At H. Dore High School, the English and history rooms are located in the same hallway. They’re the only subjects that aren’t separated from each other. The math department has a hallway to itself, as does the science. Performing arts is located in the basement, and visual arts have the attic. Even the hallway leading up to the gym is lined with doors leading into classrooms to be used by health and fitness teachers. English and history, however, are both located in the hall across from the main office. When there are only two teachers each, it’s hard to justify them having their own spaces.
They do, at least, each get their own side of the hallway. Mr. Lupin’s room is next to Mrs. Potter’s, and Mr. Black’s and Mr. Potter’s are across from them.
The principal regretted this after the first few weeks of Black and Potter having a door connecting their classrooms, but it was what worked the best overall.
If any student had to pick a favorite teacher, odds are it would be one of the four that resided in that hallway. Mrs. Potter was clever and took no shit. Mr. Potter loved what he taught, and it showed. Mr. Lupin was witty and mysterious and a little terrifying, but some students found that hot. Everyone thought Mr. Black was hot, and the banter between him and Mr. Potter was the best part of their school days.
Mr. and Mrs. Potter were married, obviously. They each had a picture of their children on their desk, and the walked into the school every morning holding hands.
Mr. Black and Mr. Lupin had a different relationship entirely. Most of the student body was convinced that if they weren’t both employed in the same place, one would have stabbed the other by now. (Jacob Tayte said that they’d probably be more interested in playing with their swords rather than knives. He was largely ignored. Jacob Tayte was known for being disgusting.)
Alright, maybe they didn’t quite hate each other. It was possible that the student body slightly exaggerated, but who wouldn’t? The two men barely spoke, and even when they did they were either talking about their students or insulting each other.
Their classrooms were across from each other, and at least one of their doors was always firmly shut. They had both taped posters over the windows on the doors, presumably so that the other wouldn’t be able to see into their room.
The thing is, they weren’t like that with anyone else. Mr. Lupin was friendly with both Potters, and heaven knows Mr. Black and Mr. Potter were friends. Their animosity towards each other didn’t seem to affect their other relationships, but there was still never a recorded instance of them voluntarily being in the same room together.
Nobody knew why they hated each other so much.
To be fair, in Mr. Lupin’s case, nobody knew much period. Most of what they assumed to be true was simply speculation.
There were many rumors about how Mr. Lupin had lost his leg. The most sensible one was that he had been involved in an accident, but there was a surprisingly large percentage that believed he had been a government agent who was compromised on a top secret mission.
The only hints students ever got about his private life were the ring he wore on his left hand and the small picture tacked up on the bulletin board behind his desk of a young boy with bright blue hair.
People had asked about the boy before. His name, how old he was, why his hair was blue. They never got any information.
And, of course, every year towards Valentine’s Day a portion of the student body (and an embarrassing amount of teachers, too) got swept up in the mood. In nearly every class someone asked about Remus’s wife. He relentlessly directed them back to their work.
Some people questioned if his wife was actually real. He had the badass lost leg, maybe he was undercover. His backstory was a hoax, and he wasn’t married at all. His first significant girlfriend had gotten killed during one of his first missions due to her connections with him, and he’s vowed off love ever since.
A decent amount of people were convinced his wife wasn’t real. Fewer believed the other parts.
Nobody really knew much about Mr. Black’s life, either, but it wasn’t as obvious. He didn’t avoid questions, but his class would find that ten minutes of his talking would leave them with no new information whatsoever.
He didn’t wear a ring on his finger, though. And, with the way he looked and the motorcycle he rode to school, it wouldn’t surprise anybody if he was single by choice, not wanting to be tied down. He was the most popular teacher to ask for extra help for a reason, after all.
No student had figured them out in the five years they had been working at the school, though, and those who were close to graduating had mostly given up.
By the end of the year almost everybody had stopped putting in full effort, but this was especially true of the seniors. It was apparent that most were doing just enough to pass their classes, and for some even that was only so that they’d be allowed to go on the annual trip at the end of May.
It was for this reason that the English and history departments pooled their field trip savings at the end of the year, and just about every other teacher was immensely grateful for it. Not only did it keep their classes in control, but they weren’t the ones who had to spend two nights babysitting fifty-something almost-adults.
Courtesy of the two departments, the seniors in the English and history classes would go on a shared field trip each year. They were supposed to be learning about something or other, but it was really just three days of vacation. They stayed in cabins next to a lake, where many students spent their entire days in boats, far enough away from the shore that nobody else could hear them talking, and occasionally racing each other until the lifeguards caught them. Others preferred to lounge in the cabins with their friends, savoring the last few months they had to spend together before they went off to different colleges.
They rented out nine cabins in total, with six people assigned to each. A maximum of fifty people were allowed on the trip, and most years there weren’t that many students to begin with. (On the years there were more, some exceptions had been made).
They always had the same nine, lined up in a row facing out onto the water. The first four were for girls, the fifth was the teachers’, and the last four were for boys. They’d only ever had one non-binary student in the past, and they had been allowed to choose who to stay with, or if they’d like to stay in the teachers’ cabin. It was admittedly not a perfect system, but it was a public school, after all.
A week before they left the students were already excited, even if they weren’t quite sure what exactly they were looking forward to.
Lily had just finished with her senior class and was more than ready for her prep block to start. She planned on doing absolutely no work, dedicating it all to finishing the next chapter of her novel instead.
Of course, this was the one day that Tyler Rhapson decided to stick behind.
Tyler was a nice kid, he really was, but if he started a conversation with you, you could count on being stuck there for at least a half hour.
“Do you have my essay?” he asked her. “‘Cause I wasn’t here the day you passed them back, and I need to see my grade on it to see whether or not I need to do the extra credit to be able to go on the trip.”
“Yeah,” Lily said, standing up to search through the mess that had covered up her desktop, “I’ve got it here. Although if I were you I would do the extra credit anyways. That way you won’t have to worry about getting as good of a grade on your final, and you won’t have to spend the entire trip studying instead of enjoying yourself.”
“Is it really that fun, then? ‘Cause it kind of seems like the teachers are looking forward to it more than we are.”
“Why do you say that?” Lily asked, only half listening. She was still sorting through different piles on her desk, praying that she had gotten around to grading Tyler’s essay.
“Mr. Black said he was planning on running away with Mr. Potter before the trip was over. Said they’d live there together for the rest of their lives.”
Lily laughed. “Well, you can tell Mr. Black that if he ruins my marriage, I’ll ruin his.”
Tyler gaped at her. “Mr. Black is married?”
Lily stopped shuffling the papers on her desk around for a moment. “Oh, yeah.” She shrugged. “He likes his privacy. Probably won’t like that I’ve said that to you.”
“He’s married?” Tyler repeated. Lily laughed at him, finally finding his (graded!) essay and handing it over.
Tyler blinked at her before taking it.
“See you tomorrow, Tyler.”
“Yeah… see you, Mrs. Potter.” He didn’t even look at the grade he had gotten before he was out the door.
At the end of the day, just after the last student had left her classroom, Lily made the short journey to the other side of the hallway. She knocked on Sirius’s door and opened it before waiting for a response.
He looked up at her from where he was sitting at his own desk.
“Lily! Glad you’re here, you can help me. I gave a test on the fall of the Roman Republic yesterday and one of the questions was why Caesar was assassinated. Sophie said it was because he was a dick and I mean, technically she’s right, so I don’t know how to mark the question.”
“Only give her half a point for it but put a smiley face.”
Sirius snapped and pointed a finger at her. “No wonder James keeps you around.”
“I could kick your ass.”
“I don’t doubt it.” Sirius finally looked up from his grading. “What’s up?”
Lily sat on the student desk across from his, swinging her legs.
“You’re going to be mad at me,” she started, “but remember that James would be quite upset if he found me dead.”
Sirius put his pen down and narrowed his eyes.
“Lily Evans Potter, what did you do?”
“I want to start off by saying it was an accident.”
“I may have told a student you’re married,” Lily rushed out.
Sirius stood up out of his seat.
“I know, I know. I’m sorry, I wasn’t thinking.”
‘Who did you tell?”
Lily chewed at the corner of her bottom lip.
“Not Tyler Rhapson?”
Lily scrunched up her face. “It was an accident?”
“You could have told anyone, and you told Rhapson of all people? The whole school will know by the end of the hour!”
“Yes, but!” Lily said, “You won’t have to worry about who knows or who doesn’t, so it really wasn’t all that bad.”
“Lily, I don’t tell my students about that stuff for a reason! I’m going to spend all day tomorrow being asked questions about… Christ, they’re going to think I have a wife. I’m going to be asked questions about my heterosexual relationship with a nonexistent woman.” He sat back into his seat as if he were already exhausted.
Lily tilted her head. “At least some of them have to suspect you’re gay.”
