Disclaimer: Don't own, don't sue. Just borrowing them from the goddess herself for a bit of personal entertainment.
Title: A Day in Hell in The Life of Remus J. Lupin
Summary: "Lie low at Lupin's for a while". Maybe Dumbledore should have asked for Remus' consent before he uttered those fateful words. Should the old headmaster have known that the ex-convict and overly protective godfather with the little fur-problem would not make the world's easiest flatmate?
And now Sirius is planning a party…
…can Remus stop him in time and so save the wizarding world? Or will he fall into the clutches of desperation and Odgeon's Firewhiskey? Maybe for once his werewolf metabolism might prove to be good for him…if he only knew how werewolves react to Alcohol.
Add a quite surprised Snape and you're in for the party.
Note: Everybody might be pretty OOC here (or somewhat drunk), but that's okay. At least for the occasion.
Warning: (And I'm serious about this) Alcohol is no solution. Neither is drinking to get through the day, or through some other unpleasant events. This isn't meant to offend anybody, and every bit of alcohol-abuse in this story is solely for plot-reasons and not addictive.
Okay Eva, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!
Yes, you see right: this one is for you. A tiny little fic, all for you. You've earned it, after all those mails and months of contact, especially after all the help you gave me with 'No Longer Safe' and the feedback for my other two stories.
So, here you go, I hope you enjoy it!
And I'm so sorry that it took me longer than expected to get this one out, but real life and my unexpected struggle with writing humour got in between.
I hope it's long and good enough to justify the delay =)A Day in Hell in The Life of Remus J. Lupin
Remus woke up and immediately knew that something was not the way it was supposed to be, something was not quite right.
The house was silent.
Now, a silent house would have been perfectly normal for Remus J. Lupin only a couple of weeks ago.
The former Defence Against The Dark Arts Professor at Hogwarts lived a secluded life in a small cottage somewhere in Kent. It was close enough to the next village for shopping and errands, but far away enough to hide Remus' secret.
You see…Remus J. Lupin was a werewolf. Complete with fur, muzzle and fangs, a raging monster one night a month.
During the remaining days, Remus Lupin already felt wild and rebellious if he didn't clean up his teacup before he went to bed in the evening. Just to give you a small insight into how normal and uneventful Remus Lupin's life was.
Except from the werewolf parts, Remus had not been much different from your average next-door neighbour for the last twelve months. He had gotten up early in the morning, had made himself a cup of tea and some cereal for breakfast, then he had spent the rest of the morning with gardening and other small jobs around the house. The afternoons and evenings had been reserved for the research work Remus did for Albus Dumbledore, the infamous headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
All in all, Remus J. Lupin had lived a pretty normal
life during the last year.
Until roughly five weeks ago.
Until Five weeks, four days, ten hours and…Remus craned his neck to see the alarm clock on the bedside table…sixteen minutes ago.
Not that he counted, of course.
But roughly five weeks ago, Sirius Black had arrived at Remus' small cottage, without any word of forewarning from Dumbledore.
Oh sure, the old bat had written Remus a number of letters before Sirius had arrived, but the fact that he had sent the former convict on his way to Remus' must have slipped his mind. How very convenient. But Dumbledore wasn't the youngest anymore, after all.
Or maybe the old headmaster had guessed that Remus would have barred the doors and windows and would have locked himself in the basement had he known about Sirius' arrival.
Not that you get the wrong impression, Remus liked Sirius. Very much so, no doubt about that. He'd even go as far to say that he loved him. Not the way James had loved Lily, I would not want to give you the wrong idea. Remus loved Sirius like a brother.
But Remus had shared a dormitory at school with Sirius, for seven years. And after that, even worse, they had been flatmates in London for about two years. Remus had not forgotten his lessons from those days.
And now, five weeks, four days, ten hours and now nineteen minutes after Sirius had scratched on his backdoor (leaving huge gashes in and dirty paw prints on the yellow paint), Remus lay in his bed and listened to the creepy silence in his house.
Remus' stomach flipped and he quickly climbed out of bed, pulled on some shoes and his dressing gown and left his room to head downstairs.
He had learned one thing during Sirius' stay: silence never was a good sign. On the contrary. It was a very, very bad sign. A token of impending doom.
Remus ran down the stairs, half expecting to find the lower level of the house in flames. But to his surprise, everything seemed alright. Well, as alright as things could be with Sirius Black being your housemate.
An empty six-pack of butterbeer stood on the couch table, next to an open box which had contained a large pepperoni pizza from "Luigi Cameletti's Pizzeria – magic for your taste buds!" the evening before. Now only some fatty marks reminded of its former contents – Sirius' idea of dinner.
The sofa looked rumpled from long hours of watching TV while lying spread eagled on it, the pillows strewn all over the floor. And Remus didn't even want to imagine what the empty crisp pack on the floor meant. Something along the lines of small salt and vinegar flavoured pieces of potato all over his carpet and sofa, but he decided not to think about it now. They'd mingle with the pieces of black fur from Sirius' animagus form soon enough. Remus would never understand why Sirius seemed to feel the urge to change into Padfoot from time to time (and quite often so, he had to notice), but the black fur all over his furniture definitely wasn't something Remus liked about this behaviour.
He had already thought about various plans to keep Sirius from transforming, after all there really was no need for it. Sirius did it out of fun. Or to annoy him, Remus had not decided which to believe.
But the fact remained that Remus could not come up with any good reason why he should forbid Sirius the transformations. The best plan he had developed so far was to tell his old friend that he was suddenly allergic to dog fur.
No way that would work.
After all, how weird would it be to be allergic against oneself once a month.
No, Sirius would never believe this, and until Remus could come up with a better excuse, he'd have to live with the fur and the scratches on his furniture.
Once more looking around the room, Remus sighed. It would take him hours to clean up what Sirius had devastated in maybe thirty minutes.
Seeing that his friend was not in here, Remus shook his head and went into the kitchen. Still no sign of Sirius.
Well, no sign was not entirely correct, there were clear signs that his old friend had at least been here that morning.
The trace of coffee powder that ran from the coffee-tin on the shelf to the coffee-machine, for example. He faint smell of smoke in the air was another sign. Remus stepped over towards the stove, carefully avoiding what suspiciously looked like a broken egg on the floor. On the stove, the heat still turned on, stood a pan with an indefinable black mass on the bottom. That would explain the smoke. Remus turned off the heat, grabbed a tea-towel and took the pan, all the while suppressing the urge to curse his friend. He turned the pan around over the trash bin. The contents didn't move an inch.
Maybe gravity had decided not to work properly today.
Mumbling something not very friendly about Sirius' state of mind, Remus put the pan in the sink and let some water run into it. Soon, black foam filled the sink and a suspicious smell spread through the kitchen. Remus shook his head. He didn't even want to know what Sirius had put into the pan.
Remus grabbed a cup from the shelf and filled it with the liquid that was in the pot on the table. It distantly reminded Remus of coffee, though he didn't remember whether coffee should be thick enough for his spoon to stick in, but right now he didn't care. Knowing Sirius, the brew would make him awake and that was all he wanted at the moment.
Next to the coffee lay a piece of parchment.
Frowning, Remus took the parchment and tried to decipher its meaning. Undoubtedly it was Sirius' handwriting, messy and to the unsuspecting mind it resembled a piece of Arabic calligraphy. Remus held it close to his eyes, then as far away as his arms would stretch, turned it upside down and repeated the process, all the while opening and narrowing his eyes as if the signs on the parchment would miraculously make sense that way. But he could not read it.
