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The week preceding the match caused a great number of scuffles to break out between the Gryffindors and Slytherins, and two students were sent to the Hospital wing with tree branches protruding from their chest. The level of animosity between James and Snape had intensified so much, that no one wanted to be in the same room as them, for fear of being hit with a stray curse. A far as Snape was concerned, James hadn’t saved his life, rather, he had saved his own tail at the last minute after chickening out. And James was quite annoyed that Snape had been thick enough to fall for Sirius’s trap, and that he showed absolutely no sign of thanks for what he had done. As for Sirius and James, things were pretty much back to normal, although whenever Snape came up in conversation, both Sirius and James got very tense, so the subject was usually avoided. And with the match drawing nearer, the excitement united the friends again. On the morning of the match, the entire Gryffindor house dressed in red, and even Lily couldn’t help feeling wound up with anticipation for the big game. The weather could not have been more different than the last match, the sky was blue and clear, and the weather was perfectly warm. “Crystal, we’ve been through this before. You need to eat!” Erica reminded Crystal, whose excitement seemed to be winding down as nerves for the match set in. Crystal stubbornly shook her head. “Turner! Eat!” One of her teammates barked at her, and Crystal looked sulky. Apparently the team was still giving her a hard time because Sirius and James were giving her a hard time. “If she doesn’t want to eat, she doesn’t have to!” Erica shot back, waving the piece of toast she had been trying to force Crystal to eat moments before menacingly at them. “Quidditch Cup Champions! Time to head out to the pitch!” James called from the other end of the table, and many Gryffindors applauded the team as they stood up and began to follow James. “Good luck, Crystal!” Lily, Tracy, and Erica called after her. “Lily, ready to go?” Freddie asked from behind her, and Lily smiled and nodded. They had arranged to sit together at the match. “I like the shirt you’re wearing.” She told him as they walked out of the Great Hall hand in hand. “I thought you might!” He grinned. His shirt had a large Gryffindor Lion on the front, crushing a snake. The students and staff, as well as Hogwarts Alumni assembled in the stands, eager for the game to start. “It’s a great day for a game of Quidditch!” Freddie’s friend, the announcer called out, his voice booming around the field. “The year’s season comes to a close with the Quidditch cup finals, and a rivalry like no other. It’s time, folks, for the match between Gryffindor and Slytherin!” The crowd erupted, and the players took the field. “Madame Hooch is trying to convince Captain Potter and Captain Malfoy to shake hands… well that didn’t work. Never mind! The Quaffle is released and the players are off! Nott to Avery, back to Nott, intercepted by Black! Passed to Bell, back to Black! Black is blocked, swerves around, Turner’s open… but he passes it off to Bell. Taken by Avery! Avery takes it down, he’s flying, its up to Flanagan, and…! Oh, well, Slytherin scores…” The announcer commented in a disdainful tone, as the Hufflepuffs usually sided with the Gryffindors. “That show off! Crystal was wide open!” Tracy growled in exasperation. Clearly Crystal was still getting the cold shoulder. “FOUL!” The announcer’s voice cried in outrage. “FOUL!” The Gryffindor supporters hollered in agreement. One of the Slytherin beaters, Goyle, had purposely whacked Crystal with his club. Madame Hooch shared a sentiment with the Gryffindors, all of whom were on their feet in outrage, and called the foul, giving Gryffindor a penalty shot. “This really isn’t Crystal’s game.” Erica commented as Crystal massaged her arm before lining up to take the shot. She scored easily, tying the game. Lily cheered with the rest, but found herself watching James out of the corner of her eye. He was such an amazing flyer… she couldn’t help but think to herself. A memory popped into her mind, James telling her he wouldn’t let her fall. She wanted to be riding with him on that broomstick again. She wanted to be riding with him on that broomstick again, she ran the thought through her head again. She wanted to be riding with him on that broomstick again. She wanted to be riding with him on that broomstick again! It had finally sunk in, not only did she want to be riding with him on that broomstick again (I think we’ve all grasped that fact by now!), but she wanted to be with James again. She wanted James to hold her in his arms the way he had on the night of the Yule Ball, wanted him to hold her hand the way he had while they had ice skated, wanted to laugh at his jokes, wanted to share a secret smile, wanted to kiss his lips again… The crowd continued to cheer as Gryffindor scored again, but Lily wasn’t paying the slightest attention