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: Woo, last Part managed to be two whole chapters! *shakes fist more at LJ*
Sirius grinned at his reflection in the mirror, giving it a wink and shooting it finger guns. “Looking handsome!” the mirror told him.
Sirius blew the mirror a kiss and winked again. “Thanks, sexy!” Smoothing his hair one last time and double-checking for spots, Sirius took two steps back to give his outfit a once-over. Tight jeans, silky grey button-down shirt, charcoal scarf and a gorgeous little peacoat that really managed to show off his arse and make him look five years older.
Oh yeah. He was ready for Valentine's Day.
Leaving the bathroom, Sirius hurried over to his bed and dove beneath it, looking for that fancy wallet his parents had bought him several Christmases ago. He wanted to pay for Remus' meal tonight at the Three Broomsticks, and was determined to look slick while doing so.
Finger pads brushing against something leather, Sirius closed his hand and yanked, hoping for the best. A dusty, dull leather wallet slid out from under the bed. Jackpot. Brushing it down quickly, Sirius shoved his money into and closed it up, tucking it into his inside jacket pocket.
Sirius stood, brushing himself down carefully and checking himself over another time. If Sirius was right – and he generally was when it came to his irresistibility – Remus would be tugging him into an empty classroom for some alone time after dinner. A shiver ran through Sirius. They had been subsisting on a distressingly low number of hurried gropes in deserted corridors and a handful of surprisingly depressing blow jobs in the prefect baths. Tonight was their chance to change that. Or at least get a good shag in, for once.
Just as Sirius was reaching out to open their dorm room door, it burst open, James stumbling in with it and glaring at the room at large.
“What?” James shouted, single word distressingly slurred. “What d'you want? Huh?”
Sirius sighed, running a hand through his hair. The motion drew James' attention to him, whose blue eyes locked onto Sirius with disturbing focus for someone so belligerently drunk. “Oh, look,” he sneered. “It's the poofter. Going out on a little fairy, gay-date with your come re-shep-ticle? I bet it's Moony, right? He's... he's the... the arse. One.”
James hadn't been much better than this for the past month. For the most part, Sirius did his best not to rise to James' taunts, and succeeded so long as James didn't touch on Remus' lycanthropy. But today Sirius had a date to get to, and didn't have time to deal with any of James' wank. Especially not drunken wank.
As politely and calmly as he could, Sirius tried to edge his way past James and out the door, so that he could get to Hogsmeade. Remus had gotten ready in the prefect baths, and Sirius was just gagging to see how he looked. Probably all academic, with his light brown fringe falling in his eyes – amber and gleaming up at Sirius in the warm light of the Three Broomsticks. Maybe he'd even wear that one fancy muggle jacket of his: the one with the leather patches on the elbows. Sirius shivered as his gaze slipped away from James and down the stairwell. Oh, sweet, wonderful Merlin let Remus be wearing the jacket with the leather patches on the elbows.
“You're just a poofter 'cause you couldn't get dates on Valentine's Day.” James was still talking, wobbling in the middle of the doorway as he stared vaguely in Sirius' direction. “If... if you had birds... no cocks. You'd... birds.”
Sirius shook his head, and decided to risk it and make contact with James. He was going to be late if he dawdled much longer – as it was, he was going to have to take the secret passage under Honeydukes at a run in order to make it to the Three Broomsticks on time. With as little actual touching as possible, Sirius edged James to the side of the door, trying to push past. It wasn't working. James was too busy hanging his head, mumbling to himself with Sirius' name thrown in every couple of words.
“Lily... I'm not going to suck cock just 'cause of her.”
A sigh. Sirius paused. So this was about Lily. It was always about Lily with James. Well: Lily, Snivellus, or Quidditch. Those were pretty much the only subjects that brought out any sophisticated – or not – emotions in his rather daft almost-brother.
Poking at James with a single index finger, Sirius continued his increasingly frustrated attempt to move him away from the door. “She turn you down again?”
