SUMMARY: Sirius and James both want Remus, but only one of them can have him. Request by reddwarfer
PROMPT: (042) Triangle
CHARACTERS: James, Remus, Sirius TIMELIME: Sixth Year MWPP
WARNINGS: Profanity, smut, slash, angst.
A/N: Some might consider James OOC.
DISCLAIMER: I don't own Harry Potter and all its related merchandise. I make no profit from this venture and mean no offence. Don't sue.
"You can't stop me from seeing him, James!"
"You don't deserve to be anywhere near him after what you did!"
"That's up to him to decide, don't you think?"
"He's not even conscious, you fucking wanker!" A pause, filled with harsh breaths.
"How am I supposed to say sorry if you won't let me near him?" A deadly silence. Angry footsteps. The slamming of a door.
People watch as Sirius storms out of the Common Room. Something smashes upstairs, like a glass against the wall. They turn to Peter for an explanation, but he merely shrugs and goes back to Exploding Snap.
Nobody notices when Remus returns to class, still a bit pale and with dark shadows under his eyes. James makes sure to sit next to him, and glares if Sirius tries to pick the rows in front or behind. Remus, for his part, ignores Sirius as much as possible. Instead, he concentrates on catching up the work he's missed, on trying not to fall asleep in class, on burying the hurt and betrayal beneath layers of detachment.
By the end of the week, he's feeling better. Enough, in fact, to casually say, "Sirius, can you get me a Yorkshire pudding?" The three other Marauders stare at him in shock, but James is quick to move, snatching the plate before Sirius can reach for it. Remus gives him an odd look, but takes one anyway. Sirius glares mutinously at James, and picks at his dinner for the rest of the evening.
When they get back to the dorm, James pulls Remus into the bathroom, face like thunder. "What the hell did you think you were doing?" he shouts. Remus blinks at him.
"I wanted a Yorkshire pudding," he says. James gestures frantically with his hands.
"Yes, but not from him!"
"Why not? He was closest to them." Remus cannot understand why James is so furious.
"Don't you care what he did to you?"
His face a frozen mask, Remus makes an effort to keep his tone neutral. "How could I not?" he retorts. James opens his mouth, and shuts it again just as quickly. "I can't hate him forever, James. He's done so much for me."
"He also nearly made you a murderer!" James splutters. They haven't spoken about this; none of them have. It's been relegated to the back of their minds as best as possible. Remus feels like an icicle has been shoved through his heart.
"I know that," he says quietly, and the weight of the world is in his voice. "I just want things to go back to how they were." James shakes his head sadly.
"It can't. Sirius is a fucking prick, and he changed everything when he sent Snape down there." Remus sighs heavily.
"I know," he says. "But I have to try." James stares at him, before stomping back into the dorm.
"James!" Peter shouts. What follows is the smack of flesh against flesh. Remus rushes after him, to find Sirius pressing a hand to his face. James disappears out the door. "What the hell was that about?" Peter demands. Remus looks down at Sirius, who hasn't bothered to get off the floor and won't dare look Remus in the eye.
"I don't know," he says.
There is no trace of Sirius' split lip the next day, with Remus' knowledge of Healing charms. There is a new easiness between them that James notices and dislikes immediately. He's not sure how it came to be there, but it infuriates him that Sirius can be forgiven so quickly by the one he hurt the most. Marauders do not betray their own, and Sirius has broken that cardinal rule.
Unbeknownst to him, after Peter fell asleep, Remus climbed onto Sirius' bed and they stayed up half the night talking. Not about anything serious, and especially not to do with what Sirius did. They talked about Quidditch and classes and Peter's crush on Amanda Bird from Ravenclaw, before falling asleep where they were. Thankfully, Remus woke before James and managed to sneak back to his own bed.
