Yeah, well, so this is what happens if you watch "But I'm a cheerleader" in the middle of the night while eating something with sugar in it. If I'd been watching something stupid, like "Miss Secret Agent", I'd probably have just started a world war or something (too much stuff like that makes me violent) but as it is now, I started on another fiction. Hoorah. Or not.
And I don't own the Harry Potter characters, and large parts of the plot (and the soundtrack) are of course stolen from "But I'm a cheerleader", but the rest has been up to my twisted little mind to put together. Enjoy.
We're here to help you
"Hang up the chick
Hang it up, daddy,
or you'll be alone in a quick
Hang up the chick habit
Hang it up, daddy,
or you'll never get another fix
I'm telling you it's not a trick
Pay attention, don't
or you're liable to get licked
You're gonna see
the reason why
when they're spitting in your eye
They'll be spitting in your eye"
- April March, Chick habit
Remus sat in the car, still unable to get how he had ended up there. The previous day kept coming back to him and hitting him over the head, no matter how hard he tried to throw the thoughts away. Boomerang-thoughts.
"Sweetheart, we think you might be gay…"
He was so angry with his parents, so disappointed with his friends, and he didn't understand why Patty had agreed to all this…
"Come on, Remmie, you don't even like to kiss me!"
Okay, so he might not be that keen on spending every moment alone with her making out. She should be thankful! That just proved that he valued her intellect more than he did her body. And what did he get for that? He got accused for being a faggot.
"We on Healing Hands Centre know how easy it is to be tempted by the gay lifestyle. But don't you worry, Remus. We're here to help you."
And now he was sent to the middle of nowhere, to some kind of rehab-centre where they were going to cure him from being something he had never been. He was going to get locked up with a lot of people with real problems, and they all seemed to think they were doing him some kind of favour. It was maddening.
"It's only for a couple of months…"
The car pulled in by a large building that obviously had been painted by a madman. The combination of bubblegum pink and baby-blue on every available surface was enough to make one sick. Remus' father and mother were already out of the car, waiting for him. The air of anxious cheerfulness that they radiated made him want to scream, but he still got out of the car and followed them, head drooping in defeat.
"Welcome! We're so glad to see you here at the Healing Hands Centre!"
Remus' prayers for this to be a nightmare intensified to the tenfold.
The voice was syrupy sweet, and it came from a vision of Pink. In the midst of it, the core that the pinkness seemed to circulate around, was a short, round woman of perhaps thirty-five or so, with a brisk little smile that didn't reach the large, froglike eyes that watched him shrewdly, coldly.
"My name is Dolores Umbridge, and I am the founder of the Healing Hands Centre! Don't you worry; we will make a real man of you yet!" She gave a strangely girlish little giggle that set Remus' teeth on edge. She then turned to his parents and proceeded to talk to them like Remus wasn't even there. "You're lucky you sent him here now, it's clearly almost too late. When they reach a certain age, they sadly aren't open anymore to friendly, helping influences from people who know better than them. And then, of course, many are lost when they're sent to college. You wouldn't believe if I told you what a breeding-ground of perversity that is. Ah, well, we'll be able to save this one, at least."
Once again she fired off a sweet little smile at the world in general, sickening in its absolute lack of sincerity or warmth. Remus shuddered.
The door of the house – pink, with a blue-tinted window – opened, and a man stepped out, dressed in the same awful shade of blue as approximately 50 per cent of the house. Over his chest the words 'Straight is great!' were written in large, dark-blue letters. His eyes were slate grey and his hair was a remarkable shade of white blond, cropped short in a way that definitely didn't suit him. Remus recognized him as the man who had been present the day before, during the most humiliating hours of his life, and bared his teeth at him.
Umbridge's smile brightened some lux.
"This is Lucius Malfoy, he helps me out with educating the boys. He'll be in charge of teaching young Remus here everything he needs to know.
Lucius was followed by a somewhat younger man, also dressed in blue. He had vivid red hair, a well-toned body and smiled at Lucius in a way that went a little bit beyond 'friendly'. Umbridge gave a little polite cough, and he immediately turned his attention to the newcomers, hefting up Remus' bags and shaking hand with his father.
"And this is my son, Khanan. He is 'the man of the house' so to speak, helping out with all those little tasks that a lady cannot manage on her own." Once again she giggled her shrill little giggle, and Remus dug his nails into the palms of his hands.
