Nox 2 - Cooking to Music
Dedication: To Golder, a fellow HP nut, for giving me the first four books in French, and for giving me inspiration for this when I got stuck. You're one of my best friends. Also to everyone who left such lovely reviews on the other stories. If I could bottle the warm fuzzy feelings they gave me, I could make a fortune...
A/N: This story is the sequel to 'Nox', when Remus found the Marauder's photo album. In this one, he shows it to Harry and tells him a few more stories about his parents. This one is more focused on James and Lily in the flashbacks, and Remus filling in as the male role-model in the present - because, like it or not, James has really had very little influence on his son. First it was Dumbledore, then Sirius, now... someone's gotta step up, might as well be Remus. Also, there are a lot of 70's songs - that's roughly the right era for the Marauders, right? And anyone who wants the recipe for chocolate, leave a review saying so and I'll email it to you.
Sorry for the rant, now on with the fic.
"This" is when someone casts a spell.
"This" is when someone speaks/sings/makes a noise using their mouth.
'This' is when something is written down.
This is when someone is thinking.
~~~ This ~~~ is a flashback.
Where did she put those moulds? Remus thought as he searched the cupboards. He was in the kitchen at the Black house, making chocolate, and searching for something to put it in. In the back of his mind he was feeling a little guilty about not talking to Harry about the photo album yet, but he simply hadn't found a time when Harry was alone yet. The wizard's wireless was tuned to a Muggle station playing seventies music, and he was quietly singing along to the current song.
"Now there seems no reason why I should carry on
In this land that once was my land, I can't find a home
It's lonely and it's quiet and the horse soldiers are coming
And I think it's time I strung my bow and ceased my senseless running..."(1)
"I didn't know you could sing," a voice behind him commented.
Remus looked over his shoulder to see Harry leaning against the doorframe, head cocked to one side, looking slightly amused. A shiver went through Remus - he'd seen Sirius adopt that same pose many times.
"I can't really. Not when I know someone's listening, anyway." He glanced at the clock, and became concerned when he realised how late it was. "Why are you up? Did you have a nightmare?"
Harry smiled ruefully. "Didn't get that far. Couldn't fall asleep." He wandered over to the oven and looked in the saucepans. "Does Mrs. Weasley know you're getting these pots dirty?"
Remus looked slightly offended. "It's not her house, and they're not her pots." He then gave Harry a guilty smile. "Anyway, I'm hoping that if I clean them, she won't notice."
Both laughed a little, then became quiet. Remus realised that this was the perfect time. "Harry, I have something to show you. Wait here a moment." He quickly retrieved the scrapbook from the sitting room and returned. Without fanfare, he presented it to Harry. "It's from our school days. I thought you should have it - it might help you know your parents better."
Harry opened it, immediately entranced by the photos and comments. He smiled at the picture of the three animals, and Remus explained the story behind the picture. The next page was covered in photos of James and Sirius, occasionally with Remus, on a stage singing karaoke. One in particular caught Harry's eye - the two black-haired boys were apparently singing a duet. Next to it was a drawing of (apparently) James and Lily kissing.
"Ah yes," Remus sighed. "That was a very... interesting night, to say the least."
"What happened?" Harry asked, interested.
"Well, it started three days before a Hogsmeade weekend. The Three Broomsticks had just gotten an enchanted karaoke machine, and there was going to be a competition. As you can see, James and Sirius were very keen on the idea - there was a Muggle bar near James' house that had karaoke, and he often dragged the rest of us there in the summer. But this was not long after Lily had started to notice your father wasn't as much of an idiot as he seemed. Anyway, Sirius and I were in the common room, me studying, him doing his best to distract me, when James burst in and nearly knocked several younger students over in his hurry to get to us."
~~~ "Padfoot, you've gotta help me!"
Sirius looked up at his best friend. "How much is it worth to you?" He grinned.
"I'm serious. I've been entered into the karaoke competition! I need help!" James looked terrified at the thought, while Sirius and Remus just looked confused.
"Prongs, you've dragged me out to karaoke loads of times. What makes this so different?"
Remus had already clicked. "Lily will be in the audience. He wants to impress her."
Sirius grinned again. "Aaaaaah. Now I get it." He thought for a moment. "So what do you need my help for?"
