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The Art of Breathing. by AC_rules
Chapter 32 : Marauding.
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 69


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A/N - Hello exam period. Hello revision. Hello excessive bordem. Goodbye fun. Goodbye pointless procastinating. Goodbye writing. Goodbye life.... Hello lots of sympathy reviews? ;) That's how life is standing at the minute BUT still have the next couple of chapters written which should mean that updates don't stop. I'm thinking every fornight... depending on reads/reviews but yeah! Please review even though this chapter is essentially pointless... :P


James Potter P.O.V. 

It still amazed me that no matter how long I had the snitch, the charm didn’t wear off. It darted away from my fingers – relishing in its freedom – its wings fluttering so fast that you could barely see them moving, and the ball was glistening gold as it sped away from me. I reached out and snatched it from the air, admiring the intricate details of the golden ball before letting it go again.

“For Merlin’s sake will you just stop it?” Sirius snapped as I grabbed it back again, crushing one of its wings slightly. I let its wing escape through the gap between my fingers and I could feel it beating against my skin – it was a strange sensation. I let it go again, watching as the wings pushed it through the air... “Prongs – stop it,” Sirius said, his voice dark. I grabbed the snitch and turned to look at him.

Pete, who had been staring at me as I caught and re-caught the snitch, seemed to break out of a trance as all eyes turned to Sirius. He was sitting at the window, staring out over the grounds stiffly. He looked like a girly sap. I was almost ashamed to call him my best mate/brother, but not quite.

“What’s up with you?” Pete asked, his attention turning back to the snitch again as it struggled to get out of my hand.

“Padfoot isn’t getting any,” I put in, letting go of the snitch again.

“Sod off James,” Sirius retorted, taking a break from glaring out of the window to glare at me.

“Padfoot isn’t getting any,” I repeated, standing up to grab the snitch, which had gotten just out of my reach due to Sirius distracting me. “Padfoot isn’t getting any, Padfoot isn’t getting any!” I repeated, turning it into the type of annoying chant three year olds made up. Pete joined in with the chant and Sirius seemed to be getting gradually more annoyed, but stayed resolutely staring out the window. I wondered how long it would take for him to crack...

“PADFOOT ISN’T GETTING ANY!” I yelled, right next to his ear.

“FUCK OFF!” Sirius yelled back, suddenly standing up with his hands balled into fists. “I swear if you say one more thing I’ll -”

“Padfoot isn’t getting any,”  I said, grinning.

Then Sirius’s fist collided with my face making me stumble backwards. “Its fine, I don’t mind,” I continued, still grinning (even though my face hurt rather a lot). “Feel free to use me as a way to relieve your frustrations.”

Another fist came flying at my face, but I was ready for it this time and stepped sideways.

 As we both enjoyed winding each other up (and I often struck the right nerve – I was a lot better at that than he was), he usually would end up hitting me. As it was such a regular occurrence I usually knew exactly when to duck and dodge, which was good because when he actually punched you it hurt. As always with Sirius the first punch was just a warning telling me to cut it out, which I normally ignored...

“Still frustrated?” I questioned, getting ready to step backwards. He was a fraction faster than expected and his fist collided with my stomach, which made me double over. Having been on the receiving end of a fair few knocks I could tell that Sirius was a lot angrier than he had been when I’d told his at-the-time-girlfriend that he fancied her best friend (not that I regret that) but not as angry as he had been when he’d come back from talking to Regulus with a deep gash on his right arm, covered in blood and sporting the most impressive scowl I’d ever seen (I’d asked him ‘how did it go’ and he’d turned around and broke my nose. That one I actually regretted as my nose never looked the same again, plus, you just don’t mess with Sirius’s family business. Really.). This time I could tell that it was going to bruise, and it would probably hurt for me to stand up for at least a week. Hey, he’d done much worse.

“Yes actually, I am,” Sirius said, and I looked upwards for a second and saw that he now had his wand, which was never a good sign and... Then I was hanging upside down by the ankle.

He still had his wand pointed at me as I struggled to pull out my own (for defensive purposes only). Being a Black had rubbed off on him a little (not that I would ever say that to his face, ever) with the amount of hexes and jinxes he’d picked up. Some of which I was sure were bordering on the dark... Or maybe they were just plain mean. Either way, I didn’t want to be caught with one of them.

The snitch, which I’d hurriedly stuffed in my pocket to carry on annoying him, flew out of it and began darting around the dorm. I made a lunge for it, but, being upside-down and stuck, I missed it by a few centimetres. I felt one of its wings brush past my finger tip as I swung wildly in the air.

Pete reached up and tried to grab it too but missed it by a very wide margin, and it continued darting around the room. It was slower than normal as I’d accidently crushed its wing and I knew if Sirius would just let me down I could grab it...

“The window’s open!” Pete suddenly exclaimed and I struggled to turn round and see it. If the window was open then that would be the end of snitch forever and ever.

“Let me down!” I yelled in Sirius’s direction. Sirius was up on his feet trying to grab it, missing by millimetres each time.  It looked like he was handling a hot poker as he tossed it from hand to hand, never quite getting grip... “Let me down!” I yelled, still twisting, and suddenly I went flying into the floor, nose first (it definitely wasn’t going to ever recover this time). “Not like that you prat!” I mumbled into the floor, pulling myself up slowly and feeling every aching joint.

I went into seeker mode – my eyes darting around the dormitory as I tried to chase the snitch, my stolen snitch... but a quick once over told me that it was definitely gone.

“Please tell me you caught it,” I said to Sirius, who held up his empty hands, not looking altogether unhappy that it was now gone. It was gone. Flying around outside where I had no hope of getting it back.

I’d had that snitch for two bloody years.

This time it was me who threw a punch in his direction and I could feel it as it connected with his cheek. Then we were both attacking each other – punches and kicks flying as Pete sat there, watching.

“Is this really necessary?”  Moony asked from the doorway. “It’s a full moon soon – you should be saving your energy,” he said, dropping his voice as he said the last part.

“He started it,” I said, displaying my full maturity. Remus rolled his eyes and walked the length of the dorm to his bed. Sirius glared at me, before sitting back down at the window. Honestly, so touchy. I would say I don’t know what’s gotten in to him, but it’s obvious why he’s acting like a PMSing teenage girl.

