Disclaimer:  Simply, I don't own Harry Potter, obviously.  I'm not making money off of this, nor would I ever dream of doing so.  Merely an over-obsessed fan. 

Dedication:  To Fetch.  'Cause she's the one who gave me the idea for this to begin with in her little challenge parameters ages ago.  Sorry it's so late, dear.  I hope you enjoy it!

Standing Up

Remus Lupin stared down at his book, not really registering it, but trying to ignore the scene that was going on.  James was doing it again.  Picking on Snape for no damn reason.  Not that Snape was at all an enjoyable man to be around, but honestly, what had he really done this time that makes him worth this treatment?

And what did him ignoring it say about himself?  Remus bit his lip.  He knew what was happening.  He knew it was wrong.  He was a prefect; he could get up and do something about it right now.  But he wasn't going to, was he?  He knew the answer to that one.  No.  He wasn't going to. 

He was an utter coward when it came to James.  He could never quite bring himself to stand up to him.  At least not when it counted.  If he crossed James, he'd probably lose Peter and Sirius as well…and that was the last thing he wanted to do.  Not that he wanted to lose James either…he meant far too much to him. 

Remus shook his head slightly, not taking his eyes from the page.  No.  He'd never be able to stand it, not having any friends again.  He didn't want that.  Which is why he was sitting here, trying to ignore what James was doing. 

Lily was yelling at him now.  Yelling at James.  Well maybe that would put a stop to it.  What with James and his practically obsessive crush on her.  Remus sighed, his hold on the book tightening slightly as he listened to the scene going on behind him. 

Mudblood.  Remus let out an audible sigh, though nobody was paying the slightest bit of attention to him.  Lily wasn't even going to bother defending Snape anymore.  He could hear her stalking away.  Glancing up, he saw her giving him a very disappointed look.  He knew what she wanted to say.  Why don't you stand up to him, Remus?

Why didn't he?

====

Remus was sitting on his bed, staring disdainfully at the Muggle chess set that Lily had given him a couple years back.  Playing chess against yourself wasn't the slightest bit of fun, and he was bored.  Very bored.  And his mind was still focusing on the incident that afternoon.  Even if he did have someone to play against, it wasn't like he would have been able to concentrate on the game. 

He sighed, lying back on the bed and closing his eyes. 

"…hey Moony!  What'cha up to?" James asked cheerfully, leaning against one of the bedposts, looking at his friend. 

Remus groaned inwardly.  He didn't feel any remorse at all, did he?  "…what the hell does it look like I'm doing?" he snapped, not even bothering to hide the weary irritation in his voice. 

"Whoa, jeez, what's the deal, Moony?"

Remus sighed, sitting up and looking at James.  "…you know what the problem is.  We've had this conversation before.  Many times."

"…you're mad about the whole thing with Snape, again?"

"Good grief, Prongs, you know that it isn't right…"

"I don't see anything wrong with it," James said defensively, crossing his arms across his chest.

"You never see anything wrong with it.  I don't know why I bother.  I'll lecture you for a couple minutes, you'll smile charmingly and say something on the lines of 'aww, but Moony, you know you love me', and then I'll call you a prat for good measure.  Then the ritual pillow will be tossed and we'll laugh and everything'll be all merry.  Until you go after Snape again for no damn reason.  Because I won't have the guts to stand up to you then.  I'll corner you after, and then this whole damn cycle will start all over again."  He sighed, pushing a lock of his hair out of his eyes. 

"Then maybe you should stop bothering to lecture me, eh?"

"Right.  Yeah, that helps my guilty conscience just so much."

James sighed, raking his hand through his hair, only making the messy black locks stand up in even more odd directions.  "…there's nothing wrong with it."

"Lily won't date you because of it.  You really view that as nothing?"

James tensed slightly, his face turning pink.  "Aw, shut up, Moony."

"It's not right, James.  You damn well know it.  I understand that he's a Slytherin.  I understand that he's a complete bastard.  But really, especially today, he didn't do a damn thing.  And you and Sirius just pounced on him like…" he paused, searching for the right words.  The most effective words.  "…like a wolf catching its prey.  And if you'd ever done it in real life, you'd be far less inclined to do it to Snape, I'd bet."  He let out a slightly bitter laugh, looking back down at the chess set.

"…Remus…" James knelt by the bed, looking up at Remus.

Remus sighed, moving his gaze back to James, meeting his eyes.  "You know it's wrong.  It just makes you as bad as them.  The Slytherins get the wrath for being the bullies.  But you're one damn bully yourself, James."

"…but you love me anyway, Moony."

Remus shook his head, a small bitter smile on his face.  James never was going to listen to him.  Remus knew he wouldn't.  He'd keep attacking Snape until James suddenly matured a bit, though that was looking more and more like it would never happen.  So now he was supposed to call him a prat, throw the pillow at him, and everything would be fine again.  But he really didn't feel like doing that again.  Repeating the cycle.

Why don't you stand up to him, Remus?

