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                I never thought I would have gotten into the groove of being mates with the Marauders but nonetheless I found myself scarcely separated with them.  It got so bad in fact that one Saturday morning my female friends actually came and kidnapped me so they could get some time with me.

                “You know if you’d just spend time with me when I’m with the Marauders then you wouldn’t be complaining about me not being around all the time,” I pointed out almost with a humorous bitterness as Lily and Ana tucked me away into the girl’s dormitory.

                “Ha!” Lily rolled her emerald eyes with a fiery snort.  “The moment I willingly spend time with Potter is the moment the world goes up in flames.”

                “Uh huh sure,” I smirked at her.  “Whatever you want to think, love.”

                “She’s smirking!” Ana exclaimed, latching onto my arm.  “Oh Merlin the Marauders are rubbing off on her.  Alice, get the holy water!”

                “Gedoff me, woman!” I struggled to pull away.  “I don’t need any bloody holy water.”

                “She’s swearing more too,” Ana ignored me, turning to Alice and Lily.  “I think it’s gotten worse.  We might have to do surgery to remove whatever Marauder parasite she’s got in her.”

                “Ha ha,” I laughed humorlessly, rolling my eyes.  “I don’t have a parasite, I don’t need an exorcism and it’s possible to spend time with the Marauders willingly without Armageddon being around the corner.”

                “Fine, fine,” Ana waved me off with a flick of her tan, manicured hand.  “Leave in denial all you want but don’t come crying to us when all of a sudden the only thing you know how to do is make pervy jokes and plan embarrassing pranks on innocent people.”

                “Well if you’re giving up on me that easily can I go now?” I inquired, not really liking the way that my new friends were being talked about.

                “No,” Lily barked, pushing me down onto my bed.  “We’re going to have some hen time whether you like it or not.”
                “Oh boy,” I cheered sarcastically, not being able to stop myself from rolling my eyes.

                “Shut it,” Lily went immediately into the dark, threatening tone she generally just reserved for when dealing with Potter.

                I made a mental note to discuss with James the use of Lily’s “Potter tone”, but didn’t say anything.  I waited for one of the three girls to speak and break the slightly awkward silence.  “Alright, so let’s just get this out of the way,” Ana finally decided to clear the air.  “I know this is a stupid question, but we need to just confirm it: Are you having sex with any of the Marauders?”

                I couldn’t help but laugh long and hard about that question.  I shook my head while nearly convulsing with laugher until I was nearly purple in the face from lack of oxygen, “Most definitely not.”

                “Good.”  This answer seemed to make them relax considerably.

                “So…” Alice seemed to be trying to figure out the best way how to word a question.  “The Periodical is coming out tomorrow.  Any idea what kind of twist they’re going to put on the story this time?”

                I shook my head, “If Skeeter knows what’s good for her she’ll have moved on already.  Honestly, they’re must be others who she could make look like a slag and probably deserve the title.”

                “I don’t know,” Ana said with a mischievous as she joined me on my bed.  “I heard some bloke from Hufflepuff who said that when he tried to chat you up the Marauders showed up and told him to stay away from their girlfriend.”

                I rolled my eyes.  “No, more like that bloke tried to get handsy and his mate made a joke about my boyfriends coming out to get him and the Marauders just happened to show up and intimidate him into backing off.”  I paused for a moment, thinking, “Actually now that I think about it James might have worded it to make it sound like the rumors were true in a kind of a sarcastic, threatening way.”

                “Don’t you see, Lily?” Alice teased.  “It looks like another bird has finally taken Potter’s attention away from you.”

                I snorted, “Doubtful.  He’s still as smitten as ever but I just have kept him so busy running around like a chicken with its head sliced off that he doesn’t have time to show it.  That or he’s grown up and has consciously made the decision to give you space.”

                “Potter grown up?” Lily guffawed.  “Doubtful.”

                I shrugged, “You’d be surprised.  He’s actually thrown himself into the big brother role so much that he and others are so busy trying to make sure I don’t get into any trouble that for nearly the past two weeks I haven’t even heard breathe a word about pranks.”

                “What kind of trouble could you get into that would take that much constant supervision?” Ana shook her head questioningly.

