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Marauding There And Back Again by Prongs05JP
Chapter 14 : Out of Bounds
 
Rating: 15+Chapter Reviews: 15


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This chapter's for all the ah-mazing people over at the HPFF forums, and especially for kate who has left me reviews on every one of my stories and gets an extra special hello because she is my MG and I got her name wrong. T_T So here it is everyone, R&R!

 

Chapter Fourteen:
Out of Bounds


 

Lily sat on the couch in the Head’s Common Room, settling nicely into her favourite book that she had started to read again on the first day of term – but she hadn’t had a chance to finish due to being snowed under by schoolwork. Lily tried to remember the last time she had had some time to herself to just relax and kick back. It had certainly been a while, and she definitely had a little more stress piled on with the spat that had been going on between Rachel and Abbie. And to think that it was all over a boy!

Remus was definitely one of Lily’s greatest friends, that, she couldn’t deny; he was reliable, caring, and he was definitely the one to talk to when she wanted to discuss a great book. But his honest nature was often a bit of a downside. He didn’t lie to people often, just voiced his own opinion quietly so they wouldn’t hear him. He just didn’t want to get hurt.

Hence; when he was rejected by Abbie back in second year – after being assured by many that she was head over heels for him – he just moved on. It hurt a bit, for obvious reasons, but he chose not to dwell on it and just get on with his life. Whereas that decision that Abbie made had haunted her for a long time. And then recently Remus had fallen for Rachel, and Rachel had taken it; Remus had no idea what the problem was! Thinking on their relationship now, Lily thought since Abbie had rejected him in second year, he was obviously under the impression that she wasn’t interested in him (Lily didn’t know that she had asked him out on the day of hers and Rachel’s blowout) and she was probably just a very good friend to him – and it was tearing Abbie up inside. Lily sighed. This whole thing was way too messed up.

But it was when Lily realised she’d been reading the same line over and over that she decided that she ought to find something else to occupy her time with. She got up from the couch and strode back to her room. But just as she was walking up the miniature staircase, she passed James’ door on the other side. She paused briefly, glancing at the gold plated lettering on the front that read:

James Potter

It wasn’t anything particularly special – just his name. Heck, Lily had her own name written on the front of her door! But something about it made her want to stop. It was drawing her to it, and she suddenly longed to know what was on the other side...

Lily shook her head roughly, jerking out of her reverie. It was just a door, for Merlin’s sake! It was Potter’s door; so she definitely wouldn’t be opening it any time soon.

It was Saturday, but still Lily was at a bit of a loss of what to do. Rachel and Abbie were busy doing various things to get a present for Will’s birthday (five days away, on Halloween) and she herself already had everything ready for him. But Lily hadn’t seen Peri in a while – so she decided to look for her. Who knew if she actually knew about Will’s birthday?

Peri... yes. A few weeks back, Lily had found out that she was related to James Potter – how, she wasn’t sure – but something had changed in their relationship. They had been getting on fine after they became friends near the beginning of September, Peri coming on walks with them, and when they went to Hogsmeade together... but recently; she seemed to be getting a bit distant. She’d been hanging out with the Marauders a little bit, but she’d been spending a lot of her time with the Ravenclaw Quidditch captain – Colin Bell, she though his name was. They seemed to get on really well from what she could see... maybe they were going out? But she was pretty sure that Peri would have told them if that was the case.

Speak of the devil, as they always say. Lily walked into the Great Hall and took a brief moment to admire the Halloween decorations that she and Potter had put up. Streamers hanging around the walls, the odd pumpkin floating here and there; of course it was nothing on how the hall would be decorate on Halloween night, but enough to build up a little apprehension towards it. Lily saw Peri talking and laughing with Bell, the Ravenclaw Quidditch captain. They were seated at the Ravenclaw table, so Lily felt a little bit awkward going up to them, and she stopped in her tracks. But why should she? Peri was her friend, and she was just going to talk to her. She had every right. So she resumed her pace.

“... Geez, you really put the ‘Lin’ in Merlin!” Peri giggled and Bell rolled his eyes at the pathetic pun.

“And you put the ‘ugh’ in terrible humour...” He shot back wryly. Peri pushed his shoulder playfully and stuck her tongue out. It was then that she noticed Lily approaching.

“Hey,” She greeted.

“Hey yourself,” Lily replied awkwardly, fiddling with something on the edge of her sleeve. “Um... I’m not interrupting, am I?” She threw them a brief smile. Bell shrugged.

“She’s all yours. But you might want to call the Gag Aurors, ‘cause in that area she really needs arresting.” He scoffed, and went back to his lunch. Peri rolled her eyes before getting up to join Lily.

“Wanna go outside?” She asked brightly, and Lily nodded. They linked arms on their way out of the Great Hall, and struck up small talk as they made their way down to the lake. It was so forced, that it made Lily cringe a little – friends weren’t meant to have small talk. They should just open their mouths and let it come naturally. That’s how it always was with her and Rachel, or Abbie, and even Will. And it was with Peri too... but not at the moment.

The pair reached the lake, just as the conversation ended, and they fell into silence. They just sat next to each other and stared out across the surface of the water.

“Look, er, Peri,” Lily began, but Peri still seemed to be staring out. “Um. Have I done something? Like, something bad?” She asked. Peri’s gaze drifted over to Lily’s face and her eyebrows crinkled in confusion.

“No. Why?” She smiled, genuinely a bit lost. Lily twisted her fingers in her lap.

