All Kidding Aside
Epilogue: Eye of the Wolf
by Kihin Ranno
It was Sunday again, and everyone was walking on the side of the lake. Only this time, Lily was much less distracted, and Sirius had arm around Remus at all times in a much different manner than he usually did. And Remus was, as Sirius had teased him about at length, bouncier. Remus found the descriptor slightly inappropriate as werewolves were not known for their buoyancy, but he accepted it because before 'bouncy' had popped out, Remus had been quite terrified he was going to say 'giddy,' and Remus didn't think either was appropriate. Bouncy just seemed a bit less like something someone would call their giggling, pig-tailed girlfriend, and so Remus found it preferable. But still not appropriate. Frightened and mortified in a more than pleasant way was how Remus thought of it.
He couldn't say that he had ever expected to find himself in his current position. Oh, he'd thought about it of course, late at night when he was almost asleep and the sensible portion of his brain (which was most of it really) was far too tired to yell at the other, impractical portion for daydreaming about Sirius Black. He had attempted to tell himself that it was improper, impossible, and in some circles, immoral, but it didn't stop that impractical sliver of Remus Lupin from thinking, "But what if?"
Remus was glad for that impracticality for the first time in his life. Not that he was going to make a lifestyle out of being impetuous. No, that he would leave up to James and Sirius.
After Lily had come to her senses and drug a giggling James and an unconscious Peter away from their room, and after he and Sirius had a grand time getting reacquainted with one another, Sirius had gone downstairs. Remus had been expecting the two to actually talk out their differences like normal people, but now realized that that must have been the temporary side effect of snogging with Sirius Black for the better part of an hour. In reality, Sirius and James had declared the entire matter resolved by mooning the entire Gryffindor Common Room. A grand time had been had by all.
Except for Peter who had still been unconscious.
At long last, things had returned to normal. Well, as normal as things could be with the Marauders, but the level of obscenity and friendliness was back at its usual spot. This put all of them at ease.
And now the five of them were having the first peaceful moment any of them had managed to have all week. James and Lily were walking alongside Remus and Sirius, talking about complete nonsense that was occasionally interrupted by either Lily or Remus asking James or Sirius respectively to please remove their hands/tongues from various places as they were in public and besides, it tickled. There had been brief discussion of having a contest between who could be more obnoxiously couple-y until Remus pointed out that he and Sirius had no chance of winning.
Though Remus had to say, he was surprised that James and Lily weren't a bit more stand-offish what with Sirius and Remus suddenly becoming a whole different kind of 'Sirius and Remus.' He certainly wouldn't have blamed them if they'd been awkward. He was still awkward, but then, as James had kindly pointed out, he'd always been awkward so that didn't mean much.
In truth, James found the whole thing utterly hilarious. He would still randomly burst out laughing at seemingly random points in the conversation and mumble things about fairies and pranks, confusing anyone who had the misfortune of overhearing. On the other hand, he and Peter now went into the bathroom to change, sending various plots involving public nudity and borderline molestation running through Sirius's head.
Lily was not only relieved to have James cheerful again, but she was also quite smug about her triumph. She'd always hated to be wrong, and though she hadn't exactly been correct about Remus and Sirius at the time, she was now. As far as she was concerned, all was right with the world.
Peter was lagging behind the group, though this was more by choice than circumstance. Where awkwardness lacked with James and Lily, Peter made up for it in spades. Remus didn't find this at all surprising given Peter's penchant for paranoia. He was presumably a little more than terrified that all of the wrestling matches and boyhood scuffles had been nothing more than a chance to feel him up, and he was keeping a considerable distance as a result. Remus thought that he heard Peter occasionally grumbling about people pairing off and leaving him the fifth wheel. He never spoke too loudly for if Sirius overheard, there was a very good chance that Sirius would invite him to join him and Remus for a little "naked fun time." This had happened several times already, and Remus was beginning to think that Sirius was scaring the poor boy away from intimacy for the rest of his days.
It was then that Remus noticed that Sirius had been looking at him for the past few moments, his face set into a scowl. Remus felt himself leaning back, almost recoiling, and saying, "What?"
