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EPIC by Solmussa

Format: Novel
Chapters: 33
Word Count: 180,109
Status: COMPLETED

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Contains profanity, Mild violence, Scenes of a sexual nature, Substance abuse, Spoilers

Genres: Romance, Action/Adventure, Young Adult
Characters: Lupin, James, Lily, Sirius, Pettigrew, Voldemort, OC
Pairings: James/Lily, James/OC, Lily/OC, Remus/OC

First Published: 08/12/2019
Last Chapter: 12/18/2019
Last Updated: 12/29/2019

Summary:

"I would rather poke my eyes out with a quill than spend time alone with you, actually” I said coolly. Black ran a hand through his dark long hair, visibly exasperated.

 

“Don’t be ridiculous! I'll have you know that any girl in the school would kill for a chance to spend an entire evening alone with me” he said. Arrogant bastard. Not that he wasn’t right, but you know.



Chapter 1: Jocelyn
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I have never really liked summer. Leaving Hogwarts always made me sad. I had a calendar on the wall that I only used to count the days until the 1st of September, painstakingly crossing one after the other in the loneliness of my bedroom at home. I had never felt more myself than when I was at Hogwarts. I had friends, true friends that I shared everything with. I loved studying and learning, playing Quidditch and the weekend visits to Hogsmeade. The arrival of summer condemned me to two full months away from my favourite place on Earth.

 

It’s not that I didn’t have a good relationship with my parents. I loved them very much, but they were never around. I was also an only child, so I had only the house elves for company. The past couple of summers I had been forced to join summer camps and other random activities with local muggle kids. My parents thought it was important that I was familiar with their world to help strengthen bonds with muggle-borns and help eradicate the silly belief that they were somehow lesser wizards. Whilst I wholeheartedly agreed with this logic and even enjoyed certain muggle things such as their music, books and movies, summer camps were not for me. One of the strongest motivators of my dislike for them was that I could not fly, for obvious reasons. My broom was one of my most beloved and precious possessions. I had the best model money could buy you, and it flew true every single time. I hated not being able to ride it for so long. So, now that I was almost sixteen I had made it clear to my parents that my time was my own and if I had to endure two months away from Hogwarts, I’d decide what to do with it.

 

And that’s how I had ended up bored out of my mind in my house, alone. It was the second day of the summer between fifth and sixth year, and I was getting ready for my morning jog. I’d picked up running that year to help me cope with the added stress of taking the O.W.L.s and now I was hooked. I loved the feeling of freedom that came with running, and how my mind seemed to clear and empty of everything. It was similar to flying, and swimming which I also enjoyed. I guess sports that made interaction with other people optional were my thing.

 

That morning I was feeling a bit nervous, though. It was my first time running in the neighborhood we lived in, which was a very normal, muggle one. I knew nobody could tell I was a witch just by me running past them, but it still felt odd. At Hogwarts, I didn’t really have to worry about traffic or other joggers. Most people exercised in the Quidditch gymnasiums anyway. Resolute, I took a deep breath and stepped outside the gate to our house. 

 

Jax’s POV

 

It was way too hot. How it could be nearly 30 degrees at 8 am was beyond me. British summer was disgusting; the air was muggy and made you sweaty and sticky. And August had arrived hand in hand with a terrifying heat wave. I shook my head quietly cursing my bad luck that had seen the trip to Ibiza with the lads cancelled last minute. I tried taking a sip of my iced coffee but it was already lukewarm. As I turned to chuck it in the nearest bin, she collided with me.

 

“Woah. Watch it, will you? You can’t just change direction last minute!” she yelled. I blinked a few times, confused. Who did this chick think she was?  The iced coffee had exploded and spilled all over my t-shirt and her sports bra, I noticed. It was hard not to.

 

“What are you staring at?”

 

“The remains of my iced coffee” I said, trying to salvage my t-shirt.

 

“Ah, right. Look, I’m sorry your drink is ruined but it was kind of your fault” she said matter-of-factly.

 

At that, I looked at her face for the first time. Wow.

 

“How is your inability to avoid obstacles my fault?”

 

“I was out for a jog, not hurdling” she frowned and I chuckled.

 

“Fair enough. It’s fine, I was throwing this away anyway” I shrugged and put the empty cup in the bin.

 

She took that moment of distraction to look at me closely and I saw her do a double take. I smiled what I hoped was a charming one. It seemed to work, she returned it.

 

“I’m Jax, by the way”

 

“Jocelyn, nice to meet you” she smiled again.

 

“So, Jocelyn,” I tried my luck. If I couldn’t go to Ibiza, maybe I’d get a date in exchange. “How’d you feel about getting a drink?”

 

“Are you asking me out on a date?”

 

“I am”

 

“You don’t know me. Like, at all”

 

“That’s what dates are for. To get to know people”

 

“Mmm... I guess just one drink woulnd't hurt” she gave me a flirtatious smile and it took all I had to not try to steal a kiss. She was so beautiful.

 

“Sweet. I’d like to change out of this t-shirt. Can I meet you at noon? Do you live around here?” I asked her.

 

“Yeah, I do. Do you know the Oaks Inn pub?” she suggested.

 

“Love it. Let’s meet there at noon, yes?”

 

“I’ll see you later”

 

Jocelyn’s POV

 

My heart rate soared out of control as I ran back home to get ready for my date. I had a date. I had a date with a muggle. Yes, he was potentially the hottest muggle I had ever seen, but a muggle nonetheless. Why had I agreed to this? Well, it was obvious why I had agreed. He was dreamy. But, in what universe was this a good idea?

 

This was not what I had meant when I told my two best friends that things were going to change this summer. I was on a mission to put myself out there and have experiences, like, with boys. But, this was so not what I had in mind. I thought the summer was going to be my time to build my confidence, read some magazines, pick up some flirting tips and arm myself with the necessary knowledge and skills to overcome my general introvert tendencies this upcoming sixth year. That was the plan. A real date, with a real guy was step 27 and I wasn’t expecting this to happen until November at the very least, and that was assuming everything went perfectly, which it never did anyway.

 

And, to add fuel to the fire, he was a muggle. Which made things a million times more difficult. How was I going to be able to speak to this guy without revealing my secrets? I should just not go.

 

But I hadn’t been on a date since the beginning of the year, and that had not gone well. At all. As in, he’d only asked me out because of a dare. Turns out, some people thought there was no one more unlikely to say yes to a guy in the entire school than me, so the poor kid wasn’t really expecting it when I agreed. He panicked and quickly explained he had been dared. It was humiliating. He insisted he’d still like to go out with me, but I thought it was just out of pity, so I refused. Such was my luck. I was the only one of my friends who had only had one kiss and it wasn’t even a real one. It had been an experiment, and no one knew about it. Not even my bestests friends. For all intents and purposes, I had never been kissed.

 

The worst part was that I knew exactly why. I was what my mother liked to call ‘a late bloomer’. Basically, I still looked like a child. I think it was partly due to how much I exercised, but I couldn’t help it. I just loved being active, one way or another. I loved feeling strong and capable. I never stopped being in awe of the things my body could do with patience and training. So, if that had cost me my curves, then I guess I was okay with it. I also thought it had something to do with my strong character. Whilst I was quietly out of the spotlight most of the time, I also fancied myself a bit of a ‘protector of the weak’ and I did not back down from a fight if it found me. I guess my temper sometimes got the best of me. The combination was not one people tended to like very much.

 

But, I had not failed to notice that the last couple of months of fifth year and over the course of this summer, something had happened to me. Somewhere in the past month, I’d realized I needed to go shopping for bras and clothes that fit my new frame. I hadn’t really factored this into my plan, to be honest. It was all built on the premises that I was going to have to work really hard to get any attention at all. That guys might actually want to make the first move with me hadn’t even crossed my mind until now.

 

Would my late development spur be enough for people to forget how guarded and quiet I had been (when I wasn’t fighting someone, that is)? Was I attractive enough that someone might actually want to risk being turned down and ask me out for good? Yes, I was chuffed that Jax, who was totally gorgeous – did I already say that? I think I did, anyway – wanted to take me, Jocelyn Silverway, on a date. But, Jax didn’t know me. He hadn’t formed an opinion on what I was like before, so it wasn’t a strong enough indicator of future success. But, he was hot, and he liked me, and I needed to start somewhere or else I would never really learn how to flirt and date people. So, against my better judgment, I put on a summery dress and headed to the Oaks Inn. Jax was waiting for me right outside.

 

“Hey, there you are. I was worried you’d change your mind” he beamed at me and my knees felt a bit weak.

 

“I almost did” I said. He chuckled at that and led me to a table.

 

“So, Jocelyn, how come I’ve never seen you around here before?”

 

“I go to boarding school. I’m only around during summer and until this year, I’ve had trips and things planned”

 

“How old are you?” he asked me. I looked at him. Really looked at him and realized that he was older than I thought at first. Oh crap.

 

“I’m fifteen. My birthday is in a couple of weeks” I knew he’d probably run for the hills but I wasn’t about to lie to him about my age. “How old are you?”

 

“I’m nineteen” he said frowning a bit. 

 

“You say it like you’re a grandpa!” I laughed, relieved. Nineteen wasn’t that bad. If he didn’t have a problem with it, neither did I. My parents had a seven-year age gap between them, this was nothing. 

 

“I am an old soul” he joked. 

 

The waiter chose then to ask for our order, so I took that time to study him. He was probably the best-looking guy I had ever met. Okay, scrap that, he was the second-best looking guy I had… mmm… maybe the third? Let’s go with the best-looking muggle I had ever met. His hair was dark, and long-ish, curling slightly over his ears. His jaw was strong and his cheekbones high. He had this dark aura about him that made him mysterious and alluring, and he had incredibly deep brown eyes.

 

“So, where’s this school you go to?” his voice brought me back to my senses.

 

“Scotland”

 

“Oh, wow. All the way up there? Winters must be freezing”

 

“Yup, it does look quite beautiful. I love the snow, but to be honest right now I can’t even imagine ever being cold again” I fanned myself with my hand dramatically.

 

“Yeah, tell me about it. At least you girls can wear light dresses. I’m stuck with jeans!” 

 

“Well, they look good on you, so I’m not too sad about that” I said. I could have probably said it with a bit more confidence, but this was pretty nerve wracking. First official attempt at flirting was underway.

 

He smiled a wicked smile that made my gut twist slightly, in a good way. He leaned across the table a bit before speaking.

 

“I hear I look even better without” he winked at me and sat back upright. I laughed and blushed a little, but considered this a successful first attempt.

 

“So, erhm… what do you do?”

 

“Me? I’m starting second year of uni in autumn. Studying English lit”

 

“Oh, you like to read?”

 

“I do. What’s your favourite book?”

 

And just like that, we launched into a three hour-long conversation about books, characters and the stories that made us feel for them. He was interesting and his passion for literature was obvious when he explained how he felt about this or that happening in the novel we were discussing. I was captivated and intrigued by him. By the time he paid our bill, despite my insistence that I could take care of my own drinks, and walked out of the pub I was wondering if he would ask to see me again, and hoping that he would.

 

He walked me back in the direction of my house for a little, then we stopped by a small neighborhood part. We sat on a bench and, to my surprise, he took out a pack of cigarettes.

 

“Do you want one?” he offered me.

 

“Nah, thanks. I don’t think I could run or play Q… Lacrosse, very well if I started smoking” Merlin’s pants, that was a close call.

 

“Do you mind if I do?”

 

“No, go on”

 

“It’s a nasty habit but I haven’t been able to kick it” he said. “So, Jocelyn, we’re having a little party tomorrow night with a couple of friends who live nearby, a barbeque in their garden. Do you want to come?”

 

“Yeah, I’d love to” I said. I sounded a lot more confident than I felt. I was really not sure this was a good idea, but I wanted to see him again, badly.

 

“Ace. It’s number 10 Faraday Road. I can wait outside for you if you’d like”

 

“That’d be nice, yes. What time?”

 

“Five”

 

“Cool, I’ll be there”

 

“It’s a date” he said, smiling that wicked smile of his. I pretended to adjust my hair to buy a second to compose myself, he was completely disarming me.

 

I had been graced with luscious hair the color of chocolate, which I liked to keep long. It cascaded down my back in soft waves. I had inherited my dad’s blue eyes and my mother’s delicate features. I knew I was pretty but so far it had been more of a “what a cute little girl” kind of thing. When I looked at Jax again, though, I could tell the last things on his mind were ‘cute’ and ‘little girl’. His gaze was intense, and even though I was nervous, I could not, and didn’t want to, look away.

 

I never thought my first real kiss would be with a muggle, or in a random park in my home neighborhood. I most certainly never thought that it would taste of tobacco, or that my stomach would dance Samba. But when Jax broke the kiss, I realized it had been absolutely perfect, exactly what I needed and that I wanted more. So, so much more.

 

A/N: hello everybody! This chapter is not super exciting because, as you can tell, it is mostly to give you background and introduce the main OC - Jocelyn. It is the only chapter in this fic that doesn't include any of our beloved original characters, so you don't have to worry. Next chapter will be up soon, and the story will begin for real.

 

Disclaimer: I do not own anything in the HP world, it all belongs to Rowling. I only own the plot ideas and the OC characters.

 



Chapter 2: Nobody
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By the time September came around, Jax had been my official boyfriend for almost four weeks, and I was crying quietly after saying goodbye to him. He’d come to my door early that morning. It was evident he hadn’t slept, and he was swaying slightly as he talked to me, indicating he was somewhere between still drunk and starting to get hungover. He’d told me he was going to miss me and that he wasn’t sure how well he was going to cope with the distance.

 

I had never been upset on the 1st of September before. I loved Hogwarts so much it hadn’t even entertained the thought that one day there would be a reason why going back wasn’t the absolute best. For the first time in my life, summer had been incredible. Jax introduced me to his friends and, despite them all being older than me, they just accepted that I was with Jax and treated me like they did everyone else. I became part of a group; I met boys and girls and went to barbeques and swimming in the Lido and even on a couple of nights out with them. I discovered a newfound love for whisky with coke and for tequila shots, and I developed a strong liking for muggle music. I even picked up make-up tricks from the girls, who taught me how to apply liquid black eyeliner. But, most important of all, I had discovered that I had never needed a plan.

 

I had just not been ready until this summer to do any of these things, and like Lily wrote to me on her last letter, that was okay. People matured and grew up and explored new experiences at their own pace, and for me, the breakthrough had come this summer. I just wished it hadn’t happened with people I had to lie to all the time, and with whom I wouldn’t be able to even speak on the phone for the next four months.

 

I wasn’t totally devastated, though. I mean, I was going back to Hogwarts, and I was seeing Lily and Alice again, so I was pretty excited about that. I just wasn’t sure where things were with Jax now. Our conversations the night before and earlier that morning hadn’t been easy, and whilst we hadn’t broken up, I knew it was bound to happen at some point. He, understandably, wasn’t too keen on the long-distance thing. He had freaked out when I told him I couldn’t even come visit for a weekend, and even more so when I said he couldn’t come visit me either. I hated that I had to lie to Jax, not just about where I was going, but also about why phones didn’t work – it wasn’t an easy one to explain, let me tell you.

 

“You’re a bit moody today, did you have a falling out with your friends before summer?” my mother asked me.

 

“What?”

 

“I’ve never seen you this quiet on the way to King’s Cross”

 

“Ah, well, no. I’m just missing Jax and his friends a bit”

 

“Oh, honey, you’ll forget about him in no time. You’ll see” she said. They weren’t angry about me dating a muggle, but they were convinced it was ‘a summer thing’ and that I would snap out of it sooner or later.

 

“Yeah, I guess so. I’ll be alright as soon as I see the Express, I love it” I said.

 

Truer words were never spoken. As soon as I ran into the wall-barrier that was the entrance to Platform 9 and ¾ my spirits lifted. The Hogwarts Express was a thing of beauty. I loved it.

 

I quickly scanned the crowd trying to find one of my friends. It was way too crowded, so I decided to claim an empty compartment instead. Luggage safely in the hold and compartment secured, I jumped off the train again to say bye to my parents.

 

“Jo! Jo!” a sweet voice yelled from a short distance away.

 

“Alice! Hello! I was looking for you… ouch!” she launched herself at me, almost toppling me over. She was skinny but was at least half a head taller than me.

 

“Oh my God. Jo, you look insane! I know you mentioned in your letters that you finally got boobs but whoa. Hello ladies! You’re sexy now! And, since when do you have better eyeliner skills than I do? Have you seen Lily? We need to get ourselves an empty carriage!” she fired all of these things at me in rapid succession and I just stared, waiting for her excitement to subdue a little.

 

Alice was one of my closest friends. She was a Gryffindor, like me, and one of my roommates. She was tall (a lot taller than me) and willowy and had beautiful blond hair and blue eyes. The colour of our eyes was about the only thing we had in common when it came to looks, and even then, my eyes were intense blue and hers more like blue-silver.

 

“Yeah, it looks like my biological clock decided I had had enough humiliation and gave in at last!” I joked. She shook her head.

 

“Hi Mr and Mrs Silverway. Nice to see you again” she greeted my parents. Always so polite, our Alice.

 

“Nice to you too Alice. Have fun this year, you deserve it after all the hard work you put in for the O.W.L.s!” my dad said.

 

“We will! I promise. Now, if you excuse us, we need to find Lily”

 

“Bye mom, dad. I’ll write in a couple of weeks”

 

Lily Evans was my other close friend. Alice and I had been friends since we shared a train carriage on our first ride to Hogwarts six years ago. We had met Lily right after she ignored Sirius Black’s attempts to get her to sit with him following her sorting sat with us instead. She was the shortest of the three (I was a whole inch taller than her!) but what she lacked in height she made up for in energy. She was a firecracker, and I loved to remind her of it. We’d both endured childish looks together for ages, until she came back from Christmas break last year with wonderful new curves. I had always thought we’d kind of have similar timing, but when it was clear my boobs weren’t going to show up any time soon, I just accepted that I was the invisible friend. I was never bitter about it, though. Lily and Alice were too nice and genuine to ever hold something like that against them. 

 

“There you are!” Alice said enthusiastically. I grabbed her arm and stopped her from tackling Lily, for her safety.

 

“Hi girls! Bye guys, I’ll see you at Christmas” Lily waved to her parents and joined us.

 

We made our way to the train together and sat in the compartment I had secured. I clapped my hands excitedly as we readied ourselves for yet another pleasant journey to Hogwarts.

 

“So, how was your summer” Alice put her hands together and looked at Lily inquisitively.

 

“It was okay, actually. Petunia has a new boyfriend, Vernon, so she wasn’t around much”

 

“Oh, gossip! Is he good looking?”

 

“He’s not really my type, to be honest” Lily shrugged. “Why are we talking about Petunia when the REAL gossip here is Jo’s summer of sex, drugs and rock and roll?”

 

“I was giving her ten minutes of courtesy.” Alice replied, clapping her hands “But I guess we can jump right in!” I groaned.

 

“I met a guy, we are dating, he’s awesome” I said.

 

“Nice try” said Alice

 

“Yeah, we want the details” Lily smirked. “SPILL”

 

“What does he look like?” Alice insisted.

 

This was one of the many reasons I loved these girls to bits. They were genuinely invested in me, in what happened to me, in my experiences, in my life just as much as I was in theirs. It was a nice feeling knowing they cared so much, but more importantly, knowing I could trust them with anything. I had written to them both and told them we’d met, and we’d kissed, and that I was happy. I had also mentioned I was hanging out with his friends, and that I had made up my mind to not miss a single party this year as a result of that. But I hadn’t sent them any pictures.

 

Lily had her first kiss before any of us, and she had told us in strict confidence. She had kissed Severus Snape sometime during fourth year, back when they were still close friends. I think she would have developed serious romantic feelings for him if we hadn’t found out he was really into the Dark Arts. Of course, that little incident last year when he called her a ‘you know what’ for being muggle-born put a firm end to whatever was still lingering between them and she made us promise we would never tell anyone they had kissed once.

 

Alice had her first kiss towards the end of fourth year, and it had been none other than the infamous Frank Longbottom. He was in sixth year when it happened, and they had dated for a while before he broke it off to date Alice Fawley instead. I heard they were still together and there were rumours they were going to get married soon.

 

I had never told them that I had kissed a boy on New Year’s Eve during fourth year because I felt too ashamed to admit it. It had been purely experimental, and I didn’t even know his name, nor had I ever seen him again. My main motivation hadn’t even been that I liked him, because I didn’t. It was just that I’d become a bit superstitious about kisses at midnight on New Year’s Eve. So, as far as they were concerned, Jax was my first kissing experience.

 

“Well… as you know, I met him towards the middle of the summer, a couple of weeks before my birthday. He asked me out, I said yes and well, one thing led to another…”

 

“Jocelyn Silverway, did you sleep with him?!” Alice was practically vibrating with excitement.

 

“Absolutely not. I don’t think a month is long enough to feel ready for that… but I did… mmm, well, second base” I couldn’t help the foolish grin that spread across my face. It was like I had finally made it to the ‘cool girls’ club.

 

“And?”

 

“Oh My Days! He is so good at it. It’s hard to think straight when I’m around him. I guess his experience helps” they both giggled.

 

“How old is he?”

 

“Nineteen, he’s starting his second year of university in a couple of weeks. I’ve got a picture of him, here” I took it out of my backpack and showed it to them.

 

It was a nice photograph. We had taken it the day he asked me to be his official girlfriend. I was looking straight at the camera, smiling, and he was kissing me on the cheek. Even thought it was a muggle photo and we were frozen in it, I loved it.

 

“That’s Jax?” Alice asked.

 

“Well, obviously!”

 

“He looks a bit like…” Alice started.

 

“He looks very handsome” Lily said, interrupting her. Alice glanced her way, then back at the photo.

 

“Is that a tattoo on his arm?”

 

“Yeah, he’s got a bit of a bad boy vibe but he’s also sweet”

 

“I am so happy for you!”

 

“I am going to miss him” I sighed.

 

“I bet! Are you still together? Like, you won’t date at school for him?” Alice was what you would call a serial dater. Ever since fourth grade, she had just dated a boy after another. And they were all her soul mate and future husband, until they weren’t. She was a hopeless romantic, and her bad luck so far hadn’t deterred her in her search for The One.

 

“I didn’t even think of discussing exclusivity, to be honest. I mean, we’re boyfriend and girlfriend so I assume that’s a given? But maybe not when you do long distance… anyway, he thinks I go to a girls-only boarding school… I don’t even know why; it was just the lie that came to me first. It is actually really damn hard to date a muggle, I’ll tell you that.”

 

“So, what are you going to do if someone asks you out? Like, Halloween for instance. There’s going to be a party for sure” Alice loved parties.

 

“Right, because I always have a long line of suitors just waiting to take me on a date or another” I scoffed.

 

“I think you’ll find this year to be different” Lily said, pretending to check me out like boys did her and Alice.

 

“And, wasn’t this your plan all along?” Alice added.

 

“Yeah, right, about that… plan’s no longer valid. I mean, I got all the way to second base with a Sex God in the space of a month, so not sure I really need the 38 steps that were supposed to come before that…” I rolled my eyes. They started laughing.

 

And so, the rest of our sixth journey to Hogwarts was devoted to catching up with each other. By the time we reached the castle I was so happy I thought I would burst. With my friends by my side and the newfound confidence that dating an older, extremely good-looking guy gave me, I was ready for Sixth Year to be epic.

 

Lily’s POV

 

I was so nervous I could not stop fidgeting. It was my first day as a sixth-year prefect and the first day of N.E.W.T. classes, and Alice and Jo were running late. Unbelievable.

 

“Will you guys hurry up!” I shrieked at them.

 

“Almost done!” Alice said, still applying mascara.

 

“I can’t find my planner” said Jo from the depths of her trunk.

 

“Leave it, I’ll write it all down for you. You can copy it this evening”

 

“Accio planner!” she said, triumphant as the notebook flew from under a pile of clothes straight towards her.

 

“Or, you can just do that” I shrugged. “Let’s go. Now”

 

“Yes, sir” Jo saluted me as she pretended to march out of our room, followed by a sleepy Alice.

 

Breakfast was my favourite meal of the day. I just love breakfast food; I could eat it for all meals and be perfectly content. I held my schedule out with one hand, whilst eating a toast with the other and went over the classes for the day again.

 

“Transfiguration first thing on a Monday morning is really not very nice” said Alice looking over my shoulder.

 

“You’ll be fine, here’s your coffee” Jo handed her a steaming mug.

 

“You know I won’t be fine. I barely got the required scores on the O.W.L.s and it was all because you helped me”

 

“You made it, that’s all that matters” I said. It was true that Alice wasn’t the brightest student, but she tried so hard. She would never be an Auror, but then again, she didn’t want to be. Her dream was to run a beauty boutique for witches.

 

“Who are we sharing Transfiguration with?” Jo asked.

 

“Just Gryffindors”

 

“Oh, come on!” she groaned.

 

“What’s the issue?”

 

“McGonagall is going to make me pair up with Black again” she dropped her head on the table with a loud ‘thump’. “I hate my life” Alice and I exchanged a quick look.

 

“Maybe this year she won’t?” I tried. I knew it was futile.

 

Jocelyn had a gift for Transfiguration. She was an incredibly talented witch in general, but Transfiguration and DADA were her forte. No one, and I mean no one, could outdo her. Sirius Black, a boy in our year, was almost as good as her. They were both so far ahead of the rest of the class that Professor McGonagall made them pair up every lesson, despite the fact that Jo hated him, and she seemed to be invisible to him.

 

We weren’t very close with any group of boys in particular, we were just equally friendly with everyone in general. But Sirius Black and his friends were a special lot. They were the most arrogant, annoying bastards in the entire school. They acted like they owned the place. It didn’t help that Sirius Black was the most handsome man to ever walk this Earth, followed closely by number one bullying toerag James Potter. Not that I would ever, in a million years, admit I thought he was hot. I’d rather wrestle a hippogriff.

 

We pretty much tried to avoid them at all times, mostly for my sake. James Potter was a cocky moron who had two main hobbies. One, go around hexing people for fun. Two, ask me out any opportunity he got which, despite my efforts to stay well away from his general proximity, happened way too often. He had asked me out every single day for two weeks straight at the start of fourth year, and despite my feverish refusal, he had still not given up. Last year his attempts had averaged a once-a-week score. Not even saying I wouldn’t date him even if it was a choice between him and the giant squid had done the trick.

 

“What if I pretend I forgot everything I knew over the summer?” Jo said, with a glint of hope in her eyes. “I could tell McGonagall all that partying, and drinking killed half my brain cells”

 

“What, like you got boobs and suddenly lost your brains?” Alice chuckled.

 

“I see the coffee is working fast” Jo shot her a murderous glance.

 

“McGonagall would never believe her star student just ‘forgot’ anything”

 

“I’m going to ask her to let me work alone”

 

“You know, maybe Black will actually talk to you this year” Alice said. Jo choked on her pumpkin juice.

 

“I’m not sure if that would make things better or worse, Alice”

 

“What if they’ve grown up? You have changed. I mean, I loved the old you too, but I think this has been good for you. Maybe they have changed too?” she suggested.

 

“Right, well if Potter stops stalking Lily, and Remus gets over his chronic shyness I might consider giving up my plot to murder Sirius Black” she said, rolling her eyes again.

 

“That’s the spirit!” I added. They all looked at me sympathetically.

 

“Speak of the devil” Alice nodded towards the Great Hall entrance as they walked in.

 

James Potter, Sirius Black, Remus Lupin and Peter Pettigrew were the school’s official and unofficial troublemakers. Collectively, they had been in detention more than every other student in Gryffindor put together. Possibly the entire school. But it didn’t stop there. They weren’t just Trouble-Makers-In Chief. They also threw the best parties, got together with the hottest girls [mostly Black, but the others got around as well or so I had heard] and absolutely dominated the social balance of the school. And, just because their massive egos weren’t big enough, Potter and Black were also Gryffindor’s Quidditch team star players.

 

“Good morning Evans! Had a good summer?” here we go, again. I rolled my eyes and waved a hand dismissively.

 

“It was brilliant. I didn’t encounter any arrogant toerags at all, so can’t complain really” I said. He chuckled and ran a hand through his hair.

 

“I had a great summer, too” he said, beaming.

 

“She didn’t ask” said Jo. Potter looked at her briefly, then at me again. Before he could reply, Black cut in.

 

“Who are you again?” oh no. He didn’t. What an asshole!

 

Jo had had a crush on Sirius Black all the way through first year and until fourth year, when McGonagall started pairing them up for Transfiguration work. Then, it had gone from crushing on him to hating his guts passionately. He thought she was so insignificant he loved to pretend he couldn’t even remember her name half the time. She got a bit upset about it at the beginning, but not anymore. Our Jo didn’t take shit from anybody, not even Sirius Black.

 

“Nobody” she said, standing up without even looking his way. She had some impressive self-control skills. “Transfiguration starts in ten, we should get going”

 

“Yes” I stood up, so did Alice. Black looked at her again.

 

“Seriously though, I’ve never seen you before. Are you new in the school?” I looked at him in complete outrage, but he didn’t seem fazed. 

 

“Sirius, mate, that’s Jocelyn Silverway. You have been paired up for every Transfiguration lesson we’ve had since fourth year” Lupin said, looking embarrassed.  

 

“Don’t worry about it, Lupin” Jo said coolly. “It’s not his fault his brain cells don’t work properly. Being permanently crushed under the weight of that gigantic ego must be positively exhausting” she said before walking away.

 

A/N: I'm not 100%% sure how much older the Longbottoms were, so I've left it a bit vague here. Don't kill me if it's inaccurate, please :)

Most of this story will be told from Jo's POV but I like getting into other characters head's a little bit. I wrote this fic because I'm in love with the marauders and intensely curious about what their school years were like, so I wanted to explore all of their characters a little.



Chapter 3: Tryouts
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Jocelyn’s POV

 

The first week of school was over. How that had happened, I did not know. One minute I was getting off the Express, the next it was Friday afternoon. Just like that. The bell rang and we were dismissed from our last class of the first week of sixth year. I wanted nothing more than to go to the common room with Lily and Alice but our gossiping session had to wait.  I had been summoned to a quick meeting with Professor McGonagall to go over some extra Transfigurations work she wanted to give me. I swung my backpack over my shoulder and mouthed ‘see you later’ to my friends before dashing out of the classroom.

 

“Come in,” she said when I knocked on her door.

 

“Hello professor,” I sat down at her desk. She looked at me from behind her glasses.

 

“Miss Silverway, I trust your first week has been good?”

 

“It has, thanks,” I said. “Professor.” I added quickly. She gave me the slightest hint of a smile.

 

“Good. I called you here because there is a project that I would like you to take on, if you are interested,” she said. “Where you decide to take on this extra work or not won’t affect your N.E.W.T. results, this would be separate to your normal school work.”

 

The next words were out of my mouth before I could even think to stop myself.

 

“If I do it, will you stop forcing me to work with Black during your class?” I shouldn’t have said it, I told everyone it didn’t bother me, and I almost believed it.

 

But it wasn’t true. I hated him. I hated him because he had made me feel so insignificant for so long. I hated him because all I ever got from him was cold indifference. No matter how hard I tried to act as if it was nothing, working with him and being civil to him every transfigurations lessons when he couldn’t even remember my name took a massive toll on me, and I was tired of it. 

 

“Who are you?”

 

His question on the first day back still stung, deep down. Over the years, I had got used to him forgetting my name, or getting it wrong. I was used to him not being fazed when someone else pointed it out to him, as if it didn’t matter to him that it was humiliating. But, it turns out, I wasn’t used to it enough.

 

“Miss Silverway, are you still with me?” McGonagall asked. Her voice brought me out of my reverie.

 

“Sorry Professor, I got lost in thought,” I apologized. She looked at me and I swear a small smile was playing on her lips.

 

“I said if you master the task I’d like to set you, you won’t have to work with Mr. Black again. In fact, you won’t have to work with anyone again, you’ll be free to work on your Transfiguration skills on your own.”

 

“I’m in,” I breathed out, a bit too eagerly.

 

“I haven’t told you what I have in mind yet.”

 

“Doesn’t matter. I’ll do it.” I sounded like a pathetic little child, but I didn’t care. For my own sanity and to preserve whatever dignity I had left, I needed to be as far away from Sirius Black as possible at all times.

 

“Very well then. How would you like to become an animagus?”

 

#

 

“There’s a party tonight in the common room,” Alice informed us as she walked through the door to our room. I had only just arrived from my meeting with McGonagall and was still reeling from it.

 

“What are we celebrating?” Lily asked without looking up from the magazine she was reading.  

 

“That we’re back,” Alice replied.

 

“Is it a Gryffindor party?” I asked. I dropped my bag on the floor next to my trunk with a heavy ‘thump’ before turning to look at my blond friend.

 

“It is. I think Potter and his friends are smuggling in some drinks,” she smiled. Alice loved a party and now, so did I. “I heard talk of firewhisky!”

 

“Oooh, fun!” I beamed. “What are we wearing?” I asked, walking over and opening her closet.

 

“That’s MY closet,” an outraged Alice said.

 

“I know! What are you wearing? I need some help,” I said. She nodded and hurried over.

 

“I think I’m going to go with the black top I got at the end of last year” Lily said from her bed. I looked at her over my shoulder to see she’d put her magazine down.

 

“Oh, that was so cute! Nice one,” Alice replied. I nodded enthusiastically and marched to my closet.

 

“So, Alice, what are you thinking?”

 

“I got this blue blouse during the summer…” she pulled it out of her drawer and showed it to us. It was really nice. Lily and I both nodded in approval.

 

“Right, that leaves me. Alice, what do you think?” I asked. She joined me by my wardrobe and looked through some of my clothes.

 

“When did you get this?” she asked, pulling out a navy, vaporous blouse.

 

“This summer. I haven’t worn it yet.”

 

“Well, there you go. You’re wearing it today,” she said.

 

“Does it go with this?” I showed them a denim mini skirt.

 

“It does! You are going in for the kill!” Alice clapped. I rolled my eyes.

 

“I am not. I have a boyfriend, remember,” I sighed. “But I do want people to notice me, you know? No more guarded and introverted Jocelyn,” I declared. Lily eyed me carefully.

 

“Don’t let that idiot Black get to you, Jo. He is an absolute moron,” Lily said. Ugh, I hate it how intuitive she is.

 

“It is just so wrong, you know? Just because I didn’t grow a massive pair of boobs in fourth year doesn’t mean I’m not an interesting person. Someone worth remembering.” I took a deep breath in. I wasn’t about to get emotional over this.

 

“Hey, we know that. But boys are boys, Jo.”

 

“Which is why you’re dating an actual man!” Alice declared.

 

“Jax?”

 

“Yes. He’s not a silly sixteen year old, he’s an adult, and he noticed you,” Lily said.

 

“And he remembers you,” Alice chimed in, beaming.

 

“You’re damn right he does,” I wiggled my eyebrows and they burst out laughing.

 

“Plus, you now do have some impressive boobs, my friend. I bet you my entire eye shadow collection nobody will be forgetting you anymore,” Alice said, shaking her upper body in a silly way. Lily chortled.  

 

“You are obsessed, Alice.” I rolled my eyes.

 

I hate to say that Alice was right. When I emerged from the girls’ staircase, I noticed out of the corner of my eye that at least four guys were checking me out. I felt a nervous smile on my lips, and took a deep breath as I stepped into the common room.

 

“Hello Jocelyn, did you have a good summer?” I turned around quickly and came face to face with Gryffindor’s Keeper, Matt Wood. He was a nice bloke and he got along well with Lily.

 

“Hi Matt, yeah, I did. You?”

 

“Awesome. So, are you just going to stand by the staircase all night?” he smiled. I could feel the blush spreading, but I’d be damned if I was going to make a fool of myself.  


“Give a girl a chance to arrive to the party!” I said, smiling. He chuckled and then he offered me his arm. 

 

He led me to the table where various drinks were displayed, and I busied myself pouring a small glass of fire whisky. I hadn’t tried it before and was praying to Merlin it was similar to muggle whiskey. The thought made me miss Jax intensely, but I pushed the image of his handsome face to the back of my head, determined to have a good time.

 

“Whoa, someone’s in the mood to party!” Matt said eyeing my choice of drink.

 

“I just never really liked butter beer that much,” I admitted.

 

I saw Lily and Alice out of the corner of my eye and had to use all my willpower to not roll my eyes. It was evident they had waited to come downstairs on purpose, so something like this would happen.

 

“So, Jocelyn, how’s first N.E.W.T.s year treating you so far?” Matt asked me casually.

 

“You can call me Jo.”

 

“Alright,” he chuckled. “So, go on, Jo.”

 

“So far so good, but then again it’s been a week, so who knows,” I shrugged. He tilted his head to the side.

 

“I hear you’re quite the witch,” he told me.

 

“Really?” not that it wasn’t true, I just couldn’t believe anyone in school would be talking about me.

 

“Yeah, everybody knows you’re the Transfiguration Boss Lady. Don’t try to act all humble with me,” he smiled openly.

 

“I guess word gets around,” I said, shrugging.

 

“To be fair, you are quite a mystery, but people aren’t blind, you know? And the gossip of your O.W.L. exam spread like wildfire. I can’t remember last time someone aced a N.E.W.T. level transfiguration spell during their practical O.W.L.” he looked genuinely impressed and I felt myself blushing again.

 

“Oh, that. I forgot about that,” I said lamely.

 

I had stood out due to my academic achievements since first year, but that never went hand in hand with popularity unless you were, of course, James Potter or Sirius Black, so I tried really hard to keep a low profile when it came to my grades and results. I had struggled enough with my lack of popularity to add ‘she’s a know-it-all’ to the list of issues.

 

“It’s really impressive, I like a smart girl,” he said, beaming at me.

 

“Thanks Matt,” I returned the smile, feeling a bit better. 

 

The conversation became easier and easier after that. Before I knew it, we had been talking for over an hour. Matt was funny and engaging, and he listened as much as he spoke. Eventually, we joined the group of people Lily and Alice were talking to and enjoyed the rest of the party all together. It was a lot of fun. When I went to bed that night, I realized that for the first time ever I had made it through a Hogwarts party without feeling invisible, shy or leaving it early. Big Win.

 

#

 

Sundays were my favourite day of the week. Nobody, and I mean literally nobody, was awake before 9am. The grounds were empty and quiet, and the air was fresh and smelled of dew, grass and the fast approaching autumn. I had been running for almost an hour, but I still didn’t feel like it was enough. I had so much energy to burn, so many thoughts to sort through.

 

The past three weeks had been a whirlwind. After our conversation at the party, Matt now made an effort to talk to me often between classes. He even volunteered to be my partner during Charms a couple of times, and him and his best friend Cal sat with Lily, Alice and I for a few meals. As it turns out, when people realize you have expanded your social circle, even by one person, they take it as an invitation to associate with you.

 

It was like being in a completely different school. No longer did I walk the corridors with Lily and Alice, quietly fading into the background when people said hello to them. No, people said hello to me now. I was still getting used to it, but it felt good, and most importantly, it felt natural. I wasn’t forcing anything or going up to people to try and become friends with them. Things were just evolving day after day on their own.

 

Lily and Alice were delighted. They loved the spotlight, and instead of feeling upset it was shining on me for once, they just rejoiced in the fact that it was now big enough for us three.

 

As my feet pounded the grass, I went through the latest gossip in my head. Alice had hooked up with some Ravenclaw guy on Friday evening, and I wondered whether we were about to be introduce to Alice’s future husband number 17. Chuckling to myself, I decided to head back towards the school and do some stretches. Enough running for one day. Lost in thought as I was, I didn’t see him until it was too late.

 

“Silverway?” I looked up and straight into a pair of breathtaking hazel eyes.

 

I hated to admit it, but James Potter was almost as handsome as his side-kick. They easily made the top two spots of every list every girl in school ever made about boys.

 

“Oh, I didn’t see you there, Potter,” I said.

 

“Ehm… what were you doing?” he asked.

 

“Running,” I said in a ‘isn’t it obvious’ tone.

 

“Why?”

 

“Because I like it.” I shrugged.

 

“Do you always train like this?” he asked. I frowned. What?

 

“What?”

 

“How long were you running for?” he asked me.

 

“Erhm… not sure. Maybe an hour and a half? Why?”

 

“Well, you’re in great shape,” he said. “Athletic shape, I mean”

 

“Thanks? What’s this about, Potter?” I highly doubted he had come up to me to tell me I was in good shape. He barely ever spoke to me at all, probably afraid someone would find out he used to be friends with a nobody.

 

“Ehm… well, I remember you like flying and I’m told you are now very good at it,” he looked at me intently. “And I’ve got two open spots on my team. And I thought maybe you're interested.”

 

“Are you asking me to try out for the Quidditch team?” I was dumbfounded. “Wait, who told you what?”

 

“I don’t kiss and tell, Silverway,” he smirked.

 

Merlin, was it me or was he looking better than usual this morning? I never thought I would ever look at James Potter this way, but I guess being friends when little doesn’t make you immune to absurdly good looks if you go on to pretend you don’t know each other at school. But that’s a story for another day.

 

“Look, I know you can fly, and rumour also has it you ride a Nimbus 700. Is that true?” he said, shrugging.

 

“I do have a Nimbus 700,” was all I could say.

 

Stating a fact was easy. My mind was running away with thoughts of me on the Quidditch team and it was scaring me. I looked around mildly alarmed by the possibility of someone overhearing, but the rest of the team members were busy with the equipment a safe distance away.

 

“I… what positions are open?” did I want a chance at a spot on the team? I loved Quidditch with a passion but playing as part of a team was something I’d never done before.

 

“Does that mean you’re interested?”

 

“I don’t know, I’ve never played competitively before. I could be crap.”

 

“That’s why we have tryouts, to find out.”

 

“What are the positions?” I insisted. I couldn’t deny that I was furiously curious.

 

I knew the biggest transformation this summer had brought upon me had nothing to do with looks, but with my new found confidence. I had been stepping outside of my comfort zone day in and day out, and it had all been really good so far. Perhaps this was the cherry on the top. Or, if I was terrible at the tryouts and people saw it, it could be the first ever-recorded death by embarrassment. 

 

“I need a Beater and a Seeker,” he replied. My mouth formed a perfect O at that.

 

“What happened to Leroy?” he was a seventh year and had been Beater for the past three. He was very, very good.

 

“Leroy and Lucie both quit the team together, they’re under too much pressure with N.E.W.T.s work. And, they are dating, so every spare second they get they want to spend sucking face instead of training,” Potter made a face of disgust so intense it was almost funny.

 

“You’ve got to be kidding me.”

 

“I am not,” he said indignantly.

 

James Potter was an arrogant idiot (or toerag, as Lily loved to call him) most of the time, but Quidditch was his passion. When it came to it, he took it seriously and was very committed. The idea that someone might want to ditch it voluntarily was atrocious to him. I was inclined to agree, in spite of myself.

 

“I’m not sure I can be your Beater Potter. But I’ll try my luck with the Snitch,” I said. This wasn’t a step outside of my comfort zone; this was a freaking leap of faith. Merlin, I was scared.

 

“Are you sure? I was kind of hoping you knew how to swing a bat.”

 

“I find that mildly offensive,” I said. He chuckled.

 

“Try out for both, let the team decide. We’re the pros, after all.”

 

I looked at him again. Bad idea, he was distracting. His hazel eyes were intense, and his untidy hair gave him the bad boy vibe I liked so much. Same kind of vibe Jax had. Ugh, the last thing I wanted was to start thinking of Jax. Focus, Jocelyn, do you want to try out for the Quidditch team? I asked myself. This was the first time we had open positions in two years. This wasn’t likely to happen again before I graduated. And I did love Quidditch. Okay, fine.

 

“Fine, I’ll do it,” I nodded. “Do I have time to change?”

 

“I’m afraid not, but you’re wearing sports gear anyway. Do you mind?” his eyes traveled up and down my body and, I noticed with a jolt, not as quickly as if he'd just been checking my clothing.

 

For a split second, I thought about covering myself with my arms but then I realized there was no reason to. I was wearing perfectly appropriate black running gear and if James Potter liked the way the fabric hugged my body, I was going to take it as a compliment. So, I kept my arms by my sides and nodded.

 

“Nah, let’s do this.”

 

As I approached the team and the people who had come to try out today, I felt increasingly nervous. I loved Quidditch, and I loved nothing more than cheering for Gryffindor every match. Was I fooling myself thinking I had a chance to actually join them and play?

 

I hadn’t brought my broom or my wand with me, so I had to borrow one of the spare ones available. It was pretty crap, but it would have to do. As I stepped out and in front of the team, I felt all their eyes on me. I could do this.

 

“Jocelyn Silverway, tryout for…” I looked at James questioningly.

 

“Silverway is trying out for both positions at my request, so let’s start with Seeker,” he told the others.

 

They nodded. Black looked at me with an almost lazy expression on his face, as if he couldn’t be bothered to even watch my tryout. It made me angry.

 

I hit the ground and soared. As soon as they were out of my range of vision, I relaxed. I had always loved flying. Much like running, it gave me a chance to escape. I used to think flying for an audience would make me nervous or uncomfortable. After all, I was not used to people paying attention to me. But I found that all my shyness, all my doubts and reservations vanished when I was riding my broom. I flew, and flew, twirled and dived, took my hands off the handle, even stood up on it, and kept going as the team threw challenge after challenge at me.

 

By the time I landed, I was destroyed. Maybe trying out for two positions after a long run had not been the smartest idea. Panting, I got off the broom and put it upright to support myself on it.

 

“That was quite the show,” said Annie. She was a Chaser, like Potter. I smiled at her.

 

“Thanks, Annie,” I said weakly.

 

“Thank you everyone for trying out for the two positions today. We will discuss as a team and put up the announcement this evening in the common room,” said Potter to the small crowd.

 

I nodded in acknowledgment and turned around to leave, but I had barely managed a step when I felt someone grabbing my arm. I turned around and found myself staring into impossibly grey eyes.

 

“You know, if I’d ever seen you fly before I would have never forgotten your name.”

 

I couldn’t do anything else but stare unattractively at him. Five long years. It had taken five years for Sirius Black to speak a sentence to me that wasn’t humiliating and longer than a couple of words. He was watching me, clearly expecting me to say something. What did I want to say? What could I say?

 

I stood a little more upright despite my tired body’s protests and looked at him with all the dignity I could muster.

 

“If that’s your attempt at an apology, let me tell you it sucks,” I was extremely glad my voice sounded a lot calmer than I felt.

 

“I have nothing to apologise for,” he said, haughtily.

 

“Right,” I turned around, ready to leave. He sidestepped me and stood in front of me, blocking my path.

 

“Wait, wait. Fine, okay. I’m sorry I found it hard to remember your name. Happy?” he ran a hand through his long dark hair.

 

“Happy? What’s your issue?” I couldn’t believe this guy.

 

“What more do you want, Silverway? If you knew me at all you’d realize how rare it was that I even said that,” he replied, visibly annoyed.

 

I was outraged. How dare he be irritated? Does he think a lousy ‘I’m sorry’ makes up for years of mistreatment?

 

“Fine, whatever you say, Black. Did you want anything or can I go now?” I just didn’t have the energy required to fight with him or talk to him.

 

“I wanted to check what position you actually want on the team. Because you’ll make the team, I can guarantee you that. You flew better than anybody else despite having a borrowed broom,” I was so not expecting that.

 

“I… I don’t… either is fine,” I said eventually. He smirked, winked at me and left. Just like that.

 

I let my feet carry me of their own volition, trusting habit would take me to the Gryffindor Tower because I was too shocked to engage in any thinking, I just couldn’t. My brain had put all its power into figuring out how this had happened. Sirius Black had a conversation with me, a real conversation, with several sentences and even an apology. A lousy one, but contrary to his belief, I did know apologizing wasn’t a thing for him. I was confused, and intrigued, and oddly excited at the same time. I felt like the world was upside down. It was dizzying.



Chapter 4: Team
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Lily’s POV

 

Prefect patrols were terribly annoying. That evening, I had been stuck on a strange corridor in a hidden corner of the castle for well over three hours because someone was worried a student would accidentally wander into a room which temporarily housed a dangerous maturing potion. I wondered, not for the first time, why they didn't simply put a spell on the door. No, instead, we had to allocate specific prefect patrols to cover the area until the potion was ready. What an absurd waste of people's time.

 

Still irritated, I made my way back to the common room as fast as I could when my shift was over. It was a Sunday, and I wanted time to chill with my friends before starting a new week. I went in through the portrait of the Fat Lady after angrily muttering the password. I was going to go straight to our room, but then I saw a relatively large group of people gathered around the notice board, visibly excited about something. Curious, I approached them and found James Potter right in the middle of it. How could he not be.

 

“Right, stand back everyone, please,” he waved a hand vaguely as if dismissing a particularly annoying fly. “Thank you all for trying out for the team today. As you know, we only had two open positions. These have now been filled. Congratulations to the new team members, first practice is Tuesday at seven pm.”

 

Ah, so it was Quidditch. Even I couldn’t find a reason to dislike Potter when it came to Quidditch. He loved it fiercely and believed it his sacred duty to do everything he could so that Gryffindor won every match. He had earned the Captain spot with hard work and ridiculous skills. Not that I would ever tell him that, either. I'd rather cuddle a manticore.

 

“Oh my God. Oh my Godric!" I heard someone shriek. I moved closer to the source. "There you are! Lily! Lily! Come here, right now. Now!” Alice’s excited voice yelled a second before she emerged from the crowd gathered around the notice board looking bewildered.

 

“What’s wrong?”

 

“What’s wrong? What’s wrong? See for yourself,” she pointed at the parchment Potter had stuck there and gave me a curious look.

 

“Right, okay, let’s see,” I pushed my way through the crowd until I was right in front of the announcement. It was just the Quidditch team list.

 

Gryffindor Quidditch Team

 

Chaser – James Potter (C)

Chaser – Annie Vargas

Chaser – Louise Stilton

Keeper – Matt Wood

Seeker – Callum Griffiths

Beater – Sirius Black

Beater – Jocelyn Silverway

 

“Wait, what?” I read her name again. And again. Alice had made her way back in through the group of people and was standing next to me, her eyebrows raised as her eyes darted from the paper to my face and back to the paper.

 

"Well?" she said expectantly.

 

“What the… How did this happen? What? Where’s Jo?” I stuttered. looked at Alice and took off running towards our room. I didn’t even have to check to know she was right behind me.

 

Jo was sitting on her bed reading a book, oblivious to the world. She looked up when we came in and waved a vague hello.

 

“Jo… care to explain how and why your name is on the list James Potter just put up on the board? The Quidditch team list?” I said without delay.

 

Her mouth fell open and she scrambled to get up quickly. “Are you sure? You’re not kidding me, are you? Are you sure, Lily? I thought he was teasing me! I actually made the team?” she was practically vibrating with excitement.  

 

“Wait, what?” Alice looked as confused as I felt.

 

“Long story, but I tried out this morning. Black said I was going to make it for sure, which I thought meant I had no chance, so I didn’t bother to go check the list,” she explained, pushing past us and heading down towards the common room.

 

She made her way towards the notice board, pushing a couple of scared looking second-years out of the way and scanned the list carefully. Alice and I waited patiently whilst she re-read the tiny list a million times.

 

“You know, no matter how many times you read it, your name is still going to be there, and it’s still going to say beater,” I pointed out. Jocelyn nodded, still completely silent. Her eyes were wide. Her previous excitement seemed to have given way to panic. We sat down on a sofa together.

 

“I didn’t even know you wanted to try out,” Alice said.

 

“Yeah, where did this come from?” I asked.

 

“Come on, you know I love Quidditch, and flying. I even have my own broom!” she recovered from her shock and fear just enough to protest.

 

“True, but you never even mentioned you were interested in joining the team,” I pointed out.

 

“Well… I wasn’t. I mean, I didn’t even think it was an option for me. Who was going to take me seriously? Nobody wants a short, skinny girl on their Quidditch team,” she shrugged.

 

“What made you change your mind?” I asked her.

 

“Potter. I ran into him on the way back from my jog this morning. They were about to start tryouts and he asked me. I do not know what possessed me to say yes. I was probably high on endorphins now that I think about it,” she gave a little shudder.

 

“James Potter? That arrogant bastard asked you to try out for his team?” I asked.

 

“Not only that, he gave her a spot in it,” Alice added. Jo looked like this was only just sinking in.

 

“Holy shit,” she whispered.

 

“Yeah, holy shit alright,” I shook my head.

 

“What’s wrong? I know I didn’t tell you guys but it was a spur of the moment kind of thing,” she said. She was nervously playing with her hands.

 

“It’s not that, silly. I’m happy for you,” I said. “Though you do look mildly panicked.”

 

“It’s nerve wracking,” she whispered. Alice nodded in sympathy.

 

“But you want to be in the team, don’t you?” I asked her.

 

“I… I think I do…” she said, smiling a little for the first time.

 

“Oh, come on Jo. You said yourself. You love Quidditch! And, you’re the only female beater in the entire school, do you even know how cool that is? I’m friends with the coolest chick in Hogwarts,” Alice said enthusiastically.  

 

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Jo blushed lightly.

 

“It’s true!” Alice insisted.

 

“Jo…” I said. She looked at me, noticing the concern on my face.

 

“What?” she asked me. I had a feeling she knew what I was about to say.

 

“How do you feel about… you know… not only are you on the team but, like Alice said, you’re a beater. One half of a very important team…”

 

“Oh,” Jo’s face dropped. “Yeah… I... I really didn't... I... well, I didn’t think I’d make beater. I thought if anything, I'd make the seeker spot.”

 

“I’m sure it’ll be fine, though. Black takes Quidditch seriously, he won’t mess you around,” Alice sounded very confident.

 

“I…” she started.

 

“I agree with Alice,” I said firmly. It would do Jo no good to be scared of a fellow teammate. “Are you gonna be okay spending that much time with him?” I asked her instead.

 

She thought about this for a moment.

 

“Yeah, I am fine,” I must have made a face because she quickly added “wait, you think I’m still crushing on him? Please, no way. I grew out of that,” she shook her head. I shook my head too.

 

“I meant, well, just in general. You hate him, or so you tell us on a daily basis.”

 

She sighed dramatically. “I think I’m going to have to be civil towards him now. For the sake of the team.”

 

“Who knows, you might even become friends,” Alice said, smiling cheekily. Jo blanched.

 

“I’d rather wrestle a hippogriff,” she said. I nodded sympathetically; I knew the feeling.

 

“I’m going to speak to Potter and thank him. I’ll see you guys in a bit,” Jo said standing up.

 

As soon as she was out of earshot, Alice turned to look at me. “Do you believe her?”

 

“I am not sure what to believe,” I said truthfully.

 

Jo had never lied to us, ever. But the subject of Sirius Black wasn’t one where she was very forthcoming.

 

“Are we ever going to tell her about Jax?” Alice asked.

 

“Absolutely not. There’s no reason for us to rub it in, it would be cruel,” I said. Alice nodded, and that was that.

 

Jocelyn’s POV

 

The first Quidditch match of the year was fast approaching. We were halfway through October, only three weekends away from the Gryffindor vs Slytherin game. I was so busy with classes, homework, Quidditch practice and my Transfigurations project that I had barely any time left to breathe. I was doing a decent job as beater so far, and Potter made sure to tell me he was pleased with my performance during our regular practice. Luckily for me, McGonagall was a major Quidditch fan and she’d agreed to extending our deadlines for my side project so I could train with the team and get some sleep, too.

 

I was on the way back to the common room after a Wednesday session in her office when I heard a familiar voice behind me.  

 

“Silverway, you got a minute?”

 

“Sure,” since becoming beater, Black had been civil, polite and even friendly towards me on the odd occasion, which was a big improvement on the previous five years.

 

I had also done my absolute best to not be rude towards him, managing to only insult him one out of three times we spoke to each other. I considered this a huge accomplishment and believed I ought to be congratulated, which Lily and Alice made sure to do regularly.

 

“I was wondering if you’d be up for an extra Quidditch practice session on Friday, after school,” he said.

 

“Annie has agreed to a Friday session?” I was surprised, it was her date night with her boyfriend, and it was sacred to her.

 

“No, I meant just you and me. I’ve got a new idea I want to try, to catch the snakes off guard,” he explained.

 

“Ah, right. I would rather poke my eyes out with a quill than spend time alone with you, actually,” I said. He ran a hand through his hair, visibly exasperated.

 

“Don’t be ridiculous. I’ll have you know any girl in the school would kill for a chance to spend an entire evening alone with me,” he said. Arrogant bastard. Not that he wasn’t right, but you know.

 

“Too bad I’m not just any girl,” I said coolly.

 

“This is for the team!” he insisted, ignoring my comment.

 

“Look, Black, I get that we have to work together and all, and I want us to win, but Potter already trains us real hard. I’m tired, and it’s Friday evening you’re asking me to give up.”

 

“I know that with your skills and smaller than average beater frame, we have a unique opportunity to crush the Slytherin team. I have come up with a risky move, but it only works if you trust me. We need to practice it and we have to keep it a secret. We can’t risk anyone seeing it," he said eagerly. Then, he added, "come on, Silverway, I’m talking about absolutely destroying Slytherin, not just winning the game. Aren’t you a little bit curious at least?” he gave me his best puppy eyes and I was furious with myself to find out I couldn’t resist them.

 

I sighed and said “when you put it that way… okay, fine, I’ll do it. But only because I want to see Slytherin bite the dust,” he made a tiny fist pump gesture and smiled.

 

“Meet me by the gymnasium, we’ll go to the edge of the forest. Six o’clock Friday.”

 

“Sure,” I nodded and started walking towards the common room.

 

I realised as he awkwardly walked next to me that he must be going the same way. Wonderful. I did my best not to glance his way and was doing a semi-decent job when he looked at me as spoke again.

 

“So, erhm… you coming to the Halloween party?”

 

“Yeah, I am. Everyone is going,” I replied. He was taller than me, so I didn’t have a great view of his face unless I looked openly at him (which I refused to do on principle).

 

“Are you going with your boyfriend?” I almost tripped and face planted. He caught me with ease, helping me up. I fleetingly marvelled at both his strength and his reflexes, but I was quickly distracted by the small panic growing in my chest. How did Sirius know about Jax?

 

“Jax?” I blurted.

 

“Who the hell is Jax?” he asked curiously.

 

Crap. I saw the moment he realised what he’d discovered something. He was much too clever.

 

“So, you’re not with Wood?”

 

“Matt? You thought my boyfriend was Matt? We’re just friends,” I was bewildered.

 

Yes, Matt and I had a chat here and there and paired up for Charms often, but it’s not like I was even flirting with the guy. I was still torn about what to do about my real boyfriend. No matter how badly I wanted to go all hormonal and just hook up with random boys like everyone else was doing, I wasn’t a cheater.

 

“But, you do have a boyfriend. Jax?” he stopped walking and turned to look at me, blocking my way. It irritated me how effective this was. He was so much bigger than me it was impossible for me to get past him.

 

“None of your business,” I said, defiant.

 

He was making me nervous. He looked at me for what felt like an eternity, although it was probably just a few seconds. His eyes were mesmerising, so much so that I could not bring myself to look away, no matter how hard I tried. They were grey, but not boring or plain. No, his eyes were silver, like swirling pools of moonlight, and I could see they hid a depth that I had never thought someone like Black would have. I momentarily forgot what we were talking about. He moved an inch closer to me and I snapped out of it. What was I doing? This was Sirius Black for crying out loud!

 

“Why are you even asking, Black? What's it to you?” I asked, trying to sound nonchalant.

 

He moved a bit closer still and all my alarm bells began ringing at once. I had never been this close to anyone other than Jax before. He was so close I could smell him, and oh my days, did he smell good. There was a mix of outdoors scents, like grass and early morning dew on him, mixed with something minty. It was extremely alluring. 'I hate Sirius Black. I hate Sirius Black. I hate him' I chanted to myself, trying (and failing) to stop the weakening of my knees.

 

“I just wondered…” he started. I took a small step backwards. For some reason, it felt extremely important that I put some distance between us. He didn’t agree, and again closed the space between us.

 

“Yes?” my voice was a whisper.

 

A part of my brain started shouting at me, demanding to know what the hell I was doing. I was frozen and terrified. Merlin’s pants, somebody please interrupt, throw something at me, do something! Help!

 

“Maybe you’d…” he said softly. He was interrupted before he could finish.

 

I had never been happier to see McGonagall in my entire life. We heard her and Dumbledore chatting as they turned the corner and entered the corridor where we were.

 

“Never mind. It’s good, good for you. I hope he comes cheer for us at the game,” he said, moving away hastily. I stood there, alone and confused, for a long time after he walked away.

 

#

 

Friday came around and I met with Black as agreed. Carrying our brooms, bats and the box that held the bludgers, we made our way furtively to the edge of the grounds. Once he was satisfied no one could see us, he turned to me and dropped the box on the floor.

 

“Alright, so, I know we aren’t exactly friends, but I really think we can make this work. You are small, and agile, and have some serious diving skills. Most beaters can’t really fly that well, they are usually chosen for upper body strength and eye-hand coordination,” he said matter of factly.

 

“Did you ask Potter to make me a beater?” the question had been bothering me since I saw the team list. I was sure if I was going to make a position, if would have been seeker and I hadn’t stopped wondering if Black had had anything to do with it.

 

“I did.”

 

“Why? So you could boss me around or try to embarrass me?” I said bitterly. He looked appalled.

 

“You really think I’m an asshole.”

 

“I just don’t get it. I have been invisible to you forever. And then, all of a sudden, you want me to be your what? You buddy? Your partner? Doesn’t make sense. You said it yourself, I'm too small for a beater.”

 

“Look, it’s not personal, okay? And yeah, I didn’t really pay attention to you before but so what, I didn’t think you paid attention to me either and I’m not whining about it. You have been a total bitch to me every single transfiguration lesson we’ve ever had. Why would I even bother with you?”

 

“I wouldn’t have been if you had ever acknowledged me as a fellow student. I wasn’t going to just let you get away with treating me like shit,” I snapped.

 

“You are so goddam difficult,” he scoffed. I raised an eyebrow at him. He looked positively murderous as he said “what more do you want? I already said I was sorry, that’s all you’re ever going to get. Give it fucking rest already!”

 

“You are un-fucking-believable. I don’t even know why I bothered,” I took off, hoping he’d give up. Apparently, whatever idea he had for this beater thing was too good to let go though, because he chased me.

 

 “Wait. Fine, fine. You win. Let’s start again, shall we? I know your name, Jocelyn Silverway. I won’t forget it anymore, okay?” he said when he caught up with me, which given how tall and fit he was took a whole three seconds at most.

 

“We need to resolve this, Silverway, or else the team will fall apart. They need us, and we need to work as a unit. You know it,” he had a point. As much as he annoyed me, I wasn’t about to cause the demise of the mighty Gryffindor Quidditch team. I could get over this. Over him.

 

“Fine, whatever,” I rolled my eyes. “But I want to know, why did you pick me as beater?” He smiled a little bit.

 

“I was impressed with your skills, and I knew we needed something different to win the tournament this year. You would have made a great seeker, but so would Cal. I didn’t see anyone else that could work as a beater.”

 

"But I'm tiny."

 

"Tiny but mighty. You're stronger than you look - that's our advantage," he said, smirking.

 

“What do you have in mind?” I asked him.

 

“Let me show you.”

 

#

 

The day before Halloween was an eventful one. Both Lily and Alice secured dates for the party happening the next day, and they could not stop talking about how excited they were. Alice hadn’t dated anyone this year, which was a new record for the longest single stretch she’d had. Lily had been on and off with a seventh year Hufflepuff until he had asked her to commit and she’d freaked out and bolted. Now, she had her eye on new Gryffindor seeker Cal, her date to the Halloween party.

 

I had Transfigurations practice with McGonagall, during which I made a major breakthrough on my journey towards becoming an animagus. I had chosen the month I was going to start my first attempt and had made great progress on the preparation for the spell. McGonagall was convinced I’d be able to transform before Easter if I kept going at this rate. Feeling very accomplished and proud of myself, I left her office and headed to the common room. It was well past curfew, and the castle was pretty much deserted.

 

In the eerie silence, it was easy to distinguish the sound of someone hurrying down the corridor towards me. But, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t see them. Thinking I was starting to imagine things out of pure exhaustion, I kept close to the wall and made my way back to the Gryffindor tower. It was a full moon, and the common room looked ghostly in the silver light. Quietly, I got to my room and went to bed.

 

Sirius POV

 

What the hell was I thinking? That he deserved it. But, did he? He was despicable, I had no doubt about that, but who was I if I was willing to put someone else in mortal danger? I should have thought about it before giving Snivellus the stupid instructions. I wasn’t a little kid anymore; I had to get my shit together. I couldn’t keep acting like this. Having fun with a few pranks here and there, yes, doing stupid shit like this? Never again. If I was grown up enough to run away from home, I had to act like it. Prongs had been right to yell at me. I only hoped he wouldn't be too angry for too long.

 

The door to the common room opened and I looked up, anxious to see if it was Prongs coming back. He hadn’t let me come with him, arguing that Snivellus would never agree to leave if I was there. He was probably right. As long as Snape wasn’t killed, we’d be all right. And I would never do anything this stupid again.

 

It wasn’t Prongs that came in, though. It was Jocelyn. What was she doing out and about at this hour? I observed from my shadowed spot as she looked around briefly, completely missing me, and sighed. As she disappeared up the stairs, I wondered what other secrets she was hiding. I had been shocked to find out she had a boyfriend. I wasn’t expecting it at all. I'd only been teasing her. Thank Merlin I had asked before inviting her to come to the Halloween party with me, I would have not dealt well with her turning me down. Nobody turns me down.


Thinking about it, I wondered why I had been so shocked to find out she was seeing someone. Why wouldn't she be? Without any effort I could think of at least five guys who were very obviously currently interested in her, and the real count was probably a lot higher. Even Moony and Prongs had commented on how hot she was. I thought she was hands down the best-looking girl in the entire school, if you asked me. Not that anybody did. Apparently, everyone shared her assumption that I had spent the past five years oblivious to her existence. Little did they know I had always thought she was gorgeous. I had first noticed her around the same time Prongs started bothering Red, but I just didn't act on it like James did. It just wasn’t my style. Girls came to me, and I had my fun with them, and then that was it. I didn't pursue, I didn't chase anyone. I never had to, anyway. But not with Jocelyn. Never Jocelyn. It did hurt my ego slightly that she had never even looked my way twice, but then again, she had been a quiet, guarded girl so I didn’t take it personally. She probably didn't look at anybody - I had told myself.

 

This year, however, it was different. It wasn’t so much that she’d suddenly come back with killer curves which had revolutionised the male population in the school, it was that she was finally coming out of her shell. And, even though she now spoke to loads of people, made new friends, and even – I had heard – had been flirting a bit with some blokes, she still didn’t spare me a second thought. It was outrageous and it was driving me mad. I could no longer pretend that it was just who she was, quiet and emotionally unavailable. She was really not interested in me.

 

Until this year, I had never really thought about the fact that I probably had nobody to blame but myself. Truth be told, I had always known her name. You didn't simply forget the name of the prettiest girl in your year. I just thought it was hilarious to pretend and tease her about it every time McGonagall made me work with her. Not that I would ever admit this to anyone, but I was jealous of her. Her transfigurations skills were out of this world, and it pissed me off. I had been the first of The Marauders to achieve the animagus transformation; I was supposed to be the best at Transfiguration, not little Jocelyn.

 

Little Jocelyn, who was now my partner in the Quidditch team and, to my astonishment, had shown me she could smash a bludger almost as far as I could. Little Jocelyn, who was smarter than almost anyone I knew, and always had a good comeback at the ready. Little Jocelyn, who had absolutely no idea the effect she had on people, the effect she had on me. Little Jocelyn, who, as it turns out, was not so little anymore. 



Chapter 5: Getting closer
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Jocelyn’s POV

 

Game day. To say I was nervous was the understatement of the year. Potter had been training us to exhaustion every session, and Black and I had been working on our new strategy really hard. It was a one-time wonder, if we messed it up we wouldn’t be able to do it again and it would all have been for nothing. After all, we only had the element of surprise on our side once. We were going all-out with it, it would either win the game for us or end catastrophically. Nerve-racking as it was, it made be a bit giddy to know there was something that only he and I knew, that we had our own secret code of sorts. I just hoped I wouldn’t make a fool of myself by screwing it up today.

 

As I worked through my equipment, I reflected on the past two months. Turns out that being on the Quidditch team automatically meant Potter, Lupin, Pettigrew and Black kept you safe from their pranks and general people-hexing tendencies, which was a nice surprise. Potter was also increasingly friendly towards me, and he had not yet asked Lily out this year. I was beginning to think they had actually matured a bit. Of course, that didn’t mean they stopped getting into fights with Slytherins, Snape in particular, but I couldn’t really blame them for that. The snakes deserved everything they got.

 

“You’ll be great, trust me,” Lily said, bringing me out of my own mind.

 

“Shouldn’t you be wishing Cal good luck?” I asked. The Halloween party had been a hit, and Lily and Cal were now an item. I worried briefly Potter would kick him off the team, but as I had already noticed, he seemed to be over his obsession with Lily.

 

“He’s waiting in the common room, but just because I have a new boyfriend doesn’t mean I won’t look after my friends.” She gave me a pointed look.

 

“Thank you.” I hugged her quickly. “I just don’t want to let the team down.”

 

“You won’t. You’ve been working so hard. You’ll be great” Alice chimed in. I nodded, took a deep breath and readied myself.

 

"It's just... well, Black is a good Seeker," the Slytherin team had just appointed Sirius' little brother, Regulus, as their new seeker and word had it he was actually rather good. I was worried he'd beat us.

 

"You are a great beater, you'll distract him long enough for Cal to catch the snitch. I'm sure of it," said Lily.

 

“Okay, let’s go. Potter will freak out if we’re late,” I took a deep breath and walked out of the room.

 

A little later I said bye to my friends who headed towards the gradstands, and took another deep breath to calm myself. It didn't work very well. I walked into the changing rooms gripping my broom so hard my knuckles were white.

 

“Hey,” Black approached me. “You okay?”he murmured. I nodded curtly.

 

“Sirius, Silverway, come here,” Potter ordered.

 

“Aye, aye captain!” I muttered, making my way over to where the rest of the team was gathered. I heard Black chuckle lightly behind me.

 

“Right, I don’t have to tell you that today’s game is the most important game of the entire year. We must crush those Slytherin snakes,” he looked a lot more menacing than I ever thought possible. It was kind of sexy, I thought, which took me completely by surprise. I wasn't in the habit of noticing how sexy Potter was (except that day during tryouts, and that time during Defence, and that time he was hexing Snape... my brain supplied). I hoped I wasn't blushing as I turned my attention back to our captain, hoping my little day dream had gonne unnoticed.

 

“We have an advantage, our secret weapon,” he continued, nodding in my direction. “Nobody has seen you play before; nobody expects you to be much of a threat as a beater. You look too small to have much upper body strength”

 

“Gee, thanks Cap.”

 

“You know what I mean. They will focus all their energy into neutralizing Sirius, not you. That’s our advantage,” he smiled openly at me and my knees got a little weak. This was so not the time for Potter to turn on his charm!

 

“They’re in for a treat!” Black said, smirking. Right, yes, focus Jocelyn, focus I told myself.

 

With a few more words of encouragement, we got ready to go. Black stood next to me, bat in one hand, broom in the other.

 

“Let’s show them what a killer team we make,” he whispered.

 

I looked up at him in surprise. It was true that we’d become a bit closer during our secret practice sessions. However, I still wasn’t used to it. The fact that Sirius Black and I had managed to get to a point where we kept frostiness and insults to a minimum, and even had a bit of banter together, was still awe-inspiring. I think he was also a bit shocked himself. 

 

“They won’t know what hit them,” I replied, smiling back.

 

I don’t know if it was the fact that our captain had shown so much faith in me, or that Black truly believed we were a good team. Whatever the reason, by the time I kicked the ground and soared up in the air all my nerves, anxiety and doubts had disappeared, and I was ready to show them all what I could do.

 

And so I did.

 

Potter had been right. The Slytherins did not think for a second that I was a threat to them and their beaters (nasty bullies both of them) went straight for Black, leaving me alone. This was what we had been practicing for every Friday and Sunday evening on the edge of the grounds for the past three weeks. I saw Black nod almost imperceptibly and I got ready. The bat felt like an extension of my arm as I gripped it hard with just one hand. I circled above the players, waiting for the right time. And then, my opening came.

 

Black was being chased by the two beaters from Slytherin, who shot the bludgers (and sometimes their bats, too) his way furiously. He skillfully dodged them, and hit them with strength sending them flying towards the green Keeper and a chaser, and buying us the time we needed. As soon as the bludgers were hurtling towards the Slytherin goalposts I dived.

 

It was a very dangerous move, one that we had practiced time and time again to perfect, and that had seen us both crashing to the ground in a heap of limbs more than once. I put everything I had into it; every single thought and every single cell in my body was wired towards making this work. The two beaters didn’t know what was happening as I dropped vertically from the sky, shooting through them and Black like an arrow. It was all very precise - the opening was a small one, and I felt my Quidditch robes graze the three brooms as I went past them with deadly precision. Then, I took a deep breath, tensed my arms and, with all the strength I could muster, pulled my broom, twirling around as I changed direction and flew back up, facing the goalposts. I allowed myself a confident smirk as I stood up on my broom and saw the two furious bludgers now coming straight towards me. I even had a second to twirl Black’s bat, which I had grabbed during my dive, playfully teasing the dangerous enchanted balls coming my way.

 

The crowd went wild. I smashed both bludgers, one with each bat, and sent them straight to the two beaters who, too distracted by my maneuver, had failed to notice Black soaring to position himself safely above them. They had no time to react and were both hit badly. I didn’t pause to evaluate the extent of the damage as I hurried over to Black’s side and returned his bat. Now, we needed to stop the bludgers from harassing our team members.

 

“I told you it would work,” he winked at me.  I looked around quickly and saw both our opponents on the ground being tended to.

 

“Worth every minute I had to endure alone with you,” I said, smashing away a rogue bludger and smiling widely. He chuckled and winked at me.

 

That both our beater opponents were down didn’t mean we could relax. Bludgers were still dangerous and went after our players, so we divided the field and got to work. With no one to protect the Slytherin team from the bludgers we kept sending their way, the players struggled to score.

 

I have to say that, despite how proud I was of the stunt I had just pulled, Sirius Black was a spectacle to watch. He seemed to anticipate the bludgers naturally and moved with such grace and strength at the same time he was a dangerous distraction. I had to put all my effort into focusing on the game, instead of watching him fly.

 

James’ POV

 

“That was INSANE!” I shouted as soon as I hit the ground. Cal was still holding the snitch, and the commentator hadn’t even finished announcing our win, but all I could think of was the crazy stunt my beaters had just pulled. “You guys are MENTAL. I loved it, that dive – Jocelyn, oh my Godric, I’m in love!”

 

“I knew you’d like it,” Padfoot landed with a thud, smiling like a maniac. Jocelyn jumped off her broom and ran towards me.

 

“OH MY GOD, WE WON!” she shouted, throwing her arms up in victory. “Thank you for giving me a spot in the team.”

 

“Are you kidding me? I didn’t give you anything, you earned it. Sirius was right, you are magic,” I said lifting her up in the air. Padfoot shot me a funny look that I promptly ignored.

 

“How on Earth did you guys do that?” Annie landed, followed by the rest of the team.

 

“We practiced it a bit,” Padfoot said, shrugging.

 

“It was his idea,” Jocelyn said having climbed back down to the floor. “He came up with the whole thing. It was genius”

 

“Yeah, but we only pulled it off because you were brave enough to trust me,” he replied, catching her with one arm, pulling her into a lose hug and slightly punching her on the shoulder with the other. Interesting. 

 

“Ugh, there isn’t enough disinfectant in the world to wash your sweat off me, Black,” she groaned, trying to escape from him. He laughed loudly but didn’t let her go. She didn't try very hard, either.

 

“Brave or suicidal, not sure,” Cal chimed in, half joking. Padfoot’s attention was still on Jocelyn.

 

“It was the most liberating thing. I mean, I was nervous, we did crash a couple of times…” she looked at Padfoot and made a funny face at him. “But, oh my God, how awesome is it when the crowd gets loud?”

 

“It is glorious” I agreed. “Now, let’s go celebrate. We beat Slytherin and, believe me, this match will go down in Hogwarts history. Your move... wow, just wow! We made Quidditch history today! My children will hear about this, all five of them!”

 

“We should name it,” said Annie with equal enthusiasm.

 

“What do you mean?” that got Padftoot’s interest. He finally let Jocelyn go and she casually moved away without anyone else noticing.

 

“The maneuver, give it a name, you know? Make it official” she explained.

 

“What, like the Wronski Feint?” Jocelyn asked. Padfoot looked impressed she knew it. I was.

 

“Yeah, exactly like that.”

 

“Well, then it should be the Black Diversion,” Jocelyn said. Everyone started giving their opinions all at once, but I did not miss Padfoot’s reaction to her selflessly naming the move after him, despite the fact that she had been the one to perform it and risk crashing. 

 

Jocelyn’s POV

 

The Quidditch match had catapulted me to stardom. It was actually scary. I didn’t feel ready to be the talk of the school, but here I was, being constantly stalked by adoring younger students and regularly congratulated by older ones. Lily and Alice were loving it. Everyone, and I mean everyone, wanted to be friends with us. Even McGonagall had commented on the Black Diversion, praising me for the daring dive and impressive standing-up batting. The Slytherins, however, were not happy. I'd been on the receiving end of a couple of hexes the past week, which had forced me to walk around with a Shield Charm around me whenever Black and Potter weren't around. Luckily for me, they'd picked up on it and we had started to walk to and from classes together, which made sense anyway, as we were all in the same lessons. I was mortified and ecstatic at the same time. Being popular, it turns out, was rather exhausting.

 

That Saturday morning, I walked into the common room after a morning jog and walked straight into the wall of solid muscle that was Sirius Black.

 

“Oumph,” I groaned, blinking rapidly to get my bearings. 

 

“Hey…” he paused and checked me out briefly, noticing my sporty outfit. “Were you running outside?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“It’s like, two degrees. Are you alright?” he asked, visibly horrified.

 

“Fresh air is very good for you, you know.”

 

“No thanks, I’ll pass.”

 

“Suit yourself,” I was going to head to my room, but he stopped me again.

 

“Wait, I got distracted, I actually wanted to talk to you,” he said.

 

“Can’t it wait? I kind of need a shower,” I gestured at my outfit, which consisted of black winter running leggings, long sleeve top and a running gillet.

 

“I can always join you in it,” he said wiggling his eyebrows. Oh my God! I didn’t need this mental image at all distracting me for the rest of the day.

 

“Very funny Black,” I brushed it off, ignoring the flutters in my stomach. I did not even want to imagine Black without a shirt on, let alone fully naked in a shower. I wasn’t sure any female was equipped to survive experiencing that level of hotness without passing out.

 

“Are you going to Hogsmeade today?”

 

“Yeah, we are. With Lily and Alice, I mean. Why?”

 

“Would you guys want to join us for a beer?” he said it so casually, like it wasn’t a big deal. I balked.

 

“Is this Potter’s lame way of trying to get Lily to go out with him? Because that will never happen, I’m telling you,” I said, crossing my arms.

 

“James is over his little crush on Red.”

 

“Why are you asking then?” I eyed him suspiciously.

 

“Just thought it’d be nice to spend some time with you girls, but suit yourself,” he shrugged and turned around, leaving me there.

 

I was at a loss for words. Never in my wildest dreams had I even imagined Sirius Black would ever want to spend any more time than necessary around me. Lily and Alice probably yes. I had always been convinced it was only a matter of time before they became friends with the lot of them, but not me. I always pictured myself too guarded to open up to new people, to make new friendships. As I thought about it, I decided that I couldn’t continue being this way. I had already gone way out of my safety zone this year, and so far all that had happened had been positive. I was finally feeling confident, and meeting new people. I felt like I had outgrown the introverted little girl and become a young woman. Exploring new friendships, and that included boys too, was just the next natural step. Why couldn’t that be Sirius Black and his gang? Truth be told, if it was going to be anyone, they made the most sense. After all, they were in our same year group and in our house, and I was their teammate. I cursed myself silently and took a deep breath. Okay, here we go, leap of faith number two.

 

“Black, wait a second,” I hurried after him. He took a moment, but turned back around. He was smirking. Oh for Merlin’s sake.

 

“You like playing hard to get, don’t you?” he moved closer to me. I wished he stopped doing that. Someone needed to have a conversation with him about personal space and boundaries.

 

“You’re hilarious. Not,” I rolled my eyes at him. “You caught me off guard, that’s all. We’ll meet you at the Three Broomsticks later,” I said. I hurried up the girls’ staircase before I could change my mind.

 

Lily and Alice were studying their wardrobes when I walked into the room.

 

“Come, we’re trying to decide what to wear to Hogsmeade,” Lily had half her clothes on her bed and was rummaging through them.

 

“Yeah… about that… I need to tell you guys something.”

 

“What’s up?” Lily turned to look at me whilst Alice went through her drawers.

 

“The guys asked if we’d be up for having a drink with them, and I said yes.”

 

“The guys? What guys?” Alice’s voice rose a couple of octanes.

 

“Mmm, you know… Lupin and them,” I tried to sound casual and not-at-all bothered. I’m pretty sure I failed miserably.

 

“Those guys? Jo, are you insane? How do you know this isn’t some sort of prank?” Lily started pacing.

 

“Well… I don’t know. I mean, they seem to have calmed down a lot this year in general, and I do train with Potter and Black several times a week now. Plus, I'm getting along with them alright. They’re not that bad,” I argued.

 

“Plus, since Jo’s on their team and pretty much the talk of the school after that crazy dive, they have kept us safe from their pranks. We even got a heads up before the Dungbombs last Thursday,” said Alice. “And, I will admit I am surprised Potter hasn’t asked you out a single time this year, Lily.”

 

“Of course he hasn’t, I’m dating Cal. Why would he?”

 

“He didn’t ask you even before Cal,” I interjected. Alice nodded.

 

“Besides, people do change. Look at Jo!” she said.

 

“Erhm… thanks?” I shrugged. “I know we haven’t exactly got along with them in the past but, as much as I hate to admit it, it’s not like we made any effort. It’s not all on them.”

 

“Excuse me, but their arrogance and general over-the-top attitude have been an issue for years!” Lily said making an outraged gesture.

 

“She’s got a point,” Alice agreed.

 

“True that…” I sat on my bed. “I guess it comes down to whether we think they've grown out of it or not. I mean... teenagers are supposed to do stupid things like that, aren’t we? So, what if they have been arrogant and annoying? They might have changed. I think they have. Look at me, like Alice said, I was guarded and totally closed off from the world and now I'm not. I'm the freaking talk of the school!”

 

“Right, yeah... but why them, though? Didn’t you hate Black’s guts?” Lily proded.

 

“I think I still do,” I sighed dramatically and they giggled, clearly aware that this wasn't so true anymore. “But, let’s face it, they are fun people. And quite cool, if we overlook their arrogance… which, you know, is annoying but not entirely unwarranted. They are smart, good-looking, funny, popular, win almost every Quidditch game… even the teachers love them. And, I guess I like them, too. I want to be friends.”

 

“Hey, I get it. Okay? I really do. I just… I’m not sure I fully trust these guys,”Alice said, sitting next to me.

 

“And you have made other new friends this year, Jo. Matt, for example, and Annie from the Quidditch team” Lily added. “And Cal, he might be my boyfriend but he’s also your friend.”

 

“I know, and it makes me so happy. But all of these people are close to me now kind of by association. Matt always got along with you, Alice, really well so it was kind of safe for me to talk to him. And Annie and Cal are teammates, and they were friends with you Lily, even before you started dating Cal,” I took a deep breath to steady myself.

 

“You guys know how I used to feel about Si... Black. For the longest time I used to imagine what it would be like if he ever saw me. And now he does, he sees me, and so does Potter. The two most popular, good looking guys in school are paying attention to me, genuine attention, not just ‘I want to get in your pants’ attention. They want to be friends with me, of all people,” I explained.

 

“I don’t feel that way about Black anymore, but I am still kind of fascinated by them in general. They are letting me, us, in. Do you even realize how rare that is? Why wouldn’t we give it a go? They are fun people; we know that for a fact. And yes, they have been arrogant and insufferable, who knows, maybe they still are, but what if they’ve also grown up? All signs point to that, so I say we take it one day at a time and get to know them. We can always back off if we think it’s not working,” I finished my little speech and felt oddly drained.

 

“All right, then. We’ll give them a chance. Any signs of trouble and we’re out,” said Lily.

 

“I actually think Jo’s right, you know. This is going to be fun,” Alice said, clapping.

 

**

 

That first trip to Hogsmeade was the official begining of our friendship with the guys. From that point on, we gradually started spending more time together: at mealtimes, sitting closer in classes and even, on occasion, hanging out in the common room together. My personal relationship with Black kept improving but we still had a strange habit of bickering just for fun.

 

“Do that again,” demanded Black one random Transfigurations lesson sometime towards the middle of November.

 

“You forgot the magic word,” I replied coldly.

 

“Aren't you supposed to show me stuff? Isn’t that why we’re partnered up?”

 

“We’re partnered up because McGonagall doesn’t trust you and needs me to make sure you don’t wreak havoc in her class.”

 

“No. We are partners because I am the best in the class and you are second best, tie with James,” he said. I snorted at that.

 

“You are the best?”

 

“I am,” he wiggled his eyebrows at me.

 

“Then how come you need me to repeat that? Shouldn’t you just be able to do it?” his face hardened a little and I stifled a giggle.

 

"You are evil, Silverway," he said.

 

"You do know how to bring out the best in me," I said batting my eyelashes at him. He laughed.

 

"Right," he gave me a smoldering look that turned my insides to jelly and said "now, Silverway, will you please do that again so I can learn it?"

 

There was no way I could deny him anything when he looked at me like that. He knew it. I knew it. It was a universal truth. A dangerous one, too.

 

 

**

 

Our developing relationship with the boys and, most importantly, my status as a Quidditch star had certain side-effects that I was not expecting. One of them was the outstanding fact that Slughorn, our potions teacher, came to talk to me during a lesson towards the end of November. Slughorn had tried to ignore the fact that a Silverway was in his class for the better part of five years, mostly because he’d unsuccessfully tried to recruit my father when he attended Hogwarts. They did not get along well at all, to the point my father had cautioned me against attending his ‘dinner parties’ should he invite me to one. I wasn’t really bothered by it, except for the fact that both Sirius and James were part of the Slug Club and I had heard some wild stories about these parties. I was curious.

 

“Excellent work, Miss Silverway” he said approvingly. I was so flabbergasted I dropped the knife I was holding. Lily stifled a giggle.

 

“It’s all thanks to Lily’s help” I said, trying to deflect attention.