“No reason. Well, sort of no reason.” She looked down. “It’s just – have you been avoiding me? I just haven’t seen you lately, since that Hogsmeade weekend...” Peri shrugged her shoulders.

“I’ve been busy.” Was her simple reply. Lily remained silent for a few seconds, waiting for her to elaborate. But when she didn’t, Lily prompted her.

“If you don’t mind... doing what?” Peri’s face contorted a little bit, whilst she was thinking of a response. She wasn’t really sure, to be perfectly honest... she’d been hanging out with Lin, Colin, a lot, she knew that; but had she really been avoiding the others?

“Well... I was getting Will’s birthday present.” She answered evasively.

“Oh.” So Peri had known about Will’s birthday. But Lily still didn’t like the way this conversation was going, with them tiptoeing round each other, with simple responses and obvious answers – not delving deeper and finding out what was really going on.

“Peri, what’s wrong?” Lily was staring at her firmly, almost as if her eyes could see right through her. Peri squirmed a little.

“I don’t know...” At least they were getting somewhere.

“You’ve been avoiding me.” Lily’s response wasn’t a question, but a statement.

“I... I have?” She replied weakly. She pulled her glasses off of her nose and rubbed them with the edge of her shirt. Lily knew Peri wasn’t normally shy like this; she was so up front! Always wanting to get to the bottom of a problem. Lily nodded in response to Peri’s latest comment, waiting for her to carry on. “I suppose I have,” Peri carried on finally, sighing in resignation. “A little. But not intentionally, I’m pretty sure.” Lily nodded slowly.

“Why?” She asked.

“I just... I know you hate James. I understand that, and I’m not going to try and change that fact – you’re your own person, and you can like whoever you like.” She started awkwardly. Lily wondered if this behaviour was being spurred on by how she usually acted around James. It always was a little bit conceited... “And now you... on the Hogsmeade weekend. One of the guys who cornered us... what were their names...?” She trailed off in thought.

“Snape, Mulciber, Avery, the other Mulciber...?” Lily racked her brains, trying to remember who was there.

“Mulciber! That was it.” Peri’s eyes brightened, before dimming again as she slid her glasses back onto her nose. “Well you might remember... he said that James and me – that we’re... well that we’re related.” She finished. Lily did vaguely remember that, but wondered where this was going.

“And?” She asked bemusedly. Peri’s eyes squinted at Lily’s confused face.

“Doesn’t that... bother you?” She asked hesitantly, and to her surprise, Lily laughed.

“No!” She chuckled, now realising the source of her problem. “I don’t give a damn if you’re his cousin, aunt or even his sister-in-law! Just so long as you’re not him,” She laughed, and Peri visibly relaxed, feeling reassured.

“I suppose I just thought... you wouldn’t want to hang out with me if you knew I was related to a boy you hated.” She admitted shyly, already chiding herself with the foolishness of it all. Lily sighed.

“We’re friends right, Peri?” Peri nodded, biting her lip. “And friends don’t think like that!” She pulled her into a tight hug. “I honestly don’t care – I have no idea why you thought I would!”

“I’m just a bit weird like that, I suppose.” Peri giggled.

“You have no idea,” Lily joked. They released each other before finally sitting in a companionable silence, once again staring out across the surface of the water. “Besides,” Lily continued, “I don’t exactly hate him. I guess I just dislike him. Or at least... I thought I did,” She frowned down at the water, almost as if it were James himself.

Peri was intrigued. “What do you mean?” Lily shrugged.

“I suppose in the beginning we got off on the wrong foot. And then beyond that he was a selfish git who teased people for nothing. But then... I suppose towards the end of last year. He’s just changed, I guess,” Lily sighed, “And I’m the one being childish, by holding on to the past.”

“Wow, I never thought I’d hear you say that!” Peri laughed, astounded by her confession. But before Lily could interrupt, she pressed on. “Does this mean you’re going to give him a chance?” She asked hopefully.

“I wouldn’t go that far,” She remarked, a hint of humour to the edge of her voice.

“But... Lils. I’m not asking you to be friends with him, but – for me – could you just be civil to him? You know, not killing him or anything,” Peri begged and Lily paused, thinking about it.

“... Alright. As long as you promise to stop avoiding me!” Lily laughed and Peri clapped her hands gleefully and hugged her again.

“That is so great – I didn’t believe I’d ever hear you say that!”

“And if you tell anyone else, I will kill you,” Lily smiled sickeningly sweet from over her shoulder. Peri laughed good naturedly, but knew that there was a note of serious underneath her “threat”. Lily pulled back from the hug with a thoughtful look on her face, chewing on a long strand of her auburn red hair.

“What?” Peri asked curiously. Lily just breathed out a long sigh, and looked up at Peri honestly.

“You know... you can tell me anything, right? If there’s anything bothering you...?” She replied, searching Peri’s eyes. Peri hesitated. This could’ve just been the opportunity to talk to someone she’d been looking for – someone except James, of course. He was a boy, and their levels of understanding were a fair bit different. She opened her mouth to reply.

“Hey guys!” Came a loud shout from across the grounds. The girls turned to see Abbie walking around the lake towards them, waving and grinning like mad. Lily was a bit taken aback – she remembered Abbie’s solemn and depressed attitude from this morning... maybe they’d made up? She did look a lot happier.

“Hey yourself,” Peri and Lily replied in unison. They turned to stare at each other before giggling. Abbie was grinning too, but apparently not at the same thing.

