Disclaimer: Remus doesn't belong to me. I belong to Remus.
"The Dog's Guide to Getting a Date" was originally published on FictionAlley on 1 August, 2003.
Only a week and a half remained, and Remus Lupin was losing what little nerve he had left. Not that he'd had a great deal of it in the first place, but time seemed to have accelerated as soon as February began, and the Valentine's Day dance was creeping up on him at a very fast pace indeed.
Professor Dumbledore had decided to hold the dance this year for no good reason other than the weather being dreary. Storms had plagued the castle since the last week of January, and since they promised not to let up for at least several weeks, the headmaster had decided that a bit of mid-month cheer was in order. An afternoon party had been arranged for the younger students on Saturday the fourteenth, but everyone in fourth year and above was instead invited to that evening's dance.
James Potter and Sirius Black had been very excited when the announcement was made; as they were fifth years, they started planning immediately for the dance. Sirius had even ordered an entire crate of Filibusters for the occasion.
Over the last week, Remus' friends had all managed to find dates to the dance. James had cornered Marcie Johnson and Lily Evans in Herbology on Thursday and asked Marcie if she would go with him. The plan, James later explained, had been to make Lily jealous so she would finally realize that she fancied him. Much to Remus' lack of surprise, this tactic had not worked; James had only succeeded in getting himself thoroughly embarrassed, as Marcie reluctantly agreed to go with him despite Lily's fervent advice to ignore, ignore, ignore.
Sirius, meanwhile, had no trouble whatsoever finding a date. After spending three days writing down the names of every girl who asked him to take her to the dance, he'd gathered his friends for a long conference in which they discussed the merits of each potential date. In the end Sirius had agreed to go with Marianne Pringle, a fifth year Hufflepuff girl, because he was sure that she would let him kiss her at the end of the night.
Even Peter Pettigrew, who Remus secretly thought was the least likely of his friends to be able to find a date easily, had gotten a fourth year Ravenclaw named Kitty to go with him. Only yesterday had he burst into the Gryffindor common room and shouted the news to all who would listen.
Which left Remus.
Like James, he knew exactly who he wanted to ask, but he refused to take the other boy's advice and "get her by snubbing her." After all, it hadn't worked very well for James. He was quite determined to ask her flat out… but then there was the matter of courage. Every time Remus steeled himself to go and talk to her, his courage would mysteriously vanish and he'd feel the uncanny urge to tuck his tail between his legs and run the other way.
He decided to talk to Sirius during their next Potions class. His friend listened intently as they let the cauldron steep for a few minutes – then shrugged his shoulders. "So basically," said Sirius, "you want to ask Annie out, but you're chicken."
Remus, who'd spent the last ten minutes explaining the situation in much more delicate terms, went scarlet. Sirius nodded. "Happens to the best of us," he said sagely, though Remus couldn't recall a single incident that involved Sirius being too shy to talk to a girl. "All you have to do is remember that she's just a girl, mate. With girls, you just have to smile a lot and they fall all over you." Sirius flashed a sample grin.
Remus leaned over slightly and sneaked a look at the girl in question. Sirius was wrong, of course. Anastasia Ruben was not just a girl. She was the only girl who could walk past Remus and somehow make his stomach go all funny. She was the only girl who made him want to make sure he was wearing matching socks in the morning. She was also, unfortunately, the only girl who always found a partner in class before Remus could ask her.
A sudden boom made Remus jump back from his cauldron. For once, though, it wasn't Sirius who'd caused the noise; at the next table over, James and Peter were standing over their cauldron, mouths open and eyes wide, with both their faces covered in what looked like orange ash. Remus and Sirius tried to stifle their chuckles.
"How many explosions must I endure in this class?" said Professor Coction as she ran over to the offending cauldron. "Ten points from Gryffindor. Mr. Pettigrew, your eyebrows have been singed right off – Mr. Potter, please accompany him to the hospital wing. Madam Pomfrey will be able to grow them back." She watched irritably as they ran from the room, then vanished the mess.
The rest of the students finished their work in silence, carefully scooping their finished draughts into small flasks and setting them on Professor Coction's desk.
"There she goes," said Sirius as they packed their bags, his eyes fixed on the classroom door where Annie and her friend Trilby were about to leave. "Go ask her."
"What, now?" said Remus.
Sirius rolled his eyes. "Or you could wait till after the dance." Remus scowled at him. "Look, go ask her now or I'll do it myself."
