"Have you noticed that James and Lily are behaving far more civilly to one another recently?" Rebecca asked. She was walking towards the library with Frank and Peter.
"Actually, yes," Peter said. "They seem to have come to some sort of silent truce. It's a lot more pleasant that before."
"No kidding, I had nothing to do with any of this and I still wound up covered in honey and waking at the crack of dawn," Frank grumbled.
His sister burst into laughter, "That was Alice."
"We all picked an area of the room but we tried to avoid yours… Alice forgot. Actually, I think she thought you were Sirius, and he'd turned her shoes into hamsters earlier that day. Now you see that she's like when she's out for revenge."
Frank's eyes widened for a moment and then returned to their regular size, "Good to know she understands the fine art of revenge. We just need to work on accuracy."
The three of them chuckled at that and entered the library.
"So what are you two signing up for next term?" Peter asked as they settled into a table.
"Latin Studies and Arithmancy," Frank said.
Peter and Becca made identical faces, "Latin Studies?"
"Oh get off it, Becca. You know what I want to do when I grow up, Latin Studies'll be useful. And there's talk of discontinuing it soon, so I need to sign up now. It goes beyond just Latin into ancient Greek and Roman, too."
"Why not just take Ancient Runes?"
"Because that's not really what spells are comprised of."
"What do you want to do?" Peter asked, he'd never given much thought to what he wanted to do after Hogwarts, it seemed so far away.
"I want to work for the Ministry designing spells."
"Isn't he nuts, Peter? What a dull job."
"Get off it, Beck. And what exactly are you taking?"
"Muggle Studies and Care of Magical Creatures."
"Dad's going to kill you."
"But Mum will save me… they're more lady-like in her deranged little world than a class like Arithamancy or Ancient Runes."
"Sure she'll save you, until she finds out what you want to do with those classes."
"Do with them?" Peter asked.
"I want to work with Magical Creatures. Dunno which ones yet."
"What does Muggle Studies have to do with that?"
"Good question, Pete."
"Nothing at all, I just didn't know what else I wanted to take, so Alice, Lily and I are going to take that together."
"You got Lily to take a slacker class?" Frank asked incredulously.
Rebecca chuckled, "She suggested it actually, 'fascinating to study Muggles from the wizarding point of view'. The girl's a bit off, that's for sure."
"Oi," Frank chuckled. "What about you, Peter?"
"Muggle Studies and Ancient Runes, so I guess we'll have a class together, Becca," he looked over to her.
She nodded and smiled, "We can torture Lily together. But for now, Flitwick's got the one up on torture, we'd best finish studying for this final."
"Only Charms and Potions, then we're done with Second Year, how odd," Frank mused, pulling his text out of his satchel.
"Yeah, how odd," Peter agreed quietly.
"Bloody hell, Remus, how did you manage one hundred and fifteen percent in Defense Against the Dark Arts? And don't give me any of that 'I studied' malarkey," Sirius whistled as he looked at the posted grades.
"Jabberwocky extra credit essay at the end of the final." The brown haired boy eagerly scanned the paper for his own grades. He grinned to himself, "Second in the Year, not bad at all." He turned to James, "I edged you out by a point this year."
"And Lily edged you out by two points," Peter commented, glancing at his own grades and wincing. "Well, it's a bit better than last year."
James clapped him on the back, "You did brilliant in Herbology again, Pete." Then his eyes widened. "I did it!"
"Oh bloody hell," Remus muttered, pointing to Lily Evan's final marks for Charms. "He beat her by two points. She's going to have a fit."
At that moment, the aforementioned red head pushed her way through the group with Alice Smith at her side.
"Top of the year again, Lil."
Lily hushed her friend and seemingly searched for a specific grade. "Ah ha!" She turned to James and smirked. "You seem to have finished up with a ninety seven percent in Transfiguration, Mr. Potter."
He smirked back, "I know."
Her smirk melted into a sweet grin, "That's a decent grade. Not as good as one hundred and one percent."
"What?" James pushed back through the crowd to look at the paper again. "Bloody hell, how? What? McGonagall never gives extra credit. Never."
