Go Down Laughing
Written for the SBRL Fuh-Q Fest.
With huge thanks and much love to my wondrous beta-reader, Rochefort, not only for betaing but also for knowing exactly what I tried doing here and making it better.
And with much love to one Jadis, one Ni, one StereoM and one Soupytwist for, well, everything.
There they are again. Sitting underneath our tree; Sirius humming to himself, a blade of grass hanging from his mouth, Remus hanging over a book, lips moving noiselessly. I can feel Peter's presence behind me. All is well; all is normal.
Those two must think they're being so subtle. They must also think I'm blind. Well, I may not be the most sensitive of men, I may not be a sensitive little ponce - oh, bad choice of wording here - but I can cotton on in some cases. Remus's foot doesn't have to be accidentally touching the cloth of Sirius's t-shirt. Sirius's blade of grass doesn't have to be grazing Remus's elbow. I know what they're hiding from me and Wormtail, and I've known it for a while.
I started to notice it towards the end of our fifth year, almost two years ago now. Sirius had never shown much interest in girls, but I'd always chalked it up to the troubles at home, as well as simple arrogance. He knows he's It, and almost all the girls at Hogwarts are in love with him, so he wants to show off a bit, not take any notice. ('Almost all' because he isn't the only one who can swagger about, of course. The other ones are in love with me. Well, at least partially. In any case, a few of them definitely are.) The point is, none of them had ever seemed to catch his fancy. I once saw him staring at what I thought was nothing, looking all thoughtful, quite unlike him, at least to outsiders. When I finally turned to see what he had been looking at, all I saw was a couple of blokes walking off, talking and laughing. I wasn't sure what he'd been gazing so seriously at. It started to make sense a bit later on. He'd noticed me watching him that time. He just sort of turned away and didn't say anything. I saw his ears had gone slightly red.
Once, when we were fifteen, one girl decided to take her chances and actually ask him to go to Hogsmeade with her. I found that pretty bloody impressive - few girls really dared, almost always assuming they'd get shot down - in the most charming manner, of course. This one had enough bollocks, not to mention she was quite beautiful. What was there to object to? Sirius told us, flicking his quill between his fingers, that her earlobes were a different size. He said 'no'. I couldn't believe it - her earlobes? There was a rubbish excuse if ever I heard one! I turned to Remus in indignation. I couldn't believe Sirius could be that arrogant and actually expect a perfect woman to come along and let herself get swept off her feet just by him twitching, or something. However, Remus immediately buried his nose in his book again, and simply shrugged.
"What do you say to that, eh, Moony?" I prodded him again. He shrugged once more and muttered something about Sirius being free to choose any excuse he wanted to turn a girl down. I turned to Sirius again, but to no avail. He met my eye but something was telling me he was hiding. It was clear he knew the excuse was bollocks, but he didn't offer an explanation or anything. I turned back to Remus after that, and then I began to understand. It was disturbing as all hell, let me tell you. I mean, I love them both - but like brothers. I had always expected, in all the years of my friendship with Sirius, that we would do everything together - annoy girls, and later, as our bodies began to catch up with the rest of the world, notice them in other ways. That we would talk about girls; share adventures that didn't include other males. So, what the hell happened?
Remus was a different story. Remus was always quieter, more subdued, and, well, closed-off. He was always difficult to read. Hell, we were even convinced by his stories of ill and dying relatives until we realized that no one could have so many ill relatives without being the next one to kick it. Whenever you asked him a question, he would just bury his nose in his book, though you could tell he wasn't reading it. He was just avoiding you. I never really noticed him looking at any girls, though this time I didn't assume arrogance. More like shyness, though what did he have to be shy about? Sure, all right, he's a werewolf. But only, what, two, three days out of the month? Yeah, he looks a bit peaky, has bags under his eyes, but I heard girls really like that sometimes - something about 'tortured souls'. Well, if anybody has a tortured soul, it's our very own werewolf. And I'm not queer or anything, but sure I know he's attractive. He's got those nice grey eyes that change color sometimes. He isn't fat, or too short - in fact, he's all compact and has a nice arse, from what I can tell. (I once heard two girls talking, and they had mentioned it, so don't get any ideas.) In any case, Remus shouldn't have had anything to worry about, and should have been looking at girls just as much as I had been. Or Sirius. Basically, were both stranger than I thought they should have been.
Then Sirius had that horrible row with his family and finally ran off. I'd been telling him to for quite a while, I told him - come, live with me, it'll be brilliant, and you'll get rid of those bloody idiots for good. Well, he felt quite bad about it - besides, he wouldn't have had any money. There didn't seem to be a single member of his immediate family who wasn't a complete Dark Arts nutter. Once I thought I was going to wring his mother's neck, the bitch was swearing blue murder at him, and then had the gall to praise that brother of his. A complete idiot gets praised, while Sirius gets the fucking shit beaten out of him. Well, he ran off, and a good job, too. He escaped from that bloody prison and came to live with me. Turned out, he had discovered a decent uncle among the lot - gave him money, and all. In fact, he's going to get his own place as soon as we leave Hogwarts. But, in any case, while he was living with me, I had started to notice things that made me even more suspicious.