“'course she did!” James wailed, leaning against the doorframe with a profound, alcohol-scented burp. “And she said you poofters... uh... 'cause of that! I'm treating you guys wrong, so she's... no Valentine's Day. But I'm not sucking cock for Lily!”
“No one's asking you to, mate.” Awkwardly Sirius patted James' shoulder with a stiff palm. This was the most contact they'd had in almost a month. If Sirius had known all it took was a particularly harsh rejection from Lily to bring James back on side, at least partially, he would have begged the mad bird to do this weeks ago. “Rest assured that Remus and I didn't turn gay because of lack of pussy. Now, could we save this conversation for another day? One when you're sober, and I'm not late?”
Then James raised his head, and Sirius found himself stopping in his pursuit to leave. James was crying. Actually, full-blown, tears-down-the-face, snot-down-the-nose, crying. “She'll never want me, Pads! She likes you poofters better'n she likes me!”
Sirius stared at the ceiling for fifteen seconds. He knew it was fifteen seconds, because he counted each individual one. Godric's hairy left arsecheek. Was he really going to do this? Was he really going to stand up Remus – his boyfriend, his soul mate, his total love of his life – on Valentine's Day, of all days, just to take care of his twat of a lush former-best mate?
James groaned and stumbled into Sirius, fingers clutching at his shirt. Sirius knew that particular groan and hue of James' face all to well. Cursing every head of house that ever existed, Sirius manhandled James to the toilets. They got there just in time, where Sirius then waited patiently, holding James' glasses in one hand and rubbing his back with the other as he vomited into the toilet.
“Just how I wanted to spend my Valentine's Day,” Sirius grumbled to the mirror, who was looking rather forlornly back at him. “Holding Gryffindor's biggest twat in the world's eyeglasses as he vomits his guts out.” Sirius glanced down, then sighed and reached for his wand. “And on my shoes. Damn it, James: I just polished these.” James' only response was a groan, then more sustained heaving. “Could have been at the Three Broomsticks,” Sirius lamented. “Right now, I could have been watching Remus' eyes sparkle in the candlelight. Maybe played footsie under the table. Hell, we might have already had a blow job in the loo by now, I don't know!”
Growling, Sirius kicked at the toilet. Then he glanced down at James, who seemed finished heaving. “Alright, you plonker,” he grumbled, hauling James to his feet. He managed to bodily drag James from the toilets and to his bed, tossing him down without much concern for where he ended up. James just groaned and rolled to the side, wrapping one arm around his stomach and the other around his head.
“Room's spinning, Pads,” he moaned.
For a moment Sirius took pity on him: he did look right pathetic, rolling listlessly around on his bed and moaning like a baby. Sirius sighed and grabbed a relatively clean glass from James' side table, filling it with water from his wand. “Drink this, you berk,” he grumbled, shoving it at James. “You're going to have the hangover from hell tomorrow.”
James took the water gratefully, downing it in a matter of seconds. Sirius refilled it with his wand and passed it back again, forcing James to down the second glass as well. “I still think poofters issick,” James slurred as he pushed the twice-drained glass at Sirius.
Sirius could only shrug in response as he sat on the edge of James' bed. “That's how some people feel about lycanthropy, James. We all embraced Remus with open arms.”
“You mor'n me,” James grumbled.
Sirius sighed, running a hand through his perfectly-sculpted hair. He had spent a bloody hour on it. Wasted. “We're not having this conversation when you've consumed more alcohol than Hagrid at Christmas. Now shut up and pass out, so I can try to salvage my date with Remus.”
“But... why'd you... with Remus? Is... Remus, Pads. Why'd you have to go and be with him?”
Sirius stared at his hands, replying softly: “Because it's Remus, James. Because he's my balance. Because he keeps me sane, and does his best to keep me in check. Because he can stay calm, give me something to grab hold of, when my brain and heart and balls are all whirling around in a thousand different directions, trying to get me to do a thousand different things. He just has to be there, and suddenly I'm not everywhere. I'm just... with him.”
