Title: Of Brothers and Boyfriends
Word Count: 38,286
Summary: After winter break sixth year James finds Sirius and Remus in bed together. He is disgusted and horrified to discover the true nature of their relationship, which they had been keeping secret for years. As the first rumblings of war begin to infringe on the edge of the Marauders' awareness, Sirius struggles to reconcile the two most important men in his life: his brother and his boyfriend. Sometimes choosing between them is easy, sometimes more difficult, but what will happen when real danger threatens, and Sirius' choice means the difference between life and death? Written for rsbigbang 2011
Warnings: flangst, homophobia, violence, peril
A/N: Now we play the "how short will LJ make me make my sections?" game. (ARGK, can't even get the prologue and first chappie in a single post?! D:<)
Pain lanced through Sirius' hand as knuckles split and bruised. Such pain was bound to be expected, with him throwing his fist as hard as he could into James Potter's ignorant, bigoted, stupid face.
“You stupid fucking berk!” James was launching himself at Sirius, now, tackling his so-called brother to the ground. Sirius rolled as he fell, hauling himself on top of James and proceeding to bludgeon the living shit out of his stupid face. Some good those oft-proclaimed “seeker reflexes” were doing him now.
In the back corner of his awareness, Sirius heard Remus cry out. A shudder went through his system – his entire body protesting the fact that he wasn't rushing to Remus' side at the first sign of distress. But James – stupid, arsehole, buggering fucking piece of shit gonnakillhim, ripouthismangy, grass-eating throat – was below him, shouting and swearing and trying to fight back, to defend himself. The white-hot rage Sirius was feeling cut through his Remus-inclined instincts, prompting him to stay and give Potter the beating of a lifetime.
In the next moment – not before Sirius had managed to get in a few more solid hits, splitting James' lip and puffing up both his eyes already – Remus was at his back, arms wrapped around his shoulders, hands shoved up under Sirius' armpits and trying to haul him off. Peter was there, too: shoving himself between Sirius and James, and getting hit by both parties for his trouble. Still, to his credit Peter refused to budge, throwing his weight around until Remus had Sirius across the room and James was staying down, glaring daggers.
“Should have figured you'd hit like a poof!”
Sirius made to lunge again at James, only his fear of injuring Remus, who was wrapped tight around Sirius' back, staying his feet and fists. “Fucked you up enough, didn't I?” Sirius scoffed and laughed, throwing a condescending, patented Black look at James from across the room. “Or is that what all this is about, Potter? Jealous I chose Moony over you to fuck?”
James practically growled from his prone position on the floor, lip splitting further as he did, more blood dribbling down his chin and onto his school shirt in thick, red blots. “You sick, buggering-”
“Because that's not it, you know,” Sirius continued, contempt dripping from his every word as he stared from the bottoms of his eyes at James. “You were my brother, Prongs.” He leaned forward, tugging slightly at Remus as he did so. Sirius slapped his hand to his bare chest. “My brother. Don't you get that, you thick idiot? And brothers protect each other. They support each other. They don't go attacking each other just because they found them in bed with another bloke.”
His hand dropped from his chest as Remus continued to clutch at his arms. Defiantly he pulled Remus into a hug, made awkward by the way Remus was still clutching at him, acting as if Sirius might start forward and attack James again any minute.
“We weren't even fucking or anything,” Sirius grumbled, shaking his head at the sheer stupidity of James. “We were just sleeping in the same bed. One of us might have had a nightmare. Or been cold. You were the one who jumped to conclusions first.”
“You were naked!” James screeched, face gone an unattractive, blotchy red. Spittle flew from his mouth as he clutched at Peter – though if he was trying to move past him or just anchor himself to someone else, Sirius couldn't tell the difference. “Your fucking bits were... were...”
“Better than seeing my cock up Remus' arse, innit?”
At that, James let out an inhuman screech, all rage and impotency, fists flying down to the wood floors and pounding against them. Remus tugged at Sirius, pulling him back, back to the door and stairs. He was shoving clothes in Sirius’ hands too: his school uniform and robes. “Sirius. Sirius, stop it. Don't...”
