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These two stories came out of a writing exercise to choose a fandom and relationships I wouldn't think about writing for usually and to attempt them.  It was a way of getting myself motivated and worked!

Posted here for completeness in terms of archiving/journalling my writing.

Fandom: Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr Movieverse)
Summary: Pepper doesn't mean to fall in love with Tony.  Or become Pepper.
Rating: PG-13
Author's Notes: Pepper/Tony. Spoilers for Iron Man. Mention of torture as per movie.
Disclaimer: No copyright infringement intended. Written for entertainment purposes only.

Layers

1.

When she joins Stark Industries she's Ginny not Pepper, she's twenty-one, newly graduated, top of her class and yet the only way she can get hired at Stark Industries is as an executive assistant to a manager several rungs down the ladder from Tony Stark and Obadiah Stane. She plans to somehow be magically transported out of the administrative pool and into management through hard work and tenacity; she studies for her MBA in her spare time. For a year, she's simply another cog in the corporate machine and she joins everyone else in having a crush on Tony.

Mostly it's because he's young, rakishly handsome and has the type of charisma more associated with film and rock stars than CEOs. It doesn't hurt that he's the bad boy that the paparazzi loves to hate and his wild exploits paint the newsstands and provide fodder for the water cooler. Coupled to that is the brilliance of his intelligence. Everyone is rightly proud that the company they work for is heads and shoulders above their nearest rivals and everybody knows they owe that to Tony. But Tony is like most CEOs, and the majority of the company only see him occasionally in corporate videos or fleetingly at a company picnic. Everyone has a crush on Tony because he remains a distant glossy illusion.

Her manager suddenly gets put in charge of a big project. Bill is a nice guy who gives her a lot of responsibility and a lot of credit for the work she puts in. They plough through the concept together helping to shape it into something real. Ginny thinks the math is beautiful even as she corrects an error she's found in the raw data. Bill's just about to begin the first project review with the Director of Operations with Ginny sitting in to take notes when Tony enters the room.

'Carry on. Don't mind me.' Tony's carrying a tumbler with an amber liquid that could be Scotch or bourbon. He's startling good-looking in person; clothes tailored to fit him perfectly; hair swept back in a style that probably cost more than Ginny's rent; brown eyes that are warm and flirtatious. Those same eyes travel around the room wide and guileless but Ginny gets the impression he misses nothing. He sits down next to Phyllis, the Operations director, who blushes bright red and gestures at Bill to continue.

Ten minutes later, the raw numbers flash up onto the projector and Tony stands up abruptly.

'These numbers are wrong.' He says, setting the glass on the table and striding to the front of the room to look at the projection close-up.

Phyllis looks disturbed. Ginny exchanges an anxious look with Bill.

'Not wrong,' Tony continues, 'different. Who corrected it?'

Bill nudges her and she clears her throat as she raises her hand.

'And you are?' Tony's gaze sweeps over her speculatively.

'Ginny Potts.' She answers, hands tightening around the notepad. She's definitely not telling him her actual name of Virginia.

'Well done to you, Miss Potts.' Tony congratulates her.

Before she can respond or say anything, the door opens and Stane walks in, collecting Tony with a jovial bonhomie that doesn't quite hide the irritation, and all but carrying him out with remonstrations that Tony sometimes has to let others play with his ideas because he doesn't have time to work on them all.

For a second there's silence as they absorb that the project they're working on is a Tony Stark original concept and then Bill gamely carries on.

An hour later, someone from Human Resources arrives and Ginny's reassigned to Tony with a speed that scares and exhilarates her in equal measure. Bill congratulates her and wishes her well because that's just the kind of sweetheart he is.

An hour after that, Ginny has been renamed Pepper by Tony and her crush on him has died in exposure to the chaotic and self-obsessed reality of him.

2.

It takes time for Ginny to become Pepper in her own head. It's a slow process because Tony's Pepper, (the one he's designed in his head like she's his latest new robot), is ultra-organised and can handle anything from complicated mechanical specifications to picking up his dry-cleaning; from handling a conference call in French to buying a new house because the priceless sculpture he's just bought won't fit the décor of his other residences. But with every task successfully completed, Ginny takes another step to becoming Pepper.

