“…as much as I appreciate your efforts,” Regulus said, very little inflection in his voice as he stabbed at a bit of chicken on his plate, “I’m afraid you can’t arrange a marriage for me. I’m dating someone.”
Sirius glanced across the table at him, one eyebrow quirked—almost daring in a way, as if to say, ‘Oh yes, little brother? Your moment to rebel?’
It made sense, as Sirius had been taking the piss about Regulus not doing a single thing that would upset his parents. Regulus had argued there had been no need, but Sirius—as Sirius was wont to do—was relentless about it until Regulus had grabbed him by the front of his robes and said, “Just you watch!”
Sirius, of course, didn’t think Regulus claiming he was dating some fussy Slytherin pureblood wasn’t exactly rebelling. Whichever bird he was laying claim to was probably already on his parents’ list.
“This is…the first we’ve heard of it,” Walburga said. She cast a quick side-eye at Sirius as though her eldest had put Regulus up to this which…well in a way, he had. “Who is she?”
Regulus blinked, a bit owlish and faux innocent which made Sirius want to gag.
“Yes, Regs,” Sirius added sweetly, folding his hands under his chin. “Who is she?”
“Well,” Regulus said, slow and a bit sly with a hint of a smirk playing at his lips. “You know him.”
There was a pointed silence, and the tiniest cough from Orion, who followed it up by dabbing the corners of his mouth.
“Do we?” Walburga eventually managed. Her jaw was tense, but Sirius knew she was trying to console herself with the fact that children were not off the table entirely, and at least her baby boy was a Slytherin so chances were it was someone they could tolerate.
“The Potters. James Potter,” Regulus deadpanned.
If only Sirius hadn’t chosen a moment to take a sip from his goblet. But he had. And pumpkin juice went spraying across his mother’s finest linen, staining a faint orange.
Regulus still hadn’t blinked.
Walburga’s already pale face managed to go paler, a bit green as she swallowed and her eyes darted to Orion who was covering a half-smile with the edge of his goblet. He took a moment to compose himself as Sirius gaped like a fish and Walburga was waiting for Sirius’ mates to jump out of the walls and shout, “April Fools!”
Regulus heaved a sigh. “The heart wants what the heart wants.”
Walburga made a strange noise, like a dying kneazle.
“Well,” Orion said after the pointed silence, “at least he’s a pureblood?”
In the corridor, Sirius paused to listen to his mother’s wailing before grabbing Regulus by the collar, hauling him into his room. He fought back the urge to hex the little grin off Regulus’ face before crowding him up against the wall, finger pointed into Regulus’ nose.
“What do you think you’re playing at?”
“Nothing,” Regulus said, shrugging. “I’m not playing at anything. They asked, I told them.”
“You and James are not dating.”
Regulus blinked innocently. “Says who?”
“James, for one!” Sirius howled, stepping back from his sibling. “He’s going to lose his mind the moment he hears about this rubbish. I swear to Merlin he’s going to hex you from now until the end of the world if he…”
“Is he?” Regulus asked. His voice was so quiet, so small, so bloody sure that Sirius actually paused in his ranting. Staring at the look on Regulus’ face, Sirius scrambled over to his bed, diving into his trunk for his mirror.
Several books and Moony’s jumpers went flying until he came out with a triumphant, “AHA!” and held the mirror in his hand. He tapped it, and said, “Prongs,” and waited, pacing the floor until James’ face appeared.
“You’ll never believe this, Prongs,” Sirius said, his hand flailing in the air. “You will never believe what my brother told my parents tonight at dinner.”
James blinked, then said, “Ah. Came clean about us dating, did he?”
Sirius froze, like he’d been hit with a petrificus totalus—apart from the shaking in his hands. “You. He. I.” He swallowed. “What?”
James’ smile was soft, and so genuine Sirius started to panic as he said, “Dating? He didn’t want to tell anyone, of course. Being that it would probably upset you, but…”
“Prongs,” Sirius said, his voice barely above a whisper. He cleared his throat and tried again. “Prongs. Are you…are you tell…” His voice cracked and he glanced up to see Regulus watching with careful, narrowed eyes. “Are you telling me that Lily fucks off to go shag Marlene and you decide…you decide to date Regulus?”
