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Charcoal and Paint by ExquisiteAmethyst
Chapter 9 : And Then The Two Art Students Experience The Indescribable Arrival Of Sirius Black
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 14


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James Potter:



Prongsie –

I’m coming to your house tomorrow! Thank Merlin, I’m about ready to go completely mental on this place. I lived as a dog for three days straight just to restrain myself from attempting to unlock the door.

Turns out, even with paws, I’m perfectly capable of unlocking doors. Funny, yeah?

I know you’ll probably be at art class when I get to your place, but I’ll just hang around until you come home. And don’t forget – Tuesday is the full moon. Moony expects us round six.

Have you made up a bogus story for your parents yet?

And we’ll tag team Moony about McKinnon. I haven’t brought it up yet, but with both of us intimidating him we should be able to make him admit defeat. Can Evans give us any more details about the whole sordid affair?

See you tomorrow, mate!

Padfoot


It was late Friday evening, and after a rather trying day of clay and small sculptures, James was more than pleased to get a letter from his best mate. Being separated from Sirius was always hard. They were more brothers than friends, and James missed living with the one person who understood him best in the world.

He seized a quill and a rather tatty piece of parchment, and penned a quick reply:

Padfoot –

I’ll try and get home early from art class. I dunno what the assignment will be yet, but hopefully I can either skive off or do a less-then-exemplary job. Lily won’t care, and Mrs. Briarwood doesn’t have any say in the matter.

I’ll make a story for my parents, and I’ll ask Lily more about McKinnon. By the way, she’s a fairly decent person. If you get past the prefect, she’s rather . . . interesting. You know how Remus does those dry, sarcastic, witty comments that sometimes neither of us can understand? That’s her forte. She’s funny when she’s not strung out on stress.

Anyways, you’ll get to know her while you’re here. She knows you’re coming. Don’t be a git, yeah?

See you tomorrow!

Prongs



Henry VIII, once he carried the letter, was chucked rather violently out the window. James’ irritation with the clay was obviously not gone yet. The puffed-up bird would be angry with him for that little undeserved stunt.

James fell asleep quickly that night, exhausted from the stupid clay and eager for the following morning. Images of Henry VIII tumbling through the air and miniature clay werewolves dominated his dreams.

When he woke, late as usual, he bounded out of bed and dressed quickly. He shoved an apple in his mouth, grabbed his bag, shouted a muffled goodbye to his mum, and skidded out onto his brilliantly green lawn.

“Sirius is coming today!” he shouted to no one in particular, his feet hurrying down the sidewalk in a particularly giddy manner. He chucked his apple into a neighbor’s hedge as he passed it by, ignoring the indignant shout that naturally followed.

Mrs. Briarwood, predictably, greeted him with a condescending grunt and a short, “You’re late, Potter.”

“Good morning to you too, my dear Mrs. Briarwood,” he bowed to her, “how are you this fine, beautiful day?”

She stared at him, harrumphed, and then turned on her heel and stormed to the opposite side of the room.

James whistled to himself as he strolled over to where Lily was sitting. He heaved his bag on the table, threw himself on the tall stool, and grinned at her, “Hello.”

“Hi,” she raised an eyebrow at him.

“I’m in a ridiculously good mood this morning,” he informed her.

She raised both eyebrows, “You don’t say?”

“Tell me we’re painting,” he glanced around at the younger students around them, “what are we doing? Do you know yet? Do we have a separate assignment?”

“No, I have no idea, and I hope so,” a faint smirk danced at the corners of Lily’s lips, “may I ask, what illegal substance did you manage to successfully inject into yourself this morning?”

James shrugged, “Dunno. But Sirius is coming today!”

“Black?” Lily quizzically pushed her hair behind her ears, “is he staying with you?”

“Yep,” he beamed, “until Wednesday, at least. The ministry finally let him out of his flat. He’ll torment the muggles, flirt with the local girls, play a prank or two on my parents, and then we’re going to visit Remus on Tuesday.”

Lily cocked her head, “Is he still a prat, or is there substance behind the man whore?”

“Substance,” James confirmed, “but don’t take it hard if he teases you a bit. He’s a jokester, yeah? I told him you’re decent, but he’ll still try and bring out the prefect we all know and love inside you.”

She shrugged, “Okay. I’ll put him in his place.”

James, although he was deeply loyal to his best mate and would never abandon him or betray him for anything, had to concede that Lily would probably manage to verbally compete with Sirius in a battle of the insults.

