Harry Potter, Evening the Score

Title: Evening The Score [MWPP]
Rating/Warnings: R for the severity of some of Sirius’ secrets.
Summary: After the Trick, Sirius just wants things to be even again.
A/N: I ran a mini-challenge after this where a few people elaborated on Sirius’ secrets.

Evening the Score

“What do you mean he won’t see us?” James demanded incredulously.

“He means me,” Sirius said angrily. “I’ll leave, just tell him I was here.”

“No, Mr. Black,” Madam Pomfrey’s face was set in a grim line. “He has given me specific instructions to let none of you visit him.”

“I…none of us?” James’ jaw dropped.

“None of you,” Pomfrey confirmed briskly. “Until he leaves the infirmary.”

“But we brought him chocolate!” Peter said plaintively, holding out the bag of chocolate frogs as evidence. Madam Pomfrey’s face softened the tiniest bit.

“I’ll give it to him,” she said, taking the bag from him gently. Her not-scowl returned as she glanced back as Sirius. “But you cannot see him. And that is final.”

After Pomfrey had gone back into the infirmary, door swinging firmly shut behind her, James gave Sirius one last scathing glance before stomping down the hallway.

“Yes, that’s right, don’t speak to me!” Sirius shouted after him, furious and irrational. “Go polish your damn award why don’t you?! Services to the School? More like Services to Dumbledore Under His Desk!”

James didn’t even flip him off, and Sirius turned to punch the wall angrily. Peter looked helplessly from James’ back to Sirius twice before scampering off after James. Sirius cursed until he was making up words, punching the stone wall the whole time, leaving behind red smears.

* * * * * *

Remus hid in the infirmary for three days. He clearly was hiding, they all knew it, because to admit that he might be spending the time preparing his parting words to them was too scary for any of the other three to properly embrace.

James threw his award in the very bottom of his trunk and refused to speak about it. The first time Peter brought it up, James screamed at him so loudly that Peter didn’t say another word the whole day, except for the initial “Fuck you.”.

Peter was the only one of the three who continued to visit the infirmary. He showed up at the door every morning before breakfast for three days running, his hopeful expression crumbling at Pomfrey’s head-shake each time. He put on a brave face every time, though; he simply handed Pomfrey the new bag of chocolate and asked her to tell Remus that they hoped he was feeling better.

Sirius was caught fighting so many times he was put under Gryffindor house arrest, only allowed to attend classes and meals, and even then had to be accompanied by at least one other member of his House. James made a point of going out as much as possible, and never being present when Sirius had to go anywhere.

So it was that Sirius slammed into their room after dinner on the fourth day, furious about having to be escorted by a Second Year, to find Remus sitting calmly on his bed. Sirius stopped short. After looking at Remus and having Remus stare right back for about half a minute, Sirius dropped his gaze to the floor and waited for hammer to fall.

Remus remained silent.

“Well, go on then,” Sirius finally broke, ripping his gaze up from the floor to glare at Remus defiantly. “Tell me you hate me, and whatever else you want to say. I can’t fix this and I can’t buy my way out of it, which is all I’m good for generally, we both know it. So just get it over with.”

“Tell me you want us to be even,” Remus said.

“Yes,” Sirius said, clenching his fists and growling as several of the cuts over his knuckles re-opened. “How?”

“You gave away my secret,” Remus answered. “I give away one of yours. Even.”

“I don’t have any like yours.” Sirius eyed Remus suspiciously.

“You have them,” Remus assured. “You’ve got some only the Marauders know. Some only I know. Some I don’t even think you know.”

“Fine then,” Sirius shook off his curiosity with a flex of a shoulder. “What secret? When? To who?”

“I didn’t know. Neither will you.” Remus shrugged lightly. “Even.”

“Even?” Sirius repeated. “Really and truly?” The implication that this was far too easy ran thick through Sirius’ tone.

“You don’t know who,” Remus gave a humorless smile as he slid off Sirius’ bed and returned to his own. “And you don’t know what.”

Remus yanked his hangings closed, leaving Sirius standing in the middle of the room. After a long while he crawled into his own bed fully dressed and pulled the hangings shut.

He laid in his bed silently while James returned and had a fierce whispered conversation with Remus, and when Peter came back and received Remus’ hushed reassurances. He laid still as Peter’s snores started up, and then James’ murmurs in his sleep, but he heard only the absence of Remus’ deep and even breathing.

He could almost hear the gears in Remus’ head turning.

* * * * * *

Breakfast. With all of Hogwarts. Four Houses, Seven Years.

