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I was dreaming of the Riviera and liquorice wands when it happened.

Tolerant as I was, I didn’t take kindly to being awoken before the sun was up. The whole thing was quite unnecessary to be honest. We’d all been down in the Common Room just hours before. Why Fred decided we needed to be roused to Celestina Warbeck’s ‘My Wand Will Go On’ was beyond me.

“Mornin’ ladies,” he said chirpily. And loudly. Jillian, who had screamed and fallen out of bed, was letting fly an impressive arsenal of curse words. Quin, who was standing behind Fred, let out a low whistle.

“Now, now. No need for that,” Fred said nervously.

“What do you want?” I asked bluntly.

“It’s James’s birthday,” Quin said.

“Yes. We all wished him at midnight if you recall… four hours ago,” Tracey said, glancing at her clock. Rebecca was sat upright with her eyes closed in the bed next to Tracey. On closer inspection I concluded that she was asleep.

“But see, Quin and I have decided that-“

“Go away,” I cut him off, roughly smashing my head into my pillow and pulling my covers over my head. I heard one of the boys sigh heavily.

“I didn’t want to have to do this,” Fred said. The next thing I knew my covers were being ripped off, and I was being pushed out of bed. I gathered the same was happening to Jillian by her shrill screams from across the room. My protest was a silent one. I just lay on the floor, staring up at Quin and refusing to move.

“Come on,” Quin said in a whiny voice, “We’ve decorated and everything. It took us three hours to get everything together, and we almost woke him like five times.”

“Tough,” I mumbled, trying to slyly crawl back onto bed.

“Nope,” Quin said, reaching out and grabbing me around the waist. Then I was being carelessly flung over his shoulder. I was so tired I just wanted to cry.

“Quin,” I half-heartedly groaned, refusing to let go of my blanket. Quin didn’t seem to care. He simply grabbed Rebecca by the arm and yanked her out of bed, dragging her out of the room as well, with my blanket trailing behind us. I was actually half asleep slung over Quin’s shoulder by the time we reached the Common Room.

Quin set me down and I sort of slowly curled into a ball on the floor, wrapping my blanket around myself. Rebecca simply stood where Quin had left her, eyes still closed. I was fairly sure she hadn’t woken up at all. Fitz was sat cross-legged on the sofa, his curls a mass of black. He didn’t look sleepy at all, and was chomping on liquorice wands a little too happily for four in the morning. Fred came in a moment later with a very pissed off Tracey. Jillian was nowhere in sight. No one said anything about this.

The room was lit by the warm glow of the fire. It was warm and cosy. A huge banner reading ‘Happy Birthday James!’ hung from wall to wall over our heads. It kept flashing different colours. I realised what the agenda was when I saw an assortment of alcohols in various sized bottles gathered in front of the fire.

The odd thing about this whole setup was that Potter himself was asleep with his head on one of the tables by the windows. He was still wearing his uniform. Judging by the almost empty bottle of Firewhisky next to his hand, the boys had started the party early.

“We have classes tomorrow,” Tracey said. She was eyeing the bottles, still looking angry. I didn’t blame her.

“He’ll only ever turn eighteen once,” Fitz said.

“That logic applies to all birthdays,” I said sleepily. I had scooted towards the nearest armchair and was leaning comfily against it.

“You all suck so much,” Quin rolled his eyes.

“Ready?” Fred asked. Only Quin and Fitz nodded. I was starting to get worried about Rebecca, who was still stood in the middle of the room with her eyes closed.

The three boys, armed with the same tape recorder with which they had woken us, crept up to Potter, placed the tape recorder next to his ear, and began blaring a song in what sounded like Mermish.

Potter screamed, Fred yelled “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!”, and Rebecca’s eyes shot open as she toppled over right onto me.

I hate my life.

I groaned from the floor, lost in a tangle of limbs, and pushed her over. The boys and Tracey all staring at us.

“What’s happening?” Potter groaned, rubbing his face.

“It’s your birthday!” Quin said excitedly.

“Yes,” Potter agreed.

“We’re all going to get drunk!” Fred said a little too happily.

“You’re idiots,” Potter sighed.

“I agree. Good night,” Tracey said, moving to storm out.

“Oh no. No way,” Fred said. Awake as can be, he moved to stop Tracey. Potter’s eyes slid from the two of them to me, sat on the floor in a ball. His lips twitched into a smile. I blinked back.

