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A month had gone by since the Hufflepuff victory, and the Valentines ball was getting closer and closer. As a result Lily and Remus were getting more and more stressed by the moment. The band had been signed, the food had been ordered and the guest list was confirmed. Decorations and set up would be held the day of the ball, which was a Friday. Dumbledore had seen fit to cancel classes for the day, to allow the female population of the school to get ready, and allow for the organization team to decorate and set the great hall in readiness for the ball. However, despite all the confirmations and certainties, the two Gryffindor prefects were still in a constant state of panic. James had theorized that study, on top of having to patrol, added to their stress levels, leaving less and less time to prepare fully for the event. He and Sirius had been flat out with their patrols and homework as it was; added to that was James insisting to have weekly Quidditch practices. All in all – Gryffindor was home to a lot of stress. Added to this, was the fact that the day after the ball, was Valentines Day. The decision had been made not to have the ball on the same day, so as to allow for personal activities to happen. So in addition to the stress of the ball coming up, many people were stressing about Valentines Day. James had granted the entire Quidditch team a reprieve this week, being the week of the Ball, no one wanted to get hurt. So James could be found sitting down at the tree by the lake, accompanied by Remus, Peter and Sirius. The girls were up in the common room, trying on the dresses they had bought the previous weekend in Hogsmeade. “Have you guys actually got your robes ready for the ball??” asked Peter quietly. “Yeah – it sits in the closet with an anti damage spell on it” replied Sirius, “Never know when you’ll need the blasted thing!” Remus and James just nodded their agreement with Sirius, Peter leaving the matter be. “So what are you guys doing for Valentines Day?” asked Peter, trying desperately to strike up a conversation. “We’re going into Hogsmeade and then splitting up from there” replied James. “However we all decided that no one is to go Madam Puddifoot’s.” “I’ve seen that place” said Peter, openly shuddering. “Even I know not to go there” he continued. “So what are you doing? Just walking around or…” “I’m taking Susan out to the lake, and we’re having a picnic on the bank” Remus replied, looking slightly embarrassed. “She doesn’t know though, so don’t tell her!” “Actually, al three of us are doing the same type of thing” said Sirius. “However it’s a big lake, I’m going further around with Amanda, which reminds me, we should go see Tunk.” “What about you James?” asked Remus slyly. “Ha Ha” James replied, “I’m nabbing one of the boats and we’re going out into the middle of the lake – I’m hoping its good weather!” “Hey” said Remus, diverting attention away from their Valentines Day plans, “Who are you taking to the ball Pete?” Peter looked down uncomfortably before answering, “I’m taking Olivia Finwell, a fifth year” he muttered. “Good for you Wormtail” cried Sirius, slapping him on the back, “I remember it was only a year ago when you wanted us to ask girls out for you!” “Yeah – you wouldn’t do it” replied Peter in a huff. “See” interrupted James, “now you don’t need us at all!” Peter just looked away, noticing something coming past them. “Look guys” he said, pointing, “It’s Snivelus!” Remus hung his head; thought’s he’d never be able to articulate swarming through his mind. “Snivelus – what’s your hurry?” cried James, slowly reaching for his wand. “Shut up Potter – my hurry is of no business to you!” he replied, his voice dripping with the sneer that encapsulated his face. “I think it is!” said Potter, pointing his wand at Snape and muttering a spell that halted Snape in his tracks. “It’s a lovely sunny day – scared of the light?” “Just let me go Potter” snarled Snape, “and leave me alone!” “But why would I want to do that?” asked James, sounding almost polite, “while it’s so much fun!?” “Because one day, very soon, despite the fact you tried to kill me last year,” replied Snape, his tone moving away from distasteful into honesty, “you are going to need my help!” “What could I ever need your help for?” laughed James, keeping his wand pointed at Snape, who was still frozen to the spot. “You’re nothing more then a driveling wimp!” “Maybe” replied Snape, “but this driveling wimp is not out to rid the wizarding world of Mudbloods!” With that the crowd, which had slowly gathered, gasped. Not just at the use of the word Mudblood; but because of the fact that he was a Slytherin – everyone assumed they all hated Mudbloods. “Don’t ever use that word again” snarled James, leaning in close, face to face with Snape, “You hear me?” “And if I do?” asked Snape, a smirk on his face having found James’ tender spot. “Let’s just say, that you will be able to re-determine the words ‘living hell.’ You understand?” “Perfectly” responded Snape, still with the snarl on his face. “Just as a note Potter,” he started laughing, “Turn around!” James looked at Snape oddly, and then turned around to see Lily standing about twenty feet behind him, openly shocked at his behavior. Once she saw him looking, she took off into the castle. James turned back to Snape, and without a word walked off, ignoring the fact Snape was still rooted to the spot. Remus got up slowly and un-jinxed Snape, looking at him almost apologetically. Snape just made sure that he was all still there and his books were there, and then headed back to the castle. James had walked back to the tree, ignoring everything that had happened since Lily ran away. “Don’t worry about it mate” said Peter, “I’m sure she’ll get over it.” Sirius and Remus, who had just got back to hear what Peter had said, just looked at him, knowing that this was not so. James just looked out over the lake, pondering the events that had transpired within the last ten minutes. Life had been so easy before Lily was a major part of his life, his teasing and tormenting Snape was just another aspect of his life. Now though, he had the uneasy feeling it was going to be one or the other. “It’s going to be one or the other isn’t it?” he whispered to Sirius and Remus; Peter had busied himself in some overdue homework off to the side. “Lily or Snape?” “I didn’t know you liked Snape” said Sirius quickly smiling, then noticing the look on James’ face, “Sorry – stupid comment.” “Yeah it is Prongs” replied Remus, the group’s expert on women, at least that’s what James and Sirius thought. “You can’t keep bullying people just because…” he looked down awkwardly, “well you know.” “Hey Moony – don’t do that, I don’t mind it coming from you,” he whispered to his friend, who looked up. “Anyone else, I’d clobber them, but it’s us!” “He’s right though –“said added Sirius. “Our lives are going to have to change from now on. Not just because of the girls either – more responsibility means more maturity.” James just shook his head mournfully. “Well for the moment, we have tonight to worry about” said Remus. “We can deal with your female problems tomorrow.” Remus’ calendar had a mark for that night, signifying a certain shift in personality – not to mention physical form. “That’s right” replied James brightening suddenly. “It’ll be nice to shift without it being some life or death situation” he continued, “but we’re being responsible?” he looked at Sirius. “Afraid so mate” he replied. “Maybe one day all four of us can go out to the country side and shift – no one to worry about and lots of open space!” “Maybe” added Remus, “but tonight – it’s through to the house!” The other two nodded, Peter still engrossed in his homework. “In the meantime” started Sirius before being interrupted by James. “Yes, we know… dinner time!” he laughed. Sirius just grinned and picked up his book bag. The three, being followed quickly by Peter as he attempted to put all his paper into his bag while running after them, made it into the great hall within minutes. As Remus walked past the staff table where only Dumbledore and a few other professors sat, Dumbledore caught his eye – receiving a slight nod from Remus. This had happened each month since Remus’ arrival at Hogwarts – Dumbledore making sure that he never forgot. Taking their usual seats the four sat down, noticing the lack of their girlfriends anywhere about. At first the three figured that they were running late, but then something struck Sirius. “Any bet’s there up there with Lily right now?” James looked startled, before realizing it was probably true. “All right – I’ll apologize tomorrow – I don’t want to get you two into hot water as well!” he said. Sirius and Remus didn’t say anything – not actually sure what to say if they had wanted to. After dinner had been eaten, and eaten, and eaten in the case of Sirius, they all headed back to the common room, Sirius and Remus carrying three plates of food for the girls who had missed dinner completely. Upon arrival in the common room they found the three girls sitting by the fire, Sirius and Remus immediately went over and handed the plates to the girls while James went straight to the boy’s room. The girls were thankful for the food, even Lily who had wanted to go to dinner but hadn’t because of not wanting