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Chapter 4 - February Begins and the Feud Ends. Temporarily. ~*~*~*~~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~~*~*~*~**~*~~ Remus and Lily entered the hall arm in arm, smiles on both their faces. The hall was decorated in twinkling pinks and reds. A rather large, overly frilly, and tacky heart was on the wall above the teacher's table and the lights were dimmed. The normal white candles that floated above the tables were now red and casting warm orange glows over the few round tables that lined the sides of the room. In front of the table a stage had been erected and Dragon's Breath was tuning their instruments with their wands. On closer examination she realized the large heart said 'Dragon's Breath' on it. "You want some punch?" Remus asked her softly. She smiled sweetly at him. "Yes, please." He patted her hand gently and disappeared into the crowd. Lily noticed a table to the far back that was unoccupied and set out for it. She was stopped every so often by friends to say hello and compliment each other on how fabulous they looked that evening and gossip about who had been escorted to the ball by whom. During her journey through the crowd, she noticed Sirius and his blonde haired companion, who looked rather ridiculous in the shade of lipstick she had plastered on her tiny lips, at a table quite near the one she was going towards. Sirius looked anything but pleased. He was swirling the liquid around his cup with his hand rested on his chin. He looked up, meeting Lily’s gaze and smiled warmly at her. She smiled warmly back and chuckled to herself as his date went on prattling, not having noticed his wavering attention. Help me. He mouthed to her silently. She smiled and shook her head and he winked at her before turning his face back to his drink. “Heading for that table there?” A voice interrupted her from behind. She jumped, startled, but seconds later recognized the voice as the smiling dirty blonde handed her a heart shaped glass filled with red punch. She took a sip. “Yes.” She answered. “Spot on.” He replied, extending his arm to her. She smiled and gently placed her hand in the crook of his elbow. Once they had settled at the table and sat in silence for about fifteen minutes, she realized how very awkward it was to be sitting here with him. He cleared his throat. “Well . . .” He attempted. She smiled sadly at him. This wasn’t going very well . . . “Would you like to dance?” “What?” “Would you like to dance?” He stood and extended his hand towards her, an earnest look in his eyes. She fidgeted for a moment and then finally consented and slipped her hand in his. “I would like to take this moment to warn you.” She said as he slipped an arm around her waist. “Yes?” “I simply can not dance.” She protested as he stepped out on to the dance floor. “Well. . . You’ve never danced with me.” He replied with a smile. *~*~*~*~*~*~~**~*~*~~**~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~~ How sickening. How very, very sickening. James was sitting alone, in the farthest, darkest corner of the Great Hall that he could find. He was watching Remus twirl Lily about the dance floor with an envious glare. How extremely unfair. I get torn to pieces, and he gets to dance with Lily. He watched as the dance ended and another, slower one began. He cringed as his best mate pulled his girl closer to him. He grimaced as she giggled softly and then was forced to look away as he saw them lock eyes. Why had he even bothered to come? Why was he torturing himself like this? “Prongs?” James tilted his face away from Sirius as he sat down next to him and put a gentle and on his back. James shrugged away and kept his face towards his clenched fists where they sat in his lap. “If it’s anything like what I’ve been experiencing watching that stupid Finnigan bloke, then I understand how you feel, Prongs.” James lifted his head and looked hard at Sirius’s face before responding. “I forgot.” He admitted. “Looks like we both got skimped out of having our dream girls.” He said, leaning back against the table and crossing his arms. James looked up and saw that Remus was leaving Lily with a group of her friends and walking towards the entrance hall. Lily’s friends were all a twitter around her, whispering excitedly. “And to Remus . . .” Sirius shook his head. “Where’s your date?” James asked. Sirius smiled. “I have no idea. And I don’t really care to find out.” The smile faded and he leaned in so he could talk softly and James could still hear him. “I made a mistake James, and I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to fix it, but damnit, you and Lils. . . You can’t just sit back, Prongs. She’s not supposed to be with Remus.” James ran his hand through his hair and sighed. “Go tell that to her.” The conversation was interrupted by a commotion on the dance floor. “What’s going on?” James asked as Sirius stood on his chair to see over the heads of the crowd. “Shit.” He muttered. “Merlin’s beard. Dragon turds. Lizard guts.” Sirius went on cursing as he started into the crowd. “Where are you going?!” James leapt to his feet and followed his friend through the crowd, pushing people as he went. It was rather hard to get through the pack. “It’s Lily.” He heard Sirius call back over his shoulder and he doubled his efforts to get through the crowd. *~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~* “Sooo. . . Does he dance good?” Rini was whispering in Lily’s ear as they watched Remus walk away. He had just excused himself for a moment and Lily was immediately surrounded by group of girls. Lily, unused