Written for the Seven Deadly Sins Challenge on Harry Potter Fanfiction Challenges Forum.
I wanted to try and display Sirius' sin without spelling the sin itself out anywhere in this passage; I hope I've made it clear enough. Can you guess it?
'You have a natural aversion to the concept of new' said Remus. So Sirius threw a pillow at his head.
It had always been rather simplistic, before September. September, where the days were still blissfully long and they felt complete, stretched out beneath the birch tree by the lake. Together again, they laughed over the exploits of summer, discussed the impending results of pranks which were three months in the making, and skipped over things which had changed, fostered in the delirium of summer heat.
September meant new things for Sirius. New things, which sat uncomfortably just above his navel and pulled like a longing for something. Something not quite physical, which urged him to do things and think things, which were wrong and bad and shameful. So, quite simply, he shut them away. Sirius was unequivocally good at that.
Did he love him in September? No.
And Remus? Remus thought that James had overreacted quite spectacularly when he'd, for lack of a more appropriate word, caught Remus down by the lake with Lily Evans in September.
Lily danced. Remus thought it was beautiful, and that's all it was. After all, the superficial simplicity with which James, Sirius and Peter functioned was enough to contemplate pitching himself off the astronomy tower. Sometimes Remus needed outward expressions of emotion or intellectual conversation to ward off insanity.
(Being a werewolf carried somewhat of a disposition.)
He found it fascinating the way she could carry herself so gracefully. Remus wasn't in love with her. He didn't think she was particularly beautiful. The way she carried herself, however, was something to behold. Secretly, Remus wished he could float across the grass and under the tree, the way she could; dancing, twirling, and losing herself amongst the utter normalcy of a Saturday morning. Burnt, red hair which was normally so sensibly tied up in a thick mass of ponytail flung freely around her face as she twisted herself into unnatural shapes and bent into positions that Remus previously thought were anatomically impossible. It was so carefree in a way that made him want to lose himself too, to join her in the beauty of freedom in the pleasant coolness of September.
James was awkward in September, growing into emotions which had previously floated over the top of his messy, all-angles hair. The childhood innocence and playfulness fought a losing battle in the face of war and that same inexplicable longing. Maturity didn't suit James, Sirius thought.
Peter wasn't Peter in September. He was the same exterior of scheming recklessness as he was before summer, but something on the inside had been lost. That ability to pull the wool over his own eyes in blissful oblivion. He was just Peter, and he didn't belong like he desperately wanted. They wouldn't have believed it then, but perhaps he was the most astute in September.
But none of them really wanted to consider it. So they invented simple ways to keep themselves from tackling it head on, like a steam train going places none of them really wanted to acknowledge were slowly consolidating into their futures.
So instead Remus rambled on about Lily's dancing, stressing the purely platonic nature of their relationship.
James fumed that he didn't get nearly enough time with the one girl who, coincidentally, wanted to spend all her time with Remus.
Sirius turned and made seemly inconspicuous remarks about Remus' sexuality (which was a mere joke to everyone but Sirius himself, and even then, Sirius wished it were a joke to himself), and how Remus would make a fine ballet dancer.
Peter laughed in amusement.
Remus swore it was only to avoid self-deprecation when he told Sirius he was afraid of new things. Sirius swore right then, that Remus was a mind reader. Because 'new' was now his watchword in a frenzy of weird feelings that he really would rather not have thought about.
So Sirius threw a pillow at his head, and they hid behind their memories again.
Sirius realises it isn't fear, in October. That the fear of acknowledging their slow separation isn't keeping him back from telling James. It is rather, another unusual feeling.
He can't tell James, because then he'd be weak. It would be like a self-fulfilling prophecy, he reasons, and Sirius is always the one to keep them all together, anyway. It would be like failing at something he is really good at, like transfiguration, or getting a bludger to the face.
When it comes to Remus, it is exactly the same. Sirius can't say anything, because he doesn't want to admit anything exists between them damn it.
(And although the strange feeling in his insides tells him different, he tries to consistently justify it as an unknown, untreated allergy to some kind of Hogwarts dish).
Surely, someone else would say it first, or it wouldn't be said at all. Surely, Sirius reasons, it would be Peter. The least courageous of them all, the most susceptible to any sort of change. The one who Sirius knows, secretly wishes Remus would find an interest in Lily, just to stop James from being so distant and uncaring.
