December brought with it a lot of snow and some Christmas cheer. It was a lazy Sunday afternoon when James and Sirius decided to pelt Peter with snowballs. Soon, it turned into a snowball fight when Remus joined them.


A snowball hit an unassuming Marlene on the face causing her to splutter comically. Firing up indignantly at the laughing boys, she grabbed a handful of snow and went to join in. Lily and Mary came up to her aid and the whole thing soon turned into a good spirited game of girls versus boys. Lily was surprisingly quick and almost always found her mark. Marlene’s quidditch training came handy as she deftly dodged Sirius’ snowballs.

“Oye Selwyn!” James called out.


Adhara, who had been standing a little away watching them play wistfully, got a facefull of snow. James raised his hand, aiming at Adhara once again. She was better prepared this time and ducked out of the way. Lily was caught unawares instead, and whipped around, her fistful of snow raised to pelt the offender. But Adhara beat her to it.

“I’ve got this Lily,” she said grinning at the laughing James and catching him square on the face. Lily laughed. Sirius had whipped out his wand and was charming snowballs to chase the girls around. Lily and Adhara looked at each other, grinned in silent agreement and simultaneously whipped out their wands, trying to set the snowballs back on to the boys.

“Truce!” panted Mary, after a good twenty minutes, catching her chest and taking deep breaths. Marlene, who was terrible at charms, had resorted to tackling Sirius to the ground, trying to stuff his self-satisfied face with the snow. Remus and Peter had forgotten they were on the same team and had turned on each other. James was left battling Lily and Adhara, whose combined proficiency in charms was no match for him. They shrieked with laughter as he ducked under the assault of their charmed snowballs. Everybody’s face was red as they sunk to the the ground laughing. As Lily’s eyes caught Adhara’s, something unspoken passed between them and they grinned at each other. Any lingering tension that might have been there between Adhara and the other Gryffindors had suddenly vanished in light of the game. They were all feeling particularly friendly towards each other just then.

“Serves that nutter Dearborn right, sticking up for filthy muggles...”

The air, which had been filled with their squeals for the past half hour, was now silent and the voices of Slytherins who were walking nearby carried over clearly. The Gryffindors all turned to see Avery, Rosier, Snape and Mulciber drawing closer, unaware of their audience.

“...should have taken his mudblood child as well…” Mulciber’s nasty voice was saying.  Lily felt James stiffen next to her. They were almost beside the Gryffindors now.“...should have offed him like that Meadows bastard.”

“Something smells like filth,” snickered Rosier, glancing at the Gryffindors.

“Must be the blood traitors and the mudbloods,” Avery commented. The Slytherins snickered.

Marlene, Remus and James rose up angrily. Lily’s eyes sought Severus. There was something odd about his expression. His eyes were hard when they met hers briefly before looking away.

Mulciber was eyeing the Gryffindors with scorn and contempt. “You got a problem?” he sneered intimidatingly, challenging them to back down.

James took one step forward, raising his chin to meet him square in the eyes. Lily had to admire his nerve, for Mulciber was older, stockier and had a dangerous glint in his eyes.

“Yeah,” James said lightly. He sniffed comically as if smelling for something and said, “That filthy smell you were talking about? Seems concentrated in this area,” he said mildly, gesturing the Slytherins.

“You little-” Mulciber snarled, reaching for his wand. Sirius was quicker than him.


Mulciber’s wand flew out of his fingertips where Lily’s hand reached out automatically to catch it.

“Keep it,” he snarled, his lip curling, “I don’t want a wand that’s been dirtied by a Mudblood.”

Marlene, Remus and Peter gasped. Adhara looked furious. Sirius’ eyebrows went high up on his forehead. Mary frowned. Lily didn’t know what the word meant, but it was clear from his tone and the other’s reactions that it had been an insult. She opened her mouth to retort hotly, but before she could -


James’ fist had come in contact with Mulciber’s nose.

Several things happened at once here. Avery pointed his wand at James. Marlene and Remus raised their wands towards Avery simultaneously. Remus, being quicker, directed a leg-locker curse at Avery, causing him to slip and fall down. Rosier hit Marlene with a spell that made her bleed from the nose. Lily retaliated in a split second by disarming Rosier.