James didn't seem to be able to hear what Sirius was saying, and kept mumbling to himself, every other word slurred almost beyond comprehension. “Had our whole future planned, you know. We'd get married-” For a moment Sirius thought James meant him and Sirius, together as a couple, and panicked. But James continued on before Sirius could react. “Me an' Lily, you and some bird.” Sirius let out a huge sigh of relief. “Then we'd have kids. Brilliant kids. They'd go to Hogwarts, and be on the Quidditch team, win Gryffindor the House Cup... but. You an' Moony. Now s'all...” James waved a heavy hand, letting it drop like a stone at the apex of its movement.
“We can still have that, James,” Sirius tried to soothe. “It's just a little change. Me and Remus, instead of me and some bird. And maybe we adopt some kids, or maybe we just spoil all yours rotten-”
“No!” James interrupted. His eyes were glassy as they tried to glare at Sirius. “Not the same. Because you're poofters.”
Sirius stared at the doorway and counted to thirty. “Still true!” he wanted to shout. Instead he settled for: “Calling me a 'poofter' is like trying to insult the Squid by calling him 'wet'.”
James seemed unable to comprehend Sirius' analogy, and continued to moan and clutch at his head. Sirius sighed, swinging his legs up onto James' bed and settling in against the headboard. “Budge over,” he grumbled, shoving James to the side of the bed. James seemed like he wanted to look panicked, or disgusted, but was too busy trying to keep the room in place to attempt it. “And don't worry,” Sirius sneered, “I'm not going to try and take advantage of you. You lush.” Sirius glanced at the door, then at his watch. Buggering fuck. This was really shit.
When Remus stormed into the dorm room, two hours later and jacket soaking from the heavy snow outside, Sirius wanted to scrunch himself up into a little ball. Remus' eyes made something in Sirius' soul tear: they were hurt, confused, angry, and scared, all rolled up into one giant, emotional mess.
Those eyes quickly took in the scene in the dorm room: Sirius on James' bed, James passed out to the side, one arm and one leg hanging off the edge. Sirius was playing a game of exploding snap by himself on James' duvet, and somehow losing.
Shoving the cards to one side, Sirius scrambled up from the bed and over to Remus. It was then he noticed that Remus had indeed worn the jacket with the leather patches on the elbows. Oh. Sirius kind of wanted to cry. Or punch James square in the nose.
“I'm so, so sorry, Moony. James-”
“I had to walk back alone, Sirius,” Remus growled, dragging Sirius away from James' bed by his elbow and over to Remus'. “There are curfews in affect! They were afraid of single students getting attacked. Didn't you hear Dumbledore yesterday?” Sirius winced. Oh bollocks. He had completely forgotten about that. To be honest, concern over the increased attacks hadn't really registered with him. For one, he couldn't bring himself to care about some cult-leader and his dense followers picking on a few schoolkids. For another... well: he was pureblood. The rumors were they only picked on muggle-born students.
Which Remus was, on one side.
Sirius winced, bringing his hands up to Remus' cheeks. They were freezing to the touch and rosy from the cold February wind. “I'm so sorry, Remus. I didn't even remember that. James wasn't letting me leave, and he was smashed, and then he was vomiting, and I had to... you know. Take care of him.”
“What about me?” Remus hissed. “I needed you to take care of me. In more ways than one, if my innuendo can get through that thick Black skull of yours!”
Dropping his hands from Remus' face, Sirius groaned. “You think I didn't think about that? Remus: look at me! I'm all done up, just for you! I even got the wallet out.” He pulled the wallet out of his pocket, passing it over to Remus, whose eyes softened as he turned it over in his hands. “Trust me, Remus,” Sirius continued, taking a step closer and wrapping his hands around Remus' waist. This time, Remus leaned into him, eyes still sad but less angry and hurt. “I needed tonight as much as you did. But James needed me, too. Plus he was blocking the door,” Sirius added with a small grin.
