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Winter Brothers by JamesandLily4ever
Chapter 1: Winter Brothers
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Winter. Snowflakes. Snow.
He waded from sleep to wakefulness with those three thoughts in mind. Evans. Her name intruded just as his sigh became a small and misty cloud. What a chill. His gaze lingered on the Gryffindor red sashes above his canopy, and it followed the pale sunlight that streamed from between his curtains into the darkness of his rooms.
He stretched and got up, still in yesterday’s robes, and decided, “To hell with it.”
He rummaged through his trunk and took out a knit jumper, a scarf, his cloak, and a pair of gloves. Then he slipped on his trainers and quietly made his way out into the corridor. The other door—her door, he noticed—was wide open, and the longer he looked, the more he knew he had to drag his eyes away. The few similarities he saw were in the placement of the bed, the rug, the wardrobe, and the trunk. Everything else was dissimilar. Posters were on the walls of drawn characters that didn’t move and large letters that didn’t glitter or speak like most posters he knew about.
Classic Evans. He thought, amused and slightly amazed. He’d never had been this close to see how she decorated anything besides herself. He was also never aware of how close he was to standing within her hidden sanctum. Suddenly, he wondered if she would have left the door open regardless of his being across the alcove.
No. There was a catch here; it was a boundary that he should respect. He stepped back and went down the spiral staircase of the tower to the second landing. The portraits let out the occasional snore on his way down the stairs and out the large double doors that went out into the antechamber. He stepped out from behind the large tapestry that served as the cover of their Head Girl and Head Boy dormitories… and decidedly went out, not realizing that a shadow followed him from the darkness behind the tapestry.
Sirius waited for him at the doors of the entrance hall along with Remus and Peter, both of whom waved (one excitedly and the other quite sleepily).
“James, at long last, you’ve left your chambers!” Sirius exclaimed, ending his pacing circuit by the doors. “I was beginning to wonder if that woman had kidnapped you and tied you down somewhere.”
“You and I both know that she’d never do that, and if she did… well, the tower would’ve never survived us,” James replied, thinking of how Lily would have dueled him to the death (or something an inch close to that).
He would’ve loved to see her emotions flitting across her face, but he really couldn’t imagine a better way to go (not in death, but in life, tied up and with her frustration incarnate). He grinned at the thought suddenly and his friends went on, already knowing what made him smile so randomly at times.
“We’ve got to get going, though. I already skirted around the help earlier,” Sirius ushered. “He’s not going to be kept away for much longer.”
So, they all went together, two by two into the windy and snow-white wonderland, away from the warmth of the candlelit hall.
Snow had fallen continuously during the week, and it had decked the land in cream and sugar to the point of desperation. James and Sirius agreed that they could hear the castle moaning with the wails of complaining students… who would rather be outside than be stuck inside listening to lectures. James also knew that he could grant them access to the great outdoors with the authority of his badge and also his wand-waving ability to hide them (well, they also had his invisibility cloak for added protection).
“Er… I wonder if this was a good idea, after all,” Peter squeaked.
He was the more vertically challenged of the four, and he was knee deep in snow.
Remus, wrapped up in his cloak and wearing his largest knit hat, mumbled, “I would have rather stayed by the fire with a good book, but I was dragged into this for the sake of adventure. Adventure.”
“And I brought you along for your optimism, Moony,” Sirius replied. “In honor of tradition, anyway, I did in fact call you all here because… I feel like we have all parted ways, what with the studying, the Head Girl, and also … well, whatever it is that you’re always up to, Peter.”
James smiled and blushed, and automatically ran his fingers through his hair. “Well, we already know that Lily has warmed up to me…”
“And that it’s the best time of your life thus far, I know,” Sirius sighed. “I talk to her too, every once in a while. She still hasn’t won me over, I’ll have you know. However… we are here right now because we have not honored our sacred rites.”
“Oh, you mean the snowball fights of yore,” Remus laughed, “I can’t believe you talked me into this. You could’ve just said so! I would’ve just put my textbooks aside, regardless of how worried I am of all of you possibly getting hypothermia out here.”
“Well, I thought you had all known, alright?” Sirius took offense.
Sirius went on about how they depended on him to actively participate in their other sacred rites, and James reached into the small but dense hill of snow beside him and walked away. James smiled as he shaped it in his gloved hands.
“Alright,” he called from a distance. “When do we start? Now?”
Sirius stopped midsentence and shouted, “Don’t you dare throw that snowba—Goddammit!”
James laughed and the others joined in.
Sirius rubbed his arm across his face to get the snow off. “PRONGS, THIS MEANS WAR!”
