2: Chapter Two: A Plan Fiendish In Its Intricacies
“I don’t see why we have to do this,” Sirius grumbled.
“We want to get James and Lily together, don’t we? And shut up, anyway. You’re supposed to be invisible.”
“I am invisible.”
“And silent, too.”
lapsed into near-silence, only muttering occasionally as he and Peter
bumped into one another underneath the cloak. I smiled slightly. Where
once that cloak had covered three or four of us with no problems, we
were now so tall that there was barely room for the two of them.
“Remus, did you drag us out of bed at this God-forsaken time of night for a reason, or do you just like us suffering?”
“Yes,” I replied.
I stifled a smile.
“You haven’t been to bed yet, Padfoot. And you’re the one who always says that this is the best time to do what we do best.”
Sirius muttered something under his breath.
“Remus,” Peter said. “I want to help James as much as anyone, but we’ve got Charms first thing tomorrow.”
“Parkinson’s still got a boyfriend, Wormtail,” Sirius said, offhandedly. “It doesn’t matter how well you do in Charms.”
Peter fell silent, apparently hurt.
“Sirius, please,” I said. “It looks like no-one’s prowling the corridors tonight. Let’s find a classroom and start plotting.”
“At last, action!” Sirius said. “Wormtail, get ready for a late night. There’s marauding to be done!”
took several hours. Usually when we put our heads together, we could
come up with a plan and bang it into shape in a few short minutes.
James would come up with the nucleus of a plan. Sirius, meanwhile,
would expand upon it and build an outline. I would take the raw plan
and refine it into something workable, while Peter was very good at
spotting the flaws in a plan, potential tripping points.
Without James, we had no plan to build upon, refine, or test.
“It’s got to be big,” Sirius said. “Something grand that they can’t resist.”
“But not too big,” I said. “They shouldn’t know that it’s us pushing them together, or they’ll fight it.”
“James particularly can’t know anything
about it, at all, or Lily will never believe that he wasn’t involved.
We can’t let him have even the slightest idea that we’re up to
something,” Peter said, his eyes sparkling apparently at the thought of
putting one over on Prongs.
“Polyjuice won’t work,” I sighed,
as I crossed it off the list. “There’s no way we can trick Prongs into
taking it – it’s too easy to taste, and Lily would never believe he
didn’t know anything about it.”
“What if...” Peter mused. “Suppose I go on the date with Lily, but I do something to drive her into Prongs’ arms?”
“Like what?” Sirius asked.
“Er... I don’t know,” Peter said, his shoulders sagging.
couldn’t do anything too bad without upsetting Prongs, and he’d find
out that you were faking and tell Lily. However that ends, it’s not
going to be pretty.”
Peter nodded glumly.
“Firewhisky?” Sirius asked.
“What? Oh, no thanks,” I said. Sirius grinned.
wouldn’t waste good drink on a night like this,” he said. “But what if
we just got them plastered? Firewhisky isn’t magical, not like
Polyjuice. We can disguise the taste and just spike their pumpkin juice
one night. Fifteen minutes later they’ll be ripping each others clothes
I pondered the idea for a moment.
backup plan,” I said. “But I’m not sure I like the idea of them going
crazy getting drunk. They might just blame it on the booze the next
“Hang on...” Peter said. We turned to look at him.
“What is it?”
“I’ve got an idea,” Peter said, sounding as though he wasn’t quite sure of it.
“What is it?” Sirius repeated.
“Well, Lily always hangs around with loads of other girls, right?”
“Sure,” I shrugged. “Mandy Bates, Stephanie Peters and Vanessa Finnigan. What about them?”
“Well,” Peter said, licking his lips nervously. “What if they all ended up with boyfriends and Lily was left on her own?”
“Wormtail, please don’t tell me you’re thinking what I think you’re thinking...” Sirius said.
“Come on, Padfoot, take one for the team,” Peter said, cheerfully.
“I can’t,” Sirius said. “You know how things ended up with me and Stephanie that time.”
“Probably why Lily thinks you’re such a prat,” I said, cheerfully.
“Thanks, Moony,” he sighed.
think Peter’s got a point,” I said. “But we don’t have to get them all
to be our girlfriends. We just need to keep them occupied. Peter,
you’re going to have to go on that date with Lily after all.”
“Lily, do you have a moment?”
Lily looked up from her Charms homework with a slight frown.
“Of course, Remus,” she said, marking her place in her textbook with a spare quill.
“It won’t take long. It’s just... We’ve worked out the details for your date with Peter. It’s the first Hogsmeade weekend.”
