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The Art of Breathing. by AC_rules
Chapter 27 : Comfort.
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 44

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A/N - So this is a filler with pretty much no plot at all... but it was a quick update and Mary's happier so I'm hoping you'll all forgive me. I'm supposed to be writing a drama Essay currently, so... this is all from me till next time. Lots of love. Ac xxx

“You know you guys are actually quite cute,” Lily said, smiling slightly as Sirius came and sat next to me at the breakfast table.

“Of course we are. Come on, it’s me.”

I gritted my teeth and glared at the table top as Sirius spoke. I couldn’t let on how much he was freaking annoying me right now. I was used to these sort of feelings when it came to relationships and all that, the other person became like a highly annoying fly that I just wanted to swat and get rid of.

“Don’t flatter yourself,” Lily said, rolling her eyes in Sirius’ direction. Her eyes suddenly fixed on James by accident and she scowled and looked downwards. At some point James (possibly prompted by Sirius) had realised that he hadn’t actually deserved his recent treatment, and now James was refusing to acknowledge her existence, which made the whole atmosphere of the breakfast table even tenser than it already was, which was just great really.

“Because no else will,” I added in, shrugging off his hand, which had been resting on my back, and glancing over to try and see Amanda, and failing. She didn’t seem to be in her normal place at the Ravenclaw table, but her friends were all sitting there and sending me and Sirius death stares. I also tried very hard not to look up at the staff table and towards McGonagall because that would only make me feel even worse, which would be quite some achievement.

Yesterday, when we had opened the door of the damn cupboard to let ourselves out we had found ourselves almost face to face with Amanda, accompanied by McGonagall, which led to quite possibly the most awkward moment in history. We were given detention and Amanda ran off in tears again, which Sirius didn’t seem to care about in the slightest. I, on the other hand, had been up all night thinking about our conversation in the toilets and how much of a bitch I must seem now.

“Actually,” Sirius said, smirking, “Mary complimented me the other day.”

“Shut up!” I snapped at him, as I saw Amanda finally entering the room. I tried not to stare. She looked pretty rough, which made me feel absolutely terrible (but also makes me feel slightly satisfied because well... she’s not as perfect anymore).  “Why couldn’t you have used the map?” I asked, turning towards him irritably, suddenly realising that it would have solved the whole issue of walking into McGonagall and Amanda. “Then we could have just checked.”

“Mary! You’re not supposed to know about the map!” Sirius complained, glancing at the others and hoping that they wouldn’t kill him or something. They did look a little mad.  I was too irritated at the whole thing in general to feel an ounce of sympathy for him.

“Oh don’t worry,” I added, glaring at the three of them. “He didn’t mean to tell me, it’s not like he trusts me or anything like that. He’s just too much of an idiot to remember what people are and are not supposed to know,” I said, stabbing my waffle violently (and receiving an odd look from a timid looking third year girl).

“You mean like you did?” Sirius asked, and he was no longer sitting close to me. “And I do trust you.”

“Well at least that makes one of us!” I snapped, and Sirius looked liked I’d slapped him.

“You don’t trust me?” he asked, which only made me want to hit the sod even more.

“Why would I?”

“Look, will you promise not to tell anyone about the map – not Lily or Alice or anyone?” James implored, ignoring the argument that me and Sirius were having like it was insignificant compared to the safety of the map. It probably was to him, he was that type of prat.

“James. We’re sitting right here,” Lily exclaimed, and James groaned. “Anyway, I saw you using it ages ago, which you all know, you complete idiot.”

“And Remus told me,” Alice added, shrugging. 

“You had to drop me in it?” Remus complained, sighing deeply and glaring at her. Alice, for her part, didn’t seem to care much.

“Maybe you’d trust me because you’re my girlfriend?” Sirius suggested quietly.         

“I hate that word,” I said through gritted teeth, trying not to notice that people were looking at us funny (especially the timid looking third year). Lily glanced nervously between us for a second and I found myself annoyed that we’d argued already – and it was my fault.

It therefore followed that I should have to fix it.

“I hate the word, except when you say it,” I tried to say seriously but it didn’t quite work because it made me cringe internally and I winced mid-sentence. Sirius smirked at my disgruntled expression, and I sighed and leant against his arm (and tried to push back all feelings of anger and annoyance for at least a few minutes) – at least he wasn’t going to stay mad at me.  He moved so that he had his arm around me instead, and I was resting on his chest. “It’s just the whole Amanda thing,” I complained, looking up at him and feeling very vulnerable. I guess I was going to have to get used to that feeling – I’d basically just agreed to let him trample all over my heart, and I was supposed to be happy about that? “It just sucks.”

“We’ll sort it,” Sirius said, tightening his grip on me slightly.

“Good. Okay enough of the mush now; I can only deal with so much. Plus I can’t eat like this,” Sirius smirked, and dropped his arm from around my shoulders again so that I could continue demolishing my waffle with a little more gusto than before.

