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It was finally Friday, and Alex found herself sitting in the Gryffindor common room by the fire, reading one of her favourite books: The Count of Monte Cristo. The Common Room was slowly starting to get more crowded as more students came in from dinner. Lily sat opposite from Alex, reading a giant textbook borrowed from the library and already working on her essay for transfiguration (asssigned less than 3 hours ago). Alex stretched and yawned, and thought about her first week at Hogwarts. It went by quickly and ordinarily enough for her. Going about the castle from class to class and not getting lost or trapped on a moving staircase, making new friends (and actually remembering their names), she felt like she was finally starting to settle in. She had become quite good friends with Lily, and Remus had been right, she was a great person. The only problem was that Lily knew a bit too much about Alex for someone who she was just supposed to have met, but she learned to ignore that, and Lily was quick to catch on to mention as little about Buckingham as possible. Lily was good company, not to mention remarkably brilliant, and Alex found herself grateful for her presence in each of her classes.

And surprisingly, she was starting to get annoyed of Sirius and James, who, as she discovered one afternoon, had their own fan clubs, complete with adoring girls and all. Remus had his fan club too, but they were more of a secret society, whereas the other two were right there out in the open. And the worst thing about it all, was that they actually seemed to enjoy all the attention they were receiving from those girls…well, Remus not so much, considering his fan club wouldn’t exactly be secret if they openly admitted their love for him… but still. Alex could bet that he really did know about it’s existence and did enjoy the subtle attention. And so it was that Alex learned about the Marauders- the four Gryffindor boys (including Peter Pettigrew), who were the talk of the school. They were Hogwarts’ most eligible bachelors (excluding Peter), the pranksters extraordinaire, the epitome of cool and somehow the most brilliant students, after Lily Evans of course.

And she hated to admit it, but Sirius had been right about the Slytherins: they were bad news. And befriending them was not a good idea, if it was at all possible in the first place. They were mean, especially the group of 7th years led by Lucius Malfoy and Bellatrix Black. Her sister, Narcissa, didn’t seem that bad, but she was definitely on their side. And as for Severus Snape…he was a mystery. And Alex repeatedly told herself (though she was not quite sure if she believed it), that he was different, while other Gryffindors, mainly Sirius, repeatedly told her to stay away from them, or she’d get herself into trouble. What a hypocrite! Alex thought, here he is telling me what not to do, and then he goes taunting them, and getting himself into a duel. 

A loud noise snapped Alex out of her thoughts. She looked around, and was not at all surprised to see the Marauders entering the common room, a large group of girls right on their tails. She rolled her eyes and went back to her reading. She was just about to get to the part when Edmond Dante escapes prison, when James’ voice rang through the air.

“Attention! Good evening Gryffindors! James Potter, Quidditch Captain speaking.”

At the mention of quidditch, Alex’s head whipped up.

James continued, “This year we are short a chaser and a beater, so we’re going to have some tryouts tomorrow. Everybody is welcome. Bring your broom. And if you don’t want to try out, come and support those who do! Quidditch pitch, tomorrow at eleven!”

And with that, he left a small notice on the board in the common room, and went to rejoin the rest of the marauders.

Alex leant forward, “Hey, Lily. Are you going to try out?”

“What? For quidditch?” Lily asked in shock.

“Yeah, don’t you like it?”

“I do, but I don’t want to be on the team,” Lily replied. “And even if I did, there haven’t ever been any girls on the team, and I doubt this year will be different.”

This time it was Alex’s turn to be shocked, “No girls?”

Lily nodded and went on reading. Alex fell back onto her chair, and looked at the marauders with an evil eye. Standing up, and leaving her book in her place, she marched over to them.

“Oi, James,” she said.

“Hey Alex, what’s up?” he replied casually.

“What’s up is why there aren’t any girls on the team,” Alex said, folding her arms over her chest.

James looked up and met her eyes. Laughing, he answered, “Well, that’s easy. Girls don’t play quidditch.”

“I think you mean, can’t play quidditch,” Sirius said, joining in James’ laughter.

“Wanna bet?” Alex asked.

