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“Lils! Class starts in ten minutes what in Merlin’s name are you doing?!”

Lily looked once more in her mirror and with an aggravated groan, picked her mascara up again. “Just a second, Arianna!”

She smiled when she heard Arianna’s foot stomp in a childish tantrum. She could just picture it in her mind. Arianna, blue frosted tips flowing behind her, stamping her foot, crossing her arms and pouting her lips.

“Lils! Honestly! If this is over some bloke I swear to Merlin I’ll-”

“You ready?” Lily appeared at the bottom of the stairs.

Arianna shrieked in surprise. “Ack! Lily!” She shoved Lily ungracefully towards the portrait hole. “Almost gave me a bloody heart attack . . .” She mumbled as they reached the portrait.

“I thought today was green day.” Lily glanced at Arianna’s tips.

Without missing a step Arianna continued to trudge to the portrait hole. “Today is Wednesday, Lils. It’s blue day.”

Lily smiled to herself. “Of course.”

Arianna finally reached the portrait, Lily in tow, and was about to open it when it sprung open. Startled, the two girls jumped back and in a combination of tripping over themselves, their messenger bags, and the rug, ended up on their backsides as James, Sirius, and Remus stepped through the portrait hole.

"R-R-Remus." Lily stuttered in surprise at the sandy blonde standing before her.

Remus chuckled to himself. "Miss Evans, what are you doing down there?"

Lily blushed scarlet as Remus reached a hand out to help her to her feet. Lily turned as Remus was dusting dirt off her back and saw Arianna, who winked at her with a mischievous grin, experiencing a similar scene with Sirius. Only Arianna was not blushing. Arianna never blushed. Ever.

Sometimes I hate being a redhead. Lily thought.

"Hey Remus." James walked over to where Lily and Remus were standing. Remus's back was to James so James didn't see him roll his eyes. "This looks . . . cozy." James's voice was flat and his eyes were anrrowed.

Remus looked away from Lily, blushing to Lily's surprise and delight.

James's arms were crossed againt his chest and he was frowning.

Remus bowed slightly to Lily and winked at her before turning and walking over to Sirius and Arianna.

"Why were you on your rump on the ground dear Evans?" James said in a silky voice that made Lily bristle.

Lily huffed and crossed her arms over her own chest. "Why did you throw the portrait open and knock me down?"

"Why were you standing in front of it?"

"Why were you wandering into the common room instead of going to class?"

"Why do you want to know?"

"Why don't you ever follow the rules like normal people and go to class?"

"Why do you always follow the rules like everyone else and go to class?"

"Why do you have such a disregard for the rules?"

"Why do you care so much?" He raised an eyebrow.

"Why don't you?!" She exclaimed, exasperated. Arguing with James was always extremely tiresome. His logic ran around in circles. Very small circles.

James snorted and threw his hands in the air. "Why do you always have to be so bloody perfect, Evans?"

Lily was speechless for a moment and the anger drained out of her. Her head drooped and she hid her face as she turned and ran to the staircase and disappeared up it.

"Lily, wait I-" James started but stopped when he realized she wasn't going to hear him anyways.

"What did you do this time, James?" Arianna wondered, coming over to his side, Remus and Sirius trailing after her.

"I don't know . . . I hadn't even asked her out yet and she took off running .. ."

"Maybe she's learned to simply anticipate it, considering you've never had a conversation where you haven't asked her at least once." Sirius chuckled, patting him on the back.

"What did you do?" Remus came up to the group, looking anxiously up at the stairs Lily had disappeared up.

"Oh, didn't you hear?" Arianna turned towards Remus. "They were yelling quite loudly this time."

"Why do you always have to fight with her?" Remus put his hands in his pockets and started to walk towards the portrait hole, asking it more to himself, but the others heard it anyways.

Sirius's gaze met James's over Arianna's head, Arianna was rather vertically challenged, both raising their eyebrows.

"Now wait a second, Remus." Sirius started after the sandy blonde, James directly behind him. "What was that?"

Remus stopped walking, his back to his two best friends and took a deep breath. After a moment he let the air out and he shook his head. "Nothing." He said without looking back, and then continued his walk to the portrait hole and left the room.

