Five Minutes

Chapter 23

Disclaimer; I don't own the wizarding world of Harry Potter or any of the characters in it. I wish I did. But I don't.

Hello reader!

Here's chapter Twenty-Three!

Hope you enjoy it!

Chapter Twenty-Three

The next day was Valentine's day. Throughout the whole of breakfast, owls were fluttering here and there delivering secret love notes, cards and chocolates. Many people had to keep ducking to avoid the low swooping owls as they dropped off post and packages to various students. The beating of wings was almost as loud as the squeals and cheers of delight as girls and boys alike opened gifts from boyfriends, girlfriends, secret admirers and for some of the shyer first and second years, their parents.

James, Sirius, Remus and Peter were sat in the middle of the Gryffindor table where a flurry of multi-coloured birds surrounded them. James was ignoring them and reading the Daily Prophet which was the only piece of mail delivered to him which wasn't a valentine's note. Remus was making notes from a text book, doing some revision for a Care of Magical Creatures test which his class was being given on the coming Wednesday. Peter was peering over his shoulder, wondering what he was doing. And Sirius was staring at James reading the paper.

James glanced over to Sirius aware of his gaze on him. He slightly shook his head and returned to the Daily Prophet. He turned the page and started reading an article on the recent Quidditch game between Puddlemere United and the Wimbourne Wasps. He was half way through the article on the nail biting game, when Sirius' intense stare, burning into the side of his head, became too annoying to ignore anymore. James put down the paper and looked at Sirius who raised his eyebrows as an indication. Sighing, James sat up straight, shook his head with a small but wonky smile, and began counting out the mound of cards and notes in front of him into three separate piles.

Sirius was now bounding up and down in his seat, unable to contain himself. He had suddenly transformed into a hyper-active child, though the difference wasn't that great from his normal self. When James had finished counting the last card, Sirius couldn't wait to find the result and quickly blurted out, 'What's the total?'

'Forty-two for me. Forty-one for you.' James said with a smirk.

'Man!' Sirius said, his body visibly deflating, 'That's the closest it's ever been! Why do I always lose?'. He slumped even further down in his seat, grabbed a heart shaped crumpet and began to chew on it slowly.

'Because Prongs is much nicer than you.' Remus said, not looking up from his notes.

'But I'm more gorgeouser than him!' Sirius exclaimed, food spraying bits of crumpet across the table and onto Remus' text book.

'Gorgeouser isn't a word Padfoot.' Remus sighed exasperatedly, brushing the crumbs away from his work, 'And I don't know why you have to turn this into a competition every year!'

'Only cause you don't get as many as me!' Sirius said, boastfully, swinging his legs out from behind the Gryffindor table and picking up his pile of valentines.

'I highly doubt that's the reason, Padfoot.' James replied to Sirius with a laugh. He copied Sirius and swung his legs out from behind the table, gathered up his valentines and stood up before continuing, 'Not everyone takes pride in how many girls he's stringing along at once.'

'You can't talk!' Sirius said, 'You got more than me!'

'By one!' James retorted, as they, plus Peter and Remus who were walking down the other side of the Gryffindor table, strolled down to the end of the great hall and exited it. They all met at the entrance hall and turned right to climb a flight of stairs on their way to their charms lesson.

'And he didn't have to go through the trouble of personally charming them all individually.' Remus said, continuing their conversation.

'Hey!' Sirius said, stopping in the middle of the staircase, causing a small traffic jam, and pointing a finger at Remus' face, 'I do that out of the kindness of my heart!'

'Those poor girls.' Remus said sarcastically shaking his head. He pushed Sirius forward up the stairs and the crowd which had formed behind them was once again able to move.

'Hey!' Sirius repeated, this time pointing a finger over his shoulder, (he was unable to stop as Remus was guiding him up the stairs by pushing his back), 'It seems to have worked! I have forty-one valentines!'

'And James has forty-two without even trying.' Remus replied.

