It wasn’t until the second week of December that Hogwarts experienced it’s first snow fall of the winter. But it was worth the delay, for when it did finally come it was heavy and beautiful.
Lily loved winter. She loved the crunch of fresh snow under her feet, the burning sensation as her nose went red from the cold and the lovely, romantic setting provided by the white flakes. Lily was a true romantic when it came to winter and snow, it was all so graceful and calming to her.
Except for her boyfriend. If your idea of a perfect day in the snow was a romantic walk alongside the frozen crystal lake with the white flakes falling around you, then you were definitively barking up the wrong tree by dating a Marauder. To any of the four, snow wasn’t to be walked on and admired for it’s beauty, but to be thrown and fallen on!
Something their new girlfriends would find out the hard way.
“Do you want to go for a walk, James?” Lily asked on the Saturday afternoon, placing a bookmark in her new hardback and looked down at the head of one messy haired Marauder who lay sprawled on the floor beside the fire.
“What, you mean outside? In the snow?” he asked uncertainly in reply.
“Yes, of course, why not? Where else would we go? It’s really nice out there,” she said, glancing out of their common room window. “Don’t you like snow?”
“Hell yeah, I love snow! I live for it coming every year. It’s just-” James started but before he could get any further, Lily was on her feet.
“Great! Let’s go then, I’ll get my coat,” she said and went to her room, returning shortly afterwards with a black jacket, scarf and gloves. She may love winter, but not enough to risk catching an pneumonia because of it. “Ready?”
“Of course, but on your own head be it,” James said, trying to hide the mischievous smile sneaking onto his face, but his eyes spoke volumes as it was.
Ten minutes later the Head couple were outside, strolling the grounds hand in hand. The area between the castle and the lake looked surprisingly empty to Lily for such a good day. Hardly anyone was outside, even though it was a weekend and it was the first day of snow. Surely not the entire castle hated the cold white substance?
They didn’t, they just feared what use it would be put to by certain people.
Lily didn’t heed the obvious signs that were screaming danger at her though, and instead looked at James. “Are you ok, James? You seem a little out of it,” she noted as they reached the lake’s edge.
“Yeah, I’m fine. Suppose all this work leading up to the holidays is getting to me,” he said, but he continued to glance around his surroundings as though nervous of something happening.
Lily couldn’t help but smile. “What’s this? James Potter getting stressed over school work? What’s happening to the world!?”
James laughed. “No chance, Lils. You know me well enough by now to know I never stress. It could be more your stressing and constant working that’s the problem.”
“Awww, you poor thing. Has little baby Potter been lonely? I’m so sorry,” she teased, knowing he wasn’t serious.
James grinned too and wrapped his arms around her so he could pull her as close to him as was physically possible. “Oh, you will be, darling,” he said, before using his lips for an activity other than talking.
This is what they had been waiting for; James had let his guard drop for an instant and left himself defenceless. His attackers sprang at the golden opportunity, showing no mercy for the sweetness of young love.
Two snowballs, much larger than those made by Muggle children, went soaring towards the unsuspecting couple. But just before they struck, Lily ducked to the ground so that one caught James on the back of the head, while the other hit him smack-dab in the face.
“We open fire! First point to the Queens! All hail, all hail!” shouted a voice, seemingly from behind a large oak tree not too far a distance from where their attack had struck.
James looked down on his girlfriend who was rolling on the ground, in stitches of laughter. He bent down so that he was crouching in front of her face, receiving a sweet smile that claimed innocence.
“As you said; I know you well enough by now, Jamesie. Did you really think I had no idea about the Marauder ambushes?” Lily grinned wickedly.
James had been waiting for the traditional Marauder snowball fight to commence with the attack on Lily. Instead, Lily had outsmarted him and attacked him herself by letting her friends lose on him. Boy did it feel good to put your boyfriend in his place by pounding him with snowballs, especially when it foiled his attack on you in the process. That just made it even better!