"Do you recall that paper on the finer points of inter-animal transfigurations that Professor Nackle assigned when covering her class? No one did it, so she didn't make it count?" Her grin widened as a look of recognition crossed his face. "Let's just say she made sure all my hard work didn't go to waste."
James scowled for a moment, but then his expression brightened as a thought crossed his mind, "Pity really, that you didn't put that time towards Charms."
"Get off it, Potter. I'm the best Charms student in our year by meters." She crossed her arms and glared at him.
"Really? Odd then that my grade is two points higher than yours."
"What?" She spun back around to double check what he'd just said. "I don't believe it," she muttered and then stalked away angrily, Alice following after her, shooting a sympathetic look over her shoulder.
"Right then, I think it's a lovely day to sit by the lake, so that's what I'm going to do," Remus claimed, starting off in the directions of large doors that led out onto the grounds.
The other three followed and they were soon settled comfortably in front of the lake.
"What have you got there Remus? Exams are over, put the books down," James teased.
"Isaac Asimov," Remus muttered, not looking up from the book. His back was propped comfortably against a tree and his legs were splayed in front of him.
"Who?" Sirius asked, trying to peer at the book cover.
"Another Muggle writer," Peter replied. "Write science fiction stuff, robots and androids, lots of other stuff, too, never really liked it myself. I suspect he's a Squib, most of the science fiction readers seem to be."
"Let's see," Sirius tapped his chin thoughtfully. "You might not like it, but I'd wager anything that Melissa Watts does."
Remus was so startled he actually dropped the book. The other Marauders had let up on him about her recently and he'd hoped they'd just forgotten. Fat chance, he thought wryly.
"Well there's our answer then," Sirius continued. "We thought you might've had a thing for Evans-"
"-or McGonagall, Trixie that is," James interrupted. "Apparently we were wrong."
"I… no. I just like… science fiction. Bugger off, you gits," Remus muttered, picking up the book and trying to hide behind it. The other three boys chuckled, but dropped the matter.
James reached into his satchel and pulled out a Quaffle.
"Did you nick that?" Peter asked incredulously.
"Borrowed, Peter. The key word is borrowed. I fully intend to return it before we leave." He lobbed the ball to Sirius and the two proceeded to play catch for some time, while Peter alternating between watching them and trying to turn Bob into a porcupine (part of the fifth primer spell).
After a bit, Peter gave up and scooted over to where Remus was reading.
"Which book is it?"
Remus tilted the book so that Peter could see the title.
"For Mel, huh?"
Peter saw the back of his neck begin to turn red. "Maybe I just want to read it myself."
"Right. Just like any normal eleven year old boy want to read Little Women."
"This isn't Little Women."
Remus sighed and closed the book.
"I still don't understand why you keep reading these books."
"To talk to her."
"But she seems to like talking with you about anything."
"That's because she'll talk to anyone about anything."
"I want her to talk to me because… I want her to want to talk to me... differently than she wants to talk to any of you," Remus shook his head. "That sounded mad."
"Yeah, it did, you nutter," Peter grinned. He glanced slyly over at James and Sirius who were still completely wrapped up in their game of catch, they were now timing the quaffle to heat up with each toss, apparently it would eventually burst into flames. "Do you want to kiss her?"
Remus turned bright red, "Er…"
"Fine, sorry I asked," Peter amended quickly. "I just thought there were no secrets between Marauders."
Remus sighed again, "No, you're right. I… eventually."
"Eventually?" Peter looked puzzled.
Remus hesitated and then began to speak with a look of resigned humiliation on his face, "You know Frank and Alice, right?"
"You know they like each other. A lot."
"And well, you know Tessa and Sirius, they 'went out' and they flirt with one another all the time. You know they like each other, but it's not the same, right?"
Peter mulled it over for a moment, "Yeah, you're right. They're nowhere near the same."
"But Alice and Frank have never gone out and, well… I think they're smarter that way."
Peter looked at him as though he were mad. "What do you mean?"
Remus blushed even redder and ducked his head back into his book so his friend couldn't see his face, "I think I love her, Peter."
