Much Ado About Hogwarts

Ninth Aside - Soliloquies

I’m muttering to myself again, but seeing as this is rehearsal and everyone else is busy practising their parts with someone else I’m not out of place…

There is no measure in the occasion that breeds; therefore the sadness is without limit.

Limits. There are always limits – a limit to what’s polite, a limit to how far you push, a limit to what you can do – and I seem to overstep them all. I don’t even know I’m doing it, most of the time, and people assume I don’t feel bad when I figure out I have. But I do. I just don’t show it. Blacks don’t show it.

And when I have heard it, what blessing brings it?

My reluctance to show anything other than jollity – this mask I wear – another hang up from my family. Ah yes, my family. The ‘Great and Noble House of Black’. So great and so noble in fact, that everyone I love wilts and decays in their presence… and so was I. I had to get out. Had to.

I wonder that thou, being (as thou say’st thou art) born under Saturn, goes about to apply a moral medicine to a mortifying mischief.

No way back now. Not that I’d ever want to go back, not that I miss them. Not at all.

I cannot hide what I am.

Back there I was a beloved son, a prince among wizards, a paragon of nobility… but I wasn’t happy. Not really. I wasn’t even me. Out here I’m blood traitor, a disgrace, a disappointment. Friend to muggleborns and werewolves. If my family could they’d probably hex me into oblivion, except for the scandal that would cause. Out here I’m nothing… and bloody proud of it.

I must be sad when I have cause, and smile at no man’s jests; eat when I have stomach and wait for no man’s leisure; sleep when I am drowsy, and tend on no man’s business; laugh when I am merry, and claw no man in his humour.

That’s how they all see me, of course: the bloke who won’t let anything get to him… except… it does… and I think a few of them are beginning to notice. James, and Peter. Moony too… Well of course they’d notice, they’re my best mates... but even Alice’s shooting me worried looks every so often… and after my outburst in the pub at Valentine’s, Eleanor can’t be blind to it. She’s the only one that really knows what’s going on, and I didn’t even tell her half of it. How could I?

I had rather be a canker in a hedge than a rose in his grace, and it better fits my blood to be disdained of all than to fashion a carriage to rob love from any.

She’s so kind and understanding… she’s over there now, running though lines with Moony… if only she could… but no, it wouldn’t work. And who am I to interfere?

In this, though I cannot be said to be a flattering honest man, it must be denied but I am a plain-dealing villain.

And what good, honest, lovely girl would want that which I am? Eleanor’s wrong. I could never be good enough. Even the teachers see it…

I am trusted with a muzzle and enfranchised with a clog; therefore I have decreed not to sing in my cage.

And it’s not all I am, not by a long shot… but there’s enough of me that’s like that that they’re right. I shouldn’t even be near someone as good as her… my princess…

If I had my mouth, I would bite; if I had my liberty, I would do my liking. In the meantime let me be that I am, and seek not to alter me.

But I can’t quite forget her, so I try to be good and honest and right… a man she’d want to fight for her… but I’m not really sure that that’s me either. And that is my discontent… I can never be enough of one thing for anything. All I can do is manage mischief.

I make all use of it, for I use it only. Who comes here? What news, Borachio?

It’s something I am good at. And let’s be brutally honest, there aren’t a great many of those.

Will it serve for any model to build mischief on? What is he for a fool that betroths himself to unquietness?

Even James thinks I’m a bit of a tit. He’d never say it, because he’s my best mate, and you just don’t, but he thinks it.

Who? The most exquisite Claudio?

If he hadn’t been so preoccupied with Evans recently he might have picked up on my ‘disquiet’ a little more. Not that that’s anything new – it’s always been a struggle getting coherent sentences out of him when she’s in the room.

A proper squire! And who? And who? Which way looks he?

And not that them being together is a bad thing; James is being less of a prat (not that I’m any better), and she’s getting more devious by the day. They’re good together.

A very forward March-chick! How came you to this?

He’s still up for a good prank though, and Evans seemed to enjoy it to, however much she tries not to show it… and that is a brilliant way of distracting me from her.

Come, come, let us thither. This may prove food to my displeasure. That young start-up hath all the glory of my overthrow.

The way her hair falls about her face… or the way she smiles when she reads something witty… or the way her legs go right to the top… or that sparkle in her eyes when she laughs… or the way she doesn’t take my shit…

If I can cross him in any way, I bless myself every way. You are both sure, and will assist me?

Right. Distraction. It’s been way too quiet at dinner lately… time for something to explode again I reckon. Moony’s patrolling tonight…I wonder if Pete’s free, and James… maybe Frank’d be up for it, if it doesn’t end up hurting anyone. Seems like there’s more Marauders around every day, now.

Urgh. My stomach’s rumbling again. Lunch was ages ago…

Let us to the great supper.

Oh great, thanks Shakespeare. Remind me of food.

Their cheer is the greater that I am subdued.

Look at them – Peter and Claire – laughing together like a couple of newlyweds… Gods how I envy them. That kind of happiness, that easy, sweet, brilliant love could never be mine… But that doesn’t mean I’ll ever stop wanting it, wanting her… So I’ll just keep trying to be what people seem to assume I am: kind, funny, brave, happy… when really I’m none of those things.