She starts to navigate around Tony's mercurial moods, understanding when she can demand his attention on his CEO duties and when she just has to rearrange everything to accommodate the whims of an intelligence that demands his attention without care of anything else in Tony's life including Tony; the brilliance of a genius that makes Tony completely unreliable and astonishingly hard-working at the same time.

She also learns how to deal with Tony's flirting because Tony just can't help himself. She's not foolish enough to fall for it – the succession of one night stands she ushers out and her own stubborn refusal to become a secretary pining for her boss like a heroine in a 1970s Harlequin novel helps with that enormously – but it flusters her until almost six months in she eventually gets tired of being flustered and answers back.

She finds him working in the basement as she's about to leave. 'Don't forget to get some sleep; you have a breakfast meeting with Mr Stane tomorrow.'

'Obie won't mind if I miss it.' Tony says.

Obie is used to Tony being Tony is the underlying message but he's closing down his work. Tony gets up and slides right into her personal space; too close for a boss. She looks up at him and raises an eyebrow because, seriously?

'You could come tuck me in, Pepper.' He says suggestively.

His eyes spark with amusement when she rolls her eyes instead of stumbling over her words; as she holds her ground instead of stepping back. 'Not in this lifetime, Mr Stark.' She smiles at him. 'Is that all?'

Tony smirks at her. 'That will be all, Miss Potts.'

He trusts her more after that as though her refusal to sleep with him is the ultimate sign of her trustworthiness.

3.

She finds allies in James Rhodes, a Lieutenant Colonel who knew Tony at MIT and seems to be his only friend; in Happy Hogan, Tony's chauffeur and occasional body-guard; in Stane who slowly becomes Obie to her as much as he's Obie to Tony. And with her MBA secured, she embraces being Pepper; starts to own being Pepper.

Her relationship with Tony settles somewhere between friendship and a working partnership. He doesn't remember her birthday or the anniversary of when she started to work for him but he always makes sure she buys a present for herself from him for both. The one time she falls sick with flu, he hires a nurse to look after her until she's better, and after an art gallery opening where she details how badly wrong the artist is, somehow finds herself curating a modern art collection for him which she knows has more to do with her love for it than his.

Tony slides more and more of his CEO work her way. He assumes she'll take care of things when he gets distracted by a party or a bar or someone pretty flirting with him. He confidently pushes meetings and calls her way when he doesn't want to be bothered with doing them. In fact, he trusts her with every aspect of his life so comprehensively that she could ruin him with ease. He asks her opinion about anything and everything. He seemingly hides nothing from her; not his indiscretions, his drinking binges, his errors of judgement both personal and professional. She knows the inside story of every tabloid headline.

But she also sees things that don't make the news; the endless hours given over to his genius and the odd thoughtful gesture he gives to herself, Rhodey, Happy and Obie. And then there's Tony's surprisingly soft heart; the way he funds medical research into a number of illnesses anonymously; the way he always stops to talk to children at any event; the care he takes wining and dining the grandmotherly matron who bought him at a charity auction as though she were America's Next Top Model. If his acts of generosity sometimes seem to have no rhyme or reason to them, that's just Tony.

She grows genuinely fond of Tony. But for all she cares for him, and can't picture her life without him, she's still not in love with him and has no intention of falling. Pepper thinks she knows him too well to make that mistake.

She sends him off to Afghanistan with a smile; forgiving him forgetting her birthday as he does every year with a smug indulgence. She goes out for a meal with an old friend from her university days. She has a good time.

The next day, she gets the call that Tony's convoy was attacked and he's missing.

4.

They expect a ransom but nothing happens. Obie gives a press conference and steps in as CEO as he did when Tony's father died. Pepper provides Obie with support, helping him to make sense of the work Tony has left behind. She thinks Obie's being kind to her because she knows how much Obie already knows about the business. She continues to look after the house and Tony's personal affairs – his private portfolio of investments separate from the work of Stark Industries provides a welcome distraction. But it's like finding herself in the eye of a storm; it's too peaceful, it's too still, it's too calm.