to meet James. “I can’t believe he still acts like that!” she said. “I thought he had changed!” “Lily – some things are going to take time” said Sirius calmly, wanting to emphasize a neutral position. “Severus and James have been at each others throat longer then you two have – its part of their relationship now.” “I know that” replied Lily, slightly angry, “but he could at least try to change.” “He is” replied Remus quickly, his tone not as neutral as he would have liked, “He is changing – and he’s trying hard!” “Sure doesn’t look like it” she said hotly. “Think about it though” continued Remus, “there hasn’t been any pranks, any misbehaving. This was the first incident with him and Snape in a month or two!” “That’s pretty good for James” continued Sirius, “You’ll have to let him get used to having you, and give him time to move on from his rivalry. Put it this way – I’m still having trouble holding back from the little twit!” Amanda smacked him on the arm. “Well he better shape up soon or” she started, before being stopped by Susan who smacked her on the arm. Lily just looked down, ignoring the grins flashed between the others. “Well tonight is my night ladies” said Remus, standing up. “So if you will excuse me – I have somewhere else to be!” Susan got up with him and gave him a big hug, and a kiss on the lips for measure. “Be safe!” she said to him, and then turning to Sirius, “And you look after him ok?” “Yes mum!” laughed Sirius, as he too got up and followed Remus up the stairs with Peter. “They’re going to be the death of us” he continued as they entered their room. “Who are?” asked Peter as they sat down on their beds, “The girls?” Remus just nodded. “Ok” said James, “same as usual, only this time we’re going to the house instead of roaming the grounds.” Sirius and Remus agreed instantly, but Peter groaned. “Oh? Why?” he said. “It’s no fun for me if we’re just at the house – I spend half my time making sure I don’t get trodden on!” “We’re sorry – but … well we’re going to stop the roaming around the grounds thing!” replied Remus to Peter. “It’s too dangerous.” Peter looked aghast; he hadn’t heard this talk from his friends before. “But don’t worry – pranking will take place as soon as this blasted patrolling stops! And with our new map… it’s going to be better then ever!” The four then proceeded to get changed, the clothes worn for a full moon chosen carefully for their ease to get in and out of quickly. When Remus was finished, he made his way out of the common room, careful not to make too much noise and disturb the other occupants of the tower. When he made the common room, he moved quickly to the portrait hole and down out of the castle. Following behind him, at a safe distance in case he was stopped by a teacher, were the remaining Marauders underneath the invisibility cloak. Remus made it all the way to the edge of the Whomping Willow without any interference, joined shortly after by his friends. Quickly, Peter transformed into his rat form and ran forward and pressed down on the knot that subdued the ancient tree. Then the three humans quickly made for the opening in the ground, followed by Wormtail. Quickly making their way up the tunnel to the house at the end, they made it just in time to beat the full moon rising; once inside the house, the three Animagi all transformed into their forms, followed quickly by Remus. Initially Wormtail made his way to the door of the room, staying clear of Moony until he calmed down. The initial stages of the transformation, and the following minutes, were always on the verge of vicious – hence Padfoot and Prongs on either side of Moony. During the initial couple of minutes, the people from the town of Hogsmeade were once again being treated to loud howls echoing from, what they had in recent years dubbed ‘The Shrieking Shack.’ However lately the howls had been diminishing, not appearing as regularly – but rumor was hard to stop. Meanwhile, in the Shrieking Shack itself, Wormtail had scuttled over to the others, as Moony had calmed down with the sight of his friends. The four spent the rest of the night conversing between them; prowling around the house, exploring the levels that had become so familiar to them all. As the night began to wear away – Moony felt the moon’s pull on him lessen hour by hour. The power that the werewolf had had over him all night began to wane with the moon, culminating his return to his two legged form. Moments later his three friends followed suit, returning to their normal selves. “How you feel Moony?” asked Sirius, always the concerned one at the end of a full moon night. “Pretty good, a little weary” he replied, “I’m going to have to