James laughed. Remus and Sirius' little debates were always humorous to watch and listen too. Sirius had the enthusiasm to take the argument further but in the end, Remus had the knowledge and tact to win the argument. It was always fun to see Sirius try and win. At this moment though, he had realised that he had lost.

Sirius stared at Remus with narrowed eyes. 'You got twenty-eight this year.' Sirius said changing the subject quickly to avoid his humiliating defeat in his argument.

'Joy.' Remus rolled his eyes. They reached the top of the long staircase and turned left down a corridor. They passed a group of girls walking in the opposite direction who giggled as they walked by. Remus rolled his eyes at them. Peter hid from them. James ignored them and Sirius winked at them.

'How many did I get?' Peter asked meekly as soon as they were out of earshot of the girls.

'Don't be stupid Wormy.' Sirius snapped as he opened a door pretending to be a painting and began to climb the staircase behind.

Peter hung his head in shame and spent the rest of the walk to charms in silence. They took the quickest way they knew to charms; through all the secret passage ways and hidden staircases. Hogwarts was a labyrinth which only a few could navigate their way around. James, Sirius, Remus and Peter, (when he was following the other three), were four the few. They had spent many nights and lessons sneaking around the school. They had come to know it so well they made the marauders map. They had come to know it so well that they could start anywhere in the castle and be at the direct opposite location in less than five minutes. They had come to know it so well, that Sirius had decided that the castle was now theirs and anyone else who wanted access to Hogwarts, needed to ask their permission. James and Remus thankfully, had managed to talk him out of that idea.

When they arrived in the room, they took their seats at the back of the class. Everyone was already there. James gave a friendly smile to Lily on his way past her. She saw the smile but turned her head away from him as soon as she could. James shook his head and frowned. Why was she mad at him?

'Let's see what I've got then.' Sirius said hungrily as he sat down and spread his valentine's takings across the table.

'There's no chocolate.' James said as he sat down next to Sirius and took out his charms book, a spare piece of parchment, some ink and his new quill which he had gotten for Christmas.

'Oh.' Sirius said disappointed, 'Shan't bother then.', he shoved all of his cards onto James' side of the desk and continued, 'Either give them to Wormy or shove them in the bin.'

James sighed and levitated all Sirius' valentine's notes and cards into the bin.

'You getting rid of all yours?' Sirius asked James.

'Yeah.' James said as he did the same with his own valentine's takings. Once they were in the bin, James, out of sheer habit looked down to the front of the classroom to where Lily was sitting. She was looking at him. As soon as she realised that he was looking back at her however, she turned back to face the front where Professor Flitwick had started the lesson.

The rest of the day went by in a flash. The rest of Lily's lessons, after double charms first, which had dragged a bit at the start, seemed to go by in a blur. She spent her third period in the Library finishing the Herbology essay she had begun the previous night. And for the last two periods, she had potions which, thankfully, in her opinion, Professor Slughorn had elected to give them a test which consumed the whole of the double period. So by the time the school day had done, Lily was exhausted and hungry and ready for the feast which was to take place in the great hall as per usual.

Everyone was seated and the feast was about to begin. Out of sheer habit from the past month, Lily glanced around the Gryffindor table for James. When she first began to like him she did it to catch his eyes or to see if he was looking at her the way she was looking at him. Now she tried to convince herself that she was only looking for him so that she could stay as far away from him as possible. He wasn't there anyway. Lily thought he was obviously at another table having a valentine's dinner with his girlfriend. Though she didn't know which that would be for she didn't know which house his girlfriends was in. She obviously wasn't in Gryffindor and she knew James well enough to know that he would never date a girl in Slytherin. He would rather die. She couldn't decide which of the other two houses he would choose a girlfriend from. He would like a Ravenclaw as he did like clever girls. (Without being big-headed, Lily assumed it was a reason James had liked her.) Then again, James honoured loyalty as he was fiercely loyal to his friends himself. That was apparent just by watching the four marauders. It was hard to know which house he would chose a girlfriend from when she remembered the Ravenclaw who was sneaking back from the Owlery the night she found out about Sophie. Obviously that was James' girlfriend.

