J.K Rowling owns the material. I do not.
Chapter 2: Old Friends
"Prongs, old boy! Long time no see!" Sirius leapt up and wrung James's hand as he entered the compartment.
"Oi, get off me. I just saw you an hour ago. Not to mention all summer."
"Now, now, that's no way to treat an old friend," Sirius chastised him.
"Oh shut up Padfoot," James sighed. He sank onto the seat, exhausted.
"Everything alright?" Remus asked, glancing up from his book, the latest edition of the Standard Book of Spells. The shadows beneath his eyes were looking more pronounced than usual.
James scowled and nicked a chocolate frog from on top of Peter's pile. "Brff-illfiant," he managed through a mouthful.
Peter watched him remorsefully as he swallowed. "So, did you…"
"Let's cut to the chase, shall we?" Sirius interrupted. He leant forward, fixing James with an intent gaze. "Is she, or isn't she?"
James hesitated and ran a hand through his hair. "Yeah, she is."
"And?" Sirius pressed.
Even Remus and Peter were watching him closely.
"And nothing," James replied.
"Well that's better than bad news, isn't it?" Remus asked tactfully.
"S'pose so." James made a face and reached for another frog which Peter conveniently managed to knock onto the floor.
Sirius was still staring at him, dumbfounded. "What happened to you being a great, big, fat-headed troll?" he asked.
"Sorry to disappoint you, but she didn't call me anything."
"I'm sure she's just saving it for later," Sirius decided.
"Well, for someone who didn't get screamed at or dismembered in some way, you seem awfully glum," Remus observed.
"Wouldn't you be?" James asked.
"I mean, come on, I was expecting…something. We're going to be working together all year. She didn't threaten me, or make me promise to behave, or…"
"You mean she didn't confess her undying love for you," Remus said shrewdly.
"Look, James, you can't expect her to warm up to you right away. You have to give her time. Let her see that you've changed."
"She had all last year," James shot back with a hint of despair.
"Yes," Remus answered patiently, "But your stunt with the Slytherins didn't exactly help things, did it?"
"Our stunt," Sirius corrected.
"Your stunt," James said furiously.
"You opened the box!" Sirius retorted.
"I didn't know what was in it!"
"The point is," Remus interrupted. "People don't just change overnight."
"Yeah, kind of like you old pal," Sirius grinned, slapping James on the back.
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"It means, the marauders still have some life left in them," he answered.
"We can't—it can't be like it used to be," James protested. He thought about the incident that had occurred two years ago. It could have ended for him then.
"Don't be such a spoil sport," Sirius accused.
"I mean it Padfoot. I'm not saying…we're not going to have any fun. But we're older now. Maybe it's time we stopped goofing around so much…"
"Not to mention you're Head Boy now," Remus pointed out.
James glanced at him, searching for a hint of resentment in his face. There was none. "It should have been you Moony," he said as way of an apology.
Remus shook his head. "That last thing I need this year is to be busy worrying about everyone while I'm trying to study for NEWTs and dealing with my…problem."
"By everyone, you mean us, right?" Sirius grinned.
"So, you're still alive," a new voice interjected. The marauders looked up simultaneously as the newcomer stepped in. Cadence Summers crossed her arms as she stood over them, a hint of amusement on her face. She was staring at James.
"I'll admit, I'm a little surprised to see you're still in one piece," she continued.
"I'm relieved to be able to say the same thing about you," Sirius commented, his gaze travelling from the hem of her robes up to her neckline.
"You're such a pig, Black."
"Nah, you must have me confused with my brother, Regulus…"
"You didn't jinx her I hope?" Cadence asked, ignoring him.
"I have no idea what you're talking about," James answered.
Cadence rolled her eyes. "No explosions, no screaming, the train is still in tact…"
"I don't know why everyone thinks they're so funny today," James remarked.
"It's not us," Cadence smiled. "I mean, what are the odds? You and Lily, the two heads. Dumbledore must really have it out for the school."
"Maybe he sees something you don't," Remus suggested quietly.
Cadence sighed. "I hope so. For all of our sakes."
"Ha-ha," James said.
"It's nothing against you, Potter. But let's face it. When have you and Lily ever gotten along? No, don't answer that," she warned as James opened his mouth in protest.
"Did you come here for any reason other than to annoy me?" James asked.
