A/N: BYEBYEBIRDIE IS BACK. Yes, you heard (and saw) right - I am back with yet another fanfic and I have to say, I am rather proud of this series. Yes, I said series. This is going to be a three-parter...or a four-parter. Haven't decided yet. You'll just have to keep on reading to find that out.

So it's obviously a L/J fic because they're my favorite but it's a lot about Sirius, Remus, Peter, and Lily's two friends as well. I have really enjoyed writing this story so I hope you enjoy reading it. I've tried to capture the essence of James, Lily, Sirius, Remus, and yes, even Peter. I will warn you that this story is a bit of an AU-I had started writing this story before the 6th and 7th book were ever released so some things have changed (just goes to show how long ago this was written!). I have attempted to add in more of the important plots, but I had a plan for this story before learning what had truly happened to all of the characters. And just to let you all know, I have also gone back and updated this story recently (February 2012). I hope you like the comedy and the romance and please read and review!

Disclaimer: Do I look richer than the Queen of England? No, otherwise I wouldn't be writing on this website. Everything you don't recognize belongs to me. Everything and everyone else belongs to the beloved J.K. Rowling!

Tears on the Balcony

By ByeByeBirdie

Chapter 1: Of Parties, Roommates, and Strip Poker

Love. It was a word unknown to any of them. It was a word that they weren't subjected to hearing often and a word that none of them were particularly used to saying. A word that feared them all. With love came the pressure to be perfect. With love came the possibility of a broken heart. With love came dependence on another. But most of all, with love came an immense burden to let one's guard down and trust someone with your utmost vulnerability. And trust was just a fantasy in each and every one of their wildest imaginations. They were only seventeen and they probably had to deal with more tragedies and sorrow in a single year than most people experienced in their entire lives. They were certain that the idea of loving someone and being loved back was just that: an idea. A simple, outlandish idea that seemed out of their reach and far too overwhelming to bear with. They all had their reasons to run from romance and commitment and even the potential to love and be loved. But perhaps it was this common bond that had truly brought them all together in the end. Love wasn't easy for any of them, but they ironically found comfort in having a good group of friends by their side to coax them through the confusion and pain and inevitably the good that eventually they could associate with loving someone. But in all honesty, love was a mystery. One that the seven friends thought would be easier keeping a mystery.

It just so happened that the world had an entirely different idea planned out for them.

"OY, JAMES!" a familiar voice cried out across the grounds, the echo of his voice reverberating loudly through the Spring air.

James Potter let out a deep sigh as he reluctantly turned his gaze away from a beautiful redhead towards the sound of his best friend's voice. He cracked a smile at the sight of Sirius Black galloping across the grass, winking at all of the gawking girls and reveling in the looks of jealousy coming from the younger males scattered about. He stopped to pick a dandelion and offered it to Rachael LeBlanc, flashing his typical charming smile at her. James couldn't help but roll his eyes.

"What do you want, Padfoot?" James asked when Sirius approached him with a rather sly grin on his face.

Sirius graciously plopped down beside James and leaned up against their favorite willow tree. A tree that had heard the many secrets the Marauders kept hidden from the rest of the world. A tree that listened to the endless planning of pranks and hoaxes during six years of endless scheming. A tree that recognized the close bond and appreciation those boys had for each other, a bond unlike any other. If trees could talk (and it wasn't unheard of in the wizarding world), the secretive lives of the Marauders would be exposed and their lives could change forever in just a mere few minutes. "Well, as you know, the end of the year feast is tonight and, again, as you know, Gryffindor will be winning the House Cup so, as you should know, I believe a party is in order for the hard workers of Gryffindor to go out and celebrate one last night so-"

"Is that what we're calling you now? A hard worker?" A jesting smile appeared on the boy's face.

His friend merely shrugged, not fazed by the dig. "Nah, not me. But everyone else in Gryffindor. Or most of them, at least."

"Padfoot, even if Gryffindor was full of a bunch of lazy, good-for-nothing, wisecracking failures, you would still find a reason to host a party."

Another curt shrug was offered, a grin breaking out. "You know me so well."

"Now, what is it you need from me?" asked James.

"Moony and I are sneaking into Hogsmeade in a few minutes and we can't find your Invisibility Cloak,."

James tossled his hair, out of habit, and shook his head incredulously. "Why must you always turn a simple question into a long and rather uninteresting anecdote?"

Sirius scoffed, a haughty smile spreading across his face. "Nonsense. I'm always interesting."

"Is your cockiness how you manage to win over the ladies?" James retaliated with a chuckle.

Amusement shone in Sirius' eyes. "No, my winning smile and my dark, mysterious eyes do that," he said with a smoldering grin. "Or so I've been told."

"Ah, yes, those eyes. They really do draw me in," James responded, his words dripping with sarcasm.

Sirius merely grinned. "So, where did we land on that Invisibility Cloak of yours?"

James rolled his eyes yet again (something Sirius Black was used to from those surrounding him) and couldn't help but note out of the corner of his eye that his love-interest across the lake glanced up from the novel her head was recently buried in. He followed her gaze to a group of Slytherins who were huddled together clearly attempting to plan some sort of mischievous event. But while the Slytherins were often enough to chase his thoughts away from the redhead, his heart couldn't help but flutter at the sight of her sparkling, emerald eyes. "Padfoot, It should be in my bottom drawer underneath those hideous dress robes my mother insists on me bringing every year."

Sirius shook his head, aggravated. "It wasn't. We looked there. And we looked under your bed where I always throw it and we searched the bookshelf where Peter always puts it and we even took the liberty of breaking into that box under your bed that you don't use for anything except your Playboy stash and those pictures of Lily and alas, not there."

James scowled, turning away from those green eyes long enough to glare at his friend. "What happened to respecting privacy?"

"Marauders don't know the meaning of privacy."

James sighed. "Right, I need to remember that."

"I'll buy you an impenetrable lock for Christmas," said Sirius impatiently. "Now, how-"

"That would be a step up from last year's gift of a chocolate frog with its head bitten off."

Sirius sniggered. "I got hungry from the bedroom to the living room."

"Hey, no complaints here. I'm just impressed you managed to give me at least half a chocolate frog."

