The next Saturday, Marion and Lily were sitting in the Common Room reading on the scarlet sofas. Studying was slowly taking their lives as they got into the usual school rituals, but then again even Marion couldn’t stay top of the class by doing nothing but sitting on her arse, and she had tried. Lily was reading the Charms book and Marion was flicking through the Divination book for the third time.
“There is nothing in here that is in any way useful!” she stressed, shutting the cover so hard a puff of dust issued from between the pages. “I have been having my little episodes since the day I turned thirteen and foresaw my sister snogging my mother's boyfriend at my birthday party in some daft attempt to get caught and force her to dump him.”
“I remember that.” Lily smiled fondly, looking up from her book. “I didn't get any cake though. You're mum's boyfriend left wearing most of it.”
“Hey, I'm always right.” Marion smirked. “And I learned most of my moves from Mischa. I'm surprised she's agreed to get married. She's the one who taught me how to lean over the desk a little too far when I think I've done badly in an assignment for Care of Magical Creatures.”
“So that's why you got an O in the O.W.L.” Lily giggled. Marion poked her side.
“Yeah, Preston, you know with those boobs you could get away with murder.” a familiar voice said wittily as it approached. “Providing of course the auror who caught you knew you well enough not to let you talk.”
Sirius Black stood at the arm of the sofa flanked by the others looking incredibly pleased with himself. Lily just sighed and turned the page, trying not to acknowledge them. Marion looked unimpressed with the joke and raised her eyebrows.
“What do you want, Black?” Marion huffed in her usual superior tone. James just grinned.
“Him? Nothing. I mean with what went down last week if he still hasn't done anything...” he looked suggestively between Marion and Sirius, both of whom looked back at him with looks of confusion and disgust. Lily choked back a giggle, not wanting to draw attention to herself in case it made her the new topic of conversation.
“What are you taking about, Prongs mate?” Sirius asked disbelievingly.
“C’mon, what went on with you two in that broom cupboard, eh?” he asked openly, stepping out into the room. He crossed his arms and looked from Marion to Sirius, “Any snogging?”
“Ew, no!” They both said together, causing James to raise his eyebrows in suspicion. Lily exhaled loudly and slammed her book shut.
“You know, Potter, sometimes I wonder if there actually is a brain between your ears.” She snorted in annoyance causing James to blush and Marion and Sirius to chuckle loudly. James said nothing after that.
“So what are you up to today, Preston?” asked Sirius suspiciously.
“Never you mind, Black.” Marion smiled cheekily.
“Oh, yeah? You can tell us.” He cooed. Marion looked at him with a smirk.
“Ok then if you must know. I have a date with David.” She said, causing Sirius’ eyes to widen and eyebrows to rise in confusion. Marion felt a swelling sense of triumph in her chest and playfully patted Sirius' cheek. James struggled back a grin at his reaction, and when Sirius caught his eye he quickly corrected it.
“David? You mean David Berkeley?” he questioned without any indication he was going to make a joke out of it. Marion nodded.
“Yeah. He asked me out yesterday in Charms.” she said simply. Sirius shrugged it off, a confident smirk appearing on his lips.
“Why would you want to go out with Balls-out Berkeley?” he asked incredulously.
“Well why not?” she countered.
“Didn’t we make that wuss cry last year when we won the match against Ravenclaw?” Sirius chuckled.
“No you made him cry when you levitated him above the entrance to the Senior Management stand and took his trousers off.” Marion corrected sternly, glaring at Sirius, but he and the others just roared with laughter. The reminder of the joke bred more confidence within him.
“Exactly! That's why we call him Balls-out Berkeley. C’mon, Preston! You should be on a date with a real man!” he grinned.
“What, like you, you mean?” she retorted smugly. “Black, the day that you are what qualifies as a 'real man' will be the day my mother gives up having sex with strange men and I give up thinking of ways to use it to my advantage.”
Sirius' smile dropped and the others tried to choke back their sniggering and the triumph in Marion's chest just swelled up more. She smirked, giving way to a little satisfied shiver, and raised her eyebrows at Sirius.
“What? No waiting comeback?” she taunted as he tried to find something to say. Not knowing what else to do, he just shook his head pathetically as Marion got up out of her seat.
“Well I better be off then,” she said cheerily, grabbing her jacket from the back of the sofa and waving goodbye to the three in the room, “I’ll see you all later, most likely. You guys are harder to get rid of than the grip of a tentacular plant.”
