This was my entry for the second round of MetamorficMoon's All Hallow's Moon Fic Jumble. My Prompts were Day of Peturbation, Enchanted Candle, Action/Adventure or Humour and location prompts 13 (swamp with trees) and 32 (bedroom).
This fic won in the Action/Adventure category and came runner up in the Humour category, something I am incredibly proud of!
For the outside world, the name Black was a name to be feared and hated. It was no secret that the Ancient and Noble House of Black had sired more followers of You-Know-Who than anybody cared to count. Bellatrix Black, who had married Rodolphus Lestrange and become one of the Dark Lord's most faithful followers, famous for helping torture the Longbottom's into insanity. Regulus Black, following in his cousin's footsteps, had made his family oh-so-proud when he joined the ranks of the Death Eaters as a mere teenaged boy. But of all the scions of this Noble and Ancient House there was one name above all others that was spoken with the utmost contempt.
To the outside world Sirius Black was the notorious mass murderer who had handed the Potters over to He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. He was also the only known convict to have ever managed to escape from Azkaban.
A small number of people calling themselves the Order of the Phoenix knew that he was not guilty of any of the charges he had been convicted of, and was actually quite a pleasant and charming man, when he wanted to be. An even smaller group of people knew better than to trust in his undeniable charm and apparent innocence. But even those people who knew him best were in for a shock because this time there was absolutely no doubt that Sirius Black truly was an evil, evil man.
The seeds of the idea behind the prank had been sown in the summer, when the Twins had been staying at Grimmauld Place. Though the two of them were more than capable of being a complete and utter menace, on this occasion they had absolutely no idea the mayhem just a few words was capable of causing. Though they would remain ignorant of the pandemonium that would follow, they were wholly responsible for putting the idea in Sirius' head.
Sirius knew that Moony fancied Tonks.
Sirius knew that Tonks fancied Moony.
Sirius also knew that he should let them be and mind his own business. But he had never been very good at doing what he knew he should do instead of what he wanted to do. Especially when doing exactly as he pleased was likely to bring him hours of entertainment, and nothing had ever entertained him more than watching Moony make an arse of himself over a girl. If everything went exactly according to plan, he would have enough blackmail material over his mate to last for months of endless ribald teasing. And if everything went exactly according to plan, Moony would be too preoccupied to particularly notice.
The idea was genius, the plan was faultless, and everything was set.
The clock was ticking…
Nymphadora Tonks burst into the library at 12 Grimmauld Place and unceremoniously flopped down on the sofa, causing a large amount of dust to evacuate its once pristine surface and fill the air. Tonks sneezed once, twice, three times before looking up to find a handy handkerchief being offered to her by Remus Lupin, who looked as though he was desperately suppressing amusement at her outbursts.
"Good day?" he asked innocently, raising an eyebrow as though in polite inquiry that most people would have fallen for but that Tonks knew only too well meant he was taking the mick.
She took the handkerchief and dabbed at her streaming eyes. "Absolutely fantastic," she replied, her voice utterly dripping with sarcasm. "Got myself assigned to work with Kingsley."
"That's not so bad, is it?" he asked, sitting down on the sofa next to her rather more carefully than she had.
"It is when you're patrolling up and down the country in the pouring rain searching for Sirius Sodding Black when you know full well he's probably sat in his nice warm, dry kitchen doing a jolly good job of trying to pickle his liver with Ogden's Finest. I was seriously considering handing him in at one point. Kingsley actually had to talk me out of it." Remus sniggered into his knuckles and Tonks shot him a glare that was entirely half-hearted. "So, whilst I was searching for the Wizarding World's Most Wanted Criminal what were you doing with your day?"
"Not very much apart from trying to prevent the aforementioned escaped convict from attempting to drown himself in alcohol at breakfast time. Not that I can particularly hold it against him, this time," said Remus almost bitterly.
Tonks frowned. "Breakfast is early, even for Sirius. What set him off this time?"
"It's Halloween," he replied quietly, indeed, so quietly that she nearly didn't hear him. It took her a moment to work out the significance of October 31st in her cousin's calendar and when she finally did she gave a soft oh. He gave her a quick, sad smile. "Suffice to say that I have been doing my fair share of mooching and reminiscing today."
