The following day, both James and Lily felt a lot happier than they had done in ages.
Having finally swept all their previous arguments and misconceptions under the rug, they were now free to actually enjoy each other’s company – much to the delight of Sirius, who was busily taking bets on how long it would take Lily and James to lock lips, and had so far taken 10 galleons worth – and that was just from his fellow Gryffindors!
It was whilst he was collecting one of these bets from Richard Playwright, a 4th Year Gryffindor, that he noticed James’ school bag lying partially open on the floor, a small flask just visible between the gap.
Checking that Playwright was still looking for his money, Sirius bent down and pulled the flask out of the bag.
Pulling out the stopper, he sniffed it gingerly.
“Oh, James, James, James,” he grinned, shaking his head as he put the stopper back in the flask. “I never would have believed it. A love potion, huh? Well, I guess now I know how you got all those girls last year.”
Fully intending to put the flask back, he felt his heart stop momentarily as he heard a voice behind him.
“Hey, Padfoot, what’ve you got there?” said James, walking over from the portrait hole he’d just climbed through.
“Oh, nothing,” said Sirius, hastily stuffing the flask into the side pocket of his robes. “Just seeing if I’ve got enough money on me to bribe Peter into letting me copy his work, that’s all.”
“What work?” asked James, looking suddenly worried.
“That foot-long essay that we got from Binns yesterday, which is due in after lunch.”
“Crap!” cried James, now searching his own pockets. “I completely forgot about that! How much do you reckon Peter’ll take?”
“Just promise to give him Quidditch lessons – that’ll make all his dreams come true. But make sure you mention my name in the bargain – I’m not as rich as I once was, you know, seeing as how my parents have disowned me and all.”
“Your mum still sending you Howlers, huh?”
“Only every other day now, but the house-elves are starting to complain; all the explosions at breakfast are making scorch-marks on the table.”
“Why don’t you send her one back?”
“Now there’s an idea!” said Sirius, his eyes suddenly alight with mischief. “Ooh, yes, I can see it now: I could disguise it as something else, and maybe it’ll blow up in Kreacher’s hands, and…”
It was whilst Sirius was rambling excitedly about the prospect of his mother’s house-elf acquiring third-degree burns, that Richard Playwright had found the money he owed him.
“Hey, Black, I’ve got that money for you.”
“What money?” asked James, looking suspicious.
“For the bet,” replied Playwright, looking at James like he was an idiot.
“Oh, ha ha ha, Playwright, you’re such a laugh!” cried Sirius, bounding over to him, looking alarmed. “You know it’s Peter making bets, not me!”
“But you said that-”
“-Bets were despicable, and anyone taking them should be reported! Yes, I did indeed, and I tell you what! Why don’t you go and shop Peter right now, eh? Yep? Ok. Bu-bye now!”
And with that he shoved a very confused looking Playwright through the portrait hole.
Turning back around, he mimed brushing his hands together and smiled innocently at James.
“Ready for good old transfiguration, Prongs?”
James raised his eyebrows, a grin on his face.
“You’re a terrible liar, Padfoot.”
“Oh, I know,” he grinned, deciding that James didn’t look particularly mad. “And you love me for it.”
“Sirius! There will be no gay exploits today, thank you very much!” gasped James in mock outrage.
Sirius pretended to look disappointed.
“Damn it. But, in all fairness, we do need to keep you pure for Evans…”
“Shut your mouth,” said James, but couldn’t quite contain the happy smile that was spreading across his face.
“Awww,” snickered Sirius. “She like you now, does she?”
“I don’t know,” said James, his face suddenly serious. “But I don’t think she hates me, which is a definite improvement.”
“Exactly,” nodded Sirius.
“Hey guys?” said a voice from the portrait hole.
Looking round, they saw Peter was standing there, looking slightly nervous.
“Um, McGonagall sent me to tell you two to hurry up – apparently we have a really important lesson, or something.”
“Right-o,” said Sirius cheerfully, climbing out of the portrait hole and chucking Peter playfully under the chin. “Lead the way, Wormtail!”
Frowning as he rubbed his chin, he said to Sirius, “Why do you always do that?”
“Because he fancies you,” said James, who had climbed through after Sirius. “Take it as a compliment – only the hottest girls at school get that kind of treatment!”
“Thanks,” muttered Peter sarcastically, still rubbing his chin.
“Aw, come on, Wormy, don’t get all sulky!” said Sirius, pulling him into a side embrace, and rubbing his hair affectionately.
“Don’t!” said Peter angrily, pulling away from him and flattening his hair.
“Alright, stress ball!” said Sirius, holding his hands up in mock surrender. “Jeez, ever since you got partnered with Snivellus in Potions you’ve been a right moody git!”
“I have not,” said Peter tetchily, pushing past Sirius and James.
As he reached the end of the corridor, he turned around, his face cover in annoyance, and said, “Oh, and how come McGonagall says I’ve got to see her after class for taking bets on how long it’ll take James to snog Evans?!”