skip breakfast again though…” The others nodded, Remus often had to skip breakfast, and more often then not the better part of the following days classes. Later at breakfast, as James and Sirius were passing Dumbledore he inquired as to the whereabouts of Remus. “He’s going to have to skip breakfast and maybe morning classes” replied James. “He’s feeling a bit under the weather this morning.” Dumbledore just nodded and proceeded eating his food, Sirius and James heading to their table. But when James reached his seat he realized that Lily was there, and she was sitting next to his seat. “Are you guys ready to start decorating after lunch?” asked Lily to the girls. “Yeah – but we’re hoping to get some help from the boys” replied Amanda, looking at Sirius and James. “You up for it?” she continued. “Yeah – what the hell” replied James. “We’ve already ordered the food; we just have to talk to Tunk before lunch.” “When do you want us where?” asked Sirius. “Um…” started Susan, “in here at about two? Sound ok to you?” James and Sirius nodded, both halfway through their own breakfasts. “Well I’ll leave you to it then” said Lily, starting to rise. “I’ll catch you guys later.” “Lily” said James quickly, “can I talk to you later? Maybe just after lunch?” “Well…” she started, before seeing the look on his face, “ok – but we’ll have to be quick so you can help the girls with the decorations.” “No problem. Thanks!” he said, turning back to his seat and continuing with breakfast. The rest of the morning went swiftly for everyone but Remus and Lily, who were only seen while running between the Gryffindor common room and somewhere else. For the remaining friends, they had set themselves in the Gryffindor common room so that the two heads would know where they were if they needed help. The boys had already found their robes and laid them out on their beds, while the girls had already done their hair. Everyone was now waiting to go to lunch, then to start setting up the hall. Everyone that was, but James – who in a matter of minutes was going to go and speak to Lily. “Just tell her the truth” said Amanda. “The truth works basically all of the time” she continued, “unless the girl is really angry.” “And we’re pretty sure that Lily isn’t that angry” said Susan, somewhat reassuringly. “Pretty sure?!” exclaimed James, causing everyone to laugh. “Oh sure, funny for you guys isn’t it…” “Relax Prongs” said Sirius, “just tell her the truth, and don’t be an idiot!” Sirius grinned, the others around just laughed at James. “Thank you VERY much Padfoot” said James, before throwing a nearby pillow at his head. “I’m off then!” And with that James got up and stomped out of the room, followed by silent giggles from his friends. “I love that boy” laughed Sirius as James departed through the entrance. James wandered through the castle, checking at places he thought Lily might have been, before finally arriving at the Great hall. There, sitting at a table was Remus and Lily, drinking what appeared to be tea or hot chocolate. When James crossed the threshold into the hall though, Remus looked up. Following Remus’ gaze, Lily turned around and spotted James, turning back to her drink almost immediately. Remus excused himself from the table and walked over to James, put his hand on his shoulder and then walked off, without saying a word. James plucked up the courage and walked over, and sat opposite lily. The two sat quietly for awhile, James not able to start and Lily waiting for him to start. Finally; “I’m so sorry Lily” started James, the words almost fighting to make it out first. “I’m sorry for the way that I treated Snape – I know that it’s childish – but it’s going to be hard to stop. But I’ll do anything for you!” Lily just looked at him, her silence encouraging James to continue. “It’s just that Snape and I have been…” he struggled for a word, “at each others throats since the moment we boarded the Hogwarts express in our first year. I got on board the train and immediately ran into Snape – it’s just kind of gotten worse from there.” James was searching Lily’s eyes, trying to find a hint of what he should do next. “But I’ve realized that I need to grow up, to mature and …” James was not good at apologies, “accept responsibility for stuff that I do. Now that I’m with you, I want to change!” Lily looked up at James, finding his eyes and seeing in him that he really meant what he was saying. Lily had not been sure what the future was going to be for her and James up until now – up until she realized that James WOULD do everything for her. “I’m sorry James” she whispered, “I’m sorry for making you apologize-“she was about to go on before James interrupted