Mulciber had come around, with blood trickling down his throbbing nose and advanced towards James. James raised his wand at Mulciber, but before he could speak, Lily heard Severus’ voice, contrite in anger, utter a curse and saw James being lifted off his feet and land painfully a few paces behind. Snape advanced a few steps towards James, his wand ready to hurl another curse when Lily blocked him.

“Move away,” Snape snarled. Lily was taken aback at the tone. He had never spoken to her like that before. Snape tried to sidestep but she caught hold of his hand roughly.

“I can’t believe you,” she said in a dangerously low voice, her eyes flashing. He snatched his hand away from her, not meeting her eyes. For a second his hand convulsed around his wand, his eyes fixed on James who was scrambling to his feet. “You hit him from behind,” she shouted angrily. “That was DIRTY and COWARDLY!” she yelled.

Everybody had stopped to look at them. Even Mulciber had momentarily forgotten that he had wanted to beat up James Potter. Severus’ face was unreadable, but his beady eyes darkened.

Rosier had regained possession of his wand and came up next to Snape, pointing it at Lily. “If you don’t hex her, I will,” he snarled. Lily pocketed her wand, folded her arms defiantly and raised her eyebrows challengingly at Snape.

“What is going on here?” All heads whipped around.

Professor McGonagall’s face mirrored her incredulous voice as she surveyed the scene in front of her. Avery’s legs were glued together, making him slip on the snow every time he tried to get to his feet. Marlene’s nose was still bleeding profusely, and she was looking quite pale. Mary was bent over Marlene, trying to get her to walk into the castle. Adhara and Remus were standing in front of James, facing Mulciber, wands pointed. James was bleeding from a cut on his forehead, his glasses lopsided and snow stuck to his face and hair. Sirius and Rosier had their wands pointed at each other. Peter was standing a little away from the scene, looking nervous.

All wands lowered under McGonagall’s withering look.

“Duelling in the grounds?” she said disapprovingly. “Detention. All of you,” she said looking at the Gryffindors.

“But Professor, they started it!” Adhara protested angrily.

“And I will finish it,” McGonagall replied swiftly, silencing her with a look.  “Ms. Macdonald and Mr. Lupin, please assist Ms. McKinnon to the Hospital Wing,” she ordered. The three of them left as quickly as possible. She turned to the remaining students.

“How many times have I told you? Use your words, not your wands!” She looked glowering at the Slytherins and said, “I will be having a word with Professor Slughorn regarding your behavior. Go inside and clean up,” she ordered the students, frowning reproachfully. “I can’t believe my house students, behaving like a group of drunk goblins,” she muttered angrily, walking away after one last withering look.

“Sirius?” Sirius turned around to see Regulus approaching him in the corridor anxiously. “Sirius, are you okay?” he asked in a concerned voice.

“Why wouldn’t I be?” Sirius asked, bewildered.

“No, I heard… that you got into a fight with Mulciber and...and one of you was in the Hospital Wing...”

“Oh that. I’m good. McKinnon’s the one in the hospital wing,” he said. Regulus looked relieved. The silence that followed was awkward. It was the first time they were speaking since the sorting.

“Uhh.. I’m glad you’re okay,” Regulus said.

“So…” Sirius started, “how are things with you?”

“Good. I’m good,” he replied nodding vigorously. Sirius found himself at a loss of words. It suddenly struck him how much  he had missed his brother.

“Learnt to fly yet?” Sirius asked. He knew Regulus had been excited about flying ever since they had gone for that Quidditch World Cup when he was seven.

Regulus smiled fully and his small features lit up, “Oh yes. It was amazing! I want to try out for the team next year!”

“Tell you what,” Sirius said, feeling suddenly cheerful, “why don’t we go flying together sometime? James has a broom you can borrow,” he suggested.

Regulus beamed happily, nodding in earnest. Sirius grinned back, satisfied that things were finally getting back to normal with the two of them.

Snape was lying in wait for Lily outside Greenhouse Two. It had been two days since that snowball incident and he hadn’t been able to get her to talk to him alone. He kept going over that day in his mind. He had been alone in the courtyard, reading a library book when Potter and his friends had walked by. Potter had chucked a snowball at him while his idiot friends guffawed. He had wanted to fight them so bad, but knew he was no match for all four of them combined. He remembered gritting his teeth in anger, bowing his head down in humiliation and hating himself for his weaknesses. He remembered being joined by the Slytherins. He remembered being distracted by the sounds of Lily’s laughter that carried down the courtyard. He had looked in that direction, only to see her laughing and playing with them. He remembered feeling angry. He remembered feeling something weird and inexplicable when he saw her laughing with Potter. He remembered hating the mirth on her face, knowing that it was them who caused her to look so.

