Toil and Trouble

By She's a Star

Author's Note: Thank you ever so much to everyone that's reviewed thus far. I'm glad you're enjoying it. J (Smiley. SMILEY!) And just to get slightly disclaimer-y with it, I snagged one of Sirius's lines in this chapter from Jack Bristow on Alias.

Chapter Three

            Sirius was a little concerned about James.

            He would never admit it, of course, as it was strictly against the Marauder code of conduct to touch upon any subject that wasn't cool and manly, lest it somehow get spread around the school. With a shudder, he recalled the last time it had happened, and Professor McGonagall had made a rather wry reference to his illogical fear of flobberworms in front of the entire Transfiguration class.

            "'Don't worry, Mr. Black,'" Sirius muttered bitterly under his breath. "'I assure you that the flobberworms will not rise from the table and attack you while you are attempting to turn them into toothpicks.'"

             Wench. Sirius didn't see why it was so amusing, anyhow. The way he saw it, something without a visible head so to speak of was a lot more ominous than everyone else seemed to think.

            And then, of course, he'd gotten the angry letter from his mother – never a Howler, no, because the Black family name certainly could not be publicly marred – that went on for sixteen and a half pages expressing her disgust at his jeopardizing the honour of their bloodline.

            He didn't know why she bothered, really. He'd gotten the hell out of Grimmauld Place as soon as possible, and yet she still felt compelled to remind him of what a disappointment he was.

            Not that he cared. To hell with them all, anyway. There were more pressing issues at hand.

            Namely James and the way he was about to make a complete fool of himself.

            Now, Sirius Black was exceptionally skilled in many areas, including the charming of the opposite sex. Sure, he'd exercised those skills quite frequently in the name of sneaking up to the Astronomy Tower to snog, but he figured he could also use them for the common good. Which, at the moment, was clearly talking to Lily. Attempting to reason with her. Proving to her that James wasn't such a bad guy after all.

            Of course, Lily didn't like him all that much either, but he was sure that could be changed.

            So he dutifully remained in the common room while James, Peter, and Remus ventured off to breakfast. Lily was sitting in front of the fire, absolutely entranced in a book to the point where she'd apparently forgotten about the very existence of that lovely thing called food.

            Sirius really wondered sometimes why James liked her so much. Personally, he thought her to be a bit unhinged.

            He smoothed his hair and fixed his most magnetizing grin on his face before sauntering over. She looked up a moment before he reached the couch to sit down, giving her plenty of time to revel in the nonchalant sexiness of the Sirius Black saunter. Excellent.

            "Lily," he said smoothly.

            She stared back at him unsurely for a moment before replying, "Sirius."

            He adjusted his grin a bit, converting it into a slightly sheepish half-smile. She just looked blankly at him – not the faintest sign of even a tiny swoon.

            Yep, the chick was definitely crackers.

            "What're you reading?" he asked, deciding to opt for a bit of casual conversation.

            "Pride and Prejudice," she replied, somewhat dully. She seemed almost . . . bored; as though she'd rather he just went away. This was truly bizarre.

            "You know," he said, not about to give up, "that's just what I wanted to talk to you about."

            "Jane Austen?" Lily asked doubtfully, raising an eyebrow at him.

            He chuckled. "Oh, Lils, you put even Derwent Shimpling to shame."

            Which she didn't, of course. He really doubted it was possible for anyone to put Shimpling to shame, as no one could beat his classic "Three hags and a Chudley Canons Beater walked into a bar" routine, but it didn't hurt to flatter her senselessly for a bit.


            Sirius resisted the urge to gasp in horror.


            "Comedian," Sirius said, attempting to remain calm. "Greatest mind for humor in the entire world." Lily continued to stare. "Y'know . . . he's on a Chocolate Frog card?"

            "Sirius," Lily said, very calmly, "if you have some strange and sudden desire to make me into your newest snogging buddy, then I'm just going to stop you right here and spare you some of the humiliation. Be aware that James will probably kill you if he ever finds out about this." She paused for a moment, and then threw in, rather viciously, "And don't call me Lils."

            Sirius allowed himself a moment to recover from the shock of this statement before promptly deciding that his charm was clearly wasted on this utterly bizarre creature. "I don't want to snog you," he hissed, scandalized. "I want to talk to you about James."