                “Pretty much anything that has to do with boys or sex,” I admitted with a small smirk.  “After Skeeter’s article the boys around Hogwarts have er seemed to take a new interest.  The poor Marauders are paranoid that I’m going to either get taken into a broom closet and raped silly or have some sort of sexual awakening where the only thing I want to do is shag anything that moves.”

                “Aw, that’s so cute,” Alice cooed.  “Not the shagging part or the rape part, but the fact that they care so much,” she quickly added with a violent blush.

                I nodded in agreement.  Though the Marauders’ constant supervision and what left almost like babysitting annoyed me I still knew it was all done with good intentions.  “So that’s enough about me and the Marauders.  What’s going on with you guys?”

                “Frank’s finally coming to terms that he’s in love with Alice,” Ana grinned widely while Alice continued to blush bashfully.  “He nearly got enough confidence to ask her to Hogsmeade next week.”

                “Really?”  I raised an eyebrow, slightly having missed the girl talk that I had missed out in the past two weeks.  “You just had to get yourself a shy boy, didn’t you, Ali?”

                “Shut up,” she made a weak attempt at throwing her pillow at me.  I easily reflect it and it fell to the floor.

                “And Ana, how’s the love life?” I rounded on my next victim with an expecting smirk.

                “I don’t know if I would call it a love life,” Ana sighed deeply.  “It’s more like random snogging in broom cupboards when I get bored.”

                I had expected that answer to an extent.  Ana never seemed the one to settle for one boy and with her evident pounding hormones it really didn’t surprise me that she had been spending some insignificant time in the broom cupboards.   “Lily, do I even have to ask?”

                She let out a dignified “hmph” but that was all she seemed to have to say on the topic.

                “Right well okay then,” I let the subject drop, sensing a little tenderness over it.  “So other than that what else have I missed?”

                “Nothing much,” Ana shrugged.  “I nearly failed the Potions exam last week.  If Lily hadn’t have been my partner in making the Draught of the Living Death I wouldn’t be able to show my face in Slughorn’s class ever again.”

                “I doubt it was that bad,” I told her confidently.

                “I nearly blew up my cauldron,” she deadpanned.  “If Slughorn had saw the way it was bubbling he probably would have kicked me out of class and not let me back in.”

                “Well at least Lily was there,” I supplied with a feeble smile.

                “Barely left for a moment to ask Severus a question and all of a sudden Ana and I’s potion is trying to eat away the dungeon floor,” Lily shook her head in disbelief.  “It was awful.”

                I tried to fight back a snicker, not wanting to inflict either one of their fiery tempers.  I played it off as a coughing fit, using the excuse that I had been out late the night before with Sirius and James on the Qudditch pitch and must have caught a chill.  They seemed to except my poor excuse without question.

                “You know we’re really bad at kidnapping people,” Ana pointed out, bored.  “I mean we got her up here and everything but what now?”
                “Uh-“ Lily seemed to be at a loss at what to say.  “Well I guess we could-”

                She was just about to finish her thought when a loud tapping began at the window.  I looked over to see James’ big barn owl with a letter in his beak.  “Just a second,” I excused myself from the group to let the owl in.

                The owl, who I had recently learned was called Merlin, flew in and perched itself on the window ledge.  I took the letter, ripping it open.   It was written on James’ messy scrawl and I could barely make out what it said.

Sophie,

Emergency.  Boy’s dorm now.

                I didn’t need any more of an explanation than that.  I gave the curious girls a sympathetic smile, “Emergency.  I have to go, but I’ll be back as soon as I can.”  I didn’t bother to listen to the furious arguments before I practically booked it down the girl staircase.  I didn’t even listen to all the gossip that was being whispered as I sprinted up the boy’s staircase.

                “What’s the emergency?” I questioned as I threw the sixth year boys’ dormitory door open.  Remus was laying in shock on his bed while Sirius and James exchanged worried glances.  Peter, like always, wasn’t there.

                “You still want your revenge on Skeeter?” James inquired with a serious expression.

                “Depends on what she did this time,” I replied suspiciously, not sure what Rita Skeeter had to do with an emergency in the middle of a Saturday afternoon.

                “Well she hasn’t done anything yet,” Sirius added darkly.  “But by this time tomorrow she’s going to be holding the number one spot on the Marauder Hit List.”

                I tried to decipher all the information that was laid out before me.  “Skeeter’s writing an article on-“ I noticed Remus’ depressed state “Remus, right?”

