Disclaimer: Nuhuh, not mine.

A/N: Okay, so I wanted this finished... I HAVE ONE WIP less! Yay!

000000

Unexpected

Apologies and Amends

000000

At last, James and Sirius made their decision. Snape maybe was trying to pull the Marauders apart, but they'd be damned if they let him. Remus and Peter were their friends -- and Marauders stuck to their friends.

They felt everyone's eyes on them as they rose from their seats and started to slowly walk towards the Ravenclaw Table. The two dark-haired Marauders saw Peter smiling at them and Remus looking hopeful, while Snape gave them a look of absolute indifference. There was no mistaking about the sharp gaze in his black eyes, however.

"Remus," James said as he stopped in front of the werewolf, knowing very well that the whole school was watching them. "I apologize for everything I said."

"I apologize, too," Sirius said, being like James very careful not to direct a single word to Snape. "Can you forgive us?"

Their goldenhaired friend seemed to consider this for a moment. "I might," Remus said then smoothly, "if you apologize to Severus."

"No way!" shouted James heatedly. "I certainly am not apologizing to that git!"

"Then forget about our friendship, for I shall definitely forget it," the werewolf said, and there was a cold tone in his voice none of them had heard before. They also knew that he meant exactly what he said. "I love Severus. Try to get into your thick heads, James, Sirius. True, I love you as my friends, but if you make me choose between you and him, I will choose him."

"But... apologizing to him?" Sirius asked with a whiny tone. "Please, Moony, don't be that cruel! I'll do anything else rather. Just name it, and I'll do it -- as long as it's not that!"

"All right." And a hint of mischief lit Remus's eyes as he said, "If you want me to tolerate your presence in the future, you have to apologize to Severus... or lick his boots. Soles too."

"I'll take my word back," Sirius said hastily. "I'll do almost anything else rather. Merlin alone knows what potions he's spilled on the floor he walks on."

"I do not spill potions, Black," Snape said smoothly. "Only fools do that, and I'm not a fool."

"Could have fooled me," James muttered under his breath. This, however, brought a stern glance from Remus.

The werewolf rolled his eyes towards the ceiling. "Fine, but this is your last chance," he said, still sounding a bit amused. "You can apologize to my boyfriend --" James and Sirius both shuddered at the word, "-- lick his boots, or perform a striptease show on top of the Head Table during dinner tonight."

"Yay!" exclaimed Juliet Gardner, one of Lily's friends, whipping her dark brown hair over her shoulder. "Striptease!" At this, she flashed a charming smile at Sirius and James.

James paled at this. He opened his mouth as if to ask for yet another option, but judging by Remus's expression, his chances at that were rather slim. So, he sighed. "Fine, Snape," he snapped. "I apologize for anything I've ever done wrong to you. And, even though Remus did not mention it but is surely awaiting it, I'll try to treat you civilly from now on. However," he added with a much stricter tone, "if you ever hurt Remus in any way, I will skin you alive."

"Funny how these things go," the Slytherin said mildly. "Just a couple of moments before I was telling Pettigrew here just the same -- although I only mentioned that I would have skinned him alive, had he been foolish enough to abandon Remus because of me. And that goes just as well for the two of you," he then added levelly, although his black eyes were sharp when he glanced at the two standing Gryffindors.

"And James's promise at you is my promise as well," Sirius snapped back. "If you ever hurt him, you're in for serious trouble."

Snape smirked. "I apologize for anything I've ever done wrong to you, Potter," he said levelly. "Just to keep Remus away from my neck, if not for anything else. I also apologize to you, Black -- although I don't think I'll receive the same thing in return."

"You'll just have to wait for the dinner," said Sirius cheerfully. He seemingly didn't find the thought of public striptease appalling at all. This comment, of course, brought a cheer from several nearby girls.

"But good manners still demand you to apologize to Severus, Padfoot," Remus reminded him with a slight sigh. "Honestly, boys, grow up. It's about the time you put those silly grudges behind you and act civilly. And I am thankful for you to be mature enough to agree to it on your own, Prongs," he added, nodding approvingly at the bespectacled boy. "So, Severus? Padfoot?"

Sirius was ready to snap something nasty about the Slytherin in front of him, sure that Snape would completely refuse to even consider being civil to the Marauders other than Remus, but he was too surprised to get a single word out of his mouth as he saw Snape's response. The Slytherin merely glanced at Remus and nodded in response to the werewolf's words. Nodded. Snape had just agreed to not to try to torture the Marauders at every opportunity to -- to get them back for their pranks, he realized with something not completely unlike shame. He also noticed the gentle hand Remus laid on Snape's arm, giving the Slytherin the brightest smile Sirius had seen on his face -- or on anyone's face, on that note -- for ages.

"Fine," he sighed. "I apologize to you, Snape, for anything and everything I've ever done wrong to you. And I will behave myself -- as long as you return the favour."

"Oh, rest assured that I will," Snape said, smirking slightly. "I apologize to you, Black. And, contrary to what you think, I am not going to cook your hearts over a fire and have them for breakfast."

"You aren't?" asked James, trying to get a disbelieving tone into his voice but forced to smile despite himself.

"No. I've found that they're much better for supper."

Judging by his smirk, Snape wasn't really serious. However, you never knew with him, so James and Sirius rather sensibly took a few steps back just to be sure.

.:SS:..:RL:.

Sirius did strip himself on the Head Table in the beginning of the dinner that night. Or at least he tried to, but the binding charms he somehow managed to put on the teachers didn't last for long, and he'd been dragged away before he'd got even his shirt properly off, much to the disappointment of most females in the whole castle. The other Marauders were of course suspected of having some part in this, but Remus and Peter were claimed innocent, while James got a week's detention for trying to sell tickets to a "private show" that never occurred.

(The money he got from the tickets did no good for him anyway. He lost them all in a stupid bet with Mickey White about which one of them could keep from laughing for a longer time, and lost the game immediately when Sirius exclaimed upon seeing Snape, "Sev, my dearest friend! Where have you been?" Later, Sirius claimed ignorance about the bet, but the fact that Mickey gave him half of the money spoke volumes.)

Snape, of course, merely smirked as he watched the two most mischievous Marauders getting into trouble again. However, when he heard Remus laughing at his friends' antics, heard that familiar, happy, carefree laugh, he didn't smirk.

Instead, he smiled warmly.

Thirteen Gryffindors were carted to the Infirmary due to fainting.

THE END

0000000

A/N: Yeah, that's it. There's no more. I thank you for your interest and hope that you will review.