The Marauder Consideration
Part Three: The Conclusion
"Lily Evans, I presume?"
An acne-riddled man stood near the table, wearing a set of foreboding black robes. Penny looked up from her drink.
Howard and May/Romilda had, most troublingly, disappeared. About fifteen minutes earlier, Stuart had dropped by the table and let them know that Wizard Rock karaoke had started. Carrie had downed her drink in an instant and scurried up to the stage for a belted rendition of "Prefects Are Hot". Raj and Leonard had cheered wildly, encouraging her to move on to a whole range of songs that the firewhiskey gave her the courage to sing. Barb seemed to have become somewhat fed up with Raj, and ditched him for a Roger Davies in the corner.
"Mmyeah," she said in response, looking back down at the table. Sheldon had reluctantly agreed to have a firewhiskey with her ("for the sake of the integrity of my cosplay"), but had only managed to drink half of it, thus far. Her two empty cups lay on the table, perhaps signaling her desperation to Acne Man.
Acne Man smiled, the kind of smile dripping with more grease than most fried chicken. Sheldon stiffened, even more than usual, until he resembled a plank of wood more than a human being.
"Please leave us alone," Sheldon said, over-enunciating each syllable with obvious irritation.
"Let me guess, you're her James. Couple cosplay, oh so sweet," the man drawled.
Penny's eyes flashed, but she didn't correct him. "And who are you?" she asked, draining the rest of her drink as if to signal that she meant business.
Acne Man lifted his eyebrows slowly. "Tonight, I'm Professor, Severus, Snape." He paused between each word; she gagged a bit back into her cup. Wiping her hand with her mouth, she started to respond.
Sheldon beat her to the punch. He snorted, saying, "Oh, please. Do you honestly believe that a non-canonical couple stands a chance against a canonical union ending, ultimately, in marriage, the conception of the titular main character, and a tragic death by each others' sides?"
Penny's eyes bugged slightly. Acne Man swished his cape rather un-impressively. "We can make our own canon," he hissed.
"Oh, God, somebody get me another drink," she moaned under her breath. Carrie finished up her song and moved onto a rousing number by The Whomping Willows.
Howard slid into the last empty seat at the table. "Hey, who's the creep?"
"Some dude trying to steal Penny from Sheldon," Raj said, laughing. "It's hysterical!"
"Okay, guys, you're making this into something it's definitely—" Penny started, gesturing to her companion across the table.
"That is a one way road to pain and sadness," Leonard said, looking meaningfully at Acne Man. "Penny is a wonderful, independent woman, but if you're not really what she wants she will stomp on your heart, rip it into pieces, and throw it on the ground. You know, theoretically. That's what she would do."
"Look, it's the lady's decision," Acne Man protested, hand on his hip. Penny's eyes narrowed.
"Please leave us alone," she said, echoing Sheldon's earlier words. Sheldon, whose knuckles were rapidly turning white as he gripped the table. Penny sighed and stood up, adjusting her black robes as she did so. "Listen, I'm sure you're a wonderful person or whatever, but I'm not drunk enough to go for you—actually, I'm not sure I've ever been that drunk—and I don't ditch my friends at parties."
"Unlike certain other people," Sheldon added, with a pointed look at Leonard, who returned to his silent discourse with the Incredible Hulk poster on the wall.
Acne Man glared down at the floor before allowing his eyes to drift slowly up to Penny. "I can teach you how to bewitch the mind, and ensnare the senses," he said, in a voice obviously intended to sound sensual. Raj tittered. "I can show you how to bottle fame, brew glory, and even—"
All heads turned at this. Sheldon had risen to stand just behind Penny, and, for probably the first time in his life, his height looked sort of impressive instead of vaguely awkward. A vein in his neck looked close to bursting, and his eye twitched considerably. "Your offense is threefold. First, you interrupt my pleasant evening, and the experience of consuming a decidedly foul but interesting reproduction of a drink from an acclaimed book series. Second, you attempt to draw away the woman who is cosplaying as my future wife—Penny, I am referring to you, here—and continue your pathetic attempts even when she has clearly expressed her disinterest. Finally, you desecrate this gathering with your disgusting interpretation of Severus Snape. You are unworthy of that monologue."
