A birthday!fic for Gilpin25, 'cause she suggested that I write it as an outtake a loooong time ago, and I finally did :D

Title: The Pine Tree Incident of 1977 (Outtake from Step Into the Night)
Characters: Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs
Rating: PG for language, alcohol, and Sirius Black.
Word Count: 2,345
Summary: The Marauders spend a winter evening drinking, talking about music and women, discussing the finer points of inbreeding, and comparing Remus Lupin to Evel Knievel.
Author's Notes: No plot, really. Just the documentation of an evening with the Marauders. Also, the characters aren't mine.


~*~

Dec. 22, 1977
Approx. 8:45 p.m.
Potter Residence

"Gentlemen, it is a success." Sirius dropped down on a log next to the fire and pulled a radio out of the pocket of his leather jacket. A few flakes of snow drifted down from the sky and caught in his spiked black hair. The crescent moon rose over a ridge of pines behind the clearing where the four sat, around a fire in the meadow behind the Potter home.

James grinned from his perch further down the fallen tree and stuck a marshmallow on the end of a thin branch, then shoved it in the flames. "You mean your illegally-charmed Muggle contraband?"

"If you're referring to my wicked awesome wireless that plays only decent music and none of that pansy pop you girly-men listen to, then yes." Sirius twirled a knob and the melodious guitar stylings of Angus Young filled the clearing. "AC/DC, baby. Oh, don't make that face, Pete. Everyone knows you love a dirty deed done dirt cheap."

A snowball hit Sirius square in the nose. He wiped the snow from his eyes and glared at Peter, who pointed innocently to his left. Remus, sitting cross-legged on a large rock, quickly dusted ice from his gloveless hands and gave his friend a stern look.

"You're going to get arrested someday."

"I don't doubt it. In fact," Sirius shrugged, "I'll be surprised if I'm not." He pulled a bottle from the pocket of his leather jacket and jammed it into a drift of snow at his feet, grinning. "I'm just hoping I can take you all down with me."

"At least you're decent enough to bring the refreshments, even if do plan to drag us down into your life of crime. Where did you get the vodka?"

"I have my sources." He said, loftily, tossing a marshmallow in the air and catching it in his mouth.

"Was it Fletcher, again? 'Cos if that's from Fletcher, it's probably about ninety percent water." Peter added, throwing another branch on the fire.

"Bet he wheedled it out of Rosmerta." James said, blowing out the flaming marshmallow and stuffing it, still slightly smoking, in his mouth. He wiggled his black eyebrows and pushed his glasses up his nose with a sooty, marshmallowy finger.

"Doesn't matter where I got it, Moony. The most important thing is that it's here with us, now." Sirius changed the subject, blushing slightly. "So how are things going with Evans, Prongs? Do reindeer mate for life, or is it more of a one night stand sort of experience?"

"Lily said she'd go out with me after the hols." James wiggled his eyebrows again, ignoring the jibe. He jumped to his feet and danced around the fire, pumping his fists into the air with joy until a mound of snow fell off a branch above him and landed with a slopping sound on top of his head. "But I owled her and asked if she wanted to come up while Mum and Dad are still in France..." He shook the ice from his shaggy hair and kept dancing, singing "Sweet Emotion" at the top of his lungs.

Peter strung a handful of marshmallows on a twig and toasted them carefully over the fire, watching James leap around in the snow. He shook his head in disapproval.

"Now, here's how this one goes, Moony," Sirius sat down on the rock next to Remus, bringing the bottle with him, dropping his voice to a whisper. "Every time James says "Lily", you take a drink. Every time he says "Quidditch", I take a drink. Got it?"

"I'd think he likes Lily a fair bit more than he likes Quidditch."

"I wouldn't be so sure…"

James paused in mid-disco. "Hey guys, do you think Lily'd want a picture of me in my Quidditch gear for Christmas?"

Sirius clapped a hand over his mouth, manic eyes laughing under a curtain of black hair. "You have to drink." He pressed the bottle into his friend's hand and pouted. "Or we're not friends anymore."

"You keep saying that," Remus took a sip from the bottle. "And I'm beginning to think you don't mean it at all."

Nine "Lily's" and eleven "Quidditch's" later…

"We need," Sirius said thoughtfully, his words slurring together a bit. "We need to set you up with a girl, Remus." He sat astride the log, trying to throw bits of bark into the banked coals of the fire.

"Padfoot, please-"

"A hot girl. A real foxy chick."

