James Potter is in love with Regulus Black.
James Potter was not stupid. He knew how he felt, when he felt, and why he felt it.
But why did his feelings have to be so confusing? And so completely out of left field?
Sirius Black was James' best friend. He couldn't feel this way, not about Regulus, not about a Slytherin.
James had argued with himself. He'd spent long nights telling himself that this was not the way to go, this was not the way to be. If he wanted to be…well, if he wanted to be gay that was one thing.
But Sirius Black's brother? Regulus Black was in Slytherin House! He was in a 'bad crowd.' He was a Black, for goodness' sake. Sirius had said on multiple occasions that every single Black but him was the scum of the earth.
Now here James was, in History of Magic class, which was shared with the Slytherins, staring across the room at a head of black hair that reminded him so much of Sirius it was creepy. But the face attached to the hair…and the eyes…the eyes that wrenched James' heart out…
Before he knew what he was doing, James was tapping Sirius on the shoulder. Sirius lifted his head from his desk.
"I was getting my beauty sleep," he mumbled, and James just stared at him. His eyes were definitely just like Regulus's. "What the bloody hell are you doing, mate?" Sirius asked, slightly more awake now as he saw James peering dreamily into his eyes. "Hey, snap out of it!" He flew a hand in front of James' face, which made the latter jump.
"Oh, sorry." James turned his head in the opposite direction so Sirius wouldn't see the crimson on his cheeks.
"Oh, James, you want to go out to the pitch after this and do some practice loops…noticed you almost fell off last time…" Sirius casually changed the conversation, already likely forgetting the dreamy staring.
James nodded, still not looking at Sirius. He couldn't tell Sirius. His best mate…he didn't even know that James was gay!
But James didn't know how much longer he could hide his feelings.
It was a beautiful day outside, and as Sirius pushed open the oak front doors, the sunlight streamed through them, casting an iridescent light on the entrance hall. The stone floor appeared to shine, and James stared down at it, transfixed. His broomstick hung limp at his side, and he looked at the light, and thought of Regulus.
"What is wrong with you, mate?" Sirius asked, turning around and seeing James standing stock still. This was completely out of character for James, who was normally a ball of energy and never stood still for longer than was absolutely necessary.
"I may be coming down with something," James said quickly. "It's nothing, probably just a cold or…something." He sniffed for effect, knowing that Sirius didn't buy it.
Sirius shook his head but chose to ignore it. He started down the grounds toward the Quidditch Pitch, James following him lost in thought.
"What do you think about your brother?" James blurted as the two passed the Black Lake.
Sirius didn't miss a beat. "I think he's a slimy little Death Eater snot ball, why?"
"No reason, just thought he looked a lot like you. Kind of funny how much you hate him but how alike you two are…" James realized he'd said the wrong thing just a moment too late.
Sirius had pulled out his wand and rounded on James. "What. Animal. Do. You. Become." he said through clenched teeth.
"A stag," James replied calmly. "I'm not cursed."
Sirius still had his wand pointed at James' chest. "What animal do I become?"
"Ask another then."
"Remus? He's an Animagi too, correct?"
"Then what is he?"
"That's easy too."
"Then you shouldn't have asked."
"Where did you and I meet?"
"Bathroom. First year. First night of term. Peter took a rather loud dump and you and I were laughing at him."
Sirius studied James. "Well, you seem to be…you…" He narrowed his eyes. "But I'm watching you, Potter."
"Sirius! C'mon, what makes you think I'm cursed?"
"'Kind of funny how much you hate him but how alike you two are.'" Sirius mocked James' voice. "Honestly? You think he's anything like me? The boy is a Death Eater… or will be in a year or two."
James rolled his eyes. "I was just commenting on what I thought. I didn't really mean it that way, you know that I hate every Slytherin just as much as you do." As he said this, his heart pounded in his chest and he wanted to burst right out with it.
"Good." Sirius continued walking, but he still held his wand. "Are you going to ask Lily Evans to the Spring Ball this year?"
"Ignoring all past rejections?" James faked a laugh. "Not a chance." He looked up at an owl circling high overhead. How long could he pretend to be fascinated with Lily before Sirius found out? Sirius was one of the most clever wizards in their year. It wouldn't be long…
"I've just got to say," Sirius said around a mouthful of jelly doughnut the next morning in the great Hall. "You're weird, James. I've known you for how many years now and you've never once mentioned that you share my affinity for jelly doughnuts." He swallowed. "Weird."
"Right," James agreed, staring at the Slytherin table where Regulus was eating a jelly doughnut. "Just never quite had time to eat them. But I decided…why not?" He smiled what he hoped was a believable smile.
"Yeah, well, that's weird." Sirius clapped James on the shoulder. "There is always a way to eat what you want. You just let me know if you ever feel undernourished as far as jelly doughnuts go, I know where there's a supply in the kitchen, we can throw on the invisibility-"
"Sirius?" Remus had interrupted his friend from where he sat on the other side of James. He held a finger to his lips. "Shh."