The room seemed to fall silent, although Carrie screeched on. Acne Man laughed. "Is this guy for real?"
"You are not Alan Rickman," Sheldon hissed. Penny looked at him with a mixture of amusement and fondness.
Leonard stood to join them. "I hate to say it, but Sheldon's right. Leave us alone."
"Or what?" Acne Man jeered.
"Or—or we will have to end this the old-fashioned way!" Raj said with some effort, standing up (although he kept one hand on the table to steady himself).
Howard nodded and rose. "Yeah, don't make me go all...Fenrir Greyback on you!"
Acne Man raised his open palms in surrender. His eyes betrayed a bit of fear. "Okay, fine, whatever. I'll leave you alone. You're not even the hottest girl at this party."
Penny frowned. "Um, yes I am," she said, in a matter-of-fact tone. All five men surveyed the area and were forced to agree. Acne Man retreated into the crowd, or perhaps the hole in the ground where people like him are formed.
"Hey guys, what's crackin'?" Carrie asked, reappearing at Leonard's side. Her voice was higher than before, tinged with excitement and more than a couple shots.
"I think we just killed that guy," Howard replied, staring down at his hands as if they were magical.
"It was awesome, this stupid man with acne came up and started hitting on Penny, and then we just—well, we didn't literally kill him, but the effect was...maybe you had to be there," Leonard concluded, looking away with embarrassment.
Raj did a fist-pump and sat back down. "Another round of firewhiskey to celebrate?" he suggested, a roguish grin on his face.
"I don't think you need any more to—" Leonard said, taking his seat as well.
"Drinks on me!" Raj said, interrupting.
"Oh, okay, then."
One round later, Raj was nearly falling out of his chair, Leonard was grinning widely for no apparent reason, and Howard's unwanted advances on Carrie were becoming more and more overt. Finally, she slung her purse around her shoulder again and got up. She straightened her robes."Guys, I have to go," she said, smiling and slipping a bit of paper into Leonard's hand. His grin became even wider. "It was really nice to meet...all of you. Oh, and tell James and Lily I said bye."
"What do you mean? You can tell them yourself," Leonard replied, furrowing his brow and laughing a little.
"Uh...it looks like Penny and Sheldon are MIA," Howard said in a low voice, glancing around.
Raj giggled. "What did I tell you?" he asked in a sing-song voice. Carrie sighed and walked away.
Leonard squinted. "I can't see them anywhere."
"Well of course you can't!" Howard said, making an exaggerated gesture and nearly hitting Raj in the face. "You don't have your...oh...wait a second, wait a second, there they are!" He pointed, toppling Raj's empty cup.
"Sorry. But seriously, there they are."
The three looked with wonder. Penny and Sheldon were in the midst of the crowd, chatting animatedly and...signing books?
"What," muttered Howard.
"The," supplied Leonard.
Raj had blacked out.
Howard patted Leonard on the back. "Leave the fallen behind. We must march on."
"It'll be hard," he said with a bright smile.
They approached the pair carefully, observing them. Everything seemed to be normal, except—
"Is Sheldon actually smiling?" Howard wondered.
—well, except for that.
"Guys!" Penny squealed, her voice hitting a higher register as she greeted them. She had obviously had a couple of drinks, and both Leonard and Howard wondered if they'd been drugged, because her arm was linked with Sheldon's.
"What's...going on?" Leonard asked, obviously trying to sound casual.
Sheldon leaned over and said confidentially, "We are a hit." Penny giggled uproariously at this, signing with flourish another copy of Sorcerer's Stone.
"You would not believe how cool this is!" she exclaimed, as Sheldon greeted the next person in line (there was a line?!). "It's like being a famous actress, you know, like I always wanted, but I didn't even have to learn any lines, do anybody any favors, get plastic surgery..."
"So—let me get this straight," Howard said slowly. "You two are signing as James and Lily Potter, on copies of Harry Potter books offered to you by drunken nerds?"
She thought about this for a second. "Yep, pretty much."
