Disclaimer: I own nothing.

Incoming: Err, lots of dialogue, I suppose… It's a bit of a filler really, but there's some Sirmione goodness ahead. Dorcas also makes an appearance, and Hermione finally decides to shed some light on her mysterious past (nothing too revealing, mind you). Enjoy!


CHAPTER ELEVEN: Midnight


"I love the idea of the street vibe, having folks together, out in the street at midnight."

~ Sean Paul


Late November 1977

"What's got your wand in a knot?" Hermione asked, eyeing her first friend at Hogwarts with concern and curiosity. Not only was he hissing and sneering at just about everyone in the near vicinity, but he was also sporting little blue spots that covered most of his normally handsome face. "And what on earth happened to your face?"

"Oh, him? He has, unfortunately, been on the receiving end of Scarlet and Kitty Sharp's wrath. The twins, you know?" Corbin said helpfully. She nodded in recognition at the twins' names.

"Sod off you tosser!" He sneered menacingly. Corbin ignored him beautifully, keeping his eyes trained on Hermione as they sat down on an empty bench in the courtyard.

"How come?" Hermione asked, she was amused for sure, but also felt bad for her dear friend. She brushed away some dirt with a gloved hand before sitting down beside her two friends, one agitated and the other smiling.

"He may or may not have ruined a double date of theirs in Hogsmeade. Intentional or not, they are furious." Corbin snickered, and Hermione's eyes went wide at the statement.

"Dear Morgana! You didn't, did you?!" She asked appalled, a gloved hand flying up to cover her mouth in disbelief. She had expected him to be the victim of a horrible Slytherin prank or something similar, not the prankster himself.

"It was an accident! How was I supposed to know they actually like Damon McLaggen and Eldred Worple? I mean seriously! McLaggen? Worple? I swear I didn't do it on purpose!" He desperately tried to explain. "I thought they were bothering the girls! It sure as hell looked like it!"

Sitting perplexed and surprised by it all, Hermione eventually broke down in laughter. She doubled over, clutching her sides frantically as she tried to reign in her reaction, and effectively startled the boys in the process. "For once I actually agree with Benjy," Hermione chortled, showing no signs of guilt or stopping anytime soon. "McLaggen? Really? That suggests severe lack of proper judgement."

"I didn't say I disagreed, merely that they are furious." Corbin shrugged, lips twitching upwards. He tried hard not to laugh at the affronted expression Benjy seemed so fond of at the moment, but it was clear that it wasn't the only thing that amused him. She knew there was no long lost love between McLaggen and Corbin. Apparently McLaggen had gotten a little too frisky with Corbin's girlfriend – now ex-girlfriend – back in their sixth year. He pulled his winter cloak tighter around himself at the cold breeze passing by, still smiling at the thought of Benjy's hilarious blunder.

"I'm glad you find my current predicament amusing," Benjy grumbled angrily. He was positively glowering at his two traitorous friends, and had blue spots not covered his face, he would have been beet-red instead. Actually, he did look a bit purple, now that Hermione thought about it. She refrained from commenting on it.

"Oh don't be such a baby," Hermione rolled her eyes and gave him a sympathetic pat on his shoulder.

"That's easy for you to say! You aren't the one with blue spots all over your face!" Hermione looked patiently at him.

"Are you done yet?" He huffed and crossed his arms over his chest, sporting an indignant look. "Good. Do you want me to remove them or not?" She arched an eyebrow, daring him to continue his ranting.

"Madam Pomfrey said it would take days before they go away!" He said heatedly in response, his nostrils flaring dangerously and his arms unwinding.

"Well, Madam Pomfrey may or may not have been wrong… Apparently it's a punishment we girls have developed over the years, I'm not surprised Madam Pomfrey sided with the twins, even if she might not have known who did it. It's practically girl codex. Hence why you wouldn't know about it… I only found out recently from Lily."

"That's not fair!" Benjy exploded furiously, fingers desperately scratching at the angry blue marks.

"Say that again and you get to keep your lovely blue spots. Personally, I think it's an improvement," Hermione smirked. Corbin did not contain his laughter this time.

.


.

Where Sirius Black was concerned, Hermione could only conclude one thing; he was simply the biggest, most annoying, idiotic prat to ever walk the earth.

The absolute worst he had put her through so far, was the toilet prank. She had no idea how he had done it, or why, but the moment she sat down, unsuspecting and in a hurry, the seat disappeared from under her, and her poor bum ended up in the toilet. The humiliation didn't stop there, however, as she soon found herself unable to get up on her own accord. In other words, she was stuck. Luckily for her, Lily had waited for her, and had heard the piercing scream and steady stream of unflattering words coming from the bathroom.

An hour later Hermione was finally free. Her bum had been stuck for an entire hour.

Needless to say, Hermione was not amused.

Hermione had retaliated in kind, and she had been so furious he ended up in the Hospital Wing. He spent two days in there, and from the sound of it, Madam Pomfrey had not been gentle in her treatment of the resident prankster. No one knew what she had actually done to him, and apparently he preferred to keep it that way. Not even James had been privy to it. Hermione had not told Lily either.

"Sirius Black!"

"That would be me, love." The sly smirk was enough to aggravate her, to make her blood boil and her wand arm twitching. He halted his writing, and his homework was instantly forgotten. The rest of the Marauders had gone to raid the kitchen for a late afternoon snack, which left Sirius to his own devices, and, for once, his homework. If she wasn't so furious, she definitely would have commented on it.

"What did you do this time?" She glared menacingly at him, her eyes ablaze. A few first and second years playing snap by the window winced at her tone. They looked like they genuinely debated on whether to stay, and stay quiet, or leave the common room altogether. Everyone in Gryffindor tower had become accustomed to the riots Hermione and Sirius caused these days, and they had learned the hard way to stay clear of whatever crazy antics they were up to.

"What makes you think I did something?" He tried to pull off an innocent façade, but failed spectacularly. She knew him too well by now, and whenever that deceptively innocent smile came into play, well, that's when she started to worry.

"Maybe it's because nine out of ten times you actually have done something!" She gave him the stink eye, which he, as usual, took in a stride, not even bothering to feel threatened by her.

"I am sad you would think me so devious…" He sighed dramatically, bashing his eyelashes at her as he studied her closely, a devious glint apparent in his eyes.

She might just spontaneously combust one of these days if he kept looking at her like that. He had no right to look so sinfully handsome, and to look at her so intensely; with a burning passion she had not been on the receiving end of before, even if it was only with a promise of mischief. She doubted he was attracted to her in a sexual way, but something did fascinate him where she was concerned, she just didn't know what it was, yet. She suspected he didn't know either.

"I think you are looking mighty pleased with yourself right now, that's what I think!"

"Well, I think you seem a bit frustrated." He tilted his head to the side, still looking slyly at her. "Is it that time of the month?" He asked patronizingly, and she was pretty sure she was about to pop a vein.

"You-! You are insufferable!" And that was when she had enough. She chucked no less than four pillows from the nearest couch at him – hard – and the fifth she clutched so tight in her hand that her knuckles turned white. She hit him with it repeatedly, again and again and again, stupidly hoping to knock the idiotic part out of him. Now that was wishful thinking on her part.

After a moment of struggling he finally gained control over the offending pillow, and then promptly chucked it away. He looked so pleased with himself at the frazzled looking Hermione, chest heaving in anger, her hair frizzy and clothes in disarray. She was undeniably furious.

He loved it. Of that she was certain.

Then, much to his surprise – and obvious disappointment – she stopped, and her face turned blank. She gave him another withering glare before she practically stormed out of the room, as if Voldemort was hot on her heels. She all but slammed the portrait hole shut, and effectively startled a fifth year on her way in. The fat lady could be heard screaming obscenities after the furious girl, but as per usual no one paid her any mind.

"Oi! Where are you going?" He leapt out of his seat, homework and belongings forgotten in a heartbeat.

Clearly he wasn't done with Hermione yet.

.


.

"What did he do?" Lily demanded angrily, she had heard and seen most of the interlude in the common room, but Head Girl duties had unfortunately taken precedence.

Fourth year girls in Gryffindor were hell on earth, put there solely to test the limits of Lily Evans' patience. Especially since the quarrels always involved boys, cheating or not. Luckily for Lily, Remus entered the common room about ten minutes after the idiotic pair's sudden departure.

"Nothing." He didn't even so much as blink at the question fired at him. He was so used to it by now, that he had come to expect her random, and aggressive, confrontations. After all, he was commonly perceived as the rational part of the Marauders.

"Nothing?"

"Mmh," he hummed. He headed in the direction of Sirius' abandoned study corner, slipping his bag over his shoulder and down to the floor. With a great sigh he fell back against the deserted couch, eyeing the pillows strewn around the table and nearby armchairs with fascination. Lily followed suit, and stiffly sat down across from him. He closed his eyes for a blissful moment, evidently hoping for Lily to let him off the hook and go on her merry way.

"Then why is he acting like he did do something?" Lily asked puzzled, but her aggressive and straight posture didn't let up.

"To drive her mad, I suppose." Remus shrugged as he opened his eyes, looking at her through narrowed slits. "It's kind of ironic, don't you think? What with her being a bit of a know-it-all." He held up his hands in surrender at Lily's deadly glare. "I meant no offence, personally, I think it's a good quality." Once he had sufficiently appeased her anger he continued.

"But back to the point... It frustrates her, not knowing what he did, so to be frank, I would say he has upped his game. What better way to annoy her than this? I imagine it's going to bother her all day."

"That's... that's positively evil!" Lily gasped in horror.

"Honestly, it's Sirius. What did you expect? That dolt knows exactly which buttons to push, and so far he's had a field day trying to figure out what makes her tick. I would say he has finally found a sore spot. Well, that and homework." He winced as he remembered another score for Sirius. "And the toilet accident, although anyone would have been furious after that."

"Damn right they would!" Lily snapped. "If she hadn't gotten back at him after that, I would have ended him!"