"Where is he now?" she asked, the concern evident in her voice despite her lingering annoyance.
"With Buckbeak," said Remus wearily. "He's been there ever since I confiscated his Firewhiskey. I tried to get him to eat some lunch but he told me in no uncertain terms to go forth and multiply." He gave such a bittersweet smile that Tonks had to fight the urge to lean over and give him a hug.
"Well that sucks!" she announced suddenly. Remus looked puzzled; adorably puzzled if you had asked Tonks. "I was counting on you to cheer me up after I'd strangled him for ruining my day."
"I do apologise. We could always sit here and be miserable together," he offered.
"I might be able to deal with that," said Tonks with a shy smile. "But do we have to sit in the dark? Why on earth have you only got the fire going? This house is dingy enough with lights on."
"I thought it lent a suitable atmosphere for my melancholy," said Remus, a slight mischievous sparkle in his eyes. "I'll light some candles."
He got up and crossed over to the mantelpiece where there was sat a very fine and magnificent white church candle. He cupped his hand around the top in order to light it wordlessly and wandlessly. A bright blue flame sparked at the wick half a second before the world went fuzzy. Nausea hit Remus like a wave, punching him in the gut and causing him to bend over in an attempt to ease his discomfort. He heard Tonks cry out with surprise and jump to her feet, telling him that whatever was happening was happening to her as well. But instead of the usual sound of her heavily booted feet hitting the wooden floor there was a bizarre and slightly off-putting… squelch.
Eventually, the nausea subsided sufficiently that Remus could stand up straight and fathom out what in the name of Merlin's webbed feet was going on. What he saw made him wish he had kept his eyes squeezed firmly shut.
They appeared to be in what could only be described as a swamp. Tall and gangly trees clung haphazardly to the ground as far as they eyes could see. Not that Remus thought it would be particularly helpful to cling to the ground here for stability's sake. The ground was muddy and boggy and seemed to be buried under at least two inches of water. Indeed, he could now feel the freezing cold liquid seeping into his battered old shoes, and Tonks was attempting to spell the gunk off her favourite pair of boots.
"We, er, we appear to have left Grimmauld Place," said Remus weakly.
"No shit Sherlock!" came the less than impressed reply; Tonks was still attempting to deal with the inhuman muck that they had abruptly found themselves stood in. Apparently deciding that cleaning her shoes would have to wait until a more appropriate time- like when they weren't knee deep in foul, stinking mud- she looked up at Remus. "What the hell happened?"
"I'm afraid I have no more idea than you," he replied politely. "All I did was light the candle."
Tonks gave no indication she was really that interested in his reply. "I'm going to kill Sirius!" she ranted.
"What makes you so sure that he's behind this?" Remus asked, a slight smirk playing about his lips and a small trace of amusement in his voice.
"What makes you so sure he isn't?" she retorted, quirking an eyebrow in challenge. Remus smiled and held up a hand to concede defeat.
"I think a more appropriate question than who is behind this is how on earth we are going to get out of here. I have absolutely no idea how we managed to be transported to this place, much less where we are or how we're going to get back." His voice had dropped its amused tone and was now quite serious; after all, people would start to suspect the worst if they couldn't get back quickly. And Remus knew better than to trust that Sirius would let people in on one of his pranks just because they were getting worried.
"Well we can't disapparate that's for sure. I did a preliminary sweep when we first arrived and there's anti-apparation charms on the place, plus a bunch of other enchantments that I didn't quite recognise."
Remus sighed. "Well that's sorted out the most pressing problem of how we are going to get out of here," he said with a wry smile. "I should have known the git wouldn't have made it simple. We'll just have to be creative and work out how we got here, and see if we can reverse the spell."
"The candle was a portkey, that's the only explanation for it," said Tonks triumphantly.
