The Sugar Quill
Author: Thing1 (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Snips and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails  Chapter: Default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

This is for S., who I owe a Sirius story to , thanks to her explaining the rudiments of cricket to me (laughs). Lived in England all those years, and I’m hexed if I ever understood it. This is also for those who have asked I write about the Marauders’ years at Hogwarts.

 

Another silly romp, centred on MWPP (with a bare minimum of W, of course) working with Lily to celebrate Remus’ 16th birthday. And that’s all you get. As ever, these are, for the most part, JK Rowling’s characters, and I’m glad she has a much more relaxed attitude towards life than Ms. Rice. My only profit is laughter.

 

 

***

Qui tacet consentire.

- medieval maxim of English law

 

 

***

In the grand scheme of things, it really wasn’t that big of a deal. Really, it wasn’t. Although Sirius Black always maintained it made up 20 of the longest minutes of his life. Which is saying a lot, considering.

The Muggle constabulary decided to write the entire incident off, seeing as there was no real proof of what constables Adams and Pershing swore on their oath of office had really happened. Their Chief Superintendent gave them the next week off (with pay) and told them to ‘relax, and let’s just not talk about it again, shall we?"

No evidence of the alleged article in question was found by the Wizards, either, even though after reading the tabloid interview Constable (soon to be permanently relieved of active duty due to ‘nerves’) Pershing gave, several members of the Enforcement Arm descended upon Devon. And of course Mr. Lupin had looked very relieved once he confirmed that no, nobody had given Remus a ruddy great black dog for his birthday, so that was something.

Best of all was the fact that Remus had had a wonderful birthday party, and since that was the point all along, that was all that mattered.

 

***

Sirius sat on his bed in the dark trying not to fidget, but seeming not to notice himself tapping a foot impatiently as he waited. He could hear Peter’s faint snores, Scott mumbling in his sleep, and Houghton thrashing faintly as he lived through yet another death-defying Quidditch feint in his dreams. Remus didn’t make a peep, but Sirius had made sure he’d gone to sleep quickly and soundly once he got back to the dorm with a mild, but effective, sleeping charm.

Finally he heard the unmistakeable sounds of very soft footsteps creeping to the far side of his bed.

"Sirius?"

"James, shut up, or they’ll hear you!

James gave him an exasperated look as he quickly climbed onto Sirius’ bed and pulled the curtains tight behind him. After a moment he lit his wand very faintly, much to Sirius’ annoyance.

"Don’t give me that look, you git. Right, I’ve got it all settled in the kitchens," he whispered, wiping his somewhat sweaty bangs off of his forehead and giving a small huff as he did so.

"What’s up with you?"

James grimaced. "I had to run back here. Peeves caught me talking to the bakery elves and soared off to find Filch. That’s what I get for lending Remus the cloak."

Sirius grinned and wiggled his eyebrows. "Well, I can promise you from what very little he said when he got back that he put it to good use."

James gave Sirius a small smile and shook his head. "Yeah; but he didn’t let the lovely Miss Carrington see him using it, did he?"

"James, Phoebe never saw me use the cloak, she simply commented that I had a habit of appearing out of nowhere. Stop being paranoid."

"Must be my exhaustion and faint brush with death speaking."

"Death?"

"Well, Peeves is dead, right?"

"You’re stretching it, old man. So the elves agreed to make the cake?"

"Yes. And they sent this back," James added, now placing a large bundle in front of Sirius. He looked puzzled.

"What’s that?"

James opened the bundle to reveal a pile of treacle tarts, fudge, chocolate pies and some lemony-looking thing Sirius couldn’t quite place.

"Very nice. Um, exactly how are we going to explain how we got this?"

James gave him an aggravated glance and picked up a treacle tart.

"You can’t possibly think that even the two of us will finish this lot off tonight!"

James shook his head. "No," he mumbled through the sticky filling, "we’ll have to get rid of it some other way. But I couldn’t refuse it, ‘cause I didn’t want to upset them, and I think I’ve earned a few bites."

Sirius ignored the food. "Good luck getting to sleep after eating that. Perhaps you should make Lily eat it, since this was her idea in the first place!"

James laughed faintly, causing crumbs to fly from his mouth onto the covers. Sirius whacked him, softly, on the head.

"Oi! Do you mind, Prongs! I’ve got to sleep here!"

James covered his mouth with his hand and rolled his eyes as he managed to finish chewing and swallow the tart. Then he gave Sirius a grin.

"Sorry, Padfoot. Lily’s still miffed that Cassie called her ‘chunky’ last week."

Sirius returned James’ gesture as he too rolled his eyes. "Lily is being silly. She’s adorable and she knows it. And Cassie looks like a vampire, she’s so thin. Nasty."

"Well, she’s not eating any desserts at the moment. So I suggest we smuggle this lot out to Hagrid and let him feed it to Bumble."

"Perfect; the evidence should be destroyed within 6 seconds. We can finalize the plans for our little ‘surprise party’ while we’re at it. Once again, I have to comment that Muggles have quite a few excellent ideas!"

James nodded, swallowing another bite of the tart. "Lily says even Petunia was happy when the Evens’ threw her a ‘surprise party’ last year, so this should be fun!"

"And thank the gods Remus is finally going to be 16. He would have to be the youngest, wouldn’t he? Anyway, now we can all get into Muggle pubs!"

Sirius watched James cover his mouth again (thank you) to laugh silently at this. Despite Sirius managing to magic Remus a Muggle ID that clearly stated he was ‘of age’, Remus refused to use it while he was still only 15, stating that if Sirius’ little ruse backfired, Mr. Lupin would be furious about it. Sirius didn’t push the point, knowing that Remus would never relent, and not too pleased with the idea of (for whatever reason) angering Mr. Lupin, who was all in all a very good sport about most things. And the Lupins, after all, were letting them stage this little ruse to begin with.

