The Opposite of Sex

By: Oy! Angelina

Beta by: jkit10

It was the last full moon of James, Sirius, Remus, and Peter's 6th Year. The night was fair and still which meant Moony's howls would pierce the night and serenity of Hogsmeade wide open. The Shrieking Shack groaned under the weight of the boys, Remus the only one who had yet to alter his shape. It was a precaution they took, having Prongs, Padfoot, and Wormtail's change over into their animage forms well before Remus set into his own transformation. It helped to narrow the odds that something might happen to leave one of them painfully human as Remus was anything but.

This was an odd time for Remus as he always felt even more a wild, mad man. After all, any outsider would find him talking to a pacing stag, bounding dog, and lazily twitching rat to be a more than off-color choice in company to carry on with. Of course standing about in silence for the long moments seemed just as ridiculous so Remus would talk at his friends and they would to their best to reply with Padfoot's showy tricks, Prongs stomping out one for yes and two for no, and Wormtail twittering something that passed for language.

"You know I almost miss this place every summer holiday," Remus spoke into the dimming room. "It'll sound queer but I feel comfortable here. Rather safe. Probably because I know everyone's safe from me."

Wormtail squeaked something in a meaningful pitch that Remus took for sympathy. He waved it off.

"No, I'm not feeling sorry for myself. I'm just saying my thoughts is all," Remus assured earnestly.

Sirius snorted or sneezed, producing a puff of dull colored dust. Pawing at his nose he shook his pelt a bit and began bounding around Remus madly. Remus didn't find this to be all that different from what Sirius probably would have done, as though he could physically raise his spirits by raising a cloud of dust. Remus waved a thicker patch of the dusty particles away from his face.

"Bloody hell, Padfoot, give it a rest," he insisted, stifling a cough. "Chase your tail somewhere else if you must."

Padfoot backed something smart sounding back at Remus until he went quiet and rigid. His nose pointed into the air and took long whiffs of the spaces between the airborne filth. Moving as though he caught sent of a rabbit, Padfoot clamored up the stairs onto the upper floors where he could be heard stomping over head. Remus sighed as the literal dust began to settle and looked over to Prongs.

"Do you know what that's about?" asked Remus.

Prongs shrugged his antlers.

"Should we be investigating?" Remus followed up.

Prongs gave it only a light thought before he shook his antlers and yawned a bit.

"Well I wager if it had been someone squatting in the shack Padfoot would have made more of a fuss and one of the rest of us would have probably picked up on it as well," Remus wagered calmly as he strolled over to the boarded up slats of the window and peered up towards the sky.

The sun was still finishing setting and the moon was close to the horizon. Remus felt it coming, like a genuine inevitability not unlike sleep, hunger, aging, and one day death.

Deciding to take his clashing and pounding back to the ground level with the rest of them, Remus looked over to Padfoot who was wagging his tail as excited as a dog who had just been tossed a stick. Straightening his canine form slightly, Remus's eyebrows rose as he noticed Sirius casting off his animagus transfiguration.

"Oh. . .wise. . .Merlin. . ." Sirius gasped as he reverted to his usual human form, broad grin and all.

"Padfoot, what are you doing?" Remus demanded nervously as he squinted through the slants of the window to see how much sunlight they had left. He guessed about ten-minutes at best by the coppery light seeping through.

James abandoned his own form along with Peter who was never one to be left out.

"What the hell's gotten into you?" James asked his best friend as Sirius was bouncing up and down pointing at Remus excitedly. He looked truly torn between blurting something out or just collapsing into wide-eyed barrels of laughters.

"You sly wolf you. . ." Sirius all but giggled the words.

Remus's eyes went wide as he stared at Sirius with a slight blush as he could take a very educated guess as to what it was Sirius had caught sent of upstairs that had riled him, particularly after his innuendo. His mouth hung slightly open before he had the sense to use it to form words.

"Sirius. . ." there was an edge of warning in Remus's tone, ". . .just shut up."

Sirius stopped bouncing and grinning briefly. He stared at his friend, obviously put off by his snappish demeanor.

"What? Why?" he asked in sincere innocence, "I'm thrilled for you and her mate enough to do back flips!"

James and Peter threw one another curious stares.

"Her?" Peter questioned James as though he might know.

James was about to shrug when he was suddenly catching up with the conversation. His mouth formed a large "O" as he felt himself turning to stare at Remus involuntarily. Remus met eyes with James. They looked as though they were on fire as Remus focused at him. His entire frame was tense and he appeared to be laboring his breath. His mouth kept fighting to form a snarl.

"It's nothing to be embarrassed about! It's grand news! You and Arabella . . ." Sirius began before he started grinning like an idiot again, ". . . well, you know, I imagine you were there and all. . ."

"Well thank you Sirius," Remus said darkly as he turned back to the boy in question, "any other of my personal secrets you care to poke at until all eyes are on it?"

See this was heading straight for a row, James stepped into the conversation bodily.

"Remus, he meant nothing by it," James attempted to mediate, "honestly we don't think any less of you for it or anything. We're really just happy and you don't need to feel like you have to hide this sort of thing from your friends."

Peter's eyes kept darting from one boy to another in the room so fast that he feared he would soon grow dizzy.

"What's going on?" Peter whined densely, showing the ill effects of infrequent dating.

Ignoring Peter's ignorance, Remus thrust an accusing finver in the direction of Sirius.

"But that's my decision or hers ! Not his !" Remus replied sharply.

Sirius's expression showed that he was starting to appreciate the severity of how much he had offended Remus. His expression began to screw up, showing how hard his mind was working to come up with something to say to smooth things over without reinserting his foot in his mouth.

"Remus, truly, I didn't know that you'd be so touchy about this – " Sirius began.

"So it's my fault now?" Remus growled, cutting him off.

James's eyes went wide behind his spectacles.

"Sirius, this is not the time to be agitating him," warned James, stealing a glance at the window.

"I'm not trying to! I'm trying to apologize!" insisted Sirius desperately, "Remus, I swear, I wasn't about teasing you. It was meant as a congratulation, being the first of us and all! Good on you, mate!"

"What did Remus do first?" Peter carried on, whipping his head about waiting for someone to answer him.

Sirius gave him a short show of applause before, Remus let out a deep throated growl and snatched the front of Sirius's shirt so fast he didn't even have time to stop clapping.

"Get. Out. Now." Remus ordered through his slightly more pronounced teeth.

"What?" Sirius protested.

"The lot of you – OUT!" Remus clarified letting go of Sirius. "I'm liable to kill someone if they stay around me as I am now."

"What did I do?" moaned Peter. "For that matter, what did Sirius do?"

"Are you sure about that, Remus?" James challenged. "You don't really want to be here alone all night, right?"

"What I don't want, James, is to murder one of you because the prat here got me all worked up before my change. Now, shove off," Remus ended the conversation on an irritable note as he stormed into another room of the shack. James pushed his hand through his hair and let off an exasperated sigh while Sirius looked to be attempting to pull out his own black locks. Peter just gapped blankly at everyone.

"BUT I DIDN'T MEAN ANYTHING BY IT!" Sirius moaned into his hands in frustration.

"I know, mate, you just don't think sometimes. Actually I'm beginning to wonder if you ever do," James patted him on the back supportively. "Let's clear off and back to the castle then."

Entering into the tunnel, the three boys walked on in silence for a bit. Sirius appeared to be a little to busy kicking himself and Peter was pouting like an ignored child, leaving it to James to start things up if they were planning on speaking ever again.

