"Good to know."
"Well, go find something to do then."
"Prongs, I'm still bored."
"Well what am I supposed to do about it?"
"Do something amusing. As my best mate, you have the obligation to entertain me."
"Yeah well, I'm trying to do my homework. Go find someone else to annoy."
"Prongs! You've wounded me!"
"You're no fun anymore."
"It's NEWT year. We have more homework. It's a fact of life, so get used to it, Pads."
"But I'm bored."
"Really? I hadn't noticed."
"Come on Prongs, let's do something!"
"How about, you be quiet for ten minutes so I can finish this, and then we'll do something."
Twenty-three seconds later:
"Urgh! I give up."
"Good! I never thought that shield charms were important anyway."
James rolled his eyes at his best mate, trying to think of a way to entertain him.
"So, what did you have in mind?"
"I have no idea. That's why I wanted you to think of something." Sirius frowned. Honestly, James could be so dull sometimes. Then he shrugged. "I guess we could just go hex some Slytherins, that's always entertaining."
"True. But won't they all be in bed by now? It's past curfew."
"Oh yeah. Hey, why don't we plan something for tomorrow?"
"Great idea, Pads. We'll do a big prank at breakfast, or maybe dinner?"
"Dinner. More people go to dinner at the same time."
"That's true. Also, dinner foods are more interesting to hex."
"But if we do it at breakfast, we can make the effects last for the entire day!"
"Yeah, that's a really good point."
"Sure. We'll plan it now?"
"Well duh. How would it help my boredom otherwise? I'll go get Moony."
"Cause he's the brainy one, Prongs. I thought we'd agreed on this?"
"Merlin, it's the apocalypse! Sirius Black, the Sirius Black, just said some-one was smarter than him!" James feigned a heart attack as Sirius glared at him.
"I said brainy! Not smart! Brainy! There's a difference!"
"Whatever Pads. But you should probably get Wormtail too, or he'll-"
"Will you two be quiet? I know it's a difficult task for you, but at least try! Some of us are working!"
James spun his head around so fast his neck cricked. He knew that voice. And sure enough, there was the love of his life, Lily Evans, standing behind him.
Sure, she had a murderous expression on her face, but that could be overlooked at a time like this.
"Come on, Evans, you know you just love the sound of my voice," said Sirius, jumping to his feet.
"In your dreams, Black."
"No, sorry, I dream about the day you say yes to Prongsie dearest."
Lily's expression became even more murderous; a feat James previously believed impossible. But any expression looks good on her, he thought. She's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen.
"What, - I - you," spluttered Lily.
"Ah, you see, Lily-flower, that proves you do love him, deep down, if you can't even speak coherently in his presence."
"What the hell, Black!" Yelled Lily, regaining control over her voice. "I was, am, angry!"
"But, have you not noticed dear Prongsie's silence? It is because you have such an effect on him, he cannot speak. And I'm sure the same applies to you."
"I am speaking!" Lily screeched, as James ripped his eyes away from Lily in order to glare at Sirius. "What do you call this?"
"That, my dear Lily-flower, would be yelling. Or screaming, I'm not fussed, really. But the point is, it sure isn't talking."
"Did you just stamp your foot? I didn't know girls did that!"
"Black, you are the most annoying person I have ever met! Now get out of here so people that want to can work!"
"Well you know, you are making more noise at the moment than we are-" Sirius stopped speaking and hid behind James as Lily pulled out her wand; she was formidable when angry, and no-one knew that better than the Marauders.
"Just leave it Pads," muttered James. Then he turned to Lily, smiling slightly, "We'll try to be a bit quieter from now on."
Lily was taken aback for a second. Was James Potter actually being nice? She shook her head. No, It was impossible. She narrowed her eyes at him.
James watched her walk back to her friends sadly. What had he done wrong? He hadn't argued with her, he hadn't given any indication that he had agreed with Sirius - quite the contrary, actually – and he hadn't even asked her out since the end of last year! That was over two months ago!
Sirius was watching his mate with sad eyes. Oh, he's got it bad. He decided to lighten the mood a little.
"So, what's with you? You were a little quiet back then. Normally you would have been with me! Actually, I would have been with you, seeing as technically it's normally you that starts these things, but-"
"Shut up, Pads," said James, standing up. "I don't want to talk about it, okay?"
Sirius huffed, and tried again.
