A/N: This is the pseudo-sequel to She Eats WHAT? But it's only pseudo, so reading the other story isn't required. In fact, you probably shouldn't. For your own safety.
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter.
The Meaning of Stag
"So, how did it go?" Sirius Black asked, throwing himself on the couch next to his best friend, James Potter. The four Marauders, as they liked to call themselves, had gathered at Remus Lupin's house in honour (or because) of the full moon that would be occurring that night.
"How did what go?" Remus asked, looking up from his book.
"Was something supposed to happen last night?" James wanted to know, sincerely hoping he hadn't forgotten to do something.
"Yes!" Sirius said exasperatedly. "With Lily! You were going to tell her our great secret because you promised her that if she ever married you you'd let her know! So how did she take the news that you're an illegal animagus?"
Oh, that. James settled his chin into his hand contemplatively while Peter Pettigrew, Remus, and Sirius leaned forward, eagerly anticipating his words. "Well, it was rather interesting," he said.
"Interesting good?" Peter asked.
"Interesting she doesn't ever want to see my werewolf hide again?" Remus worried.
"Interesting she decided it was so hot and tried to shag—"
"Don't even think of finishing that thought, Padfoot," James said threateningly. Sirius may be his best mate, but Merlin's beard if he'd let anybody talk about Lily like that. "It was interesting…well, interesting." He waved a hand at Remus. "Don't worry, Moony, she didn't even blink when I told her you were a werewolf. Apparently she accidentally eavesdropped in second year on you and Madame Pomfrey." Which in and of itself was interesting, because Lily abhorred eavesdropping. There were still so many things to learn about his delicious, redheaded fiancée…
"She knew?" Sirius demanded. "She knew since second year? In so many ways that is not fair. She didn't let us know she knew! She didn't even let us suspect that she knew! She probably didn't even think of letting us suspect that she knew! She—"
"We got it the first time, Padfoot," Peter cut in. "Just let Prongs tell the story!"
Sirius groused for a moment, but when Remus smacked him he shut up. "Well," James said again, "she…well…I don't know."
"How can you not know, Prongs?" Remus asked. "You were right there. What did she say?"
"Nothing," James replied, and that was the problem. She really hadn't said anything, because once he had told her he transformed into a stag, she laughed. She laughed. He confessed to being an illegal animagus, a crime which could get him a life sentence in Azkaban, and she laughed. It was so unlike Lily that he worried for her sanity. Maybe Snivellus had gotten to her! Snivellus had always hated James, and it would be just like him to try and get back at the Marauder by way of making the lovely and delectable Lily insane. Snivellus was going to die, slowly and painfully. A Blast-Ended Skrewt would do nicely, or a rampaging Hippogriff. Maybe he could say a spell that would cover Snivellus in shiny things and then let a niffler loose. Hmm, there were rumours of nasty, giant spiders in the Forbidden Forest. What a perfect way for Snivellus to die.
A sharp rap on the head made James focus back on the room he was in. "Stop planning Snape's death and start talking to us," Remus said patiently. James scowled; Snivellus' death was so much more entertaining.
"How could she say nothing?" Peter asked worriedly. "Do you think she plans on turning you in? I know she's your fiancée and all, but would she really let that stop her from tattling?"
"Wormtail, don't be daft," Sirius said irritably. "Lily's not like that. If she wanted to turn us in, she would have told James that and he'd have come running for us to tell us to hide."
That got their attention. Hah. James Potter could still captivate a room full of people. His awesome charm was never failing.
"She laughed," James said again, slowly. "You know, laughing? Something you do when you think something's funny?" Sirius scowled. "Ah, good, you do know. So everything you learned in Hogwarts hasn't left your thick skull yet."
"Ha-bloody-ha," Sirius said. "I know what laughing is. But how could she laugh?"
"I don't know," James said helplessly. "I don't see anything that's funny about the situation at all! Except, you know, maybe all the jokes we've made over the years about you being a dog with women and Peter being a sneaky rat and me getting caught in those muggle butt lights—"
"Headlights," Remus interjected.
"—whatever, maybe she finally got those jokes and is just belatedly laughing! Yeah, maybe that's it." Yeah, and maybe Dumbledore was secretly Voldemort. Completely and totally unbelievable. But it was better than the alternative. Wait, was there an alternative?
"Or maybe she was laughing because she eats deer," Peter pointed out. "You do remember that tiny fact, don't you, Prongs? Maybe it just struck her as funny that in a sense that makes her cannibalistic."
And then there was that happy fact. How could Lily eat DEER? That was a crime against stagkind. James was dead determined to break her of that habit once they got married. No deer would ever be eaten in his house!
"Prongs, why are you thumping your chest?" Sirius asked.
