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.

Author's Note: So I know it's been forever, and I'm sorry for the delay, but I've been gone and then I had a hard time getting this out. I would like to apologize in advance for this chapter, not only because it's not my best, but because you'll all hate me for it, I know you will, and I'm sorry, but it leaves a lot open for 'Shades of Grey,' for which I've already done some of the preliminary writing, so it hopefully won't take too long. There's more notes – important ones – at the end of this chapter, so please-please-PLEASE read them. Again, I'm sorry – and now that I've made you all sufficiently curious, on with the final chapter of A Marauder's Girl.

X-X-X-X-X

"Thank goodness," muttered Remus with feeling. "If I never had to sit another exam again, I'll die happy."

"We're not going to die, Moony, we'll live on forever," said Sirius with a perfectly straight face. "Don't you ever let me catch you talking about dying again – because we never will."

"Right. And I'm in the running for the next Minister of Magic."

"Maybe, in the next couple of decades…" Sirius smiled. "Good to know you've got such high aspirations, though!" he added cheerfully, clapping his friend on the shoulder. "At least we're all finished, though," he continued, sobering. "A week of happiness, and then off home. Well, for you lot. I'm going to France."

"Yes, about that. You got accepted?"

"Just got my letter this morning, actually. My tentative schedule has a load of Defense and Dueling Classes on it – lots of theory, but plenty of practical magic, too, I think." He grinned suddenly. "And would you believe it, I'm taking history classes."

"Good for you! Not to say that I would, but history can be quite fascinating, you know, if it's taught correctly…"

"Yes, Old Binnsey is rather due to be binned, isn't he?" Sirius shoved his hands into his pockets, locks of hair falling into his eyes. "No, I hear the history teacher over there is really attractive."

"Attractive in a female way, or a male way?"

"Female, I assume, as it was Benjy Fenwick who told me so. 'Course, maybe he swings the other way…"

"You could ask Janine – aren't they cousins?"

"Distant ones," said Janine, passing by. "Still, we used to play hide-and-seek around the manor when we were kids, and I think he kissed me once in the fencing gallery. I'm fairly certain he's into girls."

Remus made a face. "You kissed your cousin?"

"He's a distant cousin," she said, pulling her own face. "Sirius understands, don't you, Sirius?"

"Yeah, I think Mum might have wanted me to marry Bella when we were younger…" Janine gazed at him, horrified.

"That would be awful! Your children would be right little monsters, they would."

"Well, I thought it was awful just because it was Bella, but anyway, it hardly matters, because Grandfather stamped on that one, saying we were first cousins and too close. If we had been second cousins…"

"You know," Remus remarked, "I think I'm going to marry someone who's, you know, not related to me. In any way."

"Well, that's your privilege, as a half-blood," Janine replied snootily. "For the rest of us unfortunate purebloods-"

"Unfortunate? Janine, a tenth of your family fortune could feed several third-world countries for years-"

"-We often end up married to our cousins, for sake of keeping the blood pure and the money in the family. Thank goodness Dad was a progressive, else I'd probably be married to cousin Richard, although he's a half-blood too, you know-"

"You might end up married to James," said Sirius pointedly.

"Urgh." She made a disgusted face. "That would be like marrying Jeffrey or Damien; Dad would never allow it. Mum might, though – I think I'll get married right out of Hogwarts," she said thoughtfully. "To a Muggle. And then I'll bring him home and show him to my grandparents. And we'll have lots of lovely half-blooded children."

"It's all about blood with you, isn't it?" said Remus amicably. "Well, you're not raving about the evils of Muggles, I suppose that's something. But I suppose, for that, you'd have to be in Slytherin."

"Or Ravenclaw," interjected Jen, who'd been silent thus far. "I understand there are quite a few Ravenclaws that are right little evil-doers."

"Of course," replied Remus, straight-faced. "Holding little Dark Parties, aren't they? Holding fund-raisers to get money for Lord-"

"Don't say his name!" shrieked Jen and Janine together; Alyssa's hat fell off as she shivered violently. Remus rolled his eyes.

