It was way past sundown when Adhara alighted her broom, a trifle disgruntled despite the contentment that followed flying. It had been a week since the infamous snake incident and James wasn’t out of the Hospital Wing. Without her co-player, Adhara’s game was reduced by at least twenty-five percent.

“We don’t stand a chance at the match, do we?”

Adhara turned to see Sirius strolling up to her, hands in pockets.

“You should have tried out!” she accused, glaring at him. Sirius glanced pointedly behind her where Gideon Prewett was keeping up a tirade of instructions to their reserve Chaser, Kingsley Shacklebolt, a second year bloke.

“No, thank you,” he replied dryly. “Rules are buzzkill. I like flying rogue!”

Adhara rolled her eyes. “Shack’s is good, but nowhere near James. I’m thinking of asking Remus to try out… Marlene is losing her touch.”

A clear, flirty laughter carried over and they spotted Marlene surrounded by three blokes.

“I can see why,” he commented dryly.

They started walking towards the castle. Most of the team had already left. As they crossed the dressing room, Marlene tucked a lock of her long, blonde hair behind her ear with unnecessary flourish, beaming at the boys. Owen Weasley glanced at the scene as he walked past, and something darkened in his expression.

“They going out?” Sirius raised his chin towards Owen Weasley.

“I know as much as you do,” she shrugged. Keeping track of Marlene’s love life was the least of her concerns. Although, speaking of Marlene’s love life, “how is James? Any chance he’ll be cleared in time to play?”

“He’s perfectly fine, but Poppy insists on keeping him under observation. I personally think she just likes looking at him!”

Adhara laughed, wiping the sweat off her forehead. Sirius glanced at her sideways. “You know, Patil told Peter that Aurora Fulton fancies me,” he said casually, tucking his hands into his pockets and launching into his characteristic stroll.

“We all knew that!” she replied dismissively.

“Maybe I’ll ask her out,” he suggested thoughtfully.

“Sirius Black, on a date?” she laughed. Her laughter waned at the look on his face. “Oh, you’re serious?”

He shrugged, raising his chin. “Why not?”

“I’ve known you too long, Black! The idea of you dating seems… weird!”

He turned to her, an odd look in his eyes. “Are you saying I shouldn’t ask Fulton out?”

“Why would I care?” she replied lightly, removing her gloves and wondering if he was hinting at something. But the expression on his face was unreadable. His lips wore the characteristic haughty smirk, and eyebrows raised to supplement it, but his eyes seemed to contradict the rest of his face.

“I didn’t suppose you would!” He shrugged, looking away. “I hear Fulton packs a fine arse under those robes!” He chuckled.

“Sirius!” Adhara exclaimed, throwing him a playful punch, appalled at his candor. He ducked, laughing as he caught her fists, and they tumbled round the bend.

“Uff!”

She had just collided with someone whose voice only sounded all too familiar.

“Lily?” Adhara looked concernedly at the redhead in front of her, holding her hands to her mouth and massaging her chin.

“I’m okay,” her voice muffled. She looked between her and Sirius, and for some reason turned red. “Er - I’m sorry… I didn’t… Er-”

“Your nose matches your hair now,” snorted Sirius.

Lily looked affronted, but her mouth betrayed the traces of a smile. “Very funny, Sirius,” she retorted rolling her eyes, while Sirius continued to look cheeky. “Er - I’ll be off then -” she said, making to move past them.

“Wait, Lily!” Adhara stopped her. “You were going to the common room, yeah?” Lily nodded. “So were we. Come along,”

Lily looked quite uncomfortable, her eyes darting between Adhara and Sirius, almost nervously. She opened her mouth to speak but Sirius cut in -

“You birds go ahead, I’ll be a little while.”

“Don’t call us birds!” Adhara retorted indignantly. Sirius shrugged, grinning insolently and jogged off in the opposite direction before Lily could finish her protests.

“I’m sorry,” began Lily as they started walking. “I didn’t mean to interrupt.”

“Er - What?”

