Disclaimer: J. K. Rowling owns all characters, scenery, and all else. Except my storyline. Thanks for reading!

Sirius stood at the edge of the lake, watching the giant squid floating just beneath the surface. Not a single person was outside except the massive beast and the boy. It was a cold, snowy, wet day; Christmas was in two weeks and all those in the castle were either in their last few days of classes or in the Great Hall, talking excitedly about what they wanted most this Christmas or exchanging gifts with friends. The other marauders had joined in on the fun, laughing and talking with anybody and everybody they could find. However, a single marauder had slipped away tonight from the energetic and restless mood in the castle to stand here, in front of the giant squid, completely alone. It was his seventh year. This was the year supposed to be the best and yet nothing had gone as planned. James and Lily were finally a couple, Remus had found the artistic, quiet, and chocolate-loving girl of his dreams, and even Peter had a girl who was not completely disgusted by his groveling and desire for acceptance. But Sirius did not have anybody. Nothing more than the girls who threw themselves at him for a chance to say they had been with the handsome Sirius Black. There was no girl who simply adored him for him and nobody willing to actually get to know the striking marauder. He had nothing of value as far as relationships went, excluding his indescribably close friendship with the other marauders. All the despair coupled with his loneliness ran through his mind at once as he lifted his wand and prepared to cast a spell to throw himself into the middle of the lake and be done forever. He glanced once more over his shoulder at the only place he truly felt was home, then began the incantation. Before he got more than a word out, however, he was abruptly tackled from behind and fell, face first, into the snow mere inches from the water. He turned, infuriated, to see the idiot who had tried to interfere with him. James Potter stood over him, betrayal and astonishment written all over his face.

"You think you can end it like this? Padfoot, how could you even think of...?"

All at once, it was too much for Sirius. His temper flared and he sat up, pure rage clouding his mind and turning the edges of his vision blurry.

"Honestly, Prongs, you might bloody well be blind the way you've been strutting around all year. I may not be blatantly, glaringly, obviously open with my feelings or crying myself to sleep, but this year hasn't exactly been my easiest!"

Sitting down next to his friend, James sobered up. His entire frame seemed to sag for a moment before he looked up at Sirius again. He sighed, words escaping with his breath.

"I know, Sirius. I don't know what to do about it; nobody else figured it out because I covered for you so nobody noticed anything. I just have no idea what the hell to do. You have no idea how much I want to help, it scares me to see you like this. Bloody hell, I would give anything to help you. But I don't know how."

Sirius just sat there, confused. James never called him Sirius, never brought up something as tangled as feelings, and never ever admitted he was imperfect. Not a single damn thing made sense. None of it.

"I'm just tired of everything, Prongs. All the 'relationships' that have no real meaning, the times when everyone but me talks about how great their girlfriend is, hell, even Peter has a real relationship before I do. And I hate it. I hate it with my entire being. All I want is to be able to tell stories of how I actually kissed someone and knew it meant something for both of us. But it isn't happening. And I can't see a light on the horizon."

The two boys, soaking wet in the snow, looked at each other for a long while. Finally, James spoke up.

"Let's go back to the castle. And damn, Pads, don't ever do that again. It's worth it. It's always worth it to stay."

Nodding, Sirius stood up and they trudged back up to school, to home. James led Sirius up to the Gryffindor common room and up to the dormitory. The snow began to melt and their sopping shoes left dark footprints on the carpet, squelching with each step. After they had changed into dry clothes and their hair was, once again, perfect, they walked back out into the Great Hall. In the chatter of their friends and acquaintances, they retook the spotlight and dragged Remus reluctantly in with them. Sirius laughed, the pain still in his eyes but not quite as strong as before. He grabbed the spotlight once again and took to it, making himself the star of each conversation and the hero of every story. It would take some time, true, but his best mate had reminded him of all those he cared about and, in return, all those who honestly cared about him as well. One friend. That was all it took.