Would the cook were o’ my mind! Shall we go prove what’s to be done?

I don’t want to end up the villain of the piece…

0o0o0o0

I’m supposed to be working through a scene with James and Algernon, but I can’t concentrate properly. Alice is distracting me… it’s her eyes…

There’s something bothering her. It’s been there for weeks now, behind the smiles and laughter… and I don’t know what it is. I know it’s not me… it’s not there if it’s just us… but when we’re with the others something changes in her eyes. They’re sharper, darker, like she’s watching, on edge. I wonder what she’s seeing…

No, nor I neither; but most wonderful that she should so dote on Signior Benedick, whom she hath in all outward behaviours seemed ever to abhor.

It gets worse when Remus is around… and Sirius I think. I know she doesn’t fancy them – well, apart from the basic ‘look-but-not-touch’ appreciation that we’re all lumbered with – and besides, I trust her. If she were having second thoughts she’d tell me. Which means she’s worried about them. And Eleanor… she’s a bit strange around her too, these days.

By my troth, my lord, I cannot tell what to think of it, but that she loves him with an enraged affection, it is past the infinite of thought.

I wonder if there was any truth to those rumours about Remus and Eleanor after all… They do seem to be pretty close sometimes… and they’re playing their parts beautifully… which is odd, because not only does Remus hate attention, he’s also a bit tense around girls – poor chap – and he has to kiss Eleanor a couple of times… I don’t think they’ve practiced those bits too much. I wouldn’t, if it were me.

Which brings us back to the possibility of Sirius falling for Eleanor. Well, less a possibility and more a certainty, if the outward signs are anything to go by. Huh. Remus and Sirius going for the same girl?That would certainly make me worry about them…

O God, counterfeit? There was never counterfeit of passion that came so near the life of passion as she discovers it.

I wonder what Eleanor thinks about it… if her fervent denial of Sirius’s affections is to be believed then Remus might be in with a shot… Then again, she might be madly in love with Sirius and not willing to admit it… Girls make no sense sometimes.

What effects, my lord? She will sit you, you heard my daughter tell you how.

She and Remus are running through the scene in the church now, after all the chaos of the failed wedding… they certainly seem earnest in their affections… but then, this is a play…

I would have sworn it had, my lord – especially against Benedick.

Maybe I’m reading too much into this – maybe there’s nothing wrong at all. I mean, we’re all teenagers, and this part of life is supposed to be one of the most traumatic… But then there’s that look again, in her eyes…

No, and swears she never will. That’s her torment.

She’s running through lines with Claire… who, bless her, keeps making eyes at Peter (those two!)… but Alice hasn’t noticed, she’s too busy watching Sirius, who’s pacing in the corner. He must be going through one of his scenes on his own… his lips are moving, as if he’s speaking, but it doesn’t look like anyone can hear him… he certainly doesn’t look happy… but again, that’s how his character is supposed to look. Alice’s eyes haven’t left him for a moment, even though she’s still running lines…

This says she now when she is beginning to write to him; for she’ll be up twenty times a night, and there will she sit in her smock till she have writ a sheet of paper. My daughter tells us all.

And now Sirius is glancing over at Eleanor and Remus… one of them has fluffed a line, and they’re laughing… he’s got his hand on her arm… I wouldn’t even have thought to look for it if Alice hadn’t been…

O, when she had writ it, and was reading it over, she found ‘Benedick’ and ‘Beatrice’ between the sheet.

Surely not… but now they’re doing that private smiling-at-each-other thing that Lily and James do when no one’s looking… the one that says there’s some private joke that no one else is getting… But then, the Maruaders do that look all the time, and they’re not… are they? It doesn’t seem likely… but then, stranger things have happened, particularly around here.

No. Remus is much too modest and shy to ask her out. Even if he does like her, he won’t do anything about it.

O, she tore that letter into a thousand half-pence, railed at herself that she should be so immodest to write to one that she knew would flout her. ‘I measure him,’ says she, ‘by my own spirit; for I should flout him if he writ to me. Yea, though I love him, I should.’

Sirius really doesn’t look happy… although it is nearly dinnertime, and his mood does tend to plunge alarmingly if food doesn’t arrive on time. He can be such a drama queen. Honestly, he’s like a big puppy sometimes…

She doth indeed; my daughter says so; and the ecstasy hath so much overborne her that my daughter is sometime afeard she will do a desperate outrage to herself. It is very true.

I don’t think he and Eleanor would be a good match (dear Gods, I’m beginning to sound like my Mother – urgh)… he’s too much the rogue, and while she certainly doesn’t let him get away with anything – and has proved time and again that she can be just as devious – she’s much more reserved.

O, my lord, wisdom and blood combating in so tender a body, we have ten proofs to one that blood hath the victory. I am sorry for her, as I have just cause, being her uncle and guardian.

And much kinder… she and Remus would work… if only he’d do something about it.

Were it good, think you?