Sirius and James hopped into Transfiguration ten minutes later, both swearing they had no idea who’d cursed them with the leg locker curse.
Both flat-out denied that they’d cursed each other.
Once McGonagall had taken the spell off of them, they motioned to go and sit in their usual spaces, but found to their distaste that the places were no longer available.
“Why are Crabbe and Walters sat in our spaces, Professor?” asked Sirius, with a frown.
“As soon as I assign you your new places, you shall find out,” replied McGonagall crisply. “Now, Mr Black, you will be sat with Miss Ford, and Mr Potter, you will be sat with Miss Evans.”
James grinned as he took his seat next to Lily.
“Don’t get too comfortable, Mr Potter,” said McGonagall sternly. “I assure you, comfort is something that is going to be in short supply this week…”
James looked uncertainly at Lily.
“Do you know what she’s talking about?”
“I haven’t a clue, but I’m sure whatever it is, it can’t be good. And it must be something that deals with maturity, because if you haven’t noticed already, every boy has been paired with a girl.”
James looked round and saw that Lily was right.
Remus had been paired with Andromeda Black, Peter was paired with Anita Abdul and Lily’s friend Alice had been paired with Frank Longbottom again.
“Now, as you may all have noticed, you are each sat with a member of the opposite sex-”
“Oh, I don’t know Professor,” piped up Sirius. “I’m not too sure whether Snape counts as a guy or not.”
“That will do, Black,” snapped McGonagall, as the rest of class, bar Lily, snickered and Snape flushed red, “Unless you want a detention on top of your parenting duties.”
“What?!” cried Sirius, along with the rest of the class.
“That will do,” shouted McGonagall again. “Now, due to a sudden usurp of teenage pregnancies at Hogwarts-”
“Ida Miller!” shouted Ian Thomas.
“Leanne Billsworth!” yelled Kelly Taylor.
“That’s enough!” she barked. “Suffice it to say, this isn’t a situation that we’re very happy with. So, to try and combat it, we have decided to try an exercise used in the muggle world to discourage teenagers such as yourselves from not using… protection.” She said the final word as though it left a bad taste in her mouth, which caused a number of the students to snigger.
“So,” said McGonagall sharply, ignoring them, “That is why you are all being presented with one of these…”
As she said this she waved her wand, and on each desk materialised a perfect copy of a baby, complete with tear-ducts and a full set of lungs.
“Oh, bloody hell!” yelled James over the screaming. “We have to look after one of these all day?!”
“For one week, Mr Potter,” replied McGonagall, a smile threatening to appear on her lips.
“A week?!” cried James, looking horrified. “When am I supposed to study?!”
Lily snorted as she picked up the baby.
“Like you ever study.”
“Well, I will do now, if it gets me out of looking after one of these things!”
“Oh, you are so un-parental!” scoffed Lily, smiling at the baby in her arms adoringly. “What do we call them?” she asked McGonnagal.
“Whatever you wish,” she said sternly, not too happy about how pleased Lily looked. “But please do remember that by the end of the week, the babies will cease to exist. So don’t get attached!”
There were a few cries of protest at this, but again McGonnagal ignored them.
“So what are we actually ‘sposed to do with them?” asked Sirius, looking uncertain as he inspected one of his baby’s tiny hands. “You teachers don’t actually expect us to parent them, do you?!”
“Of course we do,” responded McGonnagal, eyebrows raised. “However, if you do mistreat your baby – forgetting to change its nappy, feed it, etc. – then we will know, and you shall be punished appropriately. You must also work effectively with your assigned partners. Scheduling will, of course, be needed in order for you to continue your studies and keep to other commitments, such as quidditch. However, you will not be allowed to ‘dump’ your baby on one of the staff.”
“Each couple will be issued with a baby-pack, complete with all of the products and objects that you will need. Those partnered with someone from another House will have to sort out who has the baby when, as there will be no allowance of inter-house common room meetings. If you do really need help, you may go and see Madam Pompfrey.”
And with that, McGonnagal exited the room, leaving a class full of worried-looking 7th Years in her wake.
“Anyone up for permanent baby-sitting duties?” asked Sirius dully, as he wiped baby sick off of his shoulder.
“Only if you take mine,” said James, eyeing the baby apprehensively.
“Oh, James, he’s the cutest little thing I ever did see,” cooed Lily, tickling her baby under the chin. “What shall we call him?”
“A nuisance?” suggested James. “Ow!”
“Don’t be mean – he’ll have a proper name.”
“How about Dick?”
“Alright, alright! Noah?”
“Because I want our baby to be allowed to decide for himself whether he follows Christian teachings, and giving him a name like that would seem like we were coercing him into doing so!”
“Lily, it’s not real…”
Hey guys! Thank you all so much for your reviews and encouragement! I was just wondering whether you'd like to read some trivia for the story, e.g. different ways chapters were going to end.
Let me know:)
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