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They all exited the office feeling much more happier. “So that’s why Snape hasn’t told the whole school.” James said as they made their way towards the Common Room again. “D’you think there’s gonna be any changes then between him and us, then?” Peter asked. “Dunno, guess we’ll just have to see.” Sirius said as they stepped into the Common Room. It was empty except for one person who was reading a book in one of the armchairs. It was Lily. Sirius stopped. This was the first time for them seeing each other since he had kissed Courtney. She looked up, then seeing who it was, she shut her book quickly and rose up out of her chair to leave. “No. Lily, please sit. Can we talk? Please?” Sirius asked her gently, feeling horrible. Lily gave him a reproachful look… then sat down slowly on the couch where she was not facing him. “C’mon guys.” Remus said, ushering Peter and a curious-looking James towards the dormitory steps and out of sight. Sirius made his way over to her, taking a seat next to her on the couch. She was not looking at him, but staring determinedly at the fire that was burning brightly in the fireplace in front of her. “Lily….” He began, but he didn’t get to say more; Lily had thrown her arms around him, dropping her book to the floor, and began to sob violently. Sirius hugged her tightly, all of his emotions gathering up so powerfully inside him that they caused him to burst into tears. “I’m sorry.” He choked, “I’m so so sorry.” “Me too.” She squeaked. After a good five minutes, they broke away. “I still care about you, Lily.” Sirius said, wiping away his teary eyes, “Up in Dumbledore’s office just now… I figured out how I felt, and I’m sorry I broke your heart. I’m such a damn jerk.” She gave him another hug. “You’re not a jerk Sirius. You’re the best guy in the world. I was just too stubborn… I was asking for you to—to kiss her. I promise I’ll be better. I won’t drive you crazy anymore. We can try again.” Sirius smiled lightly, but then he realized something. “No, Lily—I can’t.” He pulled away and placed his hands on her shoulders. He gazed into her eyes, every ounce of him hurting as he strained to tell her what he had to say next, “I can’t be your boyfriend again.” “W-Why?” She sniffed. “Because someone else likes you.” Sirius said quickly, trying to get this out before he could change his mind. “And he’s a great guy…” “Who is it?” She asked, “I only love you, Sirius… I won’t like him, I know it.” Sirius’s gulped and shut his eyes. His throat was twisting painfully. He loved her too… but he knew what he had to do. “I can’t… because he’s my best friend… James Potter.” Sirius said, his eyes brimming with tears. Lily hiccupped. Her face dropped. “I-I had no idea.” She said in surprise. “He’s liked you since he first saw you on the train.” Sirius told her, “And I think you should give him a shot.” Lily looked down at her feet. “Listen Lily, this doesn’t mean that I don’t care about you. I think we can still be very good friends, right?” Lily looked up, “Yeah…” She said, nodding and leaning forward to give him another teary hug. Sirius shut his eyes again; every bit of him wanted her back… but he knew he couldn’t be with her again. Not only because of James… because he knew he never wanted to hurt her again. She’s way too beautiful for some idiot like me to ever make her cry… He thought as they sat there in the Common Room in each other’s arms in front of the fire. They had ended their relationship—for good this time. The end of term came quickly. Sirius and the rest of the Marauders threw a going away party in the Common Room, which was very successful for first years, but they had a little help from the house elves down in the kitchen. Lily and Sirius had built a strong friendship together, and she even began talking to James once in a while now. Snape hadn’t spoken to or approached them yet, and had kept his word to Dumbledore about Remus. Their exam results had also come back and they had passed all of their subjects. Sirius and James made their way towards the Great Hall to the Leaving Feast, talking excitedly about who they thought had won the cup. “—It should be us—we won the Quiddich Cup after all.” “Yeah, I hope so Prongs.” “—That is if all the points you’ve cost the house over the year didn’t add up to be too much!” They heard from just up ahead. Sirius and James, who were just about to descend the marble staircase, looked down to the Entrance Hall to see Remus, Peter, Lily, and Andromeda all standing there waiting to meet them. Sirius smiled. They all headed to the feast together. They took their usual seats at the Gryffindor table and talked about the year together, bringing up the funny, the scary, and the