PG, 2700 words
Gen, really. Bit of James/Lily, bit of something else.
Summary: James goes to meet Lily's family in Surrey, and the Marauders accompany him. Fireworks ensue!
James was sitting in his parents' living room, flapping. 'Are you sure we shouldn't be there already? What if there's a problem?'
'James,' Sirius said, 'we are Apparating there. It will take all of about five seconds. Now will you please just relax? Here, have a drink.'
James gulped down a glass of wine gratefully (and very quickly, to Sirius' slight alarm).
'Now, what are you so worried about anyway?' Sirius asked. 'They're just Muggles, come on!'
'Not just any Muggles,' James explained, 'Muggles Lily cares about! Muggles that could hate me, and then that would be it, it would all be over.'
'Oh Jamie,' Sirius began, and was relieved to see a familiar angry flash at the childish nickname, 'don't be silly. Who could fail to warm to you?'
James' mum poked her head around the door. 'Now, James, are you sure you've got everything? Get your coat, you don't want to be late!'
James gave Sirius a look. 'You see?'
'Ok! Let's go and get there stupidly early, if it'll make you happy.'
James bounced up, and flew around the house, spending a particularly long time in front of the mirror sorting out his hair. Sirius listened to his pounding footsteps and just laughed. He sent quick owls out to Peter and Remus: The stag is on the move. All wildlife to report to destination.
James re-appeared, and Sirius gasped in horror. 'Your hair! Your beautiful locks of hair! What have you done?'
James looked sad. 'I've flattened it. Lily told me not to look like a reprobate.'
'Bet she didn't tell you to look like an accountant, though! Pull yourself together, Prongs.'
After a moment's hesitation, James' hand went in reflex to his hair, returning it to its usual hedgerow-backwards self. Sirius nodded, and soon they were Apparating away.
They landed on a muddy field in Surrey, and it was freezing. Sirius looked up at the sky dismally - it looked like rain. 'See, Prongs, there's barely anybody here yet!'
James looked a bit sheepish. 'Well, at least we're here in plenty of time.'
'Alright, granny, let's go and see if the fair Evans has arrived yet.'
They trooped into the pavillion, already caked in a good layer of mud. In the corner, Lily was talking to various people, including two people Sirius guessed had to be her dad and her sister. Mr Evans was looking just as jolly as they'd surmised from Lily's tales of his escapades over the years, and Petunia was even more sour-faced than Sirius could have imagined, as he watched her glower at Lily with intense dislike. Sirius began to feel some pretty intense dislike too.
Lily saw them, and rushed over to them with a beaming smile. 'Sirius! Hello there! Suppose I shouldn't be surprised to see you, really.'
James laughed. 'No no, the whole gang's making an appearance.'
'Fantastic,' Lily said. 'Right then, come and meet the dreaded relations! They don't bite, unless my sister's having a really bad day.'
With a quick, deer-in-the-headlights glance at Sirius, James got led off, and Sirius followed along for the sport.
'Dad,' Lily said brightly, 'this is James, and his friend Sirius!'
Mr Evans smiled warmly. 'Hello James,' he said in a booming voice, and walked over to shake his hand. 'And sorry, lad, didn't quite catch your name there - your lot do have the most peculiar ones sometimes!'
Sirius laughed. 'Si-ree-us, sir. Like the star.'
'And you must be Petunia,' James said in his most charming tones, walking over to kiss her on the cheek. Petunia just scowled, but allowed the courtesy.
Sirius rushed to follow suit, but decided to go a step further. Bending one knee, he clasped Petunia's hand and brought to his lips. She looked afraid, and Sirius was satisfied. He could hear Lily snigger quietly in the background, whilst her dad looked bemused.
'Wizarding custom, you see - we like the old traditions,' Sirius whispered in Petunia's ear, and her look got even filthier.
Seemingly ignoring his older daughter, Mr Evans clapped his hands together. 'Well, it's just lovely to meet you both. Of course, from all Lily tells me this'll be nothing like the sort of displays you're used to, but I hope you might like our little village fireworks all the same.'
James was getting into his stride now. 'I'm sure it will be wonderful - this is such a charming place.'
Sirius caught Lily's eye, and they both started giggling. James quickly flicked Sirius the finger behind his back.
'Hello, mates!' called a chirpy voice from across the field.
'Wormtail!' James looked delighted. 'Happy New Year, my good man.'
Peter strolled over, waving cheerily at Mr Evans, who smiled back. Then he looked at Petunia. 'Oh, are you Lily's sister?' he asked with great interest. She nodded reluctantly. 'You look nothing like I'd expected, from what Lils has said!'