Remus is sure to do it here, Sirius thought as he buttered his toast violently. Perhaps he’ll stand up on the table and call for silence. Maybe he’ll just go up and have a word with Dumbledore.

Remus was drinking his hot cocoa as calm as you please, and he seemed likely to go nowhere and announce nothing to anybody. Sirius began to shred the untouched toast into dust.

“You all right?” Peter asked softly, risking a glance at James, who was wrinkling his nose at Peter’s treacherous address of the ex-friend.

“Fine,” Sirius barked. Remus gave him a sharp eye over his cup of cocoa. “I’m fine,” Sirius repeated, slightly less gruffly.

Sirius tensed when Remus stood.

This is it. He’s going to tell them all. Remus took several steps. How I set up a spell to take a few points from Slytherin’s House counter every day and that’s the reason Gryffindor’s won four House Cups out of five no matter how many points I lose.

Remus stopped behind his seat.

“Coming to class?” he asked, raising an eyebrow. Sirius stared up at him in surprise for a moment before gathering himself up and leaving the uneaten toast behind.

* * * * * *

Transfigurations. With their Head of House. And the Hufflepuffs. And two dozen parrots guaranteed to repeat anything overtly embarrassing.

Sirius tensed when Remus raised his hand.

This is it. He’s going to tell them all. McGonagall called on Remus, who cleared his throat. How I slipped McGonagall a Copying Quill that gave me all her exams ahead of time and sold them to desperate Hufflepuffs all Fourth Year, and then gave everyone the wrong answers at the end of the semester just for a laugh.

“Did you want me to turn in my missed work now, Professor?” Remus asked.

* * * * * *

Evening in the Gryffindor common room. Most of their House relaxing, studying. The few real friends that Sirius had outside the Marauders, all present and accounted for.

Sirius tensed when Remus tapped Lily on the shoulder and said something in a low voice.

This is it. He’s going to tell them all. Lily shouted for silence, then turned to Remus expectantly with all the rest. How I’m really a Slytherin, how the Sorting Hat told me that Dumbledore had ordered it to Place me in Gryffindor, but it knew I was really just like the rest of my family deep down.

“We’re going to have a House meeting tomorrow night,” Remus announced. “Please pass the word along to those who aren’t here.”

* * * * * *

10 PM in the Sixth Year Boys’ Dormitory. The Marauders and the roommates, the sharers of personal space.

Sirius tensed when Remus said “Hey” to attract the others’ attention.

This is it. He’s going to tell them all. Remus looked around. How I came back from summer holidays with scars across my back from my mother’s cursed belt buckle and begged him to heal all the places I couldn’t reach so nobody else would know.

“Has anyone seen my pajamas?” Remus asked. “Or have I left them in the infirmary?”

* * * * * *

11 PM sitting on James’ bed with the hangings drawn. The Marauders. The only people whose approval Sirius needed, none of whom were really speaking to him.

Sirius had tensed when Remus called the emergency Marauder Meeting. Only James was allowed to call emergency meetings. That was how things worked.

This is it. He’s going to tell them all. “We’ve got some things to get straight,” Remus said in a hard voice. How Bella caught me in a closet and I let her do what she wanted to me and I’ve never told anyone, only Remus knew because he could smell her on me but he thought I didn’t know about him yet.

“If you three are coming out with me next month,” Remus stared at each of them in turn. “We’re going to do it my way or not at all. And you’re going to have to find something better to swear by than your honor as a Marauder, because I think we’ve all seen what that’s worth.”

* * * * * *

The middle of the night in Sirius’ bed. Sirius laying on his bed limply, wrung out from the tension of waiting for Remus to chose his moment, his secret, his confidant.

He thought he’d rather got the point by then. Remus owned Sirius a thousand times over, knew dozens of secrets that could break Sirius if spilled in the right place to the right person. Some of them might break Sirius if they were simply said aloud, several of them so painful and so painstakingly buried in Sirius’ memory that merely excavating them for consideration today left Sirius feeling like he’d been dragged bodily over the shards of a broken Pensieve.

Sirius tensed when his hangings slid aside and Remus climbed in to sit on the end of his bed. He didn’t bother to rearrange his expression, knowing Remus would see right through it anyway.

“Do you understand now?” Remus asked. Sirius nodded.

Then he stopped. And shook his head.

“No,” he said. “My secrets are painful, hell, some of them are horrifying. Some of them have the potential to ruin my entire life. But they won’t get me killed. I could’ve got you sent to Azkaban. I could’ve got you Kissed.”

