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The World is Ending by _EmBoDiMeNt_Of_A_nAtIoN_
Chapter 9 : As Fate Would Have It
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 6


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((Disclaimer: I own several finely typed (or so I like to think) chapters of a fanfiction titled "The World is Ending."  I do not own Harry Potter or any of it's characters, locations, etc.))
"I can't believe it's almost Halloween already!" Lily said, looking a bit flushed as Mira, Olivia, Lily, and I were eating breakfast the Monday before said holiday.  Life at Hogwarts had finally returned to normal (and when I say life, I also mean my hair, which had returned to its genetic black), or to some semblance of it, and I couldn’t help but look forward to the weekend.  The weather was unusually temperate and summer-like, a bonus to all of the students who were stuck inside once winter came.  "And the first Hogsmeade trip is on the same day!"  

"Has James asked you to go with him yet?" Olivia asked.  I smiled, already knowing the answer.

"Of course he has.  He asked me weeks ago."

"And you said?" I asked after a very pregnant pause.  Lily's red cheeks turned redder.

"I, erm, I told him I'd think about it."  My eyebrows rose, possibly above my hairline, in shock and in excitement.  

"And?" I pressed when she didn't continue.  "Have you thought about it?  You've only got a few days to give him your reply, you know.  You said it yourself: Hogsmeade trip is on Saturday."

"Actually," Lily said quite factually, "I told him what I thought last week."

"And that was?" I asked, getting a bit frustrated by the fact that I had to interrogate her for answers.

"I told him I'd go with him if you go with Black."

My mouth dropped open and my fork, laden with fried eggs, halted halfway there.  "You what?" I gasped.

"I told him I'd go with him if you go with Black," she repeated calmly, not seeming to notice that her friends were all now gaping at her in shock.

"You what?" I said again, not daring to move for fear that this was actually happening.  Lily glared at me. 

"You heard what I said."

My fork fell to my plate with a clatter.  "Yes, but I wish I was deaf right now, as a matter of fact.  I can't believe you said that!"

"Well, I figured that you always say I should give him a chance, but it's really a bit hypocritical of you not to give Sirius one."

"Yes, but Black isn't in love with me!  It's completely different!  I'm surprised James hasn't talked to me yet!  Now he'll be pressuring me to go to Hogsmeade and spend my Halloween with Black!"

"Also, if I have to spend the day with someone I hate, then you do too.  It's only fair."

I felt my nostrils flare.  "Only fair?" I hissed at her, leaning across the table.  "Only fair?  You've got to be bloody kidding me!  You hate James, but I don't hate Sirius!  I absolutely loathe him!  Only fair?  If we weren't surrounded by witnesses right now, Lils, I'd strangle you!"

Lily smiled wickedly and I shivered.  "Actually, Potter seemed to find the challenge quite amusing.  He actually thanked me for it."

I snorted and stood up from my chair.  "Oh, I see!  So it was a team effort!  Well, it won't work!"  I turned to march away and ran smack into James.  "Son of a b—"

"Hey Lily," James interrupted, grinning and waving at her.  She returned a small smile.  "Artemis, can I talk to you?"

I turned back to glare at Lily.  "You're dead, Evans," I hissed before turning to James and giving him a great smile.  "James, I have terrible news!  Lily's going to die in her sleep tonight, so I'm afraid that she won't be able to go to Hogsmeade with you this weekend."

James grimaced.  "Told her, didn't you, Lily?"

Lily smiled that same creepy smile.  "I did.  I did what I thought was best.  And now, I'll leave you to clean up the mess.  See you two in class," she said in a falsely bright tone, snatching her bag, Olivia and Mira, and a last piece of toast and quite close to sprinted out of the Great Hall.

James watched her go with a sappy expression on his face.  "She's so brilliant," he murmured as her red hair whipped out of sight.  I sighed and shook my head at him.  This seemed to remind him that he was there for a reason.  "Artemis, I know you aren't happy about this—"

"I won't do it, James!" I snapped, glaring coldly at him.  "As much as I would love to see you and Lily together, as much as I know that you two are the most brilliant couple in the history of brilliant couples, I will not go on a date with Black."

