‘I asked,’ Professor McGonagall repeated curtly, ‘if you might demonstrate.’
‘Oh, er, yeah,’ he said, looking sideways at Peter for help. Peter shrugged. Sirius frowned. James never needed help in Transfiguration, and if he did, Peter was the last one he’d ask. James scrunched up his face and jabbed his umbrella stand with his wand. ‘Alica Phoenicopteri!’ One straggly leg poked out the side, and the stand wobbled before toppling over with a squawk. It was hardly the flamingo McGonagall had been hoping for. The intensity of Sirius’ glare increased. ‘Oops,’ James said, grinning around the chuckling class.
Sirius caught Remus’ eye, glowering. In the front row, Lily looked a little annoyed. James grinned around at the class, seeming slightly embarrassed, but also pleased with himself. He noticed Sirius looking and winked.
Unable to take it any longer, Sirius pushed away from his desk, scooped his belongings into his bag and stormed out of the classroom, slamming the door behind him. He thundered down the corridor, not really sure where he was going, other than away from Transfiguration. He didn’t care what McGonagall thought at this point. He got good grades, and despite her hard exterior, Sirius suspected she had a soft spot for him and the other Marauders. Besides, he had more important things to worry about, namely James. That git.
Sirius growled quietly. Next to him, a suit of armour exploded. And another, several metres down the hall. Then another. Doors rattled on their hinges and banners flapped violently in a wind that wasn’t there.
‘Sirius!’ He turned with clenched fists to glower at Remus, who slipped out of the classroom, closing the door quietly. ‘Padfoot?’ he said anxiously. Sirius’ anger drained away at the sight of his friend’s concerned face. The noises and destruction stopped. ‘Paddy, what are you doing?’
‘It was an accident,’ Sirius huffed. He hadn’t meant to lose control like that, and he’d made quite a mess. He pulled out his wand. ‘Reparo.’ He glanced at Remus, whose face was impassive. ‘Is Minnie angry?’ he asked in a small voice. Maybe he did care what she thought. But only a little bit.
Remus twisted his mouth. ‘A little. I- er... I’ve got a note here saying we’ll be late to Charms... McGonagall...er... well, she told me to take you to the Hospital Wing.’
‘I’m not going,’ Sirius growled.
Remus’ chocolate eyes scanned his face. ‘I think a potion to calm you down might be a good idea,’ he said finally.
‘No!’ Sirius snapped, aiming a kick at the newly repaired suit of armour. Remus flinched. ‘And don’t you look at me like that, Moony! I’m not unstable!’ Students were beginning to join them in the previously empty hall.
Remus eyed the other students and made a shushing gesture. ‘I never said you were-’
‘You were thinking it!’ Sirius said sullenly. Remus grimaced, smiling apologetically at Professor Flitwick who was passing by. ‘It’s not me!’ Sirius insisted. His face contorted and he balled his hands up. The invisible wind blew again, knocking the littler Charms professor over. Remus sighed and towed him over to the side of the hall, where they were out of the way. Sirius succumbed with ill-grace. ‘It’s not me,’ he said again. ‘It’s that stupid git!’ Sirius flung a hand out to point at James who was leaving the Transfiguration room with Lily and Peter.
‘Then why are you shouting at me?’ Remus snapped. ‘I’m on your side, remember?’
Sirius was on the verge of retorting and then thought better of it. He snapped his mouth shut and glared down at his feet. ‘Sorry,’ he mumbled. Remus was right. He wasn’t the enemy. James, or at least, the-boy-who-looked-a-lot-like-James-Prongs-Potter-but-bloody-well-wasn’t, was the enemy.
‘It’s all right,’ Remus said tiredly. ‘I understand, but Merlin, Padfoot! I haven’t seen you this agitated since the Dorea and Charlus...’ Sirius sighed. He had almost wandlessly blown up Remus’ bedroom after the Potter’s funeral, after being so overwhelmed with grief and anger at their murder. James of course, had- No. Thinking about James was painful. Sirius glared over at the messy haired boy who was chatting animatedly with Katelyn, much to Lily’s obvious displeasure.
Sirius gritted his teeth and forced himself to look at Remus. ‘How about that calming potion?’ He growled, attempting to smother the urge to hit something.
* * *
‘This is boring,’ James complained. He had been acting strangely for the last few days, so the comment didn’t surprise her, but it still stung.
Lily’s smile faltered. ‘I thought you liked patrolling with me.’
‘I like spending time with you, just not here,’ James said, waving a hand. ‘Head Boy is such a tedious duty.’
‘James.’ Something was obviously bothering him; he hadn’t held her hand once. That was another thing; she was upset James didn’t trust her enough to tell her something was wrong. She suspected it was something that involved the other Marauders, since Sirius and Remus were miserable and keeping their distance from him.
