Chapter 5 / Just Another Day In Paradise

The mornings after parties were never that great. But as morning-afters go, that Sunday had to be one of the worst. Most of the older students spent the day moping around miserably, clutching their stomachs or holding pillows to their heads as if to make themselves feel better by keeping something soft near what caused them pain.

"I will never drink so much in my life again." Sirius groaned, barely audible. He was stretched out on a couch, with a pillow held tightly over his head.

"You said that last time, Padfoot." James pointed out. He was sitting next to Lily, for once she wasn't shooting dark looks his way, and he really didn't seem to mind. He didn't have much of a hangover; he spent most of the night talking to Lily, which kept him from drinking. As long has he avoided the sun, which seemed to shine brighter today. "I doubt you'll stick to your word."

"I have to agree, James." Stephanie's voice came from behind Sirius' head. He sat up and turned to find her and Ash standing there. Stephanie had a tray with a few leftover drinks from the night before, and Ash had her arms crossed, looking at Sirius in a I-told-you-so kind of way.

"Whatdyawant?" He muttered tiredly.

"What's your damage?" Ash asked, pointing to the drinks.

"Erm...those two." Sirius responded, pointing to the butterbeer and the firewhiskey. "More of the firewhiskey, though. At least I'm fairly sure..." he said, scratching his head.

"Well, let's start with this." Ash said, handing him the butterbeer. "You seemed fairly normal last night after your stint with Emmaline, so I doubt you had as much firewhiskey as you think. Even if you did, a little bit of this should fix you right up."

Sirius took a couple of sips from the bottle before handing it back to her and falling back down on the couch. James chuckled at his friend as Ash and Stephanie went and threw the remaining bottles away.

"You know, I'm suprised she doesn't hate you right now." James commented, as if he were shooting the breeze.

"Who? Ash?" Sirius asked, peeking out from under his pillow.

"No, Stephanie." James said sarcastically.

"Why would she hate me?"

"Forget it. You need your rest." James said, standing up. "I have a feeling even that Felix Felicis wouldn't help you now. It's too bad you went and drank it all yesterday. Although I must congratulate you on knocking out three-fourths of the Slytherin team and getting us a victory."

And that's when everything hit Sirius like a brick wall.

Oh dear God. Help me.

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Sunday had dragged on for what seemed like ages. And because most of the Gryffindors had nothing to do, or felt like doing nothing, they ended up spending the afternoon and evening gossiping about the night before. By the end of the day, the rumors were rampant. The wildest one mentioned was that Ash and Sirius had been secretly dating for the past few months (hence why they'd been spending more time together) and that she had gone off and cheated on him with her ex-boyfriend Mark, who apparently she was still in love with. Then, according to the rumor, Sirius found out about it when he heard him talking in the locker room after the Quidditch match, so to get back at her he made out with Emmaline at the party.

"Is what they're saying true?" Caila asked her friend that night, as the girls sat around in the dorm before drifting off to sleep.

"Of course not!" Ash retorted, throwing a pillow at Cai. "Why would I date that prat?"

"Which one?" Stephanie asked, doubtfully.

"Um..." Ash said, furrowing her eyebrows. What kind of question is that? "Neither, I suppose."

Stephanie snorted. "Yeah. Okay. If you say so."

Ash looked at her, bewildered. "What, you don't believe me?"

"No. I don't."

"Gosh. What great friends I have." Ash scoffed, laying back on her bed. "Glad to see at least you guys can trust me." she snapped, and yanked the hangings shut.

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If any of them thought Sunday was bad, they did not see Monday coming along. Emmaline had spent the entire day Sunday in either in her bed or in the bathroom. So she knew nothing of the rumors. And her friends didn't have the heart to tell her. She had skipped breakfast that morning, getting up at the last second. So by lunchtime, the whole school knew what had happened and the theories behind it. She was not expecting the Great Hall to go from loud, cheerful talking to a dull whisper when she walked in.

"I think I'm going to go crazy with all of this." Emmaline muttered to her best friend Chasity. "Honestly, it's like everyone's walking on eggshells around me, and I really don't get why."

"They're, uh," Chasity started, nervously twirling her blonde ponytail. "They're just…jealous. Yeah, just jealous." She stated, offering her friend a not-so-reassuring smile and shrug.