'You're right, Lily.  I should,' he mused, his gaze moving down to the chessboard for a moment before moving right back and looking James directly in the eyes.  "Yes.  You're right, James.  I do love you.  A lot.  I'm absolutely positively madly in love with you."  And with that he stood up and calmly walked out of the room, leaving James to his thoughts.

====

It was a nice evening, Remus reflected as he walked along the lake.  At least that was in his favor.  He was likely to lose James's friendship.  Peter's would go along with that.  Sirius…that was a different story.  He wasn't quite sure where he stood with him.  But even if he didn't lose Sirius entirely, it still wouldn't be the same.

He picked up a rock, throwing it into the lake, only to see a large tentacle reach up and catch it, throwing it back at him.  Remus let out a small laugh as he dodged the rock.  "Well all right then.  No more throwing rocks into lake.  Gotcha."

"Moony?"

Remus froze where he was for a second before turning, only to see James standing there.  "Yeah?  You want…?"

"To talk," James replied, stuffing his hands in his pockets and walking over next to him.

Remus sighed and sat down, leaning back on his arms. "Then talk."

James sat down next to him but didn't say anything. 

"Do you need me to define the word talk for you, James?" Remus asked after a moment.

"Do you always get bitter and sarcastic when you're afraid?"

Remus raised an eyebrow, looking over at the boy next to him. "…I'm afraid now?"

"Quite obviously afraid, actually."

Remus shook his head. "I'm not afraid."

"You are.  You're afraid that I'm going to get angry and just dump you or something of the like.  Don't bother lying, Moony.  I know that's the case."

Remus snorted slightly, raking his hand through his hair as he looked out at the lake. "Well are you?"

"Am I going to just cast you aside, you mean?"

"No, are you going to cut off my head with a chainsaw and then paint bunnies on my chest with my blood," he muttered sarcastically, rolling his eyes. 

"There's that sarcasm again.  But no, I wasn't planning to.  On either account.  That's a bit morbid, don't you think?  And besides, I don't think I even know what a chainsaw is…"

"Muggle tool."

"And you know this…?"

"Muggle studies and talks with Lily."

"You're closer to her than I am."

"I don't take Snape's pants off in front of huge crowds of people."

"Point taken."

"Not that it'll stop you from doing it again."

James smiled slightly, shaking his head and looking at his friend.  "No, I suppose not."

Remus didn't say anything, just stared out at the lake.  The sun was starting to set, which would make the scene rather romantic.  Not that that made the slightest bit of difference, as romance was the very last thing that was going to happen here for him.  "I doubt Snape was really what you wanted to talk about though."

James shook his head.  "No…not really."

"You going to talk about what you do want to talk about then?"

"…yes.  I suppose I will."  He paused., raking his hand through his hair, looking out at the lake for a moment, before looking over and focusing his brown eyes on Remus.  "Do you really?  Love me, I mean.  And in the way I'm guessing.  Since you gave me the impression that you're referring to a very non-platonic type of love…"

"Nothing gets past you, does it?" he muttered, his voice bitter.

"You really think this is it, don't you?"

"No, of course not.  Why would I think such a thing?  You know, confessing that you're in love with the best friend that you most definitely shouldn't be in love with…every day happening.  No, I'm not expecting you to beat me up, really," Remus said, his voice full of biting sarcasm as he started to get up. 

James winced slightly at the tone in his voice before reaching out quickly, grabbing his wrist and forcing him back to a sit.  "You're not going anywhere.  I'm not going to beat you up.  And I'm not going to desert you."

Remus didn't say anything, just stared at the lake.

"And it'd be appreciated if you'd look at me."

"…fine." Remus looked over at him, suddenly realizing that James was far closer than he had been a second ago.  "Wha—"  He was cut off by the feeling of lips against his own.  That stayed there for a surprisingly long time.  But before the shock could fully wear off and Remus able to react, James had already pulled away, letting go of his wrist gently. 

"I suppose it's my turn to walk off calmly and leave you alone for a bit, eh?" he asked quietly, standing up and indeed walking off. 

====

Remus stormed into the dorm room about an hour later, having gotten himself thoroughly angry.  Before anyone could even say half a greeting to him, he had all ready walked over to James, who was sitting on his bed, and punched him straight across the face.  He would've kept going had Sirius not jumped up and grabbed his arms, holding him back.

"What the hell's your problem, Moony?" Sirius snapped, as he struggled to hold onto the angry werewolf. 

Remus ignored him, trying to get back to James. "Is this your idea of some kind of joke?!  Messing with my emotions like this?!  You know I always thought you were a tad bit better than that, but I suppose I should've known considering how you treat Snape!  Damn you, Potter!!"

James flinched at the use of his last name.  "…well this is certainly unusual.  Pissed off Moony.  I'll have to keep this in mind before I snog you again, eh?" he muttered, rubbing his cheek gingerly.

Sirius was by far confused now as he looked between the two.  "What…Prongs…you snogged him?!"

"Padfoot, shut up.  And for Merlin's sake, let me go!" Remus shouted. 

"Not until I'm sure you're not going to kill him."

"Good Merlin, who the hell's gunna miss him?!"

