A/N Remus and Sirius are alive again. I REALLY DIDN'T WANT THEM TO DIE!
Remember I own nothing but the story – all character rights go to J.K. Rowling
"I must be mad!" Harry stared down at the ring in the simple black velvet box. He had been planning on asking his girlfriend Ginny to marry him for months. But now that he actually held the ring, which twinkled with deceptive innocence in his hand, all his prized Gryffindor courage had deserted him. He looked helplessly at his godfather who was seemed to be trying very hard to hide a grin. "What the bloody hell is so funny?" This only made Sirius shake with mirth.
"I happen to recall another Potter male who was in your very place. Remember Remy?"
"In vivid detail Padfoot." Remus came to stand with them and looked at the ring.
"You mean dad? What happened?" This question caused the men to snicker into their hands.
"Well let's put it this way Harry," Sirius said, "Your dad was beyond scared. He knew how to pull pranks alright. But considering it took him 6 years to convince Lily to just go out with him, you can imagine his expertise in the romance department."
Sensing an infamous marauder story coming on, Harry was immediately interested. "Tell me please." He nearly begged, "Maybe I could get some tips."
Remus laughed outright, "Unless you want tips on what NOT to do."
"Whichever," Harry waved his hand dismissively, "anything at this point."
Sirius was always eager to tell stories to Harry about James. He knew that Harry would give anything to know more about his dad and mum and was all too happy to oblige. "Alright then we'll tell you, shall we continue this in the den?"
As they settled in by the fire, both men could see Harry's not-so-expertly concealed excitement and smiled. Remus began, "Our story begins on a hot day in August…"
Sirius's apartment some 20 years ago…
"I must be mad!" James Potter slammed his head into Sirius's table. He could still hear the titters of his so called best friends, "What the bloody hell is so funny?" he demanded as the three men quickly turned away and coughed into their hands to hide their smiles.
"Oh now I get it." Harry grinned at the similarities between him and his father as the other two did the same.
"Actually Harry there are a great many things you do just like James." Sirius beamed at his godson.
"Anyway," interjected Remus, "so I said to him…"
"James mate, you are stressing out for no reason. You KNOW she will say yes." Remus watched his friend run a hand threw his messy hair and take off his glasses wearily.
"I don't know Mooney. He doesn't exactly have a good track record of getting yeses out of Lily," Sirius smirked and James glowered at him as best he could with no glasses, "I mean the tally was what for dating? 478 No's to 1 Yes? "
"OUCH!" commented Harry.
James rolled his eyes, "I still can't believe you kept count. It made me sound so pathetic."
Peter looked over at Sirius, "You're not going to take it?"
"Nah too easy."
"Shocker that one was." Remus said in an aside.
"Oi! My jokes are very witty and intelligent!" Sirius was indignant while Harry and Remus exchanged a glance and an eye roll. Remus continued -
"So what do you real life Romeos suggest I do then?"
"You could just ask her?" Peter always the one to say the obvious.
"Pete! You don't just ask a girl to marry you. It has to be special, memorable, something to make that truly wonderful for the both of you."
"And the fact you're asking her to marry you isn't special enough?" asked Peter uncomprehendingly. James shook his head; he wanted it to be something more.
"I want to give Lily something really romantic. You have to admit she doesn't get that much." The boys conceded on that one, life with the marauders was anything but romantic.
"Ok but how?" Remus asked James.
"That's why I'm coming to you lot!"
"James mate, this isn't a prank we're planning here. We don't do romantic; remember the time we tried to set up Remus on a date with that Ravenclaw? The picnic?"
The four shuddered at the memory. Peter examined the woodgrain on the table, "It wasn't so bad. I mean, she wasn't too mad. The floating candles didn't burn her…badly and Remus recovered from being hit on the head with a flagon of pumpkin juice."
"Wait what?" Harry laughed.
"Another story for another time." Remus and Sirius's blush only made Harry laugh harder and he made a mental note to find out that story later but he was quite keen on hearing this one so he gestured for them to continue. Sirius took up the story -
"Okay, how about taking her somewhere nice? Maybe a restaurant or something?" Peter suggested.
"No, Lily isn't into that stuff. She prefers something intimate and personal."
