The wheezy ticking of the Grandmother clock that James had "liberated" from his bedroom back home as a First Year on Christmas holiday (because he'd found it nearly impossible to sleep at Hogwarts during those first few months without its reassuring sound) was definitely slowing down. There could be no other explanation for why time was passing so slowly.
James stopped peering at the clock and ducked his head back into the privacy of his bed. He'd had the foresight to grab his wand and glasses, both resting on his bedside table, and a whispered 'Lumos' gave light to the enclosed space so that he could check his watch. Which was obviously broken.
Of course, it was unlikely that his clock and the watch would each say the same wrong time, which in fact they did. Maybe Sirius had charmed them as a not-entirely-imaginative prank. James felt a moment's grudging admiration for Sirius's discernment in knowing just what prank to pull to drive him bonkers, before he admitted to himself that it was conceivable--though barely--that it actually was only 11:30.
He flopped backwards onto his pillows and tried to concentrate on his slow, even breaths, rather than on the frustratingly rhythmic ticks. Finally, when he couldn't stand it any longer, he crept out of bed and across the tower room.
"Don't you think it's a bit early?" Remus whispered when James pulled the heavy bedcurtains aside.
"I've been lying there waiting forever." James could hear the faint whine in his own voice. Remus laughed softly, and he darted his hand forward to brush fingers against Remus's warm, chapped lips.
Remus kissed his fingertips. "You've at least checked that the others are asleep, right?"
"Of course," James said.
"All right, then. But I'm warning you, if there's even a suspicion that we might be caught, I'm hexing you with a Scrofulus curse and pretending that I was just helping you to the infirmary."
"You wouldn't do that."
"Are you so sure?"
"Yes, because we're not going to get caught."
Remus's teeth flashed whitely in the shadowed light of his bed. "No, all those times we've landed detentions in the past were on purpose."
"That's right," James said approvingly. "How're people to know whom to congratulate on the latest prank if we never get caught?"
"You know...that almost makes sense," Remus said.
"Or at least, it does if you disregard the fact that some of us--and I exclude you and Sirius on principle--would be happy to skip the congratulations of the adoring populace if it meant we could also skip scrubbing disgusting things off cauldrons and floors and toilets and..."
"I'm pretty sure you'd have to exclude Peter, too, Moony. You're the only one who thinks anonymity's a fair exchange for getting out of a few unpleasant chores."
Remus snorted. "What I think is that the three of you are all closet masochists." But he threw back the covers and got out of bed as he said it.
The pleasant hum of anticipation in James's belly twisted sharply. "Care to test that theory?" he asked, to distract himself from the knowledge of what they were about to do and from the feel of Remus brushing against him in the dark.
"Well, the worst torture I can think of is for me to get back into bed and go to sleep, so..." and Remus moved past him as if to do just that.
James grabbed for him. "Okay, I might or might not be a masochist, but you are definitely a sadist," he whispered through his stifled laughter.
"It's nearly midnight now. Come on," Remus said, ignoring him. He paused on their way past James's bed and reached to open his trunk, but James pressed down on its lid.
"Leave it," he instructed.
Remus turned to him in surprise. "Whatever for?"
"We've already lost the Marauder's Map to Filch this year. I don't want to risk my Cloak unless it's absolutely necessary."
"You know, that would sound a great deal more sensible if I didn't know that 'absolutely necessary' to you just means the next big prank."
"That is sensible. With pranks, you often have to be invisible. Tonight we just can't be seen."
"Which means something entirely different from 'invisible,' naturally."
"Remus," he growled softly.
Remus squeezed his hand. "Sorry, I couldn't resist. I knew what you meant. Just bear in mind that my previous threat is still active."
"We won't get caught," James said, and tugged him out of the room before Remus could voice any further protests.
They didn't, though it was a close thing, at one point. How Filch had determined that there was anything noteworthy about the statue of the one-eyed witch was a mystery, but Remus only just saw him poking around behind it in time to pull James down a side corridor. The two of them sped even more quickly along the alternate route. What they most needed was privacy, and the Room of Requirement would keep them safe by interpreting that to keep out unwanted visitors, if only they could reach it.
"Hold up," James said suddenly, when they were almost there.
Remus frowned as he turned towards him. "What? It'd be worse than stupid to get--"
His words cut off as James leaned forward to kiss him. Remus's mouth was half-open, and James took the opportunity to slip his tongue inside.
The gentle press of their lips was relentlessly exciting, and James's cock--which had been hard for what felt like hours--twitched semi-painfully against the soft cotton of his pajamas. Their mouths parted from each other and returned in a series of sweet, teasing kisses. Remus's moan vibrated against James's lips.
"All right, now we can go," James said, long minutes later, and shivered when Remus fumbled blindly for the door behind him and tore the knob half off in his haste to get it open. Remus didn't even seem to notice.
They stumbled into the room together, which appeared to be a near-replica of their dorm room, only with one large bed rather than four. James took advantage of Remus's momentary confusion to pin him against the wall. His hands fumbled with Remus's pajama bottoms as Remus stared at him breathlessly, and when they finally slid down off of Remus's slim hips, James dropped to his knees before him.