In the end, it’s really no one’s business but theirs… but Alice won’t see it like that. She won’t interfere unless she feels she has to – and she would never do anything to hurt them – but sometimes her kindness can get the better of her…

If he do fear God, a’ must necessarily keep the peace. If he break the peace, he ought to enter into a quarrel with fear and trembling.

My angel, always trying to do the best for everyone. I hope she never changes, not even for a moment – but then, any change would be for the better, as impossible as that seems… Even so, I wouldn’t change a thing. Well, maybe one, though it’s part of why I love her…

Nay, that’s impossible; she may wear her heart out first.

She worries too much…

0o0o0o0

You know, we’re so very lucky.

Good Ursula, wake my cousin Beatrice and desire her to rise.

I don’t think about it, normally, but we are.

And bid her come hither.

I mean, me and Alice have always got along brilliantly – with the odd delightful smattering of bickering, of course…

No, pray thee, good Meg, I’ll wear this.

… and Hogwarts has always been a welcoming place…

My cousin’s a fool, and thou art another. I’ll wear none but this.

… but now, with Eleanor and Claire, and spending time getting to know the boys, and James being so unexpectedly wonderful…

O, that exceeds, they say.

now it feels like home.

God give me joy to wear it, for my heart is exceeding heavy.

Even Severus has relaxed a bit, now it looks like James and I are going to work… I never thought of him the way he thought of me, but he’s still one of the best friends I’ve ever had. Despite his questionable taste in companions… Mind you, it’s not like he could choose them, it’s the luck of the Sorting Hat so they say… and he and Algernon seem to be staying away from Mulciber and his troll-bred cronies…

Fie upon thee! Art thou not ashamed?

I’m blushing again, and hopefully people will think it’s just good acting, but every time I hear that line I think of James, and what he would feel like if he… but that’s inappropriate here, even just in my head. Best to think of the girls instead.

Good morrow, coz.

When I left my home and got on that train for the first time I never imagined what I’d find was a family, but I did. It took time, but here we are. Always there for one another when we need it, with a comforting shoulder and a willing ear…

Why, how now? Do you speak in the sick tune?

… and, naturally, willing to drive each other to distraction. That’s how families are supposed to be. I hadn’t realised how much I’ve missed that… missed Tuney…

These gloves the Count sent me, they are an excellent perfume.

But some things can’t be helped, no matter how hard you try, so it’s best not to dwell on them. Better by far to think of my friends here…

There thou prick’st her with a thistle.

Because it doesn’t matter how far we push one another, we all know that we’ll be there when we’re needed, no matter the cost.

Help to dress me, good coz, good Meg, good Ursula.

That’s the thing about sisters…

0o0o0o0

I’m watching them again… I hope no-one’s noticed…

Troth, I think your other rabato were better.

I’ve been watching since Valentine’s…

By my troth, ‘s not so good, and I warrant your cousin will say so.

… and I was right. There is definitely something going on between those two.

I like the new tire within excellently, if the hair were a thought browner; and your gown’s a most rare fashion, I’ faith. I saw the Duchess of Milan’s gown that they praise so.

They’re so familiar with one another… sharing private jokes, helping each other with books or bags or plates of food, smiling at one another when they think no one’s looking…

By my troth, ‘s but a nightgown in respect of yours – cloth o’ gold and cuts, and laced with silver, set with pearls, down sleeves, side-sleeves, side-sleeves, and skirts, round underborne with a bluish tinsel. But for a fine, quaint, graceful, and excellent fashion, yours is worth ten on’t.

The only thing I can’t figure out is why. I mean, I can think of a few reasons to hide your affection for someone, but when you’re both willing… and the thing is…

‘Twill be heavier soon by the weight of a man.

Merlin, that line… it makes Lily blush every time… and to think my Mum and Dad will be hearing this…

The thing is… they are willing. More than willing, really. At the post-quidditch victory party last week they were drunk – everyone was drunk – and they were… If I hadn’t been watching, I wouldn’t have seen it, (and if Frank hadn’t been on patrol I wouldn’t have cared) but the more firewhiskey Remus drank, the closer he seemed to get to Eleanor… and the less concerned with privacy either of them became…

Of what, lady? Of speaking honourably? Is not marriage honourable in a beggar? Is not your lord honourable without marriage? I think you would have me say, ‘saving your reverence, a husband.’

They didn’t even look around to check that everyone else was, well, occupied… although to be fair, by that point it was a fair bet. They found themselves a secluded corner and started kissing as if their very souls were alight… as if there was nothing for them outside of one another…

And bad thinking do not wrest true speaking, I’ll offend nobody. Is there any harm in ‘the heavier for a husband’?

Hands and lips and bodies all over each other… it was – well – hot. The longer they were together, the more heated it became. I was in half a mind to stop them (or suggest that they ‘got a room’) when providence intervened in the form of Sirius sneezing on the house of Exploding Snap cards he’d been building.

None, I think, and it be the right husband and the right wife; otherwise ‘tis light, and not heavy. Ask my Lady Beatrice else. Here she comes.

