Monday 8th October 1973
“Sirius, you’d better come up with the replacement words, you’re the most… er…”
“Verbose?” Sirius supplied, yawning. “Loquacious? Garrulous?”
“Exactly,” Remus smiled. “I’ll work on figuring out which spell we’ll need, and James, you can figure out how we actually manage to cast it on the whole house… that’s going to be really hard, I think – Peter, you better help with that.”
“Hark at Moony!” James laughed, buttering his toast, “Giving the orders now.”
“The marauders are a socialist utopia,” Sirius yawned again, “We don’t have leaders.”
“Enjoying Muggle Studies, are you?” Remus raised an eyebrow. Sirius lay his head on the dining table, closing his eyes and flipping two fingers at Remus.
An owl landed on the breakfast table – it was James’s. Sirius’s owl had been confiscated by his parents so many times that he may as well not have one at all, Peter typically relied on the school owls, and Remus never received post anyway.
“What the hell?” James opened the letter proffered by the bird with a frown. “The… slug club?!”
“Oh yeah,” Sirius opened a sleepy eye, “I got one too. Apparently ol’ sluggy likes students who have a certain star quality. So, me, obviously. And I s’pose you too.”
Neither Peter nor Remus received an invitation; but this was not much of a surprise. Peter was quite good at Potions, but lacked aptitude for almost anything else. As for Remus, he tried to fly under the radar where Professor Slughorn was concerned.
“We won’t go then.” James said, folding up his letter decisively. “All for one and one for all, us marauders.”
“I don’t care,” Remus shrugged, “Go if you want to. I bet Lily’s going.”
“Do you!? Yeah, she is really good at Potions, isn’t she?” James said, getting that funny look on his face again, “She’s really good at everything, probably the cleverest in the year—”
“Oi!” Remus and Sirius said, in unison. James raised an eyebrow,
“Cleverest girl, then.”
Sirius closed his eyes once more, satisfied, and attempted to doze through the rest of breakfast.
* * *
Thursday 11th October 1973
The party was held later that week. James, still uneasy about the exclusion of the two lesser marauders, tried to convince Peter and Remus to don the invisibility cloak and come anyway. Sirius thought this sounded like a good laugh, but Remus personally thought it beneath him. He had no desire to be among the chosen few. In the end, Peter declined too, though he had clearly been on the cusp of agreeing to the ridiculous scheme.
Anyway, Thursdays were Remus’s favourite day of the school week. Specifically, Thursdays from 2pm to 4pm – that slot in his timetable allotted to Care of Magical Creatures. Their Wednesday lessons were always theory based, and Remus liked those too; he’d never heard anyone talk about biology like Professor Ferox. But Thursdays were given over to practical lessons, and the class would walk out onto the grounds, or else arrive at the classroom to find a new creature waiting for them, Ferox bright with excitement to show them.
After kneazles, they’d seen doxies and crups. This week was murtlaps. Mary and Marlene squealed at the creatures Ferox presented in a large hutch-like run at the back of the classroom. Remus couldn’t blame them – murtlaps were extremely unappealing. They were rat-like creatures, with masses of writhing tentacles sprouting from their backs like maggots.
“We can’t do crups and kneazles every week,” Ferox grinned, gesturing for them all to gather around, “Not all of the magical creatures we learn about will be cute. But diversity is the spice of life, hm?”
“I hope we don’t have to touch them,” Marlene whispered, shuddering.
Remus didn’t mind – they were gross, but he didn’t mind gross things. He had a pretty strong stomach; Professor Ferox had already told him so, last week when they were watching the doxy eggs hatch. Remus had beamed with pride all day long.
Ferox was looking at Remus now,
“Mr Lupin, I’m sure I can rely on you to tell me the beneficial properties of murtlap tentacles?”
Remus tried not to smile too broadly, or look too much like a goody goody.
“They’re really good for soothing superficial cuts and abrasions,” he said, promptly, “And if you eat them, they make you impervious to most common hexes.”
“Excellent, five points to Gryffindor.”
Remus couldn’t help smiling a bit. Who cared about the stupid slug club. Slughorn was nowhere near as cool as Ferox; Ferox was clever and unpretentious and funny, and did dangerous things. Remus had never given much thought to having a career, but for some weeks now he had been entertaining the idea that whatever he did when he grew up, he would like to be just like Professor Ferox.
Mind you, he’d have to start eating more, or weight training or something, because if Ferox was anything, he was broad. And Remus, though he was inches above the other marauders now in height, remained eternally weedy.
“It’s your metabolism.” Madam Pomfrey told him, when he’d asked one morning after a moon. “You could eat more, or rest more, but it may just be one of those things, I’m afraid. I shouldn’t worry, dear, you’re as healthy as can be expected.”
That didn’t sound all that reassuring, but he accepted it. His father had been thin too, he was sure. At least he wasn’t pudgy, like Peter, who still looked like a little boy compared to the rest of them.
This fact was made even clearer later that evening, when Sirius and James stood fully dressed in their formal robes, looking every inch the young lords of the manor, and Peter sat staring at them enviously from his bed, already in his pyjamas.
“D’you think there’ll be dancing?” Sirius asked, anxiously, straightening his tie,
“Nah,” James replied, desperately trying to comb his hair flat, “We’d have been told to bring partners or something.”
Sirius slumped on the bed,
“I hate stuff like this. Moony, you go for me, bet ol’ Sluggy won’t even notice.”
“Fat chance,” Remus snorted from behind his copy of Verbal Assault: Defensive Tongue Twisters. “Slughorn can’t even remember my name half the time. And he’ll feel a bit short changed when he’s expecting a pureblood Black and gets the half-blood kid he keeps calling Linchpin.”