As if on cue, the door to the girls’ dorms burst open and Jillian stood there. I can testify to the fact that she absolutely had not gone to sleep in that tiny black satin romper. Trimmed with lace. Without a bra.

Everyone was staring at her. One glance at Potter told me he’d forgotten all about how sleepy he was. I felt something heavy at the bottom of my stomach and looked away from him.

“Oh, for Merlin’s sake,” I heard Rebecca mutter next to me. I was overwhelmed with sudden gratitude towards her.

“Right,” Tracey said loudly. Either the dim light from the fire was playing tricks on me, or her gaze flickered to me for a moment before she moved towards the bottles of booze. “How’re we going to do this?”

“Oh, this is going to be just great!” Jillian exclaimed, sashaying into the room. As she got closer I realised that she had on a face full of makeup. I wanted to claw her eyes out. I attribute this sudden violent urge to sleep deprivation.

I had no choice after this. As everyone started to gather in a circle around the bottles, being a spoil sport just didn’t seem very appealing to me. On the bright side, at least I wasn’t wearing my Pygmy Puff pyjamas.

By the end of the first drinking game, which Fred called ‘Shots’, and wasn’t really a game at all because everyone was just supposed to do shots, Rebecca was giggly and Quin was trying to chat up Jillian.

I was warm and had shed my blanket, concentrating on talking to Fitz, who had sat himself next to me. It was the best I could do to ignore Jillian’s giggles as she draped herself over Potter (who, having had a head start, was grinning at everything in sight).

“How’s it coming?” I whispered to Fitz.

After the day of the Quidditch match just under a week ago, Fitz had taken it upon himself to devote every last second he had to try to figure out what in the name of Merlin was happening. He had written to the Ministry and acquired the files of the trials from Voldemort’s reign of power in their entirety. He’d spun some very convincing story about needing it for further research stemming from his deep interest in History of Magic, which he wasn’t even taking. He’d also gotten permission to get into the Restricted Section to research the scary kinds of magic to find out what had happened to Charles. If anyone could figure it out, it was Fitz.

I had tried to help of course, but he would hear none of it. Fitz, contrary to my earlier assumption, was fully aware that he was a genius. He was also aware that I was not. And with N.E.W.Ts fast approaching, I suppose he had a point. It had taken every last brain cell I had to stay on top of things recently. Apart from Care of Magical Creatures, I couldn’t exactly slack off and expect to get full marks like Fitz. So I had resigned to checking in with him at least twice a day even though I knew I’d be the first (and only) person to know if he found anything.

“How’s what coming?” Potter said loudly from opposite me. Fred, Quin and Jillian all turned to look at Fitz and me.

“Jenny,” Fitz said without even thinking. “And Meredith. Such a mess.”

The dejected tone of his voice sold it. I had to stop myself from staring at him in wonder. I hadn’t come around to telling Potter any of it. He hadn’t said a word about it either after the day of the match. If at all anything, he had tact. I’ll give him that.

“They’re both hot. I don’t get it, mate,” Fred said, shaking his head.

“You’re right,” Fitz said. I turned to stare at him.

What?” I said incredulously. Fitz looked at me and shrugged.

“But… but, um… you know,” I stuttered. You’re in love with Potter’s cousin, I wanted to yell.

“Yeah, well,” Fitz shrugged. Jillian scoffed.

“Don’t be jealous,” she said nastily.

“Yeah, Ness,” Fitz smirked. “Don’t be jealous.”

“But what am I going to tell our baby?” I asked with wide eyes. Fitz snorted and took a swing of the suspect green thing he was drinking.

Unfortunately for us, Rebecca was a little too drunk, and Quin was too busy ogling Jillian to understand that it was sarcasm. Chaos ensued. Even over the really shit music (probably Fred’s choice), and Rebecca and Quin lecturing Fitz and me about birth control, it was hard to ignore the other three who were having some conversation of their own.

“But of course Daddy would have none of that,” Jillian was telling Potter.

My gaze lingered on him a moment too long, and before I could do anything, he had seen me looking. In the orange glow of the room, Potter’s eyes weren’t as hazel as they usually were. I remembered that night we’d both spent crouched behind the bar, his eyes reflecting the glow from the flashing lights. For the briefest moment, I wondered what he saw when he looked at me then. Was he remembering it too? It was suddenly very important.