Peter's jaw dropped and his head immediately swiveled to check on James and Sirius again. He was sure that if they'd overheard there was no way they'd be able to mask their reactions. Clearly they hadn't as they were still intent upon their game of catch. Peter shook his head as though to clear his mind and then looked back at his quiet, brown haired friend.
"Does she love you?"
"Oh…" The two boys sat in an awkward silence for a long moment. "Are you sure?"
"Don't tell the others Peter, please? They wouldn't… I mean… they'd think I need to be committed."
"Of course not," he said quickly, fully resolved to keep this secret to himself. Then he chuckled, trying to break the tension, "Although I'm not so sure you shouldn't be committed."
Remus gave him a look and then chuckled with him.
"Toss me my socks, Pete?" Sirius yelled from across the room as the four boys packed up their belongings.
"These are yours? I thought they were mine," Peter said, preparing to throw them.
Remus quickly intercepted, "Actually, you gits, they're mine. Thank you, Peter." Remus crossed over and finished folding up his robes. "I can't wait to go to Diagon Alley, I really need new robes. I must've grown four inches this year, these are far too short."
"I hear you, Remmy," Sirius said, gesturing to the hem of his own robes that were rather short.
Peter and James both exchanged slightly envious glances, neither of them had grown much that year.
"My mum and dad told me I could invite the three of you over for a week or two this summer," Peter told the others as he unceremoniously dumped his text books into his trunk. "I was thinking the beginning of August."
"Sounds good," Sirius said. "Anything to get me out of my house." He groaned. "Two months in the Most Noble and Ancient House of Black… kill me now, please."
"Isn't your brother starting here next year?" James asked as he dumped an object that looked suspiciously like a school Quaffle into his trunk.
"Yeah, I'm sure Slytherin will house another Black. Bella will be thrilled," Sirius replied dryly.
Quickly trying to change the subject (since Sirius could rave about the madness that was his family for hours when in the company of close friends), Remus asked, "So what are you lot doing for the holiday?"
"My mum is keen on me getting a paper route for the summer, but I'm hoping to avoid that somehow. I don't really fancy rising before the crack of dawn to ride my bicycle around the neighborhood," Peter grumbled.
"A paper route? What's that?" James asked
"A horrid way devised to earn money by getting up far too early in the morning."
"Oh. Best of luck with that, mate," James replied cheekily. Peter glared at him. "Any better on the Black front?"
"I think I'm going to sneak away to spend a few days with Andie and Nymphadora, then back to the prison," Sirius sighed. "I'd invite you lot, you know, but…"
"You know, I don't really think we want to go, so don't worry about it too much, Sirius," Peter injected.
"Understandable. And you, Remmy? Going to owl love letter back and forth with Mel all summer?"
Remus tossed his pillow at him.
"You should just tell her! Easiest thing in the world, I'm telling you."
Easy as hugging an acromatula, Remus thought. Actually, I think I'd prefer the acromantula.
"Let him alone, Sirius," Peter said, his voice muffled from speaking while rummaging in his trunk. Remus flashed Peter a grateful look.
"I'm just going to spend the summer catching up on reading."
All three of the other Marauders stopped what they were doing to stare at him incredulously.
Remus rolled his eyes. "Pete?"
"My family and I are going camping for a bit," he sat down on his trunk and tried to lean over to close the latches, but the trunk was too full and his weight wasn't enough to close it. Sirius crossed over and stood on the trunk next to Peter as James and Remus each wrestled a latch closed. "I was thinking maybe you lot could come with us, if I asked, they'd probably let me."
"Sure Pete," Remus smiled, then his smile darkened. "It would really depend on when."
Peter's eyes widened with a look of concern, "Oh no, Remus. I'd make sure it was when you could come."
Remus forced a smile, "Thanks, but don't go to any trouble for me."
This time Sirius sacked Remus with a pillow, "You're no trouble, you git. How many times are we going to have to say that to make you believe it?"
Remus smiled sheepishly and tossed the pillow back lightly, "A lot, most likely."
"Well then we will. Potter? Your summer schedule?"
"Quidditch, Quidditch and more Quidditch. If my parents will let you lot over for a bit…" James crammed the rest of his robes in and managed to shut his trunk.