“The heart wants what the heart wants, Pads,” James said.
Sirius’ gaze snapped up to his brother who gave an agreeing shrug. “You’re lying. You’re…you’re both lying. Your taking the fucking piss and I will not…I will not stand for this. I will not stand here and listen to this rubbish, this…this utter and absolute…this…”
“Padfoot,” James said quietly.
Sirius blinked at his friend, then at his brother, then ended the spell. The mirror went blank, and he dropped it to the bed. “I will find out the truth,” he hissed.
Regulus shrugged. “You already have. I’ll be here when you’re ready to accept it.”
Sirius didn’t speak to James again until the end of the hols. He didn’t answer his mirror, or so much as look across the table at Regulus who sat every meal with a smirk on his face. Sirius lurked outside of Regulus’ rooms during the final days, trying to intercept owls with letters to James, but he was so traumatised by the lovey-dovey rubbish in the one he’d managed to catch he decided it wasn’t worth it.
James was a determined prankster, and it was clear Regulus had inherited some of the decent genes from Sirius. He’d have to be more clever in breaking them.
Sirius managed to duck away from his parents and brother on the platform, and pushed his way through the crowd until he found Remus talking with Peter and his parents near the luggage compartment. Sirius ducked his head low, came up behind Moony, and grabbed him by the arm.
“Nice to see you, Wormtail! Moony and I have some business to attend to!”
“Sirius what the bloody hell…” Remus spluttered as Sirius dragged him onto the train, into an empty compartment, and spelled the door shut. “What are you doing? I told you we are not having sex…”
“This isn’t for shagging, Moons,” Sirius said, then stopped and narrowed his eyes. “Although honestly I feel like we’re missing a prime opportunity here to…”
“Sirius,” Remus said, crossing his arms over his chest. His brown eyes were narrowed, his mouth set in a firm line. “What the bloody hell is going on?”
“Regulus said he’s dating James.” Sirius locked eyes with Remus, who stared back, and when the corners of his lips began to twitch, Sirius threw his hands up. “I’m not joking, Remus! Regulus told my parents at dinner,” he spat, “and then when I tried to catch him at the lie…James…James agreed with him!”
Remus’ smile faded. “Did he? You know he’s probably taking the piss, right?”
“Yes, I know that,” Sirius wailed. “That’s beside the point, Remus. He’s…lying to me. About dating my brother. Regulus,” he said, grabbing the sides of his head. “This is literally the worst thing that has ever happened in possibly the entire world.”
Remus snorted, putting his hand on Sirius’ back, easing him to the seat. “Pads. I think there have been worse things than a younger sibling dating a friend.” When Sirius’ head snapped up to glare, Remus poked the end of Sirius’ nose. “But I still think he’s lying.”
“I know he’s lying. He’s just trying to get back at me for…something.”
Remus’ brows furrowed. “What did you do?”
“Nothing!” Sirius immediately protested. “I mean…nothing I can think of. I love James most in the world apart from you, Moons. And if…bloody hell if he wanted to date Regs…” He shuddered. “But this is…it has to be crossing a line, right? He’s not using Regs to get over Lils.”
“I don’t think James was…was under Lils,” Remus pointed out. “Not really, anyway. I think he was fixated on the idea of her, you know? He wasn’t even that upset when she started dating Marls.”
Sirius worried his bottom lip between his teeth. “You’ll help me break them?”
Remus sighed. “Yeah, Pads.”
Just then, the train gave a lurch, and it started forward. Sirius knew they ought to go find their mates, get on with the ride—possibly buy some sweets, maybe attempt to climb on the roof and dodge the trolley witch…business as usual. But Remus’ arms had come round him tight, soft and soothing. And he was feeling fragile.
He turned his face, nuzzling into Remus’ neck, and heard his boyfriend chuckle softly. “I’m not joking about no shagging on the train, Pads.”
“I know,” Sirius said with a pout. “But you didn’t say anything about no snogging and I need a kiss, Moony.”
Remus laughed, but cupped Sirius’ chin in his hands, and drew their lips together.