“Just don’t ask me to heal you – because I won’t.”

“Why would we ask you?” Sirius pointed out. His voice was stiff and angry sounding. “We can do it ourselves.”

“Yes, well,” Remus commented wisely. “Care to explain?”

“Sirius is sexually frustrated.”

“And he decided to solve that by... jumping on you...? Really James, have you ever heard of the phrase ‘big headed’, because if you believe that now even Sirius is attracted to you then -”

“Of course he’s heard of big headed. I’m surprised his broom can even take off with that big head of his,” Sirius snapped, sitting by the window again.

He was quoting Lily – bloody hell he was angry. I was lucky to be alive at this rate. Lily quotes were off limits, just like family comments were off limit when it came to Sirius. Those were just the rules. I felt I should be more offended by the Lily-quoting but I felt worse for him more than anything because obviously he’s got it bad. He’s got it bad for Mary McDonald – who’d have thought? (Other than Remus – but he doesn’t count in most things. He’s not even a real human therefore I’m right).

Anyway, I’m not that big headed. Not at all... she just... needs to see it that’s all and I’m going to convince her. I have a plan and anyway, I’m James Potter – I do not fail.

“Sirius that was...”

“Uncalled for?”

“What did you do Prongs?” Remus asked with a tired expression. I tried hard not to be offended by that expression till I saw that Sirius had returned to staring out the window and stabbing himself with his own wand repeatedly, refusing to look in our direction. I sighed. “I may have mentioned that Sirius wasn’t getting any.”

Remus continued looking at me, waiting. “Several times... in the form of a chant... in his face... Even after he threatened to punch me... But, he hung me upside down and made me lose my snitch! And now he’s using Lily-quotes against me!”

“Ah,” Remus said in response, and pulled out a book.

“Aren’t you going to do anything...?” I asked incredulously. “You sit us down, make us explain and don’t even do anything!?”

“You’re forgetting that I’m not your mother,” Remus answered, sounding bored. He looked very ill.

“No I’m not. If I thought that I’d ever sucked milk out of your -”

“Why is Mary ignoring me?” Sirius interrupted, and Remus put his book down.

“At last,” Remus commented.

“What?” Sirius asked.

“I didn’t feel I could interfere till you asked,” Remus explained. “Now, did you have an argument or disagreement of some sort?”

I decided to put aside my indignation and listen because it was weird – really weird – the way one day they’d been sickly cutesy couple and the next... she was just gone. Barely there. Just like that.

“No,” Sirius answered, a line of annoyance etched into his forehead. I hadn’t realised this whole thing was getting to him so much. Well, I had, but I guess I hadn’t thought it was about her all that much. Just about having someone. Sirius had changed a lot since September and I wasn’t used to this new Sirius yet, who actually cared about someone other than us lot. I was so used to him resolutely not caring... it was... weird.

“Did you do something wrong?”

“Well obviously she thinks I did, otherwise she wouldn’t be...”  

I can tell that Sirius is going to get annoyed at Remus within a few minutes. Despite giving great advice, I know for a fact that Sirius doesn’t think it’s worth it for the patronising I-know-best-Remus who has a habit of appearing in these situations. It didn’t bother me or Pete, it was just the way he was, but of course Pete always agreed he was very annoying if Sirius ever complained.

“Acting like you’ve suddenly become contagious,” I added in helpfully. Sometimes I feel like I should shut my mouth and just stop talking...

“Thank you,” Sirius snapped.

“My pleasure – not yours considering that-“

Suddenly my sentence was cut off by being thrown upside down again. My ankle was going to be bruised at this rate. Sirius has his wand pointed at me but looked a little confused until he saw that Remus also had his wand out...

“Look James, I’ve told you before and I’ll tell you again. Sometimes you need to learn when to shut up,” Remus said. “And obviously we’re not going to get anywhere with this unless you two stop acting like five year olds with attitudes. Now, please, apologise to Sirius.”

Ah, classic Remus – treating us like we‘re immature five year olds to make us feel stupid.

God. Sorry.”

“Not good enough!” Remus said. “Do it properly! Just say it James, it’s not going to kill you...” Then he was upside down too and Sirius was laughing. At least he’s cheered up a little I suppose.

“I’ll forgive you James. It’s this dolt,” he gestured towards Remus, “who I’m not forgiving any time soon.”

“Very funny,” Remus said sarcastically.

“Definitely,” I agreed, and Remus promptly let me fall to the floor again with a thump. I probably deserved that.

Another banging sound told me that Remus had also been dropped to the floor. I pulled myself upwards and looked at Sirius who was still laughing at Remus on the floor.

“Sorry mate,” I said, and Sirius shrugged.

“That’s all right – sorry about the whole snitch thing.”

“And punching me?”

“Nope. Not sorry.”

“Probably fair.”

“Yup,” Sirius agreed. “Now will someone please help me? Please?”

“God: Sirius Black begging, he must be desperate,” I said, knowing that really I should just shut up.

“Maybe she just doesn’t fancy you anymore?” Pete asked, moving to sit on the floor. It was some sort of Marauder tradition that whenever we had a serious conversation (planning pranks, planning how to get Lily, talking about Quidditch etc...) we always sat on the floor. Then someone would pull out supplies and we’d stuff our faces at the same time, to feed our brains. Normal pointless conversation could take place whilst sitting on beds, sitting on the floor was a way of showing that this mattered to all of us. Don’t ask how it started. I don’t know.

“Nah,” I said, shaking my head. Why would she not fancy him? He was Sirius Black after all and we were the Marauders. It was like... the law. She just had to fancy him. Girls just... did.

“I doubt it,” Remus admitted, also sitting down. Sirius made a non-committal noise and moved from his seat near the window and onto the floor.

“She could be cheating on you,” Pete suggested. Really, what was that guy on? Maybe the cheese messes with his brain or something.

“She wouldn’t,” Sirius said, but he didn’t sound overly convinced. “Would she?” Sirius asked, addressing me.

“No,” I said confidently. “It won’t be anything like that.”

“She’s not the cheating type,” Remus added. “Okay, talk us through exactly what happened,” he began, pulling out the box of chocolate from under his bed and chucking some to each of us.

