Lexi rested her elbows on the desk’s surface with a sigh, pushing her hair away from her eyes. All around her, her fellow Gryffindor seventh years worked with their partners to complete the current Magic Ec. project; mending laundry. Lexi glanced down at the empty seat next to her with a frown. She hadn’t seen her own partner since that day in Hogsmeade, or three days, eight hours, and fifty-seven minutes ago, not that she was counting.
She fingered the hole in the sweater she was supposed to be sewing, wondering where on earth Remus had disappeared to. He
was looking a bit ill
, she thought, maybe he’s in the hospital wing? I didn’t see him when I, err,
glanced, though. Or maybe he’s realized what he said to me on Saturday, and has gone into hiding? Honestly, what was I thinking? ‘It’s nice in Bulgaria this time of year’? Please, even James could do better than tha-
“Ms. Snow!” snapped Professor Blake, startling Lexi so badly that she almost fell out of her chair. “Are your fingers broken, or are you so incompetent, you haven’t figured out what to do with a needle and thread?”
Lexi smiled apologetically, but the Professor’s flashing grey eyes said she wasn’t having it. “I thought you were a bit smarter than that cousin of yours,” she said with a glance at a nearby table. It took all Lexi had to choke back her laughter, as she followed Blake’s gaze and saw Sirius glaring at a cackling Peter, the former’s fingers snarled in a wad of green thread.
“Clearly I was mistaken,” Blake said, her eyes on Lexi again. “Idiocy does run in the family.”
Lexi opened her mouth to point out that she was related to Sirius by marriage, not blood, but the Professor had already stalked over to the two boys in order to begin telling them off. Lexi shrugged. She and Sirius were as close as brother and sister, anyway, and he had long ago taught her that blood isn’t what makes a family.
She picked up her slender needle, stringing a lengthy piece if brown string through the eye, and tying it deftly. Being the only child of a single muggle father had taught her quite a few things, though in all honestly, she couldn’t bake to save her life.
She shuddered as she thought of The Great Pie Fiasco, which had happened two Christmases ago. Both she and her Father could never look at cherry pie the same way again. In retrospect, Lexi admitted that she might have prevented the whole thing if she had only checked the ingredients’ packaging, to make sure she was adding three cups of sugar, not three cups of salt…
A loud squeal from the desk in front of her made Lexi wonder who had decided to strangle a hamster, but she rolled her eyes as she saw that it was just James. The expression on his face was more gleeful than a six year old (or Peter, for that matter) at Christmas, and his brown eyes were wide as he waved around a pair of jeans.
“I did it!” he exclaimed, much to the Professor’s annoyance. “Look, my Lily, my blossom, my dove of love and joy! I have mended these trousers with a strong hand, and a stout heart! I am the kind hero of thread, vanquishing holes wherever they chose to rear their ugly, seamless heads.
“Let it be known throughout the lands,” he continued, turning to address the rest of the class, “never again shall the people of this great nation have to live in fear of rips and tears, for I, James Charlus Potter, shall defend the honor and dignity of gentle thread and noble string for one and all!”
James bowed, and Lexi wasn’t at all surprised when the class burst into a mixture of laughter and applause. Sirius and Peter seemed to especially approve of his speech, for they had begun mock-bowing repeatedly and chanting “Hail King McSewy” as James smiled graciously and dabbed tears from his eyes.
Lexi exchanged an amused glance with Lily, who rolled her emerald eyes in a very unconvincing manner. The number of bets being placed on the amount of time it would take Lily to give in and go out with James had increased tenfold since the start of the term. Lexi smiled to herself, confident in her own prediction. Her amount of pocket money would increase by quite a few galleons if they managed to get together by the first Quidditch match, though Sirius fiercely disagreed, claiming the new year was the soonest possible time for Evans to come to her senses.
“Shut up!” Professor Blake shouted, causing everyone to jump. “Black, Pettigrew, if you do not stop dancing around Potter, and take your seats within the next thirty seconds, I will personally seat you myself. With force
. And you, King Dimwit, you’ll be eating your words the next time you make such a sickening speech in my class.”
