Chapter 1 : Prologue + Chapter One: Remus Lupin Pt. 1
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This story will be this Prologue + six chapters, one from each Remus, Peter, James, Severus, Lily. All chapters cover the same time period: Christmas day, 1977. I have to break up the chapters into two parts, because they're too long to be posted as one (apparently the limit is 95,000 characters and also apparently I write a really long chapters now...). I also had to put the prologue in with chapter one, part one because it was too short to be on it's own - basically this story is formatted horribly for this site but oh well, let's make it work.
Enjoy! Tell me what you think!
(P.S. If anyone feels like making a banner for this, hit me up in the reviews and I’ll give you some super secret story info to make that happen.)
Also sorry that title sucks, I literally couldn't think of anything else to call it.
On Christmas Eve of 1977, there was a snowstorm of epic proportions in the Highlands of Scotland. At Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where nearly four feet of snow covered the castle and grounds, six teenagers awoke at approximately the same time and spent the first few waking minutes of their last Christmas at school staring at what the blizzard left in its wake.
That morning, for just a few minutes, the fear and anxiousness that had burrowed into their minds was cast out. Similar thoughts crossed all six minds at precisely the same moments; but they were not thoughts of missing loved ones, terrorized muggles, or the latest Wizarding War news at all. For those precious moments, six teenagers who would each change the course of the war in dramatic ways thought of nothing more than the beauty and peace that had wrapped itself so wholly around their school.
Yes, the thick blanket of snow drew these students to start their day in the same way, but the next twenty-four hours marking their last Christmas at Hogwarts played out very differently starting the moment they looked away from the snow.
One would make a move that four of them had seen coming for ages.
One would unknowingly begin the downfall of the other five.
One would have the best day of his life thus far.
One would doubt his loyalties for the first time.
And two of them who had recently called off a relationship would be brought together again, if only for a few hours.
… But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
At 9:07 am on Christmas morning, 1977, six teenagers in varying states of dishevel and undress looked towards the frozen, snow-covered lake and unknowingly thought identical thoughts.
"Wow," breathed Lily and Peter from opposite sides of Gryffindor tower.
"Yeah," answered Sirius and James from the same room, different windows.
Everything's so peaceful, thought Remus and Severus as they shivered on towers on each end of the castle.
And in the seconds that followed, they all thought that they were in for a perfectly ordinary Christmas, and each was soon proven very, very wrong.
Chapter One: Remus Lupin, Pt. 1
The snow really was beautiful, Remus had to admit that much as he dragged himself to his feet. The grounds spoke in whispering movements beneath him: the Whomping Willow half-heartedly attempting to shake snow off it’s branches, smoke rising lazily from Hagrid’s Hut, an owl gracefully swooping out of the sky towards the Owlery on the west side of the castle.
Briefly swept up in the beauty and innocence of a fresh snow, Remus stared out at the grounds without really thinking of much else. Everything is so peaceful, he mused idly before feeling his chest constrict as a new train of thought arrived.
He loved the snow; said the sky matched his eyes at the ice matched his soul, the self-deprecating bastard.
Remus made a noise he wasn’t entirely comfortable naming and looked away from the grounds, his eyes falling onto the large jar of blue flames and James’ invisibility cloak at his feet. Remus shivered, despite his other four layers, despite the fact that he had melted the snow on top of the astronomy tower in the early hours of the morning when he arrived there, and picked up the jar of flames first, fitting it snugly in the crook of his arm.
He instantly felt warmer.
He threw James’ cloak around his shoulders one-handed, checked to make sure that the Map was still in his sweatpants pocket, and took a deep breath to steady himself. Back to the dormitory, then.
He was halfway back before he remembered it was Christmas. He was two-thirds of the way back when he realized that he didn’t particularly care. Since he was eleven, he’d spent all of his Christmases at Hogwarts. While he started staying for the holidays to escape his mother’s pitiful looks and his father’s guilt, it soon became a Marauder tradition for all of them to stay over break. Some of his favorite memories happened over Christmas holidays: him, James, Peter, and Sirius running full tilt into pranks, exploring, and usually a couple of detentions.
