and it don't take no sherlock holmes
to see it's a little different around here
-arctic monkeys, a certain romance
Sirius is making a list.
The list is entitled "Why I deeply suspect I drank too much firewhisky last night, and quite possibly was hit by an Obliviating spell", and it is a list of all the things in his life that made perfect sense sometime previous to James's Stag (heh, double entendre, what) Party last night but no longer make any sense whatsoever.
The first item on the list is:
1. I am making a list.
This is well worth pondering, Sirius feels, because he honestly cannot recall any previous instances in his entire life wherein he felt compelled to make a list. Or notes of any sort. Or, well, use a quill for reasons other than (a) sitting an exam or (b) spelling it to explode in someone's (preferably a Slytherin's or possibly Remus's) face.
And yet Sirius is making a list.
He frowns at the parchment as though it might reveal to him why he is making this sodding list, and then rereads the title of his list and remembers. Or rather doesn't, but that's the whole point, which is that something happened last night, something positively monumental, something far far far more important than it merely being James's last night as an unattached man.
Quite possibly there were Death Eaters involved, which would nicely explain the theoretical Obliviation, except Sirius most clearly isn't dead (he prods his stomach a few times to be sure, but no, he's definitely hungry and would definitely be eating toast with jam if there was anything in his cupboard resembling either toast or jam or really anything other than tinned sardines, and he doesn't think he would be so very hungry if he were dead), and that probably means no Dark Lord involvement. Which is fortunate, certainly, he's not complaining about that, and he supposes it narrows down the field of Things What Happened Last Night Other Than James Losing His Freedom Forever somewhat, but still doesn't really leave him with the slightest notion of what actually happened.
He proceeds with the list.
2. I smell funny.
See, now, Sirius supposes that what with the whole dog thing, he frequently encounters strange and exciting new smells, and again what with the whole dog thing, frequently becomes covered in strange and exciting new smells (because, honestly, what is the purpose of that really interesting-smelling pile of garbage if not to roll oneself about in it? thinks Padfoot, and by the time he comes back to his [human] senses it's generally a bit late to prevent the garbage-rolling, and he must therefore suffer the consequences and smelliness until he can find a functioning bath). So smelling funny is not an entirely unusual state of being for Sirius.
But this is not a bad smell, or a firewhisky-sodden smell (at least not the smell on Sirius's skin; he isn't about to place bets on his breath). It's just...funny. Odd. Not Sirius-y. Very tricksy and difficult to identify. And particularly aggravating because he really genuinely thinks he recognizes this smell, but can't for the life of him place it.
3. Lily slapped me this morning.
Again, not necessarily all that unusual in the grander scheme of things, but she usually doesn't go through the trouble of actually Apparating into Sirius's bedroom, hauling him out of bed by the scruff of his neck, and slapping him full in the face before he has a chance to register more than red hair. And on the morning of her wedding, no less. It's not as though Sirius has missed the wedding (he checked the clock in a bewildered manner after the Lily-demon Disapparated pretty much immediately following the slapping thing) because the wedding isn't until four this afternoon and it's only two now (and had been precisely half eleven when Lily slapped him), and actually Sirius really ought to clean himself up and get the hell over to the Potters' estate but at the moment he's too busy fretting over his list. Because high-tempered as Lily may be, she generally doesn't just slap people for no reason. Unless it's That Time Of The Month, but Sirius is pretty sure Lily is smarter than to schedule her own bloody wedding for That Time Of The Month.
Maybe he let James get away with something really, phenomenally, outrageously stupid last night. But then, really, Lily ought to be slapping James. Then again, Lily likes blaming James's most dastardly faults on Sirius's poor influence, so it might swing right back around.
Number four on the list is no longer
Peter is singularly unhelpful, because on reflection, that really is no surprise at all, and in fact Peter never answers the Floo these days, and anyway generally misses out on all the crucial firewhisky-soaked possibly-Obliviated moments of Sirius's life so Sirius is sort of wondering why he even bothered trying.
