A/N: Merry Christmas! I offer this epilogue as a thank you to all those who have spared a moment to review the story and make my day.



"Yes, please," two voices answered in chorus. Sirius turned slightly and winked at Remus, who rolled his eyes right back in response.

"Stoat sandwich?"

"You know," said Sirius, a pained expression scrawled across his face, "I do believe that I'm allergic."

"Yeh did look a bit ill after the sandwich I gave yeh last time," Hagrid noted, nodding sadly. "I don' righ' understand it. There's nothin' in there but some nice roasted stoat."

Remus coughed as Sirius rapped his fingers against the hard surface of the table breezily. "Well, you know what they say about stoat, eh, Hagrid? 'Eat stoat, expect to bloat.'"

Hagrid frowned. "Never heard of it." He shrugged once before turning to Remus, the loose frills on his apron almost sending the teapot flying. "How about you, Remus? Can I interest yeh in a stoat sandwich?"

It was extremely difficult to ignore Sirius' less-than-muffled snort of laughter, but Remus somehow managed. He cleared his throat awkwardly and lowered his voice a little. "Er, well, Hagrid, I wouldn't feel right, enjoying a sandwich while Sirius goes without. Maybe next time."

Hagrid shrugged again and turned away, rummaging around in his little kitchen.

"Where've I gone and put the bloody teabags now?"

Now that Hagrid's back was turned, Sirius completely ignored Remus' strict rule of secrecy, pulling their joined hands from beneath the table and onto his lap.

"You are truly noble," he murmured, eyes gazing up at Remus from beneath heavy shades of lashes. "To sacrifice your own needs for my own, why, I simply can't –"

"Oh, shut up," said Remus, cheeks colouring readily. "If you can get out of eating that monstrosity of a foodstuff, then I certainly can."

"Should've just accepted it and fed it to poor Fang here," Sirius said, his free hand outstretched and rubbing vigorously at the adoring boarhound. "I know exactly how much dogs appreciate a nibble. Just a titbit and your eyes go rolling back in happiness…"

"Oi," Hagrid called from somewhere beneath the sink. "Get yer hands away from Fang! I will not have you ruddy boys tamperin' with 'im again for one o' yer pranks, d'yeh hear?"

Sirius laughed out loud in response, and Remus thought he might have even heard a deep chuckle responding from beneath the kitchen sink.

"That was ages ago, Hagrid!" Sirius protested finally, his fingers still embedded in Fang's fur. "That must've been three years now! Forgive and forget, yeah?"

"Wha' about that time you an' James galloped 'im into the lake, eh? Or the time las' year when yeh charmed 'im bright blue –"

Sirius' laughter only increased in heartiness at all the lovely memories. "He's been a good sport, hasn't he, Remus? A better sport than you, most of the time. And look, Hagrid – even after all I've dragged him through, he still absolutely dotes on me, doesn't he?"

Remus gazed down at the obsequious boarhound and sighed. Those warm chocolate pools of liquid adoration staring up at Sirius could very well be his own. It was a sad and undeniable fact: no matter how much trouble and trauma Sirius dragged him through, there was no way that Remus could ever say no to him. There was no way the werewolf could even scrounge up a little piece of dislike or resentment for the grey-eyed half of Hogwart's Pestilent Pair.

One thing was certain. Remus was in it deep. Neck-deep. Nose-deep at times (he often found it hard to breathe when Sirius was around). Sirius was Trouble, just as James was Trouble, and Peter tried to be Trouble. Remus wouldn't change that for all the Honeydukes' chocolate in the world – no matter how many times he got dragged through the lake (seven times to date and counting).

It was hard to pull his eyes from the pale fingers that were still stroking over Fang's shiny coat, but eventually Remus sighed and checked his watch.

"Come on, we'd better scoot," he muttered to Sirius as Hagrid finally straightened, a small bag of tea leaves clutched triumphantly in one giant hand. "Sorry Hagrid, we've got Divination now. Nyx will kill us if we're late again. Good to see you, though!"

"Yeah, it's been too long, Remus," Hagrid answered, his disappointment already fading into a warm smile that crinkled his eyes into black beetles. "An' you too, Sirius," he said more loudly, laughter clearly evident in his tone. "Fang misses yeh. I don' understand it, myself."

The two boys (hands separated for both Remus' and delicacy's sakes) exited the cabin with smiles wide across their faces. Remus rubbed a hand against his cheeks, feeling the muscles strain and pull like they had been for the past several months. Evidently, it was not natural to smile so much. It was probably indecent to carry about a grin on your face at all hours of the day – undoubtedly, Filch had been taking some rather sour notes.

Ah well, he thought to himself, cheer still stretched across his face despite it all. It wasn't like he could help it, anyway. He was as doped up on Sirius as Fang.

He glanced across quickly to Sirius, who was strolling close beside him. There was a smile over there too, the familiar cheeky smirk. Remus rolled his eyes (a regular habit after all these years). Sirius was probably still gleeful about his triumph in convincing Remus to 'go out with him'. Oh, and there was probably some remnant glee from –

"What took you so long?" James burst out, bursting out in person from behind a rather enormous pumpkin. "Peter's been playing 'I Spy' with himself for hours, and I couldn't remember that silencing spell!"

"You mean silencio?" Remus asked, entirely unable to prevent his eyes from embarking on yet another circuit around his head.

"Quiet, you," said Sirius, waving a finger mockingly at James. "You got to wait out here, all nice and safe in the pumpkin patch, while Remus and I went in and did the dirty work of distraction."

