In the next few weeks to come, the darkness plaguing the world outside was inescapable. The death toll had risen and five more students had been pulled out by concerned parents, while more than a couple had received solemn visits from the infamous black ministry owls.
The morning mail was now met with baited breath and anxiety. No one knew who the next victims would be.
“This is ridiculous!” Lily exclaimed when word spread that Mimi Saks had just been pulled out.
“I mean, it’s not like Hogwarts is protected or anything right? All of the protective charms and educated professors are just for show apparently!” She snorted.
James ran an apprehensive hand through his hair. They were sitting in class- where instead of learning- the class was buzzing with the new development. The professor had left quite abruptly, asking them to quietly read the relevant chapter in his temporary absence.
The class had exploded in a frenzy of mutters and whispers.
“That may be true, but don’t forget about Rosier. Who says there aren’t more death eaters here with us right now?” He and Sirius exchanged meaningful looks, one Lily did not miss.
“You know something, don’t you?”
Marlene, who had, until now, been rolling her quill back and forth in boredom, turned around.
James and Sirius exchanged another glance and Lily furrowed her brows. “You do.” She whispered hoarsely. Marlene scowled.
“If you know something, then you need to tell Dumbledore.”
Sirius shook his head. “We have no solid proof and we can’t exactly go around throwing empty accusations in people’s faces. Besides, they won’t do anything, not under Dumbledore’s nose.”
Lily’s forehead wrinkled in thought. She looked around carefully before leaning in closely. James’ present dangled from her throat. “It’s Bellatrix isn’t it? Her and her little Slytherin posse.”
Marlene snorted. “Well that’s not very surprising. The bitch is obsessed with the dark arts…no offence.” She added to Sirius.
Sirius scowled. “No offence taken. I’m more offended by that fact that we’re related.”
Marlene reluctantly frowned. “I’m sorry...”
Lily and James both turned around in complete surprise. Sirius blinked. He couldn’t remember the last time she’d said something to him that wasn’t an insult.
“For them.” Marlene continued uncomfortably. “But you were never happy at home.”
Sirius smiled. “No I wasn’t, but I do have a few good memories at Grimmauld Place.”
Marlene blushed and whipped her head away, muttering under her breath. Lily’s lips held a shadow of a smile as she watched Sirius eye his ex-girlfriend.
James also watched his friend curiously, but his eyes soon travelled towards Lily when she gave a desolate sigh. “I just hope no one else leaves. It’s depressing.”
He squeezed her arm reassuringly. “I may not be able to convince anyone to stay, but maybe the Marauders can bring back some fun. It’s been a while since this school had some fun.”
He and Sirius exchanged a wicked look.
Yes, in one week’s time, Hogwarts wouldn’t give the Death Eaters a second thought.
“That was something eh? Didn’t think Marlene would ever touch you with a ten foot pole much less show actual concern for you.” James said, as he and Sirius entered the dorm.
Remus looked up from his paper. “Marlene?”
Sirius fell back on his bed. “Yeah, she spoke to me today- and it wasn’t to insult me.”
He looked pleasantly surprised. “Wow. That’s progress.”
James nodded. “I kind of miss her to be honest; always liked her. She reminds me of Chanel sometimes.”
Remus snickered. “Say that to them and they’ll fling you off the Astronomy tower.”
Sirius gazed at his canopy with a dreamy smile. “She’s a firecracker that one.”
James and Remus exchanged a meaningful look.
True to their word, the marauders pulled Hogwarts out of its slump and into a sequence of chaotic pranks.
Even Professor McGonagall cast a blind eye, shockingly spotted with a smile when the entire great hall- through a series of complicated charms- suddenly turned into a giant ice rink.
No one was talking about death or impending war. Instead, students enjoyed the pranks and took bets on the next targets.
Also helping to uplift the mood was the impending Quidditch match between Gryffindor and Ravenclaw, spurred a renewed house spirit.
“Good luck James!”
“Slam those tossers!”
“You’ve got this mate!”
