(Author’s Note: I would be remiss not to mention that the Triangle/Drums exchange is lifted from a Buffy episode.)
must admit that the journey to Hogsmeade passed in something of a blur.
We passed by Apollyon Pringle, the old groundskeeper, and Hagrid, who
was his assistant, on the way.
“Hello, Hagrid; hello, Mr. Pringle,” Lily called.
waved distractedly, peering up into a tree full of bowtruckles, one
hand outstretched with a tempting gift of woodlice for them. Hagrid, on
the other hand, strode over to greet us.
“Mornin’, all,” he said. “Off ter Hogsmeade, then?”
“Yeah,” James said. “Will we be seeing you down there, Hagrid?”
“I reckon so, yeah, if we ever get these Bowtruckles out of this tree.”
“Why are you doing that, Hagrid?” I asked.
close to the school, Remus,” Hagrid replied. “Wouldn’t want one
dropping down on yeh while you’re doing yer homework, would yeh? No,
we’ll shove ‘em back in the Forest and then hopefully I can drop into
“Well, hopefully we’ll see you down there,” Lily said.
“Yeah, I- Oh!” Hagrid said, with a start of surprise. “Is it today, then?”
“What’s today?” Sirius asked as James and Mandy led us off.
“Saturday,” James replied shortly.
“That’s not what Hagrid meant, was it?” Sirius asked.
“Oh, who cares about Hagrid,” Stephanie trilled. “Siri, are you doing anything this evening?”
“I... I... Why?” Sirius asked.
“Well, I thought you might want to show me what you get up to on these expeditions you get up to.
“He, er...” Peter managed. My mind was completely blank. Vanessa had just reached over and looped her arm through mine.
“He doesn’t want you getting in trouble, Stephanie...” James supplied.
“Yeah!” Sirius exploded, shooting a grateful look at James.
“...unless it’s really worth it, anyway,” James added. “He can get up to mischief anytime of course...”
“Oh, I see...”
Stephanie beamed. “Well, Siri, you remember the rules, of course... But
thank you, James. Sweet Siri can be so shy at times. I keep telling
him, just say what you want to say, but,” and here she reached up and
pinched Sirius’ cheek, “he’s such a gentleman. Where do you want to go
then, Siri? The Come-and-Go Room?” she asked, with an outrageous waggle
of her eyebrows. “I’ll have to write to Mother first, of course, and
let her know that everything’s back on. She’ll be so pleased – a Black
in the family!”
Sirius looked like a stranded guppyfish. Fortunately for his sake, Peter rescued him, at least temporarily.
“Excuse me,” he said. “Best man discussion time.”
“Sweet Peter, Lily, he really is quite the catch...”
dragged Sirius to the back of the group as we continued onward. Sirius,
who had never looked so glad to see Peter in his life, was visibly
sweating at the thought of marrying Stephanie and her family. James,
meanwhile, appeared to be taking a malicious pleasure in seeing Sirius
“I feel the Butterbeer calling,” he announced. “Last one in buys the first round!”
trailed in last, and was immediately sent off to buy the drinks. He
recovered a little of his usual sparkle when flirting with Madam
Rosmerta, but as he came over to the table, his spirits seemed to sink
“Cheers!” James said, clinking bottles with
everyone in reach. He and Peter were flanking Lily, and the rest of us
were sat around the table, girl-boy-girl-boy-girl. Whether deliberately
or not, each of us men was cut off from his friends, and unable to help
the other as the girls dug into us.
“Lily tells me that you’re
quite the expert on astronomy,” Vanessa said, leaning in close to talk
to me. “You specialise in lunar phenomena I believe.”
said, feeling rather as though I’d drawn the long straw. I could
certainly bluff my way around the lunar chart, and Vanessa was
significantly less objectionable than the overpowering Stephanie or the
brooding Mandy, who was now glowering at a clearly petrified Peter.
“Would you like to come stargazing tonight?” Vanessa asked.
“I... would. But I have a, uh, prior commitment. Another night, perhaps?”
