Present and Past
It was a brisk evening, the last Saturday of November. Remus sat at the desk in the parlor of Number Twelve Grimmauld Place, his quill poised over the parchment before
him, his eyes flicking back and forth between several open books. Just as he
was about to put his quill to the parchment and write, his concentration was
broken by the sound of a loud thunk, a voice
crying "No!" and a noisy squirting sound vaguely reminiscent of an
unsavory bodily emission. The whole exchange was followed by gales of
Remus smiled, and turned around to see Bill Weasley's
grimacing face dripping with nasty-smelling green gunk. Nearby, Nymphadora Tonks and Sirius Black
were laughing heartily at the mess. It seemed that Bill had just lost their Gobstone tournament.
"Bloody hell!" exclaimed Bill, wiping the green
sludge from his eyes. "You just had to go and fill your set with the worst
smelling Gobstone Goo you
could find, didn't you?"
"Well what's the fun in using the pretty-smelling Goo? I don't know why they even make the stuff. Everyone
knows a Gobstone loser has to smell horrid—its part
of the game," retorted Nymphadora, running a
hand through her short black and purple hair. "Anyway, I gave you fair
warning: If you play against the best, you'll get slimed like the rest!"
Bill pulled out his wand, and charmed away the rest of the Goo. "You're hardly the best, Tonks.
I was just distracted—that's all."
"Excuses, excuses. What would your Mother say, Bill?" said Sirius,
shaking his head.
"Don't you start in on me too, Bill! Tonks slimed you in less than half the time it took to
slime me!" said Bill. "Besides—I really was distracted. All that quill scratching was giving a me headache, Remus," he said, glaring back at Remus.
"This from a bloke who works in a
room full of quill-scratching goblins all day long. You must spend half your wages on headache-banishing
potions," said Remus with a grin.
"Give the work a rest for a while, Remus.
Get over here and see how long it takes Tonks to
slime you," called Bill.
"I'm trying to finish this chapter tonight,"
"No excuses, Moony," said Sirius. "We've
each taken our turns letting my little cousin slime us. You're next in line. Emmeline will just have to wait a little longer for your scratchings to be done."
Emmeline Vance, a member of the Order of the Phoenix,
was also the Vice-President of the largest wizard publishing house in England. A few
weeks earlie she had offered Remus
some freelance work translating a series of books on magical creatures from its
original German. Remus had done a number of freelance
jobs for Emmeline over the years, both in translation
and in copyediting. But this was the first work she had sent him since the Umbridge Werewolf Restriction Laws were passed. She was
risking her position by giving him the work, and he was determined not to let
her down by doing a shoddy job, or missing his deadlines.
"Really, Sirius," he said. "My deadline is
in five days. I need to keep working on this."
"Now Remus," Nymphadora began, smiling sweetly at him, "I think we
all know that if you were really serious about working all night, you would
have taken your books up to your room to work. I think—and I'll hazard a guess
that my boys here would agree—that you’re just trying to worm your way out of
getting slimed. What do you think, boys?"
Both Sirius and Bill began nodding enthusiastically.
"She's spot on, Moony," said Sirius.
"You better listen to the lady, Remus,"
Remus smiled. He couldn't deny the truth. When Bill and Nymphadora were both over, he just couldn't stay away. When
the four of them got together he almost felt like he was back in the good old
days at Hogwarts with his old gang of friends. Tonight, like many nights before
it, felt deeply familiar. Just like the hundreds of nights in his dormitory
when he would sit scratching away at an essay, while James, Sirius and Peter
would play wizard chess or Exploding Snap.
"All right, all right," he admitted with a grin.
"I'll take my turn."
Nymphadora squealed with delight, and clapped her hands.
"Another victim!" she cried.
Remus joined them on the floor around the coffee table, and they
began to reset the game pieces.
A mere thirty minutes later, Remus
found himself covered with foul-smelling green Gobstone
Goo. But he could be proud of one thing—he had
outlasted Sirius by close to fifteen minutes, and had only come short of Bill's
tenure by one or two minutes. "Woo-hoo!"
shouted Nymphadora, leaping to her feet. "I am
the champion!" She started doing a bouncy victory dance around the room. Remus forced himself to look away—when she did that dance
of hers, certain areas of her body drew far too much attention to themselves,
and one wasn't supposed to ogle one's friends.
Remus pointed his wand at himself and evaporated the Goo. "Too bad I haven't figured out how to make the Goo impossible to charm away," said Nymphadora. "It would have been fun to see the three
of you lined up, dripping with Gobstone Goo. It would have been a perfect photo opportunity."
"Sorry to deprive you of your scrapbook moment, Tonks," said Sirius cheerily. "Up
for a rematch?"
She shook her head. "No—I have my guard-duty night
shift tomorrow. I'd best get home and get some sleep."
Sirius growled, "You just don't want to wear any of
that slime yourself."
"Hah! Like you could beat me!" she retorted.
"Let's find out, then," he said.
"Gladly," she replied. "But not until
Sirius continued to grumble as she packed up her Gobstone set. "Goodnight, all," she called,
heading out of the room. Sirius and Bill waved goodbye to her, pulling out an
old wizard chess set. Remus followed her, and no one
He wasn't sure when he had gotten into the habit of walking
her to the door every time she left, but it had been going on for almost as
long as they had known each other. "I'm afraid I'm going to have to cancel
our Tuesday dinner, Nymphadora," he said, as
they approached the front door.
"Why?" she asked. "Is that deadline really
He nodded. "I want to get the translation in early, if
I can. Prove that I can handle anything they can give me."
She nodded. "It's good to see you working. I don't
think I've seen you happier than the night you walked in, announcing that your
free-loading days were over. Do you think Emmeline
will be able to get you more work, after this job is done?"
