The Artist Formerly Known as Stubby Boardman
By She's a Star
Disclaimer: Harry Potter is J.K. Rowling's.
Author's Note: I wrote this for Cashelle-gone-crazy, as we were rather down after reading depressing R/S fics and wallowing in the general tragedy of poor Moony and Padfoot, and decided some lightheartedness was in order. This was supposed to be rather short, witty, and not especially slashy. Instead, it turned into the mushy OOC puddle of fic from hell.
Which I'm sure really makes it sound terribly alluring.
Also, randomly, that was not supposed to be the title. I simply saved the document as that because I was amusing myself (I have an odd sense of humor), but now it is 2:34 in the morning and I'm not exactly up to thinking up a new one.
(The ending sucks. 'Cause of the 2:34 thing. That, I understand, cannot excuse the rest of the fic, but go easy on me.)
(Not proofread. 2:34, people.)
Sirius Black was going crazy.
It was a peculiar thing, really, that Azkaban hadn't done it for him. Right ironic, really. He'd spent twelve years in chilled and painful agony, complete with soul-sucking fiends, and had come out of it more or less sane.
Spending one afternoon in the kitchen with Molly Weasley, however, simply promised to lead to his mental undoing.
She tore her attention away from the cauldron on the stove long enough to fix him with a sharp, irritated glance.
The forty-seventh sharp, irritated glance he'd received since he'd come in here, if he was counting correctly. Which he was quite sure he was, considering he had nothing else to do in this bloody place.
Well, he wasn't about to leave just because she was making evil eyes at him. This was his damned kitchen, in case she'd forgotten, just like this whole damned cesspool was his, and he was hardly going to let an angry housewife boss him around.
He raised an eyebrow at her slightly, a silent inquiry as to why she felt compelled to keep shooting nasty looks his way, and she let out a huffy sort of sound in response before going back to dinner.
That's better, he thought, slightly satisfied as he reached for a quill and began tapping it absently against the tabletop.
Well, this was dazzlingly productive, he reflected. But then again, what else was new where he was concerned? Everyone else was off doing important work for the Order, and he was left at home with imperative missions along the lines of making sure there wasn't another doxy outbreak in the drawing room and keeping the mentally unhinged house elf in line.
Don't know why I even bothered to escape from Azkaban, he thought darkly. The dementors made for far more pleasant company.
He didn't know where Molly thought she got the right, anyway. Yes, Harry was close to their family – Sirius certainly wasn't denying that. But that didn't mean that Sirius could be cast utterly out of Harry's life when it came to parental sorts of things. James and Lily had chosen Sirius to be his godfather for a reason, after all.
Though apparently that fact hadn't dawned on Molly yet.
"Figures," he muttered angrily to himself.
"What was that?" Molly asked at once, her gaze snapping back over to him.
"Hmm?" he said, as innocently as he could manage.
"You just said something."
"Don't know what you're talking about," he replied, straining for civility. God, she was driving him mad, along with about everybody else in the bloody Order as of late—
"Sirius," Molly said; there was a hint of sympathy in her tone that let him know all too clearly what was coming, "I know that this must be terribly difficult for you – being cooped up like this night and day -- but you know that it's the only option that you've got right now. Dumbledore—"
"I know, Molly," he cut in, speaking through clenched teeth. God, he was going to kill something if she went off on this speech again.
"You've just got to hang in there," she said, her eyes filled with concern. Damn it, he didn't want to listen to this. "And I'm sure that someday—"
The kitchen door swung open at that precise moment, a highly welcome interruption. Molly stopped talking and glanced over at the doorway; Sirius felt the overwhelming compulsion to thank the Lord, or perhaps to simply kiss whoever had saved him from what was sure to have been a terrible fate.
And his savior, he observed upon their entrance into the kitchen, happened to be one Remus J. Lupin.
"Hello, Molly," he said, offering her a tired smile. God, he always looked so tired now – never irritated or upset, though. Simply tired. His condition was no doubt largely responsible for this, but Sirius couldn't help but suspect that whatever Dumbledore was having him work on couldn't help much either. It worried Sirius. Frequently. Worrying seemed to have become yet another fun-filled perpetual activity of his, ever since he'd come back here. Worrying about Moony, about Harry, about everything from Voldemort's return to whether the coffee stains he'd left on the sofa would come out. He'd made it into an absolute art form by now - he figured he probably worried even more than Molly did, which was saying something.
"Hello, Remus," Molly returned, smiling back. "Long day?"
"Relatively exhausting," answered Remus, a wry sort of kindness to his tone.
"Yes, well. Dinner should be ready in a few hours, dear." It was almost sickening, that Remus got showered with all of the maternal kindness Molly could manage, while he got stuck with the evil glares.
Really quite figured.
"I look forward to it," Remus said, still pleasant as hell, before turning his attention to Sirius.