“Uhm… You and Sirius.” Lily looked at her pointedly.

“Yeah?” Adhara dragged the word skeptically. She couldn’t possibly know, could she?

“I saw you both snogging the other night,” admitted Lily apologetically.

Adhara felt her face grow hot as she averted Lily’s eyes. “Oh.”

“Are you both going out?” she blurted out.

“Of course not!” Adhara protested. Lily looked at her sharply.
“I’ll bet you anything Sirius is asking Aurora Fulton out as we speak,” she replied, feeling increasingly self-conscious with each word she uttered. The thought that Lily had known for a while made her feel queasy. She tried to make light of the situation as much as possible.

“Fulton?” Lily’s forehead creased. “I thought he fancied you!”

“Me?” Adhara’s embarrassment gave way to genuine surprise. “We’ve known each other for ages!”

“But snogging is perfectly fine, is it?” Lily’s eyebrows arched judgmentally.

Adhara shook her head, rolling her eyes. “Off you go again! Putting labels on boxes and trying to fit everything into it. It wasn't like that with us. Now he wants to snog Fulton. It’s that simple!”

“I think that’s the definition of twisted,” sighed Lily. “Doesn't it bother you that he fancies Fulton?”

That hadn’t occurred to her. “No… Should it?”

“Well, normally when a girl fancies a boy, and the boy moves on to another girl, the first girl usually feels jealous.”

Was that odd queasy thing she was feeling, jealousy?

“I don’t fancy Sirius,” she shrugged, after a pause.

“But you snogged him!” Lily was staring incredulously at her.
Adhara snorted impatiently. “Do you have to fancy someone to snog them?”

“Er… yeah… Normally...” Lily’s tone began to annoy Adhara.
They turned around the corridor that led to the portrait hole.

“Well, I’m not your kind of normal.”

Lily laughed. “Look around Addie! We’re witches. We live in a castle. With other witches and wizards. None of this is my kind of normal!”

“Then we understand each other,” grinned Adhara, “your little boxes don’t exist!”

“Far from it,” Lily agreed, shaking her head. “Between you and Dorcas, I think I’m going to be chuck my boxes through the Quidditch goalposts!” She raised her hand in mock surrender and they laughed.

As light as Adhara was trying to keep the conversation, her head was buzzing with Lily’s leading responses. She had snogged Sirius because she had liked it, and liked him. He was fine. But did she like him? She certainly thought he looked quite good, and he always smelled nice. Eww.. she was thinking about how Sirius smelled! She couldn’t possibly fancy him. But then again, she hadn’t thought she could snog him either, but then that had happened. A lot. Was Lily right?

“But,” Lily started seriously, cutting into her thoughts as they climbed through the portrait hole (Password: Fiddlewobblesticks), “boxes or not, there has to be a universal moral code to abide by.”

Adhara was greeted by the sight of Marlene chatting up a fifth year. “Tell that to her, Saint Lily,” she replied in a bored voice, glad for a chance to steer Lily away from her and Sirius.
Lily, following her gaze, pursed her lips. Though she had mostly remained silent when Adhara and Dorcas discussed Marlene’s coquetry, Adhara could tell she didn’t approve. But Lily wasn’t usually one for interventions or confrontations, which is she was greatly surprised when Lily marched up to Marlene.

“What are you doing?” she glared, completely disregarding the much bewildered older boy.

Marlene blinked. “Uhh-”

“We need to talk to you upstairs,” her voice was level, but her eyes were quite stern.

Marlene looked quite unnerved. “Oh-kay,” she replied uncertainly.

“Right away,” insisted Lily, raising her eyebrows pointedly
Adhara noticed Owen Weasley’s head snap up from his seat by the fireplace, watching as an utterly bewildered Marlene followed an uncharacteristic Lily up the girls staircase. Curiosity aroused, Adhara hurried after them. As she entered their dorm, Lily’s voice rung out.

“... has to stop Marlene.”

“What are you talking about?” Marlene hadn’t caught on still.