Snape snapped out of his reverie as the Hufflepuffs and Gryffindors filed out of the Greenhouse. He heard the loud, hearty voices of Potter and Black, and hid well out of sight until they passed by him. He didn’t want to encounter them right now, it was Lily he needed to get to. He saw Lily coming out, talking animatedly with her friends. Snape braced himself and walked up to her.

“Lily?” he addressed her directly. Her friends looked at him warily, but he had eyes only for her.

“What?” she asked coldly.

“Can we talk?” he asked, “alone?” he added pointedly. Lily looked stonily at him and Snape thought she would refuse.

“Okay,” she nodded and indicated her friends to walk on without her. Snape heaved a sigh of relief. “What do you want to talk about?” she demanded.

“That fight. I’m sorry you got detention,” he said.

“Are you?” she asked icily, raising her eyebrows skeptically, “because if I remember right, you were about to hex me.”

What?” Snape yelped in surprise, “Is that what you think?” he demanded. Her hostility seemed to make sense suddenly. Just a misunderstanding, he thought happily.

“You didn’t give me any chance to think otherwise,” she replied acrimoniously.

“I would never have hexed you, Lily,” he said earnestly, “it was Potter I wanted to get to...”

“Yes and you hit him when he wasn’t looking!” she said, raising her voice angrily. Her flaming red hair seemed to match her apopolepsy.  

“So?” Snape asked confused. He had thought this was about her, not Potter.

So?” she let a disbelieving snort, “It’s wrong to attack from behind. Despicable,” she said furiously.

“And what about what Potter and his friends do to me?” Snape demanded indignant, his face turning red.

“I’m not saying that’s fair. But attacking from behind is dishonorable, Sev. I wouldn’t have believed it of you,” she said sternly. She looked furious at him as she said it.

Snape was burning to retort. He didn’t understand how it was different from what they did. However, he knew from past experience that Lily’s temper was not to be tested. He didn’t want to risk losing her. So, he tried to look ashamed and said, “It was just in the spur of the moment. I thought he was going to hex Avery.”

Lily continued to look at him doubtfully.

“It was all happening so fast,” he continued insistently, “I didn’t mean to do that. You know I wouldn’t,” he said, looking beseechingly at her. She sighed, and he knew from her eyes that she had caved.

“Fine, let’s just drop this,” she said, shrugging. Snape visibly relaxed.

“Friends again?” Snape asked hesitantly.

“Always,” she replied firmly, returning his smile.

As they made their way towards the castle together, Lily suddenly remembered something.

“What is it that Mulciber called me, Sev?” she asked.

Her voice had the same child-like curiosity with which she had asked him about Azkaban and Diagon Alley.

“Mudblood,” he muttered reluctantly, looking at the ground. “It means dirty, impure blood. Refers to someone with muggle parentage.”

Impure blood?” she scoffed, “who comes up with this nonsense?” she said rolling her eyes. Snape remained silent. He looked at her sideways and saw the face of someone who didn’t truly understand the things that were second nature to their world, and the innocence tugged at his heart. Her bright hair flew as she walked, caressing her pale, unassuming cheeks, and for that moment Snape wished that the innocence would remain with her forever.

Adhara was returning from a very gruelling Quidditch practice. Off late, the Gryffindors had warmed up to her. She was no longer ‘That Selwyn Girl’. She was still sidelined at times when it came to her classmates, mostly because they had already found their niche in their first year, and Adhara was too proud to push her way in. Since the snowball fight, however, Lily and Mary seemed friendlier. She still got cold vibes from Marlene.

“Good practice Selwyn,” Alice Rivers said, catching up with her.

“Thanks,” Adhara smiled, “Think we’ll cream them?” she asked, referring to the Slytherins.

“They don’t stand a chance this year,” assured Alice. “To be honest, I was a little concerned when Redford selected you over Samuel, but I can see now that he’s made no mistake.”

“I hope I don’t let the team down,” Adhara said, betraying her nervousness.

