a/n—Sadly, this story is inspired by actual events, with An-Jelly-Ca discovering that my hairline is exactly the same as Sirius' and making fun of me immensely for it. So, naturally, I had to write a story about it.
Of Mice and Hair
Remus Lupin was a bit of a perfectionist.
If you were to ask his friends, they would say that he was beyond OCD and a control freak, but Remus begged to differ. Yes, he liked to always do things a certain way. And yes, organization and good time management were both key ingredients in a successful life. Oh alright, and yes, admittedly, his sock drawer was color-coded by days of the week. But Remus was not a complete perfectionist. Or a control freak.
Most definitely not. And he was determined to prove this to any and all naysayers—otherwise known as all of his friends.
And this was why Remus had held off mentioning anything about tidying up the seventh year boy's dorm for so long. But things had gotten far too out of hand at the point our story begins, even when taking into account Remus' exceedingly high standards for…well, everything.
And so he was determined to put an end to all of the madness. He was going to put his foot down this time. The room would be cleaned.
"No thanks, I'm good," Sirius informed Remus in an offhand manner, throwing his broom in one direction and his dirtied Quidditch robes in the other. "I'd rather not clean today, but thanks for the offer."
Remus looked at his friend incredulously—and inwardly cringed at the further mess that had just happened in front of his very eyes.
"That wasn't optional or even a suggestion," Remus informed the other boy. "You really do need to clean your portion of the room; it's absolutely disgusting in here. James and Peter need to clean as well, but I haven't seen either of them since lunch."
"Prongs had to supervise a detention or some other rubbish excuse that let him spend time with Lilyflower after practice," Sirius said immediately. "And who really knows where Wormtail gets to all the time? If it was anyone but him, I'd say he has a secret girlfriend or even secret friends that he doesn't want us to know about, but I'm not that delusional. He's probably in the kitchens."
Remus frowned momentarily. Where did Peter disappear to all the time? But he quickly shook his head to rid himself of the thought; there was something more important that he needed to focus on right now. This room would be cleaned.
"You weren't planning on doing any homework tonight, were you?" Remus questioned.
"No," Sirius said immediately and without hesitation, looking quite offended that Remus even had to ask.
"Therefore you have nothing better to do than clean up that pigsty you call a living area," Remus stated logically. "Good."
"Um, no," Sirius said shortly, his expression clearly saying that he was currently questioning his friend's mental state. "I'm pretty sure that if you were to look at my theoretical calendar, you'd see that I have a standing date to snog my girlfriend senseless tonight. So, yeah, no time to clean for me. Bummer about that, huh?"
Remus pursed his lips in a very un-amused fashion. He quickly side-stepped so that he was standing in front of the door, thus cutting off Sirius' only mode of escape from the room. Sirius gave a frustrated sigh.
"C'mon, Moony," he said pleadingly, "I haven't seen Mars in…" He reached forward and snatched up Remus' wrist and twisted it at an awkward angle—for Remus, that is—and checked the time on the sandy-haired boy's watch. "I haven't seen her in ten whole minutes! That's practically forever! What if she's forgotten about me already and she's off getting all friendly with that creepy McLaggen bloke?"
"Clingy much?" Remus asked, pulling his arm out of Sirius' grip. "And I highly doubt Marlene would appreciate your insinuation that she'd cheat on you the moment she's out of your sight."
"You better not tell her I said that," Sirius muttered.
"Plus," Remus added, rolling his eyes at Sirius' half-threat, "You've known each other for more than ten years. I highly doubt she's going to 'forget you' after being out of your presence for ten measly minutes. Additionally, due to your sheer idiocy, she had to wait for ages for you to come to your senses and ask her out. There's no chance she's going to be ditching you for anyone—especially McLaggen—anytime soon."
"Curse you and your logic, Moony," Sirius said with a frown.
"So you concede to my point that you have nothing better to do than clean tonight?" Remus asked brightly.
"Also curse your use of fancy words," Sirius added. "And no, I will most definitely not be cleaning tonight. Now get out of the way."
"Wait!" Remus said quickly, holding his arms up hastily in a weak attempt to stop Sirius as he made a move to escape—ahem, get past his friend.
"What?" Sirius demanded with a heavy sigh.
