Horrible. This was horrible. They hadn’t been there twenty minutes and Remus best friend had been stolen away and, besides Peter the birthday boy, he didn’t know anyone else present.
He didn’t want to be there. However, James had convinced him and it would make Peter happy. But now James had abandoned him, had disappeared with his new friend.
Remus cringed at himself, even his thoughts sounded bitter. But he was not bitter. He was… left alone in an uncomfortable situation… and also a little bitter. He felt he had the right to be a little bitter.
The situation was not improved by the fact that the one doing the friend-stealing had done it so perfectly or that he and James seemed to be meant for each other. They fit together like a puzzle. It had been both amazing and frightening to behold.
Now he could see them on the other side of the room, surrounded by people they didn’t seem to notice, grinning at each other and discussing something with great enthusiasm. He could see something in James’ eyes that he had learnt to dread. It was the look that meant he had a plan. And those plans often ended up getting them into trouble, because of course he would always drag Remus with him down. But not this time. This time he had a more willing companion. Maybe it was for the best.
And Peter, where was he? He was, in honor of being the birthday boy and host, perfectly busy getting smashed.
So Remus was awkwardly stuck in a couch, trying to blend in. The music, the people, the heat, the smell. It was already getting to his head. He figured he should get hold of Peter for a while and then get the hell out of there.
However, that proved harder than he thought. Peter’s attention was in high demand, and he was enjoying it just as much as he should. Watching his friends enjoying themselves was at least something.
Something. Not enough. He would leave.
But James had the keys.
That had seemed like a sensible idea at the time. Only bringing one set of keys. Now? Not so much.
So he would go and get the keys from James. He would go up to James, James and his friend with the hair. Hair that had no business being so perfect when it belonged to someone like him.
Yeah, no. He would not do that.
He would stay put, and do what he always did. Which was as little as possible.
Sadly, that didn’t last long, because the next time he looked up James was on his way over, with company.
The two were not very similar, except for the dark hair. But they did have the exact same twinkle in their eyes, the same air of being perfectly at ease and the same confidence in their movements.
“Moony, my Moony! Why the sour face?”
He didn’t mean to glare at James, but he did anyway. James’ good mood was mocking him. An hour had passed, he felt he could leave without seeming too rude.
“Can I have your key?” He hated the harshness in his voice, but he couldn’t keep it out. James’ smile faltered and his brow furrowed. Remus knew what was coming and he didn’t much care for it right now. “My head is killing me, man.”
James did not look pleased. But he did fish his keys out of a pocket and hand them to Remus.
“You talked to Pete, right? Re-“
“Yeah, I did. See you at home.”
On his way home he tried really hard to forget the disappointment in James’ face. Or the cold verdict on his friends. Sadly that verdict came from a face that was hard to forget.
“Moony, I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be. It’s okay.”
“No it’s not. You’re angry, you have The Look.”
“Prongs, I swear, I’m not angry. I’m just tired. And this speech is stressing me out.” Remus threw down his pen and took up the cup of tea his roommate had discreetly bribed him with. James was sitting opposite him and Remus meant it. He was not angry. “So are you going to gush over your new boyfriend before you combust or not?”
James face lit up with that excited puppy look.
“Sirius! I can’t believe I’ve never talked to him before, it’s like I’ve wasted twenty years of my life! You know, he studies history too-” Remus knew. “-but like, he started a year after us because he took a gap year and worked in a pet store. A pet store, Remus. And the best part, can you guess?”
Remus raised an eyebrow.
“He knows Lily Evans!” James was practically bouncing in his chair. Remus sighed.
“I don’t even want to know how that came up.”
“He’s watching her hamster.”
“Her hamster. She’s away, and they’re neighbours, and he’s watching her hamster.”
“That’s wonderful, Prongs. You’re practically dating her already.”
“Oh, cut the sarcasm. This is an opportunity, and I’m not going to miss it!”
“Does this mean you’re going to start hanging around my school again?”
“Yes! Uh, I mean, maybe?”
Remus reached over and patted James’ shoulder.
“Maybe Sirius can help give you advice on how to do this marvelous thing known as Talking to Girls… Or more like: Talking to the Girl That Is Lily Evans.”
“You think so?”
“Absolutely. Now, can you let me get back to my speech?”
“Sure, I’m taking Cookie for a run.”
Cookie was James’ dog. She was big, she spread black hair on everything in the apartment, and she had on several occasions eaten books belonging to Remus. She never ate anything belonging to James. Remus was convinced this was not a coincidence.
They left and Remus could focus on his tea and his stupid speech on English folklore.
Sirius handed over Spock the hamster to Lily Evans two days after he’d met James Potter. He did this before going to library, where he spent an hour drawing hamsters on the edges of his notes. When sufficiently bored with this he started watching people. He was sitting on the second floor and had a great view.
At one of the closer first floor tables he found a familiar face. With a laptop and a notebook and a pile of books James’ friends sat, chewing on a pen.
He could not remember the name, but he did recognize the light brown curls… and the three very distinct scars running down the left side of his face. Kind of hard to forget those.
Sirius watched him have a staring contest with his laptop screen for a while.
When two girls came up to his table he shut the laptop in defeat. Sirius could not hear what they were saying, they kept well within the library’s sound limit, but it was evident that they were studying. More precisely, that Scar-boy was helping them with studying. Interesting.
He was meeting up with the James today, and a glance at his phone told him he should leave. So he gathered up his things and did.
James Potter could read his mind. James Potter was magical.
There was no other explanation. Because this was the second time they met, and it felt like they’d know each other for years. It felt like there was a little more color in the world now. Because his world had James Potter in it.
“So… Lily?” They were sitting on the library stairs. The sun was shining. It was lovely.
“Yeah, Lily”, James sighed.