“I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to keep up with your arguments anymore,” James said, looking at me as if I was crazy (which is probably quite an astute observation in all honestly). “At least if you argued before it would be awhile before you made up again, then it was easier to follow.”

“They’re not going to argue anymore. Stop putting a downer on everything – your presence is enough to do that,” Lily snapped, glaring at James’ head and I sighed. It seemed like, if anything, their relationship had become even more hostile, as now they both hated each other. Here was me and Alice thinking it might sort some things out.

James just ignored her completely, and acted as if she didn’t exist.

“We’re going to argue,” I corrected her. Lily looked put out that I wasn’t fully backing her side anymore (which I wasn’t, she wasn’t exactly being fair). I felt my anger ebb away a little for no reason what so ever, but it made me feel a little more relaxed.

“Are we?” Sirius questioned, and I looked at him disbelievingly.

“Yes,” I told him.

“No we’re not,” he countered.

“Yes we are.”

No we’re not.”

Yes, we are.”

“This is stupid.”

“Your face is stupid!”

“Stop being so negative,” Sirius instructed me.

“Actually you were the one being negative,” I said, taking another bite of my waffle. “No and not are certainly more negative than yes,” I added, once I’d successfully chewed and swallowed another mouthful. I smirked up at him, and he grinned back. His eyes were sparkling with laughter and I couldn’t help but smile at his expression, the last of my anger suddenly gone.

“Whatever smart arse,” he said, sticking his tongue out.

“Don’t stick that out unless you’re going to use it.”

“That was my line,” Sirius protested.

“Well, I liked it,” I said, still grinning at him like some kind of creep.  We’d somehow gotten closer again so that we were now sat chest to chest and looking up at each other.

“Well I like you,”  Sirius said, smirking at me.

“Well good,” I retorted, and Sirius closed the gap between us and kissed me. I decided to dub this the melting kiss because that’s what it felt like – my insides warmed up like I’d just drunk a pint of butter beer and I could just feel my whole body melting completely.

“You taste like waffles,” Sirius said, smiling at me.

“Well you taste like all that shit that comes out of your mouth.”

Sirius laughed at me and grinned.

“Must be damn good shit. Considering how often you’re coming back for more.”

“Damn straight,” I said, kissing him again lightly, and doing the nose thing that Sirius had done when he was teaching me how to ‘seduce’ someone – touching his nose lightly with mine and pressing our foreheads together. For a second I felt utterly content and just... nice.

 Then someone wolf-whistled.

I broke away from Sirius quickly (suddenly conscious about the whole Amanda thing... whoops!).

“Jeremy!” I exclaimed, seeing him coming into the great hall (late). “How are you?” I asked eagerly, and Sirius scowled, which I didn’t find as annoying as I would have done ten minutes ago (which he would have got a slap for).

“All right. What about you McDonald?” Jeremy said, coming to sit opposite me, next to Lily.

“I’m good,” I answered, ignoring the fact that Sirius was curling his arm around me again to show, quite clearly, that I was his property. I decided not to let it bother me unless it got ridiculous, we really didn’t need any more arguments than necessary really.

“I guess this snow day thing is your idea?” Jeremy asked, looking towards the Marauders, I nodded.

“Mary. Shush. We don’t want the teachers to hear.”

“What don’t you want me to hear, Potter?” McGonagall asked, and I jumped about a mile from the bench and turned around to look at her in shock. My hand automatically to my heart and I swore loudly.

“Detention. Tuesday night. I will not tolerate foul language.”

“Shit,” I muttered, and she chose to ignore me that time.

“We were just planning your surprise birthday party miss,” James said, looking up at her innocently. “We were just trying to work out whether you’d want balloons or fireworks or both.”

“My birthday’s not till June,” McGonagall stated, her lips thinning in annoyance.

“Well, we want to get a headstart,” Sirius added, “We want it to go perfectly and you have to book Celestina Warbeck early.”

“If anything happens today all of you will have detentions every night until Christmas,” McGonagall added – looking at Sirius, James, Lily, Pete, Jeremy and me darkly. “And you Lupin – I expect better from my prefects.”

“Miss, I haven’t even done anything!” Lily protested. “It’s their own fault if -”

“And yet you appear to be in the know, in which case you should have informed me or stopped them. If you wish to avoid detentions, Miss Evans, I suggest you stop them,” she said, before walking out of the Great Hall and in the direction of her classroom.

“If you snitch I swear that bad things will happen to you Evans,” James snapped, glaring at her. “We’ve put too much work into this for someone like you to screw it up.”

“Why the hell shouldn’t I? I don’t want to go down for your shit,” Lily spat angrily. Funny how this so called date had made things even more bitter between them...

“We could just silence her,” Sirius suggested, ignoring her. “We could let her out later,” he added.

“You wouldn’t,” Lily said, standing up and looking to go after McGonagall. Even I was surprised at her behaviour. She had helped, and she’d been in on the whole thing. She couldn’t tell on us now – that was betrayal.

