“Okay, I want all of you who are not in Gryffindor to leave the stadium immediately! And that definitely means you, if you are in Hufflepuff! This is Gryffindor's tryouts!” James roared, whilst pointing to a bunch of Hufflepuff third years, frolicking around Sirius.
“Well handled Prongs! You tell our fan club when it is and isn't okay to be lurking about!” Sirius yelled, then swung his leg over his broom and shot fifty feet up into the air.
James ran a hand through his hair and looked towards the stands. Yes, there she was, Lily Evans; talking animatedly with Aria who was suspended in front of her on her broom. Her presence was making him nervous. He was Quidditch captain again this year, and after the last two years, he shouldn't feel any nervousness at all! Especially since this was just tryouts. And yet, here he was, running a hand through his hair, being all anxious because he didn't want to embarrass himself in front of her. He also wanted to show her that he is responsible now, in Quidditch and being Head Boy.
Over the last week or so, the plan that Remus had described was going well. He didn't know what she thought about it exactly, but he knew she could tell he was different. Whether that was a good or a bad thing, he was still to find out.
“Oi James! Stop Staring at her!” Aria waved a hand in front of his face. “Are we going to get on with these tryouts or not? I don't have all night, and I'm pretty sure Lily doesn't want to sit up there for long. You know she doesn't like Quidditch that much!”
James was brought out of his reverie and nodded to Aria, and then promptly turned around to the waiting Gryffindor’s, taking his mind off his red-headed beauty.
“Okay, my apologies. Since there is now only Gryffindor’s here, I want you to split up into groups of what you are trying out for. We are looking for a chaser and a beater since our former team mates have left us. But before you do so, may I warn you that the current team and I are very passionate about the game and this team. We are most definitely here to win this year. Last year we were in reaching distance of the cup, but unfortunately due to extenuating circumstances of the said game,” James paused to shoot a dirty look at Sirius, “Slytherin beat us, and this year it most certainly won’t be happening. I will not let my house down this time. For those of you who weren’t present, the Slytherins decided to parade their win for the next two months and let me assure you, it was not fun.”
“Wasn't fun? I think you are putting that a little too lightly James! I ended up in the hospital wing for a week due to their stupid celebrating! It was a right pain in the arse if you ask me!”
James turned towards the complaint and saw fourth year Jack Barnett, the resident keeper. He was extremely talented, but his big mouth and attitude usually got him and his team mates in trouble. Much like Sirius.
“Thank you Jack, however would you please refrain from frightening off the hopefuls before they even try out!”
“Sorry Captain.” Jack visibly flushed, and lowered his head.
Sirius snickered, “At ease Soldier.”
James shot Sirius a reproachful stare and turned back to those who were standing in front of him. “Now, I want those of you who are trying out for the chaser position to go stand with our other chaser, Alexa here and the people here for the beater spot to stand over near Sirius.”
“There seems to be more girls trying out for the beater position this year, most likely because Sirius would be their partner in crime. Knowing him, he would probably be their partner in things other than crime. Typical though, I suppose. Just typical Sirius sodding Black.” Aria muttered darkly beside him, before mounting her broom and zooming up into the air and out of site.
“Okay, beaters you stay on the ground. Chasers, I want you up in the air.”
James followed the chasers, and felt the reoccurring sense of freedom that he always did when he flew into the air. He circled the pitch a couple of times before directing the prospects through a few drills, noting those that had skill.
He did the same for the beaters, although this time he constantly had Sirius in his ear about some hot sixth year that he should give the position to. Brushing him off, he concentrated on skill and dedication alone. After an hour or so, he concluded the tryouts and gestured to the ground so people would come down.
“Excellent work everyone. I will post the team up in the common room tomorrow morning. I apologise in advance for those of you who did not make it. Feel free to try out again next year.”
