Remus didn’t respond to Sirius’s revelation straight away. He looked pensieve, and made a noise which to Sirius, sounded disapproving.
“Right.” He said. Sirius thought he might burst with expectation.
“Moon, is that all you’ve got to say?”
“Well what do you want me to say?” Remus replied. “Sirius are you sure this is what you should be thinking about now? What with Regulus and everythi...”
“Would you please forget about Regulus? I just told you I’m in love with Lily Evans!”
“Okay,” he said finally, studying Sirius’s face. “So, er – what do you plan to do about it?”
“I don’t know.” Sirius answered. “I don’t think there’s anything I can do.”
“Has anything ever happened between you – I mean, besides that night at the party?”
“How do you know I...”
“I saw you, remember?”
“You didn’t see me kiss her, I would have remembered, I wasn’t that hammered.”
“Right,” Lupin answered. “But I as good as saw you. And so it was you that made the first move?”
“You’re judging me Remus.” Sirius murmured. Lupin looked apologetic.
“Sorry Padfoot.” He said. “I’m not honestly – I’m not saying that you don’t really care about Lily, or that you haven’t thought about the way James feels about her...”
“I do care about her – and I have.” Sirius insisted. His frustration was evident as he continued. “It sounds bad though, I get that. Me and James are like brothers, he’s the best friend I... I mean, no offence Moony,”
“Well I mean, I care about him too, and I don’t want to do anything to make him hate me. But Lily is ... special.”
“Obviously,” he agreed “if she’s managed to get you besotted, as well as James.”
Sirius laughed along, but it took effort. He put one hand to his forehead and fell back onto his four-poster.
“Merlin, Remus.” He said. “What do I do? I’ve never felt like this before.”
Out of the corner of his eye, Sirius glimpsed Remus’s exasperated expression.
“I’m not sure I can cope with this.” Lupin said. “Not both of you.”
“Tell me what I should do then.”
“I can’t. This is between you and Lily. Does she like you back? I mean, as much as you like her?”
“I don’t know.” He answered. “Sometimes I think so. We spent a lot of study time together over Easter...”
“Did you just say ‘sexy time’?!!”
“No!” Sirius raised his head up in indignation, then let it fall back, with a loud laugh at the look on Remus’s face. “Study time, mate. That was just your dirty mind at work.”
Remus looked embarrassed.
“Yes, well. Anyway...” he stuttered. “She does like you then, not James?”
Sirius considered this for a moment. It would be nice to think that. But then, there was that look he had seen sometimes in Lily’s eyes when she talked to James. It had been there after the quidditch match, when they had guided him up to the hospital wing. And that night in truth or dare, when they had kissed for the first time. Sirius suddenly felt angry, more at himself than anything.
“Dunno.” He muttered. Remus hesitated, unsure whether he was still required to give his opinion.
“Well,” he began, “maybe if you’re not sure, then that’s a sign that you should just be friends?”
Sirius gave a non-commital grunt.
“Sirius,” Lupin continued gently. “Do you really think this is worth risking your friendship with James over?”
“No.” Sirius answered, unconvincingly.
“But I want her.” Sirius almost whined. “It’s not fair.”
Lupin had trouble suppressing his laughter as he answered.
“Life’s not fair.” He said. “But at least you’ve got it better than me. You two are moping after Lily Evans, but you could get any girl you wanted. I’ll never be able to have a girlfriend, it would be too dangerous...”
“Oh shut up Remus, no it wouldn’t.” cut in Sirius dismissively, sitting up. “You just worry too much.”
“We’re not all as reckless as you, Sirius.”
“Reckless? Me?” Sirius laughed loudly. “Well, reckless or not, you shouldn’t be jealous of me and Lily. I doubt anything’ll come of it.”
“You didn’t sound so sure a minute ago.”
Sirius looked over at his friend, and when he spoke again, it was in a more serious tone.
“Well,” he said. “I’m starting to see the pointlessness of it. Maybe it’s me she wants now, but she’s meant to be with James. I know it, everyone else knows it – and I think she knows it too.”
“Deep.” said Remus.
“Yeah,” Sirius replied. “It’s a shitty situation, but there’s not much I can do about it. Just accept fate, enjoy what time I can have with her.”
