It was five o'clock on a Sunday afternoon. So the last sight anyone expected to see was James Potter sitting with his head bowed over a long roll of parchment, writing feverishly. His three best friends were nowhere to be seen, and although his girlfriend, Lily Evans, was keeping him company, he scarcely heard one word in three that she said.

Sunshine was streaming brightly through the windows, and it was the first really warm day of spring. Most of Gryffindor house - and the other three houses - were outside enjoying the weather and letting off steam after a long, rainy winter pent up inside. James' friend Peter Pettigrew, who had a few minutes earlier tired of watching him work and keeping up a one-sided conversation, was one of those outside engaging in high spirits.

"Where are Remus and Sirius?" asked James absent-mindedly, reaching for another textbook.

Lily, who had been mid-sentence when he spoke, scowled at him but refrained from snapping. The three boys had spent all their evenings that week in detention, and consequently had mountains of homework to do. Ordinarily, that would not have caused such panicked scribbling from James, but he had got into rather a lot of trouble in his last Transfiguration class, and Professor McGonagall had apparently been very clear on what would happen if his behaviour was not exemplary for the rest of term.

Lily suspected that even McGonagall knew that was too much to expect from James, but he knew better than to rile her so soon. And failing to hand in a completed and up-to-standard homework assignment definitely fell into the category of riling her.

"They went upstairs to get their books," she replied. Peter had somehow missed out on the prank and the punishment that had followed, and had got all his homework done by now. Though Sirius and Remus had not managed to upset McGonagall quite as much as James, they had plenty of work to be getting on with themselves.

"They've been gone ages..." he broke off, swore loudly and crossed out his last three sentences.

"Stop flapping and concentrate on your work," ordered Lily. "I'll go find them." Sirius and Remus had been gone an awfully long time for people who were just supposed to be fetching schoolbooks and then keeping their friend company while he panicked over his Transfiguration.


Remus was currently sitting in his favourite seat in the window to their dormitory. The windowsill was wide enough for both of them, but Sirius complained that the stone was too cold and that it made his backside go numb, so instead he was standing beside it, one arm loosely around Remus' shoulders and the other around his waist.

"We should be getting back," said Remus reluctantly. "They'll be wondering what's taking so long."

"That's the third time you've said that. Anyone would think you were in a hurry to get away from me."

"Mmm. But, you'll notice that however many times I've said it, I haven't moved an inch." Remus leant backwards against Sirius and looked up to see his boyfriend's eyes glittering cheerfully. Sirius chuckled and gave him a kiss on the cheek.

"You're probably right, though. It wouldn't do for Wormtail to have to come and check on us." Sirius gave Remus a quick hug and wandered over to his bed to fetch his books. Remus followed his example and was bending over his trunk, trying to locate his copy of A Guide to Advanced Transfiguration, when a pillow hit him in the back.

Remus straightened up, pushing his hair from his eyes, to see Sirius grinning at him from the other side of the room.

"Why, you...!" He picked up the pillow and launched himself at Sirius, who only just had time to snatch up another to defend himself. Sirius, laughing, scrambled backwards and leapt onto his bed, raining blows on Remus from above.

"That's not fair!" cried Remus. "It's not as if - ouch! - you don't have enough of a height advantage as it is!"

Sirius jumped off, knocking them both to the floor. Remus was the first to get to his feet, and attacked Sirius mercilessly while he scrambled back up. There was a ripping sound and suddenly there were feathers everywhere as Remus' pillow disintegrated. Sirius did not let up for a second and though Remus fended off the blows with his arms, Sirius soon had him pinned against the wall. For a second they just stayed there, laughing and breathless, then Sirius dropped his pillow and Remus tilted his face up for the kiss he knew was coming.

Someone behind them cleared their throat loudly.

They both jumped a mile, and Sirius leapt away from Remus as though he had been stung. Lily was standing in the doorway, looking incredibly shocked and mildly amused.

"Ah. Lily. Um..."

"We... er..."

"It's not what it looks like!" managed Sirius eventually. Remus was trying not to go red; it was exactly what it looked like but admitting that to anyone, let alone Lily, had not been among his plans for the day.

"Really?" she asked. "So what is it?"

"Well... um..."

"I'd have thought you'd have a story ready," she remarked, coming into the room and shutting the door behind her. "In fact, Sirius, this must be the only time I've ever seen you speechless."

"Yes, well," said Sirius rather grumpily, shooting an anxious glance towards Remus. "We didn't expect anyone to be walking in on us, did we?" He had given up trying to deny anything; Lily had been watching for long enough to know exactly what was going on.

"Well, I suppose it explains why you two have been acting so oddly."

Several times in the last couple of months, Sirius had been seen voluntarily working. She had commented on it once or twice; but now it seemed obvious that he had been using it as an excuse to have some time alone with Remus. As for Remus, he had always been the sensible one of the group, but the incident that had caused this latest round of detentions had in fact been started by him, and not Sirius or James. "This must have been going on for a couple of months, yes?"

"Something like that," said Remus, noncommittally. It had actually been four and a half months since Sirius had surprised him the morning after a full moon. "What do you mean, oddly?"

"Oh, just odd little things." A mischievous urge took her and she added, "You know, I think you're a bad influence, Sirius." She was rewarded by Remus turning scarlet and Sirius choking on whatever he had been about to say.

"I should think so," he muttered, amused despite himself. "Lily... you won't tell James, will you?"

Lily was astonished. "He doesn't know?"

They both shook their heads. Sirius put his arms around Remus again and glared at Lily almost defiantly as he rested his chin on the top of Remus' head. That had become a habit. Remus could not be offended by the reminder that Sirius was so much taller than him; everyone was short compared to Sirius.

"Please, Lily," added Remus. "You won't say anything?"

"I didn't think you kept secrets from James? Actually, I thought it was impossible, even if you wanted to."

"We don't, usually." The only other secret Remus had ever kept from James had been that he was a werewolf, and that had not stayed a secret for long. As far as he knew Sirius had never even tried to hide anything from his best friend before. "We haven't figured out how to tell him, yet." That was true as far as it went; they had put very little effort into figuring it out, but they both knew they would have to tell him eventually.

"Well... all right. I won't tell. But you two owe me. You'll have to cover for me and James..."

Sirius snorted. "Like we don't already."

"I think we can manage that," interrupted Remus quickly, before Sirius irritated her into changing her mind. "Tell James we'll be down in a minute." He gestured at the feathers strewn across the dormitory. "We'll just clear this up."

Lily nodded, and they watched her step outside and close the door behind her.

"We're lucky that was Lily," remarked Remus. "We'll have to think about putting a charm on the stairs to let us know when someone's coming," he added thoughtfully.

Sirius, who had let go of him and was shooing the feathers back into the torn pillowcase with his wand, shrugged. "Why not just seal the door?"

"Oh, because that won't make anyone suspicious! Come on, Padfoot!"

"Reparo. They'll just assume we're brewing more trouble. It won't be the first time we've locked ourselves away..."

"Without Prongs?"

"Oh. Okay, good point. You'll look up alarm spells, then?" Remus did not remember agreeing to do all the work by himself, but before he could object, Sirius threw the pillows back where they came from.

"Right. We've got a couple of minutes... where were we?"


Lily was halfway down the stairs before she heard fresh explosions of laughter coming from the dormitory. She hesitated, but decided on balance that she did not really want to know. Smiling despite herself, she shook her head and carried on back to the common room.