Site hosted by Angelfire.com: Build your free website today!
The Flower and the Stag, Part 6

An old man was walking down a small street, not paying attention to his surroundings. Cars weren’t common in this part of town, so he was left alone with his thoughts, listening to the birds.

He was just passing a rather large house, when he heard some shrieks coming from around the back. He figured it was just some children playing under the hose, but all the same, he looked over from where he stood, not meaning to be nosy or anything.

Two boys and girl were playing what looked like chasey, but it was in the air. He stared harder, but all of a sudden, they were gone.

The man shook his head and continued walking slowly down the footpath. He eventually decided that his head must have been playing tricks on him.

James peered into the bushes, talking crossly to a girl with dark brown hair. Sirius was tying his shoelaces, occasionally looking up to agree with James, or to stick up for Adrienne.

‘It isn’t my fault.’ She said grumpily, and bent down to help James look for the ball they had lost.

‘Okay, it isn’t your fault. But you- there it is!’

He crawled out from under the bush, wiping dust off his knees and holding a tiny, sparkling ball in his hand.

Adrienne appeared a moment later, fiddling with a stick that had found it’s way into her ponytail. She walked over to James, and peered at the ball. ‘See? It’s okay. I told you it would be.’

James glared at her, and walked inside with Sirius, who still hadn’t managed to tie up his laces.

James’s dad was sitting in the living room, reading the daily prophet with a tired expression on his face.

‘What’s that you’ve got there?’ He asked when he saw James holding the shimmering ball so carefully.

‘Nothing.’ He hurried past, covering the ball with his t-shirt.

James and Sirius went into James’s bedroom, closing the door behind them. Adrienne came in a moment later, a grumpy look on her face.

‘Why won’t you let me hold it? I’m not a baby.’

‘I know that. Look it’s Dads, okay? I found it. When we were looking for a ball to play Quidditch with.’

‘Oh. But it’s just a ball.’

James sighed patiently. ‘Adrienne, you better go to bed. It’s late.’

The younger girl gave him a look. ‘It’s four o’clock in the afternoon, twit. You call that late?’

Sirius laughed, wondering what James was going to say to this. He didn’t say anything, just steered her out the door, closed it behind him, and locked it gently.

‘Polite.’ Sirius commented.

‘I needed to talk to you.’

‘Ooh. Hush, hush.’ James glared at his friend, who had wrapped himself up in a ball.

Sirius sprung out, not unlike a cat, and grinned. ‘So. What’s this about?’

‘She is driving me crazy.’

Sirius raised his eyebrows. ‘That’s important? Why didn’t you just say it in front of her?’

‘Because. Dad’d kill me.’

‘Why?’

‘Her mum and dad died. We’re looking after her, because Dad’s her guardian. Or something.’ James shrugged his shoulders.

‘Oh. She doesn’t seem really sad.’ Sirius looked at the door.

‘I know. Strange, isn’t it?’

‘So. Should we feel sorry for her?’

‘Dad said to act normal.’

‘For you, that would mean tease her. Or at least pull her hair. Or throw food at her. Or-’

Sirius seemed to be ticking a list off on his fingers.

‘What is that supposed to mean?’

‘Well, in front of most girls, you aren’t real polite.’

‘That’s because we hang around Lily, and we don’t like Lily.’

‘You don’t like Lily.’

‘I thought you didn’t like Lily.’

‘I never said that.’

‘Yes you did.’ Sirius realised how stupid this was getting, and sighed. ‘You don’t really hate her, for Gods sake, you kissed the girl.’

James lay back on his bed and stared at the ceiling. ‘I don’t know. I get mad at her, but she’s so funny sometimes, and sweet…’

James trailed off and Sirius pulled a face. ‘Lovesick.’

‘I am not.’

‘Yes you are.’

‘Am not… And how did you know I kissed her?’ ’

‘You are lovesick… None of your business.’

Adrienne sat quietly outside the door, listening intently. She fished around in her pocket and found Elyse. The doll sat limply in Adrienne’s white hand, her cloth arms hanging over her palm.

Her button eyes looked up blankly, staring at something no one else could see, her mouth curved up in a red smile. The dolls red hair hung down from her head, tied in tiny plaits; Adrienne had been bored on the ride over.

She knelt down and brought Elyse up to her nose, sniffing the familiar smell of the cloth and sighed sadly.

She pocketed the little doll and walked slowly away, humming a soft tune to herself.

Sirius went home after a few days, and James was left by him self with Adrienne, and soon became rather bored. An eleven-year-old girl doesn't really provide much entertainment for a sixteen-year-old boy, and this fact became known quite soon.

So, when Adrienne was out doing- James wasn't sure what- and he wasn't sure he wanted to find out (she'd dragged him into playing dolls with her twice). Anyway, he went to his room with some parchment and a quill, and he started writing a letter.

When he had filled up a small piece of parchment, he stepped back, admired his handy work, and gave his letter to his owl, Pickles, to deliver.

He watched Pickles fly off into the horizon, then tiptoed down the stairs, hoping to find some left over cheesecake with out running into Adrienne.

A few hours away, Lily was doing her homework, well, trying to do her homework. She was having some difficulties.

'You need three cups of frogspawn- no, wait, I think it's two.' She mumbled incoherently as she worked, and wasn't aware of the owl that flew in through her window. She noticed the owl quite soon though, as it grew bored and decided it should nip her.

'Ouch!' She spun around. 'Yikes!' For the owl that was visiting was- green?

She raised her eyebrows and picked up the letter, keeping her eye on the owl the whole time. It looked familiar, somehow, although she was pretty sure she'd never seen a green owl before.

Lily ripped open the letter and a piece of parchment fell out. Her eyes widened as she read the contents of the letter, and she read, then re-read it again several times. After awhile, she sat down at her desk, pushed aside the potions essay she was supposed to do, and read the letter again (she was still basically in shock)

My Dearest Lily,

It is with great sorrow that I write this letter to you, as my heart is breaking in your absence. I hope your holidays are well? As you can guess, mine are awful. Though they might be better if you would grace me with your presence.

Love always,

J. Potter

She stared at the page, grabbed a quill of her own, and started writing a reply.

Dear Idiot (otherwise known as James)

Are you insane?

Lily

P.S. Exactly what are you feeding your owl? It's green, in case you haven't noticed.

She handed her letter to the owl gingerly, as she wasn't sure if a green owl would bite. It flew through the window and over the muggle gardens, causing plenty of shouts from little children bouncing on their trampolines.

She rolled her eyes and sat down again, then realised the letter was still lying open for all to see. So she stuffed it in a little box next to her bed and sat down again, but now she couldn't concentrate. Trust James to send a green owl to deliver a love letter- love letter? She decided he must have eaten a strange pumpkin, or something, because he definitely wouldn't have sent her something like that in his right state of mind. But then again, that really wasn't saying much.

Pickles entered the Potter house at midnight, but everyone was awake, which was unusual, as Mr Potter tried to get the kids to go to sleep early (habit).

Adrienne and James were actually having a rather enjoyable game of Exploding Snap, and Mr and Mrs Potter were discussing something to do with the ministry, which neither James nor Adrienne understood.

'Ha! I won!' Adrienne crowed after their fifth game (of which James had won four)

'Pickles!' James exclaimed, as he grabbed the letter in his owls' beak. The other occupants of the room stared in disbelief at Pickles.

'James?'

'Yeah?'

'What did you do to it?'

'Huh? Oh, nothing.' He patted Pickles and disappeared up the staircase, letter in hand.

He read Lily's letter and grinned, pleased with himself. Then he set to work on the next letter, biting the end of his quill as he wrote. It was a bit longer than the last one, but he grabbed Pickles from Adrienne (she thought he was cute) and sent him back again, nibbling on an owl treat.

It was three o'clock in the morning when Lily heard something tapping on her window. She groaned, and shoved her pillow over her ears, not wanting to be disturbed so early in the morning.

But the taps turned into bangs, and Lily suspected the deranged thing had started slamming itself into her windowpane. Since she was against cruelty to animals, she dragged herself out of bed and opened the window latch. The cool night air rushed in, along with that green owl.

She pulled a face, silently cursing James.

'Well, now. What d'you have for me at this hour in the morning?' She lit her bedside lamp and sat down under the covers, opened the envelope and let out a giggle, which she quickly stifled so as not to wake up Petunia.

Dear my Darling Lily,

Insane? Me? I would be deeply offended, but I love you too much to care. Lily snorted. How is that charming sister of yours? I hope she's healthy, and not prying into your business.

Anyway. Where was I? Oh, yeah. I love you more than life itself. Your smile lights up my day like the sun lights up the cold winter mornings.

I count the days until we meet again (there are 35)

James.

She crept out of bed and grabbed a quill, piece of parchment and an extra blanket, because it was a very cold morning for what was supposed to be summer.

Dear James completely-out-of-his-mind Potter,

Yes, you are insane. And are you on any type of medication? If not, maybe you should be. If you are, I recommend you stop taking it, because I think it's done weird things to your already miniature brain. Maybe you should stop thinking, before your head explodes. It can only cope with so much thinking, you know. And I think you've exceeded your monthly limit. Then again, it's possible you haven't been thinking at all.

Have you been reading Shakespeare?

By the way, there's 36 days until we see each other. Thank God.

Lily

P.S. Your owl is still green. And it seems a bit abnormal too, if you know what I mean. It tried to break my window to get inside, so don't blame me if it's a bit dizzy next time you see it. What's its name?

She slipped it into an envelope, stroked the strange owl for awhile, then sent it out the window. It must have lost its sense of direction when it tried to break into Lily's room, as it immediately crashed into the apple tree in the backyard, and fell to the ground in a heap.

Lily groaned, giggled, grabbed her cloak and raced down the stairs, careful not to wake anyone up. If Mary found out what she was doing… They all knew she was a witch now, it was an impossible secret to keep, but what if she found out about the letter?

She shuddered to think of it.

Lily rushed outside, shivering in the cold, and looked around for the poor creature. She found it lying in a mulberry bush, upside down with its legs in the air. She touched its chest, hoping it was breathing.

It was.

She breathed a sigh of relief and bundled it up into her cloak, carried it inside, and fell asleep on the couch, being too tired to climb the stairs to her bedroom.

Petunia woke up early. She got dressed, peeked out the window to see if anyone was doing anything strange, and after she'd watched the postman deliver a few letter, she went downstairs, only to find her younger sister fast asleep on the couch.

Goody, was the first juvenile thought that entered her mind, and she crept up behind Lily, leapt up into the air, and yelled out 'BOO!'

Which really is a juvenile thing for an eighteen-year-old to do.

Lily wasn't the only living thing Petunia disturbed, though. She had managed to awaken a large, green something with wings.

Petunia saw the thing.

It saw her.

Petunia screamed, ran from the room and yelled loudly the entire time. The thing (which happened to be an owl) chased after her, its wings flapping and it screeched as it chased.

Lily watched the entire thing sleepily, her eyes not entirely taken in what was happening, but she took it as funny and laughed herself silly.

When the owl re-entered the living room, Lily was on the verge of going back to sleep. It pecked her, got grumbled at, but had successfully managed to wake her up, and the two of them ascended the stairs together.

'Okay. Where's that letter of yours?' The owl produced a rather wet letter out from under its wing. 'Oh, good. Now, off you go, and promise me you'll peck James plenty, 'kay?' She rethought this sentence. 'Why am I talking to an owl?' She muttered under her breath, sent the green owl away, and it managed to get past the apple tree this time.

She watched it go with a funny feeling.

James read Lily's reply and laughed, found his quill, a piece of parchment, and wrote back to her, sitting up in a large Sycamore tree that grew in his backyard. Adrienne hadn't yet discovered this particular hiding spot of his, though she was going through them all pretty rapidly.

Lily, flower of my life (where was he getting these from?)

Meet me at Diagon alley on the 5th of August. Be there, or I'll send you a Howler.

Missing you (as always)

Prongs

P.S. I was bored, so I thought I'd try dying Pickles (that's his name) a different colour. It's interesting, huh?'

'Hey, James?'

He groaned.

'What?' How had she managed to find him? And so fast?

'What're you doing?'

'Nothing.'

'Oh. Can I come up?'

Make her go away… 'Sure!'

He handed his letter to Pickles, who flew off through the branches, only crashing into three, but he managed to straighten himself quickly.

'Who was that too?'

'Nobody.'

'Your girlfriend?' Adrienne teased, grinning.

'No. I don't have a girlfriend, and don't particularly want one, either.'

Adrienne raised her eyebrows. 'Sheesh. I was only asking.'

James shrugged. 'Sorry. I didn't get much sleep.'

'I got even less than you did. Did you know that you snore?'

James was clearly horrified. 'I do not!'