Remus shook his head slowly and with a small pang of regret watched the delighted smile fall from her face. "It can't have been a portkey; I didn't even touch the candle before we were transported here, and you were at the other end of the room and you were still brought here. If the candle had been a portkey you would have had to be touching me to have been transported as well." The lecture was delivered in his best professor's voice, the tone perfectly calculated to put the other person down and get the message across without being too belligerent or causing too much offence. Tonks had heard this tone used once too often when Sirius was being petulant and therefore did not particularly appreciate him using it on her.
"All right smarty pants," muttered Tonks under her breath, rolling her eyes for added effect. "So he did something else to the candle, any idea what?"
Something about the situation sparked familiarity in the back of Remus' memory, but the answer he was searching for remained elusive no matter how hard he tried to catch it. He shook his head: "Not yet I don't, but I will."
"Well then, any bright ideas on how we're going to get out of here?" she asked, folding her arms across her chest and assuming her best authoritative Auror stance. Remus didn't quite have the heart to tell her he thought she looked charming rather than intimidating. He hastily cleared his throat to rid himself of the troublesome thought.
"Erm..." he began eloquently. He was saved from having to fumble to find an appropriate and coherent end to his thought by a sudden and very loud 'cooooeeeee' that emanated from somewhere behind them.
Both Remus and Tonks whipped around, wands drawn, to find the source of the noise. There was nothing behind them except the large, gaping entrance to some kind of cave. Remus could have sworn it hadn't been there earlier, or if it had been, he certainly should have noticed it. The noise seemed to have come from the cave; a fact which immensely puzzled both the Auror and the werewolf. Though there was no discernable threat neither of the lowered their wands. It was a strange kind of day they were having, one that definitely required Constant Vigilance. It seemed highly unlikely that the cave could be trying to get their attention, but they had tacitly attributed this whole mess to Sirius, and they wouldn't put anything past him by this point. It was proved beyond any reasonable doubt that it was indeed the source of the bizarre sound when another 'cooooeeeeee' came their way.
Remus had to bite back a chuckle. Padfoot couldn't have been any more subtle about what he wanted them to do if he had put a neon sign above the cave. No sooner had he finished the thought than he saw a giant, pink neon sign that read 'this way, you morons' suddenly appear just above the entrance to the cave as if by… well, magic. Remus frowned; there was something definitely off about this place.
"Well, if that's not proof that Sirius sodding Black is behind all of this then I don't know what is," said Tonks, her voice somewhere between amusement and annoyance. Remus was in complete understanding with her.
"Well then, it seems like the only thing to decide is whether or not we are going to play his little game; see what he has in store for us." Remus raised his eyebrows hopefully at her when she didn't seem too impressed with his idea. "The more we know about what he's trying to pull, the better we can get him back at the end."
Tonks' eyes sparked with mischief and he knew that he had her exactly where he wanted her. Well not exactly where he wanted her, but he wouldn't let himself think about that when he was alone with her. Or even at all, if he wanted to remain remotely coherent.
"How spectacularly should we embarrass him in revenge for this little stunt?" she asked, her tone equal parts question and suggestion and absolutely dripping with impishness. Remus felt his inner Marauder stirring and shot her a look that could only be described as completely wicked.
"He won't know what's hit him. Shall we?" He said, offering Tonks his arm. She happily took it and together they squelched through the slime towards this cave it was evidently imperative they explore.
The first thing that became apparent when they entered the cave was that tunnel was probably a better term for it. The second thing that became apparent was that it was as dark as Snape kept his dungeons. By a silent accord they lit their wands, Tonks letting go of Remus' arm in order to do so. They crept forwards cautiously despite the fact they were pretty much certain that Sirius was behind all of this; he may be innocent but he was devious and, when it came to things like this, about as trustworthy as a Death Eater under a Confundus charm. Despite the fact they were no longer arm in arm, Remus couldn't help but notice that Tonks still kept close to him.
The cave, or rather, tunnel was almost as salubrious as the outside world had been. It was freezing cold and damp. Water ran down the walls and dripped off stalactites providing a suitably eerie atmosphere as the sound echoed off the rock. Unfortunately, under foot was still the same slimy sludge that Tonks had unsuccessfully tried to spell off her boots earlier. Remus' feet were soaked, and the foul liquid was starting to creep up his trousers. He imagined that Tonks' feet were nice and warm and dry in her ludicrously big boots. He was just wondering if he would be able to surreptitiously cast an impervious charm on his shoes when another noise rose above the dripping.
