[identity profile] zaph.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] exclusive_and
Title: The Gift
Fandom: Harry Potter
Characters: Remus Lupin, Sirius Black, James Potter, various Hogwarts attendees and staff
Disclaimer: The characters were invented and first written by J. K. Rowling. She owns the copyrights on them. For me to claim anything else would be absurd. Also, the title is borrowedstolen from a Buffy episode. Actually, so is the idea for the story. But a different Buffy episode. So some credit goes to Joss Whedon, too.
Rating: PG
Summary: Everyone loves Remus Lupin. Also I am on crack. (4718 words)


"Come on, mate, your birthday's coming up, and we've got to celebrate. What say I give Filch some uncontrollable ear hair?" James asked his friend as they walked towards the Great Hall for supper.

"You'd have done that anyway, and you know you don't need me to tell you it's a terrible idea," Remus replied.

"Well, I wasn't going to sign my work, you know."

"You and Sirius have spent how much time in detention now? You don't think Filch would realise it was you?"

"Some detentions are worth it."

"James, I know you mean well, and don't take this the wrong way, but I think I've kind of outgrown the whole 'hexing Filch' thing."

Sirius came up quickly behind them. "Ah, is that Remus I hear being all rational and — what's the word? — oh yes, mature again?"

"I've had to grow up a lot faster than you, you know that."

"That's not the point, Remus! You can come to terms with your, erm, furry little problem —" Remus rolled his eyes — "but that doesn't mean you can't still have fun!" James told him excitedly, and quite a bit louder than Remus would have liked, as other students passing by turned to look.

"I know that, James, I'm just not sure your idea of 'fun' is really the same as mine."

"All right, then, what would you like? Something that's fun for Remus, coming up!" James drew his wand.

Remus chose to ignore James's idea that magic was the only way to have fun, instead looking up and scanning the hall for other familiar faces, perhaps some who wouldn't offer to hex everything in sight if it would amuse him. His eyes stopped on Lily Evans. James seemed to notice.

"Ahhh, Moony, she's off limits. She's going out with me," James joked.

"In your dreams, Prongs," Sirius laughed. "What was the last thing she said to you? Something about how she'd sooner snog a Norwegian Ridgeback than you?"

"I can arrange that, you kn—"

"Not the point, James," Remus pointed out, trying hard to stifle a laugh. "Besides, I —"

He looked back and saw James and Sirius stopped a few yards behind him, whispering to each other. He was about to walk back and interrupt their scheming when they straightened up and approached him.

"All right, we've decided what to do for your birthday. We're going to get you a date with Lily," Sirius told him, as James appeared to be examining something on the front of his robes.

"But I don't want —" Remus began.

"Sure you don't, Moony," Sirius interrupted with a wink. "Besides, it's the idea that's important. You going out with someone. Pretty big confidence builder if you ask me."

"I didn't ask you, Sirius."

"Well, no, you didn't, but I'm offering it anyway. You have to believe you can go out with her."

"But why does it have to be Lily?" James whined.

"Can you think of someone more deserving?" Sirius probed for another suggestion.

"If it's a full moon, I'd suggest Snape," said James bitterly.

Sirius nodded. "We should do that anyway, but the full moon isn't until the twenty-seventh."

Remus ignored their threats against Snape and tried to decline their offer. "You know, I really appreciate this, but I'm just not that interested in going out with Lily." It was true — Remus liked Lily, of course, and she was actually nice to him, though she was nice to most people who weren't James, but he liked a lot of people he wasn't interested in going out with.

"All right, not Lily," Sirius agreed as James silently cheered next to him. "Who, then?"

"You'd laugh," Remus told them.

"We didn't laugh about Lily," James reminded him.

"But I don't want to go out with Lily. Besides, you were too busy being jealous."

Sirius nodded agreement, adding, "Well, we still didn't laugh."

Remus had had enough and walked around them towards the Gryffindor table, but they quickly cut him off again before he reached it.

"Fine, not Lily, and you don't have to tell us who. Just meet us in the usual place tonight at sundown," Sirius told him.