“What’re you guys up to?” She asked cheerily. Lily and Peri turned to each other, each with a little twinkle in their eye for their reply, but she didn’t give them the chance. “Guess what!” She carried on.

“What?” Lily asked.

“I found the perfect gift for Will!” She squealed happily. She reached into her pocket to show them so. Peri was sure she had already gotten Will a present, and shared this opinion out. Abbie just flapped her hand. “Well this is another thing,”

She plonked herself down unceremoniously next to them and revealed what lay nested in her palm.

*~*~*

Sirius and Peter were pretty good at negotiations. Peter could quite easily think on his feet for a really good reason for wanting something, and Sirius was pretty darn good at charming people into getting it for them. So they obviously made a pretty good team when it came to getting crates of drink away from Madame Flossie.

“Oh, alright boys, you’ve twisted me arm.” She conceded, smiling at the two eager teenagers. “As long as you show the young man who’s birthday it is a very good time.” Sirius and Peter nodded enthusiastically. They’d managed to convince her to part with four crates of thirty butterbeer bottles and five large jars of Flossie’s own tropical punch from her in under an hour – the others would certainly be impressed.

Flossie walked backwards from the bar on her way out back to retrieve the crates for them, and the two boys were only slightly concerned about how they’d get them back to the castle. Most of the time, when Flossie got in a new order (for example, a couple more crates of butterbeer or barrels of firewhisky) they were usually floated through the streets towards the Three Broomsticks; meaning no one really thought anything of it to see a whole load of jars and crates and whatnot floating through the streets. So that was alright. But they’d still have to keep the spellwork floating the (very heavy!) goods all the way to the other end of town, where the other Marauder’s would be waiting for them. But little did they know that one Marauder was certainly a lot closer to them than they thought.

That’s why they were so surprised when they saw James walk into the Three Broomsticks talking and laughing with the manager for the Falmouth Falcons. Peter saw it instantly and pointed it out to Sirius, whose eyes bulged out of their sockets as he saw them. Without thinking, they immediately ran round to the other side of the bar and ducked down, just so their eyes could see above the wooden surface.

“What in Holy Hippogriff’s name is he doing here?” Sirius hissed.

“I don’t know...” Was all Peter could reply. “And where’s Remus? And who’s that guy?” Sirius had recognised him instantly, and explained it to Peter.

“And he’s an old friend of the Potter family.” Peter nodded understandingly. From where they stood, they could see Clef begin to sit on a table in the middle of the room, but James laughed and gestured to one slightly out of sight. He seemed to be just joking around, but Sirius knew James’ body language so well that he could tell her was nervous as hell. What was he even doing in here? Teachers could walk in here at any moment; and he didn’t have a bar to hide behind.

“Boys?” Sirius and Peter jumped at the sound of Flossie’s voice, breaking them from their stare. “Your crates are out back – and you can go out the back way,” She smiled understandingly, knowing full well that they shouldn’t be off school grounds – but she let them anyway, being the kind lady that she was.

“Thanks so much, Flossie!” Sirius whispered and gave her a quick kiss on the cheek.

“Oh, Sirius,” She swatted him away, blushing. Peter just rolled his eyes. The two boys snuck away into the back, where Sirius pulled out the cloak and slung it over the two of them. They then cast the appropriate levitating charms on the crates and jars and crept out of the back exit, ready to (hopefully) rendezvous with Remus in the tunnel.

In the middle of his conversation with Clef, James smiled as he gazed out the window and noticed some crates and jars floating past – not towards the Three Broomsticks like they normally would, but away. So at least that part of the plan had gone okay.

“... your father?” Clef raised an eyebrow at James looking out the window. “James, why do I get the distinct impression that you’re not listening to me?”

“Hmm?” James replied, tearing his gaze away from the window. He then grinned sheepishly a Clef’s irritated expression. “Sorry. What were you saying?”

“Just asking about your father is all. I haven’t spoken to him in a while – Madam Flossie!” he lifted his hand in the air and the old lady made her way over. “A firewhisky and a butterbeer please,” He smiled warmly.

“Couldn’t I -?”

“Nope,” Was Clef’s stern response and James rolled his eyes.

“Dad’s fine,” He answered in response to his other question. “Just got a lot of work to do.” Clef nodded understandingly.

“He’s an Auror, right? Can’t imagine that being easy in this day and age.”

“Well, yes – but he’s an informant. Not really any front line stuff – but still quite risky.” James replied thoughtfully, turning back to the window.

On the other side of Hogsmeade, Remus was pacing in the tunnel below the cellar of Honeydukes impatiently. How could he have let this happen? He knew going without the cloak was risky – and now James was going to be discovered! He could be found by any of the teachers – Professor Sprout, Flitwick, - even Professor McGonagall. Or worse; Professor Dumbledore. Not to mention he didn’t have his wand...

This was completely uncharted territory for any of the Marauders: being discovered. To be perfectly honest, none of them had ever considered that part of sneaking around. If they got caught, fine, but that was only ever in school. Never out. This could spell expulsion. Or worse... whatever was worse than that! He was so caught up in his pacing and fretting, that he didn’t notice the large crate float down into the tunnel – and he walked right into it.

“Ow!” Remus cried, after the loud bash had resonated through the dark tunnel. He looked up angrily and saw Peter stick his head through the trapdoor from the Honeydukes cellar. “Watch where you’re levitating those things!”

