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08 May 2008 @ 11:51 pm
Harry Potter: "Like Any Other Night" by rose71  
Title: Like Any Other Night
Author: rose71
Fandom: Harry Potter
Pairing/characters: Remus/Sirius, James, Peter
Rating: PG for non-explicit sexual references
Disclaimer: JKR owns these characters. I just write about them for fun.
Prompt: 422. Harry Potter: Remus Lupin. Remus must negotiate the complicated process of coming out as bisexual and dealing with the dual stigma of being both a sexual minority and a werewolf.
Summary: Remus has just come out. So why is everyone still talking about Quidditch?
Author's Notes: Many thanks to my wonderful betas magnetic_pole and liseuse for their helpful suggestions, britpicking, and encouragement. Any mistakes are, of course, mine and not theirs.



For Remus, it was almost like any other night.

Dinner, at least, was perfectly normal: a hearty meal of shepherd’s pie, accompanied by the usual (if somewhat annoying) sound of bleating lambs and barking sheepdogs, the usual conversation about Quidditch at the Gryffindor table, and the usual murmur of someone (this time, Marlene McKinnon) protesting, “Those poor lambs! That’s it, I’m going to be a vegetarian.” As usual, Remus politely feigned interest in quaffles and bludgers, while secretly thinking about his latest plan to trek the mangrove forests of India in search of magical creatures.

After dinner, there was the usual top-secret meeting about new ways to wreak mayhem on the Slytherin dorm, followed by a perfectly routine hour of revising, in which the only sound to be heard was the scratching of quills and Sirius’s occasional dog-like growl of impatience over Transfiguration questions that he considered beneath his talents. Nothing could have been more ordinary than the study break—or, more accurately, outbreak—that came next, which inevitably featured several mock-duels and some not very tactful discussion of James’s hopeless adoration for Lily Evans.

When the teasing and mock-dueling turned into a real fight between James and Sirius, that too was a normal part of their routine, which found all four friends prepared to play their usual roles: outraged surprise from James, righteous anger from Sirius, badly timed jokes from Peter, and attempts at soothing mediation from Remus. Now Remus was consoling a genuinely distraught James and trying to explain Sirius’s point of view, since Sirius himself had stormed off as usual, presumably waiting for James to track him down and apologize.

It was all perfectly normal—so normal, that Remus could scarcely believe he had just told his friends how he felt about boys.

Of course, he had to admit, he had not actually told them himself. Sirius had been more than happy to do the job for him, and Remus had been surprised by the relief that he felt. Not only was he spared the ordeal of revealing yet another dangerous secret to his friends, but his own big moment had been overshadowed by Sirius’s much more dramatic confession and the ensuing fight with James. The other three friends (minus Sirius) now sat amidst the ruin of their dorm room, ignoring the liquid gurgling out of overturned butterbeer bottles and smashed inkwells.

“I still can’t believe it!” James was saying again. “Padfoot was joking, right?”

“I think he means it, Prongs,” Remus replied gently. He tactfully refrained from mentioning any of the personal experiences which made him fairly sure that Sirius did, indeed, like boys. Remus had spent some very enjoyable hours in the process of proving it, but he felt that it was too soon to point this out. Better, he thought, to let the whole idea of his relationship with Sirius remain vague and abstract until James and Peter had got used to it.

James looked grim. “It’s serious business, mate.”

“Look, I know it seems strange right now, but it’s not really an enormous change,” Remus pointed out. “For either of us, I mean, but especially for Sirius. Merlin knows, you’ve teased him often enough about his lack of interest in girls.”

“What do you mean, girls?” James’s tone conveyed his easy dismissal of all females other than Lily Evans. “I can’t believe he said that he doesn’t like Quidditch!”

“So—so,” Remus sputtered, suddenly realizing that his own big news had gone entirely over James’s head, “so, what he said about him and me—“

“Oh, that!” The tone of dismissal became slightly less easy, but only slightly. “Of course Padfoot isn’t bent, that’s obvious, it’s just a joke or, or a phase. You know how he always has to be the rebel. But Quidditch! Padfoot is the best Beater in the school—if we lose him, then our whole House team strategy will be shot to hell.”

