A PPMW fic, where James convinces Sirius they should both get in shape the Muggle way! Unfortunately, this seems to involve bad plans and even worse fashion sense, plus an increasingly long staircase.
The Twelve Step Program
James threw open the door to Sirius and Remus’ flat without knocking, then flopped onto the couch wheezing for air. Sirius, the couch’s previous occupant, eyed him.
“Feeling all right?” he asked.
“It’s those damn stairs!” James exclaimed, flapping the front of his robes up and down to cool himself. “I swear there’s more of them every time I come up here!”
Sirius very carefully kept his face neutral as he took another bite out of the broom-thru burrito he had been eating prior to James’ arrival. What James didn’t know was that Sirius had put a Multiplying Charm on the stairs, keyed specifically to James, so that there really WERE more stairs every time he came up. He had to be climbing an extra two flights by now, Sirius figured, but he hadn’t caught on quite yet, evidently.
“Hello, Prongs,” Remus greeted James, coming out of his bedroom. “Those stairs are murderous.”
“You’re both just out of shape!” Sirius accused around a mouthful of processed food.
“This from the man who is eating something made primarily out of sour cream and refried cow parts,” Remus shot back, eyeing Sirius’ ‘food’.
“There’s Kneazle in there, you know,” James said, trying to be disgusting. “They catch them in the back alley and right into the food they go! Cheaper that way.”
“Mmm-mm!” Sirius replied loudly, now chewing open-mouthed. “My FAVorite…”
“Seriously though,” James said after a few more moments of horrible behavior, which had driven Remus into the kitchen (“Is it that time of the month already?”). “I am getting a bit out of shape. I’ve been thinking of working out.”
“Really?” Sirius asked, balling up his burrito wrapper and tossing it towards the dustbin. He missed by a good foot. He tried again with his soda can, which bounced off the wall with a clang.
“You’d better pick that up!” Remus yelled from the kitchen. Grumbling, Sirius heaved himself off the couch.
“You could do with a workout yourself, old man,” James ribbed him.
“Me?” Sirius scoffed, scooping the can off the floor and brandishing it at James. “I’m in every bit as good a shape as I was when we graduated!”
In an attempt to demonstrate his strength, Sirius made a macho face and tried to crush the soda can. Unfortunately for him, Remus had meanwhile snuck up behind him and cast an Inflexibility Charm on the can, making Sirius look like a supreme nancy while James practically rolled off the couch laughing.
“All right,” Sirius snarled. “I’ll work out with you.”
**** * *
The next day James showed up at the flat for their first workout, puffing from the stairs.
“What are you WEARING?” Sirius demanded.
“Muggles wear them to get in shape!” James announced proudly. Sirius glanced from James’ lime green short-shorts up to his electric blue t-shirt, which proclaimed ‘Let’s Get Physical’. “I’ve brought you some as well.”
Sirius reluctantly took the pile of clothing James handed him. He lifted up the t-shirt between thumb and forefinger enough to see that it read ‘Joggers Do It on the Run’.
“I’m not wearing this,” he said flatly.
“Yes, of course you are,” James pushed him towards his bedroom and shut the door. “Come on, we don’t have all day.”
Sirius emerged several minutes later, looking about as pleased as Lily had when James had turned all her underwear invisible in the wash (“I swear, it was an ACCIDENT!”). He tried to hustle James out of the flat before Remus saw, with no luck. Remus had collapsed to the floor laughing, and Sirius dealt him a savage kick before stepping over him and exiting out into broad daylight.
“What are we doing?” he asked James.
“Jogging,” James answered grimly. “Lily said Muggles do it to get in shape.”
“What do we do?” Sirius looked skeptical.
“We go briskly down the sidewalk at a pace that’s not quite a run but isn’t walking either,” James said in a sing-song voice as if he were reciting something he had memorized. “We keep our knees high and swing our arms in rhythm.”
“Would you mind demonstrating that?” Sirius inquired.
James set off down the sidewalk, looking rather like a spastic Nazi, goose-stepping on heroin.
“Get moving, Padfoot!” he called over his shoulder.
“If I find out Moony’s got a Kinetiscope…” Sirius grumbled as he imitated James as best he could.
“Prongs?” Sirius gasped, several dozen blocks later.
“What?” James answered.
Slowing to a halt, James looked back and saw Sirius laying in a deflated pile of limbs several yards behind. He doubled back and jogged in place beside the heap that used to be his best friend.
“I…think…we…have…to…keep…jogging,” James told him, an edge of hysteria creeping into his voice. “I…don’t…feel…buff…yet.”
Sirius moaned. James ceased jogging in place and bent over in actual concern.
“…Kill…you…” Sirius managed weakly.
* ** * **
After the jogging disaster, James gave Sirius about a week to heal and calm down before bringing up the subject of physical fitness again. After pleading and whining and finally bribing him by getting him one of the parts he needed for his motorbike, James finally managed to talk Sirius into another attempt at getting in shape.
Sirius’ enchanted motorbike sat itself down in James and Lily’s driveway with a small thump. James had asked Sirius to meet him at his house this time, although he had not mentioned what his new plan was. Sirius wheeled the bike into the garage and knocked on the door that connected with the house.
“Come on in!” Lily called from inside. Sirius found her in the kitchen, chopping vegetables.
“I’m supposed to…work out…with James,” Sirius said, distaste leaking out of every word.
“He’s downstairs in the basement,” Lily told him. “He was setting up something that made all sorts of racket, but he wouldn’t let me come down, so I’ve no idea what he’s up to.”