"I'm very generous that way," he responded, waving a dismissive hand. "So, how about that Invisibility Cloak?"

"You do realize that Remus is the only Marauder who actually places it back in the right spot and if you did the same thing, you might actually be able to find it the next time you're looking for it," he quickly summed up with a smirk.

"Well, gee as much fun as it is to be insulted by my best friend, I'm not the one carrying around pictures of a girl that I will never win over. So as the Germans say: get over it."

A strange look passed over James' face. "Why do the Germans say that?"

Sirius hesitated. "Because they won World War II and felt it necessary that the world should just deal with it."

James groaned. "The Germans lost World War II, Sirius."

Sirius shrugged, waving his hand dismissively as if details didn't matter. "Alright, perhaps I was too busy flirting it up with Moira Jennings to listen in Muggle Studies last week but we're losing valuable time. Remus and I need to get to Hogsmeade and back so we can both take showers in time for the feast and you, m'friend, are slowing us down."

James rolled his eyes. "You and Peter used the cloak last night to sneak into the prefect's bathroom, did you not? So why you're asking me this question is beyond me."

"Peter and I put it exactly where we always put it so you must have moved—oh wait, I think it might be under Peter's bed," Sirius said sheepishly, jumping up from the grass immediately. "Thanks for your help as always."

James put his head in his hands muttering 'Unbelievable' under his breath. "Alcohol, Padfoot."

Sirius glanced down at his friend. "Huh?"

James chuckled. "Just remember to pick up a stash of alcohol for tonight. Rosmerta should already know we're coming to pick it up. Feel free to flash her that apparently charming smile of yours and maybe she'll throw in a case for free."

"I like how you stress the need for alcohol, Prongsie," Sirius joked. "But unless you somehow get on Lily-bean's good side by nine o'clock tonight, I'm thinking that by nine-thirty she'll find out and will certainly give you an earful about how we're corrupting the younger students and our time could be put to more useful activities instead of planning frivolous social gatherings where someone inevitably throws up on the carpet."

James couldn't help but laugh. Sirius unfortunately spoke of Lily's attitude towards their frivolous tendencies accurately. James couldn't help but sneak another peek towards the redhead before shrugging. "Eh, I can handle the little diva."

An eyebrow slowly rose. "Diva? That's what you're calling her now? What, workaholic Know-it-All was getting a little old?"

James rolled his eyes. "Oh, just go before you're late for the feast."

"How is stalking the workaholic Know-it-All going anyhow?"

James scowled. "What are you babbling about?"

"Oh, please. Like you actually expected any of us to believe you just wanted some fresh air? Oh, Prongsie-poo. We-"

"Never call me that again."

"-were there at lunch, too, if you recall. We all heard your love interest-"

"Not my love interest."

"-mention she was going to traipse out to the grounds for some light reading. You think it's a coincidence that a half hour later you were rushing out towards the grounds in some need for fake fresh air?"

"Could you please go analyze another best friend?"

"Pretty sure Peter has no clue what a female is and Moony hasn't had a love interest in two years."

"Not a love interest!"

"How many times are you going to say that before you actually convince yourself?" Sirius snorted.

James shot a glare towards his friend. "You might want to get going to Hogsmeade before I personally behead you."

"Aw, but that's my best feature!"


Sirius laughed and before James could pull out his wand to hex him for being annoying, he jumped off the ground and raced back towards the castle. James watched him run directly into Nikki Ventura at the door of the castle who, naturally, he stopped to flirt with for a good minute or so before hurrying again out of his sight.

The Marauders consisted of rowdy, intelligent, unmanageable, and very adventurous sixth-year, soon to be seventh-year, Gryffindor boys. There was something about these four boys that drew everyone in. Popularity wasn't something they strove for, just something they had somehow grasped back as innocent eleven-year-olds. Students not only thrived to be them; they thrived to know them. With Sirius Black's prize-winning smile, James Potter's flirtatious personality, Remus Lupin's levelheaded charm and Peter Pettigrew's innocence, the four of them practically ruled the school and enjoyed doing so.

No one could particularly pinpoint the moment when their names became known across the school but it didn't inevitably make a difference. Maybe it was because people still spoke about the fact that a Black had been sorted into Gryffindor. Maybe it was because the Potter surname was one well-known throughout the wizarding world, a family full of fame and fortune. Maybe it was because you were hard-pressed to find anyone as sweet and genuine as Remus Lupin. Maybe it was because you couldn't deny the fact that Peter was undeniably loyal. Or maybe it was because the camaraderie and ultimate kinship the four of them shared was something that caused a spark of jealousy in the hearts of everyone who crossed their paths. They walked into a room and you couldn't help but look up. Not because they were good-looking (which they were) or because they commanded the attention of everyone in the room (which they did), but because one couldn't help but smile at the close bond the four of them shared. You rarely saw one of them without the other and at those brief times that you did, something felt off and uncomfortable. Those four boys were meant to live their lives with each other. They kept a smile on their faces at all times, true optimism and joy emanating throughout every bone in their bodies no matter what life chose to throw their way. And unfortunately, life chose to throw a lot of heartbreak and tragedy their way. But they dealt with it with the help of each other. They were more than friends. They were brothers. And everyone in the school knew it.

James picked up his book again and glanced at the page in front of him, the same page that had been in front of him since he sauntered outside. He had been staring at Lily Evans for an hour before Sirius interrupted and he planned on staring at her until she left her peaceful rock beside the lake. There was a long list of reasons as to why James was so infatuated with Lily, but it was her intense concentration that fascinated him the most. A meteor could have plunged into the lake at that very moment and Lily could still be found with her nose buried in a book, probably swept away in some imaginative adventure.

He smiled at the way her brow knitted as she reached the end of a chapter. His heart fluttered when she brushed a strand of hair from her face. He had to catch his breath as she outstretched her legs, her skirt sliding elusively up her thigh. She had captured his heart and she didn't even notice it.

He only frowned when he watched her dog-ear her page and slowly stand up from the grass. He sighed and gathered his stuff slowly. He hated this part of the day.

