Summary: Let it never be said that Harry Potter’s parents were ones to half-ass shenanigans. This is the story of the rise and fall of the original trio of tricksters.
Disclaimer: Tbh I didn’t even think of the original premise for this fic (a Sirius/James/Lily triad), that was actually a suggestion from Transreal_Clouden. I certainly don’t own the Harry Potter series, or “Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy.”
A/N: Thanks as always to cyborg-goddess and Transreal_Clouden for being the betas my stories desperately need. As regular readers of mine will probably suspect, this short fic is a prequel that takes place in the universe of A Trio of Tricksters but reading the rest of the series is not at all necessary to understand and enjoy this one! For those of you who are keeping up with the main fic, this one is most relevant to chapter ten of the main fic A Trio of Tricksters: Eclipse the Past, Usurp the Future, but provides some general background about the lives of Sirius, James, and Lily that will be useful for the fic going forward!
I’d Like for You and I to Go Romancing
Sirius Black had a problem, and it came with messy hair, hazel eyes, and square glasses that constantly slid down an obnoxiously sexy nose. Seriously, how could a nose be sexy ? It just wasn’t fair! Unfortunately, Sirius was a boy (though he liked to think himself a man) of many problems, another one possessing a mane of beautiful copper hair, startlingly green eyes, and a smattering of freckles across a nose that was as cute and pert as a button and entirely misleading considering how biting the words that came from between the deceptively soft looking lips below it could be.
The biggest problem for Sirius, really, was that one of his problems was James Potter, and his other problem was James Potter’s long-time crush, Lily Evans. For the past six years, Sirius had buried the feelings he was developing toward James and Lily deep into the ground, to mixed results. In the case of James, they had blossomed into a fruitful tree of brotherhood and friendship that was a kind of torture in that even when James was next to him it was never the way he pictured it in his deepest desires. In the case of Lily, the feelings were like weeds that popped up when he least expected them, and just when he thought he’s plucked them all out they’d sprout anew.
As he mused over his breakfast at the kitchen table in the Potter’s townhouse, which had been his home as well since he ran away here the previous summer, Sirius reflected on whether he might be better off getting a new metaphor. Or perhaps I should stop thinking about this at all . He thought guiltily as Euphemia came into the kitchen, ruffled his hair, and took a few of the pancakes he had set aside with his completely legal I’m seventeen now thank you warming charm after making them this morning.
“Thank you for making breakfast, dear. Though you’re up mighty early.”
“Couldn’t sleep,” Sirius replied, with a slight bitterness to his tone. “I’ve been thinking about all these attacks that we’ve been seeing in the news. The targeting of the muggleborns and mixedbloods. I can’t help but wonder which members of my so-called family have already put their support behind this man calling himself a dark lord,” he stabbed a bit of sausage with his fork using a bit more force than necessary, a particular vigor motivated by his dislike of the people who had raised him for the first years of his life.
“The war has been hard on all of us, darling,” Euphemia abandoned her breakfast and pulled him into a hug. “I think it’s affecting you more than most because you’ve always been so empathetic. You care about people, Sirius. You know how to love, and what it means to do good, and it puts you far above those people who might have raised you for the first eleven years of your life, and those people don’t define you. Your parents held rigid expectations and never adjusted them even when it was clear they didn’t fit you. Children grow in all directions, and it’s the responsibility of parents to grow with them,” she kissed his forehead, and Sirius wished, not for the first time, that he had lived with the Potters for his entire life, and not just the past two summers. Though he supposed that if that were the case it would make his current feelings even more inconvenient than they already were, because then there would be even more of a “brotherly” aspect attached to their relationship.
….and there was the object of his thoughts now. James Potter in all of his shirtless, messy-haired, looking-inexplicably-good-in-dirty-gym-shorts-he-hadn’t-washed-in-a-week glory, came in through the back door, fresh from his morning run. He was sweaty, he was gorgeous, and Sirius was stupidly in love.
“Did Sirius make breakfast again? Fantastic!” James grinned, far too awake for so early in the morning. He hadn’t always been a morning person, but this summer he had decided to make an effort to start getting up earlier and earlier, and the end result was that he was, in fact, rather even more fit than he had been before his adventure with more exercise. He was also much more hungry, and therefore very appreciative of Sirius’s cooking efforts.
“These pancakes are delicious, Siri. You would make an excellent housewife,” James joked, and Sirius did his best not to choke on his pumpkin juice.