"I would.  Wormtail would.  And you would too once you got over whatever the hell's bugging you."

"…nice to know you're taking this so well, Moony…" James muttered.

"What the hell is there to take well?!  You're messing with my emotions like its some sick game!" He managed to rip his arms away from Sirius, crossing them and glaring at James. "I hate you," he muttered.

"Well that's interesting.  I believe you said something quite the contrary a little while ago."

"Prat," Remus grumbled, his attention turning to the floor as he felt the anger dissipating slightly.

"…what the hell is going on here?" Sirius asked, looking between the two. 

"Go away, Padfoot.  Go find Wormtail or something," James shook his head, looking at Remus. 

"He's in detention.  Are you going to tell me what's going on or not?"

"No, Padfoot, my dear friend, I'm not.  Not now anyway.  Can you give us a minute; I think we have a few things to sort out—"

"Like hell we do!" Remus lunged at him again as the anger that had dissipated quickly came soaring back, though Sirius managed to catch him before he made any contact.  "You're screwing with my emotions here!  Don't you think my life's screwed enough as is?!"

"I don't know why you assume that this was all some sort of joke.  Maybe I was serious about what I did."

"You're never serious!"

"But maybe, Remus, I was.  Maybe I was completely and totally serious about that.  And here you are, telling me that you hate me.  That I'm playing with your emotions—"

"You've had that bloody crush on Lily for how long?!  What else am I supposed to think?"

"You were supposed to take it as it was!"

"And what was it?!"

"A DAMN HEARTFELT CONFESSION, THAT'S WHAT!" James shouted at the top of his lungs. 

Remus's legs gave way on him, and he would've fallen to the floor had Sirius not had such a tight grip on him.  He just stared at James in disbelief, watching the boy in front of him slowly grow pinker and pinker.  "…what?" he asked weakly.

"…maybe I felt for you as you did for me.  And maybe I snogged you because I thought you would get it.  But apparently not because you're accusing me of playing with your feelings.  Which, by the way, is something I'd never do.  And I don't like you saying I would," he said, his voice taking a defensive tone.

"…somehow, I think I really don't want to be here…" Sirius mumbled.

"Then get out, Sirius!" Remus glared at him. 

He shrugged.  "Fine.  Come get me when you two are done with your little lovers' spat."  He let go of Remus who promptly fell to the ground.  He took one look at Sirius, noticing the slightly disappointed look in his eyes before he left the room entirely.  Not wanting to think about that, Remus turned his attentions back to James.

James was staring back at him.

Remus sighed, pushing himself off the ground and standing up.  "…I'm sorry, James."

"Like hell you're sorry…" James muttered, rubbing his cheek again, wincing.  "You pack a good punch there though, Moony.  First time I've ever seen you that angry."

Remus shrugged.  "Anger's been building up for years."

James sighed.

Remus sighed as well, walking over slowly and leaning against the bed post.  "I'm sorry, James.  Really.  It's just that you've always been so…well…heterosexual."

There was a small pause before James responded. "…bisexual."

"What?"

"…I'm bisexual."

"…well that would explain why you're constantly pulling Snape's pants down…"

James shook his head with a small smile. "…trust me.  Snape isn't really worth seeing."

"…I'll take your word for it.  But, James…what about Lily?"  There was no denying that James had a crush on the girl.  Unless he was an extraordinary actor.  And Remus really didn't think that he was that good of an actor.

"…I like her.  I'm not going to sit here and tell you that I don't.  But…it's not the same, Remus.  It's not like what I feel for you.  I just always figured she was more attainable…which I suppose is saying something, because she really doesn't want anything to do with me."  He laughed slightly.  "I just didn't want to freak you out by telling you, really…"

Remus slowly sank to sit down next to James.  "Well…it's just a tad late for that, isn't it?" He looked at James with a small smile.

"…only because you completely misunderstood what I was saying, you stupid prat," he replied, a large grin forming on his face.  It stayed there for a few moments before it faded, him growing serious again.  "…I can't believe you'd really think that I was toying with your emotions, Remus.  I mean…it's—"

"Insulting and a complete misjudgment of your character?  Yeah.  I was being irrational…"

"For the first time in your life.  You are allowed to lose your cool, Moony.  Suppose we've taken advantage of the fact that—"

"I never do?  Yeah.  You guys have.  But that's alright.  Really."

"…have you noticed that we're finishing each other's sentences?"

Remus smiled slightly, glancing over at James. "Yeah, I did."

James looked back with a smile. "…so…what now?"

"We do something before either Sirius or Peter walks into the room and ruins the moment?"

"Sounds good." 

The next thing Remus knew, James's lips were upon his own again, with the promise to stay there for much longer this time. 

Why don't you stand up to him, Remus?

It really was brilliant advice.  He'd have to thank her for it later, even if she hadn't ever actually said it.  Though he really doubted that this was exactly what Lily had had in mind.

Author's Notes:  While certainly not my best work, it's nice to actually get something written and finished.  I hope you all enjoyed it, and do review if you'd like.  I do love feedback.