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The next couple of days flew by for the students of Hogwarts, with holidays ending far sooner then everyone would have liked and classes not respecting the “no homework first day back” rule that students everywhere believe in. Potions was no different, and for a double before dinner on Tuesday, the Marauders sat in the dungeon working on the polyjuice potion. James had paired up with Sirius as per usual, and were nearly finished their potion – so far it had changed through all the right colors, purple, red, then into yellow then green – however had never lost its gloopy consistency. Next to them were Remus and Peter, who were also nearly finished. One of the inconsistencies in the Marauders life was that Peter was a brilliant Potions student. He struggled in almost every subject, apart from Potions, which endeared him to the teacher. However despite being good at Potions, James and Sirius never managed to get the teacher to like them. That was why James and Sirius always paired up with each other, and Remus – who wasn’t a natural Potions maker like Peter, paired up with Peter during class. “You have ten minutes left to hand in your potions” said Professor Mullip. “As I do not want a hundred James Potter’s running around – I will be testing these myself!” “When will we get the results?” asked Susan from her work-bench. “Well since we have been doing this for so long” said the professor snappily, “I hope very quickly!” This shut everybody in the class room up and sent them back to their potions. However the four Marauders quietly moved up the front and deposited their potion flasks on the teacher’s desk and moved back to their desks. “Once you have finished” she said, looking directly at James, “You may leave!” With that the four packed up their bags and headed out, casting occasional glances back at the students who had not yet finished. “I swear – another year and a half of that – Auror training better be worth it!” said Sirius grumpily. “It will – don’t worry!” said Peter. “Oh you can’t talk!” replied Sirius hotly, “You’re good at potions, you enjoy it!” “So what if I enjoy it!” said Peter defensively. “Just because I’m good at something…” Peter trailed off at the look he was receiving from Sirius. “Cheer up Sirius” said Remus from beside him, “We’ve got our first Valentines Ball meeting tonight!” Sirius groaned loudly. “Why’d you have to make it so late?” asked James, already knowing the answer. “Because four of the six involved in planning have to patrol tonight – and two of them have to patrol till ten!” replied Remus. “Don’t blame me – blame Dumbledore!” “I will!” said James, crossing his arms in mock protest. Later that day, James, Sirius, Remus, Lily, Susan and Amanda all gathered in the Gryffindor common room. Everybody else had gone to bed or were heading there now, so they had the room to themselves. “Well – welcome to the first official Hogwarts Valentines Ball-“ Lily started, before being interrupted by the soft sound of snoring. Sirius woke abruptly finding a pillow had just hit his face, he looked around and shrugged, “Sorry!” “As I was saying, welcome, and I hope you all enjoy this – it’s going to be fun!” Lily was looking for to excited for everybody’s taste. “Come on Lils – get on with it!” said Amanda kindly. Lily looked momentarily disappointed, but bounced back. “Remus and I had decided that we would assign you each with certain tasks – but then we thought maybe you’d want to choose!” “So I’ll read out a list of jobs, and you can all choose what you want” said Lily, pulling a piece of paper out of the folder she had been holding. “If you want to get into pairs and do it, then that might make life a bit easier for you as well!” said Remus, “especially with all the other things on our plates at the moment.” Everyone nodded and agreed that they would pair up with each other, James with Sirius and Amanda with Susan. Remus and Lily had to work together to coordinate everything that they all did. “Ok” Lily started reading, “we need someone to do decorations, someone to organize food and someone to organize the music. Remus and I will deal with tickets and all that – but if you four could decide between you what you want to do…” The four sat and talked for a while, deciding that the girls would be best for the decorations, and that the guys would be best for the food. However Susan said she knew a band that would be able to play. “So Susan and Amanda will do the decorations and music, while Sirius and James will do the food” said Lily, “now wasn’t that a surprise.” Sirius just grinned and waved back at her. For the next half hour the six talked over what would be happening, and how they would go about organizing everything. Sirius and James promised that they would talk to Tunk within a day or two, and Susan