-Mary Ann McDonald and Alice Catherine Prewett-
"This month has flown by." James acknowledged as Sirius and him walked up to the Hogwarts Express.
Sirius looked at James with an amused smirk. "Always observant Prongs."
"Oh sod off Padfoot," James scowled elbowing Sirius in the gut.
Sirius snickered to himself as James walker further ahead.
Although his best friend was keen on busting his balls James was focusing on the positives. He wasn't going to set himself for failure this year. This year, he wasn't going to make a fool out of himself. He was going to get it together this year. He was going to win the Quidditch cup. He was going to improve his potions marks enough to be top student and make his parents proud of him. But most of all he was going to get Lily Evans to stop hating him.
His spirits were high and well as he strutted through the platform. He greeted students he remembered and looked for people he knew well. First he looked for Marlene, Remus or even Dorcas, but after awhile he couldn't even lie to himself. He wasn't looking for Marlene's tall blonde self, Dorcas's bouncy brown hair or Remus's tall scarred form. He was looking for red hair that shined so bright in the sun he could have sworn it was on fire.
"James," A familiar voice sighed grabbing his arm. "I thought you actually listened to me, but I can see by that far away look in your eyes that it's not true."
"You know me Marls," James beamed pulling her into a hug.
"That's true." She grinned, her blonde hair falling into her face. "You looking into any recruits yet?"
He laughed, "Marls, we aren't even on the train yet."
"Okay…" He wrapped an arm around her, "We need to fill three positions, one beater, two chasers. So Sirius, Rick, you and I will be looking at-"
Dorcas interjected a loud scoff; her eyes squinted in disgust behind her thick sunglasses. "Please tell me, you two aren't going to be talking about Quidditch the whole train ride. Because if you are I will go sit with the brainyacks."
"You know you couldn't stand to sit and listen to Mary, Alice and Lily go on and on about N.E.W.T. requirements." Marlene snorted wisely, as she and James looked down at Dorcas.
"Yeah Dorky," James smirked, "You know you can't stay away from a small compartment full of attractive men."
Dorcas popped a hand on her curvy hip giving James a dirty look. "Brainyacks it is."
Sirius, Remus and Peter walked up to them laughing hysterically, Sirius laughing the hardest.
"-can't believe that!" Sirius cried, holding his sides as if they were about to split.
"What?" Dorcas asked them, and then narrowed her eyes at Sirius, "What did you do?"
Remus spoke first, "Snape fell, and… and knocked all off his things over."
"And revealed a rather unhygienic looking pair of trainers." Sirius commented with a wild laugh.
"Please tell me you guys didn't push him." Marlene groaned. "You know I know he was a royal dick to Lily, but the way you guys go out of your way to kick him is really-"
"Completely and totally inappropriate." Lily suggested as she moved to stand in between Dorcas and Marlene. Her voice was light, but all of them could feel the violent disapproval in her tone.
An awkward silence took over as the boy’s laughs died, and everyone suddenly became very uncomfortable.
"Are you sitting with us or them Mar?" Lily asked quietly.
Marlene frowned, "I'll start off with the boys and then see you guys later."
"Alright," Lily then linked arms with Dorcas, shot James a nasty look and stalked off.
Marlene grimaced, and looked at Remus, James, Sirius and Peter. "You guys really are killing me."
Lily stormed into their typical compartment. Mary and Alice were already inside reading side by side. Alice had chocolate brown hair that cupped and accented her adorable heart shaped face and small little nose. Mary on the other hand had very tan skin, extremely dark hair and piercing blue eyes. But Lily didn't take the time to acknowledge her friends; she was too infuriated by what just happened.
She had always thought the Marauders were mean and senseless pricks, but she had hoped that after last year they would at least put their energy elsewhere. But they were the same bullies they were last year, still picking on people just because they could so they could boost themselves up higher than they already were. What was wrong with them? Sure she hated Severus, and she didn't want to talk to him ever again, but she didn't want him to be hurt or humiliated.
"They are just the biggest group of arses I've ever seen!" She screamed furiously.
Alice didn't even look up from her book, but Mary did with a knowing look. "Let me guess, Potter, Lupin, Black and Pettigrew right?"
Dorcas nodded at Mary rolling her eyes in disdain. "You're a smart cookie there Mare."
Mary shook her head with a small smile as she looked back at her book. "I do what I can."
Alice said, "Lily why don't you sit down and calm down honey?"
"I just…I don't get it! How can girls flock at their feet?! They are the biggest group of idiots!"
Dorcas moved out Lily's angry zone and sat down next to Alice.
