Author's note: CW for emetophobia. Also… wow. Here we are. The end of book two! It's so amazing to be finishing up another book and heading into the third. Which, by the way, will be started today. The first chapter of book three should be up relatively soon so keep checking my profile for that.

Thank you so so much everyone, and I hope you enjoy Remus's third year!

/\/\/\/\/\

After Astronomy was over on Thursday night, the Marauders went to their dorm, waiting quietly in their beds for David and Spinnet to go to sleep. Soon after, the four of them crept out into the hallway where they disappeared under James's cloak. Since there were still some older students up, they couldn't really leave someone to open the entrance. All they could do was hope the Fat Lady would be there when they came back.

They all had to stifle their giggles as they snuck through the school, having to duck back a few times when Filch passed by. At one point Remus thought about James and Sirius getting stuck behind a statue and he had to stuff his fist in his mouth not to laugh. Finally, though, they reached the Great Hall. James had brought his broom and, while Peter and Remus hid under a table, James and Sirius used the broom to place the balloons in the rafters near the walls. Remus had enchanted the balloons to match the shadowy sort of color where the rafter met the wall. They also placed the two inst-trees.

"Part one done," James whispered when they returned to the floor.

"Not looking forward to part two," grumbled Peter as he and Remus ducked back under the cloak.

"You'll do fine," Sirius promised.

"Um." Remus froze, realizing something. "Shit!"

"What's wrong?" James asked.

Remus swallowed. "We c-can't do the distraction. Not the fireworks."

They all stared at him, uncomfortably close due to being under the cloak. "Why not?" Sirius asked.

Remus gestured vaguely towards the ceiling. "We can't risk knocking the balloons off early."

"Shit!" James swore, stomping his foot. "Merlin's beard! What do we do?"

"This mean I don't need to be a distraction?" Peter asked hopefully.

James shook his head. "No. We'll figure something out. Come on."

Their trip back through the school wasn't as exciting as the trip to the Great Hall. At least the Fat Lady was there, sleepily opening up to the disembodied voice giving out the password. When Remus reached his bed he thought he'd stay up to try to figure out a distraction, but within minutes he was sound asleep.

/\/\/\

The nightmares Remus had Thursday night weren't enough to drag him out of sleep, and he woke up semi-refreshed. At least, the best he could probably get under the circumstances. He hoped that the day would go well. That the prank would go well, though there was no way he was going to admit to his friends how concerned he was about his ability to do the spells.

James was in a very buoyant mood and as soon as they were alone walking down to the Great Hall he said he knew how to take care of the Great Hall. Or at least, he had an idea.

"Peruvian Instant Darkness Powder," he said.

"You've got some?" Sirius asked. "Mate, you never told me!"

James rubbed the back of his head. "Er, not—not exactly. I don't have any. My father, on the other hand, does."

"Not to sound like a dementor but your father isn't here," Peter said.

James gave him a smack. "No he's not. Which is why Sirius and I are going to skip Charms to sneak into Hogsmeade after Potions, so I can Floo home and get it!"

Remus let out a laugh. "What? You're going to what?"

"Dad'll lend it to me," James insisted. "He loves a good prank. So does Mum! I'll tell them we need it for a big prank!"

"You're—you're going to skip classes, then sneak into Hogsmeade—on our last day, no less—and simply Floo home?!" Remus hissed out, grabbing James's sleeve. "Are you mad?"

"If we had more time I'd use an owl, but we haven't more time," James protested. "Unless—unless I can find some in Hogsmeade."

"If we could find some in Hogsmeade I think we would have found it by now," Sirius said, jamming his hands in his pockets. "I'm all for skipping Charms. I'd prefer to skip Potions, though. Could we get there, you Floo home and Floo back, and get back before eleven?"

"Three hours?" James scrunched his face up. "Probably not. Unless we took my broom to Hogsmeade. We probably could then!"

"I don't think this is a good idea!" Remus protested.

"You're right, it isn't a good idea," James said, face splitting into a grin. "It's a bloody brilliant one!"

Peter held his hand up. "Question! Will you guys be able to do the spell on the floor properly in absolute darkness?"

Remus turned to James, arms folded. "I doubt we'll get it right, if we do that. We'll probably miss the aisles."

"Then what do we do?" James demanded, also folding his arms. "We need some sort of distraction!"

