A/N: This was my Christmas present to my sister last year, and I'm only just posting it now because I only just remembered that I can. ha ha. For those of you who have read Russet022's Bound by Moonlight, you know who Tilia Manoran is. For those of you who haven't read Russet022's Bound by Moonlight, know that Tilia is an OC, and then go read BBM, because it is honestly one of the best written Remus-es ever! So enjoy this bit of New Year's fluff, and thanks!
Merry Christmas, Russet. I love you.
James Potter was trying very hard not to laugh at his girlfriend, Lily Evans, as she whirled around and around in his Invisibility Cloak, only her head visible.
"James, this is amazing!" she exclaimed.
"I'm glad you think so," he said. "But we've got to get going if we want to make it back from the kitchens before curfew."
"Hold on…" Lily said, fingering the silvery folds of the Cloak. "This is how you've been sneaking around, isn't it?"
"Sneaking!?" James cried in mock disbelief. "Sneaking! We bring you chocolates and Butterbeers and goodness knows what else, that nobody else can find, and you say sneak!"
"Yes," Lily said, smiling and swaying over to him. "But you're very good at sneaking."
"Sirius is better," James murmured, pulling her into his arms.
"Mm, I'm sure." Conversation trailed off into kisses.
"Okay, that's enough, Lovebirds," a laughing voice said from the boys' dormitory door. James and Lily sprang apart, blushing as Sirius flicked the lights on with his wand. "People might think you're doing naughty things up here with no chaperone."
"Let me guess. Remus sent you." James' voice was accusing.
"No," Sirius said, leaning against the door jamb. "I sent myself. The house-elves are waiting, and New Year's Eve is getting no farther away."
"It was rather last minute, wasn't it?" Lily said sheepishly.
"Nothing you do is last minute, fair lady," Sirius said gallantly, with an enormously extravagant bow. "Now I suggest you and our knight in not-so-shining armor get under that remarkable cloak and head off to satisfy your sweet tooth."
"Oh, shut it," James growled with a swipe at his friend's head. Sirius merely ducked and let out a bark of laughter before shushing the invisible pair out of the dormitory.
"Off you go, Robin, and be sure to not tread on Maid Marian's toes on the way down."
"Ha very ha," James grumbled.
"I don't know if I'd mind getting my toes treaded on. Maybe I'd get a kiss that way," Lily whispered. James smiled and promised to give her the snogging of her life when they got back from their business in the kitchens.
"James and Lily off to get the party food in order?" Remus asked as Sirius came down to the Common Room.
"Finally," the dark-haired boy sighed, flopping down in the armchair opposite him. "I caught them snogging away up there."
"Well," Remus began, but trailed off as Tilia walked by. She smiled and headed off to the girls' dormitory stairs. Remus sighed. Sirius watched the interaction with a sly grin.
"You're wishing she wasn't so busy studying for her early exams, right?" he asked his light-haired friend. Remus glared at him.
"She needs all the good grades she can get, going for her Masters in Potions," Remus defended, sparing a longing glance up the stairs after his girlfriend before turning back to his book.
Sirius shuddered. "Imagine, a private class with Slughorn and Snivellus! I think I'd rather die."
"There is the little fact that Til gets along with Snape. She can at least have a decent conversation with him, and they rarely digress into hexes." Remus didn't even look up from his reading.
"Yeah, she's got the patience of a saint, that one." But Remus continued to ignore him, and soon, Sirius' attention wandered. He began to watch his girlfriend, Jessy Elwyn, who was playing a Muggle card game called Spoons with a group of sixth years and some gold cutlery borrowed from the Great Hall. He knew he was distracting her, and that was why she lost the next round. She laughed loud and long before standing up and coming over to him.
"I was winning, you know," she pouted.
"Yeah…" He took her hand and pulled her toward the boys' dormitory. "I can think of another game you could win."
"Does it involve private places, and snogging?" she asked, one eyebrow slightly raised.
"I think it does." She giggled and allowed herself to be taken upstairs.
"Sirius, that's disgusting!" Remus' voice trailed after them, but his admonishment fell on deaf ears.
"Is there any way we can possibly get Tilia to stop studying?" Sirius asked Jessy about forty-five minutes later, when they had surfaced from their death-defying round of snogging. Remus had wryly commented that the pair's combined lung capacity might rival the Giant Squid's. Sirius had hexed him for that one. Remus' hair had been pink for a week.
"I don't think so," Jessy said, rolling onto her side to face him on the bed. "She's so wrapped up in the N.E.W.T. exams—she has to pass with Os to get into the Master classes next term."
"I know," Sirius said. "But shouldn't she take some time off of studying? Stop cramming, and give herself breathing room?"
"Well, she should, but she won't. You don't know her like I do. She's not going to put a book down until five minutes before the exam, when they have to enter the testing room and leave their books outside."