Sirius and James were left staring at the portrait as if there was some thought they were trying to process, but couldn't quite get their minds to wrap around it.

"You don't think he. . ." Sirius started.

"Nah . . ." James said in an unconvinced voice. "Not Moony." He ran a hand through his hair. "Not Lily."

Sirius nodded numbly. "Right. Cause Remus hasn't ever been like that for a girl right?"

James nodded. "Right."

"Still . . . you don't think . . ."

"No way."

Arianna, who was still left standing in the room stomped her foot in aggravation. "What are you two going on about now!?"

Sirius, ignoring Arianna's temper tantrum, set a hand on James's back. "Hey." James looked up at his surrogate brother. "Remus wouldn't do that . . . he knows how you feel."

James nodded, not convinced.

"Besides, she doesn't like him. Right Arianna?"

Arianna gasped. "Oh, sure. Now I'm in the room. Now that you need something. I mean, I've only been standing here for the past five minutes trying to get your attention."

James stalked over to Arianna and grabbed her arms. "Lily doesn't fancy Remus, right Arianna? Right Arianna?"

Arianna cringed and looked beseechingly towards Sirius, who was slouching on the end of the couch arm, also waiting for Arianna's answer.

"Come on guys. I mean, so what if she does?"

James groaned and let go of Arianna, then ran to the couch and buried his head in a cushion.

"Honestly, James. You're acting as if it's the end of the world."

"It is!" He cried, the sound a bit muffled by a red and gold pillow. "It's the end of everything!"

Arianna rolled her eyes. "What about this ingenious plan to get Lily to notice you?" She asked.

"How do you know about that?" He squeaked, popping his head from behind the pillow.

"Sirius told me."

James glared at the black haired boy who shrugged.

"What is the world coming to!?" He cried into his pillow. "My best friend is telling my secrets to some girl and my other best friend is trying to steal Lily! What have I done to deserve this!?"

Sirius's eyes met Arianna's and they both rolled their eyes.

*~*~*~*~*~~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~~*~*~*~

"Lily?" Arianna called as she slowly opened the door to the dormitory. The room was dark and she heard a sniffling and then silence. She stepped into the room and closed the door behind her and there was scuffling noise at the back of the room. "Lily, are you alright?" She stepped in the direction she thought was Lily's bed. "Are you crying?"

Luminos was muttered and the room came into sudden brightness. Lily was sitting on her bed smiling. "What are you doing Rini?" She said, using Arianna's nickname.

Arianna cringed. "You know, you'd think a nickname like that would wear off, but no, lucky me, I've been stuck with it for six years."

Lily smiled again then quickly frowned. "We're going to be late for class!"

Rini started laughing. "Darling, we are late for class."

Lily gasped and vaulted off the bed towards the door and ran down the stairs, Rini right behind her, laughing the whole way.

"Where are you two off to?" Sirius shouted to them as they streaked by.

"Class!" Lily gasped.

Arianna burst out laughing. "I told you she'd be fine!" She called out over her shoulder as they flew out the portrait hole.

"Is she gone?" James asked from the floor by the couch.
"What are you doing down there Prongs?" Sirius laughed, noticing that his friend was face first on the carpet.

"Is she gone?"

"Who, Lily? Yeah, they've gone to class." He hauled James up by the arm. "And I suppose we should too. Remus probably saved us seats in the back."

James pretended that the thought of Remus didn't make him mad and followed Sirius out the door.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

"Miss Evans." Professor Zinkloni drawled as they entered the Transfiguration room. "You are late."

"Oh, I know but we were going to be on time, but then we got hit and we fell and then he helped me up but I shouldn't really talk about that but then they knocked us over and we were on our way to class and then we started fighting and we were going to be on time but then I had to run back up to the dorms and then Arianna had to come get me and then we ran out the common room and we ran all the way here and we really were going to be on time!" Lily ended, nodding.

Arianna snorted behind her hand and tried to hide her laughter at the professor's blank expression.

"I'm sure somewhere in there was a brilliant excuse Miss Evans. Please find a seat." He said in a bored tone, as if he had heard every excuse under the sun.

Rini grabbed the gaping Lily's hand and pulled her to the back of the room. "I really thought for sure he was going to give us detention." She whispered to Rini.

