A/N: Thanks to my amazing beta, Arianrhod, and thanks to Ian for inadvertantly inspiring this fic.
Disclaimer: Harry Potter and all related characters etc. belong to JK Rowling. Crazy Little Thing Called Love belongs to Queen, and God Only Knows belongs to the Beach Boys.
Dedication: To my Nain, who is the most incredible 80-year old on this planet, even if she does choose to have her birthday during SugarQuill submission dates.
This thing called love, I just can’t handle it
This thing called love, I must get round to it
I ain’t ready
Crazy little thing called love
Strangely enough, Peter was the first to notice. Strange because, as Peter would be the first to admit, he’d never been that observant. Of course, he didn’t need to be the first to admit it as plenty of other people would admit it for him. Strange, too, because he didn’t spend as much time with Sirius as any of the others did, though that may have been an advantage. He had been in France for two weeks just before the Potters’ wedding, and so hadn’t seen Sirius for about a month when he Apparated into James’ flat that morning.
The groom was sitting at the kitchen table, looking rather green around the gills as he clutched a large mug of tea.
“’M getting married this morning,” he said, looking up at Peter through bloodshot eyes. “’M getting tied down at the age of 21.” He took a large gulp of tea. “’M getting married.”
“You said that already,” said Remus, who was leaning against the worktop, looking amused. “You’re marrying Lily, remember?”
“Lily,” James said wistfully, staring at the depths of his mug. “I love Lily. She’s so beautiful. And intelligent. And beautiful. She’s got red hair, you know.” He confided with pride.
“Yes, James, she’s very beautiful,” said Peter, smiling in what he hoped was a reassuring way. He leaned over to Remus and hissed: “Is he drunk?”
“No,” said Remus, now definitely trying not to laugh. “He was a bit tense when we arrived this morning, so Sirius decided to do a Sedatus Charm on him. I think he overdid it a bit.”
“Sedatus Charm. Isn’t that the one which makes you relax?” Together they looked back at James, who was humming contently and tracing patterns on the tabletop with some spilled tea. “Ah. Where is Sirius anyway?”
Remus grinned. “Guess.”
Peter thought...then grinned back. “Fixing his hair?”
Remus gasped in mock surprise. “How on earth did you know that? Anyway, he should be done in another hour or so.”
“I heard that,” said Sirius' voice from the doorway. He entered the room and walked over to clasp Peter’s hand.
“Wormtail! Great to have you back. How are you? I haven’t seen you in ages. How are you feeling? How was France? Did you have fun?”
“It was...fine, thanks.” Peter said, rather surprised at this unusual display of affection. He raised an eyebrow at Remus, who shrugged, and might have commented had James not chosen that moment to get up from the table and throw himself on Sirius.
“I love you, Padfoot, do you know that? You’re my best friend. One of my best friends. And my best man! So you’re like my best best friend. And I love you.” A thought seemed to occur to him. “Not like I love Lily. That’s a different kind of love.”
“That’s...good to know, Prongs.” Sirius looked round at the other two and sighed. “Time to sober him up?” They shrugged in response.
“But I’m not drunk...” said a puzzled James. Sirius ignored him and pulled out his wand.
James blinked a few times, shook his head as though clearing it, then strode over to Sirius and hit him hard on the back of the head.
“Ow! What did you do that for?!”
“You moron, Padfoot! Can you imagine what Lily would have done to me if I’d turned up at the wedding in that state?” All four men stopped and shuddered for a minute at the thought of the wrath of Lily Evans, soon to be Potter.
“All right, point taken. You didn’t have to hit me though.” It looked as though Remus recognised that Sirius was spoiling for a fight, as he quickly interjected, saying, “Have you two seen the time? You’re still not dressed, James.”
James glanced at the clock, swore, and practically flew out of the kitchen, Sirius quick on his tails. Remus made to follow but Peter held him back.
“What’s wrong with Sirius?” he asked. Remus raised an eyebrow.
“Nothing, as far as I know.”
Peter snorted. “Come on! He looks a bit glum for today, doesn’t he? And what was all that stuff when he saw me? I think that’s the most words he’s ever said to me at one time. I thought that since you live with him, you might know what’s going on.”
“I hadn’t really noticed anything,” said Remus, looking thoughtful. “I imagine that he just feels a bit strange about the whole thing, the wedding and everything. I mean, he and James have been best friends for so long, even though he’s happy for them, it’s got to be weird for him.”
“I suppose so...”