                The three present Marauders nodded.  “Bloody Snape, I’ll kill him,” I could hear James mutter under his breath.

                I almost asked what the connection between Severus Snape, the Marauders’ number one enemy and Skeeter was but then it hit me.  Remus with his condition was the easiest Marauder to go after.  James and Sirius were too big to go down after a little gossip column and Peter was barely worth the trouble.  Remus however wasn’t as big as Sirius or James yet more important Peter.  Snape also was infamous for spreading around the idea of Remus’ lycanthropy, but he wasn’t high enough on the social food chain to do any real damage.  “Furry little problem?” I mouthed to Remus, who nodded in reply.  “Oh fuck,” I eloquently breathed.

                “We need to take her out before she turns her article in for editing,” James commented to Sirius, obviously taking my moment as silence as I didn’t understand what was going on.

                “You can’t stop her,” Sirius shook his head.  “If we tried we’d just be reinforcing her story and making her more dramatic about it.”

                “How much damage are we looking at?” I asked clearly over the squabbling between Sirius and James over how the best was it would be to stop her story.

                “Life wrecking,” Remus groaned.

                “Alright,” I sighed, sitting at the foot of his bed.  “We have two options, Remus.  Either you tell them and I do everything I can to fix this shy of murdering her in cold blood or I can’t help you and you’re at the misery of these two.” I made a vague gesture to James and Sirius.

                “You think you can stop it?” he looked at me hopefully.

                I nodded.  “I’ll tell you what.  You educate this poor blokes on what we’re talking about and I’ll stop Skeeter.”

                “But what if you can’t?” he pessimistically brought up the possibility of me failing.

                “Well then I guess I’m just going to have do some sort of naked tap dance on the staff table to distract everyone while you guys steal all the copies,” I tried to brighten the mood with a sympathetic smile.

                He actually cracked an attempted slimmer of a smile, “I’m holding you to that, Knight.”

                “Well then I’d better get going,” I told him, jumping to my feet.

                “Good luck,” he called after me as I practically marched out of the boys dormitory.   I gave him a little backhanded wave as I continued on my war path.

                Girl warfare, I reminded myself as I tried to get my head around a subject I had never really attempted.  I understood the theory behind the way that girls waged wars with each other, but I had never really attempted it before.  Be confident, be cool, be convincing.  I looked down at my watch, noting that it was almost lunch time.

                You can do this.  You have to do this.  Remember, Remus’ future is depending on you, I gave myself a quick pep talk as I walked down toward the Great Hall with my mission in mind.  Besides, you would never live down having to do a naked tap dance in front of everyone.  If you thought the harassment was bad now then it’d be like hell on earth.

                I took a deep breath, “Show time.”  I walked into the Great Hall alone, searching the Ravenclaw table for Rita Skeeter.  Once I locked onto her blond curls, I grew a nice big fake smile and slunk my way over to her.

                “Hi Rita,” I greeted her with a sweetness in my voice that I didn’t know possible.  “Can I talk to you for a second?”

                She looked at me suspiciously through her half-mooned spectacles, “Why?”

                “Merlin, Rita, I’m not going to curse you or anything,” I laughed, knowing the reason for her concern.  “I don’t even have my wand on me.  I just want to tell you something.”

                She gave me a one-over, “Alright, fine,” she finally agreed.  “Why don’t we talk in the corridor?”

                I nodded in agreement, glad that she had taken my bait.  I followed her out of the Great Hall and into the main corridor, where she waited expectantly.  She had an annoyed, yet interested look on her face like she didn’t really want to talk to me but she was secretly hoping I would give her something to put in her column about me.  “Well first of all I want you to know that I don’t have any hard feelings about that article you wrote about me.”

                She was surprised at this, “You don’t?”

                I shook my head with my smile still plastered on my face.  “I mean that’s how the journalism world goes, isn’t it?  You write what sells and everybody gets a turn on the chopping block.  Last time was just my turn.”

                “Oh yeah,” she seemed pleased by response and relaxed a bit.

                “I also want you to know, Rita, that if you publish that article I know that you’re writing about Remus Lupin being a werewolf that I will make sure that you’re never allowed around a paper ever again,” I continued to tell her, my smile slowly becoming dark.  “He’s my mate and if you start spreading those lies about him and ruin his life then I will make it my personal life goal to ruin you from the inside out.  Your word as a journalist will mean absolutely nothing and I will bring up every single skeleton in your closet and make it look like you have your own personal cemetery.”