James smiled as his fellow Gryffindor peers and even a few spirited Hufflepuff’s passed him in the corridors. Even while some Slytherin blokes booed and hissed, James smiled. Gone was the sobriety of the atmosphere. Everyone was excited about the upcoming game- including himself- and no one was talking about the suspicious murder of a muggle family outside of Cambridge.
“Watch it Potter, you’re head’s almost getting as big as Blacks.”
James turned to grin. “Come on, we both know that’s impossible.”
Chanel smirked. “You’re probably right. Does your team hate you yet?”
James smirked. “Why on earth would they hate me? They love me, I’m a god.” He joked.
Chanel snorted. “There are so many things wrong with that sentence; I wouldn’t even know where to begin. But I do know I saw Alice Fawley groaning and vowing to murder you in your sleep, and Mary Macdonald wants to castrate you…so…” She trailed off ominously and James winced.
“That’s not even humorous.” He scowled. She laughed.
“I can’t even begin to imagine how women would react if something were to happen to them.” James said nervously.
“Oh that’s charming.”
James paled at the familiar voice. “How much of that did you hear?”
Lily rolled her eyes. “Let’s just say I feel like I know you a little bit better now.”
James gave a sheepish smile. Chanel raised a manicured brow.
“So, are you excited for the game?” James asked excitedly. He noted that she would look exceptional in maroon. Lily smiled. “I am actually, I’ll be rooting for Gryffindor in the stands, though be warned- Alice and Mary aren’t your biggest fans right now.”
Chanel gave him a look as if to say ‘I told you so’. He frowned. “So I’ve heard. Bloody traitors.”
Lily giggled. “What do you do to them anyway? They always come back half dead.”
James smirked. “We have to be in top shape and that means pushing them. We aren’t the best team around because we sit around eating pasties. They knew what they signed up for when they tried out for the team.”
Lily shook her head. “I’ll never understand Quidditch.”
Chanel scoffed. “Join the club.”
James looked to her in surprise. “Wow, I do believe the two of you actually just agreed on something.”
Lily’s lip twitched. “I should get going then, I’ll see you later?”
James pulled at a loose red strand and nodded. “Bright and early and decked out in red and gold. The same had better apply to you as well.”
She gave a tinkering laugh. “Of course.”
James smiled and watched her leave before someone cleared their throat.
James turned around in surprise.
“Yeah, remember me? I’m still here, thanks for asking.”
James scratched the back of his neck as he smiled sheepishly. “Sorry, I don’t think you’ve ever been so quiet.”
Chanel scoffed. “Well with all your shameless flirting, I didn’t get a chance to put a word in edgewise.”
James rolled his eyes. “Will you give it up already? She’s just a friend.”
Chanel scoffed. “Who are you trying to convince exactly?”
“AND GRYFFINDOR WINS!”
The maroon clad crowd in the stands jumped to their feet with a roar, pumping their arms in excitement.
As James’ feet touched the ground, his team bounded towards him, chanting ‘Gryffindor’ joyfully. He threw his head back in laughter and gave his seeker, Cory Andrews, a tight, one armed hug.
Sirius hopped on James’ back and engaged the cheering crowd.
Together, he and his animated team members marched back to the locker rooms where they would celebrate privately before the traditional victory house party.
“Congratulations!” Lily cried as she approached the Marauders. Sirius eyeballed her in appreciation while James smiled gratefully.
Marlene, Mary and Alice loped behind her as well, the latter two receiving congratulatory pats as they trudged through the crowd .
“If it isn’t my wonderful teammates!” James cried. “Still planning on killing me?”
Mary rolled her grey eyes. “Whatever Potter, we still haven’t ruled it out. Though a few more wins like this, and maybe we’ll reconsider.” Alice nodded in agreement.
Sirius hooted. “No worries ladies, Gryffindor is winning the cup this year! I can feel it in my bones.”
Alice scowled. “Oi, don’t jinx it you dolt!”