Adrienne grinned mischievously 'who's Lily?'

'Oh, just this girl- what- how did you-'

'You talk in your sleep as well.' She climbed down the tree and skipped inside, humming under her breath.

'What do I say?' he called, praying it wasn't anything to do with Shakespeare. But she didn't hear him, and he spent the rest of the day waiting for Lily's reply, and wondering what on earth he said in his sleep.

Meet him at Diagon alley? Howlers? Lily blinked, trying to understand what he was saying. She was exhausted, and when you're tired, you don't comprehend things as well as usual.

When everything became clear, she turned on her lamp, scribbled onto a piece of parchment, and gave Pickles an owl treat and sent him on his way again.

Then she dropped back of to sleep, completely oblivious to Petunias horrified yells, having seen Pickles fly off into the night.

Pickles was most definitely a deranged creature, and James noted this as he sleepily let the hysterical owl inside.

James

I'll meet you there at 12:00pm.

Flower of your life? What have you been eating? Owl food?

Lily.

He grinned and collapsed back onto his nice, soft pillow, much to the disappointment of Pickles, who was very hungry.

A couple of weeks later, James was wandering around Diagon Alley, looking for a tallish girl with dark red hair. It was 11:59, and there was no sign of her yet at all.

Then-

'James! Over here!'

He spun around, and saw Lily standing in the middle of the street, grinning stupidly.

'M'dear Lily, how are you this fine day?'

He bowed low, and caused many amused whispers to arise from the passing crowd.

She pulled a face, unable to hide the smile forming. 'It's raining.' She pointed out, looking up at the dark clouds forming in the sky.

'Alas! What shall we do?' James looked stricken, and leaned on Lily's arm for support.

'Grow a brain?'

'Yeah. Good idea.'

They decided to go to The Leaky Cauldron, because neither of them had had lunch yet, and both were starving.

While Lily waited for the food to be served, she looked at the latest copy of the daily prophet, some old Warlock had left their copy lying around for all to read.

DARK MARK AGAIN, the headline read. Lily's eyes widened, and she began to read the article.

The dark mark has appeared over 5 houses in the past 3 weeks, and many are too frightened to leave the house, while others are resorting to staying in large groups. No Death Eaters have been caught as of yet, but the Minister assures us they are growing closer and closer to their trail. Unspeakables are working over time, though, of course, we have no idea what they are up to.

'What's that?' James asked, leaning over the table to see.

She showed him, and he frowned as he read, then looked up sadly.

'Don't worry, Lily. We're safe at Hogwarts.'

'Yeah.'

'Anyway, guess what I heard?'

'What?' Their food had arrived, and Lily spoke through a mouthful of pumpkin pie.

James swallowed, choked, gulped down some apple juice, and started coughing. When Lily had stopped patting his back, he took a deep breath and spoke.

'There's going to be a Halloween dance this year.'

Lily spat our her juice.

'Oh?' She asked, trying to look dignified. 'How d'you know?' She wiped the table over with her sleeve, while James looked on with an amused expression plastered across his face.

'Someone told Frank Longbottom, who told Kylie McEvoy, who told Sirius, who came over in the holidays and told me.'

'Oh. Cool. Speaking of holidays, I take it you were bored?'

'Huh?'

'The letters you wrote me.'

James snorted into his plate. 'Yeah, guess so.'

'I tell you, you are the most insane person I know.'

'Even more than Sirius?'

Lily considered this. 'Maybe not. But even so, you're quite insane as it is.'

'Quite true, quite true. But better than being dull, like some people I can think of.'

'Are you saying I'm boring?' She raised her pie piece threateningly.

James's brown eyes danced. 'I might be.'

She lowered the pie. 'You don't really think I'm gonna throw this, do you?'

'Nope.' He crossed his arms across his chest and grinned. A few moments later, pumpkin pie was dripping down his front, and bits of pumpkin and mince were stuck to his glasses.

Which is why, a few minutes later, they were thrown out of the pub for uncouth behaviour.

The pair of them bought all their school stuff together, and didn't go home until the sky was dark and sprinkled with stars.

Kings cross station was extremely crowed, and Lily was having difficulty with her trolley. She kept getting shoved to one side, and was beginning to cut it very fine making it to the train. (Does that make sense?)

When she had finally managed to get onto the platform, she shoved her trunk onto a carriage, and plonked herself down in an empty one.

Sirius stuck his head in the door halfway through the ride, an evil smile dancing over his face, his eyes twinkling with mischief.

'What d'you want?' She asked suspiciously.

Sirius looked hurt. 'I hear you attacked James with pie.'

Lily giggled. 'Yup. The colour suited him, actually.'

'So I hear.'

Sirius and Lily had been discussing certain pies for a while, when Remus and James slid in.

'Hi Lily.'

'Hey.' She looked at James. 'Hi Pumpkin Face.'

'Ha ha. I will get you back for that, you realise.'

'Of course.'

Sirius looked from Lily to James. 'Are you two still fighting with each other?'

'Yes.'

'Yes.'

Sirius pulled a face. 'You disgust me. You know you like each other but….' He trailed off meaningfully.

The train stopped suddenly, the lights turned off, and they were plunged into total darkness.

'Yeouch!'

'Sorry.'

'James?'

'Sirius?'

'Will whoever that is please get off my foot?.. I'm waiting.'

'Oh, that person… sorry.'

'What's going on?'

'Why have we stopped?'

The lights came back on, and the four of them stared at each other. Lily had somehow managed to end up on Remus's lap, James and Sirius' robes were tangled up with each other's, and they were all very confused.

Lily peered out the window. 'We aren't even nearly there yet. What's going on?'

'Dunno.'

'Well, I'm going up the front to check.' Lily made her way out of the carriage, apologising to Remus on the way.

The boys looked at each other, then followed her out, James and Sirius trying to untangle each other first.

There was quite a crowd gathered at the front of the train, and how Sirius, Lily, James and Remus ever made their way to the front of it, they would never know. But when they got there, they weren't sure they wanted to be.

A young girl was lying on the floor, in the doorway to one compartment. The driver was bent down over her, his face stricken. James saw the girl's face.

Adrienne.

He gasped, and raced down beside her. 'Is she okay?' he asked breathlessly.

The driver looked up, and slowly shook his head. 'No. You-know-who's doin' fer sure.'

James's face paled, but he fought to keep a straight face.'

'How do you know?'

The driver pointed upwards, and the crowd glanced towards the ceiling.

A large, shadowy skull with a snake wound through it was floating eerily, lit in the dark.

'The dark mark.'

The crowd whispered, and slowly departed, obviously terrified. James was reluctant to leave Adrienne's side, but Sirius and Lily dragged him back to their own compartment, with some difficulty.

The four friends sat silently for what seemed like ages. James was pale, and he stared out of the window, a blank expression on his face, like he couldn't believe what had happened.

Sirius sat next to James, but for once in his life, he didn't speak, or even try to say anything funny. Lily and Remus were also silent, Remus was daydreaming, and Lily was also looking out the window, occasionally looking up at James.

Finally, James spoke. 'Why did he have to kill her? I mean, her parents are both already dead, but to end someone's life so soon- she was still only eleven. And she never did anything to him…' he didn't seem to be talking to anyone in particular, so the others stayed silent.

Finally, the train pulled into Hogwarts, where all their teachers were waiting for them. Professor Dumbledore looked more serious than James had ever seen him, Professor McGonagall looked close to tears.

The sixth years watched as the teachers carried the young girl's body off the train, and the seventh years comforted some younger children, who were terrified out of their minds.

One little girl with dark brown hair and big, almost black looking eyes had decided she didn't like the seventh years, and had attached herself to Lily. She refused to leave her newly found friend, so in the end, Lily went with the first years over the lake, grinning as she did so. She hadn't been expecting to go on the lake again.

Lily reappeared right before the sorting was going to start, and slipped into a chair next to James.

'What have I missed?' she asked breathlessly.

'Oh, nothing much. You know. Snape tripped over the steps, knocked almost everyone behind him, and just about caused an avalanche. McGonagall happened to be standing there, got pushed right over, her glasses smashed, and she tripped, rolled right into the lake, and the first years had to fish her out. Hagrid almost drowned.'

James, Remus and Peter stared at Sirius incredulously.

'Uh, Sirius?' Lily said politely.

'Yes?'

'There is one slight problem with your story. Professor McGonagall is sitting at the table, her glasses on, and she looks perfectly fine to me. Besides, I came over with the first years, remember?'

'Oh. Yeah. Well, it would have been funny if it had actually happened.'

Before Lily, or anyone else, could comment on Sirius's state of mind, the first years turned up on the platform, and they all turned to look at the new Hogwarts students. The girl who had been following Lily was standing somewhere in the middle, biting her nails nervously.

But before anyone carried the sorting hat out to sing, Professor Dumbledore stepped up on the platform, his long white beard trailing on the ground. He turned to face the many hundreds of faces in the hall, a very sad and old looking expression on his face.

'A terrible tragedy occurred on the train ride over, of which I am sure you all know about.

Adrienne McKinnon was only eleven years old.'

Many of the students looked down at their empty plates, some with tears stinging in their eyes. Some first years on the platform looked like they were about to cry.

'She should not have died. There was no reason to kill her, and why Voldemort did, we shall never know. But we do know that he cannot continue killing people, young or otherwise. It is cruel. And we must stop him.'

Professor Dumbledore looked down at them through his spectacles, and he smiled sadly, he blue eyes twinkling- Lily couldn't tell if it was with tears.

'Please remember what happened to this little girl. Don't just think 'it doesn't matter, no one will hurt me.' He could try to kill every person in this room. If we give in to him, he will win. But if we stand up for what we believe in, and stay true to those beliefs- we can win.'

The entire hall was silent, and then broke into applause. There were only a few people on the Slytherin table who did not acknowledge this speech. They sat silently, glaring at Dumbledore as if he were the enemy.

When the headmaster had taken his place at the staff table, Professor Flitwick carried the Sorting Hat over to the stool that stood waiting for it, then stepped to the side, holding a piece of parchment.

When the hat had finished singing, the older students clapped- the first years looked like they might fall off the stage in terror.

'Ackerman, Cale'

A short boy with sandy coloured hair stepped nervously forward, and he sat down, slipping the hat over his eyes.

'HUFFLEPUFF!'

The table next to the Gryffindor table burst into loud applause, and the boy grinned shyly as he sat down.

'Archer, Rowena'

The girl with the dark eyes walked over to the stool and almost as soon as it had fallen over her hair, it yelled out

'GRYFFINDOR!'

Rowena ran over to Lily, her face glowing. 'Hi Lily! Hi!'

Lily smiled. 'Hi. Want to sit down?' She gestured to the empty seat next to her, which the first year eagerly took.

She looked around, watching the sorting silently, then saw James sitting near her.

'I've seen you before, haven't I?' She peered around Lily curiously, her black eyes round. James shifted uncomfortably.

'No, I think so.' Those eyes were giving him the creeps.

'Oh.' She leaned back in her seat, then spoke to Lily. 'He knew Adrienne, didn't he?'

Lily nodded. 'Yeah. Did you?'

Rowena nodded sadly. 'We went to the same primary school. She was really funny, and when we found out we'd be coming to Hogwarts… Her parents would have been so proud. They were really nice.' Lily nodded sadly, being able to relate to this tale. 'You know-' Rowena started hesitantly.

'What?'

'I- I think she knew she was going to die.' She twisted her fingers around into a knot. 'She- she gave me this doll.' Rowena handed Lily a small cloth doll with a red smile painted on. 'She- told me told me to remember her.' James, who had been listening to this conversation, stared at the doll.

'Elyse!' He exclaimed.

'What?' His friends and Rowena stared at him. (And Lily, dunno if she counts in 'friend'.

'That's the dolls name. Elyse. She said it was after -oh, what was it? Some witch, or something. Her dad gave it to her.'

Rowena stared at him. 'I know I've seen you somewhere- but you have green eyes, why are they brown?' She looked very confused, along with everyone else. By now the sorting had finished, and food was piling up on their plates, disappearing just as rapidly.

'I've always had brown eyes.' James said through a mouthful of food.

'Oh. I guess I'm confusing you with someone else.'

When desert was over and the plates had been cleared away, the Gryffindors went up the marble staircase together, showing Rowena stuff on the way. They warned her about the teachers (watch our for McGonagall, she really strict.) And Sirius even showed her some secret passageways, which was actually quite an honour. Obviously, he was feeling generous, probably due to recent events.

James left for his dormitory almost immediately, his friends departing soon after, leaving Rowena by herself.

She stared up the boy's staircase, puzzled and upset by what had happened. Adrienne had been her friend- and that boy, James, she knew she'd seen him somewhere before. She racked her brains, trying to remember- but all she could come up with was his face, laughing at some joke. But his eyes were green. She sighed, and walked up the spiral staircase slowly, falling asleep in bed before she even had time to change.