Lily enjoyed sitting on the other side of the lake, away from the endless chatter and chaos. Instead of being a part of everyone's lifestyle, she was making it a point to just be herself. Ever since both her parents had died when she was eight, a secret she kept close to her heart, she had always felt the need to be fiercely independent. She knew all about having no one to depend on except herself and while she always enjoyed being around the company of her friends, she knew that inevitably she would go through life alone. Which in a strange sort of way gave her a bit of comfort. She didn't have to listen to anyone else decide where her future was going (as her roommate, Riley Gilmore, so often complained about) and she didn't have to worry about trying to incorporate her wizarding life with her Muggle life (as her roommate, Kay Richards, so often pondered). She could just live her life. And as scary as that life was and could be, it was just hers.

She could have sat on that lone grassy knoll for hours, but glancing at her watch she noticed that she was running late. She promised the girls she would meet them in their room at five o'clock to get ready and it was already five after.

She gathered her favorite book, Little Women, put it safely in her bag, and started to walk across the narrow bridge to join her fellow classmates once again in the real world.

She smiled and waved to the passers-by while walking across the grounds. Everybody knew who Lily was. Even though she was soft-spoken for the most part and didn't make it a habit of standing out, it was her intelligence and her modesty that everyone respected. When she opened the double doors to enter the school, she almost ran straight into Shane Redford, the Head Boy of the school and fellow Gryffindor.

"Oh, I'm sorry, Lily," he quickly apologized.

"No harm done, Shane," she said with a smile and a shrug. She had always liked Shane. They had dated briefly, but the chemistry wasn't there. While they had obviously enjoyed each other's company, it had ended just as quickly as it had begun. Shane had always felt that Lily was holding something back but he had never pushed it and Lily knew she wasn't ready to let someone into her life wholeheartedly. "So are you ready to graduate?" she asked, striking up a conversation as they both headed back to the Gryffindor common room.

Shane frowned. "I'm ready but I'm not sure I'll be able to handle it."

"How so?"

"This has been my home for seven years and I've loved every minute of it, though I could have done without the grueling final exams," he snickered. They both laughed and turned the corner. "But everything about this place screams home to me. When I was taking my final rounds last night I couldn't help but take in every little thing around me. Of course I had noticed it before—I have been doing rounds for three years now, but this time it was different. Instead of just passing it all by and taking it for granted, I was focusing on every detail of the school and engraving it in the back of my mind. Like I was ready to actually say good-bye to it all. And then I started thinking back over the years with the many memories I've created here and I just started wondering if I could actually go on without Hogwarts in my life anymore. I-I mean, I know that I'll be fine in the real world but Hogwarts is...well, it's like my safe haven. No matter what was going on in my life, I always had Hogwarts to depend on."

Lily grinned and nodded in understanding. "You know, I think in a weird, sort-of other-world way, those are signs pointing you towards your destined future."

Shane opened his mouth to obviously ask her to continue but quickly realized what she meant. "Hm, I guess you're right." Shane grinned and looked at Lily in amazement. "Merlin, you are going to be an awesome Head Girl, you know that?"

Lily was taken aback. "What? Who said I was Head Girl?"

Shane laughed and gave her a look as they approached the Fat Lady. "Oh, please. If you don't get the position of Head Girl next year, please write to me so I can owl Dumbledore and make sure he hasn't gone completely insane, 'kay?"

Lily laughed and muttered the password. "Sure thing, Shane." The Fat Lady portrait opened up and they both entered their common room.

"You know what? Scratch that," Shane quickly corrected. "Owl me no matter what. It'll be nice to hear from a Hogwarts student once I'm working in the real world."

Lily laughed again and nodded. "Definitely. It will be nice to hear from the real world if I'm stuck working with some half-crazed baboon next year. You got lucky with Matilda this year. She was a great partner," she said, mostly to make conversation. She smiled and continued, "Well, I was supposed to meet my friends fifteen minutes ago and they're most likely freaking out at the realization that they haven't packed a single thing for our departure tomorrow."

Shane chuckled. "Okay. I'll see you tonight, definitely," he replied. He paused and then gave her a hug, which caught Lily off-guard. "That's for if I don't end up saying good-bye today or tomorrow. It may get a little hectic."

Lily smiled. "Well, thank you. But I'll hopefully see you later. I wouldn't want our last good-bye to be whimsical."

"Me neither."

They walked their separate ways, but his earlier words struck a chord with her. While everyone else was convinced she was going to be Head Girl, and maybe a part of her knew it was inevitable, she didn't know if she was quite prepared for the job. Not because she couldn't handle the responsibilities, but because she was afraid what it might mean for her status at Hogwarts. She had always been so good at not standing out and justifiably fading into the background (and as a Muggleborn with the onset of a war, she often thought it might be best fading into said background in fear of the wrong set of people noticing her) but being Head Girl wouldn't exactly give her that privilege of not being recognized. She didn't know if she was quite ready for the limelight. She sighed, realizing that she was going to miss Shane as Hogwarts' Head Boy.

What Lily didn't realize was a pair of hazel eyes that had been watching them from the moment she and Shane had walked into the commons room. She same pair of hazel eyes that belonged to the guy who had a tug of the heart when he saw them hug, wishing that she was hugging him instead.

James couldn't tell you the exact moment he fell for Lily Evans and he couldn't tell you why, but he was certainly enamored. Maybe it was the first time he saw her smile or heard her laugh. Maybe it was the first time she yelled at him or said no to him, something he wasn't accustomed to hearing from the opposite sex. Maybe it was the first time her intelligence shown brightly in Potions or Charms or the first time she knew an answer to something he didn't (a surprising feat within itself). Or maybe it was just the first time he laid eyes on her.

There was only one problem. Lily Evans hated James Potter.

She had always seen James' popularity as a hindrance to him, not a positive attribute. She felt he abused it, using his charm as a sort of get-out-of-jail free card. And she wasn't afraid to stand up to him, telling him exactly what she thought. He often found himself on the other end of a heated discussion with her and more often than not, he ended up in the hospital because the tip of Lily's wand would accidentally singe his eyebrows. She would never try to hex him on purpose (she was far too good for that), but sometimes her wand had a mind of its own. She blamed her fiery temper on her red hair.

But honestly, he felt as if it had always been worth the hospital trip.