He waited for those who tried out to filter out of the stadium before turning to look at his team members. Aria was seeker. He had known her all his life, due to her family living next door. He knew from a young age that she would be a talented player. So he urged her to try out for seeker in their second year, when he went for chaser. She was fast and had crazy eye sight, so seeking really was her forte.
Alexa Spinnet was next to her. She was from a well known Quidditch playing family. Her older brother was playing professionally for Puddlemore. She followed after her brother’s talent, playing chaser. Alexa was a fifth year blonde, who was fast and cunning on her broom, usually using her looks to her advantage.
Jack stood next to her inspecting his keeper gloves to see if there were any faults. Unfortunately, he sometimes took this game more seriously than James did.
Sirius was the last member of their team. He was gracefully lounging on his broom a couple of feet in the air, looking toward where the last of the girls had left the stadium.
“Sirius, stop perving and get down from there. I want to talk. This year was definitely a hard one.”
Sirius snorted, “That’s what she said.”
Aria rolled her eyes and muttered “jerk” under her breath while James shoved Sirius of his broom before continuing.
“There was some great talent out there today, but I have made my decision. As the third chaser, I'm choosing Seth Bell, from third year. He is a little small, but he is an excellent flyer and he had a fairly good arm on him.”
They nodded and waited for him to continue speaking.
“As for the beater spot, it was a little harder seeing as there were so many trying out for it, but I'm going with Dominique LaClaire, from sixth year.”
Sirius gave a loud whoop before sending fireworks into the sky. James smiled and reached for his wand to extinguish the fireworks, but they disappeared just as he looked up.
“Sirius Black, you know that’s illegal in the school grounds. I will put you in detention next time I see you do anything like that! You're endangering the team!”
“Sorry Lilykins won’t happen again!”
Lily smiled and winked in Aria's direction before moving down the stairs of the stands.
James sigh, “Okay team, off to the showers.”
Upon finishing his extra long shower, James walked back into the stadium to pack up the equipment and lock up. He walked around the dark pitch, lost in thought before he heard footsteps approach him from behind. Startled, he spun around and pointed his wand at the figure in front of him and cast a non-verbal disarming charm.
“Hey! That's my wand!”
“Yes! Why did you do that?”
“Sorry, you startled me. I was just being cautious. You don't know what is out at night these days. Anyway, what are you doing wandering in the dark! It's dangerous!”
“I know that, but you're here aren't you, so I don't feel in danger at the current moment! Where are you? Can you put some light up please?”
James muttered 'Lumos', and turned toward the sound of her voice. His heart lurched upon seeing her. He passed back her wand and stepped back slightly, her smell intoxicating him.
“So you didn't answer me. What are you doing down here? I thought you went up with Aria?”
“I did, but then I realised that I forgot my book that I was reading in the stands earlier. What about you? Why so late?”
“Well I had an extra long shower and I have to pack up and lock up and such.”
James looked down at his hands. Meeting her gaze was much too intimidating in this small space. He always felt like her eyes were x-raying him.
“Did you just perform non-verbal magic before? You disarmed me, and I'm pretty certain I didn't hear you say anything.”
“Um yeah, I did. Sorry about that.”
“No, No, that’s okay. I was just impressed that’s all. Non-verbal magic is fairly hard.”
James was momentarily stunned. This was the first time he has ever received a compliment from Lily Evans. How was he meant to respond to that?!
He kept his eyes lowered towards his feet. “Sirius is pretty adept at it, so he taught us a couple of years back.”
“You've known how to perform non-verbal magic since fifth year?!” Lily questioned, her voice quietening with awe.
James blushed. She seemed genuinely impressed. He had no idea how to deal with this side of Lily; he had never experienced it before.
“Yeah we have,” He looked back up at her impressed gaze and lowered it once again, trying to find a conversation topic away from what it currently was. If he accidently mentioned that all four of them were Animagi, which technically meant he could perform wandless magic, then they were dead meat. Not to mention it was illegal. Plus, Sirius would have his head. Even if it was the woman of his dreams, a Marauder always kept a Marauder secret. “Anyway, we should go up. I know we are heads, but I still don't trust that new character Filch. The thought of bumping into him isn’t the most inviting thought.”
