James was right, professor McGonagall did give them especially nasty homework next class, but they all had reached a level where one more complicated homework didn’t even mattered.
Every day Remus thought that someone will lose their mind, because there was so much to do. He was worried about Lily the most because she looked like she could pass out any moment now. She took these exams very seriously, too seriously if someone asked Remus’s thoughts.
Even Sirius who considered school one big entertainment looked worried about N.E.W.T.s. But Alex managed to calm him down, because apparently she didn’t worry about a thing. She was the embodiment of peace in this stressful time.
She helped people who couldn’t manage their homework of just wanted to talk. Remus didn’t knew if he ever had seen more kind-hearted person than Alex. For the last couple of weeks he had seen Alex help not only seventh years but also much younger students if they had some troubles with studying.
Remus had no clue how she found time for that, because she managed to study for herself, to help others and even to find time for Sirius. He didn’t knew where she got so much energy for all of this.
It was already beginning of June, and Remus marched out of the castle and went straight to Alex and Sirius who studied by the lake.
“If I have to explain one more time to James how to correctly brew the draught of the living death, I will hex him with something especially nasty,” Remus fell down beside them and grabbed his hair with his hands.
“Why are you helping him in potions?” Alex asked in surprise. “He got Lily for that, she is the potion prodigy.”
“Lily doesn’t want to be disturbed when she is studying,” Remus said irritated. “And apparently I was the next best thing.” And he sighed so heavily that he felt a sharp pain in his ribs.
“Prongs is not an idiot, but sometimes he doesn’t understand even simplest things,” Remus bickered. “Ah, he tests my patience today, no, I need to calm down,” he ranted. “Do you mind me lying here for a moment? Actually I don’t care, I can’t be around Prongs right now.”
And Remus laid down on the blanket, he put his arms behind his head and closed his eyes. Peace and quiet was all he needed right now just for five minutes.
“Mooney are you alright?” Sirius asked obviously worried about his friend.
“Yes, just let me lie here for ten minutes and I will be fine,” Remus stated without opening his eyes.
After a couple of minutes Remus started to feel how his body calms down, James had really made his blood boil. But it was just because his nervous system was hanging by its last thread. He couldn’t imagine how they will survive the exams without dying.
He opened his eyes and looked at Sirius and Alex. “What are you revising?” he asked to his friends.
“I am reading my magic history notes for the last three hours, but I think that is useless I can’t remember anything,” Sirius was devastated.
“And you Alex?” Remus turned his head towards Alex.
“I am trying out all the spells that we had learnt over the years,” she mumbled without even looking up from her notes.
“Why do you even need to do that?” Remus was surprised. “You know all the spells backwards and without words, why you need to repeat them all?”
“Exactly my thoughts,” Sirius added silently.
“So that I am sure that I know them backwards,” Alex looked at Remus and smiled way too sweetly at him.
Remus didn’t understood Alex, she was such a talented witch, magic was truly in her blood, but still she wanted to be sure that she knows everything perfectly. She never bragged about it, but it was clear as a day at least to them who knew her.
Everybody was worried about N.E.W.T.s but nobody expected for it to come so fast. Time just flew by and all of them realized that they were sitting in DADA exam already.
And how fast exams started they ended and they were free from studying and revising. The last exam had ended and Remus found himself sitting on the blanket by the lake once again with Peter, Lily and Alex, they were waiting for James and Sirius to come back from kitchen where they had gone to steal some food so they could celebrate the end of N.E.W.T.s.
Warm June day was treating them well, sun was shining and light breeze was in the air. Everyone had cozied up on the blankets and talked about rubbish, nobody wanted to talk about serious things. Remus laid on his back and looked at beautiful light blue sky.
He wandered about school ending and the fact that every one of them had their own plans after school, and maybe their friendship wouldn’t be the same after graduating. But maybe… Remus believed that Marauders will stick together if not for forever than for a long time for sure.
“Lily,” Remus heard Alex spoke, “can you please pass me some pumpkin juice?”
“Maybe you want something stronger?” Sirius asked to Alex. Remus turned his head and saw how Sirius took out of his robes flask of firewhiskey.
“Yes, please,” Alex took the flask from Sirius and held it up to air. “To the end of our last year,” she said and sipped. Then she gave it to James who sat next to her.
“To friendship,” he toasted and drank a gulp of firewhiskey. He passed the flask and their little ritual began.
“To amazing seven years,” said Lily.
“To loyalty,” next was Peter.
“To Marauders,” shouted Remus when flask was in his arm, everyone joined in with cheers.
“To love,” said Sirius taking the flask from Remus’s hand.
“Merlin, Alex!” James shrieked. “What the hell have you done to our Padfoot?! He is completely different person than year ago,” James dramatically waved his arms and pretended to be deeply offended. Everybody started to laugh.
But James was right, Sirius had changed. Remus was one hundred percent sure that beginning of the year Sirius didn’t even realized that this end of the term Sirius was even possible.