She had the most gorgeous green eyes that he had ever seen. They were piercing with a hint of mystery stowed behind them. He found himself staring into them more times than necessary. Her eyes were the secret to her past, present, and future. He could sense an occasional feeling of anger or sometimes even melancholy but for the most part they were just filled with a deep longing and emptiness. Like she was hiding a secret. And he wasn't the only one that noticed she was trying to hide something. But he was the only one that was determined to figure it out by the end of their seventh year.

There were many times he resisted the urge to lift his arm and run his hands through her silky hair. She had soft, curly auburn hair that cascaded freely down her back. And her laugh was contagious. Even a chuckle from her made James begging for more. Her eyes lit up whenever she laughed and it brought a smile to her face. And oh, that smile. A smile that caused tiny dimples to form and made her lips that much more desirable. That was the first thing that drew James to her on the first day of school on the train. She had the most mesmerizing smile. One of those smiles that could probably get anything she wanted. The kind of smile that turned the heads of every guy she passed. Of course, Lily hardly looked their way. She was too busy worrying about the future to even have time for a boyfriend and she made that clear to everyone.

Lily Evans was one of those girls that everyone knew and was acquainted with but never really befriended. She preferred spending her time with schoolwork and the few close friends she had. But she was an absolute sweetheart and hardly ever raised her voice to anyone, except for James since he often felt the need to mess with her. You rarely saw her emotions get the better of her and she never let the little things bother her. She would always stop and take the time to say hi to everyone and ask them how their day was; she was too polite not to.

She was a simple girl, not too extravagant but not too boring. She was ordinary I guess you could call it. She wasn't the adventurous, impulsive type but she didn't just sit back and let her life pass before her eyes. She wasn't materialistic and she certainly wasn't selfish. You'd think that a girl that James Potter wanted to be with had to be perfect in every way, but she was nothing of that sort. Any girl in Hogwarts could easily change their ways and attitudes to be like her. She was nothing special. But that nothing special girl was the girl he longed for. To him, everything about her was just right.

Unfortunately, to Lily, everything about James was just wrong. And James had a feeling he would never be able to change that.

Lily slowly strolled up the stairs to where the sixth-years Gryffindor dorm room was. Halfway to her dorm she could already hear the screams of her fellow dorm-mates and groaned.

"NO! I told you that those robes weren't mine!"

"Well Miranda said they weren't hers, they're way too dirty to be Kay's, and Lily already packed, so who else could they belong to?"

Lily cringed and opened the door to her room, expecting some sort of war to erupt in her face; turns out she wasn't far off. She ducked under the flying clothes and trudged over to her bed, placed her bag on the messy floor. As she tried talking over the loud yelling that was surrounding her with no success, she finally put her two fingers at the side of her mouth and whistled loudly.

Everyone in the room froze and turned to stare at Lily, who was now sitting cross-legged on her bed and petting her Siamese cat, Artemis.

"You've really got to teach me how to do that," Mikaela Richards, more commonly known as Kay, muttered. "And you're late. If you were here at five like you said you'd be, maybe those two wouldn't be going at it like two werewolves on a full moon."

"Hey!" Riley Gilmore retaliated, casting an irritated glance her friend's way.

"We wouldn't have to keep arguing if Miss Talks-Too-Much would stop thinking those robes belong to me," a snotty voice belonging to Justine Mille, a dorm-mate that Lily would rather not spend her time with, muttered.

"Of course they're yours! I've asked everybody else and you're the last one. By process of elimination-" Riley started arguing.

"GUYS!" Lily cried, rolling her eyes at the two. "Those very obviously belong to a guy. None of us is that tall."

They all looked at the robes, saw that Lily was indeed right in saying they were too long, and turned back to her. "Damn, you should have been here twenty minutes ago to settle that," Riley muttered, throwing the rest of her clothes into her trunk in a disorderly function. Riley was often the one behind a big blowout, whether it was with their dorm-mates or with Sirius Black or just with a passer-by on a really bad day. Her mouth often got her into trouble but she neglected to care. She was loud and proud and everyone knew it.

"Well, who has had a guy in here recently?" Kay asked curiously, the more refined one in the group. "It wasn't me."

Lily shook her head even though she was sure none of her dorm-mates would have bothered asking her. She had never brought a guy up to her room and was never really planning on it either.

Justine rolled her eyes. "Not since last month with Harrison," she bragged.

Riley snorted. "Oh, please. You and Harrison did not sleep together so don't pretend like either one of your robes were shed."

Justine's face became bright red and she clenched her fists tightly. "I can't believe I still have to put up with you for another bloody year."

"Put up with me?" Riley quickly retaliated. "I'm not the one who has posters of Sirius all around my bed. I swear if I have to look at one more picture of that conceited prat because of you, I'm kicking you out!"

"GUYS!" Lily cried, frustrated that she always had to play the part of the mediator. "Will you stop fighting? Jeez, you will have two months apart from each other so can't you please just give me the satisfaction of shutting up for one night?"

They both rolled their eyes at each other and didn't bother replying to Lily. They didn't have to. When Lily asked someone to do something, she more often than not got her way.

Justine left her stuff on her bed and walked over to the door mumbling something obscene under her breath. "If Miranda comes back, tell her I'm looking for her." And with that she walked out of the room.

Riley fell against her bed and said, "Hallelujah! Ding-dong, the wicked bitch is gone."

Lily merely stifled a yawn, not bothering to respond.

Riley and Lily had met on the Hogwarts Express in their first year and hit it off immediately. Lily remembered praying that Riley and she would be sorted into the same house. Mostly because Riley was the first girl that Lily met on the train and she didn't judge her for not knowing a single thing about the wizarding world. She taught Lily everything she would have to know on the first day of Hogwarts, such as all the secrets of the professors and which families to stay away from and Lily had become enthralled by her. They had more differences than similarities but somehow that's what made their friendship work. They complemented each other. While Riley was outgoing, Lily was reserved. While Riley was adventurous, Lily was predictable. While Riley craved the attention of the opposite sex, Lily preferred to fade into the background. While Riley was gorgeous in a more obvious way, Lily hid her beauty behind oversized clothes and no make-up and her bushy hair thrown into an easy ponytail. While guys fantasized about Riley Gilmore, Lily Evans remained a mere acquaintance to them. While Riley was best friends with James Potter and has been since the day he was born, Lily wanted nothing to do with the guy. But these differences are what made Lily and Riley so perfect together. Lily calmed Riley down a bit and Riley was able to get Lily to loosen up. Lily broke free from her quiet, afraid shell and Riley learned how to be less blunt and more polite. They had an incredible bond from the start which they originally had refused to share with anyone else.

