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Warning: Lots of pointless banter and shenanigans unessential to the plotline ahead. Gotta love the Marauders!

          “Padfoot, can you pass the butter?” James mumbled through a mouthful of bacon one Saturday morning at breakfast. He elbowed the boy sitting beside him. Sirius did as he was told and grinned at Lily, who was staring at James, her mouth agape with poorly-concealed dismay.


          “Merlin and Morgana, James,” she started, her lip curling, “don’t you ever eat a meal without—”


          “Ah-ah,” Sirius tutted playfully, “wasn’t it only a few days ago that you said you’d be nice to him forever and ever if I did you that favor…properly?” He winked at her and received a glower in return.


          “Yes, and you haven’t let me forget it since,” Lily muttered under her breath. Sirius raised his eyebrow pointedly at the stack of parchment on the table next to him and shuffled it around a bit. Lily heeded his warning and sighed. “Er, what I meant to say is, ah,” she amended weakly, “why so hungry, James dear?”


          James buttered his toast with a single deft, practiced swipe and took a large bite out of the slice. “Quidditch practice in an hour,” he replied as he chewed. “Gotta keep up the energy to stay warm out there.”


          “Right,” Lily mused with a smile. “Well, that settles things. We’re going to have to find someone else to teach Sirius here his table manners because evidently you won’t do the trick,” she remarked in a dry tone. “James dear.”


          Sirius pricked his ears up in a hilariously dog-like way at his name followed by the words “table manners.” Without a word he raised an eyebrow at Lily, then looked to a shrugging James for help.


          “Hey, don’t look at me, mate.” James held his hands up innocently, still clutching to a butter knife in one paw and a wedge of toast in the other. “She’s on some sort of idea to fix you up to be a proper gentleman or something like that. My advice is, you better make a run for it fast, Padfoot, before she brings out the eyelash curlers.”


          “James!” Lily glared at him, exasperated.


“Doesn’t he remember that he’s in on this plan?” Lily complained to her voice. “He’s making me out to be the bad guy, and then when Sirius gets the girl he’ll say it was his plan all along!”


“Boys,” her voice agreed sympathetically, making Lily shake her head.


          Sirius cocked his head towards her. “Sorry, Lil, I don’t think I heard you properly. James what?”


          “James dear,” she replied grudgingly. “James darling. James pumpkin.”


          James Pumpkin looked infinitely thrilled at his new name.


          Sirius chortled. “Sarcasm doesn’t befit you, Evans; that’s Prongs’ bit. But you don’t honestly think you can reform me, do you? I think you should probably look to fix up what’s waiting for you at home every night before you start doing charity work abroad.” He waggled his eyebrows at Lily, who rolled her eyes.


          “James has other attributes which well compensate for his…animalistic eating habits,” she said primly. “You, on the other hand, Black, seem to lack some of those redeeming qualities.”


          “Ooh,” Sirius winced, rubbing his chest as if Lily had punctured him, but recovered a moment later. “You are too kind, Evans. Always ready to help a man in need.”


          There was less than a fraction of a second of silence in which huge goofy smirks began to spread across the boys’ faces before a muffled thud could be heard under the table and Sirius howled in real pain. “OWWW, SHE KICKED ME!” he cried, clutching his right leg. Heads all across the Great Hall turned around to look at the source of the noise. “HOLY HELL, THAT BLOODY HURT, YOU BANSHEE!”


          “I’ve had enough of your dirty jokes at my expense,” Lily proclaimed, her mouth set firmly. “It’s much too early in the morning for such distastefulness. Besides, just because we’re friends again doesn’t mean I won’t indulge myself in keeping you in line once in a while.” She shot a Cheshire Cat grin at Sirius, who whimpered and held his hurt leg.


          Peter, who had looked away from the table to watch something across the Great Hall, switched his attention back and shot Sirius a concerned look.


          James belched delicately into a napkin and rose from his seat. “Well, not that this witty banter isn’t socially engaging, intellectually stimulating, and many other adjectives of the productive nature, but I must be off to change for practice and polish my broom. I shall catch you, Aristotle”—he gave Lily a kiss—“and you, Plato”—Sirius puckered up hopefully but received only a clout on the side of the head for his trouble—“at lunch.”


          Sirius frowned, confused, as James whisked away. “Wait, what did he just call me? Play-doh?”


          “Plato,” Lily giggled, her eyes shining in admiration. “Hmm, I guess James knows his philosophers of the ancient civilizations, too.” She sighed dreamily then pulled a sad face at the boy sitting across from her. “Yet another attractive quality in a man that you have yet to obtain, Sirius.”