"Oh, sorry, I mean, we could ask the house elves to let us in, honestly, Remus, so uptight." Sirius looked at his watch and balked. "Oh! Gotta go. Charms, you know. You coming, James? Or should I tell her you're sick or something so you can eat whatever you have been holding out on all this time?" Sirius winked and turned away.
He ran straight into his brother.
The two stared at each other with identical expressions of loathing. "Regulus," Sirius nodded.
"Sirius." Regulus also nodded. "Long time. No talk."
"That wasn't an accident," Sirius said coldly. "You proved where your loyalties lie last summer. I'll live with the Potters this summer and then after seventh year…" He looked up to the enchanted ceiling. "Aren't you bored yet? Go away?"
"No, actually, hearing your, er, plans, is fascinating." Regulus sidestepped Sirius and looked to James. "Your parents are in on this plan?"
James blinked. Keep it together, Potter. Keep it together. "What plan?" he asked, decidedly not 'together.'
Regulus rolled his eyes. "The company you keep, brother, is truly depressing." He didn't look at Sirius as he said this. Instead his brown eyes watched James, who was blushing fiercely and whose eyes were trained on his hands. "The plan of Sirius moving in with you lot?" The way he said 'you lot' made James simultaneously angry and happy. 'You lot.' That could be a good thing, right?
"Of course, my parents love Sirius, that'll be fine." James finally looked into Regulus' eyes. "Why wouldn't it be?"
Regulus, noticing this strange behavior and slowly connecting the dots, rounded slowly on Sirius.
"May I have a word, Sirius?" he asked politely, and immediately grabbed Sirius' arm and led him, struggling, away.
"Why did you never tell me that your little friend is gay?" he demanded.
"Who? Peter? Oh, he's not gay, he's just-"
"Not Peter," Regulus growled. "Potter."
"Potter? James? James Potter?" Sirius repeated, laughing. "Gay? You are out of your mind. I knew it, of course, after you told mum and dad that you-"
"I'm not out of my mind, he is. Out of his mind with love."
"For who? The only person James loves, everyone knows, is Lily Evans." Sirius was leaning against the wall, highly amused.
"Me." Regulus scowled. "Are you blind?"
"What the bloody hell?" Sirius asked, standing up. "Why would you say that?"
"Because, brother, he obviously wasn't anywhere near coming out. Thought I'd speed the process along a little bit, you know, give it a nudge…I just can't stand to see yet another of our nation's minorities mistreated!" Regulus was smirking, sarcasm dripping from his voice.
Sirius stared. "Where did you get that idea? Why would you say something like that? What is stopping me from killing you right now?"
"Sirius!" A shout came from behind Sirius, who whirled immediately, panic-stricken.
It was only James and Remus.
"James, Remus, I thought you were Dumbledore or somebody! Scared the bloody-" Sirius stopped when he saw how James was looking at Regulus.
His stare was intense, like he was trying to practice legimancy on the younger boy. There was something else, though, something different from the way Remus looked. Remus had ice in his stare, anger, hatred for the other Black son. But James…James had a fire in his eyes that wasn't fueled by that hatred, that anger.
"James, I think we need to talk," Sirius said, stepping between Regulus and James.
"What?" James asked, snapping back to reality. His gaze drifted sideways, trying to peer around Sirius.
"A word. Please. Privately." When James didn't respond, Sirius took a step forward. "Now."
"I'm straight, why would he tell you that?" James asked, fighting back the tears that were threatening to break the dam in his eyes.
"Because he hates you, I suspect. Just as long as you don't…feel…that way." Sirius was sitting on a desk in an empty classroom, the sunlight flooding his face. He couldn't see James too well past the sun, but he saw the slouching figure, the defeated posture. And he knew. "There's nothing wrong with it, of course. Of course. I'd be upset you hadn't told me, is all. Seeing as how I'm your best mate."
James sighed. He blinked. Nope. They were coming. The tears, they would arrive any moment now. And he would lose. And Sirius would know.
"Well." James half-heartedly gestured with his hand to the door. "Guess we'll go now." One last fight. He would try one last time to hide it.
The truth was, James realized as he turned toward the door and Sirius stayed where he was, he was tired of fighting. So what if he was in love with Regulus? So what if he was gay? Wasn't Sirius a true friend? Wouldn't Sirius accept him the way he was?
James could only hope.
"Padfoot…" he said, turning around again.
"It's okay, Prongs. You don't have to say it. I already know." Sirius hopped off the table and touched his friend's arm.
James said nothing. Sirius said nothing.
"If you ever want to talk about it…" Sirius said, then trailed away.
James nodded. Maybe, one day, he would talk about it. But for now, his best mate knew, and that was all that mattered in the world.