 

“She’s being modest. Jocelyn is very good at potions, but she’s too shy to make a fuss about it” said the redhead. Slughorn gave her an understanding smile.

 

“Well, if Miss Evans speaks so highly of you, Silverway, I think it’s time I invited you to one of our little gatherings. We’re having a Christmas drink together in two weeks, I’d love it if you came” he told me.

 

“Oh, yes, okay, sure. I’ll come. Thank you, Professor” I stuttered a bit, but he didn’t seem to notice.

 

“I look forward to welcoming you” he said, visibly pleased with himself. It occurred to me that perhaps he felt he could get back at my dad by making me a loyal member of his elite group. Fat chance.

 

“Well, it’s official. You’re now part of the Slug Club” Lily laughed when Slughorn was out of earshot.

 

“I’m only coming to the Christmas thing because I’m curious. After that, I’m out. My dad would have a heart attack if he found out” I said, packing my potions kit.

 

“Found out what?” Black put his arm around my shoulders as we walked out of the classroom. I rolled my eyes.

 

“Have you ever heard of ‘personal space’? Are you familiar with it, you know, as a concept?”

 

“I am very familiar with it, in fact, I’m an expert at invading personal spaces” he said, wiggling his eyebrows.

 

I couldn’t help but to laugh. Potter, joining our little group (but standing to my other side so he wasn’t directly next to Lily) said “what was that about? I thought old Slughorn didn’t know you existed. No offense”

 

“None taken. He knows I exist – he and my dad hate each other. But he’s noticed I’m hanging out with you lot now, so he’s trying to recruit me instead of ignore me” I explained.

 

“Did it work?” Black asked.

 

“Well, I’m coming to the Christmas thing” I shrugged. “Just because I’m curious”

 

“What are you curious about, exactly?” Potter asked conversationally. I didn’t miss the twinkle in his eyes, though.

 

“What you two get up to” I replied. Sirius laughed.

 

“Well then, we’re going to have to put on a good show, aren’t we?” he said. I smiled.

 

**

 

Winter had come sometime during November, mildly at first but with more force as we approached the Christmas break. This always presented a problem when it came to Hogsmeade visits, because we had to use the carriages to make it to the village as walking was sure to give us frostbite. I was pondering whether I really, truly wanted to meet Lily and Alice that day as I looked out the window and saw the sleet and freezing wind awaiting outside, when I heard a voice call after me.

 

“Oi! Silverway, wait up” I turned around and saw Potter running towards me.

 

“What’s up?” I asked him as he caught up to me.

 

“Nothing much. Why are you not in Hogsmeade with everyone else?” it was a Hogsmeade weekend visit, early December. I had been working with McGonagall on my animagus task until lunch, so Lily and Alice had gone to town with the boys. Or so I thought.

 

“I had work to do. I might go now” I shrugged. “What about you?”

 

“I had a detention” he grinned. I laughed.


“What for?”

 

“Remember Thursday evening when all the portraits on the third floor corridor started singing ‘A pirates’ life’?” his smile had widened even more, and his eyes twinkled a little at the memory of his prank.

 

“I do, it was actually quite hilarious” I said, smiling too.

 

“You always know how to appreciate a good prank” he said cheerfully. Then, he threw his arm casually around my shoulders. “So, what do you say we take our butts to Hogsmeade?”

 

“It's so cold though!"

 

"We'll get a carriage. I asked Hagrid to save me one" he grinned. I was impressed that he was on a frist name basis with the ground keeper.

 

"All right then, lead the way” I said.

 

The trip to Hogsmeade was very pleasant  indeed, and Potter kept making me laugh telling me absurd prank ideas. He wanted my opinion on whether they would work or not, and I found that quite flattering. Before I knew it, we were outside the Three Broomsticks. Lily, Alice, Lupin, Pettigrew and Black were sharing a table and drinking butter beer together.

 

“What took you so long?” asked Black when we came into their view.

 

“Why are you together?” asked Alice at the same time.

 

“Ran into each other on the way here” I said, taking the empty seat next to her. Potter was nodding.

 

“Drink, Silverway?” he offered. I nodded.

 

“I’ll come help you” Black stood up and followed Potter to the bar.

 

“So, how come only Potter got in trouble for the portrait singing thing?” I asked his friends.

 

“We all did. We had detention last night, but he tried to talk himself out of it early and McGonagall gave him another one today” Lupin explained. I laughed.

 

“Typical Potter” everyone nodded their agreement. “Still, it was a funny prank” I said.

 

“It is extra nice when a girl appreciates a well played prank” said Pettigrew. “That’s why you’re our favourite!”

 

“Am I, now?” I asked. Lupin looked at Pettigrew with a funny face, but he didn’t notice.

 

“Oh, you most definitely are. No other girl has been called ‘friend’ by Sirius or James ever” he told me very solemnly.

 

“Interesting”

 

“What’s interesting?” Black and Potter arrived with our drinks.

 

“Lots of things are interesting” I replied vaguely, just to annoy him. He raised an eyebrow, waiting for a better answer. I wasn’t going to give him one, so I turned to Lily.

 

“I asked you a question!”

 

“I don’t have to answer it. It’s none of your business”

 

“Why are you so bitchy?”

 

“I just can’t help myself around you, Black. You really bring out the best in people” I replied, grinning and fluttering my eyelashes at him. He smirked and sat down, finally dropping the subject. The rest of the evening was uneventful.

 

**

 

I joined Lily, Black, Potter and Alice (who was a member of the club because of her outstanding potions abilities) in the common room and we headed to the Slug Club Christmas dinner together. It was mid December, and Christmas decorations had been put up.

 

“Not this way, let’s walk though the passage instead” said Black as we rounded a corridor on the fifth floor.

 

“What’s wrong with the normal way?” asked Alice as we followed him and Potter, who seemed to know what passage Sirius had in mind.

 

“Mistletoe” Potter made a face as he said the word, as if he’d said something like ‘devil’s snare’ instead.

 

“What’s the matter with a bit of mistletoe? It’s almost Christmas!” Lily said.

 

“The problem is not the mistletoe itself. It’s the silly girls waiting underneath it” Black scoffed.


“Come again?” I asked him, not sure I understood what he meant.

 

It was James who explained “he’s been ambushed three times in the past week. Always under mistletoe”

 

I giggled “is Sirius Black having trouble escaping his groupies?”

 

“Not just me, though. Pr… James has also been under attack. What was it, twice yesterday alone?” Black said pushing aside a tapestry to let us into a hidden passage.

 

“Ah, nobody can resist the allure of a Quidditch captain” I said trying (and failing) not to laugh.

 

“It’s annoying” Potter said, making a face.

 

“Yeah, I’m sure it’s horrible that people want to snog you” Alice said giggling too.

 

“Well, only if the people who want to snog you are not the same people you want to snog” said Black casually.

 

“Ah, so it’s only a matter of time before we see you stuck under the mistletoe, then. You’ll only avoid it until it’s the right girl” Lily said. He gave us a half smile but was saved from giving an answer because he arrived at Slughorn’s office that moment.

 

The party was going well. The room was crowded already, even though we were only fifteen minutes late, and the air was quite stuffy. The room had been decorated in typical Christmas colours – red, gold and green – and everything was bathed in the red light cast by an ornate golden lamp dangling from the centre of the ceiling. I was led to a table that held several drinks by Potter and Black. Lily and Alice went to say hello to Slughorn straight away. They disappeared from sight and, to my dismay, didn’t come back at all.

 

Despite the loss of my girl friends, I was having a good time drinking and joking around with the guys. We’d been trying the different spirits available and ranking them on taste and strength of the alcohol when a beautiful seventh year girl approached Black. I recognized her even though we’d never really spoken before. She smiled at Potter but didn’t spare me a glance before engaging in what could only be described as shameless flirting with Sirius. I looked away feeling slightly uncomfortable and James caught my eye. He made a disgusted face to indicate he too was feeling awkward and leaned in closer to me.

 

“Now that’s just you and me, we should make the most of it. Let’s dance” he whispered in my ear. I felt a small shiver run down my spine. It was rather pleasant.

 

“Sure” I walked with him to the dancefloor and let him lead as we swayed to the rhythm.

 

“You’re a good dancer” he complimented me.

 

“You sound surprised”

 

“You were terrible when… well, when we were little” he said. I gave him a small smile.

 

“So, Black and Marlene McKinnon, huh?” I asked desperate to change the topic of conversation. Too late, I remembered that the topic of Sirius and Marlene, or Sirius with anybody, really, was not one I particularly enjoyed. I focused on James, hoping his dashing good looks would distract me. It seemed to work.

 

“They’ve hooked up a couple times, I think. Not sure, I don’t really keep track of Sirius’ love life,” he shrugged. I chuckled.

 

“It’d be hard if you tried,” I said. He smiled.

 

“He’s not that bad. He hasn’t found the right girl yet, that’s all.”

 

“I don’t think he believes in love, Potter,” I said.

 

“I’m sure he does… how could he not?”

 

I rolled my eyes before replying. “You two couldn’t be more different if you tried. You’re still pining for Lily, aren’t you?”

 

“I… well, I won’t pretend I don’t fancy her, but I think I’m getting over it. One can only take so many rejections,” he said. This was a surprise.

 

“Now that’s a surprise! Do you actually mean it?”

 

“Yeah, I am. I think I just have to accept she’s just not into me and she’ll never be. I can’t compete with the Giant Squid, can I?” he joked.

 

“Well, there’s lots of girls who’ll be happy to hear they’ve got a chance with you now,” I smiled.

 

“Ah, maybe I have already set my sights on somebody,” he said with a mischievous grin.

 

“Ooooh, tell me.”

 

He leaned in closer to me as if he was about to tell me a secret but, instead he said “nope. Where’s the fun in that?”

 

“But I thought we were friends!” I pretended to be outraged to hide the fact that I was suddenly feeling a bit flustered.

 

“We are.”

 

He twirled me around and held me closer when I was facing him again. He was a superb dancer, I had to admit.

 

“So, tell me,” I batted my eyelashes at him, and he chuckled, shaking his head. I was about to protest again when we were interrupted.

 

“There you are, I’ve been looking for you all over,” Black grabbed my arm and James’ and pulled us away from the dance floor.

 

“We thought you’d be busy with McKinnon,” I said when we released us in the vicinity of the drinks’ table.

 

“I’m meeting her later, after the party,” he said, pouring us drinks. Potter high-fived him. This time, it didn’t bother me as much as it had before. I wondered, as I glanced over at James, if a pair of hazel eyes had anything to do with it. Surely not.

 

**

 

We were going home. How had this happened? Time had gone so fast this first term it was actually a bit dizzying. One minute I was complaining about being paired with Black for the first N.E.W.T. level transfiguration lesson, the next I was sat in the Express carriage on the way home for Christmas break. I looked out the window to buy some time to process everything that had happened in the past four months: I was beater for Gryffindor’s Quidditch team, I was on the way to becoming an animagus, Lily was still going strong with Cal, and we were now officially on friendly terms with Potter and his gang. I looked up to the crowded carriage. Friendly terms apparently meant we shared a carriage all the way to London. Thank Merlin Lily was with Cal, or else someone would have had to sit on someone else’s lap.

 

“You’ll make yourself sick,” I said. Pettigrew rolled his eyes at me, winked and popped yet another chocolate frog into his mouth.

 

“Speaking of, are you feeling better Remus?” Alice asked him sweetly.

 

“Yeah, I think it was one of those funny 24h bugs,” he smiled at her. I had to look away to hide my knowing smile.

 

Alice and Remus had hit it off approximately five minutes into that first time we met for drinks at the Three Broomsticks. Turns out they are both really into plants and their curative properties. Every time we’d hung out with the boys after that, which had become a more regular occurrence as we’d approached Christmas, they’d always end up in a corner together discussing one thing or other rather enthusiastically. By now, it was totally obvious to everyone that they fancied each other but, for some mysterious reason, Remus was yet to make a move. Alice, however, had assured Lily and I she wasn’t in a rush. For the first time ever she was happy to wait and let things run their course. I was happy for her, but also a bit concerned. Any normal guy would have said something by now, so I was worried Remus would never make the first move. That said, and even though we actually hung out with them more often, these guys did not qualify as normal by any stretch of the imagination.

 

The more we got to know them, the more we realized that they were still rather arrogant, just a lot less childish about it. They were also fun, brave – sometimes borderline stupid – and smart. We all knew they were talented, their school results had always been up there, but they were also what I liked to call ‘street smart’. I had found myself gravitating towards James and Sirius a bit more. Potter and I just clicked. Just like we had when we were small children, I felt like we got along naturally. He was easy to talk to, funny and he had a lot of respect for me as a beater, which was extra nice since he was my team captain. Black… well, let’s just say that we had evolved from being rude to each other out of spite to being rude to each other just for fun. It was like a game of explosive snap, or a time bomb. I could tell everyone else was always worried one of us would push it too far and a real fight would follow, but so far that hadn’t happened. 

 

“Are you deaf?” Pettigrew threw a Bertie Bott bean at me.

 

“Sorry, what were you saying?”

 

“I asked if you’re excited to see your boyfriend again,” Alice said.

 

“I am, but I am not sure how it’s going to work. This year it’s my parents’ turn to host the New Year’s Eve Crystal Ball, and my mother will want help. She’ll keep me busy.”

 

“And you’ll have to keep up with your training, no getting out of shape during the holidays!” Potter chimed in.

 

“And I’ll have to stay in shape,” I said, rolling my eyes at him. “Plus, we always have family and friends coming over during the holidays, so I’m not sure how much free time I’ll actually have.”

 

“Why can’t he just spend some time at your place? Are you like embarrassed of him?” asked Black. I looked at him. He’d been quite quiet since we left the school, now that I thought about it.

 

“He’s a muggle,” I said. I had never really told them much about Jax, despite their efforts to find out as much about him as they could. They found it fascinating that I was dating someone who didn’t attend Hogwarts. Something Black said would make his balls explode if he tried [cringe]. But, I had avoided telling them the full truth until now.

 

“He’s a muggle? How did you forget to mention that? It’s not a small detail like ‘he’s blond’, or ‘he has a scar on his arm’,” James said.

 

“It really wasn’t, and still isn’t, any of your business,” I said defensively.

 

“He’s not blond,” said Alice. Nobody paid attention to her.

 

“Some friend you are…” muttered Black.

 

“Oh, come on, don’t pull the ‘friend’ card on me now. It hasn’t even been long enough, at best we are acquaintances,” I retorted. He held his chest pretending to be hurt and Potter laughed.

 

“You are hurting my feelings,” how dramatic.

 

“That’s impossible, Black. I know for a fact you have none,” I smiled sweetly at him. He looked even more outraged at that.

 

“How dare you!”

 

“Anyway,” said Lupin “how did you explain your four months long absence to your muggle boyfriend?”

 

“He thinks I go to a girls only boarding school somewhere in the Scottish countryside. It was actually harder to explain the lack of phones.”

 

“So you haven’t spoken to him at all?” Pettigrew asked me.

 

“I wrote to him, he wrote to me. It was a pain though, I had to get the owl drop the letters home and then my house elf would put them in his mailbox.”

 

“How did he write to you?”

 

“I told him to put the letters in my mailbox at home and that my parents would get them to me. He thought it was weird, but I convinced him it was a security measure,” I shrugged.

 

“And you still have feelings for him?” Lupin asked me.

 

“What kind of question is that?”

 

“Well… you haven’t seen him or spoken to him in a long time. Letters don’t count. I don’t think anyone would judge you if you were over him by now,” he said.

 

“Hmm… I’m excited to see him,” was all I said.

 

The truth was that I wasn’t sure at all. But, I didn’t want to admit it to them. A part of me was confused. I hadn’t missed him nearly as much as I thought I would. I was even a little bit ashamed to admit that I’d sometimes wondered what it would be like if I was single. I was also aware of the fact that I was attracted to some of the boys in school, two of whom were actually in the carriage with me. Did that mean I didn’t like Jax enough? Was it normal to feel confused because of the distance? I wasn’t sure, and I was a bit nervous about seeing Jax again.

 

Another reason I was having doubts about Jax was that I’d started to think of him more as a safety blanket than an actual boyfriend. I knew a big part of the reason I felt so comfortable joking and hanging out so much with the guys was that it always felt safe. There were no questions or misunderstandings because, well, I had a boyfriend. For instance, I would have felt very awkward dancing with Potter during Slughorn’s Christmas party if I had been single. I would have wondered if it meant anything, or not, and, if it did, what. My lack of experience would have probably meant I’d made a fool of myself. So, I was terrified of what removing that safety net would change. I was even more terrified that it wouldn’t change anything, and that none of them would even consider pursuing a romantic relationship with me if I was available.



Chapter 6: Rockstar
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Jocelyn’s POV

 

I was surprised when I heard the knock on my bedroom door. House elves didn’t come unless called for, and my mother usually opened the door with no regard for my privacy at all. But, I thought happily, maybe she’d finally accepted she had a teenage girl for a daughter and it was about time she started showing some respect.

 

“Come in!” I shouted without turning to look. My room was massive, and the closet was opposite the door.

 

“SURPRISE!” two voices yelled, scaring the hell out of me and making me drop the t-shirt I was about to pull over my head. I turned around and stared.

 

“What are you two doing here?!” I shouted.

 

“Whoa!” Black and Potter said, eyeing me. Only then did it register that I was topless and that they were enjoying the view a bit too much. I quickly recovered the dropped top and put it on, hastily covering my bra.

 

“There’s a bit of drool there” I said pointing at Black’s chin. He laughed loudly but didn’t look bothered at all.

 

“You almost gave me a heart attack. What the hell are you doing in my house?” I asked again. Black leaned back casually against my doorframe, but Potter was still standing awkwardly and… was he blushing?

 

“I thought your mother told you they had invited my parents for lunch” he said, eventually.

 

“That was today? I thought it was tomorrow” I pulled out a sweater and put it on over my top. “And you? What are you doing here Black?”

 

“He lives with us now” Potter replied. I looked at Black ready to make a joke about it, but he was somber. Something in the way he was trying to avoid my gaze made me halt.

 

“For real?” I said, instead.

 

“Yup” was all I got. I nodded, and grabbed my high heeled black boots.

 

“Are you going somewhere?” Potter asked, trying to lighten the mood.

 

“Actually, I made plans for lunch. I’m sorry, I really thought your parents were coming tomorrow, and my mum didn’t even mention you might be coming too anyway. You never have before” I explained. The Potters and my parents had been friends for ages, and I had met them several times. Their son, however, had stopped coming with them the same year we started attending Hogwarts.

 

“We can come with” said Black. “I’ve never been to this part of London before”

 

“Yeah, no. I don’t think so” I said, walking out of the room. They followed me.

 

“You’re meeting your boyfriend, aren’t you?” Potter said.

 

“Don’t even think about it”

 

“You can’t really stop us. The way I see it, you have two options: you either bring us with you, like a normal person would, or we stalk you and follow you and embarrass you in front of him. Your choice” he said, grinning like a maniac.

 

“Why?! Oh Merlin, why have you cursed me with these two for friends?!”

 

“You love us” Black said. I rolled my eyes at them.

 

“You don’t get it, I told him I go to a girls only school. How am I going to explain you two to him?”

 

“You tell him… tell him James’ your cousin and I’m his friend”

 

“No, you can be her cousin” Potter protested.

 

“Why does it matter!? I’m going to be late, I would really like it if you didn’t come” I said.

 

“Fat chance” Sirius said, grinning.

 

“One day I’m going to kill you and make it look like an accident, Black”

 

“You couldn’t live without me” he winked at me and I rolled my eyes.

 

“Fine, whatever, be annoying. Since you clearly enjoy torturing me, let’s go” I stormed off, and they followed.

 

I hadn’t realised how much I had actually missed them until we were walking down the street chatting and joking like we were back at Hogwarts. There was no denying they were too much fun to be around. I was laughing hysterically at something Black had said when we arrived at the pub where I was meeting Jax. It was the same pub where we had our first date, The Oaks Inn. I got us a table and sat across from them, looking around to double check Jax hadn’t arrived yet.

 

“So, how did you meet him again?” Potter asked.

 

“I was out running and basically barreled into him by accident”

 

“That’s my girl! You sure know how to impress a guy” Black said, laughing. Potter had joined him, but I was slightly thrown off by his choice of words. My girl was not something I ever thought I’d hear him say about me, not even as part of a harmless joke. I was so flustered I forgot to reply.

 

I didn’t have a lot of time to dwell on it because Jax walked through the door right that second. He saw me, then them, and raised an eyebrow in question. I smiled and waved him over to the table.

 

“Jax’s here. Please, remember he’s a muggle” I whispered. Both of them smiled mischievously and turned around to get a look at him. Oh crap.

 

James’ POV

 

I didn’t know what to say or think. I couldn’t do anything but look from Padfoot to this Jax guy, to Padfoot, to Jax again. If you made a muggle clone of Sirius, it wouldn’t resemble him as much as Jax did. It was eerie. Had Jocelyn picked him because of this? Or was she as oblivious to this as she pretended to be? Surely not? It was impossible not to notice. Jax looked more like Sirius than his own brother Regulus did. It was weird. It was freaking me out, big time.

 

“Hey gorgeous” he said, leaning in to kiss Jocelyn. I averted my eyes, just because it was rude to look at people kissing.

 

“Jax, these are… uhm… James and Sirius” she finally said. I realised that this was probably the first time she had ever said my name since I could remember. It sounded really nice when she said it.

 

“He’s her cousin, we’re visiting for the holidays” Padfoot jumped in. Was he freaked out that he was basically talking to a copy of himself? Jax seemed to be a bit unnerved by it, though he was trying hard to hide it.

 

“You’re related?” he asked.

 

“He is, I am not” Padfoot seemed totally unfazed by this Jax guy.

 

“Who are you again?” Jax was fixed on Sirius, Jocelyn shifted uncomfortably on her seat.

 

“Just a friend of James’”

 

“Right” he glanced over at Jocelyn and she smiled at him sweetly.

 

“I’m sorry, remember I said we had guests tomorrow? Turns out I got it wrong and they came today. I didn’t want to cancel on you last minute, but couldn’t really leave them alone at my place, my cousin only comes rarely and my parents would freak out on me and Sirius lives with James so I thought I’d bring them along…” was Jocelyn rambling? Was she nervous because Jax made her nervous or because we were here? I was so confused.

 

“It’s cool, no worries. Family is family” he kissed her head. “What do you guys want, then?”

 

“Burger and chips, please” she said. I looked at Padfoot, who shrugged as if to say 'whatever she said' and so we ordered the same. He walked over to the counter to order. What a gentleman.

 

“So, we’re on first name basis now, are we?” Padfoot said, smirking at Jocelyn. She groaned in frustration.

 

“I couldn’t exactly introduce my cousin by his last name, that would have been weird”

 

“It’s cool. I was wondering how long it was going to take you to start acting normal” Padfoot said. Why was he always hellbent on making small dabs at her? No wonder she was permanently irritated at him unless they were flying.

 

“Normal is so overrated”

 

“So I’ve heard” I watched them bicker like I was watching a tennis match.

 

There was no pause, no room to interrupt or insert myself in the conversation. It was irritating me. It went on for a few minutes, They could argue about nothing at all. It was really quite a difficult skill to master. I personally had no idea how they did it. Eventually, I just cut Jocelyn off in the middle of a retort.

 

“Excuse me, are we just going to ignore the fact that this Jax guy looks like…”

 

“Like what?” oh, crap. He was back. Great timing, Prongs, I thought.

 

“A lot older than Jocelyn” Padfoot for the win! What are best friends for if not to save you from these kinds of things?

 

“I am only nineteen, mate. It’s not a big deal” he scoffed. 

 

I nodded. “No big deal, it’s just the first time Jocelyn has a boyfriend so everyone in the family is a bit curious” I said. If looks could kill she had just murdered me.

 

He looked at her as if he was waiting for her to say something but she stayed silent. The food arrived and we ate in awkward semi-silence, only broken here and there by the odd comment on how good this food was. Padfoot and I inhaled our burgers and sides, then proceeded to steal chips from Jocelyn’s plate.

 

“You guys are gonna lose a finger if you keep doing that” she threatened, waving her knife menacingly.

 

“You’d never hurt my precious hands, you know too well how good I am with them” Padfoot said, wiggling his eyebrows. What was he doing? Why was he winding Jax up on purpose? It sure as hell was working, he almost choked on his food.

 

“What is that supposed to mean?” he said, looking to Jocelyn for an explanation. She rolled her eyes.

 

“Don’t, he’s just trying to annoy you. I’m disappointed Sirius, was that really the best you could come up with?” she smiled sweetly at him. He laughed.

 

“You don’t want to know” he said, wiggling his eyebrows at her again. I nodded vigorously. I knew for a fact nobody needed to know what Sirius thought an over the top sexual innuendo was like. She rolled her eyes again. I noticed she did that a lot. It was kind of cute. 

 

“Sirius plays baseball. He’s got mad batting skills” she shrugged trying to diffuse the situation.

 

“Is he always like this?”

 

“Most is the time, yes. He’s very annoying” she sighed dramatically and Jax smiled. They both ignored Sirius protests and kissed briefly. I shot Padfoot a look that I was hoping said ‘if you’re trying to make them awkward, it’s not working’.

 

“James, your eyes are crossing a bit, you okay?” Jax asked. What a twat.

 

“Yes, yes. I think Sirius and I are gonna go now, they’re probably done with lunch at yours anyway” I stood up. Padfoot was going to protest, I could see it. “We are leaving, now”

 

He frowned but stood up. “Nice to meet you Max!” He said cheerfully.

 

“It’s Jax”

 

“Sorry” he was so not sorry. At all.

 

I waved a goodbye, and we left. We walked in silence for a bit, then I couldn’t refrain myself.

 

“What is your problem mate?”

 

“What?”

 

“You always have to say something to annoy her, one way or the other. It’s not cool”

 

“Woah, what’s the matter with you? It’s just banter, you and her both know it. You never said you had a problem with it before. She pretends she hates me but we know deep down she doesn’t” he puffed his chest like a peacock smiling proudly.

 

“But why? Why do you have to push her buttons all the time? Do you fancy her? We’re not in third grade anymore, if that’s your strategy I can tell you now it won’t work. We're way past pulling pigtails in the playground, mate” I said him. He shook his head chuckling lightly. 

 

“You know I hated that she’s better at transfiguration than I am. I spent years being mean to her, it’s a tough habit to break out of”

 

“I don’t buy that for a second Padfoot”

 

“Why? I mean yes sure I’m over that stupid ‘I can’t remember your name’ thing, but that doesn’t mean I can’t have a bit of banter with her”

 

“I think you fancy her” I insisted. I was pretty convinced he did, and the more I thought about it the more it annoyed me. Because I had realised that I fancied her, too.

 

“I do not. I mean, sure she is hot as fuck and I wouldn’t say no to a bit of fun, but that would probably make it awkward when we train together so it’s not worth it” he said.

 

“So, you do fancy her but won’t act on it because she’s on the team?”

 

“Maybe… I don’t think Silverway is the type of girl to just fool around, you know? And that’s all I’m up for right now” he shrugged.

 

“Do you or do you not like her? Straight answer” I demanded.

 

“Prongs, why do YOU care so much?” He asked. Ah, nice one - the best defense is a strong attack.

 

“Well for one, I am your and her captain and you need to work as a unit...” he gave me a sharp look and I put my hands up in defeat. “Okay, fine, yes I think I do fancy her a bit” I said, simply.

 

“But I wouldn’t try anything if you said you fancied her too, you know that” if he wasn’t going to be honest with me, his loss. I wanted to have this out in the open to avoid any issues later on, after all no girl, no matter how incredible she was, was worth a fight with Padfoot.

 

“Hold on a minute! Where is this coming from? What about Red?” I looked at him funny. What did he think I was going to say?

 

“Evans wouldn’t date me even if it was a choice between me and the giant squid, you heard it loud and clear, too.”

 

“She’s said no a million other times, and that never stopped you before”

 

“I am tired of it, mate. I am tired of chasing after a girl that wouldn’t even be civil towards me” it was the truth. As much as I liked Lily, even I had a breaking point and I had reached it. Plus, she was all lovey-dovey with Cal now.

 

“But she is now. Civil, I mean. I would even go as far as to say that by the end of the year she’ll think of us as friends” he said tentatively.

 

“Only because of Jocelyn, though. If we weren’t friends with her Evans wouldn’t have ever even looked our way twice” I insisted. It was true; I wasn’t under any delusions about it. The only reason Lily and Alice had agreed to hanging out with us was because Jocelyn had asked them to. Things had changed now, with Alice crushing hard on Moony and all, but it was all because of Jo. “Besides, she is super loved up with Cal, like I said”

 

“Right, fine, so what is this about now? When did you start fancying Jocelyn?”

 

“Have you any idea how sexy that crazy stunt against Slytherin was?”

 

If I was totally honest, I had noticed her way before that. That very first breakfast of the year when Padfoot pretended, yet again, to not know who she was had been the first time I paid real attention to her in that way. There was something new in the way she stood up and said ‘nobody’. I could think of very few girls who could brush Sirius off with such collected confidence. After that, I’d find my eye wandering over to her every now and then. Lucky for us all, that’s how I had spotted her running on the grounds on tryouts day.

 

“Hell yeah, I’m not blind you know. And I’ll inform you that you are not the only one who likes her, by the way. You should hear some of the stuff seventh years are saying” Padfoot said. We were almost at her house by now, so I stopped and leaned on the wall outside.

 

“I know”

 

It was obvious to everyone. Jocelyn had become one of the most coveted girls in school, despite the fact that she hadn’t event tried. People commented on her ridiculously good looks and her quiet confidence. The only reason she wasn’t fending off suitors was that everyone had heard she had a boyfriend, so was currently unavailable.

 

“So, are you going to ask her out?” He asked me.

 

“I think I will, I just need to wait until she dumps that muggle bloke”

 

“What makes you think she’ll go out with you?” He enquired. Was he for real? Best friends were supposed to hype you up for these things, not plant doubts in your head.

 

“Why wouldn’t she!”

 

“Someone else might ask her first” he said. Ah, well yes that was most certainly a possibility.

 

“What like a seventh year?”

 

“Or a sixth year. Matt is really into her” I studied my best friend carefully, there was a nagging sensation somewhere in the back of my mind but I couldn’t quite put a finger on it.

 

“You know, you say you don’t fancy her but you’ve sure been paying a lot of attention” I pointed out. He shook his head again.

 

“Like I said, I wouldn’t say no but I am not interested in pursuing anything. I don’t think she’s the type to be okay with casual sex” fair point. That did sound like Padfoot all the way.

 

“Are you ever going to actually date someone, like, for real?”

 

“I’m too busy being a rebel mate, I don’t have time for girlfriends” he joked. I laughed.

 

“Well then, operation J is a go. I just need her to break up with what’s his face first” I said, smiling mischievously. Padfoot laughed again.

 

**

 

Jocelyn’s POV

 

Jax wasn’t happy and I couldn’t really blame him. Black and Potter had made everything super awkward, and I still didn’t understand if they’d done it on purpose or it was just that they were obnoxious in general but I was now so used to it that it wasn’t a problem for me anymore. I couldn’t really blame it all on them, though. I had been back for an entire week and it had been both great and horrible at the same time. Jax could tell something was on my mind and I began using our sexual chemistry as an excuse to not talk about it. I knew engaging in heavy make out sessions to avoid addressing our issues was not healthy relationship behavior, but what was I going to do? I couldn’t tell him the truth and I couldn’t bring myself to break up with him, either. I kept putting it off, thinking 'I'll do it tomorrow'.

 

“I don’t like that Sirius guy” he said after a while. I sighed.

 

"Neither do I but he’s my cousins best friend” I shrugged. “He’s just obnoxious in general, Jax. It wasn’t personal”

 

“That’s not what I mean” he shook his head. “So, do you see these guys often?”

 

“Nah... every now and then only...” I avoided his eyes. I had found myself doing this more and more since I had come back. I hated lying to him. I couldn’t stop thinking that I was fooling myself, and that this was going to end in tears. How could I explore a relationship with a guy when every other word I told him was a lie?

 

“Alright, that’s it. I know you’re lying to me about something, and I don’t like it. I’m trying to be patient here, Jo, but I don’t know what to think anymore” he sighed. “It’s hard enough that I can’t see you or talk to you for months on end, I am not sure I can do this if you lie to me as well and act all weird when you are around”

 

“I know, it sucks. I am not lying to you though... there’s just some stuff I don’t want to talk about” it sounded lame even to me. Ugh.

 

“Look, I get it. Things change, feelings change. I wouldn’t blame you if you told me you don’t want this anymore, but tell me. Don’t string me along”

 

“I do still fancy you, a lot” it was the truth. He was so handsome he made my legs go weak when he looked at me intently. And I loved kissing him.

 

“What’s the matter then?”

 

“I’m not sure I can do the whole long distance thing.” I said, defeated.

 

“It sucks” he agreed. I sighed and leaned into him. I loved the way it felt when he held me.

 

“What do you want to do, babe?” He asked me after a moment. I adjusted my position so I could look at him.

 

“Right now, I want to make out with you until someone tells us off for inappropriate behavior in a public space” I said, smiling mischievously at him.

 

“That’s really not fair” he said, but he wasted no time, and we got right to it.

 

**

 

It was tradition that every year one of the important wizard families in the circle my parents moved in would host a New Year’s Eve party known as the Crystal Ball. This year it was my parents’ turn. Our house was looking like I had never seen it before. My mother had gone all out, and it had paid off.

 

“What do you think?” She asked me.

 

“You aced it, it looks gorgeous. Everyone is going to love it”

 

“Thanks, dear” she smiled. “Are you ready to go now?”

 

She has begged me to go to the stylist with her. I had never bothered before; I never really thought it would make a difference. This time, however, was different. I wanted to look good, I wanted people to see me and think I was beautiful. So, I had agreed to go with her.

 

“There’s a few kids your age coming” she told me whilst we sat on the pedicure chairs. I felt a bit awkward with my hands and feet being handled by someone else, but oh well.

 

“Don’t tell me. Potter is coming” I feigned disgust.

 

“I thought you got along with him? Didn’t they meet that Jax boyfriend of yours and everything last week?”

 

“Yeah, we do get along, I just like to pretend otherwise. You know, keep them on their toes”

 

“Jocelyn Silverway, are you feeling okay?” she smiled.

 

“Very funny mum”

 

“I am happy for you. I was starting to get worried you were missing out on normal teenage experiences”

 

“What, you want me to get drunk and make out with random people?”

 

“That’s up to you. I just want you to know that’s an option. I know you, I trust you, and you know what? There’s nothing wrong with getting drunk and having a bit of fun. You are sixteen, Jocelyn. If you don’t do it now, you most likely never will”

 

I didn’t know what to say to that. My mother was right, of course. I had despaired many sleepless nights in fifth year wondering if I would ever fit in with everyone else. Now I did. I really did. And I was holding back, partly because of Jax and partly because I was still waiting to find out it was all a nightmare and nothing had really changed.

 

“I don’t know if I know how to do that” I said quietly.

 

“You are my daughter, I know you can. You are smart and witty, and have a great sense of humor. And you are a Quidditch star. Honey, if anyone is going to have it easy it’s you. You just have to want it”

 

“I... I don’t know what I want. I like Jax, but it’s so hard...”

 

“You knew this was going to happen. I have nothing against you loving a muggle, but now is not the time, and you are not in love. You shouldn’t be going through this, juggling two lives, pretending to be someone you’re not. Let him go, Jo. When you graduate you will meet someone else, and even if they are a muggle, it’ll be a different story. You'll be able to tell them then, if it's the real thing. Jax is a great first boyfriend, but I think you have to accept that's all he's ever going to be”

 

I mulled this over whilst the witches worked on my eyebrows and hair. I had never felt so pampered in my entire life; it was an oddly pleasant feeling. As I relaxed, I started to slowly accept that my mother was right. The start of my sixth year at Hogwarts had been a million times better than I even dared hope for, but it had not been all it could have. I knew this, and it bugged me. I hadn’t dared drink more than a glass of whiskey, I hadn’t spoken too long to any single boy at any given time, I hadn’t even practiced flirting. Did it make me a horrible person that I wanted to just fool around for a bit? I liked Jax, I liked Jax a lot, but I knew deep down that it wasn’t working. And I was pretty sure he knew it too.

 

We made our way back home with a couple of hours to spare. Jax agreed to meet me at the park where we had kissed for the first time, which was three minutes from my place. I threw on a pair of jeans and a heavy coat and dashed out, praying to Merlin he’d give me courage to do what I had to do.

 

“You look incredible” he said as soon as he saw me.

 

“Thanks”

 

“I wish I could join this party your folks are having. It’s going to suck not being able to kiss you when the clock strikes midnight” he grabbed my hand and pulled me closer to him.

 

I gathered all my Gryffindor courage then and, before he could kiss me and distract me, I looked him straight in the eye and, with a sad look, spoke.

 

“Jax… we need to talk”

 

“I know. I don’t want to” he said, kissing me. I let myself be lost in his lips for a long while, ignoring the world around us. When we finally broke apart, I knew I couldn’t say what I had to say.

 

“I know what you are going to say, Jo” he whispered in the small space between our lips.

 

“I’m sorry… I really am” I felt tears fill my eyes, and tried to keep them in.

 

“I know. I am too” he spoke softly, still so close to me I could feel his breath tickling my cheek. As the tears fell freely down my face, I looked into his eyes.

 

“I want you to know that even though it was short, and even though it didn’t work out, this was the best first relationship a girl could ever hope for” I said, truthfully. He smiled.

 

“I wish I’d met you at a different time. I really do. I keep thinking if I’d met you when you were done with school, we would have rocked the world together”

 

“I have no doubt” I smiled at him. “You will always have a special place in my heart. I will never forget my first love”

 

“I don’t think I’ll forget you either. You are a rockstar, babe” he said. I leaned in for a last kiss. It was bittersweet.

 

“I’ll miss you” I said.

 

“I’ll miss you too”

 

He stayed on the bench, smoking cigarette after cigarette for a long time after I walked away. I know this, because I stood at the edge of the park for a long time too, wondering why life had to be like this. It hurt, I knew I would recover and quickly, because my heart wasn’t broken, but it still hurt. More than that, it felt unfair. With one last longing look in his direction, I turned around and headed home.



Chapter 7: The Crystal Ball
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Sirius’ POV

 

Prongs was taking forever, and it was annoying me and his parents. We were all ready to leave, and he kept yelling ‘just a minute’ from upstairs even though it’d been more like 10. What was taking him this long, I didn’t know. It’s not like he had to do his hair or anything. It was untamable; he knew it, I knew it, the entire world knew it.

 

“James, darling, we are going to be late,” Euphemia said. She looked at me “Why is he taking so long, dear?”

 

“I think this girl he likes will be at the party,” I said, shrugging.

 

“Oh, is this that redhead… mmm, Evans, is it?” asked Fleamont.

 

“No, he’s given up on that one.”

 

“Stop giving my parents information about my love life!” Prongs complained, finally making his way down the stairs.

 

“What love life?” I joked. He made a rude gesture.

 

“James!” his mother squeaked. We laughed.

 

“Sirius was telling us you have your eye on a young lady that’s attending the ball tonight,” said Fleamont wiggling his eyebrows at Prongs. He rolled his eyes.

 

“That is absolutely none of your business,” he said. “How are we getting there, again?”

 

“Portkey. I refuse to use a chimney; my dress would be ruined,” Euphemia said.

 

We all gathered around a small flowerpot that had been enchanted to take us to the ball. I wasn’t a big fan of portkeys, so I took a deep breath and shut my eyes firmly.

 

I had to blink a couple of times to help my eyes adjust to the light when we landed. I couldn’t believe this was the same house I’d visited only last week. Mrs. Silverway had truly outdone herself, the place looked incredible. Every bit of decoration was made out of shimmering glass, enchanted so that it caught the light, creating an illusion like the entire place was covered by a silver glow. It was actually really cool.

 

“Wow, Leonor has really blown it out of the park,” Fleamont said. We all nodded in agreement and started walking towards the door.

 

“Did you attend this thing last year?” I asked James quietly.

 

“Nope. First time.”

 

“Why?”

 

“I didn’t feel like it. Thought it’d be boring. There aren’t many people our age,” he shrugged.

 

“I’m curious, Prongs. Your parents and Jocelyn’s parents are very close, you could have been pretty much like cousins for real. Why aren’t you?” I asked him.

 

“Because I’m an idiot, basically,” he said. I raised my eyebrow and waited for him to elaborate.

 

“We were close when we were little. Like, I remember her fifth birthday party in particular. We gave chase to garden gnomes for hours. And, she gave me a super cool new toy broom for my ninth birthday. I promised her I’d be Quidditch captain at school, and that I’d get her on my team. She told me she was sure I would, and that she wouldn’t complain much when I bossed her around,” he sighed.

 

“But then we got the letter. It was happening for real. We were going to Hogwarts and I knew she was going to be in the same year as me, and I panicked. I kept thinking ‘what if the other kids think it’s weird that I’m such good friends with a girl.’”

 

I had to laugh at that. I remember what it was like being ten and eleven years old. Girls were almost as scary as dementors. We reached the front door but indicated to his parents we were going to wait outside for a bit. I wanted to hear this story. They nodded and went ahead without us.

 

He carried on. “And, the other thing is, her birthday is in August so even though we are in the same year, she is like what, five months younger than me? She’s almost a year younger than you, too. So, I freaked out. I thought it would be best to pretend I didn’t know her.”

 

“How did that go down?”

 

“Well, you can imagine. I stopped replying to letters, and I stopped coming over when my parents visited. I also hid in my room when they came to our place, until she got the message and stopped coming, too. Then, the first time at King’s Cross, I didn’t even say hi to her,” I could tell he wasn’t proud of himself for this. I felt really bad for Jocelyn. No wonder the girl had been so introverted and quiet all these years. I can’t even imagine what it must have felt like for her.

 

“She probably thought I was embarrassed of her. I never told her I was actually scared everyone would think she was way cooler than I was, despite the fact that she was younger and a girl. I thought she was, why wouldn’t everyone else?” Prongs finished.

 

“I think you should tell her that, you know,” I said. He looked at me wide-eyed.

 

“Yeah, I don’t think she wants to hear it, Padfoot. Maybe she’s forgotten?”

 

“No way in hell someone forgets something like that, Prongs. But it does say a lot about her character that she is still willing to try being friends with you after that. I don’t think I would, mate,” I told him. I knew he didn’t want to hear it, but that’s what friends are for.

 

“I don’t even know how to bring it up. ‘Hey, remember when we were thick as thieves and I decided to be a complete asshole and pretend I didn’t even know you because you were too cool and I wanted to be popular in school?’” he rolled his eyes.

 

“Well, maybe not like that, but if I were you, I’d say something,” I shrugged, and motioned for him to follow me inside. It was freezing, and I had lost feeling in my hands.

 

We walked inside just in time to see Leonor and Edward walk down the stairs and start greeting guests. I scanned the crowd, looking for Jocelyn, but couldn’t find her. I was starting to worry she had decided to celebrate with that boyfriend of hers instead of coming to this party. If she had done that, I’d be pissed off. She was the only reason Prongs and I were wearing these stupid tuxedos.

 

“Holy crap!” James whispered. I turned to look at whatever had made Prongs’ eyes to bulge like they were going to pop out of his head.

 

It felt like the air was knocked out of me. Jocelyn was hurrying down the stairs, completely oblivious to the murmurs and whispers spreading through the room like wildfire. She was wearing a dress that looked as if it had been made with the night sky, quite literally. It was the exact same colour of the night sky, that indigo blue which is almost black, but not quite. It had tiny crystals embedded in it, reminding me of blinking starts. Her hair was pulled back in some sort of complicated do and adorned with the same crystals on her dress. She was a vision. I didn’t think I had ever seen anyone or anything more breathtaking. For a brief moment, my heart felt like it had been pierced, and it was Jocelyn wielding the blade.

 

James’ POV

 

I could tell Padfoot was scanning the room trying to find her. I found it strange that Sirius was so keen on a friendship with a girl. He had never before shown any interest in getting to know a girl that he wasn’t going to sleep with. He had even gone as far as saying he didn’t really think boys and girls could be friends. I had to check if he had revisited his thoughts on that area based on his behaviour around Jocelyn. I had to give it to him, he was also quite invested in making things work out with Lily and Alice, but I suspected he thought he was doing Moony and I a favour there.

 

I looked for Jocelyn myself, but couldn’t find her straight away. She was either late to her own party or off somewhere, maybe getting a drink. I was a bit nervous about tonight, but I wasn’t too sure why. Perhaps it was that I had never fancied anyone that wasn’t Lily Evans. Not really. I had hooked up with a couple of girls, but only dated them very briefly, and I had never gone all the way. It just didn’t feel right. Jocelyn had taken me by surprise. I had never really seen her as a girl in that way because I had practically grown up with her. But I guess when you pretend you don’t know someone for a full five years, those rules stop applying.

 

Telling Padfoot the truth had been a smart move. It felt like lifting a weight off my shoulders. I had been feeling a bit crushed by my guilt for ages, and it was like I finally had room to breathe again. He was right, I should tell her. I had to explain and apologise for being such an idiot. I looked around once more, my eyes dwelling on the staircase. We used to jump from the steps, daring each other to jump for a higher one every time until one of us chickened out. I was chuckling quietly to myself when I saw her on those very same steps, coming down towards the crowd.

 

“Holy crap!”

 

I couldn’t believe my eyes. This… this goddess couldn’t be the same little Jocelyn I was just thinking about. She wasn’t trying to make an entrance at all. If anything, she looked mildly mortified that she was late and was hurrying down the steps. Well, she was hurrying as much as her dress allowed her to. But, even though she wasn’t trying, she filled the room with her presence. How someone so small and delicate looking could have such power over a crowd was beyond me, but she did. And she didn’t even know it.

 

She made it to the bottom of the stairs and quickly dashed towards one of the bars. I tapped Padfoot on the shoulder and took off in the same direction. We found her politely listening to an older wizard by the bar. She was clearly annoyed that he was keeping her from her drink, but was too polite to do anything about it. Lucky for her, I wasn’t.

 

“Excuse me, sir, I need to steal her away for a moment,” I swooped in. The wizard looked at me like I was an insect and walked away.

 

“Thank you,” she smiled.

 

“I am guessing you need a drink,” Padfoot said.

 

“Yes, please!”

 

We turned towards the bar and asked the house elf for firewhisky, but Jocelyn shook her head.

 

“Laly, serve them the same I got,” she said.

 

“Should we be worried?” Padfoot asked, faking concern.

 

“If you don’t like it, I’ll have it and you can order your firewhiskey,” she dismissed him. The elf gave us three glasses.

 

“What is it?” I asked her.

 

“Muggle whiskey. I think it’s better than ours, but let me know what you think,” she explained. I took a sip. It was actually really good.

 

“How did you discover this? Max?”

 

“Black, it really is not funny,” she said, looking away. “And, if you must know, yes, he introduced me to it.”

 

“He’s got good taste,” I muttered. She looked at me and smiled.

 

“There’s something I want to say,” Padfoot announced. We both looked at him like he’d sprouted a second head. It was unlike him to be serious – no pun intended.

 

“Go on, then,” she said, bored (or pretending to be, I wasn’t sure).

 

“You really, really need to stop calling us by our last names. It is not cool. We’re on the same team. You are the only team member Pro… James calls by the last name. It freaks me out,” he said. Oh. I agreed with that. Wholeheartedly. I wanted to hear her say ‘James’ again. Repeatedly, if possible.

 

“I actually agree with him,” I chimed in. She looked at us and stayed quiet for a while.

 

“All right…” she nodded, slowly. Then, she looked at me. Okay, fine, let’s just do it.

 

“So, Jocelyn, can I speak to you for a second?” I gave Padfoot a look and he graciously vanished in the crowd. She glanced his way with confusion, but then shrugged and turned to me again.

 

“What’s up?”

 

“I… well… there’s no easy way of doing this, but I guess I’ll start by saying I’m sorry,” I gave her my best puppy eyes, hoping to awaken some pity in her.

 

“Why are you sorry? What have you done?” she looked alarmed.

 

“What? Nothing! Well, nothing new,” I cleared my throat. “I want to apologise because eleven-year-old me was a gigantic moron and you didn’t deserve what I did to you.”

 

She looked beyond shocked at that. I gave her a moment to process before continuing.

 

“I just wanted to say that I was afraid. I thought people would like you more than me, and that I would be picked on for having a best friend that was a girl. And I didn’t even think that it would upset you that much. I told myself you’d make other friends, and you’d be fine, because well, you were you, and cool, and awesome. But I felt shitty about it, I really did. I was just too cowardly to admit it to you.”

 

“It’s okay, James” she said, averting her eyes. Was she going to cry? She wasn’t, was she? Oh Merlin, I was not prepared for this.

 

“Right, well… I didn’t mean to kill the party mood, so, ehm…”

 

“Why now?” she interrupted me. She looked straight into my eyes, and I found it really hard to form a coherent thought.

 

“Mmm… well, you know… this year I have realised that I messed up big time. I mean, I used to think you were the coolest kid on the block when we were little and turns out that you still are. And, well, Sirius pointed out that we could never really be friends until I came clean,” her perfect lips opened in surprise at that.

 

“You told Black?”

 

“Only just. I told him very recently. Like, half an hour ago recently,” I admitted.

 

“Tell me something, James,” she asked, moving closer to me. She was really not making this easy. The closer she got, the more distracting she became.

 

“Yes?” I was nervous. I felt like I was fourteen again and I was getting ready for my first kiss. How ridiculous.

 

“Promise me you will never do that again. I like being around you, and your friends, I really do. I love the Quidditch team, and spending time playing explosive snapp in the common room. I even love going to the Three Broomsticks, even though I despise butter beer,” she took a deep breath, then continued. “Promise me you won’t shun me again. I don’t deserve it.”

 

“You don’t. You didn’t. I shouldn’t have done it when we were eleven, I can’t fix that now, but trust me, we like having you around too. You are smart, and witty, and funny. We want to be friends, all of us, not just me. And, even though we will probably get into a fight or argument at some point because someone will do something stupid – it’s bound to happen – we’ll solve it. All of us, together,” I told her. She looked into my eyes again, and I took the opportunity to add a last line. “I won’t ever hurt you again, Josie.”

 

“Oh my god! I didn’t think you remembered that,” she said, smiling. I winked at her and we both laughed.

 

Jocelyn’s POV

 

After James’ little confession I felt like a weight I didn’t know I was carrying was lifted off my shoulders. I felt like I was now truly free to explore our new friendship, I felt like I could trust them. There was a whole new world of opportunity out there for me, and it was mine for the taking.

 

I was definitely starting to feel the whiskey. We had had three drinks, or so, and were currently waiting patiently for Laly to serve us a fourth one. There was an annoying little voice in the back of my head telling me that getting drunk with Sirius Black and James Potter was never a good idea, but I was stubbornly ignoring it.

 

I had not been prepared for the sight of these two wearing tuxedos. I mean, you can make any average looking guy sexy by dressing him up in a black tie. I don’t need to tell you what Sirius and James looked like. It was all I could do not to drool. Every time one of them smiled a me, I was brutally reminded of just how handsome they were.

 

“I’ll be right back guys,” said James, disappearing in the direction of the restrooms. Sirius and I nodded.

 

“So, Jocelyn, how do you feel about tequila?” he asked, with a casual smirk. Sweet Merlin, he had to stop looking at me like that or I would lose it.

 

“Are you trying to get me drunk?” I joked.

 

“Maybe I am,” he wiggled his eyebrows at me, but his eyes were intensely boring into mine. I could almost feel them on my skin. He was a bit too close for comfort, and I suddenly felt like I had to break eye contact, or I might do something very stupid.

 

“I doubt you can keep up with me,” I turned to Laly. “Two shots, please.”

 

“Someone’s feeling feisty.”

 

“You have no idea,” he made a funny face at that. Oops, maybe I should think before I spoke.

 

“Won’t your boyfriend mind you’re getting drunk with me instead of him tonight?” he said, moving closer to grab the little shot glass Laly had placed on the table. He offered me mine.

 

“Ready?” I said, ignoring his comment. He nodded. “So, you have to tap it on the bar first, and then we have to look into each other’s eyes and down it.”

 

“What’s with the tapping?”

 

“Stupid muggle superstition, but I am not taking any chances,” I said.

 

He shrugged and did as instructed. The tequila burnt my throat and sent my already tipsy mind spinning even further out of control. I could feel my self-control and general ability to think about consequences and bad choices slipping through my fingers.

 

“Tell me,” he said, nodding towards the now empty shot glasses. When had he gotten so close to me?

 

“They say if you don’t tap you don’t shag,” I replied, casually giving him a side glance. He choked on the whiskey he was sipping, and his reaction sent me into a laughing fit.

 

“Who are you and where is Jocelyn?” he joked.

 

“Ah, don’t even try to act surprised. Just because I don’t go around sleeping with half the school doesn’t mean I’m innocent,” I shrugged. He looked a bit taken aback.

 

“It’s not like…”

 

“What have I missed?!” James joined us, cutting Sirius off. He eyed the empty shot glasses and gave us an accusatory look. I took what I hoped was an inconspicuous step to the side to put some space between myself and Sirius.

 

“You did shots without me?” he made a face. “Unacceptable behaviour. Betrayal, mutiny!”

 

“Don’t worry James, there’s plenty of time for more,” I said. He checked the clock and nodded. “It’s only eleven. We have another hour before countdown.”

 

“Are you going to stay until after?” Sirius asked me.

 

“Of course, it’s my house,” I was slightly confused by his question.

 

“I thought maybe you’d go see your muggle for the countdown,” he shrugged. “Laly, please, can we have three of those tequila shots?”

 

“Ah… yeah, well, about that… we broke up,” I said. They exchanged a quick glance that I didn’t know how to interpret.

 

“Oh, I’m sorry,” I could feel Sirius smirking before he turned to me and made a face. “I am very sorry,” he repeated, now with a small smile on his lips. 

 

“You are so not. Like, at all,” I shook my head.  

 

“Hey, you can’t blame me. I wouldn’t wish a long-distance relationship with a muggle on anyone. It’s not personal,” he said, passing me the shot glass, then one to James.

 

“Are you okay?” James asked me.

 

“I am. It was the best for both of us. It was sad breaking up, but it was kind of friendly. No yelling or name calling or anything like that,” I smiled at both of them. “Enough of that, I don’t want to think about it. This is a New Year’s Eve party, that’s what we’re focusing on.”

 

“That’s what the tequila is for,” James said, grinning.

 

“Okay, ready?” I said. Sirius held up his free hand.

 

“Are you not going to tell him?” he asked.

 

I could see the glint of mischief in his eyes, but I wasn’t sure what was causing it. Suddenly flustered, I decided I didn’t want to have an inside joke with Sirius Black that included the word ‘shag’ in it, because I wasn’t sure my sanity could handle it, so I turned to James.

 

“Right, yes, of course. James, rules are you have to tap the shot glass on the bar before drinking, and we have to look at each other. Though, with three people it’s a little awkward.”

 

“You don’t tap, you don’t shag!” Sirius beamed. James looked at him like he was insane.

 

“It’s his new favourite saying,” I said.

 

“You taught him that?” he looked mildly alarmed. I simply shrugged and signaled to them.

 

“Right, three, two, one… tap and…” Merlin’s pants. This tequila was stroooooong.

 

After a couple of shots, we all decided to dance. We claimed a small area at the edge of the dance floor and just swayed and danced to whatever was playing, without paying much attention to anything. It was so liberating and fun. Time flew by and, before I knew it, everyone was getting ready for the countdown. I stood between James and Sirius, well aware that if anyone had told me a year ago about this, I would have thought them in desperate need of a visit to St. Mungo’s psychiatric ward.

 

As people started whispering excitedly, I felt James’ arm around my waist. The countdown began. His hand was firm on my hip. I could feel his warmth through the fabric of my dress.

 

10

 

I looked at up at him.

 

9

 

“James, what are you doing?” I whispered.

 

8

 

I noticed Sirius shuffle and fidget on the other side of me.

 

7

 

“James!”

 

6

 

He looked at me and pulled me a bit closer to his side.

 

5

 

“James, what are you doing?” I asked again.

 

4

 

“I just don’t think…

 

3

 

… that a girl as amazing as you…

 

2

 

… should have no one at all…

 

1

… to give her a kiss when the clock strikes.”

 

MIDNIGHT – Happy New Year Everyone!

 

And then, James Potter brought his lips to my mouth.

 

I thought Jax was a good kisser. I really, really did. I wasn’t wrong, but he had absolutely nothing on James. Holy Molly. He started sweetly, just gently pressing his lips against mine to give me time to pull away if I wanted to. When I didn’t move, he slowly pushed my lips open and sensually explored my mouth with his. It was so different to Jax. I definitely liked that he tasted like whiskey and tequila, with no traces of tobacco.

 

His arm, still around my waist, held me firmly against him. His other hand cupped the back of my head. My mind was going a million miles per hour. What the hell was happening? I had no idea, at all, that James felt this way about me. Did I feel this way about him? I didn’t know. I was definitely attracted to him, I mean who wasn’t, but I had just broken up with Jax literally a few hours ago. I didn’t think I was ready for anything. But, James wasn’t exactly known for having serious relationships anyway. Maybe I was getting ahead of myself. In a moment of lucid thinking amidst the alcohol haze and shock at the unexpected kiss, I made the decision to just go with it and stop over thinking everything, just for once.

 

My mind shut down quickly after that, and my body and instincts took over. I was feeling things I had never felt before, and it was both scary and exciting. James kept kissing me, and I him, and I swear to Merlin I wouldn’t have stopped, like ever, if Sirius hadn’t started making strange noises next to us. James broke the kiss and looked at him, visibly annoyed.

 

“Seriously Pad…”

 

“Your parents are coming. All four of them,” he said. Oh. Oh, crap.

 

“Quick!” I grabbed them both by their hands and guided them across the hall as fast as my dress and the crowd would allow me.

 

We made it to the garden and I took them to my favourite spot, the bench nearest to the fountain. It was freezing, but I thought the cold air would help us sober up a little. I was reeling from the kiss and buzzing with adrenaline.

 

“So, happy new year guys,” said Sirius, smiling innocently at us.

 

“Yes, happy new year!” I clapped my hands happily. This was by far the best New Year’s Eve I had ever had.

 

“I’ll give you two a moment, but it’s freezing and I have nowhere to go or anyone to talk to, so be quick,” he said, heading towards the other end of the garden.

 

“I wasn’t expecting that,” I muttered to James as soon as Sirius had walked away. 

 

“It wasn’t planned. I just… I don’t know, spur of the moment thing,” he said. I had never, ever, seen James Potter be shy about anything in his entire life. He wasn’t even fussed when Lily told him… oh. Fuck. Would Lily be bothered by this? She had always denied that she liked him, and she was super into Cal, but I had to tell her immediately.

 

“You okay?”

 

“Sorry, yes, all the tequila makes it a bit hard to think,” I joked. “I… I don’t really know what to say, James. I…”

 

“How about we don’t say anything? We don’t need to. I mean, it happened, it was great, but that’s it. Let’s keep hanging out with everyone else and, if anything happens, it happens.”

 

“I… just so you know, I don’t usually kiss people like that. It’s not…”

 

“Hey, even if you did, it’s not my place to judge. It’s not like I haven’t hooked up with people. And, by the way, my best friend is a womanizer, so, really, I couldn’t judge anyone even if I wanted to,” he held his hands up in a ‘not guilty’ kind of way. I smiled.

 

“Okay, cool. Yeah, that sounds good,” he nodded, and turned towards Sirius to wave him over.

 

“So, when’s the wedding?” he said. I rolled my eyes.

 

“Very funny, Black.”

 

“Oi! Not fair, I heard you call him James,” he protested.

 

“I’ll remember to use your name, someday,” I said, smirking at him.

 

“You are so cruel.”

 

“Karma is a bitch,” I said. James laughed, hard. Sirius just hung his head in resignation.



Chapter 8: Out of his league
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Lily’s POV

 

I was not expecting an owl from Jo on New Year’s Day, so when I saw the letter, I worried something bad had happened. We had heard news of some disturbances and some people going missing, and whilst I wasn’t too concerned, it was starting to happen a bit too often for us to simply ignore it. I was so not prepared for the confession she had penned. I put the letter down and grabbed a quill and some parchment straight away.

 

Dear Jo,

 

OH MY GOD. I don’t even know what to say! Well, I do. Firstly, do not worry. I could not care less what Potter does, seriously and honestly, you are totally free to hook up with him or date him or whatever you want to do with him (I want deets!). It is very sweet of you to think about me, but I assure you his obsession has always been that, a one-sided obsession. I am glad he is over it. Cal will be thrilled too (I think he has been a bit worried about it).

 

Second, are you sure you’re okay? I know you say it was a friendly one, but a breakup is a breakup anyway, and they suck. Let me know if you want to talk about it, I’m here for you.

 

Third. Oh My God. I just cannot get over it. Who knew James Potter could be a romantic? I can’t wait to see you tomorrow on the Express, I want ALL THE DETAILS. All of them!

 

Love you,

Lils

 

P.S. Have you told Alice?

 

Alice’s POV

 

My head hurt tremendously. Our New Year’s Eve party had been huge, and I had had a few too many drinks. Jo’s owl flew in through the open window and dropped a small letter on my lap. Had something bad happened? I couldn’t think of anything she’d have to tell me that couldn’t wait until tomorrow. Surely any gossip could wait until we were on the Express. I thought, with a small pang of fear that if she was writing today, it had to be for good reason. With a great display of willpower and mind-over-body control, I conquered my hangover and sat down to read her letter.

 

OH MY GOD.

 

All thoughts of headaches and nausea forgotten, I ran downstairs and took the landline phone my parents kept for communicating with the few muggle friends they had. I punched the only number I had ever memorized and waited impatiently as the line rang. I had to give it to muggles, they did have some smart workarounds to overcome the fact they couldn’t use magic.

 

“Evans residence, who’s calling?”

 

“Hello Mrs Evans. Is Lily available, please? This is Alice.”

 

“Hi Alice. Yes, one moment dear, I’ll go get her.”

 

“Hello? Alice?”

 

“Lily, did Jo write to you?”

 

“OH MY GOD!!”

 

“I KNOW.”

 

“This is going to upset so many people,” I said, feeling secretly happy. There were a couple of bitchy girls I knew who had massive crushes on Potter.

 

“Alice, this is going to completely change everything” she said. “I mean, there’s no way Jo isn’t going to want to spend even more time with the guys.”

 

“I don’t think that’s such a bad thing, though. Is it?” I said, thinking of Remus.

 

“No, it’s not. I’m just pointing it out.”

 

“I wish Remus had kissed me like Potter kissed Jo,” I said, pouting even though Lily couldn’t see me through the phone.

 

“You know… I really didn’t see that coming. I was convinced it was going to be Black,” she said.

 

“I doubt Jo would have allowed Black to get near her enough to even attempt to kiss her, though.”

 

“I… I just thought, I don’t know. They have been getting along recently, in that weird way of theirs,” Lily said. Then, she dropped her voice to a whisper and added “plus, the way he looks at her makes me feel a bit dizzy, have you not noticed it?”

 

“What? No, I haven’t,” I said. What was she talking about? “I think that’s it’s just because they get on each other’s nerves so much. Like, sure, there’s some sexual tension there but then again Black has sexual tension with pretty much everyone. I don’t think Jo likes him that way… I mean, they can’t have a full conversation without at least a swearword, an insult and an eye roll. Though that’s mostly on Jo’s part.”

 

“I guess I was hoping Jo would have one of those epic love stories. The ones where they start out hating each other and end up madly in love. She deserves that kind of romance,” Lily sighed. I thought I was supposed to be the hopeless romantic.

 

“It could still happen, you never know. We still have almost two years left of school. It’s a long time,” I said.

 

“I doubt Black would try anything after she’s been with Potter. They have many faults, but their loyalty to each other is enviable,” she replied.

 

“True that.”

 

“Anyway, I’m curious to see what’s going to happen now. According to Jo’s letter, they aren’t dating or anything.”

 

“I just hope that when Remus hears about this, he realizes it’s okay to take a risk…” I said, daydreaming of what it would be like to kiss him.

 

“You know you can also just make the first move,” Lily pointed out.

 

“No freaking way. Where’s the romanticism in that? I want to be swept off my feet.”

 

“To be fair, after reading Jo’s explanation of that moment, Cal’s got some serious wooing to do. I can’t believe an impromptu snog with James Potter can be a million times more romantic than any date I’ve had with Cal” Lily said indignantly. I chuckled.

 

“You tell him, girl!”

 

“Yeah, I will,” she laughed. “Petunia wants to call Vernon; I need to hang up. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

 

“See you tomorrow.”

 

Jocelyn’s POV

 

All my worries that things wouldn’t just be back to normal had dissipated by the end of the first week of the new term. A week after that, and I couldn’t even remember why I had ever worried that our friendship with the guys wouldn’t work out. True to his word, James didn’t act like anything odd had happened. It wasn’t like we were pretending we hadn’t kissed; we were just focusing on our friendship as a group more. The main difference was that the more time we all spent together, the less awkward we felt around the guys, and even Lily had started opening up to them a bit more. I think knowing James wasn’t going to suddenly start stalking her again had put her mind at ease once and for all, and they were even on speaking terms.

 

Sirius and I had resumed our beater practice together, fitting it in when we found time. We couldn’t use the same move again, as everyone was now very aware that I was just as dangerous as he was. But we had a few other tricks up our sleeves. I loved these sessions and looked forward to them. No matter how annoying Sirius was at other times, when we were both flying together, we were a perfect unit. I never thought that we would be so in sync with each other. We anticipated each other’s moves and understood each other’s signals perfectly.

 

“That was bloody brilliant, Jocelyn!” he said landing heavily after we finished a practice. It was freezing cold, but my cheeks were flushed with the effort of training.

 

“I know, right? I am awesome,” I beamed at him and he laughed, hard. “I need your help with the second swinging style though, I’m not sure I got it,” I told him.

 

“Let’s see it,” he came over to me and we dropped our brooms on the floor.

 

I grabbed the bat and did a practice swing to show him. He nodded. “I know what you mean, the arc isn’t quite right. Here, look,” he stood behind me, and put his arm around me so he could close his hand over mine on the bat.

 

We did a few swings like that and I got what he meant. Without thinking, I turned my face towards him. “YES! I think I got it. It feels right, you know?”

 

It was only then that I became suddenly hyper aware of how close he was standing. I could feel the heat of his body on my back, the calluses on his hand which was still wrapped over mine. My cheek was almost grazing his nose, and I could see his breath and mine mingled in one single cloud of mist. I froze.

 

“Good…” he said. It sounded like he was distracted, thinking about something else. He still hadn’t moved. 

 

Then, it started raining. We sprang apart quickly, and I picked up my broom pretending nothing had happened because, well, nothing had. Had it?

 

**

 

It was a day like any other late January day. I had been delayed in coming back to my room by a very annoyed Professor Slughorn, who wasn’t happy I had weaseled my way out of his most recent dinner gathering. I hadn’t been kidding when I told Lily I had no plans to go to the Slug Club again. Slughorn had delayed me, and I was almost late. With a sigh, I threw my bag on my bed and I grabbed my broom quickly. I half walked half ran down the stairs into the common room, ready for our Thursday practice. I bumped into Matt by the portrait.

 

“Ready for the first storm practice of the new year?” he asked. We started walking together.

 

“I don’t think so,” I said, looking out one of the windows as we walked past it. It was a miserable day. It hadn’t stopped snowing since the night before. We had already had three or four sessions in the blistering cold, but we had been lucky, and it had been mostly dry up in the air so far. Not this time.

 

“Cap is especially mean in this weather, be warned,” he said ominously. I shook my head.

 

“I swear he gets a kick out of making us suffer,” we both laughed and walked comfortably in silence for a while.

 

“So, I know it’s none of my business, but I heard you… well, that you broke up with your boyfriend,” he said shyly.

 

“Yeah, we did. We broke up over the Christmas break.”

 

“Are you alright?”

 

“Yes. It was a friendly break up. Not sure if you knew, but he is a muggle and it was just too complicated. He could tell it wasn’t working. It was sad, but it was for the best,” I said, pushing the door to the grounds open and stepping on the snow.

 

“So… well, I’m sorry if it’s too early, you can totally tell me that but I was wondering if you’d like to go to Hogsmeade this weekend with me?”

 

“I didn’t know we had a Hogsmeade visit this weekend, I thought we were having the winter party,” I said.

 

“No, you are right. There isn’t an official visit, but I’m going to town with some other guys to buy a couple of things for the party. We have permission from McGonagall, and well, I thought maybe you’d like to come with me?”

 

“Are you asking me on a date or a grocery run?” I joked.

 

“A date. Definitely a date,” he said.

 

“I am not sure I’m ready to date anyone, Matt,” he looked deflated. “But I’ll go to Hogsmeade with you. We can hang out, see how it goes. I just don’t want you to have any expectations.”

 

“That’s cool with me. And, like I said, I know the breakup must still be fresh, so I probably should have waited. I just didn’t want someone else to beat me to it.”

 

I smiled at him as we reached the practice grounds. A few people from the team were already there, preparing the kit. I went inside to grab the bludgers box, since Sirius hadn’t arrived yet. As I dragged it outside through the grey slush, the wind started picking up. It was going to be a miserable practice indeed.

 

“Oh my Godric. I am dead!!” I threw myself unceremoniously on a bench in the changing room with a dramatic sigh. My bat fell loudly on the floor next to me.  

 

“Cap, I think you broke Jocelyn,” Annie said. James choked on the water he was drinking. I giggled a little.

 

“I thought you were fit?” Sirius teased.

 

“This has nothing to do with fitness,” I protested. “We’ve been dragging ourselves through freezing mud for hours. I’m going to have to soak all night in a bath to get rid of it all.”

 

“There are worse things,” chimed in Matt. He took off his cloak and dropped it on the floor. It landed with a very heavy thud, testament to the amount of soil we were covered with.

 

“I’ll pay good money for someone to levitate me all the way back to Gryffindor Tower,” I announced.

 

“Wing…”

 

“DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT, BLACK,” I shouted, sitting upright and terrified that he’d go through with it. He started laughing hysterically.

 

“He didn’t even have his wand out,” said Cal. I sighed.

 

“Seriously, though. I hope you’re not planning on making us do this every session until the Hufflepuff game,” I told James. He came over to where I was and, without giving me any time to think, scooped me up in his arms.

 

“Stop being a crybaby, Jocelyn,” he said with a grin.

 

“What are you doing?” I heard Matt’s voice, but I couldn’t see him. I was suddenly very distracted by how close James’ face was to mine and how bloody strong his arms were. I wasn’t heavy, but soaked and muddy Quidditch robes were.

 

“Going back to the Gryffindor Tower,” he said, like it was the most obvious thing in the world.

 

“I was joking James; you can put me down,” I whispered as he started walking out of the changing rooms.

 

“I don’t want to,” he said, simply. I didn’t have anything to say to that.

 

He carried me all the way back to the common room, whilst Sirius complained nonstop that in all their Quidditch playing years James had never done anything even remotely as nice as this for him.

 

“You are a lot heavier than she is,” James pointed out.

 

“That’s not the point. I object to this favoritism. Do I need to make out with you to start getting special treatment?”

 

“Send in your application, I’ll review it,” said James. My belly was hurting from laughing so much when he put me down on the floor.

 

“Thanks,” I said. “Now, I’m going to soak until this dirt peels off. See you tomorrow!”

 

It took me an hour to feel clean again, and by the time I was done, my entire body felt sore. So, I dragged myself to bed and fell asleep almost immediately.

 

#

 

The next morning, I cursed James and every ancestor he had as I struggled to get out of bed. Everything hurt. I did not even want to think about how the rest of the team felt. I knew for a fact I was the only one who did other training and exercised outside of Quidditch practice. If I was feeling like this, I didn’t want to know the levels of pain they must be in.

 

“Are you ready for breakfast?” Alice asked.

 

“Yes, sorry. I’m just so sore everywhere,” I said, putting my scarf around my neck loosely and following them out the door.

 

“Good morning!” Peter was just walking into the common room as we reached the end of the girls’ staircase.

 

“Hi Pete, you guys going for breakfast?” Alice asked, subtly glancing around.

 

“Just me. Mo… Remus is a bit unwell, so James and Sirius took him to the infirmary. Nothing to worry about, just a cold but he wants to recover quickly for tomorrow’s party,” he said. Alice’s disappointment was so obvious it hurt.

 

“Let’s go then,” I said.

 

We headed to DADA after breakfast and met James and Sirius as they were arriving to the classroom.

 

“Hey, got you these,” I said, pulling out two apples and two granola bars from my bag. “It’s not much, but better than nothing, I guess.”

 

“You are queen of my heart, Jocelyn Silverway,” said Sirius, bowing until he was almost touching the floor. James just laughed and grabbed his food.

 

“Thanks, that was very nice. You didn’t have to,” he said.

 

“I still had to tick off my charitable action of the week,” I replied. Sirius grabbed his food too and winked at me.

 

DADA was one of my favourite classes. Our teacher this year was a foreign professor with loads of field experience. He had been an auror prior to getting into education. We were working on dueling skills with him, and I was loving it. If my calculations were correct, today we would duel each other for the first time. Of course, we had done this before, dueling was a constant in the curriculum every year, but now that we were getting into really advanced spells and counterspells, I was eager to test them.

 

I was right, and the professor announced that we would start with demonstrations. He cleared the classroom and made space for two duelers to face each other in the middle.

 

“Mr Potter, Mr Black, please take positions,” he said. Oh, this was going to be interesting. I had always known that even though I was very good at Defense, James and Sirius shared the top spot and there was no doubt about it. I was slightly jealous, competitive as I was, but they were just too good at it.

 

I made my way to the first row, ready to pay attention. Sirius and James faced each other and held their wands firmly, waiting for the signal to being. I didn’t know where to look. They were both putting on an impressive show. I had seen them duel before, but never like this. Their movements were precise and elegant but strong and powerful at the same time. Watching them duel was not just an excellent magic lesson, it was also hot in the way that watching attractive boys be brave and reckless and appear to be invincible was hot. I was sure I wasn’t the only female getting tummy flutters watching them, and I even heard a sigh or two from the audience.

 

At one point, Sirius even had time to look at me and give me one of those disarming smiles he very, very seldom used. My heart skipped a tiny beat, but I blamed it on hormones, and his undeniable hotness. Anyone would have skipped a beat if Sirius smiled at them like that. It didn’t mean anything.

 

“Thank you, thank you. That was outstanding,” the professor said when they finished.

 

‘It was outstanding, alright’ I thought to myself. I could not stop thinking about them both, no matter what I tried. I couldn’t remember the last time I was this flustered. When it was my turn to duel, against Cal, I struggled to focus on what I was doing. Thank Merlin Cal wasn’t the best wizard in our year, or I would have been in trouble.

 

**

 

I met Matt in the common room at noon on Saturday. It had stopped snowing, so I was actually looking forward to our trip to Hogsmeade. He looked dashing in a pair of jeans and a dark green sweater. He smiled as soon as he saw me. The conversation was easy, as it always was with Matt. We walked down to the school grounds and were joined by some other students also going to gather ‘supplies’ for the party that night. It wasn’t an official school thing, but the teachers knew that the only way to keep a bunch of hormonal teenagers under control was to turn a blind eye every now and then and let them have a bit of fun. So, Ravenclaw and Gryffindor were throwing a party together in a couple of joint classrooms on the third floor. We spent quite a bit of time looking for everything Matt had on the list he had been assigned, but eventually we got what we needed.

 

“We’ve got about an hour left before we have to go back. Can I buy you a coffee?”

 

“Sure, a hot drink sounds lovely right now,” I said.

 

We sat in a small table in a coffee shop and ordered hot chocolate. I was secretly very pleased he hadn’t taken me to Madame Puddifoot’s.

 

“So, what was that about the other night after practice?” he asked me. Uh oh.

 

“What do you mean?” maybe if I played dumb, he’d drop it?

 

“You know, Cap picking you up and that,” he said. I could tell he was trying to play it cool, but he really wanted to know.

 

“It’s just a bit of banter. You know what they’re like,” I said.

 

“You’ve been spending a lot of time with them.”

 

“Yeah, we have,” I shrugged.

 

“So, there’s nothing going on with Potter?”

 

“We’re friends,” I said. I didn’t want to lie to his face, but I also didn’t think he needed to know, so I settled for that.

 

“Okay, cool. I know I’m going to have a bit of competition, but I’m not sure I want to be going up against Cap,” he joked.

 

“He’s not that scary,” I protested.

 

“Not scary, just… you know. Nobody wants to be on his or Black’s bad side.”

 

“I’d be a lot more worried about Sirius. After all, he’s the one with the big heavy bat,” I pointed out. He laughed.

 

We changed topic after that, but I realised that a small part of me was bothered by the fact that he hadn’t asked if he had to worry about Sirius. I mean, he obviously didn’t, but still. I guess I wanted to hear someone thought I was in Sirius’ league. Was I? I didn’t know.

 

James’ POV

 

“Where the hell is Padfoot?” I barged into our room with Moony, who had recovered from his little ‘episode’ the night before, scaring the bejesus out of Wormtail.

 

“No idea. He said he had to go get something for the party and hasn’t come back yet.”

 

“The party starts in half an hour!” I protested.

 

“He knows,” said Wormtail. Moony sat on his bed and started going through his clothes, looking for something that would help hide his paleness. It was just such bad luck that the party was right after the full moon.

 

“Are you going to make a move on Jocelyn tonight?” Moony asked.

 

“I think so, yeah. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about her since New Year’s Eve,” it was the truth. I didn’t want to ruin our friendship, but I also couldn’t stop thinking about our kiss. I wanted more. It had been almost a month since we’d been back, and I felt like we had proven to each other that our friendship was safe no matter what. We would always be friends first, but that didn’t mean we couldn’t explore something else.

 

“What about you and Alice?” I asked Moony.

 

“I don’t know what to do,” he said, defeated. “I really like her, but you know…”

 

“Moony, mate, you are allowed to date just like everyone else. It’s not healthy to close yourself off like that,” said Wormtail.

 

“I haven’t made up my mind yet.”

 

“Stop over thinking it,” I said.

 

“Overthinking what?” Padfoot walked into the room.

 

“Where were you?”

 

“Hogsmeade,” he said. “Went to grab a few things. Who’s thinking?”

 

“Moony.”

 

“About Alice?”

 

“Yup.”

 

“Stop thinking, I agree with Prongs,” he said. Moony looked a bit lost, and sighed.

 

The party was busy. Pretty much every student in sixth and seventh year was there, even the Slytherins. I saw a couple of fifth years too, probably other people’s dates. I spotted Alice, who was taller than both her friends, and we made our way there. Lily was with her, but Jocelyn wasn’t around. I felt the pang of disappointment a bit harder than I expected.

 

“Where’s Jocelyn?” asked Padfoot. I gave him a sideways glance. For someone who insisted had no romantic interest in her at all, he sure always found excuses to be around her. I felt bad almost as quickly as I thought that. Padfoot had never lied to me, ever. I was probably just being paranoid.

 

“She’s gone to get a drink with Matt,” said Lily.

 

“Do you guys want a drink?” Moony asked.

 

“Let’s go to the bar together,” said Alice, hooking her arm on Moony’s and leading the way. We all looked and smiled knowingly at each other, even Lily.

 

Jocelyn was, indeed, by the bar. And she was laughing with Matt. I felt a sudden urge to punch him in the face. But, I reminded myself, Jocelyn was not my girlfriend and there was no reason she couldn’t talk to, or – gulp – even kiss other guys. If I wanted to prevent that from happening, I had to take matters into my own hands.

 

“JAMES!” Wormtail yelled at me.

 

“What?”

 

“For the fourth time, what do you want?!” he said, visibly exasperated.

 

“Ah, sorry. Firewhisky, thanks,” I grabbed the glass he gave me and took a deep gulp. Jocelyn must have heard him, because she turned around. Seeing us, she came over followed closely by Matt.

 

“Hi guys!”

 

“Hey,” Matt nodded in our general direction in what I assume he thought was a manly greeting.

 

“Where’s Cal?” Jocelyn asked Lily.

 

“He’ll be here in a second, he had to finish a letter home before coming.”

 

“Ah. Oh, guys look,” she gestured behind us and we all turned. “Be subtle guys!”

 

Alice and Remus were talking. No, Alice and Remus were flirting. It was pretty obvious, and it was going very well by the looks of it.

 

“We must protect them at all costs,” said Lily. I nodded approvingly.

 

“Let’s just watch out so nobody interrupts. I have a feeling tonight’s their lucky night!” said Jocelyn, clapping her hands quietly. I chuckled.

 

“Well, if we’re going to stand here and patrol, we could do it in turns, hang around here and keep an eye on them. I know there’s a sixth year Ravenclaw who has his eye on Alice, he mustn’t interrupt them!” Lily informed us. We all nodded solemnly. 

 

“Great idea, Jocelyn and I can take the first watch,” said Matt. I had to bite my tongue to refrain from pointing out that nobody was speaking to him. He had no business being here. This was our group. Go away.

 

“Actually, I’d like to borrow Jocelyn for a while,” I said instead. Much more civil. I was proud of myself.

 

“Is everything okay?” she asked. Padfoot was giving me a funny look that I decided to ignore.

 

“I’m sure it can wait,” said Matt. To my utter surprise, Lily cut in.

 

“I can take first watch. Matt, would you mind keeping me company until Cal gets here? Please?”

 

I knew there was a reason I had spent years pining after Lily Evans. She was, after all, really smart and pretty. Evans for the win!

 

 



Chapter 9: Second Base
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Sirius’ POV

 

James disappeared with Jocelyn and Matt and Lily took ‘first watch’. Peter had also scuttled off somewhere to get another bottle of firewhiskey, seeing as we had little to do but stand idly and drink. I swore to Merlin, if Moony didn’t make out with Alice that night after all the effort we were putting in, I’d kill him. With most of my friends otherwise occupied I had a look around. It had been ages since I’d had any real action, and it was a good night to get some. I scanned the crowd lazily trying to pick a girl.

 

‘Not that one, her hair looks too short’

 

‘Hair too black’

 

‘Not feeling the brown eyes’

 

‘That one is way too tall’

 

‘I’m not in the mood for blondes’

 

‘Nah, there’s something off with her attitude’

 

Ugh. What was going on? Hogwarts had a solid selection of good-looking girls to pick from. Yes, some were more attractive than others but then again, different guys liked different things. I had never had this much trouble finding someone that took my fancy. I jumped off the desk I had been sat on and went over to the nearest bar to refill my drink. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a flicker of perfect chocolate coloured hair that caught my attention. Already smiling to myself, I turned to eye the lucky girl only to realize in utter horror that it was none other than Jocelyn.

 

She was sat on a desk, her legs dangling off not reaching the floor. James was casually standing close enough that he could touch her, but not so close that he was actually between her legs. Yet. Classic move. I’d taught him that one. I was woefully unprepared for the wave of irritation that overtook me. I couldn’t take my eyes off them. Everything was pissing me off: the way he made her laugh, how he brushed a lock of her hair aside, or the way she tilted her head to the side slightly and smiled at him. I noticed Prongs’ eyes darting between her face and her neck and felt a horrible urge to tackle him to the ground.

 

What was the matter with me? I had not lied to him. I knew and felt I was over my silly crush on her when James had asked me. I had been over it for a while now. Yes, I hadn’t stop thinking she was gorgeous but, come on, anyone with a pair of eyeballs could see that. I was convinced that we were friends, and that was it. So, why was this bothering me so much?

 

“Hey Sirius,” I looked to my right and saw a girl smiling at me. It annoyed me even more. It was so easy. It was always so easy. I had never had to do absolutely anything to get a girl. A little lightbulb went on in my head immediately after that thought. Could it be?

 

“Hey,” I said, smiling back. She came closer to me.

 

“What are you drinking? Do you need a refill?” I emptied the rest of the firewhiskey and handed her the glass.

 

“Firewhiskey,” she hurried over to the bar.

 

I went back to sorting through my confusion. I wasn’t unfamiliar with the idea of ‘playing hard to get’. There was a reason it worked. We always wanted the things we couldn’t have. Was that it? It was very likely, I decided. I had had a proper crush on Jocelyn for years, and she had never, not once, looked at me. I had even caught both Lily and Alice checking me out at least a couple of times, but not Jocelyn. Never Jocelyn. It was entirely possible that I just wanted closure on that. It made sense. After all, the only girl that had ever resisted me was the only girl I had actually ever wanted. But, what was I going to do about that? It was too late now. I couldn’t just hook up with her because James would be hurt. My only option was to distract myself and try to ignore the nagging feeling at the pit of my stomach.

 

“Here you go.”

 

“Thanks, what’s your name gorgeous?”

 

“Iris.”

 

“Well, Iris, it’s your lucky night,” I said, putting my hands on her waist and leaning in to kiss her, hoping it would help me push thoughts of Jocelyn away.

 

Jocelyn’s POV

 

“I cannot believe you guys did that!” I said, holding my belly. James had me in stitches. I couldn’t remember the last time I had laughed so much.

 

“I have proof,” he grinned mischievously at me.

 

“Ooh, I can see you’re up to something.”

 

“What gave me away?” he moved a bit closer. I hadn’t failed to notice that he was slowly making his way towards me. I was a bit scared of what would happen if he kissed me here, with all these people around, but I was also kind of wishing he’d hurry up.

 

“That is a cheeky smile if I ever saw one,” I said. He chuckled. “What’s the proof?”

 

“I got a scar.”

 

“Aah, well, some people find scars sexy and manly.”

 

“Are you one of those people?” he wiggled his eyebrows. I laughed again.

 

“Maybe, maybe not.”

 

“I would show it to you, but I’d probably cause an avalanche of crazed groupies if I took my shirt off here,” he said. Oh. Oh. Wow. Now I was interested in this scar of his.

 

“Damn groupies,” I said. He grinned widely at that.

 

“We can always get out of here,” he suggested.

 

“Yeah, I think I’d like that,” he took my hand and I jumped off the desk, making a face as I landed on my feet.

 

“You okay?”

 

“Just in a world of pain, thanks to you,” I protested.

 

“What? From practice?”

 

“Yes, Cap,” I shot him what I hoped was a murderous look, but I found it hard. I was feeling a lot of things towards James that evening, and none of them were even remotely murderous.

 

“Should we check on the others, or sneak away?”

 

“Mmm… it’s probably worth checking Cal showed up. I’d hate for Lily to be stuck there alone all night,” I bit my lip. Going back was risky. We could get held up easily and never make it away from the party. But I was a girl’s girl first and foremost, and I had to check on Lily.

 

“Let’s go. It won’t take long,” he said, nodding.