Oblivious to the death glares he was receiving from all sides, he walked next to her and whispered something in her ear, causing the faintest ghost of a smile to escape out for a moment. Now Sirius, Lily and James exchanged looks.
'If you'll excuse me for a sec,' Lily said, 'I'd better go and check Mrs Neil's alright to start the fireworks soon - she's a bit doddery these days, bless her, but wouldn't dream of letting anyone else do them!'
Sirius glanced as his watch. 'Remus shouldn't be too long now, then we'll have the full set.'
'Remus?' said Mr Evans with considerable delight. 'Like Romulus? Tell me, what's his surname?'
'Err,' said James, 'he's called Remus Lupin.'
Mr Evans laughed. 'Don't tell me he's a werewolf or something equally exciting? He must be, surely, with a name like that?'
All of Sirius' internal panic stations were about to go to red alert when Remus himself turned up and saved them all. 'Hi everyone, sorry I'm late!' he said brightly, trampling across the field in the sensible wellingtons everyone else had forgotten to bring.
James grinned hugely, mostly in relief. 'We expect nothing less - good to see you! Come, meet the Evanses.'
'An honour,' Remus said as he shook hands all around.
'Let's go find seats, shall we?' Mr Evans led them all over to a long bench on the porch, where a woman bustled over and insisting on getting them all hot chocolate, growing boys that they were. Petunia managed to successfully escape them, and Sirius saw a greasy-haired man, who can't have been more than twenty but already had the most appalling mustache, make a bee-line for her as she chatted to a girl her age.
'So,' began Mr Evans, looking at James, 'how long have you been seeing my daughter?'
James coughed a little nervously. 'A few months. I think she rather warmed to me when I got the Head Boy badge.'
Mr Evans laughed. 'Ah yes, that's my girl - always aiming high! Professor Dumbledore clearly approves of you, so that's good enough for me.' He lowered his voice so that Sirius had to strain to hear. 'You do realise, of course, that if you hurt my daughter in any way I will ensure you never have children.'
Sirius would have expected James to look terrified at that, but instead he just nodded. 'Of course - it's only what I'd deserve.' He in turn lowered his voice. 'I'd probably want to do it myself if it came to that.'
Impressed, Sirius left the two of them to it, turning to Remus and Peter. 'How've you two been? Good Christmases?'
Polite conversation ensued - there were Muggles in earshot, after all - and it transpired that Peter had been drowning in relatives for the past fortnight, whilst Remus and his mum had had a lovely quiet affair, thank you very much. Sirius regaled them with tales of the Potters' antics, such as when Mrs Potter had had a bit too much sherry and danced on the table for a good ten minutes while James attempted to disappear into a hole in the ground somewhere.
After a few minutes, Lily came rushing back, and as James was still in deep conversation with her dad, she turned to the other three. 'Bit of a problem here, I'm afraid! Mrs Neil has somehow managed to, well, misplace all of the fireworks.' She looked around her a little despairingly. 'I always forget how hopeless these people are. Oh, you couldn't fix something up, could you?'
Sirius glanced at the other two, who were already patting pockets with wands discreetly tucked away. 'Marauders to the rescue? I like the sound of that!'
'Thank you, thank you. I'll stay put and man the fort.'
'We'll have to take Prongs too, you realise.'
Lily waved an arm. 'Oh, have him, I don't care.' She laughed. 'I'm expecting something spectacular, you know!'
Sirius scooted over on the bench. 'So sorry, sir, I'm afraid we're going to have steal away young James here for a bit - business calls! Enjoy the fireworks.'
Bemused but trusting, Mr Evans waved them off, Sirius filling James in as they traipsed across the field.
Nodding, James sprang into action. 'Right then. Moony, you're on charmer duty - go find Mrs Neil and convince her we're going to take over. Sit her down with a nice cup of tea, then report back. Wormtail, go scout out the terrain, find anything we can work with. Padfoot, if I Transfigure some of these branches into rockets, I need you to put every Sparking Spell you can remember into them.'
Remus and Peter dashed off, whilst Sirius and James gathered up branches from the edges of the woodland, Sirius frantically recalling all of his Charms NEWT so far. Soon, they were both lighting up the night with spells, and Sirius desperately hoped it just looked like fireworks from the next field along.
Peter came panting back. 'There really is sod all there, just a lot of mud.'
James grinned. 'All the better. Come on, let's start hauling these down.'
They all disappeared down the hill, crouching in a dip and pointing each fireworks heavenwards with care. Remus re-appeared a few moments later, Mrs Neil safely dealt with. Voices approached, and seven o'clock was almost upon them. James frantically set Timing Charms on the fireworks, muttering to himself.
Peter sighed. 'Can't we just have a normal evening out, for once?'