Remus chewed his nails, trying desperately to think. "The—the opposite. Not darkness, but light. The Solaris Potion. It can be made in two and a half hours… and we should have all the ingredients except for lightleaf, which—which Slughorn should have in his cupboard. It's common."

"We can't break into his cupboard," Peter pointed out. "We tried last year. 'Member? You guys got covered in paint."

"It should be unlocked for our lesson today," Remus said quickly, trying not to stumble over his words. "Slughorn said we would be working on a potion for our last lesson, so the cupboard should be open. One of you needs to pretend to be out of an ingredient in order to get into the cupboard, to get lightleaf."

"What does the potion do?" Sirius asked.

"Bright light, very bright light," Remus explained. "It should be almost blinding. Peter drops it—"

"I'm gonna get in so much trouble!" Peter moaned.

Sirius gripped his shoulder. "No detention, it's the final night. All that'll happen is you lose points. You also don't need to be anywhere special, just drop it. Right, Remus?"

"Right," Remus confirmed. "So you can say you had it for—for some other reason."

Peter shot him a glare. "Slughorn will kinda figure out I stole the ingredient!"

"Oh. Yeah."

"Yes 'oh yeah'!" Peter threw his hands in the air. "Not doing that—"

"Kim," Remus said, looking at Sirius. "You're still friends with her, right?"

"Yeah, we talk sometimes," Sirius said. "You think she'd have it?"

"There's a few potions in the textbook that use lightleaf in our fourth year," Remus said. "She might have it."

"All right, I'll ask her."

"You think this will work?" James asked.

Remus shrugged. "We don't exactly have very many options."

"This is becoming real complicated for one prank," Peter complained.

James reached over, rubbing Peter's head. "That's what makes it fun, Petey! The complications! Right. Sirius, go talk to Kim. And I'll skip Charms. Can I make the potion on my own?"

"Think so," Remus said, digging in his bag for his Potions book and flipping through. "It's a simple fourth year potion. You've made more complex ones in the past."

"Hope this works, Brains."

Remus closed his book. "Me too." He didn't add that he needed to figure out a way for them not to be blinded, but surely he could come up with something in time. Right?

/\/\/\

As it turned out, he didn't need to figure it out. When he told Lily the updated plan after Potions including the need for them not to be blinded, she gave a laugh before explaining that she had sunglasses. She had brought silly sunglasses back with her from the Easter holidays to share with Colgate and Inkwood. She could nick them for the prank, and they'd have three pairs. James's glasses were magicked to protect his eyes from bright light, so he wouldn't need them. It was perfect.

Maybe a little too perfect?

Remus was terrified something would go wrong. Everything seemed to be falling into place and he didn't trust that. Kim did have lightleaf left over which she gave to Sirius, and James and Sirius skipped Charms to make the potion. When Remus checked on them during lunch, the potion was going very well.

It's going to go wrong, it's bound to go wrong, he thought as he nervously ate lunch.

But things still went well as the day wore on. The Solaris potion was finished before History and Remus poured enough out into a large vial that should give them a good half hour of brightness. Peter nervously took the vial, looking very green as he did.

History crawled by at a snail's pace. Remus fidgeted a lot, worried Peter would somehow drop the vial during class even though it was wrapped in cloth and tucked carefully in his bag.

"What if Kim rats us out?" Pete asked after History. "What if she tells someone we had lightleaf?"

"So what if she does?" James put an arm across Peter's shoulders. "All that proves is we were behind the Solaris potion, not Operation Overgrowth."

As soon as they went into Transfiguration, McGonagall asked James and Sirius why they skipped Charms.

"I think we're charming enough, Professor," Sirius said with a wink.

McGonagall pinched the bridge of her nose. "Ten points from Gryffindor, not that it matters, we've lost anyway."

"Because of them," Twycross muttered as she brushed past them.

It was easier to pay attention in Transfiguration than it had been in History, probably since McGonagall was a million times more interesting a teacher than Binns. Remus did briefly slip into thinking about how much he'd miss her during the summer.

Lily was waiting for the Marauders after, bouncing on the balls of her feet as she chewed the end of one of her pigtails. They were all anxious about the time, even though the feast wasn't until six.

The five of them went straight to the Great Hall, which only had a couple of people there due to the beautiful weather outside. Peter muttered that maybe they shouldn't even use the potion, but Sirius pointed out two of the five people in there were Prefects, so it was better to be safe than sorry.

