The roar of Sirius's motorbike engine was almost deafening, but it did not compare to the pounding of James Potter's own blood in his ears as they touched back down to solid ground again. They had just had a narrow escape from a group of death eaters and a pair of muggle law enforcement officers. He cringed to think about what his father would have to say when he heard about what happened. Surely the ministry would have to dispatch someone to alter the memories of the two muggles involved? They hadn't had much choice but to levitate that car otherwise those death eaters could have slaughtered all of them. There were dark times ahead, the war had now officially been going for 7 years and Voldemort along with his followers were getting stronger by the day. The wind was pulling the skin on his face tight against his jaw. With gritted teeth he squinted his eyes in an attempt to see what was in front of them. He could barely make out the street signs in the dark as they passed them.
"Padfoot! Where are we?!" James yelled from the side car. Sirius pulled the bike over onto the side of the road and cut the engine.
"Umm... Some place called Cokeworth... I think. That's what the last sign said. Or at least that's what I think it said; it was pretty faded." Sirius replied and pulled a map from his jacket pocket. "Yeah we're in Cokeworth."
"Dad is going to bloody kill the pair of us you realize? That's if mum doesn't get to us first. Why did I let you talk me into this tour around England anyway?" James groan holding his hands over his eyes.
"Because I got left with a shit load of gold thanks to uncle Alphard. So I now own my own place, bought a motorbike and this road trip is my way of dealing with my grief. As my friend it is your job to look after me." He replied smartly.
It was true James had to admit. Sirius had been a shaken mess at first by the loss of his Uncle Alphard, who was the only member of the Black family to maintain contact with him other than his cousin Andromeda Tonks. But since he'd purchased his own flat in London and the motorbike he seemed to be much better now; or maybe that was all just part of the distraction. Sirius was known for showing few emotions when upset: anger and lust. Perhaps the new financial security and freedom he had been given had helped resolve some of Sirius's pent up feelings of resentment.
"We can find somewhere here to stay overnight to let him cool off a bit and go home in the morning, alright?"
James sighed and nodded in agreement as Sirius restarted the bike and pulled out. The majority of the streets lights were broken or extremely dim as they traveled further into the town. They passed a disused mill with a tall chimney and there were several streets of identical brick, terraced, houses one after the other. They seemed to have reached the outskirts of the small town when the bright word 'VACANCY' stuck out clearly. Sirius pulled into the car park of the gloomy Railview Hotel. Approaching the office, the hotel seemed just as dilapidated as the rest of what they had seen of the town. They knocked lightly on the door and were greeted by a middle aged woman in a dressing gown and fuzzy slippers. She seemed startled to see two young men standing in her front reception.
"Can I help you boys? Lost are we?" She noted the map sticking out of Sirius's pocket.
"We certainly hope so. We've been travelling all day and need a place to spend the night. Could we have a room please?" James asked. The woman raised her eye brows in surprise.
"We got quite a few truckers in tonight but we have rooms available. All of them have showers but room 17 has a bath. Which do you prefer?" She became suddenly business like, but it was hard to take her seriously in a gown and pink fuzzy slippers.
"17 please. How much for the night?" James asked pulling out his wallet thankful he was at least somewhat familiar with muggle currency thanks to Remus Lupin.
"£100 for one night, any other nights you stay only £50." The woman offered. Sirius beat James to it, pulled out a £100 note from his pocket and handed it to her.
"We'll put down for the night for now thanks. But we will let you know if we plan to stay longer." She handed over the room key and a small carton of milk and pointed in the direction of their room.
"Your room's down tha' there corridor. Can't miss it."
They collected their belongings from the bike on the way to their room. The decor of the room was quaint, wooden floor on the kitchenette and bathroom and faded red carpet everywhere else that matched the faded drapes. It was clear the place was weathered and could use a little tender love and care. There were two bedrooms; the main one in the same room as the kitchenette which had a queen bed and a tiny crooked bedside table. The smaller bedroom had two single beds pressed against the wall and a mirror. Other than that there wasn't much to it.
"You take a single, I've soooo got the queen. I'll get breakfast tomorrow." Sirius yawned laying back spread eagle on it. He didn't even bother to get beneath the covers or take off his clothes and was snoring softly in no time.