“Lily, I’m serious.”
“And I’m ignoring the obvious joke there. Besides, we all know the real reason you won’t tell anyone because you like the mystery of it. Having students not pry into your personal life is just an added bonus.”
“You have it reversed, Lily dear. And now you owe me.”
Lily groaned. “I don’t owe you. I half-owe you. I did fuck up, but you’re also ridiculous.”
Sirius shrugged. “Fine. Either way you’re getting me a coffee before school every day until the year ends.”
“I have to drop the kids off at their schools! I don’t have time to get your spoiled ass a coffee.”
“I babysat Harry for months when I added your sister on Facebook, now it’s your time to pay up.”
“That’s completely different!”
Sirius raised his eyebrows. “D’you want to get James’s opinion on the matter?”
“God, no. I can’t deal with him being upset tonight about having to choose between us. Harry has soccer practice.”
”I like three sugars.”
“I like having friends who aren’t pricks,” Lily said, leaving to go to her own classroom. She really did need to go pick Harry up for soccer practice, and she knew she wasn’t going to be able to get out of Sirius’s idea of repentance anyways. She may have shut Sirius’s door behind herself with a bit more force than necessary, but even if she did, nobody could prove it.
Her anger was forgotten as soon as she checked her watch; Harry had soccer practice in forty minutes, and she still hadn’t packed up her bag.
It was Thursday morning, he didn’t have any lesson plans prepared, Teddy had refused to wear pants, Sirius had burnt the coffee, and they had been running too late to brew another pot. It was a mess all around, so it really shouldn’t have surprised Remus when he got a phonecall from the preschool that they were trying to get Teddy into just a half hour before his first class started.
“Hello, is this Remus Lupin?”
“It is. May I ask who’s calling?”
“This is Tara from Hollow Nursery School. We’ve received an application for your son, and I’m calling to check whether or not you’re still interested in him attending our school.”
Remus’s brows furrowed.
“Yes, we’re still interested. Why, is there a problem?”
“All applicants were supposed to have scheduled a meeting with the head of the school by last Friday.”
Shit. Remus stood up and moved to look out of the window onto the courtyard. There were very few students mulling around. He leaned back on a student desk, the hand not on his phone tucked into his pocket.
“I’ve been meaning to follow up with you about that. We emailed the school about it last week, but we never got a response.”
“I believe that if you read the paperwork you were given, you were instructed to call to make an appointment.”
“Yes, I saw that, but the paperwork also stated that you were only available weekdays from nine to four, and I’m afraid that won’t be possible for my husband and I. Unfortunately, our jobs won’t allow us to meet with you at that time, which I can’t imagine is an uncommon problem. We emailed to see if there is any other time we could meet. The earliest we’d be able to do is three-thirty.”
“I’m sorry, sir, but, as the paperwork clearly stated, that isn’t possible.”
“It’s not possible for the head teacher to stay two hours later than usual to accommodate for a potential student?”
“Sir, if you and your partner can’t even find the time to come in for a short meeting, I doubt you’d be able to get involved with the community here. Maybe your son isn’t the best fit for our school.”
“But,” said the secretary continued, not giving Remus any time to respond, “it’s not too late for me to schedule you in for Wednesday at one.”
“As I’ve said, my husband and I are both working full time and that won’t be possible for us.”
There was a loud gasp, and Remus turned around to see one of his students standing in the doorway, eyes wide. He sighed and waved the girl in. She sat down at the desk closest to the door, putting her bag down beside her. She started playing with her bracelets, obviously filled with anxiety.
“Well, maybe you should consider if working full time is what’s best for your child,” said the secretary, and Remus closed his eyes for a moment, forcing himself to take a deep breath.
“You know what, I believe you were right. Your school certainly wouldn’t be a good fit for my son. Thank you for your call.” His tone was cool and flat, making it clear that their conversation was over. He hung up without waiting for a response.
He barely had the time to slip his phone back into his pocket before Penny Slader was standing up, still looking panicked, apologizing profusely.
“I’m really sorry, Mr. Lupin, I swear I didn’t know you were on the phone. It’s just that your door is normally closed anyways, and I wanted to see if you could help me with a paper that’s due in history today, and then I was waiting for you to turn around to see if you would be able to help or if you wanted me to leave, but I really wasn’t trying to hear anything…”
“Alright then, slow down,” Remus said, smiling a little in amusement. He checked his watch.
Penny was still waiting, looking at him, obviously worried.
“What’s your paper on, then? We only have twenty minutes.”
Penny still looked nervous, but a bit less so. She leaned over and unzipped her bag, digging around to find what she was looking for. She spoke as she searched.
“It’s on the Revolutionary War, but I really just wondered if you could check over spelling and grammar stuff? I can’t use a semicolon properly to save my life.”
“Remind me, who do you have? Mr. Potter or Mr. Black?”
Remus rolled his eyes.
“No wonder you want me to look over it. One spelling mistake and you’d lose half of the credit.”
Penny shrugged. “He only takes off points for that stuff because he doesn’t for anything else.”
“Maybe he should learn how to grade properly, then,” Remus replied, and Penny realized that didn’t want to go any further with that particular conversation.
Instead, she handed Remus a stapled copy of her essay, and he leaned over to snag a pen from his desk before sitting in the desk next to hers, propping his crutches on the desk behind him. He went through the paper, correcting minor errors. On occasion he would look up and ask Penny about her choice of phrasing, but that wasn’t often. It didn’t take him long to finish and hand back to her.
“Thank you so much. I’m sorry it was so last minute, but I’ve been working all week and I didn’t have a chance to write it until last night.”
“It’s not a problem for me. Are you going to have enough time to retype it before your class?”
“Oh, yeah, I have history after lunch.”
“Are you going to have enough time to eat lunch, then?”
She laughed. “I’ll be alright.”
She stood up and picked up her bag, essay still in her hand, but before she turned to go she very obviously hesitated.
“Do you need anything else?” He glanced up at the clock. There were only ten minutes left until his first class started, and he still wasn’t completely sure what he would be teaching.
“I, um.” She took a breath before starting again. “I’m not going to tell anyone about what I heard, I promise.”
“It’s fairly obvious that I don’t share much of my life outside of school with my students, but I haven’t been actively hiding that particular fact since I was sixteen.”
“Still, I won’t. It’s your choice what you want to tell people and what you don’t.”
Remus crossed his arms and smiled.
Penny glanced up at the clock.
“Shi—shoot. My next class is on the opposite side of the school, I should have left five minutes ago.”
“Let me know if you were able to finish the paper in time, yeah? I think I have your class last today.”
“Yeah,” she said, halfway out the door. “See you then.”
Remus stood up and pushed his chair in, navigating carefully so that his crutches wouldn’t get tangled up in the legs, and sat back down at his own desk. His day hadn’t even started yet and he was already exhausted. And he had to somehow create a lesson plan within five minutes.
He could already feel a headache coming on.
Later that day, during their lunch block, Sirius slumped across the hallway. He closed the door behind him as he entered Remus’s room, before groaning pathetically and flopping down into the chair behind Remus’s desk. Remus didn’t look up from whatever he was writing on the whiteboard, preparing for the next class.
“I’m quitting,” Sirius declared, quite seriously. Remus laughed.
“Yeah? What’re you going to do then? Stay home with Teddy all day?”
“What’s that supposed to mean? Of course I want to stay home with my son every day!”
Remus snorted. “Great. You can get potty training squared away while I’m at work.”
“Even that would be better,” Sirius muttered darkly. Remus finished what he was writing, capping the marker and setting it down, before he turned around. He leaned on a blank space of board behind him.
Sirius glared at him.
“Because at least he won’t bother me with questions all day about my marriage to my beautiful wife.”
Remus threw his head back and laughed, while Sirius scowled at him.
“It’s that bad, then?”
“‘M not speaking to Lily for a week.”
“Thought you wanted to punish her?”
If it was possible, Sirius glared at him even more ferociously.
Remus smiled fondly at him, crossing the room to kiss the top of his head.
Sirius looked at the clock over his shoulder and made a face.
“I’ve got a student coming in for help in five minutes. I should get back.”
“Who do you have?”
Sirius’s face looked sour.
“Have fun,” Remus said, not even trying to hide his smile.
Sirius heaved another great sigh, leaned over to peck Remus on the lips, and retreated to his own classroom. Remus heard his door shut firmly, and smirked down at the tests he needed to correct.
I mean, he felt for his husband, but it was kind of funny.
His last class filed out of the door, and in all honesty, Remus was more than ready to follow them. The classroom emptied until only Penny was left, still packing up her bag.
Instead of walking out behind the rest of the students, she paused at Remus’s desk. Remus had half a mind to tell her that he had a meeting he had to leave for, but the look on her face stopped him. She looked as if she was staring down her greatest fear. Remus could feel his eyebrows raising in concern.