Lily handed out the sunglasses. Remus's were star-shaped and glittery. "Maybe these should be Sirius's, since they're star-shaped," he giggled.

Sirius elbowed him. "No, I like these." He showed his pair which were heart-shaped. Remus just giggled more. They put them on, posing for a photo then hurriedly removed them before anyone else could see them.

After about five or so minutes, Peter, who was sweating like nobody's business, stood up. The potion was in his pocket and he slid one trembling hand in as he walked to the door. Just as he left he lobbed the vial as far as he could. There was a faint shattering sound then Remus couldn't see anything. He quickly put the sunglasses on, diving under the table. The table didn't prove any protection which was good since that meant if anyone else tried, they wouldn't stay under there. The sunglasses did help. Some.

"Moratempium!" Remus crawled along the table, wand out as he drew a faint line along the middle of the aisle between the Gryffindor table and the wall. It was hard to see but he managed. Behind him Lily, James, and Sirius were all following him, doing the plant spell. There was a shuffle at the end and they went back the way they came, Remus then putting another moratempium spell down while the others put the engorgement spell on. Then another shuffle and they repeated the process between the Gryffindor table and the Hufflepuff table.

It took longer than any of them expected going up and down each table so many times, and by the time they were on the last table, the Solaris spell was beginning to fade. They finished off the last of the spells between the Slytherin table and the wall then just barely managed to add some at either end of the Great Hall before the potion faded completely. They knew there were other people in the room, and as soon as they finished they bolted out of the room, going into the side room, hoping nobody was there. Thankfully it was empty and, after Sirius peeked out the other door to make sure the coast was clear, they slipped out.

"Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God!"

"You okay?" Sirius asked.

Lily fell against the wall, covering her mouth as she giggled. "No. Yes. That was so fun! I feel so sick. Is that normal?"

"Sometimes," Remus promised.

"Now… we wait," James said, a bit breathlessly.

Waiting, to Remus, seemed like a good idea. He slid down to the floor, head in hands, hardly hearing his friends asking if he was okay; he promised he was, but he felt so weak. All the spells had taken a lot out of him and he didn't think he'd be able to do much of anything for the rest of the night.

He slumped down even more, growing dizzy and breathless.

"Come on." Sirius helped him up, sliding an arm around his waist. "It's over an hour until the feast, why don't you go rest."

Remus just nodded, too tired to argue. His friends helped him to the dorm where he collapsed into bed, drifting off before he could even get under the covers.

/\/\/\

The Great Hall was decked out in Ravenclaw's colors for their victory. When Remus went in, he nervously glanced up at the rafters, hoping putting the banners up hadn't alerted the teachers… but no, the balloons were still in place.

Dumbledore began his end-of-year speech, congratulating the Ravenclaws on their victory. Remus squirmed a little, crossing his fingers under the table he had done the timing right. Please, he thought rather wearily. What if the spells simply… didn't go off? Or went off in the middle of the night?

Then, just as Dumbledore was finishing up, there were squeals and shrieks as plants began popping up all up and down the aisles and around the edges of the Great Hall. The Marauders and Lily used this as the signal. James, Sirius, and Lily discreetly shot spells up into the rafter, popping the plant balloons. Liquid splashed and drizzled down the walls, leaving vines and other creeping sort of plants in its path. They began spreading rather quickly though kept to the walls.

"What's going on?" "What's with the plants?" "Where did they come from?"

There was confusion throughout the Great Hall, along with mild interest. Several students were leaning over to look at the flowers, mushrooms, and toadstools. Then, after James knocked over both the insta-trees, there were shouts when bam! Two big oak trees appeared. One near the doorway, one sort of near the High Table. More murmurs, and McGonagall was glancing at the Marauders.

"Time for the fun part," James whispered.

Then it was like a muffled explosion went off. There were screams now, shrieks of concern and fear as all the plants suddenly grew enormous. Suddenly, the regular-sized flowers were towering over the tables. The mushrooms were almost like enormous pavilions, their undersides like great big sheets hung together. Then something else happened Remus hadn't anticipated: the engorgement charm also hit the two trees. They burst upward, going clear up to the ceiling, the branches and leaves spreading across the entire Great Hall, creating a canopy of green.

The balloons with the swelling solution were broken and they splashed down, making the plants on the wall grow to enormous sizes. There were some shelves of mushrooms which became like huge stairs. The vines became almost out of control, too big to stay on the walls, and they flopped about like huge, leafy snakes.

