In honour of the occasion, I present:
Something Else Entirely
Remus/Sirius, some James/Lily
R for language
Summary: James is trying everything in the book to get Lily, Peter is only encouraging him, Sirius is in a foul mood and Remus despairs at the lot of them.
Notes: Many thanks to magnetic_pole for the great beta.
Remus was swimming with the giant squid and Peter was hovering above him in a frilly bikini and suddenly McGonagall pulled him out of the water and for some reason she had harpy wings and oh look there’s a bicycle…
‘Friends, Marauders, countrymen!’
Remus suddenly realised he was awake. He wasn’t altogether sure, however, that this was an improvement. James was being very loud and it was very early. Remus retreated under the sheets again. This was not a civilised start to the day.
James, oblivious to protest, was flinging open the shutters and letting altogether too much sunlight into the room. Sirius yelped, Peter groaned, and James cackled. Bastard.
‘Prongs, what in the name of sweet Slughorn are you doing?’ Sirius managed, sounding distressed.
‘Ah, my magnificent Padfoot,’ (to a splutter from Peter’s corner) ‘today is going to be a glorious day. The plans are in place, the roses look stunning, I’ve bribed young Creevey to distract Filch for the morning, everything is set.’
There were three gasps of horror in impressive synchronicity.
‘You haven’t…’ Peter boggled.
‘You don’t mean…’ Remus gaped.
‘He has!’ crowed Sirius. ‘Oh, you have, haven’t you? This is another Great Romantic Gesture, isn’t it?’ Sirius was quickly descending into maniacal laughter. ‘Oh, what is it this time? Have you arranged for merpeople to sing? Is Moaning Myrtle going to make an appearance bearing the engagement ring?’
Very calmly, James yanked Sirius’ pillows out from beneath him and sat on his head.
‘Ah, that’s better. Messrs. Moony and Wormtail, my esteemed comrades, today is the day I shall finally woo Lily Evans.’
‘What’s the plan?’ asked Remus warily.
‘I shall be decking out the Charms classroom in white roses, which I’m reliably informed are her favourite flowers, I have some delightful decorations already enchanted, and now I’m going to go down and create the scent of all the perfumes of Arabia.’
Sirius was probably trying to say something under the pillow. Tragically, it was all incoherency. James smiled serenely.
‘So, I trust you are both with me on this?’
Peter grinned. ‘This time’ll be the charm, eh?’
‘Err, well.’ Remus paused for a moment, debating the phrasing. ‘Now, James. I don’t want to quash your undeniably romantic ideas, I really don’t. However, I feel that my duty as the official Marauder-Lily liaison require me to mention a few brief points.’
James was already looking mutinous, but Remus pressed on anyway.
‘Point one. Lily has already expressed the fact that she does not want any more ‘over-blown, quasi-romantic, pathetic nonsense’ – her words, not mine! Bearing this in mind, it seems to me that your chances of success would be much better served by trying something a little different. Point two. Lily is, as you know, a studious witch. With our end of year exams fast approaching, it seems unlikely she will be in the most Prongs-patient frame of mind. Perhaps this is the sort of endeavour that would do well to wait until after exams? Point three, and this is the one I really want you to listen to. She’s allergic to perfume. Starts coughing wildly whenever she gets near any. Abandon that part of your plan at the very least.’
There was silence – even Sirius had stopped squirming, although perhaps that was simply due to a lack of air.
‘I see. Wormtail, last of my friends, have you anything to add?’
‘Err…’ Peter contributed helpfully. Then he rallied. ‘Well, I think you should go for it. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, eh? Although, if Moony’s right about the perfume, maybe rethink that part the plan?’
‘Yeah, ok, no perfume it is. It’s certainly nice to know I have one friend left in this cynical hellhole. You’ll give me a hand setting up, won’t you?’
‘Course I will. Anything to help true love!’
‘You hear that, Black? That is friendship, right there.’
‘Err, James?’ said Remus tentatively. ‘Do you think you could get off Sirius now? I’m not entirely sure he’s breathing?’
‘Oh!’ James looked slightly surprised, and jumped off.
A hand slithered up weakly and pushed the offending pillow away. Sirius gasped effusively.
‘Well. Just give me an incriminating handkerchief and call me bloody Desdemona. You really need to find better uses for your arse, Prongs. Maybe trying to win the fair Lily isn’t such a bad idea after all, if it gets you laid once in a while.’
‘I’m not talking to you any more, you know,’ James declared casually. ‘Tosser.’
‘Wanker,’ replied Sirius, somewhat venomously. Remus looked up at that, but Sirius just glared.
