"Whew!" James swallowed when they were nearing the half-set mark. "I need a break, boys. What do you say we call the half-set a couple numbers early, hmm?"
"You go on," Sirius shrugged a shoulder. "We've got one we can do without you."
"We do?" Remus looked up, narrowing his eyes.
"That one we were working on before," Sirius raised an eyebrow, and giving and inflection to 'before' which only Remus understood. "Didn't I tell you? I've finished it."
Remus glanced at Peter, who shrugged.
"I'm up for it if you are," he said. Remus looked back to Sirius and nodded.
Remus stepped forward as James hopped off the stage, rubbing his throat.
"Sure you want to do this?" Remus asked, keeping his voice light.
"You know what I want," Sirius retorted. Before Remus could respond, he was already playing, and Remus was right there with him, his fingers moving over the strings in a rhythm he could have played in his sleep.
"Bet no one can cut you like me, and I'll twist the knife so deep…"
Sirius' voice was not as smooth as James, but it had a depth James lacked, a tone made out of power rather than finesse. Remus recognized pieces of Padfoot's growl in it, its gravelly throb what Remus had been echoing from the beginning. He rose to the challenge, his bass thrumming with an intensity he'd never had during a practice.
"Take shelter till it all blows over, go back to being one more shoulder…"
Remus had known the song was going to be about him, there was really no other plausible reason why Sirius would have wanted to work on it alone. He hadn't expected it to be this good. He hadn't expected to press against Sirius' back like he had at that very first practice just so he could keep from watching the glittery seduction that was Sirius and his eyeliner and his guitar and his jeans, all humming with a song that was only for him.
"When you've never seen the full moon…"
Somehow, Sirius managed to take lyrics that should have been accusatory and make them simply true, to sum up the entire unbearable situation in three verses and a chorus, but Remus still didn't grasp the full message right away. It wasn't until the first 'full moon' lyrics that the terrifying reality struck Remus like a Bludger:
Sirius was in love with him. He didn't just want Remus, wasn't just having a crush, wasn't just looking for some willing body to expel hormones with. He was as in love with Remus as Remus was with him, possibly more.
It was too much. Remus promptly stopped thinking and let himself slip under the spell of the song, glad to simply feel it washing through him. It was almost a physical jolt when the last chord died away and he snapped back to reality. He set down his bass, listening vaguely to Sirius' announcement that they were taking a break, and wandered off the stage and out onto the balcony to get some air.
He dusted the snow off the railing and leaned on it, telling himself that he didn't care if the cold marble was freezing his bare forearms. He watched with detached amusement as several professors flushed students out of the bushes below like game at a pigeon shoot.
He didn't turn his head when he heard Sirius follow him out, cursing the cold in a low voice, and didn't look when Sirius leaned on the rail beside him, close enough to feel the heat radiating off him.
"How long?" Remus asked.
"It's colder than a Muggle's tit out here!" Sirius huffed. "How long what?"
"Don't be difficult, Sirius," Remus replied sharply, finally turning a piercing gaze Sirius' way. "How long?"
"Third year," Sirius answered, lowering his eyes. "You said you wouldn't speak to me for a week if James and I didn't leave Regulus alone. We didn't…and then you didn't."
"You fell in love with me because I stopped speaking to you for a week in Third Year?" Remus asked incredulously.
"You don't make idle threats," Sirius clarified wryly. "That's a big turn on in my family."
"That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard," Remus spat, looking back down at the bushes below. The third one from the left seemed very popular.
"How long for you?" Sirius asked. Remus remained silent until Sirius poked him with a shoulder. "I told you, it's only fair."
"Who says I'm in love with you?" Remus asked in a low voice.
"Don't be difficult, Remus," Sirius mimicked his voice meanly, but Remus still refused to answer. The silence stretched out several heartbeats longer.
"Wouldn't matter if I was," Remus finally said.
"Course it matters…" Sirius started.