She huffed and slung her bag over her shoulder, strutting out of the portrait hole. Sirius frowned and hopped over the back of the sofa to sit down where she had been sitting. The others gathered around him as he grimaced, having landed on Marion's book. Dislodging it from underneath himself, he threw it in Lily's direction.
“Jesus, Evans what is this rubbish you and her read?” he grumbled as he propped his feet up on the coffee table.
“You mean the syllabus required book everyone received a letter telling them to buy?” she snapped, glaring at him over her own book and turning the page.
“We're supposed to have that?” he asked looking at James who shrugged. Remus rolled his eyes. “Whatever, I want to know how a dick weed like David 'Balls-out' Berkeley got a date with Preston.”
“Why, need tips?” Lily grumbled.
Sirius pulled a face, “No, I just don't see how someone like him can get with a girl like her. He's not exactly one of the 'desirables' in this school.”
“Yeah, what with that wonky eye thing.” Peter agreed.
“One eye looking at you, one eye looking for you.” James joked, doing an impression that made the others laugh.
“Actually,” Lily chimed in, “his little eye problem was fixed over the summer. Mary told us half the girls in our school didn't recognise him, and when they did they were tripping over their heels to get near him.”
She shut her book and stood up. The boys eyed each other nervously. “Oh, so I guess that means you're no longer the only 'desirables' as you put it? Shame.”
She smirked to herself and walked out. The others were left in dumbstruck awe, staring at each other.
The date was scheduled to be at the Room of Requirement for a nice lunch. He was one of the few who knew where the Room of Requirement was. As the threat of the Death Eaters rose, the upper school prefect team was told about it to give them an idea where to keep lead their houses should there be an attack on the school. David was a prefect. Marion, who was only a sixth year, had… other ways of getting this sort of information. Less than legitimate ways, but ways that worked all the same.
The whole idea of meeting for a ‘nice lunch’ wasn’t really Marion’s cup of tea, but she figured David must be a really classy bloke. And at this stage in her love life, ‘classy’ would not be an unwelcome attribute. David was there fifteen minutes early and was left pacing outside the door for a while, letting out a deep sigh of relief when she rounded the corner, as if he had been worried she wouldn’t show up. She came up to him and aimed to kiss his cheek, but he converted it into an awkward hug. Marion tried not to let it shake her. He was probably not used to this seeing as until his eye had been fixed, he hadn’t seen a lot of action. That and the fact that she had rejected him before. As she pulled back, David gave a smile that looked like it was strained.
“I thought you were going to stand me up.” She sighed shakily.
“Of course not. What kind of girl do you think I am?” Marion said softly as she shook her head and used a tactic that she referred to as ‘flirty eyes’. It was usually a dead lock, but David tried to look away and waited impatiently for the door to form in the wall. Marion again removed that notion from her mind as the large door formed and stepped through.
On the other side was a beautiful, garden-style terrace covered in flowers and birds. In the centre, was a lunch table, with all of Marion’s favourite foods. It was pretty, of course it was, but the whole thing was far too girly for Marion’s taste. Again she didn’t mention this to David as he seemed perfectly content with what he had conjured up, and he had done it to impress her. He escorted her to her seat and pulled her chair out for her, tucking it in after she had sat down. That he did right. Marion through his attentiveness was spot on.
They ate little things like sandwiches that had already been cut free of crusts and folded and tea, which Marion had to once again neglect to tell David she didn’t like. The whole thing was rather odd, though thoughtful, and was more like having lunch with Lily than with a boyfriend.
Sure he was nice, and he listened, and he laughed at all of her jokes, but still he shouldn’t. He’s a guy. Marion knew guys. She grew up with guys like James, who still thought it was appropriate to fart while she was in the room and deliberately waft it her way even though they were now over twelve. Guys like her ex-boyfriend who waited until she was out of the room and hooked up with the nearest female-looking specimen. Guys like Sirius Black, who behaved like an all-around class A twat and expected that to get him attention from the ladies.
Still, Marion was willing to give him a chance if he really liked her, which was apparent. He watched her every move. She held his undivided attention, and constantly asked her questions about her life. After about twenty minutes Marion began to question her view on men altogether. Maybe they were all supposed to be like this, and it was just her misfortune to have been saddled by the rejects of the species for company until now. At the end of the ‘date’ David walked Marion to the Fat Lady portrait. He seemed to have enjoyed himself thoroughly. Again, he refused to kiss her, but the hug he gave this time was a lot less hesitant. He smiled as he walked away.
