It was late, a magical fire had been conjured up but as it was summer, it gave off no heat, it was there more for ambiance really.
James was sitting in an armchair close to the fireplace, reclining comfortably with a book propped up in front of him.
He still wore the same slightly dazed grin and he did not notice when a solitary figure padded downstairs.
“What are you doing down here?”
James turned around to see Lily standing in her pyjamas at the bottom of the stairs, her long hair braided into a plait.
“Could ask you the same question,” James said, adjusting his position.
Lily cocked an eyebrow at him and gracefully slid into a chair opposite to him, “Oh, playing that game are we?”
James eyed her bemusedly, “You wouldn’t believe me if I said I was studying,” he said jovially.
She laughed quietly, “You’re right, I wouldn’t,”
He held the book up so that she could see the cover in the dim light, Brewing Destiny: Level 6 Advanced Potions. He wore a kind of satisfied, superior smile, Lily looked at him, mildly impressed.
“The great Potter studying? Where’s a camera when you need it?” she jested lightly.
He threw her an anxious look, raising his finger to his lips, griining broadly “Shh, don’t tell anyone,”
She laughed despite herself, noticing that James had not once run his hand through his hair, in fact he had a slightly calm, serene appearance that she could not quite place…
“Have you and Sirius made it up yet?” she asked boldly.
“Merlin, Evans, don’t be shy!” James exclaimed, admiring her daring.
“Evans? I thought it was ‘Darling Lily’?” she teased airily, recalling Sirius’s spiteful words a few days previous.
A blush rose in his cheeks and his hand was in his hair again. She watched him with a sense of triumph, suddenly acutely aware that she, (and she would never be able to understand why) among all of Hogwarts female population, could make James Potter nervous.
“So have you?” she asked again, relieving him from some his embarrassment.
“Yeah, we have, all on speaking terms again,” he said quickly.
She smiled, “Good, it was getting a bit boring without the you lot breaking up the monotony,” she said dryly.
James beamed proudly at her, “So what are you down here for?”
She sighed, “You actually, well it’s your fault I’m down here anyway,”
James just waited for her to answer, slight smile on his face.
“It’s Marty, actually, she’s sulking again because she thinks I split up the dream team,” she explained, rolling her eyes.
“Well you can now assure her that all is well in the world,”
Lily let out a derisive noise, “Really Potter, you should have a disclaimer above your bed, “Just Because You’re Here Tonight Doesn’t Mean I Will Be Tomorrow Morning” or something to that effect," she joked.
James’s cheeks flamed up almost immediately but he recovered quickly, “I don’t think that would fit on the sign, I could stitch it into the bed cover, though,”
“I somehow think they’d spend more time looking at the ceiling,” she quipped, a mischievous smile on her own face.
He was dumbstruck by the remark, never having heard anything un-towards come out of Lily Evans’ mouth and now they were discussing, of all things, his sex life. He inwardly marveled at her quick humour.
Lily chuckled seeing the frozen expression on his face, as if he was searching for a witty comeback but had been hit by lightning in the process.
He shook his head, grinning in an amused sort of way, “I didn’t expect that coming from future Head Girl,” he said finally.
“What makes you think I’m going to be?”
James snorted, “Well, it sure as hell isn’t going to be Marty, and you’ve been our faithful, friendly, female prefect these 2 years past, no one deserves it more than you,” he said earnestly.
Lily viewed him quizzically, unsure as to how to react to a compliment from James Potter (a compliment that didn’t involve an immediate request for her company and a lurid grin from Sirius), instead she asked, “So you think Remus will get Head Boy?”
“Nah, Sirius will get it and he’ll drive Gryffindor into the ground, teaching all first years to be mad delinquents, Slytherin will never know what hit ‘em” he kidded. She shuddered at the thought, laughing softly too, “Moony deserves it,” James said quietly, serious now, “He’ll get it and together the two of you will reign,” he said this without the slightest touch of jealously or bitterness in his voice.
She had noted Remus’s nickname, she’d heard it many times before, but she’d never been in a position to ask…”Why do you call him Moony?”
James’ expression changed from gleefully indulged to one of wary concern and regret, “Just a nickname,” he said lightly. He pushed himself up off the couch, grabbing his book, “Better get to bed, exams coming Evans, need to rest my wicked mind,” he joked, but the humour had evaporated from his voice. “Night,” he said as he walked up to his dorm, he threw a longing glance after her, but managed to force himself up the few remaining steps.
Lily sat contemplating James’s hurried exit, she cursed herself silently for saying that, for letting her curiosity get the better of her, but then…that would mean she would have had to have been enjoying a conversation with him…and that had certainly never happened before.
She sighed resignedly, settling herself down into the armchair, feeling strangely uneasy. Trying to push Thurston to the forerunner of her thoughts.
Days passed, exams came and went. James, Sirius, Remus and Lily were all competing for the highest marks, the number one position…even Ravenclaw couldn’t give them a run for their money. It was always pointless trying to guess who would top what, the marks were generally extremely close.
Sirius topped Transfiguration, receiving a most beneficiary look from McGonagall when he had received the mark back on his exam. She had been overflowing with pride for her most talented and (albeit grudgingly) favourite student, she had even insisted on reciting some of his answers back to the class, a request to which he simply lowered his head and grinned impishly, smoothly complimenting her with: “And I could have never have done it without you, Professor.” She had almost allowed herself to laugh as he launched into a rambunctious and improvised ode to Transfiguration and its teacher.
As he finished his impromptu performance, she stared at him down through her glasses, a twitch at the sides of her mouth, “I thank you Mr. Black, for not presenting you entire exam in rhyming couplets, be thankful that you will never be in a position where we require you to sing,” she said it tightly, but her eyes were twinkling with affection.