"Fear of a name only increases fear of the thing itself."

"You're welcome to wax all philosophic on this sort of thing whenever you want, Remus, but please not to us," sniffed Jen. "It's a perfectly natural reaction, anyway, especially after what happened in Di-" She stopped, squirming uncomfortably. "Sorry, Alyssa. Change the subject?"

"If you like," the blond girl replied indifferently. "Really, it's all right. I'm not going to faint every time you mention Diagon Alley, you know. What happened, happened. I can't change that; neither can you."

Jen shifted uncomfortably again, and an awkward silence descended on the group. Remus glanced anxiously at Sirius, who seemed to be taking the mention of the attack remarkably well, although his eyes had gone wide and blank. Janine pinched his side to get his attention. "How did you find the exam, eh?"

"All right," Sirius said, seemingly returning to the present to smile down at her. She wrapped her arms comfortably about his waist. Remus watched them for a few seconds, before turning a wistful smile to Jen. But Jen was chatting with Alyssa, who had a fierce look about her face.

"You were studying all night," Jen was saying to the blonde. "How'd you find it?"

"Fine," she said, and her face relaxed just marginally. "I think I might go into the Department of Magical Law Enforcement," she said suddenly, startling them all.

Janine frowned. "I thought you were going to take over your Aunt's shop."

"No, Brianna can do that, I don't care, I'm not going to sit on the sidelines for this war." Alyssa was scowling. "I'm going to do something useful."

Sirius went over to her and clapped her on the shoulder. "You and me both, Comforts."

Just then, James walked up with Lily and Marlene, frowning. "Anybody seen Pete?"

"Probably begging for extra time to finish his exam," Sirius replied indifferently. As if on cue, Peter ran up, gasping.

"You didn't wait for me!" he said reproachfully.

"We didn't realize we were supposed to," Sirius replied cheerfully. "How was the exam, Wormtail?"

"Bloody awful!" he cried. "And Theresa Avery, you know, that Slytherin, she kept turning around and making faces at me and telling me to meet her in the Astronomy Tower tonight-" He was turning red from talking so fast. "Anyway, I've got a girlfriend, so I'm not going."

"Even if you didn't have a girlfriend, you shouldn't go anyway," advised Lily. "Theresa's a bit off, if you know what I mean? She's as bad as Janine is."

"Was," corrected the other girl, a smirk on her face. It appeared that she and Lily had more or less made up. "And there's nothing wrong with meeting her up there, just out of pure curiosity," she added in Peter's direction. "Were I you, I'd go."

"Would you?"

"Well, why not? You're not cheating on Anna by meeting someone so long as you don't do anything, and even if you were, she wouldn't know, would she? I mean, I've done that to millions of boys, and what they don't know doesn't hurt them, and it does give you a chance to test the waters a bit, which can be fun-"

"You," interrupted Lily with extreme fondness, "are a slut. I do hope you realize that." Janine tuck her tongue out.

"What are we doing to celebrate tonight, girls?" asked Marlene, her eyebrows up. "I mean, the end of our sixth year; seems like a cause for celebration, doesn't it?"

"No," said Lily, scowling. "Sounds like a good chance to catch up on all the sleep we missed studying for our exams."

"You're not fun, Evans," said Sirius, waving his hand. "I say we have a mad orgy at the top of the Astronomy Tower." He looked at Janine. "Or we could have our own private orgy?"

"Too much information, Pads," said James, shuddering. "I never want you to give me that particular mental image."

"Are you sure? Because I can-"

James wouldn't let him finish. "No," he said, shuddering again. Janine laughed and linked arms with Sirius and James. Unusually, Lily felt a hot stab of jealousy, and forcibly pushed it down. Janine had no interest in James.

