"Boring? We nearly took ol' Snivelly's head off last time!"
At that, both boys grinned, remembering.
"Still, we've been using fireworks for years," James pointed out. Sirius huffed and propped his elbows on the table between the two boys.
"But Prongs, I'm bored," Sirius said. "The full moon isn't for another week."
"Speak louder," Remus, another of the Marauders, muttered. "I don't think those first-years know about my 'furry little problem' yet."
Sirius shrugged. "Sorry, mate." Over the years, he'd gotten very lax about his friend's secret werewolfism.
"We could do something to the ceiling," James offered, looking up at the enchanted ceiling. It showed what the weather was like outside. At the moment, it was blindingly sunny. James squinted, then tensed as something covered his eyes, blinding him. He would've drawn his wand defensively, but he could hear Sirius snickering across the table. Sirius was like James' brother - if anything was really going to hurt him, Sirius would be at his side in a heartbeat.
"Jamesie!" he heard, and groaned. It was yet another lovesick girl. "Guess who?" the girl simpered.
James did not guess who. There was only one 'who' he wanted to guess, and Lily Evans refused to have anything to do with him. He knew - he'd asked her every day for the past four years.
Instead, James reached up and removed the hands from his eyes. He swiveled his torso to face the girl as he held her hands a good foot and a half from his chest. His free hand reached up to rub his eyes tiredly. "Look," he started to say, "I really -"
He broke off, stammering, as his hazel eyes met the sparkling emerald eyes of his beloved Lily. Dimly he heard Sirius howl with laughter, but he couldn't focus - not that he'd want to, as Lily hopped into his lap. He dazedly breathed in, reveling in the butterscotch smell of her brilliant red hair. "Evans, what's going on?"
"What do you mean, Jamesie?" Lily cooed. "I just love you is all."
All? James thought, confounded. All? He'd been waiting for this moment for four years, and now that it'd finally happened, it seemed...off, somehow. James glanced at Sirius, who now had tears of mirth streaming down his cheeks and pumpkin juice matting his hair from when it'd sprayed out of his mouth.
"Evans, are you sure you're alright?" James asked tentatively. "You don't sound like yourself."
"I feel wonderful!" Lily gushed, beaming up at James. She reached up to finger his jet black hair, mussing it even more than normal. "How could I not, when I'm in love with the strongest, kindest, most handsome man in the world?"
"Wait, wait," Sirius choked, "are we talking about the same James Potter?" In an aside, he muttered to James, "I don't know what's going on, mate, but..." He waggled his eyebrows.
At this Remus spoke up. His eyes glinted angrily. "I think James knows perfectly well what's going on," he said coldly.
James shook his head. "Honestly, Moony, I'm baffled."
Remus stood suddenly and gestured for James to follow. James stood, and noticed that the rest of the people in the Great Hall had stopped eating breakfast and were staring at the spectacle before them. It was a known fact that Lily forcibly rejected James' numerous advances.
"Hurry back!" Lily insisted obliviously as James transferred her from his lap to the bench. James hurried after Remus, glancing over his shoulder repeatedly until he tripped over someone's foot. Remus didn't slow down until they'd reached a fairly private corner.
"You fed her a love potion!" Remus hissed. "That's low, Prongs."
James' mouth dropped. "A - a love potion? No! I would never! How could you even think that, Moony? I prank people, yeah, but...no!"
Remus breathed out heavily. "Well, someone did. There's no other explanation."
"Sorry, but you know it's true. There's no way she'd change her mind that quick."
James acknowledged this ruefully. "So...who did?"
The two looked at each other, then at the table, where Lily was gushing - presumably about James - to Sirius, who didn't even try to conceal his laughter.
"You don't think -"
"There's no way -"
"I mean, if -'
"SIRIUS!" James bellowed. The Great Hall fell silent for the second time that morning as James stalked up to his best friend.
"Whatever it is, mate, I didn't do it!" Sirius insisted automatically. His eyes darted to Lily as James pointed silently at her. He looked between the two of them, eyes widening. "Oh, Merlin!" he breathed, comprehension dawning. "Prongs, I swear, I would never do that to her!"
"Then who did?" James asked coldly.
"Blimey, mate, I have no idea," Sirius said. "But while we try to think about it...shouldn't we, you know, fix her?"
James jumped. "Of course!" he yelped. "Um, Evans, we're going to go to Professor Slughorn now, alright?"