"How long do you think it will take him to realize he fancies her?" Remus deflected easily. The Toilet Accident, as it was so dubbed, was a subject most were afraid to even think about, and the few who had been present in the common room when Hermione exploded in a fit of fury, had not uttered a word to anyone.

"Sirius? Who knows... he can be rather oblivious at times." Lily seemed to mull it over for a second, tapping her index finger thoughtfully on her chin.

"Mainly when it involves feelings and himself, especially a combination of both. Now that's just catastrophe all rolled into one." Remus added drily.

"He's an idiot."

"I quite agree." He paused for a second. "But so is Hermione."

"As intelligent as they both are, they are also incredibly dense."

"Indeed. Maybe I should talk to James about it." Remus pondered mostly to himself.

She shook her head no. "I already spoke with him, and for now I'll let him handle Sirius."

"I doubt that is going to end well." Remus grimaced, silently giving his sympathies to Hermione.

"He isn't stupid, Remus. Trust me, I made myself very clear when we had that particular conversation."

"Meaning you threatened to castrate him, if he didn't behave and keep Sirius in line."

"Exactly!" Lily beamed.

"Sometimes you scare me, Lily." He glanced wearily at his redheaded companion.

"That is kind of the point," she replied exasperatedly, running her fingers through her long and beautiful red hair. "If I'm going to live with the King of Prats I need to be scary."

"True."

He felt bad for her, truly, he did.

.


.

When in doubt, go to the library. That had always been Hermione's motto. Lately, however, that had changed remarkably.

When hiding from Sirius Black, seek refuge in the safe confines of Hogwarts' Library. The safe and secret part Madam Irma Pince had created solely for Hermione's sake, once she had seen the mayhem Sirius – and sometimes James – caused every time Hermione was about to become their next unwilling victim in the library. It was no secret the two witches had hit it off the moment Hermione had hexed another student for mistreating an old and very valuable book. Madam Pince had taken one look at Hermione, and they had then reached an understanding of sorts, without muttering so much as a word. Therefore, the older witch had taken pity on her whenever Sirius Black was involved, and thusly created a safe zone. The beauty of magic would never fail to surprise Hermione.

It might be cowardly of her to hide from him, but she had to catch a break sometimes. She had absolutely no idea what he had done this time, but the smug smile he had sent her way said it all. She was at her wits end at what to do, and not even Lily's threats were working. Obviously, she needed to come up with something, and soon, but she was above begging. She refused to beg for mercy, which meant she had to outsmart him. However, that was easier said than done, going by the way he was relentlessly continuing his… whatever the hell he was doing. She did retaliate, but that only seemed to amuse him, as if he looked forward to whatever she came up with.

She had met her match, loathe as she was to admit it, and wherever Harry and Ron had ended up (be it heaven or not) she was sure they were laughing at her.

"Edwards?" Hermione started, her hand instinctively reaching for her beloved wand lying on the study table.

"How did you find me?" Hermione said suspiciously, eyeing the offending witch with disgust. Dorcas Meadowes was absolutely not welcome in Hermione's sanctuary, and never would be.

"Madam Pince pointed me in your direction. Although, that took quite a bit of convincing on my part." Dorcas grimaced. "Bloody bint," she muttered as an afterthought.

"Great. What do you want? Should I expect McKinnon waiting around the corner with a few dungbombs ready to fling in my direction?"

"No." She shuffled her feet in annoyance.

"Oh really?" That raised Hermione's level of interest, yet did nothing to hide the contempt she felt for Dorcas.

"I just want to talk. Honestly." Dorcas said, boldly reaching for the chair opposite of Hermione. She glanced briefly at the mess Hermione had created at the table, books and parchment scattered carelessly. She could no doubt sense the aggravated and slightly hysterical state of the fiery brunette.

"About what?" She asked tiredly, gently rubbing her temples. Sirius chasing her around for a change was exhausting and time-consuming. Some days she would rather fight Death Eaters, than deal with Sirius Black, and she was not kidding. She knew what to expect where Voldemort's followers were concerned, but with Sirius? She was always in the dark, and today was no exception.

"Marlene."

They stared at each other for a few painful minutes, trying to gauge the other's reaction.

"What about her?" Hermione relented hesitantly, but her hostile demeanour remained untouched.

"I want to explain why she is such a royal pain in the arse."

"I'm more interested in why she hasn't done anything recently, or at least attempted to. You too, for that matter." Hermione looked shrewdly at the young woman in front of her, as she attempted to ascertain what her angle was.

"Yeah, about that… Lily gave us a piece of her mind a while back, and Marlene knows better than to go against Lily." She paused, and Hermione had to snort at that. "What? She pulled out the big guns this time. What with threatening to sick the Marauders on us… Phew." Clearly that was too much, even for Dorcas Meadowes.

"And you just go along with anything Marlene says?" Hermione raised en eyebrow sceptically.

"It's… it's not like that. It's kinda complicated," Dorcas muttered distractedly, biting her lip in contemplation. Her fingers found an empty piece of parchment and started to tear of the corners.

"Then simplify it for me, I am quite curious." Hermione narrowed her eyes.

"I barely know how to begin…" More pieces were torn off absentmindedly, but she kept her eyes trained on Hermione respectfully.

"How about you start at the beginning? It usually helps," she said snippily.

"The thing about Marlene… well, she wasn't always like this. Sure, she has always been a bit of a bitch... but this past year?" Dorcas looked like she wanted to scream out in frustration.

"Her father died last year. I know Marlene knows more about it than she has told me. Frankly, it scares the shite out of me. This thing with You-Know-Who and his psychopathic followers, well, between you and I, I think she's frightened that her mother and sisters are next. Not to mention herself, especially since her mother has been reckless lately… The McKinnon family has always been rather outspoken." She paused to catch her breath, a grim expression settling over her features. Her gaze flickered briefly towards the window, but returned hurriedly back to Hermione again.

"I think all of us are terrified, and I know it's only going to get worse. Much worse…" Hermione bit her lower lip, and her eyes glazed over with worry. She knew exactly what was ahead of them, and apparently so did Dorcas. "And soon," she added.

"I know. That's why I'm going to become an Auror. I want them gone for good." Dorcas revealed. Her fingers stopped playing with the torn parchment, both hands flattening out on the surface of the table, where her fingers started drumming instead. She seemed unable to sit still, and whether it was due to nerves or a genuine disorder, she couldn't tell. She had never actually studied Dorcas and her habits before, preferring to stay away from her as far as humanly possible.

"I figured as much. I've seen you duel, and you can definitely hold your own. I sincerely hope you succeed… We are going to need people like you," Hermione said seriously. For the moment she disregarded her hatred for the witch, and decided to focus on what was truly important. She had no qualms about admitting Dorcas' abilities. The fact that she knew Voldemort had killed her personally, back in the original timeline, reassured Hermione immensely, knowing they had someone like her on their side, bitch or not.

"That's high praise coming from you," Dorcas said dumbfounded. Her eyes were wide with surprise, and Hermione had to hold back a laugh at the sight before her.

"I give praise where it's due. And when it comes to this war? I couldn't care less about our pointless squabble."

"Well, in that case I'm fucking thrilled you are on our side." Dorcas blurted out.

"Thank you. I suppose I'm not bad for a Muggleborn?" Hermione joked and gave her a small smile. The question wasn't meant to be degrading, especially since she was a Muggleborn herself, but most had a tendency to underestimate Muggleborns.

"You're a Muggleborn?"

"Yes." Hermione nodded.

"Fucking awesome!" This time it was Hermione's turn to blink in surprise. "I hope you are going to laugh in that sodding freak's face, when you take out Death Eaters left and right!" She looked positively giddy at the prospect. Hermione blanched for a moment, but the idea did sound rather awe-inspiring, to say the least, and oddly satisfying.

"Oh, yes, my goal in life; laugh in Voldemort's face and take down his army of mindless sycophants." The sad part was that she wasn't far of. Dorcas howled like a banshee. Hermione didn't know much about Dorcas, but she was apparently quite the character. Rude, crude and hilarious were apt descriptions.

"…And getting back at Sirius Black for good. I refuse to kick the pensieve before I have sufficiently gotten revenge on that prat." Hermione grumbled, distractedly running a hand through her stubborn curls. Even her hair was affected by him.

"Yeah… about that. That's actually another reason for Marlene's behaviour." Dorcas' expression turned serious again at the mention of Sirius.

"I figured as much," Hermione said wryly.

"She's had a crush on him for years. Bloody pointless if you ask me. That tosser isn't interested in anything but fooling around. Sure, they were quite close at one point, or as close as you get with Sirius Black. And I warned her time and again, but she just needed to have him anyway," Dorcas ranted.

"Fucking hell! She knew what she walked into! He told her, he actually flat out told her that she shouldn't expect anything from him, so if she wanted to fool around? That was on her." She brought a hand to her forehead and let it slide down over her eyes in pure frustration.

"But no, no, no… Who listens to Dorcas? Dorcas doesn't know shite. Dorcas is fucking brain damaged, and of course, then came the inevitable heartbreak. I think the whole bloody school heard her damn heart shatter to a thousand fucking pieces. So ever since that epic failure, she has antagonised every single girl he's been even remotely interested in."

"I can imagine." Hermione grimaced at the thought.

"Which brings us back to you." Dorcas eyed her strangely. "I don't think Sirius has ever shown a girl that much attention before."

"Has she seen the way Sirius treats me? Have you? Because, believe me, I could do without his attention."

"Any kind of attention is better than none at all," she shrugged.

"She needs to get her head checked." All Hermione managed was a flat and disbelieving stare.

"True, she needs help. This hatred isn't healthy, and she doesn't know how to get all of that anger out. She allows it to fester, and frankly, I'm scared shitless she will break down one of these days." Dorcas looked so heartbreakingly sad, and Hermione almost felt sorry for her. An awkward silence fell over them.

"Listen, I won't say I'm sorry." Dorcas began uncertainly. She was testing the waters again for some reason Hermione couldn't fathom.

