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[A/N] - Hello everybody. Hehe. I know I've been well.. incredibly slack. And I haven't posted in forever. I know you all hate me, but I guess I'll have to live with that. LoL. Hopefully it won't take me quite this long to get the next one out. And I did give you an extremely long chapter to make up for the lack of chapters recently. So yeah. Enjoy!!!



Chapter 15 - Beyond Normal

When Lily finally woke up, she lay in the bed for a few minutes, just listening to her friends. A small smile played across her lips. Bloody hell how she loved her friends. She felt so much better now that she'd actually told them what had happened, and she felt so stupid for not confiding in them before.

All she wanted to do now was make things go back to normal. She just wanted to have fun and stop worrying about everything and enjoy her last year at Hogwarts. Sure, the last few months had sucked ass, but it was only November. She had the rest of the year ahead of her to make it freaking awesome, and she wasn't going to waste any more of it.

She lay on the bed for a few more minutes listening to James attempts to win at chess against Remus while Sirius, Pete, Aria and Cari talked about random things. At the moment it was the girl's new haircuts. When Aria suggested that he let her cut his hair, Lily couldn't help but open her eyes to see his face. She couldn't help but laugh aloud at his scandalized expression.

At the sound of her laughter, everybody turned to look at her. She grinned at them, avoiding James' gaze and hopped out of bed before realizing for the first time what she was wearing. She blushed and crossed her arms over her sports bra. Looking around, she grabbed a t-shirt from the trunk closest to her and pulled it over her head. "Whoever owns it will get it back eventually." She informed the guys.

"So. No offense, but I'm sort of tired of the stench in this room. I'm off to get dressed where it's clean."

"Hey, our room is clean!" Sirius pouted. She rolled her eyes as she walked out of the room. She could hear Aria and Carina following her.

"Yeah. Clean. Whatever." Aria yelled back sarcastically as she and Cari caught up with Lily. "So Lils, how's you feeling?"

Lily smiled at her two friends. "So much better, thank you." She told them sincerely. "Today I wanna go do something fun. I want to go somewhere and just have a good time." Aria grinned at her.

"Hey, it's a Hogsmeade weekend." Carina realized. "Want to go there?"

"Hells yeah!" Lily said, bouncing into the room.





An hour later the girls were dressed and ready to go. Lily was itching to go spend some money on herself. "We haven't had a proper shopping spree in ages. I want clothes." She informed her friends as she buttoned up her blazer and pulled on her sneakers. "You guys ready?"

Aria grinned as she applied one more coat of mascara to her eyelashes. "Yep! Let's go. Cari?"

"Hang on! Just gotta brush my teeth." Aria tapped her foot impatiently before quickly coming bored and eyeing Lily's hair.

"You know, we did a really good job on our hair." She commented, admiring her work.

Lily grinned. "Surprisingly."

"Now we've just gotta get outfits to match!" Cari said loudly as she walked into the room, pulling on her sweater. Finally all three girls were ready and they made their way down to Hogsmeade.

Ignoring Honeydukes, Zonkos and other places where students normally gathered, they headed towards a shop they had found in their fifth year. It was their all-time favorite place to go in Hogsmeade as the shop sold clothes; robes and stylish 'muggle' clothes, jewelry and accessories and shoes.

And it had a wide variety of clothes. Things to wear around your parents and teachers, comfortable clothes to hang out in, dresses and fancy things for going out, and others.

It was any shopper's dream store. Or, at least it was Lily, Aria and Carina's.

Aria led the way in, the little bell on the door tinkling, announcing their arrival. Her blonde curls bounced as she took off towards one side of the store. Lily and Carina smiled and split up to find a few outfits of their own.

As it was with them, they each chose a few outfits before trying them all on at the same time.

"Hey Lils, look at this wrap! Don't you think it's cool?" Lily rolled her eyes and grinned. "It's wonderful darling." She told her friend before turning back to the few shirts she held in her hands.

She glanced over at Carina who was scrutinizing a pair of high heeled boots. She couldn't help but grin.

She was having a great time with her friends. Nothing would bring her mood down today.





"How about this one, Remus?" James pointed to the gold ring with a huge ruby on it.

He rose his eyebrows and didn't even bother to answer. He didn't know if his voice would have worked anyway. His stomach was twitching nervously. He looked around the near-deserted store at his friends.

They were helping him pick out a ring.

An engagement ring. For Carina.

He thought he might pass out with the weight of the enormous thing he was doing. He knew he was crazy, but he loved her and he was doing this for her, for them both.

It didn't make him any less nervous. He looked over a few more rings, none of them were good enough. Peter pointed out a few silver ones. Sirius slapped him across the side of his head, reminding him in a hiss of what silver did to people with Remus' condition.

The salesperson was no help, pointing out the most expensive of the rings. He didn't have that much money. His stomach sunk with the realization. What if he couldn't afford top buy Carina a ring? What if he couldn't afford to take care of her when they got married?

He swallowed his worries and kept looking. He pinched the bridge of his nose with his thumb and forefinger, trying to control his nerves.

He didn't know what was the matter with him, but if he was this nervous just buying the engagement ring, how would he ever be able to ask her? He tried to have faith in himself.

Starting to get frustrated, Remus let out a small sigh. It seemed as if he had searched the entire store. He couldn't afford to go anywhere else.