          “Hey, I know more about Muggles than Prongs does,” Sirius protested. “Led Zeppelin, Harley Davidson, all the famous ones!”


          Lily snorted into her orange juice.


          “You wound me, Lily,” Sirius sniffed. “So, now that the Great Anglo Philosopher James Pumpkin has departed, let’s get down to business, shall we? I have made you the list that you requested.”


          He reached over to the pile of parchment he had been shuffling earlier, and Lily stared, jaw slack, in dismay at the huge stack. Sirius smirked at her before reaching to the very bottom of the pile and extracting out a single sheet. His smile was smug. Lily was not amused. She snatched it huffily out of his hand before he could give it to her.


          “Everything is such a joke to you, Sirius,” she grumbled, but her heart wasn’t in it. She was too busy examining the (surprisingly short) list of names scrawled in Sirius’s elegant script, all fifth-years.


Elaine Kelly

Jennifer Deleon

Ronnie Carlyle

Darla Channing-Horst

Gloria Chapman

Irina van de Brouck


          Lily let out a surprised noise. Printed in large hasty letters at the bottom of the list, hanging there like an afterthought, was the name


Lily Evans Potter


          She struggled with herself for a few painful moments before a smile spread grudgingly across her face. “Very funny, Sirius,” she said, her voice dry but her mood rising with excitement. It seemed that she and James knew Sirius even better than she expected—two of their guesses had hit the mark. (Whatever James said, Lily was not about to give up on Gloria just because she played on an opposing Quidditch team. She’d simply hide this scheme away in the case that Ronnie did not work out.) Their plan would be moving along with a minimum amount of coercion involved, which was good considering that both she and James’s coercion skills needed some brushing-up.


          “So, what’s the verdict then?” Sirius did his best not to appear too interested. “Is your friend on there or isn’t she?”


          Lily giggled as Sirius peered subtly up at her through his eyelashes while pretending to examine his nails. “She is,” she acknowledged rather mysteriously, but before he could ask the burning question, Lily got up from the table. “I need to meet Rosie up to do some homework,” she said with an infuriating smile. “I’ll see you later, okay?”


          Sirius let out an all-suffering sigh. “That’s it? I do all that heavy thinking and that’s all I get?”


          “Don’t you worry; we’ll sit down with the rest of the team after lunch for a nice long chat.” Lily grabbed a last wedge of toast, spread it with jam, and headed out the doors of the Great Hall.


She hadn’t gotten more than three steps past the Entrance Hall when someone snagged her around the waist and pulled her into a small hole in the wall, away from the flow of students coming and going. A very warm body pressed her into the wall beside a shining suit of armor.


She squealed, “James, you scared me!”


James could feel her pounding heart against his chest. “Nonsense,” he scoffed, his eyes dancing. “You knew I’d be out here solemnly awaiting the news. I had to hide, because Padfoot would take the mickey out of me if he knew I had anything to do with you and your little list.” He noted Lily’s exultant smile. “Well?”


“Success!” Lily elbowed him. “I told you my suggestions were better than yours.”


“Why, you’re a certifiable Seer, Lily-Flower,” James sighed. He kissed her on the nose and extended an arm gallantly to let Lily exit the alcove first. “Let me walk you up to the common room, and then I really must be off to practice.”


“You don’t have to if it’s out of your way. I don’t want you to be late.”


“No, it’s no problem at all,” James insisted. His expression had suddenly turned grim and determined. “I have to make sure you get there alright, don’t I?”


Lily knew better than to protest when James got into such a mood. Even back before they were friends, he was always quick to jump to her defense. It had irritated her then, seeing as he had had no claim over her. But now that he did have a claim over her, she didn’t really half mind.


She supposed it was the stag in him that made him so protective of her, but still, his behavior of late was curious.


“What’s going on with you boys lately?” she asked as they began to walk up the stairs. “It seems that ever since we got back, I can’t leave Gryffindor Tower without stepping on one of you. You and Remus, especially. If I’m not with one of you, I’m with the other.”


Lily bit her lip and frowned. “It’s so strange. It’s like you pass me back and forth between you or something—like you’re afraid to leave me alone!”


“Heh-heh,” James chuckled, nervous. Lily was always too bright for her own good. “Well, er, we’re just watching out for you.”