James grimaced.  He opened his mouth, presumably to beg me to reconsider, but he stopped instantly, blanching a bit.

"What about a date?" Sirius' voice asked from behind me, sounding very pissed off.

"Er," James said lamely.  When the silence had dragged on long enough that it was obvious that he wasn't going to answer, I replied for him.

"Lily's promised James she'll go to Hogsmeade with him if you and I go together."

Sirius gagged and I glared at him.

"There is no way in hell that I would go with... this," he said, gesturing at me wildly.  Something in my stomach twisted, a painful emotion that I'd never really felt before, but I didn't take the time to analyze it.  Instead, I put my hands on my hips and nodded in agreement.  None of us spoke for a matter of minutes, during which James stared at the ground and Sirius and I glowered at James.

"Oh," James finally said, and the sorrow in his voice made my heart twinge.  Beside me, Sirius had visibly flinched.  "That's okay.  I don't want you two to feel forced or anything.  I understand."  He sniffed and looked up at us with his best puppy dog look.

"Oh, sod it, James!" I groaned, quickly closing my eyes and covering my face with my hands, but it was too late.  The pitiful stare was now burned to my eyelids, and James' sadness was now impossible to ignore.

The same was obviously not true for Sirius, however.

"No," Sirius snarled, turning tail and storming from the Hall without eating his breakfast.

When he was gone, James whispered, "Please, Ar?  Please, please, please?"  I suspected he'd probably be on his knees soon, and that thought made me grimace.

"Fine," I whined, conceding defeat to James' pathetic expressions, keeping my face covered.  Because my face was covered, I didn't see James hug me tightly as he said, "Thank you, thank you, Artemis, you are so amazing!  Now I just have to convince Pads and it'll be set!"  He kissed my forehead quickly and skipped off blissfully, leaving me cursing myself and my feminine sentiments to hell.

Oh God! I thought.  Please, please, Black, don't say yes!

***~~~***

"Please, Pads?" James pleaded for the five thousand three hundred and fifty-seventh time in two days.  Sirius scowled at him.

"No," he growled.

James glared at him.  Obviously, his begging was doing no good.  It was time for a change of strategy.

"Ar agreed," he said in a shame-on-you voice.  

Sirius gave his friend and incredulous look.  "She did not."


James grinned.  "She did.  She agreed to it for Lily and me.  She's a good friend," he said with a raised eyebrow, apparently trying to give his mate a hint. 

"Well good for her," Sirius hissed at him as he turned his focus back to the Liquid Silver Solution they were supposed to be brewing for Slughorn.  As of yet, it was a gold color, whereas Remus and Peter, a few tables away and on the exact same step as the other two, had turned theirs a perfect silver hue.  Artemis and Apollo, the only Slytherin and Gryffindor to be able to work together, had also managed a perfect solution.  "What the hell are we doing wrong?"

"Maybe it's that you're a bloody—" James started heatedly.

"James?" Both boys whirled around to stare at Artemis, who had left her own table where her brother was bottling their finished brew.  She was smiling brightly, but they had a suspicion that it was completely false.  James stared at her with the expression of a deer in the headlights, and Sirius snarled at her like a manticore in the headlights.

"Ye-yes?" James stuttered.  Sirius rolled his eyes.

"Way to be a man, Prongs," he muttered under his breath, again turning back to their potion.  James elbowed him and grinned at Artemis nervously.

"Yes, Ar?" he said, a bit more confidently.  Artemis smiled wider.

"Could I have a minute alone with Black?"

Sirius twisted around again.  "No," he barked.  They ignored him.

"Oh, sure," James said, his grin true now that he knew he was in no danger.  "I'll just go say hi to Lily."  He sauntered off towards Lily and Olivia, another perfectionist pair, glancing over his shoulder at Sirius and Artemis nervously.  When he was out of earshot, Artemis turned her back to him and glared at Sirius.

