You see them come down the stairwell, Remus following James, and you are about to say something when you overhear their row.
"You're just being stupid," Remus says to James, and you fight to keep your eyebrows from shooting up in surprise. Remus is not usually one to insult one of his friends, and never in front of others.
"Piss off," James says in response, and this time you can't help yourself. Your eyebrows, you are sure, are raised high enough to get lost under the dark hair that tumbles across your forehead.
Remus sighs and stands still, looking forlorn and lost, with his brow furrowed and the corners of his mouth turned down. He stares at James silently, his eyes practically swimming in a sea of misery. You feel sorry for him. Clearly, this is James' fault. James can be even more of a prat than you can, sometimes. But you watch over the edge of the book you are reading, your legs dangling from the side of the armchair closest to the fireplace.
"Just listen and let me explain-"
"What's there to explain?" James interrupts Remus angrily, his face twisted with fury. "That I don't understand what's going on? That I'm a complete nutter for thinking what I do?"
You attempt to lighten the mood with your loftiest voice. "Well, you are. A nutter, I mean."
James glares at you, and you stare back at him haughtily, more than a little annoyed now.
"Piss off," he now says to you. Your annoyance rises, tasting like bile and feeling like acid, burning the lining of your throat.
"What are you two fighting about?" Peter asks from his perch across a small table from a fourth year, a Wizard's Chess set between them. He looks at James and then Remus. "Maybe we can help."
"You can't," Remus says flatly and rudely. You slam your book shut.
"Then go upstairs to the privacy of the dormitory if you want to compare cock sizes and beat each other up about it," you say loudly. "Pete and I don't want to see it!"
James looks livid. "I'm leaving," he says, and then heads for the portrait hole.
"Kiss and make up, for Merlin's sake," you say to Remus. "Follow him. Make him come back so you can bury it." You manage to soften your voice. "Deeply, if possible."
Remus winces and shakes his head at you, his hair looking dishevelled. He looks tired. "No. I'm going back upstairs." He leaves, and you look over to where Peter is looking worriedly at you.
You shrug. "This will blow over by tomorrow," you tell him. After all, friends usually did not let something stupid come between them.
Breakfast is a quiet affair. You sit next to James, across from Remus, and you look around. Remus is shovelling bacon into his mouth at a rapid rate, his eyes glued to his plate. You can hear James chewing noisily beside you. Peter, who's sitting beside Remus, looks at you sadly and shakes his head. You shrug and attempt to lighten the mood.
Biting an enormous chunk of sausage off and chewing, you moan quietly and swallow. "There's nothing like a nice, hot sausage going down your throat to fully start your morning, eh?" You hear James choke on whatever he is eating, and across from you, Remus is fidgeting and fumbling with his goblet of pumpkin juice, his cheeks pink for some reason.
"Yes, it IS quite tasty," Peter says, and you give him a small smile for helping you out. But James and Remus do not speak.
You can't help but sneer. "Are you two going to act like bloody wankers all day?"
Remus sighs in a manner that grates on your nerves. "Isn't there an essay due for Transfiguration today?" The git doesn't even wait for an answer; he's up and out of the Great Hall before you can think of something else to say.
Peter says something, though. "So...Prongs. Has Evans given in to the Potter charm, yet?"
"I don't want to talk about that," James practically hisses while smashing his fork into his eggs.
You look at Peter, who looks at you, and you both exchange a Look. Something would have to be done. Soon.
Remus does not show up for the first lesson of the day, which is Potions. You catch James looking worriedly at the empty seat and wonder if what they fought about really mattered enough to drive them apart like this.
When the Transfiguration lesson is about to start, you look around the room and notice Remus sitting in the back row by himself. He sees you looking at him and smiles sadly, but he does not get up. You feel angry at this, and you turn back around.
After the lesson is over, you latch onto James' sleeve and pull him quickly to the back of the room. A flash of light brown tells you that Remus is avoiding you and Peter and James once again, and you shove James ahead of you and yell, "Oi, Moony, wait up!"
Remus hears you. He waits down at the end of the corridor, his head down, his thin lips almost white from pressing them together.
"Sorry," he says before the three of you can reach him, "I had to finish that essay. I meant to do it last night."
"Why didn't you?" Peter demands boldly, and you feel wild admiration for him.
James, apparently, does not want to hear the reason that Remus is about to give. He jerks his sleeve out of your grasp and stalks away, muttering, "Lunch. I'm going." You turn around to find Remus staring after him sadly.
"Follow him," you urge Remus gently. But a hardness settles over his eyes and he looks straight at you.
"Bugger off," he tells you.
You're shocked, but only for a second. "What's stuck up YOUR bum?"
