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The World is Ending by _EmBoDiMeNt_Of_A_nAtIoN_
Chapter 15 : Get Some Guts
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 3


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((A/N: Aha!! Success!  Another chapter dutifully written and published!  Don’t forget to REVIEW!! I thrive on reviews!))

((Disclaimer: Blah blah blah blah Harry Potter. Blah blah blah...))

“Lily?” I muttered at breakfast the next morning.  It was early enough that she and I were quite a ways from the nearest bunch of students and no Marauders or backstabbing, traitorous women were nearby.  Lily was already sitting down, calmly eating herself a bowl of cereal and a piece of toast.  Well, had been calmly eating until I said her name.  At that point, she turned the Look on me, though I braved it and sat down across from her.  “Lily, I’m sorry.  I shouldn’t have said any of that last night; I’m a bloody moron; and I give you permission to drag my name through the dirt, beat me up, anything you so desire as long as you forgive me!” 

To my relief, the Look started to fade, though a faint resentment remained.  “I forgive you, Ar,” she said slowly.  “I shouldn’t have been so pushy either, so I’m sorry.  But... you should know that I have no intention of spreading your secrets around, especially not to Melanie Jordan.  If I ask you to tell me a secret, I want to know because you’re my friend and I care about you, not because I want to spread rumors about you or give you a bad name.”  She smiled now, and I smiled back.

“Good.  I really am sorry.  I know you wouldn’t... I was just a little overwhelmed, I suppose.”

“It’s all—Uh oh...”

I turned to follow her gaze and saw Sirius and James coming down the Hall towards us, James looking slightly nervous and Sirius looking extremely smug.  I sighed.  Apologizing was so much harder than it was made out to be. 

“Morning,” James said cautiously, eyeing me cautiously as he took the seat on Lily’s left.  I got the feeling that Lily had told him what had happened in our dorm last night.  Sirius, meanwhile, took a seat on my side of the table on my right, though he left an extra seat between us.  I almost laughed at that.  Almost.  Would have, perhaps, had I not been wondering how he’d react. 

I spun a quarter turn to my right, straddling the bench so that I could face Sirius properly.  He edged slightly farther down the bench, which happened to be too much for me.  I burst out laughing and his smug look vanished in a glare.  James and Lily seemed tense on the other side of the table, probably ready to stop me if I attacked him again.  I managed to control my laughter, but I couldn’t make the amused smile go away.

“Si-Sirius,” I stuttered, still smiling inanely, “I, er, I’m sorry.  You know, for trying to kill you yesterday.”

Obviously not what any of them were expecting.  All three of them looked at me like I’d just sprouted slimy tentacles and fuzzy antennae.  I couldn’t help it; I was lost in a fit of hysterical laughter again, earning a variety of looks from staff and students ranging from aggravation to curiosity to fear to amusement.  A minute later, we were joined by Remus and Peter, who gave me concerned looks as I started gasping for breath.

“You’re being sarcastic, aren’t you?” Sirius finally asked, giving me a suspicious look.  Which sent me spiraling into more uproarious giggles.  “I thought so,” he said with a disgusted look, pouring himself some pumpkin juice.

“No!” I gasped, still giggling so hard that I was now crying.  “I was—serious!  I—really—am sorry!” I cried, panting and weeping all at once.  “The look—on your—faces!  It’s so—funny!”  I burst into tears and bent double over the empty seat between Sirius and I, still trying vainly to stop the raucous laughter.  Sirius scooted farther down the bench, looking at me like I was insane or diseased.

“Right...” he said skeptically.  “That’s convincing.”

“Fuck! —I can’t—breathe!”  The five of them look alarmed.  Then Lily, James, Remus, and Peter turned to look at Sirius.

“What?” he snapped, taking a bite of his breakfast.  “What the bloody hell do you want me to do about it?”

“You’re the only one on that side of the table,” James pointed out.

By this point, I was getting dizzy from lack of oxygen, but I couldn’t stop laughing, especially now that Peter was still gaping at me like an idiot. 