Too tired to complain or argue with him, James staggered into the smaller room. However, he did bother to remove his shoes and pants before climbing into bed beneath the covers. Despite how hectic the evening had been it seemed that all the adrenaline had finally exhausted itself and sleep overcame him quickly, he was out like a light.
James felt drowsy when he was awoken by Sirius shuffling around the next morning. It took a few seconds for his brain to catch up and register where he was and what it was that brought him there. Once he realized he groaned, he was definitely going to have to deal with his dad today. It made him feel sick. He swung open the door to see Sirius with a mug of tea in his hand leaning against the sink
"Right Prongs, I asked the old woman downstairs and she reckons there's a nice little bakery down the street. Fancy going there for breakfast?" Sirius called cheerfully.
"Sure, I don't really care" James grumbled back at him. How could Sirius to be so chipper with everything that was about to happen. His stomach growled and he had to admit if only to himself that he was in fact hungry. "What are we going to do about my parents? And the ministry?"
"Already sorted Prongs old buddy. Your dad owled late last night. You slept through it pretty boy. Turns out our assailants were knocked out cold and their wands shattered on impact with the car, rendering it impossible to see what the last spell was they used. The best part is the muggles were so stunned all they could say was 'flying' by the time the ministry representatives got there they death eaters with brooms and the ministry took it as that and they wiped the muggles memories on the spot. Your dad and the ministry for that matter has no idea about our involvement. He just owled to let us know about the arrest and to keep our heads low with death eaters hanging around the midlands! How brilliant is our luck?!"
James felt like he must had swallowed a whole flute of Felix felicis to have had such luck and swallowed the lump that had formed in his throat. The marauders had gotten away with some shenanigans over the years at Hogwarts but nothing like this. He felt lighter than air, the sickening feeling had left him and only hunger remained.
"Then what are we waiting for! I'm bloody starving!" He grinned, springing out of bed and changing into a fresh and clean set of clothes.
The woman from the hotel hadn't been lying when she had said 'little bakery' because it was tiny. It looked like it could only hold about 5 or six people in one sit in. At a guess that was the most it ever had to cater for in one sit-in. It was mid-morning and James and Sirius were the only ones there, the man behind the counter seemed thrilled by the prospect. He had a big grin on his face and dusted his flour covered hands on his apron.
"Welcome lads what can I get ya?" He chirped
"My buddy here will have the bacon and egg pie and I'll have 2 sausage rolls, a doughnut and a caramel slice please" Sirius ordered, his mouth watering and his eyes clearly bigger than his stomach.
"Pig" James muttered playfully under his breath, Sirius just pulled his tongue out at him in retort.
Lily groaned as she leant out of bed and squinted at her alarm clock, 7:15am on a Saturday. School days sure that's just fine, but weekends? No, just no. She did not want to be awake right now. She stretched and almost crawled out of bed and headed for the shower. It was 8 o'clock by the time she was dressed in order to head downstairs for breakfast where her father was already in the kitchen.
"Morning Lily. Work today?" He asked putting on the kettle. Lily nodded yawning. "How busy?"
"Same as usual, not very. We got a couple of truckies in; I'll be home by 11.30 latest." Lily replied, her voice giving away her worry.
"At least it's something love and you get all your afternoons off."
"I guess but we could do with the extra money" She replied glumly.
Lily honestly didn't know how her dad was going to manage to afford her stuff for Hogwarts that year; it was tough times at the moment when it came to the money side of things. Her mother had passed away a few years previously so it was just the two of them. Especially with Petunia only flicking back and forth from London a couple of times to visit and putting in Jack all when she ate all the food in the house.
"Don't worry yourself about money poppet, we'll manage. We always do." Her father said giving her a kiss on the cheek.
However, Lily still couldn't help but worry. If her dad got laid off again... they were fucked to put it blunty. She said her good byes and left for work. She was hoping that her boss Mary would be in a relatively pleasant mood, even if it was wishful thinking. She arrived at the hotel a good ten minutes early for her shift, so she collected her uniform from the hook in the linen room and started loading up the linen trolley.
"Morning Lily." Mary called as she was bustling about in the laundry.
"Morning Mary. Where am I starting?" Lily replied attempting to keep her tone pleasant and hide the almost resentment she felt.