“Why? I mean sure, she’s nice and all, but…”
“Nice? She’s perfect! She’s beautiful and amazing and smart and wonderful and her hair is so pretty and her eyes, man her eyes!”
“Eloquent, very poetic.”
“But she just ignores me, she’s been ignoring me for years. And Moony just rolls his eyes at me whenever I mention her.”
“Ah, my roommate, he was at Peter’s party?”
“Well she likes to talk about music and books, or well, that’s what I’ve been talking to her about.”
“Books? Like what kind of books? And I am so bad at books; it’s a constant complaint of Moony’s.”
“Well, you gotta talk to her about something.”
“Awe, I had hoped I could get by on my good looks alone.”
“It’s a shame, really”, Sirius said, shaking his head. He heard the big doors behind them open, saw James turn his head and smile.
“Moony! Imagine seeing you here, it must be fate, bringing us together!”
Scar-boy walked past James, ruffling his hair in passing.
“A true miracle”, he said dryly.
Sirius looked up at him, met his eyes for a moment, there was no warmth in them.
“Sirius, this is Remus, he is going to be a history professor.” James smiled, apparently not minding the glare he got from sca- Remus.
Remus. Remus hair was golden in the autumn sun. It went very well with his autumn colored clothes. Sirius wondered if he did it on purpose. He looked down at him again. Sirius smiled. Remus frowned. Very interesting.
“Are you going home?” James asked. Remus shook his head.
“No, I need to talk to Lovegood about Thursday first.”
“Alright, see you later.”
Remus nodded and left, and Sirius saw James’ smile die.
“Wanna go get coffee?”
Sirius learnt that James was a football coach, junior league, and a personal trainer. He had a dog named Cookie. He lived a 10 min walk from the University. And they liked all the same movies, all the same music, and foremost, since it was what had brought them together, the same football team.
After going through these subjects they ended up at Lily Evans again. James did not have a bad word to say about her, he was well and truly gone. Sirius almost envied him. Not the pining, but the way just her name made his face go all dreamy.
“Ah, this has been great! But I guess I should head home and check on Remus. He’s been a bit strange lately.” James caught Sirius eyes. “He’s actually very nice.” So he had picked up on that. “He gets a bit… down sometimes. But he has stayed my friend for ten years so I am sure you’ll get along.”
“Or maybe he thinks you are enough?”
“Hmm, nah, I don’t think so, who couldn’t use more people like us in their life? Anyway, talk to you later.”
“Yeah, that’s true. Have a lovely day, James.”
“Same to you! Bye, Sirius.”
Sirius had a weird feeling settling in his stomach. A mix of excitement and dread. Like he had had a little too much good luck lately, and it would surely turn around. And when it did it would turn all at once.
He shook the hair out of his eyes and ignored it. If something bad was going to happen he would worry about it when the time came.
“Are you alright?”
Remus raised his head. James was patting Cookie’s head and looking at him with his worried expression… again.
“Are you sure, you seem a bit… out of sorts?”
“It’s fine, you know I just changed my meds, and they’re making me a bit twitchy.”
“So this is not about me ditching you at Peter’s party? About Sirius?”
“It just feels like you… don’t approve of him?” James and Cookie had matching expressions. Remus couldn’t look at either of them.
“It’s just.” He made a vague gesture with his hands. “It’s Sirius Black.”
“Yeah- wait how did you know?” James pushed his glasses up, head tilting to the side. Remus sighed.
“As stated, it’s Sirius Black, the only one who could have avoided knowledge of who he is would be someone busy thinking about, oh say, a certain redhead.”
“And he’s just so over the top. Like he thinks he’s better than everyone else just because he’s him.”
“… that’s what Lily said to me last time I met her…” Remus looked at James, James was pouting.
“He’s worse than you.”
“I think you’re being a bit judgmental”, James said. He was right, but Remus didn’t feel like admitting it right now.
“Whatever, I’m sure he’s lovely.”
He is. He is charming and energetic. He smiles a lot and laughs too loud. He winks at people. Remus hates it. Because he catches his smiles dying as soon as people turn from him, sees him roll his eyes when he thinks no one’s watching.
It’s a façade. It’s a lie. It’s like he’s always trying to make people like him. And it works. And it’s infuriating.
But he seems more true, more himself, with James and Remus has to stand it. James is happy and Remus, Remus avoids them as much as possible.
Sirius does it to him too, though. Greets him with smiles and makes vain jokes and are all sorts of friendly. It would probably have been nice if it didn’t feel like he was being made fun of. He would probably not mind if it had been real.
Becoming friends with James was one of the best things to ever happen to Sirius. There was no denying that. James was all sunshine and rainbows. James was an endless pool of conversations and jokes. No moment was wasted with him. It was exciting, it was fun and easy and comfortable.
What was not sunshine and rainbows was Remus.
Remus did not like him. Not at all.
Remus looked at him like he had the plague. Remus rolled his eyes at him. Remus communicated with sarcasm and snide remarks.
Sirius had tried at least five different approaches. All had failed. Actually it had probably made it worse. He was not going to give up though. Because Remus was James’ friend and James wanted them to get along, and so did Sirius.
He was once again at his look-out place in the library. Watching Remus study and trying to not feel weird about it. But it was something soothing about the scene. Not having Remus glare and sneer at him made it much easier to appreciate the small things, like how he muttered curses at his books sometimes, or the way he kept pulling at the sleeves of whatever he was wearing, or the curl of that lock of hair that he kept brushing out of his eyes.
Sirius sighed and sank deeper into his chair. It was not an ideal situation. It was awfully distracting. And stupid. And potentially hazardous. So there was no way he could leave it alone.
He could make Remus like him. Of course he could. He was Sirius Black. Making people like him was his specialty.