Usually Remus’ birthday fell right around the last day of term, after exams had finished and just before they all left for the summer. This year, unfortunately, Remus’ birthday coincided with the second to last day of testing, then the next night was a full moon, and then they all left for the holidays before Remus was feeling up anything, well, fun. His friends had already decided just to have a quiet celebration the actually night of June 22nd, but had (for a good reason) conspired against Remus’ suggestion that they all come to Devon the week following the start of vacation to celebrate properly. Sirius explained that he was being dragged off to America to visit relatives; James explained that he’d love to, but had a family wedding in France that his parents demanded he attend. Even Peter had come up with the reasonably plausible excuse that he was going directly from Kings Cross to Basingstoke to join his mother for her own birthday, and then off to the coast for a small holiday with her and his aunt and uncle as a treat. It was pure luck that Remus didn’t remember that Mrs. Pettigrew’s birthday was in October.

Lily had come up with the plan of throwing Remus a ‘surprise’ party.

***

"Sirius! Come here!"

Sirius gave Lily a curious look as he noticed her waving him over to the direction of the usually deserted girls’ lav on the second floor, but dutifully followed her into room without question. He wasn’t particularly surprised to find James and Peter already standing there. James looked rather nonchalant leaning against the sinks, but Peter was blushing and kept his gaze on the floor, causing Sirius to grin. Exactly what does he think he’s going to see?

"First off," started Lily, crossing her arms and giving Sirius a rather dark look, "you are a moron for making that comment and getting 10 points taken from Gryffindor. It’s only three weeks until the House Cup is awarded, you know we’re practically tied with Ravenclaw, and you just can’t resist getting in one last shot at MacMillan, can you?"

Sirius started to say something but Lily’s scowl kept him mum. "I’m completely uninterested in what you have to say for yourself, Sirius. Now, what I really wanted to talk about," she started, reaching down into her book bag and pulling out a piece of parchment, which she waved triumphantly in front of the boys, "is this is a letter from Mr. Lupin."

Sirius saw James raise an eyebrow in perfect time with his own.

"What are you doing with a letter from Remus’ dad?"

"He sent it in response to the letter I sent him, of course," she said crisply, unfolding the parchment. Peter finally looked up to give her his own confused glance, but she simply smiled at them all happily.

"I was thinking about how unfair it is that this year, of all years, we aren’t going to get the chance to celebrate Remus’ birthday properly. I mean, it’s his 16th, and I think that we need to celebrate it appropriately, though perhaps with a little more care than we did Sirius’. Spending the rest of February helping Hagrid clean up the weeds around the edge of the lake was rather unpleasant."

Sirius shrugged and grinned. "Oh, I still think it was worth it. Snape and Avery didn’t live it all down until March."

Lily just gave him another rather thin-lipped glare and waved the letter from Mr. Lupin again. "Be that as it may; I thought it would be fun to give Remus a surprise party."

"A what?" asked Sirius, James and Peter all at once.

"A surprise party. Muggle thing; we don’t tell Remus what we’re doing, then we surprise him with a bang-up party."

"If he doesn’t know he’s having a party, how will he know to be there?" Peter asked. James cuffed him on the ear as Sirius groaned, but Lily smiled and continued.

"We just have to arrange it so he is. That’s why I wrote to the Lupins. First of all, I figured we’d best have it there. My house is right out, as Petunia will be back by then and you know how she gets, and although daddy would be happy to host, Petunia sulking about like a weed isn’t on. It’s no wonder she’s no friends, and how she managed to get herself a boyfriend is beyond me. That’s assuming this Vernon really exists and she’s not making it up ‘cause she’s jealous of James." Lily winked at James who blew her a kiss with a smirk. Laughing, she continued. "I could just imagine the expression on Mr. Black’s face over the idea of having 30 odd teenage witches and wizards loose in his house," here she looked at Sirius who did laugh and shake his head, "and the Potters would work very hard to make sure it was, well, a very dignified affair, bless them, and fully up to Wizarding birthday traditions which, frankly my Wizard-raised comrades, are dull as dry toast. The Lupins, however, are sports of the top sort, and I figured they’d love the idea. Which has proven to be the case."

Sirius clapped his hands and gave Lily a small bow. "Excellent strategy, Miss Evans. And you’re quite right about the Lupins. I take it they agreed to let us throw one of our standard fêtes under their indulgent supervision?"

"Even better. Mr. and Mrs. Lupin are going to clear out and let us have the place to ourselves. They ask only that we don’t destroy their home, and do not, under any circumstances, bother any Muggles. Read for yourself," she said, handing the letter to James. Sirius and Peter stood on either side of him to read it as well.

 

Dear Lily (et. all)-

Remus’ mother and I are delighted with your suggestion, and I think Remus is going to be very ‘surprised’ and very, very pleased. He’s feeling a little sad that this year his birthday ‘can’t be celebrated properly’, though (of course) he hasn’t said much on the subject.

My wife and I will take Remus out for the day, for our own celebration with him, which should give all of you time to get here and get ready. After we bring him back, Mrs. Lupin and I will retire to the village for dinner together, and leave you to your celebration until midnight. The only stipulation I have to this (other than you leave the house standing, please) is that you are not, under any circumstances, to allow this party to leave the property and go anywhere near any Muggles. Sirius Black, this means you.

Sirius sighed. "Mr. Lupin knows me too well, I think."

You asked what Remus’ favourite cake was; as you well know, if you put anything chocolate within 10 metres of him he will eat it post haste. However, he is particularly fond of a cake that is prepared at Hogwarts for the larger feasts. As to what is in it, I can only speculate, but Remus gets a rather dreamy look about him when he tries to describe it. The bakery elves have improved from the days I was up there, it would seem. Mrs. Lupin will gladly make a torte Remus loves, but perhaps you might be able to persuade the elves to make this particular cake, if you know what it is. Looking through my ever-expanding Hogwarts file here, I do see that you have in fact managed to figure out how to get into the kitchens, as I believe James and Remus spent a week scrubbing out potion cauldrons for obtaining that bit of knowledge. I don’t want to hear how you manage it.