 

I followed him through the crowd, enjoying the feeling of my small hand in his when I saw Sirius out of the corner of my eye. He was very busy sticking his tongue down Iris’ throat. I didn’t know Iris very well at all, she was a sixth year Hufflepuff and that was about as much as I knew. I felt a strange emptiness in the pit of my stomach, but I looked away and re-focused on James.

 

Lily was, indeed, with Cal. We said hello, checked in on Peter who was successfully flirting with a fifth year whilst ‘keeping watch’ and even stole a glance in Remus and Alice’s direction. I wasn’t sure if they had kissed yet, but they were standing a lot closer than they were before, and they were oblivious to the rest of the world. All was well, James and I could sneak off in peace.

 

“There you are!” or maybe not. Crap, I had forgotten all about Matt.

 

“Hey Matt.”

 

“Do you want another drink?” he offered. I didn’t even know where my glass was.

 

“We were just leaving,” said James.

 

“Together?”

 

“Yes, why is there a problem?” oh no. No, no, no.

 

“Just surprised, since when I asked Jocelyn earlier today, she said you two were just friends,” I didn’t know Matt was capable of such spite. The pure venom in his voice made me angry. I wanted to retort, but James beat me to it.

 

“We are friends, she wasn’t lying,” Matt looked pointedly at our hands, which were still linked.

 

“Right. Look, if you want to shag him and not me be my guest, but you should have told me before I made a fool of myself,” he sneered in my direction.

 

“If that’s what you were hoping for, James or no James you were sorely mistaken,” I said. “Let’s go, James.”

 

“I didn’t mean…” Matt realized he’d been way out line, but it was too late. I was annoyed, and he had been drinking. We would solve this another time.

 

“You need to sober up and re-think how you talk to and about girls. Just because we had a chat and spent some time together doesn’t mean you own me, or that you can automatically assume I was going to have sex with you. I don’t owe you anything.”

 

“Amen, sister,” said James. I rolled my eyes and tugged at his hand. He led me away from Matt and the party.

 

“So, you went on a date with Wood?” he asked me as we walked down a corridor.

 

“I went to Hogsmeade with him to get some of the stuff for the party, and we grabbed a hot drink. You could call it a date, yes.”

 

“I would ask if you like him, but I have a feeling even if you did, he managed to screw it up all on his own.”

 

“Your feeling is correct,” I nodded. Then I stopped walking and looked around, confused. “James, where are we?”

 

“It’s a surprise.”

 

“You know what I said earlier about the cheeky smile? It’s back.”

 

“Good,” he took my hand away and led me through a few more passages and stairs, then into a big corridor. “Wait here.”

 

I watched him walk back and forth a few times in front of a seemingly random wall and, just when I was starting to worry about his sanity, a door materialized out of nowhere.

 

“That is cool.”

 

“After you,” he offered, opening the door for me. I walked into what looked pretty much like our common room in the Gryffindor Tower but with comfier furniture. James walked in and closed the door after him, taking a seat on a big sofa. I hesitated for a second, unsure of what to do.

 

“Come here,” he said, gesturing for me to join him on the sofa. I sat down next to him, turned so that I could face him, with a leg bent under me.

 

“So… about that scar,” I teased.

 

“Right, be warned, women have been known to swoon at the sight of me,” he joked. I didn’t think he’d actually do it, but he seemed to think it was totally okay for him to lift his shirt exposing his absurdly toned abs and chest. I forgot to breathe for a moment.

 

“Here, look,” he pointed at the right side of his torso and I saw it. It was longer than I thought it would be, and it must have been a nasty wound for it to leave such as scar. Magical medicine was usually pretty good at avoiding such permanent marks.

 

I traced it with a finger and felt James’ sharp intake of breath when I grazed his skin. He shifted his position slightly and I marveled at how I could see his muscles move underneath his taut skin. Without another word, he leaned forward and captured my lips with his.

 

I didn’t know how much I had missed kissing James until we were doing it again. Just like he did at the Crystal Ball, he started slow and gentle, always giving me a chance to change my mind and pull away. As I returned the kiss, adjusting my position to get closer to him, he deepened the kiss. He was such a good kisser. I ran my hands through his hair, grabbing on to it lightly and he tensed. Thanks to Jax, I knew what his reaction meant, and I found myself wanting to make James feel that way more and more. I lifted myself up using the leg I had bent under me and swiftly straddled him, putting my legs on either side.

 

James went wild. I could feel him fighting for his self-control. He was losing. We broke apart, gasping for air, and he started trailing kisses and gentle bites from my jaw and down my neck. I got goose bumps all over. It felt like my brain was shut down, and everything was overridden by the sensations James was causing. He bit and sucked lightly on a sensitive spot at the base of my neck and I felt like I might lose it completely. Did I want to? Was I ready? How far did I want to go tonight? How far did I want to go with James in general? I tried to hold on to my thoughts long enough to consider them, but I couldn’t.

 

We kissed again. As things got more and more heated, I felt his hands tentatively explore the small space at the small of my back where my skin was exposed between my trousers and my shirt. I felt my heart expand a little. Even in this crazed estate, he still had enough willpower to wait for my permission, to make sure it was what I wanted. And it was. I hadn’t decided yet how far I wanted to go, but I’d been to second base with Jax before and I really, really wanted a go at it with James.

 

I broke the kiss and looked into his eyes. I marveled for a second and how beautiful they were: slightly green around the edges, merging into golden brown. I nodded.

 

“Are… are you sure?” he breathed. “I… you need to tell me when you want to stop.”

 

“I will,” I kissed him again and he did not waste a second.

 

I tugged at his shirt, and he sat up, letting me pull it off him. Merlin’s pants. He was fit. He grabbed the hem of my jumper but hesitated. I smiled at him and took it off myself, together with the top I wore underneath. James’ face was all the reassurance I ever needed to feel confident. He was looking at me like I might vanish any second. His hands were trembling a little as he tentatively explored the skin on my back and chest, and the edges of my bra.

 

It occurred to me then that I had no idea how much experience James had. He was an outstanding kisser, better than Jax by a million miles, but there was something different in the way marveled at my body. Jax had been almost in a hurry, knowing exactly what to do and when. James took his time, and I liked it. It gave me time to explore him, too. His arms and torso were a dream. All those years of Quidditch playing had definitely paid off. I could feel him get goose bumps everywhere I touched him, and I loved it. It was exhilarating knowing I could make someone like James Potter feel this way.

 

We kissed again, and again, and again. And I don’t really know how long we spent there, on that sofa, exploring each other until our lips hurt and exhaustion was too great to ignore any longer.

 

**

 

“JOCELYN SILVERWAY,” I opened my eyes groggily and made a strangled noise.

 

“No, none of that. If you wanted to sleep, you should have come back at a normal hour like the rest of us. Get up now!”

 

“Lily, please,” I begged, hiding under the covers.

 

“Up, now,” she sat on my bed and a second later I felt Alice do the same. I poked my head out from under the covers and gave them my most threatening look.

 

“You didn’t come back until four and we want to know what you were doing,” Alice said, trying to suppress a giggle.

 

“What time is it?” I said.

 

“It’s eleven am. You slept over six hours, that’s enough. Now, spill!” I sighed and a small smile escaped my lips as I remembered the previous night. Lily and Alice exchanged a glance and looked at me eagerly.

 

“Fine. I was with James,” I said.

 

“We know. What were you doing with James?”

 

“Well, what do you think!?”

 

“DETAILS!” I could tell Lily was losing her patience, it was hilarious.

 

“I am sorry to inform you that you missed out, Lils,” I said. Her eyes went wide. I continued, “I already told you he’s a great kisser, but oh my Godric. He’s amazing, and he’s such a gentleman. Like, you know sometimes you’re with a guy and they will like, try to do something to see if they can get away with it? He’s not like that. He waits for me to set the boundaries, and he sticks to them.”

 

They sighed and nodded, knowingly. “Did you… you know… did you do it?” Alice whispered.

 

“No. I… I thought about it, but we’re not even an official couple or anything, so I thought maybe I would regret it?”

 

“Do you think you would?”

 

“What, sleep with him or regret it?”

 

“Both.”

 

“I would most definitely sleep with him. I mean, like I said, I considered it last night. Regret it? I don’t know. I don’t know if this is enough, you know? Maybe I want my first time to be with someone I’m in an actual relationship with…”

 

“I want that,” said Lily. “But Alice didn’t really mind, right?”

 

Alice was the only one of us who had had sex. She nodded, “for me, just having a good connection with the guy and feeling like he respected me was enough. I have never regretted it, even though he wasn’t my boyfriend. He made me feel great about it, and we did it at my pace, and I enjoyed it, and that was it.”

 

“Well, that’s what I need to figure out. I think of all the guys in the world, James Potter is a pretty good choice for a first time, especially seeing how respectful he is, but I don’t want to rush it,” I said.

 

“That’s wise,” Alice nodded.

 

“So, you didn’t sleep with him, but you were still gone until four am…” Lily said suggestively.

 

“Both our pants stayed on at all times…” I said. Alice giggled.

 

“So, second base?”

 

“Mmmm… second and a half base? Does that exist?” I joked. We all giggled some more. “His body is so yummy, you wouldn’t believe it.”

 

“It’s all the Quidditch they play, Cal is also super-hot,” Lily said.

 

“How is that going?” I asked, glad to shift attention away from me.

 

“Great. I really like him. We’re taking it slow; I mean… I haven’t even gone as far as Jo with him, but he’s super patient. He’s happy to wait for me and that’s super attractive for me,” she explained. She always had a goofy smile when she talked about Cal, I loved it that she was so happy.

 

“I’m super happy for you, Lils,” Alice echoed my thoughts.

 

“Have you thought about, you know, doing it with Cal?” I asked her. She blushed.

 

“It doesn’t feel right yet. I think I’m not ready,” we nodded, this was a big deal, after all.

 

“Make sure you tell us when you change your mind!” Alice giggled.

 

“Don’t you think for a second I’m not going to grill you, too,” I said, sitting up on the bed and looking at Alice. She blushed.

 

“Tell her,” Lily smiled knowingly.

 

“WHAT! I can’t believe you already told Lily without me. The disrespect!” I shouted indignant.

 

“You were passed out cold, Jo,” she pouted.

 

“Fine, go on then, what happened?!”

 

“We kissed,” she beamed.

 

“YES!” I jumped up and fist pumped the air. “Yes, yes, yes! Success! How do you feel?” both Lily and Alice were giggling.

 

“I don’t think I ever want to kiss anyone that is not Remus Lupin ever again,” she whispered. Oh wow. I could feel my eyes going very wide at this confession, and Alice’s blush went from pink to crimson.

 

“That’s a big statement,” Lily said.

 

“I know…” Alice bit her lip. “I think I’m in love with him.”

 

There was a moment of silence while we all processed this. We had been close friends since the first day of our first year at Hogwarts. We wrote to each other all the time during holiday periods and shared a room every single day we’d been at this school. In all that time, no one had said those words yet. Yes, we had discussed ‘liking’ and ‘fancying’ and ‘having a crush’ but none of us had ever been in love. This was a momentous occasion.

 

“That is so… wow, Alice. That’s…”

 

“It’s a bit scary, that’s what it is,” she whispered. “What if he doesn’t feel the same way?”

 

“Have you spoken to him?”

 

“Not really. I mean, we chat all the time, but not about our feelings. Until last night, I wasn’t even sure he fancied me. And then we were kissing, and it was so unlike any kiss I have ever had before, and he was so sweet and I just didn’t want to ruin it so I didn’t say anything.”

 

“Well, I think you need to have a chat with him,” Lily said. I nodded.

 

“I am so scared.”

 

“Alice, if this was someone else, anyone else, I’d probably caution you to choose your words carefully, blah blah. But this is Remus Lupin. He’s the purest soul in the school. Even if he doesn’t feel the same way, which hopefully he does, but even if he didn’t, he would find a way to let you down slowly and gently. He’d never embarrass you or hurt you,” I said.

 

“I think Jo’s right,” Lily agreed. She got along with Remus really well too, of all four, it was the one she was probably closest to.

 

“I know I need to talk to him. I want to talk to him; nothing would make me happier than being in a relationship with him. But it’s scary.”

 

“We know,” I said.

 

“What about you? Are you going to talk to James?”

 

“I have no clue,” I yawned. “Right now, all I can think about is food. I need to eat something.”

 

“Lunch is in an hour, let’s get dressed.”



Chapter 10: The Mandrake Leaf
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James’ POV

 

Three days. It had been three full days since I’d been with Jocelyn in the Room of Requirements and I still hadn’t managed to find the right moment to talk to her alone. And to add fuel to the fire, we had practically spent every waking second together in our little group of seven. I was finding it hard to act normal. Every time she spoke, every time she moved, I had flashbacks to that night. It was deliciously painful. I threw on my Quidditch gear and grabbed my broom.

 

“Padfoot, I’m heading to the pitch. I’m the captain, I can’t be late.”

 

“I’m coming!” he jumped around the room looking for his missing glove. I rolled my eyes.

 

“You live in a permanent state of chaos.”

 

“And you don’t?” I looked at my side of the room and gave him an innocent smile. He had a point.

 

He found his glove and we hurried to practice. We were getting closer to our next match against Hufflepuff and I wanted us to perfect a new strategy I had been working on. Padfoot walked with me in silence. Everyone in the team was waiting for us at the pitch. I immediately looked for Jocelyn only to realise she wasn’t there. This was very much unlike her. She had never missed a practice.

 

“Where’s Jo?” Sirius voiced my thoughts.

 

“Nobody knows, we thought she’d be coming down with you guys,” Cal replied.

 

“She’s never missed a practice before,” said Annie.

 

“She’s never even been late to a practice before.” Matt was right.

 

“I’ll go find her. I can’t really train without her,” said Padfoot. It annoyed me slightly (I was still a bit paranoid) but he was correct. 

 

“Okay, Sirius you go find Jocelyn, the rest of us, we start practice now. Warm up is three laps around the pitch. Come on!”

 

Everyone took off, and I turned to Padfoot quickly. “I think the map’s in my trunk,” he nodded, and ran off back towards the castle.

 

Sirius’ POV

 

The map was, indeed, in Prong’s trunk. I sat on his bed and opened it.

 

“I solemnly swear that I’m up to no good.”

 

I scanned the map carefully and realised with a jolt that Jocelyn was in McGonagall’s office. I knew Minerva loved Quidditch and was positive she would never, ever give a detention to Jocelyn, her star student, let alone one during Quidditch practice. Was Jocelyn in some sort of trouble?

 

I made my way to the transfiguration professor’s office and knocked on the door. I heard McGonagall’s voice from the inside “Come in,” so I did. Jocelyn was sat by the main desk, looking over a pile of parchments.

 

“Hello Professor McGonagall, I’m sorry to interrupt but we were worried about Jocelyn. She’s never missed Quidditch practice before,” she looked up at me with a horrified expression.

 

“Oh no!” she hit her forehead with her hand, “I’m so sorry. I totally lost track of time. I’m coming!” she stood up, putting all the papers neatly back in the pile.

 

“Good work today, Miss Silverway. I’ll see you in 30 days,” McGonagall dismissed us without another word, and we both walked out of the office.

 

“Is everything okay?” I asked Jocelyn as we hurried to Gryffindor Tower.

 

“Yes, yes. I’m sorry I didn’t realise how late it was. James must be fuming!” the fat lady let us in, and she sprinted up the stairs to her room to get changed. I saw a piece of parchment gently sway in the air and land on the floor at the bottom of the staircase.

 

Mandrake leaf 

Hair

Silver teaspoon of dew [note, must be untouched 7 days]

Chrysalis of a Death's-head Hawk Moth

 

I could not believe my eyes. These were the ingredients for the animagus transformation. Was this what McGonagall was working with Jocelyn on? Everyone knew that McGonagall had become an animagi at seventeen, aided by Dumbledore. It was rare that a teacher would offer their tutelage for a student to perform such advanced magic, but not unheard of. I wondered how far along Jo was. If this list was up to date, she had secured the mandrake leaf already. Had she started? That reminded me that it was a full moon tonight. We had to get ready to go with Remus to the Shrieking Shack right after practice.

 

If Jocelyn was going for it this month, she’d had a hard time. I remember when we did it. Both James and Peter messed up the mandrake leaf thing and had to wait a month to do it again. It was really tough.

 

“Let’s go!” Jocelyn ran back down the stairs into the common room and kept jogging to the portrait. I followed her. We ran all the way to the pitch, where the team were well into practice.

 

“Jo, you okay?” James flew down to almost ground level.

 

“I am so sorry, I was working with McGonagall and we lost track of time,” she jumped on her broom. “But we ran all the way from the common room, so we’ve warmed up.”

 

“We’ll schedule a catch-up session for Friday to make up for it, James,” I said. She tilted her head to the side and then nodded.

 

“That seems fair, we’ll do that,” she said. James nodded and we all flew together to join the rest of the team.

 

**

 

Dawn broke, and Moony started the painful transformation back to his usual self. I wasn’t one for sentimentalism, but it broke my heart that he had to go through this every single month. It was fucking unfair. When he was back to normal, he woke up with a gasp and looked around with wild eyes.

 

“You’re alright, we’re alright. It’s over,” Prongs told him. He nodded, still quiet.

 

“You feeling okay? We should probably make our way back,” the worst thing about winter was that dawn was late in the morning, making it an almost impossible feat to sneak back into the castle. If it weren’t for James’ cloak and the map, we wouldn’t have been able to keep it up.

 

“Yeah, Madam Pomfrey will be here any second now,” Moony said. James nodded and transformed back.

 

We ran through the tunnel, across the grounds and to the secret passage we used every morning after a full moon. By the time we made it to our first class of the day, we were exhausted. Thank Merlin it was a Wednesday and we had Charms, easy class. Jocelyn, Lily and Alice were waiting outside the classroom, whispering quietly in that way girls always do when they’re gossiping.

 

“Morning!” Lily was the first to spot us. I saw Alice look for Moony behind us, and the look of disappointment when she realised the he wasn’t coming.

 

“Where’s Remus?” Alice asked. “I didn’t see him last night either.”

 

“He had an accident in the greenhouse yesterday afternoon and Madame Pomfrey wanted to keep him in the infirmary to check all the poison was out of his system,” said Wormtail with conviction. This was exactly why we had appointed him the official spokesperson for Moony’s condition. He came up with the most reasonable and believable excuses, and they were all different every single month, so nobody noticed the pattern.

 

“Oh, I’ll go visit him after Charms, I’ve got a free period.”

 

“He’ll like that,” Wormtail smiled at Alice and she relaxed visibly.

 

“Here,” Jocelyn offered us her bag and I grabbed it quickly. I was starving. It had become a thing, every time we missed breakfast, she stole some food from the Hall and brought it to us. I swear if we could tell her our secrets, she’d be an honorary Marauder.

 

Munching on toast and apples we entered the classroom. “Hey, Black,” Jocelyn hung back a bit.

 

“What?”

 

“Since Remus isn’t here today, and you could really use some help with the Protean Charms, mind if sit with you?” I raised my eyebrow at her.

 

“Excuse me, but I do not need any help with Protean Charms,” I crossed my arms. “Just admit you want a piece of this awesomeness,” I teased.

 

“Yeah, I am desperate to rip your clothes off and there’s no better place than the middle of a Charms lesson,” she grinned. We walked over to the desk I usually shared with Moony and she dropped her bag.

 

“I thought you worked on Charms with Wood,” I whispered as we took out our books.

 

“It’s been super awkward with him since the party on Saturday, and I just don’t feel like enduring two hours of it.”

 

“What? Why?” this made no sense to me.

 

“Ehm… well, James and I… oh, for Merlin’s sake I can’t believe I’m telling you this. Anyway, I left the party with James and Matt didn’t like it. He had asked me out on a date and apparently thought we had something going on. He was well rude about the whole thing, too and he hasn’t apologised to me yet,” she blushed harder than I had ever seen her blush before.

 

I stared at her for a second, trying to fight against the familiar wave of irritation that engulfed me when I thought of her and James together. I was also severely pissed off at Wood. Who the hell did he think he was?

 

“Oh,” was all I managed to say.

 

My thoughts ran wild. They left the party together? Where did they go? I looked over at Prongs, who was oblivious to the internal turmoil I was going through. Had he slept with her? The intense pang of… whatever this was that hit me almost made me double over. It was a good thing I was sat down.

 

I glanced at Jocelyn, who was back to normal and setting up her desk to practice. She was so beautiful, and so, so damn sexy. It was infuriating. How could someone be so alluring yet so completely unaware of it? I watched as she bit her lip, something I’d noticed she did when she was either very focused or nervous, and read through the instructions for today’s new spell. She had to search her bag again for a spare parchment and her hair fell all over her as she reached down. It was like a dark chocolate fountain, silky and smooth. There was so much of it. I gripped the desk hard to stop myself from reaching out and touching it.

 

“Are you ready?” she asked, putting her parchment on the desk and flicking her hair back to look at me.

 

“I was born ready,” I replied. I had to keep my cool, I had to keep my cool, I had to keep my cool.

 

The next two hours were as close to torture as I had ever been. I didn’t know what was worse, the fact that everything Jocelyn did seemed to send my hormones into overdrive or the fact that she had absolutely no clue about it.

 

Jocelyn’s POV

 

I should have probably thought this thing through before I decided to start with it three days after the best make out session of my life. I was eager to become an animagus, and I didn’t want to wait any longer than necessary but holding a mandrake leaf in my mouth for an entire month meant I had to stay as far away from James as possible. Kissing was absolutely out of the question until the next full moon. McGonagall hadn’t told me explicitly that it was a secret, but it was kind of obvious that I wasn’t supposed to tell people about it. Teachers didn’t usually take students under tutelage for such extensive and complicated trainings. If rumours were true, McGonagall herself had been the last student to have such privilege, and it had been during her seventh year, not her sixth.  

 

I had no idea what I was going to do if James and I found ourselves alone, so I had resorted to avoiding it at all costs so I didn’t have to find out. A week in, I could tell he was growing increasingly irritated, but he was too much of a gentleman to say it. Unfortunately for me, Matt had been right that other people would want to ask me out, and that had not helped me avoid drawing attention to my leafy situation. A grand total of six guys had asked me out on dates or broom rides in the space of two weeks. I had only agreed to one, because Kenneth Winger rivaled with James and Sirius for the best-looking guy in school spot and he had never asked a girl from a lower year out before.

 

We had spent a very pleasant afternoon flying around Hogwarts grounds. He had even asked me to teach him some of my moves, which I did because he wasn’t on any Quidditch team. He had given me a sweet peck on the lips, promising more (if I wanted it) after a couple of dates. He told me he believed in proper romance, and I liked that. Nobody knew I had agreed to a second date (or even that I’d gone on a first one) with him except for Lily and Alice. They thought I was the luckiest witch alive with both James Potter and Kenneth Winger competing (inadvertently) for my affection.

 

Matt had finally apologized after a Quidditch practice, mostly because he was making it awkward and the entire team had caught on. I’d told him we could be friends but he basically had zero chance of anything ever happening between us. He’d taken it a lot more maturely, probably because he was stone cold sober.

 

My leafy situation also made Quidditch practice hard. I had to be super careful not to accidentally chew or swallow the leaf, and that was not an easy feat when furious bludgers were sent my way. Beater practice with Sirius was, however, surprisingly easy. He came up with things to try that didn’t involve strength, so the risk of accidentally crushing the leaf in my mouth was reduced. I was glad he was so keen on agility over strength; he was really helping me even if he didn’t know it. Luckily, the full moon had been at the end of January, so this bloody thing would be over before our game with Hufflepuff, which was scheduled for the first weekend in March. I had two more weeks to go, I could do this.

 

Aside from my little animagus prep work, life at Hogwarts kept going as usual. Or, should I say, better than usual for some people. Alice was over the moon. She had finally built up the courage to speak to Remus and, as it turned out, he was head over heels for her, too. So, they were now official. I was super happy for them. However, it did mean that my two closest friends were now coupled up and I was not only single but forced to avoid the person I thought I might want to couple up with. Wonderful. I wished the full moon hurried up so I could spit this leaf out.

 

“Jocelyn!” I halted and waited for Kenneth to catch up. I was on my way to the library to work on a potions assignment that Saturday morning. I had been out for a run and was feeling energized, exactly what I needed to get through the tedious research we had been given.

 

“Hi Ken.”

 

“Heading to the Library?”

 

“Yes, we’ve got a huge potions essay to write for Tuesday, and I haven’t started it yet.”

 

“I’ll walk you.”

 

“Thanks. What are you up to?”

 

“I have a meeting with the head of my house in a bit to discuss career options,” he said, casually.

 

“Do you know what you want to do?” I asked him.

 

“I always thought I wanted to work for the Ministry, something like foreign affairs. But now… I think maybe trying auror training is the right thing to do.”

 

“You mean because some people have gone missing?”

 

“Yeah. There’s rumours that something bad is brewing. Some people believe a dark wizard might be rising.”

 

“What, like another Grindewald?” if what Ken was telling me was true, this was some serious stuff. We hadn’t had a threat like Grindewald’s in a long time.

 

“Yeah, that’s the rumour anyway. Nobody knows what’s going on for sure. It could be nothing.”

 

“I think it’s very noble you want to try being an auror, but I also think you should follow your heart. Do what you want to do, there’ll always be ways of helping and giving back,” I said. We had arrived at the library now, so I turned to him before entering.

 

“Thanks Jocelyn. Anyway, you still on for Wednesday?”

 

“Yes, I’ll meet you by the Quidditch pitch at five,” he smiled and with a wave of his hand, walked away.

 

**

 

I came back to the common room a lot later than I had planned to. Ken and I had had another brilliant ‘date’. I had a hard time seeing this as a romantic situation when all we did was fly around and practice pirouettes, which was probably why I had agreed to a third one. I had realised that I wasn’t really interested in exploring the possibility of getting romantically involved with anyone that wasn’t James. It was getting more and more difficult every day to stay away from him. I spent half of my time thinking about him. I knew I had to come clean to Ken and explain to him that this just wasn’t going to work, but both Alice and Lily insisted that James could do with a bit of healthy competition. The problem with that was that James needed to know he had competition in order for their theory to be valid, and he still didn’t.

 

“Hey, Josie,” crap. Crap, crap, crap. What was he doing in the common room at this hour?

 

“James,” I squeaked.

 

“What have you been up to?” he asked casually. He waved me over to the sofa. I sat down next to him.

 

“Oh, just flying for a bit.”

 

“With Kenneth Winger?” shit. Shit, shit, shit. How did he know that?

 

“Mmm… yeah…” I bit my lip, looking everywhere but at James.

 

“Is there something you’d like to tell me?” he asked. I wanted to strangle him. Why was he doing this to me?

 

“There’s nothing going on with Ken, if that’s what you’re worried about, but I thought... well, I... never mind. It's nothing serious, just a couple of flying lessons,” I said, looking at the floor.

 

“It’s cool if there is, I just want to know. We haven’t really talked about… well, about ‘us’ so you are free to do what you want. But, I’d like to know, that’s all,” he looked slightly deflated, like his ego was hurt. This was interesting. I hadn't considered that James might actually care. Like me, yes. Care about me, I hadn't even thought about it.

 

I suddenly felt extremely guilty and extremely foolish. This wasn't what I wanted. I did not date multiple people at the same time. It was wrong. And, with the things that James' sheepish look was doing to my stomach, I knew who I wanted to focus on.

 

“James, I am not seeing Ken. He asked me out for a broom ride I said yes, we had fun, so we went again.”

 

“Jo, you are either the most naïve person in the world or you think I’m stupid,” he gave me a pointed look.

 

“I do not think you stupid. You are one of the smartest people I know. And I’m not naïve, I know Ken’s interested but nothing has happened, and nothing is going to happen,” I sighed. “If anything did happen, however, I would tell you.”

 

“Do you want that?”

 

“What? To be with Ken?” he nodded. “No, no I don’t.”

 

“Why have you been avoiding me, then?”

 

“I haven’t been avoiding you…” he raised an eyebrow at me. “Well… maybe a little bit?” I held my fingers in the air making a ‘tiny’ gesture with my thumb and index finger.

 

“Why?”

 

“I’m a bit overwhelmed. With the N.E.W.T.s, our homework levels have skyrocketed, and add to that Quidditch practice, and my extra work with McGonagall… well, I just feel I haven’t had any time to myself lately. I just sometimes like to be on my own, so I’ve tried to take as much time as I could back,” all of this was true, except I felt absolutely no need to be away from James at all. I would have happily given up all my ‘me’ time to spend it with him, if it wasn’t for the fact I had to hold a freaking mandrake leaf in my mouth for an entire month.

 

“Ah, well, you could have just told me, you know? If you need space you can just ask for it,” he said, capturing a lock of hair that had escaped my bun with his fingers.

 

“I’m sorry,” I said. I was acutely aware of the building tension, and needed to make an exit immediately if I didn’t want to have to start over the whole leaf thing.

 

“There’s a Hogsmeade visit two weeks from now, the weekend before our game against Hufflepuff, and I would like to take you out on a proper date. What do you say?” my mouth dropped unattractively. I was so not expecting that, but the minute he asked, I knew it was exactly what I had been hoping for even though I didn’t know it.

 

“Yes. I say yes, James,” I smiled at him and gave him a super quick peck on the lips, standing up immediately after. He protested mildly. “If you’re going to take me out on a date, then you’ll have to wait until then.”

 

“You should have told me this before I asked you out, I would have come up with something way sooner than Hogsmeade,” he complained. I chuckled.

 

“Good night, James.”

 

“Good night, Jo.”

 

**

 

The full moon was tonight. Finally. I thought it was never going to arrive. Everything was ready, I was ready. I had not failed a single sunrise or sundown to do the incantation and the mandrake leaf was still safely in my mouth. I just had to make it through one more day and pray to Merlin it wouldn’t be cloudy that night. This had been the longest and most difficult month of my entire life. Keeping it a secret from Lily and Alice had been one of the hardest parts and not just because I wasn’t used to lying to them, but because it is hard work to hide before sunrise so I could do the incantation before them knowing, and again at sundown to repeat the process.

 

Lily knew I was up to something, and I’d caught her eyeing me suspiciously a few times, but I didn’t want to tell them until I had achieved the transformation. For some strange reason, I felt that I had to do this completely alone. McGonagall didn’t count.

 

What was even stranger was that I had also caught Sirius staring a few times. Every time it happened, I thought to ask him what it was about, but I was so busy I always forgot to do it.

 

It was Wednesday, which meant we had Charms first thing in the morning. But first, breakfast.

 

“I am so tired,” Alice complained as we walked towards the Great Hall.

 

“If you hadn’t stayed up with Remus until midnight, you wouldn’t be,” Lily and I said in unison. She blushed.

 

“Well, he is busy tonight, so I’ll get to sleep.”

 

“What’s he up to tonight?” I asked, curious.

 

“Some prank with the boys,” Alice shrugged. We sat at the Gryffindor table and poured some coffee. Alice filled her mug up to the brim.

 

“Good morning!” Peter greeted us loudly.

 

“How do you have so much energy so early in the morning?” Alice groaned.

 

“I just do,” Peter smiled and sat next to Lily, who was chopping fruit and mixing it with yogurt.

 

“Hello,” I jumped a little on my seat when James whispered in my ear. How had he got here?

 

“Hi,” I said and shuffled down the bench so he could sit next to me. Sirius sat on the other side of me, despite the fact that there was clearly not enough space for us three. This had become one of many annoying habits of them. Everywhere I went, Sirius seemed to materialize to my left and James to my right. I wouldn’t have minded if it wasn’t for the murderous looks I got from the general female population of the school on a daily basis.

 

“Erhm… guys, I am a bit squished here.”

 

“Do you know how many girls would kill for a Sirius and James sandwich?” said Sirius. I looked at him, incredulous.

 

“A lot, apparently,” I heard Lily. I looked at her over the table in shock. Traitor.

 

“What?”

 

“I heard Iris talking about exactly that a couple of days ago outside the library,” she said matter-of-factly.

 

“Excuse me?” how irritating was this Iris idiot? Since the party a few weeks ago, she’d hooked up with Sirius at least three times that I knew off. I really didn’t like her, she distracted him and had made him late for our beaters practice once.

 

“Do tell!” Black was beaming, clearly very pleased with this information. James was trying really hard to not let it show that he also thought this was some great news. Ugh.

 

“Not much to tell, other than apparently a lot of girls have weird sexual fantasies involving you two together,” she said. I choked on my coffee.

 

“Together, together?” I had to ask. Both Sirius and James looked at me with interest.

 

“They didn’t specify, so I don’t know,” Lily shrugged. I could tell she found this hilarious underneath the cool facade.

 

“What do you think, though?” Black asked her. She seemed totally unfazed by this conversation, whilst I was struggling hard to not hyperventilate. I did not like how much I was liking the images my mind was conjuring.

 

“I think together as in, you know, doing stuff with both of you, not you together with each other,” she said, simply. James made a strangled noise.

 

“Why would anyone think of us together with each other?” he looked horrified.

 

“I’ll have you know I am so irresistible even men fall at my feet,” Sirius boasted. I laughed.

 

“You’re practically my brother, it’d be like incest,” James pointed out. Sirius nodded solemnly at that.

 

“I don’t think anyone thinks of you and him together, James. More like, at the same time, like Lily said,” Alice chimed in. Remus gave her a funny look. “I don’t,” she quickly said.

 

“And you? What do you think, Jocelyn?” Black irritated me at least a few times a week, sometimes to the point I yelled at him and he yelled back, but it had been a long while since I wanted to outright murder him like I did that moment.

 

I didn’t know what to say. If I refused to answer, it would be suspicious. Against my better judgement, I did think of him that way a lot more than I was willing to admit to anyone, even myself. I could lie and say that only thought of James but that was super corny and just not something I wanted to say out loud to everyone. It was also not true. I opted for the best middle ground: a joke.

 

“I’m the only lucky girl in the entire school who is often in a Sirius and James sandwich, so I don’t need to wonder, I know,” I said casually. “I don’t see what all the fuss is about.”

 

That had Remus, Peter, Lily and Alice in stitches. James and Sirius both were looking at me with completely different but very odd expressions on their faces. I shrugged and finished my coffee.

 

“We’re going to be late.” I stood up, not without difficulty given I had very little space to move, and gestured for everyone to hurry up.

 

That Wednesday was one of the longest days ever. Every minute seemed to take forever, but, eventually, the sun set. I told the girls I had extra work with McGonagall that evening and left. I knocked on her door and she invited me in.

 

“Are you ready, miss Silverway?”

 

“I am/”

 

“Has everything gone to plan?”

 

“Yes, I’ve kept the leaf without incident and I have done the incantation every sunrise and sunset without fail. I also have the ingredients ready, minus the one you offered to get for me,” I took out the vial with the items in it and showed it to her.

 

“Excellent. You must now go outside and position yourself somewhere the moonlight hits directly and spit out the leaf into this phial. The moon rays must be shinning on the phial, or it won’t work,” she explained. I nodded. We had gone over this a million times. “Then, you put the ingredients you have in your vial into the phial and take it to a quiet, dark place. That cabinet over there will serve. I’ll leave the door enchanted so it opens for you. I won’t be here, for you must be undisturbed.”

 

“I got it,” I nodded with confidence.

 

“Wonderful. If all goes well tonight, you’ll be very close to achieving your transformation,” she said. “Do you have any idea what animal you think you might turn into?”

 

This was the only thing we had never discussed. McGonagall always said there was no point, because it wasn’t up to us. I was surprised she asked me, but answered truthfully.

 

“I have never casted a patronus, so no, I have no idea.”

 

“It’ll be interesting to see,” she said. I nodded again.

 

“Good luck,” she wished me. I took the vial in which she had put the final ingredient, the phial for the potion, her note that I was allowed to be out past curfew (in case I ran into a patrol coming back) and my wand. 

 

“Miss Silverway!” I turned around as McGonagall poked her head out of her office.

 

“Yes?”

 

“I recommend you go towards the greenhouses,” she said. I nodded.

 

Following her advice, I made my way to the back of the castle and prepared. When the moon reached its highest point, I made sure to be standing with the phial up and fully illuminated by the silver rays and, finally, spit the mandrake leaf out. I proceeded to mix the other ingredients into the phial and, once successfully secured and closed, hurried back to the castle as fast as my feet would carry me. I made to McGonagall’s office without difficulty and placed the precious phial in the cabinet she had prepared for me.

 

When I shut the door behind me, I felt incredibly happy and proud of myself. The hardest part was over, and I was confident I’d done a good job. I decided to take the route through the bridge back to the Gryffindor Tower to have a last look at the full moon that I was sure would grant me my animagus transformation. It was such a clear and beautiful night that I took a moment to just stand there by one of the archways and look over the grounds.

 

A terrifying shriek, followed by a wolf’s howl shook me to my core. I saw three figures moving in the distance by the edge of the Forbidden Forest and decided that I had had enough of the grounds. Merlin only knew what creatures were out and about in the forest tonight, and I didn’t want to find out. Not even from my very safe spot high above the grounds.



Chapter 11: Amato Animo Animato Animagus
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Jocelyn’s POV

 

Despite how little I had slept, I was full of energy the following morning. I woke up way too early, so decided to go for a quick run. It was so cold the ground was hard and frozen, which was much nicer than wet and muddy so long as I didn’t slip on an ice patch. I began my run exactly at sunrise and I had been at it for about twenty minutes when I circled around the castle and almost had a heart attack. James, looking disheveled and dirty, was carrying a semi-unconscious Sirius. He appeared to be bleeding profusely.

 

“Oh my God! What happened James?” I asked. He hadn’t seen me until I spoke and looked absolutely horrified at the sight of me.

 

“Jocelyn” I didn’t give him time to ask any stupid questions. It was obvious Sirius was injured and in pain and I could not bear it.

 

“We’ll talk later, we need to get Sirius to the infirmary, right now” I said, hurrying over to them and helping James carry him.

 

“Jo?” Sirius said, weakly.

 

“Hey, you’ll be okay. Hang on, yes? I got you” I told him. He smiled but it quickly turned into a grimace of pain. I tried to move back in the direction I had come, but James shook his head.

 

“We’re not going to make it if we go that way” he said. “I trust you to keep this a secret” he moved forward towards a rock formation that rested against one of the castle walls and took out his wand. With a few taps, a passage opened for us.

 

“Where does it lead to?”

 

“Almost all the way to the Infirmary” I nodded and we started making our way through the passage, which had closed itself behind us.

 

I could feel Sirius trying really hard to help us, and failing miserably. His breathing was very shallow, and he was sweating despite the fact that the passage was freezing. He was heavy, and I couldn’t help but marvel at James’ strength. I had no idea how long he’d carried him for on his own, but it had not been easy. I thanked Merlin for the fact that, despite my small and slim frame, I was much, much stronger than I looked or I would have been completely useless.

 

“Wait here a second, I need to check there’s no one on the corridor” James whispered when we finally made it to the end of the passage. I nodded. He gently helped Sirius lean on me fully and dashed forward.

 

“We’re almost there Sirius, it’s only a little bit further away” I wasn’t sure what to tell him. He was getting paler by the minute, and I was getting desperate. I would have done anything, given anything to take his pain away, but I couldn’t.

 

“You…” he tried.

 

“Don’t, don’t speak. You can tell me when you’re better”


“You called me Sirius” he whispered, lifting his eyes to mine and smiling weakly. I felt my breath catch. There were about a million things he should be thinking about right now, and I was pretty sure that wasn’t one of them. Once again, I was trapped in his eyes, unable to look away, unable to say a word.

 

“Right, the coast is clear. Come on, let’s get you to Poppy” James came back and helped me carry Sirius again.

 

We burst into the infirmary shouting ‘help, Madame Pomfrey, quickly, please’, which seemed to do the trick. She took one look at Sirius and ushered us to the nearest bed, helping by levitating him onto it with her wand.

 

“Off, off with you. I need space to work!” she kicked us out and closed the curtains. James and I stood there awkwardly.

 

“Do you think he’s going to be okay?” he asked me. I looked at him and my heart broke for him. There was a look of pure terror on his face, and I realized he’d been keeping himself in check for the sake of his friend.

 

“Madame Pomfrey can cure anything, he’ll be fine” I took his hand in mine and squeezed it reassuringly. James nodded. “You should get changed, you’re covered in dirt and… well, blood” I told him gently.

 

“So are you” he replied. I look at myself and found that he was right. “Okay, come with me back to the Gryffindor Tower. We can change and be back here in less than half an hour. I bet you Sirius will be fine by then”

 

So that’s what we did. I did not let go of James’ hand as we made our way back to the common room. It was deserted. Most people were either at breakfast or on their way to the first classes of the day already. I showered faster than I had ever done before, and threw on whatever clothes I found under my robes. I found James in the common room waiting for me looking pale and anxious. I took his hand and led him out without a word. There was nothing to say, we were both worried sick about Sirius and the sooner we got back to him, the better.

 

Dumbledore was in the infirmary when we walked back in. James looked like he was debating whether to talk to the Headmaster or ignore him and try to get closer to Sirius’ bed.

 

“Talk to Dumbledore, I’ll look after Sirius” I whispered to him. He looked like he’d rather go to Sirius himself, but I couldn’t talk to Dumbledore. I had no idea what had happened, so he nodded after a moment.

 

“Mr Potter, a word” Dumbledore led him a few feet away, and I moved the curtains surrounding Sirius’ bed aside.

 

He was asleep. He looked a bit less pale than before. I stood next to the bed, unsure of what to do. My hand brushed his and I hesitated whether to go for it and hold it or not, but Sirius’ hand reached up and held on to me.

 

“I thought you were asleep” I said. He opened his eyes slowly, a lazy grin forming on his lips.

 

“I wasn’t sure if I was dreaming” woah, whatever Madame Pomfrey had given him for the pain was strong stuff.

 

“How are you feeling?”

 

“I’ll live”

 

“Only just” I sighed and shook my head. “What the hell happened Sirius? You scared me to death”

 

“It was an accident” he said.

 

“I most certainly hope so. I would like to trust you not to be so stupid that you’d do something like this on purpose”

 

“You really do have a high opinion of me”

 

“You’ve been known to take a stupid risk here and there” I said. He shuffled to the side in his bed and motioned to the small space now available. I sat on it, pulling the sheet a little bit with my weight. I couldn’t stop the small gasp that escaped my lips.

 

His chest, now on display, was covered in angry red slashes. I could see a nasty bruise forming on his right shoulder, and a bloodied bandage on his left arm.

 

“Hey, don’t worry, I’m fine. Just waiting for the potion Poppy gave me to take care of these, then I’ll be good to go. It just takes a while” he said, squeezing my hand gently.

 

“What did you do, Sirius?” I felt like I would start crying any second. I was finding it hard to breathe. The sight of his wounds was undoing me, making me feel things I didn’t even know how to name. I feel an overwhelming need to nurse him back to health, to look after him and to make sure nothing like this ever happened to him again. It was devastating.

 

“I was stupid. James and I wanted to explore the forest for a bit” he said, looking guilty. I felt a chill run down my spine as the shriek and howl I heard last night rang in my head.

 

“Something was wreaking havoc at the edge of the forest last night” I whispered.

 

“What?” he tried to sit up but decided against it when one of his cuts started bleeding lightly.

 

“I heard it. I was coming back to the common room late, I’d been working with McGonagall and lost track of time again. I took the long route, the one through the outdoor bridge, to enjoy a bit of fresh air on the way back and I heard it. It was terrifying”

 

“Yeah, tell me about it” he relaxed.

 

James shoved the curtain aside that moment. He rushed over to Sirius and ran a hand through his hair. Peter was with him. I hadn’t even heard him arrive at the infirmary.

 

“You okay?”

 

“Yeah” Sirius nodded. James breathed.

 

“Hey, I got you these” Peter who had arrived at some point without me noticing handed Sirius a chocolate frog and he smiled widely, biting into it with gusto.

 

“Where’s Remus?”

 

“He’s… uhm… he’s gone to see Alice” said Peter awkwardly. Sirius looked like he was going to say something else, but James gave him a pointed look and he dropped it. I wanted to know but I also knew to respect people’s privacy, so I pretended I hadn’t noticed it.

 

We spent the day with Sirius in the infirmary whilst the potion he had been given worked on his wounds. Miraculously, by dinner he was good as new. He left with stern warnings from Madame Pomfrey to be more careful and for Sirius to get extra sleep that night.

 

**

 

I walked into my room feeling exhausted and thinking of calling it an early night. James has cancelled Quidditch practice, rescheduling it for Sunday instead and, even though I wasn’t keen on a weekend session I was glad I didn’t have to endure training that day. Unfortunately, as soon as I opened the door it became clear that my early night and beauty sleep weren’t going to happen. Alice was in bits, crying hysterically on her bed, and Lily was trying to comfort her and find out what happened at the same time.

 

“Alice! Alice, what happened?” I rushed to her side. She was sobbing uncontrollably.

 

“I… R… Re… I…”

 

“She’s been like this since I found her half an hour ago” Lily whispered to me.

 

“Alice, look at me. Look at me!” I said firmly. Slowly, she lifted her face and our blue eyes met.

 

“Remus…” she said before dissolving into tears again.

 

“I AM GOING TO KILL THE BASTARD!” I yelled, outraged. “What did he do?!”

 

“Remus? What happened Alice? Things were going so well” Lily said at the same time. She had a lot more faith in people in general than I did.

 

“He… he broke… up” she hiccupped and kept crying.

 

“Why?” I shot Lily a look but she shook her head. This was totally unexpected.

 

“But I thought…” oh. Oh no. The little moment in the infirmary this morning played itself in my head again and I had a horrible suspicion that the boys knew this has going to happen.

 

“Excuse me” I said, storming out of our room. I raced down the staircase and up the boys’ as fast as I could. I should have knocked on the door, I really, really should have, but I was furious so I didn’t.

 

Their room looked like a nuclear bomb had gone off right in the middle of it. It was chaos like I had never seen before. And it was also empty. I groaned in frustration and kicked the nearest trunk, sending it sliding a few feet away.

 

“Woah, someone’s in a mood”

 

I twirled towards the voice, getting ready to shout at him and demand an explanation or, at the very least, directions to where Remus was hiding but all thoughts of pretty much everything escaped me when I saw Sirius standing by the door that led to the bathroom with a towel hanging loosely from his hips. His hair was wet and it fell around his face, framing it perfectly. A few drops of water were still on his torso, catching the light in a very distracting way.

 

I noticed he was walking towards me and began to panic. I was not prepared to deal with a pretty much naked Sirius Black, especially not after the hurricane of emotions that his near-death experience had awakened in me.

 

I took an unsure step back and caught my foot on a discarded robe, losing my balance.

 

“Careful” Sirius’ reflexes were excellent, and he caught my arm halting my fall and pulling me up, but he did so with more strength than needed, sending my tumbling against his chest instead.

 

I was petrified. It felt as if I was experiencing it all in slow motion. I crashed against his perfect torso, and he lost his balance. He both fell backwards onto the pile of clothes on the floor. My face landed inches away from his and my left hand was splayed across his chest. My right arm was awkwardly crushed between my stomach and his, and I was firmly held in place by his arm around my waist. A strange but very intense wave of desire washed over me. I felt his breath catch, and wondered, for a split second, what would happen if I kissed him.

 

The moment was short lived, and I realised with horror that I had thought about kissing the best friend of the guy I was seeing. That was just wrong. That was really, really, not like me at all. Besides, Sirius was my friend, my fellow beater and I absolutely did not want to kiss him. Did I? Maybe I did, a little bit… but then again so did every girl in the world. Clumsily, I scrambled to my feet as fast as I could.

 

“Sorry” I said.

 

“Anytime” he muttered. I could tell he was bothered, and a rebellious and very small part of me started having a mini victory party at the thought that I could make Sirius Black lose his cool even if for a little bit. I had to crush that part as soon as possible.

 

“Right, well, I was looking for Remus” I said, regaining some composure.

 

“He’s busy”

 

“I don’t care if he’s having tea with the Queen of England. Where is he?”

 

“He’s with James and Peter, they are busy” Sirius picked up a t-shirt and pulled it over his head. That small part of me wanted to protest but I focused hard on my anger towards Remus instead.

 

“He hurt Alice, I am going to hurt him”

 

“That’s not really persuading me to tell you where he is, you know” he smirked.

 

“You knew this was going to happen. You knew, in the infirmary this morning when Peter said he’d gone to see her. You didn’t warn me, you didn’t warn her! She doesn’t deserve this” I yelled at him.

 

“Remus will get over this. They’ll sort it out” he said.

 

“What the fuck? Do you think this is normal? First it took him months to make a move despite the fact that it was obvious they both fancied each other, and now a month after they get together he breaks up with her for no apparent reason... and all you have to say is ‘he’ll get over it’?” I was absolutely raging. This was my best friend’s feelings they were toying with.

 

“You lot are disgusting” I spat, ripping the door open and slamming it behind me. Sirius didn’t follow.

 

The next day would go down as one of the most awkward days of my Hogwarts years. We all woke up early and gave Alice a pep talk, and convinced her to do her make up with extra care. I refused to let anyone, including Remus, know she’d been crying all night. Lily and I took it upon ourselves to keep her protected from everything and everyone, so we positioned ourselves to either side of her as we left the room. In our little formation, we made it to the Great Hall for breakfast. We saw all four boys look up when we arrived.

 

“Let’s sit with Cal” I suggested. Lily nodded. Alice wasn’t really doing or saying much today, but that was okay.

 

I could feel Sirius and James’ gaze on us as we sat with Cal and his friends, which included Matt, for the first time since November but I refused to look their way. Matt was about to say something to me when he looked behind me with a slight frown. I took a deep breath, expecting it to be Sirius or James, and turned.

 

“Hey” it was Ken. Phew.

 

“Hi Ken”

 

“Mind if I sit here for a second?” he asked.

 

“Sure” I scuttled over and he sat. Some people gave him a funny look – Ravenclaws at the Gryffindor table? – but nobody said anything.

 

Possessed by a stupid idea that I wanted to get back at the boys, I shamelessly batted my eyelashes at him and flicked my hair back. He smiled appreciatively and I even managed to blush lightly at will. I was getting really good at this flirting thing.

 

“So, do you have plans for Hogsmeade tomorrow?” he asked me. I bit my lip in what I hoped was a seductive way and was about to answer when Matt scoffed. Both Ken and I looked at him.

 

“What’s that for?” Ken was not one to mess around.

 

“You don’t want to go there, mate. She’s with Potter” he said. Oh, for Merlin’s sake.

 

“Are you, like, official with him?” Ken asked me.

 

“No, I am not. We are kind of seeing each other, though” I said. Ken hadn’t asked me before, so I hadn’t felt the need to tell him, but I wasn’t going to lie to him.

 

“I don’t mind a bit of competition” he said, shrugging. Matt rolled his eyes.

 

“Mate, Potter will hex you into the next century”

 

“For your information, Matt, James knows I’ve been out with Ken a few times,” I snarled. It really bugged me that he was making me out to be a lying player.

 

“He does?”

 

“He does.” Apparently, he had nothing to say to that, so he shut up and looked away.

 

I turned to Ken. “It’s very sweet of you to ask me out, but James and I…” I hesitated.

 

I hadn’t even thought about this. James hadn’t done anything wrong per se, but I was sure he knew Remus was going to hurt Alice and he hadn’t told us. Did I still want to go out on a date with him? Yes, yes I did. Should I still go out on a date with him? I had no idea. What did girl code say about this?

 

“You have a date with him” Ken wasn’t a Ravenclaw for nothing.

 

“I do” I sighed. “We’re in a bit of a situation right now, but we haven’t cancelled the date, so…”

 

“Well, let me know if you cancel it. I’m going with some friends, so let me know if you want to grab a drink at any point,” he smiled and stood up. I smiled at him.

 

As he walked away, I caught a glimpse of James’ angry face. He was furiously whispering with his friends, glancing my way every few words. Remus looked miserable. Good, he deserved it. I couldn’t see Sirius’ face from where I was sat, but his knuckles were white and he was gripping his fork with what I was sure was excessive force.

 

We left the Hall and headed to potions. What a way to end the week. This year, we hadn’t had any major incidents so far and us girls always worked together. Lily was absolutely outstanding at potions, and Alice, wanting to be a beautician, was very skilled as well. I was partial to the subject, only taking it and working hard on it because it was needed to become an auror.

 

**

 

I left Alice and Lily safely barricaded in our room with lots of chocolate, tissue and girly magazines and headed to Quidditch practice. I was now deeply regretting telling James it was okay to re-schedule for a Friday after Sirius’ accident, but I couldn’t change it now. We had not spoken to the boys all day but there had been about a million furiously awkward glances from both sides. I was still firmly stubborn in my feeling that they were all scum for not giving Alice ample warning. In my eyes, though, Remus was the King of the Despicables because he’d broken her heart after dating for such a short amount of time. What bothered me most, though, was that his reasons sounded a lot like excuses.

 

Practice that day wasn’t great. I realized that it wasn’t just that I was angry at them. Sirius was absolutely furious at me that I had called him disgusting the night before and James was either sharing the sentiment, or pissed off that I’d been flirting with Ken during breakfast. Most likely, I thought, it was both. If I learnt one thing that practice was that making your captain, who was in charge of your training, jealous was a terrible, terrible idea. My lungs were on fire and my arms were cramping badly but I refused to give up. Sirius, who was enjoying this with a smirk on his face, kept sending bludger after bludger at me whilst I ran laps around the pitch. According to our captain, I had to get better at smashing balls whilst under pressure, and this was his way of ‘helping’ me. To make things even better, it had started to rain heavily halfway through practice.

 

“You know, if she passes out you’ll have a lot of explaining to do” I heard Cal say as I ran past the benches. Everyone else had finished training already and was putting the equipment away.

 

“One more lap, then you’re done!” James shouted at me. I had to grip the bat twice as hard to stop myself from giving him the middle finger. I gritted my teeth and kept running, focusing on my breath. Battling the elements as well as my own exertion out of pure stubbornness, I kept going. Sirius hit a bludger with all his strength and I saw it hurtle towards me. ‘One more, you only have to hit one more’ I told myself. I lifted the bat, ignoring the burn in my muscles, and smashed it with all I had. Picturing Sirius’ face on it helped.

 

When I finally reached the benches, the team was gone and it was just James and Sirius there, putting the bludgers back in their box. Without a word, I marched into the changing room menacingly swinging my bat at my side. Just as I was about to push the door, lightning struck. I found it all very ominous.

 

**

 

Sirius’ POV

 

I wanted to feel bad for her, but her face was hilarious as she ran lap after lap. She was so stubborn and proud she’d rather run herself into the ground than give up. I was also secretly enjoying that James was punishing her for shamelessly flirting with Winger. It had annoyed me she’d done that to James. She shouldn’t be flirting with people.

 

We had pranked Winger as well earlier that day, I hoped he still hadn’t figured out how to get his overgrown eyebrows back to normal. Not that Jo needed to know any of this. As far as everyone knew, it had been an accident.

 

“You know, if she passes out, you’ll have a lot of explaining to do” Cal said, bringing me out of my memory of Winger’s face of despair as his facial hair grew uncontrollably.

 

Annie nodded, giving James a look that said ‘whatever is going on, leave it out of team practice’. Prongs sighed and shouted at Jocelyn to let her know this was her last lap. She didn’t even look his way.

 

Now that the fun was over, I was eager to get back into the castle. It was raining cats and dogs, and I was cold and uncomfortable. Jocelyn strode past us without a word and headed to the changing rooms, leaving us to deal with the bludgers on our own. I couldn’t really blame her. It was a miracle she was still standing.

 

Just then, lightning struck. I had been watching Jocelyn all of last month and was pretty sure she had been doing the mandrake leaf thing. It was obvious if you knew what you were looking for: she ate a lot less than usual, avoided James at all costs and struggled with anything that would normally make anyone grit their teeth. I glanced towards the changing room and saw she was just standing there in the rain, staring at the sky instead of going in. As a second ray of lightning crossed the sky and she set her face with a determined look before dashing inside I knew I had been right. She was lucky that a storm had come this quick. When I did it, I had to wait a full two weeks.

 

I hurried to help Prongs with the boxes and we walked into the changing room after her. As soon as we walked in James looked around, and I knew by the face he made that she’d already left. I made a shit excuse about meeting Iris and left too.

 

I used every bit of Hogwarts knowledge I had acquired during our marauding years to make it to our room in record time through a combination of hidden passages and staircases. The map was on Moony’s bedside table. He’d been stalking Alice on it like a creep all day. I grabbed it, and Prongs’ cloak and ran back into one of the secret passages before examining it. I spotted Jocelyn leaving McGonagall’s office in a hurry by the speed at which her dot was moving. She was headed to the dungeons. I guessed it made sense, she needed a large and secure place to attempt her transformation. Safely hidden under the invisibility cloak, I went after her. I wasn’t sure why I was so curious about this, but I was.

 

I reached the dungeons before she did, so I waited for her next to an ugly gargoyle statue. I had to suppress a chuckle when I saw she hadn’t even bothered to change out her wet Quidditch gear. She looked around furtively to ensure nobody had noticed her and took out a key I guessed McGonagall had given her. She opened the door to an empty classroom and slipped inside. In one my proudest ninja moments, I managed to follow her inside without her noticing me.

 

She was shaking slightly, and I was reminded of my own attempt last year. I had been just as, if not more nervous. She stood in the middle of the room, wand in one hand and phial of potion in the other.

 

“Amato animo Animato Animagus” she said, firmly and clearly, before swallowing the potion.

 

I held my breath. For a second, nothing happened, then her eyes went very wide and she dropped her wand. I remembered how frightening and painful the first transformation is, I had to bite my tongue and curl my hands into fists to stop myself from going to her. If she panicked, things could go very, very wrong. I watched as her face contorted in suffering and her body started changing. I had been wondering what Jocelyn’s animal would be since I found her note with the potion ingredients. I was not expecting her to be a dog. I was sure she’d be something mysterious and elegant, a jaguar or a panther, perhaps. Maybe a cat, like McGonagall was. A part of me had been mildly worried she’d be a doe; James would see that as a sign from the heavens. But no, she wasn’t a doe, or a jaguar, or a cat. She was a dog. She was one beautiful, majestic Siberian Husky dog.



Chapter 12: Rumours
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Jocelyn’s POV

 

A Siberian Husky. I was very pleased with my ‘spirit animal’ as I liked to think about it. I had been worried I’d transform into something horrible, like a rat. I made my way back to McGonagall’s office feeling happy and absolutely broken at the same time. I had read, and she had told me, that the first transformation was painful and scary, but I had clearly underestimated how much. I had never been more terrified in my life. It took all I had to keep control and not fight it, but it was over now. I had made it. All that was left was practice transforming faster and with more ease each time.

 

Despite the late hour, she was waiting for me. “Well?” she asked.

 

“A dog. A Siberian Husky” I said, smiling weakly. She smiled proudly. I realized I’d seen her smile very few times and it made me feel giddy that she was so happy for me.

 

“I knew you could do it. I’m proud of you, Miss Silverway. Now, you must practice but you can call yourself an animagus. Congratulations” she said. I sat on the chair opposite her desk.

 

“Thank you. I couldn’t have done it without your help”

 

“Don’t be silly. All I did was give you a nudge” she dismissed me. “A deal is a deal, you don’t have to work with Mr. Black during transfiguration lessons anymore”

 

I had completely forgotten about that. “Actually… I’d like to stay paired up with him. I’ve changed my mind,” I said. I did not like the small smile that played on her lips. I did not like it the tiniest bit.

 

“Very well”

 

“Will you help me with the registration process, professor?” I asked. At that, she looked somber and leaned forward over her desk.

 

“I hope you understand that I would never, ever, in normal circumstances, sanction breaking the rules” she started. Where was this going? “However, I am sure you are aware of the rumours surrounding the disappearances of witches and wizards all over the country”

 

“I’ve heard some things” I said. She nodded.

 

“We have reason to believe a dark wizard might be on the rise. It is still speculation at this point, but I have discussed it with the headmaster, and we think that registering you would be a mistake”

 

“What?”

 

“It takes great skill and magical prowess to accomplish the animagus transformation at such young age. We believe registering you would bring unwanted attention. If there is, as we suspect, a dark wizard on the rise, his first move would be recruitment”

 

“I would never join him. No matter what they said or promised,” I said feeling utterly outraged. What did she think of me?

 

“We know. That’s the problem” she let that sink in. Oh. Oh.

 

“You think I’d be in danger?”

 

“It is a possibility,” she said. “Nobody knows you have mastered the transformation other than Professor Dumbledore and myself, am I right?”

 

“You are”

 

“We suggest that you keep it secret and stay unregistered until we know if it’s safe. We can always lie on your registration and say you mastered it later. I am not suggesting you stay illegal indefinitely, but I would not risk your life just to put your name of a piece of paper,” I was speechless.

 

“Thank you,” I managed to whisper. She nodded.

 

“Make sure to practice as much as you can, but keep it a secret. And, congratulations again. You have outdone the master. I was seventeen when I managed it,” she said with a hint of pride in her voice. I smiled widely at her and stood up.

 

“Thank you, and thank professor Dumbledore too, please”

 

*

 

I woke up late that Saturday morning. James’ grueling training session followed by the painful transformation had taken a toll on me. I realized with horror I had only half an hour to get ready for my date. I hoped I was still going on a date. I wasn’t sure if James would want to take me out after the events of the past two days.

 

Alice had refused to come to Hogsmeade today. She had planned a pampering session for herself and was going to spend the day in the prefect’s bathroom using Lily’s password. Our firecracker friend was going with Cal and had already left.

 

“Good morning sleeping beauty,” said Alice.

 

“I am so tired,” I groaned, getting out of bed.

 

“Why?”

 

“I think James didn’t like my little flirt with Ken. He put me through my paces during practice yesterday”

 

“Oh no, he didn’t!”

 

“Yup. Sirius joined in, the evil bastard,” I said. She laughed.

 

“You make an interesting trio”

 

“What do you mean?” I started rummaging through my clothes, trying to decide what to wear.

 

“It’s just a bit scary how well you get along with them. I thought nobody could click with James and Sirius. They’re an item, if you know what I mean. And then, you came along and it’s like you were the piece they were missing all along,” I stared at her like she’d grown horns.

 

“What are you on about? Sirius and I spend a lot of time bickering”

 

“You do not. You like to think you do, but it’s not really bickering; it’s more like teasing banter. If I didn’t know better, I’d say it’s flirty banter. Plus, you and Sirius spend a lot of time silently communicating with each other”

 

“What?” I tossed the jeans I had picked up aside and kept looking.

 

“It’s that beater team thing you’ve got going. You’ve developed a secret language with each other. I swear to Merlin I’ve never seen two people understand each other so well without actually speaking a word”

 

“I have no clue what you’re talking about, Alice” I shook my head. She was imagining things. She had to be.

 

“Fine, whatever you say. You’re not wearing that, are you?” she rushed to my side and took the jumper away from me.

 

“I don’t know what to wear and I’m going to be late,” I said. “Help”

 

“Wear this,” she took a nice black jumper dress out of my trunk.

 

“Isn’t that a bit much?”

 

“Do you want James to forget your little indiscretion with Ken or not?”

 

“Amen, sister” I grabbed the dress and ran to the bathroom. I heard her laughing and smiled to myself.

 

James’ POV

 

“Moony, where’s the map?” I asked as soon as I got back to our room. Padfoot, the selfish bastard, had left me to put away the beaters’ equipment all by myself and it had taken me ages to clean the mud off the bats. I couldn’t really blame Jocelyn for running away. I had been a dickhead to her and I was feeling terrible about it.

 

“No idea, it was on my bedside table when I went to the library,” he replied, shrugging. “Padfoot or Wormtail must have taken it”

 

“Great” I moaned. He looked at me curiously. “I was thinking I should probably talk to Jo. We’re supposed to have our first date tomorrow and I’m not even sure she’ll show up”

 

“I know she’s upset over the Alice thing, but you didn’t do anything” Moony said. His face made a grimace at the word ‘Alice’. I couldn’t blame him, the situation was shit.

 

He had freaked out big time at finding out he had hurt Sirius so badly we had worried he might not make it. It wasn’t the first time he hurt one of us, but it had never been so vicious. We didn’t know what it had been, but Remus’ wolf form had refused to go into the Shrieking Shack that night, and had fought us trying to go towards the back of the castle. We’d held him off but in doing so, he’d got angry and violent. By the end of the night, he was ripping into Padfoot with a viciousness we’d not seen before.

 

All the work we’d done to convince him he had nothing to be ashamed of, that he had every right to enjoy his life like anyone else, had been futile. One look at Sirius’ bloodied state and he’d taken off to find Alice and break up with her. He thought it was the noble thing to do. It didn’t matter that we’d told him, time and time again, that this wasn’t only his choice, that she had a right to know and decide. He wouldn’t hear it.

 

“I still think you should tell Alice the truth” I said. He shook his head and went back to his book.

 

Padfoot didn’t come back until very late that night. Turns out he’d taken both the map and the cloak to ‘get to Iris and back faster’. I didn’t understand what he saw in that girl, but each to their own. I went to bed feeling frustrated, guilty and, above all, terrified that Jocelyn would stand me up the next day.

 

I was awkwardly standing by the girls’ staircase, debating with myself whether I should try to make it to their room or not. She was only a couple of minutes late, there was no reason to panic just yet. I saw Matt and a couple of his friends give me a funny look before leaving and felt even more nervous. Everyone would know if she stood me up. Sighing, I decided that sitting on a sofa looked less conspicuous if anyone else saw me.

 

Padfoot, Moony and Wormtail came down the stairs and waved at me. I waved back and smiled weakly.

 

“Boys” she said icily.

 

I let out a breath I didn’t realize I was holding and looked her way. Wow. Looking like this I could forgive her for being late. I could forgive her for pretty much anything. She ignored my friends and walked over to me. I didn’t know where to look. The short black jumper dress she was wearing was undoing me, and I couldn’t form a coherent thought. I had no idea how she expected me to get all the way to Hogsmeade without combusting.

 

“You ready?” she asked me, giving me a quick kiss on the cheek. She smelled glorious. 

 

“You are killing me.” She smiled wickedly and flicked her hair before leaning closer to me again.

 

“I haven’t even started,” she whispered. Oh my. I swallowed hard and tried to think of something else. Something awful, like Snivellius in a bikini. Yeah, that would do it. Focus.

 

I took her hand and led her to the portrait. All three of my friends were still standing exactly on the same spot, trying hard (and failing) to not to look at Jo. I gave them a look that said, ‘out of bounds’ and helped her out of the common room.

 

“So, on a scale of one to ten how pissed off at me are you?” I asked her as we sat in the Three Broomsticks. I had secured us a small corner table, so we had some privacy.

 

“A hundred,” she replied, taking a sip of her firewhiskey.

 

“Oh, come on” I protested. She was pure evil today. She’d spent the entire way to Hogsmeade flirting with me like she’d never done before, and it was all I could do to not start snogging her in the carriage.

 

“You knew Remus was playing with Alice and you didn’t tell me,” she said, glaring at me.

 

“I didn’t know until that morning in the infirmary,” I held my hands up. “Look, when Peter said he’d gone to find her I knew something was up but, and I’m sorry for this, I cared more about Sirius recovering than I did about Alice’s heart breaking.”

 

“You swear you didn’t know before then?”

 

“I solemnly swear” I replied. She eyed me suspiciously.

 

“Why did he do it? Everyone swears it was unexpected, it makes zero sense”

 

“Remus’ got issues, Jo. He’s got some serious fear of commitment. I think he likes her a lot, but things were getting serious fast and he freaked out” this was the agreed excuse, so that when interrogated we’d all give the same explanation. Being friends with a werewolf was sometimes very tiring.

 

“Well, he needs to get over his issues. He’s never going to find anyone as good as Alice” she said.

 

“I agree. Now, can we… erhm… discuss something other than our friends’ relationship?”

 

“Fine. What do you want to talk about?” she sipped some more whiskey. I much preferred the flirty Jo to this angry Jo.

 

“I’m sorry for yesterday’s practice. I was way out of line. I shouldn’t have used my position as captain against you,” she did look surprised at that. I bet she wasn’t expecting an apology. Remus’ suggestion had been good. It was crazy how he gave the best relationship advice to everyone but was incapable of following it himself.

 

“You shouldn’t have…” she said, looking into her glass. “But I shouldn’t have flirted with Ken just to make you jealous.”

 

“You did it on purpose?”

 

“Obviously,” she smiled.

 

“Well, it worked,” I replied. “Come here,” I moved down on my bench and she came to sit next to me. “Don’t do that again, I was this close to causing a scene in the Great Hall”

 

“Really? I think a lot of people would thank me for causing a Winger vs. Potter fight,” she teased.

 

“You must really not care about him if you have such little regard for his wellbeing,” I replied, grinning mischievously.

 

“Uuuh, you’re so scary James”

 

“If he had gotten any closer to you, you would have found out just how scary I can be,” I said, leaning towards her. I could see her beautiful blue eyes darken in anticipation, but she’d been toying with me and I wasn’t going to let her get away with it so easily.

 

“I never thought you were the jealous type,” she said.

 

“I wasn’t,” I replied, truthfully. I think pinning after someone who never even looked at me helped me a lot with that. After all, I couldn’t exactly go around getting into fights with everyone Lily had dated until this year.

 

“Good to know,” I did not like her smile one bit.

 

“Jocelyn Silverway, if you do something like that ever again just to annoy me…”

 

“What? What would you do, James?” she looked into my eyes intently and I felt my resolve to make her work for it vanish.

 

I did not reply. Instead, I kissed her.

 

Jocelyn’s POV

 

“James, James, stop” I whispered. He stopped immediately.

 

“What’s wrong?”

 

“We should get out of here,” I said. I knew we were fairly out of view, but it was still a public place and I was dangerously close to doing something wildly inappropriate if he kept kissing me like that.

 

He didn’t waste another minute. We stood, grabbed our coats and left the pub together. I saw Ken glancing our way from the table he was sharing with friends, but I pretended not to notice. James led me back to where the carriages waited and we jumped on the first one available. Just as it was getting ready to leave, a few fourth year Hufflepuff students jumped in with us. I had to suppress a chuckle. Pure annoyance was written all over James’ face. The two boys kept staring at me, until the girl that was with them told them off, clearly annoyed.

 

“It’s rude to stare at people,” she said. They blushed furiously.

 

“Are you, like, together?” one of the boys asked James. He looked at the boy and smiled wickedly.

 

“Of course they’re not, don’t be ridiculous. She’s with Sirius Black,” said the girl before we could reply. I felt James stiffen next to me and my mouth open in surprise.

 

“Is it true?” the boy asked me this time.

 

“No, it’s not.” I said, simply. I didn’t know what to think. Kids these days were so nosy.

 

“Are you sure?” I was thrown off by the look of disappointment in the girls’ face. I would have expected her to be happy, like most girls were when they found out Sirius was single.

 

“Positive” I insisted.

 

“But why? You are so perfect for each other. That thing you did against Slytherin… how could you trust someone that much and not be together with them?” she looked at me with adoration and I felt very uncomfortable all of a sudden. James had a blank expression on his face, and I felt compelled to say something quickly.

 

“Teamwork, which is what our captain works with us on every practice,” I said, smiling at them and leaning into James a little.

 

“So you are together! I knew it!” the first boy said, looking smug.

 

“I don’t believe you,” the little girl insisted. I wanted to punch her in the face.

 

Fortunately, it seemed like my answer had satisfied James, because he looked at her and said, “I don’t really care what you believe,” right before kissing me like the end of the world was upon us.

 

The boys started cheering and we broke the kiss, laughing quietly.

 

“One day, I’m going to find a girlfriend as cool as yours,” one of the boys told James.

 

“I’m sure you will, buddy,” he said as the carriage came to a halt. He jumped off and helped me.

 

We walked back to the castle in comfortable silence, and he led me through a series of corridors that, I realized, led to the same room we’d been in after the party a month ago.

 

“So… kids these days, huh” he said as I sat next to him on the sofa.

 

“I am sure we were not so nosy when we were in fourth year,” I rolled my eyes.

 

“I think we need to put these rumours to bed, don’t you?” he asked me, looking straight at me. I nodded, waiting. “I haven’t been able to stop thinking about you since New Year’s Eve. I know our friendship is important, and I wanted to prove to you we were, first and foremost, friends but I’m sick and tired of it. I find it hard to be your friend; I don’t want to be your friend. I don’t want to get jealous that this guy or that guy is talking to you, or to wait a month to steal some time alone together again”

 

“What do you want, James?” I whispered. My heart was beating very fast.

 

“I want you to be my girlfriend,” he said.

 

“I’d like that,” I replied. And I did, I really did. The nagging feeling at the back of my head was just that, and I ignored it purposely.

 

We spent hours in the room after that, kissing and exploring each other, taking our time. It was sweet, and romantic, and just perfect. I realized I wasn’t ready to go all the way with him yet, and he surprised me when he told me he had never done it either. We agreed to take things one day at a time, and let it happen whenever it did. No pressure, no expectations.

 

 

Dating James was so easy. He was like a very good friend that I just kissed whenever I felt like it. We spent a lot of time hanging out with his friends, and I liked that. Now that I knew about the existence of some secret passages, James took me on night tours of the castle sometimes on our own, sometimes with the rest of the boys. We played chess, and snap, and I even helped them plan pranks now. Luckily for me, they never asked me to be involved in the execution part, so hadn’t been caught and sent to detention yet. When the boys were in detention, which was often, I gossiped with the girls. Life was good and simple.

 

“I’m getting tired of having to wait around for you boys to finish polishing trophies, you know,” I said as the marauders walked out of the Trophy room.

 

“You could always join us, we’d finish faster!” said Remus grinning at me.

 

“I’m starting to suspect you actually enjoy detentions,” I gave them a side-eye as we started walking.

 

“We do!” Peter declared cheerfully.

 

“But I thought you weren’t supposed to be able to talk to each other?”

 

“We aren’t supposed to do a lot of things, yet that’s never stopped us before,” Sirius beamed at me with a twinkle of mischief in his eyes and I laughed.

 

“Fine, don’t tell me,” I shrugged. “Common room?”

 

“No, I’m hungry. Let’s go get some food,” Sirius replied.

 

“Dinner finished half an hour ago. I couldn’t grab you guys anything, I think McGonagall suspects I’ve been helping you out, she was watching me the whole time,” I complained.

 

“I think it’s time we let you in on another secret,” he said, casually running a hand through his black hair. We were walking in our usual formation: the Sirius and James sandwich, then Remus and Peter either flanking us or closely behind, depending on how wide or narrow the corridor in question was.

 

“Oooh, this is always good” I clapped my hands and he grinned, running a hand through his hair. They’d been showing me secret passages they used to escape after pranking people, and I was loving it.

 

“We’re going to show you how to go to the kitchens,” James chimed in. I turned to look at him instead, his hand shooting up to his already messy looking hair.

 

 “You know how to get into the kitchens?” I shrieked in excitement.

 

“We know lots of things,” Sirius said with a wiggle of his eyebrows. I smiled at him.

 

We walked for a bit through some corridors and passages until we were standing outside a portrait with a pear.

 

“Tickle the pear,” James instructed.

 

“You’re not taking the piss, are you?” I said, feeling a bit suspicious.

 

“We do not joke about food,” Remus chimed in. I nodded solemnly and tickled the pear.

 

“Oh my Godric,” I said before being led inside the kitchens by the marauders.

 

We ended up spending quite a bit of time there, eating and talking about the next prank they wanted to pull. The house elves were super nice and it was very obvious that they were regulars here. I couldn’t blame them, the kitchens were very cosy.

 

**

 

It was a glorious day. The sun was shining, and the air was crisp, perfect for our Quidditch match against Hufflepuff. I was buzzing with excitement. I saluted Lily and Alice, who nodded solemnly my way, and bolted out of the door. James was waiting for me in the common room.

 

“Hey, you ready?” he kissed me lightly on the cheek.

 

“Let’s go win this game,” I replied. Sirius appeared at the bottom of the boys’ staircase that second.

 

“That’s my girl,” he said, grabbing me with one arm and lightly punching my shoulder with the other. I purposefully ignored the small flutter in my stomach I got every time he chose those words.

 

We walked out of the common room together, in the usual ‘sandwich’ formation. They were so much bigger than me I felt like I had my personal bodyguard entourage most of the time. Word that James and I were boyfriend and girlfriend had spread through the school faster than I thought possible. I blamed the Hufflepuff kids. Ken had taken it like a man and been nothing but gracious about it. The team had subjected to us to endless jokes about my having a thing for tyrants, as I had agreed to date him right after the infamous torture session he’d inflicted on me.

 

I had been a bit worried about what Alice would say, but she was genuinely happy for me. She was still heartbroken about Remus, but she didn’t want anyone else to be miserable. Lily was also nothing but supportive. She had even suggested we arranged a double date with James and Cal. I wasn’t sure that was a good idea.

 

We reached the Quidditch pitch and met the team in the Gryffindor changing room. Everyone had their game face on.

 

“As the scores currently stand, if we beat Hufflepuff by 60 points or more, Slytherin will have to beat them by at least 100 at the next game to be in with a chance of winning, and Ravenclaw will need at least 150. So, this game could easily decide who wins the Quidditch cup,” James told us. Sirius and I exchanged a look. We had already done these calculations and spent hours strategizing together on whom he had to take down to help our team.

 

“Any more impressive tricks up your sleeves?” asked Annie.

 

“Do not fly between us, go around us, and you’ll be fine,” was all Sirius said. They all nodded.

 

Hufflepuff didn’t make the same mistake Slytherin did and as soon as I was in the air, one of their beaters had his eye on me. We expected this. We knew we couldn’t do the same thing again, so we’d come up with a whole new play.

 

Sirius and I flew towards the bludgers as soon as they were released, and hit them with our bats sending them forward, exactly towards where the other was flying. We positioned ourselves close to the Hufflepuff defensive area, and began passing the bludgers between us forcing the opponent players to constantly dodge the furious balls.

 

We were too fast for the other beaters, who were getting desperate and annoyed. Sirius and I kept diving, twirling, soaring and maneuvering in perfect sync, keeping the bludgers flying across the field of play and scrambling Hufflepuff’s defense. I was getting cocky, and so was he. Everything was going to plan, and Gryffindor had scored enough points to see us within reach of the cup if Cal caught the snitch.

 

Then, the unexpected happened. In all our planning, we hadn’t accounted for the beaters getting so pissed off they’d do something nasty. Nobody played dirty (except for Slytherin) and so we didn’t factor that in.

 

I dived once more to hit a bludger Sirius had sent right below me and, as I swung my bat, felt the hand holding on to my broom be crushed. The pain was such I lost my vision. All I could see was white. There was a loud ringing in my ears and I struggled to stay upright on my broom.

 

“That was a nasty crash! It looks like Silverway is injured!” I heard the commentator as if I was underwater. ‘I am injured’ I thought. I forced my brain to push past the searing pain and blinked a few times.

 

I regained focus and looked around. James was flying towards me, and so was Sirius. ‘No, no, that’s what they want,’ I thought. I locked eyes with James and shook my head furiously.

 

“GET BACK TO THE GAME!” I shouted.

 

“ARE YOU OKAY?”

 

“PEACHY,” I replied. He nodded and turned his broom around just as Sirius got to my side.

 

“What the fuck? Jocelyn, are you okay? That was disgusting,” he said. His worry was written all over his face.

 

“My hand is broken,” I said. It was more than broken, it was smashed to pieces. The pain was so bad I was cold-sweating and I felt like throwing up.

 

“You need to get that fixed, get to the ground,” he said.

 

“No fucking way. That bastard did it on purpose. He smashed my hand with his bat, Sirius,” he looked horrified at that. I locked eyes with him and, just like I knew he would, he understood.

 

“Can you fly?”

 

“Keep an eye on me, if I pass out you’ll have to levitate me to the ground,” I told him. He shook his head and I knew he was thinking I was insane, but I didn’t care. I was so angry.

 

I focused on my rage to block out the pain and placed my broken hand carefully on the broom. I ripped a piece of fabric from my robe and used it to tie my hand to the broom handle. The pain brought tears to my eyes but I didn’t care.

 

“Jo, I don’t think…” he shut up as soon as I looked up at him again.

 

“Let’s go,” I said.

 

We flew back towards the game and I checked out the score. Hufflepuff had scored enough points to be a threat and I was fuming. The beaters were trying to break our team’s formation with the bludgers. I swung the bat with my good hand and plunged right towards the middle of the field. It was during that second half of the game that I understood why Alice said Sirius and I had a secret language. I didn’t have to tell him or even look at him once, but he knew what I needed every single time. We flew as one, him guarding my injured side and swinging his bat with the opposite hand to mine. Yes, we could only cover half the ground but we were a lethal team and we were angry.

 

When the score was back to where I wanted it to be (James was on fire and scored like a million points), I started to pay attention to Cal. I saw the moment he saw the snitch, with a few seconds of advantage over his opponent. This was my moment to get revenge. I dived dangerously towards the ball and smashed a bludger sending it straight at the Hufflepuff seeker with all the strength I could muster. It collided with her left side, distracting her long enough for Cal to win us the match. As soon as I saw him lift his fist closed around the golden ball, I felt the adrenaline rush dissolve, and a wave of pain knocked me unconscious.

 

Sirius’ POV

 

Jocelyn was batshit crazy. There was no other explanation. She was also the reason we’d won the game by a huge margin. I saw Cal grab the snitch and looked at her ready to celebrate, but her eyes rolled backwards and, unconscious, she fell off her broom.

 

I wondered if she felt anything like this the day she found James carrying me back to the infirmary. I had never experienced anything like it before. All my flying practice, all my agility, all my strength, every crazy dive I had ever done in my life I felt had been in preparation for this single, crucial moment. I didn’t think, I didn’t have to. I flew pretty much vertically, willing my broom to go faster, faster, faster.

 

I knew I wasn’t going to make it in time to pull back up. It wasn’t possible. We were too close to the ground. I had never made an easier choice in my life. I reached down and grabbed Jocelyn’s robes. I pulled her up with all my strength and cuddled her in my arms, twisting around to protect her with my body a few seconds before we both crashed into the hard, frozen ground. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the sound my bones made when they broke.



Chapter 13: Acts of Love
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Lily’s POV

 

My scream pierced the roar of the celebrating crowd. She was going to crash, I thought. And then, Sirius was diving after her with a speed I didn’t know brooms could reach. But it wasn’t fast enough. I could see, as he reached for Jo, that it wasn’t physically possible for him to pull both of them back up. To my shock and utter horror, he didn’t even try. He held Jo in his arms and twisted around. His back hit the ground making the most horrible sound I had ever heard.

 

It was then I realized Sirius was in love with Jocelyn.

 

Alice and I ran down the stairs of the grades as fast as our feet would carry us. People were shouting and crying. The entire Gryffindor team had landed and was frantically pacing around as Madame Pomfrey and the teachers assessed the damage. James was in shock. He stood there, eyes glued to the spot where Sirius and Jo lay unconscious in a heap of limbs and dark hair.

 

Jo looked so tiny cradled in Sirius’ arms. I had never really fully grasped just how much bigger than her he was. Despite the fact he was unconscious and a thin thread of blood was running out of his mouth, Sirius was still holding on to her. Jocelyn’s cheek was pressed against his bicep, and if it wasn’t for the horror of the situation, I would have thought they belonged like that – with each other.

 

Then, I felt awful. Jo was James’ girlfriend, and she would be appalled if I ever told her about my thoughts. I had to support James and stop being silly.

 

“James” I said. He didn’t move or acknowledge me in any way, I took his hand. “James, let’s make our way to the infirmary. They’re going to bring them there”

 

He didn’t say anything still. I couldn’t just stand there and let him be in such pain. I hugged him and, after a second or so, he finally reacted.

 

“She said she was okay,” he whispered, his voice shaking. “I should have known. I should have told her to quit the game”

 

“It’s not your fault, James”

 

“He tried to save her. He tried to save her. He risked his life. I can’t... Lily, my best friend and my girlfriend. I can’t...” it broke my heart. It must be awful for James to see two people he loved that badly injured.

 

It was also shocking to me that James has such trust in Sirius he didn’t see what I saw. I did not have the heart to tell him. First of all, I could be wrong even though I didn’t think I was. And, it wasn’t really my business anyway. Sirius, as far as I knew, hadn’t told anyone how he felt. I wasn’t even sure he knew it himself. 

 

“They will be fine, I’m sure they will be” Alice caught up to us that moment. She was shaking.

 

“They’re unconscious...” she said, tears running down her face.

 

Remus and Peter arrived, too. Without a word, Remus hugged Alice. I was going to protest but she buried her face in his shoulder and sobbed quietly whilst he gently stroked her hair, so I let it go. I looked over at Sirius and Jo again and saw the teachers getting ready to move them.

 

“Let’s go, they’re taking them to the infirmary,” everyone followed quietly.

 

Jocelyn’s POV

 

My eyes were dry and sticky. It hurt a bit when I tried to open them. I was confused. Where was I? I blinked a few times and saw a ceiling. Why was I not in my bed? I looked around and realized with a jolt that I was in the infirmary. Then, the events of the game came back to me. I lifted my hand to examine the damage and heard someone rush over to me. My hand was good as new, thank Merlin.

 

“How are you feeling, Jo?” a pair of hazel eyes hovered above my face, filled with worry and fear.

 

“Hi James” I said. My voice was a bit hoarse, but I smiled at him. “I’m okay. What happened?”

 

“You fainted, you fell off your broom, I thought... I was too far away, nobody was expecting it...” his eyes were wide as he rambled on, not making much sense.

 

“James, you’re not making sense. Calm down, I’m okay, aren’t I? I can’t feel any pain” I told him softly. He looked at me and shook his head, his face crumbling. 

 

“You could have died. Nobody was paying attention, there was nobody to stop you from crashing,” he said, his voice shaking. I was so confused. Clearly, I hadn’t died, what was the big deal?

 

“James, what happened?” I grabbed his hand and squeezed it to reassure him. He looked at me intently and I felt my heart expand a little.

 

“Sirius saved you,” he said, his voice breaking. Wait, what? What did he mean? Sirius… oh. A horrible feeling settled in my gut.

 

“James,” I said very slowly “tell me Sirius is okay.” He shook his head. “James, what happened? Where is Sirius?”

 

“He’s been transferred to St. Mungo’s. He’s in intense care,” and then James broke down and started crying. I panicked. I had not seen James cry, ever. Not even when Sirius was attacked in the forest. I felt a wave of nausea and had to bend over the other side of the bed to empty my stomach on the floor.

 

Madame Pomfrey heard the commotion and rushed over to us. “Miss Silverway, good to see you’re awake. Are you feeling okay?” She eyed the mess I had made and cleaned it up with an elegant flick of her wand.

 

“Why is Sirius in St Mungo’s?” I asked her, not bothering to answer her question.

 

“I could not heal him on my own” she said.

 

“What? What could you not heal?”

 

Madame Pomfrey looked at James, who was crying silently and still holding my hand and sighed.