“I would,” Peter replied hesitantly. “If Padfoot would only... Padfoot! It’s not yours!” and his head ducked out of sight once more. Remus groaned. Sirius was probably raiding the shelves of the sweet store, but the other Marauders really believed that they shouldn’t use this tunnel to exploit the good people who owned the shop by stealing. After managing to haul Sirius back down into the tunnel (along with all the crates and jars – Remus had to let lose a gasp at how many there were!) they immediately began questioning him about seeing James in the Three Broomsticks.

He explained what’d happened in a rush, and adding in the part about him not having his wand last, holding up the thin wooden stick to annunciate his nervous statement. Sirius scratched his head thoughtfully at their minor dilemma, trying to think of a solution. Back in the Three Broomsticks, James was still busy talking to Clef.

“How’s school?” he asked. James shrugged before grinning.

“Oh y’know. School.” Clef laughed. “But I have got to work a little bit hard I suppose – what with NEWTs this year,” He wrinkled his nose, much to Clef’s amusement. He also grinned with satisfaction when Flossie delivered their drinks and he took a sip.

“So... have you thought about what you’re going to do after school? It’s about time you started thinking about it,” This caught James off-guard, and he hesitated. He was a little nervous talking with Clef at all, let alone his future plans – he was quite eager to impress, and didn’t particularly want to come off as a kid still at school; he wanted to come off as a young man seriously thinking about his future.

“Well... yeah I’ve thought about it,” He rubbed the back of his neck awkwardly. “A lot,” He added as an afterthought. “But no real conclusions. I know Pads – er, Sirius, my best mate Sirius who lives with us; remember? – is really into us trying out for the Auror Academy. And I kinda do, but... I guess I just want to take a look at my other options first.”

Clef nodded slowly, stirring his firewhisky with his finger absentmindedly. “Have you ever thought about.... going professional? Quidditch, I mean.” James was at a loss of what to reply. “I’m serious, Potter. You got a lot of talent that’d be widely appreciated,”

“Well, I -”

“And I could put in a good word for you, whatever team you wanna aim for,” he persisted, leaning forward over the table. “And of course there’d always be a place for you on the Falcons – I know what you can do,” he spread his hands and looked James straight in the eye.“So... what d’ya say?”

His eyes gleamed, and James squirmed in his seat. He didn’t particularly want to disappoint Clef, with all that he was offering – and he could see the glimmer of hope in his eyes.... but. Professional Quidditch was one of things James definitely wasn’t considering. It didn’t really appeal to him.

“I – well... that’s really kind of you Mr Tennant, and I’m really grateful, but... the thing is; I want to do something that’ll help me make a difference in the world. Call me old fashioned, but something that’ll benefit the whole er, Grand Design? Quidditch is fun, and I love it – I really do – but it’s just not something I’ve really considered taking on to a professional level.” He finished, shrugging his shoulders and smiling apologetically.

Clef sighed resignedly, before a small smile crept onto his face. “You really are your father’s son,”

“Well I like to think that he had something to do with my conception,” James sniggered and Clef rolled his eyes and groaned.

“And your mother’s daughter.”

“Oi!” James laughed, and Clef soon steered the topic onto some common ground – Quidditch at school level. James had explained the team out to Clef, and he was giving him the low down and the best tactics for the upcoming game in a few weeks – against Ravenclaw. Clef also promised to come and see the game, if work would permit. James also offered a few unorthodox tips of his own for the Falcon’s first game of the season next week. James was very proud when Clef seriously took his ideas into consideration and told him he might try them out at training that evening.

Things were going pretty well, but James had forgotten all about the fact that he wasn’t supposed to be there; but was promptly reminded when Professor Flitwick pushed open the door to the pub.

“Well, it’s not like he’s going to need to cast any spells anyway,” Peter put in, examining the products from Zonko’s that his two friends had bought. Remus nodded hesitantly.

“I suppose. But what if he does?” he asked anxiously, turning the wand over in his hands. Sirius merely shrugged.

“Then he’s screwed.”

“Oh no,” James gulped and Clef turned around.

“Uh oh,” He echoed. “He’s seen me – quick – you know those invisibility spells me and Charles taught you last summer?” James nodded and reached in his pocket for his wand.

Only to find that it wasn’t there.

“I – I don’t have my wand!” he hissed searching around the table to see if he’d dropped it.

What?!” Clef almost cried out loud. “Are you kidding?!” he also began scanning the floor.

“No!” he dropped down onto his hands and knees under the table, feeling around for it – when he remembered. He’d had it in his hand when he’d been checking the Zonko’s supplies with Remus – he must’ve left it in the bag! “Oh, Merlin,” he muttered. But at least Remus would have it.

Hopefully. But that didn’t mean that James still wasn’t screwed.

“Clef? Clef Tennant?” Came Flitwick’s squeaking voice as he noticed Clef and made his way over. Clef put on a false smile.

“Filius! How good to see you!” he tried in vain to keep Flitwick’s attention away from James under the table, but unfortunately, Flitwick’s eye level was only just above the table.

“Potter?!” He cried in disbelief. James winced, and slowly emerged hiding and squirmed back into his seat. “What the devil are you doing here?!” his face was so stern that James shrank back in his seat.

“Professor, I -”

“This is not a Hogsmeade weekend! You should not be off school grounds – this is inexcusable behaviour – even from you!” He was furious; that much was obvious. And James was in serious trouble; that much was obvious too

“Now, Filius, please -” Clef held up his hands in a calming down motion.

“And you! Sitting here treating him to a drink? You are in just as much wrong as him – you should not be encouraging him to sneak out of school when he shouldn’t be. I expected better of you, Clef!” Clef scowled.