greatest moments they had had. At the end of the feast, Dumbledore rose to make his closing speech, and the whole hall fell silent at once. “Another year has come to an end.” He said, looking out to all the students assembled in the Hall. “Too quickly… some may agree with me on that.” He added. Sirius smiled glumly; Dumbledore was right about that. He didn’t want to go home at all. “The results for the House Cup are in, and so, I will begin announcing the points each house has earned, starting with fourth place.” Sirius saw every single head in the hall was staring fixedly up at Dumbledore as he said this. “Hufflepuff, in fourth place, with two hundred and fifty-six points.” There was a dull smattering of polite applause. “In third place, Slytherin, with two hundred and seventy-eight points.” (“Ha!” James cried.) “In second place, Ravenclaw, with three hundred and fifty points.” Sirius’s stomach did a backflip and he felt as if someone had just set off a load of fireworks that were now exploding inside him. Everyone was waiting for it… “And the winner of the House Cup, with three hundred and sixty-five points, for the first time in seven years, is… Gryffindor House.” The table exploded. Sirius was beside himself with joy. There was a sea of black hats being thrown into the air and Sirius was pounding a fist into the air in triumph as screams filled his ears. The Marauders all slapped hands and laughed happily, happier than they’d been in months. “Man, I’m going to miss this place….” Sirius said, throwing some of his clothes into his trunk to go home. It was the next morning; the day they were heading back home. “Yeah, me too.” James sighed, holding his cloak out in front of him once more before he lowered it into his trunk. “That makes three of us.” Remus said, shutting his won trunk and fastening it shut. “What am I, in another house?” Peter cried in a mock-undignified voice from on top of his already-packed trunk. They all laughed. After they had packed all of their things, the four of them headed down into the entrance hall, looking glum. “Hey, maybe you can come over or something.” James suggested to them all. “That’d be cool.” Remus said. “—just make sure you check your calendar though….” Sirius informed James. James cast him a puzzled look. “Well, you gotta check what stage the moon’s on, you know.” Sirius said. Remus smirked. “Yeah, cause that’d be wicked if I transformed in the middle of ‘truth or dare.’” Sirius chortled loudly along with the others as the doors to the entrance hall opened, revealing the many carriages that would lead them to Hogsmeade Station. When they got on the Hogwarts Express, they found a compartment about halfway down the train. They settled themselves in and Sirius slid the door closed, ready as he was ever going to be for the long journey home. A few people stopped by their compartment to say hello, including Lily, Gloria, Daveigh, and Andromeda--also Gideon and Longbottom. Though right after the snack trolley had passed by, a loud sharp knock sounded on the compartment door. Sirius looked up. It was Avery and the rest of Snape’s gang, minus Snape. Sirius pulled open the door, removing his wand from the pocket of his jeans secretly as he did. “What do you want?” He shot. “Why, hello Sirius.” Avery said, sneering unpleasantly, “Just thought we’d stop by and say goodbye to you all... and also give you a little something for the road!” He said quickly, whipping out his wand along with several other people around him. Flashes of light emitted from all over the compartment, from many different wands. Several different voices cried out mixed curses and hexes, all of which were inaudible because they had all been yelled at the same time. When the compartment came back into focus, the bodies of Avery, Rosier, Wilkes, Bellatrix, and Lestrange all lay scattered all over the corridor and some even halfway into the compartment. Their forms looked hideous from all the different spells that had been used. The only person left standing in the corridor, his wand still raised in the air, was Severus Snape. “Severus?” Remus cried in disbelief, looking from him to the unconscious pile on the floor. Snape looked around at them, lowering his wand. They said nothing but were all looking at him, unable to speak. “What?” He spat. “You... hexed them too?” Sirius asked incredulously. “Yes Black, very good.” He said patronizingly; his feelings towards them all seemed unchanged. “I thought you and Dumbledore had a talk.” James said, narrowing his eyes. “We did.” Snape said curtly, “We agreed for me to not tell anyone where shabby boy went once a month, not to be all buddy-buddy with you lot.” “But why did you just help us then?” Sirius asked. “Because I owe Potter one... and