"You're going to Hogsmeade with me," she whispered, flexing her fingers viciously in front of her where James couldn't see.  "I don't want you to, but you're going to, because I've been waiting since third year for James and Lily to get together and you are not going to ruin it."

Sirius snorted.  "That's a long time to wait for something that doesn't even affect you."

"I'm serious, Black," she spat, then paused and grimaced as if she'd realized she might as well had said his first name.  She shook her head and narrowed her eyes at him dangerously.  "You've got two days, Black, and if you haven't agreed to it by then, I swear to Merlin you'll wake up with no appendages.  And I mean no appendages, if you catch my drift."

Sirius winced, then smirked at her haughtily.  "And what exactly would a sweet little virgin like yourself want those for, hm?"

"Why, to stick them in a blender and force-feed them to you, of course," she said, smiling sweetly and striding away as Sirius shivered.  

James returned within seconds, giving Sirius a quick look to establish that he was in fact still among the living, then grimaced at Sirius' pale color.

"You alright, mate?" he asked quietly, tossing beetles' eyes into their cauldron and stirring it quickly clockwise.  "You look like you've been force-fed something awful..."

Sirius paled further, winced and shook his head at James.  "No, I'm fine," he whispered in badly concealed horror.  

They sat in silence for a few seconds before Sirius pointed at their cauldron.  "Why the hell is it gold?" he groaned.  "Why?"

"Maybe it's because you won't just help out your best friend, Pads.  Maybe it's because you won't just go out with her."

Sirius gaped at him.  "What are you talking about, Prongs?" he said irritably.  "Why the hell would our potion care?"

"I dunno, but obviously it does!  Maybe, if you agree to go with us, it'll be perfectly fine!  Come on, Padfoot, please?  Just do this one thing for me, and I swear I'll never ask you for anything ever again!"  James knitted his fingers together in a prayer-like fashion and looked at Sirius with a pathetic expression.

"Yeah right," Sirius growled, not looking at him.

"Sirius!"  Sirius sighed at looked at James, and then he sighed and glared at James.

"Fine," he snarled, "but I am not holding her hand, I am not buying her anything, and I am not going to be nice to her."

James beamed at him brightly.  "Thank you, Sirius!  You're the best friend a man could ever ask for!"  He patted his friend on the back and turned to look at the potion.  He gasped.

The potion had turned bright silver, the most perfect potion in the class.

***~~~***

"Lily-kins!" James sang as he entered the common room, looking absolutely thrilled.  I sighed, a foreboding chill settling in my gut.  I hoped he wasn't about to ruin his best chance yet of going on a date with Lily.  If he did, I'd have to beat him later.

Lily, meanwhile, was cringing against an annoyed-looking Olivia, looking terrified at the very sound of James' voice.  She seemed as if she wanted to hide but had nowhere to go.

When James had located our cozy corner of the common room, he beamed at all four of us girls.  

"Oh, no!" I groaned, covering my face with my hands.  Lily gave me a confounded look, but I knew there was only one way that James could be quite this happy.

"What are you—" Lily started.

"OI, SIRIUS!" James yelled, gesturing violently at the portrait hole.  "COME ON!"

I peeked through my fingers at Sirius as he joined us, appearing extremely peeved with his gray eyes avoiding my blue ones.  James smacked his back playfully. 

"Go on, Sirius!" he shouted jovially.  Sirius plugged his ears.

"James, you don't need to shout!  I'm right next to you!" he half-yelled back.

"That's enough!  No more shouting!" Lily screamed at them both.  They winced and James nodded quickly.

"Go on," he insisted, jerking his head in my direction.

"Why?" Sirius whined.  "She already knows what I'm gonna say.  Look, she's even crying!"  He motioned towards my head, where my hands still hid my face.

"I am not," I retorted waspishly, giving him a dark look through my fingers.

"Could' a fooled me," he said with a grim smile.

James rolled his eyes.  "Sirius!  If you're going to do it, you gotta do it proper!" he complained loudly.  Sirius snorted in response.

"I can't believe you're making me do this," he muttered darkly, shooting his best mate a glare.  Then he turned his glare on me.  "Hey, Gaunt, do you want to go to Hogsmeade with me?" he asked with an obvious disinterest.  