"Doesn't," Remus cut him off, shrugging. "What are you going to do next year?"
"I…" Sirius blinked, caught off-guard by the random question. "I dunno, take the test to be an Auror, I suppose."
"So will James," Remus nodded. "Peter'll work for the Ministry like his father, of course. Do you know where I'll be next year?"
"I've no idea," Sirius said brusquely. "What does any of this have…"
"I'll be registering myself as a Dark Creature, that's where I'll be," Remus interrupted. "You'll all start careers and families and lives, and all I'll have is you. All I've ever had is you three, and that's all I'm ever going to have. That's why I can't be in love with you, Sirius."
"Did you miss the part where I said I loved you?" Sirius demanded. "It's not exactly a risky proposition!"
"Keep your voice down," Remus warned. "It isn't that simple."
"If I'm in love with you," Sirius was clearly losing patience fast, "and you…feel whatever it is that you feel for me, where's the problem?!"
"What happens when you get tired of it, Sirius?" Remus asked, finally looking up. "What happens when we figure out it isn't forever? What happens when James and Peter find out?"
"Why should they care?" Sirius retorted.
"I think they'll care when you switch sexual orientations," Remus said softly. "If you haven't noticed, our good friend James is not the most tolerant person at Hogwarts. I've no idea what Peter would do."
"James would learn to live with it," Sirius insisted staunchly. "And Peter will do whatever we tell him. It's not even like they have to know yet, you're just too scared to give it a go."
"That's the first sensible thing you've said yet," Remus agreed. "Drop it, Padfoot, please. I can't do this with you."
There was a short silence.
"Could we at least shag casually?" Sirius whined. "In a very exclusive manner?"
"Stop it," Remus ordered.
Sirius growled, the soft sound raising goosebumps on Remus' arms, but didn't argue. He occupied himself by scraping some snow off the railing and making snowballs to pelt the hapless snoggers below. Finally he stopped and stared at Remus, then tugged him away from the railing sharply.
"You're going to make yourself sick," he snarled, taking hold of Remus freezing arms with his equally cold hands.
"You're the one burying your bare hands in snow," Remus pointed out, trying to make himself step away from the too-close heat that was Sirius. "No," he said when Sirius bent his head closer, but Sirius ignored him and brushed cold lips against Remus'.
As usual, the tiniest physical contact from Sirius unraveled every bit of Remus' hard-won self-control. He made a soft noise and pressed closer, the slow and deliberate smoothing of Sirius' mouth on his making him ache.
Sirius was the first to pull away, and Remus stared up at him, dazed.
"Listen to me, Moony," Sirius' voice was low and breathy, and started a dull heat burning in the pit of Remus' stomach, "I'm not giving up. I've waited damn near five years for you, I can wait as long as it takes. Sooner or later you'll get tired of saying no."
"No," Remus started to come back to his senses and tried to step back, but Sirius tightened his grip.
"I could make you, you know it," he said fiercely. "I should, there's a war about to start. We could all be dead by next year and you want to whine about forever? I could take you right here in the snow and you wouldn't stop me." Remus made a soft noise and closed his eyes, shaking his head almost imperceptibly. "I'm not going to, but I could. You always have to make everything so hard."
"We should go back in," Remus whispered. "Please, Padfoot, I just don't want anything to change."
"Nothing has changed," Sirius replied. "If you'd use that brain of yours, you'd realize it's always been like this. I'll wait as long as you need, Moony, but I'm not going away."
He reached up with a still-wet hand to brush Remus' hair away from his forehead and kissed it before letting go, turning to go back inside. Remus was suddenly freezing, except for the places on his arms where Sirius' had been holding onto him.
What's the thing James says? Remus thought to himself as he watched the muscles of Sirius' back and ass slide underneath his clothes. 'I hate to see her leave, but I do love to watch her go…'
Shaking his head as if to clear it, Remus followed after a moment.