The past two Christmases had been more subdued, though. With war looming and Remus a Prefect (for all the good that did…), the Marauders had settled into easy, if not still somewhat mischievous, holidays of lounging around, Mapping, eating entirely too much food, and bitching about whoever’s family or love life was the shittiest (usually Sirius’ and James’, respectively).
It wasn’t until he was climbing the stairs to his dormitory and hoping that maybe everyone was still asleep that he remembered the part of their Christmas tradition that hadn’t been altered since that first Christmas in first year: the Marauders waited until everyone was awake to open presents, and then opened Marauder presents first. Hogwarts Christmas, Hogwarts family first, eleven-year-old James had told him and Peter seriously, before bringing the pillow he held over his head down hard on Sirius’ sleeping face in a rude awakening.
Steeling himself, Remus pushed open the door to the seventh year boys’ dormitory and (of course) found everyone awake.
Conversations died and every head turned to look at him. Frank and Garrett, two of the six seventh year Gryffindor boys, nodded Remus hello before going back to opening their presents and comparing amongst themselves.
With the Marauders, however, he wasn’t so lucky. “Another early morning walk?” James asked, brows furrowed. “You okay, mate?”
Out of the corner of his vision, Remus saw Sirius shift uncomfortably in the bed next to James’. Just as he opened his mouth to answer, something else on Sirius’ bed caught his eye, he turned his head to have a proper look. Wrapping paper littered Sirius’ bed and the floor around it, and his new gifts, shiny and unwrapped, sat on the pillow behind him.
Sirius stared at his bed, refusing to look up. Remus looked over to Peter, who was leaning against the window sill, and then back at James who stood shirtless a few steps from the loo door, his face a portrait of concern.
The silence lasted only three seconds, but it felt like hours passed before Remus pulled his face into a cheeky grin (with a great effort), and used his wand to shoot a wrapping paper ball from the floor lazily at Sirius, “Well I would’ve stuck around if I’d knew you lot would start without me.”
James’ expression didn’t change, but Peter chuckled, “Padfoot’s apparently a five year old boy when it comes to Christmas presents - no patience.”
“Can’t even keep up a tradition for a lousy seven years,” James muttered, finally relaxing his face and rolling his eyes.
“Traditions are just rules wrapped in pretty colors,” Sirius shot back, magicking the wrapping paper ball Remus had shot at him towards James, who snatched it out of the air reflexively. “They deserve to be broken now and again.”
“Whatever,” James fell onto his bed and pulled three presents towards him from the pile at the end of his four poster. “I’m still going to open in order.” He looked to the other two and tilted his head.
Peter shrugged and walked over to his pile; Remus did the same. He threw James’ cloak and his other outer layers on his own bed before choosing the three gifts from each of the other Marauders from the pile at the end of it. He sat on Peter’s bed with the other boy, now each in sweatpants and an undershirt.
He glanced over at Sirius, whose bed was across from Remus’, and noticed that he had opened nearly all of his gifts excepting the green envelope Remus had given him. As Remus watched, Sirius picked it up and looked up at him. They made eye contact for one of the first times since the night term ended; Remus felt like he’d been punched in the chest.
Oblivious to this, Peter held up a gift, and looked at James, “Sirius’ gifts first then, the git.”
“Sure,” Remus shrugged as Sirius lazily shot Peter a rude hand gesture.
Remus Lupin was good at hiding things, and never had this skill been so tested as when he had to act nonchalant towards Sirius as his heart threatened to beat a hole through his shirt. Impossibly, keeping their secret from James and Peter was harder now that they’d broken up than it had ever been when they were whatever-they-were.
He heard wrapping paper tearing from beside him. Shaking those thoughts from his head, Remus pulled a larger, terribly wrapped gift into his lap. The wrapping paper had dancing House Elves with Christmas hats on it. Remus cracked a smile. He ripped open the gift in one go and spent the next few seconds reminding himself to breathe.
It was a beautiful brown leather case with gold embossed letters reading: Professor R. J. Lupin.
The memory swallowed him.
They walked in muggle London where it was safe.
Not safe in any real way, for the war was most prominent there, but it was safe for two wizards to walk aimlessly without being recognized. It was safe for them to walk so close together that their shoulders bumped together more often than they didn’t, and a subtle brush of one’s hand on the other’s would go unnoticed.