By the time the smoke had cleared and I’d looked back, they were nowhere near one another… both a little red in the face and a little out of breath, but nowhere near… and everyone around them none the wiser.

Clap’s into ‘Light o’ love’. That goes without a burden. Do you sing it and I’ll dance it.

They stayed on the opposite side of the Common Room for the rest of the night, as if they knew the danger of being too close… and the thing is, there wouldn’t be any need to be wary, if it weren’t for Sirius. That’s the answer of course. He’s Remus’s best friend… and apparently Eleanor’s too…

O illegitimate construction! I scorn that with my heels.

He takes every available opportunity to take her hand or kiss her cheek… I wouldn’t think anything of it (this being Sirius), except I saw the way he was looking at her that afternoon in the Three Broomsticks…

For a hawk, a horse or a husband?

… he looked like she was his only lifeline, and he intended to cling to her for as long as he could…

Well, and you be not turned Turk, there’s no more sailing by the star.

… and from the look on Eleanor’s face, she knew. And she didn’t want to be clung to. Or to hurt him.

Nothing I; but God send everyone their heart’s desire!

That’s the worst of it, somehow… if someone was the villain of the piece it would all be so clear cut… but it’s Eleanor. I might not have known her for quite as long, but I know her well enough to know that the one thing she hates is people being hurt.

A maid, and stuffed! There’s goodly catching of cold.

Even if there is that rumour that she was seen kissing Severus Snape on Valentine’s Day. Not the most credible of rumours, that.

Ever since you left it. Doth not my wit become me rarely?

And Remus is clearly madly in love with her – and it isn’t like he’s had the best of luck in the love department – and she blatantly feels the same way.

Get you some of this distilled Carduus Benedictus and lay it to your heart. It is the only thing for a qualm.

They could be so happy together if only they’d let themselves… and Sirius would probably get over it… though to tell the truth I’ve never seen him like this before – dark and depressed one moment, his own maddening self the next…

Moral? No, by my troth. I have no moral meaning. I meant plain holy thistle. You may think perchance that I think you are in love. Nay by’r lady, I am not such a fool to think what I list; nor I list not to think what I can; nor indeed I cannot think, if I would think my heart out of thinking, that you are in love, or that you will be in love or that you can be in love.

But then… I wouldn’t do it to Lily, and that’s that. I must measure them by my own standard, particularly since I know them so well. Probably even Sirius would back down if he knew how Remus and Eleanor felt, but I’m guessing he’s too wrapped up in himself to notice…

Yet Benedick was such another, and now he is become a man. He swore that he never would marry; and yet now in despite of his heart he eats his meat without grudging.

If only there was a way to fix things, to sit them all down and stop this painful charade of unfamiliarity… it’s not doing any of them any good.

And how you be converted I know not; but methinks you look with your eyes as other women do.

There they go again: Sirius muttering to himself in the corner (anyone else would think he was just reciting his lines, but I know that look), Remus and Eleanor working together in that slightly-more-than-friends way…

Not a false gallop.

They think that no one sees, but I do…

0o0o0o0

They’re still not as they have been…

I’ll bring you thither, my lord, if you’ll vouchsafe me.

The one darker and more brooding where he once was a jester, the other brighter and more brittle than the quiet, underestimated genius I know…

I hope he be in love.

Well Claudio might, but I don’t. Two of my three best friends in love with the same girl, and me and Wormtail powerless to intervene… particularly since neither of them seems to want to talk about it. Which would probably be the best for all concerned, really. Including innocent bystanders. If this goes the way it looks like it’s going to go, the potential ramifications for anyone nearby at time-of-Marauder-detonation are of cataclysmic proportions.

You must hang it first and draw it afterwards.

And then there’s Eleanor, stuck in between the two… I still can’t work out who she prefers (though Pete reckons it’s Remus for some reason), she’s close to both of them. I mean, she might spend a lot of time with Moony studying, but she hangs out with Sirius just as much (it’s never easy to study near Padfoot at the best of times). They’re both great blokes, and both couples would work wonderfully – albeit in different ways… If I hadn’t learned the hard way about her highly refined sense of justice I might label her a bit of a tart… but she’s not like that. And frankly, if she were it wouldn’t be a problem, because Moony wouldn’t give her the time of day.

Yet I say he is in love.

And he does, almost religiously. I’ve never seen him give a toss about what he looks like before going to the library, or a Quidditch game, or even just down to dinner if he knows she’ll be there. I don’t think he realises how obvious it is – though if I weren’t his room-mate and best friend I might not have noticed, he is quite subtle.

If he be not in love with some woman, there is no believing old signs; ‘a brushes his hat o’ mornings. What should that bode?

But it’s the way he straightens his clothes and ruffles his hair before heading off to Ancient Runes. Where Eleanor is the only other student.

No, but the barber’s man hath been seen with him, and the old ornament of his cheek hath already stuffed tennis balls.

And Padfoot’s just the same. Oh, naturally being a lady’s man (well, ok, complete tart) he knows how to spruce himself up – and regularly does, to the detriment of the reputations of our womenfolk – but I’ve never seen him put the effort in for classes.