* * * * * *
Back onstage, Sirius tapped Remus with his wand as he slipped by, murmuring a Warming Charm. Remus smiled his thanks as his teeth stopped chattering.
"Always with your wand at the ready, hmm, Padfoot?" James asked archly, voice mostly recovered but still with an edge of roughness. "And speaking of, just where were you all that time anyhow? Off with that girl of yours, weren't you?"
"What girl?" Sirius raised an eyebrow. "What are you on about, toerag?"
"James thinks you've been chasing after some phantom girl all term," Remus informed Sirius solemnly, but couldn't keep the amusement out of his eyes.
"Ahh, I see," Sirius gave him a quick wink.
"So did you get her or what?" James interrupted loudly.
"Time will tell, Prongsy," Sirius shrugged, turning away from Remus. "Don't we have the rest of a gig to play here? Get up front and look vapidly alluring, that's what I hired you for."
James made an obscene hand gesture, the one which the Marauders had nicknamed 'Miss Lily's Salute', and stalked to the front.
Remus shared a laugh with Sirius and Peter, feeling better than he had in weeks, as if finally some of the pressure was off. He and Sirius had had The Talk and the world had not ended, leaving Remus to actually enjoy being in a rock band for all it was worth. The rest of it could wait, he decided.
For now it was enough that he had a loud guitar, a fast song, three best friends, and the best view in the house.
"Merlin charm the man who invented Glam," Remus murmured. And Sirius' jeans, he added mentally.
The set flew by even faster than the last, and Remus was taking a short breather off to the side when someone leaned onto the stage and tugged his jean leg. He looked down to see a delegation of Ravenclaw girls whispering and giggling.
"Er, can I help you?" Remus asked, puzzled.
"We'd like to request a song," one girl stepped forward to announce.
"All right," Remus shrugged. "I can't guarantee we'll know it, but we'll try."
"No, we want one of yours," the girl shook her head. "The one you played right before your last break. The one about the full moon."
"Oh." Remus blinked. "Guess we can manage that. I'll tell the others, then." The girls moved away, nudging each other and giggling some more as they peered over their shoulder at Remus. He waited until James and Sirius finished the song they were currently doing before coming up behind Sirius.
"What's up?" Sirius asked when Remus tapped him on the shoulder. He was scowling slightly. "Noticed your entourage."
"We've had a request," Remus informed him sheepishly. "They want to hear your song. The one you wrote on your own."
"Your song, you mean," Sirius replied pointedly.
"Right, that one," Remus lowered his eyes. "You up for it? James sounds like he could use a break again."
"Could he ever," Sirius snorted. "He's starting to sound more and more like Moaning Myrtle. Gurgling included. Plus, when we were doing the Beatles song he got bored of singing 'Love is all you need' and started singing 'love me on your knees'."
"Ri-ight," Remus rolled his eyes. "Let's get him off the stage before McGonagall catches on."
"Not much chance of that if Peter put the you-know-what in the you-know-which like he was supposed to," Sirius said loudly, giving Peter the Eye.
"I told you I wouldn't!" Peter shot back. "Being kicked out of a Yule Ball is a once in a lifetime affair for me, thanks very much!"
"Best be kicking Croaking Beauty off the mike then," Sirius said hurriedly. "Oh Prongsy!"
They convinced James that if he took a break now, he might have enough voice left to do whatever he wanted for the last song. Sirius tugged Remus up towards the front microphone with him, and as they were getting ready to start, leaned his head close to Remus' ear.
"You never told me what you thought about the song," he murmured.
"Should be obvious if you know me so well," Remus replied archly, refusing to be baited.
"Show me then," Sirius grinned, puffing an extra breath into Remus' ear to make him shiver before turning back to his guitar. He set off again without warning, and Remus finally understood that he wasn't challenging him by constantly starting the song so quickly, but racing him, just like Padfoot raced Moony underneath the real full moon.