promised to owl her friend the next morning. “Well that about wraps up the meeting then” said Remus happily, yawning at the end. “I’m off to bed” he said, and then looking at his fellow room mates “You coming? Don’t you two have to be up early?” “Oh yeah” said James, remembering the piece of paper that had been sitting in his Potions folder since he wrote it during class. “I’ll pin this up tomorrow, but we’ve got Quidditch practice tomorrow night.” Sirius and Amanda both groaned, both having been victims to James’ rigorous training nights for a year already. “I’ve got a new routine worked out, and there is nothing that is going to stop us getting that Quidditch cup this year!” said James defiantly. “So Amanda, you want to come for a run tomorrow morning?” Amanda considered the option, then looked back at James; “I think I will actually,” receiving looks of surprise from Lily and Susan. “I need to keep my fitness level up, you should join us!” she said, looking at the non-Quidditch players. “Maybe one day” said Susan quickly, “but I’m a rather big fan of sleep – so I’ll pass thanks!” “Me too!” said Remus, “I get most of my exercise requirements chasing those two around Hogwarts as it is – I don’t need to voluntarily do it as well!” “What about you Lily?” asked James, “You want to join us tomorrow?” Lily considered it for a moment, just like Amanda had done; only she came to a different conclusion. “No, I’ll be right thanks!” “All right – but just follow Amanda out if you want to join us!” said Sirius as he leant over and kissed Amanda goodnight. “Goodnight all!” Sirius and Remus trotted off to bed, followed closely by James, who kissed Lily goodnight and said goodnight to the rest of the girls. The next day, when there were plenty of people in the common room before breakfast, James made a great show of walking over to the notice board, and pinning up the Quidditch notice – informing players that there was practice that night. Periodic groans were heard from people who were in the team, but no one openly complained. You didn’t openly complain in front of James if you still wanted to play. Having gone for their run earlier that morning, James and Sirius were feeling rather awake. However the same couldn’t be said for Amanda, who had gone back to bed halfway through the boy’s work out. “Well” said Sirius to James as they walked down to breakfast. “We have Transfiguration and Charms homework that is due in tomorrow. We have to patrol tonight, as well as fit in your infernal practice and then finish our homework!” “It’s going to be an interesting night isn’t it?” said James, half amused half as mystified as Sirius. “Ok – practice is straight after dinner, so from there we go into the patrol, and then …” “And then we finish our homework!” finished Sirius. “All I have to say is, thank goodness we asked for Lily’s help on the Charms homework, otherwise we would have been up all night!” James nodded his agreement as they reached their table, piling their plates full of food. On game days and practice days, James would eat a big breakfast and big lunch – but didn’t eat dinner. Sirius just ate normally. Half way through breakfast, Professor Dumbledore signaled for everyone’s attention from his seat at the front. Once he received it, he said “I have an announcement that concerns you all. This Friday, at three o’clock, there will be a memorial service held here, for the victims of the tragedy that befell us last Friday.” He stopped for a moment and surveyed the tables, lingering slightly on the Slytherin table. “You do not have to attend – however it would be appreciated if you did. That is all” he finished, seating himself back down. “Wondered when they’d tell the rest” said Remus quietly to his friends. “The heads told us yesterday at our prefect meeting” he continued. “That was yesterday was it?” asked Sirius, Remus just nodded in return. “So… the heads told you about…” “Yeah – don’t worry about most of us, but the two Slytherins took it…” replied Remus. “Not to well!” finished Lily. “Not to well at all!” “Oh goody!” said Sirius, slightly disgruntled. “Let’s just hope we never have to see how they handle it in action.” The others all nodded their agreement. James’ day was moving along as expected, breakfast had been had, classes had been attended and breezed through easily enough, and dinner had finally come. However as he was approaching the doors he was met with a small group of Slytherins, focused, as normal, around Lucius Malfoy. “Well Potter, seems that you’re moving up in the world!” he sneered. “That ego of yours must be getting pretty heavy now!” His cronies all laughed, James just stood impassively, watching Malfoy. “Aren’t you going to say something Potter?” “Not really – what do you want?!” he said calmly, trying to keep the upper hand. Lucius snarled back at him before