Remus paused. He himself had been surprised when Sirius, who was usually interested in whatever interested James, had suddenly renounced Quidditch earlier that evening. He could, of course, understand why Sirius had snapped at James, “I don’t like girls, I like boys, and I’m happy with Moony, so stop trying to fix me up with Lily’s friends!” But why had Sirius followed up this first announcement by shouting, “And I don’t like Quidditch either!”? It had actually been this second confession that sparked off the fight with James, though Remus suspected that his two friends might simply have been more comfortable battling over Quidditch than over Sirius’s sexual identity.

While Remus was pondering the mysteries of Sirius, Peter unexpectedly spoke up. “You know, it is sort of funny that Padfoot says he’s gay, but Moony says he’s bisexual.”

Ah, thought Remus, at least someone was listening. “Great, Pete, always glad to amuse.”

“No, you know what it reminds me of?” Peter asked.

“What?” asked James, grudgingly distracted from the fate of the Gryffindor Quidditch team.

“David Bowie and Elton John.”

Remus had an awful suspicion that, in this comparison, he wouldn’t get to be Bowie—a suspicion that was confirmed when Peter went on, “Like how Bowie said he was gay, but it was just a publicity stunt, and since then he’s had all these women. And Elton says he’s bisexual, but everyone knows he’s gay.”

As usual, no one laughed at Peter’s joke, but he did succeed in derailing the conversation. Remus felt vaguely offended. Why didn’t Peter believe that he liked girls as well? And, more horribly, did he really have some hitherto unsuspected resemblance to Elton John? The more he thought about it, the more offended he was. So, following the instincts honed during a lifetime of pretending not to feel offended when people talked about Dark Creatures, he tried to change the subject. “Prongs, do you really think Padfoot is a better Beater than Fenwick or Shacklebolt?"

But James was already asking Peter, “Elton who? Bow-ties? Bicycles? What are you raving about, Wormtail?”
Remus suddenly felt amused after all. He tended to forget that only he and Peter, out of the four of them, had the cultural advantages of halfblood background. Who needed pureblood prestige, when that status came with such a fatal ignorance of Muggle music?

“Erm, Muggle pop stars,” Remus explained patiently. “Known for their shiny costumes, which you will not see me or Sirius wearing no matter how gay we are, because I can’t seem to keep a single shirt without holes in it, and Sirius prefers punk anyway.”

Realizing that James, who did not share Sirius’s newfound fascination with the exotic culture of the Muggles, was about to ask him for an explanation of “punk,” Remus hurried on. “But the point is, about the word ‘bisexual,’ that means that people—that I—really do like men and women. We’re not pretending, either way.” Turning to Peter and giving a smile that somehow felt both real and forced, he added, “Though I can’t speak for Elton John, or even begin to fathom why he’s started wearing a duck costume.”

“It’s OK, though,” said James. “I mean, it’s OK if you’re bent. We’ve always known you’re different—not, I mean, because of the wolf thing … but how you’re daft about that Muggle woman Jane Austen, and you’re so nice that everyone wants to tell you their problems, and you talk to girls about their relationships, and you really don’t like Quidditch.”

Remus bit his lip in chagrin. Clearly, he had not succeeded in either explaining the nuances of sexual identity or faking an enthusiasm for sport, so his truths and his lies were equally inept. Meanwhile, James went on in a less compassionate tone, “Unlike Sirius, who has all the sensitivity of a Hungarian Horntail, and can’t talk to girls without putting things in their hair, and who has to stay on the Quidditch team because otherwise we’ll lose to Slytherin next week. Can’t you talk sense into him, Moony?”

Remus sighed inwardly. Apparently, no matter what anyone said or did, James would always talk about Quidditch, Sirius would always be the center of attention, Peter would always make tactless jokes, and Remus would always be the one who was “different” and existed only to solve other people’s problems. But no, he told himself, that was unfair. It was, he thought, wrong to be angry—these were his friends, who had learned to become Animagi for him, seen him when he was bleeding from the full moon, protected his secret, and accepted him when no one else would. And hadn’t he just been hoping that everything would stay normal and that no one would mind that he liked boys? He had got his wish.

“Let’s get the Map and find Sirius,” he said.


