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Up to this very moment, Lily had experienced the same, consistent series of sensations upon waking up each morning - a jarring sound, a subtle light, the cool shock of air as she threw back the blankets and the relief of rubbing dry, itchy eyes. 

This morning felt somewhat different. 

Where the irritating sound of her alarm should have been, it was the chirping of birds that awoke her today and, instead of diffused sunlight working it's way through curtains, she awoke to rather a series of shards than a hazy filter.  There were no blankets to discard, only a something wool and oddly shaped draped over her but she wasn't cold, nestled against something warm and unfamiliar.

She struggled to recall what had happened the previous evening that had led her to this perplexing set of circumstances but she couldn't seem to find the thread in the face of the entirely otherworldly amount of pain residing between her right eye and her left ear.  It was pain she couldn't place - more uncharted territory she supposed, weaving back through the mundane details of her yesterday in an effort to understand.

Sirius, on the other hand, was very familiar with the circumstances under which he awoke. 

Lily whimpered raising a hand to her temple when he moved beneath her, attempting to free his numb arm.

It took him a moment to get his bearings.  They were sprawled underneath one of the massive oaks at the park - a fact Sirius was painfully aware of, one of it's roots digging into his spine in a manner in which he was certain he would never recover from.  As the world around him came into focus, it wasn't the locale or the condition in which he found himself that surprised him, but the company. 

Her hair tangled around her fingers as she ran them through it, shaking it out unhappily.  Her eyeliner smudged into a dark band around her eyes and her brow furrowed with dissatisfaction, he observed her through bleary eyes, licking her dry lips and straightening her shirt, not really aware of him yet. 

Perhaps it was the foggy vision, the hangover, the sleep deprivation, the sunlight, the dysfunction of his up bringing but, for the first time, he registered that she was pretty - more than that, alluring in her disarray.  He dismissed at least six criminally prosecutable impulses before she paid him any mind, evidently finished fussing over her appearance enough to consider the world on the other side of her eyelids. 

Reality, it would seem, hit her like a ton of feather pillows.

"The hell..." she exclaimed, reaching up to massage the bridge of her nose at the volume of her own voice.  When she spoke again it was much softer but still drenched in disbelief.  "What happened?"

Sirius grinned lecherously.  "CRAFT," he answered, offering no explanation until she groggily demanded one, inspecting the cuts on her hands with obvious confusion.  "Can't Remember A Fucking Thing, darling."

Lily groaned again.

As a both a courtesy to her and a display of his excellent self-preservational instincts, Sirius neglected to mention the specific nature of his company when James, Remus and Peter had demanded to know where he'd been the previous evening. It would seem, as the day, and then the week, wore on Lily had done the same.  Whether it was embarrassment or anger, she'd made no further attempts to corner him for weighty conversations or inquire as to his well-being and he permitted her the distance, making no effort to apologize.  Put at ease by the explanation of his inheritance and the subsequent lie about a solo drinking binge, not even James brought it up again until he caught Snape glaring menacingly at Sirius across the potions classroom.

"Something has gotten into him," he muttered under his breath, glancing around the room for Professor Slughorn before gesturing toward Snape with his ladle. 

Sirius looked up from his cauldron, the liquid just two or three shades lighter than it should have been, to follow James' gaze.  Snape did, indeed, look as if something had gotten into him.  He was scowling across the dungeon so intensely that Sirius was <i>precisely</i> sure of what it was that had him in such a twist, but it was the sheepish look on Lily's face that had him annoyed.  "When is he ever not?" he asked  She was whispering something under her breath at Snape - her eyes pleading but he was evidently unmoved.

His attempt at nonchalance failed and James shot Sirius an inquisitive glare but Slughorn was leaning over their cauldrons a few seconds later, inspecting their potions.  "Keep stirring gentlemen," he warned merrily.  "Only ten minutes left."

The instruction, it would turn out, was too little, too late but they both earned passable marks on their almost correct efforts which was, as anyone would tell you, quite good enough for any Potions class.  For all of Snape's many and oft enumerated shortcomings, his skill at potion making was rivaled only by Lily's.  Getting full marks wasn't something either he or James ever expected. 

