Over ten thousand auditioned. Eight made it to the live finals and battled for your votes.
Myron Wagtail with the Boys -- Cedric and Viktor.
Stubby Boardman with the Over 25s -- Sirius and Remus.
Celestina Warbeck with the Groups -- Gred & Forge and The Chasers.
Rita Skeeter with the Girls -- Nymphadora and Fleur.
Now only two remain. Tonight YOU decide who has The Wiz-Factor!
"I can't believe this is really happening." Remus stared nervously at one of the monitors backstage that showed the studio audience, and then went back to pacing.
"Not like we haven't done this for the past six weeks," Sirius said, resting a hand on his shoulder to stop him from wearing a hole in the floorboards. "Has it really only sunk in just now?"
Remus sighed, glancing back at the monitor for just a second. "Jesus, look at all those people."
"There's only a couple thousand in the studio, you know. There's millions watching at home."
Remus looked a little ill and Sirius glared at the stagehand who had cheerfully supplied that bit of information. "You're not helping."
"This isn't me," Remus said softly. "I used to get nervous speaking in front of my own classes. I don't sing pop songs in front of millions of people."
"This has been you for the past six weeks. This could be you all the time. If you win..."
"Remus, you're on in two minutes. We need to take you up to the stage."
Remus's eyes widened and Sirius gave his shoulder a reassuring squeeze. "You'll be brilliant. I know it." Remus couldn't say what sort of nerves caused the flip in his stomach when Sirius gave him a reassuring smile.
AUDITIONS EPISODE 1
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Name, age... What do you do? Where are you from? That sort of thing.
Um. Right. My name is Remus Lupin. I'm thirty-four years old. I'm originally from Yorkshire, and I'm a schoolteacher.
What would it mean to you to win The Wiz-Factor?
My ... my friend filled out the application for me. He thought I should give it a go after he heard me sing a very drunk rendition of "Sometimes When We Touch" at a karaoke night. This is all a bit of a lark for me...
"What did you sing in your audition?"
Remus set the suitcase on the bed and then looked over his shoulder at his new roommate. "'Handbags and Gladrags'. You?"
"'Somebody to Love'." Sirius grinned as he sat down on Remus's bed and made himself comfortable. "Excited about the live shows?"
Remus snorted. "That's one word for it."
"You get nerves on stage?"
"I've never been on stage."
Sirius gave him a blank look. "What?"
Remus shrugged. "I've always had about a three drink minimum before I'd sing in front of anybody..."
Sirius blinked. "...you do realise this is a televised singing competition, right?"
"My--" He stopped. "Kingsley filled out the application."
"Your Kingsley?" Sirius raised an eyebrow. "Who's Kingsley?"
"He's ... someone I used to see."
"Someone you used to date," Sirius said.
Sirius shrugged. "Then just say that."
Remus watched Sirius as he wandered back to his own bed.
AUDITIONS EPISODE 3
Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Sirius Black. I'm thirty-five years old. I've lived my whole life in London. Left home at sixteen, just me and my guitar and the clothes I had on. Stayed with a friend's family a few years and I've been out on my own ever since, playing the pubs. Never looked back.
What would winning The Wiz-Factor mean to you?
No more little pubs. No more wasting my time. I've been looking for a break like this for twenty years. Winning would mean proving them all wrong -- all of the people that told me it would never happen. I'm a musician. I don't have a day job. This isn't something I do in my spare time. It's everything. Winning would mean everything.
The 'Final Eight' actually consisted of eleven people who all shared a house through two weeks of rehearsal before the first live show. Nymphadora Tonks, who preferred to be called by her surname only, was a tom-boyish pink-haired punk-rocker forced to share a room with Fleur, a French national who thought her rather extraordinary beauty gave her an excuse to be catty. They shared a bathroom with Angelina, Alicia, and Katie, a girlband collectively called The Chasers. They got along with Fleur about as well as Tonks did.
