"Zathura"

Some months had passed since the debacle with the 'Jumanji' board game. Tonks was still teased mercilessly about it, even after she (somehow) escaped charges. No one had gone missing, and everything had been repaired, including Moody's wooden leg.

Unfortunately, short memory is a common enough flaw among humans. The Incident had passed, and other things had since made front page news. So it was somewhat understandable that, when Sirius and Remus discovered a game called 'Zathura' at a Muggle second-hand stall, they thought nothing of starting to play it when they got back to number twelve.

Remus went first. He wound the clockwork mechanism twice, and a 'Go' button popped up. He pressed it, and a number appeared on the dial. All by itself, a little rocket moved five spaces. He raised an eyebrow at his friend when a card popped up from a slot, and pulled it out.

"'Meteor shower'?" he said. "'Take evasive action'. What…"

Ker-thunk!

Their heads swivelled around. A smoking hole was now in the floor, less than two feet away from them. Further holes appeared as pieces of rock crashed through the ceiling.

"Come on!" Sirius shouted. Remus grabbed the game, and they squashed into the fireplace together, waiting for the meteor shower to end. It seemed like hours before the stones ceased fire, and they emerged.

"What the hell was that all about?" Remus said, looking down at the game in horror.

"I dunno," Sirius said, running a hand through his hair. "Damn. Don't you remember what happened at the Ministry? What Tonks did?"

"Oh." He grimaced. "I forgot that."

"So what do we do?"

"Let's look at the instructions."

They sat beside one another at the holey coffee table, and read the writing on the box. Sirius glanced at the hallway through the open door, and was surprised to see that the destruction had only happened inside the living room, where they were. His gaze wandered further. Through one of the big holes in the ceiling, he could see the night sky.

"Remus, what time is it supposed to be?"

"Nearly lunchtime. Why?"

"Umm… no reason. I'll be back."

"Sirius, we have to play until one of us reaches Zathura, wherever—whatever—that is."

"Yeah, of course," he said, not really listening. He strode to the front door, and wrenched it open. "Uh, Moony?" He laughed at his joke. "Can you come here, please?"

"If it isn't one thing… What is it?" Remus asked, joining his friend at the door. Then his mouth dropped open. "Oh boy."

"I know. How cool is this?"

"How… how 'cool' is it? You idiot, I'm a werewolf!"

"It's not full moon yet."

"Do you think that matters in… in outer space? Of all the time for my wolf instincts not to be working, it had to be today, didn't it? I just had to go along with this…"

"Hey, does Hermione still have that Time-Turner?" Sirius asked.

"The one that she stole?"

"No. The one that she… now how did she put it? 'Retained as a memento', and 'just substituted it with a Simulacrum'."

"She appropriated it. It's the same thing."

"Yes, but your wording suggests that our Hermione broke the rules, and she isn't a rule-breaker. No, sir." Sirius shook his head emphatically, grinning at his housemate.

"Ri-ight. Let's just finish this game."

"No. Let's make sure that we never started it."

"Pads…"

But Sirius was bounding up the stairs in dog form, no doubt to save time (in more ways than one). Remus sighed, and followed him, leaving the game behind on the coffee table.

"Got it!" Sirius shouted, and Remus sped up his steps. His best friend was dancing around, swinging something from his hand. Sure enough, it was the Time-Turner, on its long, golden chain. "Come on. Let's change things, eh?"

"Padfoot… you know that that won't work. We can't change time like that."

"Why not?"

"Because otherwise they won't have happened!" Remus was waving his arms around. "Don't you ever listen to what Hermione says?"

"She's usually telling me off for something." Sirius scratched his head. "Why should I listen to that?"

"You obtuse git," he muttered, turning away.

"What did I do?"

"I'm surprised that Harry hasn't killed you already. You're breaking her heart simply by ignoring her."

"Her… her heart? What do you mean? She's with Ron. She's been with him for… uh, how long?"

"Five months." Remus sighed, tucked the Time-Turner into his pocket. "Let's go back downstairs. I don't think this'd work in outer space, anyway. Time-travel should always be a last resort."

It was Sirius' turn, but he could barely concentrate. Five months?

"That long?" he asked. Remus arched an eyebrow. "Really?"

"I think she got sick of waiting for you to notice her, and just got together with Ron out of desperation. She doesn't want to be lonely. She doesn't deserve to be lonely."

"I… didn't know. She, uh, fancies me?"

"Well, as you said, you weren't paying attention."

