Chapter 2: Basketball
"James, Sirius, can you be still for one minute?" Mrs. Potter asked, exasperatedly pinching the bridge of her nose.
James glanced up from the kitchen table, where he and Sirius were using spoons to flick carrots at each other.
"Where's the fun in that?" he asked, grinning.
Two weeks had passed very quickly for Sirius and James. They had spent the days playing Quidditch, thinking of new prank ideas, and brainstorming things to put on their 'Remus List'.
Despite the fact that the two were an explosion waiting to happen, Mr. and Mrs. Potter had grown rather fond of Sirius, and Mrs. Potter already treated him like a second son. Sirius was overjoyed to be away from his family, and used his newfound freedom to complain about them in loud voices to anyone who would listen.
"Hey, what time is Remus getting here?" Sirius asked, aiming a carrot at James.
"11:00," James said, dodging the flying vegetable. "So fifteen minutes."
"It's 10:45 already?" Sirius asked, looking surprised.
"You slept in until 10:15," James said dryly.
Sirius grinned. "I was tired."
"Sure you were," James said, ducking as Sirius chucked a carrot at him.
"Perhaps you two should eat the carrots?" Mrs. Potter suggested.
"I would, Mrs. P, but I'm too busy trying to hit your son with them," Sirius said apologetically.
Seeing his window of opportunity, James flicked a carrot at Sirius. The projectile hit the teen in the eye, causing him to jump and hit the plate of carrots. It clattered to the floor, spilling the food everywhere.
"OUCH! James, that was my eye!" Sirius yelled, clapping a hand over his eye.
"Ha!" James cheered. He tossed his spoon in the air. "Victory is mine!" he crowed.
"Git," Sirius muttered.
"Alright, boys," Mrs. Potter said, a smile playing on her lips. "You've had your fun; now pick up the carrots."
"But Mum-" James protested.
"But nothing, James. You made the mess, you clean the mess. Pick up the carrots," his mother ordered sternly, pointing at the ground.
Groaning, the two boys got down on their hands and knees and started searching around for carrots.
"This is all your fault," James muttered.
Sirius raised an eyebrow. "My fault? If you hadn't thrown that carrot at me-"
"We were having a carrot war, why wouldn't I-"
"It hit me in the eye-"
"You should have been expecting it-"
Sirius threw a carrot at his friend.
"Ow!" James said, rubbing his cheek.
"You should have been expecting it," Sirius said in a sing-song voice.
James glared at him. "I'm going to murder you," he growled.
"In front of your mum?" Sirius asked, smirking.
James opened his mouth to retort, then paused. "I'm going to murder you later," he corrected.
"Good boy," Sirius said, patting James on the head. Ignoring his friend's outraged look, he scooped up a handful of carrots and stood up.
"Thank you, Sirius, dear," Mrs. Potter said, beaming at him. "Come on, James, it's nearly 11; you two can go to the parlor and wait for Remus. He'll be arriving by Floo."
James scrambled to his feet and the two friends ran out of the kitchen.
"No running!" Mrs. Potter called after them.
Sirius and James crashed down the hall, shoving each other and laughing. Each of them tried to gain the upper hand and beat his friend, but they were both neck in neck… until, that is, they both tripped.
The two boys tumbled to the ground, tripping over each other. They landed in a tangle of limbs, spread-eagled across the hall.
"Ouch! Sirius, your foot is in my face!"
"Your face is in my foot!" Sirius snapped, trying fruitlessly to untangle himself from James.
"Oh yeah, blame it on the foot," James muttered, reaching one hand up to fix his glasses.
There was a whooshing sound from the parlor. James and Sirius froze, listening intently as someone coughed in the other room.
'Burglar' Sirius mouthed to James. James rolled his eyes.
"James? Sirius? Er… anyone?" came a quiet voice from the other room.
"It's Remus!" James cried, yanking himself out from under Sirius and scrabbling to his feet. Leaving his friend shouting behind him, he threw open the door of the parlor and sprinted inside. "Remus!" he shouted.
