The Sugar Quill
Author: Grim Lupine  Story: Memory  Chapter: Default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.


            Disclaimer: Not mine.

            A/N: One thing that I rue, because I absolutely love James/Remus or James/Sirius stories is that they can never really end happily unless the story is an AU. WARNING: THIS STORY HAS A PG-13 RATING.


“I swear, you have a memory like an elephant, Jamie,” his father always says as the bespectacled six-year-old throws his words back in his face time after time after time.

            James scratches at the wood of the desk with his half-chewed fingernails as he rattles off the list of ingredients and properties and procedure from memory, and Remus-with-the-steady-hands follows him seamlessly.

            James crows and thrusts his fist in the air, waving the paper around like a flag. History of Magic—the only class where all that you need is the ability to regurgitate facts onto paper, and thus the only class where James beats out Remus without fail. He turns to face his lanky, grinning friend, and fights the impulse to stick his tongue out.

            A second later he realizes that he’s James Potter, and so does not need to fight any such impulses. He pokes his tongue out, and Remus responds in kind. Sirius laughs his curious bark of a laugh and throws his arms around them, and the three of them prowl the hallways like a pack. Peter follows as an almost-not-quite-there, and James absurdly thinks that the smaller boy is rather like a hangnail.

            He remembers, with sharp intensity, the smile on Remus’ face when he tells him about his newly discovered redheaded angel called Lily Evans. (She was always there before, but now just seems…even more there. Like her hair got redder and her eyes became greener and she became more noticeable.) His friend’s lips curl up, and he shows a little tooth, but James thinks that the smile has an edge to it. A razor-sharp edge, and James looks closer and the smile looks more like a mockery of a smile, and before Remus turns away, James thinks he looks as if the smile would shatter into a million pieces if he says one more word.

            James thinks there’s something wrong with his head.

            He wonders if it’s possible to lose the brakes in your head.

            It happens when he walks from class to class in the hallway. He searches and finds Lily, Lily who is laughing with her friends and walking slowly, and his head keeps turning and turning until he sees Remus, walking straight and brisk, bag slung over one shoulder.

            This happens over and over. He looks for white skin, and long fiery hair, and brilliant green eyes, and instead finds himself gazing after a long, lithe body and smoldering amber eyes and scars that oddly enough add to the allure that is Remus Lupin.

            James decides the way to solve this problem is to walk through the halls with his eyes tightly shut.

            The look on Remus’ face after the Shrieking Shack incident will stay engraved in James’ mind for months on end. The night seems to go by as if he were looking through someone else’s eyes. He sees himself shove Sirius hard enough to knock him to the ground, and he runs off to pull Snape out of the tunnel, and he stands there impassively as Dumbledore tells him that he has shown exceptional bravery, and only when his feet take him to the hospital wing does he snap back down to earth. Dumbledore has been there already, and when his footsteps echo in the silent room, Remus looks up at James with a mixture of pain and betrayal, and James feels his heart wrench excruciatingly. He wants to take the bruised and battered boy in his arms and hold him until that raw look is gone from his eyes, but instead he makes some mumbled, ineffectual comments about how Sirius is an idiot, and don’t worry, Snape won’t tell anyone, and it wasn’t your fault, it wasn’t your fault. James reaches to embrace his friend, falters, and grips his shoulder firmly instead. He leaves and throws up in the bathroom sink.

            Sirius stares up at him coolly, blood dripping steadily from his nose, robes ripped all over. James clenches and unclenches his fists and wonders why his churning stomach hasn’t settled yet. He hears his harsh breathing mirrored in the black-haired boy bleeding on the floor, and they say nothing to break the scalding silence.

            He stares at Sirius and realizes that he has never seen that look in his eyes before. His gray eyes are flat. Dead. He makes no move to mop up his blood, and James realizes just how much pain is hidden in there, how much it is killing Sirius.

            James realizes that when he finally hurts Remus (for it is inevitable), Sirius will be there to pick up the pieces.

            James turns on his heel and leaves.

            James thinks that if he forgets everything else in his life—his name, his parents, even magic itself—he should remember this, this collage of sensations, for the rest of time. He gasps at Remus’ hands on his skin and lips on his lips, Remus murmuring broken words into his neck and collapsing on top of him. He shuts his eyes and nearly breaks down from the beauty and power around him, and his arms tighten around the other boy as if they were meant to be there. Remus’ tongue traces his jaw, and oh god, his teeth are cutting into James’ lips, and James thinks that this is perfection in motion.

            Sirius knows. Sirius knows without asking, without them saying a word. They appear for dinner, calm and collected, and he looks between them as if following an invisible cord, and he smiles a smile that doesn’t reach his eyes.

            “Congratulations,” he says coolly, turning back to his potatoes.

            Cool seems to be the word to describe their friendship after that; cold would be even better. Sirius tells Remus tells James, and James tells Remus tells Sirius. (Later on, when he and Lily go into hiding he thinks that the atmosphere of distrust and tension is almost exactly the same).

            James remembers things that he would rather not remember along with the things that he wants to hold with him forever. Remus is one of the latter. The day of his parents’ deaths is the former.

            He gets a black letter in the owl post and sits frozen to his seat for god-knows how long. Remus gently takes him by the elbow and leads him away. They sit in silence in their dorm, holding each other tight. James knows that his parents were killed because they were Aurors. He knows that now he could never become anything but an Auror.

            He looks at Remus and knows what he has to do.

            When did you become a coward, he asks himself. Yes, there are obstacles to being with Remus, but there are obstacles in every relationship, and you were never one for easy relationships.

            It’s not cowardice, he argues back at himself. I can’t let Remus get hurt because of something I want to become. I can’t ever let him get hurt…

            James wishes that he could break up with Remus with his eyes closed. It would make things so much easier. He breaks off the bewildering (absolutely perfect) relationship that they have with one snap, and watches as Remus stops looking at him with hurt in his eyes, starts drifting just a bit further from him, starts looking at Sirius with the look he used to give James.

            James remembers things that he wishes he wouldn’t remember, sometimes. Slowly he woos Lily Evans over, and pretends like his heart isn’t breaking every day.

            James remembers too much.

            He finds Lily to forget.


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