 

“Mr. Black was very brave yesterday” she began. I did not like where this was going. “He used his body to shield you from the crash. You are very lucky to have a teammate that cares so deeply for you. He saved your life”

 

“I don’t understand. I don’t understand,” I said, weakly. My mind was a whirlwind of thoughts. Sirius was injured, severely so, it seemed. I couldn’t breathe.

 

“He figured he was stronger and bigger than you, and he had the broom to slow his fall a tiny bit more than you, falling freely, did. He had a higher chance of surviving the crash than you did”

 

“A bigger chance of surviving? What is she talking about? Is he okay? A higher chance? What? Where is he? I want to see SIRIUS, RIGHT NOW!” I was panicking, and I knew it, but I didn’t care.

 

I wanted Sirius, I wanted to see him, to know he was okay. I wanted him to pull me close and punch my shoulder, I wanted him to ruffle my hair, to smirk at me, to say something he knew would annoy me just because he was bored and wanted to have an argument for fun. He had to be okay. He had to. James was crying still but looking at me a little funny and I didn’t care either.

 

All that mattered in the entire world was Sirius and the fact that he was not right next to my bed chastising me for being foolish.

 

“How is he?” I asked again, holding the sheet of my hospital bed with both hands and gripping it so tightly my knuckles were white.

 

I looked at James, then at Madame Pomfrey. James was now focused on the nurse, waiting for her next words with a mixture of fear and hope.

 

“We don’t know yet. I’ll go check with the hospital,” she said, walking away. I stared at James.

 

“James… Sirius…” he nodded and sat on the bed and hugged me. He didn’t say anything. I didn’t think he could. He stayed like that for what felt like ages until Madame Pomfrey came back.

 

I braced myself, fully aware that if she didn’t confirm he was okay I would lose it completely.

 

“He’ll live. I just spoke to the hospital. They were successful. He’ll be back with us tomorrow”

 

I let out a breath I didn’t know I had been holding. I could feel James do the same. We looked at each other, then at our school nurse. She smiled sweetly.

 

“You don’t have to worry anymore; your friend will be fine. It was quite a scare he gave everyone, but it’s over now. So, tell me Miss Silverway, do you feel any discomfort or pain?”

 

“No, I feel totally fine,” I closed my previously broken hand into a fist and tested its strength. “It feels as if I was never broken,” I wanted her to go away. I needed time to process what I was feeling. It was like a wave of relief had washed over me and now I was drowning in joy, and in wanting to see Sirius. I needed to see him, to know he was okay.

 

“What about your ribs?” the nurse asked me irritably. I realized she’d asked me twice already and I hadn’t replied.

 

“My ribs?”

 

“Mr Black took most of the impact for you, but not all. You had three broken ribs,” James nodded solemnly. He wasn’t crying anymore.

 

“I wouldn’t have known, so I guess that means I’m fine,” I replied, trying to telepathically communicate to Madame Pomfrey that she could leave now. She nodded, pleased.

 

“Jo? Jo? Are you awake?” the curtain was pulled back and Lily and Alice rushed to the side of my bed. I sat up. Remus and Peter had come with them, too.

 

“I’m fine, everything is fine” I reassured them.

 

“Thank Merlin!” Lily threw her arms around me dramatically. I patted her on the back and noticed that Alice was standing next to Remus. They were standing very close. Interesting.

 

“Miss Silverway, since you are fully recovered, you are discharged. You and your friends are free to go,” said the nurse, leaving us. James followed her, probably to get further details on Sirius’ condition.

 

“Alice, what did I miss?”

 

“Are you joking? You almost died in front of the entire school – points for dramatism, by the way, very impressive – and your first question to me is ‘what did I miss’?” she shook her head, but I could see she was smiling.

 

“Exactly. I almost died, almost being the operative word here. I’m fine and we’ve been told Sirius is fine, though he won’t be when I get my hands on him, what a moron. I would have killed him if he’d died!”

 

“Get in line,” murmured Remus. Peter nodded furiously.

 

“So, Alice, what did I miss?”

 

“Remus and I had a chat…” she said, smiling and looking at up at him. I stared at Remus.

 

“I apologized for being an idiot” he said, blushing.

 

“Well, well, well… nothing like two close friends being involved in a life-threatening accident to reignite the spark of romance” I joked. Everyone laughed.

 

“We brought you some clothes” Lily said, handing me a bundle of jeans and a sweater.

 

“Awesome, give me a second and I’ll change” I got off the bed and grimaced when my bare feet hit the cold stone floor. I noticed then at the edge of the hospital bed a series of cards and chocolate boxes. “What are those?”

 

“Lots of people came to see how you were last night after the game, some came this morning” James said, reappearing through the curtain.

 

“What people?” I was so confused. Everyone I cared about, minus Sirius, was right there with me. “Do you mean your Ravenclaw friends?”


“They came, but they weren’t the only ones” said Lily. “Here, have a look” she handed me the cards and I ripped one of them open.

 

“Who the hell is Clarissa Clearwater?” I asked. She had written to wish me a speedy recovery and to tell me she hoped one day someone would love her like Sirius loved me. I closed the card quickly, before anyone could see it.

 

“A third year Ravenclaw,” said Lily.

 

“How do you know that?”

 

“I’m a prefect. I know things,” she replied smugly. I opened another card.

 

“Ah, look at this, Lewis Moonstone says he offers to carry my books for me for a month to help with my recovery. I like this kid, who is he?”

 

“He’s a Gryffindor, fourth year”

 

“Hell yeah, go Lewis!” I joked. There were a big bunch of cards from Gryffindor people who, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, told me how awesome I was and how worried they were for me. A small group of fifth years informed me they were going to speak to the Headmaster about awarding me a honorary trophy for exceptional commitment to winning the quidditch cup. I laughed out loud at that.

 

“Don’t laugh at them. You guys are heroes,” said Alice.

 

“Sirius should be getting these, not me. I didn’t do anything,” I shrugged.

 

“Don’t worry, he’s got a bigger pile. Like yours, but add about a hundred declarations of love,” said Peter, rolling his eyes. I laughed. I took the last four or so cards and scanned through them quickly.

 

“Right, I’m going to get changed and wash my face, etc. Will be back in a second,” I scuttled off before they could ask any question, bringing the cards with me.

 

I didn’t think James would appreciate reading about some girls’ interpretation of Sirius’ actions as ‘the most epic act of love they had ever seen’. I totally understood these were probably young girls who didn’t really get friendships with the opposite sex yet, but still, if I could spare James the irritation, I was going to.

 

I emerged from the bathroom feeling a lot better. With another ‘thank you’ to Madame Pomfrey, we left the infirmary. I linked my hand in James’ and walked with him.

 

“Hey, do you think we can sneak off somewhere for a while? Just us?” he asked me.

 

“Sure”

 

“Yo, you guys, we’ll see you later, okay? We’re… ehm…”

 

“Don’t need to tell us, we know” said Lily with a cheeky smile. I laughed and waved goodbye at them. We walked for a bit in comfortable silence until James chose a door at random and pushed it open. It was a normal classroom.

 

I knew what James wanted. He wanted to yell at me for risking my life, for being ‘reckless’. I really, really did not want to hear it. I didn’t want to be reminded of the fact that Sirius could have died because of me. I sat on a desk and grabbed his hands, bringing him close to stand between my legs. I pulled him in for a kiss even though I could tell he was a bit reluctant. He wanted to tell me off, and I wasn’t going to make it easy. 

 

“I’m sorry I worried you” I said when we broke the kiss.

 

“What am I going to do with you? I am not sure which one of you is crazier. What were you thinking continuing on with a broken hand? Do you know how badly hurt it was?”

 

“I couldn’t let them win, James. That was a dirty trick” I said, pouting.

 

“Don’t even try that with me” he said, chuckling. “You can’t do that, Jo. You were hurt and you almost killed yourself”

 

“I thought I could hold on until the end. I almost did” I replied. “I only feel bad because Sirius got hurt”

 

“What did I ever do to be cursed with you two in my life?” he joked. “You’re both insane”

 

“Probably why we make such a good team” I half smiled. “We won the game, didn’t we? I remember Cal catching the snitch”

 

“Yes, we won. But as much as I love Quidditch, I’d trade every win, every trophy if I never had to fear for both your lives ever again” he said very seriously. I sighed.

 

“I’m sorry, I really am. I promise I won’t do anything that stupid ever again” I kissed him lightly on the lips. He tried to resist me, but gave in quickly, cupping the back of my head with his hand and pulling me in to deepen the kiss.

 

James’ POV

 

“JAMES! Sirius will be back any minute now. Hurry up!” I jumped, startled, at the yelling voices of my two friends coming in through the bathroom door.

 

“I’m coming!” I stepped out of the bathroom and joined them. We walked down to the common room and met Jocelyn, Alice and Lily.

 

“Let’s go!” Wormtail said.

 

I took Jo’s hand and we walked out of the common room with the others. Last night had been quite amazing, she even managed to distract me from how worried I’d been about Padfoot. This morning, however, it’d all come rushing back. So, as we made our way to the infirmary, all the giddiness and general good feelings I’d built up alone in the classroom with Jo the previous day were quickly dissipating. Poppy had told us Padfoot was going to be fully recovered, but I couldn’t believe it until I saw him for myself.

 

“Don’t worry, James. He’s going to be fine” Jo whispered, squeezing my hand.

 

“I feel so guilty” I whispered back. She shook her head.

 

“Don’t. I think I would have done the same for him if it had gone that way. When we’re up in the air, he’s all that matters to me. Well, and the bludgers, of course. It’s the only way to be really good at our job, James. And, having each other’s backs is part of that deal” I felt slightly sick at the idea that Jo might have done something crazy like that for Sirius. I decided to firmly ignore this, no point thinking about what might have been.

 

Padfoot was, indeed, more than fine. We walked into the infirmary to find him merrily sorting through his cards, chocolate and other sweet boxes like he hadn’t just survived some major magical procedure to put all his bones and damaged internal organs back together. 

 

“I was expecting a welcoming committee,” he told us indignantly. “What does one have to do around here to get his friends to fawn all over him?”

 

“I am GOING TO KILL YOU!” Jocelyn’s hand slipped from mine and she darted forward, launching herself against Padfoot with all her (tiny) might. We all stood there staring like idiots. I was not expecting that.

 

“You’re gonna have to try harder, love. Turns out I’m a tough one to kill” he chuckled as she punched his chest repeatedly with both her fists. In an attempt to ignore that she was basically all over him when he was shirtless in bed (albeit a hospital one) I pictured she looked like a demented little sister in a fight with a big brother.

 

“Don’t you EVER do anything like that again. I do NOT care if I’m in danger, you DO NOT save me at the expense of your OWN LIFE” one minute she was all energy and anger punching him incessantly, the next she deflated and started crying, curled up on Padfoot’s chest. Hadn’t she just confidently declared this was part of ‘having each other’s back’? I’d never understand girls.

 

Sirius didn’t seem to mind that Jocelyn was sobbing uncontrollably and that her tears were running down his skin. He put an arm around her and for a split second I had the weirdest thought: ‘they look good together’. It vanished so quickly I didn’t even process it.

 

“You okay?” I got to the edge of his bed and eyed him suspiciously, half expecting him to pass out, or grimace in pain, or something. He looked at me solemnly.

 

“Yes, captain. I’m fine. Healers at St. Mungo’s really know how to put you back together. Literally” Jocelyn made a strangled noise at that comment and cried harder. Sirius started making circles on her back with his hand and whispered something in her ear with a half-smile. She looked up at him and grinned a little through her sobs. Lily and Alice fidgeted uncomfortably.

 

“Don’t make a joke of this. Do you have any idea how fucking worried I was? I don’t know which one of you is worse” I said, crossing my arms. Sirius put a hand on Jocelyn’s hair, half stroking it. She was still sobbing albeit more quietly. I was starting to get very angry but I wasn’t sure why. All of a sudden, I wanted to slap Sirius’ hand away from Jo’s hair. But that was stupid and un-called for. He was my best friend, and he had almost died to save my girlfriend. The situation did warrant some dramatics. I was just being paranoid.

 

“This little pocket rocket won us the Quidditch cup, mate. It was worth it” Padfoot said, grinning.

 

“We haven’t won it yet!” I said at the same time Moony interjected.

 

“I don’t think you two realise how serious this was” Remus always the voice of reason. They had to understand these crazy acts had to stop, for the sake of everyone.

 

“Jo, please help me out here” Sirius said. She lifted herself up and attempted to regain some dignity. She looked extremely cute, tears and all. Sirius gave me a smug look that said ‘I know I’m going to win this’, the same one he gave me every time they teamed up against me during quidditch practice. These two were serious trouble together.

 

“Jaaaaameeees” Jo said, sweetly. I head a stifled laugh from either Moony or Wormtail, maybe both.

 

“Not fair” I protested. Padfoot knew exactly what he was doing. There was no way I could even begin to try to be mad at Jo, especially not when she looked like this.

 

“I was going to keep playing, with or without Sirius’ help” she said, defiant. “As my fellow beater, he knew this, and decided to help me out”

 

Padfoot grinned wickedly. “See?”

 

“BUT THAT DID NOT INCLUDE THE LAST PART. What were you thinking? You could have been KILLED!” she shouted at him again, hitting him on the arm and resuming her hysterical crying. I rolled my eyes. I did not have to worry about lecturing Padfoot, it was obvious Jocelyn had taken it upon herself to do just that if she managed to get a grip and stop the crying.

 

“The deal was you’d levitate me, not attempt a kamikaze move” she choked out eventually.

 

“A what?” Sirius looked puzzled. He was still stroking her hair. It was damn irritating.

 

“You don’t need to know” Lily chimed in.

 

Jo continued her rant, “what if something had happened? What if you weren’t fine? Then what, Sirius, tell me, what would I… what would we do?” Jocelyn looked fierce. Despite the tears, her swollen eyes and lips, the redness of her cheeks and eyes, she was staring him down with an icy glare that would have scared Grindelwald. I quickly decided I never wanted to be on the receiving end of her anger. Ever.

 

“But I am fine” I looked at my friend, surprised by the gentle tone in his voice. I didn’t even know Sirius could be that gentle with anyone, even less so when being told off publicly. His ego was surely complaining about this. “I am fine, and so are you. It was worth it”

 

There was a small moment of silence that I couldn’t decide if it was awkward or not before Lily chimed in again. “Anyway, are you ready to go back to the Gryffindor Tower? I’ve spent way too much in this infirmary since the match”

 

“Yes, ma’am” Jocelyn and Padfoot said at the same time. The level of synchronization these two had was eerie. I scooped Jo up from the bed and marched her out of the infirmary whilst the others helped Sirius with his pile of gifts.

 

“I am considering banning you from beater practice with Sirius” I told her. She made a sound of protest. “I can’t trust you two. I’ve never met two people with such disregard for their own wellbeing”

 

“Don’t be a drama queen” she pouted.

 

“I didn’t just throw myself at back-from-the-dead Sirius, wailing like a banshee” I teased her. She frowned.

 

“That would have been quite hilarious. Next time, I’ll let you have a go” she smiled at me. I put her down on the floor and leaned in for a kiss.

 

“Not again, guys. Not again. Enough with the PDA!” shouted Remus as they caught up to us. We broke the kiss and laughed.

 

Jocelyn’s POV

 

The Fat Lady swung aside to let us in and we all crowded the small entrance to the common room. The minute we set foot in it, all hell broke loose. There was loud cheering, followed quickly by chants of “Mad Beaters” and “Gryffindor” and “the cup is coming home”. There was what looked like confetti floating all over the common room, and hordes of people rushing towards us.

 

One minute I was standing by James, the next I was hoisted up in the air and being passed around the common room like a Rockstar at a concert. I saw Sirius was being subjected to the same treatment, and I realized that people were celebrating us, the Gryffindor beaters. Not just that we were alive, but our performance at the game too. It was nice to feel appreciated after playing half the match with a broken hand, so I decided to just go with it. Sirius saw me looking and grinned like a maniac, clearly enjoying being the centre of so much attention. I laughed.

 

“Enough guys! Put them down! I really don’t want another trip to the infirmary so soon” I heard James yell. I was gently put on the floor next to Sirius, but the rest of the celebrating kept going.

 

“Somebody give our heroes a drink!”

 

“Butter beer?”

 

“Firewhiskey for Jocelyn” replied Sirius, winking at me.

 

“Thanks” I mouthed at him. A glass was thrust into my hand. The atmosphere was so vibrant it was hard not to catch the good mood. Before I knew it, I was talking in front of a small crowd of people with Sirius, laughing and watching impressions of our crash. Turns out, once the people involved in an accident are safe and sound, it becomes an epic feat, one that was starting to be greatly exaggerated.

 

A few hours later, I was ready to go bed. It was a Sunday, after all, and were still expected to attend classes the next day. Lily and Cal were curled up on an armchair in a corner, Remus and Alice had long ago vanished and Peter was chatting to a fifth year by the fireplace. Sirius was surrounded by a bunch of adoring fourth years and was re-telling for the hundredth time what it felt like to precipitate towards almost-certain death in the heroic act of saving a damsel in distress (that would be me). I watched him for a little while, noticing how his eyes twinkled as he explained how he’d realized he wasn’t going to make it back up.

 

“Were you not afraid?” a fourth-year girl asked him in awe.

 

“I was terrified” he said, his eyes somehow finding me across the room. “I was terrified it wouldn’t be enough to save her”

 

My breath caught and I had to look away. The little group of girls were sighing and ‘aaww’ing. Flustered and blushing for only Merlin knows what reason I made my way to James, feeling Sirius’ eyes on me but refusing to look his way again.

 

“James, I think I’m going to go” I told him quietly.

 

“I’ll walk you to the staircase” he nodded and took my hand. We stopped at the bottom of the stairs and I kissed him.

 

“Good night. I’ll see you tomorrow”

 

“Good night” with one last glance towards Sirius, who looked up at exactly the right time, locking eyes with me briefly, I turned and walked to my room.



Chapter 14: The Marauders' Map
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Jocelyn’s POV

 

Life was good. Remus and Alice and Lily and Cal were still going strong, and, despite small doubts that crept up here and there, so were James and I. It was quite nice that all three of us were coupled up. We spent a lot of time discussing our boyfriends every night before bed, and it made me giddy that we were all so happy. Peter was over the moon at securing his first ever official date to Hogsmeade the previous weekend.

 

Sirius, on the other hand, had never been more of a womanizer than in the past three weeks. His already humongous ego and popularity had soared even more after the crash and he was constantly harassed by girls. I’d not be surprised if he caught an STD. It was incredibly irritating every time he was late to class and showed up with messy hair and a badly arranged tie. Often, it led to shouting matches between us. We kept arguing over the smallest and most insignificant things, but he was just so annoying.

 

I had practiced my animagus transformation a few times per week since the Hufflepuff game. The first time, I was terrified my accident had somehow interfered with my new skill but turns out I had nothing to worry about. A few nights in, I had even dared to go out for a run around the grounds. I had met a friendly big black dog, probably owned my one of the Hogsmeade locals, and spent some time frolicking by the owlry.

 

That night, I had been out again with my dog friend and we’d been almost all the way to Hogsmeade and back, running and playing freely. I’d come back late, and overslept as a result so I had to hurry straight to potions, skipping breakfast.

 

I arrived just as the last few Slytherins were walking in. I ignored their nasty comments, as per usual, and headed to the desk I shared with Lily and Alice only to find Lily and Sirius there.

 

“What’s up?” I asked.

 

“Sleeping beauty graces us with her presence” Sirius joked. I rolled my eyes. He took an apple out from his pocket and gave it to me. I looked at him with surprise and he just shrugged. “You do it for us all the time” was all he said.

 

“Thanks” I grinned at him.

 

“We’re working in pairs today” Lily said. “Remus is not feeling well, so he’s skipping lessons. Alice is with Peter, she thought you’d like to work with James”

 

I nodded and joined James by his desk. He gave me a quick peck on the lips that caused the Slytherins behind us to sneer. What a bunch of losers.

 

“Is Remus alright?” I asked him as I started to check the ingredients list.

 

“What?” he knocked over an empty vial.

 

“Lily said he’s not feeling well?” I picked it up and put a piece of parchment and my quill on the desk.

 

“Right, yes, no, he’s a bit ill” he said before muttering “ingredients” and rushing to the cabinets.

 

I waited for him at the desk, fleetingly wondering if there was any reason for James to be acting a bit nervous around me today. I knew we had only been dating for a month, but we were usually much more at ease with each other.

 

“I was thinking it would be nice to spend some time in that room, you know the one? Where we went after the party that time?” I told James towards the end of the lesson.

 

“That is an excellent idea. Tomorrow around six? I will even prepare dinner for you” he said. I frowned.


“Tomorrow night we’re having girls’ night, James. I told you this ages ago, remember? We get the prefects’ bathroom thanks to Lils” I pouted. “Let’s go tonight”

 

“Class dismissed” informed us the professor. I packed my stuff and followed James out.

 

“James, let’s go tonight” I said again. He leaned against the wall on the corridor to wait for the others and I moved closer to him. I had a few tricks up my sleeve when it came to persuading him.

 

“I can’t tonight, I’m busy with the boys” he said, putting his hands on my shoulders.

 

“Are you sure?” I pulled him in for a kiss, and pressed myself against him.

 

“Get a room!” someone shouted. I ignored them.

 

“Please?” I batted my eyelashes at him when we broke the kiss. I could tell he was flustered. I knew he knew we were very close to our first time, and that he couldn’t wait, so I was very, very surprised, annoyed and disappointed when he shook his head.

 

“Sorry, not tonight” and he walked away. I had never felt more rejected and unwanted in my entire life.

 

I didn’t really feel like seeing or talking to James much after that, so I decided I was going to sit next to Sirius at lunch. But, when I got to the Great Hall, I noticed that he wasn’t there. Neither were James or Peter. I ate with Lily and Alice, listening to them chatting about Lily’s upcoming date with Cal.

 

“It’s good to know one of us has a normal boyfriend” I commented in irritation.

 

“Woah, what’s wrong with you?” Alice asked me.

 

“James”

 

“James? Are you having your first fight?” I looked a Lily. Now that I thought about it, James and I hadn’t really fought over anything yet. We had had small arguments, mostly about either him hexing people for no apparent reason or about my recklessness during quidditch practice, but we had never fought. It was quite easygoing our relationship, kind of like dating a good friend.

 

“I think I am having our first fight. He didn’t really seem bothered” I replied truthfully.

 

“How come?”

 

“I wanted to spend some time alone with him tonight and he wouldn’t budge. He said ‘busy with the boys’ and left me there” I groaned.

 

“Why is it bothering you so much?” asked Alice. “They spend time alone all the time those four, they’re like a little cult”

 

“I just been having this feeling, like he’s keeping something from me” it was true. James and I were perfect, except he never told me much about what he did when he was alone with the boys. When it was all seven of us, sometimes eight as Cal now joined often, it was wonderful. But if I asked, at first out of pure curiosity but lately more out of suspicion, what it was they got up to when they weren’t either with us or pranking people (or in detention) he got weird and changed the subject.

 

“Like what?” Alice and Lily looked at each other, then at me again.

 

“I don’t know” I said, simply.

 

“Are you worried he might be cheating?” Lily whispered. I stared at her in horror.

 

“Absolutely not. Whatever it is, James isn’t cheating on me. He just wouldn’t do that” I was aggravated that she’d even think that. Whatever this was, it wasn’t about us. It was something else. ‘I bet Sirius would tell me’ said an annoying little voice in my head. I pointedly ignored it, turning my attention back to Lily.

 

“Sorry…” she looked down and a little lightbulb went on in my head.

 

“But you are worried about Cal, aren’t you?” I asked. Alice caught my eye and nodded subtly.

 

“I want to be wrong so badly, but I have this horrible suspicion that he is…”

 

“And you are the most perceptive witch I’ve ever met. If you think he is, I think he is, too” I said. Alice looked appalled.

 

“Can you not give the guy the benefit of the doubt?” she said.

 

“Well, he’s innocent until proven guilty, of course. I just know Lily hasn’t been wrong once about a hunch” I hugged her firmly. “We’ll find out the truth, I promise you” she nodded.

 

I did not see James that night. I looked for Sirius but he was also totally gone. Their room was empty, so I gave up and went to bed sulking. In the morning, however, I decided to put aside my little one-sided fight with James in favour of helping Lily. I marched up the boys’ staircase with determination but this time, I did remember to knock.

 

“Who is it?” I heard some strange noises, a bang, a yelp and then, “who is it?” again.

 

“Jo”

 

“Ah, yes, come in” the door opened, and I walked in. The room looked as messy, if not more, as the last time I’d been in it. A quick flashback to Sirius’ towel situation and the electric feeling of touching his bare skin shot through me.

 

“Hey… oh, James, what happened to you?” he looked at me from his bed and touched the gash on his cheek.

 

“Oh, this? I fell and scratched myself against the corner of the desk” I rushed over to his side and had a look at it.

 

“Has Madame Pomfrey seen it?”

 

“There’s no need”

 

“Do you want a scar on your face?” I asked him, shaking my head.

 

“I thought you thought scars were sexy and manly” he wiggled his eyebrows at me, and I giggled. He grabbed me and pulled me down on top of him.

 

“Absolutely not!” shouted Sirius. “We are still here!” when we ignored him and kept kissing, I heard his steps approaching us.

 

“Here we go” I groaned just as he jumped on top of both of us. “Ouchmpfpf”

 

“Sirius and James sandwich” he said. I couldn’t see him, crushed as I was under his weight. How James had strength to laugh, I didn’t know.

 

“You indecent people need to be taught a lesson” Sirius continued, rolling to the edge of the bed to let me breathe.

 

“You are in no position to call anyone indecent” James pointed out. “May I remind you that on Wednesday…”

 

“I DO NOT WANT TO HEAR THIS” I panicked. I really, really didn’t want to know any details of Sirius’ escapades. I was pretty sure I would be permanently scarred. “I came here to ask for your help. All of your help… where is Remus?”

 

 “He’s just gone to get his medicine from Poppy, he’ll be back any moment. He was a bit ill yesterday” I heard Peter say from somewhere in the room. I sat up on the bed, half on James and, now, half of Sirius as well.

 

“Cool, well, I can start without him. I have a strong suspicion that you guys know some more secret passages in this castle. Besides the one we used to take Sirius to the infirmary that one time and the ones you use for pranking” I said. They exchanged looks.

 

“What makes you think that?” James looked everywhere but at me. I felt the same irritation I had been feeling lately resurface. Before I could snap at him, however, Sirius spoke.

 

“Mate, I think we can trust her, you know? She’s like an honorary marauder anyway” I wanted to hug him so badly that moment.

 

“Thank you! Thank you, THANK YOU” I shouted instead, grinning at him and making heart shapes with my hands in his direction. Sirius was beaming. I looked at James. “See? He knows best, you should listen to him”

 

“All right” he said, hands up in defeat. “We do know some passages”

 

“Ace, well, the thing is… hold on” I added as an afterthought. “What is a marauder?”

 

“Us” Peter replied. I turned to look at him.

 

“You? As in, you four?” he nodded, blushing a bit. “How did you come up with that?”

 

“It was second year” Sirius said a bit defensively.

 

“I think it’s super cool” I replied. They stared at me. “What? I do. I should have thought of coming up with a name for us girls”

 

“See? Told you, she’s an honorary member” Sirius grinned at me again, and I saw Peter nod solemnly.

 

“Okay, well, back on track, guys. I imagine you… know these passages through your marauding ways?” they nodded some more taking great delight in my acknowledgment of their ‘marauding’ around the castle. “Great, and, does this marauding of yours include ways of… ehm… spying on people, maybe?”

 

“Jocelyn Silverway, what in the name of Godric Gryffindor is going on here?” James asked. Now, I had their attention. Peter had hurried over and was standing by the bed (there was absolutely no room left for anyone else on it).

 

“We think Cal is cheating on Lily” I announced. Their faces went immediately from curious to angry.

 

“THE BASTARD!” “How dare he!” “TRAITOR!” I loved them all very much in that moment for the outrage they displayed on behalf of my friend. Although I guess she was as much their friend by now.

 

“Exactly” I encouraged their anger, hoping it’d persuade them to help me. “But we don’t know how to catch him. He’s good”

 

“Well, boys, this is an emergency” said James. Then he looked at me, “do you mind giving us a second?”

 

I rolled my eyes and made my way to their bathroom. A few minutes later, James opened the door and looked at me apologetically.

 

“Sorry, I don’t want to have secrets with you, but some are not my own” he said. I shrugged.

 

“Whatever” it did bother me that it had been Sirius, and not James, who had vouched for me. I would have liked my boyfriend to be the one to trust me most. But then, the little voice in the back of my head reminded that I trusted Sirius more than James, too. So…

 

“You have to promise you won’t speak of this to anyone” Peter said as I returned to the bed.

 

“What is this?”

 

“Promise first” he insisted.

 

“What about Alice and Lily?”

 

“We need to think about it” Sirius said. I supposed that was fair.

 

“Alright, I promise to keep your secret. Now, what is it?”

 

I watched as James opened a blank piece of parchment and placed it reverently on the bed. He pointed his wand at it.

 

“I solemnly swear that I am up to no good” he said.

 

Fine, black lines of ink began to appear on the parchment.

 

Messrs. Moony,

Wormtail,

Padfoot,

and Prongs,

Purveyors of Aids to Magical Mischief-Makers are proud to present

 

THE MARAUDER'S MAP

 

I was absolutely astonished. If this was what I thought it was… the possibilities were endless. “Is this…?”

 

“Hogwarts” Sirius chimed in. I looked up from the map briefly to see the hint of pride in all three boys.

 

“What are… are these people?” I saw little dots with name labels on it. It showed everything. Every corridor, every corner, every inch of the grounds. I saw Dumbledore in his office and Lily and Alice in our room. “You made this?”

 

“Took us a few years, but yes we did!” Sirius beamed.

 

“’Purveyors of Aid to Magical Mischief Makers… those are some big words” I joked.


“Remus helped… obviously”

 

“Are these your nicknames?” I asked them. They looked slightly uncomfortable at that.

 

“As Sirius pointed out, it was second year” said James.

 

“Sure… which one are you?”

 

“Try to guess”

 

I took a moment to consider. I had no idea, to be totally honest. They seemed to be random names. I knew that you ‘pronged’ meat with a fork but that didn’t really help me. Wormtail was slightly disturbing I seriously hoped there were no worms with tails anywhere in the world. Moony… moony I could work with.

 

“Are you Moony?” I asked Sirius. He chuckled.

 

“Sorry love, you’re wrong” he said. Ugh. I thought it might have had something to do with his silver eyes and the silvery light of the moon… but then again, I highly doubted any of these boys had realized that’s what Sirius’ eyes looked like.

 

“Tell us when you figure it out, for now, let’s get back to helping Lily catch the sick bastard” said James. I nodded.

 

“This is some of the most impressive magic I’ve ever seen in my life” I whispered, still unable to take my eyes off the map.

 

“This is exactly why I wanted to show it to you” Sirius said. I smiled at him. He winked and my heart did a strange little ‘oohh’. I ignored it.

 

“So, all we have to do is find Cal here and watch what he’s doing. We either need to show this to Lily, or have a very good excuse for someone to walk in on him cheating” I reasoned. They nodded.

 

They started debating what the best course of action was, and I lost track of the conversation. It occurred to me that I was on the map, too. I saw my dot, Jocelyn Silverway, in their room with them. I wondered if they had ever tracked me with the map. The more I thought about it, the more obvious it became. Sirius had been able to find me in McGonagall’s office that time I was late for practice despite the fact that I hadn’t told anyone I’d be there. He had also found me in the library, near the dungeons, and even outside the greenhouses one time I had gone there after a particularly big fight with him. I thought he just knew me very well and could figure out where I was, but obviously he’d had some help. Just how often did he look for me on the map?


I felt slightly panicked as I realized that any one of them could have seen me in the dungeons, or running around the grounds. Unless the map didn’t show people who… nope, McGonagall was there and, by the looks of it, she was currently in cat form as I highly doubted she’d be balancing on a windowsill in her human shape. But surely, if they knew, they’d mention it?

 

“We’ve decided that, for now, we want to keep this between us, Jo. It’s not that we don’t trust Lily and Alice, but the more people who know a secret the harder it is to keep it, well, secret” James said.

 

“Okay… we’ll just have to come up with something good” I shrugged. I looked at the map again. Cal was in his room, doing nothing remotely suspicious. “This could take a while, though”

 

“We’ll watch him in turns. We can take the map and keep an eye on him. If we see anything odd, we’ll let you know” Peter suggested.

 

#

 

“Morning!” James said as he sat next to me at the breakfast table.

 

“Someone’s in a good mood” I laughed, giving him a kiss on the cheek.

 

“We bumped into McGonagall on the way here and she took pity on us and lifted our detention for this evening” Sirius told me, sliding on the bench next to me.

 

“Ah, and what are you guys planning on doing with your newfound free time?” I asked.

 

They both leaned in and whispered conspiratorially, “we’re spying on Cal, of course”

 

“It’s been a week and we haven’t caught him doing anything suspicious, what makes you think today’s the day?” I whispered back.

 

“Lily has a meeting with Slughorn all afternoon” James informed me.

 

“Ah” that was all I needed to hear. “Right, I’m coming with you”

 

“That’s good, if we catch him Lily will believe you straight away” James said. I nodded.

 

“Is he free after lunch too or does he have any lessons?” I asked.

 

“I think he’s in Herbology, so he’s got an hour of class after lunch” Sirius replied. None of us took Herbology.

 

“We can hang in our room and keep an eye on him with the map” James suggested.

 

“Sure, Sirius still owes me a re-match at chess anyway” I grinned his way and he laughed loudly.

 

“Can you just not accept I’m better than you and let it go? This isn’t healthy” he teased.

 

“Giving up isn’t an option” I said.

 

“Amen, sister” James chimed in. We all laughed and got up, ready for the day’s lessons.

 

After lunch, Lily headed to Slughorn’s office and I joined James and Sirius in their room. Remus was with Alice in the girls’ room (don’t want to know what they were doing) and Peter was in the Library trying to catch up on some unfinished homework everyone else had handed in ages ago. I loved it when I had time to spend alone with James and Sirius, my favourite moments of sixth year so far had been like this.

 

“Check-mate”

 

“You cheated! I am sure you did! How did you do that?” I cried in aggravation as Sirius beamed at me smugly.

 

“I am just a great strategist” he said.

 

“You are breaking my heart” I pouted and pretended to cry.

 

“Stop being a drama queen” he threw a pillow at me.

 

“You did not!” I grabbed the pillow and retaliated. Before long, we were waging a full on war on each other whilst James sat on the floor munching on Bertie Botts and eyeing the map.

 

“Help! James help! She’s killing me!” Sirius shrieked when I pinned him to the bed and started tickling him.

 

“You should know better than to awaken the rage of Jocelyn” he said without looking at us.

 

“You should” I agreed, going in for another round of tickles. Sirius was laughing hysterically and thrashing hard.

 

"Herbology is over, but Cal is not on the way to the Gryffindor Tower. This is it!” James yelled, startling me. I let out a yelp as Sirius grabbed me and turned us around so he was now on top of me.

 

“Stop playing around, we’ve got to catch him!” James insisted. We sprang apart and hurried to get to our feet, laughing.

 

We caught Cal cheating. He was in an empty classroom near the Ravenclaw common room with none other than Iris, according to the map. We stood outside, deciding what to do. In the end, despite Sirius’ protest that he could come up with a better excuse, we had agreed to pretend James and I had been overwhelmed by our need to make out and tried to get into the same classroom they were in.

 

“You cheating bastard!” I exploded as soon as we saw them. Iris shrieked but Cal just looked dumbfounded.

 

“What… what… how… where’s Lily?” he stuttered.

 

“You disgust me. You shouldn’t even say her name, you don’t deserve her!” I shouted, taking out my wand. I was furious. I realised that somewhere deep down I had hoped we were all wrong and Cal wasn’t cheating on Lily.

 

“It was an accident!” he said. Iris glared at him.

 

“Oh for Godric’s sake mate, man up. You cheated on Lily, own up to it!” James said. I turned to look at him a bit surprised. He was as angry as I was, if not more.

 

“Well what did you want me to do? She won’t let me fucking touch her!” Cal exploded. That was clearly the wrong thing to say. James’ fist connected with his nose and a sickening crack reverberated on the walls.

 

“Guys, someone’s coming. I think it’s Filch” Sirius appeared at the door.

 

“Sirius! Oh, hello” Iris said, batting her lashes at him.

 

“Tarantallegra” I acted before I even had time to think about it. Iris legs started spasming uncontrollably. “Let’s get out of here”

 

We ran until we got to one of the secret passages and were out of Filch’s reach. I leaned against the wall and closed my eyes.

 

“I can’t believe I’m going to have to tell Lily” I said. “It’s going to break her heart”

 

“She’s a strong girl, she’ll get over it” Sirius put his hand on my shoulder in a comforting way.

 

“I know, but she doesn’t deserve it. She deserves someone like you, James”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“Well, when she first told me she was suspicious of him it was because I was complaining about you keeping secrets from me. She asked if I thought you were cheating and even though I was pissed off, and I knew you were hiding something, I had absolutely no doubt in my mind or heart that you would never, ever cheat on me, or anyone” I explained. Sirius had pulled his hand away hastily and James was looking at me like I was magic.

 

“That’s… thank you” he said, pulling me in for a kiss.

 

“I’m going to talk to her now, before Cal finds her” I said when we broke the kiss. Both of them nodded, and I walked out of the passage and towards Slughorn’s office.

 

“Professor, could you please let Lily go a bit early? There’s something important we need to discuss” I said politely after knocking on his door.

 

“Ah, miss Silverway, nice to see you. Yes, of course, Lily dear I’ll see you at the dinner party next week, yes?”

 

“Yes, I will be there”

 

“Excellent” he smiled and turned to his books. Lily walked out of the classroom eyeing me suspiciously.

 

“Right, what’s up?” she asked as soon as the door closed behind us.

 

“You were right. You were right about Cal. I am sorry” I said. She stopped walking and turned to look at me.

 

“Are you sure?”

 

“James and I walked in on him and… well, Iris”

 

“Oh” her eyes were filling with tears but she was trying hard to stop them from falling. She took a deep breath.

 

“James broke his nose” I added. She looked surprised.

 

“He did?”

 

“He was so angry, you should have seen him. One punch, straight to the face. The crack has awful” I said making a funny face. “And Iris may or may not be dancing uncontrollably still”

 

“Thank you” she said, giving me a hug. “I need to break up with him”

 

“You do. Do not even think about forgiving him!”

 

“Never in a million years” she said.

 

“I’ll come with you”

 

We walked to the infirmary in silence and I waited by the door whilst Lily Evans rained hell on Cal. She screamed at him at the top of her lungs and made him grovel and beg for forgiveness before delivering the final blow and telling him she would never forgive him for breaking her trust. She walked out of the infirmary with her head held high, but I knew my Lily and I knew her heart was broken.

 

Lily was, indeed, extremely upset, so I offered for her to come to my house over the Easter holiday. I knew the last thing she wanted was to deal with her sister and her boyfriend. She was very grateful and excited which made it easier to get through the last two weeks of term. Sirius had been acting a bit strange since the afternoon when we found Cal. I noticed it when I tried to hug him after we won a bet against James and Remus and he was all stiff and awkward about it.

 

“Hey, is something off with Sirius?” I asked James the afternoon before Easter holiday started.

 

“Not sure, he’s been acting a bit weird, hasn’t he?” he replied.

 

“Right, I’m glad you think so too. I have no idea what’s going on with him but yes, he’s definitely a bit off” I said, leaning against James’ chest comfortably.

 

“I’ll talk to him over the holiday, maybe he’s heard from his family or something. He does get moody when he gets any news from the Blacks” James informed me.

 

“It must really suck”

 

“Don’t worry about him, I’ll sort him out and bring him back ready to crush Ravenclaw”

 

“You better, Cap” I smiled and turned to give him a kiss.

 

Since finding Cal with Iris and telling James I trusted him blindly as a boyfriend, things had got a lot better for us. I felt like I was being silly, having doubts when I had the most wonderful boyfriend in the world, so I stopped second guessing myself.

 

“I am going to miss you” James said.

 

“I’ll miss you too. But it’s only two weeks. We’ll be back here in no time” I replied.

 

“Take care of Lily, yeah? She needs you” he told me. I nodded solemnly.

 

“I will”

 

We spent the two weeks of Easter holiday doing girly stuff like shopping, watching movies and, of course, talking. We talked about pretty much everything but for some reason I found myself always avoiding two topics: James and Sirius. Being away was undoing all the progress we’d made the previous weeks, and the annoying voice in my head kept creeping up, especially when I lay in my bed late at night.



Chapter 15: Bad Liar
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A couple of days before going back to school Lily asked how things were going with James and I dismissively said something like ‘great’ and quickly changed topic. I told myself it was because it would be insensitive to talk to her about it while she was grieving her broken relationship but the annoying voice in my head snickered at me. I had to shut that voice down for good.

 

Lily had started feeling much better after the first week and by the time we were back at King’s Cross she was completely over Cal and ready to meet someone new.

 

The Marauders, as I now called them in the privacy of my own mind, had stayed at school over the holiday and I could not wait to see them. I had missed them. Alice had stayed with them. Well, scratch that, she had stayed with Remus. I did not want to know the things those two had gotten up to in our empty bedroom.

 

I jumped out of the carriage and helped Lily, who was much more delicate than I was, get off too. It took some effort for us shorties. Last term of sixth year. I couldn’t believe how quickly this year was going. I didn’t have much time to dwell on it, though. We made our way to the Great Hall and found Alice sat at the table by herself.

 

“Hello!” Lily said cheerfully.

 

“Hi Alice, we missed you” I added, sitting next to her. She smiled warmly at us.

 

“Go on, Jo. I know you’re dying to ask”

 

“Where are they?” she knew me so well. I hadn’t been able to refrain from scanning the hall a few times already.

 

“Prank” she whispered.

 

“Ooh, and we’re safe here?”

 

“It’s a Slytherin-only prank” she informed us. As if on cue, we heard a big commotion and saw people jumping, screaming and cursing at the Slytherin table. I shook my head and smiled.

 

“James told me to tell you after the prank he’d be waiting for you” Alice said.

 

“Where?”

 

“He said, and I quote, ‘our special room’” Lily started giggling at that.

 

“That is so cute you guys” she said.

 

“Do you actually know where he means?” Alice checked.

 

I nodded and stood up. “I’ll see you guys in our room” I waved goodbye and went to meet James.

 

I realized as I made my way to the room that I was a bit nervous. I had missed James, a lot. But I hadn’t missed him as much as I thought I would. Individually, I mean. I had missed all of them. ‘You missed Sirius individually’ said the annoying voice in my head. I scoffed and ignored it, as per usual. James and I had been dating for over two months and things had been going well, much better after he let me in on their map secret and the whole Cal thing, but over the past two weeks I’d found myself wondering with some degree of disappointment if this was it. I kept hoping to feel something more even though I didn’t know what it was I was looking for.

 

Let me explain, I had read enough novels and listened to enough songs to have a romanticized idea of what love was supposed to feel like. I was either not in love with James, or people had greatly exaggerated the feeling. I didn’t have a problem with not being in love with James yet. I thought it was probably something that took time. I had a problem with having doubts, and with the fact that I didn’t know if they were legit. It was starting to freak me out. I also had a problem not knowing how James felt. I didn’t want him to be more into me than I was into him, it wasn’t fair and he didn’t deserve it. He didn’t deserve my doubts. I wanted us both to be equal. I, however, did not know what to do to find out. If I asked him, he could take it the wrong way.

 

Lost in thoughts, I didn’t realize I had been standing outside the room for a little while, never going in. Shaking my head to free it of silly thoughts, I pushed the door open.

 

“Hello” he hurried to the door as soon as I walked in. He looked so hot and handsome standing there waiting for me. What was wrong with me? Any girl in Hogwarts would be lucky to have him. Perhaps, if we get closer my doubts will dissipate, I thought.

 

“Had a good holiday?” I asked him when we sat together.

 

“I did, you? How’s Lily?”

 

“Much better, ready to meet someone new” I said. I thought that a funny look crossed his eyes, but it was gone so quickly I feared I had imagined it.

 

“Good for her. I’m glad she has you as a friend” he brushed a strand of hair away from my face and I kissed him again.

 

We didn’t talk anymore. I thought perhaps getting closer to James was what I needed, that perhaps crossing that last line would finally turn our relationship from good to great, to that all-consuming feeling I was looking for. So, we kept kissing, more and more urgently, and our clothes started to slowly come off. After a while, we were down to our underwear and breathing raggedly. I was nervous, but also excited. I felt like this was a good idea – if it worked, and James became my epic, it would erase all doubts. And even if it didn’t, who better to do this for the first time with than a best friend? It was a win-win, and I was sure and ready. He looked straight into my eyes.

 

“Are you sure?” he asked me, searching my eyes for confirmation that he could keep going.

 

“Yes. Are you?”

 

“Yes”

 

There was something quite special about knowing you were someone’s first time the same way they were yours. It wasn’t mind blowing, but I wasn’t expecting it to be. Neither of us knew very well what we were doing, but we were two friends who felt comfortable with each other so there was no embarrassment. When we were done, we lay there together in comfortable silence for a long time.

 

Sirius’ POV

 

Prongs hadn’t been back in ages. I wondered what he was doing, then remembered he was with Jocelyn after two weeks apart and wished I hadn’t wondered. Not for the first time, my fists curled and my blood boiled at the thought. I hated myself for it, but I was almost permanently angry at Prongs deep inside. I felt I was doing a reasonable job at suppressing these feelings, but it made life difficult.

 

I was also finding it harder and harder to deal with the thoughts of Jocelyn that assaulted me at random. One minute I’d be planning an epic prank with the boys, the next I’d be remembering the time we opened her room door at her house in London to find her in her bra (what a sight!). One minute we’d be playing explosive snap, the next I was thinking about us falling over in my room and how close I’d been to her (way, way too close). It was excruciating and I didn’t know what to do about it.

 

Since the Hufflepuff game I had spent hours obsessively watching her on the map, even if it was late at night and her dot was immobile in her room, sleeping next to Alice and Lily. I had gone to watch over her every single time she had practiced her animagus transformation. I had even convinced the others to let her into the marauders gang just to impress her and make her happy. I had devised new moves with the bat that were difficult on purpose so that she’d need me to help her perfect it as an excuse to be close to her.

 

And, hardest of all I found to deal with her, with all of her, her glorious, beautiful self. I caught myself thinking about the way her chocolate hair cascaded down her back, or the way her blue eyes shone with mischief, or intelligence, or joy. I knew by heart the exact shape of her lips, and had even noticed small things like the way she pursed them right before she hit the bludger with a bat or how she always looked up when she had to think hard about something. I wondered if James knew these things, and then I almost immediately felt the turmoil of my guilt battling with frustration. Of course he did, I told myself, because it was impossible to spend time with her and not know. And he is the one who gets to be with her all the time.

 

I was fully aware of the fact that I should not be noticing her in this way, even less so thinking about her as often as I was. I knew very well this meant I was in trouble. She was Prongs’ girlfriend, for crying out loud. I did not want to have these thoughts. I didn’t want to feel this… this need, that I had for her.

 

The whole thing was confusing and distressing. I had convinced myself for a long time that it was all just due to my ego being wounded at her indifference towards me. I had gone on a crazy hook up spree to try and get it (her) out of my system but the more girls I took to bed the more I thought of her. It got to a point where I had a weird vision when I actually imagined for a second it was Jocelyn I was with, not some random Hufflepuff chick. I didn’t know what to do to stop thinking about her. I didn’t know what it meant. Did I fancy her? Was I just, as I wanted to think, obsessed over the fact she’d never paid me attention in that way? Or was this something else?

 

The past two weeks had been easy, but I had woken up today knowing she was coming back and I’d spent half the day excited and half the day terrified at the thought of seeing her again. Now that I knew she was off somewhere doing Godric knows what with Prongs I was in agony. I had hidden the map under Moony’s bed in an attempt at preventing myself from checking it. I did not want to see them together.

 

A part of me selfishly wondered if Prongs wouldn’t just go back to obsessing over Red now that she was available. But, the more reasonable part of me knew that even if that was the case, I could never, ever touch Jocelyn. It was bro code. It was marauder code, and it was sacred. We didn’t have many rules, but the ones we had were precious and they were what had kept us close friends through thick and thin. We trusted each other with our lives (quite literally, I might add). Jo was out of bounds forevermore. The thought made me want to punch the wall. As I was debating just how bad doing exactly that would be, Prongs came back.

 

“Didn’t think you’d be awake” he said when he saw me sitting up on my bed.

 

“I just came back too” I lied. He looked at me funny but didn’t push it.

 

“Tell me it wasn’t Iris”

 

“What? No way. Olivia” I hoped that was her name, I hadn’t even spoken to the girl in a month, but who cared.

 

“Good for you man” Prongs said. He took off his clothes and put on his pajamas. 

 

“So, how’s Jo? Good holiday?” I asked him casually.

 

“Yeah, she said so. Not sure what they got up to, though. I’ll ask tomorrow”

 

“What?”

 

“We didn’t... ehm... we didn’t do much talking” he smiled goofily, blushed lightly and I knew. It felt like I had been hit by a truck. Oddly, it hurt way more than breaking every bone in my body. I had known this would happen, Prongs had confided in us he thought Jocelyn was going to be his first, but I didn’t know until that moment I had been furiously holding on to the belief that he was wrong. 

 

“Congratulations. You’re a man now” I sincerely hoped it sounded less aggressive to his ears than it did to mine. Luckily, he just smiled even more and went to bed.

 

Lily’s POV

 

Being back at Hogwarts was nice, but it felt a bit strange. Alice and Jo were both loved up with Remus and James and I felt a bit lonely at times. Not that I would ever tell them that, I didn’t want to make them feel guilty about spending time with their boyfriends. After all, it wasn’t their fault I had chosen a lying cheating bastard.

 

Being the only single one of my friends gave me a lot of free time to get ahead on my school work but also to pay attention to our strange group. If someone had told me this time last year the girls and I would be spending most of our time (and dating) Potter and his group of friends I would have sent them straight to St. Mungos’ psychiatric ward. Yet, here we were. Not only were we ‘hanging out’ but I actually considered them all close friends.

 

The first day of school after the Easter holiday, Jocelyn was, once again, taking forever to get ready.

 

“Jo! I am starving and need breakfast before we head to class” I complained.

 

“I am coming! Melin, woman, have some pity for those of us who are not morning people” she moaned.

 

“I am going to have a word with James” I said matter of factly. “He shouldn’t be keeping you up until so late, you clearly can’t handle it”

 

“He wasn’t keeping me up” she said suggestively.

 

“Oh my god! Really?” Alice gasped. She was even less of a morning person than Jo, but this was good gossip.

 

“Why didn’t you say anything when you came back?” I asked, sitting on her bed. She blushed.

 

“I didn’t want to make a huge deal out of it… you know, because of Cal and everything” she shrugged.

 

“Oh, come on. Cal doesn’t matter anymore. I refuse to be left out of these things because the idiot decided I wasn’t enough for him. It’s his loss anyway” I said.

 

“True that” Alice chimed in.

 

“Alright, well, there isn’t that much to tell… I mean… I met James last night, we had missed each other, we were kissing and then, well, it happened. It was quite cute” she said with a smile.

 

“And how do you feel?” I asked her.

 

“I’m happy it happened. He made it super comfortable, there was zero awkwardness” she replied. “Now, let’s go to breakfast you said you were starving”

 

We nodded and followed her out of the room. I couldn’t help but think that something was off. Jo seemed perfectly happy, but she didn’t. It didn’t make a lot of sense to me, but I had long ago learnt to trust my gut, even when I didn’t know what it was telling me.

 

“Morning!” Remus greeted us as soon as we arrived in the common room. Alice gave him a quick kiss.

 

“You didn’t have to wait for us” she said, waving hello to the other three.

 

“We wanted to” James said kissing Jo as she approached him. Sirius looked away briefly.

 

“Let’s go, I am starving you know?” I added, heading for the portrait. Peter fell into step beside me, but we didn’t talk. I loved that it was always like this, we could walk in comfortable silence with the guys.

 

I glanced behind me quickly as we turned a corner and saw that Jo was, as usual, walking between James and Sirius. She was thinking about something, her face sporting a slight frown. James was walking with his signature swagger, a grin on his face. Sirius, however, looked pained. He kept stealing glances at Jo, then frowning. The guy was in so much trouble, I thought.

 

It occurred to me that Sirius really was the most loyal of friends. Everyone knew there wasn’t a single girl who had ever resisted Sirius. As far as I knew, no girl even wanted to resist Sirius. Even I wasn’t immune to his good looks. Yet, because of James’ fixation with me he had never even looked my way. And now, despite him clearly wanting Jo quite badly, possibly even loving her, he respected his friend. I could see it pained him, and I worried the others would notice it soon, but it was obvious he was trying his hardest and I thought that was very noble of him. It made me like him a lot more. It also made me wonder if he could have made Jo happier than James did. James and Jo worked well together, but I knew she had some doubts that she wasn’t sharing with us.

 

I glanced at Sirius again as we sat on the breakfast table. He was joking with James, his face a mask of mischief and his usual arrogance until his eyes darted towards Jo again and the mask fell for a second to show his longing and hopelessness. It lasted but a moment before he composed himself again. I looked at James, James whom I had grown used to always being there for me, waiting for me, even if I didn’t want him. I was sure Sirius had assumed the same about him. That he would never give up, that he would never go after another girl. Unfortunately, the mistake had cost Sirius a lot more than it had cost me. After all, I never intended to give James a chance…

 

Sirius’ POV

 

“You ready?” I asked Jo as she appeared at the bottom of the girls’ staircase.

 

“I am” she grabbed my hand casually and pulled me towards the portrait hole. “I haven’t been on a broom in ages, Lily isn’t too fond of flying so I didn’t train during Easter” she stopped and turned on herself all of a sudden, coming very close to me. She looked into my eyes with a solemn, hard look and said, “do not tell James.”

 

“Tell him what?” I asked innocently. She smiled so brightly it almost hurt me. She was standing close, so, so close it was torture. Of course, she was totally oblivious to this.

 

“You’re the best” she said, turning and resuming our walk again. My heart was beating violently, and I worried she might be able to hear it.

 

“So, any ideas for the Ravenclaw match?” I asked trying to re-focus on Quidditch.

 

“I have an idea, but I kind of want to save it for the Slytherins next year” she said.

 

“We could always just play a normal game against Ravenclaw. We’ve pretty much won the cup already anyway” I agreed.

 

“Yeah, we’re still the best beater team in the school without crazy stunts” she winked at me and I laughed. I put my arm over her shoulders as we walked across the Entrance Hall.

 

“I’m so glad James found you” I said.

 

“You found me, not James” she replied offhandedly.

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“James asked me to try out because he knew I was a good flyer, he remembered it from when we were kids. But you convinced him to make me a beater not a seeker” she beamed at me. “You knew we were going to be awesome together even before we were friends”

 

“I might have had a feeling…” I said casually. Inside, I was screaming at the top of my lungs that yes, we are and would always be awesome together, even if my together and her together weren’t the same.

 

#

 

“I am famished, let’s go to dinner” Jo said as soon as she landed. We’d been training for hours, lost in the game and each other’s company.

 

“Bad news Jo, dinner ended about half an hour ago” I informed her. She groaned.

 

“I will not survive the night” she said dramatically.

 

“Well, I am always happy to assist a damsel in distress” I winked at her. “I’m sure the elves in the kitchens will be happy to prepare some dinner”

 

“I had forgotten about the kitchens!” she clapped her hands excitedly. “Lead the way, my knight in shining armor”

 

“Calm down, you’ll wet yourself” I joked. She made an indignant face at me.

 

“How dare you! I am a lady, I would never” she pretended to slap me, but I caught her hand with mine, noticing they were roughed up after the intense training.

 

“Ladies don’t have callused hands” I teased.

 

“James doesn’t seem to mind” she wiggled her eyebrows at me.

 

“Too much information” I muttered, dropping her hand and picking up our brooms. I walked inside to put them away without another word. I needed a second to recover.

 

It was always like that. We’d be teasing each other, joking around, having a great time and then, one way or another, I’d be reminded that she was Prongs’. It felt like a punch in the gut every single time.

 

“Hey, everything okay?” she asked. I hadn’t noticed her walking in after me. “You forgot the bats” she handed them to me.

 

“Sorry” I picked them up and put them in the locker. “Let’s go get some food”

 

“You didn’t reply. You okay? You look troubled” she said, putting my arm around her shoulders when I didn’t do it myself.

 

“Yeah, yeah, just really hungry. You know I get moody”

 

“Ah, Sirius is hangry!” she said, laughing lightly. “Good thing I’m around or else you’d murder somebody”

 

“As if you could stop me” I joked.

 

“I am tiny but mighty” she replied.

 

“That you are” I agreed. She grinned at me.

 

“I could totally calm you down. Remember that time when Christian Rosier and his friends started a fight with Remus? If it weren’t for me, you’d still be in detention”

 

“Mmm… that was a one off”

 

“What about right before Christmas when you got into a fist fight with Amycus Carrow because he offended my honour?”

 

“That doesn’t count! I was defending you, you insisted it wasn’t worth it, so I dropped it”

 

“I had to physically restrain you. With the help of James, I’ll admit my might only gets me so far. You’re a strong man” she said pointedly. I felt absurdly giddy at the fact she called me a man.

 

“You make me sound like I have anger management issues”

 

“Not at all. The Slytherins deserve everything they get. All I’m saying is that I have the Sirius magic touch. You know it, and so do I” she grinned.

 

“Maybe you do” I conceded. If only she knew just how much.

 

“I like it, you know?” she said in a small voice. I glanced at her sideways but before I could ask, we arrived at the pear painting.

 

After we asked the house elves for some food, we settled at one of the small side tables. Jo was sipping a tea and making funny faces.

 

“Why did you order tea? You don’t even like tea” I said.

 

“I wanted to sip on something, and Firewhiskey on a Tuesday didn’t seem like a good idea” she shrugged.

 

I laughed out loud before replying. “Yeah, I don’t think you want to have potions tomorrow with a hangover”

 

“Ugh, I don’t get why Lily likes it so much. It’s so boring” she complained.

 

“Sit with me tomorrow, you’ll find potions can be quite a lot of fun” I wiggled my eyebrows at her.

 

“If I get bored, you’ll owe me a bottle of firewhiskey” she demanded.

 

“Challenge accepted”

 

Alice’s POV

 

I always got excited before potions. It was my favourite lesson of all and one where I was actually better than most people. I wasn’t competitive, but it was nice to know I wasn’t completely useless at magic. Lily and Jo spent a lot of time helping me so I didn’t fall behind the class, and I loved them for it, but I liked that they didn’t need to assist me when it came to brewing. If anything, I sometimes helped Jo.

 

“I’m going to sit with Sirius today” she said casually as we walked out of the dining hall.

 

“Why?” Lily asked.

 

“Dare” she smiled mischievously.


“This doesn’t sound good at all” I said. Lily nodded.

 

“We won’t get in trouble, don’t worry”

 

“You and Sirius are trouble” I pointed out.

 

“So you keep saying” she shrugged. I gave Lily a look and she nodded lightly.

 

We made our way to our table and saw Jo take a place next to Sirius. Slughorn didn’t seem to mind we were in pairs. We gathered our ingredients and as we got to work, I whispered to Lily.

 

“I am worried about Jo”

 

“I know what you are thinking, but we can’t tell her” she said.

 

“But…”

 

“No buts Alice, she needs to realise it on her own”

 

“It’s not really fair on James, is it?” I asked. Lily glanced towards him quickly.

 

“I think he knows. Deep down, he knows” she replied.

 

“I really don’t think so” I said.

 

“How could he not? It is kind of obvious to everyone but Jo herself” she insisted.

 

“Lily, Jo was closed off from the rest of the world for five years. They know her now, the new Jo, the fun and outgoing and cocky Quidditch player. They don’t know the Jo we do. They can’t see the signs”

 

“I think… I don’t know… I have a feeling that James and Jo need to be together now. This relationship has been good for both of them. Even if it ends, eventually, they need each other right now”

 

“Explain”

 

“Well, James’ grown up. He looks after her, and is actually a very good boyfriend. He’s matured, and I think being with Jo has been a huge part of it. James needed a first girlfriend who would join in on pranks with him but keep him out of serious trouble. Someone who was just as cocky as he was, so he’d have to tone his own arrogance down” she bit her lip. I was shocked at how much she’d thought about this. “Jo needed someone gentle, someone who wasn’t a player. Someone who wasn’t a muggle”


I chuckled at that.

 

“Yeah, Jax wasn’t really a great boyfriend for her, was he?” it hit me right then. “Oh my God, Lily! Jax is like a Sirius clone. How did we not see it?”

 

“Alice, Jo had a crush on Sirius for ages. I thought you knew this” she said.

 

“Well yeah, in like fourth year, but she then started hating him and wouldn’t go within a two meter radius of him all of last year so I thought it was over”

 

“Oh, come on Alice. The only reason Jo hated Sirius was because he didn’t acknowledge she existed, and she fancied the crap out of him” Lily rolled her eyes in a very Jo-like fashion.

 

“Right, okay, well… what are we dealing with here, then?” I asked. Lily wasn’t the wisest and most perceptive of my friends for nothing.

 

“I think Jo really likes James, and James really likes Jo. They are good together, and we won’t meddle or say anything. I also think Jo still has lingering feelings for Sirius, but they will either go away on their own as their friendship strengthens or one day, she’ll realise she loves him and then she’ll break it off with James” Lily explained. “Either way, we say nothing, we do nothing. Jo needs to deal with this herself. Feelings are complicated when you are with one person, I don’t even want to imagine what it’s like to have them towards two people”

 

“They are best friends, Lily. Are you not worried about that detail?”

 

“Sirius and James are like brothers. It will be fine no matter what. I wouldn’t worry about that”

 

“I meant Jo and Sirius”

 

“What, as in something could happen?” I nodded. “Absolutely not. Jo would never cheat on James and Sirius would never hurt his brother. If anything, Jo will break up with James and explain. But as I said, it may never happen. They could just remain friends”

 

“If you say so…”

 

“Also, Alice… not a word to Remus. Promise me”

 

“I promise” and smiled at Lily.

 

I felt a bit sad, deep inside. I always thought Lily and James would end up together. ‘Maybe they will’ a little voice in my head said. I smiled to myself. Perhaps, they would. After all, no matter what Lily said, I knew real love when I saw it and Jo and James were just not it. James and Lily, yes. Jo and Sirius, hell yes. It was bound to happen. Eventually.

 

James’ POV

 

The last weekend of April gave us a nice respite with a spell of unusually warm weather, so I took Jo on a date to a small garden in Hogsmeade. We’d been spending way too much time with friends and way too little time on our own.

 

“This is nice” she said, sitting on the grass.

 

“I thought you’d like it” I sat next to her as she tilted her head back to enjoy the sunshine.

 

“I do. Living in Scotland gives me vitamin D deficiency, I’m sure of it”

 

“What?”

 

“Just nod and smile” she teased. I laughed.

 

“You are a little devil” I moved so I could sit right behind her, and have her rest on my chest.

 

“And you like it” she said proudly.

 

“I do” I grinned even though she couldn’t see my face.

 

“I can feel you smiling” she said.

 

“That’s not physically possible”

 

“It is. I know you” she replied. “I’m your best friend, James, I know you too well”

 

“Don’t let Sirius hear that” I joked.

 

“Mmm… I can have two best friends” she said.

 

“I also have the boyfriend title; he might demand a second title to compensate”

 

“He’s my fellow beater, too. And the bane of my existence. Now he out-does you” she joked. I laughed.

 

“His ego will be satisfied then” I said.

 

She giggled for a bit, then we stayed in comfortable quiet.

 

“I am glad we’re friends now” she said all of a sudden. “I love hanging out with you and Sirius. And the others, too. But you two make life much better”

 

“We agree”

 

“Good. Because you’re not getting rid of me” she turned around and gave me a kiss. We stopped talking then.

 

Jocelyn’s POV

 

The final quidditch match of the season was almost upon us. Practice had been intense as always but the weather had got much, much nicer so I had no complaints. Sirius and I had spent a lot of time working together too. Our synchronized work when he was guarding my broken hand side during the last game had given us some ideas to protect our most valuable players. At some point, James had insisted he wanted to watch our beater practices, arguing that he didn’t trust us not to get ourselves killed anymore. He joined the last three sessions we had before the Ravenclaw game.

 

When the day arrived, first weekend in May, I was very excited about the game because, unless things went very wrong for us, the quidditch cup was pretty much ours. Merlin, and all the powers to be, decided to gift us with a relatively injury and accident free game. The Ravenclaw seeker almost got the snitch but Cal, redeeming himself (slightly) for what he’d done to Lily, jumped off his broom and caught the snitch midair. Luckily for him, everyone was watching this time, so his fall was halted with ease and he was safely deposited on the floor.

 

If I thought the celebration after the eventful Hufflepuff game had been intense this was a whole other level. We had won the quidditch up, and every single student in Gryffindor was going wild. The common room had been turned into some sort of party zone and the fire whiskey was flowing freely. I was feeling particularly smug at my perfectly aimed bludger which had hit the Ravenclaw keeper in the stomach leaving the goalposts without defense for a while.

 

James was hoisting the cup and showing it to a bunch of people, so I made my way to the bar. Sirius was pouring himself a drink.

 

“I can’t believe we actually won” I told him.

 

“Sure you can. You are almost as cocky as I am” he said, smirking.

 

“With good reason. What do you have to say about my taking down the opposition’s keeper?” I flicked my hair and smiled at him.

 

“Brilliant” he tilted his glass towards me, and I clicked mine against it.

 

“We make a good team” I said. “Don’t let it get to your head, though”

 

“It’s all firewhiskey up there at the moment. No room for anything else” he joked.

 

“Sirius Black, are you drunk?” I feigned shock.

 

“Jocelyn Silverway, are you sober?” he gave me a pointed look.

 

“I think I might be” I leaned in towards him and whispered. “Help me”

 

“You’ve come to the right man” he said. “Follow me”

 

“Where are we going?”

 

“I want to show you something. Come on, we’ll back in no time”

 

We dashed out of the common room together and I followed him to a nearby passage we had used a few times when spying on Cal before the holiday. ‘Lumos’ Sirius said. We walked down the passage a bit and arrived at a small opening to the side of one of the walls.

 

“Tada!” he presented me with a bottle wrapped in brown paper. I took it and gasped.

 

“Where did you get this?”

 

“I can’t reveal my sources” he replied, smiling. “I had been saving it for a special occasion. I think winning the quidditch cup qualifies”

 

I sat down on the floor and he sat next to me as I opened the bottle of the exact same muggle whiskey we had drank at my place on New Year’s Eve. I took a swig out of the bottle and offered some to him. He took it.

 

“This is so good” I said after my third go. He nodded. The light of the wand made him look like he was a statue carved out of beautiful marble.

 

“You okay?” He asked me. I realized too late I had been staring.

 

“Yes, just lost in thought” I replied. I could see him smirking and it made me nervous.

 

“Want to share?” he asked then. Did I? I wasn’t even sure that it was I was thinking about. The past couple of weeks with James had been both the best but also the hardest of our relationship. When I wasn’t with him, kissing or touching, I would have doubts. I hated myself for it, James didn’t deserve my doubts. The worst part was I didn’t even know where they were coming from.

 

“Hey, whatever it is, you can tell me” I looked at Sirius again. I had forgotten he was waiting for an answer. He looked so handsome in the pale light, like a prince of shadows.

 

Suddenly, I felt claustrophobic. “Let’s get back to the party, I think I’m no longer sober”

 

“Sure” he looked disappointed but stood up and offered me a hand. I took it and stood up with him.

 

We had barely walked a few steps when Sirius grabbed my arm and pulled me to the side rather violently. I was going to demand an explanation, but he pressed himself against me and put his hand over my mouth.

 

“Slytherins” he whispered in my ear. My eyes opened wide and I nodded lightly to let him know I understood. He lowered his hand but stayed ultra-close to me.

 

“He’ll never, ever turn. No matter what Regulus says, it’s a lost cause. I don’t get why we should even check on what he’s doing” I recognized the voice as that of Alecto Carrow, a horrible bitch whom I hated with a passion.

 

Sirius had tense so much I could practically feel his muscles where his body was pressed against mine. My hand, resting on his chest, gave me insight into his heartbeat which was skyrocketing. I knew it pained him that Regulus was such a blood-purist and refused to talk to him, but I didn’t know it made him so angry.

 

“What about Potter?” said a voice I thought belonged to Rosier.

 

“Even less so than Black. Those two are too self-absorbed and stupid to understand the importance of what we’re working for” replied the Carrow girl.

 

Sirius was vibrating with anger, and I knew if he didn’t calm down soon we’d get in trouble. We didn’t have our wands, and we were a little past the ‘tipsy’ point.

 

“Sirius, look at me” I whispered as quietly as I could. He kept staring at the wall.

 

“Sirius, look at me. Please” I tried again. Nothing.

 

I put my hand on the side of his face and gently but firmly forced him to look towards me. His silver-grey eyes met mine and I prayed to Merlin that Alice’s theory we could communicate silently was true. I tried to convey with my eyes that I was here for him, that I had his back and that these people were not worth his anger.

 

“Jo…” he murmured, inching a little bit closer.

 

“I think there’s someone here” said Rosier.

 

I panicked. If they found us, we’d be in trouble. Sirius saw the fear in my eyes and put his arms around me, getting so close not a needle could have fit between us.

 

“I am going to pretend we’re hooking up. Don’t freak out” he whispered. He pushed me deeper into the shadows of the armours around us to hide me from view, and bent his head towards mine until we were almost touching. Then, he moved his hands, burying one in my hair and putting the other one up my shirt. I could feel it hovering over my skin but not touching it.

 

“Ah!” I felt a light on Sirius’ back and moved my hands over his shirt, hoping it’d make it more believable. “Oh, it’s just a random hookup” said the Carrow girl.

 

“Do you mind?” Sirius snapped at her, turning his face just a little bit.

 

“You’re such a man-whore, Black” she said, but fortunately, turned and walked away with Rosier.

 

“That was close” Sirius said, turning back towards me.

 

I couldn’t breathe. My heart was racing and my blood was boiling. All I could think of were Sirius’ hands and how painfully close to my skin they were. I was hyper aware of the smoothness of his hair, the shape of his lips, the smell of him.

 

“We need to get back,” he said after what felt like forever. When he finally moved away from me, I felt a wave of disappointment and relief so intense I felt a bit dizzy.

 

“Yes, I need a drink” I said. My voice sounded a bit hoarse and I blushed. He noticed and I was mortified.

 

“So do I” he said instead of teasing me. It occurred to me briefly that maybe Sirius was just as bothered by the whole episode as I was.

 

When we got back to the party, I saw James busy by the bar. Alice and Remus were, surprise (not), making out on an armchair and Lily was talking to Peter and his new girlfriend. Sirius and I joined James. I had drunk most of the bottle of muggle whiskey by now.

 

“Last one is yours” I purred, leaning close to Sirius and giving him the bottle.

 

“Are you drunk Jo?” James asked me, putting his arm around my waist and pulling me back slightly. In my extremely intoxicated state, free of all inhibitions and thoughts of consequences and still reeling from the incident with the Slytherins, I was having trouble taking my eyes off Sirius.

 

“I am” I said, giggling a little. “It’s his fault” I pointed at Sirius and my fingers grazed his shirt. He wasn’t standing very far at all, despite James’ efforts.

 

“Is it now?” Sirius replied. “I seem to recall you specifically asking for my assistance” he wiggled his eyebrows at me.

 

“Guilty!” I giggled again. James leaned in to whisper in my ear and I saw Sirius take the last big gulp and finish the whiskey bottle.

 

“Well, are you drunk drunk or tipsy drunk?” James asked me. I half turned to look at him.

 

“Are you planning on taking advantage of me?” I said, smiling wickedly at him.

 

“If you keep looking at me like that I just might” James replied, kissing me. I heard a loud noise, breaking glass and a yelp of pain, and broke the kiss, startled at the same time someone cursed loudly.

 

“FUCK” Sirius’ hand was bleeding.

 

“You okay mate?” James asked him, hurrying to help with his cut. I swayed a little and had to hold on to the table.

 

“Sorry, I broke the bottle by accident and cut myself” Sirius was telling James. I saw Lily looking at them with a concerned expression. What was that about?

 

Lily’s POV

 

The party was in full swing when I noticed James awkwardly trying to get rid of two adoring fourth year girls. I caught Remus’ eye and we both went to his rescue.

 

“There you are!” I said, putting my hand on his arm.

 

“Mate, we’ve been looking for you. Sorry ladies, the captain is needed at the bar” said Remus. We quickly made an exit and escorted James safely away from his fans.

 

“Thank you” he smiled at us. We reached the bar and he poured himself a drink. Then, quickly noticing I didn’t have one, he offered “What would you like, Lily?”

 

“I think a firewhiskey sounds good” I said.

 

If anyone had told me this time last year I would be friends with James Potter I would have punched them in face (maybe not, I would perhaps asked Jo to punch them in the face, but you get me). The change in him, and the other three boys, from fifth year to sixth year had been an impressive one. Sure, they still pulled pranks, and hexed people, but did so less often and more maturely. I also found that not being constantly harassed by him made James a nicer person to be around. When he wasn’t asphyxiating you, he was actually a great guy.

 

“Here you go” I took the drink from him and tilted it towards him.

 

“Awesome job, captain. You brought the cup home” he blushed and looked away quickly for a moment before regaining his composure.

 

“Thanks, Lily. It was a team effort, though”

 

“Are you alright mate?” Remus joked. “Has your ego finally deflated or do you have a fever?”

 

“Very funny Remus, hilarious” he rolled his eyes. I chuckled.

 

“I’ve been looking for you” Alice appeared at Remus’ side and he gave her a quick kiss.

 

“We’re toasting” I informed her.

 

“Ooh, can I have a firewhiskey too, please?” she asked James sweetly.

 

She was handed a glass and we repeated the toast to Gryffindor’s victory. After a while, Alice and Remus excused themselves and headed towards a secluded corner to make out. I swear to Merlin these two were all over each other at all times. 

 

“Have you seen Jo?” James asked me. I realized that no, I hadn’t in a while. I quickly looked around and noticed with growing alarm that I couldn’t find Sirius either.

 

“No, not for a little while…” I said, trying to sound casual about it. “I’ll go ask Annie, I think they were talking earlier” James nodded, and I got lost in the crowd. Annie had no idea where Jo was, but as I was making my way back to James, I saw her and Sirius come back. Together.

 

I knew it wasn’t any of my business but I had been watching Sirius a little more closely. By now I knew for sure I wasn’t mistaken about his feelings for Jo. However, the more I paid attention to him the more I realized he hadn’t known how he felt on the day of the Hufflepuff match. He had begun to realize it slowly, and every day that went by I saw him struggle more and more as the magnitude of his predicament became clearer and clearer to him.

 

Jocelyn had absolutely no clue about how Sirius felt, despite the fact that she had lingering feelings for him (or so Alice and I thought, and we were often right about these things). James was oblivious to the whole thing or he was a very good actor. I was worried though. The only reason it hadn’t become obvious yet was because Sirius had only recently come to terms with his feelings. But as he became more aware of what was happening to him, it also became harder for him to lie to the world about it. I watched as his eyes narrowed and his grip tightened around the empty bottle he was holding when James kissed Jo rather passionately. When the glass exploded and he swore, I knew he needed help or it would be the end of his friendship with James.

 

After his wound was closed up, James took Jocelyn to bed. It was clear she was too drunk for anything else. I patiently waited it out until the last stragglers left the party before approaching Sirius. He had been sitting by the fireplace on his own for the past two hours.

 

“Mind if I join you?” he looked at me, confused.

 

“I’m not great company tonight” his eyes drifted back to the fire. I sat down anyway.

 

“I am not looking for company”

 

“Suit yourself” I checked one last time to make sure we were alone before talking to him. Sirius had hung his head between his shoulders and had his elbows on his bent knees.

 

“You need to get her out of your head” I said. He looked up at me.

 

“I don’t know what you’re talking about”

 

“You do. And, if you want to stay friends with her and with James, you need to stop thinking about her that way” I told him. He didn’t react.

 

“Sirius, I mean it. It is dangerous. You’re playing with fire, give it up” I insisted.

 

“You don’t think I’ve tried?” He snapped. I was a bit taken aback by his outburst. I thought it’d take more to crack him.

 

“You have?”

 

“Who the fuck do you think I am?” I wasn’t expecting this viciousness from him at all. I stared at him as we went on. “Of course I’ve tried. I have tried everything! She’s with James. She’s my brother’s. His, not mine.” I didn’t fail to notice the tormented look in his eyes as he said that last line. I reached for his hand, but he pulled it away quickly. “I would never even look at her if it was up to me. If I could stop myself.”

 

He stood up and started pacing. “I notice her. All the fucking time I notice her. No matter what I’m doing or where I’m looking, she’s there. She is always there, smiling, or laughing, or helping us plan a prank. She’s flying and the air is messing her hair and the sunlight catches it and it shines and the breath is knocked out of me. I don’t want to, but I know that she purses her perfect lips before she bats, and that she looks to the heavens when she’s stressed out and needs to think hard about something, as if an angel would come to her aid. Why would they? I bet the angels are fucking jealous of her. How could they not? She’s perfect. She’s glorious. She’s my fucking soul-mate and she is my brother’s girl

 

“Sirius don’t!” but it was too late. He had punched the wall and blood was spilling but he didn’t seem to mind.

 

Then, defeated, he sat back down, put his face in his hands and groaned. “I don’t know what to do, Red. It’s killing me”

 

This was a lot worse than I thought. I was expecting him to be arrogant, to tell me he had slept with half the school surely going after one more girl wouldn’t make that big a difference. I even expected him to use James’ old crush on me as an excuse, somehow. But I was absolutely not expecting this.

 

“How did this happen, Sirius? You spent five years pretending you didn’t know her name”

 

“You knew I was pretending?”

 

“She might have believed you, because she’s Jocelyn, and she takes things at face value, but nobody else bought it. You are a bad liar” I told him. “We just thought you did out of spite. But I’m starting to think that was never it”

 

“Doesn’t matter, does it?”

 

“Why didn’t you tell James before they started going out?”

 

“Red, you know very well James hasn’t fancied anyone that wasn’t you for ages. I couldn’t exactly tell him not to go for the only girl he actually liked just because I thought I might fancy her a bit”

 

“Fancy her a bit?” I raised an eyebrow.

 

“Well, at that point I thought it was just… you know… that she’s hot. And that was that. I had no idea this was going to happen.”

 

“Do you regret it?”

 

“No”

 

“You are a bad liar, Sirius Black,” I sighed.

 

“Let’s hope James and Jocelyn never find out,” he shook his head and looked at the fire again. I didn’t know what else to say, so I just stayed there with him in silence.



Chapter 16: Moony
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Sirius’ POV

 

The month of May of our sixth year went down in history as one of the shittiest ever. Reports of strange things happening were coming in a lot more frequently than before. We saw a new missing person in the paper every other day, and Red, being the smart girl she was, quickly spotted a pattern. Most of the missing people were muggle borns. We were told not to worry time and time again, but it was hard not to.

 

I had found an unexpected ally and support in Lily Evans. She made excuses for me when I felt overwhelmed by any situation and had to disappear for a few hours. She never even asked me where I went or what I did with that time, she just seemed to know I needed it. In order to avoid raising suspicion, I had tried going back to sleeping around, but it just didn’t feel right. Eventually, I started just going to Hogsmeade and getting drunk, but I stopped that too when I came back one night and ran into Jocelyn in the common room. Turns out being drunk around her was way too risky.

 

With the quidditch season over I had no reason to spend any alone time with Jocelyn which was good and bad. I missed our beater practice. I also missed her in general, but as Lily had wisely told me, I had to stay away from her. So, I tried. I tried with everything I had.

 

Jocelyn’s POV

 

I was getting really worried. The news on the Daily Prophet were increasingly disturbing and the fact that Lily had figured out whoever this dark wizard was he was targeting muggle borns didn’t make it any easier. I was on my way to meet James at our usual spot, the mystery room only he knew how to open, but the last thing on my mind was whatever girlfriends thought about when going to meet their boyfriends.

 

“Hey, sorry I’m late” I said pushing the door open.

 

“Don’t worry, everything okay?” I reached him and sat next to him.

 

“No. I’m worried, James. We’ll be done with sixth year in a little over a month and that means leaving Hogwarts for the summer. I’m worried about Lily” saying it out loud made me feel even worse, if that was possible.

 

“I know. I’ve been thinking about it, too”

 

“You have?”

 

“Of course I have. And I have an idea” he informed me.

 

“Go on” I smiled at him. Being around James, talking to him, was so easy. We got along so well. Why did I constantly feel like there was something missing?

 

“I got tickets to the Quidditch World Cup in France” he said, beaming.

 

“Us? Like you and I?”

 

“And Sirius, Remus, Peter, Alice and Lily, if they want to come” I stared at him.

 

“James, that must have cost a small fortune”

 

“My parents were happy to do it. It’s our last Hogwarts summer, I want it to be special. Plus, there’s no way these sick bastards would do anything during the World Cup. Lily will be safe for at least two weeks”

 

I hugged him. “You are the best, James Potter. And I have an idea to add to yours”

 

“Let’s hear it”

 

“We should just spend summer together. As much as we can. I’ll invite Lily to my place, then we could go somewhere all together, my parents have a house in the south of France. We could go for a week, then make our way to the World Cup. That’s a month gone, and Lily would be safe throughout” James was nodding enthusiastically.

 

“I could host us for a week or two at my place in London after that” he offered.

 

“I’m sure Alice will offer her place too” I clapped my hands. “This is brilliant, James. Thank you”

 

“We take care of our friends” he said. I hugged him again, feeling a lot better about the ‘worried about Lily’ situation.

 

The thing about my relationship with James was that it was very good. We got along well, we were comfortable with each other and we had good sexual chemistry. I couldn’t find anything fundamentally wrong with it, not even remotely. So, I thought again as we left the room together a couple of hours later, why did I feel like there was?

 

We met our friends for dinner in the Great Hall. They were all there, even Sirius who had recently been disappearing a lot to Merlin knows where with only Godric knew who.

 

“I have been thinking” I said by way of hello.

 

“Did it hurt?” his tone was light, but his smile didn’t reach his eyes.

 

“You’re hilarious, Sirius” I rolled my eyes. “Anyway, I’ve been thinking and discussing with James that in a month or so we’ll be out of here for the final time before we graduate” everyone nodded.

 

“So, we should make this a summer to remember” I continued. “We have a plan”

 

Our plan was very well received by everyone, including Lily. She didn’t fail to notice it was partly motivated by our desire to keep an eye on her, but she was grateful. The quidditch World Cup was the part Sirius and I were most excited about. My parents’ villa in the south of France had Lily and Alice in a frenzy, on the other hand.

 

“We need to go shopping before the holiday!” exclaimed Alice when we made it to our room. I lounged on the bed before replying.

 

“We can take a day or two just us girls in London before we meet the ma... the boys”

 

“I can’t believe we’re going to spend all summer together” Lily said clapping her hands.

 

“It is the last Hogwarts summer; it has to be grand” Alice beamed.

 

“It will be”

 

We busied ourselves getting ready for bed. It was a beautiful clear night and I could see the moon shining through our window. It would be full in a day or two. That reminded me, I still hadn’t figured out the marauders’ nicknames. Too much going on.

 

“Jo?” I looked around, confused.

 

“Woah, what’s gotten into you girl?”

 

“What? Nothing” I shrugged. Lily arched her eyebrows.

 

“Don’t you ‘nothing’ me, you were looking out the window like a melancholic widow” sometimes it was very helpful that your best friend was so perceptive. Other times it was really not.

 

“Jo, you are always here for us, let us be there for you, too” said Alice. I sat on the windowsill and sighed.

 

“Alright, here’s the thing” I took a deep breath. “I really like James, I think he is extremely hot, we get along really well, he is nice and treats me right, he is a good kisser, sex is good. Our relationship is good

 

“But?”

 

“How do you know there’s a but?”

 

“Isn’t there?” Ugh, Lily!

 

“Fine. But... I feel like something is missing. I don’t know what or why, it makes no sense to me, like I said our relationship is good. But I can’t shake the feeling”

 

“Okay, let’s analyze this for a minute” said Alice. I looked at her.

 

“When did you start feeling like this?”

 

“I’ve been thinking about it for a while. At first it was a small thing, I ignored it. I mean, I am still super attracted to him so it’s easy to ignore these things when we are... you know... together…”

 

They both nodded in understanding. There may have been some eyebrow wiggling on Alice’s part, but I ignored that. Lily asked “is there like a third person?”

 

“No, not at all. It’s not like that. It’s not that I fancy someone else, it is that I can’t shake the feeling that I am missing something in my relationship with James” her question made me uneasy, but I viciously repressed whatever that was. This had nothing to do with anyone else. It just didn’t.

 

“Did you feel the same with Jax?” Alice asked.

 

“I never thought about it. We weren’t together long enough for it to even cross my mind, I guess. The thing is, I kind of see James and I, like, we could be a long-term thing. A really long-term thing” I explained. I was growing increasingly anxious. Talking about things to my friends usually made me feel better, not worse.

 

“And that’s a bad thing? How?” Lily asked.

 

“Alice, tell me something. How do you feel when you’re with Remus?”

 

“What do you mean? It’s great, but you said you feel the same with James”

 

“No, I mean how do you really feel? Like if you had to put the feeling into words”

 

“I... I feel like the world is electric, like I am buzzing. I feel like I gravitate towards him, like the universe pulls us together” she said after some thought. I nodded eagerly. Lily stayed quiet for a bit. I looked at her, a foreboding growing in me. She was going to figure it out, and, worse, she was going to make me figure it out. I wasn’t sure I wanted to.

 

“I think I know what your problem is, Jo” Lily said eventually. Then, she locked eyes with me and said “And I think you know it too, you just don’t want to know”

 

“I think I do,” I sighed. There was no point denying it any longer. Hearing Alice talk about her and Remus, plus every little nagging feeling I had had being with James… well, let’s just say I wasn’t super perceptive like Lily, but I wasn’t an idiot, either. 

 

“James and I work. We could stay together forever, marry, have children and a pleasant, happy life”

 

“That’s your problem? I’m so confused” Alice groaned.

 

“I don’t want just a happy life” I whispered. I continued before Alice could protest. “I want a love story to inspire songs”

 

Alice and Lily were looking at me with very wide eyes.