“Quiet!” Mrs. Briarwood thundered.

The murmurs ceased, and James tapped his foot anxiously as he watched his art teacher.

“Today you will be continuing your clay work,” Mrs. Briarwood lectured, her deep voice reverberating in the deathly silent room, “all of your items were fired last night, and today you need to paint them. Materials, as always, are on the shelves. Any messes made must be cleaned up immediately. I expect every item to be painted and on the in-progress shelf by four o’clock.”

An uncertain silence pervaded the room. Mrs. Briarwood flapped her stout arms about, “Get to work! Now!”

The younger students frantically leapt up, and she rolled her eyes in frustration. Then, as was the custom, she stomped over to where Lily and James were not so patiently awaiting orders.

“Mosaics,” she growled, “both of you need one for your portfolio. Glass, mirror, and pottery fragments are in the bin by the door. Glue and twenty-by-twenty centimeter tiles are on the materials shelves. I don’t care what you choose to depict, but it cannot be abstract. When you’re finished take a picture of it for your portfolio and clean your bloody mess up.”

“Got it!” James gave her the thumbs up. Lily just nodded.

Mrs. Briarwood glared at the pair of them, and then tramped over to shout at a twelve-year-old that was laughing too loudly.

“You get the tiles and glue, I’ll get the bin?” James proposed.

Lily shrugged, “Sure.”

Thirty minutes later, James successfully glued his first fragment to his oatmeal-colored ceramic tile. “Aha!” he exclaimed excitedly.

Lily glanced at his tile, and then smirked, “Figured out how to use the glue properly, eh Potter?”

“Too right I have,” he beamed proudly, “now, only eighty-four more to go.”

She shook her head as she pressed a blue pottery fragment down with her thumb, “Why are you doing such small pieces?”

“Cause this takes detail,” he picked up a tiny blue splinter, “why are you using such large pieces?”

“I’m not,” she grinned, “I’m using normal sized pieces. Yours are practically microscopic. You’re going to need magnifying glasses and enlargement charms just to see the angles.”

“Yeah, yeah,” he struggled gluing only one side of the splinter, “well yours look pretty damn big to me. Almost as if you were cheating by using six-year-old bits.”

“Don’t be a git.”

“Oh but please, continue being a bitch.”

Lily threw the glue cap at him. He hid a smile, and continued with the intricate pattern he had planned for his tile.

When he had retrieved the bin for his and Lily’s use, he had noticed a small, uniquely shaped crimson fragment of glass at the very top. Though vaguely circular at the top, it splayed down and to the side, like a comma. To him, it looked like long, red, windblown hair. Instantly after noticing it, an ocean scene had sketched itself into his head. A girl, standing on a rather cloudy and somber beach, her hair blown to the side, watched the rolling gray waves in his head. James had penciled it in as quickly as he could.

That particularly inspirational fragment – which he had snatched up immediately after reaching the table – was the first to be glued on to his tile.

Lily, meanwhile, had sketched in a scene James was long familiar with. The lake at Hogwarts, with its crystalline depths and encroaching Forbidden Forrest, was quickly being tiled in. The castle of course was not present, but the landscape was beautiful all the same.

“Glass works well for water,” she noted absently.

James picked up a piece of blue glass, and experimentally placed it where the ocean should be. He grinned, “Too right it does.”

The minutes passed by in companionable silence. Although the younger students jabbered constantly, and could not possibly grasp the meaning of quiet concentration, Lily and James managed to create a bubble of hushed absorption. James tuned out the meaningless chatter and melded his entire focus to his work.

“Can you help me a minute, James?” Lily murmured after an hour or so of silent labor.

He finished gluing a small square before he looked up, “Sure. With what?”

Lily was sitting cross-legged on her tall stool, her elbow on the table and her chin in her hand. Her other hand was resting by her tile, which was already a third of the way completed. “I can’t get the right color shade for the bit of rock on the outer edge of the lake,” she pointed at it, “beige looks fake, while gray looks dreary and unrealistic.”

James moved his hand forward, “May I?” She nodded, and he turned the tile towards himself.

Of course the original sketch was utterly flawless, and of course Lily was working perfectly from the upper left hand corner downwards. While James attached fragments sporadically to the surface, creating a much more jumbled and chaotic effect, Lily systematically and carefully moved in a sweeping pattern across the tile. Because she was right handed, she had started on the upper left hand side so as not to accidentally move or smear already glued fragments.