Remus didn't like admitting it, but he was nearly forty now and his eyesight had seen better days. And still there was no sign of Sirius, so if he wanted to find his friend before trouble found him (as it usually did, and quite fast so), he'd have to take desperate means to make that message readable. Remus pulled out his wand.
A pair of round glasses, rimmed with gold wire, flew into Remus' outstretched hand. He put them on and turned his attention back to the piece of parchment. He turned and twisted it a little in his hand, until he thought he could make out letters and words.
Went into town, need to buy some things for the party.
Remus' heart started to beat wildly in his chest. He rubbed his eyes, then looked back onto the parchment again. The words had not changed. There was the word 'party' written on it. Party. What party?
And why on earth had Sirius gone to town, all by himself? Didn't he know how dangerous that was? He could get caught, or get himself into trouble again, meaning that Remus would have to pull him out again.
Breakfast is on the stove.
THAT was meant to be breakfast? Remus looked at the burnt remains in the sink and felt his stomach give a little jerk. A potions experiment gone wrong he would have believed, yes, but breakfast?
He'd never be able to eat again.
I'll be back in an hour.
Remus sighed and put the parchment back onto the table. It was a very useful thing to write 'I'll be back in an hour' in a note, for all that Remus knew Sirius could have written it at four in the morning.
He didn't really want to think about all that could happen to Sirius out there, without a wand. Remus could not imagine how he wanted to go shopping without scaring the shop owners or getting caught by the Ministry. He didn't want to know.
Remus would clean up the mess in the kitchen and the living room, that would keep him occupied until Sirius came back. And it would keep him from worrying.
The kitchen proved to be harder work than it looked. The coffee was easy enough to get rid of, but the egg-like substance on the floor was resisting every cleaning charm Remus could think of. In the end he had to scrub it off by hand.
After some moments of desperate staring at what had been his favourite pan up to this morning, Remus decided to let it soak for another couple of days. If he could not remove the black mass in it by then, Sirius would die a very painful death.
Remus was half way through erasing all signs of doom from the living room when he heard the front door close. Moments later, he heard somebody rummage in the kitchen. Something fell over and broke with a sound comparable to a small explosion.
Ah. Sirius was home. Remus sighed and resumed cleaning up the living room. At least he had managed not to get caught by the Ministry or thrown in jail because of public harassment. Remus shuddered as he thought back to the last time that had happened.
"Good morning, sunshine!"
Slowly, Remus turned around. There, in the doorway, stood Sirius. His black hair was tied back in a ponytail, his face had filled out, he was clean shaven and all in all he looked a lot healthier than he had done in a very long time. Not at all like on his wanted pictures.
Which surely had something to do with Remus fattening him up over the course of the last five weeks, four days, twelve hours and…you get the point.
Right now he was holding something that could somehow be described as a sandwich, containing a five centimetre thick mixture of ham, cheese, pickles, salad, mustard and ketchup pressed between two slices of bread. A trace of ketchup led back to the fridge, red drops falling to the floor in front of Sirius repeatedly.
Remus stared at the sandwich, then at the kitchen behind Sirius.
The kitchen he had cleaned up only half an hour ago.
The kitchen that now looked again as if a tornado had been raging there.
The whole contents of the fridge seemed to be spread on the counter, countless kitchen tools and knives were lying around dirty and used, a stack of dirty plates stood next to the sink. And right there, in the middle of the black and white tiled floor, was a huge yellowy wet spot. Remus looked from the spot to Sirius and back again, hoping that his friend would get the hint and at least tell him what it was.
But to no avail.
Sirius watched him for a moment, then he gave him a playful hit on the back that completely knocked the wind out of Remus' lungs. And that left a handprint made of ketchup on his shirt.
"Not very vocal this morning, eh? Come on, let's go to the kitchen, I have to ask you something about the party."
There it was again. The p-word.
Without worrying further about the shape of his kitchen, Remus sent a cleaning charm towards the mysterious wet spot on the floor and sat down on the kitchen table. The repeated use of the p-word worried Remus far more than chaos in his kitchen. Which said something, because the kitchen was Remus' sacred room in the house.
Sirius poured himself a cup of the 'coffee' and gave Remus a very scolding look.
"You didn't eat your breakfast this morning, Moony."
Beyond his ability to help it, the image and smell of the pan's content came back to Remus' mind and he held a hand in front of his mouth as if to stop himself from getting very violently sick.
Sirius shook his head in a very patronizing manner.
"You missed a very good omelette there, Remus."
Remus rose an eyebrow.
"That was supposed to be an omelette?"
"Could have fooled me. Sirius?"
His housemate and oldest friend drank a deep swig of the coffee-like brew, making Remus' stomach give another jerk, and looked at him as if nothing had happened.
"Sirius, what in Merlin's name possessed you to go out there shopping this morning? You could have gotten caught!"
Sirius took another swig and waved his hand dismissively.
"No, they would not recognize me even if they had my wanted posters directly in front of them. I look too different now, there's no way they would recognize me."
Remus just shook his head. Trust Sirius to be so careless about something as serious as this.
"Could you at least tell me why you had to go to town so urgently that you obviously didn't even have the time to wait for me to get up?"
Sirius looked at Remus daftly. It took him some moments, and after he had deciphered the structure of Remus' sentence he looked at his old friend as if he was stupid.
"Why, the party of course."
No mistaking this time. There it was again. The p-word. A feeling of dread settled over Remus, but he had to know.
"What party, Sirius?"
Instead of answering, Sirius gestured to the calendar on the wall. Remus didn't particularly care about calendars, especially not ones like this with pictures of magical animals for every month. It was a new-year's gift from the pharmacy , and this month a group of hippogriffs was merrily chasing each other in the woods. Sirius had insisted to hang the calendar into the kitchen after he had discovered it under a stack of books.
He had circled every full moon with red ink.
He had said it was to remind Remus of them.
Remus had never forgotten a single full moon ever since he had been bitten.
And even if he forgot about them, it would not be like 'Oh damn, now I missed my transformation!'.
But Sirius had insisted and Remus had wanted to humour him.
Now Remus looked at the date Sirius indicated and the feeling of dread only got worse. Remus was fairly sure that he was shaking.
"Sirius? You're not…I mean, you don't want to say that…"
Sirius enthusiastically nodded.
"Of course. He'll be so surprised. I already
invited the Weasleys and Hermione over. Come on Moony, it'll be fun."
Whenever Sirius had said 'come on Moony, it'll be fun' at school, it had implied at least a week of detention. And after school it had often brought them into trouble with the authorities. Could one really blame Remus that he had gotten careful over the years?
"Sirius, I don't think it would be wise…"
But before Remus had even finished his thought, Sirius had jumped off his chair.
"I knew that you would agree, Remus. So, the
guests will arrive in two hours. How about you tidying
up a little before that, eh? The house looks a little rumpled, not that I care,
but your guests might get the wrong impression. Oh, and I need this for a
He grabbed Remus' wand from the kitchen table.
"He! Sirius, give me my wand back right now!"
Sirius shook his head.
"Sorry Moony, but I need a wand to apparate Harry and me. We'll be back in time with the guests. Oh, and don't forget about the cake."
Sudden changes of topic were normal with Sirius, but this one startled Remus to an extreme extend. He stared at his old friend with wide and confused eyes.
"The birthday cake. Remus, really. The boy needs a birthday cake."
Sirius gave Remus a last shake of the head and apparated away, leaving Remus with a dirty kitchen, a half-way cleaned up living room and a cake to be made. And he had taken his wand.
Sirius Black was somewhere in Surrey right now, and he had a wand.
