Seventh Year, just before Christmas.
"James, you can't be serious," An irritating voice came from behind his shoulder "I thought you were supposed to love this girl, you can't get her that…hideous abomination," The owner of the annoying voice finished by pointing at the rather alarming necklace with what looked like talons and a rats skull.
"Sod off, it's supposed to be lucky," James Potter peevishly answered his friend Sirius Black, who had been ever so kind as to accompany him jewellery shopping for Lily's Christmas gift.
"It won't be lucky if she beheads herself with one of those claws. You need to get something more…pricey."
"What's the point, she'll just assume it's cheap anyway."
"You need to have a little confidence in yourself James, in her," Sirius looked at him in what James' could only guess was supposed to be an imploring manner.
"Your suggestion then?"
"That one." Sirius answered without hesitation pointing at the glass showcase centred in the room.
James wondered how he had managed to miss the aforementioned necklace in the first place. Several lights were set up to shine upon the case and a constant waterfall of silver and gold confetti was falling around it and heaping on the carpet below.
"How much does it cost?"
"Doesn't matter," Sirius told him, light heartedly pulling it from the satin pillow and holding it up against James' own neck "Beautiful, you can borrow it off her too."
"Right," James answered wryly snatching it from him and thinking it would be worth buying it just so he could leave the shop.
As they walked (or in Sirius' case, strutted) towards the counter James stood for a moment to check the thick price tag decorated with gold leaf.
"You have got to be joking Sirius, I can't buy it!"
"I thought we'd had discussed this," Sirius told him, turning with a solemn look on his face "You're supposed to love her right?"
James scowled at him and the other boy broke out with a few short barks of laughter. With a sigh of disgust, James turned and strode resolutely towards the nearest serving witch.
Later that night, James was sitting in a comfortable armchair in front of the fire in the Gryffindor common room with Lily. He was marvelling at his own idiocy for even considering the 'lucky' necklace over the admittedly slightly over priced one currently residing in his trunk, when Lily stood up saying, "I have to go, prefect rounds."
James also stood up, slinking towards her with a predatory gleam in his eye that even Sirius would be proud of. Taking her by the arm, he leaned in and said, "Is that all the goodbye I get?"
Lily pushed him away but smiled. "Not in front of the First Years, James."
He pouted momentarily, and then brightened, saying knowingly, "You'll like me better after Christmas."
Lily looked interested. "Been shopping, have you?"
Smirking confidently, James replied, "You'll see."
Lily shook her head, rolling her eyes. Standing on her tiptoes, she kissed him swiftly on the cheek. "Goodnight James." She stepped away from him and moved across the Common Room, heading towards the Portrait Hole.
In turn, James whipped around, and bounded up the stairs to the Seventh Year boys dormitory.
Throwing open the door and beaming around the room his face faltered as he found Sirius alone and clawing desperately at the sheets on James' own bed.
"What are you doing?" He asked in a low, but more surprised than angry voice.
"Nothing!" Sirius shouted as he spun around and jumped off the mattress in one fluid movement.
James gave him a suspicious look as his friend leaned casually against the wall.
"Fine, but in future keep away from my…territory," He told him with a furrowed brow as he struggled to think of the right word to use in the situation.
Sirius waved a dismissive hand and James collapsed down spread eagle on to the recently vacated bed letting out a loud sigh of contentment.
"What are you so happy about?" Sirius asked gruffly.
"What else?" James told him in a rather airy voice "Lily is ever the perfect woman and she…" He broke off sighing again.
Sirius interrupted the silence with a snort.
"Good for you James," He said sounding distracted.
"You right mate?" James asked sitting up and resting on his elbow so he face him properly. He gave his friend a mischievous grin in an attempt to lighten his mood "You're not jealous are you?"
"Of course not, I'm happy for you. I have to go and see Remus," He said in a slightly troubled voice as he strode across the dorm towards the exit. He turned and gave James a weak smile before closing the door.
A flicker of worry adorned James' face a for a moment before he fell backwards onto the bed again with a dazed smile and imagined the expression on Lily's face come Christmas morning.
