Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or any other part of Rowling's world.
Warning: Adult Themes not limited to language, some violence, and later minor lemons and substance abuse.
Author's Note: This story is a completed work; I am posting it as it is edited and will post faster if coerced with reviews.

In a room filled with six teenage girls things were a promised constant chaos. Various shades of pink clothing littered most of the furniture, jewelry hung from every hook, and shoes seems to accumulate faster than balls of wadded parchment. There was never a quiet a moment, and where a Gryffindor was involved there was rarely one who could sit back and let the other talk. It was a real shame that Sirius Black had never managed to get up the girl's stair case; it was every man's dream come true at that very moment. Six female teenagers of legal age milled around in various states of dress as they prepared for their first day of school with a certain carefulness that required them to linger a bit longer, dress a bit slower, and talk a little less.

The seventh year Gryffindor girls were a force to be argued against; Lily Evans their constant forefront and face. They were intelligent, well behaved, quick witted, albeit hot tempered. They didn't travel in packs or pair up to use the toilet; they were sensible, mature. They didn't have time for anyone apart from themselves and their ritually short get-togethers on Saturday evenings. They weren't overly popular though their good looks afforded them the occasional whisper; they weren't as eager to share in the spotlight as their seventh year coeds, more properly coined 'the Marauders'. In fact, they were the only girls to resist the charming one liners of James Potter or the handsome dimples of Sirius Black, the sensitive Remus Lupin or the clumsily sweet Peter Pettigrew. They reveled in it; none were there any girls so obliviously high off themselves then the six very independent, very alike, and very different seventh year girl Gryffindors.

Marlene McKinnon was Lily Evan's closest friend. They rarely fought, had nothing in common, and shared similar study trends. She was the second youngest of five; tall and unnaturally pretty. Her language was worse than a troll's, she wouldn't mind an avalanche of mud, and she wasn't allowed to date anyway. It was no secret Marlene McKinnon had four very fierce, very overprotective brothers.

"Tell me your schedule again," Alice McKinnon, a first cousin to Marlene requested over the chatter of two pretty blondes, Emmeline and Verity.

"Runes, Transfiguration, Potions, and Charms," Marlene reported mechanically.

"I should have dropped divination," Alice sighed, pulling on her short sleeved sweater before mussing her short hair around with some wax, "I only ever took it because Frank said it was an easy class to pass."

Lily rolled her eyes, she shut her trunk with a snap, "well there's your problem."

"Speaking of," Alice said brightly; she smirked, "How are you going to handle yours?"

Lily sighed heavily, all of the girls had quieted in anticipation of gossip, "oh, I suppose I'll just have to deal," he answered bitterly.

Verity rolled her pale blue eyes, "Poor Lily, she'll just have to deal with James Potter."

"You know how much James irritates her," Mary piped up defensively.

"James is hot, toss him a wand Lils," Verity returned to brushing her long pale blonde hair.

Alice made a face and then a gagging sound, "Did I here right? Did we forget the pact?"

"We're seventeen now Alice," Emmeline said tugging her knee highs up, she tucked a wayward hair behind her ear, "and the Marauders have all grown up a bit too. It isn't a crime to be attracted to them. Actually, I'd think it's rather natural as most of our peers are."

"Did they grow up before or after they transfigured the sorting hat into a party hat that shot streamers after every single sorting last night?" Lily asked with the irritation of someone who had spent years convincing her friends that the Marauders were not so much dating material as they were a passing snog.

"You don't know it was – "

"Bollocks," Lily said tossing a hand on her hip in a familiar pose.

"McGonagall couldn't prove it," Emmeline shot.

Alice snorted, "Come on, no one's better then James or Sirius at transfiguration, sometimes I think they even give McGonagall a run for her money."

"Hasn't that woman suffered enough at their hands? Honestly," Lily said while grabbing her school bag, "I know I have."

