Chapter 1 : A Few Moments Granted
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This story is for Timeturner, who asked me long ago if I would ever be interested in writing a James/Sirius story. Though I’ve never written blatant slash before, and the idea of James/Sirius didn’t particularly strike me as canon, a few ideas that I had turned into brief glimpses of their relationship. If you are not a fan of slash, or aren’t open to the idea of James and Sirius together, I advise you to stop right here. However, if you’re curious of the dynamic I’ve created between them, I warmly welcome you to read:
Sirius entered the third-year boys dormitory looking positively mutinous. His fringe was slicked back from his face by a strangely translucent goo, and a similarly coloured sheen was pasted across his forehead and dripping down his nose. Even his robes were sticky and stiff, the wool’s folds unforgiving to movement, as though they were heavily starched. On top of his current state of dishevelment, a repugnant smell wafted around him, so thick a haze may as well have surrounded him. His nostrils flared disagreeably and he pinched his nose, scowling.
Marching across the floor brusquely, he fixed his steely eyes on the second bed from the right. The curtains around the bed were drawn, unlike the other three beds in the circular room.
“James!” he snapped, and reached his arm forward to yank the curtains aside with gusto.
Almost immediately there was a strangled cry from behind the curtains, along with a series of muffled thumps and the shifting of bed linens. James was revealed sitting up on his bed, huffing crossly and looking quite flushed. His glasses were hanging precariously from his ear, and Sirius narrowed his eyes suspiciously, inspecting the strange red welt on James’s nose just where the bridge of his glasses rested.
He craned his neck, trying to look over James’s shoulder. “What were you doing?” he asked curiously.
James shifted nervously, blocking something hidden behind him. “Nothing,” he answered, though the tone of his voice made it quite obvious that it wasn’t ‘nothing’.
“No,” Sirius continued, inching around the mattress. “Really, what were you doing?” Again, he tried to peer over James’s shoulder, but James moved quickly, adjusting his glasses so that they sat on his face properly.
James frowned at him. “I was sleeping, if you must know. That is, I was, before your rude interruption.”
“Were you trying to smother yourself?” Sirius asked, still eyeballing the red mark on James’s nose.
“Shut it, you tosser.”
Sirius wasn’t about to be distracted by pointless name-calling. “What are you hiding?” he queried. He started to reach around James in an attempt to grab whatever was being hidden, but James thwacked him soundly on the arm.
“Oi!” Sirius cried out, and he raised his brows in challenge. Now his curiosity truly was piqued. James shared everything with him, and whatever he was hiding was surely a very large secret, and very embarrassing. With a wicked grin, Sirius leaped onto the bed, tackling James to the mattress and blindly groping beneath him to get hold of whatever secret was there.
James rolled over and cursed, elbowing Sirius in the ribs and kicking out furiously with his legs. “Sirius,” he shouted, “damnit!--” but it was too late. Sirius had firmly grasped what James had been hiding, wriggled it out, and was now staring at it peculiarly.
“You weren’t,” he whispered. The left corner of his mouth twitched twice, hinting at the beginnings of a smirk.
James scowled at him. “Give it here,” he demanded, grabbing the feather pillow that Sirius was clutching. James pulled it to his chest protectively. “You’re such a prat.”
Sirius ignored his chastising. “It had a wet spot,” he mused.
“…And it smells like cologne.”
“Nosier than Snivellus,” James continued to grumble.
“I think I can see an indentation from your nose,” Sirius announced, eyes sparkling mischievously.
James raised his hand and made a terribly rude gesture.
Clicking his tongue, Sirius folded his arms across his chest and shook his head. “Lonely, are you?”
James opened his mouth and made a few odd croaking sounds before clamping his lips together tightly and putting his face in his hands.
Sirius began to laugh loudly, collapsing onto the bed and blinking back tears of amusement. “No!” he gasped between sharp bouts of laughter. “No, no, no. I’d have expected that from Peter, but James! You! Snogging a pillow, for Circe’s sake!”
James emitted a muffled groan and lifted his head slightly. “I was practicing,” he whinged.
“For what? Licking someone’s face off?”
“No,” responded James petulantly.