'Looking for someone?' Hestia asked Lily knowingly.

'Not particularly.' Lily said indifferently, looking back to the table in preparation of the feast.

At the front of the hall, Dumbledore stood up, his arms open wide in greeting. 'Happy valentine's day everybody. The one day of the year which celebrates love. But shouldn't we celebrate love every day of the year. To love is an honourable trait-'

'I agree!' Sirius Black said from the back of the hall. He was stood in the middle of the large double doors. His chest was puffed out, a hand on one hip, his broom in the other. 'I have come to collect my one true love! The woman who has captured my heart.' He suddenly mounted his broom, did loop-de-loop in the air, flying over the heads of everyone in the hall to woops and cheers and finally stopped mid-air in front of the teachers table.

'Professor McGonagall,' Sirius announced holding his hand out to her.

'Really Mr Black!' Professor McGonagall said in a mix of embarrassment and annoyance, 'I do believe this is rather inappro-'

'Leave her be!' came a voice from the back of the hall. It was James stood in a similar pose to how Sirius had previously stood. He took the same action as Sirius and spectacularly flew over the heads of the Hogwarts students. He parked his broom mid-air next to Sirius'.

'How dare you put claim on my fair maiden!' James said looking at Sirius, 'Have you no shame Sir?'

'I am afraid I don't know what you're on about.' Sirius replied, looking dreamily back to Professor McGonagall, 'I only see the woman I love.'

'But she's mine!' James said valiantly, grabbing the handle of Sirius' broom and turning him back to face him, 'We're on a first name basis. I call her professor!'

The hall snickered in laughter as did many of the teachers, including Dumbledore. Professor McGonagall however, was less than impressed that she was the subject of their latest charade.

'Really boys! I do believe that is quite enough!' she said with a shrilly tone, placing both of her hands on the table and standing up

'Shhh fair maiden!' James said, holding out a finger to silence Professor McGonagall who looked as if she should have steam coming out of her ears, 'We shall decide who wins your heart, in a good old fashioned duel.'

'Really, there is no need to turn your wands on each other, especially at a meal!' Professor McGonagall said, once more attempting to quell the boys antics.

'Hush my love!' Sirius said, hopping off of his broom and landing on the table which the teachers were sat at.

James copied. 'There will be no need for wands.' he said, bending down and picking up the goblet full of pumpkin juice which was in front of Dumbledore. He raised the goblet, (in a similar way to how Dumbledore usually did at the beginning of a special feast.), to Sirius, McGonagall, Dumbledore, the teachers and the hall at large in turn before drinking it down. 'We fight like honourable men!' he announced, immediately whipping out his wand and transfiguring the goblet into a magnificent sword.

Sirius raised one eyebrow and bent down so that his face was level with Professor McGonagall. He put his hand around her pumpkin juice filled goblet and said, 'May I borrow this my love?' Without waiting for a reply, he picked up the goblet, looked at the contents inside it, shrugged and threw it over James to laughs, gasps and a few cheers from the great hall.

Whilst James wiped the pumpkin juice out of his eyes with his free hand, Sirius transfigured Professor McGonagall's drinking goblet into a sword which rivalled James. Suddenly they both jumped into an 'on-guard' position. Their swords clanged together in an impressive sword fight as James backed Sirius down the Professors long table. Sirius swung his sword over James' head to which James successfully ducked.

'You missed!' James said as Sirius took another swing at his head, 'Catch me if you can!' he said cheekily as he jumped off of the high table and leaped onto the Hufflepuff table.

Sirius followed suit and crossed swords all the way down the long table and then continued to do the same down the Ravenclaw table and Gryffindor table. They stayed away from the Slytherin table and no-one took more than one guess why. If they went sword fighting down their table than it was more than likely they would end up with a Slytherin kebab on the end of their swords.

They were making a lot of grand swings and loud noises to many gasps, woops and cheers until finally Professor McGonagall could take it no more.

'Really boys!' she said walking out from behind the table at the head of the great hall, 'Would you stop this nonsense at once!'