"It's still early," Marlene said checking her wrist watch. It was brand new; she'd only turned seventeen in June. Though it was tradition for wizards to receive watches on their seventeenth her eldest brother sensed Marlene's incense at the sexist ideal involved and had brought her one anyway; that was mostly why he was her favorite at the moment.

Lily's hand was already on the dormitory door, "I don't want to have to spend any more time in Potter's presence then I have to this semester."

Marlene and Alice exchanged a smile before hurrying after their friend. There was a scramble behind them for the other three girls to grab their things and tag along. Being so early the common room and corridors were near deserted. Sunshine glinted off of their hair as they clicked down window walled corridors, several flights of stairs, and finally into the nearly empty great hall. The only thing Marlene enjoyed about promptness was tradition. They were able to pick their seats near the front of the table, somewhere the Marauders never ventured – too close to teachers. Marlene had only just picked out a few fruits when Lily groaned distractingly.

"What is it?" Mary asked, ever anxious over everyone's well being.

Marlene watched with her friends the slow progression of the Marauders as they made their usual noisy entrance for breakfast. James and Sirius were the ring leaders; the girls had learnt' long ago, James more so then his counterpart. They'd never cared to work out rather Remus was just idiot or scapegoat, and Peter was clearly the tag along. Beyond the general idea of the four's 'friendship', no one had ever tried to understand the complex actual friendship that clearly existed beyond that. Everyone was too busy fawning over them or turning the other way to investigate too much. Marlene had always been curious, entertained even though she wouldn't admit it to Lily; she watched silently as the quartet approached them. Lily was glancing obnoxiously between the teacher's table and the Marauder's, as if waiting for them to turn tail any moment. Unluckily for Lily, James sat right at her side, his trademark grin plastered annoyingly across his face. Years of practiced patience prevented any of the girls from outright dejecting their classmates; in fact there had been moments they'd all shared in a good laugh or a tender moment, but never for very long, and never without any sort of substance abuse.

Sirius tossed an arm over Alice's shoulder, something he did on occasion to annoy her. She would shrug it off and glower at him in mock anger, though afterwards a small smirk would curve her lips as she ducked her head. Frank Longbottom, her now fiancé, had been three years ahead of them and friends with the Marauders. Really, the seventh year girls were the only lot in school apart from the Slytherins who would deny the same claim; everyone wanted to be friends with them, the girls could care less.

"Lovely morning ladies," James said conversely.

Lily considered him wearily, she was never outwardly rude, not purposefully and never without being provoked. She looked very much like she wanted to be at that moment; James Potter rarely started out a sentence in her direction that didn't end with her resulting answer of 'no' (of course in more creatively objective ways usually). Mary looked just as wary, though more intrigued with her plate of food; Sirius had always bullied her, she seemed to draw into herself whenever he'd come around. It was another vote for his unpopularity where the Gryffindor girls were involved.

"It was much lovelier," Alice answered, all of the Marauder's smiled in different ways; Peter smiled like he wasn't sure it was meant to be a joke or not, Sirius in his usual bone melting way, James in his arrogant self righteousness, and Remus in his nervous I-hope-this-doesn't-come-back-to-bite-me-in-the-arse manner.

"I only wanted to tell Lily that I'll be covering Regulus Black's prefect duties today."

"And why is that?" Lily quipped with a clear edge to her voice as she violently cut her egg in half.

"He's told me he isn't in the right way to perform them."

"Since when do you do favors for…," Lily's emerald eyes drifted up to the teacher's table. Dumbledore was standing up after Slughorn had appeared at his side looking nervous. Lily's eyes narrowed and turned sharply upon the Marauders, "What did you do?"

"Nothing, the Slytherins have been fighting amongst themselves like the petty children they often are," Sirius said dryly.

Lily considered him, there were a handful of times you could tell when the eldest Black brother wasn't lying; she seemed to accept that once for truth, "Is that it?"