But Sirius ignored Remus' warnings, even as he allowed himself to be dragged away from James. The disgust oozing from James' every pore just egged him on. “That's right. We've done everything. And we've been doing it for years.” The soothing tones of Remus' “reasonable” voice failed to penetrate any level of consciousness in Sirius' brain. “I've sucked his cock, James. Swallowed down his come, shoved my tongue up his arse and ate him out. I've had every inch of his skin in my mouth: balls, nipples, tongue, fingers. And we fucking loved it, James. You hear that?!” Remus was practically shoving him down the stairs and into his shirt as Sirius tried to lean past his boyfriend, eyes seeking a few last glimpses of James' horrified face. “We both fucking loved it! And we're going to keep shagging, so you can just go shove your head between some bird's legs, you piece of shit, Prongs! Shove your head down there, and I hope you fucking suffocate!”
When he looked back on it, Sirius couldn't recall how Remus got him dressed and down the stairs. He couldn’t remember the journey out of the common room, though he imagined there were whispers, and hushed tones, and unsubtle finger-pointing and staring. But he couldn't remember what faces they passed as they stepped out of the portrait hole, or if they saw any teachers or students in the hallways as Remus dragged him out, out, out of the castle, across the grounds, and under the bare branches of their favorite tree next to the lake. Sirius couldn't remember starting to cry – whether the tears began in the hallways, or if the sobs started as they broke free of the castle and stepped into cold, fresh air, or if he started clutching to Remus for support rather than restraint by the time they stumbled those last few steps to their tree. But he did remember finding himself sobbing harshly into Remus' robes, fingers clutching at the thick material as his hot tears dripped down.
“'m sorry. Sorry, Moony. S-s-sor...”
Remus' hand was at his back, smoothing soothing lines up and down as Sirius tried to apologize, tried to explain.
“I know, Sirius. It's okay.” Sirius started crying harder at that, and felt Remus' arms pull him in closer, hold him tighter. “James'll come 'round. You'll see.”
Sirius pulled back, soaking face and bleary, scratchy eyes staring into Remus' face as though it held the answers. “Really?”
“Well...” Remus' expression pulled into a tight smile, as if he was trying to be cheerfully witty but couldn't quite manage it. “Everything you said might not've helped the healing process. James would've probably come around a bit faster if he hadn't heard about you rimming me, if I'm honest.”
That made Sirius laugh, which made him choke, which made him just start crying even harder than he had before. He heard Remus sigh before he found himself being pulled into the other boy's chest again. This time one hand smoothed at his back, while the other carded gently through his hair. In increments, Sirius relaxed. He wasn't sure if it was Padfoot or him, but Remus' fingers in his hair always calmed him. Even now.
Minutes, or hours, later, Sirius had calmed down enough to snuggle against Remus, fingers plucking at the other boy's hands. They lay back on the cold ground, Remus on his back, Sirius on his side, half lying on top of Remus. It was bloody freezing out, but for some reason the temperature didn't seem to matter much to Sirius with Remus snuggled up close against him. The sound of footsteps reached his ears, prompting him to open his eyes and snap his head up from where it was resting on Remus' chest. The source of the footsteps was Peter, who was trudging toward them with an awkwardly pained look on his face.
Sirius narrowed his eyes, fingers curling tight around Remus' hand. He was ready for a fight, if Peter had the balls to start one.
“Just to start,” Peter pulled his shoulders up tight to his ears, hands shoved into his robes' pockets, “I don't have a problem with it. James' being a right twat, if you ask me.” Peter kicked at an imaginary pebble at the ground, scuffing his shoes in the frozen dirt. “No one ever does ask me, mind you, but there it is. Long as you blokes aren't looking for some sort of poofy... threesome... thing... you can do whatever you like together. At night. You know, with the curtains drawn. And silencing spells up, and all that.”
Sirius hauled himself to his feet, ignoring the way Remus' fingers looked like they were itching to reach out and stop whatever ridiculous reaction he thought Sirius might have. With what Sirius hoped was a manly grunt, he clasped his hand to Peter's shoulder, holding it there as the other boy flinched, then realized Sirius wasn't about to deck him. “Thanks, Pete. That's good on you.”