The corners of her mouth upturned into a half smile, she nodded and started to make her way to the exit of the pitch. James followed in her wake, making the necessary spells to lock up. There was no way in hell that he would let her walk up through the grounds alone.
They walked in silence, which was not unlike most of their rounds. It was never awkward though. It was a comfortable silence. He had always wondered what she thought about during these times. Her expression sometimes gave him and inkling to what it might be, but he was always too nervous to ask. He had no idea what her reaction might be in that case, and he didn't want to get her angry again. He snuck a sidelong glance at her. Tonight her expression looked thoughtful. A confused thoughtful though, as there was a slight frown furrowing in between her eyebrows. James had the urge to reach across and brush his thumb against her forehead, as if to try smooth her confusion, but he held back.
Turing into the corridor of the head rooms, Lily stopped walking abruptly and faced James. “Potter, the other reason I was down at the pitch was coz I just wanted to tell yo-”
“Jamseeey! I've been looking for you all night!”
James turned to see Chloe prancing up the corridor towards them. When she had gotten close enough, she flung her arms around James neck and pulled him close.
“Where have you been? I miss you! I don't know if I can wait for our date on the weekend!”
“Oh hi Chloe. Quidditch tryouts were tonight, remember?”
“Oh, that stupid game! Anyway, it doesn't look like you are at Quidditch tryouts now?” Chloe crossed her arms and shot a cold glare at Lily, “You're with her again?!”
“Well it's because we are heads and-”
Lily's face was read with frustration and her fists were clenched at her side, the usual stance when she was angry. “You know, don't worry about it. Chloe, I'm leaving now anyway. See you later Potter.”
James flinched when she said his last name. It was like ice. He liked that she was
calling him by his first name on occasion. He heard her mutter a gruff 'Lily Potter' before walking through the portrait hole.
Chloe was suddenly on top of him, purring in his ear. “You know James; I'd really like to visit that broom cupboard on the fifth floor.”
“You know what Chloe; I think I'm going to have to take a rain check. I'll see you on the weekend though.”
Without another looked, he took off towards the Gryffindor common room.
He ran through the portrait hole and up the boys staircase to the seventh year room and burst in without knocking. Remus was on his bed with his potions essay propped up against his legs, Sirius was sprawled on his bed, gazing up at his canopy and
Peter was sitting on the floor slowly flipping through the pages of his potions book.
He stopped in the middle of the room, huffed and looked upward with his hands in balls beside his legs.
“Why is it that when Lily Evans finally comes to talk to me, something or someone interrupts! It drives me insane. It's like God or Merlin or whatever has a personal vendetta out against me. It's like they never want me to be happy! Am I just putting effort into something that will never happen? Because if that is true, then I wish someone would have told me before I had fallen in love with that girl. I've got no friggen hope now.”
James looked around the room at his friends. They all had looks of utter confusion on their faces. His sudden outburst seemed to have shocked them and not enlightened them. All he wanted was a damn answer.
“Oi! This is a massive deal. I'm literally about to hit the roof. I'll end up punching some poor innocent kid if I'm not careful.”
Remus was the first out of his shock. He threw his essay aside and walked over to where James was standing. “Alright James, you just need to calm down first of all. Breathe in and out. Now I suggest you explain the whole story. I can't help you if I don't understand the situation.”
Remus directed him back over toward his old bed and sat him down. He gave him and encouraging pat on the back before sitting opposite him on the next bed.
James gave another exasperated huff and rubbed his face, frustrated. “I just don't understand.”