"Are you aware of the large number of benefits there are to abiding in a clean living space?" Remus asked, then continued without waiting for reply, "Because there really are quite a few that could definitely affect you personally."
"And I care because…?" Sirius asked searchingly. "Our dorm has pretty much looked like this for the past six and a half years. Why should I change things now?"
"Well," Remus began immediately, leading Sirius to mentally curse himself for being drawn in and asking Moony any kind of question. "For starters, we really don't know what could be lying underneath all of those piles of junk. The house elves stopped attempting to clean up in here years ago. And as a result of that, for all we know there could be living things, such as rodents, happily living off the trash under your bed at this very moment."
"Nah," Sirius said dismissively. "Wormtail probably would have found them out by now. He's changed in here before."
"It's still possible," Remus insisted, his path suddenly becoming clear to him. There was one failsafe way to get Sirius to see reason, and he knew just what it was… "In fact, I wouldn't be at all surprised if there were mice in this room at this very moment."
"Really, Moony?" Sirius asked with raised brows. "That's the best you could come up with? Mice? Yeah, thanks but no thanks. If you'd be so kind as to move out of my way, I'm going to go find Marlene."
"Have it your way," Remus said with a defeated shrug. "I mean, it's not like you're the one who has the most to lose or anything. I guess you just don't care about how much mice like to eat hair."
That did the trick. Sirius paused halfway through the process of opening the door leading to freedom.
"What?!" He yelped, spinning on his heel to face Remus once more as his hands shot up to clutch at his shiny, shoulder-length, black hair. "Hair? Moony! Not my hair! You can't let them eat my precious hair!"
"It's alright, Sirius," Remus consoled his friend, patting the other boy's shoulder lightly. "You see, I have a solution to your dilemma."
"A solution?" Sirius demanded. "What is it? I'll do anything! Just get rid of the evil hair-eating mice!"
"Just clean up the mess," Remus told him, gesturing towards three-fourths of the room. "That's a sure way to chase them away."
"Clean," Sirius repeated, his eyes taking on a slightly crazed gleam, not unlike the sparkle that frequently appeared in their dear Headmaster's eyes. "Yes, I'll have to clean. And there's no telling when Prongs and Wormtail will be back. I need to clean all of the mess right now."
"Yes," Remus agreed solemnly, nodding his head as he spoke, "You do."
"What are you still doing here, Moony?" Sirius demanded, dropping his hands and pulling his wand out of his robes. "You're in my way! I need to clean all of the mess!"
"Don't mind me," Remus said, grabbing the lone book off of his nightstand and making his way over to the partially open door. "I was just leaving."
With a smile, Remus exited the room and closed the door behind him, effectively cutting off Sirius' almost maniacal mutterings of, "No hair for you today, evil mice!"
Down in the Common Room, Remus quickly claimed the couch closest to the fireplace. He relaxed back into the cushions and opened his book to the page he had marked. His peace was short-lived, however, because someone else flopped unceremoniously onto the empty expanse of couch beside him less than a minute later. He paused in his reading to look up, only to find that the person currently sitting beside him on the couch was none other than Marlene McKinnon.
"Have you seen Sirius?" She asked when she noticed that Remus was no longer immersed in his reading. "He told me that he'd meet me down here after he changed out of his Quidditch gear."
"Er…" Remus began guiltily. "It is entirely possible that I may have redirected your boyfriend's energy toward doing something…well, doing something else."
Marlene merely rose a single eyebrow at this confession.
"I thought he was just making excuses to get away from me when he said that the two of you had plans!" Remus continued swiftly. "You see, I managed to…er…convince Sirius that he needed to…well, that he needed to clean our dorm room."
Marlene held Remus' gaze for a moment longer before she unexpectedly broke out into laughter.
"He's cleaning?" She asked in between gasps for breath, causing Remus to worry about her overall health and wellbeing at the current moment. "What in Merlin's name did you do that made him want to clean more than spend time with me? Not that I'm complaining in the slightest, but I feel as if I've barely gotten a moment to myself since we started dating. Two months is a long time to spend in the presence of one person, you know."
"Well…" Remus said slowly, still surprised at this reaction, which he had not anticipated at all. "I told him that we probably had mice living in all the filth in our room and that…I told him that mice like to eat hair."
This caused Marlene to erupt into a further fit of giggles.