“Well, yeah, but—“

“Help her!” Lily snapped, giving Sirius the Look.

“What the hell do you want me to do?  It’s not like she’s choking, I can’t just do the Heimlich or something!”

“She’s turning purple, Sirius...” Remus said calmly.

Sirius gave me a nervous glance.  “Merlin, you’re doing this on purpose aren’t you, Gaunt?” he said, with a glare at his friends before grabbing a jug of water and pouring it over my head.  I gasped at the chill, but after the initial shock I just laughed harder.  “What the hell’s wrong with you?” he snapped.  Lily and James were both on their feet, but before they could do anything, Sirius’ lips were covering mine and he was pushing air into my lungs.  He almost instantly pulled back, gagging and spitting into a napkin.  I gasped and grabbed for the nearest pitcher of liquid, coming upon one of orange juice and drinking half of it.  After that I sat in my seat gasping and panting, trying to catch my breath.  And then gagging as I took in the fact that Sirius had both touched me and saved me at the same time.  Yuck.

That was when I realized that everyone in the Great Hall was gaping at us.  The corners of my mouth twitched, and Sirius snapped, “Don’t even think about it!” as he smacked the back of my head.  “I’m never doing that again, so you better not ever start choking or having an asthma attack or anything because next time I won’t save you,” he snarled.  “That was disgusting, next time you can do it, Prongs.” 

I took at deep breath and squeezed my eyes shut, putting my forehead against the table and massaging the back of my skull.  “Thank you, Sirius...” I muttered.  I’m not really one for gratitude either, I realized.  I was surprised when I felt him move so that the gap between us was closed.

“Whatever,” he replied coldly.  “Moony, Wormtail, one of you two get over here in case it happens again!”  One of the two obliged, and sitting up again I saw that it was Pete.  “Merlin’s pants, that was disgusting...” Sirius moaned, pushing away his breakfast and scowling at me.  “I can’t even eat now!”  I glared at him.

“Stop being over dramatic,” I growled. 

“Oh, sorry, I didn’t realize you enjoyed it,” he said, changing direction suddenly as his expression became malicious and his gray eyes became dark.  “Maybe you were just pretending, huh?  Just so you couldn’t know what it’s like to have someone touch you like they care.”

“And maybe I’ll take that apology back now, you seem like maybe you want to die anyways,” I snarled viciously

“Well, it wasn’t a real apology anyways, it’s not like you meant it.”

I stared at him with my mouth half open.  “I almost died for that apology!” I sniffed.  “And I did to mean it, at least I did then; I don’t know about now, though.”  He rolled his eyes and snorted.  My jaw stiffened and I threw up my hands.  “You know what, fine!  I try to be nice, and what do I get?  Nothing but doubt and suspicion and disrespect!  Well, fine then!  I just won’t even try, okay?”  And I stood up and stormed out of the Hall, aware that Sirius look scandalized, that everyone was staring at me, and that I’d just made an effort that had been completely wasted.

***~~~***

“Do you think she’s finally lost it?”

“What the bloody hell was that all about?”

“Can you believe that just happened?”

As soon as Artemis’ form disappeared from the Great Hall, the whispers started.  Sirius, however, sat shell-shocked, gaping at the place Artemis had occupied until seconds ago.  He was sentient to the fact that James, Lily, Remus, and Pete were all staring at him, but he couldn’t quite understand it.  It was like everything was coming to him through a thick veil. 

Artemis Gaunt?  Trying to be nice to Sirius?  That was a near impossibility, but did that mean it was impossible?  She was either a very good actress or she’d sincerely been attempting kindness.  Sirius could never really tell with Artemis.  She was like those things that muggles did when they were bored: she was that one jigsaw puzzle in the very back of the closet that Sirius either never knew was there or just hadn’t liked the picture on the box.  It was actually more the latter, but really, it didn’t matter much.  The fact was that Artemis was confusing, and she was possibly bipolar: she’d go from happy, or at least satisfied, to I’m-gonna-kill-you furious. 