At breakfast the next day, James found himself sitting in between Remus and Sirius, slightly disappointed that Lily wasn't there, but consoling himself with a large piece of bacon.
He choked on it however when Sirius leaned over and grasped his knee. Spitting out his food, James turned with horrified eyes to his friend. Sirius looked at him with a panicked and somewhat afraid expression.
"Sirius, what-?" James started
"We're mates, right? We'll always be mates?"
James gaped; feeling incredibly uncomfortable, he tried to think of something to say, while ignoring the hand still resting upon his knee.
"Nothing will change that right?"
James nodded dumbly, as Sirius squeezed his knee in what appeared to be apprehension.
"You're sure?" Sirius leaned in close to him with wide eyes.
"S-sure." James answered uncertainly, quickly leaning away until his back hit Remus' shoulder.
Sirius smiled at him, "Good, good. Excellent." James sighed in relief as the pressure on his knee disappeared and Sirius turned back to his breakfast with vigour, stealing a mushroom from Peter's plate, which was beside his own.
James however, no longer had any appetite and left early for his first class.
Despite his rolling stomach, his spirits were lifted when he spotted Lily amongst a group of chattering girls. When she saw him, she broke away and came over to him, smiling widely.
"Hi James." Her brow furrowed slightly, "You're early, what happened, Sirius get to the bacon before you?"
He flinched slightly at the mention of his friend's name, but decided to play it cool. "Nah. Couldn't keep away from the lures of Charms." James looked down at her. "One in particular."
She flushed slightly and turned away to hide it. "You're such an idiot sometimes." She muttered.
James congratulated himself on distracting her. Spotting Sirius coming towards them, he ushered her into the classroom, sitting down in the aisle seat of one row with Lily beside him. This was to make sure there could be no repeat of what had happened at breakfast.
James watched his friend from the corner of his eye and tried not to panic when Sirius stood in the classroom doorframe and gave him a slightly remorseful look. Without the distraction of getting his books out, James sat rigidly in his seat staring at the blackboard.
He was aware of Sirius making a slow and deliberate approach towards where he was sitting and couldn't help but gulp nervously. He tried to reassure himself with the fact that there was no way he could possibly sit next to him and continue with his…knee groping tactics this class at least.
Sirius strutted purposefully along the row of desks without looking at him before turning at the end, and consequently, James' desk. James felt his jaw clench for a moment until he had passed. Before he could even let out a sigh of relief however Sirius gave him a few firm pats on his shoulder.
"I'll be right behind you mate."
James flinched and let out an involuntary shudder that didn't escape Lily's notice.
She eyed him intently. "James? What's wrong?"
James looked at her, trying to decide if he should in fact tell her what was worrying him. At that moment he caught Sirius grinning at him, and almost shuddered again.
"It's just…Nothing. Nothing, I'm fine."
Lily raised an eyebrow. "Are you sure?" James suddenly felt a hand on his knee, stroking gently. His eyes widened and he had to work hard to keep a squeal of terror from escaping him.
Lily continued, "You can tell me. What's the matter?"
Unable to endure the flashbacks of breakfast any longer, James jumped out of his chair, shoving Lily's hand away from his knee. "I told you, nothing's wrong!"
She gaped up at him with a hurt expression. He opened his mouth to apologise but she stood up quickly, her arms crowded with belongings.
"Fine," She snarled in what James found an alarmingly ferocious manner before she strode away from the table to join her friends in one of the back rows. He watched her retreating form ruefully for a moment before he fell back into his chair, slapping his palm to his forehead and letting out a groan.
Sirius was by his side so quickly James could do nothing but come to the conclusion he had jumped over his desk in his hurry to take over Lily's now empty seat.
"What happened?" He asked in an uncharacteristically concerned voice. James resisted the urge to shout at him, clenching his fist around the edge of the desk and letting out a hiss of annoyance instead.
"Nothing," He answered with what he assumed was a slightly crazed look on his face.
"It's okay James, we all have trouble with women at some stages in our life, but the thing is-"
"Sirius, just…" Unable to think of a suitable end to his threat, James made a slight chopping motion through the air with one hand.
"You look a bit pale; maybe you should go to the Hospital Wing for a while."