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Sirius had another problem, aside from his being enamoured with James Potter. That problem was complicated by said being enamoured because of the fact that the other object of Sirius’s affection was one Lily Evans, AKA the object of James’s affections. Not that Lily thought particularly highly of James or Sirius, not after all of the issues that the two of them had had over the years with one Severus Snape, who, until the end of their fifth year, had been Lily’s best friend.
Lily had lots of other friends of course, across all of the houses, people she was friendly with, but didn’t actually spent that much time around because of all of the time that she spent focused on making sure that Severus was OK and happy, given his generally miserable personality. It was only once she had freed herself of the responsibility for his happiness that she was able to fully embrace herself and her wants and needs, and realized that friendship really should be more of a two way street. She still didn’t associate very much with the Marauders, thinking them honestly as bad as Severus Snape was, and it was only when Sirius did some serious introspection that he realized that Lily was right . In many ways he was just as bad as the Slytherins, and it was sobering to realize that he had simply exchanged one set of prejudices for another.
And yet he still hated Snape. There was something about the other boy that simply set his teeth on edge, and he could hardly handle having him within his sight. And it didn’t help that Snape utterly hated him and the rest of the Marauders. The bad blood between Snape and the group of them was thick and bubbled with the potency of it. There was too much history there that couldn’t be undone. And it was made even worse when considering the ramifications of what happened at the end of their sixth year. When James and Sirius had been discussing the best way to make it past the whomping willow on a night when Peter was sick and couldn’t turn into a rat and press the knot on the tree for them, and Snape, spying as he was, overheard and decided to investigate for himself. Sirius, in a dark and angry mood, almost made motion to just let Snape die, but he simply couldn’t do that to Moony, and so he let James go save the evil idiot, and went to Dumbledore himself to tell the headmaster what had happened (or a version of it anyway) and all the while he hoped that the moron wouldn’t get himself killed and Remus executed because he and James had been foolish about not making sure that they used muffling charms when discussing sensitive topics.
Later he heard that Lily had found out a version of events from Remus, who, unbeknownst to James or Sirius, had made friends with the redhead that they both loved, or at least liked if they weren’t exactly sure what love was supposed to entail. They weren’t aware of how or why, but Lily was much friendlier to them after that, and over the course of the summer she and Sirius had actually been sending letters to one another, hesitantly continuing a conversation they had started just before the end of term about the terminology and rationality of the usage of dark magic, what the field actually meant, who could use it, what was and wasn’t illegal, what its origins were, how some families did and didn’t use it, and so on.
There was nothing incriminating; it was all academic, and after a while their conversation migrated to a discussion about the merits of the Hogwarts house system, and veered into the structural problems of socio-economic inequality and prejudice within the wizarding world, and how it compared to the muggle world, of which Sirius was woefully ignorant. Peppered within, hesitantly, were questions about how the other was doing and summer plans, and what was going on in their lives. And still more hesitantly they opened up in what were in fact at this point late in the summer almost daily letters, sending a new one the day they received one in turn, where they included details about their lives growing up and how they each regretted the estrangement they felt from siblings that used to be their closest confidants.
Sirius, on his part, felt both elated that he was forming such a close bond with the girl, but also incredibly guilty, because he bloody well knew how much James liked her. He had only been proclaiming it to the entire school to hear since their first year. And here Sirius was, becoming closer with and steadily falling for the girl that his best friend loved. His emotions were in a chaotic state of turmoil about the whole situation because he loved James, and he increasingly loved Lily, and while a part of him whispered that the honorable thing to do would be to step aside and let them be together, the other part of him said fuck that because Lily hadn’t shown even the slightest interest in James, and who was Sirius to make that kind of decision for her? But the amount of betrayal that James would feel if Sirius were to be with Lily was more than Sirius could bear, and if there was nothing else in this world that Sirius would commit to, his loyalty to James was steadfast. But Lily . It was all such a mess. And it was only going to get messier.
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It wasn’t as though Lily hadn’t thought about the possibility of being with James Potter. He had tried to get her to go out with him more than enough times that the idea was at some level or another permanently wedged in her mind like a pebble in the shoe of a horse. It hurt and she wanted to dig it out, but that was going to be even more painful, and it made it difficult to run and carry heavy loads, and where was she even going with this metaphor, she wasn’t a horse? Lily shook herself and returned back to the problem at hand. James Potter. He was attractive enough, definitely he was attractive enough, physically anyway. Definitely very pretty. And his stupid hair that he was always messing about like a drama queen was enough to make all the girls swoooon and Lily acted like it didn’t affect her, but she’d be lying if it didn’t just a little bit. And the most annoying bit was that she knew exactly who it did affect — Sirius Black.
