It's Enough Just to Breathe
By Atlantis Forester
Disclaimer: You know what? I'm sick of these. You already know who Harry Potter belongs to, so I'm sure I don't need to remind you at the beginning of every chapter. This is the last time I write a disclaimer. Grr.
A.N. REWRITTEN FOR THE FIFTH HARRY POTTER BOOK
Now, before we start, let me explain why James is a prefect. J.K. Rowling said in previous books that Lily and James had been Head Boy and Girl of Hogwarts. In the Order of the Phoenix, however, she states quite clearly that James was never a prefect, but that Remus was. This doesn't make any sense at all, as one must be a prefect in order to become Head Boy or Girl. I suppose that it may be that James had somehow been a special case; but to be on the safer side, I'd rather choose one - because, honestly, I think that J.K. Rowling just made a mistake. It is here that I take the choice of James being a prefect, as , after all, it really was mostly to assuage Harry's feelings that he was told that James had not been a prefect. All clear? Good. Now... ready? Set... ACTION!
Chapter 2: Start of the Term
I suspect that you should never tell your mother that you've become a prefect.
It's a horrifically messy business, with rivers and rivers of tears, wobbling simpers, quavering sighs, confining arms, and secret, smug smiles every time they spot another bloke around my age. An absolutely stifling and equally terrifying experience. If I become Head Boy one day - of which, actually, I have no doubt of -, then I'll make sure my mother never knows. On second thought, I'll include every other female member of my family as well. I must say that there was a terrific bout of eye-flushing that day. Most of them are childless, however, so I reckon that it makes sense that they'd set their hearts on me.
Either way, I found myself boarding the Hogwarts Express for my fifth year with arms laden with more gifts than I could bear and far too many lingering pats on my prefect badge. Adulation is a pleasant thing, but can perhaps be more than a little tiring. This may sound hypocritical of me - as I tend to bask in adoration -, but being adored by family differs greatly from being adored by attractive girls my age. I'm sure you understand.
I wandered around for a while, carelessly dropping some of my presents here and there willy-nilly - but I'm pretty certain of them somehow finding their way back to me (it happens quite commonly in Hogwarts) -. I must say that by the time I reached the compartment my friends and I usually sat in every year, my burdens were considerably lighter.
I banged my shoulder against the sliding doors, signalling Remus to open the doors for me. He stood, smiling, and obliged me as I stumbled in, parcels tumbling onto the ground as I went along, my trunk trailing along after me, and glanced at the tidy trail of things I'd left behind on my way here.
Sirius picked up a slender box which contained a valuable-looking pendant. 'Now, what would they give you that for?' he wondered out loud, spinning the shining trinket in the air.
Remus raised a dubious brow. 'James,' he remarked slowly, 'that's a girl's thing. I had no idea that you had a sexual identity crisis.' He had added the last part in a mischievous tone.
I collapsed on a seat. 'That's from Aunt Katrina,' I said snappishly. 'That old lunatic seemed to be terribly pleased with herself. Said it was for "someone special". She's under this delusion that I'll fall madly in love and marry a girl as soon as I'm of age. Absolutely barmy, that one.'
'She probably didn't have much romance in her youth,' observed Remus shrewdly.
'Wouldn't it be a laugh if you ended up giving it to some bloke?' Sirius grinned. 'Why don't you give it to Snivellus?'
I grimaced. 'That's bollocks. What are you spouting, you idiot?'
'You're right,' Sirius agreed. 'Sorry about that.'
'Are you sure you two don't think about him at night?' Remus grinned.
Sirius and I stared at him, horrified. 'That is where I draw the line,' we exclaimed simultaneously.
'Why don't you sell this and buy something else?' Peter asked, examining the forgotten pendant.
Oh, Peter Pettigrew. I'd almost forgotten him. He's a somewhat pusillanimous bloke - I had thought that he would end up in Hufflepuff and it really is a mystery how he ended up in Gryffindor -, but all right under it all. Albeit on the short side - unfortunately for him, as Sirius, Remus and I are all quite tall, he seems quite a bit smaller than he really is because he's always around us - and not too much of a good-looking sort, he is a very faithful friend. Through first-year to third-year, he'd been a devout shadow. I admit, he rather hero-worshiped us (oh, Remus, Sirius and I ended up in Gryffindor - our parents were chuffed to bits!). This case of near-apotheosis made us all a bit uncomfortable for a while - at a certain point, I remember that we found it a little alarming -, but we ended up feeling that such devotion needed to be rewarded, so we tried to add him to our exclusive group. He has his good points, but Peter can be terribly dull, so we can't help excluding him a little. We try our best to keep him from feeling too left out, though sometimes the group feels a trifle too crowded.
