"In!" Professor McGonagall pointed furiously to the door of her office. Sirius Black and James Potter quickly obeyed, and stepped into the room. Professor McGonagall swept in after them, almost slamming the door behind her. She strode to stand behind her desk and pointed a shaking finger at the two vacant seats opposite her.

"Sit!" The two boys exchanged a quick glance before dropping into the chairs which, after almost six years worth of lectures and detentions served together in their head of house's office had become almost exclusively their's.

Sirius and James looked up expectantly at the professor's seething face, and steeled themselves for the explosion.

"Potter! Black! Explain yourselves! "

"Snape provoked us!" Sirius protested.

"Yeah! He insulted my- he insulted- he…. Insulted my taste. Professor," James said, reddening slightly.

"In what way, Mr Potter, could Mr Snape have insulted your taste?" McGonagall demanded.

"He… He… He er…." James faltered. Sirius suppressed a grin.

"Sniv - Snape made the grand mistake of calling Lily Evans a dirty mudblood slut, Professor," Sirius explained calmly. "He said she wasn't fit to go to Hogwarts, and if James here couldn't see that, then he was just as bad. But, he said, he'd known that for six years," finished Sirius in a rush, hardly able to keep the venom from his voice.

The corners of Professor McGonagall's tight lips twitched upwards slightly in to a smile for a second. She spoke in an attempt at her usual stern voice. "While Mr Potter may have been… offended by Mr Snape's slander of Miss Evans, I still fail to understand your part in this incident Mr Black. Explain!"

Sirius answered with a charming smile. " James is my best mate, Professor. An offence to him is an offence to me too. I stick up for my friends, Professor," he said sincerely.

"Very touching, I'm sure, Mr Black. However I'm quite certain you may forget this act of brotherliness to Mr Potter by the time Saturday's Quidditch match comes around, in which you will not be playing!"

There was a few seconds of shocked silence while James and Sirius processed this terrible information.

'What do you mean, not playing?" James choked, " Professor, we only have three matches to go before the cup final! Sirius can't miss a match! We'd have to get a new beater! It would change everyth-"

"Not just Mr Black will be missing the game. You too, Mr Potter," Professor McGonagall interrupted.

"But Professor-" James and Sirius said together.

'No buts. I've made my decision!"

"Professor, please! Snape's fine now. He didn't even get hurt or anything!" James cried.

"Yeah- unfortunately", Sirius muttered under his breath.

"You jinxed his broom to fly him into the middle of the Forbidden Forest! IN THE MIDDLE OF SLYTHERIN QUIDDITCH PRACTICE!" McGonagall yelled, losing her temper all over again.

"He found his way out again! And yeah, the Whomping Willow smashed his broom to pieces, but if you ask me it was time he got a new one anyway! It was pretty damn sucky!"


"Sorry Professor," said Sirius.

"We'll pay for a new broomstick, Professor! Can't we just do a week's detentions instead or something?" James pleaded.

McGonagall smiled wryly at him. "Considering that this incident took place during your last detention scrubbing the dried gum off the bottom of the stadium seats, I should say that would be a definite NO!"

"But Professor-" said the two boys in unison.

"I'm sorry boys. My decision is final."

"But-" they said together.

"NO! Now leave my office my office immediately. I believe I am in need of a nice, strong cup of coffee and a little rest. I have a terrible headache."

"Suspended. For a whole game!" said Sirius disbelievingly in the common room that night.

"And so close to the cup final!"

"This is terrible."

"Tell me about it."

The four marauders, Peter, Remus, James and Sirius sat huddled together in the corner of the Gryffindor common room, discussing the terrible predicament of the Gryffindor team. The rest of the common room was noisy and bustling with people chatting to friends and sweating over homework and study for the coming exams. Everybody seemed to be blissfully unaware of the small, glum group in the corner of the room, and indeed, James and Sirius had been avoiding telling anyone yet about their punishment.

"We're doomed!" Sirius moaned dramatically.