That’s as much to say, the sweet youth’s in love.

Even Minnie’s noticed, she keeps giving him that look we get when she knows we’re up to something but can’t figure out what it is; these days I just shrug and look helpless when her gaze turns to me. Nothing I can do about it. He’s even dressed to kill this afternoon, for the rehearsal.

And when was he wont to wash his face?

Not that there’s any use, really. Since they’re playing counterparts in the play, Eleanor won’t see much of anyone but Remus…

Nay, but his jesting spirit, which is now crept into a lutestring, and now governed it by stops.

Which means that this evening will be spent sat with two depressed Marauders, which is making me a little depressed because they’re actually affecting my mood.

Nay, but I know who loves him.

And the worst of it is, as clueless as Padfoot is about the whole thing, Moony knows perfectly well that Pads wants her… which is why he’s not making a move. I mean, he might be shy, but he is a Marauder… and if his preferences are anything to go by, Eleanor Wren more than fits the bill.

Yes, and his ill conditions; and in despite of all, dies for him.

Which means that Moony’s deliberately not asking Eleanor out, because he knows that Sirius wants to. Maybe if I hadn’t been so damned arrogant about having ‘dibs’ on Lily, then this wouldn’t be happening (and hadn’t gone quite so nuts about that time in the library). One of them – well, Remus – would have made a move by now and there would be the end of it, one way or another, instead of all three of them being perpetually locked in this strange dance of misery.

‘Tis even so. Hero and Margaret have by this played their parts with Beatrice, and then the two bears will not bite one another when they meet.

I think it’s my fault…

0o0o0o0

It’s no use. However much I try to stop myself, I always glance in his direction, and he always glances back, and I always get this goofy smile on my face… it’s a wonder no one’s noticed. Particularly his best friends…

How tartly that gentleman looks! I never can see him but I am heartburned an hour after.

Not even Sirius, and really you’d think he’d be the first to see our attraction (if only to make fun of it, or to stop it in it’s tracks to reserve me for himself). But he hasn’t… darkly muttering to himself in the corner – perhaps Don John wasn’t the best part for him, after all; it may not be the primary reason he’s down at the moment, but it can’t be helping.

He were an excellent man that were made just in the midway between him and Benedick.

I really hope I’m not blushing. That line wasn’t nearly so embarrassing before Sirius got all suggestive about the three of us in Gladrags… Not that I’d ever do that, Remus being the man of my dreams and all, but it isn’t an unpleasant fantasy, as they go…

The one is too like an image and says nothing, and the other is like my lady’s eldest son, evermore tattling.

I’m still a little surprised at times that the teachers cast Remus as Benedick instead of Sirius (not that I’m complaining)… in many ways Sirius is much more like a real life Benedick, with the womanising and the incessant jesting. But I reckon they knew what they were doing… it’s really bringing Remus out of his shell… and he’s glorious. I knew he would be. I’ve never had so much fun being stared at by people in my life!

With a good leg and a good foot, uncle, and money enough in his purse, such a man would win any woman in the world, if’a could get her good will.

But they can’t have him. I want him for myself… which is dangerous, because if Sirius really does love me then I don’t think Remus will let himself be happy… he’d rather die than hurt his friend, and so would I. Though I admit there are times when I am prepared to be a good deal more selfish.

Too curst is more than curst. I shall lessen God’s sending that way, for it is said, ‘God sends a curst cow short horns’; but to a cow too curst he sends none.

But I am a Gryffindor. And therefore (largely) noble, and I know it would hurt everyone much more in the long run if I was… sometimes I think I’m too smart for my own damned good.

Just, if he send me no husband; for the which blessing I am at him upon my knees every morning and evening. Lord, I could not endure a man with a beard on his face. I had rather lie in the woollen!

Why does everything have to be so bloody complicated? I mean, even my mother couldn’t figure out the whole ‘love’ thing… and she’s practically a genius when it comes to social dynamics… renowned for it, in fact

What should I do with him? Dress him in my apparel and make him my waiting gentlewoman? He that hath a beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no beard is less than a man; and he that is more than a youth is not for me; and he that is less than a man, I am not for him. Therefore I will even take sixpence in earnest of the berrord and lead his apes into hell.

Perhaps it would be better if I just swore off men entirely, got some peace and quiet…

No; but to the gate, and there will the devil meet me like an old cuckold with horns on his head, and say ‘Get you to heaven, Beatrice, get you to heaven. Here’s no place for you maids.’ So deliver I up my apes, and away to St Peter. For the heavens, he shows me where the bachelors sit, and there live we as merry as the day is long.

But it would be no use. I’d make my mind up to do it, be determined as hell and all it would take from Remus is of those smiles that go more up one side of his face than the other, or that devilish grin he’s so good at hiding, or the graze of his fingers against my hand – or, hell, even just the sound of his voice – and I’d be lost. Zebra-ed. Fucked. Literally, in fact.

Yes, faith. It is my cousin’s duty to make cursy and say, ‘Father as it please you.’ But for all that, cousin, let him be a handsome fellow, or else make another cursy, and say, ‘Father as it please me’.

