***Preface: The Marauders

            A boy, with dark hair and guarded brown eyes, sat alone beside the window.  He glared at the window, or perhaps at his own reflection in the window.

            Another boy in this portion of the train, also had dark hair, and eyes just as dark.  He had been excited, but now he sat watching the other boy with a frown.  What could ever be wrong with this boy to sit so miserable?  He was going to the best school that had ever been built.  Curiosity got the best of him as he crossed the isle and sat in front of the quite boy.

            "Hey, I'm Sirius."

            James blinked up at him.  It was cruel, but just too good to pass up.  "Hi, I'm joking."

            Sirius grinned, and James smiled back. 


            James and Sirius stood together in the dorm room, looking out the window.  They had a great view here.  The door opened behind them, and they whipped around.

            "Freeze, intruder!" they shouted, wands ready.

            Grinning, not in the least bit intimidated, the newcomer threw his hands up, his light brown eyes laughing.  "Please, don't hurt me!"

            Sirius lowered his wand, approaching him slowly.  "Alright intruder, state your name and purpose."

            "Remus," he said, then laughed.  "And I thought I was coming here to sleep!"

            "Well in that case, welcome, Sir Remus."


            Sirius groaned when they walked into Charms.  "What is it?" Remus asked.

            "That," Sirius said, gesturing to another boy, sitting to the side of the class room.

            "What's wrong with him?"

            "He's a complete ass, and a git on top of it," Sirius answered, glaring at the dark haired boy.  "And besides that, his whole family is dirty.  The Snapes."

            Severus Snape glanced up, to find Black glaring at him, and three other boys staring at him with curiosity.  He met Black's glare with one of his own.

            "Hello, Severus," Sirius drawled.

            "Fuck you," Snape spat.

            "HEY!" James lunged, Remus and Peter catching him out of instinct.  The professor walked in and James stopped struggling.  "You watch your mouth, slime ball," James growled viciously.

            Snape was prevented from replying when the professor cleared his throat.  As they took seats, Sirius flashed James a thankful glance, but the other boy was too busy fuming to catch it.  He didn't understand why he felt the need to protect Sirius, but there was no way he was going to let Snape get away with anything like that as long as he was around.


            When Sirius returned from detention, he expected to find James extremely grateful.  He was not expecting him to be angry.

            "What were you playing at?  You didn't throw it, I did!  Why did you do that?" James shouted, as soon as Sirius walked through the dorm door.

            Sirius blinked.  "You served three detentions last week!  McGonagall threatened to write your parents if you got another!  I was trying to help!"

            "Why would you do that?  Why would you help me?"

            "Because you're my best friend you insensitive jerk!"

            James stopped short, shock falling across his face.  "I'm your what?"

            "My best friend," Sirius stated, not understanding how James didn't already know that.

            "You mean, you really like me?"

            Sirius stared at him.  "Is there something wrong with you?  I wouldn't take a detention for you if you weren't my best friend.  Hell, I wouldn't take a detention for my girlfriend."

            James snickered.  "That's cause your girlfriend's mean."

            "Hey, stop changing the subject.  We're still trying to figure out what's wrong with you."

            "There's nothing wrong with me."

            Sirius gave him a calculating look.  "Are you sure about that?"

            Remus was entering the room with Peter, as James nodded.  "Completely sure."

            "Hey Re, don't you think there's something wrong with Jamesy here?"

            Remus grinned.  "If he thought he was going to get away with throwing that frog into Snape's cauldron, there is."


"Dump her Sirius," Peter advised.

"Seriously, Sirius, she's mean.  Really.  Pick somebody else."

"She is not mean."

"Yes she is," Remus agreed.  "She pushed that little Hufflepuff out of her chair the other day in Potions.  Nobody's really sure why."

"Maybe cause she's mean?"

"Alright, I'll dump her.  Thanks guys, for all the loving support and all."

James grinned at him.  "That's what we're here for.  But that Lin girl, now she's cute and nice."


            "Get AWAY from me!"

"James!  Who the fuck dropped you on your head?  I don't understand it!"

            James jerked away from Sirius when he was reached for.  "Stop it!  Leave me alone!"

            "Leave you alone?  What is WRONG with you?  Why do you always think I'm going to backstab you?"

            "Why wouldn't you?" James shouted back, putting the bed between himself and Sirius.

            Remus and Peter watched with large eyes as Sirius threw his arms up in frustration.  "I don't get you James!  One minute you're just like us, and then the next you seem to think that everybody hates you and everything that goes wrong is your fault!"

            James's voice fell to a whisper.  "It's not?"

            Sirius stared at him.  "What do your parents do to you?"

            None of them understood why James started to cry.


            "Are you guys sure this is a good idea?" Remus asked, as they quickly nicked the seeds out of the plant.

