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The Flower and the Stag

Part 7b

Lily was trying to tiptoe. Not that she really needed to, as from past experience she knew James was as deaf as a bat when Quidditch was the topic of discussion. Sirius saw her approaching, saw what she was going to do, and grinned. Lily tried not to laugh.

Then she pounced.

A few moments later, she discovered that it really is not a good idea to pounce on someone when they are standing on a trolley. Not that she knew this at the time. If she'd known, she probably wouldn't have done it. But she did.

'AAAAAAAAA!' People scattered in the opposite direction, shrieking as an out of control trolley threatened to collide with them.

A few minutes later, it was rolling along the ground slowly.

James turned around to look at Lily. 'That really wasn't the smartest thing you've ever done,' he said, grinning. Lily stared at him. How could he grin at a time like this? But then, he enjoyed going for broomstick rides up in the clouds. He was a bit insane.

'I noticed,' she said dryly, checking to make sure all her body parts were present.

'Would you like to ride back?'

She thought about slapping him. She thought about pushing him down another hill. One with big, thorny bushes. In the end, she settled for ignoring him, and walked off, trying to ignore the angry looks people she had almost run into were throwing at her.

James (being the athletic thing he was) chased her, and they walked back over to where their friends were standing, and (still) laughing.

'Very clever, Lil. You almost killed the Head Boy.'

'What? He's Head Boy?'

'I was shocked too,' Sirius reassured her. 'But, for some reason, Dumbledore actually thinks he's got some brains in his head.' He shook his head sadly.

Lily stared at him, then at James.

'What? I didn't ask to be Head Boy.'

Lily got on the train in a daze, and when the others found her, she had her head in her hands.

She was mumbling to herself, and Sirius and James, who were standing in the doorway, exchanged glances.

'What's wrong? Is one of the Hufflepuffs Head Girl or something?' James seemed to voicing something that had been bothering him.

Lily looked up, her eyes wide. 'No… I am.'

Sirius started to laugh, until he was silenced by a look from Lily.

'Are you? Well, that's okay then. I was worried it would be some Hufflepuff, like Katherine McDowell, who'd probably try to seduce me in the library.' James stuck out his tongue, pulling a horrible face.

'But it is bad!' Lily wailed, shaking her head.

Both Sirius and James looked confused. 'Do you mind us asking why?'

Lily sniffed. 'It's just- just-' she stopped. 'I don't suppose it's that bad after all,' she said finally.

'You are weird,' Sirius said, shaking his head. James just shrugged.

'You can talk,' Lily said, grinning slightly. 'You're the one who made a motorbike that can fly. And you say I'm unbalanced.'

James sat down, and Sirius followed him. 'Oh, Lily.' Sirius checked to make sure no one was coming.

'Mmm?'

'Well, do you know when Jo's birthday is?'

'Yeah,' Lily said absently. 'I think it's sometime in April. I'll ask her, if you want.'

'Okay.' Sirius sounded relieved.

Then they played eye-spy until Holly, Jo and Remus and came in, all of them grinning.

'What?' James asked suspiciously.

'Well…' Remus trailed off, laughing.

'What?' Lily repeated.

'Nothing,' Jo said, nudging Holly in the ribs, which just made her laugh harder.

'Fine, don't tell us. Sit down.'

Later that night, the seventh years sat in the common room, talking about the NEWTS. James and Sirius weren't even the slightest bit worried about them, Holly and Peter was in a panic, Jo wasn't really worried (her theory was study the night before, if you don't know it, write notes on your hands)

Lily was only worried about transfiguration (she still couldn't get a toad to turn into a television) and Remus had other things on his mind. That was how he put it to the others, anyway.

Everyone drifted off to bed, until Lily and James were the only ones left in the common room. They were talking about Snape, and various ways of revenge, when James said "are you ticklish?'

Lily mumbled something incoherently. James grinned evilly.

'Well? Are you?'

'If I say no, will you still tickle me?'

'Yes.'