Consequently, James spends the day glued to Remus' side, glowering at Sirius until he goes away. Remus pretends to ignore it, ignore James' glares and Sirius' sad eyes and Peter's frowns. This isn't normal, he thinks, but he doesn't know how to make it better. James has developed a personal vendetta against Sirius that Remus didn't think was possible, and is determined to teach a lesson that has probably already been taught.
Sirius is undeterred, though. No matter how many sharp words James throws at him, he knows that Remus has at least partly forgiven him, and that fuels his determination. He wants to prove to Moony that he is truly sorry, that he's learnt his lesson and will never, ever be so careless again. He wants to go back to how things were before. And no amount of death stares from James Potter will stop him.
Between them all, Peter watches silently. He doesn't like it when his friends fight, and yet he's annoyed that he's not a part of this one. This, like the night that started it, has nothing to do with him. Worse, with James and Sirius never leaving Remus alone, Peter has no choice but to follow them through the barbs and insults and veiled threats. He hates it, but figures Remus must hate it more. Or love the attention. Peter isn't sure which he would feel either.
Remus trudges up the stairs after a particularly tiring Arithmancy class. He feels the need for a nap, and is looking forward to curling up in a quiet room.
The sound of raised voices stops him before he can open the door.
"What the fuck are you talking about?" That's Sirius voice, high with incredulity.
"Don't deny it, Black!" And James. Remus sighs, and rubs the bridge of his nose. "I've seen you, and there is no fucking way I am letting you near him anymore!" Sirius growls.
"You don't own him. Remus can choose who he wants to hang out with." James laughs humourlessly.
"Like that's all you want to do with him," he sneers. Remus closes his eyes. He can't believe James hasn't accepted Sirius' sincere apology, nor Remus' forgiveness, even if neither were conventionally given.
"Fuck you, Potter," Sirius snaps. "If you'd stop treating him like a child …"
Remus finds himself heading back down the stairs and through the portrait. He's sick to death of them constantly arguing over him. Yes, what Sirius did was malicious and cruel, but not premeditated. It is Remus' choice to forgive him. Sometimes the hurt, the betrayal, the anger surge back up, nearly choking him with their intensity, but one look at Sirius' remorseful face eases it. He doesn't need James to hold a grudge for him.
His feet point him in the direction of the library, where it is peaceful and comforting, a safe haven in the storm buffeting around him. He settles into his favourite armchair, pulls out a little light reading, and forgets he's ever known anyone named Sirius Black or James Potter.
Three weeks after what Peter has dubiously dubbed 'The Prank', James has taken to hexing Sirius in order to keep him away from Remus. Still Sirius sits with him at every meal, joins him for homework in the Common Room, clambers onto Remus' bed at midnight to chat. James caught them at it once, when Sirius was halfway through describing his flight from home. Remus saw betrayal in his eyes, but couldn't tell whether it was aimed at Sirius or himself.
Exasperated with these sudden spats between James and Sirius, McGonogall pulls Remus aside after Transfiguration. She has to threaten his friends with detention before they reluctantly leave the room. Remus breathes a sigh of relief now that they're gone. McGonogall looks him over.
"What's going on, Mr Lupin?" she asks, though her tone suggests that he better have an answer for her. He gives he a sad smile.
"James is still angry at Sirius," he explains. McGonogall purses her lips in thought.
"And you aren't?" she says. Remus shakes his head. "Will they work it out on their own?" This time, Remus pauses. Sirius is only fighting back because James is provoking him; if Remus were to ask, he would no doubt stop and take every hex James threw at him.
But if James would only open his eyes and see just how much Sirius has changed. Still cocky, still mischievous, but with a new depth to him.
Remus shrugs. "I don't know, Professor." Nodding, McGonogall dismisses him.
James is at Quidditch practice with Peter, leaving the whole of Gryffindor Tower to Sirius and Remus. They jump at the chance just to be themselves, without the threat of an impending explosion. They play chess, and Exploding Snap, and eat chocolate frogs, and finish each other's homework, and all the other things they have missed out on. Remus knows he has the power to stop it, to stop James from being such a prat, but he doesn't want to rock the boat. There is a tentative balance now; Sirius stays away during the day, but after dark he and Remus stay up late into the night.
