There’s no consistency with the Soulmate Effect. Couples may share similar communication connections, like ink showing up on your partner’s skin. Everyone’s is at least slightly different. One couple may be able to draw pictures on their arm and then it would show up on their true love’s, but when they write words it doesn’t transfer over. Another couple might have the opposite. It’s like a fingerprint - every love is unique and special. Not one couple is the same as another, so there are no repeats in soulmate connections.
Remus sits with his ankles crossed on his and James’ nice-but-slightly-crappy maroon craigslist couch. He presses the aluminum of his Sprite can to his lips so he can feel the wet cold in contrast to the humid room. It’s James and Lily’s engagement party and the atmosphere is relaxed with an underlying buzzing of excitement as the night goes on. Remus tilts his head back to look at James, who is surrounded by a group of twelve people right next to the kitchen counter.
Remus doesn’t even need to strain his ears to hear the story; James’ voice is loud and clear, taking on the unmistakable giddy story-telling tone he uses for this strange tradition. James invited a new guy over, someone he met at work, and he finally asked the question everyone was waiting for. Every one of their friends has heard the tale a million times by now in a million different variations, yet they still flock over like ants to sugar. James loves to brag that it’s because of him and his creativity, but it’s more of the general mystery of it. People argue over which story was the true one, each claiming a personal favorite.
As Remus tunes in he thinks this definitely may be the worst, most ridiculous one James has invented so far.
“ - and so there he was, standing in the ocean, hermit crabs clinging to his body, starfish climbing up his legs to his shoulders to protect our adorable little nugget’s sensitive skin from being sunburned, when he reaches out and ropes the sea turtles that have become accustomed to his presence together to use as a raft - ”
James pauses to turns his gaze, making eye contact with every single person in the circle. His glasses are crooked and his black hair is sticking up in every direction and the people love it, the air surrounding them crackling. Remus makes eye contact with Lily and they snort together as she pours herself a glass of champagne.
“What did he use as rope?”
James smirks at the new guy and Remus knows that he has been waiting for this moment. Remus idly wonders what James would’ve done if no one asked, but then quickly stops thinking about it because he doesn’t exactly want to know what crazy shit James would have pulled.
Snapping his eyes up at the fake cough, Remus holds back a groan as he saw the whole circle gazing at him expectantly. He catches James’ wild brown eyes dancing with mischief, and Remus heaves a sigh, realizing exactly what James wants him to say. He clears his throat and turns his body more, throwing an arm over the back of the couch.
“I made a rope,” Remus paused, playing along with James’ drama and everyone leaned in, “from the hairs on my ass.”
There’s a beat where everyone digests and then James throws his head back, arms raised in the air, and shouts, “And that’s why we call him Moony!”
“And that’s why we call him Moony!” Everyone emphatically echoed the cheer.
“Wow,” the new guy whispers, eyes wide as saucers and everyone grins, satisfied with his reaction; he passes the initiation with flying colors. The circle disperses, but people continue to talk about it, laughing at their favorite parts. Gideon proclaims this one is the true story and casts his previous favorite, the kangaroo one, out the window.
Remus takes a sip of his soda, grimacing at the lukewarm taste despite the outside of the can remaining chilled. James throws himself onto the couch and claps Remus on the back.
“I think poor newbie actually believed that was true.”
“Peter? Oh, he’s brilliant! Perfect bait for Moony stories, then.” James kicks his legs up onto the coffee table, pushing his glasses up his nose. “So did you like this one?”
Remus pretends to mull it over. “Well, the fact that no one got the Pirates reference depleted my faith in humanity,” he says with an exaggerated air of despair and James chuckles. “But the volcano bit was creative.”
James hums, pleased, and adds that personally the scuba diving version is his favorite but this one is a close second. They sit in companionable silence, drinking in the evening and their friends mingling about. James’ gaze is fixed upon Lily, who laughs at something Mary whispers in her ear. The lighting of the kitchen catches on the crown of her here head and creates a golden-orange halo. Only Lily could manage to look fantastic in fluorescent lights.
Remus nudges his love-struck best friend, speaking warmly, “I know I’ve said congratulations a thousand times, but I really am happy for you, Prongs.”
James grins. “Are you saying you’re over the moon for us?”
Remus delights in the strangled squeal James makes after pressing the still cold Sprite can against his neck.
The real story behind the Moony nickname is far less exciting and without a doubt more embarrassing then every rendition their friends have heard. It was their second year at university and Remus’ depression was actually fairly mild the past month when he decided to watch The Notebook. It was a Very Bad Idea.
James ran six blocks after getting a text from their neighbor Minerva that she could hear sobbing from their apartment. There’s still a dent in the wall from James throwing the door open with the force of a rhino. He immediately went into emergency mode, which consisted of jumping on top of Remus in what he claims is a hug but is more like a smothering to death and demanding to know if he had taken his pills that morning.
Squirming beneath James’ weight, Remus blubbered unintelligible things and the only thing James could make out was “Moony”.
“I’m going to kill this Moony! What did he do? No, tell me after I smash his face in, where is he?!” James climbed off of Remus and shook his shoulders. “Is he in the apartment??”