"We thought we'd enjoy our last first breakfast the way we started our first breakfast," James said smiling. Marlene glanced at her friends to see if they bought this, but Emmeline and Verity didn't seem to be paying attention, their heads bent as they whispered; Mary was oblivious for everything but her food and insecurities; Alice was digging through her school bag, mouth full of food.

"Charming," Lily toned before stuffing a fork full of egg into her mouth.

"I thought so," James muttered to the snickers of Peter and Sirius.

Lily's eyes cut to him, quieting him effectively before swallowing her food, "Did you finish your summer homework Remus?"

"Yes," Remus smiled, catching Lily's eyes as they shifted from James' to his, "How were your holidays?"

"Wonderful, Petunia moved out so Mum didn't have to put up with our arguing. Being of age I was really very afraid it wouldn't have made a difference, but Mum doesn't mind me doing magic. I rather had too much fun actually," Lily smiled, either unaware or well practiced at ignoring James, who was hanging on her every syllable, Marlene resisted the urge to snort into her food. There was nothing like familiarity.

"How's Frankie?" Sirius asked Alice.

Alice arched an eyebrow at him, "He hates when you call him that."

"How's Mr. Alice?"

Alice rolled her eyes, "He's done with his apprenticeship. He took his tests, he's officially an Auror."

"Brill," Sirius said smiling. It was no secret James and Sirius aspired to be Aurors; possibly their only redeeming quality, Marlene and Lily had decided one night.

"I was thinking of starting a study group for NEWTs," James said at large, but mostly to Lily.

Lily's fork hesitated, she seemed to be warring with herself; finally she answered, "Oh?"

"McGonagall thinks it's a good idea, she said we could use her classroom if we'd like."

Lily caught Marlene's eye, Marlene bit her lip to hide her amusement as Lily's frown deepened and she added, "Oh?"

"She even gave me ten points for the idea."

Now there was laugh, James earning points out of the classroom. Marlene smiled into her food, wincing as Sirius addressed her, "Something funny McKinnon?"

"Only it must be your face," she said the perfect picture of innocence as Lily turned a giggle into a cough and Alice smiled into her own food; she even got a smile out of Mary.

"Cheeky as ever," Sirius said smirking so wide his dimples showed. Verity and Emmeline giggled at this; Marlene sensed her growing annoyance for the pair.

"Boring as ever I see," Marlene said angling her chin up a little, she smirked back, "Haven't you anything clever to say yet? It's been seven years after all."

"I'd be keeping tack too if my life was as boring as yours. Tell me, will your brothers be around while you consummate your wedding? I'd poke fun at anything else, but you're rather shallow in the personality department."

"That's almost as clever as that nasty mole on your face," Marlene smiled, her wand already in hand though no one had noticed.

Sirius' face twisted into brief confusion before she'd hexed him, a terribly large mole growing absurdly quick beside his right dimple. Lily inhaled, her hand fluttering to her mouth, her eyes brightening with laughter while Alice choked on her milk and Mary gaped openly. James eyed it like he was rather disgusted and Remus looked a touch surprised, Peter's confusion continued on even after Sirius'. Sirius either sensed its growth or followed his friend's line of vision; he touched it gently before his face split into a smile once again.

"You've fouled up now," he said eyes dark with glittering warning.

"I'm sure you're familiar with the feeling being a Black and all."

Sirius' eyes turned from playful to murderous, James stood up abruptly, "Come on mate, I've only just smelt Snivellus from here and he hasn't even seen us all summer."

Sirius rose from his chair and for whatever reason Marlene propelled upwards as well; Sirius smirked, "Nervous?"

"No," she lied.

His eyes traveled down the length of her body, though inevitably citing her wand, she knew the long look had had two very obvious intentions in all reality. He smirked humorlessly, "Now you're just like everyone else, it'll only be a matter of time before you'll be begging me for some seriously lacking excitement," he winked.

Her eyes narrowed, "Git."

"You can call me that now, but it'll be my name you'll be shouting in time."

Marlene didn't even smile when Lily and Alice shot out of their seats wands drawn, "Detention," Lily said hotly, "tonight at seven in the Prefect's longue."