We look forward to seeing all of you. Please let us know if you would like us to prepare anything before hand, and forward me a list of who is going to be here, as I do want to make certain that this is all right with their parents, especially as we are going to leave you unsupervised. Don’t worry Sirius, I’ll figure out a way to convince your father and mother that I am not out of my mind for allowing this. James, please let me know the best way to contact your parents, as I am aware they are currently on assignment for the Department of Mysteries. Peter, I will speak to your mother directly tomorrow when I see her at work. Lily, is it appropriate to owl your father, or does he find that a little off-putting? I know your sister finds it horrifying, but she should still be away at University now, so my owl won’t be in her way.

In closing, I just want to say how very touched we are that you are doing this for Remus. You, James, Peter & Sirius mean the world to him, and I know he will be very happy. The only thing Mrs. Lupin and I treasure as much as Remus himself is your friendship with him, and the happiness it has brought to him.

My love to you all,

Edmund Lupin

P.S.: If I don’t get any more owls announcing a detention of some sort between now and the end of term I’ll stake the party a case of Butterbeer.

 

***

Lily had organized the party with her customary thoroughness. She assured the Lupins that they had promised enough simply by letting them have the party at their house in the first place, and by ‘handling’ Remus for the day, and that she and the others would see to the food and drink. She made James promise to see about the cake. Finally, Lily had managed to convince her father to provide a rather large amount of food, and told James and Sirius that they would be responsible for helping her get it ready once they got to the Lupins.

"What about Peter?" whined James.

"You’ve worked with Peter in Potions for five years now and you want to trust him to cook you some food?"

"Good point. Tell Peter he’s responsible for getting the drinks."

"I already have."

Lily also managed to invite the rest of the Gryffindor fifth years, and the assorted Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw classmates they considered friends, without a single wind of what was up getting to Remus.

"No Slytherins, my dear? However shall we entertain ourselves?"

"That’s your responsibility, Sirius Black. Keep it legal. Wizard and Muggle laws, please."

"Spoil-sport."

"Actually, Sirius, the expression you’re looking for is ‘party-pooper’."

"Lily! That’s disgusting!"

 

***

Remus wasn’t the only one looking exhausted as they dragged themselves onto the Hogwart’s express to go home that year, although he was the only one who fell asleep the instant he sat down. Sirius laughed and shoved Remus’ dead-weight around so that he was lying on the bench in a more comfortable looking position before picking up his feet so he could sit down himself, resting Remus’ legs across his lap.

"Well," whispered Sirius, "he should be rested for the you-know-what", he told the others, watching Remus closely as he said this. Remus didn’t twitch and only gave a very soft snore out of his slightly open mouth. Lily smiled and brushed Remus’ bangs back off of his forehead before she sat down next to James and put her arm around him.

"Not another word about it. Let’s just get some rest ourselves."

Sirius awoke with a start as he felt someone shaking his shoulder. He opened his eyes and blearily looked over at Remus, who was upside-down for some reason, and giving him a rather amused look.

"May I have my legs, back, Padfoot?"

Sirius realized he’d fallen forward over Remus’ legs once he’d gone to sleep and straightened up with a groan.

"Oh gods, my back!"

Remus laughed as he stood up and stretched himself, though he still looked tired.

"Get up, old man, we’re in London."

Sirius saw now that the train was no longer moving and glanced out the window to see that James and Lily were already on the platform, speaking with James’ parents. They looked up at that moment, and seeing Sirius, each gave a wave and a wink, pointing at Remus.

Hoping that Remus hadn’t noticed them, Sirius quickly busied himself with getting his trunk and his cat down, blocking Remus’ exit.

"Move along, Padfoot!"

"I’m going, I’m going."

By the time they had both dragged their trunks and their pets out, the Potters had disappeared, much to Sirius’ relief. He caught sight of the Lupins on the far side of the platform, and waved himself now, pulling his things behind him as he and Remus went over to greet them.

Mr. Lupin hugged Remus tightly for a long moment, then stepped back to smile at Sirius as Remus turned to his mother.

"Hello, Mr. Lupin!"

"Hello yourself, Sirius. Have a good year?"

"Yes, thank you," Sirius replied, glancing over his shoulder to make sure Remus was still busy talking to his mother. He then leaned in close to Mr. Lupin and smiled. "All set? Everyone says they’ve made sure their parents got back to you saying it was alright for them to come."

"All set, yes; I’ve spoken with everyone. Mrs. Lupin and I will spend the evening down at the village, and get back around midnight. I take it I don’t need to remind you that magic is not allowed during the summer?"

"Now why on earth should you feel the need to remind me of that?"

Mr. Lupin laughed and smiled at Sirius, then looked over his shoulder.

"Here come your mum and dad. Your father thinks I’m absolutely stark raving mad for doing this, you know."

"Yeah, I can imagine."

Mr. and Mrs. Black walked up to the Lupins and Sirius at this point and smiled at everyone. Mr. Black shook Mr. Lupin’s hand even as Mrs. Black embraced Sirius and kissed him on the cheek, much to his embarrassment.

"Edmund, Gwendellyn, good to see you both. Remus, how are you?"

"Fine, Sir, thank you."

"You look exhausted, son; exams do take it out of one, don’t they?"

Sirius forced himself to keep a neutral expression even as Remus murmured a soft agreement.

"Sirius? Your mother and I thought it might be nice for all of us to have dinner here in town before we get home. Perhaps we can persuade the Lupins to join us?"

Sirius watched Remus’ parents give him a concerned and questioning look, and Remus nodded then smiled softly at Mr. Black.

"Thank you very much, Sir; but I am rather tired and must admit I’ve been looking forward to some of my mother’s leek soup and my own bed for about three days now."

Mr. Black chuckled and patted Remus on the shoulder even as he reached down to pick up Sirius’ cat. "Understandable. I’m sure we shall see you later in the summer after you’ve had a good rest."