****

Finding Sirius was the easy part. He had rushed out of the room without taking the Map—a necessary precaution for any Marauder who really wanted to hide from the others—and the neatly inked banner showed that he was pacing around the Astronomy Tower. Even without the Map, in fact, his hiding place would have been laughably obvious. It was just like Sirius, Remus thought, to make for the castle’s highest and coldest point, where he could act out noble suffering against a suitable backdrop. Clearly, he wanted to be found.

Actually getting to Sirius, however, was harder. As Remus, James and Peter climbed the stairs to the tower, they kept stepping on scraps of paper which Sirius had charmed to shoot upwards, biting and snapping. The first line of defense, a handful of Chocolate Frog wrappers, scarcely drew blood, but unfortunately Sirius’s pockets had also contained a surprising variety of larger parchments and books. Remus considered it unfair to be attacked by his own History of Magic notes, which Sirius had borrowed after skiving off that morning. But the most formidable opponent turned out to be Sirius’s paperback of Che Guevara’s Motorcycle Diaries, which (Remus thought) confirmed everything the Americans said about the dangers of Communism. Once he was certain that Peter was not, in fact, gravely injured by the jaws of the paperback, Remus spared a moment to smile affectionately over the odd mix of Sirius’s tastes—magical and Muggle, chocolates and guerilla leaders. Only the good-looking ones, though, Remus thought. With motorbikes.

But James was already ahead of him, pointing his wand at the door. As they soon discovered, Sirius had sealed it with a Colloportus, and counter-spells were useless. Even James and Remus, together, could not unlock the door without doing permanent damage that might land them in detention until Christmas.

Finally, James resorted to a tried-and-true, entirely non-magical strategy: yelling through the door. Faintly, through the thick stone, the verdict came back. “Go away! I only want to talk to Moony.”

For a moment, Remus felt triumphant. Sirius wanted him, not James. He was the only one who was Sirius’s … what? Boyfriend sounded ridiculous, like something out of the 1950s, an old Muggle hit, sung by girls with high necklines and tall hair. But he and Sirius were more than just friends now, and they shared something that James could never understand, and didn’t want to understand.

Then Remus looked again at James’s pale, strained face, and he could feel the expression in the memory of his own muscles. Alone, he thought. He remembered the Shack, and the nights there, before Padfoot, Prongs, and Wormtail came to him. He pushed the thought away… But James, without Sirius, would be alone, no matter how many other people there were, no matter whether Lily said yes.

Remus thought of a dog, a stag, and a rat, and all that they had done for him, together.

“You know what, Prongs?” he said. “I think I know how you can get to him.”

****

In the end, James followed Remus’s advice. Even though Remus was the quiet one, everyone always followed his advice in the end, and they were always glad they did. That night, being an almost completely normal night, was no exception. Just as Remus suggested, James got his broomstick and flew up to the Astronomy Tower. Just as Remus predicted, Sirius appreciated the absurd drama of the gesture. And, just as Remus expected, James and Sirius were caught by Filch and put into detention for being out after hours, with extra time added for reckless night-time flying and magical obstruction of doors on school property.

While cleaning out the Owlery by hand together, James and Sirius made up their differences. At least, Sirius stayed on the Quidditch team, and James stopped trying to pick out girls for his best friend. But they all talked about the relationship between Remus and Sirius as little as possible, and the new Muggle words “gay” and “bisexual” did not catch on at Hogwarts that year, or for a long time afterward.

For better or worse, nothing much changed between the four friends as a result of that first night—the night that Remus later learned to think of as his “coming out.” It would take a war, an underground Order, a Gay Pride parade, a Werewolf Registry, and a year in London to change anything, and even then it was a slow process. No matter what happened, James always did try to change the subject to Quidditch, and Peter always did make jokes that no one laughed at … until, one day, there was no one left to laugh. But that is another story.

This one ends, as it began, with a normal night—a different kind of normal night, when Remus and Sirius come home flushed and sweaty after dancing together at Heaven, among the Muggle boys who know nothing about the war against Voldemort but do know about fighting for a chance to be together. Falling on the sofa in their cramped flat, they turn on the wizarding wireless, and hear a replay of that morning’s match between the Wimbourne Wasps and the Chudley Cannons. Sirius, of course, cheers for the Cannons, as he does for all lost and hopeless causes.

Seeing his rapt expression, Remus asks, “Why did you ever tell James you didn’t like Quidditch?”