She hates it.

Two months after Tony goes missing, Rhodey calls her from Afghanistan where he's been leading the search and tells her in cautious words and phrases that there's still no sign; that they have to be prepared that they may never find Tony.

She ends the call and goes to catalogue Tony's closet for no other reason than to keep busy. She's in the middle of his closet when she breaks down. She's crumpling an Armani tie in her hands, crying until her nose runs and her eyes are sore. She misses Tony. She's scared that he's dead or hurt.

'Are you alright, Miss Potts?' JARVIS asks gently.

Pepper swipes at her eyes and nose with the back of her hand. 'I'm fine, JARVIS.' She lies, taking a deep breath. 'Thank you.' She frowns at the crumpled material she's still holding.

'May I suggest the dry cleaners, Miss Potts?' JARVIS says mildly. 'I have noticed Mr Stark always prefers Armani when he returns from abroad.'

The simple assumption of the AI that Tony will return and want his tie soothes something in Pepper. She sends the tie to the dry cleaners.

Three months after Tony disappears, Rhodey finds him.

5.

Pepper can't help noticing that Tony walks down the ramp holding tightly to his best friend but he waves off the paramedics and he stands in front of her unsupported, his back straight. The words are teasing as he jokes that she's cried for him, and she jokes back as expected but she can't miss that his eyes look haunted. She wonders what happened to him. She's only heard the bare minimum from Rhodey: that Tony was held captive by terrorists and physically hurt; that there's a device in his chest keeping him alive.

A couple of hours later she realises that for all the press conference would suggest Tony is just as impulsive and irresponsible about what he says as ever, Tony has changed. He leans on her as she and Happy help him into his house and when Tony slumps down on the sofa, he looks tired and small, vulnerable. He doesn't look like Tony.

'I'm serious you know.' Tony says as she places food on the coffee table. 'No more weapons.'

'We make weapons, Tony.' Pepper says with a touch of exasperation. 'You can't be surprised people are confused when you say that we're not going to make weapons anymore.' She's worried about his mental state.

'What about you, Pepper?' Tony asks bluntly. 'Are you confused?'

She looks up and realises Tony is staring back at her seriously; more seriously than he's ever looked at her before as though he's actually looking at her for the first time, or maybe allowing her to see him for the first time.

'I think you went through something terrible and…' She stops because if she continues she may start crying and she doesn't want Tony to see her do that; has a feeling he definitely doesn't want to see her do that. 'When you've had a chance to recover and think about what you want to do then if this is something you want…I'll help you.' She pushes a plate towards him. 'Like always.'

His mouth twists a little and his expression closes up. He gets to his feet ignoring the food. 'I think I'm just going to…you know, tired, busy day getting rescued, coming home, destroying my company and all so…'

He goes to bed and Pepper knows she's said something wrong but she doesn't know what.

A day later he calls her down to the lab and she replaces the device in his chest with a new version. He tells her to get rid of the old one but she holds onto it. It saved his life and if he's never been accused of being nostalgic, that's OK; she can be nostalgic for both of them.

6.

He's immersed in work every time she goes downstairs to the workshop after that including the time she takes him the present of his old reactor boxed up with teasing words to make him smile. He says he's not building a weapon but the things he's building look like weapons or parts of a robot or some really ugly mechanical prosthetics. It's difficult to see what Tony's new direction is.

But she sees how disturbed he is by Obie's news that the board is shutting Tony out, claiming he has PTSD. She sees his dismay at finally believing he's being responsible only to be thought of as irresponsible. She can't help thinking that maybe Tony has a point that it's unfair.

The evening of the Annual Fire-fighters Charity Ball she's surprised not only that Tony is there but that he approaches her and invites her to dance. He never has before. And there's a different quality to their back and forth; his teasing remarks don't hide how much he truly does appreciate her, might even think she's sexy and want her for more than the fact that she knows his social security number.