"You know what, mate?" James spat vehemently, "That's the most appropriate suggestion you've had all day."
"Good! I can take you! Then we can both skive off!" Sirius answered cheerfully, apparently unaffected as James openly glared at him.
"No, I'm sure I can manage myself," He said sweeping his class things back into his bag. James gave his friend a look of horror as Sirius rose, yanking the bag from his hands and slinging it over his own shoulder. He then leaned down, and placing a hand under either of his elbows, hauled James into a standing position too.
"You okay?" Sirius asked, clearly intending to carry his bag for him.
James had actually been driven to shouting as he struggled to retrieve his bag from his friends clutches, pulling angrily at the strap, before falling backwards and toppling over his chair. His bag went flying and landed somewhere to his left down the aisle. Most of the class was looking at him worriedly and he sat up quickly, pushing his glasses back up his nose before Sirius had the idea of trying to help him up. It seemed like the kind of thing his friend might try at the moment.
Gathering up his belongings once more, he stalked towards the door, aware of the wary glances he was being given.
Leaving the hospital wing at the end of the day, (Madam Pomfrey had insisted on keeping him for what he considered an inordinate amount of time) James found himself pondering Sirius' strange behaviour.
It was almost as if…No. No, as gay as his friend acted sometimes, he wasn't actually…that way. Even if he was, James would have been the first to know. Or maybe Remus.
No. Sirius was just being idiotic, James assured himself. He decided to forgive him. After all, Sirius was his best mate; he would stick with him through…whatever.
James suppressed another shudder. With a resolved set to his shoulders, James set off for the Gryffindor Common Room. He would apologise to Sirius...Well, talk to him at least, and…
Lily. He had to talk to Lily. This time he didn't try to suppress the fear that ran through him at the thought.
A few minutes later, James found himself at the Portrait Hole. He climbed through the tunnel after giving the password to the Fat Lady, and gazed around the room.
The sight that met his eyes was not the one he expected. There were two figures standing in front of the fire separated only by one of the tables.
They were arguing loudly and looked to be almost to the stage where blows would be exchanged despite the fact that one was significantly shorter than the other.
In fact, James considered on further inspection as he viewed the scene with amusement, still in a good mood from his earlier contemplations, one was a girl. James suppressed a nervous chuckle as he wondered if he'd soon be facing off with Lily in the same manner when he tried to speak to her.
James looked again, taking note of the alarming details that eventually melded together and realisation hit. The scene was a bit too close to how it would look, apparently seeing as one of the figures was Lily and the other resembled him quite closely…Sirius.
He paused for a moment then charged forwards. It appeared he was too late as Lily stormed towards him.
"Next time, come and face me yourself instead of setting your little marauder buddies on me," Lily hissed at him making sure she hit his shoulder as she pushed past.
She had disappeared into the midst of a group of consoling friends before he could turn around and attempt to make amends, or even find out what was happening or which crime he had supposedly committed this time.
He turned to Remus who was making himself scarce behind a book. The smaller boy only shook his head and indicated back towards Sirius, who was leaning against one side of the mantle piece above the fire looking quite content with himself and his surroundings.
James stalked over glowering.
"What did you say to her?"
"Pretty much what you just said to me," Sirius answered serenely.
"What?" James asked with a furrowed brow, wondering if Sirius was trying to confuse him or just plain trying to dodge the question.
"I was trying to find out what she did to upset you so much this morning."
James stared at him for a long moment.
"What are you talking about!? What she did to me!? I was the one that upset her!"
"James, that has to have been the first time I've ever heard you say that a fight with Lily was your fault."
"Well it was this time!"
"Are you sure she wasn't just overreacting? You know…women…"
"I'm sure Sirius! Give me a bit of credit when it comes to judgement with my own girlfriend! What do you think you're doing, going up and attacking her like that!?"
"Attacking her!" Sirius seemed to take a breath to calm himself which only worked to confuse James further. "I'm just looking out for you."
James gave him an incredulous look and tried to walk away, but Sirius grabbed his arm and held him in place.
"What are you doing?!" James shouted at him not far from fainting in a panicked fit as Sirius looked at him critically.