“Don’t you know?” Sirius asks. “And here I always thought you knew everything about everybody. I wanted to be like you, not like James, but I didn’t know how to say it.”

“How about ‘gay is good’?” Remus is only half teasing. Sirius’s recent discovery of Gay Liberation Front slogans has been a mixed blessing—good for inspiration, but bad for dinner conversation.

“Yes, well, that phrase wasn’t exactly floating around Hogwarts, was it?” Sirius says. “You idiot. I can’t believe you didn’t see the beauty of my gesture. Even if the House team spirit did win out.” He kisses Remus. “It was for you. Everyone knows you don’t like Quidditch.”
 
 
 
Raven: hp - remus in lightloneraven on May 9th, 2008 05:04 pm (UTC)
This has just reduced me into goo. Oh, how lovely. And I love how utterly in-character Remus seems, even when he's worrying about Elton John and the dangers of communism. So much love for this.
roserose71 on May 10th, 2008 06:28 pm (UTC)
Oh, I'm so glad Remus seems in-character to you, especially because your "Love in Fire and in Blood" is one of my favorite MWPP+Lily fics of all time. I remember that it reduced me into goo, too!

I do think it's fun to imagine Remus mediating between magical and Muggle culture, as he always mediates between people.

Thanks so much for reading!
melancholy in the rain: skins chest kissliseuse on May 9th, 2008 05:18 pm (UTC)
Well, you know I love this. But I thought I should say it here as well!

I just have no words for how well I think you caught the sheer boy-ness of them, the way they know each other so well and have these conversations that rely on prior knowledge and instinct. Remus and his wonderings, and the hilarity of trying to explain Muggle culture, even when you don't come out of it well.
roserose71 on May 10th, 2008 06:32 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! Your beta was so helpful, and I'm chuffed (is that correct Britspeak?) that the fic worked for you. Imagining boy-ness is a fun challenge for me, since I've never exactly communicated through sports and fighting, myself. And I'm glad you liked the Remus-explaining bit! I like to think of him a future teacher, even when he's at the moment of maximum teenaged embarrassment.

Learning to write fic! Whee!
(no subject) - liseuse on May 10th, 2008 09:17 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - rose71 on May 11th, 2008 04:30 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - liseuse on May 11th, 2008 07:03 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - rose71 on May 12th, 2008 03:32 am (UTC) (Expand)
Maggiemagnetic_pole on May 9th, 2008 08:32 pm (UTC)
This is charming! I simply love what you've done with the Quidditch plot line--I had no idea that's where it was headed, and I take my hat off to you--it's brilliant. As Liseuse says above, the Muggle humor is wonderful, and the group dynamics come across well. I'm looking forward to more from this universe! Well done! M.
roserose71 on May 10th, 2008 06:42 pm (UTC)
Yay! Thanks so much for your lovely feedback. I'm glad the Quidditch plot worked for you. When I sent you that first bit, I did have an idea of what Sirius was really thinking about Quidditch & Remus & James. But it took me a while to fit the resolution into this short fic, instead of the imaginary long fic that I may write some day.

I cannot even say how helpful your tips were--getting me to turn my abstract ideas and long sentences into actual dialogues and scenes. The transition from academic writing to fic was scary at first, but then really fun!

secret welfare poetsecondsilk on May 11th, 2008 11:18 am (UTC)
Fic: Like Any Other Night
Sirius is a doof.
I love Remus's scheme for getting him and James talking again.
And Peter's jokes! Yay.
Lovely tone to the narration, too, and to the epilogue like description of the last scenes.
roserose71 on May 12th, 2008 03:36 am (UTC)
Re: Fic: Like Any Other Night
Glad you liked Remus's scheme! I do see him, both in canon and in my favorite fics, as being really good at manipulating people--usually for kind and helpful reasons, of course.

Originally, I planned a ridiculously long fic, but then I had to face reality and just do the later scenes as an epilogue. So it's great to hear that the epilogue worked for you!