For all that I admire Beatrice, and I always have, I couldn’t scorn someone as wonderful as Remus (but in the end she does relent, I suppose)…

Not till God make men of some other metal than earth. Would it not grieve a woman to be overmastered with a piece of valiant dust? To make an account of her life to a clod of wayward marl? No uncle, I’ll none. Adam’s sons are my brethren, and truly I hold it a sin to match in my kindred.

… with his kind grey eyes, and the way his hair is just the right amount of messy, and that deep throaty chuckle he does when he’s trying to hide how funny he finds something… or his kindness and thoughtfulness, often to his own detriment, the easy way he smiles, the complete loyalty he shows to his friends, his quick wit…

The fault will be in the music, cousin, if you be not wooed in good time. If the Prince be too important, tell him there is measure in every thing and so dance out the answer.

… or the way he can set me alight with only a glance or a touch…

For, hear me, Hero: wooing, wedding, and repenting is as a Scotch jig, a measure, and a cinquepace. The first suit is hot and hasty like a Scotch jig (and full as fantastical); the wedding, mannerly modest, as a measure, full of state and ancientry; and then comes Repentance and with his bad legs falls into the cinquepace faster and faster, till he sink into his grave.

… and such fire. The slow smouldering kind, with the softest of touches; the intense, smothering flames, when he nips at my neck; the fresh, bright, delicious kind when his lips are on mine; the sweet abandon of wildfire when his hands are on my body; the raging inferno he becomes if I’m threatened. There’s a part of me that suspects that all this burning can’t be good for us...

I have a good eye, uncle; I can see a church by daylight.

But really, if it comes to it, I’m scared I won’t be able to give him up…

0o0o0o0

This is all wrong.

Hear me a little; for I have only been silent so long, and given way unto this course of fortune, by noting of the lady.

Best friend against best friend. It’s not supposed to work like this. They should be giving each other unwanted advice, egging each other on, not refusing to speak… I know Sirius hasn’t a clue about how Remus feels, so there’s no reason for him to talk about anything, but he used to. Time was any pretty girl walking past would be the subject of his conversation for at least the next few days (or however long it took to get her into bed), and Eleanor should be no exception. Except that he’s gone through a lot already this year. Not talking about a girl is much more like Remus… he’s always been more private about that stuff.

I have marked a thousand blushing apparitions to start in her face,

And then there’s Eleanor. Gods know whether or not she’s spoken to Lily and Alice about it… I know she hasn’t spoken to Claire, I asked (I made up some rumour that she fancied someone in Ravenclaw) but she hadn’t a clue…

… a thousand innocent shames in angel whiteness beat away those blushes,

To be frank, I’m not even wholly certain that she knows either of them fancy her… most of the time she seems blissfully unaware of even the possibility of male attentions. Valentine’s Day must have been one hell of a jolt for her in that respect…

… and in her eye there hath appeared a fire to burn the errors that these princes hold against her maiden truth.

… in fact, you could probably have cooked eggs on her face, she was that red at breakfast. Honestly, the thought of anyone caught between two Marauders is fairly frightening (how can we forget the day James caught Lily kissing Remus in the Library?), but this is Eleanor

Call me a fool;

… and one of these days she’s going to make her mind up about the whole ‘love’ thing and ask someone out. I really can’t imagine her waiting for someone else to do it…

Trust not my reading nor my observations, which with experimental seal doth warrant the tenor of my book;

… and I’m reasonably certain it’ll be Remus. James still isn’t sure, but I saw them in the early hours of the morning after Valentine’s Day: curled up together on the sofa in front of the Common Room fire. All I got from Remus when he woke up to find me watching was a pained expression and a ‘Not tonight Pete,’ while Eleanor sleepily conjured me a big squishy duvet so I could get some kip in one of the armchairs. Admittedly, neither of them could return to the dormitories (bloody Padfoot and his bloody noisy appetite), but they looked so right together.

Trust not my age, my reverence, calling, nor divinity,

And while ordinarily I’d expect Remus to back down at the first sign of conflict, I don’t think he’s going to this time… and when it kicks off (you can almost feel it coming) it’ll be a bloody miracle if he and Sirius don’t tear one another apart.

… if this sweet lady lie not guiltless here under some biting error.

If they don’t stop this soon, someone’s going to get badly hurt…

0o0o0o0

And I thought life was complicated before.

If you go on thus, you will kill yourself, and ‘tis not wisdom thus to second grief against yourself.

I’ve spent so much of my life watching my own back it seems very strange indeed to be watching someone else’s…

Therein do men from children nothing differ.

… particularly the backs of a couple of Gryffindors – let alone one quarter of the golden boys who used to regularly make my life hell. But here I am, watching. The tide of insults and attacks is waning now from all those quarters (unless I invite it myself) and I find myself looking to greener (hah!) pastures to defend myself.

Yet bend not all the harm upon yourself. Make those that do offend you suffer too.

Mulciber’s smiling at me again. Wonder what I did this time. Probably just me breathing… though it might have something to do with volunteering to stay late tonight to work through my scenes with Frank; even bloody Potter’s staying on, and I still volunteered. I must be losing my mind.