Emmaline shrugged in return and took her seat at the Gryffindor table with Chasity. A few of their friends came running, and soon the group was chatting animatedly while Emmaline happily ignored several glares she received.

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"Look at her."

"How can she be so happy?"

"Especially after everything they're saying about her. At least she's not being known as the school slut, though."

"But you didn't do anything wrong, Ash, that's what sucks."

"This is why I don't bother with rumors and such. Too much drama for me."

Stephanie, Ash, and Caila were sitting around their lunches, several feet down the table from Emmaline and her group. Stephanie had been glued to her book and occaisionally offering bits of advice while Caila had been descriptively telling Ash ways that she could show Emmaline her true feelings.

"Honestly, she's the root of all your problems. If she hadn't done what she did—"

"—I would have." Ash cut Caila off.

"No you wouldn't have. You have dignity. Besides, she was wasted. You weren't."

"Whatever. Can we just drop it."

The three sat in silence for another few minutes when James came in, followed by a reluctant, albeit happy, Lily.

"I'm happy Lily's finally seeing the good side of James." Caila said, watching the two sit way down the table from them, where Remus was seated.

Stephanie set down her book; shutting it. "Apparently you're not the only one." She commented, nodding her head indicatively toward James.

The other two nodded. "She's so lucky and I'm not sure she realizes how much." Ash commented, and all three sighed, each drifting off into their own daydreams.

"You three feeling okay?" A voice came from behind them a few minutes later. Stephanie jumped, Caila whipped around violently, and Ash nodded, still entranced, before recognizing the voice.

"Feeling better, are we?" she said, meeting Sirius' eyes.

"Well, of course…" he replied. "The party was two days ago."

"Right." Ash said, laughing nervously. "See, it's just that normally you try and miss the first two or so days of the week."

"Good observation."

The three girls at the table turned to see who else had joined them. Their curious expressions melted into shocked ones as Jace walked toward them. Once she reached Sirius, she gave him a hug, then stood on her tiptoes and kissed him. He put his arm around her and smiled, looking back at the other three proudly. They didn't share his enthusiasm; however, and currently looked like they had been stunned.

"I've gotta go." Stephanie said after a minute, the first to speak. As she jumped up, Caila joined her.

"Yeah, me too." She said.

"Have fun!" Stephanie said, and Caila flashed a bright smile, then they ran out of the Hall.

Ash watched them go, in shock.

"So, um," she stammered as the two sat down.

The three sat in silence, except for a few awkward comments between Sirius and Jace. Ash, who had been pretending to study, eventually slammed her book shut and threw her stuff in her bag before running off, muttering something about the library being quieter. Once out of the Hall, though, she made her way not to the library but the Gryffindor common room.

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Remus, who was sitting several feet away with James and Lily, watched her run out of the room. He leaned over towards James. "What d'you think that was all about?" he muttered, as Lily turned to talk to Casey.

"What?" James replied.

"Ash running off just now. She looked like she was about to cry and ready to attack Jace."

"Oh, she's probably just jealous. You know how she gets."

"I dunno…" Remus muttered, more to himself rather than to James, who had turned back to Lily. He couldn't just blow that off quite like James could; then again, he had always been known as the caring one. He stood up, gathering his things, and left the Hall after Ash.

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You are an idiot. A complete and total idiot.

"No way. How was I supposed to know he was going to go after her?"

Only because he's been staring at her for the past two years.

Ash groaned, banging her head repetitively against the open Potions book that was laying on the table in front of her. She stopped, though, when she heard the Fat Lady's portrait swinging open and someone walk in.

Damnit. I came in the common room for peace and quiet…

Fuming, and about ready to tell off whoever it was, she swung around as she felt a warm hand on her shoulder. She came face-to-face with Remus, who was currently kneeling on the floor next to her chair.

"Hey." He said, offering Ash a small half-smile. "You okay?"

"Heh. Never been better." She said sourly, turning away.

"I know what you mean." Remus replied, standing up and pulling a chair next to her. "Look, you can't let everything Sirius does get to you. Sometimes you have to just stand back and let him screw up."

"So you think that's what this is about?" Ash said, choking up slightly.