"So you what then? Smelled, um, them?" James asked Sirius curiously.

"Pretty much. Her and him all over one of the upstairs rooms. I'd say it was just snogging but I really couldn't tell where one scent picked up and the other left off," Sirius explained, with a tap to his nose, "anyway I was just happy for him though. Him and Arabella are keeping secrets or having rows one minute and getting caught in empty classrooms in the next. I was just glad they were getting closer and not drifting apart. I didn't know it was supposed to be a secret that they shagged."

Peter's jaw dropped into his chest as the conversation was finally spelled out for him.

"Since when did Remus get shagged?" demanded Peter.

James rolled his eyes, Sirius narrowed his as he shot his hand out and gave Peter a hard shove.

"Git," spat Sirius.

Low, unintelligible sounds hummed in the dungeons of Hogwarts castle. The dim torches and dull embers within the fireplace could only reveal writhing forms in even their best efforts. Perhaps a name had been said; whether it belonged to a person, a god, or was even a name at all was uncertain as it had passed the lips in a purr. The silhouetted frames appeared to mutually shudder, bones locking, muscles pulsing, and fingers marring tender flesh.

Aaron forced his mouth over Mary's to keep her from calling out. She was near senseless in her ecstasy and Aaron was only just slightly cognitive of his own.

They were in the Slytherin common room, not the most private of places but then there wouldn't be that extra flavor inherent to the possibility of being caught. Feeling their pulses and breaths settle into a more evened pace, Aaron Lestrange and Mary Tudor held one another intertwined amidst the shadows of their surroundings and the sweat of their friction. After a few indulged moments, they began to reapply the attire they had discarded in favor of coital acts and returned to the other's embrace.

"I love you," Mary said as though she had arrived at a conclusion.

Aaron smelled her hair affectionately.

"You're everything to me. I'd live, die, and kill for you. And once we're of age and out of this school we'll get married," he promised.

"You've been saying that since 4th Year," Mary reminisced, "I had thought it was just you being a romantic about your first shag. That you assumed I needed to hear those things just to keep giving you a toss."

"If I wanted to toss someone I would have done it with Wilkes or Copia or some other witch from some other house. I loved you. From the moment I saw you sorted into Slytherin after me, I loved you and every moment past that just made that all the more deeper and even more unfathomable for me to not have you return such a feeling," whispered Aaron.

"You might have had a shot with Copia," informed Mary smoothly as she traced a finger over his leg, "she confessed to me sometime during 3rd Year she fancied you."

"What did you say?" Aaron asked.

"And incantation for a boil curse," recalled Mary.

Aaron smiled into her hair.

"Hmm. I had just though she had broken out horribly that week," he stated. "Still, I was no better. You're the most beautiful girl of our Year. It was maddening to know that other eyes were on you. I could have blinded them all for watching the sway of your raven hair, gawking over your ivory flesh, or daring to meet your soul-piercing eyes. They all wanted you, none more so than me, and none of them deserved you more so than me."

"Very true, my darling," Mary cooed as she settled comfortably into the arms of her lover. "You belong to me, I belong to you. It's destiny that we rule together. In this House, in this school, in this life, and in Hell after."

"I don't find you to be damned," assured Aaron, "I think of you as my dark angel."

Mary smiled into the dark before she smiled up at Aaron.

"You were always the kinder of the both of us," she said contently.

"Do you want children?" he questioned out of the blue.

"I'm not particularly maternal so probably not," Mary shook her head.

Aaron nodded, playing with her hair lazily like a cat with a sting.

"I wasn't much interested in the idea myself either. I have a brother, let him carry on the family line. I want nothing to come between us, nothing to steal a moment of our time or a flicker of our emotions for one another," Aaron said in utter honesty.

"Not even our own child of flesh and blood? A union of our perfect traits and talents?" Mary pressed mildly.

"I fear I would kill it," confessed Aaron coldly. "If not for the pain it caused you in the act of birthing it, then I would for its demands upon your attentions and love. I can't stand to have competition with you, even my own child."

"I love your devotion to me. It's so poetic and pure," Mary breathed with satisfaction.

"What can I say? You draw it out of me, my wicked muse. I am enthralled by you, I need or desire nothing but you," he murmured.

"If only everyone could be as happy as us," sighed Mary.

Looking to one another, their lips met again in the dark. Tender and enrapturing, Mary and Aaron knew that this was a love that was once to a lifetime as no one had ever so perfectly fit with the other and if they suspected there were, in fact, additional options available the other would probably kill off their competition. It was just in their natures and it was unconditionally accepted as part of the reason they were so hopelessly in love.

Jealousy and possessiveness were rarely applied to the emotion of love but they still denoted it as what could truly inspire such dark demands if not the need to protect something just that precious?

It was several hours past daybreak and Remus was still within the Shrieking Shack. He had found a spot against a peeling wall and invested all his energies into brooding. Halfway through the night he decided that he shouldn't be too cross with Sirius since, in spite of his astoundingly thoughtless nature at times, there was no malice to his intent.

Privately, Remus figured that he should have just told Sirius and the others about where he and Arabella's relationship had reached. Not that he owed them any explanations or a single scrap of information about his personal life, but Remus learned long ago that he could trust Sirius, James, and Peter with bigger secrets than this. They were his truest friends and Remus felt a bit ashamed that he had kept this from them for over a week.

Shuffling feet over the graying wood pulled Remus's eyes up. Arabella stood in the doorway of the room he was in, James's invisibility cloak tucked beneath her arm with the soil of the tunnel pathway clinging to ends of her clothing and hair. She had a rather concerned look to her pretty round face.

"Well there are only two things that can get you this blue, Mister Lupin. One is Sirius Black and the other is when people make their pets wear people clothes," Arabella sighed knowingly as she approached her boyfriend. "And since I don't see any monkeys wearing suspenders I have to ask what the Wankingest Wanker who ever did Wank has done now?"

Remus glanced his amber eyes up to Arabella before returning to the dusty floor. He loathed telling Arabella what was bothering him but knew there was little chance in keeping the secret contained. It would eventually get into circulation somehow and he'd rather Arabella know about it and brace herself for the possible scrutiny rather than be shocked with it some afternoon in a girls' bathroom or by a jeering comment in a hall.

"He figured it out. . ." Remus said softly. "I didn't tell him, but he figured it out and announced it to James and Peter. Which means Lily probably knows because she's seeing James and whoever else Peter saw fit to inform."

Arabella sucked in a bit of breath and blushed. She had a prickly feeling in her neck at the thought of being the subject of more gossip than the odd girl with the cat fixation. Although she had never really considered herself to have much of a reputation one way or another, the last thing Arabella wanted was to be labeled as some kind of floosy or other less generous adjectives.

"Well. . .I suppose it was bound to happen," she sighed herself. "It's just one of those things, you know? Whether or not it's actually true, people will eventually just assume such things if you're seeing someone long enough or carrying on really familiar with them."

Remus groaned and hid his face slightly in the folds of his arm.

"I know. . .I know that's how it is to be a young witch and wizard couple in school, but, I liked it being our secret," he confessed as he stole a glance at her. "I liked it just being known by us. . .it being about us."

Arabella smiled as she walked over to her boyfriend. She settled next to him on the floor and rested her golden, curled head on his shoulder.

"It is about us," she informed him with unshakable certainty. "It doesn't matter if all the people in the world know about us or we just disappear altogether. No one will ever know what it's like to be us and completely absorbed in this feeling. Every love is unique and tailored to the people in it. In a way, it's not fair for us to expect other people to understand."