By November, things were changing a little. Even though they had only lived with each other for two months, Riley and Lily knew that Justine and Miranda Hobbes were bad news. They had no respect for others and were, in short, spoiled brats who were used to getting what they wanted. And because Riley was very opinionated and stood up for what she thought was right, she stuck up for Kay one night when Justine was picking on her and instantly, Kay began part of Lily and Riley's special bond. And that's how the Three Musketeers were formed.

Kay had started out incessantly shy. She knew enough about the wizarding world from her mother but always felt more connected to the Muggle world because of her father. She didn't speak up in class, she kept to herself most of the time, and avoided any sort of drama. She was probably more of a plain Jane than anything, but one thing for sure, Kay was the girl that everyone trusted. You could tell her anything without worrying if someone else would find out later down the road. She was a secret keeper and always believed the best in people, all judgments aside.

Lily, Riley, and Kay certainly had their share of silly catfights, but nothing could ever tear them apart. They had made a pact in their fifth year that after graduation, they'd remain best friends no matter what and Lily planned on sticking to that, hoping that the others would as well.

"So Riley, who was the guy?" Kay smirked, after a few seconds of only the sound of packing.

Riley lifted her head and stared at her. "What?"

"Oh please. It wasn't Justine or me, and I doubt it was Lily," Kay teased, giving Lily an apologetic look. "And Miranda hasn't gotten any in a while—ever since you spread that rumor about her and genital herpes back in April, but-"

She was interrupted by the hysterical laughter of both Riley and Lily. Miranda had posted entries of Riley's journal all over the school and to get her back, Riley told all of the guys that Miranda had contracted genital herpes over Easter break. Needless to say, guys have not gone near Miranda since then and Riley has yet to write another entry since that incidence as well.

"But Lily's right," Kay continued. "Those robes probably belong to a guy. So spill: who was the guy and when did you have him up here where Lily and I didn't happen to notice?"

Riley lifted herself off her bed and turned her back to them, using packing as a way to stall for an answer. "I don't know. It wasn't me."

"Oh really?" Lily questioned, giving Kay a doubtful look. "Then why did it just take you about a minute to answer?"

Riley stopped folding the shirt in her hands and stared at the wall in front of her. She knew she was stuck and they had caught her in the act of lying. Lying was never Riley's strong suit. "Okay, okay, fine. But you can't overreact."

"Riley, if anyone is prone to overreacting, it's you," Kay reminded her. "Lily and I are the calm ones."

She made a face, knowing all too well that Kay was probably right. A sigh escaped her lips and she blurted out, "They're Zach's."

Silence and then - "Have you gone mad?" Kay replied.

"Please tell me you're referring to Zach Priestly and not Zach Hamilton," Lily groaned.

"Zach Priestly? The second year?" Riley said with a scowl. "That's disturbing on so many levels."

"Hey, that's better than you asshole of an ex-boyfriend," Kay argued. "Do you not remember that you broke up in January because he slept with some other girl! It took you months to get over that. Please don't tell me you're getting back together with him. That prat isn't going to change."

"You said you wouldn't overreact!" Riley whined, turning around to face their shocked and angered faces. She started curling a strand of hair around her finger like she always did when she was nervous. "And of course we're not getting back together. It was just a stupid fling. One last night together. We were just talking and one thing led to another and it just sorta happened. But don't worry. It was a one-time thing. A one-time thing that I instantly regretted the next morning, if you must know."

Kay sighed and threw her the robes that were now sitting on the messy floor. "We're just looking out for you."

Riley smiled at them. "I know. And I appreciate it. But I plan on never really speaking in whole sentences to him again."

"Good," Lily agreed. "Well, I'm going to take a shower. Once you two finish packing and getting ready for tonight, let's go-"

"It won't take us forever to get ready," Kay interrupted. "It's just the end of the year feast. We're just wearing school robes. Nothing too fancy."

Lily laughed and rolled her eyes as she changed out of her clothes into a towel in the corner of her room. "Yeah, but knowing the Marauders, and I believe I know enough, there will be a riotous party tonight in the common room which means you two will be going all out underneath your school robes."

"To be fair, I hardly doubt you know the Marauders as well as you think you do considering you're not willing to give them a chance," Riley started.

"I know they're having a party, Riley," she responded dryly.

"Yes, but it doesn't take an idiot to figure that one out. I'm pretty sure the giant lake squid is gearing up for the party as we speak," Riley snorted.

Lily rolled her eyes. "No way am I letting a giant lake squid enter into the Gryffindor house even if he comes decked out in a party hat holding a pinata."

"Oh, Lily," Kay sighed. "No one expects him to bring a pinata."

"Yeah, pinatas were so 1960s," Riley joked.

"Oh, sure, continue with the party jokes. Don't think I won't tie you up and keep you in your room all night to merely feel the floor shake from the music, listen to the sounds of happy chatter, and think about what could have been."

Kay and Riley exchanged a humored look. "And why would we want to turn out just like you?" Riley said. She said it with a grin but there certainly was truth behind it.

Lily wasn't offended by the comment. She preferred to remain a loner than bother with silly frivolity, knowing the night would probably end with McGonagall storming in wondering why the Gryffindors were so against following school rules. "Like you guys want me at the party anyway," she said dismissively. "I would just be complaining about a certain mischievous pair destined to destroy the common room with their drunken debauchery."

"You need to let loose," Riley said with a curt shrug. "Take your head out of Little Women, a book you've read nearly thirty times already, and try and enjoy yourself tonight. You might find out that these parties aren't nearly as bad as you think they are."

Lily pursed her lips. "I like Little Women. It's something I can depend on."

"And we're not dependable?" Kay asked candidly.

"Not when you're downing shots of alcohol, no."

"We don't down shots of alcohol," Riley corrected. "We mix alcohol with some fruity concoction and sip politely."

