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“Been thinking,” Sirius said one morning as the two of them strolled down Diagon Alley.

“Dangerous pastime,” James remarked, drawing his gaze from the window of Quality Quidditch Supplies.

“I’m going to buy my own place.”

James froze, “You sure?”

Sirius smiled, “Can’t mooch off your parents for the rest of my life, I’ve got the Galleons and I’m of age now, I think it’s time to spread my wings, so to speak,”

James nodded, “You don’t have to, you know you’re welcome to stay,”

“Yeah, but I really think it’s time you know, I’ve got to grow up sometime,”

James snorted derisively, “Don’t make me laugh…bitterly,”

Sirius rolled his eyes in reply, “So anyway, I’ve been looking for a place, an apartment, and there’s one in Muggle London, near the Leaky Cauldron that I think I’ll get…you should come check it out,”

“You’re serious about this, aren’t you?”

He grinned, “Can’t say I’m not excited about the idea of being totally independent, no curfew, no parents…jealous?”

“Of you? Nah, I think you’ll have a nervous breakdown when you realise you have to actually do everything by yourself, the mould will start taking over and we’ll find you in a month trapped in a corner,”

“Ha ha,” Sirius said drolly, “Come on, come check it out, I’m going to put down the deposit today, you can help me move in,”

“Gee, thanks ever so much,” said James sarcastically, “Alright, let’s see this castle then.”

Three days later Remus, Peter and James were helping Sirius move his stuff in to the old apartment. It had a mild dusty smell and the air was stale, the pipes talked and the floorboards creaked but Sirius insisted it was excellent.

Remus heaved in the last of the crates, using his surprising strength to carefully place it in the corner with the other boxes. The four of them were sweating in the summer heat, Sirius having gone so far as to remove his shirt; he conjured up four glasses of ice-cold water and they sipped at them gratefully.

“Your on your own now Padfoot,” Peter panted.

“I can move everything in about five seconds, just needed help getting all my stuff up without raising suspicions with the muggles. Anyway, what do you think?”

Remus surveyed the room with distaste, “Erm, it’s charming,” he said, trying to keep it sincere.

“I think muggles call them fixer uppers,” Peter added.

“In other words ‘derelict’” James said brightly.

“Shove off, Prongs, it’s brilliant, I don’t need anything fancy, just so long as it’s not Number 12 Grimmauld sodding Place,” he muttered bitterly.

The rest of the afternoon was spent lazily sipping Butterbeer and talking about world Quidditch, Remus had brought along some homework to finish, ignoring Sirius’s demand that schoolwork be expelled from the building.

When at last the time came for the rest of them to go home, Sirius was suddenly struck with a sense of awe, he looked at James and saw the same emotion expressed in his eyes, a sort of observant wonder, a reminiscent daze in which they both realised the importance of this moment, what it signified.

It had all come to this.

Six years of friendship, youthful innocence and digression, bonds cast and shared, the comfortable quirk of immaturity and here we are

Sirius almost felt that he was saying goodbye to an old friend, the knowledge that now he was an adult, independent, no longer the same raven haired child with coltish legs who was always running away from the scene of the crime, giggling wildly, his comrade, brother in tote, kneeling behind some statue to observe their results, laughing with devilish glee as their chosen victim would be met with a nasty surprise, shared whispers and glances as they made their way, tripping on their long robes back to the common room. Even shy, frail Remus had become quietly dignified, looking every bit a young scholar and Peter…well, Peter still looked like a pork dumpling, but he would grow out of that.

Youth had been a shelter, but they were young men now, no longer boys, still childish, but no longer children. James no longer the imp he had been, but a broad shouldered adolescent, strong and capable, magically powerful and Sirius just the same, they had grown together and yet somehow managed to miss the moment when they’d changed.

James clapped a hand on Sirius’s shoulder, smiling, “See you later Mr. Black,”

Sirius grinned, “Bye Mr. Potter.”

“Oi, Prongs! Over here!” Sirius called across the platform, James looked completely paranoid (usually Remus’s forte), as he caught Sirius’s eye and pushed through the crowd to meet him. Sirius smiled playfully, “Where’s your shiny badge, James?”