Thanks so much for reading!
semi-titledpocochina on May 12th, 2008 07:03 am (UTC)
oh...boys....meeep. Beautifully done.
roserose71 on May 12th, 2008 11:01 pm (UTC)
Thanks for your lovely feedback! I've enjoyed your comments on hp_grad, and I want to check out your LJ as soon as this semester stops killing me.
(Deleted comment)
roserose71 on May 12th, 2008 11:02 pm (UTC)
Thank you! :)
peeps wanna see peeps boink: rsmusesfool on May 14th, 2008 09:29 pm (UTC)
Oh, this is adorable. And I love Sirius's reasoning about why he renounced Quidditch (even if it was only for one night).
roserose71 on May 16th, 2008 02:17 am (UTC)
Thank you! Sirius is not exactly the world's most logical thinker, which makes it all the more fun to imagine how his mind would work. And I really wanted to make Quidditch as central to my fic as it is in PoA (even though I personally share Remus's lack of enthusiasm).

I'm fairly new to HP fandom (yes, years behind everyone else!), and your own fics and rec list helped get me hooked on R/S... so thanks for that too!
PaulaMcGpaulamcg on May 16th, 2008 06:25 pm (UTC)
(Here through rs_prophet and sirius_news. I haven’t followed the fest, even though I’m interested in principle. Due to lack of time I now limit my fanfic reading to stories about my favourite HP character in Sirius-loving interpretations.)

How exceptionally wonderful! I almost didn’t give a chance to this story. It’s not easy to find something refreshing in MWPP-era R/S fic any longer, and I managed to miss the fact that this was written for the lgbtfest, so I couldn’t expect anything deeper than the typical schoolboy slash. And I really don’t like Quidditch! The way you phrased your summary made it irresistible in any case. But the distancing tone in the narration actually made me stop – to (fortunately) return (after seeing the link in another newsletter), first skipping a few paragraphs. The vivid scenes with dialogue caught my interest, and in the end I was surprised to find it only fascinating how each section started as being told in such a manner which did not make me reach the illusion of sharing the immediate experience with Remus. Both the contents and the style have given me something new to think about. Thank you!
roserose71 on May 17th, 2008 01:43 am (UTC)
Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments! It's really helpful for me to hear how you got here, what initially put you off, and what you finally liked about the fic. Of course, I'm so glad you gave it a chance. If you do have any free time, the other HP fics on lgbtfest are worth checking out.

Your comments really resonate with me, because I'm fairly tired of Marauders slash myself, and I've been struggling with the question of how to write anything fresh in MWPP-era R/S fic. So, in my mind at least, my story ended up being meta as much as fic, focusing on the whole issue of familiarity: why do we see the characters as stuck in certain roles, and are we taking our identification with Remus too much for granted? That's one of the reasons why I tried the distancing narration--that, and the fact that I'm completely immersed in 19th-century novels, so I wanted to do a sort of JKR-meets-Jane Austen approach. But I remember loving your rs_small_gifts fic, which was first-person, right? I'd like to check out more of your Remus fics, as soon as I have some reading time.

And, needless to say, I really don't like Quidditch either!


(no subject) - paulamcg on May 17th, 2008 03:57 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - rose71 on May 17th, 2008 07:46 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - paulamcg on May 24th, 2008 11:08 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - rose71 on May 28th, 2008 02:26 am (UTC) (Expand)
Andrea: vg - dandy!brianneverreal on May 17th, 2008 05:05 am (UTC)
I don't have anything constructive to say but I really liked this. =]
roserose71 on May 17th, 2008 04:23 pm (UTC)
Enjoyment is good too! :) Thanks for reading and for your lovely comment.
penknife: siriuspenknife on May 17th, 2008 08:29 pm (UTC)
Aww! This is just charming.

And, more horribly, did he really have some hitherto unsuspected resemblance to Elton John?

A fate worse than death. :-)

“It was for you. Everyone knows you don’t like Quidditch.”

That's Sirius for you; sweet, in a somewhat inexplicable kind of way.
roserose71 on May 17th, 2008 10:10 pm (UTC)
A fate worse than death.
Yes, I like to think that, even when Remus is facing homophobia and anti-werewolf prejudice, he's still worried about real problems. ;-)

That's Sirius for you; sweet, in a somewhat inexplicable kind of way
Absolutely! One of the things that makes Sirius so much fun to write.