The next morning, James was pale and completely silent, Lily suspected he hadn't slept at all the night before. Rowena had finally found some friends of her own, and they were sitting at one end of the Gryffindor table, discussing Transfiguration.

Sirius left early to find his new quill, which he had accidentally left in his dorm, Peter decided to catch up on some notes (everything had flown out of his already tiny brain during the holidays), and Remus went to the infirmary to get something for a headache. So Holly, Lily and James were the only ones left.

Holly suddenly remembered she needed to get another book, so James and Lily were left alone. They looked at each other over their cornflakes, and were talking about the new Potions master, when James got up abruptly and rushed out of the hall.

Lily stared at the doorway for a few seconds, then got up, grabbed her bag, and went flying out the door, knocking into several people on the way. She chased James through the long hallways, up and down stairs, until she was quite exhausted, and wondering how on earth James could keep going. She was lucky he was so tall; his head was visible among all the little kids. But then some huge shape appeared in front of her, and she could no longer see that mess of black hair.

She sighed impatiently and looked up, to only to see Hagrids concerned face looking down on her.

''Lo, Lily.'

'Hi Hagrid.' She tried to peer around him, and his huge hairy face grinned suddenly.

''He wen' tha' way' Hagrid said with a smile.

'Thanks! Wait- how did you?'

Hagrid laughed, his laughter rumbling along the hallway, echoing into many classrooms, much to the annoyance of some teachers.

Lily ducked around him, and dashed along the stone corridors, looking this way and that, trying to catch a glimpse of James. She saw him standing in a dead end, called out his name, then tripped over, falling flat on her face and scattering the contents of her bag everywhere.

'JAMES!'

He spun around to see Lily lying on the ground, junk all around her. He laughed, then sobered quickly and ran over to help her.

He held out his hand and pulled Lily up, his pale face trying to hide a grin.

'James!' Lily gasped out breathlessly. 'I- need- to talk- to- you.' She slid down against the wall, clutching a stitch in her side.

James sighed loudly. 'I know, I know. You're going to say 'it wasn't your fault she died, you couldn't have done anything to help, blah blah blah.'

He sighed again and slumped down next to her on the floor, watching a painting on the wall of some knight wearing rusted armour, who was watching them curiously.

Lily stared at James for a long time, her green eyes sad. 'I- I wasn't going to say that.'

James looked up. 'Oh?'

'N- no. I- I just- sorry,' she stammered.

'What?'

'I said sorry.' Lily said in a much more calm voice.

'Thanks.' James mumbled. 'Look, we'd better get to- er-'

'History of Magic.' She supplied, grinning.

''Oh, is that all? Well, we can be late then'

Lily laughed. 'I have a joke for you.'

'What?'

'Okay, do you know what a refrigerator is?'

'That's the joke?'

'No. But do you?'

''Do I what?'

'Know what a refrigerator is?'

'Yes.'

'Good. What is white and sits in the middle of a field?'

'That's the joke?'

'Yes.'

'Umm… A flower?'

'No. A refrigerator on a picnic.'

James stared at her for a moment, 'Riiiight.'

'Look, I knew that one in, like, grade 3.'

James snorted. 'Come on, I think History of Magic's better than your jokes.'

'Gee. Thanks a lot. Now my feeling are hurt.'

James helped her pick up her stuff, and they ambled along to their classroom, in much better moods than they had been.

'Got another joke for you.' Lily said with a grin.

James groaned. 'What this time?'

'Okay. What is blue and sits at the bottom of a lake?'

'A dead fish?'

Lily rolled her eyes. 'No. A refrigerator holding its breath.'

James raised his eyebrows 'Yes Lily, that is so much more normal than a dead fish,' he said sarcastically.

They walked into History of Magic half an hour late, and the entire class turned around and looked at them. Professor Binns, a very old teacher with practically no hair, glared at him from his desk, while the students were extremely grateful for this distraction. Sirius glanced up, and his eyebrows almost shot right off his forehead. His surprise quickly turned to delight, and after James and Lily had been given their detentions, and Binns had gone back to his lecture, Sirius started teasing his friend.

'What were you doing?'

'Just talking.'

'About what?'

'Refrigerators.'

'Pardon?'

James and Lily broke out into giggles, causing them to lose yet another 20 points from Gryffindor.

A few weeks into the school term, they had a very strange lesson. Professor Trelawney was sick (no doubt too much perfume), and they had a substitute.

Walking along the halls of Hogwarts, the three of them were discussing the possibilities of this Professor.

'You never know, they might actually be good at it.' Lily said, a thoughtful expression on her face.

'Maybe we'll get to use the crystal ball again.' Sirius said with a grin -the last time they had used crystal balls, he had seen a large, shaggy dog. 'The grim! My dear, you have the grim!'

He had thoroughly enjoyed freaking the rest of their class out.

James was deep in thought, and Lily noticed this. 'What's up?' She asked, as they approached the ladder up to the classroom.

'Huh? Oh… nothing.'

They climbed the ladder, and were soon in the stuffy Divination classroom… but something was different. It James awhile to realise what it was, and when he did, he gave a little laugh.

It looked a lot more like a classroom, and no perfume was stinking the entire room up, like it usually did.

'Good morning.' A voice said, and it was a voice completely unlike Trelawney's, it sounded more like Professor McGonagalls- more like a professor.

'Find a seat, and then we will begin.' The voice said, and few moments later a tall, young looking witch emerged from the smoke. She frowned upon them all, longest at Lily and Sirius, who were having a whispered conversation in the corner they were in.

'We will be reading tea leaves this lesson-' the class groaned '-however, we will be using a more complicated method than you used in your third year, I trust this will be harder. And Mr Black?' She turned to face Sirius, who grinned up at her

'Yes?'

'No cheating. I will be asking questions to how you came up with your answers. I do not like it when people cheat.' She gave him a stern look, and then sat down by the fire, looking out the window with a dreamy expression on her face.

The class rushed to the shelves with the tea cups on them, and filled them eagerly with hot water, then drained them as fast as they possibly could.

Lily stared into James's cup, twisting up her face in concentration.

'Umm…. I see… Lots of leaves.'

Professor Raven walked briskly over to their table and snatched the cup out of Lily's hands, causing both her and James to stare at her in surprise.

She looked into the cup, a frown upon her stern face. 'I see a- is that a deer?' Her frown became deeper, and she rotated the cup. 'Very strange… how odd…'

'What's odd?'

'Oh, nothing dear… nothing at all.' And with that, she handed a very confused Lily back her cup, and glided away, in something of a trance.

James and Lily stared at each other in surprise. Then they realised they were staring at each other and looked down quickly, trying to make pictures out of the mess of leaves gathered at the bottom of their tea-cups.

'Lily. Lily, wake up!' A hushed voice said, and Lily opened her eyes groggily.

'What?'

'Get up.' The person whispered, and Lily realised- to both her delight and horror- it was James.

'What's the time?' She turned around to look at her clock, and saw that it was only 1 o'clock in the morning. 'James.' She hissed, standing up and pulling on her dressing gown, 'what are you doing here?'

'Just came up to say hello,' he said, his teeth shining in the darkness.

'At one o'clock in the morning?'

'Uh… Well, no, not exactly. Want to come for a walk?'

'No.' She shivered and blew on her fingers. 'I want to get back into bed.'

'I'll keep you warm,' James teased, and Lily tried to glare at him, failing horribly, mainly because he couldn't see her face.

'James,' Lily whined, 'can't you just let me sleep? Or do you want me to fall into my cauldron tomorrow?'

James pretended to think about this for a moment. 'Sleep? Cauldron? Sleep? Cauldron?'

Lily rolled her eyes to the ceiling, grabbed his arm, and pulled him down the stairs, grumbling all the way. 'Where exactly are we going, may I ask?'

'I wouldn't have a clue.' He answered, causing her to turn around and glare at him for the second time, only this time he could actually see her. He winced.

'Tsk, tsk, James.' They turned around and saw Sirius leaning against the wall holding James's invisibility cloak.

'Hello Sirius.' Lily said cheerfully, grabbed the cloak off him, and the next moment footsteps could be heard going back up the girl's staircase. James shrugged at Sirius, then ran up the stairs two at a time.

Sirius stayed down in the common room, muttering to himself. 'Girls.'

A few moments later, James was dragging Lily back down the stairs, or rather, half of Lily. She was still half covered in the invisibility cloak, and Sirius couldn't help laughing at this predicament.

Remus and Peter appeared a moment later, both rubbing sleep out of their eyes.

'Okay then. Off we go.' And a few minutes later, the five sixth year Gryffindors were wandering around the halls of Hogwarts. At one thirty in the morning, which was actually quite forbidden (no doubt why James and Sirius wanted to go)

But a few hours later, most of them were very irritable, as Sirius had managed to get them lost.

'I don't know why I let you talk me into this,' Lily moaned, grabbing onto Remus's arm as she stumbled on the edge of a rug.

'You weren't talked into it,' Sirius said good-naturedly 'James made you come, probably so- ow!'

He had been slapped from both sides, and Lily gave a snort of laughter. 'Serves you right.'

Peter shivered, wrapping his cloak around himself tightly. 'Why are we doing this?'

'Well, my dear boy,' Sirius said with a grin on his face 'where would you be if I hadn't made you come?'

'Asleep.' Lily muttered.

'Exactly!' Sirius said triumphantly 'asleep!'

Lily stopped suddenly, causing Remus and James to crash into her back.

'That is a good thing, nutcase.' She turned to James. 'Has he always been this crazy?'

'Yes.' James answered immediately. Lily nodded, a small smile forming on her face.

'I thought as much. Where are we going? I know we're going somewhere. You just aren't a good navigator, Sirius.'

He poked his tongue out at her, then sighed. 'Okay, okay. We're going to the Divination tower.'

Lily pulled a face, stopping once again.

'Ouch!'

'Will you stop doing that?' James asked, rubbing his backside (he'd tripped over her robes and fallen down)

She stared down at him shaking with silent laughter, but straightened herself quickly when they heard footsteps coming their way.

James threw Lily up against the wall, and the other three followed immediately, scrambling to get under the cloak.

'James! We don't all fit!'

'Lily. Pretend you're inspecting something.'

'WHAT?"

'Well, you're a prefect, aren't you?'

'Ouch!'

'Oops. Sorry, thought you were Sirius.'

'I say Lily should stand out anyway.'

'Why?'

'We always fit under here with just the four of us. It's your fault.'

'I didn't want to come, thanks very much. Besides, maybe if you didn't have three servings of desert every night we might all fit. It could just be your-' James clapped his hand over Lily's mouth and dragged the others into a shadowy corner.

'Ow!'

'I couldn't breathe.'

James snorted, quietly. 'You didn't have to bite me.'

'Oh, shut up, both of you.' Sirius whispered; the footsteps were coming closer.

They watched as Filch walked slowly past, his beady eyes examining every inch of the hallway that they were standing in.

'We're dead.' Remus muttered.

A few days later, the five of them sat in an empty classroom, waiting for Professor McGonagall to take them to their detentions. She was running half an hour late, which was extremely unusual.

'You know, this is the second detention I've had in 2 weeks.' Lily muttered, looking grumpy. She fiddled with a loose strand of hair, got it into a knot by accident, and spent the rest of the conversation trying to get it out.

'This is my fourth.'

'First.'

'Well, I've beaten you all.' Sirius said proudly, a grin on his face.

'Surprise, surprise.' Lily muttered.

'I have had six!'

'Don't you ever get bored of it?'

'Nah, It's worth it, seeing the look on their faces.'

'Whose? The teachers or the poor, innocent, unsuspecting targets?'

'You call Snape innocent?'

'Good point.'

As Halloween grew nearer, not many students were thinking along the lines of school- the Halloween Ball was a much more popular topic.

Lily was sitting in the common room one evening, doing her homework, when she heard a noise behind her. She spun around, expecting Holly, who had promised to study with her. But it was James. He grinned, pulled out a chair and sat down, his black hair falling into his eyes.

'Hi. Have you seen Holly?'

James laughed. 'Last thing I saw she was being begged by some poor fifth year who wants to go to the ball with her.' Lily snorted.

'I have got to see this.' And so she climbed out the portrait, James at her heels, searching for Holly.

But they didn't find her, thanks to Snape, who was on his way to the library.

'Well, what do you know. It's Potty and his little mudblood friend.' He sneered down at Lily-, which was rather difficult, as she was as tall as him.

Lily felt herself turn pink. 'At least she's not a greasy haired loser who can't even come up with a good insult, Snape.' James glared at him, brown eyes flashing angrily.

