Chapter 3 : Remus - A Game of Strategy
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I frowned as Sirius expertly ordered his queen forward, seizing my last rook. This was a game requiring pure strategic and intellectual skill, so why was Sirius beating me already? I had suspected that I would at least have a lengthier battle with him before one of our kings met their ultimate demise, but we had scarcely been playing for five minutes and half of my pieces were gone. Cautiously, I pushed my bishop forward, biting my lip in apprehension.
"Hah!" Sirius cried triumphantly, his own white bishop sailing diagonally across the board. "Checkmate," he said gleefully. My mouth dropped open as I studied the board before me - how had I not seen that? How had I not foreseen any of these spectacular moves he had performed?
I leaned back in my seat, brushing back the few strands of light-brown hair that were just in my line of vision. I really needed to give my hair a trim soon, or I'd end up looking like Sirius.
"Nice job, Padfoot," I amended, though I was still shocked at the outcome of what I thought would be a harmless game.
"Wanna play again?" he asked with a wicked grin. I glared at him, but he just smirked back.
"How… how did you do that?"
"Do what, exactly?"
"All of… that." I gestured vaguely to the chess board in front of us.
"Aw, does Moony feel inferior to old Padfoot?" Sirius asked innocently, the wicked grin not leaving his face.
"I… suppose… well, mildly… oh, forget it," I sighed, packing away the remains of the pieces. Sirius's crisp white ones seemed to be mocking me as I stored them away. He had been adamant about using the white pieces, which I surmised had something to do with his complete hatred of the majority of the Black family and wish for dissociation with them. At least neither James nor Peter had seen my rather embarrassing defeat in the chess game - the two weren't there, and I supposed they had left in the midst of the game for more work on winning the bet. I felt the train begin to slow and quickly retrieved my luggage from the shelf above my head.
"This is great, isn't it, Moony?" Sirius said contently as he, too, reached for his trunk. "Seventh year! We're on the top of the food chain now."
"Haven't we always been?" I questioned, thinking back to our last four years at Hogwarts when people of all years seemed to admire us the most.
Sirius laughed loudly. "Oh yeah, I forgot. But we're officially top of the food chain now. And after this year… that's it. No more Marauders at Hogwarts."
My head snapped up, my startled brown eyes meeting his equally surprised grey ones. The thought of a Hogwarts without the Marauders hadn't really occurred to us yet. "Then this year will be our best yet," I vowed. "We'll make sure no one forgets our time at Hogwarts."
"We'll leave with a bang!" Sirius declared, excitement dancing in his eyes.
"But first let's get there before the carriages leave," I suggested. Sirius nodded hastily, and the two of us packed our things back into our trunks and left them in the compartment, striding out the doors and bumping straight into Lily.
She turned and smiled at me. "Oh, sorry, Remus," she apologized, continuing quickly on her way.
Behind her, I heard James rather desperately crying out, "Please, Lily!" He was racing after her, as was Peter - who was struggling to keep up with James in the crowded corridor - and had a look of pure longing on his face.
She turned towards him with a much different expression than she had shown me plastered on her face. "For the last time, Potter, no! Get it through your thick head!"
Sirius, meanwhile, had brightened at the sight of James and was making his way towards him. I heard him mutter in a low voice to him, and James, shoulders sagging, sighed and nodded reluctantly. The three scurried past Lily, James's head twisting quite obviously to get another look at her. I watched in amusement as Sirius slapped him, reprimanded him, and practically pushed him out of the train.
Lily, straight ahead of me, looked utterly confused as her gaze rested on the three Marauders. I recognized an opportunity when I saw one and hastened to walk right next to her. If I could enforce the fact that we were on friendly terms with each other, perhaps someday - hopefully soon - she would confide in me why exactly she didn't like James. Maybe I could even convince her to give him a chance. I had a clear advantage over the other Marauders here, for Lily could actually stand my presence and speak in an unforced, friendly way to me. I would have to press that advantage, because it was just about the only one I had, and James and Sirius seemed to be superior in nearly everything else. I was quite pleased with the terms of the bet. If I won, I would finally show my rather stubborn friends that diplomacy was the key to solving problems, not the brute force, persistence, and magical methods that they always seemed to resort to. And if I lost… well, maybe I'd be the one learning the lesson.
"So Lily, how was your Summer?" I asked pleasantly as I caught up to her. She looked a little confused but smiled at me nonetheless.
"It was wonderful, my sister's fiancé - now her husband - invited me to their wedding in France. My sister wasn't all that thrilled about it, but she figured she had to have some family member there, so I basically got a free vacation with my sister forced to be civil to me," Lily reminisced happily.
I frowned - Lily had a sister who had disliked her? Maybe I wasn't on as friendly terms with her as I thought. That would have to change as quickly as possible.
"Oh, right, you don't know about Petunia," Lily remembered. "Well, she's basically been jealous that I'm a witch since I was eleven."
"Since you were eleven?" I repeated, surprised. "That's an awful long time."
Lily sighed. "I know. But with the vacation to France, Petunia's civility, and no Potter, my Summer was great! Speaking of Potter, why aren't you with him?"
This seemed like my chance. "Well, sometimes I can't stand those three either," I laughed. She looked both surprised and amused by this. "You and I seem to be the only ones who understand the joy of reading and the importance of studying, and have the ability to hold a peaceful conversation around here."
"That's true," Lily reflected.
"We should become better friends with each other," I suggested. "I feel like I lose a brain cell every minute with the Marauders."
"Okay," Lily agreed, looking pleased. "I've got to go catch up to Mary now, but I'll talk to you later!"
I waved good-bye to her and allowed a satisfied grin to cross my face. It appeared that Peter and I were the only ones who had made any progress in our competition, and I had definitely gotten the most achieved.
Not a bad way to end a train ride.
AN: Aah, this chapter is even shorter than the Prologue! The next one is longer though, I promise! As always, please let me know what you think in a review. ~WaterLily :)
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by Natalie Rose