'No my love!' Sirius yelled as he jumped over the sword James swung at his feet, 'I must win your love during a noble fight!'

'Now Mr Black, no-one will be winning my love, especially this way, now will you stop this right now!' Professor McGonagall asked in a temper as the hall laughed and watched James and Sirius jump off of the Gryffindor table to the middle of the hall and begin circling each other, every so often pulling faces and jabbing a sword at the other.

'My dear Professor, there are only two ways we can stop this noble fight for your love.' James said as he lunged at Sirius who smartly ducked and ran screaming like a girl down the middle of the hall. He ended up hiding behind Filch, who was stood at the back of the hall, much to the amusement and laughter of the great hall. When he realised what he had done however and saw the look of disgust on Filches face at being near one the people who constantly made his job harder than it need be, Sirius quickly gave an arrogant smile and ran back to James.

'As I was saying Professor,' James continued, spinning his sword around impressively before leaning on it as the blade pointed and rested on the floor, 'there are only two ways you can stop us-'

'Technically we've already stopped-' Sirius interrupted and whispered into James' ear.

'-and here they are.' James continued, ignoring Sirius, (silencing him with a gesture of his hand), and captivating the hall into listening to the conversation, the quietest they'd ever been. 'Either declare your love for one of us right here, right now with everyone listening.'

The hall sniggered as Professor McGonagall looked around it. 'What's the other option?' she asked.

'You promise that no student in this hall will ever receive homework again!' Sirius yelled triumphantly jabbing his sword heroically into the air.

'And some jelly!' James added quickly.

The hall burst into a rapturous applause scattered with many cheers and a few laughs.

'One day with no homework.' Professor McGonagall said defiantly and a little miffed she was even doing this.

'Seven years!' Sirius said.

'And some jelly!' James added.

'One day.' Professor McGonagall repeated, 'And no jelly Mr Potter.'

Sirius nodded his head and momentarily, Professor McGonagall believed that she had won the deal.

'One year!' Sirius suddenly came out with, 'Until we leave!'

'And that day cannot come fast enough in my opinion.' Professor McGonagall said crisply, 'One day. That is my final offer.'

'This isn't the way these things work Professor McGonagall.' Sirius said shaking his head and placing a hand on her shoulder before quickly removing it at her dangerous look. He continued, 'We're lowering our offer. You have to work with us, not stick to the same answer all the time! One month!' Sirius ended.

'And how about this jelly, eh!' James added enthusiastically, raising his hands for the hall to cheer and, as it was James Potter, they did.

'One day. And a bowl full of jelly for Mr Potter.' Professor McGonagall said exasperatedly.

'One day, which we get to pick, and a bowl of jelly for everyone in the hall!' Sirius said aloud, his voice raising in volume by the end of his sentence.

'Yes!' James exclaimed happily.

'Oh alright!' Professor McGonagall said finally giving in, 'Now will you please take your seats?'

The hall clapped, cheered and laughed as James and Sirius walked down the hall, swords still in hand and took their seats next to Remus and Peter at the end of the Gryffindor table.

Professor Dumbledore stood up when James and Sirius had sat down. 'Thank you for that show boys. Very amusing.' he said with a small chuckle, 'Now without any further delay, enjoy.' Dumbledore said opening his arms wide.

No sooner had the words left his lips when a bowl of red, heart-shaped jelly appeared in front of every student and teacher in the hall. Everyone had to admit it, Dumbledore was good!

Whilst everyone was at the Valentines feast, a group of Slytherin's were hiding out down in the dungeons. They were discussing a matter of great importance to them all.

'The Dark Lord has called us for an urgent meeting!' Avery said to his fellow Slytherin's who were crammed into the secluded room in the dungeons which they had hijacked that evening during the feast.

'Do you know what for?' Bellatrix said, leaning forward, eyes sparkling at the prospect of seeing Lord Voldemort in person for the first time. She had only had contact with him through letters instructing her what to do, but she had heard a lot about him.

'I'm not sure.' Avery said, 'It could be anything. Things are moving swiftly.'