“Yes, perhaps,” she said, a touch coolly.
the other side of the table, James was listening in delight to
Stephanie’s plans for the Christmas holiday – an extravagant party to
welcome Sirius into the Peters family. We were all invited, of course.
so nice to have witnesses,” Stephanie was saying. “Last time, Siri was
very clever and I had no-one to defend my honour. But I forgive you,
Siri. I know a man has to sow his wild oats-“
“Now see here a minute!” Sirius erupted, but just then Lily returned to the table with the next round.
“Here you go, Moony,” she said, passing me a butterbeer. “Are you enjoying yourself so far?”
“Oh, er, well,” I managed.
“Remus says that he can’t come out tonight,” Vanessa told her.
“Oh, that’s a shame,” Lily said. “But you’re practising with the band tonight, aren’t you, Remus?”
I goggled at her.
“Oh, you didn’t want anyone to know, but Peter let it slip.”
I turned to look at Wormtail, who shrugged helplessly.
“You’ll have to play for us at some point.”
“Er, absolutely,” I said.
“Serenading us,” Stephanie cooed. “How wonderful! Tell me, what instrument does Sirius play?”
“Er, he, er... Triangle?”
“Drums!” Sirius squawked, indignantly.
“Oh, yeah, he’s our drummer.”
“How... manly...” Stephanie commented, in a very different tone of voice. “Tell me, are leather trousers involved in any way?”
As one, everyone who was taking a drink at that moment choked on their butterbeer.
day didn’t get any better. Peter was far too petrified to talk to Lily,
Sirius had given up all hope and was letting Stephanie work out his
ring finger measurement, while I was struggling to keep Vanessa’s
conversation away from the phases of the moon.
gained a reprieve. The girls rose as one to go to the toilet, and James
darted off to flirt with Rosmerta and possibly get us some drinks. As
one, Sirius and Peter shuffled around the bench so that they were sat
either side of me, so close that a casual observer might have thought
us to be the unfortunate victims of a badly cast Co-joining Hex.
“What are we going to do?” Sirius asked. “I can’t get married! I’m not marriage material!”
“And how am I meant to say no to Mandy?” Peter quavered. “She’s twice my size!”
least your first date won’t end with you turning into a werewolf and
ripping your date’s throat out,” I said, a touch tetchily.
“You’d never go out on a date with her on the full moon,” Sirius snapped. “Don’t even joke about it.”
“Yeah, besides, what’d we do for fun without you?” Peter asked. I rolled my eyes.
not really my pressing concern, Wormtail,” I said. “Vanessa is keen,
and too smart. She’d work out what’s wrong with me in a second, and
then where am I?”
“Not dating Mandy Peters?”
“There’s nothing wrong with Mandy Peters,” Sirius said.
“You date her, then.”
“I don’t think Stephanie would appreciate me taking a mistress so early in our relationship.”
is ridiculous,” I said. “We’re adults. We can’t be forced into any of
this. We’ll just each have to explain to the girls when they return
that it’s not on.”
“You first,” Peter and Sirius said in unison.
“You three look cosy,” James said, arriving back at the table empty-handed.
“Prongs, who told the girls that we like them?” Sirius asked.
did,” he replied. “As I understand it, you suggested that they all come
along today, on Wormtail’s big date with Evans, remember?”
turned to glare at Peter and I. Peter sagged, as though trying to slide
under the table. I, however, sat as though frozen.
Harry jumped. Ginny stood behind him, one hand over her mouth. Almost everyone was with us now.
I looked at her, and could see her eyes sparkling in the fading light.
I nodded solemnly.
“’Fiendish’, was what we settled on,” I said, mildly. Tonks caught my eye, and smiled.
“What are you talking about?” Ron asked.
I smiled. “Well...”
“You...” I said, raising a finger to point at James.
“Me?” he asked.
“You set us up,” I said, barely daring to hope.
“You set yourselves up,” James replied, pulling a butterbeer from nowhere and taking a long draft.