They walked to the back of the room, passing Remus, who sat alone, on the way. Remus smiled at the two girls and gestured for them to come to him.

"What's up Remie?" Arianna sat down next to him and ruffled his hair.

Remus smiled at them. "Where's James and Sirius?"

Lily cringed at the mention of James’s name while Rini answered, “We passed Sirius on our way down, I’m sure they’ll be along in a few minutes, you know how they are.”

Remus nodded and Rini stood to continue down to the back of the room. Lily turned to follow but Remus caught her hand. Stunned, Lily turned to look down at him.

“Can we talk later Lils?”

“Sure.” She managed to squeak out without fainting. He nodded with a small smile and released her hand. She floated back to where Arianna was sitting and flopped into the chair next to her.

“What did Remie want?” Arianna asked while she dug through her messenger back for her textbook.

“To talk later.” Lily said breathlessly.

Rini stopped her rummaging. “To talk later?” She said, puzzled. “Whatever for?”

“I have no idea.” Lily replied, gazing off into space with a glazed expression.

“Oh no.” Rini said, setting her newly found book on the table, startling Lily. “You cannot fancy Remie. You simply cannot.

“How many years have you called him Remie?”

“Since we were like three. Cousins get to do that. Don’t change the subject.”

Lily sighed.

Arianna groaned. “James will kill me if he finds out that I let this happen.” She took Lily by the shoulders and shook her. “Snap out of it Lils!”

“Miss Rupertin! It’s bad enough that you were late for my class. There is no need to cause such a disruption. If it continues you will be dismissed from the room. Do you understand?”

“Yes, Professor.” Arianna responded, angelic smile and halo in place. As soon as he turned his back she grabbed Lily’s shoulders again. “Snap out of it Lils! I’m telling you! Remus and you are not meant to happen!”

Lily looked at her friend oddly. “What do you mean by that?”

Rini sighed and looked down at the book, mumbling something.

“Merlin! You are on James’s side, aren’t you!? I can’t believe it! My own best friend! Fraternizing with my enemy!”

“Miss Evans! If you ladies insist on disrupting perhaps it would have been better for you to have skipped class entirely. I will reward detention for the next interruption!”

“Yes, Professor!” Lily answered, back straight and hands clasped like a good little student.

Professor Zinkloni raised an eyebrow in their direction, frowned and turned back to the blackboard.

“I am not fraternizing with the enemy.” Rini whispered back as she opened up a new piece of parchment and dipped her quill in the ink well they were sharing.

“Then what’s the problem with me fancying Remus?” She asked irritably.

“Because you’re supposed to like Ja- . . . Because he’s my cousin and you’re my best friend. That’s icky!”

Lily shook her head and turned to Arianna, taking her hands. “Rini, if it does bother you. I won’t do it. You mean more to me than some bloke and you’ve been there for me the past few months more than ever. Even when they-” she gestured to the room around them “-start on me. So tell me truthfully. Would it really bother you if I fancied Remus? You mean more to me than that.”

Arianna gulped. What was she supposed to say now? “Not at all.” She replied. James is going to kill me

“Welcome Mister Potter. Mister Black.” Their attentions were drawn to the front of the class.

“Why, good day Professor Zinkloni! We have come to absorb everything and anything you wish us to absorb into our puny minds this day!”

“Which won’t be much if history is to prove anything.” Professor Zinkloni mumbled dryly. “I suppose thirty minutes late is better than never.”

“Thirty minutes?” James exclaimed. “You hear that, Sirius? We improved by five minutes! Last time we were thirty-five minutes late!”

“Imagine that!”

“Yes.” Professor Zinkloni continued dryly. “Imagine that. You may take your seats now.” He suggested.

James and Sirius bowed gallantly to him, earning appreciative chuckles from the class, and turned to find seats. Sirius started towards Remus as soon as he saw him, but James hung back.

“What's wrong, Prongs?” Sirius asked when he noticed James wasn’t following him.

James shook his head. “Nothing.” He said, looking up at Sirius.

Sirius nodded in return, knowing that when they were in the right place James would tell him.

*~*~*~*~*~*~~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~~*~*~*~

When class ended the three trudged out of the room, but Remus hung back.