Peter nodded, shrugging again as Sirius released his shoulder. “Don't see what's got into Prongs. Not like it should matter to us if you guys like a cock up the arse.” Peter made a lewd gesture with his thumb and fist, prompting a series of snorts from Sirius and Remus, the latter of whom stood up then, brushing dead grass and dirt off his robes.
“For the record,” Sirius jerked a thumb at Remus, “he's the one that likes the cock up his arse.”
Remus, elegant and dry as always, arched a wicked eyebrow at Sirius. “Don't act like you've never been on the receiving end.” He turned the focus of his wry expression to Peter. “And trust me, Sirius can beg for it like a whiney, cockslut bottom, under the right circumstances.”
Peter's entire body seemed to turn red, as he whimpered and covered his face with his hands. Sirius felt similarly, but the way Remus was looking at him – all lusty, and out of the corner of his eye – made Sirius' embarrassment quickly subside into a quiet thrum of arousal. They'd have to do something about that. Later.
“Bloody hell, lads,” Peter grumbled, voice muffled behind his hands. “Like I said: at night, behind drawn curtains, with silencing spells. I don't need to hear about any of it. I've already heard more than I ever want to know.”
The three boys' laughter faded away slowly, leaving an awkward silence hanging in the air between them, one person's name filling it.
“So,” Remus glanced at Peter. “He's...”
“Yeah.” Chin up, Peter nodded back at the castle. “I did tell him he was being a right arse, after you blokes left. And that he could jog on if he thought I'd stop talking to you two, just because he's some homophobe twat.”
Sirius was honestly impressed with Peter, and he let a bit of the emotion show on his face as he punched Peter affectionately on the arm. “Thanks, Wormtail. You're a right mate, you are.”
Peter waved a hand dismissively. Sirius' respect for Peter turned up a notch in that moment. Good on him.
“Well, I was going to try and grab some breakfast before class.” Peter tossed a thumb over his shoulder, back at the castle. “You going to...”
Wiping at his face and smoothing at his hair, Sirius turned questioningly to Remus, who smiled softly and lifted a hand to wipe at the wet spots Sirius had missed on his cheeks. “No point in going hungry just because you're fighting with James, right?” he questioned Sirius.
Sirius nodded, hands automatically going to smooth Remus' robes from where he had wrinkled it. When he turned back around, he caught Peter looking slightly uncomfortable. “Wow, you guys really are poofs, huh?”
Sirius held up a fist jokingly. “Oi! That's a derogatory word, that is.”
The laughter, though not exactly easy, wasn't forced as they made their way to the castle. It gave Sirius hope for how James might react, given a day or two to adjust. There was no way the sodding git could stay fighting with Sirius much longer than that. Sirius was sure of it. Especially if even Pete wasn't backing him.
Just before they entered the Great Hall, Sirius' hand shot out and squeezed at Remus', quick and subtle. Remus squeezed back, offering Sirius a supportive smile. Their hands separated, dropping to their sides as they entered the Great Hall together.
Sirius' eyes went immediately to James, who was sitting on the far side of the Gryffindor table, as far as possible from where they normally sat. Sirius sat with Remus in their normal place, doing his best to ignore the whispers and murmurs that spread down the table like an incendio in a parchment factory. Everyone knew the Marauders all sat together, every day, for every meal. James' change in seating was immediately noticeable to every Gryffindor, and quite a few of the other houses' students as well.
Peter hesitated, glancing down the table at James, then at his normal seat, unoccupied and waiting for him. He nodded at Sirius and Remus. “Let me talk to him for a mo', see if I can't get him to stop being a git.”
Remus smiled up at Peter gratefully as he sank down onto the bench. “Perhaps phrase it a touch more delicately?”
Peter just waved his hands dismissively, starting down the table toward James. As they started to eat, Sirius purposefully sat too-close to Remus, pressing their thighs together. A minute into their meal, just as Sirius was shoving a forkful of eggs into his mouth, Peter came back to them, sliding onto the bench and sighing heavily. Sirius, not usually one to wait, tried staying silent for a full fifteen seconds as Peter piled his plate high with food. Finally, unable to take it any longer, Sirius shoved at Peter, jabbing his fork nearly into the other boy's face. “Well?”
Peter shrugged. “He's still being a git. What do you want?”