“Is everything alright, Penny?”
“Yeah,” she answered quickly, “yeah, of course. I just wondered if I could talk to you about something.”
“What’s up?” Remus asked, putting on a more neutral expression. Her response had made him more concerned, if anything, but it had also shown him that she didn’t want him to make a fuss about it. He could do that for her, even if he couldn’t solve her problem.
“‘It’s about this morning,” she hedged.
“What about it?” Remus prompted when it was clear that she wasn’t saying any more.
“I didn’t know that you were…”
“That I was…?” It came out a bit sharper than he had intended. It had been a long day.
“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have stayed behind like this, you probably think I’m a freak. It’s just that I am, too. And…,” she paused like she was searching for words. “I don’t know what to do.”
Remus opened his mouth to reply, although he had no idea what he was actually going to say, but she spoke before he could.
“I just— I think I’m going to be kicked out soon and I don’t know what to do or who I’m supposed to ask for help.” It sounded as if she had powered through the sentence, rushing until the end.
Remus sat back in his chair. He hadn’t seen his afternoon taking this particular turn, but he did his best to keep up with it as best he could.
“Do you think it would be alright if we went to Mrs. Potter to see what she has to say?”
Penny looked confused, but she gave a slow nod. She followed Remus next door, where Lily was sitting at her desk, typing something on her computer. She might have been entering grades, but by the fact that she didn’t hear them open her door, Remus knew she was working on her book. He couldn’t help but smile at her as he knocked on the doorframe, stepping into the room with Penny following behind him. Lily jumped a little but looked up.
“Remus!” she said, smiling but looking a little puzzled. He would have normally already been on his way home. He stepped aside so Lily could see Penny, and she looked even more confused. He saw her glance up to the clock on the wall quickly before looking back at them. Remus closed the door behind them and leaned on it while Penny figeted next to him.
“Penny has a problem that I thought she might want to talk with you about.”
Lily looked to Penny for confirmation, and she nodded. Lily rolled her chair away from her desk and turned to face them.
“Mind if I stay?” Remus asked. Penny shook her head. Lily stood up to pull a chair from on top of the nearest desk, setting it down across from her. Penny sat down after a moment’s hesitation, while Remus had already taken the place of the chair.
“What’s up?” Lily asked, reaching to take a sip of coffee from the travel mug on her desk.
“Last night,” Penny started, but didn’t go any further. It took a second before she continued. “My mother walked in on my girlfriend and I skyping.” She looked hard at Lily, as if she were daring her to react. Lily just nodded for her to continue.
“I didn’t realize she was there at first, or I would’ve been more careful. I was able to convince her we’re just friends, but…"
“I’m not going to be able to stay there anymore and I don’t know what to do.” Penny was holding herself together, but barely. Her jaw was clenched and her hands were balled up into fists in her lap.
“You were in my class as a junior, right? Last year?”
The change of topic threw Penny for a moment, but she nodded.
“So you’re, what, eighteen?”
Penny shook her head.
“Seventeen. My birthday’s over the summer.”
“Did you know I have a sister?”
Penny looked confused again, but she went along with it, replying, “No, I didn’t.”
“She’s six years older than me. We were best friends when we were younger. When I was seven she was allowed to take me to the park down the street when our mom wasn’t home,” Lily smiled a little, “which was a very big deal at the time.”
“When I was sixteen, my mom died. She’d been a single parent since I was a baby. My sister, Petunia, had gotten married the year before, so I moved in with her and her husband. He had always been awful, but Petunia and I still got along fine. I was forced to eat dinner with them every night. Petunia and her husband would sit at one side of the table and I would sit at the other. Petunia would ask him about his day, and he would spend half of the meal talking about how he was the best at what he did and how much he had deserved the promotion because, after all, his coworker John and ‘people like him’ were stealing jobs from proper Americans.”
“Wow,” Penny said. Lily laughed.
“Precisely. For obvious reasons, I wanted to leave their house as soon as possible. I’d spend my free time looking for cheap apartments that I could rent once I’d turned eighteen,” Lily said, laughing a little at her younger self.
“But to do that I needed savings, so I got a job at a gift shop in a mall that was only a few minutes away from home. I’d work every day after school. It’s where I met Mr. Lupin, actually.”
“Yeah. He worked in the food court. What was the uniform you had to wear again, Mr. Lupin? A white and red striped shirt with godawful pink suspenders? Am I remembering correctly?”
Remus raised his eyebrows.
“Who was paid more?” he asked. “I can’t seem to remember.”
Lily rolled her eyes. Penny was looking between the two of them as if they had each grown an extra head.
“Anyways,” she said, “we had a friend who worked in the shop across from the one I worked in. Her name was Alice. She was a year younger than us. After we’d finished our shifts, we’d sneak into the movie theater at the far end of the mall and watch bad movies from the back row. Mr. Lupin’s shifts always ended too late for him to come with us.”
“Her parents had died a few years earlier, so we sort of bonded over that. At some point we started going to the movies even on the nights we weren’t working. It was really nice, for a few weeks.”
Penny cut in. “But you’re married to Mr. Potter now.”
“I am. Alice is married to a man too, actually. Their son is the same age as mine.”
Penny just looked at her, waiting for more.
“As it turned out, she was straight. When she was sixteen she wasn’t sure. I’d known I was bi for a few years, but I knew going into it that it might not last.”
“Anyways, her shifts started fifteen minutes before mine, so I would do my homework in the food court and then when she came in I’d walk her to her job before going to clock in for myself. One night I walked her to the entrance of the clothing store she worked in, just like usual. We said our goodbyes and I kissed her on her cheek. I turned around and saw my sister, who had most certainly seen me as well.”
“She’d never been to where I worked before. She didn’t see me on purpose, she was only there to pick up maternity clothing. So we both stood there, staring each other, and that’s how she found out that I liked girls and how I found out that she was pregnant.”
“She dropped her bags and walked over to me as quickly as she could. She grabbed onto my arm so hard I had bruises for the next few days. She called me… a lot of names. Loudly.”
“Mr. Lupin had taken an earlier shift that day and had just finished. He was walking to the parking lot when he heard Petunia, and he came over to see what was going on.”
“It was hard to ignore.” Remus said. “It sounded like a cat was being murdered.”
“He seemed to think that the best course of action was to pretend to bump into my sister and to spill his soda all over the both of them.”
“It was a good idea! What was she going to do? I was a sixteen year old with one leg who was wearing suspenders. And it worked, didn’t it?”
“That’s not the point.”
“I was the one covered in soda; if anyone should complain it’s me.”
Lily ignored him.
“Petunia left to dry off her dress in the bathroom. My boss had seen it all, and she gave me the day off. Mr. Lupin drove me to my house. Petunia hadn’t gotten home yet, so her husband didn’t know anything was different. I put everything that was important into a backpack and I left.”
“You just… left?”
Lily blushed a little at the obvious admiration in Penny’s voice.
“It wasn’t as daring as it sounds, I promise. I had only lived there for a few months, and I’d spent most of my time there planning how I would be able to move out. Besides, I knew that when Petunia got home I wouldn’t be able to live with them anymore. She might’ve let me, even if she never spoke to me while I was there, but her husband certainly wouldn’t.”
“Where did you go after that? If you were only sixteen, you couldn’t have lived by yourself yet.”
“I lived with Mr. Lupin and his mother until I finished high school, and then I got my own apartment after college.”
Penny was quiet. She’d been relatively calm while Lily had been talking, but in this new silence it was obvious that she was starting to panic again, even as she tried her hardest to hide it.
“My father’s coming home tomorrow night, Mrs. Potter. When my mother tells him what happened he won’t accept what I told her. There’s no chance he’s going to let me stay, and even if he does, I can’t imagine what would happen if I did. I don’t know what to do.” Her voice shook, but only for a second.
Lily sighed. “You should prepare for the worst. If you think you won’t be able to live there anymore, pack a bag. Keep it in your room just in case things go south. When you get home tonight see if there’s anyone you can stay with, even just temporarily. Try to only think about the logistics of it until it’s over. It’ll be easier to get through it that way.”
“I don’t— I don’t have anyone. My parents are my only family. I don’t have anywhere else to go.”
She was starting to get even more worked up. Lily put a hand on her arm.
“Are you, by any chance, dating Sophie Marksmith?”
Penny nodded, eyes a widening a bit. Lily smiled.
“I knew there was a reason she’s been happier. Anyways, check in with her, alright?”
“I’ve never even been to her house. Her parents might be just as bad about it as mine are.”
“Talk to her. If you can’t work anything out easily, tell Mr. Lupin, alright? We’ll make sure you have a place to go.”