Fred and George, identical twins with boundless charm and energy and limited singing talent, shared their bathroom with Cedric and Viktor, who worked past Viktor's less-than-solid grasp of the English language and bonded over a mutual love of football.
And then there were Remus and Sirius. Their category was called the 'Over 25s' but they were each about thirteen years older than Tonks, the eldest among the rest of the contestants, and she had taken to smiling and winking at them and calling them the 'Over 30s'.
Sharing a house with mostly teenagers seemed to Remus rather like taking his students on a school trip -- he often felt the need to act in loco parentis, especially with Fred and George, the youngest and rowdiest of the bunch. The two of them spent all their free time catching spiders to slip into Fleur's bed and changing the words on Viktor's sheet music into various naughty phrases he didn't understand so that he would sing the wrong lyrics in rehearsal.
Sirius shrugged it off with a laugh. "I'd have done the same thing at their age."
"Don't you go encouraging them! You're supposed to be one of the mature ones here."
Sirius grinned. "Some day, we're going to get you to stop being such a teacher all the time."
I think it's obvious that my category is the strongest. You have Sirius, who is obviously a born performer. He's got a good voice, but more than that, he's got a personality on stage that excites the crowd. And then Remus ... I think people underestimate him. They make the odds, try to guess who's going to win, and because he's not flashy like Gred & Forge or a little teen heartthrob like Cedric ... they don't realise just how well he'll connect with his audience. But everything he sings is so full of emotion. And you can tell that even he's surprised by how good he is and how well he's doing. The humility makes him charming.
The first week of live finals, Remus and Sirius shared a car to the auditorium early that morning so there would be time for sound-checks and last-minute rehearsals.
"Are you nervous?"
Remus shook his head. "It's too surreal to make me nervous. This is obviously happening to someone else. This isn't real."
"At some point, you're going to realise what you've gotten yourself into," Sirius said, smiling and patting Remus's thigh. "When you do, I'll be there to remind you to breathe."
The Chasers went home that week. The next week it was Viktor, who was sorely missed by Fred and George if only because his accent had been an endless source of entertainment. Then Fleur, despite the fact that she had one of the better voices in the competition. Tonks said the people at home could probably sense the 'bitch' vibe through their televisions. Remus found Fleur to be blunt, occasionally insensitive, and prissy, but didn't care to speak poorly of her once she left.
There was an empty bedroom in the house now. Tonks had been using the room The Chasers had shared to escape Fleur, but now that she was gone as well, Tonks was back in her old room and the fifth bedroom stayed empty. It occurred to Remus that Sirius might like to use it to have a bit more privacy, but Sirius didn't move and Remus didn't suggest that he ought to.
Contestants should know that they can't hide anything. In the end, the skeletons always come out of the closet. So to speak.
The fact that we're even discussing this is ridiculous. He's among the best singers on the show -- he blows kids half his age out of the water. And he's hands-down the best performer. Someone is trying to make a few pounds off of his success and the best thing to do is ignore that person and focus on what's really important -- Sirius is one of most talented competitors on the show. Nothing else should matter.
Don't be silly. Much as you might want everyone to ignore this, it's hardly that simple. People love to talk about a good sex scandal, but the real question is whether or not they'll vote for him now that they know...
"Did you see--"
"I didn't see it. My friend James called and told me about it, though."
Remus looked down at the newspaper he was holding and then dropped it in the rubbish bin. "That sort of tabloid will publish anything. It's the sort of publication Rita Skeeter used to work for. It's all about causing a sensation."
Sirius's smile was weaker than usual. "It's all true. Most of it, anyway. I'm gay. I did sleep with that Evan Rosier bloke -- knew it was a bad idea at the time. Did it anyway. Complete tosser then, and he still is. James didn't tell me exactly what Rosier said, but I think the other stuff, the drugs or ... whatever he told them -- that was probably a bit of an exaggeration. But it makes for a good story, and there's no flat out denying it."
