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Happy birthday, Professor Lupin... another year... - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Happy birthday, Professor Lupin... another year...
Sorry I'm so late; came home and had a long conversation with the roommie. 'Tis good.

This won by a fairly significant margin in the poll, which is cool. So, Remus and the Marauders. March 10, second year.

Remus stopped as soon as he got to the dormitory door, one foot caught halfway through a step.

It was quiet.

Too quiet.

He raised his wand and cast a detection spell--he'd learned by November of his first year to be suspicious when James Potter wasn't immediately visible--but it didn't pick anything up.

"Odd," he muttered to himself, and decided that they must have decided to go to the library or whatnot after dinner while he saw Madam Pomfrey about the latest course of potions Mum wanted him to try. They'd probably left a note on his bookshelves.

Madam Pomfrey had also had a package from Mum and Dad--a handful of used books, and a birthday card Dad had drawn, but he had all of it well-hidden in his satchel for now. The last thing he needed was--

His foot fell on the floorboards, and trumpets rang out, echoing through Gryffindor Tower like heralds of medieval royalty. From the third year dormitory downstairs, he heard laughter, and the door crashed open. The others came thundering up the stairs--James in the lead, Sirius a step behind, Petter puffing away in the rear. The third year boys were rolling their eyes from the bottom of hte stairs.

"We've got sweets," James called over his shoulder. "Come down if you've a mind to."

One of them flapped his hand in a good natured way.

"Thanks for the sanctuary!" Peter called to them as the door shut.

The trumpets were still blaring when James and Sirius grabbed Remus by the elbows and started to frog-march him down the stairs.

"Oh, please!" Remus said, but he could feel laughter bubbling up already.

By the time they got to the Common Room, everyone appeared to have heard the musical serenade, and people were crowded onto the comfortable chairs. Someone gave a whoop, and a cloth flew across the room, revealing a table covered with sweets from the kitchen.

James let go of Remus's elbow and climbed up onto the chair beside the table. "Thank you all, thank you, thank you! The house elves are hard task masters, but Sirius and Peter and I got away from them with all of this..."

There was much laughter; most Gryffindors had made it to the kitchens once or twice, and the house elves' idea of making it difficult to take food was to give them too many choices, or load them down too heavily.

James took a sarcastic bow. "Yes, yes. It was a brilliant, chivalric, selfless task, all accomplished to honor the thirteenth anniversary of the birth of one Remus John Lupin..."

"John?" Sirius repeated, pretending to be scandalized. "What sort of name is John?"

"Sorry," Remus said. "Mum mislaid her Astronomy textbook, so she fell back on a barbaric family tradition of giving people actual names."

Sirius shook his head. "Rough luck, mate." Then he grinned and mussed Remus's hair.

Older students started to elbow in toward the table, but James raised a wand at them, a gesture they'd learned not to ignore as far back as the Sorting Feast. A fifth-year called Eden Pierce raised his hands and backed away, making a show of it, and James ushered Remus to the table, indicating that he should take first pick. Remus grabbed whatever was closest at hand--it all looked good--and let the hordes move in. James rolled his eyes.

There was a lot of cheerful well-wishing over the next twenty minutes from older students who barely knew Remus (except as James and Sirius's friend). A seventh-year started to play a guitar, and people danced, sometimes raising bottles of butterbeer to Remus as they whirled past.

His friend Lily Evans broke away from the other girls and wove across the now-crowded room. She had an envelope in her hand, and when Remus looked up to see how James was reacting to her presence, he saw that James, Sirius, and Peter all did as well.

"We have presents," Peter said importantly.

"Presents?" Remus said. "I don't know if we should get in the habit of--"

"Oh, there's a strict price limit," Lily said.

"And what's that?"

"Not a Knut."

Remus looked at her skeptically, and she smiled and opened her envelope. "In honor of the birthday of the only one of you lot that I can stand"--James stuck his tongue out at her and she turned her nose up--"I, Lily Evans, promise not to argue with James Potter or Sirius Black for at least twenty-four hours. Happy birthday."

"Twenty-four hours?" Remus feigned shock. "Are you certain you can do it?"

"Not really, but I'll make myself scarce after the party to avoid temptation."

Remus laughed.

Peter cleared his throat and opened his envelope. "I, Peter Pettigrew"--he ducked behind Sirius--"promise not to copy your homework for a month. Er... starting tomorrow."

"After the Transfiguration questions?"

Peter grinned sheepishly.

Remus shook his head. "I could just help you with them, you know."

"You should copy me, anyway," James said. "I get higher marks from McGonagall than Remus does."

Lily punched him in the shoulder. He raised an eyebrow at her. She made a show of biting her tongue.

James was carrying a small scroll, which he unrolled. "I, James Potter, will loan you"--he looked around, seemed to decide not to say something in front of Lily, and held the scroll at an angle where she couldn't read it--"a certain piece of apparel with which you are familiar, three times, with no questioning about where you plan to wear it."

"What piece of apparel is that?" Lily asked.