Then Remus and Lily shot out the illusion spells. Remus could feel it sucking what little energy he had left out, and as soon as the spell finished he slumped down in his seat. It took a lot of effort not to fall over—effort he didn't really have. Peter quickly put a hand on his back, helping hold him up.

But it was worth it. Giant dragonflies and oversized butterflies began flying around the Great Hall. It was obvious they weren't real, as the wings drifted through the floating candles and banners without bothering them. Still, there were more screams at the sight of the insects. There was a great big wriggly caterpillar twice the size of a human on one of the tree branches, and a spider that rivaled the decorations at Halloween climbing up one wall. There was a faint buzzing sound coming from three or four honeybees as big as armchairs. A slug the size of a carriage began slithering along the edge of the room.

The Great Hall had become a jungle.

"Merlin," Sirius whispered in slight awe.

Remus clutched the side of the table as the world began tilting around him. His head pulsed and he thought he might throw up. He leaned forward, taking in slow, careful breaths. He couldn't pass out. Then the teachers would know.

"Remus?" Peter asked.

"Be fine," he croaked out, shaking a bit. "Merlin. Christ. No." He grit his teeth. "Water." He didn't think he could even pick a glass up. Peter picked up his cup for him, pressing it against his lips. Remus hoped the teachers weren't looking though he suspected McGonagall probably was. He gladly sucked in some of the cold water which helped a bit. "Th—thank you…"

"You don't look well," Sirius said.

"Don't f-feel well. Too much. Shit. Don't… don't… oh Merlin…"

"Even with Red?" James asked. "I thought that was the point of getting her to help!"

Remus shook his head, not wanting to explain it was the moratempium spells that had done it. They had drained him earlier then using the illusion spells tipped him over the edge. "I'll be fine." He took in a deep breath then felt good enough to pick up his glass himself. He chanced a glance at the High Table. McGonagall was talking to Dumbledore. Hopefully she hadn't seen Peter helping him.

There was an ear-piercing scream of horror as the caterpillar fell off its branch, plummeting to the ground. Students leapt off of the benches, tripping over the four feet tall blades of grass and knocking into the even taller flowers. One person smacked into a dandelion whose head was full of seeds; it knocked some of the seeds free, sending foot-long dandelion seeds drifting through the air.

The caterpillar, of course, went right through the table. When it didn't reappear, Remus figured it went clear through the floor. It was probably in the dungeons. Hopefully in the Slytherin dorms, where they'd find it later.

Dumbledore shot off a few fireworks to get everyone's attention. Considering the fact the view of him from the Gryffindor table was blocked by a large toadstool, it was a little difficult.

"I'm not quite sure what happened," Dumbledore said in a voice that clearly meant he knew exactly what happened, "but it seems that there is no immediate danger. Nothing is poisonous, nor are the insects and spiders real. Considering it would take a long time to remove everything I feel it's best for us to continue on with the feast." He clapped his hands and food appeared across the tables.

"We have to eat with all these plants around?" someone complained.

"It's like a picnic," someone else suggested.

"Ew," said the first person.

"Shit," Remus whispered, seeing McGonagall coming around the high table. He gripped his wand in his pocket. "Locomotor paper!" He moved the crumpled ball of paper in his pocket half an inch then took his hand out of his pocket. Even doing that felt like he had been punched in the chest, all life inside of him yanked out. It was going to be a test of willpower to appear normal. The knockback jinx coming from James and Sirius's wands shouldn't be too bad, at least. That is, if McGonagall was doing what Remus guessed she might be doing.

Sure enough she wanted to see their wands. She frowned at the knockback jinx that their wands revealed, giving them vaguely suspicious looks. Then she wanted to check Remus's wand. It revealed he had used the locomotion spell.

"Hmm." She gave them all a wary look. "Mr. Lupin, you don't look well."

Remus gave her a shaky smile. "I've had a rough week." It definitely wasn't a lie, and McGonagall knew it. "I've b-been having more nightmares than usual. That's all."

"You look worse than you did in class today," she remarked.

Remus gave a shrug. "I was practicing spells in my dorm. It took a lot out of me."

She pressed her lips thin. "I see." She returned to the High Table and the Marauders exchanged high fives under the table.

"She didn't check my wand," Peter said as he got food. "I mean, it makes sense, but also I'm a little offended by that."