“Come on Remus! It’s lunch time!” Sirius exclaimed, grabbing his arm and trying to tug him down the hall. Remus tried to not be pulled but Sirius was a lot stronger than him, and after a moment of Lily not appearing, he allowed himself to be dragged away.

Lily and Rini always hung back at the end of classes. It was an understood thing between them. Lily always procrastinated the gathering of her materials and Rini always waited for her. Then they would slowly walk to their next class. The goal was to avoid contact with the other girls. Today, for one reason or another, hanging back did not work, and they found when they entered the foyer of the Great Hall, that the way was blocked by a group of five or six other sixth year girls.

Lily hung her head. She hated having to go through this. Arianna stiffened at the sight of them and thrust her chin forward. She was a force to be reckoned with, but Lily was too kind hearted to fight back and allowed their verbal jabs to soak through her skin and get to her heart.

“Merlin, Rupertin. Didn’t your mother teach you how to do your hair properly?” The girl in front scowled as they approached and they got a full view of Rini’s blue tips.

“Didn’t your mother ever tell you that if you keep making that face, it will stay like that?” Rini retorted.

The girl frowned and there was a flurry of movement behind her. Lily looked up suddenly. They’re pulling wands. They’ve never pulled wands before.

Rini was startled at the movement. Pulling a wand was crossing the line in such an instance.

The girl in the front toyed with her wand, spinning it between her fingers. “Anything else you wanted to say, Rupertin?”

“I think I’m good.” Rini said, crossing her arms across her chest and frowning. “Come on Lils.” She said, as she started to attempt to walk around the girls.

“Woah. Just a second.” The girl, who was known as Frannie by her group of friends, held out her hand and stopped Lily mid step. “What is this . . .thing, you are wearing?” Frannie gestured to the silver chain around Lily’s neck.

Lily grasped the charm quickly in her hand. It was a fairy that her grandmother had given to her before she had died. Lily treasured it and normally kept it hidden under her school robes but it must have slipped out in the excitement of the morning.

“It’s nothing.” She protested quietly.

“Good. Give it to me.” Frannie demanded.

Lily shook her head. “I can’t. Please, it’s very special to me.” Her eyes got big and she stepped abck from them.

“ I said give it to me, Evans.” Frannie stepped forward menacingly.

“No.” Lily shook her head.

Frannie raised her wand and muttered a spell before Lily had a chance to react. Before she could register what was happening, her legs were in a binding curse and Frannie had unclasped the charm necklace and walked away with it.

Arianna was finally able to get back to Lily’s side and said the counter curse to the jinx. “Are you alright, Lils?”

Lily sniffed and shook her head then raised tear filled eyes to Rini. “She took Grandma’s necklace.” She whispered.

“She what!?” Rini went to go after the girl, but Lily grabbed her sleeve.

“They already went inside. Please don’t Rini. Remember what happened last time?”

Rini stilled and nodded. She did remember. She had had a black eye for two weeks as a reminder, in fact.

“Let’s just go in and eat.” Lily sighed.

Rini helped her to her feet and they entered the Hall together.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~~*~*~

Halfway through the meal the Headmaster stepped up to the podium and cleared his throat. The hall stilled slowly and all attention was turned to him.

“Good children, I have wonderful news. The date for the annual Hogwart’s Valentine’s Ball will be February 14th this year. The prefects will begin to plan the event with the Head boy and girl this week. Dress robes are required to attend!” Which earned a groan from the male population. “Also, newly instated, if you receive a detention the week before-” James squeaked indignantly. “-yes Mister Potter, seven days, before the ball then you will not be allowed to attend.” The crowd’s reaction was mixed, but Sirius and James were the most devastated.

“This means we’ll have to be somewhat behaved for a whole week!” Sirius cried out in disdain.

Remus smiled at his friends and accidentally met Lily’s eyes across the table. They were both still for a moment and then Remus mouthed, “Meet me outside after” to her and she numbly nodded.

“Further more, I expect exemplary behavior at this event, because we have just received word that Dragon’s Breath will be playing that night.” This news was met by loud cheering.

“They’re the hottest band around!” James yelled to Sirius. “How’d the old man get them!?”

After the commotion had died down, the students began to move out the door. Surprisingly enough, four hundred or so students trying to go out two doors at once causes quite a problem. It takes quite awhile to be able to leave the Great Hall.