“Well, I don’t know do I,” Sirius said glumly. “One day it was fine, and then...well it wasn’t anymore.”

“First weird thing?”

“She stopped answering my letters after the New Years Eve party thing. She snapped at me for something – of course that’s not abnormal – but she seemed really angry for no reason at the end of that too. So then I wrote to her and when she didn’t answer the first two I just gave up.”

“First mistake,” Remus said.

“Even if she doesn’t answer, you have to carry on writing, at least until the third time,” I finished, nearly quoting a fantastic book called ‘how to get any witch to fall in love with you’, which doesn’t work for me simply because Lily Marie Evans is not just ‘any witch’, a fact that I learnt the hard way.

“Yeah, well. I was slightly distracted at the time, and if she wasn’t going to bloody answer then really-”

“I agree with you mate, but girls are weird. You just have to... put up with their weird ways.”

“Yeah. Well. Then on the first day back it was almost back to normal so I was relieved about that.”

“Almost?” I questioned. Stuffing my face with a bar of Honeydukes finest.

“Well... she was nervous, more self conscious and not as talkative. It was alright when it was just us two but with everyone there she seemed a little...freaked.”

“I noticed that,” Remus nodded.

“But then it was even better between us, and she was really happy about the motorbike, and then we went for that walk,” Sirius said, thinking for a second. We all sat there and watched him as he thought. “She was normal then.”

“Then she had this dream and you were chucked out of muggle studies.”

“Yes,” Sirius said. “Then that happened. Then we ended up having a minor argument about something. She found out something again – she has a habit of doing that – and then it was like she was accusing me, so I walked off and told her I need to think.”

“She probably thought you were about to break up with her,” I said. “Girls think that. All the time.”

“She wouldn’t think that,” Sirius said, thinking hard. “We’d just had a conversation about our relationship type thing...”

“She definitely thought you were going to break up with her then,” I said between bites of chocolate.

“She didn’t,” Sirius snapped back – he was remarkably touchy about this whole thing. “She wouldn’t have.”

“Wait a second. What happened whilst we were all in class?” Remus asked (he knew something), and Sirius flushed slightly.

“Nothing,” he replied quickly. “So anyway after that I came back and found her and we had a chat about stuff and -”

“You slept with her,” Remus commented shrewdly. Sirius stopped talking. Peter looked up at him excitedly and looking a little awed.

“And you didn’t tell us?” I asked. “You always tell us these things.”

“No I don’t,” Sirius pointed out. “I very rarely do. You just assume things and I choose not to correct you.”

“Most of the time because the things we assume are correct.”

Sirius shrugged.

“Anyway back to the point. Was she good? Did you find out her bra size?”

“Can we focus on the point?” Sirius asked, rolling his eyes at me. “Really. I’m trying to save my relationship. I’m new to this and I need your help.”

“But you lied to us!” I exclaimed in mock horror.

“Shut up James.”

“You shut up, you liar!”

“I’m not a liar.”

“Fine then, shut up you... you truth concealer!”

“Okay, so you slept with her,” Remus said, talking over mine and Sirius’s mini-argument. “And then what did she do?”

He was using his slow, patronising voice, the one he adopted when he tried to explain something very simple to someone incredibly thick (usually Peter). It was the voice that normally made Sirius frustrated, and since he was already pretty mad...

“Look, I don’t want to talk about it.”

“What did she do?”

“Run off.”

“Ah.”

“Bingo.”

“You can both shut up,” Sirius said, picking up his wand and poking the floor with it darkly. “But we talked about it, and it was fine!”

“Was this the same conversation where you left and told her you needed to think?”

“She definitely thought you were going to break up with her – what with your reputation.”

“She didn’t! She brought up some family stuff, it was... look, that doesn’t matter because she was fine later. Then she was fine the next day and then I didn’t see her as much for a few days, which I thought was just bad luck,” Sirius said, pulling apart his robes, looking a little short of murderous. “Then I saw her even less, then she yelled at me, then she started avoiding me, then -”

“Wait, what did she yell at you about?” I asked, cutting across his tirade. In fairness we all knew exactly how she’s been; it’s not something you could easily miss.

“I said – do you want to me to help you with that potion’s essay? She turned around and started yelling about how she wasn’t completely incapable and she’d get it done much quicker if I wasn’t distracting her.”

“Maybe she’s scared of failing NEWT’s.”

“In fairness, she is going to fail NEWT’s,” Pete pointed out. He had a point. She was even worse at magic that... well most first years. Not that it made much sense, her magical skill just seemed to have dried up.

“And you’ll fail them too if you don’t shut up,” Sirius said, glaring at him. Note to self – don’t insult Mary where Sirius can hear me. “Then I asked her if she’d prefer it if I left and she said yes actually, she’d prefer it if I just disappeared from the universe and stopped following her around like some kind of lost puppy.”

“Well that’s lovely,” I said, before realising my ‘note to self’ not to insult Mary. Whoops. Although apparently he hadn’t taken in the insults to her and was instead answering Moony’s question of ‘and what did you say?’

“I said ‘well I don’t fancy leaving.’ So she said ‘fine, I’ll go then’ and stormed out the common room. Now she spends the whole time in the library on her own. Then the only other time we’ve really spoken was after team building – the one where we’d been discussing our future plans – and I asked her what she wanted to do after Hogwarts.”

“Because Quiggles didn’t ask her.”

“And she was awfully quiet the whole time.”

“Thank you,” Sirius said, sending a look in mine and Peter’s direction. “And she said ‘well I certainly won’t be doing you, or anything to do with you’, and I thought she was just being funny so I smiled and I was about to say something back but she’d already disappeared somewhere.”

“I didn’t realise it was so bad – I wouldn’t have said...”

“It’s fine,” Sirius said, shaking his head. “I just don’t know what the hell I’ve done wrong! It’s just so frustrating.”

“Maybe she just thinks you were using her for sex and that you won’t be interested in her now?” Remus suggested, but we all knew he didn’t really have a clue what he was going on about. It was –well and truly a mystery.

“Would she really be mad about that for... two and a half weeks?”

“Yes. Longer probably. Girls are like that... but has it really only been two and a half weeks? It feels like a lot longer than that.”

“It does,” Remus admitted. “Its three weeks tomorrow. Along with the wedding.”