The slightly ominous rumbling sound got louder the further into the tunnel they got. Every now and again it would stop for a few seconds and then a much louder thump would be heard, followed by a slight splash before the rattling and rumbling began again. Remus and Tonks exchanged a worried look; knowing Sirius, the thumping sound could have one of any number of causes, each one more disturbing than the next.
The source of the strange sound was revealed as a large wooden chest loomed in the darkness, rattling merrily to itself.
"A boggart," said Tonks quietly. "And apparently it's not happy about being locked in that trunk."
"Where on earth did he find that?" whispered Remus.
Tonks shrugged. "Under his bed probably. We should deal with it though."
Her companion sighed; the last thing he needed today was to deal with a boggart. Well, actually, the last thing he had needed today was to be transported out of his nice comfy armchair and into a swamp and then confronted with a boggart. But it seemed that his so called best mate really had no regard for what he did and didn't need. He suspected that the same went for Tonks, though one should never assume.
"If I go in first will you stand as back up?" he asked quietly. In the dim light from their wands Tonks looked like she was about to protest that she was more than capable of dealing with a single boggart. "Not that I'm insinuating that an Auror can't handle a boggart but you've had a long day, and well, boggarts are something of a speciality of mine," he said placatingly.
For a moment the dark and dreary tunnel seemed that little bit lighter as they shared an amused look in deference to the now rather legendary incident of the boggart in drag. Tonks gave a small, almost imperceptible nod and the atmosphere became rather serious again.
Remus moved towards the rattling chest, his wand held high and ready. Out of the corner of his eye he could see Tonks assuming a similar defensive stance, her gaze fully trained on the chest, just in case. He mentally prepared himself for the unsettling appearance of a full moon as soon as he released the boggart and imagined himself popping it like a balloon. Once he was sure he was ready, he whispered: "Alohomora".
The heavy lid of the chest fell back, but what came out was not the full moon. Instead the unmistakable pink haired form of Tonks unfolded itself from what had undoubtedly been cramped conditions. There was a vague noise of surprise, which had most probably been voice by both of them. Remus watched astounded as boggart-Tonks began to change. Then the bottom fell out of his stomach as the Tonks in front of him transformed into a howling, snarling werewolf. His head felt fuzzy, and his hands began to shake; he was dimly aware of a voice behind him shouting to do something but he couldn't move. The next moment the werewolf had changed back into Tonks, but now she was on the floor, mutilated and bloody; quite obviously dead. And quite obviously having been killed by a werewolf.
Remus felt sick.
His brain pounded against his skull, demanding that he do something to remove this disturbing sight, screaming the word Riddikulus into his mind until he thought he'd never hear anything else. But no matter how hard his mind screamed at him to move, to do something, anything, he could not move a muscle; his body would not obey him.
"Remus!" shouted Tonks, pushing past her motionless companion.
Confronted with a new source of fear to feed off, the boggart changed again. It became a mousy haired version of Tonks before transforming again into another familiar face and suddenly they were staring at the motionless, lifeless form of Remus. It was hard to say who was more shocked and appalled. Thankfully, Auror training counted for something and Tonks managed to keep enough composure to yell the incantation:
The word echoed around the tunnel, bounding off the wall and growing in strength with each echo. Suddenly boggart-Remus was on its feet, looking disbelievingly down at itself. And no wonder; Tonks' spell had caused boggart-Remus' characteristically sedate collared shirt and red jumper to transfigure into a black leather bustier, mini skirt and knee length boots. The real Remus didn't know if that wasn't more disturbing than the sight of his dead body, though thankfully his sense of humour worked faster than his brain.
The tunnel was suddenly filled with the kind of hysterical howling that only a man who has long ago learned to be able to laugh at himself can produce; a trait that is none too surprising and almost compulsory when one has friends like Sirius Black. Tonks' most unladylike snort rang out before her high pitched giggling had joined Remus' chuckle echoing around the cavern. Boggart-Remus looked at the pair of them in utter disgust (though he was hardly one to criticise, attired as he was) and promptly disappeared with a faint puff of smoke.