 

“I want to feel like he’s everything. Like he is my everything. I want to feel like the world stops spinning when he looks at me. I want to drown in his eyes and lose the ability to function if he touches me. I want all encompassing, all-consuming love. I want to despair, to feel like I can’t live without him. I want it to tear me apart and put me back together. I have always hoped for something like Catherine and Heathcliff, Romeo and Juliet. I want to be Anna Karenina and find a Count. Fucking hell, I’d even settle for Elizabeth and Mr Darcy!” I didn’t know where any of this was coming from, but I couldn’t stop it. I stood up without even realizing it halfway through my speech and kept going. It was like I’d opened the floodgates and there was no stopping the tide. It was coming for me like an out of control avalanche and I was ready to let it swipe me off my feet.

 

“I want to burn the world to the ground with our passion. I want to catch on fire. I don’t want good, I don’t want nice. I don’t want a happy, comfortable life. I want toe-curling and mind-blowing. I want electric, I want terrifying, I want immense, I want huge, I want world-rocking. I want epic. I want fireworks.”

 

I sat back down on the bed and let out a small sob. “I am a horrible human being.”

 

Lily and Alice rushed to my side and hugged me at the same time. “Jo, you aren’t horrible. You are just human.” Lily said.

 

“And you deserve epic,” Alice said. I looked at her. “You deserve all those things. You are the most loyal, selfless and brave person I have ever met. You’ve been there for me after every breakup, every mistake. You helped Lily every time someone bullied her. You have never, ever, asked anyone for anything in your life. Not even when you thought you were invisible. You never complained, never made us feel bad that we got attention and you didn’t. If anyone deserves fireworks, Jo, it’s you”

 

I started crying, and we stayed there for a while. Eventually, I calmed down enough to look at my friends again.

 

“What do I do? I can’t break up with James, he doesn’t deserve this”

 

“You can’t date him just because you don’t want to hurt him, Jo” Lily reasoned.

 

“I need to think about it. What if I’m just having a bad run? What if I break up with him and regret it forever?”

 

“I think you should follow your heart no matter what, Jo. But, if you’re unsure, then give it until after the summer,” Alice suggested. “Maybe the fireworks will come”

 

#

 

Voicing my doubts made it both easier and harder to date James. Easier because I knew what the ‘issue’ was, so I could just decide to ignore it. Harder because every time we kissed, every time we touched or had sex, I couldn’t stop thinking that it was good, it was great, but it wasn’t epic. I always immediately felt like an absolute dickhead for it. James was amazing, and any girl would be lucky to have him. So, back to ignoring the ‘issue’ until the next time it cropped up in my mind, and so on.

 

I had decided that keeping busy was going to help, so I had devoted most of time to a) finding out once and for all what the Marauders’ nicknames were and b) exercising. After all, I had a bit of vanity in me and wanted to look my best now that I was going to spend most of the summer around the boys, and in a bikini for a good part of it. The b) part of my plan was going great. I had returned to early morning runs and it was doing wonders for my mental health. The a) part wasn’t really progressing.

 

It had become apparent I wasn’t going to figure it out on my own. I needed help. Unsuspecting help in the form of Sirius Black. Since quidditch season had ended we hadn’t really spent much time together on our own, and it was bugging me. So, with the excuse (for myself) that I was on a fact-finding mission, I went looking for him.

 

“I give up,” I dramatically threw myself on the common room sofa next to Remus, Lily and Alice.

 

“On what exactly?” asked Remus.

 

“Finding Sirius”

 

“What do you need him for?” Lily chimed in.

 

“Just need to check our transfiguration essay with him, the one we’re supposed to hand in tomorrow, remember?” I had been preparing this lie the entire hour I’d been looking for him. We did have an essay to hand it, but it did not need any checking at all whatsoever. They did not know that.

 

“Ah, well, in that case, maybe he’s in our room?” Remus gave me an odd look, very intense. I was about to say I had already checked their room when I realized what he meant.

 

“Ah, ah, yes, I didn’t check there… thanks Remus”

 

“What am I missing?” I heard Lily ask as I walked up the boys’ staircase.

 

It took me a while to find it, and I tried to enchant two completely normal pieces of parchment before I found the actual map. ‘I solemnly swear that I am up to no good’. Hogwarts appeared before my eyes. I scanned it carefully, looking for Sirius Black. It took me forever to find him, but in the end, I did. ‘What is he doing all the way across the lake?’ I wondered. He was alone.

 

Satisfied, I put the map away and ran to get my broom. No way I was going to walk all the way there… a thought occurred to me. I could probably run (in Husky form) rather quickly. It was almost dark, and close to the new moon, so it was unlikely anyone would see me. Besides, I had to keep up my practice.

 

I waited until I was safely behind a bunch of trees in case anyone was looking from the castle (unlikely, anyway) and transformed. The rest of the way was a piece of cake. I made it to the spot where I had seen Sirius on the map, and carefully slowed my pace. He was sat down on the grass with his back against a tree. He looked absolutely miserable. It broke my heart. What was he so upset about? Had he heard from his family again?

 

Worried about him, I transformed back to my human form. I was about to alert him of my presence when he stood up, shook his head and turned into a dog. The dog. The dog I had been running with every now and then. A dog.

 

WHAT.THE.ACTUAL.FUCK.

 

I was so shocked I couldn’t talk or move. Sirius, the dog, whatever, sprinted away back towards the castle, and I just stood there. And then, I had an epiphany. I had flashbacks to Sirius’ wounds that night in February. I remembered James’ ghastly cut across his face. My mind picked up other things I had never paid attention to before: how Sirius had been extremely quiet for an entire month during the beginning of fifth year and, most notably, not made out with anyone. How, the following month, James had not asked Lily out a single time (we thought he was over it, but he re-started his conquest efforts after exactly 30 days). And the one thing all those events had in common was a full moon. And, every time, Remus had gone missing for a reason or another. I remembered Peter saying ‘accident in herbology’, ‘mother is unwell’, ‘fell off his broom’, and ‘just a bit unwell’. And I knew.

 

Moony.

 

It all made so much sense now. Sirius was Padfoot. An illegal animagus, except he hadn’t been tutored by anyone. He had learnt it all on his own. And I was pretty sure so had James, possibly even Peter though I had some doubts about that one. And they’d done it because Remus Lupin, my best friend’s boyfriend, was a werewolf.

 

Remus’ POV

 

Padfoot walked into the common room and I noticed, confused, he was alone. “Did Jocelyn not find you?” I asked him.

 

“What?” he came closer. Alice was half asleep on my lap.

 

“Hold on” I told him. “Hey, babe, I think it’s time you got some sleep” I whispered to her. She looked at me sleepily and agreed. We kissed goodnight and she disappeared up the stairs. I turned to Padfoot just as Jocelyn entered the common room.

 

“Your room. Right now. Move” Sirius and I looked at each other in great confusion. I had heard Jo could be quite scary if you pissed her off, but she was also quite difficult to piss off (unless you were Padfoot) so I had never actually been on the receiving end of her rage until now.

 

“Whatever it was, it wasn’t us” said Padfoot, smiling at her. She didn’t budge. If anything, she looked angrier. The smile died in his lips immediately. I thought it was the only time I’d seen Sirius fail at making Jocelyn smile back.

 

“Up the fucking stairs, right now” she said, marching towards them herself. “And James and Peter better be in there too”

 

We hurried to follow her up the stairs. “Do you have any idea what this is about?” Sirius whispered to me. I shook my head no.

 

Prongs and Wormtail were, in fact, in our room. Jocelyn barreled inside without even knocking.

 

“Shut the door” she said, taking out her wand.

 

“WHOA, what’s wrong?” James jumped up, glancing at her wand.

 

“Muffliato” she pointed at the door. “Sit”

 

Nobody dared disobey. We all sat down. She stood in the middle of the room. For someone so short, she sure as hell was scary and imposing.

 

“You may or may not remember you told me to ‘let you know when I figured out who is who’” she started. “I have, and you better start explaining yourselves, right now,” she looked straight at me and I felt terror like I had not felt since my friends found out my secret in second year. She knew. She knew, and I was sure she was going to tell Alice.

 

“Calm down, babe. They’re just nicknames,” James tried.

 

“Don’t you fucking dare tell me to calm down,” she yelled. “I don’t give a flying fuck about the nicknames. You lied to me,” she told him, hurt visible in her turquoise blue eyes. “And you lied to Alice,” I definitely, definitely did not like it when her eyes were fixed on me.

 

“How?” my voice came out broken, just like I was feeling. I was sure she was going to tell Alice tonight, and I wouldn’t even get a chance to say goodbye to her before she was out of my life forever.

 

“Full moons. Every single time. Sirius’ wounds. James’ gash on his face. Wolves howling in the school grounds,” she counted these things off with her fingers. “And, I know you are animagi,” she added.

 

That, we weren’t expecting. That she had realized I was a werewolf wasn’t that strange. She was very smart, and anyone paying attention could tell. After all, it was every full moon, like she had pointed out. But the boys?

 

“How?” this time, it was James’ turn to sound somewhere between scared and amazed.

 

“Because she is one, too,” I turned towards Padfoot so quickly I it was a miracle I didn’t get whiplash.

 

“WHAT?” James was looking from Jo to Sirius, back to Jo, to him again.

 

“You are an asshole,” she said, staring at Padfoot. “You and I will have words, privately. Don’t expect to survive them.”

 

“What did you want me to do? Confront you about it?” he put his hands up in a pacifying gesture. Not sure that was a good idea, Jocelyn was beyond pacifying right now.

 

“You were fucking spying on me!”

 

“I was not, it was by chance”

 

“Why didn’t you say anything!?” she yelled at him.

 

“It was clear you didn’t want anyone to know. I figured if you wanted to, you’d tell me” he replied.

 

“I had my reasons!”

 

“So did I,” this conversation had gone from scary to confusing in a millisecond. James looked rather puzzled himself as they went back and forth, keeping us all out of it rather effectively.

 

“I thought you were a stray dog!”

 

“Why does it matter? I figured you’d appreciate the company,” he gave her a smile so charming Jocelyn faltered.

 

“When did you find out?” she asked in a small voice.

 

“Keeping a mandrake leaf in your mouth for a month is a real bitch,” he replied, shrugging. She considered this for a moment.

 

“True. I think I know when you did it, too,” she replied. I noticed she did, somehow, appear a bit calmer. Sirius was like a balm to this woman, it was uncanny.

 

“Excuse me! How did you know? Why did you not tell me?” Prongs wasn’t happy. I had a feeling he wasn’t going to like the answer.

 

“She didn’t want you to know, mate,” Padfoot replied. And, there it was. James looked like he might punch Sirius.

 

“And she’d want you to know? Why is that? I’m her boyfriend, Padfoot, not you.”

 

The silence in the room was so thick you could have cut it with a pair of scissors. Sirius and James glowered at each other, Jocelyn looked rather panicked before she spoke again.

 

“This isn’t about me,” she took back control of the situation quickly. “This is about you. You lot. You are illegal animagi, and you, you are a werewolf,” when she said it, I realized with a jolt there was no disgust in her voice. She had just stated a fact, like someone says ‘it’s snowing’.

 

“And you lied to me. You are my friends and you, you are my boyfriend, and you didn’t tell me. And you,” she looked at me again. This had to stop, it was terrifying, “you haven’t told Alice.”

 

“I know” I looked down, guilty and miserable.

 

“She won’t care, Moony,” she said. “But she’ll care you didn’t trust her enough; you didn’t know her enough to realise that. It’s going to break her heart that you thought she’d leave you over something like this.”

 

Nobody knew what to say for a long while. When she marched us into our room and told us she had figured it out, the last thing I expected was her being angry at us for lying and not for the lies themselves. She was angry at me because I was going to cause Alice pain, not because she thought I was some sort of monster. She was angry because she felt exactly how she said Alice would feel.

 

“It’s not their fault” I said, finally. “It wasn’t their secret to tell. You can’t blame them”

 

“Padfoot wanted to tell you,” we all stared at Peter. He hadn’t spoken until now. He shrugged before adding “it’s true. He wanted to tell you the truth for ages, but he didn’t dare asks us for permission.”

 

“How do you know that?” James asked Peter.

 

“He wanted to tell her everything. She knows about the map, the cloak, the kitchens, the passages. But he didn’t know how to tell her he’s an animagus without dragging everyone else into it,” he replied casually. Sirius looked pale as ever.

 

“What cloak?” she asked.

 

“Uhm…” Prongs shifted uncomfortably.

 

“Oops” Peter realized his mistake. Jo didn’t actually know about the cloak yet.

 

“I have an invisibility cloak,” Prongs said.

 

“What?”

 

“I’ll show it you in a sec”

 

“I couldn’t tell you about it, the cloak is Prongs’ not mine,” said Sirius.

 

“I get it,” said Jo, looking at Sirius. They locked eyes for a second and I felt a growing sense of foreboding in my gut. This was not good.

 

“Sorry.” Sirius said. “No matter how close we are now, Remus had to come first. Always. I’m sorry”

 

“So am I,” Prongs chimed in. Jocelyn sighed.

 

“I get it. I just wished you’d known me better. What did you think I was going to say? It’s not Remus’ fault he was bitten,” she said, coming over and sitting next to James.

 

“Thank you” I said, from the bottom of my heart.

 

“Don’t thank me yet. You still have to tell Alice,” she gave me a pitiful look that had nothing to do with my lycanthropy and said “but I’ll help you, so she forgives you quickly. Then, you can help me”

 

I nodded.

 

“Now, I know Sirius is a dog. Don’t even think I’ve forgiven you for stalking me like that, you’ve got some serious groveling to do,” she told him. Then, she turned to James and Peter. “What about you?”

 

“How about we go all in and just show you?” Prongs said, his eyes shining. I knew he wanted to make it up to her.

 

“Alright. Let’s go” she stood up, smiling for the first time.

 

“Wait, we’ll need to take turns. It’s past curfew, there’s patrols tonight” Peter said mischievously. He took out the map, and Padfoot pulled Prong’s cloak out of his trunk.

 

“Consider this your christening, Jo. You’re now officially a marauder”



Chapter 17: Summer loving
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Jocelyn’s POV

 

The next morning, I woke up feeling like I could take on the world. I loved my friends. Last night had been so awesome I was still vibrating with excitement. It all made sense, and it was wonderful. I was also mildly alarmed at the revelation that the boys could come up the girls’ staircase, contrary to what everyone thought, because animals didn’t trigger the slide mechanism. And I just had a horrible suspicion they’d used that cloak of Prongs’ a few times up here.

 

“You look like you ate a rotten nut” Peter informed me. That got my attention back to our breakfast.

 

“Disturbing thoughts sometimes plague my mind” I replied waving my arms around me in a silly impression of our Divination teacher. They laughed.  

 

“It’s the last visit to Hogsmeade of the year today, how are going to make it memorable?” asked Sirius. I was still confused about the feelings that realizing he’d known about my animagus transformation produced in me. I didn’t feel the things I thought I should be feeling: embarrassed, creeped or weirded out. Instead, I felt strangely flattered and grateful that he’d watched over me and kept me company, even though I didn’t know it. It was confusing.

 

“I, as newly appointed marauder, would like to suggest you let me plan the end of year prank with you” I whispered. “For which I think a visit to Zonko’s is in order”

 

“We should have come clean to her ages ago,” Peter had been become a firm supporter of mine in the space of 12 hours.

 

“I think that sounds good. I also think that we should show you the Shack,” said Moony.

 

“Only if you show it to Alice too” he paled.

 

“No, no way”

 

“Remus” I gave him a pointed look.

 

“I can’t exactly tell her in there. It’s an awful place”

 

“Exactly. Ugh, men. Listen to me, you moron, Alice adores you. She’s going to be hurt you didn’t trust her enough to tell her. She’s going to realize I made you tell her, which isn’t going to help” I explained. “However, you’ve got a big chance she’ll overlook these things if you let her see how horrible this is for you”

 

“I think that sounds a bit like emotional blackmail” Padfoot commented.

 

“It is. Girls use it all the time. It works wonders” I informed him. Remus sighed.

 

“Are you absolutely sure this is going to work?”

 

“I am 90 per cent sure. Can’t guarantee it though, but all other ideas are on the 50 to 60%% will work range, so your choice” I shrugged. He groaned.

 

“Fine, we take Alice to the Shack”

 

“What are we going to do about Lily?” Sirius asked. I had noticed they’d got quite close recently. I hoped Lily wasn’t crushing on Sirius. The mental image of Sirius and Lily wasn’t one I liked in the slightest. He was too much of a player for her, that wouldn’t end well, I told myself.

 

“Lily has a date today. She’s not coming with us”

 

“Oh, who’s she going with?” Peter asked, always interested in gossip.

 

“Ken”

 

“Ken? Your Ken?” Sirius asked me. James made a face and an ugly noise at that.

 

“Excuse me, there’s no such thing as ‘her Ken’” I laughed and smiled at him. He winked at me.

 

Alice and Lily joined us at the table a bit after that. When breakfast was over, we went to get ready. Lily waved goodbye and went to meet Ken, a happy smile on her lips. Alice and I met the Marauders and decided to walk to Hogsmeade, since the weather was beautiful, and we weren’t in a hurry. If Alice wasn’t as innocent and oblivious to everything as she was, she would have known something was up. Remus couldn’t stop fidgeting.

 

We went to Zonko’s, bought some supplies, and left quickly. We stopped at Honeydunkes to get some chocolate, and then, we told Alice we had something to show her. She protested a little at not visiting the Three Broomsticks one last time before the year was over, but I promised her this was way more important. She trusted me, she always did.

 

“Where, exactly are we going?” she asked after a little while.

 

“Don’t freak out” I said.

 

“You saying that makes me freak out” she replied, looking at Remus for support. “Babe, what’s going on?”

 

“Trust me? Please?” he asked. She couldn’t say no to that.

 

A couple of minutes later, standing outside the Shrieking Shack, she was almost shaking with fear.

 

“Why are we here?” she whispered.

 

“There’s something you need to know” I told her. “But we have to go inside”

 

“No. No, no, no. No way. Absolutely not” she said, backing away.

 

“Alice. For Godric’s sake, do you really think I’d take you somewhere dangerous?” I asked her. She considered this for a moment.

 

“How do you know it’s not, though? Everyone says it’s haunted”

 

“I’ve been there before” I lied. It was a white lie, for a good cause.

 

“You have? Are you insane? Scratch that, you are insane, everyone knows that”

 

“But still perfectly fine. Seriously Alice, trust me” I grabbed her hand and walked towards the Shack. The boys followed us quietly.

 

James guided us to the side that was furthest away from the path and completely concealed from the village. Then, he expertly pulled aside a bunch of wooden planks to reveal a small space. I went in first, hoping Alice would follow. Thankfully, she did.

 

“What is this place?” she asked. I had no answer to that, so I let Remus take over.

 

“This is an abandoned house like any other. Except I come here, because it’s best for everyone” he said. Alice looked at him in confusion. “Alice, there’s something I need to tell you. But please, please know that I am still me. I am still Remus. I still love you”

 

“Please tell me you don’t come here to cheat on me” she whispered in horror. I actually face-palmed myself.

 

“ALICE! Listen to him, please” I said. Sirius and James gave me a bit of a funny look.

 

“I have never, and would never, cheat on you, Alice. I come here because… well… when I was a boy, when I was four years old, I was bitten by Fenrir Greyback” he whispered. The silence that followed was the most awkward and horrible of my life.

 

“I know” Alice said.

 

“I promis… what?” we all stared at her.

 

“I know, Remus. I’m not the smartest witch in school, but I pay attention to you. To everything you do, and to when you do it. I wasn’t one hundred percent sure, but when you broke up with me and I heard Sirius was in the infirmary severely injured following an ‘animal attack in the forest’ I realized what it was” she took his face in her hands. “I just wanted to give you time to tell me on your own”

 

“I’m sorry”

 

“You have nothing to be sorry about. I can’t imagine how awful it must be for you, alone every full moon. I had no idea you came here, by the way, that part I was totally confused about…”

 

“He’s not alone” said James. I smiled at him. “We come with him”

 

“Actually, I have been dying to ask all this time” Alice said. “Why are you not also a werewolf now, Sirius? After he… well… you know what happened”

 

“Because animals don’t get lycanthropy” he replied, smiling.

 

“Animals?” and, just because they couldn’t help themselves, all three of them transformed at once. Alice let out a shriek and they transformed back, laughing loudly.

 

#

 

Jocelyn’s POV

 

I never really liked summer. Leaving Hogwarts made me sad. Except this year, I was actually looking forward to it. We had planned it to perfection, meaning we were only going to be away from the boys for a grand total of four days (minus Peter, who had to spend some time with his aging mother and would miss part of the fun). It was day two of our holiday, and I had Lily and Alice staying over at my place in London before we all headed to my parents’ villa in the south of France.

 

Lily, Alice and I were enjoying a cool drink in the Oaks Inn after a long day of intense shopping in London. We had bought bikinis, beach dresses and what Alice referred to as ‘going out clothes’ to last us a decade. It had felt good.

 

“Jo?” I recognized his voice immediately. I turned to find Jax with two of his mates.

 

“Hi” I said a bit shyly. He walked over to the table and smiled at Lily and Alice.

 

“I don’t think we’ve met”

 

“We go to school with Jo” said Alice. “Nice to meet you, I’m Alice”

 

“Lily”

 

“I’m Jax”

 

“Oh, we know” I was going to murder Lily. Slowly and painfully.

 

“You do?” he smiled his cheeky smile and turned to me. “We should catch up, when you’re free”

 

“I… that would be nice, but I’m actually going to be travelling for most of the summer. Lils and Alice are here because we’re travelling together” I said. He shrugged and nodded, obviously disappointed.

 

“Okay, well, enjoy your summer. It was good to see you”

 

“It was good to see you, too” I waved at him and I saw him and his mates leave the pub. He probably didn’t want to be around me.

 

“He is even better looking in person” said Alice. I rolled my eyes.

 

“Doesn’t he remind you of someone?” Lily asked me, a strange look in her eyes.

 

“Of course he does, he looks…”

 

“Not you, Alice. I meant Jo” Lily butted in before Alice could finish her sentence.

 

“Dark and handsome? There’s a bunch of Hollywood actors he reminds me of,” I said. Lily chuckled.

 

“Anyway, talking about boyfriends, how are you feeling about James?” Alice asked me.

 

“Same” I said, truthfully. “Still great, but not…”

 

“Epic” they both said at the same time. I smiled sheepishly.

 

“I think you need to let him know, Jo. You deserve epic” Alice said solemnly. This had become her thing. She said this exact line to me every time she got a chance.

 

“I don’t want to ruin his summer. I think I will tell him when we’re back in school. He’ll be a seventh year, newly single and heartbroken. I bet there’ll be queues of girls dying to help him forget” I said.

 

“The fact that you can say that and not feel jealous about it just proves you don’t really see him that way” Lily informed me.

 

“Hey, maybe you can date him” I joked. She laughed.

 

“Yeah, thanks but no thanks. A friend’s ex is just that, a friend’s ex”

 

“I wouldn’t mind” I shrugged but didn’t say anything else. Lily had had years to go out with James if she wanted to. It was clear she wasn’t interested.

 

James’ POV

 

Jo’s parents’ place in the south of France was a dream. The villa was huge. It had six rooms, two swimming pools, more bathrooms than anyone would ever need and a huge garden. It was also surrounded by a very convenient, very high wall. We arrived via the floo network and a house elf greeted us. He took us to our rooms – I was sharing with Jo, Remus with Alice, and everyone else had one to themselves – and we changed into our swimming trunks. The elf informed us the girls were by the main pool, and we were in a hurry to join them.

 

I walked out on the wooden deck and immediately spotted Lily’s fiery red hair. I wondered if Jo would think badly of me if she knew my eyes still went to her automatically every time I walked into the same space. I just couldn’t help it, I guess years of habit are hard to break. Peter was already running madly towards the pool, getting ready to jump in and splash them all. Moony was hot on his heels. I laughed, expecting Padfoot to join in, but looked around when he didn’t. He was still standing by the glass door we’d come through.

 

“You alright, mate?”

 

“Yeah, just taking it all in. It’s quite an impressive villa” this sounded strange coming from him. He wasn’t an ‘admiring the view’ type of guy. He was a ‘live in the moment and do a mad rush for the pool’ kind of person. Plus, he was a Black. He’d seen bigger houses, I was sure of it.

 

“Are you sure?” I walked over to where he was standing.

 

“Yes, yes. Let’s go” he smiled and ran towards the pool. Confused, I turned to follow him and noticed that from where he had been standing Jocelyn was directly in his line of sight.

 

I hurried over to her and gave her a quick kiss on the lips.

 

“Hello! Want to join us in the pool?” I asked. She shook her head, smiling.

 

“You guys go on, I’ve already been in twice”

 

“That is the worst excuse I ever heard in my life” Moony jumped out of the pool and ran over to us. Before I had time to react, he scooped Jocelyn up in his arms and ran back to the water, jumping in with a protesting Jo.

 

I laughed, hard. Jo, once she emerged, started laughing too. The rest of the week went on pretty much like that. We played quidditch, lounged by the pool, ate amazing food and just had fun together. Even though we were sharing a bed and a room, Jo and I didn’t find much time to be alone, but I didn’t mind and it seemed as if Jo didn’t either. We loved being with our friends. When the time came to say goodbye to the amazing villa, we wanted to be sad about it but, since it was the Quidditch World Cup we were going to, we couldn’t really find it in ourselves. Plus, Jo promised we could come back all together next summer after graduation again.

 

We flooed to my parent’s flat in Paris and the house elves helped us swap stuff out of our luggage (swimming trunks and t-shirts weren’t that useful in the forest). We got the portkey to the arena they had built for this year’s cup and landed right outside our allocated tent spaces. My parents had really, really gone all out for me, and I loved them for it. They had secured us a fantastic spot and two majestic tents. After some discussion, it was decided that Jo and I would take the biggest one to share with Peter and Lily, and Sirius would share with Remus and Alice.

 

The quidditch world cup was mad. Jo and Sirius ran around like crazy people asking players for autographs and taking photos non-stop. They bought about a million mementos and got so worked up over the games it took ages to calm them down after every single one. Lily even had to brew Jo an emergency potion to help her recover her voice after she pretty much ripped apart her vocal cords shouting indecencies during the game against Poland.

 

When England won the match that put us in the final, Jocelyn literally jumped on Padfoot, locking her legs around his waist, and they both started dancing and celebrating in joy. It occurred to me, not for the first time, that they made the perfect couple. For some reason, that made me glance at Lily and found, to my utter surprise, that she was looking at me, too. She quickly glanced away, but I knew what I’d seen. Was it possible that Lily Evans was interested in me after all the years I spent futilely chasing after her?

 

Jocelyn’s POV

 

England lost the Quidditch World Cup, and my soul hurt. Luckily for me, Sirius had a bottle of that muggle whiskey we liked so much. We all gathered in the bigger tent and decided to drown our sorrows in alcohol.

 

“Jo, isn’t your birthday in a couple of weeks?” asked Peter.

 

“It is. In two and a half weeks. 14th of August” I told them.

 

“What do you want to do?” James asked me.

 

“Doesn’t really matter, I’m happy I get to spend it with all of you”

 

“What did you do last year?” Sirius was preparing a round of shots. The guy was a danger to be around. Bad influence.

 

“Jax and his friends threw me a party”

 

“I had forgotten Jax” James said.

 

“We met him” Lily volunteered. I rolled my eyes.

 

“You did?”

 

“Yeah, he walked into the pub where we were having drinks after our shopping spree” Alice said. James, Lily and Alice exchanged a very strange look. I had the feeling there was something I was missing but I didn’t have the energy to figure it out. Not today, at least. We had just lost the final, I was grieving.

 

“Shots!” I yelled. Everyone got excited at that. I took my glass and we got ready to down them. Sirius was looking at me, and I knew he remembered. I winked at him and we both tapped our glasses on the floor before drinking.

 

“You guys are so weird” said Peter.

 

“Crap, I totally forgot about that” James said at the same time.

 

“No big deal”

 

I didn’t think of the strange way Lily looked at Sirius, then at me. I was too busy pouring out some more shots. 

 

**

 

James’ house was not a house. James’ house a manor. It was early in the morning and I knew everyone else was sleeping so I took the chance to go for a run. I didn’t even need to leave the manor, a few laps around the grounds would do the trick. That’s how big this house was.

 

I walked back into the kitchen feeling high on endorphins. James was leaning on the counter, lost in thought. I took a second to watch him before making my presence known to him. He was so handsome, so loyal, such a good person. He didn’t deserve to be in a relationship with someone who would much rather just be his friend.

 

“Hey” I said, approaching him.

 

“Nice run?”

 

“Very”

 

“Coffee?”

 

“Yes, please” I grabbed the mug he was offering me and took a second to gather my courage. “James, I think we need to talk”

 

If he was surprised he didn’t show it. Instead, he smiled sweetly and said “I think we do”

 

“The thing is, and hear me out first, please, we are good together. We get along so well, and you are like the perfect boyfriend and I think you are super hot...”

 

“But this isn’t really working, is it?” I felt my mouth open and close in shock a few times. He felt it, too?

 

“You... you think so?”

 

“I do” I felt like a massive weight had been lifted off my shoulders.

 

“I was so worried, I didn’t want to hurt you. James, I do love you, you know that?”

 

“I do. And I love you, too. And the reason we can say it now, when we haven’t been able to in over six months of dating is because we mean it as friends” he grabbed my hand and pulled me into a hug.

 

“I don’t regret it, though. Any second of it. I did, and still do, fancy you. You are gorgeous and sexy and fun, and one half of my favorite beater team of all times” he continued. I smiled up at him from where I was snuggled against his chest. “But I think our relationship was never going to go anywhere else”

 

“I agree. And I don’t regret it, either. I won’t tell you again how awesome you are for fear of your head finally exploding unable to contain your ego, but you get me” I joked. He laughed deeply.

 

“So, friends?”

 

“Hell, yeah. I mean it Prongs” I loved using their nicknames, like I was indeed part of their secret cult. “You aren’t getting rid of me, we just aren’t romantically involved anymore. You and Padfoot are my bestest friends in the world”

 

“What about Lily and Alice?”

 

“I’ve promoted them to the sister category, so best friend spots were vacant” I winked at him and he laughed, giving me a hug.

 

“I wouldn’t have it any other way, Josie”

 

I untangled myself from James’ embrace and walked over to the fridge to make myself some breakfast. It was then that I saw the newspaper headline. ‘Dark Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters claim responsibility for terror’. I stopped dead.

 

“James” I whispered. “Have you seen this?”

 

“What?” he came over and I pointed at the headline, picking up the newspaper.

 

“They were right. McGonagall and Dumbledore were right”


“Explain” he said.

 

“Didn’t you wonder how I am still unregistered even though I became an animagus under McGonagall’s tutelage?”

 

“The thought did cross my mind, I just thought they waited until you graduated or something. I have no idea what the procedure is, you know” he smiled.

 

“She didn’t want me to register because she thought it might make me a target” I whispered.

 

“They knew about this… ehm… Lord Voldemort?”

 

“She said they were suspicious, that they though a dark wizard might be on the rise”

 

“What does the article say? What do they want?”

 

“Some blood purity bullshit. Someone should tell these guys that race supremacy movements don’t tend to end well. You can ask any muggle” I said with concern.

 

“I’m starting to think this is way more serious than any of us thought” James sighed.

 

“We just need to make sure we keep Lily safe. She’s the only muggle-born in our group” he nodded solemnly.

 

That was the first time we heard the name ‘Lord Voldemort’. It would not be the last.



Chapter 18: The first wizarding war
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Sirius’ POV

 

Something was off. I had noticed that since the start of the vacation Prongs and Jocelyn hadn’t really spent a lot of time on their own, and they didn’t touch much in that way in general, but today they were just acting strange. So, as the girls went to get ready for dinner, I pulled Prongs into a room with Moony and Wormtail.

 

“Alright, have you been fighting with Jo?” I asked him as soon as the door was shut.

 

“What? No, of course not”

 

“We think you have”

 

“I really haven’t”

 

“Then what is going on with you two? And don’t say nothing, we all agree you two are acting a bit strange” Moony jumped in. Thank you!

 

“Ah, well, we broke up”

 

I felt as if a rug had been pulled from under my feet. No. No, no, no. This couldn’t be happening. It was hard enough staying away from her and pushing my feelings for her away when she was his girlfriend. I couldn’t endure the torture of her being available to everyone but me. Absolutely not.

 

“What!? Why? No, you can’t, you have to fix it” I said.

 

“We’re better off as friends. Don’t worry, she’s okay with it” Prongs was so casual about this.

 

“But it’s going to be awkward now! What about our little group? What about the team, Prongs? Think about the team!” Moony was starting to look strangely at me but panic was quickly building in my chest. I didn’t feel like I was very in control of my actions or my words.

 

“Nothing is going to change. We’re friends, good ones, actually. She’ll be around just as much. And that girl loves Quidditch too much, even if it had been a dramatic breakup, which it totally wasn’t, it still wouldn’t interfere with the team” I wanted to strangle him. A part of my brain tried to signal to me to calm down, James didn’t know what he was doing to me, but I was past calm, logical thinking.

 

“What happens when you date someone else!? How are you going to expect her to just be in the same group? What is wrong with you?!” Okay, I was losing it. Moony’s expression scared me even more than the situation and I knew I had to leave or risk telling them the truth. “Whatever, I hope you know what you’re doing, mate”

 

I walked out of the room, out of the house and just kept walking. I didn’t come back until it was well past midnight, and everyone had gone to bed.

 

“Sirius” well, not everyone clearly.

 

“Red, what are you doing here?” The kitchen was dark, so I hadn’t seen her sat on the counter at first.

 

“I’ve been waiting for you to come back”

 

“You didn’t need to do that”

 

“I am worried about you”

 

“I’ll be fine” I scoffed. She made a noise and I rolled my eyes in the darkness “Yeah, yeah ‘Sirius, you are a bad liar’ I know what you’re going to say. There’s nothing I can do, Red”

 

“Well, I think you should wait a couple of months and then tell James the truth” she said.

 

“Are you mad? We have a strict rule about these things, and we have it for good reason”

 

“I think James will understand” she sighed. “If you wait a bit to tell him, of course. Not right now”

 

“It isn’t going to help the situation. Doesn’t matter if I tell James, Jocelyn doesn’t feel the same way so what’s the point? No, thanks, I know you’re trying to help. But no. And I don’t really feel like talking about it anymore” I stormed out of the kitchen feeling like the universe was playing some huge prank on me and wondering if I’d ever feel okay again.

 

Jocelyn’s POV

 

I told the girls I had some news as soon as we were alone in our room. I felt a bit weird about it. It was good to know I hadn’t hurt James, but I was also mildly alarmed about it. It was the second time I had an ‘amicable’ break up. Did this mean I was just not that lovable? Jax had been a bit upset, but not too much. James had pretty much broken up with me on his own. Was it me? Was there something wrong with me?

 

“Are you okay?” Lily asked me.

 

“What?”

 

“You came in to tell us something, but have been standing there for a full two minutes. What’s up?”

 

“Ah, sorry. Well, James and I broke up” I informed them calmly.

 

“Oh, and… well… are you okay?” Lily asked again.

 

“I am, actually. I feel good, kind of, I think. James and I just weren’t meant to be together that way. No, I think it’s best this way. Now, we can focus on being friends” I replied, picking out a dress to wear to dinner.

 

“Well, that’s it then. Now you are free to find your epic” Alice’s eyes shone with a dreamy look.

 

“Do you think he’s out there, for me?” I wasn’t sure myself.

 

“I know he is” she said. Lily smiled to herself and nodded. “I think so, too”

 

The next two days were a bit strange, but it had nothing to do with the fact James and I were no longer together. For undisclosed reasons, Sirius and James were fighting. They tried to act like it was nothing, but I could feel they were both hurting. I could also tell Remus was getting desperate in his attempts to repair the rift between his two friends.

 

That afternoon we had gone to London together. Peter was home with his mother for the next few days, and we had decided to spend some time like muggles did, just for fun. We were all by St. Paul’s. I had told them how much I loved the walk between Tower Bridge and Westminster, and they had agreed to do it. It was a pleasant summer evening. The 7th of August 1977.

 

We had stopped to get a good look at the beautiful cathedral when it started. One minute everything was okay, the next there was noise, chaos and fear. An explosion nearby sent a cloud of rubble flying, and we realized in horror that this was a magical attack. Spells started flying in all directions whilst confused and terrified muggles ran hopelessly trying to get to safety.

 

The second explosion, just a few seconds after the first one, hit directly above us. My first thought was ‘Lily’ but I saw James had already overcome his shock and was next to her, wand in hand and ready. My second thought was ‘Alice’. I shouldn’t have worried; Remus was standing in front of her in a protective stance and had a shield charm up. It was only then that I realized that Sirius was holding me. When had that happened? His face was determined, and he was gripping his wand. I took mine out too. I needed to protect my friends.

 

“We have to get out of here” he said. I nodded.

 

We ran towards our friends using shielding spells to deflect flying debris and random curses. It was obvious we weren’t the target of this attack, we were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. I refrained from counterattacking in the hopes it would help us slip away undetected and unharmed.

 

“Let’s go, this way” James and Lily took off. I grabbed Alice’s hand and, with Remus and Sirius at our heels, we followed them.

 

The third explosion sent us flying. Alice and I in one direction, Remus and Sirius the other. I lost hold of Alice’s hand in the air, then crashed painfully on the hard concrete floor. Debris and dust fell all around us. I pulled myself up, coughing and panting.

 

“Alice, you okay?” I turned to her. She was nodding, standing up without her wand. It was a few feet away from her.

 

She motioned with her head to indicate to me she was going to get it and I nodded. One minute she was there, and then she wasn’t. Before I could ask what was wrong, Alice jumped away from her wand and towards me, and tackled me out of the way. A red curse hit the wall next to us. I landed on the floor again and felt my wrist crack painfully but I noted with relief I was otherwise fine.

 

“Thanks Alice” I turned towards her.

 

The world slipped out from under me.

 

Alice was lying on the floor, half buried by the rubble where the curse had hit the wall.

 

“No, no, no, no, please no

 

I threw myself on the floor by her side, painfully ripping up my jeans and skinning my knees. I didn’t care. I couldn’t care because Alice, my sister Alice, was breathing with difficulty.

 

“Jo” she said weakly.

 

“No. Don’t speak. You’re going to be fine, I’m going to get you help”

 

Alice shook her head a little. Tears filled my eyes and I couldn’t stop them from spilling. I felt as if I was falling, falling and falling with nothing and no one to catch me. I took her hand. It was limp, like it didn’t belong to my lovely friend Alice who was so full of life and joy and wonder and love for everyone and everything.

 

“Alice why did you do that? My life isn’t worth your own. Alice, it should be you, you need to live, you are light, and I am… well, I’m me. The world is a better place with you in it. Oh, God, Alice, why?”

 

She just smiled at me, a tired look overtaking her features. I panicked.  “Alice, you can’t give up. I’m gonna get you help, you’ll be fine...”

 

“Jo, it’s too late” she said weakly. Then she smiled at me again. I felt sick but I couldn’t move, I couldn’t do anything. “You needed to live, Jo. You always give yourself and your time to others. You’ll be a great witch and help make the world a better place” I shook my head, crying.

 

“I can’t do it without you. I can’t, you can’t leave me alone”

 

“You won’t be. You have Lils, and the guys. And, most importantly, Jo, you will find your epic. Tell Remus he was mine, for me, will you? Tell him how much I love him, and that I am sorry, but I had to save you. And remember, please remember, Jo, that you deserve those fireworks”

 

And with one last loving look, Alice’s blue eyes shut forever.

 

They found me there, among the rubble, covered in dust and dirt. I was still holding her hand, and silent tears were falling down my face. I didn’t make a sound. I thought if I tried, I’d break and never be able to put myself back together. I didn’t know how long I had been there, nor did I care. I didn’t care about anything. The only thing that mattered was my pain. I thought I felt something move and then Remus was there, shouting and sobbing and shouting some more but I couldn’t hear him. It felt as when you’re underwater: everything is distorted and muffled.  

 

Some time later, I do not know how much, someone put their hands gently on my shoulders and got me to stand up. Alice’s hand slipped from mine and I felt like a piece of me had been torn from my body. I tried to reach for her again, but a strong arm held me in place. I felt myself violently sob against the hard body that was holding me, and I held on to it instead for fear of losing myself in my grief.

 

The next hours or so I watched as if I had been disembodied. I saw them levitate Alice from under the rubble and stared with a sort of detachment as her dirty hair fell all around her. I thought ‘that’s not Alice, it can’t be. Her hair is always shinny’. I saw Remus in bits, standing with Lily who was also crying inconsolably. James was trying his best to make them feel better, but I knew. There was no feeling better and, in that moment, it felt as if there never would be.

 

“Jo, we need to get you to a healer” I recognized the voice as Sirius’. He was looking at my arm. I vaguely recalled getting hurt but I couldn’t really feel any pain. Physical pain, that is. My soul was shredded.

 

I would never be able to remember clearly what happened after. There were questions, lots of questions but I had no answers or voice. Someone fixed my broken wrist and checked me twice over. I drank a bitter potion. Remus was forced to choke down one, too. I heard shouts and people crying, and then, I was somehow back at the Potters’.

 

I looked around, feeling confused. I didn’t know how we’d got here. Why was it crowded? My parents, and Remus’ were there, and they were fawning all over us. Lily was crying, James was holding her and looking over at me with a concerned expression on his face. I noticed then that I was sat on someone’s lap. Sirius’. As I shifted my weight slightly, he tried to move and put me on the sofa. I couldn’t stand it.

 

“Don’t. Please, don’t let go” I whispered, holding on to his shirt with all the strength I had and looking into his silver eyes. My voice was so frail, so weak, it was a wonder he heard me, but he did. He nodded and adjusted his position again so I was more comfortable. There was a buzzing sound, like a fly was trapped inside my head. It was driving me crazy. I realized that it was my mother hovering over us, flapping her arms in an unattractive manner and saying some things I couldn’t really hear.

 

“Get me out of here, please” I begged of the owner of the grey eyes that were my anchor to the world as it seemed to crumble around me. He nodded and, without a word to me, or to my mother, or anyone else in the room, carried me out in his arms.

 

He took me to the back door at the edge of the huge garden that surrounded James’ house. We exited the Potters’ property and wandered into the small forest behind it. Sirius sat us down against a big tree. He hadn’t said a word, and I was eternally grateful for it.

 

In the quiet of the forest, and in Sirius’ embrace, I found I could think clearly for the first time since Alice had died in my arms. I had never lost anyone before, but I had read enough novels to know that I wasn’t going to get over it any time soon. I had to go through grief, and give myself fully to it, wherever that may lead me. Next, I thought that the world was even more unfair than I thought it was. Alice was a vibrant soul, full of light and goodness. She didn’t deserve to die. She wasn’t supposed to die. She had been collateral damage. All of a sudden, there was something else in my heart besides the pain. I was angry.

 

“I am angry” I said to no one in particular.

 

“So am I” Sirius replied. I looked at him. There wasn’t much more to say, so I resumed my quiet thinking.

 

I knew the world would never ever be the same now that Alice wasn’t in it. I wondered how Remus was going to make it through. I also wondered if I was being selfish, leaving him and the rest of our friends to fend for themselves but I didn’t feel like I could talk to them about it. Not yet. They didn’t know that Alice was dead because of me. All those years of being her friend and having her back, defending her when people started rumors about her promiscuity, helping her when her grades were falling too low, all of the protecting I thought I had done for her and she had died protecting me instead. I couldn’t bear it.

 

“She died because of me” I told Sirius. I wasn’t sure why, but I felt like he wouldn’t hate me, or judge me, or blame me. Not like Remus or Lily would if I said this to them.

 

“Do you want me to talk or do you want me to listen?” he asked.

 

“Listen” he nodded, and I continued. “It was supposed to be me, Sirius. Alice pushed me out of the way and didn’t make it. I know it is silly, but I have always felt like I had to protect them. And now, she’s gone because she protected me, instead”

 

At some point while I was talking, tears had started to fall down my face for about the millionth time today, but I didn’t care. “I asked her why. I told her my life wasn’t worth her own. Do you know what she said?” it was a rhetoric question and I didn’t expect him to say anything, but he surprised me.

 

“I do” I looked at him, and the confusion on my face must have inspired him to continue. “You don’t realise it Jo, but you touch people’s lives in a way very few can. You inspire everyone to be better, to help others like you do, to be brave and selfless like you are. I know exactly what Alice was thinking and what she felt when she decided to save you: it wasn’t a choice at all”

 

I was stunned. Until that moment, I had totally forgotten that Sirius had, indeed, risked his life once to save mine. I felt like I couldn’t breathe, and a strong wave of nausea surged. But, as I was about to either start screaming in terror at the thought that this might happen again to another friend or just pass out cold, Sirius spoke again.

 

“You need to accept that people are willing to put themselves on the line for you in the same way you wouldn’t hesitate to do it for them”

 

I stared at him, again.

 

“It’s not the same thing” I said, finally.

 

“Yes, it is, Jo. That’s what friends are for. They aren’t there just so you look after them, it is a two-way relationship. You can’t feel guilty for Alice saving you when you know very well you would have done the exact same thing for her. Would you have wanted her to feel like this, to feel guilty about it, if you had died saving her life?”

 

I had nothing to say to that. So, I just stayed silent, again. Sirius didn’t seem to mind. He continued to hold me, giving me time and space to sort through my thoughts, my grief, my pain.

 

“I already miss her so much, Sirius” I said after what felt like hours. “I don’t know how I’m going to go back to school. I can’t go back to our room, to our classes… I don’t even know how to carry on with my life”

 

“None of us do, Jo. We’ll have to learn” he held me a little bit tighter.

 

“Sirius”

 

“Yes?”

 

“I am going to kill Lord Voldemort”

 

History books would go on to say that the First Wizarding War officially started in 1971, but for me, for us, it started on the 7th of August 1977. I didn’t know how, but I was going to take Him down. I was going to rip him to pieces just like had me. He was going to learn my name and fear it. I was going to make sure of it.



Chapter 19: Downward spiral
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Jocelyn’s POV

 

Alice’s funeral was beautiful. Lily and I gave ourselves over fully to organizing it. It was our way of saying goodbye and thank you to Alice. We knew her best, and we wanted her farewell to reflect who she was. After the funeral, I cancelled the rest of the plans we had for the summer and went home alone. I had made James and Sirius promise they would look after Lily and Remus. Peter who’d come back as soon as he’d heard of the attack, had also promised me he’d do everything he could to help them get over Alice’s untimely death. They tried to persuade me to stay with them, they said grieving together made it easier, but I couldn’t.

 

The first couple of days I numbed the pain with insane workout drills. I ran until my legs gave up, I did James’ craziest conditioning circuits over and over again until I passed out or threw up. I smashed a bludger so hard I splintered my bat.

 

It soon became clear that exercising only worked while I was doing it, and my body couldn’t keep up with the rhythm. I needed another way to numb the pain, to forget. So, on my birthday, I headed to the Oaks Inn clad in a little black dress and enough eyeliner for an entire emo band.

 

“Jo?”

 

“Hey” I smiled at Jax my most seductive smile.

 

“I thought you were traveling” he said, sitting on the stool next to mine.

 

“I was. Last leg got cancelled” I informed him, emptying my glass and signaling to the bartender I wanted a refill.

 

“Are you okay?”

 

“Peachy” I smirked at him and leaned closer. “Have a drink with me?”

 

“Isn’t it your birthday today?”

 

“You are right, it is” the bartender poured me my drink and I saluted him. Jax was watching me with a mix of fascination and concern.

 

“Why are you on your own?”

 

“Waiting for the right company” I gave him my best seductive look.

 

“You’re a bit wild tonight, aren’t you?”

 

“You don’t know the half of it” I purred. Fascination was clearly winning the battle over Jax’s emotions. He moved closer.

 

“Want to show me?” he said suggestively.

 

I spent the rest of the summer in Jax’s bed. Well, not all of it, but for the most part. I also spent that time either severely hungover or drunk. Jax had figured out pretty quickly that this was some sort of self-destructive spiral I was going through but he was a horny 20 year old who had been, according to his friends, unable to stop thinking about me all year, so he was very happy to oblige and help me forget. Even if he had no idea what it was I needed forgetting so desperately.

 

The hours of the day I wasn’t having sex with Jax or getting drunk with Jax and his friends I was researching. Despite my head-splitting hangovers, I had collected an impressive folder of information on murders, disappearances and tortures by Lord Voldemort and his followers. I had also used my good relationship with my house elves to tap into their information network and heard rumours of a resistance movement called The Order of Phoenix. I didn’t know who they were yet, but I pretty much considered myself a member of their team already.

 

I had also gone through every book my parents had about DADA and dark arts in general, without the ‘defense against’ part, too. I practiced spell after spell, curse after curse, until my arms were hurting and my hangover receding. Those were usually my cues to put on some of my new slutty clothes and make up and head out to meet Jax.

 

By the time September 1st arrived I had a) acquired enough magical prowess to be a dangerous witch, b) learnt all there was to know about Lord Voldemort and c) successfully ignored every single letter my friends had sent me. I considered all these things great accomplishments.

 

“I wish you could just not go to school” Jax said. I looked at him and ran my finger across his naked chest. He’d got a lot of new tattoos in the year we’d been apart. I kind of liked it, I thought. Maybe I just liked everything dark and mysterious now. Who knew.

 

“Yeah, not feeling it this year” I said, rolling over and staring at the ceiling. We were in bed, it was early in the morning still but I should probably be home packing.

 

“Well, there’s always Christmas to look forward to” he leaned over me and kissed me. I kissed him back. Jax had been like a drug, a very effective drug. He’d kept me distracted and occupied so much I was now able to just numb the pain in my heart and operate as if it wasn’t there. The pain or just the heart altogether, I wasn’t sure.

 

“I suppose you’re right” I sighed and got out of his bed. I got dressed and waved goodbye to him. “See you in a few months”

 

Lily’s POV

 

I wasn’t sure I was ready to go back to school, but time waits for no one. I had spent most of the summer at the Potters’ with James, Sirius, Remus and Peter. Remus and I had spent close to two full weeks in the darkness of one room, leaving it only to use the bathroom. After that, we started feeling a bit better. We all knew it was going to take time to heal, but we were on the way. We also reminded ourselves that Alice, who was bright like the sun and loved life with a romanticism very few possessed, would have been outraged at us moping around all day. So, in her memory, we had agreed to making seventh year the best of our lives.

 

The only problem was Jo. She had not replied to any of our letters. Not even Sirius, who had been the only one who managed to coax words out of her after we found her by Alice’s body, got a response. Her parents had said the house elves kept a close eye on her and she was okay, but that was all we knew.

 

We arrived at platform 9 and ¾ with about half an hour to spare. I was not as excited as I usually was, but having made Head Girl did lift my spirits a little. I had almost fallen out of my chair at finding out that James was Head Boy, despite not having been a prefect, but Dumbledore knew what he was doing. And, I had to admit that sixth year had been radically different to the previous five. James was smart and had a very noble heart. So what if he was a little arrogant? He was good looking enough to justify most of his ego, anyway.

 

The boys took my luggage and went to find a compartment to share with them whilst I looked around the platform for our brunette friend. I couldn’t find her anywhere. They jumped back off the train and I joined them, shaking my head.

 

“Haven’t found her?” asked James.

 

“No, maybe she’s already on the train?” I shrugged.

 

“She’s not” Sirius looked like he had seen a ghost. We all turned and I understood full well why he looked like he was about to pass out.

 

Jocelyn, or someone who looked at lot like Jocelyn but at the same time didn’t, swaggered across the platform in a pair of extremely tight black jeans and a top with a deeper cleavage than some of my bras. Her hair was down, framing her face, and she wore black eyeliner and lip gloss. I had to admit she looked hotter than I had ever seen her, but it was just very odd. Jo didn’t bother with make up most days, and whilst she had a very good sense of fashion, she’d never been provocative before.

 

She saw us and waved a hand, coming over to us. “Hey” she said casually. I quickly realized the boys were too shocked to respond, so I did.

 

“I’ve been so worried about you” I hugged her. She returned the hug. I hadn’t noticed that I was worried she wouldn’t until she did. Thank Godric.

 

“I’m fine” she said. “Hey boys” she smiled at them. “We’re going to miss the train, hurry up”

 

And, with that, she jumped on the train. I had to snap my fingers a few times to break the boys out of their reverie. “You need to wipe your faces, you’re drooling” I said with irritation.

 

“What the fuck was that?” James’ face was a poem.

 

“That is Jo’s way of coping with what happened to Alice” I sighed. “If I’d known it’d be like this I wouldn’t have let her leave”

 

“Explain to me how showing her boobs to all of Hogwarts helps her cope with what happened to Alice, please. I don’t get it” Peter said. Sirius looked like he wanted to choke him.

 

“I’m guessing she’s been spending time with Jax” I replied, jumping onto the train. “And she was right, you know? The train is moving”

 

They scrambled to jump on. Jo acted more or less normal during the journey back to school, which I thought was a magnificent feat considering not even Remus could stop staring. And not precisely at her face. She pretended she didn’t notice.

 

Anyone would have been forgiven for thinking this was just a radical change to Jo’s sense of fashion but I knew better. She had shut herself down, put her heart in a proverbial box and thrown the key away. This was her version of a ‘femme fatale’ or an ice queen and I had a horrible feeling she wasn’t just dressing as one.

 

“I really want to know what you’ve been doing the past three weeks” I whispered as we walked up the stairs and into the castle. Now that our robes were on, the boys had finally managed to show some self-control and were currently plotting a prank to celebrate the start of their final year.

 

“Jax” she said, shrugging.

 

“What do… oh”

 

“Yeah, ‘oh’ pretty much sums it up” she joked. I turned bright red. Jo wasn’t one to comment on her sexual experiences very much. She had given us progress updates in terms of ‘I got to second base’ or ‘second base and a half’. She told us when she did it for the first time (with James) and that it had been very nice. But that was it. Jo didn’t make sexual jokes, or turned innocent comments into innuendos. 

 

“Right, well, and the rest of the time? Surely you weren’t… ehm… ‘oh-ing’ 24/7?”

 

“I was also getting drunk with Jax and his mates” she sat down. The boys joined us and I decided to drop this conversation until we were in private. I knew Sirius would be sulking for a week if he knew what Jo had been up to.

 

Dumbledore stood up and we all quieted down. He gave a touching speech about Alice that made me spill a few tears, and then he made the announcement that we had several new students joining various years. This was unexpected and out of the ordinary.

 

“I heard my parents discuss it. Everyone seems to think Hogwarts is one of the safest places to be. Apparently, Lord Voldemort is scared of Dumbledore” James whispered. That made Jo, who had been idly playing with her fork, finally pay attention.

 

“Yeah, a lot of parents petitioned Dumbledore to let their kids join Hogwarts and he couldn’t say no” Remus added. We had to be quiet because the Headmaster started talking again about sorting them in reverse order. New seventh years would go first. There were four or five.

 

We watched with curiosity as the first one was sorted into Ravenclaw and the second into Hufflepuff. Then, a tall, dark and handsome guy stood up and walked over to the hat. I had missed his name. Jo was eyeing him with interest. He reminded me of Jax a little. And of Sirius, of course. I wondered, not for the first time, if Jo knew she’d basically spent the month of August in bed with a clone of Sirius Black.

 

“GRYFFINDOR” everyone cheered and clapped. Not Jo. She was just watching him calmly. When he turned to walk towards our table, he noticed her. He came straight towards us.

 

“Mind if I sit here?” he asked. He had an accent that I couldn’t place.

 

“Welcome to Gryffindor, mate” said Sirius. “The best house in Hogwarts”

 

“Thanks. I’m Hardin, by the way” even though it had been Sirius who had welcomed him, he said this looking at Jocelyn.

 

“Jo” she replied, smiling at him.

 

“Lily!” I chimed in before any of the boys realized what was happening between these two. I was scandalized and they’d only looked at each other. I did not want to know what would happen if they were left alone.

 

Jocelyn’s POV

 

I knew Lily disapproved of what I was doing. She disapproved of my clothes, my hair, my make up and, above all, she disapproved of my attitude. I wanted to care, I really did, but I couldn’t. If I cared about one thing, I’d care about them all. I wasn’t ready.

 

The first few days of school were boring and painful. I was forced to stay sober, go to classes and hang out in the common room. Everyone seemed to be totally fine with the fact that Alice wasn’t there. They didn’t see her everywhere they looked, or hear her voice only to realize it had been in their head. By the time Saturday rolled around the choices were to drown myself in whiskey or jump out the Gryffindor Tower. I couldn’t disrespect Alice’s sacrifice by putting myself in mortal danger, so I opted for the first option.

 

Fortunately for me, it was tradition to have a start of the year party. I was almost done with my make up when Lily arrived in our room. She did a double take at my choice of attire but didn’t comment. I was wearing a short black dress and high heeled boots. The dress was tight but it was straight-cut so she couldn’t tell me of for excessive cleavage. I had put my hair up in a messy bun.

 

“What is that?” I turned to her and saw her eyes on my right shoulder.

 

“It’s for Alice” I said. Her eyes opened very wide and she rushed over to get a better look. I had got it with Jax, because Jax knew tattoos and tattoo artists. It was actually quite beautiful. I had got a small air nymph, because that’s what Alice reminded me of. Airy, happy, free, all things life should be but wasn’t because she was no longer in it.

 

“It is beautiful. I think she would have loved it” she said, looking away.

 

“I think so too” in a rare moment of weakness, I gave Lily a quick hug. Then, I realized what I was doing and pulled away. “Right, time to party”

 

She rolled her eyes and followed me out of the room. Dumbledore had been kind and allowed us to keep it to ourselves. He didn’t think we should be forced to share it with anyone for the last year. It would have been like replacing Alice, like she had never mattered, and both Lily and I had written to him to ask him not to make us go through that.

 

I went straight for the bar and poured myself a firewhiskey. Lily said something about checking in on some second years and disappeared. She was taking this Head Girl business rather seriously. I leaned on the bar and looked around. I saw the marauders walk in and waved at them. I found it hilarious that they were still shocked at my new style. Sirius in particular seemed to struggle with it a lot and I took sinister pleasure on the fact that after all these years, I could make Sirius Black nervous. Finally. 

 

“Hey, Jo” said Peter. The poor boy wasn’t able to talk to me without blushing furiously. I wanted to feel bad, but then again, I was currently firmly on the ‘no feelings’ wagon so that was that.

 

“Hey boys, how’s it going?”

 

“Great party!” Hardin materialized behind the marauders that moment.

 

“Hey, Hardin” I smiled at him. He smiled back. He was so hot. I had been worried I’d find it difficult to replace Jax once I was back in school, but unless things went very wrong, I had a feeling Hardin would do just as well, if not better, than Jax as a distraction.

 

“So, what do you usually do at these parties?” he asked.

 

“Drink, play games, that sort of thing” Remus said casually.

 

“I like the sound of that. Let’s play a game” Hardin suggested.

 

“Lead the way” I said, grabbing a firewhiskey bottle.

 

“Yes, ma’am” he pretended to bow and I giggled a little. Sirius grabbed my elbow and pulled me back.

 

“Jocelyn, what are you doing?”

 

“What does it look like?” ugh, just because he was my best friend didn’t give him the right to lecture me on choices. It’s not like he was a saint himself.

 

“I don’t think this is healthy”

 

“It’s a good thing I am not asking you, then” I said, twisting out of his hold and strutting after the boys.

 

A small crew gathered to play. There was some debate between ‘Truth or Dare’ and ‘Spin the bottle’. In the end, because nobody was in a couple anymore and we were all hormonal teenagers, ‘Spin the bottle’ won.

 

‘This should be interesting’ I thought.

 

Things started out hilarious when Remus had to kiss Sirius. They took it in a very manly way and did an ultra-quick, barely-there peck on the lips. I almost wet myself laughing. Then, Peter had to kiss a sixth year girl. Boring. Then, James’ turn was up and the bottle landed on me. He shrugged and walked over.

 

“Is it okay?” he asked me. I didn’t bother replying. It’s not like we hadn’t done it before. I kissed him, and I kissed him well. His eyes were dark when we broke the kiss and I knew exactly what he was thinking, more like remembering. I winked at him and sat back down.

 

Next, a sixth-year boy got the same girl as Peter had. Boring. Then Remus got a different sixth year girl. They kissed, also boring. Sirius got one of the fifth years, and she practically fainted. More boring. But then, it was Hardin’s turn. I had a feeling he had cheated, but I didn’t mind it one bit when he stood up to kiss me.

 

I thought my kiss with James had been a bit over the top for this game, not that I cared, but Hardin took no prisoners. He kissed me with the confidence of someone who knows what they’re doing, and that you like it. I was a bit breathless when we broke the kiss. The bottle didn’t land on me again for a long time. I suspected this was also Hardin’s doing. It did, however, become very interesting when Lily’s turn came up and the bottle pointed straight at James.

 

Lily blushed furiously and walked over to James a bit timidly. He whispered something to her, and she shook her head lightly. Then, James bent his head and gently kissed her. I remembered the first time James had ever kissed me, and I saw the similarities immediately. James still liked Lily. He probably never stopped, he had just convinced himself he had because she kept rejecting him. That would go a long way towards explaining why he could never find a way to tell me he loved me. You can’t love someone when your heart belongs to another. It didn’t bother me in the slightest. I thought that, if Lily got over her prejudices, they would make a really good couple. I might play match-maker and get them together, I thought.

 

“You okay?” I turned to Remus, very surprised that he was asking me.

 

“Sure, why?”

 

“You were staring” he said.

 

“Ah, yes, but not because of that. I was actually thinking they make a rather good couple” I informed him. He looked intently at me for a moment, then nodded with a half-smile.

 

“What do you say we help them realise it?”

 

“I like the way you think, Moony” the moment I let it slip I cursed myself. I didn’t want to use their nicknames anymore. I didn’t want to know their secret. I didn’t want that reminder of what only Alice and I knew, because now it was just me.

 

“It’ll get easier” he said. I looked at him wondering how he managed. He loved her even more than I did, if that was possible, yet he hadn’t turned into an emo slut.

 

“Will it, though?” I grabbed my bottle of firewhiskey and stood up. “I’ve had enough of this game” I said, walking away.

 

Hardin found me when I was halfway through the bottle. He sat with me and after a few flirty comments, we started snogging. I just really didn’t feel like talking to him or to anyone. As the party went on and more people either left of became very drunk, I grabbed Hardin’s hand and motioned for him to follow me. I found Lily with the boys.

 

“Lils, would you mind if I grab the room for a bit?” I whispered to her. She looked at my hand in Hardin’s and shrugged.

 

“Sure”

 

“Thanks” I waved at the boys and turned towards the staircase only to remember I couldn’t exactly take Hardin to my room. He couldn’t walk up the stairs. I came back to Lily.

 

“Never mind, I can’t get him up there” I whispered. I turned to Hardin; frustration obvious on my face.

 

“You can come to my room instead” Hardin told me.

 

“Who are you sharing it with?”

 

“No one, it’s a small spare room because I’m here for a year only” he smirked at me.

 

“And you didn’t say this earlier because…?”

 

“I wasn’t sure if you were up for it” for all his swagger and flirtiness, I liked that he was still respectful and hadn’t assumed anything about me. I walked up the boys’ staircase with Hardin’s hand in one of mine and the whiskey bottle in the other.

 

#

 

“Good morning!” I glared at Lily and made a noise in response. We’d fallen into this routine rather quickly, she’d say good morning, I’d grunt and we’d walk in silence to the Great Hall. It had been a week and so far, so good.

 

“You know, it would be a lot easier if you came back before 2 am on school nights” she said. We were on our way to breakfast and I was tired.

 

“Hello ladies” James and his entourage joined us when we reached the Great Hall. We sat together and I poured myself a huge cup of coffee.

 

“Are you not going to eat anything?” Sirius asked me. I glared at him.

 

“She won’t say a word until she’s finished that coffee” Lily informed him. “It’s her new thing”

 

I rolled my eyes. “What’s wrong with her?” James asked Lily. It was starting to annoy me that they were talking about me like this but I just couldn’t bring myself to interject.

 

“Lack of sleep” Lily said mater-of-factly.

 

“Are you having nightmares?” Sirius asked me.

 

“I’d need to be asleep for that, and Hardin is very good at keeping me awake” I spat, putting down the empty mug and standing up. Sirius looked hurt and angry, and I almost felt bad but I stopped myself. This is why I had to stay away from them, from him. He made me feel and I did not want to.

 

I walked out of the Great Hall alone and headed towards the classroom. The empty chairs and desks didn’t ask questions I didn’t want to answer. 



Chapter 20: Easy is the descent
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Sirius’ POV

 

I was worried she wouldn’t show up. Jocelyn hadn’t exactly been herself the past three weeks, and we had barely seen her. She attended classes but was obviously distracted most of the time, she barely ate anything, sometimes skipping mealtimes altogether and, the past two weekends she’d spent shagging that Hardin idiot. I absolutely hated his guts. It was all I could do not to punch him every time I saw his smug face.

 

What happened over the summer had made me get over James’ breakup with Jocelyn in a giffy. It wasn’t his fault that I fancied her so much. He didn’t even know it, so I couldn’t be angry at him because their breakup made things harder for me. However, I could be angry at Hardin all I wanted. And boy, was I. It didn’t matter that it was totally irrational, that he didn’t know I liked Jo, or that Jo didn’t like me that way, Hardin or no Hardin. All that mattered was that he had her and I didn’t, and it drove me insane.

 

“You look like you’re about to murder someone. Should I be worried?” her voice gave me a strong flashback to last year. I turned around and almost fell flat on my bum. There was my Jocelyn, the Jocelyn that didn’t wear make-up or clothes that made me want to catch on fire and burn the world down with her. Yeah, I was being dramatic lately (inside my head, anyway), but my feelings were tormenting me constantly so, sue me. 

 

“Hello! Earth to Sirius” she waved a hand in front of me.

 

“You’re… ehm… you know. You look good” I said after some hesitation. She shrugged.

 

“I can’t exactly train in a mini skirt, can I?”

 

I refrained from commenting I’d like to see her try. Instead, I nodded curtly and gave her her bat. First Quidditch practice of the year was the following week and we’d agreed to meet today to get back into the swing of things. It was our last year, and we were going to defend our title as champions with all we had.

 

“Ready to kick some ass again this year?” she asked me, grinning mischievously. It was all I could do not to kiss her. When she was like this my heart hurt from wanting.

 

“Hell yeah” I replied.

 

Three hours later we made our way back to the common room together. We were joking and laughing like nothing had changed.

 

“I was worried all that firewhiskey had messed with your balance” I joked.

 

“It takes more than a few drinks to knock me off my broom” she replied with a smirk.

 

“Prongs is going to run practice like a military camp” I warned her.

 

“Tell me something I don’t know. Do I need to remind you of the horrible session he put me through for flirting with Ken?” we both laughed at her impression of James giving orders and pointing and shouting.

 

I was starting to think she might be on the way back to normal, until we walked into the common room. I noticed her eyes dance around and it took me a second to figure out that she was looking for Alice. When she remembered she wasn’t going to find her, her expression changed, and my Jocelyn was gone again.

 

“See you later” she didn’t even turn to look at me, she just walked away and up the girls’ staircase.

 

I was angry. I understood she was hurting but I didn’t get why she had to shut herself off from us in this way. Why she had to turn bitchy and, above all, why she felt it was Hardin she could turn to and not me. It didn’t matter that she was still out of bounds for me, it didn’t matter that I couldn’t touch her even if she wanted me to, all that mattered to me was that when she was in pain she went to him and not me. I punched one of the bed posts and my knuckle burst open. I cursed as the blood stained my sheets.

 

“What the hell is wrong with you?” Moony walked into our room and lifted an eyebrow at the mess I’d made of my hand.

 

“Nothing” I growled.

 

“Right. This doesn’t have anything to do with the fact Jocelyn is in Hardin’s room again, does it?” I am pretty sure I got whiplash from turning to look at him so quickly.

 

“She’s not”

 

“I just saw them get in there together” he shrugged. I couldn’t believe her. How could she be like… normal, like my Jocelyn for three hours up in the air and now be… with him?

 

“Whatever, I don’t care”

 

“Sure you don’t” Remus sat on his bed and pretended to busy himself tidying up his books.

 

“What is that supposed to mean?” I burst. I didn’t like the small smile that played on his face. I didn’t like it one bit.

 

“Mate, I’d have to be fucking blind not to notice the way you look at her” he said, rolling his eyes.

 

“Everyone is looking at her” I pointed out. It was true, and it annoyed the hell out of me. It was those new clothes.

 

“That’s not what I mean, and you know it” I had a flashback to a similar conversation I had had with Lily last year. No wonder Remus and her were such good mates.

 

“I don’t”

 

“Look, Padfoot, you can try to deny it all you want but I know how you feel about her”

 

“Why are you bringing this up Remus? What is the point? Tell me, what is the fucking point? She doesn’t feel the same way. Do you know what she calls me? Best friend. And it pains me, but I can’t even try to change it because I can’t have her, can I? Even if she wanted me, it’d still not be possible” I ran a hand through my hair, feeling as if I was breaking into a million pieces. I didn’t want to tell Moony all these things but now that he had opened Pandora’s box I didn’t seem to be able to stop talking. “She was James’, she was his, not mine and she can never be. It is killing me and I’m trying to ignore it, to be her friend, to pretend that everything is fine and I’m not fucking dying inside. What do you want me to say, Remus? WHAT DO YOU WANT ME TO DO?”

 

I felt slightly embarrassed at my little outburst, but I couldn’t take it back now, could I?

 

“I think you should tell James” he said after a while. 

 

“What for? Jocelyn doesn’t feel this way about me anyway. Why would I burden James with this?”

 

“I think he’d like to help you” he said.

 

I had to be very cautious where the conversation was going to go next. Moony’s words had sparked a tiny ray of hope, something I had lost completely until then. But turns out he wasn’t done talking, yet.

 

“I think a war is starting, Sirius. A war in which people will die, just like Alice. We don’t know what’s going to happen when we leave school. I don’t think it’s the time for regrets or ‘what ifs’. If you really fancy Jocelyn, you need to tell James. He won’t mind”

 

“I don’t fancy her, Moony” I looked straight at him and, for the first time in my entire life, I said “I am in love with her”

 

Moony came over to me and gave me a hug. I felt odd, I felt tired, like admitting the extent of my feelings for her had taken a massive toll on me.

 

“The more reason to tell James. And pronto” he insisted.

 

“I don’t think that’s going to help as much as you think it will” I sighed, sitting down. This was way too much for me.

 

“What? Why?”

 

“Like I said, telling James isn’t going to make Jocelyn return my feelings”

 

“No, but it’ll give you a chance to try to win her heart”

 

“What if… what if she just doesn’t want me?” it scared me more than I wanted to admit.

 

“Then you’ll know. And you won’t wonder, and you’ll move on”

 

Jocelyn’s POV

 

Hardin had earnt himself a detention, which meant I had nothing to do. Well, that wasn’t exactly true. We had had quidditch tryouts to replace Annie, who had graduated last year. We chose a strong and agile fourth year boy who really impressed us with his aim. He hoped he’d score some goals for us in the first game of the year against Slytherin. After tryouts, I had been practicing my dueling skills in that secret room I used to hook up with James in, but it had been three hours and I was frankly exhausted. I knew I was getting a bit skinny, but food didn’t really taste like very much so I had lost interest in it.

 

The boys were busy too, it was a full moon. I had considered just going with them, but I didn’t think I could handle being in the Shack. It would make me think of Alice and how kind she’d been to Remus when he told her the truth. I had also found myself spending less and less time with Lily and the guys in general. I still considered them my best friends, possibly my only friends, but I just felt the empty space Alice used to occupy like a knife twisting in my gut every time I was around them.

 

I knew I was a mess. To be totally frank, I was starting to get tired of it, but I didn’t know how to break the vicious cycle because it hurt too much. My first step, when we had arrived at school, had been to stay sober during the week and drink only on the weekends. And whilst I could manage it, by the time Friday arrived I was so overwhelmed with the pain of loss and grief and I couldn’t even think straight. So far that had been my first but also my only step. We were now in early October and I didn’t know what to do.

 

Lily’s POV

 

I waited up all night but she didn’t come back. I knew she wasn’t with Hardin, he’d been in detention and then he’d come back alone. Nobody had gone up or down the stairs after him. It was a few minutes past dawn and I was sick with worry for Jocelyn when James, Sirius and Peter stumbled into the common room.

 

“Where have you been?” I didn’t even know they had been anywhere.

 

“Lily!” James squeaked. I had to suppress a laugh. Ever since we had kissed during the bottle game James got nervous around me, even more than he used to. For the first time in my life, it didn’t annoy me.

 

“James” I said.

 

“Why are you up so early?” Sirius butted in.

 

“I’m worried about Jo” I said. That got their attention.

 

“Why?”

 

“She’s been gone all night and she’s not with Hardin!” I said before anyone made a rude comment. I knew they didn’t like Hardin, but they shouldn’t judge Jo’s choices.

 

They exchanged glances and then James came close to me and took my hands in his. My knees felt weak all of a sudden. I had to think about this later, I told myself. If Jo hadn’t turned an emo bitch, I would talk to her about it but this currently wasn’t an option.

 

“We’ve been meaning to tell you for a while, but we were hoping Jo would be back to normal so we could do it together” my stomach dropped. Was he going to tell me he was sleeping with Jo again?

 

“Come with us” he said, instead. Utterly confused, I followed them all the way to their room.

 

Sirius and Peter sat on their beds, and James pulled something out of his trunk.

 

“We trust you to keep our secrets, Lily” James said solemnly. Out of nowhere, I got the feeling that this was for real. They were going to tell me something important, something that mattered to them.

 

“I promise” I said. And I meant it.

 

“This is a map of the school. We made it, it shows everyone in the school, even if they are trying to conceal themselves” he waved a blank piece of parchment in front of me. “And this, this is my invisibility cloak”

 

He threw the cloak over Sirius and he vanished. I was stunned. I walked over to where Sirius had been and carefully felt the space he had been occupying.

 

“Lily, if you wanted to feel me up all you had to do was say so” he joked. I jumped a little.

 

“How?”

 

“I do not know the how, all I know is it works. It can’t be charmed, or ‘accio-ed’ or anything” he explained. “It’s a family heirloom”

 

“This is incredible, James”

 

“Jo thinks so, too” said Sirius.

 

“Of course she knows! And she never told me! Traitor” I muttered. They chuckled.

 

“Come here” James motioned for me to join him, so I did. He spread the blank parchment over the bed and took out his wand. “Point at it, and say ‘I solemnly swear that I am up to no good’” he instructed.

 

I hesitated for a moment, worried that this was some sort of joke and they were going to laugh at me, but decided to just go with the flow. “I solemnly swear that I am up to no good”

 

He hadn’t been exaggerating. The entire castle, and the grounds, and everything in it appeared before my eyes, together with dots showing people and their whereabouts. Almost everyone was in their dorms, as you’d expect at this early hour.

 

“So, this is how you plan and pull so many pranks without being caught” I said, impressed.

 

“It is”

 

“When did you come up with this?”

 

“We finished it in fifth year” Peter said.

 

“You know, for such a smart group as to come up with this advanced magic, you sure didn’t think your nicknames through very well. Does Jo also know Remus is a werewolf?” I asked them, casually. Their faces dropped and paled considerably. It was almost comical.

 

I could tell they were debating between coming clean and coming up with an outrageous lie. James sighed. “She figured it out last year”

 

“And… Alice?”

 

“She knew, too. Remus told her, but she had already figured it out. I think even before Jo did” I nodded, unable to reply to them for a moment. A tear fell on my cheek and I whipped it away quickly.

 

“I’ll talk to him. He has nothing to worry about” I said, regaining my composure. They all smiled at me.

 

“You lot have some explaining to do. Like where you have been tonight. I hope not with Remus. Surely, you’re not that reckless. I hope you aren’t. But, it can wait. I’m worried about Jo, so… help?”

 

“Yup” they said in unison.

 

Jocelyn’s POV

 

I didn’t know what had possessed me to walk to Dumbledore’s office at 2 am on a random Wednesday, but here I was. Of course, I didn’t know the password and I wasn’t planning on actually waking him up at this ungodly hour. He was nice, but nobody is that nice. For some reason, just standing near the statue to his office made me feel a bit better. I was about to sit down on the floor outside it when it started moving. I almost had a heart attack.

 

The statue turned fully, and I took a hesitant step up the stairs, then another, and another until I was in Dumbledore’s office.

 

“Miss Silverway” he greeted me.

 

“How did you know?”

 

“It doesn’t matter how I knew. It matters that you need help but don’t know how to ask for it” he said, motioning for me to sit down.

 

“I just don’t know if I can be helped” I whispered.

 

“Grief is a powerful emotion. It reminds us that life can be short and unexpected, it can change in a second, without warning. It hurts. Loss is hard to accept. But life goes on and it is our duty to remember the ones that are no longer with us. Now, how do you think your friend would like to be remembered?”

 

“She’d be horrified at what I’ve become” I said.

 

“I think she’d understand. But she’d also encourage you to let go, Jocelyn”

 

“I don’t know how”

 

“Step by step. The first is to let the pain in” that reminded me of a quote I had read in one of my novels. ‘The only way out is through’

 

“I feel like I’m in Hell, professor. And I am here because I felt the pain. I don’t know how I can make it back”

 

“The descent into hell is always easy, Jocelyn. That’s why it takes strength and courage to stay in the light”


In that moment, as if it was a divine sign, a beautiful phoenix bird came in through the open window and landed on his shoulder. I stared at it, marveling at its beauty. Then, it clicked.

 

“The Order of Phoenix” I whispered. “You. It’s you”

 

“I hear you’ve been making enquiries about The Order” he didn’t try to hide it, or deny it.

 

“I have. I want to join you. I want to fight”

 

“If you can heal, if you can accept your loss and move on, come to see me and we’ll talk about The Order”

 

“But…”

 

“You are a danger to yourself and to others until you finish grieving, Jocelyn” was all he said. I knew he was right.

 

It was almost six in the morning when I left Dumbledore’s office. We had talked about Alice for a long time. He’d listened while I told him what a great friend she was, and how she loved romance, and love itself. I spoke, and then I cried. He listened. It was rather cathartic. I sat on a random windowsill facing East to watch the sunrise. The sky turned pink and orange, and for the first time since Alice had died, I felt like I would be okay. It was going to take some time, but I was going to make it. And then, I was going to join the order and help win this war.

 

I was about to walk back to the common room when the marauders minus Remus but plus Lily came walking down the corridor. I knew I looked like a mess, and my eyes were red and puffy, but I didn’t care. These were my friends. These were Alice’s friends. They shared my pain, even when I didn’t want to share it. The second step was to let them back in.

 

“Are you okay?” Lily asked me when they reached me.

 

“No, but I think I will be” I said. They sat around me in silence and we stayed like that for a little while.

 

**

 

Things started getting back to normal for me after my visit to Dumbledore’s office. I started to really accept that Alice was gone and that me being emotionally messed up about it was not the way to get over it. Alice’s last words to me started bouncing around my head often.

 

“You deserve fireworks” she had said. I knew I’d never get them if I didn’t heal. I had promised her, so I had to. I focused on that and it helped.

 

Slowly, I went back to running, and to paying a bit of attention during class. I started hanging out with the marauders and Lily again, and I reduced the amount of eyeliner I wore. I had developed a strong liking for it, though, so I didn’t feel like going back to being completely make-up free. I settled for somewhere in the middle and Lily seemed to agree it actually looked good.

 

A week or so after my chat with Dumbledore I decided I had to stop avoiding him and actually speak to Hardin. That Friday after my beater practice with Sirius I found him in the common room.

 

“Hey” I greeted him and sat next to him on the sofa. He looked surprised and, I noticed, happy.

 

“Hey” he smiled.

 

“I’d like to talk to you”

 

“For real? Like, actually talk to me?” Ouch.

 

“Yeah... I’m sorry” I said. There was no point in beating around the bush. He surprised me this time by grabbing my hand.

 

“I know what happened to your friend. I know you were just trying to cope, and don’t get me wrong I’m happy to oblige but if you are ready to come out the other end I’d like to... well, I’d like to get to know you” he said. “With our clothes on. Maybe not all the time, but you get what I mean” he smiled and wiggles his eyebrows. I laughed.

 

“I’m not sure where I am at right now, where my head is at. I can’t promise anything”

 

“I am not asking for promises” he brushed a strand of hair away from my face gently.

 

“I have to be honest, I had no idea you felt this way” I told him. He smirked.

 

“At the beginning I didn’t. I thought you were a hot chick, who was looking for fun, so I was all for it” he shrugged. “But there’s something about you that really caught my eye. I think I’m intrigued by the Jocelyn I’ve never met. The one everyone talks about”

 

“What?”

 

“People care about you, you know? And everyone’s been worried. That made me curious, so I asked around. I had no idea you are beater for Gryffindor, for example”

 

I smiled. “Just you wait until the first game, Sirius and I are invincible”

 

“So I’ve heard” he looked thoughtful for a minute, then asked “I hear you used to date Potter. I need to ask: isn’t it weird being so close with him still? I know you hang out in a group but he’s your ex”

 

“We ended it because we were behaving more like friends than a couple, so no. It isn’t weird, James is one of my best friends in the world”

 

“What about Black?”

 

“Sirius? He’s like James. Best friend”

 

“Okay, cool. Just wondered” he smiled. “I thought I was going to have more competition”

 

“Well, being James’ ex-girlfriend is a bit of a deterrent to a lot of guys. You don’t want to mess with him” I said, laughing. “But jokes aside, I don’t get as much attention as you seem to think I do”

 

“You’re wrong. Just because you don’t notice it, it doesn’t mean people aren’t paying attention. Almost every guy in this school stops and stares when you walk by”

 

“You’re exaggerating” I brushed his comments off. That’s what people did around Sirius, and James. Not me.

 

“Why didn’t you say anything earlier about, you know, us?” I asked him.

 

He chuckled before answering. “You didn’t want to hear it. And also, not gonna lie, there are worse things than being used for sex by a gorgeous girl. I wasn’t about to scare you off” he wiggled his eyebrows and I laughed.



Chapter 21: Skin on skin
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Halloween was always fun at Hogwarts. Especially, when the marauders decided to be in charge of organizing the party. I was in my room getting ready with Lily, and missing Alice so furiously it choked me.

 

“I miss her too” Lily said in a small voice.

 

“It’s hard. She loved parties. She loved telling us what to wear or helping with hair and makeup” I sighed.

 

“And she would be fuming if she knew we were about to ruin it all crying” Lily said, fanning herself to try and stop the tears.

 

“True” I smiled a bit and Lily gave me a quick hug.

 

“Let’s have a toast to her tonight” she nodded, and we exited our room together.

 

The marauders had outdone themselves. The joint classrooms we were using for the party looked scary and cool, exactly what you want for a Halloween party. This year I had even made an effort and put on a costume. Lily and I had chosen our costumes flicking through muggle magazines. Lily was Twinker Bell, from animated movie Peter Pan. A classic. I have to say the green costume really brought out her features and made a lovely combination with her red hair. I had decided to do a take on Marilyn Monroe. I even turned my hair blond and short temporarily. It felt very odd.

 

“Stop playing with your hair” Lily chastised me as we moved towards the bar.

 

“It feels really strange. Like I’m naked” I explained. I was so used to feeling the heavy waves on my back.

 

“Funny how a temporary haircut makes you feel naked, but you swaggered across platform 9 and 3/4 in a bra and thought it was perfectly fine” she said.

 

“You’re never gonna let that go, are you?”

 

“Never” we were in a fit of giggles when we reached the bar. I poured myself and Lily a glass of fire whisky each and we raised our glasses solemnly.

 

“To Alice. She would be proud of us having fun and living life the way she said it was supposed to be lived” said Lily.

 

“To Alice” I looked up as if she could hear me from wherever she was. “I’ll keep my promise. I’ll find epic”

 

We drank and then Lily leaned closer to me. “Explain that”

 

I sighed. I had never told Lily what Alice’s last moments had been like because I didn’t feel like I could. It had taken all I had telling Remus what she’d asked me to. After that I just couldn’t bring myself to talk about it to anyone else. But it was time.

 

“She made me promise I’d keep looking for, you know, the fireworks” I said.

 

“And with good reason. You need to. I am” she replied.

 

“Yeah, about that, little missy. When did the marauders let you in on their secrets?”

 

“Is it obvious I know? I thought I was being cool and collected about it” she said. I snorted. Lily was a lot of things. Cool and collected were not amongst them.

 

“You were practically bouncing with excitement, and you wouldn’t have found me on that windowsill at six am without the map” I reasoned.

 

“True that. Well, that’s exactly when they told me. They said they’d been waiting for you to be back to normal to do it together, but I was worried about you enough that they decided to just let me in” she blushed.

 

“I’m glad. It felt weird being the only one in on it. Alice knew”

 

“Have you ever seen them?” she asked me, getting super close.

 

“Seen them what?” I knew what she meant but watching her pretend to be so-not-bothered by it was hilarious I had to tease her a bit.

 

“Them” she made a very intense face.

 

“You look like you’re about to pass out” I chuckled.

 

“Jo!” she protested.

 

“I am teasing you. Yes, I have seen them. James is sexy as fuck,” Lily’s mouth opened.

 

“What do you mean? What is it like?”

 

“I KNEW IT! Lily Evans, have you finally, after all these years, fallen prey to James’ charms?” I squealed like a little girl, trying to keep it down. She blushed, a lot.

 

“I don’t know why you’re making a big deal of this. It’s not like you’re immune to him”

 

“Difference is I didn’t spend six years firmly denying the kid was worth a minute of attention. I went out with him the first time he asked, you know. I didn’t make him work for it for ages” I was giggling so hard it was hurting my stomach.

 

“You really don’t mind?” She asked timidly.

 

“Lils, I honestly do not. I am never going to stop thinking James is hot, because well I’m not blind, but that’s it. He’s one of my best friends, and there’s lots of other hot people for me. James isn’t my epic, but he could be yours” I told her very sincerely. “As long as you don’t find it weird that we used to date, there’s nothing to stop you from pursuing him”

 

“I just... I don’t know. I am not even sure yet. Like I have started noticing that he is, as you say, super-hot. But I don’t know if I really fancy him beyond that and... well, I think I need a bit of time now I know for sure you’d be okay with it if it happened” she smiled.

 

“This deserves another toast” I said, refilling our glasses.

 

“Wait, we can’t just toast to my maybe future relationship. What about you?”

 

“Hardin told me he likes me a lot. I might give that a go” I said casually.

 

“Do you like him?”

 

“Well, he’s totally my type. You know dark, tall and handsome” I said. I wasn’t sure how I felt about Hardin at all but there was no reason not to try to find out, was there?

 

“He looks a bit like Jax” she said.

