Chapter One: Death by Chips

"What is wrong with her hair?"

"Whose hair?"

"Hers!" Sirius said, pointing at the girl at the pub's bar for emphasis, a rude habit his mother would have slapped his hand for displaying in public. Not that his mother would be caught dead in a Muggle pub. Not that his mother would care if he was insulting a Muggle. Not that his mother would care if Sirius was alive or not.

James craned around on his stool, also lacking the pure-blood manners the elderly but far kinder Mrs. Potter had attempted to instill in him, squinting behind his glasses. He was always in dire need of an updated prescription, but seemed to think squinting made him more attractive in some manner. His best mate was, as usual, wrong about this.

James shoved a chip in his mouth as he started at the girl. "Horrid," he agreed, still staring.

"Why would she do that to her hair?" Sirius said, pushing his own artfully messy black hair out of his eyes. He picked up his pint and took a sip, shaking his head.

"No idea," James said, another chip dying a quick death in his mouth. He twisted back round. "Listen, Pads, did I tell you what Evans-"

"Was it a choice?" Sirius said, cutting off his chewing friend, displaying so many bad manners between the pair of them his mother wouldn't content herself with slapping his hand for pointing were she here, but slapping his face. Stupid bint.

"Was what a choice?" James said, a hint of irritation in his voice.

"Her hair!" Sirius said, still staring at the girl at the bar.

"I dunno," James said, messing distractedly with his own unkempt hair, "maybe. Listen, so Evans said-"

"I mean, it can't be deliberate, right?" Sirius said, "No one would do that to themselves if they didn't have to."

"Who bloody cares?" James said, a distinct note of impatience now present.

He twisted back around to look at the girl, confirmed that she was rather ordinary looking, a bit pretty, but dressed plainly, certainly not as flashy as most girls Sirius spent this much time looking at, before twisting back, befuddled.

"What's it to you?"

His best mate was one of those guys who was so good looking, so thoroughly aware of it, that he never spent much time looking at girls at all. He didn't need to, to get their attention. It was thoroughly irritating, and had made the other three members of the Marauders, along with most of the boys in the school, exasperated and envious at least once.

"It's just," Sirius said, snagging one of James's uneaten chips as well, "it seems deliberate. And that indicates that she's a lunatic. I'm rather intrigued."

The girl's hair was really, truly terrible. It was an ordinary medium brown color, curly if you were being as generous as Lily Evans maintaining a friendship with Snivellus Snape for five years, frizzy if you were being honest, sticking out all askew in every direction, including the girl's left eye.

"I mean," Sirius said, pointing again, "do you see that one frizz ball right behind her left shoulder, it's large enough to hide a snitch insi-"

At this precisely horrible moment, when Sirius was actively pointing at her, his eyebrows waggling around in confusion and insult, James craned all the way round, hand forcefully shoving chips in his mouth, that the girl turned from the bar and saw them.

If Remus had been with them, he'd have whipped around, turning bright red, hissing at them to look away, but as it was the confident (Evans would say arrogant, but she didn't know everything, did she?) duo of Potter and Black sitting there, James attempted a winsome smile through the chips, his spare hand jumping to his hair to mess it up further, and Sirius turned his pointing hand into a wave.

Somehow, the girl seemed to know that they'd been insulting her. She stared at them a beat, immobile, wheeled about, marched to the bar and said something short to the bartender, and then stormed out of the pub, not looking at them again.

"Wow," James said, half a chip falling from his mouth and he yelped in dismay, caught it with his Quidditch reflexes, and shoved it back in, "that's the fastest we've ever scared a girl off."

It was Sirius who had craned around now, looking out of the dingy pub's window as the girl stomped around outside, paused next to his motorbike with a dark look, turned to look what seemed straight into his eyes, scowling, and then stormed off.

"Right," Sirius said decisively, standing, "I'm following her." he pulled out his wallet, saying an automatic moment of thanks to Great Uncle Alphie for not being a pile of human waste like the rest of his family, threw some Muggle pounds on the table, and came to a halt when James grabbed a corner of his shirt and yanked.

"This is stalker-ish," James said regretfully.

"Coming from the human one man fan club for Lily Evans?" Sirius said.

"Exactly," James said, "so you should really be twice as embarrassed right now."

Sirius peered out of the window. The girl was still in sight.

"Also," James said behind him, the noise muffled by what was most likely another chip, "I'll have you know that there are at least two people in the Lily Evans fan club."

That got his attention.

"Are you really putting yourself into a category with Snivellus?" Sirius said, pushing his hair out of his eyes again, a woman nearby sighing, her face in her hands, if he had noticed. Sirius did not notice.

"Gross," James said, swallowing down six half eaten chips, "I meant Slughorn. If I had meant Snivellus, I would've said one person and one congealed pile of ooze in the shape of a spineless racist."

Sirius nodded. That was better.

"Your mystery girl has escaped," James said, and he grinned when Sirius whipped around again like a hunting dog, swearing colorfully. A girl who looked to be about thirteen nearby with her mother giggled. The mother winked at Sirius. Sirius didn't notice them either.

"That's it," Sirius said, and he bolted out of the pub.

James swore colorfully as well, and the mother glared at him, covering her daughter's ears, as he bolted after his friend. The things Sirius got away with were an ongoing inspiration.

"She's gone!" Sirius said, turning around in a circle.

"What were you going to do if you caught her?" James asked, interested. With the way Sirius charmed women, perhaps he should take notes.

"Ask her if the hair was deliberate, of course," Sirius said.

And he'd do it too, James thought, he was probably being honest. And the girl would somehow end up laughing and twirling her awful hair, flirting with Sirius, likely snogging him, while his latest attempt to woo Lily Evans, (flowers, allegedly fool-proof) had ended with him getting hexed down the fourth floor hidden stairway next to Charms the last day of sixth year.

"Oh well," Sirius said, shrugging as if it didn't bother him, pulling out one of those Muggle smoking things he liked so much and walking over to his motorbike.

"Maybe we'll still run into her," James said, as he clambered behind Sirius on the bike, "drive by, like."

"Run into who?" Sirius said, kicking the bike on.

"The—the girl!" James said. "The girl you just ran out after, abandoning my chips. The girl you've been talking about for the last five minutes!"

If there was one thing Sirius could do to annoy him, it was the cool affect he put on for everyone, even James, that was a little too studied.

"Oh, her," Sirius said, "who cares? Anyway, what was it Evans said to you?"

"Well," James said, entirely distracted from his mate's odd behavior, launching into a long explanation of flowers and slaps and Evans telling him to piss off and stop being such a weird stalker, as the wind blew both of their hair, his in deranged spikes, Sirius like he was a rock star of course.

They sped past an elderly couple, turned another corner recklessly, a flash of blue catching Sirius's eye and then disappearing, but James was dramatically reenacting the public slap and he was distracted afresh.

Behind arestaurant garbage bin a girl with frizzy hair and a blue jumper crouched, wand out, eyes darting, until the sound faded. She stood up slowly from behind the bin she'd dove behind in a panic, watching the black haired terrors disappear in the distance.

"Bloody hell," Hermione said.