When Lily looked at him strangely, he began to sweat under the collar. As eager as James was to show Lily how ugly a character Snape really was, he didn’t want to worry her or, worse, scare her. “Er—what I mean is, I’m still in awe that you’ll give me the time of day, Flower,” he amended with a grin. “Moony is just around to keep me from accidentally crushing you in case I faint from your overwhelming beauty and fall to the floor.”


Lily rolled her eyes, momentarily distracted from the conversation. Her mind snapped back to the matter at hand. “You’re going to talk to Ronnie after lunch, right? I’ll recruit Remus and Rosie to help us out with Sirius, too. I have a feeling he’s going to need as much persuasion as we can scrounge up.”


“Just leave it to me,” James said, pounding his chest stoutly and voicing the password. “Johnnycakes.”


The portrait of the Fat Lady swung open and Lily stepped in. “Have a good practice, Pumpkin,” she said with a grin. She gave James a tight hug and a healthy kiss before waving to Rosie by the fire.



          “So, team, the first order of business,” Lily said primly, “is the general evaluation.”


          Lily, Rosie, Sirius, and Remus were sitting in a circle in a quiet alcove at the end of an empty corridor on the fifth floor after a quick lunch. James had excused himself from the table and scurried off after whispering in Lily’s ear that the common room would be too noisy and he suggested going elsewhere for Sirius’s lessons. Remus and Rosie had complied with her plans, though with considerably less enthusiasm for the idea. They sat awkwardly side-by-side on a short couch across from Lily, as if they were the ones being evaluated and not Sirius. Now Remus raised a questioning eyebrow.


          “We have to see what Sirius already knows, and what we need to teach him,” Lily explained.


          Sirius glanced around doubtfully at the deserted hallway, looking for someone to come to his rescue. Unfortunately, his usual rescuer was nowhere in sight. “Where’s Prongs?” he asked. “Shouldn’t he be partaking in the torture and embarrassment as well?”


          “James has something he needs to take care of. Now, Ro, if you please.”


          Lily gestured for Rosie to move next to Sirius. She would be standing in for Ronnie - or simply “the girl,” as far as she and Remus knew. Rosie shot an uneasy glance in Remus’s direction before complying. (Their relationship still had not fully recovered from its shaky pre-holiday phase, despite the truth behind the phrase “absence makes the heart grow fonder,” and Rosie was afraid this would make it terribly awkward.)


          Lily sat back with a roll of parchment and her new fountain pen, ready to take notes. “Alright, Sirius. Go ahead and make some conversation, then.”


“Make it as terrible as you can,” Sirius’s voice advised. “They’ll get tired of their own game soon enough.”


          Remus cringed as Sirius grinned. “So, Rosie, you’re looking a bit worn out lately. Are you tired?”


          Rosie frowned. She couldn’t help but smooth her hair self-consciously. “Er…I do? No, I’m not tired, not particularly.”


          “Really? That’s odd. You must have the endurance of a thousand-year-old hippogriff, then, because you’ve been running through my mind all day.”


          Remus, Rosie, and Lily froze in horror. “Oh,” Rosie murmured, aghast. She struggled for words. “Well, um, funny animals, hippogriffs are. Did I ever tell you about the time one almost ran away with my cousin Georgia?” Sirius shook his head. “No? We were at the Wales Magical Animal Preserve, and I guess the poor animal thought Georgia was one of her children because she simply swooped down and grabbed her.”


          Sirius shrugged. “Your poor cousin,” he said, his voice rueful. “Some people just have rotten luck in life. Does she really look like a baby hippogriff?”


          Lily was scrawling furiously on her parchment, her eyebrows furrowed, while Remus looked on over her shoulder, nodding gravely.


          “Ah, no, she doesn’t,” Rosie said. “But I’m beginning to feel like you’re making this difficult on purpose.”


          “What?” Sirius smiled innocently. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m being a perfect gentleman.”


          Lily shook her new fountain pen at him in aggravation. “Are you kidding?” She whipped the parchment about in front of Sirius’s face. “Look at all the things that we have to work on already, and we’ve only just begun!”


          Sirius rubbed his chin. “Isn’t that the pen I gave you?”


          “Yes. What about it?”


          He sniffed. “You’re using it to inflict emotional pain and suffering on me. My present has betrayed me.”


          “I’m beginning to think he’s hopeless,” Remus sighed. “What if we really just can’t help the hopeless case?”


          Lily shook her head. “You give up too easily,” she informed him. “Let’s try again.”



          Ronnie was wandering down a corridor looking at paintings and occasionally conversing with their occupants when James found her.