“I can’t let you do that Lily,” James said (I’m assuming he thought it was more dramatic and meaningful when he said it like that – really he just sounded like a complete arse), and in a second he’d whipped out his wand and sent some spell in her direction that no one else had noticed.

“Judas,” I muttered, and Lily looked at me angrily. She tried to open her mouth and it seemed like something had jammed it shut. I looked at James admiringly; I was proud of the guy – he’d taken a lot of crap from Lily and it was about time he stopped seeing her through rose-tinted glass.

“Let’s go before any of the rest of you decided to ruin the whole god damn plan,” James muttered, grabbing Lily’s robes and pulling her along as if she weighed nothing more than the cat he’d bought her.

“Who else is going to blab?” Sirius asked. “It hardly matters now anyway, we’re all going to get detention for the rest of forever and there’s nothing we can do about it.”

Lily started making insistent noises through her clamped mouth that seemed like nonsense to me, but apparently Peter could understand (I wasn’t even going to think about it to be honest).

“We can’t call it off,” Pete said, shaking his head. “Not something on such a grand scale as this,” Pete said seriously, and I was taken aback. I was so used to his blunt, inappropriate comments that it was strange to hear him talking about things sensibly. Apparently there was a lot I didn’t know about Peter Pettigrew.

The whole thing had been his idea actually, which had surprised me more than anything in our little planning session. He’d just said ‘if only we could change what day of the week it was on’ and they’d all shaken their heads and told him he was being stupid – how can you change the day of the week?

No, he’d said – we could just make them think it was a different day of the week.

It was brilliant, simple, and almost fool proof (it had to be given that the idea was made up by a fool – that was what was so brilliant).  It had been harder to get Hagrid to go along with it and to convince Nate to make some comment about Mondays to Kate. Bribing the house elves to make Sunday’s breakfast had been far easier than I’d expected though – James had just promised to cook for them (which had confused me to no end, and provoked various uncalled-for comments from Lily).

“This better work, I talked to my brother for this,” Sirius muttered darkly, and I sighed, linking my arm through his and leaning my head against his shoulder.

We’d met with Regulus to make sure he could convince the Slytherins to go along with the idea and not ruin it all. Turns out he’d already worked out that it was us behind it, and convinced all the Slytherins it was his own idea that he was trying to pin on his brother and his cocky mates, which they’d lapped up. He was more like Sirius than I’d thought he would be really, and the meeting had been almost civil till I’d brought up the subject of Marlene McKinnon. He’d got angry then and started streaming out stuff about Sirius being a blood traitor and scum that didn’t even deserve to be in the school.

Then I’d hit him, and it had really hurt my knuckles.

Then Sirius laughed at me because I didn’t even leave a mark.

Then my hand had started bleeding.

It had been a long night.

“We called always frame it on someone else,” Pete continued. “And make a decoy prank that wouldn’t get us into as much trouble.”

“But then Reg might actually take all the credit for it, and if we do pull something like this off, even for a few hours, then I think we deserve the credit. What do you think?”

“Couple of detentions never stopped us before,” James shrugged.

“There’s not much else we can do,” Remus added, and I nodded, turning to look at Sirius but still holding on to his arm.

“I think it’ll be fun,”  I said, smiling.


“You look warm,” Sirius commented as I came back down from the dorms in several jumpers, my big coat, my thick scarf, a fluffy hat and armed with three pairs of gloves. He smirked as he said it and I rolled my eyes and gave him the finger. “Charming as always,” Sirius continued, pulling me towards him and kissing me very lightly before smirking again. “I’m surprised I can even reach you through all those layers.”

“Piss off. At least I’m going to be warm.”

“I could have kept you warm dear,” Sirius smirked, and I hit him again. “See if I did that it wouldn’t hurt because of all the padding,” Sirius continued, and I decided just to turn round and ignore him.

You’re coming?” James asked, and we all turned around to see Lily coming down the stairs after me dressed in similar gear (although slightly less of it) with her lips still jammed shut. She nodded definitely and continued down the steps. The drama was slightly ruined when she tripped down the last two steps and Remus had to step in to catch her before she fell flat on her face. Lily was only ever clumsy when she was particularly angry (which gave her a disadvantage in duels), so I was glad that her lips were still sealed.

“Fine,” James muttered. “It’s not like you can do much damage and it means we don’t have to lock you up here.”

Lily looked even more indignant at this and I raised my eyebrows.

“Leave them. They’re not worth it,” Sirius said, tugging at my hand as a very subtle hint that we should move. “We’re going to miss all the snow soon, and if the plan didn’t work then we’ll definitely miss all of it.”

“It’s going to work,” I reassured him, smiling as we set off down to the grounds. “And it will be great.”

“Well, okay Miss Optimistic. What the hell have you done with Mary Anna Sue McDonald?”

“Please don’t use my full name.”