“Now look here, Filius, this has nothing to do with James – it was my fault, I admit.” James glanced at him incredulously, luckily unnoticed by Flitwick. Flitwick’s small moustache twitched.

“Be that, as it may – I want to know what on earth is going on here. One of you; explain! Immediately!” James opened his mouth to confess all when he was cut off by Clef.

“I was staying in Hogsmeade for a few days, and I just thought I’d take Potter out for a drink – it’s been a while since I’ve seen him, and there was something I urgently wanted to discuss,” He explained calmly. James blinked in disbelief – he was actually covering for him not being in school!

“And you thought you’d just nip in and get him, have him back by tea? I’m afraid it doesn’t quite work like that, Clef! You need to book a visitors pass for him – permission from a professor before he can just leave,” Flitwick told him sternly, as if reprimanding a child – he was no longer furious, thank Merlin, but he was still pretty pissed.

“But that could have taken days,” Clef retorted. “I’m supposed to be outta here this evening!” Flitwick crinkled his nose, his anger obviously fading with Clef’s honest expression and intentions.

“Well this is still a security risk – especially in the dark times we’re in now. How did you get him out of the castle?” he asked sternly. Clef froze; James could see his expression calculating, thinking of a way to get around it. Maybe it was time James stepped in – but how..?

Turns out Clef had it covered though, and he winked at Professor Flitwick. “You remember, don’t you? The old way?” Flitwick’s expression immediately softened around the edges.

“Oh... oh yes,” he answered, a reminiscent look passing over his face for an instant. “Well I suppose... no real harm done,” He murmured, stroking his chin thoughtfully. James was astounded; was he really going to be let off just like that?

“Sorry Professor... but am I okay now?” James put in, his mind burning with curiosity over what the ‘old way’ must be.

“Hmm... I’d like you to be, but I don’t believe so, Mr Potter. I can’t let this most obvious lapse of rules go unpunished – detention, I’m afraid. With me, for three weeks. And you’re lucky I won’t tell Professor Dumbledore about this!” He shot the two a stern look. “I’ll keep this meeting as our little secret – so long as next time,” he looked pointedly at Clef. “Next time, you wait and get a visitor’s pass.” Clef nodded confidently and held his hand over his heart.

“Quaffle’s honour,” he told him, in all seriousness. James almost laughed when Flitwick too nodded firmly back at him. He shot them one final glance before departing and making his way over to Madame Flossie. James breathed out a long sigh of relief.

“Whoa, that was close,” he laughed. Clef couldn’t help but agree.

“But you owe me, Mr Potter,” Clef glanced at him playfully. James raised his eyebrows in prompt, and Clef smiled slyly. “One training session – with the Falcons. Just so you can see what we’re like and maybe – maybe, reconsider you’re ‘saving the world’ idea for your future.”

James shrugged. “Okay,” he was pretty sure that whatever was so great about that one training session, it wouldn’t really change his mind. Then the burning question resurfaced and he turned back to Clef. “What’s the ‘old way’?” he asked eagerly.

Clef smiled secretively. “A wizard never reveals his secrets,” And he tapped his nose and winked. James merely scoffed.

“Oh, please. My friends and I have our own ways of getting in and out of Hogwarts,”

“Really now? I’m intrigued,”

“Well we are the resident mischief makers,” He grinned widely. “But don’t go off topic!”

“Oh alright. It’s this one we discovered maybe during fifth year? And Charles, being the loudmouth that he is – er, was – blabbed it to everyone. Behind the statue of Gregory the Smarmy – takes you right through to an alleyway just on the outskirts of the village,” Clef told him proudly.

James wrinkled his nose. “Oh, that one. We found that way back in third year – it was our first secret way into Hogsmeade. But we, er, weren’t very careful... Filch found it and spent about a month blocking it up – can’t get through either way now. At least, for the moment. If we ever needed it I’m sure we could unblock it pretty easily...” Clef looked quite put out, whether about the fact that the passageway was obviously not a secret to James or whether he was disappointed about it being blocked up was unclear.

“Well when I was at Hogwarts it was not a very big secret anyway. Almost everyone used it, or at least knew about it. But somehow Bigsy – the caretaker at the time – still never managed to find it. But he was getting to the end of his days back then. Could barely see four feet in front of him, bless his soul,” Clef winked. “And even ol’ Filius was seen using it a few times; even if he was the model student. But then again, being best mates with your dad and me can’t have helped his reputation much.”

James was intrigued. “How do you mean?”

“You didn’t think you were the only rebels to grace the walls of Hogwarts, did you?” Clef looked down at him slyly. “Your father was quite the teenager,” James eagerly asked how so, but Clef denied him any straight answer. “Ask your father,” He laughed. “Ask your father if he remembers Larissa.” Clef smirked. “And do let me know what he says, won’t ya?”

James nodded diligently, still a little disappointed that he didn’t get an answer. Clef ruffled his hair and James flinched. He didn’t want to have to act like a kid around him, and Clef seemed to understand this.

“Hmm. Not little Jamie anymore then?” He smiled kindly before shrugging. “Alright. Come on then, we better get you back to school,” He dropped some money on the table to pay for the drinks, patted James on the back and led him out of the pub.

And so after a promise to come and see the Ravenclaw game, Clef left James in Hogsmeade, and he soon made his way back to the tunnel. He noted that none of the boys were inside waiting for him, but he supposed he had been a long time. They’d probably given up waiting for him – he hoped that Remus had his wand... And by the time James arrived back into school it was dinner, and he walked swiftly into the hall, late, and attracting a little attention from people who saw him enter. He dropped into his usual seat next to Sirius.