The sandy haired boy jumped slightly, surprised by the sudden shouts. He whirled around only to be tackled by a boy with deep hazel eyes. Letting out a light laugh, Remus gave James a quick hug back before pushing him off.
"It's nice to see you too, James," Remus chuckled.
Suddenly, the door flew open again. "Remy!" Sirius shouted, launching himself at his friend.
"Here we go again," was all Remus had time to say before he was engulfed in the second hug of that day. "Ouch- Sirius- choking- me-" he gasped as Sirius squeezed him.
"Sorry," Sirius said sheepishly, pulling back. "I just missed you."
"I missed you too," Remus said, taking a deep breath to get back the air Sirius had taken from him.
"A month and a half is way too long," James agreed, peering at his friend from behind his glasses. Sirius did the same thing, secretly inspecting Remus without making a comment.
"Hey, Remus, you feel alright? You look kinda pale," Sirius said, frowning as he looked at the young werewolf.
"I'm fine," Remus said, waving him off. "I just hate Floo travel."
While that was a very true fact, that wasn't the only reason Remus was a bit discolored on that day. The full moon had only been two days ago, and he was still recovering. Mrs. Lupin had been doubtful on sending him to the Potter's so soon after he had had his transformation, but Remus had been adamant on seeing his friends. Corresponding only through letters just wasn't the same as being with his… odd dorm mates. He missed them, despite the ups and downs they had been through; and he definitely agreed that a month and a half was far too long for them to be apart.
"I do too," Sirius said sympathetically. "I mean, who's idea was it to travel through a fireplace? Kind of silly if you ask me."
"How else would you travel, through toilets?" James asked, raising an eyebrow.
Sirius' face lit up. "That would be awesome! Like, you had to flush yourself down to get where you're going. We should totally invent that!"
"Yeah! Toilet Travel!" James said in a deep voice, putting his hands on his hips in a heroic manner.
Remus rolled his eyes, a smile creeping onto his face. Sure, they were nuts, but he had missed them.
The boys glanced to the doorway where Mrs. Potter stood, peeking in. When she saw the third addition to their group, she beamed.
"Oh, Remus! It's so nice to see you!" She swept into the room and wrapped Remus in a hug, squeezing him tightly.
"Hello, Mrs. Potter," Remus said, briefly wrapping his arms around the woman.
Mrs. Potter pulled back, holding Remus at arm's length and staring down at the boy. "Remus, you're white as a board!" she scolded, taking in the boys' complexion. Her eyebrows furrowed. "Are you… ill?" she asked, raising an eyebrow.
"No, Mrs. Potter," Remus assured her. "I'm just recovering from a little cold, is all; that's probably why I'm a bit pale," he said, hoping she would get the message he was trying to send.
Realization dawned on Mrs. Potter's face, and she smiled gently. "Of course, dear, I understand. Now, come on, I'll get you something to drink," she said, taking the boys' wrist and pulling him out the door. Remus glanced behind at his friends as he went, glaring as they stifled snickers at him.
When the pair was gone, the grin died from James' face. He turned to Sirius, frowning. "My mum knows what's going on with Remus!" he exclaimed.
Sirius blinked, surprised. "She does?"
James rolled his eyes. "Yes, you twat. Obviously, she knows. Did you see how secretive they were acting? It was like they had a secret code or something."
Sirius nodded slowly. "Now that you mention it… yeah, I see what you're taking about," he said, his mouth curving downward. "That's not fair!"
"I know," James sighed, "but whatever. We'll add it to the list, yes?"
Sirius agreed. "You know, we're not going to have much time to work on the list, what with Remus being here and all," he reminded his friend.
James waved him off. "We'll find time. Besides, all we need right now is to watch Remus…" he said, a mischievous smile creeping onto his face once more.
"Ugh, I'm bored," Sirius said, leaning back in his seat and letting out a long groan.
"You're always bored, Sirius," Remus sighed.
"That's cause there's nothing interesting to do," Sirius replied stubbornly. "James, what do you do around your house?"
"We've already done everything," James said, tapping the glass on the fishbowl in the living room. The goldfish inside frantically swam away from James' finger, darting in between some rocks to hide.
"Hey, we should go fishing!" Sirius said, sitting up excitedly and looking around at his two friends.