“Lets be honest here, Alex,” James started. “There aren’t any girls on the team, any of the teams, simply because the guys are all better.”

“Oh? And you know this how…?” Alex asked, raising her eyebrows. “Have any girls ever tried out for the team?”

“Er…Yes. Yes there were some…?” he replied slowly, scratching his head and looking to Sirius with a pleading glance.

“Look, the point is girls simply don’t stand a chance of making the team, therefore why should they try out?” Sirius explained, leaning back in his chair.

“I resent that kind of thinking,” Alex said. “Can I try out then?”

Their laughing tripled and even Remus chuckled a little. They stopped when they noticed Alex was looking dead serious, clearly not amused.

“You’re actually serious?” James asked, trying to calm down.

“James, we’ve been over this a million times: I’m Sirius,” Sirius said, looking rather…serious.

“Yeah, I am,” Alex continued. “I want to try out, is that a problem? Are there rules that state only guys with inflamed heads can try out or be on the team?”

“Well…no,” James said, a little hesitantly. He took a moment to think about it before answering, “I guess I’ll see you on the pitch tomorrow then, Edwards.”

“Damned right you will,” she spat, and marched back to her place by the fire.

“Prongs! Why the bloody hell did you tell her that for?” Sirius cried in a very dramatic fashion. “Now she’ll probably get clobbered out there, her pretty face will be ruined and her hopes and dreams will be shattered for ever.”

“Well what was I supposed to say?” James asked. “She looked ready to kill if I answered otherwise. Besides, if she wants to try out, she has a right to. It doesn’t really make any difference to us.”

“She seemed pretty adamant about it,” Remus spoke for the first time. “Maybe she can actually play.”

At this the other two just started to laugh again. 

                                                                       ***

Saturday morning came quicker than ever. Getting dressed in some comfortable jogging pants and a sweater, she went downstairs to get some breakfast. Since it was early, the corridors and staircases were mostly empty, as was the great hall. But as she entered it, she was stunned to see 4 boys sitting at the Gryffindor table. She neared them slowly, and was taken aback by their mischievous smiles of innocence as they looked up at her.

“Good morning,” Remus said.

Alex gave him a nod back and tentatively sat down beside him. The other three gave her a smile or nod before hunching over some pieces of parchment and discussing something in hushed tones. She leaned toward Remus, “What’s going on?”

Ignoring the chill that ran down his spine as she spoke into his ear, Remus whispered back, “Can’t exactly tell you. Let’s just say, you’ll be safer not to eat the plum pudding at dinner tonight.”

Sirius smacked him on the upside of his head. “Remus! This is marauders only business!”

“It’s not like it matters. The plum pudding is only going on the Slytherin table anyways,” Remus said, massaging his head.

“Not yet its not,” James interjected, looking up. “Which reminds me, who’s going to go down to the kitchens and handle that?”

“I’ll do it,” Sirius volunteered. “They love me down there.”

Alex stifled a snigger, and quickly stuffed the remainder of her muffin into her mouth to keep herself from making a snide comment. Once she swallowed, she asked, “Can I come?”

“Er…well, the kitchens are a marauder secret…so…I dunno…” Sirius stumbled over his words, a little too purposefully. But Alex knew what he was up to, and no way was she going to fall for his you’ll-have-to-beg-me-to-get-what-you-want act.

“Pfft. I’ll take you there later, Alex,” Remus said.

“Really? Cool,” she said and flashed him a smile before going back to her muffin.

“On the other hand,” Sirius quickly continued, “The kitchens aren’t that much of a secret to begin with. I can take you there…now.”

Alex smirked, “Thanks, but I’d rather go with Remus anyways.”

“Yeah right.”

“No, I actually would,” Alex said. And the truth was, she really did. She felt more comfortable around Remus, and over the past few days they already became good friends. She really liked him…A little too much? Alex asked herself.

Sirius seemed to be struck by lightning, and Alex noted the look on his face before standing up, with a crumpet in hand, “Well, better get going. I’ll see you all in a couple hours on the pitch.”

“Bye,” Remus said, and Alex gave him a small, but very noticeable wink before leaving the four boys to themselves.