answering, “You just watch out Potter, you might just find out how well you lead sooner, rather then later.” And with that he swept past James, his minions in his wake. “What was that all about?” asked Sirius as he came up beside James. “I don’t know – but I have to speak to Dumbledore,” said James, “come on!” With that James and Sirius walked quickly into the hall, and found Dumbledore seated at his normal seat. “Sir” said James quietly when they finally reached him. “Yes Mr. Potter – what can I do for you?” he said genially. “Well – I just had a run in with Lucius, and…” James lowered his voice, drawing Albus closer, “he said that I might just get the chance to lead sooner rather then later, a direct quote!” Dumbledore’s face dropped quickly. “Well – that is interesting” said Dumbledore, “that is interesting indeed!” “What is?” asked Sirius. “Only that it seems that Lucius is following in some rather unfortunate footsteps – however not the footsteps of his father” he replied grimly. “Please – do nothing about this, it is… it is far to dangerous, even for you two!” “Right – well James and I have enough to deal with without running off all detective style, so we’ll leave it in your hands” said Sirius calmly, “enjoy!” “You too Sirius, I understand that training starts again tonight” said Dumbledore, a grin flickering over his face which Sirius caught. “Have fun!” Sirius just groaned, half at the displeasure of the training, half at the fact that he was sure Dumbledore was making fun of him. Dinner went slowly for James, and quickly for Sirius, thanks to their choices in regards to food. However when Sirius looked like he was going for thirds, James just looked at him and he stopped – then both stood up and headed to get their Quidditch gear. The other Gryffindor players knew they had a little bit longer left before they had to be out there. “Am I going to hate this new regime you’ve got worked out Prongs?” asked Sirius as they were coming back down the stairs, their Quidditch gear and the balls carried between them. “Of course not!” said James cheerfully, too cheerfully for Sirius’ liking. “You’re going to love it!” “I’m going to hate it” mumbled Sirius to himself. After a couple more minutes walking the two finally made it out to the Quidditch pitch. James and Sirius flew around on their brooms for ten or so minutes, waiting for the rest of the team to arrive after dinner. Finally, one at a time, the team arrived, carrying their broomsticks solemnly. James and Sirius landed where they had left the ball chest, and waited for the team to join them. “Welcome to another semester of Quidditch team!” James said, far too happily for everyone else, who just moaned back at him. “Well let’s get into it, some of us have to be elsewhere soon,” said James. “Now let’s get into it!” With that, James started into his pre-rehearsed speech of their new Quidditch training, outlining what they would be doing during practices, and what he thought they should do outside of practices. The team listened quietly, eliciting moans and groans on numerous occasions. Once James had finished putting them through a verbal torment, he set to it to put them through a physical torment – literally pushing each member harder then they could remember. “If we’re going to win the cup!” James screamed at them, “Then we need to be ready to beat the Slytherins!” Despite what their bodies were telling them, James was right, and they were ready to do anything to win the Quidditch cup this year. The rest of the night went smoothly, with the team digging in hard after James’ last bout of screaming. “All right” called James suddenly, “time to call it quits! Good practice people! Now go sleep!” A ragged cheer erupted from his players, as they all headed down to the ground and back to the common room to shower and sleep. James and Sirius ended up packing up the Quidditch equipment and taking it back to the storage room, before starting their patrols. “Just as long as we don’t have Quidditch practice each night” said Sirius tiredly, “and I get in a regular run, I should make it through this year.” “You’ll be right!” said James. “We got a Quidditch game this weekend to win!” The night passed uneventfully for the two weary boys, with nothing interesting in their patrols. Chatting aimlessly between themselves they walked the corridors, then proceeding down to walk the grounds, before finally retreating back to the Gryffindor common room, for a nice hot shower. The following night, James and Sirius could be found in the Gryffindor common room embedded in their transfiguration homework. “Theory – it’s just frustrating” said James absently, “I’m good at it, I’m good at the practical too – but…” James finished, growling loudly. “There, there Prongsy!” said Sirius mockingly, “It’ll all be ok!” Lily came and sat down next to