He felt the bed next to him sag and he removed his hands to see that Sirius had relocated next to him. “Look mate, when has anyone understood what Lily Evans has done or why she goes about doing those things? Remember the time she helped out that sixth year Slytherin, even though they were cussing her head off. If she hadn't gotten to him, then he would have been seriously injured. Any other Gryffindor would have never gone near a scene like that, and yet she takes herself off into the thick of it all. I don't know whether it was because she felt obligated or because she just wanted to help the poor buggar out, I have no idea, but she really is one of the most intricate, complex individuals I know. I'm surprised that you have persevered this long. If it were me, I would have lost my bloody mind already. However it's shown me that you don't just have an infatuation with her. It's definitely more than that. Your heart seems to be fully involved now.”
James snorted. “My heart seems to be in it now? Padfoot, my heart has always been in it. I just didn't know how to tame my brain to what my heart was telling me to do.”
Peter had somehow ended up next to the beds they were sitting on and looked up at James curiously. “What actually happened James? It seems a lot worse this time. Usually you take what she does to you in your stride. Did she curse you or something?”
“Nah surprisingly she didn't. She seems to have stopped this year. And Merlin, I know, I do usually take it in my stride but this was just too much. She actually came back down to the Quidditch pitch after the tryouts and waited for me. Made up some bogus lie about leaving her book in the stands. We walked up through the castle and she stopped me just before we got to the head rooms and said that she came back down because she wanted to tell me something.”
Sirius narrowed his eyes. “And what did Miss Lily have to say?”
“Well that’s just the thing isn't it? Bloody Chloe had to come sauntering up the bloody corridor right as Lily was about to tell me. Now here comes the weird part. After Chloe came over and said hello to me and asked why Lily was there, Lily literally blew it. Her face went all red like it usually does, she actually spat my name when she was leaving, and she called me Potter again might I add, and then she stormed off into the portrait hole!”
Remus was staring pointedly at James. “What did Chloe do when she came up to you? Touch you in any way? Did she say anything to Lily?”
James frowned thoughtfully. “Well she put her hands around my neck when she got to me... and she didn't look very nicely at Lily when she asked me why she was there."
Remus sighed. “Well, there’s your answer.”
Wait, I don't get it!” Sirius complained.
“Neither do I.” Peter squeaked.
James was still frowning but now looking down at his hands.
“James, Lily went out of her way to actually come find you, because she obviously had something important to say. She is already pretty insecure and vulnerable around you as it is because of all those endless years of pranking, so coming to find you, let alone be civil, is fairly out of her league. When Chloe turned up, you showed interest in another girl, which in Lily's eyes, she sees as your 'old' ways. The moment that you turned to Chloe and forgot that Lily was about to tell you something, she was probably hurt that you didn't even have the attention span to stay focused on the situation at hand.”
James' head shot up. “So you're saying that she thinks I lost interest in what she was saying when I turned toward Chloe?”
“Aw man! Why does this have to happen to me?”
Sirius laughed. “Prongs, when has it ever been simple between you and Evans?”
James merely groaned, leant forward and put his head in his hands. Sirius gave him a clap on the back before getting up and moving toward his own bed.
“You do know that this is a good sign though James.” Remus said over James' incessant groaning.
“How could it be good Moony? You're insane!”
“I'm quite sane thank you very much! More so than the rest of you! Look at it this way. That’s a pretty big reaction for someone that has put up with your bachelor behaviour now for the last six years. If she didn't care so much, she wouldn't have even bothered with a response, she would have just walked away.”
James picked his head up from his hands and stared at Remus. He was right.
“Hey you have a point there Moony!” Sirius called from his place, sprawled in the middle of his bed again.
“Of course I have a point. Would I voice it if I didn't?”
“So what does that mean I should do? Should I go and talk to her and apologise?”
“No!” Remus, Sirius and Peter all yelled in unison.
“Alright, alright, I get it. No apologising.”
“Apologising will just show her that you are in the palm of her hand. And it will also show her that you are a girl. Marauders aren't girls James. We are men! I think what you need to do is use this situation to your advantage. As I said a couple of weeks ago, you are a single man and on the market. I think if you use that to your advantage, she might finally start to see your endearing qualities, and perhaps even get a little jealous. The reaction we saw tonight might even be the very beginning of her jealousy!”