It's weird and she knows what people will think because it's Tony. He doesn't get it when they go outside and she tries to explain it. They stand too close to each other, and for a moment, he's looking at her again like he did the first night after his return; all serious and sincere. And maybe for a moment that old crush flickers back into life and she wavers. He looks as weirded out as she feels, and they step back.

She waits for the drink she'd asked him to get for far too long before she realises he's just left her there alone and isn't coming back.

He hasn't changed after all: Tony is still Tony.

Finding him dangling in a red and gold metal suit riddled with dents and holes does nothing to alter that opinion.

7.

'What were you thinking?' Pepper rages at him as she retrieves the ice-pack. He's bruised and battered. 'Were you actually thinking? Because I don't think you were thinking!'

'I was thinking that I could do something to help and I did!' Tony retorted. He's brimming with pride. 'You should have seen me, Pepper! The suit is great. I might have to reconsider some things though because Raptors hurt when they hit you let me tell you…'

Pepper shakes her head in confusion. 'You could have been killed! Are you crazy?' Her hands are shaking as she presses the ice-pack to his shoulder.

He sobers up and puts his hand over hers. 'I'm OK, Pepper. The suit protected me.' He lets go. 'And it was worth it. Those terrorists won't be able to use my weapons anymore.'

Her eyes follow his toward the red and gold metal hanging from the various robotic arms. She presses her lips together. 'Look, Tony, I understand wanting to get revenge but this is…' she shakes her head again in disbelief, 'this is too much! You…'

'This isn't about me!' Tony says fiercely. 'Those people are in danger because Stark Industries…Obie sold them the weapons.'

The heartbreak in his voice stills her. She examines his expression and there's no amused smirk; he's deadly serious.

Her mouth goes dry with the implications. 'Why? Why would Obie…I mean…'

Tony shakes his head. 'He told me himself, Pepper.' He looks almost as broken as he did when he came back from Afghanistan the first time. 'He's behind the board lock-out.'

'Are you sure this isn't just a misunderstanding?' Pepper asks faintly. Because for Obie to turn on Tony that way…it was unthinkable.

'No misunderstanding.' Tony's smile is sad and his eyes are filled with hurt. 'I don't know why but he was very clear about what he'd done.'

Pepper can barely comprehend it. If Obie knowingly sold weapons to terrorists, to enemies of the US, it invalidates half of their contracts not to mention makes them criminals and…and then there's Tony. Obie's the closest thing to family that Tony has. Tony doesn't have many people in his life who genuinely care for him; how could Obie betray Tony?

She slides a hand over Tony's. 'What do you need me to do?'

Tony squeezes her hand. 'I don't know yet. I need time to think but…' he waves a hand at the suit, 'Obie can't know about this.'

'I won't tell him,' she promises, 'I won't say anything to anybody.' She takes a breath. 'But, Tony, you have to promise me that you won't use it again.'

Tony slides out from under her touch. 'I should get changed…' he motions towards the stairs and disappears.

Pepper watches him go. She turns back and looks again at the suit; at the scorched red and gold armour; at the face-plate with its flat angry eyes and mouth.

She shivers.

8.

Pepper shivers again when a couple of days later, Tony talks about missions and using the suit; that there's nothing else for him. She threatens to quit because this is just like Tony at his worst, reckless and self-destructive. He's going to get himself killed and she might not be in love with him but she cares about him, too much to see him do that to himself.

But when he argues back, Pepper's reminded that Tony has always been more than the sum of his parts; that she's never truly needed to box up an arc reactor to have proof that Tony has a heart. It's so hard to resist this Tony; a Tony who wants his inventions to protect people; who wants to clean up the mess that his company – that Obadiah has made; who feels a responsibility for the pain and destruction his weapons have wrought regardless that he isn't the one who sold them. Who wants to do what is right. How can she resist this Tony? She can't.

Maybe she doesn't mean to fall in love with Tony but maybe in that moment she does, just a little.

But then there's fear (of being discovered when she finds out just how deep Obie's betrayal cuts) and terror (of gigantic robots and dying) and explosions (and Tony up on the roof almost dying again). When it's over, Obadiah is dead and Tony isn't; she isn't.