Remus chuckled. “He’s an arrogant fool and it’ll be the death of him.”
“Preach it, Lupin!” Marlene exclaimed, raising her glass appreciatively. Sirius’ smile faltered. Lily noticed this, but before she could react, the rest of the team sauntered over excitedly. “What’s this, a team meeting?!”
James smiled. “A toast, to this amazing team without whom, we could never have won this game! Congratulations my friends! Two down, one to go!”
The entire common room exploded with cheers and as the crowd slowly began to disperse, Anna and Chanel appeared, dragging a reluctant Melody behind them.
Sirius smirked. “Took you long enough, where the hell have you been?”
Chanel scowled at their company before responding promptly with, “Trying not to get trampled under this crowd.”
Marlene hooked her arm around Lily’s and gestured to her friends. “C’mon ladies, I need a drink.”
Mary agreed and Lily turned back as the girls pulled her away. “Congratulations again.” She threw the boys a smile and shot them a wave before disappearing in the crowd.
James frowned. “You know what? I think I need one too.” Saluting the group, he pushed through the crowd, disappearing in the throng of people.
Melody pushed her hair behind her ear and avoided eye contact with any of the marauders. Sirius shifted uncomfortably.
“So that was some game. I especially enjoyed the bludger at Reedman’s head.” Anna smirked, in an effort to break the tension.
Sirius took the bait and grinned at the memory of the bludger making contact with Anna’s ex boyfriend. “What can I say, I have excellent aim.”
“Pete, you falling asleep on us mate?” Sirius barked a few hours later, a bottle in his hands, leaning over to glimpse at the blonde boy’s face.
Peter mumbled something inaudible before his head rolled back. His snores reminded Sirius of a dormant fire breathing dragon. James seemed distracted as he squinted at something in the distance. Sirius followed his gaze curiously and wished he hadn’t.
While James was likely watching Melody, Sirius experienced an uncomfortable feeling in his stomach as his eyes flickered towards Anna, draped across an unfamiliar boy.
He was surprised at his reaction. He had no reason to feel this way, yet still...
“Well, there’s something you don’t see every day.”
Sirius turned around, surprised to find James staring at him.
James cocked his head. “You know, I always wondered how jealousy looked on you.”
Sirius snorted. “Seeing as you’re pissed out of your mind, I’ll excuse the stupidity coming out of your mouth.”
James shook his head slowly. “Denial isn’t just a river in Egypt mate.”
Sirius’ face was blank. “What?”
Remus joined James in snorting wryly.
“I still can’t believe you’re denying it.” Remus muttered when Sirius continued to refute the fact that he was jealous.
After all, it wasn’t typical of Sirius to be interested in her love life, or in anyone’s love life for that matter- unless it interfered with their ability for a quick shag. Even then, it was questionable.
James rolled his eyes. “Either you like her, or you don’t; it’s as simple as that.”
“It’s not.” He muttered.
“And why not?”
“Because the last time he did, she rejected him.” Peter offered.
Three pairs of eyes glowered in his direction.
“Not helping Wormtail.” James said before turning to Sirius again. “Listen, telling her you enjoyed your drunken spoon on my bed isn’t the same as telling her you genuinely like her as more than a friend.”
“Well said!” Remus exclaimed, only to be shot a withering glare. Sirius ran a hand through his uncharacteristically unruly hair. “I haven’t done this in a long time. Feels weird... and I don’t know if you remember, but it didn’t exactly end well last time.”
“That’s your fault; you had a good thing with Marlene.”
Remus shook his head. “This is nothing to be ashamed about. It’s about time you grew up.”
Sirius wrinkled his nose in disgust.
Sitting in class, Sirius contemplated over everything his friends had said. Was he actually growing up? Maturing? And if he was, was it supposed to suck this much?
He gave a heavy sigh. Normally he would have gone to Melody with this sort of thing. After all, she was a girl herself. But with their current situation, Sirius didn’t know where they stood anymore. He missed her, but at the same time he felt like it would be a betrayal of his friendship with James to reconcile.