'Now, Wormtail,' Sirius chided, 'where's the fun in that?'
Remus raced over the mound to peek at the crowd. 'They're all there, just behind the rope. Come on, time to do it!'
'Alright then.' James put on his best regal face. 'Marauders, are you ready?'
Sirius laughed. 'Oh, just get on with it already.'
With flair, James lit his wand, and set off the first firework, thus triggering the whole line of them in a twenty-minute long display.
They started small, sparks of red and green in the night sky. The crowd made some appreciative 'aahs'. Then the next ones began to fall down like silver rain, followed by gold bursts like champagne bubbles. The rest of the fireworks really began to kick in, shooting up in quick succession with sounds like gunshots, exploding in every colour Sirius had been able to think of, and now the Muggles really were impressed, with small children clapping their hands together in delight. Ripples of turquoise, splashes of burgundy, a tidal wave of violet lit up the field for what must have been miles around. Catherine wheels arched out across the trees, spinning in an ever-changing spectrum.
The best was yet to come, and Sirius was simultaneously proud and a bit nervous, both of Lily's reaction and the not insubstantial possibility that it would attract the attention of local police or even someone from the Ministry. James glanced over, and Sirius just shrugged. They'd had worse, a hundred times over.
The last and biggest firework began its ascent, and it exploded with a roar. A giant red and gold lion emerged, shaking its mane. There was silence for a moment, then it roared. One child seemed to have burst into tears, but then the crowd broke into cheering and applause.
'Oh yes, come on!' Sirius leaped up, running over to the others to exchange victorious high-fives.
The lion stayed up there for a few moments before exploding in a blitz of gold sparks, which then rearranged themselves to spell out 'HAPPY NEW YEAR'. Everyone gradually began to trundle away back to the pavilion for tea, and after a moment there were running footsteps in this direction. They all exchanged worried looks, Sirius readying his wand for a quick Obliviate if necessary.
It was Lily. 'You-- I can't believe you!' She frowned. 'No, actually I can. But that was briliant. Oh, their faces! I haven't seen Petunia look that put out in ages, but everyone else loved it. Mrs Neil's busy telling everyone about the nice boys that saved the day - you're all local heroes, I think!'
Sirius winked. 'Marauders to the rescue, every time!'
Lily rolled her eyes. 'Because that's not childish at all. Well, come on in, there's a lot of people who want to know how you did it!'
'To which we must only reply that those in our trade never reveal our secrets,' said James. 'I think we ought to disappear away mysteriously at the end, for added effect.'
'If you must.' Lily took James' arm with a smile.
They walked into the crowded room to thunderous applause. They took a corner each, shaking hands and successfully not answering any of the many questions thrown at them. James and Sirius quickly whipped up some business cards, and went around handing them out. When Remus gave them an odd look, Sirius explained 'Well, not long before we've got to get jobs anyway, is it? May as well earn something to get us going.'
Mr Evans walked up to them, and shook James' hand vigorously. 'Wonderful, just wonderful. You simply must show me how you do that sometime.' He patted his shoulder. 'Welcome to the family, James.'
James went red, but looked rather pleased. This touching moment was interrupted by a shriek from Lily outside. James and Sirius ran out, quickly joined by Remus.
Looking horrified, Lily just pointed. Sirius had to squint a bit to see in the dark, then he suddenly spotted it. 'That's--' He burst out laughing.
In front of them, Peter raised a quick thumbs-up behind his back as his other hand was at work caressing Petunia's cheek, who was looking decidedly shell-shocked. After a moment, he took the plunge and dragged her forwards, snogging her soundly.
'She's not stopping him!' Sirius cried delightedly. 'Oh, good work, Peter.'
Lily slowly began to smile. 'Oh, this is enough blackmail material for months. I owe him one!'
There was a 'harumph!' from behind them, and they whirled around. It was the mustached man Sirius had spotted earlier. 'That's my sister's boyfriend!' Lily hissed. 'Run!'
Sirius, Remus and James all looked at each in horror. 'Wormtail!' James yelled. 'That's quite enough now, let's go!'
Peter leaped back and turned around. With a yelp, he began to run. They sprinted off, and could hear Lily attempted to waylay the man. 'Now, Vernon, please relax. Peter didn't know, and I'm sure he's very sorry!'
But this appeared not to dissuade Vernon, and they could hear him running towards them, though thankfully not that fast.
'Nothing for it, time to Apparate!' James said between pants, and they landed in a heap in his parents' living room.
'Now then,' James said, 'the night is young, and we have a wine cellar. Time to celebrate the new year in style, I think! Good work all around, lads.'
Sirius grinned. 'I'll drink to that.'