"You're thinking," Sirius accused, glaring. "No. It's worse. You're contemplating. That's almost as bad as reading."
Remus rolled his eyes slightly. It was this again. "I left the book behind, didn't I?"
"Only because James hexed it to fly around the room," Sirius reminded him, looking over at James. "Which I was about to do, but someone had to beat me to the hex."
James dusted off his shoulder proudly, causing Lily to elbow him playfully. "Ow!"he cried, rubbing his ribs. "Watch it, will you? You have bony elbows."
"I bring books everywhere," Remus countered smoothly. "It's like asking you to give up... I don't know, basking in your own greatness or something."
Well, that counter had been less than smooth. It had been quite un-smooth as a matter of fact, but it would do.
"Yes, but books take away precious time for you to bask in my greatness," Sirius insisted, explaining this as if it was simple mathematics. "Books are distracting, and when I do manage to get your attention, you insist on talking about the book, which is just ridiculous. Books are not meant to be talked about. They are meant to be kept on bookshelves, forgotten about, and then sold when we're dead."
"It's a good thing the book isn't here. You'd have hurt its feelings," James said.
"Please, it was Hemingway. It probably just would have shot you," Lily said, making Remus remember why he had liked her in the first place.
"Touchy book," Sirius observed. "Anyway, stop thinking. Things are much more fun when you stop living in your head and come out here with the rest of us. Speaking of which, Peter, stop lollygagging! I don't want to turn my head every time I want to talk to you!"
Peter grumbled about how Sirius hadn't said anything to him yet, but picked up his pace anyway.
"I was reminiscing," Remus corrected, a little exasperated. "And if you make a My-Little-Woman joke, I'll hex you so that you're flying around Hogwarts, and we will all laugh at your great misfortune."
Sirius looked over at James and said, "Does this qualify as an abusive relationship?"
James just laughed, and that earned him another elbow from Lily because she knew why.
They lapsed into a comfortable silence for awhile until Lily spoke up. She looked over at the other pair and said, "So how are you going to handle... things?"
"Oh, you picked an articulate one, Prongs," Sirius teased.
Lily smiled a little. "I mean about other people. Your parents and the other students and... you know. Things."
"Mmm, right. Other people. I always forget about them," Sirius said, stroking his chin thoughtfully.
"You could just kiss him in the Great Hall. That would get the message across," James put forth.
Remus shook his head. "No, it wouldn't. Don't you remember the time he proposed to you in the middle of McGonagall's lecture in Fifth Year? He was so convincing, I almost offered to plan your wedding shower, and I think some people are still quite upset you didn't go through with it."
"You still need to give me the ring back, you know," Sirius said, poking James in the arm.
"Ow!" James hissed, flinching. "What is it with you people and poking me with your bony appendages?"
Sirius and Remus exchanged a meaningful glance, but decided not to risk it when they were within arm's length of Lily (and a little bit of James, but mostly it was about Lily).
"Oh, har har," James groused, not finding what he had said funny because he hadn't meant it.
"Anyway, I say let the rumor mill spread it around if anyone picks up on it," Remus supplied, breaking in before the subject could be changed again. "If they figure it out, so be it, but unlike some people, I don't fancy making myself a spectacle."
"It is true," Sirius said in a voice that suggested he was being profound when really he was just being obnoxious. "Opposites do attract."
"Although I would not object to tell Mrs. Black in order to increase animosity in the household," Remus put in, smiling a bit and wondering if the horrible woman would fall over dead with the news.
Sirius's eyes glittered. "Moony, I was wrong about you. You're evil just like me!"
Remus shrugged humbly. "I do what I can."
"I will have to consider this offer of yours carefully," Sirius said, tapping his chin. "Well, no, that's silly. I'm going to do it. I'm just wondering if it should include a physical demonstration or not."
"Liar," Remus accused. "You're just wondering about the degree of the physical demonstration."
"It's like he's known me forever," Sirius sighed happily, planting a rather slobbery kiss on what looked from a distance like Remus's eye.
"Oh, for the love of--" Remus grumbled, wiping at his entire face with his shirt sleeve.
