"Come on, Hat," I muttered, gripping a fork in each hand and staring at my empty golden plate in dismay. "Just put them in a house and be done with it!"
"This is an important moment for the First Years," Remus hissed from my left. "The food'll be here soon enough."
I frowned as I surveyed the long line of tiny children visibly shaking as they stood at the front of the Great Hall. "Honestly, the Sorting Hat doesn't need to consider these people for so long. Just one look at them can place them."
"You sure?" Remus asked skeptically. "People's minds and personalities are immensely complex, and you can't see through to their inner selves and match them with the House they belong in with a simple glan--"
"Ravenclaw," I interrupted.
A moment later, the Hat yelled out to the Hall, "Ravenclaw!" A great applause started up two tables away, and Remus's mouth dropped open as the nervous little girl hastened to her new table.
"How did y--" Remus began, but I cut him off as a young boy sat on the stool.
"Definitely a Slytherin, just look at that scowl. Oh well, there's some bad apples in every bunch," I sighed, quickly turning my attention to the next kids in line. Seeing the determined look in one of their faces and the way the other held himself up, I muttered under my breath, "Those two beside him will both be joining us soon."
By the time the Hat finished, Remus was staring at me in wonder. Every single one of my predictions had come true - not that I was surprised. The food finally appeared on our plates, and I felt relieved - I had only eaten fifteen Pumpkin Pasties and seven Chocolate Frogs on the train ride, so I was starving. I grabbed a bowl of chicken right by my elbow and set it on my plate, sticking both forks into different chicken wings and wolfing them down.
"Finally," I sighed happily, grabbing a few more bowls nearby. A couple new First Years nearby looked at me fearfully and a bit disgustedly, but I didn't mind - they'd be used to my eating habits soon enough.
My mouth completely stuffed with the rich Hogwarts' food, I turned to grin at James but ended up groaning instead - he was staring dreamily at the other end of the table, and I had witnessed this enough times to know exactly what - or in this case, who - held him so captivated. I nudged him sharply with my elbow and grabbed another forkful of mashed potatoes.
"Quit staring at Evans, Prongs," I ordered. He turned to me rather sheepishly, his eyes slowly coming back into focus.
"But I can't help it. She's becoming more beautiful each day, I swear," he sighed.
I shook my head at him in dismay. "Look, you know I'll be getting you and her together any day now--"
"Really?!" he exclaimed, his eyes lighting up in happiness.
"Really," I assured him. "I bet I can do it before the day's over."
James grinned from ear to ear and dug into his food, the excited look never leaving his face. I couldn't help smiling to myself as I kept eating - my best friend really was an idiot.
An assortment of creamy desserts appeared on the table in front of me, and my mouth didn't even get a chance to begin to water before I had grabbed a bowl and practically thrown its contents in my mouth. Chocolate pudding. Well done, House Elves, well done.
After about ten minutes passed by, all the decadent dishes disappeared without a trace. Even our plates and utensils vanished, along with all the food they carried. I cried out in dismay, earning a few appreciative laughs from three tables. Maybe I was a bit too loud. Whatever - I laughed along with them, quite used to playing off these things. I've had six years of practice, after all.
Dumbledore rose from his tall, elegant seat at the Staff Table and smiled down at us all, beginning the Start of Term speech that was oddly unchanging throughout the years. I found myself tuning him out as my mind drifted to more pressing problems than warnings about new rules - I was going to break them anyway, might as well be ignorant of them. My gaze rested on the subject of my current problems, who was eying Dumbledore with rapt attention in her big green eyes. Evans.
I frowned slightly as I pondered various spells I'd learned throughout the years. Surely magic was the only way to make her fall for James - only a miracle could cause her to even be able to stand him, let alone love him. As James's best mate, it was really my duty to be the one to get Lily and him together. After all, I was even more indebted to him since last year, when he offered his home as a permanent refuge for me.
I was expected to achieve this unthinkable marvel by the end of the night. I felt my confidence rising, as it always did when I was faced with a challenge, and I smiled knowingly. That always helped my brain speed up and find a solution.
The students all around me rose from their seats as one, and it was obvious that Dumbledore had just dismissed us. I hastily stood from my seat and strode as coolly as I could to the Gryffindor Common Room, nodding casually at various people I passed. Suddenly I stopped in my tracks, my head darting from side to side. Where'd the other Marauders go?
I whirled around and saw a distinctive red not far behind me, and surrounding her on three sides were none other than the three people I was searching for. On her right, Peter kept throwing looks at her, as though afraid to step forward and speak to her. Behind her, James's eyes were glued to the back of her head, a desperate longing evident in them. And on her left… was Remus talking to her?
The two were chatting as though they had been good friends for years, laughing and smiling with no sign of it being forced. At this rate, who knew when he'd be able to use his - what'd he call it? - diplomacy to encourage her to give James a chance? I gritted my teeth - I was supposed to be the miracle-worker here. That was it - drastic action had to be taken.
I turned back around and practically sprinted the rest of the way, climbing through the Portrait Hole as the person ahead of me entered - I'd find out the password later.
Once I arrived, I collapsed into an armchair by the fire, listening to the many Gryffindor students padding sleepily to their dormitories. Now what?
