[identity profile] biz-munchee.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] remix_redux
Title: The Year of Living Dangerously (Cold Feet Remix)
Author: [livejournal.com profile] rian219
Summary: 1978 was a long, hard year for Remus Lupin.
Fandom: Harry Potter.
Pairing: Remus Lupin/Sirius Black.
Rating: PG-13.
Disclaimer: JK Rowling's, not mine.
Original story: The Year of Cold Feet by [livejournal.com profile] magnetic_pole.
Notes: Thanks to my betas for all their help.

***





Winter 1978

If he'd told Sirius once, he'd told him a thousand times: don't Apparate into the bloody shop. It was only a matter of time before someone saw him doing it, and then there'd be trouble. They were lucky no one had seen him so far. Obviously, Sirius didn't care about that, because there he was, loitering next to the tinned tomatoes after having scared Remus half to bloody death, with 'I just Apparated in here' written all over him.

He asked the question, even though he knew the answer. "Did you Apparate here?"

Sirius brushed him off of course, nonchalantly leaning on the shelves as if he owned the place, but when Remus made it clear that he wasn't happy, Sirius got stroppy and started to pout, so Remus let it go with a frustrated sigh. It wasn't worth fighting about.

His hands were dirty, all dusty from the boxes he was unpacking; Remus sighed again and got to his feet, wiping his hands down the front of the apron that was his shop uniform. "Never mind. What are you doing here anyway?"

“Got the afternoon off.”

Innocent words, to be sure, unless you actually knew Sirius. Or unless you were in a position to see his face, because the look on it was anything but innocent. As far as Remus was concerned, there might as well have been a flashing neon sign in the air above them that said in ten foot high letters, "Look, everyone! We're shagging!"

The worst thing about it was that if Sirius tried to jump him there and then, Remus wasn't sure he'd want to stop it. He could feel his face burning and was sure he was bright red. "Don't do that!" he hissed

“There’s no one here,” Sirius said, glancing around as if it was the most normal thing in the world to undress your boyfriend with your eyes at his job, right in front of the tomatoes.

The fact that no one was around was really not the point. "Still," he insisted.

It was futile. He knew it, even as he told Sirius that he was going to get him fired. Sirius knew it too. He comforted himself with a few seconds' hesitation, just so he could say later that he'd tried to resist, but in the blink of an eye he had the tomatoes back in the storeroom and his coat in his hand, and was making a beeline for Jackie so he could make his excuses and go skive off.

She was leaning against her cash register, twirling one finger around the end of her ponytail when he walked up to her. He smiled, and she smiled back.

"Hi," he said, still smiling. He liked Jackie. She had a great laugh.

"Hi," she said, glancing towards Sirius. "Who's your friend?"

"Oh. That's…Sirius. He's a friend from school."

She seemed to accept that well enough, especially since there was no reason why she wouldn't. Her gaze dropped to the coat in his hand. "So you're off then?"

"Ah…yeah. Yeah, I am. Just a bit early. Me and Sirius have got some stuff to do, and it's quiet here, so…yeah."

Jackie nodded, looking at Sirius again before turning back to him. "Okay. See you tomorrow then."

Remus nodded, smiling at her again, relieved that she didn't make it harder for him. "Yep. See you tomorrow."

He turned and headed for the door without waiting for Sirius, suddenly feeling like a weight was lifted off him. He usually did feel pretty good after he finished work, but this time was better, because it was early, and Sirius was there, and they were probably going to spend all night shagging, which was a night well spent as far as he was concerned.

He turned his head to look back over his shoulder, to see Sirius rushing out of the supermarket doors looking flustered at having been left behind.

“What are you waiting for?” Remus called back gleefully, quickening his steps so that he was almost running. “Last one back to the flat loses!”

He did start running then, the cold air making his eyes water and his lungs burn. His scarf, trailing behind him as he ran, was almost choking him, but he kept on, laughing breathlessly and picking up speed as he heard swearing and Sirius' booted feet pounding on the pavement behind him.



Spring 1978

Remus' shoes were scuffed brown leather, plain and boring: boring shoes to go with his boring job at the supermarket. They kept his feet dry when he walked to Sirius' flat in the rain, and never failed to get lost under the furniture once he got there. They gave him something to look at when he was walking away from Sirius' with the weight of Sirius' disappointment at him leaving yet again making him slump his shoulders and hang his head. At 3am when he sneaked into his parents' house, they made entirely too much noise on the hardwood floor, completely defeating the purpose of sneaking in at all.