"Hey Remus, look at this one." Sirius motioned for him to come. Remus obliged and let his eyes follow to where Sirius' finger was pointing. It was the first ring Sirius had told him to look at, Remus suddenly realized.

But it was perfect. A small, gold band with a small, but not too small diamond sitting atop of it. He didn't know much about rings or diamonds or the way they were cut, but this one, he knew was the one.

He just had one question. "What's the price?" He feared the answer.

The salesperson answered. "72 Galleons."

Remus' jaw near dropped. That was it? "It is all real then?" He asked, slightly suspicious. The salesperson nodded, smiling slightly. Remus couldn't hold his smile. "I'll take it."





"Well? What do you think?" Aria asked dramatically as she swept out of the dressing room. Lily and Carina gaped at her. She was wearing a strapless, crimson dress that came up to just below her knees. On her feet, she wore black heeled sandals with straps that wrapped around her ankle. She looked gorgeous.

Lily and Carina grinned widely in awe. "It's beautiful darling." Lily said as she shimmy-ed up next to her. "I'd love to see Sirius' expression if he ever sees you in that dress." Aria rolled her eyes and turned around once more to conceal her flushed cheeks.

"Let's see yours then!" Carina rolled her eyes and stepped into the change room. A few minutes later, she opened it and walked out wearing a simple, white halter dress. It fit her perfectly.

Lily was next. She came out wearing a long, black, slinky dress that accentuated all her curves. She was beautiful. They were all beautiful.

Aria dug through her purse for a few minutes before grabbing her camera. Lily groaned, but laughed when Carina started to tickle her. Aria snapped the picture.

"Ahh, enough with the fancy stuff!" Lily cried out after a few minutes. I'm itching to try on some of that stuff over there." She pointed.

They spent the rest of the afternoon doing much the same thing, and before they knew it, it was getting dark. By the time they left the store they were hungry, poor and weighed down with a lot of bags.

Lily suddenly started to laugh. She shrunk her bags, stuffed them in her purse and started to run. "Come on!" She called to her two friends. They followed her lead, shrinking their bags to put in their purses and racing after her.

They found her standing in the middle of the grounds, looking up at the sky expectantly, waiting.

Waiting for what, they couldn't tell.

"Lily what the hell are you doing?" Aria asked, trying to catch her breath. Lily didn't answer, just stood watching the darkening, cloudy sky with a smile on her face.

"Lily?"

"I'm waiting for the rain." She told them calmly, the smile still on her face. Aria and Carina laughed, and laughed even harder when the skies opened and the water came down in torrents.

Lily shrieked with joy and started to dance.

Aria and Carina, smiles on their faces, joined her. "We just need some music." Carina said, giggling.

Lily opened her mouth and started to belt out her favorite song by The Beatles. Let It Be. While she twirled in the rain, jumping in puddles, getting completely full of mud, and laughing. Laughing with all her heart.

Laughing as she hadn't laughed all year.

Aria and Carina couldn’t help but get caught up in the infectious carefree spirit that was their Lily. The Lily they had missed so much. She was back.

Carina couldn't keep the tears from rolling down her face as she laughed and danced and sang with her two best friends in the rain. Tears for Lily. Tears for Happiness. Tears of sadness because she knew that this would not last. Tears because she so wanted it to.

Neither Lily nor Aria saw those tears. They were hidden by the rain and their own wishes of wanting to be this happy again.





"What in the world are they doing?" Sirius asked, astonished. James came up next to him, a smile in his hazel eyes. Remus and Peter joined them. They'd been running to get out of the rain on their way back to Hogwarts, but stopped when they caught sight of their three female friends.

Running. Laughing. Playing. Singing. Jumping. Dancing.

James watched as Lily jumped on top of Aria, sending them both into the mud as Carina bent down and with a fistful of mud, smashed it in Lily's face.

He could hear their laughter. He could hear Lily's laughter. It warmed his heart for reasons unknown, even to him.

He watched as Lily stood up, dragging Aria up with her and the two of them started to dance again, twirling in the rain, while Carina laughed and slipped in a pile of mud, falling on her rear.

By now, the girls' infectious giddiness was catching on and the four boys made their way over to their friends, amused smiles on their faces. James' smile widened when he could make out the words that Lily was singing at the top of her lungs..

...when you find yourself in times of trouble, mother Mary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom, let it be..

"Hey!" Sirius shouted out when they were close enough, waving a hand above his head. James watched as Lily and Aria started towards them, picking up speed while Carina still lay in the mud. He laughed as Lily reached Sirius first and tackled him into the mud, Aria not far behind.

Sirius sat up and spat mud out of his mouth, rising his eyebrows up at James who was roaring with laughter. "What's so funny Prongs?"

A minute later, the two boys were rolling in the mud. "THAT'S IT PADFOOT! YOU ARE GOING DOWN!"

Aria watched them, grinning and the second they paused, she jumped on them screaming "BOYS SMELL!" like a 5 year old. Remus laughed, which caused Lily to divert her attention to him.

"REMIE!" She yelled, jumping onto his back, splattering mud everywhere. "Let's go visit Cari. She seems to have fallen asleep."

Carina was actually lying in the surprisingly comfortable mud, listening to the rain and half wondering where her friends had disappeared to. She was weirdly calm as she ran things over in her mind, strengthening her resolve for what she knew she had to do, which was break up with Remus sooner rather than later so he wouldn't be hurt.. as much.. when she married Snape.