It was the end of August 1977 and so many things were new to Remus- the intensity of the war that surrounded them, the seemingly permanent smell of alcohol on his mother’s breath, and the feeling, not unlike the feeling of goosebumps but more pleasant than that, that raced through his arms and spread through his entire body every time Sirius stealthily ran the tips of his fingers along Remus’ palm.
The many passers-by on the busy sidewalk hardly paid them any attention, which was probably for the best - Remus couldn’t keep the stupid grin off his face. To his continued astonishment and delight, Sirius also seemed unable to hide his smile. Remus didn’t know what had made Sirius do it, but since Sirius had kissed him over a month ago, Remus had felt like he was living in a dream. Or perhaps in someone else’s life entirely. How was this really, truly happening to him?
“Oh, look!” Sirius exclaimed suddenly, shoving through two paunchy businessmen and pointing at the window of a shop down the block a bit.
Remus’ eyes followed, and he laughed. “What on earth do you need a leather case of that size for, Sirius? All those essays you write the morning they’re due? Or your dungbomb collection, perhaps?”
“Stuff it,” Sirius rolled his eyes, saddling up to the window of the shop. “It’s not for me, it’s for you!”
Remus cocked an eyebrow curiously as Sirius turned to face him.
“You’ll need a briefcase thing if you want to be a professor! Isn’t that what all the fancy professors have? Leather briefcases and tweed jackets?”
“I hope you know I’m picturing McGonagall in a tweed jacket right now,” Remus told him, amused.
“I’m serious, you told me the other night that you’d like to teach and how else are you going to haul around all those essays you need to mark up if you don’t have a case?”
“Firstly, you know we’re wizards, right?” Remus said quietly, glancing around at the muggles. “Second, it was the only thing I could come up with at the time. I can’t really be a Hogwarts teacher.” It hurt him a little to point this out.
“And why not?” Sirius demanded. A group of women glanced at them curiously as they walked around them.
“Many reasons,” Remus winced. “But primarily, my furry little problem. Who will hire me if -”
“Dumbledore will, he doesn’t give a shit,” Sirius shrugged.
Remus opened his mouth to protest again, but Sirius stopped him by grabbing his left hand in his right hand. Remus immediately lost the air he needed to speak. Suddenly Remus would have sworn they were the only two people on the sidewalk.
“Remus,” Sirius said, looking right into his eyes, his heart. “You’d be the best teacher anyone at Hogwarts has ever seen. Don’t deprive the world of Professor R. J. Lupin just because you have some misguided idea that you’re a monster.”
Remus swallowed hard. “Sirius,” he started. But he couldn’t find the words. His throat was tight with emotions he couldn’t quite name.
Sirius, understanding, nodded, and then dropped Remus’ hand to rub the back of his neck. “Fine,” he said, his easy grin back in place as he turned to look into the shop at the case again, dropping his hand to his side. “No briefcase for now, but I’m not going to give up on this,” he looked back at Remus, his grey eyes sincere, “and I won’t let you give up on it either.” Remus knew he wasn't talking about the case anymore.
Remus nodded and Sirius fell back to stand beside him as they started walking. A few moments passed in silence and then Remus snorted and bumped into Sirius playfully, looking up at the slightly taller boy, “Professor R. J. Lupin?”
Sirius smiled at him and shrugged, “Sounds more professional that way, I think.”
Remus laughed, “Whatever you say.” Sirius smirked and grabbed his hand once again and they walked a whole block hand-in-hand through the crowd of muggle Londoners before letting go.
When he again found himself in the present day, Remus blinked hard, and heard James and Peter bickering over whose gifts to open next. He quickly shoved Sirius’ present under his bed before sitting back on Peter’s as James said, “Let’s just do Moony’s now since he’s lost in his head.”
Remus looked at James and made some sort of a half-nod, half-shrug gesture. He resolutely avoided looking at Sirius.
The rest of the present-opening was uneventful, and when all four of them had finished opening gifts and thanking each other, Sirius stood from his four poster and stretched. Remus busied himself vanishing all of the wrapping paper. Frank and Garrett, who had finished opening presents around the same time the Marauders did, headed out in search of food.
“Well, good haul this year, considering,” Sirius sighed. “I’m going to take a shower, gotta look my best for Christmas dinner and all.”