Well, enough of that. I'll continue.
I ignored him, still frazzled from the overwhelming attentions I had just escaped from. Dumping my presents on the seats and floor, I hauled my trunk onto the overhead compartments and let out a terrific yawn.
'Oy, James,' said Sirius, suddenly taking notice of the shiny badge on my jumper (My mother had insisted that I wear it all the way from Godric's Hollow to the Platform nine and three quarters - does a bloke even get to wear his own wardrobe, these days? I tell you, they're raving mad.). 'You didn't tell me you were a prefect!'
(jumper: sweater... and this is the last time I put in a definition for this)
'But, James, aren't you supposed to be in the prefect meeting, then?' asked Peter.
'Oh, no,' I said in dismay. 'I forgot!'
'You'd better run along, mate,' advised Remus. 'You don't want to make a bad impression, do you?'
'I'll be right back!' I shouted, throwing open the compartment doors.
'We expect you all to present an ideal example of obedience, propriety, and academic excellence to your peers,' droned the Head Boy. 'It is the duty of a prefect to guide his or her fellow students along the right path. We are here to help those who need any sort of aid, whether it be with studies or advice -'
'How about other kinds of help?' asked one sixth-year Ravenclaw prefect with a playfully lascivious tone and a small smirk on his face. Everyone started to chuckle, and the Head Boy - a sort of awkward-looking fellow - turned bright red.
Borks, a Hufflepuff prefect in my year, lightly elbowed me. 'James here probably wouldn't mind a bit if a pretty girl took him aside and asked him for a little favour,' he exclaimed mischievously with a broad smile.
I grinned and brushed my bangs out of my face. 'You're just saying that because you're madly jealous that I can get a pretty girl to like me, and you can't,' I retorted as another chuckle ran around the large compartment. 'Besides, I'm not the only one who enjoys certain activities in my spare time, Borks.'
'You're incorrigible, Potter,' a cold voice rang out from across me. 'Would you mind keeping your immoral personal life to yourself? Some people aren't interested.'
'You're just bitter because no one wants to suck on that sour mouth of yours, Evans,' I said hostilely.
The corners of her mouth curled up with contempt. 'Suck. What an... appetizing word. Yes, without a doubt, that is what we always see you doing in public. And don't make assumptions about my private matters, Potter.'
'Then don't make assumptions about mine.'
'I'm not making assumptions,' she said, raising a coppery brow. 'You're the one telling us all about it in the first place. The evidence is very clear.'
'Don't try to sound so smart - you might wear yourself out,' I said in my most concerned manner.
'Stop it, both of you,' the Head Girl suddenly said sharply. We bit back our comments and leant back in our seats, throwing disgusted and disdainful looks at each other. The room had lost its previously agreeable, sociable atmosphere, and was eerily quiet.
'Ahem... Well,' the Head Boy continued hesitantly, suddenly daunted by the antagonism dripping in the air, 'er, it is out duty to make sure that our Houses are -'
As he plowed on, I eyed Evans out of the corner of my eye. She was stubbornly attentive to the Head Boy's words, though I could tell that she knew that I was still giving her dirty looks.
She had changed quite a bit over the summer. Her wealth of long crimson locks which had once gone past her waist had been chopped to a neat shoulder length and tied back. Her skin was still pale with the light dusting of freckles across the bridge of her nose, and her face hadn't changed much - her features had only become a little more pronounced over the years. If possible, her bright green eyes had gotten even larger, and her lashes longer and darker under the arched brows. But what had changed most about her appearance was the way her chest and hips had filled out, and how her form had started to curve noticeably.
Don't look at me like that. I'm just an ordinary bloke, alright? Evans has always been as skinny as a beanpole, so this is really coming to me as a surprise...
Do me a favour, and get your bloody mind out of the gutter, will you? There's no way I can think of her that way!
