A/N: Missus Padfoot: Yeah, okay, so we're still as bad as ever at getting these chapters out in a timely matter. But seriously, we're soooo busy! Missus Moony: Missus Padfoot is getting ready to leave me, guys! Sadness... Missus Padfoot: Yes, it's true. I'm leaving in about two weeks to study abroad in London for six weeks. Missus Moony: And she's not taking me with her! I'm going to be stuck here in our apartment for six weeks without her! Missus Padfoot: It'll be alright, Moony. So, yeah, we're going to try to get another chapter up before I leave and then you guys aren't going to see us till June. Missus Moony: It's not going to be like that's anything new. You guys are used to us being slow with our posts, right? Missus Padfoot: Don't hurt us, please! Missus Moony: To make up for it, when Padfoot gets back, it'll be summer and we won't be in school, just work, so we'll post a lot more often okay? Just don't forget about us!! Missus Padfoot: And don't forget to post a review! This chapter rocks! Missus Moony: We say that about every chapter... Missus Padfoot: Well, it's true!!!
Chapter 37: Taking the Hogwarts Express by Storm
Lily lazily gazed out of her window, watching the snow-covered trees rush past as the Hogwarts Express made it's way back to Hogwarts. Christmas break had just ended and, while being grateful to have some time away from all of her stresses that came with being at school, Lily was also very glad to be going back to her favorite place in the world. Over the course of the last few weeks, that fondness for her school seemed to have deepened tenfold because of a certain boy who was now a huge part of her life...
Lily felt a grin creep up her cheeks and she felt her stomach swoop for joy as she thought of James Potter. Those two weeks at home after the ball had been absolute torture for her because she missed him so much. The fact that she had to face two weeks alone with only her less-than-friendly older sister, Petunia, was enough to make anyone crazy. Whenever she had time to herself, however, she found herself constantly worrying about how her relationship with James would be when she got back – Would they really be together when they got back? What if things became extremely awkward between the two of them because of their time apart? Or what if he decided he didn't like her anymore?! Or worse, he found a cuter girl when he was back home?!
Luckily, all of these worries were put to rest - due to the fact that she got an owl from James almost every other day. Most of the time they were just little notes asking how she was doing or just telling her that he loved her, but other times they were long letters about what he was up to with Sirius and Rebecca, how excited he was to get back to school and be with her, or, her favorite, a long list of all the qualities about her that he loved. For Christmas, he sent her a new calendar that had a different goofy picture of himself on it for every month (“So you can still keep your crazy schedule organized but still think of me!”) and a very pretty gold bracelet with a simple little heart charm on it.
These letters always made her think about that amazing night that she and James had at the Yule Ball. She would smile as she thought about him holding her close the rest of the night, him making her laugh as he twirled her around, trying to imitate Hagrid dancing with Professor Sprout, and, the moment she thought of most of all – him giving her the sweetest goodnight kiss she had ever experienced in her life outside her bedroom door.
Lily suddenly found her mind pulled violently from her daydreaming and she returned back to the noisy compartment when a loud snore coming from the right of her startled her. She struggled to keep from laughing as she turned to look at the owner of the mass of messy black hair that was currently tickling her cheek. After talking up a storm with her for two hours, James had fallen asleep on her shoulder, though she couldn't tell if he was faking or not because he still had his arm tightly wrapped around her waist.
Marissa laughed loudly when she heard James' snore and reached over to poke him in the leg. “Wake up, James, you lazy bum! You're going to crush your tiny, little girlfriend and then I'll have to do something nastily unpleasant to you!”
“Shh!” whispered Lily. “Leave him alone! He can fall asleep on me if he wants!”
“Oh, really?” Sirius chuckled. “Sounds like James might have gotten more action the night of the Yule Ball than he led on!”
“Ew,” shuddered Rebecca as Lily scowled at Sirius. “If James did get any sort of action from Lily that night, I really don't want to know.”
“Get over it, Sirius,” hissed Lily. “James isn't like you – he doesn't think with his crotch all the time!”