Remus laughed, shaking his head slowly before leaning in and pressing their foreheads together. Sirius wiggled his body against Remus', settling them into a proper embrace. “You couldn't have just knocked him down? He was drunk: he'd probably have gone down easily.”
Sirius mock-gasped, slow grin spreading across his face as it did the same on Remus'. “Moony! Such an un-prefectly suggestion! I was helping a friend in need!”
They had slowly begun walking backwards toward Remus' bed, legs sliding together in unison until the backs of Sirius' knees were bumping up against the mattress. Remus' face turned sweet as he leaned in and kissed Sirius lightly on the lips. “I know,” he murmured. “And that's why I'm not staying mad.”
Sirius glanced down along Remus' figure, taking in the sight of him. He was exactly as Sirius had pictured him – jacket with leather patches, camel-colored jumper, Gryffindor scarf, and brown hair falling in his eyes – except even more radiant, because he was there, in the flesh, body pressed up against Sirius' in every possible spot.
Sirius' chest was rising and falling more quickly as he felt his already-tight jeans grow even tighter. He could feel Remus' chest moving just as quickly, and could only imagine what was going on inside his own trousers. “You look gorgeous.” Sirius trailed his lips along Remus' neck as he mumbled the compliment, pressing a gentle kiss every centimeter. Remus' arm tightened around his waist, neck arching automatically to invite Sirius for more. “You have no idea how much I love this jacket.”
Remus' wicked laugh followed Sirius down to the mattress as he found himself being pushed onto it by Remus, who then promptly crawled on top of Sirius and stared hungrily down at him. Sirius gulped. He desperately wanted to be devoured.
“I know,” Remus replied. “Why do you think I wore it?”
A shiver moved from Sirius' neck down to the tips of his toes, leaving him a puddle of pliant eagerness beneath Remus. “What about James?” he whispered, with the last ounce of his control.
Quick as a stupefy, Remus' wand was out, flicking shut his bed curtains and casting a silencing spell over them. Sirius was crawling up to the headboard as fast as he could, fingers snatching at the bottle of lube Remus kept stashed under his pillow. Breathless laughter filled their little bubble of quiet as fingers scrambled at jacket buttons and yanked at scarves.
As Remus was pushing Sirius' peacoat off him with a sort of viciousness he normally reserved for the week before the full, he paused and glanced up at Sirius from beneath long eyelashes, a hint of his usual reservation back. “By the way,” he murmured, “you'd put Bowie to shame, you look so handsome tonight.”
Sirius found he just had to kiss Remus after that, pulling him in by his hair and biting his bottom lip shamelessly. Clothes started to vanish more quickly after that first wet slide of tongue on tongue, and with disturbing rapidity Sirius sound himself lying naked beneath a hungry-looking Remus. He swallowed.
“Do you want to top tonight?” It was almost unheard of for Remus to top outside of the week before full, but he was acting so dominant tonight, Sirius thought it best he ask.
But Remus was shaking his head, eyes already squeezed shut as he moved against Sirius, expression softly pained with each slide of skin against skin. “Can't,” he finally managed to force out. “Not going to last. Just...” Remus surged forward, kissing Sirius without any concern for technique. His tongue forced its way into Sirius' mouth, teeth clacking against teeth and stinging lips as the skin got pinched between them. Saliva dribbled down their faces as Remus started to moan, mouth held wide against Sirius' as he lost the focus to kiss.
It was terrible, and also one of the hottest kisses Sirius had ever experienced.
“Just get the lube,” Remus finally managed to pant.
Sirius' hand flew out to his side, scrambling for the lube and snapping it open as soon as he did. He squeezed a palmful into Remus' hand – too much, since they were just rubbing against each other, but Sirius found he couldn't bring himself to care.