“There you are! Where the hell have you been?” Sirius exclaimed, attracting the attention of a few surrounding Gryffindors. James just shook his head tiredly.

“Around,” he replied airily.



One week later, with all the excitement and tension of the past few weeks behind them, Halloween, and William Crockford’s birthday, arrived. It was early in the morning that Sirius awoke, cursing the sunlight that streamed in through the open windows, and shielding his eyes from the rays. He blinked twice, wiping the sleep from his eyes moodily and he sat up. This was an unusual feat in itself – Sirius Black never managed to get himself up on a school morning. Extraordinary. And what was more, he was up before everyone else! Sirius was unsure as to why this had actually happened, as his usual routine for getting up involved throwing a few pillows around and cracking his back a few times.

He reached on his bedside table and groped for his wand, and was surprised to just find it exactly there – that meant his first alarm charm hadn’t even gone off yet! He glanced around the brightly lit room, and saw that none of the others were awake yet. Even though the room was already lit by the bright morning sun, it was clear that it must be fairly early in the mornings. Eager to explore this newfound part of the morning without being half asleep, Sirius pushed back the covers of his four-poster bed and swung his legs around so his feet were now touching the cold stone floor.

With no more duvets to cover his bare chest, Sirius felt a little cold – but chose to ignore it and scanned the room silently. Something must have woken him up; however much he’d like to think that he’d risen of his own will power.

James was still asleep, covers strewn across the floor and his expression drawn in a frown, he murmured to himself quietly as his breathing came in a steady hrr. If Sirius had been up earlier any other day, like Remus, this would not have seemed like a strange thing – James hadn’t been sleeping very well recently, and none of the boys were any the wiser as to why. Remus laid in the bed next to James’, the duvet pulled neatly up to his chin and he slept with small smile on his face. Sirius grinned – it was rare for him to ever see Remus sleep. Peter was nowhere to be seen, most likely burrowed under his covers somewhere as there was a rather large lump that seemed like a body.

Will, however, was a rather funny story. He was snoring fairly loudly, his hair sticking up in all directions and the duvet was only half covering him. He seemed to sigh in his sleep before rolling over, dangerously close to the edge. Sirius was very tempted to push him out, but that could possibly entail waking the others, and he was pretty sure they wouldn’t be best pleased about that.

So there was nothing peculiar about the way his friends were sleeping, although Sirius wouldn’t really know if anything was peculiar anyway, as he never saw what was normal for them. He was just about to give up his miniature search when there was a loud bang on the door. Sirius whirled around instantly, and heard some girlish giggling from the other side. Squinting at the door almost as if he could see through it, he slowly made his way towards it.

When he reached it, he only opened the door a crack to see who was on the other side. And probably almost as equally surprised as he was to see them, the girls on the other side were pretty surprised to see him. The girls obviously weren't used to seeing Sirius Black awake in the mornings.

On the other side of the door, clad in brightly coloured dressing gowns and pyjamas, stood Lily, Rachel and Abbie. Sirius blinked in surprise.

“What do you want?” He muttered.

“Good morning to you too, Black,” Lily frowned back. But Sirius wasn’t particularly in the mood for playing games.

“Well you never pay me this rather lovely courtesy, so I don’t believe I should repay the favour.” He shot back icily. Lily was completely taken aback – this was not how he normally acted. “Ah... sorry, Evans. I’ve just been woken up by Merlin knows what and I’m feeling a little weird...” he shrugged, opening the door a little wider.

He noticed with satisfaction that the eyes of the girls were drawn to his chest for a few moments, before turning back to his face and flushing slightly.

“Er... yeah. It may have been us that woke you,” Rachel was the first to speak. “We’ve been standing outside for about half an hour,” she giggled.

“Is Will still asleep?” Abbie asked, but without the eager demeanour that she usually had. She seemed just as sad as she had been a week ago. Well, thought Sirius, we’ll see if a Marauder party can’t fix that.

So the girls must have been what woke him up. But why? Sirius would never normally be bothered by small noises in the morning – but then again, they were girls, and he did seem to have a sixth sense were they were concerned...

“Yeah, he’s asleep. They all are.”

“You know, you’re nowhere near as hyper in the mornings as you are during the day,” Rachel laughed. Sirius just shrugged and rubbed his eyes tiredly. “Well anyway, we wanted to come and give Will a...” she paused and glanced at her friends mischievously. “... Good morning.”

Sirius gave her a weary look, but opened the door for them nonetheless. He would, however, come to regret this decision when they all ran in screaming “Happy birthday!” and consequently waking up the rest of the room, and possibly the whole of Gryffindor tower. But Sirius couldn’t help but be excited for the rest of the day, when everyone found out what he had in store for them...


*~*~*

 
“Make way! Make way!” James boomed to the crowd as he pushed his way through the third floor corridor on his way to DADA. “Birthday boy, coming through!” In his right hand, James held Will’s arm tightly, and he was using his left arm to try and push his way through the swarm of people clogging up the corridor. Will was intensely embarrassed to have all the attention on him, but no matter how much he squirmed, he couldn’t quite pull himself away from James’ Quidditch enhanced iron grasp.

“Potter, c’mon... just let me go – all these people are staring...” He scowled. But James merely grinned.

“HEY! Can’t you tell its Crockford’s birthday? MOVE IT!” Sirius bounced up on Will’s other side, smiling innocently and obviously the cause of some of the shouting.

