Chapter 6 : Don't Panic
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--Sirius Orion Black--
"I can't believe you did that." Marlene whispered to Dorcas as they climbed into the carriage going to the castle.
Dorcas grinned at Marlene, "You never know when you're going to die kiddo, might as well go out flashing."
"Lily is going to kill you when she finds out i."
"It's my body," Dorcas said unconcerned.
Marlene shook her head laughing. "I can't believe you did that."
"What's going to happen to me? They can't admit it's me without saying how they know it's me. You couldn't see my face Mar."
Marlene was laughing so hard she was shaking. Her eyes started watering she was laughing so hard. "I ...I just …keep picturing their faces…Oh Merlin…My heart!"
"What's so funny?" Mary climbed into the carriage giving them both suspicious looks.
"Nothing," Dorcas smiled innocently, moving over so Alice could sit down next to her.
In a matter of seconds Lily, Alice, Dorcas, Marlene and Mary were on their way to the castle. Mary glanced out the window ignoring the rest of them as they dispersed into idle gossip.
"Did you see that girl?" Dorcas questioned in amazement. Her face completely and totally believable.
Alice shook her head, "I heard Sirius Black talking to Remus about it though."
"What did they say?" Marlene wanted to know though she didn't dare look at Dorcas as she asked.
Laughing lightly, her short hair falling into her face, Alice said, "Sirius said she was fit and said he'd never seen Remus's eyes go so wide."
Marlene's smile faded at that, and her lips thinned at that, but only Mary saw that. She thought it was hysterical that Dorcas had impulsively decided to just streak for no-good-reason. But the last thing she wanted to hear was that her ex-boyfriend had been attracted to her best friend. Sure neither Dorcas nor Remus had done anything wrong, but it still stung enough to make her grow quiet.
"Whoever it was," Lily began with an amused smile of her own, "Was too quick. They didn't find her…I thought it was rather funny actually."
"The queen of rules found that funny?"
Lily smiled sheepishly with a shrug. "I always find nudity funny…I don't know why."
"Because you have a sick sense of humor," Dorcas tutted, pretending to scold her.
They all crawled out of their robes clad in their Gryffindor robes and headed to the castle. Lily and Dorcas took the lead talking on and on about something, but Mary and Alice hung back to walk with Marlene.
"You okay Marlene?" Alice asked softly putting a comforting hand on her arm.
Marlene nodded. "Yeah I just don't know if I'm quite ready to go back."
"You still hung up on Lupin?" Mary asked bluntly, but not unkindly.
"I'll be fine." Marlene answered.
Mary and Alice shared a look and linked arms with Marlene. "We know. We just like to ask to make sure."
"Well thank you," Marlene laughed, lighting up.
Dorcas and Lily grew quiet as they walked through the castle doors. In a flash, Lily saw Dorcas wave to Peter through the crowd excitedly as they all were stuck in a crowd stand still.
"You know I'm even surprised your friends with Peter." Lily noted to Dorcas randomly as they waited for the doors to open. "I've always thought, that it was weird."
Dorcas said, "Why?"
"Because…you're blunt, and bold, and he's…not."
The people surrounding them talked loudly of the woman who streaked across the Hogwarts Express, not knowing she was standing right next to them. Dorcas didn't seem to notice. She just took a beat to consider Lily's question.
"On the train ride to Hogwarts first year, Bellatrix Black curse my hair white and told me she did it so everyone else would be able to see I was muggleborn trash." She paused for a second as her voice grew quiet, "And as I cried Peter came over to me. He didn't know the counter curse but he put his arm around me and he promised he would find someone who would. He found Marlene, and she fixed my hair. They were my first friends."
Lily was taken aback by the story. She had never heard a story that showed Peter Pettigrew in a good light. All she ever heard or saw was him trailing after Sirius and James with blind devotion in his eyes. Never once had anyone ever said anything nice about him let alone something so…genuinely compassionate.
The crowd of 2nd through 7th years surged forward as the magnificent and majestic Great Hall doors opened.
"Peter comforted you?" Lily asked finally, still shocked.
"You wouldn't believe he has it in him now, but he walked right up to me and protected me even though he didn't have any reason to."
"That's so… sweet."
"Well it's a hell of a lot better than how you and I met." Dorcas laughed as they moved to sit down on at the Gryffindor table, "I can't believe you threw a cake at me."
Lily eyes narrowed dangerously. "You said you hated The Beatles and thought anyone that liked them were stupid."
"And I stand by that argument."
"Yes, but I've learned to forgive you." Lily smirked.
Dorcas scoffed, "What's there to forget? I made your life great."
"Come on," She elbowed Lily with a smirk. "I liven up your life."
Lily rolled her eyes. "Whatever Dora."