'Can't she even stick up for herself, Potter? Didn't know Mudbloods were that weak.'

Lily saw red. She pulled out her wand smoothly, looked Snape calmly in the eye, then turned him into a toad.

James stared at he creature in front of him.

'How come you can do that here, but not in Transfiguration? You tried to turn Jo into a weasel, and she came out with all silky fur and whiskers.'

Lily wasn't thinking of this, however.

'What am I going to do?' She wailed, clutching her wand with shaking fingers. 'We can't leave him here!'

'Why not?' James asked, genuinely puzzled.

Lily glared at him.

'Come on Snapy, we're going for a little ride.' She shoved him into her bag, the toad's eyes staring at her reproachfully.

She walked briskly off, and James had to run to catch up to her.

'So. Where exactly are we taking dear Snape, eh?'

'The infirmary.'

'WHAT? And say what, exactly? 'Um, excuse me Madame Pomfrey, I got mad at Severus Snape, so I kind of turned him into a toad?'

'No. Do you really think I'm that stupid?'

'Yes?'

'Oh, shut up. Look, we're here.' She sat the big (and rather ugly, James noticed) toad down, and they both stared at it for a few seconds, James trying not laugh, Lily deciding whether she should laugh or run for it.

In the end, she tied a note around the toad's neck, grabbed James's hand, and pulled him along the corridor until they were along way away from the infirmary.

'Where exactly are we going?' James panted.

'I don't know. I just don't want to be around when Snape becomes human again. He might be feeling a bit nasty.'

'A bit? Lily, he'll want to kill you.'

'Thanks, James.' She said sarcastically. 'Now I feel much better.'

'What'd you tie around his neck, anyway?'

Lily giggled. 'It said 'HELP ME''

'Maybe we should go to the common room?'

'Why?'

'You're right. Snape will be feeling nasty. He'll want to hunt you down.'

''Kay. You do have your wand, don't you?'

'Yeah. Does it matter?'

'Yes. I don't know how to duel. You can do it for me.'

'Gee, thanks. I feel really honoured. I get to risk the chance of growing fur, just for you.' He smiled

sweetly, pulling a face at the time.

They walked back to the common room slowly, laughing about what Snape had looked like.

'He was green!' Lily said gleefully, her eyes teary from laughter.

'Who was?'

Lily and James whirled around, and they both breathed a sigh of relief when they saw that it was only Holly.

'Snape.' James said seriously. 'Lily turned him into a toad.' Holly's eyes widened until they were twice their original size.

'You did what?' She said in disbelief to her friend.

Lily's smile faded. 'I turned him into a toad.'

'Bravo!' Holly said happily, dancing around. 'Good for you!'

"Oh, be quiet. He'll be so mad, he'll want to blow me into a billion pieces.'

'That would be correct,' James said, nodding.

Lily pulled a face, turned, and headed in the opposite direction to the Gryffindor common room.

James and Holly looked at each other, shrugged, and then one followed Lily, the other decided they had had enough for the day.

'So, Lily.' James said amiably as they walked quickly along the corridor. 'Where're we going tonight?'

'I am going to the library.' Lily answered, not looking at him.

'At-' James checked his watch '-1 o'clock in the morning?'

She spun around and looked at him in the eye. 'I don't particularly want to get blown into a million pieces, believe it or not.'

'And you plan on not doing this how?'

'Well… I don't actually know.'

James grinned, please to be of use. 'Well, Miss Cooper, it just so happens that I do.' She rolled her eyes, but continued walking.

They entered the library slowly, and the only sound they made was when Lily whispered 'Lumos,' so she wouldn't knock into any tables.

When they'd made sure no one was anywhere near the library, James pulled out his wand, and gestured for Lily to stand opposite him.

'Okay now. What we do is- you know plenty of curses, right?'

'Yeah.'

'Well, we just throw some harmless hexes at each other, and try to block them.'

'Right.' Lily said slowly. 'Just one question. How do you block a curse?'

James dropped his wand. 'Are you telling me, that in all your years at Hogwarts, you have never learnt how to block a curse?'

Lily glared at him. 'No.'

He sighed. 'Look.' Lily said angrily. 'You don't have to help me! Go off and raid the kitchens, or do whatever you want.'

She turned quickly, knocked a candle that James had lit over, and her long black robes caught fire at once.

James leapt over, pushed her down to the ground, and the next thing she knew, she was looking into a pair of dark brown eyes that were shining oddly in the darkness.

'Uh, James?' She breathed.

'Mmm?'

'Wouldn't a simple smothering charm have done the trick?'

James grinned sheepishly. 'You never know with those things. Sometimes they don't work to well.'

Lily nodded.

Sirius met Holly in the common room. 'Where's James? Have you seen him anywhere?'

'Yup.'

She smiled and started to walk away.

'Where?'

She just shook her head, grinning the whole time. 'Say the magic word,' she teased.

'Pleeeease?'

'Why, of course. James has gone chasing Lily somewhere, I think the library.'

'Oh?' Holly could see Sirius's teeth form into an evil grin in the moonlight. 'Well, I need to catch up on some last minute stuff anyways.' He waved goodbye to Holly, and climbed out the portrait awkwardly.

'They need to get a bigger frame,' he mumbled under his breath.

He walked the familiar route to the library, and was surprised to see a faint glow coming from inside. James was usually more careful than this.

He crept in silently (so as not to disturb anyone that might 'happen' to be doing something they shouldn't be) and tip toed over to where the light was coming from, but what he saw wasn't exactly what he'd expected.

James was lying on top of Lily? Sirius blinked. His first thought was that she had tried to attack him, or vice versa, when he realised this must be wrong. Lily was actually laughing at something Prongs was saying, and didn't seem to even care that her 'enemy' was squishing her.

Sirius would have loved to take a picture, but somehow, he knew that would be just too mean a thing to do. Still slightly dazed by this unexpected turn of events, he left the library just a silently as he had entered, and only exploded into laughter when he reached the boys dorms.

Remus rolled over under his blankets, mumbling to himself. Peter groaned, and sat bolt up right, glaring at Sirius.

'Some people are trying to sleep!' He said crossly.

This was too much.

First James and Lily, now Peter sticking up for himself? Sirius broke down completely, and Peter and the now wide-awake Remus raised their eyebrows at each other, both wondering the exact same thing.

*ten minutes later*

'So. D'you think the fire's gone out yet?' Lily whispered.

James looked thoughtful. 'Maybe. It's hard to tell with these things.'

'You're probably right. Maybe we should just stay a little longer.'

'Yeah, wouldn't want anyone to get burned, would we?'

'Nah. I quite like my stomach how it is.' Lily grinned sleepily.

'I think it's gone out.' Lily said groggily, when she woke up after a quick snooze.

James nodded and crawled up, giving Lily his hand to pull her up. She took it, but he didn't let go once she was standing, and they both looked at each other in silence.

'Sooo…We better go back.'

'Yeah.'

They walked back to the common room quickly, James talking about certain curses that were rather useful when it came to dealing with Snape. For one thing, he hated worms. Lily, for some reason, found this hilarious, and they had to run the rest of the way to the Gryffindor tower, for fear of Filch hearing her in hysterics.

As Lily climbed the stairs to go to bed, she heard a voice call her name.

'Lily?'

She turned around. James was still standing at the bottom of the steps, a weird grin playing about his

lips. 'Yeah?'

'Want to go to the Halloween Ball with me?'

She laughed. 'Yeah. Sure.' And she raced up the rest of steps, grinning until her face hurt.

On the Saturday after Halloween (it had fallen on a Tuesday) not one person was thinking about homework. The girls, especially, were in a frenzy, and it seemed the only girls who weren't included in this statement were Lily and another Gryffindor sixth year, Jo.

'Hey, Sirius?' James asked curiously on the morning of the Ball.

'Mmm?' His friend answered sleepily.

'Who are you taking to the ball? You never ended up telling me.'

'Oh, didn't I? Oops.'

While James begged Sirius to tell him, Lily and Jo were involved in a very important conversation out on the Quidditch pitch stands, having been unable to find another place that was completely private.

'Jo.' Lily whined, putting on a puppy-dog face. 'Just tell me.'

Jo turned pink. 'No. Besides, you'll find out tonight.'

Lily snorted. 'So what? Look, you know who I'm going with.'

'Lily.' Jo said patiently. 'I knew who you were going with before you did.'

Lily started to say something, then realised what Jo had said, and muttered. 'I don't like him.'

Jo nodded agreeably. 'Of course you don't. You're just going to the ball with him so you can publicly embarrass him in front of the entire school population.'

'Yes!'

Jo rolled her eyes. 'Whatever. So, what're you going to wear?'

'Just this blue thing.'

'Just?'

Lily poked out her tongue, and decided to end the conversation before it got any more stupid.

'Want to play Quidditch?'

'Yup!'

And so, while all the other witches at Hogwarts were getting their hair neatly tied up, and had made sure their new dress robes weren't creased, Lily Cooper and Jo Gilles were playing Quidditch in the darkening sky.

It started to rain. Pour, in fact. They steered down on to the ground, laughing as water streamed down their faces. Lily checked her watch and gasped, giggling at the same time.

They raced upstairs, avoiding Filch, and dashed up into their dorm, where Holly, Laura, and Lianne were just putting the finishing touches on their hair.

Laura dropped the clip she was holding (the butterfly on it fluttered away crossly) and gaped at them, her mouth wide open.

Holly started to say something, but no words would come out, and she ended up looking like a fish.

Lily snorted with laughter at their reactions.

'My God.' Lianne muttered, looking at them from under a thick layer of eye shadow. 'You aren't planning on going out looking like that, are you?' She said incredulously.

'Yeah, Lianne.' Jo said sarcastically. 'We were going to go to the school ball looking like we'd just been half drowned.'

Lianne raised her eyebrows. 'Ha, ha.'

'Uh, Lily?' Holly asked politely. 'It starts in ten minutes.'

'WHAT?'

'Yeah.' Holly said, clipping back a messed up strand of hair that had escaped from the extravagant arrangement piled up on top of her head. 'You don't have much time.'

'Lily?' Lianne said, suddenly looking a whole lot happier.

'What?'

'If you're not going, I can go with James. That all right with you?'

'Well. I am going. So there.' She grabbed Jo's hand and pulled her into the bathroom.

'Okay.' Lily said, trying to sound calm. 'What we need to use is magic.'

'True.'

Holly, Laura and Lianne stood in the common room, waiting for their friends to appear. James and Sirius were sitting in some armchairs, playing chess, and seemingly not in the least worried if they were late for the ball.

Finally, after Sirius had beaten James twice, footsteps could be heard coming down the girl's staircase, and Lily and Jo stepped into the common room.

Lianne gaped jealously at them both, looking like Holly had earlier that evening. James and Sirius had similar expressions on their faces.

Jo had scarlet robes on, that were very plain, with her long black hair half up, the rest flowing down the back of her neck.

Lily's hair had little clips in it at the front, twinkling different colours in the light. She had dark blue robes on, with a thin strip of gold on the sleeves and at the hem. Neither she nor Jo had any make-up on whatsoever. James gaped at her.

'Hi.' She said, grinning, very pleased with herself.

'Hi.' James answered in a strangled sort of voice. Lily and James were so busy staring at each other; they didn't notice Jo and Sirius talking quite happily about who-knows-what.

'You're going with Sirius?' Lily said in shock, laughing at the prospect. Both Jo and Sirius turned a very pink colour.

'Come on.' James said, not wanting Sirius and Lily to give each other black eyes before the ball. He couldn't be bothered going to see Madame Pomfrey for the third time that week.

The four of them walked down to the ball together, which had actually already started.

Sirius and Jo went to sit down, and James grinned at Lily. 'Want to dance?'

Lily looked at him suspiciously.

'There had better not be anything slimy you're planning on putting in my pocket.'

James pretended to be hurt by this accusation. 'Would I do something like that?' He wheedled.

'Yes. But I'll dance with you anyway.'

Professor McGonagall sat at a table with some of the other teacher/chaperone kind of people table, and couldn't help laughing at some of the couples dancing around.

The first years were particularly cute, except for the ones who were playing chasey. Rowena Archer and Joey McIntosh were almost as bad as the Potter gang, though (thankfully) there weren't as many of them.

McGonagall then saw something that made her choke on her pumpkin juice, causing Professor Dumbledore (who had been dancing with a Hufflepuff seven year- much to her embarrassment) to pat the Transfiguration teacher on the back.

'What happened?' He asked, concerned.

She pointed across the room, and Dumbledore looked, expecting to see James Potter chasing some poor innocent 5th year around with a firecracker.

Well, he did see James Potter. And he was with someone else. Professor Dumbledore laughed too, his light blue eyes shining merrily.

'Well, well, well. What do you know? Looks like Lily and James have decided they don't hate each other after all.'