"You're too good. You'll win anyway."
At that, Sirius's smile brightened a little and, if it hadn't been Sirius, Remus might have accused him of blushing a little. "We'll see." Then he stiffened his shoulders a little. "I won't go out without a fight. I can promise you that."
"Good. So ... what are you going to do?"
He grinned. "Sing Elton John."
Sirius sang "Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting)" the week the article was published. He was in the bottom two for the first time. Cedric went home.
Despite having four contestants left in the finals, The Wiz-Factor is now essentially a two horse race. Sirius Black, already a favourite to win after a spectacular audition and he cemented his image as a rocker early on in the competition with a brilliant cover of Jon Bon Jovi's "Blaze of Glory" and proved his singing ability with "Try a Little Tenderness". The former pub singer appeared in the bottom two after accusations of homosexuality and past drug use appeared in several tabloids, but quickly bounced back over the next weeks.
Sirius's biggest competition has, surprisingly, has come from within his own category. Shy schoolteacher Remus Lupin was an unusual choice to advance to the live finals, but understated and moving renditions of The Beatles' "Yesterday" and Michael Jackson's "Ben" in the third and fourth weeks brought him praise from all four judges and made him a real contender for the big prize.
Gred & Forge were great fun, with their pyrotechnic stage shows and outrageous signature red and gold suits. They were also universally acknowledged to be two of the worst singers in the history of television and finally left with a (literal) bang in the fifth week of the live shows.
And then there were three. The judges all praised Tonks's rendition of "Papa Don't Preach", but in the sixth week, she was sent home.
The house seemed quiet without any of the younger contestants, but after all those weeks, Remus didn't mind a little peace and quiet. There was one thing that was bothering him, though.
"There are four other bedrooms. Isn't it sort of silly that we're still sharing?"
"Do you want me to move to another room?" Sirius asked.
"Well ... no. Not necessarily. I didn't mean..."
"Do you want to move to another room?"
"I've already gotten used to your snoring, your tendency to keep a light on so you can read until ungodly hours of the night. Your sock folding, which is, frankly, ridiculous. They're socks."
Remus grinned. "Prat. I don't fold. I roll. And I'll bet you've never folded a piece of clothing in your life."
"I might've once." Sirius laughed. "The point is that there is no point in one of us moving now. We've got -- what? -- five days left in this house? And then one of us wins and one of us loses, and who knows what'll happen to us from there, but we've come this far together. Might as well stick it out."
Remus was sort of like a dad to the rest of us in the house, and Sirius was more like an uncle or a big brother. I think it was great having the two of them who were both a good bit older than the rest of us, especially with Fred and George running about causing trouble. Remus has that sixth 'teacher-sense', so he could tell what sort of mischief they were going to get into before they'd even finished plotting it. And Sirius was great to have around because he knows so much about music and performing. I feel like I learned a lot by watching him, and listening to him, and talking to him. The two of them have been roommates in the house since we started the show, and they seem like they've become really close friends. They're an odd couple, but they get on like a house on fire.
In the middle of the finale, it finally hit Remus full force, just like Sirius said it eventually would. It hit him that somewhere along the way, he had signed on to be a popstar, and dear god, he was not a popstar.
"Jesus, what if I win..."
Sirius took his hand. "Then you'll be brilliant. I'll be the first one to buy your record."
"But you want this... You want this so much more than I do..."
"Sirius, Remus, we're about to announce the winner." A production assistant gestured toward the stage. "You're on."
They walked out on the stage, tightly clutching hands. The lights had never seemed so blinding.
"The winner of The Wiz-Factor is..."
And then the announcer didn't say Remus's name.
And Remus felt a surge of relief and Sirius's arms around him, pulling him in for a jubilant hug, and Sirius whispered "fuck live television" into his ear and kissed him. On the lips. In front of the cameras. In front of millions of people.
And all Remus could think was, I won!