For a split moment, he wished he had more female friends. Unfortunately, he’d pissed off half of the female population and the other half only wanted to sleep with him.
Not that there was a problem with this.
Sirius gave a forlorn sigh.
James gave him a strange look before going back to flinging spit balls at Snivellus’ greasy head.
It was then- gazing at Severus Snape’s oily mane- that he was hit with an epiehany. Practically hitting himself for not having thought of this sooner, he waited anxiously for the tedious class to end.
“Oi Evans! Wait up!”
Both Lily and her companion turned around in surprise, Lily’s was more so in amusement while her friend looked irritated.
“Ah, McMullen, fancy seeing you; Evans, can I have a word?”
William McMullen narrowed his eyes but he remained silent as Sirius smirked eagerly, hopping on the balls of his feet like a child who’d just managed to steal a cookie before dinner.
Lily smiled. “What’s got you so excited?”
Sirius offered her a meaningful look and she turned apologetically towards McMullen. “I’ll see you later Will, alright?”
The Ravenclaw chaser glared at Sirius, looked at Lily and then glared againat Sirius before nodding. “Yeah, that’s fine.” He answered in a posh, deep voice. He shot her a gentle smile before walking off.
“So, fraternizing with the enemy I see.” Sirius said playfully.
Lily rolled her eyes. “You would think of it like that. So what can I do for you Black? You usually don’t grace me with your presence unless you want something.”
Sirius smiled devilishly and eyed her appreciatively. “Oh there are many things that I want from you, unfortunately none of which you’d give me.”
Lily scoffed. “Does anything intelligent ever come out of your mouth?”
Sirius’s grin grew wider, eerily reminding Lily of the Cheshire cat. “You could find out for yourself.” He answered; innuendo laced in his silky voice.
Lily huffed in frustration. “Right, I’m leaving!” Before she could turn away, Sirius caught her wrist.
“Okay I’m sorry. I promise I’m done. In all seriousness, I do need your help.”
Lily turned around, her eyes brimming with curiosity. “What kind of help?”
“Well... I need some advice.”
Lily snorted. “And the billion other people you could ask are busy?”
Sirius frowned. “I mean girl advice.”
“Again, the billion others?”
Sirius sighed impatiently. “I’m serious Lily.”
Her lips twitched. “You don’t need to introduce yourself, I know who you are.”
Sirius groaned, cursing his parents for christening him with such a hideously annoying name.
“Sorry, it was just too tempting. But honestly, why not ask one of your friends?”
Sirius smirked. “I thought we were friends.”
“Oh yes, because we so often gather for tea and crumpets. I mean Melody, or Anna, or Emmanuel. I’m sure they could help you more than I could.”
“See, the thing is, Melody and I aren’t exactly on speaking terms, Chanel would probably listen to two words before getting bored and Anna…well, she’s kind of who I need your help with.” He shuffled his foot nervously and Lily’s jaw dropped.
“Oh my god!”
Sirius jumped, whipping his wand out and clutching it tightly.
Lily gave a small giggle. “You need to relax Black, I’m just surprised- well, astounded more like. You’re actually nervous…over a girl! This is rich!”
Sirius stuffed his wand back into his robe and glowered at the giddy red head.
“You’re mental.” He muttered. “So will you help me?”
Lily grinned and placed her hands firmly on her hips. “And enjoy a chance to watch you blubber and stutter like a nervous idiot? Sign me up!”
Sirius groaned. “Why do I get the feeling I’m going to regret this?”
A strange expression rested over her features. “So you’re sure it’s Anna you like?”
Sirius gave her a weird look. “Yeah, why?”
She shook her head. “Nothing, never mind.” Lily clapped her hands together. “Now grasshopper, express yourself.” She exclaimed in a worldly voice, making wild motions with her arms.
Sirius stared at her like she’d gone off her rocker.
Lily rolled her eyes. “Explain what you need help with.” She translated.