"ROAR!!!"

The brunette jumped up, her scream piercing the night. "LILY!" Carina held a hand to her rapidly beating heart. "You scared the shit out of me!" Carina glared as her red-haired friend rolled around on the ground laughing while Remus stood behind her, biting his lip in a vain attempt to contain his laughter. Carina's stomach flipped over as she looked at him.

Lily picked herself off the ground and threw her arms around her friend, her muddy hair sticking to Carina's face. "You know I love you." Lily told her, still grinning. Carina growled playfully and Lily grabbed her hand and started to pull her back towards Aria, Sirius, James and Peter who were all now having a mud-ball fight.

James felt a cold, wet mud-ball explode over his head and let out a strangled cry, twirling around to get revenge on his attacker. Lily. He let out a war cry and tackled her to the ground. She went down laughing and was immediately fighting back, sticking his face into the mud.

"Hey!" He cried out as he looked around blindly, mud filling his vision. He struck out blindly, trying to wipe his glasses with one hand and throw mud with the other. He managed to clear some of the muck in time to see Sirius raise a white flag in surrender from underneath a mound of mud with Aria, Lily and Carina all sitting atop of it, cracking up.

He suddenly wished he had a camera, and then realized that Aria was digging through her purse and pulled out hers. He grinned and motioned for her to pass it to him. She did. He stepped back, aligned the camera and snapped the picture.

Click.





"Come on! It is freaking cold!!" Aria whined, wrapping her arms around her extremely wet and dirty torso.

Lily scrunched up her face. "I don't remember the password.."

"WHAT? Lilyyy..." The blonde girl pouted and Lily laughed. "Uhh..."

Carina rolled her eyes. "Eff this, I'm just gonna go with the guys."

"To bathe? Cari, you know your brother is gonna be there. You and Remus can't..." Carina cut her off with a look.

"WITH MY CLOTHES ON!" She told them. "Then I'll transfigure it to my bathing suit or something." She walked off and left Lily and Aria staring after her, shivering in their muddy clothes.

"Yeah. Come on." The two girls quickly caught up with their friend down the hall. She was knocking on a portrait. "GUYS?!"

"Yeah?" came Sirius' voice. "Lily can't remember the password, so put on some clothes and let us in!"

There was a short muffled conversation and then the portrait opened slightly and Sirius poked his head out, his wet hair clinging to his face. He had a mischievous look on his face. "Alright, but hurry up."

He opened the portrait wide enough for the girls to come through. Lily went first, took one look at the huge, steamy, bubble-filled bathtub that was as big as a swimming pool, yelled something incorrigible at the top of her lungs, ran and jumped.

She came back up with a smile on her face. "Thank Merlin." she sighed. "Can somebody transfigure my clothes into a bathing suit?"

"Lily?!" came a horrified voice. She looked towards the sound and saw James cowering in a corner of the tub. She rose her eyebrows at him.

"Uhh.. what are you doing here?"

She stared at him, horror-struck before covering her eyes with her hands. "Please don't tell me your not wearing anything..."

He didn't answer her but glared at Sirius. "PADFOOT! I AM GOING TO EFFING MURDER YOU!"

"So do you guys normally go bathing together naked?" Aria asked, stifling her laughter with her hand.

"NO!" was the disgusted reply. "HE DARED ME!" James yelled. "GET ME SOME SHORTS! I'M SERIOUS!"

"No, I'm Sirius."

"SIRIUS!!"

"Alright, alright. Keep your hair on." He said chuckling, as he through his friend a pair of green trunks. James grabbed them, disappeared underwater for a moment, then resurfaced still glowering.

"I'll get you back Padfoot."

Sirius grinned widely at him. "You go ahead and try."

"Fine. Prank war starts now. Me against You. Think you can handle it?" James might have looked intimidating, but he was up to his chin in bubbles, so it took away from the effect.

Sirius had an uncharacteristically solemn look on his face. He pursed his lips. "Your on." Then he spun on his heal and left the room.

Remus, Carina, Lily , Peter and Aria watched him leave, laughing.

James' glare followed him until Sirius was no longer visible. "Your going DOWN!" he yelled all of a sudden, twitching. He yelled out in alarm and disappeared underwater for a few moments.

When he resurfaced, the green trunks were in his hands and Sirius was back, his bark-like laughter filling the room.

"Padfoot; 2. Prongs; 0."

James glared.





A little while later, the 7 friends were lounging around in the kitchen. Sirius had won their little pranking match a few minutes before when he had jinxed James' treacle tart so that when James took a bite, he grew feathers almost instantly. They had lasted 5 minutes. And now James was sulking because he lost.

"What's the matter Jamesy-boy? Still upset about losing to my amazing pranking skills?"

James grinned. "No, actually I was thinking about how you would look with that big head deflated." He flicked his wand and they all watched as Sirius' head slowly shrunk as if it were a balloon with a hole in it.

"Like you can talk." Aria said smirking. James shrugged, smiling, and returned his friend to normal. "God, I'm bored. All we ever do is eat." she said, stretching out and lying down, lying her head on Sirius' lap.

He grinned down at her. "Why Miss Smith, are you implying that you would prefer to be doing something else down there?"

Aria immediately sat up, blushing.