"1, 2, 4, 5 and 7 have left. 11, 12, 14 and 17 are services. Two boys off the street last night; don't seem much older than you. Back packers by the look of them. They're in 17, they've paid for another two nights. But I don't think they'll stay that long"
"Wow 3 nights in total?!" It was a rare occurrence for anyone to stay two nights unless they were truckers passing through on a long haul, let alone three.
"Yup. They didn't have a car or anything just that death trap of a motor cycle. Doesn't surprise me you bloody lot are all irresponsible now-days"
"Well that's good for us then, see you later" Lily replied quickly and tried to get away before Mary leapt into one of her lectures but she was too slow.
"Make sure all the cables are tucked nicely under the bed!"
It would never matter to Mary how good a job Lily did, the old bat would always find something to criticize Lily about whether it was her work, personal life or even just her generation. Lily moved through the cleans in no time as truckers never made much mess; they just slept and left again, didn't even use the shower. Which Lily supposed was gross but it meant less hard scrubbing work for herself to do so in that respect she was happy. The services were just as easy. Even room 17 which was pleasantly surprising since it was two teenage boys were staying. The beds were made; although not perfectly, other than that the room was spotless. So she re-made their beds neatly and replaced the towels.
"How bad were the boys?" Mary asked when she rolled the trolley into the linen room and began to restack it at 11am.
"Surprisingly good actually." Lily replied happily.
"Alright, see you tomorrow then. 8.30 start again. Don't be late"
"Sure thing, see you." She bolted through the door as fast as she could.
"So what are we going to do Prongs?" Sirius asked as they finished breakfast.
"I don't know wander around I suppose. There must be something to do around here." James replied "Excuse me... Sir? What do most people do around here for fun?" he asked the man behind the counter.
"Well there's the community football league, but the next game isn't until Thursday. Other than that not a lot. I know the young ones like to throw parties in the empty factories from time to time. But it's never the same one they keep it all fairly hush hush from us oldies. Sorry lads" He apologized.
James thanked him and got up to leave. "Come on Padfoot; let's see if we can find some people who can speak our language hmmm?"
"Party?" Sirius questioned eagerly.
"Party" James replied with a smile.
"I dunno Prongs I don't think this place can handle us." Sirius grinned.
"I'm sure they'll manage."
They left the bakery and wandered the streets around the bakery, trying to find someone, anyone. But the further they travelled and the more they searched the more that this place appeared as a ghost town. They had lost track of the amount of foreclosure signs and boarded up houses and businesses they had witnessed. It was as though someone had sapped all the life out of this tired little mining town and it was on its last wobbly leg. It saddened James to see that this town was in just a dire state as the wizarding world. The muggles were going through hardships just as much as they were.
"No party by the looks of things Prongs" Sirius said glumly
"Where do you suppose everyone is?" James asked as they continued walking down a street called Spinner's end. Where the worst of the poverty seemed to have hit. But he was barely listening to Sirius's voice as he heard another sound in the near distance.
"My guess? Left this dump. I mean look at it everything is shut down, abandoned... who wouldn't?" He replied "Prongs? Hello earth to Prongs!"
"Hush!" James scolded and strained his ears. "Do hear that?"
"Hear what?" Sirius grumbled
"It sounds like someone crying." James said. They walked a little further along the road until they reached a rundown children's playground.
Even this looked miserable and playgrounds were supposed to be somewhere you found joy no matter what was happening elsewhere, but there were no happy screaming children here. The slide was broken, a gaping hole in the middle of it. The see-saw had missing seats. There were two swings, one was snapped it half and the other was occupied by a young woman no older than twenty sobbing at the top of her lungs. The woman was thin with blonde hair and her pale eyes were swollen from tears.
"Are you okay?" James asked kindly approaching her.
"Does it look like I'm okay?" The girl spat back at him, her voice like venom on her tongue.
"Well no that's why he asked" Sirius said rudely, sitting beside her on the ground. James not knowing what to do decided to join him.
"Piss off!" She scowled, even if she hadn't been crying James didn't think she wasn't exactly pretty and her personality seemed to prove it.
"Not until you at least tell us why you're crying."
