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Chapter 21 : Chapter 21
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The way she placed her hand on his knee and didn’t think twice or even at all about it, the light, five fingered flutter across his arm, the way his face split into a wide, dopey grin every time she came into contact with him like he still couldn’t believe his good fortune. Watched her laugh, red strands of hair flying about as she shook her head, a guilty smile on her face as he said something unseemly or un-towards (otherwise known as a ‘joke’); she’d spent years ignoring him and lecturing him, and even now she didn’t seem entirely comfortable with what he was saying.
Well, it looked that way to Sirius anyway.
“What are you doing?”
Sirius turned around to find Remus slouching, hands shoved in his pockets, his lips twitching to suggest a smile.
Sirius disengaged from the tree he had been using as cover. “Why my dear Moony, I am observing the mating rituals of the Plucky Redhead and her eager beau: the Thick-headed Tit. See how he preens himself, tactlessly parading his less than ample physical attributes: scrawny, pasty and quite frankly: daft, but we all know she hasn’t a whit of taste and…she’s fallen for it.”
Remus shook his head slowly, “You know, Padfoot, I don’t want to suggest that you’re mad, but really, it’s the only logical conclusion.”
Sirius grinned lazily and reclined against the tree, “What are you on about?”
Remus waved a hand in the general direction of the Plucky Redhead and her Thick-headed Tit. “Do they know that you’ve taken up an interest in bird watching?”
“Moony,” he said seriously, “I’m always watching the birds.”
Remus sighed and shook his head again. Sirius was peeking around the tree trunk again, watching as James rather clumsily launched himself at Lily, try to grab something out of her hand, managing only to push her backwards onto the snow, they tussled a moment longer, but James was 90 percent limbs, so he always had the advantage of being a very tall, gangly boy. Besides, if Lily had really wanted out, they’d probably have been able to build a snowman out his gathered bits for the next week.
Remus and Sirius watched as Lily pushed James’ glasses back up his nose and Remus suddenly felt a little too like a dirty old man and he turned away, Sirius made a low sound in his throat as he backed away and a scowl crossed his face briefly.
“Where’s Wormtail?” Sirius asked, his hands fidgeted with his sleeves.
“Detention, James couldn’t sweet talk McGonagall into changing her mind.”
Remus had noticed that ever since James and Lily had been dating, Sirius had been a little on edge. It was nothing really noticeable; he just seemed distracted and a little too energetic.
He supposed that no one else had noticed it, partially because distraction and energy were two key parts of his personality, but Remus had been spending more time with him lately (he, Sirius and Peter seemed to have an excess of time together now that James was so keenly focused on his Head Boy duties), but Sirius didn’t quite know what to do with himself without James and Remus had been discovering just how dreadful a study partner Sirius really was. James had been able to curb some of that energy into their various nefarious schemes.
“Why aren’t you locked away in the dorms studying?”
“I occasionally need to remind myself what ‘outside’ looks like. The pictures don’t do it justice.”
“Hah,” Sirius replied, rolling his eyes.
“Any particular reason why you’re not locked away in the dorms studying? It’s freezing out here.”
Sirius waved a hand at him impatiently, “If you don’t know it all by now, there’s no point. And any half witted wizard knows to put a warming charm on his undershorts.”
“We can’t all have your brains.”
“Or dashing good looks.”
Remus raised an eyebrow as James came trundling up towards them, half carrying Lily up the slight embankment. She didn’t seem to mind, in fact, she was wearing a slightly glazed expression that was usually the side effects of the more potent strains of Amortentia
“And he comes up for air,” Sirius said casually.
James tried to stifle a very smug grin; all he succeeded in doing was turning his face into an Edward Munch canvas.
“’Lo Remus,” Lily said, disentangling herself from James, her were cheeks flushed with colour, her hair was sodden, pits of twig and browning grass were poking out of it.
“Hey Lily, er…how have you been?”
If she were any other girl she might have giggled and given a coy reply, fluttering her eyelashes, but Lily just smiled widely, plucked some organic material from her hair and replied, “Tired. Between NEWTS and James’ insatiable desire to picnic, I haven’t any time to sleep. Or Eat.”
“Doesn’t a picnic require some sort of food?” Sirius wondered aloud.
James smiled suggestively down at Lily. “Don’t you dare say it,” she warned fiercely and he surrendered. “Anyway, how’s the studying coming along?”
“I’ll find out soon enough,” Remus replied grimly.
“You’ll do fine, I’d have thought you’d know the entire library back to front by now.”
Remus smiled awkwardly and thrust his hands deeper into his pockets.
Sirius let out an audible groan. “Simply spiffing to see you again, James, but I reckon I’m going to find myself a nice little distraction like yours.”
James gave him a confused look, but Sirius didn’t wait for a reaction, he quickly sauntered off towards the castle, leaving a very uncomfortable Remus in his wake.
“I…er, I have to go catch up on some reading. Bye.” He gave an apologetic look over his shoulder and broke off into a jog after Sirius.
James and Lily were left standing, their mouths agape. “Do you suppose I should go after him?” James said uneasily.
“Not if you value your priorities,” Lily replied stiffly; James blanched. “I’m kidding, go catch up to him.”
He gave her a sheepish smile and a quick kiss before going after him, and now Lily was all by herself, staring up at the castle.
