Chapter 1 : (but that was when i ruled the world)
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He’s expected to fill a mold – and it’s the mold that his father and his father and his father filled and it goes on and on and on just look at his family tree, you’ll see – and every part of it stinks. He’s not interested in combing his hair and dressing up funny and sticking his pinky out when he drinks something.
That’s for pansies.
And he decided, one blue summery day when the sky looked like every shade of freedom, that he was not a pansy at all, thank you very much, and anyone who made him feel like one was not to be respected at any costs.
And that was that.
So he was the dandelion in the grass, the red kite against the uniform blue sky, the sole smile in every family portrait; because he was determined to shine not because his blood was as pure as it comes, but because he had a heart and soul and he was not afraid to show it.
His mother grew to hate him. His father was so disappointed he could barely look at him. His brother trailed after him with stars in his eyes – and he didn’t care for any of it, because he was going to be invincible. Just you wait and see. He was going to set the stars on fire one day.
He was the Lionhearted Boy in a sea of writhing snakes.
This kid was all sparking hazel eyes – elbows and knees sticking out from wobbly limbs – messy black hair that stuck every which way – and that crazy smile that promised one hell of an adventure to anyone who was brave enough to join him.
James Potter was rebellion. He was untouchable, shining like fireworks over the sad empty world. He was that spark of something that shone so bright it was impossible to ignore his glow. He was loud boisterous laughs and a sly little smirk and a bundle of reckless energy and everything about him pulsated with life.
He was everything that a boy like Sirius could ask for as a mate.
And Best Mates with James meant long sleepless nights trekking paths on every nook and cranny of the ancient castle, of sneaking out after hours, of tickling pears and stuffing themselves full, of endless hours of rain on the Quidditch Pitch, of that rush of adrenaline from flying above the world, of lone candles flickering on parchment as they scribbled homework and studied where no one could see their coveted brilliance.
Pure freedom, unadulterated exhilaration.
And for the first time, Sirius Black learned how to love life.
He went home that summer. Holed up in his room so he didn’t have to deal with those disapproving stares, laughing over letters sent to James.
SIRIUS BLACK, YOU SAD PATHETIC EXCUSE OF A BOY!
That’s probably how Evans would start off writing letters to you, mate. Hate to say it, really, but it seems as though your self-proclaimed charm doesn’t quite work on everyone.
JAMES POTTER, YOU SELF-ABSORBED TOERAG!
Yeah, well, can’t say I’m too miffed. She hates you more.
No one asked you, anyway.
-James Potter the Great.
James Potter the Great,
Evans is definitely on to something. You’re a total git.
-Sirius Black the Utterly Awesome.
He became friends with Remus and Peter thanks to a couple of Slytherins. Slimeballs, the whole lot of them.
“Hey, you leave him alone.”
A small boy with sandy hair and an unsure smile, wand pointed towards a group of large Slytherins, standing in front of a small chubby boy with watery eyes and feathery blond hair.
He didn’t even look nervous.
“Yeah? Who’s gonna make me? Gonna get out your little second-year wand and hex me, you ninny Gryffindork?” They guffawed, pulling out their own wands. The feathery blond let out an involuntary whimper. Pathetic, really -- they weren’t even witty. But in situations like these, brawn tended to make up for any lack of brain.
James looked at Sirius. Sirius looked at James. A raised eyebrow. A twist at the mouth. A shrug, and the slight tilt of the head towards the scene. A nonchalant shrug.
Eh, what the hell.
They ended up in the hospital wing, Sirius with an eye swollen shut and dog ears, James with a broken arm and antlers, Remus bruised up with a smile that had toothless gaps and Peter, knocked clean unconscious.
It was so worth it.
They became The Marauders two years later, the masterminds behind every trick, the pranksters who walked in a bubble of easy grins and arrogant smirks and that carefully ruffled hair.
