Sticks & Stones

A HariPo oneshot

by mew-tsubaki

Note: The Harry Potter characters belong to J.K. Rowling, not me. Another little something that came to mind, since so many of my FFN buddies are all, "James/Remus? REMUS/SIRIUS FOREVER!" I guess this explains a little bit of why I've come to love Jamus…? Anyway, we've got both pairings here again. Read, review, and enjoy!

- ^-^3

Sirius Black had always thought of himself as an excellent liar. However, when faced with Remus Lupin, Sirius floundered as much as any other person.

"You were hitting on Joaquin Wood in Charms," Remus repeated for the third time. "He didn't even seem interested in that way, but he had no problem flirting back. It's because he's a terrible flirt—just like I thought you'd once been, Sirius."

"Rem…" Sirius ran a hand through his shaggy hair, a bad habit of his that Remus allowed because Remus had always loved his long, silky hair—one reason why Sirius kept it long. The elder Black brother heaved a sigh. "Remus, I'm sorry."

"I don't even see why I bother," Remus said. He'd intended to sound snippy, but the hurt leaked into his tone. His cheeks flushed and he turned away, focusing on a point on the far wall of the common room.

Sirius leaned back, his back pressing against Remus' side as they lounged on the scarlet couch. "You bother because you're too good a person to leave. And I'm such a…"

"Git?" Remus offered.

"You don't have to call me names, Moony."

The brunette snorted. "I'm allowed to hurt, but not make any remarks about it, then?"

"Damn it, that's not what I meant," Sirius hissed, sitting up. He rubbed his shoulders. "And while we're at it, you have…have…bony—ribs!"

"Bony ribs?" Remus quirked an eyebrow. "Really?"

Sirius grimaced and gave him a glare. "You know, maybe I flirt because you're too much of a know-it-all sometimes."

Remus shut up.

Sirius felt it inside; he knew what his words would do to Remus, but—for him—they were a release, because it felt as though he was never allowed to speak his true feelings about that aspect of Remus' personality. "Actually, I think that's exactly it. You know what hanging out with the Marauders means. You'll…You'll always be top dog when surrounded by us. James and I may come up with most of the pranks, but you know the mechanics of them and people and places and argh, it gets so infuriating sometimes when the look in your eyes is that of a bloody Slytherin!" He huffed, feeling a little more excited than he'd intended. He turned away and stared at the fire. "Wood's smart, too, but he…he doesn't rub people's noses in it. Especially in the subtle ways you do."

Remus remained silent, the book on his lap forgotten. He twiddled his thumbs, his eyes focusing on his fingernails and his fingernails only.

It felt like ages before Sirius tipped backwards as Remus stood. The werewolf shut his book and headed upstairs. "Goodnight, Padfoot," drifted down the staircase, and Sirius immediately felt ashamed. He didn't deserve a good night, not a good night at all.

- ^-^3

When Sirius finally made his way up to bed—about two hours after Remus, to give the younger one ample time to fall asleep without having to face Sirius again—he dragged his feet. He could feel that they both had points…and he didn't know whose was better… But he did know that, yeah, he'd been wrong to look at another.

It'd taken him so long to say anything to Remus—they were in their sixth year, and Sirius had only confessed to Remus at the end of third. Now, just a little bit, it was starting to feel as though things had been in vain. Sirius loved Remus so much that he was sure if Remus—if Remus was ever harmed by one of them (and damn it, if Regulus really leans anymore towards their parents' poison, Sirius wouldn't hesitate to take down his own brother in the face of his true love), he'd mentally snap…and probably die.

Yep, it was possible to love someone that much.

Sirius changed and glanced over at the closed hangings at Remus' four-poster. He looked at James, who was up polishing the handle of his broom. "Remus…?" Sirius asked.

James shrugged. "Give him some time, mate. He always bounces back. It's what we love about him."

"Yeah…" And Sirius climbed into bed, not really thinking about James' exact words.