"See you there flower," Sirius winked again, except at Lily, and led the Marauder's exit out of the great hall. Remus and Peter gulped down some food before hopping up to follow. James was slower yet; he passed an apologetic smile at them before ending the parade a few moments later.

Lily made an irritated sound and flopped back down, "He's impossible!"

"He's Sirius Black," Verity said, not even wincing when Lily's fiery glare attempted to set her ablaze.

"How can you defend him?" Lily snapped indignantly.

"How can you expect anything different from him after seven years? – and you know he doesn't like to be compared to his family, that wasn't fair Marlene," Verity folded her arms, she didn't get the look across quite right as she was sitting down, but Marlene did feel appropriately guilty regardless of her poor manners and generally insensitive nature.

The morning went terribly after that, ending at Marlene's round corner collision with Benjamin Fenwick. The Seventh year Ravenclaw blinked at her several times before his face broke into a dimpling grin and he bent low with her to gather their things, separating them easily and handing them to a frowning Marlene.

"I'm sorry," she said, taking her things back easily.

"S'no problem" he shrugged with a smirk that would melt most girls. Apart from the Prewett twins and the Marauder's he had quiet his own reputation.

She smiled and tried to move around him, her friends waiting, but he sidestepped her. Touching her shoulder gently, he said "I didn't see you at my birthday."

Her shoulders rolled back as she frowned up at him, "You know my brothers better than most, I thought – "

"I thought since Maize had come you'd be nearby, but he'd said you'd wanted to stay home," Benjamin's smile didn't reach his eyes.

Marlene felt her teeth grit together. It was just like her brothers to lie to her friends, even if they were harmless imbecile boys who were kind enough to consider some idiotic scheme to work into her brothers good graces for one pathetic date. She's played against Benjamin in quidditch since her fourth year, studied with him on occasion, and had even gone on one private date with him that had ended disastrously when her brother's had found out. Benjamin hadn't been the first boy to pine over her affections, kiss her brother's asses, or find that they were properly disappointed in the end; she knew he wouldn't be the last either. She knew from the moment he'd asked she wouldn't be able to go to as his date, let alone to a party without parental guidance. She'd even told him, but Benjamin Fenwick was the persistent type and she admired that at least. Things she didn't admire were comparable to her brother's being over bearing, mistrusting her and thereafter lying to her good friends, making a complete fool out of her. Not for the first time was Sirius' insult that morning perturbing her. She had to be the prettiest girl in the entire school, she knew it no matter how arrogant she also knew she was; she had probably been the oldest to have never gone on a proper date. It was embarrassing, and her brother's actions and known over protectiveness was only her face being properly rubbed in the mud. Benjamin was cute and sweet and attractive, her hot temper and overdriven mind was working against her brothers not for the first time.

"What he didn't tell you was that I actually wasn't allowed to go, and he's a complete fool for thinking I would turn down your next offer," she smirked, tossing her hair over her shoulder in a wave of deep brunette rivulets, "I would love to go to Hogsmeade with you."

Benjamin smiled, "Alright, I'll meet you in the great hall after breakfast that Saturday."

"Are you mad?" Lily whispered as they began toward lunch, luckily the biggest gossips of her friends had continued on in impatience before Marlene had asked Benjamin out. Mary and Alice trailed beside Marlene and Lily listening idly.

"I still remember the last time you went on a date a whole year ago," Alice said dryly, she frowned, eyes flicking toward Marlene whose shoulders had drooped. "You had to miss the first quidditch match for punishment, and McGonagall even gave you an entire lecture about being too young to date – she's strict, but that had entirely nothing to do with abstinence and everything to do with quidditch."

"Marc isn't going to find out – besides, I'm of age," Marlene said, shoulder's straightening a little.

"And I'm Wendelin the Weird," Lily said pompously, Alice and Mary smiled, Marlene just frowned at her. Lily sighed, "You'd better call it off; this is your last year to play."