For the hundredth time or more that year, he kicked them off and picked them up, preparing to go upstairs in just his socks, quiet as a mouse, just like normal. But then something abnormal happened: the lamp in the sitting room suddenly flared to life and illuminated his father, making Remus almost jump out of his skin.

"You know," his father said, in a parody of the beginning of a proper conversation, "I would really, really like to know where in the bloody hell you're spending your nights, Remus."

Remus forgot he was holding his shoes, and one went clattering to the floor, making him jump again. He looked down at it, lying on its side on the floor, and tried to think of anyone but Sirius.

He could feel his father's gaze positively boring into him, and he cleared his throat while he tried desperately to think of something to say. "Well, I, um…it's a funny story, actually…"

*
Remus walked out of the door of the supermarket and squinted up at the sky, blinking against the drizzle falling from the grey clouds overhead. He pulled the collar of his jacket up around his chin and hunched over, as if that would keep him dry, but in the next moment an umbrella appeared over his head, Jackie materialising at his side.

"You'll catch your death standing in the rain, you pillock," she said, smiling at him. "Share a fag with me?"

He nodded and reached out for the packet of cigarettes she was holding out to him. He took one from the pack and lit it with his own lighter, taking a deep drag and exhaling slowly before handing it to her.

He waited until she was inhaling before saying, "Look, you should know…my parents think we're going out."

She coughed a little, smoke coming out of her mouth and nose. "What?"

Remus took the smoke off her and took another drag before answering. "Well, I…they really wanted to know where I was all the time. Why I'm never home. I had to say something. So I said I was with you."

"Oh. So…where are you really?"

He held out the cigarette to her. His hand was shaking. He took a deep breath. "Um…with Sirius."

She plucked the cigarette out of his fingers. "That bloke that comes in here sometimes?"

He nodded. "Yep. Him."

"Oh. Right." She took a couple of drags of the cigarette in silence. But then her eyes widened suddenly as she realised what he meant. "Oh. Oh!"

He cleared his throat and took the cigarette from her again. Now his hands were really shaking. He finished it off, throwing it onto the pavement and stubbing it out with his heel before getting out another from his own pack and lighting it. "Yeah. Oh."

"Oh. Well. OK." She took his cigarette from him.

"Don't…it's a secret. Don't tell anyone, OK?"

"Oh…no. No, of course not." She smiled. "He's a looker, that one."

He laughed weakly, not surprised that she'd think that. Everyone thought that. "Yeah. He is."

Jackie offered the cigarette to him, and when he took it, he saw his hands had stopped their shaking. They smoked in silence for a while, then chit-chatted a little about the weather, and what they were going to do on the weekend -- just normal things. Remus was more relieved than he could have said.

Then, all of a sudden, Sirius was there, and he was making introductions just as if they hadn't been talking about Sirius two minutes ago. Jackie laughed when he introduced them, and he had to fight down a blush. He wondered if Sirius' ears were burning.

On the way home, he watched Sirius out of the corner of his eye. He felt good about telling Jackie, or at least not bad; he felt lightened somehow, more free. He walked close to Sirius, so close that sometimes their shoulders brushed. He didn't mind.

“No kissing when we get back to the flat,” Sirius whispered. “Not until you’ve cleaned your teeth.”

Remus just smiled.



Summer 1978

The third time Jackie came over to his house as his fake girlfriend, they'd had roast chicken and apple pie while his parents made strained small talk and tried to keep their eyes of Jackie's obviously pregnant belly. He took his time walking her home, and took even longer on his way back. When he eventually got to his front door, he stopped on the threshold for a few moments, taking a deep breath and trying to steel himself against what he knew was waiting for him on the other side.

He'd barely shut the door before it started.

He got it all: What the bloody hell were you thinking?! and Stupid! and Ruined your life and Should never have let you work at that supermarket and You'll have to tell her you're a werewolf! and We expected better from you and You will marry her, and you will do it soon, Remus John Lupin and And that's final!.

He'd walked out, taking his coat and his cigarettes, leaving his apoplectic father and weeping mother behind. He walked for a long time, seemingly aimlessly, until he found himself on the street outside Sirius' flat and realised that he hadn't been walking aimlessly at all. Sirius' windows were dark; Remus thought about throwing rocks at them to wake him up, or just Apparating straight in there and slipping into bed with him, but he did neither of those things. He stood and smoked instead, then turned on his heel and started for home, trying not to look back at Sirius' windows. It was late, and he had to work in the morning. There was no time for Sirius now.

*
The next day at work he was sitting on an upturned milk crate out in the filthy alley behind the supermarket having a smoke break when the door beside him opened and Jackie stepped out of it. He stubbed his cigarette out and tried to wave the cloud of smoke surrounding him away, sure that smoke wasn't good for the baby.