"You know I'm not that great a singer-"
"Too bloody right."
"-but whenever we sing together, everyone says it sounds great, so I was thinking..."
Sirius and Remus looked at each other, then cracked up laughing. James stood over them, not looking amused. The other two eventually regained control, and looked up at James. "All right, I'll help you. One condition though."
"Anything," James agreed, a little to hastily.
"I get the guy's part." Sirius looked cutely at James, then cracked up laughing again.~~~
Harry laughed. "That sounds like Sirius," he choked out, while Remus smiled and turned back to the chocolate. "So what song did they sing?"
Remus smiled as he started to melt the copha for another batch. "Well, James loved Muggle music, and Sirius was a huge Meatloaf fan, so they settled on one of his lovey duets... I think it was with Bonnie Tyler."
Harry couldn't wipe the grin off his face. "This is gonna be good."
~~~ "I can't believe you convinced me to do this..." James muttered, looking around the crowded tavern.
"James, you're the one that begged Sirius to help you. We had nothing to do with getting you signed up for the competition." Remus stated calmly.
"Well, when I find out who did sign me up I'll kill them."
Peter quietly moved to stand behind Sirius, who just as quietly took up his defensive stance, ready to protect the smaller boy. James, being wrapped up in his misery, thankfully didn't notice.
"Calm down, James. You've practised plenty of times, you'll be fine." Remus gave Sirius a meaningful look.
"Yeah, we're fantastic! We're gonna walk out with the prize!" Sirius stated, as over-confident as ever.
Peter cleared his throat. "Actually," he piped up, "the prize is as much butterbeer as you can drink in one sitting, so you won't walk out with it."
James and Sirius immediately fell silent, with identical looks of joy frozen on their faces. "Hey Padfoot..."
"I know, I know. We can finally realise our dream of trying to get drunk on butterbeer!"
Remus winked at Peter. That was the perfect way to get them up on stage.
The four friends fought their way to a table in the middle of the room, where a group of adults were just leaving. They quickly snagged it for themselves, and waited for the competition to start.
The MC was relatively amusing, introducing each singer or singers to the make-shift stage near the bar. The boys recognised several people in their year, and a few younger kids. It was near the end of the list when they heard their names called. James and Sirius nervously made their way up to the stage, and took up their microphones.
The opening guitar chords started, and all their nerves washed away as the piano gently started. As the applause died away, Sirius opened his mouth.
"I'd never tell you one lie, I'd never let you down,
I'd never leave, I'd be the one who'd always be around."
James sang the girl's part, voice wavering slightly,
"Baby give me a chance."
Sirius was back for Meatloaf's lines.
"I'd pull the sun down from the sky to light your darkest night,
I wouldn't let one drop of rain fall down into your life."
James again sang one line, gaining confidence.
"Put your heart in my hands."
Sirius was having great fun as he belted out his next lines.
"Baby believe me I could never do you wrong,
And I would never paint your world blue,
And if sometimes it seems I must have lost my mind,
I might be crazy, but I'm crazy about you!"
As the two sang the chorus together, James looked directly at Lily, who was blushing, but looking back at him. Sirius, on the other hand, was looking at Remus.
"I'd lie for you and that's the truth!
Do anything you asked me to!
I'd even sell my soul for you,
I'd do it all for you,
If you'd just believe in me."
As they sang the next verse, they clowned around a little, pretending to be singing to each other and making the audience laugh.
"Just take a look in my eyes, you'll see a love that's blind.
Just take a hold of my hand, I'll take you to paradise."
"Ain't a star that's too far."
"Your every wish will be a wish that I will make come true,
And if you want the moon I swear I'll bring it down for you."
"Let me into your heart."
As James began to sing his big part, he looked at Lily again. Remus guessed that James' his heart was already in overdrive, but he looked as though it was going to burst his ribcage when Lily smiled at him like that.
"Believe me baby, got your name carved on my soul
'Cause you're the only one that I'll give it to.
Go let 'em say that I'm a fool to act this way,
'Cause if I'm crazy, I'm just crazy 'bout you!"(2)
They sang the rest of the song, finishing to the loudest applause yet. They made their way back to the table and collapsed, exhausted. James was about to speak, when the MC announced that Lily was going to sing. Everyone started whispering - Lily had never sang in public before, leading many to believe that she had all the singing talent of a toad.