Remus shook his head and allowed himself to fall back into the chair he had been sitting in, contemplating the choice between murder and suicide for a moment.
Harry Potter was having an average summer so far.
After he had returned from his fourth year at Hogwarts a couple of weeks ago, nothing out of the ordinary had happened. He spent his days doing his chores around the house, and in case he wasn't cooking meals in the kitchen or tidying up the house, he was sitting in his small bedroom.
But through the fact that his Dudley no longer was on a diet (Aunt Petunia had complained that she could not see her poor Duddykins waste away like snow in the sun. After all, Dudley had lost five pounds due to the diet), Harry spent most of his time in the kitchen to prepare meals or snacks for his cousin.
Harry didn't really complain about all the work his relatives gave him to do, at least it helped to keep him from brooding. His last year at school had been a tough one, and that still was an understatement. Harry had witnessed the death of a fellow student by the hands of Wormtail, and then he had been forced to participate in the resurrection of Lord Voldemort, the darkest wizard in existence for quite some time.
No, Harry didn't really want to think about all that had happened. At least his dreams didn't keep him awake anymore like they had done immediately after the third task, and luckily his scar had not hurt ever since that fateful night. It was a small improvement, but Harry was glad about it nevertheless.
The only thing that worried him at the moment was that he had not heard from his godfather for quite some time now.
Harry knew that Professor Dumbledore had sent Sirius off to gather forces against Voldemort, and that he was supposed to remain at Professor Lupin's until the headmaster contacted him again.
Harry had received two or three owls since Sirius had arrived there, but all of them had been very short, only stating that Sirius was doing well and that Harry should send word in case he needed him.
Those owls had not really helped to convince his aunt and uncle.
Harry didn't know how and why, but over the course of
the last year, Petunia and Vernon seemed to have decided that either this
murderous godfather was only an invention of Harry's to blackmail them into
treating him better, or that if he really existed he obviously didn't care
enough about Harry. Or why had the man never shown up before, no matter how
they had treated the boy?
Whatever their reason had been, his aunt and uncle had decided that they would not allow Harry to continue threatening them with Sirius anymore. So the first thing uncle Vernon had done after they had arrived at Privet Drive a couple of weeks ago, had been locking away Harry's trunk into the cupboard under the stairs. Harry had not expected this to happen, and so all his books, his wand and his invisibility cloak were out of his reach.
He had no other choice but to spend the summer without them, at least until he maybe was allowed to go to the Weasleys near the end of the holiday. Dudley's second bedroom contained a large number of unread books, so at least Harry didn't have to die of boredom.
Of course he could have written Sirius about what Vernon had done to the trunk, and he was fairly sure that his godfather would have appeared on the doorstep mere minutes after he had received the owl, but Harry didn't want to endanger him any further. If Sirius got caught by the Ministry simply because he had to settle Harry's domestic struggles, Harry would never forgive himself.
No, they all would have less problems this way.
Because of all this, Harry didn't expect to have anything but a usual day when he got up on the morning of July 31st. Of course he knew that it was his birthday, but other than a couple of letters and a package from the Weasleys, he didn't really expect anything special about it.
He was slightly startled when no owl awaited him as he got out of bed that morning. Now that was unusual, his friends normally sent him at least a birthday card or a letter. Well, maybe they were planning something else or had not found the time to do it yet, so Harry got up and hurriedly dressed himself. He was already late to prepare the Dursleys' breakfast.
When Harry came into the kitchen, the sight of Dudley sitting on the kitchen table greeted him. Harry groaned. This definitely wasn't the first image Harry wanted to see in the morning. Nor in the afternoon or the evening, come to think about it.
"Good morning Dudley."
Harry received no response, so he shrugged his shoulders and opened the fridge. He didn't necessarily need conversation with any of the Dursleys, he had just wanted to be polite.
Just as the bacon and the eggs were nearly finished, Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia came into the kitchen. While Petunia immediately stepped towards the kitchen window to see what the neighbours were doing, Vernon flung himself into his chair.
"Boy, why is the breakfast not on the table
"Sorry uncle Vernon. It's right here."
Harry hurriedly put the pan onto the table, then he went to the counter again and fetched the toast.
Vernon grunted something in response and began to fill his plate. He'd never say thank you, and Harry didn't expect him to. He just wanted to get over with breakfast, after he had cleaned the plates he could go back into his room and continue reading the book he had found yesterday evening. Treasure Island, a children's book but highly entertaining. Harry distantly remembered that he had once seen excerpts from a Muppet-movie version of the book while the Dursleys had not been paying attention to him.
Dudley wolfed down his eggs and bacon, as well as the bigger part of Harry's breakfast. Petunia listlessly picked around her plate while she told Vernon that the Windsons two houses down seemed to have bought a second car for Mrs. Windson. And they had a pool in the garden since last summer.
Vernon just grunted something about the uselessness of a pool in Great Britain, where the summers were so short that you could miss them if you slept in on the wrong day, then he grabbed the paper and got up from his chair.
"I'm going to read the paper in the living room, I don't want to be disturbed. Boy, you clean up the kitchen and then help Petunia with the laundry."
Harry rolled his eyes. Treasure Island would have to wait.
He was, however, saved by his aunt.
"No Vernon, I don't want him to fool around with the laundry again. Last time he did, he dyed all Dudley's underwear pink with his…his freakishness."
Harry stifled a laugh. Though his family knew that he
was not allowed to do magic over the holidays, they still blamed everything
that happened on him doing magic. The underwear accident was solely to blame on
a single red sock that had somehow miraculously slipped into the basket with
the white laundry. Harry had absolutely no idea how that could have happened.
The next time, he'd take a green one.
Harry silently finished his own breakfast, then he put the cups and plates into the sink and as quickly as possible cleaned them up. By the time he had finished, neither Vernon nor Petunia were anywhere to be seen, so Harry immediately sneaked up into his room again before they could find something else to make him work on.
With a sigh, Harry relaxed into his mattress and opened the book.
'Welcome back into the world of R.L. Stevenson.'
His visit there didn't really last long this time, already after two pages he was interrupted again.
By a shrill scream coming from downstairs. Aunt Petunia's scream.
Harry bolted upright and threw the book onto the bed. What could be happening downstairs? Had Voldemort found a way through all the protection spells around Privet Drive and now stood in their hall, ready to kill Harry once and for all?
Though he was quite defenceless without his wand, Harry immediately jumped off the bed and carefully opened the door to his room. He at least wanted to have a look at whoever had made his aunt scream, maybe there was something he could do to help.
All thoughts about helping Petunia were completely forgotten as soon as Harry realized who was standing in the hall, holding his aunt and uncle at wand point.
Harry ran down the stairs as fast as he could, taking two steps at once, and flung himself at the taller man. Sirius gladly returned the hug, but he never let Petunia and Vernon out of sight.
"Hiya Harry. How are you doing?"
Harry drew back a little and smiled at Sirius.
"Fine. Really fine now that you're here. They", he gestured at his relatives over his shoulder "didn't believe you were real. Can you believe that?"
Sirius smirked and released Harry from his embrace.
"They didn't believe I was real, you say?"
Sirius made a step towards the Dursleys, but the only result was that Petunia and Vernon backed away from him as far as possible. Sirius shook his head, clearly irritated.
He turned around again and faced a very sheepishly looking Harry.
"What is it, Harry?"
"Why exactly are you here? You could get caught, it's too dangerous."
Sirius just waved his hand in a dismissive gesture.