"This coming from the girl who finished off a half-bottle of tequila the last time she got whisked away to Hogsmeade with Potter," Lily snorted.

Riley couldn't help but laugh. "Okay, maybe 'politely' wasn't the word. But it's not like you have to drink tonight. Just come and have a little fun, hm?"

Lily sighed and found herself giving in. Truth was, she didn't want to spend her last night at Hogwarts by herself anyway. "Well, someone's got to keep the Marauders in line I guess."

"YES!" Riley whooped, high-fiving Kay enthusiastically. "Maybe we'll even get her to dance with a few boys who have been eyeing her up!"

Lily glared at her. "Don't push it. No one in Gryffindor is worth it."

"Okay, compromise: Just drink some firewhisky."

"No alcohol is touching my lips."

"A little snog session on the dance floor?"


"Skinny-dipping in the lake?"


"Seven minutes in heaven in the broom closet?"


"Strip poker?"

Lily put her hands on her hips stubbornly "Oh yeah, because I'm not willing to make out with any boys or go skinny-dipping in the lake, but sure, I'll go on display naked for all to see," Lily said sarcastically as she stared at her friends incredulously.

Riley turned to Kay, plunging on to her bed giddily. "See? I told you we'd break her eventually."

Lily threw her clothes in her dirty laundry bag and gave them both amused looks. "Guys, when I agreed to go to the party, I simply meant I'd enjoy the music, maybe sway a bit on the dance floor with you guys, I'd try to keep my bitch sessions to a minimum with the party-throwers, and I'd go to bed later than one o'clock."

"Well, step down Sirius Black. We have a new rebel in the house!" Kay announced, erupting into a giggling fit along with Riley.

Riley shuddered. "Ugh, don't mention his name in my presence," she growled. She turned back towards Lily. "And I'm going to force down a few drinks on you tonight if it's the last thing I do," she teased, throwing a pillow in Lily's direction.

Lily ducked and watched as it sailed toward the window and bounced on to her bed. "If you attempt to make me force down a few drinks then yeah, it will be the last thing you do."

"Oh come on, Lily," Riley urged. "It's a rule of life."

"Oh it is, is it?"

"Yeah! Make friends, get boyfriend, dump him and get new boyfriend, go to a good school, GET DRUNK, have sex, get a job, mate for life, retire, and die! It says so right there in the rules of life! Are you telling me you're going to defy the rules of life?"

"I think those are just the rules of Riley Gilmore," Lily replied sarcastically, smacking Riley with her pillow.

"And am I not your life?" Riley recapped, trying to escape from Lily's pillow war.

"Not right now," Lily laughed.

"And those most definitely aren't the rules of Riley Gilmore," Kay argued. "Because the last time I checked you had sex way before you ever got a boyfriend," Kay snickered, rolling her eyes and returning to her trunk. She couldn't help but wonder how she fit everything into that trunk back in September.

"HEY!" Riley protested.

Lily chuckled. "I think I'm going to reiterate a very good point of Justine: I don't know how I'm going to put up with you two for another whole year."

Kay and Riley exchanged all-knowing glances and smiled. "We're going to be friends forever, Lily," Riley pointed out with a shrug. "You're just going to have to face it."

"Forever, hm? That seems like a long time. Why don't we just focus on getting through tonight?" Lily suggested, a smile tugging at the ends of her mouth.

"That's a good plan seeing as you're probably going to kill me after you see what we picked out for you to wear tonight," Riley grinned, quickly getting away from Lily's grasp before she could strangle her.

"We picked out?" Kay questioned. "Hm, I remember you picking out an outfit and me saying that Lily may have you beheaded for it so I'm not sure where that 'we' came in."

"What happened to sticking together?" Riley pouted.

"I believe I told you that I was in no way going to get involved," Kay pointed out with a shrug.

Riley made a face at her. "Okay, so I picked it out but you can't let down all those guys you will be stripping for at the poker game now can you?" Riley smirked, enjoying the frustrated look on Lily's face as she slowly headed Riley's way with an evil glint in her eyes.

"Well, it seems to be that it won't matter what you wear if you're playing strip poker just as long as you shave you-know-where," Kay said with a very amused smile on her face as she leaned against the bathroom doorframe, standing out of the way for the killing match that was about to go down in her dorm.

Lily gave her a look. "Oh yeah, because I'm the type of girl who takes out time in the bathroom to shave my privates."

Riley shrugged, her usual mischievous smile spreading across her face. "It's always the quiet girls."

Lily threw another pillow her way. "It's not always the quiet girls! It's the slutty girls who go around this school promoting sex in their skimpy mini-skirts and tube tops!"

"Why do you look at me when you say that?" Riley pouted.

"Hm, can't think of a reason," Kay said sarcastically, laughing as Riley smacked her with one of her leather boots. "C'mon, Lily, you have to be willing to try new things!"

Lily glanced at her curiously. "Was that directed at me for the purpose of strip poker or shaving?"

"Both!" Kay and Riley both answered in unison, bursting into hysterical giggles.

"And the purpose that you shouldn't fight the outfit Riley chose for you tonight," Kay teased.

Lily took time to glare at Kay before glancing at the outfit hanging over the bathroom door that Riley was pointing at. Her mouth dropped and she turned to give Riley her infamous have-you-gone-insane look. "No way am I wearing that! That dress won't cover my ass, and my boobs will be popping out of it!"

"Yes, I checked those things off my mental list while picking an outfit for you too."

"You're dead, Riley Gilmore," Lily snarled, chasing her around the room until Riley was smart enough to run out the door and down into the commons room, wheezing the entire way.

Lily smirked. "Like I don't know where she lives."

Kay laughed as Lily sauntered into the bathroom and closed the door behind her, flinging the clothes onto the floor haphazardly.

Twenty minutes to seven, Lily and Riley were in the common room waiting for Kay so they could walk down to the Great Hall together for the feast. Kay was usually the last one to shower, always choosing to wind her hair into a tight braid quickly after climbing out of the shower and therefore, needed very little time to get ready.

"I don't know. Third year was my weird year. The workload was unbearable, we were in the middle of our prime Hogwarts years, no one seemed to notice us, Hogsmeade just seemed too good to be true, I still thought boys had cooties, and life seemed to be getting more difficult," Riley was explaining to Lily.

