Bubbles

The following day was abnormally quiet around the castle. The aftershock of the attacks were seen everywhere. Every house has lost at least one student, the Hufflepuffs receiving the worst blow Richard Pudding and Gilbert Whimple, along with a female sixth year whose name Peter couldn't remember had been lost in the explosion at Shimling's. Ravenclaw had lost Draco Waffling. Even Slytherin had lost students. Their own loss in Gryffindor hadn't been particularly close to Peter, but even he had exchanged a few kind words with Catriona Marsh over the years and Margaret Bell had been near inconsolable the previous evening.

With a heavy heart, Peter left the other Marauders behind in the common room and ventured to the library to meet for his first tutoring session with Isabella Zark. He crossed the library quietly to their previously decided meeting spot and there she was. Peter was once again surprised by her greeting.

"I was so sorry to hear about Marsh. Did you know her?"

Peter shook his head. "Not really, a friend of mine is a friend with a friend of hers sort of acquaintance."

Zark nodded her head in understanding. "This is all a bloody mess."

Peter looked at her in surprise. A Slytherin saying this 'is all a bloody mess'? I mean, I know they lost some Slytherins in that mess, but I still thought…

"I told you we weren't all evil, Peter," she said quietly, as she opened her Herbology text.

"I…" Peter shrugged. "I'm sorry. You were right. Do you still want to work on this today?"

Isabella looked up at him. "Of course. This all is wretched, but life goes on. If it stops… they win, you know? Even if they don't really win in the end… that would be a major victory." She shrugged. "Or perhaps that's my famous Slytherin ambition speaking. Either way, I'd just like to get to work on this."

"Alright then," Peter opened his text. "Where did you start having problems?"

"Oof." Sirius fell to the floor with a thud. He quickly snatched at the letter that had fluttered from his hand and began to mutter an apology until he realized whom he had smashed into.

"Snivellus." Sirius nearly growled. He's one of them, his mind hissed irrationally.

The smaller boy narrowed his eyes and reached quickly for his wand. "Get out of my way, Black."

Sirius also pulled out his wand, without pausing he said, "Confundus Maximus. Furnunculus. Petrificus Totalus." He didn't even remain to watch the effects of his handiwork as he strode quickly down the corridor.

He rounded a corner and found himself in a somewhat familiar hall. It was deserted and he began to pace the length of it, talking to himself and gesturing violently with the hand that still held the crumpled letter in it.

"I knew this would happen…" He stomped angrily on the ground. "Death sentence, it was a bloody death sentence from the start." He collapsed against the wall, tossed the balled up paper in front of him and set it on fire with his wand, hoping that by destroying the words, he could destroy the truth.

Sirius suddenly became aware of the sound of approaching footsteps. He debated making a run for it, but suddenly felt as though he had no strength. Instead he tried to curl himself up into a little ball in the corner and hope that whoever passed by didn't glance in his direction.

Remus rounded the corner, stopped and stared at the pathetic sight in front of him.

"Sirius?" He cautiously approached his best friend. "What was in that letter?" He took a few more steps in the direction of the huddled mass. "You ran right out of the dormitory. Peter, James and I have been looking for you for more than an hour."

Sirius just looked at his friend with a glazed expression in his eyes.

Remus instantly recognized that expression, having worn it himself more than a year ago. He immediately crossed to his best friend and slung an arm around his shoulder. Quietly, he murmured just one word. "Who?"

Sirius looked at him, pleading with his eyes not to make him say it aloud.

Remus just repeated a little more firmly. "Who?"

"Ted."

Remus winced. He knew that Sirius was far closer to Ted and Andromeda Tonks than to his own parents.

"Andie said…" he trailed off. Taking a deep breath, in the most forlorn voice Remus had ever hear Sirius use, he rushed out in one long word, "AndiesaidDorakeepsaskingwheredaddyis." He shook his head. "How do you explain this to a kid?"

Remus winced again.

Sirius turned to his best friend and just stared at him for a moment. He took another deep breath and exhaled slowly.

"I don't know how to do this." His eyes pleaded with Remus for an answer. "I just don't know how to do this."

The look crossing Remus's face was one of the saddest Sirius had ever seen. Remus shook his head slightly. "There is no way to do this." Remus swallowed hard. "Just keep breathing. It's all you can do. Just keep breathing."