"I don't expect you to," Hermione interrupted bluntly. She didn't care about her enough to expect – or want – an apology.

"Good." She sighed, relieved by Hermione's reaction.

"But I'm a bit curious as to why you won't." Hermione cocked her head to the side, looking curiously at the other witch after her quick and unexpected answer.

"Honestly? I don't see the point. It's just a word. People toss it around so much there's hardly any meaning to it left. I don't believe in saying sorry. I believe in showing it. Every tosser can say 'sorry', but being sincere about it? That's the hard part." She tugged at her blonde braid distractedly. "That's why I won't say it."

"Tha-" Hermione began uncertainly, but she was interrupted before she could answer her fully.

"Is she bothering you, Hermione?" Peter asked. There was a dark edge woven tightly into his words, and it caused both girls to start and look up sharply at the boy. For a moment Dorcas seemed anxious at the steely glare sent in her direction, uneasy and squeamish in a way Hermione had never seen her before.

"Bitch of a bastard, Pettigrew! You scared the crap out of me," Dorcas cursed, valiantly trying to ignore the hard look Peter gave her.

"Peter!" Hermione breathed shakily. His gaze swept over Dorcas in an assertive manner. There was a hard glint in his eyes Hermione hadn't seen before. That was definitely new. "No. Not at the moment."

"Nor will I. At least not intentionally," Dorcas said firmly. "I can't say the same for Marlene, but I think both of us already knew that." The constipated look Hermione shot her was proof enough.

"Well, I think I made my point." The screech from her chair scraping along the floor was deafening and uncomfortable, much like the whole encounter had been. "I'll see you in Potions." She gave an awkward little wave over her shoulder on her way out, her posture stiff and on guard. Apparently, Peter had rattled her cage more than she had initially thought.

"What was that about?" Peter asked, this time in a gentle voice. His body language changed the minute Dorcas was out of sight, and she found herself begin to unwind once he started to relax. His anger wasn't something she was used to seeing, and for some reason she couldn't help but feel a spark of fear in the pit of her stomach. Perhaps it was the fact that he never got angry. He never felt the need to, despite the fact that he actually had reason to more often than not.

"The complexity of the female mind," she mused quietly.

"Oh."

.


.

"Bitch of a bastard, Edwards! That looks deadly."

"That was rather the point, don't you think, Meadowes?" Hermione glanced down at her Draught of Living Death with satisfaction and pride. She knew it was perfect, and while the potion was initially part of the sixth year curriculum – as were Amortentia – the class had foregone these two potions the year prior in favour of a group project.

She had been mighty surprised when Professor Slughorn had demanded they make The Draught of Living Death, but she believed her Professor had been even more surprised of the fact that she didn't need her sixth year book to make it. Naturally, she hadn't her old potions book with her, and of course Lily had suggested they share hers, which Professor Slughorn had overheard. He had promptly offered one of the spare books from the old cupboard, but Hermione had taken one look at the both of them and had swiftly declined, saying it wasn't needed. Naturally, that had raised quite a few incredulous stares, but she had merely smiled as sweetly as she could, and then proceeded to gather the needed ingredients and equipment.

She thanked the stars she had read through Snape's potions book in her sixth year, before she had made Harry hide it in the Room of Requirement of course. Passing up words of wisdom was not something she was likely to do, even if said words were rather unconventional. Nevertheless, Hermione remembered the exact brewing instructions. It had been the first time she had been bested in Potions, and she would never forget it. It didn't matter it had been Harry, in fact, that only made it ten times worse. Although, had it been Malfoy, she might just have hexed him into the next century, or alternatively, thrown him to the centaurs. She was competitive and she knew it.

"No need to be a bitch about it." Dorcas shrugged non-caringly.

"Coming from you," Hermione quipped.

"What can I say? I strive to be a pain in the arse." She smirked, occasionally looking down at Hermione's cauldron of death with a mixture of respect and wonder.

"Believe me when I say, you are exceptionally good at being just that."

"Yeah, yeah. I'm a regular arsehole." She clicked her tongue.

"Your words, not mine." Hermione arched an eyebrow challengingly.

"Meh, what can I do?" She gave another uncaring shrug, and then went back to her own workstation without a care.

"What on earth just happened?" Lily asked dumbfounded. She had clearly overheard their little interlude, but had refrained from interfering out of curiosity, and in order to keep an eye on her own potion. Lily was looking flustered and frustrated, and Hermione knew the difficult potion was the cause. She had most likely looked the same back in her sixth year; only her hair had been a fright. Lily never seemed to have that problem.

"We had a little heart-to-heart earlier… I'm not really sure what to expect from now on."

"I'll say." She eyed Hermione speculatively.

However, they didn't get a chance to discuss the surprising encounter – even though Lily looked like she wanted to know every little painful detail about it – when Slughorn came to inspect their potions.

"Marvellous, just marvellous!" He bellowed merrily, and just about everyone in class turned their heads to look at the boisterous Professor. "I dare to say that one drop would kill us all, Miss Edwards." He looked ready to burst from excitement.

"Only once has a student managed to brew a potion of sufficient quality in all the years I have taught Potions here at Hogwarts," he addressed the rest of the class.

Apparently, not even Snape had managed it, yet, which left the question of who did. She had no doubt Snape was currently rectifying his mistakes made during class, and was probably in the middle of viciously jutting down angry notes on how to improve the potion in question. The rest of the class were a mix of jealousy and curiosity, especially because it meant she would receive that valuable little vial of Felix Felicis. It would definitely come in handy later on, but for now it wasn't all that important.

"I do hope you'll reconsider my invitation to our little club, Miss Edwards." She had gone out of her way to avoid ending up in the Slug Club again, but he was as persistent as Voldemort's refusal to die. The way he was looking at her right now, practically drooling at the prospect of having her as a potential shelf candidate, made her feel queasy and uncomfortable. She had no doubt he would love to show her off at one of his parties for a select few.

Lily shot her a pleading look, puppy-dog eyes and all. It was Harry's eyes staring pleadingly at her, those very same green orbs, gazing so dangerously innocent. It was unfair how well they worked, and the worst part was that Lily knew it all too well.

"My work schedule has been rather strenuous, but I believe it would be a nice distraction after all." She smiled sweetly at her pushy Professor, but she was cringing violently on the inside.

"Oh, dear girl, you have no idea how much that pleases me!" Hermione believed she knew just how much he appreciated her joining his little club. She was the top student of her year, just as she was before. Judging by the high standard this year presented, and the fact that she still held first place, really had Slughorn foaming at the mouth.

"Look for my owl, Miss Edwards." And with that he swept towards another student clearly in need of help, happier than she had seen him as of late.

"Thank you, thank you, thank you!" Lily threw herself at Hermione passionately, almost weeping in joy.

"I hate you just a little bit right now, Lils."

"No you don't."

"No I don't." She mumbled grumpily.

"You know, you could have helped me with that stupid potion." Lily grumbled once she let go of Hermione.

"Not a chance. If I had to suffer defeat on my first try, well, then so should you." She smirked deviously.

"Where is your sense of solidarity? Camaraderie? Lily loving?" Lily pouted.

"Lily loving?"

"Yes!" She smiled brilliantly.

"You have spent way too much time with James." Hermione grimaced.

"Don't say that, Hermione." Lily looked at her in horror.

"Fine."

"So, what are you going to do with your little vial of Liquid Luck?"

"No idea, yet. But I know it will come in handy at some point." She shrugged, and then started to clear her workspace.

"I suppose."

"By the way, Lily, I have been thinking-" Hermione began, but Lily interrupted her rudely.

"What a shocker." She rolled her eyes.

"Oh stuff it, Lils. It's just… I'm surprised there haven't been all that many pranks this year. All the stories I've heard always indicated, well, frequent disastrous events. Except for Sirius antagonising me, and a few harmless pranks here and there… well, I suppose I expected more."

"Oh, something is coming, mark my words," Lily complained under her breath and her eyes turned stormy. "Things have been way too quiet lately."

"Oh joy," Hermione rolled her eyes. "Something wicked this way comes."

"Trust me, we're in for a surprise… I know the boys, and they have been working on something. Something big."

.


.

Later that night…

"I thought you said he didn't do anything…" Lily fumed. Her left eye was twitching dangerously.

"I just assumed he didn't." Remus winced, and he was sure his voice cracked just a little.

"Clearly you assumed wrong."

At the sight of her wand, Remus fled the common room to seek refuge in the safe confines of the boys' dormitory.

He didn't look back.

.


.

December 1st, 1977

"Well if it isn't my knight in shining armour…" Hermione smiled delightedly at the sight of Benjy approaching her. His presence alone always made her smile, even when he was being a prat. "What brings you here this fine morning? To the midst of the Lions' den no less."

"Fear not maiden fair, for I have come to rescue you from these rascals you call friends." He smiled wickedly.

"Oi!" Sirius interjected sourly. He was clearly insulted and annoyed by the Hufflepuff's familiarity with Hermione.

"Sounds like a dangerous quest." She laughed, ignoring Sirius completely.

"Indeed," Remus muttered with a frown, looking curiously between Hermione and Benjy. He had a feeling Benjy was treading in dangerous waters, what with Sirius and Peter sitting nearby.

"Actually, I came to invite you to the Hogsmeade trip tomorrow. Corbin is more or less tripping over himself to get the new DADA book he ordered last time we were there. So, we thought you might want to join us." He offered with a roguish smirk. "At least I'll have someone to keep me entertained."

"And what makes you think I won't join Corbin in his mad search for books?" She arched an eyebrow. He paled instantly.

"Blimey, I did not think of that. And here I thought you might rescue me from Corbin's obsessive quest to find new books."

"Well, I suppose I could be your saviour for the day... Again." She bit her lower lip to keep from laughing.

"Which is something we don't talk about, remember?" He hissed, holding up two hands in defeat. She thought he looked ready to slap a hand over her mouth.

"Personally, I think the blue spots looked quite fetching on you." She smirked mischievously.