“How did they even organise a wedding that fast?” I asked incredulously.

“She’s knocked up – they didn’t have much choice.”

“Really, she’s pregnant?” I asked, looking at Remus curiously. “How do you know that?”

“Have you tried looking?” Remus asked.

“I’m going to the wedding tomorrow,” Sirius said suddenly. “As Mary’s date. Or at least I was supposed to – Nate invited me but considering she hasn’t bloody talked to me for two weeks I don’t know if she wants me there or not.”

“She’ll be mad if you don’t show up,” Remus pointed out.

“She’ll be mad if you do,” Pete countered. We all considered this for a moment.

“You know what we need?” I asked, trying hard not to smile. “Lily!”

“No, you need Lily. I need to sort my supposed relationship out by tomorrow.”

“Who knows Mary better than anyone? Lily! She’ll know exactly what’s going on! Someone go get her!”

“He’s right.”

“I know, it’s shocking,” Sirius said, looking under his bed for something and coming out with a bottle of alcoholic fruit juice. “I’m going to need that if Lily’s coming up here – dear God.”

“Hey! Don’t insult Lily!” I snapped, and Sirius rolled his eyes. In the same way that I found thinking of Sirius and Mary as an item strange, Sirius had the same difficulty with the idea of me and Lily (how good does that sound?). Me and Lily. Lily and Me. Lily and James...It’s perfect right? Plus I’m pretty sure he finds her annoying.

Sirius finds everyone annoying.

“I’ll get her shall I? She won’t come if you ask on principle,” Remus said, once I sent him a questioning look. “Where’s the map?”

“Sirius had it. He was Mary-stalking,” I said happily. It was good to not be the only obsessed guy in the dormitory.

Sirius pulled it out of his pocket and dutifully handed it over.

“I solemnly swear I am up to no good. Lily Evans...” he said, searching for her dot. Her name made my heart jump a beat and I smiled to myself. In a minute she was going to be up here helping us... “Well that’s useful. She’s just in the common room. Hide anything she’ll disapprove of.”

“Prongs, quick, hide under the bed!” Sirius declared, before laughing at his own (feeble) joke. Remus chuckled and chucked the map back at Sirius who was still laughing/barking. Stupid prick.

“She doesn’t disapprove of me,” I said, after a few moments of silence once Remus had disappeared out the door. “She’s just... deluded at the minute.”

“I remember when I was as big headed as you,” Sirius said. “Still, between Moony and your little obsession I’m probably going to end up jumping out the window before this conversation is over. At least then I won’t have to worry about this wedding tomorrow,” Sirius said darkly, drinking some more of whatever it was in the bottle.

“They’re coming up now,” Peter said, listening carefully. You can’t deny the guy has good hearing – perfect little rat. 

“Calm yourself down Prongs,” Sirius said in amusement. “You need to keep your excitement under control or you’ll...” I stopped listening and ran my fingers through my hair. It was never going to lie flat so I might as well fluff it up to my advantage, for my perfected ‘I’m a hot Quidditch player look’ but... she hated that didn’t she? I tried to flatten it instead, but it didn’t exactly work.

“Give it up mate,” Sirius advised. “Just don’t touch it.”

“Mmmm,” I answered, resisting the urge to take up a different nervous habit like biting my nails.

“So why exactly am I being dragged up to this dung heap.”

Lily! Sweet, sweet Lily. “And brilliant, he’s here,” she said, glancing at me. Well... she’s in a bad mood. Still, she looks so amazing it’s unreal. Even in the school uniform she looks so different and beautiful... she is, in short, incredibly, brilliantly perfect.

“We need your help,” Remus said simply.

“Well, Sirius needs your help,” Pete corrected. He’d never warmed up to Lily either. They are deluded fools who should open their eyes and see how amazing she is.

“No, we need your help,” I re-corrected him sharply. “About Mary.”

“What’s Mary got to do with you, Potter?”

We were back on a second name basis. And I had thought we were moving forward... She’s probably just PMSing or something.

“Because, Evans, he’s dating my best friend,” I replied, glaring at her. I could practically see her hostility melting away in shock and, let me tell you, it was satisfying. She was about to open her mouth and say something else when Sirius interrupted us.

“Can you just tell me what the hell is going on?”

“Ah. I thought you knew,” Lily said.

“Why would I know?”

“Well, I didn’t and I thought maybe you would,” Lily admitted, sighing and sitting down in our circle. You have no idea how many times I have dreamed about having Lily sitting in one of our Marauder circles.

“So you don’t know anything? Brilliant. Absolutely fantastic.”

“Ignore him, he’s frustrated,” I commented to Lily.

“I didn’t say I didn’t know anything,” Lily snapped, talking over me and glaring at Sirius. “I just thought maybe she talked to you, not me. If you want me to help you I’d suggest you stop acting like such an idiot,” she said, her eyes flashing a darker green in anger. At least she wasn’t angry with me for once, which meant I could fully appreciate how hot she looked when she was angry. She got angry if I started staring at her when she was angry at me. Now though, all her attention was on Sirius so I could look to my heart’s content...

She turned around to glare at me.

Damn.

“Okay, tell us when you think she started to go a bit...weird,” Remus said, before Sirius could bite back with some other harsh comment.

“She’s always been a bit weird, to be honest, and I don’t think for a minute that any of us know what’s really going on,” Lily said, wringing her hands, which she always did when she was the slightest bit frustrated. I wondered what had got her mad. She definitely wasn’t very angry, but she was far from her normal content, happy self. “She’s like a time bomb about to go off any minute and it just seems like that time has got a lot closer nowadays.”

“Yes, yes, I do know Mary,” Sirius snapped. “How about you talk about recently, since Christmas?” Sirius suggested patronisingly.

“She started avoiding me at the end of the first week back. I thought it was just because she was spending more time with you and then I realised that she really wasn’t. I tried talking to her about and she yelled at me -”

“What exactly did she yell at you?”

“She said ‘For Merlin’s sake Lily will you just butt the hell out of my life? I know you have a helping-people complex but that doesn’t mean people want to let you anywhere near their problems with a barge pole because your life is a load of shit and you can’t even take your own advice. You want to help me? Leave me alone and find someone who gives a shit!’ or something along those lines,” Lily said with her expression pained. It worried me how she’d obviously memorised every word Mary had apparently said – and they weren’t exactly very nice words.  “That was the first argument.”