It was so strange eating in the Great Hall with all the plants. It certainly felt like eating in a jungle. Occasionally, there would be yelps as the insects got close to students. The Marauders ducked when one of the dragonflies buzzed over their table. Even Remus, who had made the illusion, instinctively ducked.

"You're so talented," James whispered.

"That—that was probably Lily's," Remus responded, blushing.

He also spent as much time as he dared simply sitting there without moving, trying to get some energy back.

Finally, the feast was over. Dessert was long gone and bellies were very full. Dumbledore said a few more words about how bittersweet the end of the year was, congratulated the seventh years on their graduations, and then told everyone to have a good night.

It was… very awkward, trying to get out of the Great Hall. There wasn't much room because of the plants, and many students tripped over things on the ground. Remus bumped into a flower and got a shower of pollen on him, which caused someone behind him to start sneezing violently. Remus picked the pollen spores off which were the size of snitches.

Most of the students made it clear that they blamed the Marauders, though it wasn't the usual wall of hate and anger. More than a few congratulated them, and several even asked how they did it. James and Sirius feigned ignorance, of course, but when a seventh year Ravenclaw infamous for being one of the smartest students in the entire school told them she thought it was 'bloody brilliant' and 'an incredible display of talent', Remus thought he might melt into a puddle and seep right into the floor. Though all he had really done was the delaying spell, so maybe he shouldn't take that to heart.

"Mr. Black, could you wait a moment?" McGonagall called, and the Marauders hesitated, turning to see McGonagall with Bertha Jorkins, an older Gryffindor who loved to gossip. She had a smile on her face that looked like a toad. "Mr. Black. Miss Jorkins tells me she overheard you asking Miss Kim for some lightleaf today."

Sirius shifted from foot to foot. "Yeah, we made a Solaris potion," he said.

McGonagall raised her eyebrows. "The one that went off in the Great Hall a few hours ago?"

"Yes…"

James stepped forward. "That was going to be our prank tonight," he explained. "The Solaris potion."

McGonagall eyed them both. "How come you did not get lightleaf before the day of?"

"We did," James said. "I messed up making the potion the first time we made it. We were unable to get lightleaf again until today."

"Is that why you skipped Charms?"

"Yes," James admitted.

"So the Solaris potion was only intended to be used as a prank tonight," she said carefully. "And it was not used as some sort of distraction as you set the spells up for… this?" She motioned towards the plants.

"Professor," James said humbly, "I would love to take credit for this, if you intend to give it."

McGonagall stared into his eyes then at Sirius and then, momentarily, at Remus. Then back to James. "Have a good summer holiday, Mr. Potter. Mr. Black. Mr. Lupin. Mr. Pettigrew." She nodded at each of them and turned back to Jorkins, who didn't look too pleased that her gossip had turned sour.

/\/\/\

The Marauders spent the next two hours blasting music while Remus packed and the others sort've packed. He kept telling them to please pack, pointing out if they left it till tomorrow they'd probably be late for the train. That at least got them to do some. Mostly they jumped around, very hyper about everything. Then James suggested they go outside. It was almost sunset, nearly two hours after their curfew, but James pleaded with Remus until he gave in. They wouldn't get into any real trouble anyway.

The four of them snuck out of the common room, not that anyone tried to stop them, and made their way through the castle. A Prefect spotted them, but didn't bother calling after them or even stopping them. It was the last night. Nobody cared.

The sky was ablaze with oranges and pinks, casting a beautiful glow across the lake. There were older students out and about, and they all ignored the Marauders too.

The four of them made their way around the lake, nearly going into the Forbidden Forest but staying on Hogwarts grounds. There James flopped onto his back and the others followed suit. They lay with their heads close together, their bodies stretched out in opposite directions, forming a large plus sign.

Sirius lifted his wand, sending out sparks. "Since we don't have fireworks with us," he explained and the others did the same, filling the air above them with various colors of sparks as the sun sank and the other stars twinkled into appearance.

"That was one cool prank," James said when they got bored of shooting sparks.

"Can't believe that Ravenclaw complimented us," giggled Peter. "Complimented Remus, really."

"No, we all added to it," Remus said, staring up at the darkening sky. "It was all of us. And Lily."

"She's not too bad," Sirius said.