Penny nodded again, starting to cry for the first time since she’d entered the room. Lily grabbed a tissue from off of her desk and handed it to her.
“Look, after everything that happened, I’m still here. I turned out alright. What you’re dealing with right now is awful, but it won’t always be, I swear.”
“Thank you,” Penny said, blowing her nose before playing with the hem of her shirt. “You don’t have to do all of this.”
“Stop. We aren’t doing anything you need to thank us for. And who knows?” Lily lowered her voice as if she were sharing a secret, “You might end up being the first person to learn the secrets of the mysterious Mr. Lupin.”
Remus snorted. “If you have any sense at all you’ll find someone who doesn’t live with a two-year-old.”
He checked his watch.
“Are you alright to go, do you think? The late bus leaves in five minutes but we could find you a ride home.”
“No, I’m fine. I just need to grab my bag. Thank you, both of you.”
“See you tomorrow, Penny,” Remus said. Lily was quiet, but offered her a small smile.
Once she’d left the room, Remus turned to look at Lily. She was smiling at him, now.
“What?” he asked, suddenly self-conscious.
“Petunia’s face when you dumped your soda on her.”
Remus smiled too.
Penny entered Remus’s classroom a few minutes into his prep block.
“I can leave,” she said upon entering, “but my next class is starting late and I wanted to ask you something and I knew you didn’t have a class right now.”
Remus, who was supposed to be creating his final exam, was more than happy for the distraction.
“What’s up?” he asked, pushing his computer to the side.
“Will I still be allowed on the trip?”
“Of course, why wouldn’t you be?”
“Well, I know we all room together. And I didn’t know that since I’m…”
Remus rolled his eyes. “As long as you’re not sneaking out to meet up with Sophie, we’ll have no problems.”
“Oh. Okay. Do you have any extra permission slips? I’m not sure where mine went.”
He looked for a one to hand her, before remembering that he’d given Tyler the last one he’d printed out. (The boy had lost three at this point.)
The nearest printer was in the main office, and it had been out of ink when he’d stopped in that morning.
“I need to grab one from Mrs. Potter,” he said, “I’ll be right back.”
“I can go,” Penny offered, but he waved her off.
“I need to ask her something about the final anyways.”
He left Penny in his room as he went next door. When stuck his head into Lily’s classroom she looked up from what she was working on.
“I have a question about the final.”
“Can you send me yours?”
Lily rolled her eyes at him.
“I promise I’ll make my own next year.”
Lily sighed. “Yeah, I’ll email it to you.”
“I owe you my life, Lily. When you get tired of James, I’ll even help you hide the body.”
She laughed a little. “Do you need anything else?”
“Yeah, actually. Do you have any extra permission slips? I have a student in my classroom who needs one.”
“Not that I know of,” Lily replied. “That doesn’t mean that I don’t, but if I do they’d at the bottom of this,” she gestured to the mess of papers and writing utensils that made up her desktop, “and you’d be better off going to someone else.”
“Hey,” Lily called, just as he was turning away. He didn’t step back into the classroom, but he turned to look at her. “Are you guys coming over for dinner tonight? Harry has a new soccer ball that he’s dying to show Teddy, even though we keep explaining to him that he won’t actually be able to play.”
“Yeah, we’ll be there. We’ll bring dessert.”
“So that we’ll have something to eat after dinner when Harry has decided that he doesn’t want Teddy touching his ball anymore and Teddy’s decided that the ball is his?”
“One day we’ll be able to make it through a meal without someone crying.”
“Nah. Even if the kids don’t, James will.”
Lily laughed. “See you at six, Remus.”
“See you,” he replied. He made his way to the door of Sirius’s classroom, knocking once before he opened it. Sirius, who had been in the middle of a lesson, stopped writing on his board to stare at him, not saying anything.
“I didn’t know you had a class this period,” Remus said as a greeting, noticeably not apologizing.
“What do you need, Lupin?”
“I’m out of permission slips, and Lily didn’t have any either.”
“Why didn’t you check with James?’
Remus gave him a look.
“We both know that James doesn’t have any permission slips in his classroom. None that he could find, at least.”
Sirius had to give him that, and pointed towards the stack on his desk.
“You know, we technically only need three teachers on this trip,” Sirius remarked, just to be obnoxious. Remus didn’t bother to answer. Out of the corner of his eye he could see the class’s reaction. He would bet that they were paying more attention than they had in any class that day.
“Your wife’s okay with you leaving for three days when you could stay home instead?” a curious voice asked. Remus couldn’t see who it was, but he rolled his eyes anyways.
“What wife?” someone muttered from the back of the room before he had a chance to answer the question (or, more likely, to deflect it). Remus looked over and frowned a bit. He hadn’t known Jacob Tayte was in this class.
Sirius had noticed too.
“Yeah, Lupin, what’s your imaginary wife think?”
“You’re writing on your board with permanent marker,” he responded innocently instead of answering the question. Sirius looked down at the pen he was holding and cursed. Remus took a permission slip off of his desk before turned back to his own room, smirking.
Remus walked back to his own room and handed the paper to Penny, who rushed off to get to her next class.
He spoke with Penny again when she stood next to his desk after class, playing with the strap of her bag. He was afraid she had bad news, and he was already going through a list of people that she could probably stay with. She waited for the last of the students to leave.
“Does Mr. Black know you’re gay?” she asked once everyone was gone. It was quite a question to start with, and Remus took a moment to make sure that his surprise didn’t show on his face. He leaned back in his chair, picking his words carefully. Penny waited patiently for his response.
“He does, yes. Why?”
Her brows lowered. “Does he have a problem with it?”
Remus’s did the opposite, raising nearly to his hairline. “Not at all. Why? Did he do something that made you think otherwise?”
Penny shook her head. “No, I guess not. I mean— It’s just that you went into Sophie’s class today, and she told me what happened, and what he’d said after he heard Jake.”
“Oh,” Remus said, finally realizing what she was worried about. “No, he was just referring to the fact that half of the school thinks that I’m not actually married at all. He’s a pain in the ass, but he’s not that bad.”
“Okay,” Penny said, “good. It’s just that Sophie and I stay in his classroom after school sometimes, and if he noticed something and wasn’t okay with it and told my parents…” she trailed off.
“He won’t.” Remus said decisively.
“Okay,” Penny said again, sounding much more confident. Apparently she trusted Remus, because she didn’t ask anything more before saying goodbye.
Remus was quite looking forward to Sirius’s reaction when he told him that a student thought he might be homophobic. Sirius, who had put that he was “the gayest of them all” in his senior yearbook.
Sirius woke up on Monday morning half an hour before his alarm went off. He groaned. It wasn’t worth it to go back to sleep, and now he’d be going on a trip with fifty teenagers on even less sleep than usual. He shoved his face into his pillow.
There was a soft banging on the door. He groaned again, quieter this time. So that was why he was awake. He consoled himself with the fact that Teddy had at least not jumped up onto the bed this time as he grabbed a shirt from the floor next to him and pulled it on, making sure not to wake the man sleeping beside him.
When he opened the door, he was greeted by wide eyes and tearstained cheeks. He made sure to close the door firmly behind him before he picked Teddy up and carried him out into the kitchen. He set the boy down on the counter and grabbed a towel from under the sink, wiping his cheeks. Teddy let him, staring up at him.
While normally he would have been babbling from the moment Sirius had opened the door, whatever had caused him to become so upset must have rendered him speechless.
When he was done, Sirius put the towel down and leaned both arms on the counter, one on either side of Teddy.
“What’s up, buddy?”
“My dinosaur…” the toddler mumbled.
Fuck. Something happening to that damned dinosaur that Teddy insisted on carrying everywhere would have caused hell by itself, but coupled with the fact that he and Remus were leaving Teddy with Andromeda for the next two nights? Fuck. And he was dealing with this as the sun rose. Fuck everything.
It all made him feel a little bit like crying, but instead he asked, “What happened to your dinosaur?” even though he didn’t really want to hear the answer.
At this point Teddy’s eyes were completely dry, and he was playing with the bottom of his pajama shirt. Sirius could tell that he was just trying to be dramatic, but he was tired enough to play along.
“The potty,” Teddy near-whispered.
Well. I could have been something worse, Sirius supposed, although he still had to shut his eyes for a few moments.
“Why was your dinosaur near the toilet?” he asked, already reaching for paper towels and a plastic bag. The question seemed to surprise Teddy enough that he forgot that he wasn’t speaking.
“I hadta go,” he said, as Sirius were the biggest idiot in the world. Sirius did his best to hold in a sigh, glancing at the clock over the oven to see how much time he had before they had to leave. (Just a bit under two hours.)
“Buddy, you’re wearing pull ups. You don’t need to use the bathroom before your father and I wake up.”
“No,” Teddy said, as lately it had become his favorite word. “Last night you said big boys use the potty.”
