CHAPTER ONE

James tossed and turned in his bed, his mind restless, wrapped around the thought of whether his dad might return from the operation or a raid or whatever it was, tonight. His mother had told him and Sirius to go to bed but sleep and peace just wouldn't find him. He knew Sirius's calm form lying down still, didn't mean he was asleep. His eyes were fixed on the ceiling, his forearms resting just above his eyes. He forced his way into James's room just in case James decides to do something stupid. Sirius wondered if this was how Remus always felt around James and Sirius all the time.

Sirius had moved in with the Potters in his fourth year after he ran away from his home. The Potters had been extremely kind to him, and had taken him in without asking any questions on that stormy night when he had come seeking refuge. He'd stayed with the Potters since then. Sirius lifted his hand from his forehead and propped himself up to catch a glimpse at James. Restless as usual, he thought. This past year, with the growing threat of the dark forces of Voldemort, James's dad has been preoccupied with late night raids, risky operations and the likes. Back at school James would constantly write to his mother to figure out if his dad would be going on some operation. But his mother never leaked any information on the matter lest he'd worry. It made James restless. So instead waiting around for his mother's reply James started writing to his house-elf Ella. Ella, though unwillingly, had to convey whatever information she could gather on his dad. This information made him even more restless. Now that he was home, practically living the events of those letters with his father coming home with bloody scratches all over his face and neck, bloodshot eyes, the idea of never seeing his dad again if he gets taken captive or worse dead, James was to say the least, not in the best of head space. Given that James's father was the head of his department and his job profile primarily included signing out orders for conducting raids, him having to conduct those raids in person gave away the gravity of the situation. The Ministry was falling short on man power and it was painfully evident. The Research Department that looked into potential threats and tip offs were working round the clock as the complaints of unlawful activities and the echoes of strange screams poured in the complaint boxes. The clerical staff as well as the officer grade staff and the field work staff were falling short by miles to finish up the workload. Aurors were falling dead almost as if everyday. James and Sirius themselves had attended more than fourteen funerals in the past one month of their summer vacations. Yet the Ministry was intent upon portraying as if everything was under its control and Voldemort was nothing but a small threat upon whom they were closing in on. The truth on the other hand was that Voldemort was a needle in a stack of hay. Sirius could see that James during these funerals could hardly string two words together, practically drowning in the thoughts that the given funeral could have easily been his dad's.

Sirius propped up and threw a sock at James. James clearly caught off guard jumped to his senses.

"I forgot you were here." James remarked, dryly.

"You mean you forgot you had a hot sexy babysitter for the night sleeping in your very room?" Sirius quipped, hoping to lighten the mood.

"I'm not exactly in humorous mood as you may have well noted Sirius."

"I did. Which is why I think we need to .. you know .. talk about .." Sirius drifted off, not being entirely equipped to handle such situations.

James was amused to see Sirius's discomfort so instead of putting Sirius out of his misery James played innocent and let Sirius find the words to express the latter's thought. Sirius, after finding out what James was up to, threw a pillow at him.

"What?" demanded James, dodging the pillow.

"I'm not great at this!"

"Not even good mate." James replied.

"This is Remus's department. The mush talk and everything. Look man I've been around you all this time. There's no point telling me you're okay, because I know you're not. This whole Voldemort business is taking a toll on your dad, but it's taking a huge toll on you too. Euphemia, as it is, has so much on her mind and on her plate with your dad being this busy, and if you act like the way you've been doing, she'll go nuts." Sirius finished.

"Hey, look at that, you are pretty good at this. Maybe Remus could use a Vice President for his department." James replied dryly.

Sirius scowled at James and then rolled his eyes.

"It's just," continued James, "that we have yet another funeral to be at in less than a week. Arnold Longbottom's son is our senior and will probably be our Head Boy this year. Until now every other funeral, while being beyond depressing, felt a little less personal, but Frank's dad's funeral? I'm petrified to even think of it let alone attend it. And with dad running off to work and these raids, unannounced at such ungodly hours, I'm no sure if I can pull it together." confessed James.

Sirius took all of this in, trying to figure out what to say or do. He wasn't gifted with words of comfort. It was one the thing that made him envious of Remus.

"Not even thoughts of your dear Evans can cheer you up?" asked Sirius, working with the only mechanism he had to tackle such situations. Humour.