Which leads him to, most importantly:
4. Remus is NOT HERE.
This is very, very important, because Remus lives in Sirius's bloody flat, has been living there since five months after they left Hogwarts when Sirius realized that Remus (a) couldn't hold down a job for more than three weeks, (b) might not be remembering to eat in between failing-at-jobs, and (c) was a useless tosser but still didn't deserve to die a lonely death of starvation and silver-poisoning and be dumped unceremoniously into the Thames and never be seen again. So Sirius more or less forced Remus to take up residence in the little room in Sirius's flat (which might have been a study or might have been a closet) that Sirius had been inadvertently growing cobwebs in apparently, but Remus got it all sorted and it looks sort of habitable in there now, which in all honesty is more than can be said for the clothing-and-rubbish-strewn wasteland that is Sirius's bedroom. But to come to the point, Remus has been living here for quite some time now and he is never not here in the morning when Sirius needs him to clarify The Mystery Of What The Fuck Happened Last Night.
But Remus is not here now.
Moreover, Remus's room does not look as though it was inhabited at all last night. There is a subtle but definite difference between (a) a bed that has been neatly made up in the morning by a useless tosser who thinks Cleanliness Is A Sign Of Godliness and (b) a bed that has not been slept in at all, and Remus's bed most assuredly falls into the latter category.
Remus's bed never falls into the latter category. Well, except when it's Remus's That Time Of The Month, which it most certainly isn't now.
So Remus is not only Not Here now, but he apparently was Not Here all last night.
And that means Remus either is dead in a gutter somewhere, victim of the Death Eaters that apparently did not find Sirius, or it means that last night, at James's Stag Party, Remus pulled.
Frankly, Sirius thinks the first option is by far the more likely of the two, and he's seriously considering sending out a search party. Or would be, if he didn't have a wedding to be Best Man at in less than two hours now.
All in all, something is very, definitively, horribly, unsettlingly different today, and it is just not on.
After precisely four minutes and twenty-eight seconds at the Potters' country home, Sirius is more than ready to decide that he will never get married. Sirius despises weddings. They're stiff and proper and well-planned and involve parents and great-aunts and cousins' screaming children and lots of frills and white lace and flower arrangements, and in general are about as close to the absolute antithesis of sex as earthly possible. Since the whole purpose of a wedding, really, is to fully legalize sex, Sirius thinks they really ought to delve a bit closer to the heart of the matter. Possibly there could be wild orgies. But no, the fun part of the whole marriage business comes the night before the wedding, and if the ceremony itself is any indication, it's all downhill from there. And besides, sex is legal (albeit with that deliciously pseudo-illicit edge) even without the whole saying-vows-before-relatives-and-Ministry-officials bit, so why bother?
Sirius hopes he had some good sex of his own last night. But how good could it have been, really, if he's now forgotten it entirely? No. Something other than or perhaps even beyond sex happened last night. After all, Sirius has good sex or at least mildly remarkable sex with an assortment of middling-to-very attractive people with some frequency, and if that's all it had been, he wouldn't now be so nattered about not remembering it.
Or would he? If he's getting all worked up about nothing more than another night of anonymous sex, he will never forgive himself.
James is pacing around his old bedroom like one of those Muggle wind-up toys, around and around as though wound tightly in a metal coil. His face, normally quite Englishy and pale at the best of times, is positively pasty, and he looks scared and nervous but not particularly hungover, so he might still be useful.
Sirius coughs. James doesn't even pause in his relentless march about the room, but he jerks his head in a manner that might be acknowledging Sirius's presence or might just be a nervous tic. Still, Sirius accepts it as an indication that if he now speaks, he probably won't actually cause James to have a heart attack, which he feels is a valid concern given James's apparent mental state. "Oi," Sirius says. "You survived last night all right, yeah?"
James grunts. It is a vaguely affirmative-sounding grunt.
"Didn't do anything completely mad, did you?"
After a second, James finally ceases the pacing, which is good, because watching him was starting to make Sirius feel somewhat ill. James raises an inquisitive eyebrow at him, and inquisitive is probably healthier for James's blood pressure than terrified, so this is probably a good sign. "Not particularly, why?"
"Er," Sirius says. Damn. He'd kind of hoped that it had been James who'd done the whatever something, because he's quite comfortable with diverting blame onto James. "Did I do anything completely mad?"
James frowns. He always frowns when he's thinking. Sirius likes to joke that it's because he's unaccustomed to the stress of intensive thought, but really, that's a sort of compliment, because James is so brilliant that he rarely has to expend much energy on contemplation. He usually just knows things. "Don't remember anything much," James says. "I mean, you were off your face, but nothing unusual. You left early-ish with Remus, anyway, I thought he was getting you home. Why, did you wake up in a tree in Sussex with no clothes on again?"