Sirius was again struck by how much he liked her mood swings.  She was so... unpredictable, and he had to admit that he found that rather exciting.  Which was of course why he’d spent all these years teasing her and pulling pranks on her.  He never knew how she’d react.  If he did, he might have got tired of it. 

His thoughts were cut into as a sharp pain erupted in his shin.  He yelped and glared at James, who glared solidly right back at Sirius.  Lily was still half standing up, and she was giving Sirius an unusually focused version of the Look. 

“Yes?” Sirius asked cautiously.  James kicked him again in response. 

“You just had to go and piss her off, didn’t you?” James growled, leaning forward over the table.  “You couldn’t just let her apologize!” 

“She was—or...” Sirius’ stomach lurched uncomfortably.  “She wasn’t pretending, was she?” he whispered fearfully.  His greatest fear was realized as James shook his head.  Sirius was careful, however, not to let this show.  If he revealed the fact that he was suddenly feeling immensely guilty and slightly nauseous, James and Remus might decide again that Sirius was in love with Artemis, whether Sirius denied it or not. 

Besides, Sirius reasoned with himself mentally, it wasn’t as if she could loathe him that much more just because he’d made himself believe she was lying.  In fact, she would have to admit that his had been a very logical conclusion.

Keep telling yourself that, mate, said a small bit of conscience in the back of his head.  So he did.

***~~~***

I laughed.  And laughed some more.  He probably thought I was on drugs or drunk or something, the way I kept having these laughing attacks, but he just seemed so damned funny today. 

“Oh, sod off!  It isn’t that bloody funny,” he snapped. 

“I’m sorry, you’re right, it’s not!  It’s just, I can’t believe you’re apologizing to me!”

“I didn’t laugh when you apologized to me,” Sirius growled.  “Bloody hypocrite.”

“All right, all right,” I conceded, taking control of my amusement and nodding at him as we arrived at the greenhouses.  “I forgive you for not forgiving me because you didn’t realize that I was really asking for your forgiveness, okay?” 

Sirius scowled and grunted affirmation.  “Whatever,” he muttered as he held the door open for me.  “Just stop laughing so much; it’s really starting to get on my last nerve.”

“Aw, poor Black, on your last nerve, are you?  Well, what happened to the others?”

“Actually, you got on those, too, and you were so fat they just collapsed under your weight.”

I stopped in the doorway and he ran into me.  “I’m not fat!  In fact, Lily thinks that I’m malnourished.”  I glared at him.  “You probably weigh about twice my weight, so—“

“You’re right,” he interrupted nudging me forward so that our classmates, most of whom were watching us curiously, especially Lily and the Marauders, could follow us in.  “You are malnourished.  I could probably fit my entire hand around your wrist.” And as if to prove it, he snatched my arm; smirking smugly, he showed me his hand, wrapped entirely around my rather thin wrist and looking very frail next to his.  I felt my face turning red as surely as I felt my heart speed up.  Such an ass, I though, such a bloody ass.  But he wasn’t going to let me ponder it, because now he was saying that he probably was about average, lean and muscular the way he was, but that I was sadly underweight, a thing that just was not very attractive.  Lily interrupted him, saying that if he was average, she was a pig in a wig, to which James exclaimed that she was most definitely not a pig, and her hair was gorgeous, and Sirius whined that he was indeed average weight.  Peter piped in, saying that he thought both Lily and I were gorgeous, no matter our weight, and Remus quoted that age old saying, “No comment.” 

I somehow found myself seated around a nearly harmless Skittlebud, a large, vined plant with the tiniest white, yellow, and orange flower buds, with the four guys and Lily, receiving unusually cold stares from the other girls in the class.  They probably thought something was going on, but they were sorely mistaken, as Lily and Sirius began debating the definition of the word “average.”  To Lily, average meant normal, and normal meant like everybody else.  Sirius was not like everybody else (her arguments were that he was unusually attractive and that he was absurdly arrogant); therefore, according to her, Sirius was not average and could not define himself as such.  Sirius, however, argued that he was a perfectly average man, with an average male ego and an average male attitude, though he didn’t deny that he was unusually attractive.  He was such a bigheaded asshole.  I told him so and he scowled at me for the rest of class.  