“As much as this is a pretty good plan, I still feel bad about playing her this way. I don't want to hurt her.”
Sirius moaned. “James buddy, please stop acting like such a nancy! It will not ruin her if you start showing a little interest in other girls. Just do what you’re doing now. Continue to hang out with Chloe and just enjoy yourself. Merlin knows I know how to enjoy myself.”
Remus snorted. “Sometimes Padfoot I wonder if you filter what you say in your brain before you speak because that sounded pretty bad.”
Sirius gave a bark of laughter. “Course I do Moony, but I just like to keep it real. Plus, I'll tone it down when I find the right girl. I just haven’t found her yet.”
James then stood up and started towards the door. “I should go back to my room. As much as I'd like to stay, I have a hot tempered witch to look over. The night is not a safe haven anymore! I leave now, to be her knight in shining armour!”
Peter, Remus and Sirius all groaned at his pathetic statement, before lobbing their pillows in James direction. James laughed and scurried out the door, flopped down the steps and headed towards the head rooms.
“So Aria, what’s on the agenda for today?”
“Usually I relax on the weekend Black, which means not having to put up with stupid gits when I'm trying to eat my breakfast.” Aria snapped whilst concentrating on stirring her brown sugar into her oatmeal.
“Aw don't be like that Aria! We have been through this before. I ask a perfectly reasonable question, and you respond nicely! It's textbook stuff love!”
Aria shot her head right to look at him. “What did I say about calling me love?”
“Something along the lines of 'don't'.”
“Correct. So, don't do it. Or you will regret it.”
Sirius smirked. He loved riling her up. “I thought that's what you said last time?”
Aria turned away again and scooped up a generous spoonful of oatmeal. “I'm feeling generous today.”
Sirius began to speak, but James cut him off. He sat down on the left of Aria and gave her a peck on the cheek. “How is my favourite neighbour going this morning?”
“Fine until Mr 'I think I'm Merlin's gift to women' showed up.”
Sirius gave a bark with laughter before giving her a quick kiss on the side of her neck and murmured huskily, “Are you ever going to give me a chance?” before jogging of out of the great hall, making all the girls swoop their heads and look longingly at his retreating figure. Aria subconsciously ran a hand up to where his hot breath lingered on her neck and looked to where he had just disappeared.
“Reliving the precious moment are we dear?”
Aria snapped out of her state and narrowed her eyes. “No James. I was just thinking about how I'm going to have to shower again.”
James laughed and gave her a pat on the shoulder. “Don't worry, I won’t tell him that you're secretly pining for him.
“I am not!”
“You're not what?” Ella enquired as she arrived at the table opposite from James and
“Aria just received a kiss on then neck from the notorious Sirius Black and now she is secretly pining for more!” James informed.
“HEY! That's not true!”
Ella laughed. “Oh Aria, I knew that it was only going to be a matter of time.”
“Matter of time until what?” Remus now enquired as he took a seat next to Ella.
“Oh just that Aria has finally realised that she has a thing for Sirius.”
“I don't, I don't, I don't! He is a filthy, playing scumbag who would never harvest any real feelings for a girl longer than a week! It's pointless and stupid!”
James laughed. “I think the lady doth protest too much.”
Aria having enough of the antics of her friends, shoved her bowl across the table, sprung up and marched out of the great hall, leaving her friends roaring with laughter in her wake. She was fuming. How could they suggest such a thing! She was in no way pinning for Sirius Black. He was a guy who could never stay interested in the one girl. She could never accept anything but monogamy in a relationship.
Aria was still thinking furiously over the whole situation when she realised she had wound up in a deserted corridor on the sixth floor. She walked over to an old tapestry that was hung on the wall and put her back to it, sliding down until she was on the ground. Taking in a deep breath, she wrapped her arms around her legs and put her chin in the crook where her knees met, looking to the dusty stone floor.