“The second?” Sirius prompted.

“No wonder your sister calls you a freak, you are a bloody freak if you think I actually want to talk to you. Just leave me alone, okay?” Lily quoted, looking even more pained.

“The third?” I suggested.

“It’s a good thing you don’t want children because at least there won’t be another generation subjected to your stupid, sodding...”

“Stupid, sodding...?” Remus questioned.

“Well I don’t know, because I slapped her round the face at that point,” Lily said, sounding a bit regretful this time. It seemed to me like Mary had deserved a lot worse.

“That doesn’t sound very Mary-like,” Sirius said after a few minutes. “They sound a bit... rehearsed.”

Remus nodded, but I honestly didn’t know her well enough to be able to tell.

“She’s not normally half as bitchy,” Lily admitted. “Not at all. That’s why I’ve been so worried, as well as her dreams...”

“Her dreams?”

“You know she has dreams about stuff. Like past memories and things. Well I swear every night I’ve woken up and heard her either crying, or tossing and turning in her bed. I don’t know... it’s weird.  She has a Penseive that Dumbledore gave her to help with it. So I asked Nate what was wrong -?”

“She has a pensive?” I asked. “Couldn’t we just... nick it and then we’d know everything that was going on?” I asked.

“No!” Lily said indignantly. “She’d kill you and I wouldn’t blame her. You can’t do that. You can’t just look through someone’s memories without permission it’s such a... violation.”

“Sorry,” I said, suddenly feeling guilty. “I didn’t mean... it’s just...”

“It’s fine James. I suppose you wouldn’t understand how secretive she is.”

“You asked Nate?” Sirius asked. “What did Nate say?”

“He was really confused. She hasn’t been to see him either. He thought it was just because she’d been closer to us recently and he was really worried when I asked him. He went to go find her. He knows something, obviously, but he said he couldn’t tell me because of ‘confidentiality’. He did say I’d understand soon enough though.”

“Maybe it’s her blood condition thing?” I suggested, remembering her mentioning it.

“I’ve always thought there’s something fishy about that,” Lily sighed.

“She once told me that it meant she couldn’t have children,” Sirius said, and we all thought about this for a second. I couldn’t imagine that: knowing at sixteen that you’d never ever be able to have children. I couldn’t imagine a future without having children, but surely she couldn’t be worried about that yet...?

There was a sudden rapping at the window and Sirius jumped up and said “Owl,” unnecessarily. He pulled up the window a little more to allow space for the owl to come in. It was a small snowy white owl, which I instantly recognised as Lily’s owl ‘Prongs’. I wondered how angry she’d be once she realised she’d named her owl after me and her cat after Sirius. I figured it was worth it for the kick we got out of knowing that all their pets were named after us and they didn’t even know it.

Although Remus hadn’t found the fact that Alice’s jet black owl was called ‘Moony’ funny in the slightest, no matter how much we laughed about it. For the first week we’d been making constant jokes about how Lily was stroking Pads. How Pads was sitting in Mary’s lap. How Moony was carrying Alice’s letters and nibbling Alice’s fingers. The novelty had worn off a little now, a month later.

“Hello Prongs,” Lily said, stroking his head. “Aren’t you gorgeous?” she said. I exchanged a look with Sirius and despite the situation he smiled at me and raised his eyebrows. “What have you got for me?” she asked in the way that all girls talk to animals (which is stupid and completely mad). “Leg up!” Lily said, and this time me and Sirius started laughing. “Prongsie, leg up please.”

Even Remus found the comic value in this, and Peter was laughing along with the rest of us (although I think he was a little gutted that none of the pets were called Wormtail – but really, who calls an owl Wormtail?).

“Oh, it’s from my Mum. She never writes,” Lily said nervously, pulling the letter from the Owl’s leg and unfolding it. It was on real muggle paper and written in a weird type of pen.

“Would you like to stroke Prongs?” Sirius asked Remus seriously. “Prongs likes it when you stroke him. Or when you tickle his chin.” We were all finding it very hard not to completely crack up, but it seemed rude whilst Lily was trying to read her letter. “Oh!” Sirius said, in a very girly fashion. “Prongs just bit my finger! You naughty thing!”

Then we were all laughing so hard we couldn’t breathe and Lily’s owl looked indignant and ruffled his feathers.

“Looks just like you mate,” Remus said, which only made us laugh harder.

I caught sight of Lily’s face and fell silent. She’d turned completely white and her eyes were welling up a little. She wasn’t going to cry – she rarely cried – but she looked so shocked and upset that all the humour of the situation was sucked out of the room.

“Lily?” I asked softly, putting a hand on her shoulder gently. I half expected her to brush my hand off her violently and start screaming at me for being such an insensitive prat but she didn’t. Her eyes were still fixed on the letter – reading as if her life depended on it – and slowly turned whiter. “What is it Lily?” I asked, and she looked up at me as if she’d only just realised there were other people in the room. She clutched the letter tight in her hands and her knuckles were turning white.

“It’s my Dad,” she said, so softly it didn’t even seem to be coming from her mouth. “He’s had a heart attack.”

Then she was stood up and running for the door, and I had a feeling one of the tears had escaped down her face. She was flying down the stairs before any of us could say anything else.

“What’s a heart attack?” Sirius asked softly.

“I think it means his heart stopped beating,” Remus said, seeming stunned. “Because of a blockage or something, and usually part of the heart dies...”

Even though I knew nothing of biology I knew that part of the heart dying was not a good thing, and I ran my fingers through my hair worriedly.

“Go James,” Sirius said, and I looked at him in surprise. “Go see that she’s okay,” he said, as if it was obvious.

“She needs someone to be there for her – and Mary hasn’t exactly been available as of late,” Remus said.

“Now’s your big chance,” Sirius said, and I had a feeling it was more to get me out the door than anything else, but I’d frozen suddenly certain that anything I said or did would make it worse.

“But I’ll say something wrong!” I protested.

“James – go,” Sirius ordered, in a voice I couldn’t ignore. I stood up, my legs feeling shaky as I walked towards the door. “And quickly or you’ll never find her.”