“Morons,” I muttered under my breath.  Lily smiled. 

***~~~***

“You didn’t come see me.  Weren’t you worried at all?”  I asked, glancing over at my twin.  We were walking down the hall towards the library for a rather spontaneous evening of mind control research, and after several minutes of unusually tense silence, I decided that something was wrong.  Of course, my comment was merely an icebreaker.  We both knew that he would have known if something bad happened to me (other than breaking my nose).

“Course I was, I knew you’d be fine though,” he replied, looking at a suit of armor as we passed it.  Was he avoiding looking at me? 

“Er, something wrong, Olly?” I asked hesitantly, understanding that he wouldn’t elaborate on his attitude unless he was queried.

“Don’t call me that!” he snapped, glancing over his shoulder as though he were afraid someone would hear.  I scowled at him.

“Okay, definitely consider that a yes.  Are you gonna tell me or am I gonna have to dig it out of you?”

“Nothing’s wrong!” 

And then it hit me.  “Is it because you lost?” 

Apollo’s cheeks darkened slightly as he muttered, “No.”  He was lying, but he knew I could tell.

“Oh, don’t lie, Olly, you’re mad!” 

“Okay, fine,” he snapped, turning to look at me with an aggravated look.  “I’m mad!”

“Well,” I started hesitantly, not wanting to make things worse.  Unfortunately, that was not possible.  “You only lost by ten, surely you guys still have a chance at the cup...”

“What would you know?  You’re little Miss Perfect!” he yelled, and suddenly his emerald and silver seemed to contrast horribly with my scarlet and gold.  “Perfect grades, perfect chaser, perfect looks!  With all your little Mudblood friends!  It’s just a game to you, isn’t it, all of it?  Well it isn’t!  It’s not just a game!  One of these days, life is going to hit you full in the face, and you’ll realize that all this” he gestured around him wildly, “all this really matters!  And when it all comes down to it, nothing matters!  It’s not even important, but it is and it shouldn’t be!  Because nothing, and I mean nothing can change your destiny!  There’s nothing you can do to stop it, except work harder, and even then—“

“Apollo, what the bloody hell are you talking about?” I asked.  It suddenly seemed that this couldn’t possibly be on account of Quidditch; but then, what could be bothering him so much that he would start raving about destiny and existentialism?  “You lost me at this,” I continued, waving my arms around like he had.  “What does that have to do with losing or winning a Quidditch match?”

He blanched considerably and snapped, “Nothing!  Forget it, I’m too tired to deal with you right now!  I’m going to bed!”  And he stomped off back the way we had came, pushing straight through a group of second years that weren’t fast enough to jump out of the way.  I stared after him, confused and quite insulted.  Too tired to deal with me?  Well now, that just wasn’t very nice.

“What the bloody hell was that all about?” I asked myself, folding my arms in a pouty fashion and glaring after my twin. 

“What the bloody hell was what all about?” 

I spun around and scowled at James and Remus, both of whom were grinning at me.  “You guys!  You scared me!  Don’t just sneak up on me like that!”

James laughed.  “In other words, don’t sneak up on you when you’re talking to yourself.”

“It’s like you speak girl, Prongs,” Remus said thoughtfully.

“Er, thanks?”

“Idiots,” I muttered.

“So?” James asked, ignoring my less-than-flattering comment.  “What was what about?”

“What?  Oh, yeah, my brother’s just in a bad mood today.  I think he’s just upset that Slytherin lost the match.”

James smirked proudly.  Remus smiled happily.  A snort came from somewhere nearby, something I might have thought strange had I thought about it.

“Slytherins,” James said disapprovingly, shaking his head emphatically.  “Bunch of cowardly crybabies and sore losers.”