"Well" said Umbridge, and the look in her eyes became somewhat feral "I think I'll take him from here."
So he was told to be a good boy, kissed on the cheek by his mother and patted on the shoulder by his father, and abandoned. Umbridge clutched his arm and firmly steered him inside, saying something about at video, but Remus wasn't listening. He was madly looking for ways to escape this, and to his great despair found none.
The video had been about some guy named Tim who at age 18 was 'recruited into the homosexual lifestyle'. Apparently, he had become a sex-toy to an abusive boyfriend, always coming back for more, but after 'rediscovering his masculinity' at the Healing Hands Centre, he managed to become the heterosexual he had always wanted to be, and gotten married. Remus' analytic and critical mind had great difficulties believing the credibility of the video, but he didn't mention it to Umbridge. He had a feeling that if he just played along, he'd be out of there much sooner.
After then having listened to a long lecture about the five-step program Umbridge had created, she smiled at him and said, "It's going to be very difficult, of course, but it is worth the sweat and tears to know that you no longer are a pervert. Now, you'll meet one of our other soldiers. James!"
Just like Lucius and Khanan, he was dressed completely in blue, and he looked like he felt just as uncomfortable with the whole situation as Remus did.
"This is James Potter. He is going to show you around and inform you of the rules. Well, go along! You'll need to get acquaintanced to each other!"
James shook his hand and grinned, looking a bit embarrassed and muttering something about following him. As soon as they were out of the room, he breathed a loud sigh of relief. "Thank god! I hate the way she keeps staring at us!" He looked a lot more relaxed now, and spoke with an easy confidence that Remus envied. "So, as you heard, I'm James Potter."
"What are you in for?" Remus wondered sarcastically, and James laughed.
"Quite straight to the point, aren't you? Well, let's say my folks thought I got a bit too kissy-feely with the quidditch-team. You know, after matches and so on."
Remus thought that sounded completely mental. "But… isn't that what you do? Like, hug and kiss when you win?"
For a short moment, James looked a bit grim. "Well, not according to my parents, it ain't." Then he brightened up again, shrugging. "I just play along, really. If you just nod and smile, you can usually keep that horrible woman happy, and Lucius isn't that bad. Of course, there are people that won't be happy with that… You'll notice."
They came to a halt before a huge whiteboard (or pinkboard, rather), with all of their names neatly written in horizontal columns. The vertical columns were named "Step 1", "Step 2" and so on. "Step 1" had been ticked off for everyone except Remus.
"Step one was easy" James said. "'Admit that you're a homosexual'."
"But I'm not!" Remus protested.
"Lie" said James simply. "They don't really care if YOU believe in it. They will, anyway, and that is no matter what you tell them. Believe me. It's easier that way."
"But it feels wrong to claim to be something I'm not" Remus muttered.
"Tell me about it. But hey, at least we don't actually have problems, now do we?"
"I don't have a problem with who Iam, Potter. It's the rest of the world that does."
Someone swept past, angrily, and gave Remus a quite forceful shove on the way. James frowned after the retreating back.
"Severus Snape. Worst arsehole – pardon the pun – we've got here. He honestly deserves a good clap around the head." He glared after the other boy some more, and then shrugged this off as well. "Come on, I'll show you the dorm."
It was blue. Blue beds, blue walls, blue curtains. Remus guessed that it was supposed to be decorated in a 'manly' fashion, but for the paintings of cars hanging on the walls and the axes over the door there was only one word:
There were two other boys in the dorm. One of them was reading something, oblivious of the rest of the world. The other one was polishing his nails. He looked up and nodded at them when they came in, then turned his attention back to his hands. He was very handsome, Remus noticed. Very handsome.
"Our dorm. No inappropriate behaviour allowed." James winked and grinned.
"Inappropriate? Like swearing?"
"No, inappropriate like fucking" said the handsome boy, without even looking up from his nails. "You get caught in the throes of a sodomy, and au revoir!" He smiled crookedly, and suddenly he was staring at Remus, studying him intently. "It's such a shame, don't you think?"
Remus had seriously thought that meetings like this one only existed in movies and weird comics, but yet here it was, in all its parodic glory. They sat in a circle, in pink chairs, of course – he was getting used to the warped colouring. There were girls there as well, dressed in bubblegum-pink clothes that looked like they belonged to someone's grandmother. Remus felt rather sorry for them.
