Positive Reinforcement

Merlin's Well-Formed Buttocks

Lily marched into her room, hair and magic practically crackling from her anger. She stomped around collecting her things for bed and thought about how annoying James Potter was. No one else could rile her up so fast, and certainly no one else dared to get off on it. What an infuriating arse! He couldn't even respect her enough to listen to what she was saying when she told him off. He provoked her all the time, and she always played right into it by giving him a show. She growled and got into her four-poster, wrenching the drapes shut so she could stew in seclusion. How dare he view her punishments as a reward?

Lily sat upright in her bed when the solution suddenly came to her in an epiphany. If Potter enjoyed being yelled at, she just had to do the opposite in order to punish him. The normal techniques were evidently just serving as a disgusting sort of positive reinforcement of rule-breaking for him. Every time he misbehaved or broke rules, she would keep her cool and deduct points or assign detentions. She would not stoop to giving him what he wanted. Merlin knew it would be hard, because he really knew which buttons to push, but Lily set her mind to the task and prepared herself to embody aloofness, to be detached and calm. That would teach him not to bloody sexualize her while she was giving him a piece of her mind.

She finally drifted off to sleep envisioning the bemused face Potter would make when she was cool and collected in the face of his immaturity. She just had to hold it together around him.


They had Potions first thing the next morning with Hufflepuff and James was practically bouncing in his seat next to Sirius as he waited for Lily to come in and see their modifications to the dungeon classroom.

Sirius was enjoying the mixed expressions of disgust and amusement from their classmates as they took in the pale pink stone walls and the china plates with adorable kittens staring out at the room. Each plate was mounted on a frilly doily held to the wall with a sticking charm. He felt that the lacy trim around the doorframe was a particularly nice touch, and he was still admiring that when he saw Lily come through next to Mary McDonald, a muggleborn Hufflepuff sixth-year.

The girls both froze for a second in shock, taking in the changes. Lily took a deep breath in through her nose and James watched eagerly, waiting for her to expel the air along with a rant directed at him.

Instead, Lily just exhaled out of her mouth and went to her bench. Turning to Mary, she started a conversation about the effects of brewing a potion on the night of a full moon versus a new moon. Mary looked a little confused that the prefect renowned for her quick temper hadn't made so much as a comment about the dungeon's new look but she said something about dosage being affected by the phase of the moon during brewing.

James looked disappointed at the total lack of a response from Lily, but then again it wasn't all that disruptive yet and she'd been expecting something like it from their chat last night. Just wait until Slughorn came in. What happened then would really get her going, and she'd probably glare at him with that incredible intensity the whole day. He could hardly wait.

Slughorn's rotund form finally bustled into the room, a few minutes late. It wasn't uncommon for Slughorn to linger lovingly over his breakfast in the Great Hall and miss the beginning of class. The class tittered as he collected his materials at the front of the room. He still hadn't looked up and noticed the modifications courtesy of the Marauders.

"Good morning, sixth years! Where did we leave off last time? Ah yes, we were discussing the properties of various healing potions—" he broke off as he realized that his classroom didn't look the way it should. He looked around the room, a smile growing on his face.

"Oh ho," he chuckled indulgently, wagging his finger in James and Sirius' general direction. "I wonder who could have been responsible for this redecorating job? Well, my boys—"

At the activation phrase "my boys" the dozens of cats adorning the walls were all set off. A deafening cacophony of meows filled the room as the silencing spell on the plates broke and Slughorn was unable to speak over the noise the cats produced.

The professor tried for a few minutes to make himself heard and attempted to silence the plates again, but James and Sirius had made them resistant to a number of solutions, including everything from simple silencing spells to bludgeoning hexes when the victim attempted to simply smash the obnoxious plates. Finally Slughorn simply wrote on the board, "CLASS DISMISSED. LUPIN, PLEASE FETCH FLITWICK FOR ME TO SEE IF HE CAN FIX THIS."

Sirius and James were positively gleeful at the successful prank and were first out of the dungeon classroom. James lingered by the door to wait for Lily to emerge. Sirius carried on down the hall until he noticed James still behind.

"Prongs, what in the name of Merlin's well-formed buttocks are you doing dawdling back there? We have a free period now, let's go up to the astronomy tower and drop things on people walking below. Maybe a bucket of soapy water on Snape would send a subtle message that we think he ought to wash his hair one of these years."

"Sounds great, Pads. Just give me a second and I'll catch up," James said distractedly. Lily was emerging from the violently pink classroom now and he was all set to receive the tongue-lashing of a lifetime. He'd ruined a lesson that she'd been looking forward to and exams were only two months away. She'd kill him, and he'd die happy. He held his breath as she approached him—

And proceeded to brush by without so much as a glance at his grinning face.

Sirius was bent double with laughter at his best friend's expression after Lily had gone. Gasping for breath, he said, "I dunno, Prongsie, maybe this wasn't big enough to really tick her off since she already lost it at you last night." He actually had an inkling that Lily might have finally cottoned on to the fact that James looked forward to her lectures, but he thought that this approach would be much, much more entertaining.


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