There are some things that Should Not Be Brought Up Ever Again You Bastard, and that is one of them, but Sirius just waves it away this time. "No, I was home. I just. I don't know. It's the oddest thing, really, but Lily stopped by this morning--"
"Lily?" James says, and it looks like his blood pressure is rising again. "What? Your flat? This morning? Was she all right? What's happened?"
"Nothing really," Sirius says hastily, "she was fine, well perhaps a bit miffed actually, she sort of slapped me, quite a good arm on that one, stung a bit, so I thought perhaps I'd let you do something rather foolish, but you didn't, so I thought maybe I had done something, but I don't see what I could've done to her, so I thought I'd ask you--"
"I don't know!" James says, and his arms are getting rather flaily, probably at the thought of his soon-to-be-oh-my-God-wife, so Sirius backs away slightly to avoid being hit (again). "Remus took you home, why didn't you ask him?"
Sirius briefly considers explaining the whole Remus Not Here deduction, but decides it would be too complicated for James's understandably frazzled brain to take in, and settles for the succinct and woefully inadequate "He wasn't in the flat when I woke up."
"Oh," says James. "Maybe he went out and pulled after he dropped you off."
Or maybe he's DEAD, shouts Sirius's brain, but he suppresses it when James goes on to say, "But he's about somewhere, I'm sure I saw my mum shooing him out of Lily's room."
Sirius smirks. "And what were you doing hanging about Lily's room?"
"Not seeing Lily," James says sulkily, "as it would be bad luck, obviously." He starts pacing again.
Sirius senses a wedding-terror-related rant of epic proportions begin to boil up somewhere in James's innards, and ducks out of the room before it reaches James's vocal chords. He heard it all last night, and he's fairly certain that's why he'd started drinking in the first place.
The wedding's nearly about to start, and Sirius can't find Remus anywhere, so he decides he'd better Be A Man and face Lily Herself. Besides, Lily and Remus are quite chummy these days, and he'd have probably been her Maid of Honor if it weren't for the obvious anatomical discrepancy, so it's not altogether unreasonable to assume that Sirius might find Remus hanging about Lily someplace, and even Mrs. Potter's emphatic shooing oughtn't daunt Remus for long.
As it turns out, he's right, because as he swings down the corridor towards the unofficial bridal suite, he very nearly smacks right into Remus emerging from the room. "Sirius," Remus says, surprised, and something in Sirius's memory gives a determined twitch. But there's no accompanying visual, and before Sirius can ask him anything, Remus jerks away and mumbles something about being late and positively darts away down the hall.
So Remus definitely knows whatever it was happened to Sirius last night, and clearly Sirius had humiliated himself so badly that Remus now can't even look him in the eye, and what the fuck could it have been and how was Lily involved?
It occurs to Sirius that he might have shagged Lily, and Remus walked in on them and was scarred for life. No wonder Sirius has so effectively blocked the memory.
That's somewhat unlikely, though, so Sirius forges ahead on into the bride's room, where he finds Lily, alone in her gown.
"Er," he says, and she spins around and sees him, her eyes sparking with irritation.
"What the hell are you doing here?" she demands.
Sirius glances about the room. They really are alone. "Shouldn't you have lots of bridesmaids and things about?"
Lily looks as though she'd be perfectly happy to kill him and promote Remus to Best Man. "They're in the chapel! Where you should be! Because the ceremony's starting in five minutes!"
Sirius blinks. "Shouldn't you be there, too, then?"
"Yes, but I come in after everyone else, and -- oh, give over, Sirius, you were at the rehearsal too, you know this already." She throws up her hands, looking frustrated and angry and quite attractive really, and Sirius finally twigs on to why James is marrying her in the first place. "You know what, forget it, it's my wedding and I refuse to let you pick a fight with me. Let's go down to the chapel, all right?" She takes his arm quite forcefully and more or less marches him out of the room and down the corridor.
It's now or never, or at least now or Sirius will have to wait through the entire excruciating ceremony, so he asks. "Lily," he says plaintively, "why did you slap me this morning?"
"Because you deserved it," Lily replies promptly, releasing his arm to fuss with her skirts as they head down the staircase towards the chapel. "Why else? I don't go about assaulting people for no reason, you know."