“You’ll pay for this, Lilykins,” he told her, the Marauder twinkle gleaming from his eyes.
“We will see, Potter. Bring it on.”
James stood up with another grin and walked a few paces away. “Moony? Padfoot? Wormtail? You can come out now!” he called to them.
Three figures suddenly appeared in front of James, startling Lily but he barely even blinked.
“No need to shout, Prongs. We’re right here,” Sirius said.
“I know, but I felt like it anyways. The girls have decided to challenge us,” James told them.
“Yeah, we heard that too. Amberle can yell as loud as you, Prongs,” Remus said. “That shot at you was brilliant though, I never knew they could be so devious.”
“Yeah, no kidding. But maybe we should give them the chance to reconsider first? I mean we outnumber them as it is, and we definitely out-talent them,” Sirius said, directing his comment towards the oak tree that revealed the slight form of Amberle from behind it.
“Great word there, Sirius; out-talent. But you don’t have to worry about a thing. We’re ready to take you on, and beat you just so you know. And we even found another team mate who’s dying to take you all on, just in case you all wanted to use three-on-four as an excuse to chicken out,” Amberle informed them, her own imitation of the Marauder-smirk showing clearly.
“Oh, yeah? Who is it?” James asked.
Amberle’s grin widened even further and turned to the tree to beckon someone forward, someone who was much smaller than Amberle but had the same grin.
Lauren burst out laughing at the shocked looks on both James’ and Sirius’ faces; it was priceless. “Your face looks great with snow all over it, Jamesie. Aren’t you so glad you spent so much time last Christmas teaching me to aim properly?”
“That was you who got him?” Remus asked, clearly impressed and extremely amused. What was better than watching your friend getting bet up a stick by his kid sister?
“You can’t put me up against my sister, that’s cheating! I won’t be able to hit her then, I’d have to feel bad,” James complained.
Lily, finally recovered from her laughing fit, came to join Lauren and Amberle in front of the Marauders. “Does that mean you don’t feel bad about getting your girlfriend?”
“Well…You see…That’s different,” James said, not sure if she was joking or not. He loved his Marauders and this was a tradition after all, but Lily could make him pay very dearly for it.
“Not really, Prongs. Toughen up, you can get them,” Sirius encouraged, clapping him on the shoulder.
“Glad you feel that way, Siri,” Amberle told him.
“Really? And why’s that?”
Before another word could be spoken, Lily and Amberle took aim at their respective boyfriends and fired, being rewarded with a very satisfying smack as they hit their targets.
The Marauders, who had gotten so wrapped up in their discussions, challenges and the new surprise, had completely forgotten they were surrounded by ammo and open for attack at any time. Silly boys didn’t know how to play.
“’Cause we don’t feel the least bit bad about getting you,” Amberle answered Sirius, who was now wiping snow from his face.
“Does this mean you guys accept?” Lily asked casually to James, but her mischievous smile gave off so much light they didn’t need a sun to see.
“Definitely!” James agreed enthusiastically. Lily Evans could not expect to pull something like this on James Potter and get away with it. To hell with his earlier restricted thoughts, he was going to get her good now.
But there wasn’t enough time for the Marauders to do more than nod at one another before all four were hit over the head from behind with yet more snowballs, the one crashing over Remus looking suspiciously larger than the others. James, Sirius, Remus and Peter stared in shock at the three girls in front of them who hadn’t moved a muscle.
That didn’t mean they were innocent though, their grins definitely said otherwise.
“How the hell!?” Sirius exclaimed, looking around frantically for signs of another ambush.
“I think the score is two - nothing to us, right, Gabby?” Amberle called over the boys.
“Actually, it’s three points to zip. Looks like the Queens rule the snow this year, doesn’t it, Remus?” All four boys whipped around in unison to see Gabriella Frost standing behind them. How had they missed her?