"Oh, I don't think she'd mind." Lily said slyly. Aria glared at the red head while Carina covered her ears and made a face. "That's my brother you're talking about. That's disgusting!" She shuddered.

Sirius stood up, walked towards the door and said "Well it's not like you can talk Cari, you and Remus are absolutely revolting the way you cling to each other." He looked back and grinned at their red faces. "Who's coming with me?"

Peter stood up. "Where are we going?"

Sirius grinned mischievously. "To cause havoc."

"Oh, stop trying to be mysterious." Aria goaded, punching him lightly in the gut as she walked past him and out into the hall. "We all know the difference."

Sirius looked offended. "Hey, I am very mysterious."

"Of course you are."

"I am!"

"I never said you weren't." Aria told him lightly.

"Shut-up."

"Hey, I'm agreeing with you!"

James, Lily, Peter, Remus and Cari exchanged amused glances as they listened to their friend's banter as they left the kitchen.

"I hope they get together soon. This is driving me mad." Peter said, voicing all their thoughts.





The rest of the night was spent hanging out in the halls, making a lot of noise, quite a lot of butterbear, a few fireworks, wandering through the castle finding different rooms and passageways, hiding from teachers and generally having a fun time.

Grinning as she thought back on her night, Aria flopped down on her bed, staring at the ceiling for a few minutes. Yawning, she decided that she didn't want to go to sleep yet so she sat up, looking around the empty dormitory for something to do.

Her turquoise gaze was caught by her purse. She was off of her bed in a flash, going through her purse and pulling out all of her miniature shopping bags. "Engorgio" She muttered, flicking her wand. She turned around, eyeing Lily's record player as her things returned to normal size. With another flick of her wand, music by The Beatles started playing loudly.

Happily, the blonde started to unpack her shopping as she tried not to think about what her parents would say when they found about her shopping spree. She soon forgot about it as she packed away all of her clothes in her wardrobe, already having an outfit for the next day blossoming in her mind's eye.

Once she had that done she collapsed on her bed once more, the words of The Beatles resonating her head. "...All the lonely people... where do they all come from?.."

She shifted her weight. Something was sticking into her back. It was extremely uncomfortable. Getting annoyed, she sat up and saw what she'd been lying on. Her purse. Growling, she shoved it out of the way, spilling some of the contents onto the floor. Pursing her lips, she gathered up her wallet, lip gloss, mirror and camera. Blinking, she stared at her camera for a few minutes before grinning. She wasn't really tired anyways.

She jumped out of bed, her camera clutched in her small hands and headed for the large closet in the bathroom that she had made into a room where she could develop her pictures from the day.





He didn't feel like going to bed, he doubted he would've been able to sleep anyway, there was too much going through his mind. Sighing, Sirius changed his route and headed for the Kitchens for the second time that night.

He was going to go insane from all of this stupid teenage drama, but he couldn't help but be overwhelmed with questions that he had to know the answers to. For instance, what was the matter with his twin? She'd been acting weird all night.

And when was Remus going to propose to her now that he had bought a ring?

When would his parents try something else?

Was Lily actually okay or was she trying to cover up her feelings... again?

And what in the name of god goes on inside of his best friend's head? Was James depressed and trying not to show it? Was he trying to ignore reality?

Did he have a potions essay due Monday? What was he going to do once he was out of school? Where was he going to live?

And lastly... Why did he have to have more-than-friendly feelings about a certain curly-haired blonde? Why couldn't his hormones just go away?

Suddenly, Sirius realized that he'd been standing in front of the portrait of a bowl of fruit. He reached out, tickled the pear and pulled open the door. He was greeted by a few beaming house-elves. "Hello Sir!" squeaked the one nearest to him. "Mister Black is hungry already?"

He wasn't really hungry, but nodded anyway. "Yeah, do you have any of those chocolate eclairs left?" He asked while getting comfortable at a seat at the Gryffindor table. Almost instantly the house-elf was back with a tray-ful of crepes, eclairs and tarts. Sirius smiled absentmindedly and thanked the house-elf, who bowed and quickly went about his work.

Sirius took a bite out of a chocolate eclair as he was left alone with his thoughts once more.

They drifted to a place he had not allowed them to drift in a long time. To his home.

Or lack thereof.

He was always thinking about his parents nowadays, but not as his parents. It was easier to think of them as things. As something that was just there. Things that he was not emotionally attached to.

But as much as it pained him to think it, he was.

He hated them so much, for so many things. And he hated himself because on some level he still wanted their approval.

He knew that he would never receive their approval or love. That path was shot from the moment the sorting hat touched his head and yelled 'GRYFFINDOR!'.

He thought back to that day. Carina had been sorted before him, the very first black to ever become a Gryffindor. He had been right behind her. He had been shocked and confused, much as she had.

He'd been hoping Regulus would have followed in their footprints, but no. He'd been placed in Slytherin, the bugger.

For once, he allowed himself to think back on his childhood, which had been relatively normal. He remembered how his mother used to be beautiful, before her sickness. Carina resembled her to the extreme on how Gertrude Black used to look. His father had never been amazingly good looking, but more rough around the edges. Sirius had looked up to him.

Then his mother had gotten sick and she'd never really gotten better. She'd lost most of her good looks and that had left her bitter. Around the time when Sirius had turned 10, the fighting started. He, Carina and Regulus would hide out in their rooms, trying to ignore the yelling. When he and Cari left for Hogwarts in their first year, he hadn't wanted to leave Regulus behind.