Remus burst into a fresh new set of tears, turning his second-hand laptop around to show Noah and Ally kissing in the rain.
“He-h-he moo-moo-moon h-h-h-er-r-r,” Remus gasped out and when James stared blankly he became frustrated and shouted, “No one moo-moon m-me!”
Something from the delirious nonsense must have clicked in James’ head because he stopped the death threats and grabbed the tissue box next to the bed, handing them to Remus while murmuring that someone was going to moon the shit out of Remus someday. Not butt-mooning, James tripped over his words and reiterated that someone would lovey-dovey moon over Remus.
Unsurprisingly, James had a light bulb moment after that where he came to the conclusion of the only thing that would cheer a depressed Remus up. Remus shakes his head to get out the image of Old-Hag Dolores from across the street screaming and cursing out her window while Remus’ butt was still hanging out.
Six years later and the nickname stuck. Remus would deny it if asked, but James carrying on with this whole Moony backstory charade warms his heart. He was struck with panic the first time someone questioned it. Not only is the story embarrassing on principal, it will bring on a lot of pitying that Remus doesn’t need from their friends. Remus’ soulmate case is rare - having no indication of a true love, a situation that became humiliating by age sixteen. But James has always been quick on his feet and he launched himself into what would soon become a tradition in their circle of friends. Remus couldn't be more thankful for the distraction.
He reassures himself for the umpteenth that he’s over the idea of love and he doesn’t care anymore, truly. James makes sure the small clock fate painted on his wrist is out of view as he pats Remus’ knee.
“Don’t worry Moony,” he says. “Someone will be hanging the moon for you soon. I can just feel it.”
It’s two weeks later when Sexiest Stag Alive!! (James’ work, not Remus’) flashes across Remus’ phone screen and he fights the urge to cry as he knows he can’t just roll over and ignore it.
“I swear,” Remus yawns as he answers the call, “this better be good because I’m three seconds away from going back to napping.”
“You haven’t been modeling for art classes, have you?”
Remus perks up at the eery seriousness in James’ voice. “What the hell is that supposed to mean?”
“Didn’t think so. Are you by any chance posting pictures of yourself all over the internet for anyone to see?”
“Wha- no, no! Of course not,” Remus splutters out.
James presses his interrogation further, “Yeah, that one felt like a stretch… And you haven’t made a new friend behind my back who is an artist?”
“For the last time, no Jamie, now if you’re not going to spit out whatever you’re being so cryptic about then I have a date with my pillow that you so rudely interrupted.”
“HOLY SHIT MOONY DO YOU KNOW WHAT THIS MEANS?”
Remus pulls the phone away from his ringing ear, cursing loudly.
“-Moony you there? Are you listening to me?”
Remus listens to the sound of a scuffle and then recognizes the faint whisper of Lily’s reprimanding voice. When James’ voice returns, it’s forcibly softer but still oozing with barely held euphoria.
“Lily dragged me to this new art gallery showing thingie with this up and coming popular posh artist or whatever and get this,” James pauses like it’s a goddamn Moony story. “The whole exhibit is you.”
Remus drawls out his question. “What do you mean the whole exhibit is me?”
“It’s literally you! Everywhere! No pictures, but all paintings and sketches that don’t look vaguely like you at all, but look 100% undeniably you to the point it’s fucking scary. There’s even a painting of the scars from your back!”
Remus’ heart thumps in his chest and he barely gets the words out, “What are you saying?”
“Moony! It’s happening! This is it! It’s your soulmate, this HAS to be it! Lily even went all badass spy-mode and learned that this artist has never connected with his soulmate and that he doesn’t even believe you exist! Apparently he’s been dreaming of you for years! Here, Lily tell him it’s true!”
The next ten seconds are agonizing, but then Lily’s soothing voice is like a shock of ice water at the next words.
“Remus, he named one of the pieces Moony.”
“Address,” he breathes out. “Now.”
Sirius glares at Marlene. “What the- fuck!”
The last word comes out strained and high-pitched. His jaw hits the floor.
Dumbstruck, Sirius sways on his feet a bit. No else has noticed the man standing in the doorway and his heart swells embarrassingly at that, knowing he has this moment all to himself. The man himself hasn’t even noticed Sirius yet. Moony, Sirius thinks in a daze. Moony’s chest is heaving and if his red cheeks and the slight glean of sweat is anything to go by, he must have run all the way here. He’s wearing ruffled, wrinkled pajamas and his mouth is parted open, revealing the adorable overbite Sirius knew would be there. His auburn hair is tussled and Sirius’ heart stops.
He’s so beautiful.
Those amber eyes finally meet Sirius’ and he snaps his mouth shut. If he wasn’t sure that this was it before, he’s more than certain now. They shiver in sync as an electric wave cascades down their backs. Moony smiles shyly and Sirius feels faint at the amount of hope, vulnerability, and affection in Moony’s eyes. The man he’s been dreaming of for years, the man plastered on the walls in paint and pen is real and here.
He’s everything and so much more.
His feet carry him over to his soulmate.