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Chapter 13: Breaking Ties
image by Anatkh
It was eleven o'clock in the morning and Brigid Mullins was sitting on her bed staring into space.
She knew she should get moving. She had been so horribly excited when the idea to break up the Marauders had first been presented, that she had thought nothing of putting a Binding Charm on and had, in fact, only done it so that Elle wouldn't chicken out and quit.
Another stupid mistake, she thought angrily. I can't do anything without screwing it up.
She snatched up the Binding Charm that was resting on her bedside table and resisted the temptation to set it on fire.
Brigid shook the paper furiously and, throwing it to the ground, made her way downstairs.
Brigid found herself standing outside James's door. She had been waiting for about five minutes and still couldn't bring herself to knock.
She looked down the hall to Sirius's bedroom door and found herself wishing she was there instead. I can't believe how wrong this went, she thought. I wasn't supposed to fall for him.
The memories flooded her mind.
The way he grinned in a cheeky sort of way whenever he looked at her. The way her name sounded beautiful when he said it. The way he smelled so wonderful when he held her close.
Brigid mentally shook herself and, with a sudden urge, knocked on the door.
There was no answer.
Brigid turned the knob and carefully opened the door. "Get out, Re-"
James was staring at her in confusion. "Oh," he said. "I thought you were..."
His voice trailed off gloomily.
Time to be an actress, Brigid thought miserably.
"I know what happened last night," she said. "Lily's an idiot."
She forced bitterness into her voice. "Lily's always ignored you, and now when she finally takes you, she cheats," said Brigid dramatically. "I was always stuck on the sidelines. No handsome, funny, Quidditch player for me. But now..."
She advanced slowly on James, who was looking at her with a shocked expression. "But now maybe you'll see," said Brigid, standing right in front him. "She never deserved you."
But somehow she couldn't get herself to go any further. Think of Elle, she thought furiously. And Lily. They've already lost what they had because of you.
But she didn't have to because at that moment, James pulled her towards him in a kiss.
Damn, thought Brigid. Lily was right. He is a good kisser.
James deepened the kiss and Brigid began to freak out. Where is Sirius? she thought frantically. This won't work if he doesn't...
James lost himself in that kiss, forgetting who he was kissing, willing himself to believe that it was Lily. But suddenly, he opened his eyes and remembered it was Brigid. My best mate's girl, he thought guiltily.
"Look, Brigid," he said, pulling away from her. "I can't do this to Sirius. He's my best friend."
A long list of swear words ran across Brigid's mind. It wasn't working at all.
Before she could stop him, James crossed and disappeared into Sirius's room.
"Sirius," said James, shaking his sleeping friend. "Padfoot! Wake up!"
Sirius sat up in bed, his shaggy hair a mess, and his eyes still half closed. "Whachoo' want?" he asked sleepily.
"Brigid was just in my room," said James.
Sirius's eyes came into focus and his brow furrowed. "What was she doing there?"
"Er," said James. "Kissing me."
"What the hell, James!" yelled Sirius, suddenly leaping out of bed.
"Shut up," said James, cringing. "You'll wake my parents."
"No, I won't! They left again this morning!" continued Sirius. "And it's a bloody good thing, too, or else they might've heard you shagging my girlfriend!"
James was interrupted by two doors slamming and moments later, Peter and Remus stumbled into the room. "What's going on?" squeaked Peter.
"James has just been off messing around with my girlfriend," spat Sirius.
"No, I haven't!" shouted James. "I told her to stop! You've got to believe me! I'm your best mate!"
"I don't give a flying fuck if you're the Minister of Magic!" yelled Sirius. "You don't go around with a friend's girl!"
"Didn't keep you off of Elle, did it?" said Remus, suddenly.
"Don't you start, Lupin," growled James. "You and Lily were-"
"Will you all shut the fuck up?"
They turned in shock to look at Peter, who was looking uncharacteristically pissed off.
They all glared back at him, and for a moment, all ties of friendship were broken.
At that moment, there were no Marauders.
"The words!" cried Elle. "The words are gone!"
And she was right.
The once bold black writing had faded away entirely.
Brigid snatched up the paper and dropped it immediately, gasping, "Hot!"
"We all have to touch it," said Lily, eyeing the paper warily.
Glancing at her friends' nervous faces, she reached out her hand and nodded to Brigid and Elle to do the same.
"On three," she whispered. "One...Two...Three!"
On the last count, the three girls threw their fingers on the paper and were met by an agonizing burning sensation.
Elle gave a small whimper. Lily gritted her teeth and said through them, "Don't move your hand. Whatever happens."
As she spoke, the Binding Charm burst into blood red flames that danced around their hands. The flames died moments later and all that was left of the paper was a pile of ash.
Taking the cue from Lily, who snatched back her hand, Brigid and Elle withdrew their hands.
Burned red into the flesh of their palms, was an X.
After a few moments, skin appeared to grow over and all that was left was a faint scar line.