“Hey now,” I chastised, “that’s my family you’re talking about.”

“Aha!” Sirius exclaimed as he appeared out of nowhere, literally, pulling what could only be an Invisibility Cloak off of himself.  “She admitted it!”

I gaped at him, too shocked by his sudden appearance to respond.

“That doesn’t mean anything,” James replied.

“Her whole family’s been in Slytherin, just like yours.  She could just as easily have meant that, for all you know,” Remus pointed out.

Neither of them seemed in the least surprised by Sirius’ entrance.  They’d probably known he was there the whole time, actually.  And where the hell had Sirius gotten an Invisibility Cloak?  The whole thing reeked of deception, and I just wasn’t going to deal with it right then.  So I turned and started to walk away.

Unfortunately, the three guys realized this, and they followed me.

“Wait up, Ar!” James called, jogging to catch up to me.  “Where are you going?”

“Er... to the library?” I said, shrugging.  “I’d like to get something done today, whether Apollo wants to help me or not.”

“Why?”

“I just told you why, you bloody—“

“Hey, Artemis,” Remus interrupted, smiling at me kindly, “You never really talk about your family.  It’s best if you just let it all out, you know.”

“What are you talking about?” I asked, shaking my head at him.  “Bunch off psychos...”

“Yeah!” James exclaimed, slinging his arm over my shoulder and grinning at me.  “What’s your mum like?  She looks really nice when I see her on the platform.”

“Er... yeah, she’s great... she’s a little overbearing and more than a little smothering, but I suppose—“

“What about your dad?” Sirius cut in, grinning in the same way James was, though he was smart enough not to throw his arm around me.  “How’s he?”

“Er, well, he’s rather—“

“Are your grandmum and dad still alive?  What are they—“

“You guys are pissing me off,” I growled.  “What the hell is this, a bloody ambush?  Why do you guys care anyways?”  I stopped at the corner and glowered at them.  “Stop being so damn nosy.”

They all shared a glance then looked back at me. 

“Well, see,” Remus finally admitted, “Melanie’s been spreading rumors, and Sirius has been saying their all true, but James and I didn’t want to believe them if they’re all a bunch of lies.”

Cold fear and hot anger filled my chest as soon as he’d said “Melanie.”  Spreading rumors?  And I could only imagine what she was saying about me. 

I bit my tongue and glanced around the corridors.  The gaggle of second years was still standing near a window overlooking the grounds, and a pair of fourth years was walking towards us.

“Hey, scram!” I barked.  The second years all jumped, giving me wide eyed looks, and one of the fourth years looked like she would faint.  Within seconds they were all gone, and James, Remus, and Sirius were all giving me what-the-hell-did-you-do-that-for looks.  I took a deep breath to steel myself and said: “All right then, lay it on me. What’s she saying about me?”

Sirius grinned.  “She’s telling everyone that you’re related to Slytherin!” he said delightedly. 

I felt my jaw tighten of its own accord, though of course I’d expected it.  “Hm,” I responded simply.  This didn’t seem to be quite what Sirius wanted to hear.  His grin gave way to a scowl. 

“’Hm?’” he repeated disbelievingly.  “That’s it?  ‘Hm?’  No ranting about how bitchy she is?  No burning desire to murder her in her bed?  Just ‘Hm?’”

“Well, it’s a shame you can’t read minds then, huh?”

“Obviously,” James butt in, “but we were just wondering if it was true?”

The three guys looked at me expectantly, Sirius’ smug look returning.  I sighed again. 

“Yes.”

“Ha!” Sirius shouted, breaking into some sort of victory jig.  Remus looked a bit surprised, but James looked dumbfounded.

“But you—you’re—but...”

“Come on, Prongs, she really admitted it this time!  You can’t deny it now!” Sirius cried happily.  “She is related to—“

“Just because I admitted it doesn’t mean I’m giving you permission to go around yelling it out,” I snapped at him.  I folded my arms across my chest and glared at him.  “Is that all she’s saying, or is there more?”