James scowled at his best mate for bringing up Lily. Lily had long been out of James's mind at least for the past couple of months. He remembered how his last encounter with Lily had gone. Severus was hanging off of his ankle, Lily trying to convince or rather threaten James with her wand, he smiled remembering her fiery eyes, to put Snape down, Snape calling her a Mudblood and Lily calling James an insufferable git and how he made her sick. That was the last he was in the immediate proximity of her. Soon they left for the summer and James caught the glimpse of Lily at King's Cross, reunited with her family. He wondered what she must be doing right now. Was she aware of how bad the situation was? Sure she reads The Daily Prophet but, with the amount of control and information management that the Ministry was exercising to keep the public in the dark about the recent events made James wonder if Lily was actually buying that crap. Nah, she's smart, he thought. He also wondered if she knew about Frank's dad's death. Frank and Lily were quite good friends. James closed his eyes and remembered the last Hogsmede weekend, Lily was on a date with some Ravenclaw bloke and she looked breathtaking. She'd worn a green dress with her hair in a ponytail (of which James highly disapproved of). James had made all the three of his friends spy on her in their animal forms, except Remus. Padfoot, which was Sirius's nickname, would turn in a shabby black dog which was his animagus and would start barking on the guy if he tried holding Lily's hand. Peter would turn in his rat form and jump up on the guy if he tried kissing Lily in The Three Broomsticks. Remus on the other hand refused to participate but given that he was on good terms with Lily, he was forced to use his goodwill to ask her to help him with a first year who had somehow found his way to Hogsmede but was refusing to go back to the castle. James had sneaked that boy out of the castle through one of the secret pathways just to create an absolute mess of Lily's date because that bloke whoever he was had a reputation of being a jerk (in James's mind that is). James didn't regret ruining Lily's date even after she looked positively dejected all throughout the day. James still doesn't regret it.

"Helloo, earth to James," called Sirius, "wow, so I guess Evans is still pretty much on the top of the list of things that can distract you from this grave situation."

"Shut up Padfoot."

"Did you just say Padfoot? Evans can not only distract you but can also lift your mood? What am I doing here then? Trying to make you feel better? Something Evans can do just by existing? Wow, I'm having performance anxiety now-"

James sent a flying pillow that hit Sirius square in the face.

"Mind your own business." said James.

"And let you get back to the thoughts of your dear Evans?"

"Leave it alone, Pads."

"I can't believe this. It's Pads now," remarked Sirius, rolling his eyes, "what has she given you a love potion?," before James could answer, Sirius continued, "By the way the funeral that you're petrified to attend, you'll be, I don't know what to say, excited to know that Lily will be coming too."

James heart skipped a beat and another beat because he was so taken aback when it happened in the first place. He sure was still petrified of attending that funeral, but the thought of seeing Lily again made his head feel lighter, much lighter. Sometimes his own self astonished him in the crazies ways. He had just a minute before thought that the thoughts of Lily might be able to create a moment of distraction but the very mention of the possibility of seeing Lily in less than a week had his insides battling with a hell lot of butterflies while his heart kept on fighting to survive, given that the chain reaction, of his heart skipping beats, was set off. He wasn't sure what exactly he would say or do around her. Would she talk to me? Surely she wont create a scene at funeral by picking a fight, thought James. But then who was he kidding. He's the one always picking at her. He was just thinking about what he'd say to Lily when his mother called for him and Sirius. His dad was home.

James and Sirius rushed downstairs where Euphemia and Fleamont were talking in hushed tones. Seeing the two of them practically flying off the stairs to meet the latter, they discontinued their conversation and turned their attention to the two boys standing before them, panting.

"Always lovely to see you boys doing cardio." chuckled Fleamont. But the lines around his tired eyes gave away his weariness.

"How are you? How'd the operation go? Is anybody hurt?" blabbered James all in one breath.

"I'm good. The operation, for a change was successful. Ernie got a deep cut under his arm but he'll be fine. We found what Arnold was looking for right before he got killed in that operation. We'll have to see what the Minister has to say on it, given that he was denying the very existence of such an object. Now anymore questions?"

James and Sirius took in all the information and then, pensively shook their heads slowly.

Fleamont chuckled at their reaction and then proceeded to ask them all to sit down.