James sat upright. "No, she's worse than that!" he exclaimed and then began making fake sick sounds. "She's disgusting! And awful! And horrible! And—"

"Yes, James, we get it," Sirius moaned. "You hate her." James settled back down. "But… but what if she and Remus start dating?"

Now Remus sat up. "Sirius!"

"What?" he asked innocently. "You two would make a great couple."

"No, we would not! She's my friend!" Remus glared at him then slowly lay back down. "I've asked you before to not tease about that. I don't like it."

"If you do start dating her—"

"JAMES!"

James held up his hand. "Let me talk! If you do, I'll… do my best to you know… stand her. Deal with her. Maybe not put maggots in her bra. If she ever wears a bra."

"I think if anyone starts dating first, it's gonna be Sirius and Cassandra," Peter said.

"Maybe," Sirius said in a distant sort of voice.

"Ugh," James complained. "Can we not talk about dating?"

"I agree," Remus said before anyone else could speak up.

Peter propped himself up on his elbows. "It's gonna be weird, though, isn't it?"

"What, dating?" Sirius asked.

"Yeah. I mean. Us dating. Having girlfriends. What if…"

"What if what?" James asked when Peter trailed off.

Peter lay back down. "I dunno. What if it… changes things?"

Nobody spoke for a long time at that. Remus stared at the stars above him, feeling sick. Feeling like he was on the precipice of something. Change. They were bound to start dating sooner or later. That would change things. What if the others started feeling like girlfriends were more important? Remus knew that happened to a lot of friendships. Hadn't McGonagall even told him about that happening to her? Losing a friend when her friend started dating?

"That happens, doesn't it?" Remus blurted out, and nobody spoke. Suddenly he wanted to cry.

"Guys," James whispered. There was the sound of movement and then Sirius took hold of Remus's hand. On his other side Peter was feeling for Remus's hand so he reached out, taking it. They were all holding hands now, which James had initiated. "Promise me," James continued. "Promise me that no matter what, we'll still be the Marauders. No matter what. Girlfriends or—or school or Quidditch or being Prefect or—or—or whatever else happens. Not just school. Even after graduation. I don't want to… be one of those people who graduates and then loses contact with his best friends. With you guys. In five years, ten, twenty, a hundred—promise me, we'll always be the Marauders. No matter what."

"No matter what," Sirius said, squeezing Remus's hand.

Remus squeezed back and squeezed Peter's hand. "No matter what."

"No matter what," said Peter, squeezing.

"All for one—"

"One for all—"

"And four to the end!" they all chorused, breaking into laughter, not letting go of one another.

/\/\/\

Remus felt sad as he packed away the last of everything. It was Saturday morning, and they were going home. He tried not to let the tears spill out as he put his blanket in his trunk, the last thing needed. Then he checked under his bed, in the wardrobe, all his drawers, making sure he didn't miss anything.

The other Marauders were, of course, panicking as they packed. The four of them had stayed up till nearly four in the morning and it was now nine-thirty. The train would be leaving in an hour and a half. Remus helped them pack, biting back the 'I-told-you-so's. Once all four trunks and all their satchels were packed, they went to the owlery to get their owls, then dragged everything down into the entrance hall where hundreds of trunks and cages were waiting. Some students were already taking their things to the carriages.

The Marauders darted into the Great Hall to cram food into their satchels before taking their own things to a carriage. It was half an hour before the train was to leave at this point but they left anyway, James wanting to make sure they had their own compartment.

"Remy, help me?" Peter asked, hauling his trunk off the carriage.

"Why not me?" Sirius asked, since usually he was the one who helped get trunks onto the train.

"Remy's stronger," Peter said, sticking his tongue out at him. "You're… unnecessary now. Is that a good word?"

"Redundant," Remus offered, grinning as he picked up one side of Peter's trunk easily. "It's true, you know, I could carry all four by myself."

Sirius blew a raspberry and tried to pick up his own trunk by himself. He yelped and fell back, the trunk bursting open and shirts flying out. Remus dropped Peter's trunk, laughing so hard he started choking.

Soon the trunks were in the luggage compartment, the owls were in the pet compartment, and the Marauders were in their own compartment with a 'Do Not Enter' sign on the door. That didn't stop people from coming in after the train started its journey south. At various points all the Quidditch team members popped in to say goodbye to James. Charles Litten, a now-graduated Chaser, even yanked James in for a noogie, telling him he was very happy and honored to have been able to play at least a year with James.