By the time the portrait swings open to admit the Quidditch team, Sirius is safely upstairs. Remus looks up briefly to greet Peter, but otherwise ignores them both. Smarting, James stalks up the stairs two at a time. Sirius comes out of the shower just as James enters, and they stare at each other across the vast expanse of the dorm.
"Look-" Sirius starts.
"Don't talk to me," James snaps, and knocks him into the wall as he goes into the bathroom. Sighing, Sirius quickly gets dressed and disappears from the Tower until evening.
It has become a matter of principle for James now. He doesn't believe for one moment that Sirius means any of the platitudes he says. He knows Sirius, as well as he knows himself, and Sirius Black will never change of his own accord. He has to be made to change, and James is the only one who can do it.
He buys Remus chocolate. Not just one bar, or a pack of Frogs. No; he goes into Hogsmeade and blows a week's pocket money from his parents on Honeydukes' Finest.
It's worth it to see Remus fairly drool at the sight of so much chocolate, and the look of furious envy flash across Sirius' face.
The next week, Sirius produces a book. Not just any book. No; it's a signed first edition copy of Robinson Crusoe. Remus is ecstatic, and cannot thank Sirius enough.
His gift of a solid gold charm pendant is greeted with less enthusiasm than his first present, as is Sirius' healing crystal. Remus refuses to accept the presents that follow those, leaving James and Sirius fuming at each other with no outlet.
Peter helps Remus eat the chocolate.
It's nighttime three days after the full moon, and Remus has just come out from the Hospital Wing. He ordered the Marauders to stay away this month, and suffered because of it. He is used to the pain though.
His and Sirius' wands cast the only light in the cavern of Remus' bed. They are scribbling half-heartedly on their Astronomy homework, more for the sake of enjoying their time together doing something normal than for any need to get it done. Sighing, Remus allows his parchment to roll up. Sirius nabs it, checking it for mistakes but not expecting any. He's surprised to find several really obvious ones.
"You've got the orbits of Mars and Venus completely muddled up," he says, eyebrows lifting high on his forehead. Remus scowls and snatches the parchment back, stuffing it under his bed.
"I don't care," he says sharply. Sirius flinches.
"Okay," he murmurs. He watches, concerned, as Remus presses his hands to his face. "Moony …"
"I'm fine, Padfoot," he says. Sirius looks down at his unfinished homework, unable to meet Remus' eye. "I'm just tired."
"Okay." He peeks up at Remus through his lashes.
"I can't believe Prongs," he sighs. Immediately, Sirius scowls, shoulders tensing. It was that wanker that was making life so difficult for Remus, and he didn't even realise it. "I'm just so sick of it." Eyes closed, Remus relaxes against his pillows. Sirius watches him, something indefinable in his eyes, part tenderness, part regret. He is as much at fault as James for the situation. During the day he's meant to stay away, to keep the peace, but lately he has been drawn to Remus like a moth to the flame, and it hurts that Remus is hurting because of it.
Silently, Sirius vows to keep as far from Remus as possible in the day, to save him from grief. "Okay," is all he says.
"You're disgusting, Black!" James spits. "A fucking woofter-"
"I am not a fucking shirtlifter, so why don't you just shut the hell up?"
"Like shit you're not. The way you look at him is perverted." Sirius growls warningly.
"Watch it, Potter."
"Or you'll what? Rape me? Or him?"
There is a resounding smack. Someone falls heavily to the floor. In the ringing silence, there is a stifled sob.
"Don't you ever say that again."
Remus heals James' black eye without a word. James is incensed, at Sirius for being a fucking poofter, at Peter for always being there without doing anything, for Remus for just sitting there, not noticing that they are fighting over him.
He vows to pay Sirius back, once and for all.
He does so, by apologising.
