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Rumors had surfaced the next day, and James was followed with curios stares and many ‘heartfelt’ condolences. James knew more than thought, that all his well wishes couldn’t care less about his feelings unless it was that of undying love for them. He simply nodded at each person who countered him, and bit his lip so as not to blow up at them. He was finding it rather hard; how did the whole school know mere hours after he himself was informed? The only people that he had told were his fellow Marauders, and he was sure St. Mungos had informed Dumbledore, but why would either of them feel the need to tell anyone else? It was almost certain that the staff had been informed; Danielle Potter was a rather popular person in the wizarding community, and the staff members would want to know about her well being, but the students at Hogwarts could care less. So why did the whole school know?

After taking twenty minutes in the Gryffindor common room, trying to dodge all his well wishers, and taking another fifteen in the hallways, cut short by his knowledge of the secret passage ways, he was finally able to find his seat in the Great Hall and take it. He sat down on the bench next to Sirius and across from Remus, and began a heated discussion.

“How does the whole school know?” he hissed. “I didn’t want everyone to know. Can’t I trust you guys?”

“James,” Remus began patiently. “We didn’t tell anyone. We’re just as shocked as you are.”

“But you guys we’re the-” James began, but he was cut off as another well-wisher passed by him.

“James!” the girl shrieked, and threw her arms around him. “I’m SO sorry to hear about your mum! Oh how dreadful! You must feel awful.” And she cried into his shoulder. James looked down at his shoulder where the blonde head of the seventh year Ravenclaw rested. Then he looked helplessly at his friends. Sirius mouthed wordlessly at him, as if to say there was no way they could help. James sighed and awkwardly patted the head of the sobbing girl.

“It’s er…alright. She’s gonna be, um, okay. The, er, Healers wrote to me this morning. She’s, er, feeling much better,” he lied. He looked to his friends for their approval. Sirius looked as if he was trying not to laugh at James’ attempts at lying. Remus was shaking his head.

“But James,” the girl countered. “It’s just so terrible!”

“Er…yes, it is. Um….” James said to her, but his concentration was on his friends. “Help me,” he mouthed.

“Hey, James. Listen, I heard about your mum,” a familiar voice said as someone sat down next to him. Getting rather tired of being smothered in sympathy, he opened his mouth for an explosion he never gave. A burst of red colouring met his eyes.

“Lily!” he gasped, grateful to see her. The Ravenclaw that was clinging to his neck let go and glared at Lily, before huffing away. James tugged on the collar of his shirt, delighted to be breathing again. Then he broke into a flawless smile. “Thanks. I didn’t think she was going to leave.”

“Oh, erm, no problem,” she said. “But anyways, I heard about your mum. That’s really terrible. I’ll bet she’s in shock. Too much has been happening in quick succession, such as your fathers er, death, and this being your last year, and I’m sure it’s just too overwhelming for her,” she continued. James nodded.

“Anyways, I didn’t come over here to remind you of everything that’s been happening. I just wanted to say that if you didn’t want to patrol the halls with me tonight that would be okay. I could have someone else do it with me, or I could do it alone. I’ll completely understand if you just want to… relax, because of everything,” she said kindly, then flashed him a warm smile. James’ stomach flipped and he could feel his knees go weak.

“No,” he croaked. He was finding his mouth rather dry. He cleared his throat loudly and tried again. “No, it’s okay. I’ll patrol. Sitting around moping isn’t going to make anything better is it?”

Lily shook her head. “So, I’ll meet you in the common room at about eight?”

“Yeah, that sounds good.”

“Okay then, I’m going to go. I don’t want to be late to class on the first day back. See you later then, James. Remus. Sirius,” she nodded to each one in turn. Then she swung her legs over the bench and left the Great Hall as Peter took her empty seat.

“Good morning,” he yawned. “What was Evans doing here?”

James explained the encounter as Peter began piling his plate with every dish that was within his reach.

“Anyways, where were you?” Sirius asked once James had finished.

“Oh, erm, nowhere. I was, erm, in the bathroom,” he muttered.

“For an hour?” Remus asked, raising an eyebrow.

“Well, yes you know,” he said, but no one seemed satisfied with his inadequate answer, so he elaborated. “I snuck down to the kitchens last night, and er, the food just didn’t agree with me.”
Remus, Sirius and James stared at him for a few seconds, and then burst out laughing.

“It’s always about food with you, isn’t it?” James laughed.

“It’s always about Evans with you, isn’t it?” Peter shot back.

Remus, Sirius, and James stared at each other in shock.

“Is there something wrong, Peter?” Remus asked.

“Uh, no. I just don’t feel good still. Sorry James,” he said looking at his food.

“It’s okay. No worries mate.”

