The dark mark spotted at St Mungo's Hospital just a day ago didn’t seem to deter traffic in Diagon Alley. With the sighting so fresh in James mind it was impossible to not be paranoid. As a result his eyes casually jumped from wizard to building to wizard and never lingered on one particular thing.
He had agreed to pay Fabian to dive a bit deeper into the hoarding mountain of family junk with indexing enchantments and James wanted to put his eyes on things first with someone he trusted with his life. Remus. Not that Fabian was untrustworthy, but Remus knew secrets that most didn’t. So he brought it up to the man the night before and asked him to accompany him for a vault check and a brunch run. He, Lily, and Harry had spent the night in the comfort of Remus’ and Sirius’ flat, and once everyone was up they left for Diagon Alley with promises to bring back food for everyone.
He weaved around bodies along the walkway but remained close to Remus. He grimaced at the sight of Gringotts. “Have I mentioned that this isn’t my favourite place in the world?”
Tempting as it has been to sleep more, Remus knew he needed to get out and do something. The offer of more and different food helped. As did his mismatched attire taken from each of the Marauders. “That’s because you have a vault full of coins and trinkets from years of Potter men hoarding things.” He bumped James on the shoulder, staying closer than he needed, but that was nothing new. “I am terrified to know what treasures remain untold. How many wonders can one cavern hold?”
“That…and...” James started with a lazy lift of an eyebrow over the frames of his glasses. “...the grumpy goblins that have daggers for eyes,” he added with a growing grin on. His arm closest to the other was quick to bump the man back in a lighthearted manner, but a bit harder for good measure. “Oh you’re going to do that, are you?” he asked. A tone of amusement was masked under the desperation to articulate annoyance. “I know who to call to babysit when Harry gets into the sing-a-long phase,” he stated with an overly amused laugh to follow. James leaned forward to catch the door and held it open for him. “After you.”
Remus stepped through, but not before looping his arm through James’s, pulling him right along. He wasn’t going to fend off the goblins on his own. Not when his family name was worth all of nothing here. And really in most settings truly. “At least it’s a bit quieter than normal?”
There was only a handful of goblins working this morning, all equally busy and focused on their ledgers. “But I think this is the part where the Great James Potter Charms Offensive gets to shine, or at least shake off from of the dust some.”
The entanglement of their arms was used to tug Remus even closer to him as if James was silently saying he wasn’t going anywhere either. He merely winked at the other and nodded in assurance as they approached the desk. “Good morning...” he spoke loud enough to draw gazes from all others. “Mr. Potter, good morning,” the goblin behind the desk spoke after being jolted from his work. “You get new specs? A new color and all, how fantastic,” James deterred from the question as he tapped the side of his own glasses pointedly. “Counting coins and ledgers all day will do that…” he answered and then turned his head toward Remus with an even less friendly look than he gave James.
Quickly he pulled a key from his pocket and offered it to the goblin. “My good friend and I would like to see my vault, please. An escort would be brilliant,” he moved the conversation onward. He smirked at Remus once the goblin turned to comply with the request. “Wouldn’t it have been fun if we didn’t need an escort? I bet I could easily drive those carts if I fumbled my way through a car,” he turned his head.
“Then I’ll consider it a blessing that I’ll never have to know who would win -- you or the tracks.” They followed the goblin, climbing into the trolly when directed. For all the things Remus had seen in his life, Gringott’s felt the strangest. “Although, really, I think we’d all have to worry about you trying go find one of the dragons.”
That caught a look from the goblin. Remus just responded with a careful smile. “Not that I would let that happen. Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus and all.”
"This one, always keeping me in check," he called to their driver as an arm wrapped playfully around Remus’ neck. However, the goblin responded with silence and a sour look. The cart eventually stopped and they all climbed out. Once the vault was unlocked James pushed the door open for Remus to enter. "Thank you, we'll be through shortly," he advised and closed the door behind them, leaving their escort to wait in the cart.