He hated the way things had turned out, but he was glad at the same time, because his parents, however vile they were, helped him to become the person he was now.

They had pushed him, being cruel and blunt sometimes, but they had helped to make him Sirius Black.

It just wasn't the Sirius they would have liked.

And for that, and that alone, Sirius could smile when he looked back into his childhood.





"Ha! Now we're tied."

"What? No we're not, I'm winning."

"Lily, we're tied."

"Count how many pieces you've got left." He looked at her. "Just do it." She rolled her eyes and watched him count. "How many?" She asked.

"Nine."

"And how many do I have left?" She watched with a smug grin as he counted the white pieces. "Well..?"

"Eleven." James grumbled, pouting.

Lily grinned widely, proud of being right. She tucked a stray piece of hair behind her ear and looked back down at the chess board, trying to figure out her next move. "Knight to H4."

James watched in dismay as her knight struck down his bishop and growled under his breath. He looked up at her grinning cheekily at him and his heart unwillingly sped up. He made a face at her.

She stuck her tongue out and crossed her eyes. He laughed. "Attractive."

She grinned. "Of course."





While her pictures were drying, Aria had changed into a black tank top and purple shorts. Still not tired enough to go to sleep, she dug out a few of her old photo albums and scrapbooks from under her bed, where she'd stuck them at the beginning of term because they took up too much room in her trunk.

She pulled one into her lap. It was big, purple and decorated with numerous amounts of pink sparkles and ribbons. On the front in big, black letters were the words 'My Second Year At Hogwarts'. Smiling, she opened the scrapbook. On the very first page was a picture of herself, Carina and Lily. Aria inspected the picture. The three friends were dressed in their pajamas. Lily's long red hair was extremely messy as she laughed, showing where she was missing one of her front teeth. She had her arms slung around the other two. Carina was smiling widely, clutching the teddy bear that Sirius had bought for her for a Christmas present when they were 7 in her hand, her shoulder-length hair was tucked behind her ears. Aria herself was cracking up laughing about something and picking at her purple pajama pants because there was a hole in the side. Her hair was long and messy and wavy and everywhere.

Her friends were adorable.

She turned the pages of the book, finding more pictures of her friends; Lily reading, Carina sleeping, Lily screaming when James put a frog on her head, James, Sirius, Remus and Peter sitting in front of the fire, Carina on Sirius' back, James when Lily had turned his hair bright pink by accident, her when she had snuck into the boy's dorms and stole their boxers, Lily making a funny face, the three girls having a snowball fight, Lily and Carina grinning for the camera by the lake, her friends on the way home on the train, etc.

Second Year had been a pretty good year, she recalled. She happily picked through a few other of her photo albums, coming across pictures of her friends, family and some where just random pictures. There were a few of her friends from other houses as well, but she wasn't nearly as close with Dorcas Meadows, a Hufflepuff who had graduated the year before, as she was with Lily and Carina.

She turned the page of her 'Year 6' scrapbook and stopped. It was a picture of a bunch of her classmates at the very beginning of the school year. It had been an extremely warm day in September, the very first week of school, and all of their year had the afternoon off because McGonagal and Flitwick had to leave for some reason, and they were the only classes for the afternoon.

Practically all of their year was outside, basking in the warm sunlight. It was one of the first times that year that friends from different houses had a chance to catch up.

It was like a big party almost, everybody outside, mingling and whatnot. Gryffindors, Hufflepuffs, Ravenclaws, even a few Slytherins.

Everybody having a good time, despite the house rivalries. They'd all had fun, together...

And she had proudly gotten a picture of it.





The two young adults walked slowly around the ground. Neither were speaking. Carina was all too aware of Remus' grasp on her slightly sweaty hand.

This was the perfect time to break up with him, as planned. It had to be done sooner rather than later, or he would be hurt even more in the end, and she knew it.

Carina looked out at the lake. The water was still and dark as was the sky. There were no stars, and the half moon was barely visible behind the thick clouds. It was a depressingly dark night, but calm and beautiful at the same time.

She tried to steel herself for the inevitable. She had to work up the courage to do this. She had to break up with him.

Suddenly she felt dirty for holding his hand, and let go immediately. She was going to hurt him, she couldn't hold his hand.

He turned to her, his brow furrowed. "What...?"

She opened his mouth to do it, but she found herself saying, "Nothing". She smiled at him and sat down on the grass. He did the same and they sat there in silence.

It was the loudest, most obnoxious, awkward silence she'd ever heard.

Her eyes were tearing up. She didn't want to do this. She never wanted to do this. Ever.

But she had to.

Carina tucked a stray piece of hair behind one ear, took a deep breath and turned to her boyfriend. "I have to talk to you about something."

Remus took a deep breath and nodded resolutely. "Okay.."





It was too quiet, he couldn't sleep. Muttering to himself, Peter flipped over onto his back and stared at the ceiling. No matter how hard he tried, sleep wouldn't come, and he was being plagued by his jealous thoughts once more.

He tried not to think bad of James, Sirius and Remus, but they all seemed to have better lives than him.

They were always the ones with the girlfriends, the ones who were liked and told the funniest jokes, and the ones who made fun of him.

He certainly liked his friends well enough. They made him laugh, they helped him out with homework, they included him when they hung out, and he looked up to them. But he wasn't as good looking as Sirius, as good at Quidditch as James, or as nice as Remus. It just wasn’t fair.

