A/N: Ah, hello. I'm back again ;) I have not abandoned this story and have no intention to; however, I would say that we're nearing the end. Whether it's good news or bad news, there it is! And finally, here is chapter twelve…

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Chapter 12- Dead Goldfish Crackers

          Only one small candle and the dim moonlight illuminated the seventh year girls' dorm. Lily's two best friends, Jessica and Heather, were seated on Lily's bed.

          Heather's hands were white from gripping her robes, and her face was red from laughter. Stray strands of dark brown hair fluttered across her face. Jessica's face was red for a completely different reason; in fact she looked quite discontented. A pink tinge covered her cheeks, looking very uncomfortable there; Jessica was not easily embarrassed.

          "Oh, shut it," she said, narrowing her eyes at Heather. "It really wasn't that funny, you know." She rolled her blue eyes and looked away.

          Heather squeezed her own eyes shut and took a long breath to compose herself. But as soon as she opened them and saw Jessica, another fit of laughter ensued. "I beg – to differ," she said, catching her breath. "You didn't see the look on your face after you realized that you had-" (more disjointed laughter) "-touched some stranger's ass."

          Jessica flushed a darker shade of red. "Well…oh bloody hell. I hope I never see the guy again."
           

          A rustle sounded from the other side of the dorm and the two of them looked up to find Lily emerging from the bathroom. Her dark auburn hair was still damp and pulled back from her face. She noticed her friends seated on her bed and sighed.

           "I suppose my bed is more comfortable than either of yours?"

"Certainly." Heather replied, grinning.

          Lily gave her a weak smile as she approached her dresser.

"You're not still angry with me, are you?" Heather inquired innocently.

          Lily, having a silent battle with the lotion bottle which refused to squirt, replied quietly, "No. Not really. I- what the hell! Ruddy bottle!" She pitched the lotion tube downward, causing lotion to splatter all over the floor. Sighing, she stepped over the mess and added, "I have other people to be angry with."

          "Like James?" Jessica asked, her face having returned to its usual pallor with the change in subject.

          "Bugger that one." Lily said absently, sitting in front of them on her bed. "He's not worth my time." When nobody replied, she continued. "Thinks he can accuse me of things, does he? Well he has a lot to answer for himself, he-"

          "Like what?"

Jessica had spoken too soon, however, and Heather shot her an annoyed glance; Lily suddenly realized that she was talking to her friends and clamped her mouth shut with a quiet, "Not important."

          Lily's whole demeanor seemed contained to Heather. Lily was never absently angry; there was something more than James bothering her. Or maybe, Heather reflected, there was something more to what was going on with James. Either way, the hazel-eyed witch noted the sad sentiment in Lily's eyes and smiled reassuringly at her friend. Lily fiddled with a strand of her long hair and frowned.

          Heather, intent upon cheering Lily up (if only to aggravate her later), grinned and said, "Guess what Jessica did just-" But she was cut off as Jessica promptly knocked her over with a pillow in the face.

~*~

            "Remember, be careful with your Engorging Charms; if cast the wrong way, they can be very painful," Professor Flitwick said loudly, moving among the seventh year Gryffindors and Ravenclaws.

          Jessica and Heather were looking rather hilarious, having cast several of the charms on each other already. Jessica's left ear was five times too large and Heather's nose was looking a little disproportional. Meanwhile, Sirius was yelping and clutching at his right hand; Peter was his partner and obviously the charm had been cast wrong, for it looked painful.

          "And what is the practical application of this?" a Ravenclaw inquired with a supercilious expression.

          James smirked and said, "There goes the fun-sucker again."

"What?" Remus turned towards him, trying to hide his lips, which were about three times larger.

          James took one look at the werewolf and burst out laughing. "Your- mouth-"

          Lily glanced up at him, taking in his mirthful expression and inescapably messy black hair, and glared. It had been a week already and they had not forgiven each other. Twirling her wand between her fingers, she pointed it casually at James' head and said the incantation. James moved before the yellow light hit him, and the spell hit Luke instead, square in the forehead. Lily had always been very good at charms; Luke's head swelled five times its normal size. Against her will, Lily's face broke into a grin.

          Sirius momentarily forgot his throbbing hand and glanced up. "Fits him well, doesn't it?" he nodded to himself. "Good one, Lily."