Lily wasn’t sure if anyone else had realized it — in fact she wasn’t even sure if Sirius had realized it — but the boy was utterly in love with James, and while that fact had previously amused her, at this point it was actually now a slight disappointment because she was starting to realize that she did have feelings towards the boy she had always thought was a bit of a smarmy git — that is to say, Sirius. And what in the name of sanity was she supposed to do with that? What kind of Midsummer Lunacy had they gotten themselves into here? Because Sirius was… he was fantastic. She had always thought of him as a bit of a bastard, but he was actually really smart, and really funny, and could be really sweet and insightful too. He was innovative, and creative, and he had a lot to say, and so many ideas about ways to make the world better.
Sirius was brimming with potential, and it angered Lily to realize how people just dismissed Sirius as a jokester and James’s best friend. He was so much more than that, and it was really disheartening to witness that the things she noticed about him were not the things he was valued for. In fact, not many people seemed to really value Sirius at all. It was sad to see. And Sirius was incredibly attractive. He was definitely her type, tall and with shaggy black hair and stunning grey eyes. And fit, too. They both were, really. Sirius and James.
And it was always Sirius and James, they came as a pair. When Lily thought it to herself, she thought she could see herself coming around to James. He had mellowed out a lot over the past year, and reading Sirius’s letters, it was clear that there was a shift in his actions from the previous, but also that the ways in which James was changing were for the better. And also that there were little things about James that Lily had never known, but appreciated, like the fact that he liked to sit and watch sunsets with his mother on clear summer nights.
But these things were things she learned through Sirius, who, as Lily had already realized, was stunningly in love with James. And the thing of it was that Lily wouldn’t mind dating James, if she could also date Sirius. Free love was totally a thing, and it wasn’t bad to be with more than one person, even before marriage, even with no marriage, whatever her Catholic mother might say. And so it wasn’t really a matter of getting together with Sirius or James, when she was pretty sure that it would be better for all of them if it was both, wouldn’t it? Yes. Both would be better, she was sure of it.
Lily hadn’t discussed it with either of them ahead of time, but it would work out, she was pretty sure.
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James Potter was not an idiot. He definitely knew he wasn’t as smart as Lily or as Sirius, and Remus was probably at least book smarter than him. But did Sirius really think that he wouldn’t notice that he had been swapping owls back and forth with Lily Evans all summer?
Give a man a break.
At first James had been angry, but he saw how happy the letters made Sirius, and he also saw how guilty they made him, and he realized that Sirius wasn’t doing this to hurt him, James. He was doing this because it made him, Sirius, happy. Lily made Sirius happy. And if the frequency and positivity of her letters were any indication, Sirius made Lily happy too. And who was James, to tell them that they shouldn’t be happy? They, the people that he loved most in the world? Because he had loved Lily for ages, in the “I have a crush on you you’re pretty” kind of way, and at first had wanted to possess her because he couldn’t but then because he realized that she was just a genuinely good person, and he wanted that. Not only did he want to be with someone like that, but he wanted to be like that. James wanted to be a good person, and it was with dismay that he realized that in many ways he wasn’t.
He knew he was better than the evil muggle-haters in Slytherin, but what did he really know about muggles either? And was his treatment of them much better than how they treated the rest of the school? He was angry, but did they deserve his anger? When he looked around to see what other students thought as he tortured Snape after Lily had rejected both of them (and he realized in retrospect that it was torture) he saw that there were some people laughing out of glee, but others out of fear. And James didn’t want to be feared. He wanted to be better than that, and he had been trying, but it was perhaps too late. Especially since it now seemed as though James had lost his chance, because Sirius and Lily had each other.
The most devastating part of it all, though, wasn’t actually the thought of losing a chance with Lily — a chance that he knew he never really had — but losing Sirius, who had been his best friend and his rock for the past six years. Lily was fire and passion and like a burning sun of warmth and goodness, but Sirius was what he relied on to steady him, his grounding and his anchor when everything else was irregular. He didn’t know who he would be without Sirius, and could scarcely remember how he had functioned without the other boy at his side. And he wouldn’t lose him just because they loved the same girl. They were more to each other than that. They had to be.