"You're smiling," Sirius mocked. "I can tell."
"How is it that your mouth always smells like..." he trailed off, remembering Lily. "Bad. Very bad. Very bad and not at all like a dog because there's no reason for it to smell at all like a dog. There's nothing remotely canine about your breath. Nothing at all."
Sirius winked obnoxiously, mouthing the word 'subtle' at him.
"I think you should show up in dragonhide pants and brightly colored shirt," James said loudly, changing the subject to distract a now very confused Lily.
Sirius shrugged and said, "Why don't I just show up in drag?" Sirius paused and then shook his head. "No. No, she might accidentally mistake me for a real woman, and then there'd be no point to it. I mean, I'm just so damn pretty, you know?"
"Poor you," Lily drawled.
"A brightly colored vinyl shirt," James insisted. "That will kill her and without masking your identity."
"That sounds awfully painful," Lily voiced, frowning as if she was imagining the uncomfortable chafing.
"You wear silly shoes for beauty. I wear leather pants for ruining my mother's life," Sirius said in a dreamy voice. "We're really not so different, you know."
"It should be pink," James continued, as if he had not noticed this exchanged. "Or maybe just flowery. I don't know, something clichéd and obnoxious."
"James, focus," Remus instructed, trying to keep from grinning. "We've all met Sirius. We're trying to decide what he's going to wear."
Sirius glared and tapped Remus's nose. "Well, no groping for you for another ten minutes at least."
Before the conversation could be redirected and any more plans on this new idea could be made, the four heard a yelp behind them. The Giant Squid had once again reached out through the holes on top of the ice on the lake and was waving about in Peter's direction as if it was attempting to grab him. He leapt back, bumping into James, who kept him from falling. Peter didn't move for awhile, looking as if he very much wanted to stand behind James, shouting the words 'hide me' at the top of his voice.
After Peter had managed to disentangle himself from James and the squid had gone about its fishy business, Lily put her hands on her hips, shaking her head in a manner that Remus thought was almost matronly, though he silently thought that any children of hers should be pitied and not allowed near her when she was in her monthly moods. "Honestly, Peter, I don't understand it. Every time we get near this lake, the Squid tries to grab you. If I didn't know better, I'd say it had some strange fondness for you."
The words had scarcely left her mouth when Sirius and James exchanged a very furtive glance. Their eyes and lips when all maniacal, which made Peter instantly nervous. Remus decided that it was best that he got out of the way lest anything unfortunate that was about to happen to Peter accidentally happened to him.
"Why, Petey!" Sirius chorused, folding his arms across his chest. "I am surprised at you! Nay, shocked and amazed!"
James nodded in agreement. "One might even say thunderstruck."
"But that's really only because thunderstruck is a very funny word," Sirius supplied, his voice a little rushed.
"Well, yes, of course. I didn't think that needed to be pointed out," James agreed.
Sirius shook his head in a manner befitting someone of his former social stature. "No, funny words must always be pointed out in case some unfunny person is unaware of their funniness."
"My, that would be tragic," James said, looking a little sad.
"Wouldn't it, though?" Sirius said with a series of unnecessary gestures and nods.
"You're quite right. They must always be pointed out," James said fervently.
Sirius clapped his hands together. "Excellent! Now that we have that all straightened out..." Sirius whirled back to Peter, pointing his finger so sharply that Peter gave a little squeak. "Surprised, shocked, amazed, and thunderstruck!" He paused. "At you!" He paused again and Remus was beginning to wonder if there was something stuck in his throat and if he could creatively dislodge it without choking him, and then he felt very, very embarrassed and returned to the topic at hand. "Peter Pettigrew!"
Peter's eyes darted about frantically, unsure of what he was supposed to do. So, he relied on manners. "Umm... Sorry?"
"There will be no forgiving this!" James roared, tucking his head so that he shortened his neck, almost looking like a lion with his wild hair sticking up every which way. "It is terrible grievance that none shall ever forget or forgive!"
Peter went white as a sheet, frantic to find out how he could make it up to them and just what he had done in the first place. "I'm sorry! Really, I am!"