The Blacks and the Lupins walked off of Platform 9 and ¾ chatting about nothing in particular. Everyone said various goodbyes, and then Sirius followed his parents out of the station opposite the direction the Lupins were headed. Mr. Black smiled once he’d caught up to walk level with him and put an arm over Sirius’ shoulders.

"Gods, son, you’re almost eye level with me now! We’re happy to see you, you know."

"Yeah."

"So Remus hasn’t figured out anything about this ‘surprise party’ you’re planning?"

"Doesn’t look like it."

"I still think the Lupins are asking for trouble, but it seems a nice thing to do for your friend."

Sirius nodded, saying "It was Lily’s idea."

Mr. Black gave him a sideways glance, then with a small sigh took his arm off of Sirius’ shoulders.

"I was hoping you and I might be back on speaking terms, Sirius."

Sirius gave him a rather puzzled look.

"You seem to be reduced to responding to me in monosyllables; I happen to know this is not your usual custom."

"Father; sorry. I’m tired too, you know. I promise to chatter your ears off tomorrow, how’s that?"

"Sounds excellent," he deadpanned, then winked at Sirius.

Sirius laughed and decided that maybe this summer wouldn’t be so bad after all. Provided his father never found out what Sirius was really planning to do for Remus’ birthday that was.

 

***

Sirius could barely sleep the night before the party. He’d spent the last several days making sure his ‘present’ was ready to go, which had been exhausting, but now that he was reasonably certain everything was set, he could barely contain himself. As the first rays of sunlight finally appeared on the morning of the party, Sirius jumped up and got dressed, then raced down to breakfast, nearly tripping over the Black’s house elf who was cleaning the stairs at an hour she assumed nobody would be about. He apologised profusely, then continued into the kitchen. Wolfing down some toast and milk, Sirius scribbled a hasty note to his parents, explaining he had to leave early to get to Lily’s house and help her with the food as he had promised, then ran out just as the sun finally rose over the trees. It as going to take a while to get down to Exeter and get ready, but it was going to be so very, very worth it.

Double-checking that no movement could be seen in the house, Sirius snuck around to the shed where he kept his broom. He collected what he had stashed there, then silently made his way through the back garden and across the river out to the Muggle road behind the property so as not to be seen leaving. Finally, making sure the coast was clear, he set out for Devon with a very large, very happy, and very devilish smile.

 

***

Sirius kept an eye on the Lupin’s front door from where he sat up in the branches of a large elm across the road from their house. He entertained himself by writing a letter to Phoebe, primarily chastising her for missing tonight’s festivities, but remembering to put in a few nice things about her eyes and sense of humour so she’d still be speaking to him by the time she got back from her holiday. It was nearly time for the Lupins to be leaving, and then he could get ready, get into the house, meet James and Lily, and tell them he’d arrived just before they had and nobody would be the wiser. He’d watched Mrs. Lupin come out to the front garden once to collect several armfuls of flowers, then vanish back inside. At last, the three of them appeared together, dressed to go out. Sirius smiled, watching Remus laughing with his mum and dad, as they walked up to the edge of the road, and then vanished.

Sliding down as quickly as he dared to, Sirius got out of the tree and collected his things once more from where he had hidden them in the ferns. He then crossed the road and went around the side of the house to let himself into the paddock there. He was a little miffed that he couldn’t cast a simple ‘not here’ charm to hide his handiwork, but there was nothing to be done. Finally, having stowed his things up against the far wall and successfully concealed them with the bushes and tall grass, he picked up one bundle he had not hidden and went into the house.

The flowers Sirius had watched Mrs. Lupin collect were all lain out on the kitchen table with a note to put them in water soon, and telling them that the vases were stored on the top left cupboard over the last fireplace. Sirius immediately went and pulled out a number of vases, filled them from the tap, then stuck the flowers in. He figured Lily could arrange them herself into more tidy and attractive arrangements once she got there. Then he saw two more notes on the kitchen counter. One was addressed to Lily, the other to himself. He picked up his note and read it.

Sirius-

Whatever you do, whatever you get up to, you have until midnight to destroy the evidence. I’ve already warned Mrs. Noyes that you are here. If the Ministry of Magical Law Enforcement gets involved, you’re on your own.

E. Lupin

Sirius grinned and tucked the note away into his pocket, now especially pleased to have arrived before the others. Mr. Lupin had just given him the silent consent to do what he had planned with a clearer conscience as Sirius had hoped he would. Whistling, he wandered into the front room and sat there doing the Daily Prophet crossword until Lily and James stepped out of the fire, laden down with boxes and baskets.

"Afternoon, Padfoot. When did you get here then?"

"Never mind when he got here, James. Sirius, take these, would you? I’ve got to go back and get the rest."

Sirius took the armfuls of packages from Lily and led James into the kitchen, where they dropped everything onto the table.

"Exactly how many people are coming again?"

"Don’t start. My mum decided to have a momentary fit of domestication and cooked up a load of food for us, in addition to what Lily’s dad already got us."

"Your mum cooked?"

"Yeah, it worries me too. I haven’t even dared to open some of the boxes yet."

Once Lily returned with even more containers of food, the three of them set to fixing up everything. James and Sirius were not allowed to handle anything more complicated than sandwiches, while Lily busied about baking up meat pies, pumpkin muffins, and other assorted what-knots. Around four Peter appeared with the first load of drinks.

"Hi. Can someone give me a hand here? The rest is in the fireplace," he said in a rush as he ran in carrying a large box, which he promptly dropped near the sink.

"We’ll have the Lupins charm that lot with a chilling spell when they get back before they take off. James, Sirius, help him with the rest, then let’s get the house ready."

As James and Sirius followed Peter back to the front room to haul the drinks out of the fire where he’d left them, Sirius saw James give him an amused look.

"Yes?"

"You look like you’re up to something."

"I am, I’m helping to throw a ‘surprise’ party."

"Other than that."

"Hmmmm. Well, we’ll have to see, won’t we?"

"You’re not going to embarrass Remus, are you?"

"No."

"Promise?"