He used to owl a lot - and I mean, a lot. At first, I thought - finally, a girl! Now we're getting somewhere. I asked him, at last, who he was writing to. He sort of shrugged and didn't answer. He didn't answer. To me. His oldest mate in the whole entire world. Well, that got my hackles up. I didn't say anything then, but kept pestering him. We're friends, remember? I can pester if I want to. I kept trying my luck with Lily during that time, too, and she kept turning me down. I didn't understand, but what the hell - girls are strange creatures. I keep asking her now why she always did it, and she just shakes her head and tells me I'm dense. Well, I'd like to know what she's doing with me now, if I'm so dense. I don't dare ask, though, she just might leave. Can't imagine what I would do then, really, she just sort of... gets under my skin. Kills me, that one. In any case, Sirius kept shaking his head, and finally I just tore one envelope from his hands and saw that it was only Remus's name on it.
"So, why wouldn't you tell me, you idiot?" I asked him.
He just sort of looked at me, slowly took the envelope back, and finally said, "Well, who knows, Prongs. Probably because you might get funny ideas, we all know you can be a real freak sometimes."
"Oh, really, like I wouldn't have known by now if that was the case!" I laughed and walked off. It was only later that I realized that perhaps I did know. The letters seemed quite lengthy, and the replies that I saw him get were equally so.
It was so strange, you see. On the one hand, I thought: ok, so he and Remus are... what? Boyfriends? As in, wanting to snog and all those things that I had fantasized about with Lily? All right... And on the other hand, I simply couldn't wrap my mind around it. I mean, you always heard how this or that person was queer, and how perverted they were, evil and all that nonsense, molested children and whatever else they did. But Sirius did none of that, and neither did Remus. Thinking about them kissing was just such a joke - I mean, they were blokes! Why would they want to kiss another bloke? I decided to laugh it off then, and go back to thinking about Lily, or Quidditch, or anything else to get my mind off it.
Well, we started our seventh year. Sirius and I were the first ones on the platform out of the four of us. And I knew something was going on with him. The bloke couldn't keep still. Kept pacing, lifting his trunk as if to move it, then putting it back down again. I told him where the bog was, but he said he didn't need it, not really looking at me. My parents were there, too, saying goodbyes, warning us about Voldemort once again, even though we all knew to be careful, and we were going to be. Really. Well, to the outsiders, anyway. In any case, I didn't notice it when Remus showed up. The only thing I noticed was Sirius sort of going still next to me, but I was too busy to turn around and see why. Only later I heard Remus's voice as they talked quietly. Then they went off somewhere, and just then I had noticed Lily walking onto the platform, and there was not much more that I was paying attention to.
We sat on the train then, and Sirius sat down next to Remus. I decided to see if my mad suspicions had any grounding at all. Remus was leaning against the window, looking out, and he was smiling, so very slightly, you wouldn't have noticed it had you not been looking for it. His hand was lying next to his leg, holding the seat. Quite uncomfortable, really, he would have been better off putting it on the table or in his lap, but no, it stayed where it was. Sirius's was right next to it. I turned to Peter to see if he'd noticed, but he didn't appear to. I had, though.
We didn't talk much on the journey. There was little to say. It was our last journey to our last year at Hogwarts. After that, we all knew what would happen. We'd have to fight. There was no question on whose side, of course. Dumbledore had already told me quite explicitly where I would have to be, and where would Sirius, Remus and Peter be but with me, with all of us? In any case, there wasn't much talking. I was still trying to comprehend that my best friend was... well...
Don't get me wrong. I hate prejudice. And now I realize that whatever it was that I was feeling was just another type of prejudice. I mean, we - well, at least some of us, everybody knows what those Slytherins are like - are taught as children to respect people different from ourselves, such as Muggles, or other species. And, hell, there was Remus, the school's closeted werewolf, and he was one of my best mates. But this... this we're not taught about. We have to overhear about it, from adults, or cackling peers, or what have you, and it isn't all good. In fact, poofs are pretty much ostracized. I thought about how Sirius and Moony would have to deal with being queer, and couldn't imagine it. I couldn't have imagined not being able to talk about Lily to anybody else, when all I wanted to do was shout to all that would hear that her beautiful red hair was driving me crazy. And that she could yell at me all she wanted, she was all the more perfect for it. In any case, it must have been hard for them. And still, that feeling of strangeness, queerness, wouldn't leave me alone. I knew that deep down inside, I was hoping that it wasn't true. Perhaps they had some sort of other secret, like they were inventing new dungbombs, or magicking random wands to squirt water when performing Expelliarmus!, or something. It was stupid, I know, but I was only human.