The only evidence that anything had happened was the cries of pain that came from Elle, as she rocked back and forth cradling her hand.
The four boys stood eyeing each other angrily for about five minutes, each thinking their own hateful thoughts, when suddenly a seemingly irrelevant memory floated to the top of Remus Lupin's mind.
Elle upset about something. Something she had said.
"We decided we were going to play a huge prank on you all."
"No," he said suddenly, figuring it all out.
"No, what?" spat James.
"This is what they meant to happen," said Remus.
"They?" snorted Sirius. "What, are we talking about the voices in your head?"
Remus ignored him and crossed to sit in a chair, thinking hard. "Didn't it seem odd?" he said feverishly. "That nearly the same day we pranked them horribly, the same group of girls begin making advances on us?"
Sirius opened his mouth to say something, probably about the use of the phrase "making advances", but Remus cut him off. "The same group of girls who, up until then, had seemed to do everything in their power to ignore us and seemed to hate us indefinitely."
"Oh, my God," said James, his mouth open in shock.
"And then out of the blue, the same girls begin cheating on us, within the group."
"Splitting us up," muttered Sirius. "We've been pranked."
"Remus," said James, who had sat down after the realization. "I'm sorry."
"Me, too," said Remus, smiling sheepishly.
"Right," said Sirius, clapping his hands together. "So we're all assholes and have done stupid things we feel bad for...great...so how are we getting back?"
"Charm their harm permanently green?" suggested Peter.
"Oh, no," said Remus, smiling. "Much worse. I say we turn the tables on them."
"Exactly!" said James, leaping up. "Damned if they think they can pull one over on the Marauders! I mean, c'mon, what are we?"
Sirius started to say something, but James hastily interrupted. "Nevermind, don't answer that."
"So, how do we do it?" asked Peter.
"Well, Wormtail," said Sirius. "It's simple, really. Er...how do we do it?"
"We'll have to wait and see how they act around us now," said Remus, glancing at the wall clock. "It's about twelve thirty. I say the best course of action is to make them think it worked. At dinner tonight, just act pissed."
"Meanwhile, I think we should stay in our separate rooms," said James. "We're supposed to be at each other's throats, remember?"
The other three mumbled in agreement and Remus and Peter left to go to their rooms.
"I'm an idiot," said James, apologetically.
"Yeah, we noticed," said Sirius, grinning at him.
"No, I'm serious," said James.
"Well, who am I then?"
James held out his hand and Sirius shook it solemnly before breaking into a grin and giving his best friend a, as Sirius insisted, manly hug.
"Um, Sirius, could you please pass the pasta?" asked Elle timidly.
"Yeah, whatever," said Sirius, grabbing the dish and setting it in front of her roughly.
"You want to try to be careful with my family's dishes, Black?" asked James, rudely.
"James Potter!" scolded Mrs. Potter, who had gotten back around three. "Show some manners to your guests."
She glared in James's direction and turned to Sirius saying, "Although, Sirius, dear, you might be a bit more careful..."
"Yeah," grumbled Sirius, giving James a wink that everyone else completely missed.
This is fun, thought Sirius gleefully. I should be rude more often.
This is horrible, thought Brigid miserably. Look what we did to them.
She looked around the table at all of them.
She tried to keep her nose from wrinkling as she looked to her right. Peter had sat next to her, when Sirius, evidently angry with her, had not. She watched him for a moment. He chewed his food quickly in silence and his pale blue eyes darted around suspiciously. Disgusting, she thought, in spite of herself.
She looked to her other side at Lily. Her brilliantly green eyes were fixed on Mrs. Potter, who was telling her a story. Brigid was pretty sure that Lily had zoned out, as she kept reaching her hand up and brushing back some strands of her beautiful red hair.
Then came James. Brigid smiled to herself as she saw his hazel eyes glance at Lily more often than necessary and he kept running his hand through his messy black hair (which his father finally called him on). Well, at least some things are normal, she thought wearily.
At the head of the table sat Mr. Potter, and to his right, his wife. Next to Mrs. Potter, was Remus. Brigid was surprised how little she knew about him, even though he had been around her for so long, because of Elle.
We don't know any of them that well, she thought.
She studied Remus's face. He always had a tired look about him, and his sandy colored hair, though not as long as Sirius's and James's, still looked rumpled.
As she looked on to Elle, she wasn't surprised to see that her friend was staring at her plate blankly, and had barely touched anything. She seemed to be hiding in her curly hair. She looked up at Brigid, and her blue eyes stood out among her freckles. Brigid smiled weakly and then dropped eye contact.
Sirius, she thought sadly, watching him.
She loved everything about him and her heart ached as she thought of what she had done to him.
As if sensing her, Sirius met Brigid's gaze and she was disturbed to find that his expression was devoid of any emotion-anger, hurt, love.
There was none.
Brigid, not usually bothered, found this very upsetting and, after asking to be excused, made her way up the stairs, followed a little while later by Elle and Lily.