Chapter 14 : Welcome Back
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Peter snapped his trunk shut just as James appeared in the doorway. "My mum says to be down in the living room soon," he said briskly. "Alright, Wormtail?"
Peter nodded and James turned and left.
Seven years and nothing changes, Peter thought bitterly.
Even in the beginning, Peter knew he was the odd one out, the fourth wheel, so to speak. They probably wouldn't even have accepted him if it hadn't been for the excellent Furnunculus Charm he had laid on Snape in that first month of school.
They had all been friends right from the off, and they were all something Peter longed to be. James and his wonderful Quidditch skills. Sirius with his good looks and charm. Remus and his good grades. All of them were popular.
And then there's me, he thought. What good am I?
Still, he liked being part of the Marauders, even if he was on the outside. James, Sirius, and Remus counted him as a friend, but not on the same level as they valued each other. They protected him from his peers, and on more than one occasion they had raised their wands in his defense.
"Wormtail!" called Sirius from the stairs. "You coming?"
With a huff, Peter dragged his trunk out the door and to the stairs.
No sooner had they stepped into the living room, then Remus found that a sobbing Elle had thrown herself on him. "R-R-Remus," she said, burying her face in his chest. "I'm s-so sorry!"
All thoughts of getting even gone, for the moment at least, Remus wrapped his arms around the crying girl, holding her tightly. "Elle, please don't cry," he muttered, kissing the top of her head.
"Is it alright if I keep some of my dignity by not throwing myself at you?" asked Lily, smiling slightly at James.
"Who says I want to make-up?" asked James, with a mock serious tone.
Lily flung her arms around his neck and he pulled her close. "Shut up, Potter," she muttered, as he moved in to kiss her.
Meanwhile, Sirius had snuck up on Brigid, who was facing the other way, pretending not to see him. He slid his arms around her waist and, pulling her to him, began to kiss her neck.
"Oh, get off me, you horny bastard!" giggled Brigid, trying to wriggle away.
"Does this mean I get a make-up shag?" asked Sirius, waggling his eyebrows.
"Let me think about it..."
Sirius gave her a sulky look and Brigid kissed him saying, "You're so cute when you pout."
Peter sat to the side watching the happy couples. And then there's me, he thought gloomily.
Luckily, he was saved by Mrs. Potter entering the room. She glared round at them all. "I hope you don't behave like that at school," she said, unable to hide the amusement in her voice.
"Alright, James," she continued. "You go through the fire first."
She gave her son a big hug and kiss and attempted to smooth his hair. "Just like your father's," she said lovingly, before she watched her only son disappear through the flames.
"Welcome back," said Dumbledore, rising at the Head Table. "To all. Including our Head Boy and Girl, James and Lily."
There was applause from everyone, except about half the Slytherin table. "And now on to serious news. As I'm sure most of you have read in the papers, attacks have become more frequent. Attacks made by Voldemort."
There was a loud hiss of whispering and several girls at various tables fainted. Everyone's eyes had become wide and frightened. Elle shivered against Remus, who put his arm protectively around her.
Dumbledore's usually twinkling expression was now somber. "I only wish to assure you that as long as you are within these walls, you are safe."
There was a moment of silence. "And now," he said, smiling slightly. "The feast."
The dinner appeared, followed by delicious desserts. Sirius groaned as Lily passed him a plate of strawberries with whipped cream. "What?" asked Brigid, reaching for a piece of pie. "Eat yourself sick?"
"No," he said, with a funny smile on his face, leaning back in his chair. "It's the whipped cream."
James, Remus, and Peter all took one look at the plate and snorted with laughter. "Don't tell her the story," chuckled Remus.
"What?" asked Brigid, her eyes alight with curiosity. "Tell me!"
"Well, my dear Brigid," he said. "Let's just say it was my first...how to put it..."
"Kinky experience," finished James, grinning.
"Exactly," said Sirius proudly, as the three girls made a face. "So I'm cursed to feel horny whenever I see whipped cream."
"You always feel horny," said Remus, winking at Elle.
Sirius just grinned broader and moved his hand under the table. "Sirius, get your hand off my thigh!" cried Brigid indignantly, causing Sirius to sulk.
All in all, it was a very happy feast, and as the girls kissed their boyfriends goodnight and went off to their separate dormitories, they felt as if all was forgiven and everything was alright again.
"So do we have a plan yet?" asked Sirius, sprawling himself on a Gryffindor armchair. "I'm assuming they're planning on trying again later. Why else would they stick around?"
As usual, the Marauders had kicked any younger students out of "their" area. "Yeah," said Remus. "Basically we wait a few weeks..."
"Lull them into a false security," added James.
"Then we do exactly the same thing they did to us," finished Remus. "Only we switch it around."
"So then I get ..." Sirius thought out loud. "Lily...excellent!"
James shot him a look. "They'll never know what hit them," he said.
Remus had fallen silent. "You know," he said quietly. "I really did like her."
"Did?" asked James, eyebrows raised.
Remus rolled his eyes. "Well, do."
James smiled glumly. "Yeah, I know," he said. "I think we all did."
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