In full view of the Common Room, and more especially, Remus, he marches right up to Sirius, playing chess with a Fifth Year, pulls him out of his chair, and hugs him. Sirius is rigid in his arms, but that doesn't matter. He can feel Remus' eyes boring into his back.
"I'm sorry, Pads," he murmurs just loud enough to be heard over the crackling fire. Tentatively, Sirius' arms wrap around him. James suppresses a shudder and pulls back, grinning. "I've been a git, and I'm sorry." Sirius smiles back, though there is suspicion lurking in his gaze. James' grin turns wicked for a second, long enough for Sirius to catch it, and for his eyes widen.
"Are you serious, James?" Remus asks from behind him. He turns around, laying a friendly arm over his shoulders.
"No, Sirius is Sirius," he teases, using the old and worn pun. Grey eyes flick quickly between them, before his expression shutters. James knows he has him now; Remus thinks that James has 'come to his senses', and if Sirius tries to say otherwise, Remus will think he's being unreasonable.
It's almost Slytherin, James thinks.
Peter watches from the sofa, a cautious smile spreading across his face. James beams at him too, just for the hell of it.
Sirius will finally know what happens to Gryffindors who break their word.
At first, Remus is pleased that James has finally, finally come round. After two months of continuous conflict, he is worn thin, and eager to take any chance at a bit of peace.
But despite James' apology, Sirius doesn't come near them during the day. Remus figures Sirius has got into the habit, and doesn't worry too much about it. James stays close by, ever the faithful friend, giving him quick hugs and quicker smiles.
Remus becomes concerned when Sirius stops sneaking behind Remus' curtains at night, to share chocolate and homework. It hurts, somewhere deep, that Remus can be so casually tossed aside, as if he's no longer worth the hassle now that James isn't competing anymore. Two can play at that game, Remus thinks, and refuses to look at Sirius anymore.
James' hugs start to linger, his smile becomes shyer, and Remus catches him staring in classes, only to flush and look away. Something thick and warm forms in his belly and grows every time James glances at him.
He should have expected the sudden kiss in an alcove of the library, but it's a surprise nonetheless. He kisses back, and suddenly a whole new world is opened to him. Hormones and frustration urge Remus on, encouraging him to give in when James gropes him against walls and in bathroom stalls.
Sometimes he feels like he's being watched, that some pervert is staring at them when James is kissing him in the corridors. But when he looks around, there's no one there.
Late at night, when he's brushing his teeth, James looks in the mirror. He looks long and hard. He sees a boy with hair along his upper lip; he sees a bite mark on neck; he sees shadows under his eyes and frown lines creasing his forehead.
When he curls up under the covers, he wonders why he has to do this. Why he has to show Sirius once and for all that James is right.
He usually falls asleep before he can find an answer.
They're in a cupboard. It's dark and dusty and smelly, and Remus is whimpering in his ear. Their robes are already discarded on the floor, and James is giving him the best love bite of his life.
James is not gay, and has never been gay with anyone, but his determination lends him confidence; he just has to listen to what Remus likes, and keep doing that. Simple.
Their jumpers come off, and shirts are swiftly unbuttoned after that. They haven't been further than this before, but James is impatient now. He wants to be done with it, wash his hands clean of the entire mess. One last proof for Sirius, and they can finally put it behind them.
Remus mewls when James' fingers skim down his chest to his belt, unbuckling it quickly to slip his hand inside. It's not exactly a new experience to wrap his fingers around a hard cock, even if it's normally his own. Remus gasps and jerks against him, head falling back against the wall. Fumbling with one hand, James undoes his own trousers, and pushes them both around their ankles.