Did she? Lily stopped dead in the center of the hallway. Was it her imagination, or was Janine just a bit closer to James than she was to Sirius? Was she smiling at him in a special way? It wasn't impossible. She'd spent ages at his house, and Lily had heard that the Potters owned a large home. It wouldn't be difficult for them to escape James's parents, if Sirius wasn't there, and-

"Lil, are you coming?" Janine had stopped both of the boys to glance back questioningly at her friend. "You're very red, you know." She looked concerned. "You all right?"

"Yes," Lily forced out, her voice slightly squeaky. "Perfectly fine." She fiercely avoided James's gaze and hurried to catch up with her friends.

X-X-X-X-X

It seemed as if the remainder of term passed in a hazy daze. With no exams to look forward to, everyone slacked off their classes (which led to many final detentions of the year, due to unfinished homework and inattention during lectures), content to simply doze in the sunshine that filtered through the classroom windows, only to leap up the moment the bells rang to run outside and enjoy the lovely weather. Charms went askew as people stopped paying attention to the way they pronounced the incantations or the precise movements of the wand; in one memorable Potions class, Sirius fell asleep at his cauldron, knocking half of his kit into the cauldron and causing it to blow up. He spent a day in the Hospital Wing to rid himself of the scorch marks, and then returned the next day, roaring with laughter at it all.

Even Lily gave up. It was almost worth it, to see the look of utter astonishment on Flitwick's face when he resignedly asked her for her assignment (nobody else had done it), only to be told that it hadn't been done. Sirius had even taken a picture of his expression.

And so it was that the evening before the final feast, Lily found herself and her friends scurrying around their dorm, collecting all of their items that had somehow found their way to the dustiest spots under the bed and the further corners of the dormitory, packing as their sixth year drew to a close.

When Lily emerged from the bathroom, carrying all of the toiletries that had been scattered around it over the course of the year, she found Janine dancing on her bed gleefully, the other girls rolling their eyes and smiling. "What's going on?"

"I've gotten a letter!" she said excitedly, waving eagerly.

"That's nice," Lily said with a smile. "I get letters sometimes, too."

"Not that kind of letter," she said impatiently, hopping from the bed. "From Quidditch Camp! Top of the line – I've been accepted, and I'll be gone for a month! Training with the best," she said dreamily. "I'll be playing all day, and perfecting all these techniques and learning new ones, and with all these people who'll know all the Quidditch stats, and will want to talk about them and… It's going to be so much fun!"

Personally, Lily couldn't think of anything that sounded more boring to her, but she plastered a smile onto her face, wanting to appear happy for her friend, not wanting to let on her slight disappointment at these words. All of their other three friends were going away for the summer, and Lily had rather counted on spending a good majority of it with Janine.

And then another thought occurred to her, causing her stomach to squirm uncomfortably. Such good friends as they'd become, she could spend it with James…

"And James is going too!" she added gleefully, but a brief flicker of disappointment crossed her face. "And Sirius got an acceptance letter, but he's not going, says he's going to that silly school in Paris." She sighed. "I suppose it's going to be just me and James, then."

Lily shifted her weight uncomfortably. She'd given herself a very stern talking-to after her musings in the corridor after the exam, forcing herself to come to the conclusion that there was nothing between James and Janine, and that there would never be.

Still, James was no monk, and a month in the woods with just Janine for company? (She conveniently forgot that there would be plenty of other people there, and frankly, she had no idea where the hell the camp was.) It was beginning to make her uncomfortable.

"Lily?" Janine was staring at her. Since their fight, she hadn't mentioned James and Lily at all. "You look like your brain is going to explode." Then she smirked. "Too much studying?"

"Yes, probably," said Lily, breathing an inward sigh of relief. Of course there was nothing between James and Janine. Because that was just ridiculous.

If only because Janine would have gloated about it sometime before this.

"Aren't you happy for me?"

"Of course I am! It's what you've always wanted. To play Quidditch like your Dad."

It was the wrong thing to say. Janine's expression turned ugly; she fell onto her bed. "Doesn't play Quidditch anymore," she grumbled. Lily fought to keep from rolling her eyes.

"Hasn't it gone on long enough? I mean, aren't you royally sick of fighting with him? Just let it go, Janine."