Peter grumbled something in agreement and stood up to follow Sirius. Remus glanced at Sirius and saw him quickly slide the unopened green envelope into his pajama pocket.
“Thank Merlin, you smell like old socks,” James muttered as Sirius started toward the door, earning himself a face full of Sirius’ shirt for his cheek. James shot up, gagging on the fabric, “For fuck’s sake Padfoot, what do you have against letting the damned House Elves wash your clothes once a century?” Sirius, saluting sarcastically, didn’t answer as he closed the door to the showers behind him.
James tossed Sirius’ shirt to the floor near his bed and looked purposefully at Remus. Remus raised his eyebrows, nervous about what James wanted. He knew James was more perceptive than he had let on about the tension in the group lately, but there was no way he could know the real reason. And Remus sure as hell wasn’t about to tell him.
He was just cementing a good lie in his head when James turned his head back toward the loo to check that they were alone and then reached under his pillow, pulling out a small, neatly gift-wrapped present.
“I didn’t want to open this in front of Sirius,” he explained guiltily. “He’s been in shit mood lately, I’m sure you’ve noticed.” James shares a commiserating look with Remus, making the latter’s stomach fill with lead. Remus tried to look somewhat annoyed in solidarity with James, and nodded in ‘agreement.’ James continued, “He’s been particularly weird about -” he paused, redirected. “This is from Lily.” He held up the gift in his hand.
Oh, yes, James, Sirius has been particularly unwilling to hear you endlessly opine about Lily because I ripped his heart out seven days ago. Mine, too, come to think of it. Stomped on them both really thoroughly. Good times.
Remus checked his internal monologue and walked over to sit by James. “How’s that going?”
James shrugged. “We work together well,” he says noncommittally. Remus shot him a look and James laughed, “Fine, fine, it’s going well, I think. We’ve been, er, spending a lot of time together.” He ran the hand not holding the present through his hair.
“It’s probably something stupid,” James muttered and Remus finally realizes why James waited until everyone else was gone to open it. As arrogant as the kid can be, James longs to be accepted and loved. He thrives when he’s surrounded by people who care about him, and hates it when he’s received badly by people he cares about. Since the day Lily Evans turned him down for the first time, all the posturing and all the jokes have existed purely to hide his insecurity.
“Won’t know until you open it,” Remus told him.
“You know,” James looked up at him. “This is the first time she’s gotten me anything at all.”
Remus smiled at him, and this time it’s genuine. “Well, I’ve heard you work well together.”
James laughed. He looked back at his hands and unwrapped the gift. Inside is an elegant box.
“Maybe she got you a pretty necklace,” Remus mused.
James ignored him and opened the box. There’s a short note on top of whatever the gift is.
I didn’t touch it first, so it will only know your hand, which is fitting.
Remus glanced James’ confused face for an answer; finding none, he watched as James lifts the note and reveals a pristine golden snitch. James picked it up, entranced, and looked at it closely before breaking into the largest grin Remus had seen him wear in a long time.
James turned the snitch so Remus could see. Engraved across the middle of the snitch was “Property of the Arrogant, Bullying Toerag.”
Remus frowned, “Well, that’s not very nice of her.” He’d thought that Lily had warmed significantly towards James. In fact, he wouldn’t be the first one to say that lately they’d even been flirting. Quite a bit, too.
James laughed, “No, no, it’s a joke. Well, kind of.” Remus was further confused. “It’s a running gag between us, don’t worry, Moony. It’s a brilliant gift.”
Remus didn’t get it. Shrugging at James as he stood up, he supposed he didn’t have to. James seemed happy enough, anyway.
Remus and James dressed in silence. Remus had just pulled his jumper over his head when he heard the door open.
“Sirius still in here?” Frank Longbottom poked his head into the room.
“Er - he’s in the shower,” James told him. “Why?”
“Got a message for him from Dumbledore,” Frank opened the door further and walked in.
“Dumbledore? What’s it say?” Remus asked.
Frank threw him a look, “Don’t know, didn’t open it.”
“I’ll give it to him,” James stepped forward and held out his hand.
Frank hesitated for a second then handed it over, “Yeah, alright, thanks.”
James nodded and Frank left again. Remus caught James’ eye.
“No clue,” James told him.