"Sirius, could I have a word?" asked Remus, alarmingly solemn. The last time he'd taken that particular tone, it had been an order to sit down during an argument with Molly during which Sirius still felt pretty damn sure he'd had every right to be standing. Still, he hated to upset Moony. He always had.
Sirius glanced at Molly, who was watching the two of them with keen interest. As soon as Sirius met her eye, she went back to busying herself around the kitchen.
"All right," Sirius said uneasily.
Remus tilted his head towards the door, then turned and began to walk out of the kitchen without a word. Feeling rather befuddled, Sirius followed him out into the hall. He was reminded eerily of a time in fifth year when he and James had 'accidentally' charmed Snape's hair purple and someone had ratted on them to Professor McGonagall. McGonagall had been a bit . . . tired of them picking on Snape by then, and the walk to her office had seemed to take hours, each step cementing their absolute doom.
Or, well, two weeks in detention.
But Remus, Sirius reminded himself, could not give him detention. And really had never been particularly formidable before . . .
"The Hobgoblins, then?" Remus asked, in an uncharacteristically sharp sort of way.
. . . Maybe Moony had beaten him to the whole 'absolute madness' gig.
"What?" Sirius asked blankly.
"I have to hand it to you, Sirius," Remus continued coolly, "I never would have suspected it."
"Remus, what the hell are you going on about?"
"And I hope you don't mind if I inquire after this . . . Doris Purkiss," Remus went on, apparently oblivious to Sirius' utter bewilderment. "I think you'll agree I've got a right to, of course."
"Doris who?" Sirius repeated weakly, racking his brain desperately – he wasn't sure he even knew a Doris, unless his mad old aunt who'd been keen on the idea of locking Muggles in cages and throwing chicken bones at them counted. And he wasn't sure he'd ever mentioned her to Remus . . . besides, her last name had been Black, of course . . .
Which led right back to the 'Remus-was-insane' theory.
It was a bit unsettling.
"Here," said Remus loftily, handing him a magazine folded open to page forty-eight. The bold heading at the top of the page was the faintest bit unsettling.
"'Sirius,'" he read dazedly aloud. "'Black as He's Painted? Notorious Mass Murderer or Innocent Singing Sensation?'"
Remus nodded curtly.
Sirius gave him one last mystified glance before turning his gaze back down to the article, which stated in a manner that seemed quite incontrovertible that he was, in fact, called Stubby Boardman and happened to be the former lead vocalist of a band called The Hobgoblins.
" . . . 'who retired from public life after being struck in the ear by a turnip at a concert in Little Norton Church Hall,'" Sirius finished aloud.
"A traumatic event, at any rate," Remus said. Sirius looked up to see a hint of a smile upturning the corners of his mouth.
"A turnip?" Sirius repeated quizzically.
Remus nodded solemnly.
"And I suppose you think you're being terribly clever and witty?" he persisted.
"Well, I thought so, yes," Remus responded mildly. His eyes were sparkling; it was strange to see so much life in them.
But a good kind of strange.
Unable to hold back a grin, Sirius turned his attention back to the article.
Now, Stubby couldn't have possibly committed those crimes, because on the day in question he happened to be enjoying a romantic candlelit dinner with me.
"Ah," he said, and glanced back up at Remus. "So you're jealous – is that it?"
"I never said anything about jealousy," Remus argued lightly. "More faintly concerned."
"Oh, come on, Moony," Sirius said, grinning wickedly. "You know it's the truth."
"I wasn't aware of that, actually—"
"You're heartbroken at the prospect of dear old Doris and me sharing a romantic candlelit dinner," persisted Sirius mischievously. "You're contemplating looking her up and performing a few Unforgivables on her as a display of your undying and tormented love—"
"Yes, yes, you've figured me out," Remus said dryly.
"That's because you're dreadfully transparent," Sirius informed him brightly. "Y'know that?"
"I think you're the first to tell me, actually."
"Yeah, well, everyone else is just intimidated," said Sirius dismissively. Remus gave him a rather skeptical look.
"Point is, Moony," he continued, and reached for his arm, "I wouldn't worry if I were you."
"Is that so?" Remus asked, staring down at Sirius' hand for a moment before looking back up at him with a smile.
Sirius nodded in confirmation. "She really didn't mean all that much to me. Wasn't even supposed to tell anyone it happened." He sighed wistfully. "I suppose she's just trying to win back my affections by getting my name cleared with the Minister of Magic."
"Quite the tawdry flirtation tactic," commented Remus, reaching for Sirius' other hand and entwining his fingers with his. Sirius found that he wasn't exactly heartbroken upon letting the magazine slip to the floor.
"Shameless," he agreed matter-of-factly. "But she was always like that, Doris. If I told her no once, I told her a thousand times . . . but you know what they say."
