Disclaimer: Characters and settings are property of J.K. Rowling. What you don't recognize is mine. And I wish I owned the Marauders (specifically Sirius and Remus) but most unfortunately, I do not. L Prologue
"Today," explained Professor Kettleburn in a wheezy voice, "we will be studying Kneazles. Can anyone tell me what a Kneazle is?"
At once, fourteen-year-old Lily Evans stuck her hand up excitedly. A petite redhead with bright green eyes, she was easily one of the prettiest girls in her year. Of course, Lily wasn't interested in silly things like boys and dates. No, she had other, more important things on her mind.
On the other side of the group, another fourteen-year-old, a Gryffindor like Lily, did a rather exaggerated imitation of her – he stuck his hand up in the air with a ridiculous look on his face, hopping up and down, squealing in a high voice, "Ooh, professor, I know! Call on me, Professor! Call on me, Know-It-All-Evans!"
Lily blushed a little, and saw, from the corner of her eye, two of her friends – Janine Garnet and Jennifer King – creep behind the boy – James Potter – and tackle him. He yelled out in surprise.
Almost at once, chaos erupted.
James was joined in the fight by his best friends, Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, and Peter Pettigrew; Janine and Jen were joined by their other friends, Alyssa Comforts and Marlene McKinnon. Lily hung back, not wanting to fight for fear of getting in trouble. As it turned out, she didn't need to.
The Kneazles, clearly irritated with the scuffle, leaped in and broke the squabbling teenagers apart with hisses and scratches. Lily watched Janine roll away, nursing her arm, which was covered in scratches. Jen, Marlene, and Alyssa also bore the marks of the Kneazles' claws. James, Lily was quite gratified to see, had a deep scratch across his left cheek. Serves the bloody git right, she thought.
"Stop!" exclaimed Professor Kettleburn, despite the fact that his animal charges had already broken the fight up without his aid. "Stop this at once! I have never seen such horrible conduct!" (Clearly, you weren't paying attention last year, in the first class, when James lit your hat on fire, thought Lily). "Twenty points from Gryffindor! Detention for all of you! With the exception of Miss Evans, of course," he added with a slightly gentler smile. Lily cringed, seeing the glares she received from the four boys in her house.
They'd be certain to get her back for being the only one not to be stuck in detention.
Lily looked up from her book – Magical Theory – when the door opened. Her best friend – even out of their quintet of friends – Janine Garnet, walked in, looking as though she had merely come from a refreshing walk around the grounds, instead of detention. She was the first.
"How did detention go?"
"Could have been worse, I suppose. They stuck me with Black and Lupin."
Black and Lupin – Sirius Black and Remus Lupin, part of James Potter's little gang. Sirius and James had been friends forever, and had welcomed Remus and their fourth counterpart, Peter Pettigrew, into their group with open arms.
They called themselves the Marauders of Hogwarts – a name well earned. They went around, pulling pranks, tricking students, teachers, and ghosts alike. Lily found them annoying; everyone else found them charming.
"So what did you have to do?"
"Mmm… repotting Mandrakes. It wasn't too bad. I mean, Lupin's nice and all that. It's Black that I can't stand." Lily shook her head. Janine got along well with almost all of the Marauders. She had known James since the two were practically born, due to the fact that they were both purebloods and their families went about in the same social ring. Remus Lupin was a half-blood, and so she had not known him as long, but Janine seemed to like Remus quite a bit – but then, Remus had a sweet disposition and wasn't quite as arrogant as his friend. Peter, too, was a half-blood. It was mostly Sirius Black – the other pureblood of the group – that Janine did not like. Nobody quite understood how what had begun as a friendly rivalry back in the first year had blown into an all-out mutual loathing. Lily knew better than to ask.
"If you say so," Lily replied dubiously. "I frankly don't like any of them." She paused. "Well, except for Lupin. Him I can stand – but he's nice. The others aren't. Bullying people left and right like that…" She looked down at her book again, trying to find her spot.
"Says you. What're you reading?" Janine snatched the book away from her friend, making a face. "Ugh. This is awful, Lily. You're reading Magical Theory. That is only the most boring book known to wizardkind, my dear."
"It is not! It's fascinating." Lily grabbed it back, and sighed, closing the book. "Oh, darn it. I can't concentrate when you're in the room."
"Well, of course not. I'm so devastatingly gorgeous, who could concentrate with beauty like this around?" Lily rolled her eyes.
"Shut up and sit. We'll have to wait for the others."
"How was detention, mate?" James had been in detention the longest of the Marauders. So when he finally trudged up to his dormitory (desperately trying to rid himself of Comforts's irritating chatter), his friends were already waiting for him, clustered around something they had deemed the 'Marauder's Map' – a map they had created in third year.
"You know," remarked Remus as James ignored Sirius's question, coming over to peer at the map, "we really ought to change this. 'Misters James, Sirius, Remus, and Peter'? It's so obvious. If anybody finds it, it could be horribly incriminating."
"Use words we understand," complained Sirius loudly. They ignored him.
"We'll have to get nicknames," decreed Peter. "And I want to know how detention went."