When Remus brought that hand down between them and started stroking the slick wetness of the both of their skins, Sirius arched up and cried out, hand going to Remus' shoulder and squeezing tightly. Remus' lips were at his throat, mumbling: “Good?”
“Good, good,” Sirius breathed. Their bodies moved together more quickly now, Remus' hand acting as a guiding focus behind their rutting. “Harder, Remus, please...” Sirius gave up asking even as the request fell from his lips, slipping his hand down to Remus arse and squeezing tight, hauling Remus against him closer, harder.
A low moan escaped Remus' throat at the action, and he bit down on Sirius' neck. “Sirius-”
“Fuck, Remus.” It had been too long. Way too long since they had the opportunity to lie naked together, to feel every centimeter of each other, pressed up against them and moving, spiraling, falling toward completion. The odd wank in an alcove, with hands thrust under robes and doing their best to look inconspicuous, just didn't fulfill all of Sirius' needs. It was an exquisite, hedonistic joy for Sirius to get to feel Remus' overheated skin against his, their sweating hips banging into each other when they thrust disharmoniously.
Remus came first, with his advantageous leverage helping him to bring himself off more easily than Sirius did, trapped as he was beneath Remus' body. Sticky come spurted between them, dribbling down Sirius' stomach to nest in his pubic hair. He groaned as Remus' teeth dug into his clavicle, still trying to move, to get off, all while Remus was turning into a pile of wet noodles on top of him.
Sirius's fingers tore at the sheets when Remus lifted his head and gave him a goofy smile, before sliding down Sirius' body until his face was level with Sirius' erection. He took a moment, hand wrapped tight around the base, to just smell it, rub his face against it, lavish it with soft kisses and compliments. Sirius' hips bucked as Remus buried his face in his pubic hair, breathing deep and just nuzzling.
But the need for release was too imminent for Sirius to enjoy Remus' post-coital affections, and soon he was squeezing hand urgently in Remus' hair, hips rolling upward over and over again in barely restrained desperation.
When Remus' lips finally wrapped around the head of Sirius' erection and slid down, Sirius found himself nearly sobbing with pleasure and happiness. It felt like coming home. It felt like everything in the world was being made right, just by Remus moving his mouth gently over this one piece of Sirius' flesh. It felt like James, and his bigotry, and all those other arseholes in the world who felt the same way just didn't matter anymore. All that mattered was Remus' lips on him, and Sirius' own pleasure bursting forth.
Remus pulled off of him with a pleased grin, sliding back up and nestling in Sirius' side as them came down from their orgasms. Sirius found that all he wanted to do was just lie there and stroke Remus' hair for the next hour – or two, or days, or weeks.
All too soon, Remus was nudging at Sirius' hip, drawing him out of his daze. “You've got to go, Sirius,” he murmured.
Sirius sighed. Yeah. He suppose he did have to go: if he had made any progress with James that night – if James could remember anything that happened – it would be reversed the moment James found them sleeping naked together in Remus' bed.
With a groan Sirius pushed himself upright, wiping half-heartedly at the drying come on his stomach. Leaning to the left, he drank in the sight of Remus half-asleep next to him: hair fanned out on the pillow, eyes gazing blearily up at him, ghost of a grin still tugging at his lips. Sirius bent down and kissed Remus, running a gentle hand over his bare flank as he did. When they stopped, Sirius stayed bent over, nuzzling at Remus' nose and placing soft kisses all over his face: eyes, eyebrows, cheeks, nose.
Eventually Remus snuffled and nudged his forehead against Sirius'. “Go on,” he mumbled, reluctance evident in his voice. “You've got to go.”