Marlene sat down across from Lily, Mary and Alice moved farther down the table to sit with some of their seventh year friends. James and Remus sat down on either side of Marlene while Sirius and Peter sat down next to Lily.
"Why are you sitting with me?" Marlene asked James curiously.
"I actually wanted to talk to you about something." He started under his breath. "I've been thinking about what you said and Remus agrees."
Marlene didn't like the sound of that at all, but she didn't turn to look at Remus. Instead she asked James. "About what?"
"About broadening my female selection." James shrugged. "I've decided to give your idea a fair shake."
"I'm glad…I really think it's for the best."
James nodded. "I know."
"Well let me see the horrible list you and Sirius assembled…I'm sure there will be at least a handful of bimbos on it."
"Actually," James revealed with a guilty expression. "I didn't consult Sirius on this one."
Marlene's eyebrows rose in surprise. "Really?"
"Well I kind of want to date someone, not just snog them and leave." James said blushing slightly.
"Well then I'll tell you what. Tomorrow during lunch we can go over your prospects okay?"
James rolled his eyes. "Thanks mum."
"What? You know you need a second opinion." She scoffed.
"I suppose so."
James offered her a lopsided grin, which she returned whole-heartedly before reaching over and hugging him. He wrapped his arms around him naturally as he had since they were children. Once they pulled away, James began talking to Benji Fenwick about his summer.
Marlene watched James and Lily as they sat across the table from each other. Neither one said anything to the other. In another lifetime she could see them being friends, but not in a world where Snape existed. He was the one person that brought out the worst in both of them. And as soon as he entered the hall any kindness or indifference towards each other faded. James glowered at Snape, Lily scowled at James and Snape sneered at James. It was a vicious cycle and it was sad because if Snape didn't exist then there would be nothing holding Lily and James back. But it did and it broke her heart to see.
"What's wrong?" Remus whispered from next to her with knitted eyebrows.
Marlene shrugged, "Nothing…just thinking."
Thinking about something she didn't really want to get into with her ex boyfriend. It didn't matter that they'd broken up months ago or that she'd decided to be friends with him. It still hurt. And it would have made it worse for her to talk to him like they weren't another couple that would have worked if other things hadn't gotten in the way. Lily and James might have been able to eventually get past Snape, they wouldn't be at Hogwarts forever after all. But Remus would never get over his insecurities of being a werewolf and Marlene was learning to deal with that.
"You know Sirius is going to be livid when he finds out he wasn't involved in James's suitor choosing process." Remus said conversationally.
Marlene shrugged. "Just say it was my fault. He's usually mad at me anyway."
"Why do you think that?"
Sighing she shrugged again. "I just don't think he likes me very much. I mean I think he just likes me because he has to."
"I don't think that's true."
"Well that's because you have to see the good in everyone Remus."
He frowned and was about to put a comforting arm around her when he thought better of it. She seemed angry, but he knew better than to try and coax it out of her. Instead he shifted away and listened to Sirius giving Peter woman advise much to Lily and Dorcas's disapproval.
"Pay for everything Wormtail, open the door and all that garbage, but most of all make sure you tell her she looks good."
"Christ," Dorcas groaned eyeing him darkly. "You really know to take the romance out of it Black. Are you sure you're qualified to give advise?"
Sirius said, "Oh please Meadowes. It may have been awhile since I've been out, but I still know the way it works."
"Sure you do."
"When's the last time you've even been on a date Meadowes? Last I heard you worked the same night shifts I do." Sirius shot back.
Dorcas's lips thinned. "I'm just saying I'd rather Lupin, or someone with some manners teach Pete what to say to girls."
"You don't think I can take a girl out and show her a good time?"
"Not without sleazy intentions or rude remarks no." She countered.
Lily sat forward, with a gleam in her green eyes. "I smell a bet coming on."
"Right you are Evans." Sirius smirked, "Name your terms Meadowes."
"I pick the girl, you take her out and then we will see." Dorcas told him.
Enticed by this bet, Sirius put out his hand for her to shake. "Deal."
Dorcas didn't look too pleased about shaking his hand, but she did it.
Marlene rolled her eyes with a snort of amusement. "You two are ridiculous."
"I don't know what you're mocking, you're the one that's going on a date with him."
"Excuse me?" Marlene said, "I don't think so."
Dorcas tried to look at Marlene persuasively. "I can't do it, I'm too biased, and you're the only one I trust to tell me the truth."
"…I still don't see the part where I agreed to this."
"I'm not that bad McKinnon," Sirius smirked at her. "What's one date? I'll treat you real nice."
Shaking her head, Marlene scowled. "Fine…whatever."
Dorcas and Lily shared a look while Remus and Sirius eyed Marlene in confusion. Feeling crestfallen, Sirius's smirk faded as he saw the bitterness grow in Marlene's eyes as she starred determinedly at the head table. He had never had met a girl that was opposed to spending the evening with him. Though he knew she wasn't specifically upset with him, he was a little taken aback to have some of her anger directed at him.
