Chapter 25 : Chapter 25
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‘Come in, Sirius,’ Peter called in a weary voice. He had listened to his three friends debating over who would be the first to talk to him. ‘I know you’re out there.’ Sirius and Remus shuffled into view, coming to stand behind James. All three of them looked a little sheepish. ‘Get it over with,’ Peter muttered.
Sirius, James and Remus flopped down onto James’ bed, facing Peter. It was a little unnerving. It reminded him very much of the day they had confronted Remus about his lycanthropy, although they hadn’t yet Disarmed him and warded the door. That was a good sign, right?
‘You’ve been acting strange lately,’ Sirius said bluntly. James nodded for emphasis.
‘I told you... Lara,’ Peter lied, wringing his hands.
‘That’s it?’ Remus asked shrewdly. Peter nodded, carefully arranging his expression to one of dejected honesty.
‘Because, Pete, you’ve had girl trouble before,’ Sirius said. He really was tactless sometimes. ‘But this is definitely the worst it’s been.’ Peter said nothing. His “girl troubles” had been going on since the beginning of sixth year, conveniently covering various absences.
Since he was actually involved in a plan this time, he had been required to meet Lucius more frequently, and his “girl troubles” had subsequently popped up again. ‘Pete, you’re a Marauder,’ Sirius continued. ‘Maintaining a relationship can be hard bu-’
‘But what?’ Peter asked shrilly. ‘What would you know about committed relationships, Padfoot? Or you, Moony?’ The other three stared at each other, gobsmacked. ‘And if you dare suggest there are other girls out there, then you’re just as bad as the other two, Prongs!’
James folded his arms over his chest, assuming Head Boy pose. Peter felt like he was shrinking. ‘We were going to say that maintaining a relationship can be hard but if she’s the One then it’ll be worth it in the long run, and we'll support you in your choice because you're one of us. You do it for me, with Lily.’
‘Right.’ Peter felt guilty. They were good friends. They were Mudblood lovers and Blood-Traitors and they were on the wrong side, but they were good friends. Peter’s stomach twisted unpleasantly. ‘You’re right.’ The other three shared a happy look, thinking they’d diffused the situation. ‘Thanks.’
‘No problem,’ James said with a smile. He pushed his glasses up. ‘What do you say we go organise a prank?’
Seriously? Were they twelve? Peter - who was definitely seventeen - glanced at his watch. He was going to be late as it was. He paled slightly at that thought. ‘Umm... would you mind if I went to find Lara? I think I need to talk to her.’
Sirius looked miffed at coming second to a girl, but James nodded understandingly. ‘Sure, Wormy. Take the Map.’
James passed the piece of worn parchment over with a grin. Peter hid his own. This was almost too easy. He scurried over to the dormitory door, adding another thank you as he left.
As he descended the boy’s staircase, he allowed himself to smile. He’d done it again. He’d fooled them. And as James had handed over the Map, he had handed over any chance of finding out where Peter was really going. Peter knew he was never going to top any classes, but he had managed to outsmart the three people who knew him the best, the three people who were coincidentally the brightest in the year, minus Lily perhaps. And he had outsmarted them.
‘Pete?’ Peter jumped at Lily’s soft voice. She smiled up at him. ‘You’re looking happier.’
‘Yeah... umm... yeah,’ he squeaked. ‘We were just talking and I feel better now.’
Lily’s thin eyebrows pulled together. ‘Where are you going?’
‘I could ask you the same,’ he said dodging the question. ‘Surely after seven years at Hogwarts you know this is the boy’s staircase?’
Lily blushed. ‘I wanted to talk to Remus.’
‘He’s in our room.’ Lily nodded, green eyes scanning his face. Whatever she saw there made her smile. ‘See you later,’ Peter said, pushing past her.
* * *
‘Back so soon?’ Sirius called jokingly, when Lily knocked on the dormitory door.
‘What are you talking about?’ Lily asked.
‘Oh!’ Sirius cried from the other side of the door. ‘I thought you were Wormtail.’
‘Can I come in or not?’ Lily asked impatiently.