Which makes me wonder... What would Evans say if I mentioned her new... assets? Er, however pathetic they may be, naturally.
'Oy, Evans!' I called out impishly with a grin, interrupting the Head Boy's speech. 'I see you got yourself some knockers over the summer!'
There was a long, stunned silence. Evans's face was flooded by a brilliant shade of red. Some boys started to chortle wildly, and Borks elbowed me again, tears of mirth running down his cheeks; the girls all gasped and looked sympathetically at Evans.
She started to tremble, and her lower lip started to tremble, as if she was about to cry. 'You...' she uttered softly, 'you lecherous, despicable beast.' She jumped up and whipped out her wand. 'I can't stand you!' With that, she pointed her wand at me and hissed out an incantation.
'Bloody hell, Evans - I swear that if you curse me, I'll -' Before I could finish my sentence, I was blinded by a flash of light and was thrown back by some invisible force.
The last thing I heard before I passed out was Borks saying, 'Cor! James, now you've got knockers, too!'
'Well, Potter, it seems you are finally with us.'
'Unn...' I opened my eyes slowly and wearily. Why was I so tired? My mind felt unusually sluggish, as did the rest of me, and didn't seem to function properly. Who was talking to me? The voice seemed very familiar. My mouth was dry and my tongue was coated in some thick, gluey substance. 'Water...' I managed to croak out.
'You've been out for an entire day,' the voice said briskly. 'Astounding, what children do to each other, nowadays. Here, drink this.'
I felt a hand grip my chin and something cool pressed against my lips. Greedily, I drank. Big mistake. 'It's disgusting!' I blinked a couple more times in succession as my sight started to return to its normal, blurry vision.
'Here are your glasses, Potter.'
I could suddenly see with delightful clarity. I stared up at the person still holding the tumbler to my mouth. 'Hullo, Madam Pomfrey. I'll just inform you that I will absolutely not drink any more of that,' I said firmly. My brain was starting to function properly again, and I began to pick up things around me. White curtains, beds, medicine, Madam Pomfrey...
'Well,' she clucked disapprovingly, 'apparently, you're back to your normal frame of mind.' She eyed me disapprovingly. 'You've certainly gotten yourself into quite a fix. Already, just at the beginning of the year, you've found your way to my infirmary. Though, I'm not quite surprised. Really, look at the condition you're in.'
'Sorry?' "Condition"? I wondered dimly. I realised that my body felt strangely discoordinated and unbalanced. Something didn't feel quite right, and it was grating on my nerves.
Madam Pomfrey sighed and started to busy herself with some medication. 'Honestly, I don't know how the lot of you get your hands on such odd curses. I shudder to think of what else you'll come up with next. This new generation is really a wild bunch of hooligans,' she ranted, the bottles clinking and the things being whisked around. 'I've never seen such discord among students in the same House, before.'
'Same House?' I repeated stupidly, not understanding.
She peered at me attentively. 'Yes, that Lily Evans did quite a job of you, Potter.'
'Evans?' I scowled immediately with dislike at the sound of her name. 'What about her?'
'Hormonal imbalance, my boy,' she replied, turning away suddenly. Why was I getting the impression that she wanted to laugh? What was so funny? Hormonal imbalance? I didn't understand. Why would hormonal imbalance be...
Wait a minute.
Now that I think of it, Borks said something about knockers, didn't he?
Reflexively, almost by instinct, I glanced down at my chest.
'I'M GOING TO KILL HER!'
'Can I feel them?'
'It's not like they're really yours or anything.'
I gave Sirius the nastiest glare I could possibly manage. 'No.'
'People might get the wrong idea, Sirius,' Remus said placidly. 'You wouldn't want that, would you?'
'But I want to know what they feel like!' the idiot whined. Sometimes, I loathe him with a passion.
Peter looked highly disturbed. 'That's gross! Why would you want touch James's breasts?'
'They're not mine,' I said tightly.
'I think it's James's time of the month,' Sirius confided loudly to a passing girl in the corridor.
'Sirius, if you don't shut up right now ,' I snarled, 'you're going to regret it.'
'It's okay,' he replied understandingly, 'I understand.'
'Sirius,' I growled warningly.
