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The Cleverest of Them All

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“Dad says the temp is starting today,” James informed Sirius softly as they rode the crowded elevator up to the 20th floor.

Sirius had just got back from Singapore, dealing with the last of his familial obligations. Regulus was officially in charge of all Black family dealings. Thank god. Sirius was now free to do as he pleased for the rest of his life without having to worry about the Blacks or any other branch of that family. Now he could work full time for Monty at the Potter Weasley Partnership in London alongside some of his best mates.

The Potter Weasley Partnership ran department stores and such across Europe. They were one of the wealthiest and most charitable counties in Europe. Sirius worked in the PR department while James was in legal. It was nepotism, for sure, but Sirius couldn’t care about that. He was happy and the company was a good place to work.

“Well, hopefully, they’ll bring me coffee. I’m bloody knackered. I thought my body would be adjusted by now. Sirius slouched a bit.

“Not my area.”

Sirius jumped when he heard the voice behind him in the stuffed elevator. He looked over his shoulder to see a taller man with curly light brown hair and nice green eyes. He was wearing the most shite eating smirk.

“Ah, I was joking. I swear. I’m not really like that.” Sirius had always done everything to set himself away from his parent’s uptight, upper class, better than everyone attitude.

The man looked unbelieving with a raised eyebrow. Sirius was oddly turned on by his demeanor. He didn’t have a problem standing up for himself. Well, it helped that he was bloody handsome with curly brown hair and green eyes.

“Sorry, mate, he’s a twat. I’m James Potter. Welcome to Potter Weasley.” His friend turned to shake hands with the man. “You won’t be getting coffee. You’ll be working in the accounting department. They’re brilliant.” James assured him.

“Right, I’m Remus Lupin.”

“I’m Sirius Black and I am sorry. I would never dream to speak to someone like that.” Sirius spoke, going to shake the man’s large hand.

“Yeah, sure.” The man said, adjusting the leather messenger bag he had across his body as the doors opened with a ding. His tall, strong body. God.

Sirius followed James out and tried to get over his embarrassment of putting his foot in his mouth with the temp. Monty was going to probably have a chat with him about that if he found out. He didn’t mean the joke and he shouldn’t have made it then and there. But his brain was clearly broken from the traveling across time zones only two days ago.

“What on earth is wrong with you? Does being around the Blacks fuck you up or something?” James scoffed as they got to his office.

“I never thought he would be in the elevator with us.” Sirius put a hand over his face. “God, now he hates me and probably thinks the whole company is shite.”

“Maybe you should bring him some coffee?” James shrugged with the suggestion. “You know, some olive branch or whatever.”

Sirius sat down in his chair then put his head down on his desk. “I should have taken the week off as Monty said. “We might end up having some lawsuit or something.”

“He’s not going to sue us because you’re a dick.” James snorted a laugh. “If anything, he’ll want his assignment to be done sooner than later, I’d say. I know I’m giving you shite but don’t worry too much about it. He’s in accounting. You’ll never see him.”

Sirius knew James was right. He could have just avoided Remus for the rest of his time at the company. But he was Sirius Black and never let anything go. So just before lunch, Sirius bought a coffee and went off to find Remus Lupin on the floor above in accounting.

Marlene pointed him towards Lupin’s new cubicle, which was in the back corner by the windows that overlooked the city of London. Remus had his headphones on and was working on some boring excel sheet when he approached. Sirius cleared his throat but Remus didn’t move, so he tapped the man on his shoulder. Remus looked up at him, at first with a kind expression but it quickly clouded when he saw that it was Sirius standing there.

“I bought you coffee,” Sirius said, hold up the paper cup.

Remus grimaced and took off his headphones, “what?”

“Coffee. This if you because I said that you should bring me coffee.”

Remus rolled his eyes. “Right, I don’t like coffee.”

Sirius looked at the paper cup, “Ah, oh, okay. Never mind. I’m sorry again.”

