When I woke up the next morning, the lighting looked all wrong. I knew why when I saw the clock hands read 12:03. I'd never been the sort of person prone to sleeping in, and I certainly had never slept past noon. I breathed a sigh of relief after realizing that it was only Sunday, and I could stop panicking about missing class.
When I finally made my way to the Great Hall, lunch was being served. The room was filled with the babble of conversation. I spotted James sitting with Gabby and sighed. I guessed that my story was a bit too unbelievable and he'd gone back to not believing me just as he'd predictated. He probably thought I was completely nutters by now. After spending all that time with him the previous night, I was not looking forward to researching on my own. I sat down at my (now) usual seat at the Hufflepuff table and began to pile up my plate. I didn’t look up to see who had plopped down across from me until I heard James’ voice.
“Good morning, love. Or should I say, good afternoon? Do you realize that it is, in fact, 12:30?”
“What are you doing here?” I was so astonished, that it came out sounding ruder than I had intended.
“Well, well,” he said, giving me his famous crooked grin. “I didn’t know that you Hufflepuffs were such snobs.”
“Good thing I’m not really a Hufflepuff.”
James snorted. “What if I just wanted to sit with a friend? I mean, you do owe me since you did make me break all of those rules last night.”
“Oh, are you afraid of violating some curfew rules—”
“Don’t forget the breaking into the library after hours, as well,” he interjected.
“—because the James Potter I know is quite the troublemaker. Actually the words prank and Potter have become synonymous with each other, the same way mischief and Marauder have. Speaking of which, where are those menacing friends of yours? Aren’t you lot supposed to be inseparable?”
James gave me another grin before he craned his neck around until he met their eyes. He beckoned for them to sit with us, and while he was distracted, my own eyes flickered to the Gryffindor table to find Gabby. She was staring at James and me with a look mixed with confusion and jealousy. I wrestled with the urge to give her a haughty smile. Serves her right.
“Prongsie,” Sirius began as he took his seat next to James, while Remus sat next to me. After a moment of hesitation, Peter sunk down on the seat next to Sirius. “May I inquire as to why you are sitting all the way over here? Not that I mind, of course,” he added when he noticed Dahlia Parker’s flirtatious glance and responded to it with a wink. Dahlia was one of those girls who was flighty and went into excited hysterics anytime a bloke (particularly Sirius Black) paid any amount of attention to her. She squealed and started whispering with her friends.
James just rolled his eyes. “I just thought a change of pace might be nice. By the way, you all know Lily, right.”
Sirius’s eyes turned mocking. “Of course, seeing as she’s only been going to Hogwarts with us since first year.” He turned to me as he stacked his plate high with food. “You do know that he used fancy you, right? He was always going on about you; it just about drove us mad. I almost disowned him as my best mate when he lost the nerve to ask you out.”
“Yes,” I laughed while James gave Sirius a pained look. “He did mention that last night.”
“Last night?” The smile that crossed Sirius’s face couldn’t be described as anything other than wolfish. “What were you doing together last night? Snogging in the broom closets with dear old Prongsie, were you?”
“No, no. Nothing like that. He just helped me—” I started before I saw James’ eyes widen in warning. “Back to my dorm. I was out past curfew. We got to talking, and that was mentioned," I finished awkwardly.
Remus looked at James and me in suspicion. He had apparently caught the look James had just thrown me. “Uh, huh. Is that why you didn’t come back into the dorm until three in the morning, Prongs?”
Sirius’ face lit up even brighter with amusement. “Now, why would you be lying to us? Come on, out with it. We’re not going to tell the prude if that’s what you’re afraid of.”
“The prude?” I asked. “Who’s that?”
James sighed while Remus explained. “He is referring to Gabby. You did know that they were dating, right?”
Why was there a sudden stab in my chest just then? This wasn’t a big surprise. I did see her kiss him last Friday during Charms. Besides this was James Potter, my stalker. Sensible girls did not fall for their stalkers. You’re still tired, is all. You have been through a lot in the past couple of days.
“I take it you don’t like her very much?”