Growling to himself, he threw the blankets off his bed and stood in front of the full-length mirror in the bathroom. He scrutinized himself.

He was too fat, that he knew, but he showered nearly every day and combed his hair and tried to be nice to the girls, but nothing ever worked.

He would never have a girlfriend. It sucked.

'Maybe if I worked out a bit, and dieted or something...' Peter hated the fact that he had to work at looking good while his friends didn't. He envied them greatly.

Sighing, he slouched back to bed, still thinking about how miserable his life was compared to his fellow Marauders. A few minutes later he was ashamed of himself. He knew that Sirius had a hard family life, and it wasn't easy for Remus to be a werewolf and keep everything inside. Moony was the king of keeping everything inside after all.

Angry at himself for thinking ill of his friends he turned on his stomach and buried his face in his pillow. He hated how insecure he was about everything, even his friends.

He tried really hard to be like the others, but it was exceedingly difficult at times.

Sometimes he felt like just giving up.





"You cheated!"

"What?!" asked Lily, extremely offended.

James glared at her. "You cheated!"

"No I didn't!"

"I just saw you!" James rolled his eyes, exasperated. "Jeez Evans, you can't even beat me at a little game of chess so you've got to resort to cheating?"

Lily got up, rage coursing through her body. James instantly regretted his words and nervously looked up at her.

"BLOODY HELL POTTER!" Lily raged as a small voice in the back of her head asked why she was getting so upset over something so stupid. "How dare you accuse me of cheating? You think I have to cheat to win at chess you egotistical jerk? Merlin Potter, I thought I had you figured out, but there you go again, you stupid prat! You'll never change will you? You are nothing but the same conceited jackass I abhorred last year! GOD DAMNIT!" She cursed loudly as she stubbed her toe on the leg of the chair she'd been sitting on.

"Do my ears deceive me? Such colourful words for such a pristine girl."

"SHUT YOUR TRAP POTTER UNLESS YOU WANT ME TO SHUT IT FOR YOU!"

"I see I've touched a nerve." James couldn't shake the feeling that if he kept going that Lily would just go crazy from frustration. He didn't know why he kept going. He also didn't know why she was so upset. He assumed it was hormones. Or maybe pent-up emotion. Or maybe she was just really hungry. Or tired. Either way, James was getting a kick out of it.

"Are you looking to be castrated? Because your heading in that direction."

"That would mean you'd actually have to go down there."

Lily was calming herself down somewhat, preferring to keep things 'rational' as getting all worked up never really got her anywhere. "Is that supposed to scare me? It amuses me to see that you think me so proper... of course, I don't know where that has been. I might get an STD. But I guess that's what wands are for."

James just stared at her, not used to this as opposed to her screaming at him. He wondered if she was serious. Her expression gave nothing away.

Lily was immensely pleased at his speechless reaction. She sat back down and folded her legs. "It's your turn." She told him, referring to the chess board.





"No. Carina, don't do this." Remus told him girlfriend seriously. His heart was beating abnormally fast in panic. She wasn't listening to him.

"This is for the best, Remus. This way you can get on with your life .."

He cut her off. "Knowing you're getting married to Snape? It's not going to be that easy Carina."

She was growing frustrated. Breaking up with him was hard enough as it was, she hadn't expected him to be so outspoken against it. "And you think it'll be easier when the day comes and I'm still dating you... and I'm forced to walk down the aisle towards somebody who isn't you? It's going to be hard enough as it is without..."

"Listen to me!" She wouldn't. He hated the way she was talking about it as if she'd already resigned to the worst. He watched her talk with such sadness and conviction in her voice and realized that she'd had no hope from the start. She had fully accepted what she was going to do.

Suddenly he stepped away from her with a sick look on his face. Carina noticed and mistook his expression for one of finally accepting what was to be her fate. She was wrong.

"How could you put so little faith in us? You are fully ready to throw me aside for.. for Snivellus!" He said, disgust and hurt all too obvious in his voice.

Carina gasped and shook her head wildly. "No! Remus, I love you and I wish that there was some way that this wouldn't have to happen, but it WILL happen."

"Because you won't give this a chance! You gave up too easily!"

"NO!" She could hardly see his face for tears. "Remus, I'm just accepting what is going to happen! I can't hide from my parents, they will eventually find me. Besides, where would I run?"

'Do it... Moony just do it for God's sake!'

"Tell me that Remus. How would this ever end up working? They are my parents and they have arranged a wedding for me. It's fully in their rights to do this. It's a little unorthodox, I know, but the Ministry won't see it our way!"

'She's going to keep going with this crap unless you finally do it.' Remus told himself, trying to pool his courage.'.. but what if she actually believes what she's saying?' "Carina..."

She ignored him and rambled on, trying to get everything out at once. 'Why is he making this so difficult? It's hard enough as it is!'





"She loves you! Yeah, yeah, yeah! She loves you! Yeah, yeah, yeah! And with a love like that, you know you should be glaaaad!"

Aria laughed as she jumped off her bed, holding her hairbrush as a microphone, singing at the top of her lungs. She danced her way into the bathroom where she made a face at herself in the mirror and pulled her hair into a ponytail before proceeding to wash her face.