Automatically Alice pulled her into a warm motherly hug. "How are you?"
Alice smiled and put down her book, "Good. I miss Frank like crazy. We spent the whole summer tied at the hip, but he's really excited about the Auror program. I'm looking forward to Charms club, I'm president this year you know." She admitted softly.
"Well you earned it, you know."
"Enough about me. How have you been?"
Dorcas's gave her a small frown. "Okay…you know."
"I heard about your parent's. Who are you staying with?"
"Volleying between my mum's and my grandma's." She whispered.
Alice squeezed her hand reassuringly, her blue eyes full of warmth and concern. "Well if you ever need to a couch to crash mine's always open."
"But he's a complete moron!" Lily yelled to the room, continuing her rant though she had continuously lost her audience.
Mary however had reached her limit. "Lily, enough."
"James wasn't even involved Lil," Dorcas backed Mary.
"He's their leader, of course he was." Lily huffed sitting down next to Mary.
"They aren't a cult Lily. Remus, Peter and Sirius are perfectly capable of making their own decisions." Alice reasoned giving her a smile.
Lily crossed her arms, and scowled. "Whatever."
Dorcas leaned forward and addressed Mary. "What's new?"
"Economy's failing, the ministry is in shambles…they raised the price on Bernie bots beans." She mused.
"So everything's on an upswing?" Alice snickered.
Mary snorted and went back to reading, Arthimancy for the Ages. "I suppose you could say that."
A few compartments over James was sulking in the corner while Marlene, Sirius, Peter and Remus played exploding snap on the floor. As the room filled with cries of laughter and groans of disappointment James starred out the window as the beautiful countryside passed them by.
He hated that she had this power over him. James told himself time and time again that if she could just see what a good person he was then maybe just maybe he would have a chance. But today he didn't even do anything, and still she glared at him as if he had. That glare had cut through any optimism and hope he might have had. Why did she hate him so much? What was wrong with him? Did he just not see himself clearly? Was she right? Was he really that horrible of a person?
Surrounded by his friends, he couldn't help, but hope there was at least one thing redeemable about him. There had to be something his friends saw in him that Lily would find admirable. He never doubted himself when she wasn't around. Without Lily he was confident, sure of himself, and unstoppable force. But one look from her and he was torn a part. At first Sirius thought it was because she had turned him down, but it wasn't. He had always loved Lily. James loved the way she put all of her drive into the things she cared about. He loved the way she went out of her way to help other people. But most of all he loved her laugh. It was so gentle and high pitched that it always brought a smile to his face. It hurt him that such a kind woman was so personally offended by everything he did.
Marlene got up to go sit with Lily and Sirius and Peter went off to find some snacks. Leaving Remus alone with James.
"What's on your mind Prongs?" Remus asked softly, his amber eyes flickering with interest.
"I think…" James let out a short heavy sigh. "I think I'm going to stay away from Lily for a bit."
Remus rolled his eyes with wry smirk. "Yeah I've heard that before. 'I'll never say another word to her again Moony,' and less than a week later your back at it."
"No, honestly. I think I'm going to pull back."
"Why the sudden change?"
"I think I've just finally realized…She really hates me Moony," James said in a dejected tone, his eyes laced with pain. "No matter what I do, no matter what I say she sees me lower than Snevillus."
Remus opened his mouth to say something. It was going to be something supportive like, 'Don't worry about it,' or, 'she'll come around.' But James was too serious for Remus to just brush him off. For a minute Remus didn't know quite what to say. Sirius was the best to advise when it came to girls not him. His relationship with Marlene made that perfectly clear, but Sirius wasn't here, he was and he had to say something.
"Why don't you try dating someone else?"
"Like who?" James scoffed as if there was no other woman in the world.
Remus shrugged, "I don't know. You're the one who is going to have to snog her. I'm just saying maybe if you step back and see what else is out there it will help."
"That's exactly what Marlene said I should do," James said, leaning over onto his thighs.
"Well I'm not surprised, she's very smart."
James eyed Remus suspiciously. "You never did say what happened between you two when you went over her house."
"We didn't get back together or anything like that. We just…" Remus paused looking for the right words. "We just got some closure. I think we'll be okay now."
"Good…I was worried about her." James admitted, running a hand through his hair. "She's the most open person I know, if I ask her something she'll always tell me the truth, but when I asked how she was doing she didn't want to tell me."
Remus frowned. "I didn't mean to hurt her."
"I know you didn't, and she knows that to," James looked Remus dead in the eye. "But you have this weird notion that because of what you go through every month no one cares about you."