"After the attack in Godric's Hollow I moved most things in here. Everything I or Lily didn’t need anyway," he prefaced as he pulled his wand out to ignite light from various parts within the vault. The cave walls were lined with mountains of luxurious trinkets, dusty trunks, paintings, books, and gold. Lots of it. "Borderline pack rats, don’t you think?”
“Should we have brought togs? Get our Scrooge McDuck on? You’re not related are you?” Most days it was easy to forget how rich his friends were. Standing next to James at the edge of a rather deep and large vault it was rather hard to ignore. “Or are pureblood wizards really dragons and this your hoard?”
“Would it help my case any to procuring a pet dragon if I said yes?” he asked with a dark grin. “I’m just trying to get the rest of my family back, Moony!” he raised his voice drastically as he gripped the man’s arm and shook him playfully. He laughed and clapped the man on his back. “You’d look quite dashing in a top hat though, maybe we should make this a thing,” he added as he pulled the other deeper into the vault. The tip of his shoe tapped against an old trunk that surely would have tripped anyone up had they not been looking down. “Watch your step in here, I didn’t organize it at all. In my defense, though it was hardly organized to begin with.”
Remus bumped into James, recovering the stumble by rubbing his back. “There, there Prongs. I now understand that you are a chaos dragon. This strange filing system makes sense only to you.” It certainly made no sense to Remus. If anything it was overwhelming. There was also a very particular scent here that wasn’t agreeing with him. “Although, I’m not sure it will give you any advantage against fire stealing from a Hebridean Black.”
“Probably not,” he agreed as he took a few steps ahead of the other. His hands running over various things in passing. “Though I have reason to believe I won’t be entrusted on that mission,” he added. “Pity, really,” he sighed flippantly as he reached out and grasped a wooden walking stick. From top to bottom monstrous faces were carved deep into the wood causing it to look lumpy. He twirled it around the hand that grabbed it with interest and handed it over to Remus. “Your cane, Mr. McDuck.”
“Much obliged, Lord Potter.” Remus gave a little bow. “Now, I have the stick containing the souls of my enemies, what else can we find?” He wondered a little further back for something more interesting than chests or stacks of coin. “Ah yes, what do we have here?” With the cane reached over for a vest with fine golden threads, pulling it toward him. It shimmered and didn’t immediately feel like it was going to eat him. That was probably a good sign. He ran his fingers over the crest on the pocket which features three bushels of wheat. He shrugged the vest on, fitting poorly over the jumper, but it was totally a look. “Okay, admit it, I am now probably the fanciest man you know.”
Amusement colored his features as he bowed back in formality to Remus’s. He could always count on his friends to lighten up any and every situation. “The only thing better than having a stick with the souls of your enemies in it is being able to whack people with it often with it,” he commented. A dark eyebrow lifted with intrigue as he watched Remus pull the vest on. His finger tapped at his chin thoughtfully as he looked the man up and down. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a fancier man in my life,” he agreed with a growing smirk. He then turned to open a trunk and rummaged through its contents until he pulled out a single glove. Not two gloves. One soot blotched glove and put it on. “Until now...clearly,” he displayed dramatically. “Show up at a Gala with this and you’re bound to be the envy of the room.”
“Oh my stars and garters,” the notes of his Welsh accent gone for the proper RP of a man of his stature, “With all these accouterments, I’ll be the talk of the town.” Remus found a chest -- empty, and he checked three times because it just kept rattling -- to sit on while he sorted through a stack of old books. In between the ledges was a common rock. “Especially with this in my possession!” With a string around it. Remus followed the end of the string which was wrapped around a strange looking metal. “Which, on second thought, I don’t really like.”
A chuckle left James lips as he shook his head and removed the glove from his hand. He tossed it back into the trunk and kicked it shut before moving onward. After passing a few tables of gold and jewel-encrusted tickets he came to a trunk that looked exceptionally familiar. He opened it up and upon investigation, he smirked. “Oh no. The recipe for Sleekeazy's Hair Potion. Now I’ll have to kill you,” he joked as he held the parchments up for Remus to see. “Let’s get that out of your possession then shall we?” he stated as he tossed the parchments back into his father’s trunk and held his hands open to catch the rock if Remus should choose to throw it.