A growl rose from Sirius' throat. “For the arsehole to apologize. Who the fuck does he think he is?” He started to rise from his seat until a hand on his wrist stopped him, yanking him back down. Sirius glared at the owner of that hand – Remus, of course – malice softening into concern as he saw Remus' eyebrows drawn tight together, entire countenance tense. In deference to Remus, Sirius sank slowly back down onto the bench, but not before flicking two fingers as James and glaring daggers at him. He kept his thigh and arm pressed tightly to Remus the entire meal, pointedly not looking at James even once.
When they stood to leave, Sirius realized the four of them were all heading for the same class: Transfiguration. And after that, they had Defense Against the Dark Arts together. Then lunch, where they would be in the same room again, and then, only after lunch, would they be separated from each other: Remus in Arithmancy, James at Quidditch practice, and Sirius and Peter in Muggle Studies. The Marauders did almost everything together – not just mealtimes and sleeping in the same room, but classes and recreation and studying and... everything.
It was going to be a long day.
In transfiguration class, McGonagall had raised a prim eyebrow when James had stormed in and pushed his way to the front, uprooting Frank from his seat in an attempt to position himself as far as possible from the other three Marauders. Peter had pushed his way up to follow James, leaning on the desk as he spoke over James' shoulder. A series of violent head shakes and hand gestures later, and Peter was walking back to Sirius and Remus, taking his usual seat in the back of the class.
Peter snorted at Sirius' question, shrugging his shoulders exasperatedly. “He's still not over it; what did you think?”
McGonagall was turned to the board, writing a new transfiguration spell on the board as the last few members of the class scurried in and got settled. “I'd think he'd pull his head out of his arse and-”
Remus cut him off with a hand to his wrist. He turned to Peter, teeth chewing nervously on his lower lip. “What did James say, exactly?”
Peter's eyes were downcast, countenance visibly reluctant. “It wasn't nice, Moony. You can imagine.”
Sirius' heart twisted in his chest as he watched Remus' sad, brown eyes flicker the front of the room, then back to Peter. With everything Remus had suffered through, everything he did for the Marauders and put up with, James was really going to act like this? Just because he liked a bit of cock now and again?
Sirius was going to kill James if he didn't get over this right quick. Not for his own sake, but for Remus'.
Scrubbing the back of his head, Peter leaned in, lowering his voice as McGonagall began to call the class to order. “He said that one or the both of you... you know... 'poofters'... better be out of the dorm by tonight. Otherwise he'd be taking it to Dumbledore. He said he didn't want to sleep in the same room with... uh... the gay. Ness.”
The blood in Sirius' veins turned to ice as he considered the inevitable confrontation that would occur in a few short hours, once they were all back in the dorms. But he affected an air of nonchalance, snorting derisively and pushing long hair from his eyes. “Shows what James knows. Old Dumbles doesn't exactly seem like the type for homophobic tendencies, does he, Moony?”
But Remus' face had gone white, the other boy unable to hide his fears as quickly as Sirius had. “He's got a point, Sirius,” he whispered. “The girls and boys are separated for a reason, after all. Maybe... maybe we should go to McGonagall or Dumbledore: discuss some sort of rearrangement.”
McGonagall – and the entire sixth year Transfiguration class – turned to look at Sirius. “Is there a problem, Mr. Black?”
Ignoring James' sneering, stupid face, Sirius shook his head as contritely as he could manage. “No. Sorry, Professor.”
Apparently persuaded by Sirius' honest expression, McGonagall nodded and turned back to the class, continuing her lecture.
“No,” Sirius continued, more hushed, “Don't be ridiculous, Remus. We can get through this. If James, or you or I, goes and gets transferred to a different dorm room, then we'll never have to fix this. And we're going to fix this.”
As Sirius stared into his friends' eyes – Remus' baleful, Peter's unconvinced – he felt a shiver of fear go through him.
He wasn't going to let this tear them apart. That twat James was just going to have to come around. Whether he liked to or not. And hopefully, before tonight.
Defense Against the Dark Arts went exactly the same as Transfiguration had: James racing ahead of the three of them and sitting at the front of the classroom, and Peter trying to reason with him once more before coming to the back of the classroom with Remus and Sirius.