"I hate you just a little bit right now. You and Corbin." He pouted and crossed his arms over his chest childishly. He never failed to amuse her.

"He won't ever let you live that one down, will he?" She laughed charmingly.

"What do you think? He has the memory of an elephant!" He spluttered.

"Don't let him hear you say that," she stated calmly.

"So, when are we going?" Sirius butted in, and she could tell Peter was about to ask the same question. It was astounding how presumptuous they had become recently. She could barely move without one of them following her around as of late, and she did include Lily in that.

"No one invited you, Sirius." She turned to glare at him, anger swivelling in her brown eyes.

"Oh come on! Don't tell me you're still mad about the toilet accident?"

"Accident my arse!" Her nostrils flared dangerously, and she started looking around the table to find something suitable to throw at him.

"I was barely involved!" That earned him another withering glare from Hermione, and an amused snort from Remus, but he was not suicidal enough to comment. James and Peter wisely kept their mouths shut, too, for a change.

"Do I want to know?" Benjy dared to ask. He peered curiously at the rest of the Marauders, as if silently asking for an explanation. He was met with wary glances mixed with a bit of fear; it was not reassuring in the least.

"No!" She snapped harshly, and she had to take a few deep breaths before saying, "Benjy we are leaving, right now, before I murder someone."

"But I-"

"Shut it, we're going." She snapped irately. Without another word she rose from her seat, her movements harsh and quick. She yanked her satchel up from the floor, and hurriedly swung it over her shoulder, all too eager to leave the group of idiotic boys.

Sirius glowered at the couple as they walked away from Gryffindor table. Hermione held Benjy's hand captive as she practically dragged him off with her, stalking off in a huff as she often did whenever Sirius was involved. Before she got too far away, she quickly turned around to stick her tongue out at Sirius.

She had to wonder what happened to her maturity and logic.

It most likely went down the drain the minute she was introduced to Sirius Black.

.


.

"Why do I get the feeling Fenwick is going to get a nasty surprise in the foreseeable future?" Remus said, eyes twinkling with mischief. He did feel a smidgen bad for the poor bloke, but mischief won out.

"Oh, Mister Moony, you have no idea." Sirius glowered darkly.

"We're in," Peter said as he shared a knowing look with James, both nodding in agreement. Clearly they didn't appreciate Benjy's interruption either. Hermione had officially become the property of the Marauders and Lily, even if she didn't see it quite like that – or knew it, for that matter.

"Might as well join you then," Remus shrugged, followed closely by a tiny smirk. He knew things were about to get fun, even if it was at the expense of Benjy Fenwick.

"Any ideas?" James asked, his eyes flickering towards his fellow Marauders.

"Plenty."

.


.

"Can't sleep?" Lily asked blearily, as she sat up against the headboard in Hermione's bed. For some reason Lily found herself sleeping in Hermione's bed more often than not. After a particular bad nightmare where Hermione had woken up, sweaty and pale as death, only to bolt from bed to the bathroom, Lily had realized just how much of scar being on the run had left. That fateful night Hermione had emptied the contents of her stomach, and had let Lily hold her hair as she threw up. She always disliked physical contact after her nightly terrors, but Lily's comforting touch had changed something in her.

After Lily had helped cleaning her up, she had blatantly refused to go back to bed alone. She had pushed and pushed until Hermione relented and let her sleep in her bed beside her. She told Hermione about how Petunia and her had done the same when they were younger, sleeping side by side to keep the nightmares at bay. Lily knew it was different, but she forced her way into Hermione's bed nonetheless. Now it had become a bit of a habit, and Hermione wasn't sure what to feel about it.

Not that Lily slept there every night, just whenever she sensed a danger night was approaching, which she had become rather adept at sensing. As a result, Hermione found herself with noticeably less and less nightmares.

"No…" Hermione rubbed her tired eyes, but found no sleep waiting for her. "I'm tired as hell, but I just can't sleep." They had both tossed and turned for some time now, but sleep eluded them for some obscure reason. She sat up, too, against the headboard and nudged her shoulder against Lily's.

"Perhaps we should do something then?" Lily hinted slyly, and all signs of sleepiness disappeared in an instance. She glanced at Hermione from the corner of her eyes, and pushed herself further up against the headboard.

"Are you suggesting what I think you are?" Hermione bit her lip mischievously, eyes sparkling with mirth as her own drowsiness dissipated.

"That depends on whether you want to or not." Lily shrugged innocently, but Hermione saw right through her pathetic act.

"I'm game if you are," she said with a smile.

"Excellent." Lily rubbed her hands together in mad glee, effectively reminding Hermione of an evil mastermind about to execute a genius plan. She stopped abruptly and turned to look at her best friend. "Do you think the boys will find out?"

"It's likely with that blasted map of theirs." Hermione scowled, cursing herself for letting Harry keep the map and his cloak in the Mokeskin pouch Hagrid had gifted him with.

"I wish we had one, too, the cloak as well, now that I think about it," she sighed in defeat. "Also, it would be easier to keep track of them whenever they are up to no good."

"We could always try and make a map for ourselves... only we don't have much time for it. As for the cloak? That's a dead end, but we could use a disillusionment charm."

"A map would be good, but you're right. There's no rest for the wicked."

"How about tracking spells specifically designed for the boys instead?" Hermione pondered out loud, humming thoughtfully to herself.

"Can we actually do that?" Lily asked, her eyes wide with wonder and excitement.

"You forget who you are talking to, Lils," Hermione turned to look at her redheaded friend with a cocky smile.

"True... so true," Lily laughed wholeheartedly. "But no matter. How about a nice and long bath for the time being?" Lily said dreamily, envisioning the huge bathtub in the Prefects' Bathroom just waiting to be used.

"When are we leaving?" Hermione was quick to reply.

"Now. The girls are asleep, and it better be before I change my mind... what kind of Head Girl deliberately breaks the rules and go roaming the castle after curfew?"

"The best kind," Hermione smiled.

"You are a bad influence on me." Lily pouted.

"Not a chance, Lils, I blame it on the boys, and you were the one who suggested a bath... I was thinking more along the lines of a trip to the kitchens for a late night snack. That, and I have something to discuss with Auggy."

"Ooh, good idea, let's go there afterwards," Lily brightened up.

"And you were saying?" Hermione grinned madly, making her point as Lily slipped up.

"Hmm, Auggy was the peculiar little house-elf with a t-shirt and bracelets, right?"

"Subtle way to change the subject. Smooth." Hermione rolled her eyes.

.


.

"I really wish I had Harry's cloak right now..." Hermione groaned, hoping to Merlin Filch and his obnoxious cat wouldn't run into them. "Can't you nick James' cloak next time?"

"Do I look suicidal to you?" Lily whispered, and made an annoyed sound in the back of her throat.

"Oh please, he would gladly loan you his cloak if you asked... Although, you asking now would raise more questions than needed." Hermione pondered, and her expression fell once she reached her conclusion.

"I'm not supposed to know about it, if that's what you are getting at."

"No need to be grumpy."

"Oh no!" Lily whispered breathlessly, and she stopped right in her tracks, her hand reaching for Hermione's.

"What?" Hermione looked on in confusion, but immediately stilled at the contact.

"Peeves! Get down!"

Both girls ducked and hid behind one of the tapestries, narrowly avoiding being caught by the resident poltergeist. They stayed put for five more minutes, hearts firmly locked in their throats and shaking like leaves in the wind from the adrenaline rush.

"That was a close one." Hermione said breezily.

"Too close if you ask me," Lily said. "But kind of fun."

Hermione snorted in amusement.

"Sure. Fun."

.


.

After a thrilling journey to the Prefects' Bathroom, both girls let out two identical relieved sighs once they reached their desired destination. Stripping out of their clothes, they all but dived into large pool-like tub. Multi-coloured beams of water filled the tub and covered the two insomniacs with bobbles and coloured foam.

Both girls ducked under the water to wet their hair, and Lily scooted closer to Hermione in one swift move. Hermione started at the sudden move, but let Lily invade her personal space once more. Lily grabbed the brush behind her that she had brought with her, and then motioned for Hermione to turn around. No words were exchanged, but Lily could tell it was a little outside of Hermione's comfort zone.

"Does it bother you that I sleep in your bed?" She asked instead. Her hands lathered Hermione's hair with conditioner, and then began her impossible quest to untangle Hermione's bushy hair, curls, knots and defiance all rolled into one.

"Actually, no. I haven't had a nightmare since then." Hermione revealed with a frown. The thought only occurred to her now. She sighed deeply and started to enjoy the feeling of Lily brushing her hair.

"That's good," she hummed happily, smiling when she noticed Hermione began to relax against her hold.

"Yes, it is." Hermione closed her eyes and let her thoughts drift off.

"Where did you get that scar on your chest?" Lily asked carefully after a while.

"Oh this?" She looked down at her chest sadly. Right in the middle was a wiry little scar the size of a galleon. "Department of Mysteries back in my fifth year. Antonin Dolohov cursed me... I wasn't fast enough." Before the mood turned sombre, Lily decided to change tactics.

"I have scars, too... and while they may not be as exciting as yours-" Hermione snorted at this and turned around to face Lily, who let her hand go limb. "Hey! Just look at this one," Lily turned her upper body around as far to the side as she could. "This is the result of being cursed by Slytherins back in my second year," she grimaced. She scowled when she recalled the incident.

"I got caught up in an – what the boys still call – epic battle between the two houses." Hermione took a closer look at the white scar twisting up her ribs, and had to wonder what kind of curse would have done that.

"Well, it's nice to know Hogwarts hasn't changed one bit," Hermione said wryly. Silence fell upon them, but it was far from uncomfortable. They could relax in each other's company, and Hermione was usually most at ease when they were alone together.

"Would you mind brushing my hair, too?" Lily asked hesitantly with hopeful eyes.