"Other departments think that it'll be safe to relocate Frank and his mother for at least this week. Some officials from the Ministry will check their home for any possibility of security breach. We think that with the funeral and so many people attending it, it'll be safe to give the place a once over for any threats or danger. So I offered that Augusta and Frank could come over here to stay for this week. The officials would take care of the funeral arrangements. And in case there is any threat to security we can have the funeral in our neighbourhood. Does anyone have any questions? Or problems?" asked Fleamont earnestly, his drooping eyes making him look as if he hadn't slept in a week, which he probably hadn't.

Everyone shook their heads. The little family meeting dispersed quickly after Euphemia made the announcement that she would make the arrangements for the stay of the said guests. James and Sirius left for James's room after wishing his parents goodnight.

When Sirius tried following James in the latter's room James tried to fight him off but Sirius eventually succeeded in entering his room.

"Hey! I thought we'd continue our night in!" pouted Sirius.

"It was your idea anyway. But now dad's home. What do you want?"

"Nothing, just that you were thinking about Evans coming over to the funeral and what you might say to her and blah-" Sirius was cut off mid sentence by James.

"Did I say that out loud?" asked James aghast.

"No but you don't exactly have a poker face. I could tell you were thinking about how to engage with her in a grave environment as a funeral, given that you two never talk, you guys only fight."

"Wow you're almost at par with Remus." scoffed James.

Sirius gave James a smug look to which James scoffed, again.

"No but seriously what are you gonna say? Or are you gonna say anything at all?"

"I don't know. After that last day of OWLs I don't think she'll be particularly ecstatic to see me. Also do you think she'll forgive Snape? After he called her a you know what?"

"Hey don't engage me with these mush talks." said Sirius, going all defensive.

"You wanted to talk about my Lily situation!"

"I wanted to talk about how you'll engage her in a conversation, not about some supposition of Lily ending things with Snape."

"There was nothing between the two that needed ending!" retorted James in a childlike manner.

"Mind your tenses. You never know if Lily has actually ended things. She is a forgiving sorta person you know. But of course you must already know." said Sirius, rolling his eyes.

"THERE WAS NOTHING TO END!" said James.

"Yes! Okay! Fine. She may have not ended her very platonic relationship with Snivellus where they sit together in Potions, make and share notes together and even hangout together. They may go back to being friends again.", finished Sirius, hoping he got all the technicalities correct. James was extra touchy when it came to Lily. Not just right now, but right from their first year.

"But he called her a mudblood. And she knows what that means! How could she just forgive him? Is she that low on self esteem? She isn't! I know it for a fact. She's kicked my self esteem through the roof when it has come to it. She can't forgive him at any given cost! I would make his life a living hell if he got away with making friends with her again after having called her that. Lily and I, for the record, will have the biggest fight of the five years we've known each other." ranted James.

"Wow, you really think a lot about her. By the way, there is also a possibility that she may not forgive him at all." added Sirius, cautiously. He was enjoying James's rant about how Lily should essentially give up on everyone and marry James. In James's mind, Sirius mused, James and Lily were already married, and it showed in James's one sided bickering with his supposed wife.

"Well it is the only correct decision. To never forgive him and never share a seat with him in Potions!" scoffed James.

Sirius nodded in agreement, finding James amusing. Silence fell around them and they soon found themselves discussing Frank and his mother. James and Sirius were both fond of Frank and were absolutely shattered to hear his dad's death. The two of them discussed if it'll be awkward having him around. James mind kept drifting off thinking if Lily would come visit Frank which she usually did over the summers, along with Alice. James let his mind wander with thoughts of Lily, especially now that his dad was home he was more or less, free to think about her. He wondered if she's seeing someone this summer. In their fourth year there was this bloke, Adam, from Hufflepuff that she started dating in the summer and their relationship lasted nearly 4 months. For James they were the worst four months of his life. The thought of Lily seeing anyone right now made James's stomach churn uncomfortably. Sirius was talking about some prank he wanted to pull when they'd reach Hogwarts but realised that James had already drifted off. Sirius then closed his eyes and tried to catch some sleep himself. Tomorrow Mrs. Longbottom and Frank would be arriving, and with them will be arriving a need for tact, in which Sirius wasn't quite equipped.


A/N: So, it has been, about 3 years since I've last published a story? I guess yes. I just decided to write this on a whim. If you find any typos or grammatical or spelling errors, essentially any errors, leave a review or Private Message me, I'll be really grateful. Anyway, this is a busy semester for me in college and i can only hope i'll be uploading weekly. Thank you so much for reading you guys. Love ya.