Sheepishly, the three boys did as they were told. Lexi turned to the seat next to her, but the smile slid from her face as she remembered Remus wasn’t there to share in the amusement.
With a scowl, she returned to both her work and her musings on what sort of place Remus would have picked to use as a hideout. She sewed away, failing to notice that her tiny, neat stitches had become huge, ragged zigzags. When the bell rang, she jumped out of her seat, leaving behind the ruined sweater and her friends as she muttered about hidden caves in the Australian outback.
“Oi! Lex-A-Thon,” James called, running up to her, and gently taking hold of her arm. “Where do you think we’re going? We have out first Quidditch training session in exactly thirty-two minutes.”
Lexi’s blue eyes went wide as she starred back at him. “We have what
James laughed. “I hope you weren’t thinking I forgot I put you on the team, for you are about to be very
disappointed. You, my good Ms. Lexi, have a fantastic arm, and your flying issue is all up here,” he said with a good-natured, if a little rough, tap to the side of her head.
“You can do this. Plus, proving you can get on a broom and go higher than three feet without fainting may just make everyone forget how hilarious it was when you did that in out first year. You should be thanking me, you know. This may just convince the rest of the school that you’re not the complete and utter ninny they think you are.”
Lexi was too shocked by the fact that she really was on the team to register what James had said. She had spent the last few weeks thinking of Remus, trying to block out all thoughts of snogging Snape, and work on her immense load of N.E.W.T. level homework to give Quidditch a thought. The last three days, and what was now nine hours and twenty-seven minutes, not that she was counting, Lexi had been especially distracted, as all she could think about was the almost kiss in Hogsmeade, and how Remus, who apparently fancied her back, had vanished.
Lexi groaned, and James must have taken it for some sort of happy sigh, for her beamed at her, and began to drag her along as he walked down the corridor, and towards the stairs.
“I’m so excited,” James informed her, grinning. “This is going to be a great year, I can feel it. I mean, I think I’ve put together a pretty solid team…”
Lexi tuned out James’ rambling as she followed him down the six staircases, out of the great double-doors and onto the school’s grounds. It wasn’t that she didn’t care what he was saying, it was more that she feared loosing her lunch if she paid attention.
He lead her across the massive Quidditch pitch, and to the Gryffindor locker room. The floor was covered with white tile, and two rows of red lockers separated the room perfectly. Two long golden benches sat in the center of the room, and a large chalkboard sat at the end of the room.
“It’s amazing, isn’t it?” James asked her, a dreamy smile on his face. Lexi smiled back, though she was more impressed that he could make a stuffy locker room seem as if it were a tropical paradise.
“Well, this is the girls side,” he said, gesturing to a curtain that blocked the entrance to the set of lockers. She peeped inside, unsurprised by the golden bench facing the lockers, and the nameplates in each of the scarlet doors.
“Well, we’ve got the House pride thing down, I guess,” she remarked as James pushed past her, walking down the row of lockers until he reached the second to the last door.
“Here you are,” he informed her, ignoring the comment. She followed him, surprised by the happy feeling she got at seeing her last name engraved on the nameplate. She ran a slender finger over the carved letters that made up the word ‘Snow’ and smiled to herself.
“See this?” he asked, and judging from the smirk on his face, Lexi knew he hadn’t missed her moment of glee. She followed his finger with a roll of her eyes, and saw that he was pointing to a small hole on the left hand side of the door. “Instead of having handles, we have this. All you have to do is tap the hole twice with your wand, and that sets it to open only for your wand, when tapped once.”
“Clever,” Lexi commented honestly. James just smiled, and gestured for her to accompany him back out into the main section, and to a door by the entrance she hadn’t noticed when they first came in.
“I have one last thing to give you,” James explained, tapping his own wand against the door handle.
It swung open to reveal a tiny cluttered office that only appeared smaller than it actually was, due to the boxes piled high in every available space. The only furniture to be seen was a desk covered in papers, and a filing cabinet in the corner.
James seemed to know what he was doing, for he began rummaging through a stack of boxes. Lexi watched him for a few moments, before entering what she guessed was James’ office, and began to look around herself.