"Just wish wasn't suddenly public domain," replied Remus.

"Perhaps we should consider celibacy then," Arabella shrugged helpfully.

"Pardon?" he stared blankly at her.

"Well unless you have a time-turned handy to take it all back and if you insist on moaning and groaning about it the only sensible thing to do is stop altogether," smiled Arabella with a playful shove in his direction.

"That would certainly be an effective plot to make me die, yes," agreed Remus, cracking a smile.

Arabella shook her head and clicked her tongue at his response.

"You've become so woefully male on me now that you believe that survival hinges upon how readily you're shagged," chided Arabella.

"It's not so much about survival as it is making life all the more bearable," specified Remus.

And just like that Remus felt worlds and lifetimes better. He unfolded his arms to put one around Arabella as he kissed her forehead.

"You know I love you," he said.

"Well I imagine you can't help yourself," Arabella kissed him back.

"Just barely," he assured.

"…and after he brought my mother into it I had no choice but to jump him," Sirius finished explaining to Winifred from the low ridding ledge they had perched themselves upon.

"Well it sounds reasonable enough when you say it like that. When my housemates told me that you had took to pummeling a snowman I thought you simply had rage issues," replied Winifred thoughtfully.

"Oh I do, however; they are entirely warranted I assure you," nodded Sirius.

Drafts of warm spring air found their way around the columns as Winifred and Sirius were taking a break from the tedium and tribulations attached with impending finals. Complaining that the musty air of the library provoked illiteracy, Sirius persuaded Winifred to take a breather away from books and scrolls. Winifred offered little in the way of resistance as her usual turn in of marks certainly didn't have her campaigning for the spot of Head Girl.

"Anyway, the Yule Ball was a lark. Remus made a move on Arabella while James and Lily stopped beating around the bloody bush with their song and dance," Sirius concluded, "though for the life of me I still don't know why she went on the arm of Snape. Did she lose a sodding bet or something?"

"Must all your stories end with how Severus irritated you and you retaliated in some astonishingly idiotic and/or juvenile way?" questioned Winifred in a bland tone.

"Nah, only the interesting ones," Sirius smirked. He took an inspecting glance to the face of his watch and made a scowl. "Bugger, we've been out here the better part of an hour. We should probably get back to studying."

The Gryffindor boy and his female Slytherin companion climbed to their feet while pulling their school bags to their sides. Reluctantly venturing in the direction of the Library and the relentless hushing of Madam Pince, Winifred and Sirius walked side by side and exchanged the occasional word but gave no other impression that the were together. Casually, Sirius put his pale eyes on Winifred like a puzzle he was stuck on and expected someone to come along with the answer to keep things moving along.

As far as Sirius was concerned (and informed) he and Winifred were dating, courting, or whatever once cared to call it. The point was they were expected to spend time together, snog on occasion, and grow angered if someone else does encroaches upon either of these domains. Of course at a glance no one would know that. Winifred's personality was a cool one, Sirius knew that heading into his pursuit of her, still she seemed to treat him with the same indifference she bestowed upon all others. Part of Sirius wondered if this was her appeal to him, the notion that he might crack through the frosty exterior and get a reaction from the blasé interior. There was something validating about being the first and only person to get Winifred Wilkes to warm up, but Sirius tried to think of better rationalizations for them being a couple.

If this was his only motivation (and bugger him if he knew hers) then Sirius saw this less as a relationship and more of a new game for Slytherins and Gryffindors to play with one another.

Sirius opened his mouth to say something. Possibly it would have been another humorless story to try and get a laugh off Winifred. It might have even been posing the question of whether Winifred was embarrassed to be formally associated with him. Whatever Sirius might have said was lost to a tempest of thoughts when he spied a per usual smug Snape walking toward himself and Winifred.

The gaunt and pale Slytherin's black eyes fell between Sirius and Winifred in a contemptuous manner that he didn't even bother to sugarcoat. Sirius felt his face twist its features to return something of a similar effect. Still Snape didn't look particularly inclined to intercept them and, at worst, would probably just make a snarky comment at Sirius or both he and Winifred's expense.

What Sirius hadn't figured on was Winifred suddenly grabbing hold of his arm, coiling both her hands around it in a cuddling fashion. Sirius turned to Winifred and saw her throw her cousin a deliberate sort of expression. Refraining from commenting just that moment, Sirius took note of how Snape bristled before inventing a whole new category of hateful expressions. As soon as he and Winifred successfully crossed paths with Snape and continued to walk on in opposing directions, Sirius leaned close to Winifred's ear.

"Correct me if I'm mistaken but are you trying to infuriate Snape?" he asked.

Winifred offered him a shrug that suggested an innocence that Sirius was quite confident she did not possess outside the incarnations of deception and mockery.

"Does it bother you if I am?" answered Winifred with a new question.

Sirius furrowed his brow.

"Is this the only reason you're with me?" the inquiries pressed on.

"Don't be ridiculous," said Winifred, "If I was looking to simply annoy my cousin, it would be a far simpler means to an end to just spit in his potion projects rather than run about with a Gryffindor."

She gave his arm an encouraging squeeze.

"Just think of it as us doing more things as a couple," she advised.

Sirius required little else in the way of reassurance with this and soon wore a wolf's grin.

"So we're merely riling Snape because it suits our fancy to?" Sirius sought to confirm.

"More or less," agreed Winifred, despite the hint in her voice that this was something of an underestimation.

Not, at the moment, curious as to what her specific motivations were, Sirius decided to bask in the golden opportunity as it was presented. Stopping dead center in the hall, he turned a bit and bellowed behind him.

"OY! SNAPE!" Sirius called out.

Snape halted his own pace to turn around, along with the other dozen or so students sharing the corridor as well. The moment his black eyes were back on both he and Winifred, Sirius threw his arms around her dramatically with a manic grin.

"Just so you don't have to spend your nights tossing and turning over the nature of all this…" Sirius trailed off before he pulled Winifred into a deep throated kiss.

Sirius heard Winifred's muffled voice (quite possibly words of protest), squeals of disbelief and amusement from onlookers, and most distinctive, the sound of an unfamiliar hex from Snape's general direction.

James was almost relieved when Sirius informed him of his intent to study with Wilkes since he was hoping to talk with Remus seriously and knew that their mutual, tactless friend might agitate things further with his mere presence. Of course Peter probably would not be of much help either. Not that the boy intended any harm, personal, rather he had a habit of being clueless and James feared such an ignorance would only make Remus all the more defensive. James made an effort most of the morning to let Peter know that he wished to be left alone however the other boy was proving to be rather thick. James, ultimately, had the feign napping for about three hours before Peter finally stopped chatting with his unresponsive friend and mutter something about playing wizarding chess with some Ravenclaws before leaving the dormitories.

So as not to appear conspicuous himself, James pulled out his school books and attempted to read up on a few of his subjects when Remus entered into the room. Ducking behind Arithmancy, James offered a quick hello as if nothing was different and pretended to read from the book. If Remus had, in fact, heard him, he offered no indication of it to James as he walked over to his wardrobe and found fresh clothes for the day. After he had reread the same page four times over, James decided it might be alright to speak up however Remus beat him to the chore

"Where are the others?" he questioned.

"Off. I don't reckon they'll be back soon," James assured.

"I see," Remus did not press the issue as he finished with his buttons and walked in the direction of the door. James bit into his lip, fearing his opportunity was about to walk out on him and shut his book rather audibly.

"Remus, I was wondering if we could talk about all this," announced James in a hopeful tone.