She knew her pictures should be developed by now, so she dried her face and went in to look at the enchanted photographs. Her vision was caught by one of Lily and James in the mud. They were rolling around, shoving mud in each other's faces. Suddenly the little Lily and James in the picture stopped rolling around and just stared into each other's eyes. It was very romantic... if rolling around outside in the mud was romantic.

Aria burst out laughing as she saw it. She couldn't wait to see the expression on Lily's face when she saw it.

Smiling, she looked around at the other ones and her eyes couldn't help but linger at one of Sirius. She'd taken it when they'd been at the kitchens. The mini-Sirius was laughing at something or another, before shoveling a huge piece of pie into his mouth. Then he saw the camera, swallowed, and flashed his adorable grin at her.

Not his award-winning flirting grin, his Hi!-I'm-searching-for-something-witty-to-say,-oh-god-I'm-a-dolt.-What's-up?! grin.

She couldn't help but smile as she watched it.

At long last she tore her eyes away as she berated herself. 'Getting involved with Sirius will amount to nothing good. He'd get bored after a while, just like he always does. Besides, he doesn't see me like that anyways...'

Sighing, she made her way back into the dorm and threw herself onto her bed. The Beatles were still playing. Not really in the mood for that anymore, she flicked her wand and The Beatles instantly changed to AC/DC.

She lay on her bed for ages, listening to Kiss, AC/DC, The Ramones, and Alice Cooper.

Quite suddenly, there came a tapping at the window. Half asleep, Aria groaned and forced herself to get up and walk to the window. She opened it and the owl stuck out it's leg for her to untie the letter. The minute she had it untied, the owl took off to the owlery.

Seeing that the letter was addressed to her, she shuffled her way back to her bed, grumbling the whole 3 feet of the way about "Damn people who send letters too damn late in the night for no god damn good reason."

Still grumbling and half asleep, she tore open the envelope and unfolded the parchment inside.





"YOU ARE A NO-GOOD, SELF ABSORBED, CHEATING PRICK!" Lily's red face was contorted into an expression of pure, unadulterated rage.

As was James'. "YOU'VE GOT A STICK SHOVED UP YOUR ASS LITTLE MISS PERFECT!"

The fact that it was incredibly late and that they'd probably wake up the entire Gryffindor house was going unnoticed. A few stragglers suffering from insomnia, or a few who were just light-sleepers had come to see what the racket was about, were watching in amusement at the Head Boy and Girl. Peter included.

Nobody was quite sure what had started the shouting-match. From what the bystanders had gathered, it was over Chess, and it was incredibly dumb.

"I HAVE NOT GOT A STICK UP MY ASS! YOU NEED TO SHOW SOME MORE RESPECT AND DISCIPLINE! YOU ARE HEAD BOY!"

"AND YOU NEED TO LEARN WHEN TO SHUT UP AND WHEN SOMEBODY IS JOKING! YOU ARE IMPOSSIBLE!"

"ME?? I'M IMPOSSIBLE? YOU ARE THE ONE WHO IS BLOODY IMPOSSIBLE! YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY INFURIATING, YOU PIG!"

"I'M NOT A PIG, YOU STUCK UP BITCH!"

"PRICK!"

"PRUDE!"

"YOU ARE AN IRREDEEMABLY MISERABLE MISCREANT AND A DEPRAVED, ACIDLY ACRIMONIOUS DEPRAVITY OF GENETICS!"

"WHAT IN THE BLOODY HELL ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?!"

"IDIOT."

"WHORE!"

"I AM NOT A WHORE!"

"NO YOU'RE TOO BLOODY PERFECT TO BE A WHORE! YOU ARE AN UNEQUIVOCALLY DEPRAVED FIEND AND A FECULENT, ODIOUSLY SUFFOCATING MIDGET WITH THE NATURAL GRACE OF A SWAMP RAT, YOU KNOW THAT?"

"WHO ARE YOU CALLING A MIDGET? I'M ONLY A FEW INCHES SHORTER THAN YOU, YOU MISERABLE LASCIVIOUS LOUT, NAIVE, BUG-EYED INFLICTOR OF MISERY ON ALL WHO CROSS YOUR PATH!"

Peter was watching the verbal abuse with his eyebrow raised and an amused smirk on his face. He turned to a younger girl who was standing next to him and watching the fight with wide eyes He said 'I wonder if they know that what their saying makes no sense whatsoever."

Unfortunately for him, both Lily and James heard him. They turned their angry faces on him and screamed "SHUT UP PETER!".

He tried to hold in his laugh but failed dismally. Luckily, they had returned to their insult-war and didn't notice. It was Lily's turn.

"YOU ARE A MISERABLY DECADENT LECHER AND A NEFARIOUS, SCRUFFY-LOOKING DEPLORABLE CALAMITY OF BIRTH!"

"YOU ARE AN ABOMINABLY GLUTTONOUS TROLLOP AND A MYOPIC, ACIDLY ACRIMONIOUS CAUSE OF NIGHTMARES IN SMALL CHILDREN!"

"DID YOU JUST CALL ME FAT POTTER? YOU ARE GRIEVOUSLY UNSEEMLY DUNCE AND BELLIGERENT, DISEASE-RIDDEN PROOF THAT GOD HAS A DISTURBED SENSE OF HUMOUR!"

James fell silent, staring at her. Lily just glared at him, breathing hard, wondering why he wasn't continuing their incredibly stupid fight.