Lily begged off as soon as the class ended, weaving her way through the throng of students in the hall before either Sirius or Snape could corner her.  

Snape scowled at Sirius instead, deliberately knocking into him as he rushed past to catch her. 

"Rather like a wretched lap dog, that one," Remus observed, poking his head in the door.  Fresh off of a free period, he and Peter were impatient as Sirius and James packed their things. 

"You would think she would have better taste," James replied, making a face.

"That might not actually work in your favor, mate," Sirius said, clapping him on the shoulder before heading into the hall himself. 

Lily was far too frequently the topic of conversation for Sirius' taste - an unfortunate situation made all the more disagreeable since their drunken pseudo-tryst.  "Who is playing this weekend?" he asked, ignoring James' feigned affront and changing the subject.

"Hufflepuff and Slytherin," Peter answered, starting into the endless list of statistics he stored.

The way Remus scrutinized him all throughout lunch made Sirius nervous.  Remus was nothing if not perceptive and even the flicker of a possibility that he might already be aware put a knot in his stomach.  Idly, he derided himself for the unease.  His quasi-friendship with Lily was far from inappropriate.  Moreover, if it had been, it still wouldn't have been anyone elses business.  Nevertheless, he felt guilty when James addressed him directly.  "Are you up for it?" he asked, his expression positively aglow with the prospect of mischief.

Utterly lost on the conversation, he was somewhat mollified by the opportunity to present blind allegiance and agreed to whatever it was that James had suggested much to Remus's apparent dismay.  "I suppose that means I'll be going for an excessively long walk this evening," he lamented.

Getting down to the dungeons with James at two thirty in the morning without being spotted by a restless professor or a patrolling Auror was one thing.  Doing it with a crate of fireworks floating between them and a hand drawn schematic was another matter all together.  To boot, the round about route they had to take to avoid Filch and Mrs. Norris had them doubling back as often as they were moving forward, James' eyes never leaving the map.

When they reached their destination - the blank wall that gave way to a long hallway, the Slytherin common room at it's end - Sirius nudged the crate further into the corridor, stopping it mere millimeters from the cold stone.  "How did you get the password?" he asked under his breath, half shocked, half surprised. 

He mouthed the words "first year" before stepping through the suddenly gaping hole in the wall.

The light, artificial and green, did nothing to improve the dank atmosphere.  The air, perhaps due to it's proximity to the lake - was thick and heavy.  There was a flavor to it when it hit his tongue and it had all the olfactory appeal of an antique store - rotting wood, millenias of old dust and silver polish.

It reminded him, in short, of his parent's house.  Idly, he wondered if Regulus had stashed a few of the old elf heads hanging on his dormitory walls.

"Charming place, this," James muttered, consulting the map one more time before stepping out into the empty common area. 

It wasn't the first time they'd snuck their way into this particular portion of the castle - they'd short-sheeted Snape's bed more times than anyone could count - but, perhaps because each of them had such happy associations with Hogwarts, it was hard to imagine that a room such as this one existed within it's confines. 

"Reminds me a bit of home, actually," Sirius observed, shrugging his shoulders and tugging the cloak off of the crate and pulling a piece of tattered parchment out of his pocket.  "We should start with the whiz-bangs and work our way up..."

Rigging an intricate, time delayed, domino effect and, most importantly, destructive display of wizarding explosives took the better part of two hours.  How they were fortunate enough to keep the common room empty that long was a miracle on an order that wouldn't occur to either of them for years, but they didn't stop until the crate had been emptied of all but it's tissue packaging, Sirius stuffing the final firework between the teeth of an angry looking bust.

"Family friend?" James asked, running a trip cord across the floor for the first sleepy student who stumbled out of their room in the morning. 

"Now you mention it, yes," Sirius replied with a smirk, gesturing to the name plate - Phineas Nigellus, former Headmaster, dark sympathizer and phantom Black family member.

"Merlin, I hope Snape is an early riser," James joked on the return trip.  They were lax, wands down, map blank as the navigated the corridors and passages from memory, discussing absolutely nothing at all.