"Promise."

"Come on, what’s up?"

"Nothing."

"Sirius…."

"Nothing."

"A hint?"

"No."

"So you are up to something."

"I didn’t say that."

"Should I be nervous?"

"What on earth makes you nervous?"

"That grin you’ve got generally does the trick."

"You’re one to talk."

James let the matter go, but kept giving Sirius odd looks while they got the house ready for the party. Sirius pointedly ignored him and spent most of the time talking with Peter about the current Quidditch standings. James finally gave up shortly before the rest of the guests were set to arrive.

Houghton and Scott appeared first, bringing a large banner with them.

"Evening all; we’ve got a little something here for the birthday boy."

They unveiled the banner to show a large sign in the Gryffindor colours that blinked "Happy Birthday Remus" and gave off little pops and whizzes as miniature fireworks went off.

"Very nice. Exactly how did you get that done then?"

"Had it made up at Zonko’s. Wait until you see what it does when we sing ‘Happy Birthday’."

Lily groaned. "Let me guess; it explodes. What is it with you lot and blowing everything up?"

Houghton and Scott just grinned, then waited for Lily to clear off and greet two others who had just arrived before looking back at James and Sirius.

"It doesn’t blow up, mates. It puts on a little show. A little one, seeing as there will be ladies present."

"Oh are you two asking for it!" laughed James, looking at the banner with renewed interest.

"Hey, it’s Remus’ birthday, not Lily’s."

"Very true. Let’s get it up over the mantle so we can all have a good look when the time comes."

By 6:30 everyone had arrived per instruction. Sirius watched Lily in her element as she carefully organized everyone and explained what they were going to do when Remus walked in. Scott included his own instruction that they were not to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ until later when they brought out the cake. Lily gave the suspect banner a long glance, but said nothing. Everyone chatted quietly while they waited until Peter, who had been sent to keep an eye out for the Lupins, came back in.

"They’ve just come back!"

Everyone instantly got quiet and faced the door, keeping away from the windows, and listening. Soon they heard voices, and the front door opening and shutting again.

"Remus," came Mr. Lupin’s voice, "do me a favour please and see if I’ve left the paper in the front room, would you?"

Sirius couldn’t have asked for a better expression on Remus’ face when he opened the door and was instantly barraged with a loud scream of ‘surprise’ as his friends all jumped forward at him. He stood there stunned, until Sirius called out that unless he wanted all of his birthday pictures to feature him with this stupid look on his face he’d better smile. Remus did laugh at that and Sirius got a nice shot of him giving Lily a hug as she explained what was going on, and a superb one of him turning as red as a Gryffindor Quidditch robe when Stella Carrington gave him a rather saucy kiss in front of everyone, amid cheers and cat calls, though he was still smiling.

The party took off as soon as the Lupins said goodnight and left. Noisy, boisterous and fun; exactly what they’d planned. They spilled out into the garden as it got dark, the lights Mr. Lupin had enchanted casting a glow over the lawn. Once Sirius and James figured out how to get them out of the trees, however, they all took the lights out to the paddock where a friendly ‘girls vs. boys’ tag Quidditch game kept them occupied for a good hour. Finally they decided they were all getting a little too shaky on their brooms and moved indoors, where Scott and Houghton signalled for quiet as Lily went to get Remus’ cake.

"Right! Remus, we’ve got you a little something, now that you’re ‘old enough’ for it. Lily, where’s that cake? Now, everyone, when we sing….good gods, Lily, why is the cake on fire?"

"They’re birthday candles, Scott," said Helen Ferris, another Muggle-born Hufflepuff classmate. "One for each year. Remus, you have to blow them out and make a wish. But you have to blow them all out with one breath, and you can’t tell us what it is, or it won’t come true."

"Blimey, no wonder Muggles don’t believe in magic if they think that’ll work," commented Scott. "Right then, go for it Remus. But don’t anybody sing just yet!"

Remus looked amused as he dutifully blew out the candles, then inspected the cake.

"Is this…?" he said, looking rather surprised and pleased again.

"Yes," said James, triumphantly. "I had the Hogwarts’ elves make it for you just before we left. It’s been enchanted at the bottom of my trunk for a week, but I think it’s still good. We’ve got a back up, though, in case I messed up the spell."

"Yeah, right you messed up a spell," drawled Sirius, amid laughter as James flushed slightly.

Houghton waved his arms to get everyone’s attention again. "Okay, okay. Now, everyone, I want to hear ‘Happy Birthday’, good and loud and don’t worry about the tune too much. Remus, keep your eyes on that banner, won’t you?"

Remus dutifully turned to watch the banner as everyone started to sing ‘Happy Birthday’. At first, it just seemed to flash a little brighter. Sirius noticed, however, that after a moment the letters started to shimmer, then dissolve. They were replaced with an image of a line of rather attractive witches wearing very tight robes. The song faltered a bit as everyone started to laugh, but was picked up again, and the witches started doing some sort of rather slinky dance. Remus started laughing so hard tears formed in his eyes. The singing stopped completely amid the screams of laughter and whistling as the witches started doing a slow, but obvious, strip tease. It wasn’t anything too terrible, and the witches vanished in a puff of smoke just when it seemed it was going to go a little too far. A chorus of boos sounded, but died out quickly amid renewed tittering.

"Very amusing, Houghton, Scott," laughed Remus. "Thanks for keeping in mind we had mixed company."

"Not a problem. Happy 16, Remus."

Lily was laughing as hard as Sirius. "Horrible! Really horrible!" she choked out, but still laughed.

The party continued until shortly before 11, when Sirius stood up to thank everyone for coming, and commenting that sadly, the evening was over. Lily pulled him over once he got back down off of the chair he’d climbed up on, looking surprised as people started gathering their things.

"Sirius, It’s only 10:45, we have until midnight!"

"Look, we’ve had fun, but now I want to just have us about so I can give Remus his present!"

"You already…oh, gods; Sirius Black, what are you planning?"

