Fic: No Subtitles Available (Part 1/6)

Title: No Subtitles Available
Author: huldrejenta
Fandom: Harry Potter
Characters & Pairings: Remus Lupin, Sirius Black, James Potter, Alice Longbottom, Frank Longbottom, Lily Evans, various HP characters, Remus/Sirius, background James/Lily and Alice/Frank
Rating & Warnings: PG-13, mentions of homophobia, very slight crossdressing (the "sod the rules, why should gender dictate what I'm allowed to wear" kind more than androgynous character), implied sex
Word Count: 12,000 (this part ~2,500)
Summary: Potter and Black have always been arrogant and selfish as far as Remus can tell. Having their own, very successful radio show, probably hasn't changed that one bit. But when fate, or more precisely Frank Longbottom, steps in, and Remus finds himself working with Potter and Black, he might have to consider that there's more to them than he's been giving them credit for.
Non-Magical AU.
Prompt: "Lying in bed with the radio on
Moonlight falls like rain
Soft summer nights spent thinking of you
When will I see you again

Soft and low the music moans
I can't stop thinking about you
Thinking about you"
~ from "Nights Are Forever Without You" by England Dan & John Ford Coley
Notes: Written for Team Muggle at the 2014 rs_games.
The theme this year was the five senses, and there's one chapter for each sense (as well as one additional chapter at the end).
Thank you so much to the wonderful brighty18 for reading this and giving me your fabulous comments, and to the equally wonderful stereolightning for doing a great beta job on very short notice ♥

1. See Me

"We're about to reach the end of yet another broadcast from James Potter and Sirius Black, your allies in making the world a little wiser, a little happier and a little bit more understanding. And a whole lot more fun."

"Indeed we are, Sirius, but before we say good-bye to our lovely listeners out there, we'll have some final words from today's guest: author of the award-winning bestseller "My Life: A Touch of Magic", and three times voted The Sexiest Man Alive, Mr Gilderoy Lockhart!"

"Thank you, Mr Potter, you're too kind! There's no need to mention any of it, or the fact that I'm nominated for Best TV Talk Show Host. I don't talk about that."

"So we've noticed, Mr Lockhart. You mentioned earlier that you'd like to share some piece of advice before we wrap up for today?"

"Ah, yes, I'm so glad you asked. I've gathered a considerable amount of wisdom on my various adventures, and I enjoy nothing more than sharing with those less fortunate. One valuable lesson I've taught myself over the years is that quite often the best thing to do is the opposite of how the old saying goes. Judge the book by its cover! These days, people will tell you to seek deeper, to search for more than one way to look at things. Not so, I say. If I had stopped to think about the correct course of action when I ran into the Siberian tiger you can read all about in my latest book, the tiger would've eaten me. It's remarkable how often this is true in other parts of life as well. For instance, unkempt people are usually poor. Poor people are usually lazy. Lazy people are usually terribly dull. Spare yourself a lot of grief and stay clear of all this digging-deeper, having-an-open-mind business. Take me, for example. What you see is a handsome man - blindingly so, I've been told, not that it's important to emphasize that. I'm well-dressed and charming. This first impression is remarkably accurate! Do you see what I mean, Mr Black?"

"Absolutely. This was most illuminating. Thank you so much for joining us, it's been an adventure having you on the show. Stay tuned, everyone - we'll be back with a few last words after this song. A song that is perfect for everyone using the radio the way I do - lying in bed while rain is pouring down outside, listening to music, thinking about someone special from your past."

*** ***

Everything is so small. The building, the offices, the studios.

Remus has never been inside a radio station before, but he's pictured it to be less cramped than what he sees while trailing after Frank. He clutches the cereal bar in his pocket hard enough to turn it into crumbs. No matter. There's no way he'll be able to eat the damned thing now anyway, and the nervous butterflies have all the space they could possibly wish for in his empty stomach.

Rounding the corner, they walk into an office much bigger than the other ones. It's practically the size of Remus' flat.

"This," says Frank, waving an arm around, "is the heart and soul of this place." He beams and pushes his glasses further up his nose. "It's my office, yes, but it's more than that. All editorial meetings take place in this room, and people knock on my door at all hours. Lots of great ideas, and lots of not so great ones, have been born here. I like to think of this as more than a place to work. It's also a place where we take care of each other, Remus, and I'm glad that you've agreed to become a part of it."

Remus picks up a random mug from the desk. There's a castle of some sort printed on the mug, it's beautiful, and he keeps looking at it. He has no idea what to say. Frank is doing him a huge favour by offering him this job, and they both know it.

"Good show today, wasn't it, Frank?" Laughing voices pull Remus out of his thoughts. He looks up to find two men striding into the office like it's their own personal playground. If these men are anything like they used to be, they probably think it is.

Remus would've recognized Potter and Black anywhere. They've always stood out. Loud, boisterous, stupidly confident - and they still don't blend in with the background. A fact the two of them undoubtedly appreciate, considering that their current background is faded wall paper with a pattern Remus wouldn't be able to remember later if his life depended on it.