The scene itself was pristine. The mountains and sky were beautiful, despite the jagged edges, and Lily had used small splinters of various shades of green glass and pottery for the thick pine trees. The trunks were all of normal, brown pottery clay. Lily had even begun to do the lake with blue glass, but had faltered when she had reached the colorless rocks on the outer edges.

“I just can’t find the right material,” Lily explained unhappily.

James nodded, his eyes on the tile, “Yeah, I understand. It’s tricky.”

He glanced over at the bin of scrap material, which was imposing in its vastness. He picked up a bit of gray ceramic, light brown glass, and seashell colored earthenware. Like Lily said, the gray looked completely fake and the brown glass tacky and dull. The seashell colored earthenware just looked like an enormous lumpy seashell.

“Blimey,” he said, stumped.

“See? It’s a right bugger.”

James fingered a few other stray pieces of mosaic material, and then leaned over and thoroughly inspected the bin. From the corner of his eye he spotted a small cache of odd, grayish brown pottery fragments.

He scooped the entire section up, and carefully let it fall beside Lily’s workspace. Then, beaming, he fit one into a ‘rock’ place, where it looked authentic. Like a true gentleman, he turned the tile back towards Lily and sought her approval.

“Brilliant!” Lily’s eyes sparkled, “thanks!”

James smirked, “Don’t thank me yet. Its your turn to help me.”

Amused, Lily tilted her head, “What’s your issue?”

“The clouds,” James made a face.

“May I?” Lily asked, reaching forward to turn around his tile.

James chuckled at the imitation of his own movement previously, “Go right ahead.”

Like him, she inspected the tile for a moment before acting. Then she beamed and dug through the bin until she found what she was looking for.

“Here,” she set a creamy, hazy white glass fragment on the tile, “there’s a ton of these, but they’re scattered. You’re going to have to really look for them.”

He eyed the piece, and abruptly decided it was absolutely perfect, “Brilliant – thanks!”

“Don’t mock me,” she narrowed her eyes.

“You mocked me first,” he countered impishly.

“So technically, I win,” she winked.

Baffled, James tried to come up with something to counteract her unassailable logic. Nothing came to mind. Irritated, he stuck his hand in the bin and tried to find more of the hazy white pieces for his sky.

He found a grand total of four of them, and sighed. Lily had already glued all of her rock pieces onto her tile. He was due to finish around six o’clock the following morning at the rate he was going. Sirius would go stir crazy and quite possibly murder his parents, Mimzy, and the next-door neighbors before James arrived home to stop him.

“OUCH!” he shouted suddenly. He pulled his hand out of the bin and cradled his index finger, from which blood was quickly pooling.

Lily looked up, alarmed, “What happened?”

“I’m wounded!” he held his hand out for her frantically.

Spatters of blood dripped across the table, and one hit Lily’s tile. He winced at that. She paid it no mind, though, and hurriedly ripped off a strip of fabric from the glue apron she was wearing and wound it around his finger.

“Sonovabi . . .” James struggled for words, trying not to swear too badly in front of the younger students, “bloody, good-for-nothing, smug bin of sharp objects!”

Lily sighed, “There’s too much blood. C’mon, lets go wash it off.”

Cursing under his breath, James followed her out of the room. She avoided the huge sink in the studio because it was crowded with small kids trying to wash off their paintbrushes. Instead, she led him to the boys’ bathroom, opened the door, and marched inside.

He hesitated, gripping his finger.

“Come on,” she rolled her eyes.

“But . . . this is the blokes’ room,” he said weakly.

“Do you usually use the ladies’ room?” she asked sarcastically.

James glanced around, and then ducked inside and hurriedly shut and locked the door behind him.

“Give me your hand,” Lily ordered. She stood by the sink and made him put his index finger under the faucet. He bit his tongue and bounced slightly, the pain of the water thoroughly vexing him.

“It’s clean,” after a minute she turned off the tap and handed him a paper towel, “hold that for a second, will you? Don’t let it bleed all over the place again.”

He wrapped the paper towel tightly around the cut, and watched as she washed his blood off her hands, forearms, and shirt. Then he glanced around at the urinals, and back to Lily. He was utterly bemused by the entire situation. Why was she in the boys’ bathroom, and why didn’t she seem fazed at all by it?

“Alright,” she dried her hands and pulled her wand out of some mysterious place in her dress, “let me see it.”

He unwrapped it, and held his hand out towards her. Gently, she clasped his wrist and rotated his hand until she could see the cut.

“It got you good,” she remarked.