            Sirius snickered.  "No.  But it'll be damn funny.  Just picture it, Snape with beans growing out of his ears."

            James grinned, shoving the seeds down in his pocket.  "If we have any left, we should plant them in McGonagall's classroom."

            "Somebody's coming!" Peter squeaked.  Shoving their seeds in their pockets, the four fled the greenhouse.


            "What are you doing?"

            James looked up and blushed slightly.  "Painting."

            "You paint?" Sirius asked, eyes wide.

            James nodded, stepping back to hide behind the easel he'd set up in the corner of the room.

            "What are you painting?"

            "Nothing," James lied.

            "You're not standing back there painting nothing.  What are you painting?"

            "The Great Hall."

            "Can I see it?"

            "No."  Sirius walked around the easel anyway, his eyes going wide.  He really hadn't expected James to be good at painting.  Art didn't seem like his thing.  "How long have you been painting?"

            "Most of my life," James replied.  "Do you like it?"

            Sirius tilted his head.  "Yeah.  Never really liked art but it looks good to me.  Ask Remus though.  He seems like an art guy.  He'd know what he was talking about."


            The ground was firm, and James idly wondered if that was good flying conditions.  But then, he supposed, the ground really couldn't be that important in flying unless you fell.

            "Have you ever flown before, James?" Sirius asked.

            James shook his head. "Always wanted to though.  Have you?"

            Sirius nodded, grinning.  "Mum, she used to play Quidditch.  Dad thinks it's too dangerous, but mum really wants me to get onto the team as soon as I can.  I'm not really sure if I wanna play, but I do love to just fly."

            When he climbed on his broom, even before taking off James felt, something.  He glanced at Sirius, wondering if it was just him, but everybody else just seemed eager to be up in the air.

            "Ready now?  On three.  Two, THREE!"

            He shoved off the ground, and into the air, and it was the most magical feeling he'd experience since school had started.  It took every bit of control not to fly away, but they were just supposed to go up…

            "Alright then, try to move around a little bit!"

            Higher.  He wanted to go higher.  He didn't know how he knew to pull up and push forward, but something in him did and before he knew it he was speeding up above all their heads.

            "Mr. Potter!  Get down here!  That's too high!"

            "He's never flown before ma'am!"

            "Mr. Potter!  Are you okay?!"

            "James?" Sirius shouted.  James looked down at him and grinned, and Sirius knew there was nothing wrong with him.  James pushed forward, leaning, and sped towards his best friend.  Sirius, not really sure if James had complete control of his broom yet, shouted.  James pulled to the side at that last minute, spinning around Sirius and hitting him lightly on the back. 

            "Sirius!  This is beyond amazing!"

            Sirius turned and looked at him.  "If you're flying like that and you've never flown before, I'm not going to have a shot in hell for a Quidditch position."

            "We could both do it!" James said excitedly, flying around Sirius in circles.  "We could be the best pair of beaters ever."  He shot under Sirius, then pulled up and did a figure eight over him.

            "Nah, James, I think you'd make a better chaser."

            James looked at him curiously.  "Really?"  He flew around in another circle.  "Sirius?" James asked, saying his best friend's name in a way that let Sirius know he wanted something.  "Do you think you can help me learn?"  Any jealousy Sirius felt vanished, and he nodded.


            "Why am I always the one to watch?"  Peter asked.

            "Because that's your job, Pete.  You keep watch, James and I do the actual rule breaking, and Remus supervises while warning us that we're doing something stupid."

            Even Peter couldn't help but chuckle.  "Besides, Peter," James elaborated, "none of us are as good at knowing when to get the hell out of there as you are.  Now, stand out here and look lost.  If anybody starts to come down the hall, knock the door twice and we'll bail out the window."

            "What am I going to do?"

            "Just ask them to point you in the direction of the Gryffindor common room.  You're a first year, it's still okay to forget where you sleep."

            Peter nodded, closing the door behind the other three.  The next day in Charms, they had a neon pink chalk board.



            "Hmm," came the bored reply.  They both were lying on James's bed, spreading out their chocolate frog cards.

            "That night last month…"  James knew what he was talking about, but didn't say anything.  Sirius went on.  "What was wrong with you?"

            "Nothing was wrong, Sirius."

            "Are you lying to me?"

            "Since when do we have mushy girl conversations like this?"

            Sirius glared at him.  "I'm just trying to help."

            James looked up, and the amount of love and gratitude in his eyes made Sirius uncomfortable.  "You already have."

            Both looked away after only a moment, embarrassed, changing the topic back to the cards.


            "I can't believe you managed to pass trans, Peter!" Sirius said, clapping him on the back.  Peter blushed with pride.  Remus congratulated him also, in a bit more tactful way.


            "Whatcha want?" Sirius asked, knowing already that James was asking for something.

            "Do you think I could go home with you?"