James scowled at him, his hands fidgeting in his trouser pocket, “Go on, put it on, be proud of who you are, stand up tall and rule with an iron fist,” he said seriously, fighting for control of the laughter building up in his body.

“Shove off,” James growled, but he was now fingering the badge between his long, adroit fingers, eyeing it distastefully.

Sirius would still come over in fits of giggles when trying to think of James as Head Boy, just as he had the first night when it had taken him a full hour to recover from James’s shocked revelation. “Hang on, I’ve got an idea, can I borrow that?” he asked indicating the badge.

James handed it over to him without hesitation, glad to be free of the weight it implied. Sirius deftly pinned to his chest and paraded it proudly, strutting pompously, “Oh yeah, I could really get the hang of this!” he crowed, “I can feel the power! The authority! Oh yeah Prongs, a guy could get used to this!”

James watched as Sirius walked through the crowd, drawing the fearful, horrified stares from parents and students alike.

“I think he might cause a couple of nervous breakdowns before we get to school,” someone murmured bemusedly in his ear.

“I reckon you might be right,” James whispered back. James and Remus started towards the train, watching Sirius enjoy the attention that he was getting and the trail of frantic whispers that followed in his wake.

James and Remus shook their heads and they boarded the train, Sirius, who had now found Peter, bounding behind them.

Remus cocked an eyebrow as James shoved his luggage, “Don’t you have to be up in the Heads’ Compartment?”

James blushed, “Yeah, but I thought I’d just go up and get the orders or whatever and then come back with you guys.”

“I wonder who got Head Girl?” Peter wondered.

“I reckon its Evans,” said Sirius.

“I’ll find out in a few minutes anyway,” said James grimly.

“Ah, cheer up Prongs!” Sirius said, throwing his arm around his shoulder, his face split into a wide grin, “Hang on, let me walk in wearing the badge…I want to see her face.”

“She’s not stupid Padfoot, she’ll know it’s not you,” Remus argued.

“You think she’s going to believe James got it?” Sirius reminded him and Remus fell silent.

James sighed and made to exit, but Sirius bounded in front of him and ran towards the Head’s carriage, knowing the kind of havoc he could induce, James, Remus and Peter ran after him.

Sirius came to an abrupt stop in front of the door to the Head’s compartment, skidding to a halt with a Bang against the door. Lily looked up with a startled expression; she caught a glimpse of Sirius before James tackled him to the ground. Remus and Peter followed up, Remus raised a hand to his forehead, shaking it despairingly, and Peter merely looked amused. James and Sirius struggled to their feet, with Sirius forcing himself into the carriage, throwing out his chest so that the Head Boy badge was highly visible.

Lily looked at them with a bored expression, “Give Remus back his badge, Sirius,” she sighed.

“Can’t,” he replied, positively bubbling with the urge to laugh.

She cocked an eyebrow, “Why’s that?”

“Not my badge,” Remus replied, he was smiling broadly. Lily narrowed her eyes and looked at him in askance, the question forming on her lips.

“Who…” she started as her eyes fell onto James, he was blushing profusely and staring at the floor, “Oh.”

Sirius let out a torrent of laughter and Remus and Peter snickered quietly but James looked thoroughly embarrassed. Sirius handed him back his badge and he took it, shoving it into his pocket hastily.

“Erm…congratulations,” Lily said after a few moments of awkward silence.

James stood up a little straighter and ruffled his hair, “Thanks…you too, er, you deserved it though,”

She didn’t reply to his nervous compliment, finding herself a little lost for words. For a moment everything was quiet, save for Sirius’s amused chuckles. Remus picked up on the atmosphere, smiling slightly, “Come on, Padfoot, Wormtail, we’d better head back,”

Sirius didn’t object as he left, he just threw a suggestive look at James who ignored him. The silence didn’t evaporate with their departure, instead it became more palpable. Lily stared at him and he looked out the window, at the floor, examined his nails, anywhere but at her.

