Black Irony
Deborah Peters

A/N: This story takes place some time after the events of "We Should Be There." While it is not necessary to read that story to understand this, it might be preferred.

James's head snapped up when he heard the snatch of shouting coming down the stairs—and his wasn't the only to do so. Practically everybody sitting in the Gryffindor common room heard the sound of Sirius Black shouting "We're not having a bloody argument! Piss off!" and a door slamming. Everybody, James included, continued to stare in the direction of the boys' dormitory stairs, as the forlorn figure of Peter Pettigrew appeared at the bottom.
The small boy took one alarmed glance at the rest of his House's stares, swallowed, and practically scurried over to James's side. After a beat, everyone resumed his chatter, and Peter looked immensely relieved.
"What was that all about, Wormtail?" James asked, peering at his friend.
Peter shrugged. "I went up to get my Transfiguration book is all, like I said, and as I got closer to our room I could hear Moony and Padfoot screaming at each other—well, Padfoot screaming, anyway—and so I was going to just come back down, but by then I'd already knocked, because I always knock on our door when they're in there anymore, after that last time, you know, so Padfoot came to the door, and I said I didn't want to interrupt their argument—"
"And that's when he said 'we're not having a bloody argument, piss off'?" James interrupted, mimicking Sirius's intonation. Peter nodded ruefully. James grinned, and asked, "So, what were they fighting about?"
Peter turned his hands palms-up in a gesture of blankness. "Beats me."
When Sirius had walked into his dormitory, the last person he had expected to see was Remus Lupin. "Moony, what are you doing here? I thought you'd be in the library, what with that Transfiguration essay due tomorrow."
Remus had apparently arranged for himself a makeshift desk on his bed, using old textbooks as writing surfaces. When he heard Sirius's voice, he looked up from what was most likely his essay, an odd, closed expression on his face. "I thought I'd write in here."
Sirius flopped down easily on Remus's bed. "But you always write in the library. You always say you can't concentrate unless you write in the library. You won't even write in the common room like normal people."
Remus shrugged and looked back down at his parchment.
Sirius frowned at the other boy's unusual behavior, and edged more closely to him on the bed. "Then, it's okay if I write my essay up here with you?"
Remus shrugged again, this time without looking up.
"Then I'll just go downstairs, grab up my books, and be back here?"
Remus's response was, unsurprisingly, another shrug.
"Maybe I'll send Peter up here for a good snog instead?"
Remus started to shrug, then checked himself, looking up at Sirius with a raised eyebrow.
"Remus, what is wrong with you? You're so... distant. Are you feeling okay? The full moon's not until next Wednesday—"
"No, Sirius, I'm not ill," Remus said quietly. "And no, it has nothing to do with the moon."
Sirius bounced a little. "Aha! So you admit there is something wrong!"
Remus fixed Sirius with an unreadable look, and then lowered his gaze once more to his essay.
Sirius reached over and took Remus's parchment, placing it behind himself and out of Remus's reach. "Moony. Tell me what's wrong."
Remus's turned the same look upon Sirius and said, in a voice tense with anger, "Regalus."
Sirius's expression turned from petulant to furious. "What did that bastard do to you?" he said, his voice even louder than was normal for him. "If he said anything—if he raised a hand—I'll make him regret it, I swear to Merlin I will.'
Remus very obviously suppressed a sigh. "Your brother has done nothing to me."
Sirius exhaled heavily. "Don't scare me like that. You know what Slytherins—what Blacks—are capable of."
An odd smile turned up the corners of Remus's mouth. "I've always loved irony," he murmured quietly.
Sirius raised his brow. "What exactly do you mean by that, Moony?"
The ironic smile didn't leave Remus's face. "You have no idea, do you?"
Sirius shook his head blankly.
"You have no idea," Remus repeated, "whom I'm angry with, and why?"
Sirius's expression grew less blank and more wary. "Well, I thought Regalus—"
"Regalus," Remus interrupted, "is not at fault. It wasn't his fault that yesterday he stumbled upon his brother snogging a boy—especially seeing as they were snogging in the hallway right outside the Ancient Runes classroom, right after the fifth-year class had started, and Regalus's textbook had been misplaced by someone during breakfast so that he was running late for class..."
"Oh." Sirius grinned sheepishly. "You caught on to that, then, did you?"
Remus's face had lost all mirth. "Of course, Sirius! I'm a half- blood, I'm not stupid!"
Sirius's expression darkened. "I have never once accused you of stupidity—and what does your blood have to do with anything?"
Remus laughed bitterly. "I'm sure you can't identify, Sirius Black, Toujours Pur."
Unexpectedly, Sirius slammed his hand down on the bed. "Regalus did say something to you!" he shouted. "That filthy, worthless, son of a—"
Sirius was interrupted by a knock on the door. He groaned in frustration and practically ran to open it, flinging open the door to reveal a nervous-looking Peter.
Peter looked like he was about to squeak. "Um, sorry to interrupt your, er, argument, Padfoot, but—"
"We're not having a bloody argument!" Sirius roared. "Piss off!" He slammed the door in Peter's face and whirled around to stalk back to Remus's bed, where he kicked the bedpost, shouting, "Whatever he said, I'll get him for—the whole damn family, if I could do anything to get revenge on them, I would—"
"Including using me?" Remus interjected softly.
Sirius looked at the other boy oddly. "What do you mean? I would never use you. I'm not a Slytherin, I'm not a—"
"Black?" Remus suggested cynically. "Then why, pray tell, would you want your brother to see us...together?"