"It's my last year to date too!" Marlene said angrily as they sat down in their usual seats, "Once I join the academy I'll be under the constant lock and key of my father and all of my brothers, minus Max! I'll take Max over gits one, two, three and four any day."

"It's my last year to date and I'm not too bothered," Lily said while she took a sandwich.

"I understand," Mary said quietly, hanging her head.

Marlene sighed, "You're pretty enough to date Mary, you just need to stop acting so insecure and you'd see."

"Don't be rude," Lily shot.

"It's true! Mary can't find a date, because she doesn't try, because she doesn't think anyone will have her! If she didn't think that way I'd bet my vault in Gringotts she'd have a date before Hogsmeade," Marlene slammed her fist down on the table startling her friends, then she pointed at Lily, "and at least you've dated, and you're engaged," she said pointing at Alice.

"Oy! Leave me out of this," Alice said, leaning away from Marlene defensively.

Marlene let her hands drop into her lap, "Sirius is right, stupid ass hat," she finished in a grumble.

Alice hid her giggle as Lily shot Marlene a disapproving frown, and Mary chided, "You told me once that nothing he says makes a lick of difference!"

Marlene's teeth snapped together, "Well it does if it's true, what Sirius said – it could definitely happen knowing my luck. I definitely won't even be allowed to be alone with a boy until then."

"What's wrong with waiting for marriage?" Alice asked quietly, a small smile quirking her lips.

Marlene considered her and then shoved her hard, sending the nymph jarring sideways as Mary giggled and Alice giggled, pushing herself back up off the bench, "well it's true, it's still rather common place to wait you know? If my mother knew what Frank and I got up to – well, well Frank and I wouldn't be seeing each other as often, put it that way."

"I wouldn't dream of it," Lily said, her chin drifting upward as she stared down her lashes.

"Me neither," Mary said, shaking her head.

"Well I don't think I get a choice either way, not that my religion – holds for it or anything – "

"It's less your religion and more what your parent's have stuffed down your throat," Alice said pushing her food around, "Honestly, you're the worst religious person I've ever met," she smiled and glanced sideways at Marlene.

Marlene smiled back, "I know, but Christ, wouldn't I be so horrible any other way?"

They lingered like most students in the great hall before going to their next class. Alice and Mary had wanted to go outside for a short walk while Marlene perched on one of the steps of the marble staircase. Lily stood at the banister, digging through her bag to make sure she'd grabbed all of her things from her potions kit. Observant as usual Marlene watched the Marauder's progression out of the great hall. Lily looked up sharply at a familiar bark like laugh, they both watched on as James broke apart what looked to be the beginning of a small duel. Lily glanced down sharply when James glanced toward them a nervous, but somehow confident smile on his face while he explained something in hushed tones to the quarrelling students. Remus disintegrated the small crowd that had gathered.

"Is it just me or do you think he's staging all of this?" Lily asked quietly, Marlene realized she was watching them again.

She shrugged, "Who knows?"

Lily licked her lips and then bit the bottom one, her eyebrows drawing together, "I don't know what to make of it."

Marlene glanced up at the red head; she'd caught Lily laughing at James' jokes more than once. She knew there must be some sort of fondness their though her friend wouldn't admit it. Marlene even liked James, though he could be cruel at times, she had been inclined to agree with Emmeline and Verity. There had come a point in the previous year that after fighting amongst themselves, and mostly with Sirius over something no one had ever been able to find out, the four of them had become kinder to their classmates, more compassionate, and ultimately less obnoxious. Lily had labeled it careful; Marlene could see they rarely got caught in any sort of trouble anymore too, rather it be their new ability at doing things discretely or the absence of their usual trouble all together. She'd also noticed Lily's slight inclination to be kinder toward the dark haired boy; Alice and Marlene had always considered James charming when he wasn't being big headed. The boy had gone out of his way to do sweet things for Lily that she acted as if she didn't care for. They'd had a bet going for two years over when Lily would eventually cave. They'd made it the day Lily had accidentally hugged everyone in turn after winning a quidditch match, lingering a moment too long in hugging James before awkwardly half running away.