to the game anymore. She sat down vaguely, feeling lost and misplaced. She obviously wanted to be with James again, she obviously was still in love with him, then why was she sitting here next to Freddie? And why the hell was James going out with Emma? You blew your chance… she reminded herself bitterly. She blew her chance. “Potter and Malfoy go into a spectacular dive! It’ll be great to see who wins this one, folks! It all comes down to who catches the Snitch!” The announcer boomed excitedly, and Lily snapped her attention back to the game, watching James and Malfoy hurtle towards the ground in pursuit. “GO JAMES!” Lily shouted, jumping to her feet, waving her arms wildly. Tracy and Erica stared at her. “It’s neck to neck, down to the wire, edge of your seat, it’s intense! Both seekers have their hands outstretched now!” It would all be over in a matter of seconds: either James would catch the snitch, Malfoy would catch the snitch, or neither one of them would and they would both smash headlong into the ground. As if James had been holding back for a moment, he suddenly shot forward so quickly that he pulled ahead of Malfoy for a split second. That split second was all he needed. “POTTER’S GOT THE SNITCH!” The announcer declared, as Malfoy and James pulled out of the dive. James rose higher, his hand raised, clutching the tiny snitch. The stands erupted again, Gryffindor supporters were pouring onto the field from all sides. Lily and her friends shouted and jumped with everyone else. “We won! We won!” Tracy cried happily, swinging Erica around. “He caught it!” Lily shouted in excitement, dancing around like a crazy woman. “Quidditch Cup! Quidditch Cup!” The Gryffindors began to chant, and the team did a victory lap before landing. Dumbledore presented them with an enormous silver cup, which McGonagall and James each grabbed a handle and hoisted it high, the sun glinting off of the shiny metal. The crowd was persistent in reaching the field where the players had landed, and so Lily and her friends forced their way through with the rest of the school in attempts to see Crystal. “Lily, are you feeling all right?” Tracy asked her as they were jostled by the many others trying to get to the field. “Yea, I am. I just realized something, that’s all.” Lily told her, smiling as she said it. Tracy smiled back, not really sure what Lily could have realized. Lily just hoped it wasn’t too late. It had taken her awhile to realize that she needed James back, and perhaps he had already moved on so far with Emma that Lily was completely forgotten. Lily would just have to find out one way or another, promising to herself that if James had completely moved on, she would have to, too. *** “Butterbeers all around!” Sirius called to the crowded common room, packed with celebrating Gryffindors, as he tossed the bottled drinks to outreaching hands. It was one of the most raucous parties the Common Room had seen for awhile, and had been going strong for several hours. Lily smiled with everyone else, but she hadn’t managed to get close enough to James to talk yet. The entire team was surrounded by Gryffindors congratulating them and chatting with them. Her friends and her had only managed to squeeze in a quick ‘hi’ with Crystal, and the crowd was the largest around James and Sirius. Seeing an opening between bodies, Lily wormed her way through. She found herself not face to face with James, but with Sirius. “Can I help you?” Sirius asked, in a more serious tone than a normal Sirius would converse in. “Oh, I was just wondering if James was around.” Lily explained, and Sirius raised an eyebrow. “To congratulate him, that’s all!” She added hastily. Sirius shrugged. “He disappeared a while ago. Haven’t seen him since.” Lily thanked him before forcing her way out of the crowd, dejected. Flopping onto one of the couches, Lily sighed. Someone next to her sighed as well, startling her. It was James. “Oh! Um, hi!” Lily greeted him nervously. James gave her a small smile. “Congratulations, by the way. Good job, and all.” James nodded, waiting for her to continue. When she didn’t, he began to speak. “Oh, right, no biggie. I wasn’t sure if you had come to the game.” “Why wouldn’t I have come?” Lily inquired, and James shrugged. “I didn’t think you were the Quidditch type and all, to get all caught up in it.” James replied simply. “Just because I don’t play Quidditch doesn’t mean I don’t like to watch it or root for Gryffindor, you know.” Lily sniffed, smiling as she did though. “Kind of like how you don’t like to party at a party, but will be there all the same.” James added, and Lily gave him a questioning look. “You don’t look like you’re partying too much for someone who’s usually the life of the party.” Lily pointed out, and James grinned. “Maybe I’ve changed, Ms. Evans.” James said with an aristocratic air that made Lily smile. Now’s you’re chance, tell him now… a voice in Lily’s head urged. “James, I just wanted to ask you-” Lily began bravely, tensing herself for what she was