Where Sirius was remarkably good-looking and James striking and Peter plain, Remus was...unremarkably good-looking. His even features and clear, pale skin and the light brown of his eyes and hair blurred almost into non-descriptness, especially when compared to, say, Lily.
James closed his eyes a moment and pictured her lovely, intelligent face and bright hair. And then he opened them to gaze up at Remus, flushed with pleasure, his eyes huge and dark in the half-light.
"You're gorgeous," he murmured. The location of the lamp and James's position cast a shadow over the lower half of Remus's body; he pulled gently at Remus's hips until he was angled into the light. James shivered to see him exposed, as though Remus's nakedness were his own.
Remus frowned self-deprecatingly, and James kissed the smooth curve of his hipbone. "Truly. I wouldn't lie to you."
"Of course you'd lie to me. You do it every time I ask why Snape is once again spending the night in the infirmary with strange things growing off him."
"You know, it's true that, while most things get a bit old with repetition, tentacles never do," James mused.
"No, they really don't," Remus said. "In fact, they're just as stupid the seventh time as they were the first."
"Don't be a spoilsport," James said reprovingly, and sucked Remus's balls into his mouth before he could answer.
"Ohh..." Remus breathed. "James, you utterly magnificent bastard."
James imagined he heard a strangled moan from near the door, and he hastily licked up to the head of Remus's cock as distraction. The skin was soft and delicate and tangy underneath his tongue, and it was with an unexpected sense of relief that he took Remus's cock fully into his mouth.
He fell into a steady rhythm, Remus's hips quivering in his hands, sucking softly the way Remus liked it. The sound of Remus's labored breaths punctuated his every movement, continuing even after James pulled away.
Remus whimpered. When, after a long moment, James didn't respond at all, he opened his eyes to stare down at him. "What, you're just stopping?" he asked incredulously.
"Think of it as an incentive," James suggested.
"Incentive to do what?"
"You know what I want."
"Yes, I do," Remus said. "And you know that I'm not about to give it to you."
He didn't sound determined so much as desperate, James concluded hopefully, and he swiped his tongue across the tip of Remus's cock to help change his mind. "Why not?" he asked.
"Because it wouldn't change anything. It's just getting off another way, that's all."
"All right," he said agreeably. "That sounds good to--"
"--and it can hurt," Remus interrupted. "Okay? Are you listening to me now?"
James shook his head. "I'm listening, but it wouldn't hurt me. Trust me, Remus."
"No, it wouldn't hurt you," Remus said quietly.
"So you'll do it?" Remus sighed. "Please?" James added, sliding his palms up the slim thighs. He ghosted his lips along the length of Remus's cock.
Half a second later, Remus had yanked him to his feet with a low growl and was backing him up to the bed. James felt a twinge of apprehension before Remus was on top of him, and then any traces of fear dissolved in the familiar touch of Remus's skin against his as they struggled out of their nightclothes.
"No curtains on the bed," Remus mumbled, and James answered:
"We don't need them here."
"No, I don't suppose that we do."
He flipped James over easily, and James leaned back against him as Remus's hand roamed over his front, tweaking a nipple, brushing against the damp head of his cock before reaching lower between his legs. A barely moistened finger pressed into him a fraction, and James clenched around it helplessly.
"Shh," Remus murmured, petting his chest, before leaning over to grab an inconspicuous bottle off the nightstand. And then he was slicking his hands with a shimmering liquid that smelled faintly of coconut--Remus's influence, James assumed; he preferred strawberry--and smoothing one hand along James's cock while the forefinger of the other slipped effortlessly into James's body.
James dropped his head back to rest on Remus's shoulder with a heavy groan. The hand on his cock was still now, cupping him tenderly, but that finger was doing things to him that he hadn't begun to imagine. Somehow Remus was touching him more intensely, more deeply than he'd ever managed alone in his bed with his own fingers, muffling his cries in his pillow.
His entire body felt tight and aching, and when Remus nudged him forward to kneel on hands and knees he went willingly.
Two fingers, now, and James pushed himself back onto them, only vaguely aware that he was begging, all his focus on the hard press of Remus's cock against his hip and the twist of his fingers deep inside him.
His glasses had been lost at some indeterminable point, and the room blurred before him. And then Remus raised James's hips and slid slowly into him, and everything else disappeared.
"Oh God, Remus," James heard himself say shakily, shuddering all over.
Remus's hand fumbled beneath James's body to grasp his erection, and the pace of his thrusts increased, rough and desperate, until he tensed suddenly, and James felt Remus's cock pulsing inside him and came messily into his hand.
They collapsed onto the mattress in a tangle of limbs, breathing hard. James traced a still trembling hand up and down Remus's spine.
James had just begun to drift to sleep when Remus sat up abruptly. James's hand dropped to the mattress.
"We should get back," Remus said.
There was a brief scuffling sound from near the doorway, and James quickly reached to pull Remus down beside him. "Let's just lie here a bit."
"We'll fall asleep," Remus warned.
"And what if we do? Tomorrow's Saturday, and there's no way that either Sirius or Peter is going to wake up before you do. What would it hurt to spend the night here?"
"It's still risky," but Remus curled up next to him, warm and pliant. James slung an arm over his chest, closed his eyes, and willed himself to relax into sleep.