"Sirius, I can't exactly wander the grounds at night. I can't turn into an animal at will like you, I'd get caught," Remus quietly explained.

"You can use my cloak," James suggested.

"And what are we going to do, exactly?" asked Remus, worried.

"It'll be a birthday surprise," Sirius said.

"I hate surprises. Especially with you lot."

"Trust me, you —"

Sirius interrupted him with a loud laugh. "Trust you. Yes, Prongs, that's the sure way to get Moony to agree to it."

"I'm recalling the time you insisted you could extract the —" Remus looked around and lowered his voice — "wolf from me."

"We were thirteen. And your hair grew back in. Mostly," James answered.

Remus rolled his eyes. "All right, fine. I'll meet you tonight. But I'll have my hand on my wand in case you try anything."

"That's my Moony!" Sirius exclaimed.

"We'll need Wormtail's help," James reminded him.

"Well, he wouldn't want to miss the fun. Where is he, anyway?"

"Probably sneaking around the girls' bathroom again. Bloody rat."

Remus pushed past their discussion of Peter's activities and finally sat down for what was left of supper, though having lost much of his appetite in nerves about the evening's plans.

***

Peter pressed the knot on the Whomping Willow to freeze it, allowing Remus, Sirius, and James to enter safely, and, changing back from his rat form, followed them towards the Shrieking Shack. Remus was fidgeting nervously, still not entirely convinced this was a good idea.

Peter followed nervously, not saying anything, as was his usual manner around Sirius and James.

They arrived at the dilapidated house and James and Sirius immediately got to business, drawing their wands.

Remus backed away quickly and raised his own wand.

"What are you doing with those?" he asked nervously.

"Giving you a gift!" Sirius excitedly replied.

"What sort of gift?"

"A date with Lily," James said bitterly. Peter giggled.

"I don't want a —" Remus tried to protest.

"Fine, fine, a date with anyone!" Sirius interrupted. "That part of the spell's on you, anyway," he explained.

"And it's something I could do myself if I wanted to," Remus suggested, hoping they would back down.

"Then it wouldn't be a gift," James informed him.

"All right, then," sighed Remus. "What do you need me to do?" he asked, resigned.

"Well, for one, we need you to put your wand away and trust us," explained Sirius.

Remus snorted in disbelief, but did as he was told anyway, knowing there was no sense arguing.

"Very good," Sirius continued. "Now, picture Lily —" James and Remus both coughed — "fine, picture anyone you want when we give the incantation. And she'll be just a little more attracted to you tomorrow."

"All right, what's the incantation?" he asked, still sounding unsure.

"Amorspecticum!" Sirius shouted, pointing his wand directly at Remus, before he was quite ready.

He tried to protest: "Wait, Amorwhat? I ..." He stopped, feeling a strange warmth pass over him, as the room lit up in red and white. In his protest, he didn't get a chance to picture anyone clearly in his mind — in fact, his mind felt oddly blank.

"You didn't —"

"Didn't what? It's done, Remus. Tomorrow morning come breakfast, the one you most desire will find you irresistible," Sirius told him enthusiastically. "If you're lucky, you may catch her in the common room before you even leave the dormitory."

"Unless she's not in Gryffindor," James reminded him.

"Unless she's not in Gryffindor," Sirius repeated.

"What I was going to say was, you didn't just modify my memory, did you?" Remus brought them back to the moment.

"Er, no, why would we?" James asked.

"Why wouldn't you, James? It's what you do."

"Hang on. What are you saying? Are you saying you didn't think of anyone? It won't work then!"

"It's all right, Sirius. It's not like I blocked all my thoughts and memories," Remus lied. "And if it doesn't work, that'll just be a lesson we've all learnt."

Peter, silent since they had arrived, finally spoke: "Another one?"

***

Morning came and Remus woke up, briefly forgetting the events of the previous night, until he was approached by James.

"Remus, mate, anything I can get you this morning? Cup of coffee? Scone?"