'It shouldn't be long now.' Mulciber said looking darkly at everyone in the room.

Everyone smiled evilly. Severus was leant in the shadows near a grate at the top of the wall which let in the evening air. He moved forward and sat down at the table which Bellatrix, Wilkes and Rosier were sat at. In the middle of the table was a small rounded jar which carried a green flame inside, illuminating their faces in a harsh glare. The silence extended whilst the group of aspiring death eaters thought of what would happen in this meeting. Many thoughts ran through Severus' head. Maybe the Dark Lord was planning to overthrow the Minister for Magic. Maybe it was a branding ceremony. Maybe it was a plan to invade or attack a muggle or wizarding village. They didn't know

'When is this meeting.' Severus asked looking at Avery who was leant against the door ensuring that no-one entered the room.

'In a couple of weeks.' Avery said.

'And how do you propose we get there?' Mulciber sneered as he snooped through the room they were in, pocketing anything he found that could be valuable.

'The meeting is during the day.' Avery began, 'We'll have to create a distraction whilst Filch is unlocking the gate so that he can go and get more cleaning supplies from Hogsmeade-'

'Why will he need cleaning supplies?' Wilkes asked.

'Use your brain Wilkes!' Severus hissed, 'Obviously we're going to destroy his giving him a reason to leave and us an opportunity!'

'Exactly.' Avery said.

'So what distraction are you thinking of?' Bellatrix asked, 'Can we perhaps curse some mudbloods? It's not like they don't deserve it. Stealing our heritage.'

'As much as we would all like to do that,' Severus said looking around the room at each person in turn who returned a sardonic smile, 'it would raise too much attention and I am sure the Dark Lord would not want that.'

'How do you know what the Dark Lord wants?' Bellatrix hissed viciously, as if it was an offence to know or even guess what Voldemort was thinking.

'Why do you think every attack is cautiously planned out?' Severus snapped, standing up, leaning on the table and looming over Bellatrix, 'Why do you think masks are worn during an attack? Why do you think spies are sent in beforehand either by imperious curse or otherwise?'

'Isn't the whole point of this to raise the attention of the wizarding world to the wrongs that are going on beneath their noses?' Rosier said gruffly, 'To let them know what those mudbloods are doing to our society?'

'Not on terms which the Dark Lord has not set himself!' Severus snapped, 'Everything is planned precisely so that attention is drawn at the right moment in the right place. I don't see why you are questioning the Dark Lord's tactics and wishes.'

'I wasn't questioning-'

'Shut up Rosier!' Severus said, 'Or I shall be forced to inform the Dark Lord of your queries and misconceptions! And worse, your doubt!'

James was carrying two bowls of jelly down a small and hidden spiral staircase which led to the dungeons. If you knew James, there were only two reasons why he would be doing this. The first was the reason he was doing it now; he was going to a study session and the jelly was a snack. The second was something he and Sirius had done in their third year; put jelly in all the Slytherin's pillow cases. James did say it was a waste of good jelly at first but Sirius had convinced him that it was a worthy cause.

So James was heading down to his first study session with Lily and he wasn't afraid to say that he was excited. It had been a good day so far. His valentine's plans, his and Sirius plans, had come off without a hitch and one day soon they would declare that no homework would be given out on that day. They now just had to think of when would be the best opportunity for it. But right now he was going to make a start on the potion project Slughorn had set him and Lily to keep him occupied.

He walked down the dimly lit corridor which gave a green and sickly glare. It was quite a long walk to get to the room where Lily was waiting. She had told him shortly at the end of the Valentines meal, which he had rather enjoyed, that she was going to head down and fetch the ingredients. She had seemed rather sharp but James just put it down to his childish behaviour before the feast. He wasn't going to let it bother him though. He knew she was a little bit mad at him anyway, for reasons he didn't understand, so he thought he'd just charm her with jelly and hope she'd forgive him. He'd thought of it when the Ravenclaw girl next to him, who had come over to their table especially for a lovely romantic valentines feast with her boyfriend, had said that jelly could cure pretty much any problem. It was a great dinner.