James looked at his watch and squawked. ‘It’s eight o’clock already! What am I doing trading insults with this plebe? I must be off, love awaits! Come, Wormtail, let us away! Former friends, current traitors, I bid ye adieu until I return triumphant!’
James skipped – yes, Remus wasn’t making it up, he actually skipped – out of the dormitory, and Peter walked more sensibly behind.
‘Alright there, Padfoot?’ Remus asked once the door shut.
‘After my near-death experience? Oh yeah, I’m fine. There was a tunnel, and a light, and I think my great aunt Irma was trying to tell me something important, but it’s all a blur now.’ Sirius sighed melodramatically.
‘It’s going to be a disaster, isn’t it,’ Remus noted resignedly.
‘Oh yes. It’ll be horrendous,’ replied Sirius with a certain note of glee.
‘Sirius…’ warned Remus. ‘We should want James to succeed, that’s what friends are for, isn’t it? Personally, I think it’d be nice if Lily said yes one of these days – anyway, you can’t deny it wouldn’t put us out of our misery a bit.’
‘Out of our misery? Moony, it’d only get worse. Think about it.’
Remus thought about it. ‘No, don’t see it. No more stupid schemes, no more moping around for days, no more dramatic declarations in the common room – that has to be good, doesn’t it?’
‘Moony, he’ll be even worse. He’d be going on and on about every little thing she says, what to wear, he’d mess with his hair so much he’d probably go bald… if Prongs actually went out with Lily, it’d be awful.’
‘Oh God,’ gasped Remus with sudden comprehension. ‘You’re right.’
‘Yeah. This whole romance thing’s bollocks, anyway.’
‘I’m inclined to agree,’ Remus muttered darkly, full of horrific new images of James the Boyfriend.
‘Exactly. Don’t know what he wants with girls, anyway. Not worth the hype, if you ask me.’
‘Um,’ said Remus, not wanting to prod this particular concept of Sirius’ for fear it would lead to something truly bizarre.
‘So glad you agree - we’ll swear off them together. Peter does has a fine magazine collection I’ve no doubt he’d be happy to share.’
Remus shuddered. ‘That’s vile. Those magazines are vile. You are vile.’
‘And that is why you love me,’ Sirius leered, lighting up for a moment with a wink.
‘Yes,’ admitted Remus. ‘Yes, I suppose it is.’
James hadn’t been seen all day. Peter had puffed into the common room mid-morning, not registering either of them before racing up the stairs and returning some minutes later with a mysterious package. Remus made an ineffectual attempt to snag his attention, but Peter just ran out again, most red-faced.
The longer James was absent, the moodier Sirius became. He stared at a blank piece of parchment for forty minutes – Remus couldn’t distract himself enough not to time it – and the silence was oppressive against the noise of the Common Room at large. He could almost see the cogs at work in Sirius’ head – bitter and frankly quite self-pitying musings on how James was ditching him for a girl and things just wouldn’t be the same. Which was a remarkably stupid thought process for someone who was supposedly so intelligent.
Remus rather felt the urge to shake Sirius out of it, and yell at him until he stopped being such a pain in the arse.
‘D’you think we should launch a Wormtail rescue mission?’ Remus asked instead.
‘Hmm?’ Sirius emerged from the depths of his own brain. ‘No, I don’t think so. Someone’s got to pander to his Lordship, haven’t they?’
Remus sighed, having lost the will to argue. ‘Want to test me on Charms theory?’ he said, in an attempt to change the subject.
Sirius stretched out a hand for the book. ‘Alright then.’
Remus answered all the questions right, and didn’t feel better in the slightest.
At lunch, the absence of Peter and James was somewhat noticeable. Remus and Sirius sat in silence again, Sirius spearing his potatoes viciously. Remus looked up at one point to spot Regulus staring at the two empty seats opposite them – well, no one else was going to sit in them – and decided not to look up any more.
Sirius was muttering to himself now. Remus tried to tune in, but it seem to consist of little more than swearwords and names. He grabbed the entire plate of treacle tarts instead, food being adequate consolation for anything.
As students were beginning to clear out, a scuffling sound announced the arrival of Peter. Sirius glanced up from his plate, then looked down again, eyebrows raising a storm.
‘Peter, hi,’ said Remus with desperate friendliness. ‘Are you alright? How’s James?’
Peter shook his head solemnly. ‘Not good. Lily, err, she,’ Peter lowered his voice to what he presumably thought was a conspiratorial whisper, when in fact it simply meant only Gryffindor table could hear as opposed to the entire hall. ‘She set fire to all the flowers. And shouted at James for a long time. Then ran out crying.’
Sirius looked up at that, and Remus could see the poorly hidden smirk.
‘Prongs is still in there. Keeps trying to work out what went wrong this time. I thought, well, I thought some food might cheer him up.’
