December was fast approaching and with it we were experiencing a severe drop in temperature. The past few weeks had been a steady improvement on the beginning of the year, and I was feeling like myself again. Going to the Shack with the marauders the previous full moon had helped. It had been emotional, but it turns out you don’t really feel much the same way when you’re in animagus form, so it was a lot easier to bear than I expected. I was planning on going with them again next time.
“Morning” I yawned at Lily from my bed.
“Not running today?” she asked me.
“We have quidditch practice tonight and I didn’t want to over-train. It’s going be hard enough as is with the freezing cold”
“Do you think I could come watch your practice?” she asked timidly.
“Are you alright?” I asked her, blinking stupidly in her direction.
“Yeah, of course I am”
“In all the years I’ve known you, you have never ever willingly spent any more time outdoors between November and April than absolutely necessary. Yet, today you are volunteering to come watch quidditch practice which goes on for at least two hours” I got up and sat on her bed instead.
“Well… I thought you love it so much, and are obviously very good at it. And James and Sirius, who let’s face it, have become my closest friends with Remus and Pete, are on the team. Remus and Peter go watch every now and then” she shrugged.
“You aren’t fooling me, Lily Evans! You want to go watch because you luuuurve James” I said in a sing-song voice. She blushed furiously.
“I just want to watch how you guys train!”
“You want to watch James fly because he is awesome at it and it is sexy, and he looks ridiculously good doing it” I beamed at her. “And I support this one hundred percent”
“Why are you making me feel awkward about it then?”
“Because it’s hilarious” I smirked. She chuckled.
“You are evil”
She did come watch practice that evening, which resulted in James trying to show off and working us extra hard.
“You need to chill mate” Sirius shouted at him as he flew near our training area. “We’re a bit tired over here”
“Sorry, I’m a bit nervous” he said, smiling goofily at us.
“Yeah, we’ve noticed” I rolled my eyes at him and hit the bludger coming our way.
“Alright, let’s end practice. We’ve been at it for two and half hours” James conceded.
“Thank you!” Sirius and I shouted at the same time. He smiled at me.
We landed and Lily walked over to where I was putting the stuff away with Sirius. We chatted for a bit, then James joined.
“That was actually quite interesting to watch” she told him. He beamed.
“James a great captain” Sirius chimed in. I rolled my eyes and hooked my arm through Sirius’
“We need to put the bludgers’ box back inside” I said. He was about to protest but I gave him a look and he understood.
“We’ll see you guys back in the common room” James waved at us as we carried the equipment back. “Lily, walk with me?”
“Sure” she smiled at him and they left together.
“They look good together” Sirius said.
“They do” I smiled.
“It’s not weird for you, is it?”
“You know it’s not. I don’t think of James in that way anymore. Plus, I’m kind of with Hardin now” I replied. Sirius dropped his bat and we stopped so he could pick it up again.
“Explain that, how are you ‘kind of’ with someone?”
“Well, he isn’t my boyfriend but as you may have noticed, we are seeing each other” I joked. Sirius didn’t find it funny in the slightest.
“Do you like him?”
“Yeah, I wouldn’t be with him if I didn’t”
“Why are you not official then? Does he not want to be?”
“Why are you so invested?”
“I am not. You’re my friend, I care about you. Just want to make sure he treats you right” he said. I could tell there was more to the story than he was letting on, but I didn’t feel very comfortable discussing Hardin with Sirius.
“Well, I am not sure I want to commit to him. That’s why we’re not official”
“You have doubts about Hardin?”
“And why do you think that is?” we dropped the box on the floor and pushed it inside the locker.
“Well if I knew it wouldn’t be ‘doubts’ would it?” I replied. He chuckled. We started walking back to the Gryffindor Tower.
“What about you and that new Ravenclaw girl?” I asked him. He looked away.
“What about her?”
“Well, you were quite cozy during the Halloween party. And Peter’s told me you’ve been sneaking out quite a bit recently”
“He is a traitor!” he said indignant. I laughed. “Seriously, I’m going to gut him!”
“It’s not that big of a deal, Sirius. Everyone knows you get around. It’s fine”
“I do not!”
“You so do. What was it Carrow said last year? You’re a man-whore” I joked.
“Jocelyn do not call me that” I stopped dead in my tracks. I didn’t mean to offend him. The boys always made fun of him for this and it had never bothered him the slightest bit.