"I'm not going to let it go!" she exploded vehemently, her eyes flashing. "D'you have any idea how much I'm worried about him? What if he does something stupid? What if he gets hurt? What if he dies? What then?"

Lily pretended to brush dirt from her skirt to avoid looking at her friend. "It's his life, Janine," she said softly. "I mean, would you be all right if he tried to tell you what to do with your life?"

"As if he hasn't. He shoved me onto a broomstick as early as he could; he gave me things to do with Quidditch; how could I not go into Quidditch? It's been pounded into me." Janine scowled. "For all you know, I might have ended up a starving artist on the streets of Diagon Alley."

"Or a prostitute," offered Jen with a smirk. The remark considerably lightened the mood; Janine pounced on Jen and soon the two girls were tussling playfully, smacking one another with pillows.

Lily watched for a few moments, her expression thoughtful. She could hardly picture Janine as a starving artist. For one thing, she didn't have the creative inclination.

And then a pillow hit Lily in the face, and within moments, all the girls had stopped packing to indulge in one last pillow fight, before the end of the year.

The Farewell Feast was noticeably subdued, for with the Quidditch Cup cancelled, Hufflepuff had managed to snag the House Cup, but only just. This depressed the Gryffindors, at least until Remus, being unusually sneaky, caused a turkey at the Hufflepuff table to explode. Lily burst into hysterics, particularly after seeing Andy Cobalt peel turkey off of his face with a disgusted expression.

Lily was lagging behind her friends, feeling unexpectedly morose, when a hand shot out of a nearby classroom and dragged her in. She squeaked in surprise as the door was slammed shut, and then punched her attacker.

James doubled over on the floor, wheezing partially from laughter and partially from the force of her punch. Lily squeaked again, this time in horror, and knelt, apologizing profusely. "Oh! Oh, I'm so sorry, I didn't know it was you, but you scared the living daylights out of me-"

He waved her apology away, although he did accept her hand as she helped him up. But as he stood on his own to feet, he didn't let go; on the contrary, he pulled her much closer, his face suddenly serious. Lily's heart began to thud in her chest. This was it. The moment of truth.

"Will you sit with me and the boys on the ride back?" he asked, a corner of his mouth quirking up, as if he knew what she was thinking. "You know. All nine of us. The last train ride before we're the top of the heap. You know?"

"Oh." For some reason, Lily felt – disappointed. "Oh, sure. Yeah. That'd be nice."

"Great!" He was suddenly over effusive, and to Lily's astonishment, he hugged her and pecked her cheek. "Then I'll see you tomorrow? Have to run – I've got to pack…" And then his smiled got just a bit smaller, as he added, "Maybe we could talk tomorrow?"

"Yeah – ok." Lily shifted her weight. "That'd be perfect."

"Great!" he exclaimed again, and yanked the door open, bowing her out. They walked back to the common room, talking of mundane things – how the school year had been, Lily's exceptional grades (as usual), James's not-quite-as-exceptional-but-still-really-good grades (also as usual) and the upcoming year. Any mention of romance or a possible relationship was carefully avoided.

"Well, good night," Lily said uncomfortably. "See you tomorrow?"

"Yeah – I'll meet you on the train, or something." He smiled widely, before loping up the stairs to join his friends. Lily returned to her own dorm to finish her packing, feeling oddly let down.

X-X-X-X-X

A hand gently pushed Lily's book down, forcing her to look into the gently smiling eyes of James Potter. "Want to come with me to get some food from the snack bar?" he asked, with a meaningful look in his eyes.

Lily panicked. "Er – no, that's all right, I'm not really hungry."

"Well, how about for the company, then?" Lily noticed that their entire compartment was watching the pair of them. Does everyone know about that silly bet? she wondered despairingly.

"I really want to finish my chapter, but thanks anyway." She quickly looked down again, in hopes of avoiding the obvious disappointment in James's eyes.