"Don't worry about it, we'll see one another somehow this summer," Remus managed as he neatly shut his trunk. "Ah ha!" He dove under his bed and a moment later presented Bob to Peter. "Found hi-" He dove under Peter's bed this time and came up with a sorry looking amphibian. He shook his head and put Arthur back in his cage on top of Frank's trunk.
James and Sirius laughed as Peter put Bob back into his cage and Remus slipped from the room, with a final glance back at his three friends, now trying to catch the rat, since Peter had forgotten to latch the cage.
"Well, I think I'm going to pop in and bid adieu to the lovely Madison Bell," Sirius said, standing up. The Marauders were on the Hogwarts Express headed back to London. Sitting in their compartment for a final visit with them were Tessa and Melissa.
Tessa rolled her eyes good naturedly at him, "You're going to scare her to death, Sirius Black. If you ever want to really date her in the future, you need to stay away from her now."
The train jolted and Sirius grabbed onto the luggage rack above him with one hand. "What do you mean?"
"I mean, she's noticed that you stare at her all the time and that you always go out of your way to say hello to her in the corridors. It's terrifying her, really."
"Never terrified you," he retorted, appearing puzzled.
Melissa snorted, "That's an understatement."
"How are you different?"
"Well, to begin with, I don't really recall you ever staring at me or going out of your way to do anything other than fight with me, luv," she emphasized the pet name and rolled her eyes again. Ever since their brief little romance, the two had remained friends and kept up the use of the nicknames. "She's not quite as advanced as I am." Her head quickly swiveled towards Melissa, "Not a word."
Melissa held up her hands in silent surrender, but couldn't mask the amused grin on her face.
Sirius cocked his head to one side, "Of course I always hunted you down to fight with, you're so much cuter when you're angry." Then he quickly slipped out of the car before Tessa had a chance to reply.
Remus glanced over at Tessa who was wearing an expression of amused, and somewhat happy, shock and then chanced a glance at Melissa. He wasn't surprised to see a look of complete understanding there.
He wrinkled his brows in sudden understanding and leaned over to whisper in Melissa's ear, "She still likes him?"
Melissa turned her head slightly to whisper back to him, "He still likes her, too, I just don't think he realizes it."
"You think so? He's never said anything like that."
He could hear the grin in her voice with the next statement, "The two of them have far too much fun fighting to not get together again soon. Lily and James are exactly the same way, they just haven't found the fun in it yet."
Remus sat back and thought that she was probably right.
"We'd best head back to our compartment, Tessa," Melissa said, standing up and grinning at the three remaining boys. "Have a nice holiday you lot. I'm sure it'll be September in a blink and we'll all be back soon."
Tessa stood up, "You know, I think I'd like to stop in and say good-bye to Colin."
Tessa grinned and nodded as Melissa shook her head in resignation.
"Happy holiday, boys," Tessa told them, pausing to hug all three, not an entirely unusual gesture from her.
"Be careful you two," James said quietly. "We all know… well, being Muggleborns and all…"
Melissa placed a hand gently on his shoulder but her words were firm and sure, "We'll see you in September, James. Safe and sound."
James waved his hand in a dismissive gesture, as his face went slightly red, "Of course. I know that."
Tessa slid the door open stepped out into the hallway. For a moment, Melissa stood as though she'd forgotten something and then quickly pulled Remus into an embrace. It ended before it had even really begun and before any of the boys could blink, both girls were heading down the corridor with Melissa calling over her shoulder, "Happy holiday, boys."
Remus sat back down, glowing bright red, only face identical looks of quirked eyebrows and amusement from Peter and James.
"And what was that?" Peter asked.
Turning even redder, "Er… I'm sure she's just a little worried, you know… Voldemort… being Muggleborn… my parents or something…"
"Sure, Remus," James conceded, glancing conspiratorially at him.
"Right, of course," Peter chirped.
Oh bloody hell. "Malfoy."
"Where are your little sidekicks?"
James turned around to face Gallus Malfoy. "I could ask you the same. Lurking nearby, no doubt."
"Worried about your little girlfriends, no doubt."
"Those Mudbloods that idiot friend of yours calls the Gryffindor Five, all Mudbloods aren't they?"