Remus nodded. ‘That’s a good idea. Here, take this tart, might help.’
‘Sirius?’ asked Peter hesitantly.
Sirius just grunted.
‘Well, it’s just – Prongs, he’s really – upset, and well, I don’t really know what to say.’
Sirius glared at the table again. ‘Don’t worry, it’s easy,’ he said in a monotone. ‘Just tell him it’s not him, that he did everything right, that it’s just girls being stupid, that she’ll come round eventually, that she didn’t mean really, that it’ll all work out in the end.’
‘Well, yeah, but,’ Peter faltered, then sagged. ‘Do you think you could come with me?’
Sirius closed his eyes for a second. Remus watched, hoping for any sort of reasonable response. ‘Sirius,’ he said very quietly. ‘Go, just for a few minutes. It’s not that bad, really it’s not.’
Sirius threw his hands up, cutlery clacking onto the table far too loudly. ‘Fine. I’ll go sort the bugger out. Wormtail, you owe me one.’
Peter nodded fervently, and Sirius got up, scraping his chair across the floor and making Remus wince. Once Sirius’ poker-rammed back had left the Hall, Remus returned to the Common Room, hoping some good solid revision might up his marks and make him stop thinking about Sirius and his stupid, stupid moodswings.
The three trooped in about half an hour later. James was apparently back to his normal self – his hair was perfectly ruffled and he was twirling his wand carelessly in one hand. Peter looked immensely relieved, which Remus took as a very good sign.
But Sirius – Sirius looked unreadable, and this threw Remus. He was rather used to Sirius being an open book to him, comprehensible at all times. Sometimes he was alarmed by just how much he understood Sirius. Now, he had no idea what Sirius was thinking. Something was very, very wrong.
‘You alright, Prongs?’ asked Remus, because it seemed the only thing to do.
‘Yeah,’ said James, trying to look nonchalant and mostly succeeding. ‘Nothing like a good bit of rejection to get a bloke fired up of an afternoon. Well, I’m off for a spot of flying, anyone care to join me?’
Peter would, naturally. Remus was too busy studying, but he’d try and come along later if he got the time. Sirius shrugged the offer off, saying he wasn’t in the mood.
‘Oh,’ said James, put out. ‘Alright then. See you later, I suppose.’
‘Yeah,’ Sirius muttered. ‘See you.’
Sirius sat on the settee next to Remus. Then he put his feet onto the next chair. Then he took them off again. Next he just wriggled, for no discernable reason. It was when he twisted so violently that Remus spilled ink all over his notes that the thinning patience in the room died completely.
Slowly, not wanting to cause a fuss, Remus laid down his quill and his books. He wanted to channel his irritation, not just fly out uncontrollably. That was what Sirius did.
Remus turned around to face Sirius head on. To his gratification, Sirius looked uncomfortable and more than a little sheepish.
‘Padfoot,’ he said, hoping the mixing of the friendly nickname and the steely tone would get Sirius to talk to him. ‘What is wrong with you?’
Sirius opened his mouth, then smiled strangely, then frowned.
‘Can we do this upstairs?’ he said.
Remus marched him all the way through the Common Room, shoved him into the dormitory and shut the door with a satisfying thud.
‘Right. Talk to me. What is going on?’
Sirius started pacing, manically grabbing onto the bedposts and swinging himself around them. Remus wondered sadly if he’d gone utterly mad.
‘Sirius…’ he walked towards him slowly, trying to appear placating.
But Sirius just groaned. ‘I hate it when you do that!’
‘What?’ Now Remus was really confused. ‘Do what?’
‘Just – that – oh, never mind,’ Sirius snapped, then stopped. ‘Sorry, sorry. Didn’t mean – Moony, I’m an idiot.’
‘Well, yeah. I could have told you that.’
‘No, I mean – really an idiot. More than usual. I don’t hate Evans, you know,’ Sirius remarked a bit vaguely. ‘Actually, I think she’d be really good for Prongs – good ego deflation and all that.’ Sirius laughed, but Remus didn’t know what was funny. ‘I’m not really sure why I’m being such an arse about it.’
‘It’s understandable, really,’ Remus answered, incredibly relieved to hear Sirius saying something sensible for once. ‘He’s your best mate, you’re worried he’s just going to run off with her, you see it happen all the time. Nothing to worry about, you’ll snap out of it.’
‘Happens all the time. Right.’ Sirius still seemed to be laughing about something, and Remus felt unnerved, as though he were missing some vital point.
They stood, both at a loss. Remus had rather thought that would have dealt with the problem. Sirius’ pacing had not abated, however, and now he wondered if there was something else entirely going on.
‘Sirius?’ said Remus, and he didn’t really know what he was asking, though he rather hoped Sirius would.