Jen stood up and rolled her eyes. "Well, I'm starving – so I'll go with you, James. You can tell me all about the Quidditch camp you're going to and make me horribly jealous that I can't go too." James nodded, looking a bit hurt at Lily's rejection, before following Jen out. As Jen left, she gave Lily a significant look, one that clearly said you can't avoid it forever. Lily scowled. Well, I'm certainly going to try.

Just yesterday, she'd been so disappointed when James hadn't mentioned it, but now that he was trying to get her alone for a private chat, she was scared witless. What is wrong with me? I mean – it's not like he's a bad bloke or anything, really, he'd make the perfect boyfriend – but what if he dumps me? What if, after he's had me, he doesn't want me anymore, he doesn't care, what if we're not even friends after that?

You know he's not going to do that, argued another voice.

No, I don't! Panicked-Lily told the other voice. In fact, that's probably exactly what he's going to do! And he and all his friends will have a good laugh over it, I just know-

"Lily, take a few deep breaths!" cried Marlene, looking deeply worried. "I think your head might explode otherwise!" The others were staring at her in complete horror.

"I need to find the loo," she blurted, and ran from the compartment. She quickly left her train car, traveling up towards the prefects' compartment. Only Remus could reach her there, and he wouldn't come after her, would he? He was much too subtle for that – but then, she had left awfully quickly-

On impulse, just before reaching the prefects' compartment, she turned into another one, to find, to her astonishment, Severus Snape, his protuberant nose buried in a book, completely alone. "I – oh, hello, Severus," she said. "I'll just – er, I'll just go now, shall I?"

He was staring at her, completely nonplussed, before shrugging indifferently and returning to his book. Lily paused for a long moment. On one hand, Snape was probably expecting her to leave now. On the other, James would never think to look for her in this particular compartment.

She sat down.

Snape's eyebrows shot up. "Weren't you leaving?"

"Do you want me to?" she snapped. "Because I have as much right to be here as you do!"

Snape frowned. "Obviously. But you did say you were about to leave," he pointed out in a calm tone, "and none of your things are here. And seeing as we've been on the train for a good hour already, I would imagine that you had found someplace to sit, and so I can only imagine that you left your compartment for a particular reason. Potter getting you down?"

He probably had no idea how close he was to the truth, and Lily wasn't going to give him the satisfaction of knowing. Instead she merely grunted in a troll-like manner and settled herself in moodily, staring out the window at the scenery.

They sat in silence for a while, until Snape gave a heavy sigh and put his book aside. "I'm not certain if I ever apologized to after the incident by the lake in the fifth year."

"You did," Lily told him stiffly.

"Then I didn't apologize enough. I never meant to insult you like that, but to apologize would have been to allow Potter to win, and that is something I cannot do."

"I never meant to insult you like that, but to apologize would have been to allow Potter to win, and that is something I cannot do."

"He saved your life," Lily said in exasperation. "Can't you let go of this silly feud? It's ruddy annoying and dreadfully stupid in my opinion."

Irritation flared in Snape's eyes. "Then I suppose it's a good thing we never ask your opinion, isn't it?"

"Do whatever the hell you like, Snape. I've given up defending you to him, and I'm certainly not about to start defending him to you."

"Didn't you just do that?"

"Sod off!"

"I will not. You barged unceremoniously into my compartment, and if anything, you should sod off." Snape scowled. "Nevertheless, I need to… say something. You have never, in my eyes, been quite as annoying as the other Gryffindors, and I acknowledge you as… a very capable witch. You are…" He stopped. "You belong at Hogwarts as much as anyone else," he said at last.

Lily frowned. It wasn't much, but it was as close as he'd probably ever come to admitting that Muggleborns had a place at Hogwarts, no matter what some though. "Well, I appreciate that, but I don't care much what you or anybody else thinks. Still, it's nice to meet a Slytherin who doesn't mind, for a change. Thank you, Severus."

"You're welcome." He sat back and picked up his book. He paused, and then drew another book out of his bag and handed it to her. Lily took it, astonished, but could think of nothing to say, which was just as well, because he had turned back to his book. Lily glanced down at the book, and was astonished as well as gratified to see that it was a dog-eared, well-read tome of the complete works of Shakespeare.