Sometime during the journey, Remus took out a book to read, while Sirius took out some parchment and a quill. Perhaps he was going to work on some Quidditch strategies, I thought. And then I saw him writing - not drawing - and Remus had begun to laugh quietly, in that huffing little snicker he has. I peeked around my own Quidditch magazine and saw words appearing under his quill, filling the empty pages. I knew then. I just did. My best friends were poofs. Now what was I supposed to do?
Next chance I had, I went to the library, determined to settle this thing once and for all. I mean, if my best friends were going to be poofs, I had to know what the hell it really meant beyond shagging someone with a dick. Well, I found that it didn't mean anything else. They were still themselves. They just weren't interested in girls. I didn't care what else those books said, I had learned to see through bullshit well enough after having read The Daily Prophet for years. I knew what was lies and what was the honest-to-God truth. So, they just wanted to shag and be shagged, nothing more. Sirius was still Sirius, my best mate; Remus was still Remus, my other best mate.
Except that wasn't all of it. I knew that there was a big omission in all those books. It wasn't just shagging. If it was just shagging, Remus wouldn't have had that silly little smile on his face. Sirius wouldn't have been twitching all summer long when no owls showed up for hours at a time. If it was what I was beginning to feel for Lily, that same gut-melting, wretchedly wonderful feeling that I got whenever I so much as thought of her, then they were in love. It really came as no surprise, in the end. Why wouldn't they be? It suddenly became simple. My best mates were in love. And, strange, I know, for a bloke, but I found myself happy for them. After all, we don't know what will happen when we leave Hogwarts. When we really start fighting, who's to say that we won't die trying? So, why deny happiness, even such a strange one?
That year I was determined to get Lily, and I finally did. And no one begrudged us what we had. Well, I wasn't going to be an ungrateful twit. I began to protect those two. Of course, they didn't know that, but that wasn't the point. Rumors tend to spread like wildfire in this place, and soon people began talking. Little things - an insinuation here, an insult there, and all this behind their backs. And they were so lost to the world, they never even noticed, not even Remus with his sometimes frightening perceptions. So, I gave out punches for them. I had to tell some to shut their filthy mouths, others to get lost and not spread rubbish rumors around. I couldn't tell all those bastards what I really thought - it would have made things worse for Padfoot and Moony - but I could use my new head boy powers for good. There were quite a few points deducted from Slytherin during that time. Those two still don't know, but the rumors have ceased. At least, the malicious ones. I overheard two girls talking in the library stacks the other day, whispering about how adorable it was, with Sirius and Remus. I snorted and left. Let them talk about that, let at least some be happy for them. They bloody deserve it.
I just wish Sirius would talk to me again, like we used to do when we were kids. I don't want to hear any details, obviously, those can definitely be spared, but just to know that he trusts me. That would just... I don't know... reassure me in us again. But I understand why he doesn't. I undertand why he averts his eyes every time I look at him for a bit too long without saying anything. I understand why Remus chooses to bury his nose in his book, when I know his foot is touching Sirius's underneath the table. I just wish it didn't have to be that way.
Sometimes, I look at Lily and silently thank Merlin for her. I'll never tell anyone this, of course, but I feel like this is It. All the stupid rubbish we'd done when we were kids, it seems to be so pointless now that the shit has really started to hit the fan. I hold her and the world seems to right itself again, just for a little while. Yes, my arms are supposed to feel this body encircled in them. Yes, my chin is supposed to fit just like it does above her fiery head. Yes, she's supposed to sigh just like she does when I happen to breathe on her neck. Awfully mushy, I know, but it's funny how easily I'm turned to mush around her. Well, if that's what they feel, then let them be. Let them be happy. I don't want to know what happens behind those curtains, but I do want it to be good for them.
I get up from the ground and go to look for Lily. She should be getting out of her class by now. Peter gets up and follows me, like I know he always will, while Sirius and Remus remain. I never turn around when I walk away from them. I don't want them to worry. But just this once, I turn while Peter isn't looking. Sirius leans up on one elbow and looks up at Remus who has finally abandoned his book and is returning the gaze. They just look at each other, and I immediately think of Lily. That's how we look at one another. No one else is around anymore, and it seems to give them a fleeting sense of freedom. Remus leans down and I see them kiss. Well, it isn't as strange as I thought it would be. They're just kissing, like all couples do. I start to turn away, but a movement catches my eye as I do. Sirius throws two fingers up - very clearly in my direction - and breaks off the kiss. He looks at me and finally grins. Remus turns too, with a slight look of surprise. His face looks flushed from the kiss and he quickly turns around, burying his head in Sirius's hair, though I see his shoulders shaking. I grin back at them, and throw my two fingers up at Sirius.
Now, see, was that so difficult? Honestly. And he calls himself my best mate.
Peter gives a small smile and we trudge up to the castle leaving the two lovebirds - should I say canines? - to their kissing. Fuck it all. If we're to go down, we're all going to go down laughing and loving. Who knows, it might even save us.
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