“Ha! You’re a Mary Sue,” Pete said, laughing at his own pitiful attempt at a joke. I had to admit that I had thought of the joke before, but from Pete it just didn’t seem that funny. I didn’t want to credit his lame attempt of a joke with a response, so I instead pretended I hadn’t heard anything he said and dropped back to walk with Lily.

“You seem quiet,” I told her, feeling actually quite worried about the expression on her face as she looked at the floor glumly. As soon as I said this she glared up and me with her eyes narrowed in anger. She pointed at her jaw and I remembered that her mouth was still jammed shut and internally hit myself.

Sirius let out a bark of laughter at my expression, which made Lily flush with anger and trip over her own feet, which only seemed to make her angrier at the whole thing. Her whole body was tense and she glared at the floor fierily. It was only then that I realised her non-verbal spells weren’t the best (something that she obsessed over a lot) and were usually weak and slow enough to stop, which meant she really was powerless to do anything.

“Shut up Sirius,” I told him, suddenly feeling bad for forgetting about how bad Lily must be feeling – of course she wasn’t going to give us all up, she never would, she was just threatening to show her discontent.... and now she was stuck in silence with her thoughts. “Can we please unlock her jaw now?” I asked. “She can’t do much damage now.”

“No,” James said, looking at the floor as angrily as Lily was. Man I wish those guys would just project all their anger into snogging each other senseless or something that wasn’t quite so self destructive (not that I was one to talk really...) because I could see that it wasn’t doing either of them any good like this.

But it still felt weird to think that Sirius and I were ‘dating.’ I’d always expected something much more dramatic and in your face to happen to make us actually go somewhere, instead it was just minor changes that made everything different. I looked up at Sirius face and smiled, hoping he didn’t care that I’d told him to shut up and was as happy as I was with this whole new arrangement – otherwise that would really suck.

“What are you smiling at?” Sirius asked, quietly so none of the others could hear and I looked up into his grey eyes and found myself enjoying sinking for a few seconds.

“I just think you’re really.... lovely. That’s all,” I finished, smiling and reaching up to run my fingers through his hair. It wasn’t particularly soft – boys’ hair usually wasn’t – it was coarse and thick but nice to run my fingers through. I dropped my hand, feeling foolish, and he looked at me as if I was crazy, but put his arm back around my waist as we carried on walking. I could feel each of his fingers and the different pressure each put on my skin even through all the layers I had on (which was making me really hot, although I wasn’t going to admit that...).

“I swear you used to be thinner,” Sirius teased, and I rolled my eyes.


“Snow,” James sighed happily, or though it seemed, somewhat depleted from yesterday’s enthusiasm, which had put all thoughts of Lily, cats, bra sizes and whatnot out of his mind at least for a few minutes.

“Nice observation,” Sirius put in, grinning with his fingers still brushing against mine as we walked out together.  

“It’s cold,” Pete complained, and I grinned triumphantly.

“Ha! You should have put on more layers. See! I’m not stupid,” I said, pointing at Sirius.

“Hate to mention it, but I’m not cold at all,” Sirius said, smirking right back at me.

“Sure, like you’d admit it,” I pointed out, rolling my eyes.

“Fine,” Sirius said, pulling off his jacket and depositing it in the snow so that he was now only wearing a t-shirt, scarf and hat (in red and gold for Gryffindor spirit...). “Believe me now?” he smirked, and I shook my head.

“Can we just get on with it and have a snowball fight, and then we can go back inside again,” Alice asked shivering. She came over to us with Frank Longbottom (talk about awkward) and both Rachel and Charlotte. “Now that all the sixth year Gryffindors are finally here – I blame you for that by the way Mary,” she added. “You’re wearing the most clothes and therefore probably took the longest,” she clarified when I arched an eyebrow questioningly.

“Are we having this snowball fight then?” Sirius asked, when he was hit with a snowball sent from Charlotte’s direction. It had been aimed at his face, but she’d missed slightly and it had only managed to hit his stomach, but the water ran through his T-shirt and he jumped at the shock of the ice against his skin.

“You’re cold!” I exclaimed.

“Well, it is ice,” Frank pointed out fairly. “Being cold is part of the whole deal, really.”

“Admit defeat and put your jacket back on,” I told him, and he shook his head.

“Never.  I have too much pride,” he said, before picking up a handful of snow and chucking it in my direction, where of course it hit – exactly on target – and I had to blink a few times to get the sodding stuff out of my eyes. It was cold. Very much so.

“I hate you,” I muttered and scooped up some snow from the floor, but he’d already ran away from me and I had no hope of catching up. I tried to jog through the snow but it felt clumsy in my boots and it was too hard to keep it up for a long period of time. Instead I threw the snow at him from a distance and watched in annoyance as he stepped aside and dodged it, the snow simply falling to the ground.

Then I was hit again in the back of the head.