'You're so boring,' he said, grinning. 'At least let me give them one squeeze.'
'That's it,' I said grimly. 'You're dead.' I was about to launch myself at him to strangle him, when my ears were violently slashed to pieces by the sound of the voice of the person I hated the most at this very moment (besides Sirius).
(A.N. If you haven't noticed it yet, I'll just point out that James is bit of a drama queen.)
'So, how do you like being a girl?' She sounded taunting and infuriatingly smug. 'Just as I'd imagined, it's quite a sight when the infamous James Potter suddenly loses all the "masculinity" he prides himself in.'
'I'm going to get you back for this, Evans,' I growled, my back still turned on her. 'And I swear that you'll get it ten times worse than I did.'
'Threats, Potter? Typical. That's exactly what I would expect of you.'
I scoffed and spun around. 'What would I care of what you expect of me?' I said mockingly. 'I'll bet you haven't even been kissed, yet.'
'What is it with your fascination with my love life, Potter?' Evans said coolly, contradicting her warm cheeks. 'You've already commented on the kissing part. Then, there was my... chest... and now, it's back to kissing!'
'What?' I flushed. 'I'm not interested in your nonexistent love life,' I said hotly. 'Don't compliment yourself, Evans! I would never be interested in you like that!'
She coloured even more. 'I never said that!' she shrieked loudly. 'You're the one who's interpreting it that way because that's what you want! For my part, the thought of us possibly being involved that way never even crossed my mind!'
'W-what I want?!' I spluttered. 'What bloke in his right mind would want you?! You're imagining things, Evans!' Gathering my composure, I smirked at her. 'Besides, I hear that you dream about me, at night.'
'That was only once!' she shouted.
I froze and stared at her. 'What?'
At that point, she turned so red that I could easily compare her face to an overly ripe tomato. 'Er, I mean, er, I -'
I started to grin, a wicked gleam in my eyes. 'You've got to be joshing me, Evans. You actually dream about me?'
'Lily, why don't you go to the library like you had planned before Potter starts to think you've been mad on him for ages?' A slender face surrounded by dark hair cut in a bob peeped around the corner of the hallway.
'What are you talking about?' Evans snapped angrily, still red-faced. 'Would you just stuff it, Marlene?' She turned back to me. 'Just for your general information, Potter, you were part of my nightmare,' she said quickly.
'Nice try, Evans. I'll give you points for effort, though,' I said, smirking.
'Would you stop it?! Don't be daft!' she fumed. 'Stop fooling yourself!'
'Lily, let's go,' McKinnon interrupted. 'Forget it. Come on, we'll be late for class. Oh, hullo, Remus.'
'Good morning, Marlene,' Remus answered politely.
McKinnon sighed and tucked a lock of her short hair behind her ear. 'It's really a shame that a decent bloke like you got stuck with the likes of Potter and Black,' she said disapprovingly.
Remus smiled calmly, ignoring my gape and Sirius's indignant splutters. 'Yes, you keep telling me that. It's not all that bad, really, once you get used to it,' he said.
McKinnon tutted. 'Like I said, Remus, you're a gem surrounded by rubbish.'
'Alright, Lily, no more dawdling. Let's get to class,' McKinnon said, pulling Evans briskly along.
'Wait, Marlene -' Evans tried to protest.
'Move along, darling,' was McKinnon's response before they turned the corner and were out of sight.
'Remus, you stinking traitor, what was that?!' Sirius demanded. 'You sided with her when she called us "rubbish"! That's fraternising with the enemy!'
'She didn't call Peter manure, did she?' Remus pointed out. 'And "fraternising", Sirius? That just blowing it out of proportion.'
'Well, she didn't mention Peter, end of story,' Sirius said impatiently. 'But that's not the point!'
Remus shrugged. 'There's nothing wrong with being a little friendly, Sirius. You're exaggerating. She was obviously teasing you two. After all, since when were we on bad terms with Marlene?'
'Well... never,' Sirius conceded, 'but, she is Evans's friend, and Evans cursed James.'
'I can already tell that you're running out of arguments,' Remus commented.
'Argh, why is it that I can never argue with you?' Sirius groaned, throwing his arms dramatically into the air.
Peter scratched his neck. 'Maybe it's because you like him,' he offered.
