Well, here we are, another update. And not too long after the other one! I'm getting better :). In all honesty, I'm attempting to keep ahead here and I'm sneaking up on the chapters I've already written so I have some work ahead of me. A huge thank you to Raven that flies at night, Nouget-XP, and Bigfan for commenting on the last chapter! I very much appreciate the feedback! And please tell me if there's anything you like, dislike, or would like clarification on! And by the way, there is a small AN at the end of this chapter. Thanks again!

-fancy blood

Sage managed to keep any Machiavellian Marauder plots from her mind throughout her lessons, even earning praise from Flitwick for her stellar Avis charm. Granted, that praise had made it easier for her to keep focused on the rest of her tasks. However, it all went to hell as soon as she showed up for Quidditch practice. The sight of James and Sirius brought back all the feelings of anger and betrayal and she was having a hard time focusing on her fellow Chasers. In fact, after her fourth drop, her rage was at an all-time high.

"What in the bloody hell, Sage?" James screamed, hovering a foot away from her. "What is your problem?"

"I've got a lot on my mind, okay?" She said through gritted teeth, throwing the retrieved Quaffle to Demetrius Johnson.

"Not okay!" James bellowed. "We're playing Ravenclaw in a few weeks and you're the weak link! Don't think I won't replace you just because you're my sister." Sage threw a sharp look at James, rage making her cheeks heat into a bright maroon.

"WELL THEN DO IT!" Sage screamed. He reared back from her in shock and she glared at him, before turning on a pin and flying to the edge of the pitch. She landed harshly, using the momentum to dismount from her broom clumsily and race to the dressing room. She dressed in record speed and made her way straight to Gryffindor Tower, bypassing the Great Hall, despite her rumbling stomach.

As expected, her dorm was completely empty, save Lumos. The white cat watched as Sage stalked around the room, muttering and running her hand over her hair until it fell out of the bun she put it in for practice. How dare they interfere in her life? She knew James, and possibly, probably, Sirius, was behind scaring off any interested suitor. Though, the other two had gone along with it, evidently without real complaint, so they were complicit.

Were they trying to protect her? Did it matter? More likely, they were doing it purely to be arseholes. It wasn't enough to pull prank after prank for the past six years; they had to make sure she was actually miserable as well.

Sage was distracted from her internal ranting by a few soft taps on the dormitory door, followed by a much louder thump.

"What in the—" She muttered, striding to the door and wrenching it open, only to be nearly decapitated by a flying…telescope? She flung herself out of the way and into the hallway, stumbling over discarded books and inkwells. She grabbed the railing and stumbled down the stairs, nearly running into James and Sirius standing on the bottom step, wands aloft. Sirius grabbed her around the waist to steady her and she wrenched away as if his hands burned.

"Are you two trying to kill me?" Sage screeched. Standing a step above the pair, she was nearly as tall, though, in her anger, she seemed to tower over them.

"We're just trying to figure out what's wrong," Sirius said softly, trying hard not to push her over the edge. James, however, continued to be as thick as a concussed troll and blundered on with the grace of one.

"Yeah, what's got your knickers in a twist?" He asked harshly. Sage seemed to swell with indignation.

"What's got my-you bloody arseholes! You want to know what's got my knickers in a twist?" She pushed past the pair and noticed the small crowd of students watching the scene with wide eyes. She turned, grabbed the boys by their ears, and marched them through the common room, spotting Remus and Peter on the way. "You two, follow me." Remus and Peter obliged quickly, following their two spluttering friends as Sage led them through the portrait hole and into an empty corridor. Sage let go of James and Sirius, whirling around to face the foursome.

"What is your problem? Is it that time of the month again?" James asked grumpily, rubbing his nearly detached earlobe. The other three Marauders let out soft groans as Sage advanced on him, eyes flashing.

"My problem, James Hardwin Potter, is that you and your imbecile friends decided that you would muck about my life with absolutely no regard to how that might make me feel," Sage growled. "I've put up with a lot of rubbish from you four, with very few complaints. But threatening any bloke that might be interested in me? Trying to sabotage the first date I've had in ages? In what reality would that be okay?" James threw a confused look at the other three.