She couldn't help thinking the whole thing was strangely surreal as she mumbled the password and walked into the Common Room. As she passed through, she was yet again ambushed by the marauders who didn't seem to have moved from where they had been when she had left. They descended on her like flies on a fresh pile of Hippogriff dung.
“How was it?”
“Was it good?”
“Where did he take you?”
“What did you do?”
“Did he kiss you?”
“Do we have to kick his arse for you?”
They bombarded her with these questions until she shouted over them.
The boys were stunned into a silence.
“Now listen carefully because I’m only going to say this once.” She said, and then she drew in a deep breath, “It was good. Yes. No. Room of Requirement. Sat and had lunch. No. No. Get real. And piss off.” she finished with a haughty scowl. The boys took a unified step back.
Marion then smiled coldly at them and left for her dorm room, where she found Lily and Alice sitting on their beds waiting for her. Mary was also there, but she didn’t seem as interested. She was reading a copy of Witch Weekly that sat on her lap, and was turning the pages so harshly they might have ripped. She was still mad at Marion, that much was clear, but this sort of situation arose so often between the two of them Marion had learned to ignore it.
“So, how did it go?” asked Lily excitedly for once. Usually she was less than enthusiastic about boy conversations and hid from them behind the pages of a book. Marion felt it unfortunate she had chosen this particular occasion to break the habit.
“Fine,” she muttered, trying to brush off the subject.
“What’s wrong?” Lily asked again, walking over to Marion on her bed and squeezing her a little in comfort.
“Honestly, it was fine. But I can’t help thinking weird.” Marion said, giving in to her persistent friend before they tried more annoying ways of coaxing out the information.
“How do you mean?” Alice inquired as she came to sit with them also. Marion told them every last detail, causing her friends to lull into a silence of confusion.
“Well that sounds kind of… nice.” Alice managed, not too convincingly. Lily's eyebrows wrinkled.
“Seems kind of gay if you ask me.” Mary called bitterly from the other side of the room, flicking another page.
“No one asked you, Mary.” Lily replied to her as softly as she could without conveying her annoyance. “I’m sure it’s all fine, he was probably just a little bit nervous. Remember the first time he asked you out? He was terrified, wasn’t he? And loads of guys have asked you out, I suppose he might feel like he’s got a lot to measure up to.” She reassured her. It wasn’t usually something Lily was good at when she was around other people but Marion seemed convinced enough.
“Yeah, probably. Thanks guys.” Marion smiled gratefully, snuggling into her friends' shoulders.
Down in the Common Room, the marauders were interrogating Sirius once again. He just kept rolling his grey eyes and frowning at them and despite their constant jests, remained insistent that they were talking nonsense.
“So, looks like you’ve got some mean competition Padfoot, my friend.” Remus joked, patting Sirius on the back. Sirius glowered and shook his head furiously.
“You think I’d fight with anyone for Preston’s affections? No thanks. Plus, even if I did want to take her out, I wouldn’t be as thick as to not kiss her. What kind of idiot must Balls-out Berkeley be?” he said rather convincingly.
“He has a point.” James put in, “None of us would make that mistake. If the girl wants to go out with you, she wants you to kiss her.”
“But then again, James, you wouldn’t know. The last girl you kissed was in fourth year. Since then you’ve been tailing Evans and it’s not like she’s going to be kissing you any time soon.” Peter squeaked, causing the others to roar up in laughter. James only blushed and smiled a little awkwardly. Sirius walked over to him and slapped his red cheeks.
“C’mon, mate! Only girls blush, Prongs.” He laughed; the rest of them started a fresh round of giggles.
Giving in to the old joke he knew wouldn't have an ending, James laughed along with his friends. Sirius was relieved that they had dropped the subject of he and Marion. He was finding the whole situation tedious to repeat. It wasn’t like they were right at all; he and Marion were just as they presented themselves to be. Nemeses. Not enemies or possessing any amount of hatred towards one another, but at they same time not particularly liking one another either. Harmless rivals who enjoyed annoying each other, but found no joy in each other's company.
Even so, he knew there was only a certain amount of times you could disagree with the likes of his fellow marauders. The hazing they had been doing to James since he admitted he fancied Lily Evans was proof of that. There was no way he was going to be the butt of that joke whether or not he were falsely accused. Not a bat's chance in hell.