“Yep. I’m busy, is that okay if I get back to work?”

“Yes, er, sure, ah huh.” Sirius nodded. “What type of tea?”

“Don’t worry about it,” Remus said, turning back to his computer without another word.

Sirius, feeling as if his tail was between his legs, retreated to his favorite lunch spot to sulk. He wasn’t sure what he could do to solve this mess. He never wanted to be his parents so he always did his best to get on with everyone, no matter who they were. Sometimes he even went out of his way to get on with people he knew his parents would hate but that was a different story. In general, he had a desperate need to be liked thanks to his horrid mother and father. Now Remus Lupin hated him for something his parents would have loved, treated someone as if they were less than them.

Groaning, Sirius sat back down at his desk after coming back from lunch. On top of a new stack of mail that must have come in while he was gone was an envelope with fancy handwriting on it as if it was an invitation to something. He hoped that it would bring him some type of joy after his fuck up of the day, so he opened it. Except it just made his day worse.

When he pulled out the little fine pieces of pink glitter fell out on to his desk and all over him. He stood up swearing to find the paper blank. He was going to murder James or one of the Prewetts. They were always pranking one another. This had to be them. It made his whole day 100 times worse. Now he had to go into a meeting looking even gayer than he already was.

***

After no one stepped forward about the glitter bomb, Sirius pulled a couple of easy pranks on the three other men but for a week all ways quiet. He also hadn’t heard or seen Remus Lupin from accounting once in that time. Which was a pity. Not only did he want to fix the fuck up that he made with the other man but Lupin was bloody hot.

On the following Tuesday morning, Sirius sat down at his desk after a particularly boring meeting. He opened his bottom drawer, where he kept his sweets for when he was hitting those mid-afternoon blues. When he reached his hand in, he felt cold water. He jumped up from his seat and peered down to find that his drawer had been turned into a bloody fish tank. The drawer was lined with a bin liner and tape. It was filled up with water and at the bottom was colorful rocks. Swimming inside was four goldfish.

“What the bloody fuck,” It was one of the best executed pranks that he ever had. Fairly creative too.

Just as he was thinking about what to do to save the fish, James came in laughing. “Mate, good one.”

“What?”

“The bleeding — oh, it wasn’t you. Fab and Gid both have fish tanks in their drawers too. Who did this?”

Sirius furrowed his brow, “Maybe it was Marlene?”

“You know she hates our pranks. She thinks they’re too childish.”

“Someone who wants to be a part of our little club?” James questioned.

Sirius wasn’t sure and the answer didn’t come the rest of that week either. Whoever it was was clever.

Nor did answer come when the next mysterious prank struck the next Friday morning. Through the speaker system, which was never used, Tom Jones’ “What’s New Pussycat” began to play. Sirius had no idea why the song came on so he ignored it at first, thinking that some announcement to come to the conference room would come on and there’d be some event or whatever. But nothing happened. Instead for the next twenty minutes, the same song played over and over again. Someone had watched that comedy special on Netflix too many times.

Sirius gave up trying to work and went to find James. He found him in his office with the twins who were all talking loudly. “It’s him! You did it!” Fabian accused.

“I did not!” Sirius made a face. “I would be more original than this. Why is this still bloody playing?”

“They’re trying to figure out how to shut it off.” James scoffed.

“Who on earth is this prankster?” Gideon glowered.

“I don’t know.”

“Did you know that I came into my office to find the bloody desk and chair suspended from the ceiling yesterday?” Fabian asked Sirius.

“No,” He had been in meetings all day and didn’t see his mates once.

“On Monday my whole desk was covered in sticky notes,” Gideon added.

“Someone taped an airhorn to my chair so when I sat on it it would go off,” James said as the music, finally, went off. “I want to know who this person is. Just so I can shake their hand. Maybe kiss them.”