“The way you behave with blokes,” Lily continued. “Don’t you see what people think of you?”

Lily’s tone was a clear indication and Marlene’s forehead cleared in comprehension. A moment of silence followed as Marlene’s face reddened slowly.

“Excuse me?” Her voice was low and hard, quite unlike her usual shrill, chirpy tone. Dorcas glanced questioningly at Adhara, who shook her head as if to say she had no idea where this was going. Mary had stopped folding her cloak halfway, and was watching the two of them intently.

“Well,” Lily said in a voice much softer than before but not a hint less firm, “If you’re not careful, you’re going to end up with a reputation like that Tessa Hornby, or worse, Bertha Jorkins.”

Tessa Hornby? You’re comparing me with that… that… slag?” Marlene struggled to get the words out.

A flicker of something crossed Lily’s face. “No, that’s not what I-” she started appeasing.

“Oh no!” Marlene cut in, her voice rising steadily, “that’s exactly what you meant!” There were red blotches on her face, and her eyes were glistening. Her lower lip trembled as she opened her mouth again. “Saint Lily,” she spat, her lips curling.

Adhara was taken aback at Marlene’s tone. Nobody had ever heard her speak like this.

“What I meant was-” Lily started once again, her face showing clear regret.

“Not this again!” she snarled. “I’ve heard enough from you about everything I do… but this, is a new low.”

“It isn’t what I meant,” Lily insisted.

Bollocks,” swore Marlene, shutting Lily up once again. Adhara exchanged a raised eyebrow with Dorcas, and glanced at Mary. Mary was good at smoothing things over, but she wasn’t showing any signs of getting in the middle of this one.

Lily’s eyes narrowed slightly. “Mar-”

“Bollocks,” repeated Marlene, dragging out each syllable in the same hard voice. “What? Saint Lily, too good to swear, too good to drink, too good to be rude… so good that you can’t be friends with anyone who isn’t your version of perfect.”

“That’s not what I said,” Lily started hotly.

You compared me to Tessa Hornby!” Marlene’s voice was on the edge.

“Marlene,” Lily was almost pleading, “I was just concerned.”

“Oh yeah?” Marlene scoffed. “You know what you are? A big pain! You think you’re such a goody little girl, making friends with everyone, going around and telling people what’s right and wrong…telling them who they can and can’t fancy... you’re not so perfect yourself!”

“This isn’t about me,” Lily gritted through her teeth, crossing her hands across her chest.

“Why not?” Marlene shrieked, waving her hands around. “You walk around as if you’re one of Merlin’s Angels, thinking everything and everyone should fit into your warped vision of the world. You’re bossy, and overbearing, and judgemental, and plain irritating!”

Adhara saw Lily’s face get redder with every word Marlene uttered. There were tears streaming down Marlene’s cheeks as she spoke, but Lily’s eyes remained clear and cold.

“And you know what,” Marlene continued with a tone of finality, “you’re all talk only here. You don’t have half the balls - yes I swore, and I will swear again - you don’t have half of Salazaar’s saggy balls to stand up to your precious Snape!”

“Don’t bring him into this!” Lily’s eyes were narrowed to slits now.

I’m concerned,” mocked Marlene. “You didn’t even have the courage to tell McGonagall that it was Snape who set that snake on James.”

Lily blanched. Dorcas looked for a moment like she was going to interject.

“Why is that Saint Lily?” Marlene ploughed on triumphantly. “If me flirting with a few blokes makes me Tessa Hornby, then you siding with Snape, makes you what? A Death Eater?”

“Marlene…” started Adhara thinking it was high time someone interjected, "that's not fair.”

“Stay out of this!” Adhara stopped short at the vicious snarl.

“How could you!” Lily found her voice, taking a step forward in Marlene’s direction. “I did not side with Sev! You don’t even know the half of it!”

“Yes I do!” Marlene shouted back taking a step towards Lily. Her hair had come completely undone. “Snape almost killed James, and you’re still friends with him! But you suddenly have a problem with the harmless attention I’m getting from boys? Jealous, are we?” she taunted.