Umbridge was standing by another large pinkboard, ready to take notes, smiling a wide, cheerful smile that made you feel that she was going to go for you throat as soon as you looked away. Lucius was leaning against the opposite wall, looking like he didn't have a trouble in the world. Remus hated him.
"Well, then, let's introduce ourselves!" Umbridge chirped happily.
James stood up. "Hi, my name is James and I'm a quidditch-player. I'm a homosexual." He sat down, rolling his eyes at Remus when Umbridge wasn't looking.
A black-haired boy with a sharp face and an unpleasant sneer followed suit. "I'm Severus Snape, I like pain, and I'm a homosexual."
"I'm Sirius Black and I like boys… a lot" The handsome boy winked at Remus. "And… I'm a homosexual." He faked a sad, concerned expression that Umbridge, from what Remus saw, completely fell for, hook, line and sinker.
The last boy in their room stood up, smiling shyly at Remus. "Hi. I'm Peter Pettigrew, I like dancing, and I'm a homosexual." When he sat down, Remus noticed the light in the room catching on something. Pink nail-polish, to be precise. Peter saw him staring, and immediately hid his hands, blushing guiltily.
"My name is Janna Summer, I'm studying to become a lawyer, and I'm a homosexual." She had bob-cut, auburn hair and was almost as tall as Sirius.
"Clarice McCarter. Kick-boxer, female rights activist, lesbian." Her hair had obviously been shaved off, for she only had golden fuzz covering her head like a halo. Her blue eyes were direct and kind, and when she smiled at him, Remus noticed that half of one of her front teeth was gone.
"Nannette Klein, Jewish h-homosexual." This girl looked like she wanted very badly to just run away from there.
"Lily Evans, I like horses, and I'm bisexual" Umbridge gave her a stern look and cleared her throat in that hateful way – Hemhem! – and Lily sighed deeply in obvious exasperation. "All right, all right. Homosexual. There! Happy?"
"Good!" Umbridge clapped her hands together. "See, Remus? See how easy it is, once you admit it? You only have to face that you have a problem, and you'll be on your way to be cured once and for all!"
Remus decided to at least try. "But I'm not gay" he said. "I'm sorry, but I'm not like the rest of you. There's nothing wrong with me."
Umbridge's smile didn't even waver. "That's a perfectly normal way to start! But let's talk about the things that alerted your friends and family, shall we?"
Remus rolled his eyes. "But it's so stupid. I… I have some pictures of guys in my room. I have a pink plush-puppy named Snuffles. I like hugging my friends. I have a painting of an orchid over my bed, and dad found out that 'orchis' in Greek means 'testicles'. I'm a vegetarian."
"Do you have a girlfriend?" Lily asked.
"Yes" Remus answered firmly. "Her name is Patty, we've been going steady for two years. She is has a lovely personality, she's funny, intelligent…"
"And she's the sexiest girl I've never seen naked" Sirius drawled, earning some stifled giggles. Remus glared at him.
"Just because I don't feel ready to have sex with her…"
"Don't feel ready? How long did you say that you've been together with her?" Clarice was looking at him incredulously.
"Two years" Remus replied testily. "And I really love her."
Lily, Clarice and Sirius, paparazzi-style:
Lily - "Well, does she make you horny?"
Clarice - "Do you feel anything when you touch her? Anything at all?"
Sirius - "Does she make you hard?"
Remus just stared at them. And then, slowly, there was a sinking feeling, like his stomach dropping away. In fact, he didn't feel anything when she touched him. She often tried to do things with him, but it just made him feel awkward, and it always ended with him pushing her away. He'd never thought about it, really…
But he was seventeen, wasn't he? Wasn't he supposed to be interested, at the very least? So why wasn't he? Unless…
Unless they were right.
Unless he was a… a…
"Homosexual…" Remus whispered, and he couldn't believe that this was happening to him.
"We didn't quite catch that, dear" Umbridge said, leaning closer.
"But…" Remus floundered wildly for anything that might save him. "Everyone looks at other guys, right? We all look at each other…"
"Yeah, but maybe they're not thinking what you're thinking" Severus said, leaning back and looking quite amused. "Did you ever think about that, princess? Or did you just assume that they do?"