- ^-^3

Sirius supposed that "some time" would probably be the next couple of days that passed, but he had to have James and Peter keep him in check when a month passed and he and Remus had still not reconciled. The tension in the Shrieking Shack didn't help, but Sirius told himself that even if they weren't anything romantic anymore he would still be there as his best mate. Monthly transformations were not something one had to suffer alone.

"But this is getting tiresome," Sirius spat under his breath when almost another month went by. He angrily looked at James, who was watching him across the lunch table. "What?"

James frowned. "What did you say to him, Padfoot? He's…" He scrunched up his nose, as though his next statement were something that tasted bad. "He's broken, Merlin!"

Sirius frowned, as well. "Don't you think I kinda know that, Prongs? I…" He tore his piece of toast to bits. "I saw his face that night."

"Could you pass the jam?" Peter asked, and James gave Peter the jar. The conversation didn't resume.

In Transfiguration the next period, Sirius paired up with Lily and James sat beside Remus. It was and wasn't a surprise to the Animagus; James, sure, would've loved to have been partners with Lily, but he was busy trying to fix Sirius' and Remus' friendship, Sirius was sure.

… Sirius once remembered Regulus telling him that "assume" makes an "ass" out of "u" and "me."

- ^-^3

When Remus was well on his way to letting a third month pass without apologies, Sirius took James aside.

"Don't push me around, Padfoot," James griped. "I've nothing new to tell you. Remus has… He's been using the cloak to go out and clear his mind," the Chaser finally said. "And may I remind you that I'm not your personal spy, but your mate, mate?"

Sirius' temper lessened. "He isn't… You know, seeing someone else, is he?"

"He's been using the cloak to clear his mind, Sirius," James repeated. "Now if you'd please let go of my jumper. I've got Quidditch practice."

"Yeah, all right." Sirius sniffed and released James, watching him retreat down the corridor. Then Sirius headed to the dormitories.

If Remus really was using the cloak to get the chance to sort his thoughts, then Sirius should've been able to spot him on the map wherever he finally removed the cloak. If Sirius could tail Remus long enough to get an idea of where he headed every night and then follow him on the map…maybe it'd give them the chance to patch things up.

Sirius gave Peter a Chocolate Frog to distract him while he took the Marauder's Map from James' things. Now he just had to wait until the night fell and Remus left.

- ^-^3

…well, if Sirius hadn't regretted anything before, he sorely did now.

When the lamps went out and the others "fell asleep," Sirius drew his blankets over his head and waited to hear rustling from someone else leaving. Around fifteen minutes after dark had descended, Sirius heard the telltale signs of someone creeping out of the dorm. He waited for the door to shut before hopping out of bed and quietly tearing after the culprit.

Sirius was so intent on not losing Remus that he'd forgotten the map under his pillow. He cursed himself once, when he was halfway through the castle, for only then had he realized his absentmindedness. However, he felt optimistic. Remus was not doing a very good job of muffling the sounds of his footsteps underneath the Invisibility Cloak tonight, so there was little doubt Sirius would lose track of him.

It didn't faze him when they left the castle. As the Marauders, they did that on a nearly nightly basis…or, at least, they once had. Their group had been somewhat affected by the problems between the two. Just goes to show you that you ought never to fall for one of your best friends, Sirius silently groaned, kicking himself.

Outside, it was freezing, and Sirius fought his shivers as best he could. He heard Remus rush down the side of the hill and—ah, yeah, go figure. Sirius knew this route well. Remus was going to travel under the Whomping Willow and head to the Shrieking—

Sirius' eyes must've been playing tricks on him. Remus was already under the canopy of the Whomping Willow, staring out at the water of the Black Lake, where the crescent moon's light reflected off its surface.

But if Remus was already there, then who was…?

Sirius bit his tongue to mute himself as James threw off the cloak and sat down beside Remus. Two conflicting emotions rose up in the Black son: elation, that James would go this far to repair their relationship…and jealousy, that maybe there was a reason James had not been chasing after Lily so much since last year.