"No, no. Until the Ministry might possibly realize that I've been here, we're already gone. Besides, this isn't my wand, so all they'll see in case they monitor this house, is that Remus Lupin paid Harry Potter a visit. I don't think they would worry too much about that."
Harry frowned his brow in confusion. Something in Sirius' words had been strange, he just couldn't put his finger on it at the moment.
"Wait, did you say 'we're already gone'? 'We' as in 'you and I'?"
"Why, of course. Only for today, unfortunately, but it's your birthday after all. Unless you don't want to come…"
Harry just raised an eyebrow.
"And stay here with them? Sure Sirius, of course I'd prefer that."
That moment, Vernon finally gained enough courage to speak.
"The boy is not going anywhere today. I already told him that he has to paint the fence in the afternoon, and there is still Dudley's room that needs to be vacuumed. And the windows have to be cleaned. No, the boy won't go with you, not today and no other day either."
Sirius spun around and raised his wand at Vernon again, who immediately cowered back against the wall.
"The 'boy' has a name", he said, stretching every syllable and word so dangerously that one could literally hear the italics, "his name is Harry. You'd do better to remind that. And if I want to take my godson out for the day, there is nothing that a stupid muggle like you can do to stop me.
Harry, go get whatever you need for today. Oh, and pack in a pyjama, maybe we can arrange for you to stay overnight."
Harry nodded and immediately bolted upstairs while Sirius turned back to Vernon.
"And now I think you and I need to have a word."
With this, he drove Vernon and Petunia back into the kitchen, where a frightened Dudley was cowering under the table, a buttered roll in his hand.
When Harry came downstairs again a couple of minutes later, he found Sirius leaning in the doorframe of the kitchen, whistling. A plastic bag was standing on the floor next to him. Something was not right here.
Hearing Harry come down, he looked up.
"Sirius, where are Vernon and Petunia?"
"Don't know. Did they leave, really? I had not
"Sirius, you didn't do anything to them, did you?"
"No, of course not. Nothing that would harm them, and nothing that could get you or me into trouble. I think they'll just be enjoying their day out."
Harry raised an eyebrow, but soon realized that he would not get more out of his godfather at the moment.
"Alright, where do we go?"
"You'll see. But we have to walk for a moment, I can't apparate us within those wards."
Together they left the house and walked down the street, into Magnolia Crescent. When they had reached the end of that road as well, Sirius stopped and stretched out his hand to Harry.
Harry took the hand and, once more looking around to make sure nobody was watching them, Sirius apparated them away.
Apparating, Harry thought, was like blinking and finding yourself in a totally different place when you opened your eyes again. In Harry's case, this totally different place appeared to be the living room of a wizarding house. There was a fireplace with a pot of floo powder on the mantelpiece, a couple of wizarding pictures on the wall, and a set of wizard's chess on the table next to the sofa.
The room was slightly untidy, the sofa was rumpled and there was an empty pizza box on the couch table, but other than that it reminded Harry strongly of the living room at the Burrow.
He was just about to ask where they were when the door to the living room opened and a familiar figure entered the room.
Harry would have laughed at Remus Lupin's appearance, for he was wearing a red-white checked apron and there were pieces of flour and sugar on his hands, his cheeks and even in his tousled hair.
As said, Harry would have laughed, had Professor Lupin's expression not promised murder for everybody who crossed him at that moment.
Seeing Harry, Professor Lupin managed a quick smile.
But straight after that, the murderous glare was back, and Remus lost no time to turn it onto Sirius.
"You and me. Outside. Now."
Harry was surprised, to say it mildly. Truly, he had never seen his godfather and his former Professor interact with each other ever since the incident in the Shrieking Shack, but from all that he knew he had expected them to get along very well with each other. But whatever was happening now was not quite what he had expected.
Sirius seemed to be quite surprised himself, but had not time to really show it for Remus had grabbed his forearm and was already dragging him towards the back door that led into the garden. All that Harry saw was Remus snatching the wand out of Sirius' hand, aiming it at the backdoor and muttering something what Harry suspected was a silencing charm, because suddenly Harry could not hear any sound from outside anymore at all.
Feeling strangely left out, Harry didn't really know what he should be doing now, all alone in Remus' living room. But he needn't have worried, because the two adults came back into the house after only a couple of minutes.
Remus appeared to be a lot more relaxed than he had been when they had arrived, but Sirius' face was slightly flushed and his expression was one of – embarrassment? Harry couldn't really imagine his godfather to be embarrassed about anything, but then again he didn't know what had been happening between the two men before they had arrived.
All he noticed was that his former Professor held his wand tightly, as if he was scared that somebody would want to take it away from him.
He turned back to Harry and smiled again, this time longer and far more genuine.
"Hello again, Harry. Sorry for this little…disturbance, but Sirius and I needed to clear something."
Again he shot his friend a dangerous glance, but Sirius didn't look at him and so missed it.
"Erm…Hello too, Professor Lupin."
Remus just waved a hand at Harry.
"Don't call me Professor Lupin, Harry. It's Remus, after all, I'm not your teacher anymore. Besides, I don't think I look very much like a Professor at the moment."
He gestured at his apron and his still flour covered hands and Harry had to suppress a grin.
"No, not really Pro…Remus. What are you doing? Baking?"
A somewhat pained expression crossed Remus' face.
"Erm…don't mind me asking, but wouldn't it be a lot easier to use magic for the baking? And it wouldn't be as…messy."
Behind him, Harry heard Sirius draw a sharp intake of breath. Remus glared at him.
"It would be, yes. If not somebody had taken away my wand. But let's not talk about that now, after all that's not the reason why you're here today. Happy Birthday, Harry."
Remus made a step towards Harry and stretched out his hand, but before he had reached him Sirius seemed to remember that he too had not congratulated his godson properly.
"Yes, Happy Birthday Harry."
And with this, Sirius drew Harry into a bear hug that knocked all the wind out of him. Remus watched him struggle for a moment, then decided to save the poor boy from his overly affective godfather.
"Sirius, I think if you don't let Harry go he won't be alive for whatever you planned today."
Sirius drew back from Harry and grinned.
"Oh yeah, the surprise."
Harry raised a curious eyebrow while inside of Remus' stomach the heralds of doom once more made their presence noticed.
The p-word was already bad enough, but whatever had possessed Sirius to call it a surprise now only worried Remus more. Surprise implied things he could not be prepared for, and he had already had his fair share of those for the rest of his lifetime since Sirius had arrived here. Which had been five weeks, four days, fourteen hours and roughly ten minutes ago. Of course Remus still wasn't counting.
"Listen Sirius, why don't you prepare everything for your…surprise", Remus couldn't help but shudder at the word, "and clean up your mess here in the living room while you're already here. And Harry, you just get acquainted, alright? I need to do something in the kitchen."
Ignoring Harry's and Sirius' puzzled glances, Remus hurried out of the room and into the safety of the kitchen. His kitchen. This would become his save haven for today, so no matter what Sirius had planned Remus would have a place where he could just ignore it. And he had a strange feeling in his stomach that today would bring a lot of things to ignore.
Better be prepared.
Locking the door behind him, Remus opened a door in the kitchen counter and reached in. There, behind his additional glasses of maple syrup and orange jam was it. His saviour. His only chance to get through this day without any lasting mental damage.
Remus Lupin's emergency reservoir of Odgeon's Firewhiskey.
He pulled out the nearly full bottle of the brownish liquid and looked at it with relief in his eyes.
The cake was in the oven, the kitchen was cleaned up and he only needed to change his shirt before the guests would arrive. There was still time for one little glass of Firewhiskey before Sirius' chaos would start its reign.