Frank sits down onto his desk and flips through some papers. "I'm sure it was a great broadcast, guys, but I didn't catch it, I'm afraid. I'm giving the grand tour to the newest addition to our staff. You remember Remus Lupin, don't you?"

Two sets of black hair turn around, one unruly and one graceful. Two wide smiles spread across faces that look every bit as eager and every bit as mischievous as they did when Remus saw them last.

"Remus!" Potter stretches out his hand, he even pulls Remus into an awkward hug. "Nice to see you, mate. I haven't seen you since... well, since forever. How've you been?"

Deciding against giving an honest answer, Remus shakes Potter's hand and releases himself from the hug before an approaching Black catches his attention.

Back in school, Sirius Black could sweep anyone to whom he decided to give the time of day off their feet, of that Remus had little doubt. Even those who by no stretch of the word belonged to his fan club, had to admit that he was stunning.

If Remus has hoped for some justice granted him from the universe, he's sorely disappointed. No satisfaction in knowing that he himself has grown into a handsome, easy-going bloke everyone likes (he hasn't), no seeing that the years haven't been nice at all to Black (they really have), no seeing that Black is nowhere near as beautiful as he used to be (he absolutely is).

Remus shakes his head and pushes down his annoyance. Who gives a damn anyway? It's not like he's given Black much thought over the years.

The sounds of chatter emerges from the corridor and keeps getting louder. A group of boisterous women stop outside the open door, saving Remus from having to say anything to Black.

"Ladies, ladies!" A man's voice carries above the crowd, doing little to ease the masses. "I'll gladly sign everyone's copies of my books! There's no need to push, no one has to leave here today without getting what they want from me. Oh no, my dear, I didn't mean it like that! An autograph, a photo of my smile, maybe a hug, now that I can do."

Potter bursts out laughing as he flings himself into the only armchair in the room. "That Lockhart guy is such an idiot. What do they all see in a conceited, smug git like him?"

Oh dear. Remus all but puts his fist into his mouth to stop the obvious replies to that question from spilling out. Like how come Potter hasn't asked the same thing about his own admirers.

As luck would have it, Remus gets distracted by a young woman walking into the office with a dazed look in her eyes. She drags a hand through her short hair and lets a low sigh leave her lips.

"Alice!" Frank gets up from his desk while rolling his eyes and walks up to her. "Not you as well?"

The woman - Alice - laughs, almost covering up her embarrassment. "No, no. Not at all. But he does have a wonderful smile, I can't deny that."

She gives Frank a quick peck on his cheek before clapping her hands together. "Okay, gentlemen!" she says, addressing Potter and Black. "We're moving on to today's agenda, which of course is the threats the two of you've been receiving. You need to start taking them seriously. Whoever's sending them doesn't sound like they're fooling around. We'll have a meeting today, here, at sixteen hundred. Got it?"

Without waiting for a reply, she's out of the door in a couple of strides.

Frank smiles and follows the woman with his eyes until she disappears. "My Alice," he says. "She's studying to be a cop, and she is fond of getting into the role."

"You mean she likes bossing us around and having opinions on everything we say or do." Potter shakes his head before giving in to a smile. "She's good at what she does. But we won't let some random stranger who channels their hate in our direction, decide how we do this. It's our bloody show, and there is such a thing as freedom of speech in this country."

Black says nothing. He's been uncharacteristically silent since entering the room. Maybe the talk about these threats is freaking him out, yet something is wrong with that picture. Black may be full of flaws, and Remus has witnessed quite a few. But lack of courage has never been among them.

"Be that as it may," says Frank, walking towards the door. "We'll all have our say this afternoon. Right now we have a tour to finish. Remus?"

Remus follows, most aware of Black's eyes on him every step of the way. What is he up to this time?

"So," Remus says once he's caught up with Frank, not at all curious about Black. "What's with these threats you talked about?"

"James and Sirius have an agenda with their show. Yes, it's about having fun and giving people two enjoyable hours before lunch in their company, certainly. But it's also about addressing some controversial issues. It's about tolerance. Not everyone is happy with that approach to the world."

Remus stares at Frank. Blinks a couple of times. "I've seen Black and Potter and their idea of tolerance back in school, thank you very much. I wasn't impressed. Neither was Severus."

"Ah," says Frank, "that's right. You used to hang out with that Snape guy, didn't you? Well. There are two sides to any story. And arrogance can be outgrown."

Frank still has got the same friendly look on his face as he did back in school. He's dressed in an elegant shirt and trousers more than likely chosen by Alice, and his eyes are open and honest enough for Remus to almost believe him.

"Anyway." Frank continues down the corridor at a leisurely pace, he's the kind of guy Remus has a hard time imagining ever being in a hurry. "Someone wants to give James and Sirius a scare. Or they want to hurt them. Alice seems to think the latter is possible, and I tend to agree. They've received letters and phone calls and all sorts of stuff online. Well, unfortunately there are people posting anonymous hate messages from time to time, but now it seems like someone is targeting James and Sirius specifically, always signing with 'Fighting For Purity'".