“Is there more?” Sirius replied, suddenly looking wicked.  “Because I would love to hear about it.”

“Sod off,” I told him.  “If that’s all, I’ll be going to the library.”  When none of the three said anything further, James still looking dumbstruck and mumbling under his breath, I rolled my eyes and walked away.

But I wasn’t going to the library. 

***~~~***

“Hey, Jordan!” I called.  Melanie seemed to have been expecting my call; she whirled around instantaneously, much to fast a reaction for anyone not expecting a call.  Mira and Olivia, however, obviously weren’t expecting it, as they jumped at least a foot into the air.  I ignored them and yelled, “Jordan, I need to talk to you!  In private!”  Smiling, obviously pleased with herself, she waved Olivia and Mira on before joining me in the nearest empty classroom.

As soon as the door shut behind her, I snapped, “You are such a bitch!  I haven’t done anything to you, so why the bloody hell are you spreading rumors about me?”

“Rumors?” she repeated.  “Not rumors, facts.  And you’re right, you haven’t done anything, which is the opposite of what I told you I wanted you to do.”  I felt my face scrunch up as I wondered what she could possibly be on about.

“Jordan, I don’t know—“

“Sirius, Gaunt, Sirius.  I told you, didn’t I?”

My mind flew back to that Saturday.  Ah.  Yes, I understood now. 

“I guess you should have got a move on, huh?  There’s still plenty to tell, though.  I think you might be surprised by how much I know about you.  And I’ll tell everyone everything if you don’t get to work.”

My jaw was clenched too tightly together for me to make a retort, but that was exactly how I needed it so that I didn’t say something stupid.  That in itself was stupid, because Melanie seemed to take this as fear.

“Oh, poor Artemis,” she said, putting her hands on her hips and putting on a pitying look.  “Are you scared of big bad Sirius Black?  Well, that’s a shame, isn’t it?  Maybe,” she dropped her pity act and smiled nastily as she headed for the door, “you should get some guts.”

I was about to tell her where she could shove it, but then I realized: she was already gone, and she was right.

I was kind of scared of him.  A little.  Like a tiny bit.  A small psychological thing, really: he’d picked on me and teased me and pranked me and hated me for so long now.  He’d yelled at me, humiliated me, hit me, ignored me; anything you could possibly do to me without inviting major repercussions, he’d done it. 

On second thought, I wasn’t afraid of him; I was actually more afraid of the thought of him liking me.  That thought was too absurd to be... well, thought.  The world might truly end the day Sirius Black decided that he liked me.  It was a day that would never come to pass.  Hopefully. 

Yet, I was also afraid of what would happen if I didn’t at least try to convince Sirius he should like me.  Melanie... was one of those spiteful people, one of those who would kill you if you didn’t obey (not literally... socially...).  She was almost scarier that Sirius loving me.  Especially since she was spreading rumors, er, facts about me and I had nothing to fight back with. 

I still had no choice.  I’d been stupid, in a way, to think that Melanie would give me time enough to waste.  She wanted Sirius, and she wanted him now.  So all that was left was to, in Melanie’s own words, “get some guts.” 

Where the hell can I buy some of those?

***~~~***

“Sirius,” I repeated, glaring at the mirror.  My right eye twitched, so I sighed and shook my head.  “Sirius,” I said.  My lip curled.  “Sirius.”  My nose scrunched.  “Sirius.”  My jaw clenched.

I couldn’t say his name while smiling.  Hell, I couldn’t even make myself look indifferent.  How was this ever going to work?  I hated him!  Maybe that was dying down, little by little, but maybe it wasn’t.  There was no way I could make Sirius fall in love with me!  I ground my teeth together in frustration. 

“What’s wrong with you?” I asked my reflection.  “I thought you were tough, but you can’t even say his name.”  With one last glare, I sighed and turned away from the mirror.  And jumped back against it at the silhouette in the doorframe.

“James!” I yelped.

“What are you doing, Ar?” James asked, but he really didn’t need to.  I could tell he’d already heard me.