"It's just…" Sirius paused. "Remus is lonely." He never thought he would have to say that after their fifth year, when Remus and Tilia started dating. They never seemed to be separated, and when they were, James, Sirius, and Peter were there. Now, after that awful prank at the end of last year…Remus had been spending less and less time with the Marauders, and more and more time with Tilia. Oh, he had completely forgiven Sirius, and the friends were almost as close as they had been before—almost. Remus' eyes went dark whenever James or Sirius mentioned taking Moony out of the Shack on full moons. He still consented to it occasionally, but only if they were going into the Forbidden Forest. The grounds were off-limits, as was the village. And Sirius saw the sense in this, but the look in Moony's eyes…
"I hate to see him missing her so much," he said. "They were pretty much inseparable until these stupid exams came up. It's like school suddenly became more important than their relationship."
"Sirius, their relationship isn't like ours, you know," Jessy chided him softly. "School is more important there."
"Yeah, well they need to rethink their priorities," he grumbled. Jessy laughed.
"Because a bit of snogging is definitely more important than getting a Potions Masters?" she asked sarcastically.
"Yes, when the Potions Masters is driving them both mad, and keeping them away from each other long enough for people to start wondering if Ti dumped Remus and ran off with Snape!"
"Oh spirits," Jessy whispered, sitting up. "Who's saying that?"
"Lucius Malfoy, Bellatrix, Nott, Avery, Dolohov—"
"Obviously! Slytherins, all, and just trying to make Remus mad!"
"And Boot, Roberts, Stanton—Ravenclaws—Perkins, Jennings—Hufflepuff—the entire Ravenclaw Quidditch team, and yesterday, Selma Thorns who happens to be one of your roommates!"
"Okay." Jessy let out a sigh.
"So, what are we going to do about it?"
"Well, James and Lily did start that New Year's Eve party…" Jessy said slowly. Sirius sat up as well, inspiration dawning.
"All right, I've got a plan." He smiled and pulled her down again to tell her about it in between kisses.
"Sirius, that's disgusting!"
The red curtains around the dark-haired boy's bed were ripped aside, and light flooded into the warm, dark cave-like space.
"Like you don't do the same thing, James, in the open," Sirius said, sitting up grinning. Jessy laughed and swung her legs over the side of the bed.
"Oh, please," James protested. "Lily and I do not—"
"Actually, Sirius has a point," Lily budged in. "You corner me in the hallways. Sirius at least honored Jessy's pleads for privacy, and brought her up here."
"Yeah," James said, blushing, "but people might think they were doing naughty things up here, with no chaperone!"
Sirius groaned and threw a punch at his best friend before rolling to the floor to find the shirt that had somehow made its way down there.
"All right, enough with the teasing," Jessy said. "We have to put Operation: Reunification into motion."
"Operation: Reunification?" Lily asked, puzzled.
"Remus and Tilia no longer have time for each other—Ti with all her Potions exams, and Remus with his books. We decided to force them to spend three hours in each others' company tonight," Sirius explained.
"Was that before or after the snog?" James asked.
"During," Sirius and Jessy replied in unison.
"Was that before or after that shirt got lost?" Lily asked.
"Ouch," Jessy said, feigning offense and clutching her heart in agony.
James and Lily laughed, and Sirius and Jessy eventually joined in. They stopped when Remus' bedside clock beeped on the hour.
"Seven o'clock," James said, "What's your plan?"
"What is it that Tilia cannot resist?" Jessy asked.
"Remus?" James suggested.
"Apparently not," Lily commented dryly, recalling them as to why this plan had to have been formed in the first place. "Chocolate? Books?"
"Music," Sirius said, eyes glowing with mischief. "Jess swiped some of Ti's Muggle CDs—the ones she listens to while she studies. She's going to have to come downstairs, out of that godforsaken dormitory during the party to look for them. But they're going to be playing, and Remus is going to ask her to dance. Then there's the little part of our plan that is all up to Remus…"
He finished explaining, and soon, James and Lily's eyes were also alight with mischief.
"This might just work," James said. "Maybe the best time to come up with pranks and deceptions is while you're snogging."
"You should try it sometime," Jessy said, giving him a shove. "It's really rather enlightening."
Tilia woke up with a start in the dark silence of the dormitory, wondering why she had been using One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi as a pillow, why there was no music, why her lamp had been turned off, and why the clock was striking nine-thirty. She heard faint laughter from downstairs, and grumbled about her fellow Gryffindors making too much noise.
There were just too many of them here. Practically all the students from fourth through seventh year had stayed at Hogwarts this Winter Holiday, and she figured she knew why. Many parents thought their children were safer at school than at home—all the attacks and killings—it made sense. But at the same time, it annoyed her, and brought out the snarky side of her that she had developed from being in contact with Severus for too long.