They weren't the only people who had noticed. Severus Snape watched them, frowning furiously. Sirius and Jo were drinking punch, and discussing when they thought Lily would yell at him. Or the other way round.

And then several sixth years, fifth years and seventh years who knew either Lily or James raised their eyebrows when they saw this odd couple dancing together, seemingly quite happy.

'What d'you think they're saying?' Sirius asked Jo, watching his best friend step on Lily's toes (on purpose).

'I honestly don't know,' She answered, munching on some chicken flavoured chips.

If they had known what their friends were talking about, they probably would have been quite freaked out.

Lily had her arms around James's neck, and his arms were wrapped around her waist loosely.

'I have another joke for you.'

James rolled his eyes. 'Spare me,' he said to the ceiling. The stars did nothing of the sort; they only twinkled and sparkled a bit brighter, perhaps.

'Ahem. What is: Greater than God, more evil than the Devil, poor people have it, the rich don't need it, if you eat it you'll die?'

'I dunno.' James said, whisking her around the room to a fast dance.

'Nothing.' She answered, gripping James's neck tightly. 'James?' She said loudly, trying to be heard over the music of the band.

'Yeah?'

'There is a reason I don't do loop the loops on broomsticks.' She steered him over to some chairs in one corner of the room.

When she had caught her breath, she grinned weakly at him. 'Sorry. I just- just kind of get dizzy.'

James nodded, his eyes on the cake at the table near them. But before either of them could start scoffing down food (they hadn't eaten dinner yet) Sirius and his partner for the evening appeared at their side.

'So,' Sirius said with an evil grin. 'Are we invited to the wedding?'

Lily, who had just bit into a slice of cake, sprayed him with crumbs. When she had finished coughing and spluttering, she managed to glare at Sirius and Jo, who were laughing hysterically.

'What wedding?' She managed to reply, trying not to look like someone who had almost choked to death on chocolate mudcake.

Sirius caught James's eye, and decided it mightn't be wise to answer her. 'Oh, no ones.' He grabbed Jo's hand. 'We'll just be off now.'

When the ball was over, everyone seemed a bit reluctant to leave. Lily and James walked up to the common room slowly, having to take a slight detour when Snape saw them. When they had run several hundred metres to get away (neither of them had their wands) they continued walking, and talking, about nothing and everything.

They reached the common room, and looked around everywhere, just not at each other.

'Night.' Lily finally muttered, and James grinned.

'Hope the bed-bugs bite.' He teased, remembering a conversation they had had a few years back.

She glared at him. 'And I hope they eat you alive.' And with that, she leapt up the stairs to her dorm, collapsed onto her bed, and fell asleep, completely oblivious to various questions being thrown at her from her friends.

The next morning, Lily slept in, for obvious reasons, and when she lugged herself down the stairs, she still wasn't completely awake. Which was why, perhaps, she gratefully accepted the chocolate Sirius offered her. If she had been in her normal state of mind, she would have wondered where this sudden generosity had come from, as Sirius's stomach seemed to be over large, and he ate anything that was edible.

But the chocolate tasted fine. Until a funny tingling feeling came over her. It was quite weird, your surroundings becoming much larger, and you much smaller. Lily looked around frantically. She tried to wave her arms, then realised she didn't have arms. Only weird little feathery things.

Wings? Wings?

She decided right now might be a good time to peck Sirius's eyes out. But she couldn't figure out how to fly, and by the time it was almost working, she was human again. And a pretty darn ridiculous looking human at that.

Lily was flapping her arms, but when she became human again, she started to talk furiously at Sirius. That was what she had intended to do, but to Sirius it sounded a bit more like squawking.

She glared at him, and then looked in a mirror hanging in the girl's stairwell.

A BEAK?

Lily rushed outside, grabbed Sirius by the ear (the more painful, the better) and dragged him down to Madame Pomfrey.

The two of them stood in the infirmary, while Sirius explained (in a very not detailed kind of way) how Lily had come to have a bird's beak.

And it was just as Lily slapped him with her still a bit feathery arm, that James entered, still quite sleepy and after a remedy for a very sore throat he had acquired. Sore throats flew straight out of his mind when he saw his two friends arguing.

At least, he thought they were arguing. Sirius's half of the conversation sounded like insults, but Lily's weren't quite so recognisable. He wasn't even sure which language it was in.

Until he saw the beak.

James let out a quick shout of laughter, but quickly muffled it when he saw the looks in Lily and Madame Pomfrey's eyes. They were identical, murderous looks.

'Out! Out!' The school nurse shoved them out the room, maybe because she was afraid that they'd tease her. Which, Sirius said, was complete nonsense. Or it could have been because she didn't want Lily to peck them too hard.

'That could have been it.' James agreed when he heard this suggestion.

Lily wouldn't speak to James or Sirius for the next couple of weeks. She and Jo were very occupied, and though Jo's messages to Sirius were very cryptic, James and Sirius figured Lily was planning revenge. So the Marauders continued marauding, and Lily and Jo continued- well, doing whatever they were doing.

It was after a long night in the library, when Lily crawled into the common room, with only a dying fire to greet her. She trudged up the stairs, but felt the familiar old wave of insomnia sweep over her, and she sighed, grabbed her blanket off her bed, and crept down the stairs, dragging her thick quilt behind. Then she pulled a thick book of the shelf and curled up in a particularly squishy armchair.

James glanced at the clock. Half past one in the morning. He rubbed his eyes, wondering what on earth had woken him up. It was one of those feelings, where you just feel like you need to do something, but you aren't quite sure what it is.

So he sat in bed for awhile, getting quite cross with himself. There was a loud bang from the cupboard next to his bed, and James jumped.

Then he crept over to the cupboard, pulled open the door, and peered inside. He blinked. There was a blinding light coming from inside the cupboard. But he hadn't put any lights in it.

James started to pull things out one at a time, to find whatever it was. He was used to magic, but he hated not being able to understand something.

So when his hand closed in around something that felt very different to everything else. It was cold, but James could feel the magic making like a magical heat glow out. He had to shade his eyes to stop the light from blinding him.

But then, just as suddenly as it came about, the light disappeared, and the room was plunged into darkness. James shoved his junk back in the cupboard and sat up on his bed, clutching the round, smooth ball in his hand.

When he'd stopped breathing hard, he peered through the darkness to look at the little silver ball, and, not really to his surprise, he could see it clearly. An eerie silvery light seemed to shine out of it, not illuminating anything else, just making it possible to see the glass.

And then a picture began to form in the globe.

James leaned in close to it.

A very pretty young woman raced over the grass, her long hair flying out behind her, and she was laughing. A tall man chased after her, laughing as well, and when he caught her, she was tackled down into the grass. They rolled over and over in the grass, pulling at each other's hair playfully, giggling the whole time.

The first picture faded, and a new image quickly formed, the colours melting together.

The same girl, maybe a bit younger this time, sitting on a swing. She's pushing higher and higher, faster and faster, until she's flying through the wind on two chains, backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards when something flies her off it, and she lands several feet away, just like a cat.

The same man as before appears, waving a wand through the air, sparks flying from it, making a little show in the darkening sky, then blending into the sunsets golden and red rays.

He says something no one else can hear, and the girl falls over laughing, her hair spilling over onto her face, white cheeks pink with the cold.

The picture changed again, more quickly than the last time, but no happy faces were smiling in this image. James leaned forward, his heart thumping loudly in his chest.

An older version of the girl, but she isn't moving. She isn't doing anything.

She isn't breathing.

The entire picture faded away, and the inside of the ball became a smoky haze once again.

James sat motionless, still as a rock for several seconds. Then before his mind even registered what he was doing, he rolled of the bed and raced out the door, leapt down the stairs and skidded into the common room, breathing hard. And then he saw Lily.

She was fast asleep, clutching the blanket wrapped tightly around her, and her face was distorted with fear. Her arms flew about, fighting an invisible force, and her mouth moved, screaming terrible pleas, but no sound left her mouth.

In the days afterwards, he decided his brain mustn't have been in full function, because he was pretty sure that in his usual state of mind he wouldn't rush over and hug her. But that was what he did.

She woke up with a start and stared at James, with her big green eyes full of tears. She started to say something.

'I just- just-' she couldn't seem to get the words out, and broke out into tears, burying her face in James's pyjamas. He didn't say anything, and just held her close to him, stroking her hair with his fingers.

How long they sat there, James didn't know, and soon a cramp developed in his lower back, but because Lily had fallen asleep on his lap, there wasn't much he could do about it. After several hours, James fell asleep as well, his head resting on Lily's back, black hair falling over her robes.

Sirius awoke the next morning in high spirits, and he jumped out of bed, pulled his robes over his head, and bounced downstairs, not bothering to brush his hair. His eyes widened to the size of golf balls when he saw his best friend and his best friend's supposed 'enemy' lying on an armchair, curled up together.

He grinned. Life just got better and better. He crossed the common room in a few long strides, and skipped straight up to the sixth year girl's dorm, and shook Jo awake.

She glared at him with blurry eyes.

'What on earth do you want?' She groaned, sitting up, her black hair looking even darker against her very pale skin.

'Come with me,' he hissed, an insane grin dancing across his face.

She just glared at him, and was about to snuggle back down, when Sirius snatched her hand and pulled her out the room.

'Sirius, if this isn't good, I'll kill you, I swear- oh my God.' Her eyes fell on the cosy couple by the fire, and they widened tremendously.

'So.' Sirius said happily. 'Should we wake them up?'

Jo looked scandalised. 'No!' Then she grinned evilly. 'We take a photo.'

Sirius nodded, and rushed up stairs, muttering to himself. 'Now that's my kind of girl.'

When he reappeared, Jo was sitting on the edge of an armchair, trying to work out which angle to take it. She grinned again when she saw the camera in Sirius's hands.

'Now. I was thinking if we do it from this angle, we can see Lily's face, but if we do it from this angle-' she changed her position on the seat '- we can see both their faces, but it doesn't look quite so cute.'

She looked up at Sirius. 'So, what d'you think?'

Sirius hugged her, and when he pulled away, she looked quite bewildered. 'What was that for?'

Sirius shrugged. 'Dunno. So, do you want to take it, or should I?'

'You can.'

Sirius grinned. 'Oh, this is going to be good.'

Jo nodded. 'Very, very good.'

The click of the camera woke Lily and James up, but neither of the two realised where they were and what were they doing for a few moments, and when they did, the first thing they saw was their best friends, grinning like Cheshire cats.

Lily stared at James. 'Umm…' She leapt up. 'Sorry?'

James wasn't much of a morning person. He looked around sleepily, his brown eyes un-focused.

His glasses had been knocked off during the night.

Sirius found them, and placed them on James's face.

'Good morning!' he said cheerfully.

James just stared at him. Then he saw Jo, who was giggling, and then Lily, who looked dead on her feet.

And then he remembered the glass ball. And what he'd seen in it.

'Morning,' James replied sleepily. 'Is it breakfast time?'

The rest of them looked at him, not saying a word. Then Sirius turned, disgusted. 'Always thinking of your stomach,' muttered under his breath.

Jo decided she was actually very hungry, and left through the portrait hole, shaking her head.

Lily looked down at the ground, getting very cross with herself, because she could feel her face going red.

'James?' She said timidly.

'Yeah?'

'Er… thanks for last night.'

James looked at her. 'I didn't do anything,' he muttered. Then he turned to go get dressed.

As he reached the doorway, he heard a small voice say something.

'Yes, you did.'

Sirius sat, fiddling with his quill, in a particularly boring History of Magic lesson.

Oh, how boring it was.

He looked around with heavy eyes, wondering if anyone else was awake. Remus was (how, Sirius would never know) Peter was snoring softly, and James- Sirius grinned. James was gazing at Lily.

He looked down at the quill in his hand, looked back at James, and then at the table.

Such a boring table it was. Definitely needed something to brighten it up a bit.

So, for the rest of the lesson, Sirius set about making his desk 'beautiful'. He didn't realise how deep the cuts in the table were, not until Remus looked over at him. And grinned cheekily.

'James'll kill you. And Lily, if she sees.'

Sirius looked down. 'He won't see… Actually… How do I get this off?'

Remus looked a bit more closely. 'I don't think you can. You scratched it in too deep.'

And so, for the remaining half of the lesson, Sirius was just as busy. The next thing he knew, no one was talking, and they all had their heads bent over their desks. Either the Professor had put them all to sleep, or they were working. He listened for snores, (ignoring Peter's) and came to the conclusion that they were working.

'Moony,' he hissed. James wouldn't be much help. Not if he wanted to survive.

'What?' Remus glanced up.

'What're we doing?'

'Weren't you listening?'

'I was trying to save my life. I can't listen and save my life at the same time. What do you think I am?'