"A cloak," James said, then adopted a sanctimonious pose. "It's very warm. As thin and sickly as Remus is, he sometimes needs it, poor thing." Lily pulled a face at him.

Remus shook his head, laughing, and wondering when James thought he was going to decide to use the Invisibility Cloak on his own.

Sirius cleared his throat and pulled a fine piece of parchment from his vest. It was headed, Remus saw, with the Black family crest. "I, Sirius Black," he said, "of the most ancient and noble et cetera et cetera, do solemnly swear..." He rolled the parchment and took a deep shaky breath. "No, no I can't..."

"Can't what?"

"Do it, Sirius," James said. "Think of Lupin's peace of mind."

"All right. Right." He took a deep, cleansing breath. "I promise not to get myself or you into detention for a period of"--gasp--"one week."

Remus laughed. "How will you avoid being caught for a whole week?"

Sirius made a halo over his head with his thumbs and forefingers.

"Oh. Of course."

Lily shook her head. "Well, I'll start making myself scarce now, before I break my present."

"Thanks, Lily. Are we still doing that paper for Binns tonight?"

She nodded. "I'll meet you in the library."

James, who was working with Sirius on the paper (Peter was working with a girl named Susannah Foxwood), looked after her wistfully, then sighed. He raised his butterbeer. "To Lupin."

The others followed suit and drank.

"Aren't you going to drink?" Peter asked.

"To myself?" Remus said. "My mother would kill me." He raised his own bottle. "To my friends." He drank.

The party went on for two hours, and Remus was in no hurry to leave it, though he was content to sit on his own for most of it, happy to see people having a good time, happy to be a part of it. He caught himself wondering what they would think if they knew what he was, but he made himself stop it, just for tonight. A few other students wandered over to him to wish him well, including a beautiful fourth-year girl with the unfortunate name of Hortense Portatch, with whom he felt himself unable to form words of more than one syllable at a time. He suspected that either James or Sirius had sent her over.

Professor McGonagall appeared at eight and insisted that they needed to quiet down and get to their homework (Remus entirely missed time in the library with Lily), and slowly, the Gryffindors began to drift to their various separate activities. Presumably in honor of his birthday--a common practice--they let Remus have the prime spot in front of the fireplace, and the others gathered around him to work on their homework. He helped Peter through Transfiguration before starting it himself. Peter just had a mental block about it.

When they'd finished the day's chores, they trudged up to their room on the top level, and began to get ready for bed. Remus and Peter both put on pajamas, kept somewhere in the general vicinity of their beds. James slept in his underwear. Sirius wore a pair of Muggle blue jeans and no shirt, insisting that this was comfortable. He began his nightly pacing not long after everyone else had turned in, and Remus listened to his shuffling steps from behind the curtains of his own bed.

He could hear Peter snoring before long, and he heard James say, "Lumos," which meant he was up reading behind his curtains. Sure enough, a moment later, the distinctive sound of heavy pages sliding against one another came from his direction.

Remus lay back among his pillows, in the small, private world of his curtained bed, looking up at the canopy and smiling faintly at visions of a happy life, with birthdays and laughter and comfortable routines. And if the visions he had were impossible for him, tonight, he didn't care.

He drifted into a peaceful, untroubled sleep beneath the waxing moon.


28 comments or Leave a comment
harriet_wimsey From: harriet_wimsey Date: March 11th, 2006 07:21 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, lovely! A nice, uncomplicated birthday with his friends is such a lovely gift to give Remus. And I love the presents they came up with. They really do know their friend, don't they? As always, I want to shake him just a bit, though, to make him see that he really can have that happy life, and he deserves it.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 11th, 2006 06:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, Tonks shakes him for us all later on. :)

Glad you liked it.
snorkackcatcher From: snorkackcatcher Date: March 11th, 2006 08:46 am (UTC) (Link)
Charming and excellent as always -- the no-Knut presents were a really good touch. :)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 11th, 2006 07:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
I figured people watching their budgets might otherwise be a little iffy about presents.
dudley_doright From: dudley_doright Date: March 11th, 2006 09:44 am (UTC) (Link)
This is lovely =)

I really really like Remus' reaction to the festivities - that he's content just to watch people...be happy, because of him.

And the end...it's a small zoom-out, not enough to destroy the mood of the piece, but...it really fits. And he already believes that, doesn't he, that he can't have this. *sigh*
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 11th, 2006 07:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think that he's trying to prepare himself to not be disappointed, but he convinces himself a little too thoroughly.
dreamer_marie From: dreamer_marie Date: March 11th, 2006 11:07 am (UTC) (Link)
"John?" Sirius repeated, pretending to be scandalized. "What sort of name is John?"

"Sorry," Remus said. "Mum mislaid her Astronomy textbook, so she fell back on a barbaric family tradition of giving people actual names."

Sirius shook his head. "Rough luck, mate." Then he grinned and mussed Remus's hair.