"Because of my rotten sister happy now? I announce I've just bought a house and I'm getting married at Christmas and she has to ruin everything by saying she got head girl at her stupid school. My Father was thrilled by that more than my wedding, of course I was left ignored. It's not like I wanted her at my wedding anyway."
"Well that wasn't very nice, but isn't that a little harsh? Not wanting her at your wedding." James tried to but in softly.
"You don't understand what it's like! She's so... so... urgh she's just so aggravating. The whole world revolves around her because everyone thinks she's so perfect! I moved out with my fiancé to get away! If I didn't have to come back to see my dad I wouldn't even be here" She sniffed miserably, there was a detected a hint of jealousy in her voice.
"I know what that's like. My parents think the world revolves around my brother" Sirius added "I hated them so much I just walked out. I used to live with this guy" He said gesturing to James. "But now I have my own place in the very heart of London. You want my opinion? Go back home to your fiancé pet and plan your dream wedding. Fuck her. If you don't want her there, then that's your choice. It's your big day"
"You're right" She sniffed. "Fuck her. I'm going home to Vernon." And with that she got up and stormed off.
"Well gee no thank you necessary" Sirius huffed. James only laughed.
"Good on you mate"
"Hey Hun, how was work?" Mr. Evans asked as his youngest daughter walked in the front door.
"Fine" She replied.
"Your sister is here... She's up in her room" he said carefully. He knew Petunia and his youngest daughter weren't on the best of terms and last time she was here it resulted in a fight about Petunia not pulling her weight around the house whenever she was home. "She's brought Vernon" That didn't make things much better and Mr. Evans knew it.
"That's nice" Lily responded biting her tongue. In Lily's opinion Vernon, Petunia's boyfriend was an absolute pig. Both in looks and in personality, she couldn't stand to be in the same room as the arrogant young junior executive that Petunia had unfortunately met during her typing course in London.
"Hungry? You want some lunch?" Mr. Evans asked trying to diffuse the tension that had ignited in the room.
"No thanks" Lily replied having lost appetite at the mere thought of her sister and the pig upstairs.
"Okay then dear... An owl brought you a letter while you were out. I left it on your bed. It has a wax seal on it." He teased, knowing how excited Lily got whenever anything ever arrived with news from the wizarding world.
While it filled him with pride that his daughter was happy that she was different and special it also broke his heart. As time went on he knew she was living her more in the wizarding world than in his. Ultimately at the end of this school year he knew that she would be moving on and up in the world and it would be there and it would be without him. Wax sealed letters only meant one thing. Hogwarts! Lily raced upstairs to her bedroom and snatched the letter off from the bed.
Her father was right; there was a wax seal, the Hogwarts crest. She exhaled deeply realizing it would be this year's school supply list; she felt a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach. Lily didn't wanna know how much it was going to cost despite her scrimping and saving in an attempt to help with money troubles. She put the letter on the bed side table and lay down on the bed. She stared at the ceiling and couldn't help but feel out of place. Two years ago by now she would have ripped open the letter and rushed down to Spinners end to see Severus and ask when he wanted to go to Diagon Alley with her. But there would be no calling in to Severus... Ever since he'd called her... Mudblood. Things would always be different now. Did she really want to leave the muggle world behind and enter the wizarding world permanently when it was gripped in a long and tiresome hate war? Lily sighed and closed her eyes, she could have sworn she'd only had them closed for a second but when she opened them several hours had passed. She turned over and looked at the letter on the bedside table. You have to open it eventually Lils. Better get it over and done with. She told herself sitting up in bed and picked up the letter. It seemed heavier than usual. Oh brilliant more money her family didn't have.
To Miss Lily Evans,
First I wish to congratulate you on your successful year last year. May you have another this year?
Your supply list for this year is enclosed, along with a little something special. Congratulations Miss Evans on being Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizard's head girl for the year of 1977-1978. I trust you will do a marvelous job. Your first order of duty is the briefing of this year's prefects. This will take place in the heads compartment of the Hogwarts Express on September 1st. Your head girl badge is enclosed. Hope you're enjoying your holiday.
Professor Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
Lily couldn't believe what she was reading, she tipped the envelope upside down and sure enough there was the supply list and the gleaming heads badge. Of all things a muggleborn head girl. She squealed with pride and excitement and rushed downstairs letter in hand.