The cut was about two inches, running down the length of his index finger. Not horrific, but annoying enough to keep him from painting or anything like that for a good amount of time.

Blood was already beginning to swell up again, and she quickly siphoned it away with her wand. “Don’t say a word,” she murmured, “this might feel funny.”

James fused his mouth shut, and watched with wide eyes as she did some complicated wand work and said a few funny words he had never heard before.

The skin began to knit itself back together.

It was the weirdest sensation of his life, apart from transforming into his animagus form, but with immense effort he managed to stay silent. He watched as new, fresh skin developed over the wound. After a few moments, it looked and felt as good as new.

“How did you do that?” he asked, amazed.

She shrugged, “Just a healing spell. Madam Dinglewort taught me.”

James shuddered at the mention of the frighteningly physical Hospital Wing overseer, Madam Dinglewort. He quickly looked at his finger, distracting himself from those menacing thoughts.

He had no idea Lily knew healing spells. She had made his headache ebb before, but this was different. He had seen his skin regenerate and the cut go away. Healing spells were tricky. Obviously, little Miss Evans was more talented than she was letting on.

Lily slipped her wand back into her dress and moved towards the door, “Let’s go. We both have a lot of work to do, and you’re not spilling blood all over the floor any more.”

“Wait,” he reached out and caught her hand before she could unlock the door. She turned around, and he flashed her a crooked smile, “Thanks.”

“You’re welcome,” she smiled, “be more careful next time, alright?”

“I will try, and probably fail to be more careful,” he let her hand go, “but hell, we can always hope, right?”

She laughed and opened the door, “To right, we can.”

Nobody was out in the hallway when they left the loo together. James felt carefree and happy as he followed Lily back into the studio. So caught up was he in his joyous strides that he failed to notice a pair of cold blue eyes watching them from the doorway to the girls’ bathroom.


Lily Evans:



When everyone else in the studio packed up to go home, Lily was not quite finished with her tile. Unsurprisingly, James was not finished either. Mrs. Briarwood had stopped by, given them the usual lecture about locking up the doors and finishing “those bloody projects before I die of old age,” and then left through the back door. The entire studio was now eerily quiet and empty, except for the two artists assiduously working on completing their mosaics.

Lily’s tile had come along nicely. The lake scene was realistic, but edgy due to the jagged edges of the fragmented pottery and glass. It was clean and orderly, but with a dangerous tone. The colors complimented each other and the scene itself seemed to ooze the very essence of Hogwarts.

She found herself missing the enormous, magical castle. She loved summer, and her art class, but with Petunia’s engagement her house did not feel like home. Everything was too chaotic and panicky. She yearned for the simple stress of classes and homework that Hogwarts provided.

“Where’s the bloody glue?” James growled under his breath. Lily absently placed the pot beside him.

He nodded in thanks, and then continued maniacally swiping glue on the surface of his tile and haphazardly slapping fragments on top of that. It was obvious, to Lily at least, that he was anxious to go home. Sirius Black, his best mate, had apparently arrived that morning.

Lily looked down and fit one of her last fragments into the bottom right hand corner of her tile. She was working on a single pine tree, whose needles proved exasperating. Thin, sharp, green glass splinters were complicated to find.

“I’m almost done,” she told James.

“Me too,” he said. She looked over and saw that, indeed, he only had a few more blank places on his tile.

She continued working, and fit the last three fragments in. Then, she sat back and looked at the finished product.

James shoved the glue pot away, “Done!”

“Here, swap,” she pushed her tile towards him, “I can’t look at mine anymore.”

He handed her his tile, and then looked down and inspected hers. She lowered her eyes and scrutinized James’ work.

The focal point of James’ mosaic was easy to see. A redheaded girl, standing on a beach, watching the ocean was his basic design. Her hair, which was the only bright part of the entire mosaic, stood out like white on black. The rest of his fragments were all muted colors, either blues or grays or beiges. Her hair, which twisted and swirled to the side due to an ocean breeze, drew in the viewer’s eye like nothing else could.

Despite rushing, he had done a brilliant job. The randomly placed fragments perfectly symbolized the chaotic and messy nature of the ocean. She was thoroughly impressed.

“This is really good, James.”

“So is yours,” he continued looking at her painting with wide, curious eyes, “its like . . . unreal. Mine’s a right mess. Yours is the lake.”

“Yours would be odd if it wasn’t a right mess,” Lily told him, “your scene is messy. It should be. And mine should be systematical and orderly. So really, we’re both just extraordinarily talented.”

He chuckled, “I’ll second that.”