There was a good set up for a man bun joke, but Remus was otherwise preoccupied trying not to growl at a rock tied to a piece of metal. It was stupid. But then again, this time of the month many things were. “It clashes with my aesthetic anyway.” He tossed it easily to James. It also bristled the wolf, but he didn’t really need to say that out loud. “Oi, did anything different happen on Friday?”
James caught the rock with ease and turned it over in his hands with a thoughtful frown on. He’d known Remus long enough to catch onto certain demeanor shifts that tapped into his Moony side. His cat was another trigger at some form of discomfort. He found the piece of metal attached to it and it made his frown harden with confusion. “It’s pretty ghastly anyway,” he agreed and tossed it into the trunk and closed it with his foot. “Anything different?” he repeated in curiosity as he directed his gaze at the man. The full moon...the shifts… “Different like how?” he asked.
Remus made a face. “I don’t know. Just sort of felt different than others in a while. Not in a bad way like the time I ate the dead rabbit or…” He waved, not necessarily needing to or wanting to bring up the other worse times and close calls. James knew. Hell, James probably knew better than Remus what happened those nights, they all did.
“And maybe it was the lack of worry with term break, but -- I don’t know. It just felt different.” Oh and also Sirius had a rather peculiar new scar under his chin, but Remus wasn’t going to lead with that.
A soft snort was given in an attempt to internalize his need to laugh. Mainly because he understood how mortified Remus had been when he was told he ate the rabbit...but the look on his face was too priceless and it was forever seared into James’s brain. “That’s not funny, sorry…” he assured weakly in a tone that didn’t sound too remorseful. Instead, he frowned harsh enough to push the bridge of his glasses upward on his nose as he thought back to Friday night. “Well, actually..” he began lightly as his eyebrows lifted up finally once the realization hit. “You did seem like you were in an exceptionally good mood. You were prancing and jumping all around. It seemed like you were interested in playing with Padfoot more than hunting the grounds for something to get into. Like you were content,” he explained with a nonchalant shrug.
“Huh.” Remus filed that away for later. Instead, he bit the inside of his cheek to hold back the self-deprecating comment about being content. He wasn’t keen on a pep talk tonight. “That’s new. Not that I’m complaining, but unexpected and maybe premature given the state of things.” Remus rubbed the back of his neck. “Weirder still that we might actually see the end of this. Get to see what comes next.”
“Not particularly new,” James offered. “There’s been nights in the past where you acted similarly; carefree and excited and running about,” he reminded. It wasn’t unusual to have a good night after all. In fact, James would argue they had far more good nights than bad. “Friday night you just seemed extra energized and kept pulling Padfoot into wrestles with that face grabbing tactic of yours,” he explained. Remus’s neck rub wasn’t lost on him, and as a result, he walked closer. “S’not premature...not even with the state of things,” he assured. “In fact, it’s more relevant now than any other time,” he added and rested a hand on the man’s shoulder. “What comes next is a group camping trip.”
Remus leaned into James, turning his head to nuzzle his arm. “Camping, huh?” That didn’t sound like the worst thing in the world. “I told Pete that the lot of should get a house somewhere with a big bed for piles. Like last night that was good.” Honestly, Remus would take what comfort he could find even or rather especially among the bad days.
“Oh yeah?” he asked. James smiled both at the head nuzzle and the idea of the lot of them living in a house. Oh, what chaos that would be. He kept his arm steady in place to allow it to continue to be a support for the other’s head if he so chose to leave it there. “And what did Pete say to that?” he asked curiously. Despite school ending and lives beginning their friendship remained as intact as ever as far as James was concerned. Time with them was important just as anything else could be. His smile softened a bit and he nodded. “That was good,” he agreed. “There’s true comfort in knowing that the people you care about the most are in the same room with you, safe and sound. That’s how last night felt.”