It was a little bit of a façade, but Sirius didn’t mind it much. The façade was a good thing, really, if it meant that they could be protected behind it. Because no one wanted to mess with the Marauders, and that meant that none of his brothers got hurt anymore. And that sort of protection was worth a little sacrifice.
But one Marauder without the rest was just a scrawny fourteen year old bloke with messy black hair and glasses. Walking alone in a corridor with his hands in his pockets and his eyes far away in a place consisting entirely of his thoughts.
“Oi, look. It’s the blood traitor.”
A blink, and he was surrounded on all sides by Slytherins. Blond hair and black hair and cruel grins and empty eyes.
“Evening, boys.” A charming, wary grin and a hand slipped into his pocket. “How can I help you?”
The Slytherin had laughed, his eyes like holes, head thrown back and everything. The cackle shattered against the walls and landed in little pieces of mockery on the ground (and bugger, I’m in for it now aren’t I).
“You’re pathetic, Potter. You walk all over his school like you own it, but you’re just a little boy with a magic stick stuck in a house with the mudbloods and blood traitors. What’s it like at home, Potter, living with your filthy, muggle-loving parents? You’re not worth the blood in your veins. You don’t deserve it.”
Okay. This was not good. He pulled out his wand – not sure how many of his defensive spells would work but hell, he wasn’t going anywhere without a fight.
“Listen, you –”
A sneer. “How about I get it all out for you, eh Potter?”
Blood running cold. Adrenaline, shooting straight to every limb. Fight. Fight fight fight.
“Better idea: how about you hightail your pathetic arses back to your little dungeon?”
True James Potter – yeah, he got his arse handed to him, but he did it with style.
“Why I ought to –!”
It was McGonagall who found him, lying in a puddle of his own blood in a dark corridor of the school.
“I didn’t do it, Professor, I swear!” he’d grinned that carefree smile at her stern face, not noticing that for once the line of her lips was not exasperation but pure fear.
“I don’t even want to get into that, Black,” she muttered curtly, “come with me.”
“What for?” he asked, jumping up and trotting after her obediently.
Her eyes flashed again, sorrow mixed with anxiety mixed with anger. “James got into a fight with a group of Slytherins.”
James. Of course it had to be him, that stupid, brave idiot.
And just like that, the smile was gone. And he was sprinting down that hall like his life depended on it.
And as he skidded to a stop next to that hospital bed, heart spluttering as he stared down at his lifeless best mate – all pale skin and ghostly gangly limbs and where was that fire? – he came to realize that yeah, his own life did depend on James’ life. Because James was more than just his best mate. He was his brother, his savior, the one reason he liked being.
And there was no way anything was going to take that away from him.
When James woke up, three days later, the first thing he saw was Sirius’ face, four inches from his own, drooling profusely into his pillow. James prodded him awake.
“Sirius. You’re drooling in my hair. It’s gross, mate.”
With a muttered expletive Sirius slowly sat up, cracking his neck as his eyes adjusted to the meager amount of light. They stared at each other for a bit, grey eyes into hazel eyes, best mate to best mate.
“Alright?” James finally asked.
Sirius grinned. “Yeah. You?”
And Sirius propped his feet up onto James’ bed, leaned back, and closed his eyes again. Madame Pomfrey would probably come to kick him out in the morning, but even she should know by this point that her efforts were rather useless.
Sirius wasn’t going anywhere without James.
The next week they found out that Remus was a werewolf.
James started researching animagi right afterwards.
The stupid, brave idiot.
Fifth year taught Sirius two very important things about James.
He was a total, absolute, head-over-arse idiot when it came to girls. No tact. Whatsoever.
He was in love with Evans. Not like he tried to hide his attraction towards her… but. Love. The real kind. Holy crap didn’t even begin to sum up how scary that seemed.
And why did he do it? It was stupid, baiting Snape like he did. But Snape had done it again – that sneer, the flash of pure loathing and stop talking about James like that you smelly-haired prat – and Sirius had sort of just snapped. Enough. Enough about Evans. Enough about James. Enough about Remus.