"It's always been…friends over girls for us James, right?"
"Right," James answered shakily, suddenly wishing he was safely back in the Hospital Wing having a potion shoved forcefully down his throat.
"You wouldn't ever…" Sirius gave a slight shrug as though he didn't know what exactly he was asking, but expected James to figure it out himself, "Because of Lily."
"What are you talking about? You were the one who was going on about how much I was supposed to fawn over her in the jewellery shop."
Sirius averted his gaze and looked at the carpet.
"Things have…changed since the Jewellery shop, James."
An interrupting cough came from the chair where Remus was seated, and James turned to see Peter, and half the common room watching them. As soon as he met their gazes they turned back to whatever they had been doing a bit too suddenly to successfully feign innocence.
He wrenched himself out of Sirius grasp and half ran, half stormed back towards the dormitories.
Pounding up the stairs, he barged through the open door and flung it closed so hard that it bounced back and hit the wall forcefully.
Several minutes passed, punctuated only by the sounds of James angry pacing and heavy breathing. Finally, James threw himself down on his bed and punched the pillow to make himself feel better.
This had little success in comparison to how much better he would feel after punching Sirius a few times. Why they hadn't started exchanging blows like normal, and his friend's efforts to calm himself down was beyond James.
In fact, the thought of punching Sirius in his perfectly sculpted aristocratic nose was overpowering, and James jumped up and was almost at the door when Remus appeared and, grabbing him by the shoulders pushed him back into the room.
Remus shut the door calmly, before he turned to look at James with a solemn expression. James immediately felt guilty.
"Remus?" James asked hesitantly.
"Sit down James." Remus answered. James complied instantly, dropping down on the nearest bed. Remus sat down next to him. "Now, you know Sirius would never do anything to intentionally hurt you, don't you?"
"Uh…yeah." James replied, confused. "Did he send you up here to talk to me?"
Remus looked down, and then said "Well, in a sense, yes I suppose he did." He paused, glancing back up at James sternly. "Before I give you this, you have to promise not to overreact."
James just nodded dumbly, beyond confusion, and indeed, normal speech. Remus reached into his pocket and slowly pulled out a piece of parchment. Gently, he handed it to James. He went to take it, but his earlier thoughts on his way back from the Hospital Wing resurged into head. 'Even if he was, James would have been the first to know…Or Remus…" James froze halfway to taking the note from Remus. He folded his hands back into his lap.
"Remus? Has Sirius mentioned anything…important to you lately?"
Remus quickly looked away from him again. "Maybe you should just read the note James, I'm sure Sirius can explain everything." He dropped the note in James' lap and got up. "Don't be too hard on him James; he's a bit confused about how to handle this. Just remember he means well." Remus gave him a comforting smile and left the room again.
James looked down at the envelope in his hands as if it were something dangerous. Knowing Sirius that might not be too far from the truth either. With one finger he flipped it over and acknowledged his name printed with care just below the fold.
James took a deep breath. He knew he was being ridiculous really. Sirius was his most trusted friend. He was like a brother…nothing else. What was the worst that this little, insignificant piece of parchment could say? Perhaps something like "James mate, I've been meaning to tell you, I'm actually gay."
James slapped himself to try and vanquish such thoughts before cautiously peeling open the note.
"James, we need to talk. Actually, I need to tell you something, as soon as possible. Tonight probably. I'll be in our transfiguration classroom. Just come when you can okay?"
Maybe it could be that bad. Steeling himself, he got up and purposefully strode out of the dormitory.
He walked right past Remus, who gave him a concerned look, but did not move to stop him. James was not about to abandon Sirius because of a little thing like his…orientation, and he planned to tell Sirius that.
When James found himself at the door to the Transfiguration Classroom, he pushed it open determinedly. Sirius was sitting on a desk next to the window studying his hands carefully. Without hesitation, James crossed to his friend and pulled him up off the desk and into an embrace. Sirius let out a small gasp of surprise but it was quickly muffled in James' shoulder.