I drew a giant breath and shot Lily a scathing look.  "I suppose so," I replied in a resigned sort of way.

Gasps sounded as people nearby realized what had just happened.

"Did Sirius just—"

"And she said—"

"No way!"

Mira and Olivia gaped at us in shock as the deal was sealed, though everyone probably noticed that we both seemed very annoyed with the proceedings.  Or perhaps they were all too in shock to notice.  Lily, meanwhile, was slumped back in her seat with a frustrated grimace.  James looked at her expectantly.

"Lily?" he asked tentatively.

She flushed beet red.  "N-no!" Lily cried.  We all stared at her for a second; but then I was flooded with a horrible fury.  I grabbed her forearm as she tried to escape.

"Lily Evans!" I bellowed, my grip becoming vice-like as she struggled against me.  "I just agreed to go with Black!  Now you're going to go with James whether you like it or not, or I swear—" I paused, realizing all of a sudden that everyone was staring at us with wide eyes, attention drawn by my shouting.  "Er..." I said stupidly, my brains suddenly having been switched off.

James looked terribly red, but I couldn't figure out if it was from embarrassment or from anger.

"Let go of Lily, Ar," he said quietly and calmly.  I promptly relinquished Lily's arm, shot them all a very dirty look, and stormed off up the stairs to our dorm, followed by Mira.  Seconds after we were inside, Melanie stomped in.  

"Gaunt!" she screamed, looking immensely furious, possibly to the point of murder.  "What the hell do you think you're playing at?"

It was all too easy to figure out what she was on about.

"Oh, sod off, Jordan!" I snapped venomously.  "You know I don't even like him!  I'm not going to bother explaining myself to the likes of you!"

Melanie hissed like an angry cat and took a step towards me, but she seemed to rethink attacking me because she turned on her heel and stomped back out.  I barely had time to wonder what she could be plotting to get revenge when Lily entered the room.  She looked at me guiltily and opened her mouth to speak.

"No!" I snapped.  "I don't want to hear another word out of your mendacious mouth!  You promised James you'd go with him if I went with Sirius!"  Lily cringed. 

"I didn't think you'd actually agree..."

"That doesn't make a bloody difference!  The fact remains that you told James you wouldn't go unless I went, I've agreed to ceaseless self-torture for you, and now you're trying to back out!"

"So that's what that was about?" Mira gasped, staring at me with eyes as large as saucers.  I rolled mine at her.

"No," I replied sarcastically.  "I really want to go to Hogsmeade with Black!"

Mira blushed and nodded quickly to avoid further scathing remarks.  "But, Lily, I've never known you to break your promises..."

"Well, I'm sorry I'm not perfect!" Lily snapped, marching to her four-poster and wrenching her bed curtains shut.

***~~~***

The next morning, Lily and I were still in foul moods.  As soon as I was awake, I quickly left the dorm, not wanting to start something with Lily so early in the morning.  At breakfast, I forced Mira to sit with me next to James and the other guys, much to the displeasure of Melanie, who was apparently still working hard at her goal of wooing Sirius.  All of the guys gaped at me blankly.

Well, all of the guys excluding James.  James didn't seem to even notice that I was there.  He sighed heavily every other minute, and he didn't eat any of the food his friends pushed at him.  

I ate my porridge silently after giving the guys at threatening glare.  James suddenly elbowed me in the ribcage, leaving me choking on my food.  When I had regained my ability to breathe and had sucked in a great breath, I turned to James.

"Yes, James?" I sighed breathlessly, trying to calm the aggravated part of me in order to help him.

"Do you think I should just give up?" he asked, giving me his full attention and a profound look.  I felt Sirius, Remus, and Peter turn their attention to me as well, and when I glanced at them, they had expressions similar to James'.