Upon hearing the magic words – 'dirty work' – James practically leapt about himself in glee. "This is going to be brilliant!" he cheered quietly, clapping his hands. "Oi, Pete – come out here and join in the scheming!"

Compliantly, Peter's dusky blond head rose out from behind another giant pumpkin. Remus stared for a moment at the unusual sight of the small boy wrestling with a piece of parchment that sprawled out into the air like a stiffened tablecloth.

"We really must refine the map," he sighed to the others. "I mean, we've got everything on there and all, and you finally managed to charm the names above the moving dots" – he paused and beamed at Sirius – "but there's not really much point having a map of stealth the size of a blanket."

"I'm trying to find Hagrid!" Peter squeaked nervously, his hands pouring over all the parchment he could reach. "He can't be allowed to find us, or everything will be ruined!"

"I'm righ' here," came a very familiar voice from barely a metre away, and all four boys jumped in shock. Remus spun on his heel, eyes travelling up all two metres of overcoat-wearing, bearded suspicion. "Now, what was it that was goin' to be ruined?"

In a moment of remarkable intelligence, James whipped out his wand and silently vanished the enormous map from Peter's very fingers. Remus blinked at this unexpected display of sheer talent. Hagrid blinked at the sudden absence of map, but then shook his head, obviously dismissing the existence of the parchment as a figment of his imagination.

A second after the vanishing, and three seconds after Hagrid's question, a sudden volley of screams arose from somewhere across the lawn. The startled cries were quickly joined by an odd sort of screeching sound.

Remus cringed at the cacophony (though his smile had never truly faded).

"What's happenin' at the quidditch pitch?" Hagrid wondered aloud, turning to peer off into the distance.

Sirius and James exchanged twin smiles. They looked evil.

"Too late," Remus said with the merest hint of an apology, reaching up on his toes and patting Hagrid on the shoulder. "Nothing's ruined after all."

Hagrid groaned. "What have yeh gone an' done now?"

Sirius nudged Remus sharply in the ribs, and the werewolf sighed once before commencing: "Well, look, Hagrid. We've been working on this one for a while, so we're all quite proud of it. Thing is, we decided that the Slytherins have been becoming a little, well, complacent lately…" His voice trailed off as he had to begin searching for his words, looking helplessly for the diplomatic explanation.

James decided quickly that the diplomatic explanation did not exist. He continued where Remus had left off with an easy grin. "Basically, my good friend, we enlarged my old Sneakoscope to giant proportions, hid it over here beneath the loose dirt of your pumpkin patch (it was too noisy to keep in our dormitory, you see) and dug it up while you were chatting away in your cabin with Remus and Sirius."

"Yeh WHAT?" Hagrid began, his voice outraged, but James spoke on, unperturbed:

"It was really pretty easy from there, you see – I just charmed the Sneakoscope to seek out Slytherins and chase them around a bit (like snowballs at Christmas)! Liven them up, you know. And you know what?" he continued merrily, stretching a hand towards the nearby quidditch pitch. "I think they may be holding their quidditch trials today!" James peered back over at Sirius with a twisted smirk. "What a coincidence."

"Mischief managed," Sirius replied with an enormous wink, and the pair of them broke into a spontaneous chorus of evil chortling. Peter laughed right along with them, blond head shaking with mirth.

Speechless, Hagrid looked to Remus for some reassurance. Remus shrugged, finding himself unable to inject the conversation with any semblance of sanity.

"I, er, I better go back to my cabin," Hagrid coughed, ducking his head away quickly. "Thing is, I can't have it looking like I've been involved in this, yeh see?"

Remus nodded silently, waving once at the giant of a man as he padded back down the garden path to his cabin. As he was watching the door swing soundly shut, he felt a cool hand slip into his own. His heartbeat immediately leapt up to the challenge and pounded out a grand tattoo.

"That went alright, hey?" Sirius whispered, his voice still imbued with mirth. "The Sneakoscope has better things to chase than some boring old werewolf, doesn't it?"

"Remember back on the train that time in third year?" Remus asked quietly. "I thought the Sneakoscope was going to expose my lycanthropy for the whole world, you know – or maybe just you three, anyway, but it was terrifying."

"You are my whole world," said Sirius, gazing straight at Remus with a terrifying clarity lightening his grey eyes. "And we exposed you anyway, without a stupid dark device."

"And then you became bloody animagi, and the full moon didn't even matter anymore." Remus' smile could have cracked his face in two. "You sodding idiots. You know you could still be arrested for what you've done?"

"The thrill is in the evasion," Sirius said breezily, squeezing Remus' fingers.

"I think you mean 'the chase'," Remus corrected.

"Ah yes, the chase," murmured Sirius, his voice sliding into velvet as his face moved closer to Remus'. "Tell me more about this chase, Moony."

"I can only tell you that it's likely to continue for a few hours," Remus laughed, dodging away just as quickly. It couldn't be denied that James and Peter had been incredibly understanding about their friends' relationship. Indeed, after the outbreak of some primary insecurities (resolved through an impromptu tussle), the Marauders had been right as rain with the new dynamic. Remus suspected that James even felt the group to have improved through this unexpected development. Still, despite all this, Remus didn't like to push at the boundaries.

Romance and kissing and all that wonderful relationship nonsense were purely reserved for private time.

"You've got a hairy heart," Sirius whispered, the old smirk fixed firmly back on his lips.

"And it's all yours," Remus replied in a sarcastically mellifluous tone, but his eyes shone with nothing but truth.

A/N: THE (actual) END.

A final thanks to all those who have spared me a moment and a review – your comments mean absolutely everything to me.

And cheers to all who have read the entire story! I hope you enjoyed it.

xx Froody