"Sirius likes being punished," James announced. "It's the only explanation."
Remus snickered. "Think maybe he fancies McGonagall? She's always the one who catches him."
"Oi! You think you're so funny," Sirius said, pulling his robe off and tossing it on his bed. He'd been caught trying to enter the Slytherin common room and had barely rid himself of the vial of nightmare narcosis potion that would have got him in even more trouble, had McGonagall found it in his possession. As it was, he'd lost them twenty house points and got himself a week's detention. "The woman's uncanny. Got a real nose for trouble."
"Or maybe you just get so flustered when she's around that you forget to pay attention," Remus answered. "You're usually much more careful."
"Ooh, Padfoot's got a crush," James teased. "Let's hope he doesn't start humping her leg in detention."
"Now you've gone too far!" Sirius launched himself at James, knocking him to the floor. They rolled and wrestled for a bit, grunting and laughing.
Using his greater height and weight to good advantage, Sirius finally pinned James and crowed in triumph.
"Get off me, you pillock," James said good-naturedly, shoving at Sirius, who sat on his chest. "I might start thinking it's me you're hot for."
Sirius jumped up, flushing red. "Berk," he muttered, stalking back to his bed, the mulish cast to his face sending Remus into gales of laughter. "What?" Sirius demanded, turning around. "You think it's funny?"
"The great and popular Sirius Black fancying starchy Professor McGonagall?" Remus replied. "Yeah, I think it's hilarious."
"Not half as funny as you fancying--"
"Shut your fat mouth," Remus interrupted, his good humor gone, before Sirius could finish. Remus flushed to the roots of his hair.
"Can dish it out but can't take it, eh, Moony?"
James froze, all of a sudden aware of the tension in the room. Sirius wore a look that boded ill for Remus, and Remus stared at his feet, all signs of laughter vanishing from his face.
"I was just taking the piss," Remus replied, and James could hear the pleading in his voice.
Sirius opened his mouth, but before he could speak, James said, "I have practice. I'll be back later. Try not to kill each other while I'm gone."
He was halfway down the stairs when he realized he'd forgotten his broom in his hurry to avoid whatever it was Remus and Sirius were fighting about. He turned back, and stopped just outside the door when he heard his own name.
"--tell James?" Remus shouted, whatever calm he'd managed to hold onto in James's presence gone now. It was a surprise to hear the always-in-control Remus shouting, even in the midst of an argument. "You always go too far, Sirius. You want me to trust you again, but you do shit like this--"
"Look, I'm sorry, all right?" Sirius's voice was raised, but that wasn't unusual at all. The apology, on the other hand, was something James had never heard from him. "I didn't--"
"Think. You didn't think. You never do. And then you smile and turn on the charm and expect the world to forgive you."
Sirius's voice dropped, and James had to strain to hear. "You always have before."
"Well, not this time. Do you think it's funny? 'Poor Remus, not only a werewolf, but a bloody poof in the bargain. Likes his best friend, who only fancies girls. Isn't that pathetic?' You can't go around telling everybody my business because it suits you, all right?"
James exhaled shakily. This was something they could deal with. He'd got them talking to each other mere weeks after Sirius had sent Snape to the Shrieking Shack; surely this would blow over soon.
"James isn't everybody! I don't understand--" Sirius said, but Remus cut him off again.
"Of course you don't. But if I can't trust you not to use the small secrets against me, how can I trust you with the larger ones?"
"Moony, I-- I went too far. I always do." Sirius sounded like he'd been whipped, and James could picture his face. The sincere Sirius -- they didn't get to see if often, but they'd learned to distinguish it from 'begging for a favor' Sirius and 'I'm not really sorry, but forgive me anyway' Sirius fairly quickly.
James leaned against the wall and ran a hand through his hair. He didn't care that Remus fancied blokes, or even that he fancied Sirius. But he'd be damned before he'd let the two of them fuck up their friendship again, after all the hard work he'd put into repairing it last year.
"Moony-- Remus, please--"
"Sirius, I was teasing you. Isn't that what we do? What you and James were doing? But you-- I didn't even want you to know that I --"
"I wanted to know."
"Of course you did. Feeds your ego, doesn't it?" Remus said bitterly.
"Remus," Sirius pleaded.
But Remus just kept talking, his voice so flat it made James's chest ache. "Do you think I don't know you? That's exactly why I didn't want to tell you. I know how you treat the girls who like you. I don't want to be just another idiot on the string."
"You're not. Christ, Remus, is that what you think?"
"You were going to tell James--"
"I was taking the mickey, same as you. And it's James. It's not like I was going to tell --" he stopped.
Remus took a deep breath, blew it out. James closed his eyes, picturing Remus drawing himself in, hands fisted at his sides, eyes closed, gnawing on his lower lip. It was the way he stood whenever he was afraid.
Finally, he said, "You were going to tell James, even though I asked you to keep it a secret."
"James and I," Sirius began, but then stopped. "I'll tell you a secret. One James doesn't even know yet."
"No, Remus, this is a good idea." He sounded excited, and James could see him, eyes flashing, wide smile on his almost-painfully handsome face. James had no problem understanding how Remus could have fallen for Sirius. If you fancied blokes, Sirius was quite fine, the best-looking boy at Hogwarts. "This way, we're even."
"It's not about being even, Sirius. That's just--" and then his voice was cut off.
After a few moments of silence, James heard ragged breathing and soft, wet sounds that reminded him of stolen moments with Lily in the dark corners of the common room.
He peeked into the room to see Remus pulling away from Sirius. Both of them looked dazed.
"I wanted to tell you." Sirius was breathless. "I meant to tell you, but I just-- You've been in a strop all the time, lately. I thought maybe you'd got over it, over me."
"Sirius." Remus brushed his thumb over Sirius's lower lip, then leaned in and kissed him hungrily. They stumbled toward Remus's bed, never breaking contact, an awkward stagger accompanied by soft murmurs James didn't need to hear to understand.
He flushed, both at the intensity of their actions and at the thought of getting caught spying on them. He reckoned they were so focused on each other that he could sneak in, grab his broom and be gone before they noticed.
When he came back from Quidditch practice two hours later, they were lying on the couch in the common room, Sirius's head in Remus's lap, looking happier than they had in a long time.
James smiled. He'd been right again; it had blown over quickly, and in the best possible way.
Achromatic: http://unfitforsociety.net/musesfool LJ: http://musesfool.livejournal.com
Please post a comment on this story.
Fandom: Harry Potter
Title: You Know You're Right
Author: Victoria P. [email]
Details: Standalone | PG-13 | 7k | 04/17/04
Characters: Sirius, Remus, James
Summary: "If I can't trust you not to use the small secrets against me, how can I trust you with the larger ones?"
Notes: Thanks to Jen, Dot, Meg and Pete'n'Melissa. Written for ZenAppleberries, who provided the first sentence. Sort of.
Disclaimer/Other: I own not. You sue not.
Archive: Lists, Achromatic.
Feedback: is a wonderful thing. I adore it.
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