to any of the girls in her year, or any other year, talking to her, was taken aback. Apparently the Marauders were more popular than she had realized. “Rini, he’s your cousin. Why do you want to know?” Lily smiled as she fanned herself with her hand. It was stiflingly hot in the midst of all these people. “For your sake.” She said with a twinkling smile. Lily shoved her playfully. “Why aren’t you with your date?” “I got sick of him staring at my chest. Every few minutes I would have to remind him my face was five inches higher.” “I told you he was icky.” “Evans.” A voice interrupted their conversation. Lily’s body went cold with fear. She turned slowly, already knowing what to expect. Frannie was standing before her, hands on her hips and her normal gaggle of girls sniggering around her. Lily’s heart dropped when she saw her grandmother’s necklace clasped about the girls thick neck. The fairy wasn’t as shiny as it had been when Frannie had taken it from her, probably because Lily treasured it so much that she polished every evening before bed. She tried not to look at the necklace. “Hello, Frannie.” She tried to smile but there was a large lump in her throat. The girl grimaced and stepped closer, Rini darted between them, a scowl on her face. “Don’t even speak to me, Evans. You're below me. You have no right to speak to me that way.” Rini growled, literally growled, at the girl. Lily put a hand on her friend’s arm, trying to pull her back. “Give Lils back her necklace Frankfurt.” Rini growled at Frannie. A few people in the crowd sniggered. “Think my name’s funny do yah?” Frannie Frankfurt wheeled around to the crowd, her eyes sparking. The crowd immediately went silent. Rini sniggered. Frannie whipped around, her hand flying out and contacting with the side of Lily’s face before anyone could register what she was doing. Rini had ducked out of the way. Lily staggered back in shock. Rini had her hand to her mouth in horror, realizing she had left Lily open to the attack. Now, two things happened next simultaneously. Rini careened into the bigger girl before them, and Sirius and James entered the circle that had been left open by the crowd as the fight broke out. Sirius immediately grabbed the flailing raven haired girl by the waist and hoisted her away from her victim. “Put me down, Sirius!! I’m going to claw the evil witch’s eyes out!!” Sirius did not let go. “You are not going to claw anyone’s eyes out, Rini! Now stop squirming before you cause more damage!!” James had rushed to Lily’s side and was trying to get her to let him see her cheek. She would not turn towards him though. He took her arm gently. “Why did she hit you?” He asked. “That stupid goat stole Lily’s necklace!” Rini cried out from where Sirius was trying to hold her. “I did no such thing!” Frannie protested from where she was on the ground. She wasn’t about to go anywhere though. Not with the two best looking guys in the school standing over her. She smiled at them, but they shuddered in repulsion. “She’s lying!” Rini cried out. Sirius had to put a hand over her mouth to quiet her down. James walked over to the girl and asked her to stand up. Frannie, smiled as sweetly as she could manage and stood up. Trying to be graceful and beautiful. James ignored her attempts and looked at the neckline of her gown, seeing a thing silver chain. “That’s a pretty chain.” He commented. Her hand instinctively flew to her neck. “Can I see it?” He held out his hand. Frannie backed away a step, a panicked expression crossing her face, the girls behind her whispering excitedly. Lily put a hand on the boy’s arm. “It’s alright James, you don’t have to . . .” He silenced her with his hand. Frannie reached back and unclasped the necklace. She dropped it in James’s hand, her eyes cast downward. James looked at it for a moment and then walked to Lily and brushed her hair to the side and clasped it around her neck. “I believe this is yours.” He said. She smiled up at him, tears forming in her eyes. “Thank you.” She whispered. James turned back around and faced the group of girls. “If I find out that any more threats are made against Lily Evans, or any one of you taunts her in any way, you will deal with me.” He said, scanning the crowd with dark fiery eyes. “Now, if you’ll excuse us.” He said, staying rooted to the spot. The girls, heads cast to the floor, rushed away as quickly as they could, trying to pretend nothing had happened. Once everyone had turned away and gone back to dancing, Sirius finally released Rini. She smacked his arm. “I could have gotten it back by myself!” She cried out. Sirius grinned at her. “You wanna dance?” She stopped mid-thwack and looked at him for a moment. “Alright.” She responded with a smile. As they walked away, Lily turned back to James and thanked him again. “You don’t know how important this necklace is to me.” She said. “You’ve worn it everyday since our third year.” He said back quietly. She was rather shocked for a moment that he had noticed something like that, but couldn’t pursue the matter further because Remus approached them at that moment. “Am I interrupting something?” His gaze was on James and it was hard to decide whether it was unbridled fury or sparkling annoyance that was in his eyes. “No, I was just leaving.” James responded turning away. “Wait.” Lily’s voice stopped him. She turned to Remus. “Remus, would you mind if I danced this one with James?” Remus and James were still for a moment . Remus’s heart fell. It was happening already then. He had known he and she would not last, but to happen so soon? “Of course.” He smiled half-heartedly and left