Sirius rolled his eyes. 'Peter, you sound smarter with your mouth closed.'
Peter widened his eyes. 'Oh... wait, I didn't mean it that way!' he stuttered.
Sirius sighed impatiently. 'I know you didn't mean it that way, Peter,' he said dryly. 'I know you well enough by now to realise that you don't have the courage or the wit to provoke me like that. No offence meant, of course, but it's a wonder that you ended up in Gryffindor.'
'Of course,' Peter repeated dimly - he had obviously not quite understood what Sirius had said.
'Blimey, you really are a bit thickheaded, aren't you?' said Sirius with raised brows.
I frowned. 'Stop it, Sirius.'
'That was uncalled for,' Remus added. 'You shouldn't say things like that to Peter.'
'Whatever,' Sirius said indifferently. 'Sorry, Peter.' He flicked back a lock of his long, dark hair and slung an arm around my shoulder. 'Well, we should go, too - we're already late. So, James, can I give them a little squeeze?'
The day had been a complete nightmare. Besides Sirius trying to cop a feel, I was suddenly assaulted by agonizing pains in my lower abdomen. I rushed out in the middle of Charms and headed straight for the infirmary. When I explained my problem to Madam Pomfrey, she suddenly put on a very disturbing smile and sat me on a bed before pouring some sort of potion into a tumbler and handing it to me to drink.
'Ah, the sufferings of womanhood,' was all she said to me before I gulped down the mixture. As I swallowed the potion with a grimace, she dug through a drawer and pulled out a strange pair of bright orange knickers.
I nearly spat out the medicine. 'What is that?!' I yelled as she handed them to me.
'You'll have to put these on, Mr. Potter,' she said to me.
'What?' I widened my eyes. 'I'm not putting on anything!' I shouted.
'You'll have to, unless you want your trousers and robes stained with blood,' she said severely. 'These are charmed to absorb all the blood that comes out. Miss Evans has apparently cast a very thorough spell on you. I'm actually quite impressed.' Madam Pomfrey paused for a minute before tutting disapprovingly. 'She should really put that kind of effort into her work instead of her bickering with you.'
'Wait, did you say blood?' I asked faintly.
'Why, yes. Oh, don't you know about a woman's monthly cycle?' She looked surprised.
My face went white. 'Bloody hell!'
At least most people had the decency - and the sense - not to point or laugh as they passed by when I kept picking at my bottom.
Blimey, how do girls manage to walk around in these? For goodness's sake, every time I take a step, I feel a squish between my legs.
It's absolutely revolting!
A.N. Yes, yes, I know. FINALLY, a new chapter! I'm awfully sorry this took so long, but I'm finding that school really burns me out. And I don't even get a vacation, either! I have to go to prep school (grr!) and study till my brain bursts.
Also, I'm really sorry about this pathetic chapter. I know that you must have expected something better after this long wait, but this is all I could do with the little time I had. I tried my best to get it up to at least eleven pages, but I only managed to get it up to ten. I'm so terribly exhausted... Well, anyhow, just to make sure that you understand some implications in this chapter, I'll make a brief explanation:
I don't know if some of you are iffy (I love that word - my friend Ally rubbed it off on me) about homosexuality, so I'll tell you right here and right now that it will play a rather large role in this fic. Unless you haven't gotten the drift yet from the first chapter, Sirius has more than platonic feelings for James. If you're going to start telling me that you hardly believe that that's likely, stop right there. Believe what you want, but I'm quite convinced that Sirius had very tender feelings for James - he just seems to love James too much and cling to his memory too much (especially in the fifth book) for it not to be possible. Also, I will insert a Sirius/Remus warning here. Remus will have a thing for Sirius, though it will be very well kept under covers. Keep your eyes open for signs, everyone.
I'd also like you to notice James's progressively dwindling vocabulary headaches. See? I told you I'd work on them. Right now, he's still a pretentious, arrogant teenager - and, like a teenager, he does his best to sound supercilious and superior to make himself feel bigger and more important than he really is. So, all in all, it works out best for everyone - a definite win-win situation.
Alright, I think that's pretty much all of it in one package. Till next time, then (hopefully not too far off...)! Please review!
WARNING: There will soon be a change of title, so if you want to keep track of this story, you might want to jot down my pen name.