“Breaking a nose?”
“Then I hate to say it, Jamesy, but you’re clearly going about it the wrong way.”
“And you’re an expert, are you?”
Sirius paused thoughtfully before shrugging. “More than you are, I’d wager.”
James looked unimpressed. “So what’s the proper way to snog then, hm?”
Another chuckle bubbled up in Sirius’s throat, and he attempted to cover it up, coughing raucously. “That depends on who you’re planning to snog.”
James, clearly still affronted from being discovered in the midst of a very personal act, tilted to his head to the side and narrowed his eyes. “Your mum,” he replied.
Sirius’s lifted an eyebrow. Leave it to James to resort to jokes about his mother. He should have known better; Sirius and his mother weren’t exactly close. “Frightening. You’d be better off snogging Bellatrix.”
James snorted reluctantly. “Nah,” he shook his head, “I value my face, thank you.”
“So?” Sirius prodded him, “who are you planning on having a go with?”
“No-one in particular,” answered James. “I was just preparing.”
Sirius shook his head in disbelief. “Evans?” he guessed.
James made a face. “No, not Evans.” He patted the pillow self-consciously and flipped it over so the wet spot was no longer visible.
Intrigued, Sirius rolled over onto his elbow, eyeing his friend. “You’ve never even kissed anyone before?” He wrinkled his nose. “I’d have thought--“
“—I’ve kissed girls,” James interrupted irritably.
“Then why are you practicing?”
“To improve,” James replied. He said it like it was the most obvious thing in the world.
“Well,” Sirius replied slowly, “it looks like you need it.” He jabbed at the pillow. “Were you mashing your face against it and drooling?”
James’s thin mouth pulled down into a frown. “Smart arse.”
“If you’re such an expert,” James continued sharply, “then why don’t you show me how it’s done?” He tossed the pillow at Sirius, and it landed on his face, wet spot down. Sirius hollered in protest and quickly shoved the pillow away.
“There’s no way I’m kissing that,” he yelped.
James fixed him with a smug smile. “I knew it.”
“Knew that you didn’t know how to snog any better than I do.”
Sirius sat up abruptly, scowling. “I do too.”
Gesturing to the pillow in-between them, James shook his head doubtfully. “You won’t prove it,” he replied.
Sirius scoffed. “I’m not snogging your sodding pillow!” He picked it up and threw it at James’s face, attempting to knock off the smug smile that was still there, mocking him.
James caught the pillow and swung it down onto Sirius swiftly. “Because you’ll be worse than me, probably.”
“What?!” Sirius cried incredulously.
“Terrible!” James added lightly.
“Not bloody likely,” he replied through clenched teeth.
“And you must have awful breath,” James continued, growing steadily louder and more arrogant as he persisted.
“Bumping your big nose—ARGH!” James’s commentary was interrupted when Sirius’s fist collided with his stomach. The two began to scuffle, fists and arms and legs flailing about in the air, a staccato barrage of curse words accompanying the fight. They rolled around the bed attempting to tackle one another, pushing the covers around until they fell off the edge of James’s bed and ended up in a rumpled heap on the floor.
James was sprawled out at the foot of the bed, his glasses lost in the pile of blankets. He inhaled and exhaled loudly, shielding his eyes with the palm of his hand. Sirius grunted, having landed on his hands and knees, and crawled over to the side of his friend. Neither seemed worse for the wear and tear.
“I’m a bloody fine kisser, I’ll have you know,” Sirius announced.
“Prove it sometime,” James said weakly. He flung an arm out and patted the blankets in a lazy attempt to find his glasses.
“I will,” James replied, though it was clear he had no intention of doing so.
Sirius frowned. “No, you won’t.”
“You’re right,” James agreed with a sigh. “I won’t.”
Sirius looked absolutely furious with James for refusing to cooperate, and without warning, leaned down and planted a kiss on James’s lips. He tilted his head carefully, managed not to bash noses with James, and tugged gently on James’s lip for a few moments before pulling away.
James’s eyes were now wide open, and he made a gurgling sound.
Sirius turned his back; a flush crept up his face from the collar of his robes. He rose to his knees and began searching for James’s glasses in the blankets.