"Lily, Lily, Lily; there’s no need for that look. Look, you did an incredible job with this, and it’s been great, but let’s leave the last bit for just us, his best friends. Right?"

"I don’t trust you at all, but," here she reached into her pocket and took out the note addressed to her that Sirius had seen earlier and handed it to him.

Lily-

Just let Sirius get it out of his system. I’ve no idea what ‘it’ is, but I can not for one moment imagine there isn’t an ‘it’ to be set free. Do please remind him he’s got until midnight to get ‘it’ over with.

E. Lupin.

Sirius laughed.

"Does James know what you’re up to?"

"No."

"You promised Mr. Lupin no Muggle baiting."

"It has absolutely nothing to do with baiting Muggles. Well, not directly."

"What does that mean?"

"You’ll see."

"I don’t think Remus wants an arrest record for his birthday, Sirius."

"No, I doubt it."

Lily gave up at that and moved to say goodbye to everyone. Sirius snuck back out to the paddock and retrieved what he had stored there earlier, bringing it up to the back porch and leaving it there before going back inside. Peter left with Scott and Houghton, and Sirius didn’t stop him as he wasn’t sure Peter was up to what he had planned next. Finally, it was just Remus, James, Lily and Sirius. Remus looked very happy and hugged Lily again.

"That was really wonderful, Lily. Thank you."

"Remus, we all did this for you. I’m glad you liked it."

Remus just nodded and sat down, as Sirius went to retrieve the one package he’d brought with him into the house earlier that day.

"Moony," he started, "I have a little something for you myself. Three things actually, but start with that."

Remus looked warily at the package Sirius held out, then stood up and took it, giving it a small shake.

"Open it, you clod, it won’t explode or bite."

Remus pulled the paper away, then held up the contents of the package with a surprised look.

"What’s this?"

"Muggle outfit. Nothing fancy, just a pair of trousers and a shirt."

"And this?"

"A leather jacket. Keeps you warm."

"Yes, Sirius, jackets tend to be for that purpose. Thanks, but why…." Remus stopped as Sirius held up a hand, then reached into his robes and pulled out a very small flat package wrapped in the same paper.

"Next."

Remus opened this package, looked at the contents for a moment, and then gazed back at Sirius slowly with a wicked grin.

"You just couldn’t wait for this, could you? I should have guessed."

Lily looked at what Remus held. "I knew it, that Muggle ID card. No, no, no, you are not going…." She stopped as all three of the boys gave her a mock pouting look.

"Now look, we told Mr. Lupin we’d stick to the property…."

"We told Mr. Lupin we’d keep the party on the property. The party is over. And we have one more hour, more or less, until midnight."

"James…."

"Lily, come on," smiled Sirius, "Mr. Lupin made it clear that he was keeping a blind eye on us until midnight. All I am going to do is take Remus to have one drink, and get back by midnight. No harm, no foul."

Lily crossed her arms, but said nothing further. After a moment, Sirius clapped his hands and motioned for the door.

"Right then; qui tacet consentire."

"How’s that, Padfoot?"

"’Silence gives consent’. Remus, go change, then meet me by the back door, and I’ll give you your last present."

As Remus ran upstairs, Sirius pulled his own robe off over his head as he went into the kitchen, revealing the fact that he was wearing Muggle clothes himself. This caused Lily to finally laugh, even as she shook her head again and poured herself another glass of Butterbeer.

"You’ve been planning this for weeks, haven’t you? Well, who am I to point out that this is probably not the best plan. Keep in mind the Lupins are in that village, and had better not see you."

"No problem. There’s a pub at the end of the High Street away from any place they might be having dinner. You two can join us, you know."

Now James shook his head. "Not a chance. You go have your little adventure and we’ll wait right here."

"Have it your way."

Lily looked up at Sirius now with an amused expression. "I’m terrified to ask this next bit, but exactly how are you getting to the village?"

"We’re flying."

"Ah. And you’ll just carry your brooms into the pub with you over your shoulder?"

"No."

"I really wouldn’t leave those about, Sirius," started James, but he trailed off as Sirius grinned at him. Then his eyes got wide. "Oh, bloody hell, Sirius, you got it to work?"

"Yes."

"Got what to work, Sirius," asked Lily, watching James start to grin as dangerously as his friend.

"Unbelievable," continued James, ignoring her. "Where is it?"

"Out back. Flew like a dream coming down here. Remus gets the first ride, then I’ll take you."

"What’s out back, Sirius?" said Lily, her voice now rising a bit.

Sirius continued to ignore her as Remus walked in dressed in his new clothes.

"Well, do I look Muggle enough, Lily?"

"Very nice, Remus," she said absently, still watching Sirius closely. He just blew her a kiss then made for the back door.

"Alright, Moony, you ready? I have a very special treat now. To get us into town," he said opening the back door and stepping out. He moved aside to let the others past and watched for their reactions. Remus gaped, James cheered and Lily let out a shriek.

"What do you think?"

"Is that a motorbike?"

"Sirius, you can’t tell me that that thing flies…."

"It flies?"

"So which charm worked best…."

"You’ll kill yourself! And Remus!"

"Where do you keep it so your dad doesn’t see it?"

"STOP!"

Everyone looked at Sirius as he pulled on his own jacket and got onto the bike.

"Right; I’ll answer all questions later, but right now we’re running out of our precious time. Lily, I am not going to kill anyone with this. I got it last summer and have been working very hard to make certain it won’t kill anybody. Remus? Let’s go."

Remus did hesitate before getting on behind him.

"You have flown this before, yes?"

Sirius started the bike. "Yes. I flew it down here this morning. Get on."

Remus climbed on behind Sirius, now grinning himself. Sirius gave Lily one last look, but didn’t say anything when he saw she was laughing.

"Oh, Sirius, it’s just so you. Alright, please be careful. Have you got any Muggle money? And get back here on time; Mr. Lupin may be aware that you’re up to no good, but he was pretty clear that it all better be over by the time he gets back here with Mrs. Lupin."