"I don't know what you mean by sabotaging your date-" James started, but Sage cut him off.

"Oh, sure, like you didn't put Sirius up to it," She said sardonically.

"I didn't-"

"Look, I was bored and I don't trust Prewitt. That's why I followed you. James had nothing to do with it," Sirius said quickly, flinching as Sage rounded on him.

"Oh, for the sake of Merlin's left b—there is no reason not to trust Gideon! He was a perfect gentleman and we had a lovely time until you ruined it!"

"'A lovely time'? You looked nauseatingly bored half the time and just straight nauseated every time he touched you!" Sirius said loudly, flinging his arms in the air for emphasis.

"He's right, you did look highly uncomfortable," Remus spoke up finally. She leveled a glare at him, watching as he stood his ground even as Peter shrunk back. "Well, you did," Remus said defensively, albeit quietly.

"Which brings me back to my first point! Maybe if I had a better selection, I wouldn't have wasted an afternoon on someone I really wasn't interested in. But apparently, you four have been scaring off anyone who's shown a bit of interest in me for Godric know's how long," Sage spat, crossing her arms. "Why?"

"Why what?" James asked, mirroring her stance.

"Why on Earth would you think that's okay?" Sage asked, quieting down and finally allowing herself to feel the hurt coursing through her veins. At the sound of her defeat, the four boys shrunk in on themselves. While she was angry, it was easier to be defensive or even angry back, but the Marauders had a weakness for the younger Potter. She was their friend, ally, sometimes alibi, sometimes voice of reason when even Remus was caught up in their mischievousness.

"We were trying to protect you," James said, unraveling his arms to hang limply at his sides.

"From what?"

"Getting hurt. We know first-hand how awful guys can be, especially at this age," Sirius spoke up, shoulders slumped.

"Don't you think it's my prerogative to find out just how awful they are? I understand the sentiment but you can't protect me from life," she said beseechingly.

"Of course it is, Sage," Remus responded. "Our actions were ill-advised and quite frankly, plain stupid. I'm sorry."

"Sorry, Sage," Peter mumbled.

"Sorry, Sagey." That from Sirius. Sage looked up at her big brother, who stared right back. His hazel eyes were conflicted behind his glasses as he finally saw her for what she was; a bright, caring, wonderful woman who deserved to make her own mistakes and live life to the fullest.

"I can't apologize for trying to protect you and I'll never stop, but I promise that I'll let you live your life in the way you see fit. And I'll be there to support you through it, and curse any guy that hurts you until they're writhing on the floor like a slug." Sage let out a chuckle and nodded.

"Deal." The siblings smiled brightly at each other.

"Right, well, I'm running late. I'll see you guys later," Remus said, backing away from the group.

"Yeah, I still have that essay for McGonagall," Peter said, following Remus with a small wave.

"I should have met Lily five minutes ago. Bollocks, she isn't going to be happy," James groaned, glancing at his watch.

"Just tell her you were helping me through a crisis. She'll eat that up," Sage said with a smile. "Just don't tell her you were the one to cause that crisis."

"Right-O. Good looking out," James said, saluting her as he turned on his heel.

Sage looked up at Sirius, suddenly realizing that they were very much alone. "I'm not up to studying tonight, I think."

"Fair enough," Sirius said. He stared down at her for a moment before speaking again. "Go change into something more comfortable and meet me in on the seventh floor, across from the tapestry of Barnabas the Barmy in forty-five minutes."

"Why?" Sage asked suspiciously.

"Because, Sage Potter, I'm going to show you how a date should be. As friends, of course."

"Of course," Sage said, slowly.

"You know, since it's my fault you only have Gideon to compare to. That way, you know what to look for when the right guy comes along." Sage considered Sirius' smiling face and nodded.

"Fine, forty-five minutes."

So about James' middle name: of course, there is no cannon-approved answer; I checked. But I found a very interesting argument on the various options on Quora which convinced me to use Hardwin. If you'd like to read it, here's the link: What-was-James-Potters-middle-name

I know doesn't like links, so if that doesn't work for some reason, just google "what is James Potter's middle name" and it should be the first result. Just in case y'all were wondering :)