            Sirius blinked and looked at Remus.  Remus nodded, but only because James wasn't looking.  Some things just weren't talked about.  "Sure thing, James.  I'll write mum and dad now, they should get it before this weekend.  They won't mind, we've got loads of space."

            James grinned, finally looking forward to the summer.


            Madam Min tisked as she mended yet another broken bone.  "And what was it this time?"

            "He was just training for Quidditch before the year ended, Madam," Sirius lied, smiling because he knew it would work.

            Madam Min scoffed, and Sirius's face fell.  "Quidditch my back side.  You four were doing something to cause trouble again.  You're the most marauding group of children this school has ever seen.  We're glad to send you home."

            James, his arm now fully restored, looked at Sirius, his eyes bright.


            "Where's Remus?"

            "He said his mum was sick again," Peter answered.

            "Damn.  That woman is going to kick the bucket if she doesn't stop getting sick.  We wanted to tell you guys about the great idea Madam Min gave us this morning."

            Peter looked up.  "What is it?"

            Sirius grabbed his shoulders.  "We're gonna name ourselves.  We're going to be the Marauders. And we're going to be the worst thing this school has ever seen, and talked about for generations to come.  Next year, we'll make sure everybody knows it."


            Sirius and James raced each other down the stairs to answer the door bell.  Peter stood there, grinning, if sheepishly, while his mother glared down at both of the boys.  Something about her made them stop, and stare at her without a word.

            She scoffed after a moment, turning her nose up.  "No manners.  Petey, I'll be back in no more then three hours."

            She spun on her heal, and Sirius stuck his tongue out at her.  James patted Peter on the back.  "Don't worry, Petey, we won't let her spoil our day.  Remus is going to be here any minute.  I'll show you Sirius's room."



            "Whatcha want?" Sirius said sleepily, and James grinned.

            "I don't want anything."

            "Yes you do," Sirius replied, turning over.

            "Do you think your parents mind that I'm still here?"

            "No, they don't care.  Besides, there's only two weeks left until school starts.  What would the point of leaving now be?  Now will you please stop asking me?"

            "I just feel like I'm imposing."

            Sirius sighed, and rolled to look over the edge of his bed down at James.  "If you give them that dumb painting you've been working so hard on, they'll probably love you so much they'll beg you to stay every summer."

            James grinned at him.  "Thanks Sirius."

            "Now go to sleep."  Sirius laid his head back down, and several minutes passed before…

            "Do you really think they'll like it?"

            A well aimed pillow smacked James in the face.


            "Are you ready, my fellow Marauder?"

            James saluted.  "Now boys, really, try to behave yourselves this year."

            "We will Mr. Black!" James reassured, running over to give Ms. Black a hug.  "Thanks for letting me stay with you."

            "It was our pleasure, James.  Be sure to come back, okay?  We'll set you up a paint room" Ms. Black said, giving him a wink.

            James blushed, but nodded.  Sirius snickered, coughing something that sounded distinctly like "mama's boy."  James glared at him and Sirius stopped, straightening their luggage.  It wasn't really his, or James', it was theirs.  All of their belongings were mixed, but they weren't worried about it.

            "Sir James, be prepared to enter the portal to the marauding playground!"

            "Be good!" Mr. Black tried as they headed for platform nine and three quarters. 

            "Write me and tell me what you do!" Ms. Black said with a grin.  Her husband glared up at her.  "Oh, lighten up, dear."


            She was lost.  She held her kitten closer and stared at the ticket.  How was she supposed to get on a platform that didn't exist?  She wanted her parents.  She wanted to go home.  But Petunia was 'dying'.  They were at the hospital, and she was expected to go to school.  And Petunia was a dirty liar.


            She turned around and looked up.  A boy with sandy hair and warm honey eyes smiled at her, as did the woman behind him.  She stood and stared, unsure what to do or say.

            "Where are you trying to get to?"

            "Hogwarts," she whispered.

            "Are you lost then?" the woman behind the boy asked.

            She blushed, hiding behind her kitten, but nodded.  "I'll help you then.  Do you have your stuff?"

            She bent at her knees and picked up her only bag.  He took it from her, and set it on his cart.  "Ma, will you take our stuff through?"

            "Sure hon."

            She was going to watch the woman, but the boy distracted her.  "I'm Remus."  When she looked up again the woman was gone.

            "Lily," she said softly.

            "Are you ready?"  She nodded, trying not to shake.  "Take my hand.  Hold your kitty tight."

            She wrapped the blanket around her kitten a little tighter, then took his hand.  "Close your eyes," he instructed, before he started running.

            She didn't realize they were heading for the stone wall until they were through it.  He let go of her hand, though now all she wanted to do was hold on tight.  "I'll see you at school, Lily."

            She didn't even manage to say goodbye before he ran towards some other people.  His mother walked her bag over to her, smiling.  She hoped she managed to smile back.