Before the press conference, Tony stands in front of her as she straightens his handkerchief and asks if she thinks about the night they danced. There's a part of her – the part that's maybe a little in love with Tony – that's tempted to respond to the warm look in his eyes that gives away that he truly cares for her. But he needs to do better than leaving her alone waiting on him to show up. She tucks his handkerchief back in his pocket and hopes he takes the hint but something flickers in his eyes as they conclude and she wonders if she's said the wrong thing again.

Five minutes later, she's open-mouthed in dismay as Tony ignores the advice he's been given by SHIELD, the plans that have been made, and announces he's Iron Man.

But she shouldn't be surprised, Pepper muses. It's taken Tony building a literal suit of armour for her to realise that Tony has layers of it that he's worn for years: the playboy billionaire, the eccentric CEO, the mad genius, the mercurial boss, the unreliable friend, the son of Howard. And now he has the ultimate layer to hide behind, one reinforced with actual metal.

So, yes; Pepper might just be a little in love with Tony, but she rather thinks she hates Iron Man.

fin.




Fandom: Harry Potter
Summary: Sirius can't pinpoint when he fell in love with James.
Rating: Mature
Author's Notes: Sirius/James, James/Lily. Mention of sex/adult situations.
Disclaimer: No copyright infringement intended. Written for entertainment purposes only.

The Greatest Prank

Sirius can't pinpoint the moment he fell in love with James Potter.

It wasn't at first sight on the train to Hogwarts. Potter had barrelled into the compartment where Sirius had been hiding and sat down just as the train lurched forward. Sirius had been too caught up in eleven year old bravado and maintaining his cool in front of the Potter heir to notice the boy as anything other than the symbolic opposite of everything his own family represented. Their families were rivals; one entrenched in Dark, the other steadfast in the Light. Despite his own childish rebellion about his family's position, Sirius was a Black and wasn't going to give a Potter an inch. After terse greetings of 'Black' and 'Potter,' they'd subsided into an awkward silence until Potter had chuckled.

"What?" Sirius had demanded half-angrily, assuming he was the object of amusement.

Potter had grinned at him, boyish and open. "I was just thinking…wouldn't it be the greatest prank ever if we became best friends?"

Sirius had thought about it for all of a minute, and saw with the Slytherin calculation drilled into him from birth, the escape route from his family and reputation such a relationship offered him in the long term. He smiled back with sincerity if not humour. "Count me in."

And so Sirius had ended up in Gryffindor because he'd begged the hat, knowing that's where James would go because Potters were always in Gryffindor just as Blacks were always in Slytherin.

He hadn't fallen in love with James through their first five years at Hogwarts, through pranks and Quidditch practices; potions and charms; revelations about Moony being a werewolf and learning to be animagi, to be Padfoot and Prongs. By the end of the fifth year, there was no doubt that Sirius loved James (not that he, just like any other teenage boy, would ever admit to loving a friend) but he hadn't thought about James in any kind of romantic sense.

He hadn't thought about anyone in any kind of romantic sense. Sex, yes; romance, no.

James had been stuck on Lily ever since he'd spotted her on that first Hogwarts train journey. Since Lily spurned all of James' efforts, Sirius never took it seriously. His own view of girls had shifted from not interested to interesting to definitely interested, especially after Betty Greengrass had given him personal lessons in sex education in a series of broom closets. He figured Betty's friend, Emelie Gilligan, was giving James the same education because he'd caught them kissing once.

Maybe Sirius had fallen in love with James the Summer after Fifth year, the Summer he had run to the Potters, bloodied by his mother's rage, and found sanctuary. James' father had sent them to France to the Potters' chateau. It was glorious: sunny days, warm seas, sandy beaches, no adult supervision and therefore enough wine to blunt their inhibitions. Sirius could never remember who had kissed who first; who had touched who first. Just that after that first night, neither of them questioned it because James had declared it was perfect; it was sex with someone they liked and they didn't have to worry about getting a girl pregnant. It was an arrangement that would continue when they returned to school for their Sixth year even after Sirius played an ill-advised prank on Snivellus.