“We like her just fine,” Remus explained. “It’s just that she’s…”
“She’s positively boring, is what she is,” Sirius finished for him, when Remus trailed off. “She never does anything. I swear the girl is perfect, and I don’t mean that in a good way. I never really liked her, to be honest.”
Peter spoke up for the first time since sitting down. “She’s nice to me.”
“That there proves my point. She’s way too nice. There's no drama, no conflict. Where's the fun in that sort of relationship?”
“Alright, alright.” James’ voice sounded tired as if he’s heard this all before. “We get it; you don’t like Gabby very much. Are you the one dating her?”
Sirius snorted. “Merlin, no.”
“Then shut it.”
“I only think that you could use some scandal in your life. You’ve been so unexciting since you got that bloody Head Boy badge. I think Lily would be the perfect solution for you. A bit of a snog here and there never did any harm.”
I had to speak up at that point. “I don’t think that’s going to happen, Sirius. I’m not interested in anything more than friendship with James.”
He looked dismayed. “Ugh. What happened to this school? What happened to the Marauders? We used to be so much trouble. I think we may have lost our touch. Does anybody else agree with me?”
“I do,” Peter said eagerly.
James shook his head at his best mate. “It’s called maturity, Padfoot. Perhaps you should try it some time.” Then, while Sirius continued to rant, James leaned forward and asked me quietly, “Remind me, why did I ask them to join us over here?”
I laughed quietly. “Because they’re your best mates and you enjoy their company?”
“Merlin only knows why.”
After lunch, and many attempts to dodge Sirius’s questions about what we were doing together the previous night, James and I snuck off to the library. We were quiet for a bit along the way until I broke the silence. “So, have you decided whether you believe me or not yet?”
He gave me an unsure look. “I wouldn’t say that I completely believe. Let’s just say that I’m…intrigued. It's starting to sink in a bit.”
I nodded. “Okay, I’ll take that to be a good thing. So…you and Gabby…”
“Bollocks, not you too. I hear enough of it from my mates. I don’t understand why nobody seems to like her. She’s actually kind of fun to be around. She might not be the type to break any rules, but I like that about her.”
I raised an eyebrow. Had he really not connected the dots about Gabby's involvement?
He sighed in an exaggerated way. “Come on, Lily. Out with it.”
“Fine, but don’t get cross with me.” I took a breath, stalling. “I’m not sure you know her as well as you think.”
James’s brow creased. “What do you mean?”
“Don’t you find it odd that Gabby and I are the only ones that are switched? That everything else is exactly how it was before?”
“Hold on a minute here. Are you saying that Gabby did this?”
“Who else, James? You started dating her last Friday, right? And she was the one that asked you?”
“So, that’s when this whole mess began. She made sure to ask you afterwards. Gabby’s the one that switched us, I’m almost positive.”
He was shaking his head before I finished speaking. “Gabby’s not like that. You heard Sirius at lunch. She really is sort of perfect. I can’t see her doing something like that.”
“Well then what else could have caused it? I mean, I’ve spent the last couple of days observing everything. I can tell you, it really is just her and me that switched, and I certainly didn’t do it.”
“Maybe it was something else. I don’t know. I just know that it couldn’t have been her. Besides, I’m not even sure that I really believe you yet.”
My heart sunk at his last statement. “James, I’m not making this up. I promise. Surely, deep down, you have to feel that something is very, very wrong here. This isn’t the way it’s supposed to be.”
“I don’t know, Lily.” His face was unsure. We were stopped in the middle of the empty corridor. James was staring at my face as if deciding whether or not to believe me. There was a tiny glimmer in his eyes that told me to not give up. The seeds of doubt were beginning to blossom. “Can we drop this for now? I really just need time.”
I nodded and we continued on our way to the library. As long as he was helping me, I knew that I had a chance to change his mind. Gabby may have seemed perfect to him then, but she was bound to mess up sometime. She couldn’t be that good of an actress. I would just have to wait until she did, then I could use that to get my life back. Somehow.
Author’s Note: This was another chapter that I had a lot of fun with the dialogue. I loved writing about Sirius. His words just flowed from my fingers without any effort. I hoped you enjoyed this chapter. I’m excited for the next one, which may turn out to be pretty long. Tell me what you think!