She sat down on a crate next to him, leaning against him with a sigh, her chin resting on his shoulder. She did that a lot lately, touched him, as if it was okay to do that now that she knew he wasn't interested in girls and wouldn't try to grope her tits as soon as she got near him. He was okay with that; he liked Jackie. Not enough to marry her, but enough to be her leaning post. He was aware enough to know that she needed a friend right then, not the least because her parents were likely giving her as big a bollocking as his were giving him. They were two peas in a pod that way.

She sighed again, then said softly, "Your parents are nice."

He hadn't told her about the fight. She was his friend, but even now, being Remus Lupin's friend meant that you found things out on a need-to-know basis, if you found them out at all. He nodded, itching to get another cigarette from his pack and light up. "Yeah. Yeah, they are."

*
When Remus' will started to crumble it was slow, decaying in tiny, practically immeasurable bits, unable to stand up to the battering of a lot of small, insignificant happenings that ended up meaning so much more than the sum of their parts. First it was the passive acceptance of a fake girlfriend, then a trip to the launderette that might as well have been a trip to the circus, for all the excitement it caused. A toothbrush followed, and then a pair of socks to warm cold feet on a chilly night.

"Stay tonight," Sirius said. "Stay."

So Remus did.

He went to work the next day in a borrowed shirt that made him think of Sirius all day. When he finally went home, all hell broke loose; this time he got Irresponsible! and Thoughtless! and Could have been somewhere dead in a ditch! and Under our roof, under our rules, young man. Remus realised then that he could hardly remember the last time that his parents had spoken to him without shouting or had looked at him without disappointment in their eyes. Another thing he realised was that he didn't want to be a disappointment any more, least of all to himself.

*
When he went to work the next day and told Jackie what had happened, she plucked the cigarette he held out of his fingers and took a drag, dropping it on the ground and crushing it under her heel before taking his hand and placing it on her stomach so he could feel the baby kick.

"Stop arsing about and just be with him, Remus," she said briskly, "Otherwise this kid'll be eighty before you've gotten your act together." The baby kicked his hand hard, as if to make its mother's point. Jackie went on. "This has been going on all year, it's making you miserable, and I haven't the foggiest why you're fighting it. Life's too bloody short for all this buggering around."

"Hmph," Remus said, taking his hand back from Jackie's stomach so he could light another cigarette.



Autumn 1978

"I'll be working nights at the supermarket from now on," Remus said, trying not to fidget or look at the floor, "so I won't be home very much anyway. Sirius' place is closer to there than here, so I'll just stay there. It'll be easier."

Neither his mother nor his father spoke, and Remus didn't wait for an answer. He picked up his suitcases and his shopping bags and left, closing the door behind him. He didn't look back until he was at the end of the street and about to turn the corner, but there was no one coming after him. He hadn't really expected there to be.

After a while his suitcases were unbearably heavy, even though they only had some clothes and a few books in them, and his shopping bag kept slipping out from under his arm and threatening to spill its contents all over the pavement. He gave up and went into the nearest alleyway, concealing himself from view behind an industrial rubbish skip out the back of a Chinese restaurant before Apparating to the lane behind Sirius' and walking round the front and up the stairs to his flat.

Sirius didn't answer the door when he knocked, so Remus leaned his back against the door and slid down it, sitting on the ground with his knees up to his chest, settling in to wait for Sirius to get home.

*
His eyes burned and his throat felt tight, but he was better than he thought he'd be as he listened to himself say, "I wasn't that convincing. I didn't try that hard."

That was true.

“I only took some clothes. And a few books."

That was true, too.

"I thought I might go back on weekends sometimes.”

That wasn't true. And they both knew it. But he was still all right, still keeping it together until Sirius reached out, and he felt a gentle hand on the back of his neck. What he wanted to say then was, Don't. Please don't, but he didn't. He just let Sirius hug him, and pressed his face into the crook of Sirius' neck.

*
That first night had been the worst, it had been his dark night of the soul, but after that, things got a lot better. Remus felt lightened, free again, like he hadn't felt for months, not since he used to leave work feeling like a weight had lifted off him, and run down the street with Sirius pelting after him, racing each other back to the flat for a beer and a shag. Remus had lived dangerously that year, and had hated almost every minute of it, so he was glad that now he seemed to be coming out the other end of it.