“Hey, Snivelly. I’ll tell you a little secret. There’s a knot on the Whomping Willow, on the trunk. It makes it freeze. Do with that what you will.”
It was James who’d gone after the evil little git, eyes blazing, a loud “WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING?!” shot over his shoulder, promising that this was not over.
They both turned up okay, but it was kind of scary, how close Sirius had come to causing the death or transformation of not one, but two students. His worst enemy and his best mate.
Merlin, how did that make him any better? How the fuck did that make him different from his sadist family?
“Why did you do it?” James asked wearily, when he came up from a thorough investigation from Dumbledore and found Sirius sitting at the foot of his bed, eyes dull.
“He was saying rubbish.”
“It doesn’t make it okay.”
Sirius closed his eyes. “I know.”
There was a small silence.
“I didn’t tell Remus,” James finally said quietly, and Sirius looked up, flooding with gratefulness.
“It’s still not okay.”
“I’ll apologize to Snape.”
James grimaced at the idea of it, and the tension broke; they shared a laugh.
“Yeah, you probably should.”
Snape ended up hexing Sirius so bad he was in the hospital for a week.
James reckoned that evened things out pretty well and snuck in whenever he felt like it. Which was pretty much whenever he wasn’t allowed.
They were sharing a pack of Bertie Botts when James looked up at Sirius.
“You’re nothing like them, you know.”
Sirius supposed he shouldn’t even be surprised that James had figured out the cause of his brooding silences.
“I almost set my werewolf friend on my enemy,” he muttered, crushing a bloodred bean between his fingers, “it doesn’t make me any better than them.”
James grasped his shoulder, making sure that grey and gold mixed in a clash of mutual respect. “Sirius. You’re different because you know it’s wrong. That’s what makes you better.”
“Blood traitors and the worst of the lot – I dealt with it, Sirius! But this is out of line. You will do what your family expects of you –”
“Oh shut up, woman!” Sirius barked towards his closed door, and for a second Lady Black fell silent out of shock, and Sirius continued to haphazardly throw what little belongings he had at home into his school trunk.
The door flung open in a shower of sparks and he snapped his trunk shut and grasped his wand in his hand, facing his mother’s livid face with a cold mask of disdain.
“You will join the Dark Lord, or you will face repercussions,” she said calmly.
Sirius laughed in her face, wild and free and almost a little frightening in its intensity. Then he shoved past her, banging his trunk down the stairs.
“Come back here, young man!” she shrilled, and Regulus froze in the doorway of the kitchen, watching with wide eyes and for a second there was a flicker of uncertainty, of pain and worry and then it was gone.
“I’m leaving,” Sirius spat, “don’t expect me back.”
“You get back here right now and do what is expected of you –”
“Frankly, mother, I’d rather die.”
And the door snapped shut behind him.
When James opened the door and found Sirius, bruised and with a trickle of blood along his bottom lip, he didn’t say a word. He opened the door wider and showed Sirius to a bedroom that was already made for him.
“She saw the bike, didn’t she?” James finally asked, leaning against the bedpost while Sirius mopped himself up, muttering curses at Bellatrix and Lucius for turning up in that alley.
He laughed. “Yeah. She saw the bike.”
A short silence –
“You know, my mum thinks muggles are fascinating. She probably wouldn’t mind the bike much. And she loves you.”
Sirius looked up at James, and the unspoken (I love you too. In a purely brother-like way) flitted between them.
“Stay a while,” he finally said.
Three weeks later, James’ parents were killed in an Auror Mission.
(Sirius stayed the summer.)
The house had never felt emptier, never been quieter. And there was something hard in Sirius’ chest, where his heart belonged, that ached and throbbed for James, but also for his parents, whom he’d grown to love.
And it was crying into James’ shoulder, feelings James’ fists digging into his back, that made him realize that they weren’t invincible.