 

“He does. I think James was an outlier, I am clearly into more of a bad-boy sort of thing” I shrugged. “Who knows, maybe it’ll work out with Hardin”

 

“The marauders are coming” Lily whispered. I didn’t fail to notice that she took obvious pleasure in the fact that she could now call them by their secret nickname.

 

“Lily! What’s up? Where’s Jo?” I turned around to face them with a (fake) angry expression on my face.


“What? A girl cuts her hair and you stop recognizing your best shot at winning the quidditch cup again? I am offended” I scoffed.

 

“Oh, woah. What… you look… different” Sirius said, tilting his head to one side.

 

“Yeah, that’s the point of costumes” I waved my empty glass in front of them. “You’ve missed two toasts. You’re way behind us. Catch up!”

 

“Is this… permanent?” Peter asked gesturing towards my hair.

 

“I haven’t decided yet” I said. James made a face.

 

“You look hot” he said. Lily glanced at him but didn’t say anything. “But I preferred your long hair”

 

“So do I” I grinned.

 

And, with that, they got over the shock of my current looks and busied themselves with drinks. Lily went dancing with Remus after a while and I leaned against the bar watching them. Moony refused to even look at a girl now, so we took it in turns to keep him company at parties.

 

“Would you care for a dance, Miss Monroe?”

 

“Hardin! Oh, you look good” and it was true. He was dressed like a pirate and the look suited him.

 

“Thanks” he winked at me. “So, dance?”

 

James’ POV

 

I couldn’t stop staring at Lily. I don’t think I had ever seen her wear a dress that short in my life. It was giving me palpitations. I hadn’t noticed I was paying a lot of attention to her again until the day Alice died. When the attack started, all I could think of was protecting her. In the aftermath, we were all too distraught for me to remember or think about it but since we’d been back at school I had been stealing glances at her like I used to before Jo. And then, we had played that stupid spin the bottle game.

 

Things started out hilarious when Moony had to kiss Padfoot. They took it in a very manly way and did an ultra-quick, barely-there peck on the lips. I almost passed out from lack of oxygen (due to my laughing fit). Then, Wormtail had to kiss a sixth year girl before it was my turn. I felt a bit awkward when the bottle pointed at Jocelyn. Thinking it wasn’t anything I hadn’t done before, I shrugged and walked over.

 

“Is it okay?” I asked her. Jocelyn being Jocelyn, didn’t even bother answering. She kissed me, and for a brief second I couldn’t remember any of the reasons why I had decided we were better off as friends. When we broke the kiss, it was all I could do not to drag her to my bedroom. Obviously, she knew exactly what I was thinking and winked at me before sitting down. Women can be so cruel.

 

Next, a sixth-year boy got the same girl as Wormtail had. Then Moony got a different sixth year girl. They kissed very quickly. I knew he wasn’t ready to date but probably didn’t want to make a big deal out of it. Padfoot got one of the fifth years, and she practically fainted. This always happened. It wasn’t until they were kissing that I realized Padfoot hadn’t been sleeping around as much lately. I had to check he was feeling okay. Sleeping around was Padfoots’ favourite thing after magical mischief with us and playing quidditch with Jocelyn. Whilst I was thinking this, it became Hardin’s turn. I knew he had cheated but couldn’t prove it, so had to watch as he stood up and kissed Jo. I waited for jealousy to appear, but it didn’t. I guess you can lust after someone without actually wanting to be with them. After all, just because she was my friend didn’t mean I couldn’t see Jo was still ridiculously good looking. 

 

The game went on for a little bit and then, the unexpected happened. Lily’s turn came and the bottle pointed straight at me. I didn’t know what to do. I would die of embarrassment if she refused to kiss me – it was just a game – but I also felt strongly against this being the reason Lily Evans was finally going to kiss me. 

 

Lily blushed furiously and walked over to me a bit timidly.

 

“It’s okay if you don’t want to do this, I can make an excuse” I whispered to her quickly.

 

To my surprise, she shook her head lightly so I leaned into her and gave her a kiss.

 

It was as if I got hit by lightning. Where my lips touched hers an electric current sparked to life and run through my body, making me hyper aware of her. The softness of her mouth, the smell of her hair, the taste of her lips.

 

It was over way too quickly, but the memory of it stayed with me every waking second. It was a defining moment in my life. There was only ‘before’ and ‘after’ I knew what kissing Lily Evans felt like.

 

I drank some more whiskey, trying to redirect my mind towards less problematic memories. I looked over at Jo, who was now dancing with Hardin. To my astonishment, they weren’t snogging. They were barely touching.

 

“What is with them?” Padfoot asked, appearing out of nowhere with a new bottle of firewhiskey. He proceeded to open it and refill my empty glass.

 

“I was wondering the same. I thought she was just shagging him as a coping mechanism”

 

“That’s what Lily said. Doesn’t look like it though, does it?” I raised my eyebrow at my friend. I had a feeling there was something going on with Sirius. I had a collection of little clues dancing around in my brain just waiting to be put together, but I was missing a final piece to make sense of it all. If only I knew what it was.

 

“Maybe now she’s getting better she feels ready to date. I think it’d be good for her” I said.

 

“Not Hardin” he spat. Padfoot and Hardin hated each other. I didn’t understand this because the guy was actually alright and, obviously, nobody should hate Sirius because he was, well, like my brother. But they did, and fervently.

 

“I really don’t get why you’re so obsessed with the guy”

 

“I just don’t like him”

 

“Yeah, I know that. But why?”

 

“Got a feeling” was all he said. He proceeded to down his drink and re-fill his glass again.

 

“You’re in a mood” I observed. “Should I warn the female population of imminent danger?”

 

He looked thoughtful. “That’s an excellent idea, Prongs”

 

“What? Warning them?”

 

“No, obviously not” we laughed, and he saluted me before disappearing in the crowd.

 

My worries that he wasn’t himself dissipated when a whole seven minutes later, I spotted him making out with the new seventh year Ravenclaw in a corner of the room. ‘Well, that took long’ I thought.

 

Jocelyn’s POV

 

“You are a good dancer” Hardin said when we made our way back to the bar to refill our drinks.

 

“You’re not too bad yourself” I conceded. He smiled.

 

“Hey Jo, Hardin” Remus joined us, followed by James.

 

“Guys, let’s do a shot!” Peter appeared out of nowhere.

 

“I’m in” I said. Hardin nodded, so Wormtail started preparing.

 

“Is Sirius going to join?” he asked, counting the glasses.

 

“Where is he anyway?” I looked around and found him. He was making out with the new seventh year Ravenclaw. I felt annoyed at the sight and had to look away.

 

“He’s busy” James said.

 

I grabbed the shot glass and, for once, didn’t look at anyone or tap it. I realized that without Sirius, I didn’t want to anyway.

 

“Let’s get out of here” I grabbed Hardin’s hand and waved bye towards the boys. I saw Sirius glancing our way out of the corner of my eye, but I decided not to acknowledge him.

 

“I like your hair this way, it looks cool” Hardin said as we walked back to the Gryffindor Tower.

 

“Maybe I’ll keep it” I said, knowing full well that I would never, simply because Sirius and James had said they preferred it long and dark.

 

“Liquorice wand” he said to the fat lady as we arrived at the portrait. She swung it open and let us through. “Would you like to sleep in my room?” he asked me.

 

I looked at him and was going to reply when he said “I mean sleep. For real, just sleep”

 

“Oh. Really?” this was unexpected.

 

“Yeah, absolutely. I’d like to just cuddle and sleep next to you. I meant what I said, I want to give this a try, a real one” he smiled and ran a hand through his hair. He reminded me of Sirius in that moment, and I decided just sleeping was fine with me.

 

“Sounds quite nice, actually” I smiled and we made our way there.

 

Lily’s POV

 

Life was finally giving me a break. I had felt constantly overwhelmed since Alice’s death. First, dealing with the loss of such a close friend had been very difficult. It hadn’t helped that my other very close friend, Remus, was in absolute pieces too and I wanted to help him. And then, the girl I considered my sister, had turned into an emo slut. No, the past couple of months had not been easy. Fortunately, things were almost back to normal. Jocelyn was back to us, albeit with a bit more eyeliner and a new tattoo. Remus was healing and I could think about and remember Alice without busting into tears.

 

The only problem I had now was that I was extremely confused about my feelings for James Potter, or Prongs, as I had discovered his friends called him. I couldn’t put my finger on exactly when I had started feeling this way. Sometimes I thought it was the kiss we’d shared during that silly game. It surprised me (in a good way) that he offered to help me get out of it. Never in a million years would I have thought James Potter had that level of maturity and respect towards a girl. Yes, Jocelyn had actually told us time and time again this was one of the things she really liked about him when they were dating, but I thought it was because Jocelyn can be rather scary and James was probably worried she’d neuter him if he overstepped her boundaries.

 

I was wrong. And I was happy I was wrong.

 

Other times, I thought it had really started when he told me about the map and the cloak and, later that day with Jocelyn, told me they were animagi. I was very, very impressed he had learnt such a difficult skill so early in his life but, above all, I was deeply touched he had done it to help Remus.

 

The truth was, it didn’t really matter when it had started or how. Every day I caught myself paying more and more attention to him, noticing small details and admiring how smart and mature he was when he wanted to be. He had not missed a single Head Boy duty, or patrol, or meeting with me.

 

I was lost in thoughts of James when Jo came back to our room. From the looks of it, she’d been running. She looked much healthier than she had a month ago. Thank Merlin, I was worried she’d develop an eating disorder.

 

“You’re looking at me funny” she said.

 

“I don’t understand how anyone can find joy in running. For your information, if you ever see me running, you better join, it means I’m being chased by a scary thing” I informed her. She laughed.

 

“I really, really don’t feel like going to classes today” she informed me in return.

 

“It’s Thursday. We have two hours of DADA. You love DADA. What’s wrong?”

 

“It is Thursday? Oh, then forget it. I thought it was Wednesday” she said, taking off her running gear and stepping into the bathroom.

 

I got out of bed and got ready as well. On the way to breakfast, Jo looked pensive. So, of course, I asked her what she was thinking about.

 

“It’s full moon tonight” she whispered. Then, she grabbed my arm and pulled me aside to a small corridor away from the pedestrian traffic.

 

“I know, what about it?” I asked her.

 

“I’m considering joining the marauders tonight” she said. “You know, in my animagus form”

 

“Why?”

 

“I have never done it before, I’m kind of curious, but I also think it’ll help me finish healing. I think Alice would like to know I was looking after Remus for her” she said. I understood that.

 

“I think you should go, if they are okay with it”

 

“I’ll ask them” we went to the Great Hall and had breakfast with the boys.

 

“Good morning, everyone” Jo said sitting between Sirius and James.

 

“Here” Sirius handed her a piece of toasted bread on a plate with a knife. He’d put butter and jam on the plate already, and I noticed it was the perfect amount for Jo’s toast.

 

“Thanks” she said taking it. “Have you seen…”

 

“Here” he passed her a mug filled with coffee.

 

“You’re the best” she said and busied herself with breakfast. How could everyone else be oblivious to it? How could they not see it?

 

“You okay, Lily?” James asked me.

 

“Huh?”

 

“You seemed a bit distracted” he said.

 

“Ah, yeah just lost in thought” I replied with a smile.

 

“What do you think we’ll do today in DADA? I wouldn’t mind a bit of dueling” said Sirius.

 

“Nah, I don’t think so. It’s early in the year for dueling” James said.

 

“As long as we don’t go through dangerous creatures, I’ll be happy” Remus added. Turns out he dreaded the week we studied ‘dark creatures’ every year, he thought his fellow students would realise he was a werewolf and spent the entire week feeling extremely paranoid.

 

“That’s not in the syllabus for this term” I said.

 

“Of course you’ve read the syllabus” Jo chuckled. “I would like a boggart. We haven’t worked with one yet. I thought it was standard”

 

“It was but they haven’t managed to find a boggart since the incident two years ago” Remus informed me.

 

“Fucking Slytherins” Jo muttered angrily. The incident Remus had mentioned involved seventh year Slytherins trying to prank Frank Longbottom, the boggart, and a nasty explosion. 

 

We walked to DADA together after breakfast. Our new professor was a cool and collected middle aged man from the US. I quite liked him, and I knew a few of our fellow students had a little crush on him.

 

“Welcome. Today, we are going to be working on patronus charms” he informed the class. There was an excited whisper. “Learning this skill is difficult, and performing it in the real word is even more so because you must conquer the fear inspired by dementors to summon the thoughts and feeling that will enable you to cast a patronus effectively. Now, turn to page 193 of your book for a brief explanation and, when you’re ready, form a line, please”

 

We all busied ourselves with the reading. I noticed Jocelyn didn’t open her book. I wanted to roll my eyes at her, sometimes she did like to show off. I had never seen her or heard that she knew how to cast a patronus but, then again, I didn’t know she was an animagus until a month ago either so…

 

She positioned herself at the very end of the line, directly behind Sirius. They were whispering to each other and commenting on the rest of the class’ efforts. Typical. Our fellow students had a go with varying degrees of success. I managed a decent patronus but it had no actual shape. Remus had a similar result. My heart skipped a beat when it was James’ turn. He was so focused he was frowning ever so slightly. It reminded me of how determined he’d looked the day of the attack, when he had come to protect me and not his other friends.

 

“Expecto patronum” he did way better than me. It wasn’t fully corporeal, but you could clearly see the outline of a stag. I was impressed and thought I might ask him to help me improve mine. With a satisfied smile, he moved aside to let Sirius go. He looked over at Jocelyn quickly and she moved to stand beside him.

 

I could tell the professor was going to protest but they didn’t let him. “Expecto patronum” they said at the same time. There were ‘oooohs’ and ‘aaahs’ as two beautiful dogs ran around the classroom, playing and teasing each other. It was then that I realized, with a jolt, that maybe Jocelyn did have stronger feelings for Sirius than I had ever thought. My mind started racing, going through known facts: Jocelyn liked every boy she’d ever met that looked like Sirius (Jax and Hardin were practically clones), she gravitated towards him, she trusted him with her life (quite literally) and most importantly, no matter how hard she had tried, she hadn’t managed to fall in love with anyone. And I was starting to suspect Sirius was the reason why.

 

Jocelyn’s POV

 

Sirius’ birthday was on the same day as our first quidditch game of the season, so I had convinced Prongs to help me plan a surprise party in our common room. He had made me promise we would win, saying he would not party if we lost. Birthday or no birthday.

 

I knew he really meant it, so when I kicked the ground and soared in the air I was hyped. Padfoot winked at me and I blew him a kiss. He smiled wickedly and I felt giddy, probably because of the adrenaline. Then, the game started. It was vicious. Slytherin had clearly not forgiven or forgotten my stunt last year and I quickly became the target of every nasty trick they knew. Lucky for me, we had been expecting it and so had the entire team. Our strategy this game was radically different to anything we’d done before. It was risky, but if it worked it would pay off. My job during the game wasn’t to hit bludgers or try to knock opponents off their brooms. My job was to be bait and distract them long enough for everyone else to win the game. Cal was under strict instructions to try his best to find the snitch quickly. We’d much rather have to score extra points against Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw later in the year than play Slytherin a second longer than necessary.

 

The new chaser was really good, and James… well, James was on fucking fire. I would have just watched him play if I hadn’t been busy trying not to die. I did every crazy pirouette and trick I knew (and I knew a lot). The more I teased them and showed off my skills the more irate they became. Sirius was on defensive duty rather than offensive. His job was to protect our team from bludgers, without hitting Slytherins either. Everything was geared towards me capturing the snakes’ attention as much as possible, and nothing else. And it was working.

 

When Cal finally caught the snitch, I was exhausted but thrilled. Sirius quickly flew next to me and escorted me to the ground, not trusting the Slytherins even after the game was over. James was beaming. We all walked into the changing rooms together and, after a quick but enthusiastic congratulatory speech, James made an excuse and left. I, however, had the difficult task of entertaining Sirius long enough for everyone else to get to the party and prepare the surprise.

 

I was failing. When I came out of the showers, he was almost done changing. He was so much quicker than I was. I panicked and fussed over my stuff, letting my towel slip a little by accident. It wasn’t much, but it was enough to catch Sirius’ attention. I saw him pause what he was doing and stare at me out of the corner of my eye. My heart skipped a beat. I tended to forget that Sirius was, first and foremost, a boy and as such was also susceptible to hormones and the havoc they wreaked on us. So, I quickly slipped my underwear on under the towel and turned my back on him before letting it fall to the floor. I prayed to Merlin and Godric and Rowena and all high witches and wizards that he was still watching, or else I had no way of keeping him here until the party was ready.

 

I put on my bra and turned sideways again. I almost let out a sigh of relief when I saw he was still standing in the same spot, frozen. I took my dress out of the bag and put it on.

 

“Help me?” I asked casually, turning my back to him again and moving my hair to the side.

 

He didn’t say anything, and I got worried for a second but then I felt him move closer and his hand grab the zip. As he pulled it up, his fingers grazed the skin on my back. I realized with a jolt that Sirius and I didn’t touch much. He punched my shoulder and sometimes gave me a quick hug. I playfully patted him on the arm or sat on his lap or close to him in the common room, but never skin-to-skin. Never without all our robes and clothes as a barrier between us.

 

The only time I could clearly remember I had actually touched him, touched his skin, was when I had had a hysterical breakdown on top of him when he crashed in the Hufflepuff game. But in non-high emergency or life-threatening situations, we didn’t touch each other. It wasn’t a conscious thing; it just didn’t happen.

 

And I had just found out that I was extremely glad. I had almost forgotten the incident last year when we’d ran into Alecto Carrow and Christian Rosier and we’d pretended to be hooking up. He hadn’t actually touched me, but I had never been so close to him, and now, as his hands carefully helped me with my dress, I was having flashbacks to what I had felt like to be within an inch of Sirius Black. It was maddening.

 

Even though his fingers barely caressed my back, I felt them imprinted there long after my zip was up and we were on the way to the common room.

 

“SURPRISE!”

 

The common room exploded when he walked in, and he stopped dead in his tracks before a huge grin appeared on his face.

 

“Happy birthday, Padfoot” I whispered, giving him a quick hug. He turned around to say something but didn’t get a chance as he was engulfed by his marauder friends. I laughed and walked over to Lily.

 

“Never, ever, do anything like that again” she said. I was going to ask what she meant but she continued. “Actually, I am considering banning you from quidditch altogether. Can you not play a game during which I do not fear for your safety? Can you not play like the rest of the world?”

 

“And be average? I don’t think so missy. Now, stop being a party pooper and pass me that firewhiskey” I replied, grinning at her. She shook her head but gave me the bottle.

 

“I am very, very impressed” said a voice behind me. I smirked before turning around.

 

“Hello Hardin”

 

“I had been told you were good, I wasn’t told you are also insane” he said, laughing. I frowned.

 

“See? It’s not just me” Lily smiled at Hardin.

 

“Pr… James and Sirius are on my side. So is the rest of the house, I believe” I flicked my hair, making them laugh again.

 

“You should teach me some of those tricks” Hardin suggested, moving a bit closer. Lily understood that as some sort of signal she had to leave and excused herself before I could tell her I didn’t actually want to be alone with Hardin.

 

“Sure, do you fly?”

 

“A bit. Nowhere near your level, though” he said.

 

“I am on a league of my own” I joked. He nodded, getting a little bit closer again.

 

“So… I was thinking…” he didn’t get a chance to finish his sentence because the marauders plus Lily arrived that very moment and insisted we did shots.

 

I don’t remember much of the party after the fourth time I tapped the glass on the bar and, looking straight into silver-grey eyes, downed the tequila.

 

Eventually, it all died down. I looked up and around to realize the marauders and I were the last ones standing. Hardin had stumbled up the stairs half an hour ago. I could tell he had been trying hard to keep up, and I had to give him points for persistence but it hadn’t been enough.

 

“People should be ashamed they can’t hold their liquor” I said, leaning against the bar.

 

“It is hard to keep up with you” slurred Peter.

 

“I think you should go to bed” Remus told him. Peter nodded. “I’ll come, too” he added.

 

They both walked up the stairs together and I was left alone with James and Sirius. We were still by the bar but we’d pretty much ran out of alcohol. I didn’t have a clue what time it was.

 

“Lily isn’t happy with our strategy” I said, casually.

 

“What do you mean?” asked James.

 

“She feels you put my safety in jeopardy to win the game” I informed him, pouring the last of the firewhiskey into my glass.

 

“That is so not fair” Sirius said, pointing at it. “Share!” he demanded.

 

“You are too drunk” I purred.

 

“Am not”

 

“Are”

 

“Jo! Focus, is Lily actually upset?” James interjected.

 

“Calm down Prongs. She’s not actually upset. She is fine. You are fine” I said, grinning at him.

 

“Good, good” he muttered.

 

“You are so wasted” I told him, giggling.

 

“We won against Slytherin. Our last ever Hogwarts game against Slytherin and we won it. I say we deserve to get as drunk as we want to” he replied beaming.

 

“That makes me sad” I said. Sirius pulled me backwards into his chest and wrapped his arms around me.

 

“Don’t be sad” he said softly.

 

“I know what you mean, and I’m kind of sad too, we’ll definitely miss Hogwarts but we’re going to stay together and be friends for life, so it’ll be alright” James smiled. I reached out with my hand and grabbed his.

 

“Promise me. We’re going to stay together always” I said.

 

“Always”

 

“Always”

 

“With Lily too!” I added as an afterthought.

 

“Dear Josie, I plan to make your redhead friend my wife. If I have it my way, she’s going to be stuck with me for life” James wiggled his eyebrows. I felt Sirius’ chest vibrate with laughter against my back.

 

“I am going to bed, then. I want to impress her by waking up early tomorrow and making our Head meeting on time!” Prongs added.

 

“You do that” I said. He nodded and walked up the stairs.

 

“Last ones standing” Sirius said, grabbing my glass and taking a sip.

 

“That’s my drink!” I protested, turning around to face him. 

 

“You need to get better at sharing” he replied with a smirk.

 

“You are too drunk anyway! Don’t need any more” I said, poking him in the chest with a finger.

 

“And you aren’t?” he whispered, catching my hand with his.

 

“I can do what I want. I was live bait for this game, I had to dodge crazed Slytherins for an hour in the air. I deserve to finish the fire whiskey” I replied.

 

“That is true” he gave back the glass but didn’t let go of my hand. I drank the liquor, my fingers playing with his of their own accord.

 

I looked up at him to see his eyes fixed on our hands. I fleetingly wondered if I was being stupid, if maybe Sirius and I clicked so well because we were meant to be more than friends. I felt as if I was on the edge of a big epiphany again, but alas my short body decided it had finally had too much and all my thoughts of Sirius, and maybes, and love and whatnot were interrupted by a strong wave of nausea.

 

“I’m going to be sick” I announced to Sirius a second before I emptied my stomach in a trash can.

 

“You are such a refined lady” he joked before hurrying over and helping keep the hair out of my face.

 

“Thanks, Sirius” I told him when I was better.

 

“Anytime” he smiled. “You okay to make it to your room?”

 

“Yeah, I’ll live. See you tomorrow”

 

“Good night, Jocelyn”



Chapter 22: Killing me slowly
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Jocelyn’s POV

 

December was fast approaching and with it we were experiencing a severe drop in temperature. The past few weeks had been a steady improvement on the beginning of the year, and I was feeling like myself again. Going to the Shack with the marauders the previous full moon had helped. It had been emotional, but it turns out you don’t really feel much the same way when you’re in animagus form, so it was a lot easier to bear than I expected. I was planning on going with them again next time.

 

“Morning” I yawned at Lily from my bed.

 

“Not running today?” she asked me.

 

“We have quidditch practice tonight and I didn’t want to over-train. It’s going be hard enough as is with the freezing cold”

 

“Do you think I could come watch your practice?” she asked timidly.

 

“Are you alright?” I asked her, blinking stupidly in her direction.

 

“Yeah, of course I am”

 

“In all the years I’ve known you, you have never ever willingly spent any more time outdoors between November and April than absolutely necessary. Yet, today you are volunteering to come watch quidditch practice which goes on for at least two hours” I got up and sat on her bed instead.

 

“Well… I thought you love it so much, and are obviously very good at it. And James and Sirius, who let’s face it, have become my closest friends with Remus and Pete, are on the team. Remus and Peter go watch every now and then” she shrugged.

 

“You aren’t fooling me, Lily Evans! You want to go watch because you luuuurve James” I said in a sing-song voice. She blushed furiously.

 

“I just want to watch how you guys train!”

 

“You want to watch James fly because he is awesome at it and it is sexy, and he looks ridiculously good doing it” I beamed at her. “And I support this one hundred percent”

 

“Why are you making me feel awkward about it then?”

 

“Because it’s hilarious” I smirked. She chuckled.

 

“You are evil”

 

She did come watch practice that evening, which resulted in James trying to show off and working us extra hard.

 

“You need to chill mate” Sirius shouted at him as he flew near our training area. “We’re a bit tired over here”

 

“Sorry, I’m a bit nervous” he said, smiling goofily at us.

 

“Yeah, we’ve noticed” I rolled my eyes at him and hit the bludger coming our way.

 

“Alright, let’s end practice. We’ve been at it for two and half hours” James conceded.

 

“Thank you!” Sirius and I shouted at the same time. He smiled at me.

 

We landed and Lily walked over to where I was putting the stuff away with Sirius. We chatted for a bit, then James joined.

 

“That was actually quite interesting to watch” she told him. He beamed.

 

“James a great captain” Sirius chimed in. I rolled my eyes and hooked my arm through Sirius’

 

“We need to put the bludgers’ box back inside” I said. He was about to protest but I gave him a look and he understood.

 

“We’ll see you guys back in the common room” James waved at us as we carried the equipment back. “Lily, walk with me?”

 

“Sure” she smiled at him and they left together.

 

“They look good together” Sirius said.

 

“They do” I smiled.

 

“It’s not weird for you, is it?”

 

“You know it’s not. I don’t think of James in that way anymore. Plus, I’m kind of with Hardin now” I replied. Sirius dropped his bat and we stopped so he could pick it up again.

 

“Explain that, how are you ‘kind of’ with someone?”

 

“Well, he isn’t my boyfriend but as you may have noticed, we are seeing each other” I joked. Sirius didn’t find it funny in the slightest.

 

“Do you like him?”

 

“Yeah, I wouldn’t be with him if I didn’t”

 

“Why are you not official then? Does he not want to be?”

 

“Why are you so invested?”

 

“I am not. You’re my friend, I care about you. Just want to make sure he treats you right” he said. I could tell there was more to the story than he was letting on, but I didn’t feel very comfortable discussing Hardin with Sirius.

 

“Well, I am not sure I want to commit to him. That’s why we’re not official”

 

“You have doubts about Hardin?”

 

“I do”

 

“And why do you think that is?” we dropped the box on the floor and pushed it inside the locker.

 

“Well if I knew it wouldn’t be ‘doubts’ would it?” I replied. He chuckled. We started walking back to the Gryffindor Tower. 

 

“What about you and that new Ravenclaw girl?” I asked him. He looked away.

 

“What about her?”

 

“Well, you were quite cozy during the Halloween party. And Peter’s told me you’ve been sneaking out quite a bit recently”

 

“He is a traitor!” he said indignant. I laughed. “Seriously, I’m going to gut him!”

 

“It’s not that big of a deal, Sirius. Everyone knows you get around. It’s fine”

 

“I do not!”

 

“You so do. What was it Carrow said last year? You’re a man-whore” I joked.

 

“Jocelyn do not call me that” I stopped dead in my tracks. I didn’t mean to offend him. The boys always made fun of him for this and it had never bothered him the slightest bit.

 

“I am sorry, I didn’t realize it was a touchy subject. For all it’s worth, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it” I gave him a small smile.

 

“Forget about it” he said smiling back. It didn’t reach his eyes. I went to bed that night still unsettled and confused about my conversation with Sirius.

 

**

 

The first Saturday of December found us wrapped in coats and scarves, making our way to Hogsmeade. About halfway there, it started snowing for the first time this year.

 

“Shouldn’t you be thrilled with this weather?” Remus said looking in my general direction when I let out a loud groan.

 

“Huh?”

 

“Your spirit animal is a Siberian Husky. Siberian. Surely you love to frolic in the frozen tundra” he joked. I rolled my eyes at him.

 

“I can’t believe you’ve never showed me” Lily protested. “You’ve told me all about it yet I’ve never actually seen you”

 

“Remind me when we’re in our room tonight” I said. The boys made strange noises that indicated to me they were thinking sexual thoughts. I rolled my eyes again.

 

“You roll your eyes so much I worry one day they’ll actually stay backwards” Sirius told me. I couldn’t exactly roll my eyes at that, so I stuck out my tongue instead.

 

“You’re so mature” he said, chuckling. I smiled at him.

 

We made our way to the Three Broomsticks and were enjoying a very pleasant afternoon with our butter beers (them) and firewhisky (Padfoot and I) when a couple of Ravenclaw girls walked in making a lot of noise. They were giggling and whispering too much. It was annoying. To my horror, they approached our table.

 

“Hi Sirius” one I didn’t recognize said. I stared at him. Did he know this girl?

 

“Hi Fiore, what’s up?” yes, he did. ‘How?’ And then almost immediately, ‘I don’t want to know’.

 

“Can I steal you for a bit?” she batted her eyelashes at him and for reasons unbeknown to me, it irritated the fuck out of me. I almost bit my tongue off in an effort to stay quiet. 

 

“Maybe later? I’m with the boys” he gestured around him.

 

“And Lily” she pointed out, smiling at her. Oh no. She didn’t.

 

“And Jocelyn” Lily quickly added, clearly indignant. My little firecracker always on my side.

 

“She hardly counts as a girl”

 

“You really, really, really shouldn’t have said that” none other than Peter replied, looking at her with a terrified expression.

 

“What are you going to do? Punch me?” she laughed haughtily.

 

I knew she knew I had been consistently making the top three spots of every ‘hot girls’ list made by Hogwarts boys in the past two years. I also knew she didn’t really think I wasn’t a girly girl (because I really was). But, I also realized her friends must have told her I was skinny and pretty much lacking any curves for way longer than the other girls (probably due to all the sports I played, now that I looked back on it) and that this was a way to play on my insecurities. What I didn’t know was why she felt the need. I didn’t even know her name.

 

I was about to start panicking I hadn’t come up with anything to say (because I actually did want to punch her and that would have just not gone down well) when James came to my rescue.

 

“I can assure you that Jocelyn is, indeed, a girl” he said with confidence, and a bit of cheek.

 

“What? She’s beater in your team, you of all people should know she’s definitely not” the girl insisted.

 

“Well, seeing as I’ve had some of the best sex of my life with her, I’ll just say you need to take my word for it. Jocelyn is a girl. Scratch that, Jocelyn is a woman” he said. Lily blushed crimson at this. I laughed and was high-fiving James when someone else joined the conversation.

 

“I second that” I hadn’t been this happy to see Hardin in a long time. He had the gift of good timing. I smiled seductively at him. He bent over and gave me a kiss. It felt slightly territorial which I guess was understandable following James’ outrageous (but hilarious) comment.

 

“Let’s grab that drink now” Sirius stood up suddenly, knocking over an empty pint of butter beer. It made me extremely angry.

 

“Hardin, why don’t you join us and sit here for a bit?” I said. Sirius tensed but didn’t turn around. He kept walking towards the bar and the girl, Fiore, followed him without another word to us.

 

Hardin sat next to me and we talked some more. At one point, Peter went to see his current girl and Lily agreed to accompany James to Zonko’s. Remus didn’t look happy to be stuck with Hardin and I. I couldn’t blame him; I was in a foul mood and every time I heard Fiore’s loud giggles I had to grip the chair I was sat on to stop myself from going over there and throttling her to death.

 

“I’m off to Honeydunkes. I need some more chocolate, I’m running low” Moony informed us after another awkward ten minutes or so.

 

“Buy me some, please? I’ll pay you back later” I asked. Maybe some sugar would rid me of this anger.

 

“Sure” and he left.

 

“I thought they’d never leave” I turned to look at Hardin, surprised he hadn’t picked up on my mood. I didn’t think I was that good an actress. The way he was looking at me told me that he had, indeed, not noticed. I was about to tell him I wasn’t really in the mood when I saw them – Sirius and Fiore – kissing.

 

I grabbed Hardin’s face and snogged him like there was no tomorrow.

 

Sirius’ POV

 

I was a moron. A complete and utter moron. No wonder Jocelyn had been pissed off at me. I had agreed to go have a drink with a girl who had just insulted her. What the hell was wrong with me? The day had been going so well. We were all hanging out, happy and relaxed. And I had ruined it. I saw out of the corner of my eyes that Peter left, then James and Lily, and then Remus. If Jocelyn was alone with Hardin, it was my fault and my fault only. Now, it was only a matter of time before they started making out and I really, really, really did not want to see that. So, feeling slightly disgusted with myself, I pulled Fiore in for a kiss.

 

James’ POV

 

I was over the moon that Lily wanted to come to Zonko’s with me. She had been different lately, and I was loving it. She’d even come to a quidditch practice last week. I didn’t dare ask her out yet, because I knew I probably had one chance and one chance only. If I blew it, that would be it. But, things were going well so I wanted to do it soon. The only thing I had to do was speak to Jocelyn first, just because she was kind of like a marauder and I thought the code applied to her too. In a strange way. I was confusing myself with thoughts of how the code applied to me wanting to date the best friend of another marauder who happened to also be my ex (which was obviously not a situation we’d considered, for what I hope are obvious reasons) when Lily waved a strange object in front of my face.

 

“Earth to James”

 

“Sorry, I was distracted”


“What were you thinking about?”

 

“Jocelyn” I realized the minute I said it that it was the wrong thing to say, especially after the little episode at the Three Broomsticks. “I don’t mean it like that” I quickly added.

 

“It doesn’t matter…”

 

“It does. It does matter. I don’t like her that way, she’s my friend” I insisted.

 

“James, it’s okay, really”

 

“No, it really is not like that. And, I shouldn’t have said what I said back there, but that girl was bang out of order and I had to shut her up for good”

 

“I thought that was kind of awesome. Very blunt, but awesome” she smiled blushing a bit. “I like it that you’d stand up for her like that”

 

“She is one of my closest friends” I shrugged.

 

“What were you thinking about, then? If you don’t mind me asking” she tried again.

 

“I was thinking I need to ask Jo if she’s okay with me asking you out” I blurted. “Obviously, that’s now completely irrelevant…”

 

“Yes”

 

“I was just a silly…”

 

“James! Yes” wait. What?

 

“Yes?”

 

“Yes” she smiled at me and, in that moment, I knew with absolute certainty that I would never love anyone else.

 

Lily understood that I wanted to speak to Jo about this, but she reassured me that Jo was going to be totally cool with it. Turns out, Lily had already talked to her about it. That made me giddy. Lily liked me enough that she had even spoken to her best friend about potentially dating me to ensure there were no obstacles. We bought a few items from Zonko’s and made our way back to the Three Broomsticks trying hard to pretend like nothing had happened. I was pretty sure I had a spring in my step.

 

“Oh, shit” she said as soon as we walked through the door. Lily didn’t swear very often, so this got me worried.

 

“What’s wrong?”

 

“Look” she said, pointing first towards Jo, who was being eaten alive by Hardin, and then at Sirius, who was also being eaten alive by the random Ravenclaw girl who had insulted Jo earlier.

 

“Well, I’m not that surprised…” she looked at me like I was stupid. I didn’t like that. “I feel like I’m missing something”

 

“You are. You so are” but no matter how much I begged her all the way back to Hogwarts, she refused to say another word about it.

 

Sirius’ POV

 

Prongs must have been feeling either particularly vicious or particularly enthusiastic the following Tuesday as he made us run, crawl, burpee and a million other things in the freezing slush that had been Saturday’s snow. I could hear Jocelyn muttering under her breath the various ways in which she was going to murder him, and I couldn’t help but to agree. By the time practice was done, I was soaked, freezing and wondering if I really did love Prongs that much or I could make it look like an accident (joking!).

 

“I am dead!” Jocelyn proclaimed, throwing herself on the nearest bench as soon as we reached the changing room.

 

“I’m having a strong flashback” Cal said. Most of the team laughed, the new kid looked confused.

 

“Laugh all you want. I refuse to move. My body is broken” she said, dramatically.

 

“You’ll catch pneumonia if you don’t get out of those clothes” Matt added.

 

“Are you offering to help?” she wiggled her eyebrows at him and, even though I knew she was 100% joking, I felt compelled to interject.

 

“Let’s not traumatize our fourth year, please”

 

“Stop being a drama queen, Jo” Prongs chuckled. She pouted.

 

“Carry me?” I could not believe this girl’s audacity. I could also not believe that James was actually considering it. I hoped this was totally platonic, but it bothered me anyway.

 

“THE DISRESPECT” I shouted. They looked at me. “I said it last year, and I’ll say it again. You have never done anything like that for me. Where did the ‘bros before hoes’ go? Have you no heart?”

 

Everyone started laughing hysterically at my joke (it was a good one, he). The most normal of our team members (everyone but Prongs, Jo and I) left the changing room after that. Jo was still refusing to move but her teeth were starting to chatter loudly. I couldn’t help myself.

 

“Come on, I’ll carry you” I scooped her up, and without looking at James for fear he’d see the truth on my face, walked out of the changing room.

 

“Thanks” she beamed at me and put her arms around my neck.

 

The walk to the Gryffindor Tower was both amazing and horrible at the same time. Amazing because I was carrying Jo in my arms and my thoughts were running wild and free imagining all sorts of scenarios where I did this, and she declared her undying love for me. Horrible because her face was way too close to mine and I was pretty sure I was dangerously close to spontaneous combustion.

 

That led to me remembering the episode on my birthday when, for a glorious second, I thought she’d been actually trying to seduce me for real before I remembered it was my birthday and there probably was a party waiting for me in the common room. Of course, some genius had assigned Jo as my distraction. If I ever found out whose idea that had been, I would kill them. I didn’t want to think of how close I’d been to jumping her bones that time.

 

“Thanks Padfoot” she whispered. I hadn’t even noticed we’d arrived at our destination. I nodded and put her down.

 

“I’m going to take these off before Lily has a heart attack, see you later” she bounced up the staircase and I stood there for a second just remembering all the times I’d been close to Jo. 

 

Prongs was already in our room when I walked in. I nodded my head in his general direction by way of greeting and went to the bathroom to change out of our quidditch robes. With the whole Jocelyn scene I had not done it earlier. When I came back out, Prongs was still sat in the exact same spot he had been before. And he was looking straight at me.

 

“You okay?”

 

“We need to talk” he said. Oh shit.

 

James’ POV

 

I spent the three days following the Hogsmeade visit watching Jo closely because a) it was bloody difficult to catch her alone without it looking suspicious to everyone else so I had to be prepared for when the opportunity arose and b) I was determined to find out what it was I was missing (Lily still wouldn’t tell me).

 

Observing Jo led to two conclusions: first, she had been practicing magic outside of normal schoolwork, and I was very curious as to how and why. Second, I wasn’t the only one watching Jo. Padfoot spent a lot of time following her around with his eyes. This struck me as a little strange. Sure, Jocelyn was a bit prone to accidents but since the Hufflepuff game last year and not counting the Death Eater attack over the summer, she hadn’t actually been in any mortal danger for a long stretch. There was no apparent reason for Padfoot to be observing her so closely, so I grew curious.

 

The first clue was the look of disgust on Sirius’ face when Hardin sat next to Jocelyn for dinner on Sunday evening. The second clue was how he quickly withdrew his hand and purposely avoided touching her during transfiguration on Monday (they were still paired up for that class). The third clue was that he curled his fists when Matt suggested Jo take her clothes off after practice on Tuesday. When he scooped her up in his arms and marched out of the changing room without looking my way, I knew. I had done the exact same thing last year. It was so fucking obvious I smacked myself in the face. How had I not noticed this before? How long had Lily known? How long had this been going on for?

 

I sent a quick message to Moony and Wormtail to inform them they must stay away from our room for a while and used a passage to get there before Padfoot.

 

“We need to talk” I said when he finally emerged from the bathroom. He looked like he was about to be violently sick but tried really hard to hide it.

 

“Sure, what’s up?”

 

I wanted him to tell me himself, just because I was slightly hurt he didn’t trust me enough to have come clean to me before, so I tried to give him an opening.

 

“I asked Lily out. She said yes”

 

“That’s amazing Prongs! I am so happy for you mate!” he beamed at me, clearly excited for me.

 

“I need to tell Jocelyn. Make sure she’s okay with it” I said. Maybe he’d get the hint?

 

“Oh, right. Yes. Do you think she won’t be okay with it?” he asked me.

 

“I think she will only care about us being happy” how thick is this guy? Is he not getting it?

 

“That sounds like Jo” he said, smiling at me again.

 

“Yep”

 

“So, when’s the big date?”

 

“We haven’t decided yet. Even though I know she’ll be fine with it, I still want to ask Jo first” seriously, Sirius (he, he-he) what more do you need?

 

“What’s the marauder code for this situation?” he asked me, looking confused. That distracted me a little.

 

“Yes, I was thinking that too. We obviously don’t have a rule for when we want to date the best friend of a marauder, albeit an honorary one, who happens to be another marauder’s ex… it’s confusing. I just think I’ll tell her how I feel. The rulebook is outdated anyway”

 

“Outdated?” FINALLY. He looked at me sideways, pretending he didn’t really care about this comment.

 

“Well, we wrote in fourth year, didn’t we? When we started actually liking girls and you and Remus snogged the same girl and got into a fight about it” I reminded him.

 

“Exactly. And we wrote it so it wouldn’t happen again. No girl is worth losing a brother over” he said somberly. I felt like I was making progress so I kept going.

 

“And no brother would hold it against another if it was the real thing” I said, looking pointedly at him.

 

Sirius’ POV

 

I heard Moony’s voice in my head. He believed James wouldn’t mind. And so did Lily. And he was now going to take Lily on a date. Lily, whom I knew was James’ one true love. A small spark of hope grew in my chest. Could I do this? Could I come clean to Prongs? I was terrified.

 

“And no brother would hold it against another if it was the real thing” he said. The look he gave me told me all I needed to know. He already knew and I was making a fool of myself by denying it.

 

“I’m sorry” I sighed, dropping my head in my hands. I was so tired of this.

 

“Why didn’t you tell me when I asked you?” there was no anger in his voice, just plain curiosity.

 

“I didn’t know” I looked at him, he was nodding.

 

“When did you realise it?”

 

“I… the first clue was the Hufflepuff game” I braced myself but Prongs didn’t get angry.

 

“I thought you’d saved her because you knew I cared. It didn’t occur to me you cared, too” he said, simply.

 

“That’s because you would never do something that disgusting. You would never want a friend’s girl so it wouldn’t cross your mind that I would, that I did” I was ashamed, but I hoped he knew I hadn’t been able to stop myself.

 

“You didn’t act on it, that’s what counts” that did make me feel better.

 

“I haven’t. I swear. Never” he nodded. “She doesn’t even want me, so it doesn’t really matter” I told him.

 

“Maybe she does? How do you know? You haven’t asked her. I think you’d be surprised”

 

“She’s with Hardin” the thought of that made me so angry I snapped the pencil I’d been playing with. I had no idea when or how I had picked it up.

 

“Padfoot. What exactly are we talking about here?”

 

“What do you mean? Like, if I fancy her? Of course I do. I fancy her” I sent a quick prayer to whomever was listening that he’d buy it.

 

“Sirius, you are a terrible liar” he said, looking at me with understanding and sympathy. I groaned.

 

“You know, you’re starting to sound a lot like Red” I said.

 

“She’s a smart one. Why did you tell her, of all people?”

 

“I didn’t tell her. She figured it out. She figured it out before I had even come to terms with it. She helped a lot when you and Jo were together”

 

“That must have sucked” he said.

 

“Yeah, you have no idea”

 

“That’s why you freaked out when I told you we broke up”

 

“Yup”

 

“And why you hate Hardin so much”

 

“Hardin is an idiot” I scoffed. James laughed.

 

“You are so beyond ‘fancying her’” he said giving me a pointed look.

 

“Fine, fine, I don’t just fancy her” I hoped he’d let me be now. I didn’t want to get all emotional and talk deep feelings.

 

“I know how you feel. I’ve felt that way about Lily for longer than I can remember, mate”

 

I guess that was what I needed to hear because, much like I had with Moony, I broke into pieces and had to let it all out.

 

“How did you deal with it for so long? I don’t think I can, Prongs. I think about her all the time, I look for her, I watch her, I want to be near her but then when I am I… I can’t breathe when I’m around her, Prongs. And I can’t stay away from her either. It’s killing me. It is fucking killing me” he nodded in profound support.

 

“You need to tell her. Fuck Hardin, you’re Sirius and Jocelyn, that woman trusts you more than anyone in the planet. And, you know, I wouldn’t be that surprised if she felt the same way about you”

 

“I… I don’t know. We’ve had a couple of moments… but, you know, what if it’s just that she’s attracted to me? It’s not like Jo’s been big on feelings lately” I cringed at the idea of becoming another one of Jo’s playthings.

 

“There’s only one way to find out”



Chapter 23: Welcome to the Order
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Jocelyn’s POV

 

‘Do not cause a scene, do not cause a scene, do not cause a scene’ I chanted to myself as Fettuccini (I never knew I could be this petty, but I refused to even think her name), the Ravenclaw whore that was currently sleeping with Sirius, walked over to our table after breakfast. We had a week left of term and were debating whether to go home or stay at Hogwarts for Christmas. She flicked her hair and put a hand on Sirius’ shoulder. I fantasized about chopping it off. It scared me a little. It was getting wildly out of hand.

 

“Hey, handsome” her voice was even more irritating than her general attitude.

 

“What’s up?” to my delight, Sirius moved ever so slightly so her hand fell off his shoulder. I knew he was my best friend for a reason.

 

“I was wondering if you’d like to have a drink in Hogsmeade this afternoon”

 

“I’m busy. It’s the last visit before the holiday, we’ve got plans” ‘take that, bitch’ I thought. Lily elbowed me a little and I looked at her, confused.

 

“You look like you’re trying to make her head explode” she whispered.

 

“Who says I am not?” I joked. She chuckled.

 

“Oh, well, let me know if you want to meet up when you’re back instead” she smiled suggestively at him and turned around. She walked away swinging her hips so much I thought she might break her back. If only.

 

We walked back to the common room and the boys went up to their room to change. We were about to do the same when a fourth year girl asked Lily for some help with a particularly difficult potion.

 

“Come up to our room, I have some notes that will help” she offered. She was such a good Head Girl.

 

The girl came with us. I started sorting through my trunk trying to decide what to wear when I knocked over some books. The fourth year girl hurried over to help me. She busied herself picking up pieces of parchment that had flown all over the place whilst chattering incessantly about how cool she thought I was. Then, she stopped talking mid-sentence and I heard a sharp intake of breath.

 

“Oh my Godric. So, Evelin was right all along” she whispered in awe.

 

“What?” I was confused. Who was Evelin?

 

“Evelin is my friend. She’s a year above me, in Hufflepuff. She told me she thought you and Sirius Black were together”

 

“What on earth made you think she was right?” I asked, curious.

 

“This” she showed me an old photo that had been forgotten inside one of my books. It was a photo of when Jax and I were dating, two summers ago. One of his mates had taken it whilst we were kissing.

 

I stared at it, wondering what it was that had her in such a state. And then, it hit me. It hit me like a ton of bricks. It was as if someone removed a veil from my eyes, and then I was looking at the photograph again, and I was seeing it through the eyes of this little fourth year girl. I had a very similar feeling as I did the day I figured out Remus’ secret. That epiphany feeling when all the pieces of the puzzle finally fit together, and they do so perfectly. Every little comment, every strange look that my friends had made and given Jax. Every joke I’d made about ‘tall, dark and handsome’ being my type and Lily slightly freaking out but trying to hide it. I fell on my arse.

 

“Lily” I said, panic clear in my voice. She had been distracted and had totally missed this little episode.

 

“Yeah?”

 

“We have a problem” I said.

 

The fourth year was dismissed with a quick explanation about the photograph not being of Sirius and Lily’s potion notes. As soon as the door was shut, she turned to look at me.

 

“It took you long enough” was all she said.

 

“This can’t be happening” I was starting to hyperventilate.

 

“Why are you so worked up about it? What’s the problem?”

 

“What is the problem?” I looked at her like she had grown a second head. “Lily, this is Sirius fucking man-whore Black we’re talking about. The other half of our very effective, very impressive beater team. My best friend”

 

“I really think you’re overreacting”

 

“I really think you aren’t hearing me”

 

“You haven’t really said anything, though” she said with a half-smile. Oh Godric, I hated Lily very much in that moment.

 

“Fine. What do you want me to say?”

 

“How do you feel about him, Jo?”

 

“I…” how did I feel? “I fancy the crap out of him” it was the truth.

 

“And why is that a bad thing?”

 

“Because! He’s my friend. He’s… he’s Sirius! He’s a womanizer and I am never ever going there”

 

“Jo, you’re overreacting. He’s not that bad”

 

“Oh Godric, the next few hours in Hogsmeade are going to be awkward as fuck” I groaned.

 

“Maybe he likes you, too” she offered.

 

“I have absolutely zero doubt that I could take Sirius to bed right this second if I wanted to” I informed her. “I did a little experiment on his birthday”

 

“Jocelyn Silverway, what did you do?” finally I was getting a proper reaction out of her.

 

“I had to keep him busy, didn’t I? I may or may not have put on a little show for him in the changing room. It worked” I felt rather smug about that still.

 

“Okay, then what’s the problem? If you already know he likes you, why are you freaking out?”

 

“He is Sirius Black. He likes everyone that’s good looking. That’s hardly an accomplishment”

 

“Well, I insist you could just try to see where things go. You should tell him” she said again.

 

“How do you suggest I do that?”

 

“You could try kissing him”

 

I thought about it. Lily saw I needed some time to process and went back to getting ready. I think she had a second date with James, but I couldn’t really care about that right now. I was busy remembering. I had been hopelessly ‘in crush’ with Sirius for the first four years of school. That had evolved into a solid ‘I hate Sirius Black’ campaign during all of fifth year. And then, sixth year had happened and we’d somehow become best friends.

 

I thought of all the times I had noticed how handsome he was and dismissed it as ‘everyone thinks Sirius is handsome’. I thought about all the times I was caught up in his eyes, at how I thought he was Moony because the silver in them reminded of me of the moonlight reflected on the ocean. I remembered the time I’d fleetingly considered kissing him because we’d stumbled on the floor together in his room. I remembered the excruciating terror I had felt when I realized he had almost died saving me, and the relief so intense I felt at seeing him I hadn’t been able to refrain from punching him repeatedly. I remembered how the only place I felt safe after the attack that took Alice was his arms. I relived the run-in with the Slytherins, when he was almost touching me but not really as we pretended to be a random hookup. Our hands together at the party after the Slytherin game.

 

As all these thoughts raced through my mind, I looked again at the photo the younger girl had found. If I didn’t know, I would have also believed it was Sirius. They looked so much alike it was uncanny. Was that what had drawn me to Jax? Was my mind somehow trying to trick itself by going for a look-alike of what I really wanted?

 

And then, I knew why I hated Farfalle so much. I was jealous. ‘I am so screwed’ I thought to myself.

 

**

 

“We still haven’t decided what we’re doing for Christmas” Moony informed us as we sat down at one of the larger tables in the Three Broomsticks.

 

“We should vote on it” Lily said. I nodded. “I’ll go first: I think we should stay in school. It is our last year and we’ll have many more Christmases outside but no more at Hogwarts”

 

“I think we should go to someone’s place. Prongs, probably” Remus said.

 

“I agree with Moony” Wormtail voted.

 

“I agree with Lily” nobody doubted that would be James’ vote. I rolled my eyes but smiled at him. It made me happy they were starting to date.

 

“I think we should stay in school” I said. And I meant it. I felt I had fully healed and regained control of my life, but I hadn’t gone to talk to Dumbledore about the Order yet. I was worried he’d talk me out of it, so I had been procrastinating. I felt Christmas period would be a good opportunity to get over it and just do it. 

 

“I agree. It’s the last time, like Red said” Sirius closed the vote and it was decided. We were not going home for Christmas.

 

With that settled, the conversation turned to more trivial things until Hardin showed up. He’d been hanging out with Matt and Cal. All three of them came to our table to say hi.

 

“Jo, can I borrow you for a moment?” Hardin asked me after exchanging a few pleasantries with everyone else.

 

“Ehm...” I glanced at Lily who was pretending to watch the scene with disinterest. She offered no help at all. “Sure, I need to get a round of drinks anyway”

 

I stood up and followed him to the bar. I ordered our drinks and turned to face him while I waited for Rosmerta to serve us.

 

“So, Jo, I wanted to ask what your plans are for the holiday” he said.

 

“I’m staying in school”

 

“You are? Amazing. So are we” he gestured vaguely in the general direction of his friends. “A lot of people are staying, parents feel it’s safer”

 

“People are starting to get really scared, aren’t they?”

 

“I hear this Lord Voldemort is forcing people to act against their will and betray those close to him. I think he’s creating chaos and uncertainty on purpose, the more fear he inspires the easier it is for him” he said. I looked at him. Hardin was a good guy. He was cheeky and flirty, but he was smart and treated me nicely. Why couldn’t I just like him for real?

 

“I don’t fear him” I said.

 

“Not everyone is as brave as you” he replied, shrugging. Rosmerta put all drinks on the table that moment. I was getting ready to balance half on them and ask Hardin for help with the rest when Sirius appeared.

 

“I’ll give you a hand” he offered. “I figured you wouldn’t be able to get all of these to us in one go”

 

Hardin glared at him, Sirius glared back at Hardin.

 

“I was already helping her” Hardin said. Sirius grabbed a few of the drinks and smiled at me, completely ignoring him.

 

“We’re about to start a round of never have I ever” I laughed. This was our favorite game, and the only way to get Lily drunk.

 

“How old are you? Thirteen?” Hardin scoffed.

 

“Nobody was inviting you” Sirius replied to him. “Let’s go”

 

I was going to follow him when Hardin stopped me. I looked at him a bit confused and realized a second too late what he was going to do. Hardin’s lips were on mine and, for the first time since we’d been casually dating, I didn’t know how I felt about it. He pulled away and smiled not noticing my inner turmoil.

 

“Have fun. Maybe I’ll see you later?” he could have left it there and it would have been fine. But no, testosterone had to play a part and make him look at Sirius, who was standing right there and with a smug look add, “my bed and I miss you”

 

Sirius looked like he was about to punch him, so I shook my head lightly and refused quickly. “I don’t think so Hardin, not today” I grabbed Sirius’ arm and led him back to our table.

 

I was confused. It had really annoyed me that Hardin had kissed me like that and made comments about our sexual life in front of Sirius because, well, I was still trying to figure out how I felt about him and rubbing my pseudo relationship in his face wasn’t going to help me in any way. Besides, it was just bad manners from Hardin. But, why was Sirius so angry? Could it be that he was a bit bothered by it?

 

He was in a foul mood for the rest of the afternoon. Not even Lily’s tipsy giggles made him smile. When we got back to the castle, Lily and James disappeared off somewhere. I made my way to the common room with the rest of the boys. Hardin was already there, playing explosive snap with his mates. He waved when we walked in and Sirius took off towards his room without a word.

 

Lily’s POV

 

I wanted to smack Sirius and Jocelyn over their heads with their bats so badly. It was obvious to me that they were really into each other. Fair enough, Sirius had actually told me, so that wasn’t too hard. Jocelyn, on the other hand, was still trying to figure it out. She thought she ‘fancied him’. What a load. It was actually painful to watch her watch him when he wasn’t paying attention, and then watch him watch her too. I wanted to do something about it, but telling them wasn’t going to work. They had complex feelings for each other and they were also best friends, and a team. If this was going to work, it had to happen on its own.

 

“You are awfully quiet today” James said. We were in a place he called the ‘Room of Requirements’. It was a room that gave you what you needed. I was so intrigued by it I had made him come in and out at least six times to test how it worked before finally agreeing to just sit down and talk like normal people do.

 

“Sorry, I was just thinking about Jo, and Hardin, and that little scene at the Three Broomsticks” I told him.

 

James had informed me that Sirius had confessed to being in love with Jo, and that he knew I knew. I really liked that James trusted me and wanted to share these things with me. We had discussed if we could help Sirius out at all, and we both agreed there wasn’t much we could do. James was worried that this situation would mess with their quidditch team, but I had assured him Jocelyn and Sirius would rather die than not win the cup again.

 

“Padfoot’s got to get a grip. Jo is smart, she’s going to catch on to his jealous stunts soon” he told me, stroking my hair as my head rested on his chest.

 

“She is smart but also a bit oblivious. She probably thinks Sirius just hates Hardin in general” I told him. “And I think she’s a bit jealous of that Ravenclaw girl. Perhaps Sirius will realise it and say something to her?”

 

“I don’t think so. He’s convinced himself Jo isn’t into him like that”

 

“What a pair of idiots” I sighed.

 

“They would make such a power couple” James said. I smiled.

 

“They would. I hope they get together. It’d be nice, we could go on double dates… I can totally even imagine a holiday in Jo’s villa, just the four of us” I smiled, a bit lost in my daydream. I sat up to look at him and see his face.

 

“I like the way you think, Lily Evans” he said, looking at me intently.

 

“What else do you like about me, James?” I had been meaning to ask but I didn’t know how.

 

I knew that he’d sworn he had no feelings for Jo anymore, but I couldn’t help it. I kept comparing myself to her and I always came up behind. She was just so fiery, and funny, and brave, and she was an amazing quidditch player and so fit and sporty. And I was… well, very good academically, and quite smart, but that was about it.

 

“I like that you’re so perceptive, and that you understand people’s feelings. Your empathy is incredible. I like that you’re so smart, and hardworking, and driven. I like that you’re independent: you don’t need anyone but you also value and cherish your friendships. I like that you are strong” at that, I raised my eyebrow in disbelief so he hurried to explain. “I mean emotionally strong. When Alice died, you could have gone over to the dark side, like Jo did. I’m not judging her, it hit her hard and we all grief in our different ways, but you didn’t let your pain consume you. You were there for Moony, because he needed you to be, and eased his pain and grief even though you were hurting, too”

 

I was at a loss for words. This didn’t happen often. I was half expecting James to say something along the lines of ‘I like your eyes and your hair, and your pretty face’. I was expecting some superfluous comment about my good grades, maybe or, if he was really trying to impress me, something about dealing well with some of the name calling I had to endure from Slytherins due to my parents being muggles. I was not expecting him to know me, to have seen me the way he had.

 

“Say something, please” he looked nervous, and vulnerable. I didn’t even know James Potter could be vulnerable. The look on his face, so open and honest and filled with hope for what the future could hold for us unleashed something in my heart and I knew, without a doubt, that I had found my epic.

 

I didn’t have anything to say, so instead, I kissed him. It was our first real kiss, because I refused to count the bottle thing. In the back of my mind, I heard a little voice tell me, with no small amount of joy, that this was my last first kiss.

 

Jocelyn’s POV

 

Last day of term had arrived and about half the students were getting ready to leave. This year there was a record number of people staying. I watched from the couch on the common room as people moved trunks around and said goodbyes, but I got bored quickly and went back inside my own head.

 

The past week had been strange. Now that I had been enlightened about the existence of my feelings for Sirius, even if they were still unidentified at this point, I noticed things a lot more than I did before. These things I was noticing were distracting. This past week in particular had been a nightmare.

 

On Tuesday, we had our last quidditch practice of the term and after another grueling session in the cold mud (albeit not horrible enough for me to throw a tantrum), we took our kit off in the changing rooms as it was custom. There were only two girls on the team now (myself included) so we got a little area to one side with some more privacy. I had almost fallen flat on my bum when I had seen Sirius coming out of the shower with a towel hanging loosely around his hips. He was even hotter and fitter than last year (and I hadn’t known that was possible until now).

 

On Wednesday, we had agreed to cancelling our usual beater practice in favour of finishing a couple of essays so we didn’t have to work during the holidays. We had sat in the library together and I had struggled to stay focused on my Charms assignment. I couldn’t stop stealing glances at him. I loved the way his long-ish hair fell forward when he was bent over his parchment, and the way his lips pursed ever so slightly when he was concentrating hard.

 

By Thursday evening, I was pretty much in physical pain and Lily had a fit of laughter when I told her I was in need of a cold shower even though it was the middle of December.

 

I decided I had to distract myself from the wild fantasies I has having, all of which involved Sirius in a towel. And I had to do it fast. So, before I could chicken out, I ran up the boys’ staircase and knocked on the door. There was no answer. I ventured into the lions’ den and found the map without much difficulty. Hoping Prongs wouldn’t die of a heart attack if he found it missing, I took it with me. It was slightly disturbing that I was using the marauders map to avoid running into the marauders but I really didn’t want them to know about this.

 

I succeeded in making my way to Dumbledore’s office without being spotted. I stood awkwardly outside of it, waiting. I had seen McGonagall was there with him so I figured I would wait for them to finish and go in when she came out. Turned out this wasn’t necessary. After about a minute of waiting, the statue thingy moved and let me in.

 

“Miss Silverway, I was expecting you a lot sooner” he said calmly.

 

“I... may have been avoiding it” I said truthfully.

 

“I thought you wanted to join us. You spent months tracking us, and we know you’ve been practicing defense” it was McGonagall that spoke. I stared at her incredulously but then realized it wasn’t really that strange that she would be in the Order too.

 

“I do. I was just worried you’d turn me away. You know, because I’m seventeen” I shrugged. “But I want to join you. I have been practicing, I am strong, I am agile and I am an illegal animagus”

 

“And the Order could really use your help”

 

Even though I had just been accepted into an extremely dangerous secret organization whose members risked their lives every day fighting terrorists fear was the last thing in my mind. I felt proud of myself, I felt ready, I felt so very alive.

 

“What’s first?”

 

“You need further training. You are very advanced but we can’t let you join missions until we are confident you have a high chance of survival. We do not risk our lives recklessly” McGonagall said. I nodded.

 

“I want to know more about Lord Voldemort, too. And his Death Eaters” I said.

 

“Your first task - not mission - while you’re in training is to help us find out if any students openly support him. We know some Slytherins repeat what they hear at home but there’s a difference between snickering at a muggle borns and supporting their murder” Dumbledore’s face was very grave as he spoke. “Do you think you can do this?”

 

“I know I can” and I already had a plan in my head. The only problem was that the marauders were not going to be happy with it. At all. Oh, and that it probably meant I was blowing my chances with Sirius forever. But, if that’s what it took to help take down Lord Voldemort, so be it.

 

My plan was called Christian Rosier. He was one of the most popular Slytherin boys in our year. He was very handsome according to the general female population of the school but I had never looked his way twice. He was a Slytherin and, most importantly, he was blond. So not my type.

 

**

 

I was introduced to the fellow members of The Order of Phoenix the following day in a small house in Hogsmeade. After catching me up on recent events, news and other top level strategy items they wanted me to keep in mind, we started my assessment. They wanted to test where I was at to design a training program that would get me to the required level as quickly as possible. People were dying and they needed more soldiers to join their ranks.

 

I stood in the middle of the room with my wand, ready.

 

“Jocelyn, what would you say is your strongest magical skill?” I was asked by a funny looking guy called Alastor Moody.

 

“It’s a tie between transfiguration and defense”

 

“How good are you at transfiguration?” he asked. Instead of answering, I shape shifted. There was a murmur and I changed back, feeling a little bit smug. He was nodding. “That will be very useful indeed. Very smart to stay unregistered”

 

“I’ve been practicing defense, too. My shield charms are strong, and my patronus is fully corporeal. But my real strength is offense. I apply the same principle as I do to quidditch: fast and furious”

 

At this, Moody started laughing loudly. “Where did you find this gem?” he joked with McGonagall. She gave him a nod with a small smile playing on her lips. Then, back to business, he said to me “let’s see what you can do.”

 

A few hours later I was back in school. I was more tired than I had ever been after a magic lesson before. As much as I had impressed them, I still had a lot to learn and they had been ruthless. I was grateful, even if I felt like I needed to sleep for an entire day to recover. The marauders were in the common room when I walked in.

 

“Where have you been?” James asked.

 

“With McGonagall, doing some extra transfiguration work” I felt like the best lies have a bit of truth in them, so this would have to do.

 

“It’s the first day of holiday and you’re doing extra work? Are you alright?”

 

“No, I’m not. I feel like the weight of my responsibility and maturity is crushing me” I made a dramatic gesture and they all laughed. “Move” I told Sirius, ready to plop myself on the couch next to him.

 

He grabbed my hand and pulled me down on top of him instead. This had never been a problem before. Because I am small in stature, and Sirius is, well, tall, dark and handsome, we often shared armchairs or a single spot on a sofa to help make room for the rest of our group. I used to feel very comfortable on his lap in general but that was before I had started to fancy him. Or should I say, before I realized it.


“What are you guys doing?” I asked, trying to play cool.

 

“We want to ask Dumbledore to let us throw a New Year’s Eve party in the school” Peter informed me. I got excited at that.

 

“Oh, that sounds great. What does Lily think? Wait, where is Lily?”

 

“Head Girl duty, there was some sort of fight in Ravenclaw and she’s gone to sort it out”

 

“Fight? Ravenclaw girls know how to fight?” I said in a mocking tone. I could feel Sirius laughing.

 

“There was probably some hair-pulling and a lot of yelling” Remus joined in with Sirius’ laughter.

 

“Well, I think you and Lily should ask Dumbledore, you know, because you are Head Boy and Head Girl” I told James.

 

“That’s the plan” he grinned. James and Lily were officially an item and I was over the moon for them. Turns out, last week after Hogsmeade they kissed in the Room of Requirement and it had all just gone upwards and onwards from then.

 

“It would actually be quite cool to have a party here. We had a good time last year” I said.

 

“We’ll have to prepare a good surprise for when the clock strikes midnight” Remus seemed super excited.

 

They kept discussing possible plans for the party but I had become distracted by the fact that Sirius had carelessly placed his hand on my leg. My train of thought took off from there and I somehow ended up wondering who I’d kiss this year when the clock stroke midnight. I would like it if it was Sirius, I thought. But then, I remembered that I hadn’t put my Christian plan into motion yet, partly because I was terrified of how the marauders and Lily would react to it, partly because I hadn’t really had time to do it anyway. That was probably a guarantee that Sirius wasn’t going to go anywhere near me any time soon, if ever.

 

**

 

I woke up early and went for a run despite the fact that it was snowing. Lily was fast asleep. We had gone to bed late the previous night, too busy enjoying the fact that we had no class the next day and talking excitedly about how much she liked James. It was cute.

 

I used my time running to hype myself up for what I had to do. It wasn’t going to be easy, but it shouldn’t be impossible either. After all, Death Eater wannabe or not, Christian was a seventeen-year-old boy ruled by hormones, or so I hoped. I knew, just like everyone else, that Christian and a couple of his mates liked to work out in the morning. So, I made sure to end my run outside the gymnasium. I took a good look at him. He had blond hair and quite beautiful green eyes. He was tall and, I observed with interest, quite strong. I watched him work out for a bit whilst I pretended to stretch and, eventually, he realized I was staring. I quickly looked away and willed myself to blush a little. Without stopping to check if it had worked, I rushed out of there. The plan was in motion.

 

“Jo!” Hardin greeted me when I walked into the common room.

 

“Hey, Hardin”

 

“Have you got plans for today?”

 

“I’ve got quite a bit of work I’d like to get through, actually” I said. “After I shower”

 

“What about this evening?” he tried again.

 

“I can’t promise anything”

 

“Yeah, so you’ve said” he was disappointed, and I hated it, but I just couldn’t handle the complication right now.

 

“Look, Hardin, I like you, I do, but I told you I didn’t know where this was going to go when we started it. I don’t think we’re on the same page anymore” I told him.

 

“I’m sorry, it’s my fault. I keep asking too much of you” he sighed.

 

“I don’t think you ask too much, it’s just I can’t give you what you want. I want to stay friends, and I am not against a casual hookup, but I can’t date you, not the way you want me to anyway” I said.

 

“I’ll get over it, don’t worry about me” he gave me a quick kiss on the cheek, and I smiled at him.

 

“I’ll see you later”



Chapter 24: For the greater good
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Sirius’ POV

 

Jocelyn was acting weird again. Last night she’d come to dinner in one of those tops she used to wear back in September, and I had struggled to eat any food. The light fabric of the blouse clung to her body in ways that I found painfully unfair. She had also increased the amount of make-up she wore, again. This wasn’t a big deal, I told myself. Maybe she just liked makeup. What had me worried was that she kept disappearing with no explanation. I regularly checked the map, but I couldn’t find her in it half the time. When I could find her, however, she was in busy areas of the school with a bunch of other random students around her.

 

I didn’t like it. I had a bad feeling about this. I know I had said to James being around her was killing me, but not knowing where she was or what she was doing was even worse. The only thing that made it bearable was that she wasn’t with Hardin, for he was often in the common room with Matt and Cal when Jocelyn was gone.

 

“Have you seen Jo today?” I asked Lily as we all sat in the common room together.

 

“She went running this morning again and I saw her when she came back to shower but not since. She said something about catching up on work and that extra assignment she’s working on with McGonagall” Lily replied.

 

“Explosive snap?” Peter suggested. People nodded and he started getting things ready.

 

“She’s been AWOL since the day before yesterday” I said.

 

“She’s been training a lot” Lily informed me.

 

“What do you mean? Jo has always trained a lot”

 

“No, like, more than usual. She’s been running every morning since the holiday started and she’s gone to the gymnasium twice in the afternoon. She never trains in the afternoon”

 

“Do you think she’s upset over Alice still?” James asked her.

 

“Alice did love Christmas. Maybe she’s finding it hard to enjoy the holiday. Maybe she feels guilty” Lily said looking thoughtful.

 

“That sounds like Jo” I shook my head. I wish she’d stop beating herself up over Alice’s death.

 

“I’ll see if I can talk to her tonight when she gets back”

 

We spent a few hours chilling in the common room, but Jo didn’t come back before we gave up and went to bed. I checked the map one last time before falling asleep and spotted her in Dumbledore’s office. I thought this was a bit strange, but then again Jo was always running errands for McGonagall so this could just be one of those.

 

The following day, Jo showed up to breakfast. Lily was whispering something furiously in her ear, and she was smiling. I relaxed a little.

 

“Morning” she sat next to me and I handed her a plate with toast, butter and jam.

 

“Thank you!”

 

“You’re welcome. Where have you been? You missed an intense explosive snap game yesterday. Peter almost lost his eyebrows” I told her. She chuckled.

 

“I’m busy. Doing lots of extra work for McGonagall”

 

“It’s Christmas. Has she no mercy?”

 

“Apparently not” Jo shrugged.

 

“Are you working with her again today?” I asked her.

 

“Yup. But I think I’ll be done in time to join you tonight” she replied.

 

“Moony will like that. He feels better knowing there’s three of us who can stand up to him if he gets too wild” I whispered. She nodded.

 

After breakfast Jo took off in the direction of McGonagall’s office and we headed outside for a snow fight. It had been a good season and we had plenty. Lily looked frightened.

 

“You have nothing to worry about. Prongs has the best aim, and he’s never going to attack you. You’re fine” I told her. She beamed at me.

 

“I’ve never had a snowfight before” she said.

 

“You have no idea what you’ve been missing” I grinned.

 

“Did you talk to Jo?”

 

“A bit, yeah. She’s working with McGonagall a lot, she said, but she’ll be back tonight to join us with Moony”

 

“I asked her last night when she came in, she was a bit grumpy and didn’t say much” she informed me.

 

“Do you think there’s something else going on?” I asked.

 

“I think she’s probably missing Alice. And she’s probably tired, I mean, she wakes up at the crack of dawn and comes back late…”

 

“You don’t sound too sure”

 

“I have a strange feeling, like there’s something we’re missing” she said, shrugging. “We’ll find out eventually. Jocelyn isn’t the most subtle of people”

 

I laughed at that. The snow fight was outstanding. I landed a couple of brilliant blows on Prongs and managed to walk out relatively unscathed until he teamed up with Lily and Remus. Peter tried to help me, but he wasn’t great at these things. It was hilarious.

 

We made it back wet and cold just in time to get ready to go with Moony to the Shack. I was starting to wonder where Jocelyn was, she hadn’t show up yet. We were getting impatient when Red walked into our room.

 

“Jo can’t make it. She’s still with McGonagall” she said. It was clear she’d come running from somewhere.

 

“Oh, right, thanks for telling us” Peter nodded. I was pretty sure I’d seen McGonagall alone in her office 20 minutes ago on the map, but I didn’t have time to point it out and argue about it. We were already late. I was severely pissed off at this, Jo knew how much this meant to Moony.

 

“Be careful! I’ll see you tomorrow” she waved goodbye at us, gave Prongs a quick kiss and left again.

 

Jocelyn’s POV

 

My plan was working. I had started wearing the ‘emo slut’ clothes again (some of them) and hanging out in the general vicinity of Christian more often. I made sure he caught me staring and always pretended to be embarrassed about it. This had to be believable, and there was no way in hell he’d buy it if I just went for it. My strategy was to make him believe I fancied him but was trying to talk myself out of it because he was a Slytherin. I knew he’d eventually want to get with me, even if it was just to get back a James.

 

I lied to Lily about work with McGonagall and, because I hadn’t really lied to her ever before, she believed me and took off to inform the marauders I wouldn’t be joining them at the Shack that night. I felt guilty, but at least this time it wasn’t to spend time flirting with a snake. I wasn’t spending all my time trying to seduce Christian. I also had training with the Order.

 

That night we met in Hogsmeade again. It was extremely hard to concentrate whilst I could hear the awful noises coming from the Shack, but every time I heard them, I reminded myself that Alice was part of the reason I was training. I wanted to fight because what Lord Voldemort was doing was wrong, but I also wanted to fight for her. To avenge her.
 

Sirius was very angry at me for missing the full moon, but he forgave me quickly after I made puppy eyes at him. Lily found this hilarious. 

 

I took a short break from training with the Order and my Christian plan to celebrate Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with the marauders. Everything else could wait. If I was going to go through with it all, this could be the last time I was welcome amongst my friends and I was going to make the most of it. We wanted to have a small, private dinner on Christmas Eve and exchange gifts the next morning.

 

“Does anyone even know how to get food at Hogwarts?” Lily asked. We were in the marauders’ room. She was sitting on James’ bed and I was on the floor, my back on Sirius’. I didn’t think it’d be good for my sanity to sit on his bed.

 

“You offend me” Sirius said. I laughed.

 

“Right, so how do we get it?”

 

“We go to the kitchens, of course” James said smugly.

 

“You know how to get into the kitchens?” Lily’s eyes were wide. I sometimes wondered if she remembered who it was she was dating.

 

“I’ll even take you, if you want to be in charge of the food with me” he offered.


“I object to that!” I said. They looked at me. “If we send Lily and James together to the kitchens there’s a big chance we’ll die of starvation before they make it back. If she wants to see the kitchens, she can go with anyone but James”

 

“Jo’s got a point” said Remus. James was looking at me like he might choke me.

 

“Sorry Prongs, I’m not risking our Christmas Eve feast” I winked at him. Lily was blushing.

 

“I’ll go with you, Lily. And Peter, you should probably come with us. Us three fit under Prong’s cloak” Remus said.

 

They took the map and the cloak and left, promising to be back soon. I got up from the floor and lounged on Remus’ bed, stretching a little bit. I noticed then that both James and Sirius were eerily quiet. I was about to sit up and ask what this was about when I was viciously attacked by a pair of giant white pillows. They were merciless as they pummeled me. Shrieking, I tried to protect myself with my arms and legs, kicking and thrashing as they expertly dodged me and hit me again, laughing maniacally.

 

“THIS IS FOR RUINING MY ESCAPADE TO THE KITCHENS WITH LILY” James shouted every time he hit me.

 

“You’re killing me! What shall you do if you permanently maim your best player, cap?” I shouted between giggles. He stopped a second to think about it, and I took the moment of hesitation to regain control of this war.

 

I jumped to my feet and stood on the bed, firmly holding Remus’ pillow and aimed at Sirius, who was closer. We were engaged in a ferocious fight to the death when James, whom I had totally forgotten about, hit me in the back. ‘Backstabbing bastard’ I thought as I lost my balance and stumbled from the bed. I crashed into Sirius with force, and we both went down in a heap of pillows and limbs. We came to a stop and my heartbeat skyrocketed. My knees were on either side of his hips. The realisation that I was basically straddling him and, much like last year, my face was about two inches from his made me blush furiously. I felt his sharp intake of breath and was about to do something completely stupid when the door burst open and our three friends came back carrying boxes and bags of food.

 

I sprang up so fast I hit my head on a bedpost and landed painfully back on Remus’ bed.

 

“Ouch”

 

“What the hell?” Peter looked at Sirius, still on the floor, the various pillows thrown around the room and me, sat on the bed rubbing my head.

 

“Pillow fight” James said, smiling wickedly.

 

“We got the food!”

 

We had a wonderful dinner, laughing, playing explosive snap and just having the best time. We drank some beer and some whiskey, played silly games and talked about the best memories from the previous years at Hogwarts. I think it was starting to dawn on us that we were really leaving the school at the end of this year. It was quite sad.

 

Around three in the morning, Peter dozed off. Remus was next, closer to four. Then, Lily mumbled something about not wanting to walk back and crawled into bed with James – the first time ever – and fell asleep with him. I was quite pissed off that I’d have to go back to my room on my own. I wasn’t drunk but I was well past ‘tipsy’ and exhausted.

 

“Jo” Sirius whispered.

 

“Mm?” I was so tired.

 

“Come here” he was sat on his bed. Maybe it was the whiskey, or how tired I was, or that I just, for once, wanted to do something I’d regret later. I sat next to him. “You don’t have to go back alone, if you don’t want to”

 

“I don’t want to”

 

“Then stay” and he lay back and shuffled to the side. I was small enough that there was plenty of space for us to share a bed without too much touching. I turned to face him. He was very close.

 

“Sirius?”

 

“Yes?”

 

“Merry Christmas” he smiled, and I think he said ‘Merry Christmas’ too, but I was already asleep.

 

We exchanged gifts the following morning. I had got Lily a pair of expensive muggle shoes she had been obsessed with for ages. She insisted on putting them on, which James greatly appreciated. They made her look super sexy. I got James a new pair of quidditch gloves, Peter a bottle of his favourite cologne and Remus a year’s supply of Honeydunkes chocolate, delivered regularly once per week to wherever he was. He was over the moon. Lily got me a new pair of sunglasses I’d been after for some time and were impossible to get. James a brand-new bat and a miniature, toy broom (I was deeply touched he remembered this from when we were kids). Peter got me a limited edition of one of my favourite books and Remus got me an album of photos of me playing quidditch for Gryffindor. I was quite shocked; I didn’t even know they took pictures. It was an awesome gift and I loved that Sirius was in more than half of the pictures.

 

I had purposely waited to give Sirius his present until the end. Everyone was distracted, talking to each other or enjoying their presents, so I turned to him and tried to speak quietly.

 

“So, I got you something, too” I said. “But I couldn’t bring it to the room”

 

“How come?”

 

“It’s a bit big”

 

“I’m very curious”

 

“Do you think we can sneak out?”

 

“They won’t mind”

 

We left the room with James’ cloak and the map and, like Sirius predicted, nobody said a word. I didn’t stop to think they might have done it on purpose because I was nervous. If I had got this wrong, I was going to be so embarrassed. Huddled under the cloak, I took Sirius through the passage where I had helped James bring him to the infirmary last year. We came out behind the castle and I led him to the edge of the grounds.

 

“You are killing me, Jo! What’s going on?” I could tell he was excited, and it made me giddy.

 

“Just a bit further” I kept going, praying to whoever was listening that he liked his present. “Right, here we are”

 

“Wait, I got you something, too” he said.

 

“Oh?”

 

“What? Surely you didn’t think I wasn’t going to get my favourite beater a present?” he said. I smiled.


“You go first” I told him. He nodded and took something out of his pocked.

 

“I hope I got this right” he said, handing the box over.

 

I opened it and almost dropped it. Inside was a pendant more beautiful than anything I had ever seen before. I was shaped in the form of a rose, made of perfect, glittering dark stones.


“Are… are these… Sirius, what are these?”

 

He looked slightly uncomfortable before replying, “Black diamonds”

 

“But… but… Sirius… this must have cost you a fortune. Do you know how rare these stones are?”

 

“Trust, me I know. It wasn’t easy to find them” he half-joked.

 

“I… don’t know what to say”

 

“Do you like it?”

 

“It’s absolutely perfect. How did you know I love roses? I’ve never told anyone”

 

“I didn’t. I guessed. I thought they suited you. And, well, not super original but Sirius Black… black rose… you get me” he shrugged. I smiled at him and, in a spontaneous impulse, threw my arms around his neck.

 

“I love it. Thank you,” I stepped back before he could feel the frantic beating of my heart. Then, I took it out of the box and held it up. “Help me?”

 

He did. I remembered the day on his birthday when he’d grazed my skin putting up my zip. His fingers trailing lightly on the back of my neck had a similar effect. I had to concentrate hard to remember the reason we were out here in the first place.

 

“Right, well, ehm… now your present. Tada!” I said, waving my wand. You do not want to know how hard it had been to get a muggle motorcycle over to Hogwarts grounds and keep it disillusioned until today. Boy, was I glad Minerva and Albus had agreed to help me (being in the Order had perks).

 

“MERLIN, GODRIC and MY UNCLE ALPHARD,” he exclaimed in awe. I let out a breath I didn’t know I was holding at his flamboyant enthusiasm.


“You like it?”

 

“ARE YOU MAD? Of course I like it. Oh my God, Jocelyn! This is the best gift I have ever received” he ran over excitedly and started checking things here and there. I had no idea how it worked, but I was so happy he liked it this much.

 

“I haven’t even told you the best part yet,” I said smugly.

 

He turned to look at me, his eyes wide and a little wild around the edges. “What could possibly be better than a muggle bike?”

 

“A muggle bike that flies,” I said with a smirk.

 

He opened his mouth, then closed it, opened it again.

 

“Do you want to take it for a spin?” I asked him to help him out of his stupor.

 

“Hell yeah”

 

Being on the back of a flying motorcycle holding on to Sirius’ extremely hard and taut abdomen was the most delicious kind of torture. I was so absorbed in thoughts of how insane his body was that I wasn’t paying much attention to the fact that he was being rather reckless with his flying. I let myself get lost in the moment, resting my cheek against the back of his shoulder. I desperately wished that the moment would last forever. If I could have stayed there, flying on the back of the bike with my arms knotted around Sirius for the rest of my life, I would have been content. When we finally landed again, I explained to him I had arranged for the bike to be stored near the boathouse until we left school at the end of the year. He was quite impressed I’d managed to convince McGonagall to let me do this, but I explained it away rather convincingly with the whole ‘I’m her favourite student and illegal animagus at her request, so she kind of owes me’ thing.

 

As we walked back to the common room, I started to get anxious and rather upset. The last two days had been the best I had had since Alice died. I was not ready for the day to end, but there was nothing I could do. I knew it would be a long time, perhaps forever, since I had another day like this with the marauders. They were so not going to forgive me for Christian.

 

“You okay?”

 

“Huh?”

 

“You look… sad” Sirius said, glancing sideways at me.

 

“I was thinking Alice would have loved our little Christmas party” I replied. I hated myself for lying, but what could I do? I did not want any of them involved with the Order. I could not bear it if any of them died on me.

 

“She would have” he put an arm around my shoulders and pulled me closer. We walked like that until we reached Gryffindor Tower.

 

“Thanks for the necklace. It is amazing” I told him for like the hundredth time.

 

“If I’d known you were getting me the bike, I would have got you a mountain of those things” he joked. I laughed.

 

We re-joined our friends and spent the rest of the day with them. I noticed Sirius didn’t tell them about the bike yet, and it made me happy that he wanted to keep it our little secret, even if for a little while.

 

When I went to bed on Christmas Day I cried myself to sleep. I desperately wanted it to be someone else’s job, I wanted it to be someone else’s war, someone else’s heart on the line. But it wasn’t. It was me, it was up to me to protect my friends, to fight Lord Voldemort and get revenge for Alice. As determined as I was to accomplish it, I was also scared to death. I had no idea how I was going to manage losing my friends, losing Sirius.

 

I wasn’t a person that lived life with regrets, but as I lay in my bed, face buried in my pillow to muffle my sobs, I thought I deeply regretted the fact that I would never find out what kissing Sirius felt like. The thought hurt me more than I thought it had any right to.

 

#

I was starting to worry that my plan wasn’t working. We were two days away from the New Year’s Eve party and Christian hadn’t made his move. It was confusing me. I had caught him staring a lot during the past week, and now sometimes held his gaze for a bit before breaking it and pretending to be flustered. But, I couldn’t go talk to him. The whole thing would only be believable if he made the first move.

 

Lily had hinted that she thought something was off, but I had dismissed her as best as I could. Lucky for me, she spent a lot of time snogging James these days, so she was a bit preoccupied. Sirius also spent a lot of time ‘mysteriously running around the grounds’ according to his friends, who still didn’t know about his bike. I, however, hadn’t gone with him again. I couldn’t. I had to build this up if they were going to buy it, and putting distance between us was the first step. So, instead of hanging out in the common room, I was mostly holed up in the Room of Requirements practicing or swaggering around the Library when Christian was working there. I had also sat with Hardin, Cal and Matt for a couple of meals arguing I was in a hurry and sitting with the marauders always took very long.

 

The day before the New Year’s Eve party all my efforts finally paid off. I was sat at the end of the breakfast table with Hardin, Cal and Matt, reading a magazine when I heard a stronger than usual murmur around us.

 

“What the fuck does he think he is doing?” I heard Matt, of all people, say.

 

I looked up at that and saw that Christian had walked almost all the way to our table. His gaze caught mine and he nodded almost imperceptibly towards the entrance hall.

 

“He’s acting weird. Probably trying to start a fight, must be bored” Cal dismissed Christian’s behavior when he didn’t make it all the way and, instead, turned towards the doors.

 

“Excuse me, guys” I put my magazine away and stood up. Christian had already left.

 

I walked out and caught a glimpse of blond hair disappearing down a side corridor. Taking a deep breath and digging deep to find the worst of me within myself, I followed him. He was casually leaning against a wall and smirked when I came into view.

 

“Jocelyn Silverway” he said. I gave him a half smile.

 

“Christian Rosier” I swaggered down the corridor until I was standing in front of him.

 

“You are an interesting girl” he said, eyeing me. “I thought Gryffindors were above mingling with other houses”

 

“I shouldn’t be talking to you”

 

“Then, why are you?”

 

“I said I shouldn’t, not that I didn’t want to” I shrugged. He smirked even more.

 

“I have heard you don’t always follow the rules”

 

“Where’s the fun in that?”

 

“Well said” he adjusted his position a bit.

 

“So, you called me?”