For just a little while, Sirius managed to forget about the issue that was his best friend, and his little brother.
James found himself sat near the Slytherin part of the train, uncomfortable to say the least. But their compartment was empty apart from him and Regulus, and Regulus had cast a clever charm on the windows to obscure the view.
“If you’re worried about taking too long,” Regulus said with a wave of his hand, “just tell them all we were snogging.”
James rolled his eyes, but held out his hand. Regulus stared for a minute, horror on his face until he realised what James was asking for. Digging into his pockets, he produced a small handful of sickles and galleons.
“Dunno what you need the money for. I’ve seen your family’s vault. It’s near ours,” he sneered.
“Yes well, this is for a good cause,” James said, pocketing the coin.
Regulus raised a brow. “Is it?”
“It’s also a secret,” James told him. And it was. He hadn’t even told the others about it, and didn’t plan to until he had everything solid. He’d been trying to come up with a way to work it all out when Regulus had owled, and it was just too good an opportunity to pass up.
What was a little hand-holding in front of Sirius to make him squirm?
Not like James hadn’t gone on dates with boys before, and Regulus wasn’t terrible looking. Especially when he was hurtling round the pitch on his broom after the snitch and…
James shook himself out of that before things got…awkward. He cleared his throat. “Alright so. D’you want to come and sit with us?”
“Well,” Regulus said slowly, “you could always sit with me and my housemates?”
James pulled a face. “I’m not sitting with Slytherins. Snape’s in that compartment.”
Regulus sighed, clearly not going to argue. “You don’t think I’m really going to open myself up to all the hexing just because you don’t want to smell that greasy git?”
James snorted, and took a step in close to Regulus. He saw the high blush on his cheeks, and wondered if Regulus had actually ever had a proper boyfriend or girlfriend before. It wasn’t the time to ask, but he could use this to his advantage.
“My friends won’t hurt you,” he said, pitching his voice low. “And if you really want to sell this…”
“I don’t want the whole bloody school to know,” Regulus snapped, his voice a bit hoarse.
James sighed. “So tell them you’ve got business with your brother. We’ll have a few sweets, play a game of snap, then you can fuck off back to your friends and we’ll call it a day.”
Regulus bit his lip. “How long are we carrying this on for, anyway?”
James took a step back, shrugging. “Your call, mate. Pay me, and I’ll be the best boyfriend in the world.”
Regulus pinked even further. “I erm…”
“Or we can just tell him the truth now.”
With a scowl, Regulus shook his head. “I’m not letting him have that triumph. We won’t be telling him anything, not until he believes we’re together. Honestly believes it.”
“You realise how stubborn he is, right?” James countered.
Regulus huffed. “Which is why I chose you. You’re even more pig-headed than he is.”
At that, James threw his head back and laughed, and Regulus seemed startled by it as though maybe he expected James to hit him or curse him. “I suppose that’s true, innit? Well…I guess we’ll give it a try, won’t we?”
“I guess we will.” Regulus hesitated, then stepped forward, and tangled their hands together.
James only barely managed to contain a hitch in his breath as warm palm pressed to warm palm. Regulus’ hands were just a little smaller, and fit almost perfect inside his own. Better than Lily’s ever had, a traitorous voice in the back of his mind said.
He told it promptly to fuck off.
“We’re going out there like this, then?” he asked, waggling Regulus’ arm.
“No,” Regulus snapped. “It’s only…I wanted to see how it would feel. If I could…stand touching you, is all.”
“Right,” James said.
Regulus rolled his eyes and snatched his hand back. “At any rate, I only want your mates fooled. I’d rather not have all of Slytherin house thinking I’m shagging King Gryffindor behind tapestries.”
James grinned happily. “Is that what your house calls me? King Gryffindor?”
“Oh my god,” Regulus groaned. “You are…absurd. Anyway can we please get this over with? I’m already regretting every choice I ever made which led me here today.”
James snickered, then held the compartment door open and stepped to the side. “After you, love.”
Regulus glared. “I hate you.”
James winked as he followed him down the corridor. “Yes, but for now, you also love me.”