James asked, leaning back in his chair and draping one arm over the
backrest. He raised his bottle in a silent salute. “I suppose I am.”
set us up?” Sirius asked. Peter was still silent, staring at James with
both shock and hope on his face. Sirius and, I imagine, myself looked
much the same.
“You bastard!” Sirius announced, drawing
surprised looks from a few of the other students in the pub. “You put
me through all this!”
“No, I didn’t. Not really, Padfoot,” James said, looking rather pleased with himself.
“What are you talking about?”
“Well, that Evans girl... She’s a smart one.”
“What?” I asked.
Remus... You see, you made the mistake of making a plan on weak
foundations – I thought that I’d taught you better than that. I feel as
though I’m to blame, in a way...”
“Prongs, tell us what in the
name of Merlin you’re going on about or I swear that tonight you’re
getting a bite out of your arse,” Sirius said.
“Better not let your fiancée hear you say that,” James grinned.
“James,” Peter said, at last.
“Is Mandy really in love with me?”
“Good heavens no, Wormtail. She’s got a boyfriend at Beauxbatons, but she’s a good sport.”
Peter said. “I don’t have to tell Mandy that there could be nothing
between us. Breaking the heart of someone who can break every bit of
you in return is not something I wanted to try. You know me – I don’t
“Wimp,” Sirius sighed. He sat forward in his chair,
propping his chin in his hands before asking, almost carelessly, “I
don’t suppose that Stephanie...?“
“You’re still a bachelor,”
James smirked. Sirius bounced up from his chair, instantly revitalised,
and let out a whoop before dropping back down in his seat and grinning
“Wormtail, I take it all back. I’d willingly snog Prongs right now.”
admit that we stitched you up, and we’ll call it even,” James said.
“You’ve had too much to drink for me to take that sort of talk lightly.”
“OK, Prongs, let us bask in your glory,” Sirius said, dropping bonelessly against the back of the seat.
“It wouldn’t be fair for me to start without the girls,” James said. “Ah. And by happy chance, here they are.”
The girls were coming back, giggling in that manner of teenage girls the world over.
was on the verge of tears,” James said, draining the last of his
bottle. Sirius looked to be about to reply angrily, but froze in his
seat. I glanced down, saw where Stephanie’s hand was, and looked
straight back up again.
“Never mind, Siri,” she said. “We can still have some fun. No strings attached, this time...”
Sirius struggled to keep the grin from his face. I turned hastily away.
you said something about laying our plan on shaky foundations?” I
asked, eager to put distance between myself and what I’d just seen.
“Oh yes, you see, you have Evans here to thank for today’s fun,” James said. “Do you want to tell it, or shall I?”
“I’ll let you,” Lily said, smiling at the three of us. “You’re the only one who knows both sides, after all.”
“True,” James said. “My greatest triumph – in every way.”
all began (James told us) with Peter’s discovery that Pandora Parkinson
has a boyfriend. I went after him and smoothed matters over with him.
In fact, Pandora’s single again now, so you might have a chance yet,
Anyway, Evans here came looking for us to apologise
to Peter. The apology was offered and accepted, and everything was
fine. Peter walked off to try and fall in love with someone else, and I
sat by the Parkinson’s lake, enjoying a rare moment of silence.
“You could be nicer, you know.”
turned and looked at Evans, surprised that she was still there. I
gestured for her to sit down, and was surprised again when she did.
“You could be less strict,” I said.
“I’m not strict.”
“Not much! You’re always stopping us having fun.”
“Only when it’s against school rules, James.”
“That’s the best sort of fun!” I protested. Frankly, I could see this becoming another big row.
cost Gryffindor hundreds of points a year between the four of you,” she
sighed. “Okay, fine, so you all win a lot between you, but think how
well we’d do in the House Championship if you just behaved a bit?”
“Who cares about the House Championship?”
“I do! So do lots of people.”
“Oh, come on,” I protested. “It’s just an excuse for one house to brag over the others. What’s the point?”
