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New Fic: Serenade

Serenade
Fandom: Harry Potter
Rated: PG-13
Category: Remus Lupin/Sirius Black Friendship, Humor.
Word Count: 4146
Spoilers: Nothing specific. Occurs within OotP.
Summary: They say that the sound of a howl is forlorn and lonely, but beautiful…
Disclaimer: Accio, Copyrights! Oh, darn. Wand backfired. Well, it was worth a shot.

---

Remus Lupin didn’t often drink.

He really wasn’t much for the whole lack of control thing.

He had quite enough of that with every full moon.

Still, he imbibed on occasion. He toasted when the second Order of the Phoenix raised a glass to victory. He had a pint with Sirius on long, cold nights. But he was careful - oh so very careful. He usually allowed himself only one drink. Sometimes, he’d reach for two, and very rarely three, but certainly never more.

The members of the Order were glad of this. Most of them assumed Remus was a despondent drunk. A quiet, introspective, melancholy drunk. A drunk with more problems to wash away than most of them could fathom. In other words, they were happy Remus didn’t drink a lot because they really didn’t want to baby-sit him through bouts of too-thoughtful depression. They had more than enough of that from him when he was sober, and they thought it would only worsen if he ever got truly drunk, so they appreciated his restraint with the spirits. Remus did nothing to change this impression. In fact, he rather cultivated it. He enjoyed being the resident untouchable academic quite a lot, and when he did drink his modicums of alcohol, he brooded and glowered with the best of them to keep up appearances. And he was good, too - nearly everyone bought the serious scholar with issues routine.

But Sirius Black knew better.

Sirius Black remembered Remus Lupin before he became a martyr by his own hand.

And tonight, Sirius Black noticed the devilish spark that sprang to quiet life in his friend’s eye when he downed his rare third drink of the night. He tossed back a third of his own and caught Remus with a mischievous grin on his face that was quickly suppressed.

Sirius grinned back.

Remus looked away.

Sirius sighed, and memories of times long gone came unbidden.

He remembered when Remus got sick from too much Muggle wine.

He remembered when James tried to brew Muggle beer himself and failed miserably until Remus stepped in to help out of compassion.

But mostly, he remembered how Remus had been when he was younger. Remus had always been far too serious for his own good, but in school he’d occasionally allowed himself true joy. At the moment, the memories filling Sirius’ head were alcohol-related, but that was only due to tonight’s specific circumstances. Though there were countless other times Sirius could recall where Remus J. Lupin was actually happy as a younger man, it was so rare to see Moony imbibe three drinks in one night that other times when he’d shown considerably less restraint kept coming to mind.

Sirius remembered Remus’ laugh bounding around their dorm after the Marauders had split a Muggle case of beer. He remembered smiles on the face that now seemed etched into a permanent scowl. There had been a lot of them. Smiles, that is. Smiles and laughs and even giggles from the same man who now could barely muster a grin.

And suddenly Sirius wanted more laughter. He wanted smiles and songs and fun, like it used to be.

Like it had been when Remus and James got a hold of some firewhiskey in sixth year, and all four Marauders got their very first hangovers. Sirius groaned at the thought of James and pain much worse than that wretched alcohol’s payback hit him hard in the chest.

James was dead.

Because of Peter.

Sirius sighed. His happy flight of fantasy back to happier days was over. He was back in the present, where he was a prisoner in his own house and the members of the Order were breaking up and going their own ways as their meeting (also known as the only social time he ever got) adjourned.

Suddenly, a laugh sounded from outside the kitchen door.

It was James’ laugh. Right out there in the hallway. Sirius was sure of it.

A moment later, Harry Potter bounded into the room, with Hermione hot on his heels.

The boy was holding up something Sirius recognized as an “MP3 player.” He wasn’t exactly sure what the devices were used for, but while Ron was as clueless as he was, both Harry and Hermione held them in high esteem. The one Harry now had was hot pink and somehow Sirius didn’t think it was his. Hermione’s angry screech confirmed this a moment later.

“Harry James Potter, you give that back right this instant!”

“Or what?” teased Harry.

“Or I’ll hex you into next week, that’s what!”

