Disclaimer: I own nothing.

Ch. 3

The rest of the train ride passed quickly. Before James and his posse knew it, the sun had set, and their view outside was obscured by the darkness of night. Taking the darkness as a sign that they would soon be arriving at Hogwarts, the four boys packed away the chess game they had been playing, and quickly changed into their uniforms and robes.

Within five minutes, the red steam engine had pulled into Hogsmeade Station and slowed to a halt. Loud chatter filled the train as students instantly gathered up their belongings, pushed towards the exit, and poured out onto the platform. Wanting to be among the first to reach the Great Hall for the Start-of-Term Feast, James and his posse hurried out of their compartment and began to push their way through the throngs of people crowding the hallway, knocking down a few unsuspecting first and second years in the process. They soon reached the platform, and were immediately greeted by the loud, booming voice of the Hogwarts' Gamekeeper Hagrid, who would be leading the first year students to the castle via boats across the Black Lake. For the rest of the students, a long string of carriages awaited to transport them to the castle.

OooOooO

While James and his posse hurried to the first carriage in line and hopped inside, Lily took her time and slowly made her way off the train. Instantly upon stepping foot on the platform, she was greeted a high-pitched voice calling her name.

"LILY!!"

Lily looked around and soon spotted her best friend Ashley Aldridge a few feet down the platform. Standing beside Ashley and waving excitedly were the two girls' other friends, Katie Conway and Laura Reynolds.

"Oh my gosh, hi guys!" Lily squealed, running up to her friends and wrapping her arms around each of them in turn, "How were your holidays?"

"They were okay," Ashley answered, "I had fun, but I missed this place and you guys so much."

Lily smiled. "I missed you, too," she said, "I'm so glad to be back here. Ever since I started at Hogwarts, the summer holidays are so dull. I don't see you all for two months, and I don't even have magic to keep me occupied. Living in the Muggle world is torture for a witch of age."

While Ashley and Katie laughed, Laura asked, "So I take it Petunia's still not talking to you?"

"Are you kidding?" Lily said, with a tone suggesting that Laura was crazy for even thinking such a thing, "Tuney has barely said five words to me in six years. I wish she'd just get over herself and realize it's not my fault I'm a witch and she's not."

The girls all laughed again.

While continuing to talk, Lily and her friends made their way down the platform and headed toward the shrinking line of carriages. They finally reached one that was not occupied, so they hopped in and took a seat. All four of them then fell silent for a few moments, attempting to savor the memory of their last carriage ride up to Hogwarts Castle. After a couple minutes, however, Katie broke the silence.

"Do you guys ever wonder what's pulling these carriages?" she asked, staring in the direction in which they were moving with a look of mixed wonder and confusion on her face.

As soon as the question popped out of Katie's mouth, Ashley and Laura giggled. They knew it was just a matter of time before it was asked.

"Katie," said Lily, who was also giggling, though less noticeably, "We go through this every single year. Nobody knows how these carriages are moving. But I suspect it's just some sort of enchantment."

Katie began to blush. "I was just asking," she replied softly.

Sensing Katie's embarrassment, the other three girls stopped laughing and fell silent once more.

OooOooO

Several feet up ahead, the first carriages began arriving in front of the main doors of the castle. Still determined to be the first to the feast, James and his posse did not even wait for their carriage to stop before pushing open the door, jumping out, and bounding up the castle steps. Upon reaching the top, they sprinted through the entrance hall and into the Great Hall, where they grabbed a seat at the Gryffindor table.

Behind James and his friends, the rest of the Hogwarts students exited their carriages and proceeded into the Great Hall. As the tables slowly filled up, James fixed his eyes on the doorway and waited for Lily to enter.

"Where do you suppose she is?" James asked eagerly, not shifting his gaze for a second.

"Whoa, Prongs, calm down," Sirius said, sensing the nervous tone in James' voice, "Give the girl a few minutes before you send out a search party for her."

Remus, who had been quiet up until this point, began to laugh. James, however, did not think the situation was so funny, so he turned away from the doorway and shot Remus an evil glare. Remus turned bright red and fell silent immediately.

"Oh, Prongs, look who it is!" Sirius suddenly exclaimed. It was now he who was looking at the doorway.