Sirius, looking over what he had done and grimacing. Most of her friends she was able to help with their homework – but when Sirius and James sat down and did theirs, she was useless. “I’d offer to help but…” said Lily, grinning. James looked up, shocked to find her nearby. “When did you get here?” he asked. “I only just sat down” she replied, “why?” “Oh – no reason, I guess I was just lost in thought” he replied. “How are the ball preparations coming? Gotten any further?” “Not really” she replied, “got the leaflet’s done though” she finished brightly. “What was arithmancy equation for this?” asked Sirius. “What transfiguration are you working on?” asked Lily. “Animal into another animal” he replied grimly. “Oh” replied Lily, remembering how long it had taken her to change her cat into an owl, compared to James and Sirius. “Here it is” replied James to Sirius’ question, handing him a piece of paper. “Thanks” said Sirius, moving back to his work. “Do you want me to leave you two alone” asked Lily, starting to get up, before Sirius put a hand around her arm and sat her back down. “We’re almost done – we just have to get this done or else we’re in trouble” said Sirius, “we haven’t had much time this week” he explained, “it’s now or never!” Lily just nodded, “I’ll be finished in a minute, how about you Prongs?” “Well if you would stop pestering me with questions…” he replied, before looking up, apologetically. “Sorry.” Within five minutes the two had finished their homework for the night, and sat back in their chairs. They had already patrolled for the night, and just wanted to relax for a couple of moments before they went to bed. “What times the service tomorrow?” asked Lily, quietly from beside Sirius. “Three” replied Sirius, “Dumbledore’s leading it from what I’ve heard” he continued. “Well that’ll be good then” replied Lily. “Hey – where’s Remus and Peter? I thought they’d be here doing their homework with you two.” “You’d think so… but they said they both wanted to go to sleep so… they went to sleep” answered Sirius. “Speaking off – where are your two?” “Well – I think that ones asleep and the other is reading” grinned Lily, “you work out which is which! Which leads me to say – goodnight.” “Off already?” whined James, “but you only just got here!” “I really need some sleep – unlike you two, sixth year homework plus patrolling is starting to take it’s toll” she commented wearily, “I’ll catch you both tomorrow at breakfast.” With that, Lily got up from her seat and trotted off up the stairs to her dorm room. “You know – we should do the same thing” commented Sirius, “we’ve got Quidditch on Saturday, and we need a run tomorrow” he continued, emphasizing the need for a run. “Yeah, all right – let’s go!” said James as he stood up, “is Amanda coming with us tomorrow?” “Not sure – maybe” replied Sirius, “that’s why she is asleep - I think!” Sirius followed James up to their bedroom, saying goodnight and turning in – both falling asleep within moments. The next morning both James and Sirius were met with Amanda and Susan and Lily at the bottom of the stairs. “We thought you weren’t coming” bounced Lily, obviously dressed for running. Sirius and James just nodded at them to follow, and made their way out of the common room, down to the entrance. “Do they talk?” Lily laughed, turning to Amanda. “Not until a few laps in, or a coffee – whichever happens first” she replied, grinning. As promised, a couple of laps into the boy’s running cycle, James slowed down and matched his pace with Lily’s. “What are you two doing out here?” he asked, not harshly. ”We decided to join you three for a run – Amanda keeps on and on about how good it is for her” said Lily, making a whining voice as she finished. “Well – don’t try and match anyone’s speed” he said kindly, “just find your own pace and run at that.” With that James moved back to the head with Sirius, leaving Lily in his wake, already breathing heavily. After a dozen or so more laps the boys decided to call it quits for the morning – “We’re hungry and we’ve done enough – you three keep on if you –“ James said, before noticing the girls had already stopped and were heading towards the castle. “When are we supposed to start feeling better?” inquired Lily, her breath laboring heavily. Amanda just laughed, along with James and Sirius as they entered the great hall. Later that day they found themselves in the great hall again, but this time the scenery had changed dramatically. The house and school flags were up against the wall, interspersed with black flags, one to commemorate each of the dead. The tables had been replaced with rows and rows of pews – of which all were filling quite quickly. All the houses were there – including the majority of the Slytherins – a noticeable exception was that of Lucius Malfoy and his cronies. The seven split up