“He was willing, but not optimistic.” Remus nudged James again with his head. He valued these little moments, the comfort and contact given freely. “I still worry about him after what the death eaters did.” Worry came easy for Remus. “Better to have everyone in one place.”
“Not optimistic? It’d be perfectly easy to obtain a house big enough for everyone,” he reasoned with a smile. As if the worry of space was the only contributing factor to this plan. “Isn’t a bad idea at all, Moony,” he added with a small ruffle of his hair now. The mention of Death Eaters caused him to frown softly. “Yeah, I worry about him too,” he admitted. “That isn’t something that’s easy to bounce back from. But he seems alright,” James said. “Right?” he asked with a narrowing gaze at Remus as if he were silently asking if the man knew something he didn’t.
“I guess. I think I just worry he might be feeling left out sometimes.” Maybe more so now that Remus officially was living with Sirius. And also the snogging. But that wasn’t exactly common knowledge.
“Hmm..” James began with a furrow of his brows in thought as his hand finally fell away from the dependency of Remus’s shoulder. “Perhaps then we should try harder to make for more time together? Even if it’s something small?” he offered thoughtfully. “Or just buy that house,” he finalized with a smirk and a playful nudge from his shoulder into Remus’s.
“Well, you do probably have enough here to buy a small island. So, if you want to buy us a house, I’ll come live in it.” Remus grinned. He didn’t often like James or Sirius making a fuss about things, but this he would accept with hesitation. “I also think those --” he nudged a pile of books with his foot “might be some sort of record of your holdings.”
He rolled his eyes dramatically at Remus. However the grin on the man’s face was something that he was grateful to see, and it made him smile. “I would be offended if you didn’t.” His gaze drifted to the book pile. “Possibly,” he agreed and picked up the top book only to thumb through it. “My dad had told me to keep that invisibility cloak an absolute secret,” he prefaced with an empty look guilt on his face. Because obviously he didn’t, but that was okay. The ones he shared it with were his family. “I wanted to see if there’s anything else with the same stipulation in here that I should be aware of before I let Fabian in here..” he explained. “That list of yours and Pete’s got the Order all worked up..”
Remus adjusted his quite fancy vest and used the walking stick to stand back up. “All right. So we’re looking for deep and dark family secrets that Fabian doesn’t need to worry about. Although…” Remus paused. That cloak was exactly the sort of powerful item they might be looking for. “What do you know about the provenance of the cloak? How far back in your family does it go?”
“Well that...and to brag about them,” he joked with a wink. “Fabian is one that I respect and trust, but I like being the deciding factor on what people know about me rather than them stumbling across it in a vault full of junk,” he continued with a gesture of the space around them. He closed the book and tossed it off to the side only to grab another.
“Not much, honestly. Dad just said it’s been in our family since the beginning of it, and that one day I should pass it down onto my kid. He also said it needed to be kept secret and protected at all costs,” he repeated his father's words as he opened the new book in his hands. “Protected, I assume, because it hadn’t ever lost its power,” James clarified with a pointed look. “I learned in my third year that invisibility cloaks age and eventually stop working altogether. This one hasn’t.” He’d been suspicious of the heirloom before in the past, and it was evident in his tone.
“Oi, it’s your fancy pants seal,” he said with a grin and turned the book around for Remus to see. On the page were renderings of a family crest. One that looked similar to the one on Remus’ vest and scribbles that manifested into what his current family crest looked like now.
Remus glanced over. “Well it’s not the Potter coat of arms, is it?” He then pulled out his phone to take a picture of it. Certainly, someone would know what family it was. “You must have had some famous bakers in your lineage.”
He then tucked his phone away. “Okay. So we are on the lookout for strange and weird Potter family relics so you can keep your pride. Got it.”
“If that’s true then I better come across some mind-blowing recipes somewhere in here.” He closed the book but kept it in hand. “You should know by now that protecting my pride is of the utmost importance, Moony,” he said with a devious smirk. “But let’s do it quickly so we can move onto better things like brunch.”