James didn’t say anything for a long time. Finally, he sat up and peered around blindly. “Fine,” he said, sounding slightly begrudged, “I’ll ask around.”
Sirius snorted in amusement and wrapped his fingers around something in the blankets—James’s glasses. He handed them over. “It’s better than wasting your time snogging pillows.”
James put his glasses on and sniffed loudly, wrinkling his nose. “What’s that awful smell?” He patted his clothing, which had remnants of Sirius’s sticky goo all over it. “It’s repulsive,” he groaned, plucking at his robes in disgust. “Smells like shit.” His hazel eyes blinked at Sirius accusingly.
“That,” Sirius replied, relieved to be changing the subject, “is a long story.”
‘What they don’t tell you about being an Animagus,’ Sirius thought idly, ‘is how your animal instinct will sometimes overpower your human intelligence.’
He situated himself on a warm patch of grass illuminated by a beam of sunlight, stretching out his front and hind legs so that he could rest lazily, comfortably.
He’d also positioned himself so that he could keep an eye on James, who, for the past few weeks, had been acting very strange. So strange in fact, that it was starting to worry his roommates. Sirius adjusted his head so that he could see the large stag moving about in his peripheral vision.
At first he’d chalked James’s behaviour up to returning to school after spending an incredibly fun and entertaining summer together. The Potters were probably relieved to send them back to a school where they’d be subject to some sort of discipline, as James’s mum and dad were lenient on the boys, welcoming the life and laughter (and sometimes shock and incredulity) into their home. Sirius thumped his black tail on the ground, remembering them fondly. Perhaps James was still on a summer high.
The stag rustled around in some shrubbery, doing Merlin knows what.
The forest surrounding the two Animagi was rich with rusty reds, sunny golds, and burnt oranges, and despite the dangerous beasts skulking within, Sirius felt at ease. He loved the fall. It was the perfect time for walks in the swirling leaves, the perfect time for harvest festivals and butterbeer, the perfect time for Quidditch. Even the animals in the forest seemed to be celebrating the fall weather, why…
Sirius thoughts screeched to a halt. The reason for James’s abnormal behaviour had finally dawned on him.
Fall. It was mating season for stags.
It made perfect sense. For weeks Prongs had been rutting his antlers up against every available tree in the Forbidden Forest, scraping at their bark and leaving bald patches on their trunks. Peter had guessed that he was taking out some form of aggression on the trees, and even Remus had seemed quite perplexed by James’s activities. Now, however, it was all coming together.
Sirius rolled over onto his side and sighed, eyeing his furry friend. The great, beautiful stag pranced around the clearing, holding his head up high to display his giant rack. Even in Animagus form he was a show-off.
‘Merlin help me,’ thought Sirius.
Prongs lowered his head and charged at a tree, letting out a lonely, resounding bellow.
‘Actually,’ he corrected himself, ‘it’s Prongs who needs help, and loads of it.’
He wished Peter and Remus were around so that he could reveal his revelation to them. They might know what to do. Unfortunately, Sirius was the only one available to handle James at the moment. Remus was stuck in the infirmary after a long night romping under the full moon, and Peter was there with him, probably sneaking his fellow Marauder cauldron cakes and chocolate frogs and every other sort of sweet he could fit into the pockets of his robes. Their absence left Sirius to keep watch over James, which, up until this point, had been somewhat amusing.
The stag snorted and Sirius cocked his head to the side, examining it. Prongs had gotten his antlers caught in the shrubbery and was struggling to free himself. Sirius rolled over onto his back and stuck his feet up into the air, exposing his belly to the sun. Poor old Prongs couldn’t help but be amusing, even in his most desperate state.
It was a good thing he’d gotten James out of the castle, he conceded. Nearly every girl at Hogwarts had been the subject of James’s blatant ogling, and Evans nearly hexed him when he’d come up beside her, acting incredibly possessive as she spoke with Frank Longbottom. It was at that point that Sirius decided James needed to run off a little steam, rather than start something with Longbottom and find himself hexed by Evans.
So that was what had brought them out to the Forbidden Forest, and lead to Sirius’s realization that James was…twitterpated.