about to do. “Oh, James! Here you are!” came the shrill voice of Emma, causing Lily and James both to jump. Lily slumped at being interrupted after being on the verge of revealing her feelings. James switched his gaze to Emma, who plopped down right between them. “I’ve been looking for you! What are you doing, tucked away from the party like this? Come on, James! This is your party, don’t be a party pooper!” Emma urged him, pulling him to his feet. James opened his mouth to protest, urging Lily to say something. Lily wanted to, but her voice seemed to be frozen in her throat. “Lily, what did you want to ask me?” James asked urgently, looking desperate to find an excuse to escape the party. Lily put up a pained smile, her chance gone. “Oh, never mind. I’ll ask some other time, it’s not really that important. Go enjoy yourself!” Lily told him, hating every word as it came out. James gave her a pleading look, but Emma smiled. “Let’s go, my big, strong, Quidditch Captain!” she simpered before dragging him back into the throng of fairly drunk students, as Sirius had been passing out much more than butterbeer in those bottles… Damn it! Damn it, damn it, damn it! Lily cursed herself as she watched James be led away. Lily Evans, you little coward, she told herself before heading up to her dormitory, entirely partied out. *** James laughed as he watched Sirius stagger about, trying to get on his broomstick. Sirius was very drunk, as the party had lasted well into the night and had started up again in the morning after everyone had woken up. This meant that the majority of the Gryffindors who had been drunk last night were drunk again this morning. And as James had decided to go flying to clear his mind, and Sirius had come with him, it was quite a spectacle to watch him so drunk and so uncoordinated. Sirius finally managed to get one leg over his broomstick, but Remus stopped him. “Sirius, don’t drink and fly.” he told him patronizingly. Sirius squinted at Remus, his eyes very unfocused. “That’s very, that’s good advice… Moony.” Sirius slurred out, swaying on the spot. James was in a fit of laughter as he watched, and even Remus was finding it difficult to keep a straight face. “Friends, don’t let friends, drink and fly….” Remus, James, and Peter stared at him as Sirius made this remarkable statement, and then toppled over. Remus arranged him in a sitting position and told him to stay there for the time being, which Sirius reluctantly agreed to. Meanwhile, James picked up Sirius’s broom and tossed it to Peter. “Care to take a few shots, Wormtail?” James asked good naturedly, and Peter gawked. He never got to take a few shots! “Hey! That’s my, my, my-” Sirius whined, but Remus gave him a stern look. “Yes, that is your broomstick. Honestly, I’ve never seen you so intoxicated before, Padfoot!” He told him, and Sirius broke into a wide, silly grin as James and Peter mounted their brooms. “What can I say? You’re just privileged, Moony ole’ boy!” Sirius told him, and Remus shook his head, smiling at his friend. In the air, James hovered poised between the hoops, while Peter held the Quaffle timidly. “Go on, take your best shot!” James encouraged him, and Peter nodded. Pelting at James at what Peter must have thought was a frightening speed, he chucked the Quaffle as hard as he could. The shot was very wide. “Try again, you’re just getting warmed up.” James reassured him, tossing the Quaffle back. Peter shot again, but as his hand released the Quaffle, he lost his balance. In order to stay on the broom, he did a sort of hop thing and smashed into the Quaffle he had just thrown. The ball sailed aimlessly to his right and plummeted towards the ground. Peter, his robes askew and looking very shaken, felt his ears burn as he heard their laughter. From the ground, Sirius was in pain he was laughing so hard. Remus had to admit it had been pretty funny, and chortled alongside him. Even James was laughing heartily, bobbing up and down as he did so. “It’s not funny!” Peter rebuked them, his face turning red as well. “Oh yes it is!” Sirius replied, causing them all to laugh harder. “That’s it, I’m through with being you’re fourth wheel all the time, only around for you to make fun of!” Peter declared finally, zigzagging rather ungracefully towards the ground as his friends continued their fun at his expense. “Wormtail, come now! You really should have seen yourself!” James called to him, still smiling. “We weren’t laughing at you, really. More, we were laughing with you!” Remus tried unsuccessfully to convince him, though his continued chuckle said otherwise. “Does it look like I’m laughing to you?” Peter asked them, now red with anger more than embarrassment. “You’re right, we’re laughing at you!” Sirius guffawed tactlessly. This made James laugh even harder, he just couldn’t help it but he did. Sirius always said the stupidest stuff when he was drunk. Peter threw the broomstick at Remus and Sirius, where it landed a few feet away. As he stormed off, Remus contained his glee