He passed several rooms down the corridor and even a wall which was pretending to be a door. He also passed the entrance to the Slytherin common room to which he stopped at and contemplated throwing the jelly at it. In the end he decided that the jelly had done nothing to deserve that terrible fate so he continued down the corridor until he eventually came to the potion room where Lily would be waiting for him.

Remus was just entering the common room, returning from the library where he had been to fetch a book for his care of magical creature class, when he saw something which he took no notice of. So, he continued over to the spiral staircase which led to his dormitory. Half way up the stairs something occurred to him. What he had seen in the common room, what he had seemingly ignored, wasn't right.

He headed back down the stairs to make sure what he had seen was true. He entered the bustling common room again, his library book still in his hand, and he looked over the heads of all the students until he finally found who was looking for. He pushed his way through the many students who were obviously only just coming back from the feast, until he was face to face with them.

'What are you doing here?' he asked.

'I brought jelly…Jones?' James said as he entered the room. He looked confusedly at Hestia who was stood defiantly near the desk which a professor would usually use. It had a few papers on it and James could see she had been looking through them.

'Bad habit of mine.' she said indicating to the pile of ruffled paper, 'My curiosity takes over sometimes. I'm like Lily that way.'

'Well you know what they say.' James said, walking further into the room and placing the bowls of jelly on the desk.

'Well luckily I don't have a cat so I don't think it matters much!' Hestia said with a quick but silent laugh.

'I don't think you have to own a cat.' James said resting on the desk, putting one of the bowls down but keeping one of the bowls of jelly in his hands and digging in.

'Great.' Hestia said, 'So know I'm gonna be responsible for killing a load of poor, unsuspecting cats? Thanks!'

James laughed, 'I'm pretty sure that's not how it works.'

'Oh…' Hestia said, pulling the other bowl of jelly closer towards her, 'Then how does it work?' she asked.

'I'm not sure.' James asked spooning some jelly into his mouth, 'It is just a saying after all.'

'Yeah right.' Hestia sighed, picking up the spoon that was in the jelly.

'You know Jones,' James started, pulling the jelly bowl away from Hestia as she went for a spoonful, 'as much as I enjoy our random conversations and the fact that you're obviously not mad at me anymore, (still don't know why that was by the way), but, what are you doing here?'

'You're meant to be doing that potion with James aren't you?' Remus said, trying to persuade her answer.

Lily said nothing.

'He's down there now I think.' Remus continued, 'Are you going down there now?'

She still said nothing.

'It's not long since he left.' Remus said, looking at his watch but becoming more and more certain that Lily wouldn't go down to the potion room to meet James no matter what. He did try again though. 'You might meet him on the way down if you go now.'

'I'm not going.' Lily said quietly, 'I…don't feel well.'

'Don't lie to me.' Remus said shaking his head.

'You don't know I'm lying-'

'Yes I do.' Remus said, cutting Lily off. 'Funny thing about Hogwarts is that we don't realise half the time that we are really living with each other. I've seen when you're ill and you're not ill now. So why aren't you going down to do that potion project with James?'

'Because I don't want to.' Lily said exasperatedly, rolling her eyes and averting her gaze away from Remus' intense stare.

'Yes you do!' Remus said shortly.

Lily suddenly looked at him, surprised and eyes wide. He couldn't know how much she actually did want to make that potion. Liquid luck. It could help her. But he couldn't know why she wanted the lucky potion. She herself couldn't decide between two reasons which were floating through her mind.

'What do you mean?' Lily asked, realising she hadn't said anything in thirty seconds.

'Potions fascinates you!' Remus said, 'You don't have to be your best friend to realise that, so if you had the opportunity to make a potion which we wouldn't usually be asked to make you would do it.'

'Well I don't want to!' Lily said, 'You obviously don't know me as well as you think you do.'

'That might be true but I know you enough.' Remus said, 'Anyone who's known you for over five minutes knows you enough.'

'Don't you make out that my life is an open book!' Lily stormed.

'I'm not saying that at all!' Remus said.

