Sirius' Cure For Wedding Nerves

Part Two

Notes: It took a year, but here it is. There will probably be more. Maybe sometime in 2005. Until then, enjoy.

It wasn't that Lily Evans-Soon-To-Be-Potter didn't have any girlfriends of her own. In fact, she had a lot of friends, but none of them were what she would consider to be a best friend. They were of the painting nails and performing makeovers and being somewhere else when you were genuinely upset variety, and she couldn't think of a single one she wanted to take with her when she picked out her wedding dress. Fortunately, this wasn't a problem because she knew exactly who she loved and trusted enough to award this honour to. A girl's husband's best friend's lover can be invaluable at certain times, and this was one of them.

Remus, apparently, was good at this sort of thing. He had the wolf's instinct to know what was right, and Lily knew that when she put on the wedding dress, the one she was meant to be married in, Remus would know instantly. Whereas Remus wasn't so confident. He sat quietly and nervously on a bench outside the fitting rooms, wondering what the hell he was meant to say or do when Lily came out. He knew nothing about fashion in general and dresses in particular. Sirius took great pleasure in making fun of Remus' dress sense, which for the most part was non-existent. He dressed solely in jeans and sweaters, occasionally venturing into the tight-sweater department when he was feeling particularly adventurous. He wasn't sure where Lily had got the notion that he had a nose for fashion. As a werewolf, he was sensitive to potential threats and could usually predict the weather, but these were very basic animal instincts which any old human had the chance of inheriting from somewhere deep in the murky depths of the gene pool. Wedding Dress intuition had never been a survival trait at any point in the evolution of either wolf or mankind, and therefore was not something Remus was altogether comfortable with. Nonetheless, Lily had seemed keen to bring him along, so along he went. James and Sirius had found the idea amusing right up until the point where Lily and Remus gave them a joint glare.

The wedding dress shop was very small, and it was swarming with very small women. Remus, who was a little over six feet tall, felt extremely out of place. He sat with his knees hunched up on a little bench outside the changing rooms, staring at his own reflection. He didn't have much choice in this matter, because everywhere he looked, there he was, staring nervously back at himself from each of the several dozen full-length mirrors arranged around the tiny room. He didn't like mirrors and felt quite unnerved, like a man who's never seen another human being before in his life, and suddenly happens upon an entire city full. Only this was a city of Remus Lupins, all raising their eyebrows at him and fidgeting uneasily under his gaze. The nearest Remus seemed to have ideas of its own though.

"You could do something with your hair, you know," it told him. Remus gave it a polite stare. It shrugged and carried on. "I mean, it's all over the place. You could at least style it a little. You can't have long hair and not tend to it. . ."

Remus tried to ignore himself, and glared at the little infinity mirror which had been created by mirrors to the left and right, with him in the middle. Reflections of reflections of reflections curved off into innumerable dimensions, each of which now contained a little slice of his soul. For some reason he was uncomfortable with this.

"No," he said suddenly. Behind him, Lily's brow furrowed. He turned and shrugged at her; she had emerged from the changing room behind him, dressed in something long and made from red satin.

"No?" she asked. "How can you say no before you've seen it?"

He smiled awkwardly. "I can smell your anxiety. You aren't sure about it, and when you find the right one, you will be."

Lily seemed to ignore him and stood in front of a large silver-framed mirror. She twirled, the skirts of the dress billowing elegantly, then she steadied herself gracefully.

"It's a nice dress, Remus."

"You don't like it."

"What do you think?"

He was reluctant to give his opinion on someone else's potential marital wear, but eventually he admitted, "red is an awful colour for a wedding dress."

"I suppose it is." She vanished again, accompanied by a pair of women even smaller than her and a rack of white, ivory and occasional brightly coloured gowns. Remus leaned back against the wall, depriving several thousand alternate dimensions of all but his knees, and waited patiently. A plump witch suddenly came to his attention, watching him from behind a counter he had not previously noticed.

"Best man?" she asked.

Remus shook his head. "Boyfriend of the best man, actually." He had been getting better at admitting to this since coming out to his parents last year. He was learning to take pride in who he was, helped in no small part by Lily herself. Sirius, he had to admit, was often more of a hindrance, but could at times – all the vital times – be the most considerate, devoted, adoring lover anyone could hope for. The most important thing was that Remus loved Sirius completely, and he knew he had to learn to be able to tell people.