"Dad! I got head girl!" She yelled as she entered the sitting room. Petunia and Vernon were sat on the sofa opposite her father, their backs facing Lily. Petunia swung her head around so quickly it was a wonder how she didn't snap her neck to glare at Lily with absolute horror as though she was going to explode.
"Oh Lily that's wonderful! Both of my girls such wonderful news" He grinned standing to give his youngest daughter a big hug.
"You FREAK! You just had to ruin MY moment didn't you?" Petunia shrieked. Vernon stood shaking his head.
"I'm going to go home now my love; I'll be here to collect you in the morning. I don't want to be around for this. I'll see you" He said giving her a sloppy cheek kiss and heading out the door, rolling his eyes at Lily as he left.
"What are you talking about?" Lily asked as Vernon slammed the door behind him.
"You know exactly what I'm talking about. I tell dad I'm getting married and you just have to try and top me!" She screamed hysterically.
"I didn't know!" Lily yelled back at her sister She stopped herself from continuing and calmed herself down. "That's great Tuney" She added trying to give her older sister a congratulatory hug.
"Get away from me you FREAK! You ruin everything!" Petunia screamed at her again as though her body had been taken over by a banshee, crying her eyes out and bolted for the door. But not before giving Lily a harsh slap across the face.
It was the shock and the humiliation that hurt Lily more than then the actual impact against her face, but it still knocked her back a several steps. Not once had her sister ever struck her like that. They'd always fought with bitter words but never with fists. She didn't know how to feel; her father was at the front door yelling at Petunia as she continued to storm down the street. Lily lost all control of her body and ran back up to her room, threw herself at the bed, crawled up in a ball and began to cry.
If Lily hadn't wanted to get up yesterday she certainly didn't want to get up out of bed today. Opening her eyes her whole body ached, physically and mentally having had the worst night's sleep. Throughout her nightmares over and over again Petunia's words had screamed inside her head, along with Severus's
'I don't need help from filthy little mudbloods like her!'
Lily gradually coaxed herself to get out of bed and into the shower in order to face what was waiting for her downstairs. But drowning her sorrows in steaming water didn't make her feel much better either. She got dressed and went down stairs to find that no one was awake yet. Which she found odd since her father was always up well before she was in the mornings. But she didn't have much time to think about it, besides she was already running late and the last things she needed was to add her pain in the rear of a boss to her nightmares. So without even bothering to make herself some breakfast she left the house. She arrived for work just in time. Mary stood ready and waiting with the days cleaning list in the doorway with her arms crossed. It wasn't until I got closer to the office that Lily noticed a familiar friendly face behind Mary.
"Ali! You're back! How was your holiday?" Lily said running up to the older woman, momentarily forgetting all her woes about Petunia and Hogwarts.
"Hello Lily love. It was amazing thank you." She replied giving me a hug.
Ali was a woman in her late sixties, but she'd ever let it show. Her eyes were a pale blue and she had greying hair which she kept dyed a mousey brown colour, she barely looked forty. If it wasn't for the fact that Cokeworth was so small and everyone knew everybody Lily would never have thought that the lovely lady she worked with was approaching her retirement age.
"There's time to catch up later! There's work to do. I want you out of here by 11!" Mary yelled heading back into her office.
"Oh ignore her love, grouchy old bat." The old woman smiled.
"But Ali... I thought Mary was your friend?!" Lily laughed.
"Oh she is. But that doesn't stop her from being a grouchy old bat! She only wants us out of here by eleven so she doesn't have to pay us as much"
The pair chatted away idly as they worked; about Ali's recent holiday is Spain, this and that. In fact, Lily was so pleased to see her that she almost completely forgot about Petunia... almost. But not quite.
"Petunia's getting married." Lily said as she made a queen bed, while Ali pottered around cleaning the kitchenette.
"Really? To that Vernon bloke? The one that looks like a pig in a moustache?" Ali replied screwing her nose up at the thought, a smile playing on her face. Ali had never actually met Vernon face to face, but she had seen him a couple of times when he stopped in to visit with Petunia. She was very much aware of Lily's distaste for him and Ali had to agree he did seem like a character only a mother could love… and in this case Petunia.
"That's the one. I don't think she wants me at her wedding though." Lily added sadly, choking back on a new flow of tears.