“James!” I complained, watching as he retreated away from me with ease and proceeded to hit the side of Charlotte’s face with a snowball, and then Rachel’s back (she was faster than the rest of us due to Quidditch). Remus didn’t seem to be bothering and was instead talking about something with Alice (so of course that meant they were left alone and not pelted with balls like the rest of us).

I watched for a few minutes as James threw snowballs at Lily who was just standing there not reacting at all. He seemed to be getting angrier with every snowball she didn’t react to, and Lily looked completely out of it as a snowball glanced over her head, and another hit her jumper and covered it in powdery snow.

Suddenly a pair of hands pulled the hat from my head and freezing cold snow was rubbed into my hair and I screamed.

“Guess who?” Sirius asked, and I turned around to hit him or something but instead he had me caught in his arms and I was stuck there with no way of escape (let’s face it, how was I supposed to fight off Sirius?). “Are you cold now?” Sirius asked, smirking evilly, and I scowled at him. “You look mad,” Sirius continued happily, but I kept my face glaring at him, so after a few seconds he glared back. His expression didn’t falter so I kept glaring at him too till I realised we’d been stood there for ten minutes for no reason other than stubbornness.

 Sirius got hit in the back of the head by a snowball, but he kept his face in that same line of disapproval and his arms still ensuring that there was no way that I could move. There was a great clump of snow still in his hair so I reached up my hands and proceeded to rub it into his scalp the way he had done to me. “Cold?”

“Yes, but I don’t need a jacket to warm me up unlike some people.”

“You just insulted yourself,” I pointed out, but he ignored me and kissed me properly for the first time in... ages really. This was the actual lose control of yourself, stop thinking, find your whole body burning and full of electricity so that you can’t speak or think type of kissing.

 “Oi! Pads!” James yelled, and I felt a snowball hit me, and I guessed there were probably some hitting Sirius as well but neither of us seemed to care. Sirius had his arms around my waist and pulled me closer towards him, and my hands were still tangled up in his hair from when I’d rubbed all the snow in.

“PADFOOT,” James yelled again, but Sirius ignored him again and he just deepened the kiss further. There was a small part of my mind that felt strangely proud that even for a moment, he’d picked me over spending 100% of his time with James instead. Although it was probably just because we were in the middle of a heated snogging session. If this had been a conversation he would have already talked about whatever James wanted to discuss with him, and probably started another conversation.

This, combined with another snowball hitting the back of my head which made me shiver, made me step back away from Sirius brush some of the ice out of my hair. Predictably enough Sirius glanced at me for a split second before turning to James.

“I can’t believe this actually worked,” I said, to try and cover the shakiness I was feeling inside. “I would have thought one of the teachers would have flipped out by now.”

“It’s only been an hour,” Remus shrugged. “Plus, McGonagall doesn’t have a lesson until second period, which only just started, and I can’t see any of the teachers really thinking about it all that much.”

“You cursed it,” Pete sighed, as he saw Slughorn walking in our direction. “Act normal.”

“Snow angels!” I yelled a little too enthusiastically, before diving to the floor and managing to hit my head once I was there.

“He said normal,” James pointed out, but he also lay down on the floor and proceeded to make a snow angel.

“What are you doing here instead of lessons?” Slughorn asked once he’d reached us, looking round at us all unexpectedly.

“Sorry?” I spoke up, with fake confusion thick in my voice.

The others mirrored my expression, and Sirius and James glanced at each other as if the man had gone completely crazy.

“Lessons...” Slughorn said, sounding a little more doubtful of himself this time as we all looked up at him blankly.

“But sir... its Sunday today,” Frank said innocently, as if he was genuinely confused.

“No it isn’t.”

“It is Sir,” Lily piped up (and seeing James slip his hand into his pocket obvious meant he’d finally let her speak for this purpose – Slughorn was practically in love with her).

“Oh, I could have sworn...” he muttered.
“Never mind eh sir, it happens to the best of us,” James said consolingly, and Slughorn nodded and walked away in a bit of a daze.

“We just have to hope that he doesn’t bump into any other teacher,” Remus said, watching his back retreat.

“Good idea staying close to the castle guys,” Frank added. “Means you don’t have to trust first year’s acting skills.”

We hadn’t thought of that. I glanced at Sirius briefly, and he looked slightly uncomfortable.

“Yeah. We thought it all through,” Pete said, and I hadn’t realised he was so slimy before. He was so Slytherin with all his scheming and lying – I can’t believe I’d never noticed it. “And we’ve made sure the teachers who are most likely to work out what’s happening don’t have lessons first or have always had someone putting doubt in their mind.”

“Impressive,” Frank nodded, and I couldn’t help but think that Pete was padding it out a little. It had all been scarily simple: we’d simply sent Pete in the cloak to put up notices saying that tomorrow was a student organised snow day and when asked what they were doing out of lessons they were to protest that it was Sunday. We’d used Regulus to get the Slytherins onside and making Hagrid believe it was Sunday was easy. It was more difficult to make Nate go with it (lying to Quiggles apparently made her mad – and she was pregnant), but he had agreed in the end. That was all we’d had to do to ensure that every student in the school got a snow day.