Remus paused long enough to bristle. It was evident that this was not a topic he favored.

"Oh I think Sirius carried on just fine for everyone, James," muttered Remus gruffly. "Now if you want some fantastic tales of carnal theatrics, I suggest you hang about the boys' bathroom for a bit because I'm not about to cheapen one of the most meaningful things I've done in my life for your immediate entertainment."

James threw his hands up as though to block the comments or any other physical manifestations of Remus's indignation he saw fit to chuck in his direction. He had expected Remus to be defensive about the subject and James honestly couldn't blame him if their situations had been reversed. Still he didn't want Remus assuming that he was just looking for some randy tale to snicker and make crude remarks to.

"I didn't mean like that!" James insisted with a red ting to his skin. "Honestly! The last thing I want to know is who was where doing whatever! You both. . .that's entirely your business and I respect that."

"Then what do you want to discuss per se since you're the one bringing it up?" snapped Remus.

James fell silent rather abruptly before he shifted his eyes off Remus and onto a non-specific point in the room. He felt the words chocking in his throat as James Potter was a young man used to having all the answers or being able to fake his way through them. But there really were just some things that you simply did not know off hand or could learn from books. It was the sort of life experience that you either had actually embraced or, in the least, have the sense to ask another about it.

"I was just hoping to talk," James replied quietly, as if admitting some pained secret.

Remus's features softened slightly as he released a loud exhale

"Oh," he said flatly.

Always the most somber of the bunch, there was times that James saw Remus as the wet-blanket of the Marauders who was nagging them with morals and logic that James, Peter, and Sirius were fine doing without. Those were the silly moments that all bled together in one big happy memory in the mind of James Potter. The other moments, the ones that defined and in many ways gave shape to the other moments that would follow later on, James saw Remus as an older brother type. A little bit wiser, a little bit more worldly, and pointing out the pitfalls to those who would tread in his footsteps.

James saw his friend in the latter role at this moment.

"Look Moony, I'll understand if you tell me to sod off for this, particularly since it's really not the sort of thing proper chaps should be discussing but. . . well should I know anything about it? Something I might not figure out on my own?" asked James awkwardly, raking his hair so violently with his hand that he worried he might go prematurely bald.

"If I could give you one bit of advice, Prongs, I'd tell you to wait for a moment when you know that anything you and Lily do will be the opposite of sex," said Remus.

"I'm sorry, I'm not sure I'm following that," James confessed, privately wondering if there was some sort of secret lingo that only people who lost their virginity could speak.

"It's really not all that hard to get," insisted Remus, "anyone can have sex pretty much. Not that hard to find and even less difficult to do, but that doesn't make it meaningful or intimate in the least. When you're with someone you truly love. . . it should seem like it was impossible to get close another person and a marvel that you're finally at this point and every moment before that one just seems like it was filling in time."

James sought for the moral of the story.

"So you're saying I should hold off?" questioned James

"I'm not going to tell you a bloody thing. It's your and Lily's lives so it's your choice," Remus backed away from the question. "All I'll say in respects to the right time and place is wait until whatever you're feeling for one another is the opposite of sex then you'll know you're alright. And if that's a week off, a year off, or sometime after you're both married then you won't have done a single thing wrong."

James nodded along with this, catching Remus's point. Anyone could have sex. It was just a physical act that most people past the age of 13 or so could figure out on their own if they had to. Love complicated this, as it had a habit of doing with most other things. The thing was, complications didn't necessarily make things inherently bad.

It just meant you had to think them through a bit more before you stated it, pay more attention while you were doing it, and get more meaning out of it one you're finally done.

He and Lily had a tendency of being complicated in a great many things and James could honestly say that he wanted this to be yet another one.

"Yeah, I get that I think," said James thoughtfully, "thanks."

"Not at all," Remus nodded respectfully.

A moment of silence passed before James changed the wait from one foot to another and dared to ask:

"So Remus. . .is it better than. . .you know. . . private performances?"

Remus's head snapped towards James at the mention of this just before an amuse look crossed his face.

"I'm ruined for all else I fear," Remus replied dryly.

"Good to know the voice in the back of my head screaming things out whenever I'm with Lily at least knows what it's talking about," chuckled James

"It's made some very astute educated guesses," Remus assured with his own laugh. He paused for a moment before adding.

"Just be careful with Lily, James."

"Oh yeah I know. I would be careful to make sure that I'm not carrying on the Potter line anytime soon," James told Remus in all sincerity. "There are potions, charms, talismans, - "

"That's good to think about but that's not what I meant," Remus interjected, "I mean. . . just be considerate of her. It's not exactly the same for witches as it is for wizards. Sometimes it hurts them, okay?"

James had heard something about that somewhere down the lines of adolescents. He was glad Remus mentioned something since he didn't want that sort of thing to be lost to obscurity, gossip, and locker room chat.

'Oh. . .yeah. . .I'll bare that in mind," James responded.

"Good man," Remus nodded.

"You know, I'm sort of glad you did this first," James confided with a slight grin. "I could never talk about this straight with Sirius and Peter can barely mutter incantations without fumbling the words."

"I was kind of figured it would have been you actually," replied Remus with his own grin. "You're our fearless leader, wherever you go we follow."

"Yeah well if any of you wankers follow me into to that if I ever get around to it with Lily I'll forget our years of friendship and hex the lot of you," laughed James.

Aaron Lestrange was always proud to be a Slytherin. Simply being sorted into the house was a sign of breeding and a promise of better things. After all, any house that prevented mudbloods from sullying the ranks did nothing but assure a better quality to the wizards produced from it. Of course that did not mean Aaron Lestrange always enjoyed the company in Slytherin since they were a bunch of backstabbing dolts who droned endlessly on about their old money families and what social or political games they were currently playing. And then there were the Walden Macnairs of the house...

Aaron had spent the better portion of an hour listening to Macnair prattle on about his collection of medieval weaponry and the subtle naming and history of them all. Losing his patience with politely nodding and making monosyllable replies of feigned interest Aaron was desperately considering stunning the other boy and blaming it on a Gryffindor later when he spied Tristan Traver's cross into his line of vision. Excusing himself under the false pretense of discussing a fictitious question he wanted to ask the Hufflepuff, Aaron joined Traver's at his side.

"Where's your better half?" asked Aaron as a hello.

"Evan?" Tristan replied, just realizing Aaron was speaking to him. "Tutoring some younger years I think in the commons. Why you ask? Looking for a world?"

"No, just seems as though you two are always together," shrugged Aaron.

"Same could be said about you and Tudor," said Tristan.

"She's about I imagine. Probably stirring up some trouble I'll have to sort out later," said Aaron though he did not seem particularly put off by the idea.

Tristan nodded in something of a knowing way that Aaron couldn't resist questioning him on.

"Yes, Travers?"

Tristan glanced away in an obvious reluctance. Sighing to himself over something, he looked at Aaron head on.

"Well, it might be nothing really, but I do see her hanging around other wizards in a – ahem – friendly manner," Tristan said before adding quickly. "Sorry, mate."

Surprisingly, Aaron did not look exceptionally phased by this news. Nor angered. Strangely enough the Slytherin boy appeared almost amused that Tristan was the one who was bothered at all.

"Yes, Mary will do that," said Aaron coyly.

Tristan had the look of a young man who was not quite following along with the scene but was making a fair attempt to catch up.

"So, you both have an understanding about this sort of thing then?" asked Tristan cautiously.

