At first, Remus doesn’t understand it; ‘it’ being a broad term, in actuality, when the scale of the problem is so preposterously large, but he’s decided to work towards a solution to the problem as a whole, rather than overwhelm himself with the convoluted branches that stem from the main issue at hand. That issue, of course, being Sirius.
Sirius is a trend setter. Sirius is a trend setter that doesn’t seem to notice it, or care, or make any comment towards the fact that he wore his hair in a ponytail last week and now half the school have styled their hair in exactly the same way – those stupid dangly bits in front of his eyes included. Those stupid dangly bits that just make you look into his eyes, and force you into taking note of how those dark strands of hair frame his flawlessly structured face and accentuate just how long his bloody eyelashes are.
It really should irritate Sirius more, Remus decides, because, whilst ignorance is bliss, Sirius’ complete obliviousness to the situation is almost as infuriating as that group of third year Hufflepuffs who mail-ordered combat boots last week and who have been tucking their not-quite-as-skinny-as-Sirius’ trousers into them ever since, stomping around the corridors all day as if they’d ever be able to demand as much attention as their oh-so fashionable idol. Remus had attempted to take points away, under the pretence of ‘blatant disregard of the uniform code,’ but his horridly oversized, maroon jumper was hardly regulation either, and his own exasperated admiration of Sirius’ style, and body, and general existence, he sighs, make him hypocrite enough.
The final straw is when Remus observes Regulus, stern-faced and perpetually insistent on appearing uninterested in his older brother’s frivolities, sitting in the library with his tie switched round the other way, the slim slip of fabric above his shirt in place of the thick. This tie charade being Sirius’ latest addition of his ‘subtle disruption’ scheme; he’d been given a firm warning, after charming the entirety of Ravenclaw house to talk in rhyme for 48 hours, that one more incident would result in the meeting of his parents and his Head of House – a meeting he’d be forced to attend. Taking everything in his stride, as he was prone to do, Sirius concluded that the only option was to work smaller, bend the rules subtly in ways that have such a little impact McGonagall would hardly notice. Apparently, this includes making everything skinnier: skinnier tie, skinnier trousers, skinnier (and curse Merlin, what kind of Hell is Remus living in if this is acceptable school attire) waistcoats, and within a month Sirius' steps seem to pave their own catwalk everywhere he goes.
He’s excruciatingly beautiful, and it’s painfully unfair.
“Doesn’t it bother you?” Remus asks, after storming through the portrait hall, past a collection of Gryffindors comparing semi-permanent black hair potions, and finally into the sixth year male bathrooms adjacent to their room. Sirius is leaning over one of the counters, peering into the mirror as he applies the finishing touches to some eyeliner, and Remus is looking firmly away – staring, enchanted, by a spec of dirt on the shower tiles that he’s itching to scratch off, if only to give his hands something to do that isn’t grabbing Sirius Black’s face within his palms and demanding some compensation for this entire ordeal. It’s doing frightful things for Remus’ sleep pattern, not to mention his day-to-day interactions with the marauders; the idea of wearing skinny trousers in the presence of Black is, without a doubt, physically agonizing.
“Vague questions from dorky werewolves?” Sirius hums, squinting at his own reflection studiously before turning his gaze to meet Remus’ in the mirror, smirking slightly in that tempting ‘ why don’t you wipe this look off my face’ way, “I’ve got used to it over the years, mate.”
In a fit of frustration, Remus flaps the sleeves of his jumper and then slaps his hands against his own cheeks, dragging the skin down, groaning outwardly. “You don’t even notice it, do you?” he snaps, loosely pointing towards the area of the door to signify that this isn’t just about him – it isn’t, really – it’s about the entire school, the entire world even; “you don’t even realise that everyone in the school has started rolling their sleeves up just because you roll your sodding sleeves up!”
“I think, Remus, Moony, dear,” Sirius says, swaggering forward like planet Earth is his kingdom and Remus Lupin is a vulnerable ant trying to scream his crown off his perfectly proportioned head, “that everyone’s rolling their sleeves up because it’s 25° outside and they don’t want to faint. Are you okay?”
And there it is, the switch from careless know-it-all Black to concerned and wonderful Sirius, a step away from playful Padfoot who somehow knows how to calm every nerve he climbed onto minutes before. The idea, Remus muses, when Sirius peers at him a little more carefully, that people exist, that he has acquaintances and friends and even strangers who pass him on the street, that don’t fall in love with Sirius Black every time he runs those noble fingers through that flamboyantly long hair, is so far-fetched that it’s almost impossible. It’s no wonder, he laments, that so many people are desperate to emulate him in as many ways as possible, when he plays the part of a picture-perfect human being so well.
