Author's Note: Not many people ever read the old version of this, but if it does look familiar that's because I posted this before in a much more crude, unedited form. I have made A LOT of changes to it that I thought were necessary, so I've deleted the old version and never want to see it again. I just hope I don't sound like George Lucas here.
Watch for a sequel to this called "Requiems." It will be a lot longer than this and, I think, a lot better.
I wrote this while I was reading Order of the Phoenix, so please excuse some inaccuracies to canon.
prelude : (1) an introductory action, event, or performance preparing for and preceding a more important matter: a musical movement introducing the chief subject (2) to lead up to: foreshadow (3) to play a musical introduction
All students at Hogwarts find permanent friends by the time they enter their third or fourth year of school there, but the four Marauders had practically been eternally connected since the individual moments they all first met eachother. Now, nearly finished with their sixth year, the boys couldn't be pried apart by any force seemingly imaginable. They had also acquired popularity that undoubtably could never have been gained by any solo act.
James and Sirius were the faces that popped into mind when one thought about widely-liked troublemakers from the Gryffindor house. They had been best friends since their first year at Hogwarts, complete opposites and completely inseparable. James was everything that a well-liked young wizard should be: an amazing Quidditch player, a good student with neatly concealed intelligence, and always up for partying or a good joke. Not to mention that girls couldn't help but find him strangely attractive. He was always wild in a calm way, lying with his lean figure sprawled across the strangest place to be relaxing like on the back of one of the castle gargoyles, or simply smiling to himself almost unnoticeably while Sirius was cracking up loudly at the reaction of one of their practical jokes. And with his almost unbefitting glasses modestly hiding his crystal blue eyes, he was cute in a very quiet and comfortable way. On the contrary, Sirius was outrageous and loud about everything, his daring eyes and shoulder-length black hair just begging for girls to look at him. The fact that this year he had arrived at the train station to catch the Hogwarts Express riding a motorcycle made no false statement about his personality. Sirius was the kind of person who was horrible at consoling or even taking anything seriously, but as was reflected by his close friendship with James more than anything, he had good intentions, a good heart, and was worthy of his place in the Gryffindor house.
Their second year at the school was when they had started being seen often with Remus. This surprised many, for Remus had never before had any apparent friends. He was always keeping to himself as if he thought it was the way to be the most considerate to others, and his fox-like face was always looking down as if avoiding eye contact. People couldn't help but like Remus and always talk about him; there was a certain warmness about him, and the way he always looked tired and completely harmless like a gentle young boy was oddly calming. His unique kind of popularity that was absent of him actually having numerous friends was also helped, of course, by the mystery surrounding his absence once a month. Nobody knew that this was the cause, but when his friends had later found out his secret Sirius had conveniently turned into somewhat of a bullying figure, tacitly daring anyone to try to get past him if they wished to question Remus about his unexplained monthly illness.
Peter, by far the most unlikely member of their group, had always talked to the boys regularly. It wasn't until he showed his devotion to Remus by wanting to become an Animagus with Sirius and James that they really saw they had a true friend in him. So soon he was seen as part of the group as well, and they called eachother their own nicknames and were very secretive, and therefore were always talked about.
But there was also Lily.
Lily had dark red hair and eyes of a deep, velvety green, and one look with those eyes was as comforting as a mother's lullaby. The only way to give her appearance justice was to describe her as having the smile of an angel; genderless, beautiful in the most earthly and innocent way, and immortally kind. Even Snape, who commonly shared a mutual loathing with the four boys, could get a wave and a casual "Hello, Severus" from her if he passed her on the way into the library. Though Lily could be light-hearted, she always carried an aura of wisdom beyond her years, and no matter what she said others would take it as good advice because she just seemed to know best.
No one was really sure whether it was accurate to associate Lily with the four boys or not. She talked to all of them, but she was always nice to everyone in the school. Peter sat with her in Potions and they were used to always working together. She loved Remus to death, who confided in her sometimes and found a kind of comfort in talking to her that he could find nowhere else. Sirius, who had truly befriended her first but was not so much the type to open up to others, was usually either tickling her (often breaking the silence in a room where a lot of students were quietly studying) or giving her a ride on his back through the halls. James had met her only through Sirius and was possibly the least close to her, but Lily seemed to have the kind of effect on people so that they felt like they were friends with her just by talking to her once.
Perhaps in a way the boys, though they cared for her, unconsciously pushed Lily away. She was popular in the complete opposite way than they were, because she was well-liked by the teachers and one of the friendliest students in school while they just got attention because they made trouble. They didn't want her to be associated with them and change that. But mostly it was because they had developed an instinct to keep other people out for their own protection. For Lily did not know that Remus was a werewolf, or indeed that the other three were Animagi. She did know that James had an Invisibility Cloak and that the boys used it to sneak around the school a lot. She had even seen the map theyd made and knew about how they called themselves the Marauders, but when she'd asked about why they had such odd nicknames they had quickly changed the subject as casually as possible and never mentioned anything of the sort in front of her again.