her. “Don’t be sorry Lily – I’m the one who is apologizing, and I’m the only one with reason to.” James put his hands across the table, taking hold of Lily’s in his. “Let me be sorry, and let me take you to the ball tonight!” Lily thought for a moment as to what to do, before leaning across the table and kissing James on the lips quickly, looking into his eyes as she pulled away she said, “I love you James.” James had never had that said to him, at least not by anyone he wasn’t related to by blood or by friendship, but the feelings and thoughts that had lead James to apologize also helped him realize that there was nothing to stop him from telling her the same. “I love you too Lily – and I will until the day I die!” “WOOHOO!” erupted from the end of the Gryffindor table, followed quickly be a ruffling in the air ending in the arrival of Sirius, Amanda, Susan and Remus. “He made us do it” said Susan, pointing at Sirius. “What?!” shouted Sirius, “This was your idea!” Susan just blushed and ran up to sit beside Lily. “We better get the decorating started, otherwise it won’t be done in time for tonight” said Amanda as she sat down on the other side of Lily. “Where’s Peter?” asked James, looking around the hall. “When he heard that there was help needed in the form of work – he came down sick” replied Remus disgustedly. “Ahh!” replied James, Peter, though not normally a wet blanket was never one for volunteering to help when not needed too. “Well Remus and I have to get moving anyway” said Lily, looking at Remus who just nodded. “We’ll catch you guys later; we’ll be running around the school if you need us!” “Enjoy!” everyone shouted at the retreating pair of house heads. “Shall we get started then?” said Amanda, receiving nods from her minions she continued, “First we’re going to need to move the tables off to the sides, so that it makes it easier to work.” So for the next fifteen or so minutes, the four slowly moved the tables over to the side of the great hall, leaving a great empty space in the center, allowing for easier access to decorate. “We’re going to have to move the tables back after we’ve transfigured them” Amanda said, eliciting groans from the boys, “but they’ll be in a special pattern, and covered with table cloths.” “Now, we need to get all the decorations from our room, then bring them down here and… decorate!” said Susan happily, starting off towards the door, immediately followed by Amanda. “This is going to be a long afternoon” mumbled Sirius to James, who nodded in reply as the two followed the girls out. Making their way up to the common room, then back down – the boys lugging two full boxes of decorations – to the great hall took no more then ten minutes, the girls obviously in a rush to get everything done as quickly as possible. “Ok” said Amanda, “the love hearts which are in that box Sirius” she indicated to the box Sirius had just put down, “need to be charmed with a permanent levitating charm and let to fly around the hall.” “Amanda and I will work on transfiguring these” she said, pointing to a box at her feet, “into small little cupid’s which will fly around all night. That just leaves the tables and we’ll finish that when we get everything else done.” For the next hour and a half, the four worked steadily at their assigned tasks. James and Sirius individually charm each red heart and then sending it up to flutter around up above the floor. Susan and Amanda made quick work of the streamers and balloons that they had, and then moved on to transfiguring what turned out to be little plants, into cupids – which then went and joined the hearts up above. “Thank goodness we’re nearly done” said Sirius, “my wand hand is getting cramp.” “We’ve only got the tables left” shouted Amanda from across the room, “I’ll give you a hand massage afterwards,” at this Sirius brightened up considerably. “Lucky bugger!” mumbled James, before shrieking at being poked in the ribs from behind. “I’m sure I can find something special for you later” said Lily, laughing at James reaction, having just crept up on him. “Don’t do that!” retorted James, turning back to his charming. “Don’t mind him Lils” explained Sirius, “he’s just a bit grumpy at the moment, aren’t ya Prongsy?” he said, poking James with his wand before James swatted him away. “See!” “Can we help?” asked Remus who was standing beside Lily laughing. “Um – you can start transfiguring the tables into round tables” said Amanda after a moment of thinking. “Then the boy’s can help you, if they’re nearly done?” she said questioningly, looking at the boys. “We’ll be done in a couple of minutes” said Sirius, before charming another heart and sending it up amongst