“Lily will kill you,” Sirius said with a laugh. “She won’t kill me. I hope it’s a bloke and he’s fit. Maybe it’s Caradoc, the IT guy.”

“Do you want it to be Caradoc, the IT guy?” James snickered.

“I wouldn’t say no to a kiss from him.” Sirius shrugged a shoulder.

“It’s probably the old bloke that works on your team.” Gid threw his head back and laughed.

“I think it’s a woman,” James said. “Dorcas would be good for it. Marlene too.”

“No, no, it’s got to be Nym. She is Sirius’ cousin after all. Plus, she works the front desk and has access to all this shite.”

Little did the men know they were all wrong. Well, sort of.

***

Up on the 21st floor, Remus jumped when his headphones were pulled off. Marlene was grinning at him wildly. “The 20th floor has gone mad according to Tonks.” She laughed before pulling the seat over from the empty desk next to his. “I’m sure the boys are losing their bloody minds!”

“Keep your voice down. You’ll give us away.” Remus reminded her.

In January, Remus finished all his work and certifications for teaching but couldn’t find a job mid school year so until the next fall he decided to take up some temp jobs. When one came up in the office his old mate, Marlene, he jumped at the chance. She also choose the moment of his application to tell him she had a plan. For years the office of Potter Weasley had been a battleground of pranks from four men. Remus, who was clever and a bit devious, was just the man to outdo the men and drive them mad. So, since he started a few weeks back he’d been pulling prank after prank.

“You’re brilliant. I love making them go crazy. They’re probably pulling their hair out, huh?”

Remus grinned. He hoped they were, even though they seemed like all right blokes. Even though Sirius had made that comment his first day on about the coffee, he tried to make it right. The poor man looked completely horrified that Remus appeared to have taken it the wrong way. In reality, he didn’t want Sirius to get too close. Remus was only there for a paycheck and to play a few pranks for an old mate. Even if the other man was insanely gorgeous.

“Your career change is the best thing to have happen.”

“My career change isn’t complete until I start working in a month.” He got a job at a primary school not too far from where he was working now. He couldn’t wait to get started there. The years leading up to his career change were hard and he didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life until one day it just hit him. He wanted to be a teacher.

“Well, this in between time is the best thing to happen to me. I love seeing them so aggravated. Like, how dare someone be so clever and it not be them!”

Remus laughed at Marlene. He wondered what they were all thinking, who they thought the prankster was. Granted, it wasn’t just Remus. He had Marlene, Dorcas, Tonks, Benjy, and Caradoc’s help for various reasons. Dorcas and Tonks could get him in places. Caradoc was great with tech. He couldn’t do the Salt and Pepper gag without him. Marlene and Benjy did whatever was needed. They were a wonderful team.

***

In the threeish weeks later, Sirius came into his office, wondering what fresh hell he would experience today. In the previous weeks, he had his office filled with balloons, Fabian’s chair fell to pieces underneath him, Gideon’s hands somehow were dyed purple, and everything on Sirius’ desk was put in jello amongst the many pranks. Sirius couldn’t figure out who was pulling the pranks. They thought about going to security with it but it wouldn’t be fair since they pulled their fair share of pranks.

Following an inspection of his office, to find nothing amiss, Sirius went through his day on edge. He had been edgy for the last week or so only because he didn’t know who was doing these things. No one stood out. No one saw anything. How could there be no witnesses? It made no sense.

At lunch, he went down to get a coffee from the shop across the way. To his surprise, Remus was there with Marlene waiting in line. He thought the accountant’s last day was a week ago but apparently, he got that wrong. “Oh, hello, Black.” Marlene glared. “It’s Remus’ last day so I’m treating him to tea and something sweet.”

“That’s nice of you.” Sirius smiled, looking at the other man. “So, where are you going then?”

“I’m starting a teaching job,” Remus informed him. “I start all the boring orientation stuff on Monday.”