When she got on stage, however, she looked so natural that she took everyone by surprise. And when she opened her mouth to sing, everyone knew they were in the presence of a gifted girl.
She surprised everyone with her choice of song, too - an Alice Cooper song that was surely too low for her... but she sang it so high that it became a song of beauty and sensuality, not it's usual depravity.
"Your cruel device,
Your blood like ice,
One look could kill,
My pain, your thrill.
I wanna love you but I better not touch,
I wanna hold you but my senses tell me to stop,
I wanna kiss you but I want it too much,
I wanna taste you but your lips are venomous poison..."(3)
Remus glanced at James. He was entranced, not just by her voice, but by the fact that when she opened her eyes, she looked straight at him. In a few seconds, everyone around them realised that she was singing for one person only... the black-haired devil that tried to be worthy of the red-haired angel.
At the end of her song, Lily was given a round of applause that seemed to overwhelm her. She turned red again, and ran to her friends for cover. When the winner of the competition was announced, she seemed the only one surprised that it was her. James and Sirius came a close second, but they weren't disappointed. Once the crowd thinned a little, James went over to talk to Lily, who was looking relaxed and relieved now that the performance was over. He invited her for a walk outside, which she gladly accepted.
When the other three Marauders went outside several minutes later, they didn't go very far before they saw the two standing together, apparently just pulling out of their first kiss. The boys stood for a moment, then Remus and Peter dragged Sirius in the other direction, before he could ruin the moment for the happy couple. ~~~
"I guess that's why someone drew them kissing," Harry said, pointing at the sketch. Remus nodded.
"That's Peter's drawing. He was very good at capturing emotions."
Harry glared a little at the mention of Peter, and Remus couldn't really blame him. Harry hadn't known Peter the boy, only Wormtail the traitor. It suddenly struck Remus that, even though Peter was a Death Eater, he had kept the name his friends had given him. That thought brought a little comfort; there might still be hope for him.
They listened to the song on the wireless for a while. It was from a musical, Remus knew, but he wasn't certain which one. The lyrics seemed strangely appropriate for the Marauders though.
"Tyre tracks and broken hearts
That's all we're leaving behind
Doesn't matter what we lose
Only matters what we're going to find."(4)
Harry continued flipping through the album, then stopped. "What happened here?" he asked, pointing at another picture. It was of a thirteen-year-old Remus in a kitchen, with Sirius and James on either side of him. All were covered in some sort of brown goo. Remus growled playfully.
"That was the day James found a recipe for chocolate. So, naturally, we had to make some." He looked a little sheepish. "It was near the beginning of the summer after our third year. I've always been a chocoholic, and your father was sick of seeing me spend all my money at Honeydukes. So when his mother left one of her old recipe books out..."
~~~ "Come on, Moony, it'll be fine."
"James, you know my prowess with potions. How is cooking any different?"
"Because this time we're making something that you'll want to eat."
Remus had no answer for that. He knew it was a bad idea - he was appalling at potions, never able to get all the ingredients and measurements right - but somehow, James was always able to persuade him to do anything. Looking at the recipe, though, it didn't look too complicated.
Sirius leaned over his shoulder. "James, what's Copha? I've never heard of it."
"And how often have you cooked from Muggle recipes?" his friend asked, amused. "Come to think of it, how often have you cooked at all?"
Sirius grinned. "Okay, so I don't cook. But what is it?"
Peter surprised the others by speaking up. "It's vegetable solids. It's in a lot of recipes that involve chocolate."
"How did you know that?"
"My grandmother does a lot of cooking. She often wins prizes at the local fêtes." Peter looked slightly proud of his grandmother, and slightly embarrassed at how much cooking knowledge she had passed on to him.
"Well, at least one of us knows their way around a kitchen," Remus grinned. "Now if you can just help me convince these two that I shouldn't be here, I'll be eternally grateful."
Peter shook his head. "No can do. I'm just as interested in the final product... even if we do have to scrape it off the walls."