Almost as soon as the boggart was gone the laughter died and the atmosphere became thick with awkwardness and mild horror. Remus and Tonks could barely look at one another, and they continued their exploration of this blasted tunnel of Sirius' without saying a word to each other. This time, as they walked, they couldn't stand far enough apart. The walls of the passageway seemed to close in on them, suffocating them with their mortification and disquiet.
Remus' head was still pounding and he had to adjust his grip on his wand because his hand was still shaking so hard he thought he might drop it. He chanced a glance at Tonks, who was staring ahead with dogged determination. The dim light of their combined Lumos flickered as her hand too was far from steady.
His mind raced. How was one supposed to act when one's deepest fear had just been paraded in front of someone they care deeply for? Especially when your deepest fear wasn't what you thought it was and, in actual fact, involved said person it had just been revealed to. Remus wasn't entirely sure what Sirius had intended to achieve by pulling this prank on them, but he strongly suspected it wasn't what had actually transpired. This incident with a boggart was no doubt destined to become just as legendary as the incident with his third years, but for all the wrong reasons. Before his mate had decided to stick his nose in he had had a great number of questions, but now he didn't quite know what to do with the answers.
Something prickling in the back of his mind told him that this was almost exactly like the time in fifth year when Sirius had tried to get him together with Felicity Bedgegood, but before he could fully process the thought something else occupied his attention.
There was a door at the end of the tunnel.
Admittedly, it was a very fine example of a door, with thick oak beams and ornate hangings, but it was completely out of context with the dank, slimy tunnel it was situated in.
For a whole, agonising minute both Remus and Tonks simply stared at the door barring their path. After a while it occurred to them both that nothing would be accomplished by simply staring, resulting in them both trying to speak at the same time. A brief and embarrassing fiasco ensued in which it was decided by majority vote that Tonks would speak first. Remus was, after all, a gentleman, mortified or not.
"Well, shall we?" she asked tentatively, still unsure of how things stood between them now that it had become completely and painfully obvious that both of them were in way over their heads. And not just in this damned prank of Sirius'.
"We've come this far, it would be shame to turn back now."
"And besides, beyond this door lies out revenge on Sirius for being a colossal prat." The mischief was back in her eyes and it served to clear the air of all tension. They might well be in this way over their heads but they were both adults; they would sort this out eventually.
Remus gallantly stepped forward and pushed the door open only to have his jaw drop at what lay beyond it. If they thought the boggart in the chest had been beyond belief, it was nothing compared to what Sirius had apparently cooked up for them next. Somewhere along the way, his brain made contact with his legs and he stepped over the threshold, closely followed by Tonks. Remus dimly heard her appreciative wolf-whistle, but his brain was once more working ten-to-the-dozen, trying to figure out what on earth was going on and what Padfoot had been thinking, because despite his protests to the contrary, he really wasn't as clever as he thought he was.
It was becoming all too clear what Sirius' plan had been.
It was also fast becoming apparent that his prank had backfired somewhere along the way and was going to have spectacular and far reaching consequences that he hadn't seen coming. But then, divination had never been Padfoot's best subject.
Beyond the door in the tunnel was a room that looked as though it had come straight out of Grimmauld Place. Various adornments hung on pale peach walls that had probably seen better days and the wooden floor was bare. In one corner stood a magnificent and regal looking double bed with green patterned covers that were thankfully not quite as mouldy as similar covers on the beds in the Most Ancient and Noble House of Black. In the other corner was a table laden with what looked like Molly Weasley's idea of a meal for two, which in fact could probably feed the entire Order. In the centre of the table stood an ornate candelabrum that held a single, pale pink candle.
"Oh for the love of Merlin could he be any more subtle?" Sarcasm dripped from Tonks' voice in a manner similar to that which the moisture had dripped from the walls of the tunnel.
Remus chuckled. "I'm afraid that the word 'subtle' isn't in your dear cousin's vocabulary. He has always eschewed such an approach in favour of the more blatantly obvious."