          “James!” Ronnie hugged him. She hadn’t talked to her friend in a while. “How are you, mate?”


          “Good, good.” James put on his best espionage-and-intrigue expression. “Listen, I have something to discuss with you. It’s a rather abrupt and out of nowhere sort of business, but it’s quite important.”


          Ronnie raised her eyebrows. “Oh? Can’t be good, if you boys are involved.”


          James laughed. “Actually, it has the potential of being very good or very bad, depending on your own personal feelings towards a certain man by the name of Sirius Orion Black.”


          “Hrm.” Ronnie made a surprised noise. “Sirius?”


          “Yes ma’am. The word on the street is, he’s looking to romance you, if you’ll have him.”


          “You have to stop talking like that, James, or I can’t take you seriously.”


          “…sorry. So, what do you think?”


          “Well,” Ronnie began, looking thoughtful, “he certainly is attractive. There’s no denying that. But I’m not fond of his past dating habits – he never takes his girlfriends seriously, does he? I don’t think he values them as friends.”


          “You’ll never know unless you try,” James advised.


          “I don’t know. He’s a fun guy, but he’d probably make a horrible boyfriend.”


          “Yeah, but that’s what Lily said about me since the first time I asked her out in third year. And look how happy we are now.”


          Ronnie cocked a skeptical eyebrow. “I’m pretty sure that’s not what Lily Evans said about you.”


          “Details,” James said airily. “Besides, Padfoot’s been working on behaving himself.”


Ronnie snorted. “That’ll be the day.” But despite her words, she seemed to become more and more pleased with the whole idea. It was quite flattering, after all. A thoughtful look crossed her face. “Maybe I’ll go talk to Evans.”


James grinned. “Ace idea!”


Ronnie turned to head down the hall in search of Lily. James eagerly tried to follow, but Ronnie grinned and said, “Alone. I don’t want you giving her any ideas. I’ll see you later, James.”


James shrugged and headed off in the other direction. Either way, the plan was in the bag.



          Ronnie hurried down the fifth floor corridor, looking for Lily Evans. Her heart was pounding in excitement – James’s news had exhilarated her more than she’d wanted to admit to the boy. As much as it went against her better judgment, she was happy about the rumor that she held Sirius’s affections.


          She rounded a corner and saw a flash of red near the windows. “Evans!” she said. “I’ve been looking for you. Someone told me you were about.” She looked more closely at Lily’s companions. “Oh. Hi, Remus.”


          “Hello,” Remus greeted her.


          “Coincidence,” Lily murmured to herself. “It must be. Unless…James…”


          “Hi.” Ronnie smiled at Rosie, who she only knew from brief exchanges in class. “And, oh, Sirius.” She blushed, suddenly feeling shy and awkward. There was no reason to be, of course, but…


          Sirius was rubbing his temples as if he had a headache.


          “Is something the matter?” she asked him politely.


Sirius’s voice had been speaking urgently in his ear. “Okay, time for Plan B. Show the whole meddling lot of them that you can take care of yourself, and maybe they’ll finally leave you the bloody hell alone! Here’s a girl you like. Work your charm.” Sirius nodded mentally and called upon his often-used Black charm.


          “Ah, Veronica.” He rose out of his seat smoothly, smiling. “Lovely to see you this evening. I’m glad you showed up. This little alcove was becoming cramped and I need to stretch my legs. Could I interest you in a walk?”


          Lily, Remus, and Rosie glanced at each other, confused. “What is he doing?” Rosie whispered.


          “Er, um,” Ronnie stammered. “Why?” As soon as the word left her tongue, she felt like mentally kicking herself.


          Sirius leaned very close to Ronnie and muttered, “Hey, gotta get rid of them somehow.”


          Ronnie blushed.


          “Merlin, it’s working,” Lily breathed.


          As the two wandered down the hallway away from the group, Remus discreetly tore up the parchment that held Lily’s list of future lessons for Sirius. Lily was still frowning. “Is it really that easy?”


          Remus shrugged. “I guess some blokes just have it.”


          Lily shook her head and sighed. It looked like the hopeless case had not needed their help after all.

A/N: Ahhh, yes! Your eyes do not decieve you. 9 mths later, I have FINALLY updated. So please, please, a review? To get me inspired for next chapter? I really hope I haven't lost my touch with this story. Thank you to any readers I might still have left. Are you out there?

Next chapter: The Gryffindor fifths know what they're supposed to do. So why can't they just do it?

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