"Will do. Remus, hang on."

Sirius gently pushed them off and slowly made his way down the path around the house and out onto the road. He paused for a moment, then gave Remus a smile over his shoulder.

"We’ve got to get a little speed up before we take off. Ready?"

"Go for it."

 

***

As Sirius and Remus leaned against the bar of the pub, nursing their pints, Sirius watched the Muggles with his usual fascination. He knew that he and Remus were grinning like idiots, but he could care less.

"Remus?"

"What?"

"We do some awfully silly things, don’t we?"

"Frightfully silly, yes. And with such flair," he laughed. Sirius knew he was referring to the motorbike, now parked innocuously across the street from the pub.

"It’s brilliant, isn’t it?"

"Well it’s noisy, but it is rather brilliant. Where did you get it?"

"Old Muggle woman who lives on a farm near our house. I’d seen it sitting against the side of her barn for years, never moving. Last summer I finally got my nerve up and went over there, and offered to help her around her farm in exchange for the bike."

"What on earth do you know about farming?"

"Not a thing. Luckily, she said she didn’t need any help, thank you, but if I wanted the bike I was welcome to take it and get it off her property. Called it an ‘eyesore’, and assured me that it probably would never run again."

"When did you, um, modify it?"

"Finished day before last. I’ve spent all school year working out exactly what enchantments to use…."

"Hang on, hang on; you can’t do … anything…during the summer."

Sirius smiled. "I can’t, no, but Harold can."

Remus pretended to look horrified. "You let me run around on something enchanted by your cousin?"

"It was all done under my strict supervision. Harold’s a bit of an idiot, granted, but he’s a good natured one and knows how to keep his mouth shut."

Remus raised his glass. "To Harold, then."

"To Harold!"

They finished their drinks, then Remus waved his watch at Sirius.

"Okay, we’ve had our little adventure, but we’ve got to go back."

"We’ve nearly 20 minutes! It’ll only take us 10 to …."

"Sirius, move. We’ve the rest of the summer to get into trouble. Do it now, and we’ll never be allowed out of the house."

Sirius couldn’t argue with that, so they left the pub. Sirius hadn’t made it two steps onto the walk before Remus grabbed him and dragged him quickly up the street then around the side of the building.

"Oi! What are you…"

"Shhh!"

Sirius fell silent while he watched Remus peer around the corner carefully, then step back.

"Mrs. Noyes just crossed the road."

Sirius groaned. "What’s she doing up at this hour?"

Remus shook his head. "Probably had to see to someone who’s sick. But why is she out this way with the Muggles?"

"Does it matter?"

Remus shook his head, then peered around the corner carefully. Sirius leaned around him to get his own look. Mrs. Noyes, the Wizarding community’s healer, was standing not 15 metres away from them, chatting with two people. She showed no signs of leaving.

Sirius poked Remus in the back, and Remus swatted at him without taking his eyes off of the witch.

"What?"

"Look, let’s just…."

"NO!" he hissed. "You must be mad. She knows exactly who we are and if she sees us, we’re done for."

Sirius pulled Remus back. "Listen to me! Okay, if you and I both wander out there, yes, she’ll most likely recognize us. But the light isn’t that good, so would she recognize a Muggle out walking their dog?" he whispered.

Remus just looked confused for a moment, then he realized what Sirius was suggesting. They were all still getting used to the fact that Sirius, James and Peter had finally worked out the Animagus transformation.

"Brilliant! Okay, what’s the plan? We can’t just walk off and leave your bike…."

"Too right we’re not going to leave it! You and Padfoot are going to walk across that road, collect the bike, and carefully walk it back this direction, then around the corner to the little road we came in on. Then we’re off."

Remus glanced back at the street and considered the plan. "Sirius…."

"I realize you are the Grand High Mugwump of ‘what can go wrong’ but spare me this time and just do it!"

Sirius transformed, and he and Remus carefully walked out onto the sidewalk. It would have worked, had not some Muggles chosen than moment to run out of the pub and start a fight. It seemed that everyone in the bar followed them out to watch and egg the combatants on. Sirius and Remus’ escape route became more complicated, as they had to shove their way through the crowd to get across the street. Sirius’ nerves started to fray as he kept getting his paws trodden on, and his flanks accidentally kicked. He growled loudly, and found to his pleasure that this moved people away from him very quickly. As they eventually made it across, however, several Muggle police cars arrived. People ran in all directions, and Sirius finally lost his temper completely when some man ran into him and fell heavily across him. Canine instinct took over, and Padfoot bit the man on the leg, reasonably softly, ignoring Remus’ cries to control his ‘bloody temper’. The man took one look at the size of Padfoot and screamed for the police.

As two officers appeared from the crowd at the sound of the screams, Sirius froze. He and the Muggles stared at each other a few seconds, then he did the only logical thing. He ran.

Perhaps because they were so young, the officers didn’t really have the experience or wherewithal to realize that chasing a dog away from pub brawl wasn’t the most productive use of the taxpayer’s money. Perhaps they were too caught up in the moment; after all, not much really happened in this quiet corner of Devon and chasing a dog the size of a Shetland pony looked like the most entertainment their job would provide them for several years. Whatever their motivation, they took off after Padfoot at top speed.

Padfoot didn’t really care what these two thought they were doing, and simply ran. He concentrated on figuring out how he was going to circle back to Remus, and praying that Remus had had the good sense to grab the bike and move it up to the side road as they had discussed. He and Remus had been through enough situations like this to know that in such predicaments, you still had to carry out the plan as best you could. Because he was so caught up in his own issues, Sirius missed a few things.

He missed seeing Mr. and Mrs. Lupin glance up at the sight of 2 Muggle policemen racing past the window they sat next too, chasing after a disturbingly large black dog.

He missed Mrs. Lupin taking her husband’s hand and giving it a small squeeze as she said quietly, "Why do I have the sudden feeling that whatever that was just now has something to do with what’s going on at the house?"