“I know.” Forlornly Sirius pulled away, crawling around on the bed to gather up his clothes before standing and grabbing the rest. “You know,” he paused, biting his lip as he gazed down at Remus, who stared back up at him. “Maybe,” Sirius' gut churned, “After Hogwarts... I want to wake up with you. All the time. I want to be able to fall asleep with you, just like that.” He nodded at where he had been lying, so blissful and relaxed just moments earlier. “D'you reckon we could get a flat together? I'm probably banished from the Potter's as it is, so-”
“Mr. and Mrs. Potter wouldn't do that to you,” Remus reassured him. “But, yeah. If we can scrape together the money. You don't have your inheritance to rely on, remember.”
Sirius nodded, feeling more exposed by the conversation than by his current nudity. “Yeah,” he conceded. “I know. I just thought-”
“Yes.” Remus interrupted Sirius with a soft smile. “I'll move in with you, Sirius. Now just find us some jobs so it can actually happen.”
With that, Sirius hurried off to his own bed, tip-toeing into his pajamas and tossing his dirty laundry on the floor for the house elves to take care of. James was still passed out on one side of his own bed, and was certainly still breathing, if the bedpost-rattling snores were anything to go by.
Feeling more at ease than he had in months, Sirius drifted off into sleep.
Sirius' foot jangled the whole potions table as he sat on the far left side, doing his best to ignore the total berk who was seated on the far right side of the same table. The berk who hadn’t come out to Remus’ last full moon, even though Sirius had skipped out on his date with Remus to hold the berk’s stupid, pissed self as he vomited his face off in the gents. The berk on the other side of the table who still wouldn’t speak to them, even though it had been closing in on two months of this stupid shit.
“Pete,” said berk spoke up, stupid hair sticking up in all directions, “tell that cocksucker to stop shaking the table. It's giving me a headache.”
Peter turned to Sirius, throwing his thumb over his shoulder at James. “Did you get that? James asked if you could stop shaking the table.”
“Pete,” Sirius sneered, “tell that champion wanker I'll shake the table if it damn well suits me.”
Turning to James, Peter sighed as he relayed the message. “Sirius said no.”
James snorted at the response. “Pete, ask Sirius if he can't keep still because his arse is sore from Moony buggering it.”
Peter turned to Sirius. “James still wants you to stop shaking your leg.”
Just to really drive James mad, Sirius jiggled his leg even harder, causing their cauldrons to rattle and shake. James' expression was thunderous, looking like he might jump over the table and try and wallop Sirius right there. Then Remus' hand settled on Sirius' thigh, his eyes mournful. “Pads,” he murmured. “Don't.”
He stopped, but not before shooting two fingers and a glare at James. In response, James shoved his index finger into a circle made by his fingers on his other hand, thrusting it in and out lewdly. “Hey Pete,” James turned to Peter again, “ask Black if he always does what Lupin asks, or if it's because Lupin takes it up the arse like a champ.”
Grabbing Peter by the collar before the other boy could even turn to him, Sirius hissed: “Hey Pete, tell that fucking moron that maybe he wouldn't care about mine and Remus' sex life if he was getting some of his own.”
Just as James slammed his hands down on the table and made to stand up, Slughorn appeared at the front of the classroom and clapped his meaty hands together.
“Alright class! Today we will be practicing a potion which will almost certainly appear on your NEWT exam next year. It is the Blood-Replenishing Potion, which, as the name suggests, will replenish the blood of the drinker. This is an especially important potion for you students who are looking to become Aurors or Healers, so pay careful attention.” Slughorn then proceeded to list the ingredients to the potion, as the students took careful notes on quantities and time of administration. He finished his explanation with a caveat. “Now, if you brew the potion incorrectly, it becomes a blood draining potion. The color difference between the two is only very slight, so for the love of Salazar be careful.”
With that, Slughorn waved his hand for the students to break up into their potion groups. Sirius hesitated. Before all hell had broken loose between the Marauders Sirius would pair up with James, and Remus with Peter. This was for the sake of proper potions: Sirius and Remus were the second and third best potion-brewers in Gryffindor – behind only Evans. James and Peter, on the other hand, were the absolute worst. After the “Great Outing” of Sirius and Remus, the two boyfriends had taken to sticking together in class, leaving poor Peter and (the less-worthy of sympathy) Potter to try and fend for themselves.