The first weeks of November passed in a blur for the Marauders. Sirius seemed to take Remus's advice to heart. He did as he had always done, but all three of the Marauders noticed that at times, he would seem to disappear into himself, just as Remus did.

One particular evening after both Remus and Sirius retired to bed, Peter and James remained in the common room, studying for an upcoming History of Magic test.

James closed his book and leaned deep into the chair.

"Do you ever wonder when it'll happen to you?"

"Eh?" Peter looked up from his text. "When what'll happen?"

"When a letter'll come for you…"

Peter continued to appear confused for a moment until all of a sudden James's meaning hit home with astonishing clarity.

"Yes."

James nodded in agreement.

Peter stared into the fire for a moment. "At least I don't really have to worry about my family yet… They don't seem to be attacking random Muggles. But I worry that I'll read the Daily Prophet one day and I'll see names I know."

James nodded again, still silent.

"I worry about my dad," he said suddenly. "I worry because he does." He looked at Peter. "This guy is bad news, Peter. He makes my dad worry. No one makes my dad worry." He grinned. "Well, except maybe my mum when she's in a fury…"

Peter grinned.

"I mentioned it to my dad in my last letter. That I… you know… worry about him. He told me not to. He said to leave the grown up problems to the grown ups and to just be a kid." James snickered. "He said he was worried about me. He hadn't gotten a letter from McGonagall or Dumbledore in more than three weeks."

"I could see how that would concern your family," Peter mused.

"That being said, since I've essentially been told to go get in trouble-" James began.

"Oi," Peter groaned, but leaned forward to listen to his latest scheme.

Remus and James crowded over the four cauldrons bubbling in the center of their room.

"Does anyone know where Frank is? This would be a bit difficult to explain," Remus asked as he stirred two of the cauldrons.

"Oh, here, I think this could be useful." Peter looked up from the book he was reading and pulled out his wand. "Watch your hands Remus, James." He flicked his wand four times and mumbled, "Stirripitus." Nothing happened. "Hold on, hold on." He skimmed the page again. "Oh. Alright." He flicked his wand four times and swished as he said clearly, "Stirripitus." The four cauldrons began to stir themselves. He grinned widely.

"Nice one, Pete," Remus said.

"Frank was in the courtyard with Rob Cage earlier," Sirius offered. "I imagine he'll be some time."

"How long does it need to simmer?" Sirius asked, peering at the bubbling contents.

"Until a bubble floats out. Of each cauldron, that is," James replied. "How're we going to transport it?"

Remus scrambled under his bed and pulled out four large containers. "With these."

"It won't eat through them?" James asked, flicking his finger against the glass.

Remus shrugged. "I hope not."

Sirius turned to Peter. "How many bathrooms are there?"

Peter pulled out several of the sketches he was using to create their map. He pointed out eight different areas. "You'll take the two here. If the time release charm is effective, you should be fine to get to them both and to the library before anything happens, but you'll need to move quick. Remus, you'll take this one here by the library and the one near the Great Hall. You're likely to get caught, but you've had the least number of detentions this year and those two areas need to be covered to get the reaction we want." Remus nodded and Peter continued. "James, you'll need to take the one in the dungeons and the one by the kitchens, near the Hufflepuff common room and the Charms corridor. It's a big distance, but I think you can make it before the potion begins to ferment." Peter paused and looked at the containers Remus had procured. "I'm not so sure that it won't eat through them if we don't get the potions out of them in time. The book mentioned something along those lines." He shrugged. "So just make sure you get it into the bathroom in time." He shifted papers. "And I'll cover the bathrooms near the Defense Against the Dark Arts wing and the Transfiguration corridor. That should cover it."

Sirius clapped Peter on the back. "Impressive planning, Peter."

Peter grinned widely.

"I do believe, gentlemen, that was is a bubble." James pointed to the cauldron. Floating above one was a large, orange bubble. A moment later, two more bubbles, pink and blue, wafted out of the other two cauldrons. Immediately after that, the final cauldron emitted a green bubble.

"Right then." Remus handed out the containers. "Dump it in and seal them. Don't touch the potion though."

