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Chapter 4

James strolled quickly over to the kitchen table, in this sudden chaotic mind frame forgetting that he could simply have magiced the paper to him. He had seen the look on Lily's face. And now, as he picked it up, flipping it open so it didn't flop over he looked round the kitchen for her.

"Where's Lily?"

Remus looked round too, but Sirius was already grabbing the paper from his best friends hands.

"I don't see anything about an attack." His eyes quickly scanned the front page before Remus turned and began flipping through the pages for him, he stopped nearly at the back, pointing out a small article.

"The ministry didn't want them posting it on the front page, bad for business." The werewolf explained with a wry smile.

James quickly stepped behind Sirius so he could peer around him at the article. (He was a bit too short to see over the tall boy's shoulder). "Two families in Shirmel Hills..." He furrowed his brows. "Where is that?"

Sirius shrugged. "An old Muggle couple and a young family." He sighed sadly. "Honestly, what threat are they?"

James sighed as well, stepping away from Sirius and turning to the kitchen door again. "I'm going to check on Lily."

When he stepped into the hallway, he found her sitting on the steps, staring aimlessly at the front door, hunched over and holding her knees.

"Lily?" He stepped up carefully, but she jumped at the sound of his voice, turning wildly to look at him.

She was silent for a moment before speaking, her voice sounding strained. "Who is it?"

He shrugged, feeling bad doing so. "A few families in Shirmel Hills."

Lily let out a breath that it was obvious she had been holding, and she stood up. To his surprise, she was shaking slightly and rubbing her arms.

"Are you still cold?"

She shook her head, a small blush coming to her cheeks. "No, I'm fine." Her voice was painfully quiet and James had a sudden urge to swoop her into his arms... tell her everything would be all right.

"Your worried for you family." It was a statement, and by her sudden tensing up he knew it to be true.

She nodded slowly, looking down at the welcome mat at the front door. "All the time."

He nodded slightly in understanding, then held out his hand to her, wondering briefly if she would find the gesture weird. But to his utter surprise, a pale hand was removed from her upper arm and her fingers met with his as he pulled his hand closed around hers.

"There's some cookies left over." He offered with a smile, leading her away into the kitchen, ignoring the warmth that her hand offered and the other feelings it was bringing.

She laughed slightly and he felt her grip tighten around his. "Thank you."

He wasn't sure if she was thanking him for the offer or thanking him for making him feel better but he still felt happy as she said it.

"Prongs, Zonko's is closed down!" As soon as James entered the kitchen, pulling Lily along with him, Sirius was flapping the paper wildly in his direction. "All the windows are boarded up and everything."

James opened the cupboard and brought down the cookie jar; passing it to Lily before speaking. "He's not missing is he?"

"No." There was pure bitterness in Sirius' voice. "Worried about the death eaters coming for him or something like that." He turned to Remus as if looking for support. "What the hell would the death eaters want with a wizard who sells dungbombs?"

Remus' eyes flashed and he sat down the glass of milk he had been drinking. "Maybe you both will stop pranking so much this year now? I mean, it is N.E.W.T. year and-"

Sirius snorted. "Your mad, Moony, absolutely mad."

"He's right though."

Everyone turned in shock to James, especially Lily who found her mouth was hanging open and closed it immediately. He was taking a cookie absentmindedly out of the jar she was holding.

But Sirius didn't reply to James. Instead he pointed first a finger at Lily, then one at Remus. "You both are corrupting my Jamesie, I will have none of it." He stood and walked over to an annoyed looking James. Slinging one arm over the shorter boys shoulder he addressed the room at large. "Bad influences, all of you."

Remus shrugged, fully used to Sirius' antics, but Lily was glaring at him.

"Your the bad influence Black. James should be studying if he wants to be an Auror. And you should be too as it happens." She added hastily, her brows furrowed.

"We don't need to study." He told her simply. "We're naturally smart."

Lily did not answer to this... because she could not retort. It was true, the two boys did seem to have a natural talent for pulling off everything without ever picking up a book. She was simply glaring at him, looking much like she'd want to hit Sirius over the head.