Remus felt himself begin to tremble. He looked helplessly at James, but the other boy was watching him with mix of sympathy and pity in his eyes. It was quite clear that he, too, was convinced.
Oh dear god!
"I'm… a homosexual" Remus whispered, barely believing what was actually coming out of his mouth. "I'm a homosexual!"
"Well done!" Umbridge said, patting him on the shoulder. "Group hug!" she announced, and soon Remus was enveloped in a collective embrace, but he didn't hear the encouraging mumbles from his fellows. They were all drowned out by his own voice, echoing loudly and with painful clarity in his brain:
They were right!
Afternoons were free. That is, they were allowed to lounge about the premises of the house doing nothing. It was quite nice in comparison to the meetings.
Clarice stretched her legs and buried her naked toes in the grass.
"You never told us how you ended up here, Peter" she said, giving the blond boy a shrewd look. "So spill it. We all have to owe up, you know."
Peter blushed a bit. "I got… uhm… caught…"
"Oh, the drama!" Sirius threw himself down on his stomach Remus' side, leaning his chin in his hands and twining his legs together. "Tell us more!"
"Well… I had sort of been out quite late… and I was sneaking back in, trying not to wake my parents. But they did. Wake up, that is."
"Well, nothing odd in that" James intervened, looking puzzled. "I mean, if that makes you gay, then I know very few teenagers that aren't."
"Well, no…" Peter conceded. "It was more the fact that I was wearing… a dress…"
Clarice stared at him, then burst out laughing, giving him a quick hug. "That is a bit of… of a giveaway…" she managed to gasp.
Remus was staring at Peter. "That must've been so embarrassing" he mumbled, trying his best to let only his sympathy show, and not that vague wave of horror he had felt just a second ago.
Peter shrugged. "I didn't really have time to be embarrassed. Mother started screaming and I was trying so hard to make her stop and listen to me that I forgot how awkward it was."
"What happened to your dad?" James wondered.
"He… uhm, well, he sort of fainted." Peter sighed sadly. "He hasn't said a word to me since. I don't think he ever will forgive me."
"But if you're cured he might" Remus said, trying to sound cheerful. Peter gave him an incredulous look.
"Cured? I don't want to be cured. I'm happy as it is. I'm just here to keep my mother from blowing her fuses completely."
Remus opened his mouth, and then shut it again, not knowing what he was going to say to that. He had thought that the people going here – those people that actually were ill – would be dying to be cured.
He knew he was, at any rate.
Peter was still looking at him, and there was a sudden spark of anger in his blue eyes. James cleared his throat uncomfortably.
"So, Clarice, how did you end up here?" he asked.
She grinned, gesturing at herself. "Need you ask? Looking like this is enough for anyone, isn't it? A shaved head and hairy legs is enough proof of the most depraved kind of lifestyle, according to my parents."
"But are you really… well, you know…?"
"A lesbian? Yes. But what that's got to do with how I look, I don't know." She gave James a scrutinizing look. "But if you're gay, I'm going to eat Peter's dress."
"How did you know I'm not?"
" 'I can see a church by daylight' " she quoted. "It's obvious. You just aren't. You don't look at the other guys in that way, for starters." She smiled at his puzzled expression. "But how in the world did you end up here?"
James shrugged. "I kissed a guy. Not a tongue-kiss or anything. Just a friendly kiss because we won a match. But it sent my parents in a right spin." He rolled his eyes. "It isn't like I don't kiss the girls on the team as well. It has nothing to do with… well, you know, real kissing, but try to get my dad to understand that."
Sirius gave him a sly smile. "Feeling misunderstood, do you?"
"Well, you try being cured from something when you don't have it."
"You try being cured from something that you are" Peter said. "You try being told that something you cannot help is wrong."
James shrugged. "I don't know about that. I just know that I'm not supposed to be here. And if my friends on the team find out about this…"
"Maybe you have the wrong kind of friends" Sirius suggested. James glared at him.
"Look, if we just all tried being a bit supportive…" Remus said desperately, but was interrupted.
"Really? Well, if you want to hold hands and sing 'We shall overcome' then you start. Meanwhile, I'll stick to being honest. And this sucks." Sirius jumped to his feet, stalking off. James stared after him.
"What crawled up his arse and died?"
Clarice laughed. "Nothing in a long while. I think that's his problem."