“Ouch! Touché, Lily!” Remus laughed, smiling at Lily over the top of his textbook that he was reading as Rebecca, Marissa, and Peter snickered at a glowering Sirius Black.
“I don't see why you should be laughing, Marissa,” retorted Sirius quietly. “If I remember correctly, you never seemed to have a problem with my way of thinking.”
Marissa stopped laughing and mockingly put her hand over her heart. “Why, Sirius!” she said looking highly affronted. “I happen to be a lady! And ladies happen to never kiss and tell!”
“...Right...” Sirius rolled his eyes.
Marissa tried not to laugh as she looked around at the highly doubtful faces that everyone was pulling. “Okay, so, maybe I'm not so much of lady. Which means that I have no problem in saying that, no, I don't have a problem with your way of thinking, Sirius.”
“Thank you!” Sirius nodded at Marissa and looked pointedly at Lily as if he were proving a point.
Marissa grinned evilly. “What I do have a problem with, Sirius, is how long you can -”
“Whoa!” Sirius suddenly stood up with his arms stretched out. “Way bellow the belt, Eliott!”
Remus choked back a laugh and quickly turned it into a cough when he saw the glare that Sirius shot at him. Remus then started to pat Peter on the back when he started to turn red from his fit of silent giggles.
“Heh, heh... Mr. Hurricane!” Rebecca muttered.
The whole compartment burst into uncontrollable laughter – even Sirius had to join in a little.
A muffled shout drew their attention to the hallway outside their compartment, where they saw a Ravenclaw glaring at a group of Slytherins, who had apparently shoved the student out of their way. One Slytherin in particular noticed the attention of the Gryffindors, and flipped them an obscene gesture before motioning the other Slytherins to continue on down the corridor.
There was an uneasy pause in the compartment, as all of the occupants recognized Sirius' younger brother, Regulus.
Sirius, sensing the uncomfortable twinge in the room that was on his behalf, decided to act as if nothing had happened. He made his way toward the door, holding his head up high, as if he was a disgruntled aristocrat that was wanting to save face. “Well, if you're all going to sit here and insult me, than I am going to find other preferable company!”
The group snickered amongst themselves at Sirius, who flipped his hair at them and sauntered away in the direction of the Slytherins.
Sirius had only just gone out of sight when Lily eagerly leaned forward, trying not to jostle the sleeping Head Boy on her shoulder.
“So, Riss, what's exactly going on between you and Sirius?”
Marissa turned her head so suddenly that Lily thought she would give herself whiplash.
“Wh-What?!” Marissa stared at her friend in amazement. “Why on earth are you wanting to know?”
Rebecca snorted at Marissa's weak attempt to escape answering, while Remus and Peter groaned in the background about having to listen to the girls' gossip. “Nice try, Marissa. We've waited the whole break with you ignoring our owls on the matter, so now we have you where we want, and you can't leave.”
Marissa's eyes widened and she quickly attempted to raise herself off the seat, without success. Lily couldn't stop the grin from spreading across her face.
“Funny thing – before break, I got this lovely book on useful household charms from the library. One of the many charms in the book mentioned how to keep a live organism attached to a non-living organism. I thought you'd be interested in helping me try it out!”
Marissa grumbled and tried to pry her thigh from the seat. “Isn't that the charm mums use on their brats for time-outs?”
“Why yes, actually. I thought that, considering the situation, it was the perfect solution.”
James, who had until previously been pretending rather successfully to be asleep, suddenly leaned forward and placed his elbows on his knees, cupping his face. “You guys are completely getting off topic! I want the goods! So, what's the scoop, Marissa? We're all dying to know!”
Lily's mouth dropped open and she whacked him upside his head. “I thought you were asleep!”
Smiling sheepishly, James wrapped his arms around his girlfriend and jokingly nuzzled her cheek, despite her playfully pushing him away. “But you were so comfortable!”
Rebecca gave her brother a curious frown. “Didn't Sirius tell you anything?”