Then I was also running down the stairs and flying into the strangely bright and cheerful common room. “Hey, kid. Which way did the redhead go?” I asked, and he pointed out of the common room and to the left. I nodded and hurried after her.

********

“Hey,” I said softly, as I pushed open the door of the disused classroom (everything happens in a disused classroom, I swear) and walked over to where she was sat. It was a room just off the library that I’d never noticed before, with four long tables which meant I couldn’t quite decide what it could possibly have been used for.

It took me by surprise to see her sat on one of the tables hunched over and staring at the floor. I wasn’t sure what I’d expected but this definitely wasn’t it. My head was spinning slightly as I walked over to where she was sat, and took a seat next to her.

She was looking at her feet, so I followed her lead and looked at her feet too (although I would have preferred looking at any of her other body parts). I couldn’t quite decide what to do that wouldn’t make her start yelling at me for being an inconsiderate prat or something, so I just sat there in silence and looked at her feet.

Her feet were actually quite small, as feet go. Then I suppose I don’t think I’d have expected anything more: Lily was dainty, even with her fiery temperament.

“I suppose it’s a good thing that we won the lottery,” Lily sniffed, and I briefly remembered her mentioning something about them winning. I decided just to listen and let her talk before saying anything as I’d say the wrong thing. She’d probably get into her ranting stride in a minute and then I could just sit and nod at the right time. “As he won’t be able to work for awhile, and we can hardly downsize anymore.”

She was silent for a few minutes and her body was shaking a little, but she still wasn’t really crying. “It’s just... he doesn’t deserve to have a heart attack. I know no one does, but he really doesn’t. I just didn’t expect it. It’s so unfair. We need him to work so we can afford to live and Mum already works three different jobs. She was going to give up waitressing with this new money but now I guess she’ll have to up the hours she does. But – oh God – what would happen if he’d died?! What with Petunia’s wedding and... Everything.”

“Yeah,” I said, my mouth dry because really I felt I had to say something. Then she turned to look at me as if realising my presence for the first time.

“Oh James, I’m so mean to you – I’m horrid – why did you come after me?”

“Lily, you’re hardly horrid. I don’t think you could be horrid if you tried,” I assured her, nudging her slightly with my shoulder.

And that’s all it took for her to start properly, properly crying.

God.

She looked so beautiful I almost couldn’t breathe. Her cheeks barely even flushed and her mascara was running down her face in streams – all I wanted to do was hold her until she cried out every last bit of pain just because she looked so vulnerable. So I did, I wrapped my arms around her tiny body and let her sob into my chest.

I couldn’t help but notice that she fit perfectly, and I wished that I could really appreciate this moment. Instead I was so worried about her being okay that I could hardly enjoy this little victory.

She was saying something but I could only catch a few random words through her sobs. Some that seemed to make sense: ‘Mary’ ‘My sister’ ‘War’ ‘Muggleborn’ and other random things that I couldn’t make sense of: ‘New robes’ ‘Weddings’ ‘Sticks’ and ‘Spinners End.’

I figured it didn’t matter if I had no idea what she was talking about, as long as it seemed like I was listening, and I was there for her. It was good for her to get it all out.

After a few minutes of sobbing she stopped and moved away from me. She wiped her eyes, smudging her make up even more over her face, and sniffed, which should have been slightly repulsive but made her endearing, vulnerable and somehow wonderful.

“Oh God. I shouldn’t have come to this room of all places,” she said, glancing around but still resting her head on my shoulder slightly. “Too many memories,” she said grimly, and I just looked at her carefully and let my mind wander a little.

“What are you thinking about?” she asked, looking up at me startled.

I knew I could answer with the easy answer of ‘you’, but I didn’t think she would appreciate it all that much and she’d probably yell at me for being corny and insensitive.

“I’ve just imagined comforting you when you were crying so many times, but I’d never thought it would hurt so much to see you upset,” I answered truthfully, and Lily smiled in spite of herself and looked up at me.

“Sometimes I think I may have been wrong about you,” Lily said, looking up at me with her big, beautiful green eyes and internally I was screaming in excitement. She admitted she was wrong. She was practically asking me to marry her – not yet maybe – but it’s all in good time. “Then you always go prove that I’m right.”

I imagined our children running around outside and playing on toy broomsticks in the garden and I tried very hard not to grin.

I looked at her – right into her green eyes and willed her to understand how much I really cared about her. She stared right back and the whole world just seemed to stop. She was still leaning on my shoulder, which meant we were so close that I could feel her breathing in and out... the moment was so intense that I just had to break it before I did something stupid or blurted out some nonsense.

“Are you okay?” I asked, and her eyes flashed with what looked to be, or I hoped to be, disappointment.

“Yeah,” she said, looking back towards her feet. “He’ll be okay. They’ve stabilised him and everything – it was just a bit of a shock.”

“I don’t mean just that. I mean everything. Seems like Mary and Snape ditching you hasn’t exactly left you with many confidants.”

“I’ve got Alice,” Lily protested.

“I know, but you deserve so much more than that. If the world was fair Snape wouldn’t be on the road to becoming a death eater and Mary wouldn’t be treating you so badly. It’s not fair that you should be stuck with me whilst they’re stuck too much in their own lives to -”

“It’s not so bad,” Lily said, looking back up at me again.

“What isn’t?”

“Being stuck with you,” she said, and the moment from before returned and settled over us. I wouldn’t be the one to break it this time. I’d hold myself in this position till the end of the world if that’s what it took.

I took in every detail of her face: the exact curve of her nose, every single freckle, her hairline the exact way her eyelashes had been separated...

She broke the moment first, not by suddenly asking some stupid question, but by leaning forward and pressing her lips against mine.

I’d only ever kissed her once before and I could vividly remember the exact way her lips had parted in surprise when I’d  kissed her on new year’s eve.

Her lips pressed against mine ever so softly and I thought for a moment that she would pull away but instead she continued it, and I made a note to always remember this moment to tell the kids about the first time their mother willingly kissed me...

“You better prove me wrong Potter,” she threatened, breaking away for a second but still being close enough so that I could feel her lips forming every word through the air.

“Oh I will,” I assured her, pulling her back towards me...