"Oh come now, she'll get over it dear. It's just a bit of old fashioned sisterly jealousy. Now I know what'll cheer you up. Mary tells me there are two strapping young lads in room 17... They're still there... wanna sneak a peek?" She winked at Lily trying to lighten the mood.
Lily couldn't help but continue to cry however now her tears had become tears of laughter rather than sadness. Once Ali had gone into a service after there had been no reply at her knocking on the door. Unknown to either Ali or Lily the gentleman was in the shower so could not hear the cleaning ladies outside. Ali had gone in just as a man came out of the bathroom in nothing but a towel. She'd apologized profusely in an embarrassed state claiming she was just there to make beds and collect his towels. Just like that the man had whipped off his towel from around his waist and handed it to her. Proceeding to then wander around the room stark naked and dripping wet as Ali made beds and cleaned up the bathroom. She'd never lived the incident down and since then they'd had quite rough luck when it came to men still being in rooms. The pair of them had seen more men half naked in their boxers than they would ever dare to count.
"I'm good thanks Ali, they're all yours." Lily laughed rolling her eyes
"Suit yourself love, yummy lovelies here I come!" Ali said quietly as she knocked on the door and it swung open, though Lily could not see the occupant from where she was standing. "Morning Lad, room service. We're just here to collect your dirty towels and replace them."
"Oh gee thanks... Umm my friend is still in the bath, could you come back in like 5?" The voice in the doorway returned.
It gave Lily such a start she almost dropped the set of sheets she was pulling from the trolley. That's funny she thought to herself she could have sworn she recognized that voice but just couldn't picture where she recognized it from. The confusion befuddled her. Where had she heard that strong voice before?
"Not to worry my lovely, just leave everything you want replaced at the door!" Ali chirped back and waited until the door had closed to finish speaking to Lily. "Gods Lily... you missed out that time, he was definitely yummy. That hair and those abs? To die for!"
"Maybe next time." Lily chuckled regaining her composure. By the end of the day she had completely forgotten about the mysterious voice from room 17.
"Oi! Prongs! Hurry up and get out of the bath, the cleaning ladies want our towels!" Sirius yelled through the bathroom door.
"I'm relaxing!" James yelled back at him. James hadn't felt this at ease in a very long time, the bathwater soothed his aching muscles that had been stiff from riding in the side car for days. He rotated his shoulders and sighed deeply, letting the relaxation overcome him once more. But it was quickly interrupted again by Sirius hammering his fist against the door.
"I don't give a pixie. Hurry up, I just got a look at the back of the younger one. She's got a nice arse."
Typical bloody Padfoot James chuckled to himself all his mind focuses on is quidditch, food, alcohol, sleep and girls. Although not necessarily in that order.
"Alright, alright I'm hopping out." James climbed out of the bath and wrapped a towel around his waist before exiting the bathroom. "So where's this girl with the nice arse?"
"Outside, I didn't get a good look at her." Sirius shrugged his shoulders
"Just her arse?" James laughed at his best mate, giving his ear a flick lie he was telling off a misbehaving dog.
"What? She's just your type man, sexy red head." He replied boastfully, rubbing his sore ear.
"Did you happen to find out how old she was?" James countered skeptically.
"No..." He admitted sheepishly.
"Exactly. For all you know she could be old enough to be your mother." James teased him, returning to his bedroom.
"No one with a body like should ever be compared to my mother Prongs. Never." Sirius argued following him to the doorway.
"Alright, alright. Now sod off I want to get changed. Don't need you sneaking a peek." James chuckled, as Sirius pretended to be absolutely horrified and disappeared back into the main room.
James dried quickly and changed into something loose and comfortable, he doubted that he and Sirius would be getting up to much after seeing the state of the town the previous day. Perhaps they'd laze around in the hotel for the day or maybe just go for a quick trip on the bike around the surrounding countryside. He wasn't sure what to expect. He gathered up his towels and left them outside where the cleaning girls would collect them, but they were not in sight.
"Little tour on the bike? I thought maybe we could drop in on Remus... you know with tomorrow being..." Sirius began.
"Full moon. Sounds good to me." James finished for him, open road here they came.