Throughout the class, Sirius couldn't concentrate on a single thing the professor was saying, nor could he stop his leg from jiggling with nerves until Remus slipped a hand under the table and rested it on his thigh. Sirius' entire body felt tiny, tight: like he had been squeezed into a person half his size. He couldn't figure out what they were going to do about their sleeping situation tonight, or how far James would go in his – Sirius swallowed hard against the burning sensation of anger and loss – disgust for Sirius and Remus' relationship. Would he really request a transfer of some sort? Would he out Sirius and Remus to the whole school? Would he do something worse?
Sirius shuddered. A day ago, he would have said James was incapable of true, unadulterated cruelty. Even their assaults on Snivellus had lessened, especially since the Prank. But now, seeing that expression on James' face... Sirius wasn't so sure. It was something he had never seen on James' face before: all raw hatred and consuming disgust. He wasn't sure what James might be capable of with those strong of emotions moving through his veins.
After nearly two straight hours of worrying during Defense Against the Dark Arts, it was all Sirius could do to mouth unenthusiastically at his food, gnawing more on his fork for the duration of lunch than anything edible. James was way down, at the end of the table again. Peter had opted to sit with him – saying something about showing support maybe helping in him coming 'round. Sirius doubted it, but Remus had seemed hopeful, so he let Peter try to play moderator with little criticism.
Remus' entire body was tense, tight, as he sat beside Sirius and ate steadily. Overcome by the urge to take care of Remus – to hold him and touch him and reassure him that everything would be just fine – Sirius stood abruptly, nodding at the doors. “Done?”
Letting his fork clatter to his plate with none of his usual care, Remus stood and followed Sirius out. There were some noises audible over the din of eating and chatting students down at James' end of the table, but Sirius ignored them.
Outside the Great Hall, Sirius tugged Remus into an alcove, fingertips brushing gently against Remus' wrist. They stood there, partially hidden from the world, for a moment in silence. Sirius' gaze was focused on Remus' hands, frustration silently welling up in him over the fact that he couldn't hold them, or squeeze them, or even just rest his hand over Remus' in public. And now – now they'd have to be extra careful to avoid accidental contact, lest James fly into a rage.
Remus' wrist pressed into Sirius' fingertips, bringing him out of his reverie and his eyes up to Remus' face. The other boy was smiling tightly: one of those sad smiles that didn't reach his eyes; the kind he used to get back before their animagus transformation, when they'd see him off to Madam Pomfrey once a month. Sirius had hated it then, and resolved to do something so he would never have to see that sad, brave smile again. And for a few years, it had worked. But now it was back. And it was all because of that tosser James.
“Maybe Quidditch practice'll help.” Remus offered, though the bland way he said it told Sirius that he didn't believe it at all. “Burn off some of his anger. Then we can sit down after dinner and have a proper chat.”
Sirius lifted one shoulder and dropped it, eyes slipping back down to Remus' hand. He inched closer – not close enough to seem inappropriate to the casual observer, but enough that the edge to Remus' shoulders lessened, and his body leaned ever so slightly into Sirius'.
“He'll come 'round. He just needs a bit.”
Incapable of standing idly by when Remus' voice was so soft and kind, Sirius allowed his fingers to slip around Remus' wrist and tug him close. Glancing around furtively just once, Sirius leaned in and pecked Remus on the lips, who returned the quick kiss immediately, already expecting it.
Sirius' fists were flying before he even knew what he was doing, entire body reacting viscerally to the disgust in James' voice. James was standing there, all smug hatred and pathetic disgust as he appeared to be relishing the impending fight. Before even Remus could stop him, Peter was there, shoving himself between James and Sirius, and taking a fist in either shoulder for his troubles.
“Fucking hell,” Sirius heard him grumble under his breath, as the shorter boy threw his weight around, pushing his arms out and turning to James. “Go to Quidditch.”
Sirius raised his eyebrows, impressed with Peter's stones. The blonde member of the Marauders rarely stood up to any of them, and to stand up to James, Peter's hero... Sirius didn't think that had ever happened in their six years at Hogwarts.
James was apparently unconvinced by Peter's bravado. “Standing up for the poofters again are you, Wormy? Looking to get your rocks off; hoping they'll oblige?”