A vaguely amused look passed over Tonks' face that said she knew exactly what he meant. Then the skin between her magenta eyebrows puckered and her face fell into a frown. "How has he had the time to put this together? I mean I know he's not exactly busy but he's not been out of the house for months; at least, not to my knowledge."
"Nor mine," said Remus worriedly, running his hands through his hair and making it very untidy indeed. Breaking Dumbledore's express orders in order to carry out a prank was exactly the sort of thing Sirius would do. He continued: "But I don't think that we have ever left Grimmauld Place."
The words were out of his mouth before the full force of the thought could hit him. There had been something in the back of his mind all day, some niggling little thought that he couldn't quite grasp, like a memory only half remembered. And now all of a sudden he had come to this staggering conclusion seemingly without consulting the rest of his brain. No wonder Tonks was stood with her arms folded across her chest and a look on her face that clearly said she was going to start thinking he had been severely confunded unless he elaborated soon. He nervously cleared his throat.
"Something's been bothering me since we got here, I mean apart from the obvious; it felt like I should know what's going on and I think I've figured it out. You remember when the Weasley twins were staying during the summer? They got into trouble with Molly for those Extendable ears but that wasn't the only product they were working on. I overheard them talking to Sirius about something they had dubbed 'Virtual Vacations' that could take you anywhere you wanted without leaving your own home. I think that what he had done here is a variation on that."
Tonks blinked a couple of times. "So this whole set up is really nothing much more than a glamour? We could have just done a Finite Incantatum at the start of this mess and had done with it?"
"I don't think so, no. From what I could gather this involves several layers of spells and is much more complicated than a simple glamour and thus would take slightly more than a Finite Incantatum to end. But theoretically there should be a fairly simple way out of this."
Remus made his way over to the table in the corner of the small room, not to eat the food on it because he knew Sirius better than that, but to light the candle; once again they were in a room that was just a little bit dingy.
"Is that really a good idea?" asked Tonks, realising what he was going to do. "After all, it was you lighting candles that got us into this mess in the first place."
"As I recall," he replied pleasantly. "It was you who wanted me to light the candles. And don't you think that since it was lighting candles that brought us here, lighting candles might get us out?"
Tonks fixed him with a sceptical look, which he ignored and carried on with his task. He lit the candle, again wordlessly and wandlessly, and this time a bright pink flame flickered into life at the wick. He waited with bated breath but there was no nausea, no spinning no nothing. They hadn't been magically transported back to the library at number 12 Grimmauld Place. He looked rather sheepish and Tonks gave him a look that definitely said 'I told you so'. Remus did the only thing he could reasonably do under such circumstances; he stuck his tongue out at her.
She laughed at him and that simple sound pleased him immeasurably. He marvelled at her apparent ability to make him feel sixteen years old again. He was just starting to think that the butterflies in his stomach had never felt so good when he was a teenager when he caught the faintest whiff of a sickly sweet smell. It made him feel happy and light headed until he realised with a jolt that he knew this particular smell, only too well. It wasn't the first time Sirius sodding Black had tried to use this particular trick on him. Abruptly he cast an Aguamenti effectively putting the candle out. Tonks, who up until that point had been wearing a dreamy and vacant expression snapped out of her reverie and mumbled: "Wotyadothatfur?"
Remus shook his head forcefully to clear it of the haze that still remained. "Sirius… He put a love potion on the candle."
For a moment she looked utterly stunned before her face fell into an angry grimace and the roots of her hair started to turn scarlet. "For the love of…. Did he really think that's what we needed after that boggart? A few quick breaths of love potion, a romantic dinner for two and a nice big bed to work off our frustration at him? What the hell was he thinking?"
"He wasn't, that's the point," interrupted Remus gently, trying to placate the increasingly angry Auror. He stepped towards her and, in the boldest move he had ever made, wrapped his arms securely around her body. "He didn't know what would happen with the boggart; even we wouldn't have known. He just assumed I'd be all manly and heroic and you'd want to find some way of repaying me for my courage." He lowered his voice to an intimate whisper. "He had no idea that things had gotten so serious."