Now deeply suspicious, Sirius headed down the half flight of stairs to the basement. He found James staring proudly at some contraption, surrounded by large, metal discs.
“What that?” he asked.
“It’s a benchpress!” James announced with relish.
“And what does one press on this bench?” Sirius toed one of the discs and it fell over on his foot with a clang. “Let me guess,” Sirius said through gritted teeth, glaring at James.
“Arthur confiscated these from old Marty Thatcher,” James explained. “They’re called ‘weights’ and you lift them.”
“That’s it?” Sirius inquired while he hefted the weight off his foot. “You just lift them, and you’re in shape?”
“No, you do it over and over,” James informed him. “I’ll show you. Help me put some of the weights on this bar here.”
“What do the little numbers on the side mean?” Sirius asked, peering at the disc.
“Um…I think that’s how many times you’re supposed to lift them.” James grinned at Sirius, trying to hide his bluff. “Probably it’s best if we make them match on either side…”
They managed to get some weights on either side of the benchpress bar without anyone being permanently injured. James slid underneath it and took hold of the bar, looking nervous.
“No second thoughts about this?” Sirius asked with a smug grin.
“None whatsoever,” James lied. He pushed the bar out of the divots it was resting in, then gasped as its unexpected weight brought the bar down on his chest rather harder than he expected. Arms shaking with the effort, James managed to push the bar back up and into the divots again, breathing hard.
“Nothing…to it,” he puffed.
“Ah good,” Sirius replied. “Only…” he rechecked the number on the side of the weight. “Twenty-four more to go.”
* * * * * *
“Sirius?” Remus called, flipping on the lights as he came home. “Are you here?”
A groan issued forth from Sirius’ bedroom, and Remus walked back to the room to see what his flatmate was up to.
He found Sirius lying facedown on his bed, still in his horrendous Muggle workout outfit.
“What’s wrong with you this time?” Remus asked, sighing.
Remus sat down on the bed beside Sirius, who grunted when the shifting mattress springs jostled him.
“Want me to rub your shoulders?” Remus asked.
“Do I still have shoulders?” Sirius mumbled. “I was rather hoping they had fallen off.”
Rolling his eyes, Remus kneaded Sirius’ back gently, earning a deep sigh.
“You know, you two could try getting in shape like wizards,” Remus pointed out. “I’m sure it’s much less dangerous. Just go on diets or something?”
“Dieting’s…ooh, right there…for poofs,” Sirius replied gruffly.
“Yes, well, wouldn’t want people to think that,” Remus murmured in tones of deep sarcasm.
“Shut up and rub my lower vertebrae, you stupid werewolf.”
* * * * * *
Several days later, Sirius was drinking a glass of pumpkin juice and reading the morning paper when James’ head popped up in the small kitchen fireplace.
“Sirius?” James asked. “You there?”
“Yes,” Sirius answered, not looking up. “And no, I’m not working out with you.”
“But I’ve come up with something much better this time!” James protested.
“Absolutely not, James,” Sirius said firmly.
“What about Quidditch?” James persisted. Sirius looked up, blinking.
“Quidditch?” he asked.
“Quidditch,” James repeated. “We used to all the time, that’s great exercise!”
“I hadn’t thought of that,” Sirius said. “I might be up for some Quidditch.”
“Brilliant!” James exclaimed gleefully. “I’ll be right over!”
Remus was in the kitchen later that afternoon when the fireplace flames turned green again.
“Hello?” it was Lily’s voice this time.
“Hello, Lily,” Remus answered, throwing the towel he had been drying dishes with over his shoulder.
“Is my husband there?” Lily asked.
“He and Sirius are in the other room,” Remus replied.
“Just as I thought,” Lily said crisply. “He was supposed to come home right after they’d worked out! Stand back, Remus, I’m coming over there.”
Remus stepped aside and Lily flooed herself over and stepped through the flat’s fireplace.
“Mind your head, it’s low,” Remus reminded her as she stepped out, shaking soot out of her hair.
“Did they work out at all?” Lily asked.
“Well, yes and no,” Remus answered. He motioned her over to the doorway and pointed to the other two Marauders.
James and Sirius were slouched on the couch, listening to a Quidditch match on the wireless.
“You know, when I suggested they take up Quidditch again,” Lily said in exasperation, “that’s not what I meant!” She took a step through the door, but Remus caught her arm.
“No, no, it’s nearly as good,” he told her. “Just watch.”
“Puddlemere’s good this year,” James grunted when an advert came on.
“Not as good as Chudley,” Sirius responded.
“Chudley hasn’t won a match all season,” James pointed out.
“They’re waiting for their second wind!” Sirius retorted, sounding nettled.
“They haven’t had a first wind!” James raised his voice.
“Take it back!” Sirius exclaimed.
“Puddlemere!” James shouted back.
Sirius and James attacked one another, falling to the floor with a crash and wrestling madly. They rolled around for a good ten minutes before they climbed back on the couch in temporary ceasefire, sweating and gasping for breath.
“Wheeze quieter!” James demanded. “The match is back on!”
“Oh, honestly,” Lily muttered, trying not to laugh. “They’re like children!”
“I’m just glad this whole fitness thing seems to be over,” Remus said.
“Me too,” Lily agreed. “Come on, James, time to go!”
“Oh, didn’t see you there, Lily!” James sprang off the couch guiltily.
“And we’re not taking the stairs either,” Lily informed him. “Every time you go down them, Sirius adds a few more.”
“What?!” James demanded, turning around and tackling Sirius to the ground again. “You bastard!”