Remus raised an eyebrow questioningly. "Do I?"
"Well, you should," Sirius said, feigning surprise as he lightly tugged at Remus' hand, lessening the distance between them. "It's damn near impossible to get over Sirius Black."
"Really?" Remus asked, sounding mildly interested. "I hadn't noticed."
"Prat," Sirius murmured, and kissed him. He supposed it wasn't the smartest thing to do in what was perhaps the most frequently inhabited area in the house – being discovered, they had agreed, wouldn't be the most convenient of occurrences, especially if the aforementioned discovery happened to be made by one of the kids. He didn't exactly fancy the idea of having to explain to Hermione why he'd been snogging with her former professor. (Though, of course, the girl was so clever that he doubted he'd have to explain much.)
But what it all came down to was simply that he missed him, that the first war and Azkaban and now the constant Order missions had all succeeded in keeping them apart far too much, and that some things had to be savored.
Namely these sorts of things.
Remus, predictably, was the one that pulled away. "You know we shouldn't—"
"I know," Sirius interrupted softly. "I just . . ."
Remus squeezed his hand lightly. "You just what?"
His hair, Sirius noticed, was acquiring more grey to it every day; his face was lined; his eyes simply seeming too tired to belong to a man of thirty-seven. They held a kind of wisdom that seemed pained somehow.
But he was still Moony, and he was the only reason that Sirius was even bothering to remain somewhat civil stuck in this place.
"You keep me sane," Sirius finished, smiling a little.
Remus smiled back, a soft sort of fondness lighting his eyes. "I-"
"RONALD WEASLEY, WHY IS CROOKSHANKS COWERING UNDER MY BED??"
They pulled apart just as Hermione came bounding down the stairs, her face flushed in anger.
"IF YOU'VE BEEN KICKING HIM AGAIN--" she broke off, apparently embarrassed as she took in Sirius and Remus' presences. "Oh," she said a bit weakly, forcing a smile. "Sorry. It's just . . . Ron, you know, and . . . um . . . how did it go today, then, Professor Lupin?"
Remus smiled kindly at her. "All right. A bit discouraging, but I'm sure things will get better."
"I'm sure they will," Hermione agreed, still quite chagrined about the outburst they'd witnessed.
Feeling as though a proper change of subject was necessary, Sirius retrieved the magazine from the floor and handed it to her. "Look what Professor Lupin—" he shot a glance at Remus, a bit amused by the formal title; Remus rolled his eyes good-naturedly in response, "--so kindly brought home to share with me."
Hermione took the magazine and studied the article, her eyes widening slightly.
"A turnip?" she said incredulously after a moment's silence.
"Yeah," Sirius agreed, grinning. "Still haven't quite got over that one."
Hermione's eyes sped across the rest of the article; when she'd finished, she looked up. It was rather obvious that it hadn't exactly gone over well with her.
"What utter rubbish!" she exclaimed. "Stubby Boardman . . . honestly. What magazine is this?"
"The Quibbler," Remus supplied. "Its contents have always been a bit . . . questionable."
"Oh, right," Hermione said, still clearly annoyed. "I've heard of this before. Apparently last year they published some ridiculous article on how hippogriffs are actually former Ministry workers in disguise and on the run from Fudge."
"You don't think I could actually be an innocent singing sensation, then?" Sirius asked, unable to resist.
Hermione, predictably, went rather flustered. "Well . . . it's just . . . this is nonsense, of course, but . . . I'm sure you sing quite nicely."
"He doesn't," Remus informed her promptly.
"Oh," Hermione said weakly. "Um. Well, I—"
"AAAUGH!" came a rather anguished and familiar yell from upstairs. "HERMIONE, THIS BLOODY BEAST IS ATTACKING ME!"
Hermione rolled her eyes, but looked unmistakably relieved at having an excuse to get away. She gave them an apologetic glance before turning and continuing back up the stairs, all the while calling, "WELL, IF YOU WOULD STOP KICKING HIM WHEN YOU THINK I'M NOT LOOKING, RON, THEN MAYBE HE WOULDN'T GET ANGRY WITH YOU!"
The relatively familiar sound of their argument carried down the stairs as Sirius turned, mock-accusingly, back to Remus. "So you're the one that doubts my innocent singing sensation potential?"
Remus nodded gravely. "I'm afraid so, Padfoot."
"Well, then," Sirius said, and feigned a glare, "I suppose I may just have to go crawling back to Doris, then." After a moment, he threw in, "and that's Mr. Boardman to you."
"That's a bit unnecessarily cruel, don't you think?" Remus asked lightly.
"A bit," Sirius agreed, and, upon determining that Hermione seemed quite swept up in her row with Ron and probably wouldn't return downstairs for some time, chanced to kiss him again.
It was a bit risky, yes, but after all, he was all but crazy.