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Chapter Ten

Remus hated the Hospital Wing. The continuous stench of disinfectant, the curtains he was forced to hide behind and the sympathetic smiles Madam Pomfrey was prone to giving all made him want to scream the place down.

That's where he was now, his head pounding as it always did the morning after a transformation.

That's it, Remus thought, a wave of determination rushing through him. I'm not staying here any longer.

Remus lifted his head from the pillow and put his feet on the cold, stone floor cautiously. His head spun slightly, but other than that he was ok. From the bedside cabinet he took out a set of clothes the Marauders must have brought him and quickly changed, keeping an eye on the door to Madam Pomfrey's office in case she decided to make an appearance. he crept across the Wing and out the door, closing it carefully behind him.

Being a Saturday morning, most of the student body had not yet risen, so Remus was able to wander freely through the hallways without fear of being trampled. On the way up to the Common Room, he heard Sirius talking to someone; not wanting to walk in on a potentially awkward scene, he slipped inside the nearest broom cupboard.

"-really are an awesome snogger." He heard Sirius say, him and his partner stopping outside Remus' cupboard.

"Oh shut up." scolded-to Remus' great surprise- Mary McDonald.

"Well you are." Said Sirius. "In fact, I wouldn't mind a repeat performance."

There was a dull thud that sounded like Mary kicking Sirius.

"Ow! Sirius whined. "I was just saying."

"well don't 'just say' in front of anyone else. We need to at least try and keep this under wraps. If anyone finds out-"

Sirius sighed impatiently. "I know, I know; my parents would freak, Annabelle would freak and Samantha'll be heartbroken. Nothing can be done about Annabelle or my family, I get that- but why can't you just dump Samantha by letter and be done with it."

"Because," Mary answered irritably, "Samantha was there for me. I owe her more than just a quick "you're dumped, have a nice life" in a letter, don't I? And I would ask her to come up to Elmborough- you know, that Muggle town just a couple of miles away- but I don't want to drag her up here all the way from Newcastle just to be dumped."

"I get that but-"

"Not buts, Sirius." Mary said. "I'll break up with her at Christmas and that's final. Anyway, I'll see you in the Great Hall in a bit."

"Aren't you coming?" Sirius asked.

"Later. I'm going to drop my bag in the common room first."

After Sirius and Mary's footsteps echoed away into silence, Remus emerged from the cupboard, as confused as a free house elf. Sure, Sirius and Mary were acting a lot friendlier towards each other lately, but Remus could never have thought Sirius would fancy Mary McDonald, that was if he really did fancy her and wasn't just stringing her along.
He ran his fingers through his hair nervously. What made him nervous was the fact that if Sirius was stringing Mary along, Lily would be furious, causing her and James to be wedged even further apart.

Remus jogged along the corridor in the direction of the Great Hall until he saw Sirius and yelled, "Oi Mate! Wait up!"

Sirius turned to me, confused. "Moony? How come Pomfrey's let you out of the Hospital Wing early?"

Remus smiled mischievously. "Who says she let me out?"

"I'm impressed." Said Sirius, clearly impressed.

"And so you should be."

They walked down to the Great Hall for breakfast, where few students were present, what with it being a early Saturday morning. However, James and Peter were both present at the Gryffindor table, filling themselves with scrambled egg on toast.

"Morning." Remus said sliding into the seat next to Peter, whilst Sirius sat opposite.

"Where were you this morning?" James asked Sirius.

He grinned mysteriously. "That's my business."

"Which girl this time?" Asked Peter.

"I'm sure I don't know what you mean." Sirius said.

"Come on, you've never not told us about a girl you've been shacked up with." James whined.

"This one's different." Sirius said. "I don't want to jinx it."

"Ooooh." Peter said childishly. "I think Padfoot's in love."

"Leave him alone, guys." Remus said. "It's not his fault he's gone soppy."

"I have not gone-"

He was cut off as the doors to the Great Hall were flung open. The Gryffindor girls ambled in.

"I've had an idea, James." Sirius said quickly, seeming to remember something. "I think you should stop asking Evans out."

"Why?" James asked.

"Evans is the type of girl who wants something she can't have. If you stop asking her out, she'll fall right into your arms." Sirius said.

"And would this information come from this, apparently different, girl?" Remus asked.

"It might." Sirius said.