Things had most certainly taken a most unexpected turn this year. The world had literally gone mad outside these walls, leaking in increasingly often, but still…she felt safe here.
She and James had only been seeing each other a few weeks and for the most part Sirius and Remus had been very genial about the whole thing, but lately Sirius had grown sullen and Remus and Peter had become increasingly twitchy whenever in their presence. Lily supposed that she had offset the unspoken rules of group politics, but she doubted Remus, Peter or Sirius would appreciate her saying anything. James, sweet as he was, was really quite unobservant…though that was partially because he had been focused on other things. She guessed it would all end in some spectacular display of testosterone, all brawn and hurled insults, declaring James a traitor to their noble bachelor ranks. There might even be a death…
But in case that failed to eventuate, Lily was prepared to lock them all in a room with a large quantity of Fire Whiskey and let them have at it.
Either way, the photos were going to memorable.
James slowed down to a trot as Sirius stopped and reclined against the railing on the second floor corridor.
“Where’s Remus?” Sirius asked, working hard to keep his face as neutral as Switzerland.
“Said he had to go study,” James puffed.
“Marathon snog sessions not keeping you in shape?” Sirius drawled.
“Too long spend hunched over books and girls, lately. Or a girl, anyway, “ James grinned crookedly.
Sirius groaned. “Did you want something?”
James straightened up, his own expression souring. “Yeah, I wanted to ask what your problem was?”
“Nothing, not a care in the world, have I.” Sirius started to move away, but James grabbed his arm.
“Not this again, don’t go all moody on me just because I’m spending some time with Lily and not wasting it on hexing Slytherins,” James bit out.
“Snivellus will be glad to hear that, but I guess he doesn’t count because it certainly wasn’t me who jinxed his quill in Potions yesterday,” Sirius replied, his voice rumbled low and dangerous as he wrenched his arm free from James’ grip.
James smiled momentarily, but saw that Sirius wasn’t in the joking mood and his expression hardened again. “What would you have me do, Sirius? Stop seeing her? What is that you would like me to do with my life?”
“Absolutely nothing,” Sirius replied coolly.
James kicked the railings in frustration, “She’s my girlfriend, Sirius! It’s only been a few weeks and I…you know what this means to me! You and I have been friends since we were eleven years old, can’t I spend some time with her? I still want to hang out with you and Remus and Peter, you’re my best mates!”
“Think you could slot me in between groping Lily and brown nosing McGonagall? Gee, I’d be touched if you could,” Sirius said, his voice dripping with sarcasm and venom.
“Stop being an arse, Sirius. I’m sorry I haven’t been much a friend lately, but having a bloody tantrum is hardly going to lure me in to spending more time with you.”
“Who wants to?” Sirius spat.
“Oh come off it! You’re jealous!” James looked positively purple, and Sirius had gone a rather attractive shade of red. Both looked as though at any moment they might explode in a shower of sparks.
“Of who: You or your bit of totty? Soddit James, go deflate your head. I’m off.” James threw his hands up in angry surrender and he glared after Sirius who was muttering curses under his breath.
The next few days were wrought with tension, their falling out growing so juvenile that Peter and Remus had almost taken to being messengers between the two. Peter had remarked that it felt a lot like being at home.
Remus and Peter were both growing tired of having to listen to the continual whining on both parties’ sides. They mostly kept their mouths shut and tried not to agree or disagree with anything that was said. Remus, who was well practiced in the art of keeping his mouth shut, had even coached Peter on the finer points. As if they didn’t have enough to worry about.
Sirius had been growing increasingly reckless in his endeavours, James’ lips were in a continual thinly pressed line and the very mention of Sirius’ name and various stunts was enough to send him in to a torrent of vitriol, but they still refused to talk to one another, despite Lily’s gentle nudging for James to make the first move and be the bigger man. This was apparently too difficult.
It all came to head one evening as the students turned in for the night. James and Lily were making final rounds, making sure there were no stragglers about. They heard a cacophony of piercing screams issuing from their floor followed by whoops and cheering.
They both bolted in the direction of all the commotion and arrived to find several very embarrassed girls trying desperately to hide behind the bathroom fixtures, because the walls and all the showering stalls had inexplicably disappeared.
Lily conjured some shower curtains and the girls quickly ducked behind them, James was testing out the magic to see what sort of a spell it was and how (and if) he could reverse it.
Lily ushered the crowd back to their dorms, threatening fire and brimstone if they didn’t do it quick smart.
It had been a pretty complicated bit of magic and James could recognise the handiwork. He clenched his fists and set about reversing it. Just as he was adding his finishing touches to the nearly opaque wall he heard a stifled chuckle from somewhere in the apparently empty corridor.
James went very still for a moment, listening for any further giveaways and when he caught onto the sound of a breath hitching, he whipped around, blasting his invisibility cloak off the hunched figure of Sirius Black.
Sirius rose to his full height, a satisfied smirk on his face, James didn’t even waste time with accusations, he simply pushed Sirius back against the wall, not really caring that about Sirius’ strangled protest.
He took a slip of parchment from his pocket, managing to hold Sirius back with one arm and sheer force of will, he touched his wand to it and it disappeared.
Lily returned to the scene just as James released him, still visibly seething he spat: “Detention.”
A/N: Wow, that was a really long hiatus, I am so sorry for anyone who has been waiting, I hope this is okay. Timeturner always deserves a massive thanks for her continued support and ideas.
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