It was crazy.

“McGonagall’s going to be down here in ten minutes or so,” Charlotte said, glancing at her watch. “If you manage to convince her then I’ll be impressed.”

 I looked around at all of us for a second, thinking that we’d never been so united as a group, before realising that there was someone missing.  My eyes fixed on the spot where Lily had been a few minutes before when I’d last looked and followed the direction of her footsteps – back to the castle.

The others would definitely think she’d gone to tell on us if they realised.

“I’m going to go to the loo,” I told Remus, who was standing next to me but not really paying attention, as the snow fight had just broken out into another round and seemed even more violent than. It had eventually turned out to be Sirius and James against the rest, and somehow they were still winning.

I glanced around after a few more steps and saw flashes of light mixed with snowballs flying through the air, and I watched as Rachel and Charlotte used any means necessary to actually get them back for the snow they were now covered in.

I turned back and followed the pattern of Lily’s boots in the snow and wondered whether she was actually going to tell on us – she easily could now that she was no longer silenced and I knew she’d be mad about the whole thing anyway. I doubt I’d be able to cheer her up anyway given how little I could read her – if she was in a good mood or angry I could deal with it, but if she was depressed... that was something I knew nothing about dealing with.

“Mary!” someone yelled behind me, and I saw Sirius jogging (and looking really stupid) up behind me. “How fast do you walk?” he asked, falling into step beside me.  “You going after Lily?” he asked and I nodded. “You might want this,” he added, pulling the map out of the pocket of it his trousers and handing in to me. I noted he’d put on his jacket (and dried it by the looks of it).

“You’re not coming with me?”

“Well... I thought I’d go back to the others,” Sirius answered uncomfortably, and it was clear he thought that I was going freak out on him like one of his previous girlfriends. No. I wouldn’t be like that (even though I wanted him to stay with me rather than go back – how clingy am I?).

“Yeah sure,” I smiled warmly. “Go have fun.”

I didn’t really mean it but... stopping him from going would only make things really bad quickly and it would be selfish.

I am selfish.

“I can stay if you want,” Sirius said, taken aback by my response somewhat (which made me feel quite good really). “It’s just that everything’s been so hectic and I haven’t seen the guys in ages, and I’ll be out of contact with them soon-”

“Wait, what?” I stopped him.

“Well, it’s Christmas. I’ll be at home,” Sirius grimaced. “So that makes me uncontactable.”

“You can’t write letters?” I questioned, and he shook his head grimly.

“They have all the family owl’s trained to refuse to send letters for me, and last time James sent a letter with his family owl... well...” Sirius trailed off and shrugged. “Roast Owl supper.”

“Are you serious?” I asked, and he smirked for a second and looked as if he was about to speak when I rolled my eyes. “Go join the others,” I instructed.

“Maybe I don’t want to anymore,” Sirius smirked.

“Well maybe I want you to piss off.”

“Well maybe I don’t care what you want.”

“I’m so lucky to have you,” I added sarcastically, and Sirius smiled. His body was pressed up close to mine at this point and I smiled at him. “I have to go find Lily. I think she’s upset.”

“You know how to use the map?” Sirius asked, and I nodded exasperatedly, as he was holding it out but not letting me take it from his hand. “And you’ll seal it as soon as you’re done yeah? In fact we could just check it now and...”

“Give it me now or I’ll rip it,” I threatened, and he let go quickly. “I solemnly swear I am up to no good,” I said, and watched as the map appeared on the blank piece of parchment.

“Don’t look now, but we have a Severus coming in our direction.” I swore loudly, and Sirius looked at me curiously. “You allergic to grease or something?”

“No. Snape and I have a... thing. Not like that! I mean there’s a... thingy,” I tried to explain without mentioning anything to do with blackmail (which wouldn’t go down well I’m sure).

“Wow. Didn’t have him down as your type,” Sirius smirked.

“Duh. He looks exactly like you, and you’re my type so...”

“Tell me truthfully, is it the way he walks?” Sirius asked, and I laughed. “Although I’m thinking this thing – whatever it is and no, I’m not asking for details thank you very much – I think maybe it should stop considering we’re dating.”

“You never said we were exclusive,” I said, seriously, and Sirius’s expression froze for a second before I started laughing at him. “Your face is funny,” I told him and he smiled at it me as if I was a little bit insane. Suddenly there were footsteps and we both looked down at the map to see McGonagall coming in our direction.

“Shit,” I muttered, and Sirius stuffed the map into his pocket. “Do something that makes us look unsuspicious,” I whispered frantically as she stepped closer and glared at us. Sirius put his arm around me and looked at me seriously.

“We’re having a really serious conversation. Look upset.”

“I’m sorry?” I asked, trying to follow his instructions.