As Rebecca giggled next to me again, I pushed myself off the ground. I looked down as the room spun for a moment, with me as its axis. I wanted to shut everything off. I wished I could flip some switch and not hear Jillian giggling at something she had said, not see the way Rebecca and Fred were lost in the secret conversation they were having with their eyes, not feel Potter’s unwavering eyes on me.

They played another round of Shots. I sat on the edge of the sofa, sipping my drink. It felt like I was watching a movie, and Potter- James- kept breaking the fourth wall. It was terrible, invasive even. Because he knew. He knew the heavy feeling at the pit of my stomach. I wished he didn’t, or at least that he would pretend that he didn’t.

‘Single Witches’ came on, and Jillian stopped clawing James’s shoulder to grind with Tracey.

I watched as he got up and swayed a little on his feet. I knew he was the one off balance, but it looked like he was the only stationary thing as the whole room spun. I looked down at my hands as he walked towards me.

He plopped down on the sofa next to me happily.

“Hey, hey Mar,” he said, poking me in the shoulder. “Mar, guess what.”

“You moonlight as an exotic dancer in the summers?”

“Yes. Also, it’s my birthday.”

“Very sharp, Potter. I’m impressed,” I grinned, reaching out and ruffling his hair. He decided that this was an invitation to slouch down and nestle his head into the crook of my neck.

“Hey, Mar?” he said again.

“Yes, Potter?”

“Do you want to go snog on the Astronomy Tower?”

If he wasn’t drunk I would’ve been embarrassed.

“No, Potter. But thanks anyway,” I tried not to laugh. He sat up, suddenly very serious.

“Like, never?” he asked with wide eyes. I surveyed him, wondering if he had had enough to make him forget this in the morning. I wasn’t quite sure, but he didn’t seem to be slowing down at all.

“What would change in the future?” I asked slowly, hoping he was drunk enough to be thrown off. An adorable frown appeared on his face as he thought about it.

“Hey James-y,” Jillian, also very drunk, squished herself between Potter and myself. This resulted in me having a mouthful of her hair. I spat it out and got up. Potter was looking at me, still frowning as Jillian clawed at his chest.

“Hey, Ness! Come play with us!” Fitz called. I gladly joined my friends on the floor.

“Alright; one person asks a question, picks whoever has the best answer, everyone else drinks,” Quin explained. “If you don’t have an answer, you take two shots of-“

He was cut off by Potter squeezing between Rebecca and me. Jillian was still sat on the sofa, looking a bit sour.

“You sure, mate?” Fred asked, still grinning. “You’ve had a head start.”

Potter half-shrugged.

“Okay, I’m starting!” Tracey said excitedly. “Where’s the weirdest place you’ve ever shagged?”

“The Forbidden Forest.”

“Madam Malkin’s.”

“My parent’s bathroom.”

“Chastity is a virtue.”

“Swimming pool.”

They all turned to stare at me. Being the least drunk, I felt my cheeks turn red as I stared at me cup.

“Oh, come on, Marely,” Rebecca said eagerly. I was a little too aware that one, Potter had shagged someone in a swimming pool, and two; he was right there next to me.

“Not answering that,” I mumbled, letting my hair cover my flaming face.

“What was that?” Fred said.

Oh, sod it.

“Shots. I choose the shots,” I said, looking him straight in the eye.

“Come on,” Quin whined.

“No one wins. Everyone drink,” Tracey declared. I smirked at Quin as he downed his drink. I took a sip too, solely because Potter’s eyes were boring holes into the side of my face. If I wasn’t almost drunk, I would’ve found an excuse to leave. Probably one that involved Fitz and rashes.

“Your turn,” Fred said, looking at me.

“Uh… I don’t know. What’s your favourite colour?”

“Seriously?” Rebecca deadpanned.

“Well, excuse moi, but I have no interest in your nasty sex lives.”

“Purple.”

“Silver.”

“Blue.”

“Magenta.”

“Green.”

“Red.”

I looked at Potter, he looked at my hair.

I grinned, he winked.

I was drunkenly flirting with James Potter and the world had not combusted.

I would save asking how for later.

“But seriously,” Potter slurred, raising his cup so his drink sloshed onto the floor. “Astronomy Tower, guys.”

“Oh my god, yes,” Rebecca said, placing her palm on Fred’s head and trying to hoist herself to her feet.

See,” Potter said, looking at me and pointing at Rebecca. “It’s a good idea.”