**********

“She’s okay,” I said, entering the common room and sitting back down in the circle.

“Of course she is, Lily Evans is invincible,” Sirius said. “I hate to admit you’re right James, but if want someone who’s strong you definitely picked a good one.”

I wasn’t so used to Sirius being so flattering about Lily’s behaviour and it made me wonder what exactly they’d been talking about whilst I wasn’t there. I had a feeling it wasn’t the weather.

“And if you like the mysteriously strange emotionally unstable types then you’ve struck gold,” I assured Sirius, who scowled. 

“See, I wondered if it was the purple hair, but then she changed the colour again,” Pete added

“Or the fact that she’s crap at magic – big turn on.”

“Well we all know that’s not true or Lily would be all over you,” Sirius retorted.

“It’s not the magic skill? What about the Quidditch talent?” I asked. “Cracking flyer.”

“Till she realises she’s scared of heights,” Pete continued.

“I think it’s something to do with her being pale as a ghost,” I continued, enjoying this verbal attack and feeling that it was fair pay back for the Lily quoting.

“Okay – shut up,” Sirius snapped.

“In fairness she has got big...” Pete continued, but stopped when he saw Sirius had his wand out.

“All of you are single,” Sirius pointed out. “So you can’t talk.”

“Ahh, but you are soon-to-be-single,” I said, clapping Sirius on the back.

“Enough!” Remus yelled. “Let’s stay on task, please.”

“What’s the task?” I asked, taking a bottle of what appeared to be pumpkin juice (but probably wasn’t).

“Sort out my relationship,” Sirius said dryly. “And we should save these as I am penniless, it’s Pete’s birthday soon, and you don’t get any more pocket money till March.”

“It’s not pocket money. It’s an allowance.”  

“I think you should just ask her what’s wrong,” Remus said, ignoring my comment and speaking directly to Sirius. “Corner her and make her tell you why she’s being so...”

“No,” I countered. “Don’t do that. She’ll just get defensive and run off before she’s answered your question. You need to get her attention first.”

“And how am I supposed to do that?” Sirius asked, sighing and closing his eyes in frustration.

“Erm...”

“God why can’t she just be simple!” Sirius complained. “She could just be like a normal girl instead of leaving me wondering if she even cares most of the time. It’s like... half the time I feel like she’s just...” We’d all gone silent. It’s a very rare occasion when Sirius starts talking about his feelings. “Like she doesn’t even care.”

“What do you mean?” I asked, not really following. Surely she wouldn’t have agreed to go out with him if she didn’t care about him?

“Like... when she came to the dorm in the middle of the night one time because she needed cheering up.  She knew that I’d be willing to sit and talk to her, even if I was mad at her. So she woke me up and got me to make her feel better – get your mind out of the gutter James,” Sirius added before I could make any comment.

“What’s wrong with that then?” I asked, as I’d already opened my mouth.

“She used me to make herself feel better!”

“Well what’s wrong with that?” I asked again.

“Oh forget it,” Sirius said, rolling his eyes and looking up at the ceiling.

“No, I just don’t understand. Explain.”

“It’s like I’m just there to make her feel better, and it doesn’t matter that it’s me, it just matters that I’m there. Then when I stop being of use to her she’ll just run off and ditch me, because she doesn’t care about me. I want to be there for her but...”

“But...?” I asked.

“I feel like I care a lot more about her than she does about me, and I really miss her. It hasn’t affected her at all and...” Sirius trailed off and took another drink from his bottle.

“Do you love her?” Remus asked, and Sirius muttered something inaudible that sounded like a mixture between a stream of swear words and hexes. Remus dropped it and changed the topic. “You know what your problem is?”

“Mary?” Sirius suggested sarcastically, although his voice was muffled as he was resting his face in his hands.

“You’re insecure.”

I looked at Remus as if he’d grown another head and Sirius looked up at him in surprise. I don’t think anyone had been expecting a comment like that from the fountain of all knowledge (A.K.A. Remus). “No really,” Remus said, to all our surprised expressions. “She came to you in the middle of the night when she was upset.”

“Your point...?”

“She decided to come to you – not Lily, not Nate and not anyone else. Even though you’d had an argument. She wanted your company. Of course she cares about you! People use each other – that’s what they do. You’re using us for advice. We’re using you to provide us with company.”

“And alcohol,” I added in helpfully.

“You’re using Mary because she makes you happy, and because you talk to her about things and she understands. You’re using Mary to have someone there to hold. You’re being stupid if you think that this whole thing is one sided.”

“But -”

“No. Come on Sirius – Mary’s smart and you have a reputation. She knew the risks involved in dating you, considering you screwed over one of her friends, and she knew you a lot better than any of those other girls. She wouldn’t have gone anywhere near you with a barge pole unless she cared about you.”

“I just wish I had some proof,” Sirius muttered, very decidedly not looking at anyone.                            

“I am your fairy God mother!” I proclaimed, jumping to my feet. “I have an idea,” I elaborated when they looked a little confused.

“No,” Remus said, shaking his head and also standing up. “You should never take relationship advice from this dolt. He’s been chasing the same girl for four years and only succeeded in making her hate him.”

“Where as your relationship with Alice is going brilliantly right now?” I countered.

“At least she actually dated me.”

“But she’s not anymore, because you ruined it! You ruin relationships. Take my advice Sirius!”

“Are you two really the only options? I might as well just burn my suit now. There is no way I’m going to end up going to this wedding,” Sirius sighed.

“We should go on who had the last snog.”

“It doesn’t count if you shoved your tongue down her throat on New Year’s Eve, which means I win.”

“Actually I was last snogged...” I glanced at my watch for effect. “Oh, ten minutes ago...”

“Who did you drug?”

“Funny. Anyway, I can’t help it if Miss Lily Evans finds me irresistible.”

“So it was a sympathy snog,” Remus said, with an eyebrow raised. “You know she’ll probably pull of your balls tomorrow for that. Taking advantage of her father lying in hospital, dying of a heart attack...”

“Sod off Moony. Tomorrow you might still have balls but you’ll be transforming into a werewolf so...”

“Fuck you.”

“Oh touchy. Wrong time of the month?”

“Shut up James. Stop being a prat and tell me your master plan,” Sirius said, sighing. “Oh, and apologise. Both of you.”