Remus laughed. 'So did you get it off?'

Sirius shook his head sadly. 'I'll be dead by sundown.'

But Sirius wasn't dead by sundown, really only because James wasn't paying any attention to any writing on his best friend's desk; he was having quite a heated argument with the object of his affection. (That was how Sirius put it, anyway.)

'I DID NOT-' the entire class turned around to look at Lily, who had lost her temper.

'I did not do that. So there.'

James poked out his tongue.

'Oh, so mature, aren't we?' She said sarcastically.

He glared at her. 'Since when are you mature? Or have I missed something?'

Lily turned on her heel and stormed out the room, knocking into Professor McGonagall on the way out.

Sirius turned to look at James. 'Very smooth, Prongs. You just have it down to a tee with ladies.'

James snorted. 'Lily is not a lady. She's a- a- witch.'

'Yeah, and so's every other girl in this room.'

James shrugged. 'I'm hungry. You coming?'

Sirius rolled his eyes up to the ceiling, but followed James and Remus out of the room.

Most students liked to go home for the Christmas holidays, some because school- well, who'd want to stay at school any longer than you have to? Others just liked the extra presents they could get from their parents, and some (these are the nice, kind, generous ones) just missed their parents.

Lily didn't go home this year, because Mary was going through a new stage. Mainly boys. She hadn't shut up about her new 'boyfriend' all summer, and Lily didn't want to find out whether or not their 'relationship' was working out.

So, on Christmas Eve, she and James sat in the common room, being the only sixth years left. They were both equally concentrating on the game of chess they were playing, and in actual fact had not spoken since breakfast.

When Lily won the game, James picked up a pack of cards and started dealing them out. This caused a bit of confusion, because since they weren't talking, they didn't know which game they were playing. Lily was playing Snap, and James was playing Go-Fish. When this had been sorted out, they played with the card pack for hours, and as the clock struck midnight, they were busily constructing a card pyramid, exchanging insults, and occasionally changing the subject to Snape.

The pyramid exploded. James looked at Lily and grinned, black soot singeing his cheeks.

'So. Shall we call it quits for the evening?'

Lily smiled. 'We shall. Goodnight.'

They turned and left the room in opposite directions, leaving a mess of cards lying on the floor behind them.

James was under the impression that something was making his bed bounce. He was beginning to feel seasick, and wondered if this was some new type of hallucination.

He struggled to open his eyes, fighting back the wave of dizziness that was making his head spin.

When he saw Lily bouncing up and down on the end of his bed, he had to fight the urge to strangle her. The only reason he didn't strangle her was because she was holding presents, and he liked getting presents.

'Is there a reason you're in here bouncing on my bed?' He groaned, trying to sound cheerful and edge closer to his gifts at the same time.

Lily grinned good-naturedly. 'No. I just thought I'd wake you up. Did you know that you snore?'

'Yes. I was kindly pointed that out in the holidays. Thanks all the same.'

'You talk in your sleep as well.' Lily said in an offhand voice, and she began shuffling through her presents, looking for the smallest one, so she could open them in order, from smallest to biggest.

James stopped ripping spotty wrapping paper off something squishy, and stared at her. 'What exactly do I say?'

'Weeeeell. Unrecognisable stuff…You mentioned a hippogriff…and I think you said something about not wanting to eat your pudding… Yeah, that's about all I heard.'

'That's all? You know, dreams are supposed to be private, thanks very much.'

Lily raised her eyebrows. 'Sorry. But if your dreams are supposed to be private, maybe you shouldn't talk about them out loud. It really isn't a very smart thing to do.' She was about to continue, when they heard a knock on the door. Lily leapt under the bed, pulling the gifts she'd brought in under too.

Professor Dumbledore walked in, looking more cheerful than he had in ages. He had holly in his hair, and tinsel wrapped around him. He reminded James strongly of a Christmas tree, but he of course didn't say anything like that to the headmaster.

'Good Morning, Mr. Potter, Miss Cooper.' He said it in a teasing kind of tone.

Lily stuck her head out from under Sirius's bed.

'Do you have x-ray vision?' She accused him, and then slapped a hand across her mouth in apology.

Dumbledore laughed. 'No.' He handed her a tissue. 'But you shouldn't sniff.'

Lily looked at the cloth in her hand, and blushed, wondering what to with it. She didn't exactly want to blow her nose on a hankie belonging to the headmaster.

'Now. I was just wondering if you two would like to go to Hogsmeade today?'

'You came into my dorm to ask us that?' James said incredulously.

'Yes. There aren't many students here these holidays. Only about four Gryffindors, no Hufflepuffs, two Ravenclaws, and six Slytherins. Besides, it's been a long time since I came to visit the dormitories.' James grinned, and Lily looked longingly at the parcels in front of her, just waiting to be opened.

Professor Dumbledore laughed, walked over to the door, and smiled at the two of them, his light blue eyes shining.

'I take it you'll be coming?' He asked.

They nodded. 'Then I'll let you get back to your gifts.' With that, he closed the door behind him, and they could hear his footsteps disappearing down the staircase.

James looked at Lily and shrugged. 'Well, no one ever said he was a normal headmaster.'

Lily wasn't really listening. She was examining some goo that sat in a blob on the carpet.

'Its…gooey.' She said.

'Yeah, I think that's from Sirius. You slime people with it.'

'But…it sort of seems alive. You couldn't throw this at people.' She poked it. 'See? Look at the way it wiggles.'

James pulled a face. 'Just don't slime me with it. Save it for special occasions, like a Snape attack.'

Lily looked scandalised. 'I couldn't throw this at Snape!' She picked it up, and it oozed around her fingers. 'It's too cute.'

James stared at her. 'Are you insane?'

She poked her tongue out, lay the goo on the ground, and pulled the wrapping paper off a book.

When all their stuff had been opened, and Lily had gone to her dorm to get changed, they wandered downstairs for breakfast. The Slytherin table had the most people at it, and, to James's disgust, Severus Snape was sitting at the table, eating marmalade toast.

'Great, just great,' he moaned. 'Are you sure you couldn't lend me some of that goo?'

'You are not going to throw Oozles.' She said fiercely, then looked like she wished she hadn't spoken.

'You gave your goo a name?'

'Oh, shut up. But Oozles sounds pretty cool, huh?'

'Do not scare me any more than you already have.'

Later that afternoon, Lily and James were sitting on the steps outside, flicking bits of snow at each other with one hand, and eating lollies they'd bought from Hogsmeade with the other. Neither one could be bothered starting an actual snowball fight, because they were quite contented as they were, and besides, they hadn’t finished their lollies yet.

'You know what I don't understand about you?'

'What?'

'Well, how is it that you do so well in school, but don't actually have any brains?'

James glared at Lily. 'Oh, it's simple. I just copy off you.'

'Gee, thanks. I'm glad I've made life easy for you.' She said dryly, but she was trying to hide a tiny grin.

James got up then, brushing snow off his robes, and he stepped inside into the warmth of the castle. Lily watched him go, sat up suddenly, and ran inside after him.

'James?' She called.

He turned around. 'Yeah?'

'Do you really hate me?'

'Nah…Course I don't.' He continued walking, and Lily stared at his retreating figure, getting very cross with herself.

'What a dumb question.' She muttered to herself. 'Now he's going to think that I don't hate him.'

Do I? A tiny voice inside her head asked. Lily answered herself crossly. 'Of course I do.' She hated the tiny voice inside her head, and threatened to slime it if it didn't shut up.

'This is what I'm coming to,' she moaned. 'Threatening the voice inside my head.' She shook her head in disbelief, and trudged upstairs, sucking on a gobstopper.

When everyone else returned, classes resumed, and both James and Lily forgot their conversation on Christmas Day. Or maybe they chose to forget it. Either way, they didn't speak about it at all, and pretended it didn't happen.

The invisibility cloak, they soon realised, had its limits. It somehow made everything seem much colder, and when you're sneaking around the school in late February at the early hours of the morning, this really isn't very useful.

Lily shivered. 'This is great. Just great.' She checked her watch. 'Oh, even better!' She exclaimed, getting crosser and crosser by the minute. 'The damn thing's stopped.'

'How do you know it's stopped?' James asked, trying to find the loose brick in the wall.

'Do you think it's 3 o'clock in the afternoon?'

'Uh… no, guess not.'

'Do you have the actual time?'

James looked at his own wrist. 'Yeah… It's quarter past five.'

'In the morning?'

'No, in the afternoon,' James answered sarcastically. 'Of course it's in the morning. Hey, you agreed to come.'

Lily snorted.

'You sound like a hippogriff.'

'And why are there people that sound like hippogriffs wandering around at quarter past five in the morning?' A furious voice wanted to know.

The first thought that entered Lily's mind was to run. The second was to kill James. The third was to blame James, and hopefully get him expelled. Run seemed like the best option, but by the time she'd come to this conclusion, Professor McGonagall had ripped the cloak off them, and was dragging them by the arms to her office.

She left them there until it was time for breakfast, because apparently she hadn't had any sleep yet, and besides, they needed time to think about their behaviour.

Lily sat on an old cane chair and stared at door numbly.

'It's not going to open itself, you know.' James muttered, wishing he had a cup of hot chocolate.

'I know that. But anything's better than looking at you.'

After this, they sat silently for about half an hour, and then Lily got sick of waiting patiently, and (only because she was incredibly bored) began to speak to James. 'I bet we get expelled.' She muttered numbly.

'Course we won't get expelled. At least I don't think we will.'

'You don't THINK we will?' Lily exploded, being unable to hold it in any longer. 'You don't THINK?'

She rethought this. 'Well, I know you don't think, but the least you could have done was, like, NOT wake me up at three in the morning, wondering if I wanted to go instead because Sirius was snoring and you couldn't wake up him up…' she trailed off still mumbling about friends snoring, and then fell silent again, her emerald eyes sullen.

'You didn't HAVE to come,' James said grumpily.

'I DIDN'T HAVE TO COME?" Lily shrieked. 'I seem to remember SOMEBODY threatening to tell Snape I'd said something about him if I didn't come.' She looked at him accusingly.

James shrugged. 'It was an empty threat. How was I to know you'd take me seriously?'

Lily was on her feet by now, and was living up to the reputation of red heads having fiery tempers. She advanced slowly on James, breathing deeply.

'I could get EXPELLED because of some empty threat? I might have to spend the rest of my days with a fifteen year-old who is almost as bad as my sister? You have got to be joking!'

'Hey, I might get expelled as well.' He decided to shut up after this comment, because Lily's eyes were flashing dangerously, and he didn't want to provoke her into doing anything too serious. Like blowing him up into a puff of smoke.

They were so busy yelling at each other after this, neither one noticed Sirius and Jo tiptoe in, and stare at them open mouthed from the doorway.

Lily was just going into a speech about how she would make sure she'd find him in the muggle world, even if she couldn’t use magic, when James suddenly leaned forward and kissed her on the lips.

Needless to say, when he pulled away, she was quite shocked.

Lily opened her mouth to say something, then closed it, and opened it again, looking like a fish out of water. Her green eyes stared right into James's dark brown eyes, and she continued mouthing wordlessly, much too shocked by what had happened to actually speak.

Sirius chose this moment to interrupt. 'Uh, James? Lily? If you're quite finished, Professor McGonagall wants to see you.' When neither James nor Lily moved, he added 'now.'

Lily's eyes narrowed. 'If you tell anyone about this,' she warned him 'anyone. I will personally rearrange your face. Get it?'

'As if I'd want to tell anyone,' James muttered, black hair falling over his eyes.

'Good.' She replied, and then left the room, with Jo trotting to catch up.

Sirius grinned cheerfully at James. 'Well, now. That's only taken, what? Six years?'

'I was tired.' James muttered. 'I wasn't thinking clearly.'

'That, Prongs, is obvious.'

The rest of the day was eventful, unless you counted Lily chucking a lizards intestines at Sirius, who was making kissing noises, an event.

That night in the common room, James, Sirius, Remus, Jo, Holly and Lily sat spread out in the armchairs closest to fireplace. James was playing Wizards Chess against Sirius, Lily was helping Holly was Charms, Jo and Remus were having a debate about the moon.

Sirius accidentally let something slip, and let it slip loudly, as well.

'But James… If you kissed Lily, can't you just admit you like her?'

James's eyes narrowed, and Sirius quickly decided it was way past his bedtime, and hurried off to bed, grinning to himself.

'You kissed Lily?' Holly crowed with delight. 'When?'

'Does this mean you two are finally together?' Remus added, and he ducked as Lily's hand whipped through the air towards his head.

'NO!' They both yelled, and stomped off to bed in opposite directions.

Their friends watched them go, and then looked at each other, identical evil grins on their faces.