They tiptoe around each other, gravitated by habit and comfort, like the moons around a planet, a planet around a star.
(Which is all very prophetic, because Sirius is a star.)
It must have been something to do with the impending Christmas holidays, but Regulus tries to make Sirius come around, in November.
(Last time they spoke it was in the middle of that horrid row which involved a certain, smoking family tapestry.)
Regulus is quite a bit smaller than Sirius remembers, and he tries to think of Regulus as the same boy who grew up with him. The one that slipped a dirty, great garden toad into Bella's pocket at the Christmas Dinner of 1967, and fainted when she slipped it back to him, slimy and dead, its eyes removed and its tongue a horrible bulbous lump, forcefully protruding from its mouth. He was so untouched, and blissfully removed from everything that went wrong in that family.
Sirius isn't coming home, however, and Regulus seems to know it's a futile expedition before he's even opened his mouth. He simply sighs and looks up at his brother, his only brother, with an expression that might be able to convince the real heir (and not the simple replacement), to come home and let Regulus be the sixteen year old boy without the forty-year-old problems.
But nothing is said between them. It can't be, Sirius concedes, because blood really is thicker than water in some ways, and Regulus is too much like him to ever admit anything is wrong. Sirius doesn't know whether that's a subliminal message taught to generations of Blacks, or a genetic trait that's inherent in all of them, but there's just something which fosters a kind of arrogance about it. An arrogance which stops them conveying the simple fact that Regulus needs Sirius, and Sirius wishes he could be better in return.
Sirius is, both literally in a celestial sense, and figuratively in a more human sense, bigger and brighter. Regulus is bright but forever being occulted by the moon.
(And at first Sirius thinks of this in a purely astronomical sense, before he realises that the moon is quite similar to 'Moony' and hits himself over the head for allowing him to think that.)
In the end, Sirius gets sneered at by Bellatrix as she steers Regulus back to the dungeons, and somewhere inside him aches (as it should have, because it's the last time they speak, in November).
Does he love him in December? He'd rather not think about it. But he knows he misses Remus, a lot.
Sirius' heart takes a blow in January. It's not quite breaking, because Sirius will never allow himself (or anyone else) to think that he's fallible in that sense, but it feels all wrong and empty, and it's frustratingly hard to hide.
Remus kisses Marlene one night in January, when he's trying his hardest to teach her Herbology in the library. It's strange, because Remus has never even imagined that anyone would want to kiss him, and he's quite humbled by it in fact. Humbled enough to forget that it's rather mushy and unpleasant, and that the whole time it's happening he feels like he should get her back on task because Merlin, Marlene is bad at Herbology.
Remus tells Sirius, and Sirius is furious. Storming about with eyes like a caged animal, which is slightly ironic because it is Remus that is the werewolf.
For a moment, just for one moment, Remus considers that Sirius is envious.
But it almost seems like envy is a secondary sin for Sirius. Because after that night of storming and fist fighting, Sirius goes back to his normal, relatively placid self. Albeit one that makes crude and almost hurtful jabs every time Marlene walks past.
Sirius feels bested. He feels angry and puts it down to the fact that Remus likes to spend more time with girls. A girl for Merlin's sakes. One that can't fly nearly as well as Sirius, or hex Snivellous into oblivion. She definitely doesn't have the brains that Sirius has, he is an animagus after all.
(And then Sirius remembers that Peter is an animagus, and for him, that doesn't say much about intelligence.)
Lily falls in love with James, in February. It's just another thing in a long line of complications which are slowly compounding to rock the marauders out of orbit and into ruins.
James is understandably ecstatic. Peter will never admit it to anyone, but he cries himself to sleep that night, beneath the familiar hangings of his comfortable bed. Nothing has ever been so wrong, for him.
Sirius loses a brother, or that's what it feels like at first. Then he thinks that maybe all he needs is someone like Lily to make the emptiness go away. This is wrong he decides, because Sirius can make himself happy thank-you-very-much.
Remus doesn't really feel anything. He wants to understand, but he can't. Because Remus, just then, is drowning within his own head, in a sea of confusion and complications which all point glaringly to a bright sign. Remus decides that he doesn't like girls. He's never been so lost in his life.