as the two prefects went to sit with the other heads, leaving the remaining five to find their own seat, up close. When the hall finally filled, all the professors marched solemnly in from the side, taking their places in the very front pews, which had been reserved for them. Dumbledore came in last, making his way to the lectern that had been placed up the front of the hall – where Dumbledore normally sat. “Welcome, Students!” he started, the twinkle that was normally found in his eyes, gone. “We gather here today, not only to mourn the loss of our friends and family” he said, motioning towards the families gathered behind the professors. “But we come also – to celebrate the lives that our dearly departed had lived. They have moved on, all be it far too soon, to the next life that awaits us all.” “Death is not the end of life” he continued, “death is simply the means in which we move from this bodily life, into the next life – whatever that may be. We can be happy for them, even in our time of mourning at their loss.” He looked around the room, many tears had already been shed, and more were being shed as he spoke. “Do not belittle their deaths – remember this in times to come. Remember this when you think of the evil that has befallen our world. This is what comes of conflict – this is what comes of hatred!” “We have lost eighteen students to this dreadful attack. Seventeen instantly, one was lost due to wounds to severe for even our most magnificent Madame Pomfrey to heal. However five were saved, thanks to her careful ministrations.” Ragged clapping emerged, especially from the parents directly behind Madame Pomfrey, and the Hufflepuff students. “This is a time when we as a school – as a family – will need to stick together! We will not let this defeat us, but we will become stronger because of it. The enemy sought to hurt us – “Dumbledore’s voice rising steadily as he spoke, “well they have only strengthened our resolve! Those who have died as a result of this cowardly attack will not die in vain. They will serve as a reminder – to each and every one of us – of why were stand by good – and not evil!” The clapping had risen steadily as he spoke, starting from the parent’s right back through the masses of students. “Today though – is not about our fight or desperate struggle. No – today is set apart for remembrance, for stories, for laughter and tears. I want to open the floor up to anyone who wants to share a story about someone we lost. Don’t be nervous – come and share why you will be remembering the good about the lost.” With that Dumbledore stepped down, making his way to a seat saved next to Professor McGonagall. Slowly, people started to make their way forwards; family members, friends, staff members, each with a story about one of the lost. From tales of pranks they had done, or been caught in – and the last had resulted in much laughter directed at the Marauders. From tales of childhood from the parents and siblings, to the thoughts of the girlfriends or boyfriends that were left behind. Lily slowly made her way up the front when it looked like everyone else had said what they wanted to, to speak about Jessica. “She was one of my best friends – and I loved her dearly. I knew her family and her friends, and she knew mine.” Lily was fiercely trying to stave off the tears that had been threatening all afternoon. “I remember once, James and Sirius had pulled a prank on us, and she was so angry” Lily laughed, wiping away some tears. “She vowed right then, that she would get payback on the two of them!” The audience laughed at this – all having been affected by a Marauder prank. “Well – she did! The next day, as James and Sirius were on their run, she hid just inside the castle as they finished, all sweaty from running,” Lily stumbled, starting to cry softly, “She ran out of her hiding place straight towards the two, with a bag full of flour,” those present started laughing, “she hit them before they knew what was happening.” With that Lily broke down, trying to finish but unable too. James quickly moved up the front, and put an arm around Lily, who then buried her head into his shoulder. “I remember that day – Sirius and I had to walk around school, covered in flour, for the rest of the day. We weren’t allowed back to class as we were late already so… Jessica was my friend – and I think that we will all miss her, and each and everyone, a great deal.” James cast a quick glance at Dumbledore, who nodded back – a silent conversation quickly held. “I think it would be right if we held a one minute silence” said James. At this everyone bowed their heads for a full minute, silence filling the hall. The owls that would normally have been swooping overhead suddenly quiet, all sitting along the windows. When finally the minute was up, James turned towards the photos that