Their cocks rub together, and it's one of the most erotic things James has ever seen in his life. Pleasure pulses though him with every thrust, and he grips Remus' hips to hold him still while he rubs against him. Remus doesn't seem to mind, hands gripping James' shoulders tightly and Adam's apple bobbing with every moan. James can feel it swelling within him, a building pressure just waiting to break free. Faster he grinds their pelvises together, gasping at the friction. There is sweat trickling down his forehead, and Remus is biting his lip, and the tension just keeps growing and growing and he needs to thrust faster and harder and not stop –
He comes powerfully, wave after pulsing wave, and is coherent enough to feel Remus follow before he collapses against him. His lungs heave, and his mind is whirling, but through the little pleasurable aftershocks James feels like a huge weight has been lifted from his shoulders. It's done.
Remus' hand strokes tenderly through his hair soothingly. A breath sighs in his ear, carrying his word like a soft prayer.
James tenses, and pulls quickly back. Remus looks up at him, eyes dazed and expression … peaceful.
The relief he felt before quickly evaporates, and James feels vaguely sick as lead seems to form in his gut. He avoids looking Remus in the eye by finding his wand and casting Cleaning charms on them both. He dresses swiftly and silently, though Remus takes his time.
They walk back to the dorm shoulder to shoulder, but James would give anything to be running far, far away.
"Remus is angry with you."
"I know, Peter."
"What have you done?"
"Nothing." Disbelieving silence. "I haven't done anything!"
"If you say so."
Sirius has noticed Remus has fractured from the other two, and though he knows he's risking life or limb, he's too lonely to pass up the chance to talk to someone again.
He finds Remus, predictably, in a dusty corner of the library. He's not reading, but gazing out the window, which worries Sirius. Remus is not one to waste time, even free time that can be spent reading Muggle literature.
Slowly, Sirius approaches, until he's standing right in front of his friend. Remus turns his head slowly. There are tears in his eyes.
"Moony," Sirius breathes. They are still for a moment, caught in a tableau as a tear trails down Remus' cheek. Suddenly he hides his head in his hands, and Sirius is kneeling on the couch, pulling Remus into his arms, rocking him gently, stroking his hair. All that time spent watching James worm his way into Remus' heart, knowing there wasn't anything he could do about it, waiting for it to come to this betrayal.
The irony is far from amusing.
Slowly, Remus' tremors subside and his tears stop. Sirius' shoulder is wet. "Better now?" he asks softly. Remus nods, wiping his eyes.
"I just …" he trails off, seemingly lost for words to encompass just how horribly he feels. "Who do I trust, Padfoot? First you did what you did, and then James does this. I'm half-expecting Peter to tell me he's murdered my owl." Sirius smiles grimly, but there is nothing he can say. Remus has been betrayed, twice, by his closest friends. Guilt clenches within him, but Sirius concentrates on Remus. He won't act selfishly any more.
"It'll be okay," he murmurs, and holds Remus closer.
James is expecting a fight. He's seen them together, at mealtimes and in classes, heads close and gazes staying far from James. He tells himself he's ready for a fight; Merlin knows he deserves it. But Remus calmly ignores him, and Sirius follows suit. Frustration wells in James. He wants someone to punish him. He knows he did wrong, and he needs someone to enforce the lesson. It's how he works. It's what he tried to do for Sirius.
Only that didn't turn out so well, he thinks.
He watches them, how they sit closer and talk quieter and have eyes only for each other. It's a form of punishment.
James has been down to the kitchens for a midnight snack, his invisibility cloak rolled under one arm. He pushes open the door to the dorm just in time to see Remus slip between the curtains of Sirius' bed. There's a gap left behind.
Mouth agog, James has enough sense to whip on his cloak again, but cannot bring himself to look away. Instead, he edges closer, peering through the curtains. Remus is curled under the blankets with Sirius, facing each other across the pillow.
"Sirius," Remus murmurs. A smile like no other James has seen crosses Sirius' face, and he presses a kiss to Remus' lips. James watches, fascinated and horrified, as Remus shifts closer, deepening the kiss. Their hands slide below the covers, but James can track their progress, under pyjamas to warm skin beneath. They break apart, panting for air. "Sirius," Remus murmurs again. "I want-" Sirius swoops in, stealing the words with another kiss.