As soon as she was out of sight and earshot, Sirius turned on Remus, “What are you playing at, Moony?”

“Nothing, you’re the one who’s acting all strange around her,” Remus replied casually.

“I’m not acting strange at all!”

“Actually, you kind of are mate,” James said, and before Sirius was about to respond, he continued, “Anyways, back to more pressing matters…”

“And why in Merlin’s name would she give you a wink?” Sirius asked, sounding very much flabbergasted.

“Oh, I don’t know, to make you insanely jealous and crazy?” Remus said with a small smile.

“Me? Jealous?” Sirius asked, a little too innocently.

“Padfoot, I assure you there is nothing going on between us. If you want to make a move on her, go right ahead.”

“Now hold on just a second. Who says that was on my mind?” Sirius inquired, but when both Remus and Peter scoffed, he tried a different strategy. “Even if it was, I don’t need your permission. I mean, of course there’s nothing between you two.”

“GOOD! Now that that’s settled, can we please focus here?” James interrupted, starting to get frustrated. “Padfoot- kitchens, now.”

Sirius stood up from the table and disappeared behind the great oak doors of the great hall, leaving the other three to their conspiring.

                                                                      ***

Alex gripped her broom tightly as she made her way down to the pitch with Lily by her side.

“Are you sure you want to do this?” Lily asked, looking rather agitated.

“Lily, I’ve already told you, I’ll be fine. I know what I’m doing,” Alex said, starting to get a little bit annoyed of the worrying redhead.

“But what if you get hit by a bludger? Or fall off your broom…or-”

“I’ll be fine. Anyways, it’s a risk I’m willing to take for the sake of equality in terms of athletics,” Alex interrupted, stopping for a second as she realized what she just said and how princess-y it sounded. “They’re being right little chauvinistic sexist pigs, and I have something to prove.”

It was silent for the rest of the walk to the pitch, until they reached the entrance to the stands. Lily stopped and looked at her, and out of nowhere, gave her a hug. “Good luck, Alex. Show them what you got.”

Alex, though shocked, returned the hug, “Um, thanks.”

Lily gave her one last smile before turning towards the stands, and running up them. Alex took a deep breath, and walked onto the pitch. There, in flaming red robes stood the current Gryffindor team, with Sirius and James up in front. To their side stood a small group of Gryffindor students, all with brooms in hand.

“Well, well, nice of you to join us, Miss Edwards,” James said, and all heads immediately turned to look at her, followed by whispers. Alex shook her head and marched right up to the front. “And what position will you be trying out for today?”

“Chaser.”

“Good. Well then if you would please step to this side,” said James motioning to the side where Sirius was standing. “Now then, I think that’s about everybody. So, welcome to all. What we’re going to do is a couple general warm-ups and then we’ll split up the beaters and the chasers, and individually test them. First thing I would like to see, is a test lap around the pitch. So everybody mount your brooms, and when I blow the whistle, off you go. Try to go as fast as you can. Ready…3…2…1…”

The whistle blasted, and Alex kicked off as hard as she could from the ground. She was in the air within a split-second, and on her way around the pitch, which zoomed by her at an incredible speed. Risking a quick glance behind her, she was pleased to see she was ahead of everybody else by quite a distance. Turning back to face forwards, she leant into her broom, and coaxed some more speed out of it. A couple of seconds later, she landed in front of Sirius and James, who both looked completely stunned.

James cleared his throat, “Um…yeah. Nice lap.”

The others soon landed behind her, looking just as shocked, if not a little embarrassed, and James went on to explaining the next task. After a series of quaffle throws, everybody was once again stunned to see Alex come out victorious. A couple more exercises later (out of which Alex came out looking very good indeed), James said it was time to start the individual trials. First were the beater tryouts and after they had chosen a 6th year boy, Alex flew over with the rest of the chaser wannabes to the centre of the pitch, where they were instructed to, one by one, trying to score on their keeper. They each had five shots. And Alex was successful in each one—the only one to do so.