“Sorry,” I said dutifully, feeling a little bit bad (werewolf comments are also off limits).

“Sorry,” Remus replied. He didn’t look happy though, and instead of rejoining the circle he walked over to his bed and pulled out a book that he began to read.  Whoops.

“Sorry!” I called out again hopefully, but he ignored me.

“Ignore him. I’m running out of time here and none of you are being particularly helpful.”

“Oh right, okay so you want to see if she cares right? But if you approach her with anything she’ll probably refuse to listen and disappear off somewhere. You just need to get a reaction from her then she’ll have to stay and talk to you. So you go up to her under the invisibility cloak, appear in front of her and before she can say anything you say ‘I want a break’ no – don’t interrupt. Then if she cares she’ll react. Then if that doesn’t work carry on saying even more things that will get her mad like ‘I cheated on you’ then if she’s still not reacting add ‘with your best friend’ or something.”

“Why would she believe that?” Remus asked, cutting in again.

“Because she’ll be mad and won’t be thinking straight. It doesn’t have to be realistic. She’ll be too mad to make her see sense.”

“And this is going to help because...?”

“Sirius will know that she cares and she can’t deny the fact that she does and will have to listen to you. She might yell but you can make things up and it’ll be back to normal by tomorrow for the wedding.”

“That’s crap,” Remus said, shaking his head. “That’s complete crap.”

“Let’s take a vote,” I said, because Sirius seemed unsure. “I vote that my idea is brilliant. Bear in mind that I have read over thirty books on how to get girls. Anyone else?”

Peter put his hand up too and I smiled in satisfaction.

“If you do what he says then you’re a complete idiot,” Remus told Sirius desperately.

“He has to!” I said, completely confident at that second that it was going to solve everything.

Sirius stood up slowly and look resigned to his fate. “So I’m telling my girlfriend that I cheated on her to get her to listen to me?” he asked, before turning away and muttering something that sounded a lot like ‘fuck my life’. He grabbed the cloak off the floor and picked up the map. “Wish me luck,” Sirius muttered, pulling the cloak around him and leaving the dorm.

“You’re an idiot!” Remus snapped in my direction. “If you ruin their relationship then it’s all your fault,” he said, before pulling back his hangings and continuing reading. A pang of nervousness jolted through me for the first time – what if I was wrong? I stuffed my hand in my pocket to pull out the Snitch before remembering that I didn’t have it anymore.

Thinking about it, it was pretty shit advice... There was too much left to chance and if she didn’t stick around to listen to him then... Then she might really think that Sirius had cheated on her, with Lily of all people...

 I glanced at the door and wondered when Sirius was going to come back – it was going to be a long night.

************

The door opened with a bang which caused Pete to jump up in surprise and squeal. Sirius threw the cloak off him and made straight for the bathroom where he slammed the door behind him. I resisted the urge to yell ‘How did it go?’ at the door and stayed silent as the shower turned on.

Oops.

God.

Remus was right. I had actually ruined this whole relationship thing and I had to do something. My stupid idea spawned off Lily just kissing me and trying to get one up on Remus and the result...  I may have accidently gotten Sirius to tell Mary that he was cheating on her. When he wasn’t. I discarded the exploding snap cards we’d been playing and sat down on my bed

Fuck.

 I had to fix this... As much as I could.

*************

“Lily?” I called, and she turned around in surprise. I sat down next to her where she was working. “Look, I may have done something stupid and accidently made Sirius do something even more stupid. You know Mary right? Well, I need your help because I need to fix this whole thing right now because it’s all my fault and I feel a little bad. So, what do you think he should do? And you’re not going to pull my balls off are you?”

“Why?” she asked, looking up at me in surprise.

“Doesn’t matter. But you know how good you are at helping people? Can you pretty please help me?” I batted my eyelashes for good measure, and she laughed. “Because I can tell that Sirius really cares about her, and really if you -”

“Yes James, I’ll help you,” she said, sighing. “I’ve been thinking and... I think she’s trying to push everyone away. I don’t know why, but that’s what’s she’s doing. She’s waiting for us to get fed up and forget about her.”

God. Now she thinks both Sirius and Lily betrayed her (if he actually used my advice which he should never, never do) but... that’s not good.

“James, what did you do?”

I swallowed, knowing that she was definitely going to hate me forever, but knowing that I had to do this to at least try and fix things a little bit. I subconsciously ruffled up my hair and Lily pulled my hand down to my side and looked up at me expectantly. She was so wonderful and perfect, and she was going to hate me...

“Well, it’s like this...”

******************

So my advice hadn’t gone as badly as it could have. Which wasn’t saying much.

Mary’s response had been to say ‘okay’ and nothing more. Sirius’ response was to get slightly drunk, and go on, and on, and on about it. Fortunately, Lily’s response to my admission was much better. Of course it was, she’s Lily freaking Evans!

After a little creative thinking, and some very impressive magic, Lily had cleared the common room of everyone but Mary, and then found an excuse to go to bed. I approached Sirius with the Marauder’s map, and pointed out to him that Mary was alone.

He looked up at me briefly, and I wondered if he was a little too tipsy to save his relationship right now, but then he straightened up and a little of the old Sirius crept into his eyes. A steely look spread across his face, and he stood and arranged himself properly before heading downstairs.

I checked the Marauder’s Map and saw the two of them next to each other, and I watched for a minute to see if they would carry on talking (while listening closely, to see if I could hear yelling from down the stairs). I glanced at Lily’s dot for a second, smiled and whispered ‘mischief managed.’


A/N - Hello and welcome to AC rule's authors note. Did you like this chapter? If so, she'll never know unless you scroll down and write it in the box... just a simple 'yes' if not she'll never know unless you scroll down and write... 'no.' (You can write more words if you so wish, and I hope you do wish to but revision is driving my crazy, as you can see, and some nice reviews would certainly brighten up my days...) Reviews? :)

ALSO  
susemi!! LOOK HERE! Right, sorry about the pathetic excuse of a responce to you review which makes me seem very big headed on the chapter before the last... for some reason my computer cut off the end of the responce which is really annoying.... but I did write more! 

Okay that's me over and out. See you next chapter (it's an exciting one... ;) ) I, personally, can't wait :)


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