Author's notes: To those to whom it is not blatantly obvious, I do not own HP or any part thereof. I am borrowing, not making money and would ask pitifully to not be sued.
That out of the way, please read and enjoy. Please please review if you read it, just to let me know that anyone has bothered to read it!!! There are so many HP fics that it is very easy to feel lost and like no one bothers to read.
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The summer after James Potter's fifth year at Hogwart's started off grandly; Sirius was living with him and his parents to escape his horrible family, and Peter and Remus were often around too, what more could a sixteen year old boy ask for?
'Lily Evans,' he thought to himself, but shrugged. She made it very clear to him earlier in the spring that she wanted nothing to do with him. She defended Snivellus even as he was insulting her. He ruffled his hair and looked to his three best friends, "So what's on for tonight?"
Sirius grinned, "We could head to Hogsmeade and see if they have a band playing tonight."
Remus rolled his eyes, "We can't, we're underage and they won't let us in."
"Bah!" Sirius snorted, "Why let something little like that stop us? I'm sure we could get around it if we tried." His eyes sparkled with mischief.
"Yeah! Sounds like a great idea Sirius," Peter said; he almost never disagreed with Sirius or James.
James made a face, "I don't know, I'm not sure I want to go to the trouble. Plus…it's not like it's that exciting there. I want to do something different."
"Yeah, like not get insulted by Lily?" Sirius snickered as he spoke.
James threw a Remembrall at Sirius. "Shut up. She's just stuck up and full of herself."
"So, that's why you doodle her initials and spend most of History of Magic watching her?" Remus said mildly.
James stood up, turning his back to his friends. "Drop it. I'm over her. So let's figure out something else to do; something fun." He started pacing in his room. Nothing would come to him and he was aware that his friends were just watching him with amusement. They knew as well as he did that he wasn't really over Lily, but it didn't matter.
"We could start a map of Hogsmeade?" Peter suggested hopefully.
"Booooring," Sirius drawled. "We don't need a map of Hogsmeade. Plus, who wants to be studying and enchanting on a beautiful summer night? We should be shaking things up." He sat up suddenly, "I got it! I can't believe I forgot about it!"
"What?" the other Marauders said in unison, looking at Sirius expectantly.
"My cousin's engagement party is tonight!" His eyes glittered dangerously.
James snorted, "Narcissa? She's marrying that prat Lucious. I can't believe they actually invited you."
Sirius shrugged with a smirk, "They didn't, but that doesn't mean that we can't go. Snivellus will probably be there and we can wreak some havoc."
James (and therefore Peter) looked enthused, though Remus looked doubtful, "I don't know if that's a good idea, Padfoot. A lot of those people are supposed to be Death Eaters."
"All the more reason to disrupt and disturb their social event!" Sirius replied cheerfully. Remus still was unconvinced, but James was already making plans to nick his dad's invisibility cloak.
"Come on Remus, we won't do anything really bad, just jinx the dance floor so it is super slippery, melt the ice sculptures and stuff," James coaxed. "We'll keep it under control and they'll never know it was us."
Remus sighed, "Alright." He stood up, still looking like he'd rather be staying in for the night. "Padfoot and Wormtail, go incognito so we don't have to all fit under the cloak." Remus thought that if they were going to do it, he would at least help make sure they weren't caught.
Just as James' hand touched the doorknob, he heard his mother calling from downstairs. He gave a quick apologetic look to his friends, holding up a finger, "Be right back."
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"What's going on, Mum?" He looked between his mother and father, who were sitting tensely on the couch.
"Your friends need to go home," she said, with a hint of apology in her tone. "Except Sirius of course, he's welcome to stay, if he wants."
He looked at his parents like they were crazy, "Why? We weren't doing anything upstairs! We were just getting ready to go out," he protested.
His father looked alarmed, "No! Your friends can floo home, but you need to stay in."
James' eyes narrowed, "What do you mean, for now? What's going on?"
His mum looked to his dad, who looked uneasy, "I just got flooed by Dumbledore." James looked anxious now, wondering why Dumbledore was contacting his parents during holidays. He opened his mouth to profess his innocence against whatever charges there were against him but his father silenced him with his hand. "It's not about you, James. He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named has been on a bit of a rampage this evening."