had sat off to the side during the service – one for each of the departed. Slowly, he started to clap – and it quickly gathered speed as it raced through everyone present, until it was a deafening roar, easily heard throughout the castle. Then Dumbledore stepped back up to the podium, as Lily and James sat down quietly. “Thank you all for coming – this has been… much greater then I could have hoped for” he said commandingly. “If you would all like to stay – the house-elves have prepared some food for you all, I suggest to you the parents that you make it to the tables first” continued Dumbledore grinning now, “We have some rather unusually ravenous students at the moment – non more-so then young Mr. Black – so if he starts off to the table…” This received a hearty round of laughter throughout the hall, as the parents did indeed proceed to the now fully ladened food tables. “That was very nice James” said Dumbledore, as he came up behind James and Lily, who had started talking to Jessica’s parents. “Yes it was” continued Jessica’s Dad, Robert. “We’re both glad to know that she inherited her mother’s temper” he chuckled, joined by his wife, Laura. “Albus” she said, turning to the headmaster, “what steps have you taken following last Friday?” she asked. “There are now nightly patrols by our prefects and two respected students,” replied Dumbledore, “I have upped the school’s defenses and …” Dumbledore stopped, not wanting to acknowledge the fact that his school was in danger. “I have taken steps to protect the student population as a whole if need be.” “Well please, if you ever need any help, we’re just an owl away” Laura continued, “This is not only the students school, we went here as well – whatever we can do…” Dumbledore nodded, acknowledging the offer of help. “I will keep that in mind” he said, “now if you would excuse me, it seems that Sirius has started towards the food and I haven’t eaten yet.” And with that the headmaster headed off unceremoniously towards the food table, elbowing Sirius out as he went, causing random laughter from those who saw him. “So James – you’re a trusted student are you?” said Robert slyly, flashing him a smile. “How… What?” replied James, caught off guard by the older man. “I saw your reaction while Dumbledore was speaking” he continued, “not hard to read a young man’s mind sometimes.” “Obviously” said James, regaining his composure and returning a slight smile. “However, if you would not tell Lily or the others? I am not sure if they know – and I don’t want them to know the extent of it all!” Luckily for James Lily had turned to speak to someone down the row and didn’t hear the exchange. “Of course – that is your prerogative,” he replied, standing and placing a hand on the young man’s shoulder. “However if you ever need any thing – just give us a yell, ok?” “Thank you” replied James graciously, “that is greatly appreciated. Now, you may have thought the headmaster was joking about Sirius…” “No – we know the old man too well for that – we’re going now” he laughed, pulling his wife up and walking over to the food table. “What was that about?” asked Lily, returning her attention towards James. “Just telling them that they should move if they want something to eat” James laughed, “speaking off…” he continued, hoping to steer the topic away from his conversation with Robert. James and Lily moved off towards the table, lining up behind the students that had beaten them. Luckily, the parents had managed to beat the majority of the students to the table. The rest of the afternoon was spent conversing with friends and family members of the dead, recalling fond memories and getting to know the families. That night, the friends were sitting around the fire, talking about their day. With James, Sirius and Amanda needing a good sleep before the game tomorrow, they were planning an early night in – but had decided to stay up a little bit to talk. “I hadn’t met her parents before today” said Remus, “such wonderful people.” “They are, aren’t they” replied Lily, who had curled up in James’ arms. “I remember the first time I met them, they took me to Diagon Ally with Jessica and bought us both ice creams. I think we were both ten.” “Did you get a chance to talk to the McSweeny’s?” asked Sirius, everyone shook their heads. “Oh – they are so cool! Michael, the father, was telling me about his student days. He was almost as bad as us” he said, turning to James and laughing, before he started yawning – sending both James and then Lily yawning as well. “I think that’s our cue boys” said Amanda standing up. “Time for beddy-byes.” “I think you’re right my dear” said Sirius, standing up behind her and enveloping her in a hug. “I will catch you tomorrow” he said, kissing her neck softly, before letting go. “Why don’t I ever get that?” whined Lily, grinning evilly. James