"Mary and I have less of an understanding and more of a game. It's not all that uncommon to most couples; we're just willing to acknowledge its existence unlike most. Whenever one of us feels the other could be paying a bit more of an investment in the relationship we reserve the right to seek some outside solace," Aaron explained lightly. "Of course the prickly part of the game is the other reserves the right to dispense with the outside party as they see fit if they find out."

"Not to tell you how to manage your own love life, Lestrange, but that sounds like a wonky sort of waltz," Tristan decided.

"Maybe from an outside perspective but these jealous little teasings help to stir passions. The possessiveness of it all makes you want the person more. You'll do anything to make certain they don't desire or even look to another for affection and, when you keep theirs, you know you're the most important person in their world," Aaron went on. "However that kind of spark is hard to up keep so you find ways. . ."

Tristan nodded along to show he understood this even if he didn't practice it. Pulling out a pack of cigarettes, Tristan did a quick check about to make sure no professors or prefects were about to make themselves annoying. He offered one up to Lestrange who respectfully declined. As he worked his lighter against the wind, Lestrange turned the conversation about.

"So tell me, Travers, how privileged are your experiences with the opposite sex?" Aaron drawled, bored with discussing his own personal life.

"Witch here or there," Tristan replied coolly.

"Which witch here or there?" Aaron pressed with a stiff nod in the direction of some of their female peers about.

"I'm afraid I must hold my tongue on that question, Mate," apologized Tristan.

"Out of a gentleman's courtesy?" smirked Aaron.

"Bloody hell no! Out of fear I'd get hexed so viciously there wouldn't be enough of me left for my mum to mourn!" laughed Tristan.

This was the Hufflepuff boy's honest reaction. He didn't believe in protecting good names and proper reputations however he did believe in scrolls full of curses that would make his an uncomfortable existence.

"Hmm, that begs for a curious question," Aaron mused. "So tell me this at least, are you worried the witch in question will perform the hexing or does she have a boyfriend whom you're cagey of?"

"I dare not even respond to that," Tristan smiled.

Aaron's eyes wafted across Tristan before looked off.

"I think you're lying," Aaron decided.

"Think what you want to mate," Tristan shrugged with an indifferent sort of confidence.

Apparently rethinking his statement in light of Tristan's stoic poise, Aaron crossed his arms and pressed his lips thin. It was a similar look he donned when he attempted Arithmancy in his head or was trying to figure which boy in school was responsible for putting that specific teasing smirk on Mary's face.

"All right, which house at the least?"

"I dunno. What if I say it was Slytherin? Would that set you off?" Tristan questioned.

Aaron snorted a chuckle.

"I'd almost be disappointed Travers if you couldn't find a girl from my house," responded Aaron dryly. "Honestly it's not like you need to do a whole song and dance to charm those snakes out of their baskets."

"Wicked harsh on your own girls there mate," Tristan said with an amused smile.

"Naïveté is a luxury that Slytherin ironically can't afford," spoke Aaron as though he were stating the obvious. "So?"

"Yeah, one was a Slytherin," confessed Tristan.

"Our Year?" asked Aaron with renewed interest in the conversation.

"Now that I'll carry to the grave," Tristan shook his head.

"Well if I find out it was Mary it will be a bleeding short trip," Aaron assured.

"It's not Mary, you daft possessive git," Tristan rolled his eyes with a long sigh.

Sirius squinted at his reflection in the dull surface of a window overlooking the evening sky from an empty classroom. He rubbed at the word TRAMP which appeared to be etched backwards from his point of view. The words glowed in a hot scarlet light and throbbed scalding pain to his forehead whenever Sirius did or thought anything remotely lewd. As such, his kiss of Winifred in the hall had proven to be a rather excruciating one.

For her part Winifred would not stop snickering.

At least she wasn't cackling still.

"It's not funny," Sirius protested to his reflection, vanity speaking mostly on his behalf, "I've tried every counter-curse I know and it's still stubbornly in place like it's always been there."

"What were you expecting after that Sirius?" Winifred replied as though this was the only result that could have possibly occurred.

"I know it's naïve but something a bit bloody sporting!" Sirius retorted in a snort, "I mean how does he expect me to even have a chance to defend myself when my tongue was to busy doing other things than reciting incantations and my hands most assuredly were not upon my wand!"

The cackle returned to Winifred as she shook her head.

"I think that may have been the idea," Winifred reported dully.

Sirius turned away from the flare off the glass to look at Winifred with a lack of amusement.

"Well you're not the one who has to waltz around with neon libel painted on their skull," stated Sirius as he crossed his arms.

"Doesn't libel imply falsehoods Sirius?" Winifred teased.

"Ha," Sirius laughed without humor.

"Well you did provoke him to a limit that would set most civilized people off," Winifred reminded.

"That was above and beyond!" Sirius maintained his innocence in all this. "If you were his blood sister or ex lover then I could see all the fuss but…"

Trailing off, Sirius went back to prodding the print on his head grumpily. So fixated on his own face, Sirius barely noticed the smile etched into Winifred's as she slinked up behind him and coiled his arms around the length of his middle. Finding himself less concerned with his hexing suddenly, Sirius gave her an entertained smirk through his reflection.

"Hmm?" he questioned.

"I was just thinking that maybe a good form of turn-about might to be to put some merit behind Snape's little insult," Winifred murmured as her hand ran us Sirius's face and stopped to tap his forehead.

Sirius found it as heard to fight the smile from his lips as forcing his pulse into a steady pace. Turning to face her, Sirius still found Winifred's body pressed against his and wasn't at all put off by this discovery. Leaning in for an open mouth kiss, Sirius was disappointed to find it lasting only a few moments before Winifred broke it off.

"What's wrong?" Sirius asked. "Did you want to stop?"

"Quite the contrary," Winifred corrected.

Noting their surrounding of an empty classroom with it only begin a few hours to curfew, Sirius was of the opinion that this wouldn't make for an intimate arrangement much longer once people started checking the castle over for wayward students.

"As much as it pains me to be the voice of reason, I think a long snog would be pressing out luck," said Sirius with a wiry smile.

"What about a quick something else?" prompted Winifred.

Staring at Winifred with a hook in his eyebrow, Sirius felt fairly confident that he caught the meaning Winifred intended of this comment but didn't wish to embarrass either of them with a rash assumption. Either way this did not change the timing of things and this certainly wasn't an on-the-spot decision.

"Maybe we should be heading back to our houses," Sirius said finding his smile becoming a bit more forced. "I'm sure Snape would love to bust me in the midst of some transgression. That and I really should try to catch onto Remus's ear before bed so as to make a proper apology for the usual tragedy associated with those who care to associate with me."

"Are these excuses as lame when they leave your lips as they are by the time they reach my ears?" Winifred asked teasingly.

Not giving Sirius the opportunity to answer, Winifred's mouth was over his and performing gestures of undeniable passion. Finding it becoming an increasing chore not to get swept along with the moment, as passion tended to have that intoxicating affect on all things, Sirius felt hands roaming freely over him as his owns were moving. This was all fine and familiar to Sirius until few deft gestures on the part of Winifred that struck Sirius to be a little too experienced and undeniably specific caught his attention with his breath.

Pulling away with a swallow, Sirius heard himself saying words that he might have slapped another wizard for uttering in a similar situation.

"Umm. . .Winifred . . .this isn't exactly what I want," Sirius began uneasily.

"Hmm, that's rather odd," purred Winifred against his ear as her body writhed slightly against his. "because I'm getting a distinctly opposite impression from you at the moment against my upper thigh."