'When did James kiss her?' Remus said curiously. 'I thought they did at least sort of hate each other.'

'This morning.' Jo said quietly.

'WHAT?'

'Yeah, me and Sirius were there.'

Remus coughed. 'Excuse me?'

'We were there. They were, like, screaming their heads off at each other. And then Lily was yelling at James about something-- I'm not sure what-- and he kissed her.'

'You interrupted?' Holly interrupted with disbelief.

'No.' Jo said, and then she grinned. 'They didn't even know we were there. Anyway, she just sort of stared at him, and then she threatened him not to tell anyone, and then she left.'

'She just- left?'

'Yeah.' Jo shrugged.

'Heeey,' Remus said slowly. 'Lily never said for you not to tell anyone, did she?'

'No,' Jo answered, looking at him curiously. Then she grinned, knowing what was coming. 'But they'd kill us. Literally.'

'Nah. We'll just 'accidentally' talk about it in front of Peeves.'

Holly and Jo stared at Remus, is if seeing him in a new light. 'Remus. And we thought you were a nice boy.' Holly pretended to be stricken, but was laughing in a few seconds.

'Now.' Jo said briskly. 'We have to get a good nights sleep, so we can plan properly tomorrow.'

'What's to plan?' Holly yawned. 'We tell everyone we possibly can that James Potter and Lily Cooper are a couple, and see what happens. That is, if they don't find out what we've done. If they do find out, I'd say we'll be spending an awful lot of time in the hospital wing. ' With that, she climbed sleepily off to bed.

Jo looked at Remus and shrugged. 'She's just panicking,' she reassured him. 'Nothing's going to happen.'

'Well, wouldn't you know. The two lovebirds have finally gotten together.' A familiar unpleasant voice drawled behind Lily.

She coughed. 'Excuse me?'

'I heard about that kiss. How sweet.'

Lily felt herself turn red, just adding to her embarrassment.

'How the hell would you know whether or not we kissed? Not that we did.' She added in a mumble.

'Awww. Keeping it a secret, are we?' He smiled, and his features crinkled, as if not use to this muscle spasm. 'Not any more, Cooper.'

He left, whistling cheerfully, and she stared down at the cornflakes in front of her, sitting peacefully in their milk, just waiting to be eaten. She had a sudden urge to chuck it right at Snape's head.

James himself was sitting at the other end of the Gryffindor table. Snape had already visited him. He looked down at the detention slip next to his late and grinned. It was worth it, seeing the slime ball transforming into an ugly skunk.

Professor McGonagall had not been pleased. Neither had Sirius. Snape had put his new found abilities into practise, and Sirius was forced to go to the school nurse to get something that might make him stop smelling like…skunk.

But James considered Sirius lucky. If he had gotten his hands on him, he might, for example, have been turned into a… something extremely unpleasant, anyway.

He felt his eyes wander down to where Lily was sitting. Her face was quite red, and some Hufflepuff sixth year girls were surrounding her, talking non-stop. James recognised these girls; they were among a group that had followed him tirelessly around in his fifth year. He shuddered at the memory.

A few days later, Lily was sitting in the library, staring blankly at a page. She hadn't taken in one word in the half-hour she'd been sitting there, and was beginning to get bored. But there was no way in the world she was going to leave the library. The Hufflepuffs were probably just waiting to ambush her.

Maybe she should just kiss James for real, so then it would be worth it.

Now where did that thought come from?

She shook her head, and then closed the book she'd been staring at. First she was being terrorised by lovesick girls, and now she was beginning to like him herself. Wait! No she wasn't. She was just…just…thinking?

Lily groaned and put her head in her hands, wondering why James had to kiss her in the first place. He was such an idiot sometimes, even if he was a good kisser. She sighed and placed the book on the shelf.

Wait a minute. Did I just think he was a good?- oh, God. I've lost it.

Eventually, Lily left the library at a run, determined not to speak to the Hufflepuffs again. She was afraid either she would curse them, or they would curse her. It was the latter that worried her the most.

She was so busy trying not to think about James, that she ran into someone going in the opposite direction just as quickly.

'Yikes! I'm so sorry- oh, it's only you.' Her green eyes narrowed at James's brown ones, and she sighed.

'We'd better go, before we're accused of-'

'Ha! Caught in the act!'

'Great', Lily moaned, and James winced. The Hufflepuffs were coming.

'We knew it!' Shrieked Katherine McDowell, a rather skinny girl with dark brown hair. 'We knew it was true!'

'Aren't us Hufflepuffs good enough for you, Potter?' Gertrude Hope sniffled. 'Do you only go for the most beautiful girls?'

Lily felt her face go hot. 'He never- er- went for me,' she snapped furiously. 'We just- kind of- ran into each other.'

'Yeah.' James nodded.

'That's right stick up for up for your girlfriend.' Katherine said.

'She is not my girlfriend!' James said crossly.

'Oh, what is she? Just a fling?' Gertrude sneered.

'We are, and have never been together!' Lily shrieked.

'Yeah, right.' They decided to leave, and walked off, muttering about red heads.

Lily stared after them.

'They need help. I mean, anyone with eyes can see we don't like each other.'

'Precisely.'

'We're just friends. Right?'

'Right.'

'And when you- er- kissed me (Lily blushed) it was an accident. Right?'

'Er…right.'

Lily looked up at him and grinned. 'See? They're all crazy.'

James grinned. 'Of course they are.'

Lily nodded, like she was trying to convince herself. 'They don't know what they're talking about.'

'But I don't exactly hate you. I do kind of like you a bit.'

Lily stared at him, open-mouthed. She shut it promptly, and glared at him. 'You just had to say that, didn't you?'

'Yeah, I did.'

'You think you can have anyone you want, don't you?'

'Now you sound like them. I only want you,' he teased.

Lily stared him. 'You are kidding, aren't you?'

James sighed. 'Caught me.'

Lily breathed a sigh of relief. 'I've got to go.' She looked over her shoulder nervously. 'The Ravenclaw fifth years threatened me with hexes yesterday. I only just escaped.' With that, she walked quickly away, skipping every couple of steps.

James watched her go. 'But I don't exactly not like you, either,' He whispered after her retreating figure.

'I AM NOT JAMES POTTER'S GIRLFRIEND!' Lily yelled for at least the billionth time that day.

Professor McGonagall looked up in surprise. 'We're very pleased to hear that, Miss Cooper. Now if you please, do sit down and finish turning that chair into wart hog.' She went back to marking the papers that she had made some seventh years write on transfiguring toads.

Lily looked at the chair with hatred, and kicked it. It squeaked, and Lily sighed. 'Stupid thing,' she muttered. After a few more waves of her wand, it had a head and was covered with some weird skin.

She continued calling it names, when someone's hand rested on her shoulder.

'Lily? Maybe you should calm down.'

Lily shrugged Jo off. 'For the last three weeks, I haven't been able to walk out of my dorm- I haven't been able to walk around in my dorm- without someone mentioning him!' She pointed at James, who suddenly became fascinated with his wart hog (it had wooden legs).

The bell rang and Jo steered her friend out the door and down the hall. When they were away from their class, she faced Lily, and said 'maybe you should just admit that you like him. It's not going to do any harm. Besides, he does like you. I can tell.'

'Why won't anyone believe me?' Lily wailed. 'And anyway, since when were you such an expert?'

Jo pulled a face. 'Just admit it. Anyway-' she grinned cheekily- 'I think you make a cute couple.'

She skipped away before Lily could do something to her, and Lily stared after her, clenching her fists tightly in her pockets.

Spring was Lily's favourite season. She sat on a bench outside one Saturday in early April, watching the sun set slowly in the East, and she wondered why it never went properly black at nighttime. There was always a little bit of colour, whether it was from the stars or the clouds lit by street lamps.

When the last trace of gold had dipped behind the trees, she hugged her knees up against her chest, because the night air was chilly. But she didn't want to go inside. It was much nicer out here, without anyone talking to her or about her, to her face or behind her back. It was never mean talk or anything, but it got so tiring not even being able to talk to James without someone making kissing noises.

She was just pondering over this, when a warm hand wrapped her icy one in theirs.

'You're freezing. Come inside or you'll turn into an icy-pole.' James was teasing her.

'I'm not cold.' Lily punctuated this sentence with a sneeze.

'No, of course you're not.' He answered sarcastically. 'Just a bit chilly. Look, you'll make yourself sick if you don't come in soon.'

She didn't move.

'I'll carry you in if you don't come.'

Lily considered her options. She could walk inside with James, or get carried inside by James.

She was just deciding to walk, when James lit a fire with his wand and placed it in front of them. Apart from being very small, and very hot, it was very green.

'James?' She asked timidly. 'Why is that thing green?'

'Dunno. Just is, I guess.' He caught a glimpse of her face in the firelight. 'It won't hurt you,' he laughed.

She glared at him, but didn't appear very threatening as she was shivering.

'You really are going to get sick. Don't be stupid Lily, come inside.'

She just shrugged, and James sighed in exasperation. 'Lily! Do you want to get the flu?'

'Maybe I do. Then I could just die and not have to put up with stuff like this.'

James stared at her. 'You don't mean that, Lily. Don't say things like that.'

Lily sighed. 'Okay, I don't want to get the flu. But I won't go inside either.'

'Well. Looks like we'll be out here for awhile.'

'Pardon?'

'I'm not leaving you out here by yourself.'

'Gee. Thanks.'

'Anyway…While we're out here there's some stuff I want to say.'

'Do you have your wand?'

'What does that have to do with anything?'

'Nothing at all…I'm just stalling for time.'

'Do you want to hear this or not?'

'No?'

James glared at her. 'Look. When we were in our first year I hated you. I thought you were the worst thing there could possibly be besides cabbage. You were my worst enemy, and personally, that was fine. Then, in our second year you were still a pain, and it was fun to tease you and stuff.'

'This isn't supposed to be romantic, is it? Because it's not' Lily interrupted, wrapping her arms around herself.

'Shut up and listen. In our third year, you were…I dunno. Different, I guess. But I didn't hate you as much any more. But you still hated me, so I just kept teasing you and stuff. After that I kind of liked you more-'

'I'll bet Sirius is standing over there under the invisibility cloak, taping this whole thing.'

'He's not.'

'How would you know?'

'It's in my pocket.'

'Oh...Sirius or the cloak?'

'The cloak. Can I continue?'

'Of course you can.'

'You promise not to interrupt?'

'I promise not to interrupt.'

'Good.'

'Not much, anyway.'

James pulled a face. 'Okay. I quit. You do not get to hear any more.'

'Awww. I apologise. I won't interrupt again.'

'You promise?'

'Yes. Hurry up. I'm cold.'

James grinned. 'So…I guess I haven't really hated you for ages. Well, sometimes I still thought you were the worst thing since cabbage, but that hasn't been for awhile. And when I kissed you-' Lily blushed- 'it was one of the smartest things I've ever done. Besides getting those fire-crackers under Snape's bed.' He added.

Lily stared at him. 'Did you rehearse that?'

'No. If I'd rehearsed it I wouldn't have sounded so damn stupid.'

'Nah. You didn't sound stupid. You almost looked cute, in fact.'

'I'll take that as a compliment.'

Lily shrugged. 'Take it how you want. I'll always remember you declared your undying love for me in the freezing cold.'

'Er… Lets stick with like for now. Undying like.'

She grinned. 'Okay. That way I can still slime you with Oozles Jr.'

'Did I just hear you say Oozles Jr? Please tell me I didn't.'

'You did. I figured out how to duplicate him, so now I have this whole boxful of slime.'

'Great. I'm feeling much better now.'

Lily shivered. 'Can we go in? I'm cold.'

'Yeah… Why didn't I think of that?' Before Lily could come up with a comeback, he'd lifted her off her feet and was carrying her across the wet grass.

'LET ME GO, POTTER!'

He dropped her, and she looked up at him, her emerald eyes flashing. 'I can still slime you.'

'You'd never slime me. He knelt down and kissed her on the nose, then raced off, laughing.

Lily raced after him. 'I'm going to get you for that! Come here! Why you little-'

James leapt out of the shadows and pulled her close to him, and kissed her gently on the lips.

Lily glared at him. 'You do realise I will never forgive you for this?'

'What are you going to do?' James teased.

'Kiss me again and I'll think about it.'

Lily walked into her dorm that night, gazing straight ahead. Jo, Holly and Lianne stared at her.

'Lily?' Holly waved her hand across her face. ''We've lost her. She's off in la la land.'

'I'm not…I was just…thinking.'

'So, where've you been?' Jo asked, snuggling down under her blankets.

'Somewhere?'

Jo sat up. 'Oh? Where would that be?'

'Outside?'

Jo grinned. 'I don't suppose you know where Mr. Potter might have been then?'