She begun to calm down and look at the situation rationally. James was right, she did bite back a lot, but it was just in her defence most of the time. She dismissed the idea of it and tried to put it out of her mind. Worrying about Sirius Black was useless. He wasn't ever going to waste any of his precious time on her.
“You know, I'm beginning to think that you're following me around.”
Aria jumped a mile at the voice and hit her head against the stone wall behind her. She frowned and rubbed the spot on the back of her head and looked around for the interruption that had caused her to hit her head.
She narrowed her eyes when her eyes and focused on the figure casually standing down the corridor, leaning against the wall. She dropped her face back into the crook and groaned.
“Black haven't you tormented me enough for one day?” She sighed, still keeping her head in her legs, hoping that if she couldn't see him, he might disappear.
“Oh but Aria, am I really tormenting you more than you are tormenting yourself?”
“And what do you mean by that exactly?”Aria asked, now looking up and his still relaxed stance against the wall, however he now seemed to be a bit closer.
“Nothing really, but I suppose it will all have to come out in the open one day.”
“I still don't know what you mean, but I will drop it for the time being. I know for a fact that I definitely can't change your mind once it is set.”
Sirius gave a little chuckle and straightened up, moving toward her in the process.
“Something we have in common I believe,”
He sat down next to her on the ground and bent his knees, resting his arms on the top of his legs. They sat in comfortable silence, listening to the far away rubble of people running stairs below and the faint murmur of portraits talking down the corridor.
“You know, I think this is the first conversation we have had where you haven't yelled at me, or strode off angrily. If I wasn't the Head Boy's best friend, I'd say this calls for a drink!”
Aria laughed and turned her head to look at him. She was startled momentarily by his proximity. His head was slightly towering over hers and he was looking straight into her eyes. Her heart jumped into overdrive, and she had no idea why. She had never had this reaction to him before, why should it suddenly start up now?
“Hey Aria, you've been my friend for a while now... well, my closest friend that is a girl and I was wondering if I could ask you something?”
Aria gulped. What on earth was he proposing? She could only nod to let him know to continue.
He looked away and rubbed the back of his neck. “Well you see there is this girl I really like and I'm just finding it hard to make a connection with her. It's seriously the first time I have ever felt this vulnerable and I need your advice. What should I do?”
Aria felt something in her chest deflate. She pushed it away before concentrating on what he just said and how to help. She was shocked. How could Sirius Black feel vulnerable in a relationship?! He was the king of how to act in relationships! He had all those girls to prove it as well. The next thing that had popped into her mind was who in the hell could it be? “Well, I think take things slow. That’s how things should always happen if you really care about the person. Does this person know who it is?”
He looked at her and shook his head before looking away again and letting out a breath of air. “No, thank Merlin. I have no idea how she would take it and quite frankly, I have only just sort of realised.”
They sat in silence again for a few moments. Aria's head was running a million miles an hour again. Who could this witch be? And was it even a darn witch? She could definitely not ask. He would just take that the wrong way and she didn't need to start showing interest in which girl he was hung up on. She decided to be blissfully ignorant for the time being.
“Well, I dunno. As much as it sounds cliché, just begin to show her the real you. Not in huge amounts, just small doses. Go out of your way to do something nice for her on occasion. Plan an evening with just her and you... even if it is just hanging out in the kitchens or something. I'm sure she would appreciate it.”
He looked at Aria for a second before smiling and nodding. He heaved himself off the ground. “Well as much as I hate to leave you, I have some ultimate planning to do.
Thanks Aria, you don't know how much it helps!”
Without another word, he bent down and gave her another kiss, this time on her cheek and sprinted off down the corridor.
Well... here is chapter 7!!! I hope you are all enjoying it so far. I think it is getting better as it goes along.. right?
And of course... what do you think of my chapter image? The handsome Sirius Black. It was made by Michy @ TDA. You're brilliant! :D