"We're sure this won't hurt anyone?" Peter asked, dumping the orange potion into the container.

"No one but us," James replied. "And that's only if you touch it. Once it enters the water, it'll be diluted enough."

"Meet you in the library in twenty minutes," Sirius called, already heading out the door with his container of pink potion.

The other three boys quickly followed him out and dispersed to different areas of the castle.

Exactly twenty two minutes later, the Marauders, quietly studying at a table near the entrance to the library, looked up at each other and began to listen.

Sure enough, moments later, the hallways were filled with indignant cries and copious amounts of yelling. Moments after that, blue and green bubbles began to flood through the door to the library and spread around the room.

The four boys jumped up and scrambled out into the hallways to view their craftsmanship and enjoy the chaos.

"Sweet Merlin, look," Sirius crowed, glancing down towards the Great Hall. Sure enough, standing in the middle of the foyer, where bubbles of all four colors were meeting and piling up, was Professors Dumbledore, McGonagall and Nackle. Professor Nackle was bright red and furious, barking orders at all the students nearby, demanding to know who had perpetrated this heinous act and yelling at all the students to help stop the flow of the bubbles. Professor McGonagall stood slightly dumbstruck, clearly unsure of what to do next. Professor Dumbledore, however, had scooped up a handful of bubbles and blown them into the air, smiling slightly.

"I do suppose we ought to stop this, Headmaster," Professor McGonagall finally managed to say.

The Headmaster appeared thoughtful for a moment and then nodded. "I do suppose you have a point, Minerva. And I also believe that to create such a quantity of bubbles as this… it would be wise if we were to search the toilets, Professor. One needs a large amount of water for this potion to work properly."

"What potion is this?" Professor McGonagall headed off in the direction of the nearest toilets with Dumbledore.

"Why Minerva," he smiled at her. "It's a variation on the Mwielo Potion. It commonly comes up on O.W.L.s."

"O.W.L.s? I was certain that Mr. Potter and Mr. Black were behind this."

Professor Dumbledore quirked an eyebrow. "As am I." He scooped up another handful of bubbles. "Impressive, no?"

Sirius turned to look at the other Marauders. He smirked. "We're impressive."

A throat cleared behind them. The boys turned around to see Professor Nackle and Filch standing over them.

"We're in trouble," Peter muttered. "Again."

That evening, Remus, carrying a mop and a bucket, made his way to the library to complete his detention. Filch had split the four boys up and sent them off to clean different areas of the castle. As he entered the library, he was surprised to find Melissa casting a popping charm at pile of bubbles and then mopping up the remains.

"What're you doing here?" Remus sputtered. He'd been so busy the last few weeks that they'd barely spoken.

"Lily and I got into a bit of a fight this afternoon." She shrugged sheepishly. "I… er… well, suffice to say the others got a little involved. I believe Lily was sentenced to clean out the Trophy Room? Becca and Alice are in the dungeons. Tessa… I have no idea where they sent Tessa." She ran a soap covered hand through her hair, turning the bushy curls into a sopping mess and then groaned as she realized what she had just done. "I've been at this for nearly two hours. I've no idea when Filch'll reprieve me. He can't really expect me to clean the entire library, can he?"

"He might, especially now that I've been assigned to it too." Remus gestured at his mop, with the hand holding the bucket.

Melissa groaned.

Remus cast a popping charm on a cluster of bubbles and began to mop up the mess. "What were you and Lily fighting about?"

Melissa turned bright red. "Just… girl stuff. It was stupid. I really shouldn't've let her get to me."

"Are you still friends?" Remus asked, concerned.

Melissa smiled. "Of course, it was just a fight." She paused. "I hope so anyway."

"Hold on, did you say Lily was cleaning the Trophy Room?" Remus hesitated before wringing out his mop.

"Yes, why?"

Remus snickered. "So is James."

"You and James both have detention?"

"We all have detention."

She stopped cleaning for a moment and surveyed the mass of bubbles. "You did this." She glared.

Remus made a face. "The number one rule of being a Marauder is- when questioned 'deny, deny, deny'. Well, maybe not the number one rule, but it's up there."

She sighed. "Alice wondered if it might've been you lot, but Lily said it was an O.W.L. level charm." She looked at him. "I didn't think that would stop you lot."