'Well good…because it's not!' Lily said, 'You have no idea what I like or not! And…just because it may be… 'apparent' to you,' Lily said in bits, using air quotes, 'Doesn't mean that you know everything about me!'

Remus sighed, 'I didn't mean that.' He paused. 'I just want to re-ask-'

'Oh for God's sakes Lupin, stop hounding me!' Lily interrupted, worn down and annoyed by his questions.

'I'm just trying to figure out-'

'Well stop!' Lily said, marching away and starting up the girls staircase, sure that Remus wouldn't be able to follow.

But he could and he did. Remus quickly followed her. She was only a couple of steps up the staircase so he jumped onto the same step as her, certain that the girls staircase, which was charmed to allow girls and only girls up to the dormitory, wouldn't change itself into a slide to decline him entry.

'You can't come up here!' Lily said as she continued up the stairs, Remus always being on the same step as she was.

'The steps seem to say otherwise!' Remus said as they reached a level landing with a dormitory door on it.

'Well I don't!' Lily said, 'I'm not surprised you've figured out how to trick the stairs, but I am surprised you're doing it! I'd expect it of Black or even…but not you!'

'First of all, the only reason we figured out the stairs was because we lost our Quaffle up here once.' Remus began, 'Sirius may have tried sneaking up here anyway but James, me and Peter never did or do, so you can just get that idea out of your head now.' Remus said, shocking Lily a little bit. 'Secondly, all I want to know is why you're not going down to do that potion with James. Really.'

'I really don't think this is any of your business Lupin.' Lily said, folding her arms.

'Actually it is.' Remus asked.

Lily stopped. She was stunned. She didn't expect this response. 'How?'

'Because,' Remus started, becoming very serious, 'James is my friend and he was actually looking forward to doing this project because it would give him something else to think about. He needs the distraction.'

'Why?' Lily asked curiously.

'Because he recently lost his dad.' Remus said solemnly.

Lily looked a little abashed. 'I know that.'

'He values your friendship you know.' Remus said, 'He spent ages asking you out and everything but I think he's happy with being your friend. For now.'

Lily looked up alert, 'For now?'

'But if you carry on ignoring him and quickly walking away from him when he tries to talk to you and acting mad at him and rolling your eyes at him-'

'What's your point?' Lily sighed, bored of the list.

'If you keep doing that I'm worried that he might spiral out of control.' Remus said. 'And I thought you were meant to be giving him a chance?'

'I'm sorry he's not coping well.' Lily said sincerely, 'but…', she continued, trying to think of something to say that would make Remus drop this subject because he was making her feel bad, '…I gave you all a chance and…it's done.'

'Why?' Remus said, 'What did we do?'

'Well…the childish stuff you do. The apparation lesson.' Lily said, plucking this event from mid-air for an excuse.

'That's why you don't want to be our friend?' Remus said, 'Because we do childish stuff?'

'Well…yes?' Lily said, regretting it the moment she said it. She believed she had just effectively ended her friendship with all the marauders in one word.

'Well the wizarding world is in a war at the minute. But we don't have to let it through these walls and ruin our last worry-free years at Hogwarts.' Remus started, his eyes flashing, 'It won't be long until we're forced out into that world to confront the problem and most likely fight for our lives and our rights every day! We'll be forced to grow up and we won't even have time to find a place in that world. So yeah, we still do childish stuff because we are technically still children and you can be pretty damn sure that we're gonna milk it as long as possible! Sorry if you feel like you can't be our friend because we're too childish, but we're not gonna stop having fun before we have to!' Remus finished angrily.

Lily said nothing as Remus turned around, walked away from her on the small landing and slid down the spiral slide which had replaced the staircase. She had nothing to say. He was right.

Hestia said nothing. She pulled the bowl of jelly which James had taken away from her and dug in the spoon that was still in her hand.

'Jones?' James said softly, 'Why are you here?'

'Lily's not coming.' Hestia said to her bowl of jelly.

James also looked down to his jelly. This news saddened him. 'Oh…' he said, 'Is she still mad at me?'