“You’re right,” Sirius countered as he lifted the boy off of the counter, “but they also make sure that one of their fathers is with them when they use the potty.”
Teddy huffed as if he couldn’t believe everything was coming back to him, but he followed Sirius to the bathroom anyways.
Sirius peered in, and was actually met with luck. It appeared Teddy had dropped his dinosaur in before he’d actually gotten to use the toilet. Sirius turned the bag inside out and used it to grab the toy before walking it into the laundry room and dumping it into the washer. As he turned it on, he heard Teddy step into the room behind him, bare feet padding against the tile floor.
“I want him tonight!” he said, and Sirius turned around to see him staring, horrified, at the rattling washing machine.
“We’ll get him back before we leave this morning,” Sirius promised, lifting the boy up and bringing him back into the kitchen, “for now let’s worry about breakfast.”
After all was said and done, Remus had been able to take Teddy’s stuffed animal out of the dryer as they were walking out of the house, and even though they had to drop him off at Andromeda’s, they arrived at the school a few minutes before the bus did.
They parked in the teachers’ lot behind the school, and as they got out of the car Sirius asked, “Can you just go without me this year?”
“If I have to do it, you have to do it,” Remus told him, retrieving his crutches from the backseat.
“So what I’m hearing is that I just have to find a way to get us both out of it.”
“Good luck with that.”
“It could be your anniversary present.”
“It could be my anniversary present for the next ten years.”
They walked through the doors together before heading into their own respective classrooms, each carrying their own overnight bag. Remus had to pick up a stack of essays to grade while they were on the trip, and Sirius just wanted to make sure that his room was in decent enough shape that the janitors wouldn’t leave (another) passive aggressive note while he was gone. The door between their classrooms was open, so Sirius could see that his best friend hadn’t had the same worry.
He walked out to find James and Lily standing next to the bus, a clipboard in each of their hands. Sirius clapped James on the back.
“Filch is going to do his best to get you fired while we’re gone,” he told him, referring to the head custodian. James rolled his eyes.
“Nah. McGonagall would miss my pretty face too much.”
“I came to wish you good luck on your trip,” a voice said from behind them, and James whipped around the see the principal herself.
Sirius couldn’t contain himself, and laughed at his friend’s expense so loudly the whole school must have heard it. Lily restrained herself a bit more, but couldn’t stop herself from smiling a little at the way James’s face was flushing red.
In all honesty, the man looked absolutely speechless. It wouldn’t surprise anybody if he was. McGonagall had been their old chemistry teacher when they attended the school, before she’d switched positions and they had come back as teachers. James still held fear for her and her detentions today.
“Good luck, Ms. Evans,” the woman said, and she turned and walked back into the building.
A line of students had built up as the teachers had been distracted, so it was a rush to get everybody signed in and onto the bus. They piled their luggage in the back seats, and the teachers sat in the front, leaving just enough space for each student to find a seat.
Sirius sat by the window, with James at his side. Across the aisle were Lily and Remus. Lily and James were turned towards each other, discussing how their daughter, Daisy, was doing in school. It was clear to anyone that James was worrying too much, but it occupied all of them for most of the trip. James was fussing, Lily was telling him that he was being ridiculous in new and increasingly more inventive ways, and Sirius and Remus were watching on in amusement. By the time the bus stopped at the camp and the doors were open, James still wasn’t finished. Sirius shoved him out of the seat anyways.
“Your turn for the speech this year,” Sirius reminded him, and James groaned. He picked up his clipboard from where it sat on top of his backpack and shoved the bag itself towards Sirius before standing up and turning to face the back of the bus.
“When we get off of this bus we’ll stay standing here for a few minutes. I’ll let you know what you should be doing, and while you listen we’ll take your bags out of the back of the bus and put them on the grass. You may only retrieve them when I am done speaking. If you try to slip away early, you’ll be sleeping in the teachers’ cabin, and Mr. Black snores, so I promise you it won’t be fun.
For that comment Sirius stuck his foot out and tripped him on his way out of the doors.
“We will be here for two nights,” James said, looking around to make sure he had everyone’s attention, “but if anyone needs to leave early, that can be arranged.” He looked at a particular group of boys in the back as he said it. One of them rolled his eyes, but James ignored it.
“If you’re taking a boat out on the water you must wear a life jacket, it’s the rules of the lake. If you’re seen without one you will most likely be dragged out of the water by the first lifeguard who spots you, and you won’t be allowed back onto the lake. So, essentially, you’ll be that kid.”
“Behind the cabins there are nets set up for volleyball and tennis. If you ask at the front desk they’ll lend you the equipment you need if you want to play. There are a few trails leading into the forest back there, too. We’re not allowed on all of them, but if you’d like to walk through trail one or trail two just let one of us know.”
“Now, cabins.” He read off their assignments, but didn’t dismiss them. “During the day, one of us,” he nodded towards the three other teachers, “will pop in every twenty minutes or so. I know, we’re terrible, but we want to be allowed to do this trip again next year. Overnight we obviously won’t be in as often, but you would be surprised how late I can stay up, and I’ve never made it to school before Remus Lupin. Do what you will with that information.”
“We gave you these assignments on purpose. We’ll notice if you switch with someone so you can be in the same cabin as your best friend. Don’t. It’s a hassle for all of us if you have to move in the middle of the night.”
“On the way to your cabin, grab a paper from Mrs. Potter. It has all of the information you need about meal times, and it has all of our phone numbers. Please put at least one into your phone. We’re trying to go at least one year with nobody lost in the woods for more than an hour.”
The group stared at James for a few seconds. He stared back. Both parties seemed to be expecting something of the other.
“Alright then, go ahead!” James finally said, once Remus had elbowed him in the side.
One student didn’t head to his cabin. Still carrying his bag, he walked up to Remus.
“Hm? What do you need, Tyler?”
“Are all of the teachers staying in the middle cabin?”
“And is that cabin exactly the same as the rest of ours?”
“So there’s only one room to sleep in.”
“That’s how they’re set up, yes. Why are you asking, Tyler?”
“Just wondering. See you later, Mr. Lupin!”
With that he jogged ahead to meet up with his friends, who started sniggering after he spoke to them.
“The hell was that?” James asked, coming up behind
“No idea. Hopefully nothing.”
James eyed him doubtfully. “Yeah, alright.”
“All I want is one year where we don’t have to send anybody home. Just one year.”
James laughed and clapped him on the back, grabbing his and Remus’s bags from the pile and walking up to their own cabin, expecting Remus to follow. He did.
Remus had just taken back his bag and put it at the foot of one of the single beds in the room when Lily came in. She immediately looked to him.
“Did you talk to Tyler Rhapson?”
“He’s currently taking bets on who will be sleeping on the bus, you or Sirius.”
James laughed at him for nearly a full minute, walking out of the door with tears in his eyes. Remus glared at him, but with no real heat behind it.
“You two are ridiculous,” Lily informed Remus after James had left.
“What? We haven’t done anything!”
“Really? Then why is the entire school convinced you two were enemies in a past life?”
“We don’t do anything! They draw their own conclusions!”
“And you don’t play it up at all?”
“Are you accusing Sirius Black of making something more dramatic than necessary?”
Lily laughed. “Go sit on the porch. You’re on cabin duty.”
“Seriously? Me? Why?”
Lily shrugged. “They’re all a bit scared of you. Maybe it’ll stop them from trying to sneak around.”
“You know Patrick is going to try and sneak into Nick’s cabin tonight, right?”
“Yeah, of course. James has been planning on how to scare him for weeks.”
“Did you hear them talking on the bus? They actually thought they had a chance of being roomed together.”
“Imagine the complaints we’d deal with.”
“Their roommates would have to physically hold them apart.”
Lily laughed again. “Because you and Sirius were so modest when you were eighteen.”
“Yeah, but back then it was political. We were allowed to be desperate teenagers because we were desperate teenagers who were gay, and us kissing was us making a statement.”
“Fuck off, you were just horny.”
“Yeah, that too.”
“Go on then, there’s a chair on the porch. Sirius is watching over the sports. James and I will be down by the lake.”
“Try not to drop your phone in this time, yeah?”
Lily shoved him through the door in response.
“Pushing the man with one leg, nice.”
Lily rolled her eyes.
“Sit down, Lupin.”
Sitting on the porch, Remus was right in the middle of the camp. The lake was to his right and the forest to his left, blocked by a group of girls playing volleyball and a group of boys hanging around them, obviously just there to watch and obviously trying to hide it.
He had a pile of papers in his lap, and he was going back and forth between grading them and watching the students out in the boats. He glanced over at the girls playing volleyball to see if any of the boys were still left, and even in just the few seconds he saw it was clear that one of the teams was losing spectacularly, to the point where it was almost sad.