“I am sorry, I didn’t realize it was a touchy subject. For all it’s worth, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it” I gave him a small smile.
“Forget about it” he said smiling back. It didn’t reach his eyes. I went to bed that night still unsettled and confused about my conversation with Sirius.
The first Saturday of December found us wrapped in coats and scarves, making our way to Hogsmeade. About halfway there, it started snowing for the first time this year.
“Shouldn’t you be thrilled with this weather?” Remus said looking in my general direction when I let out a loud groan.
“Your spirit animal is a Siberian Husky. Siberian. Surely you love to frolic in the frozen tundra” he joked. I rolled my eyes at him.
“I can’t believe you’ve never showed me” Lily protested. “You’ve told me all about it yet I’ve never actually seen you”
“Remind me when we’re in our room tonight” I said. The boys made strange noises that indicated to me they were thinking sexual thoughts. I rolled my eyes again.
“You roll your eyes so much I worry one day they’ll actually stay backwards” Sirius told me. I couldn’t exactly roll my eyes at that, so I stuck out my tongue instead.
“You’re so mature” he said, chuckling. I smiled at him.
We made our way to the Three Broomsticks and were enjoying a very pleasant afternoon with our butter beers (them) and firewhisky (Padfoot and I) when a couple of Ravenclaw girls walked in making a lot of noise. They were giggling and whispering too much. It was annoying. To my horror, they approached our table.
“Hi Sirius” one I didn’t recognize said. I stared at him. Did he know this girl?
“Hi Fiore, what’s up?” yes, he did. ‘How?’ And then almost immediately, ‘I don’t want to know’.
“Can I steal you for a bit?” she batted her eyelashes at him and for reasons unbeknown to me, it irritated the fuck out of me. I almost bit my tongue off in an effort to stay quiet.
“Maybe later? I’m with the boys” he gestured around him.
“And Lily” she pointed out, smiling at her. Oh no. She didn’t.
“And Jocelyn” Lily quickly added, clearly indignant. My little firecracker always on my side.
“She hardly counts as a girl”
“You really, really, really shouldn’t have said that” none other than Peter replied, looking at her with a terrified expression.
“What are you going to do? Punch me?” she laughed haughtily.
I knew she knew I had been consistently making the top three spots of every ‘hot girls’ list made by Hogwarts boys in the past two years. I also knew she didn’t really think I wasn’t a girly girl (because I really was). But, I also realized her friends must have told her I was skinny and pretty much lacking any curves for way longer than the other girls (probably due to all the sports I played, now that I looked back on it) and that this was a way to play on my insecurities. What I didn’t know was why she felt the need. I didn’t even know her name.
I was about to start panicking I hadn’t come up with anything to say (because I actually did want to punch her and that would have just not gone down well) when James came to my rescue.
“I can assure you that Jocelyn is, indeed, a girl” he said with confidence, and a bit of cheek.
“What? She’s beater in your team, you of all people should know she’s definitely not” the girl insisted.
“Well, seeing as I’ve had some of the best sex of my life with her, I’ll just say you need to take my word for it. Jocelyn is a girl. Scratch that, Jocelyn is a woman” he said. Lily blushed crimson at this. I laughed and was high-fiving James when someone else joined the conversation.
“I second that” I hadn’t been this happy to see Hardin in a long time. He had the gift of good timing. I smiled seductively at him. He bent over and gave me a kiss. It felt slightly territorial which I guess was understandable following James’ outrageous (but hilarious) comment.
“Let’s grab that drink now” Sirius stood up suddenly, knocking over an empty pint of butter beer. It made me extremely angry.
“Hardin, why don’t you join us and sit here for a bit?” I said. Sirius tensed but didn’t turn around. He kept walking towards the bar and the girl, Fiore, followed him without another word to us.
Hardin sat next to me and we talked some more. At one point, Peter went to see his current girl and Lily agreed to accompany James to Zonko’s. Remus didn’t look happy to be stuck with Hardin and I. I couldn’t blame him; I was in a foul mood and every time I heard Fiore’s loud giggles I had to grip the chair I was sat on to stop myself from going over there and throttling her to death.
“I’m off to Honeydunkes. I need some more chocolate, I’m running low” Moony informed us after another awkward ten minutes or so.
“Buy me some, please? I’ll pay you back later” I asked. Maybe some sugar would rid me of this anger.