‘Better do something about it, then,’ he thought to himself.
He rose from his spot on the ground and, after stretching out his front and hind legs, trotted over to where Prongs was caught in the shrubbery. He gave a sharp bark and nipped at the stag’s ankles, which was their sign for returning to their true forms. In a matter of moments, both Sirius and James were facing each other. Poor James had all sorts of twigs and leaves tangled in his hair, which looked even wilder than usual.
Sirius snorted at his friend. “You’re horny,” he announced in triumph.
“Sirius,” James replied tiredly, running a hand through his hair in an attempt to free the debris, “I told you that I didn’t want that as a nickname. Prongs is much better.” He scowled. “Would you want me calling you Fleabag?”
Sirius’s sharp bark of laughter echoed throughout the clearing. “No, you dolt!” he said. “It’s mating season for stags. You must be feeling some of the effects.”
James’s eyebrows nearly disappeared into his fringe. “That can happen?!”
“I guess so.”
“Merlin,” James groaned, flopping down onto the grass. “How long will it last, you think?”
Sirius shrugged, unsure. “I couldn’t tell you,” he replied. He didn’t make a habit of studying the behavioural rituals of stags. “Perhaps until you get shagged?”
Another loud groan escaped James’s lips.
Sirius clapped him soundly on the back, leaving his arm looped around James’s shoulder. “Cheer up, mate,” he said. “It could be worse.”
James looked unconvinced. “Is that right?”
“Sure. It could be hunting season.”
Laughing weakly, James brought his knees to his chest and rested his elbows on them. “I wondered what my problem was,” he muttered.
Sirius gave him a reassuring squeeze. “One of the many,” he quipped.
James elbowed him in the chest. He said nothing, staring out into the clearing blankly. Sirius could feel the heat emanating from his body and shifted uncomfortably. Most everyone knew that James and Sirius were close friends; some even compared them to brothers. Indeed, they were very close, and Sirius trusted James more than he’d trusted anyone else in his entire life. He knew that in his heart of hearts, he would gladly lay down his life for James, and that—well—and that he loved him.
He just hadn’t admitted it to himself until this summer.
James didn’t know, of course, and Sirius wasn’t about to tell him. James plainly had eyes for Lily Evans, something that made Sirius a little jealous, admittedly. He always was a bit territorial. Anyhow, he sincerely doubted that James was harbouring any sort of romantic feelings for him. They’d shared a kiss once, years back, but it’d been done to prove a point and not as an admission of feelings.
Something stirred inside him, and he began to scoot away from James self-consciously.
James reached out his hand and placed it on Sirius’s thigh. “Don’t,” he said.
Sirius gave him a sidelong glance, wondering what James was playing at. James, however, didn’t move his hand. Sirius’s eyes flickered down to his thigh, surveying his friend’s calloused hand, his long fingers and dirt-stained nails. The stirring inside of him intensified, and he felt his cheeks begin to flush. He tore his gaze away from James, bowing his head so that his shaggy hair dangled in his face, obscuring it from view.
He was probably making too much of this. It was a friendly gesture, wasn’t it?
A nagging feeling tugged at the back of his mind. James had never touched him like that before. Sure they’d wrestled and exchanged fraternal claps on the back, but they’d never made contact that sent Sirius into such a state. He swallowed hard. Perhaps James was succumbing to his physical needs and using Sirius because he was readily available and…Sirius frowned…because he knew Sirius would respond. For the first time since that summer, Sirius wondered if James was aware of his affection. Would James use him like that?
The more important question was, did Sirius even care? His skin prickled under James’s touch.
Clearing his throat, he tried his best to remain calm. “Listen, Prongs…” He drifted off, wondering how to continue. All he could think about was the fact that James’s hand was on his leg.
“Hm?” James turned towards Sirius, removing his hand and peering at him inquisitively. His hazel eyes were bright and wide.
Sirius sighed. “I’m not sure what you’re thinking about right now—“
“—No, I doubt you are,” James conceded with a crooked grin. A gust of wind blew his already untidy hair on end, and a leaf was released and landed into Sirius’s lap.