One night Remus was minding himself quietly in the common room, playing the piano that sat in the corner as he was often doing. The piano was his own which Dumbledore had allowed to be Apparated into the school so that he could have it to play. Remus was a very good piano player for his age, and though they considered it a bit odd, the students in Gryffindor liked that he played. Whether his friends were with him lounging on the sofas with nothing to talk about, or some other students he didn't talk to were there doing homework, or he was alone in the common room, the majority of the time he could be found there playing and off in his own world. Students could hear his music from almost anywhere in the Gryffindor dormitories. Sometimes they heard his music even when Remus wasn't there, for he knew how to bewitch the piano to make it keep playing on its own. Sometimes they heard it very faintly late at night in their beds, and were unable to tell whether the music was real or in their heads.
Remus was the only one in the common room. Then Lily came in and went over to the corner right away, leaning her hip against the grand piano's side. It was like when she had first talked to Remus after only seeing him in hallways with Sirius and James before. Usually people avoided bothering him while he was playing piano, as if some other side of him would come out if he was disturbed, but Lily had kindly come over to him one night and told him he was very good. Then she'd ended up sitting next to him on the bench and asking about the songs he could play and how long he'd been learning, and then their conversation had comfortably drifted to other topics, Lily all the while amazed at how Remus could play perfectly and carry on a casual conversation at the same time. Sirius had then come in and Lily had teasingly asked him why he'd never properly introduced her and Remus before ("He's so sweet!" she'd whispered to him afterwards, and then, half-jokingly, "I never would have expected it, seeing as he hangs out with the lot of you and James").
Remus smiled at her in greeting, thinking to himself what an ugly grimace his smile was in comparison to the one she glimmered back at him. They said nothing to eachother because Lily was listening to his song, and she did until it slowly died and was over.
"What's that song?" she asked him. "I hear you play it a lot."
He looked down so that his eyes were hidden under his sandy hair even more than usual. "It's called 'Stella,'" he explained quietly. "My mum wrote it a long time ago."
"It's very pretty."
"Thank you," he said in an awkward tone, as if he wasn't sure if that was the right response, and started playing the next song that jumped out from his memory.
James came into the room. Only Lily was facing the portrait hole and saw him come in.
"Hi, James," she said.
Seeing that she was there, he smiled at her briefly and then looked away almost immediately. James was usually very confident, but he always felt weird around Lily, like he could easily look at her for a long time and had to be really careful not to stare.
"What's going on, Moony," he said to Remus.
"Not much," he replied without looking up.
They sat with little circulating conversation between them for a while, and then Remus finished his last song and dropped his hands to his lap. He yawned and turned around to sit in the other direction on the piano bench.
"Looks like the party's dead in here," James observed, looking around the common room.
"Yeah, it's getting pretty late," Lily agreed, looking at the grandfather clock. "I'm going to get to bed. I'll see you guys tomorrow."
"Goodnight," Remus and James said, waving with tired effort as she got up and left the room.
"Well." James turned to his friend. "Guys are going to start thinking they're competing with you for the prettiest girl in school."
"I think they know Lily isn't my girlfriend," Remus assured him. "And I'm sure they're more worried about Sirius."
James laughed, and then looked around to make sure no one had come into the room unnoticed. He said a little more quietly, "How much time do you have?"
"Not much," Remus answered.
"You know, I was thinking this time we should sneak into the-"
He stopped talking when someone came in, but relaxed when he saw it was only Sirius.
"What are we going to say you have now, Moony?" Sirius asked right away. "A cold again? Maybe we can dump ice water over your head tomorrow and make it look like Snape did it as a joke; that way it'll be believable when you're supposedly sick."
Remus didn't laugh, but smiled quietly.
"You don't have to say I have anything," he said. "I never asked you to blatantly lie to anybody. Everyone just figures when I'm gone that I get sick."
"We need a better story," Sirius said. "When people start reporting that they were sent to the hospital wing when you were absent but you weren't there, and we start making up stuff like them having a separate room for you or that you use floo powder to go home when you're sick...well, it's kind of unbelievable."
"Does it matter?" James said. "It's not like they're automatically going to figure out that because his story's unbelievable he must be turning into a wolf."
"Don't tell them anything," Remus said stressingly. "Don't make up any stories. You're right; they won't be able to figure it out anyway. And I don't like lying."
"Yeah," Sirius agreed. "Especially to some certain people."