Just one glass to get him through the day.
Remus needed that now.
The amber liquid burned down his throat and Remus immediately began to cough. He wasn't that much of a drinker, a Butterbeer from time to time, but only rarely he drank something harder.
But after the coughing had subsided, the whiskey spread a warm feeling through his stomach and Remus relaxed a little.
He put the bottle back and went upstairs to change his clothes before the guests would arrive.
Maybe he worried too much.
Truly, Sirius had a knack for creating chaos wherever he went, but maybe with other people in the house he would restrain himself some more. Remus searched his memories for scenarios in their past which were comparable to today's situation and immediately the heralds of doom turned his stomach around again.
'It's Harry's birthday', he told himself, 'not James' bachelor party, or the wedding, or James' birthday. Harry is his godson, his responsibility. Surely Sirius will act more maturely today. Surely.'
By the time Hermione fell out of the fireplace at half past one, Sirius had really managed to clean up the living room. Remus was surprised, but decided to see this as a token of Sirius' ability to act mature when truly needed.
'He has grown up. Today will not end in chaos. It's just a party.'
While changing his clothes and washing the flour out of his hair, Remus had repeated these words over and over again. They were his mantra for today. Grown up. No chaos. Just a party.
It worked well until the next guests arrived.
Ron was the first of the Weasleys to fall out of the fireplace, and after he had congratulated Harry, the remaining members of his family followed.
Ginny gave Harry a hug which made him blush, Charlie and Bill both shook his hand heartily, while Ron excused Percy. Obviously, he was busy at the Ministry and could not postpone his work for the party. Next came Fred and George, and then the flames in the fireplace went out.
Remus' eyes widened.
"Where are Molly and Arthur?"
He had not realized that he had uttered this thought aloud, and in a shocked tone of voice, until Bill turned towards him.
"They said they're sorry to turn down the invitation, but Mom's sister was having some trouble with the Ministry, and she and Dad went to help sort it out. It's possible that they'll arrive later, but I don't think so. They haven't seen Aunt Becky in a long time, surely they'll want to spend the day catching up a little."
Remus nodded and did his best to keep his face from twisting into a pained expression.
Sirius Black was in his house.
Fred and George Weasley were here at the same time.
It would take only minutes until those three would start plotting.
And the only person who could control the twins, their mother, was miles away.
'He has grown up. Today will not end in chaos. It's just a party.'
The heralds of doom were holding a meeting in his intestines.
While all the guests were still grouping around Harry, handing out presents and telling him what he had missed during his weeks in muggle exile, Remus went back into the kitchen to take the cake out of the oven.
Inwardly he congratulated himself.
For the fact that he had neither had a wand nor the time to do lavish baking he had created a pretty good chocolate chip cake. Now all it needed was a bit of chocolate icing.
Remus quickly cooled the cake down with his wand and then applied the icing by magic. He could have finished the cake muggle-style, but he didn't want to leave Sirius and the twins alone for too long. Not if it could be avoided.
However, when he came into the living room again, he found the three sitting around the table, chatting animatedly with Harry. There was no sign indicating that Fred, George and Sirius had already realized the prankster possibilities of their combination.
'Grown up. No Chaos. Just a Party.'
Instantly, Remus felt a little better. Ha! Take that, heralds of doom!
Sirius' eyes grew wide as Remus put the cake onto the living room table, but a quick slap on his hand prevented him from chunking out a piece with his bare hands.
With a wave of his wand, Remus summoned plates and forks from the kitchen, followed by glasses and a large bottle of pumpkin juice.
Harry and his friends, including Bill and Charlie, were chatting animatedly, Fred and George were whispering ('Not good. Keep an eye on them') while Sirius seemed to be content just to focus on his cake. Suspicious behaviour. And, now that he took a closer look, Sirius was grinning.
Sirius was grinning.
The heralds of doom danced a round of can-can.
Remus ate his own piece of cake, all the while eying Sirius and the twins suspiciously. But, to his great astonishment, nothing happened while they were eating. Nothing.
'He has grown up. Today will not end in chaos. It's just a party.'
Remus had never believed in mantras before, but somehow repeating those words over and over again assured him that they could somehow, miraculously, come true. After all, the guests were here for more than half an hour now and nothing had happened.
"Harry, what's going on with Sirius and Professor
Harry looked up from his plate into the quite worried face of Ron. Hermione raised her eyebrows, but all Harry could do was shrug.
"I really don't know. Pro…Remus seems to be somewhat tense, ever since we arrived here this morning."
"Yes, and he's eying Sirius all the time. Do you
think the two are fighting?"
Again, Harry shrugged.
"I don't know. When we arrived, Remus dragged Sirius in the garden and I suppose he's been shouting at him because he put up a silencing charm. But I really can't tell you why."
Ron swallowed down his bite of chocolate cake.
"As long as he keeps on cooking as fabulous as that, I don't think anything's really wrong."
Hermione and Harry didn't look too convinced, but continued eating nevertheless. As long as they didn't know what was going on with Remus there was nothing they could do. And maybe they'd get to know in the course of the day.
Twenty minutes later, Remus stood in the kitchen and put the dirty dishes into the sink. He had watched Sirius and the twins all the time, and so far he had not noticed anything suspicious.
Which made him all the more uneasy. If there had been a prank or anything similar, Remus would know what he was dealing with. But there had been nothing. Nothing at all. Not knowing what would come and when it would come was beginning to drive him insane.
Because something would come, Remus knew that.
Scratching his head with his left hand, he once more opened the counter door and pulled out Odgeon's Firewhiskey. Just one more glass.
It didn't burn like the first one had done, but it warmed his stomach nevertheless. But the true reason why he actually possessed a bottle of whiskey and from time to time drank a glass of it was not his nerves (though with Sirius in the house one could never know), but his digestion. Another thing why he hated his wolf.
Canines didn't eat chocolate. It wasn't good for them, it made them sick.
So far, no problem. Remus wasn't really a canine, he was a wolf only once a month. But that seemed to be enough for his stomach to revolt whenever confronted with chocolate, no matter the moon phase.
And that was a problem.
Remus positively loved chocolate. Always had and always would. But he couldn't eat it as often as he liked. A couple of years ago he had found out that his stomach didn't revolt as much against the chocolate if he added a shot of whiskey or other liquor afterwards. And though he didn't like hard alcoholic drinks, it enabled him to dwell in his chocolate addiction from time to time.
Remus closed his eyes and leaned back against the
counter. He actually felt quite peaceful now. Somewhat light
headed, but nevertheless peaceful. Nothing had happened so far, what
made him think that it could not stay that way?
He knew Sirius, that's why.
And because something had just exploded in his living room.
Wand in hand, Remus stormed out of the kitchen and was greeted by a huge cloud of smoke.
"What in Merlin's name has happened here?"
Nobody answered his question, all he could hear were sounds that sounded like suppressed laughter. As the smoke cleared off, Remus saw Harry sitting on the sofa, a large box in his hands. His hair was standing up and his face and hands were covered in black and grey dust. As was the sofa.
His beloved, formerly light-blue coloured sofa.
His formerly favourite piece of furniture.
Which was now covered in soot.
Stained in black and grey.
Harry must have begun to unwrap his presents, and judged from the explosion it had been the twin's present that had blown up. It must have been. Their and Sirius' combined laughter was also a dead giveaway.
But before Remus could even think about scolding them, everybody else in the room joined into their laughter and nobody paid him any attention anymore.
The twins had had their first strike.
The games were declared open.
Trumpets accompanied the return of the heralds of doom.