Again surprising Sirius with his conviction, Peter tossed his head back almost haughtily, staring down James even though he was a good eight centimeters shorter. “I'm not the one acting like a jealous bastard here, James. Now get to Quidditch.” Without waiting for James' acknowledgement – another first for Peter, in Sirius' book – Peter turned to Sirius. “Come on. If we're late for Muggle Studies again we've both got detention.”
With another grumble and a practically shouted “poofters”, James shoved off from the alcove, storming away toward the Quidditch fields. Sirius clasped Peter on the shoulder, looking him square in the eyes. “Thanks, mate. You've been bloody brilliant.”
Peter just shrugged the hand off, though he seemed to be hiding a smile at Sirius' praise. “James is just acting like a right arse. Not hard to be brilliant compared to that.” He glanced at his watch, raising his eyebrows significantly. “Now come on, or we really will be late to Muggle Studies.”
Sirius turned to Remus one last time, giving his hand a quick squeeze. The corridor was starting to fill with students hurrying from lunch to class, so there wasn't any chance of sharing another kiss. The two boys had to settle for making eyes at each other, before heading off in opposite directions: Remus to Arithmancy, Peter and Sirius to Muggle Studies.
As they walked, Sirius noticed Peter's eyes were turned down, his face a bit red. Nudging him in the shoulder, Sirius asked “What?”
Peter's face turned a bit redder at that, as he avoided Sirius' searching gaze. “Nothing. Just take some getting used to.” He immediately rushed on, eyes wide and hands held up defensively. “I mean, I'm not going to be an arse about it like James, it's just a bit... weird, yeah? I mean, you two are all loved-up, and I've never seen it before. Not like that, at least.” Peter winced, face gone all frowny and pleading. “Sorry, mate. I don't mean anything by it.”
Sirius laughed, slapping Peter hard on the back. “'s'all right, Wormtail. I'd probably be suspicious of your own leanings if it didn't make you squirm just a bit.” Sirius' good humor cooled rapidly, as he continued: “Like you said: not like you're acting like James.”
“He'll come around.” Peter patted Sirius awkwardly on the elbow. “You'll see.”
“Yeah,” Sirius grumbled. “We'll see.”
Sirius' cuticles were bloody from picking at them by the time it was gone five. He was waiting outside Remus' Ancient Runes classroom, crouching against the far wall and picking picking picking at his fingers. His eyes followed every student that moved down the hallway, checking for James as he glanced at each of their faces. He kept an eye out for empty spaces, as well: gaps in the hallway that could be filled by a young man under an invisibility cloak, accidently brushing a tapestry or scraping his shoes against the ground.
Wetness seeped into his socks. Sirius glanced down. His fingers were bleeding all over the place. “Shit.”
“Sirius...” The gentle sigh of his name was spoken by Remus, standing above him and staring down mournfully. “What have you done now?”
Sirius allowed Remus to guide him to his feet with a gentle hand to his wrist, gazing up at his concerned face. “Sorry. I wanted to walk you to dinner.”
“Listen, I just...” seeing a group of first years looking at them curiously, Sirius snatched his hand away from Remus'. “I just dunno what James'll do.”
“You don't honestly believe James would-”
“I don't know!” Sirius made to run his hands through his hair, only to have his torn cuticles ripped further when they caught on individual strands. Wincing, he let his hands drop to his sides. “It's just-”
“Oh, for Merlin's sake, Sirius. Come here.” Remus led them over to a bench, pulling them down onto it and his wand out, before yanking Sirius' hands into his lap. Sirius glanced around, before realizing that such a sight was probably common for the Hogwart's students, and letting Remus continue on.
“It's just,” he continued, “we know what James is capable of. We've done it to Snivellus, after all.”
“Yeah, well,” Remus muttered as magic flowed from his wand and over Sirius' fingers, “I know what you're capable of when it comes to Snivellus. James honestly seems like the lesser of two evils.”
“I'm over it, Sirius.” Remus' eyes were sad, but not accusatory, as he stared up at Sirius. “It's done.”
Taking the coward's way out, Sirius yanked Remus to his feet with his newly-mended hands and turned back to his previous subject of discussion as they continued to the Great Hall for dinner. “I've just never seen James look like that: like he did when he saw us, this morning. Maybe when Snivellus would insult Lily, but never...” Sirius leaned into Remus as much as he dared. The more crowded the hallways became the closer they got to the Great Hall, the easier it was to pass off closeness for casual friendliness. “He was disgusted, Moony. Disgusted and absolutely off his head furious.”