“N-nothing!” I exclaimed, waving my arms in front of me and smiling innocently.  “I’m not doing anything, I swear!”

“You, uh...” he glanced around the mirrored room with his hands in his pockets.  “Having fun in the Room of Requirements?  I think you left the door open...” 

“Oh...” I muttered, looking at my shoe. 

When I looked up next, James was right in front of me.  He was smiling, kind of like he smiled at Lily, but not as lovey-dovey like.  “You were doing really good, you know.  Saying his name.  You weren’t stuttering or hissing or mumbling or anything.”

I stared at him, my face growing warmer.  “I—er, I wasn’t—whose name?”

He rolled his eyes.  “Sirius’!  Don’t deny it, we both know I heard you.” 

“Don’t be a moron, James,” I started, but he scowled at me.  “Oh, all right, fine!” I conceded, folding my arms across my chest.  “His name, yes, I was saying it, but it doesn’t mean anything, it’s just a name!  And no, no, I was not doing really good, you couldn’t see me through that wall, could you?  And it doesn’t mean anything, got it?  I just think I ought to be able to say it, right?”

James smiled smugly and started tapping his foot on the ground expectantly. 

“What?” I snapped.  “Why the hell are you looking at me like that?”

“Because you’re lying and we both know that too.”

“Oh, shut up!” I retorted briefly.  I marched past him without a look, and I knew he was following me, probably with that stupid smug look still on his face.  I stopped suddenly and whirled around to look at him.  “Don’t you tell Sirius,” I warned as my whole left arm twitched.  James jerked away in alarm, watching my arm carefully.  I sighed.  “I told you I couldn’t do it.

“Right...”

“Don’t tell him,” I repeated, “or I swear I’ll—“

“Okay, I won’t,” James ceded, shaking his head and taking an extra step backwards. 

“Good, cause it didn’t mean anything.  I still hate him.”

James nodded, falling beside me as I started walking again.  But the smug smile didn’t leave his face, and with each step it seemed to grow stronger.  I scowled at him.

“Get that god damned smirk of your face!  It pisses me off!”

“Right, sorry,” James said, quickly looking away from me at the wall.  “But you know, if you like him—“

I gagged.  “Are we talking about the same guy?  Or have you just lost your mind?” 

“I know, I know,” James whined.  “I’m just saying, if you liked him, even though I think the world might explode at that point, but if you did, you wouldn’t have to keep it a secret.  Girls like guys all the time, and you never know, he, er, could grow to like you.”

“Right,” I said, rolling my eyes.  “You must be crazy.” 

He laughed.  “You two are so... alike, though!  But okay, I must be crazy,” he surrendered before I could tell him to butt out.  “Hey, I’m gonna go find Lily-kins!  She finally agreed to go for a walk with me!”  I smiled as he waved and bounded off down the hallway. 

“Such a great couple,” I said out loud, smiling.  “Finally...”

***~~~***

“Good morning, James, Lily, Sirius!” I said, wincing a little on the last name as I plopped down next to the owner of said name that Wednesday morning at breakfast.  James and Lily smiled at each other, and Sirius edged away a bit.

“Shit, she’s trying to be civil.  What do I do, Prongs?”

“Just accept it, mate.  She works hard for it, let me tell you.”

I glared at him.  “Hey, you remember—“

“I’m not telling nothing, I’m just saying.  Oh, and—Sirius... what’s going on?”

I’d been focusing on my oatmeal, but now I turned to see what was happening.  And instantly fury rose in my stomach.

“I’m fucking eating here!” I yelled, picking up my oatmeal bowl and dumping it over April May June’s finely done, elaborately curled hair.  “I don’t need to see you two making out!”

Okay, maybe a slight over-reaction, though admittedly that crazed fury scared me a little.  Why was I so mad?  It wasn’t as if he hadn’t kissed her before.  No, definitely mad because I was eating.  Definitely...

“Gaunt!” April screamed.  Sirius just gave me a mind-your-own look.