Not knowing he was the root of the problem, Remus put his hand on her shoulder to comfort her. "Hey-"
Marlene flinched, shifted away, and then on a moment's impulse ran out of the great hall as the first years began to enter it. She didn't want to feel this way. She was sick of feeling this way. All she wanted was to just be friends with him and feel nothing more for him. Was that too much to ask? Why could everyone else get off scotch free from their relationships and she was forced to be the bigger person. All she needed was to get as far away from Remus Lupin as possible.
Back at the Gryffindor table Remus was left looking dejected looking. "What did I say?"
Lily shrugged helplessly. "I think she just needs time Remus."
"Should I go after her?"
"No," Sirius told him curtly getting up out of his seat. "I will."
That was the last thing any of them expected to say. Lily, Remus, Dorcas and Peter watched in wonderment as Sirius Black strutted past the much smaller crowd of first years. Professor McGonagall opened her mouth to say something to him, but he moved too fast for her to catch him.
"That was weird," Peter pipped up.
Lily nodded looking concerned. "Should we have let him go after her…?"
Dorcas didn't have an answer, she just shrugged. "I've never seen Black go after a girl…It's almost unnatural."
"They're friends." James interjected after he caught up on what was going on. "Maybe it's better he talks to her."
"I don't know about that." Dorcas scoffed staring at the Great Hall doors. "Black ruins everything he touches."
James's face set in anger. "Dorcas, watch it. You don't know what you're talking about."
"Don't I? Do you know how many hearts he's broken?"
"He wouldn't do that to Marlene." James stated firmly. "Those girls went into it with their own expectations. He never lied to them or pretended that he felt any differently about them."
Lily said, "How would you know what he said to them?"
"Because I know my best friend," He shot at her sharply. "He doesn't treat women poorly."
Lily was slightly taken aback by his intensity. She had seen him angry before, but it had never been directed at her. No matter what she had said or done to him he had never lashed out or said a single unkind word to her. Startled, she forced herself to watch the first years being sorted and ignore the feeling deep in her gut that said she should apologize to him. Lily Elizabeth Evans was far too stubborn and too proud to admit that James Potter might be right.
James for the first time in years allowed himself to be angry with Lily. She was pigheaded and full of herself. Just because she was pretty and smart, she assumed she knew everything and everyone, but she didn't. The girl didn't have the slightest clue what Sirius had gone through. All she knew where exaggerated rumors about him from whiny, bitchy girls who pegged Sirius to be their, 'one and only.' James hadn't been lying when he said Sirius never lied to any of them, Sirius didn't. The girls just assumed that if they spent enough time with him he'd change. Sirius Black wasn't going to change his behavior for a size B bra girl, with no personality or substance and in James's opinion no man ever should.
Two seats over Remus stared at his empty plate, filling with more and more guilt by the minute. How could he have been so stupid? She was just trying to be nice by forgiving him. Marlene didn't mean it. For whatever reason, she had loved him and he had done everything in his power to push her away. As the room echoed every few moments in applause and tiny eleven year old jogged over to their new houses, Remus sulked.
At first Sirius didn't know where to look for Marlene. After all, he'd only ever spent time with her when he was with James or at Quidditch. But thinking of her love of Quidditch that gave him an idea. So he headed down in his uniform without any concern to how much trouble he might be in. When he opened the door leading directly to the field he found he'd been right about her.
Her face was full of tears. The tip of her small nose was reddening as her long blonde hair rippled in the September wind. Her arms were tucked around under her legs as she cuddled into the long blades of grass.
"McKinnon?" Sirius called walking forward.
She stiffened and quickly wiped her face so he wouldn't see her tears. "What are you doing out here Black?"
"Checking on you."
"…Why?" She scoffed, looking away from him. "I was mean to you."
Sirius sunk down in the grass next to her with a laugh. "You're always mean to me."
"That's not true!"
"I'm just saying, we're mean to each other. That's the way it's always been."
Marlene let out a small laugh. "It's because you stole my man."
"James was always meant to be mine." Sirius declared, puffing out his well-built chest. "You were just holding my place until I arrived."
"Oh right," She smiled, letting go of her annoyance. "I'm sorry about before…I was just…annoyed and I hate when Dorcas just tells me I'm doing something without asking…"
Sirius nodded understandingly. "Which I'm assuming she does a lot."
"More than I would care to remember."
"Well it can't help with five older siblings always bossing you around at home." He remembered.
"You have no idea!" She let out an exhausted sigh, "But I still shouldn't have said that about you. I'm sure if you take your ego down about a foot and a half, you'd be alright."
He shook his head with a wide smile on his face as he leaned back on his arms. "It's fine. I can't have every girl in love with me, I'd never get any sleep."