"I guess that's why all your teachers always asking you two for extra homework. Though I suppose they're just jealous of your natural abilities, right?" Remus spoke up, still reading the newspaper and lifting the milk up to his lips, a small smirk on his face.

And that was exactly why Remus Lupin was Lily's favourite Marauder.

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Lily went to bed early that night, which is why James was positive she wasn't quite over the shock she received earlier that day.

She had been quiet and withdrawn since Remus' arrival. And when she normally would have chatted happily with Remus, she only smiled and listened to his conversations with his friends when they were around her.

When Mr. and Mrs. Potter arrived back from work she had smiled when Mrs. Potter asked her how her day went. And come supper, she had said she wasn't very hungry and retreated to the guest room.

When James, several hours later, went up to bed himself, he found her door closed and heard nothing beyond to indicate she was still awake.

So, slightly put out, having been wanting to maybe talk to her before bed, he went to his room to sleep. He would talk to her in the morning.

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Day 3-Monday

A quiet knock one the door the next morning was her wake up call.

Turning over, she glanced quickly at the alarm clock she brought from home. It always came in handy when she was at Hogwarts and never left home without it. It read 9:12, it's pretty silver hands pointing at the numbers. She always fancied replacing her boring muggle clock with one from a wizard shop, but could never part with this one her mother gave her during her first year.

With a small sigh, she sat up, glad that her hair was in a braid so she didn't have to attempt to look presentable. Pulling the blankets up to nearly her chin as to hide her yellow nighty she called to the person to enter.

James Potter stuck his head through the door, looking slightly sheepish, his hair just as messy as ever as he quickly looked her over, a small frown showing on his face as if he was disappointed she was covering up.

"Yes?" She pressed, sure that he had been staring at her morning self for long enough. She glared slightly and he had the decency to blush.

"I was just seeing if you were up yet..." He hesitated, then, figuring that it can do no harm, stepped fully into the room. "We're going to Diagon Alley today..." His eyes fell onto the books she had been reading the night before, 7th year potions laying on the top of the pile. "But I see you've already gone."

She nodded. "With my mom... before we came." She stifled a yawn and was about to get out of bed when she remembered she didn't want James to see her particularly revealing night clothes. Lily Evans did NOT wear anything remotely sexy to bed... that's what she wanted him to think anyway. Though she was sure he had his own little fantasies about stuff like that.

"I suppose you wouldn't like to come with Sirius, Remus and I?"

She was about to say no instantly, years of turning down his dates and such still completely embedded in mind, but she formed her answer different mid-word. "N-yes." She sat a little straighter as he raised his eyebrows. "Yes." She added firmly.

He chuckled slightly and she felt her ears burn, sure her face was matching her hair perfectly at the moment.

She expected him to retort something stupid, something so utterly James. Perhaps 'Nyes? That's not a word Evans... I thought you were the bright one.'. But instead...

"All right, we'll wait for you." he grinned and turned to leave, but hesitated at the door. Half hanging out of it he turned to look at her again. "I appreciate it, Lily."

She must have imagined it. There was no way so much emotion could have just been packed into that one small sentence. She's only half awake after all.

But as she watched him smile sweetly, his hazel eyes dancing in the morning light drifting through the window she knew she wasn't imagining it... and the thought made her feel not only slightly nervous, but a particular fuzzy feeling to gurgle in the pit of her stomach. Something that had nothing to do with the fact she was hungry, as much as she tried to pass it off as that.

Sighing she clambered out of bed, rushing to the door to close it before anymore embarrassing situations could arise. Though she was fully ready to lunge towards the pile of books on the floor. She had a particularly good aim with books as Sirius had learned in their 5th year. Several times.

When she came down to breakfast 15 minutes later, it was not Mrs. Potter waiting with the boys, but Mr. Potter.

"I've taken the day off work to bring you all to get your supplies." He explained to her. "With the death-eaters everywhere, we can never be too careful." He smiled slightly at James then added. "Plus your mother would kill me if I let you all go alone."