Well, she had to credit him with taste in books, anyway.

They sat in companionable silence; the only sound was the turning of pages. Lily found herself enjoying the relative quiet, preferring it to the noisy compartment she'd occupied before. For one thing, she wouldn't have to look at James's hopeful face.

As if he'd heard her and decided to jinx her for thinking such things, James Potter himself slid the compartment door open, saw Snape, and sneered in distaste. He was about to slide the door shut with nary a word, when he caught sight of the frozen Lily.

"What are you doing in here?" he asked, surprised. "Why'd you leave the compartment?"

"I wanted some quiet," Lily said uncomfortably. Oh, no. Here it comes. The big-

"Get out, Snape, I need to talk to Lily."

"You can't kick him out!" Lily objected. "It was his compartment first-" James scowled and grabbed her arms, forcibly dragging her out of Snape's compartment and into the prefects' compartment across the way. Thankfully, it was empty, and so when James sat her down across from him, Lily felt absolutely free to rant at him, something she hadn't done in a long time. It felt blissfully familiar and comfortable to her, and she reflected that while she was shouting at him for manhandling her, it was so easy to fall back onto old habits.

"Lily, stop. I'm sorry, but I've been bloody trying to talk to you for ages, and you kept avoiding me! And you promised!" he added indignantly.

Lily hung her head.

"Listen, Lily, these two months have been…" His throat got stuck; he cleared it and went out. "…Hell." Her head jerked up. "I've loved being with you, but it's just not enough for me. I really want to be with you. God, you have no idea how much. Say you'll go out with me. Please."

Lily's mouth opened and closed a few times. Without answering, she stood up and went to him, pressing her mouth firmly to his.

It was like every other kiss they'd share, which admittedly had been few, but it was enough to set Lily's blood on fire. Her hands were buried in his hair; already one of his hands had begun to creep up the back of his shirt. She kissed him with as much fierceness as she could put into it, so much so that her entire mouth felt bruised as she pulled back to gasp for air, but she at once pushed her mouth insistently against his, pushing his robes from his shoulders, not caring when he removed his hand from underneath to shove off her robes and undo her tie.

James was gasping against her, hardly daring to believe that not only was Lily Evans kissing him, but she'd instigated the kiss, too, and here they were, practically ripping at one another… "I've wanted this," he breathed as her mouth moved to do absolutely wonderful things to his ear. "I've wanted this for so long, and I want it forever." Her lips froze in the action of nibbling on his earlobe, and she pulled away, her eyes wide. James pressed a hand to his chest. "I want this, Lily," he whispered, his hand over her heart. "I always have."

But she looked terrified now, and she jerked away from him as though burned. He stared at her, taking in the mussed hair, the askew clothing, the swollen lips, and the wide eyes, and decided that this wasn't quite the reaction he'd hoped for. Still, he had to try. "Go out with me, Lily," he pleaded – and he never pleaded. "Please."

"I – I just…" She stared at him. "What's wrong with you?" she cried hysterically. "I'm sixteen, I – why couldn't you just leave it alone?" she wailed angrily. "It's – it's too much – I just-"

And finding herself thoroughly unable to say anymore, she grabbed her book and fled the compartment.

James stared after her, completely frozen and horrified. He'd been so close – so close – and he'd ruined it. Completely ruined it.

Groaning, James buried his head in his hands.

X-X-X-X-X

Janine had gone looking for the loo, because after several butterbeers, she really had to go, really badly. But as she opened the door, she found an ashen-faced Lily sitting on the closed toilet, her knees drawn up to her chin, looking thoroughly unhappy and thoroughly shocked at the same time.

At once, Janine shut the door and knelt by Lily's side. "James went looking for you," she said softly. "Are… are you okay? You look bloody awful."