I scanned as circle as everyone gets up, whooping with delight. I caught Quin’s eye, and by the slightly worried look on his face, I decided that he was the only other relatively sober person in the room.

“This is bad,” I said conversationally. I got up none the less, as Fred gathered all the bottles.

“What’re we going to do?” Quin asked as the others headed towards the portrait hole happily.

“I don’t know. You’re the one who sneaks around the castle all the time.”

“Oh, right. Map.”

Quin walked up to Potter and, without hesitation, reached into his robes. Potter giggled and squirmed as Quin pulled out an old sheet of parchment.

“I solemnly swear that I am up to no good,” he said clearly, placing the tip of his wand on the parchment.

“You don’t need to tell me that,” Tracey snorted. I watched in awe as ink flooded the parchment like water from Quin’s wand. Gaping, I approached him.

Messrs Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs
Purveyors of Aids to Magical Mischief-Makers
are proud to present
THE MARAUDER'S MAP


Who?” I asked, staring at the parchment.

“My grandfather, my godfather, Ted’s dad, and the reason they’re all dead,” Potter said helpfully. I didn’t know what to say to that because I was side tracked by a cluster of dots with our names attached to them.

“It shows people,” I said loudly.

“Here,” Quin said, shoving it at me. “You lead the way, I’ll deal with them.”

And then we were in the corridors. It was scary, mostly because Fred was having a problem keeping his giggling at bay. My eyes were trained on the map, hoping, praying, that it wasn’t faulty. There was no one roaming the corridors at five in the morning, although breakfast would start in two hours. They would all be even more drunk by then. We’d probably have a couple of unconscious bodies on our hands. I could almost taste the weeks of detention.

It was freezing on the Astronomy Tower, and I was regretting not bringing my blanket along. Although I probably shouldn’t complain, because Jillian was positively shivering even though she was fully plastered.

“Potter, give me you sweater,” I said, poking him in the arm. He didn’t question me. He simply shed it before skipping to the edge of the tower and peering down.

“Here,” I said, handing he sweater to Jillian. She didn’t even bother to scowl at me as she pulled it over her head.

“Guys, guys!” Fred said suddenly, raising the bottle in his hand and waving it to get our attention. Everyone turned to him.

“We’ve had a good run, right?” he asked, eyes wide and glassy.

There were various shout from his audience.

“We’ll never be like this, over here, right now, ever again. In light of that, I want to say thank you to all of you. You don’t know how much I love you guys.”

It was impressive that he could even string sentences together after how much he’d had.

“Becks,” he said loudly, turning to Rebecca. “Becky, Rebecca. Charming, wonderful, beautiful, brilliant Rebecca.”

“Oh no,” Rebecca mumbled, trying to hide behind me. “Someone do something.”

“I know why you don’t want to go out with me. I understand. I wouldn’t go out with me either. I’ll stop badgering you, promise. When we graduate and you become a famous reporter, I can tell everyone how I used to love you.”

“Make it stop,” Rebecca hissed at Tracey.

“-but I probably still will love you even then. I don’t think I’ve ever said it,” Fred said, suddenly walking determinedly towards us. Rebecca clutched the back of my shirt as I struggled to move out of Fred’s way. I was too late; he seized me by the shoulders and shoved me to the right. Rebecca squeaked and followed behind me. This didn’t deter Fred.

“Becks,” he said, over my head. I was squirming to get out of Rebecca’s grasp. “I love you. Like… like the trees love the sun, like Muggles love the Underground, like James loves Cockroach Cluster.”

Rebecca, apparently floored by the fact that Fred was comparing his love to the one Potter had for chocolate covered insects, loosened her grip on my shirt. I took the opportunity and bolted right into Fitz.

“Don’t worry Ness,” he said loudly, “I’ll save you!”

Then he grabbed me and hauled me far away from Fred and Rebecca. Fred’s confession was still going strong five minutes later. Thus far, it involved various bad similes, lots of incorrectly recounted events, and a poem about Flobberworms.

“Ness,” Fitz whispered as Fred began talking about Rebecca’s eyes, “Something’s wrong with James.”

Potter was stood on the opposite side of the Tower, cup in hand, looking out at the grounds.

“Should I go check?” I asked uncertainly. I wasn’t confident, seeing as we were both drunk, him more than me. Although it was difficult to admit even in my inebriated state, Potter was usually the more level-headed out of the two of us. I could not count on that now.