“—but I think you have the wrong idea.” Sirius picked up the leaf and fiddled with it, bracing himself for James’s response.
James looked sceptical. “Wrong?” he repeated. “I’m never wrong. This is James Potter you’re speaking to.”
“Of course, what was I thinking? I should have realized that when I began to have trouble breathing. Your ego is suffocating.”
James laughed. “We’re well matched,” he said. Another moment of silence passed between them, this time longer than the last, and Sirius began to tear the leaf into tiny bits. Suddenly, James reached over and stilled his hands.
“Stop it will you? It’s irritating.”
Sirius huffed indignantly and opened his mouth to make a scathing reply, only to find himself stifled by a rapacious kiss. James had moved so swiftly that Sirius didn’t even have time to react, and even now felt a little slow on the uptake. Still, he couldn’t help but respond to James’s hungry kiss. Sweet Circe, what was he getting himself into? And when did James become such a good kisser?
The frames of James’s glasses pressed into Sirius’s skin, cool to the touch.
Sirius’s senses responded with an alertness that caused the hair on the back of his neck to stand on end. The presence of James’s hand on his own made his heart pound in his chest, and he inhaled deeply. James smelled of wet leaves and fresh soap and the autumn wind. Sirius emitted a strangled growl of content, even though every logical cell in his body knew that this was a one-time event and would never happen again. Bloody hell.
He moved his hand up to James’s hair, running his fingers through it and combing out the bits of twigs and leaves. He couldn’t stop if he wanted to. To be perfectly honest, he’d been waiting for this all summer.
Their kiss deepened, and the boys’ limbs entangled, shifting for balance, pressing against each other for more contact. There was hot breath against skin, the taste of salt and stale pumpkin juice, and glimpses of pale skin as hands boldly began to wander.
And in the midst of all of this--as James nipped at Sirius’s collarbone--Sirius sighed.
Deep down he knew this would likely be their first and last passionate encounter, but—he bit his lip to stifle a satisfied groan—the moment overwhelmed him.
Besides, James would feel better afterwards.
Peter was snoring. Loudly. Sprawled out on Sirius’s sofa, the mousy-haired young man’s mouth was gaping wide. An empty bottle of firewhiskey dangled precariously from his fingertips.
“Merlin, Peter!” a voice said irritably. James Potter sat on the floor, eating crisps out of a foil bag. Narrowing eyes, he took one of the crisps and tossed it towards Peter’s open mouth. It was a close shot, and the crisp bounced off Peter’s pale cheek and rolled into the couch cushions to be lost in the sofa that Sirius never cleaned.
“I’d have made it if I weren’t so bloody pissed,” muttered James. He shoved another handful of crisps into his mouth and began to chew.
Sirius raised an eyebrow. He’d just returned from tucking Remus into his bed. Poor Remus wasn’t much of a drinker and had just spent an unhappy half hour in front of Sirius’s toilet bowl. Sirius had decided that Remus deserved a decent place to sleep and gave up his bed willingly. Besides, he wouldn’t be bothered if he had to curl up on the floor somewhere. He’d passed out in worse places.
His gaze moved from James to Peter, who emitted a chainsaw-like snore that nearly shook the walls of the dingy flat. “He might very well be louder than a giant,” he mused. “How did I not notice this when we were at school?”
“Because you were never in bed at night?” answered James. “I seem to remember spending a lot of nights wandering the halls.”
“Possibly.” He was inclined to think that Remus had discreetly put some sort of charm on Peter’s bed curtains.
“D’you think he’d be angry if I silenced him?” asked James thickly, swallowing down his crisps. He wrinkled his nose, giving Peter a peculiar look.
“I think I’d be angry if you didn’t,” replied Sirius. He picked up a bottle of ale from the table and settled down onto the floor next to James, who pulled out his wand and waved it at Peter. Pettigrew’s chest heaved up and down, but this time there was no sound.
“Thank Merlin,” James said, pushing the bridge of his glasses up his nose.
Sirius nodded and tipped his bottle up to his lips, taking a healthy swig. When he was finished, he sighed contentedly and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. “You’d better hope that Lily doesn’t snore like that.”