Harry broke into a wide grin, his white teeth standing out in an extreme contrast to his black face.
"That was bloody brilliant!"
It hadn't been Harry who had exclaimed that.
It had been Sirius' voice.
'NO!' Remus inwardly screamed in despair.
'He's grown up. Today won't end in chaos. It's just a party.'
Somehow, now that Sirius had noticed the twins for what they were worth, his mantra didn't give Remus as much security as it had done before.
Remus raised his wand and performed a cleansing charm on Harry and the sofa. It seemed to work on Harry, his face was clean again within a heartbeat, but Remus couldn't help but notice that his sofa remained somewhat stained. And he was sure that its colour was a recognizable shade darker than it had been before.
He'd have to use a good strong scrubbing charm on it as soon as this party was over.
Parties were no good thing, he had known it right form the start.
While Harry's attention returned to the formerly exploding box, Remus' eyes fell onto the presents that already lay unpacked on the table.
There were dragonhide gloves ('surely from Charlie'), a practice set on curse-breaking ('could only be from Bill'), an emerald germ on a leather band ('just screams Ginny'), and a book on Parselmouths ('Hermione, now there's a safe bet'). Else, there was a small wooden box lying next to all the other presents, the words 'Practice Snitch – A Seeker never Sleeps' engraved in the top lid ('Quidditch – has to be from Ron then').
So far – so good.
But Remus was nowhere near relaxed as long as he didn't know what this mysterious exploding box given by the twins contained.
Harry's next words told him.
The heralds of doom were settling for a longer stay.
Remus spun around.
Samples? Samples of what? Whatever it was, as long as it was connected to the twins, Remus didn't trust it any farther than he could see. Not even that far, to be honest. During his time as a teacher at Hogwarts, Remus had had an unfortunate encounter with a canary cream, origin of the Weasley twins.
It had changed his opinion of canaries forever.
Not to mention his opinion of the twins.
It had been the worst ten minutes of his life, being a canary.
And, coming from somebody who went through the bone-breaking agony of a werewolf transformation twice a month, this meant something.
Remus was already on his feet, heading towards Harry with the sole intention to confiscate the box, when Sirius interrupted his plan.
He grabbed the box from Harry.
'Good Sirius. Take that box away from your godson
before it can do any harm. Very responsible of you.'
Sirius grinned like a child on Christmas day.
This was not good.
Cool? Cool, Sirius? This box is evil. Evil with a capital 'E'! It comes straight from hell! I'm sure it contains enough manipulated sweets to turn the population of Hogwarts into an army of educated rodents and small exotic birds! Even Voldemort would know better than to touch that box!
But Sirius obviously didn't share his friend's concerns, for he was already scanning the box for possibly useful contents. Remus felt the sudden urge to grab Sirius by the shoulders and shake some sense into him.
And he felt the need for another small shot of Odgeon's little flask of medicine.
Just as he was about to turn around and to head back into the safety of his kitchen, Sirius' voice once more made him stop.
"This one here is from Remus and me."
Remus turned around again just in time to see Sirius hand Harry a rather large box wrapped in dark blue paper. Well, at least he had had the decency to claim that the present came from both of them, especially since the whole party had come as some sort of surprise for Remus as well. He couldn't have bought a present in that short amount of time.
But why did those heralds of doom decide to do a little square dance right now?
He needed another shot. Soon.
Harry grinned at Sirius and him with sparkling eyes, then he grabbed the package and ripped open the blue paper. Something green came into sight. Clothing of some sort. Harry's eyes grew wider.
What he was holding, now that the wrapping paper had all but disappeared, was a set of training Quidditch robes.
Quidditch training gear of the Dublin Dragons.
Harry's eyes were wide in awe and he jumped off the sofa to hug Sirius around the waist.
"Thank you, thank you, thank you!"
Sirius grinned and returned the hug.
"Nothing to thank me for, kiddo. You definitely needed some decent training gear for next year."
Harry just grinned even wider and went over to Remus, hugging him equally enthusiastically in his gratitude.
"Thank you Remus."
Remus patted the boy's back somewhat awkwardly.
"You're welcome Harry."
Over Harry's shoulder, Remus glared daggers at Sirius. He positively detested the Dublin Dragons, Sirius knew that. They'd been fighting over who the best Quidditch team was too often to ever forget it.
Azkaban and Dementors for twelve years or not.
He definitely needed another shot of whiskey. Now.
His chance to leave the room came when Sirius asked the twins something about the 'samples' they had given to Harry. Remus definitely didn't want to hear this.
As fast as his feet would carry him (without making his 'tactical retreat' look like a 'flight'), Remus left the room and went into the kitchen.
He closed the door behind him.
He was safe.
Nothing could harm him here.
Then why did those blasted heralds of doom still see fit to hold their annual meeting in his stomach?
Not bothering to lock the bottle away again, after all who could tell when it would be needed again, Remus filled his shot-glass for the third time this day. Strangely, this time aiming for the glass proved to be a lot more difficult.
Earth Rotation was strangely strong today.
Bracing himself, Remus swallowed the shot and took one last look around his safe haven before he went back into the living room.
Someone needed to have an eye on Sirius and the twins. He arrived just in time to see Harry finish the unpacking. His presents lay on the coffee table in front of him, the wrapping paper was strewn all around the sofa and Harry had a very content smile on his face. Despite the still present feeling of impeding doom, Remus found himself smiling along with the boy.
Harry had earned a break, and though Remus still felt a little sore about the whole surprise and party thing, he was nevertheless glad that Sirius had managed to make the child smile again. He'd been through really enough to earn it.
Deciding that Sirius had earned a thankful smile, Remus turned around towards his old friend.
The smile died on Remus' lips.
Sirius was coming out of the corner of the room, and he held a plastic bag in his hand.
The plastic bag he had held when Harry and he had apparated into the house some hours ago.
The plastic bag he most definitely had not had when he had left the house in the morning.
The heralds of doom were handing out free booze.
Sirius handed Harry the plastic bag.
"Sorry, but I had not time to wrap it. It's a little surprise for you."
There it was again. The s-word.
Harry looked up with wide eyes.
"You don't have to give me another present, Sirius. Really."
Sirius just shook his head.
"But I want to. Besides, it's only meant to make you laugh now. I don't think you can keep it, but it came along as a nice opportunity for a surprise."
The inflationary use of the s-word in his house made Remus feel slightly nauseous.
Harry opened the bag and took a look inside, his mouth twisting into a grin.
He pulled out a rather large glass jar.
Remus took a closer look.
And immediately wished he hadn't. He needed another shot – now.
Inside of the glass jar were three people. Those were no gnomes or pixies, but real human beings. Shrunk but nevertheless human. A rather beefy looking man with a large moustache was staring up at him, while a long-necked, blond woman was cowering in front of something that somehow resembled a mixture of a pig, a human and a baby whale. With blond hair.
Mentally he compared the three people in the glass with the little information he had about Harry's muggle relatives.
This could not be coincidence.
Sirius had shrunk Harry's family and had put them into a glass jar.
And now this glass jar was in his, Remus', living room. Remus tried to think how he could possibly explain that to the Ministry, should they decide to show up now.
'He's grown up. Today will not end in chaos. It's just a party.'
Nope, didn't work anymore.
Scrap the idea with the mantra. He needed a drink now.
Not taking his eyes off the jar, Remus staggered backwards into the kitchen.
The remaining occupants of the living room didn't pay him any attention at all. They were crowding around Harry and his godfather who grinned smugly.