He smirks. It is not a response that you expect. "Absolutely nothing at the moment," he says nastily. He shifts the bag strap over his shoulder and leaves you and Peter standing in the middle of the corridor.
"He's off his head," Peter remarks, stunned. "Moony never acts like this."
You agree. "We need to fix this. It's getting old." You scratch your chin, contemplating, and then say, "You go after him. I'll catch up to Prongs."
Peter hesitates. "But I'm hungry," he says almost apologetically.
But you are, too. So you just nod. "Tonight, then."
You both head towards the Great Hall for lunch.
Remus is already in Defence Against the Dark Arts when you arrive. He is sitting in his usual seat with his inkpot and quill and parchment out. James rushes ahead of you and sits in the seat furthest away from Remus, which is actually Peter's usual seat.
You sit next to Remus, leaving Peter to sit next to James. Leaning over, you speak quietly into Remus' ear. "You're avoiding us," you accuse.
The tension is so thick that you couldn't blast through it with your wand. Remus is silent, and you feel anger welling up inside of you.
"Fine," you practically spit into his ear, but you don't care. "Have it your way. You and James are being complete tossers, though." You jerk away and choose not to speak to Remus for the rest of the lesson, even though he looks over at you several times, which you notice out of the corner of your eye.
Remus and James have made this your problem; yours and Wormtail's. It's not fair on either of you.
When the lesson ends, you look over to see James staring at Remus sadly. You thought he was angry with Remus. What was this sadness for?
But then he notices you, and he hastily picks up his bag and leaves the room. You follow quickly, not waiting for Peter or Remus.
James is standing outside of the door, waiting for you. There's a small bit of gratitude at this, for James was your friend before anyone at Hogwarts, and you do not want to lose him over something that's not even your fault.
With this confidence that he's not angry with you, there's something that comes out of your mouth rather easily. "Why are you upset with him?"
The two of you start walking. He keeps his gaze ahead of him. "I can't tell you. I mean, I could, but it wouldn't make sense unless you knew something else, and THAT'S what I can't tell you. Not without his permission."
"His permission?" You are bewildered. "What do you mean? You have to have his permission to talk to me, now? What next; is he going to forbid you from wanking?"
You notice that he is blushing, but you don't know why. "Erm," he sputters, "well...no." He sighs. "I just can't say anything without letting him know, first. I'm sorry."
"What happened to there being no secrets?" you demand. When you, James, and Peter had figured out Remus' secret in second year, you all vowed that keeping secrets was stupid.
James actually looks guilty. 'Good,' you think. Maybe he'll tell you, now. "I know," he says. "I'm really sorry, Padfoot."
Bugger. You feel resigned, so you decide to give him one last ultimatum and leave him to sort out this problem with Remus on his own terms.
"If you don't make up with him," you say, "then this secret will fester between us. Our friendship will be overrun with infection and disease. Our bond will decay and crumble."
You can see that he knows you're right, despite the fact that the words are poetic and a little over-dramatic. He nods, just once, and he doesn't speak to you again until later.
You wonder if Peter is talking to Remus.
You decide to bunk off of your last lesson for the day because you are upset. Dragging your bag of books, you enter the portrait hole and trudge up the stairwell, your eyes drooping and your body fatigued. The tranquillity of your quiet dormitory hits you hard, and you drop your bag on the floor beside your bed and fall into the shadowy bed space. You draw the curtains shut, thinking about what could have driven James and Remus apart.
They've always been close. They're both hard-working and fierce in their loyalty and beliefs. Remus has taught James about the Muggle world. James has taught Remus about Wizarding history that's not in the books. They fit, and you think about the different ways that they do as you drift into the blissful oblivion that is sleep.
You hear movement. You hear whispers. You keep silent and still, the darkness shielding the fact that you are awake.
"There," you hear a soft voice murmur. You think you hear a moan.
You are confused.
"I'd never cheat on you." It is Remus' voice, quiet and a little hoarse and low. It is coming from the side of your bed that James sleeps on.
"I'm sorry. I thought..." James. And he trails off to moan, and you realize that it was him, before.
"It was just a tutoring session," Remus whispers. "You don't have to be jealous." Silence, and then, "God. The way you taste..."
A sound of something wet and slick is almost deafening in the room, and James moans again, and you suddenly understand what they are doing.
You listen to them. You listen to the way one's voice is harsh and frenzied, and you can almost imagine what they look like, Remus' mouth above James' hips.
Do you listen? Do you lie awake, hearing them make love on the bed beside yours, the darkness pressing in around you? Do you feel arousal lacing through your veins at the thought of them, bodies naked and wiry and slowly moving? Does your cock get hard at the sounds they make, the music of groans and pants filling you with need?
You roll over, your back to the direction of the sounds. In the black of silence, you smile.
This day, you and your friends are closer than ever.