"Oh," said the witch, suddenly losing all interest in whatever conversation she had been trying to hold with him.

Lily reappeared. This time she looked like a meringue. The sleeves were puffy, the skirt was puffy, and everything in between somehow managed to be puffy. Even worse, there were traces of lace.

"You want honesty?" Remus asked.

"Yes please."

"No one's father should be expected to escort that dress down the aisle. Ever."

She grinned at him. "See? I told you you'd be good at this."

The next one was pink; Remus pretended to be sick. The one after that was nice but plain, and if Remus knew James Potter, then he knew that this wedding was going to be anything but plain. Finally, she stepped out of the changing room wearing something Remus could only describe as stunning. It wasn't anything about the dress which was good; the entire combination of gown and woman was where the magic lay. The dress was white and long- sleeved, with a sash and a train. It was for all intents and purposes a usual wedding dress, but there was something unique about it. Like wands the dress chooses the woman, and this one had chosen Lily. Remus nodded just the once, and Lily beamed.

"You were right; I knew it. It's perfect."

. . .

Meanwhile, Sirius was watching James panic. It was quite an interesting thing to watch because of its sheer complexity. James went through several stages of panic. The first was the basic biting of nails and flapping of assorted limbs. This was when Sirius began to get interested. Up until then the two of them had simply been sitting in James' living room doing nothing in particular. And then for no fathomable reason, the flapping had started. James did not panic often, and Sirius had quickly got the popcorn ready; it was going to be a good show.

After the flapping came the whinging and whining. Sirius liked this bit. This was where James lay dramatically on couches or clung to people and wailed about the state of the world in general, or any specific little bits he currently had major issues with. Currently he was wailing about marriage.

"It's all manacles and shackles and heavy iron balls!"

Sirius tried not to snigger.

"I've read things! It ruins you! Sirius, you have no idea! I'm going to die, this is the end!" James threw himself at Sirius and clung pathetically to his robes. "Hold me!"

Sirius patted his best friend as he continued to rant.

"I should make a will . . . Yes, I should. I'll never survive this marriage thing. It's going to be bad. Very bad. I'll turn into a musty old house husband and wither away, forgotten by the world!"

Sirius nodded sympathetically. "Can I have your collection of Quidditch magazines?"

James shook his head. "Remus has first dibs on them."

Next came the binge eating. James was a seasoned binge eater, and he was very good at it. He never gained weight, and he ate exactly what he pleased. When he was panicking, he pleased to eat rather a lot. Sirius watched with interest as James made a pile of cauldron cakes on the table, but he knew better than to try to take one when James wasn't looking. As he finished making his heap, he continued to rant.

"I must be insane, Sirius! Where did I get this crazy-arsed idea from?"

"Maybe it was inspired by your eternal love for and devotion to Lily?"

James stared at him. "What's that got to do with it?"

"Well isn't that why you asked her to marry you?"

"No, I did that because I thought she wanted me to."

Sirius was not, as has been pointed out before, even nearly as simple as he appeared on the surface. "Exactly," he said. "You'd do anything for her, wouldn't you? Even get married. And that proves your eternal. . whatever I said before."

"Love and devotion," said James, who knew it all made perfect sense despite having its origins in Sirius' mind.

"Doubts are perfectly normal," said Sirius, adopting what James and Remus called his Freud face, only for different reasons. "Every married couple experiences them, even . . ." he tried to think of a married couple. "My parents."

"I do NOT want us to end up like your parents!" wailed James.

"Oh, we won't," said Sirius, "but you and Lily might."

James glared daggers at him. "I'm doomed," he said simply.

"Yeah," said Sirius. "So is that cake."

"What cake?"

"That one." Sirius nodded towards the table, just as something small and grey leaped from the ground, snatched up a cauldron cake, and without pausing or even slowing vanished under the sofa to devour its prize.

"We saw that, Peter," snapped James, leaping off the couch and pushing it over with one hand. Sirius toppled off it backwards, and the rat beneath it gazed innocently up at James. There were crumbs on its whiskers. It twitched them endearingly.

"You ate my cake," said James, despair edging his voice.