“You won't!” she reassured, “I’ve got to rush now. Frank is going to be mad if I turn up late for another Prefect meeting. He’s pretty vexed with covering for me,” she grinned sheepishly and hurried along.

Adhara trudged along the empty passage.

“Adhara!” She knew who it was even before she turned around.

“What do you want?” she demanded icily.

Rigel advanced towards her with long strides. “I heard you were on the Gryffindor Quidditch Team,” he said once he was near her.

“Yeah,” she replied, looking at him warily.

His face broke into a wide grin. “That’s amazing!” he said heartily. Adhara looked at him with a mixture of confusion and skepticism. “You know what you have to do, don’t you?” Rigel looked at her with gleaming eyes. There was something savage about the smile on his face. She raised her eyebrows questioningly at him. “I know why you’re doing this,” he claimed knowingly, “You’re finally going to prove where your loyalties lie.”

Rigel looked appreciatively at her. She nodded slightly, without speaking and turned around.

“Hey, Adhara!” he called as she continued to walk away. “You are a true Selwyn. I’m proud of you!”

Adhara didn’t stop or respond to that, but a huge smile drew across her face as she walked on, her head held high.


Marlene was pacing up and down the dorm, agitated. She and Mary were waiting for Lily.

“We need to talk,” Marlene started when Lily entered the room, coming directly to the point. She was never one to beat around the bush.

“Okay?” Lily said, “About what?”

“Snape,” Mary replied.

“Are you two talking again?” Marlene demanded.

“I suppose so,” said Lily slowly, her brow frowned in confusion.

“I don’t think you get how horribly Mulciber insulted you,” Marlene said frowning at Lily, “That word! It’s foul, crass!”

“What does Sev have -”

“You call him your best friend, and we have seen for the past one year how much he means to you,” Mary started placatingly.

Marlene cut in irately, “If you meant as much to him, he would have stuck up for you. He wouldn’t have stood and watched James make the first move.”

“Potter was an idiot to -” Lily started hotly.

“If he hadn’t done it, I would have,” Marlene said fiercely. “Because I’m your friend,” she stressed.

“And, what he did to Potter, hexing him from behind, you yourself said that was underhand,” pointed out Mary, in her composed voice.

“Severus already feels bad. He said it was a mistake,” defended Lily.

“And you believe him?” Mary asked incredulously, “Lily, I saw his face right before he attacked Potter. It was no mistake. He was waiting for his chance-”

“Well, Potter deserves it for the way he treats Severus,” Lily cut in.

Marlene stared at her in disgust. “How could you say that? James stood up for you. He isn’t even your friend. Snape should have been the one to have your back. But he just stood there blinking like a baboon! Yet, here you are defending Snape and telling me that James deserves to be hit from the back?”

Marlene watched Lily’s expression darken at her outburst.

“I didn’t say that Snape was right in doing what he did,” replied Lily, her low angry tone strikingly in contrast to Marlene’s loud outrage.

Marlene snorted. “It sure looked like-” Mary held up a hand to silence Marlene, looking at Lily to continue.

“Snape was wrong. But Potter isn’t a saint either. Snape feels bad for what he did. He told me so himself. That’s more than what you can say for Potter,” she finished indignantly.

“I don’t for a moment believe that Snape thinks what he did was wrong,” Mary spoke up quietly, “But if you want to believe that, there’s nothing we can do about it,” she resigned.

“Let me tell you one thing,” Marlene persisted, not wanting to accept defeat so easily. “Snape is your friend and James is mine. From what happened today, I am convinced that James is one hell of a friend to have. And that’s more than what you can say for Snape,” she finished pointedly.

“You don’t know Sev like I do,” Lily replied quietly.

Marlene saw the defiant expression in Lily’s eyes and the stubborn raise of her chin. She knew they hadn’t gotten through to Lily. Mary might be satisfied with the thought that they had at least tried, but Marlene couldn’t let her friend walk around disillusioned. But she understood that Lily wasn’t going to come around to her way of thinking anytime now. She had to be content like Mary for now.  

“Hey, have you finished the Transfiguration essay?” Peter asked. The three of them were sitting in the common room. Peter had been working on his essay for the past hour. James and Sirius were playing Exploding Snap, only they had invented whole new rules and were using Chocolate Frogs as stakes.