"Well, anyway, have you come up with any ideas for a prank yet?"
"Prank?" The two friends looked over at the newcomer, and grinned when they saw Peter Pettigrew wandering over from the portrait hole. "What Prank?" he asked, throwing himself on the seat next to James.
"We are going to do a prank tomorrow at dinner," announced Sirius, which caused James to whack him on the side of the head with a glance at Lily. "Sorry," whispered Sirius, trying again, "We are going to do a prank tomorrow at dinner."
"We are?" Remus Lupin walked over, having just finished all his homework, completing the foursome. "What are we going to do?"
"Well, we were just waiting for you before we started," said Sirius. "So, now you're here, what are we going to do, Moony?" James and Sirius looked at Remus expectantly. Remus sighed.
"Why do I always have to come up with the pranks?"
"Because you are the smartest, the most wonderful, and the second most attractive," Sirius sung dramatically.
"Second?" Asked Remus.
"After me of course," said James, grinning.
"What? No, after me!" cried Sirius.
"Of course Pads," said Remus reassuringly, and Sirius stuck his tongue out at James, who rolled his eyes. Then Sirius continued on his tirade of 'reasons why Moony should plan the prank.'
"Because you're special, actually pay attention in class, a prefect-"
"What does being a prefect have to do with it?" Whispered Peter.
"Just ignore him, Wormtail," James whispered back.
"-you know more rules than us so you can make sure we break lots at one time without getting expelled-"
"And, because, when we originally started to come with the pranks, Sirius actually said please," said James loudly, cutting Sirius off.
"Yeah, that's about it," said Peter.
"Fine," muttered Remus, his lips twitching. "But, that means I get to allocate jobs."
"Of course," said Sirius, as James opened his mouth to protest. "Like normal; you get the jobs which need brains and are the least likely to get caught, James and I do the stuff that needs to be sneaky but are still the most likely to get caught, and Pete does the little stuff!"
"Hey!" said James. "I'm Head Boy now, you know! I can't get caught!"
"Hang on, does this mean you're going to be no fun this year?" Asked Sirius, his face falling into a pout,
"No," said James, chuckling at Sirius' expression, "I'm just going to be extra sneaky." He turned to Remus. "I get the invisibility cloak; Pads can have the map."
"Of course. It is your cloak, after all."
"What about me?" whined Peter. "I won't have the cloak or the map!"
"Well, it depends on what the prank is," said Remus. "We'll probably stay together, anyway."
"So, back to the original point," said Sirius, "prank?"
"Actually, I do have an idea," said Remus, grinning. The others leaned in, their smiles becoming more pronounced as Remus explained the plan.
Lily was having difficulty concentrating on her homework; a particularly nasty essay for Defense Against the Dark Arts about imbuing an object, such as a hat or cloak, with a shield charm. It wasn't as if she didn't know the material; it was all in her textbook, she was just having difficulty concentrating. She was continuously finding herself glancing over at the Marauders.
The foursome were huddled together, a sight that everybody met with equal amounts of fear and excitement. They were planning something.
Lily groaned. She hated it when the Marauders played a prank. Well, okay, some of them were pretty funny, but they always ended up losing house points. If Gryffindor hadn't won the Quidditch Cup the past few years, they never would have even had a chance for the House Cup, thanks to the Marauders. Last year, they only beat Slytherin by ten points! Okay, sure, if hadn't been for James they probably wouldn't have won the Quidditch Cup at all, but still…
Lily froze. Did she just call Potter 'James' in her head? She shrugged it off. Since they were Head Girl and Boy together this year, she had been forced to have a civilized conversation with him; so surely she wasn going to start to know him as 'James' at some point. Just as long as she never said it out loud.
Lily groaned again when she heard the Marauders burst out in laughter.
That could only mean one thing.
Why was she excited? Why did she keep looking at them? Why couldn't she just do her stupid essay?
She covered her face with her hands when she realized she was looking at them again. No, not them, she realized. Him. There had only been one Marauder she was looking at; and it sure hadn't been the 'oh-so-handsome' and incredibly annoying Sirius Black.
Slamming her book shut, causing her friends to jump, Lily got up and walked towards the dormitories, breaking into a run as soon as the common room was out of sight.
Why was this happening to her?
"So, how long?"
"About five minutes. They should all be here by then."
"Hey, watch out, Evans alert."