But now Sirius hesitated, even as Remus started gathering their cauldron and splitting off to one of the workstations. He glanced over at James and Peter, who were already arguing over their notes and the first step they were supposed to do. “Pete,” Sirius picked at his fingernails, glancing back at Remus who was staring at him expectantly. “Why don't you pair up with Remus? I'll take Potter.”
James' entire body tensed, practically snarling as he glanced up at Sirius. Before he could open his mouth to let fly another series of insults – which were honestly just getting repetitive in this second month of this ridiculous fight – Sirius continued. “Tell Potter this is an auror potion. I don't need him brewing it wrong and then drinking it when I'm out in the field. And I don't need him whining to me when he can't pass his qualifications for auror.”
With a sigh, Peter turned back to James and threw his thumb over his shoulder at Sirius. “Sirius says stop being a fucking twat, and put your life above this stupid fight.” He turned and started to head over to Remus. “Thank fucking Merlin,” he grumbled under his breath. “I won't get blown up today...”
Sirius turned to James, arms crossed over his chest and delicate, Black eyebrow arched. James turned away, eyes intent on his notes. Fine. They didn't have to talk to get the potion brewed. James just needed to actually listen to what Sirius told him to do. Sirius glanced at James again. Easier said than done.
As part of the first step James reached for some cauldron oil, ready to prepare it for brewing. Sirius' hand shot out, grabbing James' around the wrist. Immediately James dropped the oil and snatched his hand away, as if Sirius' touch had burned it. James' expression seemed to be a battleground for a moment, as if his desire to insult and shout and scream at Sirius was just about ready to override his desire to continue not talking directly to him.
Sirius snatched at the oil and ignored James' reaction to him. He couldn't pretend that seeing his brother act like he had dragon pox invoked any sort of warm fuzzy feelings within him, but he'd just have to grow some stones and ignore it for now. “You can't pour the oil in with this potion. It's a thickening potion, which means the less oil used originally, the better.” As he spoke and carefully avoided eye contact with James, Sirius picked up a spare cloth on their workstation. He poured the oil carefully on the cloth, before reaching inside the cauldron and brushing the oil around. He did it a second and third time, until the cauldron was just barely shining with a thin layer of oil.
“Just write it down in your notes, Potter,” Sirius grumbled, eyes still on the table. “You don't want to forget it for NEWTs. Or an auror exam.”
Sirius' gaze drifted over to Remus' workstation, where he and Peter were carefully pouring in the first ingredient. He sighed, gaze softening as he watched Remus blow impatiently at his hair, causing the soft golden fringe to puff up, then drift right back down into his eyes. What Sirius wouldn't give to be able to brush that hair out of Remus' eyes, not behind closed curtains or locked classroom doors.
Bottles of ingredients started slamming down on their workstation, startling Sirius out of his fancying. James' face was thunderous, but his lips were pressed tightly shut. Sirius grunted and turned back to the potion, carefully measuring out the first ingredient and pouring it in, being careful not to splash it. “Not like we've ever complained about you mooning over Evans. Taken the mickey, sure, but not anything like what you're doing. Nothing mean.”
James sneered as he reached for the second ingredient, measuring carefully even as Sirius looked on. “Nothing mean,” he repeated in a falsetto. “Sounds like there's a girl at my workstation,” he complained to the air. “That's funny: I don't remember partnering up with a girl. Oh wait:” Sirius sighed, waiting for the inevitable comment on his sexuality, “I partnered up with someone who sure loves nob like a-”
“Potter!” James jumped, almost spilling the ingredient he held in one hand. Both boys' heads whipped up, to see Slughorn standing at their workstation, girth bumping into the side. “That doesn't sound like a discussion on potion-making.”