 

“I wasn’t sure you’d actually come” he said, truthfully. I had to take a second to compose myself at the doubt that crossed his features. I had to remind myself that even if he was planning to join Voldemort, which I sincerely hoped he wasn’t, he was still just a seventeen year old kid. And so was I.

 

“Well, I did” I moved a little closer to him.

 

“You did…” he took my hand in his. Not in a romantic way, more in a ‘I am studying your hand’ kind of way. He played with my fingers, intertwining them in his for a bit before speaking again. He looked at me, not letting go of my hand. “What do you want, Silverway?”

 

“I’m not sure yet”

 

“Maybe I can help you figure it out,” the smirk was back. I smirked back at him.

 

“I sure as hell wouldn’t be in a corridor with the enemy if I didn’t think you could, would I?” he laughed at that. It was a detached and cold kind of laugh. I didn’t like it very much.

 

“I heard rumours you were a handful”

 

“What else have you heard?” I said a bit more suggestively.

 

“You know, boys like to brag… I wondered if it is true, or if it’s all talk”

 

And then, knowing full well that this would cause a rift between me and my marauders, possibly forever, I pressed myself up against Christian and said: “why don’t you find out?”. I had barely finished speaking when his mouth crashed on mine.

 

If it wasn’t for how disgusted I was at the fact that I was snogging a potential Death Eater, I might have enjoyed it. Christian knew what he was doing, and he was good at it. We snogged for a long while before I pushed away.

 

“You can’t leave me like this” he complained.

 

“I can, and I shall. Keep you coming back for more” I winked at him and turned to leave.


“Wait!” I turned to look at him. “Save me a dance tomorrow” he said, smiling wickedly. I returned the smile and left.

 

Lily’s POV

 

Jocelyn was putting a lot more effort into her looks than I had ever seen her before. I was very excited about the party but this was no Crystal Ball, so I was curious.

 

“What’s with all the prep today?” I inquired. She smiled mischievously.

 

“I might have a someone to impress” she said.

 

“Sirius?” I asked her. Her face made a strange grimace.

 

“Yeah, Sirius” she replied half-heartedly. I thought she was still having doubts so I tried to be encouraging. It killed me not to be able to tell her the truth about how he felt.

 

“I think you guys could make it work, if you actually gave it a go, you know?” we had woken up on Christmas Day to find Jo and Sirius sleeping in the same bed, pretty much spooning.

 

I had had to bury my face in James’ pillow to stop my excited squealing from waking them up. I was hoping they’d admit to kissing, but apparently it hadn’t happened. Leave it to Jo and Sirius to be totally head over heels for each other and still manage to share a bed without getting it on.

 

“We’ll see” was all she said.

 

We walked down to the common room where the boys were waiting for us. James looked dashing in his robes and he looked at me in a way that made me feel all giddy and excited. I always felt like the prettiest girl in the world when I was with him. I, however, also had to wonder how Jo had any doubts about whether her and Sirius would work when I saw how he was looking at her. If James ever looked at me that way in public I’m afraid I’d make a spectacle.

 

Jo was wearing a beautiful red dress that suited her frame perfectly. It hugged her curves in all the right places and even made her look a bit taller. Her dark, chocolate hair contrasted with the bright red of the dress in a very nice way. Sirius could not take his eyes off her. The tension irradiating from him was such that it was making me bothered and I had nothing to do with it.

 

Jo either didn’t notice or was extremely good at pretending. She smiled and waved at everyone and then we were on our way. Sirius offered her his arm and she took it. They looked gorgeous. They reminded me a little of movie starts on those Hollywood red carpet events.

 

The Great Hall looked incredibly beautiful. There was music playing already and several tables set up with lots of food and drinks. The marauders had assured us they had managed to sneak in some of the muggle whiskey Jo was super fond of – turns out the teachers had magically banned fire whiskey from the party, so our boys had found a way to get around it. Things were going really well. I was dancing with James, and Jo was dancing with Remus. Then I danced with Sirius and Jo with James. All the while Peter was with his current girl. He’d come talk to us for a bit every now and then, and go off with her again. It was rather cute.

 

“Sirius, I think you should ask Jo for a dance” I whispered to him as we swayed.

 

“I’m working on it. I think I need another drink” he replied. I looked at him in surprise. He was building up the courage… I realized this was more than just a dance he was going to ask for. Tonight was the night!

 

“Oh my God, you’re going for it, aren’t you?” he nodded, looking rather panicked. “Good luck” I whispered.

 

I let go of Sirius and cut into James and Jo’s dance. She winked at me and headed to the bar.

 

“Let’s keep an eye on them, I think Sirius is finally going to make a move” I told James. His eyes almost popped.

 

“Oh god, I am so nervous” he whispered. I squeezed his hand. This had to go well for our friends. It had to.

 

Jocelyn was pouring herself a drink when Sirius, taking a deep breath, started walking towards her. I was silently cheering for Sirius when, for no reason whatsoever, the insufferable git that was Slytherin’s most popular kid, approached Jo.

 

“Why the fuck is Rosier talking to Jo?” James stopped dancing immediately.

 

“I have no idea. She’s never spoken to a Slytherin before” I said.

 

“I know that” he replied. “He approached her. Why?”

 

“Do you think he fancies her?” I asked. He was looking at Jo in a way that made my skin crawl.

 

“As if she’d ever even… what is she doing?!” James was in hysterics as we watched the scene unfolding before us.

 

I saw with growing concern that Sirius was glaring at Rosier from a few feet whilst Jo and him talked. She giggled at something he said and my alarm bells started to ring loudly. Then, Rosier held out a hand and said something that made Jo laugh even more. And, to our utter shock and horror, she took his hand and followed him to the dance floor.

 

Jocelyn’s POV

 

It was taking all my willpower and determination not to tremble. I could feel my friends’ eyes on me as I took Christian’s hand and followed him. I kept my eyes resolutely focused on his green ones so I didn’t accidentally glance at anyone I cared about. I had to give it to him, he was a good dancer. We swayed and twirled for a full two songs before I told him I was going to get the drink he’d prevented me from drinking before. If I was going to go through with the plan I was in need of alcoholic assistance. He nodded and, with a smirk, let me go.

 

I made my way back to the table and looked for the enchanted bottles with the muggle whiskey. I downed the first glass I poured in one go and was refilling when I felt a presence by me.

 

“What the actual fuck?”

 

“Save it, Sirius. I don’t want to hear it”

 

“What is wrong with you? Christian Rosier! Why did you dance with him?”

 

I shrugged, trying to look nonchalant. “He asked, I said yes. No big deal”

 

“No big deal? Jocelyn he is a Slytherin”

 

“It’s not like you don’t shag girls from other houses, Sirius” I said.

 

“Never a Slytherin!”

 

“They really are not very good looking” I said, half joking.

 

“I wouldn’t care if they were the most gorgeous people in the world, Jocelyn. Slytherins are bad news”

 

“I am old enough to make my own choices, Sirius”

 

“Well, you’re making all the wrong ones!” I was prepared for him to be angry, but not this much. I was kind of expecting this a bit more from James, the chairman of the anti-Slytherin brigade.

 

“It’s none of your business!” I grabbed my glass and walked away. I noticed he was following me. ‘Shit’ I thought.

 

I also noticed our timing was just piss-poor. People were getting ready for the countdown. I fleetingly thought about how much I would have liked it if we lived in a different time, a time of peace, and I didn’t have to do horrible things to help win the war. In that time, I would have probably kissed Sirius at midnight.

 

“Jocelyn” he caught up to me and grabbed my arm lightly. I couldn’t meet his eyes, so I pretended to be irritated at him.

 

“What? What do you want Sirius?” I pulled my arm away. 

 

The Order needed this, they needed me to find out as much as I could. I was their only agent still in school and the information I could access through the children of some of Voldemort’s inner circle was too valuable. People’s lives were on the line. With a heavy heart, I knew that even though it was going to break me to pieces, I had no choice. I set my jaw and gave Sirius the hardest, coldest look I could. The countdown began.

 

10…

 

“What I do…

 

9

 

…or don’t do

 

8

 

… is none of your business!”

 

7

 

I turned around

 

6

 

Christian was looking at me from a few feet away

 

5

 

I smiled at him

 

4

 

He moved quickly, glancing at Sirius behind me

 

3

 

I heard Sirius shout something but I forced myself to block it out

 

2

 

‘This is to avenge Alice’ I thought to myself

 

1

 

And Christian Rosier kissed me in the middle of the Great Hall.

 

The kiss was a rather short one. One minute I was snogging Christian, the next he was on the floor in a wrestling match with Sirius. His nose was bleeding. I started shouting at Sirius to let him go, but he was raging. If someone didn’t stop them, this was going to get very ugly. James appeared out of nowhere and jumped in but instead of helping to separate them, he joined Sirius in his attack against Christian. In a matter of minutes, the fight had escalated to a full-on Slytherin vs Gryffindor brawl. Even Hardin, Matt and Cal joined in. The commotion caught the attention of the teachers who flocked to us. Lily grabbed my hand and pulled me away from the fight.

 

“What are you thinking? Are you insane? What is wrong with you?” she was shell-shocked. I stopped shouting at them to stop fighting.

 

“I didn’t think it’d be such a big deal” I said.

 

“Jo! What the fuck? He’s Rosier, Rosier! I thought you hated him! Why did you let him kiss you?”

 

“He’s hot” I replied.

 

“You don’t like blond guys”

 

“Now I do”

 

“I swear to Godric Jo if you don’t tell me what the fuck is going on, I’m going to lose it” I didn’t think I’d ever heard Lily swear that much in my entire life. I couldn’t really blame her. I wanted to freak out at myself too. I just couldn’t afford to.

 

“He came to talk to me yesterday. He was nice, and civil, and asked me to save him a dance. And then we were dancing, and I thought, he’s nice looking and totally not my type, so I went for it” I shrugged. “Sirius and I aren’t meant to be. He’s my friend, and a man-whore. The sooner I get over this stupid crush the better. Christian is a perfect distraction”

 

“I can’t believe you, Jo. I thought we were past this self-destructive behavior”

 

“I am. Why do you care so much? This whole ‘he’s a Slytherin’ thing is getting old. You sound like James”

 

“Well, James has a point! They are bad people. You know how many times they’ve called me names?”

 

“I think you’re over reacting, it’s just a bit of fun” I said.

 

“I… I am so disappointed Jo. I never would have thought this of you” and with that, she left me and joined James and the other marauders who were trying (and failing) to calm Sirius down now that the fight had been broken up.



Chapter 25: Fireworks
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Sirius’ POV

 

I woke up on New Year’s Day feeling like absolute crap. My hands hurt and my head was spinning. It took me a moment to remember what had happened. Jocelyn. Jocelyn kissing a snake. The biggest snake of all. I couldn’t think of anything or anyone that was worse than Rosier except for Snivellius.

 

“What the fuck!” I shouted to no one in particular. I was so angry.

 

“Oh, you’re awake” Lily appeared somewhere in my vicinity.

 

“She’s your friend. Explain. Was she cursed? Imperiused? Love potion?”

 

“I don’t think so” Lily sighed. James joined her by my bed, and I decided to sit up and face them.

 

“I don’t understand” I said.

 

“Neither do we, mate” James ran a hand through his already messy hair. “This is so out of character. He’s not even the type of bloke she usually goes for”

 

“I just have a horrible feeling about this” Lily shivered.

 

“Go on” I demanded.

 

“She said she wanted to go for him precisely because he’s the polar opposite of everything she’s used to. Not just looks wise, but personality wise too”

 

“Why?” Remus joined our little meeting.

 

“I have no idea”

 

“She’s been acting strange lately” I informed them. “I don’t think she’s been working with McGonagall. Most of the time I can’t find her on the map”

 

“Do you think she’s been... you know, with him?” Peter suggested.

 

“With Rosier? What like this has been going for a while?” James was absolutely horrified at the idea.

 

“It would make sense, wouldn’t it? She wouldn’t tell us about it” Remus said.

 

“This is Jocelyn we’re talking about, guys. She’s the most loyal person I know after Prongs. It doesn’t make sense. There’s got to be another explanation” I insisted. If I accepted that she just fancied him it would break me, and I wasn’t sure I would be able to put myself back together.

 

“I agree, it’s very strange, but I can’t imagine any legit reason for her to snog him in the middle of the great hall” Remus commented. I had to hold on to my blankets to refrain from punching something again. I did not need that image back in my head.

 

“I agree with Sirius. This is not something Jo would do” Red said. “There must be an explanation. There’s something we’re missing”

 

“What if she just fancies him? I mean, he’s a major dickhead but I know for a fact girls like him” Peter supplied. I growled at him. He recoiled and put his hand sup. “Sorry”

 

“I thought Jo fancied Sirius” said Remus.

 

“You did?” I asked him.

 

“Yeah, but I’m sorry to say mate, I was wrong. There’s no way she would have done this if she liked you. She knows of all the people in school this was probably the only one you’d never forgive” he said, shaking his head.

 

“FUCK” James grabbed my hand before I reached the bed post I was aiming for.

 

“No punching stuff, Padfoot. I need your hands to remain functional” he told me. I crossed my arms angrily.

 

“What do we do about Jo?” Peter asked.

 

“Nothing. She made a very public and strong statement. She needs to come to us” said Lily.

 

“Aren’t you supposed to be on her side?” I asked her.

 

“I am. If we go after her she won’t budge. Whatever is going on in her head she needs to sort out for herself. Pushing her won’t work” Lily explained.

 

“And in the meantime? Are we just going to be okay with her and... that?” Remus asked.

 

“Absolutely not” James said.

 

And so, it was decided we would wait it out. I was determined to give Jo the benefit of the doubt and be civil towards her but all thoughts of friendliness flew out of my head when we walked into the great hall and saw her sitting with Christian at the Slytherin table. It all went downhill from there.

 

Everywhere I looked I saw them. He seemed unable to take his hands off her and was always touching her in one way or the other and, even worse, she let him. I couldn’t stomach it. I knew I could not be alone with her, not even for our beater practice. I wasn’t even sure she’d show up, so I stayed behind. When I saw on the map that she was waiting for m, it took all I had not to go meet her. Instead, I went looking for Fiorella hoping she’d distract me long enough.

 

Lily was in bits. She confided in us that ever since they had become friends in first year, her and Jocelyn had never had a fight. Ever. That was very impressive considering even us marauders had had a feud or two. She kept looking at her across classrooms and the great hall, and I was pretty sure she was willing Jocelyn to come back to us with her mind. If only it was that easy.

 

We figured out pretty quickly that Jocelyn was sleeping in the Room of Requirements. This made James very happy because he could go stay with Lily every night. According to James, they hadn’t gone all the way yet, but Lily missed Jo so much she couldn’t sleep unless James was there. I was happy for my best friend. They really were the perfect couple. In the rare moments I was feeling cheerful since this whole thing with Jo and the snake had started, I had even begun writting notes for my speech at Prongs’ wedding. I was willing to bet it wouldn’t take too long for him to propose to her after graduation.

 

Jocelyn’s POV

 

After the party episode with Christian, my friends pretty much shunned me. This was, of course, what I had expected and planned for. It made my little charade all the more believable. Christian, being the disgusting snake that he was, took extreme pleasure in flaunting our ‘thing’ in front of them every chance he got. I hated myself for letting him, but I quickly realized that the more I fed his ego, the more careless Christian was around me. He’d have conversations with his friends with me by his side, probably thinking I was lovestruck and wouldn’t or couldn’t hear or understand. They used some ‘code words’ but they were so lame I had no trouble figuring them out.

 

“I like your new bird” said one of his friends a day or two before the end of the holidays during lunch. I had taken to sitting at their table since I wasn’t really speaking much to anyone in my house.

 

“She’s the reason we lost the first quidditch game, again” said another. I hadn’t learnt their names yet. I wasn’t too bothered.

 

“Yeah, that sucks but you’ve got to admit it’s pretty sexy. She’s got mad flying skills” replied the first.

 

“Thanks” I muttered.

 

“How do you think the Carrows and Snape are going to take this?” friend two asked Christian.

 

“Take what?”

 

“That you’re seeing her now” it was annoying that they talked about me as if I wasn’t there, but I kept quiet. If they got used to it, there was a big chance they’d eventually start talking about other things as if I wasn’t there, too.

 

“I don’t need to ask them for permission” Christian replied.

 

“I didn’t mean it like that”

 

“I can shag whomever I want. Alecto needs to get over herself” I looked at him at that.

 

“You’re with the Carrow girl?” I asked him.

 

“No. Not more than I’ve been with anyone. You know I don’t date” he shrugged.

 

“I don’t want any fucking drama, Christian” I said. I had caught on pretty quickly that he liked it when I wasn’t afraid of him. The cockier I was, the more into me he got.

 

“There won’t be” he assured me.

 

“Let’s get out of here. I’m bored out of my mind” I said. He stood up and I followed.

 

We walked out of the Great Hall and, as luck had it, we ran straight into the marauders as they, too, were leaving. I wanted to say something, to explain it to them, to beg them to see beyond the charade I was playing, but I must have been a lot more convincing than I gave myself credit for, or they never really knew me as well as I thought they did, because they had bought it.

 

“I think it’s time I show you my room” Christian said a bit louder than necessary.

 

“Lead the way” I saw Sirius fists curl and James put a hand on his shoulder out of the corner of my eye. It took all I had in me not to run after him.

 

“People are back tomorrow. I’d like you to meet my friends” Christian told me the night before the holiday was over. We were in his bed, his hand was playing with my hair.

 

“Really?” I looked at him.

 

“I do. I like you” he told me with a small smile.

 

“I like you, too” I replied fighting the urge to gag.

 

“You can stay here tonight, if you’d like” he offered.

 

“Is your cold heart thawing, Christian?” I teased him. It was a well-known fact that no one, not a single girl, had ever stayed and slept the entire night in the same bed as him.

 

“I think it might be. If you tell anyone, though, I’ll have to kill you and that would be sad, so don’t” he replied.

 

It turns out that not even Death Eaters were immune to feelings. They were awful people, who had very little if any reservations at all when it came to pursuing their own blood-purist agenda, but they understood family, and their own wicked version of love and loyalty. Christian’s parents had been in love since they were in school, he had told me.

 

“Why don’t you date, then?” I had asked him.

 

“I haven’t found anyone who’s worth it. Girls at this school are too dramatic, too weak. They fawn all over me, follow me around like lost puppies. They don’t seem to have brains of their own. Who wants to date someone like that?”

 

“That is your fault and your fault only. You pick the wrong girls” I teased.

 

“Well, turns out I needed a short, annoying, and stubborn Gryffindor. Who would have thought? Snakes and lions don’t mix often” he replied giving me a kiss.

 

“They still don’t”

 

“You are better off without Potter and his idiotic friends” he scoffed. I rolled my eyes.

 

“You’re jealous they are better at quidditch than you are” I said.

 

“You are better at quidditch than I am, and I don’t think you’re an idiot. Just sorted into the wrong house”

 

“Well, they were my friends. I kind of miss them” I told him.

 

“I find it strange you’d remain friends with an ex-boyfriend” he said.

 

“What would you know? You’ve never dated anyone!”

 

“I think if two people can remain friends after having been together they’re either still in love with each other or they never were in the first place” my mouth formed an ‘O’ at this.

 

“Since when are you so deep?”

 

“I know all about the theory of falling in love, I have just never experienced it myself” he shrugged. I tilted my head to the side.

 

“There’s a lot more to you than meets the eye, Christian”

 

“I still only started hooking up with you to piss Potter off” he told me matter-of-factly.

 

“I know”

 

“What I don’t know is why you went after me” he said.

 

“I told you, I wanted to try something different. You are as different as different can get for me” I traced a finger across his chest. He was fit.

 

“Well, I don’t blame you. All those goodie, noble Gryffindors must be boring as hell in bed” he smirked, catching my hand and pulling me in for a kiss.

 

Later, we walked down to the Slytherin common room together and I left after sitting around for a bit. I thought of going to my room to pick up some clothes but it was late, and Lily was likely to be there. I couldn’t face her. She was the one most likely to see right through my lies, so I headed to the Room of Requirements instead. I sat on the armchair by the window and sighed. It didn’t matter that Christian wasn’t as horrible as I thought it would be, I was still miserable. I didn’t like him; I was pretty sure he was somehow involved with Death Eaters and Voldemort and I hated myself for sometimes forgetting it when he captured me with his charm.

 

Yes, it made it easier to pretend, and I was thankful for that. But I loathed the fact that I was a silly girl and that he could kiss my senses away. I hated it because every time I left and found myself alone the guilt and pain and longing for my friends and what could have been was stronger than ever. Every day became a little harder to bear and it had only been a week. I bit my fist to choke the yell that tore my throat apart and fell on the bed in a sobbing mess.

 

#

 

The great hall was busy for lunch. Everyone had come back today sometime during the morning, but I’d been hiding in the Room of Requirements until I was too hungry to stay there any longer. I had thought of going to the kitchens, but I always risked running into them in there, so I had waited for lunch instead.

 

“Jocelyn” I would recognize that voice anywhere.

 

“Sirius” I turned around. He was alone. We were alone in the corridor. So very alone.

 

“I want to talk to you” he said.

 

“Sure, I’m on my way to lunch” I replied.

 

“I meant somewhere we can’t be interrupted”

 

“Christian is waiting for me” I delivered the blow as gently as I could but still firmly. I knew myself and my weakness (who was standing right in front of me). If this plan was going to work, I had to keep him away from me.

 

“Are you fucking kidding me? Since when does your plaything prevent you from spending time with your friends?”

 

“Since you broke his nose in front of everyone!”

 

“He deserved it”

 

“He did nothing wrong” I said. He looked hurt and angry.

 

“He’s a snake, Jo. He’s going to end up hurting you. Why are you even with him? Of all the blokes in the school, why Rosier?”

 

“Well, Gryffindor was clearly not working out for me and I wanted to date someone new, someone different. Christian is different”

 

“Yeah, but he’s bad different. You hate Slytherin for crying out loud. I’ve seen you aim bludgers at their fucking faces just for fun” he said. He was absolutely right, and I didn’t have an answer to that.

 

“You shouldn’t have caused such a scene. Besides, you guys are the ones icing me out since New Year’s Eve”

 

“You haven’t even sat with us for a single meal in the past week! What are you going to do today? Are you going to sit with Snivellius? Lily will be thrilled!” he spat.

 

“Lily used to be good friends with him so she can’t really talk. The only reason they stopped hanging out was because he was obsessed with her and it was creepy”

 

“They are all creepy, Jocelyn!”

 

“Sirius, I really don’t feel like fighting with you. You don’t like Christian, I get it, but you’ve been quite horrible to me and I don’t feel like sitting with you guys for lunch today or at all. Now, I’m going to find him” I turned around and started walking.

 

I didn’t realise how badly I wanted him to come after me until he didn’t. A tear fell down my cheek. I wiped it away furiously and went straight for the Slytherin table. Christian had saved me a seat and, by the looks on their faces when I approached, he’d told them about me already. His little group included both Carrow siblings, Severus Snape, two boys I could never remember the name of and, sometimes, Regulus Black. He was younger than us but so moody and dark he looked older. He was almost as handsome as Sirius was but he didn’t have silver eyes and his jaw wasn’t as defined. It was like watching a version of Sirius that had a million little flaws. I wondered if anyone else noticed this.

 

“You’re friends with Evans” said Snape as soon as I sat down.

 

“She’s friends with my brother” Regulus Black said the word like it burnt his tongue. I shot him a look. He sounded so much like Sirius my heart hurt.

 

“Hello to you too” I retorted. Christian smiled.

 

“I told you she’s feisty”

 

“She’s annoying” said Alecto Carrow. I laughed. “What’s so funny?” she glared at me.

 

“That you think I’d be offended you called me annoying”

 

“Enough. Jo’s with me, you lot respect that or there’ll be trouble” Christian threatened.

 

“I don’t trust her” said Amycus.

 

“You don’t have to. You trust me, that’s enough” Christian replied.

 

“We can’t exactly discuss the holiday now, can we?” said Alecto, visibly annoyed.

 

“Sure you can, it’s not like I care what party you went to” I said feigning boredom. They shot me a condescending look.

 

“Christian, please, can you pass me that plate over there?” I pointed at a salad and he got it for me. I busied myself with my food. I knew they were assessing me, so I deliberately looked distracted and even hummed to myself a little bit.

 

“We went to a party at the Malfoy’s” Alecto said tentatively. I didn’t even let my eyes flicker. “Everyone was there. And I mean everyone

 

“Any interesting gossip?” Christian asked. He was trying to keep his tone light but I could feel him tensing next to me.

 

“Well, the Lestranges are going on a vacation tomorrow for a week. They’re visiting some relative that works with magical creatures, he specializes in werewolves”

 

“That’s quite cool” Christian said. My heart was beating fast.

 

“Yeah. Anyway, everyone asked where you were. I told them you wanted to stay in school and they all agreed you must come home for Easter. We’re having another party and we were told it will be to die for” she said.

 

“Finally!” Christian said. In his excitement, he momentarily forgot his caution. “We’ve been fucking waiting for this for ages. They won’t leave us out of the loop anymore after that”

 

“If we do well” said Snape.

 

“We should go to class now” interrupted Amycus. I could almost feel the glance he shot in my direction to alert the others they were saying too much.

 

“I agree, I’m bored” I said, standing up. Christian followed and I took a moment to kiss him before we all walked out.

 

The day went on forever, but I couldn’t exactly disappear. It would have made them suspicious so I had to wait until the day was over. I made an excuse for Christian that I had to work on an essay and went straight for Dumbledore’s office. Albus and Minerva were impressed with my report and also very concerned.

 

“We’ll send word to keep an eye on the werewolf clans we know” Dumbledore said.

 

“I also think they are going to be marked” I told them.

 

“Are you sure?”

 

“I am pretty sure, yes. They won’t talk about it openly in front of me, they don’t trust me, and they know even if I’m dating Rosier, I would never join in with this”

 

“Keep it that way. We’d rather they don’t tell you everything than you being in a situation you can’t get out of” Minerva told me.

 

“I will”

 

“Jocelyn, I know this is hard on you…”

 

“Don’t. The Order has to come first. Lives are at stake, my own little drama doesn’t count at all” I interrupted him. His eyes twinkled but he didn’t say anything else.

 

That night, I didn’t feel like seeing Christian, so I went straight to the Room of Requirements. I was still reeling from my run-in with Sirius that morning and the news that I was, indeed, basically sleeping with the enemy. I had hoped that Christian would turn out to be just a silly snob, not a real death-eater wannabe. I was wrong, and it made it all so much harder.

 

Thinking of Sirius, I went over to the little drawer the room had provided me with and took out the black rose he’d given me, and spent hours staring at it, crying quietly. I missed him. I missed James. I missed Remus and Peter and I missed Lily. I felt so alone it was eating me alive.

 

The first time we had quidditch practice after Christmas break I walked to the pitch feeling terrified. I was clutching my broom so hard my knuckles were totally white. The team nodded in my general direction, but no one spoke to me. I tried to focus on my bat, on the bludgers and on the feeling of flying, but it just wasn’t working. It was the first time Sirius and I didn’t fly in perfect sync. In fact, it was a total mess.

 

As soon as practice was over, I practically sprinted away from the changing rooms. Things only got worse. Sirius didn’t show up for our private beater training the next day, and on my way back I walked in on him snogging Fusilli in a corridor. With that horrible image seared on my eyes, I went back to the Room of Requirements.

 

I also had to endure the humiliation of walking into our first transfiguration lesson of the new year to find that Sirius had asked McGonagall to let him work with someone else and, when she refused, he’d simply walked (more like swaggered) away. Not even two weeks’ worth of detention and McGonagall’s shrieks that he couldn’t miss the lesson stopped him. 

 

#

 

“Is it true that Black walked out on McGonagall?” Christian asked me that evening.

 

“Yeah, he threw a tantrum like the five-year-old he is”

 

“I think he’s got a crush on you,” he said. “Reg agrees with me”

 

“Oh, please. That guy has a crush on himself” I laughed. Deep inside I was hurting so badly it was all I could do not to start bawling in front of Christian. That wouldn’t go down well. He laughed too.

 

“Besides, it’s not like Reg knows much about Sirius anyway. They haven’t spoken a word to each other since Reg’s first year” I added.

 

“Well, doesn’t matter really either way, because you’re mine” he said, pulling me closer and kissing my neck.

 

“I am not property” I retorted.

 

“No, you aren’t. But I don’t like the idea of anyone else touching you. I’ve been thinking, it bothers me” he said getting quite serious all of a sudden.

 

“Are you asking me for exclusivity?” I raised my eyebrow at him.

 

“No. I’m asking you to be my girlfriend. For real,” he said. I wanted to scream, to shout at him that he was a Death Eater, and a horrible person, and that I didn’t want anything to do with him and that he’d never be half the man Sirius was.

 

“Ask me nicely” I said, instead.

 

“Jocelyn, will you be my girlfriend?”

 

“Yes”

 

After that, they didn’t bother to speak in codes around me anymore. I was playing my part so well I would have started to believe it if it wasn’t for the overwhelming pain of my broken heart.

 

Lily’s POV

 

I missed Jocelyn so much. It was hard to be in our room alone. I felt the empty space she’d left like a knife in my heart. I had already lost so much when Alice was taken away from us, why did I have to also lose my best friend? It was unfair.

 

“Lily?” a knock on the door surprised me. I still forgot James could walk up the girls’ staircase.

 

“Come in”

 

“Are you okay? I’ve been waiting for you” he said. I’d forgotten we were supposed to meet.

 

“Sorry, I was distracted”

 

“Homework?”

 

“No. I was thinking about Jo” I told him. He sat next to me.

 

“This must be super hard on you” it wasn’t a question but I answered anyway.

 

“It is. I feel like I’ve lost both of them, Alice and Jo. It sucks”

 

“I’m sure she’ll come around”

 

“Will you let her though?”

 

“She’ll have to grovel, but you’re not the only one who misses her” he said, sighing.

 

“I pretend I don’t because Sirius needs me, but of course I do” he added.

 

“I think she misses us too” I said. “She doesn’t look very happy”

 

“Well she doesn’t seem to be very sad either”

 

“It’s just confusing. When she’s with Rosier, physically, she seems fine but I think it’s a distraction. Like when Sirius hangs out with that Fiorella girl” I said.

 

“I don’t get what Jo needs distracting from, though. And why it has to be Rosier”

 

“Neither do I. She said she wanted to forget Sirius...”

 

“Why? He was about to ask her out! Why would she need to forget him? It’s absurd” James said raising his voice.

 

“I think it was an excuse. She is pushing him away though”

 

“I don’t fucking get it. He’s miserable and I know she can tell!”

 

“There must be some stuff we don’t know” I sighed. “Do you think they can work it out? Eventually?”

 

“Not unless she has some sort of amazing reason why she’s done this. Sirius would forgive anything but… Rosier? I don’t think so. Even less so now that Regulus is also hanging out with them”

 

“I really thought they were going to end up together. They are so perfect for each other” I put my head on his shoulder. “I hate that our friend is hurting and we can’t help him”

 

“Me too, Lily. Me too”

 

Jocelyn’s POV

 

The second quidditch game of the season was just as much of a mess as all our practices had been. Sirius didn’t trust me, and so I couldn’t trust him, and all our tactics and skills didn’t work. I tried my best but, for the first time since James had given me a spot on the team, we lost the game. I was raging. I guess a part of me had hoped that Sirius would love quidditch enough to ignore everything else. I was kind of counting on it to keep me going. Obviously, he’d rather lose than be civil towards me. I stayed in the shower for a long time, hoping everyone would be gone by the time I came out. I was happy to find the changing room empty.

 

I took my time. I didn’t really have anywhere to go or to be. I sure as well wasn’t going to see Christian that day, even my commitment to the Order had limits. I was only wearing my t-shirt and underwear when I heard the door to the changing room open. I turned around out of habit and froze in place. It was Sirius. He was staring at something on the bench close to me, and I realized he had forgotten his wand behind. I hadn’t even seen it before.

 

He walked very slowly and stiffly towards the bench. I resolutely ignored him. Thank Merlin he was also ignoring me. But then, he glanced at me and even though it was very quick, I saw it. All my determination crumbled.

 

“Sirius…”

 

“Don’t fucking talk to me,” he snarled. I recoiled at his tone.

 

“You don’t have to be so horrible, you know?”

 

“You should be used to it. You hang out with Slytherins now, isn’t ‘horrible’ what they do for fun?” he spat.

 

“I get it, you don’t like Christian. So what? It’s not like you were a big fan or Hardin, or Jax for that matter!”

 

“It wasn’t the same!” I thought that, even though he was shouting at me, this was progress. I much preferred a shouting match with Sirius than getting the silent treatment.

 

“Well, clearly not, seeing as you haven’t talked to me for two months. WE LOST THE FUCKING GAME BECAUSE OF YOU!” I knew the minute I said it, it was the wrong thing to say. In his rage, he took two big steps towards me so aggressively I backed away a little.

 

“Don’t you fucking dare pin this on me. This is on you. You are a traitor”

 

“You are being so fucking immature about it. I thought you were my best friend!”

 

“Well you thought wrong!” ouch. That hurt.

 

“That’s cruel”

 

“Karma is a bitch”

 

“I don’t believe you! You can’t pretend we weren’t friends because you’re pissed off I’m dating some guy!”

 

“You’re not dating ‘some guy’ Jocelyn. YOU’RE DATING THE ENEMY. WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?”

 

I realized with a jolt he’d kept walking towards me, and I’d kept backing away. This was brought to my attention by the wall I had rather painfully smacked my head against.

 

“I can date whoever I want. You do! You know I hate that fucking Ravenclaw slut and you still shag her every chance you get. How’s Christian any different?”

 

“DON’T SAY HIS NAME. I DON’T WANT TO HEAR IT” for a very short second I thought Sirius was going to punch me. Then, I realized how ridiculous that was as he slammed his hand on the wall instead. I felt his breath on my cheek and was suddenly hyper aware of the fact he’d got way, way too close to me in his outburst.

 

I turned my head again towards Sirius’ face very slowly. He was breathing hard. The air between us was thick with tension. His eyes were fixed on mine with an intensity I couldn’t bear. Silence hung between us, heavy with all the things I wanted to say to him but couldn’t. All the questions I wanted to ask him, but wouldn’t.

 

“You are blowing this way out of proportion, Sirius” I whispered, hoping to calm him -and myself - down.

 

“You aren’t giving me any choice” he replied.

 

“Why can’t you just be my friend and accept I’m dating him?!”

 

“BECAUSE I DON’T WANT TO BE YOUR FUCKING FRIEND!”

 

Of all the ways in which I had imagined a possible first kiss with Sirius Black, this was not even remotely an option.

 

His lips crashed mine, and there was no more shouting, no more swearing. There was nothing but him, his mouth, his tongue. He kissed me like it was the last night of our lives.

 

Fireworks.

 

There was no other way to describe it. Sirius’ lips burnt me; his body pressed against mine sent every one of my cells into overdrive. His kiss was all encompassing. I felt like it would consume me, like if we kept kissing my world might explode. It was intoxicating. I couldn’t do anything else than give myself over completely to it, body and soul. The hand he’d slammed on the wall now cupped my face whilst his other arm picked me up with ease. I wrapped my legs around him and buried my hands in his hair. He bit my lower lip and sent a rush of heat running through my veins. Everywhere he touched me, every inch of skin his hands explored caught fire. I whimpered in protest when our lips parted, and he started trailing kisses down the side of my jaw and neck. He bit me lightly, and then grabbed my t-shirt, pulling it over my head. I was afraid if he looked at me he’d regain his senses and stop, but when we locked eyes I realized he was just as far gone as I was. I had never seen his silver-grey eyes dark like this.

 

All thoughts quickly flew from my brain, however, when Sirius took off his own t-shirt and jumper in one swift motion. I tried to lean back ever so slightly to get a good look at his torso. It was all I could do not to drool. After that, it took about two more minutes for all our clothes to be discarded in a pile around us. Our kisses became more urgent, more violent; aggressive like our fight had been, even more desperate, if that was possible.

 

Even though I had had sex with four people before him, it had never been like this. Never. Not even close. When I gave myself to Sirius, in those final moments before it was over, I finally understood. Drowning in the sensations he awakened in me, and deafened by the sound of my heart shattering, I thought ‘Epic’.

 

Sirius’ POV

 

The quidditch game against Hufflepuff was embarrassing. I could see Jo trying her best, but we were just totally out of whack. When we landed, I remembered this same game last year and wondered if this was all my fault. I kept thinking that if I had been braver and told James how I felt about her earlier maybe I would have had a chance with her and this wouldn’t be happening. I was halfway to the common room when I realized I had left my wand on the changing rooms.

 

“For Godric’s sake! I forgot my wand”

 

“I can come with?” Prongs offered.

 

“Nah. Go ahead without me, I’m not in the mood for company anyway”

 

I walked back, still tormented by my failure to tell Jocelyn how I felt about her and wondering what would have happened if I had just said something earlier. I pushed the door to the changing room open and nearly had a heart attack.

 

‘What’s she still doing here?’

 

It took all my willpower and stubbornness to keep my eyes off her legs. I focused on my wand and my wand only. Grab it and go, quick and painless. She was trying to ignore me too, I thought. I was almost there. I almost had my wand when my eyes betrayed me, and I risked a glance in her direction.

 

The yelling match that ensued was one for the history books. She made me so angry, so irrationally furious that I couldn’t help myself.

 

Somewhere between the shouting and fighting I’d found my way to her. I always thought if Jocelyn and I ever did kiss it would either be a dare during a drinking game or a romantic first kiss after we declared our feelings for each other. It had never occurred to me that love and hate dance together over the same fine line, or that lust and wanting can override your brain and push you past the point of no return.

 

When I came back to my senses, with Jocelyn shaking in my arms, I felt as if I was standing on the edge of forever. This moment was going to change it all and I was terrified because I didn’t know which way it was going to go. I gently helped her get back down on her feet and ran a hand through my hair. She didn’t meet my eyes. That wasn’t a good sign.



Chapter 26: After taste
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Jocelyn’s POV

 

I needed to say something quick. If I let Sirius start talking, I had no doubt he’d convince me to never speak to Christian again. I had to make this quick and painful, push him away so he’d never want to come back.

 

“This was a huge mistake” I was surprised that my voice held and I sounded calm and sure.

 

“Jo, I don’t think...”

 

“I am with Christian. This shouldn’t have happened, I was upset and angry we lost the game. It was a stupid thing to do” I picked up my T-shirt and put it back over my head to disguise the trembling of my hands.

 

“I don’t believe you”

 

“Why? Why is it so hard to believe I’d like the kid? He’s hot and popular, he just happens to be in a different house”

 

“He is a horrible person who calls your best friend names because of who her parents are!”

 

“He hasn’t called Lily anything since we started dating. He won’t do it again” I sneered in his direction. This wasn’t going my way at all. I needed him to believe me, to let me go.

 

“Are you really going to throw away your friendship with us over this one guy?”

 

“What friendship? James is my ex and he’s now shagging my friend. Traitors both of them. It’s disgusting. Remus is still in pieces over Alice and sucks the life out of everything with his sadness. Peter is off with a different girl every week or kissing James’ ass in adoration. And you, well… you are you” I scoffed. “It’s not like I’m missing out on much, am I? Though I’ll give it to you, all that whoring around you do pays off” I would have very much liked him to actually punch me that moment. I felt like I needed to be punished somehow for what I had just said about my best friends in the world. It was awful and I hated myself for it, but it worked.

 

I was expecting him to say something, maybe shout at me some more but he didn’t. He turned around and grabbing his clothes off the floor and wand from the bench walked to other end of the room. I had never seen anyone get dressed so quickly. When he was done, he walked out.

 

“And the Oscar goes to... Jocelyn Silverway” I muttered to myself before crumbling on the floor and giving in to the tears.

 

James’ POV

 

Something was up with Padfoot. He’d come back five hours late after telling me he was going to get his wand and I could tell he was angry. Well, angrier. Sirius had been angry since New Year’s Eve, not that I could blame him. I knew he was hurting, and I didn’t know what to do make it better for him.

 

“Do you want to talk about it?” I asked him when he walked into the room.

 

“I didn’t think you’d be awake” he replied.

 

“Couldn’t sleep. I never can when we lose”

 

“What a shit game” he agreed with me.

 

“Disgusting”

 

“I thought you’d be with Red” he told me.

 

“I was, but then she fell asleep and I came back. I didn’t want to be tossing and turning, it might wake her up”

 

“Must be nice” he muttered.

 

“You’ll get over her” I said.

 

“I don’t think so. I’m starting to hate her, but that’s not really getting over it, is it?” he sighed.

 

“Did anything happen?”

 

“It did, but don’t ask me about it. I don’t want to talk” he said.

 

“I’m here, whenever you’re ready”

 

“Thanks, Prongs” and with that we went to bed.

 

The next morning, I met Lily in the common room and we walked to breakfast together. The guys were still sleeping. She looked so beautiful every single day. I felt like the luckiest guy alive.

 

“Is something wrong?” she asked running a hand through her hair.

 

“No, why?”

 

“You’re staring”

 

“Only because you are stunning and I was thinking how lucky I am” I told her. She blushed. It was very cute.

 

“Thanks, James” she kissed me quickly. “Did you manage to get any sleep?”

 

“Not really, but it’s okay. I’ll be back to normal tonight”

 

“I’m sorry you guys lost. But you still have a shot at the cup”

 

“No. If this mess with Jocelyn doesn’t get resolved, we don’t” I told her. We reached the table and sat down together.

 

“It’s taking way too long. I didn’t think I’d ever go over a month without talking to her, it’s been almost two” she sighed.

 

“I know you miss her. I miss her too, a lot more than I ever thought I would” I said. I felt awful about the whole thing, because a part of me kept telling me this was Jo, and she was loyal to us, and there must be a reason; but another part of me told me to just look at the evidence and accept she’d changed.

 

“It just doesn’t make sense” she pouted. “I feel like I say that sentence at least once a day, but it is true. It just doesn’t”

 

“Something happened with Sirius last night, he came back late and he was a mess. An even bigger mess than usual, I mean”

 

“You think something happened with Jo?”

 

“I am pretty sure something did happen. I only wish he’d talk to me”

 

“Maybe he’ll talk to me?”

 

“You can try” I told her. She smiled weakly at me, then her eyes darted to the door and I turned just in time to see Jocelyn walking in with Christian.

 

“She looks awful” Lily whispered.

 

It was true. She looked like she hadn’t slept at all. Worse, she looked like she was sick. But she was trying very hard not to show it.

 

“Now I know for sure something happened” I said.

 

“And I know she still cares about him. Look at her. She looks like she did when Alice died”

 

“Why is she still with Rosier, then?”

 

“I don’t know, but I’m going to find out” she said with a determined look on her face.

 

Lily’s POV

 

I borrowed James’ map and waited patiently all day for Jocelyn to leave Christian’s side. I was about to intercept her but she disappeared into the Room of Requirement and I couldn’t go in after her. Annoyed, I asked James if I could keep the map until I found the right time to talk to her.

 

It took me three days because Jo was actively avoiding me. I tried to talk to her after class, but she’d just run away or hide. I tried to wait by the Room of Requirement, but she spotted me and turned around so quick I didn’t catch up to her before she went into the Slytherin common room. She slept in Christian’s room for two nights in a row. I was getting desperate.

 

“Jocelyn” I said. She stopped walking and turned around, a pained expression on her face.

 

“What do you want, mudblood?” Alecto Carrow said before she could speak.

 

“Don’t call her that” Jo spat.

 

“I’ll call her whatever I want. What makes her think she can talk to us?”

 

“Watch it, Alecto” Rosier said. Jo shot the Carrow girl a smug look when she shrugged and turned around to walk away.

 

“No need to get worked up about it” said Regulus Black, who’d been walking with them. “Wait up Al” he yelled, running after her. Jocelyn rolled her eyes. It was the most Jocelyn-like thing I’d seen her do in ages.

 

“Jo, can I talk to you?” I asked.

 

“I’m kind of in a hurry, what’s up? Can it not wait?” she said. She was perfectly polite, but distant.

 

“It’ll take a minute, I promise. It’s important”

 

“Fine” she said. “I’ll catch up. You going to the common room?”

 

“Come to my room” Rosier gave her a quick peck on the lips and left.

 

She walked with me in silence for a little until we reached a windowsill where we could sit. I looked at her and felt bad at how tired she looked.

 

“You okay?” I asked her.

 

“Peachy”

 

“Don’t you try that with me, Jocelyn Silverway. I know you” I said earnestly. “What’s up?”

 

“Nothing much. Classes, homework, terrible quidditch, the usual” she shrugged.

 

“It’s the first game we lose since you joined the team” I pointed out.

 

“Thanks for the reminder” she snorted.

 

“Sirius is…”

 

“Did you ask to talk to me to discuss Sirius?” she stood up. “I’m not doing that. Forget it”

 

“I’m worried about you Jo, and I’m worried about him”

 

“You don’t need to worry, he’s totally fine. He’s fan-fucking-tastic” she raised her voice. “Besides, it’s probably that Farfalle girl you should ask, not me”

 

“What? Who?”

 

“Never mind, by Lily. Christian is waiting for me” she said.

 

“Don’t you walk away from me, Jocelyn!” I yelled at her as she turned around.

 

“I don’t really have much to say, Lily” she sighed. “Your boyfriend and mine don’t mingle. You don’t like my boyfriend, and yours wants to gut me so, I think this is pretty much it for us. It’s been a good ride, though”

 

“I don’t believe you”


“You lot need to stop saying that, it’s getting old” she smirked.

 

“Well maybe it’s because it’s true”

 

“True or not, doesn’t matter. I’m done with you. You need to stay away from me, it’s for the best. I can’t promise Alecto won’t do something horrible next time so just stay away, Lily” and she walked away.

 

I wanted to run after her, point out that her worrying about my safety and standing up for me with the Carrow girl didn’t really support her ‘I’m done and I don’t care’ speech, but I simply didn’t have the energy anymore. That evening, I gave the map back to James and told him that I thought this was it for good. He held me all night whilst I cried over my broken friendship with Jo.

 

Jocelyn’s POV

 

Sunday was the worst day of all. Everyone was generally hangover, as Slytherins had a party every Saturday for one reason or another, and that meant a lot of time wasting on sofas. It always made me depressed. I hadn’t drank much during the previous night because I didn’t trust myself around these people when inebriated.

 

“I’m going to do some homework, my brain actually works today, not like yours” I told Christian.

 

“Will you come back to stay with me?”

 

“I think I might be up late, so I’ll see you tomorrow”

 

“Alright, see you tomorrow then” I gave him a quick kiss and left.

 

I went to the library and managed to do some work. My essay on human transfiguration was coming along nicely (and easily, seeing as I was an animagus) and I had almost finished my Charms assignment when the librarian kicked everyone out for the evening. I walked back to the Room of Requirements and put my stuff away before realizing I was starving. Dinner had finished an hour ago so my only option was the kitchens. With a groan, I made my way there.

 

Luckily, there were no marauders in sight. I asked the house elves for a bit of food and sat in a corner eating quietly. Everywhere I looked in the kitchens I saw memories playing. The chairs where I’d shared a chocolate cake with Sirius and James after a particularly grueling quidditch practice. The table where all four marauders and I had enjoyed some apple crumble after a successful prank. Even the corner where James and I sometimes had little dates towards the end of sixth year. It was making me upset, so I stood up brusquely.

 

“Is everything alright, miss?”

 

“No, not really. I’m sad” I told the house elf.

 

“Can I help make it better?”

 

“Can you get me some muggle whiskey?” I asked her. I was joking, obviously but to my surprise she nodded and disappeared, reappearing a few seconds later with a bottle of my whiskey.

 

“Where did you get this?”

 

“There’s a shop in Hogsmeade that stocks it” she replied.

 

“How did you know?”

 

“Sometimes Master Black comes here and asks me to get him some. He likes this brand, it’s the only one I know”

 

“Thank you”

 

I walked out and sat myself on the floor of a small side passage. I opened the bottle and lifted it up.

 

“I’m pretty sure drinking alone and talking to myself qualify me as pathetic” I muttered. “But, here’s to us, Sirius. Here’s to having found my epic and successfully screwing up all chances of actually being happy”

 

#

 

I stumbled into the common room and cursed as I hit the corner of a table with my hip.

 

“Jocelyn?” I froze. Too late, I remembered I wasn’t supposed to be here. I wasn’t staying in my room; I shouldn’t have come.

 

“Sirius” I said, trying to hide the fact that I was wasted. “I was leaving”

 

“You just walked in” he pointed out.

 

“By mistake” I shrugged.

 

“You’re wasted” he stood up and took a few hesitant steps towards me.

 

“So what?!”

 

“Why are you drunk? It’s Sunday”

 

“I drank whiskey. Whiskey makes you drunk; doesn’t matter what day of the week it is” I said.

 

“Were you drinking with Rosier?” he asked me.

 

I looked at him. It was dark in the common room, but I could still see his face clearly. He was angry and worried, the emotions chasing each other all over his features.

 

‘I should lie to him’ I thought. But I couldn’t. Not in my estate, so late at night and completely alone with him. If I had had any sense left, I should have run away as fast as I could, but as it was, I struggled to keep my wits about me when I was around Sirius.

 

“No. I was drinking alone” I replied.

 

“Raging alcoholic much?” he closed the distance between us. I saw his hand twitch as if he was debating whether to touch me or not.

 

All my alarm bells rang loud and true. This was not going to end well, and I couldn’t afford another changing room episode.

 

“Don’t trouble yourself. It’s not like we’re friends anymore. You don’t approve of my choice of boyfriend” I said, my feeble attempt at getting him to back off.

 

“I don’t think you actually like him” he said, lowering his face towards mine.

 

“Of course I do” I said rather weakly.

 

“You are lying to yourself”

 

“What are you on about? You have hexed us three times in the past week for snogging in the corridors. I wouldn’t do that if I didn’t like him” I retorted.

 

“I think you’re doing it for show” he replied. “What I can’t figure out is why”

 

“You’re being ridiculous” I scoffed and tried to move away from him only to realize the wall was right behind me. He really had to stop cornering me, it was unfair and ridiculous.

 

Sirius put his hands on the wall over my face, boxing me in, again. My heart race soared.

 

“Am I now?” he kissed me on the cheek. “I think you are lying to me and to yourself”

 

“I don’t lie Sirius” my voice was a barely-there whisper. He started planting kisses down the line of my jaw. My body reacted to him so intensely I felt dizzy.

 

“Stop pretending you don’t want me” he said, stopping his torture and looking into my eyes.

 

“I’m with Christian” I insisted.

 

“Why!?” he demanded.

 

“Because I want to be. Because I like him”

 

“If you like him so much, why haven’t you ran away yet?” he asked me, smirking.

 

“Because you won’t let me!” I cried.

 

“You could have told me to stop, and you know I would have” he said. He leaned in closer and whispered in my ear “but you don’t want me to, do you?”

 

He didn’t wait for me to reply. His lips captured mine and then we were kissing desperately, urgently, frantically. My hands found their way to his hair and I pressed my body against his, abandoning all pretense. There was no point in denying just how much I wanted him.

 

Then, to my shock and horror, Sirius broke the kiss.

 

“What...” I said. He shook his head.

 

“I wanted to prove a point and I have. I have nothing more to say to you”

 

“Sirius...”

 

“What do you want from me Jocelyn? What kind of sick game are you playing?”

 

“You are the one playing games with me!” I yelled.

 

“You know what, I was! I wanted you to push me away, to prove to me you actually see something in that asshole that we are all missing. It would explain why you have turned bitch all of a sudden. But you don’t even fucking like him, do you?”

 

“It is none of your goddamn business Sirius!! You had no right to do this to me” I couldn’t think straight. I felt humiliated and heart broken, and dangerously close to breaking and telling him the truth about the Order. I couldn’t do that.

 

So, instead, I finally ran. I ran away from the common room and didn’t stop running until I was in the Room of Requirements. I cried for a very, very long time.

 

Sirius’ POV

 

I was a dickhead. I was a gigantic moron and I had made things so much worse than they were before. I couldn’t help myself, when she’d stumbled into the common room so completely wasted. I had wanted to hurt her. I wanted to hurt her because I was hurting, and it was her fault.

 

I shouldn’t have kissed her. Not only had I made her feel awful about it, which I deeply regretted, but I had made the situation so much harder for myself. I ran a hand through my hair and exited the secret passage back from Hogsmeade. I walked down the corridor and went into another passage. This was small and led to nowhere so I shouldn’t be disturbed. It was highly inconvenient that Jocelyn had claimed the Room of Requirements.

 

I sat on the floor and opened the bottle of whiskey I’d gone to get. It had been a week since that horrible incident, and I couldn’t stop thinking about the way she’d tasted.

 

I took a swig of the bottle. Muggle whiskey burnt my throat, leaving the same after taste in my mouth that kissing Jo that night had.

 

It was as close as kissing her again as I could get. Pathetic, I know, but what was I to do? It was hard enough loving her when I didn’t know what she felt like. Now that I knew, it was eating me alive.  

 

I took another shot, pretending it was her lips. This was what I did now. Chased Jo down round after round, until I was so drunk it numbed the pain. Every shot I took brought me closer to that cruel kiss and I relished it. I was borderline masochistic but it was all I had.

 

“Padfoot”

 

I looked up to find Prongs standing over me.

 

“Hey” I said, taking another swig of the bottle.

 

“What’s the occasion?” he asked sitting next to me.

 

“I hurt Jocelyn on purpose to get back at her” I replied.

 

“What? When?”

 

“Doesn’t matter. I fucked up and can’t even make it up to her because she’s with fucking Rosier and doesn’t talk to us anymore”

 

“We don’t talk to her either”

 

“Same, same”

 

“Pads” he said, “I’m worried about you”

 

“Are you going to make me talk about my feelings now?”

 

“I’m not gonna make you talk about anything. I’m gonna sit here and keep you company because I know how much it fucking hurts”

 

“What?”

 

“Loving someone” he said simply.

 

So we stayed there in silence until I finished the entire bottle. James had to help me up and I leaned on him to walk back to the Gryffindor Tower. Luckily, he’d brought the cloak and we avoided being seen.

 

“Whoah, what’s with him?” I heard Remus ask.

 

“Jocelyn’s turned him into a raging alcoholic”

 

“She’s on a roll” Peter muttered.

 

“What do you mean?” I slurred.

 

“She made some third year cry earlier today because she ran into her and made her drop her books” he explained.

 

“That... never mind” James said.

 

“I know, it doesn’t sound like Jocelyn. I thought so too but I’m not sure we know her very well anymore” Moony added. I groaned.

 

“I need to get her out of my fucking head” I said to no one in particular.

 

“Time heals all wounds” James told me.

 

“Not this one” I said dramatically.

 

“Get some sleep, you’re too drunk to think clearly anyway”

 

“That is true, Peter” I threw myself on the bed, clothes and all. “Good night”

 

#

 

Jocelyn's POV

 

“I can’t fucking wait to be out of here” Christian said.

 

“Do you already know what you want to do after graduation?” I asked casually.

 

We were sat on a bench by the greenhouses, waiting for his friends to finish Herbology. It was freezing outside but I welcomed the numbness the cold caused. It had been two weeks since the episode with Sirius in the changing rooms, and one since the horrible, humiliating kiss in the common room and I had spent every waking second since ablaze. I had no idea how it had happened, but being with Christian had only made my feelings for Sirius stronger. He had got under my skin and I couldn’t stop thinking about him. It was terrifying.

 

“I do. I’m curious about what you want to do, though” he said, eyeing me with interest.

 

“I am thinking trying out for a pro spot on a Quidditch team” I shrugged casually.

 

“Ah, that’s quite cool. No auroring for you, then?”

 

“What? Hell no. I couldn’t bear to be bossed around by the Ministry” the lie fell easily from my lips.

 

“You never cease to surprise me, gorgeous” he kissed me. I resisted the urge to roll my eyes.

 

“You guys are always at it” said the voice I recognized as Narcissa’s. Christian broke the kiss and looked at his friends smugly.

 

“I thought that Herbology lesson was never going to end” muttered another one of his friends whose name I couldn’t remember. Alecto nodded enthusiastically.

 

“It’s over now, so let’s go. I want to hear what the letter you got this morning said” Christian stood up and we all followed him. This was what I had been waiting for. That letter had caused quite a ruckus this morning and I wanted to know what it was. I had a feeling it was important.

 

“Over here” Narcissa led us into an empty room and put up some silencing charms. I leaned against the wall and looked at my nails, pretending to be bored.

 

“Jo, baby come here” Christian motioned for me to join him and I walked over lazily.

 

I sat on his lap and busied myself with nuzzling my nose on his neck. It was a good thing nobody could see my face, because I was pretty sure I couldn’t have hidden my expression at what Narcissa said next.

 

“Everything is set and ready. The letter said to keep an eye on the Prophet this Saturday. It should be front page. The biggest hit yet, Lucius says even bigger than the Saint Paul’s one this summer” I felt a horrible pang as I realized these people were talking about the attack that had taken Alice’s life but I didn’t have time to dwell, Narcissa was still talking. “There’s some sort of concert or festival on Friday night in London’s Hyde Park. Hundreds of muggles and mudbloods attend. It’s going to be huge”

 

It was all I could do not to start screaming. I focused on my breathing, forcing myself to calm down and making it through this conversation. It had been one of the first lessons from the Order, if you can control your breathing, you can get through anything.

 

“Ace, I can’t wait to see the headlines” said someone to my left.

 

“Is Lucius going himself?” asked Christian.

 

“He is, it’s been planned by the St. Paul’s crew but they’re taking a few of the newbies for training. I just hope when it’s our turn we get something just as good” she said, obviously very proud that her betrothed was already getting his hands dirty. How Narcissa and Sirius shared any blood was beyond me. They couldn’t be any more different and boy, was I glad.

 

“Keep us posted if you hear anything else from him” Christian said. Everyone murmured and congratulated her on her fiancé’s achievement and, after what felt like forever, they started leaving the classroom.

 

“I need to go to my Charms lesson” I said, kissing Christian quickly on the lips. “See you tonight?”

 

“I have to finish that stupid transfiguration essay that’s due tomorrow” he frowned. “Tomorrow night?”

 

“Sure, can’t wait” I smiled at him and swaggered out of the room.

 

As soon as I was out of sight I broke into a sprint. I got funny looks from a couple of students as I ran past them like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse were on my heels but I couldn’t care less.

 

“ALBUS!” I shouted as soon as I arrived in his office. I now had the password and I had felt quite smug about it when he’d given it to me. I had wished I could tell the Marauders, just to see their faces, but if wishes were horses beggars would ride.

 

“Jocelyn, what’s the matter?” he stood up behind his desk.

 

“Attack. London. Friday night. Stop them” I panted, trying to get my breathing under control.

 

Luckily, Dumbledore wasn’t one of the smartest people I knew for nothing. He gleaned my meaning and needed no further explanation. He summoned a patronus and sent it to headquarters with an urgent message to meet in Hogsmeade in half an hour.

 

“Go get Minerva, I’ll alert Alastor, he’s going to want to be here” I nodded and ran out of his office again.

 

McGonagall was teaching a fourth year Transfiguration class. I pushed the door open and walked straight up to her under the shocked faces of the younger students. They were Hufflepuff, I think.

 

“Emergency. We have to go now” I whispered in her ear.

 

“Class dismissed. Read the chapter, write your essays. You have the rest of the period free” she said. We walked out before the students had even had time to close their books.

 

We hurried back to Dumbledore’s office. He was waiting for us and we took off towards Hogsmeade without delay. Seventeen members of the Order of Phoenix were waiting in the Hogsmeade safehouse when we arrived. Moody amongst them.

 

“Jocelyn has some important information for us” Dumbledore said by way of greeting. I nodded and stepped forward.

 

“As you know, I’ve been keeping close tabs on the Seventh year Slytherins, particularly those who are children of known Death Eaters. Today, Narcissa Black received a letter from Lucius Malfoy in which he said to watch out for the headlines in the Prophet this Saturday. They plan to attack a muggle concert or festival or gathering of some sort that is happening in Hyde Park in London on Friday evening. They are talking hundreds of people”

 

“Hundreds?” McGonagall’s voice shook a little.

 

“They said it was going to be bigger than Saint Paul’s. It is planned by the same crew” I said.


“You were there, weren’t you?” Arthur Weasley asked me.

 

“I was. My friend Alice died”


“I’m sorry”

 

“I want to go to Hyde Park with you,” I said. There was a moment of silence when everyone turned to look at Dumbledore. He hesitated but Moody didn’t.

 

“It’s a huge park, we’re going to struggle to cover it. And they know who some of us are. A dog roaming around is possibly the best disguise ever. She has earnt her place amongst us. I think she’s ready. I say she comes”

 

“Aye”

 

“Aye”

 

“Aye” one by one all order members gave their consent and their agreement, until it was Dumbledore’s turn.

 

“This will blow your cover with the Slytherins, but I think that mission can be considered complete. We know to keep an eye on those kids now, and to monitor any mail they receive” I nodded.

 

“I would very much like this mission to be over. I don’t think I can stomach the sight of Christian Rosier another minute” I said. I saw a few faces nodd sympathetically.

 

“It is settled then. Let’s get down to prep” Alastor Moody conjured up a table and we all gathered around it.



Chapter 27: Vengeance
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Lily’s POV

 

I almost had a heart attack when the door to our room opened and Jocelyn walked in. She hadn’t been in here in three months, at least not while I was there. I imagined she’d come get clothes and things at one point or another, but she’d practically been living in the Room of Requirements. It was Friday morning. James tensed next to me in bed when he saw her.

 

I watched her as she walked over to her trunk and started pulling out some clothes. A pair of jeans, her running shoes, some more running gear and her black cloak. She bundled it all together in a backpack and swung it over her shoulder. She headed to the door and was about to leave when she turned to look at me.

 

“Alice would be happy for you. I know she would,” then, she looked at James who was now gaping like she had turned green and said “Take care of her. You have no idea how fucking lucky you are”

 

She was gone before we could say anything.

 

“What the hell was that?” James asked me.

 

“I… I don’t know. It’s the first time she speaks to me in two weeks, after she told me we were done,” I said.

 

“Why now? It was very nice what she said” I nodded, James was right. It was almost like…

 

“James, I have a very, very bad feeling” I said.

 

“Like what?”

 

“Like Jocelyn is about to do something stupid or dangerous. Possibly stupid and dangerous” I scrambled out of bed and he followed me.

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“That sounded strangely like she was saying goodbye” I told him, putting my clothes on quickly.

 

“Are you sure?”

 

“I just have a horrible feeling, James. Trust me, please”

 

We ran all the way to the boys’ dormitory. I had to levitate James to our room when there was a risk someone might see him transform, but going down the stairs was much easier. We could just slide to the common room, which saved time. We barged into the boys’ room, rudely awakening Sirius, Peter and Remus.

 

“What’s up? What time is it?” Remus asked from his bed.

 

“Are we late for class?” Sirius mumbled sleepily from under his covers.

 

“The map! Where is the map?” the feeling of foreboding in my gut grew stronger by the minute.

 

“What?” Peter yawned.


“The map! Padfoot, where is the map?” James asked him.

 

“Ah, I think…” he put a hand down to the side of the bed and moved around a pile of clothes. “Here” Sirius tossed it over to me. James caught it. Chaser reflexes, I guess.

 

“I solemnly swear that I am up to no good” he said. We looked at it, trying to locate Jo.

 

“Not in Slytherin… Ah, there she is… what is she doing in Dumbledore’s office?” James asked.

 

“Who?”

 

“Jo” at that, Sirius sprang out of bed and joined us. We watched as McGonagall joined them in the office and then they were gone.

 

“Merlin’s beard! How is that even possible? One can’t apparate in and out of Hogwarts” I said.

 

“What is going on?” now Remus and Peter were also curious.

 

“Jocelyn came to our room this morning. She packed some clothes and then… well, she was very nice to us” I explained.

 

“Lily had a bad feeling about it, so we decided to check the map just in case” James added.

 

“Where’s Rosier?” Sirius asked. We found him in the Slytherin common room with his friends. They didn’t seem to be doing anything suspicious. “I am beyond confused”

 

“Do you think she’s doing some work with McGonagall again?” Peter suggested.

 

“But why would they disappear, and why would Dumbledore go with them?”

 

“I’ve got no idea”

 

I sighed and sat on Sirius’ bed, as it was closest. “I really hope I am wrong. But I really don’t like the feeling I have about this” I said.

 

Jocelyn’s POV

 

I hoped that my impromptu goodbye to Lily and James had caught them enough by surprise that Lily wouldn’t figure out something was off before I made it to Dumbledore’s office. Luck was on my side, and I made it without issue. McGonagall joined us a few minutes later. I was nervous, and scared, but also ready and determined. This was it. I only wished I could have said something to Sirius, but I couldn’t afford to think like that.

 

“Ready?” Dumbledore asked. Both McGonagall and I nodded, and we left together. Dumbledore was the only one who could apparate in and out of Hogwarts, which was handy.

 

We made it to the London headquarters and joined preparations without delay. The house was buzzing. Everyone knew what they were doing and, despite the risk to our lives, nobody was acting emotional. I felt a strange kind of pride to be amongst these brave people. We were soldiers, and we all had each other’s backs. It occurred to me that it was a huge honour to be going to battle with some of the best witches and wizards of my time. I would not fail them.

 

The plan was a complicated one. We had split up Hyde park into sections and a platoon of 6 members of the Order was in charge of each section. They had been tasked with putting up undetectable shield charms around the crowds. They were the first line of defense. I didn’t belong to any platoon, I was to run around, in and out of sections keeping an eye on everything and reporting anything suspicious. We didn’t know what curse they were going to use or how many Death Eaters we were going to be facing so any information I could find out could be crucial. Dumbledore would be waiting nearby with reinforcements ready to join the battle when it started. McGonagall was leading a group in charge of evacuations.

 

“Everyone knows what they’re doing?” Moody said. We all nodded. I saw people start to get a bit nervous and I wondered how they overcame their fear.

 

“This is going to be a massacre” someone said. I remembered Alice’s death, and how I felt, and my determination to kill Voldemort after that.

 

“We are outnumbered by a ratio of 20:1 by the Death Eaters, but we have something they don’t” I said, overcome by a strange urge to share my passion. “We are the light in a world that’s being swallowed by darkness. We have each other in a way the Death Eaters never will. They don’t understand the bonds of friendship, the power of love. We can beat them; I know we can”

 

My words were met by stunned faces, and the smile of our leader. “Spoken like a true warrior” McGonagall said.

 

“I say we go teach these Death Eaters a lesson” said Moody.

 

“Aye” I said. Everyone answered. With one final solemn nod, we apparated in Hyde park.

 

The first hour went according to plan. I ran around, being petted by festival goers and keeping an eye on activities. Shields were put up and order members disguised in different ways took positions amongst the crowd. The first Death Eater I spotted was none other than Lucius Malfoy. I was grateful that Narcissa was so obsessed with him she overshared information. I recognized his long blond hair and the cane he’d taken to carrying around with him.

 

“They’re here, Alastor” I discreetly transformed back into human and whispered to Moody, who happened to be closer.

 

“Get ready Jocelyn. It’s showtime”

 

He wasn’t wrong. The blast, very similar to the one in Saint Paul’s, bounced between the shields with a deafening crack. We sprang into action. Our evacuation team quickly apparated in and out carrying crowd members away as fast as possible, starting from those further into the park. Fortunately for us, muggles were not unfamiliar with terrorism and they had already started running away facilitating evacuation tasks.

 

The rest of us plunged into battle with the Death Eaters. Enraged at the failure of their attack, they came at us with viciousness. I tried to keep tabs on the battle at first, but it quickly became impossible. All my focus was on my wand and my opponent, and nothing else. I had never fully understood how desperately we want to live, how strong our survival instinct is until that moment. I fought for my life, pouring ever bit of strength and anger I had into my spells. I fought for Alice. The knowledge that these people were directly responsible for her death fueled me. I had been craving revenge for eight months and I was finally getting it. Months of training with the Order were paying off and I dispatched two Death Eaters easily before moving on to help Alice Longbottom who was dueling three opponents at the same time. She was a formidable witch, and we made a good team.

 

I couldn’t have told how long the battle went on for. It could have been an hour, it could have been ten. All I knew was that every curse I sent flying that hit home made the past three months worth it. It didn’t matter that I had lost my friends. It didn’t matter that I would never get my epic. It didn’t matter that my heart was broken in a million pieces because I was saving lives and avenging Alice. I had a purpose, a mission, and I wasn’t going to stop until Lord Voldemort himself was wiped from the face of the Earth.

 

“They’re trying to retreat, cut them off!” I heard Arthur’s cry and turned towards him, ready to assist. He was right, a small group of Death Eaters was running away from the shields towards a clear area. If they made it, they’d be able to apparate. I took off after them without a second thought.

 

“Expelliarmus! Diffindo! Confringo!” I shouted aiming at them. I saw one wand fly towards me and I caught it with my free hand. ‘Sirius would be proud’ I thought. Another Death Eater fell and was left behind by his comrades, but there were still four of them dangerously close to getting away. I had to duck as they retaliated and quickly put up a shield.

 

I probably should have thought this through and realized that no matter how strong my shield was, it couldn’t hold four adult Death Eaters. But, consumed by my need for vengeance, I did not consider this until it was too late. As the four wands pointed at me and I faced them, standing my ground, I thought ‘if I’m going down, you’re coming with me’. I smiled wickedly at them and let the shield drop. No point in wasting magic on it, anyway.

 

Sirius’ POV

 

We hadn’t seen Jo all day. We kept glancing at the map every hour, but nothing. Lily was like a cat on hot bricks. No matter how many times James reassured her, she wouldn’t calm down. She was making me a bit anxious but if Jo was with Dumbledore there was no reason to worry, I kept telling myself. All in all, it was a very long day.

 

I started to think Red had reason to be so worried when midnight came and went and Jo was still nowhere to be found. We were all in our room, sat in a circle around the map and debating whether we should do something and, if so, what we could do (nobody had any ideas).

 

“Guys, McGonagall is back” Remus said all of a sudden. I jerked awake; I had been dozing off.

 

“And so is Dumbledore” said James. We watched their dots walk quickly around Dumbledore’s office. “What are they doing?”

 

“Guys, guys Jo’s back” Lily stood up and took off at a run. We scrambled up and followed her.

 

“Are you sure it’s a good idea to barge into Dumbledore’s office unannounced at one in the morning?” Peter was panting, trying to keep up with us. We ignored him.

 

“Professor Dumbledore!!” Lily shouted at the statue as soon as we arrived. “Professor Dumbledore please let me in, it’s Lily E…” the gargoyle moved and we ran up the stairs.

 

I was not prepared for the scene unfolding in front of us when we reached the office. McGonagall was waving her arms around in panic. Dumbledore was quietly and calmly standing by his window as if waiting for something. And Jocelyn… well, Jocelyn was lying on the floor of the office in a bloody mess. Her clothes were dirty and torn and stained with blood that I quickly realized was her own. She was injured all over, parts of her skin were charred black, others were covered in deep, ugly gashes.

 

“Jo” Lily fainted and James’ caught her mid-air. I heard someone throw up behind me but didn’t check if it was Remus or Peter.

 

I fell to my knees next to her and cradled her head. She was barely breathing.

 

“Jo, Jo what did you do? What did you do?” I whispered. As I rocked back and forth in agony, I remembered McGonagall and turned to her. “What did you do to her?” I shouted.

 

“Mr Black, you need to calm…”

 

“Do not tell me to calm down. Do not tell me to calm the fuck down! She’s dying and I want to know what for!”

 

Right that moment, a beautiful bird like nothing I had ever seen came flying through the window and landed on Dumbledore’s shoulder. Without a word, he quickly came over to where I was and took Jo from me. I was going to protest, but Remus put a hand of my shoulder and shook his head.

 

“Fawkes, please” Dumbledore said. I watched in amazement as the bird, Fawkes, bent his head and rested it on Jo’s worst wound. Thick, pearly tears fell from its eyes onto the wound. To my amazement and intense relief, it started to knit itself back together. We waited in solemn silence as the bird, a Phoenix I realized, cried all over Jo, erasing the burns and gashes and repairing her broken body.

 

Jocelyn’s POV

 

“Yes, she’s okay Alastor” was the first thing I heard. I opened my eyes slowly and was blinded by the light.

 

“I think she’s waking up” a girly voice that reminded me of Lily’s said.

 

“D…di…”  I tried to speak but my throat was dry. This was a bit frustrating.

 

“What? Jo, what’s wrong?” was that Sirius? It couldn’t be, he hadn’t come to London.

 

I tried again. My throat hurt so much all I got out was a strange gasp.

 

“Water, give her some water” a voice like James’ said.

 

A glass was brought to my lips and I swallowed a little bit. My eyes were still stuck closed together, but I didn’t care. I wanted to know.

 

“Did we get them? Did I take them down?” I managed in my third attempt. That took effort.

 

I heard a chuckle and a gasp. “Jocelyn Silverway, you are batshit crazy” it definitely sounded like James.

 

“Give her some space” the female voice said. I heard movement around me. I decided to try opening my eyes again.

 

This time, after a couple of blinks I managed. The first thing I realized was that I was not in London or the headquarters but in Dumbledore’s office. The second was that Sirius’ face was hovering over mine. I thought fleetingly that opening my eyes to see his silver ones was a wonderful thing, and there was nothing I wouldn’t give for them to be the first thing I saw every time.

 

“Hey” he said softly.

 

“Sirius, what are you doing here? Where’s Albus?”

 

“Oh, it’s Albus for you now, is it?” said my soul-sister.

 

“Lily?”

 

“I’m here” I felt her take my hand.

 

“Help me up” I demanded.

 

“Are you sure you’re okay?”

 

“Help me up!” I insisted. They helped me sit up. I had been lying on the floor. Dumbledore and McGonagall were here and they both looked unscathed. That made me happy. “You didn’t answer my question. Did we get them?”

 

“Not all of them, but enough” Dumbledore said. I nodded.

 

“You were very brave but also incredibly stupid, Jocelyn” leave it to McGonagall to call me stupid in front of all my friends and the leader of our secret elite warrior unit.

 

“Thanks, Minerva. I shall like that to be engraved on my tombstone” I heard Sirius’ laugh next to me and smiled. McGonagall rolled her eyes. I thought she was probably spending too much time around me.

 

“She’s right, you know? You were in such a state poor Peter spilled his guts all over the office at the sight of you” said James.

 

“Hey, James. Hi, guys” I greeted them. I felt slightly awkward and looked to Dumbledore for assistance.

 

“They barged into the office a few minutes after we arrived” he said with a smile. “I believe it’s time you tell your friends”


“Absolutely not” I tried to stand up but found it hard with Sirius and Lily practically sat on top of me.

 

“You don’t have a choice, Jo. We’re not letting you leave here until you explain. Dumbledore and McGonagall wanted to wait for you to wake up, but no more” Lily said.

 

“And who’s Alastor? Another boyfriend we need to know about?” James added. That made me laugh. Even McGonagall had to suppress a chuckle at the thought.

 

“Yeah, no. Alastor is a friend of Albus and Minerva” I said. Then, I looked at our headmaster. “I really don’t want them to know, please”

 

“Why?” it was Sirius who interjected. I had avoided looking directly at him again this whole time, and still didn’t feel like I could face him so I looked at Lily instead.

 

“It is dangerous. I can’t put you in danger. I’m doing this so you are safe. So that what happened to Alice never happens again to any of us. I couldn’t bear it. Please, stay out of it” Lily’s face became very sad.

 

“And how do you think we felt when we walked in here and you had a foot in the tomb, Jo?”

 

“I’m being selfish. I’d rather die than endure the death of one of you” I replied simply. It was the truth.

 

“Jocelyn, you can’t protect everybody. Nor should you have to” said McGonagall. I glared at her.

 

“We are the light in a world that’s being swallowed by darkness. We have each other in a way the Death Eaters never will. They don’t understand the bonds of friendship, the power of love.”

 

“You are absolutely not allowed to use my own words against me, Albus. That’s just not cool” I protested.

 

“You were fighting Death Eaters?” James said at the same time Lily said: “You said that?”

 

“Jocelyn, if you don’t explain I will. After all, the Order could use more brave members and your friends are some of the finest wizards and witch of this age” Dumbledore said.

 

“Fine!” I shouted, feeling suddenly very angry and very tired. “I was fighting Death Eaters. I am with the Order of Phoenix. I’ve been training with them for months. There was a battle, I got injured. Happy?”

 

“I have so many questions” said Lily. James, Sirius, Remus and Peter nodded furiously.

 

I rolled my eyes. “Of course you do. You’re Lily Evans” but I half smiled so she started asking.

 

“What exactly happened today?” I was about to answer when Sirius cut in.

 

“That’s where you want to start?” Lily stared at him in confusion, he ignored her and continued. “Why on earth did you go off to fight Death Eaters on your own? Are you fucking insane? Do you have no regard for your life and safety? What if something had happened to you?”

 

I looked at the floor before I answered. “I didn’t go alone. It was a fully-fledged Order mission. I got some information that there was an attack on a big group of muggles and potentially muggle-borns attending some festival thing in London. We were prepared, and we were together”

 

“How did you, of all members, come across this information? You’re still in school” James added.

 

“I know I’m a very good actress, but I really thought it would take a lot more convincing for you lot to believe I fancied Christian Rosier, of all people” I whispered.

 

The silence that followed my statement and the realization dawning on their faces would remain one of my favourite memories forevermore.

 

“You should have told us” Lily said eventually.

 

“Nope. It wouldn’t have been believable. It took me ages to get him to make a move on me” I said. Sirius shuffled a bit uncomfortably.

 

“So that explains where you’ve been disappearing off to, too. You were training, not with him” Remus looked rather impressed.

 

“I was. I’ve been meeting with the Order regularly, they wouldn’t let me go on a field mission until I was ready. This was the first time. Spying on the children of known Death Eaters in school was my way of contributing until I could join the real fight”

 

“And you helped save hundreds of innocent people tonight” McGonagall chimed in. I had almost forgotten she was here.

 

“I want to help” said Sirius.

 

“No. Absolutely fucking not, this is exactly why…”

 

“I’m joining, too” said James.

 

“So am I”

 

“And I”

 

I started waving my arms around like a maniac whilst shaking my head vehemently.

 

“I said no. No way. Absolutely not. Albus, they are way too young. They haven’t even graduated!”

 

“What makes you think you can decide to join this war early and leave us all out?” Lily asked, raising her eyebrow at me.

 

“Look what happens when you go out there without someone to watch your back” Sirius added. “You clearly need reinforcements”

 

“Jocelyn, you said it yourself. The only way we’re going to win this war is by working together” Dumbledore reminded me. I scoffed. “They will, of course, undergo rigorous training before they are ready to go out on the field”

 

“Hey, we can do this. We’ll be fine as long as we stay together” Lily grabbed my hand and gave it a squeeze. I knew I had lost this fight. Deep down I knew it made sense, and it made me proud my friends were so brave and wanted to join the fight. I was just terrified something would happen to them.

 

“You should know something” I said looking at her, then at Remus. “The guys we went after tonight were responsible for St. Pauls. And we got them”

 

They both looked stunned. Then, Remus kneeled in front of me on the floor. “Thank you” there was nothing else to say.

 

“Well then, I believe that is settled” McGonagall said.

 

“Welcome to the Order of Phoenix” Dumbledore added. “Jocelyn, we’ll have a meeting sometime next week. We’ll let you know through the usual methods. Bring your friends with you”

 

“I will” we all stood up from where we’d been sitting on the floor. “Albus, you didn’t answer me still. What happened at the end?”

 

“You got very lucky, that’s what happened” he said. “And Alastor may or may not have shouted something about saving his best shot at winning this war before plunging into the fray after you”

 

“I’ll buy him a present for next week” I grinned.

 

As we walked back to Gryffindor Tower my friends gave me a quick description of what they had seen and Fawkes healing me. It sounded quite gruesome. I proceeded to explain the raid to them with as much detail as I could, in the hopes that it would prepare them. If they were going to fight, they needed to know how bad it was.

 

“I am so happy you are back. I hated being alone in our room” Lily said as we walked in through the Fat Lady portrait.

 

“I don’t think you’ve been alone very much if yesterday morning was any indication” I teased her. She blushed furiously.

 

“At the risk of offending our very brave friend who turns out we should have never doubted, I’ll say this: Jo, wouldn’t you maybe like to take permanent residence in the Room of Requirement?” James joked. I laughed.

 

“I don’t mind if you want to stay with Lily, just don’t be gross” I said. “And remember silencing charms, please”

 

“I was joking. We’ll figure something out but I think tonight you ladies deserve some alone time” he gave Lily a quick kiss and hugged me.

 

“I missed you, you know?” I told him, still in his embrace.

 

“You, pocket rocket, are going to be death of me. And don’t think this Order business, noble as it may be, excuses you from causing us to lose against Hufflepuff” he said, messing up my hair.

 

“Worry not, cap. We’ll kick some Ravenclaw ass and bring the cup home again. I promise” he nodded and let me go.

 

Remus hugged me too, and so did Peter, albeit rather awkwardly. However, nothing was as bad as when it was Sirius’ turn. We both stood there, and I bit my lip furiously. I had still not dared to look at him. Thankfully, he decided to be the bigger person and before I knew he was hugging me too.

 

“We should talk, but I think we’ve had enough for one night” he whispered. “Sorry I was a dick” he added.

 

“Never, ever, miss beater practice again and I’ll forgive you” I joked. He laughed quietly.

 

“You said it, we’ve got some Ravenclaw ass to kick”

 

“That we do” I smiled at him, stepping out of the hug. “Good night guys”

 

#

 

Lily and I barely slept. I had a lot to talk to her about. I explained how my entire Christian operation had gone, and confided in her how awful I had felt the whole time. She gasped and said ‘oh my god’ in all the right moments. When I was done, I felt as if a massive weight had been lifted off my shoulders.

 

“I get why you did it, but I still wish you’d told us” she said. “We were so confused and worried…”

 

“I know, I’m sorry. It was the only way”

 

“Well, it’s over now, things can go back to normal” she smiled at me. I sighed.

 

“I need to figure out if anyone recognized me. We are prepared for my cover to be blown but the raid went really well. There’s a small chance they don’t know what happened” I explained.

 

“You need to break up with Christian, no matter what” Lily said.

 

“But if they don’t know, I could still learn things”

 

“There’s no way the Death Eaters will be so careless again. Even if they don’t know it was you, they’ll think mail is being monitored or something. You won’t learn anything else and, to be brutally honest with you, the thought of that bastard even looking at you makes my skin crawl. I think you’ve done enough”

 

“I’m not sure…”

 

“Jocelyn, if I didn’t know better, I’d think you don’t want to break up with him. What is going on?”

 

“I’m afraid” I said.

 

“Everyone’s afraid”

 

“That’s not what I mean, Lily” I took a deep breath. Okay, here we go. “As long as I’m Christian I don’t have to… well… I don’t have to talk to Sirius”


“I’m not following”

 

“He didn’t tell James?”

 

“Tell James what?” oh shit. I thought she knew.

 

“Well… there, ehm… the day of the Hufflepuff game, remember? We lost” Lily nodded. “I waited for everyone to leave the changing room and then I was peacefully getting dressed minding my own business because, well, you know, I was upset…”

 

“Jocelyn! Stop beating around the bush!”

 

“Fine, fine. Sorry. The thing is, Sirius had forgotten his wand there, and he came to get it, and we had a massive fight” I said.

 

“Oh, I’m sure he’s over it now, Jo. It’s not like you guys haven’t had a fight before”

 

“Yeah, well, the fight got really heated, like we were proper going for it, yelling at each other and that…” I could literally feel my face heating and Lily’s eyes getting wider and wider. “We kissed”


“OH MY GOD”

 

“And then we had sex”

 

“SHUT UP”

 

I was overwhelmed by a fit of hysterical giggles. Lily was staring at me excitedly.

 

“How was it?”

 

“Lily!”

 

“What? Come on, spill the beans. Oh my God, Jocelyn! Sirius!” she beamed at me. “Finally!”

 

“What do you mean finally?”

 

“We’ll you obviously both fancy each other. A lot”

 

“I think it was more of a ‘got caught in the moment’ kind of thing”

 

“Do not bullshit me, young lady”

 

“I am not. I do not know what’s going on with me and Sirius. And I’m terrified of it. I don’t want to find out”

 

“Why? You guys are perfect for each other. You’re already best friends, you’re the best tag-team in the history of Hogwarts quidditch, what more do you want?”

 

“It’s not what more do I want. It’s what does he want. He’s not one to do the whole relationship thing, you know. He’s too busy being a rebel. And, he did something horrible to me a week after that game” I protested.

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“I don’t really want to talk about it, but he was really, really mean. I was humiliated. I am not sure how we can get past that. Friends? Sure. Beaters? No doubt. But anything more? I don’t know if I can trust him like that… and, well, he is a man-whore”

 

“You could be the one to change that” Lily said.

 

“What if I’m not?”

 

“Well, you’ll get over it and go back to being friends. You did it with James”

 

“It’s not the same thing. It’s not the same thing at all”

 

“Why not?”

 

“Because I don’t think I could ever get over a breakup with Sirius, Lily. Jax, James, even Hardin, they were good” I looked straight at her so she would know I wasn’t exaggerating when I said “Sirius isn’t good, Lily. Sirius is epic”

 

#

 

No matter how afraid I was, Lily had been right about the fact that I had to break up with Christian. I would simply have to find another excuse to avoid the awkward conversation with Sirius. We had, however, agreed that I couldn’t do it straight away or it would be very suspicious. So, sleep deprived and a bit cranky, I made my way to the Slytherin table the following morning. Lily had gone to warn the boys and explain that they had to pretend things were still frosty between us.

 

Christian and his friends were excitedly waiting for the Daily Prophet, which I took as a good sign. They still didn’t know the raid had been a failure.

 

“Hey babe” Christian said, grabbing me by the waist and pulling me to sit on his lap.

 

“Hi” I let him kiss me briefly on the lips and busied myself with piling some breakfast food onto my plate.

 

I glanced over at the Gryffindor table as my friends arrived and sat. Sirius looked positively murderous. That boy had some anger management issues. The arrival of the mail interrupted my thoughts. Narcissa’s owl dropped the Daily Prophet on her lap.

 

“What is this bullshit?” she whispered furiously.

 

“What’s up?” Regulus asked.

 

“What?” Christian took the paper from her. “Shit”

 

“What’s wrong babe?” I asked distractedly.

 

“The attack was busted. Some of our friends are in trouble”

 

“I am sorry” I said. I was seriously going to ask my friends to get me an Oscar replica. I so deserved one.

 

“Come on, let’s get out of here. I need a distraction” fuck. He took my hand and I stood up, letting him lead me towards the gates. I shot a panicked glance towards the Gryffindor table but my friends weren’t there. When had they left?