“Oh,” she said, sounding surprised. “You were... serious about that?”
“Oh yes,” I said, nodding my head for emphasis. “I know that Peter was... devastated by your slip of the tongue.”
“Remus, be honest with me,” she said. “Does James Potter have anything to do with this?”
No,” I said, absolutely truthful. “He knows what we expect you to do,
and I don’t think that he’s happy about it, to be honest.”
“He’s not?” Lily asked.
I think he’d rather that we weren’t forcing you into going on a date
with Wormtail. He doesn’t think that it’s very... honest, I suppose.”
Lily said again, her expression turning from inscrutable to curious.
“Remus, where did those nicknames come from that the four of you call
“Oh, around,” I said airily. “Oh, and in case you
were wondering, the rest of us will be coming along as well. You might
want to invite some of your friends along as well.”
“Well, it’s up to you, but I wouldn’t want Sirius pulling faces at me when I’m on a romantic date-“
“No,” Lily said. “I mean, why are you all coming along?”
“Peter can be very shy sometimes,” I said. “He wants us along for moral support.”
longer able to trust myself not to break down into a fit of laughter, I
turned and walked away, only just avoiding walking straight into James
by virtue of good reflexes.
“I’m not going,” James stated.
“You have to,” I said. Sirius nodded.
“For Wormtail, Prongs,” he said. Peter said nothing, but watched from his bed.
couldn’t care less,” James snapped. “There are a lot of girls left in
this school you haven’t asked out yet, Peter, no offence.”
“None taken,” Peter said quickly.
you have to come along,” Sirius said. “I’m good, but there’s no way I
can keep two women entertained at once." He paused, and then shook his
head and continued. "And you know Evans – she’s bound to bring along
Stephanie. You’re the only one who could ever charm her, you know that.”
Sirius was good, making an appeal direct to James’ ego.
“No,” he said, after wavering for a moment.
“Not even to show me where I went wrong with Stephanie?” Sirius asked, clearly surprised.
even for that,” James said. “I’ll wait here and sweep her off her feet
when she comes back here, after you’ve upset her. Again.”
Sirius scowled and turned to me.
“He’s all yours, Moony,” Sirius said.
what now?” James asked, turning to me. “Let me guess, you don’t like
the colour nail polish that Lily uses so you need me to hold you back
from biting her fingers off?”
“Clear gloss?” I remarked
mildly. “Actually, I think that it suits her. I like to see nice, shiny
nails on a girl. It must be the wolf in me.”
The others laughed, and even James managed a smile.
“But James, if you must know, the real reason we want you to come along is because of what that Saturday is.”
“What is it?” James replied.
I pointed at the calendar pinned to the end of my bed. A lunar calendar.
“The day after the full moon,” I replied quietly.
days between James reluctant agreement and Peter’s big date passed
slowly. Relations were strained between James and the rest of us –
particularly between James and Peter. James felt that I was being
placed at an unacceptable risk, although I said over and over again
that as I grew older the transformation was taking less and less out of
me each month.
This was true, after a fashion, although I
find that since I turned thirty-five (The horror!) I am slipping
backwards again. Still, at seventeen, I was almost able to take my
furry little problem in my stride. James, loyal as he was, believed
that I was simply putting on a brave face, and for once I didn’t argue.
didn’t spend much time with us over the next few weeks. Peter was very
busy with Charms Club – anything, I suspect, to get away from what he
was sure was his impending doom – while James was busy with Quidditch.
The first match of the season was against Slytherin, of course, and
James had had a shocker of a game against them in sixth year, something
the Slytherins hadn't allowed him to forget. James stayed out until all
hours, working himself and the team into the ground and returning to
the dormitory looking tired and dishevelled, as though he’d been
dragged backwards through a Whomping Willow.
Sirius and I,
meanwhile, suddenly found ourselves the focus of Lily’s group of
friends. Sirius’ past with Stephanie Peters is probably best left
obscured by the mists of time, but suddenly she, and Mandy Bates, and
Vanessa Finnigan were everywhere we seemed to be. I’d almost have
suspected that Lily herself was behind this in an attempt to discourage
us from joining Peter on his date, but Lily herself was nowhere to be
seen. Much to her displeasure, her Potions work had slipped somewhat
since returning to school, although Professor Slughorn, for whom Lily
had always been a favourite, attributed this to lovesickness.
hear that you have a date this Saturday,” he was saying to her at the
end of one lesson. “Well, I must say that I’m pleased you’re getting
out a little more, my dear. And I’m sure that you’ll be able to find
the correct balance between dedication to your duties and to your
lessons as well.”