“So is this going to be like a good cop, bad cop thing?” Lily said finally.

“What?” he spluttered surprised and confused.

“Muggle expression,” she said dismissively, “What I mean is I need to know how this is going to work, being Head Boy is a very responsible position and I need to…”

“Know if I’m going to be handing out detentions to the kids while secretly instructing them exactly how to get into the Slytherin common room?”

“For example.”

He smiled clandestinely, “Can’t make any promises…don’t actually know why Dumbledore gave me the badge, really…seems a bit odd making the current title holder for most detentions scored into Head Boy,” he sat down opposite, slumping in his seat, his long legs uncomfortably cramped as he tried to look civil.

“Well, he’s a bit mad isn’t he?”

James looked up at her, allowing a curious smile to ghost upon his lips, matching her own kind, comforting one.

“Erm, have we got letters or something…instructions?” he stammered.

Lily pointed at the little box near the door, “In there.”

He reached a long arm over and collected the letter from inside of it, tearing it haphazardly and reading it lazily. Lily noticed how tense he seemed: the normally calm, collected James Potter was fidgeting, his eyes downcast and she could shave sworn that he was almost sweating.

“Sorry,” he mumbled under his breath.

“What for?”

“Getting it…I don’t think I deserve it and you…well, you actually do and I’m just…sorry.”

”I can’t say that I’m not, well, surprised and a little mystified by Dumbledore’s choice, but he’ll have his reasons, and I don’t think you’re exactly the worst choice…people seem to follow your orders, you do have some redeeming qualities, after all” she joked lightly and he seemed to brighten up a bit.

“Remus reckons it’s because ‘m the only one who can keep Sirius in check…and also, what better way to reign a troublemaker than to give him a position of authority, a sort of ‘see how he likes it’ kind of thing…do you know what I did to the Head Boy in my Third year?”

Lily smiled tightly, she did know that James and Sirius had done to Lachlan Fiddle, she could remember that ‘great prank’ all too well, it seemed to have been Sirius’s and James personal mission to give the poor guy a mental breakdown by the end of term…and they had damn well near succeeded, but, she decided this was not the time to bring up past grievances, instead she focused on another part of his conversation. “How did Remus take it?”

James scowled, “He should have got it, he should have, I know someone from the Ministry stepped in…” he trailed off, leaving Lily slightly puzzled as he picked up and continued, “But he’s fine, taking it in true Remus Lupin style, which is to be supportive and good and kind and completely brilliant about it.”

She nodded, that did indeed sound like Remus Lupin. The two of them sunk back into awkward silence again, James shifted uncomfortably in his seat, Lily had been expecting him to come out with a string of proposals and suave suggestions, but he said nothing, he couldn’t even look her in the eye and this subdued James Potter made her more nervous than anything…not that she could figure out why.

“So, er, how was your holiday?” She asked, hoping to break the uneasy silence, which left way too much time for speculation.

James looked up at her, clearly surprised by her question, “Good… passed my Apparition test, turned seventeen… but I mostly spent it at Sirius’s new place, what about yours?”

“Ah, also good,” she answered quickly, “ Happy birthday and Sirius has a new place?”

James smiled wryly, “Yeah, he inherited quite a bit of gold from one of his uncles…one of the sane ones, and he brought a place with it…not a bad place, in a bit of a questionable neighbourhood, but I don’t think that bothers him much.”

James felt both relaxed and exhilarated at the same time, talking with Lily…without the usual preamble involving a fight (which he may or may not have been the cause of) or a prank (which he was almost always the cause of) or his random greetings, nervously delivered and always rebounded with a disapproving glare. No, this time she was talking with him and feeling a sudden surge of confidence he, of course, screwed it up.

“You still going out with Thurston Padget?”

Her lips creased to a thin line and he knew he’d said the exact wrong thing, “If it was your business, Potter, I’d tell you.”

Inwardly cursing himself he struggled to apologise, “I’m sorry, I didn’t…it was just a question!” he exclaimed in a panicked tone.