"James, I'm still in bed, give me a minute to maybe get some clothes on and head downstairs."

"I figured you might want breakfast in bed this morning."

"Erm, why?" asked a very confused Remus.

"Well, it is your birthday, so I figured I'd be extra nice."

"James, you're always nice to me. And what about last night? Wasn't that my gift?"

James frowned. "I can't give you a gift and breakfast in bed?"

"Sorry, James, I —" he remembered the spell from the previous night and invented something — "I've got to go meet Lily for breakfast in the Great Hall."

"Oh, right. Lily. I thought you said —"

"Would you have done the spell if I hadn't?" he asked, playing along.

"Of course! For you? I'd do anything. Like bring you breakfast in bed. Which, by the way, is getting cold."

Feeling James, too, was being less than honest, he decided to ignore the matter.

"Look, I appreciate it, but I'd really rather go downstairs for breakfast," he said.

"Well, fine," said James, turning away and muttering to himself as he left the room.

Odd, though Remus. James never mutters. He says everything out loud. He shrugged it off and got dressed, preparing to leave the dormitory, when Sirius rushed towards him.

"Remus! Great to see you this morning. You're looking great today." He followed this pronouncement with a slight growl, which Remus found rather shocking.

"Sirius, are you all right? James was acting strangely, too."

"Oh, James. James thinks he can cut in on my territory, that's all. But I know what's mine. We even talked about it."

"Your territory, Sirius? You haven't been, uh, relieving yourself in the dormitory again, have you?"

"No, no, nothing like that. He's just under the delusion he can have you all to himself. And what do you mean again?"

"What? No he isn't. You're his best mate. You can both be my friends."

"You don't understand! I don't want to be just friends, Remus."

Remus, who hadn't stopped moving as Sirius talked to him, finally stopped in the middle of a staircase. Sirius nearly fell right into him. "You want what, Sirius?"

"You know. I've seen the way you've looked at me. It's unmistakable."

Assuming Sirius was just being silly, Remus said the first thing that came to his mind, which was, "You're mad." He wasn't prepared to discuss this while standing on the stairs with Sirius leaning in his face, though he figured it was probably a discussion they'd have to have eventually.

"Look, Sirius, I know what you're thinking, but you know I've got to meet Lily this morning," he continued, telling the same lie he told James.

"Ah, yes, James warned me you'd have your heart set on her. Forget I mentioned it."

"Warned you? Wasn't that what last night was ..." he stopped, wondering if the spell had backfired, and perhaps his act of simply being in the same room as James and Sirius when they performed it, rather than thinking about a single person as they'd instructed him, had caused him to be the object of both of their desires instead. It would certainly explain James's behaviour. Though so would it being a practical joke, which was the more likely answer.

"Right, last night," Sirius continued down Remus's train of thought. "Look, you know it's wrong, and you know Lily's not going to go out with you after today, so just ... keep me in mind, all right?"

Remus nodded absentmindedly and resumed walking.

"Look, I'll let you go alone for breakfast, see if you can't catch Lily," Sirius said with a wink, ducking into a secret corridor to their right, muttering to himself as James had done.

Remus was alone again and continued towards the Great Hall, where he was met by Mrs Norris.

"It's morning, and I'm on my way to breakfast. I'm allowed to do that, aren't I?" Even Remus was suspicious of the caretaker's cat.

She continued to approach him, but instead of treating him as she did all students, especially those she could sense weren't entirely human, she purred loudly and wove herself between his legs, rubbing firmly against them.

Shocked, Remus stood on the spot for probably five minutes with Mrs Norris being as affectionate to him the whole time, occasionally mewing and nipping at him. Surely he hadn't thought of a cat during the spell. Surely not that cat. The cat that was now clawing her way up his robes, trying to get closer to his face.

He heard a crowd approaching and tried to pull Mrs Norris off himself, and was holding her in his arms when about two dozen students from various houses walked into the corridor where he was standing. He heard the noise of the footsteps come to an abrupt halt and became consciously aware that everyone there was looking at him.

