‘Where were you?’ James made a shushing gesture. ‘Keep your hair on,’ Sirius whispered back, ‘Minnie’s not even looking.’ He glanced up, just to check, but James didn’t notice. He had a look of utmost concentration on his face. Sirius knew that look. It was the one he had worn many a night trying to figure out why Lily hated him and also the look that had resulted in them becoming Animagi. ‘What’s happening?’
‘I hung back after class, to ask Professor Gurdan if he would teach me how to do the Patronus messages.’
‘And?’ Sirius said eagerly. McGonagall’s eyes flicked over to them.
‘Merlin,’ he muttered, ducking his head down, ‘look busy, Prongs.’ Sirius shoved the textbook into the middle of the desk and James pulled a piece of parchment out of his bag. A quill and inkwell followed shortly after. McGonagall moved across the room to answer Remus’ question and Sirius dropped his quill. ‘Well?’
‘He said it’s not part of the curriculum.’
Sirius’ face fell. ‘Maybe it’s an Auror thing?’ Mr Potter was the only one they’d ever seen do the charm, but they’d decided years ago it was one they wanted to learn.
James shook his head. ‘Remember that day that Phoenix one came?’
Sirius remembered the day well. They’d been having a late breakfast and a Phoenix Patronus had appeared in the middle of the room. Noddy the House-Elf had been hysterical for hours. ‘Dumbledore’s Patronus?’ James nodded but didn’t elaborate. Sirius rolled his stormy eyes. ‘Just say whatever you’re thinking, Jamie,’ he sighed.
‘Dumbledore’s no Auror.’
‘Yeah, but he’s Dumbledore,’ Sirius said, still not getting it.
‘And you weren’t there at the time, but the other day, when Lily and I were with Moody, he told Dorcas and Gideon to send him a Patronus.’
You think it’s an Order thing,’ Sirius surmised. James nodded. Sirius paused. ‘I think you might be right,’ he said thoughtfully.
James gaped at him. ‘You’re joking?’
‘Nope,’ Sirius said.
James pushed his glasses up and ruffled his hair. ‘No skeptical look? No “Prongs, you’re obsessed”?’
Sirius shook his head. ‘I’m not Lily. Or Moony for that matter. I want to know as much as you do.’
James smiled. ‘I’m glad it’s not just me.’
‘In case you haven’t figured it out, Prongs, what concerns you generally concerns me. Besides, this whole Order thing - Oi!’ Sirius shouted at Malfoy, who appeared to be giving Peter a hard time. He lobbed a ball of parchment across the room, hitting Lucius in the head. The blonde glared over at him. ‘Leave him alone,’ Sirius hissed. Peter was shaking his head desperately at Sirius, who didn’t know what to make of it.
‘Mr Black!’ Sirius flinched. He wouldn’t have shouted if he’d realised how close McGonagall was, or how thin her lips were.
Sirius winced and took a deep breath before he glanced up at the fearsome Head of Gryffindor. ‘Minnie,’ he said in a casual voice, ‘what can I do for you?’ He saw her eye twitch at the nickname.
‘Why so formal?’ Sirius said, waving his hand. ‘Sirius is fine.’ James coughed next to him to hide a laugh.
‘Mr Black, would you kindly explain-’
‘Are you stuck, Minnie?’ Sirius said, sympathetically, reaching out to pat her arm. ‘Instructions are on the board, but if you really need help... what do you need me to explain?’
‘What on earth possessed you to throw a piece of parchment across the room, and then start shouting?’
‘Minnie, you mustn’t raise your voice in a lesson,’ Sirius whispered, pressing a finger to his lips. McGonagall really was his favourite teacher. ‘And why I was throwing things and talking loudly really isn’t relevant to the subject at hand.’ Her nostrils flared. ‘If that’s all then...’ Sirius said pointedly. She glared down at him. ‘Minerva,’ Sirius said impatiently, ‘I’m trying to work here.’ He waved her away as he pulled his textbook closer.
‘Detention, Mr Black,’ she curtly. ‘And ten points from Gryffindor for calling me “Minnie”.’ Sirius poked his tongue out at her back as she stalked away to answer Lee’s question.