Tonks gave a little giggle, all trace of her earlier anger gone. "Silly him, not knowing how Sirius things were."
Remus groaned, having heard that pun far too many times since he was eleven. "Please let's cast aside all thoughts of your troublesome cousin apart from discussing how we are going to get back at him for putting us through all this. He deserves some legendary payback for this little stunt." He lowered his voice to that intimate whisper once more, and gave her a little half smile. "After that I think we need to have a little conversation about what we are going to do in light of what happened with the boggart; we really need to have a serious conversation."
"I thought we were already having a Sirius conversation," she said, an all too innocent expression on her face, her eyes dancing with mischief and something else.
Given the circumstances the only sensible thing Remus could do to shut her up was cover her mouth with his own.
So he did.
Sirius was bored; they should have figured everything out and come back hours ago. He wanted to know if his little trick had worked and they'd finally realised that they were completely crazy about each other. For Merlin's sake the sexual tension whenever they were in the same room was driving him, and pretty much the rest of the Order, absolutely crazy.
So, really, he had done them both a favour by pulling this very elaborate prank of certifiable genius on them. He just wished they'd do him a favour and come out of their little love nest to congratulate him on his brilliance and thank him for getting them together at last.
Deciding that they really had had long enough to get their act together and unable to resist any longer, Sirius got up from his chair and went upstairs to go check on them. He made to barge straight through the library door without knocking but quickly found that they had anticipated his interference. He picked himself up off the floor with a disgruntled sigh and took out his wand, firing off a couple of investigative spells. He grinned. They might have sealed the door against him but they hadn't Imperturbed the room.
He snickered quietly to himself as he snuck off to find the stash of confiscated Extendable Ears; Molly might have taken them from the kids to stop them from causing mischief, bit she hadn't taken into account the mischief the adults could get up to with them. Triumphantly he slid the pink, fleshy string under the door, stuck the other end in his ear and waited for the incriminating sounds.
The first thing to assault his delicate eardrums was the unmistakable sound of a woman moaning. Sirius' brain hadn't quite caught up with his auditory senses when the moaning was joined by a man grunting. He listened on, horrified, as he heard his little cousin moan 'Remus' in a way that would have been entirely alluring to the man in question, but was utterly disturbing for unwitting voyeurs. The next noise Sirius was the completely perturbing sound of his best mate saying his baby cousin's name in a guttural groan he quite frankly never wanted to hear again. And he was definitely doing something wrong if he could still say 'Nymphadora'. When the unmistakably rhythmical squeaking bedsprings joined the aural maelstrom Sirius decided that discretion was the better part of valour and anyway, he'd heard more than enough.
Reeling in the Extendable Ear as quickly as possible, he staggered off to the kitchen. He had expected to hear something incriminatory and indicative of his plan's success, but he hadn't expected that.
There were some things a man never, ever needed to hear.
Merlin, he needed a stiff drink.
Tonks opened the door cautiously and peered round it to check the coast was clear. When she had ascertained there was a distinct lack of Sirius in the corridor, she gestured for her partner to come out, a giddy grin in her heart-shaped face. Remus stepped out into the corridor and nodded in the general direction of the kitchen. She set off and he quickly followed, easily taking her hand in his own, marvelling at how at home it felt there.
It took them some time to get down to the kitchen, stopping every few paces to whisper in each other's ears, press kisses to noses and cheeks, and get a little bit carried away. Eventually the stumbled towards the kitchen door, giggling like a pair of teenagers, having decided that just because things between them were rather more serious than anybody had anticipated didn't mean they couldn't have a little fun as well; even if that apparently meant behaving like a pair of teenagers in the throes of their first crush.
They barely managed to compose themselves before they entered the kitchen, entering separately and looking as imperious and unimpressed as possible under the circumstances.
They found Sirius sat in one of the chairs, his booted feet propped up on another, looking distinctly worse for wear and with a half empty bottle of Firewhiskey sat on the table.
"Oh so now you decide to emerge," said Sirius, going for a condescending tone but slurring his words quite badly. "You couldn't have done that before mentally scarring me for life?"