Remus' fingertips brushed Sirius' a moment before they entered the Great Hall. Immediately Sirius' eyes scanned the Gryffindor table, only to find James at the far end, and Peter at the opposite end, in their usual spot. Resignedly, Sirius made his way over to Peter.
“I've never seen him like this,” Sirius repeated as they slid into their seats. “And since I've never seen him like this, I dunno what he might do.”
Peter rolled his eyes as he speared a potato and proceeded to shove it in his mouth. “Hef nuf godda fo afyfig.”
Remus' eyes shot up into his hairline as they waited for Peter to stop chewing. After a rather large swallow and a swig of water, Peter repeated himself. “He's not gonna do anything. This is James we're talking about, after all. Prongs! He's being a right berk, but he's still James.”
Next to Sirius, Remus nodded in agreement. Sirius wasn't so sure he could join in with the other boys' confidence in James' rationality just yet.
Sirius wanted to hold hands as they entered their dorm room that night, but Remus insisted that it would be smarter to not instigate James at this point. He had also had to remind Sirius that him and James were best friends – “Not any more.” “Sirius.” – and that Sirius should really just try to be the better man while this ran its course.
Sirius' fingers brushed Remus' as they followed Peter up the stairwell. “This is why I don't get James.”
Sirius nudged Remus. “You always make me better. Tell me when I'm being a stupid berk, and try to make me do the right thing.”
Remus blushed and glanced down at their feet moving over the stone steps, light brown fringe of hair falling in his eyes. “Pads-”
“You know it's true,” Sirius insisted.
Sirius came to a stop, Remus doing the same next to him. They were outside of their dorm room, now. The door had never seemed so solid and foreboding.
In front of them both, Peter hung on the door handle, looking back at them for approval. “Ready?”
“Hang on.” It was Remus who spoke, causing Sirius to turn to him curiously. To his great surprise, he found himself pulled into a passionate kiss, all fear and desperation, Remus' hands curling through his hair. In the corner of his mind, Sirius registered a nervous squeak coming from Peter, but ignored it in favor of kissing Remus back. He couldn't reassure Remus with his kiss – not when he was as scared as the other boy – but they could try to find some comfort in knowing the other was still there.
When Remus pulled away, all panting mouth and wide eyes, Sirius nuzzled his nose, rolling their foreheads together one last time before pulling away, wiping a hand over his mouth and one through his hair. He turned to Peter, who was bright red and staring resolutely at the stairwell.
“Sorry, Pete,” Remus apologized, “just needed to, one last time...”
Peter waved a spastic hand. “Fine, fine. Good? We're... you're good?”
Sirius nodded decisively at Peter, glancing over at Remus who was staring determinedly ahead. “Let's get this over with.”
When the three of them stepped into the dorm room together, Sirius' eyes immediately went to James' bed. The curtains were open, the tousle-haired boy sitting with a Quidditch magazine in his lap, cross-legged against his headboard. His head turned toward the door as it swung open, eyes flashed behind his glasses. “Bringing the poofters to bed, are we, Wormy?”
“Piss off, James,” Peter shot back. He immediately went to his trunk, digging through it for a pair of pajamas before heading off to the bathroom to complete his evening ablutions.
James called out after him: “Good idea, Wormtail! Wouldn't want to change in front of the poofters. Gayboys might sneak up behind you, try to stick it in your arse. And with yours being so plump, I bet Black and Lupin are gagging for a go.”
Peter casually flipped two fingers over his shoulder before slamming the bathroom door shut.
Taking both Remus' and Peter's advice to heart, Sirius tried to slink away to his bed, not sparing either Remus or James a second glance as he dug through his trunk for his bedclothes. The fact that James' insults were going unnoticed didn't seem to deter him.
“What, no goodnight kiss for the fairies? Not even a goodnight cuddle?”
“You know,” Sirius spat, spinning around with his bedclothes in hand, “you're awfully interested in seeing us all loved up, Potter. What's all these insults from: jealousy? Looking to get your rocks off, Potter? Upset you didn't get your hooves into me before Moony did?”