Remus had topped Ancient Runes and Arithmancy, finding himself very happy indeed with his results, after all, coming second or third or fourth after Lily, James and Sirius was a huge accomplishment in itself.
James had topped Defence Against the Dark Arts, as had been expected, though he had not expected to come first in Potions, but then again, Snape had not had to take the exam, so perhaps it was just luck.
Lily, of course, had topped Charms and also Herbology.
Peter had barely scraped Acceptable on all of his exams, but it was enough, his mother would be appreciative that he had at least passed.
By way of tradition the term ended with a party: to farewell the 7th Years and welcome the 6th Years, to celebrate the end of exams and just any old excuse they could think up for throwing a party.
The Gryffindor common room was decked with large banners, each baring the name of one of their 7th Years. Sirius and Remus had stolen away into Hogsmeade and brought back as many supplies as humanly possible.
Sirius had also acquired a fair few flasks of Firewhisky from the Hog’s Head, just to get the party started.
“Well, Prongs, I reckon we’ll have our work cut out for us next year,” Sirius said, the four of them sitting on the floor, drinking Butterbeer.
James cocked an eyebrow at him, “I’m guessing you don’t mean school work,”
“You even have to ask?” he grinned.
“I don’t know, Padfoot, I think we might actually have to ‘buckle down’ as McGonagall puts it,”
“I’d have to be extremely desperate to study, I’d rather fail then be caught with my head in a book,”
Remus looked at them both incredulously, “I think I’ll kill you both myself if you fail, or alternately, if you pass without any study at all I may kill myself,” he said taking a sip of his Butterbeer.
“Relax Moony, we’ll be good little boys and study ourselves to the point of implosion,” Sirius assured him.
“No you won’t,”
“Have I ever lied to you?”
“Okay, well, yes, but for you Moony, we’ll study,”
“Are you even sure you’d be able to recognize a book?”
“No, you shall have to teach me of these strange and mysterious objects called ‘books’. Tell me, Oh great Professor Lupin, impart your knowledge to me,” Sirius begged grasping the hem of Remus’s robe in a pleading fashion.
Remus laughed and shoved him away, “Thank God you don’t have to beg for dates, Padfoot, you’re terrible at it,”
James snickered at their playful argument, aware that only a week or so ago he would have thought a scene like this to be impossible.
After Sirius and Remus had reconciled he had tried to speak to Sirius alone, but they’d never really got round to the ‘speaking’ part, the moment they’d stepped into the dorms, Sirius had hugged James until his breathing was severely constricted, and James had been inclined to hug him back, unable to stave off the relief and joy he felt at having his best friend back in his life. The distance between them in those too long days had been painful.
Part of him was still afraid, afraid of the part of Sirius that he could not control, afraid that this would not be the last time his anger and his rage would get him in to trouble…and he worried that Dumbledore would not be there to protect him.
But now was not the time to commiserate over what might be, now was a time to celebrate, to relax, to enjoy and get merrily drunk with ones best friends.
“When have I had to beg for a date?” Remus asked testily.
“Not in words, you just use those puppy dog eyes and it gets them every time,” Sirius answered.
“I do not use ‘puppy dog eyes’” Remus said through gritted teeth.
“Girls seem to think you’re the strong silent type, they go nuts for a man of mystery…you really should start using that to your advantage.” Remus just sighed at this comment.
“How did we get from study to girls?” James wondered out loud.
Sirius and Remus turned to him grinning, “Natural transition Prongs, for why does one study if not to impress girls? Why does one do anything if not to impress girls?”
Remus snorted, James shook his head, “One day, some girl is going to tie you down, Padfoot, and we will laugh at you,”
“No girl is ever going to tie me down!” Sirius proclaimed.
“You’re suggesting that it might be a boy then, because if you lean that way I have a cousin…” James said casually, teasing grin on his face, Sirius shoved him playfully.
“Actually, now that you mention it…” Sirius growled seductively, flashing James a predatory grin.
“If only I’d known,” James said sarcastically, rolling his eyes.
“I think you two would make a lovely couple,” said a voice hovering above them, it was Iphigenia, standing above them with a bemused grin on her face, “But please, think of the children,” she said dramatically.
Peter screwed up his nose, “This is kind of giving me the collywobbles,” he said, shuddering.
Sirius leered mischievously, “What is? The thought of James and I entwined in lusty embrace? Legs thrown casually on our bedspreads, slick with sweat, I think I would be tracing little circles on his chest…” he cocked his head and a mock dreamy expression came over his face.
“I think its more the thought of you two having children, but thanks Padfoot, now I’m going to have nightmares,” Remus said, cringing.
Sirius’s eyes lit up again with the thought of scandalizing his friends, “What do think Prongs? Should we give it a go?”
“Didn’t you hear? Sorry Padfoot, but my heart belongs to Moony,”
“We can include him, don’t blush like that Moony, you know you want it,” Sirius hooked his arm around James’s neck pulling him in for a hug; he rested his head on his shoulder, pulling a simperingly sweet lovelorn face.
Remus smothered his face with his hands, shaking his head incredulously.
“You’re going to be fuelling a lot of girls fantasies tonight,” Iphigenia chuckled.
“Don’t we every night?” Sirius said slyly.
“You’d like to think so,”
She rolled her eyes, “ I did actually come over here to ask you something, but I’ll leave you three to get more intimately acquainted, be gentle on young Remus,” she giggled and walked away, leaving Remus thoroughly embarrassed, his head buried in his hands.
Peter grinned widely at Remus, laughing as the blush rose up his face.
Sirius slapped him on the back, barking out his loud laugh, “Come now Moony, if you don’t want to join in you can just watch…”