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Positive Reinforcement

By rereaderliz

Humor / Romance

Merlin's Shapely Rear End

"Prongs, what in the name of Merlin's shapely rear end are you doing? This is supposed to be a stealth operation and you're clomping about like a dragon in steel-toed boots. Fly on silent wings, please, mate. Use your Merlin-forsaken dragon wings."

James Potter ignored Sirius Black's half-earnest, half-joking pleas. The two sixth year boys were on their way to charm Slughorn's classroom to the most disgusting décor they could come up with—pink walls, frills, and decorative cat plates. They'd be using spells and tools they had created themselves and would require a solid hour to do the job right. Hence the cover of night and need for stealth.

It was true that James was clomping a bit. He even nudged a suit of armor that they passed in order to produce a loud clang. He may have been hoping that a certain red-headed Gryffindor prefect would happen upon them and yell at him for a while. He cherished these moments when Lily would look at him in the face for a few minutes and the strength of her anger and passion would set her hands flying in wide gestures and her face would go a pink color that should have clashed with her hair but that James found incredibly attractive. He'd also found that the more he let his happiness show on his face during these diatribes, the longer they went on because Lily knew he wasn't learning any kind of lesson whatsoever.

Sirius stopped in the corridor and faced his best friend.

"Prongs, I realize that you are hoping as you always hope that she will interact with you by telling you off, but, in the name of Merlin's perky tush, I implore you to recall that she is only one of sixteen prefects and Arithmantically speaking is unlikely to be the one to catch you, especially so far from Gryffindor tower in the middle of the night. Better odds that it's Filch. Do you enjoy being shouted at by him too? Are rude old squibs your type? Do the threats to hang us by our thumbs get you going? Are detentions scrubbing floors just an excuse to spend time with Filch? Do you want to formally adopt Mrs. Norris and settle down with him?"

"Oh, you're right, Padfoot! I'm an idiot. She's not even on patrol tonight! Sorry for trying to throw the prank, mate."

Sirius looked at James in disbelief for a second and then carried on down the hall, muttering about creepy obsessive stalkers who memorized the prefect patrol schedule.

o0O0o

Two hours later, the two Marauders had successfully defaced the potions classroom and had also stopped by the kitchens to pick up a midnight meal from the neurotically eager Hogwarts elves.

"Hippogriff," Sirius told the Fat Lady. "And may I just say that you are looking very fetching tonight, madam. Did you change your hair?"

"Oh, you are a charmer," the portrait replied but she swung open to reveal the entrance with a wink.

Stepping through the portrait hole, Sirius saw that Lily was sitting in the common room working on what was most likely the Charms essay he was planning on ignoring altogether. He started to get a bad feeling which was confirmed when James's infallible Lily-sensor homed in on his long-term crush. Sirius sometimes wondered if James had placed some kind of tracking charm on her because his attention always gravitated to where she was.

"Evans! You are as beautiful and studious as ever. Would you like to know what I was just up to?"

Lily looked up from her parchment. "Not really, Potter," she replied.

"Well," James plowed on, undeterred, "obviously we stopped by the kitchens to pick up some sustenance, but before that—"

"Don't care, Potter."

"It's against the rules and we were out past curfew, but the really exciting part is what we did right before that!"

Sirius clapped a hand over his eyes and dragged it down over his face, looking skyward and letting out a long-suffering sigh. James was about to earn them a Legendary Lily Evans Rant when all he wanted to do was bring the food up to their dormitory and bother Peter and Remus until they woke up to eat with them.

"We defaced a professor's classroom! I'm not going to tell you which one, Evans, because then you might try to fix it before anyone gets a chance to admire its horror, but suffice to say it will be very distracting for lessons tomorrow and I anticipate it lasting at least a full day."

James rocked back onto his heels, clasped his hands behind his back, and waited with a stupid grin on his face for the inevitable storm to hit.

Lily didn't disappoint.

"POTTER! THAT IS INCREDIBLY IRRESPONSIBLE AND SELFISH OF YOU! HOW DARE YOU DO SOMETHING TO INTERFERE WITH OUR EDUCATION WHEN THE EXAMS ARE ONLY TWO MONTHS AWAY? YOU MAY ASPIRE TO BE A USELESS DELINQUENT WITHOUT ANY MOTIVATION WHATSOEVER TO ACHIEVE BUT FOR SOME OF US EXAMS ARE ACTUALLY IMPORTANT FOR OUR FUTURE SUCCESS! NOT EVERYONE CAN SKATE BY WITH A FANCY FAMILY NAME AND A WINK! YOU ARE—"

The shouting continued, but neither of the boys was paying attention to her words. Sirius had tuned out instantly and was waiting for it to end so he could go eat. James was watching the strands of dark red hair near her face escape from her ponytail in her agitation. She was so gorgeous and so impassioned, and he congratulated himself on being the cause of her passion. The way in which he got her attention was unimportant. It was enough just to be this close to her, with all of her focus on him, and to see her cheeks turning pink as she yelled.

Lily was getting closer and closer to the boys as she finished her diatribe. She punctuated her final comment, "TWENTY FIVE POINTS FROM GRYFFINDOR! EACH!" with a hard poke in James's chest.

James couldn't help himself once she touched him and his expression crossed the line. Lily looked at his face and wondered why it seemed off. He wouldn't dare…but this was James Potter. It dawned on her slowly that not only did he not listen to what she was saying, he actually had the nerve to look at her romantically while she berated him. Fury rose in her, but she tamped it down hard with the newfound knowledge that expressing it would only make him happier.

James watched her snap her jaw shut, spin on her heel, collect her books and essay, and storm up the staircase to the girls' dormitory.

"Goodnight, moon to my stars and light of my life! I look forward to seeing you tomorrow!"

"I hate you, Prongs. Your crush is ruining my life," Sirius told James.

"She looked even better than usual tonight," James replied dreamily.

"Merlin's flawless hiney, you've got it so bad."

o0O0o

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