“You do that, and I’ll tell Ron you’ve got nothing but Britney Spears on here!”

“I’ll have you know that it’s mostly classic rock! Besides, he wouldn’t even know who that is, Harry!”

Sirius thought Hermione had a point, but Harry apparently didn’t care. He dashed around the table, out of the room, and up the stairs without answering. Hermione flew after him. Neither teen offered a word to Sirius or the few remaining Order members present, which was a testament to how intense their quarrel was. If any of the adults thought the pair too old to be acting that way, they didn’t comment.

The only response at all was a quiet chuckle from Remus.

He was standing behind his chair and pulling on his cloak as the last of the other Order members departed.

“What’s so funny?” asked Sirius.

Remus nodded his head in the direction Harry and Hermione had gone. “Those two. Oh, to be so young.”

Sirius snorted. “No doubt.”

Silence fell for a moment as Remus continued getting his things together. He brought more with him to meetings than half the Order put together. As he was stuffing the last of his papers into his briefcase, Sirius spoke again.

“Where you off to, anyway?”

“Hogsmeade.”

“Why?”

“You don’t want to know.”

“You’re probably right,” said Sirius. “But humor me. What’re you up to?”

Remus blinked and his eyebrows rose a bit. “What am I up to?”

Sirius blinked back. “Oh, don’t hand me that innocent professor look, Moony. I can tell you’ve got an agenda.”

“An agenda?”

“Yes. An agenda. Unless you’re going out at ten at night just for a lark? That must be it. After all, that’s so very in character for you.”

“Shut up, Sirius.”

“Spill it.”

“Trust me. You really don’t want to know.”

“Remus…” Sirius poured then sipped his fourth drink.

“Alright, fine! I’m meeting Rosmerta.”

Sirius spewed firewhiskey across the room from both nostrils.

“Moony, you dog! You’re meeting Madam Rosmerta under cover of darkness? Whatever could you be up to?” Sirius waggled his eyebrows at Remus suggestively.

Remus made shushing gestures. “Sh! It’s not like that! Now shut it before you tell the whole house!”

“Oh! Embarrassed of your little interlude, are you? Trying to keep it quiet for the sake of appearances? Don’t want me to tell the whole house, eh?” Sirius grew louder with each question, and Remus grew more flustered.

“Would you shut up?” hissed Remus. “I told you. It’s not like that.”

Sirius ignored him and kept right on questioning. “What are you ashamed of, Remus? You’re a grown man. You’ve got needs the same as any of us. And Rosmerta, well, she’s not exactly in her prime, but she’s sure a catch. Why, bragging rights alone are something to crow about there!” Sirius seemed to really be enjoying himself with this line of conversation. He was like a teenager again, and torturing his friend about a girl seemed to be great fun. “I mean, every boy in our class wanted to get her into bed, and here you are, Remus Lupin, an actual werewolf, finally managing it. I should be congratulating you.”

Remus groaned. “Are you quite done?” he asked.

Sirius shook his head. “Not even close.”

“What else could you possibly say?” asked Remus, clearly mortified.

“Well,” mused Sirius, “see, there is one more thing.”

Remus sighed, resigning himself to his fate as Sirius’ entertainment for the night. “And that would be?”

Suddenly, all trace of mirth disappeared from Sirius. He leaned back in his chair and froze, as if he’d turned to stone or ice in an instant. Remus’ expression changed, too. Instead of resigned indignation, his face wore a look of wary curiosity.

“Sirius?” he prompted.

Sirius stared Remus down with eyes so cold Remus actually might have shivered if he hadn’t faced them a hundred times before as a boy. Finally, after what seemed like forever, Sirius spoke slowly.

“Oh, it’s nothing, I suppose,” said Sirius flatly. “There’s just the little matter of my cousin to consider.”

Remus’ eyes widened for a split second, then narrowed in anger.

“Merlin’s beard, Sirius! Not that again! I’ve told you! There’s nothing going on!”

“Does she know that?”

Remus sighed. “I… look… it doesn’t matter! The thing with Rosmerta isn’t what you think!”

Sirius lifted his eyebrows. “Oh?”