“BUILD THE FORTS AND THE RAMPARTS!” James called back. “BECAUSE I AM GOING TO WIN AGAIN!”
“I’LL BE WITH JAMES,” Remus decided and ran over.
They both bumped shoulders in the midst of Sirius’ wail, “NOOOOO!!! WHY, YOU TURN CLOAK, WHY???”
Everyone built their fort and then they blasted their snow back and forth. Some snowballs shot across the field, and others arched and fell apart like bombs. They either added onto James’ fort or broke apart the top of the foundation. Remus grabbed more snow and added onto the artifice.
Whenever the walls were almost to the point of being blown apart, Remus would shout, “NO WANDS, NO MAGIC! KEEP TO YOUR OATHS; BE MEN OF YOUR WORD!”
In the midst of war, a figure appeared not far from no-man’s land and built a trench and her own fort. Two other figures joined her and began shooting snowballs from a third position.
“What the…” James glanced to his left over the falling slope of his fort. He’d have to add more to protect their left flank. “Remus, it looks like we have company.”
“Another enemy… perhaps, we can make allies?” Remus asked. “I could go and see who they are and see if they can be the enemy of our enemy.”
“Oh, yes,” James answered. “I’ll keep at this, and I’ll build up the stronghold. Just bring back as much information as you can.”
Remus shielded himself with a wave of his wand and trudged onwards to their new compatriots. Giggles erupted from behind the interlopers’ fort when the first pitch of snowballs crumbled off him.
“Hello, who goes there?” Remus asked. “I could recognize that laugh anywhere, and I bet I know who it is.”
“Definitely not me,” the giggler answered. “Definitely not Marlene.”
“Mary, you do know not to give other people’s names when strangers ask, right?” a second voice groaned. “I really wanted to be anonymous in this.”
By then, Remus had already stepped by their threshold. “Ladies, I would’ve never known you would all be here this morning. Considering your study session.”
“Well, Remus, we tried and just decided to do it later,” Lily answered, lunging down for another couple of snowballs. “And I noticed that it was that time of the year when you all disappear during the day.”
“Hey, I wanted to come out for the snow and a breath of fresh air. You four had nothing to do with my decision,” Marlene motioned to herself and everyone else’s forts. “Much less Lily and Mary.”
“Er… good for you, Marlene,” Remus replied, noticing her crossed arms… but also noticing how much she peeked above their fort. “It’s also quite fun to participate in these sorts of activities. I do come with a proposal of sorts… in honor of today’s rites.”
“What would this proposal be?” Lily asked him and then turned to her darker-haired companion, “Marlene, get back to hitting Sirius’ fort. You looked happier then.”
Mary continued making balls of snow to add to the batch they had and Marlene went back to lunging, getting snowballs, and throwing them at Sirius and Peters’ fort.
At this point, Lily had stepped to the right of them and faced Remus with an expectant smile. “So, what’s your proposal?”
“Could you be the enemy of our enemy in this war?” he suggested as he gave a nod of his head towards Sirius’ fort.
“What would we get in exchange for this… affiliation?” she asked in return.
Remus marked each pro down on his fingers as he said, “Let’s see… winning against Sirius, standing ovation, and boasting rights. I don’t know if James will offer anything else besides.”
“Hold on,” Lily turned around and walked to Marlene’s side.
The girls whispered back and forth and Marlene even exclaimed, “YES! Yes! We can do that! We can totally do that.”
Lily grinned when she came back and told Remus, “Proposal considered, but even though I will be your ally, you must remember that there are three parties here. We will be against each other after Sirius raises his white flag.”
“Well…” Remus thought about it and replied, “We shall see how it goes. We have never failed to win, but if anything goes awry, know that we can break truce at any time.”
“At any time.” Lily repeated and pondered over it before saying, “Well, alright. Proposal accepted.”
Everyone returned their respective forts, and snowballs flew back and forth, more towards Sirius than James and Remus. Yet, no matter how much snow fell onto Sirius’ fort, Sirius never surrendered. It seemed that there would be no sock tied to anyone’s wand this year.
“YOU HAVEN’T WON THE WAR!” he called across no-man’s land. “NOT YET. NOT WITH YOUR LADY LOVE FIGHTING ON YOUR SIDE!”
“NO, SIRIUS!” Lily shouted over. “SIRIUS, NO.”
“YES, EVANS, YES,” Sirius shouted back.
“NO, SIRIUS, NO.”
“YES, SIRIUS, YES.”
James paused mid-throw and asked, “WAIT, WHAT ARE YOU TWO EVEN DOING?”
Remus stood silently by his side and stopped gathering snow. He also looked from one side to the other.