"Sirius-"

"One with, y'know… skills, 'cos Merlin knows you don't have any-"

Remus scooped up a handful of snow, packed it into a ball, and prepared to open fire on his somewhat smashed comrade. "Black, I swear to God, if you don't shut up now, I'll-"

"Preferably one that's related to me, so you can marry her, and then we'll be related…"

"I would die," He threw the snowball at Sirius and missed; it veered a few feet to the right. "Before I ever married anyone related to you."

"Nah, not before you do, but shortly thereafter, for sure. You're too damn nice for my family. They'd kill you for sport." He grinned, nodding. "Anyways, you're gonna have trouble trying to find one that isn't at least distantly related to me. Prongs and I are already related, aren't we, ol' boy?"

"Unfortunately enough, yes. We're related to bloody everybody." James was stretched out in the snow, having exhausted both his energy supply and his repertoire of dance moves, now waving his arms back and forth through the powder to make an angel imprint. "But that explains you, Padfoot. What with that demented personality resulting from decades of severe inbreeding and such… "

"You're not related to Evans, are you Prongs?" Peter sat on the log, messing around with the wireless.

"God, I hope not. That would be weird." He rolled over onto his elbows. "Nah, she's Muggleborn, remember? We're not related. Hey, go back to that song, Pete… I like that one! Layla! You got me on my knees, Layla!" James howled at the frigid night sky.

"And on that sour note…" Remus stood up and stretched his arms, then fell over face-first into a snowdrift. He sat up, brushing snow out of messy brown hair. "You talk about Lily too much, Prongs. I don't think I can handle it any more. I know my stomach can't handle it."

"Beggin' darlin' please, Layla!"

"I think he's saying "Layla"," Sirius interjected. "Not "Lily"."

"Darlin' won't you ease my worried mind!"

"Same bloody difference."

"Moony, come on." Sirius pulled him to his feet slinging an arm around his shoulders. "Let's walk."

"Where're we walking?"

"The garage. I've another project; you gotta see this, you're gonna love it."

Together they waded through ankle-deep snow to the Potter's garage, where Sirius unlatched the door and pulled his friend inside, flicking on the light above them with magic. He pulled a canvas dropcloth from a lumpy shape tucked between an old Muggle refrigerator and a workbench.

"Lookit. A Kawasaki KZ-1000… Brand new, baby."

"A motorcycle?"

"No, Remus. A damn Shetland pony." Sirius whacked him on the back of the head. "Of course it's a motorcycle, you git."

"Wha- how…When did you get this?"

"Just a few days ago. A guy down the street was selling it and I had a bit of cash, so I bought it."

"What in hell are you going to do with a motorbike?"

"I'm gonna sit here and look at it." Sirius shined the round headlight with the sleeve of his coat. "I'm going to drive it. I needed a mode of transportation. You know how I am on a broom."

"Worse than me?" Remus reached out a tentative hand and poked the leather seat. It squeaked satisfyingly, and he looked back at his friend. "You bought a motorcycle."

"Yup." He grinned proudly, rubbing his hands together. "Gorgeous, innit?"

"Uh, I guess."

Sirius stroked the handlebars tenderly. "I lurve her."

"I'm sure. " Remus pulled his Muggle uncle's old RAF jacket tighter around his shoulders. "Do you even have a driver's license?" The dim yellow garage light refracted fathomless depths of dimension in the glossy black paint. Both of their reflections stared back at them, distorted and warped in the curve of the gas tank.

"Nope. Don't need one- "

"No? So you are just going to sit and look at it?"

"It doesn't drive. It flies."

"It what?"

"It flies."

"It what?"

"It flies."

"No, seriously."

"I AM SIRIUS. THE MOTORBIKE FLIES." He shouted, jumping up and down so that his spiky hair bounced. He sloshed a good amount of vodka on his Sex Pistols shirt and the chain around his neck rattled.

"Flies?" Remus asked, with his eyebrows attempting an escape into his hair. "Flies!"

"Yes. Flies. I charmed it to fly. You know, like, off the ground. Up in the sky. Defying gravity. You know; birds, brooms, kites, airplanes?"

"Oh."

"Cool, eh? And you thought the Map was a bad idea…"

"Yes, you've really outdone yourself this time." He pulled bottle from Sirius' hand and took a long drink. "This really is your worst idea ever-"

"And you're going to learn to fly it."

Remus took a step backwards, and into a dusty spider web. "What?"