They began cleaning up their table. James was moving rather excitedly, and had a foolish grin on his face. Lily sighed, “You’re maddeningly happy, aren’t you?”

“Yeah,” he enthusiastically chucked a pile of unused fragments into the bin, “because first of all, Sirius is here, and second, we’re painting tomorrow!”

“Ugh,” Lily vengefully tossed the glue brush in the sink, “ugh to both of those.”

He glanced at her, “C’mon, I’ll help out. It’ll be fine. And besides – if ever you get too irritated, Sirius is here to be abused!”

“I suppose,” she said skeptically.

“No, really,” he smiled at her encouragingly, “remember last time we painted? It was magic. That’ll work again. You’ll be ruddy brilliant! And Sirius is seriously not that bad.”

Lily bit her lip at his joke, but he seemed not to have noticed it. So she simply gave him a rather condescending, cynical twitch of her eyebrows, “I reserve the right to make a fuss about it, even though it will certainly not be as bad as before.”

“Okay,” he shrugged happily and swept off the surface of the table with a rag, “anything else you worried about?”

“No,” Lily picked up both their tiles and carried them to the ‘completed’ shelves, “actually, do you think you could bring in a smock for me tomorrow? I may have lost mine, and not gotten another with the foolish hope I’d never paint again . . .”

James laughed, “Rather optimistic, don’t you think? Course I’ll lend you one. But I reckon you should probably get it tonight because I’m bound to forget.”

She rolled her eyes, “Do you always wake up six seconds before class is due to start?”

“Without fail,” he beamed, “no, but really. You should just come ‘round my place and get it tonight if you’re actually planning on using a smock tomorrow.”

“Alright,” Lily pushed in both their stools and wiped her hands on the rag, “mind if I just walk home with you?”

“Who said anything about walking?” James winked impishly, “In case you’ve forgotten, Lily dear, there are no muggles in sight, I live in a ‘magical’ dwelling, and we are both perfectly capable of apparition.”

Lily placed her hands on her hips, “Excuse me for living in a muggle home, where I’d be beaten to death by my own sister if I so much as dared to display any signs of magic in the house.”

James picked up his bag and held out his arm to her, “Come on, side-along so that you don’t wind up in the bird bath or something of the sort.”

She huffed. Lily hated side-along apparition for a multitude of colorful and diverse reasons. Most of all, it made her feel like a little kid being dragged around by some domineering, powerful adult. She had no control over the process when she was the ‘side-along.’ She had to sit back, grit her teeth, and relinquish all control.

Which was not necessarily her specialty.

“Oh, quit it with the pride,” he chided her, “grab on, now.”

Lily threw him the most scathing, irritated glare she could possibly produce, snatched up her bag, and then grabbed on to his arm with unnecessary harshness. He didn’t even wince, he simply turned on the spot and they both vanished from the art studio.

When Lily opened her eyes after the thoroughly uncomfortable, pitch black, rubber tube like experience, she was staring at the grand foyer of the Potter Estate. She had been there before – it was not quite a new experience – but it always shocked her just the same.

James Potter lived in a world of wealth and opulence that most of the rest of the world could not even hope to imagine. Of course he seemed completely unaware of it, as he was incapable of telling the difference between an aluminum foil wrapped brick and a solid gold bar, but Lily still could not repress that recurring tinge of jealousy. She was not spiteful, simply envious of the style in which he had grown up.

“Come on then, I’m sure Sirius is upstairs,” he beamed with excitement, “as is your smock.”

He bounded up the wide marble staircase, taking it three steps at a time, and ignoring the conveniently placed hand railings. Lily trailed behind, watching his unbridled enthusiasm with bewildered eyes. She tried not to notice the exquisite architecture and beautiful art work inside the Potter Estate. Envy, though a commonly felt emotion for her, was not something she particularly enjoyed.

“Padfoot, Padfoot!” James yelped, skidding around the corner on the uppermost level of the house.

Lily hurried after him, and rounded the corner just in time to hear a frighteningly loud, eager, “PRONGS!”

James was standing approximately two meters in front of her, giddily staring down a long, high-ceilinged hallway. Growing nearer, Sirius Black was sprinting towards both of them.

The two collided with almost alarming force. Lily winced as the two teenage boys fell to the floor, rolling around and laughing uproariously. “Good to see you mate!” Black clapped James on the back.

“You too, you bloody imbecile!” James replied jovially, punching him in the shoulder.