“You know, Black, even if I could tell that I don’t think it would require that much shouting. Nor would I even care,” came a dry voice from behind them. “Now stop waiting around and get into the classroom.” It was Professor Holland, his toothbrush moustache twitching in irritation. Sirius opened his mouth to shoot back a reply, but instead chose to shut it again.

“Whatever you say, sir.” He shot back stonily through gritted teeth. The NEWT level Defence Against the Dark Arts class trooped grumpily through the doorway, ready for another boring lesson of taking notes. Well, not everyone found it boring, but the majority of the class did. Since the practical duelling in the first lesson of the term, Holland had insisted on them only taking notes on how to do things, before being able to actually do them. But after two months of this, his students were getting supremely bored and just wanted to do something practical.

The Marauder’s and the girls slinked into their respective seats in the class, hardly any happy with their seating plan set at the beginning of the term – but none more unhappy than Peri. She was seated next to Duncan Mulciber, one of the two brothers who had confronted (and been insulted by) her and the other girls in Hogsmeade all those weeks ago. The lessons she now spent sitting next to him made the whole experience even more unpleasant. Although there was one person was definitely assumed to have a seat that he loved; James next to Lily.

“Good morning Evans!” James greeted cheerfully in a sing-song voice, trying not to let himself get too disappointed with her silence whilst he took his books and quill from his bag. Lily paused, remembering her conversation with Peri a few days ago.

“Morning.” She replied curtly, bending over unnecessarily to retrieve another quill from her bag, just so she wouldn’t see his reaction. Rather lucky she didn’t, actually, as he froze instantly and glanced at her in disbelief. He dismissed it as obviously having heard wrong. Lily wouldn’t have bid him a good morning.

“Are you going to sit down Potter or shall I knock you into your seat?” Holland snapped, and James immediately jumped down into his chair. A Marauder he may be, but with Holland it was different than other teachers. He almost... but maybe that was weird. He just felt the same way with him as he did about Clef. Although he disliked him and some of his teaching methods, at the same time he wanted Holland to respect him and his capabilities. Perhaps it was only because he was the teacher, or perhaps not.

This lesson Holland decided to just throw on a projection slide all about curses. And there were a lot of types of curses to be looked at. Holland stood at the back and controlled the slides whilst the students, overcome with boredom, vainly tried to note things down or at least remember some of the information lining the empty screen.

Lily was taking down some notes furiously and her quill scratched the paper at such a rate that the nib snapped. Cursing, she searched for the other quill she had brought out and noticed that James was examining it. Inside her, indignation immediately began to bubble and she snatched it out of his surprised hands, glaring menacingly. James stared back evenly before looking away, and sighing disappointedly. Guilt twisted inside Lily like a knife, and she guessed today would be the day she would try and start a civil kind of relationship with him. She knew that it was uncharted territory for Lily-hates-Potter-Evans, but she had to try. For Peri.

“Erm. Potter?” she whispered.

“Mmm?” he answered moodily.

“Sorry. For taking away the pen like that,” she was embarrassed, and not used to apologising to him, and was glad of the dim light so he wouldn’t see her face. James frowned and threw her an uncertain glance.

“Er... don’t worry about it,” he whispered back hesitantly. The two continued to take notes in silence, before Lily found herself daydreaming – a rare occurrence, for her in class. She quickly snapped out of it, but not quite fast enough.

“Potter?” she began again.

“What?” He whispered back, astounded that she should have two reasons to call his name in the space of ten minutes.

“Did you get that last bit on counter-curses?” she asked hastily. James raised his eyebrows and turned to face her.

“You’re asking me for help?” he asked sceptically. Lily shrugged, and wouldn’t meet his gaze. Time to bite the bullet, she thought.

“You’re... really good at Defence. So I figured you’d know,” she forced out, still staring at the screen and taking notes. James’ eyes almost bulged out of his head and he sat up straighter in his seat.

“Really?” he exclaimed.

“Quiet up front!” barked Holland and James slumped back in his chair and turned back to the screen. He didn’t say anything for a while, and when he did it was back to being in a low whisper.

“Really?” he hissed quietly. Lily nodded.

“So can I borrow your notes?” she asked, and James was more than happy to pass them over. She flashed him a grateful smile and he actually had to pinch himself to make sure that having a civil conversation with Lily was not just a figment of his imagination.

He heaved out a long sigh, and could think of nothing else but Lily’s smiling face for the rest of lesson. The irony of it was that he found himself politely asking Lily to borrow her notes whilst students packed away their bags. She told him to ask Remus.

Well, it was better than nothing, anyway.

“I swear, Pads, there was something wrong with Lily today,” James breathed, after catching up with his friends in the corridor and throwing an anxious look behind him just in case she happened to be near.

“Or perhaps it’s just something wrong with you?” Sirius smirked. “Like she’d ever talk to you willingly...”

“Yeah, no offence Prongs, but she’s not exactly ever wanted to speak to you before,” Peter put in.

“Oh shut up, guys! I’m serious – she even told me I was good at Defence,” a giddy smile had found its way onto his face and he found himself grinning from ear to ear.

“Well... here’s to hoping that you weren’t just daydreaming like that time back in fourth year – you know the one where you thought –“

Yes, thank you, no one needs to be reminded of that Padfoot!” James hissed, his ears turning pink at the tips.

“Reminded of what?” Peri asked brightly as she fell into step beside him. Sirius opened his mouth to give a smug reply when he was elbowed in his gentleman’s area by James.