“If she does, I’ll silence her, too.”
Sirius rolled his eyes to the ceiling and shook his head. James was obviously very drunk. “I doubt she’ll appreciate that.”
“I’d have a good night’s sleep,” replied James.
“Until she wakes up and strangles you,” retorted Sirius. He took another drink of ale, surveying his flat. It was a wreck. Beer bottles, liquor bottles, half-eaten food, and all other sorts of waste littered every available surface. He hadn’t really given the flat a good clean before holding James’s bachelor party, not exactly being the cleaning type, but it was irksome to realize that he’d have to give it another scourging so soon.
James must have been following his gaze, because he spoke up. “Frank offered to help clean up, you know.”
“I know,” Sirius replied. “He needed to get back to Alice, though.”
James laughed. “Because she’ll welcome his pissed arse right into her bed, you mean.”
The grin on James’s face broadened. “You’re clueless, Sirius. Frank could barely walk!”
“Gideon and Fabian were going to help him home. You know the old rule; don’t drink and apparate.”
“And you think just because he returns home safely Alice is going to be happy with him?” James shook his head in amusement, peeling the label from his bottle of ale. “He’ll be lucky if she lets him on her couch.”
Sirius arched a brow. “Would Lily let you into her bed?”
James tilted his head to the side thoughtfully, draining what little liquid was left in his bottle. “Lily is a lovely and understanding woman,” he replied. His words were beginning to slur.
“Which means no, of course.”
It was hard to believe that in less than a week’s time James and Lily would be married. Sirius had expected that they’d end up together, of course, but the end of James’s bachelorhood made it painfully obvious that their youth was coming to an end. Sirius wasn’t particularly happy about it. He would spend the rest of his life running as an animagus under the full moon with his friends, if he could.
James got up to get another ale, balancing precariously on one leg before staggering forward. “You need one?” he asked. Sirius nodded.
James grabbed two bottles and returned, unscrewing the caps. He held one out to Sirius, and some of the ale sloshed over the lip of the bottle. Sirius carefully took it from James and raised it up into the air. “To marriage,” he toasted.
“To marriage,” James echoed, proceeding to drink. He gave Sirius a lopsided grin, and Sirius noticed that his eyes were beginning to glaze over, slightly unfocused. It wouldn’t be much longer before James joined Peter and Remus.
“Are you nervous?” Sirius asked suddenly. He’d never been much for relationships himself, and the fact that someone like James wanted to tie himself down at such an early age perplexed him.
“Dreadfully,” James replied flatly. “But I know it will all work out. After all, I’m marrying Lily Evans.” He paused dreamily and swayed in his spot a little. “Lily Potter.”
Sirius nodded, swirling the liquid around in his bottle. “Who’d have thought she’d finally give in to your antics?”
“I knew it would all work out,” James replied. He teetered over to an old armchair by the fireplace. “It always does.”
“Does it?” Sirius asked doubtfully. Things never seemed to work out how he’d like them to, it seemed. Even now, when he was supposed to be celebrating the end of his best friend’s single life, he felt strangely void of emotion. He’d done his best not to appear sulky all night for James, though. James’s happiness was the most important thing right now.
He frowned sceptically and watched James flop down onto the armchair and settle back, closing his eyes.
“You’ll understand when you fall in love,” James said lightly. His voice was drifting away, making it evident that it was only a matter of seconds before he passed out.
Sirius brushed his hair out of his eyes to get a better look at James. His fringe was tousled, sticking up oddly, and his robes were half undone, sleeves rolled up to the elbows. Crumbs from the crisps he’d been eating stuck to his cheek, and his glasses had liquor spots on them. Sirius figured that they were from the drinking game he’d been playing with the Prewetts, something about taking a shot every time something about the wedding was mentioned. He wondered what Lily would think if she were able to see James’s present state. It was hard not to be fond of him, even in his most untidy moments.
“I understand now,” Sirius said, trying to veil the bitterness in his voice.
James nodded slightly and sighed. “I know you do, Pads,” he murmured drunkenly. “That’s why I love you.”
Sirius nodded, turning his back on his friend.
I love you too.