Their audience was anxiously waiting to see what would happen next.

He didn't know what possessed him to do it. James took a step closer, pulled her into his arms and kissed Lily for all she was worth.





"Carina..."

She still wasn't listening to him, and he could see that she was becoming hysterical.

"... and I can't do anything to change it! You can't do anything, James' parents can't do anything, nobody is going to be able to do something to help me, so... so I've come to terms with it, and so must you!"

Finally, he put a hand on each of her shoulders and shook her gently, making her look at him. "Carina! Listen to me!" he said sternly. She fell silent, at long last, and waited for him to speak.

"You can't give up this early! It's only November for Merlin's sake." She opened her mouth to speak, but he silenced her with a stern look. "Now, listen. Do you want to marry him?" She shook her head wildly.

"Then you have to at least fight for your rights! If you truly didn't want this, then you would search a hell of a lot harder for a way to get out of it!"

"But..."

"But nothing! You're taking the easy way out, you are giving your parents what they want."

Cari looked up at him with angry wide eyes. "You think this is easy?!" she asked, incredulous. "Trying to break it off with you so that you can get on with your life without me?! This is the hardest bloody thing I've ever done, and you aren't making it any easier!"

"Well good!" He felt his calm facade slipping away.

"What?"

"I'm glad I'm making it more difficult!"

"But why?" She was starting to cry again, she couldn't help it.

"Why? Are you seriously asking me that? ... Because I don't want to be broken up with you! I love you! Bloody hell..." He nervously ran a hand through his sandy hair. 'Do it now, Lupin you idiot. Just say it!'





Lily pulled away, staring at James in shock. The feeling quickly changed to fear and then to disgusted fury. She slapped him as hard as she could, putting everything she had into it.

"YOU PERVERTED BASTARD!" She screamed at him, taking another step away from him and hugging herself. "HOW DARE YOU?"

"Lily..."

She couldn't believe him. He had heard what she'd told them all that morning. He saw Seth kiss her, he'd been there! Tears started to cloud her vision, but she angrily wiped them away.

"I trusted you! You bloody prat! I can't believe you! You heard... I told you!! How dare you use me like that?!"

James stared at her, horror-struck. "No, Lily... it's not like that. I'm sorry! I'm so sorry!"

"I thought you were different. I really did." Tears were pouring down her cheeks by now, however hard she tried to stop them. "But you are no better than him. I hate you! I can't believe I let myself trust you!

"Lily.. I... I'm sorry!" James was furious with himself. 'Bloody hormones! Why the bloody hell did I do that?' He was terrified about losing her again. He knew that he'd just lost any and all progress he'd made towards them being friends again.

"No you're not you bloody prick! I hate you, I hate you, I HATE YOU!" She turned to run up into her dorm but James, panicking, grabbed her arm.

"I'm sorry, Lily. I.. I love you!" He was horrified when she flinched and tore away from him, fear clouding her bright green eyes.





Aria hadn't moved an inch since she opened her letter. She stared down at the words, her mind hazy and numb. 'No. It can't be true. No way in hell...'

She crumpled up the letter and pulled out her wand. With a quick flick, it started to burn. She watched it until it was nothing more than a few ashes on the floor.

Then, shaking her head to clear it, she pulled the hangings shut on her bed and buried herself under her covers, squeezing her eyes tightly shut against a pounding ache in her head. Sleepily, she flicked her wand once more and the dormitories became quiet.

She tried to move her thoughts onto something that wasn't the letter she'd read, and now desperately wished she hadn't. It wasn't true of course, she knew that... but still...





It was around 2:30 in the morning when Sirius made his way back to Gryffindor Tower from the Kitchens. He didn't expect anybody to be awake, so he was incredibly surprised when he opened the portrait hole and saw at least two dozen people.

They were all watching a fight he realized. Between Lily and James. He rolled his eyes and walked towards them, trying to see what this row was about.

When he got a clearer view, he was shocked to see Lily crying hysterically, and even more shocked when she saw her slap James. She said something to him, but it was so low that he couldn't hear. He stopped in his tracks, gaping at the two.

Suddenly Lily ran, still crying, up to the dorms, screaming "I HATE YOU!". Incredulous, he looked around at all of the staring faces and snapped at them all to get to bed.

Sirius slowly turned his gaze on his best friend and slowly walked towards him. James hadn't moved an inch since Lily had fled the common room. When he got close enough to get a good look at his friend's face, he stopped walking, startled to say the least, to see tears falling down James' face.





Carina sighed, knowing she had to do this now. It was getting extremely late and she was getting cold. She just wanted to go and sleep forever in her warm bed. She looked up into Remus' face and steeled herself. He could tell he was struggling to say something.

"Remus, I'm telling you, this way it's better for the both of us."

"..Cari.."

"It'll be easier to break up now than later, because we can't stop the inevitable."

"Carina..."

"I love you and I hate to do this, but we have to face facts. There is no way for us to be together after this year, why kid ourselves and set ourselves up for the fall in June? I won't do it."

"...Rina."

"I'm sorry Remus. I don't want to do this, but I have to..."

Remus took a deep breath and cut her off by getting down on one knee and pulling out a small black box. Carina stared at him with shocked, wide eyes.

"Carina, I love you and I won't let you marry anybody else."

She was flabbergasted. "Remus, what...?"

"Will you marry me?"

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