the others. The work sped along with the arrival of Remus and Lily, the boy’s finishing their charming and helping transfigure and move the tables out onto the floor. The hall was now abuzz with fluttering hearts amongst the roof and cupids swooping around the hall. With red and white streamers lining the walls, pink balloons dancing merrily away at the tables, which all had white tablecloths. “The house-elves will set the tables when they bring the food” explained James, “they’re using the ‘special’ cutlery set!” “Then we’re done!” said Amanda happily, ready to go continue getting ready for the night. “Right?” Lily nodded, “That’s right! Now let’s go get read” she said, running out of the room followed by Susan and Amanda. “What do you guys want to do?” asked Remus, “We’ve got about two hours until it starts.” “Wizards chess?” asked Sirius after a moments thought. “Why not!” replied Remus turning to the door. “It looks good boys!” “It does at that!” concluded James as he followed Sirius and Remus up to the common room, where they sat down in front of the fire with their chess set. Sirius sat watching James and Remus play chess, however Remus was dominating this game, as had become somewhat expected. They had played since they got back from the common room, and now both Sirius and Remus were dressed in their formal robes. However James was still rooted to his seat, pondering his next move. “James – you have to get ready!” said Remus, sound exasperated. “Don’t try and distract me Moony – I’m going to beat you this time” he replied, admitting defeat not one of his strong points. Moony just sat down again and watched the board, until James finally moved his piece. Right away, Remus moved his Bishop in and checkmated James. “Checkmate – and that’s game!” said Remus, “Now go get ready!” James just looked at the board stunned, having put so much time into the one move only to see himself checkmated. After a couple of minutes, slowly getting up and still watching the board, James turned around and went and got ready. “That might have been a little harsh” chuckled Sirius. “Maybe – but if I hadn’t, he would never have gone and gotten ready” replied Remus definitely. “Now all we have to do is wait for the girls” he continued, “and who knows how long they’re going to take.” “Oh” came the reply from the girl’s hallway, “not as long as you’d think.” It was Susan, coming out of the entrance to the girl’s dorms. Remus stood there speechless, not sure what to say as his girlfriend stepped around the corner. She was wearing a sky blue dress with thin straps over the shoulder’s, her white hair was hanging straight down, cascading over her shoulders and the sides of her head. The dress hugged her upper body until it reached her hips, where it spilled down to the ground. “You look…” started Remus as he moved forward and took her hand, “You look absolutely beautiful love!” he said, Susan smiling as she heard. “And you look absolutely dapper” she replied, linking her arm with his as they moved in front of the fire. “As do you Sirius” she continued. “You leave my man alone” said another voice from the hall, moments later revealing Amanda. She was wearing a strapless jade green gown, with her hair curled even more and hanging down around her face, the dress highlighting and illuminating her eyes. Her dress also hugged her upper body, but only loosened enough around her legs so that she could walk. Sirius just stood there staring, mouth hanging open, as Amanda walked up to him. “You OK honey?” she asked with an evil grin on her face. “You… uh… um…” stammered Sirius, causing Amanda to giggle. “You look” said Sirius, starting again, “absolutely, positively, stunning!” he said, then proceeding to wrap her up in a hug and swing her round, making her squeal. “What’s going on down here” said James, as he entered the room, stunned to see both the girls looking so good. “Wow! You two look great!” he said. “You’re one’s coming any minute” said Amanda, looking at James after finally being let go by Sirius. “Ohhh” came the final voice from the hall way, “it’s much less then that” said Lily, as she stepped around the corner. Lily was wearing a pale white strapless gown, which came out at the hips and flowed around her, only barely touching the ground. Her hair was curled and in a bun, with curls hanging down the side of her face. “Wow!” was all James managed to get out for a couple of seconds, as he stared at Lily. “You look gorgeous” he said after awhile, “absolutely gorgeous Lils.” Lily beamed, she had worried that James wouldn’t notice, but the effort had all been worth it to see the look on his face. “Well I’m glad you like it” she said, noticing