“You did that?!” Remus cried, genuinely surprised. What had happened to her shy, innocent, non-devious nature? Gabriella nodded her head proudly.
“Oh bloody hell, they’re all corrupted!” James called out.
“This is war, ladies, you just missed your last chance. GET THEM!” Sirius roared and they surged forward, Remus ducking behind to get their sly attacker.
Although the Queens had won the first three battles, they had a long way to go before they claimed victory in the war. The bearers of this year’s throne were yet to be decided.
After an intense hour of ducking, diving, throwing, clear strikes and near misses, the Marauders seemed to finally be getting the upper hand.
“Hey, no shield charms! That’s cheating!” Lily cried indignantly to James who had avoided her latest shot at him by drawing his wand. After all, this was no Muggle snowball fight.
“So was planning an ambush on us during the peace talks,” James called back, firing another lump at his attacker, missing her narrowly.
“They weren’t peace talks, it was totally open for shots. You never said we couldn’t fire,” Lily reminded him as she leapt behind a rock to avoid being pounded with snow.
“And you never said we couldn’t use magic,” James shot back, throwing his head back in laughter at Lily’s stunned look. It was such a good thing James was so good looking, it made up for his utter-lack-of-sense moments. This was one of those moments, which Lily used to her advantage by drawing her wand and shooting three loads of snow at the laughing Head Boy, catching him magnificently on the chin in quick succession.
“Thanks, James. Never would have considered using my wand if you hadn’t pointed it out,” she yelled, before sprinting from her hiding place and ran at top speed as far away as she could get. But the trouble with running from a Quidditch star, an extremely fit Quidditch star, was that he could catch up on you very easily. Damn it!
The contest between Gabriella and Remus was almost decided, Gabriella being at the mercy of the werewolf for he had her pinned to the ground after stumbling.
“You know, when this first started, I was going to go easy on you,” Remus told her, grinning.
“You insult me!” Gabriella said, pretending to look affronted, but it was too much fun to take any of it seriously.
Except for the winning part, victory was a very serious thing to the Marauders.
“That was before I found out how devious and sly you really are,” Remus continued.
“Well, a Queen always has to have a few secrets and tricks up her sleeve.”
Lupin was suddenly silenced by a handful of snow that was stuffed into his mouth. He was stunned into shock again by the unexpected movement and was only woken by the sound of Gabriella’s triumphant cackle as she sprinted away.
He was up and after her like a shot. No mercy this time, he was going to win, he was damn sure of it. Marauders never lost, especially not to girls.
Well, tell that to Peter, who had been very quickly over come by Lauren Potter. It hadn’t been much of a show; Wormtail’s reluctance to hurt her and her sheer skill at the sport being the deciding factors of the highly disappointing swift result.
Lauren was not at all satisfied with her own part in the game, knowing Peter would never give her a fair shot and the others pairing off in their couples. But she got great amusement in watching Gabriella finally cornered and forced to surrender by her boyfriend and especially from her brother’s elaborate fight with Lily using wands to send or stop snow, which had the hilarious result of both going crashing through the ice of the lake when Lily was finally beaten.
But the real entertainment and battle featured Amberle and Sirius, who were still going on forcefully long after everyone else had waved their white flags of surrender. They had been outdoors for two hours by this stage after all and were beginning to feel the effects of the cold now the adrenalin was wearing off.
Neither Sirius nor Amberle were showing any signs of weakness however. They didn’t look to be nearing the end of their challenge either, they were so evenly matched in skill and quick thinking, as well as movement, that it looked impossible that one could really beat the other.
“You know, White, your surname really suits surrendering,” Sirius commented.
“Nice of you to notice, Black. Here, you can have a better look at the colour of the flag you’ll be waving,” Amberle said to him and volleyed a ball of compacted snow towards him. But it never reached it’s mark, instead collided with one of Sirius’ own shots in mid air and the flakes fell to the ground without success.