"I have absolutely no idea what you're on about," said Remus, a perfectly innocent look plastered on his face.
Sirius muttered something that could quite well have been 'bollocks' before pouring himself another shot of firewhiskey. "So, I take it an enjoyable time was had by all? It certainly seemed that way from what I could hear."
"You shouldn't eavesdrop," said Tonks at the exact same time Remus gave an understanding Ah.
Sirius looked up at his mate, clearly expecting him to elaborate.
"I take it you, er, got our little present for you? In recompense for everything you have done for us this evening," he said, with a small smile that was half smug, half embarrassment.
"Too bloody right I did!" exclaimed Sirius. "Got one hell of an earful as… wait a minute. You set that up? To get back at me for sending you off on a virtual adventure? You weren't actually… you know?" He gestured crudely with his hands, and Tonks stifled a laugh.
"Wouldn't you like to know?" said Remus, raising an eyebrow, his face completely inscrutable.
"Bastard! I'll get it out of you eventually; one of you will give the game away." Sirius slurred.
"We'll enjoy keeping you in suspense, cousin," said Tonks amiably, reaching over to ruffle his already untidy hair. "Thank you for your concern, and for thinking that we'd need help getting together, but I'm afraid you underestimated everyone concerned."
"Underestimated my foot!" protested Sirius as Tonks planted an extravagant kiss on the top of his head. "How long did it take you to work out how to escape?"
"Did it ever occur to you, Padfoot, that we knew perfectly well how to 'escape' but were perfectly happy where we were?" asked Remus, his eyes glinting with amusement.
"No, never at any point did it occur to me that you might be enjoying yourselves in there," said Sirius rather bitterly, his voice simply oozing sarcasm. "You brought it on yourselves you know; if you hadn't taken so long about realising what everyone has known for months..."
"I'm not fifteen any more, I don't need your help," said Remus pointedly.
"Yeah, well you could have fooled me. You're still acting the way you did when you had that massive crush on, oh, what was her name?"
"That was it. And if I recall, I had to intervene to get you to do anything about it then."
Remus made a noncommittal noise in his throat as he grinned self-consciously. He risked a glance at Tonks and caught her looking at her watch. "Well, much as I have been enjoying acting like we were fifteen again, Padfoot, I do believe we will take our leave now. Don't drink too much," he admonished half-heartedly.
"Hmm, don't do anything I wouldn't," Tonks said fondly.
"Wait a minute, where are you two going?"
"Halloween party at the Old Sal. For some reason I feel like a drink," said Tonks wryly. "We'd take you with us," she continued sadly, "but your costume of notorious mass murderer might just be a little too convincing. Annoyed as we are with you, we really don't want you to end up back in Azkaban."
"You sure you don't mind?" Remus asked nervously, conscious of how his old friend felt about his inability to leave the house.
Sirius waved vaguely with his hand and they took it as a sign of dismissal.
Ever the gentleman, Remus gestured for Tonks to go first. Sirius smiled when he noticed his friend's hand in the small of his cousin's back; they might be trying to give nothing away as far as revealing whether they had actually been making the disturbing noises he had heard, but his plan had definitely worked. After months of procrastination they had finally gotten together, Moony's possessive gesture was proof that they were a couple alright, but how serious was it? Tonks had said he'd underestimated them, and maybe he had. He'd certainly underestimated how well Moony would do with her; he didn't seem to have remotely made an arse of himself this time. More's the pity.
Instead it had been him that had been spectacularly got. Sirius shuddered. Real or not, the sounds he had heard earlier had inspired some very disturbing mental images, and definitely required drowning in Firewhiskey. He poured another glass and then stopped to think. He summoned three more glasses so that there was one each for Moony, Padfoot, Prongs and Mrs Prongs; one glass each for the faithful Marauders.
He poured out four measures of Firewhiskey and then raised his own glass in a silent toast.
James would have been proud of this one he thought. Definitely a prank worthy of the Marauders in their prime.
He drained his glass and banged it down on the table with a flourish.
"Happy Halloween," he said out loud to nobody. "Happy bloody Halloween."