“Sure” and he left.
“I thought they’d never leave” I turned to look at Hardin, surprised he hadn’t picked up on my mood. I didn’t think I was that good an actress. The way he was looking at me told me that he had, indeed, not noticed. I was about to tell him I wasn’t really in the mood when I saw them – Sirius and Fiore – kissing.
I grabbed Hardin’s face and snogged him like there was no tomorrow.
I was a moron. A complete and utter moron. No wonder Jocelyn had been pissed off at me. I had agreed to go have a drink with a girl who had just insulted her. What the hell was wrong with me? The day had been going so well. We were all hanging out, happy and relaxed. And I had ruined it. I saw out of the corner of my eyes that Peter left, then James and Lily, and then Remus. If Jocelyn was alone with Hardin, it was my fault and my fault only. Now, it was only a matter of time before they started making out and I really, really, really did not want to see that. So, feeling slightly disgusted with myself, I pulled Fiore in for a kiss.
I was over the moon that Lily wanted to come to Zonko’s with me. She had been different lately, and I was loving it. She’d even come to a quidditch practice last week. I didn’t dare ask her out yet, because I knew I probably had one chance and one chance only. If I blew it, that would be it. But, things were going well so I wanted to do it soon. The only thing I had to do was speak to Jocelyn first, just because she was kind of like a marauder and I thought the code applied to her too. In a strange way. I was confusing myself with thoughts of how the code applied to me wanting to date the best friend of another marauder who happened to also be my ex (which was obviously not a situation we’d considered, for what I hope are obvious reasons) when Lily waved a strange object in front of my face.
“Earth to James”
“Sorry, I was distracted”
“What were you thinking about?”
“Jocelyn” I realized the minute I said it that it was the wrong thing to say, especially after the little episode at the Three Broomsticks. “I don’t mean it like that” I quickly added.
“It doesn’t matter…”
“It does. It does matter. I don’t like her that way, she’s my friend” I insisted.
“James, it’s okay, really”
“No, it really is not like that. And, I shouldn’t have said what I said back there, but that girl was bang out of order and I had to shut her up for good”
“I thought that was kind of awesome. Very blunt, but awesome” she smiled blushing a bit. “I like it that you’d stand up for her like that”
“She is one of my closest friends” I shrugged.
“What were you thinking about, then? If you don’t mind me asking” she tried again.
“I was thinking I need to ask Jo if she’s okay with me asking you out” I blurted. “Obviously, that’s now completely irrelevant…”
“I was just a silly…”
“James! Yes” wait. What?
“Yes” she smiled at me and, in that moment, I knew with absolute certainty that I would never love anyone else.
Lily understood that I wanted to speak to Jo about this, but she reassured me that Jo was going to be totally cool with it. Turns out, Lily had already talked to her about it. That made me giddy. Lily liked me enough that she had even spoken to her best friend about potentially dating me to ensure there were no obstacles. We bought a few items from Zonko’s and made our way back to the Three Broomsticks trying hard to pretend like nothing had happened. I was pretty sure I had a spring in my step.
“Oh, shit” she said as soon as we walked through the door. Lily didn’t swear very often, so this got me worried.
“Look” she said, pointing first towards Jo, who was being eaten alive by Hardin, and then at Sirius, who was also being eaten alive by the random Ravenclaw girl who had insulted Jo earlier.
“Well, I’m not that surprised…” she looked at me like I was stupid. I didn’t like that. “I feel like I’m missing something”
“You are. You so are” but no matter how much I begged her all the way back to Hogwarts, she refused to say another word about it.
Prongs must have been feeling either particularly vicious or particularly enthusiastic the following Tuesday as he made us run, crawl, burpee and a million other things in the freezing slush that had been Saturday’s snow. I could hear Jocelyn muttering under her breath the various ways in which she was going to murder him, and I couldn’t help but to agree. By the time practice was done, I was soaked, freezing and wondering if I really did love Prongs that much or I could make it look like an accident (joking!).
“I am dead!” Jocelyn proclaimed, throwing herself on the nearest bench as soon as we reached the changing room.
“I’m having a strong flashback” Cal said. Most of the team laughed, the new kid looked confused.
“Laugh all you want. I refuse to move. My body is broken” she said, dramatically.
“You’ll catch pneumonia if you don’t get out of those clothes” Matt added.