“Sirius.” Remus was at Sirius' side, not quite touching him, but using his body language to form a sort of shield between him and James. “Don't.”
With a derisive snort that was all centuries of Black inbreeding and no Gryffindor, Sirius stormed past James' bed and into the bathroom. Behind him, James called out: “Watch out Wormy, he's coming in!”
Five minutes later, teeth and face and pissing attended to, Sirius made his way out of the bathroom, not even bothering to avoid the loathing glare that James leveled at him. Sirius just met him, dirty look for dirty look, all the way to his bed. As he climbed in, he noticed that Remus had changed behind closed curtains, and was just now opening them to head to the bathroom and get ready. Sirius felt a sharp little pain go through his soul, like a needle stabbing beneath his fingernail. The Marauders always changed around each other, without a second thought. And now Remus had to hide behind his curtains, and him and Peter had to sneak away to the bathroom. It wasn't right.
Waiting until Remus came back, James – biggest arsehole this side of the Slytherin dungeon – couldn't let it rest just yet. “Oi, Pete: better put a sticking charm on your curtains tonight. Wouldn't want to wake up with Black's cock up your arse!”
Peter groaned, loudly, and shoved his pillow over his head. James apparently wasn't ready to lay off.
“And you better put up a silencing spell! I imagine the sound of two guys taking it up the arse would be loud enough to interrupt a good night's sleep! Especially since we know Lupin's a howler.”
“POTTER!” Sirius was out of his bed before he could even blink, rage roaring up within him worse than he had even felt, or even witnessed – and with his mother's sharp insanity and wild rages, he had witnessed quite a bit. He was at James' bed in a moment, throwing himself headfirst at the sneering boy. Midair, something struck his side, and he found himself being thrown at a ninety-degree angle to his trajectory, sliding across the floor until he hit the back wall of their room.
Remus stood, eyes bright and scared, with his wand pointed at Sirius.
“I'm sorry, Pads. Sorry...”
Sirius breathed deep as he felt the spell restraining him release, not moving as he stared up at Remus. He opened his mouth, hurt and anger rushing through his veins. How could Remus do that to him? He was just defending him, against James' insults which tread the line no Marauder ever dared. But then Sirius' gaze drifted down, and he noticed Remus' hand that was holding his wand shaking, wand rattling like a tree branch in a storm.
“Oh, Moony,” Sirius breathed. “I'm so-”
“You two poofters going to kiss and make up, now?”
To Sirius' great surprise, it was Remus who whirled on James. He pulled himself up to his full height – taller than anyone ever really took note of, because of how he always stooped over books or when they were walking to and from class. With a look of professorial disdain that McGonagall might even take notes on, Remus stared down at James. “You're pathetic, James. Using my lycanthropy to insult mine and Sirius' relationship. It's almost as low as Sirius went with the Prank.”
When a flicker of genuine human emotion appeared on James' face, Remus glanced between him and Sirius significantly.
“In fact,” Remus raised an eyebrow, all cool disgust and professorial disappointment, “I'd be hard-pressed to see much difference between the two, at the moment. Sirius,” instinctively Sirius snapped to attention, scrambling to his feet as Remus leveled an only slightly gentler look on him, “get to bed. And maybe you should take James' silencing charm advice,” he glanced back at James one last time, “I know I will, to drown out the dithering ignorance that keeps disturbing my attempts to fall asleep.”
Sirius scrambled into bed, feeling smug as he noted James' stunned expression. Him and James coming to blows was rare, but no unheard of thing. Even Peter taking the mickey, or just being a twat for a few days to James, wasn't impossible. But Remus getting angry, insulting James and ordering them around: that was scary.
It was also really hot. Sirius rolled over and stared longingly at Remus' bed, where the other boy had already drawn his curtains. If only everyone still didn't know, Sirius would definitely have visited Remus' bed tonight. As it was, Sirius wasn't sure if he was ever going to get to visit Remus' bed again. Not until they were out of Hogwarts, if James kept up the way he was.
Sirius cast a silencing charm around his bed and drew the curtains, ignoring the way his eyes felt hot.
He loved Remus. But he wanted James back, too.
Continue on to Part II.