Sirius evidently saw this too because, throwing a glance at Remus, he joined in on the game to help them.
At the end of the afternoon, Remus looked back down at his grading. He hadn’t gotten half as much done as he’d hoped. Of course, this had nothing to do with the fact that if he had his head tilted just so, he could see Sirius jumping for the ball out of the corner of his eye, and how as the game went on Sirius had pushed up his sleeves and wisps of his hair had come loose, framing his face so that it would glow if the sun caught it just right.
Nothing to do with that at all, he told himself, as he stood up to join everyone else for dinner.
Once it got dark they sat around a bonfire, packages of marshmallows being passed around. Most of the students were there, sitting in the few chairs that had been there or on the grass nearby. The fire pit was close enough to the shore of the lake that the grass was sandy.
“It’s every senior’s favorite time of the trip,” James announced after he’d had his own marshmallow.
“Why’s that?” a voice asked.
“Because it’s the time when, if you pester him enough, Mr. Lupin’ll tell you where his leg went.”
“It ran away,” the man in question remarked dryly. “Or rather hopped, I suppose.”
“Of course, you’re all sworn to secrecy,” James continued, as if Remus hadn’t spoken. “It’s a senior privilege. And if you tell someone else, we’ll have to tell your parents what you were doing when you were out on the boats.”
The teenagers were quiet for a moment.
“That’s blackmail.” a different voice eventually said.
“Yeah, and where’s your proof? And was that you, Avery? Wasn’t it just last week that I caught you threatening to tell on your sister if she didn’t do your homework?”
There weren’t any more protests.
“Fine,” Remus groaned. “It got bitten off by a wolf.”
Everyone was quiet for a moment, before one person started to laugh.
“No, really,” a new voice said.
Remus shrugged. “That’s what happened.”
“Come on, you’re not even going to elaborate?” Lily asked from across the fire. Noises of assent came from the students sitting around them.
Remus shrugged again. “I was six. I was bitten by a wolf. Now I have one leg.”
James threw a marshmallow at Remus’s head, but he moved to catch it in his mouth before it hit him.
“Go on, then, tell them why you were bitten.”
“I thought the wolf was interesting. She didn’t think the same of me.”
As hard as the students tried, that was all they could get out of them, and as they gave up and got tired the group became smaller and smaller.
Eventually they were left only a handful of people sitting around the fire. Each adult knew that they should be going to check in on the cabins, but none moved to get up. For the fifteen minutes prior the students had been asking about previous trips. One student had asked James if they’d ever brought Harry or Daisy with them, and the questions grew more and more personal from there.
Bill Weasley was sitting on the grass between two chairs. He was the only one left still roasting marshmallows, but he was still paying enough attention to the conversation to ask, “How long have you been married, Mr. Potter?”
“Eight years,” Lily answered for him.
“How old are you?”
“I don’t believe that that’s any of your business.”
“Okay, but how have you been married for eight years? How old were you when you got married?”
Lily looked at James, as if seeking help. Remus and Sirius both looked on, matching smirks on their faces.
James seemed to get into a staring contest with her, and when she let out a small sigh he answered.
“Oh my God,” Sophie said. Lily raised an eyebrow at her.
“I’m sorry, but can you imagine getting married to someone in a year?” she asked the boy sitting next to her, who looked panicked at the mere thought.
Remus and Sirius shared a glance, and Remus had to look back down to avoid laughing out loud.
Nick Burbank saw Remus’s struggle and turned on him.
“What about you then, Mr. Lupin? How old were you?”
“Yeah, Mr. Lupin,” James echoed, crossing his arms triumphantly. Remus rolled his eyes.
“When Mr. and Mrs. Potter got married? Nineteen.”
“No,” said Nick, persistent. He looked to Patrick, who was sitting beside him, but the other boy looked just as eager, so he continued. “How old were you when you got married?”
“As far as I know, I’m not required to share that information with any of you.”
There was an anticipatory silence, and Remus sighed.
“You got married before you even graduated college?” Sophie asked. Penny, who was sitting behind her, tugged on a strand of her hair. Sophie didn’t seem to notice.
“It’s worked out so far.”
“I’m still not convinced he even has a wife,” someone muttered.
“I heard that, Jacob.”
The boy in question looked thoroughly panicked, and excused himself to his cabin for the night. Penny moved into the spot next to Sophie that he’d vacated. After she’d gotten settled she asked the first question she had all night.
“You’re married too, right, Mr. Black? How old were you?”
“Older than the rest of you lot,” he gestured towards where Lily and James were sitting together, “as I had some sense.”
Remus rolled his eyes.
“Alright, tell them how old you were,” he challenged.
Sirius glared at him.
“The height of maturity,” Remus commented dryly.
“Why don’t you wear a ring, then, Mr. Black?” another student asked.
“I do,” he said, pulling at a string that hung around his neck before disappearing under his shirt. “After I lost it for the third time I figured it would be safer here.”
“What I want to know,” Tyler announced, “is if the kid on Mr. Lupin’s board is his son.”
Remus sighed, taking a sip from his water bottle.
“And his hair is blue.”
“And he’s a baby.”
“A toddler, yeah.”
There was silence for a moment.
“Why the hell is his hair blue,” a voice asked, with the bravery that came from sitting in the back and knowing that they wouldn’t be identified. James stifled a laugh, although not well enough, as Lily still gave him a look.
“His cousin thought that it would be funny to dye it while she was babysitting, and then he liked it.”
“So you dye your toddler’s hair.”
Remus shrugged his shoulders.
“I don’t dye it.”
“Well then your wife dyes his hair, same difference.”
Remus was saved from having to reply as a shriek was heard from one of the girls’ cabins. It sounded like it was caused by excitement, but Lily had made that mistake before. She stood up slowly from where she’d been sitting on the sandy grass, stretching her arms over her head.
“We should all probably head in anyways, it feels late.” She looked to James. “What time is it?”
He looked at his watch and his eyes widened.
“Quarter to midnight.”
Remus retrieved his crutches from where they were propped on the side of his chair and stood up as well.
“You all were supposed to have your lights out nearly an hour ago and honestly, all you’ve done today is rowed boats or played on the tennis courts. I don’t know how you’re still awake, but if you don’t go to sleep soon tomorrow won’t be fun.”
The students stood up one by one at first, clearly not wanting to move from where they had made themselves comfortable. James busied himself with putting the fire out, and after having a silent conversation, Remus headed to check that everyone was getting into bed in the girls’ cabins and Lily did the same for the boys’.
They’d discovered within the first two years that it was best to send Lily in to check on the boys. It seemed to make them more motivated to be decent the entire time they were on the trip. She would have gone into the girls’ too, but it was late and all that they cared for was efficiency.
Remus waited for everyone to enter their respective cabins before he followed them up the hill, Lily and Sirius walking behind them.
“I’ll get the beds ready,” Sirius said once they reached the row of buildings, entering the cabin directly ahead as Remus and Lily went in opposite directions.
James was still down by the fire, but they didn’t need to ask him what he would be doing. His job was consistent throughout the years. They needed someone to monitor the cabins that had a high chance of escapees, and it had turned into a game for him to come up with cleverer and cleverer ways to catch them each year.
The year’s group was pretty tame. There was only one couple James knew would try to meet up, and they were in neighboring cabins. He made his way to the forest and crouched inside the shrubbery, positioning himself so that he was in looking through the gap between the buildings. Once he’d found the perfect spot, he sat down criss-crossed. The waiting was the worst part, but he’d gotten better at it over the years.
Finally he heard a voice coming towards him. And then another. He rolled his eyes. They had actually thought it would be a good idea to both sneak out?
“Just think about it.”
James stayed quiet, still hiding. He would obviously have to deal with the situation, but he was too curious to do so right away.
“I guess. I think that’s a really far stretch though, Pat.”
“C’mon, it makes sense! We know they’re both around the same age now, ‘cause Mr. Lupin is around the same age as Mrs. Potter and we know Mr. Black and Mr. Potter graduated in the same class. Plus they both got married around the same time, which can’t be a coincidence. They would have both wanted the Potters in their weddings, ‘cause Mr. Lupin and Mrs. Potter were friends before they started working, remember? And Mr. Potter and Mr. Black have been friends since middle school. So they’d’ve known that they were both having weddings at the same time and they would’ve had to work around that so that the Potters could be involved in both. All we know about Mr. Lupin is that he’s married and has a kid, and we know fuck all about Mr. Black. We didn’t even know he was married until Rhapson found out a week ago! No way they’d keep their lives that secret if they weren’t hiding something. And come on, Nick, you can’t honestly tell me you think Mr. Black is straight.“
Patrick sounded almost giddy with excitement, like he’d just discovered the greatest secret in the universe. James himself felt pretty giddy listening to him, and he could feel himself smiling madly. He knew Patrick was his favorite student for a reason.