Lily leaned casually against the wall, watching the pair of them with her best disparaging, faintly amused smirk on her face.

“This summer has been ruddy awful!”

“Sodding terrible!”

“Mind-shatteringly dull!”

“Well, not that . . .” James stood up and brushed himself off, and then reached down to give Black a hand.

Black leaped up and casually flipped his long dark hair out of his eyes, “You hear about Wormtail’s accident?”

“Er, no,” James looked concerned.

Black let out a great bark of laughter, “Oh, you’ll love this, then. Pete, being the thick git tosspot he is, tried to trim his eyebrows and shaved the pair of them off! Then, when he tried to grow ‘em back, he cursed his own nose purple and got a big chunk of his hair out of his head! The right moron!”

Lily, against her will, felt her lips twitched. There was something about Peter Pettigrew that was so heartbreakingly pathetic it always made her laugh.

James chuckled, “How d’you know?”

“Ran into him in Diagon Alley,” Black grinned, “he was looking for a healer near Gringotts. I told him that was St. Mungo’s and side-along apparated him there. His parents were at the grocery store or something.”

“Ah, Peter,” James shook his head, “what will he do without us?”

“Kill himself, probably,” Black shrugged.

The pair of them sniggered. Lily raised her eyebrows and continued leaning against the wall, waiting with annoyance to be noticed.

“Have you spoken to dear old Mrs. Black yet, this summer?” James asked.

“No,” Black snorted, “the old hag wrote a howler, but I chose not to reply. And Regulus is being a right git. Keeps showing up at my place, but he doesn’t know what the number is and so he just sort of noses around a bit. The neighbors think he’s a bit dodgy, to be honest.”

“Well, he’s always been just the picture of honesty and good intentions,” James said seriously.

Black rolled his eyes, “To my mother.”

Lily coughed. Loudly.

They both started and turned around. James immediately adopted a sheepish expression while Black looked delighted. “Evans!”

“Black,” she nodded.

He ran up to her and caught her in a hug, swinging her around a bit. “You’re in Prongsie’s house! Finally! You know how bloody long this took? We’ve been waiting years for you to finally get over your pride and start sneaking in here!”

“Sneaking?” she raised an eyebrow, trying to retain her dignity after being swung around like a rag doll.

“Well, yeah,” he beamed, “you were supposed to sneak in here ages ago, to get away from your muggles. Figured you’d enjoy the ‘magic’ or whatnot. But you never showed, so we figured maybe you liked the muggles after all.”

Lily rolled her eyes, “‘The ‘muggles’ are my parents, you git.”

“So? I hate my parents,” Black shrugged, “but no matter! You’re here! And you’re not wearing a tie and a prefects badge!”

Lily glanced down at her glue-spattered, wrinkled art clothes. Her hair was falling in messy red clumps down past her shoulders, and her face was undoubtedly smudged with some type of art supply. She looked the exact opposite from her usual primped, polished, perfect prefect appearance.

“No, I’m not,” she said finally. She felt a hint of awkwardness creeping in.

Black rounded on James, “Do you see this?”

“I do,” James nodded, fighting a smile.

“She looks normal!” Black exclaimed, “scratch that, she looks messy! Human! Evans – you do have a real person inside you!”

“Yet unfortunately, you’ve yet to find the meaningful soul inside the man whore shell,” Lily sighed sadly.

Black cackled aloud, “James – she’s funny!”

“Told you,” James smiled smugly. Lily glanced at him, confused and pleased.

Black grabbed her hand and dragged her down the hall, “C’mon, Evans! Let us show you around a bit! Give you the tour! Enjoy your witticisms! ‘Sides, James’ parents are due to be a gone for another hour or so and we need someone to distract us from our hunger.”

“Are you incapable of feeding yourself?” Lily asked quizzically, allowing herself to be dragged down the hallway.

“No,” he winked roguishly, “just too lazy.”

Lily sighed heavily, acting as if the world had just fallen upon her shoulders with Sirius Black’s latest disappointing statement, and resigned herself to an hour of entertaining a thoroughly overexcited teenage boy that was powerless to feed himself.

She glanced back at James, who tilted his head slightly and gave her a crooked, knowing smile. Sirius Black jabbered away happily in the background. For a moment – just one moment – Lily felt as if she shared something essential and intangible with James Potter. That one knowing glance, full of laughter at Black’s antics and weariness with the energy that came with it, created a feeling of kinship that left Lily feeling a little weak.

Thank goodness she was being fully supported by Black as he dragged her maniacally down the hall.



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