Remus threw a tea-towel at him, and the two started to play-fight until James stepped in. "Come on, Mum'll kill us if we mess up her kitchen. She's very protective of it."
"So how come you're allowed in it?" Sirius asked innocently.
"Because I always clean it up before she sees the mess I make."
With that, the boys started cooking. When it came time to add the cocoa, however, Sirius 'accidentally' nudged Remus, making him pour half of the tin into the bowl. They all looked at it for a moment.
"Well," Remus sighed, "at least we know it'll have flavour." He tried to stir it in, but quickly ran out of liquid. "So... how do we make it runny again?"
Peter looked around, then came over with a bottle of milk in his hand. "Add this, I suppose."
Sirius nodded. "After all, it's meant to be 'milk chocolate'. Might as well experiment." He added a dash of milk, looked at the bowl, then tipped the rest of the bottle in.
"You don't do anything by half-measures, do you?" Remus tried to look annoyed, but wasn't quite able to manage it. "So is this going to end up as chocolate, or poison?"
"Well, with you cooking it and us helping... probably both." James quipped.
Remus rolled his eyes. "Thanks a lot." Remus left the saucepans for a moment to fetch the moulds. While his back was turned, James and Sirius shared an evil glance, then both pulled tiny vials out of their pockets. James tipped the contents of his into the dubious mixture, while Sirius poured some of his onto the wooden spoon lying next to the oven. They then backed off a little, while Peter moved well out of the blast range, and surreptitiously retrieved his camera.
When Remus turned back to the chocolate, he didn't notice anything different. When he put the spoon into the saucepan and started mixing, however, he quickly realised that something was wrong. "Uh, James? Is it meant to be bubbling like tha-" He was cut off when the mixture exploded, covering not only the three boys in chocolate, but also the wall, oven, counter and floor.
Remus spluttered a bit, then licked his lips. "Mmm, nice." Then the four started laughing, and as the three at the oven turned around, Peter snapped a photo.~~~
As Remus came to the end of his story, Harry was laughing so hard that Remus couldn't help joining in. After a few moments, they calmed down, until Remus finished it off. "Five minutes later his mother came into the kitchen. I honestly thought that we'd never be invited back to that house! And in fact, we didn't go back there all summer - but she seemed to have forgotten by the time the next holidays came around."
Harry wiped a tear from his eye. "That sounds like something Sirius would do."
Remus smiled. "Sirius always wanted to make things explode. And your father was generally more than happy to help him." It suddenly struck Remus that although Harry looked like his father, he seemed to have been more influenced by Sirius. It saddened him when he thought about it, about how many people they had lost.
When the Marauders were younger, it was always assumed that Remus would be the first to go - werewolves were not known for their longevity. They had also assumed that all of them would have at least one child. Instead, the others had fallen away one by one, and he was left to pass on the memories to the only offspring - who had, in a way, been raised and taught by all of them. He was determined not to let Harry lose any more of the people he loved. As they fell into silence, the haunting sounds coming from the wireless were again oddly symbolic.
The show must go on!
The show must go on!
Inside my heart is breaking,
My make-up may be flaking,
But my smile still stays on...
I'll top the bill,
I'll earn the kill,
I have to find the will
To carry on with the show...(5)
Harry was again flipping the pages of the album, when he came across a picture that looked very similar to one Hagrid had given him. It was of his parents, this time younger, skating on the frozen lake. He smiled, and wordlessly showed Remus. Remus smiled back at him.
"Ah yes, that was in the Christmas holidays of our seventh year. Lily found out that James was spectacularly awful at ice skating, so she took it upon herself to teach him."
~~~ "Lily, I really don't want to do this..."
"Stop being a prat, James. You are going to learn how to ice skate if it kills you." Lily glared at her boyfriend. She'd been shocked to find out that he was not only terrible at ice skating, but he didn't even have skates. Sirius had procured some for her to give to him (though she wasn't sure she wanted to know where he got them from) and now they were on the edge of the lake, Lily on the ice, James trying to stand in the skates.
The other Marauders hadn't been able to resist this time. Peter and Sirius were on the ice, never straying too far from the couple, while Remus was resting at the edge of the lake. The full moon had passed only a few nights before, and he was still tired. He wasn't too tired, however, to make quiet comments to James.