"Of course not. Give me the brush and turn around." Hermione smiled timidly. The megawatt smile Lily gave her, however, threw her off-kilter for a moment. Hermione had never had this kind of friendship before. The boys could never have understood her like Lily did (or spent time like this), and Ginny and her hadn't been that close. Sometimes it surprised her how deep Lily had burrowed under her skin, embedding herself in her very bones like she belonged there.

But maybe that was the crux of it; she did belong there, just like the boys before her.

.


.

"Prongsie… It would appear Lily's having clandestine meetings in the Prefects' Bathroom."

"What do you mean?" James opened the top drawer of his dresser, firmly grabbing for a pack of Berti Botts multiflavoured beans. Popping one into his mouth, he turned to look at Sirius lying on his stomach, legs crossed and hovering in the air and moving back and forth every now and then. Sirius was smirking dangerously, and he looked entirely too pleased with himself as he studied the Marauders' map with great interest. Whatever he had discovered fascinated him more than it probably should.

"It looks like she's having a most enjoyable bath with a special friend," Sirius smirked, deliberately trying to rile up his best friend. Nearly choking on the off-putting piece of candy, James stalked towards Sirius, his steps fast and resolute. He would have trampled over a dragon at that exact moment if it had dared to stand in his way.

"WHAT?!" He shrieked, panic and anger and murder written in his eyes. "Let me see, NOW!" He all but ripped the revealing map out of Sirius' hands, viciously yanking their brilliant creation away, his eyes desperately roaming over the parchment with murderous determination. He looked like Moony during his monthly transformation.

"Padfoot!"

"I dare say she has left you for another woman," he said cheekily.

"What are you two on about?" Remus interfered, swinging his long legs off his own bed to join his friends on Sirius' bed, his curiosity getting the best of him. A few long strides later and he was the one to pry away the map from James' hold on it.

"Now that's a surprise, I'll give you that. And after curfew no less," Remus quirked a brow, lips twitching upwards. He smiled deviously, grinning at James' bewildered expression.

"What? What?" Peter asked, he too padded towards Sirius' bed with curiosity written all over him. "Is that Hermione and Lily?"

"Yep," Sirius said, emphasizing the p for extra effect. He looked much too pleased with himself and the unexpected scenario.

"Looks like they are standing, or sitting, pretty close to each other."

"Pads, whatever you are imagining right now, erase it from your mind right this instance."

"You're no fun, Prongsie," he pouted petulantly.

"Just do it," James grit out.

"Fine!" He said exasperatedly, rolling his eyes at the persistent look James sent him.

"Guys," Remus said, demanding their attention. "How about we take a little midnight stroll?"

He was met with three identical smirks.

.


.

"Well, well, well. What do we have here boys?"

Lily and Hermione froze instantly, both wearing deer-in-the-headlight expressions, and cursing the boys internally. They had hoped to avoid them, but fate seemed to have other ideas.

"That wouldn't happen to be your girlfriend, would it James?" Remus smirked attractively, tawny hair mussed and sticking out like James'.

"And Miss Edwards!" Peter exclaimed in mock outrage.

"I'm speechless," James shook his head, feigning disapproval at the sight of his girlfriend out after curfew.

"What would McGoggles say?" Sirius faked disappointment, hands going to his mouth as he gasped in mock outrage.

"And wet hair? Perhaps a trip to the Prefects' Bathroom?" Peter suggested with an impish smirk.

"Naughty, Naughty, Naughty." Remus wagged his index finger in disappointment.

"I miss Harry's invisibility cloak," Hermione muttered darkly under her breath, to which Lily could only nod and scowl.

"What are you doing here?" Lily bit out, annoyed as heck by the boys' presence.

"Same as you." James quirked a brow mockingly at the girls.

"Miss Hermy!" A little house-elf interrupted, directing everybody's attention towards her.

"Auggy," Hermione exclaimed happily, crouching down to hug the little elf. Auggy gladly accepted the hug with a big smile, golden bracelets dangling furiously around her wrists.

"Miss Hermy is not supposed to be up now," Auggy eyed her suspiciously once the happiness at seeing her friend subsided, but looked extremely pleased to have received a hug. Hermione looked over her shoulder from her half-sitting position on the kitchen floor to gauge the boys' reactions, then leaned in to whisper something in Auggy's ear.

"I have a favour to ask, will you meet me tomorrow?" Hermione asked softly so only she could hear it.

"Auggy will love to meet Miss Hermy tomorrow!" The little elf smiled.

"Miss Hermy, was it?" Sirius teased with a smile.

"You's must not tease Miss Hermy!" Auggy snapped at Sirius, giving him the stink eye. Sirius actually had the decency to blush at the vehemence in the little elf's words, and was quite obviously embarrassed at being told off by a house-elf.

"Alright, alright." Sirius held his hands up in obvious defeat. The rest of the Marauders could only laugh at the guilty expression he found himself with, a rare occurrence no doubt.

"Thank you, Auggy. Someone ought to put him in his place every now and then, since James seems incapable of doing it." Hermione smirked.

"Oi!" Sirius yelled insulted, and the others chuckled at his petulant expression.

"Miss Hermy mustn't tease either." Auggy made a tsk sound and went back to work. The kitchen was full of bustling house-elves preparing for a new day at Hogwarts. Plates and cutlery zoomed by every now and then in practiced paths, and Hermione found herself looking at the chaos they called order with a fond smile.

Hermione shook her head in amusement and rose from her awkward position on the floor.

"She's sweet, isn't she?" Hermione asked, looking at the back of the retreating house-elf. She clearly stood out, even among her peers, what with her pink t-shirt and countless bracelets.

"She's a house-elf." James shrugged nonchalantly.

"You shouldn't underestimate house-elves, James. Actually, neither of you should. They are powerful beings, who typically choose to submit to the will of others. Most are enslaved and never appreciated." She snapped at him.

"Alright then," James said, rubbing the back of his neck uncomfortably. Lily glared at him and his thoughtlessness.

"Anyone want ice cream?" Sirius asked to lighten up the mood. They all looked incredulously at him.

"What? I want ice cream." He shrugged.

.


.

"Hermione."

"Yes?"

"Tracking spells first thing tomorrow," Lily said before she laid down. She fluffed her pillow in annoyance and turned to look at the equally irritated Hermione.

"Agreed."

.


.

The second week of December was nearing its end, and things between Sirius and Hermione had finally quieted down in Gryffindor Tower, much to her and everyone else's relief. Students were worrying over midterms, and most seventh years were close to pulling out their own hair in desperation. Even the big bad Marauders were feeling the pressure weigh down on them.

"For Godric's sake! Have you lot gone mad? Go unleash a cage full of pixies in the Slytherin common room, or hide thestral dung in their beds. Anything! As long as you stop pestering me," she finally snapped. She might as well have been foaming at the mouth, going by the malicious glare she sent in their direction.

Sirius eyes lit up instantly, and in a moment of thoughtlessness he leaned forward over their shared table, grabbed her face in his hands and planted a fast kiss on her mouth. It was brief and chaste, yet the electric tingling caused her to start.

"Bloody brilliant!" He exclaimed. The anticipation and mischief was clear in his eyes. He hadn't even realized what he had just done, pulling a somewhat reluctant Remus out of his chair in all of his excitement. Remus clearly wanted to participate, mainly to let out some steam of his own after dealing with tests upon tests.

"Aren't you forgetting something, Pads?" James said skeptically, eyeing his best mate with a smirk plastered to his face, and slightly surprised at his rash actions. He would, however, let the kiss slide for now, as the potential pranking material took precedence.

"What?" He stopped right in his tracks, already halfway up the stairs to their shared dorm to grab a few essentials, namely the cloak and map.

James paused, a frown sweeping over his features. "The fact that we don't have any pixies."

"Damn, there goes that idea." He dragged himself over to the others again and slumped down in the chair he had previously occupied, disappointed to pass up on a perfectly good prank. Remus plopped down on the floor beside the frustrated wizard, his long limbs taking up much space, not even bothering to get back up on the comfortable sofa Sirius had so rudely yanked him up from. Hermione could see he was disappointed right along with Sirius, but oddly enough he looked more curious than anything else.

Perhaps a bit devious too, a look she had rarely seen on him, and he was staring right at her. Frankly it scared the heck out of her.

"I guess that means we'll just have to settle for annoying you two," Remus offered with a devilish smirk. Hermione's eyes widened comically, Lily's did too. She abruptly stood up, startling the unprepared Peter beside her.

"No. No. No. NO!" She yelled, her voice raising an octave with each word. "Godric damn it all! I have an important Arithmancy test tomorrow!" She shrieked loudly, making the boys wince in the process. "I'm sure you will finagle the password out of a Slytherin somehow, and if I tell you where to find the bloody pixies, will you just leave already?" She practically yelled at the group of irritating boys.

A few of the lower years sitting by the fire looked over in surprise, but said nothing as per usual. Some shook their heads, others muttered curses under their breaths at the unwanted noise, and then there was a few who perked up at the mention of releasing pixies into the Slytherin common room. They were definitely pranksters in the making, and the Marauders had no doubt been teaching them the finer points of pranking the past few months.

"And how, pray tell, would you know where to find pixies? At this hour no less…" Remus quirked a brow questioningly at her, daring her to reveal her dirty little secrets to their little group of troublemakers.

"And what's this about thestral dung?" Peter asked curiously, admiring the feisty brunette in all of her glorious fury.

"Wouldn't you like to know?" She huffed, taking a few deep breaths after her outburst. She sat back down in her seat, crossing her arms over her chest in a petulant manner. "Knowledge is power, boys. That's all I'm going to say."

"She's quite scary, mate," James said, as he rudely pointed a finger at her, briefly looking at Sirius.

"But brilliant," Sirius nodded eagerly.

Her heart nearly stopped at their assessment of her, having heard those exact words years ago by Harry and Ron. She felt a pang of hurt shoot right through her with no regard for her abused heart. Outwards she kept her emotions in check, but her inner turmoil was tearing her apart by the seams. Lily saw right through her though, she always did.