Remus laughed. "Such the Drama Queen. Honestly, it's not the end of the world if you miss one match, Sirius!"

"Hey! Drama King, if you please!" Sirius reproached him. "And it may not be the end of the world, but it's end of us winning the Quidditch House Cup!"

"Yeah- much worse." James nodded seriously.

"If you guys can't play on Saturday…. Hey! But that means we'll have to get a new chaser and a new beater to replace you!" said Peter, stating the obvious as usual. Sirius rolled his eyes.

"Oh, you think?" he replied in a sarcastic voice. Wormtail was so slow on the uptake- they'd been discussing this for at least 20 minutes.

"This is just so unfair!" moaned James.

"Damn Snivellus and his stupid twig of a broom stick!" Sirius cursed.

"I hate him." James said to the world in general.

"Join the club," Sirius said bitterly.

"Trust me Padfoot. I joined that club long ago."
The group sat in a heavy silence for a few moments, apparently too overcome with grief (or amused disbelief- Remus) to speak. Peter's stomach rumbled loudly.

"You do know this is all your own fault, right?" Remus said finally.

"All too well," James sighed.

"Yeah- but it makes me feel better to blame someone else," Sirius admitted.

More silence, broken occasionally by sighs from Sirius or James.

James sighed. "I'm going to bed," James said, "Maybe I'll wake up tomorrow and find out this had all been a bad dream."

"Wait up Prongs- I'm coming too," Sirius said, gathering his un-done, over-due homework from the coffee table into his arms and rising from his armchair.

"Me too," Remus got up and stretched his arms.

"Yeah! Me three!" Peter cried, and sprang enthusiastically to his feet. James groaned at him.

"God Wormtail, that is so cliché!" Sirius snapped at him.

"Yeah, grow up, Wormtail," James harshly, taking his frustration out on his friend.

Remus whistled quietly. Ouch. James turned and followed Sirius up the stairs to the dormitory.

"That was… harsh," said Peter softly, watching them go. Remus sighed, patted Peter's arm sympathetically and offered him a warm smile before he too proceeded up to bed.

Lily entered the Great Hall the next morning to the usual roar of sound- the clattering of plates and chattering of hungry teenagers filled her ears. Her emerald green eyes scanned the Gryffindor table until they found her friends, who were smiling and waving at her. Lily waved back, then started across the hall to join them.

Out of the corner of her eye, Lily suddenly saw a mass of messy black hair bob up from a seat along the isle she was walking along. Reluctantly, she looked up into the eager face of James Potter.

"Lily, will you out with m-" he began.

"No!" Lily replied forcefully, as she nimbly sidestepped the tall boy, and finished the last few strides to where her three friends were sitting eating their breakfast. She slid into a seat in between two girls and pulled an empty plate towards her.

"So by the way, Frank asked me to Hogsmeade this weekend," a round-faced blonde girl was saying as Lily sat down.

"Really? What's the occasion? - Hi Lily," replied Emily, sitting on Lily's other side.

"This week's our anniversary!" said Alice happily.

"Oh yeah, it's –what – two years since your first date?" Said Emily.

"Yup. Two years ago this Friday," nodded Alice.

"Speaking of dates," Lily said conversationally, "Potter just asked me out – again."

Eve, a slim blonde girl sitting on the other side of the table, laughed. "Old news – James asks you out every day practically!"

"Yuh- huh" Emily's head of thick brown hair nodded in agreement.

"Quite close to the number of times you proclaim your hatred of him on a daily basis, Lils," Eve said with a teasing grin.

"I do hate him!" Lily snapped indignantly, her eyes blazing. The girls giggled at the angry, defensive expression on her face.

Lily, Alice, Evelyn and Emily had been best friends since first year, when they had first shared a dormitory together.

Emily was quite tall, with a bonze tan and a strong, athletic body. She had shoulder length brown hair, a powdering of freckles on her nose, and a confident attitude to match even that of Sirius Black. (Who was, as Emily sighed to her friends, the hottest guy in the history of Hogwarts School and, as Lily said, perfect for Emily in every way.)