          Heather turned around to look at Lily, causing the redhead to laugh; her friend's right eye was looking way too big. "You look like a Picasso portrait," Lily smirked.

          "A what?" Jessica said. "Picato?"

Lily sighed. "Nevermind."

          "Muggle artist." Remus supplied, forgetting his big lips. Everyone began to laugh when they saw him, causing his cheeks to flame. "Bugger it, I don't like this charm. I'm asking Flitwick what the counter charm is."          He set off to find the professor, and Sirius couldn't help but call after him, "Be careful not to swallow anyone on your way over!"

          Heather's eye was now very bloodshot. She rubbed it furiously and exclaimed, "It's so much easier to poke yourself in the eye with a wand when it's this big!"

          Lily grinned and looked away when James tried to meet her eye for the hundredth time that day. She had no intention of making it up with him just yet.

          Hours later, the four Marauders and three girls were seated at the end of the Gryffindor table, their faces restored to normalcy.

          "Would you pass the potatoes, big lips?" Sirius asked casually, looking at Remus. Remus' eyes narrowed and he ignored his friend.

          "We're out," James told him, pointing to the empty bowl. "And where's big head anyway?" He was, of course, referring to Luke, who had not yet made an appearance at the dinner table.

          "Dunno." Jessica said. "But here's to hoping that he doesn't show."

Sirius growled something about pigs and potatoes, and left his seat in search of more food. James was staring at a bag of cheese goldfish that Lily was holding, a snack that she saved for random occasions.

          "What are those?" he asked.

"Goldfish crackers." Lily replied, not looking up at him.

          "Can I see one?"

Lily supplied the bag, but refused to make any kind of eye contact with him. Tentatively, James reached in and pulled out a small orange cracker.

          "Interesting things these muggles think up." James said, examining the goldfish. Lily snorted. James suddenly glanced at Sirius' glass of water and a thought crossed his mind. After glancing up to make sure that Sirius was still questing after the potatoes, he casually dropped the goldfish cracker into his friend's water. It floated to the bottom. Peter snickered.

          "Very mature." Lily commented, rolling her eyes and snatching her bag of crackers back.

          Jessica glanced up and spotted the glass of water now sporting a fish cracker, and burst out laughing. "Aw, come on Lily, you have to admit that's amusing."

          "I hope he tries to drink it." Heather said, watching carefully as Sirius made his way back to the table.

          James was furiously trying to contain his laughter when his best friend seated himself again with a pleased smile and a plateful of potatoes.

          "What?" Sirius asked, frowning. He raised his glass of water to drink, glanced down at it, and then gave a start. "What did you do to my water?!" he demanded, glaring at James.

          "Nothing at all."

Sirius peered into his cup. "What is this, anyway?"
          "A goldfish cracker," Lily said, holding up her orange bag.

Sirius smirked. "It is rather funny looking, now that I think about it. Can I see that bag, Lily?"
          Sighing, Lily handed him her crackers, resolving to never bring food that was new to them to dinner again. Sirius grinned and dumped the rest of the crackers into his glass. Half of them sunk, and the other half floated near the top.

          "Interesting…" both he and James were too busy staring into the cup to notice when Luke walked up to the table. The blonde looked over their shoulders and spotted the glass of water filled with goldfish crackers.

          "What are those?" he asked, scratching his head.

"Goldfish." Remus said, snickering.

          "Are they dead?" Luke said.

The seven Gryffindors stared up at Luke, wondering if he could possibly be serious. For a long moment, nobody said anything.

          And then, sealing his eternal idiocy, Luke added, "Why'd you kill 'em?"

          At this, they all burst out laughing, leaving Luke to become confused. He smiled uncertainly, not quite sure what they were laughing at but pretending that he did.

          "I think-" James said in between bouts of laughter, "that I'm going to piss my pants."

          "I- think – I already did." Sirius clutched at his chest.

Jessica swiped at her bright blue eyes, which were leaking tears of mirth. "Well I guess that means that I won't be smacking your ass anytime soon."

          Lily buried her face in her hands, laughing uproariously. "That has to be the funniest thing that's happened in awhile." She commented after regaining her composure.

          Even James couldn't disagree with her there.

~*~

          Lily and her friends, having sobered from dinner earlier that evening, were seated in the common room. Lily was leaning over a large book with a quill in her hand.