"He's not all bad," Marlene said finally.

Lily groaned, "Not you too?"

Marlene shrugged, "He's a good team mate, that's speaks volumes doesn't it?"

Lily considered her, and then kicked her gently, "Get up you nutter, we're going to be late."

Marlene noticed Emmeline and Verity arrive at their side out of her peripheral vision. Students teamed into the dungeons classroom while the girls waited patiently as not to be pushed or shoved.

"Is it true? Are you going on a date with Fenwick?" Emmeline asked smiling.

"That's just great Mars," Verity said.

"How did you find out?" Marlene asked as the same time Lily said, "Where were you at lunch?"

"Library," Emmeline answered, and glanced to Lily, "and Library."

"Who told you?" Marlene asked as she moved robotically into the classroom with her peers.

Emmeline looked thoughtful as they all took desks near each other, "Little Ravenclaw girl I think."

"What?" Marlene gaped; Lily patted her sympathetically on the back.

"Is it true?" Verity asked smiling.

Marlene managed to make her mouth snap closed, "No," she toned before slamming her book onto her desk, causing the Slytherins in front of her to jump in the slightest.

To the brunette's absolute horror she sat down for dinner only to be joined immediately by her fifteen year old brother, the youngest of the McKinnon brood. She regarded him wearily, something she'd never done until the year before, her first year seemingly free of her lack of privacy. She hadn't considered Marc or her father to instruct Max in espionage or for said brother, usually the first to agree to rule breaking, to comply. He was unusually good at ferreting things out of her or being intuitive enough to take things back and forth for her brothers, now he even resembled Marc. He'd grown several inches over the summer, he was even taller than her now; she imagined his shoulders were broadening right before her eyes. She blinked and picked nonchalantly at her dinner, as if eating dinner with her brother at school had been the most natural thing to have ever happened.

"I'm hearing this funny rumor."

"That's the thing about funny rumors," Marlene said tactfully.

She heard his frown, "About Benjy F.?"

Marlene arched an eyebrow at him, "Benjy F.; name doesn't ring any bells."

Max's gaze hardened, much like Marc's did when he was growing irritated, she noted bitterly. How had she let this happen? He'd always been the one she could headlock into a confession, now all he had to do was glare at her; Max cut across her line of thought, "Benjamin Fenwick Marlene, you know who I'm talking about."

"Tall chap with that handsome hair," She tried to hide her smile at noticing Alice's out of the corner of her eye.

"Well you can forget about it."

She blinked owlishly at him, "What?"

Max's jaw flexed, "I'm telling Marc."

"How Slytherin of you," Marlene said lazily, pushing her food around, "He doesn't need to worry, it is just a rumor."

"Good, because Benjamin is just as bad as Black if you ask me."

"What, he's after my virginity too? Should we contact law enforcement?" Marlene asked, fork hovering over her carrots; when Max didn't answer she glanced up, hiding her amusement at his pinked cheeks.

"I was just giving you a heads up," he stood up, taking his plate with him as he walked away rigidly.

Marlene's frowned deepened with every step he distanced himself, "Prattling little troll," she muttered.

Lily inhaled, only then did Marlene realize her friend had missed the entire exchange, she paused from digging around in her bag, "I was so caught up," she looked suddenly frantic, ripping a scroll out, "I forgot to turn in my summer work."

"Caught up with what?" Alice asked lifting an eyebrow.

"I was talking to Professor Slughorn about the first Slugclub meeting and – "

"Does she go out of her way to commit social suicide or what?" Alice muttered to Marlene darkly.

"- we were talking about Amortentia and – "

"Didn't we learn to brew Amortentia last year?" Marlene muttered back to Alice.

"– He said that – "

"Maybe she's going to try to make herself fall in love this year, remember Berkly?"