the arrival of more students coming out of their hallways. “Now we better get down there now, we have to be there earlier then everyone else.” The others nodded and headed towards the entrance to the common room, leaving the room to fill with nervous girls and nervous boys. When the six arrived in the main hall, they were met by Professor Dumbledore, who was beaming. “You have all done a wonderful job” he told them, “especially you two!” he finished, looking at Lily and Remus. “It was our pleasure sir!” replied Remus, “I hope the rest goes of as well as this looks” he said, indicating the room with a sweep of his arm. “As do I” replied Dumbledore, “Now I’d grab a table if I were you” he said, indicating the arrival of more students. With that, he turned around and swept off towards some of the other teachers. “After you?” said James, looking at his friends. “Peter will be sitting with his dates friends” he continued, “didn’t want to put her through Sirius and myself apparently” he laughed as he moved to the table they had chosen. Within ten minutes the great hall had filled to capacity, with all the students from fifth year and up there, and some fourth and third years that had been lucky enough to be invited by an older student. The other students that were not lucky enough to make it had been asked to stay in the common rooms, where food was provided for everyone. Susan and Amanda had gone over to talk to the band, which at the moment was nameless, and were chatting animatedly, sometimes pointing at their boyfriends. However when Amanda and Susan returned to the table, the band started playing – followed immediately by a rush to the ‘dance floor’ that had been set up in front of the band. “Come on Sirius” Amanda whined, “I want to dance.” Sirius looked lost, not being very well known for his dancing skills. “But…” he started, but that was all he got out as he was physically dragged out onto the floor by Amanda. Susan looked at Remus with a hint in her eyes that suggested the same fate awaited him if he didn’t cooperate; Remus just looked forlorn and followed Susan out. “Well?” asked James, “Would you like to dance?” he asked Lily, taking her hand in his. “Not just yet” she said softly, almost unheard due to the band. “I just want to stand here a bit” she added, squeezing his hand and linking her fingers with his. The night proceeded smoothly, with dinner starting after about half an hour of dancing, followed by more dancing and the dessert. Then the band decided to play some soft songs, in recognition of it being Valentines Day – allowing all the official couples of Hogwarts, and a few wannabes, to get up and dance. James and Lily had danced a little bit earlier, but when James looked at Lily neither spoke, but just stood up and went out and danced; accompanied by Sirius and Amanda, and Remus and Susan. “This is nice” whispered Lily into James’ ear, “dancing with you… its nice!” “I always thought that dancing with me would be nice” whispered back James, eliciting a giggle from Lily. “Silly! Isn’t it nice dancing with me?” she laughed, looking up into his eyes. James didn’t respond at once, looking down at Lily smiling. Out of the corner of his eye he could see a small group of people leaving the great hall. This was nothing interesting until he noticed that it was Malfoy and his minions. Quickly casting a glance over towards Dumbledore, who had also noticed the departure – but shook his head at James. “Dancing with you is fantastic” said James to Lily, diverting his attention back to her. “Doing anything with you, is fantastic” he added, brushing her cheek with his hand. The moment seemed so perfect to Lily, as she slowly, very slowly, tilted her head towards James’, their faces slowly being drawn to each other. However the moment was ruined by a flash of green accompanied by an almighty crash from a far corner. Screams flooded the hall as everybody turned to see a corner of the great hall gone, furthest from the dance floor. Just as the screams were subsiding, another blinding flash of green light shot through gaping hole, and Professor Emerson, the Astronomy teacher, who had been going to check out the cause of the explosion, fell lifeless to the floor. Screams filled the great hall again as what appeared to be dozens of robed figures strolled into the gaping hole. “Surprise!” A/N: Well, there you go - I know it's a cliffhanger, but I like them. Thanks everyone for reading!

And thank you to everybody who recommended me for the Top 5 Marauder / Prongs stories. It's ... WOW! Please continue to review - but make sure you actually read the story before reviewing!

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