"You've got more," said Sirius, clambering to his feet.

"But . . . it was one of my Distressed Cakes."

Peter quickly transformed back into a rather chubby young man and looked suitably ashamed of himself. "Sorry, James. Why are you distressed?"

James put the couch back and Sirius took his seat again. Peter joined them.

"It's because he's getting married," Sirius supplied.

"Aren't you happy about that?" asked Peter, frowning.

"Mmrph mmm mrrr," said James, spraying cake crumbs at him.

Sirius translated. "He said of course he is, but if something's not worth panicking about it can't really be that important."

"Yes, I heard."

They sat there for some time, occasionally risking their personal wellbeing in an attempt to steal a cake, only to get their hands slapped away by James. After a while James decided the best way of relieving tension was not eating cake, but throwing it at the wall. Sirius happened to agree with this theory and Peter wasn't in the mood to argue.

. . .

Afterwards, lily and Remus strolled along Diagon Alley together, Lily talking excitedly about her hopes for the future, and Remus simply listening. Occasionally one would stop and drag the other into a shop where they would acquire a bag or two, then they set off again along the winding street. Lily was a small lady who made Remus feel gangling and awkward when they were simply stood side-by-side, but when she walked and talked with him like this, she somehow made him relaxed and carefree.

They had been friends for a long time. Back in the days when James' favourite game was taunting Lily and hers was proving him wrong, Remus had been a trusted confidante of hers and she of him. She was the one he had told when he was confused about his feelings for Sirius, and in return he had listened to her pour her heart out every time James upset her. He understood exactly why Lily had invited him to join her today; he was more like family to her than her own spiteful, jealous muggle sister, a fact of which he was rather proud.

Eventually Lily emerged from Miss Mildred's, a witches' clothes shop, with Remus trailing behind her and more than relieved to be out of there. He had stood patiently in the gaggle of husbands and brothers and boyfriends in the corner and stared at the far wall while she flitted about the shop examining items and occasionally vanishing to try things on. A couple of times she asked if her bottom looked bigger in things, but Remus delicately pointed out that he didn't know how big it usually looked, and also ventured the opinion that whatever she was trying on was very nice and could we go now please? By the time they got outside into the fresh air again, she was snorting with laughter.

"You don't even try not to sound gay, do you?" she asked, giggles subsiding fractionally.

"I do not sound . . . All I meant was-"

"I know what you meant." She grinned at his miffed expression. "Let's go and have lunch, shall we?"

They went to Remus' favourite café because he was wearing his sulking face and she decided to humour him temporarily. It was an airy shop, quite large with chocolate-brown leather furniture and soft background music. Lily wasn't a fan of swing, but she recognised the song and hummed along. Remus grinned at her before turning to the young man behind the long, smooth bar. There were several members of staff, all friendly and welcoming without being offensively cheerful. Remus seemed to know them all.

"Hi Paul. Two lattes please, and whatever my friend would like to eat."

Lily gave Paul a brief smile. He was sleek and rather suave, with slick brown hair and a smart but stylish uniform. She knew that he was much more Remus' type than Sirius ever was, a fact which, rather than lessening the worth of her two friends' relationship, made it that much stronger.

"Pasta salad," he decided eventually. "Aren't you eating, Remus?"

He shook his head, paid, smiled briefly at Paul, and led the way to a table in the corner. They sat and watched as Paul made their drinks and a girl started assembling Lily's salad.

"Looks like a nice man," said Lily, nodding in Paul's direction.

"He is."

"Perhaps the reason you like to come here?"

Remus shook his head firmly. "I wouldn't even betray Sirius for him," he said vehemently.

Lily smiled. "Yes, I know. But looking doesn't hurt."

"No, I suppose it doesn't," said Remus, but he moved his chair so that his back was to Paul and he was facing the window instead. A blonde girl appeared at his elbow with their lunch, then vanished almost as suddenly. Remus added several sugars to his coffee, and Lily leaned towards him.

"I know you and Sirius have problems," she said gently. He stared at her, then sighed.

"Yes, sometimes we do," he admitted. "But it's mostly my fault; I'm very short-tempered with him sometimes."

"He must do things to make you short-tempered though."