“Nah,” replied Sirius, vigorously tapping the backs of the cards with his wand, trying to finish before James.

“I’ve written three and a quarter feet,” Peter said anxiously, “But the last few inches, I don’t know,” he bit his lip, screwing his face up as he looked at his essay.

“That’s still three and a quarter more than I have,” James said carelessly. He raised his hand in triumph as one of Sirius’ cards exploded, making a big show of adding another Chocolate Frog to his pile.

“But when are you going to write?” he asked, surprised.

“Lighten up Peter!” chuckled Sirius, “Watch me cream James in this round!”

Peter sighed, putting down his parchment and drawing the texbook closer to him. It was times like these he missed Remus. There was a loud bang from near him. Sirius let out a whistle, indicating he had won. He stretched back against the wall.

“We’ve got to get to that essay too you know,” he commented to James, glancing at Peter writing.

“We have to refer textbooks by ourselves,” complained James, “It’s such a bore doing homework without Remus around,” he said, sulking.

“Maybe we don’t have to,” mused Sirius. James sat up.

“I think, I think that Remus is a little too busy being werewolf right now,” pointed out Peter.

“Bravo Peter! Ten points to Gryffindor,” Sirius said sarcastically, rolling his eyes.

Yesterday was full moon,” said James with a grin, “Which means, right now he’s in the hospital wing.”

“And if he won’t come to the homework, let’s take the homework to him!” Sirius grinned.

“You do know we have a curfew right?” Peter said frowning, “I’m sure people are bound to notice three boys marching to the hospital wing at this time of the night.”

James and Sirius looked at each other and chuckled.

“I think it’s time Peter saw your Dad’s gift, James.”

“Does Remus know about this?” Peter asked. James, Sirius and Peter were crouched under the cloak. It was a bit of a squeeze, compared to the last time James had used it.

“No, he’ll have to see it today,” James replied. They slipped into the hospital wing, trying to make as less noise as possible. Once or twice Sirius had to scold Peter for walking too loudly. James suddenly had an idea. He whispered it quickly to Sirius and Peter. Remus was sleeping when they walked up to him. The moonlight illuminated his pale face, and James saw a deep gash on his forehead and bandages around his left upper arm.  A spot on the bandages seemed to be bloodstained. There were also half-healed wound marks on his calves, which had some foul-smelling green paste applied over it.

“Wake up, Wolfie,” Sirius said, shaking Remus inconsiderately. Remus rubbed his eyes open and sat up.

“What are you all doing here?” he whispered hoarsely.

“Peter here missed copying your homework, so we figured we would drop by and get it,” Sirius said.

“Peter missed copying my homework?” Remus asked, raising his eyebrows skeptically at Sirius.

“Alright, we haven’t done our homework yet,” Sirius admitted lazily, stretching himself. “Figured you wouldn’t have either, what with being too busy howling and slobbering-”

“Git!” Remus grinned, throwing a pillow at Sirius. His eyes widened in surprise as the pillow suddenly stopped mid air, seemingly suspended by nothing. It took all of James’ self control to not burst out laughing at Remus’ expression from behind the cloak.

“What the hell?” Remus said, his mouth hanging open. Peter’s face was red from trying not to laugh. Sirius seemed to be playing his part quite well.

“What are you talking about?” he asked mildly.

“Don’t you see that?” Remus said pointing to the pillow.

“Oh, that’s just me, I’ve learnt wandless non-verbal magic,” he proclaimed lightly, “I’ll send it back to you, watch!” He then made a show of screwing his eyes in concentration and wiggling his fingers seriously. James moved the pillow slowly towards Remus, jiggling in sync with Sirius’ hand movements. Remus backed up in his bed as the pillow advanced towards him. He made sweeping movements to push the pillow away. Peter was finding it difficult to disguise his snorts, and Sirius was grinning widely now.

“Cut it out,” Remus said, clearly unnerved. James couldn’t hold it any longer and doubled up laughing. At that sound, Sirius and Peter started laughing as well. Remus looked on in astonishment as James pulled off the cloak. Remus’ eyes popped out as James dropped the cloak on his lap with flourish, and explained its acquisition.

“Your dad gave you this?” he asked, shaking his head in disbelief. James grinned and sat on Remus’ bed. Remus moved his leg slightly to give him some space, and James caught sight of the wounds on his calves.