“Yes,” Fitz said a little too quickly. I turned my narrowed gaze on him.

“What’re you hiding?” I said, accusingly pointing a finger at him.

“Nothing-“

“Fitz, tell me or-“

“-you don’t believe me-“

“-don’t have time for your bull-“

Just go.”

Then he shoved me.

I had choices. I could just distract Fitz so he forgets about Potter. I could join Quin and Tracey having bets about how long Fred’s speech would last. I couldn’t attempt to talk to a sour looking Jillian. Sighing, I walked towards Potter. I mean, it was his birthday. No one should be sad on their birthday.

“Potter,” I said formally, coming to stand next to him. He looked a little distracted when he turned to me. But then his eyes lit up.

“Hi,” he grinned. Potter had a nice smile, I won’t even deny it. What was the point? Everyone will agree that his dimples are adorable.

“It’s your birthday, Potter. Morose doesn’t suit anyone on their birthday. Not even you,” I teased, leaning on the stone bannister next to him.   

“He’s right,” Potter said, jabbing his thumb in Fred’s direction. “Last year and all.”

For a moment I wondered why that brought on so many emotions for me. I hadn’t been at Hogwarts for six years. I hadn’t even been there six months. As I stood there and surveyed all of them (even Jillian), I realised something; I was happy. Amidst everything that was going on, with the fact of my undecided future looming on the horizon, in that moment I was happy. No, I wasn’t counting on us being friends forever, certainly not after my friends of six years had all ditched me the moment term had started. But I wouldn’t regret any of it because I had changed because of these people. I had become more tolerant, laid back, friendly. Hogwarts was changing me, and I liked it.

“I think we’ll all be fine. Even Fitz,” I grinned. “Especially Fitz.”

“What’re you going to do after we graduate?” Potter asked, turning around and leaning on his elbows.

“If you tell Charles, I’ll deny it,” I said warningly. Potter held his hand to his heart.

“I swear on my broom.”

“I’ve got an apprenticeship,” I said tentatively, realising that I hadn’t told anyone in the world this before.

“For…” Potter said encouragingly.

I looked at him, his eyes wide and so, so hazel. The cold had made his cheeks red, visible under the slight stubble he always seemed to have. I was examining the way his hair moved in the breeze when it happened.

My heart skipped a beat.

In the I-almost-missed-a-step, I’m-about-to-fall, I-narrowly-escaped-injury kind of way.

Staring at the innocent glint his eyes never seemed to have when he was sober, and ignoring the weight of all the possibilities James Potter offered just by standing so dangerously close to me on the Astronomy Tower that night, I took a deep breath.

“What was that?” he asked, leaning down so he could hear me better. Ocean green mixed with sky blue and a dash of gold were what went into making his eyes. His hands abandoned his cup and reached for mine. He entwined the fingers of his left hand with my right and dragged me closer.

“Don’t you trust me, Marely?”

He wasn’t talking about my future anymore.

“I do.”

So sure I wasn’t either.

It was as though the hazes of alcohol that enveloped us both suddenly merged into one, separating us from the other. I could see James clearly in that moment of intoxicated clarity. Under the open sky, between the swirling snow, the smell of the clear air, the raven of his hair, the warmth of his hands became him. We were all we ever could be in that instant; it was beautiful.

“Ja-ames.”

Jillian popped the bubble. I stared at him as he slowly looked over my head at her. There was talk of frost bite. There was a lot of shuffling. There was Fred pleading with Rebecca. And so we were suddenly herding ourselves through the castle as the morning sky brightened through the windows.

He never let go of my hand.




Marauder's Map from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, owned by the brilliant J.K Rowling. Who isn't me.


A/N: Hi!
I'm not sure about this chapter but I love it and I don't know what to do and aaargh JAMES AND MARLEY.  I had just the best time writing this! I haven't written a good drunken scene in a bit and I'm pretty happy with the way things turned out. Jillian is so beyond infuritaing but... confession time. She is just SO fun to write! I don
't get it. But I love her. And I know you guys love to hate her. She should have her own TV show if you ask me.

22/10/15: So turns out this chapter was sitting unvalidated when I thought it was and I just read through all the reviews and I'M SO SORRY. I thought it was up and aarghh. All my apologies. I love all of you so, so much and now I feel like a complete idiot.

Please leave me a review (even though I didn't think to check if this had been updated). They're the best and make me smile like a total loon :)

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