Things weren't always good, of course; his parents sent him Howlers with monotonous regularity, but he found that after the first few they were fairly entertaining, with both him and Sirius thinking up creative ways to muffle his father's shouting. When there weren't any Howlers, they lived quite peacefully and happily, and he'd hardly have believed it was possible if he hadn't experienced it for himself.

*
He was sitting on his milk crate out in the back alley behind the supermarket on his smoke break, eating crisps this time because he was trying to give up the fags, when the door opened and Jackie stepped through.

It was cold enough now with winter approaching that he was wearing his coat to sit outside, but when he saw her, he stood, shrugging it off and folding it up to place on the bottom of the milk crate next to his own, wanting to make her comfortable. She was heavily pregnant now, and starting to look - to his eyes - really uncomfortable, and like she might go any day. It was weird to think she'd be a mum soon.

She smiled at him and sat down with a groan, and he followed suit. She leaned on him, reaching over to steal some of his crisps. They ate in silence for a while, until Remus said, looking up at the sky, "I said it to him."

Jackie coughed a little, accidentally inhaling crisp crumbs in her surprise. He could see her looking at him out of the corner of his eye, but didn't turn to look at her. He could see that she was smiling, and it was an effort to suppress a smile of his own. "What did he say?" she asked breathlessly.

Now Remus really did smile. "He said it back."

Jackie whooped and then cackled with laughter, and Remus couldn't help but laugh with her, because she'd always had the best laugh. She leaned against him again and squeezed his arm before reaching for his crisps again.

"Thank god," she said, stuffing her mouth full of crisps. "And about bloody time."



end


***

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-22 09:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] celandineb.livejournal.com
This was fun -- I really liked how you developed the friendship between Remus and Jackie.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-05-02 09:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rian219.livejournal.com
Thanks! I'm glad you liked it.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-23 06:43 pm (UTC)
such_heights: amy and rory looking at a pile of post (Naked?)
From: [personal profile] such_heights
A lovely reworking of the story, very nice indeed! I especially liked the ending =)

(no subject)

Date: 2007-05-02 09:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rian219.livejournal.com
Thank you! I liked the ending too. The Remus and Jackie interaction was pretty fun to write.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-24 03:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] magnetic-pole.livejournal.com
Oh! I can't tell you how happy I am to see this! I love the way you've developed the Remus-Jackie relationship, pointing out the parallels between them and the reasons they would grow closer over the course of the story. There are also some amazing lines here, including:

She was his friend, but even now, being Remus Lupin's friend meant that you found things out on a need-to-know basis, if you found them out at all. He nodded, itching to get another cigarette from his pack and light up. "Yeah. Yeah, they are."

which--ouch!--rang too true, and:

He felt good about telling Jackie, or at least not bad; he felt lightened somehow, more free. He walked close to Sirius, so close that sometimes their shoulders brushed. He didn't mind.

and

When there weren't any Howlers, they lived quite peacefully and happily, and he'd hardly have believed it was possible if he hadn't experienced it for himself.

which both capture exactly the kind of reserved response I imagine he would have had. You've made him hesitant to be happy; perfect, absolutely perfect.

I feel hesitant to say this kind of thing because it sounds odd, but in addition to loving your lucid, low-key story I felt like I learned a lot about my own. Thank you so much! Maggie

Sorry for the delay in response! I'm traveling at the moment.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-05-02 09:31 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rian219.livejournal.com
As I said to you yesterday, I'm very glad you liked this. I was hesitant to do this one, since you'd marked it as one of your favourites, and there was so much room for me to mess it up, haha! But in the end this one kept calling me back. There was a lot going on underneath, and I liked that. Thanks for writing such a good story to get my teeth into! ;)

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-24 03:53 am (UTC)
ext_38381: (remus and padfoot)
From: [identity profile] melandry.livejournal.com
She seemed to accept that well enough, especially since there was no reason why she wouldn't. Oh, Remus.

I love the additional glimpses of Remus's home life here, painful as they are. And a very nice ending. :)

(no subject)

Date: 2007-05-02 09:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rian219.livejournal.com
Thanks! I like the ending too, the Remus and Jackie stuff was pretty fun to write. :)

(no subject)

Date: 2007-04-26 07:10 pm (UTC)
paranoidangel: PA (Default)
From: [personal profile] paranoidangel
I really liked this, especially Remus and Jackie's friendship, and the bits you show of Remus' relationship with his parents.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-05-02 09:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rian219.livejournal.com
Thanks! And thanks a lot for reading.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-06-22 06:52 pm (UTC)
ext_150: (Default)
From: [identity profile] kyuuketsukirui.livejournal.com
Aww, that was cute. I enjoyed it.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-06-22 08:14 pm (UTC)

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