“What happened there?” he asked.

“Oh, that’s just, some scratches,” he said, hastily covering them up with his sheets. Sirius had noticed them too.

“Just scratches on your arm as well?” he asked, raising an eyebrow.

“It’s nothing,” Remus said uncomfortably, “Sometimes when I… you know… well, I tend to scratch myself. It’s fine, Madam Pomfrey has a paste that heals them considerably. I hope to pass the scars off as war wounds to girls someday.” He grinned feebly attempting a joke.

James didn’t think it was remotely funny. He had seen how deep the cuts were. Sirius and Peter were looking at Remus pityingly. “See, this is why I don’t tell you these things,” he said furiously, “I don’t want you feeling sorry for me,” he glared at them.

“Is it painful?” James asked slowly, “Transforming?”

Remus turned to look at James, and in that one moment James saw a flicker of agony cross his eyes. In the two months they had known about Remus, they hadn’t talked about it, except to refer to it as a joke. Remus had told them what generally happened during his disappearances, how and where he transforms. But they hadn’t touched upon the topic of his transformation.

“Frankly, yes,” he said, his face hard and jaw set. “The bones grow. My spine hunches. The tail rips out of my ass,” he smiled feebly, “My face is pulled outward into a snout. My fingers absorb into paws and nails tear through my fingertips. Some of my organs also morph internally. When I was younger, it used to feel like my skin was on fire, being poked and stretched all at the same time,” he said with an air of clinical detachment. “Now, I’m used to it. Biting and scratching myself doesn’t hurt in my wolfish form. The real pain is when I’m human again, and I have to face my injuries.”

James sensed a bitter undertone to his light voice. Silence followed this explanation. The air was uncomfortably gloomy.

“Don’t look like that, you lot!” Remus chided them lightly, “Peter, hand me that parchment. And bring your wands over so I could get some more light, this is really bad for my eyesight. I don’t want to end up like four-eyes over there,” he gestured to James while Sirius chuckled. “Sirius, get over here. Do you want to land in detention for not finishing your work?”

Sirius replied with a sarcastic comment and Peter scurried over to Remus’ side. James was silent, lost in his thoughts. In all his pampered and spoilt life, he had known no pain, no suffering, no sadness. He had hardly been able to understand when others reflected these emotions. But in that moment, looking at Remus joking with Sirius and Peter, he felt something other than pity. Admiration. Remus had seen more pain in his 12 short years that people didn’t experience even in a lifetime. And yet he was in front of them, doing his best not to let on. Never compromising on his work or his friends. In that moment James knew that Remus was more than twice the boy he ever could hope to be.

The anticipation and hype surrounding a Gryffindor versus Slytherin quidditch match had always been high at Hogwarts. The other houses also started weighing in with their support preferences, calculating the wins and losses which would advantage their house for the cup. In the week leading to the match, every corner of Hogwarts was filled with students discussing strategies, recalling older games and predicting outcomes. Even those who didn’t know anything about Quidditch were seen spouting statistics they had just picked up from Quidditch Illustrated or Quidditch Through the Ages.

Tensions were running high. Players were being accosted before and after every practise sessions by housemates who thought the team couldn’t win without their valuable input. Nelson Redford was reduced to scheduling practices at early hours in the mornings before everybody woke up. Gideon Prewett and Owen Weasley took it in their stride. Alice Rivers, who was battling with the combined pressure of OWLs year and quidditch, often retreated into the library when she was not practising. However, the most affected by this pressure were the new players who were facing this kind of attention for the first time. Violetta Jenkins had a nervous breakdown after a gruelling practise session, in which the Slytherin onlookers were hexing mudballs to fly out at them. Gideon Prewett had to take her to Madam Pomfrey who gave her a Calming Draught.

James was also nervous, a feeling that he had never experienced in his life before. He didn't  succumb to it like Violetta on the field but instead threw all his energy into playing the fool. Charms classes saw an increase in explosions centered around the Gryffindor boys. Professor Binns was reduced to setting James and Sirius lines for charming chalk pieces to fly through his head while he taught. Professor McGonagall called James aside after a particularly disastrous Transfiguration class that had to be ended ten minutes early thanks to a fire. Sirius, Remus and Peter assured him vehemently that it was detention and snickered as he went sulkily. Ten minutes later, James emerged from the classroom, looking a little grim and clutching a box of sugar quills in his hand, much to the others’ astonishment.