“No,” said Remus. “It’s not that. Not that at all. It’s… well… I was going to see her about a book.”

Sirius blinked three times. “A book?”

“Yes, a book, Sirius. You know, with pages? People read them?”

“Smartass.”

“Well, someone’s got to be.”

“Very funny. But don’t change the subject. A book? Really?”

“Yes,” admitted Remus. “A book. Rosmerta has a customer who deals in rare and antique books. She knows I’ve been looking for a first edition of The Lycan’s Curse for ages and we think she’s managed to get a hold of one. She has it on loan from the dealer right now, and I told her I’d pop by to inspect it later.”

Sirius blinked several more times, then burst out laughing.

After a moment, Remus joined him. He realized how ridiculous it would seem to most to be meeting beautiful barkeeps in the dead of night to look at old books, and he couldn’t help but chuckle.

When Sirius could talk, he slapped Remus on the back. “That’s my man! Professor Lupin through and through! Off to a clandestine book swap!”

Remus shrugged. “Can’t help it, mate.”

Sirius let go of Remus’ shoulder and shooed him out the door. “Well, better be off then.”

“Oh, no worries. You know she doesn’t close up until two, so I’ve still got plenty of time. Besides, it doesn’t have to be tonight. I told her I had business tonight and that I’d make it if I could but that it might be a day or two. I wasn’t sure when the meeting would finish up. Besides, the dealer isn’t due back until next week, so I can pop by whenever, really.”

“In that case, why don’t you stay for another drink?” asked Sirius. He really was enjoying Remus’ company, and he didn’t want it to end.

Remus looked uncomfortable. “Oh, I don’t know… I probably should get going… and…”

“Oh, come on, Remus! Just one drink.”

Remus eyed the bottle of firewhiskey on the table. The tiniest glimmer came into his eyes. It was mischief, not desire, and Sirius noticed.

“It’ll be just like old times,” he said, seeing ghosts of joy in his friend’s eyes like he had earlier.

Remus started to shake his head, but then he met Sirius’ eyes and he understood the man’s real request. Sirius wasn’t asking for his old friend to have one drink with him. He was asking for company. He was asking for a slice of normalcy in a life filled with anything but. He was asking for a reason to stay downstairs and not lock himself in with Buckbeak for the night.

And Remus couldn’t help but oblige.

“Alright. One drink.”

Sirius grinned and poured a generous helping of firewhiskey into a second glass.

“Now we’re talking,” he said, as Remus discarded his robes and briefcase and sat back down with a sigh. He shook his head in mock disapproval at Sirius.

“What am I going to do with you?” he asked.

“Get me drunk out of my mind, toss me into the street, and leave me to the tender mercies of the Dementors?”

Remus snorted. “Don’t tempt me.”

Sirius laughed and slid Remus’ glass across the table to his waiting hand. Remus caught it deftly and sipped his whiskey slowly. Sirius raised his glass in a toast before Remus could take a second sip.

“To James,” he said gravely.

Remus nodded respectfully. “And Lily,” he added.

The two men clinked glasses and drank.

The somber toast seemed to put both men into a quiet mood, but it didn’t last long. After only a second, Remus grinned. Sirius was glad to see it. It meant his plan was working and that he was probably in for one hell of a night, which pleased him immensely. After all, he knew that Remus Lupin, Mister Serious Professor of the millennia, had a secret. One he truly preferred to keep that way. One that Sirius was bound and determined to let out for the night. Sirius knew from experience that Remus had never been able to keep a straight face while drinking. Ever. He was the happiest, goofiest drunk Sirius knew, which was all the more enjoyable to watch because no one in their right mind would expect that of Remus.

“Speaking of James,” said Remus, “do you remember that time when he and I tricked you into thinking you had actual divination powers?”

Sirius groaned. “Don’t remind me.”

Remus laughed out loud as he drank more whiskey. “And you were convinced you could divine which girl liked you best? And you went after Violet Underwood, of all people?”

Remus slapped his hand on the table and laughed harder while Sirius put his head in his hands.

“I remember she slapped me stupid.”

“Well, you deserved it after the way you waltzed up to her and informed her oh so casually that the two of you were getting married after graduation!”