"I'm such an idiot," he moaned, dropping his head into his hands.

"Sirius, just play. We'll discuss this later."

Sirius sighed, and turned the clockwork key. He pressed the red button, got a number seven, and read the card.

"'Your robot is defective'," he said. "Gee."

"This has really got to you, hasn't it?"

"I feel like a right idiot."

Just then, they realised that a large silhouette was coming into view from around the corner, clomping footsteps echoing off the wooden floor. Mrs. Black had started screaming from her portrait the moment the first meteor hit. Soon, a little robot was standing in front of them. It grew in size, its eyes blazing, and it pointed at Sirius.

"Alien life form," it declared. Sirius grabbed his wand, and tried to hex the robot. Instead, the spell deflected off the metal, and Remus had to duck to avoid being Stunned.

"Thanks," he said, glaring at his friend.

"Sorry. Look, just take your turn while I distract this thing, okay? Watch out! It's getting near the board!"

Sirius pocketed his wand, and turned into his Animagus form. He leapt forward, darting past the robot, and led it on a chase through Grimmauld Place. Remus dutifully played on.

"Astronaut?" he said. "I have to rescue a stranded astronaut?"

He looked out of a window, and saw a man floating past. Remus ran out of the room, and wrenched open the front door. He conjured some ropes, and used them to lasso the stranger. He gave a huge tug, and pulled the astronaut all the way up to the door. Once they were both inside, the man removed his helmet.

"Thanks," he said. It was an old, tired-looking man. He had sorrow in his eyes, and Remus led him into the living room. "Oh, that's better," he said, sinking onto the couch, in between two large burn marks.

"Can I get you anything?"

"I'm starving. Could I have a sandwich?"

"Of course. Uh… there's a demonic robot wandering around the house, by the way. Might want to take cover if it comes back." With that, Remus left the room, and sneaked into the kitchen, wincing at the various crashing sounds he could hear. That fact that he could also hear Sirius' padding feet comforted him.

Meanwhile, the robot was still following the 'alien life form'. Sirius could hear and smell Remus in the kitchen, and made sure to steer clear. Finally, out of desperation, he noticed the ropes at the open front door, and barrelled straight out there. He grabbed the end of one in his mouth, and leapt over the side. The robot followed him, and began to float off into space, while Sirius continued to hold onto the rope.

He felt himself being pulled up, and assumed that it was Remus. But when he reached the porch of number twelve, he dropped the rope in surprise. Turning back into human form, he gaped at the man in front of him.

"Who are you?" he asked. Remus chuckled from the doorway.

"Someone I had to help," he said. "Come on. Now that the robot's gone, I want to get on with the game. I've got a sandwich ready for you, sir."

"Thank you, Moony," the stranger said, climbing the stairs. Remus looked astounded, but moved out of the way. The astronaut led them into the kitchen, Sirius closing doors behind them along the way.

"I say again, who are you?" he asked. The old man sat on a stool at the counter, and began to dig into the sandwich. He was finished sooner than either anticipated.

"My name is Sirius Black," he said. "I'm from an alternate timeline, so to speak. Actually, your timeline." He frowned. "But your next move will determine my fate—our fate," he told Sirius.

"What happened? How old are you… uh, am I?"

"This is you ten years from now."

"What? But you—I—look so much older than that."

"Yeah, well," Old-Sirius said, "this is what happens when you're alone. You could learn something from this, Remus. Just ask Tonks out already. And you," he said to Young-Sirius, "should do something about Hermione."

"She's with Ron," he said, head propped up on his hands. "I have no chance now."

"You will if you use your next turn wisely." Old-Sirius stood, and dusted the crumbs off his spacesuit. "If you do the right thing, then you won't have played 'Zathura'. You'd be with Hermione, and you wouldn't be in danger of ending up… like me. Now, just continue already. Okay?"

Sirius nodded, and Summoned the game. When he got his ticket, he and Remus were surprised to see that it was golden.

"It says that there's a shooting star coming. I have to make a wish. W-what do I wish for?" he asked his older self.

"I can't tell you. What are you wishing more than anything else at the moment?"

"I…" Sirius stood, and went to the window, where he could see the shooting star coming. It was approaching rapidly. He had to make a decision now. As it passed, he made his wish. "I wish that I'd had enough sense to ask Hermione out before Ron could."

He heard someone approach him, and turned to see the older man getting younger. When he reached the same age, he disappeared into Young-Sirius, who winced as it happened. It was kind of like having a ghost pass through you.