Fred said something along the lines of 'pickled relatives' to his twin who immediately scribbled something down into a notebook that had 'WWW' imprinted on the front. Ron watched the glass jar and commented on the tiny air holes Sirius had provided the Dursleys with, while Hermione said something about Rita Skeeter.
Remus didn't even want to know.
He was glad that he hadn't cleared away the bottle of Firewhiskey after the last shot, searching for it would have only put him even more on the edge now.
The Dursleys in a jar had definitely earned a shot of whiskey. Or two.
Wondering slightly when the bottle had become so heavy and the shot glass so hard to aim at, Remus pushed the small glass aside and took a normal sized water glass from the shelf. Filling a third of it with his amber saviour, Remus took the glass into both his hands and held tightly onto it as if it was the only thing keeping him upright.
Remus wouldn't bet on it being different at the moment.
He took a deep swig. And another.
Looking down at his hands after some moments, Remus wondered where all the whiskey had disappeared to.
Vaporization was a strange phenomenon, he decided.
He filled half of the glass again and – keeping his gaze fixed onto the door because his vision was suddenly slightly blurry around the edges – once more he made his way into the living room.
Harry and his friends were still bent over the jar, and from what Remus could see Ron was trying to make Mini-Dudley jump up by holding a wrapped toffee into the glass-prison.
Remus steadied himself on the wall with one hand, then he took a deep breath and stepped over to Sirius.
His friend looked at him somewhat strangely, his triumphant smirk vanishing as soon as he saw the dangerous glare on Remus' face.
"Shou. Me. Outside. Naow."
Remus blinked and shook his head, but his friend's face remained doubled in front of his eyes. His tongue felt too leaden to repeat his command.
With an exasperated sigh, Remus grabbed Sirius' hand and pulled him out of the backdoor. He slammed the door shut and this time didn't even bother to place a silencing spell on it. He'd not have remembered one in his present state anyway.
Waving a threatening finger up and down in front of Sirius' face (and having a near-miss with his friend's right eye), Remus searched for the right words.
"Shou…shou…shou're nah responsabl. Nahtatall."
Sirius' eyes widened and he quickly pulled back his head to once more evade a collision with Remus' finger.
"Remus, are you alright?"
Remus waved his hand around in a huge expressive gesture.
"'malright. But shou…shrinkin the kid's aunt'n'uncle…magic 'gainst muggles…could've gottn yaself caught…yah 'nuff trouble as it is, with da Ministry on yah trail…but NO! Mr. Serious Black has ter go shrinkin' muggles! Irres…irresp…nah responsibl. Tha's what ch'are."
Remus took another deep swig from the glass in his hand. The whiskey didn't burn its way down his throat anymore, it just left a warm trail in his throat and a fuzzy feeling in his stomach and head.
Remus giggled. He didn't know why, but it all felt so funny right then.
Sirius eyes his old friend in concern, then shot a suspicious glance at the glass in Remus' left hand.
"Remus, are you drunk?"
Disbelief was evident in Sirius' voice. Remus didn't drink, he didn't get drunk, especially not in broad daylight with the house full of kids.
Remus shook his head vigorously, a little more strongly than it would have been necessary. The movement made his head spin even more and he giggled again.
'Nah, 'mnot drunk. Notatall. Just had a glass or twoooo of this."
He took another deep swig and then waved his glass around for emphasis.
Sirius grabbed his wrist, pried his fingers away from the glass and then sniffed at its contents. Immediately, he drew his head back and his face twisted into a disgusted expression.
"Urgh, Remus! What's that? That stuff smells like disinfectant!"
Remus giggled again, something that slowly unnerved Sirius.
"Dis…disinfe...*snort* thas funny pafoot. It cleans shou from the inside. Thas Osh…osh…", waving his hand around again, Remus settled for the easier part of the brew's name.
"Since when do you drink Firewhiskey?"
Remus stuck out his lower lip.
"Sinsh when d'ya shrink muggles?
Alright, wad didya plan for da rest of da day?"
Sirius shot Remus another suspicious glance at this sudden change of topic, but then decided that even Remus' somewhat strange state couldn't darken his mood either.
"Game of Quidditch, that's what we agreed on. Hermione said she'd referee and Harry got that Snitch from Ron. Now all we need is something we could use as a Quaffle and Bludgers."
Remus' stomach jerked painfully at the thought of the Weasley twins and two Bludgers together in his back garden. Something about that image was just not right.
Destructive was the word that immediately came to his mind.
Sirius looked up sharply.
"You don't want to forbid Harry to play Quidditch, do you? It's his birthday, Moony."
Remus shook his head and once more couldn't help but giggle at the spinning sensation this invoke in his head.
"Nah, quiddidtsh is alright. But no bludgers, please."
Sirius raised an eyebrow, but then he grinned.
"You're right, more fun without bludgers. And I have a good idea what we can use for a Quaffle."
His blue eyes sparkled and before Remus could do something, Sirius had turned around and gone into the house again.
The heralds of doom were rehearsing Beethoven's 5th symphony.
Remus intended to walk after his friend as fast as he could, but Gravity and Earth Rotation seemed to be teaming up against him.
He entered the living room just in time to see Sirius place an unbreakable charm onto the jar with Harry's relatives.
With Fred's wand.
Someone had given Sirius Black a wand again.
Remus rolled his eyes and stared at the floor in defeat. He only hoped that Sirius had had enough common sense to place a cushion charm onto the inside of the jar as well.
Remus contemplated voicing this idea, but before he could even begin to struggle against the leaden weight on his tongue, Sirius had transfigured chairs into broomsticks for everybody and he, Harry and the guests had already vanished out of the backdoor.
Remus sighed and fell into an armchair.
Sirius had a wand again.
Sirius also had a knack for transfiguring things.
"He ish grohn up. Today willn't endin chaosh. Justa party."
Nope, his mantra had lost all its former power.
There was only one thing that could hold him upright at the moment.
Rowing in the air with his hand and feet for a moment, Remus waited until his personal balance was according to the Earth Rotation again, then he staggered back into the kitchen.
He now half-empty bottle of Odgeon's was still standing on the counter, in exactly the same spot he had left it.
Nobody had invaded his safe haven or touched his bottle of whiskey.
He poured himself another glass full.
This party could not last forever. They'd play some hours of Quidditch, have dinner, spend some more time the house and then one after another the guests would leave.
The twins being the first to go, if Remus had
any say in it.
The muggles would be restored to their normal size, a nice little memory charm added, and then everything would resume its normal course.
And he'd have a word or two with Dumbledore about sending him houseguests without asking for his consent.
He wondered when the old bat had received his last howler.
At that moment, somebody knocked on the front door.
Still chuckling slightly, Remus pushed himself off the counter and staggered forward. He stumbled over the rug in the hall, only catching his balance by spreading out his arms. As he realized what this had to look like, Remus laughed and ran circles around the hall, imitating airplane sounds with his mouth.
It appeared to be a very reasonable thing to do at that moment.
By the time Remus opened the door, his face was slightly flushed and he was panting a little. He was still grinning broadly as he ripped open the wooden door.
"Heeeeelooooooo dear guesht."
Remus found himself face to face with a glaring Severus Snape.
Remus' grin widened and, completely ignoring his former colleagues sour expression or the goblet Snape held in his hand, grabbed the other many by the arm and pulled him into the kitchen.
Locking the door behind them, Remus pressed a finger at his lips.
"Shhh, be quiet Sevvie, or they'll find us!"
The repeated use of the unwelcome endearment made Snape's expression harden even more.
"Don't call me 'Sevvie', Lupin."