“Jealous of what? Being called a slag? Having girls bitch behind my back?” scoffed Lily.

“Having the hottest blokes wanting to talk to me while you’re stuck with that nasty, slimy, snivellus,” shot back Marlene.

“At least I don't have a nervous breakdown every time I think I'm getting a pimple!”

“No. You just think you can tell everyone what to do, and they’ll do it.”

“I just don’t want my best friend being talked about this way!”

Marlene regarded her contemptuously, and replied with cold deliberation. “Let me make this easier for you, Evans. You don’t have to worry that perfect little head of yours about your reputation any more. I quit.”

“Wh...what do you mean?” Lily asked, her voice sounding strangely thick.

“I mean, we are done being friends.”

A bellowing silence followed as Adhara exchanged a glance with Dorcas. Marlene had never looked so serious before, and it was unnerving to see the colour drain from Lily’s face, even under the dim lighting.



The Big Row, as it was now dubbed, had effectively split the Gryffindor third years girls. Only thing was, now nobody knew where they stood. Marlene and Lily had been keeping a distance from each other, pointedly refusing to sit anywhere near each other in class or during meals. Mary, true to her nature, didn’t want to take sides and continued to pretend as if nothing had happened, and was most often the one Marlene chose to sit next to. Dorcas and Adhara had silently agreed with Lily and tried to show her that, only that Lily was making it difficult for them to do so. And finally, the boys, true to their character as teenage boys, remained blissfully oblivious to any change in the dynamics within their house mates.

Dorcas watched in confusion as Lily looked stubbornly ahead, ignoring Dorcas’ attempts to catch her eye or wave her over and went right up to sit beside Alice Longbottom at the breakfast table. It was the third day since the Big Row and Lily was continuing to ignore all of them. Furthermore, the hostility in the dorm room was so high that both Lily and Marlene would only enter or stay if the other was asleep or absent. Dorcas thought she saw a hint of regret in Marlene’s expression at times, but Lily’s face seemed to betray no emotion.

“I get that she’s mad at Marlene, but she doesn’t have to treat us this way,” muttered Adhara, frowning as Lily stuck her nose in the air when she crossed them. “We didn’t do anything.”

“Maybe she thinks we sided with Marlene?” suggested Dorcas, lowering her voice as they walked to class so that Marlene couldn’t hear.

“Based on what?” Adhara sounded enraged. “She was so rude when we tried talking to her. And do you know she only comes to sleep after we have all fallen asleep? And wakes up before everyone else?”

“It’s like she wants to avoid us,” agreed Dorcas.

“That’s not fair! She’s starting to piss me off now.”

Dorcas glanced over at Lily as she and Adhara slid into the seat behind Marlene and Mary. Lily looked perfectly normal as she chatted up with Priya Nair and Aurora Fulton before Professor Bathsheda called order. She could see why Adhara was angry, and frankly so was she. It wasn’t like Lily was moping around in general, it was becoming clear that she wanted to avoid them. At least Marlene tried to pretend as if nothing was wrong and had even tried to get Adhara to talk to her during the practice sessions, but Adhara was still giving her the cold shoulder for snubbing her.

Adhara nudged her by the elbow and slid over a piece of parchment -

Did you finish the Muggle Studies essay on ‘Communication’?

Dorcas picked up her quill to scribble her response. No. And I’m not showing you my essay this time.

For Salazaar’s sake! Don’t be such a goody-goody.

Salazaar’s sake? Addie! You can take the Selwyn out of Slytherin but not the Slytherin out of Selwyn!

Shut up, you idiot. Last time, I promise. I just need to write a couple of inches more.

I know what that means. You have at least a foot left. Why did you have to take Muggle Studies anyway?

It got Rigel and my father mad, didn’t it?

For Salazaar’s sake!