He grinned. They worked in a companionable silence for a while.

"Read anything interesting lately?" She finally broke the silence.

"Actually-" He paused and then thought, what the hell. "I've been reading this book by Cassandra Trelawny."

"Excuse me?" She plunked her mop into her bucket. "You're reading about Divination?"

He raised his eyebrow. "Evidently you know it's about Divination, so you know some stuff about her."

"Tessa."

"Oh, right."

Melissa shook her head and rolled her eyes.

"I didn't say I agree with it, but I do believe there are some Seers. She seems like she might be one. It's an interesting read. My grandmum sent it to me."

"Well, that was nice of her." The two continued mopping in silence.

Remus leaned against the wall for a moment. "You?"

"Huh?" Melissa stopped mopping.

"What have you been reading?"

"Another Muggle writer. J.D. Salinger."

"Any good?"

"I like him."

Why is this so awkward? Remus thought. We talked the entire day at Hogsmeade.

Yes, but you haven't spoken with her since. Not beyond, pass the parchment, that is.

You again.

You always seem surprised when I show up.

Multiple personalities freaks out many a wizard, I'd imagine.

Still, maybe the reason this is awkward is because she expected to hear more from you after Hogsmeade.

But that wasn't a date or anything. Our friends ditched us.

You both knew you easily could've found them instead of going off on your own.

Oh shut it.

-

Well?

-

Well are you going to tell me how to fix the awkwardness or what?

-

Oh, stop it. Talk again.

I thought you wanted me to shut it.

Remus rolled his eyes. It's lovely when even the voices in your head are against you.

Tell her that you like her.

Remus gasped aloud. Melissa glanced over at him with a curious look. He shook his head.

No way.

He cautiously glanced over at the girl. She'd run her hand through her hair several more times since he'd arrived and she looked like a thoroughly drowned rat. Her glasses kept slipping down her nose and she'd pause occasionally to unceremoniously shove them back up her face. Her robes were tossed over a nearby chair, her shirt sleeves were unbuttoned and rolled up messily to two different lengths and her shirt was becoming untucked where it met her skirt. One of her knee socks was still pulled up, but the other had slid down around her ankle before he even entered the library. He tilted his head in an effort to study her better.

She glanced up and her eyes widened with surprise that he was staring right at her. He blushed bright red and so did she, but she smiled slightly and then quickly went back to mopping. When she smiled he felt the entire room light up.

I'm in so much trouble.

"I have to work with you?" James sputtered as he noticed the girl popping bubbles and mopping them up in the Trophy Room.

"Potter?" Lily Evans gasped and looked up. "No. No. I am not going to clean this entire room with you. No." She pointed at the doorway. "Get out. The entire castle is filled with bubbles. Go find another room."

"They're gone."

"What?"

"They're gone. Filch had the professors leave specific parts for us to clean, but the rest of the bubbles are gone."

Lily dropped her mop into the mess of bubbles and put her hands on her hips. "I am not serving my detention with you."

"Miss Evans-"

Lily gasped as Professor McGonagall appeared in the doorway. "I am certain a bright young lady such as yourself understands that a detention is a punishment and not a holiday where the one serving said detention may choose their companions. I will also remind you that while Mr. Potter may well have submerged the better part of the castle in bubbles with his companions, at no time did he actually inflict pain on anyone. It would be to your benefit to think about such things while you mop. Detention is punishment, not a social engagement."

"Yes, ma'am." Lily began searching through the suds for her mop.

Professor McGonagall peered into the room one last time before continuing down the hallway.

James looked over and noticed Lily still searching through the suds for her mop. He crossed to where she was standing and used his own mop to push the suds out of the way for her.

She quickly found and grabbed her mop, still glaring at him.

"You're welcome, Evans." He stalked back across to where he'd put his bucket down and began to clean.

"This is going to be a long night," she muttered under her breath and went back to cleaning.

Author's Note: Sorry the snippets are kind of short and not really detailed. I've got wicked writers block and I've noticed that sometimes the way to get around it is just to try to keep writing… so when that happens you get these bizarre, disjointed little snippets. I'm working on a couple of ideas that go deeper into the Marauder world. I think. :oP