"'kay Sev. Butcha have ter be quiet, or they'll find us."
"You're not to call me 'Sev' either, Lupin. And who are they?"
Remus looked around in panic, then he gestured into the general direction of the garden.
He scooted closer to Snape.
"Sirius and the evil twinsh."
Remus nodded vigorously, suppressing a giggle at the spinning sensation this once more caused.
"Yeah. Evil they are. Red-haired demonsh."
Realization dawned in Snape.
"The Weasley twins? Why would the Weasley twins be here?"
Remus gestured vaguely.
"Birthday. Itshis birthday. Shaknow…the boy…skinny,
black hair…scar…father's been my besht
Remus snapped his fingers.
"Thasit. Potter. Harry Potter. Youre a geniush, Sev. Itshihs birthday, ya know, and the evil twinsh are here. They all play quidditsh in the garden, with Harry's muggles as a Quaffle."
Snape drew his head back in disgust as he caught scent of Remus' breath.
"Lupin, you're drunk!"
Remus laughed and took another rather large swig from his glass.
"Funny thing, Sirius sshaid the same. You two agree on someshing."
"Oh what a joy!" Snape replied, his sarcasm completely lost on the drunk werewolf.
With a loud sigh, Snape took the goblet he had brought and levitated it on top of the upper shelf-board, out of harm's way.
"You shouldn't drink your Wolfsbane while being drunk. I've put a heating charm on it, drink it first think in the morning. I'll leave a note for Black, between the two mongrels that you are one of you might be bale to remember it.
Remus watched his former colleague levitation the goblet, and as this was done faced him with a brilliant smile.
"Thank you Sevvie!"
Snape rolled his eyes.
"Just make sure you drink it. I wouldn't want my hours of work to go wasted."
Whatever reaction Snape had expected, it surely had not been being knocked back by the impact of 165 pounds of werewolf that pulled him into a breath-taking hug.
"Thank you Sevvie. Ya' my only friend here."
Snape's eyes widened.
He was standing in Remus Lupin's kitchen.
Alone with Remus Lupin.
Whom he hated with a passion.
Who was as drunk as he had ever seen someone.
And who was hugging him.
Snape knew he had to do something against this, but he wasn't the most experienced person in the hug-department.
How did someone make a drunk
werewolf stop hugging oneself?
Awkwardly, he patted Remus' back.
Nope, this obviously didn't work. The werewolf was still clinging onto him.
"Lupin, if you don't let go immediately, I will kill you, understood?"
He tried to keep his voice every bit as menacing and dark as he meant it, but Remus only let go of the hug and grinned at him.
Well, at least this was an improvement, thanks Merlin for the old method of threatening people. It always worked.
"Yah' so funny Sevvie!"
The following pat on the back nearly knocked the air out of Snape.
"Alright, I've had enough of this. I'm leaving now, Lupin. I'll drop by tomorrow evening with the remaining dose of your Wolfsbane. See to it that you're sober by then."
And with a swirl of black robes, Snape apparated away.
Remus sighed and hopped onto the kitchen counter. Sevvie was a good friend, no doubt about that. A little grumpy at times, but underneath he had a heart of gold, Remus just knew this.
Crossing his legs underneath himself, Remus grabbed one of the small tarts that were lying next to his bottle of whiskey and popped it into his mouth.
Too late he realized that he hadn't placed any tarts there. They had definitely not lain there by the time he had left the kitchen to talk to Sirius.
Those were not his tarts.
And suddenly the kitchen seemed to be so huge.
Remus had never realized just how high the kitchen counter really was.
Something was not right here.
Remus raised a hand in front of his eyes. Or rather – a paw. Paw? Since when did he have paws?
This was not good.
Wondering slightly about the strange sensation of walking on four legs when it was not full moon outside, Remus hurried over towards the water kettle. The reflection that greeted him however, was not one of a forty-one year old man with a pale face and rings under his eyes.
No, what was looking back at him now was – a gerbil?
When had he become a gerbil?
Not that he didn't like it, on the contrary, the fuzzy fur and the fuzzy little tail felt rather nice, and he had to admit that, judged from his reflection, he made a cute little gerbil.
Remus giggled, only that no sound came out. Of course, gerbils didn't have vocal chords.
He only hoped that Minerva wouldn't drop by for a visit while he was being a small rodent.
Racing up and down the counter, Remus tested his four little legs for their speed.
This was different from being a canary, this was actually fun!
He'd have to thank the twins for that.
Then Remus remembered that gerbils could jump. Quite high, to be precise.
There was a shelf on each side of the counter, and Remus gathered speed in a dead run and jumped onto the top board of the shelf with all his might.
Huh, this was so much fun!
Then suddenly, the space he took seemed to become smaller and smaller. OhOh. Those gerbil tarts surely didn't last for more than ten minutes or so. And he was still sitting on top of his kitchen shelf. This was no good.
The shelf was not constructed to bear the weight of a fully grown man on top, so as soon as Remus had transformed back into his human self it collapsed under him with a sickening crash.
Remus found himself on the floor, covered in flour and tea bags.
The single lucid thought that he fortunately had not jumped onto the shelf with his Wolfsbane came to his mind. Oh, Sevvie would be furious if he had spilled the potion.
Remus pried the wooden boards and kitchen ingredients from his body and got up, dusting the flour off his shirt. A grin spread across his face.
"Now, where are those gerbil tarts?"
Later in the evening, Hermione and Ron made their way
towards the fireplace. They were the last guests to leave,
Ron's family had already gone some minutes ago.
Harry and Sirius were standing next to the fireplace while Remus was sleeping peacefully on the sofa, snoring contently in his sleep.
Ron shook Sirius' hand and patted Harry on the shoulder.
"Great party, mate. Thank you for organizing it, Sirius. Though I'd like to know what was wrong with Professor Lupin."
Sirius just shook his head.
"He's always somewhat strange so close to the full moon."
"Yeah, but eating all those gerbil tarts the twins placed in the kitchen? He really seemed to like them."
Sirius raised his hand.
"Don't ask. Please, don't ask. He's lucky that I didn't hit him with the broom when I first saw him running around the room. Really, whatever possessed him to do that…"
"Just do me a favour: If he wakes up, please ask him. The twins are also eager to know."
"I will, Ron. Believe me, I will. Good bye, you two."
"Good bye, Sirius. Bye Harry."
"Yeah, bye Ron, bye Hermione. Glad that you've come over, it's been a brilliant day."
His two friends smiled at him and then one after the other vanished through the fireplace to their respective homes.
"Alright Harry, do you think you'll find the guest-room on your own? I have to move that drunk sod over there to his bed."
"Sure. But what the heck was wrong with Remus today? Why did he drink so much? Let alone devastating the kitchen and changing into a gerbil at least ten times."
Sirius just shook his head again.
"I really don't know kiddo. But I'll surely have a word with him tomorrow. I just hope he'll have a good hangover to remind him of how childish he behaved today. Really, when I told him about the party he was so excited, and then he got himself pissed off like that. Sometimes I don't understand him. I really don't."
With this, he lifted Remus off the couch and started carrying him towards the staircase. Remus didn't even seem to realized that he was being moved, he merely continued snoring peacefully and drooled onto Sirius' shoulder.
On top of the staircase, Sirius bid Harry good night and then went into Remus' bedroom.
He dropped the oblivious and thoroughly drunk werewolf onto his bed and pulled the covers over his body.
"Really Remus, sometimes it's hard to believe that people considered you to be the most reasonable of the marauders."
With another shake of his head, Sirius left the room, leaving Remus to sleep off his intoxication.