“Oh, shut up!” Sirius tried to punch James, but he was unsuccessful because James managed to avoid Sirius.
“But of course,” Lily exaggeratedly sadly spoke, “boys will be boys.” And once again everybody laughed.
Couple of days had passed since the last exam, all Marauders sat at the Three Broomsticks and drank some butterbeer. It was their last visit to Hogsmeade as students, and it was just a privilege to seventh years, because tomorrow they are leaving Hogwarts for the last time.
They had spent wonderful day, they visited Honeydukes and Zonko’s Joke Shop, but now they all sat in the pub and just spent some time talking between themselves.
Girls did some last minute shopping, noting that they didn’t need to wait for them. Looked like James and Sirius are relieved about that, they didn’t wanted to participate in this shopping spree.
For a while they talked about their future plans, what each of them will do after school. Remus noticed that Sirius was unusually quiet, it was visible that he tried to look like he was participating in this conversation but actually Sirius’s thoughts were far away.
Remus wanted to say something to Sirius, but then he suddenly stood up.
“I have to do something,” he said, “don’t wait for me. See you in school.” And he left, everybody watched how Sirius left and disappeared in the streets of Hogsmeade.
“What was that?” James asked.
“No clue,” Remus also was stunned.
Sirius returned to school just in time for dinner. Nobody knew where he was all afternoon.
“Hey, where were you?” Alex asked when Sirius sat by the table.
“Forgot that I had to buy some things,” he smiled and answered casually. “Good that I remembered before it was too late.”
Remus knew this Sirius’s tone, that meant just one thing – he actually didn’t wanted to talk about where he were all afternoon. But Remus couldn’t decide if that was a good or a bad thing this time.
After dinner they went to their bedroom. Sirius laid in his bed, put one of his hand behind his head and dreamily looked at ceiling.
“Padfoot, are you alright?” suspiciously James asked to Sirius obviously worried about his friend.
“Just fantastic,” Sirius answered smiling.
“Do you want to enlighten us?” Remus asked.
Sirius just smiled and took out of his pocket little, black leather box.
Sirius exited the Three Broomsticks and walked the streets of Hogsmeade looking for the right shop. He never had a need for jeweler so he didn’t knew where that kind of shop was.
While sitting at the Three Broomsticks and listening to all future plans he had realized that he wanted to spend all of his life with Alex. He had decided that he was going to marry her. This decision for Sirius felt as simple and necessary as breathing. And that’s why now he needed a ring.
After a couple of minutes he found the right place. He went inside without a hesitation and rang the bell by the counter announcing that there was a new customer.
For more than a half hour Sirius looked at all kinds of engagement rings, but something didn’t felt right. It didn’t seemed that engagement ring would suit Alex, that she would even like one.
“I need to think,” he said to the shop owner and went and sat down in one of the chairs which was in the store.
He needed to find perfect ring, he was sure about that. Alex was special, she needed something unique, something that nobody else had.
Sirius started to walk around the shop looking at all the jewelry on the display. And the he saw it – black stone rings. That was what he was looking for.
“What kind of rings are those?” Sirius turned to the shop owner. He came up and looked at what Sirius was pointing.
“They are wedding rings,” he explained. “Made from the black onyx stone.”
“Perfect,” Sirius said, “I’ll take two of them.”
“Pair of them is 250 galleons,” sounded like the owner didn’t believe that Sirius had that kind of money.
“Very well,” Sirius turned and smiled. “And what about the size?”
“They are charmed to fit every finger they are on, they will fit for anyone,” explained owner still suspiciously studying Sirius.
“Like I said,” Sirius spoke, “I’ll take two.”
“Very well sir,” owner said, took the rings out of display and went behind the counter. “Are you going to pay now or shall we take money out of your Gringotts vault?” he asked.
Sirius didn’t liked to spend parents money, but this time he pushed all his morals away, because it was kind of amusing – to pay for wedding rings with parents’ money, because he didn’t actually liked his parents.
“From Gringotts vault,” he answered.
“Please fill this form,” owner handed him parchment which Sirius filled out. It requested his name, vault number and some other information which would prove that he was allowed to make this purchase.
“Mister Black,” shop owner smiled to him taking the form out of his hands and handing him the box with rings in them. “Have a nice day!” he wished.
Sirius thanked and walked out of the store. He knew that owner was so kind at the end just because he was Black. He hated situations like these, but now the fact that he was Black suited for him very well.
Sirius didn’t rushed to school, he slowly walked around Hogsmeade and tried to figure out how he will propose to Alex.
After dinner Sirius entered the bedroom and laid in his bed.
“Padfoot, are you alright?” it was James who asked the question. Apparently Sirius had shocked all his friends so abruptly leaving the pub.
“Just fantastic,” Sirius answered and smiled very dreamy smile.
“Do you want to enlighten us?” it was Remus, he probably worried about Alex, there was no other explanation.
He was touched by their friends’ worries, it meant a lot to him. He smiled and took out of his pocket little, black leather box. He lifted it and twirled it in his fingers.