And I really wasn't sure how I should answer.  As a friend to both James and Lily (even if I was furious with her), I wasn't sure if I should tell him that it was hopeless to continue to court Lily when she obviously had no intention of giving him a chance, or to give him some hope and confidence by encouraging him to continue his pursuit.  It was obvious what James wanted me to say: desperation painted his face, and his hands were clenched into fists on the table.  I chanced a second fleeting look at the other guys and noticed that Sirius was gazing at me with intensity, his lips in a tight line and his eyes narrowed dangerously.  He looked a bit like McGonagall when someone accidentally transfigured his or her partner into a turtle with human legs.  He seemed to be trying to communicate telepathically with me, but the signal was clearly being blocked because I had no idea what he was trying to tell me.  

"Er..." I started hesitantly, still debating.  When I continued to be completely gobsmacked, I sighed dejectedly.  "I don't think you should," I said firmly, my eyes still locked with Sirius.  Sirius gave me a barely perceptible nod, which I took to mean that I'd guessed right, though I was no longer concerned with what he thought.  "Lily's a hard head.  She's so stubborn and independent, but I think she'll come around."  I smiled, remembering Lily's blush whenever I brought up James.  "She likes you, she just won't admit it."

Mira kicked me under the table and hissed so that James couldn't hear, "What the hell are you talking about?  Lily doesn't like James, remember!"

I smiled at her mysteriously.  "She thinks she doesn't like him.  She just doesn't understand it yet."

Mira obviously didn't understand me.  She gave me a baffled look, but I just grinned at her and waved her comments off.  When I looked back at the guys, Sirius was watching me carefully.  James, moreover, seemed to have regained some of his energy, though he perhaps was lacking the typical James Potter cheer; he was wolfing down some breakfast, nearly swallowing his toast whole, but his gaze had slipped over to Lily and Olivia.  When he was finished, he stood up.

"You guys ready?" he asked, looking round at his mates expectantly.  Remus and Peter nodded and stood, but Sirius remained seated.  "Sirius?  You coming?"

Sirius shook his head.  "I'll catch up."  He didn't elaborate, but he was still gazing at me steadily, giving the impression that he probably wanted to talk to me about something.  I wondered vaguely if I could escaped, but I didn't have time because James said, "'kay, don't be late," and strutted off down the aisle, followed by Remus and Peter, both of whom looked over their shoulders at us curiously.  

Then Sirius turned to Melanie.  "Go away," he commanded bluntly.  I snorted, but neither took notice.  Melanie was too busy being horrendously offended.  

"No!" she pouted, glaring at him like she was actually intimidating, which she wasn’t.  

"Fine!" he snapped, giving me a meaningful glare as he stood up abruptly and left the Hall, while Mira, Melanie, and I stared after him.  In my head, I cursed them all for involving me in all these crazy schemes, and I tried to figure out how the hell he expected to get away with ditching me with Melanie and Mira.  Out of my head, however, I said, "I, er, need to use the toilet, so, er, I'll catch up with you."

Mira opened her mouth to argue, but I had already jumped up and basically sprinted from the Hall, literally bumping into Sirius right outside the doors.  He rolled his eyes at me and grabbed my arm, pulling me up the stairs to the first floor and down a mostly deserted corridor to a broom cupboard.  He yanked the door open, shoved me inside, and slammed the door shut behind him.  I tripped over a bucket as the light disappeared, gracefully falling on my ass.

"Lumos..." Sirius lit the end of his wand and held it up above his head.  "What the hell are you doing?" he chuckled, raising his eyebrows.  

"Oh, sod off," I said stubbornly, jumping up before Sirius had the chance to see up my skirt.  "It's not my fault you're shoving me into bloody broom closets."

His face turned pink in the dim light.  "Right," he replied awkwardly.  "Erm, listen, I need to ask you for a favor."  I waited for him to go on, but he was now a bright red and had an immensely disgusted expression on his face.  

"Are you going to spit it out any time soon?  Class starts in about ten minutes, and it's in the North Tower.  We really don't have time to sit here and gape at each other like morons."

His face darkened still further.  "I want you to make Evans go with James."  I blinked.  Whatever I had expected, it wasn't that.  I stared at him and he rolled his eyes.  "Now who's gaping like a moron?"  