"Right, and I admit that I often give you very good reasons," Sirius concedes, fondly remembering an incident with Padfoot and Lily's new leather boots. "But--"
Lily sighs. "Look, Sirius, I know your sex life is none of my business, and I'm quite happy to keep it that way--" and oh, thank God, that probably meant he hadn't shagged her "--and I realize that you were drunk, but it really was sort of heartless of you, wasn't it?"
Sirius blinks in her general direction.
"Really, Sirius, you know he's been mad about you for ages, and I know you enjoy your little games but he's your best friend after James, and it's just awful of you to take advantage--"
"What?" Sirius says, dumbfounded.
They're at the chapel. Lily sounds exasperated. "And he's my friend too, and I know he puts up a good front but he really was sort of messed up about it this morning, and I just can't believe you'd be so thoughtless, Sirius, can't you see how much it meant to him, why can't you think sometimes? Oh, just get in there so we can get started," and she gives him a shove into the chapel and turns away to prepare for her grand entrance, and Sirius goes where he's pushed and finds himself walking down the aisle towards James and the bridesmaids and the other groomsmen (because James had insisted that if Lily got a whole mess of bridesmaids then he deserved a few mates up there with him as well), and he suddenly can't see anyone except Remus, who's chatting with Peter there behind James, and oh God Remus.
That can't be what happened last night.
He takes his place next to James. Remus is just behind him, and it's as though all his senses are honed to uncomfortable sharpness; he can feel Remus's eyes boring into the back of his head, hear Remus fidgeting with his tie and shuffling his feet, smell Remus's usual bland cologne...
Smell. That funny scent on Sirius's skin this morning, so familiar, so strange, and the memory abruptly clicks into place.
He was drunk, but the flutter in his chest and the tingle on his skin had nothing to do with the firewhisky and everything to do with Remus, Remus who was helping him into the flat, Remus who was laughing and teasing him for being so pissed and complaining about having to cut his own night short for Sirius again, and for fuck's sake Pads can't you take your own bloody shoes off you useless wanker? And Remus's hands were strong and certain as they maneuvered Sirius down onto the bed, and Sirius was drunk but not so drunk that he wanted to be left alone yet, and his heart was racing with alcohol and sudden inexplicable fear as he reached up and grabbed Remus's hand, and Sirius said no wait, and Remus said Christ Sirius let go I'd like to go to sleep sometime soon too you know, and Sirius said stay.
Remus froze, eyes wide with confusion and hope and something so common and familiar that Sirius only now recognized as longing, and Sirius was drunk but not that drunk and he pulled Remus down to him and kissed him. And oh, he'd kissed plenty of people before, girls and boys both, and he'd kissed people who were better looking than Remus and people who were better kissers than Remus, but there had always been something missing that he'd never noticed until he kissed Remus and it was there, and then Remus was pushing him down into the mattress and snogging the living daylights out of him, and he made a soft noise in the back of his throat that was somewhere between a growl and a whine and simply meant more. And Sirius wondered how he could have ever gone so long without realizing how much he wanted this.
It's more than sex, it's staggering, and Lily is walking down the aisle looking radiant and perfect and Sirius could kiss her, honestly, because if she hadn't slapped him this morning he might never have remembered.
And he looks over his shoulder at Remus, so filled to bursting with this new knowledge that some of it must be shining out of his eyes because when he finally catches Remus's glance, Remus quirks the corner of his mouth in an embarrassed sort of half-smile, and oh, it's like the first time he ever rode a broomstick, terrifying and chest-tightening and awkward and wonderful. And he can't do anything now because they're in the middle of James and Lily's wedding ceremony and there are vows being spoken and any minute now the groom will finally be permitted to kiss the bride -- as though it were the first time, as though the two of them haven't been going at it like horny rabbits with a more than usually urgent desire to reproduce for months already or actually years, but now it'll be somehow more legal -- and it occurs to Sirius that he can do that too, really, if he wants, only it'll be ten times better because it'll be with Remus and there will be no (thank God) irritating ages-long prissy wedding ceremonies for them, so it will always be somewhat less than legal, which tops stupid boring ordinary James-and-Lily-type sex any day, and oh, it's like the greatest prank ever pulled.
James kisses Lily. Everyone cheers. No one is looking at Sirius anymore, so he subtly sidles over and nudges Remus in the ribs. Their eyes meet again. Remus smiles. Sirius is flying.
"Hey," he says softly into Remus's ear.
"Hey," Remus replies.