Lily laughed as she blew against her just-painted fingernails. "You did not think boys still had cooties! You were caught kissing Fabian Prewett in the Quidditch locker room that March."

Riley was about to protest but thinking back on it, she laughed. "Oh right. Then maybe it was second year that was my weird year." She paused and shrugged. "Then again, we didn't even get to go to Hogsmeade that year."

Lily rolled her eyes. "Because that's what we were most worried about then."

Riley shrugged. "It was! That's where the best dates happen Lily. God, you really have to focus."

Lily laughed. "I thought you said boys had cooties that year."

"Man, you're thinking way too much into this."

"No, I'm thinking logically," Lily said, grinning. "That's what I do best considering my friends are you and Kay."

Riley scrunched up her nose. "Are you saying I'm illogical?"

"I'm saying that you're more impulsive than logical."

"And I'm saying that's a good thing. Sometimes you just need a little spontaneity in your life. Letting loose feels good on occasion."

Lily knew Riley was probably referring to her being uptight most of the time, but she simply shrugged. "Well, I have to say that this year was by far my best," she said, returning to their prior conversation in hopes of changing the subject.

Riley rolled her eyes and closed the book that was in her hands. "You say that at the end of every year."

"And you say that at the end of every year!" Lily argued. "And besides, this time I really mean it."

"And you say that every year," Riley snickered, ducking from the flying pillow headed her way.

Lily laughed, stifling a yawn. "Well you have to admit turning seventeen is a huge plus," Lily said slowly and thoughtfully, gesturing for Riley to hand her back the pillow. "We are legal in the wizarding world now."

Riley grinned. "Oh, don't worry. I plan on taking that out on my brothers every chance I can this summer. Caleb, Rafe, and Lance certainly did when they turned seventeen."

Lily rolled her eyes, a twinge of jealousy sparking in her heart. Riley adored her older brothers and it made Lily sad that she hadn't spoken or even heard from her sister in nearly six years. "Well, have fun with that, but when I hear about you being blown up by one of them because one of your pranks backfired, don't think I'm planning on waiting to break in a new best friend."

Riley threw back the pillow at her friend. Lily was too slow in ducking and got smacked in the face with it, but before she could retaliate, loud voices echoed from the midst of the boys' dormitory stairs. And when loud voices echoed from the boys stairwell, that could only mean one thing: the Marauders.

Sirius and Remus soon emerged, both looking anxious for the feast. "Hey Lily. Hey Riley," Remus greeted.

Sirius grinned at the site of Riley and Lily and took the liberty of jumping over the back of the couch and sitting right in the middle of them. "Hello, ladies." He winked at them, throwing his arms around their shoulders.

Riley rolled her eyes and pushed Sirius' arms off of her. "Don't you have some other girls to torture?"

"Eh, I've had my fun with them. Now it's just one-on-one personal time with my two favorite Gryffindor ladies," he said with his usual smarmy grin. "Oh, I guess that would make it one-on-two."

"Congratulations, you learned to count," Riley drawled dryly. "Didn't know you had it in you."

"Just learned the alphabet, too," Sirius responded, a smirk spreading across his face. He often found it was better to play along than to fight back when it came to Riley Gilmore. "Who knew there were 26 letters in the English alphabet?"

"Everybody above the age of five?"

"Oops, guess I'm a slow learner."

Remus and Lily couldn't help but exchange an amused glance. While the witty banter between the two often got tiresome, it provided good entertainment now and again. It was when the banter turned into long heated arguments that the entertainment factor was quickly eliminated.

"This coming from the guy who got a perfect score on McGonagall's killer mid-year exam," Remus chimed in, rolling his eyes.

Lily scowled. "Must you remind me. I'm still figuring out how he managed that one."

"I cheat," he joked, winking playfully. While Sirius did some questionable things over the years, they knew he would never resort to cheating. Fact of the matter is, he didn't need to cheat. He was one of the most intelligent guys in the entire school, not that he liked to admit it.

"On girls maybe," Riley scoffed, her eyes narrowing with an intense hatred.

There was a flicker of surprise in Sirius' eyes that only Riley caught before skepticism replaced it. "Jealous, are we?" he said, once again his usual cheeky grin filling his expression.

Riley shuddered. "Don't make me hurl, Black. That's what eating too much dessert at the end-of-the-year feast is for."

"Well, why don't you start thinking of me as dessert, sweetheart?"

Riley's immediate reflex was to gag. She stood up from the couch and glared at Remus. "Haven't you learned to tame him by now?"

Remus laughed and shook his already long and shaggy blonde hair out of his face. "Tame Sirius Black? If you can find a way to do so, by all means, I'm all ears."

"I'll start asking local zookeepers."

Sirius' look went blank. "What the hell is a zookeeper?"

Three groans followed. "Aren't you ever going to pay attention in Muggle Studies?" Lily questioned.

Sirius shook his head. "No. I'm not even sure why I'm in that class anymore."

"Nap time?" Remus snickered.

"Hm, yes, that's true. History of Magic isn't long enough."

"Here's a novel idea," Lily considered, rolling her eyes. "Maybe you could actually stay awake in class for once."

Another blank expression stared up at her. "I don't understand."

Lily rolled her eyes, but was amused nonetheless. How the guy who chose to spend his class time napping beat her on the Transfiguration mid-year exam was beyond her.

"Shocker, Sirius Black doesn't understand something," Riley chimed in, rolling her eyes.

"Shocker, Riley Gilmore retorts with a less-than-witty comment."

"Shocker, Sirius Black feels the need to retaliate."

"Shocker, Riley Gilmore is a bit-"

"Shocker, I'm still listening to this conversation!" Remus whined, shaking his head in disbelief.

Riley could only roll her eyes, shooting a final glare Sirius' way. "I'm going to go see if Kay's ready, Lily. Please get rid of the untameable confused one by the time I get back."

Lily laughed and gave Sirius an apologetic look, nodding at Riley. "I'll do my best but I doubt he'd understand my subtle hints to leave."

"Then don't make them so subtle," Riley scoffed as she turned her back to head upstairs to her room.

No one knew why Sirius and Riley started hating each other. They were actually best friends for four and a half years and suddenly January of the previous year hit, and it was an all-out war between them. Everything out of each other's mouths was some sort of cruel wise-crack and no one could get an explanation out of them.