Note to self: work on hand control. In the meantime, find out why Lily laughed.
A knock on the door disturbed the conversation and Remus went to answer it. Moments later he led in a tightly grinning Lily. James was to his feet in an instant and he offered his seat to his beloved. He couldn't help but note how scrumptious she looked today.
Lily refused the seat. "I'm only here for a moment, James. I just thought I ought to explain my behaviour last night—"
"It's about ruddy time," Sirius growled. "You can't just laugh at a secret like that and expect to not explain it!
"And that's why I'm here, Sirius," she said smoothly, reaching into her purse and pulling out—a dictionary?
Okay, so James knew he was marrying a bookworm. He could handle that—after all, he'd been friends with Remus for years and that boy lived in a book. But honestly, a dictionary in the purse? That was just pathetic! It bordered on obsessive! He would never do such a thing! If he were a girl, he'd keep respectable things in his purse, like quidditch magazines and pepper spray for Sirius and a snitch and money for random food stops and that little figurine Peter had given him of the star chaser for Puddlemere United.
A dictionary, honestly. Codswallop.
Remus' eyes, however, lit up at the sight of the dictionary. "Is that the newest edition by Rutherford?" he breathed, his hand inching towards Lily's dictionary. James eyed the hand with sudden interest—he had to make sure Remus had honourable intentions and wouldn't do anything untoward with Lily. She was his girl, after all. He had to protect her, even when she didn't know she needed protecting.
"Yes, it is, and it's simply fantastic," Lily gushed, turning towards the werewolf and holding the dictionary out to him. He took it as if it were a gift from God himself. James scowled; he hated it when Lily and Remus had Moments because he knew he couldn't compete with a fellow book lover. With some difficulty he reminded himself that Lily was wearing his ring. But Remus had helped him pick it out—what if he had an ulterior motive? What if Lily and Remus were secretly having a sordid affair over their passion for books? It would be just like the quiet werewolf to steal away the beautiful flower from the dunderhead. Wait, dunderhead? I am not a dunderhead! ARG!
"James, sweetie, breathe. I refuse to marry a corpse."
Remember she's marrying YOU, Prongs, NOT Moony. Breathe.
I'll kill him if he ever gives her a look like the one he's giving that book—
BREATHE, BLAST IT ALL.
Lily cocked her head to the side. "Are you feeling alright?" she asked, touching the back of her hand to his forehead. He could smell the Essence of Lily. Mmm, she smelled tasty.
"Fine," he answered weakly. "You came here to explain your laughter?"
Her grin reappeared and she retrieved her dictionary from Remus. "Yes, yes I did." And she gave out a chuckle. James shared a look with his friends—what could all of this possibly mean?
"Um, future Mrs. Potter, you know I love you, but that laugh is unnerving," Sirius stated, pulling a bit on his collar.
"Mm? OH, sorry, it's just—well here, look for yourself." She thrust the dictionary under James' nose. He took the book and read the definition she pointed at.
"Stag: the adult male of various deer, especially the red deer. Uh, yeah, I know the definition of deer, dear."
Lily rolled her eyes. "Very funny, James. But keep reading! The next—def—" she cut off her sentence because she had started sniggering. Nerves wracked James as he read the next entry. What could be so bloody funny?
"An animal, especially a pig, castrated after reaching sexual maturity!" he ended with a shout, dropping the book on the floor. "BLOODY sodding Merlin's beard! AAAH!"
Lily was on the floor laughing, and Sirius had joined her. Remus remained in his chair, but he was clutching his stomach and Peter had gone off the deep end with the rest of them. James breathed heavily. Is THIS was Lily thought about when she associated him with being a stag? Merlin's beard, this was embarrassing!
"Stop laughing," he snapped. "All of you! Stop it right now!" He considered stamping his foot, but then Sirius would comment on his femininity and then the gay jokes would come. James could handle being humiliated (on the third Sunday after the full moon of the second month in a leap year), but he definitely could not handle being humiliated over two things at the same time. That was just too much.
Heck, being laughed at over a castrated pig dictionary entry was too much.
"Please excuse me while I find a toilet I can drown myself in," he muttered and stomped off to find Moony's bathroom. Or maybe Moony's kitchen would be better. Sharp, pointy things resided in there. Except Remus didn't cook, so he wouldn't own anything sharp or pointy. Curses. Back to the bathroom then. Or maybe he could walk out the front door and walk until he found and ocean, and then keep walking until he drowned, or turn around and keep walking until he found the other ocean and either way just walk and walk and walk and meanwhile Lily and the boys would search frantically for him and never find him until they gave up and assumed him dead and then Remus and Lily could make their sordid affair real and marry and procreate over books and name their kids Hester and Achilles and Mr. Darcy—
James redirected his footsteps back to Remus' living room. Merlin if he'd let the werewolf have his girl. Remus would die for his imagined affair. He could die next to Snivellus in the Forbidden Forest, death by Spider Fright or something equally stupid.