"Tomorrow," said Remus. "I'll ask her tomorrow at breakfast. Or lunch."
"Sure you will," said Sirius with a roll of his eyes, and in a flash he'd slung his bag over his shoulder and raced out the door. Remus paled as he heard Sirius' voice from the hallway: "Oi! Annie!"
"Oh no," muttered Remus, and he followed his friend as quickly as he could.
He reached the doorway just in time to hear Sirius say, "And he'd really like it if you'd go to the Valentine's Day dance with him."
Annie, whose mouth was twitching in a way that suggested she was trying to repress a smile, considered this for a moment. As Remus appeared in the doorway, her brown eyes landed on him. "Then why doesn't he ask me himself?"
"I'm awfully sorry about this. I was going to ask you, but Sirius insisted on making fools of all of us first. Would you care to accompany me to the dance, O Fair Miss Anastasia?" said Remus. At least, that's what he meant to say. What he actually said sounded more like, "Muuurgh."
Sirius gave Remus a scathing look, then turned back to Annie. "He's scared to," he explained with a pained sigh. Remus suddenly wished that he'd brought James' Invisibility Cloak to class.
"I see," said Annie. She cast a sidelong glance at Trilby, who was turning brighter and brighter shades of pink from trying not to laugh, then smiled at Sirius. "Well, tell Remus that I might go with him if he asks me himself. Come on, Tril."
Annie grabbed her friend's arm and they headed down the hall together, leaving Remus standing frozen outside the Potions classroom. Sirius cleared his throat loudly.
"I hate you," said Remus.
"No you don't," said Sirius evenly. "Now go ask her."
"You're insane. She didn't even say she'd go with me."
Sirius shook his head. "She said maybe, Moony."
"Maybe could mean no."
"It could also mean yes. If she meant no, she probably would've said it."
"How can you be sure?" said Remus, his face a picture of distress.
"Because she's a girl," explained Sirius. "Girls say no if they mean no, and maybe if they mean yes."
"Go. Ask. Her." Sirius pointed his wand threateningly at Remus. "Do it right now or I'll hex you."
Remus looked from the wand to his friend's face. "Annie!" he called, running after her.
The two girls stopped just before the end of the hall. "Hey, Remus!" said Annie, as if it was the first time she'd seen him all day. Trilby grinned.
"Er," he said, swallowing hard, "I was sort of wondering, I mean, what Sirius said..."
She smiled. "What were you wondering?"
His eyes widened; had she forgotten already? It occurred to him that this might be a very good time to run away, but the thought of a hex from Sirius made his stand his ground. "D'you want to go with me?"
She blinked innocently. "Go where?" Trilby snorted, unable to hold back her laughter any longer.
"Valentine's Day dance...?"
"Well, why didn't you say so?" said Annie. "Sure I will! Shut up, Tril."
"R-really?" said Remus.
"Of course," she said. And before he could do anything, she'd already leaned over, given him a quick peck on the cheek, and fled round the corner with Trilby in tow.
A hand on Remus' shoulder made him start. Sirius had appeared beside him, grinning broadly. "Stop staring, mate – a full-grown doxy could fit into that mouth."
Remus looked at Sirius, his pale blue eyes round as saucers. "She said yes," he said faintly.
"Told you she would," said Sirius, starting toward the staircase that would lead them toward the infirmary.
"No, you don't understand," said Remus urgently as he walked alongside his friend. "I asked her and she said yes!"
"Welcome to my world, Moony," said Sirius smugly.
They walked in silence for a few moments, Remus smiling contently to himself and Sirius whistling an impromptu tune.
Sirius looked over at his friend as they rounded reached the fifth floor landing. "Remus has a da-ate," he said in a singsong voice. Remus raised an eyebrow at him.
Sirius took off like a rocket, bounding down the hall as he sang, "Remus has a da-ate! Remus has a da-ate!"
"Stop it!" Remus called after him with a laugh.
"Not on your life," Sirius shouted back. "REMUS HAS A DA-ATE! REMUS HAS A DA-ATE!"
"Stupid git," muttered Remus, but he couldn't help grinning.
Author's Note: This was intended to be a one-shot story, meaning that there will be no further updates. However, if you enjoyed it enough to be interested in reading more along these lines, please click on my author name and check out "The Dog's Guide to Kissing a Girl," another fic of mine which was written as a sequel to "The Dog's Guide to Getting a Date." Thanks for reading, and please don't forget to review!