"I was hoping you'd be able to tell me where she's gotten off to. I know you had to debrief the prefects, but I was counting on her screaming to lead me to her after."
James elected to ignore this last part. "She didn't say."
"Helpful," Cadence sighed.
"I'm not a Hufflepuff."
Peter chortled. Everyone turned to look at him.
"Well, I'd better see if I can find her. Good seeing you," Cadence said, "Alive, I mean." She smiled brightly and exited from the compartment.
James waved sarcastically.
"See you," Sirius echoed.
"Where's Cadence?" Lily asked, taking a seat in the last compartment. Serena and Callidora sat opposite to her, smiling. She hadn't told them about Potter yet.
"She went looking for you," Serena answered. "She was muttering something about Potter, seemed to think you two would already be fighting or something."
The smile faded from Lily's face.
"You didn't," Callie gasped. "That must be a record; we're not even at school!"
"No, we didn't fight," Lily sighed. "It's just…Potter's been made Head Boy." Even the words sounded strange on her tongue. She shuddered a little as she said it.
"You're joking," Serena gaped.
"Nope, dead serious actually. Is there any food left? I'm starving?" Lily dove gratefully into a stack of cauldron cakes Callie passed to her.
"How'd he manage that one?" Callie asked weakly.
Lily shrugged. "Your guess is as good as mine," she said, swallowing.
"And you didn't fight? Really?" Serena pressed.
"No, we were quite…civil."
"Civil," Serena repeated.
"Yes," Lily nodded. "Actually, I think I was a little rude."
"After last year, I'm amazed that's it," Callie remarked.
"It's going to be a long year; maybe he's trying to make this work as much as I am," Lily suggested, still reflecting on her meeting with Potter. All through the Prefect's meeting he had exhibited nothing less than appropriate Head Boy behavior.
She was still waiting for the dung bombs to drop.
"Yeah, maybe," Serena echoed doubtfully. She and Callidora shared a look.
"What?" Lily demanded.
"Well, don't you think, maybe this is just another ploy of his?" Serena asked.
"If you're telling me you think he hoodwinked Dumbledore for the sake of—"
"No, but it's a brilliant opportunity isn't it?" Serena interrupted.
"Opportunity or not, it doesn't mean anything. I'll just have to…keep my eyes open for a while. Make sure he's taking this job seriously."
"Yeah," Serena mused.
Callie nodded. "Right."
"So…how were your summers?" Lily asked, eager to distract them. She'd had enough talk about Potter for one day.
They lapsed into this subject happily, discussing at length their summer employment, affairs, and family drama. Serena who was also a muggleborn amused them with stories about her receptionist position at the tanning salon ("You mean people actually pay to lie in a stove to turn their skin colour!") and Callidora regaled them with tales of the Scottish beater she'd been seeing. As it turned out, he wasn't an actual beater but a Knight Bus trainee who occasionally took a beater stick to his passengers.
"Needless to say, the job didn't last long," Callie finished.
Serena found this hilarious. "And you actually believed him? I thought you Ravenclaws were supposed to be wise…"
Callidora retorted with something nasty about Gryffindor house but Lily missed it because at that moment, Severus happened to pass by their compartment. She ducked her head quickly, but not before a fleeting moment of eye contact with her once best friend.
"Lily? Lily! Are you going to stand for this?" Serena demanded.
Lily glanced up at her friends blankly. "What?"
"Someone's a space case today…"
"Have you spoken to, well, you know..." Callie whispered, ignoring Serena's grumbling. She had obviously noticed the exchange.
"No, of course not," Lily said dismissively, glancing down at her hands. "I told you, I'm done with him."
"I thought that over the summer you might have…"
"I didn't even see him," Lily answered. This was a lie. She had seen Severus multiple times, but she had always hurried past him, refusing to even acknowledge his presence. He had made his choices and she had made hers. That was all there was to it.
"Oh, well, I saw him on the platform," Callie remarked.
"Oh," Lily said with forced disinterest.
"He wasn't with his usual crowd."
"Who are we talking about?" Serena demanded.
Lily was grateful that Cadence chose that moment to walk in.
"Hey Lily, did you miss me?" she beamed.
A/N: Reviews are much loved; they are the best source of motivation. I hope you're this enjoying so far. I know I am. Cheers!