Disclaimer: The characters belong to J.K. Rowling; the people they discuss do not.
Author’s Note: This story is set after MWPP finish school and before Harry is born. Remus and Sirius are a couple but have not yet come out to their friends. Please assume that Marie is a Muggle-born or half-blood classmate.
Title: Famous Poofs of History
“I’m sorry, but I think Marie has gone completely around the twist this time,” Sirius grumbled as he settled farther back in the sofa and put his feet up on the table before him. “I’ve never understood Muggles’ fascination with masquerade parties to begin with, but I could go along with the idea if this were Halloween or Carnival—at least masquerades are traditional for those holidays. But Valentine’s Day?”
“The theme of the party makes complete sense for Valentine’s Day—dress as famous lovers from history or literature,” Lily pointed out. She was sitting on the opposite sofa, feet tucked up under her skirt and James’s arm around her shoulders.
“I’m not saying that she hasn’t come up with justification for this bizarre idea of hers, but it’s still a bizarre idea.”
“I don’t know what you’re complaining about,” Peter pointed out. “At least all of you should be able to think of costumes. Who am I supposed to go as?”
“James and Lily will be able to think of costumes,” Sirius corrected him. “Merlin and Nimue, Guinevere and Lancelot, Oberon and Titania, Cupid and Psyche—plenty of couples to choose from. But for anyone not happily ensconced in coupledom, nothing. Let’s just all agree to wear dress robes and skip this silly costume business.”
“Actually, I can think of several famous lovers who aren’t part of couples,” Remus said. “Don Juan, Casanova—James Bond.”
“Oh great,” Peter grumbled as he reached for his beer near Sirius’s feet. “Three good costumes for Sirius and not one for me. Who’d believe me as any of those people?”
“Any choices for single women?” Lily asked.
Remus thought for a moment. “Mata Hari.”
“Aphrodite,” James said at the same moment.
“Don’t worry, Peter, I’m just wearing dress robes; you can too. If Marie wants to recapture her childhood and wear a costume, good for her, but I don’t want to,” Sirius said as he put his feet back on the floor and leaned forward preparatory to standing. “I think I’m going to head home and get a good night’s sleep.”
“Good idea,” Peter said. He finished his beer and then stood as well. “Thank you for dinner, Lily.”
Remus was already off the sofa he’d shared with Sirius and was kissing Lily good-bye. “We’ll leave you two to christen another room of your new house, or have you already tried them all?” he asked James.
“Just four so far,” James replied with a grin. Lily backhanded him in the chest.
They all said their good-byes as they fetched their cloaks and walked out beyond the garden gate from where it was safe to disapparate. A moment after Peter vanished, Sirius whispered, “My flat?” and Remus nodded.
“Hello, again,” Sirius said when Remus apparated into the corridor just outside his flat. He didn’t give Remus a kiss—yet—because he was trying to focus on unlocking the wards that guarded his flat from unplanned guests. But once they were safely inside and the door was closed, Sirius tried to make up for lost time. He pinned Remus back against the wall and kissed him hungrily, deeply.
“I’ve wanted to do this all evening,” Sirius said as he pulled Remus’s shirt free of his trousers so he could reach beneath the shirt and stroke bare skin. “Sitting beside you and not being allowed to touch you was killing me.”
“You aren’t really wearing dress robes to Marie’s party, are you?”
“Who cares about Marie’s bloody party?” Sirius growled. But Remus obviously seemed to care, for he wasn’t responding quite as enthusiastically to Sirius’s attentions as he usually would.
“It’ll hurt her feelings, Padfoot.”
“A costume party was a stupid idea to begin with,” Sirius said as he broke away from his subdued lover and headed into the kitchen. He got two bottles of beer and opened them with a tap of his wand. He didn’t really want another beer, but it gave him an excuse to walk away from Remus. He called over his shoulder, “I’ll wear a mask with my dress robes if it makes you feel better.”
“Don’t bother on my account. Wear what you want.”
Remus had said as neutrally as he could, but Sirius had spent over eight years learning every one of Remus’s moods and the subtle cues to read them. Remus was very, very annoyed with him.
“Why is this such a big deal?” Sirius asked as he handed a bottle of beer to Remus. “I really don’t think Marie will care whether or not each and every one of her guests wears a stupid costume. As long as she and that Hufflepuff boyfriend of hers dress like some happy couple in history, she’ll be happy.”