"I think so," he replied. "She hinted that
if my job was sufficiently impressive, her associates would be less wary of
outsourcing to a werewolf."
Nymphadora frowned. "That damned Umbridge.
First she screws up your life, and now she's mucking up Hogwarts!"
"Don't get me started." Remus
frowned. "I don't have the energy to get angry tonight."
"I'm sorry," she said, resting a hand lightly on
his arm. "I had lunch with Arthur today, and he told me some more of the
horror stories that his kids are sending home about her. How are we ever going
to be ready for You-Know-Who with people like her in power?"
He put his hand over hers, and looked into her eyes.
"Patience," he said. "Patience and tenacity.
We'll come out ahead, in the end. It's only a matter of time."
She smiled up at him. "At least your envoy missions
are going well. There are times when it seems the international wizarding community is taking You-Know-Who's threat far
more seriously than our own Ministry. Thanks to you and
"We do our best," he replied.
"When are you leaving for Belgium?" she asked.
"Thursday, right after my
"So will we miss two Tuesdays in a row?" She
looked disappointed. Their Tuesday night dinners had been a tradition ever
since Remus had started a regular Tuesday guard shift
outside the Department of Mysteries. When he was done with his guard shift, and
she was done with her job at the Ministry, they would meet outside the entrance
to go and explore the local cuisine. They had only missed three Tuesdays in the
four months since the guard duty began.
"I'm afraid so. I'm sorry, Nymphadora,"
he said. "I promise, I'll make it up to you when
I get back."
She got a very alarming twinkle in her eye—the same sort of
twinkle Sirius always used to get when he was about to pull off a great prank.
"I'll hold you to that," she said with an impish smile.
"Why am I suddenly frightened?" Remus asked with an answering smile.
"Because you know me," she said with a laugh.
"So when will you be back?"
"A week next Wednesday, just in time
for the full moon. So I won't really be
back until the Friday or Saturday after."
"Can I come and help you with your transformation this
month?" she asked. This was not an unexpected question—she had asked it
every month since he first told her he was a werewolf.
He shook his head. "You know it's a private thing for
"You let that nutter who rents
your ground floor flat help you out."
"That's different," said Remus.
"Toddy Macnair is a trained expert in the field
of Dark Creatures."
"He's an exterminator, Remus,"
Nymphadora stated flatly.
"He knows what to expect each month. And I give him a
discount on his flat for helping me. If my friends started taking over, I'd
have to charge him full rent, and then he might move out, and I'd lose my only
stable tenant. Then where would I be?"
"Yeah, yeah, yeah," she muttered.
To change the subject, Remus
said, "Sirius' birthday is coming up, you know."
"I do know," she said, her eyes lighting up
again. He loved how she looked when she was excited about something—no matter
what guise she had morphed into, she always had that same glowing expression.
"Bill and I already have something brewing for it."
"What do you mean by that?"
She gave him a sly look. "It's a surprise."
"Oh, dear," he said, shaking his head.
"Oh dear what?"
"Well, if you two are putting together a birthday
surprise for him, and you aren't letting me in on it, then it probably means
that it's something I won't approve of."
"Oh, stop sounding like a Professor!" she
retorted. "I just think that both of you deserve a fun surprise, that's
"Can I have a hint?"
"No—I don't want to ruin it! But don't plan anything
for the night of the sixth," she said.
Remus raised an eyebrow at her. "That's two days before his
She grinned. "I know. That's what makes it such a good
Remus folded his arms, and leaned against the doorframe.
"Now I won't be able to think about anything else for the next two
weeks," he said.
"I'm always happy to be in your thoughts, Remus," she said, patting his cheek. "I'll see
"Goodnight," he replied. She left, closing the
front door behind her.
An hour later, after Bill left, Remus
and Sirius relaxed in the kitchen with a bottle of wine. As Sirius sipped his
wine, he gave Remus a thoughtful look, and said,
"Moony—when Tonks and Bill are over, do you ever
feel like we're the Marauders all over again?"
Remus was amazed at how closely Sirius' thoughts echoed his own
musings from earlier that evening. "I do, Padfoot.
I was thinking that tonight reminded me of all those nights back in our
dormitory at Hogwarts."
Sirius smiled, and leaned forward to rest his elbows on the
table. "So if I'm still me, and you’re still you," he said.
"Then who are Tonks and Bill? Marauders-wise?"
Remus swirled his wine pensively in his glass. He didn't think
either of his new friends were direct substitutes for his old—but if he had to
choose… "Bill's a lot like James, at times," he said.
Sirius laughed. "I was about to say the same thing
about Tonks! Two of James, and no
Peter. I think we may have traded up."
"I don't completely agree with you on that, Padfoot," said Remus.
"She's like James at times, but she's also a lot like you. And she has a
flair all her own."
"You make it sound like she's a one-woman crowd. But
you don't think she has any shades of Moony in her?" asked Sirius.
"No, she hasn't got any Moony in her," said Remus quickly.
Sirius let loose a short bark of laughter.
"What's so funny?"
"You forgot to add the 'yet'! She hasn't got any Moony
in her 'yet'!" Sirius continued to laugh.
Remus folded his arms. "Just what do you mean by
"You know exactly what I mean. And when will
she get some Moony in her, old friend? You've certainly been taking your
time," Sirius smirked at him.
Remus felt a slow blush spreading across his face. "I have
no idea what you're talking about," he insisted.
Remus abandoned his wine, and stood up. "I don't care to
dignify this juvenile line of questioning with a response. Now, I'm feeling
rather tired. If you'll excuse me, I think I'll go up to bed."
As he stalked up the stairs, he heard Sirius' barking laugh
echoing behind him.