taking advice from Witch Weekly. Looking for a password. On the other hand, it was the password to Remus' heart. Which made all the difference.

Okay, if he was going to do this, he might as well do it properly. It was time to make that list Peter had been talking about, the list that would lead to success in the subtle art of courtship. Sirius sat up, summoned parchment and a quill, adjusted his pillows and covers around himself and waited for a flurry of ideas to enter his mind.

When none came within the first thirty seconds, he was only moderately worried. Yes, normally he would be brimming with fabulous ideas by now, but it was late, and even Sirius Black was in need of sleep every now and then.

When the minutes ticked by and he was still coming up with nothing, the first signs of frustration started to creep in. This was Remus, for Merlin's sake, whom he knew almost as well as he knew himself. It shouldn't be hard to think of what his interests or passions were.

And it wasn't. Remus liked comics and crosswords and tea. He adored flying and enjoyed making things with his hands the Muggle way. No need to think too hard about this.

The problem was - how had Peter put it? - to find the right button to push. He needed to find a fresh angle. Because honestly, they'd already been talking about all of this since they were eleven. Sirius had solved crosswords with Remus, he'd flown with him and admired the things he'd made, and obviously he hadn't stumbled across any stupid password in the process.

Over to Plan B, then. Sirius’ Plan B usually consisted of making things up along the way when Plan A didn't work. But now it was time for an actual Plan B.

Figure out just what it was about the other person that made them so special, Peter had said. But Sirius had done that already. He’d even told it to James.

"He sees me," Sirius had said, hoping that James wouldn’t laugh. "He's always there for me, looking at me like I'm the only person who exists." James had sat silent, letting Sirius talk. "I know he's like that with everyone. He can make people feel special, in his own, Remus-y way, and I..."

He'd shot James a look, thankful for his friend's ability to just be there for him. "When I'm the focus of his attention, when I'm the one person who - just for a moment - is the centre of Remus' universe, it makes me feel safe, in a way I didn't know I needed." A heavy sigh had escaped him. "Merlin, I've got it bad."

And now, sitting in his bed with an empty sheet of parchment in his hand, Sirius knew how true his admission to James had been. In the light from his wand, he could see that Remus hadn't pulled his curtains completely closed. His hair shone where the soft light landed, and his hand rested under his head.

The sight was magnetic. It wrapped around Sirius’ heart, making it swell and ache. He knew exactly what Remus meant to him, but he had no idea what to do about it.

With that notion flying around in his head, Sirius abandoned the list and let his head hit the pillow with a soft thump. He listened to the wind outside until he finally fell asleep.

Morning found Sirius sitting in the windowsill of their dormitory, huddling in a woollen jumper over his pyjamas, watching the ice roses on the window. It had started to snow, heavy snow that filled the air before covering the grounds.

James and Peter had already left for breakfast. Remus liked to sleep in on Saturdays, and Sirius did his best not to wake him.

"Hey." A sleepy head peeked out from the curtains of Remus’ bed. Sirius turned around, tucked his bare feet under him and found a smile.

But Remus wouldn’t be Remus if he let that smile fool him.

"I could hear you thinking all the way over here, Sirius. Are you planning on ever telling me what’s troubling you?" His voice was soft from sleep, gentle, promising reassurance and understanding. Sirius locked eyes with Remus, and there it was. That magical look. Sirius’ chest constricted painfully.

"That's the problem right there," he admitted into his knees. "I can't find the password, and I'll never get out of the friend zone. I'll never get together with the one I want, and I'm no good by myself. James will get together with Lily, and Peter will find love, and you’ll probably end up with someone sensible and nice who’ll never hurt you and who isn’t anything like me, and I don’t want that, because I want you to be with me.”

Sweet Merlin. Sirius had a habit of not asking his brain for its opinion before speaking, but even he had limits. Now he’d managed to let his secret out in one, stupid rant. There was no way to tuck the secret back in.

Silence stretched between the two of them while Sirius let that realisation wash over him.

Remus was looking at Sirius with wide eyes, saying nothing for a disturbingly long time. And then a smile spread, a smile that started in Remus’ eyes and kept growing until it filled the room, reaching all the way to Sirius’ trembling insides.

"Sirius - you wanted to find my password?"

Sirius tried to push his heart back down from his throat, not quite daring to hope as he let out a low “Yeah”.

With the air of someone who’d made his mind up, Remus got up from his four-poster. He padded to his trunk and rummaged around in it, until he came up holding a little box. Walking over to the windowsill, he held it up for Sirius, biting his lip. It was a beautiful, wooden box, covered in an intricate carving of what looked like two wizards flying above the trees.

"Did you make this?"

Remus nodded. "Open it."

More nervous than he’d been in a long time, Sirius opened the lid. Inside the box lay a stack of photographs. Flipping through them, Sirius saw himself. He saw himself smiling, waving, throwing his arm around Remus, flying his broom, jumping around planning some prank or other. Most of them, though, were of Sirius in those rare moments when he was doing nothing in particular, just sitting there. The pictures had been taken, as far as he could tell, through all of their school years.

Finally he looked up, meeting Remus' smile, which was part sheepish, part mischievous.

"You've known my password since the day we met, Sirius. When I came to Hogwarts, I had decided to keep to myself, not letting anyone get too close. It seemed like the safest thing. But I hadn't taken a person like Sirius Black into account." Remus grinned even brighter. "You refused to let me be by myself. And you were just what I needed. You still are."

The smile that spread across Sirius’ face probably made him look like a total sap, but he couldn't have cared less.

“Oh,” he said, letting his hand touch Remus’ arm. “You like me. And I like you. Wow.”

Remus laughed. “Yes, I think that covers it pretty well. Happy Christmas, Sirius.”

“Happy new year, Remus.”

Looking at Remus, standing there in his pyjamas, sleep tousled hair going in all directions and eyes filled with golden warmth, Sirius was certain that it would indeed be a wonderful new year.
OMG, that is such a sweet story. Peter quoting the article and Sirius being all nonchalant about absorbing every word. So cute. Yay, for such a romantic and sweet ending. Thanks for sharing, hon!
I was in the mood for writing something really sweet and fluffy for the holidays :) A romantic ending had to be a part of the holiday fluff :)

Thank you!
I read this when you posted on ao3 . One of very few small gifts I've read so far.
It's just as wonderful now, all fluffy, sweet and atmospheric. Beautiful writing as usual :-)
The characters are all endearing. Peter with his advice, how I love him quoting Witch Weekly, but his advice wasn't half bad :-) James is spot on, Remus is perfect with his understanding and with the pictures. Sirius is sweet enough to eat, I can see him as being romantic and awkward. Lovely :-)
Thank you <3

Fluffy, sweet and atmospheric is pretty much how I wanted this story to be, so I'm glad you felt that way :)

I like the idea of the confident Sirius being a bit awkward when he's in love!
Gaahhhhhhhh awwwwwwwww! This was lovely. You don't often see Sirius confiding in James about his crush, and I really like that. This was wonderful. Made me smile along with Remus.

"The English language didn’t have the words to express how ridiculous this was. Taking advice from Witch Weekly. Looking for a password. On the other hand, it was the password to Remus' heart. Which made all the difference."

*insert the language I need to tell you how much I like this line*
Aww thank you so much!
I think might just be the fluffiest thing I've ever written, and it was a lot of fun to write - so glad you enjoyed! ♥