Here comes the Prince and Claudio hastily.

Except… since he and Lily started seeing one another he’s been making an effort not to fight me (a sensible precaution, it has to be said)… he’s even gone out of his way to compliment me during rehearsal (though he always looks astonished, so maybe he doesn’t intend it at all and actually means it…), which is, well, weird, to be completely honest. And strangely, his being with Lily doesn’t hurt as much as I thought it would… he seems to be treating her well, and she seems to be happy, and (as much as it pains me to admit it) that seems to be enough for me.

If he could right himself with quarrelling, some of us would lie low.

And of course there was never any question that I’d continue to look out for Lily, who still manages to put herself in the hexing line with half of the Slytherins… and naturally, since she and Alice and Frank are such good friends I watch for them too. They have shown me kindness, despite the fact they don’t actually like me. Eleanor was a bit of a shock though. I never dreamed that chatting to a Gryffindor about Chinese Chomping Cabbage would result in a friendship… one so strong that I am prepared to get in Mulciber’s way for her. After all, I didn’t seek her out, she found me in the darkness and held out her hand…

He shall kill two of us, and men indeed. But that’s no matter; let him kill one first. Win me and wear me! Let him answer me. Come, follow me, boy; come, sir boy; come, follow me. Sir boy, I’ll whip you from your foining fence! Nay, as I am a gentleman, I will!

… even when I bit her she wouldn’t pull away. So I won’t either. I don’t know what’s going on with the Gryffindors, but clearly something is… and it has to be fairly major, since they’ve stopped paying attention…

Content yourself. God knows I loved my niece; and she is dead, slandered to death by villains, that dare as well as answer a man indeed as I dare take a serpent by the tongue. Boys, apes, braggarts, Jacks, milksops!

… which is never a good thing when there are Slytherins around – I’d know, I am one. Particularly Slytherins like Mulciber and Rosier…

Hold your content. What, man! I know them, yea, and what they weigh, even to the utmost scruple; scambling, outfacing, fashionmonging boys, that lie and cog and flout, deprave and slander, go anticly, and show outward hideousness, and speak off half a dozen dang’rous words, how they might hurt their enemies, if they durst; and this is all.

… and I get the distinct impression they’ve set their sights on Eleanor. Which is not in any way a good thing. They set their sights on Mary MacDonald, and just look what happened to her… not many of us liked that…

Come, ‘tis no matter. Do not you meddle; let me deal in this.

One thing is clear: if they’re going after Eleanor, I’m going to have to take them down…

And shall, or some of us will smart for it

I suppose that’s the cost of friendship…

0o0o0o0

He’s putting me off again. I’m not even facing him and I can feel him glancing at me, and when I turn and smile he still blushes a little.

But are you sure that Benedick loves Beatrice so entirely?

It’s almost the same as it was before he asked me out – I never could concentrate in choir with him so near me. He’s got such a beautiful voice. I know the others tease him about it sometimes, but they’re just as impressed when they hear him, and so proud of him. I’m proud of him too. My Peter.

And did they bid you tell her of it, madam?

Most girls wouldn’t even look twice at him – particularly if he’s with the other Marauders (I’m not blind, I do see how handsome they are) – he’s not what you might call an Adonis, but that’s part of what I like about him. His features are warmer, friendlier, kinder somehow; more mellow. He has his own magnificence.

Why did you so? Doth not the gentleman deserve as full as fortunate a bed as ever Beatrice shall couch upon?

It’s funny, but Peter told me that if it weren’t for Eleanor’s urging he wouldn’t have asked me out. He didn’t think he was good enough. What a stupid thing to think! It’s probably because he’s a boy, and his friends are boys, and boys aren’t the most sensible people to talk to about matters of the heart…

Sure I think so; and therefore certainly it were not good she knew his love, lest she’ll make sport at it.

To think, if it weren’t for Eleanor we might never have been together! I’d never have had the courage to ask him out…

Sure, sure, such carping is not commendable.

… and apparently we’ve both had crushes on one another since third year. How silly we are!

Yet tell her of it. Hear what she will say.

It’s in the way he smiles at me, as if he’s not sure he should trust his senses – not sure I’ll smile back. Of course I’ll smile back. It’s all I ever want to do around him. I intend to make sure he knows that…

O, do not do your cousin such a wrong! She cannot be so much without true judgement (having so excellent a wit as she is prized to have) as to refuse so rare a gentleman as Signior Benedick.

After my mother left I was certain I’d never feel for anyone what I feel for Peter… when I’m with him it feels like nothing can harm me, like I’m finally home. Oh Merlin, and when he kisses me!

I pray you not be angry with me, madam, speaking my fancy. Signior Benedick, for shape, for bearing, argument, and valour, goes foremost in report through Italy.

It’s like I’m falling, falling into him… it’s dizzying and wonderful and terrifying all at the same time… this must be what they mean when they talk about ‘love’. I am in love… I love him. I love him. Gosh.

His excellence did earn it ere he had it. When are you married, madam?