Once James and Remus were fully dressed, Sirius emerged from the showers in a cloud of steam with a towel around his waist and his sweatpants draped over an arm. James handed Sirius the note and he tore it open. Remus and James watched as his eyes scanned the parchment.
“He wants me to meet him in his office ‘at my earliest convenience,’” Sirius murmured, confused.
“What’d you do?” James asked, his voice slipping into what the other three referred to as his Big Bad Head Boy Voice.
“Ugh, you sound like Moony,” Sirius rolled his eyes and threw his sweatpants and the note onto his bed. “I didn’t do anything,” Sirius continued as he dug through his trunk. “At least not as far as I can remember.” He pulled out a pair of mostly clean jeans. Paused. “Mighta locked Peeves in a suit of armor the other day, but let’s face it, that’s first year shit.”
“What does he want then?” James asked.
“If I knew, I’d tell you,” Sirius said irritably as he tugged on a pair of boxers and then his jeans. “Maybe he wants to make me Quidditch captain after your team nearly lost to Hufflepuff before break.”
James scowled. “You’d have to be on the team for that - wanna try out?”
“And take orders from you? Pass.”
“Technically, you already do because I’m -”
“If you say Head Boy, I’m going to hex you in the face.”
“Quit flirting,” Peter cut them off as he entered the dormitory, letting another puff of steam in. “What’s this I hear about Dumbledore summoning us?”
“Not us, him,” James said, thumbing at Sirius before scooping up a mince pie his mother sent him for Christmas. Distracted, neither James nor Peter saw Sirius turn bright red at Peter’s comment and dive into his trunk eerily fast to search for a jumper. Remus noticed, though, before he turned to hide his own face by staring out of the window.
Subtle, real subtle, his mind chided him. He looked to where he’d deposited the sweatpants he’d been wearing the night before and bent to grab them. He felt that the map was still in the pocket.
“Moony, you up for a game of chess and some pie while Sirius gets expelled or some shit?” James asked from across the room.
Remus looked up, hoping his face wasn’t still flushed. “Depends, are you going to flip the board if I beat you again?”
“That was one time! Two years ago!” James defended himself as the other two laughed. “I was having a bad day, okay? Merlin, I hate you all.”
Remus smiled at him, “I know.”
He dropped the pants into his trunk and shuffled through it to find his bag of chess pieces. Scooping up the pie James’ mother had sent Remus and stacking it on his own, James followed Remus down to the common room.
Both of James’ mother’s pies later, Remus and James were playing their tiebreaker match of chess. As usual when Remus and James played each other, the two games they had split were long and very close and they had attracted a rotating audience of students.
Remus had studied Wizard’s Chess solitarily growing up, occasionally convincing his father to play him but more often playing both sides himself. When he’d shown up at Hogwarts for his first year, he’d wowed the common room with his ability to beat even the older students. And then, one night, James sat down opposite him.
James lost the match that first night, but it was close - closer than Remus was used to. James had just shrugged, saying he hadn’t played much growing up. He’d borrowed an older student’s pieces to see what the whole fuss was about that night after Remus had wiped the floor with a fifth year.
Remus had gaped at him. It took him a few weeks before he understood how James, who didn’t even own his own chess set, had nearly beaten him that night. While James was certainly smarter than most people gave him credit for, it was his mind for strategy that made him a prime chess player. And that, Remus learned, he’d gotten from his obsession with Quidditch.
That first Christmas, Remus had gifted James his own set of chess pieces; James returned that kindness by becoming the first person at Hogwarts to beat Remus at wizard’s chess later that very day. Their Christmas chess matches had since become an accidental tradition.
Sirius had shuffled past them during their first match, and waved off James’ and Remus’ calls for good luck. Peter had joined them not long after that, draping himself lazily on a nearby chair. Other students stopped and watched for a few minutes here and there as they passed through the common room, but neither James nor Remus took any real notice of them.
“So what’s been going on with you lately, Moony,” James asked when their student audience had dispersed about fifteen minutes into their third game. He directed one of his knights to E7 in a retreat move. “You’ve been gone more mornings than not since break started. You only ever disappear like that when something's eating you up.”