"Well then cook dinner for her yourself." Sirius advised.
"Padfoot! YOU – ARE – A – GENIUS!"
"First and last time Sirius heard that." Remus stage whispered to Harry.
James jumped up excitedly, "I can make a romantic evening at home. Some rose petals, candles (that DON'T float!), good wine, nice music, maybe wear something nice, I can handle that."
"I don't know Prongs," Remus said thoughtfully, "Seems awfully cheesy to me."
"Yea but Lily will think it's cute simply because it's James." Sirius had a point there.
"OK men I'm going to need your help on this one," James sounded very much like a general in the army. "Here's what we're going to do -"
"You're not going to tell me the plan?" Harry looked slightly disappointed.
"Nope, its better when you hear it in action." Sirius and Remus chuckled.
2 weeks later at the Potter Manor
"Alright I think everything is set." James shoved his glasses up and consulted a list – "Yes he made a bloody list and all." Sirius said to Harry. – "Okay Lily should be here in about an hour. She thinks we're just going to settle in for a movie and Chinese food. Little does she know hers truly (and hopefully after tonight for forever more) has something else in store. Ready?" He looked up at his friends who stood side by side and at attention; they nodded and began what they dubbed "Operation Future-Mrs.-Prongs".
"Dare I ask who came up with that name?" Harry shook his head in amusement already knowing the answer to that one.
"Look we had to call it something. Besides we're the marauders." Sirius pled his case to his best friend and godson who only stared at him with crooked smiles. "Remus just continue the damn story already!"
The first thing they had to do was get the meal going. James had demanded that they cook the muggle way so the four of them stood in the kitchen of Potter Manor and carefully reading a cookbook that Remus had purchased for this moment. "This doesn't seem too complicated," said Remus running a finger down the instructions. "Lasagna and garlic bread and for dessert -" he flipped to that section "how about chocolate mousse?"
"Sounds good to me," said James and the others nodded.
"I suppose we should get the ingredients out first right? Read it out to us Mooney and we'll get them." So with that Remus leaned against the kitchen island and called out each ingredient as the other marauders flitted around the shelves in the pantry grabbing whatever they needed.
Remus had always been the planner so he said, "I think we should do the lasagna first cause it has the longest cooking time, then the mousse because it needs time in the fridge and last the garlic bread so it will still be warm from the oven."
Sirius took the book from Remus, "Alright let's get to work then, we need to make a sauce, grate the cheese, and then we can build the lasagna."
"That doesn't sound so difficult," Harry was puzzled after all the times he cooked for the Dursleys that seemed like a cinch.
Remus and Sirius knew where Harry's mind was and were both amused and angry, "You happen to be talking about a bunch of boys who had never seen the inside of a kitchen unless you count the ones at Hogwarts." Remus replied.
"Oh wow...this should be interesting."
Sirius picked up the story, "Admittedly things could have gone better for us but…"
They had given Peter the task of grating the cheese considering it to be the simplest of tasks. After grating his own fingers twice, James relented and allowed Pete to use magic. This turned out to be huge mistake and as he had somehow managed to cause the grater to chase after him attempting to grate his nose, ears, fingers, and :::cough::: other appendages.
"That's brilliant!" Harry laughed.
"Now that you mention it we really ought to thank that old grater," said Sirius looking thoughtful. Remus just snorted.
The boys thought this was hilarious until the grater turned on them at which time Sirius showed off his skills as a Beater and hit it hard with a rolling pin sending it flying across the kitchen where it flattened against the wall. But hey, at least the cheese was done with only a damaged grater, rolling pin, and rat.
"Way to find a silver lining guys," chortled Harry.
The sauce was considered by the marauders as a test of their manliness. Try as he might, James just couldn't get the jar of tomatoes to open and when he tried opening with magic, the lid popped off smacking him hard and causing him to fall backwards. Sirius was chopping onions but the fumes were stinging his eyes.
James stared incredulously at his best mate, "Padfoot! Are you crying?" The others whipped around to see this impossible sight.
"WHAT? NO! I'm just - " Sirius quickly wiped his face, "I'm just sweating, it's kind of stuffy in here."
"Oh my god! Legendary badass Sirius Black reduced to tears by a vegetable!" James snickered.