"– And I had to – "

Marlene pressed her fingers to her lips to stop the giggle short, "she did try very hard."

"Are you both listening?" Lily said exasperatedly.

Mary straightened, "I was."

"Thank you Mary," Lily said tiredly before glancing back to her food and then to the teacher table, "when he leaves I have to go turn it in."

"Not alone," Marlene said in a hard tone. Slytherins had never been particularly taken with Lily because of her blood, going into the dungeons too late just wasn't a good idea. Especially since it seemed like Snape was still lurking in the shadows waiting for Lily to accept his year-long apology.

Not ten minutes later Marlene had been volunteered for the trip down to the dungeons, trailing miserably after her close friend. A meeting with Slughorn was never short, especially where Lily was involved; they never stopped talking. Marlene was already mentally preparing herself for the worst end to her last first day of Hogwarts. She sat down on Slughorn's sofa with the feebleness of a hundred year old witch; she curled into the cushions immediately, wondering if she could manage to sleep with her eyes open like she had that one time when she was twelve. After ten minutes no luck and failing to drown out her Professor and best friend, she sat forward abruptly with a great sigh.

"You look tired my dear; NEWTs is the hardest year, you can tell now I presume," Slughorn said, smiling at her.

Marlene blinked at Lily in a way that said 'you owe me, this conversation will never end', "It's been a rough day," she sighed.

"So the rumor mill runs," Slughorn said, refilling his cup of what should have been tea, but definitely smelt of brandy; it was no secret Slughorn loved his alcohol.

"Don't mind Marlene, she's a little resentful at having so many brothers."

"Ah, yes, I remember each of the oldest," he smiled, "Marcus was a smart lad – well, you all are," he smiled toward two photos sitting side by side on many shelves of photos. Marlene didn't have to look to know which photos; the one's of Marc, Michael and Maize, and the one beside it of her and Max. She didn't like to think of how Slughorn 'collected' students for his Slugclub; it only reminded her of her aversion toward him. Slughorn was smiling at her when she glanced up from her lap, "is there anything I can help you with young lady? I may be old, but I'm always good for persuasion I hear anyway."

Marlene and Lily exchanged a short glance, Slughorn never offered a favor unless he wanted one in return. Marlene didn't feeling like biting, but she took the bait regardless, "Not unless you can brew me a potion that will allow me a single date with the opposite sex."

Slughorn smiled, "Ah yes, rather conservative your lot," he took a sip from his tea cup. "I must agree, Hogwarts is a bit young to be dating – but young love, you can't try against it."

"Er, yes," Marlene said, glancing at Lily, but Lily was considering the goldfish swimming around in the bowl on Slughorn's desk. It had taken refugee there the year before; Marlene wondered idly if it was the same fish or a new one.

"Well I don't know what I can do for potions, but I do know I'm rather good about dinner dates, and rarely do my favorite students deny me."

"I think they'd know if I didn't show up sir."

"Possibly – but there is a potion for that," Slughorn said jovially, "and Lily here, albeit the good student she is, has turned in her homework late and probably wouldn't mind some extra credit and a good favor for her friend."

"No sir," Lily agreed eagerly.

"There's just a favor I'll need too," Slughorn informed, sitting his cut down. His eyes darted over to his photo collection, "a student I need help recruiting."

Marlene hadn't recruited anyone since she'd recruited Lily, and that had been a hard time as well. Once upon a time Lily had shared Marlene's aversion to the man. She groaned inwardly thinking of who it could possibly be; she sensed it must be someone particularly adamant if Slughorn was considering such a big favor. Lying was one thing, but allowing one student to impersonate the other, especially in complete disrespect to another student's parent's wishes: that was serious business.

"Who," Marlene toned.

"Sirius Black," Slughorn said simply, not even noticing Marlene's cringe or Lily's wince. He traced a finger around the rim of his tea cup and glanced back to the photos, one in particular of a tall boy with handsome dark features staring back at him, "he'll be leaving this year, and I've always wanted the pair."