Well, not so much a prank as a dare unthinkingly made in the heat of anger and one that James had instantly stepped in and stopped when Sirius had been frozen, too stricken beyond measure that he'd endangered Moony. Of course, Sirius had been punished no matter what Snape would say later. Dumbledore had accepted that it had been a momentary unthinking lapse of judgement and not the calculated murder attempt Snape had claimed, but he had still assigned Sirius detentions for the rest of the term, banned him from Quidditch and taken away his Hogsmeade privileges for the year.

None of that mattered to Sirius because worse by far was Moony's anger. It had taken months to mend their fractured friendship, (and in hindsight, Sirius can see that maybe the distrust between himself and Remus that had led each of them to believe the other was a spy during the war, had begun then). James had also been disappointed in Sirius, cold and distant in the aftermath, but Sirius had broken down and begged James to forgive him within a day, and they'd ended up having make-up sex in a deserted classroom. Sirius had turned more and more to James for comfort during the weeks where his friendship with Moony remained broken and torn.

Maybe it had been then that Sirius had fallen, love sliding into the casual sex somewhere, some time, without Sirius noticing; turning kisses and touches from intent to tender. Maybe he'd simply grown up in the wake of his mistake and needed the emotional intimacy of the dark, more than the physical pleasure of skin on skin. He knows he'd fallen in love by the Friday before the last Hogsmeade weekend of their Sixth year because that had been when James had ended it.

They'd been alone in the dorm; Peter was out romancing his own girl and Remus was doing prefect patrol.

James had turned to him with pleading eyes and Sirius had known before James had said a word. "She finally said yes to a date, Sirius."

She being Lily, the woman who'd held James' heart for years. Sirius knew he couldn't compete.

He had smiled because what else could he do? He had leaned over and brushed his lips across James' one last time. "About time. She's going to fall madly in love you, Prongs." He'd left before James could reply, skipping out of the tower and wandering outside to hide out as Padfoot for a while.

He knows he'd fallen by then because it had hurt so much to let James go. He'd denied it, of course, at the time. Scoffed at the idea of being in love with his best friend, and turned his attention to the willing girls that he'd ignored for the previous months when he had been so solely fixed on James. But as the Sixth year ended with James and Lily an item, and Sirius spent another Summer with James, only this time watching as the boy he loved exchanged letters and tokens of affection with someone else, it became harder to ignore the pain that arrowed through him.

But confessing he loved James as more than a friend was something Sirius had never thought about doing. Sirius would never risk losing James. James loved Lily and he would never love Sirius the way Sirius loved James. It was the way it was. Wishing it was different wouldn't change it.

And Sirius, once the initial sharp hurt dulled into a deeper ache of loss, was content for the most part; happy to see James happy; ecstatic to see James ecstatic when Lily accepted his proposal. He was honoured when James asked him to be best man at the wedding, and later, overjoyed to be godfather to Harry. And, underneath it all, he'd continued loving James regardless of the passage of time and the reality of his own loneliness despite the women that walked in and out of his life.

Sometimes, Sirius looks back and thinks Lily knew how he felt. The looks she had sent his way occasionally were all too knowing. He remembers the last time he'd seen the Potters as a family; a day spent with Sirius focused mainly on baby Harry, playing with him as Padfoot. Eventually though it had been bedtime and James had placed Harry into the crib covering him with a blanket decorated in golden snitches.

Sirius had grinned at him. "I believe you're completely domesticated now, Prongs."

James had just smoothed the hair back from Harry's face and smiled at Sirius over his shoulder though his eyes had been serious. "You should try it, Padfoot. You deserve to find someone who loves you."

He'd fought to keep the grin in place because it still hurt more than it should have that it couldn't be James who loved him. "Not all of us are lucky enough to meet the love of our life on the train to Hogwarts." He'd joked, only to turn around and see Lily watching them from the doorway, that knowing look upon her face.

And then James had died.