"What did you wish for?" Remus asked, standing up.

The words had barely left his lips when a wall was wrenched away. They could see a gaping black hole, and looked at each other.

"Uh… well, not that!" he admitted, shouting over the roar of the suction. Furniture started to fly from the room, whooshing past the men as the whole place tilted. Remus and Sirius both fell to the floor, trying to hold onto something.

But it was no use. The house shuddered, and they both lost their grip, flying backwards into space, and into Zathura.


Next thing, they were back in the living room, looking at the board.

"Moony," Sirius said. "Don't touch that button."

"Wasn't going to," he said, and he shuddered. "We're getting rid of this, and that's that."

"Bloody Dark objects."

"Agreed."

"Oh, don't tell me that was the surprise," Hermione said, startling them both as she walked into the room, holding two glasses of wine. "It doesn't even have room for a third player."

"Or a fourth," Tonks added, also carrying drinks into the lounge. The men stared at each other, eyes wide, as they both ended up with a lap-full of witch. While Tonks was virtually wound around Remus, Hermione was instead nestled into Sirius' arms, like he was a protective cocoon.

"You know, they look a bit surprised," she said. "Probably wondering what we bought while we were shopping." She grinned at Tonks, who gave her an equally wicked smile in return.

"You'll both find out… tonight," she said. "Meanwhile, we should celebrate."

"Celebrate?" Sirius asked, looking at them.

"Of course," Hermione said, resting her head on her shoulder. "It's been six months."

"Knock, knock," someone said. It was Harry, his head in the fireplace. "Can I have a quick word with Moony and Padfoot? You know, in private?"

"Come on through, Harry," Remus said, anxious to find out what was going on. Harry grinned, and disappeared, only to floo through seconds later. Tonks and Hermione rolled their eyes, but left the men alone, promising to return with snacks.

"You both look like you've seen a ghost," Harry said. "What's going on?"

"That's what we'd like to know," Sirius said.

"What do you mean?"

They told him what had happened, and Harry was nearly in stitches by the end.

"That's hilarious!" he said, clutching his stomach. "Merlin's underpants, you two get into some serious trouble, don't you?"

"Not. Funny. Harry," Remus said, teeth clenched. "Just tell us what's happened."

"Fine. Sirius asked out Hermione six months ago, so you asked Tonks on a date. Since then, there's been some double-dating, but not much. You like to keep them to yourselves, and even moved in together a few weeks ago."

"I want to remember this," Sirius whined. "It's maddening."

"Look, I'm only here to bring you the rings," Harry said, handing them each a small, velvet box. "You gave them to me for safe-keeping, remember? Oh. I guess you wouldn't."

Remus shoved the ring box into the right pocket of his trousers, only to feel it chinking against something else. He felt a jolt as he touched it, and blinked rapidly. Several seconds later, he smiled, and shook his head.

"It's… I've remembered," he said. "Sirius, I've remembered." He pulled out the object, and laughed when he saw that it was the Time-Turner. "Here. Touch it."

Sirius took it from his friend, and a current of something went through his hand, and straight to his brain. It was dizzying, but not in a bad way. He could remember now, too. Every date, every kiss, every caress, every word spoken for the last six months.

"Sweet," he whispered. Just then, the girls knocked at the door.

"Are you done yet?" Tonks called.

"Uh… almost!" Remus replied. Sirius shoved the Time-Turner into his pocket, and looked at the board-game.

"I'll get rid of it," Harry said, and he picked up the game. He slid it into its box, called out a good bye to Hermione and Tonks, and flooed straight to the Ministry.

"You can come back in now," Sirius said, hiding the jewellery box in a pocket of his jacket. He grinned at Moony.

Thank Circe for shooting stars, they both thought as their girlfriends re-entered the living room.

THE END


I know, I should have ended on a Snanger note, since that's been the main pairing, but this is all I could think of for this story, so this is what you got.

For those who think that pairing Hermione with Percy is random, or disturbing, this is kind of in deference to the people who reviewed "With a Book", and suggested that I write a Hermione/Percy story. I've now got two plotted. Of course, I'm one of those people who does non-canon, and sometimes completely ludicrous, pairings.

Anyway, by now you can see why chapter ten was one of the clues. The other refers to the fact that Kristen Stewart plays the older sister in "Zathura", and she's Bella in "Twilight".

Just sayin'.

Review, review, review!