As the girls walked past the Marauders, James yelled out, "Oi! Evans." She turned to look at him.
"No, Potter, I wont go out with you." She said, rolling her eyes.

"Don't worry, I won't be asking you out any more." James said casually. "I just wanted to tell you that I've got a girlfriend."

"Uh-you've-I-" Lily spluttered, before collecting herself. "That's great Potter. I'm really pleased for you."

To Remus' shock, Lily looked truly disappointed as she ran to the other end of the Gryffindor table with Michelle, Laura and Annabelle. Mary glared at James before joining her friends. James grinned at Sirius.

"Great idea, Padfoot."

"There's just one tiny flaw in this master plan." Remus said.

"My naïve, werewolf chum," Sirius said. "What flaw could any plan of mine possibly have?"

"How about the fact that Prongs doesn't have a girlfriend?" Remus said.

Silence.

James broke it first. "Oh."

"I never thought of that." said Sirius. He turned to James. "Does Verity Smith still owe you that favour?"

Remus and James grinned. "I like your thinking." Said Remus.

Ignoring Peter, they walked swiftly over to a seventh year girl at the Ravenclaw table.

"What d'you want, Black?" Verity snapped when the Marauders' shadows were cast over her table. "And before you ask, no, I am not pining for you."

"Ah, you continue your denial." Said Sirius. Remus turned back to the Gryffindor table, where, to his relief, Mary was too busy chatting with Laura to notice Sirius' flirting.

"It's about that favour you owe me." James said.

Verity wheeled around on the bench to look at the Marauders. "What do I have to do? If it's something stupid like 'be my slavee for a day' then you better be prepared for a tarantula in your room."

Peter gulped, but Remus, Sirius and James laughed it off.

"It's nothing like that," the latter said. "I need you to go out with me?"

Verity raised an eyebrow. "Excuse me?"

James was about to answer but Sirius butted in. "Likkle Jamesey's trying to make Lily Evans jealous."

"Oh, I see now. So if she gets jealous of us, then she'll be sucked into going out with you."

"Got it in one."

She sighed. "Ok, I'll do it." She said. "I do have two points to make though: one, I am never going to sleep with you and two, if I get any hassle, I'm out." She held out her hand.

"Cheers, Verity." James shook her hand.

On the way back to the Gryffindor table, my eyes lingered, once again, on the girls, but this time they slid onto Michelle, and he caught his breath. He'd always liked her, but it was only since the beginning of sixth year that he'd really developed a full on crush on her. He'd never really had a girlfriend before- he point-blank refused to put an innocent girl through that. Besides, he'd eventually have to tell her about his lycanthropy, and she'd dump him when he did.

"Taking in the view, are we Moony?" Teased Sirius.

Remus snapped his head back to the Marauders, who were all wearing identical evil grin.

"Looks like you've got a bit of a crush on Michelle there, Moony." James said.

"Don't be ridiculous." Remus said, sliding into a bench at the end of the table, as far away from the girls as possible.

"Do you want us to ask her out for you?" Peter said. He began to walk over to the girls, but Remus grabbed his jumper and pulled him back.

"Wormtail! Get back here!" Remus hissed.

"Yeah, Wormy; it'd be better coming from Moony."

"No it won't, because I'm not asking her out!" Remus said.

The Marauders stared at him pitifully.

"You've got to stop doing this to yourself." James said. "You deserve to be happy."

"You know I can't get with anyone, it wouldn't be fair on them." Remus said, beginning to lose his patience. "What happened last night, anyway? You haven't said yet."

The Marauders stared at each other guiltily, their expressions giving way to shame.

"What the hell happened?" Remus said, his voice raising slightly out of his burgeoning impatience.

Sirius was the one to break the silence. "Well, we might have told-" Sirius began, but was cut short at the venomous glares Peter and James were giving him. "Oh, all right. I might have told Snape how to get into the Shrieking Shack."

"YOU DID WHAT?" Remus shrieked, causing several Gryffindors to stare inquisitively at him. "What happened to him?"

"He, um...he saw you transform and you nearly attacked him."

Remus lost it completely. He lunged at Sirius, attacking him so ferociously it took James and Peter to hold him back.

"But James got to him just in time" Explained Sirius, backing away. "And Dumbledore's made him swear not to tell anyone."