Thanks for reading and commenting! Thanks also for organizing this wonderful fest--and for posting all your own brilliant HP fics (which completely inspired me a few months ago, when I was new to LJ and too shy to comment yet).
Marauder's Madmarauder_s_mad on May 18th, 2008 01:21 pm (UTC)
So nice and moving ! I loved it.
roserose71 on May 22nd, 2008 05:30 am (UTC)
Thanks so much for reading and commenting! I'm glad the story worked for you.
elsaneelsane on May 18th, 2008 07:17 pm (UTC)
I really liked this! Beautifully characterized and thoughtful. Love the perfect bits of contemporary culture. Elton John and Che Guevara, Communists and gay liberation slogans, yes. (:
roserose71 on May 22nd, 2008 05:44 am (UTC)
Thanks! I'm so glad the contemporary culture worked for you. It's hard to resist '70's references (especially when it comes to Communist!Sirius), but at the same time I didn't want to make them all into hipsters rather than wizards!

I'm fairly new to fandom, so I don't know if it's a faux pas to praise your work in my own comments... But I really enjoyed "O Tannenbaum" and your crack_broom recs, so I'm excited that you read my first HP fic.
(no subject) - elsane on May 24th, 2008 01:31 am (UTC) (Expand)
Not your everyday Viking angel: Wolfshadowvalkyrie on May 25th, 2008 07:21 pm (UTC)
I can't believe I missed this so long! It's adorable and incredibly funny and... *cuddles all the boys*

Remus felt vaguely offended. Why didn’t Peter believe that he liked girls as well? And, more horribly, did he really have some hitherto unsuspected resemblance to Elton John? The more he thought about it, the more offended he was. So, following the instincts honed during a lifetime of pretending not to feel offended when people talked about Dark Creatures, he tried to change the subject.

"X-D

Remus sighed inwardly. Apparently, no matter what anyone said or did, James would always talk about Quidditch, Sirius would always be the center of attention, Peter would always make tactless jokes, and Remus would always be the one who was “different” and existed only to solve other people’s problems. But no, he told himself, that was unfair. It was, he thought, wrong to be angry—these were his friends, who had learned to become Animagi for him, seen him when he was bleeding from the full moon, protected his secret, and accepted him when no one else would. And hadn’t he just been hoping that everything would stay normal and that no one would mind that he liked boys? He had got his wish.

Nothing fundamentally changing is the point of a "successful" coming out, isn't it? It was pretty much the same with my friends, so I'm doubly amused and sympathising with Remus here.

And I do like communist!Sirius, too!
roserose71 on May 26th, 2008 04:13 am (UTC)
Thanks for your lovely feedback! I think you were away on some RL adventures when I originally posted this, so now I'm happy that I just put the link in my journal.

I'm really glad that the silly Elton John references and the coming-out story both worked for you.

Nothing fundamentally changing is the point of a "successful" coming out, isn't it? It was pretty much the same with my friends, so I'm doubly amused and sympathising with Remus here.
Wonderful! I'm so glad that this rang true for you, and spoke to your experience. I find Remus's situation sort of bittersweet--on the one hand, he's successful in keeping an unchanged bond with his friends, but on the other hand, he still has to be a supporting player in the ongoing drama of James and Sirius. Though in my version of HP, Remus is always the main character, of course. :)

Becca: pic#70797192rev02a on May 25th, 2008 09:07 pm (UTC)
I love that Sirius is reading about Communism... cracked me up. Love this!
roserose71 on May 28th, 2008 02:07 am (UTC)
Thanks so much! I can't really take credit for the idea of Sirius + Communism (I've enjoyed it in some other fics), but I do like to use Sirius and Che for my own nefarious purposes.
protegonoxprotegonox on May 25th, 2008 09:34 pm (UTC)
Ah, this was wonderful! I loved how Remus is always worrying about something or other, and the little bits about Elton John and David Bowie were really fun facts to learn.

I also love the way you portrayed all four Marauders. They're a lot like I imagine they'd be. :)
roserose71 on May 28th, 2008 02:13 am (UTC)
Great--I'm really glad all four Marauders seemed in character to you. It was fun for me to think about how all their personalities (including worrying!Remus) would emerge in a new situation like Remus's coming out. And I'm glad to hear that my historical "research" into the 1970's (aka reading the tell-all memoir by Bowie's ex-wife) paid off. :-)

Thanks for reading and commenting!