"I'm sure he loved that," She finally managed to get out.
"Well it got him to clean, didn't it?" Remus asked, but he had a smile stretched across his face as well.
"You're a miracle worker, Remus Lupin," Marlene announced. "Now I won't have to fear for my life every time I go into your room. Of course…I did always stick to your bed because it was outside of the immediate danger zone."
"Nor will—Wait," Remus paused mid-sentence, confusion etched upon his features. "You've been in our dorm room? In my bed? When? Why?" He frowned slightly. "No, scratch that last bit. I don't think I want to know why you were up there. Alone. With Sirius." He shuddered suddenly at the mental image that line of thought had clearly provided him with. "I'm never going to be able to sleep in that bed again."
"You have a dirty mind, Remus Lupin," Marlene informed the sandy-haired boy, then smacked him upside the head for good measure. Remus had the good grace to look guilty. "We weren't doing anything of the sort up there…okay, so maybe there was a bit of snogging. But really, the one thing that your guys' room is good for is to do homework in."
Her confession was met with a shocked silence from Remus.
"I mean, for starters," Marlene began, "It's the Marauders' dorm; no one is just going to burst in there, for fear of being attacked or something, I suppose. And therefore it's away from prying eyes. I'm sure by now you've figured out that Sirius likes to think he has a bad boy image to uphold, and appearing to not put any effort into his school work is part of that. And it's quite nice when it's just the two of us up there alone; it's peaceful."
Remus really didn't know how to respond to any of that. It was like Marlene had been speaking a foreign tongue. Not messing around and doing homework and being peaceful were not concepts that he had ever had any sort of reason to associate with Sirius before. It was all quite hard to fathom, actually.
"And of course," Marlene continued once more, "When we both got bored with all of the boring stuff, there were plenty of opportunities to plan pranks on our unsuspecting fellow students."
Remus couldn't help the sigh of relief that escaped him then. This was more like the Sirius he knew and loved like a brother. It was easier to think of Sirius like this. A responsible Sirius was a rather fear-inducing thought and therefore not at all pleasant when you got right down to it.
"I'm still not sure how I feel about sleeping in my own bed anymore," Remus muttered.
"You'll be fine," Marlene said with a wave of her hand. "Nothing happened to it. Besides, we all know that the house elves still tidy up in your section of the room."
Remus opened his mouth to reply with what would have very likely been a witty retort about how he very well did not need any house elves to help him keep his possessions in manageable order, thank you very much. Alas, his words were cut off by a high-pitched, ear-shattering scream. A scream that, interestingly enough, came from the direction of the boys' dormitories, rather than the girls' as one would most likely expect.
Marlene narrowed her eyes and turned towards the direction of the dormitories, much the same as the rest of the occupants of the now-silent Common Room.
"That sounded like Sirius," She said, the confusion apparent in her tone and features.
"I do not want to know how you know what Sirius' scream sounds like," Remus muttered.
"I cut off a lock of his hair when we were seven," Marlene replied with a shrug, blatantly ignoring the actual meaning behind Remus' words. "He's a tad…possessive, we'll say, when it comes to his hair, which I'm sure you've realized by now."
"Possessive?" Remus repeated. "More like completely crazed in the head."
"That's another way to put it," Marlene agreed. Then, "Hmm…I wonder…"
It became quite apparent what Marlene wondered very quickly, as Sirius appeared in the Common Room mere seconds after she had spoken. Remus couldn't help but think that his friend looked and was acting as if he had ingested quite a few bottles of firewhiskey in the less than fifteen minutes they had been apart. Indeed, the black-haired boy's eyes were roaming searchingly around the room, a mirror clutched tightly in his grasp while both of his eyes were widened to an extent that Remus had not previously believed to be humanly possible. Additionally, as he looked through the Common Room, he continued turning his whole body to do so, only managing a precarious hold on his balance. It became apparent what Sirius had been searching for when his gaze landed on his two fellow seventh-years sitting in front of the fireplace.
"Moony!" The normally aristocratic boy positively hollered across the room. "My hair!"
"Why is he coming to me for sympathy?" Remus moaned softly as Sirius approached him and Marlene. Meanwhile, the rest of Gryffindor House quickly returned to what they had previously been doing before Sirius' blood-curdling scream; they were all well used to his theatrics when it came to his beloved hair. "You're his girlfriend, for Merlin's sake!"