His plan to grab Remus and haul him to wherever Snivellus was hiding was brought to an abrupt end as Lily lip-locked him upon re-entrance to the living room. Well, he could handle being humiliated and letting Remus live if this is what came out of it. Boy was Lily yummy.
"I'm sorry for laughing at you," Lily said through a smile, "but…well…get used to it. It's kind of hard not to do."
James scowled. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"Nothing," she replied innocently, pulling away. "I discovered that definition, oh, sixth year or so. Maybe fifth. It was late at night and Alice and I thought it was funny, and it's been a bit of an inside joke ever since. Last night when you told me you were a stag—" she cut off for a sodding giggle—"I couldn't help but laugh."
"Hey, we laughed and it isn't an inside joke for us!" Sirius commented, lazing on the floor. "That makes it legitimately funny. Sorry, Prongs, but I'm never going to look at you the same way again." And he started laughing. Again. It took considerable self-control on James' part, but he didn't launch himself at his best friend and rip his spleen out through his belly button, and for that he was rather proud of himself. He deserved another kiss for his amazing self control. Why couldn't Lily read his thoughts and know he deserved a good snog? Preferably in front of his friends, so he could rub it in to Sirius specifically that James Potter had a girl and Sirius Black did not. Take that, mate!
Lily did, however, peck him on the lips and that was good enough for now. Soon enough he'd marry her and could do whatever he wanted, although granted that would be behind closed doors. And soon there would be Prongs Juniors running around and he and Sirius and Remus and Peter could teach them to be little Hellions and then Lily would murder him for making her offspring into troublemakers but it would be okay because he'd have procreated and McGonagall would have to live through YEARS of his children!
"Should that mad look in your eye worry me?" Lily asked as she drew away from him and towards the door.
Whatever she had been about to reply was lost in her throat as she stared at him. "Not the answer I was expecting," she said slowly. "Maybe I really should be worried." James gave her the most charming grin he could muster. She just rolled her eyes. "Well, boys, sorry I interrupted your evening together, but I'll just be on my way now."
"Stop by any time, Lily," Remus said, "especially if you ever need someone to appreciate a new book you have."
White-hot jealousy coursed through James. No, Potter, stop it. They're not having a sordid affair over books…you're overreacting…there's nothing going on here…
"Will do, Remus," Lily said, giving him her Book Smile. Oh man, that was it, Moony was going to DIE. "Bye, James. I love you."
Curse that woman. She could stop his murderous rampage with five simple words. He was so whipped. "Bye, Lils. Love you."
"Aw, Lily," Sirius whined. "I hate you so bad right now. He was heartbeats away from jumping Moony for your sord—"
James had never jumped so far so fast in his life, but his hand was firmly clamped down on Sirius mouth. The mutt even had the nerve to lick him, but he didn't back down. Another note to self: stop confiding in best friend. Or confide then chop his tongue out. Sirius doesn't really need it anyway.
Putting her hands up, Lily said, "I'm not even going to ask," as she backed out of the living room towards the flat door. "Bye, boys!" And she was gone.
James stared longingly after her for a moment, wishing he could go with her. He couldn't wait to marry Lily so he could live with her and spend every waking moment with her and just love her until she died, be it by natural causes or smothering from his over-protectiveness. She was what made his life worth living. I sincerely hope I never outlive you, Lily, he thought and grinned. What a true sap. Sirius would be properly mortified if he could read James' mind.
Mm, speaking of Padfoot… James removed his hand and wiped the Sirius Slobber on Sirius' shoulder. "Padfoot, that is disgusting," he said.
"And your goo-goo eyes at Lily weren't?" he retorted. James smacked him upside the head.
"One day, Padfoot, one day you will get a girl and then I will rib you so bad you'll move to Hong Kong to avoid me."
"For what it's worth, I think it's cute," Peter piped up.
"You would, Wormtail," Sirius said, throwing himself down on Remus' couch.
"Well," Remus interrupted in an attempt to prevent another dog-rat fight, "it seems Lily took the news rather well. Congratulations, Prongs, on finding the perfect girl."
Darn right she's my girl. And don't you forget it, you book loving maniac.
James grinned. "Yeah, she's great."
"Especially if she wants to marry a castrated pig," Sirius snickered. James picked up one of Remus' books lying on the floor and lobbed it at Sirius' head.
"NOT THE BOOK, JAMES, NOT THE BOOK!" Remus howled, leaping up from his chair. James let his grin widen; so maybe books had a purpose after all.