Sirius’ hands were on his head now, pushing his hair back and forth as though it was in need of drying. It was one of the many quirks of Sirius Black that Remus had noticed over the years, and it always accompanied Thinking on Sirius’ part, though the capitalisation was Remus’.
‘Remus. I, err, I…’ Sirius trailed off again, looking profoundly anxious.
Remus didn’t say anything, couldn’t say anything.
He was so very out of his depth.
Sirius seemed to steel himself. ‘I have something I should probably tell you.’
A thousand ideas ran through Remus’ mind simultaneously, everything from a murder confession to wanting to leave them all and run off with the Slytherins.
‘Ok,’ said Remus, striving for neutrality. ‘Shoot.’
‘I think I’m – well, the thing is – I’ve started to wonder if – argh, crap, never mind, it doesn’t matter.’
‘Oh don’t be stupid. Now come on, what is it?’
In a bid to get this awful waiting out of the way, Remus stepped up and clutched Sirius’ arms, fighting down the urge to shake it out of him.
In a very small voice, Sirius said ‘I think I – I fancy you.’
Remus said precisely nothing. He also thought nothing. He just stared at Sirius.
Surprisingly, Sirius was the first to regain the power of speech.
‘Shit. Oh shit, I am so sorry, I should have kept my big mouth shut, can we please forget that just happened?’
He tried to shrug Remus off, but Remus held on, for no reason he could adequately explain.
Remus barely even heard him. Something very severe appeared to have taken over his internal organs. His breathing stopped altogether, his pulse sped up in a highly erratic manner, and he was consumed by the notion he was about to be very ill as his stomach made a lurch for freedom. Everything in the world suddenly slotted into place at the same time.
It was terrifying.
There was only one logical thing to do, given the circumstances. Abruptly, he kissed Sirius.
Sirius’ arms went rigid, and it was only a few moments before Remus had to break off, having forgotten to take into account the need to breathe. Sirius was alarmingly close, and Remus’ arms seemed to take on a life of their own, flailing around vaguely all by themselves.
Rather helplessly, Remus just stared up at Sirius, power of movement completely gone.
Thankfully, it was at that moment Sirius came out of his own paralysis. His arms, unlike Remus’, seemed to know exactly what they were doing, and what they did was knock Remus against the wall and whirl around him like spells.
Sirius’ arms knew what to do, and so did the rest of him, and suddenly Rhett Butler came into Remus’ head. You need kissing, badly. That’s what’s wrong with you.
Well, if that was what was wrong with Sirius, he rather thought he could fix it.
Remus’ hands reached up again and Sirius’ mouth came down again and then he most definitely stopped thinking about Rhett Butler.
Dinner that night was hysterically funny, to Remus at least. They’d really only made a half-hearted attempt to look presentable, and Peter was giving them odd looks at sporadic intervals. Sirius was on fine form, the moods of earlier completely forgotten. Sirius launched into a story about Snape and the house elves, and Remus started laughing madly, a bit too far gone to even feel embarrassed.
That even caught James’ attention, who’d previously been looking mopey and in red-headed directions.
‘What the hell, Moony?’
Sirius clamped his hand on Remus’ knee, and Remus spluttered some more.
‘Nothing, sorry,’ he gasped as his eyes water. ‘Please, do carry on.’
‘You know, Prongs,’ Sirius remarked conversationally while he continued to make Remus squirm, ‘next time, with Lily, forget all of this nonsense. Just tell her.’
‘But…’ James protested.
Sirius held up a finger. ‘No! I am right. I am always right, as we know. Short, sincere, hopefully sweet. These are the words we shall now be focusing on.’
He reached over and patted James kindly on the hand. James glared, but couldn’t really argue. ‘Fine. But since when do you know anything about romance, anyway?’
‘Oh, must have picked it up somewhere,’ Sirius said airily, hand continuing its journey up Remus’ thigh.
Peter was looking confused. ‘Remus, are you alright? You look a bit flushed there, mate.’
Remus tried to say something, but failed miserably.
Sirius glanced over, and adopted a pitying look. Remus was rather taken with the idea of hitting him.
‘Oh, no Pete, you’re right, he does look ill. Right, come on Moony, time to get you up to Pomfrey – don’t want you ailing in exams, do we?’
Lacking the wits to protest, Remus let himself get yanked away by Sirius, and was utterly not surprised when he found himself in a broom cupboard.
‘This is purely for medicinal purposes, of course,’ Sirius whispered into his neck. ‘I’m doing this for your own good.’
‘Right, yes, of course,’ grinned Remus. ‘I’m sure Pomfrey would approve.’
‘You know she would, little minx.’
‘Shut up now.’