She was taking her N.E.W.T. exams for Potions, Charms, Transfiguration, and Defense Against the Dark Arts in two weeks, so that she would have second term completely free for Masters Classes in Potions. She had taken advantage of the three week holiday to study. And study more. She did feel a bit guilty for ignoring her friends, but the one trip to Hogsmeade had been enough time away from her books. She had never really liked Butterbeer anyway. And she had spent Christmas with them. She couldn't work on Christmas.
Sirius, her cousin and the only person she allowed to call her "Ti," had been trying to persuade her out of her studies into fun—or rather, hours of non-productive laziness spent lounging about in front of the fire or freezing out in the cold, snowy grounds. She had avoided his distractions by retreating from the library to the girls' dormitory, where he couldn't follow her.
The problem with that was…well, she was avoiding Remus' distractions as well. But he understood the importance of her studies, and let her cloister herself in her room. Besides, he had his books. And Sirius could distract anyone, whether they be bogged down in homework or lonely, or anything else. He was in good hands. And she could trust her friends to take care of him until she passed her exams.
She refused to think that she might have less time to spend with him once her Masters classes started.
Drat that bloody party James had concocted (urgh, she was even thinking in Potions terms…). And drat the idiot who had stolen her music. She would have bet anything it was Jessy, and since she couldn't right well murder her best friend, she would have to settle for dumping a cauldron of Ageing Potion over her head, and turning her into an old woman (argh—more Potions!).
She had just about decided to go downstairs and fetch her music back when a draft from the open window blew out her light a second time.
"All right, all right!" she shouted at the invisible forces that were driving her out of her studious state of mind. "I'm going! And this party had better be good."
She thought she heard a giggle as she closed the dormitory door, but shook her head, deciding it was just a figment of her overworked mind.
"Remus, I have something for you."
He looked up from his book as the curtains around his bed twitched aside to reveal Jessy holding something behind her back.
"What is it?" he asked, marking his place and setting his book aside. And he was just getting to the good part—Til had said the best part started around chapter eleven, and she hadn't been wrong. Til…
"If you come downstairs, I can show you." There was a mischievous note in his best friend's girlfriend's voice. His eyes narrowed suspiciously.
"Has Sirius ever told you that I don't like surprises?"
"But this is a really good surprise." That falsely innocent face couldn't fool him.
"Fine, I'm coming," he said, throwing his hands up in defeat. "Sirius taught you how to make puppy eyes very well. This had better be good."
"Oh, trust me," she said, holding the Invisibility Cloak out to him. "This is going to be the night of your life."
"Did it work?" Sirius asked as his girlfriend slipped into his arms and drew him out onto the dance floor.
"Like a charm," she whispered. "Remus has the Invisibility Cloak and knows where to go. Tilia should be down here, looking for me, because she wants to drown me in Ageing Potion for stealing her music."
"How very right you are," said a voice behind them.
"See, Tilia, that's the problem with speaking out loud to yourself," Jessy said with a smile. "You never know who's hiding to listen."
"I knew it was one of you," Tilia muttered. "Anyway, can I have my music back?"
"Only if you promise not to make me an old woman," Jessy said with mock sincerity. "See, Sirius wouldn't kiss me like he does now if I were seventy years older than him."
"Oh, ha very ha," Tilia said. "Hand it over."
"Oh, but the fun is just starting," James said, dancing over with Lily. "Hey Remus, get your butt over here, there's a girl on the dance floor without a partner!"
Remus set his punch down on the table and walked over to the small group.
"Hey Til," he murmured softly.
"Hi," she said her voice very faint.
The next song started to play. Tilia recognized it as Michelle Branch—her favorite love song by the Muggle singer.
"So you have time for one dance?" The bitterness in Remus' voice was not lost one her.
"I have time for a million dances tonight," she said with a smile. Remus smiled back and took her in his arms. They swirled away from the other two couples, caught up in the music.
"See," Jessy said softly, resting her head against Sirius' chest as they revolved slowly in time to the song. "Worked like a charm."
"So," Remus said as the love song ended and a new, faster beat came on. "How's the studying coming?"
"I'd…rather not talk about those tests," Tilia said.
"Are you that nervous?"
"Yes." Her voice was very quiet. "And not just about the tests…"
"What do you mean?" Remus asked. He noticed the tears trembling on her eyelashes and sighed. "Here," he said. "Get under here, I know where we can go that will be private."
"It's after curfew," she said. "We'll get caught."
"No, that's why I said get under here." He held out the silvery fabric.
"James is lending you the Cloak?" she asked. "Did he know this was going to happen?"
"I'm sure he had an idea. Now let's go."
"A little known tower not far from here." He smiled at her under the Cloak, and put an arm around her to guide her. "It's about as far away from the dungeons as you can get without going up to the Astronomy Tower."
"Ha, ha," she laughed weakly.