'If I say yes, will you still tickle me?'

'Yes.'

Lily thought about it for a moment. 'Maybe I am, maybe I'm not.'

'Well then, we'll just have to find out.'

Lily shrieked and jumped behind the chair. James chased her around the room, laughing all the while, until Lily tripped and landed face down on a particularly large armchair. She tried to scramble up, but James was too quick, and pinned her down.

The next few moments were a blur. They included Lily giggling hysterically, as (obviously) she was extremely ticklish. When James finally stopped torturing her, and they could both breathe save laughing, they lay back on the chair, looking at the ceiling.

'James?'

No answer.

'James?'

Still no answer. Lily looked down at him. He was asleep, his glasses falling off the side of his face. Lily raised her arm to straighten them, and found (to her absolute horror) he was on her arm.

'Great,' she moaned, not bothering to be quiet, as she definitely did not care if she woke him up.

The first thought that entered James's mind the next morning was 'pillows don't move.' But his pillow was. Up and down, up and down. How strange. He put his hand up to touch the pillow, and was promptly slapped.

'Pillows don't have arms,' he muttered blearily, trying to find his glasses.

'You really aren’t a morning person, are you?' The pillow said dryly.

James found his glasses wedged between two cushions and blinked. Lily was glaring at him, a smile tugging at the corners of her mouth.

'Not exactly. Did you have to slap me? I thought you were a pillow.'

'I figured.'

James got up, running his fingers through his black hair, trying to get it to sit down flat. Lily watched him, grinning.

'You going to get up?' James muttered, his finger caught on a knot.

'No. Thanks to a certain somebody, I now have a dead arm. And apart from that, I'm not sure I want to get up with someone who thinks I'm a pillow.'

James shrugged. 'You do make a good pillow, though.'

'Gee, thanks. I'm honoured.' Lily glanced at the clock and groaned. 'I barely got two hours of sleep last night,' she moaned, rubbing her eyes.

'I slept like a log.'

Lily glared at him. 'You really need to get something done about that habit of yours.'

'What habit?'

'You still talk in your sleep. How can you not know this?'

'That's why it's called talking in your sleep. You're asleep while you talk.' James said crossly, evidently not very happy with this subject.

'You talk about some very strange things,' Lily said, stretching as she got up slowly.

'Such as?'

Lily yawned. 'Well. You seem to have a thing about Hippogriffs.'

'Pardon?'

'You're always talking about them. And then there's stars. You kept telling me -or someone else- that the brightest star is Sirius. And that you've been to the Milky Way. Crazy, crazy things you say.'

James pulled a face. 'It's my sub-conscious mind. I can't help it if it's crazy.'

'Well, maybe it's a good thing,' Lily said, heading for the portrait hole.

'Why's that?'

'If you're conscious mind was as crazy as your sub-conscious mind, we'd all be in a lot of trouble, wouldn't we?'

'I guess we would.'

The first week of school was very anti-climax, and by the end of it, Sirius was extremely fed up.

'This is pathetic!' He exclaimed, pacing in front of his fellow Gryffindors, who were studying, playing chess, and (in Lily's case) trying to find out if James was ticklish or not. So far it was not, but she hadn't been able to reach his stomach yet, as he kept tickling her whenever she got close enough.

'What is?' Jo asked, looking up from her astronomy homework. 'And is that where Pluto's supposed to go?'

'What?' Sirius said distractedly. Jo held up her diagram. 'Yeah- see?'

'What?' Lily said, giving up. 'I don't see anything.'

Sirius threw up his hands. 'We have not pulled one prank this year! One! Our reputation is going down the drain!'

'Sirius?'

'Mmm?'

'You do realise it's only the first week back?' Lily was grinning.

Holly snickered.

'Of course I realise that. But we've only got one year left, we have to make sure they remember us!'

'Don't worry. I'm sure Filch will hold a party just for you…After you leave.'

'And how could dear Professor Binns ever forget the time we- er- damaged his glasses?'