"Why? I want to stay with you."
"I, um, know, sweetheart, but..." he trailed off uncertainly.
"But Prongs here has a gift for you!" Sirius broke in. James sent him a grateful glance. "Exactly!" he said as he took her elbow and started to lead her to the Potions master. "I left the gift in his keeping. We'll go grab it."
As James led Lily across the Great Hall, he felt eyes burning into his back. He turned his head to meet the outraged eyes of Lily's best friend, Mary. He sent her a quick apologetic glance as Lily twined her arms around his waist. He gestured for her to join them.
"Lily!" Mary called, either ignoring or not noticing the gesture. "Lily, what are you doing?"
"We'll be right back," Lily called back. "Jamesie is so sweet! He got me a present!"
James winced as Mary's face turned ghost white. He pulled Lily faster.
Two flights of stairs - and numerous failed attempts on Lily's part to attack James' lips with her own - later, the two stood outside Slughorn's door. James knocked loudly, hoping Slughorn came quickly. It wasn't that he didn't want to kiss Lily - far from it - but he refused to take advantage of her.
"Professor!" he exclaimed relieved, as the door opened. Professor Slughorn looked at them, confused.
"What's the trouble, Potter?" he asked. "Oh! Miss Evans! I didn't...see you there..." Slughorn trailed off as he noticed the abnormal position Lily was in. He frowned as she traced her fingers over James' chest.
"Sir, I think she's swallowed a love potion. And no, I did not feed it to her," James whispered in the professor's ear.
"Ah, I see, I see," Slughorn said. "Well, I certainly have what I need to whip up a quick antidote! You two can wait on the chairs..." Slughorn hurried over to a cauldron and started selecting ingredients as James led Lily over to the chairs. She bypassed her own and sat on James' lap, giggling.
"Here you are, Miss Evans," Slughorn said, beaming, as he handed her the glass. "Drink up, dear!"
"What a strange present!" Lily exclaimed as she took the glass. After she drank, a strange expression came over her face. She bolted out of James' lap as though it burned her. Slughorn chortled, looking on. Lily's expression changed from confused to shocked and ended on angry. She drew her wand and glared at James. "What did you do?" she shrieked.
James raised his hands placatingly. "Evans, I swear, I did not drug you. I would never do that to you. Ever!"
"Why don't I believe you?" she spat.
"If I had, why wouldn't I have taken advantage of you? Why would I have taken you to Professor Slughorn's instead?"
Lily visibly wavered. "Someone did!"
"I know. And I promise you, whoever did this will regret it."
Lily rubbed her eyes. "Thank you, Professor," she said. "And thanks, Potter. Do you have any ideas?" she continued.
"Not really. All I know for sure is it wasn't me, the other Marauders, or Mary."
Lily nodded. "And I can't imagine it was...well, any Gryffindor, really."
James glanced at Slughorn, who was hovering uncomfortably. "I'm sorry, sir. We'd better get back to breakfast. Thank you again."
"Quite alright! Quite alright!" Slughorn said. "Glad to be of service."
James held the door open for Lily, who seemed lost in thought. "Bet it was a Slytherin," he said.
Lily nodded slowly. "I guess. I can't think why a Ravenclaw or Hufflepuff would."
James hesitated. "Evans...you don't think it could've been...you know...Snape?"
"Sev?" she yelped. "No! He's - he was - my friend!"
"Evans, he...he called you...last year -"
"I know, I know! Believe me, I know," she groaned. "But that doesn't mean...I mean, he couldn't have...Sev -"
"Snape never liked me," James reminded her. "What if he just wanted to make you hate me even more?"
Lily was silent.
"It makes sense."
"I..." Lily whispered. She sent a hurt glance at Snape as they entered the Great Hall. He'd been staring at them, but his eyes widened as they met hers and he looked away quickly.
"I...you...I think you might be right," she said. Her eyes turned from hurt to furious.
"Don't worry," James said coolly. "We'll - the Marauders - will take care of him for you."
"Evans, he -"
"I want to help you."
It was James' turn to pause. "Excellent," he said gleefully. "Meet us in the common room after exams - I think your friend wants to talk to you."
Lily's eyes widened as she stared at her temperamental best friend. "Right," she said. "See you!" She hurried to talk to Mary, and James sighed happily. Pranking Snape...with Lily! Not a bad way to spend the last week of sixth year, he thought.