"Lily, darling, they need your signature now," Sheldon said, turning to her. She nodded and took the book.
"Why didn't I ever think of that?" Howard berated himself. Leonard only looked shell-shocked.
The next person in line moved up, one of the many Harrys attending the party. This one was actually fairly accurate, however, all knobby knees and messy hair, and Sheldon beamed when he caught sight of him.
"Mum, Dad!" Harry said with feeling.
"Oh, Harry," Penny replied, choked up with emotion. Whether that emotion was real or produced—reports vary. She hugged him. Sheldon did not go so far, but he did clap the young man on the back.
"Sign this for me," he begged, holding out a copy of Deathly Hallows. "Sign it for me, so that I can always remember this."
"We're always with you," Sheldon said, signing the book and passing it to Penny.
"We love you," she agreed, returning it to Harry, who thanked her with tears in his eyes.
Leonard stumbled to a chair. "This is just getting way too weird."
Howard snapped his fingers. "I bet we could do this, too!"
Ten minutes later, they found themselves surrounded by chanting fangirls, their eyes gleaming in the dim lighting. "Kiss...kiss...kiss!" The three companions exchanged looks of worry and slight disgust.
"I think they're coming out of the woodwork," Leonard said, stunned and more than a little bit afraid.
"Maybe there's a factory back there in the ladies' room," suggested a newly roused Raj, who insisted that he had passed out from shock and not alcohol consumption.
Howard shook his head. "Nah, trust me, I would know." The other two stared. "What?"
"We should make a break for it," Raj said, as the fangirls advanced.
"What about Penny and—"
"They can take care of themselves!" interrupted Howard. "Run!"
Penny pounded on the door to 4A at five past seven the next morning. Leonard opened the door, entirely bemused. She was dressed already, blouse and mini-skirt, headband holding back her red hair, makeup covering the dark circles under her eyes. "Get out of my way, I need some friggin' coffee."
He moved, and watched silently as she fixed a mug and sat down on the couch. "I'm mad at you, you know," she said by way of explanation. "Leaving us. Taking my car."
"Sorry," he said earnestly, sitting next to her. "We really didn't have a choice."
"I don't want to hear it." She took a healthy swallow of coffee. "Sheldon and I had to take a cab. It took three tries to find one that he'd agree to ride in. Three tries." She jabbed a finger in the air.
"Did you come over just to yell at me?" he asked with downcast eyes. She shook her head, but before she could expand on that, Sheldon emerged from the bedroom, dressed and ready after his Saturday morning Doctor Who ritual. He did not appear surprised to see Penny in the apartment.
"Morning, sweetie," Penny said pleasantly, as he approached them. "Are you ready?"
Leonard frowned. "Ready for what?"
"Penny and I are going shopping," Sheldon informed him, in a far-from-pleased tone. He straightened his T-shirt.
The aforementioned woman cleared her throat. "Enthusiasm?"
"Apologies. Penny and I are going shopping. Yay!" He spread his hands out and did a little awkward skip. She laughed.
"It'll probably take all day," Penny said to Leonard, "so you'll have the apartment to yourself."
"To myself," he echoed. She leaned over and hugged him, pecking him on the cheek platonically.
"All right, let's get this torture over with," Sheldon said impatiently, standing by the door and tapping one foot on the floor. Penny gave him a deadly look. "I mean, shopping, yay!"
They left Leonard sitting in the middle of the apartment. He contemplated for a moment, then grinned. "I've got the apartment to myself. On a Saturday." He walked to the kitchen. "I think I'll watch some Babylon 5!"
He whistled as he fixed himself a drink. Life was good.
End Notes: Prefects Are Hot is a song by the Moaning Myrtles. Absolutely no offense meant to the ship of Lily/Severus, I enjoy the pairing (though not as much as Lily/James). I do have some more ideas for Penny/Sheldon fics, although I will probably write some other fandoms a bit more first. Thank you all for reading this three-parter, and sorry that this last update is rather short. Hope you enjoyed it anyway!
Note to Anon13: You should write Lily/James fic! I assume that all of your other questions are answered in this chapter;)