“Oh, brilliant. Good for you.” Sirius said, thinking that Remus looked like a teacher. He just needed a pair of glasses or something to make it. But he was a hot teacher. Bloody hot. Maybe he could ask him on a date now that he was no longer going to be working at Potter Weasley. Maybe Remus also had forgiven him for the whole coffee thing nearly two months ago now. That was the worst thing the other man probably had to get over it if Sirius had a chance with him.

They made small talk as they ordered then waited. Remus and Marlene took theirs to go and Sirius stayed behind to enjoy some time alone people watching. He wished that he spent more time getting to know Remus in the few months he was with the company. He was rather funny and Sirius could have spent the whole lunch hour and more talking to him.

When he got back to his office, a little later than he meant to, he found his desk covered in coffee cups filled to the brim with water. He hated whoever was doing this but they were good so in reality he probably loved them.

Once the mess was cleared he went back to work, trying not to think about the mysterious prankster. At 5 pm, he got an email from Remus Lupin.

Marlene wants you to know that these last two months have all been payback for the prank wars she and others had to endure. I hope you enjoyed my time here. — R.J. Lupin

Sirius’ jaw went slack. It was Lupin? He opened the attached file to find a slideshow of Remus, Marlene, Dorcas, Tonks, Ben, and Caradoc standing in front of their pranks. Remus was the only one in each of them. How on earth did the man manage? Was he only here to pull pranks on them?

Instead of pondering too long, Sirius got up and went up to the 21st floor. He found Lupin’s cubicle filled with Marlene, Dorcas, Tonks, Ben, and Caradoc. Remus was missing. “I can’t believe it. You did this?”

“Remus did it. It was all his ideas.” Dorcas informed him.

“Moony’s an old mate from Uni. When I found out he was looking for a job to do in between starting work at the primary school, I got him to come here. I hope you enjoyed his pranks.”

Sirius frowned, “He’s gone?”

“Yeah, you just missed him. He said to tell you bye then he winked. So, not sure what that was.” Tonk scrunched her nose.

“It means Remus thinks Sirius is fit. He told me that much.” Dorcas waved a hand.

Sirius flushed, “I’d like to buy him a drink.”

“You should. You’d get along. I actually always thought you two might be a good match but I haven’t brought it up because of this whole thing.” Marlene shrugged.

Sirius felt completely daft. Not only was Remus and the rest of these people the ones behind the pranks but Remus also thought he was fit. This all was just strange and weird. But he was okay with it. “So, what’s his number?”

“Nah, I've got a better idea.” Marlene then went on to explain her suggestion.

***

A week later Remus was on his way to meet Marlene at the pub they frequented. He was rather tired from learning all about the school and getting himself ready to meet the kids. But he did want a pint and he did want to hear about the aftermath of him leaving the four men with his parting gift of a slideshow. She hadn’t said much except that they were all shocked and impressed by his skills. Sirius in particular.

‘Sirius in particular’ was echoing about in his brain. The man was like some God or some shite. There was no point for anyone to look like that. He was also sweet and Marlene said he was extremely smart. But it wasn’t as if they were going to go on a date any time soon. Their lives briefly overlapped but that was it.

Remus saw the text from Marlene that she was in the back corner booth as he entered the pub. He made he way there, not paying any mind to his surroundings. He even sat down at the table before realizing it was not Marlene sitting there, but Sirius Black.

“Hi,” Black said with a smile.

“Um, hello. Are you joining Marls and I for drinks?”

“No, she’s not coming.” Sirius grinned. “She told me you thought that I was fit. Which is great because I think you’re fit. Then you played all those brilliant pranks on us, so you’re funny and smart. So, I was hoping you’d fancy a date.”

“Ah, I think I would fancy a date,” Remus said, not letting any hesitation stop him.

“Great, so this can either count as the date or not but I need you to walk me through the pranks. Some of them, I don’t get how you pulled off.”

Remus laughed and leaned on the table, “All right, so, the glitter bomb…”