“I don’t care if you guys start swapping spit, but go do it somewhere else!”

Sirius, to my surprise, just shrugged and pulled April away as she started swearing and threatening me.

And now I was irritated.  What were they going to do?  Go make out in a broom cupboard?  Why did that thought make me so frustrated?  And before anyone says I was jealous, you can just shut up now, because there’s no way I was jealous of her.  That was like being jealous of Melanie, and I was not the type to get jealous, especially over some stupid guy that I don’t even like. 

My mind was flying, raking itself for some other explanation.  Impossible! 

That’s probably why I didn’t realize James and Lily was still smiling at me until a few minutes later. 

“What?  Am I no longer allowed to get angry at public displays of affection?”  They just shrugged and smiled.  “Since when are those two dating anyway?”

“Since last night,” James answered.  “She asked him at dinner, right after you left.  Personally, I think she was worried you’d do something, well, like you just did.”

“She was all nervous and stuff.  Of course,” Lily stated thoughtfully, “that could just be, er, Sirius’ ‘animal magnetism.’”

I snorted.  “’Animal magnetism?’  Who the hell called it that?”

“He did,” James admitted.  I rolled my eyes.

“Call it whatever you want,” Lily replied calmly.  “You know, I was just thinking...” I glared at her. 

“Just thinking about what?”

“Well...”

“Yeah,” James agreed, “she was just thinking about how—“ Lily elbowed him, without even blinking.  “About how much I love Lily!”  And James threw his arm around her.  “She so brilliant!”

I raised my eyebrows but didn’t say anything voicing my suspicion.  Instead, I said: “Are you two dating yet?  Like, can I officially call James Lily’s boyfriend?”

“No!” Lily snapped before James could respond.  “We’re not dating!  We’re friends, that’s it!”

“Which is better than we used to be,” James pointed out.  “So I think it won’t be long now.”

“Shut up!” Lily snapped, hitting the back of his head and standing up.  “See you in class, Ar.”

James sighed and pushed his glasses up to the bridge of his nose, watching Lily with a glazed expression as she marched to the doors of the Great Hall.  I shook my head at him. 

“You’re like a love-sick puppy, James.”

He smiled.  “I can’t help it.  She’s just so... wonderful!  I don’t think there’s anyone else that I’ll ever love as much as I love her.  Every time I see her... I get so happy, and when other guys are around her, I get so jealous, and... I’m boring you, huh?”

I shook my head.  “No, really.”  I sighed, and his same expression probably crossed my face.  “I hope someday I love someone like you and Lily love each other.”

“I bet you and—“

“Shut up!” I groaned, already knowing what he was going to say.

“Sirius would be a great couple, if you guys could just get over this big old feud.”  I moaned and grabbed some more toast.  “Oh, come on, you know it’s true!  You two are alike, you know, I bet you’d see that if you—“

“James, I’m being civil, and—“ I paused, suddenly realizing that if I kept denying it, they’d know something was up if I suddenly decided I liked him.  But I wasn’t going to say that I did like him.  Since, you know, I don’t.  “Er, I mean...” James was watching me with a knowing grin on his face.  “We’re gonna be late for Charms, you moron.  Would you leave me alone?”

James was smirking widely.  “If you say so, Ar...”

I spent the whole Charms period glaring at the back of April's head in the seat next to James (we were nearly late, and those were the only seats left; not that I’m complaining, of course).  James seemed awfully amused by the whole thing, Sirius seemed happily oblivious as he snogged April while Flitwick wasn’t looking, and Lily and Remus seemed to be watching me like a hawk.  My irritation was growing exponentially.  This was worse than having Melanie dating Sirius (and that was terrible, because she seemed to want to share all sorts of details with me...), but it was ridiculous.  Why should I be upset?  I mean, I hated him.  I didn’t really like April. 

Maybe it was because April would get in my way when I tried to save my secrets from Melanie.  That made sense... to some extent.  April was competition, which made her an obstacle, which meant she needed to go.


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