But then, he’s always been perfect to me…

0o0o0o0

She’s perfect. In every way. Even in that she has flaws… they’re not major ones, but they’re there (and I know that this makes absolutely no sense, even in my head, but I don’t care). Nobody should be too perfect, and she’s just right.

Lady Beatrice, have you wept all this while?

And I love her. It sounds ridiculous, I’ve only known her a handful of months, and I’m only seventeen, but I do. I love her. I felt a taste of it the moment she hugged me when I told her I trusted her – I had no idea it was love, not really. Not then.

I will not desire that.

I knew it, properly knew it, in a way that seems impossible until you do know it, when we agreed to stay apart. In a strange way that agreement wasn’t the separation it seemed (though we are trying hard to keep it that way, really we are); it was something that we were a part of together… an accord.

Surely I do believe your fair cousin is wronged.

And the wolf loves her too, in his own way… which is a frightening thing to think about, since wolves mate for life. After Eleanor, there will be no one else for him. Or for me.

Is there any way to show such friendship?

If I could, I would pull her aside at the end of rehearsal and we’d be off, out of the Castle (she’s already proved she’s more than willing to break the rules, after all), just for one night. Sneak into Hogsmeade and then Apparate somewhere…

May a man do it?

…somewhere private and beautiful, far away from meddling housemates and lovesick best friends and all this bloody homework. Somewhere we could just be us, even for an hour or two…

I do love nothing in the world so well as you. Is that not strange?

She smiles up at me, through the fake tears she’s put on for the play (the teachers think she’s a wonderful actress, me I think she’s just plain wonderful) and my heart skips a beat. I never thought I could fall for anyone as completely as I have for her, body and soul…

By my sword, Beatrice, thou lovest me.

…as she apparently has for me. It’s completely irrational, but I don’t care.

I will swear by it that you love me, and I will make him eat it that says I love not you.

She even accepts the wolf – loves him, even, as a part of me, and told him so, when he was snarling at her. Without even flinching.

With no sauce that can be devised to it. I protest I love thee.

Just reached up and wrapped her arms around the two of us, as if it wasn’t strange in the slightest, as if her lover hadn’t suddenly gone mental and started shouting and become an entirely different being – an entirely different species

What offence, sweet Beatrice?

… and she just stood there, and let it happen. She wasn’t even afraid we’d hurt her, either of us…

And do it with all thy heart.

We’re supposed to kiss here, but the teachers are letting us skip that part so we don’t get all embarrassed. I’d think it was considerate if they weren’t forcing us to do this in the first place. Her lips are so soft and inviting (particularly when she bites one of them, as she’s doing now)… the problem won’t be kissing her, it will be stopping kissing her.

Come, bid me do anything for thee.

I have no idea how the wolf and I managed to attract such a kind, caring, wonderful, lovely, beautiful, sexy woman, but somehow we managed it. And there she is, not a half-step away from me, ashy-gold fronds of hair playing against the skin of her neck, delicious curves sending glorious shivers through my limbs and fingers, looking up at me with those beautiful storm-cloud eyes…

Ha! Not for the wide world!

And Sirius wants her for his own.

Tarry, sweet Beatrice.

(Oh Hecate, I’m holding her now and I can smell her warm, sweet scent – feel her heart beating against my chest – feel her warm body pressed into mine – and it feels like home!)

Beatrice-

(All I’d have to do is lift her chin so our lips could meet and I could taste her, and I wouldn’t care who could see! Reputations be damned – friendships can go to hell – if I could just taste her once more!)

We’ll be friends first.

And yet, for all that…

Is Claudio thine enemy?

Sirius wants her for his own.

Hear me, Beatrice –

And I am his best friend – his brother even. I would die for him, give my soul for him… time was I’d have let him have any girl he wanted, because he was my friend, and that was enough…

Nay, but Beatrice –

… and yet…

Beat–

… and yet, for all that, I don’t know that I could stand by and watch him take her. Even though that’s what I’ve sworn to do, if he ever makes his affections plain…

Tarry, good Beatrice. By this hand, I love thee.

I suspect Eleanor knows it… she’s certainly aware of what I could do, in the worst of situations… if I lost control, I could…

Think you in your soul that Count Claudio hath wronged Hero?

… I could actually kill him. And it would kill me. And her. And the wolf. He is Pack, after all. That sort of thing really matters to a wolf. And to me… and to her.

Enough, I am engaged. I will challenge him.

She wouldn’t go to him if he asked… she’d let him down gently, and be as kind as she could, but she wouldn’t be with him. She doesn’t want that, I’ve asked her.

I will kiss your hand, and so I leave you.

She wants me. Beyond all reason, and beyond anyone’s control.

By this hand, Claudio shall render me a dear account.

So if Padfoot ever makes a move (and, by Hecate, I thought he would have by now), all three of us will be alone, and miserable, and lost.

As you hear of me, so think of me.

Really, we should just give up this ridiculous pretence that we can ever be together…

Go comfort your cousin. I must say she is dead. And so farewell.

The trouble is, I’m falling more in love with her every day, and there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it.


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