James pouted and folded his arms. “Nah. He just would grin and start daydreaming. Quite annoying, really. Besides, I want to hear about it from a girl's point-of-view!”
Everyone then turned their attention to Marissa, who gave another futile attempt at getting her legs unglued from the seat and sighed in defeat.
“Alright, alright! To be honest, I'm rather confused about the situation. Nothing happened at the Yule Ball.” Seeing everyone's disbelieving faces, she blushed and tried to explain. “Really!! He didn't try anything! The most he did was put his arms around me; no kissing, or holding hands, just dancing!”
“Isn't that what you wanted though?” Lily questioned.
“Yes, but -”
Rebecca snickered. “She's so used to Sirius drooling over her, that she's never had to work at figuring out their relationship.”
Remus, without looking up from his book, sighed. “Marissa, have you ever considered that Sirius might just be growing up and maturing? I mean, he's stopped chasing after all the girls and he's solely focusing on you – trying to take things slow and actually having a real relationship with you. Perhaps he's really serious this time about keeping you for more than two weeks and not just saying it for the hell of it.”
There was a pregnant pause. After a few moments of silence, Remus finally glanced up and was surprised to see everyone staring at him.
“What?” Remus shrugged.
James smiled. “And here you were pretending to be doing higher and better things like reading your book.”
“I was reading my book,” Remus replied, deadpanned.
“Oh, sure. Just admit it – I'm not the only Marauder who likes a bit of juicy gossip! You were completely paying attention to that whole conversation!”
Remus rolled his eyes and lifted his book back up. “It's called multitasking, Prongs. Girls aren't the only ones who can do it.”
'Note to self,' thought James with a snort, 'add multitasking to list of werewolf abilities.'
Thankful for Remus' surprising advice and relieved at having the conversation completely off of her at this point, Marissa decided to keep it that way. “James, you're one to lecture Remus about eavesdropping and pretending! Listening to our whole conversation while you were pretending to sleep just so you could have your head close to Lily's chest!”
Lily blinked and faced the boy next to her. “James, were you listening in the entire time?”
James merely grinned and winked at his sister. “Heh, Mr. Hurricane!”
Sirius walked quickly down the hallway, trying to catch up to his brother. He had sent an owl to him on Christmas, but hadn't received anything in return. Nearing the group of Slytherins, Sirius called out to his brother.
The group stopped and turned, glaring at him. “What do you want, blood traitor?” sneered one of the boys at him.
Sirius glared at the boy, not recognizing him. “None of your business.” Ignoring the group, Sirius turned his attention to his brother, who was staring at him, void of all emotion. “Do you mind calling off your lackeys? I need to talk to you.”
“Regulus has nothing to say to the likes of yo-”
Regulus coldly cut the boy off. “It's okay, I'll catch you up later.”
The Slytherin boys glanced uneasily at Regulus. It was a well known fact that Sirius delighted in tormenting Slytherins and, despite the fact he was related to Regulus, Sirius could tell they were worried that he was going to just be playing a prank on his brother. After a moment of the two Black boys waiting, the group of Slytherins muttered a few agreements and walked away, leaving the two boys standing alone in the hallway.
Sirius took a moment to get a good look at his brother. He looked stressed - with black circles under his eyes, he just looked like he'd been under more stress back home than when he was at school.
“How are you, Regulus?” Sirius questioned softly. Running away from home and leaving his younger brother behind had been one of the hardest decisions he had yet to make. He didn't want to leave his brother in the same situation he was trying so desperately to escape from, but in reality, Sirius realized that a sixteen-year-old boy could hardly take care of his younger brother, and that he was positive that Regulus didn't want to leave. Regulus had been more of the favored son than Sirius. It might have been because where Sirius tried so hard to make waves and be different, Regulus wanted approval from their family, and didn't see the point in trying to act differently than what was expected of him.
“No better than can be expected.” Regulus snapped, not looking at Sirius, but rather out the window of the train.