“Ugh. He’s such a slimy old tosser. Like an actual slug.” Sirius smirked to himself and nudged Remus with his elbow, “Heh, an actual slug, Moony.”
Remus smiled back, looking up from his book.
“Are you ready, then?” James sighed, tossing away his comb, apparently accepting that his attempt was futile.
“S’pose.” Sirius grunted, getting up laboriously.
“I’ll come down with you,” Remus said, “Might as well go to the library. Wanna come, Pete?”
Peter looked at him as if he was insane, and shook his head.
James, Sirius and Remus made their way down to the common room, where – much to James’s glee – Lily was waiting for them in a very pretty turquoise dress. Unfortunately for James, however, as the three marauders approach it became clear that it was not him she was waiting for.
“Remus!” She said, standing up.
“You look nice, Evans,” James said, hopefully. Sirius sighed loudly.
“I wanted to speak to Remus,” Lily said, ignoring James. “Will you walk with me to the party?”
“Not going,” Remus shrugged, “Not invited.”
“Oh…” Lily flushed a bit, looking embarrassed, “Sorry, I just assumed…”
“What did you want to talk about?” Remus asked, impatiently. His book was heavy, and the full moon was due on Friday, making him more agitated than usual.
Lily eyed James and Sirius, clearly not wanting to say anything in front of them. Remus sighed, “I’m going to the library. If you want to walk that way with me then fine.” It would take Lily out of her way, but Remus decided he didn’t care. He pushed through the portrait hole and heard her scamper after him, her patent black party shoes clicking on the flagstones.
“What’s the book?” Lily panted, struggling to catch up with Remus’s long-legged stride.
“Nothing.” He said, deliberately covering the title with his arm, “Just some research.”
“It’s not something nasty, is it?” Lily asked, disapprovingly, “It’s not another horrid thing to do to Severus?”
“I knew that’s what you wanted to talk about,” Remus rolled his eyes, still walking.
“Well you have to admit, Sirius did start it that time in Hogsmeade, I mean he called Sev—”
“I don’t care, Lily.” Remus snapped, turning a sharp corner, “He didn’t have to be so nasty, Sirius and James were just having a laugh, and Snape had to go and make it personal.”
“Oh!” Lily stamped her foot, “You’re all as bad as each other!”
“You know he hates people like you, too, don’t you?” Remus countered, stopping now that they were outside the library. He rounded on her, “You know that his sort hate our sort.”
“’Our sort’,” Lily tutted, “Honestly, this whole blood purity thing is getting ridiculous, and it doesn’t excuse—”
“He made Marlene cry,” Remus persisted, “Mary told us. What do you think he says behind your back?”
Lily’s cheeks were pink again,
“Sev would never say anything like that about me! He’s my best friend!”
“Well good for you, but the rest of us aren’t so fortunate.” Remus spat. Lily stared at him, blinking for a few moments, stunned into silence. She looked like she might cry, and Remus felt a tiny twinge of guilt. When she spoke again, her voice was meek and small.
“What are you going to do to him?”
Remus sighed. She might as well know.
“Not just him. All of them.” He said, lowering his voice and bending down slightly in case they were overheard, “And nothing bad. If he stops calling anyone else names, then nothing at all.”
She looked at him, sceptically. He straightened up. “That’s all I’ll say. You’ll be late for your party, go on.”
* * *
Later that evening, Remus thought he had just about cracked it. He was sitting up in the common room and had made his final notes. Now all he needed was Sirius’s list of replacement words and they could begin work on the prank. It was almost eleven o’clock when the portrait hole swung open, and Lily Evans marched in with a face like thunder. There were odd silvery marks on her dress that caught the light as she charged in.
“What’s up, Evans?” Remus asked, tentatively, still feeling a bit sorry for being so short with her outside the library.
“Ask them.” She hissed, furious, “I’m going for a shower.”
He did not wonder who she was referring to, but if he had, it was answered within moments, as Sirius and James came through the portrait hole next, laughing hysterically. Remus couldn’t help but grin too – their glee was infectious.
“What did you do?”
“It was all Sirius, mate,” James clapped his friend on the back, then bowed to him elaborately, fluttering his hand. Sirius did the same back,
“Couldn’t have done it without you, my dear chap.”
“Done what?” Remus asked, trying to keep a lid on his irritation as it sprang up out of nowhere.
“Slugs.” James said, “Slugs, bloody everywhere. Started with these little jelly slug sweets that were laid out to eat,”
“Simple enough transfiguration spell,” Sirius shrugged with false modesty, throwing himself into an armchair and slinging one leg over the arm.
“But then,” James sat next to Remus, starry eyed, “Then they started to multiply…”
“And this is why Evans is pissed off with you?”
“Well… did you see the slimy bits on her dress? And um… in her hair a bit too, I think. They were really fast moving slugs, they kind of got everywhere…”
“No sense of humour, that one.” Sirius yawned. “She ought to be thanking us for livening things up a bit.”
“The nerve of some people,” Remus said, dryly.
“See, you understand, Moony,” Sirius grinned, “You’d let us slime you, wouldn’t you?”
Remus thought it best to ignore that, and addressed James instead,
“So did Slughorn know it, was you?”
“Yeah, it was pretty obvious. We were the only ones not screaming.”
“Three weeks. Cauldron scrubbing. That’s fine, helps build up my muscles.” James flexed his arms which, it had to be said, didn’t look particularly muscular.
“Good news, though,” Sirius piped up, “No more parties for us – we’re out of the slug club.”
“And into the history books!” James crowed, causing all three of them to dissolve into fits of laughter.