"That's a great idea!" James replied enthusiastically. "If- you know… there was any water around here," he finished in a morose voice, turning back to the fish tank.
Sirius huffed, crossing his arms and siting back. "You're no fun," he muttered.
They heard the front door slam open, sending wind throughout the entire house. A shout echoed through the halls. "I'm home!" shouted a man's voice.
"That's Dad!" James said, jumping to his feet. "Come on, Remus, he wanted to meet you!"
Remus dragged himself to his feet at a much slower pace than Sirius and James, who were jumping on the balls of their feet in impatience. Remus felt more than a little nervous. Sure, Mrs. Potter had acted… well, much better than he expected- more so than anyone who had found out his secret. But he had never talked to Mr. Potter, only glanced at him on the crowded platform. What if James' father wasn't as accepting as his wife?
James and Sirius bounded into the entry hall, with Remus lagging behind. A tall man shut the door. His arms were piled high with boxes, so only the tip of his scruffy black hair poked over the top.
"Hiya, Dad!" James said. "What's that you got there?"
Mr. Potter shifted the boxes in his hands so that he could see around them. His hazel eyes, framed by thick glasses, twinkled as he smiled at his son. "I'll show you, just as soon as I can set these down," he said.
The boys pressed themselves against the cream-colored walls to allow Mr. Potter to pass through, and they followed his trek through the hall and into the parlor.
"Hello, dear," called Mrs. Potter's voice from the kitchen.
"'Lo," Mr. Potter grunted, dropping the boxes down. He turned to survey the three boys. When his gaze fell on Remus, one cynical eyebrow raised.
"Oh yeah, Dad, this is Remus. Remus- this is my dad."
Mr. Potter held out his hand, frowning through his glasses at Remus. He seemed to be surveying him, almost judging him. "It's nice to finally meet you, Remus," he said. "I've heard… a lot about you."
Hoping that the trepidation stirring in the pit of his stomach wasn't showing on his face, Remus took the man's hand. "It's a pleasure to meet you too, sir," he said, giving James' father a small smile.
Mr. Potter peered at Remus for a few more seconds before he nodded and turned to Sirius. Remus felt relief settle in as Mr. Potter spoke to Sirius. "Still here, are you?" he asked him gruffly, a smile twitching at the corner of his lips.
Sirius grinned at the man. "'Course, Mr. Potter. Your wife has the best cooking I've ever tasted; you're not getting rid of me anytime soon."
Mr. Potter let out a deep chuckle, shaking his head. "Why do you think I married her?"
"Charles," came a warning voice from the kitchen.
Mr. Potter laughed. "Just joking, Mary."
"What's in the boxes, Dad?" James asked, leaning down to poke at the cardboard containers sitting on the carpet.
"I picked it up for you and your friends," Mr. Potter said, pulling his wand out of his back pocket. Waving it over the largest one, the tape slit open, the cardboard flaps popping up.
James and Sirius leaned down, digging through the packing peanuts until the pulled out a circular piece of metal.
"Oh!" James said, nodding importantly as he turned the object over in his hands, inspecting it. "Thanks Dad! This is awesome, I totally… give up. What is it?" he asked, sniffing it.
Remus sat down next to him, taking the metal piece from him. "It's a basketball hoop, I think," he said, weighing it in his hands.
"Precisely," Mr. Potter said, shooting a small smile at Remus. It seemed to be more accepting, and Remus had the feeling he had just passed some kind of test. "It's a basketball hoop. One of my colleagues recommended it."
James stared at the hoop. "Okay, I'll bite. What's basketball?"
"It's a Muggle sport," Remus explained. "You see, you set up this hoop so it's elevated off the ground, attached to a pole or something like that. Then, you take an inflated ball and shoot it at the hoop. The whole goal of the game is to get the ball through the hoop, scoring you points."
"That sounds like Quidditch," Sirius said, "but a lot less interesting."
"It is like Quidditch in a way," Remus said, "and there are many Muggles out there who follow the sport avidly. I've played it a few times, it's not bad."
"When have you played it?" James asked, sounding surprised. "I thought you didn't like sports."