them. James remained still as Remus walked away. Lily cleared her throat. “You don’t mind, do you?” She asked timidly. James shook his head. Merlin’s beard . . .mind? She stepped closer to him and he slipped an arm around her waist. A slow song was lilting through the hall. “You didn’t have to do that.” She said after a moment of silence had passed between them. “Yed, I did.” He answered, for a moment he was unable to meet her eyes, but noting her silence, he eventually did. “Lily?” He stopped dancing and reached a hand out to her cheek. She was crying. “No. No, it’s alright.” She sniffed and wiped the tears away. “You . . . It’s just . . .” “What’s the matter Lily?” He was afraid he had done something terribly wrong. “This necklace . . . You couldn’t possibly know how important it is to me. . . But you . . In front of everyone . . .” “Lily.” He said kindly, pulling her off the dance floor where everyone could see her tears, and bringing her to a deserted table. “I told you already. You don’t have to thank me I-” “No. Listen, James.” She cut him off. She took his hands and he tried to ignore the feeling that cascaded through him. “That was the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me.” He smiled. “You can’t have met many nice people than.” He meant it as a joke, but she grimaced and he noted he had, again, said the wrong thing. “I’m sorry, Lily.” She sniffed. “I always thought you were a prat, James Potter. But all of a sudden . . .” She covered her mouth in horror and stood from the chair. “I’m sorry James. I have to go.” she said in a hurried tone and then took off across the dance floor. “Lily!” He called after her. “Lily, wait!” But she was already gone. Remus and Sirius came hustling up behind James, Rini trailing behind them. At Lily’s retreating back she glared at the boys. “What have you done to her now?” She scowled and ran after her friend. Remus turned towards James and sighed. “You should go after her, James.” He said quietly, then turned and walked away. James stared after him in shock for moment and then looked at Sirius, who had an equally confused expression on his face. Did Remus just admit defeat? James sent felt elated. He looked at the crowd that stood between him and Lily. The path was still barred. He still had to make her realize she loved him. But suddenly the path was looking a whole lot brighter. *~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~* “Lils! Oh, Lily please wait up!” Rini was huffing behind her friend. She stopped as she reached the portrait hole and put her hand on her knees, bending over and trying to get air back in her lungs. “Stupid red head. I’m going to kill her.” She heaved as she pushed through the portrait opening. The common room was unlit, except for the small circle of light that was cast by the fire that sat in the hearth. Lily was sitting before that fire, her knees pulled up against her chest, rocking back and forth. Rini approached at a walk and slowly sat down next to her friend, so as not to frighten her. Lily leaned over and rested her head on her friend’s shoulder. Rini rubbed her back in what she hoped was a comforting manner. “You have to tell them, Lily.” Rini said softly. “You can’t keep pretending it’s not real. You have to tell them. You owe it to them.” “I can’t.” She croaked. “I can’t tell them.” She was overcome by tears once more. “I can’t tell them.” *~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~* The prefects had to stay to clean up the mess the party-goers had made after the ball. Considering they were short one prefect, because Lily had disappeared, the Marauders decided to stay and help clean up. Rather, James decided that he should probably stay to make it up to Remus, and was forcing Sirius to stay with him. “So . . .” He started as they worked. Remus was making a point of keeping his distance from them at the moment. “How was it with Rini? Was your date totally ticked at being ditched?” “She was surprisingly . . .unsurprised.” Sirius chuckled. “I guess she didn’t want to exactly be there with me either. So it all worked out for the best. . .you see . . .she had her eye on Rini’s date.” They had a good laugh about that one until Remus finally came over to them. He was rather timid about speaking but eventually they all clapped each other on the backs and decided that the past was behind them. At least, forwardly. Because inside Remus’s heart, he still had feelings for Lily. And he knew James did too. It wasn’t over yet. *~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~* The next morning was a weekend day, so there was no classes. Thank Merlin since at least three fourths of the school’s student population did not see the better part of the morning and breakfast was rather empty. Sirius and James dragged their selves from their beds around eleven o’clock to attend Quidditch practice, passing a new announcement on the bulletin board. “James. Wait. Look at this.” Sirius stopped and started reading the announcement and then jumped on James’s back with a gleeful yelp. “Hogsmead weekend next weekend!!!” James laughed and struggled to push his friend off. After tussling for a few moments they both sat on the ground, the play-fight had come to a deadlock, as it normally did. “You’re going to ask Rini right?” James asked as they struggled back to their feet, now they were probably going to be late to practice. “You’re going to invite Lils, right?” James smiled back at Sirius and they took off at a run down the lawn. “Last one there’s a rotten higglypunk!” “First one there’s gotta eat it!!!”

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