"Death Eaters version of a celebration," he muttered and his father looked at him sharply, prompting him to explain. "Narcissa Black and Lucius Malfoy are announcing their engagement tonight formally."
His parents nodded, that making sense with the information they had. "Anyway," his dad continued, "Dumbledore thinks it would be better if those of us who were not with him, if we kept close for a tonight. Maybe the week."
James looked horrified; he didn't really think that his family was at risk from Voldemort, they were purebloods, even if they didn't share Voldemort's beliefs. "No! It's holidays and I don't want to be stuck inside all the time."
His father looked at him sternly, "We're serious, James. We know you don't want to, but please trust us and stay close for just a little while, these are dangerous times." He gave his son a knowing smile, "There will be plenty of time left in the summer to have adventures, alright?"
James nodded morosely, getting up and heading back up the stairs, his mum calling after him, "We love you James, we're just trying to keep you safe." He nodded without turning around, returning to his room.
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"I suppose you guys were listening in," he said, noting the glum expressions Remus' and Peter's faces.
"Tough luck mate. We'll floo in tomorrow, ok?" Remus clapped his shoulder. "Look on the bright side: since Sirius is living with you, you won't be totally alone."
James rolled his eyes at the attempt to cheer him and watched Remus and Peter exit his room, looking at Sirius, who retained a smirk on his face, "What are you planning Padfoot?" He kept his voice quiet, glancing back at the door.
Sirius stood, stretching elegantly, then flicked James' forehead, "Invisibility cloak. You and I both know that he won't be knocking down your parents' door tonight. There's tons of muggles to harass." He grinned, "And maybe we could trip some of them up while they're doing it."
James considered for barely a second then grinned widely, "I'm in." They started gathering any supplies they thought they might need. "Bring your mirror, just in case."
Sirius nodded and patted his side, "Already ahead of you! Let's grab our brooms and go!"
"Let me go nick the cloak first; Remus was right, if we're going to do it, we should avoid getting caught." He grinned and slipped out of his bedroom door.
He quietly went down the stairs, ears straining to hear his parents. He could hear them talking in their bedroom, which was incredibly good luck on his part, because the cloak was in his dad's study. He heard a few phrases before he was out of earshot, things about orders and wars and a shadow crossed his face, wondering for a moment if his parents weren't further involved in the war than they let on.
He made it to the study and put those thoughts out of his mind, quietly taking the invisibility cloak from where it was stored in the cabinet, putting it back on before heading up the stairs. He crept closer to his parents' room, trying to hear what they were saying, but all he could hear were the sounds of his mother crying and his father trying to console her. He frowned even more and returned to his room to get Sirius; maybe they could talk about it later.
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Flying on a broom while trying to keep an invisibility cloak on was about as difficult as it sounded, so the boys, sharing a broom for now, headed straight for the clouds to hide themselves. As soon as they were out of vision range, Sirius grinned, jumping onto his broom, almost like a muggle cowboy would from a rooftop. He dropped downwards alarmingly for a few moments, then he adjusted and flew next to James.
"Are we still heading for the Malfoy manor?" James called, the wind trying to steal his words from him. He loved flying, the feeling of freedom and power it gave him.
"Sure, let's go." Sirius took the lead and they dove and barrel-rolled through the clouds, getting themselves soaking wet but not caring. It was fun and that was all that mattered.
It didn't take long at all to reach the manor, many of the pure-blooded wizarding families tended to live near to each other. The lights were bright and James could almost hear faint strains of music. He winked at Sirius and then dove straight down towards the ground.
He knew Sirius would be cursing behind him; he wasn't as talented as James on a broom and hated it when James would show off in front of him. The ground came closer and closer and he pulled up on his broom, returning to his position parallel with the ground. He waited for Sirius and grinned at the annoyed look on his friend's face. "What took you so long?"
"Shove it, Prongs," Sirius grumbled with a grin. They slowly reached the ground together, stowing their brooms behind a low stone wall. "You want Padfoot to scope out the scene?" This was his chance to show off; although they were both illegal animagi, Sirius' form was a lot more inconspicuous than James'.