A low groan passed Sirius's lips. It felt as though it had traveled up from his core, trembling all along the way. In an impressive feat of restraint that Sirius himself would have been a skeptic of his possessing, he put his hand on top Winifred's slender shoulders and bodily separated them.

"Ahem. . .well, be that as it may . . ." Sirius attempted to keep at least his arm's length away from Winifred so he could speak without being persuaded otherwise, ". . . I think this might be a bit fast. We've only just started seeing one another and I'm feeling a bit rushed by all this."

"I don't know many wizards who get put off by an offer of sex, Sirius. In fact most of the time they have a row about quite the opposite," noted Winifred in an amused voice with a slightly frustrated undertone.

Sirius lingered on these words for a moment before asking a question that was against his better judgment.

"How many other wizards do you know like this?" Sirius asked tentatively.

Winifred rolled her eyes and stepped away from Sirius crossing his arms. Although victorious in getting the girl to back off a bit Sirius found it bittersweet since Winifred was not looking at his as the biggest git in the world.

"That's not what I meant," Sirius said apologetically.

"Oh I think that was probably very honest of you, Black," Winifred replied, causing Sirius to flinch at his surname as if it were an insult. "Your round-about way of seeing how much of a tart I am, hm?"

"No, I wasn't looking to offend, truly," Sirius insisted, "but, this is just a bit sudden. I just want to be sure that things…progress…for the right reasons and not false ones."

"Such as?" Winifred demanded.

"Well, Florence Copia said something that I've been thinking on. She suggested that you might be interested in getting back at your cousin over some slight and I would be a rather easy avenue for that," said Sirius reluctantly.

"So now you're listening to Copia?" Winifred spat out the question. "And it's not as though you should have any right to be outraged even if that were true. You enjoy antagonizing Severus more than all the people combined in this school!"

"There's a far gap between those two things," Sirius said bluntly. "Enraging that prat is a perk of our dating not the entire point of it! And if the latter's true, Winifred, then it's a cruel joke but Snape's not the one it's being played on."

Sirius looked away from Winifred, starting out the window and eyeing the reflection of Snape's hex most specifically. He heard Winifred sigh from behind him somewhere.

"You're overanalyzing all this, Sirius," Winifred said, placing an ease into her tone. "I'm not thinking about Snape – in any regard – I was thinking about us and how much fun we could be having."

"Well I'm thinking about us too," said Sirius over his shoulder. "And I don't see anything beyond talking tonight serving us much good. Not when we can't snog without it becoming a brawl."

Sirius turned around so he could face Winifred fully as he said what he intended to next.

"Win, I think we're brilliant together, I do, but I need to know you're as serious about that as I am. If you're looking for a bit of fun, whether it's at Snape's expense or for some other reason, then I can't have a large part in it," Sirius explained softly. "I'm not serious about a whole lot in this life but I do find a few things sacred now and again. This is one of them."

"Maybe you're over thinking things," pointed Winifred.

"And maybe you need to think things over," replied Sirius urgently. "I've got my priorities sorted out concerning you, but I barely know where I stand in your book. I need something to go on here, Winifred, before I end up in a place that I'm not going to come out of unscathed if you decided fun and games are over."

Winifred's look was truly reproachful at this point when regarding Sirius.

"I don't believe it. Are you lecturing me on maturity?" she demanded.

Sirius fixed his blue eyes on Winifred before offering her a stiff nod.

"Kind of lets you know how bad things are when I come off as the responsible one doesn't it?" remarked Sirius as he made his way to the door.

"So is that it?" asked Winifred in a hot tone that didn't support her usual cool demeanor.

"I'm not the one confused about where we stand love," said Sirius without looking aback as he entered the corridor. "And as soon as you've found your piece of clarity, be sure to pass it along in my direction."

Arabella and the girls

"So. . ." Cassidy began before clearing her throat, "um. . .well. . .er. . .what was it like?"

The five faces in the room went varying shades of crimson, none darker than Arabella's. She smiled awkwardly at the floor, moving her lips as though she was preparing to say something but stopping at the last moment. It was odd to see the girl who was notorious in their Year for chattering ceaselessly so without words.

Finally, Arabella mustered some words without looking any of the other girls straight in the eye.

"It was. . .nice. . ." Arabella breathed with an expression of lingering rapture.

"That's the best yeh can do on it all?" Cassidy raised her eyebrow with a queer look.

"I don't know. . .she makes nice sound pretty wonderful," Gwen stated with a sigh as she hugged onto a pillow.

"Yer too innocent, single, and stumpy teh be think'n about mak'n nice with boys," Cassidy insisted in a protective note.

Gwen chucked her pillow full speed at Cassidy's head, pegging her with a clean shot.

"I HAVE RILEY!" screeched Gwen indignantly.

Cassidy pulled the pillow from her face so she could shoot a meaningful look at Gwen.

"He better not be suggest'n nice things teh yeh since yeh've only been going out fer a week!" huffed Cassidy defensively. Calming down she turned her eyes onto Millicent with a wicked sort of grin. "What 'bout yeh Millie seeing as yeh have a man in yer life now?"

"OhIreallydon'tthinkthatweneedtoworryaboutallthat!" Millicent chocked out in one long squeak, as she took to wringing her hands while looking entirely mortified. "HonestlyCassidywhateverputssuchnotionsintoyourheadI'llneverunderstand – "

"This is why I get up in the mornings," Cassidy decided with a laugh.

The room erupted into high-pitched laughter in response to Millicent's flustered embarrassment. Even Millicent, once she realized that Cassidy was having a bit of sport with her, managed an uneasy smile and nervous giggle. Gwen and Arabella offered a queasy tint to their amused expressions, however, since Snape was a necessary part of this equation.

"I bet the next one of us to be sharing wisdom on the issue will be Lily though," Gwen announced when the laughter died down, "her and James have been going out about as long as Remus and Arabella haven't they."

All the eyes in the room drew upon Lily as she fell silent with a thoughtful expression.

"We've been going out a fair amount of time," was all Lily would admit to.

"Well what the hell are yeh doing teh keep him still interested in yeh?" Cassidy teased.

"We do normal couple things," Lily replied with a purposeful vagueness.

Gwen will wonder if all the other boys are talking about this too. Arabella would be scandalized at the thought of Remus sharing while no one points out the implied irony of it all. Cassidy will tell Arabella that if it makes her feel better Sirius and James probably pinned him to the floor and tortured him until he confessed and began to accept their peels of admirations and congratulatory embraces.

"You really do have precious little faith in the male gender don't you Cassidy?" Millicent noted with her best attempt at sarcasm.

Cassidy stole a glance at Lily before grinning broadly.

"Actually I think the problem is I get them a little too well sometimes," Cassidy chuckled.

It was a fair early evening over Diagon Alley however dark clouds to the north alluded to rain after dark. Until then, the restaurants of wizarding London were committed to keeping their outdoor seating available. Gathered around an iron patio table with picked over portions of dinners and a lukewarm kettle of tea, Aurora Black ignored the slight chill of the English spring to savor the company of some old school friends.

Dorcas Meadows, a fellow Ravenclaw alumni, had sent a post to Aurora that had served very much like a Howler without sound. Evidently her former housemate had grown irritable with Aurora's lack of correspondence and accused her of becoming a shut-in after Malfoy jilter their engagement or whatever had happened as Dorcas reiterated how Aurora DID NOT WRITE ENOUGH. After her three and a quarter paged of chiding, Dorcas invited Aurora to an evening meal with their friends Frank Longbottom and, a prior Hufflepuff of their mutual Year, Marlene McKinnon.