"That doesn't mean he forgives me for the splendid haircut I gave him back in the day," Marlene said with a low chuckle. She quickly replaced any hint of humor upon her face with a look of compassion as Sirius finally reached the couch Remus and Marlene were seated on, collapsing upon it in between the pair.
"Moony," Sirius said again, his tone suggesting the greatest possible tragedy had just occurred. "The worst possible thing in the whole entire world has happened," He continued, thus explaining his tone. "I…I-I'm not…Oh, Moony, it's so tragic!"
"I gathered," Remus said dryly, whilst Marlene expertly avoided sniggering at his tone in order to avoid more anguish for her boyfriend. "Pray tell, what tragedy has just befallen you?"
"That's just it!" Sirius exclaimed. "It didn't just happen! But I've only just discovered it, and it's forced me to re-evaluate my whole worldview. I don't know if I'll ever be able to recover."
"What happened, Siri?" Marlene asked, attempting to wrap an arm around her boyfriend's shoulder in an semi-awkward seated side hug, but failing miserably due to the fact that he was still considerably taller than her even though they were both sitting down.
"I'm…I…Oh, I can't say it," Sirius said, leaning forward and resting his elbows on his knees and bringing his hands up to cover his face.
"Yes, you can," Marlene told him, placing a hand upon his back and rubbing it in a soothing manner. "It can't be that bad."
Apparently this was the wrong thing to say, as Marlene should have expected, as Sirius let out an anguished howl at her words.
"It's the absolute worst thing in the world, Mars!" Sirius insisted. "You should just break up with me now; I'm not the person we all thought I was. I'm just not good enough for you now."
Marlene's eyes widened in alarm. What in Merlin's name was he going on about?
"That's utter rubbish," Remus finally spoke up. "You know very well that you and Marlene are perfect for each other. Why else would it have taken so long for the pair of you to admit your feelings for each other?"
"No, I'm not," Sirius insisted this time. "I…I'm n-not perfect at all."
This announcement was met with silence from the pair of Gryffindors on either side of him. Neither really knew how to respond to that. Since when had Sirius Black believed himself to be anything less than perfect? This really was incredibly out of the ordinary. Although his playboy behavior had diminished significantly since he had begun dating Marlene, there was no denying that Sirius believed himself to be Merlin's gift to wizard kind, and therefore the epitome of perfection. Especially when it came to his looks.
"You're going to have to explain it a bit more than that, dear," Marlene finally told him slowly, "I'm afraid Moony and I don't quite understand what you're talking about."
"It's my hair," Sirius admitted, sitting back up again. "Or, rather, my hairline. It's—oh, I can't believe you're making me admit this in public where there are possible witnesses who might hear me!"
"You came down here looking for us," Remus reminded the other boy. Then he gestured to the common room as a whole, none of whose occupants appeared to be paying them the slightest bit of attention, "And clearly you can see that no one has taken any particular interest in any of your hair crises in years."
Sirius narrowed his eyes infinitesimally at his friend. "I was naïve in my youth to make such large productions of every single fault that occurred with my hair. If I had known this discovery was coming, maybe I wouldn't have over-reacted so much."
"You still haven't told us what the problem seems to be," Remus reminded him, his gaze unconsciously shifting back to the book in his lap. There were other activities had had planned for himself tonight, none of which involved listening to one of his best friends complain about bad hair days.
"It's my hairline!" Sirius finally admitted, glancing around as he spoke to make sure that there was no one else within hearing range. "I was cleaning the room, just like I told you I would, Moony—I don't want any mice eating my hair! And while I was doing that, I found Mira the Mirror, who I thought I had lost forever."
Remus chose to ignore the fact that Sirius obviously hadn't gotten over his habit of naming inanimate objects. He instead chose to focus on the fact that the other boy had, indeed, been cleaning up their dorm room, just as Remus had always dreamed would one day happen.
"And obviously," Sirius continued speaking, "I had to stop to get reacquainted with her."
"So you haven't actually been cleaning?" Remus questioned, crestfallen. "You've been admiring yourself in the mirror."