Remus cleared his throat uncomfortably. "Oh, uh, just a few times when I was little," he muttered, recalling the few times he had played the sport.
A few kids from the neighborhood had been acquaintances of him when he had been eight. A few of them had been wizards, but it was a mixture of Muggles and magical children. One day, they had invited Remus to play basketball with them. Remus had been overjoyed; he hadn't been invited to do anything since he had been bitten. Everyone was too scared of him, but these children must not have known what he was. Anyways, they enjoyed a few nice games of basketball, and Remus had been sure they were going to become good friends.
That is, until they found out his secret. Immediately, they had grown frightened of him, pushing him away and lashing out physically when he tried to speak to them. Eventually, Remus had just given up- on both them and friendship.
Until he met James, Sirius, and Peter. He was sure that they were his friends now, but if they found out about his condition… well, things wouldn't be pretty.
"Let's do it!" Sirius said excitedly, digging into the box for more pieces of the hoop.
Five minutes later, all of the bits and pieces of the hoop were lying in front of them, spread out across the parlor floor. An orange ball was lying to the side, already inflated.
"Um… how are we supposed to do this?" James said, blinking at the quantity of metal in front of him.
"Well, it's a Muggle sport," said Mr. Potter, "so we'll do it the Muggle way."
"But Dad," James tried to complain, "that'll take forever!"
"Nonsense! The Muggles manage perfectly fine, and so can we!" Mr. Potter said matter-of-factly.
"Okay, Mr. Potter," Sirius said, grabbing a piece of paper and holding it out. "Here are the instructions."
The boys snickered as Mr. Potter skimmed through the directions. A look of bewilderment came across his face. "How do they read this?" he asked, confused.
Remus gently took the paper from James' father and flipped it over. "That was the Spanish side, Mr. Potter. Here's the English translation."
"Oh… thank you, Remus," Mr. Potter said, reading the instructions. Slowly, he nodded, still frowning. "Right, we've just got to put the thingy in the… no, that's not the C diagram… this bolt here-"
James rolled his eyes. As much as Mr. Potter enjoyed Muggle objects, he was still a pure-blood at heart. "Dad, just use magic," he said wearily.
Mr. Potter sighed before crumpling the paper into a ball and tossing it over his shoulder. "Yeah, that's probably the safest thing to do," he said grudgingly.
Sirius snorted. "Safest," he muttered under his breath.
Ignoring him, Mr. Potter pulled his wand out. He waved it once over the assortment of pieces, and the boys watched as the metal flew around, connecting and weaving together. When it was completed, they were left with a ten foot tall basketball hoop complete with a large backboard and rim.
"There we go!" Mr. Potter said, pocketing his wand and beaming down at his work.
James bit his lip. "Dad," James said, staring at the hoop, "how in the name of Merlin are we going to get this outside?"
Mr. Potter opened his mouth, closed it, then looked back at the hoop. Groaning, he pulled his wand out again. "What would we do without magic?" he muttered to himself, waving it over the completed hoop.
Ten minutes later, the three boys were standing in the backyard. Mr. Potter had set up the hoop on a stretch of cement, handed them the bright orange ball, and went back inside the house.
"Okay, Remus, how do we play?" Sirius asked.
James experimentally dropped the ball, his eyes widening as it came back up to him, falling back into his hands. "It bounces!" he said excitedly.
Remus rolled his eyes. He reached over, taking the ball from his friend before James could do any damage with it. "Yes, James, that's the point of the game. See, you bounce it up and down like this- it's called dribbling," he said, showing them.
"I want to try!" Sirius said excitedly.
"Hold on, Sirius, I'm not done," Remus said, holding up his hand to calm Sirius down. Then, you just dribble it over here…" he walked up the court, towards the hoop, "and shoot it."
The ball sailed from his hands, landing perfectly through the rim with a soft swish of the net.
"My turn," James said, bounding forward and grabbing the ball.
"Hey!" protested Sirius.
"Hold on, Sirius, you'll get a turn. Now, you dibble-"
"Dribble," corrected Remus.