It was unspokenly understood that a picture of the same girl came into all of their heads then. Remus had thought about telling Lily the truth about him as often as she had asked him about it. The thought never occurred to him that her motive for such curiosity was concern for him, but Lily had tried to get him to tell her why he was often absent from school nearly every time he'd "fallen ill" that year. She had stopped the last couple times, though, much to his relief. Telling Lily his secret would take a great weight off of his shoulders, but it was only a fleeting dream and not at all a possibility. If he did that, it could put her in danger in ways that they couldn't even fathom. Or, even worse...she might react just like the rest of the world. She might not understand.
Another student came into the common room, breaking their privacy, and they said nothing more.
Right beside the greenhouse at Hogwarts that was used for Herbology, there stood a tall wall which blocked the greenhouse from view of anyone approaching the castle from afar. Vines had grown up the wall from the greenhouse side and all the way to the bottom of the other side in the time it had been there, so that it was more green than it was the color of the rest of the castle by now.
In front of this wall was where the four friends were enjoying themselves after classes the next day and entertaining themselves by seeing who could throw a stone all the way into the lake from where they stood. They weren't alone; a group of Ravenclaw students that nearly doubled their amount were also lounging near the bank on this side of the school, and there was also Snape, accompanied by four friends of his. His and the other group ignored eachother, with the exception of an occasional glance behind a shoulder at the enemy connected with some kind of dialogue that was intended to be overheard by the others.
"The Quidditch match next week is going to be a steal," Clopin Avery, one of Snape's crowd, was commenting.
"You never know when it's us against Gryffindor," said Rabastan Lestrange. "They do have a good Seeker. They say Potter's like a god. The best Seeker their house has ever had." There was such obvious deviousness and unseriousness in his tone that it was as bad as if he had suggested that James couldn't even fly.
"They shouldn't say such things," said Snape in a low tone. "It doesn't make much of a statement about their house."
Sirius, who along with his friends could hear this conversation perfectly, had just picked up his next stone to throw toward the lake. He pulled his arm back to throw it, but as he brought it forward he turned on his heel almost in a complete half-circle.
"Oops," he said as the stone flew in the direction of the gathering of Slytherins. It went into the trail of Avery's cloak behind him, and he flashed Sirius a dangerous look.
"Don't look so sad that it missed your head and failed to put you out of your misery," James said, standing casually with his hands in his pockets.
Peter and Remus were both sitting in the grass with open books on the ground in front of them and facing away from the other two. James was the only one who saw Lily sneaking up behind Sirius, and he noticed James smirking but not saying anything.
"Ah!" Sirius said as she put her hands over his eyes, but he immediately relaxed in a state of humorous contentmentabout being currently blinded. "Now honestly, woman, how am I supposed to aim like this?"
"It's a lake, not a target," Lily said as she walked around to face him, not bothering to ask how he'd known it was her. "What is there to aim for? Just throw it as far as you can." She said this as she bent over to pick up a rock and tossed it in her hand once. Then she cast it away with a fast throw and it landed just a few feet from the end of the bank.
"I'll bet I could throw you far enough to go in," Sirius said, grabbing her around the waist from behind and lifting her up off the ground. She laughed, kicking her feet in the air, and nudged him with her elbow until he put her back down.
Remus was distracted from studying, bent over a strange-looking insect on the ground that had a large amount of forked legs. He let it crawl onto his finger from a blade of grass and stared at it curiously.
At this time Snape had attracted a lot of attention by climbing up onto the wall. He was now walking across it like a rope with his arms out at his sides to keep balance as he kept talking casually to his friends below.
"Prat," James muttered with his arms crossed, shaking his head.
Remus walked over to them to get a closer look, not wanting to miss it if Snape happened to fall down.
"What have you got there?" Lily asked him, noticing the insect that was happily crawling over Remus's knuckles.
"Ooooh," Sirius said as soon as his attention was called to it, getting an idea right away. "Let me see it."
Remus confusedly let him brush the bug into the palm of his hand, and then Sirius dropped it gently into his breast pocket and turned to go straight to the bottom of the wall. Peter was now watching, and nobody bothered asking what he was doing because from the look everyone had on their faces it was obvious nobody knew. The puzzled Slytherin students on the ground watched as he climbed up the wall by taking hold of the vines. Snape couldn't see Sirius now walking along the wall behind him once he had climbed up onto the top. Lucy Carpath yelled a warning to him as Sirius advanced behind him, but it couldn't be helped when he pulled back the neck of Snape's shirt.
Lily gasped, seeing what he was about to do, and just as soon Sirius had taken the unpleasant insect from his pocket and dropped it down the back of his shirt. Snape immediately yelled and squirmed, and a lot of girls screamed as he fell to the left but just barely caught hold of the wall so that he hung from the top instead of falling.
James and Peter were laughing and Remus was covering his mouth with his hand and trying not to. Some of the Ravenclaw students started to laugh, too, but Lily was shaking her head.
"You guys are going to put his life in danger some day," she said disapprovingly, but she had started to smile like Remus and couldn't help but find it funny.