After graduation, as more wizarding citizens do, Aurora and others of her year found jobs within the Ministry of Magic still that fact did not always allow for time to catch up with one another. Frank, of course, was an Auror in the Department of Magical Law enforcement which had him out and about more than behind a desk. Dorcas worked within the Ministry in an effort to create new and better spells which meant a generous knowledge of charms and dead tongues were her preoccupation. Marlene was working within the Department of Mysteries and did not discuss what she did however remained the more personable employee of the department.

Smiling between sips of her tea, Aurora felt it was her turn to conduct the conversation they had been in the middle of.

"Not to sound ungrateful, but what inspired this impromptu school reunion?" Aurora asked curiously.

Marlene's expression became quickly amused as she glanced to Dorcas.

"Well initially I thought it would be nice to bring the girls from our Year back together before we gave you a proper send off as the new Madam Malfoy," Marlene confessed, "but as soon as word wormed its way back to my ear that your engagement was subject to Rita's active imagination and frantic quill we decided you could use a pick me up."

"That and something in Rita's likeness," Dorcas chirped as she passed a voodoo doll with wavy blonde locks dangling from the top.

Aurora accepted the doll with an entertained expression and prodded it with the tip of her fingernail for affect. Marlene leaned over her shoulder with an appraising eye.

"It could double for Lucius if with straighten the hair up a bit," she observed with a chuckle.

"I appreciate the token of your support," Aurora said as way of thank you to her friends.

"Well Rita was always a bit of a cow even when we were in school," Dorcas insisted earnestly. "I reckon she only kept company with us so she would be on the inside track of all the best gossip."

"Well Aurora was practically queen of Hogwarts Castle back in the day," Marlene added on with a reminiscent look. "She and Lucius had the eye and ear of everyone and we were her loyal ladies in waiting."

"Have to admit that I wouldn't have minded standing in line for Lucius back then," Dorcas added. "But he was less of a swelled-headed git back then."

"No he was still a git, you just allowed his pretty head to turn yours," Aurora corrected smiling.

"I'll second that bit," Frank said with a grim look. "I always said the only good thing about Lucius Malfoy was Aurora Black and the only bad thing about Aurora Black was her taste in men."

"Yes, Frank, I believe that was your bloody quote in the Gryffindor memoirs book for our Year," Dorcas chuckled.

"You're just sore that I was preaching the Merlin truth all these years," Frank quipped before glancing at Aurora and realizing a round of I-told-you-so's were not in order. "Sorry, luv."

"We'll let Aurora serve as the authority since she did date him for the better part of a decade," Dorcas reasoned.

"Perhaps I should have pinched you a time-turner, though I imagine that Augustus Rookwood would have birthed a dragon to find one missing," Marlene mused.

"Not at all," Aurora shook her head, "the experience of it all must be worth something in the end. Those content to live in the past cannot see the present and make poor plans for the future."

"So what's on your bright horizon, Aurora?" Marlene prompted with inquiring, bright eyes before she scrunched her face into itself. "Bother, that was such stupid pun you would have thought I did it on purpose."

The others at the table appeared content to ignore Marlene's absent-minded commentary in the interests of carrying on with her initial question.

"I heard the wildest speculation concerning that," Dorcas interjects as she looked Aurora over. "Tell me if this is true, but I heard you were already back on the broom handle concerning dating."

"Don't say?" Frank commented with interest. It was a cautious enthusiasm, however, as he had an air about him that suggested he half thought Aurora was about to confess to dating some mountain troll. Undoubtedly this was a concern won after ten years spent having to sit side-lines to Aurora and Malfoy's less than storybook romance.

"I didn't," Aurora reminded. "There was. . .something, but it didn't work out. It probably could never have."

Dorcas, Frank, and Marlene exchanged looks, searching one another's features to see if they had more information that the others. Dissatisfied, they turned back to Aurora with expectant expressions.

"Well?" Marlene pressed in case they weren't being clear enough.

"We had different backgrounds. He was a pureblood, but it's one of those anachronistic families that cling to all the traditions that are out of fashion," Aurora explained, realizing that her three friends probably wouldn't let up without a little more information.

"Are we talking about Lucius again?" Frank said half in jest.

"I reckon not, but half my department are just like that. The head, Arcanus Snape, you'd swear from his haughtiness that if he bled it'd be concentrated magic or something, of the like" snorted Marlene.

"His son's a vindictive little prat too," added Frank, "that whole thing with Aurora's brother last January was ugly and Snape's son certainly was no help. You could tell if he had his way in the world, he'd have had Sirius' head over a prank that got away from itself."

Aurora hoped her face betrayed nothing as she persisted to smile serenely along, her famed default expression.

"Well tell me he was at least gorgeous so I can live vicariously through you as you rob cradles," Dorcas sighed.

"It wasn't about looks, youth, or sex or whatever you want to think," Aurora corrected quickly. "It was the opposite, actually. It was about meeting someone whom you thought understood you and made all that superficial things most people get hung up on seem entirely pointless."

The witches and wizard in Aurora's company took a moment to digest this information as they took a few bites of their meal in silence. After a few firm chews, Aurora tacked on an epilogue to her statement.

"Besides if all I wanted was a shag Merlin knows I could just go to Lucius." shrugged Aurora with a coy grin.

Dorcas and Marlene nearly choked on their meals as they started to laugh. Frank took a sip off his goblet before rolling his eyes.

"Bloody hell, Aura, I could probably just go to Lucius for a shag," Frank quipped.

At this point everyone began to choke on their respective drinks and food.

"I'm sure Alice would love to hear that," Marlene refused to end her laughter.

Frank waved off at the three witches as he raised his goblet rather than set it down.

"Okay, enough of the jokes, let's be serious for a moment hmm? How about a toast to health and happiness since I doubt any of us know when we'll all be together like this again," proposed Frank.

The women obliged as they brought their own goblets to the sky.

"To old friends: as loyal and loved as family," began Marlene.

"To promising futures and fighting the good fight without fear," Dorcas jostled her glass as well.

"To remembering the good times, familiar faces, and unforgettable friends," added Frank with sincerity and a smile.

Finally Aurora put her own goblet to her friends with a smile.

"To kisses that save the day and endings that are happily ever after," Aurora insisted with a look of growing seriousness.

"And to heroes over villains and world without Voldemort's shadow."

A few reproachful and frightened looks that heard mention of the Dark Lords name eyed the table before not wanting to have anything more to do with them. The small party all took a solemn drink to finish their toast before they stared at one another.

"Do you think that's what will happen? Us and the rest of the Order will be heroes?" Marlene questioned softly.

"I do," Aurora stated with certainty. "We're so positively fabulous we'd have to be."

Aurora smiled behind her goblet. It was the same coy smile she had been using for years as both a passport in life and shield against the uncertainties of it. Her blue eyes shimmered between Marlene, Dorcas, and Frank. Some of the most brilliant minds of her generation and some of the noblest spirits she had the privilege to know personally.

"I've always believed, my friends, that it is better to play a small part in a big story rather than have no part at all," Aurora confided. "Greek lore taught me that."

"Trust me Aurora, you can't help but be epic," assured Frank.

Aurora leaned over and hissed Frank upon his round cheek.

"Well, there's still a few more pages to be written now isn't there?" she replied.

Dinner had finished up and the students were streaming into the corridors to head off to wherever they intended to spend the time before curfew. After watching Lestrange apparently attempt to wrestle something out of Tudor's mouth with his tongue, James was compelled to voice the concern that…

"Sometimes I get the impression that everyone is having sex but me," James sarcastically stated as he made his way with Sirius from the Great Hall.

