We extended our hands toward each other at the same time, clamping them together and shaking them firmly up and down once. Then we pulled them back, and silence fell upon our compartment. I realized we were all racking our brains for clever ways to achieve the impossible - getting Lily to fall in love with James. But of course, I wasn't really considered a competitor in this challenge. It would be between Remus, Sirius, and James, as usual.
A thought suddenly occurred to me. If I were to somehow be the one to get Lily and James together, it would shock everyone. They'd be forced to respect me more and realize that I'm more clever than they give me credit for! Of course, I don't really think I'm all that clever myself, but this would still prove my worth to them.
Sirius clapped his hands with the air of someone who has just closed a deal. "Well, then it's settled," he said cheerily. "The competition begins… now!"
"Good luck to you all," Remus said politely to each of us in turn.
"Keep your luck to yourself, Moony. You need it more than we do," Sirius smirked.
I rose to my feet. "Well, I'll be back later," I told them all as nonchalantly as I could. "Bathroom."
I escaped the compartment and slid the door shut, then stood in the hallway for several moments. I needed to think. This was possibly the most important competition I'd ever been in - just imagining the looks of shock and respect directed towards me on my friend's faces would be worth any amount of effort I put forth. I thought harder than I'd ever thought before, trying to ease my feelings of anxiety. The first thing to do, I decided, was to spy on her. After all, the more information I got, the better. Then I would drill the idea into her day and night until she would be forced to consent just to get rid of me. That made sense to me, and I was rather pleased with myself as I crossed the hall to the bathroom.
Once safely concealed from the eyes of any students wandering through the train, I closed my eyes and concentrated on the image of my rat form - small as a potato, with smooth grey fur and a long pink tail that my friends comically referred to as a pesky worm following me around in a very undesirable place. I opened my eyes, and suddenly the dark room I had been in before was flooded with light - I was staring straight through the crack at the bottom of the door. Swiftly and silently, I slipped through the small opening and scurried down the corridor. But which compartment was Lily in?
I sighed sadly. If I were someone smart, like James or Sirius or Remus, I'd have solved this problem while I could still see above the windows. As it was, there weren't even small cracks under the doors for me to look through - the doors slid smoothly shut and blocked out any easy entrance to the compartments. Not knowing what to do, I returned dejectedly toward the bathroom to change into human form once more. Hopefully when I became a rat again no one would find my frequent bathroom trips suspicious. But as I passed a compartment not too far from the bathroom, I heard familiar bark-like laughter and stopped short. This was where my friends were, and their usual loud, boastful tones made them quite easy to hear with my ear pressed against the thin door.
"… Seriously, Prongs?" I heard Sirius manage to get out through his laughter.
"You really are a stalker," Remus said with a smile in his voice.
"No I'm not!" James protested indignantly. "I'm just saying the truth! Her compartment number is the sum of the digits of her address minus the product of the first two digits of her birthday." Yes! Now I could go to her compartment and-- wait. How was I supposed to know her address and birthday? I barely knew that about my friends, let alone Lily!
"Do you calculate everything in terms of Lily-related units, Prongs?" Sirius smirked, I was sure of it from his tone. "Because I'm happier than ever that I made this challenge now. You're so obsessed that it's almost sad!"
"It is sad, actually," Remus put in.
"Oh, thanks, Moony," James muttered. There was a pause briefly before James asked, "What are you doing, Padfoot?"
"Writing down some useful spells for my Lily-trapping, of course!" Sirius said proudly. "There's no way I'm losing thirty galleons to any of you." We'll see, Padfoot, we'll see.
"Sure, mate," James replied. "But you forget that I've had six years of practice wooing Lily. It'll take you more than a day!"
"But you forget that I seem to succeed in all my endeavors, whereas you, my good fellow, have been failing miserably at your only one."
"It's not as easy as it looks to charm Lily, and I don't imagine it looks all that easy!" James retorted. "Now you can see for yourself how difficult it is!"
"Well, dear Prongsie, I have a plan. I'll go to" -- dramatic pause -- "the Library." I gasped, as did the others. "I'll research every spell I can and look for something useful."
"Wow," Remus finally said sarcastically. "Very well thought out, Padfoot. I've actually made a useful plan. I'm going to find out exactly why she seems to so strongly dislike Prongs and talk her out of her dislike from there."
"Like that's going to work," Sirius chuckled. "Though that's an interesting point… surely she doesn't just hate Prongs's guts so much because he's a wee bit conceited."
"'A wee bit'? She says my head is so big that she's surprised my broomstick can carry me," James moaned. "That's making fun of my arrogance, weight, and flying ability!" The other two laughed heartily at this.
"Well, I think I'll pay Lily a visit," James said after a while. "Her rounds ended not long ago, she'll love to have some company."
"Yeah, good luck with that, Prongs," Sirius snickered. The door slid open in front of me, and there stood James Potter, messy-haired, bespectacled, and adopting a rather goofy grin at the thought of his destination. He turned and marched purposefully to his right, and I followed excitedly. Now that I knew everyone's plans and the compartment Lily was staying in, I was certain I was off to a great start. I allowed myself a small smile as I continued on - moments like these didn't come very often.
