Moony supposed they all had some sort of thing for Prongs, when you got right down to it. All right, so maybe he was something of an arrogant prat, and a beastly showoff, but he was a bloody sexy arrogant prat / beastly showoff. And he had this, well, whole confidence about him that really drew everyone in. Wormtail practically worshiped the bloke, in a rather uncouth and blatantly obvious fashion.
Padfoot's obsession with Prongs was much subtler. But it still showed itself--the faint gleam in his eyes when he looked at Prongs, the fits of "boredom" to attract Prongs' attention, the seemingly lazy and almost unconscious snubbing of that dratted Evans bird.
All right, so maybe it wouldn't have been so blindingly clear that Padfoot was obsessed with Prongs if Moony hadn't been so obsessed with Padfoot.
Which wasn't to say that Moony had never had a thing for Prongs himself--the prat oozed sex appeal, and sure, Moony had wanked off to bizarre fantasies about him a couple of times over the years. He was only human, after all.
Well, maybe not entirely human, but that was besides the point.
The point being that Moony had slightly more of a thing for Padfoot than for Prongs. Padfoot was even more impulsive than Prongs, if that was possible. Cleverer. Rasher. And more arrogant.
Moony supposed he shouldn't be surprised to have inexplicably fallen for his exact opposite. But it didn't matter, because Padfoot had a thing for Prongs, not him. And anyway, Moony was already a werewolf, and he really didn't need to make life any more difficult for himself by coming out as a bloody bugger, too.
Lupin supposed they'd all had some sort of thing for Potter, at some point or another. But Potter wasn't coming back. Some people seemed to have trouble accepting that fact.
"Sirius," he said quietly from the kitchen table, watching Black pace maniacally around the room, "Harry's not his father."
"I know that," Black barked at him, stopping his pacing abruptly to give Lupin a frosty glare. "I should think he's made that fairly clear." He gestured to the fireplace, which still gave off petulant sparks of green-tinged flame.
Lupin nodded, eyeing his friend warily. "I mean," he said carefully, "that you shouldn't expect--"
"I shouldn't expect what? Oh, I'll tell you what I shouldn't expect, I shouldn't expect my godson to poke his head through fire and magic to ask questions about how horrible a person his father was--"
"Well, really, Sirius, sooner or later he'd have realized that his parents weren't saints," Lupin said, trying to keep the mild irritation out of his voice. "Let's face it, James was an arrogant prat of a fifth-year."
The muscles in Black's jaw clenched and loosened. "That's not how I want to remember him."
Lupin massaged his left temple lightly, closing his eyes to the frustration that coursed through Black's entire body. "Yes, but at least we are fortunate enough to possess a full range of memories to choose from. Harry is not."
Black didn't answer. He started pacing again instead. After a few minutes of silence (broken only by the steady stomping of Black's feet around and around the room), he muttered, "That arsehole Snape had better start teaching Harry Occlumency again, or I'll--"
"Or you'll what?" Lupin demanded sharply. "Punch his sniveling little face in? Run off to Hogwarts and--"
"You always have to get your piece in, don't you?" Black growled. "You and your quiet logic and your caution and your--"
"Actually, I don't get 'my piece in' nearly often enough, or you and James might not have spent so many evenings in detention--"
"Sure, bring those days up again, you know we'd have done everything exactly the same if we could go back--"
"But because your godson isn't willing to risk letting you get yourself killed for him--"
"If that Snape won't teach him properly--"
"Maybe it's as much Harry's fault as Snape's, you always--"
"Don't you dare insult my godson!"
They were leaning across the table at each other, almost shouting. Black's eyes crackled with fire and anger and...what?
Lupin's voice was scarcely more than a hiss. "Harry is not your Prongs, Sirius."
Without another word, Black turned on his heel and stalked out of the kitchen.
After a moment, Lupin cursed and went after him. Black was in the dimly-lit front hall, scrabbling impatiently through a closet for his jacket. "You can't leave, you know," Lupin said quietly.
"Yes, I bloody well can," Black snapped. "If they've been recognizing Snuffles, then I just won't shift."
"That's among the stupidest things I've ever heard," Lupin said calmly. "And when you've taught Defense Against the Dark Arts to a bunch of Slytherin third-years, you think you've heard them all. They'll recognize you, you idiot."
Black's grip on the closet's doorknob tightened; he didn't turn. "You don't know what it's like--"
"--to feel completely useless?" Lupin took a step forward, then stopped himself. "I was there, remember? Fourteen years ago?"
Black whirled around savagely. "Don't talk about that night."
"To find out that James and Lily were dead, and Wormtail was God-knows-where, and you were in Azkaban." Lupin swallowed hard, looking away from Black's bright face in the gloom of the hallway. "And I was a bloody werewolf, and I couldn't do a damned thing. Not a damned thing."
There was an awkward pause. "Yeah," Black finally said bleakly. "I suppose."
The silence hung heavily between them. Lupin could've cut it with a knife. Or some cliche like that. The need to speak pressed upon him as a clock ticked faintly somewhere down the hall. To say something. Anything.
A portrait snored.
"I'm sorry," Lupin muttered. "I'm sorry that Harry's not James and I'm not James and nothing will ever bring him back."
"No," Black agreed. "Nothing will." And, out of the blue and with no warning whatsoever, he took a step closer to Lupin and kissed him.
After a few startled seconds (years?), Lupin gently pushed him away. "We're too old for this sort of thing, Sirius."
"That," Black said, "is the stupidest thing I've ever heard. Besides, I lied when I said there was nothing I'd change if I could go back."
The dark hallway seemed to flicker between them. Lupin hesitated. He reached back for the right memories of Padfoot, examined them through a wiser and more critical lens, and was forced to concede that perhaps some things do get better with age. "Oh, go back, then."
"Filth! Vermin! My ill-favored son, consorting with this disgusting lowlife half-breed--!"
They kissed anyway. In the poorly-lit, ugly hallway, with the portrait screeching behind them and Lord Voldemort returned and Harry not studying Occlumency and the world gone dark and mad and forbidding, they kissed.
Lupin supposed he shouldn't be surprised by anything Black did anymore.
Remus supposed they'd all had some sort of thing for James, but he was gone now. He was never coming back.
Neither was Sirius. But Remus wasn't going to think about him right now.
He imagined the Hogwarts Express would be just visible from the platform, cheerfully hugging its way down the tracks into the station, just like it had back when Remus was still a student. He supposed he ought to be grateful that some things in life always remained the same, but it was a hollow sort of appreciation.
Still, Harry was on that train, and that was something, wasn't it? Even though he wasn't his father, or even his godfather. He wasn't Prongs or Padfoot. But he had pieces of them, and something more of his own. He was something. And something would always be better than nothing.
Remus's joints creaked as he stood to join Moody and the others. He was getting older. Too old for this.
Somewhere on the platform, Harry was getting off the train, and from some dusty place deep within himself, Remus pulled out a smile. It didn't fit quite right, but it was something. It was waiting for Harry when he emerged from the barrier between platforms nine and ten. And maybe part of the dullness in Remus's eyes was reflected in the boy's. But (as evidenced by the other children flanking him, Ron and Hermione and the others who'd followed him into--that place) Harry wasn't truly alone. Not yet.
Remus supposed he shouldn't be surprised to be the last man standing. He'd always had more sense than the other three. Whatever that counted for, these days. His smile was slipping, so he adjusted it and didn't think about Sirius. Not right now. As long as he could keep all that past bottled up--well, it would be something, at least.