"Just imagine all the girls, if they found out about this!" Peter exclaimed. He too then fell into fits of laughter.
"I'm sure they will appreciate his sensitive side," Remus said sardonically.
"Stupid evil pieces of dung I have to call to friends. Bleeding torture that what this is." Sirius muttered only to have the boys hoot in amusement.
"Awww Siri, that really was adorable." Remus teased his best friend.
"Watch it wolf boy or I'll tell your charming wife the story about you're first D." Sirius countered maliciously.
Once all the ingredients were prepped they began to put them in a pot on the stove.
"You know this reminds of me potions class," Peter noticed as he passed Remus the oregano.
"Yeah it kind of does Pete, the only thing missing is an explosion. Care to do the honours Remus?" James grinned at the werewolf.
"Oh ha-ha." Remus added the last ingredient and turned to face the others. "I'll have you gentlemen know that this is not potions class and therefore there is no possible way for any such event to occur. Unlike you I can stay focused and use my head. In short there is no way in hell I'm going to blow it up."
At that point the marauders noses were met with the acrid smell of something burning. Remus ran over to stove and tried a cooling charm to save the rest of sauce only to have it turn into a frozen block.
"Well Remy," Sirius clapped his back and took in the werewolf's mortified expression, "You were right. You didn't blow it up quite the opposite really."
After salvaging the sauce, the group proceeded to build the lasagna and put it in the oven.
"Well that was -" Harry struggled to find the right words.
"Only the beginning" chorused the two men.
"I'll continue shall I?" Remus asked.
James needed to get changed so he left the boys to do the mousse with the strictest of instructions not to use anymore magic considering "all the dragon dung it had landed them in already". Remus, Sirius, and Peter completely agreed but the mousse was so simple they figured they wouldn't need magic anyway.
"Well at least this one is good and easy," said Remus as he poured the carton of cream into the mixing bowl.
"Yes, no chance of screwing up here." Sirius dumped the chocolate sauce in quickly. The consensus of the marauders was that Mooney shouldn't be allowed to handle the chocolate even now he gave the sauce a somewhat lecherous look.
"Okay the book says to whisk until fluffy and put in the fridge to chill." Peter read out loud. The each took turns beating it but it wasn't turning fluffy.
"That doesn't sound too promising to me," Harry watched as both Remus and Sirius face-palmed in embarrassment.
"Maybe it's the heat in here, let's just put it to chill and try again later." Remus nervously reasoned so they covered the bowl with plastic and set it in the ice box. Just then James re-entered the kitchen, freshly showered, wearing a black buttoned shirt and dark blue jeans. He had gone for the "casual look" so as to not arouse suspicion from Lily.
"Well doesn't someone look handsome," Sirius smirked at his best friend
"Oh shut up Pads, we only have 20 minutes left and we still need to set up." They went into the dining room, each of them had been delegated a task. Sirius set about transfiguring the large dining table into a small one and setting it for two. Peter was to arrange the flowers at pre-determined spots around the room. Remus was in charge of doing the atmospheric charm on the ceiling like in the great hall at Hogwarts so it could reflect the sunset outside. James was busy arranging Lily's favourite records and charming them to switch over and begin playing when one was done on their own.
"What time is it Pete?" called James.
"We've got ten minutes left."
"Perhaps we should go finish dinner then." Remus was the first to enter the kitchen and he promptly went over to the oven to pull of the lasagna and he groaned,
"OH BLOODY HELL!"
"What happened?" The three raced into the kitchen to see Remus holding a dish with extremely blackened top.
"We forgot to put foil on the top of the dish and now it's burnt."
"That's okay Mooney. We can just take off the top, Lily won't notice." Sirius placated the werewolf.
"Sirius is right, let's just take it out of the pan and remove the top layer." Peter handed Sirius a spatula but the lasagna wouldn't budge.
"It's stuck!" Sirius growled.
"Let me try," said Remus stepping forward.
"No, I've got it," just as Sirius said that the lasagna shot out of his grip and landed with an almighty crash on the floor sending pasta and glass shards everywhere.
"Oh crap, Mrs. P is going to kill us!" Peter moaned.
"Never mind that! What I am going to give Lily?" James looked horror struck as the mess on the floor.