"It went fine. Unless you count the fact that Comforts would not bloody shut up." Remus scowled. "Sorry, mate. Keep forgetting she's your girlfriend…"
"My detention was a nightmare," groaned Sirius. Remus was grinning suddenly. "Garnet thought it would be funny to take off my earmuffs. According to Remus, I fainted dead away on the floor. He managed to revive me, though, after some work. Good thing Remus knows some handy revivification spells. And, of course, Garnet sat there, laughing her bloody arse off. I bet she'd love to faint away from hearing that unearthly sound." He scowled sullenly. "We're going to have to get her back."
"Later. We need to deal with Evans, first. Anybody got a suggestion?"
"Yeah." Sirius rolled his eyes. "Throw her in the lake and hope the Giant Squid eats her."
"Now that does hold promise."
"What if the Giant Squid's a vegetarian?" questioned Peter with fake innocence. Remus sniggered; James scowled.
"Shut up, Pete… I need something that's really going to throw her off… something she won't expect… something original…"
"Ask her out." There was a long silence as everyone turned to stare at Sirius. "What, what did I say?"
"How does asking her out help at all?" demanded James.
"James, you can have any girl you want – except for the ones that want me, of course. Hang on… that leaves you with no girls, doesn't it?" James hurled a pillow at him. "Right, right, I'm serious now." He grinned. "Wait! I'm always-"
"SIRIUS." All of his friends groaned. Sirius made a face.
"Fine, be that way. I think it's funny. Listen, Jamsie. You ask Evans out. She says yes. You publicly stand her up in front of the Great Hall. Everybody thinks it's hilarious; Evans can never show her face again. What do you say?"
"That's the stupidest idea I've ever heard," retorted James, just as Remus said, "That's horrible, Sirius. We're trying to prank her, not ruin her social life."
"What social life?"
James rolled his eyes. "You're an idiot, Sirius. Any real ideas?"
Sirius's eyes glittered. "Too chicken, James?" he asked lightly. The room went deadly silent, and everyone stared at him again. "What happened to that Gryffindor bravery? Thought you weren't afraid of anything, Potter."
"Fine. I dare you to ask her out. She'll say yes, and you can still humiliate her. I dunno… stand her up, or pour butterbeer on her head at the next Hogsmeade visit. What do you say?"
James frowned. "Sirius, stop."
"Well, if you're too scared-"
"I'm not." Sirius smirked, knowing he had won. "I'll ask Evans out, and I'll take her to Hogsmeade. But I'll hate it," James added miserably.
"And I'll laugh at you for being so miserable. Cheer up – it's only one date. Tomorrow morning, yeah?"
"Fine, fine, yeah. Good night." Grumbling, James went to his own bed and pulled the covers up over his head, trying not to think about the arduous task ahead (well, the date would be arduous, at least for him).
"Hey! Um… Evans! Can I have a word?"
Lily turned, frowning. Frankly, she didn't want to speak to James Potter at all. She couldn't stand him, but Janine elbowed her and dragged their other friends off. Thanks a lot, thought Lily acidly. She faced James. "What is it?" she demanded icily. "Come to turn my hair green? Charm my quills to spew ink in my face? Make my books scream curses when they're opened?"
"Hmm… well, I've already turned your hair green in first year, and the quills thing got old last year, after you fell for it the sixth time." Lily turned red with fury, and James smirked. "Thanks for the book-screaming one, though. Should be funny."
Lily began to stomp away, only to find James blocking her path. "Please move," she ordered coldly.
"Feisty today, aren't we, Evans? Come on now… what's your rush?"
"I have to catch up with my friends."
"I just have a question!"
"Go ask someone else, then." She shoved him aside with her shoulder, and marched off haughtily. James sighed in frustration. This wasn't working.
On the other hand, he, James Potter, could not turn down a dare, especially not one from Sirius Black. He ran after her, blocking her way again. He saw her reach for her wand, and whipped his own out. "Ah… come on now, Evans, no magic in the halls. If you hex me, I'll have to hex you back." Assuming I can still move after you've finished, that is. "This won't take any longer than a moment."
"Fine. Hurry up, though," snapped Lily irritably.
James, however, seemed to be taking his own cool time. He smiled at a few third-year Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws that walked by. Giggling, they waved to James. He rumpled his hair in response, making it windswept, as though he had just dismounted from a broomstick. Lily huffed impatiently, and he remembered she was still there. Sighing, he said, "Listen, will you go out with me? To Hogsmeade?"
James almost grinned at the look of complete astonishment that crossed her face. "You want… me…? To go out with… you? James Potter, you could have practically any girl you want in this school!"
This is working better than I thought. "I know," replied James smoothly, rumpling his hair. "But I chose you, didn't I? You must be a special girl, then…"
"Hmm… go out with you… well, let's think about that…" A thoughtful look crossed her face for mere moments, and then it dropped, icy sarcasm taking its place. "Right, well, I've thought about it. No."
Only then did James realize that there was a group of Ravenclaws watching him, as they all burst into laughter. Crap. Immediately they all fled the hall, eager to spread the news.
Lily swooped haughtily away, leaving James standing by himself in the center of the hall. It took several moments for it to sink it.
She had rejected him.
And that was what really set the ball rolling…
A/N: And that's all for the prologue… if I get some reviews, I'll update ASAP… Much love! Peaches