          "Lily, that essay isn't due until next week," Jessica pointed out, playing with a strand of her blonde hair.

          "Yeah, I know," the redhead replied absently, biting her lip in thought.

          Heather studied her friend. She and Jessica had not gotten a chance lately to try to get Lily to admit her relationship with James, since Lily had not been going to meet him anywhere. Heather was becoming a little discouraged; if the two of them never made up, how would she ever squeeze the truth out of Lily? They had to be reconciled somehow…

          James entered the room, trailed by Sirius and Remus. Peter was nowhere to be seen. The three boys seated themselves in chairs around the girls. James and Lily's eyes met momentarily, before they both looked away angrily.

          Heather, feeling that no time was better than the present to fix things, said, "What happened between you and James, Lily?"

          Lily's emerald eyes snapped up, her cheeks tinged pink. "Absolutely nothing," she spat, glaring at James.

          "Right," James mocked. "You're just always right, Lily."

Jessica scooted away from Lily when she slammed the book in her lap shut. "Don't try to shove this on me, you arrogant prat! I didn't ask for your sympathy!"
          "Sympathy? But I thought-" Jessica was cut off, however, when James leap from his chair, glaring down at Lily.

          "Why don't we just tell them all about it Lily? Come on, let's tell them what-"

          "Don't you dare, James." She said in a low growl, her eyes flashing.

"Let's just snog and be happy!" Jessica tried, waving her arms about. It was no use, though, James and Lily only had eyes for each other; and very angry eyes they were.

          "Everyone," James said in a loud voice, watching Lily's expression, "Lily here and I- oof."

          Lily had launched herself onto him, causing them both to topple over. She sat on top of his stomach, one hand clamped over his mouth and the other holding one of his arms down. Her legs were situated on either side of him. "I warned you," she growled, her face close to his.

          "What was that, Prongs? You're a little muffled." Sirius cupped a hand to his ear.

          Lily and James didn't even hear him, because they were too busy exchanging heated whispers. After a moment, Lily dragged James to his feet and tugged him towards the portrait hole, announcing to everyone that they would be back later.

          "Why is that guy staring at me?" Jessica suddenly exclaimed, causing everyone to look over at her.

          Heather swung her head around and snickered. "I do believe that you smacked his ass a week or so ago."

          Jessica flushed and mumbled, "I didn't recognize him."

Sirius exclaimed, "What?!"

          "Oh, nothing." Heather assured him. "If it makes you feel better, she meant to smack your ass, not his."
          This only confused Sirius more, judging by his expression. Heather stared at the portrait hole and said, "I wonder where they're off to now."

          "Probably snogging." Remus said, looking up from his book.

Jessica stared at him. "You know?" she asked in an amazed tone.

          He looked confused. "Know what?"

"Now see what you've done!" Heather shook her head at Jessica. "You've gone off and let out the secret!"

          "No really, know what?" Sirius leaned forward expectantly. Sighing, Heather began to relate the tale of when they had overheard Lily and James snogging one day. Meanwhile, Jessica was blushing bright red as the guy whose ass she had smacked winked at her.

~*~

          Outside the portrait hole, Lily pulled James to the side of the corridor. "They know!" she whispered vehemently.

          "What?" James asked, staring at her.

"They know about us! They must, the way that Heather- oh, I could just hit them!" James backed up a few steps before she grabbed onto his arm again. "I'm not finished with you yet!"

          "How do you know that they know?"

"It's not important," Lily hissed, "they just know."

          "So what?" James asked, flinching when she looked like she was going to hit him.

          "And you almost told them!" She placed her hands on her hips and James suddenly felt very small.

          "Hey, don't blame everything on me! You're the one with problems!"

"Just because I don't trust guys anymore – urgh!" she let out a frustrated yell.

          A moment of silence ensued, and then James softened slightly. "I'm sorry Lily."

          "What?" her head whipped around towards him, green eyes fastening on his face.

          "For everything. I didn't know how to take it when you told me about that guy and, well, I guess I sort of understand the way you're acting now…"

          "Well I don't." she slumped against the wall. "I don't understand it at all. I'm such an idiot." She rubbed her eyes. "I should be the one apologizing James."

          He smiled softly and pulled her into a hug. "Let's just forget about it. I've missed our late night snogging sessions too much."

          "Even though my horrible friends made me do research…and now I know why! Bloody little sneaks!"