"My dear Lily!" James cried as he opened the door. "How fabulous it is to see you!"
Lily's laughing face turned our way, and in that instant I could see why James liked her so much. She was so naturally pretty, with her vibrant, wavy red hair and sparkling green eyes full of life, that it was hard to not first gaze at her when faced with a compartment full of people. Soon, though, her eyes became full of a passionate anger, and she grimaced deeply.
"You know what would have been a fabulous time to see you?" Lily said in a falsely sweet voice. "During our rounds! You're Head Boy, and you're supposed to be helping me out with our duties!"
He held up his hands apologetically. "Sorry, sorry, but I'm new to this whole 'responsibility' thing," he said casually, throwing her a wink that I've seen work wonders on many other girls. I had never gotten the hang of it - everyone just laughed at me when I tried to imitate my friends' flirting techniques. I may have been in the exclusive group known as the Marauders, but I didn't seem to really be treated as one - just as the odd kid tagging along. But I'd show them - one day I'd be known as a person of worth, and I really hoped this contest would be the thing to do it.
Lily scowled at him. "Just leave me alone, Potter."
"Actually," he smiled charmingly, "I think I'll stay right here. You ladies don't mind, do you?" he asked the other girls in the compartment.
The one closest to Lily smirked at her friend as she said, "Of course not, James. You can sit right here next to Lily." The girl, who had short black hair and dark brown eyes, scooted over in her seat.
"Oh, thanks Alice," Lily said sarcastically, shooting her friend a glare as a blonde-haired girl giggled. "It's not funny, Mary!" Lily protested. James, meanwhile, swept over to Lily and plopped down in the seat next to her. I followed in his shadow, hiding under the seat.
"Don't call me that," Lily snapped. James raised his hands defensively.
"Okay, okay, Lilyflower--"
"No, Potter! It's Lily, and that's all! L-i-l-y. Got it?"
"Got it, Lilypad."
"UGH!" Lily cried out, clearly frustrated. She crossed her arms and looked defiantly away from James, her chin up and her mouth in a set line. I squirmed uncomfortably. I didn't like my spot under the seat - it was so dark and sticky, and I felt like I couldn't really get a good view of the scene, so I crawled up the seat on Lily's other side. She seemed to notice my head poking up, because her eyes drifted downward - uh oh. I tried to hide in time, but her gaze rested on mine, and she let out a small shriek.
"What? What's wrong?" Alice exclaimed, startled.
"It's a huge rat!" Lily screamed. I watched as the other girls caught sight of me and shrieked loudly, recognition dawned on James's eyes, and Lily jumped away from me - right into James's lap. She immediately realized her mistake and tried to escape, but James wrapped his arms around her and smiled.
"Relax, Lilypad, it's harmless," he said, giving me a significant look. "It'll leave right now and never bother Lily again." It was clear now that he was talking to me, and I sadly crawled to the door and waited beside it.
Lily squirmed against James's hold on her. "Er, Potter, will you let me go now?" she asked resignedly.
"But Lilypad, I thought you were quite comfortable with our seating arrangement!"
"Now," she repeated icily. James didn't seem to get the hint.
"I don't see a problem with it myse--"
"Relashio!" Lily cried, wand retrieved from her pocket and aimed towards James's interlocked hands. Sparks flew, relinquishing James's hold of her, and she leaped away from him with a repulsed look on her face. "Leave. Now," she hissed in a dangerous voice, wand pointed straight at his face. Everyone, even James, looked rather terrified at the pure rage in her face.
He got up from the seat and slowly made his way towards the door, Lily directing her wand on him the whole way. He opened the door and sent his foot flying towards me so that I squeaked in fear and scurried out of the compartment. James turned, gazing right at Lily, and asked her with a cheeky smile, "Go out with me?" He quickly slid the door shut so that it took the spell instead of him, and I watched in horror as the door shattered right before our eyes. Lily muttered under her breath as she waved her wand in frustration, and the pieces of the door reassembled as James and I made a hasty exit.
James picked me up by the tail and took a few long strides to our compartment, entering and finding Remus and Sirius in a very intense chess match. I felt highly uncomfortable, dangling uselessly by my tail, but if I changed back now I would crash to the floor.
"Hey Prongs," Remus greeted without looking up from the board. "Hey, where's Wormtail? He's been in the bathroom for quite a while."
James held out his hand, and I followed. Sirius took one look at me and laughed. "So what was Wormy up to, then?" he asked with a wide grin.
James tossed me onto the bench, and I took the opportunity to morph back into myself. "Spying on Lily, from what I saw," he grinned.
Sirius's mouth fell open. "What? He's started on this thing before we did?" He shook his head in disbelief. "We've got to step up our game, Moony."
I felt rather pleased with myself for the remainder of the train ride. Sure, I hadn't come close to winning yet, but I had definitely proven myself to be one step ahead of my friends, and that had definitely shocked them.
AN: And the story begins! I know Peter isn't one of the favorite characters of the Marauders, but throughout the story I will be changing the Point of View to each of them in turn, so he will be narrating a couple more chapters. I hope you're enjoying the story so far, please leave any comments in a review! ~WaterLily :)
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