Lily snorted. 'I'm not sure he noticed. He only realised he could read the paper any more.'

Sirius was getting bored with this conversation. 'Prongs?' James looked up. 'Will you join me in doing something highly illegal that will probably result in weeks of detentions?'

James shrugged. 'Sure.' As if detention was an ordinary event, which, Lily supposed, it was.

'You're Head Boy!' She scolded him. 'You're supposed to set an example!'

Sirius snorted. 'You can talk. Who was it that blew up a certain Slytherins cauldron on the first day back?'

'He deserved it,' Lily shot back at him.

'James? Shall we go and cause havoc? I was thinking we could maybe paint Mrs Norris.'

'Yeah!' James said happily, getting a bit more excited. 'With that sparkle stuff. She'd look like a Christmas cat!' Both boys found this hysterical, and had to sit down before they fell.

Lily shook her head in mock disgust.

'You coming?' James asked her once he'd calmed down a bit.

'Of course I am. Someone has to make sure you don't kill the cat in the process.'

'Why? Would anyone miss her? They'd probably thank us.'

'Don't get any ideas into your little head.'

The three of them dawdled out, teasing each other harmlessly, occasionally shooting sparks at whoever the offender was.

'Little head? Me?'

As they didn't have the invisibility cloak, they had to keep in the shadows, which wasn't all that difficult. Although it was hard to fit two boys and a girl into one shadow, especially if it was a small one.

A few minutes away from the common room, they heard footsteps approaching rapidly, and Lily and James leapt up against a wall. Sirius stayed put.

'What are you doing?' James hissed, trying to tug his best friend away from view.

'Well, we're here to get detentions, so we might as well get detentions and have it over with.'

'We're supposed to pull pranks,' James whispered angrily, still holding onto Sirius's sleeve. 'Not stand in the corridor waiting to get caught. That's what happens to first years. That is just degrading.'

'Okay, okay.'

They watched Professor McGonagall hurry past, sharp eyes only just missing the three figures hidden behind a suit of armour.

'So.' Lily said after she'd gone. 'What do we do now?'

'Cause mischief!' Sirius said evilly, rubbing his hands together with glee.

Lily rolled her eyes. 'Doing what, genius?'

'We have to find Mrs Norris. Where d'you think she is?'

'Probably somewhere in the castle.'

'Great help you are. Peter would be more useful than you.'

'Oh really?'

'No. I was kidding.'

'Good.'

James looked thoughtful, and he whispered something to Sirius, with Lily trying to listen in on the side.

'Yeah!' Sirius's eyes lit up. 'I'll just go get it.'

He raced away silently, taking the stairs three at a time.

When he reappeared a few moments later, Lily had fallen asleep against the wall, and was mumbling to herself. James grinned. 'And she says I talk in my sleep.'

Sirius handed James a piece of parchment, which he inspected closely.

'She's in the trophy room!'

'Ah, good. Do you have the paint?'

'Yup.'

Sirius looked down at Lily. 'Should we leave her here?'

'We could. But that would be just too mean.' James shook her shoulder gently. 'Lily!' He whispered in her ear. 'Time to get up!'

'No! Don't! Please, please…' she woke up looking pale.

'Are you okay?' James looked concerned, and he helped her up. She leaned against the wall.

'Lil?' Even Sirius looked worried, but he tried to make a joke out of it. 'I know James is scary, but that's going a bit far…'

Lily just looked at the ground and said nothing for a moment. 'Are we going to get Mrs Norris?'

The boys exchanged a glance. 'Course we are…' James checked the piece of parchment. 'In fact…she's heading this way right now!'

Lily stared at him. 'How the hell would you know that? You've always been terrible at Divination.' She leaned over to look at the parchment. 'Wow. How did you- when-'

'Lily, Lily, Lily.' Sirius said, shaking his head. 'We do have brains, you know.'