"Oh, keep your hair on Prongs, I was only joking."
"I think he would look better without that mess he likes to call hair."
"Oh, shut up Moony."
"Actually, I think he should keep his hair."
The Marauders looked up to stare incredulously at Lily, who had come over to tell them what would happen if they played a prank.
"I thought you said you were joking," Peter hissed at Sirius. Sirius, however, along with James and Remus, were still staring at Lily, who slowly began to turn a bright shade of red.
"Not that I like it, I just, um, don't think he'd look so good bald," stuttered Lily, trying to cover herself up.
"You know Evans, when you fall in a hole, you're not supposed to keep digging," said Sirius, regaining the use of his voice.
"Shut up, Black," snapped Lily.
"So, is there a reason you've graced us with your presence, or did you just come over here to look at my pretty face?" As Lily narrowed her eyes, Remus shot Sirius a warning glare, and then turned back to Lily. James tried to say something, but found he was still unable to talk. Lily Evans, the Lily Evans, had pretty much just admitted that she liked his hair. It was probably the nicest thing she had ever said to him, even though, strictly speaking, she hadn't actually been talking to him.
"What he means is, what did you want to ask us," said Remus politely. Lily smiled thankfully at him; she had always got along well with Remus, who had been a Prefect with her; they had always patrolled together, and so they had become friends.
"I was just going to tell you that if you've planned-" she was cut off as the post-owls swooped down, and started to deliver the mail.
"Quick, sit down!" Hissed Sirius. Lily looked at him incredulously.
"I will not sit and eat with you."
"Oh, come on, Lily," said James, finally regaining the use of his voice, "You don't want to miss the prank, do you?"
Lily was caught herself by surprise as the realized that she didn't want to miss the prank. She sighed and seated her self between Remus and James, opposite Sirius and Peter.
"What did you do?" she asked in a resigned voice.
"You'll see," grinned James, gesturing to the Slytherin table. Lily followed his gaze just in time to see an owl carrying a scarlet envelope land in front of Severus Snape. The Marauders sniggered.
"You sent him a howler?" snorted Lily. "How very unoriginal."
"That's not it," said Sirius indignantly. "You wait and see."
The letter exploded, and the whole school turned to look at Snape, who seemed to be trying his hardest to disappear.
"DEAR SLYTHERINS," screeched a voice that sounded rather familiar. Lily glanced at Sirius, who winked. "WE GIVE YOU OUR SINCEREST SYMPATHIES," Lily looked at James questioningly, but he just grinned and motioned for her to keep listening. "WE HAVE NOTICED THAT YOU DO NOT SEEM TO HAVE A LOT OF FRIENDS. EVEN IN YOUR OWN HOUSE YOU SEEM TO BE LACKING. SO, WE HAVE DECIDED TO GIVE YOU ALL A PRESENT. YES, ONE FOR EACH OF YOU. NOT ONLY WILL YOUR PRESENT KEEP YOU COMPANY IN THESE HARD TIMES, BUT IT WILL HELP YOU MAKE EVEN MORE FRIENDS! IF YOU EVER INSULT ANYBODY OF A DIFFERENT HOUSE, YOUR FRIEND WILL PUNISH YOU. THEY WILL EAT A PIECE OF YOUR BODY. YOU WILL FEEL NO PAIN, AND WILL SUFFER NO INJURY- " Sirius groaned at this point, and Lily raised her eyebrows at him.
"We wanted them to eat them properly, but Moony wouldn't let us," he groaned.
"Too right too," said Remus, but was cut off as James shushed him, and they all tuned back into the howler.
"-BUT THAT PART OF YOUR BODY WILL STAY INSIDE THE MOUTH OF YOUR FRIEND, WHETHER IT BE YOUR HAND, ARM, OR FOOT. THE ONLY WAY TO GET IT OUT IS IF YOU COMPLIMENT ONE OF THE MEMBERS OF GRYFFINDOR HOUSE, OF THE YEAR AND GENDER AS YOURSELF."
"Wait, so Snape-"
"Will have to compliment one of us, yes, Wormtail."
