I woke up feeling uncomfortable as the scent of mold permeated the air around me. It sort of disturbed me that this way if waking was actually starting to become familiar to me. I’d fallen asleep on the bloody couch in the Room of Requirement again after a long night of research. What wasn’t familiar was the fact that there were three other people in the room with me.
Sirius was lying on his stomach on top of the plushy rug he’d found rolled up behind a cabinet. His head was resting on an open book, now probably ruined by the trail of drool leaking from the corner of his mouth. I'm sure it was still readable, but who would want to? Peter was lying a few meters from him on the bare floor. He was curled into a ball and his body twitched every now and then. Remus was the closest to me. He was on his back and his mouth was opened wide as he lightly snored.
Remus was actually a very good-looking guy. He had tawny hair that swept his forehead and big gentle eyes that always smiled despite how tired they could look at times. Remus’ face had a few light scars here and there, but I knew this was because of the lycanthropy. I figured it all out in third year when it coincided with what we were studying in Defense Against the Dark Arts. I felt bad for Remus. It couldn’t have been easy to turn into a werewolf every month and hide that from everyone.
It was a shame that not many girls fancied the shy boy. It was James and Sirius who most girls paid attention to. Remus (and especially Peter) seemed to fall in the background of the group. Sirius was the Marauder who gained the highest amount of flirtatious looks. The mischief in his grey eyes had captured the devotion of many of the Hogwarts female population. James was also known to be mischievous, but girls mostly seemed to fall for his arrogant pratheadedness. Personally, I didn’t understand that; I’d fallen for the kindness in him.
Remus was different. While he was like James in the kind way he treated others, he was more straitlaced than both James and Sirius. He was a stickler for the rules, which I respected. I was happy to have the rest of the Marauders in on my secret. I didn't feel as burdened as I had after the fight with James.
We'd stayed up late last night and had gotten some fantastic ideas. After Remus suggested a memory spell, we delved into the other possibilities and decided that it was most probably some type of memory spell/potion combination. Gabby couldn’t have put a spell on the whole school, since that was near impossible. I doubted even Dumbledore could do that were he so inclined. Sirius was the one who suggested that she may have put a memory potion into the food for the whole school, and used a spell for those closest to me to make the memory alteration stronger.
We were stumped as to how Gabby managed to keep me from eating the poisoned food, when I remembered that I didn’t have supper that night. A first year had asked me to tutor him, so I skipped eating to help him. I thought he’d been rather twitchy and nervous as he asked me. The kid never showed, and I went to bed hungry that night.
The harder I thought about that night, the more difficult it was to draw up memories. I wasn't sure, but I had the impression of waking at a noise. After that, though, it was just blackness, as if I'd fallen back asleep.
“Morning, Lily.” My thoughts were interrupted by Remus’ sleepy voice.
“Morning. How’d you sleep?”
“Horribly, and yourself?”
I laughed quietly. “I’m pretty sure I smell like spoiled food. I really hate this couch.”
“You do kind of smell," he said after a sniff, "but I wasn’t going to mention it to be polite and all.”
I laughed again before lapsing into silence. “Oh, Remus, what am I going to do about James?”
“I don’t know. He was really upset last night.”
“I know,” I replied miserably, as I sat up and rubbed my face with my hands. “I didn’t want to hurt him, but I had to push him away somehow. You didn’t see Marlene. She was really scary when she threatened me.”
“So, Marlene and Helen used to be your mates right?”
“Yeah, but I’m not mad at Marlene. She was just trying to be a good friend. She would do the same for me, you know, if we were still friends. She doesn't realize that she's been brainwashed.”
Remus was quiet for a moment before asking, "I was wondering, if Gabby swapped lives with you, were you and James dating before?”
“No,” I said. "She asked him out recently remember? It was the day that everything happened. James and I were just Heads together." Remus smiled at me slyly. “What?”
“Do you fancy him, then?”
I looked away quickly, but I couldn’t hide the hideous blush on my cheeks. “No, I don’t. He’s just a friend.” Remus didn’t look convinced. “Really.”
“Oh, come off it, Lily. Just admit it. The way you just denied it said so much. Besides, I’m pretty sure he fancies you back. Well, at least he did before last night. Just admit it. I won't even tell the others,” he whispered.
I debated silently for a few seconds before giving in. I decided that since I let them in on the whole Gabby situation, why not this too? There were no more secrets between us. “Oh, fine. Yes, I fancy James. Are you happy?”
“Finally she admits it,” said Sirius as he sat up with a crooked grin on his face. He wiped his chin clear of drool. Why didn’t it surprise me that he’d been eavesdropping?
“Oh great, Sirius is awake,” I uttered dryly.
“Why, Evans, I’m hurt. Usually I don’t have to deal with such biting sarcasm after sleeping with a girl.”
“Hardy, har, har. Good thing we just slept in the same room, and that's about as far as it would ever go.”
“Come on, Evans, you know you’ve thought about shagging me at least once.”
I laughed at the absurdity of that statement. Sure, I'd recognized that Sirius was attractive, but I’d never thought about him in a sexual way. “Don’t make me sick.”