Remus was so caught off guard by the abrupt question that he nearly moved one of his bishops into James’ trap. He quickly checked that they and Peter were alone in the common room before shrugging. “Castle to A4,” he muttered to his set. As his castle pounded through one of James’ pawns, he looked up at his friend and found that his eyes were searching Remus’ face. Remus could tell that James had been working up to asking the question for a while. “It’s nothing, just been feeling restless,” Remus lied.
“That time of the month again?” Peter asked.
“That’s not for another two and a half weeks, Wormtail,” James snapped irritably, looking back to the chess board.
“Don’t get your knickers in a twist, I was just asking.”
“It’s a pretty regular schedule, you’d think you would’ve picked up on it by now.”
“James,” Remus cut in wearily.
James looked up and caught his eye again, then sighed. “Sorry,” he muttered to Peter. “Queen to A4,” he told his pieces. “Check.”
“Shit,” Remus couldn’t believe he missed that; James had effing double-trapped him.
“Look, Remus, I know -”
“I really don’t want to talk about it,” Remus told him brusquely, and maneuvered his king out of peril.
If he didn’t know James so well, Remus would think that he was trying to throw Remus off his game. However, six years of friendship had taught him that James was nothing if not observant. It was probable that James had noticed the cut of tension between him and Sirius and was trying to patch it up. James had always been the glue that held the four of them together, even though people assumed that that was Remus’ job.
Remus could tell that James wanted to push the matter, but he didn’t. Instead, he finished the game quickly, funneling Remus into checkmate in five moves.
“Remus, do you want to do the customary board flip or can I?” Peter asked in mock excitement after James checkmated him.
James flipped a finger at him and Remus laughed.
“Good game, mate,” he smiled at James. He was only slightly bitter that he lost; James’ strategy-driven mind had sharpened exponentially since he’d been named Quidditch captain the year previous and Remus still hadn’t adjusted completely.
James nodded, “You too, as always.” He waved his wand and his pieces flew into their bag. “Wanna head down to Christmas dinner? I’m starved.” He frisbee’d the two empty cardboard pie plates into the fire from where he sat. Peter pulled a regal face and tapped his fingers to his other palm in what Remus assumed was supposed to be dignified applause.
Remus rolled his eyes and swept his pieces into their bag, muttering an apology to them for allowing James’ pieces to beat them to a pulp. Standing, he stretched his arms over his head and nodded, “Yeah, I could go for some turkey.”
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw James stand too quickly and trip over a leg of his chair. He fell into Remus’ side and the latter barely brought his hands down fast enough to catch his friend and keep them both from toppling over.
Peter laughed, “How you’re the most graceful of us, Prongs, I’ll never know.”
“He’s got a point,” Remus added as James straightened and shoved his chess bag in his pocket. He threw Peter an annoyed look, “Shut it, at least I can’t be stepped on, Wormtail.”
“Okay, Hagrid’s feet are huge and Sirius had bucked me off his back - that was not my fault!” He scowled.
“Eh, point, James,” Remus tallied. “Tie score.”
James shoved him playfully, “Git.” He picked up the chess board, “I’ll run the set back upstairs.” He grabbed Remus’ bag of pieces off of the table and bounded up the stairs.
“I hope Padfoot’s alright,” Peter said after a moment of silence, furrowing his brow. “He never came back, did he?”
Remus frowned. Peter was right, what could Dumbledore have wanted that took this long?
He thought of pulling the Map from his pocket and checking to make sure everything was alright, but before he could, he heard James coming back down the stairs shouting something vaguly insulting to Remus about beating him so soundly at chess. Remus shot something sarcastic back at him as he jumped the last three stairs, and the three of them walked out of the common room. Sirius would surely be in the Great Hall - he wasn’t one to miss a feast.
The Great Hall wasn’t crowded by any means, but there were many more people sitting around House tables than there usually were during the holidays. With the war ramping up and the Death Eaters becoming more brazen, many parents decided that their children were safer under the protection of Hogwarts and Albus Dumbledore. Remus couldn’t blame them.
Halfway down the table, Remus spotted Sirius piling food onto his plate and felt the tension leave his body. He hadn’t really thought anything dire had happened, but seeing Sirius looking relatively nonchalant (if a little upset) was a relief. He knew that Sirius had done more than one reckless thing when he was angry or upset, and the last time Remus had spoken to him in private he’d been both.