Remus remained silent, waiting for more.

“We can’t be even, never,” Sirius said grimly. “Tell anyone anything you want. We won’t be even.”

“James?” Remus called softly, not looking away from Sirius. A sort of fatalistic relief washed through Sirius. Of course it would be James. The professors, the other students, the Slytherins, the Gryffindors, none of them really mattered half as much as James.

“Remus?” came the muffled reply.

“Come here a minute,” Remus said, and Sirius heard rustling from the bed beside him.

He felt frozen as James crawled onto his bed and sat beside Remus, looking from one to the other in sleepy confusion.

This is it, Sirius thought numbly. He’s going to tell James how…how…

Sirius went blank as he tried to come up with which of his secrets would make James turn away, make him hate Sirius, or worse, pity him. Remus clearly had something in mind, but Sirius could not think of a single thing that James didn’t know that he wouldn’t be able to take. James was his best mate, his brother. Sure, they weren’t speaking right now, but Sirius knew James loved him just as surely as he knew that all Professor Flitwick needed to join the cast of Cabaret was a stepladder.

In the half-second pause before the revelation, Sirius was possibly more curious than James about what would come out of Remus’ mouth.

“Sirius fancied you for years,” Remus said without preamble. “That’s why he detested Peter so much at first, and still when Peter fawns all over you. He couldn’t quite separate the fact that he was attracted to boys with the fact that he loved you. He’s got it mostly sorted now though, or at least he would if he admitted that fooling around with girls is not as fulfilling for him as he claims it is, but there you are.”

Sirius and James stared at Remus.

“Bob’s your uncle,” Remus said in tones of finality when no one said anything.

Oh good god, Sirius thought quite clearly. That’s not a secret, it’s not even true, it’s…

James opened his mouth, glancing at Sirius, then back at Remus.

…oh fuck me, it IS true. Sirius felt his stomach drop out and wanted to run away, run screaming into the night rather than hear whatever James’ response to this great truth would be.

“But I knew that,” James said, puzzled, glancing uncertainly from Remus to Sirius.

Sirius blinked.

“Ah,” Remus smiled very faintly as he met Sirius’ gaze, “but Sirius didn’t.”

“Well, Sirius is a daft git, isn’t he?” James snapped, his already-short temper with Sirius not being improved by this random exchange.

“Wait…” Sirius’ head was still spinning. “You’re…we’re all right?”

“No, we are bloody well NOT all right!” James practically screamed in his face. “But it’s because you’re an excremental excuse for a human being, not because you’re so dense you couldn’t figure out if you wanted to shag me or not, you insufferable ferret!”

“Oh,” Sirius said faintly, still unsure what had just happened.

“Thank you,” Remus nodded at James. “We’re finished with you, I think.”

“Like fun you are!” James snarled, snapping his head around to Remus. “What do you think you’re about, getting me out of bed in the middle of the night for some cryptic exchange and then sending me off like I’m some First Year?! Just where do you get off?!”

“Go back to bed, James,” Remus said firmly, staring James down. Sirius felt his jaw drop. Apparently, Remus had spent the extra two days in the infirmary nursing enough Skele-Grow to get a backbone.

“Fine,” James grumbled, but a bit more subdued. “Next time you two lunatics decide to play Unburden My Queer Soul in the middle of the night, leave me out of it!”

James flung himself angrily out of Sirius’ bed, getting himself tangled in the hangings so badly that Remus had to reach out and untangle him, which only made James angrier. Remus and Sirius heard him throw himself violently onto his own bed.

“And if there’s going to be any more soul-baring, put up a bloody Silencing Charm!” he shouted.

“Shut UP, Potter!” one of the roommates yelled.

“Sod off!” James spat back.

Remus waited a few minutes for things to settle down before speaking.

“How do you feel?” he asked.

“Exhausted,” Sirius said honestly. “Weird. Like that should have been much scarier than it actually was.”

“Like you were so sure the world was going to end that you almost wish it had just so you wouldn’t be so confused?” Remus asked. “Like you’ll spend the rest of your life waiting for the other shoe to drop.” Sirius nodded, swallowing. “Even, then.”

“Even,” Sirius whispered. He paused, thinking. “But not okay?”

“No,” Remus shook his head. “But I think now we might be, eventually.”

He left Sirius’ bed and returned to his own. Sirius spent a long night trying to sort out whether the relief he felt that Remus might someday forgive him outweighed the worry about his sudden sexual revelation.

By dawn, he began to suppose that it all worked out even.

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