A third year girl he didn't know walked towards him, and had barely opened her mouth to speak when Mrs Norris let out a terrible hiss at her, causing her to turn and run in the other direction.

If this had been a practical joke, James and Sirius really had done a thorough job. He deposited Mrs Norris back on the ground, where she continued to purr and rub his legs, while the other students stared at the scene. One of them managed to get close enough to kick the cat, who let out a yowl and ran off, probably to fetch Mr Filch to impose a harsh punishment on her assaulter.

Remus turned and found himself face to face with Severus Snape, who was grinning madly.

Snape grinning, Remus thought. There is definitely something not right here.

Snape put his hand over Remus's shoulder and began guiding him closer to the Great Hall. Behind them, he heard the remaining students groan and sigh.

"All right, James, you've made Polyjuice Potion, I get it."

"Is it so hard to imagine that I would actually want to spend time with you, Remus?" Snape asked calmly.

"Well, yes, actually, it is. And since when are we on first name terms?"

"I knew you wouldn't understand. Why don't we discuss things over breakfast?"

Remus was unsure of what to say or what was happening. Either James and Sirius had orchestrated an incredibly complex prank, or the spell they did last night had gone horribly wrong. He more suspected the latter when both Sirius and James came up beside them, proving that the Snape gripping his shoulder really was Snape.

"Well, well, Snivellus. We — WHAT THE BLEEDING HELL ARE YOU DOING TO REMUS?!!" Sirius shouted, drawing his wand.

Remus felt Snape's hand leave his shoulder and fell to the floor as Snape was lifted off the ground. James had used his favourite hex, it appeared.

"Now that we're comfortable, Snivellus, why don't you tell us nicely what you were doing with dear Remus here."

Snape cursed and spat at James, but finally answered. "It is none of your business, Black, if I choose to spend time with someone more worthwhile than a filthy blood-traitor as yourself."

Remus looked at Snape, wondering how he differentiated between a blood-traitor and a werewolf, but he wasn't about to argue the point with thirty other students in the room, and Snape was still safely suspended in mid-air, far from his wand, which had fallen to the floor.

Sirius managed to get a hex off, too, and Snape, who had been cursing at them almost non-stop, began quacking instead.

Remus couldn't help but laugh, along with most of the others present. Snape was unable to speak normally, but his eyes more than clearly indicated his seething anger.

James and Sirius continued to use a variety of unusual hexes on Snape while Remus looked on, partly in amazement at the magic they were capable of, and partly in shock at what they were willing to do in full view of half the school. It was only a matter of time before Filch showed up, presumably having been fetched by Mrs Norris just ten minutes earlier.

"James Potter!" came a voice from the entrance to the Hall. It was Lily.

The scene froze as James turned to look at Lily. She looked disgusted, as she often did when James was hexing people.

"He had it coming, Evans. He was trying to hurt Remus."

Snape quacked in protest.

Lily looked at Remus and then back at James. Her look hardened and she pulled out her own wand. Remus was surprised, as he'd never seen Lily use her wand outside of class. She pointed her wand at James but quickly changed targets, and Snape fell to the ground with a 'thud'. Lily smiled and waved her wand again, and Snape was hoisted back into the air.

"Nice one, Evans! Didn't know you had it in you," James encouraged her.

She smiled again. "He was trying to hurt Remus!" She casually sauntered over to Remus and put her arm around him. He flinched uncomfortably. James looked upset.

"Sirius!" Remus shouted desperately as Lily guided him into the Great Hall, which was now nearly empty.

"Don't worry about Sirius. He can handle Snivellus. What was he doing to you, anyway?"

Remus had no idea how to answer her. The truth wasn't an option, since if she found out she would never speak to any of them again, though that was possible anyway. So, for the third time already that day, he lied.

"Oh, he was trying to ... jinx me," he said unconvincingly, but Lily seemed to believe it. "Look, Lily, I'm sorry, but I've been ... I've been having a very strange day, and I think I might need to have a lie down."

"I wouldn't mind lying down for a while," she said with a wink.