“You’re right,” Remus said, but he didn’t look at Sirius as he said it. He stared down at the label on the beer bottle and picked at it with his thumbnail.
“So why are you so ticked at me?”
Remus shrugged. Sirius decided to try and start over. He took the bottle away from Remus, put both untouched bottles aside, and wrapped his arms around Remus’s waist. Remus held him as well, but Sirius could feel that Remus was still stiff within his embrace. Sirius sighed. The only thing worse than having Remus upset with him was having Remus upset with him and unwilling to tell him why.
“Talk, Moony. Why is this such a big deal?”
Remus clung to him a bit tighter and spoke into the hollow of his throat. “I just don’t like seeing this side of you very much.”
“The ‘I’m a pure-blood wizard who doesn’t wear stupid Muggle costumes’ side. I know Muggle costumes must seem pretty pathetic compared to glamours or Polyjuice Potion or being an animagus, but—”
“Is that what you think this is about?” Sirius pulled back and stared at Remus in astonishment.
“It is the impression you’re giving.”
Sirius shook his head. “No, I don’t mind the idea of wearing a costume. Shit, I’d better make sure Lily didn’t think that too—tomorrow.”
Remus’s brow was wrinkled in confusion. “Then why—”
“It’s the stupid bloody theme of the party, Moony. All the little boys and girls all happily paired off in their ‘his and hers’ costumes, because everybody’s so happy to see them together. And what are you and I supposed to wear? I don’t recall reading any stories of ‘famous poofs in history’ when I was growing up. And so you and I are left with a choice between wearing costumes that lie about who we are or boycotting the entire stupid idea all together. You can go as Don Juan if you want; I’m wearing dress robes. And if anyone asks, I’ll say I’m there as ‘Sirius Black, soon to be famous as the lover of Remus Lupin’.”
Remus kissed him then—not the passionate ‘I need you’ kiss that Sirius had given him by the door, but one of the tender and lingering kisses that they substituted for the ‘I love you’s that neither one had yet dared to say. Remus began to lead Sirius by the hand toward the bedroom.
“Famous poofs in history—let’s see,” Remus said as they went. “Alexander the Great and his lovers, Hephaistion and Bagoas. Hephaistion and Alexander would be a good choice. Bagoas was castrated, so I don’t think he’s a fitting costume for either of us.”
“Or Achilles and Patroklos—I always liked them.”
“The Achilles, of the Trojan War and the bad heel?” Sirius asked. They’d just reached the bedroom and were already shedding each other’s clothes as quickly as they could.
“Yes, that Achilles, strongest and bravest of all the Greeks. He was a bit childish though, had a temper tantrum and refused to fight after Agamemnon insulted him. It was only when Patroklos died fighting in his place that he went back into the battle and avenged his lover.”
“Sounds like something I’d do.” Sirius kissed Remus’s throat and shoulders as they pulled each other close again. He didn’t kiss Remus’s mouth for he wanted to hear more.
“The temper tantrum or seeking revenge?’
“Or if you want English history,” Remus said, struggling to speak coherently despite the feel of Sirius’s mouth on his throat, “Richard II and his lover Robert DeVere.”
Sirius pulled back with frown. “He’s not the king who they killed by—”
“No, that was Edward II, a few generations earlier,” Remus assured him, and Sirius returned to tasting the side of Remus’s throat. “Or if you want more recent, Oscar Wilde and Bosie Douglas, but I wouldn’t recommend that we go as that pair.”
“Why not?” Sirius said as he turned Remus and pushed him against the bed—that wonderful bed just the right height to meet them at the bend of the hip—and began kissing down the length of Remus’s spine.
“For one, Wilde went to prison for sodomy and ended up hating Douglas for ruining his life. For another—oh, Pads, that feels good,” Remus sighed as he stretched forward and then clawed at the duvet. “What was I saying?”
“Oh—I’ve always thought that Wilde looks a bit like Snape.”
Sirius shuddered. “That’s definitely out. I am not wearing a costume that resembles Snape, and I am definitely not letting you do so either. I don’t think I could touch you for weeks after seeing that.”
* * * * *
“You look beautiful,” Remus said to Lily over her shoulder. She was wearing a diaphanous gown of green and had pearls scattered throughout her hair. Her hair was a tumble of loose curls rather than its normally straight state. A simple gold circlet around her brow indicated royal status, and opalescent powder on her skin suggested that she wasn’t quite human.