I scowled and kicked the bucket I'd tripped over.  "I'm going to.  Make Lily go out with James.  Even if I have to threaten to cut off all her limbs like I did you.  After all, if threats work on an arse like you, I suppose they'd probably work on Lily too."

Sirius winced.  "You should probably cut back on all the threats, Gaunt.  You won't have any friends by the end of the year."

"Who needs friends?" I muttered quietly.  

"Everyone," Sirius answer, ignoring the fact I'd been talking to myself.  "Since you're terribly concerned about being late to class, you may want to run.  You've only got five minutes to get all the way to Divination," he pointed out gleefully.  I stared at him suspiciously.

"What about you?"   

"Oh, does the spoiled little girl need an escort to class?"

I didn't dignify the accusation with a reply, and we stared at each other for a minute.

"Ah," Sirius said finally.  "I'll take that as a yes, then.  I'm not running though."  I shrugged and pushed past him to the door, opening it and starting down the hall.  I glanced at my watch and realized that we had barely enough time to make it to class—if we ran.  I glanced back at Sirius, who was now following a few steps behind.  Pursing my lips together, I stopped at the corner of the corridor and Sirius ran into me.  "What the—"

"I'll race you."  

He stared at me with a cautious expression.  "What?"

"I'll race you." 

"Okay..." he agreed, still staring at me like I was crazy.  

 "Great," I said in a bright tone.  "Ready?  Set... GO!" I yelled, taking off sprinting.  Sirius was right behind me.

***~~~***

Lily glanced up at me as I joined her at our table in the Gryffindor common room.  The look was fleeting; no sooner had she met my eyes than she turned right back down at the essay Professor Aurelia, the old bat who tried to teach Divination, had assigned us that morning.  (Mine and Sirius' had to be an extra foot because we had been nearly three minutes late.  It turns out that it's impossible to run across the entire castle in one long sprint, and it's definitely impossible to do it in less than five minutes.)  Lily and I hadn't spoken at all today, but now that I'd recovered from the psychotic fury she had caused, I was still determined to force her on that date with James.

Lily, however, seemed intent on ignoring me.  I repeated her name over ten times before she scowled up at me.  

"What?" she asked acidly.

"Don't talk to me like that!" I snapped.  Her look darkened and I took a deep breath through my nose to alleviate the massive anger that had risen.  When I had regained my control over myself, I said calmly, "Si—" I paused and scowled.  Sirius had insisted that using his first name would be more persuasive in the feat that I was attempting, but the name felt like something slimy and disgusting in my mouth; it felt a bit like chewing gillyweed.  I coughed and Lily continued to stare at me, though now it was more amusement.  "Si—er—Sir—erm—oh, for fuck's sake!"  I exclaimed, collapsing into the chair opposite the redhead and massaging my temples.

"Black?" Lily said, trying to be helpful.

I took a steadying breath.  "Sirius," I spat finally, then paused to grimace and gag, "and I... talked a bit," I continued slowly and wincing a bit more.  "We've decided that you're going to Hogsmeade with James.  Sir—ugh... Sirius said that I shouldn't threaten you, so I won't, but that really only leaves me one option."  I swallowed painfully.  "Lily, I'm giving up my pride, my bloody dignity, and begging you.  Just go with him, just give him a chance?"

Lily hadn't said a word, and now she just gazed at me blankly. 

"Do I need to get on my knees, Lils?" I asked, giving her the most pathetic look I could manage, an expression that I'd been practicing since Divination, when we were supposed to have been Seeing in the crystal balls (we were reviewing).  Instead, I'd used mine, Sirius, and James' as a mirror to practice in.  Oddly enough, Aurelia seemed to think that I was experiencing some sort of trance or something and congratulated me on Seeing the Future.  I'd just smiled and nodded, but Sirius and James had been cracking up. 

In any case, Lily jumped as if she hadn't even noticed that I was still there.  "Er, no, no!" she yelped hastily, shaking her head and throwing up her hands.  "I was just surprise is all.  Not only are you giving up your pride for Potter, but you and Black are playing Matchmaker!  Not to mention, I've never actually heard you call Black by his first name.  It's all just... just a bit much, I suppose."  She leaned back in her chair, looking thoughtfully up at the ceiling.  She didn't continue.