The majority of the boxes were sealed, but those that weren’t seemed to contain nothing more than empty butter beer bottles. “What is all this?” she asked, feeling incredulous.
“Oh, just a little of this, and a little of that,” he answered casually, not bothering to turn and look at her. “Marauder stuff, mainly.”
Lexi raised an eyebrow at the word ‘Marauder’. There it was again. She had heard James and his three best mates call themselves that a few times during previous years, but now they used it daily. What did it mean?
“James,” she began carefully, “why exactly do you lot call yourselves ‘The Marauders’?”
He stood up slowly, and turned around to shoot her a nervous grin. “Well…I can’t exactly tell you. Bonds of brotherhood, and all that,” he said quickly. “I would be killed if I told you, you know.”
She eyed him carefully. “Then I suppose you can’t tell me why they call you ‘Prongs’?”
“I guess not,” he said, though he sounded a bit regretful. “And it would be awfully nice if you would quit trying to figure it out, it’s not helping me any.”
She leaned against the desk, folding her arms over her chest. Lexi was not
letting this go. “James, I don’t think they call you that because you have some weird love of forks.”
He blushed, and turned away quickly. “But I do! Honestly, I love forks; I have loads of them somewhere around here. Useful thing forks are, they help you, err, eat…And stuff.”
She knew he was aware of how stupid he sounded for the back of his neck had gone bright red. “And the rest of them? Peter likes worms, so you call him Wormtail? Sirius acts like a dog, so you’ve named him Padfoot? And what about Remus? He just looks at the moon a lot? I know you guys act like idiots, but you’re bloody clever. There’s no way I’m buying any of this.”
James turned to face her once again, looking very uncomfortable. “Look, Lexi, some things just aren’t mine to tell. We all have certain secrets, you know? I can’t tell you mine without giving away theirs.”
“Who does it hurt?”
“Who would it hurt if you told me? I mean, I’m Sirius’ sodding cousin, and we’ve been friends since the first year! Who would die if I found out? It’s not like I’m going to turn any of you in; if it’s that bad, I’ll kill you myself.”
James sighed, running a hand over his messy hair. “You are so like Sirius,” he muttered to himself, before meeting her eyes. “Okay, in all honestly, I have no idea why it would be so wrong to tell you or Lily a few
things. I have no idea how you haven’t figured some of it out just yet, you know us that well.
“I should not be doing this, Lexi, but I know we can trust you. You’ve never done wrong by us before, and you’ve been the only real family Sirius has. Also…Well, you’ve also made Remus happier than he has been in sometime, and that’s quite a feat. All I can give you is a hint, Lexi, and then it’s up to you, alright?”
She nodded, suddenly feeling apprehensive. She wanted nothing more than to know what her friends were up to, but the unusually serious expression on James’ face warned her that she might not like it. “May I ask a small question, first?”
A small smile tugged at his lips. “You can, but I may not be able to answer.”
“Does this…Does this have anything to do with why Remus hasn’t been in class?”
James went pale, and she knew instantly that she had guessed right, no matter what his answer would be.
“You’ll just have to guess,” he practically whispered, moving to stand in front of her.
“Are you ready?” he asked, barely waiting for her nod. “Our nicknames represent something about who we are. Something we can become, but something we don’t seem. And one of us has no choice in this matter.”
A/N: Ooo, a cliffie! :] I couldn't resist putting this in here, but have no fear, I'm practically done with the next two chapters, and I will be posting both of them on Halloween, I promise. Also, I'm working on a one-shot that explains exactly how Sirius and Lexi are cousins, since I've been terrible about that, I apologize.
I'd like to dedicate this chapter to everyone who has read or reviewed this story. Even though pretty much all my reivews were lost in the crash, I still remember them, and it's you guys who keep this story going. Thank you all SOO much. And another thanks to TDA's .showmetheLOVE for doing yet another chapter image.
Please leave a review! It's always good to know what you think, good or bad. Also, what do you think? Will Lexi figure it out right away, or will she have no clue as to what James is talking about? Will she fall off her broom, or will she master her fears? Please let me know what you think will happen, along with any questions, comments, anything!