They locked the room behind them and took their respective places on the motor bike. James wondered how long it would be before he could actually convinced Sirius to let him drive for a change, he was getting a little over always being in the side car. They rode the countryside for a couple of hours until they found safe place to hide the bike out of sight of the road and would be able to apparate without being seen. They played rock, parchment, wand to see who had to be the one to knock on the Lupin's front door. Mrs. Lupin was often... Jumpy with people visiting around this time of the month. Who could blame her poor woman? Sirius lost. Win for Prongs.
"Hey Mrs. Lupin, is Remus here?" Sirius asked when she answered the door.
"He's in his room." She replied timidly, not holding the door open further than showing her face.
"Can we see him please?" James asked boldly. Mrs. Lupin seemed nervous and James was sure she was going to say no, but she surprised them both and opened the door wider.
"Don't stay long, he needs his rest…He's not been well" James still found it a bit of a struggle not to tell Mrs. Lupin that the marauders all knew about Remus's condition and that they didn't hold it against him. After all they had become animagi in order to help Remus through his ordeal every month. But he understood that Remus chose not to tell his parents that they knew in order to protect their shared secret. The two boys climbed the stair case quickly before Mrs. Lupin had a chance to change her mind and headed straight for Remus's room. The door was closed but that hadn't stopped Sirius.
"Moony!" He yelled as he stormed through the door and jumped onto his bed. Which earned him a groan of protest from Remus.
"Sorry Remus, my evil twin is rather rude. I got the looks, brains and the charm he got well... what did you get?" James joked. That earned him a smile and some weak laughter from Remus and a scowl from Sirius. Padfoot 0 Prongs 2.
"Hey guys, how's your little tour going?" He asked as he sat up.
"Brilliant...well up until we got to where we're staying now. Place is a ghost town, no night life. Although... There is this bird with a nice arse, cleaning our room." Sirius replied.
"What's she like? What does she look like?" Remus asked intrigued.
"He doesn't know, only seen the back of her. Oh wait... no he knows she's a red head" James supplied for him.
"Typical Padfoot." Remus chuckled shaking his head. "So where are you anyway?"
"Err... Coketown" Sirius replied.
"Cokeworth, you mean?" Remus asked raising a concerned eyebrow.
"Yeah, how did you know Moony? Been there?" James asked surprised that Remus even knew the name of the tired little town.
"No, but I know someone who lives there." He replied conservatively. James couldn't help but feel like Remus was hiding something from him, which made him feel slightly hurt. The marauders never hid anything from one another.
"Who?" Sirius commented, just as intrigued as James was as to who this mysterious person was.
"It's not important." He told them with a shake of his head. "There is a night life if you know where to look. Scannel Street, it's full of abandoned factories. The locals host parties every few days or so in one of them. But it's always a different one every night. You'd have to go looking"
"Sweet! Know what we're doing tonight Prongs! Looks like we finally found our party after all! So what time do you want us to meet you tomorrow night Moony?" Sirius barked happily.
"7pm, same place as last time, under the big maple tree."
"Boys! It's time for you to go now!" Mrs. Lupin yelled from downstairs.
"See you tomorrow Moony."
"Hey sweet how was work? Hungry?" Mr. Evans asked when Lily walked in the door. Petunia had already left hours ago, so there was no chance of conflict between the two. However, he was still worried about his youngest daughter's state of mind.
"Fine, Ali's back. No thanks." Her words came out of her mouth as though she had rehearsed them, that's how he knew his precious girl was far from fine.
"Lily sweet you didn't eat breakfast. I've got to get to work but promise me... Promise me you'll eat something" He replied slinging his bag over his shoulder, a worried expression plastered to his face.
"Yeah sure" Her tone was dull and uninterested.
"Promise me Lils." He warned, his voice raising to become authoritative. "Word on the grape vine is there's a party happening tonight. While I don't usually condone parties in this case... I think it'll do you some good. Ask around, have some fun for once hmm?" His tone lightened.
Oh if only you knew, Lily thought. The perfect Lily Evans had once snuck out to attend a party and her father was still none the wiser about it years on. It had been after getting home in 5th year. The year that Severus had called her that word. She'd done it just to spite him knowing that he would be there. She had even taken Remus Lupin with her for moral support and despite everything ended up actually enjoying herself a little. It was her and Remus's unspoken secret with one another.