“I...” she tailed off. “It’s nice to have something to aim for.”
you have to wait all year for it, right? Well, the four of us can have
something to look forward to any time, day or night.”
“But it’s selfish! So many people care about doing well, but you’re just messing around.”
“But we get all those points anyway. Weird that, isn’t it?”
“Ugh! You’re impossible!”
are you!” I snapped. “You’re, you’re... You’re a wet blanket, Evans!
Sometimes I think that you’ll actually crack a smile, and then you turn
around and take points off me for something that hurts no-one!”
“Like... Like that time you caught Remus and me coming out of the Prefect’s bathroom. We weren’t doing anything wrong!”
“You had two girls with you!”
“But nothing happened!”
“Oh, James, listen to yourself!”
I’m serious! We needed them to chase Moaning Myrtle out of the taps!
Peter gave up baths for a month because she freaked him out so much –
it was really starting to smell. We needed four people to do the spell
properly, and Jessica and Penny were the first people we met who could
“I... James, you have to admit that it sounds like a load of rubbish.”
“Yeah, but all you had to do was ask, for heaven’s sake. You just assumed the worst!”
“Have you ever given me reason not to?” she asked.
“I...” I stopped, suddenly aware that I hadn’t.
“I’m sorry about Peter,” Lily said, standing up.
“What? Oh, he’ll be fine. He’s like a jigsaw puzzle – not that hard to put everything back together again.”
“That’s good, I suppose. Are you coming back to the party?”
“Yeah, yeah, in a minute.”
“Well, okay. See you, then.”
I nodded absently.
had rather a lot to think about. I’d spent a long time thinking about
Evans, and why I couldn’t charm her the way that I could almost
everyone else, and yet the answer had been in front of me all the time
– I was a prat.
I didn’t pay much attention to anything over
the next few weeks, and my quest to escape pratdom didn’t start well
when I messed up my Head Boy duties at the start of term. I was about
to despair of everything when Evans found me alone in the Library one
“Working hard?” she asked.
I nodded, hoping to
convey that I was far too busy to talk to anyone, but it was only
History of Magic so no-one was going to be convinced by that.
“I’ve just spoken to Remus.”
“I thought that you said that Peter was okay with what happened at Pandora’s party?”
“He is- Oh, they want you to go on a date with him, don’t they? They said something about it.”
“A date with Peter, yes. And them. And you.”
“Remus said that the three of you would be coming with us. For moral support.”
“It’s the first that I’ve heard of it.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah,” I said. “I’ve been a bit busy lately.”
“I did notice the, well, silence in class.”
I smiled, a little self-consciously.
“Am I being set up?” she asked.
“Probably,” I said. “Wish that I could help, but they haven’t-“
“They haven’t told me anything,” I said, scratching my head.
“So? You said yourself that you’ve been busy.”
“Yeah, but Sirius wouldn’t let that stop him. You said that all four of us are coming with you?”
“Yes,” she said, her eyes glittering.
“-setting us up,” Evans finished.
sods,” I said, leaning back in my chair. I raised one hand to run it
through my hair but, catching Evans’ eye, I let it drop back down by my
“Well, you can’t fault their loyalty,” Evans smiled.
“No, but I told them that-“ I said, before slamming my mouth shut.
“Nothing,” I said, well aware that I was blushing.
“Well, are we going to let them get away with it?” Evans asked.
“Well, you’re always saying that I should lighten up, James,” she said.
“Yeah, but... You really want to pull a prank on the others?”
“If you’ll help me, yes.”
She smiled again, and I gave up.
“What did you have in mind?”
“So, you set us up?” Sirius asked.
“I think we’ve established that,” James said, rolling his eyes.
“And you two are talking now?” I asked. Lily nodded.
“Yeah, I’m working my fingers to the bone to get good marks, and Evans here has pulled a prank. Will wonders never cease?”
“Just one prank?” I asked.
“Just one,” Lily replied. “But it was a good one.”