“Alright, that’s it for the chasers. Please wait while the team deliberates,” James said, and then huddled with the rest of the team. Whispering, he said, “So, who’s it going to be? I for one, think Alex was outstanding.”

“James, she’s a girl!” Sirius said. “I mean, sure she’s better than the rest of the guys that tried out, but honestly, how do you expect to win with her on the team? Everybody would target her, just because she’s a girl, and we’d probably be a chaser short most of the time.”

He earned some nods and murmurs of agreement, but James thought otherwise. “Or, everybody will ignore her because she is a girl and can therefore do the least damage, leaving her free to score.”

His statement was met with more murmurs of approval. “Alright then. Does anybody have a problem with Alex? Other than the fact she’s a girl?”

“No,” they all chorused… minus Sirius.

“Right, it’s Alex then,” he said, and ignoring Sirius huff, turned to face the would-be chasers. “We have come to a decision. Alex Edwards, congratulations! As for the rest of you, thank you for trying out and…there’s always next year.”

Some of the boys congratulated Alex, the others just walked away after giving her evil glares of doom.

“So welcome to the team, Alex,” James said, giving her a pat on the back. “We have practices three times a week and I expect you to come to all of them or else…”

“Right,” she replied with a smile.

“Just one question, though. Where did you learn to play like that?” he asked, and the rest of the team leaned in to hear her answer. Evidently, they were all curious as to why a muggle princess was practically a pro quidditch player.

“The country side. What, you didn’t expect me to stay put at Buckingham all year long, did you?” Alex asked. She shrugged, “I had a couple of lessons, and then practice makes perfect.”

A few chuckles were heard, and then the team slowly left the pitch, a couple talking with James still. Sirius walked toward her.

“Well, Edwards, you win. Girls can play quidditch. Just don’t start complaining if you get hurt or you’re tired or you break a nail or some other rubbish like that. You’re one of the guys now, so you’ll have to toughen up.”

“And how do you know I’m not tough already?”

“Please. One, you’re a girl. Two, you’re a spoiled princess,” Sirius counted off on his fingers. But as soon as he mentioned princess, he wished he hadn’t, especially with the word he used before it. Alex was now glaring at him, looking very, very murderous, one hand clenched at her side. He tried to laugh it off, but Alex only walked away, doing her best to keep her mouth shut. “Aw, come on Alex. You know I was only kidding!”

James walked up to Sirius, “Do you think we’re underestimating her a bit?”

“What?”

“Well, if she could play quidditch that well, who knows what else she’s capable of? And now it looks like both of us are on her list. Well, you more than me.”

“What are you getting at, Prongs?” Sirius asked impatiently.

“All I’m saying, is maybe we should tread softly around Miss Edwards,” James said.

“What for?”

“Well, if she is a spoiled princess like you said she was…which by the way wasn’t a very sensible thing to say…she’ll probably snap one day, and then…” he said, as he started waving his arms around frantically. Sirius only looked at him with a raised eyebrow. “Well…you get the point.”

“Whatever you say, mate,” Sirius replied and turned to head back towards the castle. He stopped short, and his eyes narrowed when he saw Alex take Remus’ arm as he lead her back to the castle.

James followed Sirius’ gaze, smirked and said, “I guess she’s getting that tour of the kitchens now…” 

 




Author's Note: Hello!  First off, thanks to all readers and reviewers, as usual.  It really means a lot to me, and yay, this story has 2200+ reads which is great!
Well, I hope you liked this chapter, even though it was sort of in-between-ish, but you know, I need to set the base for things that will start happening very soon...
Also, this chapter went to my beta, Dead's cooler than Holey, who did an awesome job, so *applause*... =)
Oh, last thing to mention before I leave you to reviewing (please review!), I will be scattering some overused cliches throughout the story, because really, which fic is complete without them?  But nothing too corny or bad, I promise, lol.  The two in this chapter were:
1- The girl, the jealous guy and the jealous guy’s best friend.
2- The Sirius-serious pun/joke thing.
Thanks for reading, and hope you stay tuned for the next chapter!
~The Saint~
ps- The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas.  Really good book.  If you've seen the movie, forget about it and read the book instead.

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