Slughorn chuckled at his joke, while Lily
flushed a horrified scarlet and bolted from the room. Sirius and I
exchanged a look of mild alarm, but by the time we reached the common
room, Lily was sitting with her friends and chatting happily.
we passed them by, Stephanie looked up and gave Sirius an outrageously
suggestive wink that made Sirius stumble over his own feet while the
girls laughed uproariously. Sirius shot me a startled look before
bolting for our dormitory. I followed as well – rather enjoying the
sight of Sirius so spooked by one girl.
“I’m not doing it,”
Sirius was proclaiming as I caught up with him. James and Peter, who
had had free periods that afternoon, watched in amusement as Sirius
paced up and down the dormitory.
“She’s terrible – once she gets her claws into me, I’m a dead man!” he shouted.
calm down,” I said, dropping my bag onto my bed and perching next to
Wormtail, who passed me a handful of popcorn. The three of us munched
happily as Sirius grew increasingly wild, his long hair pointing in all
directions as he swept his hands through it again and again.
said at the time, never again. I can’t do it – and you saw her, Remus,
she probably expects us to just pick up where we left off.”
James, who seemed a lot more cheerful, shot me an inquisitive look. I nodded, and James’ grin grew even wider.
on Padfoot,” James said bracingly. He stood up and grabbed Sirius’
shoulders. Sirius stopped moving, looking for all the world like a
frightened – and rather grubby – angel, with his dark hair standing up
around his head like a halo.
“James, I can’t,” he protested. “Not Stephanie. You know what I went through last time.”
“Nonsense,” James said. “It’s only one date-“
“It’s not a date!”
“-and we’ll be sure to protect you from the big, nasty girl, won’t we?” he asked, turning and looking at us.
“Absolutely,” I said, struggling to hide my own grin. Peter nodded, not even bothering to hide his.
Sirius looked from one to another and eventually, with a sigh and a muttered swear word, nodded.
“Good man,” James said.
“What’s got you in such a good mood, Prongs?” Peter asked, as Sirius slumped back onto his bed.
“Me?” James asked, almost too innocently. “Just enjoying Padfoot’s misery.”
“But you’ve been in a good mood all afternoon,” Peter said, narrowing his eyes as he peered shrewdly at James.
good lesson in Charms today,” James said, grinning widely as he threw
himself onto his bed. “Disillusionment Charms. Dead useful, I bet.
Think how much marauding we can manage if we’re all invisible.”
“We won’t be invisible, though,” I said.
“As good as,” James said, waving his hand in a dismissive way. “And at night, who’ll be able to tell the difference?”
Sirius groaned from his bed. We all turned and looked in his direction,
but that appeared to be all he had to contribute.
happened between Sirius and this Stephanie?” Ron asked. I started as I
realised that my audience had grown to include a fair few members of
the wedding party.
“Bill and Fleur have gone,” Molly said, smiling gently. “Such a beautiful girl.”
“You must be proud,” I said. Molly nodded.
“Bill’s so happy,” she said. “What mother could ask for more?”
“You and Mrs. Peters would have agreed on that at least, Molly,” I smiled.
her mother loved you,” I said, the next day at lunchtime. “At least she
wasn’t trying to bash your brains in with a cauldron.”
“That sort of parent I can cope with,” Sirius said, looking abject and dejected. “Remember Tanya Summers?”
I nodded. That had been a true Romeo and Juliet affair – although thankfully both parties had emerged alive.
“But never again, Remus. Stephanie used her feminine wiles to draw me to her home, and then...”
He shuddered, and hunkered himself still further over his soup.
Sirius. At least arranged marriages had passed out of vogue in the
wizarding world – although Mrs. Peters had done her best to try and
bring them back in style.
But that’s neither here nor there,
really. Sirius managed to avoid Stephanie for the rest of the week
through judicious use of the Invisibility Cloak and by bunking off the
lessons where they’d be in the same room. Fortunately, they only shared
History of Magic and Transfiguration, so Professor Binns didn’t miss
Professor McGonagall, on the other hand...
“And where is Mr. Black?” she asked, staring pointedly at the three of us.
“No idea, Professor,” I replied, as honestly as I could.
“Let me rephrase myself, Mr. Lupin. Why is Mr. Black not in this classroom?”
well. You may tell Mr. Black that he has a detention on,” her eyes
flickered to one side, where Lily and her friends were sitting. A small
smile appeared briefly on her thin lips. “On Sunday morning.”
dawned bright and hot, the last nice day of summer before autumn came
along and provided Sirius with a forestful of dead leaves to drop down
Even the thought of his traditional autumn pastime didn’t seem to cheer him, however.