"I couldn't do it. It was like – God, he acted like he wanted to get bloody married. He was talking about my heart, and forever, and – I'm sixteen! I'm too young for that!" Lily turned her had wildly. "God, I was so scared, and I couldn't breathe, and I just had to-"

But Janine didn't seem to have heard her. She'd frozen, her mouth slightly agape, and when she turned to Lily, she reflected that she'd never seen Janine's eyes grow colder than they were just then. "Am I to understand," she said in a low, frigid tone, "that you rejected him? Again? After everything he's done for you?"

Lily nodded miserably. "It was just too much. He wanted too much."

Janine stood up so quickly that Lily got a crick in her neck, trying to follow her friend's movements. "Are you mad?" Janine exploded, her voice so loud that it rang in Lily's ears. "He's – he's the bloody best thing you'd ever have gotten! No guy would change that much for anyone else, Evans! Are you out of your fucking mind?"

Lily stood up as well, suddenly furious too. "Who're you to talk? It's none of your damn business, I should have figured you'd defend him, you always do – but he was crazy, Janine, talking about forever, nobody should understand that better than you-"

"Didn't he tell you, once, that when he loved, he loved with everything he had! You're absolutely mad, to throw something like that away! There's very little that's certain anymore, what with the war, and you threw away the one thing that was!"

"I'm sixteen!" Lily yelled. "That's too young to be talking about – forever, and nonsense-"

"We should all be so lucky for someone as great from him! D'you know how much I envied you, that James wanted you that much? Nobody in the world's ever wanted me like that, you know, and there are very few girls who get that lucky! He's – he's bloody amazing, that's what he is, and you're an absolute fool to throw that away!"

Lily's temper was rising to a dangerous level now. "You know what? You're fucking unbelievable. You spew all that nonsense about how you can't talk about forever, you have to take things day by day-"

"Exactly! Things day by day! So why the hell didn't you take it when you could? You're – you're a damn coward, that's what you are, Evans, and Merlin himself wouldn't know why you're in Gryffindor for it, because you're too damn scared to let your feelings go and for once let someone love you as much as he does-"

"Better to be a damn coward than a lovesick idiot!" she snarled. "You know Sirius is never going to stay with you, no matter how hard he might want to, because you lot are barely seventeen years old, and things just don't happen like that, not at that age! You, of all people, could hardly no what love is!"

"You're – you're a damn fool, that's what you are!" Janine was fuming. "I cannot believe – I would have given anything to be loved like – you know what it is?" she asked cruelly, at last. "You just can't do it – you're not strong enough, you're not brave enough – you could never be enough girl for him! You're – not good enough for him, that's what it is!" Janine gave her the coldest look she'd seen yet. "You aren't worth his attentions, Lily, if you can't even give him a proper chance when he deserves it – more than deserves it. I just - I give up on you!" she suddenly screeched, and slammed the door open so hard that she knocked a first-year over.

A fourth-year from Ravenclaw gave her a huffy looking, helping the first year up, and said, "If you're going to have your lover's spats, could you do it somewhere else please? A lot of us have to go, you know!"

"Piss off, you little brat," Janine snarled, flipping her the bird. The fourth-year looked scandalized, but Janine had stormed away and disappeared into a compartment.

Lily shoved the first-year and the fourth-year rudely out of the way – something she'd never done if she'd been thinking clearly, and flung herself into the nearest compartment, full of second-years. "Get out!" she snarled.

"This is our compartment," one of the boys squeaked, "and-"

"I'm a prefect," Lily said in her lowest, most dangerous voice, "and I'm telling you to get out. Now. Or I swear that when you come back to school, you'll regret it."

Terrified, the second-years ran out. Lily sank into a seat, drew her knees up to her chest, and not knowing what else to do, she cried.

X-X-X-X-X

A Brief Epilogue to Set the Stage

Lily looked for Snape as she got off the train with her things – she'd waited until the last minute, to avoid running into any of her friends – but she couldn't find him. Sighing, she stuffed the book into her satchel, planning to give it back the first moment she had. In the meantime, it would keep her occupied while she had absolutely no friends at all.