“I WILL FIGHT FOR OUR SACRED RITE IF IT’S THE LAST THING I DO,” Sirius shouted. “GIRL FRIENDS OR NO GIRL FRIENDS.”
That was definitely confusing. James, Remus, Peter, Mary, Marlene, and Lily watched from their forts as Sirius kicked into his fort and then climbed up and over it.
“SIRIUS, WHAT ARE YOU EVEN DOING?” Marlene shouted over the fort. “DIDN’T YOU WANT TO SNOWBALL FIGHT?”
He stood in the middle of the three forts and raised his hands. Then he turned around.
“YOU SEE ME HERE, AMONGST YOU ALL. I AM THE SACRIFICIAL LAMB.”
“Alright, he’s definitely taking this a bit far…” Remus folded his arms and rubbed his very red nose. “We’re not even throwing snowballs anymore.”
As soon as he’d said that, a couple of snowballs fell to either side of him.
“MARLENE, WE ALL KNOW THAT YOU USED TO WEAR SPECTACLES, BUT IF YOU’RE GOING TO DO SOMETHING, PLEASE DO IT RIGHT,” Sirius yelled back. “NOW, DO IT BETTER.”
One by one, the snowballs fell at his feet, but they were gradually getting up onto his trousers.
“THAT’S IT. KEEP GOING, BUT HIGHER THIS TIME. FACE LEVEL!”
After the fourth one, she shouted, “ALRIGHT, I TRIED.”
James sighed, “I’m going over to talk to him.”
Remus grunted and James walked over to him. “Sirius—”
“YOUNG MAN, DON’T YOU DARE; DON’T YOU DARE,” Sirius shouted.
James reached out and held fast to his shoulders. “Sirius.”
“JAMES, STOP. STOPPP.”
“No, my friend. Let me talk,” James shook him in one jolt. Not in the way that people would shake someone they’re mad at, but in a small way to justify the movement, to show and evoke presence. “You, sir, are my friend, and I am sorry that we haven’t been spending as much time as we used to be before. I know that we’ve grown far apart this term because we have different places to be.”
“You have so much more to live for, and I know that a lot has been going on with you. We just haven’t gotten to speak to each other to discuss it. Now, what is it? What happened this time?” James asked.
Sirius’ gray eyes wandered to one side and the next, not really seeing the girls who stood behind their fort or Remus who stood several yards behind James. He was looking away from James, too, and up into the equally gray and white sky. His lower lashes were somehow damp and holding flakes of ice, but even then, he didn’t bother looking down and establishing contact.
“Feelings,” Sirius whispered. “It’s just feelings. I’m a woman, James. A woman.”
“You are human through and through, and we’ve talked about this before. Accepting your feelings doesn’t make you worth anything less. Besides that, you should already know that you can always come back to mine,” James replied. “You will always be a Potter regardless of your own surname. Bloody hell, we’ve been brothers since we met. You can talk to me if anything is troubling you.”
This was when Sirius looked James in the eye and told him, “Thanks.”
“We’ll talk about it later. And well, this has gone far enough anyway. Everyone’s going to get ill if we don’t get…” James stopped when a cold and icy snowball hit him on the side of his head, “back inside.”
One snowball led to an armament of them. They both fell down in the midst of snowballs that fell from the two other sides, and then they both crawled and ducked for cover behind Sirius’ fort with Peter, who stopped patching up the fort and went back to throwing snowballs.
Sirius punched James on the arm and James hugged him.
“You fainted…straight into my arms. You know, if you wanted my attention you didn’t have to go to such extremes,” James smiled into his words, and he laughed because, in a way, Sirius had fallen down into his arms from the girls’ surprise attack.
“Fainted? Is that what you call fainting? Prongs, I didn’t even lose consciousness,” Sirius replied in disbelief and shook the snow out of his hair. “And leave the amorous words to Evans. She fancies you tons. Just don’t tell her that I told you that. Marlene would kill me.”
This information James kept to himself in his sudden blush and fuzzy insides. She fancies me. I knew it.
“You and Marlene?” James snorted. “Are you both an item?”
“No, of course not!” Sirius reared backward and gathered snow into his hands before apprehending James softly, “Again, just don’t say anything. She’d kill me.”
“Fine, but… next time… just know that I’m open for anything, and I mean anything,” James said, creating a hazy blue shield around himself with his wand.
Sirius looked him up and down. “What, are you leaving already?”
“Yes. I have my own fort, and the truce was broken. Yet… if you’re my friend – my brother – then, you are…” James began, and Sirius said with a salute, “The enemy of your enemy. Let’s get those bragging rights!”