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~1,350 words. For prompt #1 at [livejournal.com profile] barefootboys. No DH spoilers.



When Kneazles Fly


This is why Remus doesn't tell Sirius about his bicycle: Sirius spends his Friday evenings cutting pictures of motorbikes out of Muggle magazines and sticking them to the wall above his bed. The largest picture, of a hulking black beast, has faded in streaks where Sirius runs his fingers over it every night before he goes to sleep. When he wakes, he always spends a few moments gazing up at his shrine to metal monsters.

Remus's bicycle is nothing but flimsy metal rods and two wobbly wheels held together by charms and luck and, Remus likes to think, by his whispered encouragement as he rides around the school grounds. One brake is useless, the seat is loose, and rust is eating through the handlebars. But he's just bought new tires for it, and has kept its green paint bright, and Remus is proud of his bicycle. It's practically sentient, and it might not work as well if Remus let Sirius laugh at it. So he keeps it by a tree on the side of the lake farthest from the castle, and whenever he has time, he visits it renew the waterproofing and anti-theft charms. Woe be to the creature who dares to touch Remus Lupin's bicycle, for it has learned to bite.

When Sirius limps into the common room one afternoon with a bloody hand, a skid-marked face, and a bemused expression, Remus knows he's been caught.

"Moony, there is a biting bicycle at the lake. Would you happen to know anything about it?"

"What bicycle?" says Remus, too quickly. He tries his best to look immersed in his book, which has the unfortunate title of Caring for Your Magical Bicycle. Maybe Sirius won't notice.

Sirius notices everything. He snatches the book from Remus's hand, glances at the title, and drops it unceremoniously on the floor. The cover bends, and Remus winces. "Pomfrey wouldn't believe I didn't get in a fight. She healed my broken hand, but she wouldn't touch my face. Said I probably deserved my minor injuries, and that I should stop picking on students. I ask you!"

"You didn't tell her a bicycle got you?"

"She's nearly as smart as I am. She'd figure out who charmed the bicycle approximately ten minutes slower than I did." He eases into an armchair across from Remus. "No matter how injured I get, I'm a Marauder. Marauders don't tell on their friends."

"You are still assuming I know something about the bicycle."

Sirius rolls his eyes. "It's obviously yours. I've had run-ins with your biting books, remember? Which wasn't at all fair, because I wasn't planning to hide them from you for very long. Anyway, who else would be that protective of a rusty bit of metal?"

Remus flinches, and this Sirius does not notice, because he is examining his hand. "It's not just a--"

"So it is yours! You could have said so at the beginning. That's some wicked spellwork on that bicycle. You should be proud."

"It's not," Remus growls, "just a bit of metal. It's my bicycle and I love it, and it will be happy to bite you a second time if you insult it again."

"All right, so I'll apologise the next time I see it."

"What makes you think you'll see it again? I'll have to find a new hiding place for it now."

"Of course I'll see it. You'll give me a go on it, right?"

"I-- what? I will not!"

"Moony," says Sirius, and it's times like these when Remus understands why Sirius is Padfoot-- Sirius is a master at the Pleading Look, and Remus will give in whether he wants to or not.

"You can't ride a bicycle with an injured hand," Remus points out, but this defence is weak and Sirius knows it.

"It will have healed by next weekend. Come on, Moony, please?"

"Fine. Next Saturday, then." Remus hopes it rains.

***


Summer decides to have one last go at the silly humans who insist upon going outside instead of staying in the comfortably dank castle. Next Saturday turns out to be sunny and hot, the sky so bright a blue that Remus's eyes water if he looks at it. He trudges around the lake through the yellowing grass, hexing the plants that attack him with stickers and thorns. Sirius bounds along beside him, apparently capable of ignoring temperatures hotter than dragonfire.

Their clothes are sweat-soaked by the time they reach the bicycle. Sirius keeps his distance while Remus removes the charms on the bicycle, and takes the liberty of peeling off his shirt. "Merlin's thumb, that's better," he sighs.

"You're going to burn in five minutes," says Remus, who has definitely not noticed how Sirius's hair stands out against his pale skin. He is concentrating solely on the bicycle, which is happy to be let free of its restraining charms and is doing something to Remus's leg that is probably nuzzling. He hopes it's nuzzling.

"Then I'll go to Pomfrey and she'll fix me. We're old pals, Poms and I. Is that bicycle safe now?"

"Think so, yeah. You should probably bow before you approach it. Just in case."

"It's a hippogriff now?" But Sirius bows gracefully to the bicycle. "Master or Miss Moony's Bicycle, whichever is the case, I do humbly apologise for calling you a rusty bit of metal. You are a very fine specimen of a bicycle, now that I see you in the light."

The bicycle lists to the side in what Remus hopes is a bow. He keeps one hand on the rear wheel as Sirius approaches, in case it lunges.

Sirius holds a hand out to the bicycle, which rolls forward a few inches so that his hand rests on the handlebars.

"I think it likes you," Remus says. "Try climbing on."

Sirius cautiously swings a leg over the seat and sits. "So how does this thing go, anyw--"

The bicycle does not wait for him to finish, nor for his feet to touch the pedals, but creaks joyfully into motion. Sirius grins. "Look, Moony, I'm actually riding!" Then the bicycle makes a sharp turn left, zooms straight into the lake, and dumps Sirius in the mud. He crawls spluttering onto the bank, while Remus fails to keep from bursting into laughter.

"I've never," Remus gasps between giggles, "seen that bicycle move so fast. I hope it didn't sprain something!"

"I hope I didn't sprain something," Sirius grumbles. He bends over and shakes his head like Padfoot, spraying Remus with water. "The bicycle has my solemn promise that I will never touch it again. However, I retract my earlier apology, and hereby insult its mother, who was likely a ferret. And its father, who smelled like Snivellus."

Remus wades into the lake and hauls the bicycle out. It is making a tinny rumbly noise, and Remus hurries to replace its restraints before it goes after Sirius, who is preoccupied with getting his shirt back on.

They return to the castle, muddy and smelling of fish, with a thin film of an unidentifiable green slime on their trousers. Sirius gets slime all over the couch in the common room when he sits, and probably ruins the upholstery forever when he pulls Remus down beside him. "Someday, Moony, I am going to buy a motorbike."

"I know," says Remus, noticing the odd glint in Sirius's eyes. It's the glint he gets when he's staring at pictures of motorbikes, and he's directing it at Remus now.

"And it won't be just a motorbike. I'm really good at levitation-- I bet I can make it fly. Wouldn't that be brilliant?"

"I'm sure it would." Remus makes a silent vow never to get anywhere near the hypothetical flying horror.

Sirius drops his head onto Remus's shoulder, definitely ruining Remus's shirt forever. "You'll go on it with me, right?"

"When kneazles fly," says Remus, and pats Sirius's head. "But forget I said that, won't you?"

"Never," says Sirius.
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