Marlene shoved him. "You're such an idiot."
"An idiot that made you feel better."
"Yes I suppose so…" Her face sobered up for a second, "Can you do me a favor?"
Sirius tilted his head with a devilish smirk. "Does it involve me taking my clothes off?"
"Do most of your favors involve you taking off your clothes?" She asked wryly.
Marlene rolled her eyes, "Can you just…" Her face grew guilty. "Can you keep Remus away from me and like…not tell him?"
"McKinnon," Sirius groaned.
"No, you don't understand! He means well if he didn't mean well I would have told him to bugger off by now. I don't want to hurt his feelings, but by him sitting next to me, making small talk, breathing really, he's hurting mine."
Sirius asked, "Okay I'm going to ask this…why does he bother you so much? I get that he broke your heart and all that, but what set it off this time. You seemed fine on the train."
"It's really stupid…" She blushed embarrassedly. "Let's just say that it's completely not worth it… I really don't want to feel this way, but I don't know what to do to make it stop…"
"Why don't you just shut it off?"
"You can't shut off emotions Sirius." She scoffed dismissively.
He hugged his long legs into his chest, his gold and scarlet tie falling between his knees. "Sure you can."
"You can say that all you want, but that's not shutting off your emotions, that's repressing them. And the more and more you repress shit like that the more it will boil over until you will break." Marlene looked at him, "I know you like to think what you're parents did to you doesn't affect you, but I know that it does. I saw what it does to you."
Looking away she continued on. "And I'm not going to ever push you to deal with it or talk about it, because Merlin knows I repress things too, but I'm repressing Remus, because nothing else has worked. I will get over Remus, but you grew up with your family, they are a big part of your life. Eventually you're going to have to deal with your feelings on that."
Marlene then added, "If we could shut our feelings off we wouldn't be human. Feelings, emotions and all of that lovely stuff that makes us wish we weren't alive are also the things that make us glad we are. And considering the feelings you Sirius Orion Black have towards James Harold Potter…"
"Didn't you talk to Remus though?" Sirius wanted to know.
"I talked to him, I stayed away from him, I thought I got over it…I guess I'm not ready yet…"
Sirius hesitated and then he put his arm around Marlene. Normally this would have had to been planned moments in advance. He would have considered whether this was the right time or not and definitely would have factored in the slapping statistics. A sixteen-year-old boy of his caliber had to be prepared when dealing with so many women weekly. But for once he didn't.
At first she stiffened, as if she wasn't expecting the sentiment. Then her body began to relax and she even rested her head on the crook of his neck.
And in the quietest voice he heard her say, "Thanks Sirius…You're a really good friend."
His arm wrapped around her waist and in a gesture he'd seen but never done himself, he kissed the top of her head. "Don't mention it."
They stayed that for a while in perfect silence. Sirius's heart was beating twice as fast as it normally he did, and didn't have the faintest clue why.
Rising after the feast, Lily and Dorcas felt uneasy that Sirius nor Marlene returned. Dorcas shook it off easier as she assumed that Marlene just needed some air. Lily couldn't shake anything off. So she did something she never thought she'd do. Lily grabbed James's arm and pulled him aside.
"Do you really think she's okay with Sirius?"
He scoffed, "Yes."
"Evans, Marlene McKinnon has been my best friend since I was born." He said gently, his irritation fading as he saw the anxiety flicker in her eyes. "I would have stopped Sirius if I thought he would set her off further."
She nodded begrudgingly.
"I'm sure she is in the kitchens with Sirius right now, and they'll roll into the common room in an hour like nothing ever happened."
"How can you be so sure?"
James shrugged, "I know my friends."
As an experiment, Lily sat out on the common room couch for an hour. She would have much rather gone up to bed after the long day, but she couldn't kill the curiosity growing inside of her. Potter had been so sure. He didn't even look for Sirius or Marlene, he just knew. And considering that she always thought she had a good handle on who her arch nemesis James Potter was. But this was an uncommon denominator that she had to investigate further.
And sure enough, just as James had said, they walked in full of food, without a care in the world on their minds. Lily waved at them, and talked to them for a bit, but the whole time she couldn't help thinking she was going mad. James Potter was being honest and loyal when he defended his friend. Lily knew he loved his friends, but she never really…thought about it. As Marlene and Sirius went their separate ways and the few straggling students went to bed Lily laid back on the couch wondering if everyone was right. First Pettigrew, now Potter, she felt like she didn't know anybody anymore.
Was Potter a pompous arrogant prick….Or was she just too blind to any good in him?
The longer she laid there the more scattered her thoughts became until she couldn't make sense of any of it. She knew Potter would do something to piss her off, probably even the next day, but for now she was still in haze. For once Lily Evans didn't have all the answers.