"You know, besides the Slytherins, she's the one person I can't seem to crack," Sirius stated matter-of-factly. "I'm beginning to think she doesn't appreciate me."

Remus and Lily burst into laughter, as Remus slid on to the couch, taking over the seat Riley was previous occupying. "You're just realizing this?" Lily snickered.

"And what gave it away?" Remus asked. "The petty arguments you share, your constant digs at each other, the glares you send each other's way, the holier than thou attitude you two seem to acquire around each other?"

"Hm, can't say for sure," he responded with a slight smile, though there was tension in his eyes. He changed the subject, not wanting to avoid the question that was bound to come next: why do you two hate each other? "So are you excited for the party tonight, Lily-bean?"

Lily gave him a doubtful look. "You're talking to the only prefect who is willing to stand up to you and Potter when it comes to excessive noise and illegal beverages."

Sirius feigned confusion. "Excessive noise? Illegal beverages? What kind of party do you think this will be?"

"The same kind of party you threw when you won the Quidditch Cup. The same kind of party you threw during Easter Break. The same kind of party you threw for Potter's birthday. The same kind of party you threw for Valentine's Day. The same kind-"

"Hm, I think she's caught on to us, Remus," Sirius murmured.

"Oh, and what possibly gave it away?" he drawled dryly.

He merely shrugged, turning his scrutinizing stare back on the female. "Lily-bean, I think you should take it on yourself tonight to actually let loose and live a little. Get a little drunk here, make out with a few boys there—I will be the cute one in the blue shirt if you need help with that—and maybe even pass out on the couch down here. I think it could do you some good."

Lily shot him a less-than-amused look. "Oh, yes, it would do me so much good turning into those half-crazed, drunk idiots by drinking some cocktails, swooning over superficial guys just because I can, and maybe I'll even dance on a few tables," she replied sarcastically, giving him her infamous you've-got-to-be-kidding-me look. "But don't you worry because I will be keeping my eye on you the whole night, Sirius."

"Right on! Just come find me when you want to have a little fun," Sirius kidded, lifting his feet and draping them over Lily's lap. "And I will certainly be looking for the redhead on all of the tables."

Remus rolled his eyes. "I guess I will just have to be the mature prefect for tonight then."

Both Sirius and Lily laughed. While Lily couldn't stand being around James, she didn't mind the company of Sirius Black and Remus Lupin. They could at least make her laugh. She used to think Sirius Black and James Potter were the same person (and in a way, they certainly were), but at the end of the previous year, something had happened to the Marauders that tore Sirius apart from his friends. Lily found him late one night in the common room looking rather lonely and defeated. Against her better judgment, she strolled over to him and struck up a conversation. She quickly learned he wasn't so bad. At least he wasn't asking her out every chance he got just to get a rise out of her. "Merlin, you guys are too much for me," said Lily. "I think I gotta stop hanging around you guys."

"Damnit, my sexiness is always driving away the ladies," Sirius mumbled.

"Yeah, that, and the fact you're a self-centered, seductive womanizer who dates a girl one minute and then the next ditches her, often forgetting that even clueless twits have feelings, too," Lily pointed out.

Sirius shrugged. "Okay, yes, that too."

It didn't come as a shock to Lily that Sirius wasn't offended by her comment. In truth, Sirius rarely got offended. He was good at shrugging things off and just letting things happen as they happen. He didn't get embarrassed easily and it seemed that the only person that could really ruffle his feathers was noneother than a raven-haired beauty names Riley Gilmore.

Lily was about to comment when she saw a shadow loom overhead. She glanced behind her to meet James' gaze and frowned instinctively A pang of jealousy seered through him as he saw his two best friends chatting up the one girl he wished would just give him the time of day. "Hey, guys," he greeted. He then turned to Lily and smiled. "Evans."

She merely offered him a shrug. Even though since the beginning of the year, James' ego had clearly deflated a bit and he had learned not to be so arrogant, she never was sure what his intentions with her were. He had stopped constantly finding ways to harass her so she really couldn't ask for anything more.

"Well, I'm going to go check on Riley and Kay," Lily said, pushing Sirius' legs off of her ("Oof! Hey, that was getting rather comfortable!"). "I'll see you guys later."

"Sure thing, Lily-bean," Sirius grinned. "And remember, I'll be watching tabletops tonight." He winked at her and watched her walk up the stairs to the girls' dormitory, not before she flipped him off with a laugh.

"Tabletops?" James questioned. "Do I want to know?"

"Not at all," Sirius replied.

"What's up, Jamesie?" Remus asked. "How was the shower with all the cold water because Padfoot here doesn't know how to limit his showers to less than twenty minutes?" Sirius shoved Remus, both of them laughing.

James shrugged. "Like any other shower I guess."

"Ahh, so daydreaming about Lily I suppose?" Sirius snickered.

"Well I certainly wasn't the one hanging my feet on her," James muttered, giving Sirius an envious look.

Sirius cringed. "Oh yeah. Sorry about that."

James shrugged again, leaning on the armrest beside Remus. "It's not my fault she likes you better than me."

Remus snorted. "Considering you were the one who poured chocolate sauce down her back in first year and not Sirius, I think it could be considered your fault."

James glared at him.

"Er...never mind," Remus muttered.

"Hey, the girl didn't feel the need to glare at you just for saying hi, so at least that's something," Sirius argued hastily.

James didn't bother responding. Not glaring at him may have been a step up but it wasn't exactly the cherry on top of the cake. He still had a long way to go if he was even going to remotely earn the girls' respect. "Don't try and make me feel better, Padfoot," James finally retaliated, shaking his head. "The girl still thinks I'm scum."

His two friends unfortunately had no arguments for that, so Sirius chose to hop off the couch with a grin. "C'mon, let's go set up our last prank for tomorrow morning. That'll get your mind off her."

Don't be so sure, James thought to himself as he followed his friends out of the common room. At the last possible second, he instinctively glanced back behind him on the slight off-chance that the fiery redhead might be walking down the stairs at that point.

Alas, no such luck.

A/N: So what did you think? Please review! This is only the first chapter-many more are forthcoming!