"Dribble it like this," James said, bouncing the ball awkwardly. "Then, you shoot-" He chucked the ball at the hoop. It hit the backboard, rebounding back and hitting Sirius right in the stomach.
"Oops," James winced.
"Ow!" Sirius whined, doubling over.
"Well, you wanted the ball!" James said cheekily, grinning at his friend.
Glaring at James, Sirius picked up the ball and threw it at him. James ducked down, hands over his head. The ball sailed over his head, and James stood up, smirking.
"Haha! You missed! I- Sirius!"
Sirius tackled him, and the two boys fell to the ground, wrestling. Their limbs flew everywhere as they rolled around, each trying to gain leverage over the other.
Letting out a groan, Remus leapt forward and attempted to pull the two off each other. "Sirius- James- stop- it," he hissed, wrenching the two apart.
"He started it," James said, pouting.
"And I'm ending it," Remus snapped. "I thought we were playing basketball?"
"Oh, my turn!" James said, sprinting away to go get the ball.
Remus looked after him, eyebrows raised in disbelief. "Is he serious?" he asked as James sifted through the flower garden, trying to find the ball.
"No, he's not Sirius- I am," Sirius said, grinning.
Remus dropped his head into his hands.
"Hey, I found it!" James called, standing up. There were leaves in his hair, but he wore a triumphant smile as he held up the orange ball. He walked back over to his friends, tossing the ball back and forth between his hands.
"It's my turn," Sirius said, snatching the ball in mid-toss.
"Hey! Sirius!" James complained as Sirius turned to the basket.
He dribbled the ball a few times before throwing it. Up, up, up it went- and sailed straight into the basket.
"Woah, how'd you do that?" James asked, staring at the basket in disbelief. Remus was having similar thoughts, but was able to control his facial expression better.
Sirius shrugged. "I dunno. I just threw it."
Frowning, James jogged over to the ball, picking it back up. After awkwardly bouncing it a few more times, he tried to shoot again. It hit the backboard and landed straight back at his feet.
Behind him, Sirius snorted into his hand.
His frown deepening, James picked up the ball again. Bouncing it a little more forcefully than necessary, he chucked it at the basket.
It missed, flying straight past the entire hoop and into the oak tree right behind it.
"Oh, nice going, James," Sirius said, looking at the ball, which was lodged between two branches of the tree.
"Hey, it was the ball's fault!" James said innocently.
"How are we supposed to get it?" Remus asked, walking forward to look closer at the tree.
James shook his head. "I don't like this sport," he said, crossing his arms.
A smirk broke out on Sirius' face. "Ooh, James doesn't like not being good at something!" he said, snickering.
"I do not!" James protested quickly.
Sirius openly laughed. "Of course not, your big-headedness."
"I do not have a big head!" James snapped.
This time, it was Remus to snort into his hand. James turned to glare at him as well. "Whatever," he muttered, stomping back towards the house.
Sirius and Remus doubled over laughing as James walked away, obviously sulking. Choking for breath, Sirius grabbed Remus' arm for support, succeeding in pulling them both over. The two crashed to the ground, still laughing, and started rolling around and clutching their stomachs.
Both of them felt much better as they laughed. Without knowing it, each of them felt the weight of the world on their shoulders almost all the time. Sirius, juggling his family and what he wants, and Remus trying to deal with his lycanthropy. The stress seemed to alleviate while they were laughing, even if it was just for a few minutes.
Inside the house, Mr. and Mrs. Potter looked up from where they were seated at the table deep in discussion to find their son stomping past, a scowl on his face.
"James?" asked Mr. Potter. "How did the game go?"
"I hate basketball," James muttered, stomping away to the stairs.
Confused, Mrs. Potter stood up and walked over to the window. Lifting the curtain, she peered into the backyard and saw Sirius and Remus cracking up, both on the floor. A smile stretched across her face as she watched them.
"Dear? What is it?" Mr. Potter asked, frowning at her.
Mrs. Potter looked back at him, smiling. "I do believe James just suffered his first defeat."
A/N: Just a bit of fun for the Marauders, and Remus' arrival. It feels so nice to have him back in the story! Huzz-ah!
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