“I’m not going,” were his first words as he awoke on the floor of the Shrieking Shack.
seconds later, and the rest of us had silenced him, tied him up, hung
him upside down by his ankle and shoved him into the shower. He
thrashed hopelessly for a few minutes before we dragged him out again,
sodden robes and all, and glared at him.
James repealed the Silencing Charm with a wave of his wand.
I’ll do it,” Sirius scowled, glaring at us as he hung upside down in
midair. “But I swear, if I come back here tonight with a ring on my
“Not a problem, Padfoot,” Peter smiled. “We worked out how you can drive Stephanie away.”
“Really?” Sirius asked, perking up immediately. “How?”
“Just be yourself.”
little later, scrubbed and cleaned, the four of us emerged from the
dormitory, Sirius sulking and skulking behind James and myself. But it
was no good.
Stephanie, who had obviously
gone to a great deal of trouble over her clothes and make-up, erupted
from a nearby chair and clamped onto Sirius’ arm. Sirius jerked back in
surprise and horror, the expression on his face one of cherishable
“Decided that you made a mistake, did you sweet
Sirius?” Stephanie simpered. “Mummy will be so pleased. I’ll be sure to
write to her... tomorrow morning.”
Sirius, helpless in between
Stephanie’s twin assaults of sugary sweetness and sexual harassment,
turned to us for help, his face a waxy still life, his jaw hanging
open, his eyes bulging slightly in a faintly alarming manner.
“Well, must be off,” James said, clearly enjoying the spectacle. “Coming, Sirius?”
“Oh, yes, dear Lily’s big date. Everyone’s so looking forward to it.”
“They are?” I asked.
Remy,” Stephanie said, batting her eyelashes at me. I took an
instinctive step backward. “Darling Vanessa has been ever so excited
this last week. She’s wanted to get to know you for quite some time,
“Er, she has?” I said, a small smile passing across
my lips. Vanessa Finnigan was quite a catch, and I’d never suspected
that she might be interested in me.
“Absolutely. She’s a keen astronomer, you know.”
“Er, she is?”
“Oh yes. She knows that you take a keen interest in the phases of the moon, so I’m sure you’ll have ever so much to talk about.”
was my turn to look at the others in horror. The last thing I wanted
was anyone prying into my interest in astronomy. Such was my
unfortunate personal interest in the subject that I could never take
much interest in it at Hogwarts – and of course, once a month the
midnight class in the Astronomy Tower was quite out of the question.
“And Peter,” Stephanie giggled. “You naughty boy. Shame on you for stringing Mandy along.”
“I... what?” Peter asked.
you knew. Mandy positively yearns for you, my dear. She was quite
heartbroken when you began your pursuit of Lily. My, there was quite
the row between the two of them when Lily agreed to this date. They
very nearly came to blows. Lily was quite adamant that she would go out
with who she wanted, but Mandy said that if Lily was any sort of friend
that she’d step aside and let her have at you.”
Lily wouldn’t really need to step aside, would she?” Peter rasped. I
suspected that his throat had become inexplicably tight. Mine certainly
had as I contemplated the next few hours. “I mean, Mandy’s huge.”
I know,” Stephanie giggled again. “You should have seen them. Mandy
towering over Lily, glaring down at her. Mandy the Beater, Lily the
bookworm. Eventually Vanessa and I convinced them to wait and see how
today went, but whichever choice you make, Petey, you’ll be breaking
one heart today. And the owner of that heart will probably break a few
Stephanie reeled back and launched into her
terrible, braying, high-pitched laugh that had become such a trademark
in her time at Hogwarts. The four of us all shuddered as one at the
sound of it, but three of us were also shaking at the thought of what
we had got ourselves into.
“Oh, here they come,” Stephanie
said. “Now, Remy, Petey, please don’t let on about what I’ve said. I
shouldn’t really have told you anything, but I’m so excited! There’s
going to be so much love in Gryffindor Tower tonight!”
other three girls came down the steps from their dormitory. Vanessa
looked, I must say, quite lovely, but she looked at me with a smile
that hinted at an almost clinical interest. I shivered slightly.
walk over your grave, Remy?” James asked, beaming. He had offered Mandy
his arm in a very proper way, and looked positively ecstatic about the
prospect of the day ahead. “Shall we be off, then?