'What do you mean?' Hestia said, looking up at him, 'Lily's not mad at you.'

'She isn't?' James asked, confused, 'I thought she was.'

'Why?' Hestia questioned.

'Because she was…ignoring me. Being short with me.' James suggested, 'She's not here.'

'That's not why she's not here.' Hestia said shaking her head.

'Then why isn't she here?' James asked pressingly.

'I…' Hestia paused. She couldn't tell him. Lily would kill her now. Maybe if she'd have just told him herself sooner then Lily wouldn't be acting silly and avoiding James and James would have some idea of what to do. Now it was all different though. Lily couldn't have feelings for him because of Sophie. It would just make thing awkward if he knew. But didn't he have a right to know? Then again, didn't Hestia have a duty to Lily, her best friend, to indulge her wishes and let her get over it? 'I can't tell you.' Hestia said, eventually settling on indulging Lily's request.

'Well, as the person she's bailing out on for making this potion, I think I have a right to know.' James said before quickly adding, 'I think people ought to know why their school may possibly end up being blown up because I wasn't kept an eye during making this potion.'

Hestia sighed. 'Alright. The whole school has no business knowing, but…you're right. It does involve you and I think you do deserve to know.'

James smiled gleefully and settled himself onto the desk he had been leaning against and sitting crossed legged, eager to hear.

Hestia sighed again. 'Lily will kill me if she finds out I'm telling you this-'

'It's a noble cause.' James interrupted.

Hestia shook her head. 'You know, if I do tell you this you have got to promise that you won't tell anyone!' she said, looking very sternly at James who now looked a little less eager and a little more scared.

'O…kay…' he said a bit warily.

'I mean it!' Hestia continued, staring James straight in the eye, 'You can't tell a soul. Not Black or Lupin! Not one of the ghosts. Not any of the professors. None of the other kids at the school and definitely not Lily.'

'I won't.' James said seriously.

'Promise?' Hestia asked, pointing a finger at James.

'I promise.' James replied, 'And when I make a promise, I never break it.'

Hestia breathed in deeply and nodded. 'Okay.' she said, 'Here goes…Lily likes you.'

James' face froze. 'Oh.' he whispered eventually after a few second of pure silence. He wasn't expecting that. 'That's…oh…' he paused, '…wow…was not…err…really?'

'Yes.' Hestia said with a small smile at James reaction. It wasn't how she thought he'd react. In her mind he would have marched straight over to Lily and ask her out. Then again, maybe because of the current circumstances, the promise he had made her and obviously, his relationship with Sophie. Now that she thought about it, Hestia thought she had probably just scrambled his mind.

'Why can't I tell her you've told me?' James eventually asked.

'Because she doesn't like the fact that she likes you.' Hestia explained.

'Gee. What a compliment.' James said in a sarcastic monotone rolling his eyes.

'What you thinking?' Hestia asked.

'That this sucks.' James said.

'Well that's not what I was expecting, I've got to say.' Hestia said, 'By the way you'd pestered her for the past five years, even though you can't now for obvious reasons, I'd have thought you'd at least-'

'I didn't mean that it all sucks.' James said quickly, cutting Hestia off, 'Lily liking me that's…great…can't even describe how awesome that is…it's not being able to do anything about it that sucks. I made that promise to you and I promised her I wouldn't ask her out anymore. Typical!' he finished rolling his eyes in annoyance. His expression then became very natural but confused, 'What should I do?'

'Nothing.' Hestia said walking towards the door, opening it and turning around, 'You're not going to say anything to anybody because you promised me you wouldn't and I highly doubt you'll want to upset Lily or ruin mine and hers friendship by telling her that I told you. So you'll say nothing and keep this to yourself.' she ended, walking out of the door partly. 'Oh,' she said, coming halfway back into the room, 'don't tell your girlfriend either. That would just add insult to injury if she knew that Lily liked you. You wouldn't want to ruin that relationship would you?' she finished, leaving the room and shutting the door after her.

James stared at the now closed door. He looked confused. 'Girlfriend?'

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