"1975, I'm calling it," Litten said as he paused in the doorway. "You'll be the new Captain, no doubt."

James's beam was so bright Remus thought it rivaled the Solaris potion.

When Kim came in she gave James a hug then also hugged Sirius, making him promise to write over the summer, which Sirius did. As she left she bumped into Lily who was trying to come in with Colgate and Inkwood.

"Sorry," Kim giggled, patting Lily's shoulder.

"It's as much my fault," Lily promised, staring after Kim with rather wide eyes. "You know," she remarked as she wedged herself between Sirius and Remus, "I don't think I've ever seen her in casual clothes. She looks so different. I almost didn't recognize her."

"Lily, you look so d-d-different!" Remus said, staring in disbelief.

Her hair had grown overnight. It now went clear down to her knees in the longest ponytail Remus had ever seen.

Lily grinned. "Mum said I needed long hair, remember? She threw a fit over my twiggy hairstyle. Well. Now I have long hair."

Remus's side of the seating became crowded as Inkwood sat on Sirius's other side. Colgate, at least, sat next to Peter. The seven of them talked for a while and played a couple rounds of Wild Adventures until Remus excused himself, wanting to go find Aegis. He was in a compartment with his cousin and her friends. He brightened when he saw Remus and gladly stepped out into the corridor to talk.

They talked for a while, talking about summer plans (neither of them really had any) as well as excitement over their third year. Aegis asked if perhaps they could meet up in Diagon Alley after they got their lists, and Remus lied, saying he'd certainly try to convince his parents to go in on whatever day Aegis was going in. Then he casually said he wasn't entirely sure if they would go into Diagon Alley or not, as Remus got a lot of his things secondhand. He also pointed out that it also depended on his health, and his mother's health. Aegis nodded, understanding this.

They talked a bit longer then said their goodbyes. Remus went back to the compartment just in time to help break up a rather vicious argument between James and Lily. Both were sending hexes at each other. After that Lily left the compartment, dragging Remus with her so she could hug him, giving him a proper goodbye. Like Aegis, she suggested they try to meet up in Diagon Alley. He said essentially the same thing in response.

The girls disappeared down the corridor, Lily's long ponytail swishing as she went. Remus slipped back into the compartment, wanting to know why they were fighting this time. Apparently Lily had accused James of cheating in Wild Adventures and he hadn't taken too kindly to that.

The rest of the trip was just the Marauders, their happiness fading as the day wore on. None of them were smiling when the Hogwarts Express entered London.

"Two months," sighed James when the train pulled into the station. He got up, hugging Remus tightly. "Stay safe, Remy, and write to me as much as you can." Then he hugged Peter. "I'll see you in a couple weeks." Then he turned and wrapped his arms around Sirius, the two of them clinging to each other for almost two minutes. They didn't say anything to one another.

Remus and Peter hugged, exchanging their goodbyes and promises to write, then Peter and Sirius hugged. Finally Remus and Sirius hugged.

"Be careful," Remus couldn't help but say.

"Always," laughed Sirius, tousling Remus's hair. "Same as James. Write to me loads, yeah?"

"I will."

Remus waited in the compartment, glancing out the window as his friends got off the train. James to his parents who smothered him in kisses and hugs, Peter to his parents both of whom hugged and kissed him, and Sirius to his mother who looked like she'd rather jump in front of the train than be there.

Then, "LILY! JUNE! EVANS!" was heard across the entire platform as Lily approached her parents. Remus couldn't hear anything else from them, but Mrs. Evans didn't look pleased at Lily's hair, while Lily looked very pleased at her mother's annoyance.

Remus shifted his gaze, seeing his mother watching, waiting. Sighing, he got his things and got off the train. "Mum!" he called out.

Hope smiled and ran over. "Baby!" She slipped her arms around him, holding him tightly against him. "I missed you so much. Remus, darling, it's so good to see you. Oh, I missed you!" She kissed him multiple times on his head and face, then helped get his trunk onto a trolley. "Let's go home, sweetheart."

Remus glanced at Sirius being dragged off to the Apparition platform with Regulus following at a slight distance, of Peter practically skipping next to his parents, and at James who was holding both his parents' hands as they left.

His mother squeezed his shoulder, obviously trying to be loving but it just sent an uncomfortable shiver down his spine.

"Yeah," Remus said, picking up Arthur's cage, missing his friends and Hogwarts already. "Home."