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I’ve so enjoyed our correspondence over the course of this summer. Would you like to coordinate getting our school things for the term, perhaps getting a late breakfast at the Leaky Cauldron? I’d like it if it were just us, though if you’d like to bring just one other person, James is also welcome. There’s much I’d like to talk to the both of you about. Does Tuesday the 23rd work? Say around nine thirty?
All my best,
Sirius stared at the letter, blinked, and stared again. He read it twice more, and was even more confused. Lily had the ability to be ever so perplexing. And he was fairly certain it was Lily, because it was written in her handwriting, on the same muggle paper she always used, and with the same type of ink pattern she always used, something she said was from what was called a ball-point pen. She had showed him before the end of term, and he had to admit that it seemed right more useful than a quill, and while she admitted that some of them weren’t very good quality, the nice ones wrote just as smooth, if not smoother. Shaking his mind away from pens, Sirius tucked the letter into his desk along with all the others, and made his way downstairs, off to request they get their supplies on the 23rd of August, rather than the 24th as they had previously planned. He and James would have to go alone, but they were adults now, weren’t they?
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“Sirius, why are we going to the Leaky Cauldron? We already had breakfast at seven, though you didn’t eat much, I noticed, you really should eat more you know —” James pestered, as he was dragged into the pub at precisely 9:30, after first going to Gringotts to replenish their funds.
“Why, Potter, you sound like a regular mother hen,” Lily interjected, sounding amused. Her arms were crossed, but in a friendly sort of way, and she jerked her head towards the back of the pub. “Come along, I got us a private room.” She walked toward where she had gestured, and Sirius couldn’t help but grin as he took a flabbergasted James by the hand and followed her.
“Good morning, Lily,” Sirius greeted pleasantly, though nervously. James still hadn’t said anything, and Sirius was starting to wonder if not telling his friend anything was really the right approach, but honestly he hadn’t been particularly certain that there was a right approach here.
“Good morning, Sirius, James. Won’t you sit?” Lily had already made herself comfortable at the small round table provided, and helped herself to some tea and a small helping of eggs, with two pieces of toast. James and Sirius sat. Sirius was about to say something, anything, to break the tension, when James blurted out.
“I beg your pardon?” Lily blinked. “I didn’t think you had done anything particularly offensive yet today. Your elbow isn’t even on the table.”
“Not for today, I mean, I didn’t even know I’d see you today. But, I’m sorry for harassing you year after year, and asking you to go out with me. I should have stopped after you said no the first time, and I was a complete prat and a prick to continue when you have no interest in me. And even if Sniv- um, Snape, isn’t your friend anymore, targeting him because he was your friend and I wasn’t was also a dick move. So I’m sorry, and I will leave you alone from now on, if you want me to,” James would have rambled on, Sirius was sure, if Lily hadn’t burst out into hysterical laughter. And it really was hysterical. The laughter was almost shrieks, and the two boys were concerned about her actual ability to breathe, which was not helped by the fact that when she finally got herself under control she cast what Sirius recognized as an asthmatic relief charm on herself.
“Um, that’s not exactly the response I expected, but honestly today isn’t the day I expected,” James said uncertainly.
Lily took a gulp of water before speaking. “I was laughing,” she paused, “because you just told me you weren’t going to try to date me anymore when the entire reason I told Sirius to bring you here was so that I could proposition you.” She let out another hysterical giggle at the bewildered looks on both of their faces before hastily continuing. “Not, in like, the sexual sense, at least not immediately, though I won’t rule it out as an eventuality, but what happened was that I realized that I was in love with Sirius and since he’s in love with you, and you’re really attractive, and not actually as much of an asshole as you used to be, and actually I realized that I do quite like you, so it wouldn’t be that awful if we all just… dated each other?” She said this all incredibly fast, before trailing off at the end, and there was a pregnant pause before James simply said:
“Sirius is in love with me?”
Sirius, whose normally pale face had gone incredibly red, said nothing. He was fairly certain he was hallucinating, because one of his crushes had just outed him to his other crush by proposing that they do the very thing he most wanted to do and now they were both looking at him expectantly, so he did the most Gryffindor thing he could and jumped straight in.
“I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t.”
Lily, who was both a romantic and a cynicist at heart, thought that was both an adorable and revoltingly saccharine thing to say. She did, in fact, appreciate the kissing that took place afterward, particularly when they started kissing her as well.