‘What’s the password?’ Sirius called. She could hear the grin in his voice. Lily made a face at the door before pushing it open. ‘Hey! You didn’t give the password!’
‘Yes, I did,’ Lily said, waving a hand. She sat down on James’ empty bed. ‘I whispered it though, so you didn’t hear it.’
‘Did not,’ Sirius grumbled.
‘Did so,’ Lily shot back. ‘Where’s James?’
‘Shower,’ Remus supplied from behind his newspaper. ‘He’ll be out in a minute.’
‘I actually wanted to talk to you.’
Remus’ brown eyes dragged themselves away from the page and met hers. ‘About?’
‘Patronuses. I want you to teach me how to do them.’
‘You had a strong shield,’ Remus said, folding the newspaper away. ‘It would hold off a Dementor.’
‘I suppose,’ Lily said, disappointed. ‘But a corporeal one would be nice.’
Remus grinned. ‘Why me?’
‘Well I just thought since you’re the best at Defence Against the Dark Arts, and you’ve always wanted to be a teacher...’
‘I have,’ Remus said with a sigh. ‘Doesn’t mean it’ll happen.’
‘Well, here’s your chance, Moony,’ Sirius said, rifling through a magazine. ‘Teach.’
Remus smiled over at Sirius and then at Lily. ‘All right, then. Does early next week work for you?’ Lily nodded, but part of her was wondering why sooner wasn’t an option. Remus seemed to read her expression. ‘It’s a full moon in three nights.’
Lily nodded understandingly. ‘Early next week sounds great, then.’
The bathroom door opened and James walked in, humming to himself as he rubbed his hair dry with a towel. He flopped down on the end of his bed, and then jumped. ‘Lily? What are you doing in here?’
‘Your powers of observation astound me, Prongs,’ Sirius said dryly as Lily and Remus laughed.
‘It's a talent,’ James said, shrugging. He opened his arms for Lily and she crawled into them. She grinned as she kissed his cheek.
Remus was watching them with an amused expression. ‘So, when’s the wedding?’ Sirius roared with laughter and promptly rolled off his bed, hitting the floor with a thump.
‘Well,’ Lily said thoughtfully, ‘I think we should wait for graduation, but after that...’
Remus looked shocked, and Sirius, who resurfaced on the other side of his mattress looked ready to faint. ‘You’re getting married?!’ Sirius cried.
‘No time soon,’ Lily assured them with a laugh.
Sirius clutched his chest. ‘Merlin! Don’t do that to me, Lils!’
‘Do that to you, Pads?' James laughed. 'This was the first I’ve heard about us marrying and I’m supposed to be the groom!’
‘Liar,’ Lily said, kissing him. ‘You proposed in third year, remember?’
James grinned. ‘And if I remember correctly, you said no.’
‘There was an insult in there somewhere too,’ Sirius added helpfully.
'"The only time I'll go anywhere near you while there's a minister around will be at your funeral!"' Remus cried, in a very poor imitation of Lily's voice.
'Then you assured him you would be very, very sad,' Sirius said. His lips twitched.
'Made my day,' James said cheerfully.
'You clearly missed the sarcasm,' Lily said, laughing.
'No, I ignored it,' James said with dignity. 'There's a difference. Anyway, marriage. I’m curious? What’s changed to make you consider it now?’
‘Well, we’re dating,’ Lily said with a laugh.
‘Would you really marry me?’ James asked softly, as the door clicked shut. Lily glanced around and realised Sirius and Remus had left.
‘I don’t know.’ She blushed. ‘The concept of being your wife doesn’t seem as awful as it used to.’
James grinned and kissed her. ‘I love you, you know.’
Lily smiled. ‘I know.’ Her smile faltered. ‘I-’
‘I know you can’t say it yet,’ James said brightly. ‘I’d be shocked if you could. We’ve been together for about a month, and before that, you hated me.’
‘Sorry,’ Lily mumbled.
‘Don’t be,’ James shifted, tightening his hold on her. He planted a soft kiss on the side of her mouth. ‘You’ll get there eventually.’
Unable to help herself, Lily wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him.
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