          Curiosity got the better of James; he decided to take a chance and asked her, "Does this mean that we can be officially together now? That we can tell everyone?" He pulled away slightly to watch her reaction.

          She bit her lip in consideration, something he had always found cute. "No."

          "What?" he exclaimed. There was no chance in hell that he was letting this all start over again.

          "No. We're not letting Jessica and Heather off that easy," she replied, smirking. "They don't know that we know about them knowing. Two can play this game."

          James groaned, getting the feeling that he was going to be dragged into another one of Lily Evans' brilliant ideas without his consent.

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A/N: I know, I owe you readers a much longer chapter after that wait, and I'm sorry. In any case, I hope this chapter was acceptable enough and as I said earlier, this story is nearing the end of its life. Oh yes, and that bit about the goldfish really did happen to my friends and I (only it was a lunch lady and not Luke). You all probably didn't find it very funny, but oh, if you had been there…I think we all laughed for an entire twenty minutes. The funniest part was the lady's accent (hick accent, I live in Louisville and there are still some accents to be found around the city), and she was absolutely serious about the goldfish being real!

Elven Dagger- Thank you again. Sirius' ass is indeed always an amusing subject. KristiexxNguyen- I'm sorry, I do tend to leave chapters at annoying places ;) And yes, I'll email you once I post this. Remy's Gurl- Hola! Glad to hear that you liked it and I hope you've been kind enough to come back and read another chapter. LJstagflower4e/JCtigerwolf4e- Lol, thanks. I happened to find it pretty funny as well, but that's just me and my twisted sense of humor for you. Carolinus Took- Maybe you're right, she might have had no more use for Sirius. But I dunno, I think that even though he's gone now, he'll still have some sort of part to play in the rest of the story. *Shrug* Perhaps not. Anyway, thanks again! PeRkieGuRL- As always, thanks very much! If I may ask, which one of my stories is your favorite? Not that it matters, I just like to know what works and what doesn't. Shortnsassy- Aw, thank you! I'll bet it was life-altering, lol. At least, I have learned during the course of writing it that it is wrong to smack unsuspecting guys' asses, for things might go wrong. Littlex1- Well, I have three stories that I'm currently working on. And I'm glad you haven't given up on me updating yet, thanks very much! K[r]cube- Lol, thank you. I get some sort of inane satisfaction out of being called evil mwuhaha! Kylaya- Nah, they wouldn't divorce. Lol, if anything, Lily would push James back into the marriage. Thanks much ;) Catherine24- Really? Some people have found that aspect of this fic a little annoying, because Lily is so persistent about it (hating guys 'cause of her past). In any case, thank you! M*andy, luvin yah- Changed your penname, did you? Well, you got your wish- they're back together again…for now…Lily Among the Thorns-89- Thanks so much, as usual. I'm glad you like how the story is turning out. Ayse- I'm happy you find it funny! Not everyone shares my sense of humor, so thank you =) Alex'z Death Chic- Nah, I don't think you're weird. I'm the weirdest person I know, anyway. Lol, and I'm rooting for Luke's undying stupidity too. Akili Daniels- I agree, I love having them conflict along the way. Stories where the two of them have no problems from the moment they hook up onward are just irritating. Arguing is fun! Or at least making them do it is. PalmTreeBlood- Lol, glad you like it ;) FireBringer- Thank you! StarFire1989- Thanks for taking the time to read all of my stories! And please update  yours =) FireSeeker- Lol, when I got that review email, I only saw the 'it sucked' part until I scrolled down. Anyway, thanks for leaving me a review! A.M.bookworm247- As usual, thank you. And you don't have to worry about reviews, I understand when there just isn't time =) SCUBAchk- Aw, thank you for reviewing it. Sally- Heh, I always loved the word bloody. I'm such an American lol. Lexygirl0- Well here's more, even if it's been forever. Thanks again. Theresa- The ending will be along soon, I promise! Ali- Of course I'll update…and it's the same day you reviewed, too ;)

A/N: Why am I so tired? Err, we had a snow day too. Well, more of an ice day really, but you know. It was awesome =) With any luck, it'll all freeze over again overnight and we might get a delay in the morning…Either way, my math book is looking more ominous by the minute, so I think I'd better stop rambling here. Thanks to you all one more time, and hopefully chapter 13 will be up soon!

~Emily~