'Not that you'd notice,' she muttered. 'Look. You signed it with your names! If a teacher picks it up-'

'You underestimate us, deary.' Lily glared at Sirius, but he ignored her. 'Look.' He picked up his wand.

'Mischief managed!' He said quietly, and the parchment became blank.

'How do you get it to come up again?' Lily asked curiously. This was one of the boys' better inventions.

'You try it,' James said with a grin.

'Revealio!' she said, tapping the parchment lightly with her wand.

Nothing happened for a moment, and the disappointment on James and Sirius's faces was evident. A few moments later, they had turned to delight, and Lily was furious.

When she had finally given up (and the parchment had run out of insults) she turned to James.

'Can't you just do it?'

'Course I can.' He stepped forward. 'I solemnly swear I am up to no good.'

'Yes, I know that- wow. That's cool.'

'We know.' Sirius looked extremely pleased with himself.

'So it shows everyone?'

'Yup. Absolutely everyone.'

'Let me see.' Lily held the map up close to her face. 'Hey- but- there are passages I've never seen before- there isn't one near here- is there?'

'There is. We know it well. And Mrs Norris is approaching. Quick!' James pushed Lily and Sirius into an empty classroom.

'Okay,' Sirius whispered. 'We need to sort of leap up behind her. Lily- you can hold her down. James, you and me will tip the stuff all over her. Got it?'

'Can't I do some of the tipping?' Lily said, looking at her hands. 'Who knows where that grimy old cat's been?'

James shuddered. "I don't think I want to know.'

Sirius looked at the map. 'One, two, three- NOW!'

All three of them jumped out the door (and got a bit stuck) but when they'd sorted themselves out, Lily grabbed Mrs Norris gingerly by her stomach, and James and Sirius gleefully tipped the paint over her, watching it trickle and sparkle in the moonlight.

They heard a loud shout.

'RUN!' Sirius yelled. James dropped the paint, Lily dropped the cat, and they raced along the corridor, taking short cuts at every possible place. That could have been how they somehow ended up- somewhere.

Lily clutched her side, breathing deeply. 'Where are we exactly?'

Sirius felt in his pocket. 'Uh oh.'

'What?' James and Lily said in unison.

'I…Don't suppose you have the map?'

'YOU LOST THE MAP?'

Sirius squeaked and backed up against the wall. 'Maybe.'

James sat down on the floor, sighing.

'Maybe we could wait 'til it gets light and then find our way back to the common room. Then we can sleep.'

'It's Monday.' Lily pointed out.

'As I said, we could get some sleep.'

Lily rolled her eyes and slid down the wall, settling next to James.

'And now.' She said grinning. 'It's your turn to be a pillow.' She lay against her shoulder and promptly fell asleep.

Sirius raised his eyebrows at James. 'Is there something I've missed?'

'No. Nothing at all.'

The first rays of sunlight that fell upon the room revealed several boxes. All of them large, unopened, and -in very big writing- PRIVATE. Do not open. And on the other side, fragile.

'Oooh.' Sirius said, rubbing his eyes, trying to get them accustomed to the light.

'Sirius,' Lily warned, sounding as dangerous as one possibly can at six in the morning.

'What?' He said, sounding innocent.

'You aren't thinking about opening them, are you by any chance?'

'Moi? No.' He stepped over to the boxes.

Lily groaned. 'There could be something dangerous in there. You could get killed. Not that I care or anything.' Sirius raised his eyebrows at her, pretending to look hurt. 'Well, maybe I would care a bit. And James and Jo would be devastated.'

'Yeah, and you'd have to comfort James,' Sirius said with a wicked glint in his eyes.

'Oh, just open the darn boxes.'

'I thought you said there might be something dangerous in them.'

'I have decided that if you get eaten, I won't care.'

'Fine.' Sirius pried open a lid, and then stared at its contents.

'Wow.' James said, stepping over.

Lily's eyes widened. 'Sirius?' She said weakly. 'I don't think we were supposed to find this.'

'Me neither.' He whispered, sounding most unlike the Sirius they knew.