He missed Mr. Lupin raising his wife’s hand to his lips to give it a small kiss and then responding, "Sweetheart, if it is, they have about 15 minutes to sort it out," then raising his wine glass with his other hand and saying "Here’s to their sorting it out. And that dog had better not be one of Remus’ birthday presents."

Sirius ran off the high street, around a building, and waited in the shadows for the Muggles to run past. He then jumped back out and ran back in the direction he had come. He didn’t notice that the men had come to a halt a the far street corner, and looked about for him. They saw him, racing back in the direction they had come, but were much farther behind at this point.

Sirius made it back past the pub, and around the corner. There stood Remus with the bike.

"COME ON!"

Sirius transformed back so quickly he didn’t have time to stand up properly, and fell over. Remus reached down to grab him and pull him to his feet. Sirius couldn’t believe he was laughing.

"GET UP! START THIS STUPID THING!"

Sirius got up and jumped on the bike, Remus right behind him. At that point, they heard the siren. Remus actually laughed harder.

"Oh, Sirius; only you!"

Sirius got the bike going just as the police car came around the corner. He opened the throttle and shot off down the road. As soon as he was clear of the headlights, he took the bike into the air, and made a sharp turn back in the direction of the Lupins’ home.

They landed directly into the paddock, and threw the bike into the bushes. Remus and Sirius took off racing for the back door, throwing it open and hearing the clock strike as they did. James and Lily jumped up from where they had been sitting and stared at them.

"What happened?"

Before either Sirius or Remus could answer James, they all heard the front door open. They stood there looking at each other, Sirius and Remus now giggling like mad, as Mr. and Mrs. Lupin came into the kitchen. Sirius and Remus tried very hard to stop laughing, but were having little success. Mrs. Lupin looked at them, then smiled and left quickly. Mr. Lupin remained, crossing his arms and looking at Sirius and Remus with a vague smile on his face.

"Why, dare I ask, are you wearing Muggle clothes?"

"B-b-b-birthday present-t-t-t," Remus managed, barely. "From Sirius!"

Mr. Lupin watched as even James and Lily started to giggle, both putting their hands over their mouths and trying to look innocent. Mr. Lupin watched them for a few more moments, before trying again.

"Have a good time?" he asked casually.

"Very, thank you," said Lily.

Mr. Lupin looked like he was going to continue, but he was interrupted as a police car pulled up sharply in front of the house, it’s lights flashing and it’s siren blaring before it was abruptly turned off. Mr. Lupin gave them all one long look before going to answer the front bell. They all followed, anxious to see what was going on. James and Lily were dying to hear what was up, while Sirius and Remus were just as anxious to hear what the Muggles had to say about everything. Sirius couldn’t believe that they had managed to follow them here.

Mr. Lupin opened the door, and smiled at the two young constables standing there.

"Yes, gentlemen; may I help you?"

"Good evening, Sir," began the rather stupid looking blonde one. "Um, have you had any disturbances here?"

Mr. Lupin raised an eyebrow, gave the young people a quick glance, and then smiled at the Muggles again. "Disturbances? No, I don’t believe so. Have any of you," he said, now turning to look fully at the young wizards and witch who stood behind him, "heard any disturbances?"

"No," they all answered in unison. Mr. Lupin faced the constables again. "It would seem not. Is there something I can help you with?"

"Well, sir, there was a small incident in town," started the redhead. Mr. Lupin continued to smile, and the constable stammered on. "And we followed two individuals this direction who we suspect may have had something to do with it."

"Two individuals?"

"Well a man and … his dog."

There was a noticeable silence before Mr. Lupin encouraged them to continue.

"His dog, you say?"

"Yes. They…they fled the scene on a motorbike. Headed in this direction."

"A dog that rides a motorbike? Perhaps the circus is in town?"

The constables gave a nervous laugh. "Well, this was a rather, um, unique, motorbike," continued the redhead.

"Oh? How is that?"

"Well, it…it flew."

"It flew?"

"Yes sir. Right off the ground like an airplane or something."

"You are asking me if I’ve seen a man and his dog on a flying motorbike come past my house?"

"Yes."

"Well, I can safely say that I have seen no such thing. Ever."

"No, sir;" mumbled the constables in unison, looking at each other.

"No. Now, will there be anything else?"

The two young policemen visibly slumped, obviously realizing how incredibly ridiculous they sounded, and stared at the flagstones on the front porch.

"No, sir, Sorry to disturb you, sir."

"That’s quite alright. I do hope you get…whatever it is you are after…sorted out."

"Thank you, sir."

They tipped their caps, then beat a hasty retreat back to their car. Mr. Lupin watched them leave, then closed the door. He did not turn back around, but stood there looking at the door for a long moment.

"Can I assume, gentlemen, that the reason I did not see a flying motorbike come past my house is due to the fact that the object in question is, in fact, concealed near my house?"

There was a long silence. Finally Lily started to giggle again, and Mr. Lupin turned to look at them, although with a smile. Lily looked at Sirius.

"What was that you were saying to me earlier, Sirius? Qui tacet consentire?"

"Quit tacet….?" Mr. Lupin looked at Sirius, then laughed quietly. "You know, Sirius, a very great Muggle statesman once lost his head because of that little legal precedent. Lucky for you, the maxim of the law has changed."

"Yes?"

"Yes. ‘Innocent until proven guilty’ is now the standard of things."

There was another long pause, before Mr. Lupin moved past them and headed up the stairs.

"I am retiring for the evening," he said in a very pleasant tone. "Tomorrow I shall make a thorough search, as a flying motorcycle would be a rather interesting thing to find. Just the sort of thing I would have been particularly taken with when I was, oh, 16, shall we say. Goodnight."

Mr. Lupin vanished upstairs, and Sirius looked at Remus, James and Lily.

"You," said Lily quietly, staring at Sirius with a smile, "are a total, complete, un-equivocated, on the grave of Godric Gryffindor, menace to society."

Sirius grinned. "I know. Who wants a ride then?"

//
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