“It was,” I allowed. “But a bit harsh, don’t you think?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, we’re really just followers. I mean, we wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for James.”
“I mean, you have to take your share of the blame, Prongs,” I shrugged. “We were really just trying to help you out-“
“Remus, I’m warning you-“
got a point,” Sirius said, a shrewd look on his face. “I mean, we were
following in your footsteps. You can hardly be held blameless.”
say that it’s time you got your just desserts,” Sirius nodded. “And
since Evans here is the one who’s apparently taking over as the supreme
“It was just one prank!”
“-I think that she deserves a bit of payback as well.”
“What?” Lily and James said together.
Beside me, Peter grinned. Wickedly.
Sirius, on the other side of me, rubbed his hands together.
I smiled too, knowing that James and Lily had played into our hands – albeit not in a way we had anticipated.
“The four of us have a rule,” I said. “We don’t prank each other – otherwise we’d never get anything done.”
Sirius nodded. “That’s right. There’s a punishment if we do.”
grinned. “Whoever starts the prank has to accept the punishment handed
out by those affected. I usually make Sirius or James clean our
“...but I think we can be more creative than that,” Sirius said.
I looked at the other girls. They seemed to be hanging on our every word.
Lily, as the prankster-in-chief, and as you’ve roped young Prongs into
assisting you, I’m afraid you fall under the jurisdiction of the rule.
It’s nothing personal-“
“-but we want you to take us out on a date-“
“-just the four of us. Me, you, Peter and Remus.”
“La Belle Diablo is nice,” I said, absolutely deadpan.
“Oh no,” James said, finally recovering his composure. “If Evans is going on a date with anyone at this table... Ev- Lily?”
Lily said, turning reluctantly away from us, as though she were slowly
planning a form of revenge that would last beyond the limits of our
“Can we go somewhere? Now? Without the peanut gallery here?”
Peter conjured a bag of peanuts and we began to throw them at James.
“Yes,” Lily said. “I’d like that.”
us – or possibly just oblivious – they stood and James reached out to
take Lily’s hand. He led her from the pub, and that was the last we saw
of them for the rest of the day.
Sirius sat back with a contented sigh.
“About time,” he said. “Mind you, good joke, girls.” Mandy, Vanessa and Stephanie smiled.
was all Lily’s idea,” Vanessa said. “But it was fun to see things from
your side of the fence for once. I think I’ll stick to astronomy from
now on, though.”
“You do that,” Stephanie said. “But let me know when the Tower’s free, won’t you? I have plans for it. Soon.”
Sirius and I exchanged a knowing look.
“Peter?” Mandy asked.
over there,” she said, pointing to the bar where the Ravenclaw girl
stood, looking lonely. “Shall we go and say hello?”
Peter hesitated, looking to myself and Sirius.
“Look at it this way, Wormtail, what have you got to lose?” Sirius asked.
“It’s written in the stars,” I added. “Even if it all goes wrong, you might end up helping Hagrid find true love next time.”
Peter smiled and stood up.
“See you later. Maybe.”
He and Mandy strolled off together.
“And then there were four,” Sirius said.
“Two,” Stephanie said, firmly. Standing up, she grabbed Sirius’ arm and dragged him to his feet.
“We’ll see you-“
“Later,” Stephanie said. Very firmly. And with that, they were gone.
Vanessa turned to me with a small smile.
“So, Remus,” she said. “Can I tempt you to join me on the Astronomy Tower tonight?”
Harry smiled as he sat back.
“So my mum learnt to have a bit of fun-“
“-and your dad learnt to be a bit more responsible. Yes. It didn’t take much.”
“Were they happy together?”
much so,” I said. “Even when they argued, well, a lot of it was arguing
for the sake of arguing, seeing whether they could overturn each
other’s opinions and then, five minutes later, arguing about something
else just to enjoy the argument. Yes, they were happy.”
“Good,” Harry said, with a small sigh. “Thanks.”
“I enjoyed telling the story,” I said. “It’s good to remember the old days sometimes.”