He saw James and Peter relax beside him and knew he wasn’t the only one who had been worried.
Remus led the way to where Sirius sat and fell onto the bench across the table from him, offering him a small smile.
“You’re still here!” James exclaimed as he clapped Sirius on the shoulder and dropped down on the bench next to him.
“Looks like we’ll have to bribe Dumbledore with more galleons next time if we really want to get rid of him, mates,” Peter shook his head in mock sadness.
“Shame, I’d been saving for ages,” Remus tacked on, grabbing a plate.
“You’re all hilarious,” Sirius deadpanned. “Really, keep it up, I can’t breath for laughing.”
“Were you in with Dumbledore this whole time?” James asked as he piled mashed potatoes on his plate. “I kicked Moony’s ass in Wizard’s chess, you missed it!”
Remus scowled and chucked a pea at him. It bounced off his glasses.
Sirius shrugged in response. “Ran into Evans on the way here,” he deflected. James immediately took the bait, but Remus frowned. “She said she liked your gift, Prongs,” Sirius continued and smirked his trademark smirk. Merlin, Remus hadn’t seen that on his face in at least a week.
“She did?” James asked, searching Sirius’ face for signs he was jerking him around.
“Yep,” Sirius popped the ‘p’ on the word. “We were walking in together but then we ran into -” he stopped abruptly.
“Who?” Peter asked.
Sirius looked uncomfortable and changed tactics, “Actually, wait, I ran into Evans on the fourth floor right by that mirror that conceals the passage to Hogsmeade - she can’t know about that, right?”
“What?” James, who had started looking to see if Lily was at the table, snapped his head back to look at Sirius. “Nah, she couldn’t.”
“Even if she did, would she even use it? She threatened to give me detention once for trying to sneak out of the castle after curfew,” Peter rolled his eyes.
“I think you’re not giving her enough credit,” Remus told them. “Plus, it’s your own damn fault, honestly. If I’d known, I would have given you a detention for getting caught in the first place, Wormtail.”
“Moony’s got a point there,” Sirius waved his fork at Peter.
“Three-way tie then,” James nodded at Remus and Peter before scanning the table. “But she definitely said she liked my gift? Did she say anything else?”
Sirius rolled his eyes and looked over to Remus with an exasperated expression. It was such a familiar thing, that look that they shared, that Remus genuinely smiled. They held eye contact for one heartbeat, two, the easy moment filling with more and more things left unsaid until Sirius looked down at his plate. Remus let out the breath he’d been holding.
“But, c’mon, what’d Dumbledore want?” Peter asked immediately before shoving so much turkey in his mouth Remus thought he’d choke.
“Yeah, you were gone for hours,” James looked back at his mate. “Everything okay?”
“Sirius,” James started, sounding annoyed.
“James,” Sirius said back in the same tone.
“Was it bad? Did you do something stupid?”
“When have I ever done anything...” Sirius stopped at the identical looks on all three of his mates’ faces. “Well, fair, but no, it wasn’t really about me and I definitely don’t want to get into it right now. The only thing I want to get into is this turkey and maybe another bird later tonight, if you catch my drift.” Remus felt sick to his stomach as Sirius pulled out that smirk again. James and Peter laughed and groaned, respectively.
Remus turned towards the door to the Great Hall, trying to distract himself, just as Lily marched in looking flustered.
“Prongs,” Remus nodded at the door. If he had known who would walk through after her, he might not have, but how could he have guessed that Severus Snape was the one who she and Sirius had run into? Sirius hadn’t finished that particular thought, unfortunately.
“Wonder what that was about,” James commented, trying (and failing) to keep his voice neutral.
“Maybe she liked his present too,” Sirius muttered quietly, stabbing a sausage rather violently.
Remus and Peter both shot Sirius scolding looks. Sirius looked up and locked eyes with Remus again, eyebrows raised, daring him to comment, until Remus looked away.
James watched as Snape took a seat at the table behind the bench Remus was on. Remus watched Lily fall into a seat next to a sixth year Gryffindor prefect named Alice.
The rest of the dinner passed without much incident. Christmas crackers were pulled, pudding was eaten, and everyone laughed almost like they had each Christmas for the past six years.
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