"There's no such thing as mud blood, Malfoy. And if there was, I'd be far more inclined to believe we'd be discussing yours."
Gallus narrowed his eyes at James, "You'll want to watch who you insult, Potter. Your family may be able to save you, but your friends don't have the same luxury."
"Are you threatening my friends?" James asked, taking a menacing step forward.
"Threatening isn't really the right word. I'd think a Pureblood like yourself would understand that it's important to keep the blood clean."
"All magical blood is clean, Malfoy. I don't know what you're getting at, so you'd best spell it out so I can step off." James wrapped his arms across his chest.
"What I'm proposing, Potter, is that you are from one of the oldest Pureblood families in the wizarding community. You'll want to decide where your loyalties lie. Quickly." Malfoy glanced at him, as though expecting him to declare his alliance with Voldemort right there on the spot.
"My loyalties lie with my friends, and they always will, Malfoy. Many of whom are what you and your kind consider," James paused and then spat out the word, "Mudbloods." He shook his head. "Death Eaters have already killed my best friend's parents, you'd have to be mad to think I've ever side with you. Now get out of my way, you filth." His temper had escalated with each word until he pushed Gallus Malfoy out of the way and stalked past him.
"Very well, Potter. You were given a chance. You've been warned," Gallus just straightened himself up and started to walk down the corridor in the opposite direction. "It would be such a shame if something happened to that Watts girl this summer."
He doesn't know anything about her or where to find her. Mel will be fine, she'll be absolutely fine-
"A construction accident perhaps? That would be just awful."
James whirled around just in time to see the door connecting the corridors click shut. He fought back the urge to chase down Gallus and beat him to a pulp, instead he turned back around, opened the door on the opposite end and forcefully strode through it, smashing right into a very solid object.
"Potter," she replied quietly, taking the hand he offered to help her up. She smoothed out her skirt and adjusted her robes. "What're you doing in this end of the train? Most of the Gryffindors tend to stick to the back."
"I was just… clearing my head," he gave her a quick once over to make sure she was really alright. "You look horrid."
Trixie let out an amused laugh, "That's the best thing about boys, none of you bother with tact."
James winced, "Sorry, I meant-"
She smiled sadly and then cut him off, "You meant what you said. I could be sleeping better I suppose. You're not exactly radiant yourself."
James shrugged, "A touch of insomnia, I guess."
The two exchanged the glance of children who've dealt with too much.
"Well, I'll see you in September, then?" Trixie asked, heading back towards her compartment.
"Yes, have a happy holiday, Trixie," James replied. "Be safe."
James continued back to his compartment where Sirius was boring Remus and Peter to tears with a detailed description of his visit with Madison. Peter burst into laughter as Arthur hopped into his lap.
"Sweet Merlin, Becca's right. Frank does need that thing Spell-o-Taped to his body," Remus laughed, picking up the frog and leaving the compartment.
James just sat back and watched all this occur, thinking about his previous exchange with Gallus Malfoy and worrying about what was to come.
"Do you suppose he'll manage to sleep on the way home Seventh Year?" Peter asked, cautiously peering at Remus.
"Yup." Sirius picked up a box of Bertie Bott's he'd purchased earlier and began pegging them at his friend. "Wakey, wakey, Remmy." He stopped and put a red one into his mouth, quickly spitting it back into his hand and then chucking the slimey, chewed up bean at Remus.
The others looked at him curiously. "Blood." James grimaced. Sirius continued throwing beans at Remus as the three of them conversed.
"So… next year…" Peter began.
"Next year we'll actually be allowed to go into Hogsmeade," James grinned.
"But that'll take some of the fun out of it, don't you think?" Sirius tossed another bean.
"You know, I suspect you're right," James replied thoughtfully.
"I forgot to tell you both," Peter suddenly exclaimed. "Fifth primer spell, done! I turned Bob into a porcupine and then I even managed a small llama, which I think is part of the seventh spell, but I'm not sure."
"Fifth? But I haven't even got the fifth one down yet," Sirius exclaimed.
James laughed, "Way to go, Peter."