“Just you watch, he’ll be fine tomorrow.” Remus clapped Peter on the shoulder and strode out of the room. Peter watched him go, unconvinced. Since when does Sirius mess up basic charms, anyway?
The rest of the day passed as such occasions tend to do. The groom conquered his nerves in time to say his vows coherently, the bride was agreed by everyone to be both beautiful and radiant (and if anyone noticed the slight shakiness in her voice they kept it to themselves), and if the best man seemed to be a little out of sorts, no one except Peter seemed to notice.
Unaccustomed to Muggle ceremonies, and feeling uncomfortable in the unfamiliar clothes, he spent most of the ceremony observing what was going on around him. To start with, there was a clear divide between the Muggles and the wizards in the room; quite apart from the obvious fact that most of the wizards looked like children playing dress-up (apart from those who had just not bothered with the Muggle dress code, and were attracting rather strange looks from the other side of the church), the wizards all had sombre, nervous or apprehensive expressions on their faces, or a mixture of all three. Peter knew what Lily and James were trying to do, getting married so young, having a large, public ceremony, and inviting all of Lily’s Muggle relatives, but he was still not convinced of the wisdom of this decision. They were trying to make some sort of statement, but a small ceremony with only immediate family and close friends would have been a great deal safer. For everyone.
Taking advantage of the fact that, as usual, no one was paying any attention to him, he observed a great deal throughout the service. Like Lily’s sister who, despite her parents sitting next to her and wearing identical expressions of pride and love, was looking decidedly bitter, and indeed was watching James with an expression of deepest loathing. Carol Harper, who had always been rather taken with James, was looking as though she was at a funeral as opposed to a wedding, though the boyfriend sitting next to her was sporting a huge grin. James’ mother was crying openly with happiness and James’ father was looking as though he was only stopping himself from doing the same with extreme difficulty. An old uncle, who was fast asleep in the back row, started snoring ever so slightly during the signing of the register. Remus, sat next to Peter, looked much the same as he ever did. (Peter thought he heard him sniff at one point, but he must have imagined it). The bride and groom themselves both looked very nervous and very happy.
And the best man...well, perhaps only someone who’d shared a dormitory with him for seven years would notice, but something was definitely wrong with the best man. He covered it well for most of the ceremony, but during moments when he must have thought no one was watching, he would suddenly lapse into an expression of deepest gloom.
Peter grew more and more puzzled by Sirius’ behaviour as the day went on. After the ceremony they all decamped to a local hotel for the reception, another Muggle tradition Peter wasn’t familiar with. Sat on the high table, Peter had less opportunity to observe Sirius directly, but an event soon occurred that made up for that. Apparently at Muggle weddings, it was traditional for the best man to make a speech. It appeared that no one had informed Sirius of this fact, but he was willing to give it a go anyway, a fact that didn’t surprise Peter in the slightest. Show off, he thought idly as Sirius got to his feet, paused for a second, and began.
“I first met James when I was eleven years old, and in severe trouble with my cousin Bella...”
Ten minutes later, Peter sat dumbstruck at the table whilst everyone else scraped back their chairs and disappeared to the dance floor.
What the hell had all that been about? What was all that stuff about “friendship being the most important thing in the world, ever, and if you couldn’t rely on your friends, who could you rely on”, and so forth... Admirable sentiments, true, but surely not terribly relevant to the occasion? And he had sounded as though he was about to burst into tears when talking about how “love could be agony, but when you love someone who loves you back, it must be so beautiful...” And what on earth was all that stuff about socks?
Peter was quite sure he wasn’t imagining it now. There was definitely something up with Sirius, and, despite his earlier lack of success, he was going to get someone to listen to him.
Knowing he would have little opportunity to speak to James or Lily today (which was a pity, if anyone would listen to him it would be Lily), he decided to try his luck with Remus again. He seized his opportunity as soon as he left the dining room, finding Remus standing at the side of the dance floor, a glass in his hand, watching the dancing couples.Peter knew very little about Muggle music, but the upbeat song playing at the moment was certainly filling the floor. Even Peter himself, under no illusions as to his dancing ability, was having difficulty stopping himself from tapping his feet.
“They look very happy, don’t they?” he offered as way of a greeting.
Remus looked around, startled – he obviously hadn’t seen Peter come up – then smiled.
“James and Lily? They really do.” They stood in silence for a moment, watching the bride and groom make their way around the floor, then he spoke again.
“Do you think they’re doing the right thing? Settling down so early.”