“I dunno, babe. You kind of sound as crazy as Jake.”
James had had enough. For one thing, his conscience was finally catching up with him and reminding him that spying on two teenage boys was a morally reprehensible thing to do. For another, he was having trouble holding back his laughter and his legs were starting to cramp. He shifted where he was sitting, causing the bushes around him to rustle loudly.
The boys didn’t notice.
“I should break up with you for saying that.”
“Yeah? I think you’d miss me too much.”
Okay. James definitely needed to put a stop to this.
“It sure is boring waiting behind this bush,” he said loudly, with an exaggerated sigh.
The boys went silent, staring at each other, wide-eyed. They looked like they were frozen to the spot in their panic.
“I mean, I know that Patrick will try to sneak over to Nick’s cabin, because those boys are predictable as hell, but I wonder how long I’ll have to wait?”
They didn’t seem to get the hint.
“I hope Patrick goes over alone, though,” James continued, “Because if I were to somehow catch him and Nick together, I’d obviously have to assume the worst and call their parents to pick them up.”
They still stood together, looking at each other in panic. James rolled his eyes.
“So when I stand up in five seconds, I hope I don’t catch them doing anything stupid that would ruin the trip.”
The boys bolted for their respective cabins, not looking back. They were making such a racket, James was surprised nobody else woke up.
James himself stood up slowly, and whistled as he made his way back to his own cabin.
Inside, Lily and Sirius were getting the beds ready for the night. Remus was still outside checking on the girls’ cabins.
James flopped down onto the two beds that he and Lily would sleep on.
“I think this is going to be my favorite trip ever,” he announced. Lily threw his pillow on top of him before moving to help Sirius push another set of beds together.
“I just heard the most amazing conversation,” he continued, even though neither Lily nor Sirius had encouraged him.
Lily walked over and leaned on top him to reach into her bag and find her pajamas.
“Eavesdropping on students again?” she asked.
“Barely,” James replied, “and this time you’ll agree that it was worth it.”
Her curiosity got the best of her.
“What did you hear, then?”
“Nick and Patrick…” he paused for dramatic effect.
“What, Prongs?” Sirius was looking through his own bag. James was unsatisfied with the lack of attention, but he continued speaking anyways.
“They think that you and Remus are married.”
Both Sirius and Lily looked up from their bags and stared. James smiled smugly, and when Lily noticed she looked away again.
“The truth comes out at last,” she deadpanned, pulling out her toothbrush. James could see that she was smirking slightly, but it was mostly hidden.
“How the fuck,” Sirius started, but he was interrupted by Remus opening the cabin’s door.
“The girls in the fourth cabin seem to have purchased the entire vending machine, so expect them to be a mess tomorrow,” he informed them. They just looked at him. James had a shit-eating grin on his face, and Lily was keeping hers carefully neutral. Sirius looked as if he had been hit by a bus.
“What?” Remus asked, looking at them all.
“Nick Burbank and Patrick Tylers have come up with the theory that you and Sirius are married,” Lily said carefully, watching for his reaction closely.
“Huh,” Remus said, his eyebrows raised. “Well, looks like we’re going to have to deal with that at some point,” he continued, this time looking at Sirius, who hummed in assent before flipping back the covers. Remus tossed his clipboard onto one side of the bed, clearly marking the spot as his own.
“You’re still going to sleep in the same bed?” James asked, as if it were incredulous.
Remus and Sirius looked at each other.
“That was the plan, yeah,” Sirius said. If possible, James’s eyes got even wider.
“What if one of the students looks in and sees you two together?”
“I’d probably have a bigger problem with them watching me sleep,” Remus replied, walking into the bathroom and effectively ending the conversation.
“Hey!” Lily called after him, “I was going in there!”
“You guys are no fun. It’s exciting! You should be sneaking around, making sure you don’t get caught! Now you’re just being lazy.”
“Get your own secret relationship and you can do whatever you want,” Sirius answered, preoccupied with tying up his hair.
James’s face lit up, but Lily spoke before he could.
“How did this go from being the best trip ever to being the worst?” James asked the room, but nobody bothered to reply.
When they got to breakfast the next day, it was obvious that Patrick hadn’t kept his theory to himself. Everyone who was already sitting down stared at Remus as he walked in with Lily, and then at Sirius twenty minutes later when he came down with James.
It was made clear after, as well. Where Remus had sat alone on the porch a day before, he was now surrounded by students pretending to study for their finals. There was hardly anybody out on the lake, because they were all busy standing around holding volleyballs or tennis rackets, just so that they’d have an excuse to be up with Mr. Black.
By the early afternoon the crowd around the two teachers had thinned out, leaving barely anybody sitting by Remus and the only people who were near Sirius were actually playing together.
That’s where Sirius was, standing with his back to the sun and watching four boys play tennis, when someone came up beside him.
“It’s true, right?”
Sirius pushed his sunglasses up into his hair and squinted down at the girl next to him.
“You’re gonna have to be more specific, Penny.”
“About you and Mr. Lupin,” she explained impatiently.
Huh. Sirius hadn’t expected anyone bold enough to actually ask about it. He raised an eyebrow at her, but she just looked back at him expectantly.
“Come on, Penny, you’re smart,” he said, trying to get her to see the ridiculousness of what she’d asked.
“I know. That’s why I didn’t ask Mr. Lupin. He’s better at lying than you are.”
He didn’t know what to say to that, and in the time it took him to think of a response his silence had already answered the question.
“Oh my God,” he said, rubbing a hand down his face.
“Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone. It just made sense so I wanted to be sure.”
“Actually,” she continued after a moment’s pause, sounding thoughtful. “It makes a lot of sense. No wonder you didn’t seem surprised when you found out I was gay. He already told you, right?”
Sirius was about to reply to her (and attempt to end the conversation. As quickly as possible.) when a loud voice cut through their conversation.
“Penelope Margaret Slader!”
Penny huffed and rolled her eyes, but she couldn’t hide her smile as Sophie came up behind her and slung an arm around her shoulders.
“Are you harassing our fine teacher here? He is here to chaperone, not to be bothered with silly questions from his students.”
Penny rolled her eyes again, while Sirius looked at Sophie, eyes narrowed, trying to figure out what she was doing.
“She really wants a good grade on the final,” Penny explained. Sirius laughed as Sophie swatted her girlfriend on the head. Penny wasn’t able to say anything else, however, as Sophie linked their arms together and dragged her away towards the trails.
“We’re going on a walk, Mr. Black!” she called back, flashing him a dazzling smile that he raised his eyebrows at. He saw Penny shove her with her shoulder before they disappeared behind the trees.
Sirius looked up to see that Remus was looking at him. He assumed that he’d seen the entire encounter by the way that his husband was laughing at him.
What a prick.
The bonfire was quieter than it had been the night before. This was due to two things: Firstly, Nick and Patrick were competing to see who could eat the most s’mores by the end of the night, and everyone around them was watching the couple carefully, ready to jump away at the slightest sign of someone getting sick. The rest of the group was busy staring at Remus and Sirius, who were sitting on opposite sides of the fire.
A group of girls in the back were whispering together and giggling loudly before glancing up at Remus, and he shifted uncomfortably in his seat.
Lily and James were both involved in conversations with the students sitting around them, but Sirius caught the pained look on Remus’s face and knew what he had to do.
He snuck up behind James and, as quietly as he could, he reached down. He was slow and careful until he thought he’d gotten close enough, and then he grabbed James’s glasses from off his face and sprinted away as fast as he could.
“Oi!” James yelled, attempting to chase after him. He tripped over the leg of Remus’s chair, but he caught himself before he fell and was soon down on the sand running after Sirius, who was getting dangerously close to the water.
Lily shook her head but smiled at them. She had gotten used to it, it always happened on the trip at some point or another.
“Potter!” Sirius yelled, and he threw the glasses as best he could towards Lily. They were much too far apart, and he overestimated how hard he needed to throw them. The glasses sailed over Lily’s head, and there was a collective gasp from the students who were now watching the scene with rapt attention.
Lily caught the glasses just before they landed in the fire, and James ran as fast as he could to stand beside her. The students sitting between them parted ways quickly, giving him a path so that they wouldn’t be run over. Sirius still stood next to the lake, choosing to watch the rest from the sidelines.
James was panting and trying to catch his breath as he leaned down and stuck his hand out for Lily to give him his glasses back. She made as if she was going to, before throwing them over the fire to Remus. James looked at her in shock, as if she had committed the ultimate betrayal.
Remus, seeing that James was distracted, threw them for one of the students in the back to catch. Someone did, and they were gone again by the time James had made his way over to Remus, still out of breath.
“Where are they?”
“Where are what?”