'Uh…No…' Lily turned pink.

Jo glared at her.

'Outside?' Lily said, then ducked under her blankets when Jo threw a pillow at her head.

There was a Quidditch match on that Saturday, and as Gryffindor scored another goal- that put them in the lead by 40 points- Lily decided to join Sirius in the commentating box.

'Hello,' she said, her eyes on the game. Sirius nodded to her, as he couldn't talk since he was yelling into his microphone.

James had a habit of catching the Snitch in the most dangerous way possible. (when he tried to explain this to Lily, she said he was just showing off)

When the Snitch was firmly enclosed in his hand, and Sirius had leapt about for awhile, hugging Lily, they made their way down the staircase, talking excitedly about the game.

James was pushing his way through the crowd, and he winced when he saw a large group of Hufflepuffs approaching. Lily and Sirius noticed them at the same time, grabbed James, and pulled him away.

'Thanks,' he gasped. 'They were looking particularly murderous today.'

Lily grinned. 'Awww. They're probably hunting you right now.'

James winced. 'Yuck.'

'So, my dear Prongs.' Sirius draped his arm around his best friends' shoulder. 'Will you join me in a game of chess?'

'Of course, Padfoot.' He grinned, and rolled his eyes at Lily over Sirius's shoulder. The three of them walked back to the castle arm in arm, Sirius singing loudly. Some people passing them stared at the threesome, maybe because Sirius looked as though he was drunk, and Lily and James were laughing so hard they couldn't walk straight.

A few weeks later, Sirius bounced into the common room looking extremely pleased with himself. Remus wasn't there, and Peter was in the infirmary because he had somehow managed to explode his cauldron.

Lily and James were arguing at each other over a game of chess, continually being told off by seventh years that were studying for their N.E.W.T.s for being to loud.

Sirius skipped over to them, grinning like a madman. 'Hello,' he said, pulling out a stool to sit on. 'I was going to tell you something, but as you appear to be occupied-'

'Just tell us, Sirius.' Lily interrupted.

'Well…Let's just say we might not have to deal with Snape any more.' If possible, his smile broadened.

Lily wasn't paying much attention, because she was concentrating on the game and trying to keep her chessmen quiet. They had a horrible habit of screaming at James's pieces, and knocking them out before they were supposed to.

'Oh?' She said distractedly. 'Is he going to get expelled? Serves the slimy git right.' She punctuated this by capturing one of James's knights.

James, however, looked at Sirius suspiciously. 'What have you done?'

'Nothing,' Sirius answered loftily. 'I'll leave you two alone.' He added the last part in a whisper.

'Why?' Lily asked. Then she rolled her eyes. 'Yeah, Sirius, this chess game is just so romantic, it just makes me want to throw myself at James.'

Sirius shrugged. 'We all have our problems.'

'Padfoot, sit down and stop being an idiot. Can't you tell sarcasm when you hear it?'

'Yeah, I wouldn't throw myself at James if you paid me.' Lily glared at James then, because he'd taken her Queen.

'Why ever not? I could name at least ten others who'd be more than willing.'

James grimaced.

'Of course I wouldn't throw myself at James,' Lily muttered. '…I might hurt him.'

Sirius snorted with laughter. 'Poor, weak, Prongs.' Lily ducked under the table to avoid the pillow James had thrown at her, and then she yawned.

'Well. Let's just say I've won this game.' Before James could object, she had tipped her chess pieces into a box, and was walking over to the girl's staircase, calling goodnight to them over her shoulder.

'Sirius?' James asked halfway through a game of exploding snap.

'Yeah?'

'What have you done?'

'Well.' Sirius put on a mysterious air. 'You know how Snape can be real nosy sometimes?'

'Yes.'

'And, you know how-' he lowered his voice '-he's been trying to figure out why Moony is always gone at the full moon?'

James didn't like where this conversation was going. 'Yeah?'

'Well. I told him that if he was so eager to know, why doesn't he press the knot in the trunk of the Whomping Willow?'

James stared at his seemingly insane and mentally unstable best friend. 'You didn't!'

'Why? What's the worst that can happen?'

'Padfoot, you are so dim sometimes. Remus'll get expelled if he bites Snape. And Snape'll either become a werewolf or he'll die. We can't just let him go there!'

'Why ever not?'

James didn't answer him. He started up the girl's staircase. 'Uh, James?' Sirius called.

'What?'

'That's not the right staircase.'

'I know that, twit. I lent Lily the cloak.' He raced up the staircase, and appeared a few moments later, tucking the cloak into his pocket.

'Where are you going?' Sirius asked. He was immediately echoed by a very sleepy Lily.

'Out.' James said shortly. Lily and Sirius stared after him.

'Do you know where he's going?' Lily asked him, rubbing her eyes.

'Yeah. I've got to go.' He climbed out the portrait hole, leaving a very confused Lily standing by herself.

'Hmph.' She pulled a face. 'They never tell me anything.' She muttered, stomping back upstairs.

Sirius raced along the corridors, not even stopping to apologise to Professor McGonagall when he bumped into her.

He was just skidding into the hall where the entrance to Professor Dumbledores study was, when he ran into the Professor himself.

'Professor--- Dumbledore.' He panted, clutching his side. 'James went after Snape--- they'll die--- you've got--- to help them.' He looked furious with himself. Dumbledore didn't smile, but he patted Sirius on the shoulder and then dashed along the long hallways, taking short cuts no one else even knew existed. Except the four Marauders, perhaps.

He was just running out into the moonlight when he saw two fairly tall figures emerging from the Whomping Willow, the taller of the two pulling the other along.

He rushed over to them. 'Mr Potter?'

'Yeah?' James sounded shaky.

'Is Mr Snape alright?'

'Yeah. He's okay.' Snape proved this by falling backwards in a dead faint. Professor Dumbledore conjured up a stretcher and it glided along besides them as they made their way up to the hospital wing, Professor Dumbledore questioning James all the way. He explained how Sirius had told Severus everything, how he'd chased his enemy along the tunnel, and pulled him back before they'd come face to face with a werewolf.

'How did Severus come to know about the tunnel?' Professor Dumbledore sounded very serious all of a sudden.

James sighed. 'Sirius told him. I think they were having an argument or something. Snape- Severus wanted to know where Remus goes every full moon. So Sirius said that if he really wanted to find out, there's knot on the trunk of the Whomping Willow. It was stupid, I know. But he won't be expelled, will he?' James sounded anxious.

'No, Mr Black will not be expelled. But he must realise the seriousness of his actions.' He paused. 'That was a very brave thing you did today. Not many would have done it.'

James shrugged. 'I couldn't let Remus get expelled. And even though he's a- er- well, we're not exactly fond of each other.' He gestured at Snape, who was snoring softly.

The Headmaster laughed gently. 'Yes, I know.'

'Anyway, I couldn't let him die. Umm- can I go now? It's just I don't want to be around when Snape- Severus wakes up. He might be feeling a bit nasty.'

'Yes, yes. But before you go, does anyone else know about Remus's--er-- condition?'

'Well… I do…And Sirius. And Peter. You know, Pettigrew. I'm not sure about Lily. I think she might guess, but we haven't told her anything.'

'Why is that?' Professor Dumbledore asked gently.

'Umm… We didn't think Remus would want her to know. He likes her and everything, and…I don't think that she wouldn't like him any more… he doesn't want everyone to know, I guess. I don't want to break my promise'

The Professor nodded, smiling. 'You'd better go to bed. Please tell Mr Black I'd like to see him in the morning before breakfast.' James nodded.

He turned to leave, but looked back over his shoulder. 'Professor?'

'Yes James?'

'Er…Snape won't tell anyone about Remus, will he?'

'No. I will make sure Mr. Snape does not tell a soul. I will talk to Mr Lupin as well.'

'Thanks.' He smiled and left the room slowly.

'James?' Dumbledore called out as the boy reached the door.

'What?'

'Thankyou for going after him.'

'You would've done the same thing.' He left.

The next morning, Sirius left early to go to the Headmasters office, looking gloomier than Lily had ever seen him. 'He looks like someone's died,' she commented. 'No one has died, have they?'

James shook his head. 'Nah. I think he's played one too many tricks on Snape, for once.'

'What? Is he in trouble?'

'You could say that.' James became very interested with his owl.

'James.' Lily pulled a face. 'Why won't you tell me?'

'He-- just played a stupid trick on Snape, that's all.'

'Whatever.' She shrugged, seeing that James wasn't going to tell her. 'You owe me a butterbeer.'

'Since when?'

'Since now. I've decided.'

'Okay. I'll buy you a butterbeer if you pay for it.'

'You wish, Potter.'

They walked out the common room together, playfully tugging at each other's hair.

Sirius reappeared after breakfast, looking extremely sad. 'Detention. Every night after school for three weeks.' He sighed, then perked up slightly. 'But you got 50 points for Gryffindor, Prongs.'

James shrugged, and Lily looked more annoyed every second. 'What did you do? Tell me!'

Sirius glanced apologetically at her. 'Look, Lily. We can't tell anyone. Dumbledore made us promise. But you'd be the first one that we'd tell if we could.' James nodded in agreement.

'Yeah. We're really sorry, Lil'.'

'S'okay.' She grinned. 'Now you owe me two butterbeers.'

'No way. I'm not even paying for the first one.'

'Oh, aren't you?'

'Ooh, James. You're in for it now.'

'Shut up, Sirius.'

'Well. I'm going to have my lunch.' She stomped off.

'Prongs?'

'Yeah?'

'You still not gonna buy that drink for her?'

''Course I'm not.'

Sirius shook his head sadly.

They walked into the Great Hall, talking about Quidditch. They spotted Lily sitting by herself at one end of the table, shovelling down her lunch like there was no tomorrow.

'Er, Lily?' Sirius asked, sitting down across from her.

'What?' She said through a mouthful of apple crumble.

'We know you want that butterbeer, but don't you think this is a bit drastic?'

She choked on the apple crumble. When she'd had a drink and had coughed half the pie up all over James' robes, she sat still for a moment, breathing deeply.

Finally, she spoke. 'I just have to do something.' She grinned apologetically at James, glancing at his robes. 'I guess I can let you off that butterbeer. But, uh, you will wash your clothes won't you?'

'Thanks for that piece of advice, Lily. What would I do without you?'

'Fail Charms.' She pushed back her plate and hurried out.

'Well.' Sirius looked at James. 'You're not that bad at Charms.'

That weekend, James, Sirius, Remus and Lily wandered around Hogsmeade, stocking up on tricks from Zonko's and sitting in the Three Broomsticks, discussing what to do with their new supply. High on the list was get Snape, but they had also bought a lot of stuff that Lily didn't have a clue what to do with.

With the end of term approaching, Lily and Remus were busy studying for the end of year exams. James and Sirius, however, had much bigger things on their minds.

'Like what?' Lily wanted to know when they mentioned this. Remus snorted into his book.

'Wouldn't you like to know,' James said with a grin.

'Yeah, I would like to know.' She glared at him.

'Er, well…Ask Sirius.'

Sirius grinned mischievously. 'Sweet Lily,' he began.

She narrowed her eyes.

'Okay. Terrifying Lily.'

'Sirius, you are getting this close-' she held up her hand '-to getting cursed.'

'Okay, okay. We're just planning…revenge, I suppose you could call it.'

'On?'

'Lily. My dear Lily. Who do you think?'

'Snape. But what are you going to do?'

'Now, that's a trade secret.'

Lily turned to James. 'Will you tell me?'

'Umm…' He glanced at Sirius. 'Sorry, Lily.'

'Okay, okay. I give up. But I still say you should study.'

They weren't even listening to her.

The end of year exams were never as bad as everyone expected. Well, they were sometimes, but James and his gang were so clever they hardly noticed a change in routine.

The five of them sat on Hogwarts Express, testing out some of the new products from Zonkos. The time flew by quickly, all to soon the train was pulling up at Kings Cross, and they had to pull their trunks off the train, and get out of the barrier.

Sirius was avoiding his younger cousin, who was visiting, and he hid behind James trunk, curled up in a ball.

Lily didn't have to avoid her cousins, as no one had turned up to pick her up yet. Soon James, Remus and Sirius had all left (Sirius quite dejectedly) and she was left standing all alone, being pushed from side to side by muggles who only cared about catching their trains.

It started to rain.

When her aunt finally pulled up in her old van, Lily was soaking, her long hair hanging down her back in strands.

'I'm so sorry, dear,' she apologised endlessly, and only became quiet when she realised Lily wasn't listening.

At a red light, she turned around to look at her youngest niece and saw a silver tear trickle down her cheek.

'Lily?'

No answer.

'Lily, dear? Are you okay?'

'Fine. I'm fine.' She forced a smile, then went back to staring out the window.

I wish mum was here.