"Definitely worthy of Gryffindor," Remus readily agreed, his eyes twinkling with mirth. His words brought her out of her stupor, even if he wasn't aware of it. She was grateful for Remus' kind words, and she found them flattering considering they came from an original, full-fledged Marauder.

"How did you know it takes a password to enter?" Peter questioned, catching on to her slip-up. It might have been common knowledge back in her time, but here she was still new and had no business in the Slytherin dungeon, let alone their common room.

"Lucky guess?" She blew her wayward bangs out of the way, the tendrils loose from her agitated state. She had tried to contain her hair by pulling it up into a ponytail, insanely focused on revising before their big test tomorrow, but she should have known better than to trust her hair to behave.

"Somehow I doubt that very much," James said, trying to smooth down his dark hair, also trying to get some semblance of order in his rebellious locks. They could start a club based on disobedient hair. Perhaps she should suggest as much, she figured he might find the idea hilarious and declare himself president of their newly founded club.

"Believe what you want. Now, do you want to know where to find the pixies or not?" She sighed in resignation.

"Do explain about the thestrals dung before that… that definitely sounds promising," Sirius smirked, devilishly handsome as always. She disregarded the fact that he had kissed her in all of his excitement only minutes before. It would not do to linger on it, flighty and unpredictable as he was. She suppressed the electric feeling to the extreme, she disregarded it completely, and she had no wish to analyse it, at all. Everything was pushed down and locked away, with the key nowhere to be found.

"You know, thestrals?" She pressed, not quite understanding why they didn't catch on.

"I have no idea what that is…" James admitted with a displeased grimace.

"Neither do I for that matter," Peter said, also looking peeved at the notion of not knowing.

"Winged horses, skeletal body, white eyes and completely black…? Pulls the Hogwarts carriages from Hogsmeade Station to the castle each year?"

"Doesn't ring a bell…" Sirius shook his head, now watching her with scepticism.

"Oh…" She averted her eyes as the realization hit her. "You probably can't see them," she said sadly, eyes looking down at the carpet.

"I thought they were dangerous. I wasn't aware Hogwarts had a herd," Remus said curiously.

"Why can't we see them?" James whined childishly.

"Because you haven't seen death," it was Remus who clued them in, delivering a swift and precise answer she hadn't been ready to give.

"I think I'm going to bed now…" Hermione rose from her seat in a blink of an eye, packing all of her belongings, quills, parchment and heavy books. From the fleeting look she gave Lily, she looked ready to cry. The boys could only stare at her in surprise and horror.

"Oh, and there is a whole cage of freshly caught pixies in the DADA classroom. Professor Dearborn intends to teach the second years how to handle pixies tomorrow," she said monotonously, trying to keep her tears at bay. She didn't turn around as she said it, and left without another word, Lily not far behind.

.


.

"It's okay to talk about it, Hermione." Lily held her hands tightly in her own, sitting side by side on Hermione's four-poster bed, red and ugly curtains not yet closed, seeing as the room was void of nosy roommates.

"At some point it will get easier, but never doubt the fact that you will want to talk about it, and share stories of your friends with others some day." She paused to gauge Hermione's reaction, but only found her friend staring down at their intertwined hands, impassive and unresponsive.

"Even if some of the memories aren't pleasant… I know most of them are good, and I imagine there are plenty of stories the boys and I would love to hear all about, in time. You will allow your friends to live on by talking about them, allow them to be honoured and remembered. Because at some point you will start to forget the little things, no matter how much you hope you won't, no matter how much you cling to them." She stared intently at her friend, moving a delicate hand to brush curly bangs away from Hermione's pale face.

"Remember them, Hermione, and it's okay to be sad. I just hope you will be able to talk about them with a smile someday, without the pain crippling you."

"When did you get so wise, Lily?" Little drops of tears trailed down her cheeks from Lily's sensible words. It was almost too much for Lily to bear, to watch her friend so unhinged and heartbroken. She didn't deserve to know pain so intimately at such a young age.

"Pfft, dealing with Marauders tends to make you grow up. Godric knows, somebody needs to be responsible with them around, but I'm sure you already know that."

"I know the feeling," she offered a little smile, no doubt remembering how she always had to be the voice of reason. "You wouldn't believe how much trouble they got into, whether they wanted to or not."

"Oh, I can imagine. If Harry was anything like James, I know exactly what you went through."

Hermione squeezed Lily's hand reassuringly and gave her friend a small smile.

"Thank you, Lily."

"You are welcome, Hermione."

.


.

It wasn't more than a day later Hermione felt her barriers break down again. Little by little these Gryffindors managed to get under her skin, in a way Hermione hadn't counted on. Lately, the boys had been asking about her past, about Harry and Ron, and she had let a few things slip accidentally every now and then, so it was only natural they were curious. The night before was her own fault, and her talk with Lily had been well overdue, and she had spent the entire night thinking about her words. She had breezed through the Arithmancy test with ease, but her mind had been elsewhere. For once she hadn't even been nervous about the test. Lily had eyed her oddly all day, trying her hardest to snap her out of her brooding, but Hermione hadn't budged.

She needed to do this, and she needed to do it now. She had put it off for far too long, tried so hard to bury everything from her past, deep and dark within her mind. Greedily kept it all to herself. It wasn't healthy. Dumbledore had continuously hinted at it, Lily had flat out told her, and now she felt herself understand the severity of her refusal to open up. Understand what she was repeatedly denying herself.

The boys and Lily surrounded her every day, Benjy and Corbin offered her a beautiful friendship, and she felt loved like never before. This might not be what she had expected from life, but she was starting to see just how much joy and happiness, how much love that encircled her and kept her grounded each and every day. They offered her life and stories, memories and a promise of a future not quite so grim-looking as she had envisioned.

It was high time she let go and truly let them in.

There were a lot of things she couldn't tell them, that much was glaringly obvious, but she would tell them what she could. Tell them about her friends and everything they got up to over the years, tell them about her parents and her life before magic. There was so much she could tell them, but had adamantly chosen not to.

"Trouble always seems to follow me around." She rubbed the bridge of her nose, dreading what she was about to do.

"You?" Peter asked with a smile.

"I met you lot, didn't I?" She teased good-naturedly.

"Now that's just mean," Sirius drawled lazily.

"But true nonetheless," James agreed, smirking at the curly haired brunette.

"You know, before I met you it was really bad, I always had to bail out Harry and Ron's sorry arses. Dear Morgana, they were worse than wild dragons," she said with a wistful smile.

"Tell us something then…" Remus asked curiously.

"Hmm… You asked about the Polyjuice Potion earlier, so I'll indulge you for once," she said with a smirk that quickly turned into a frown. They had written an assignment on Polyjuice Potion earlier that evening, and she had unintentionally joked about not using animal hair, unless they wanted to stay a week in the Hospital Wing.

"In our second year there was a… conflict going around school. Harry was blamed for, or rather accused of, something he didn't do," she paused and made a mental note to remember to bring up the subject next time she had a meeting with Dumbledore; the basilisk had to go, preferably yesterday. How she could have forgotten that horror lying dormant underneath the castle was beyond her, but ignorance was bliss, wasn't it?

"The boys and I were trying to find the real perpetrators, obviously, and to do that we had to ask around, but that wasn't really a possibility since everyone stayed clear of us," she began slowly, considering her words carefully. She had to take care, to be mindful of what she revealed.

"That's when I discovered the existence of the Polyjuice Potion, and we all agreed it would be the best course of action, even if we had to wait a whole month." She smiled at the memory, sitting in the abandoned bathroom, every so often speaking to Myrtle who floated curiously through the walls and toilet stalls, happy that someone deemed it important to speak to her.

"Naturally, I was the one who brewed it – Ron would have ruined it in a matter of seconds – but to make a long story short; there was a bit of a mix-up. I will tell you this though, don't ever put cat hair in that horrid potion, and I do mean never." She shuddered violently at the pictures coming to the forefront of her mind, her time spent in the Hospital Wing relived in a split-second. That was one awkward explanation to give Madame Pomfrey.

"You brewed Polyjuice in your second year?" Peter exclaimed, his eyes were wide and looked ready to pop out of their sockets, his admiration for her clear as a day.

"Yes, why is that so surprising? I figured it was the best way to get results, and it made sense at the time." She shrugged non-caringly; it hadn't been that big of a deal. Obviously, she hadn't thought of it in years, what with everything else taking precedence.

"Other than the fact that it's a highly advanced potion most wizards and witches botch up regularly? Oh, yes, what could possibly be surprising about that?" Sirius drawled sarcastically, eyeing her with a mixture of scepticism and respect.

She gave them a blank stare as if to say 'have you met me?' and her eyebrow rose challengingly. The boys had to concede at that, but they were clearly impressed by her expertise at such a young age no less. It took a lot to impress the Marauders, and she felt a surge of pride rushing through her for accomplishing just that.

"How did you even get the ingredients in the first place? Most of them are hard to get by, especially for second year students," Remus asked curiously, his sole attention focused on her. Of course he caught on to that tiny little detail.

"I may have borrowed a few ingredients from our Potion Master's cupboard," she grinned. She had been rather devious at the time, and it had felt oh so good. "Without permission that is," she added as an afterthought, smiling at the notion of breaking into Snape's private stock, and most importantly; without getting caught. That was a victory in itself. Harry and Ron had been proud of her, and a bit disturbed they had managed to influence the straight-laced bookworm who usually held the rules in high regard, into doing something so sneaky.

"You broke into your Potion Master's supply closet?" Remus looked incredulously at her, eyebrows raised in surprise, as did the other three. Lily already knew most of her dirty little secrets, but she still looked peeved at the notion of her best friend acting like the Marauders.

"And you didn't get caught?" Peter asked warily.

"What did you expect?" She huffed insulted. She smirked at the boys for thinking her so naïve, and she felt slightly peeved at the notion. They should know better by now. "As if I would get caught," she scoffed at the ridiculous accusation. Lily's expression was by far the most interesting to Hermione. The poor girl looked horror struck while the Marauders looked like Christmas had come early.