and watched with concern. Peter had never acted like that before, they must have really hurt him. “Guys, I think we were a bit harsh.” Remus tried to explain. “Spoilsport.” Sirius teased him. “Maybe you’re right, we’ll apologize later. He should be able to take a little friendly joking, though.” James told them as he landed. Peter was enraged, more angry than he had been in a long time. Ever since he had been at Hogwarts, he had looked up to James, wanted to be just like him. He had always considered himself lucky to be a part of the Marauders, to be accepted into the group, even though he usually was more of a tagalong than anything else. But still, he had thought James, Sirius, and Remus to be his friends, although he usually did get the raw end of the deal. Well, that’s all over now! He thought to himself angrily as he headed for the castle, he didn’t need them anyways! Peter was in such a huff as he walked that he hardly realized where he was going. In the castle he stormed along corridor after corridor, and it wasn’t until he heard the voices at the other end of the hallway did he realize where he was. He had wandered down near the dungeons, and the voices whispering sounded a lot like Slytherins who didn’t want to be over heard. Peter was about to turn and head in the other direction quietly, when something in the conversation caught his attention. “And that awful Mudblood Evans, she’s got to go as well.” a voice sneered from around the corner. Peter paused, what where they talking about, she had to go? “The Dark Lord already has his sights on her, she’s too clever and bold for a Mudblood. All those arrogant Gryffindors are!” another voice said, and there was a murmur of assent. Peter had a feeling this was definitely something he shouldn’t be hearing, but he was curious to hear more all the same. “Like Potter.” a different voice suggested, and Peter recognized it. It was Snape. A silence followed this remark, and Peter held his breath as well. Could this Dark Lord be the same Voldemort that James had told him about so long ago? “The Dark Lord will see that they are exterminated as well, and the other Marauders too!” the first voice said finally, and the agreement was murmured again. Peter was beginning to become fearful. “Even Black? He comes from a good, pureblood family.” another asked, and they all considered this. “He’s in Gryffindor because he’s like the others like Potter. They all are. Except for Pettigrew, I’m not so sure about him.” the first voice, who sounded like the leader, pondered. Peter’s heart raced, they were talking about him! He might not be exterminated after all! But it sounded like only those in good graces with this Dark Lord got to live… “Pettigrew? Nah, he’s too weak, always has to have Potter and Black looking out for him.” I’ll show them! Peter thought to himself, angry again that everyone thought he was just a follower, not really one of the group. Just then, the meeting started to disperse, and Peter ducked behind a suit of armor to hide. “Well, it all comes down to who chooses to embrace what the Dark Lord has in store. The smart ones, like us.” the leader said as they began to branch in different directions. Peter chanced a peek, and recognized the leader as Malfoy. Avery, Nott, and many other Slytherins, including Snape as he had suspected, were also there. The others went on their way, but Malfoy lingered in the hallway for a moment longer. Peter continued to watch him, and to his horror, their eyes met. “What are you doing here? How much do you know? Did Potter or Black send you here to spy?” Malfoy asked him, whipping out his wand. Peter stumbled out from behind the suit of armor. Stand up for yourself, don’t rely on James or Sirius. “No.” Peter gulped. “I came because I want to join you!” Malfoy narrowed his eyes, but he lowered his wand. “And what makes you think we’d let you join forces with him?” “I-I-I could be your spy! Tell you what James and Sirius are up to! Get you valuable information!” Peter pleaded. Malfoy seemed to consider this. “That’s a possibility, Pettigrew. An interesting possibility…” Malfoy looked Peter over. “I’ll write to the Dark Lord to see how he likes the idea. But for now, you tell no one of what you have heard! No one must know you are a spy, not even the others on our side. Not yet, at least.” Peter nodded, and Malfoy smiled in a very unsettling manner. “I was wrong about you, Pettigrew. You’re the smartest Marauder of them all!”
A/N: I know, I know, another chapter without too much Lily and James action. I apologize, but these last couple of chapters were necessary for the set up, and I promise there will be plenty of Lily and James interaction in the next chapter. This next chapter is possibly the climax of the story! (Climax, not the end, very important difference!) Also, I have two more weeks of extreme studying! But come June 3, I will be a free person! Free to write HP Fanfiction for as long as I want! Yay! June 3rd!

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