“Which I would have never done if you and James hadn’t acted like I could read your minds for two weeks!”

“Serves you right for believing us!”

“Still, if anyone deserved slapping, it was you two!”

“Oh, please, like you didn’t have it coming!”

Sirius considered this for a moment, then nodded. “Fair point.”

Remus gaped at Sirius for a moment, amazed he’d given in so easily. But then a wicked grin slid across Sirius’ face and he knew something more was coming. He only had to wait a moment for the expected comeback.

“You know,” mused Sirius, “speaking of violet… Tonks has taken to that over pink a bit lately. What’s up with that, I wonder?”

Remus shrugged. “Maybe you should ask her.”

“I’m asking you.”

“Oh, Sirius, lay off it, will you? I told you before, there’s nothing going on there!”

Sirius assumed his best innocent look and took advantage of Remus’ blustering to refill both glasses. “Did I say there was?”

“You implied it.” Remus drank without thinking.

“I did nothing of the sort,” said Sirius, also taking another swig.

“You did.”

Sirius hiccoughed. “No, I implied you were shagging Rosmerta, not Tonks.”

Remus jumped up from his seat. “Oh, for Merlin’s sake, Sirius! I am not shagging either one of them!”

At that moment, a loud clatter filled the room. Both Sirius and Remus looked toward it and discovered Harry and Hermione in the doorway. Apparently their fight from earlier was far from over. Harry had obviously come bursting through the door just in time to hear Remus’ outburst and it had startled him enough that he skidded to a halt and dropped the pink MP3 player on the floor. Hermione was only just now colliding with his back as she struggled to stop, as well.

Both teens froze in shock at hearing their former professor’s tantrum. Their eyes nearly popped out of their sockets and their mouths hung open. It seemed like forever before anyone moved. Finally, Hermione came to her senses. She gently tugged Harry’s shoulders backward without a word until both teens had cleared the doorway and were out of the room. The MP3 player was left abandoned, forgotten in the wake of this new development. As soon as the door shut behind them, a fit of giggles broke out in the hallway. If Sirius had wanted laugher, he had it now - much to Remus’ embarrassment.

Remus deflated as the giggles raced up the stairs, with stomping footsteps to match. He flopped into his chair and put his head in his hands.

“I’m never going to live that down.”

Sirius barked a laugh and clapped him on the back. “Never in a million years.”

“I hate you.”

Sirius’ only reply was to laugh more and refill the glasses again. Remus was past the point of noticing, and Sirius was having far too much fun to let his old friend turn in now.

Remus looked up suddenly after a moment with a gleam in his eye Sirius hadn’t seen since their Marauder days. He met Sirius’ eye for a second, then grinned maniacally.

“You know what we should do?” he asked.

Sirius shook his head.

Remus nodded toward the MP3 player still on the floor.

“We should see what Hermione really has on there.”

“Why?”

“Because I’ll need something to keep her quiet with, that’s why!”

“It’s so too late for that, friend. Besides, we won’t know what to look for anyway.”

“You might not, but unlike some people, I try to keep up with Muggle trends.”

Sirius put on his best offended gentleman airs. “Oh, well, forgive me for not being in the know, old chap, but I have been locked in this house for months and before that I was, let’s see…in prison!”

“That’s no excuse. You could get the paper or something.”

“Shut up, Remus.”

“You shut up!”

“No, you shut up!”

“I’m listening to that music, Sirius!”

“Fine! See if I care!”

“Fine!”

“Remus?”

“Yeah?”

“What are we arguing about?”

Remus shrugged and burst out laughing. Sirius joined him. They laughed for several minutes. When he could talk, Remus finally mustered a breathless “beats me.”

That set both men to laughing again.

Their giggles died down faster this time and when they were done, Remus pointed his wand sloppily toward the door as Sirius took a swig of firewhiskey directly from the bottle - he and Remus had recently given up on their glasses altogether.

“Accio Hermione’s MP3 player,” slurred Remus.

Somehow, the winds of magic were blowing his way, because the little device followed his wishes. It lifted off the floor and floated to Remus’ waiting hand. Remus smiled at Sirius.