“If she thinks we’re having a really serious conversation she might not...” He stopped as she came within hearing distance. “I’m really not sure about this,” Sirius continued with is voice low and serious. “Everything just so -”

“Black. Miss McDonald,” McGonagall said, stopping in the middle of the corridor and glaring at the both of us. “I am not deaf,” she said, and I felt my lips twitching upwards at her expression. Her lips thinned and she looked angrier than I’d seen her in a while. “Why are you both skipping class?” she snapped, and I had to fight the urge not to laugh even more.

“It’s Monday today,” Sirius said seriously, and I felt myself trembling with laughter.

“Yes, I am aware of that,” McGonagall snapped, her nostrils flaring in anger and her lips reducing to nothing.

“No, I mean it’s Monday today,” Sirius said again and I kicked him with my foot to make him shut up and realise his mistake. I was too scared to speak in case all the laughter I was holding him came out.

“Yes?” she asked, her voice dangerously low.

“He means Sunday. It’s Sunday today, isn’t it Sirius?” I asked, biting my lip as I heard how much my voice was shaking with suppressed laughter.

“Oh shit! Did I say Monday? No miss, its Sunday today. Silly me,” Sirius said, trying to recover himself, but we both knew it was now a lost cause.

“He’s drunk Professor,” I said, for no apparent reason except panic. If the others found out Sirius was the one who’d ruined the whole thing he might be disowned or something. Still, it made the whole conversation even funnier and my whole body was trembling with trying to hold it in. I didn’t look at her and instead tried to look at the floor and not laugh.

“On Butter beer of course. Nothing illegal. Still suffering from the effects of yesterday’s butter beer – its Sunday you see. So everyone’s outside playing in the snow. As it’s Sunday.”

She glared at him for a few minutes and Sirius seemed to shrink (which was even funnier than you could ever imagine), and I felt my eyes beginning to water with the hilarity of it all and I clamped my mouth shut.

“ I’ll just go sit in the classroom shall I?” Sirius asked, as McGonagall seemed too angry too speak. “You might want to go sort out all the other rebel students...” he said, and he seemed genuinely scared. Sirius pulled me and I dutifully followed him to sit in the classroom.

“Empty classroom,” Sirius commented. “What do you want to do?” he asked, and I could tell he was joking by the fact that even his eyes were smirking.


Sirius pulled the map out again (which was now considerably more creased) and laid it out across the table. “She’s going over to the others now,” Sirius said nervously. “I’m going to be murdered.”

“Lily’s in the Library,” I said, finding her solitary dot amongst the books. “I’ll go find her now.”

“And leave me on my own?” Sirius asked, pouting pathetically in a way that I hoped was supposed to be comical.

“That was your plan, was it not? To leave me on my own?” I questioned, and Sirius considered this before nodding.

“Guess things have to work both ways.”

“Exactly,” I said, glad that I hadn’t made him stick around and yet he had for a while anyway. It was nice and I found that I was still smiling. I hadn’t realised how happy this whole thing was going to make me. It was much, much better than being so angry at him all the time.


“You know there’s supposed to be a disease that can only be cured by the sufferer falling in love,” Lily said, reading from her text book and not looking up at me as I walked over to where she was sat. She had her ginger tabby curled up in her lap and she was running one finger through its fur, and the other rested on the table tapping nonstop. “Except the sufferer gets uglier and uglier as the disease progresses: their skin goes blue and then their limbs rot one by one. Then they lose all their senses and then they die.”

“And all of that can be stopped just by falling in love? That’s brilliant,” I said quietly, sitting down next to her and watching her as she bent over the fat book, which I now saw was entitled as ‘the development of magical medicines though the ages’. It sounded as dull as hell and I knew for sure it wasn’t one we needed for any school subjects.

“No it’s not,” Lily said, sitting up to look at me now. “That’s crap. That’s the shittiest cure in the world because who’s going to fall in love with a blue person who can’t even see them or sense that they’re there. Plus the disease is spread via skin contact, which means that the person you fell in love with would probably get it to, then they’d have to fall in love with someone else as it doesn’t count if you’re already in love. So either the person you fall in love with dies, or finds someone else, either way you’re left with a broken heart.”

“Sounds like a really bad romance novel,” I commented, and Lily nodded holding another book up that was entitled ‘The Disease of Love’ and then what looked to be a sequel called ‘Love is Contagious’, both of which had pictures of blue people on the front and looked as if they hadn’t been touched.

“Of course they dramatised it and said that the sufferers had to kill all their past lovers.”

“Of course,” I muttered, pulling the book out of her hand and turning it over to read the back. “Lucas has a choice. He must kill the woman he saved and loved, or sacrifice himself. The illness that almost took Ashlinda’s life is now threatening the future they had begun to build together. Lucas must decide whose life is more important before it is too late for both of them,” I read out in a dramatic voice, which made the whole thing sound even more stupid.

“It’s not as bad as it sounds,” Lily defended, taking the book back out of my hands and placing it down on a pile on her left. Then her left hand went back to stroking her cat.

“You’ve read it?”