He shrugged. "Well, yes. He's infuriation, but I wouldn't have him any other way." He knew she didn't believe him. "Well . . . Usually I wouldn't. But sometimes I'd like him to grow up a bit, maybe be a bit more sensitive."

Lily nodded. "Sometimes I think the same about James."

"Maybe if he didn't keep spoons in the freezer I'd be satisfied."

Lily laughed. "Yes, Sirius is a little eccentric."

"No." Remus shook his head. "James is the eccentric; Sirius is a complete fruit basket." He sighed. "I envy James, you know; he's a lucky man to have you."

"And I'm a lucky woman," said Lily instantly. "As are you," she added with a wink.

He looked affronted. "Sirius is the woman in this relationship, thank you Lily," he insisted, remembering the previous year when Sirius had temporarily taken on the physical appearance of his cousin, Bellatrix.

Lily gave him a wry smile. "Remus, I hate to be the one to break it to you but real men don't drink lattes."

"Rubbish." He looked offended for all of three seconds, then stuck his tongue out at her.

"Seriously though, Remus," she continued once she had swallowed a mouthful of salad, "I really do understand what you go through with Sirius. James is in one way worse because he looks sane. But whenever I'm annoyed with him I close my eyes and think about all the wonderful things about him and all the lovely things he's done for me. And if that doesn't work, I think back to our seventh year. You remember, Remus?"

He grinned. "Oh yes. How could I forget the outrage you and I managed to cause throughout the student body? There wasn't a single person who could honestly say they weren't spitting with jealousy."

"They probably thought it was a conspiracy," Lily laughed. "How else could we simultaneously ensnare the school's most desirable bachelors?"

He shrugged. "How did we do it?"

"No idea. Do you remember that girl who had sent them both Valentine's cards the week before?"

Remus scowled darkly. "Yes, I do. She tried to hex me in the corridor. It was completely uncalled for."

"I reckon she thought if she sent them both cards, she was bound to get one of them."

A small grin flickered across Remus' face. "The sad thing, though, is that she was last seen dating Peter."

"Good for him I guess."

"I guess so."

Lilly tapped Paul on the arm as he went past, and ordered two more coffees. Remus made a point of not catching his eye, even though the waiter smiled at him. Lily poked at something in her salad.

"Nervous?" Remus asked.

"About?"

"Getting Married."

She glanced about as if expecting James to have appeared just in time to hear her own up to her doubts. "A little. I expect it'll get worse as the time gets nearer." She sighed and sat back as their coffee arrived. "I know I love him, Remus, but I can't help wondering if it's too soon, or if we're doing it right, or – oh, I don't know. It's more of a generalised worry at the moment. He proposed very suddenly; my parents are convinced I'm pregnant."

Remus tried not to grin. "Are you?"

"Certainly not. I'd hate to think of that as a reason to get married. I'm marrying James for James."

"You're a crazy lady, Miss Evans," said Remus as he emptied a number of sugar sachets into his drink.

"Not as crazy as you, Mr Lupin; you got the fruit basket, remember? Oh by the way, I'm telling Sirius you called him that."

"Don't you dare. Any mention of fruit in front of Sirius is forbidden. Incidentally-" he raised a hand as the blonde waitress went past, and she stopped and smiled at him. "One of your pineapple cakes, please. You want anything else, Lily?"

She shook her head and the waitress vanished.

"Pineapple cake? Sounds unpleasant."

"Oh it is. But at the same time it isn't. Such is the paradox that is the common pineapple."

"You've spent way too much time with Sirius."

The fact was that no matter how much Remus tried to make Sirius into a normal, respectable person, his boyfriend would always influence him far more without even trying. Physics dictates that if you push against something, it will always push back but either move or stay stationary. Sirius did not obey the laws of physics, and he shoved Remus back twice as hard, causing the werewolf, who had initiated the battle, to helplessly submit to Sirius-style insanities. Over the past few days his pineapple cravings had gone beyond a joke, despite the fact that he had never particularly liked the stupid fruit before. Lily found all this very funny indeed.

"If you're not careful you two are going to stop being separate people and become one insane bespectacled super-weirdo, possibly which turns into a pineapple at full moon."

"Ha ha," said Remus.

Lily stopped laughing and gave his hand a sympathetic squeeze. "Come on. Let's go and see if the house is still intact."