Even the greatest of them can fall.
And sixth year, things changed. He knew it wasn’t going to last forever, that wild, carefree indifference they carried around like a protective covering. But sixteen almost felt too young to feel the weight of the world on your back.
But then again – hadn’t it always been there? Oh, they could pretend, they could hide under their smirks and carefully ruffled hair, but never had it been truly okay. Because they knew that Remus was a werewolf, that Sirius had a death sentence over his head, that James wandered around with a permanently broken heart, that Peter was just lost and worthless without his protectors.
Back then, they had needed those smirks and that carefully ruffled hair, just to make things easier. But now they were older, and Sirius saw it – the world is hard, but it’s even harder when you’re trying to be someone else, trying to ignore all the pain.
So he stopped pretending, stopped caring that he was under a spotlight and the school was his audience, and he decided that the best course of action was to be Sirius Black.
Remus had always been kind. James underwent the most change. Gone were the days that he ruffled his hair on purpose. Now he let it fall where it may – though it was always in the state of casual disarray. His arrogant smirk turned into a friendly smile, rude words into witty comments, haughty cleverness into quiet brilliance. All things to make his parents proud.
And the four of them turned inwards, keeping themselves close together and blocking out the rest of the world from getting too close because things had changed, hadn’t they? Nothing was safe, they weren’t kids anymore.
For the first time since their arrival at the school, no one at Hogwarts smiled or laughed just because they could.
It was Lily Evans who came to them, one day in January, her bright green eyes tired and a sad frown that seemed permanently etched on her mouth.
“You haven’t pulled a single prank this year,” she said without preamble, and James looked up from his Potions essay so fast his neck cracked a little, mouth hanging slightly open in utter bafflement.
“We’re aware,” Sirius said, and James darted a nervous look at him because he had never been particularly good at talking to Lily.
“Why?” she demanded.
“It was time to grow up,” James said simply, quietly, and they both turned back to their essays.
It wasn’t until an undignified sputter left her mouth did they realize that she’d been standing there for three full minutes, gaping.
“You – you can’t just decide to stop,” she said.
“Yeah we can,” Sirius said, “we decided. And we stopped.”
Lily seemed to be struggling with the mere idea of it.
“That doesn’t make sense,” she finally said, “you’ve been quiet and inconspicuous and…and…polite all year. Sirius, I haven’t seen your smirk for ages and I almost miss it! You haven’t said a single rude thing to me at all. James, you haven’t hung anyone by their ankles or messed up your hair or…where’s your stupid snitch? Huh? You’ve even stopped asking me out –!”
“Merlin, Evans.” A harsh laugh bubbled from his mouth, “The world doesn’t revolve around you, yeah? James is done getting humiliated, thanks.”
James looked awkwardly at his shoes and Lily flushed a dark red.
“This isn’t about me!” she finally said ferociously, “maybe it’s a little bit about me – because I was wrong. Whatever I said about you being arrogant berks and your pranks being stupid…it was wrong. Because I loved your pranks. I thought they were brilliant. Everyone did. You know, waking up in the morning was almost bearable because yeah, we read about the most horrific things in the newspaper but it was okay because in here we were untouchable. You four were always there to make the pain go away just a little, because we could forget all about it. You helped us all remember that there was always something to smile about, always something to laugh about even in the worst of times.”
There were tears brimming in her eyes and that made Sirius uncomfortable and strangely responsible for it.
“You kept us going,” she whispered, “you kept us happy. And I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why this year’s been so miserable…but it’s because we need the Marauders to survive. Laughing and having fun doesn’t mean you’re naïve. It just means you’re alive.”
She took a shaky breath and James looked pained.
“I need that reminder. We all do,” she said, so softly that they could barely hear it. And then with a whip of red hair, she was gone.
James met Sirius’ uneasy eyes with his own. A tilt of the head. A shrug.