And Sirius grief-stricken and heart-broken, not thinking in his anguish, had failed James when he'd failed to protect Harry and gone after Peter. Some would say he'd paid for that failure with his time in Azkaban; Sirius doesn't think so. But it's in the past and Sirius is trying to build a present and a future with his godson, despite being on the run two years and counting; despite being unable to raise Harry the way he'd promised James.

He watches Harry sleeping on the sofa in the parlour of Grimmauld Place, the lamp-light casting an amber glow across Harry's too pale face and feels an all too familiar pain.

"He looks even more like James when he's asleep, doesn't he?"

Sirius almost starts at Moony's voice, low and soft in the shadows of the doorway. Moony closes the door quietly, shutting away the rest of the house and the guests that aren't so much unwanted by Sirius as frustratingly infringing on the precious time he has with Harry.

Harry does remind Sirius of James sometimes; a turn of his head, a smile, a gesture, the way he says something. Sometimes it hurts to look at him, to listen to him, because for a moment it's as though he is James but he isn't. Because although there is a lurking confusion in Sirius' mind, a legacy from Azkaban, Sirius knows he'll never forget Harry isn't James, because Harry isn't James; because Harry is Harry, a child Sirius loves likes a son, despite being in love with Harry's father, because he was in love with Harry's father.

In the half-light, Sirius can see the gleam of protectiveness in Moony's eyes and wonders if it's for Harry or for him. He steals another glance at Harry, eyes gliding over messy hair and the Potter features stamped so indelibly on his godson. "I know he's not James, Moony."

"I know you do, Padfoot."

There's a hint of amusement in Moony's words and Sirius turns to look at Moony, questioningly.

Moony shrugs. "James was in love with you too, Sirius."

And there it is: the knowledge of what was between him and James spoken out loud for the first time. Sirius is frozen, partly at the revelation that Moony knew and knows, partly at the suggestion James loved him.

Moony gives an apologetic half-smile, half-grimace. "I told him to tell you when he confessed it all to me during his plea that I forgive you for…" he waves a hand, "you know."

Sirius nods, darting a look at Harry to make sure he's still asleep and won't hear their conversation; shocked that James might have confided anything never mind everything to Moony; that James was in love with him full stop.

"I think," Moony continues, "if he could have had both you and Lily, he would have."

Sirius finds it hard to swallow around the sudden lump in his throat; the sting of tears has him blinking. He can't find a ready quip to laugh away Moony's words.

"He did have both of us." He says eventually. Not in the way Sirius had wanted, and maybe since James had said something to Moony, maybe not in the way James had wanted…

Moony flushes. "Well, I just…I know he never told you and…I thought it might help you move on. You deserve some happiness, Padfoot."

Sirius watches as his old friend gives another smile, all sadly compassionate or compassionately sad, and leaves, the door closing gently behind him.

The clock chimes loudly in the silence, signalling the hour; mid-afternoon. Sirius glances again at Harry before he stands up and pulls a woollen throw over him. The Black tartan weave isn't the childish pattern of a baby blanket and Sirius regrets that its sombre hues are probably more appropriate for his godson now, given all Harry has endured.

Is Moony right…does knowing that James was in love with him really make a difference, Sirius wonders. He has always known James loved him even when he'd thought James wasn't in love him.

No, Sirius decides as he tucks the throw around Harry. In the end, it doesn't matter. Maybe, just maybe, Sirius has carried a broken heart with him for so long, he no longer knows how to mend it but James had made his choice, after all, and Sirius can't regret that because there's Harry.

So it doesn't matter when he'd fallen in love with James, or that he had actually met the love of his life on that first train to Hogwarts, only that their friendship really had been the greatest prank ever and Sirius will always treasure that.

Sirius smoothes back Harry's hair and simply wishes that James was beside him again, watching his son sleep.

fin.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
lilacs_roses
Feb. 18th, 2012 06:18 pm (UTC)
Rach, I didn't read the HP one but I enjoyed your Iron Man :) Nicely done :)

rachel500
Feb. 21st, 2012 10:22 am (UTC)
Thank you!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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