She attempted to draw an image of a skull, but it somehow ended up looking like a very poor representation of an anorexic owl. Adhara took one look at it and ducked her head in silent laughter. That set of Dorcas, and she pressed her palms against her mouth to stifle the giggles that threatened to spill.

Something flew past Dorcas and landed on their table. Adhara picked up the ball of parchment that it was, and looked around quizzically, her face clearing in comprehension as Sirius caught her eye and nodded towards it. Dorcas leaned in as Adhara unfolded it.

You have Quidditch practice tonight?

She looked at him and nodded. He held his wand under the desk surreptitiously so that the tip was peeking out from behind his elbow and the parchment rustled as if a light breeze had passed through it. New words had appeared on it -

Chaser #3: Remus or Shacklebolt?

Adhara shrugged her ignorance on the matter.

“How did he do that?” Dorcas was examining the parchment. That was some seriously impressive Charms work.

“What?” Adhara turned away from Sirius, who was currently engaging himself by levitating the chalk pieces behind Professor Bathsheda and making them dance much to Aurora Fulton’s amusement.

“Sirius… say,” something suddenly struck Dorcas - “if you don’t mind me asking, do you fancy Sirius?”

“What? No! Why does everyone keep asking me that?” she whispered furiously.

“I just got a… feeling,” Dorcas shrugged, “wait - who else asked?”

“The Arctic Princess,” Adhara rolled her eyes in Lily’s direction. Dorcas sniggered. “Besides, I think Sirius fancies Fulton.”

“Hufflepuff Fulton?

Professor Bathsheda glanced pointedly in their direction at that very moment, shutting up both Dorcas and Adhara effectively.
Dorcas poised her quill over the parchment, in an attempt to convince Professor Bathsheda she was quite interested in prefixes of Runes translation. She wasn’t usually like this, but with everything that had happened in the past couple of days, she could really use a break. She considered taking a leaf out of Lupin’s book and going home for a couple of days. If she was being honest with herself, the idea of going home had a larger appeal to her than just respite. Her mind wandered to the pouch in her bag, where she had carefully stored the parchment and the scrap of metal she had retrieved from the Flumes’ residence. The words on the half-burnt parchment made no sense to her without the rest of it, and she wasn’t even sure why she was clinging on to it. The Ministry must have cleared out all the useful information… but something about the piece of metal had been nagging her. Every time she held it in her hand there was something so familiar about it. It was difficult to get a moment of privacy at Hogwarts, maybe going home would give her more time to spend with it.



“... and she just decked him right in the middle of the Quidditch pitch!” laughed Leigha Ollivander.

“Did you really?” Lily addressed Priya Nair, who grinned in affirmation.

Lily decided she liked hanging out with the Ravenclaws. The first day had been decidedly awkward, but Lily had been determined not to let Marlene, or the others, see how much the fight had affected her.

“Say, Lily,” started Leigha as they turned into the lawn. It was a particularly warm afternoon, and Lily had convinced the others to take their assignments outside. “You know Aurora Fulton, don’t you?”

“Sure…”

“I hear she’s going with Black…”

Sirius Black?” piped up Priya Nair, her eyes round.

“Which other Black?” Leigha rolled her eyes. “I mean sure, his kid brother doesn’t look half bad, but he’s a kid, and he doesn’t hold a candle to Sirius Black!”

Lily laughed along as the other two launched into giggles. She couldn’t imagine having such a conversation with her Gryffindor friends. They didn’t really talk about blokes and stuff (except Marlene, and only when it came to scruffy gits like Potter). She had to admit, she found this quite liberating.

“Sirius is easy on the eyes,” Lily agreed as they sunk on to the warm grass beside the lake, enjoying the sudden gust of cool breeze on her face. “But personally I prefer Amos Diggory.”

She grinned reluctantly as Priya Nair giggled once again.
“Diggory, the other Diggory, McLaggen, Summers, Williamson… there’s something about those Hufflepuffs,” Leigha commented thoughtfully, dipping her quill in the ink pot.