“Perhaps you should get back to your friends Potter,” she said, her voice biting with cold. He would have argued but seeing the look on her face, decided it was not in his best interests.

“I’ll see you around then,” he muttered as he exited the carriage.

Lily stewed indignantly for a few minutes, cursing James Potter’s name, existence, acquaintances, Quidditch position and marks, before realizing that she was now alone: His fault also. Sighing heavily she pulled herself out of the compartment, back to the distraction of her friends.

“So, who got Head Boy?” Vi asked, almost as soon as Lily’s head was in the door.

“James Potter,” she sighed.

There was silence as that particular information sunk in. “You’re joking,” Marjorie exclaimed vehemently.

“Nope,” Lily smiled at the shocked expressions on everyone one of their faces.

“That’s really…” Vi started.

“Unexpected?” Lily interjected.

“I think it’s great,” Martina said stiffly and Lily rolled her eyes.

“It’s going to be an interesting year at any rate,” Vi commented drolly.

Lily groaned, plonking herself down next to Marjorie.

“Are you sure it wasn’t just another one of his pranks?”

She shook her head, “Sure. Remus confirmed it, plus Potter looked pretty worked up over it…I mean getting Head Boy doesn’t exactly count as prestigious for a guy who prides himself on making trouble.”

Martina got that simpering expression she always got whenever she heard about Potter’s personal pain, Lily tried not to look too contemptuous.

“Don’t you have to go give a talk to the Prefects or something?”

She cursed, “I forgot.”

“Good way to start the year, huh?” Marjorie drawled.

Lily rolled her eyes and stood up, “I’ll be back in a few, just…if you hear a strangled scream, it’s just me throttling Potter.”

She arrived at the Prefect’s carriage, sighing indignantly when she saw that James wasn’t there. The expectant faces of the Prefects looked up at her, she noted that the Slytherin ones were scowling.

“Erm, hi,” she said meekly.

“We knew it would be you, Lily,” a Sixthyear Hufflepuff by the name of Jemima Dorkins said happily.

“Congratulations,” was the general response, and she sat down, feeling a little more confident.

“So who’s Head Boy?” the Fifth Year Gryffindor prefect Michael Daltrey asked, craning his head to see if he was coming.

But she didn’t have to answer because at the moment James poked his messy head in through the door.

“No way,” Michael exclaimed in a hushed tone.

James smiled broadly, pushing his glasses up on to his nose, “Sorry I’m late…we, er, had a bit of a problem…incidentally, don’t use the bathroom near the end of the train.”

He didn’t look at Lily, but if he had he would have seen her eyes glaze over coldly, a stiff, controlled expression on her face.

“So anyway, we don’t know what we’re doing here…well, I don’t, never been within twenty feet of the Prefect’s compartment actually…”

Lily sighed, “Basically we’re just here to tell you that if you have any problems with students or whatever to come to one of us and we’ll handle it. Both of us are in Gryffindor, as you know, but I can be found in the library usually and…”

“I can be found on the Quidditch pitch,” James interjected merrily, “Which reminds me, we have a position open for a new chaser, tryouts are on Wednesday afternoon.”

Lily pinched her nose between her thumb and forefinger and shook her head dismally. It would be a miracle if she got through this year without attempting to kill him.

Why did she even think he could be civil? He had always been a self important prat and it seemed that nothing had changed. He wasn’t going to take this seriously, it was all just a joke to him.

Her thoughts were interrupted by an explosion of laughter it appeared that Potter had said something tremendously funny. He was smiling gently as the rest of the cabin (with the exception of the sullen Slytherins) rolled about with laughter, as she looked over at him, eyeing him disdainfully, he caught her eye and immediately stopped smiling, with a final glare she turned and left, leaving him in a considerably poorer spirits than he had been. Just when he thought he'd struck a good note...

A/N: Hey, I have 3 more chapters that I've been scribbling to type up (it's not the end, though)...I can say, with definite promise that the romantic in me has been exercised. I would like to thank my Led Zepplin album for getting me in the mood, also Hendrix, the Who and VAST...I was stuck and there they were.

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