The question took Peter by surprise, but he had no hesitation in saying “yes” immediately.
“They’re James and Lily,” he expanded. “If anyone can do it...I mean he’s been in love with her since he was about twelve.”
Remus smiled, a far away look on his face. “Remember when she finally agreed to meet him in Hogsmeade, in seventh year? It took us five days just to get him to shut up about it.”
“And when she agreed to marry him, of course. I still don’t think he’s come down from that.”
“True. I have to say, if anyone had told me in fifth year that we’d one day be standing and reminiscing at their wedding, I’d have said they were mad.”
Peter laughed. “Do you remember the time she told him she’d rather go out with the Giant Squid?”
“Actually I don’t. When was that?”
“It was in fifth year, I think.” said Peter. “Yeah, it must have been, as we’d just finished an exam. Defence, I think it was.”
A slight frown appeared on Remus’ face, but he said lightly; “That’s right, I’d forgotten that.” Peter decided it was an apt time to change the subject.
“What did you think of Padfoot’s speech?”
Remus laughed. “Interesting, certainly. But quite amusing.”
“You didn’t think it was a little…odd?” Remus gave him a questioning look.
“Not really. It must have been difficult for him,” – he lowered his voice – “trying not to mention Hogwarts or anything that the Muggles might pick up on. Apart from that I thought it was fine. Why?”
“Well, it’s just that...” Peter hesitated, unable to put his feelings into words. What exactly was wrong with the speech? He tried again. “Does Sirius really not seem to be behaving strangely to you?”
Remus sighed. “I’m not saying you’re wrong. But Sirius’ life is his own business. It might just be Order stuff, or it might be his job – they’re working him pretty hard at the moment.”
“Or,” said Remus, beginning to grin, “it could be the most simple thing of all. He could be in love again. Remember when he fell head over heels for Alistair Turner? He certainly wasn’t acting like himself then.” As he spoke, the music changed to a slower, gentler song, and many of the people dancing left the floor.
I may not always love you,
But as long as there are stars above you,
You never need to doubt it...
James and Lily were one of the few couples still left on the dance floor, and as Peter watched Lily laugh at something her new husband said, his attention was caught by an odd sight. Sirius was on the opposite side of the room, sitting in a chair with arms folded and glaring fiercely at the bride and groom. Looking back and forth between the two, a germ of an idea began to form in Peter's head. But it couldn't be true. Could it?
“I like this song,” said Remus, apropos of nothing in particular.
...God only knows what I’d be without you...
“Yes,” said Peter absently, not really listening. He was vaguely aware of Remus leaving a few minutes later but Peter stayed where he was, transfixed by the enormity of his idea. What if it was true?
A few hours later, having availed himself of several glasses of champagne and spent a significant amount of time observing Sirius, Peter had almost convinced himself that he was right. The bad mood, the speech, the over friendly greeting…it all added up, and though Peter may not have been that observant, or, let’s face it, that great at exams, he was not stupid. He was perfectly capable of putting two and two together and coming up with, if not four, then a fairly reasonable approximation. The only problem was what to do about it? The ideal solution would have been to talk to Lily, but she had disappeared somewhere; James, on the other hand, was heading in Peter’s direction. It may have had something to do with the champagne, but Peter decided that the best plan was to grab James, drag him into a corner, and explain his idea.
James looked slightly taken aback at being manhandled in this fashion, but having had a respectable quantity of champagne himself, he seemed willing to hear Peter out. Hesitantly at first, then gaining in confidence, Peter explained how he had been watching Sirius all day, and (with thanks to Remus) had come up with the only possible explanation for his behaviour; Sirius was in love with James.
James exploded with laughter; then, seeing Peter’s face, his own expression turned to one of anger.
“Tell me you’re not serious.”
“I’m perfectly serious. Do you have a better explanation?”
“Explanation for what? There’s nothing that needs explaining!”
“Well I think there is. Why does he keep glaring at the two of you? What was all that stuff in his speech?”
“What nonsense, Peter. I don’t believe a word of it.”
“Now really, that’s enough.” James said, with just a hint of warning in his voice. He waved at Lily, who was weaving her way through the crowds towards them, then turned back to Peter and lowered his voice. “Sirius has got enough on his plate – come to that, we all have – without you making stupid accusations.” Ignoring (or perhaps not seeing) the sullen expression on Peter’s face, James kissed his wife as she came up to them, and pulled her back to the dance floor, leaving Peter alone in the corner.
I know I’m right, he thought sulkily. Why won’t they listen to me?