The train slowed to a halt and the three boys quieted for a moment and looked at one another. Sirius broke the eerie stillness by throwing a handful of beans harder than usual at Remus, who, to the rest of their surprised, threw a heavy book off of the floor at his dark haired friend.
James and Peter burst into laughter as Remus groggily sat up and brushed half a bag of beans off of himself. The four boys collected their belongings to the background sounds of Remus grumbling and Sirius telling off colored jokes and then headed out onto the platform.
Sirius nudged Peter and Remus in the ribs. "Look," he gestured with his head in James's direction.
The four boys were standing on the platform waiting. James had his wand discreetly placed up his robes, but the other three Marauders quickly realized where it was pointing.
A moment later, Severus Snape stopped short, dropping his trunk and sending his owl, still in its cage, rolling across the platform, squawking loudly. Most of the students turned to view the cause of the racket. He struggled to lift his foot, but couldn't. Remus heard Sirius and James snicker.
"What'd you do?" he whispered to James.
James snickered, "I glued his feet to the ground."
Snape stood in his spot looking confused. He reached down and grabbed at his legs, trying to pull them up.
"Are you alright, Severus?" Lily Evans rushed over, her red hair flailing behind her in her usual pigtails.
He stood straight up, "I am fine, Evans."
Lily ignored him and peered down at his feet. Remus saw her scowl and look around the platform, her eyes coming to rest on the Marauders. She glared, turned back to Severus and pointed her wand at his feet.
"Finite Incantatem, try to move now, Severus," Lily offered.
Snape gave her a look, but pulled at his leg, which was still stuck firm to the concrete of the platform.
Sirius and James both started to snicker and walk towards their trunks, Peter following closely behind. Lily turned back to glare at the Marauders but only saw Remus. She gave him a nasty look and then turned back to Snape again.
"Ah ha, exsolvo. That's it. That prat, using a Binding Charm, really, try now, Severus," Lily ordered and Snape obliged.
When his foot moved freely he looked up at her. "I was perfectly capable of deciphering the countercurse for that, Evans."
She rolled her eyes, "Your welcome, Severus. Have a lovely holiday."
Remus watched as she bounded over to where Rebecca, Frank and Alice were standing with their parents. She gave all three quick hugs and then rushed over to the barrier where Melissa and Tessa seemed to be waiting for her.
"Coming Remus? Or are you going to stay here until September?" Peter called back to him.
Remus walked over to where the other three stood among the four trunks. "Well then?"
Sirius gestured over to the far side of the platform, an older woman was standing with a slightly younger man and woman. All three were sporting colors that made it clear they were Slytherin alumni. Bellatrix Black was hugging the younger couple. "Best head off into hell, then. I'll see you lot over the summer. Owls. Lots of them. Soon." He smirked over in the direction of the Snapes, who were speaking with their son, grabbed his trunk and started over towards the Slytherin group.
James, Remus and Peter all exchanged slightly worried looks as Sirius left them. Then James perked up as his parents crossed the barrier and walked over to the three boys.
James blushed bright red as his mother gathered him up into a big hug and his dad slapped him on the back.
"Good year, son?" Mr. Potter asked.
"It was alright."
"Hello, Peter, Remus," Mrs. Potter addressed the other boys. She put a hand on Remus's back. "I'm so sorry about your parents, Remus."
Remus shrugged and looked down at the ground, swallowing hard, "Thanks."
"You're welcome at our home any time this summer," she continued. "You too, Peter."
Mr. Potter bent down and lifted James trunk for him. James turned to the other two boys, "See you then, mates."
Peter grinned, "See you."
Remus smiled back weakly, "See you."
The adult Potters bid the boys farewell and headed off through the barrier, Remus watching as James shoulder's hitched in what he assumed was a repressed chuckle when they walked past the Snapes.
"Where are your grandparents, Remus?" Peter asked, picking up the travel box that Bob had traveled in.
"Not here yet, I suppose. Where are your parents?"
"They can't cross the barrier. I've got to go out to them," Peter said, looping his fingers around the edge of his trunk.
"Well, let's go then. I can meet my grandparents out there just as well as in here," Remus replied, grabbing onto his own trunk.