“Are you offering to help?” she wiggled her eyebrows at him and, even though I knew she was 100% joking, I felt compelled to interject.
“Let’s not traumatize our fourth year, please”
“Stop being a drama queen, Jo” Prongs chuckled. She pouted.
“Carry me?” I could not believe this girl’s audacity. I could also not believe that James was actually considering it. I hoped this was totally platonic, but it bothered me anyway.
“THE DISRESPECT” I shouted. They looked at me. “I said it last year, and I’ll say it again. You have never done anything like that for me. Where did the ‘bros before hoes’ go? Have you no heart?”
Everyone started laughing hysterically at my joke (it was a good one, he). The most normal of our team members (everyone but Prongs, Jo and I) left the changing room after that. Jo was still refusing to move but her teeth were starting to chatter loudly. I couldn’t help myself.
“Come on, I’ll carry you” I scooped her up, and without looking at James for fear he’d see the truth on my face, walked out of the changing room.
“Thanks” she beamed at me and put her arms around my neck.
The walk to the Gryffindor Tower was both amazing and horrible at the same time. Amazing because I was carrying Jo in my arms and my thoughts were running wild and free imagining all sorts of scenarios where I did this, and she declared her undying love for me. Horrible because her face was way too close to mine and I was pretty sure I was dangerously close to spontaneous combustion.
That led to me remembering the episode on my birthday when, for a glorious second, I thought she’d been actually trying to seduce me for real before I remembered it was my birthday and there probably was a party waiting for me in the common room. Of course, some genius had assigned Jo as my distraction. If I ever found out whose idea that had been, I would kill them. I didn’t want to think of how close I’d been to jumping her bones that time.
“Thanks Padfoot” she whispered. I hadn’t even noticed we’d arrived at our destination. I nodded and put her down.
“I’m going to take these off before Lily has a heart attack, see you later” she bounced up the staircase and I stood there for a second just remembering all the times I’d been close to Jo.
Prongs was already in our room when I walked in. I nodded my head in his general direction by way of greeting and went to the bathroom to change out of our quidditch robes. With the whole Jocelyn scene I had not done it earlier. When I came back out, Prongs was still sat in the exact same spot he had been before. And he was looking straight at me.
“We need to talk” he said. Oh shit.
I spent the three days following the Hogsmeade visit watching Jo closely because a) it was bloody difficult to catch her alone without it looking suspicious to everyone else so I had to be prepared for when the opportunity arose and b) I was determined to find out what it was I was missing (Lily still wouldn’t tell me).
Observing Jo led to two conclusions: first, she had been practicing magic outside of normal schoolwork, and I was very curious as to how and why. Second, I wasn’t the only one watching Jo. Padfoot spent a lot of time following her around with his eyes. This struck me as a little strange. Sure, Jocelyn was a bit prone to accidents but since the Hufflepuff game last year and not counting the Death Eater attack over the summer, she hadn’t actually been in any mortal danger for a long stretch. There was no apparent reason for Padfoot to be observing her so closely, so I grew curious.
The first clue was the look of disgust on Sirius’ face when Hardin sat next to Jocelyn for dinner on Sunday evening. The second clue was how he quickly withdrew his hand and purposely avoided touching her during transfiguration on Monday (they were still paired up for that class). The third clue was that he curled his fists when Matt suggested Jo take her clothes off after practice on Tuesday. When he scooped her up in his arms and marched out of the changing room without looking my way, I knew. I had done the exact same thing last year. It was so fucking obvious I smacked myself in the face. How had I not noticed this before? How long had Lily known? How long had this been going on for?
I sent a quick message to Moony and Wormtail to inform them they must stay away from our room for a while and used a passage to get there before Padfoot.
“We need to talk” I said when he finally emerged from the bathroom. He looked like he was about to be violently sick but tried really hard to hide it.
“Sure, what’s up?”
I wanted him to tell me himself, just because I was slightly hurt he didn’t trust me enough to have come clean to me before, so I tried to give him an opening.
“I asked Lily out. She said yes”
“That’s amazing Prongs! I am so happy for you mate!” he beamed at me, clearly excited for me.
“I need to tell Jocelyn. Make sure she’s okay with it” I said. Maybe he’d get the hint?
“Oh, right. Yes. Do you think she won’t be okay with it?” he asked me.
“I think she will only care about us being happy” how thick is this guy? Is he not getting it?