After having Apparated to an alley just outside the Leaky Cauldron, they walked swiftly through the near empty bar into the backyard, taped the necessary bricks, and found themselves in the narrow crowded streets of Diagon Alley.

Though Lily noticed with grief that it wasn't nearly as busy as usual. Everyone seemed to have huddled in packs, darting around as if expecting an attack at any moment. They passed a group of first years all being pushed on by their mothers and fathers well they tried to get good looks into the shop windows.

Mr. Potter was an exception. He turned to their group, eyeing them warily for a moment before beaming. "I'll meet you all back at the Leaky Cauldron in a few hours." He looked at the gold watch around his wrist, little moving symbols floating around it's surface. "That should give you plenty of time, I should think."

After stopping at Gringotts for their gold. (Lily waiting outside on the front steps watching everyone as they passed in the streets), they all headed to retrieve their books. Sirius needing to stop at the robe store because he claimed he had grown once again over summer though she could hardly tell the difference. This made her come to the conclusion that he had someone managed to destroy his old ones. Her suspicions were proven right when she overheard Remus whispering to James, 'If he didn't burn a whole in the last ones...'

But once the boys were all loaded down with their school supplies, including books, potions ingredients and in James' case; a new cauldron, they stopped at Floran Fortescues's Ice Cream Parlor for a treat.

They had no problem finding a seat at a table seeing as nobody seemed to find such trivial things as ice cream necessary during these times. So, ice creams clutched in hand, they made their way to a round table out in the street, their supplies cluttered around them.

"So, Lily..." Sirius looked across the table at her casually, propping one leg up in the empty chair beside Remus as he spoke, licking happily at his red coloured ice-cream. "What are you planning on doing after Hogwarts."

She watched him carefully for a moment, then, upon deciding he probably just asked the question for some conversation, decided it all right to answer. Pulling her own chocolate ice-cream away from her lips she answered. "I'm thinking about being a healer."

"That's a good choice." Remus confided with a smile, giving a small nod of his head. "I think it would suite you."

"Thank you." She looked back down at her ice-cream to hide her embarrassment, but noticed James watching her from her side. She met his gaze for a moment inquiringly, to which she received a perfectly arched eyebrow in question from him. She mouthed 'what?' before he shrugged and went back to his ice cream, eyes on Sirius now as he spoke again.

"I'm looking forward to my job as an Auror... It will do me great justice to hunt down family members." He grinned happily, something to Lily that did not quite fit the situation.

"Are most of them..." She hesitated, her eyebrows furrowed. "On the side of You-know-Who?" She remembered his cousins Bellatrix and Narcissa, and his little brother Regulus. All were in Slytherin house, and they were definitely not very nice people. It didn't come as a surprise to her when Sirius nodded.

"I moved in with James for a reason. Well... that and I was living on my last nerve with my mother." He suddenly took on a high shrill voice that caused James to chuckle at once and Remus to look around in slight embarrassment. "Sirius, why can't you be more like your brother? Sirius why aren't you in Slytherin? Sirius, just go to school and blow up some students." He stopped with a small sigh and after Remus made shushing noises. People were starting to stare.

"Foul women she is..." His grin was slightly roguish as he turned and waggled his eyebrows at a certain group of 5th year Ravenclaw girls that were staring from a nearby table, all of which turned away, blushing furiously, to whisper excitedly to one another.

Lily rolled her eyes despite the sudden pity she was feeling for him. "Regulus doesn't seem that bad..." She spoke quietly, but the sudden flash in Sirius eyes scared her slightly and she shut her mouth instantly.

"He's quiet... it doesn't mean he isn't as slimy as they come." A slight smirk appeared on his face now. "Except for maybe Snivellus."

Lily opened her mouth to retort against this comment, angered more when James laughed slightly next to her. The James she thought had grown out of such things as torturing Severus Snape. But she shut her mouth just as quickly, not forgetting the fact that Severus had taken up calling her a 'mudblood' whenever she tried to help him out.

Instead she went back to licking at her ice cream with a sort of renewed vigour. At least Remus was grown up enough not to laugh.

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