“Behind James’s back?”
“I deserve some good things in my life don’t I?”
Remus had no answer. To his mind, Sirius had lots of things to be thankful for, but he knew better than to mention this, especially in light of Regulus’s recent betrayal. Looking at his friend, Sirius saw Remus’s face grow thoughtful, as if trying to think up a soloution.
“Look Moony,” Sirius began again. “Don’t worry about it – forget I ever told you, okay? It’s no big deal.”
“I think James might see it as a big deal.”
“Yeah. Yeah he would. Which is why I’m going to ask you not to say anything to him. It’ll probably fizzle out anyway.”
“But I thought you were in love with...”
“I am, I am. But James comes first.”
“Then why not break it off with Lily?”
“Because...because it’s the one thing in my life that’s going well right now – okay?”
Remus was silent. He could see the flawed logic in Sirius’s decision, but again felt that it wasn’t his place to say more. Sirius answered to no-one. The two boys looked at each other, an uneasy silence stretching between them. Remus finally broke it.
“You do what you think best Padfoot.” He said. “I won’t say anything to James – of course I won’t.”
Sirius smiled gratefully in return.
“Thanks.” He said, and to prevent any further awkwardness, jumped down from his bed and wandered over to the window.
“What’s going on down there?” he asked, looking out. In the courtyard below, a crowd of mostly female students were gathered around two large tables, while a girl in hufflepuff quidditch robes stood atop one of them, shouting out through a magical megaphone.
“Tickets, get your tickets here!”
“Tickets?” Sirius muttered.
“For the Quidditch Society’s ball.” Lupin informed him. “You know how they put on some kind of charity event most years? This time round it’s a ball – for May Day.”
“Merlin help us.”
“Could be fun.” He said.
“Yeah right.” Sirius pushed back his hair irritably. “It’d be fun if I had no strings attatched – but I’ve sort of got Lily, and I can’t take her. And she’s going to be upset about it.”
“Do you think she’ll go with James? He’s bound to ask her.”
“No. She wouldn’t do that to me. She’ll probably just go with her friends.”
Lupin raised an eyebrow.
“What about you?”
“Me? Oh, I’ll just ask some randomer probably. Just so it doesn’t look suspicious – I mean,” Sirius asked his friend, without a hint of irony, “No one would believe that Sirius Black couldn’t get a date. Would they?”
Lupin was spared from replying by the entrance of James, who was grinning widely.
“Discussing dates are we Padfoot?” James said. Sirius flinched only very slightly.
“Yeah,” was his reply. “You asked Evans yet Prongs?”
“Nope. But I’m gearing up to it.” he said. “Taking your advice Padfoot, don’t want to scare her off again, just as I’ve got her to like me as a friend. I’ve got to play it cool now.”
Sirius’s heart sunk. He had experienced a guilt free couple of days - full of pity for his brother and himself, he hadn’t had the time to feel sorry for James. But now the full force of what he was doing came crashing down on him. He had trouble looking into James’s face, as he found himself nodding an agreement.
“She’s an idiot if she doesn’t say yes.” Sirius muttered to James, the truth of his words dawning on him as they left his mouth.
“Aw, thanks Padfoot.” James replied, grinning sheepishly. “I think I am making progress. Don’t you think so Moony?”
Remus smiled awkwardly and nodded. “It seems so.” He said. James turned back to where Sirius was standing.
“So, what about you.” James asked.
“What about me, what?”
“Who are you planning on taking?”
Sirius shrugged and turned to look back out of the window.
“To the May Gay ball?” he asked, dismissively. James laughed. Sirius’s eyes scanned the courtyard below, and waving his hand vaguely in the direction of a huddle of yellow robes he said.
“Her –that one who plays for hufflepuff.”
James crossed to the window and looked out.
“Blonde or brunette?”
“Nice choice Pad, but do you even know her name?” he was grinning.
“It’s Rowan Finnegan. Lisa’s little sister – Irish, Hufflepuff seeker.”
James laughed loudly, slapping Sirius on the back. Yet behind them, a tiny crease appeared in Remus Lupin’s forehead. This couldn’t end well.
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