Two identical, slow grins.
The next morning, fireworks erupted in waves of sparkles over the four tables and gathered in front of the gloomy clouds stretched across the enchanted ceiling. ‘THE MARAUDERS ARE BACK’ glittered down at them, and then with a series of hearty bangs, the Slytherins’ uniforms turned into tacky lion costumes (complete with whiskers sprouting from their noses). None of them looked particularly impressed, but the rest of the Great Hall erupted into cheers and whistles and laughter. It wasn’t even one of their best pranks – The Noodle Incident always won that particular title – but it was the most important.
It wasn’t until they saw McGonagall wiping away a tear, her smile stretched across her face, did they realize that Lily Evans had been right – the school did need them to stay happy, because if the pranksters were sad then things must really be bad.
The four of them stood up to wave and grin and laugh (and Sirius even smirked a little bit, just at Evans, because she had missed it ever so much).
But they weren’t back, not fully. Sure, they still walked around with their quick smiles and loud laughs. Sure, the school had been plagued with a series of pranks so unrelenting that the student body had taken to performing various protective spells on themselves to avoid the brunt of getting soaked with purple dye or turned into an iguana at random intervals. But they weren’t exactly back.
Because now when Sirius smirked, it wasn’t haughty or bored or arrogant – it was playful and careful and a reminder that they were still alive, not just living. Now James was suddenly charming instead of annoying, brilliant instead of arrogant, and helpful instead of an utter menace (as Lily had so lovingly called him once). Remus was still Remus, and that was always good enough. Peter was quieter, and his eyes didn’t fill with stars whenever James or Sirius was around.
They weren’t exactly back, because they were better. And it was bittersweet, that loss of childhood mischievousness that always seemed to be their label.
But, somehow, they were still back. And it was enough.
James made Head Boy and Sirius laughed and laughed and laughed until his chest hurt.
“Oh, he must be off his rocker,” Sirius squeaked, massaging his chest.
“Does this mean I’ll have to follow the rules?”
And James had sounded so miserable and horrified and disgusted by the mere idea of rule-following, hazel eyes wide and childish behind those glasses, genuinely concerned --
-- and Sirius let loose an unwitting bark of laughter. James’ eyes narrowed, clearly not amused by this blatant lack of support.
“You’re a horrible best mate, you moronic prat. I’m putting you in detention for this.”
The mental image of James putting anyone in detention was too much for Sirius to handle, and every time he caught sight of the badge for the rest of the summer he was overcome with a fit of relentless (yet manly) giggles.
Neither of them had thought about one very, very important thing: The Head Girl.
Of course it was Evans, and of course the minute he caught sight of that flaming hair his eyes widened dramatically behind his glasses and he pulled Sirius into an empty compartment.
“I can’t do it. I can’t. Not with her.”
“Sirius, you don’t understand! Every time I’m around her my brain gets all foggy and before I can even realize I’ve said something stupid and she hates me all over again. I can’t handle it anymore! Okay? I can’t stand knowing that she hates me.”
And that’s when Sirius knew that James went from being split into three -- his and Remus’ and Peter’s (but let’s face it, he was always Sirius’ a bit more than Remus and considerably more than Peter) to being split into four: one part for Lily Evans, and goddamn was that a pretty big part, too. Big enough so that Sirius felt a bit uneasy that maybe her part might one day be bigger than his part and he wasn’t so sure he’d be okay with that.
But he had to be because, well...it was Evans. And she was it for James.
So he clapped James forcefully on the back and told him to get his shit together (he was a grown-arse man for Merlin’s sake) and that if he acted like himself and not some second-rate fifteen year old pratty version of James, things would be fine.
And they were fine. The size of Evans’ smile when they stumbled out of the compartment -- after her initial hint that perhaps they were doing something not suitable for public eyes in there, upon which James turned cherry red and Sirius merely winked -- told him everything he needed to know.
Oh, yes. This was going to be an interesting year indeed.