Lily was walking next to Arianna when she felt someone gently grab her hand. She started and jumped but turned to find Remus pulling her away from the crowd. Either Rini didn’t notice or she pretended not to.

Lily’s mouth had gone dry. “What’s wrong Remus?”

Remus smiled. “Nothing dear Lily. I was just- . .. Well. . .” he let go of her hand and put his hands in his pockets, scuffling his feet. “I was just wondering . . . Do you want to go to the ball with me?”

Lily could have jumped for joy. “Yes.” She managed to squeak, jumping internally.

“Really?” He looked up and looked rather surprised.

“Of course I will, Remus.” She smiled.

He smiled back. “Oh, good.” he ended lamely.

“Lily!” Arianna had just realized her friend had disappeared. “Lily where are you?!”

“I better go.” She said in an apologetic voice. “I-I . . I’ll see you Remus.” She waved to him and scampered off after her friend.

James came up at that moment with Sirius. Not noticing the expression on Remus’s face he called out to Lily.

“Hey, Evans!”

Not even registering that it was James that was calling to her because of her good mood, she turned around to face who ever had called her name just as Rini came running to her side.

“You wanna go to the ball with me, Evans?”

“I can’t!” She called back without thinking. “I already have a date!” Then she put a hand to her mouth in a silent gasp and turned her back quickly on them and ran off. Rini looked curiously at the group and then saw her cousin’s expression. She stood, horrified, then walked over to them.

“Remie?”

Remus was the picture of innocence. “Yeah Rini? How are you? I haven’t spoken to you all day.”

“Please tell me you didn’t.”

“Didn’t what?” Sirius jutted in, only to be ignored.

“It’s none of your business, Rini.” His eyes narrowed.

“Like hell! She’s my best friend, Remie! And James-”

James and Sirius, who had been watching the exchange as if it were a ping pong match seemed to suddenly realize what was going on.

“Wait . . . Remus . . .” Sirius started.

Remus crossed his arms across his chest and waited for the explosion.

James’s face was ice for a moment and then riddled with anger as he lashed out at Remus and caught him on the jaw with a well placed punch that sent him to the ground.

“James!” Rini cried out as her cousin fell to the floor. Remus wouldn’t hit James back and on some level James knew that. But he would have felt a whole lot better if he did.

“Shut up Arianna! Remus knows that’s crossing the line!” James exclaimed.

“Bloody hell, James!” Remus’s anger suddenly got the better of him. “I don’t get much happiness in this life, couldn’t you allow me something?”

Remus’s admition was as effective as a punch would have been. James felt like he had been socked in the gut. Like the wind had been knocked from him. But he would never admit that he felt Remus was right. Jealousy and anger, mixed with an odd sense of betrayal overwhelmed him.

“Fine Remus. Have it your way. We’ll see who she chooses.”

Remus smiled. “That’s perfectly fine with me. Do you really think your in a position to be bargaining like that? Sure you wanna loose the grand friendship you’ve established with her?” He taunted.

Rini took Remus’s arm. “Come on, Remie. I want to talk to you. Like you said, we haven’t spoken all day.”

Remus allowed himself to be led away from his two best friends.

“What is this all about, Remie? You never mentioned that you fancied Lils.”

“I never felt the need to.” He replied shortly.

“Hey. Remie, it’s me. I’m on your side.”

He grinned sheepishly. “Sorry, Rini. I’m sorry for James too. I know how he feels about her, in a way, but sometimes it makes me mad how he acts as if she’s something he wants just because he knows he can’t have her. Like she isn’t a human being but a prize.”

It was Arianna’s turn to feel foolish. “I never thought of it like that.” She admitted. “I better go find her.” She said with a sigh. “Love you , Remie.” She kissed his cheek and ran off down the hall to find her best friend, and find out what had happened.

Remus stopped and watched his cousin disappear down the hallway, leaning against the wall. The full moon was next weel and he was starting to feel really weak. He ran a hand through his hair. His bangs had grown long and hung in his eyes now. He sighed. Was Lily worth loosing James over? Who was he kidding? They were made for each other. Everyone saw it. Everyone said it. He didn’t have a chance in the end.

Downhearted, he started slowly back up towards the Gryffindor Tower.

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