“Thank you,” she said as she turned around. “Whoa—” and she whistled at the sight of him. “I’ve never seen you wear so little before.”
Remus grinned. “Blame Sirius.” Then he leaned closer and said quietly, “He helped me cover all my scars with a glamour, but I have to keep an eye on the clock as it’ll wear off in a few hours.”
“Cinderella—but in armor—and male. Who are you anyway?” She looked at the laced leather sandals, the short leather skirt, and the leather and bronze breastplate, forearm guards, and shin guards. Ancient Greek was her guess, but she didn’t know who.
“You first,” he said.
“Guess. We decided to come as one of the couples Sirius suggested last week.”
Remus thought for a moment. “Titania?” She nodded. “So, is James here as Oberon or Bottom, Your Majesty?”
“He’s Oberon for now, but I’ve warned him that any misbehaviour on his part will result in an ass’s head.” She tapped her wand against the palm of her other hand to emphasize the threat.
“Lily!” James was trying to make his way through the crowd toward them. “Lily, you have to see the costume Sirius is almost wear—” Then he caught sight of Remus and began to laugh. “You too? How did he talk you into this? Did you lose a bet or something?”
“No, he just promised me that I wouldn’t go home alone if I wore it.”
“Remus!” Lily exclaimed in a tone of mock-outrage.
“He’s probably right,” James said with a grin. “At least three girls were drooling all over Padfoot while he was trying to get drinks.”
“Four girls,” Sirius corrected him as he slipped into the space between James and Remus and handed Remus a drink. “But the poor things will have to go home with whomever they came with.”
“So who are you supposed to be anyway?” James asked Sirius. “Eros?”
“Would Eros wear armor?” Sirius asked disdainfully. “I’m Achilles. See the little target on my ankle.” He turned his leg to show that he had indeed painted a red bull’s-eye on the back of his ankle.
James laughed. “Very creative, Achilles. But I don’t think Achilles was famous for being a lover.”
“He died avenging his lover’s death, so I think he counts,” Sirius replied. “It’s at least as good as Oberon and Titania. They’re famous for having a lovers’ spat.”
“And for playing pranks,” James pointed out.
“So who was Achilles’s lover?” Lily asked. “I don’t remember.”
“Patroklos,” Sirius said.
“Don’t remember her,” James said. Then he looked past ‘Achilles’ to Remus. “You’re obviously someone else from the Trojan War. So which one are you?”
Remus looked at Sirius and gave him one last opportunity to change his mind. Sirius just smiled back. “Tell them.”
“Patroklos,” Remus said while watching James for his reaction.
James rolled his eyes. “Your plan not to go home alone, Moony? I don’t think it’ll work too well if you go around saying you’re his lover.”
“Actually, it’ll work very well,” Sirius replied as took Remus by the hand. “He moved into my flat almost a week ago. Two separate flats have pretty much been a pretense for quite awhile anyway.”
“Close your mouth, James,” Lily said. Then she hugged Remus and Sirius in turn. “Congratulations. I’m glad you decided to tell us.”
“James?” Sirius asked warily. “O.K.?”
“Not a joke, right?”
“Not a joke.”
“O.K., I—O.K.” He smiled faintly at them both. He’d need to time to accept this, but he would accept it.
“Should we go tell Peter now?” Sirius asked Remus.
“Is he here? I haven’t seen him yet.”
“Yeah, he’s over there,” he gestured toward another room, “chatting up Aster. Guess who he came as. Felix Rathskeller!” They both laughed as they walked hand in hand through the crowd.
—Written March 2004
Author’s Note: For your further reading pleasure, may I suggest:
A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare, the play in which we meet Oberon, Titania, and Bottom. (Or better yet, go see a performance.)
The Persian Boy by Mary Renault, a novel about Alexander the Great and his real-life lovers. It’s a history lesson and a wonderful love story all in one.
Royal Whodunnits, edited by Mike Ashley, a collection of mystery short stories. “The Friar’s Tale” features Richard II, Robert DeVere, and a plot that may tear the loving couple apart. “Perfect Shadows” details the very grisly end of Edward II. Let’s just say that it takes hatred of homosexuals to a whole new level.
The Litter, a fanfic by JKLB (me). Read it to find out who Felix Rathskeller is.