"Not you, Lily, me. Me lying down."

"Oh, I can do that, too." She grinned and started to open her robe. Remus stared.

"Lily, you really don't want to do that. Trust me. I'm going to get this all worked out, but please don't do that or you will regret it," he explained, trying to remain calm, but having a difficult time of it.

She edged closer and put her arms around him, forcing him backwards against the now empty Hufflepuff table. "Don't you like me?"

"I ... I do like you, Lily. And I want you to continue liking me, which will not happen if you do what I think you're trying to do."

She tried to open his robes, but he wrenched himself free and fell backwards over the table. He stood up quickly, saw Lily's confused and disappointed look, and then ran from the Hall.

Just outside the doors, he found chaos. Snape was still hanging in mid-air being magically poked and prodded by James and Sirius, but the others in the hall were all fighting amongst themselves. Hexes were flying in all directions, and to complicate matters, Peeves (Oh, please don't let him notice me, thought Remus) was 'assisting' by pouring what appeared to be chalk dust on various participants, causing great sneezing outbursts.

Remus decided he would be safer in the Great Hall with Lily trying to undress him than outside risking being hit by a stray Jelly-Legs Jinx.

He took a deep breath and then pushed open the doors to the hall again, when he heard a booming voice behind him.

"SILENCE!"

He turned and saw that Dumbledore was standing beyond the crowd, which had frozen in place (though Remus suspected that some people were literally frozen in place).

Dumbledore pushed his way through, casually lowered Snape to the ground while giving dirty looks to James and Sirius, and continued on to Remus as if a school-wide brawl were suddenly unimportant.

"Oh no, not Dumbledore, too," Remus said to himself. "Please not Dumbledore."

"Remus. Please come to my office," he said firmly.

Oh good, I'm in trouble. At least he's not trying to — Remus's thought was interrupted by a hand on his shoulder. He looked up into Dumbledore's twinkling eyes.

"Twenty points to Gryffindor, I think, for being such a charming young man."

"Uh, thank you, sir," said Remus as they walked down the corridor.

"Droobles Best Blowing Gum," Dumbledore said to the gargoyle outside his office. They stepped inside and ascended the moving staircase.

Once inside, Dumbledore sat down not at his desk, but in one of the chairs in front of it, and motioned to Remus to do the same.

"Tea, Remus?" he said, conjuring a teapot and some cups with wand.

"Thank you, sir." Remus felt it would be best in this situation to accept Dumbledore's offer.

"Professor, I think James and Sirius have done something ... well, there's a problem."

"You need not worry about them, Remus, they were only trying to help you," explained Dumbledore.

"No, you see, they've made a mess, and —" he stopped suddenly, noticing that Dumbledore was suddenly very close to him and smiling strangely. "Actually, I have to leave now."

Remus ran from Dumbledore's office, not worrying that leaving like that would probably cost Gryffindor as many points as he'd earned them for being under James and Sirius's spell. As he knew the castle better than most students, he was able to find a path back to the Gryffindor tower without passing anyone else. The Fat Lady in the painting spent fifteen minutes complimenting him on his hair and robes before admitting him to the common room.

Remus had never felt this alone before. He couldn't talk to anyone — all the other students and teachers seemed to want to tell him was how in love with him they were. It was flattering, at least at first, but he wasn't sure he could take it from Professor McGonagall if he went to his Transfiguration lesson that afternoon before finding a suitable counter-charm.

It was only after he sat down in the corner, hoping to hide himself, that he realised he was not alone, and Nearly-Headless Nick floated over to him.

"Come to express your great undying love for me, Nick?" Remus asked sarcastically.

"Hardly," he answered, obviously taken aback. "But I've never seen you in here at this time of the morning."

"You ... you're not ... er, in love with me?"

Nick leapt back with such force that his head wobbled on his neck. "Certainly not! I think you are a fine student and a very kind individual, but I am not that kind of man!" he said defensively.

Remus breathed a sigh of relief.