"Oh, that must have been hilarious, Remus!" I heard a chipper voice sound from near the entryway. My head whipped around and I peered, unnoticed by the tired Gryffindors, at the newest arrivals to the room.
"Well, I can assure you that at the time I was too frightened to think anything humorous about it, but looking back on the whole experience, it was definitely quite amusing," Remus smiled. That guy was good at talking, I'll give him that. He spoke so naturally, yet sophisticatedly, and had a touch of humor and wit with a tendency to avoid boasting. It was no surprise that Lily was getting along with him so well, however much I hated to admit it.
"I can certainly see why," Lily replied. "I'd be frightened out of my wits! Well, I have to wait for Alice - she's off with Frank and made me promise to wait here for her. Good night, Remus."
"Night, Lily," he returned pleasantly, starting towards the Gryffindor Boys' staircase and stopping when he caught sight of a small boy almost completely immersed in shadows. "Oh, hey Peter. You heading up?"
Peter shook his head. "Nah, I'm not tired at all."
"Funny, I'm not either. Want to play some Wizard's Chess?" Ah, seemed like Remus harbored a little grudge after the train ride. A natural smirk spread across my face at the thought of it, but it was too dark for anyone to see it.
"Sure, there's a board over there…"
As my friends left, an idea suddenly came to me. I crossed the room, pointed my wand at Lily, and whispered, "Expelliarmus." I watched in satisfaction as her wand came sailing straight into my hand and a priceless look of confusion appeared on her face. Her gaze followed her wand to me and the confused expression was replaced with an ugly scowl.
"BLACK! GIVE ME BACK MY--"
"Silencio!" I muttered quickly. Her mouth moved furiously, and I was relieved I didn't have to hear a legendary Lily lecture. I didn't know how James was still alive after being the target of so many.
Acting quickly, I picked up Lily, who was kicking wildly, threw her over my shoulder, and darted up the carpeted stairs to my Dormitory. I couldn't help smiling as I entered the familiar room - home at last. The maroon red carpet had various stains and scorch marks that we had inflicted upon it over six years, and looking at each one brought back a flood of memories. Our trunks were pressed up against the oak headboard at the foot of each bed - huh, I still didn't know how that happened. The five four-poster beds were empty, as Peter, James, Remus, and Frank were all elsewhere at the moment. I knew immediately from the first glance that this was the cleanest I would see our room this year. I set Lily down right in front of James's bedpost and said firmly, "Incarcerous."
Thick ropes swirled around Lily, binding her to the wooden post, and I couldn't help but grin as I noticed that her mouth hadn't stopped moving since I had grabbed her. "Save your breath, Evans," I smirked. "No one can hear you."
The door creaked open, and a messy-haired head emerged from the other side. Good, just the guy I was looking for.
"Hey Prongs!" I called cheerfully. "Look who's paying you a visit!"
His gaze fell on Lily and his mouth dropped open. Lily glared at him with such intensity that even I felt a bit uncomfortable. Then James slowly turned towards me, a questioning look in his eyes.
"Er… Padfoot, why'd you bring Lily here?" he asked confusedly.
"Well, I said I'd bring you two together by tonight," I reminded him proudly, "And I did! See, there she is, not yelling at you and not going anywhere. Isn't that enough?"
He frowned, then muttered to me so that Lily couldn't hear, "No, the goal was to make her fall in love with me, remember?"
"I thought it was to get her to go out with y--"
"This is not 'going out', Padfoot!"
"Fine," I sighed. "Well, magic can do that, too… after I think about it for a bit longer. Don't doubt me for a second, Prongs."
"Wouldn't dream of it," James grinned. He turned towards his bed again and noticed that Lily's mouth was still moving furiously as she struggled in vain against her bonds. Taking out his wand, he waved it once lightly and the ropes retracted from around her body. Immediately, the rather small girl raced straight up to me and delivered a sharp punch to my chest. It hurt far more than it should have, coming from her tiny fists, and she continued jabbing me repeatedly.
"Blimey, Evans!" I exclaimed, shocked. "Do I have to Stun you to make you stop?" Then realization came to me. "Oh, right. You want your wand back." She nodded fiercely, tapping her foot impatiently. I slowly reached into my back pocket and withdrew her wand, dangling it just out of reach as a thought occurred to me. "Now, Evans, don't start screaming like a Banshee like you always do after these sorts of situations happen. You'll wake up the whole castle! So just… stay quiet, all right?"
Instead of answering, she jumped into the air and snatched her wand right out of my grasp. I cringed, ready for her infamous screaming, as she waved her wand beside her head. But to my relief, she simply hissed, "I'll talk to you later, Black," and stalked out of the room, making sure to slam the door behind her.
I heard a small chuckle from beside me and frowned at James. "Why didn't you help me when she started beating me up?" I demanded.
"You deserved it."
I scowled at him and leapt onto my bed, finding it suddenly difficult to stay motivated to brainstorm ways to win over Lily for him.
AN: I've finished writing this story on my computer, so it's only waiting for each chapter to be validated that's going to affect how long it takes for the story to be completely up. :) Hope you enjoyed this chapter, and let me know what you think!
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