There was another pause, with both brothers trying to think of something to say.
“You know, I don't like you hanging out with the likes of those boys.”
Regulus frowned and glared at his brother. “What's it to you who I hang out with?” He spat.
“Because those brats are all prejudice pigs! Going on about pureblood supremacy and the rot, it's not good!”
“Those 'prejudice pigs' are my friends!”
“Doesn't change the fact that their self-righteous bastards!”
“As if your friends aren't the same!”
Sirius forcefully stopped himself and tried to calm down, reminding himself that he didn't come to fight with his brother.
“Okay, look - I didn't mean it like that. I'm just worried about the people you hang out with. They don't seem like the right kind of crowd.”
Regulus glared and folded his arms, and Sirius found himself looking out the window, trying to not wince at his poor choice in conversation.
“Mother's getting worse. She's contacted a painter.”
Sirius's attention snapped towards Regulus. It was tradition in the Black family that before one's death, they had a portrait of themselves made. If their mother was already looking for a painter, than her illness was definitely worsening.
Regulus' face was pinched, worry clearly written on his face for their mother, but Sirius could see he didn't want to tell him. “She still wants to see you, mother's still willing to welcome you back to the family if you'll just-”
“Just what? Just go back and act like everything they believe in and want me to become is right?” Sirius growled, angry that his brother was trying to get him back to that hell-hole.
Regulus flushed angrily. “There's nothing wrong with wanting to continue our line! You act as if our whole family's values and traditions are worthless and something to be ashamed of!!”
“Those values and traditions are archaic and outdated and I-”
“How dare you!!” Regulus looked about ready to draw his wand on Sirius, his whole body taunt and shaking, furious at his brother. “Our family has been one of the noblest families for centuries, and you want to go off and pretend that everything our family has ever done for you was wrong and evil! As far as I'm concerned, you are dead to me! The moment you walked out the door and left, you have ceased to be my brother! Mother was willing to give you one last chance, but I think you've had plenty of opportunity to come home, and you've still been off consorting with lesser families and trying to pretend that you aren't a Black - the very thing that you look down on!!”
“Dead to you?! How do you think I feel? I have no parents!” Regulus opened his mouth to retort but Sirius quickly cut him off. “No, you listen to me! No mother should send a Howler to her son to let him know that his name had been blasted off the family tapestry and that he is now considered the 'filth of her loins'! But that doesn't change the fact that while I'm distanced-” Regulus snorted at his choice of words. “-from my family, I still consider you my brother. I always have. Nothing's going to change that.”
At the end of Sirius' passionate speech, Regulus refused to look at him, instead, he glared out the train, seething.
Sirius racked his brain, trying to think of something to say to his brother that wouldn't start another argument. He suddenly remembered the family house elf, who always seemed to glower at him, but totally doted on Regulus. Kreacher seemed like a safe enough conversational topic.
“How's Kreacher? Still skulking about the place?”
Regulus glared at his brother, “Why do you care? You always tormented him and never appreciated all that he does for our family.”
“I don't see why you care about that little sneak so much. I swear, he's so enamored with you he probably keeps a pair of your shorts in his little cupboard!”
Seeing Regulus turn red and look like he was about to start on another rant, Sirius quickly back-peddled.
“Wait... sorry, I shouldn't have said that. I just-” Sighing in frustration, Sirius ran his hands through his hair. “Look, I just wanted to talk to you and let you know that I'm worried about you.”
There was a moment's pause while Regulus finally turned and stared coldly at his brother.
“Your concern has been noted.”
With a final sneer, Regulus swept down the hall, heading toward where his Slytherin friends had disappeared, leaving Sirius staring after him, feeling like a huge weight had just settled on his shoulders.
A/N: Missus Padfoot: Did we tell you all that we love you? Missus Moony: Oh, here we go again, getting all sentimental... Missus Padfoot: Well, we do! At least I do. Missus Moony: Hey! I do too, I'm just not all mushy about it like you, Padfoot.
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