looked back at her, before descending and wrapping her up in a tight hug, resulting in her squealing. He then started to kiss the nape of her neck, cutting of her squealing suddenly. “Happy?” he asked amused, as he stood up and continued, “Good night all!” With that he and Sirius headed up the stairs to their room. Meanwhile, back on the couch, Lily was still staring somewhat dazed into the fire. “How you doin there Lils?” asked Susan, trying not to laugh loudly. “Yeah” she replied absently, “good.” Remus and Susan just laughed, before they too stood up for bed – Susan reaching over and pulling Lily to her dorm room as she went. Each of the friends slept soundly that night, a result of the long hard week that it had been for them all, only waking when the sun spilt through the uncovered window onto their beds the next morning. “Quidditch” said Remus, not knowing whether Sirius and James had been planning on actually getting up. However with this, two bodies sat slowly upright, acknowledging the dreadful truth of being awake. “Yeah” grumbled Sirius “thanks!” Slowly turning himself out of his bed, and slipping into the slippers that sat by the side of his bed. “I’m heading to breakfast” he continued to mumble, “James, you really should eat!” “Muh!” mumbled James back at him, not as awake as Sirius now was having the incentive of food to help him get up. “All right” said Sirius as he started to the door, “but you’ll regret it one day later” he continued. James just waved his off and went back to trying to locate his own slippers – while being directly beneath his feet, were refusing to be cooperative. James fought with his slippers for a couple more minutes, before giving up and walking down to the great hall bare footed. “Slippers being uncooperative again?” laughed Sirius. James just whacked him over the back of the head and sat down, finding a piece of toast and putting some butter on it. “Well at least you’re eating something” said Sirius, rubbing the back of his head. “You know I can’t eat much on game day” replied James, slightly more awake then the last time Sirius had seen him. “Now I’m going to eat this piece of toast, and then go down to the Quidditch pitch. I’ll meet you there.” James proceeded to finish his lone piece of toast, then rise and slump out of the great hall. “Well – pre-game habits might be strange” said Remus, “but he’s not bad at Quidditch.” The table just nodded, everyone turning back to their own plates. James slowly made his way back up the stairs and got changed out of his pajamas and into his Quidditch gear, pulling on his gloves last, and then picking up his broom from next to his bed, continued back down out of the common room down to the Quidditch pitch. Those who he encountered along his route already knew of James’ early morning Quidditch rituals and went out of their way to avoid running into him. After several hours of sitting on and flying around the Quidditch Pitch, James started to notice the steady stream of students making their way up into the stands surrounding the pitch. Deciding to stand up and make his way to the locker room, he found his broom and attempted to disappear without anyone seeing him. When he arrived in the locker room the team were all there and ready to go, chatting between themselves. Upon noticing James’ arrival, the team took their seats on the two benches in the middle, and turned to face him. “Ok” he began quietly. “We’re second on the ladder to Slytherin. We need a decent win today to make the game against them count something for us. So I’d love not to catch the snitch until we’re about sixty in front, ok?” The team cheered, excited at the prospect of the game. “Lindsey,” the team’s seeker, “don’t worry if you have to catch it early, we’ll just play extra hard against Slytherin – play you’re game, and we’ll play ours. Now let’s go out there and kick some Hufflepuff rear-ends!” he cried, putting his hand into the centre of the team, waiting for each team member to follow before he cried, “1…2…3… Gryffindor!” With that the team charged outside, accompanied by the screams of the Gryffindor students upon their arrival on the pitch, joined almost immediately by the cries of the Hufflepuff students as their team followed the Gryffindors out. James and the opposing captain, Craig Duffton, made their way to the centre where Professor McGonagall, who had temporarily taken over the Quidditch duties since the retirement of Ronald Thornton. “I want a nice clean match between you ok? Hufflepuff, which way are you heading?” Craig pointed towards the lake end of the pitch. “Very well – mount your brooms!” As the students mounted their brooms, the voice of the commentator, Michael Jordan – a seventh year, flooded over the stadium. “Welcome all to the third match of the Hogwarts calendar, Hufflepuff versus Gryffindor.” The