"He better not, or so help me god I will ring your neck." Remus said.

"Anyway." Said Sirius, effectively steering away from the subject of Severus Snape. "What are we going to do about Cusworth."

"Nothing." Remus snapped. "I already told you, I can't go out with her."

"I know you don't want to get her involved in your, err... hairy little problem, but I've got a plan that'll mean she won't find out- at least not until you decide to tell her anyway." James said.

"All right, lets hear it." Remus said resignedly.

James quickly explained his plan, which he had named, Operation: The Marauders can always get girls.'

"Very modest." Remus snorted into his pumpkin juice.

"Do you want our help or not?" James said sharply, shutting Remus up.

"Sorry." Remus said. "So, what's the plan?"


In the crimson Common Room the fire crackled merrily, four of the five sixth year girls gathered around it, scribbling on parchment and swapping revision notes. Michelle Cusworth launched herself down the stair, landing face first on the floor. She got up, brushed herself off and leapt onto the sofa beside Lily and Mary.

"Look what was just put under the door." Michelle said, waving a small piece of parchment in front of Lily and dancing around the Common Room. She dropped the parchment into Lily's lap, who read aloud:

Our dearest Michelle,

We (that being the Marauders, Messrs of mischief) wish to cordially invite you to an evening of mysterious intrigue. Please be at the portrait of the Swinging Sorceror's at eight 0' clock tonight. The reason for this meeting is that one of our number seems to have fallen under your spell of charm and beauty. You are therefore obligated to attend this meeting, or you will have the heartbreak of a certain young man on your conscience, and you wouldn't want that now would you?
Yours most admiringly,
Messrs Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs.

"So what so you think?" Asked Michelle, finally stopping her dancing and landing in between Mary and Laura on the sofa.

"I think it's just a joke." Lily said flatly, folding up the letter and going to throw it on the fire. Michelle snatched it away from her before she could. Laura glared at Lily. "Why would it be a joke?" She said savagely.

"Because it says it's from the 'Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs.'" Lily said. The girls stared at her blankly, and she rolled her eyes. "That's what Potter and his friends call each other." She looked at Michelle apologetically. "I'm sorry, but it's just not worth getting involved with one of them."

Mary glared furiously. "What's your problem, Lils?" It was weird-ever since she had started to really fancy Sirius a couple of weeks ago, she had felt fiercely protective of him. "You're always having a go at them, and I just can't see why. I know you hate James, but he isnt all that bad, and neither are the others!"

Everyone stared at her in silence. Lily, looking furious, sprang up from the coach and stormed up the staircase to the dormitories.

"I'd better go talk to her, you know what she's like when she stews on her anger." I said exasperatingly. I glared determinedly at Michelle. "Don't let Lily's hatred of Potter stop you from going. I don't care if I have to go with you to stop Lily from murdering you, you are going."

Mary walked up the stairs and into our dorm. Lily was pacing up and down, using her wand to destroy the spider webs hanging from the ceiling.

"Lily?" Mary asked cautiously. Lily waved her wand at the wand so hard at the ceiling a hole was blasted in it and sunlight streamed in. "LILY STOP!" Mary yelled.

Lily turned, her eyes flashing dangerously. "What do you want?" She whispered.

"I want to know what that was all about." Mary said calmly. "You know as well as I do that Michelle's had more trouble with boys than any of us, so I don' get why you won't let her-"

"Get her heart broken again?" Lily interrupted, raising an eyebrow. "I know that you are Sirius and sort-of friends now, but you can't deny they're a bunch of heart-breakers, the lot of them, especially James and Sirius. I suppose Remus and Pettigrew aren't all that bad, but still..."

"Please can you just give them a chance. I've gotten to know Sirius, and he's not as bad as everyone thinks he is. Sure he's a flirt but still-"

"Oh my God" Lily suddenly shrieked. "Please don't tell me you like Sirius Black."

"What?" Mary cried guiltily, her cheeks reddening. Barely containing a smirk, she said, "of course I don't. I'm not his type, and he's certainly not mine."

Lily breathed a sigh of relief, effectively convinced. "Sorry for doubting you. I know you would never be stupid enough to date him. i still don't get why girls still like him. I mean, why would you want a guy that you know is going to cheat on you?"

Mary laughed nervously, "Yeah. Who would go out someone like Black."

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