But they don’t know the truth, Remus knows; they don’t know that Sirius has fits of rage that send him into cupboards, smashing and sobbing and breaking down in his own confined space. He excludes himself as punishment, forces himself to be angry at himself and not the people Remus and James and Peter know don’t deserve to cause him this grief to begin with – his family, or excuse for one at least, that cause Sirius to sometimes shiver under his duvet in moments of silence, and shrink away when an owl knocks at their window with a letter in hand. They don’t know, these people who imitate his every move, that Sirius’ eyes have darkened with wisdom and fear and empathy, where once there was the light, mischievous glint of a rebel without a cause.
They don’t know, can’t comprehend, Remus thinks, that nobody can replicate the great Sirius Black, however many boots they buy or records they listen to. Sirius is a pivotal point in Hogwart’s, in Remus’ life, and though the universe is drawn towards him he’ll always be the star that shines so unashamedly brighter than all the rest.
And that’s what infuriates Remus after all.
“I’m-” Remus stops himself before he says ‘fine,’ because he is fine, really, but that’s not quite enough to articulate the epiphany he’s just been subject to, “I’m angry,” he decides, “of all the people copying your every move. It’s superficial, not to mention that it disregards the fact that no amount of Sleekeazy will make their hair look as good as yours. You’re the king, you know, of independence – what with your flat, and your running away, and that bloody motorcycle you’re fixing up – and it’s as if they’re selfishly taking all those achievements away, it’s like they’re copying your individuality, which incidentally voids the entire point, and now you’re wearing eyeliner as if your eyes aren’t prominent enough already, and I can’t stop talking, or looking at them, and I wish I could because you probably think I’m going mad right about now, and I think I might be too-”
Sirius, apparently, during Remus’ rare moment of emotionally-fuelled verbal vomit, had moved forward, and the tip of his much sharper, shiny brown laced shoes (and that’s why Caradoc Dearborn had been researching leather-changing spells) are almost touching Remus’ own scruffy boots. There’s a hand on his face, too, Remus realises, at the same moment he realises that he’d been leaning into it through some sort of embarrassing instinct.
“I don’t care that people wear what I wear,” Sirius declares simply, finally, and continues on before Remus can elaborate upon his squeak of protest, “because, one, they don’t look half as good as me and, two, I couldn’t give two fucks what other people are doing as long as I’m happy. In all honesty, there is only one person I care about wearing tight-fitting trousers, and that person wouldn’t touch a pair in a million years, dare he forsake those chocolate stained monstrosities, so I prefer not to think about it at all.”
It takes a moment or two to for that particular piece of information to sink in, and then Remus says “who-” but is cut off by a nose nudging against his, and warm breath against his mouth. Their lips aren’t actually touching, and Remus gets the feeling that Sirius is asking for permission, waiting patiently for Remus to do his own thing – like he waited for Remus to reveal his lycanthropy even though he’d known for six months, or when he sat silently with Remus for forty-five whilst Remus gained the confidence to admit that he ‘possibly-likes-boys-and-not-girls-so-please-stop-sending-me-on-double-dates-with-your-girlfriend’s-friends.’ “Oh,” Remus says, and then leans forward.
The kiss is a kiss, and Remus doesn’t know if it’s a good kiss or a bad kiss but, from the way Sirius’ upper lip pushes at his, and from the gentle asking touch of tongue that makes Remus tremble with something akin to anticipation, he knows that it’s the only thing that he ever wants to do. His fingers are finally able to course their way through every strand of Sirius’ hair, and the grip Sirius has on Remus’ waist, thumbs rubbing circles against his shirt, suggests that he doesn’t want to let go either and that – that is almost too good to make sense of. It makes Remus want to jump, or cry, but instead he drags Sirius closer, and Sirius laughs quietly like he can't believe it and crowds into Remus until Remus is against the wall, gasping sharply at the stark contrast of the freezing temperature of the tiles behind him and the burning heat of the boy in front of him, on top of him. “They can copy anything they want-” Sirius pants, completely wrecked, forehead resting against Remus’ like he can’t be more than a millimetre away, “they can have my boots if they bloody well want, certificate of authentication and all-” he kisses Remus again, slower now, “they can’t have you, can they? And that’s all I give a shit about.”
And that’s all Remus needs to know, really, because Sirius is a trend setter. Sirius is a trend setter that doesn’t seem to notice it, or care, or make any comment towards that fact. But he is aware, apparently, and he’s still one of a kind, and he still wants Remus Lupin, who’s not quite so angry about it all anymore.