"I don't mean us," James waved him off. "I mean anyone that isn't a Marauder and that's not true. If anyone cares about you, you have the power to hurt them."
Remus was caught off guard by this statement. He knew his best friend was smart. You didn't get the best grades in the class by being dumb, but he had these moments where he would see the world with such clarity and say something that addressed that. It didn't happen that much around Sirius or Peter, but every once in awhile when James wasn't running around causing mischief Remus saw real intelligence in James.
Mr. Potter had always went out of his way to make sure James was the most well read, well cultured kid his age. He'd taken his son all around the world, and forced him to read millions of books since he was young. Somehow in the process James must have actually picked something up from it.
"I never thought about it that way," Remus whispered thoughtfully.
"Well that's because you assume that no one cares about you. So if they can't care about you, then they won't mind if you aren't around. And that's bullocks."
Remus leaned back and sighed. "You don't think Marlene secretly hates me do you? That she's putting on that she likes me so I won't feel bad?"
"It's possible, but the only way to know for sure is to talk to her and repent."
"I have!" Remus said defensively.
James rolled his eyes. "Don't you know anything about women Moony? They need to hear that your sorry, but they also need to see it."
"How would you know?"
"Have you met my mother?" James laughed, his somber expression fading.
Remus smiled as well. "I suppose you're right."
"It happens more often than you'd care to admit Moony." James winked before rising to his feet.
"Where are you going?"
James leaned against the doorway haughtily, "Moony how am I supposed to snatch a bird up for this year if I don't have list of potential girls?"
"You make it sound like Quidditch." Remus snorted.
"Everything is like Quidditch." James scoffed back before sauntering away.
The opposite way down the hall, Marlene was moving towards Lily's compartment when a tall disgusting seventh year Slytherin stepped in front of her. Still in her muggle jeans and baggy Quidditch practice jersey, Marlene crossed her arms and glowered at the vulgar excuse for a human being.
"What do you want Avery?"
He leaned forward suggestively, licking his lips. "Well I see you have certainly filled out there McKinnon."
"Well spotted Avery," She scowled, "Now move, you're taking up my breathing space."
Taking another step forward he sneered, "I can do more than that if you'd like."
"I wouldn't touch you if I had a choice between you and every other creature on the planet." Marlene said in a voice of complete and total loathing. "You pretentious little fuck."
Dorcas let out a delighted laugh, and popped her head out of the compartment. Rarely did Marlene ever truly lose her temper, but Dorcas loved it when she did.
"Is he bothering you Mar?"
"Yes," She spat glowering at Avery, "But he is leaving now."
Avery sneered, "You'll give in eventually."
"Why don't you hold your breath for me until then eh?" She snapped lethally.
Marlene let out a relieved sigh and then gave an exasperated look at Dorcas. "What is wrong with men? You have boobs so they assume that means you want them to talk to you like you're a piece of meat?"
"Exactly what they think." Dorcas shrugged.
"Well… fuck that."
"I dare you to go streak down the corridor," Dorcas whispered suddenly her dark eyes alight with excitement.
Marlene looked at her as if she'd gone mad. There was no way Marlene McKinnon would ever do such a thing. Marlene could catch a snitch in less than fifteen seconds, she was classically trained to be able to dance, sing and reach the top drawer of the pantry. But one thing she wasn't was a streaker. Dorcas always paraded around the lake in her bikini, but Marlene preferred to be more covered up than that, which gave her an idea.
"Why don't you?"
"Fine," Dorcas handed Marlene her jacket, "Maybe I will."
"I don't believe you."
Dorcas slowly took off her shoes, her tie, her blouse, and then her skirt in the middle of the corridor. Marlene's jaw dropped as her bright blue eyes widened in horror.
"Dor...Dorcas!" She stammered, "Put your clothes back on!"
"Nope," Dorcas said mischievously, before putting her wand to her face and whispering a spell to make it invisible.
"Maybe," She then tossed her bra and underwear and Marlene before bolting down the hall.
Shocked Marlene watched her best friend, unable to do anything to stop her. Dorcas wasn't the most athletic person at all, but since she had kicked off her heels and all of her clothes she seemed to be much faster.
Lily came out of the compartment giving Marlene a curious glance. "Coming in Mar?"
"Uh," Marlene gulped blocking Lily's view of the hallway, "Yes of course…"
Marlene knew she couldn't tell Lily, so she just shook her head and went into the compartment.
The song in the summary is Gotta Figure This Out By: Erin McCarley.
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