“Nothing.” James answered through gritted teeth. “Right, Pads?”

“Hhn...” Sirius huffed, his eyes scrunched up in pain, and the rest of the group laughed.


*~*~*


Lily had just finished History of Magic, her final lesson of the day and was cheerfully looking forward to the feast, when she found her whole jolly attitude dashed by the sight of a boy running towards her. Her smile instantly faded, and she turned on her heel and started to walk away quickly. Binns’ classroom was on the other side of the school to most of the others, and there weren’t many people about – the students she had been sharing the class with had left immediately, but she had stayed behind to ask her old (and dead) Professor a few questions about the course.

This was to be a fatal mistake, as she felt a weak, wiry grip take hold of her arm and attempt to spin her around.

“Lily, please!”

“It’s Evans to you, Snape,” Lily replied scathingly, staring into the dark eyes of her ex-best friend Severus Snape. Lily released her arm and began walking again, but Snape pursued her.

“Listen to me – I’m not here to talk like this!”

“I’ve got a better idea; let’s not talk at all,” Lily shot back stonily. Snape groaned in frustration, and pulled at his straggly black hair.

“I’ve come to warn you!” That stopped her. Lily paused mid-step, and turned her head slightly in his direction.

“What?”

“That time... In Hogsmeade. At the beginning of the month...” Snape began hesitantly, a flush rising into his cheeks in embarrassment at the memory.

“You mean where you tried to attack us?” Lily replied sweetly, whilst her expression soured and she moved on.

“No! I mean... no!” Snape squirmed, jogging to keep up with her fast pace at walking. “I didn’t know you were going to be there, we were only after the Carltona girl! The one who’s related to Potter...” he spat out ‘Potter’ with such vehemence that Lily almost stepped up and defended him, but shut her mouth again.

“Well ‘that Carltona girl’ is my friend. Her name is Peri, and I thought you’d know me better than to just assume I’d stand aside and let you hurt her!” her eyes pricked with tears, and she begged them not to fall. Not in his company.

She remembered that Hogsmeade trip, and whilst she was trying to resolve that fight Snape had said ‘stay out of it’. Like she would do that?

“I was just trying to keep you out of danger,” he replied quietly.

“Yeah, well I can look after myself thanks.” Lily spat and turned away.

“No, wait! Listen, it’s just that we didn’t randomly go up to you guys and pick a fight,” he began hastily, but Lily wasn’t impressed.

“Sounds like something you’d do,”

“Well it wasn’t! Not this time. It was Duncan at the heart of it – he said we were getting paid by some lady. I only just discovered it was that new ‘Assistant to the Board of Heads of Houses’ or whatever. That one who’s your friend’s sister!” he pushed on, an undertone of urgency evident in his voice.

This caught Lily’s attention and she stopped again. “Doris?” she frowned, and Snape nodded.

“She wanted the Carltona girl. Apparently she said something along the lines of 'she was distracting Crockford from his studies'. She wanted us to take Carltona to her, just so she could talk to her or something. She’s obsessed with Crockford getting good grades, I’m telling you!” Lily chewed on a strand of her auburn hair bemusedly, and regarded Snape with suspicion.

There was a time, when she’d always been able to tell when he was being truthful or not, but that ability seemed to have eluded hair in their time apart. She couldn’t tell here nor there whether he meant what he was saying. Yes, Doris really wanted Will to pass this year, but to try and hurt one of Will’s friends? Absolutely out of the question.

“I don’t believe you,” she whispered, and Snape’s face fell visibly.

“You have to believe me, Lily, you could be in danger too. Please,” he pleaded, taking hold of her arm once more. Lily flinched and pulled her arm away, a spark of anger igniting in her eyes.

“I don’t have to do anything!” she snapped, apalled at his assumption. “You lost the right to make me believe you years ago,” she hissed dangerously, narrowing her eyes before turning away and carrying off down the corridor.

“Lily, wait!” Snape shouted after her.

“That’s Evans to you!” she replied loudly, before choking and breaking into a run, red hair flying out behind her and trying to stop the tears from falling.



Okay, so it took a while, it's long, and it's not how I planned it at all XD I had originally intended for the feast and Will's party to both be in this chapter, but that didn't work out so I cut the party into the next one, and then when this one reached 8000 words I decided I'd better bump the feast over too. :P So sorry to the one reviewer who I promised a Quidditch match next chapter, it'll now be in the one after. Sorry! But on the plus side, the next one's almost completely written already. And, I know this chapter is more of a filler. An 8,000 word long filler, but a filler nonetheless. Hope you lovely readers aren't too annoyed with me!

Thirdly, THANK YOU EVERYONE!! I had such an overwhelming response to my last chapter, and indeed my whole story the last time this his the updated list. I have so many special thankyou's and people who've made my year, that I am just going to have to say: thanks so much. Or else this whole thing would be more special thanks than chapter! But I'll shout hi to my reviewers who've reviewed before and are very nice :D Sweets-Caandy, jplove4evs, aussieginny, Umbraz169, Harry_And_Ginny, Dreaming_of_Remus, IwRiTe4mE (the amazing kat) who left me 7, Prongs'_green_eyed_witch who also left 7 and finally katebabelovesharrypotter - who, by the way, is awesome. THANKS SO MUCH! You're reviews really inspire me, so please keep them coming - I love to hear what you have to say!

So the next chapter should be up soon, hope you enjoyed this. Until next time!

--Nick xx


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