James whistled, Sirius looked at them and with a full one hundred percent confidence stated, “I love Alex and I can’t imagine my life without her, I will marry her.”
“Damn it, Padfoot, you are completely different person,” James was surprised, he ran his hands through his messy hair.
“Are you sure?” Remus asked with caution.
“Yes,” Sirius confessed. “I don’t want to live without her.”
“Can we see the ring?” Peter asked excitedly. Sirius opened the box and showed them the rings.
“That is not an engagement ring,” Peter stated.
“I know,” Sirius said, “but Alex isn’t ordinary girl, and knowing her she wouldn’t even like an engagement ring, that’s why I bought wedding rings.”
“She will love them,” Remus spoke after a moment of silence. “Black is her favorite color.”
“How ironic,” Sirius laughed. He was amused by the fact that her favorite color was black and that his last name also was Black.
“When are you going to propose?” James asked.
“Tomorrow evening, when we will be in France,” Sirius answered, he had planned everything out.
“That’s great,” Remus smiled, Sirius was relieved that Remus wasn’t objecting.
“It just feels so natural,” Sirius mentioned. “I know that I want to spend rest of my life with her.”
“Congratulation, man,” James cheered.
He still needed to pack, but Sirius just continued to lay on the bed and thought about how wonderful it will be – to marry Alex. He loved her, he loved Alex Watson. Hmm, Alex Black – that sounded amazing.
They all sat in the Hogwarts Express and left Hogwarts for the last time. It was a bittersweet moment, but Lily knew that it was bound to happen.
“Lily, what are you thinking about?” James asked squeezing her hand.
“This is the last time being on this train,” she said with a little sadness in her voice.
“You don’t have to be so melancholic about it,” James comforted her. “Everything will be fine.”
“I know,” she said and lightly kissed James on lips.
“Go and find a free carriage,” Sirius shouted.
“Who would have said that,” Lily snapped back.
For the last months they acted like two lovebirds, they tried not to show their affections publicly but it was so obvious.
“By the way, Alex,” Lily said. “I think that you owe me ten galleons,” and Lily smirked.
“Oh,” Alex said slowly. “Are you sure about that?” she asked pretending that there were possibility that Lily hadn’t won their bet.
“Oh, yes,” Lily laughed. “I am sure.”
“What was the bet about?” Sirius asked interested in this conversation.
“Fine,” Alex said smirking and tried to find her wallet to pay Lily her ten galleons.
“Can someone please explain?” James insisted.
“Hmm,” Alex dragged out handing money to Lily. Lily had suspicion that Alex really didn’t wanted to talk about the bet.
“Maybe some other time,” Lily mentioned trying to help Alex out.
“No, I want to know what this bet was about?” now it was Sirius who insisted.
Lily looked at Alex who was now frowning, she really didn’t wanted to talk about that. Sirius bugged her to make her tell.
“Fine,” she finally said. “I had a bet with Lily that you will not find a girl who will be the reason for you to change until the end of this school year,” she angrily stared at Sirius. “Happy now?!”
Sirius didn’t even looked shocked, he just started to laugh. His body was shaking with laughter. Lily even thought that he could start crying from all this laughter. Only couple of minutes later Sirius’s laugh subsided.
“What else have you betted on?” he asked Alex when he had finally stopped laughing.
“Oh, shut up,” Alex was a little pissed off. She looked out the window and didn’t wanted to look at Sirius.
“When did you arranged this bet?” it was James who asked.
“At the first this year’s visit to Hogsmeade,” Lily quietly confessed.
“Oh,” James said. “I think that this bet was doomed from the start,” Lily suspiciously studied James but said nothing.
The rest of the trip they played exploding snap. Seemed like everyone was sad in their own way about leaving Hogwarts. Time flew by and they arrived at the King’s Cross station.
“You have to come and visit me,” Alex said to Lily when they were looking for free trolleys.
“That would be great,” Lily was excited. “I will sent you an owl in a couple of days.”
“We have to go to Paris,” Alex suggested.
“I have never been there,” Lily shouted. “Is this for real, can we actually go there?”
“Of course!” Alex confirmed. “It can be our little girls’ trip, guys can entertain themselves!”
“I can imagine James’s face when I’ll tell him,” Lily laughed.
They had found some trolleys and now pushed them towards boys and their trunks.
When all the things had been put on the trolleys, they all said their good-byes. They hugged and wished luck and hoped for quick reunion. They also said good-byes to all of the rest seventh years.
“Wait for my letter,” Lily said one last time hugging Alex.
“I will,” she answered. “See you soon!”
“Good luck, mate!” Remus hugged Sirius and slapped him on his back. Lily didn’t understood why Remus was so keen on wishing luck to Sirius, but she had no time to think about that, because she was next who Remus hugged.
Finally everybody was ready to walk out into muggle world, Lily crossed the barrier, school was over and she needed to make plans for her future.
Just one last chapter left!
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