“You’re right!” Priya Nair sat up straight, knocking over the parchments on her lap. Lily reached out, grabbing them before the wind could snatch them up. “Gryffindor isn’t far behind either… Redford, Weasley, Prewett…”

“Quidditch players, eh?” teased Lily.

“Priya has a thing for Potter, don’t you Pri?” smirked Leigha.
Priya blushed, shooting a glare in Leigha direction.

“Potter?”

And just like that all the mirth was sucked out of the conversation as her stomach twisted unpleasantly. The mention of James Potter out loud brought back everything Lily had been trying to push to the back of her mind - the attack, Severus, the fight with Marlene… Marlene, who also fancied James Potter… James Potter who couldn’t bother to comb his stupid hair…

“... Lily?”

Lily blinked. “Sorry, what?”

“I asked if Potter is cleared to play the match on Friday.”

“Uh…”

The truth was, she had no idea. With everything going on with her, Quidditch was the last thing on her mind. All she knew was that James had returned to the Common Room a couple of days ago - his friends made sure the everyone knew that by throwing a little party for him, while he was escorted through the portrait hole being hoisted on Sirius’ shoulders. She remembered feeling sick to the stomach at the sight of him, and sneaking out of the portrait hole. Guilt was a horrible, horrible feeling, and she wouldn’t wish it on her worst enemy.

“Not sure,” she mumbled, leaning closer to an open textbook, pretending to be checking something on it.

“You must know,” pressed Leigha. “You share a Common Room.”

“Yes,” Lily looked up, “and you share a Common Room with the entire Ravenclaw Quidditch team,” she raised her eyebrows knowingly.

“Fine, you caught me.” Leigha shrugged unabashedly. “I want Ravenclaw to win, and it would be great if Potter was out of the way.”

“Amar Patil told me that he was seen arguing with Professor McGonagall just before our Transfiguration lesson.”

“Patil? Isn’t he in Hufflepuff?” asked Lily.

“Yes,” nodded Priya, “But I know him from before… My father’s cousin married his mother’s sister-in-law’s niece. Don’t ask,” she shook her head as Leigha tried to do the calculation.

“I heard Patil’s interested in Fulton,” added Leigha.

How she got all this information was beyond Lily. Her friends never seemed to know anything outside of their Common Room.

“Didn’t you say Fulton was with Black?” pointed out Priya.

“Fulton is to Hufflepuff what McKinnon is to Gryffindor,” sang Leigha.

And there it was. Again. She saw Priya shoot a warning look in Leigha’s direction, but really couldn’t care less. Or so she tried to convince herself. Priya hurried to fill the awkward silence by asking a doubt in their essay, which Lily cleared with a smile on her face, but as they went on with the essay Lily found her concentration drifting across the lawn where Dorcas, Adhara, Marlene and Mary were seated in their usual spot under the tree. She caught Adhara’s eye for a moment before looking away. She saw out of the corner of her eye, Adhara leaning in to whisper something to Dorcas and the four of them looking at her. She wasn’t going to let it bother her… despite the pang of longing she felt when she saw them all together while she was all the way over here.

The wind carried over a few leaves that fell on her parchment, obstructing her flow of writing. She dusted them away and poised her quill over the parchment, when again leaves fell on it. The third time that happened, there was no wind, and Lily looking right at her friends (no, ex-friends) wondering if they were playing a trick on her. This seemed exactly the kind of thing Sirius would have put Adhara up to. But they weren’t even looking in her direction now.

When she brought her hand to dust off the leaves yet again, she noticed a small, crumpled piece of parchment hidden among them. Four words written in the handwriting she knew so well -

We need to talk.



A/N:
Hello my lovely readers!! Phew! That was a lot that happened here. Took a big turn, didn't it? But put a group of teenage girls together, and you do get these blow ups once in a while don't you? Well, what do you think of it? Of Lily? Of Marlene?

Also, I've just opened up a tumblr especially for this fic and all headcanons associated with this project. Those of you who want to look me up it is flamingquilltips.tumblr.com

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