Peter didn’t respond, and neither did anyone else. They sat in complete silence through the rest of the meal; listening to the conversations filling the Great Hall. James felt disconnected with them, as if they were somehow normal. But what was normal anyway? They had more normality then he, at least. They didn’t need to think of their dead father at every waking moment, or their mother who just so happened to be in the hospital.

“So, you’ve got a date with Evans tonight,” Peter finally said, cutting through the others’ silence.

“What?” James said, coming out of his reverie and nearly upending the milk jug.

“Well, it’s like a date,” Peter corrected himself. “I mean, you’ll be all alone. With her. You and Evans. Alone. In the dark, unwatched halls.”

James cocked his head. He hadn’t thought of it like that. But it was true. He would be all alone with her. In its own way, it was like a date, but not the romantic first one he had always pictured.

“Now that I think on it, it does sound like the perfect way of seducing her, James,” Sirius teased.

“You guys are terrible,” Remus said, then added, “Look, here comes McGonagall with our schedules.”

McGonagall quickly passed out the Marauders’ schedules, and then walked briskly down the table to finish her chore. They waited for Peter to finish the dregs of cereal left in his bowl of milk, and then they headed off to Charms together.

The classes passed by slowly, as the often did on the first of the year. The teachers liked going over what had been taught in the previous years, before starting on anything new. It was especially boring because the Marauders finished quickly, and where ready to continue with new and more difficult topics.

James was impatient for the day to end. When classes were finally over, he raced to the Gryffindor common room with Remus, Peter, and Sirius on his heels. Although it was very feminine like, James began questioning his wardrobe. Should he wear his school robes, or perhaps jeans and a sweater? He finally decided on wearing his school robe; he didn’t want to give Lily the impression that it was a date. If he did, she might take matters to Dumbledore, and he didn’t really feel like dealing with it all.

The remainder of the evening was spent trying to flatten his hair. Sirius got bored of the dull activity, and raided James’ trunk until he found the Snitch they has stolen together in first year. It was what had established the Marauders. All four of them had participated in theft. It was their first crime, the ancestor of thousands to come. Sirius sat on the bed, letting the Snitch zoom around the ceiling, and watching like a cat would a pesky fly. Peter soon joined Sirius, and before long, James was the only one fussing over his hair.

“Aren’t you guys going to help me?” James demanded. “Remus, can’t you do some spell? A potion? Anything?”

“James, I’ve done all I can. There’s nothing else I can do,” Remus replied patiently.

James let out a self-pitying sigh and then locked himself in the bathroom. He stuck his head under the sink, and doused it in water, so that when he raised his head it was soaking wet. He dried it out, using his wand like a Muggle hair dryer, and come out of the bathroom with flat hair that did not suit him.

“What the hell did you do?” Sirius said when James entered the room.

“Flattened my hair. What do you think?”

“I think that you weren’t thinking at all!” Remus said before Sirius could reply.

“It doesn’t suit you, James. Not at all,” Peter commented.

Sirius stood up and walked to the where James was standing, unmoving.

“I may be your best mate, and you may hate me for this, but you will thank me one day,” he said. He raised his hand to James’ newly-styled hair, and made James’ attempts to flatten it completely worthless. James swatted his hand away, and when they were done with their childish scuffle, James looked like he had just finished an exhilarating Quidditch match.

It was time to go.

Slowly, he walked out of the dorm room, leaving his friends and Gryffindor traits behind him. His mouth was dry, his knees were weak, and his stomach had become a very talented acrobat. He heart was thumping in his chest louder than the cheering fans at a Quidditch match. He breathed deeply and descended the staircase to find himself early in the common room without Lily. He let out a sigh, and perched on one of the more comfortable chairs, waiting for Lily’s arrival.

Eight o’clock arrived and passed. James was beginning to feel edgy, waiting for her. He wanted to go upstairs to the girls’ dorm to find her, and then thought better of the whole process. The staircase would surely transform itself into a slide, much like it had in second year when James’ first fell in love with Lily and tried to follow her up the stairs.

“James?” a warm voice whispered. “James, come on, get up.”

A hand touched his shoulder and gentle shook his body. His eyes opened in shock and he stared around the room.

“Lily!”

“Hey. Sorry I was late. Rebecca was having some kind of wardrobe malfunction that somehow involved me,” she smiled down at him. “Ready to go?”

“Yea, let’s go,” James replied standing up, and realizing her hand was still on his shoulder. She quickly removed it, and he felt a cold tingling where her fingers had been.


‘Just be calm,’ he thought to himself as they walked out the portrait hole together. ‘It’s not really a date; just a Heads patrol.’



A/N: So, nothing terribly depressing in this chapter. Does that make y’all happy? I can almost assure that the next two chapters won’t be full of misery and despair. They might be somewhat dark, but they won’t be sad. Go me! Aren’t you proud of me? I hope to start writing the next chapter soon! Thanks so much for all your support! ♥ AMW

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