James dropped his head, focusing on the ingredient in his hand. “No, Professor. Sorry.” Slughorn nodded once, glancing in their cauldron before sniffing approvingly, and moving on to the next table.
Sirius and James took a moment to glare at each other without actually looking at each other. Then they continued on with the potion.
Two sweaty and exhausting hours later, Slughorn called for the end of class. Sirius glanced at their cauldron, then at the picture in the textbook. It looked the right hue of blood red, but it was just so damn hard to tell. Was that a smattering of pink at the edges? He frowned and picked at his cuticles. It had seemed fine as they were brewing it – no wrong steps taken, no accidental extra turns of the spoon or anything.
With a flick of his wand, Sulghorn levitated the cauldrons as one and started to guide them into the back room, instructing the students back to their seats for final instructions before they left. Sirius scrambled at the chance to be back next to Remus – two hours in passive-aggressive silence was a bit trying.
He settled into his seat, letting Peter take the chair between himself and James so as to avoid any major conflicts. Remus was looking similarly sweaty and tired, but he still managed to muster up a weak smile for Sirius as he sat down next to him. Sirius grinned back, reaching out a surreptitious hand under the table and squeezing Remus' leg. If him and James had managed to get through the past two hours without killing each other – lack of actual dialogue between them notwithstanding – there might be hope.
Sirius really wanted to wrap Remus up into a sweaty, messy kiss in relief. But such an action would reset any progress they had made with James, so Sirius settled for an extra swipe of his thumb over Remus' thigh before removing his hand. Remus' smile was really all Sirius needed for now: snogging could wait.
“Peter,” Sirius and Remus turned their attention to James, who was staring hard at the table as he spoke. “Tell Moony that Prongs'll be there this month.”
Sirius' head whipped around to Remus, whose eyes started to look a bit watery. They shared another hopeful smile.
“Thank you,” Remus whispered. “James, that means a lot. Really, thank-”
“And Peter,” Sirius stopped a growl as James continued to avoid eye contact with them, “tell Lupin that there's no reason for him to injure himself just because my former canine friend has impulse control issues.”
Sirius started up out of his seat, only halted by Remus' hand on his elbow. “Peter,” he started, leaving Peter holding his head in his hands in exasperation. “Tell that grass-eater that it's not like I'm raping little innocent Remus. He wants this just as much as I do! And-” Sirius ignored Remus hissing in his ear, telling him to shut up, that he was just making it worse, that all the progress they had made today was going to be lost if he kept flapping his big gob, “This isn't some sort of 'impulse' on my part: we've been together for three years!” James' head shot up at that, mouth falling open in shock.
Forgetting the pretense of talking through Peter at that point, Sirius continued on, looking directly at James as he spoke. “Yeah. Since third year. So don't even act like we're different because of this, or we're suddenly big fat fairies or anything, or we're about to jump anything with a cock from now on, because you hadn’t noticed yet, and you probably never would have, you daft sod, until you caught us at it.”
Sirius watched as James' face blotched and flushed and turned green with disgust. His mouth flapped furiously, but no sounds came out other than a few choked whimpers. With a growl James gathered up his potion book and stood, turning back to Peter for one final parting remark. “Tell Moony I'll be there.” And with that, James was gone, not even staying to listen to Slughorn's final notes for the day.
Sirius, Remus, and Peter all exchanged surprised looks, Peter finally speaking up first. “Well,” he mused. “Guess that's progress.”
Sirius' stomach did a little flip as he turned to Remus, hopeful smile tugging at both their lips. Maybe Peter was right. Maybe they were making some headway with James, despite Sirius' continued goading.
Sirius' optimistic mood only lasted until Slughorn came in and asked the students to look back at a particular step in their notes. When he looked down to follow along, it was to find that his notes had been erased, wiped clean by a subtle, well-aimed spell. Sirius turned and glanced back at the doorway that James had fled out mere minutes before, before reaching for Remus' notes and starting to copy them.