‘Black!’ Lucius hissed, fixing Sirius with a superior smile. ‘Have fun in detention.’
Sirius made a rude hand gesture, thankfully missed by McGonagall. Lily and Remus both gave him a disapproving look. ‘I’ll see you there, Malfoy.’ Lucius frowned. ‘Prongs?’ Sirius muttered.
‘Done,’ James whispered, glancing at his parchment again as he tucked his wand away.
‘Ow!’ Sirius cried dramatically. ‘Malfoy, you little-!’
‘Mr Black, what in Merlin’s- Mr Malfoy!’
Malfoy stopped laughing and cocked his head to the side. ‘What?’ he said rudely.
‘Detention.’ With a wave of her wand, McGonagall Vanished the horns that had sprouted from Sirius’ head. ‘I specifically said no wands were to be used this lesson!’
Sirius caught James’ eye and grinned, and across the room Remus was having a hard time smothering his smile.
‘But I didn’t-’
‘Are you suggesting Mr Black somehow grew horns?’
‘I didn’t-’ Professor McGonagall silenced him with a look.
Lucius turned to gape at Severus whose expression darkened. The two Slytherins muttered to themselves and shot Sirius dirty looks.
‘You shouldn’t have done that,’ Lily said disapprovingly as the class packed up their bags.
‘No, probably not,’ James agreed cheerfully. He adjusted his Head Boy badge. Lily’s eye narrowed slightly, but she also seemed to be fighting a smile.
Lily opened her mouth to argue, but Sirius shook his head. ‘It’s not worth arguing about, Lily, you know we’re going to do it again. Besides, that slimy git was saying something to Wormy. And judging by the way you paled, Pete, it wasn’t pleasant.’ Peter jumped at being addressed and his eyes darted up to meet Sirius’ before going back to his feet.
‘What was he saying?’ James asked in a curious tone that managed to be tinged with anger.
‘N-nothing,’ Peter muttered, shifting his bag on his shoulder.
‘Pete-’ Sirius began.
‘Don’t “Pete” me, Sir,’ Peter said, annoyed. ‘I don’t want to talk about it, so just leave it, okay?’ All three Marauders and Lily were taken aback by this statement. Remus was barely able to nod. James was making a strange strangled noise in the back of his throat. Sirius and Lily both stared at the boy like they’d never seen anything like him. ‘S-sorry,’ Peter said miserably. His eyes shifted back to the classroom. ‘Lara and I had a fight this morning and Malfoy was giving me a hard time about it...’
‘Are you still together?’ Peter nodded.
‘S-sorry, I have to go,’ he said suddenly.
‘Where?’ Lily asked, resting a hand on his shoulder.
‘Forgot my book,’ he mumbled and doubled back toward the empty classroom.
‘What’s he talking about?’ Sirius wondered aloud. ‘He’s holding his book.’
‘Maybe he meant a different one,’ Lily suggested.
‘Or, maybe he wants to mope,’ James said. ‘Come on.’ He grabbed Sirius’ arm and the two of them turned, following Peter toward the classroom.
‘Padfoot, Prongs, wait,’ Remus called. Both black haired boys spun around. ‘It’s obvious he wants time alone. We’ll give him time, and then corner him after dinner.’
‘We have Quidditch practice after dinner,’ Sirius whined. ‘Let’s talk to him now, I’m bored.’ James nodded.
‘Sirius, bad things happen when the two of you are bored,’ Remus said warningly.
‘Do not,’ James said dismissively.
‘Dare I remind you of the cauldron incident?’ Remus asked. Sirius grinned, well aware that James wore a similar facial expression. ‘Or the Hippogriff one? Or that time you managed “accidentally” enchanted the Christmas trees to carry Hagrid in and drape him in paper chains and baubles to see how he liked it?’
‘Fine,’ James huffed., stalking back to them. ‘We’ll give Pete time.’
Remus nodded, seeming content. James caught Sirius' eye and mouthed 'Tonight.'
Sirius nodded, glancing back the way their friend had disappeared.