"Personally, I'm hoping Regulus has a hard time sleeping tonight," Sirius mused, cracking a sinister grin.

"That wouldn't be bad either, but I'm still hoping it's Snivillus.   Just the picture in my head is satisfying..."

Neither of them said anything for a while, the silence settling in.  Sirius meant to reply with more than an absent laugh but he couldn't muster anything to say.  James, it would seem, was similarly afflicted so they listened to nothing but the sounds of their footfalls echoing off the walls until they were back above ground.  "We would have gone with you, you know," he said finally, glancing back to check Sirius' reaction.

His family, his Uncle's funeral and the night he spent in Hogsmeade with Lily were three things he didn't want to talk about.  "I know," he answered without elaboration.

James let it drop, picking the conversation up with something he knew Sirius would talk about at exhausting length - music. 

"Going to bed?" he interrupted to ask when they made it into the common room.

Though the weight of a twenty-two hour day was beginning to bear down upon him, the prospect of going to sleep held no appeal and Sirius waived James off, going upstairs only long enough to grab a handful of albums out of his trunk and barreling back down the stairs. 

In the light of the common room, rifling through the stack, the bootleg he'd gone into London to buy a little over a month ago caught his eye.  As if his friends, his brother, Dumbledore, James' family and the entire population of Hogwarts staring and whispering hadn't been enough, the fading scar in the mirror served as a daily reminder.  Tipping the sleeve, he put it on the turntable and set the needle before slouching onto the nearest sofa, rotating the cover in his hands.  

It was stained with blood and whiskey, one color seeping into the edges of another.  How a night of

He started at it for what must have been an hour.  The fire in the grate was crackling out, the record popping and scratching uselessly as it spun past it's playable area but it wasn't those sounds that called him out of his musings, rather it was Lily on the stairs, clearing her throat.  "You're up early," she said in a whisper, pulling her sweater tighter around herself.

"Haven't been to bed," he replied, getting up to put another log on top of the dying embers, abruptly aware of how cold he'd let it become.

"I forgot, you're a rebel."

"Nothing a man likes better than being patronized," he muttered.

"Nothing a girl likes better than waking up with leaves in her hair and a hangover."

"Now you're blaming me for that?" he inquired, raising an eyebrow and picking up the album to shuffle it back into the stack. 

Lily grinned, opening her mouth to make a smart remark but stopped herself - the words choking off in her throat as she followed his movements back to the album sleeve.   "Another recommendation?" she asked, pulling it out of the pile slowly - almost certain he was going to snatch it out of her hands.

He didn't. 

Searching his psyche for the impulse to stop her, he found only resignation and, somewhere in the depths of his mind, perhaps a sense of relief as she picked at the droplet of blood obscuring the R, chipping it away with her fingernail. 

"Sirius, what happened to your forehead?"

"A minor disagreement with the light fixture," he replied evasively - finding that he left out the details more for her well-being than his.  He expected her to ask again and was surprised when she didn't - further when she reached up to stroke her fingertips across his scar instead.  "Lily," he whispered as she let them drift over his eyelid and cheek, tickling the sensitive, new skin.  "Are you trying to give me the wrong impression?"

"Maybe the right one," she teased.

"Really then?" he asked, raising an eyebrow. 

Lily drew back at once, mortified.  "You would like that, wouldn't you?" she replied, trying to maintain her composure.  Despite her best efforts, her sudden squirming wasn't lost on him and she started fussing with her clothes as if her life depended on it. 

Before she could pick a hole in the hem of her shirt, the telltale signs of other students waking up  in the floors above began to filter down, calling their moment to a close.  "I should..." she started to say, trailing off in the face of Sirius' smirk.  "I'll see you at breakfast?"

"Evans," he said as she turned to leave, grabbing her by the wrist.  When she whirled around, her pony tail brushing over her shoulders, he caught her face with his free hand and pulled her toward him, kissing her hard on the mouth.  He lingered only for a second, barely long enough breathe in the sweet citrus smell of her skin before letting her go and stepping away.  "I'll keep that in mind."

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