"I'll see." Lily sighed coming back from her memories.
"Okay love, see you later. I'll be home late. I love you Lils"
"Love you too Dad." She smiled.
"Padfoot please... I know you love this muggle band but please I beg you stop singing!" James hissed.
"It's Fleetwood Mac Prongs! They're top of the charts." Sirius protested.
"I swear Padfoot you repeat another line of lyrics before we get to that party and I will take great pleasure in stunning you" James told his friend, his voice laced with annoyance.
"Fine, we should have named you moody." He scoffed.
"You've sung 'Don't stop' at least 4 times now!"
The boys were dressed and ready for what they hoped would be a raging muggle party. It wouldn't be the first one that they had been to but it would be the first in an abandoned warehouse. They locked their room and tried to avoid the prying eyes of the hotel owner as they headed in the direction of Scannel Street. Now it was just a matter of finding which factory would be hosting tonight's festivities. It didn't take long, before long they found a trail of people slipping into a factory towards the southern end of the street.
"Name..." A big guy on the door asked. He could have been part troll if you asked James, especially with that ugly mug.
"Oh hi, we're new in town. I'm James and this is my friend Sirius." James said trying to be polite and stretching out his hand.
"What kinda fucked up name is that?" Sirius let out a small growl from the bottom of his throat.
"His parents were hippies, can't blame the fella now can we? So are we in or..." James asked trying to push Sirius inside.
"You're not on the list. No name no entry. No outsiders." The big guy grumbled.
"Come on mate, we're just looking for a bit of fun. What's the harm in it? We were recommended this by a friend. Said your parties are to die for" Okay now Sirius was exaggerating a little but hey they wanted in, there was nothing better to do. The door goon raised an eye brow.
"How do I know you ain't no pig's snitch? We don't like cops."
"Dude you're talking to the guys who earned themselves a month worth of detentions for sticking a firecracker in a boys' bathroom. We aren't angles" Sirius butted in. The troll seemed impressed, he waved them in.
"We're in Prongs!" Sirius yelled gleefully.
Lily couldn't believe she was doing this again, only this time she was doing it with her father's permission. She gazed at her reflection in the mirror judging with what she wearing; a short tie dyed dress and strapped golden sandals. Not too bad she thought, party-ish yet not too slutty.
"You look smashing baby girl" Her father's voice startled her from behind.
"Merlin Dad! You scared me!" She squealed, jumping out of her skin.
"Sorry sweetheart. Anyway, you're going to knock 'em all dead... Just don't bring any of them home alright?" He smiled. Lily scoffed her dad was such a goof ball.
"No worries on that front dad"
"Got your eyes on a Hogwartian hmm?" He hummed.
"No dad, there is not Hogwarts boy, thank you very much."
"What about..." Lily knew how he was going to finish that sentence and she wasn't happy about it. Ever since she had let slip about the annoying James bloody Potter he'd used it against her.
"Don't you dare finish that sentence" She scowled at him, he laughed.
"Alright sweetheart. Be home at a decent hour, you still have work tomorrow."
"I will Daddy." She kissed his cheek and left the house, into the cool summer's air.
The party was in full swing, unfortunately James did have to endure another round of 'Don't Stop' by Fleetwood Mac but hey it was a muggle party, thus muggle music. He lost Sirius to a crowd of girls within the first half an hour. Not that he was that bothered by that fact he was quite happy to wander around by himself. He danced with a couple of girls that took an interest in him but none of them really tickled his fancy. They were no muggle-born fiery red head with a flower for a name. James was very much enjoying himself and he wasn't even drunk yet. He'd only had a couple of drinks... that is until Sirius came running over with a panicked look in his eyes.
"Oh Padfoot what have you done now?" James asked exasperatedly.
"Remember the red hair from the motel?" He panted
"The one with the nice arse that I never actually saw? Yes" James replied
"I found her" Sirius said in a panicked tone
"Good for you Padfoot." James congratulated him, rolling his eyes.
"No... It's not good Prongs" He said shaking his head.
"Why she not as pretty as you thought? Too old for you?" James teased him suddenly finding the whole situation amusing.
"No it's not that. She's fucking gorgeous. You'll probably kill me later for saying that." Sirius admitted
"Because the girl... the girl is Evans"