‘We’ll just have to make our own fun,’ he said suddenly, smirking. ‘After you, Evans,’ he said, opening a door to an empty classroom.
‘We’re on duty,’ Lily said uncomfortably.
Lily half-smiled. ‘So I don’t think now is the right time for whatever you’ve got in mind.’ James gave her a sulky look, and then, before she realised what was happening, he had closed the space between them and was kissing her. She kissed him back for a few seconds and then gently pulled away, grinning at his disgruntled expression. ‘Not now,’ she said. James frowned and tried to kiss her again. With a frown now matching his, Lily ducked her head. ‘James,’ she said warningly.
‘Fine,’ he huffed, crossing his arms. They set off down the corridor again in uncomfortable silence. James was fuming, and Lily was a little concerned. This was the first time that James had attempted to drag her off to snog. Usually they’d sneak a few kisses as they patrolled, but that had always seemed natural. This was different somehow. More... forced.
The two of them reached the Fat Lady an hour later, having not spoken for a considerable time. ‘You’re being immature, you know,’ Lily said, annoyed, once they were inside the Common Room.
‘I’m the immature one?’ James snarled.
Lily took a step back. For the first time, since knowing him, she felt truly afraid to be around him. ‘We were on duty,’ she said gently, trying to calm him down. ‘It was inappropriate.’
The smirk was back, though it seemed a little twisted. ‘Well,’ he said, taking a step closer, ‘we’re not on duty anymore, are we?’
Lily took another step back, pulling her arm away. She was worried by the sudden change of attitude. He tried to kiss her again but she turned her face away. ‘I’m not in the mood.’
James glared at her, his pride obviously stung. ‘Am I not good enough for you or something?’ he said furiously. ‘We haven’t spent much time together today at all, and then we get some alone time and you’re “not in the mood”?!’
‘Who are you?’ Lily snapped, her tone leaving making it clear she didn’t expect an answer. She had been a little worried about his attitude before, but concern was long gone and replaced by anger. ‘Where’s James, the boy who loves me?’ James glared at her. ‘Seriously,’ she had hoped he might smile at the offer of a “serious/Sirius” joke, but he didn’t, ‘we were talking about marriage a few days back and then I don’t kiss you and you hate me! I don’t know where the boy I agreed to go out with is,’ she said, jabbing his chest with her finger, ‘but I want him back or we’re done, because I do not like the way you’ve been acting these last few days!’ James said nothing, crossing his arms over his chest. Lily’s eyes narrowed as she swallowed back a hundred other accusations. Instead, she took a steadying breath. ‘I’m going to bed.’
‘Now who’s the immature one?’ James called at her retreating back, having apparently found his voice. ‘If you’ve got a problem, Lils, then let’s talk instead of avoiding the issue!’
‘I do have a problem!’ she shouted, rounding on him. He took a step back. ‘I don’t know what’s bothering you, but I know something’s up! Apart from being offended that you haven’t told me what the issue is, I’m worried about you!’ James stared at her. ‘Sirius told me you could hardly fly in a straight line at Quidditch training and I’m in all your classes so I know that you’ve been falling behind in work!’
‘There are more important things,’ James said mulishly.
‘Like what?’ Lily cried. ‘And don’t you dare tell me Quidditch when you've been complaining about the upcoming game, or friendship when you’ve been avoiding Sirius and Remus for nearly a week!’
‘That’s not my fault! Sirius won’t come near me and Remus won’t either because he’s too busy following Sirius around like some sort of lost puppy,’ James sounded disgusted.
‘That’s not funny,’ Lily snapped.
‘It’s true. They’re avoiding me!’
‘And you’ve done nothing to fix it! They’re miserable, James!’
‘You’ve been talking about me?’ James demanded, looking furious.
‘We’re worried about you!’
‘Oh, so you’re with them now?’ James snarled. ‘Clearly the only one I can trust anymore is Wormtail!’
‘Keep acting like this and you won’t even have him,’ Lily said coldly.
James fell silent. Once it was quiet, Lily felt her anger drain away, gone as quickly as it had come. All that remained was the worry, and she wanted nothing more than to run at James and hug him, but he didn’t look receptive to affection at the moment. ‘I’m going to bed,’ she thickly and turned and dashed up the stairs.
Lily lay awake for almost an hour, convinced that James would come up, like he had that night they first kissed, and that they would both apologise, and things would be all right between them again. That James would go back to being James, instead of the stranger he’d been lately.
He didn’t come up though, and Lily, who prided herself on her emotional strength, cried quietly into her pillow until she fell asleep.