"You say that without remorse. I should marry you right this instant!" Sirius squealed girlishly. She threw a crumpled piece of parchment someone had forgotten at his head, but the prat rolled out of the way before it reached him. She waved her hand at him, attempting to fend off his ridiculous statement.

"True that, my dear Padfoot. I James Charlus Potter hereby approve of your choice of bride," James held a hand over his heart, his head bowing. He had to correct his glasses once he looked up again, a dangerous smile present, and hair black unmanageable as ever. Lily picked up the discarded ball of parchment from where it landed by her feet, and promptly tossed it at her darling boyfriend. James scowled when it hit him right between the eyes.

"Nice throw, Lils," Hermione commended her.

"You are both ridiculous," Peter said to the boys, rolling his eyes at their stupidity. It seemed to bother him a great deal more than he let on, but Hermione had come to know the subtle moods of Peter Pettigrew, and it was clear to her that the dramatic display of pure idiocy really irked him. She ought to have a talk with him about this newfound resentment. It definitely wouldn't do any of them good.

"Perhaps, but I definitely approve of the mischief involved," Remus smirked, he wasn't so straight-laced as he would have most believe, but maybe that was why he was just as dangerous as the other three, if not more. They never saw it coming whenever he was involved. He was a bit of a wildcard even Lily couldn't predict.

"Tell us something more… I'm sure you have quite a few entertaining stories to tell," Peter asked captivated. He ignored Sirius' need for attention, and tried hard not to let his actions bother him.

"Maybe from your third year?" James suggested, eyes glimmering with interest. He still kept stroking Lily's arm tenderly from his seat on the floor, but his focus was exclusively on her. All four boys were hooked.

"Third year? Hmm… That was a difficult year for all of us. For one, my work schedule was extreme, more so than now if you can believe it. Also, someone was targeting Harry, or so we thought, and we really ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time." She flinched unintentionally. There had been so many things wrong with that year.

"How so?" Sirius asked, anticipating a new and exiting story from the secretive new addition to Gryffindor.

"Being the ever curious and unassuming teenagers that we were, with no regard for the rules whatsoever, we naturally had to investigate. To make a long story short, we ended up getting chased by a werewolf, sans wolfsbane potion… Not the best night for any of us, but certainly not the worst," she winced, remembering the horrifying howls resonating through the night, and the horrifyingly ice-cold darkness the dementors brought with them. She wasn't sure which was worst, nor did she wish to linger on it.

"But I must say, the night did end rather well, and it was definitely worth it," she nodded to herself with a sweet little smile, thinking of the emancipated Sirius escaping with an equally liberated Buckbeak in the dead of the night.

"You don't sound overly concerned about the fact that you were being chased by a werewolf," Sirius said, testing the waters. Barely noticeable to anyone who wasn't looking, all four boys shared a concerned glance.

"Oh, no, of course not. It's not like he could help it." She shrugged, unconcerned about the fact that she, at the tender age of fourteen, had been chased by a deadly werewolf through the Forbidden Forest, in the middle of the night, without anyone to help them. "As for the wolfsbane potion… let's just say he had a really rough night and had his reasons for forgetting it. I hold no grudge, he was a good man," she finished with a sad smile.

"You aren't the least bit bothered by this?" Remus wavered for a moment.

"No! Why on earth would I be? I have nothing against werewolves. They can't help it. Besides, I don't believe anyone would choose that kind of life for themselves." Her hand unconsciously went to her throat, tracing the silvery scar Bellatrix' knife had left, thoughts of Greyback coming back at full force. "Well, most wouldn't."

"It sounds insane…" Peter trailed off. He wasn't sure how to react to her tale. It seemed the more he got to know her the more amazing she became.

"Well, all of this was kept under wraps, it wouldn't do for the Ministry or others to find out. It was a very private school, you know, and somehow we always found ourselves smack in the middle of all the trouble, no matter what, each and every year," she droned on. She ran a hand through her riotous curls in exasperation. They had never had a quiet year deprived of mortal peril, and she had to wonder what normal felt like.

"Ever since the two of them saved me from a mountain troll in our first year…" she said with a pensive smile. She really should be more disturbed by the accident, but the ugly truth was that she wasn't, not in the least. Sure, the accident had been terrifying and life threatening when it happened, but it had given her the most important gift she had ever received. The whole ordeal had blessed her with two best friends, something she had never had before.

She had always been friendless, chased around her muggle school for being different and a know-it-all. Unbidden memories of Stranger-Granger and the bucktoothed swot always came to mind, but she found the unwanted thoughts diminish in numbers each passing year, the scars slowly mending. While her old memories of callous children were fading, mocking and downright cruel at times, there were now new scars to consider instead. She doubted the hole in her heart Harry and Ron had left would ever truly heal.

She didn't even get to say goodbye. One moment they were there beside her, granted they might have been fighting, but they were there – alive and close enough to touch – and the next thing she knew they were gone. Unseen as the wind passing by, and just as slippery. There were no bodies, nothing to hold on to except for the memories they left behind.

She barely even thought about the horrendous creature trying to kill her anymore, she had always focused on what it had given her instead. And sadly, the incident was far from the worst they had experienced over the years. The troll paled in comparison to fifth year and up.

"A mountain troll!? How the hell did you come about one of those?" Sirius exclaimed in outrage, eyes wide. All four of them shared concerned glances, shifting between looking at Hermione and each other. Lily remained passive throughout the entire exchange, choosing to focus on the boys instead, no doubt entertained by the boys' reactions. Hermione couldn't fault her for that.

"Someone let it into our school, and I so happened to be at the worst place ever at the worst time possible, and thus ended up trapped with it in the girls' lavatory… luckily the boys found me, otherwise I would have been dead." She shrugged awkwardly. "It was hilarious, really, how they knocked it out," she let out a breathy laugh.

"Honestly, Wingardium Leviosa?" She shook her head fondly, if a bit stumped at the idea of two first years taking down a full-grown mountain troll – with a first year spell no less.

"How can you joke about this?" Peter shrieked horrified.

"You get used to it. Being friends with Harry and Ron meant constant trouble. I could write a manual, a whole book, dedicated to the dos and don'ts where they were concerned." She shook her head at the absurdity.

"Sounds like someone really had it in for this Harry guy," James said, unsure of what else to say, but he had caught the gist of it.

"You have no idea." Her frown turned into a scowl, which then turned into pure white, murderous rage filling her up, up, up, her expression hard and menacing. It was enough to make even the bravest of Gryffindors cower in fear. The boys blanched at the foreign look sweeping dangerously over her, at loss at what to say. The normally warm and fuzzy common room suddenly dropped in temperature.

"I did my best to protect them," she said, fury racing through her, coursing through her veins, and even Lily had to flinch at the wrath Voldemort had awoken in her best friend. Her hair started to frizz, and static energy crackled around her dangerously.

"Well, spank my arse and call me Morgana… that was intense – and insane," Sirius broke the uncomfortable silence.

"Gladly, Padfoot… Do come over here," Remus smiled, obviously going along with Sirius' scheme to ease the tension.

"Moony my man, didn't know you swung that way." Sirius smirked.

"Only for you Sirius…"

"Oi! He's mine! I claimed him years ago, and I take offence to your advances Mister Moony," James interrupted loudly, and quite insulted.

"I feel so loved," Sirius sighed dramatically.

"Should I be disturbed by this?" Lily held back a laugh.

"Probably," Hermione chuckled. She couldn't help but love the boys, couldn't help but laugh at their crazy antics.

"Well, I'm off to bed," she suddenly said. She had had enough craziness for one night, and she needed to recuperate from the emotional outbreak. She had shared part of her heart, laid it bare for them to see, and it had drained her considerably.

She yawned tiredly, and then looked over at Lily. "Are you coming?"

"Sure," she smiled sweetly, and Hermione could tell she was proud of her. "Sweet dreams, boys."

"See you tomorrow," they hollered after the girls as they neared the staircase.

"By the way, if you ever need thestral dung, I would be more than happy to oblige. As long as it ends up in the Slytherins' beds of course," Hermione called over her shoulder, with a devious smirk to boot.

"Seriously, guys. One of you needs to marry her." James stated once the girls were gone.

.


.

"Pads,"

"Yes Prongsie?"

"What exactly are you playing at?"

"What do you mean?" He frowned at his best mate, clearly not following his line of thought.

"Hermione."

"Oh." Sirius' expression became guarded, which baffled James quite a bit.

"Yes, oh."

"She ignored me," he whined pathetically. "She completely and utterly disregarded my presence! As if I was some snobbish Ravenclaw trying to outsmart her in class!" James eyed him oddly before the words truly registered and his eyes went wide.

"No! She ignored you? You? My unforgettable little jester? What has the world come to?" He looked appalled and ready to faint, hand flying to his mouth in mock-outrage.

"Damn straight!" Sirius huffed, eyes narrowing at the memory of her sitting there, studying for Astronomy without a care in the world, not even bothering to acknowledge him.

"It's a tragedy! A right travesty I say!" James continued, bumping into Sirius, head leaning against his friend and his hands crossed over his heart in pure agony.

"Most unheard of!" Sirius played along, ruffling James' unruly hair as he tried to gently push him away. James was rather heavy.

"Impossible!" James straightened up, but then latched onto Sirius' arm instead.

"Well, Jamesie, it appears to be improbable, rather than impossible, and in this case very probable," Sirius offered wisely.

"The audacity… I am shocked to my very core," James let go of Sirius' abused limb to push up his glasses after his dramatic display of affection. "No wonder you have gone all out."

"Exactly," he nodded in agreement, lazily glancing at James as they walked side by side.

"In that case, mate, continue what you are doing. I'll deal with Lily."

"What does Lily have to do with anything?" Sirius looked alarmed at the mention of Lily.

"Oh, right. She asked me to tell you to lay off and control your 'weird urges', as she put it. I imagine Hermione is driving her mad with all the temper tantrums you are causing."

"Awesome. Annoying two for the price of one, and unintentionally at that!"