                She looked taken back by this, not expecting my threats and at a loss of what to say.  “I-“

                “Merlin, Rita, and getting your facts from Snape from all people,” I shook my head at her.  “Tsk tsk tsk.  I thought you’d be smart enough to at least find a reliable source when you trying to take on a story this big.  I mean he does hate the Marauders so anything he says against them is tainted.  I mean aren’t you Ravenclaws supposed to be intelligent. Well anyways just thought I’d let you know that you should be looking for a new story for tomorrow edition or I’ll be legally accusing you of slander.  And believe me, Skeeter, they’re going to take one look at you and one look at me and automatically find you guilty.  Do yourself a favor and stick to the pointless gossip that doesn’t nearly get you sent to Azkaban.”

                With that I gave her one last almost demented smile before flouncing off.  Just by seeing her expression when I mention Azkaban I knew that there was no way in hell that she was going to run that article.  I had won and it felt fantastic.

                “Wow, colour me impressed,” I heard James’ amused voice from behind me.

                I barely had time to stop myself from jumping in surprise.  I looked behind me to see Sirius, Remus and James beaming at me as they uncovered themselves from what I was sure was the notorious invisibility cloak heirloom that James had bragged about inheriting when we were younger.

                “And that class is called Manipulation 101,” I told them with a bit of a triumphant smirk.

                Remus grinned at me like he belonged in an asylum.  “Thank you,” he gushed, practically scooping me up in his arms and swinging me around.  “Thank  you, thank you, thank you.”

                “You’re welcome,” I hugged him back.

                “Are girls always that vicious with each other?” Sirius voiced his amusement in the entire situation.

                I shook my head, “Nah.  Just when we get angry or jealous usually though it’s not exactly a common behavior for me so I’m not really sure.”

                “It was beautiful though,” James beamed at me proudly.  “I thought she was going to cry when you mentioned Azkaban.  There’s no way in hell that she’d have the balls to run the story now.”

                “Yeah but you forget that the article is due tomorrow and she doesn’t exactly have much time to find something else,” Sirius pointed out pessimistically.

                “Exactly why I had to be the one to confront her,” I reasoned with a satisfied smile.  “Like she wrote in her article she expects me to go after the other Marauder members.”

                A slow look of realization dawned on Sirius’ face and he grinned, “You are one sly little bird you know that, Soph?”

                “You have no idea,” I cheekily replied.

                “That reminds me, didn’t you and Remus have something to tell us?” James reminded us.

                I looked at Remus, who was still trying to and failing at crushing my ribs with his hugging, “You didn’t tell them?”

                “We decided we’d rather watch you in action and I’d tell them later,” Remus shrugged almost meekly.

                I rolled my eyes, “Well fine then you can tell them while I try to go calm Lily, Ana and Alice down about why I had to run off on them.”

                “Sorry about that,” James looked abashed.  “I just figured we’d probably need your help to get to Skeeter and it turns out I was right.”

                “Don’t worry about it,” I shrugged it off.  Suddenly I smirked at the thought at what he had interrupted, “You really only hurt yourself on that one mate.  All we were doing was discussing you.”

                “Really?” his voice went up an octave, almost squeaking with delight.

                “Mhm and just if you’re wondering she still thinks you’re a bigheaded git,” I told him with a smirk.

                His hopeful look was wiped right off his face and for a split second there was a hurt expression before it turned straight into irritation.  “Just had to get my hopes up, didn’t you?”

                “Hey at least you know she’s not ignoring you,” Remus pointed out optimistically.

                “Yeah she just hates me,” James brooded.

                “Ah but the opposite of love isn’t hate and jumping over from hate to love is easier than from indifference to love,” I wisely remarked.

                “You think?” James got that happy little gleam in his eyes again.

                I nodded, “You’ve just got to make it so when she’s obsessively ranting about you she’s saying good things instead of the bad stuff.”

                Sirius gave me a mock glare, “Go before you give him more false hope.”

                I saluted him before skipping off in the opposite direction to find the irate girls.  As I left I could hear James yell at Sirius, “What do you mean false hope?!”

                I sniggered a little bit and muttered under my breath, “Gotta love my boys.”

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