Night was falling. Remus sat on his bed with his knees pulled up to his chest, staring out the window at the starry blackness that unfolded and covered the sky outside. He felt out of place and quite miserable, and he longed for his bed at home, longed for the familiar scents of his own sheets and the pleasant murmur from the TV downstairs.
A bird called outside the window. A radio was playing somewhere. The room smelled sharply of some kind of disinfectant.
"The first night here is awful."
Remus turned to see Peter sitting down on the bed next to his, dressed in a terrible light-blue flannel pyjama. He obviously saw him staring, for he smiled a bit wryly. "I usually sleep naked, and that 'isn't what we do on the Healing Hands Centre'" He mimicked Umbridge's girly voice. "So I got to borrow this one. Ghastly, isn't it? I do look terrible in fair colours." He looked down on himself in distaste.
Remus didn't know what to say, so he just wrapped his arms tighter around his legs and bit his lip. Peter sighed. "Look, I'm sorry if I was a bit snappish today. It's not personal, I promise. It's just that I've heard enough of this latent heterosexuality mumbo-jumbo to last me a lifetime."
"But maybe it actually works…" Remus said, unable to keep the hope out of his voice. Peter shrugged.
"Well… That depends on if you actually think that there's something wrong with it."
"No." He looked up and met Remus' gaze steadily. "I seriously don't."
"But it's not… natural…"
"Should I tell you how many animals there are that have been documented to have homosexual behaviour? There is actually a whole species of apes where every individual is born as a bisexual. But either way, does it really matter?" He looked upset, and his voice was trembling as he spoke. "Does it matter if it's natural or not, as long as we don't hurt anyone? I mean, I know that I can come up with a dozen things right now that are more harmful than loving someone of the same sex."
Remus gaped, struck dumb by the sheer force of the anger and aggravation that for a moment saw a glimpse of in the other boy's eyes, that he heard hints of somewhere in his voice. Floundering wildly for something to say, he finally managed to mumble: "Well, maybe… maybe it's harmful for us… to be… well, like this…"
"You really are sweet as fcking pie, aren't you?" This time it was Severus speaking. He was standing in the doorway, sneering at Remus as if he found his very existence offensive. "You want to hear what's harmful, princess? Harmful is being locked up in this madhouse with that woman spouting psycho-babble at us all day long. Harmful is getting brainwashed every day until you actually believe that the only normal thing for a man to do is spitting, swearing, hitting things, passing air and grabbing you genitals. This thing is harmful." He held up something that looked embarrassingly much like a dildo. "Know what this is, princess? This is AVY. Aversion therapy. Every time you think naughty things about boys, you shock yourself with this." He pressed a button on the thing in his hand, and the end of it lit up with a buzzing sound. "A shocker. So every time you have those thoughts, you feel that pain." He smiled nastily.
Remus was shocked. "That is sick!"
"No pain, no gain" Severus said simply. "You want to stop liking dick? You better be prepared for a lot of pain." And with that, he disappeared into the bathroom.
Peter made a rude sound. "Really. He's such a charmer, don't you think?" He smiled wickedly at Remus. "Anyway, you shouldn't mind him. I mean, it's not like he uses that thing to cure himself."
"And what does he use it for?" Remus wondered.
"You're so innocent that it's sweet" Peter replied, and Remus got a feeling that he was laughing at him. "He uses it for pleasure. Didn't you listen today? The guy's a masochist. He likes pain. So if you hear some strange noises coming from his bed tonight, you'll know what it is."
Remus' look of utter confusion eventually turned into shock and revulsion, and he blushed so deeply that Peter had to hide a grin behind the palm of his hand. "You mean that he… that he… Oh, god…" He buried his face in his hands.
"Here. Earplugs." It was James. He threw two small, yellow cylinders over at Remus' bed. "It helps you keep your sanity intact."
"Only if you wear them when Umbridge is talking" Peter said. James raised his eyebrows, but didn't comment. "Me, I don't really mind those noises" Peter continued. "I mean… it's really quite hot."
Remus really wished that he hadn't heard that. Maybe he should keep those earplugs in the whole stay here? The thought was very, very tempting.
A/N: Okay, so I've stolen some lines from the movie, as you see. For example, I didn't come up with the "straight is great", nor the phrases that Sirius and Severus introduced themselves with. But I don't have the energy to point out every little quote I've used, so I won't. Deal with it.