James nodded, "But be quick about it." He waited impatiently as Sirius shifted into Padfoot and trotted off to the Malfoy's home. He paced around, keeping his eyes peeled for anyone who could be watching him. He was beginning to worry about Sirius because he had been gone for so long, when a familiar black dog padded up, bone clamped in his jaws. James smirked and rolled his eyes, "Having fun?" Padfoot wagged his tail energetically. "Is it all clear?" Another wag of the tail, and James nodded, putting on the invisibility cloak.
He let Sirius lead the way, watching carefully from underneath the cloak, making sure he didn't leave obvious footprints or anything like that. They came to a large picture window and he covered Padfoot with the cloak, who quickly returned to his human form.
Inside the room was a ballroom and a group of instruments playing a waltz in the corner – without the aid of any musicians. House elves darted in and out, making sure all the food and drinks were perfect and cleaning any spill that happened to occur.
"Looks pretty boring to me," James stated, looking inside. "There aren't even many people here."
Sirius grinned, "Would you want to come, even if you were evil?" James smothered a laugh and they tried to figure out who all was there.
"Oh! Look what we have here! A greasy git is heading to the dance floor with Enid Warner." They both gave identical shivers. Enid was a Slytherin sixth year who was solidly built and was a wicked beater in Quidditch.
"Scourgify," James whispered, pointing his wand to Snape's shoes instead of his mouth.
They watched as Snape began skating on the dance floor due to the soap suds on the bottom of his shoes. He ripped off the sleeve of Enid's dress and she slugged him, almost automatically, for it. He fell flat on his face after that, house elves swarming to the area to attempt to clean the floor and remove the suds from Snape's shoes. Lucius Malfoy angrily ordered the house elves around, occasionally kicking one.
The boys stayed huddled under the cloak, enjoying the chaos in the party, laughing softly. Snape looked around angrily, trying to find out who hexed him. James and Sirius both held their breath when Snape looked to the window where they were peering in and seemed to stare right at them. His eyes finally moved on and he angrily stormed out.
"I think we better go before he realizes we're out here." James whispered. He wasn't afraid of Snape, but didn't want to be caught out when he had promised his parents that he would stay in. Sirius nodded and they high-tailed it back towards James' house.
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"Did you see the look on Enid's face as she slugged him?" Sirius guffawed as they flew through the clouds back towards home.
"Not nearly as good as the look on Snivellus' face as he went skating around the floor!"
"Narcissa looked like she was going to hex him for ruining the party. I wish I could have seen that," Sirius said wistfully. "She is good at hexing, I'll give-" He broke off suddenly, noticing as James had that the clouds they were flying through had taken on a sickly green tinge.
"No," James whispered, diving out of the clouds, seeing the thing he feared most as he approached his house: the dark mark illuminating the sky. "NO!!" He realized the mark was hovering above his own house and he heedlessly flew straight to the ground, not even trying for a graceful landing, tumbling from his broom and scrambling to the front door, which stood slightly ajar.
"James! Wait!" He could vaguely hear Sirius calling behind him, but he didn't care, he had to find his parents. His wand was out and his breath was coming quickly as he ascended the stairs. The house was preternaturally quiet as he crept towards their bedroom.
"No!" he moaned as he looked in, seeing his father's body, still clutching his wand, laying on the floor near the bed. His eyes searched for his mother's body, but didn't see it. Hope surged through him; maybe she had escaped! He ran down the house calling for her, stopping at his own room. "No no no no." He crumpled to the floor to hold his mother's body. It looked like she had gone to his room to try and warn him.
"Oh Merlin," Sirius breathed as he saw his best friend sobbing and holding the body of his mother. "James, we have to call the Ministry to send Aurors, they could still be around!"
"I know where they are!" James yelled. "They're probably heading back to your house, seeing as they are all your relatives and friends!"
Sirius winced at the accusation, saying quietly, "You know I don't truck with them, I couldn't choose my family." His eyes were brimming with tears as well, it was beginning to sink in; the Potters had taken him in when he wanted to escape his family and now they were gone. James' parents, murdered, by Death Eaters. He crouched down next to James, hugging them both, crying with his friend over the loss.