"IF YOU WISH TO GET RID OF YOUR FRIEND, YOU MUST PROVE THAT YOU HAVE MADE A NEW FRIEND BY BUYING THE AFOREMENTIONED GROUP OF PEOPLE A BAR OF HONEYDUKES CHOCOLATE. A LARGE ONE, MIND YOU, NO NEED TO BE STINGY. IF NOT, YOUR FRIENDS WILL LEAVE OF THEIR OWN ACCORD IN THREE WEEKS. HOPE YOU ENJOY YOUR DAY AND YOUR FRIEND. SINCERELY, US."
"So, what are the 'friends'?" asked Lily.
"Patience, Lily-flower," said Sirius. "It's getting there."
As soon as Sirius stopped speaking there was a bang, and the Hall went dark. Suddenly, growls filled the hall; deep, low, frightening growls, almost as if the hall had filled up with lions.
Lily gasped as something brushed across her back.
"Do you like it, Lily-flower?" James whispered in her ear. Lily chuckled.
"Yes, Remus, it is very creative."
"Come on, Potter, I know you didn't think this up."
"That hurts, Evans."
"Aw, so sorry."
"Hate to break you love-birds up, but we should be able to see in a sec," whispered Sirius. Sure enough, the lights snapped back on, and Lily forgot the remark she was about to yell at Sirius for the 'lovebirds' thing.
For sitting behind every Slytherin in the room was a lion.
James grinned as he saw Lily's expression of awe. Today had been amazing; Lily had talked to him, Lily had sat next to him, their prank had worked, Lily had liked their prank. Yes, toady was shaping up to be a very good day indeed.
"Professor Dumbledore!" cried Avery, a seventh year Slytherin. "Professor! Can't you do something about… this?"
"I'm so very sorry," said Dumbledore, rising from his chair, a twinkle in his eye, "but I don't believe I've ever seen this sort of magic before. I don't know the counter-curse. I'll search for it I'm sure, but in the mean time, you'll all just have to be extra nice, to make sure that your… friends… don't eat any part of you."
As the hall erupted with groans from the Slytherin table and somewhat stifled laughter from the others, James was sure he saw Dumbledore wink at the Marauders.
For the next few days, the Slytherins were in turmoil. They had no idea what to do. They could either give the Marauders, (who they all were sure were behind the prank,) the satisfaction of watching them walk around, perpetually terrified, a lion following them at all times. Or, they good send the Gryffindors chocolate, giving the Marauders the satisfaction of seeing the Slytherins bow down to their demands. As a result, the library seemed to be full of Slytherins - and lions - from dawn until dusk, all searching for the counter-curse; but they never found anything.
The Marauders, along with the rest of the school, watched this with amusement. Amazingly, since the prank, Sirius did not announce that he was bored at all. All he had to do was look for a Slytherin, and, voila, instant entertainment. There didn't even need to be any hexing involved. They never expected that they would get any chocolate out of it all; they only included that in the spell so they could watch what would happen; and it was exactly as they had imagined it.
At one point, Evan Rosier, a seventh year Slytherin, let his guard down when a first year Gryffindor accidentally knocked into him in a corridor. Rosier proceeded to yell at the first year, and his lion proceeded to swallow his right arm; coincidentally, that was his wand arm. Rosier had been forced to compliment the Marauders during dinner. Sirius, much to the amusement of the school, made quite a spectacle out of it, and Rosier became the laughing stock of Hogwarts for a day or two. But the lion let go of his arm.
Surprisingly, Lily found herself enjoying the show as well. She laughed when she saw a group of particularly nasty Slytherins, who she remembered cursing one of her friends, Alice Prewett, last year, being teased by a couple first years. Lily also found herself staring more and more at the Marauders as time went by, and realized that maybe she didn't hate them and their pranks as much as she thought she did.
Unfortunately, the three weeks came to an end, and only the Gryffindor first year girls had received a bar of chocolate. The Slytherins woke up one morning to see that their lions had gone, and walked to breakfast in great moods, much to the disappointment of the rest of the school, who had been hoping the prank had somehow gone wrong, and the lions would be around for longer than three weeks. But no such luck.
James watched Lily more than he ever had before, which was saying something. He hadn't seen her laugh so close up before, and he found that it was one of the most wonderful sounds in the world. She also looked a lot prettier when she was laughing than when she was yelling, he noticed.
James decided that he would make Lily Evans laugh more often. He would get her to realize that he was not such a bad guy. He would get her to realize that he loved her.
And from the many times James caught her staring at him, or laughing at his jokes, it seemed that maybe, just maybe, she might be willing to give him a chance.