 

I resigned myself to my horrible fate and we walked out of the Great Hall. As soon as we were out on the Entrance Hall, however, Sirius, James and Remus appeared out of nowhere with their wands pointed at us.

 

“Oh, look, some Slytherin scum” James said casually.

 

“Piss off, Potter” Christian snarled taking out his wand, too. I quickly caught on, and played along.

 

“Don’t you have to be somewhere else? Like bothering Lily for example?” I said with as much indifference and boredom as I could muster.

 

“Ah, but hexing snakes is a lot more fun” he said. Christian didn’t reply. Instead, he hurled a curse towards James but he’d been prepared and blocked it, retaliating with a jinx.

 

I glanced towards Sirius but he was fixed on Christian. I rolled my eyes and looked at Remus instead. He nodded lightly and mouthed ‘sorry’ before hitting me with a petrifying curse. I fell on the floor as the duel ensued around me. Eventually, the ruckus they were causing attracted attention and some teachers came to break up the fight. It was only then that Christian thought to look for me and noticed I had been petrified on the floor the entire time. The spell was lifted off me and he took my hand.

 

“Come on, let’s get out of here” he pulled me up and, staring straight at James, kissed me deeply.

 

I had a strong sense of déjà vu as Sirius launched himself against Christian and they both rolled on the floor in a fist fight. The teachers started yelling at them to stop but they weren’t listening. Then, I had a brilliant idea. Acting as the concerned girlfriend I was supposed to be, I hurried over to them and ‘tried’ to get them to stop. I ducked to avoid a punch and saw my opening. Christian was going straight for Sirius’ face, but I knew there was no way he was going to land that blow. Sirius reflexes were just too good so, bracing for impact, I strategically positioned myself so that when Sirius dodged, Christian’s fist connected with my face instead.

 

The horrible noise of my nose cracking was enough to stop the fight.

 

“Shit, Jo, you okay?” Christian pushed Sirius away and tried to approach me.

 

“You are a brute! Why do you always have to get into fights!? What is your problem?” I was bleeding profusely, which I figured helped add to the drama I was building up.

 

“I am so sorry, I didn’t see you, I wouldn’t hurt you”

 

“I am not so sure! I was trying to break up the fight for ages! You care more about fighting with Black than me! What kind of shit boyfriend are you?” oh that felt good.

 

“Miss Silverway, we need to get you to the infirmary” McGonagall coming to my aid at the right time. Minerva for the win!

 

“Oh my god, Jocelyn are you okay?” Lily shrieked dramatically. Yes, yes, yes, anyone else want to join in?

 

“I would never forgive a boyfriend if they broke my nose like that” I was quite surprised to hear the same fourth year that had found the Jax photo chime in.

 

“You know what, I think you’re right!” I shouted, clutching my nose. “We are done! You are a brute, absolute animal! My nose!” I shrieked.

 

Christian didn’t like this one bit, obviously. “I can’t believe you of all people are breaking up with me calling me a brute”

 

“What is that supposed to mean?” oh this was going so brilliantly.

 

“You played an entire quidditch game with a broken hand and knocked two people unconscious with the bludger during another. Who’s the animal?”

 

“Is that what you really think of me?” I willed some tears to my eyes, which wasn’t difficult given the amount of pain I was in. Breaking a nose is excruciating, let me tell you. “Well then, you’ll be glad to not have to deal with me ever again!”

 

And with that, I dramatically turned on my heel and said, “I shall very much like to go to the infirmary now, professor. I think I’m going to faint”

 

McGonagall and Lily hurried to escort me away from the Entrance Hall and towards the infirmary. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Sirius grinning manically. If my nose wasn’t hurting so much, I would be grinning too.

 

“That was some brilliant scheming” Lily whispered.

 

“I expect a red carpet and an Oscar statuette upon my return to the common room” I informed her. Both her and McGonagall laughed loudly at that. “I really hope Madame Pomfrey can fix my nose. I’ll be extremely upset if I’ve ruined my face to get out of a fake relationship”

 

Fortunately for me, Madame Pomfrey had zero trouble re-setting my nose to its natural state.

 

Sirius’ POV

 

I was over the moon. Jocelyn was a freaking genius. She had found a way to get rid of Rosier immediately without arising any suspicion whatsoever and I would never ever have to see him lay his hands on her again. I felt like I could run a million laps around the castle’s grounds. The bad news, however, were that we couldn’t just go back to normal that easily. We still had to keep up appearances, so we were forced to do it slowly. The first day after Jocelyn’s outstanding performance in the Entrance Hall (Sunday) she sat alone with Lily at the Gryffindor table away from us. On Monday, we worked together during transfiguration again but kept idle chat to a minimum. On Tuesday, Lily made a point of saying loudly she really wanted to sit next to James and begged Jocelyn to agree. She ‘reluctantly’ did so. So, Jocelyn sat close-ish to us but didn’t speak much during breakfast and lunch.

 

It was the most annoying thing in the whole world, and it made me appreciate how hard it had been for her to keep up her cover for almost three full months. But then, to my excitement, Tuesday afternoon was time for our team quidditch practice. Jocelyn arrived walking casually, carrying her broom over her shoulder and playing with her bat.

 

“Right. We have a lot of work to do if we’re going to win the cup after last game’s fiasco” James started. “I would like us to be civil to each other, especially now that nobody is being friendly with any snakes” he gave Jocelyn a pointed look and she rolled her eyes. I don’t think she was pretending.

 

“Aye, Cap” she said.

 

“Jocelyn and Sirius, you two have a lot of work to do. Get your Mad Beaters magic back on. I don’t care what you have to do but kiss and make up quickly. We need you”

 

Jocelyn’s eyes went very wide at James’ choice of words. I realized she probably thought I had told him about what had happened. She recovered her composure quickly and swaggered over to me. I absolutely hated it when she walked like that. It was hard enough to be around her without her swinging her hips at me.

 

“What do you say we practice a Black Diversion to put cap’s mind at ease?” she smiled wickedly.

 

“You sure know how to make Prongs all hot and bothered” I said. She laughed a beautiful, pure laugh that made me proud I had been the one to cause it.

 

“Let’s go, I don’t have all day” and she was off. I followed her. She soared way higher than was necessary and, without any preamble or warning, dove straight for me.

 

“THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT! Yeeeeeeeesss!!” James almost had a fit when Jocelyn grabbed my bat and twisted back up in the air, standing on her broom and ferociously swinging both arms. The rest of the team was cheering and clapping.

 

I hadn’t spent any time at all in the changing room since the Hufflepuff game. I had walked back to the Gryffindor Tower and showered in our bathroom every single time. I didn’t know if Jocelyn thought about our moment as much as I did. Hell, I didn’t even know if Jocelyn thought about our moment at all.

 

“We should celebrate, it’s good for morale” Cal was saying as we all walked into the room.

 

“I agree with Cal” said James.

 

“It’s a Tuesday” Matt protested.

 

“We have a Hogsmeade visit on Saturday, last one before Easter” Jo suggested. “We could grab a drink together in the Three Broomsticks”

 

“I like that. Let’s do it”

 

“Ace”

 

“We’ll meet around six, does that work for everyone?” James asked. People nodded. Some started getting changed and some walked out still in their kit, chatting excitedly. Jocelyn went with them.

 

“Padfoot, we’ve got to hurry”

 

“Huh?”

 

“I know it’s been an exciting few days, but you didn’t forget it is full moon tonight, did you?” Prongs gave me a pointed look and I made a grimace.

 

“Oops?”

 

“Come on, let’s go” I nodded.

 

We showered and got dressed in our bathroom. Moony had already left with Madame Pomfrey to go to the Shack. We hid ourselves safely under Prongs’ cloak and made our way to the grounds. Just as Wormtail was going to get the Willow to stop moving, a beautiful husky dog approached us timidly. I barked and wagged my tail, and she understood. We all ran through the passage to the Shack together, just like before. Life was good.



Chapter 28: Kamikaze
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Author's note: just a quick note because this chapter deviates from canon and, as far as I know, it's the first time I do this blatantly. I know that the Order didn't know the marauders were animagi. I have deliberately chosen to change this for my fic but it won't impact the main storyline. The rest of the story will continue as close to canon as I can make it.

 

##

 

Jocelyn’s POV

 

I got the message from the Order on Wednesday afternoon whilst I was working with Sirius on our strategy for the Ravenclaw game. The meeting was on Friday. He got excited about it, but I couldn’t really focus on quidditch very much after that, so we cut the training session short. We walked back to the Gryffindor Tower chatting about random stuff.

 

“It’s good to be back” I told Sirius as we walked into the common room.

 

“I missed you, pocket rocket” he said, grabbing me in a lose side-hug and punching my shoulder. He hadn’t done that in so long. “We still need to talk, though”

 

He’d been trying, but I kept avoiding it. I wasn’t ready. I was enjoying being friends and was putting off the awkward conversation for as long as I could.

 

“Aaaww, look at you two” James cooed from the sofa he was sharing with Lily. “I trust this means there is absolutely no doubt you’re going to smash Ravenclaw”

 

“Is quidditch all you think about?” asked Lily.

 

“No, I also think about you a lot” he replied. She smiled sweetly at him and I made a gagging noise. I felt Sirius’ ribs vibrate with his laughter.

 

“It’s our last quidditch game at Hogwarts. We are going out in style” I said, winking at James.

 

“That’s the spirit”

 

“What are you guys up to?” Sirius asked them. I noticed with some satisfaction he hadn’t let go of me yet.

 

“Lily was helping me with potions”

 

“Ugh, I forgot about the potions essay” he groaned.

 

“So did I” I said. Sirius made puppy eyes at Lily.

 

“Help us? Pretty please?”

 

“Fine, get your arses here” she sighed.

 

We spent a pleasant evening all four of us working together. In those little moments, when it was just us and our schoolwork, it was almost easy to forget there was a war and that all our lives were in danger.

 

James’ POV

 

I was very excited. Jo had informed us the meeting with the Order was today right after school and I couldn’t wait. I felt like joining the Order gave our lives purpose and meaning. We would be fighting against Lord Voldemort, helping save lives and make a difference. It was just right. We made our way to Dumbledore’s office together and found him waiting for us with McGonagall. We flooed. Jo explained they had been side-apparating with Dumbledore until then but we were too many even for the mighty headmaster.

 

When we arrived at the safe house, I was surprised to recognize some of the faces. Frank and Alice Longbottom were there, and so was Arthur Weasley. This wasn’t the biggest shock, however. What really stunned me was the reception Jocelyn got. Every single member, including the older and more senior ones, rushed to her and began congratulating her and checking that she was, in fact, in one piece. I don’t think it had really clicked until that moment just how much respect Jocelyn had earnt but I felt a fierce pride inside me and thought it was only right. It had nearly cost her her life. To my right, Padfoot was staring at her in awe, and I knew he was thinking along the same lines I was.

 

Once the reunion was over, Dumbledore introduced us as new members in training. Everyone introduced themselves in turn.

 

“Well, what can you lot do?” said the man who had introduced himself as Alastor Moody.

 

“Oh, I think you’ll like this, Alastor” Jocelyn said smiling wickedly. I noticed Sirius shot him a glance, Jo seemed very comfortable around him. Was he a bit jealous? “Boys, let the Order meet Prongs, Padfoot and Wormtail”

 

I stared at her in horror. What was she doing?

 

“Are you sure?” Sirius asked her. She nodded.

 

“You need to trust them, otherwise this won’t work” she said.

 

“Well… I trust her. If she trusts them, that’s good enough for me” Sirius said, looking at me. That was all I needed.

 

“On three! One, two, three…”

 

“What did you give these generation of kids, Minerva? We’ve got people turning into animagus left, right, and centre!” Moody said with delight.

 

“I… I…” McGonagall was staring at us. I felt quite smug at this.

 

“They did it for me” said Remus, stepping slightly forward.

 

“Remus, there’s no need” I said.

 

“Yes, there is James. If we’re going to fight together we need to trust each other” he held his head high and said “I am a werewolf. My friends know, and became animagi so they could accompany me during my transformations”

 

I understood that moment why the Order was a force to be reckoned with, and why they had a good chance against Voldemort. Not a single person looked at Remus with disgust, or fear. Instead, they looked at him and us with renewed respect.

 

“That is the level of loyal I aspire to be” said Frank Longbottom. There was a chorus of general agreement.

 

“Right, let’s get to work then. This will be most helpful, there are packs of werewolves that are rumoured to be friendly with Death Eaters…”

 

“They need training first, Alastor” Jocelyn cut him off and gave her a look that would have made anyone recoil. Not Moody, though.

 

“Yes, yes, training. Well, let’s get to it”

 

And so it was that at the end of March, three months before we graduated from Hogwarts, the marauders, my Lily and our honorary member Jocelyn were all officially part of the Order of Phoenix.

 

Jocelyn’s POV

 

“Jocelyn” I heard him behind me and tensed. Sirius, who had been walking next to me, turned around immediately.

 

“Leave her alone, Rosier” he spat.

 

“I’m not talking to you, Black” I saw Christian had come with Regulus, probably to make sure Sirius would back off.

 

“What do you want Christian?” I asked.

 

“I want to talk to you” he said. Sirius shook his head.

 

“I’ll catch up, go ahead, Sirius. It’ll be fine” I said. He shot me an angry look.

 

“I don’t like this”

 

“It’s okay. Go on, please” I said. He took off without another look at them.

 

“What’s up Christian?” I asked him falling into step next to him. Reg had disappeared.

 

“I’m sorry about what I said the other day outside the Great Hall”

 

“It wasn’t nice” I said simply.

 

“I was angry. I shouldn’t have said it. I want you back”

 

“I… I don’t think so, Christian” we had stopped walking. He turned to look at me.

 

“We were good together, Jo. Give me another shot, please”

 

“I… I have been re-bonding with my friends, Christian. And with the Quidditch team. I hadn’t realized how much I missed them until now… I don’t think I can give that up again” I told him.

 

“Are you really going to let your friends dictate who you can and can’t date?” he asked angrily.

 

“It is my decision. I am choosing them over you. I’m sorry” I gave him a small smile and walked away.

 

Sirius was waiting for me outside the classroom for our next lesson. I was about to walk in when he grabbed my arm and pulled me to the side.

 

“We’re skipping class” he said, leading me away.

 

“What? Why? Where are we going?” I asked, confused.

 

“We need to talk. You’ve been avoiding me. You talked to Rosier, so I think the least you can do is talk to me, too” he was angry. This was dangerous.

 

“You can’t compare it, Sirius” I said when we finally stopped in an empty classroom.

 

“What did he want?”


“To get back together. I said no, obviously” I informed him. He smirked.

 

“I bet he didn’t like that!”

 

“Of course he didn’t” I shrugged.

 

“I want to apologise for… well… you know… the common room thing” he said looking uncomfortable.

 

“You were horrible to me” I said. “But I don’t want to think, talk or remember it. Never bring it up again. Let’s pretend it didn’t happen”

 

“I can’t pretend it didn’t happen, I was a dick”

 

“I really don’t want to talk about this, Sirius” I said.

 

“Well… what about the Hufflepuff game?”

 

“What about it?”

 

“Come on, don’t play dumb with me Jo. You know what I mean”

 

“We got carried away. It happens. It’s not a big deal, Sirius” I tried to keep my voice casual.

 

“Is that all it was?” his tone was off.

 

“I… is it not?”

 

“Maybe it’s not. Maybe I want to see what happens if we are open to it,” he said. He leaned closer to me and my breath caught. “I think you want me, Jo”

 

“Don’t get cocky with me, Sirius. Sure, I think you’re hot but so does half the female population of Hogwarts”

 

“Only half?” he smirked again and brushed his lips against mine for a brief second. I shivered.

 

“Stop playing games, Sirius!”

 

“It could be fun?” he tried again.

 

“I don’t think so, Sirius. There’s lots of other people we can go to for ‘fun’. Best friends, I only have one. And my mind is a mess at the moment, anyway, I’ve been caught up in the Christian thing, and the Order, and then almost dying and you guys joining. I don’t have space to consider this, us, fun, whatever you want to call it…”

 

“I’m not in a hurry”

 

“You’re my best friend”

 

“I can still be your best friend, that doesn’t have to change”

 

“I’d rather if nothing changed at all,” I told him. He looked at me for a while. I could almost see the thoughts running through his head. I prayed he’d agree with me, that our friendship was too valuable to throw away carelessly. I did not want to be his new toy. I couldn’t bear it when he got tired and threw me away. 

 

“That sounds good to me, then,” he said. I didn’t miss the troubled look that crossed his features, but if I had to hurt his ego a little to save our friendship and my heart, so be it. He could take one rejection. He had to, for both our sakes.  

 

#

 

Re-bonding with the quidditch team was the perfect excuse to speed up my re-joining my friends. After our little celebration in Hogsmeade, I felt it safe to start hanging out with them in public as before. Life was good, and back to normal, or as normal as it can be when you’re part of a secret evil-fighting organization. Easter break was starting in two days and, same as for Christmas, we hadn’t decided what to do. Things were getting very, very dire out there. Nobody felt safe anywhere, and Lord Voldemort was now actively campaigning to take over the Ministry of Magic.

 

“We could stay in school again” suggested Remus.

 

“How about we go to my parents’ villa?” I said.

 

“Are you serious?” James asked, gaping.

 

‘Don’t say it, don’t say it, don’t say it’

 

“No, he is” Lily couldn’t resist. The joke was old as time, but we just couldn’t get over it. Sirius hated it. I giggled.

 

“So very funny, Red”

 

“Couldn’t help it” she giggled some more.

 

“Right, anyway. Yes. I mean it” I said. “I’ve been thinking, after we graduate your training will also be done and we’ll start going out on actual missions. Every single time we’re out on the field could be the last. I think we should have some time to just enjoy life”

 

“I think Jo is right” said Remus. “And there isn’t even a full moon over Easter, which almost never happens. We should go”

 

“And your parents are okay with this?” Peter asked.

 

“They are. They’ve been branded blood traitors and are going to America to hide for a while so they’re not going to be using it any time soon”

 

“Doesn’t that make you a target too?”

 

“No more than being in the Order does” I shrugged. “My parents aren’t good fighters, they are helping in other ways, like financially supporting the Order. They can do that from abroad”

 

“I think your villa sounds amazing, then” said Sirius. I beamed.

 

“It’s settled”

 

#

 

More students than ever before in the history of Hogwarts stayed at school for the holiday period. I was glad we had somewhere to go that felt relatively safe. Dumbledore had insisted on personally visiting and putting up some extra wards, despite my reminder that nobody knew my parents owned this house in a remote village in the southern coast of France. Chances of us getting attacked there were extremely slim.

 

We arrived at dusk, and two of our house elves showed people to their rooms. James and Lily were sharing, everyone else had their own. I walked around doing some checks and talked to the elves about dinner, then headed out and sat at the edge of the pool.

 

“Mind if I join you?” James said. I hadn’t even heard him approach.

 

“Not at all” he sat next to me.

 

“I want to ask you for help”

 

“Shoot”

 

“You know you keep saying that after we graduate things are… well, they’re going to get dangerous for real” he was whispering. I had no idea where he was going with this, and I was curious.

 

“Yeah?”

 

“I’ve been thinking… Lily and I… well, I am so in love with her, Jo”

 

“I know” I smiled at him. “What’s the matter?”

 

“Nothing, I just… I keep thinking that if anything happened to her I don’t know what I would do. I want to spend the rest of my life with her, I want to protect her, and to make her happy”

 

“James, you already make her happy”

 

“You think so?”

 

“I know so”

 

“Okay, well, here’s the thing. I have been thinking that I want to propose to Lily”

 

“Holy shit” I looked at him. “Sorry, I didn’t mean that, it’s just… it’s quite the statement, James”

 

“I know. If things weren’t the way they are I would probably wait, we haven’t even been dating for a whole year, but… what if, you know?”

 

And I did know. I knew because I had been out there only once and it had already been a near-death experience.

 

“I think you should propose. And I think she’ll say yes”

 

“You’re not just saying that?”

 

“I know Lily, James. I know her better than anyone else. She knows how serious this is, she is the only muggle-born in our group. She loves you, and she’s going to want to do this” I took a deep breath and continued. “Alice, Lily and I used to spend a lot of time talking about finding the one that feels like fireworks. We call it finding our ‘epic’. Alice told me to tell Remus he was hers right before she died. Lily hasn’t told me, but she doesn’t need to. I know you are hers, James. You are it for Lily”

 

“Thank you” he said, taking my hands in his. “Thank you, Jo”

 

“Just make sure she makes me maid of honour and we’ll be square” I joked. He laughed.

 

“You know… I am definitely making Sirius my best man” he wiggled his eyebrows at me.

 

“What is that supposed to mean?”

 

“Don’t even try to pretend you don’t like him, Jo. I am not blind”

 

“Everybody likes Sirius” I said dismissively.

 

“What are you so afraid of?”

 

“You sound like Lily” I rolled my eyes at him.

 

“No, no, no, no. You don’t get to give me a big beautiful speech about epics and fireworks and then roll your eyes at me” he protested. “You need to tell him”

 

“I really don’t think so, James. You know how he is”

 

“What? How?”

 

“Allergic to relationships” I shrugged. “I know Sirius, he’s a great friend, the best of the best, but… I can’t even tell you how crap of a boyfriend he is because he’s never even been one. You get what I’m saying?”

 

“You could be the one to change that” he said.

 

“Now I am sure you’ve been talking to Lily” I smiled and shook my head. “Don’t you worry about me, you, captain, have a proposal to prepare. Remember, it has to be epic” I winked at him and stood up, offering him a hand. He laughed hard at that.

 

“I know you’re a lot stronger than you look, Jo, but that’s just funny” he playfully slapped my hand away.

 

“Oh no, you did not!” I shouted, pushing him backwards as he tried to stand up.

 

“You wicked little devil!” and with that, we both ended up in the pool, clothes and all.

 

“You are having fun without us!” Remus was indignant as he ran out of the house followed closely by the other three.

 

“The disrespect!” shouted Peter.

 

“INCOMING!” Sirius sprinted and jumped in the pool, splashing everywhere. It wasn’t long before everyone else was laughing and dripping wet. ‘This is going to be a good vacation’ I thought.

 

**

 

We decided to go out and party with the locals the following night. Lily and I were hugely excited about this and spent a bit more time than we should have getting ready. The boys were annoyed when we finally announced we were ready to leave. We found a terrace that had music and great ambience. Sirius and James went inside to get drinks whilst the rest of us secured a large table.

 

Before long, we were all tipsy and laughing loudly and the absurd jokes we were coming up with. Eventually, we decided it was time to find a place with more of a club vibe and left. We followed the sound of music to a cool looking club. A discreet confundus charm got us past door security without any issues. Once inside, we made our way to the bar and got some more drinks.

 

Peter quickly disappeared after a nice looking girl who had been making eyes at him. James and Lily went dancing, and I stayed with Remus and Sirius.

 

“Hello boys” a pair of muggle girls approached us and batted their eyelashes at Remus and Sirius.

 

“Hi” Remus said. Sirius and I exchanged a curious look.

 

“What’s your name?” the taller of the girls had an American accent and long jet-black hair and she went straight for Remus.

 

“Remus. Nice to meet you”

 

“Silver”

 

“Cool name”

 

Remus got to talking to this Silver girl and we discreetly moved to give them some privacy. This left me awkwardly standing next to Sirius and the other girl, who had introduced herself as Melissa. She was shamelessly flirting with Sirius but, to my surprise, he wasn’t really flirting back.

 

“So, Sirius, do you want to dance?” she asked at the same I said, “Let’s do shots”.

 

“Shots sound good” he said quickly.

 

“Okay, shots” Melissa glared at me but I ignored her and ordered. We got three tequilas.

 

“Right, one, two, three…” Sirius and I tapped our glass in perfect sycn and drank, eyes locked. I almost chocked on my tequila at the strong reaction my body had over this silly tradition. I mentally chastised myself, it’s not like we hadn’t done shots a million times before.

 

“You know, you could have told me you’re together” Melissa scoffed.

 

“We’re not together” I said quickly.

 

“Oh, what’s up then?”

 

“We are in the same sports team. We train together a lot, and drink together a lot. It’s just how it is” I was babbling. Why was I babbling and why on earth was basically telling this stranger that it was okay for her to crack on with Sirius? What was wrong with me?

 

“What sport do you play?” she asked turning her attention back to Sirius. I wanted to smack myself in the head.

 

“Water polo” he replied. I chuckled.

 

“Oooh” Melissa said. This girl wasn’t very smart. There was no way I could be a waterpolo player. Had she not seen my size?

 

“Anyway, I promised Jo I wouldn’t leave her alone tonight, and I believe she owes me a dance, so nice meeting you, Melissa” he said. Before I could protest, he grabbed my hand and led me to the dance floor.

 

“You didn’t have to do that” I said as soon as he stopped.

 

“I wanted to” he replied. We started dancing.

 

“I really wouldn’t have minded; I can handle myself alone in a club”

 

“I said I wanted to” he insisted.

 

“Okay” I muttered.

 

An hour later, James and Lily informed us they were going home, and we decided to join them. We quickly checked that both Peter and Remus, who was dancing and snogging this Silver girl (yay!), knew how to get back and left. When we got to the villa, James and Lily disappeared faster than the giant squid when McGonagall strolls by the lake (very fast, in case you’re wondering).

 

“I am hungry!” Sirius announced to no one in particular.

 

“You’re drunk” I said. “Come on” I walked to the kitchen and he followed. I sat on the counter, my legs dangling freely and pointed at the freezer.

 

“We’ve got ice cream in there”

 

“Ice cream?”


“Do you not like it?”

 

“I said I was hungry, Jo. I am a six-foot athlete. I need real food” he protested. He did, however, open the freezer and toss me a tub of chocolate ice cream.


“Spoon, please” he sighed and tossed me one, too. “There’s leftovers from dinner in the oven” I offered as I dug into my ice cream.

 

“That sounds more like it”

 

We ate in comfortable silence for a while before he put away his plate and came to stand close to me.

 

“I would like some of that now” he said.

 

“Here” I pointed a spoonful at him. Instead of taking the spoon, he simply ate the ice cream I was offering from it.

 

“That is some seriously good ice-cream” he said, clearly impressed.

 

“You are correct. Want some more?” he nodded, so I fed him again. “Have you spoken to James?” I asked him.

 

“What?”


“Sorry, you know sometimes I run away with my thoughts” I ate another spoonful of ice cream before continuing. “James spoke to me yesterday about Lily and I was wondering if you, being his other, less important best friend (he made an incredulous face at that that I ignored) have also been consulted on a delicate matter”

 

He grabbed the spoon I had been waving around during my speech and helped himself to some ice cream before replying.

 

“He may have” he said vaguely.

 

“Oh, come on” I protested. He offered me ice-cream. I leaned forward to eat it and lost my balance slightly. “Ooh” I shrieked.

 

“I got you” Sirius and his amazing arms (he had insane arms, like, I could just stare at them all day long) caught me with ease and put me back on the counter.

 

He didn’t move away. Why is he not moving away? Oh, Godric. ‘Please, Sirius, don’t kiss me. I don’t think I can take it’ I thought.

 

“You guys still up?” saved by the arrival of Peter and Remus! Go boys!

 

“Want ice-cream?” I offered, pretending the moment hadn’t happened.

 

“Yeah” they joined and we finished the entire tub.

 

Sirius’ POV

 

Two weeks. We had spent two entire weeks in this villa and I hadn’t managed to make it happen. I knew Jo was avoiding it on purpose, but I wasn’t expecting it to be so hard. I was frustrated and starting to think I had lost my skills. I threw my pillow across the room angrily. We were leaving today after the best holiday I had ever had. It had been truly amazing. We’d been to the beach, played in the pool, gone clubbing a few times, eaten our weight in ice-cream and just had a good old time. It had been, just like Jo promised, a short break from the cruel reality we were facing back home.

 

I made my way to the kitchen and asked a house elf for coffee. It was rather early, so I didn’t think anyone would be awake. We weren’t leaving until the afternoon and we’d been up till the wee hours of the morning the night before. There were shots, drunken pool antics and a ‘Truth or Dare’ game that had ended with James and I competing over who could eat more chocolate in one sitting without throwing up.

 

I grabbed the mug the little elf offered and wandered outside on the wooden deck that surrounded the pool area. I sat down and put my feet in the water. I needed a plan. There was clearly something there with Jo, or so I thought. I had caught her glancing at me a few times, and she bit her lip a lot around me recently. I could be wrong, but I was choosing to believe these things meant something. She wanted to resist it, resist me. She’d told me she wasn’t ready to think about what any of the stuff we’d done when she was with Christian meant, but I couldn’t give up.  

 

“Penny for your thoughts?”

 

“Hey, Red. Why you up so early?” she sat next to me.


“You seem to forget I don’t drink anywhere near as much as the rest of you lot do. I don’t have raging hangovers to contend with” she said.

 

“Fair point”

 

“So, want to tell me or do I have to force it out of you?”

 

“It’s Jo. It is always Jo” I said.

 

“You know, I thought something was going to happen over the past two weeks. But nothing has, has it?”

 

“Nope. I mean, we’ve had a couple of moments but either we are interrupted by someone, or she finds a ridiculous excuse to break it”

 

“She told me what happened after the Hufflepuff game”

 

“She did?” I was pretty sure I resembled an ugly fish opening and closing my mouth in shock, but I was past caring. Lily was practically my sister now that she was with James.

 

“She did”

 

“And?”

 

“What do you mean and?”

 

“Stop teasing me, Red. I swear to Godric…”

 

“Okay, okay” she chuckled. “Let’s just say if it’d been a N.E.W.T. she’d given you an O”

 

I felt very smug at that, and grinned wickedly.


“She also thinks you’re a man-whore with an allergy to commitment. And she mentioned you did something horrible to her” Oh. Oh.

 

“Well, that is true. I spoke to her a couple of weeks ago, she said she didn’t know how she felt about me but that either way she wasn’t ready to even think about it”


“She said she doesn’t know how she feels?” I nodded. “And what do you think?” she asked me.

 

“I keep feeling like she wants something to happen but she’s trying hard to resist… this, whatever we have”


“She is” I felt both better and worse at the same time. One the one hand, I wasn’t going mad. Jo did like me. On the other, she had a very low opinion of me and was fighting against her own feelings. Brilliant.  

 

“How do I fix this, Red?”

 

“You have to convince her she’s different” she said. “I can’t tell you how, because I don’t know what you did but also because it has to come from you. But I’d suggest you never, ever, speak to Fiorella again for starters. And that you grovel, hard. Have you apologized?”

 

“I haven’t even looked at the girl since like February! And yes, I have” I protested.

 

“Look, I know how you feel about Jo, and I know it’s genuine. But you have to show her. Jo is not going to risk it with you, she values your friendship too much to risk destroying it if you date and it doesn’t work”

 

“I really don’t have any ideas, Red. I mean, I broke my back, and every other bone in my body, for her. That didn’t do the trick, I’m not sure there’s a grander gesture”

 

“She was with James at the time. It doesn’t count”

 

“Are you suggesting I kamikaze towards potential death in order to convince Jo I want to be with her for real?” I entertained the idea for a moment, but Lily’s horrified expression told me she didn’t mean that.

 

“Absolutely not. What I mean is, what matters is what you do now. Like I said, staying away from girls is a good starting point”

 

“You could put in a good word for me” I suggested wiggling my eyebrows.

 

“I’ll see what I can do” she smiled at me.

 

“Thank you, Lily” I said.

 

“You can keep calling me Red” she surprised me by saying. “But don’t tell anyone I gave you permission”

 

#

 

Jocelyn’s POV

 

As soon as we were back at Hogwarts, we had a meeting with the Order to catch up on what we had missed and to resume training. We had some somber news – two members of the Order were currently missing – but also some good ones, Moody had captured yet another Death Eater and he was already rotting in Azkaban. As my friends paired up with more senior members and started working on their training, Moody approached me.

 

“Jocelyn, a word” we moved away from the main group a little. I waited for him to start speaking again. “We need you on another field mission, are you up for it?”

 

“I am”

 

“Excellent. Dumbledore wasn’t sure you’d feel ready so soon after Hyde Park but hey, this is a war isn’t it? No time to be feeling sorry for ourselves” I had to chuckle. Moody was even more hellbent on bringing Lord Voldemort down than I was.

 

“What’s the mission Alastor?”

 

“We’re going after Dolohov. I have a credible tip on his whereabouts”

 

“Who is going?”

 

“Just you and I. It’s a covert mission, should be quick: go in, grab him, out. He’ll be in Azkaban faster than he can say ‘crucio’”

 

“When are we leaving?”

 

“Tomorrow” I nodded and turned back to watch my friends train.

 

“You know, you are a formidable group. The world could use a lot more like you” Moody said before re-joining training and barking corrections to postures and spells.

 

I broke the news to the marauders and Lily later that night as we hung out in the boys’ room. They weren’t happy I was going, and I could tell Lily was worried, but they didn’t complain or beg me to stay. We were soldiers, fighting was what we did. That night, we stayed with them again. I curled up next to Sirius and closed my eyes.

 

“Jo, are you asleep?” he whispered after a little while.

 

“Mmm… maybe?” I said, sleepily.

 

“Sorry, just wanted to say something real quick”


“Hmm…”

 

“Come back in one piece tomorrow, please” I opened my eyes a little and looked at him. I nodded lightly to let him know I’d heard him. “Come back to me” he said it so softly that, later, I wouldn’t be able to tell if I had dreamt it.

 

Lily’s POV

 

Jocelyn was gone for almost a week. It was nerve wracking. We had no way of communicating with her or Moody and not knowing was torture. We tried to keep up appearances and went to class, ate and spent some time in the common room but it was hard work. The boys went to quidditch practice on Tuesday and Thursday and James told me Sirius got hit by the bludger so many times they had to turn their Thursday session into conditioning work instead. I couldn’t blame him. The longer Jo was gone the more terrifying the things my mind came up with were.

 

We still had training with the Order even though Jo and Moody were away. That they were on a mission didn’t mean there weren’t other things going on. We worked ourselves into the ground every time. I knew we were all thinking the same: we had to stick together and we couldn’t do that until we were allowed on the field.

 

“Do you think it’ll take much longer?” James asked me when we sat down on his bed together Friday afternoon.

 

“I have no idea. Jo didn’t really say how long she thought she’d be gone. I just assumed it’d be quick, you know? In and out kind of thing?”

 

“I know you’re worried. I’m worried too, but she’s with Moody. He’s the best auror we have” he reminded me.

 

“No one is invincible, James. Not even Moody” he hugged me tightly. It made me feel better immediately. Sirius walked into the room that moment.

 

“Oh, guys, come on have some decency!” he joked.

 

“Hey Sirius”

 

He nodded in our general direction and headed straight for his bed side table, where the map had been living since Jo left on her mission. I broke my heart to see how much Sirius cared about her, and how blind Jo was to it.

 

“I solemnly swear that I am up to no good” he said. After a little while, he informed us. “Nothing. I can’t find her”

 

“Hey, bad news travel fast. If anything had happened, I’m sure we would know” I told him. He ran a hand through his hair and went back to studying the map.

 

“You need to distract yourself, mate. This isn’t good for you” James said. I nodded.

 

“I can’t Prongs. I can’t think of anything else. I’m terrified she’ll come back in pieces or worse, that she won’t at all”

 

“You can’t be thinking about that. It is not healthy. You have barely eaten all week. You got knocked off your broom by a bludger, Padfoot. A bludger hasn’t even got close enough to graze you since Second Year” James pointed out.

 

“He’s right, Sirius. We need to do something, try to keep our minds off it” I said. “Maybe we can go fly around for a bit?”

 

At that, he seemed to perk up a little. “I may have an idea. Come on, it’s about time I showed you my little secret” he said cryptically.

 

James and I exchanged a confused look, but we had got what we wanted, so we followed Sirius out.

 

James’ POV

 

I couldn’t believe my eyes. A freaking flying motorcycle.

 

“I want to try! It’s my turn! Let me go!” I shouted. Padfoot laughed and landed in front of us. We’d picked up Moony and Wormtail along the way and they were standing with Lily watching the bike in awe.

 

“Alright, be careful if you break it I’ll kill you” he said.

 

“Yes, yes, I know. Now, get off!”

 

I jumped on it and soared. It was the coolest thing ever. As I flew around, careful to keep to the very edge of the grounds, I thought only Jo could think of the perfect present for Sirius. I wondered if she knew exactly what she was doing when she had given it to him. I wondered if she was conscious of it or if she hasn’t realized it yet. She was the only person (bar my glorious self) who really knew him. She could see his soul, his need to be loved but not smothered, his desire for freedom to do what he wanted and be who he wanted to be without being judged or hated for it like he had been by his family.



Chapter 29: I got you
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James’ POV

 

I took Lily on a date to the Room of Requirements that Saturday to try and keep her mind off Jo. Padfoot’s bike had kept us busy until late in the evening last night but when we’d woken up and, after careful study of the map, Sirius had informed us that she still wasn’t back, Lily had had a breakdown.

 

I was still trying to plan the perfect proposal, but it wasn’t easy. For starters, I couldn’t decide if I should wait until after we graduated or if I should propose now-ish. I was also in permanent conflict with myself over whether this was a stupid idea and I was going to scare her off, or if it was the ultimate romantic gesture. I really hoped it was the latter, but I had no guarantees.

 

I was also worried Lily would think I was proposing because she’d told me she had been considering waiting until marriage before having sex. My decision to propose to her was completely unrelated to this fact. Sex had absolutely nothing to do with it whatsoever, but girls liked to jump to conclusions and, well, as happy as I was to wait until she was ready, I did get carried away every now and then when we snogged. What could I do? I was an eighteen-year-old boy, after all.

 

We sat on the lush sofas we usually asked the Room for. She brought her knees up and hugged them to her, resting her chin on them. She was so beautiful. I often found myself watching her and thinking how damn lucky I was she had chosen me. I would do anything to keep her safe and make her happy.

 

“James?” she broke my internal monologue.

 

“Yes?”

 

“I’ve been thinking... you know, about the Order and the war and all”

 

“Jo will be fine, I know it” I said, taking her hand. She let me grab it, resting her cheek on her knees instead so she could face me without unfolding her knees.

 

“No, for once, I wasn’t thinking about Jo,” she shook her head.

 

“Oh?”

 

“I was thinking about us,” she said. I saw a blush spread from her cheeks down her neck.

 

“And?”

 

“Well, I don’t want to wait. I don’t think we should wait. Nobody knows what’s going to happen, we could be dead the day after graduation for all we know, and I don’t want to die without knowing what it’s like to be with you,” she said all this very quickly, in a single breath and staring intently at me.

 

I stared at her green eyes. There was so much hope in them, and love, and trust. There was also fear. She was afraid, we all were. But she loved me, she loved me like I loved her, and she wanted it to be forever, even if forever was short.

 

“Marry me,” I blurted out, shocking us both. Her eyes widened.

 

“You don’t need to...”

 

I cut her off. “I mean it, Lily. I’ve been thinking about how to plan the perfect proposal for you for a while, I spoke to Jo and Sirius about it, you can ask them. It’s not a spur of the moment kind of thing. I really want to marry you. I love you.  I don’t want to wait, we shouldn’t wait. I want to be yours and yours only for the rest of my life, however long or short it may be. Marry me,” I off the sofa and knelt on the floor in front of her. “Lily Evans, will you do me the honour of being my wife?”

 

Her eyes filled with tears, and I worried for a second. Then, she smiled the brightest, most beautiful smile I had ever seen in my entire life and said, “yes. Yes, James. Yes, I will marry you.”

 

I scooped her up from the sofa in my arms and kissed her. She giggled, and in that moment, I thought there was nothing I wouldn’t do to make her giggle like that every day for the rest of our lives.

 

“I love you,” I told her.

 

“I love you. Always,” she replied.

 

And so, a Saturday afternoon in late April 1978, Lily Evans and I became engaged. It was the happiest day of my life.

 

Jocelyn’s POV

 

I was covered in grime and dirt and the remains of a slimy purple substance that Dolohov had tried to ambush us with. It stung badly. I was desperate for a shower. I had apparated in Hogsmeade with Moody and flown into the school with a broom, directly through a window in the Gryffindor Common Room.

 

I pushed open the door to my room and yelped.

 

“Whoa! Merlin’s pants! Oh my, I’m sorry,” I closed the door to our room again immediately, trying to erase what I had just seen from my eyes.

 

I turned around and jogged to the boys’ instead. I knocked forcefully, and Remus opened.

 

“Jo! You’re back! Are you okay? I can’t really tell, you look like a mess,” he eyed me critically, trying to determine whether any of the blood on me was actually mine.

 

“Thanks, Moony. You need to work on how to greet a returning war hero, not doing great so far,” I joked. “My clothes are forever ruined but I’m fine. A couple of wounds to clean and burns to heal but I’ll live. I do, however, need help with this,” I gestured towards my own back, which was burning badly. “Can I come in?”

 

He realized he’d been standing there blocking the door and moved aside. I strode in and noticed the room was empty. My eyes focused on Sirius’ bed first. It was a mess, as per usual.

 

“Where’s everyone?”

 

“Peter is with... ehm... not sure what her name is,” I laughed and started peeling the outer layers of clothing off me. “Sirius is with his bike, I think.”

 

“Ah, about time he told you guys. Isn’t it the coolest thing?”

 

“It is. I don’t know where James and Lily are.”

 

“Oh, that I know. And trust me, I will be traumatized for the rest of my life” I said making a grimace.

 

“Oh! Ooooooh! So, he finally got some?” he waggled his eyebrows.

 

“Yup,” I grinned devilishly at him and we both laughed.

 

“I really hope you don’t think this is awkward, Moony, but I’m going to use your shower because I need to get this purple shit off of me ASAP,” I said, stripping down to my shirt and leggings only. “It burns like hell.”

 

“You’re like my sister. Go on, I’ll make sure nobody goes into the bathroom while you’re there,” he waved me away.

 

“Ace, thanks.”

 

I closed their bathroom door behind me and stepped into the shower. The mission had been a lot harder than we anticipated. Dolohov had strong protections up and he almost always had people coming in and out of his hideout. Moody and I couldn’t risk attacking when Dolohov wasn’t alone, so what was supposed to be a short mission dragged for about a week. I was exhausted.

 

In the end, after almost a week of waiting it out, Moody and I had decided to just go for it when Dolohov was holding a meeting with two others and bring hell down on them. The battle had been tough, Moody’s leg had been severely injured, but we’d captured Dolohov and two low ranking Death Eaters.

 

The hot water in the shower felt immensely good. It helped relax my sore muscles, but it was uncomfortable on the welts the poison had caused. I cleansed my skin of the grime and dirt and examined my injuries. I was going to need to some help to heal the burns the purple acid thing had caused all down my back.

 

I conjured up a pair of sweatpants and a lose T-shirt and came back out on the room. Remus was still there, sat on his bed with a book on his  lap.

 

“I need help. How good are you with healing charms?” I asked him.

 

“I’m decent, I guess. Why not go to Poppy, though?”

 

“I can’t really explain these as your average prank gone wrong injury,” I shrugged.

 

“Okay, let me see,” he said. I turned around and pulled my T-shirt up so he could see my back. “Oh fuck, that looks painful. What was it?”

 

“Don’t know for sure. It was that purple stuff, no idea what it was made of, though. It burnt like acid.”

 

“Alright, okay, lie down on the bed. Face down. Let’s see what we can do,” he grabbed a book and flicked through a few pages. I took off my t-shirt and lied down.

 

“Do you have any chocolate?” I asked him. He nodded, pulled a bar out from his drawer and tossed it to me. “This is good stuff.”

 

“I think this is going to hurt. I’m sorry” he said.

 

“Just do what you have to do,” he gave me a piece of cloth wrapped on itself and after a confused second I understood. I put it between my teeth and nodded.

He took a deep breath and walked over to the bed. Just as he was going to start, we heard frantic footsteps outside.

 

“Jocelyn!” the door burst open and Sirius stormed inside. I saw out of the corner of my eye that he was clutching the map, and panting.

 

“I came as soon as I saw you on the map,” he said. “I would have come sooner but I was fly… why are you half naked on Remus’ bed?”

 

“Jocelyn!” the door opened again, this time letting James and Lily in. They looked disheveled and worried.

 

“What are you doing?” James asked curiously. I couldn’t move, seeing I was topless lying face down on the bed, so I let Remus do the explaining.

 

“Jo’s injured, I’m helping,” he said gesturing to the ugly burns on my back.

 

“Oh my Godric! Do you know how worried we’ve been?” Lily rushed to my side.

 

“Yeah, very worried by the looks of it,” I grinned at her. She blushed crimson.

 

“What happened?” Sirius was trying to get Lily out of the way so he could take her place closest to my face.

 

“Dolohov plays dirty,” I replied. “Now, please help Remus fix this mess.”

 

“Do you know what you’re doing?” given a task to accomplish, Lily was all business. She grabbed her wand and looked at the book Remus had been flicking through. Sirius crouched by the head of the bed, as close to me as he could get. He eyed me with concern.

 

“I do but I could use your help. Jo, get ready,” I heard Remus say from behind me.

 

I took a deep breath and put the rolled cloth back in my mouth. Sirius grabbed my hand and whispered, “I got you.” And, I knew he did. He always did.

 

“She’s ready,” he told the others.

 

I tried my best not to scare them but Godric, did it hurt. I growled and whimpered biting hard into the cloth. James rushed over to help hold me in place as I twisted and thrashed. All the while, Sirius held my hand, and whispered soothing words to help me through it. I don’t think I would have managed if it hadn’t been for him.

 

“Okay, it’s done. You’re fine, Jo,” I let out a loud whimper when I heard Remus say that.

 

Sirius removed the cloth I had been biting and brushed my damp hair out of my face.

 

“I am so tired,” I said.

 

“Rest,” was all he replied. I didn’t even think to ask Remus if he was cool with me claiming his bed for the day. I simply passed out as I was.

 

I woke up to the sound of furious whispering. Then, I remembered I was in the boys’ room after they’d help me with my wounds. I opened my eyes and glanced around to find they had closed the bed curtains all around me, so I was completely out of sight. James and Sirius seemed to be arguing about something just outside.

 

“Someone has to wake her up, be reasonable Padfoot.”

 

“No. We wait for Red.”

 

“Lily is on patrol most of the afternoon. It’ll be hours before she comes back. She’s not even having dinner with us.”

 

“I said no.”

 

“She needs to eat something,” this voice was new, and it sounded like it belonged to Peter.

 

“She’ll wake up on her own.”

 

“Sirius, I swear to Godric if you don’t go in there and wake her up right this second, I will. Lily won’t mind, it’s not like I haven’t seen it before,” there was a strangled sound like someone was trying hard not to laugh.

 

Oh. I realized the problem quickly and had to stifle a laugh myself by burying my face in Remus’ pillow. I had fallen asleep without any top on.

 

“You are hilarious Prongs,” Sirius’ voice sounded angry and pained. I briefly wondered why he hadn’t replied he’d seen it all, too. Bragging about that sort of thing sounded like something Sirius would do, didn’t it?

 

“Go.wake.her.up!” I heard some noises that sounded suspiciously like dragging and wrestling, and then I had to pretend to be asleep as the curtains parted slightly.

 

“Jo?”

 

“Hmmm?” I opened an eye a little bit. Sirius was awkwardly standing as far away from the bed as he could. His eyes looking everywhere but at me.

 

“Hey, you’ve slept for most of the day. We think you should eat something,” he said.

 

I moved as if to sit up. “No! Wait, don’t move,” he popped his head out of the curtains.

 

“Here,” I heard James shout. A second later Sirius handed me my oversized T-shirt; eyes still averted.

 

“Thanks,” I smiled at him. “It’s okay, I’m dressed now.”

 

He glanced at me quickly, then visibly relaxed. Satisfied I was appropriately covered, he opened the curtains.

 

“Where’s Lily?” I asked.

 

“Patrol,” Peter said.

 

“What time is it?”

 

“It’s almost six. Dinner will start soon,” Peter explained. I nodded.

 

“I’m going to go change. Will meet you guys in the common room in fifteen,” I said before waving and leaving their room. “Thanks for the help.”

 

I was very glad the boys had insisted I had to eat. As soon as we sat at the table, I realized I was ravenous. I got them to catch me up on what I had missed while I was away, and they told me all about fooling around with Sirius’ bike (best gift ever), a very cool DADA lesson where Peter had managed an outstanding blasting curse, and some gossip involving Hardin and a fifth year Gryffindor girl called Amy.

 

“What about practice? What have I missed cap?”

 

“You are going to have to work extra time with Sirius to make sure we’re ready. The game is in two weeks,” he said. “As the tables currently stand, we need to win by 265 points or more. It’s not going to be easy but it’s not impossible.”

 

 “What are we waiting for, then?” I said grabbing Sirius’ hand and leading him out of the Great Hall. James followed us, of course.

 

Half an hour later we were out by the edge of the grounds with our brooms.

 

“There’s a couple of things I want to try,” I explained. “I got the idea during the raid against Dolohov. Someone sent a fireball my way and I backhanded it back to them with my wand. I know it’s hard, but I think we can practice backhand batting – they won’t be expecting it”

 

“I like that,” James approved.

 

“I also have an idea,” Sirius said. I looked at him and the look he was giving me made me nervous and a bit giddy. ‘Focus!’ I thought as he started explaining.

 

#

 

We walked back to the Gryffindor Tower feeling optimistic about the upcoming game. I couldn’t help but to notice Sirius glaring at James every so often and wondered what it was about. I had a small suspicion that he resented Prongs for not leaving us alone, but I was secretly glad he’d insisted on joining the practice. I hadn’t had time to decide what I wanted to do about Sirius and being left alone with him was always dangerous. It was getting harder and harder to play dumb with him.

 

When we arrived at the Common Room, Lily was on a couch curled up with a book.

 

“Lily Evans!” I yelled at her startling both James and Sirius.

 

“Oh, there you are,” she smiled.

 

“Don’t you ‘there you are me’. Up the stairs. Now!” I motioned to the girls’ staircase wildly. She got up.

 

“Do you know what this is about?” Sirius asked James.

 

“Oh yes, he does!” I said without turning around.

 

“I am so confused right now,” Sirius complained.

 

“He can explain,” I vaguely gestured towards James, then walked up the stairs behind Lily and shut the door to our room quickly behind me.

 

“Now, missy, you need to catch me up right now!” I demanded. Lily sat on her bed and looked at me with such joy on her face I felt like jumping and dancing around in celebration.

 

“Well… we… we did it?”

 

“No shit Sherlock. I got that much on my own, and it’s not a mental image I wanted to have. Thank you very much for that, by the way. We’re going to need a code of some sort so you can signal to me not to open the door if you’re at it in here,” I said waggling my eyebrows. “What I want to know is how it happened! I thought you wanted to wait?”

 

“I changed my mind. I love him, Jo, and while you were gone, I started thinking it’s going to be like this from now on. It’s going to be awful, you know. People going on missions, the rest not knowing when or if they’ll come back okay. And, I realized that I did not want to wake up one day to the news that something had happened to James and have to live the rest of my life with the regret. I don’t think we can afford to wait.”

 

“Woah, that’s intense,” I said, feeling slightly sick at the thought of how much danger my friends were in. “But I agree there’s no point denying yourself the happiness James brings you. I am so glad for you. I also still want details… how was it?” I wiggled my eyebrows at her.

 

“I find this slightly strange” she said.

 

“Oh, come on! Don’t get all prissy with me”

 

“Fine, fine. It was amazing” she said.

 

“You can thank me with a new box of Honeydunke’s chocolates,” I said, taking a bow. She laughed very hard.

 

“Enough, enough of that. I love you, but I’m not past a jealous fit if I think about you and James like that,” she said. She was still smiling, though, so I didn’t think it was really a concern. I hoped it wasn’t. It shouldn’t be.

 

“You know I’m only joking,” I said, grinning at her. “I’m very happy for you”

 

“Well, that’s not all,” she said, beaming at me. “Jo, we’re engaged”

 

“OH MY GOD! Finally! I’m not kidding you; I’ve been waiting for this since Easter. I thought he’d never do it” at this, I did start jumping up and down and dancing maniacally around the room.

 

“Jo… you look like a lunatic,” she pointed out.

 

“I can’t help it. The world out there sucks, Lily. We have to live for these little moments of joy,” I said.

 

“You know what? I think you’re right,” she said, joining me in a silly victory dance around the room. A few minutes later we fell on a bed in a fit of giggles.

 

“I wish Alice was here. She’d make the most efficient bridesmaid,” Lily said.

 

“She would,” I agreed.


“I’m naming you my maid of honor, by the way. And, I know for a fact Sirius is going to be James’ best man,” she turned to look at me. “I think you need to talk to him, Jo. I think he has feelings for you.”

 

I didn’t reply for a little while. I sat on the bed, staring at the ceiling and contemplating my predicament. I was confused, and more than a little torn about what do when it came to Sirius. Easter had been filled with small moments where I was sure he was going to kiss me, and I kept panicking and ruining it on purpose. Then, as soon as I’d successfully wrecked the moment, I’d regret it intensely. Over, and over, and over again. Apparently, my capacity for self-sabotage knew no limits.

 

“I’m just… I don’t know how. We work so well as friends,” I muttered, eventually.

 

“You don’t want to be friends with him, Jo. I see the way you look at him. We all do, except Sirius because he’s too busy looking at you the same way”

 

“What if it’s just... you know, temporary? What if he gets bored after a little while? I’m so scared he only wants me because I keep refusing him, Lils. If I give in to this… thing between us and he ditches me… I couldn’t bear it,” I said.

 

“There are no guarantees in love, Jo. We all risk getting hurt. Sometimes you jut have to trust the other person and go for it. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work and it’ll suck, but what if it does?” her eyes shone a little at that, and I felt a pang of jealousy. It was easy for her to say it, there was no doubt at all whatsoever about James’ devotion to her. I was going to protest, but she continued talking.

 

“How can you be so brave when it comes to diving head straight towards the ground to win a quidditch match or fighting four Death Eaters at once all on your own but are so scared of this?”

 

“I have little regard for my physical safety,” I replied. “My emotional wellbeing, however, needs a lot more protecting”

 

“Jo, what if next time you’re out on a mission you don’t make it back? Or, what if he doesn’t come back from one of his?” Lily said softly.

 

I felt as if the wind had been knocked out of me. I remembered, not for the first time, that I’d never been more terrified in my entire life than when I’d woken up to find Sirius was fighting for his life in St. Mungo’s. I remembered the way my soul ached for him when I helped James carry him through the passage after a full moon. I knew Lily was right. I just needed to find the courage to do something about it.

 

“I… I know you are right. I don’t think I’d ever forgive myself if I didn’t try,” I said. “I am just so scared…”

 

“Alice would be so proud. You’re keeping your promise to her,” she encouraged me.

 

“I’m going to need some time to build up the courage,” I said. Lily nodded, looking oddly like a proud parent. “Alice, if you’re there somewhere and you can hear me, please don’t let him break my heart,” I whispered. Lily gave me a hug and we stayed there for a while.

 

#

 

The following two weeks were all about quidditch. I spent every free second training with the full team or just with Sirius. Lily had even agreed to helping with some of our schoolwork so we could spend extra time practicing. I had congratulated James on his persuasion skills, Lily never did anyone’s homework for them, no matter how much Alice and I had begged her in the past.

 

It wasn’t just that I wanted to redeem myself for the disaster against Hufflepuff, it was that most of the team was graduating this year. For most of us, this was going to be the last quidditch game for a very, very long time. I knew Cal had dreams of becoming a professional, but with the war raging around us he had already submitted an application to get into auror training. Most of the students in our year had.

 

Most of our beater practices with Sirius were deliciously painful. He hadn’t given up and tried every tactic at his disposal to trick me into a kiss. I, however, didn’t feel ready yet. I always almost gave in, then chickened out last minute. I knew I was just being a coward, but it was just so damn hard.

 

The day of the game I woke up early and went through a routine of exercises to get my body ready for the big match.


“What on earth are you doing?” I heard Lily ask from her bed.

 

“It’s called downward dog. It’s a yoga pose, you should try it.”

 

“What’s it for?”

 

“Just a good stretch,” I said, flowing into Warrior two.

 

“Do you think you could teach me sometime? I do think James would appreciate it if I could do tha,t” she said as I got all the way into a split.

 

“Who are you and what have you done with Lily Evans?” I joked. She started giggling.

 

“I’m almost done, just a few more minutes,” she nodded and got up, readying herself. I finished my practice and changed into my quidditch kit.

 

“How are you feeling?” Lily asked as we walked out of our room.

 

“I am a bit nervous. And also, a bit sad. It’s our last game” I pouted.

 

“I hope you win. James gets into such a state over quidditch,” she said as we arrived in the common room.

 

I was surprised to see lots of banners and flags set up all over and a small crowd of students waiting there. The fourth year who had intervened during my glorious break up with Christian stepped forward. ‘I really should learn her name’ I thought.

 

“We wanted to say good luck. We think you’re awesome, and I’m going to be trying for beater next year because of you,” she gave me a little card with about a million small signatures on it that said ‘You’re the MVP’. “We hope we win, but even if we don’t, we think you’re the coolest, Jocelyn.”

 

“I… I… thank you. Just make sure you cheer louder than Ravenclaw, yes? We’re going all in today, and it helps when we can hear you supporting us,” I told them.

 

“Bring it home, Jocelyn!” a few kids shouted. I grinned at them and walked out of the common room with Lily.

 

“I think it’d be super cool if more girls became beaters thanks to you,” she said right before I waved goodbye and headed to the changing rooms.

 

I walked in to find the entire team was there already. They nodded solemnly at me.

 

“Everyone ready?” James was bricking it. I could tell as soon as I took a look at him.

 

“Hey, cap, relax. We got this,” I said, putting my hand on his arm. I gave him a quick squeeze then went to stand next to Sirius. He had his game face on.

 

“Ah, there you are. Okay, we’re all here. Remember, we need to win by 265 points.”

 

“Yes, Cal, don’t catch the snitch unless we’ve got 120 points on Ravenclaw,” Sirius said.

 

“What if the other seeker finds it?”

 

“You make sure Jo and I know, and we’ll take care of it,” he said. Cal nodded.

 

“I think you should try to get her out of play,” I said. Cal and Matt looked at me with a look that told me they found me slightly scary and a bit sadistic, but I didn’t really care. “Rita is new to quidditch. She’s got good reflexes, but this is her first year on the team. You have a good chance of taking her out with a Wronski Feint.”

 

“I’ve never done it for real, though. Only in practice,” he said.

 

“Well, we’ve got some tricks up our sleeve but if you feel confident you should go for it. They’re counting on us; we can’t let Gryffindor down”

 

We walked out on to the pitch with the team and prepared for the game to start. Sirius and I exchanged a look that conveyed all the trust we had in each other. I knew what he was telling me: ‘I got you’. And I hoped he knew I was telling him I had his back, too.

 

The game began and we all soared high up in the air. Sirius and I did a first quick lap, sending bludgers towards Ranvenclaw players to make it hard for them to get into formation. Then, the real action began. Everyone was giving it all they had. Our chasers flew faster than I had ever seen him, scoring goal after goal, and Matt, our Keeper, was on a roll. But we couldn’t get cocky, Ravenclaw was a strong team and currently favorites to win the cup.

 

I performed a Sloth Grip Roll to avoid a furious bludger and heard Sirius smash it back towards the opposite beater. I flew towards him and he got ready for our first maneuver. Flying together in perfect sync, we did a dopplebeater defence, smashing the same bludger at the same time and sending it hurtling towards a Ravenclaw chaser.

 

“K.O.” I shouted as she fell off her broom. Sirius and I high fived in the air and went back to the game.

 

It continued on for quite a while. We were winning, but never by enough points for Cal to actively look for the snitch. He just flew close to Rita, the other seeker, to keep an eye on her, waiting for the right time. He hadn’t done the Feint yet. Sirius and I had managed to injure one of the opposite beaters, but he was still in play.

 

“This is bullshit, we need to clear a path for James to score more goals or it’s never going to end,” I shouted at Sirius as he flew close to me. He nodded.

 

I saw him head straight for a bludger and send it towards me before going after the second one. ‘Brilliant’ I thought. Just like we had done before, we started passing the bludgers between us. We had practiced this with James a million times so that he knew where to fly to avoid them, being the only player who could cross the invisible barrier the bludgers made.

 

Our little trick got us 110 points up. We only needed one more goal, then Cal could catch the snitch. If he found it, that is. We had to break our little ‘pass-the-bludger’ game as the two Ravenclaw beaters came at us with viciousness.

 

Sirius had made me promise him I would not recklessly risk breaking any bones this game, so I had to pull away and let the balls fly off on their own. Just as I was twirling upwards, I heard a roar and noticed our fourth-year chaser had scored a goal.

 

I immediately flew straight for Cal. I had one mission, and one mission only, and it was to protect Cal from fouls so he could find the snitch. If we got it, we’d win the game and the cup. The Ravenclaw beaters brought hell down on us, but I kept them at bay giving Cal space to search for the snitch. Sirius was busy fouling the blue chasers so they wouldn’t score and reduce the difference in points. James scored yet another goal just as I saw Rita, flying below me, dive really fast.

 

“CAL! RITA,” I shouted. He realized it at the same time I did. She had seen the snitch, and she was a lot closer to it than Cal was.

 

‘FUCK’ I thought.

 

And then, because I was Jocelyn Silverway, I was probably insane, and I was absolutely not about to let everyone down, I let go of my broom and free-dove straight towards the unsuspecting girl.

 

As I plummeted, I hoped this worked. I really, really, really, hoped this worked. I was probably dead if it didn’t.

 

Someone shouted at Rita to watch out and she looked over her shoulder to find me dangerously close to crashing her. Just as I had expected, she didn’t want to win badly enough and immediately stopped her pursuit of the snitch to get out of the way and to safety.

 

Cal flew after me, trying to decide whether to try and catch me or go after the little golden ball. I could hear him shouting at me that I was insane, and that I was going to die, and something like the cup wasn’t worth my life. I ignored him, partly because I was feeling nauseous, partly because it was time for our final master trick.

 

With a quick prayer to Merlin, I lifted my right arm up and braced myself.

 

And then, just like we had practiced, a meter before I crashed, Sirius grabbed my arm firmly and halted my fall, flying upwards in a graceful arch and carrying me away with him.

 

“BLACK CATCHES SILVERWAY… OH GODRIC DID YOU GUYS SEE THAT?! HOW CRAZY ARE THOSE TWO? MY HEART IS BEATING SO FA… YES, YES, YEEEEEEES LOOK AT THAT… GRYFFINDOR CATCHES THE SNITCH!!! THE GAME IS OVER!!! GRYFFINDOR WINS BY 270 POINTS!!! THAT WAS MENTAL YOU GUYS, OH MY GOD, I ALMOST HAD A HEART ATTACK, THE GRYFFINDOR BEATERS DID IT AGAIN!”

 

The crowd roared like a wild beast. The commentator keep shouting, sounding like he was losing it. I felt euphoric, dangling in the air and beaming.  

 

Sirius pulled me up (those arms don’t just look good, let me tell you) and I hooked my leg on his broom, climbing in front of him and turning around to face him. He shook his head lightly, a smile tugging at the corners of his beautiful mouth.

 

“You…”

 

“Are crazy, yes, yes, I know, who cares!” I beamed at him. “We won, Sirius. We won the cup! I jumped, and you caught me!”

 

“I told you. I got you. Always,” he said laughing.

 

And without thinking, without planning it, without worrying that he might break my heart someday, I kissed him. Twenty feet up in the air, surrounded by the entire school screaming at the top of their lungs, I kissed him.

 

It was the most terrifying thing I had ever done.

 

It was also, possibly, the most wonderful moment of my entire life.

 

He wasted not a single second and kissed me back so enthusiastically that I felt his broom wobble, forcing us to break apart.

 

“DID EVERYONE SEE THAT?” the commentator exploded. “THAT, MY BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE, IS TRUE LOVE! I KNEW IT! I KNEW IT! EVERYONE KNEW IT! WHAT A COUPLE!” he kept shouting. The crowd was wild, and the noise pretty much deafening.

 

“Oh crap,” I rolled my eyes and shook my head, still holding on to him. He started laughing. 

 

“If I wasn’t engaged to another, I’d kiss you right now, too,” James arrived, flying on his broom and waving his arms around, pointing at me, then at Sirius, then at me again, and so forth like he was possessed by a dancing spirit. “BOTH OF YOU! I love you! That was amazing! That is what I call commitment!”

 

“Lily is so going to kill you for that crazy dive!” Matt joined us, followed closely by the rest of the team.

 

“About time you idiots got together!” shouted Cal, still gripping the snitch and beaming proudly.

 

“Victory lap!” the fourth-year chaser chanted.

 

“Here’s your broom, you absolute lunatic,” Matt offered it to me. How he’d gotten hold of it, I didn’t know.

 

“Thanks, Matt,” I grinned and jumped on it. Then, we went on the victory lap the kid had suggested. We flew around the pitch waving and celebrating with the crowd.

 

We landed shortly after that and I was greeted by a very flustered Lily. She was shouting ‘die’, ‘heart attack’, ‘insane’ and ‘kill you’ at high speed and high volume, but I didn’t get a chance to reply because as soon as Sirius’ feet touched the ground he let go of his broom, scooped me up in his arms, and kissed me again.

 

I wove my hands into his hair, deepening the kiss. How I had survived months without this, I had no idea.  

 

This time, our team members wolf-whistled and there was an outbreak of nervous giggling from the younger kids who had rushed to the ground to greet us. It was then followed by general applause and cheering. We broke apart sooner than I would have liked, but the crowd was making it rather awkward. And we had to get the cup from McGonagall.

 

The common room gave us a standing ovation as all seven of us walked in. James carried the cup and hoisted it up in the air. I swear to Godric there were tears in his eyes. Lily had apparently forgiven me for ‘recklessly plunging to my certain death’ and was clapping and shouting with the rest of the Gryffindors. Remus was jumping up and down on a sofa with Peter brandishing a red and golden flag.

 

“Do you think they’d notice if we sneaked away?” Sirius asked me.

 

“Probably. Do you care?”

 

“Nope,” so we sneaked out through the portrait before anyone could try to stop us.



Chapter 30: Let it burn
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Sirius’ POV

 

I felt like I could take on the whole world and win as Jocelyn and I walked away from the common room. She had kissed me. She had kissed me in front of the entire school. Twice.

 

“Let’s go to the lake,” she said.

 

“The lake? You’re not going to feed me to the giant squid, are you?” I joked.

 

“Hmm…” she pretended to think about it before beaming at me. “I want to go where I first saw you transform. It seems fitting.”

 

“I thought you liked the Room of Requirements?” I didn’t particularly care and had already started walking towards the Entrance Hall, but I was curious.

 

“I do. But I used to spend a lot of time with James in there,” she shrugged.

 

“Ah”

 

We walked in comfortable silence for a while. Jocelyn was probably the only person in the world besides James that made me feel this at ease. Any other girl would make this walk awkward, but not her. Any other girl would have made a big deal over the changing room episode, but not her. Any other girl would have made a huge drama out of my idiotic stunt when she’d stumbled drunk in the common room, but not Jocelyn.

 

Jocelyn was everything I never knew I wanted in a girl, and if I didn’t mess this up, I had a good shot at being with her for real. I half expected the idea of it to make me nervous, or scared. I had rebelled against the prospect of committing to a relationship for so long that I wasn’t even sure I could do it. What if I messed it up completely? But as I watched her walk calmly next to me, guiding me to the spot where she had learnt our biggest secret, I knew that it was exactly what I wanted.

 

She plopped herself on the grass unceremoniously and motioned for me to join her. I sat with my back to the nearest tree and she shuffled closer to me. It was then I noticed Jo was nervous. I marveled at the fact that I could made our fierce Jocelyn nervous for a moment, basking in the giddy feeling of it.  

 

“So, what made you change your mind?” I asked her eventually.

 

“What?”

 

“I’m not an idiot, you know. You have been blocking all my moves for over a month,” I told her.  

 

“Maybe your moves aren’t as good as you think they are,” she teased.

 

“Ouch,” I put a hand to my heart dramatically. She laughed.

 

“I don’t know what made me change my mind,” she said after a little while.

 

“But it has? Or did you just get caught up in the moment?” I was afraid this would turn into another ‘changing room’ thing and she’d pretend it never happened, no matter how absurd that was with close to 300 people as witnesses.

 

“I’m worried you’re going to hurt me,” she said softly.  

 

“Everyone is afraid of that, Jo.”

 

“Are you?”

 

“I am freaking terrified. I’ve never felt this way before, about anyone. I never even cared before,” I said. “With all the other girls it was just… something to do. Sure, they were pretty, and it was fun, but it didn’t matter who it was. Not until I realized I wanted it to be you every time.

 

I have been afraid for ages because of the things I felt every time you were around. And for the longest time I didn’t know what to do with it or what it meant.”

 

“How long?” she asked me, her eyes wide with surprise.

 

“I think I’ve always been a little bit in love with you, but I only started to realize it the day you helped James carry me through that passage. Do you remember it?”

 

She nodded. “You… you noticed I called you by your name. You were in a world of fucking pain and still noticed I called you Sirius.”

 

“After that, it took me a while to piece it together, but I couldn’t deny it. It tried to fight it because you were with James and I felt like the biggest traitor. And then, you weren’t with James and it was even worse because you could be with anyone but me and it was killing me. And, Alice died and you wanted me to help you, to take you away, and I didn’t know what to do with myself because I was sure everyone could see how I felt, I though it was obvious to everyone and I was so worried I’d hurt James” the words were pouring out of my mouth like I had verbal diarrhea but I couldn’t stop it.

 

Jocelyn watched me intently, clinging to everything I said with glittering eyes and the cutest expression of surprise on her face. In all honesty, I didn’t really want to stop talking if she’d keep looking at me like that.

 

“When you showed up at King’s Cross with all that swagger, I almost passed out cold. I wanted to punch every single guy staring at you like you were prey, but I couldn’t because it was my worst secret and I had to pretend like I didn’t care. I wanted to throttle fucking Hardin to death because he got what I wanted, and he got it so easily. I tried to tell myself it was a good thing, maybe I’d forget about you and everything would be fine but then you… you started getting jealous of Fiorella. And I was a dickhead and used that against you because you were hurting me, and I wanted to make you feel something, anything, even if it was bad.”

 

“I didn’t even know I was jealous. How did you?”

 

“Lily may have pointed it out to me,” I said sheepishly. She chuckled.  

 

“Lily has known this whole time?”

 

“She has. She figured it out after the Hufflepuff game crash and well, you know how she is, there was no point denying it when she confronted me about it,” I shrugged. Jo beamed, as if she was proud of how stubborn her red-haired friend could be.


“Did she tell James?”

 

“No, I did. It was shortly after my birthday, we’ll talk about that in a second, by the way, you little devil! I told James the day when I carried you out of the changing room and to Gryffindor Tower. He was waiting for me when I got to our room and he knew. Somehow, he knew, and he made me confess. He was cool with it, he had always been, he just was hurt I hadn’t trusted him enough to tell him the truth.”

 

“So, basically, everyone knew something was going on but me,” she rolled her eyes.

 

“You were dating Hardin!” I reminded her.

 

“And you were shagging Fettuccini!”

 

“Come again?”

 

“The Ravenclaw wench,” she said viciously. I laughed. I had no idea Jo could be petty. I guess it is true hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

 

“I was only doing that because it was driving me insane to see you with Hardin”

 

“I understand that. I still refuse to say her name or show any civil behavior towards her,” she insisted.

 

“You don’t have to,” I said. “I couldn’t care less about her.”

 

“Now you’re talking,” she nodded happily.

 

“But you aren’t,” I pointed out. “I’ve practically told you a soap opera, but you still haven’t told me anything.”

 

“I don’t get why you didn’t say anything if you felt this strongly… I thought, I mean, I knew you liked me. Your birthday confirmed my suspicions, but I had no idea you… well… felt this way,” she blushed.

 

“At first I thought you didn’t like me, and my ego couldn’t take being rejected,” I shrugged. “Then, you stopped seeing Hardin after he was a dick in the Three Broomsticks, and I thought maybe I was wrong, and my reluctance had nothing to do with ego. I got you the necklace then, and I planned to tell you on New Year’s Eve.”

 

“And then Christian happened,” she said.

 

“Yeah, that happened, and it drove me to insanity. I developed freaking anger management issues. I kept punching walls in mad outbursts of rage. It got bad, it got to the point Remus had to learn to knit my knuckles back together because Poppy was getting into a state that I showed up every other day with a busted hand,” her eyes popped out of her face comically at this revelation.

 

“I’m sorry,” she whispered. “I have worn it every day, though. If you must know”

 

“What?”

 

“The rose necklace. I’ve worn it every day since you gave it to me. I wear it to bed, because I couldn’t wear it during the day when I was with Christian and then I didn’t know how you’d take it if I started wearing it like nothing had happened.”

 

“Come here, you’re sitting too far away,” I scooped her up and sat her on my lap, putting my arms around her. “You don’t have to apologize for my anger.”

 

She ignored me. “I didn’t know. How could I not know? I didn’t notice it. I thought you were angry like the others were. I even thought you were still with Farfalle. I saw you on a day we were supposed to have beater practice,” she said. I had no idea she’d seen us, and I felt like a huge dick about it. It was obvious it had hurt her.

 

“I didn’t know you were with him for the Order. I thought you’d turned bitch. I needed to keep myself distracted somehow or I would lose it completely,” I sighed. “Look, it’s not an excuse, but it was a shit time and I had no idea about anything.”

 

“I don’t hold it against you. So long as you never speak to her again,” she said frowning.

 

“That I can do,” I smiled at her. She smiled at me, too.

 

“Right, and then obviously you found out the real reason I was with Christian,” she said.

 

“Oooh, so that’s how it is? You’re just going to gloss over the changing room episode?” I teased her. She rolled her eyes.

 

“What is there to say? We had a fight, and we got carried away, and… well, you were there. I don’t have to tell you what happened,” she blushed crimson and I had to bite back a loud chuckle.

 

“I’m just teasing you. I know what happened. Trust me, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it,” I said, waggling my eyebrows at her. She smiled a little shy smile.

 

“I like that,” she said.

 

“I like you,” I took her hand in mine and interlaced our fingers. “You don’t have to explain yourself if you don’t want to, but I just want to know how you feel. What do you want?”

 

She took a deep breath before replying. “All I ever wanted was to find someone who could make me feel like I want to catch on fire. And that day, in the changing room, you set me ablaze, Sirius. I have been terrified since because you have this power over me, you could break me if you wanted to. But today I jumped off my freaking broom and even though I was plunging towards the ground I wasn’t afraid because I knew you’d catch me. And you did.”

 

“Jo…”

 

“Let me finish,” she insisted. I nodded. “I know you don’t do the whole relationship thing, and I am not sure if I’m okay with that, but I can try. I can try because how can I trust you to catch me if I leap off a broom 30 meters high in the air and not trust you with…”

 

I knew she’d probably be annoyed that I interrupted her and didn’t let her finish, but I didn’t need to hear anymore. I kissed her, cutting her off mid-sentence and after a confused second, she kissed me back.

 

I had never thought about it the way she’d described it but as she climbed on top of me and straddled me, deepening the kiss and burying her hands in my hair, I knew exactly what she meant because I felt like I was catching fire. Every inch of me wanted to melt at her touch, I wanted to consume her, to make her forget she’d ever been anyone else’s but mine. Because I didn’t ever want to even remember that I could be anything other than hers.

 

Jocelyn’s POV

 

He kissed me in the middle of my speech, and I didn’t know if that was good or bad, but as soon as his lips were on mine, I couldn’t do anything but surrender. I pulled him closer to me, but it wasn’t enough. I hooked my legs around his waist and buried my hands in his hair and pulled him closer, closer. He groaned softly, low in his throat, and then his arms were circling me, gathering me to him and we were on the grass lying down, and he was on top of me, still kissing.

 

And just like it was last time, I was burning. I was burning and so was the world. It felt as if the heavens had cracked open and lighting was striking around us, but it wasn’t – it was his hands running wild over my skin, erasing any memory of ever having been touched before.

 

He stopped all of a sudden and gently but firmly lifted himself on his arms, so he was hovering over me.

 

“If we don’t stop now, I won’t be able to at all,” he said.

 

“How bad would it be?” I asked him breathlessly.

 

“Very, very bad,” he rolled off me and I felt his absence like being cold outside on a winter night.

 

I sighed and sat, picking grass and sticks out of my hair. “I can’t believe you are being the reasonable one,” I protested.

 

“I am currently very angry with myself,” he joked. I smiled at him. “Jo, I want to be with you. For real, the right way. I’m sorry I interrupted you, but I need you to understand that it doesn’t matter what I said, or did, or thought before you. All that matters to me is after, and after is with you. For real”

 

“Is that your way of asking me to be your girlfriend?” fireworks exploded in my brain, in my chest, in my gut. I felt a wave of happiness so pure and strong it made me dizzy.

 

“If you’ll have me,” he said.

 

“I think I will, Sirius Black.”

 

#

 

We walked back to the common room talking about little things like how I thought he was Moony because of his silver-grey eyes or how he’s picked up on my lip-biting habit when I’m nervous.

 

“There’s going to be a lot of eye-rolling,” I warned him as we approached the Fat Lady. “James and Lily are going to be so smug about this.”

 

“Not just Lily and James,” he said, smiling at me. And he was right. Even the freaking Fat Lady had a knowing smile on her lips as he said the password and she swung open.

 

The celebration was still going. I realized with a jolt I had absolutely no idea how long we’d been gone for. It could have been an hour – or five, or possibly an entire week – but it didn’t really matter.


“There you are!” and I was being pulled away from Sirius, and a glass full of what I assumed was firewhiskey was given to me. My little fan-club gathered around me and all I could hear was “Tell us what you were thinking when you jumped off your broom!” so I did.

 

James’ POV

 

Out of the corner of my eyes I saw Sirius and Jo escape the common room. They came back about two hours later. The party was in full swing, music was playing, people were drinking, and it was just all general merriment and celebration. Even Lily was tipsy. Jocelyn was kidnapped by her army of minions and I descended upon Padfoot.

 

“Well…?” I said, a knowing smile playing on my lips.

 

“Well what? I didn’t give you grief when you got Red to finally agree to go out with you, I expect the same in return,” he said, walking towards the bar. I followed him trying really hard not to laugh.

 

“I didn’t snog Lily in front of the entire school after an impressive display of insanity and suicidal tendencies,” I replied.

 

“She’s not suicidal or insane. She knew I’d catch her.”

 

“YOU KNEW SHE WAS GOING TO DO SOMETHING LIKE THAT AND LET HER?” oooh, Sirius is in so much trouble. My gorgeous fiancée materialized next to my best friend and, rather violently, pointed a finger at him and started poking him in the chest. “WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH YOU TWO? DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW SCARED I WAS?”

 

“Calm down, Red. No one got hurt. We had to go out in style.”

 

“Why didn’t you leap out of your broom, then?”

 

“Jo is stronger than she looks, but I’m around 6 stones heavier than she is. You really cannot expect her to be able to pull me up, can you?” he had a point. I had to admit he had a very good point. Lily saw it too. She deflated slightly.

 

“I am so glad quidditch is over for you guys. You are absolutely insane,” she sentenced.

 

“Here, have a drink. It’ll make you feel better,” Sirius said, offering her a glass. She took it.

 

“So, Lily, Padfoot was about to tell me about their blossoming romance,” I prodded. She smiled mischievously.

 

“After almost two years of listening to you pine for her, I deserve to know,” she demanded.

 

“Deserve to know what exactly?” he asked.

 

“Well, how did it go?”

 

“What part?” he was playing dumb on purpose. It was hilarious. I hadn’t seen Sirius this uncomfortable since he’d called my mother ‘mum’ by accident in fifth year during a summer visit.

 

“Sirius Black, did you or did you not tell her how you feel and what happened after?”

 

“I did. We kissed,” he said. I could see a smile playing on his lips even though he was trying hard to hide it.

 

“Yeah, everyone knows you kissed, mate. I think there are some Hufflepuff girls making ‘Sirius heart Jocelyn’ banners. Rumor has it they’ve been shipping you hard even when she was my girlfriend,” I said. “Should I be offended by that? What do you think, Lily?”

 

She laughed.

 

“What’s so funny?” Jo joined our little meeting by the bar.

 

“Nothing,” and to my absolute delight, Sirius took her hand and pulled her in towards him. She just stayed there, leaning against him with an arm loosely around his waist and casually sipping her firewhiskey with the other hand.

 

“So, you guys are official,” I said. I thought this day would never come.

 

That night, Lily came to stay with me in the marauder’s room because, and I quote what she said to Jocelyn: ‘Alice would kill me if I didn’t give you space for fireworks’. I had absolutely no clue what she was on about, but Jocelyn did, and apparently so did Sirius. When the party finally died down and everyone was gone, we congratulated our friends again and headed to our room and Sirius walked up the girls’ stairs in his dog form.

 

Jocelyn’s POV

 

With the quidditch cup over, there was very little to distract us from the fact that we had to pass out N.E.W.T.s in order to graduate. I had no doubt we all would, but we still had to study and hand in assignments, which was hard when all I wanted to do was make out with Sirius in a secluded corner or another. It didn’t help at all that he seemed to think the N.E.W.T.s were pointless and so did everything possible to distract me from studying, including playing with the rose necklace I didn’t take off anymore. The only thing that kept him in check was Lily’s wrath.

 

We were still meeting regularly and training with the Order, but we had been told we’d not go on any missions (not even me) until after graduation. Getting us out of school was hard and there was no point going through all the fuss when we’d be getting plenty to do very soon.

 

We were sitting by the lake on a blanket surrounded by a pile of books and parchments when the marauders found us. Lily made a distressed sound and I rolled my eyes at her.

 

“We’ve been here for hours, surely we deserve a break!” I said springing up to my feet and running towards Sirius.

 

He caught me swiftly as I jumped and hooked my legs around him.

 

“Hello handsome”

 

We sat on the blanket again. Lily was no longer protesting now that James had his arms around her.

 

“How’s studying going?” asked Remus

 

“I refuse to answer that question on the basis that we’re taking a break and breaks are sacred and I need to not discuss N.E.W.T.s for a while in order to protect my own sanity,” I replied to a general chorus of laughter.

 

“Fair enough,” he said putting his hands in the air in mock surrender. “How’s the giant squid then?”

 

“Haven’t seen him today. I think he’s scared Lily will ask him out,” I joked.

 

“I’m sure he’d say yes,” James chimed in. Lily kissed him.

 

Sirius nuzzled my neck with his nose, giving me goosebumps. We stayed like this for a while, chatting about superfluous things like the latest prank they’d pulled (which included confounding the owls as they delivered mail this morning, not a pretty sight if you ask me) and how whipped Hardin was by the fifth year he was dating (it was hilarious).

 

“Do you think she’ll let you get away? You’ve been studying for hours,” he whispered to me.

 

“If James keeps that up she won’t even notice,” I wiggled my eyebrows at him and then in the direction of my redhead friend who was currently snogging her fiancé.

 

We stood up and he helped me pack my books into a bag.

 

“At the risk of sounding like a perv I’m going to ask, where exactly are you going and what are you doing?” Remus said. Peter looked like he might pass out from embarrassment.

 

“Moony, you need a girlfriend,” Sirius teased.

 

“No, what I need is to not walk in on you two ever again in my life. I am mentally scarred enough as it is, thank you very much,” he shivered. Sirius smiled proudly.

 

“We’ll stay out of your way, promise. Just don’t visit the room of requirements and you’ll be fine,” he said, taking my hand and saluting our friends before leading my back to the castle.

 

#

 

The month of May went by in a happy haze of studying, sneaking away from Lily to spend time alone together with Sirius and reminiscing of our best times at Hogwarts, and then before I knew it, we had N.E.W.T.s the next day. These had been the best two months of my entire life. To my surprise and joy, Sirius was indeed a very, very good boyfriend. We just clicked. I suppose that’s the beauty of falling in love with someone who’s been your best friend and partner in crime for so long. Because I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that that’s what it was.

 

I was irrevocably, irreparably, irrefutably in love with Sirius Black.

 

“I can’t believe we’re graduating in a week,” said Peter the afternoon before exams started.

 

“I’m going to miss this place,” Remus said.

 

“There’s nowhere quite like it,” I agreed. From my very comfortable seat between Sirius’ legs, I felt him sigh.

 

“What are the marauders going to do without anywhere to maraud?” he said.

 

“I think there’ll be plenty of marauding to do for the Order,” James added helpfully.

 

“What are you going to do with the map?” I asked, remembering I hadn’t seen it for a while.

 

“Filch confiscated it,” said Remus with a glint of humor in his eyes.

 

“You let Filch confiscate the map?”

 

“Someone will come along that will be skilled in magical mischief-making enough to steal it from his office. They’ll know what to do with it,” James grinned.

 

“How?”

 

“It’ll give them little clues,” was all Peter said.

 

#

 

True to their name, the N.E.W.T.s were nastily exhausting. However, having been trained by the Order for over six months in my case and three in my friends’ we passed with flying colors.

 

“This is making me very depressed,” said Lily as we packed our stuff. We had the graduation ceremony later that day, and we would be leaving straight after.

 

“I know what you mean,” I groaned. “Look at all this crap! Why do I have so much crap?”

 

“Not as much as I do. Who needs this many hair products? Seriously.”

 

“You know what, he probably does. He’s got awesome hair,” I joked. She collapsed on top of her trunk in a fit of giggles.

 

“Any other girl would be insecure her boyfriend might have better hair than her. Obviously, not you. Merlin blessed you with a mane fit for a lion. A lion made of chocolate, I think”

 

“I could eat some chocolate. Remus is right, it always makes things better,” I sighed, waving my wand around and making my things organize themselves inside my trunk.

 

“If we’re quick, we can go visit the boys. I’m sure they could use our help with packing”

 

So that’s what we did. We finished our packing, adjusted our graduation robes and went to the marauders’ room. We walked in on them doing some sort of strange ritual that involved spitting on their hands and doing weird looking handshakes.

 

“I do not want to know,” Lily said, sitting on James’ bed then immediately jumping up. “James Potter, have you not started packing yet?”

 

“Erhm… yes?” he tried.

 

“He is in so much trouble,” whispered Sirius in my ear. He had gotten into the habit of sneaking up on me and hugging me from behind. I loved it; it gave me goose bumps.

 

“And you aren’t?” I asked, turning around in his arms and looking up at him. He smiled devilishly at me.

 

“Am I?” he knew full well I couldn’t even pretend to be angry at him when he did that, so I didn’t even try. I went on my tiptoes to give him a kiss instead.

 

“Please, pack before you give Lily a heart attack,” I told him when we broke the kiss.

 

I sat on his bed and watched as Lily shrieked and waved her wand, helping the boys pack their extremely messy room. James had to retri