And maybe James would finally shut up about her sunset hair or whatever he prattled on about whenever Sirius was forced to tune him out just in case love was contagious.
But he’d never truly loved Evans. Not Sirius. Sure, he liked her well enough, but it was the sort of thing where he put up with her more than anything else because, well, you know. James. He could never figure out just what made James feel so strongly for Evans.
Sure, she was pretty with all of that tumbling red hair and those glittering green eyes and that creamy skin. Sure, she was smart and witty. But she wasn’t special. James could warm an entire room with his eyes...but Evans just didn’t seem enough for all that spark and fire. She’d never be able to keep up.
But she did keep up. The first time Sirius felt a smidgen of James’ love was when she’d smirked at him as she delivered a prank idea, green eyes filtering a sudden, playful light -- and maybe she had her own little flame.
“Bloody hell, Evans, that’s genius.”
And little by little, Lily Evans broke down Sirius’ protective shell -- the full moon, when he first realized that she’d been staying up in the common room just in case any of them needed help since fifth year (“Of bloody course I knew, you dumbarse, what do you take me for?!”), that time when she hexed Snivellus with an especially hateful sneer on her face when he made tentacles sprout from James’ head for seemingly no reason whatsoever, the look on her face when she was in that corridor with those three Slytherins late at night and she didn’t know that he’d taken to following her around under the invisibility cloak (and he’d insist that it was because of James, but really, it was because he, Sirius, wanted to do it).
They’d fought them off together, and then Lily had turned to him, “I can take care of myself, Sirius!” And she’d smacked him on the arm for following her around “like some creepy stalker”. But then a couple of seconds later she’d hugged him fiercely around the middle and whispered that she’d always wanted a brother and in that moment he knew that he was absolutely buggered because now Lily Evans had two marauders wrapped firmly around her finger.
And there wasn’t anything he could -- or wanted to -- do about it.
Many, many morbid details, nights spent staying up to discuss her possible motives (all of which Sirius fell asleep during the middle of, since James didn’t believe in discussions and preferred to monologue instead), awkward snogging encounters that innocent bystanders -- such as the best mate of said snogger -- walked into, and countless wolf-whistles all delivered by one Sirius Black later, James and Lily decided to get married.
And naturally, Sirius was best man, and naturally, he embarrassed the crap out of them when he delivered that speech.
And many years later, when Sirius was falling through that veil and Harry -- Harry, with those piercing green eyes set in the middle of a face so achingly familiar it made his stomach jump even after all those tears were shed because he knew James was dead but it always hurt all over again -- Harry was still smiling at him, half-frozen between that look of triumph and a shock so sudden it was as if he didn’t even realize he was surprised just yet, Sirius knew he was dying. And the last thing he saw before a flash of pearly white was James and Lily, the two people he loved most, in the form of a Lionhearted fifteen-year-old boy.
He knew that Harry was going to be okay, even if he didn’t have Sirius anymore, because he was Harry and he was brilliant, and he was half-James and Half-Lily and of course he was going to be okay. It wasn’t the best time to die, but since when had dying ever waited around for anyone to finish up their affairs? Death was death, and Sirius figured that if his time had come, so be it. It was alright.
And when he opened his eyes again, he saw exactly what he knew he was going to see: James, grinning with Lily beside him. And, at last, he was home.
oh hey guys. yeah. i'm still alive.
since this is incredibly awkward because you all probably hate me for being MIA since like, ever -- that is if you're still here, which if you are, thank you -- i'll take this time to say a couple of things i'm sure you guys have been dying to know:
1) no. i'm probably not going to finish my stories.
2) i fully agree that for this, i suck on all levels of suckage. and if you tell me that i suck i'll agree but feel badly about myself and no one wants to destroy my self-esteem, right? right?
3) college is fun but time-consuming. refer back to 1.
4) there probably will be random one-shots in the future simply because i can't just stop.