“Oi, Peter, you hungry?” Sirius asked as the village of Hogsmeade came into sight. It was the first Hogsmeade weekend since the start of the second term and it was freezing. “Nah, we only had breakfast an hour ago!” he replied giving Sirius an incredulouslook. “Yeah, well, I was, ah ‘otherwise detained’” Sirius explained. “Jane Pertwick or Amelia Duffle?” “A gentleman never kisses and tells,” he said sanctimoniously. Remus made a derisive sound, “Since when have you been a gentleman?” “Always.” Remus made a low, dramatic bow, “Well then, forgive me your lordship.” “You are forgiven,” Sirius offered his hand for kissing and Remus made a noise of disgust. “Eurgh, I don’t know where that’s been.” Sirius’s grin expanded and he opened his mouth to say something. Remus raised his hands in the air defensively and cut him off, “I really just left that one wide open. No, I don’t want to hear your witty comeback, spare us all.” “Yeah Padfoot, spare us all” James said slyly from behind them. “Hey! Prongs! Thought you were helping Evans set an example,” Sirius exclaimed. “Was, but I think she’s got them under control…she’s got the Head Girl Glare of Death down, anyway. So I thought I might slip off and walk with you guys.” “Your sentiment touches me,” James simply rolled his eyes, “Moony, I’ll never understand how you did it, all this behaving is a strenuous business! When Turner and Hobbs set off those dungbombs in the Great Hall, I wanted to award them points, not bloody deduct them.” Remus smiled sympathetically, “I think you’ve got it easier than I had it, first of all: the school’s most notorious trouble maker is out of the running.” “Oi!” Sirius exclaimed, offended. “Well, one of them anyway,” Remus amended, “You had to grow up sometime Prongs,” James gave him a wry smile, “I’m never going to grow up, I’ve got a…what does Evans call it? A ‘Peter Pan Complex’!” Remus, Sirius and Peter rolled their eyes. “How’s it going with Lily anyway?” James blushed momentarily but recovered quickly, “She hasn’t been calling me all of those offensive pet names she used to, so I’ll take that as an improvement.” “You should probably stop calling her Evans,” Peter observed in a rare moment of understanding, “But I still don’t get why you’re still so hung up on her.” “I’m not hung up on her!” James said quickly, “I just…” he swallowed, blushing again. “Oh, here goes ‘101 Reasons Evans is Heaven on Earth’, Brace yourself lads, you’re in for a familiar ride” Sirius teased. Peter laughed, “1. Have you seen her lately?” Sirius added, “2. Because she is, don’t argue with me!” Remus chuckled, “3. She’s so smart and pretty and vivacious and…oh hi Lily.” She cocked an eyebrow bemusedly as James sent his friends repressive stares. “Been teaching him the Death Glare, Evans?” Sirius remarked and James thwacked across the head. “Did you need me for something?” James asked, trying to appear as casual as possible. “Ah, yeah, could you just try to make sure they don’t get out of control? Just keep and eye out, okay?” He opened his mouth to argue that he was perfectly responsible but instead he simply replied: “Sure.” She flashed him a relieved smile and ran to meet Marjorie out the front of the Three Broomsticks. “Whipped,” Sirius teased and James ignored him. “Where to?” Peter asked as they came to a standstill in the middle of the lane. “Don’t know, the only reason I’m here is because I didn’t want to face the mound of homework waiting for me,” Sirius grimaced. “I need some new quills, Scrivenshafts?” Remus suggested. “Yeah.” The four of them set off in the direction of the store but as they drew nearer they could hear raised voices and people cheering. Giving each other significant glances they picked up the pace and moved towards the kerfuffle. There seemed to be a crowd of students surrounding two boys (lucky James was tall and all the students seemed to be below 5th year) who were hurling insults at each other, as well as the odd curse. “What’s going on here?” James demanded loudly, startling a fair few of the younger kids. "Ready to assert some authority Prongs?” Sirius muttered as he and James pushed their way through the swarm. The two boys in the centre had seemingly not heard James, seeing as they were so intent on glaring each other to death, their wands raised. “Is there a problem here?” James asked coolly. Remus had also stepped into the throng of students who were now eagerly watching the new entrants with awe. “What’s going on?” Lily asked Peter, having heard the shouting from down the road. “Don’t know,” Peter replied, “Couple of kids scrapping I guess, Prongs’ll sort them out.” The boy’s line of vision remained unbroken and James repeated himself, recognising the students as 4th Year Gregory Warwick of Slytherin (which he deduced meant trouble) and Sebastian Mallory from Hufflepuff. Mallory’s face was swollen with anger and loathing, “He…he insulted my father!” he managed to get out in huge, heavy gasps. James understood immediately: Martin Mallory had been murdered at the hands of Death Eaters during the holidays. He was about to ask Warwick is this was true when the boy answered without any prompting. “He deserved it! Filthy Mudbloods! Wipe them out!” Mallory yet out a shriek of rage and threw himself at Warwick, intent on breaking every bone in his body. Lily rushed in, wand at the ready but James appeared to have it under control. “Remus!” James said, instructing him to grab Warwick while he and Sirius wrenched a flailing Mallory from the other boy, using every ounce of their combined strengths to hold Mallory in place. Remus meanwhile, had calmly seized the struggling, swearing Warwick and held on to him without much effort at all. People looked a little confused to see the slightly scrawny, often sickly looking Remus Lupin exert such strength. “Calm down Sebastian,” James commanded quietly but forcefully. “He…he said it…he said, he…” Mallory whispered weakly, twisting in James’s grasp. “I know, let Dumbledore deal with him,” James said softly and Mallory finally surrendered, sinking to the ground, pale and shaking. Lily moved to the boy and put a protective arm around him. “The rest of you can clear off!” James ordered, a few people left hesitantly but no one strayed terribly far. James strode forwards