"Sirius, would you stop that? You're making me nervous." Peter pleaded with the other boy for what must have been the tenth time that evening. Sirius was pacing back and forth in the common room, which had started to become a bit of a habit ever since they returned from Christmas break over a month ago. For whatever reason, Sirius had become rather restless. He wouldn't talk about what had happened at home, but his friends gathered that his reunion with his family had not gone over well, and he seemed to be more desperate than ever to get his brother's attention.
"I'm bored." Sirius claimed, still moving. "Can't we sneak into the Slytherin dorms and-"
"Sirius, no." Remus, who was sitting on one of the over stuffed chairs by the fireplace, didn't even look up from the paper he was editing for Peter. "We've got homework. You've got homework."
"Bugger the homework. I'll do it right before class and still ace it. I already know everything." Back and forth. It was amazing he hadn't worn a hole in the rug. Remus glanced up at him and shook his head before meeting James' eyes. James shrugged.
Remus heaved a sigh and patted his leg. "Sit down, Padfoot."
Sirius stopped his pacing, much to Peter's relief, and took a second to consider his next move. He relented and sat on the floor in font of Remus, who's hand instinctively started stroking the long dark hair as soon as the other boy's head rested on his knee. "Just give me an hour and then we'll find some way to deal with your boredom, alright?"
James snorted. "Will you, Moony?"
Sirius' eyes snapped open and he glared, but Remus didn't seem phased at all as he continued to read over Peter's DADA essay. James gave Sirius a knowing look and went back to his own work, but the smirk on his face remained.
Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit.
Sirius stood up abruptly. "I'm going for a walk."
"I'm coming with you." James said briskly, putting down his quill and standing as well.
Remus frowned. "Can't it wait?" He carefully set down the paper and looked up at them. "We're almost done anyway..."
"Besides, if you want to prank the Slytherins so badly, you should probably plan it out first." Peter supplied with a hint to his voice. "We can't exactly get detention this week if you know-"
"We know what you mean." Snapped Sirius, and Peter sunk back a little in his seat.
"Alright then, time to take the dog out. Let's go Padfoot." James grabbed Sirius by the elbow and dragged him out of the common room.
"What's wrong?" He asked once the portrait swung closed behind them. Both of Sirius' hands went up and he dragged his fingers through his hair, leaning against the cold stone wall with his eyes shut tight and exhaling slowly.
"You're right, okay?"
"About what? I tend to be right about a lot of things."
"You know about what!"
James sighed. "Yeah, mate...I do. So what are you going to do about it?"
Sirius laughed and shook his head. "What am I going to do about it? I'm not going to do anything about it! What? I'm suppose to just walk on up to him all casual like 'Hey Moony, lovely weather we're having. D'you have the notes from Arithmancy today? By the way, I'm in love with you!' Brilliant, Potter. Really."
"Sure, why not?"
"Why not? WHY NOT! It will ruin everything!" Sirius was aware he was shouting but he couldn't stop. He had tears threatening to spill out of his eyes but he refused to let that happen. "James, if I tell him and he doesn't feel the same way, which he definitely doesn't, it'll make things...weird...and then there goes The Marauders, mate!" He turned and kicked the wall.
James took off his glasses and pinched the bridge of his nose. "But what if he does feel the same way as you? And he's just as bloody stubborn and oblivious as you are because you're both ridiculously thick and, I don't know, masochistic or something and-"
"He doesn't, Prongs." Sirius' voice was bitter and quiet.
"But how do you know-"
"Because he shouldn't! No one should! I'm not good enough for him! For anyone, really, but especially not for someone as good and kind and...And he just..." He wiped furiously at his eyes. "He deserves someone better than me. I'll fuck it up. I fuck everything up."
James was quiet, watching Sirius have his melt down. After a few minutes he sighed heavily. "Are you finished feeling sorry for yourself?"
Sirius blinked at him. "Uh...I...I think so..." He sniffed, averting his eyes even though he knew James could see that he was crying.
"Good. Because honestly Sirius, that's all complete bullshit." James shook his head and stood next to him, leaning against the wall as well. "I know you feel sort of lost right now with whatever happened between you and Regulus over break, but that doesn't mean you're some awful person that doesn't deserve to be cared about. I care about you, you bloody prick." He elbowed the other boy lightly, earning a small laugh from him. "And so does Peter...And Remus does too. A lot. And if you'd just-"
"Look. I'm really not ready, alright? I sort of want this to all just go away. I don't want to ruin anything-"
"And how do you plan on making this go away, Sirius?" James asked, exasperated. "Hooking up with random blokes in the broom closet when you think no one's watching?"
Sirius bit his lip, taking in a shaky breath. "How do you know about that?"
Slowly, a grin spread across James' face. "While you've been off snogging Davies in the cupboard, I may have been tinkering around with the map."
"It works," Sirius gasped. "It actually bloody works!"
The four of them were huddled up on James' bed with the map laid out in front of them. Little dots labeled with students' and teachers' and staff's names moved all along the carefully plotted out sketches of the castle.
"I can't believe it..." Remus muttered, eyes wide as he stared down at their masterpiece. All of the hard work they had put into it, spells and equations and time...and here it was. "This is incredible."
"It's not done yet," James warned. "Let's not get excited. We still need to work on the security. We don't want this falling into the wrong hands, obviously."
"Yeah, but still..." Breathed Peter. "Look! Dumbledore's in the loo..."
Sirius grimaced. "Not really something we needed announced, Wormtail. Thanks."
"So," James looked around at them, unable to keep the grin from his face. "Shall we take it for a test run then?" He nodded to Sirius. "Still want to pull something over on the Slytherins, Padfoot?"
Sirius laughed. "Like you even have to ask."