"Only you can set a porcupine on fire and get away with being presented with Sugar Quills," joked Remus, shaking his head incredulously.

Adhara had a different way of dealing with her nerves that was less entertaining than James. She stopped talking to anyone and snapped at everyone who came in her way. One evening she and Marlene were seen having a shouting match in the common room over occupying the seat next to the fireplace. Mary and Dorcas had to come and separate them. As Mary led Adhara away she bumped into Sirius.

"Whops! Sorry! Wouldn’t want to provoke the Dragon Lady," he smirked.

"This isn’t the time Sirius," she said furiously.

“Slow down! You’re breathing fire,” he chuckled,  “I should tell Remus he was spot on with the nickname!"

Adhara glared at him.

"Sugar Quill?" he offered, handing one out to her. She looked for a moment as if she would very dearly like to stick it up his nose. Then, suddenly, her shoulders slumped and her face looked stricken. She picked it up and nibbled at it.

"I don't know why I'm the only one who is so tense," she said in a pained voice.

"You should see James," Sirius commented.

"Potter is so unperturbed! He is the life of the team! There's no way he is nervous!"

"James would rather set fire to his own ass than admit it. Joking around is just his way of dealing with it. Like yours is biting everyone’s heads off," he commented, chewing his sugar quill loudly.

"When did you get so intuitive?" she asked, looking at him suspiciously.

"Oh, I don’t know anything,” he shrugged lightly, “Remus over there pointed this out to Mary a few minutes back. I'm just carrying the message."

"Git," she said laughing along with him.

"So..." he started slowly, "Rigel's going to be playing for Slytherin right?"

"I thought we weren't going to talk about that stuff," she said raising her eyebrows.

"You're right, never mind!" he shrugged, stuffing the end of his sugar quill into his mouth and strolling away. Adhara was taken aback at his abruptness, but turned around and marched up to her dormitories.

The day of the match dawned, quite sunny and not too windy. The air was electric with energy. Gryffindor and Slytherin house were edgy and easily excitable. Colours of red and green spanned the stands, the red outshining the green. The Ravenclaw house seemed to be in a dilemma as a Slytherin victory would put them at an advantage. Half the crowd turned up in green and the other half had abstained from exhibiting their support.

Adhara was rushing to the dressing room with her broom in hand. She was already late and had had to double up because she had left her broom behind.

"Adhara," Rigel walked up to her. He had already changed into his green Slytherin robes. "Just wanted to wish you luck for today!" he said, his lip curling in a grin.

"Thanks, but I think you need it more," she replied, smirking.

"You can drop the act. There's no one here but us," he said.

"I should be going," she replied.

"Go ahead," he said nodding his chin in the direction of the changing room, "I hope you won't let me down," he said, raising his eyebrows at her, a menacing glint in his eyes.

"Have I ever?" she said sarcastically, raising her eyebrows at him.

"You're a true Selwyn," he chuckled, giving her a pat on the shoulder and walking away. Adhara smirked after him as she turned and hastened. Within a couple of steps she found herself face to face with Sirius.

"What are you doing?" he demanded angrily.

"Uhm, going to the game?" she answered with a frown, "and I'm late already, so move," she ordered, trying to step around him. He moved sideways and blocked her again.

"I saw what just happened," he started.

"Congratulations on your perfect eyesight!” she said sarcastically.

"You're going to throw the game, aren’t you?” he glared at her accusingly.

“Move out of my way, Sirius,” she said coldly, raising her chin.

“I thought you joined the team to show Rigel you’re a Gryffindor. I can’t believe this, you two-faced traitor!” he said furiously.

“I don’t expect you to understand. Besides, I thought you didn’t care what I did,” she replied coldly.

“You’re right,” he sneered, “I don’t give a damn.” He walked away without one look at her.

Authors Note:

This is my favorite chapter till date. Although James and Lily don't have a romance component going on, I still loved that he was the one to punch Mulciber. I was going to have Marlene do it initially, or Remus. But James just swooped in and took over as I was typing. It just seemed to fit. Reviews are the best encouragement. Please tell me what you think!

Thank you lovely beta Chiara (Felpata Lupin) and dedicated to NB, HB, 2AB, ARK

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