I sighed.  "Well?  Will you give James a chance?"

Lily sniffed haughtily and looked back at me.  "Yes, I suppose I should.  It's not as though I have much choice."

"Great!" I said, jumping up.

"But," Lily went on in a hostile tone, "you and Black still have to go together."

I scowled but saluted her sarcastically and said, "Of course!  A deal's a deal, I reckon.  I'll go with Si—er—us—erm, well, you know who, and you'll go with James!  It's a date!"  I grinned.  "Would you like to tell him, Lils?  I think you should, since you're going with him.  I'll come with though, if you like."  Lily gave me a tortured expression.

"I think you should tell him, since you're obviously very keen on it."

"Oh, no!  Lils, you've got to tell him!  After all, you're the one he likes.  But, as I said, I'll come with you."

"But, I, er, I don't know where he is..." she said, coming up with any possible excuse she could think of.  

"Well, lucky for you, I do.  He's not busy," I interrupted before Lily could start, "I'm sure his mates won't mind much, and you look just fine!  Now, come on!" I smiled, grabbing her by the elbow and leading her towards the boys' staircase.

"Wha-what?  No, Ar, I can't go up there, that's the boys' dormitories!  I'm Head Girl, I—"

"Oh, hush up, Lily, no one really cares!" I said, waving her complaints off as we entered the spiraling staircase and started up them for the boys' seventh.  "Besides, boys like it when they have women in their rooms!  It makes them feel special, appreciated like."

Lily stared at me as if she knew that I was making things up, which I was, admittedly.  After all, I was a woman, not a boy, and there was no way for me to tell what boys liked.  I generally stuck to the idea that men were utterly confounding and kept well away from secrets that had to do with the male mind.

Lily continued to gripe as we pushed open the door to the guys' dormitory and all six of the guys who slept there stared at us as Lily finally went silent.  When no one said anything and the awkward silence went on, I finally decided that I’d better say something.  What I chose, however, was hardly any better than the silence, though it was much more amusing.

“Look, James, I’ve brought you a present!” I yelled, waving Lily’s arm in front of me.  Sirius and Wes snorted simultaneously as Lily elbowed me painfully in the gut and Remus, Jon, and Peter chuckled.  James just continued to stare at Lily.  I rolled my eyes and slapped Lily’s arm lightly, jerking my head at the dumbstruck fool.  Lily seemed to take the hint.  She cleared her throat and swallowed nervously.

“Ja—“ she hesitated, a bit like I had stumbled over Sirius’ name.  “James,” she coughed, then continued as if she’d never done, “I’d like to apologize for my behavior yesterday, and, er...” she gave me an anxious glance.  “Erm, I’d be... I’d... I’ll go to Hogsmeade with you,” she muttered.  

 “Ah, see!” I said, patting her arm comfortingly.  “That wasn’t that bad was it, Lils?”  Lily nodded slowly, glaring at me.  James, meanwhile, was still staring, though his mouth and eyes were a bit wider.  Sirius kicked his shin, and James instantly closed his mouth, biting his lip and glancing between Lily and I.  

 “Okay,” he finally said slowly, as though this was a dream that he was loath to wake from.  Sirius kicked him again.  “Great,” he yelped, wincing and glaring at his best mate.  

“Great,” Lily repeated.  The awkward moment seemed to be stretching, so she mumbled, “See you at dinner,” spun on the spot, and marched out the door, presumably back to her essay.  I watched her go with satisfaction.  I couldn’t help but feel that four years’ hard work was finally coming to fruition. 

A sharp tug on the back of my hair returned my focus to the guys.  I swatted Sirius’ hand away and glared at him.  

“What?” I asked them, for all six of them were gaping at me with various expressions.  I rolled my eyes, copied Lily’s “See you at dinner,” and, with a small wave, tramped back down the boys’ staircase to start my own essay.

((A/N: VVV Make sure you review!!))


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