Sirius pursed his lips, trying to hide a smile. “I’m going to let that go since I know it’s my best mate that you really want to shag.”
“Is it always like this with him?” I asked Remus.
“I’m afraid so.”
“Must be tiring.”
“Hey,” Sirius interrupted us, “I am sitting right here, you know. It’s rude to talk about someone behind their back.”
“Good thing we’re doing it in front of you then, yeah?”
Sirius narrowed his eyes at me and we all burst out laughing. Peter jolted awake at the sudden sound and looked around at us with bleary eyes. “Wha—what’s going on? What’d I miss?”
Peter’s cluelessness just made us laugh even harder until we could hardly catch our breath. It was then that I realized that this was another relationship that would change when I reversed things back to normal. Not only would I fight for James to be in my life, I would try my damnedest to keep the rest of the Marauders as friends, too.
I shifted in my seat uncomfortably. James was attempting to ignore me while at the same time casting suspicious glares between his friends and me. I wasn’t sure what they told him after returning to their dormitory this morning. When I asked him, Sirius enigmatically replied that they’d take care of it. I assumed that they were going to pretend that they were angry with me on behalf of James, but Sirius kept winking at me throughout breakfast. I really didn’t understand him. Actually, I didn't think anyone understood Sirius.
I was, once again, caught off guard when James cornered me after I slipped from the Great Hall. Why was it that he could so easily sneak up from behind me? He dragged me into an empty broom closet. “What do you think you’re playing at, Evans?”
I blinked up at him rapidly. My mind went blank due to sensory overload at his close proximity. James smelled so good and his lips were so near my own. That’s when it hit me how much I really missed him. After that row we’d had, I'd resigned that moment to being the last encounter I would have with him for a while. Having him so close so soon threw me off. That’s probably why I started to lean closer to him.
Then I stopped myself because I noticed the angry line to James’ lips. Was I really just about to kiss him? Horrified at my lack of self-control, I tried to focus on what he was saying. “What?”
He exhaled angrily. “What the bloody hell do you think you’re doing?”
“What are you talking about?”
“Have you decided to continue screwing with my life?”
“Then what have you done to my mates?” he asked vehemently, cutting me off.
“We’re going to be here an eternity if you’re going to continue acting so daft.”
“But I am daft.” At his raised eyebrow, I amended myself. “You know what I mean. I really have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Padfoot kept talking on and on this morning about how you’re really not that bad and he didn’t know why I was so angry with you. He even told me that you lot spent the evening in the Room researching! What have you done to my mates? Have you started distorting their brains with your lies as well? Maybe you thought that giving your manipulating games one last go would be a laugh.”
Bloody Sirius. He said he’d take care James’s questions, the wanker. James bombarding me like this didn’t seem like Sirius had taken care of it at all. “No, James,” I said in anguish. “They found me in the Room, and yelled at me. I told them that I wasn’t going to bother you anymore…and that I was sorry. I don't know why they stayed. They just did. I swear, I'm not trying to manipulate anyone.”
James looked at me skeptically. His hazel eyes behind his glasses considered me. I looked at the floor. James’ stare was unnerving. “Look at me, Lily,” he said softly. I shook my head. “Please?”
I shook my head again. If he looked into my eyes now, I was sure that he’d see how much I wanted him. A pang shot through my chest when one of James’ knuckles gently lifted my chin. The expression in his eyes had changed to something I couldn’t quite recognize.
“Were you lying to me last night when you said that you were only using me to get to Gabby?”
Yes! Yes! Yes! The word was on the tip of my tongue. I had to fight to keep from spilling out of my mouth. “No. No, I wasn’t lying.” The words tasted foul as I forced them out. “I was in the Room because…well, because I have no friends, James. How else am I supposed to pass the time? Studying is only interesting for so long.”
James looked disappointed before it turned back to the skeptical look. “So, Marlene didn’t threaten you in the loos yesterday?”
“How did you know that?” I asked in shock before I could contain myself.
He smiled. “I have my ways.”
“Sirius,” I said on a sigh. Of course. I closed my eyes and imagined all of the hexes I’d throw at him when I’d get the chance. "If you knew, then what was with this whole thing here?" I gestured to the small cupboard around me.
“Best mates tell each other everything,” James said with a shrug. “We talked about it, and I decided that they might be right. Besides, I have this strange feeling about you. It's like I'm drawn to you, or something. I can't explain it. Anyway, I needed to hear the truth from you directly before I decided to believe you again. Why did you lie to me, Lils?”
“Have you met Marlene? Do you realize how scary she can be?” I asked, realizing that I’d just admitted it to lying about everything. "Besides, I don't want to get into a duel with one of my best mates."
James took a step closer, making my heart jump in my chest when he cupped my face in his hands. He was smiling slightly. “Don’t worry about Marlene. I have a plan.” His head dipped closer to mine and I found it suddenly hard to breathe.
Just before James’ lips touched mine, however, the door flew open. James and I leapt apart to opposite sides of the tiny cupboard. “Did he tell you the plan yet?” asked a bright, cheerful voice. The bloody wanker.
Three guesses who it was, and the first two don’t count.