“That sounds like Jo” he said, smiling at me again.
“So, when’s the big date?”
“We haven’t decided yet. Even though I know she’ll be fine with it, I still want to ask Jo first” seriously, Sirius (he, he-he) what more do you need?
“What’s the marauder code for this situation?” he asked me, looking confused. That distracted me a little.
“Yes, I was thinking that too. We obviously don’t have a rule for when we want to date the best friend of a marauder, albeit an honorary one, who happens to be another marauder’s ex… it’s confusing. I just think I’ll tell her how I feel. The rulebook is outdated anyway”
“Outdated?” FINALLY. He looked at me sideways, pretending he didn’t really care about this comment.
“Well, we wrote in fourth year, didn’t we? When we started actually liking girls and you and Remus snogged the same girl and got into a fight about it” I reminded him.
“Exactly. And we wrote it so it wouldn’t happen again. No girl is worth losing a brother over” he said somberly. I felt like I was making progress so I kept going.
“And no brother would hold it against another if it was the real thing” I said, looking pointedly at him.
I heard Moony’s voice in my head. He believed James wouldn’t mind. And so did Lily. And he was now going to take Lily on a date. Lily, whom I knew was James’ one true love. A small spark of hope grew in my chest. Could I do this? Could I come clean to Prongs? I was terrified.
“And no brother would hold it against another if it was the real thing” he said. The look he gave me told me all I needed to know. He already knew and I was making a fool of myself by denying it.
“I’m sorry” I sighed, dropping my head in my hands. I was so tired of this.
“Why didn’t you tell me when I asked you?” there was no anger in his voice, just plain curiosity.
“I didn’t know” I looked at him, he was nodding.
“When did you realise it?”
“I… the first clue was the Hufflepuff game” I braced myself but Prongs didn’t get angry.
“I thought you’d saved her because you knew I cared. It didn’t occur to me you cared, too” he said, simply.
“That’s because you would never do something that disgusting. You would never want a friend’s girl so it wouldn’t cross your mind that I would, that I did” I was ashamed, but I hoped he knew I hadn’t been able to stop myself.
“You didn’t act on it, that’s what counts” that did make me feel better.
“I haven’t. I swear. Never” he nodded. “She doesn’t even want me, so it doesn’t really matter” I told him.
“Maybe she does? How do you know? You haven’t asked her. I think you’d be surprised”
“She’s with Hardin” the thought of that made me so angry I snapped the pencil I’d been playing with. I had no idea when or how I had picked it up.
“Padfoot. What exactly are we talking about here?”
“What do you mean? Like, if I fancy her? Of course I do. I fancy her” I sent a quick prayer to whomever was listening that he’d buy it.
“Sirius, you are a terrible liar” he said, looking at me with understanding and sympathy. I groaned.
“You know, you’re starting to sound a lot like Red” I said.
“She’s a smart one. Why did you tell her, of all people?”
“I didn’t tell her. She figured it out. She figured it out before I had even come to terms with it. She helped a lot when you and Jo were together”
“That must have sucked” he said.
“Yeah, you have no idea”
“That’s why you freaked out when I told you we broke up”
“And why you hate Hardin so much”
“Hardin is an idiot” I scoffed. James laughed.
“You are so beyond ‘fancying her’” he said giving me a pointed look.
“Fine, fine, I don’t just fancy her” I hoped he’d let me be now. I didn’t want to get all emotional and talk deep feelings.
“I know how you feel. I’ve felt that way about Lily for longer than I can remember, mate”
I guess that was what I needed to hear because, much like I had with Moony, I broke into pieces and had to let it all out.
“How did you deal with it for so long? I don’t think I can, Prongs. I think about her all the time, I look for her, I watch her, I want to be near her but then when I am I… I can’t breathe when I’m around her, Prongs. And I can’t stay away from her either. It’s killing me. It is fucking killing me” he nodded in profound support.
“You need to tell her. Fuck Hardin, you’re Sirius and Jocelyn, that woman trusts you more than anyone in the planet. And, you know, I wouldn’t be that surprised if she felt the same way about you”
“I… I don’t know. We’ve had a couple of moments… but, you know, what if it’s just that she’s attracted to me? It’s not like Jo’s been big on feelings lately” I cringed at the idea of becoming another one of Jo’s playthings.
“There’s only one way to find out”
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