“Do you think it’s going to end at all?” Lauren whispered to Gabriella, who was sitting beside her.
“Not likely. Unless Amberle kills Sirius or something, which I could definitely see her doing at this rate,” the older Gryffindor girl said.
So much for the whole not taking this seriously theory. Unlike the other tussles that had developed from the original contest, the air around this one was much more intense and far less playful. There was an underlying purpose to it, that much was obvious to anyone, it wasn’t just a game to those two. Although they were dating, they still had a lot of unresolved history between themselves. One was trying to prove he could have anything he set his mind to, the other wanting to show clearly she was under no one’s command for anything.
Funny how such dramatic feelings could get caught up in something as simple and childish as a snowball fight, wasn’t it?
“James,” Lily hissed, “your sister is turning blue out here! Can’t they just call it a tie and end it at that?” she asked, her own teeth chattering; The heating charm she had cast after emerging from the freezing lake really wasn’t working.
“When has Sirius, or Amberle for that matter, ever settled for a tie?” James asked.
It was true, too true to object to. The bitter cold and tinge of hostility didn’t make the afternoon any less enjoyable, however. Sirius and Amberle wove and bounced their way around one another for an extra half hour, pulling off brilliant moves (compliments of their Quidditch training) to avoid the white missiles and using some spectacular tactics to make sure their shots were unavoidable. Who needed Quidditch, or any other sport, when you could watch something like this?
The end came all of a sudden, but it was no less wonderful than what had been happening up to then. In fact, it was better. It looked like Amberle decided she was going to show Sirius who the boss really was for when she pointed her wand at him, her face took a meaningful stance. She waved the wand in a circular motion and muttered something under her breath that nobody could hear, sending snowballs zooming at her opponent from all sides. But while Sirius got distracted trying to defend himself, he took his eyes off the dangerous Queen for a moment and she charged, connecting with him and knocking them both clear off their feet.
“Guess this means I win then, huh?” she asked when they landed.
Lily and Gabriella cheered wildly; who cared they’d been beaten themselves? Watching Sirius getting flattened was worth it! Lauren joined in the cheering as they celebrated the fantastic victory.
Sirius didn’t look too disappointed that he’d lost, in fact he looked quite happy that it had resulted in Amberle lying on top of him. He started laughing while she cheered with her friends before he flipped her over onto the snow and kissed her, making quite sure he was in full view of everyone else. The Marauders cheered and laughed at Sirius’ usual antics; so much for the hostile tension.
“Looks like you guys can hand over those crowns now,” Amberle said when she finally dragged Sirius up and over to everyone else.
“We can’t actually, it was a tie,” Remus took pleasure in telling her, and grinned at her outraged look.
“What? You guys didn’t beat these wimps?!” she demanded of her three team mates.
“I did!” Lauren piped up proudly straight away. It was an easy win, but who cared? A win was a win to a Potter.
“No way this was a tie. Three wins against one; we win!” Lily proclaimed.
“Don’t know where you’re getting three from, Lils. Gabriella here was beaten, as were you, my dear,” James reminded her, with more than a twinge of arrogance in his tone.
“I did not lose! We fell right after I’d cornered you,” Lily argued.
“No, you yelled you surrendered before we fell,” James contradicted.
“Excuse me for interrupting here but; you fell?” Sirius asked, extremely confused about how one fall could cause the decider of the match…
“Yeah, genius here thought it would be great to go out onto the lake, but the ice wasn’t thick enough and we fell through,” Lily explained, her cheeks turning a darker shade of pink than before.
“Yep, but after she surrendered to the Marauder Power!” James said triumphantly.
“I did NOT! You’re so conceited, Potter,” Lily yelled back.
Everyone else laughed, the bickering couple joining in soon after. Things were exactly as they’d always been; Marauders joking, slagging and Lily fighting with James.
Yep, just like the good old days. Nothing had changed.