"As you should be!" Sirius said in a stage whisper dripping with disgust. "Imagine! Carrying on an affair with the Giant Squid all this time and not telling us!"
"I--" Peter stopped before he continued that sentence and blinked very slowly. Then he shook his head until the movement traveled down his entire body and shouted,"WHAT!"
James shook his head in disappointment. "And to think I once saw him as a little brother. Now he's off water-bedding squids."
Sirius laughed. "Heh. Water-bedding. That's good."
James nodded. "I rather thought so."
Lily rolled her eyes. "Oh, you're both ghastly."
"I was going to go with terrible, but I like yours better," Remus drawled. "Really, must you two go on about things like this? I've been having to hear about Sirius and everyone's mother all week. Now I have to listen bestiality?"
James rounded on Sirius, his eyes narrowed. "Were you on about my mum and the nightie again?"
Sirius rolled his eyes and gestured to Peter. "Prongs, I need you to concentrate. Peter is having sex with a squid!"
Peter looked as if he might be sick all over himself at any moment. "I am not! That's... disgusting! You're disgusting!"
"No, Petey-Boy," James said, shaking his head. "You're disgusting."
"That is why we're mocking you," Sirius added. "Because of your ickiness."
Remus shook his head. "I still prefer ghastly."
"But-But-But..." Peter stuttered, shaking a little. "But it has eight legs or whatever! That's like... with a spider or something! A big spider! It's like with a big wet spider, and I would never do anything with a big wet spider!"
"Actually, it's a squid, so it has ten, and they're called tentacles, Peter," Remus said sagely.
Peter looked stricken. "It's WORSE than a big wet spider! Ten tentacles! AGH!"
Remus glanced over at Sirius who seemed poised to speak. "Please do not make the obvious joke, Sirius. It's beneath you."
Sirius pouted, but he did not make the obvious joke.
"Obvious joke?" James asked. "Oh, you mean about the testicles!"
Sirius snorted with laughter and clapped his best mate on the back. "Always knew I could count on you, Prongs!"
Remus shook his head. "New depths, James."
"Ghastly," Lily reiterated.
"Anyway," Sirius pronounced, puffing out his chest with importance. "Due to this new discovery, I'm afraid that Prongs and I have no choice but to drive you into the lake."
Peter made another strange sound before actual making words. "You're going to do what?"
"Drive you into the lake," James repeated. "We don't have torches or pitchforks, but we have our wands and our manliness."
"Oh, rubbish," Lily muttered, though she didn't do anything to help Peter.
"I SHALL STRIP YOU NAKED AND SEND YOU DOWN TO THE SQUID'S WATERY BOWER!" Sirius bellowed.
Remus's lips twitched in response to Sirius blatantly stealing his material. He immediately set himself to coming up with sufficient punishment, which would likely involve the nearest closet they could find.
"What the bloody fuck is a watery bower!" Peter shouted frantically as he continued running for his life.
"Kissing Moony is like learning through osmosis!" Sirius chorused. "I'll never have to study again!"
"You don't study now!" James yelled as he matched Sirius stride for stride.
"Poppycock, drivel, and claptrap!" Sirius said, although probably because he found all of those words to be secretly inappropriate, though not even the words themselves knew about it.
"STOP USING WORDS THAT MAKE MY BRAIN HURT!"
Lily and Remus continued standing away from the chaos, watching as James and Sirius finally managed to tackle Peter. The three quickly began a three-way wrestling match in which a great deal of clothing was ripped or thrown about, but James did not have the time to mourn the loss of his shoe at the moment. After watching them attempt to kill each other through a variety of ways, Lily looped her arm through Remus's, surprising him a minute. She patted his hand and said, "Our boyfriends are all class. Wouldn't you say?"
Remus stared at her for a moment, unsure of how to respond. Then he burst into laughter even more intense then when she had first asked that fateful question of whether or not he and Sirius were shagging. But this time Lily joined in, holding her sides and wiping away tears. Remus just kept staring over at where Sirius was sitting atop Peter and yelling something about how he would saddle him and ride him like a great purple lizard.
And in that moment, Remus was very glad that Lily had nearly ruined all of their lives.