Remus goes on a mission to find himself, in March. On his mission he manages to procure a copy of a very-far-from-straight men's magazine in order to understand what exactly it is that makes him tick.
(He procures this by owl order of course, under a pseudonym, because Remus thinks he would probably die of embarrassment before he could buy one from a shop.)
Mid-way through exploring this corner of his newfound lifestyle, James decides to embark on a quest to find his missing sock, and accidentally opens the hangings of Remus' four poster bed to uncover a very compromising scene.
(And definitely not the sock he was looking for. That was, as it turns out, under Lily's bed.)
It takes James four hours to look at Remus in the eye, and two weeks before Remus can comfortably be in his presence for longer than fifteen minutes at a time.
Sirius becomes suicidal in April. Not literally of course, he thinks he's too good for that, but deciding to tell James the horrible truth about his…infatuation, feels like he's approaching a certain death.
In the end James laughs, the lovesick berk. And Sirius knows he still finds it awkward and uncomfortable, but perhaps things will be okay because James understands and accepts it.
James doesn't think any less of him, in fact. This is a relief to Sirius because being on equal footing with James is imperative, or he'll start to get ideas about being the 'leader' of their little gang. Perhaps this is just the dog in Sirius, but he thinks it's a real threat sometimes, with Peter following James around like a lost familiar, and Remus becoming more and more detached by the day.
(The marauders need their usual power balance, because they're fast approaching collapse, and it's clear in everyone's mind.)
In May, Remus kisses Sirius, even though Sirius was sure it would be the other way around. He gets slightly annoyed at that, because he thought of it first.
Everything goes wrong in June. It's a month of ends and beginnings for many of their classmates, but for James, Remus, Peter and Sirius, it feels like all the good things are being lost to the uncertainty of the future.
For James, the world is altogether too scary. He's got Lily, that's true, but she hasn't made up the bulk of his school life like the marauders have. She hasn't been privy to the secret expeditions and elaborate pranks that constitute the majority of his childhood.
He's afraid, although he'll never admit it, because childhood and comfort is all he knows, and all he wants, in some ways. In some ways he'd like to bubble-wrap himself, Lily and his three friends into a tight ball so they could steamroll through all the terrible things happening all around them without any of them being hurt. But he knows that they might, and that is really frightening.
For Peter, he's lost all of his friends. Remus and Sirius are cold and distant, and James is content to rest his head in Lily's hands and let her take him away from whatever it is he's running from. Peter is at a loss, in June.
Remus is depressed in June. It's a combination of bleak career opportunities after Hogwarts and then that other thing.
Remus thrives on being the hard working, the intelligent one at Hogwarts. He thrives on the perfection of his work, and the rewards that reaps for him. However he realises, in June, that it's worth absolutely nothing to anyone outside the castle walls, because the blatant truth is that Remus is a werewolf, and who, in their right mind, would hire one of those?
And then there's Sirius. The glue to the marauders and who Remus had, particularly in the preceding year, pinned all his hopes and dreams of continued normalcy and happiness on. But Sirius wasn't interested, he'd said it himself. Sirius Black didn't love. Sirius Black especially didn't love boys. He was too good for that.
Sirius' life shatters a little, in June. Shatters because he realises the year has been the accumulation of little failures on his behalf, which have led up to this point. The point at which he's no longer interested in his own wellbeing, as such, and wants to be able to tell everyone how sorry he is that he's been partially responsible for screwing everything up.
He wants to tell James that he'll miss him too bloody much if he disappears with Lily. He wants to tell him that he needs his friendship, and his occasional good advice. To tell him that sometimes he needs a bit of immaturity and playfulness, and no one cuts it just like James when it comes to those kinds of things.
He wants to tell Peter that it will all be alright. That they see each other at Sirius' flat all the time, and he can even move in for periods of time, if he wants. Sirius' only condition is that all cheese must be stored in the freezer, and thrown out when it passes its best-before date.
Most of all, Sirius wants to tell Remus that he was wrong. He wants to tell him that Sirius Black can love, and he thinks, does love. He wants to pour all the stupid fucking emotions out of him and run himself dry, so at least he can get some logical thinking done without being so highly strung on lust and love and other things he just can't say.
And that's the crux of the matter. Sirius can't say any of these things; something sinful stops him.
So June rolls on, and things are lost to the same memories they hide behind.