“See? Meant to be, then.”

“Well, have a look, maestro. Let’s hope it’s not broken.”

Remus turned the device over in his hands a few times and looked at it quizzically.

“You do know how to work it, don’t you?”

“Of course.”

“Well?” prompted Sirius.

“Just give me a minute!”

Remus managed to find the on switch and the device proved it was still among the living. Its tiny screen lit up and showed song titles in black and white. Amazingly enough, Remus actually recognized some of them!

He punched Sirius in the arm.

“Padfoot! Look at this!”

“What?” Sirius scooted his chair closer to Remus’ and looked over his shoulder at the little screen.

“We know these!”

“Holy Dumbledore on a stick! We do!”

Remus shot his friend an odd look. “What did you just say?”

Sirius shrugged. “Nothing. Something one of the kids said. Forget it. But you’re right! We know these! Show some more! Show some more!”

After a moment, Remus figured out how to scroll through the titles. He and Sirius were shocked to realize how many of Hermione’s songs they knew.

“This girl’s got taste!” yelled Sirius.

“No doubt!” agreed Remus.

“I mean, if we know these songs, it’s because Lily liked ‘em, and Lily was one cool cat, Muggle-born or not!”

“Oh, yeah! Look at this one, Sirius! Remember she made us learn it for her and James’ wedding?”

“Oh, yeah! So we could dance to it.”

Remus kept scrolling. Every five or six songs, he’d whoop or Sirius would holler and the two of them spent an hour reliving memories of songs Lily Evans had introduced to her wizarding friends over their years at Hogwart’s.

They laughed and cried and had a grand time. Before either of them knew it, the early morning hours had come and the firewhiskey had gone. When the bottle ran dry, Remus eyed it sadly.

“Oh, Sirius, I’m sorry.”

“For what?”

“I was only supposed to stay for one drink.”

Sirius grinned. “My fault. Never specified the size.”

Remus chuckled at his friend’s response.

“I could get us another bottle,” Sirius offered.

“Uh…” Remus couldn’t seem to decide if that was a good idea or not.

“Or I could just make some tea.”

Remus nodded. “Tea sounds fine.”

Ten minutes later, Sirius set a cup of tea down in front of Remus, then took his seat with his own mug in hand. As he did, Remus let out a gasp.

“Merlin’s beard!” yelled Remus.

“What?”

Remus pointed at the MP3 player excitedly. “Look! Look!”

Sirius bent to see what had Remus so excited.

When he did, he lit up like a Christmas tree. “Oh! Wow! That’s crazy!“

“I know, right?“ agreed Remus. “I remember when Lily first played it for me. She was all scared I’d be offended.”

“But you just laughed and laughed.”

“We all did.”

“Of course, we were all three sheets to the wind.”

Remus shrugged. “Yeah, well…”

“And then at their wedding! At the reception! Remember?”

“Oh, yeah! James made them play it and we all sang it together!”

“It’s too bad we can’t listen to it!”

Remus knit his brows. “Why can’t we?”

“How you gonna hear it, hotshot? There’s no thingies.”

“Headphones, Sirius. Headphones. And haven’t you ever heard of an amplifying spell? Geez! Why didn’t I think of that earlier?”

“Cuz you’re really drunk?”

“Shut up, Sirius.”

Sirius gave a mock salute. “Aye, captain.”

Remus concentrated on the MP3 player and pointed his wand at it.

“Just stay back. Merlin knows I wouldn’t want to make you any louder.”

Sirius nodded soberly, though he was far from sober.

Remus muttered an incantation under his breath. A second later, music burst forth from the device.

Upstairs, Hermione Granger woke with a start, sighed, grabbed her wand, sent a silencing spell through her floor to the kitchen below fast enough that even Mrs. Black didn’t start complaining, then promptly fell back asleep. Neither Ron nor Harry moved a muscle in their room across the hall, though when they woke the next day they’d wonder what Trader Vic’s was, who Lon Chaney was, and why they needed a tailor. Harry would also worry about his lungs, while Ron would wonder if his grandmother was alright. And while Hermione would know exactly why these things were on their minds, she’d never offer a word of explanation. She’d merely collect her music player from the kitchen and use a leviosa charm to put the grown men in the house to bed long before the boys arose. And though she wouldn’t say a word to them either, she would file every detail away in her mind for possible later use.