"I should have kept cleaning, Moony!" Sirius stated, his continued anguish clear for all to see. "If I had, then I wouldn't have discovered the horrible curse I've been inflicted with for probably my whole life without ever realizing it until now." He paused here and took a deep breath before continuing, "You see, I happened to be looking at my hairline and…well, I've discovered that it's…crooked."
"Crooked?" Marlene repeated dubiously. "Your hairline is crooked?"
Sirius nodded emphatically.
"How can a hairline be crooked?" Marlene demanded, immediately regretting her decision to speak.
"How can a hairline be crooked?" Sirius repeated, his eyes widening in disbelief. "Like this!"
Sirius lifted both hands and used them to push the hair back from his face, thus revealing his hairline for all to see, although Marlene was the only person paying him any sort of attention at this point as Remus had gone back to reading his book, which Sirius had yet to realize.
"Er…how is it crooked?" Marlene questioned, her tone cautious now. In her opinion, his hairline looked perfectly fine. Because honestly, if anyone had a right to complain about their hair, then it was Marlene, whose bright orange mass of curls never did anything she wanted them to, other than make her look like a crazy person on a recurring basis.
"Can't you see it?" Sirius asked, shoving his face as close to Marlene's in his excitement.
"Er…no?" Marlene offered, attempting to back away but failing due to the arm of the couch directly behind her.
"But it's so obvious!" Sirius insisted, finally letting his hands drop as he resumed a normal, more socially-acceptable sitting posture. "How could you not see it? I don't know how it's taken me so long to realize!"
"What, exactly, was wrong with it?" Marlene asked him.
"It looks like I have half a widow's peak!" Sirius exclaimed, his hands going up to push back his hair again. "See?!"
Deciding to give her boyfriend the benefit of the doubt, Marlene glanced back up at Sirius' hairline for a moment before her gaze lowered so that she was looking him in the eye again.
"I guess I see it," She said slowly. "It's rather unfortunate."
"Rather?" Sirius said. "It's the worst thing that could have happened ever! I mean, I never claimed to be absolutely perfect—don't give me that look, Mars," Sirius informed the girl when she rose a single eyebrow at him. "Honestly, I always thought I was only mostly perfect. But clearly my hairline is the greatest imperfection in the universe."
"Naturally," Marlene agreed, and Sirius was getting too into his analysis of the situation that he failed to notice how very un-sympathetic his girlfriend's tone was.
"Really, I think I'll blame my dad," Sirius continued. "After all, he's the one with the widow's peak. And if it wasn't for his genes, I wouldn't have something that a poor impersonation of half a widow's peak disrupting my otherwise beautiful hairline!"
"Did you just call your hairline beautiful?" Remus questioned, the conversation finally drawing his full attention back in.
"Moony!" Sirius practically howled in what could only be described as near-agony. "Does that mean you weren't listening to me? This is the greatest tragedy of my life and you, my supposed friend, don't even care!"
"No, I heard every word, don't worry," Remus replied dryly. "I listened to the whole thing."
"Prove it," Sirius challenged. "Or else I'm going to put an ad in the Prophet for a new friend."
"Knowing your luck, though, Moony will be the one who ends up answering it," Marlene told him. "He's the only person I ever see reading that paper, anyway."
"Your life sucks because your dad's a jerk because he did stuff with your mum that I shall not go into detail about but which resulted in you and your apparently deformed hairline due to the fact that you have some strange combination of both of their DNA," Remus said, clearly disinterested as he picked his book back up.
"Hmph," Was the only response Sirius could come up with.
"That's what I thought," Remus replied, resuming his reading.
"You'll get through this," Marlene said with what she hoped was a comforting pat on his shoulder.
"No, I won't," Sirius said miserably. "I should just give up now. What's the point in trying to maintain my hair? I know it will never be perfect again, no matter how hard I try…"
There was a brief moment of silence from the trio, then…
"So you won't mind if we have mice in our dorm and they eat your hair, then?" Remus asked pleasantly, never looking up from his book.
Sirius' eyes widened in alarm and Marlene could feel him stiffen beneath her hand.
"I'll be back later; I have to go clean," Sirius stated, and was gone before Marlene and Remus could register what he had said.
Marlene looked at Remus appraisingly. "You must really want that room clean…"
"I have my priorities," Remus said with a shrug, still keeping his gaze firmly on his reading. "And clearly I'm just a master of manipulation."