Sirius grabbed the handlebars and wheeled the motorcycle out into the gravel driveway. "Come on."

"I think you've had too much to drink."

"Nope-" Sirius' boots slipped on the edge of the garage floor and he fell backwards against his hesitant companion. "You're going to do it, and you're going to like it."

"I think I've had too much to drink. Drunk driving is illegal, Padfoot."

"Flying motorcycles are illegal, too." He shrugged. "Either way, we're screwed. But you're going to fly it; it'll be my Christmas present to you. And you're not drunk; you've only fallen down twice."

Remus backed away, slipping on the same bit of concrete. "You could just make me a card, instead-"

"Nope. As of right now, you're enrolled in flight academy," Sirius grabbed him by the collar of his jacket. "And class begins today." He hauled both his friend and his motorbike out into the yard.

The amber glow from the porch light glistened on the snowdrifts and frosted grass in the Potter's front yard, the icy gravel crunched under Sirius' heavy boots. He pushed Remus towards the motorcycle.

"I really don't think this is such a good idea."

"You never do. Corrupting you is my one joy in life; do you really want to deny me that?"

"And what if we get killed?" Remus frowned.

"My mum would throw a huge party." He laughed. "Now get on the damn bike."

Remus threw his leg over the seat, looking at the gauges in confusion. "Okay, but I'm not leaving the ground."

"Anything you say, Moony. Alright, now turn the ignition."

"Ignition?"

"This one!" Sirius turned a key and the engine sputtered on. He clambered onto the back seat, delivering instructions to the bewildered driver, his chin on Remus' shoulder.

"Hold in the clutch-"

"What's the clutch?"

"This one." He pointed at the left handle. "Now give it a little gas."

"How!?"

"Turn the throttle."

"The what?"

Sirius reached forward and twisted the right handle. "This is the throttle." The motor roared, echoing down the street. "Like that!" He shouted over the noise. "'Kay, now shift gears. Let off the clutch first! Slowly! Left foot, Moony. Left foot!"

"Okay!" Remus nudged the gearshift with his trainer, abruptly releasing the clutch. The bike rocketed upward, forward; zipping through the tree branches and over the roof of the garage towards the meadow behind the house.

"AGH!"

"Too much gas! Too much gas!"

"This is a bad idea!"

"It's okay!"

"If we die, I'm blaming you!"

"That's fine!"

The ground leapt away, ten feet, twenty feet and they were above the tallest trees and climbing.

"You said we didn't have to leave the ground! I'm not a bloody Evil Kneazle, Black!"

"It's Evel Knievel, Moony! Get it right! Evel Knievel!"

"You said-"

"I lied! Look, there's James! Circle him!" Sirius yelled, pushing wind-whipped hair out of his face. He clutched the back of Remus' jacket with one hand and pointed at the forms of James and Peter, silhouetted by the fire and waving. "Dive! Dive!"

A snowball zoomed past Remus' ear as he steered the bike towards the ground.

"Erm, they're throwing snow at us. I think I want down now."

"Prepare for evasive maneuvers! Watch for trees!"

He swerved to miss a tree, dodging branches left and right. Wormtail and Prongs ran a few feet beneath them, spelling snowballs to fly up toward the pair on the motorbike. "Sirius! How do you land? Where are the brakes?"

"Oh, yeah! I forgot to tell you-"

A snowball hit Sirius in the teeth and knocked him backwards, off the bike… and on top of Peter.

"Oof." They both hit the snow with a thump.

"Bloody hell, Moony! Slow down!"

"HOW?!" His panicked yell was all that was left behind as the bike sped up, up, and away.

Sirius and Peter looked at each other, and then back at the retreating outline of the bike and driver.

"Oh, hell."

The motorbike hit one of the taller trees head-on and dropped like a rock to the ground, landing with the mingled sounds of a crash and several shouted swear words. The heap of wrecked motorcycle gave off a cloud of smoke and Remus was scrambling to his feet, slipping in the ice…

A new, sickening creak drew Sirius' eyes toward the sky.

"Hey, James?" He whispered, frozen to the ground where he stood.

"What?"

"Your mum still need a Christmas tree?"

"Yeah, why?"

A six foot section of tree swayed dangerously, then snapped and fell to the ground in slow-motion, landing on top of both boy and motorcycle.

The three stood transfixed, glued to the spot with panic until a hand shot through the needly branches in a thumbs-up, and a muffled voice called from under the fallen treetop...

"Take that, Evil Kneazle!"


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