"He asleep?" Sirius heard Remus ask.

"Yeah…," James replied. "Just… Agh, just have a civil conversation with him, Remus. Sirius is pigheaded, but he's a softie. You know that."

A silent beat passed. "James… Am I really that bad a—a 'know-it-all'?"

James laughed. "Remus, you are—"

Sirius tensed. How could James have said it so lightly? It bothered Sirius so much that Remus acted that way and—

"—but it makes you, you, Remus. I don't think Sirius would really want you to change that part of you." He sighed as Remus leaned on his shoulder. "I wouldn't. But then again, we're not talking about me, are we?"

Sirius almost breathed a sigh of relief. It didn't sound as though James and Remus were… He shook his head. It was just an impossible thought. Everyone could see Sirius and Remus attached at the hip, or Sirius and James (in the platonic way). But James and Remus? They just didn't work. Not as anything but mates.

"Wrap the cloak around you," James coddled. "It's freezing out here. I don't understand how you can stand it out here."

"It helps me think."

"Yeah, that's what I told Padfoot."

Remus frowned at James. "Have you been reporting everything to him, Prongs?"

"Not everything," James replied honestly. "But he worries about you…about the two of you."

Remus paused again. "James, I… Well, I think you know what I want to say."

"…yeah," James stated, a bit of sadness in his tone. "Same here, actually, but I…I'm a tad scared of actually saying it. It changes everything, you know."

The werewolf pulled the cloak around him tighter, but also drew it tighter around James, and they were much too close for Sirius' comfort. "Why… How could you say that you wouldn't change the 'know-it-all' part of me when it infuriates Sirius?"

James rested his cheek on Remus' head, and sighed to hide another chuckle that had risen in his throat. "Remus, you're the brains, Peter's the brawn…and stupidity, Sirius is the brashness and the brooding, and… Me? Well, Sirius is the carefree one. I'm the caring one, I s'pose. And the observant one. I…" He turned to look at Remus, who looked up. "You're a lot of fun to watch, Remus."

He said it with the kind of smile that even Sirius wanted to forgive, but it hurt to watch his love crane his neck upwards so his could kiss his best mate's lips.

James broke it off, another small chuckle in his voice. "Yeah…those were the words I was afraid of saying."

"You said it changes everything," Remus echoed from earlier.

"It does," Sirius said, finally making his presence known. Remus turned with a fright, but James met his gaze head on. "Thanks a lot, guys. Good to know you still think of me, Moony. Great to know you're on my side, Prongs."

Remus frowned, but he faced Sirius. "It was something akin to unexpected, Sirius…but…but…no, I'm not sorry."

James' steady gaze said it all. "I think you know I wasn't going to say 'sorry' either."

"But you lied to me!" Sirius cried, feeling hopeless as they—to an extent—rallied against him.

James shook his head. "I told you we loved him, mate. I never explicitly said he was or wasn't seeing anyone. All I said was that he was hurt and trying to clear his mind. And yeah, I did loan him my cloak for his own, personal time several times before. So don't go thinking 'trysts,'" James added when Sirius opened his mouth to protest.

Sirius gritted his teeth. "Fine, then. If you two will be so happy, then you don't need me." He turned on his heel and stomped back into the castle, ignoring the sound of Remus going to James' open arms. Sirius was hot under the collar as he entered the common room and found himself staring at the fire once again.

Sirius once remembered Regulus telling him that "assume" makes an "ass" out of "u" and "me." But he also recalled a taunt of his little brother's from when they were younger:

"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me…"

Bullshit, Regulus. Bullshit.

- ^-^3

:O Wow. Completely different from how I'd first imagined it to be, but I actually really love it. Even the Regulus parts! Haha, cameo, in a way.

It's so true, though. Sirius is quick to lose his cool, but I get the feeling that James really is the observant one. Ahh, my lovely Jamus… -w-

Thanks for reading and please review!

-mew-tsubaki :3