Sirius leaned against the wall, hands buried in his pocket. “Okay, well... at the Potter’s Christmas party, I guess we had a little too much to drink because the next morning we were...er...well, you know...” He cleared his throat.
“In bed together.”
Her eyed widened.
“But we didn’t have sex.” He added quickly. “We just...made out.”
She snickered. “It actually wouldn’t surprise me if you managed to get Saint Sarah in bed with you.”
“Extremely funny Lily, now will you let me finish?”
Lily nodded and Sirius continued to explain to her the details of the aftermath as well as his embarrassingly awkward conversation with Anna the first day back.
“-I mean, I’ve never felt this way. Aside from Marlene anyway.” Lily pursed her lips.
“Let’s hope you don’t show it the same way you showed Marlene then.”
Sirius had the decency to look abashed. “Does she still hate me for it?”
“Well- not as much as she used to.” Lily encouraged.
“I really am sorry. I never meant to hurt her. It was stupid- I was stupid. I really did love her.”
Lily smiled. “I think she knows that, deep down. But it doesn’t stop the hurt.”
He nodded. “I know; which is why I’d like your advice on what I should do about Anna. I want to tell her, but I don’t want to risk the awkward aftermath.”
“That’s surprisingly wise, coming from you.”
Sirius’ lip curved upward. “You’re just full of wit aren’t you?”
She smiled. “The way I see it, at this point, it would be a mistake to avoid your attraction to her. If you’re afraid about losing her as a friend, then don’t risk it, but if you think there’s even a small chance that she may feel the same way, I think it’s worth a shot. After all, you’ll never know if you don’t try, right?”
Sirius let out a nervous breath and Lily shrugged. “It’s really all up to you Sirius; if you want her, fight for her.”
“Where have you been?” James asked from his bed as he read through Remus’ gift.
Sirius loosened his tie and ruffled his already mussed hair. “Evans.”
Remus snort-coughed and Peter sat up abruptly.
“You’re fucking kidding right?” James asked bluntly, looking absolutely gobsmacked.
Sirius looked up in bewildered confusion before smirking. “I don’t mean it like that you dolts. Merlin, get your heads out of the gutter.”
Remus sat back in relief and Peter eyed Sirius dubiously.
James shook his head. “Well you look like you just got out of bed.”
Sirius shrugged. “It’s my sex look. ‘Ts why I’m so irresistible.”
“And you say Lily willingly spoke to you?” Peterasked with a scowl.
James and Remus roared with laughter while Sirius whipped his tie at the boy.
“Actually yes, she and I had a wonderful conversation.” He turned to James. “She’s pretty amazing; I understand why you like her.”
James grinned. “What did she say?”
Sirius shrugged. “I figured I needed a woman’s point of view, so I asked her for advice about how to go about with Anna.”
Remus smirked. “You didn’t!”
Sirius sat on the edge of his bed and nodded. “Yep, she told me to go for it, said I had nothing to lose and that I’d regret it if I didn’t.”
James sat back and flipped the page. “Smart girl.”
“So are you? Going to tell her I mean?” Peter asked.
Sirius bit the inside of his cheek thoughtfully. “Yeah mate, I think I am.”
He sighed. “But first I have to prove to her I’m not a complete arse.” He rubbed his hand across his face. “Merlin, this is going to be tough.”
“Oh by the way-
Sirius raised his head and turned to James.
“-I think McMullen may have a thing for Evans.”
James looked up. “The Claw chaser?”
Sirius nodded as he threw off his shoes. “They looked pretty cozy.” He huffed thoughtfully. “I honestly thought she fancied you, I guess I was wrong. My woman radar is on the fritz. It’s the lack of sex, I’m telling you.”
Peter snickered and James rolled his eyes. “I keep telling everyone. Evans and I are strictly friends; nothing more.”
Sirius watched his friend for a few seconds before shrugging. “It’s your loss mate; she’s one hell of a girl.”
James flipped the page, the shadow of a smile played at his lips.
A/N So you did the reading and now all that's left is to review. ;)