"Well…I know it's not about the Potions exam next hour," Remus joked, shutting her book.

"Touché," she said, facing him with a smile and watery eyes.

"Don't cry." Remus said sadly, wiping her eyes. "It really doesn't suit you. You're much better smiling. Besides, I hate when people cry. I feel like a failure because I can't make them happy."

Ash smiled briefly, but felt her eyes well up again and she turned away. "You should probably go, then," she muttered. "I've been bottling this up for a while, and I don't want to drag you down with me."

Remus frowned, and turned her around, pulling her into a hug. "It's okay, really." He said, stroking her hair. He tried ignoring a small feeling he got in his stomach, and continued. "Look, you should just give up on Sirius. At least for now. You're sweet, and funny, and you deserve someone else much better than him. You don't need to be wasting your time and emotions on him, when he's only going to lead you on and make you feel bad." Remus said, pushing Ash back away from him and looking at her, his hands still on her shoulders. She nodded, but looked down.

"It's not that easy, though. I wish it was. I mean, how do you give up somebody you lo—" Ash started, but Remus cut her off.

"Nobody ever said it would be," he said, pulling her chin up with his right hand. He looked at her sadly, and she stared into his eyes. He had seen that expression before…seen those same hurt eyes, only recently. "Look...it'll take time, but I'm sure this will all blow over."

I highly doubt that. Ash thought, sending Remus a momentarily dark look.

"But then again, I could be wrong." Remus continued, leaning back some in his chair. "Maybe...maybe Sirius'll grow up and actually start caring about other peoples' feelings besides his own. I'd just hate to see what it'd take for him to do that." he said, glaring out the window as he became quiet for a few minutes. He turned back to Ash and leaned forward again, pulling her into a hug. "What I'm trying to say is, don't wait around for him. Don't completely give up on him, because he really does care about you, it's just right now he's being horomonal maniac and going after what he wants at the moment, not what he'd want in the long run."

Ash smiled, closing her eyes. "Thanks a lot, Remus." she said quietly.

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Lily sighed, leaning her head on James' shoulder. She smiled brightly, having just laughed at a rather funny joke he had just told.

What is coming over me? She thought strangely. These past few days have been weird. Not only have I not been annoyed by James' lame attempts to get me to date him, but I'm actually enjoying spending time with him.

She turned and looked at him, and he pulled her into a side hug, before going back to his food. Of course, he's changed, too. He's acting so much more mature. He hasn't messed with Snape in weeks…actually, it's been about two months now, because he tortured him with that hideous makeover at the Welcome Feast. But that's been it. And he hasn't partied heavily, either. He's actually been more responsible…maybe him being Head Boy was a good idea after all. Maybe I'm just reacting to his change.

Lily cringed as the next thought entered her head. Maybe…maybe I actually fancy Potter…

And maybe that's not such a bad thing.

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A/N: So I imagine, right now you're going "What the-? What just happened?" I swear it'll all work out. Some stuff may seem random and needing explanation, and I will provide the answers :D I'm already almost three pages into Chapter 6 ("Holiday") so rest assured you will not be confused for much longer xD

But yeah...on a side note, this has been up on deviantART since like, the end of August Oo I kinda forgot to update here (being so busy with school and all). So, as I've said before, if you wanna read the latest stuff, you're better off looking at dA. My screename there is marauder-girl-16.

Annnnd, what else? Oh, I've decided to stop doing the review replies stuff thingies at the end. Unless you've got a question or something, then I'll answer it. But I started noticing I was saying the same stuff over and over again. So I'll take this moment to give everyone reading this a great big THANKS xD

And I'd love it if you reviewed...I mean, it's not required, but it'd be great. Especially considering this story has gotten almost 600 hits and only 11 reviews Oo I mean, I know I'm not the greatest writer, but really...

And I've also recently noticed while writing Chapter 6 that I've strayed a slight bit away from the whole "Felix" bit, and I promise there'll be more lucky days in store for our favorite foursome xD I just didn't want to write about that though, I kinda have been itching to write about life in general.

Anyways..this thing's long and huge now Oo Just so you know, I won't be updating as much (obviously) because of school, but I promise to try and not leave you hanging dry like I just did (sorry guys!).