"It's okay, Sirius, it doesn't matter, we can still be friends…I'm sorry this must have been so hard for you, and I was acting like an insensitive prat." At this, James gave him a few comforting pats on the back. Sirius stood very still at this, before suddenly beginning to shake violently. It sounded like he was suddenly sobbing when he pushed James forcefully backwards.
"What the hell are you on about?" Sirius cackled, apparently not in tears after all.
"Well," Here, James struggled to find a way to put what he wanted to say eloquently, instead of just blurting it out. "You're gay mate!"
"James, come on, it's me we're talking about."
"But, you... I just thought lately you've been so…"
"Nice?" Sirius asked hopefully.
"I wouldn't exactly put it that way."
"Oh. Well, about that anyway…"
"It's like this James. Your invisibility cloak.."
"That you keep in your trunk…"
"On top of the necklace you got for Lily."
"Well, if one was to say, quickly whip the cloak out from said trunk, it could be assumed that other items stored below it, in a, may I say lovely gilded box, could also fly out and consequently hit the wall and…shatter, rather spectacularly, showering your bedcover with glittering shards??"
"Hypothetically speaking, of course!"
"Sirius, I'll be extremely disappointed if I have to punch you right now..."
Sirius took several hasty steps backwards. "Mate, we are friends, you agreed to that, right?"
James advanced menacingly. "I-I mean, it's always mates over girls, for us, remember? James?" Sirius gave him a friendly punch on the shoulder. His attempt to lighten the mood was ineffective.
"What did you do to Lily?"
"Nothing!" James took another step forward. "Well, nothing directly!"
"Then what did you do indirectly, exactly?"
"Well, actually James, it directly involves you!" Sirius laughed; somewhat forcibly James was pleased to notice.
"Get on with it."
"Well, to put it bluntly…I sort of broke the necklace. Lily's necklace."
James stared at him without expression.
Sirius snapped his fingers in front of James' face. "You know, I was shopping with you? It cost-"
"I know." Sirius blanched. "Show it to me. Now."
Sirius withdrew a small taped up package from his pocket. "Well, this is part of it…"
James extended his hand, and took the package. "The rest?" Sirius handed a fine gold string with several shards hanging from it.
"Really James, it's not as bad as it loo-Oh, careful there!" Sirius stepped back rapidly, avoiding the fist aimed at his nose. "You almost got me there, mate!"
"It's ruined…You ruined it…EVERYTHING'S RUINED!!!"
"Now, James, mate, you need to calm down."
Sirius was in very real danger of being throttled when the classroom door swung open slowly.
"Whoever is in there, you need to go back to your common room." Lily Evans voice drifted into the classroom from the hallway. She came fully into the room. "Oh, it's you two. I thought it was a couple of first year girls."
"Lily!" Sirius ducked under James' arms and scuttled over to her.
"Whats wro-James, what is that?" She walked over to him and stared down at the shattered necklace. "Oh, it's beautiful, it's so- oh, it's broken."
"AND GUESS WHO BROKE IT?"
Sirius cowered behind Lily.
"Is that what you're so upset about? You two are such idiots. This can be fixed with just a charm." Lily pulled out her wand, and waved it carefully. The necklace in James' hand repaired itself to its former gold glittering glory.
Both Sirius and James stared at it in awe for a moment, before James strode forward to Lily and said in marvel, "That was…brilliant!"
"Pure genius!" Sirius added.
"You both realize that we learnt that in First Year, don't you?"
They both coughed nervously.
"Well, no harm done then! Looks like you were going to break my nose for nothing! Eh?"
James stared at him with eyeebrows raised. "There is the small matter of you groping my knee and putting me off my breakfast…And what were you doing rifling through my trunk for my cloak, anyway?"
"Come on James, you didn't really take any of that the wrong way did you? I was trying to be nice! Show a little affection! Eh? Eh? James? Right? JAMES?"
A/N: Nut2: Well, that was fun and a half…This is the closest you're probably going to see of any sort of update for a long time…eh heh…
Nut1: You would not believe how long this took us to write…I'm talking months here. Months. Well, here it is, hope you liked it! Now, both Nut 2 and I have to go plan our English Literature essays, (scintillating topic, of course!) so please make our day and review!!!