            "I thought you wanted to talk to me about Jane Austen," Lily said composedly.

            Hitting girls is not allowed. Violence is bad. Hitting girls is not allowed. Violence is bad. Hitting girls is not allowed . . .

            "No," Sirius said, and gave her a very pained smile. "I meant pride. And prejudice. Both of which you direct unjustly at my poor and misfortunate friend."

            Lily snorted. "Unjustly? He stalks me."

            "He does not sta . . ." Sirius took a moment to consider this. "Okay," he capitulated, nodding, "it could be considered stalking. But it's an act of love!"

            He chanced to break out the charming grin again.

            "Go to the ball with him," he cajoled.

            Lily fixed him with a very skeptical look.

            ". . . Please?" Sirius threw in politely.

            "I kicked a wall yesterday," Lily said.


            "How nice for you?" offered Sirius.

            "I'm not the type that usually goes around kicking walls, you know," Lily continued. Sirius thought he caught a hint of hysteria in her tone. Hmm. "I'm sensible, and hard-working, and generally not one to do things like that. I'm Head Girl."

            "And James is Head Boy!" Sirius felt compelled to state. "Is that destiny or what?"

            All of a sudden, Lily was staring at him in a way she'd never stared before. He wouldn't have been surprised if she leaned over and punched him – hell, maybe even strangled him – at any given moment.

            "Doesn't that look belong to James and James alone?" Sirius inquired meekly.

            "He's ridiculous," Lily said, her voice much higher than usual. "He's obnoxious and conceited and he has a frightening fixation on his hair, which doesn't need to be sticking up all the time, really, but does he know that, no, he just runs his fingers through it constantly like there's no tomorrow, and he doesn't even bother to call me by my first name and stares at me ALL. THE. BLOODY. TIME. and now that's not enough, oh no, his friends are bugging me too, and I suppose you all think I'm some evil harpy because I won't give a certain someone who makes my life hell the time of day, and well, isn't that grand, and let me tell you something, Sirius Black, I would rather call up the bloke who did the decapitation job on Nearly Headless Nick, hand him an ax, and tell him to have the hell at it than go to the ball with James Potter." She took a deep breath before smiling pleasantly at him. "Questions?"

            "You know," Sirius said thoughtfully. "I think that about covers it."

            "Good," she said, then picked up her book and resumed reading.

            As Sirius fled from the common room for dear life, he decided that perhaps he had stumbled upon something even more frightening than flobberworms.


            When Sirius arrived at the Gryffindor table in the Great Hall, he looked oddly like he'd been terrified within an inch of his life. Remus frowned.

            "What happened?" he inquired, pushing the pitcher of pumpkin juice in Sirius' direction.

            Sirius took the time to pour himself a goblet of it and chug down around half before stopping, running a hand through his hair, and saying to James, quite matter-of-factly, "You know, mate, I reckon it's never going to work. I'd give up on Lily Evans if I were you."

            James looked scandalized. "What? Give up on Evans? Why would I do that?"

            Sirius sighed, still looking a bit borderline hysterical. "Ah, let me count the ways. One, she's mad. Two, she loathes you. Three, she refused to respond to my advances. Four—"

            "Wait a minute," James said, his eyes immediately alight with fury. "What was that?"

            "Four," Sirius replied, oblivious. "It can usually be found between three and five. I have caught it attempting to hide in between two hundred and sixty-four and two hundred and sixty-five, though. Sneaky little bastard."

            Divination was by no means his best subject, but Remus felt rather sure that Padfoot would be suffering some sort of grievous James-induced injury in the near future.

            "I'm not talking about four," James said crossly. "I'm talking about you advancing on Evans."

            Sirius seemed to realize his error. "Ah," he said. "Right."

            "What the hell d'you think you're playing at?" James demanded. "You know that Lily—"

            "I was doing it to help you out!" Sirius argued. "I figured I could charm her into going to the ball with you!"

            James paused to process this information. "Really?"

            Sirius nodded.

            " . . . And?"

            "She hates you, mate," Sirius said gravely.

            "Well, yeah," James said, clearly unaffected by this. "She thinks that, but—"

            "No," cut in Sirius. "She honestly, purely hates you."

            James looked thoroughly dejected.

            And it was then that an idea occurred to Remus.