"Well, let's hope Lily's not otherwise poor luck for you mate," Sirius joked. "Of course if Peter makes you the last virgin standing I'd recommend you turn your wand on yourself and die like the man you were never made into."

James cocked his head towards Sirius so he could properly scowl in the direction of his supposed best friend.

"Do you just sit about and think of things to make me want to watch you pick your teeth up from the floor?" James spat.

"Passes the time in between shagging," Sirius shrugged with a chuckle as he patted James on the back.

James abandoned Sirius's hand and his own foul expression for a curious look.

"How much time?" he inquired of Sirius.

"About 17 years," Sirius promptly replied. It had long since been deemed that Sirius Black had no shame to speak of.

"You're putting me on," insisted James.

"If you insist," said Sirius without much protest.

James loved Sirius like a brother and was fond of him in more respects that he warranted at times, but even James had to admit that it struck him as off-color for the suave, popular, and rash Sirius Black to be entirely virginal.

Particularly since he was a notorious fibber.

"Wait, you never slept with anyone? Not ever?" James pressed in an attempt to clarify.

"No. I mean, I've gotten some pretty generous or otherwise tempting offers but even I think some things are sacred, man," explained Sirius with an amused look meeting James's perplexed one. "Nice to know you think I get about like a stray dog though."

"That's not what I meant," siad James hastily. "I just thought you'd be the first one of us to is all."

"Well that honor belongs to Moony," Sirius pointed out. "Good on him I say. Madly in love and with one of the best girls to walk these halls. Only happy memories there."

James nodded to this. He wanted to think that Remus and Arabella would be together forever, have a half dozen children, and spend their lives annoying one another in their own loving way. Of course there was a far line to tread between what James thought and what might actually happen with their relationship. Still Sirius was not without a point. Could Remus and Arabella really claim to having any regrets if they had slept with one another while being completely in love? Some things, as Sirius said, are sacred and some moments are precious and it was a rare sort of alignment when these two happened to overlap.

James thought he would be wildly lucky to have something so perfect even if it was for only a little while.

Keeping with the vein of the conversation, James eyed Sirius before asking.

"So how about you and Winifred?" James asked.

Sirius's mouth threatened a sneer.

"What do you mean?" he demanded.

Guessing Peter's constant ragging, the disapproving mutterings in Gryffindor, and outright jabs of Slytherin was putting Sirius on the defensive, James attempted to rationalize his question.

"I don't mean to imply anything about her, Padfoot. It was more a general question than anything. It's just that you've never quite gone on about a girl like you do for Wilkes and I wanted to know how that was treating you is all," James said almost apologetically.

Sirius's expression softened, showing his own measure of remorse for biting his best friend's head off for his question.

"I'm keeping things slow and steady, though Win isn't making it easy on me," Sirius reposted casually. "She's a little more. . . advanced in the progression of relationships than I am but, hell, I think she could have done better for herself some of the times before and it's a pity she settled."

Sirius paused to shake his head slightly mournfully.

"I just don't want to be the latest creepy guy to make off with a little bit of her soul."

"You can't be that guy, Sirius," James assured earnestly. "You're too decent. I mean that."


James talks to Lily in the commons after lights out (unable still to get into her room) and is just happy that things aren't as complicated for them as other people they know.

"James, are you expecting something. . .specific to happen once you find your way around McGonagall's charm?" Lily questioned with a deep stare.

James reddened slightly and tried to hide it behind a copy of Defying Defenses.

"Well. . .honestly no, but," he replied slightly uneasily, "the thing of it is that's for me and you to decide, not McGonagall or anyone else."

Lily nodded along as she hugged herself slightly. She stole a glance at the fire before looking back to find James's hazel eyes still on her.

"For the sake of argument, what have we decided on?" Lily wondered.

James set down his book while he began to run his hand though his mess of hair.

"I, um, well I really don't know," James confessed, "we've never really much discussed the matter since – well since Christmas. . . and that was five months ago about."

"I suppose we haven't," said Lily a bit awkwardly.

She couldn't be sure if it was the present conversation or her previous behavior that had made her suddenly feel a bit self-conscious. Still keeping his eyes on her, James slid down the length of the couch and put an arm around her shoulders, hugging Lily to his frame.

"Did you want to talk about it now?" James asked softly. His tone suggested that he was more interested in the exchange rather than pressing the issue.

"It's probably about time we did," Lily agreed with a sigh, "what do you think, James?"

James thought he didn't want to be the one to give his opinion first, that's what James thought.

Breathing in deeply, James began to evaluate his whole opinion on the intimacy of his and Lily's relationship and how willing he was to advocate a change in it. He loved Lily and, when he cared to think that far ahead, saw the two of them being together for a very long time. Of course any major change, specifically a change like the one they were hinting around at, might be a gamble of their currently existing happiness.

Still Lily had asked what he thought.

"I think. . ." James began carefully while liking his lips, ". . .I'm very happy the way things are now; however, there are times when I think I would be happier if things were a tad more. . .developed between us."

James studied Lily's expression, searching for any signs that she thought of him as just your typical randy young wizard angling on behalf of his wand. At the moment she appeared to simply be listening to his argument without any emotion registering upon her face. With this, James decided to explain himself a bit more properly.

"I know it's not entirely the most chivalrous stance I could take on the matter, but the way I love you is the only thing I can feel with any sort of certainly all the time. I'd be lying if I said that I never thought about things becoming more serious between the both of us, but that doesn't mean I'm not willing to wait on it until you're comfortable with that as well," James took Lily's hand into his own and squeezed it gently, "And I mean that, you know. That kind of thing isn't what's important to me. You're what's important to me. And if it's not what you want then I can get along brilliantly without it."

Lily nodded as she rested her head against James's chest and closed her eyes. They said nothing for a moment, as both of them were evidently reflecting upon James's stance on the matter. Burying his face into the side of her sweet smelling hair, James breathed close to her ear.

"So what are you thinking?"

"I'm thinking. . ." Lily started slowly as her eyes opened, "that neither of us has said 'sex', 'making love', or even 'shagging' at this point. We just keep saying 'it' or 'that sort of thing' . . .something along those lines. . ."

James thought about this observation briefly.

"I suppose we have," he finally decided that there was a vague quality to this discussion. Perhaps it was so no one overhearing them could incriminate them with the specifics but even James couldn't say that with certainty.

Pulling herself up slightly so Lily could look at James a little more directly she smiled gently.

"So I think that when you and I are perfectly comfortable with uttering those words in reference to ourselves then we'll be ready to actually consider doing them," Lily stated.

The seventeen year old wizard in James had to admit that wasn't quite the response he had been hoping for but everything else found the will to whole-heartedly smile and nod.

"That sounds fair," James agreed as she settled himself comfortable against Lily as she did with him.

The sporadic crackling of the fireplace served as the only noise in the room for a while as Lily and James were more than content to wordlessly hold one another in the flickering amber light of the flames. Silently James positioned his face before Lily's and slowly began to run his lips over her perfect, soft ones.

"So, since we can say words like 'snogging', 'spooning' and 'petting' we get to do those right?" James joked quietly.

Lily laughed slightly against her boyfriend's grinning mouth.

"That we most certainly do," Lily agreed.

"Fabulous," James said before he began to deeply kiss the girl he loved.

Ever-so gradually, James reclined the pair of them onto the common room couch so they could more comfortably pursue that which he had previously suggested.