He throws a look over his shoulder. No one else is in the corridor, and he continues. "Which leads us to your job here, Remus."

Remus clears his throat and wonders why there's a sense of impending doom sneaking up on him. "What does my job doing research for the shows have to do with this?"

"Oh, you'll be doing research. And I have no doubt it'll be excellent work. Just think of this as additional research on... safety."

"Think of what as researching safety?"

Frank waves his hand around, which really doesn't do much to clarify. "I'd appreciate it if you'd help us all keep an eye on James and Sirius. For the time being, just until this mess has blown over, of course."

Laughter that sounds fake even to Remus' own ears, fills the silence. But Frank doesn't join in with a "sorry, bad joke". The look on his face is earnest and serious, and Remus desperately needs a cups of tea.

"You want me to be their bodyguard?"

"No, no! Nothing as dramatic as that. I'd just feel better if someone I trust, someone smart and someone who doesn't stand out as... well, your typical bodyguard kind of bloke, will keep an eye on them. I worry that they don't take this whole mess seriously, and they do have a history of acting as if they're invincible. I don't want you to be doing police work or anything like that. Just hang out with them a little bit and add some reason and sense of cautiousness to their lives."

Frank takes a deep breath and meets Remus' eyes. "I know it's a lot to ask. Consider it a testament of how much I trust you that I'm asking anyway."

Oh, bugger. Does Frank know that he's chosen the exact words to make certain Remus can't say no? Remus sighs. There's no way he would've refused doing the job Frank needs him to anyway. He owes Frank, he really does. He can only hope that whoever's behind these threats will be caught sooner rather than later.

*** ***

And this is how Remus one hour later finds himself in the cafeteria, baby-sitting two grown men who've always been more than accomplished at dipping their toes into trouble - and equally accomplished at coming out of it just fine, as far as Remus can tell.

Potter and Black give him a smile when he sits down at their table. Potter's been trying to include him in the conversation, but apparently he's given up now. The two old friends are back to chatting, laughing and making jokes Remus grudgingly has admit are quite funny. To himself. Never out loud, goodness, no way.

They don't seem to be surprised that he's there. "What are you going to tell them?" he'd asked Frank. "I've talked to them already," Frank said, "don't worry about it. Having you around, hanging around at their flat - it's all an adventure to them. And I think that your presence is just what they need. Maybe get Potter to think twice about saying exactly what he thinks in any given situation. Maybe get Black to realise that of course he's got every right to walk home alone from the night club, singing and stumbling in his leather pants and high heels, but that for his own safety, it might be a good idea to tone it down just a little these days."

Remus takes a sip of his water and sighs. He's got a feeling he's been doing that an awful lot today. At least he's got a job to sigh about. Even if parts of it is trying to constrain two men who've never seemed to give a damn about anyone's opinions but their own.

"What have you been up to since school, then, Remus?"

Black's voice pulls Remus out of his thoughts and he looks up. A pair of silvery eyes meet his, eyes that seem to hide a thousand questions, but might as well be blindfolded for all they reveal. For some reason, Remus finds that he needs to clear his throat before replying.

"Nothing much. Nothing that either of you would be interested in, certainly."

"Of course we're interested!" Potter is joining in, all but bouncing up and down on his chair in his eagerness. "Why wouldn't we be?"

"Well." Finding an answer that doesn't make him look like a grumpy, bitter old man (even more so than he actually is), proves surprisingly difficult. "I just haven't... been doing anything exciting, I suppose."

"And you think we're only interested in terribly exciting stuff?" It's Black again, and as his eyes rest on Remus', there's a shadow of something flying across his face. "You don't really see us, do you, Remus?"

Black starts gathering the used plates and cups, placing them in a neat pile. Remus wouldn't have expected Black to do such a thing; it's nothing, really, but still.

"Of course I see you," he says, misunderstanding on purpose as uncertainty leads to annoyance. "You're sitting here, right in front of me."

It won't be long now, before it's there. The infamous Black sneer that used to drive Severus furious.

But it doesn't come.

"You don't," Black says again. "It's like you're afraid of us, or don't like us at all. It's always been like that."

There's an expression on his face remarkably like... sadness? It's gone again as quickly as it came, and Remus drags a hand through his hair. He's been on this job for less than half a day, and already it's messing with his head.

This is going to be a long winter.

*** ***

Part two

Oh, fascinating! Many intriguing things here: where the threats are coming from, and whether James and Sirius are going to get themselves into some kind of trouble, and what kind of history Remus has with these two, and why he owes Frank so much...this definitely has me wanting to read more.

This Muggle version of the world is fun, too -- and a wonderful cameo from a supremely annoying Lockhart, hee.
Haha, Lockhart is such an entertaining character in all his horridness ;)

I'm glad you find this fascinating - I meant to post the rest of the story tonight, but I'll definitely do it once I get more than a few minutes online (which I usually don't during the weekends, lol :)).