To Do What's Right

By Emiko

Summary: The way we die should not really seem to matter, but, for one spirited boy living during the of war, the way he goes is everything.

Disclaimer. I own nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch.

Writer's Remarks: So this idea really just popped into my head for no reason. At first I was actually taking it in an entirely different direction, but then I left my computer to go play the piano and, when I came back, this emerged. I'm not sure how much I like it, but I've always loved James and Sirius' relationship as best friends. They make me happy.

Enjoy and please review!

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It was a rare moment that someone caught any of the self-proclaimed "Marauder's" being particularly serious (despite the second-in-command's name); they were usually found playing some prank or goofing off in class when they should be paying attention. So of course it came as a surprise when James Potter walked in the room to find his best friend staring deeply into the fire, as if looking for answers. And as if the fire could answer his questions.

It threw James off for a moment, seeing his friend so introspective. If anyone avoided that type of thing, it was Sirius. He wasn't usually one to think so deeply about the commiseration of life and all its pressing questions. He had gone through far too much trauma as a child to want to think about all of that.

And, besides, thinking about how much life really sucked never gave you a good laugh.

Staring at his feet, James wondered if he should just turn around and leave his friend to his thoughts, but looking back up at Sirius, he knew he couldn't do that. They were brothers of the art, and more importantly, best friends. Follow Marauders. And Marauders stood by each other at all times.

It was just that he had no idea what he could possibly say.

"Er, Sirius, mate?" he began uncertainly, as the corner of his heart that was unsure of how to sympathize with people begged him to turn and run. "You all right?"

A gasp issued from his best friend, and Sirius Black flipped himself around, staring up fearfully at James. He forced a smile, but it wasn't his usual one – the one that made girls drool and boys feel as though they were so much inferior. It was as though he couldn't figure out how to smile properly.

James frowned.

"All right, spill," the bespectacled boy order, crossing his arms over his chest. "What's wrong?" Sirius sighed and ran a hand through his unruly mane of black hair, deliberating.

"I – I don't know exactly," he finally said.

James rolled his eyes. "Well, that helps. Thanks, Pads."

"It's just that…" Sirius continued, seeming to ignore his friend's remark. "I've been…thinking a lot, lately."

James swallowed a comment about Sirius ever thinking. It wasn't the time or place. Even he, self-proclaimed Master of Practical Jokes, knew that.

After a moment's silence, Sirius continued, "Do you ever think about dying?"

James was rather thrown by the question. Where on earth was this coming from? Sirius wasn't one to talk about things like death and life. Unless he was joking around, of course. But, then again, James had learned in his past six year at Hogwarts that there was a first time for everything.

"Sometimes…I guess." He paused. "Why, worried about what comes after or something?" Sirius frowned.

"No, not really," he answered slowly. "It's more, the way I die. I mean…" He looked away then looked back up at James. "I don't want to go quietly, if you know what I mean. I…want to go down fighting – for what's right." James nodded.

"Yeah, me too," he assured Sirius, who seemed to be gaining more confidence as he continued.

"Because, if I do, then I'm not like my parents. If I go down doing what's right, then I don't ever have to be associated with them again," he exclaimed desperately, as if trying to convince himself.

It suddenly clicked for James.

Sirius was worried about being a hated Black all his life.

"Mate…" James trailed off. "Look, the way I see it, the world doesn't give shit what happens to your family. They could go jump off a cliff and no one would even notice. But you…there are people who love you Sirius, and when you're gone, we'll all miss you."

"I don't want to be like them…liars, traitors…it disgusts me that I'm related to them," Sirius confessed.

"I know," James answered. "But, your family doesn't shape who you are. You do. And if you want to fight for good and not evil, then you can choose that. And, no matter what happens, you'll always have friends who love you."

"Really?"

"Of course. After everything I've told you, I'd better be your best friend!" James exclaimed rather dramatically, thinking about the secrets he had told Sirius that he had made him swear would never be uttered to anyone. He shared everything with Sirius, from parchment in class to glasses of pumpkin juice during breakfast.

And he certainly wouldn't have it any other way.

Looking up, Sirius saw the truth in James' eyes. He was loved; he wasn't anything like his family and he vowed then and there that he never would be. He and his friend would forever be the four Marauders, no matter how old they got or what they did in like.

Because they were family. And that's what real family does.

Sirius broke out into a smile.

"Hey," he said, suddenly all seriousness lost. "Who says I'm gonna go first? I think it'll be you." James scoffed.

"No way, mate. My granddad lived to be ninety. I think you're gonna go first," James said.

"Now that I think about it, it'll probably be Peter," Sirius said. The two looked at each other then burst out laughing, Sirius falling back onto the couch as he did.

"Good times, mate, good times," he choked out, wiping tears off his face. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I've gotta go find a certain Josephine Marie." James grinned.

"Go have fun with your girlfriend," he teased as Sirius stood up to exit the room.

"She's not my girlfriend!" he exclaimed. James grinned.

"Not yet." Sirius rolled his eyes and began walking out of the room; just as he reached the door, however, he stopped and looked back at James.

"Prongs?" he asked, sounding a little uncertain.

"Yeah?"

"Thanks. For everything." And in a flash he was gone.

James sighed, running a hand through his hair. He did not like thinking about death, he decided. Too depressing for such a free spirit, I suppose. Rubbing his temples, he flopped down on the couch in an attempt to sleep.

"James," a familiar voice called. The sixteen-year-old boy looked up to find Lily Evans staring at him from the entrance to the girls' dormitory, a strange look in her bright green eyes. James grinned.

"Hey there, Evans. Finally come to beg me to go out with you?" he asked, smirking.

Lily ignored him. "That was…that was awfully good of you, to help Sirius like that. He's been needing it for quite a while." James shrugged.

"Yeah, well, we're brothers. We stick by each other. It's my job," he explained, smiling genuinely this time. That look in Lily's eyes hadn't gone away, but she frowned, appearing confused.

"I didn't know you could be so…decent," she said, mostly to herself. The smirk crept back onto James' face. He stood up.

"Yeah, well," he shrugged. "There's a first for everything, right?" Lily nodded absent-mindedly, apparently unable to wrap her head around the idea that James Potter could do anything "decent" at all.

"See you 'round, Lily," James said as he turned to head to the Great Hall, his stomach grumbling.

He had a funny feeling that Lily was having a "first" that he was going to like.