"James, it amazes me that someone as graceful in the air as you can be so graceless on the ice."
James glared at his friend. "There's no one cheekier than a guy who knows his friend won't hit him."
Remus just smiled. For all that James complained, Remus knew he wanted to be better at skating. Not only was it more time spent with Lily, but it was time spent outside, not cooped up in the stuffy common room or stuffier library. There was something about his scent that became stronger whenever he was outside, letting Remus know how much he was really enjoying himself.
Eventually, Lily became sick of waiting for James to gather his courage and step onto the ice, so she pulled him out with her. Watching this, the other boys couldn't help but laugh at James' attempts to stay upright. Sirius in particular couldn't help but comment.
"Prongs, the blades go on the ice."
"Shut up, Padfoot."
"Honestly, you can't skate on your backside."
"Shut UP, Padfoot."
"Although I suppose we could always attach the blades to your ar-"
"SHUT UP!" With that, James lurched after his friend, letting go of Lily's hand and flailing at the air. Sirius started to skate off, going slowly but still staying out of James' reach. As James became more confident and started to get a feeling for it, Sirius started to skate faster. In a matter of minutes, they were both flying around the lake, James seeming to have forgotten all his reservations in lieu of catching his friend.
Lily made her way over to Remus and sat beside him, watching the boys and laughing. "I didn't think of that approach."
Remus smiled at her. "Of course not. Besides, it wouldn't work - James would never be mad enough at you that he'd want to strangle you."
Lily blushed as Sirius used Peter as a human shield. Unfortunately for the three boys on the ice, Sirius had neglected to take into consideration James' knowledge (or lack thereof) of how to stop. The pair on the bank watched the crash in slightly concerned amusement. Lily shrugged, smiled at Remus, then skated over to her boyfriend. She helped him up, then led him away from the two boys still lying on the ice, laughing like maniacs.
Sirius and Peter somehow managed to stand, using each other as leaning posts, and went back to Remus, who was still looking highly amused.
"Very well done, Sirius. He knows how to go fast and dodge others. Now perhaps Lily can teach him to go slow, and how to stop."
Sirius just shrugged. "It was taking too long. I was losing my patience."
"And we all know how much patience you have in the first place," Peter joked.
Sirius looked offended, then grinned. "Well, if you put it like that..." He then brought his hand up from where it had been resting against the snow, to show a hastily-formed snowball, which he threw at the smaller boy, sparking yet another snowball-fight between the three of them.~~~
Harry was staring off into space as Remus finished his tale. He watched the boy for a while, until Harry suddenly smiled back at him. "I can see them skating together. One of the pictures in the album Hagrid gave me was of them as adults, skating somewhere."
Remus nodded. "After his first foray onto the ice, James fell in love with it. As it was Lily's favourite winter sport, they often went out to local ice skating rinks, or onto the frozen lake. I believe the photo you're referring to was taken not long after they were engaged - he proposed in the middle of the ice."
Harry was entranced by the stories Remus knew. It was as if there was a door separating Harry from his parents, and the stories Remus told were the key to opening it. Remus was aware of this, and was doing his level best to tell Harry everything he could.
They came to the end of the book, and smiled at each other. There was a moment of silence, as they listened to the latest song on the wireless, feeling a little more at peace for having shared the stories.
And it's whispered that soon if we all call the tune
Then the piper will lead us to reason.
And a new day will dawn for those who stand long
And the forests will echo with laughter.(6)
Harry suddenly sniffed the air, and frowned. "Remus, do you smell something burning?"
Remus looked confused, then mortified. "My chocolate!" He scrambled for the oven, just a little too late. The resulting explosion was similar to the one more than two decades ago, and the pair of males couldn't help but laugh.
(1) 'Indian Sunset' by Elton John
(2) 'I'd Lie For You (And That's the Truth)' by Meatloaf
(3) 'Poison' by Alice Cooper
(4) 'Tyre Tracks and Broken Hearts' by Bonnie Tyler, from an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical (so it's not 70s, but Bonnie Tyler is from that era. It's called 'artistic licence.' Deal.)
(5) 'The Show Must Go On' by Queen
(6) 'Stairway to Heaven' by Led Zeppelin