This is wonderful.
That sure was a good birthday, and very joyful. Thanks a lot!
The only thing I'd have to say is that I'm not sure I quite understand what happens in the beginning when Remus is in front of the dormitory door. It's not 100% clear. Other than that, kudos!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 11th, 2006 07:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, I should go back and tweak that, make it clearer.
lareinenoire From: lareinenoire Date: March 11th, 2006 01:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, that *was* cute! Loved the idea of not spending money on gifts -- it makes perfect sense, and showcased the boys' creativity.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 11th, 2006 07:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
These boys are scarily creative. I love them.
swatkat24 From: swatkat24 Date: March 11th, 2006 01:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, that was lovely! I particularly enjoyed the Remus/Lily friendship. *g*
swatkat24 From: swatkat24 Date: March 11th, 2006 01:34 pm (UTC) (Link)


Peter just had a mental block about it.

And this is the reason he makes such a good professor. Excellent work!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 11th, 2006 07:06 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: PS

He is good at seeing where people's problems are!

Glad you liked it.
jennnlee From: jennnlee Date: March 11th, 2006 01:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
Adorable. What a wonderful thing to read while sipping my coffee this morning. Thanks for sharing it with us.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 11th, 2006 07:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
You're welcome!
jadeddiva From: jadeddiva Date: March 11th, 2006 02:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
While there are many wonderful exchanges among the characters, this stands out as my favorite:

"John?" Sirius repeated, pretending to be scandalized. "What sort of name is John?"

"Sorry," Remus said. "Mum mislaid her Astronomy textbook, so she fell back on a barbaric family tradition of giving people actual names."

Sirius shook his head. "Rough luck, mate." Then he grinned and mussed Remus's hair.

Very nice job :)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 11th, 2006 07:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, you know Sirius had enough grief about the family names that he would have to make jokes of it.
alkari From: alkari Date: March 11th, 2006 03:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for a lovely snppet, Fernwithy! Loved the interchange about the "John" and promises made in the presents.

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 11th, 2006 06:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
You're welcome! I'm always glad of a chance to write the Marauders.
chicleeblair From: chicleeblair Date: March 11th, 2006 04:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
Brill, Fern. I <3 ickle Remmikins. And the Remus Lily friendship was great.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 11th, 2006 06:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
I like Lily and Remus as friends. The idea just appeals to me. (With Remus having a little bit of a crush from time to time.)
narnian_dreamer From: narnian_dreamer Date: March 11th, 2006 05:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow, this is great!

Ditto on loving the "real names" exchange, and all the gifts. I especially liked Sirius's exaggerated application of willpower in order to promise two detention free weeks.

Incidentally, I think you mean "peace of mind" in that section instead of "piece of mind."

And I'm also confused about what's going on on the stairs. I think that he's climbing up to the dormitory, stops to ponder the lack of noise coming from the dormitory, and is about to continue climbing when all his friends burst out from behind him (coming from the Common Room? Or the third-years' dormitory! Is that why they're mentioned like that?) and drag him back down into the Common Room for a surprise party, but I'm having a tough time visualizing it.

I love the way you write their dialogue! You really have each character's voice down.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 11th, 2006 06:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
Basically, he's just getting back from Madam Pomfrey's when he notices that the dormitory is quiet. The others are lying in wait downstairs, and have set up a charm to let everyone in the general vicinity know he's back and gather downstairs (and embarrass him in the process!). They're hiding in the room downstairs. When the "alarm" goes off, they grab him and drag him back downstairs.

Marauder dialogue is fun to write. I do love the guys.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 11th, 2006 07:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
Incidentally, I think you mean "peace of mind" in that section instead of "piece of mind."

scrambles to fix

I can't imagine what you mean...
crazyrach From: crazyrach Date: March 11th, 2006 06:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love this! It seems so fitting that they would do this for Remus on his birthday, and he really would appreciate their gestures more than any tangible gift.

On another note, I want to thank you for making me smart. I was reading some of your other fics this morning, and I read the one where Dung, Remus, and Hermione are talking and drinking together (I forgot the name) and someone brings up “The Dead” and I realized that college has made me stupid. In four semesters, I have only read one real work of literature (The Things They Carried) but in high school, we were forced to read so much more because we had to take English class. Anyway, to make a long story short, you have inspired me to reserved a copy of The Dubliners from the library because I have not read a good short story in a while, and I think I can appreciate those stories more now that I did as a 16 year old forced to read them for class. So thank you Professor Fern!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 11th, 2006 06:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks... though I don't think that's one of my fics! I've never read The Dubliners myself... :)
lorelei_lynn From: lorelei_lynn Date: March 11th, 2006 09:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
I too loved the line about names not from an Astronomy text. Thanks for giving us a lovely picture of the boys' friendship. Excellent story.
eir_de_scania From: eir_de_scania Date: March 11th, 2006 09:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm with everyone else on the "name" exchange! That was a very "Remus" answer. You know, in Canon Sirius tells us Remus could make him and James ashamed of themselves, or at least of their antics. I'm certain he forgot to mention that Remus was the only one having him, sirius, lost for words sometimes!

BTW, great new icon!!!!!! ;-)
28 comments or Leave a comment