Sirius shrugged, an expression of alarm creeping across his face. "I don't know—I just thought it might be funny for him to find out directly that his brother prefers boys to girls, and maybe it would shock him into coronary arrest and then I wouldn't have to put up with him anymore."
"Do you expect me to believe that was your only motivation?" Remus said acidly.
Sirius's left hand had found its way to his head where he was unconsciously pulling his hair. "For Merlin's sake, what other motivation do you think I had?"
"Revenge on your family!" Remus exclaimed, his voice rising in volume for the first time. "Honestly, Sirius, did you think it wouldn't be obvious? Look—what's the best way to get under your family's proverbial skin?"
"With a razor?" Sirius hap hazarded, desperate for even the feeblest comedy.
"Oh, shut up for once, would you?" Remus almost shouted. "I can't believe that I'm sitting here, accusing you of having this—this whatever-it- is we have—for the sole purpose of calling shame on your family, and all you can do is crack bad jokes!"
Sirius took a chance and said, a half-hopeful smile on his face, "I didn't think it was that bad—"
"My God!" Remus shouted. "You really can't control yourself, can you?"
"I'm sorry, Remus, it's just that I can't believe that you think that the only reason we're together is that I want to shame my family!" Sirius exclaimed.
"Let's look at the details, shall we?" Remus said, his voice suddenly grown cold and quiet. "What's the best way to shame a family whose motto is 'Toujours Pur'? Run off and shag a half-blood."
Sirius wore a look of sad disbelief. "Remus..."
"But, of course, there are plenty of half-bloods around in this school—but any old half-blood isn't good enough for Sirius Black," Remus continued in the distant voice that didn't belong to him. "No, a half- blood would be good, but what would be even better for shaming his family would be a male half-blood."
"Remus," Sirius said in desperation, "You don't—"
"But even a male half-blood isn't enough to shame the pure, wealthy family of Sirius Black, is it? No, the male half-blood should be poor, dirt poor, poor enough that his widowed Muggle mother has to work three jobs to pay for the debt incurred by so many fruitless childhood tests and treatments—oh, come to think of it, why doesn't Sirius Black take as his lover an impoverished, male half-blood who happens to be a werewolf? Yeah, that's it!" Remus exclaimed, his voice elevating to a hysterical scream. "A werewolf! A beast, a soulless monster—that'll do it. Especially when the werewolf's robes are worn enough to incite all kinds of whispers—because who really cares if the werewolf is a killer, if it makes people talk!"
Sirius had never seen Remus be as emotional as he was in that moment. The other boy's voice had escalated in both volume and pitch until, on his last word, it broke, and he looked away from Sirius, his body convulsing in fierce, silent, suppressed sobs. Sirius stood motionless by the side of the bed for just a moment before he sat down next to the other boy and wrapped his arms around him, drawing him close. Remus fought for a moment, but Sirius simply held him tightly until he suddenly went limp, pressing his face to Sirius's chest.
"Now, look," Sirius said quietly, stroking Remus's hair with long, strong fingers. "Remus, you know you're not a soulless monster. Merlin, I thought you got over than particular fixation in third year."
Remus's response was a shuddering breath and a faint nod.
"So now that I've got that taken care of, you need to know that the reason I'm with you—right now, like this, like always—is because I care about you, Moony, not because of any bizarre need for revenge against the bastards who used to call themselves my family."
Remus didn't say anything, so Sirius continued, "Remus, I don't care if my relationship with you pisses off my family—which it probably will, to be honest. Not because you're a half-blood, or any of that other tripe, though that doesn't hurt—but because I'm sure they hate anything that makes me happy. And, Remus, nothing in this world makes me as happy as you do. Not Quidditch, not pranks, not Transfiguration—none of it. I—I love you, Remus, as stupid as I sound when I say it. I do."
Remus pulled his tear-streaked face away from Sirius's chest and looked up at him with disbelieving eyes. Sirius simply leaned down and kissed him. When he drew back, he smiled and ruffled Remus's hair. "Come on, let's go write. In the library."
Remus gave a small smile. "Oh, I think I could handle writing in the common room. As long as you're there."
"Oi, Peter," James said suddenly, looking up from his book, "D'you know what just occurred to me?"
Peter, who had been working on his Potions homework, looked over at him. "How to get my Transfiguration textbook out of our room without Sirius hexing me?"
"Nah," James said, shaking his head. "What I was thinking was, what if Sirius and Remus weren't exactly fighting?"
Peter frowned. "What else could they have been doing? Sirius was definitely screaming about something, and he sure was angry when I interrupted."
"Well," James said, mock-delicately, "You know that Remus and Sirius have been—you know—since the beginning of April."
Peter shrugged. "Yeah."
James smiled. "What if Sirius wasn't screaming because he was angry?"
Peter's face remained blank for a moment, before his lip curled up in revulsion. "James, that's disgusting!"
James shrugged, apparently pleased with his hypothesis. "All I'm saying is, why else would he have been so upset that you interrupted? And he did say they weren't having an argument."
Sirius and Remus chose that moment to appear at the bottom of the staircase. Both wore identical smiles, and Remus's hair was mussed. "You see?" James said in a stage whisper to Peter. "Shagging, obviously."
Peter shuddered. "In our room, too. I almost wish they had been fighting, instead."
"Oh, please, Peter," James said, absent-mindedly messing up his own hair. "What would those two have to fight about?"