She saw Janine walking away from her, her arms linked through James's, Jen and Alyssa trailing behind her a bit aimlessly. The other three didn't see her, but when Janine caught sight of her, she gave Lily the dirtiest look the redhead had ever seen. Lily turned away to ignore the tears stinging her eyes. She had a feeling that making up after this particular fight would be much more difficult. It didn't even bother her, now, that as Janine was about to leave with her parents, she hugged James fiercely and gave him a particularly hard kiss on the cheek. James never turned around and saw Lily; she didn't care.

Lily dragged her trunk through the barrier, but only after all the others had gone. Her parents were some of the last, and they saw her. Rose Evans's expression was worried, and she came over and hugged her daughter. "Lily, darling, are you all right?"

Lily opened her mouth to answer, when she felt a gentle hand on her shoulder. She whirled, to find Marlene standing there, with Remus. "Hey, Lil – we're sorry. Both of us." Remus gave her a weak smile, which she returned. "Write me over the summer. Okay?"

"I will," she promised, sniffing, and hugged them both. As she gave Remus a hug, she whispered, "What about James?"

"Give it time. He'll be gone all summer, anyway," Remus said with a stronger smile, "and so will Sirius and Peter. I'll get lonely. So come visit me at Flourish and Blotts – that's where I work – if you've ever got the time. All right?"

"All right," she said weakly, and gave them both another fierce hug. "Thank you," she said quietly.

She felt her mother's hand on her shoulder. "Lily, we should go. Petunia is at Vernon's house, and we're going there for dinner, but if you don't feel up to it…"

"No, it's all right." Lily sniffled weakly. "I'll go."

"Are you all right, dear?" Richard Evans asked timidly, at last.

Lily didn't answer for a moment, but in between her parents she saw Marlene, who'd just turned around to wave a final time, and her heart lifted a bit. "Not yet. But I will be," she said quietly. And as her father took her trunk and her mother wrapped a gentle arm around her shoulders, she reflected that even with Marlene and Remus, it was bound to be a very long summer indeed.

X-X-X-X-X

A/M: So… hate me now? I won't blame you if you do, but I hope you guys will come back and read Shades of Grey, whenever it comes out (probably very soon).

Okay, so here's the super-duper-important stuff! After reading HBP (OMG, I loved it, it was amazing, but so sad too), I decided to write Harry's seventh year, which is tentatively titled 'When All Things End', so PLEASE be on the lookout for it. If you do decide to read it, you may notice that some of the characters in it are… ah… familiar, if you catch me drift. From this story. The point I want to make, though, is that they're not the same characters. I'm rewriting the Marauders' fic, this time only seventh year and on, and THAT fic is tentatively titled 'Time Of Our Lives' and it would make me so happy if you guys read that when it comes out, which WILL be soon, because I'm already almost done writing the second chapter of it. The characters, though their names are familiar, are REALLY different in that, Janine in particular. She's a very different person in that fic, and I like her MORE in that fic, so try not to get confused and remember that most things are NOT going to be the same in that one like they are in this one. Okay? So no forgetting that, because it's important. For example, the whole Tom-and-Janine's-Mom does NOT exist, and there is no mutual loathing between the Garnets and the Blacks. The only things I will tell you are that Lily is more like Ginny in that fic and less like Hermione, James is more of a prat, Sirius is more poetic but less romantic (if that makes sense), Janine is less of a ditzy airhead and more of a tomboy jock, she and Sirius DON'T hate each other (they're actually really good friends and always have been, but they AREN'T a couple) and Dorcas Meadowes features heavily, along with an as-of-yet unnamed Hufflepuff girl or two. So be on the lookout for these three: Shades of Grey, When All Things End, and Time Of Our Lives! (The last is likely to become my favorite – so please read?)

Until next I update – leave me lots of reviews and spur me on to continue writing these epic stories! Xoxo Peaches


P.S. I tweaked Chap. 32 a little, but not much - just some discrepancies between that and older chapters, but it's fine now. Nothing that needs to be reread, unless you're really curious or whatever...