to Warwick who was still struggling in Remus’s effortless grasp. “And as for you Warwick: 50 points from Slytherin and I’ll have one of the Prefects escort you back,” he said coldly. Their was a storm of protest from the Slytherin students but James ignored them. “What happened to freedom of speech, Potter? After all, he was only speaking the truth,” a voice said silkily. James gritted his teeth and spun to face Snape, who was standing with Rabastan Lestrange, Evan Rosier, Simon Avery and of course, Regulus, who had become quite the little groupie. “Well, seeing as freedom of speech doesn’t extend to snotrags like yourself and Mr Warwick, I don’t see a problem,” James sneered. “Ah,” Snape said smoothly, “Yes Potter, you’re Head Boy now, tell me, how much did your parents pay to get Dumbledore to look the other way? Or is there some sort of double entendre to the title ‘Head Boy’?” Sirius growled and for a moment James had murder in his eyes. Lily, Remus and Peter waited warily. “Hilarious Snape, the pointed edge of your wit is as sharp as the hook of your nose,” he sighed, he wasn’t going to let Snape get a rise out of him, he had to set an example and cursing him into oblivion (as appealing as it sounded) was not the actions of a Hogwarts Head Boy (well, not in front of all these people anyway). Snape smiled slyly and changed his tactics, “Have you gone soft Black? I would have thought that beating up younger boys would have been right up your alley,” he derided, sweeping his arm out to indicate Regulus, “You seem to get off on it.” James situated a placating hand on Sirius’s shoulder and with a meaningful glance, restrained him. “I think it’s time for you to return to school Snape,” Lily interjected, hoping to head off a possible explosion of tempers, but all it seemed to do was further excite Snape and the Slytherins. “I don’t take orders from Mudbloods,” he said greasily. James’s wand was raised before Lily could even process the insult, “Watch what you say, Snivellus,” he hissed. Lily grabbed his wrist, “Don’t James, he’s just trying to cause trouble,” she sighed. He looked down into her eyes and nodded, “Get lost Snape, before I deduct more points.” The Slytherins sniggered, “I see you have no trouble taking orders from a filthy Mudblood whore, but then again, you seem to make it your business to hang around with the lowest scum there is,” said Snape malevolently, his eyes flickering unmistakably towards Remus. Lily’s hold on James’ wrist tightened, but it wasn’t him she had to worry about, Sirius, who had been standing as a sort of intimidating body guard, laughed scathingly and briefly and swung his fist into Snape’s face. Snape sank to the ground, Sirius towered over him imposingly, glaring down at him with utmost loathing. The crowd seemed to have grown and each person’s eyes were fixed on Sirius, nervously anticipating what he would do next. James and Peter had rushed forward, seizing Sirius together, before he could do anymore harm, but he shrugged them both off and stepped back, hand raised in surrender. “Everyone clear off! This time I mean it!” James shouted and he looked so determined that no one dared defy him; they slunk off, throwing the occasional glance over their shoulders. James looked around him and assessed the situation: Remus was still detaining Warwick, the boy looked at his captor reproachfully, but seeing as Remus could maintain control 0over him with one hand and a bored expression on his face, Warwick decided it might not be in his best interests to put up a fight. Lily was comforting Mallory, who was now sobbing defeatedly in her arms, Marjorie was approaching to help, and Vi and Marty had come out the woodwork too. James sighed audibly as he looked down at Snape sprawled on the ground, clutching his nose and groaning. James offered him a hand to get up but Snape glowered at him and struggled up to his feet himself. “He broke my nose!” Snape accused, pointing at Sirius who growled at him. “It’s a bloody big target!” he snapped. “Sirius!” Lily reprimanded sharply and he fell silent. “Just get out of here Snape, go to the Hospital Wing, but get out of here, James ordered furiously. Snape eyed him testily for a moment, his lip curling, but he seemed to think better of attacking him and turned abruptly and severely, stalking off, Regulus, Rabastan, Avery and Rosier in tow. James heaved a great sign of relief (and repressed anger) before kneeling down down to meet Lily and Marjorie. “Is he all right?” he asked quietly. She nodded, “Just a bit shaken and upset,” she replied with a weary but warm smile, “Marjorie’s going to take him back.” “You’ll be right, kid” said James, clapping him on the shoulder with an assuring smile, Mallory smiled back at him weakly. James offered his hand down to Lily who took it and he pulled her up, she leaned into his ear and whispered “I want to deal with him,” He looked at her with mild surprise. There was no sign of maternal warmth in her features, it had been replaced by a cold fury which matched his own. James and Sirius helped Marjorie and Sebastian up, “Take him to Madam Pomfrey first, otherwise she’ll be out for blood, mine specifically, then get Dumbledore, make sure you tell him everything…er, actually, Remus, Sirius, one of you should go with them.” “I don’t need a guard Potter,” Marjorie snapped. “I know that, but two wands are better than one, right? And well, let’s just say we’ve had a lot of experience explaining things to Dumbledore.” “I’ll go,” Remus volunteered, “No offence Padfoot, but my diplomatic skills are a little more refined.” James nodded, “Okay, erm, we’ll be along in a bit.” Remus released his grip on Warwick, quickly replaced by Sirius, who was by no means gentle. Remus and Marjorie started to move away from them, Sebastian between them, still trembling slightly. Lily and James rounded on Warwick, fully prepared to lay into him, knock some sense into him if possible. The boy looked up at them defiantly. James removed his glasses and cleaned them on his shirt, for some reason this seemed to unnerve Warwick slightly. James opened his mouth to speak, but the words were swallowed by some other distraction, one that brought a smile to Warwick’s lips. CRACK
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