James can hardly breathe himself. The familiar warmth is stirring low in his belly, but more than that, he's never seen this side of Sirius before. This Sirius is tender, and considerate, and his eyes never waver from Remus'.
They move slowly, undressing each other one button at a time. Sirius kisses trails over Remus' chest, tongue darting over every scar. James has never noticed them so strikingly before. Remus whimpers when Sirius mouths a nipple, his fingers running through black hair. Despite himself, James steps closer, spellbound, as Sirius glides further down. The covers slide off his back, and when he removes Remus' pyjama bottoms, James can see them both, naked and aroused and desperately, painfully human.
His breath catches in his throat at the exact moment Remus' does. Sirius, braced above him, leans down for another kiss. Remus grips his shoulder with one hand, the other skating down his back and over the curve of his arse. It's a teasing touch, barely there, but Sirius hisses regardless, and thrusts convulsively. Remus arches into him with a gasp, legs wrapping around Sirius' waist. Suddenly they're moving, thrusting against each other, grinding and moaning. James is breathless, struck dumb by the sight of them.
Remus gasps again when Sirius wraps his hand around their cocks, guiding them to create more friction. When James had Remus like that, he could only think of getting it over with. But Sirius is watching every flicker of pleasure across Remus' face, capturing his moans in hungry kisses, treasuring the moment. Their movements become faster, more frenzied and jerky. Sirius is grunting. "God, Moony," he gasps.
"Sirius," Remus pleads, arching his head against the pillows. Sirius presses his mouth to Remus' neck, nibbling and sucking. Remus' mouth falls open; his limbs tremble. James watches as the pleasure crests, sweeping through Remus over and over. Sirius skims up to Remus' mouth, a groan choked between them as he comes, before his arms give out.
They lay there, panting and exhausted, Remus' fingers threading through Sirius' hair as he had done for James. He knows they are sticky, and that their legs ache, and that sleep is creeping up on them. Remus mutters a quick spell to clean them, and they slip back under the covers, curling up together.
"Love you," Sirius sighs, already half asleep. Remus brushes the hair from his forehead.
"Love you too."
Lily catches him in the morning, tip-toeing downstairs. Normally, James is up for a bit of verbal sparring with Gryffindor's resident firecracker, but not today. He feels like utter shit.
"Merlin, Potter, you look like death warmed over," she greets him. He grunts once, and heads for the portrait hole. Lily follows, glancing at him curiously. "Are you alright?" she asks.
James wishes he could answer 'yes', or even appreciate that she's concerned for him.
"Slept bad," he mumbles, though it's the understatement of the year. Lily nods.
"Are you friends with Black and Remus yet?" she asks. If she notices James' flinch, she doesn't point it out.
"Maybe," he says, and joins Peter at the table.
Truth be told, James spent the whole night tossing and turning, replaying everything he'd done since Sirius led Snape to the Shrieking Shack. He couldn't work out where it had all gotten out of hand, and eventually he fell into a fitful sleep. Remus was back in his own bed when James crawled from beneath his covers, his face peaceful. James had itched to stroke his cheek, brush the hair off his forehead, but had resisted. He had forfeited his chance, and would be lucky not to be scorned by them for the rest of his life.
The two enter not long after, plonking down casually opposite Peter and James. There is a tense quiet between them. Peter shuffles uncomfortably, and James picks at his oatmeal. Sirius and Remus seem completely unfazed.
"Can you pass me the syrup please, Prongs?" Remus asks nonchalantly. James nearly chokes on his apple juice. With shaky hands he leans across the table, aware that Sirius is watching his every move. "Thank you."
James dares to meet Sirius' eyes. They are cool, but not hostile. An unspoken message passes between them, and then they turn to listen to Remus and Peter's discussion on Herbology.
"Save it Prongs."
"Shut up." Miserable silence. "You really hurt him."
"I hurt you both." A pause.
"Yeah, you did." Another.
"You are." Another halt, more comfortable.
"Yeah, I think so."