James narrowed his eyes, looking two seconds from murder.
“Where are my glasses?” he asked again, enunciating each word.
“Don’t know where they went,” Remus told him, shrugging his shoulders. James looked at him a second longer before figuring out what had happened. He turned around to face the group.
“Unless I get them back within the next three seconds, I’m going to accidentally misplace the final essay belonging to the person I catch hiding my glasses.”
Someone sighed before a hand went up, holding them by the bridge of the nose. James leaned over and plucked them from the boy who held them, putting them firmly back onto his face. He looked down at his watch.
“It’s nearly eleven anyways, all of you should be getting back to your cabins.”
“Aw, Mr. Black,” someone groaned, “you made him grumpy.”
James glared at the general area the voice had come from.
“Bed,” he repeated, and everyone complied. Most were tired, anyways. It had been a long two days.
All four teachers did cabin checks, Lily and Remus taking the boys’ and James and Sirius taking the girls’. When they were done and entering their own cabin James followed them in and Sirius turned around, surprised.
“You aren’t going to keep an eye on Nick and Patrick?”
“After I caught them talking about you guys I highly doubt they’ll be risking it again.”
“Besides,” Lily said, yawning, “what we don’t know won’t kill us. It’s not like either one of them can get pregnant.”
Remus had already made his way inside the bathroom and was getting ready for bed.
“Are we doing this again next year?” Sirius asked as he pulled his toothbrush out of his bag.
“Hell no,” James groaned, although it was muffled due to the fact that he had flopped face-down into bed.
“I’m not brushing my teeth,” Lily announced, lifting the blanket on her side of the bed to force James to roll over. “I’m just going to sleep.”
“Evans, you’re wearing jeans.”
“Fuck off, Black, I’m sleeping.”
James was, too, still fully clothed and lying on top of the covers.
Remus exited the bedroom, took a look at them, and looked to Sirius with his eyebrows raised. Sirius shrugged and rolled his eyes, but there was a fond smile on his face as he passed Remus to take his turn in the bathroom.
They were both in bed within the next ten minutes, legs tangled together and Sirius’s hair lying across Remus’s pillow. It didn’t take them long to fall asleep, both exhausted by the days they’d had.
The next morning was spent packing up their belongings and checking to make sure each of the cabins were clean. Everyone piled back onto the bus in the early afternoon, girls with their unwashed hair pulled up into ponytails and at least one boy who seemed to have been wearing the same shirt since the day they had arrived. Lily made sure all of the luggage was placed in the back few seats, but she mainly took that job so that all she would have to do was stand in the bus and wait for it to fill up. James took attendance quickly, and soon enough the bus driver pulled out of the parking lot.
The bus ride was certainly quieter than the one two days before had been. There were a lot of people sleeping on the way home, James included. His head had slumped down onto Lily’s shoulder, and she arranged herself so that she would be more comfortable before falling asleep as well.
Remus and Sirius, who happened to be sitting together on the ride back, stayed awake to monitor the rest of the bus. The didn’t have to reprimand anybody. Most people were too busy watching the back of their heads, waiting for a sign to show if Tyler had been right. Sirius had wedged himself in the corner while Remus sat on the edge of the seat, so the curious onlookers didn’t have much to work with. From their perspective they couldn’t see how the men’s legs tangled together in the middle.
They got back to the school just as the last class of the day was getting dismissed. Lily and Remus got off of the bus first, stationing themselves next to the door to make sure that once everyone was out they made their way to their cars, while James and Sirius headed to the back of the bus to distribute the luggage.
Some of the students looked genuinely sad as they said goodbye to Remus and Lily on their way off of the bus. It was Wednesday afternoon, and even though they would have classes on Thursday and Friday, they’d only be reviewing the material they were already taught. It wouldn’t be the same. The next week was barely a school week at all. They only had finals on Monday and Tuesday, and then graduation was on Friday. It seemed to be really sinking in that their highschool years were almost over.
It was a bit bittersweet for their teachers, too, but that feeling was overshadowed by their exhaustion and their dread of going home to energized children when all they wanted to do was head straight to bed.
Remus and Sirius took one car to graduation, with Teddy in the backseat. Sirius needed to dye his hair again soon. A good centimeter of brown was showing, and if he let it get too long Teddy would throw a tantrum.
They walked into the event together, as well, although in the mass of people nobody noticed.
They had to sit apart as they sat with their department. Sirius took Teddy with him, and he sat on James’s lap throughout most of the ceremony. It was a miracle that he and Daisy made it through the ceremony. Even Harry looked ready to doze off by the end.
Even though it was over, Sirius was fully expecting to be there for another hour at least. There would be parents wanting to talk about final grades and students wanting to say goodbye. It was always his least favorite part of the school year, so he took Teddy from James before he made his way out of the auditorium, walking beyond the crowd.
He had just reached a tree that he thought he might sit under to let Teddy play with the grass when someone spoke behind him, making him jump.
“Hiya, Mr. Black!”
Sirius swung around to see Tyler Rhapson standing in front of him with a smug grin. It was his last day seeing the boy and yet he still managed to get on Sirius’s nerves.
“Jesus Christ, Tyler, why aren’t you with your parents?”
Tyler didn’t answer. His eyes had widened once Sirius had turned around, and he was too busy focusing on the boy that he held in his arms.
“That’s Mr. Lupin’s son.”
Sirius nodded. “It is.”
“What’re you doing with him?”
He was about to answer, but Teddy spotted something over his shoulder and squealed.
“Look, Daddy! Balloons!”
Sirius turned his head and gasped dramatically.
“Wow! Do you know what colors the balloons are?”
“Red and yellow.” Teddy sounded absolutely certain of himself, in the way only a two-year-old can.
“Which do you like better, then? The red ones or the yellow ones?”
Teddy had to think hard for a long moment. But, just as he was about to answer, a squirrel ran down a tree and his eyes widened at that instead.
Tyler had been silent throughout the whole exchange, watching them wordlessly, but he seemed to suddenly snap back into reality.
“You’re his father.” It wasn’t a question, but he said it as if he were daring Sirius to disagree. His eyes were as wide as saucers.
“And Mr. Lupin is his father.”
“So you and Mr. Lupin are…”
Sirius finally took pity on the boy.
“Go on then,” he nodded towards the mass of graduates and their parents. “We both know you’re dying to run and tell Nick and Patrick they were right.”
Still wide eyed, Tyler nodded and did as he was told.
Remus emerged from the crowd just as Tyler disappeared into it, and he made his way to Sirius’s side. He bumped their shoulders before taking Teddy from him.
Teddy tried desperately to show him the balloons, too, until he saw Lily standing a few feet away, talking to a parent. His face lit up, and he called out to her. Lily looked around for the source of the voice, before excusing herself from her conversation and joining them.
“Hi Teddy!” Lily responded to the boy’s frantic waving, looking at his parents questioningly.
“Andromeda isn’t feeling well,” Remus explained. “We just found out this morning.”
“You couldn’t find anyone else?”
“It was either bring him or have Dora babysit, and this seemed like the safer option.”
“She can’t make his hair any bluer,” Lily reasoned.
“Have you ever tried to dye a two-year-old’s hair?” Sirius asked, shooting her a dirty look that Lily raised her eyebrows at.
“Oh, so it’s more about the fact that you haven’t forgiven her for it?”
Remus smiled faintly, and Sirius’s scowl deepened.
“I’d forgive her if she was the one trying to keep him from having a blue neck every few months,” he muttered.
Another parent came up to get Lily’s attention, and she glanced at them apologetically before she stepped away. Teddy watched her go, fascinated.
“Was that Tyler I saw?” Remus asked, happy to let Teddy distract himself.
Sirius snorted as he nodded.
“We should probably escape before the entire grade has found out,” he said, reaching over to brush a stray lock of hair out of Teddy’s eyes.
“Probably,” Remus agreed, “but there are parents who will call us if we disappear, and then we’ll never be rid of them.”
“Fine. But I’m taking Teddy and hiding by the food.”
“Go for it.”
James caught up to him before he’d made it to the long table, holding Daisy in one arm and holding Harry’s hand with the other. The children were ecstatic to see each other, Harry and Daisy because it made them feel old to be around such a baby, and Teddy because he liked to play with Daisy’s toys and Harry’s glasses.
James looked about as done with the event as Sirius was, and Remus watched them head to the parking lot, where James had no doubt smuggled half of the toy box into the trunk of his car for this very reason.
Remus stayed where he was, congratulating students as they walked by, but generally just standing on the outskirts and watching. Nobody was brave enough to bring up what Tyler had told them.
In fact, while Penny came up to give Remus a hug and a knowing smile before leaving to join Sophie and her parents, few other people stopped to talk to him, although plenty stared. It made sense. After all, he was a bit terrifying.