"We still have the mousse and garlic bread." Sirius who was looking anywhere but the mess on the floor took a step forward and accidently trod on a pasta noodle causing him to fall face first into glob of pasta sauce.
"Nice one!" Chuckled Harry and Remus joined in.
"Could have happened to anybody." Replied Sirius in stiff, dignified way with his arms crossed. He looked the other way as his two companions tried unsuccessfully to stifle their giggles.
"Pastafoot is right," said Remus over the peals of laughter, "I'll make the garlic bread while Peter gets out the mousse."
They did that while James and Sirius cleaned up the mess.
"Um guys….this mousse still isn't getting fluffy…" Peter looked at the chocolate watery contents of the mixing with fearful eyes.
"How is that possible?" James looked at the bowl too.
"I don't know," said Remus snatching up the book, "perhaps we need to beat it some more…?"
"What happened with that mousse?" Harry looked perplexed trying to think of way for that to have happened.
"We figured out later that that idiot rat had given us milk instead of cream," answered Sirius. "But unfortunately not before…"
"Dare we try magic again?" Sirius looked at the marauders with wide eyes.
"I'll do it," James stepped up to the bowl, wand in hand and with the tiniest flick started the whisk turning at a very slow speed.
"James it has to be faster than that," Remus pointed out.
"Oh right," he flicked his wand again but this time it caused the whisk to spin so fast it was a silver blur. This made the contents of bowl spew out and James quickly flicked his wand a third time to make it stop. It had splashed all four of them but none so much as James who was covered from the waist up. With Lily due at any minute, they rushed upstairs to hastily clean James up. James was showering, Sirius was washing his glasses, Remus was siphoning off the chocolate mixture from his shirt, and Peter was on lookout for Lily. They managed to get cleaned up and ran down the stairs and cleared the mess in the kitchen. Just as they were finishing, for the second time that day their noses met with the scent of something burning.
"The garlic bread!" yelled James. Remus and Peter groaned and slumped forward on the island.
"Oh bloody hell!" Sirius charged forward to pull the charred bread from the oven. He didn't bother trying saving the burnt black bread and just dumped it the garbage without a glance.
"So all in all not one of your better days," trying to supress the grin that threatened to break out.
Remus and Sirius snorted.
"Well this is a nightmare," James said sadly. They were all seated in the transformed dining room looking very tired and thoroughly defeated.
"I can't believe it," said Harry having lost the battle with the grin, "the marauders, the MARAUDERS, the foursome that pulled some the greatest pranks at Hogwarts, taken down by food."
"I suppose you considered particularly insulting eh Padfoot?" Remus's mouth twitched, "Considering the love affair you've had with food for years."
"Please Remus you openly cried for the wasted chocolate."
"It was an entire bottle!"
"Okay can we just finish the story already before Remus breaks down again?" Harry jumped in. Indeed Remus wore a devastated expression at the memory of it.
"You know James; I swear I'm close to recommending the old Potter standby." Sirius looked over at his best mate who huffed in amusement.
"Well it would be personal wouldn't it?" Remus laughed once.
"Of course! Not to mention nostalgic," James stood up and made a show of messing up his hair and puffing out his chest, he pulled out the ring, "OI EVANS! WANNA GET MARRIED?" They all cracked up, roaring with laughter until they heard,
"Yes Potter I will." They whipped around to see Lily leaning against the doorframe with a huge smile and tears in her eyes. As she entered the room James rushed forward to meet her and slipped in the ring on her finger.
"I love you Lily."
"I love you James." They clung to each other tightly as the others clapped and whistled and cheered. "Did you do all of this for me?" She asked pulling back to survey the beautiful room.
"Yeah we all did," James smiled sheepishly, "We meant to make you dinner too but umm it didn't work out well sorry love."
"It's okay James I love this."
"Aww Lils, I wanted to make this really special for you." James still looked disappointed with himself.
Lily laughed and pulled him into a hug, "Oh James, its special just because you asked me." James looked over Lily's at the guys who had flopped into their seats and held their heads in their hands.
Remus, Sirius, Harry laughed and joked for a bit until Harry suddenly remembered, "Ok now tell me about this picnic?"