But for now, she and the boys slept on while back in the kitchen Sirius Black mussed his best friend’s hair and declared it “perfect.” That earned him a smack and a mock ferocious face from Remus Lupin, who quickly reminded Sirius that he certainly could “draw blood” if he wanted to as the music he’d made died away. His threat was made less scary, however, when the song ended and both men collapsed into giggling piles of alcoholic goo for a full five minutes. When they regained the ability to speak, Remus raised his eyebrows at Sirius.

“Wanna hear it again?”

Sirius nodded with the exaggerated vigor of the inebriated. Remus laughed, then turned his wand on Hermione’s player again.

Immediately, an encore filled the room. As the opening notes of their new favorite rediscovered song began to play, both Remus and Sirius somehow managed to spare a thought to the pain this night would likely cause them in the morning, but they quickly dismissed it. Tomorrow, they’d nearly kill Fred and George Weasley for a prank they’d usually tolerate with a smile, then eventually stow their sorrows and get back to work, but for now…

For now, two men who were uniquely suited to it threw their heads back and howled into the London night once again.

It was really a pity that no one heard them, for many say that the sound of a howl is forlorn and lonely, but beautiful. Turns out that first part is only sometimes true. The second, though, is always right.

---

A/N: You’re really going to make me do it, aren’t you, conscience? Ok, fine.

For the young ones or those who otherwise don’t know the song to which this story refers…sigh…sorry. I couldn’t help myself. Blame my iPhone and the shuffle feature. Anyway, this should help.

Warren Zevon : Werewolves of London

I saw a werewolf with a Chinese menu in his hand
walkin through the streets of Soho in the rain.
He was lookin for the place called Lee Ho Fooks,
gonna get a big dish of beef chow mein.

Chorus:
Aaahoo, werewolves of London!
Aaahoo!
Aaahoo, werewolves of London!
Aaahoo!

Ya hear him howlin around your kitchen door,
ya better not let him in.
Little old lady got mutilated late last night.
Werewolves of London again.

Chorus

He's the hairy-handed gent who ran amok in Kent.
Lately he's been overheard in Mayfair.
You better stay away from him, he'll rip your lungs out, Jim.
Huh, I'd like to meet his tailor.

Chorus

Well, I saw Lon Chaney walkin with the queen,
doing the werewolves of London.
I saw Lon Chaney Jr. walkin with the queen,
doin the werewolves of London.
I saw a werewolf drinkin a pina colada at Trader Vic's
And his hair was perfect.

Ahhhooooo, werewolve
s of London!
Draw blood!

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
lemonpiefirefly
Sep. 20th, 2009 05:42 pm (UTC)
I die at that 'his hair was perfect' line every single time I hear it.
Nice moment!
jackwabbit
Sep. 20th, 2009 05:55 pm (UTC)
Yeah, this fic was pretty much crack, but it was fun.

I'm just excited to get 4K out again! NaNo is coming! (I'm not sure I'm doing it, but I do have a few ideas, and...got to learn to write many words again, dang it!)
lemonpiefirefly
Oct. 20th, 2009 07:02 pm (UTC)
yeah, I just don't have any ideas. Don't have that many words that need to come out.

I was recently in the car with Glen and I was all excited since we were listening to a station that plays more old songs than new that when the opening strains of Werewolves played, that it WOULDN'T be the damn Kid Rock one that just stole the music (and Sweet Home Alabama in the middle).

Unfortunately, the damn Kid Rock one it was. I began expounding on my annoyance of this. Glen quietly typed in the song to You Tube on his Phone of i and the REAL one started playing.

Yay for Glen!
Yay for (about the only listenable) Zevon song!
jackwabbit
Oct. 21st, 2009 02:56 pm (UTC)
I know not the Kid Rock thing of which you speak.

I am not sad about this. Goodie on Glen, though, all the same. Ain't phones of I grand?

And indeed about Zevon. One fucked up individual, that.

As for words, we shall see. Still haven't decided.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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