"Is it her?!?" James asked excitedly, looking at Sirius and then redirecting his gaze to the doors.

"Nope, even better. It's Snivellus," Sirius said, referring to their fellow seventh year Severus Snape. Sirius pointed, and he and James watched as Snape walked through the Great Hall and headed toward the Slytherin table.

"Blimey, what did he do this summer?" James asked as Snape sat down, "His hair looks greasier than ever."

"Who knows," Sirius said, "But I reckon we ought to give him a shower and help him wash some of that out!"

James and Sirius laughed. They were cut off quickly, though, as suddenly an angry female voice spoke up behind them. Not anticipating this, James and Sirius jumped. Looking for the source of the voice, the two of them turned around and found Lily standing there with her three best friends beside her.

"Why do the two of you always have to pick on poor Severus?" Lily asked, "What did he ever do to you?"

"I think his existence is reason enough," Sirius said, laughing. He stopped abruptly, however, when he realized that James was not laughing with him. Instead, he was speaking.

"We're sorry, Lily," James apologized, "We didn't mean anything by it."

"Oh please," Lily said, "You're not sorry. I heard you laughing at Black's lame joke. Do you think I'm stupid or something?"

"Of course not!" James exclaimed, "I happen to think you're the smartest girl in this school."

"Oh, how kind of you," Lily said sarcastically, clearly not buying James' attempt at flattery. She shot him a glare to make sure he understood this.

"Come on Lils," came Ashley's voice suddenly. "Let's find a seat. Just forget about them."

Hearing Ashley speaking, Lily turned away from James and looked back at her friends.

"Alright," she said, "Let's go."

Unfortunately for Lily, the Gryffindor table had filled up fast, so, because there were few open seats left, she could not get as far away from James and his posse as she had hoped. From where she and her friends were sitting, she could still hear every word the Marauders spoke. The Marauders were unaware of this, however, and they began to continue insulting Severus Snape the moment the Sorting of the first-years was completed and Professor Dumbledore had finished his start-of-term speech.

"The git is obviously into the Dark Arts," James said between bites of his steak-and-kidney pie, "I wouldn't be surprised if he joined up with You-Know-Who."

"Probably," Sirius replied, "He has no friends, so he probably thinks it's the only way anyone will ever appreciate him."

James laughed. Lily, on the other hand, groaned.

"What's wrong, Lily?" Katie asked, looking up from her plate and staring across the table at her friend.

"They're what's wrong," Lily said, pointing down the table in the Marauders' direction.

"If they bother you so much, then stop listening to them," Laura said.

"Yeah, tell us more about your summer," Ashley requested, "Surely it couldn't have been all bad."

"I guess it wasn't," Lily said, "Mum took me shopping in London quite a bit. It's not the same as Diagon Alley, but it's still okay."

"Well, just think about it," Katie said, "At the end of this year, you can move out of your parents' house and live in the Wizarding world permanently."

Lily laughed. "That's true," she said.

Before long, Lily and her friends were so deep in conversation that thoughts of the Marauders finally escaped her mind. The four girls talked all the way through the rest of the dinner, stopping only to watch their table clear of the dinner scraps and then fill again with masses of mouth-watering desserts.

"Did I tell you all about Petunia's new boyfriend?" Lily asked as she took a bite of treacle tart.

Ashley, Katie, and Laura dropped their forks. "No!" they all exclaimed.

"I can't believe you're just mentioning this now!" Ashley said, "I'd think this would be bigger news than shopping in London!"

Lily laughed. "I guess I just forgot. The guy's awful after all. I tend to not want to think about him too much."

The other girls laughed.

Dinner soon ended, and after everyone had their fill of dessert, the tables cleared once more. Professor Dumbledore made another short speech, and then sent the students off to their dormitories. Lily and her friends got up from the table, followed the rest of the Gryffindors out of the Great Hall, and made their way up to Gryffindor Tower. Unbeknownst to Lily, James was watching her the whole way.

"Blimey, she's so beautiful," James said to his friends as he continued to stare her way.

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A/N: Wow, so I started this story a really long time ago. I never thought I'd write anymore, but after Deathly Hallows came out, I was in a fanfic writing mood. So here is chapter 3. Read and review please!!

Claire