crowd went up in an almighty cheer when their team was called – however both times the Slytherin stands could be heard booing. “Yeah good for you Slytherins you lousy-“before he stopped, realizing he liked commentating. “And as the two teams take the positions, McGonagall blows her whistle and releases the Quaffle – they’re off!” he shouted. “First to get their hands on the ball is Potter for Gryffindor,” the cheering was now almost continuous, “who passes to Black who OH MY GOODNESS just missed being taken out by a bludger from Diggory. Black passes to Adams who passes back to Potter who SCORES! Ten – Nil to Gryffindor.” The play continued on, Lindsey catching sight of the snitch twice, but both times faking in the opposite direction, drawing her opponent with her. Down below the chasers for Hufflepuff were being pelted by beaters from the Gryffindor team, at one point one of the Hufflepuff players were knocked of their broom; luckily it had been close to the ground at the time. “McDoogle get’s up after a nasty fall but she looks ok. But Potter has got the Quaffle again and is heading up field fast and WATCH OUT” Michael screamed as a bludger headed for James’ head. Strictly speaking the commentators weren’t supposed to help either team – but sometimes it was hard not to in the heat of the moment. James didn’t hear the call, but was aware of the oncoming bludger and rolled his broom as the bludger passed over the top of him. “Nice dodge by Potter, who passes the Quaffle to Adams who weaves around the goalie and scores, the score is now one-hundred-and-ten to fifty.” Out on the pitch, James made his way to Lindsey, “You can catch it any time now” he said, “I’m getting tired.” Lindsey grinned and nodded, heading back up above to watch for the snitch. Within minutes of play being restarted, she spotted it, hovering just below the commentary position. “And there goes Lindsey Donald on a snitch run… and… hang on… she’s coming… WATCH OUT!” Michael screamed, as Lindsey barreled towards him at a speed not conducive to stopping quickly. But the snitch moved up just in time and Lindsey followed it, inches away from grasping it, with the Hufflepuff seeker on her tail. “She’s nearly got it… nearly… nearly… GOT IT! Gryffindor win two-hundred-and-sixty to fifty!” called Michael, turning off the microphone when he finished, sitting back exhausted – another good game called. On the pitch the team had descended and was madly hugging Lindsey after such an awesome catch. “That was spectacular” cried Sirius. “You should have seen Michael’s face” cried Tim, “priceless!” “Come on” cried Remus who had joined the throng of supporters, “party in the common room!” The next several hours passed in a blur for the Quidditch team, as they were rushed back up into the common room, where an unusually large supply of food had arrived. “Where did you get all this without us knowing?” asked Sirius. “You’re not the only ones Tunk likes” replied Peter with a grin, handing James and Sirius a mug of butterbeer each. Sirius wrapped Peter up in a manly hug before drowning the mug in one shot. Pausing only to head down to dinner, the party went on, interrupted only once by the arrival of Professor McGonagall. “You should all be on your way to bed…” she started, before looking around. “Oh to heck with it! She cried, and grabbed a mug of butterbeer and drowned it ala Sirius, receiving raucous cheering from the entire house. “I want you all in bed by twelve thirty – understood?” Various affirmative answers were given enough to satisfy her as she exited. At midnight however, the party started to die down, with only the diehards left to party on, and even after another fifteen minutes, they all slumped down into chairs, half asleep. “It’d be great if we could make it to bed” said Amanda, “but I just don’t see it happening.” “We could just sleep down here” countered Greg, one of the Gryffindor beaters. “Eh!” grumbled Amanda, as she rolled herself out of her chair, collapsing on the ground. “Bugger!” she mumbled into the floor. Sirius then stood up, and slowly made his way over to Amanda, pulling her to her feet, and maneuvering her towards her dorm corridor. “There ya go” he said softly, “now up you go to bed!” Amanda did as she was told, arms slung down her sides as she couldn’t be bothered keeping them upright. “I’m off to guys – catch you’s all tomorrow!” “Hang on – I’ll come too! I’m done for!” added James quickly. James slowly stood up and shuffled over to his corridor, turning around to see Tim and Greg, their two beaters and Charlie, their Goalie, snoring softly in their chairs. “They’ll be right!” he said, as he trudged up into his room. A/N: Hope you're still enjoying it - next chapter, Hell Hath No Fury! Please review and let me know what you think!

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