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The following couple of weeks were the quietest Hogwarts had ever known since Lily and James had started there. They had not had a single argument and many were wondering if it was the calm before a storm.

They were right.

The bell rang for 4th period and Sirius Black and James Potter bounded into Potions, both flying high in the wake of the fortnight they’d had; Sirius because he’d manage to get a date with Sienna Peters, a very sexy and slightly promiscuous girl, who he’d been after for months; James because he and Lily were getting on well and both of them happy because the gig they’d performed the other weekend had gone swimmingly (and that’s meant in the literal sense – the Marauders transfigured the Great Hall into a fully-fledged swimming pool, complete with wave machine and flume). They were followed in by a weary looking Remus and an excited looking Peter.

In their excitement however, they ended up crashing into a table laden with potions.

The resulting BANG! was enough to bring Professor Slughorn waddling in, puffing and spluttering as he took in the mess in front of him.

“Boys!” he cried in despair. “Look at the mess you’ve caused!”

James and Sirius looked around at the devastation that was their once tidy Potions classroom.

“Um,” mumbled Sirius, “Sorry?”
 
James snickered at Sirius’ feeble response.

Slughorn rounded on him.

“Oh, so you think this is funny do you, Mr Potter?”

James’ smirk disappeared in an instant.

“Um,” he stammered, “No?”

This time it was Sirius’ turn to snigger.

Slughorn regarded the two of them, then rolled his eyes and sighed.

“Ok, it’s very obvious that I’m not going to get very far with you boys by just shouting at you. I think the best way to deal with this situation is to uproot the rooters, so to speak. You,” he said, motioning at James, Sirius, Remus and Peter, “Will spend the remainder of this term working apart.”

The Marauders looked dumbstruck.

“That is to say,” clarified Slughorn, “That you will not be working together. At all. In any sense.”

The Marauders continued to look dumbstruck.

Slughorn looked to the heavens.

Waving his wand, he transported the Marauders to separate areas of the dungeons.

Blinking at their new surroundings, the Marauders began to protest profusely.

“What?! Sir that’s so-”

“Unfair! We shouldn’t have to-”

“Move! It wasn’t even-”

“Us! Surely Sirius and James should get-”

“Applauded for wasting so much lesson time!”

Remus looked over at James with raised eyebrows.

“I was going to say ‘punished’ but-”

“Enough!” roared Slughorn, making the whole class jump.

The Marauders all jumped and stood to attention.

“Now, Mr Pettigrew, you will be working with Mr Snape.”

Peter looked terrified.

Snape glided across the hall, a look of contempt on his face.

Peter gulped and moved as far away from Snape as he possibly could.

“Mr Lupin, you will be working with Mr Zechnion.”

A sharp-faced Slytherin slouched over, looking disgustedly at Remus.
Remus sighed and courteously moved so that the boy could stand behind the desk.

Zechnion did not thank him for it.

“Mr Black, you will be working with Miss Fawcett.”

A giggling blonde Hufflepuff hurried over to stand next to Sirius, who was looking horrified.

“And finally, Mr Potter,” finished Slughorn. “Who to put you with…?”

Oh please, please not some goody-goody two-shoes who’s gonna make me actually work, he thought desperately.

“Ah yes,” said Slughorn. “Someone to keep you on your toes and make sure you’re behaving yourself-”

“Really, sir,” interrupted James quickly, “I honestly don’t need-”

“Miss Evans, if you could work with Mr Potter please.”

“Never mind!”

James grinned as he watched Lily make her way towards him.

“Alright Lils?” he asked pleasantly, as she dumped her bag on the table.

“No thanks to you,” she muttered, annoyed.

James looked bewildered.

“What did I do?!”

“Oh, only got me moved away from my friends is all!” replied Lily sarcastically.

James looked round the Potions room and saw Alice Summers talking awkwardly to Frank Longbottom, a shy but kind Gryffindor.

Ah well that’s not so bad, he thought, glancing round for Andromeda Black.

He spotted her threatening to hex some Slytherin boy, who kept attempting to look down the front of her robes.

Oops, he thought, looking back apprehensively at Lily, who was staring at him with raised eyebrows.

“Sorry,” he said apologetically.

“We’ll see,” replied Lily haughtily, turning to face the blackboard, on which Slughorn had just conjured the instructions for today’s potion.

“Ok, 7th Years. Today we will be brewing a Love Potion-”

At this, the entire class made an ‘ooh’ sound.

James stood up straighter and was suddenly rapt with attention.

Which,” shouted Slughorn over the babble that had just broken out, “Is a very dangerous potion, if brewed incorrectly, so I want your full attention and there is to be no messing around. If I see anyone misbehaving, they will be in detention for a month. The instructions,” he finished, “Are on the board. Enjoy!”

Lily had never seen James move so fast. The rest of the class had barely pulled out their Advanced-Potion-Making books as James crashed his cauldron down on the work-bench and fervently tried to light it.

Lily watched James in bewilderment but had to say something when he dropped Newt-Eyes all over her parchment.

“Potter!” she cried furiously, collecting up the Newt-Eyes in a cloth. “What the hell is wrong with you?!”

“Nothing,” said James quickly, grabbing the eye-filled cloth off Lily. “Sorry about that. Just got a bit over-excited!”

“I’ll say!” replied Lily, continuing to look bewildered. “You’ve never been this enthusiastic about making a potion since 3rd Year, when Slughorn said that a badly made Laughing Potion would cause excessive farting so you deliberately made it wrong!”

“Ha ha ha ha, yeah!” laughed James in an unusually high-pitched voice, causing Lily to take a step away from him in alarm.

Frowning, she said, “James, have you taken something?”

“What?” asked James, looking confused. “No why?”

“Because you look like a man possessed, that’s why!”

James looked around the dungeon and noticed all eyes were on him, the girls looking anxious and the boys shaking their heads at James’ complete lack of cool.

The Marauders, however, were grinning.

“Uh,” said James, looking bashful.

Lily rolled her eyes and put out James’ cauldron, which had just caught alight, then turned around to her own work and began to carefully slice up some Mandrake leaves.

James watched her with a curious expression and realised that he would need to keep calm in order for his plan to work…

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