"I would congratulate you, but as it so happens… I am the one who has to listen to Lily's complaints." Sirius had the decency to look sympathetically at his best mate, instead of looking smug, as he normally would have done. "Just tone it down a bit, that's all I'm asking. But seriously, do continue. No one ignores my precious little jester. It is law."

"Oh, I don't intend to stop anytime soon." The cat-got-cream look in Sirius' eyes said it all, and James actually felt (a little bit) bad for their newest friend. It had been a long time since Sirius had acted so childish and, oddly, focused. If he didn't know any better he would say Sirius fancied her, but no… that couldn't be it. Or could it? Sure, Sirius had liked girls before and had chased them around for a time, but that was in a very different way.

James tried a new tactic instead. He needed to test out this new theory of his.

"Any new birds lately?"

"Meh…" Sirius clicked his tongue uninterestedly, and then frowned at the unexpected question.

"But you always kiss and tell, mate, indulge me," James said exasperatedly, patiently waiting to hear about any new conquests. While Sirius wasn't the manwhore they always joked about, he had still had his fair share of girls over the years. He usually dated them for a month or two, sometimes only a few weeks, but never the same girl twice. Once they got too close, he was out of there faster than they could say Quidditch. It was fun while it lasted, but that was it, and the girls knew what they walked into.

However, James was hooked for the time being, and Sirius' answers might answer some of James', he just had to play the cards right.

"Nothing to tell, haven't exactly had the time," he shrugged, apparently unconcerned. It hadn't really bothered him, evidently, he had barely even thought about it. James could tell that much.

"Say what again?" James head whirled around to face him, eyes wide and unbelieving, taken aback by Sirius' admission.

"I mean it, James… Between chasing Edwards, planning our Christmas surprise, and our bloody N.E.W.T's , I'm feeling rather swamped. Even I've got limits," he admitted grudgingly, grumbling under his breath at the unfairness of it all.

"True." He glanced at Sirius while they rounded a corner in the empty corridor. "Though, that never seemed to stop you before.

"N.E.W.T's are important, and I take them very seriously," Sirius said earnestly and scowled at the profound lack of time.

"Funny how that is what you choose to think about. One would think it would be easier to disregard the-Edwards-chasing you are currently doing, than thinking the N.E.W.T's to be the otherwise disposable part," James observed wisely.

"Huh." He stopped in his tracks. "But she's just so entertaining… it would be a shame not to. That reminds me… any new ideas how to annoy her?" He brightened up considerably. James knew he would have wagged his tail in excitement, had he been in his Animagus form.

"You need to get laid, Paddy, this is taking up way more time than needed." James tried, desperately hoping to gain more details. He was certain Sirius had no idea of what he was currently doing, and more importantly, what he was feeling. James remembered his younger years where he had tormented Lily in every way possible, only to discover later on that the reason why he did it was because he actually liked her. When he finally realized it himself, Sirius had laughed at him so hard he actually hyperventilated, saying he was the most oblivious person he had ever known, and then proceeded to call him the King of Idiots.

"Just because you aren't getting any." Sirius rolled his eyes, though James saw it for what it truly was; he was desperately trying to deflect the unwanted attention.

"Who says I'm not getting any?" James quirked a brow at him, then pushed his glasses back up for the umpteenth time.

"Well, are you?" He waggled his eyebrows suggestively, daring his best mate to contradict him.

"No, but that's not the point…" James conceded, glaring at Sirius as he hit his shoulder. This was not how the conversation was supposed to play out.

"Whatever you say, Prongs." Sirius smirked.

"Hey! I resent that! It's not like we haven't done it before…" He trailed off, blushing a bit.

"I know that, so what's the bloody problem?"

"Do you have any idea how hard it is to find decent place to shag these days?"

He gave James an are-you-mad-you-stupid-tosser look, and then said, "Prongsie, one word; creativity. Your lack of it is astounding, you should be ashamed to call yourself a Marauder."

"Easy there, Paddy… Maybe I just need examples oh almighty Sex God (1)! I demand you share your wisdom with your devout worshipper right this instant."

"Finally, I get the respect I deserve. Bow down to the mighty God of Seduction," James actually got on his knees, his arms moving in synch with his bowing motions. He didn't stay down for long, though. James smirked at him from his position on the floor, as Sirius looked pleased by his best mate's antics. He offered a hand to James, which he took straightaway, easing himself off the cold stone floor. He nearly tripped in his long school robe, but Sirius kept him steady and grinned almost maniacally at him.

"That's more like it!" He thumped him on his back. "Well, I guess you have earned the right to know. Let's see… Abandoned classrooms for one, very good for nightly escapades," he nodded, obviously very pleased with himself. "Storerooms and cupboards are ideal for romps or snogging in between classes. Then we have the dorms-"

"I thought we agreed on no birds in our dormitory?"

"Their dorms, James," he rolled his eyes at James, offended he would stoop so low as to think he would go back on his word.

"Oh, right," James rubbed the back of his neck nervously, giving Sirius a sheepish look.

"I really wouldn't recommend the lavatories, though, messy business," he wrinkled his nose in distaste. "But I reckon you and Evans could go for the Prefects' Bathroom, since you have unlimited access and all…"

"N-" James was about to defend himself when Sirius interrupted him. "And if you are going to use time as an excuse now, I might just have to spank you."

"Sounds kinky," James whistled.

"I heard no denial in that sentence, which means I'm right."

"You haven't got the time either."

"Low blow, mate. Low blow." Sirius grumbled irately.

"Well, let's not dwell on it. I say… Shall we go find Peter and Remus? We've still got some planning to do." James changed the subject smoothly, figuring he wouldn't get through to Sirius anytime soon. With Sirius everything was a work-in-progress and proceed with care.

"Yep," Sirius considered James for a moment. "Do you think we should be nicer to Peter? I mean, Remus got a point, we don't really include him enough."

"Probably. Though, he has been different lately, more fun," James said.

"I suppose. But he's always with the girls now, or off studying with Remus," Sirius whined; only now realising their faithful little follower had all but abandoned them recently.

"True… So we're in agreement where Peter is concerned then?" Sirius nodded.

"One more thing, Prongsie!"

"What?"

"He is still banned from the bathroom in the mornings." By the way Sirius looked at James, he knew he meant business.

"Agreed," there was no hesitation, his answer swift and precise in a way that left no room for argument.

"That's our very manly girl-time," Sirius nodded.

"Right you are, Paddy."

"We'll never hear the end of it if the girls find out." He shuddered.

"Let's hope they don't," he nodded in consent. "It's not our fault our gorgeous black locks takes time to manage."

"Mate, you're delusional if you think your hair is manageable." Sirius eyed James knowingly, a smirk plastered to his face.

"It's part of my charm," James smiled devilishly.

"I'll grant you that."

"Now, let's go get our fellow Marauders!"

.


.

"I mean, why wait for the best till last? Doesn't make any sense if you ask me," Sirius gestured wildly with his hands, almost hitting Remus in the process. Remus swatted his hand away, but otherwise didn't scold him.

"I know, Pads, it's just, why wait for the best part of a meal? By the time you actually get to the good part, you're usually full and not at all capable of appreciating it."

"Exactly!" Sirius erupted exasperatedly.

"Makes sense, I guess," Remus shrugged, following their ridiculous conversation.

"True, but the saying doesn't apply to everything…" Peter trailed off, joining the banter for once.

"No, definitely not," James shook his head. "I mean, just look at Lily and me. I waited and waited,"

"And waited!" Sirius supplied happily.

"And waited!" Remus joined in.

"And then she finally came around…" Peter said, clearly remembering the day the beautiful redhead finally succumbed to James' pathetic attempts at courting. At first it was a happy day for all of them, most thinking the whining on James' part was over for good, only to find out it would never stop.

"My Lily-flower," he took her hand, bashing his eyelashes dramatically at her. "You were worth waiting for."

"What are you up to?" Lily narrowed her eyes. "What have you done this time?"

"Now that's just insulting, mate," Sirius looked at James, taking offence to Lily's lack of faith in her boyfriend. "So little faith…"

"Can you really blame her?" Hermione supplied, scrutinizing Sirius with great interest, and had he been a lesser man he would have shrunk under her venomous stare. She was well aware of the fact that they had most likely done something incredibly stupid again.

"Absolutely not," Remus' reply came promptly. Both Sirius and James glared at their traitorous friend, whereas Peter just laughed at their affronted looks.

Still holding Lily's hand, James turned his attention back to his girlfriend.

"So what exactly did you do?" Hermione asked curiously, interrupting James before he could so much as utter another word. The prat actually glared at her, before –once again – turning his attention back to Lily.

"You see, my Lily-flower, I- urgh- we may have…" And that was where Hermione stopped listening, letting her face drop into the palms of her hands, toffee curls whirling around, deliberating whether she should laugh or cry at their stupidity. One of these days she would suggest having them admitted to the Janus Thickey Ward at St. Mungo's. Lily would wholeheartedly agree, perhaps she would even escort them there herself.

"JAMES CHARLUS POTTER!"

Crikey, it felt like home.

.


.

AN: Well, hello again. Missed me? I definitely missed you ;)

Now, I hope the chapter was to your liking, but as I said, this served more as a filler. A little light-hearted fun and a look at their everyday life at Hogwarts. The next three chapters are going to be intense, and I am SO exited! (And clearly I just can't hide it).

Again I would just like to express my gratitude… THANK YOU for all the lovely REVIEWS, FAVOURITES and, of course, FOLLOWS. I mean seriously? 619 follows? 308 Favs? 256 reviews? OMG! I love you guys. This is more than I was ever hoping for.

(1): The Sex God joke is just that – a joke. I've read quite a few stories where 'The Slytherin Sex God' or something equally ridiculous is an important characteristic where one of the male main characters are concerned. I resent this, it seems childish and completely unrealistic, or is that just me? Anyway, in this story it is a mere joke, never ever forget that. 'Nough said.

MUCH love,

Winnie