Disclaimer: This world of magic belongs to JK Rowling. I'm just playing with the action figures for a while.

Chapter 7 - Little Black Dress

Their daily schedule didn't really change. It just expanded to fit the extra minutes it took to do everything twice. The accoutrements in the nursery doubled too. Two small beds, two wardrobes, two of most of the toys so that there weren't fights over a favorite. The only thing the two guardians couldn't increase was their energy, and that was always flagging by the end of the day.

One evening in late February, after Harry and Neville had finally gone to sleep for the night, Remus and Sirius were relaxing in the library. Remus was levitating a large tome on obscure hexes and their counters in front of him, since it was too heavy to hold. Every so often he would wave the hand that wasn't holding his wand in a lazy arc and another page would turn. Sirius turned his head from watching the flames in the fireplace to see his friend's progress and rolled his eyes at the display of wandless magic. "Show off!", he muttered to himself.

A small smile crept across Lupin's face to show he had heard the comment. Not taking his eyes from the page in front of him, he said, "Did you know that if you were to curse someone to make all their food taste like eggplant, they would have to roll across a bed of parsley, naked, under a new moon, to take the curse off? Do you think that's because parsley is good for clearing the palate under normal circumstances?"

"I hate eggplant!", complained Sirius.

"I know," returned Remus slyly.

"Do we have a bed of parsley?" Sirius sat up quickly in alarm as he realized what Lupin was implying. He was halfway to his feet when Remus waved his free hand again and magically pushed him back into his seat. "Relax," he said with a short laugh, "I wouldn't do that to you. Unless I was alone, or with somebody." Sirius had a confused look on his face as he worked that out, which only caused Lupin to laugh again.

"Is this the only entertainment you can come up with?" sighed Sirius when he finally got the joke. "Making fun of me?"

"Well, you said you were too tired to do anything in the game room tonight, or any night for that matter," replied Remus, still reading.

"I can't help it. The boys wear me out so much, that by the end of the day I'm just glad to sit down for a while and put my feet up." Sirius sighed again. "Who would have thought that the heir to the house of Black would be reduced to retiring to an armchair by the fire at nine o'clock at night at the ripe young age of twenty-two?"

"That's the 'heir to the Noble House of Black', and I'd say you're just 'dog-tired'," laughed Remus again, finally looking up from his reading to see the canine animagus assume his form and come galumphing over to knock his friend out of the chair with the force of his weight. The levitating charm was broken in the ensuing tussle, and the huge book landed with a reverberating thud on the ground, while Remus' wand went flying into a corner of the room.

Padfoot licked Lupin's face one last time in triumph and morphed back into his human form, stretching before returning to his earlier position by the fire.

Remus climbed to his feet, wiping drool off his face and reaching out his hand in the direction he last saw his wand go. "Accio wand," he intoned, and the wand flew into his hand. "What I really think you need, Padfoot, is a night out." Lupin raised the book back up with a quick flick and swish, and checked it carefully for damage. "Things have calmed down enough since Voldemort's disappearance for us to chance being seen around town again. As long as we don't establish a pattern, no one will be able to predict when we'll be in any one place." He raised an eyebrow. "If you're especially paranoid, you can use a glamour and change your appearance."

"I would stay away from places you used to go to," Lupin grimaced in distaste, "and not just because of wanting to keep a low profile. You could do with a change in the type of girl you bring home. Not that you'll be bringing any of them home in the near future," he added hastily when he noticed Sirius' sudden frown, "You'll just have to tell your lady friends that you'll meet them somewhere. If you manage to see them more than once."

"That could be construed as a slur on my character!" Sirius pouted in mock affront, "What about you? Aren't you planning on a few outings yourself? I seem to remember you frequenting a few places that weren't so classy. Maybe we'll have to make a wager of some kind," he grinned mischievously, "How about...the first one who finds a woman to date steadily for a month gets to dress the other in drag and watch while they try to pick up the oldest wizard in the Leaky Cauldron on a Friday night?"

xxxxxxx

"Hold still Sirius!" Remus was pinning a conjured barrette in the long black hair of his best friend. "I just have to finish your make-up..." He stepped around Sirius and waved his wand back and forth in front of a very sullen face, reciting the incantation, then gave him the hand mirror and stepped back.

Sirius took the mirror while attempting to adjust the hem line of the dress he was wearing. "Why does it have to be so short?" he grumbled, "No one's going to take me up on anything if they get a load of these legs." Looking in the mirror he grimaced, "I'll have to hope their eyesight is too bad to notice anything amiss. Green eyeshadow and five o'clock shadow don't go together. If I have to do this I'm hoping to get a decent dinner out of it anyway. How did you know the charm for make-up?"

Remus smirked, "I've had a couple of months to look it up and practice. Besides, I've got the inside track since I'm the one that won the bet. My girlfriend helped me!"

Sirius hobbled over to a seat in a dark corner of Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlor. He deserved a few moments with something cold and sweet after the past two hours of embarrassment. Thank goodness Remus had enough talent with transfiguration to keep everyone from recognizing the Black scion as he had pranced through the Leaky Cauldron, boldly flirting with the elderly Antigonus Bellows. 'If I had to lose a bet, at least I did it in style,' he thought, as he took off one of his shoes and brought his foot up to rest on his knee so he could rub it, 'and I got dinner out of the old skinflint! How do women wear these things all day?' He put his shoe back on and took off the other one. He gave Mr. Fortescue his order and continued to rub, routinely scanning the customers around him for signs of recognition or danger.

Not too many people were present at the moment. Across the room a family was finishing up and preparing to leave, near the front of the shop a couple was playing footsie and smiling at each other, and at the table next to him a young woman was sitting stirring an ice cream float of some kind. He paused to take a better look at the woman. She wore her honey-brown hair in a bob that was longer in the front than the back and tucked behind one ear. She also wore a slight frown as she stirred her order, seeming to be deep in thought.

As if she felt his gaze on her, she raised her eyes and returned his stare, exchanging her frown for a smirk when she realized that, despite the women's robes and heels, she was looking at a man. "Lose a bet?" she asked with a twinkle in her hazel eyes.

"Yes, actually," Sirius replied sheepishly. He grinned at her and said, "Care to join me? I'll tell you the whole sordid story."

"Sure. I'm up for a good story." She picked up her drink and slid into the seat across from him. "I'm Calliope," she said, reaching her hand across the table, "Calliope Montrose."

Sirius clasped her hand in his own and introduced himself, "I'm Sirius Black. My hair is usually much shorter. I think its longer tonight because the natural curl has been deflated. Much like my ego." He proceeded to explain the bet, and described how he had previously been spending his evening. They were both laughing when he finished. The ice cream was more like soup by the time they got around to eating it and they wound up talking for a couple of hours before they noticed how late it was getting. It wasn't hard for Sirius to arrange another meeting with Calliope, and he was glad that she wasn't frowning anymore.