"I need your help," he explained. "James and Sirius ... They thought they were doing me a favour, and I never should have let them try it, because now everyone at Hogwarts thinks I'm the greatest thing since self-slicing bread."

"Everyone?"

"Everyone except the ghosts, it seems."

"And you want to reverse it," Nick said knowingly.

"Well ... yes. The attention can be nice, but I really don't need Snape trying to get into my robes. Do you know a counter-charm for it?"

"I'm not sure I'm the best person to advise you. You do know I was nearly beheaded for botching a spell, yes?"

"Honestly, it's a risk I'm willing to take."

"Very well," Nick said, and he started to float away.

"Well?" Remus called after him.

"Well what?" Nick asked, turning around.

"What's the counter-charm?"

"I don't know it!"

Remus rolled his eyes and Nick left. It looked like he was going to have to make a trip to the library and hope he didn't meet anyone else on the way there. He raced up the stairs to the dormitory and rummaged through James's things until he found the map they had been working on.

Activating the map, he saw that most of the students were clustered in various classrooms, though Madam Pince was patrolling the library. He looked again in James's things and found the Invisibility Cloak, realising it was a much better option than an incomplete map of the school anyway.

He rushed invisibly to the library and spent the next six hours researching anti-love spells, learning in the process that there were different ones depending on the degree and type of love. But finally, in the eighth book he chose, he found the answer to his problem, and found himself extremely grateful it was a simple charm, rather than a potion or any more complex spell.

Still under James's Cloak, he pointed his wand at himself and muttered the incantation, hoping he had got it right on the first try. According to the book, it would take a few more hours for the spell to fully wear off, so he decided to wait a little longer than usual to go for dinner, even though he hadn't eaten all day. He didn't think he was quite ready to face the entire school yet if there was still any hint of a love spell active.

He met very few people in the Great Hall, and to his relief, no one was fighting over him any more, allowing him to eat in peace. Most people seemed back to simply ignoring him as he passed, though he still sensed a few people staring at him as he walked away.

He decided he would deal with James and Sirius later, and when he got back to the Gryffindor tower, he went straight up to the dormitory.

Lying on his bed, thinking about the day, he considered that unless he figured out how to use a memory charm on the entire school, there would be a lot of people very angry with him tomorrow. He decided he would risk a trip to the common room when he heard footsteps coming up the stairs. He quickly rolled onto his side and pretended to be asleep.

"You don't snore when you're actually asleep, Moony," Sirius whispered in his ear.

Remus turned and looked at him, and to his relief, saw that he was smiling.

"It's all right," Sirius began, casually taking Remus's hand, "what did you think would happen?"

"I don't know, I suppose I thought I should clear off for a while, let things get back to normal."

"You've been here for how many years now? This is normal."

"Dumbledore," Remus said bitterly.

"What about him?"

"Dumbledore was trying to snog me, Sirius."

Sirius laughed. "OK, you're right, that's not normal."

"For that matter, you were trying to snog me, too!"

"You didn't seem to mind," said Sirius with a grin, now leaning closer to Remus.

"What are you doing? I undid the spell! I found the counter-charm. I even tested it. Most people are back to not noticing me at all."

"Oh, the counter-charm worked, I'm sure of it."

He hadn't been expecting this at all. Sirius had never given any indication he liked Remus any more than he liked James, and Remus was fairly sure Sirius wasn't interested in snogging James.

Sirius pulled Remus up and sat facing him on the bed.

"You know I've noticed you long before we did that spell."

Remus was again puzzled. Of course Sirius noticed him. But somehow, that didn't seem to be what he meant.

"Sirius, I —"

"I understand," said Sirius, sounding disappointed.

"No, I don't think you do." Remus was smiling now and stood up, only just noticing that Sirius was still holding his hand. Remus didn't let go.

Sirius stood up and looked at Remus, his eyes wide, and a big grin forming on his face as he realised what Remus had said. They stood there for a minute before either of them spoke again.

Sirius leaned in closer, still smiling, eyes still wide.

"Happy birthday, Remus."
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fanfiction by zaph

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