They made a slow way up to the tower Jessy had told Remus was "all ready for them." He wasn't quite sure what that meant, but he was willing to trust her, if not Sirius.
They barely spoke on the way there, fearful of Filch or Mrs. Norris. When they did get there, Remus whispered the password to the ward he knew James had set up that would let only the four Marauders in—and their company, of course—and the door to the winding stairs opened. They headed up. Remus stuffed the Cloak into his pocket, knowing they wouldn't need it now.
The stairs opened out into a large, candle-lit room. The dark curtains were drawn over the windows, and there was a soft blanket spread over the floor. On the blanket were a basket of food and drink, two goblets, a scattering of pillows, and not a book in sight. Tilia sighed in amazement and gratitude and sank onto the floor, which she found had been softened with a Cushioning Charm. There was a note propped up against the basket. She picked it up as Remus sat down.
Dear Friends, it said.
We realize that you have had little time to spare for each other, due to particularly harsh academic necessities. While this is understandable, we also realize that everyone needs and deserves a break from their work to have time to themselves—time which they can enjoy. So while we realize that Christmas of over, we have for you one last gift. To celebrate New Year's Eve is to celebrate with the ones you love, and tradition states that it is, purely and simply, wrong to celebrate it alone. So we have called you from your books with a little bit of music, and a little bit of deception, to force you to realize that while books may be important, friendship—and love deeper than friendship—are important as well. Please, take all night to delve into the love you share and understand each other. Do not hurry or hesitate. No one will begin to search for you until tomorrow at noon. Think of nothing but yourselves for the space of a few hours, and forget the troubles that surround you in your academia. Think only of celebration, and love, and joy at being together again.
"I didn't know Sirius could be that deep," Remus said with a smile.
"How do you know it's Sirius?" Tilia asked.
"Well, for one, only he wouldn't realize that he used the word "realize" three or four sentences in a row. Second, only he would include that bit about searching for us a noon. He doesn't mean it, by the way—he won't be awake at noon tomorrow. And last, no one else would sign such a thing 'Yours Truly'."
"Just be glad James didn't write it," Tilia said, shaking her head and setting the note aside.
"Why?" Remus asked, stretching out on his back.
"Because there would have been even more double entendres then there already were." They laughed. Tilia unpacked the basket and the feasting began.
"So," Remus said, "going back in time—" They laughed at the reference to the book he was reading on her recommendation "—what is it you were nervous about?"
"Oh," she said. She shifted to a more comfortable position and sighed. "Erm. Well, the exams, obviously. And I was nervous that you were angry with me."
"Why ever would I be angry with you?"
"I…er…well, I haven't had much time for you—or any of our other friends, for that matter—and I was worried that that was making you all angry, or bitter, or…oh, I don't know. I'm just scared that once—if—I get into the Masters classes, then I'll have even less time, and then you'll all hate me, and then I'll end up like Severus with only one friend and everyone laughing at me behind my back, and—"
"Shh…" Remus whispered, putting a finger to her lips and an arm around her waist. "Don't say that. You know we would never abandon you. We're your friends, and nothing—no lack of time or excess of studies—will ever change that. As for ending up like Snape, there is no disease in the Potions laboratories of the world that seeps into your pores and mutates you into an antisocial—well; I'll be nice, because he's your friend. Everyone who has ever met you has said you are one of the brightest witches, and nicest girls they've ever met—including Slytherins. I don't think they'll start laughing at you or hating you just because you've inhaled one too many wacky potions fumes.
"As for me…I can never stay angry at you for more than one minute. If I can't be angry with you, I don't see how it is possible for me to hate you. And even though I regret the time we have together being shortened, I also understand the importance of your studies, and what a Mastery means to you. Besides, what's that beautiful quote from The Lord of the Rings? 'All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.' So, I think I'll decide to do this."
And with that, he lay down and pulled her with him, and snogged her like Sirius would have snogged Jessy: senseless.
A very long time later found Remus in his boxers and Tilia in his shirt, which was still partially unbuttoned, lying among the pillows with a conjured blanket covering them lightly. Her head was resting on his bare chest, and his arm was loosely holding her. His fingers were stroking her hair. The candlelight was dim, and he couldn't tell if she was asleep or not.
Somewhere far off in the castle a clock announced that it was midnight.
"Happy New Year," Tilia murmured softly.
"Happy New Year to you too," Remus replied, and kissed her gently. She smiled and snuggled closer to him. Her breathing settled into a gentle rhythm and he waved his wand to douse the candlelight entirely.
"I love you," he whispered into the darkness.
"I love you too," she replied.
"Always," he murmured. "I will always love you." He felt, rather than saw her smile as she fell asleep.
And that, dearest, is a promise.
A/N: So, yeah... Oh, Jessy is my OC for Sirius, in case you couldn't tell. Happy Christmas all! Especially Tilia fans! YAY! :D