Remus threw back his head and laughed, the back of his head bumping against Sirius' shoulder, their sides pressing together like pack. Sirius, ridiculous hopeless fartoosexy Sirius, had managed to wrap up everything good about being the wolf and hand it to Remus, to shout it in front of dozens of people and still keep the secret perfectly. Sirius might be an insensitive bastard, but he always did managed to find the perfect gift.
It ended all too soon again, and James, who'd been glaring at them from the side of the stage, strode forward to shove them away from his microphone.
"Right then," he rasped, voice clearly just about done for the night. "Time for the big finale. I've got just enough voice left for one fantastic song, and I know exactly what it should be."
"Oh no," Peter groaned, knowing exactly what was coming.
"Oh yes!" Sirius agreed with a wicked grin.
"James, no," Remus shook his head. "You swore you wouldn't, McGonagall made us promise!"
Ignoring Remus utterly, James swung round to the microphone and caressed an affectionate hand down it. He smiled benignly down at the audience as if about to start the most soulful of love songs.
Since James is about to sing about his one true love, it's very appropriate, Remus thought caustically, knowing there was nothing he could do to stop James and Sirius, as usual.
"Ooooooooooh," James drew out the first syllable for as long as possible, eyes roaming the crowd until his gaze locked with McGonagall. Remus saw her eyes narrow even across the room and realized with a sinking feeling that she must already know what was coming.
"A wizard's staff has a KNOB on the END, a KNOB on the END, a KNOB on the END!"
Knowing from experience that if he was going to take the flack for it, and he always did, he might as well have the fun, Remus joined in just as enthusiastically as the other three. He didn't even pause when McGonagall began to stride towards them, plowing through the mob of students like a tank.
Remus thought it was possible he might die laughing when Dumbledore, dancing enthusiastically amidst the students, grabbed her by the arm and twirled her along with him.
"I LOVE this song, don't you?!" Remus lip-read him shouting.
He exchanged knowing looks with Sirius when James' voice finally blew during the fifth or sixth chorus, but Remus knew it was just as well, since he'd already run through the generally accepted verses and had started in on the ones he'd made up himself. It didn't matter anyways, since there were four Years of Hogwarts students and most of the staff singing along by then anyhow.
Furious applause and catcalls broke out after they finished, and the four Marauders grinned at each other madly. It didn't seem real to Remus that they could really be standing there, that the audience really could be screaming for them, that they'd done the whole thing and now it was actually over.
James broke the spell by breaking out into a racking cough. He opened his mouth to tell them something, but only little squeaks came out. Peter found this especially funny, and James glared at them before hopping off the stage to get a drink from the for-once-unadulterated punch bowl.
Remus turned to see Dumbledore had climbed onto the stage and come up behind him, clapping his hands delightedly.
"Absolutely marvelous, young Gryffindors!" he continued, beaming. "I was in a rock band myself! We used to shake the roofs of quite a few pubs, in my younger days. Girls were absolutely mad for us, they'd throw their things up onto the stage…in those days, if we didn't have twenty pairs of underthings dangling from our microphones at the end of the night we'd ask 'What's wrong? Isn't our hair big enough?'…"
Dumbledore drifted off into contemplation, while the Marauders stared up at him in silent horror.
"Ah well, such is youth," Dumbledore shook himself out of his reverie. "Speaking of girls, young Mr. Potter seems to be getting his share of attention over at the punch bowl."
Sirius, Remus, and Peter craned their necks to see what he was talking about. Lily had James pressed against the refreshment table, hands tangled in his hair, and was not coming up for air anytime soon.
"She'll be spitting glitter for a week," Sirius said in awe. Remus and Peter were struck dumb.
"I always thought Miss Evans would have her way with him," Dumbledore commented, "if he would only shut his mouth for a moment or two."
Sirius jumped when both Remus and Peter exploded into raucous laughter suddenly, but Dumbledore didn't seem surprised at all.
All that's left then, dear readers, is the smut...