“Four times,” Lily sighed. “And I just wanted to check how much of it was real. It’s a little unrealistic – a disease that’s cured by love and I think it’s fascinating that it actually exists you know? Magic is so strange and limitless it’s unreal.”

She was rambling now and her voice was getting a little bit too high for my liking.

“What’s wrong Lily?” I asked seriously, and she sighed again and stopped tapping for a moment before looking at me.

“I’m just stressed you know!” she said, and I could feel another rant coming on. “I mean, it’s NEWT year and no one else seems to be worried about it! We have so many important exams that we have to pass otherwise we’ll never get a job and I’ll end up broke and living in a shitty house like I have done for most of my life. I hate Spinners End, you know that? I hate going home and living in some crappy small hole because my parents can’t afford anything better. I’d hate to live in a place like that for the rest of my life, let alone have children there – not that I’m ever going to have children, god no. Honestly Mary, are you worried about the exams?”

That silenced me for a second, because the answer was no, I’d be dead before the exams happened...

“I’m worried about the future I guess,” I told her, and she sighed and carried on talking but slower this time.

“Then about what Quiggles said the other day, about the war,” Lily said, looking down at her hands, which were now clenched. “I’m a muggleborn. Chances are, I’m going to be murdered.”

“Oh Lily,” I said softly, suddenly realising how much this must have been getting to her.  If it was one thing I could relate to it was being scared of dying.

“Or my parents, or my sister. It’s going to happen, Mary. How do I have any hope at surviving against this type of thing? I don’t have a clue. You could be trying to kill me for all I know! I’m not clever like that, I just try. I try and I try but that’s not going to do me any good if I end up face to face against Voldermort is it? No. Then bang I’ll be dead. I’m not going to live till thirty unless I become a brilliant dueller overnight or something, which isn’t going to happen because I have to spend all my time studying useless things like Transfiguration so I can get a job.”

“Lily, there’s nothing you can do. You shouldn’t worry about it,” I told her, and she shook her head. “You just need to chill out and relax.”

“I’m just so confused about everything, there’s just so much going on and I just want it to stop so I can think for a minute.”

“Yeah, I get that,” I said. “Everything’s so hectic and stupid at the moment, but it’ll be better once Christmas is over.”

“Sure,” Lily said, pressing her hands to her head and massaging her temple. “Then I feel so bad about being such a bitch to everyone recently. Especially Potter – he didn’t deserve that.”

I couldn’t deny it, so I didn’t say anything and instead put a hand on her shoulder. “Then there’s Sev. I haven’t spoken to him in months and I just know that one day he’s going to be out killing people and I can’t stand it.”

Again I didn’t say anything - what was there I could actually say to make her feel better? Not much.

“Then I have to go home at Christmas, and I’ll probably see him around or something. Then I have to deal with my sister hating me and living in that stupid house that I hate where I’m not even allowed to walk around on my own because it’s ‘too dangerous.’ Dad used to let me when I had Sev with me, because everyone’s scared of him as they all think he’s so creepy, but now I won’t be allowed to go out unless I go out with Petunia, which she won’t like.”

She stopped for a minute and sighed. She picked up her cat and placed her on the table top and brushed its cheek affectionately. “Do you think James still likes me?” Lily asked after a few moments. I found my lips curving into a slight smile.

“Why?” I asked curiously, and she shrugged, looking at her cat very carefully.

“I don’t know,” she admitted warily. “I guess I’m just so used to knowing that at least someone in the world liked me that I don’t want to lose that, and well... I had fun on Saturday before I freaked out, and now he hates me. Do you think he still likes me?”

“Lily, he bought you a cat.”


“Why did he buy you the cat do you think?” I said slowly, and she shrugged.

“We were walking past the pet shop and I said that I’d always wanted a pet but that my parents could never afford one. Then he was like right, be right back, then he came back with this cat and he said it reminded him of me.”

“I can see it,” I agreed as I looked into the cat’s eyes. It had relatively thin ginger fur and startling green eyes, plus it looked like it was smiling. “What did you call it?”

“Pads, like lily pads. James came up with it and it just sort”

“Yeah,” I added, touching her nervously and stroking her head. Animals didn’t normally like me so I normally avoided them.

“He found it really funny though for some reason,” she added thoughtfully.

“Well, the Marauders will always be a mystery,” I told her, and she nodded.

“How’s it going with you and Sirius then?” Lily asked, and I considered this for a moment.

“Good. I think,” I said slowly, letting myself relax a little more now that I knew Lily wasn’t going to explode at any moment. “Sometimes it feels natural and easy... then other times I just feel so out of place and... strange.”

“Sounds normal enough to me,” Lily said, still running her fingers over her cat’s fur. “It’s always strange... at the beginning. Are you happy?”

“I’m happier yeah,” I said finally, and Lily smiled at me.

“Well then, it’s going good, and hopefully it will stay that way.”

A/N - Reviews would be appretiated so very very much, just so you know ;)

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