Avery’s been pissing me off lately anyways.” Snape snapped, “Don’t expect me to change—wait until next year.” And with that, he turned sharply on his heel and headed back down the corridor. Sirius grinned and shook his head. The rest of the ride was spent talking, reflecting on the years past events. Especially what had happened in the Shrieking Shack. “Hmm... I expect we’ll be at King’s Cross in about fifteen more minutes.” James said, checking his watch when they had finished talking in depth about rescuing Snape from Remus. “Oh—Wait!” Remus cried suddenly, pulling something out of his pocket. It was the Marauder’s Map. “I forgot, who’s going to take this for the summer?” James, Sirius, and Peter exchanged a quick glance with each other and all agreed silently. “You, Rem.’” James said, smiling. “Wait—it’s not finished yet!” Sirius said, holding out his hand for it. He took it then pulled out a quill and ink bottle from his trunk overhead. The others watched as he dipped his quill in the ink and wrote “Messrs. Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs Surveyors of Aids to Magical Mischief-Makers are proud to present: The Marauder’s Map.” After he was done, he looked up to find them all grinning down at it fondly. “Oh... and I forgot to tell you guys that I added a few things to it.” Remus said, holding out his hand and removing his wand from his robes at the same time. Sirius handed over the map, putting his quill and ink bottle aside. Remus opened the map and held his wand over it. “Mischief managed.” He muttered, tapping his wand sharply on the surface. The map began to wipe clean instantly, the whole thing turning blank. Sirius, James, and Peter looked amazed. “Wow....” Peter whispered. “And... I was counting on you three to add some anti-theft stuff to it with me... so if anyone tries to read it, a few pre-written insults will appear on it for them to read.” Remus said, looking up at all of them excitedly. “Wow, how does that work?” James asked. “You have to write down something that we think some creep might use to try and see this... and then we write stuff we want them to see... like, for instance...” He said, motioning towards Sirius for the quill and ink bottle. “I, Severus Snape,” Remus said aloud as he wrote it, “wish to know what you contain.” He said slowly. “Queryneo.” He muttered, dotting a period at the end of the sentence. The letters glowed red, and then began fading away, as if it were seeping through the parchment. “Wicked.” Sirius gasped in complete fascination, “Can we write our insults now?!” “Yep.” Remus said, grinning, “I’ll show you all how it’s done first though.” He dipped the quill in the ink bottle and wrote: ‘Mr. Moony says no and thinks that Severus Snape is a greasy prat.’ After, he said, “Insultus”—which caused the letters to turn gold, and then slowly fade away as the red had done. “Ho!” James cried, slapping his knee and looking simply overjoyed at this, “Me next!” James took it and quickly scribbled down, “Mr. Prongs doesn’t feel like disclosing anything to such a nosy git,” repeating “Insultus” just like Remus had done. James handed the ink bottle and quill, along with the map, to Sirius. Sirius bit the end of the quill, staring down at the floor of the compartment in thought. “Mr. Padfoot would soon rather give Snape the finger than let him view a thing.” Peter was next. He paused, like Sirius, before he wrote to think. “Mr. Wormtail would also like to say that Snape should consider getting a nose reduction.” It took a while for them to all recover from laughing so hard after each insult that one of then wrote, but when they did, they began writing more and more insults for the rest of the ride. They had mostly insulted Snape, but they soon moved on to the rest of his gang, including Avery, Rosier, Wilkes, Bellatrix, and Lestrange—who they had ended up pushing into a nearby empty compartment earlier. “D’you think ‘ugly git’ about sums Snivelly up?” James asked them all. “Yeah.” Sirius said, nodding, “Go for it. I already know what I’m going to put next.” He said, rubbing his hands together eagerly. “What?” James asked, “Insultus.” “Let’s see... ‘Mr. Padfoot... would like to register... his astonishment... that an idiot like that ever became... a pro-fes-sor.’ Insultus.” They all chuckled loudly as Sirius handed the map off to Peter. “Hey, how do you see the map again anyway?” James asked. “Oh... hold on.” Remus said as Peter muttered ‘Insultus.’ “Alright, lemme see that Wormtail.” Remus said, holding out a hand. He took the map and smoothed it out, raising his wand again and clearing his throat. “I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.” Remus said, tapping the wand on the map like he did before to wipe it clean. Instantly, lines criss-crossed in every direction to draw out the map. Remus smiled just as the train came to a halt. They all looked outside the window; they had arrived at King’s Cross. “Aw man...” Sirius grumbled, taking huis quill and ink bottle from Peter and placing it back into his trunk. He fastened it shut and pulled it down off of the luggage rack, taking his time. “Mischief Managed.” Remus said quickly, wiping the map clean again. He looked down at it, then back up at the others. “Are you sure you don’t want to take--” “—No.” They all said in unison as they took their trunks down and began making their way out of the compartment. Sirius pulled down Remus’s trunk and gave it to him, sighing deeply. “Thanks.” Remus said, taking it and putting the map quickly inside of it. “Alright, back home I guess?” James said to them all before they headed out into the corridor. “Yeah.” Peter said. “Mmm hmm.” Remus muttered. “Wish I wasn’t.” Sirius sighed. They headed off of the train, James emerging first, followed by Remus, Peter, and Sirius. “Hi mum!” Remus said brightly to a witch who was standing a little ways away from them, towards the right. “This is James, Sirius, and Peter.” He said to her, pointing them all out. She smiled politely, nodding. “Yes, Remus has told me all about you all... and your little adventures too.” She added, looking around at them all and letting out a chuckle. “Thank you for being such good friends to my son.” She said, all seriousness in her voice now. “I am so grateful.” “No problem, Mrs. L.” Sirius said, grinning. James and Peter nodded in agreement. “Bye, you guys.” Remus said, waving to them as his mother began to exit the station. “Bye Moony!” James called. “Bye Remus!” Sirius and Peter chorused, watching as one of their number left. “Oh, there’s my dad.” Peter said suddenly, noticing a man that was leaning casually against the barrier. “Bye James... bye Sirius... hope the summer goes by quick!” Sirius and James waved as Peter ran off towards his father. They both heaved a sigh at the exact same time, afterwards laughing at themselves. “Sirius?” Sirius turned to see Lily, her parents at her side. “Hi.” He said pleasantly. “Well... just wanted to wish you a good summer.” She said. “Yeah, you too.” Sirius said, grinning. She hugged him tightly, then she turned to James and hugged him also. James looked like he was in shock when she pulled away. “I-I’ll miss you guys!” She said to them, “and tell Remus and Peter that I’m sorry I missed them, okay?” “Okay!” Sirius told her as she left with her parents. Sirius and James were left standing alone again. Sirius looked up at James then laughed. He couldn’t help it because of the look that was still on James’s face from Lily hugging him; he had this extremely goofy smile. Sirius shook his head before looking around again. In a short time, he spotted his mother and Regulus standing next to a more friendly pair of people on their left—James’s parents. Sirius nudged James. “There’s your mum and dad.” He said, pointing. They waved happily back to them, Sirius smiling. His mother and brother had just spotted them also. They dragged their trunks over to them. His mother looked a little happy at least. “Hey dorkface.” Regulus spat. “Gee, I missed you too.” Sirius said sarcastically, shaking his head as he turned to look at James and his parents. “Hi.” He said to Mr. and Mrs. Potter, beaming up at them. “Hello Sirius dear.” Mrs. Potter said, “We’ve just been talking to your mother about Quiddich. Seems she had no idea you had made it onto your house team... or that you even got into Gryffindor house for that matter...” She added. Sirius looked up at his mother, who was smiling and acting nice—he knew she was just putting on an act. He looked back at James, now feeling anger towards his mother. “See you next year then?” He muttered glumly. “Yeah—maybe sooner.” James said with a wink. Sirius smiled, feeling happier. “Keep in touch, Sirius.” Mr. Potter said, clapping a hand on Sirius’s shoulder. “Okay.” Sirius said, waving goodbye to them. “Goodbye Sirius. Nice to meet you, Mrs. Black.” Mrs. Potter said politely to Sirius’s mom. His mom gave her a curt nod while Sirius beamed back at James’s mother. Sirius watched the Potters as they disappeared from the station, feeling a sense of emptiness welling up inside of him as he watched them go. “Come on, Sirius. Let’s go.” His mother said to him sternly. “Gryffindor... I tell you. What a shame....” Sirius laughed to himself as he followed his mother and brother, tuning out his mother’s words and Regulus’s taunts as he thought of the next time he’d be back inside the castle... back with three of his best friends.

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