She was also very stubborn, always said exactly what she was thinking, and a loyal friend.

Evelyn was quite thin, with a fragile appearance and a delicate pale complexion. She was quieter than Emily or Lily, but never afraid to speak up for what she believed in. Evelyn was also an avid bookworm, a characteristic she shared with Lily.

Alice was the peacemaker of the group, with a round, bright face that was never without a smile. She had light, blonde hair and round, friendly brown eyes.

"It's not funny!" Lily protested as her friends grinned helplessly at her.

"Yes sir!" Emily saluted jokingly. Lily glared at her. The giggles fizzled out into silence under Lily's black scowl, each of the girls fighting to keep a straight face. Evelyn was bighting her lip to keep from laughing. Emily had a hand clamped over her mouth, and Alice was trying to suppress her giggles through a large mouthful of pancakes.

Unable to contain herself, Emily snorted, sending them all, except Lily, lapsing into giggles again. Lily rolled her eyes and sighed exasperatedly.

"So Alice, another date with Longbottom this weekend, huh?" Lily said, changing the subject. Alice smiled and blushed faintly.

"Yeah, that's right. I guess you girls will have to go around with out me," she said apologetically.

"Well, we'll have Danice and Verity with us too, remember?" Lily reminded her.

Danice Chiffon and Verity Hooch were two of Lily's friends from Ravenclaw. They often spent time with the girls, but had recently been too busy with their extension classes in Herbology and Arithmancy, on top of Quidditch practice

(Verity was a Quidditch fanatic). Lily knew the two girls from her NEWT potions class.

Danice was a muggle-born computer- holic with loose curls of shoulder length dark hair and oval shaped glasses. Danice was what, in the muggle-world, might be described as 'Emo', or at least, that was the image of herself she liked to give people. Over the six years Danice had known the Wizarding world, she still had not forgiven it for it's apparent complete lack of computer technology.

Verity had long, blonde hair which she wore scraped back into a ponytail (she never made an effort with her hair, and found it the 'most tiresome of burdens, including homework, and the trial of her life'.). She had sharp green-grey eyes that could see anything, and had won her the position of Seeker on the Ravenclaw Quidditch team.

"I suppose so. You won't be totally lost without me, then?" Alice joked.

"No, no," Eve assured her, " You go along with Frank and-" Emily, grinning suggestively interrupted her.

"Do whatever you want to do- you know, I've heard there's an old cave round the back of that rocky hill at the end of Hogsmeade – nice and private, eh Alice?"

Alice flushed and whacked Emily with the back of her hand.

"A cave? Really?" said Eve excitedly, completely missing the point of the comment. "Ooh, d'you think we could go check it out sometime? Maybe do a bit of exploring?" Emily laughed at her eagerness.

"I think that sort of thing might be more in out friend James Potter's vicinity of work – Miss Lily here may not approve," she said, glancing down the long table at James, who was sitting with his friends a few seats down.
Lily looked too, and said to no one in particular, "I hate him."

"So we've heard," said Alice in a bored voice.

"He's such an idiot. Just look at him!" Lily indicated James, who was entertaining his fellow diners by juggling two roast potatoes and an apple from his plate.

"Whatever Lily, he's cute," Em said, ladling baked beans over her spaghetti.

"Cute? Cute?" Lily said incredulously, " He's an arrogant prat!"

Alice sighed. "You know he's crazy about you, Lil. Maybe if you just tried to get to know him-"

"No! I know all that I need to know about James Potter- enough to know that he is the world's biggest bigheaded prat! And enough to know that I hate him with every fibre of my being!"

"But Lils, come on-" Eve tried.

"NO!" Lily stood up, her cheeks flaring red.

"Lily, really, now you're just being-" Alice tried to reason with her friend.

Lily turned on her heel and strode out of the Hall. James, seeing her leave, jumped up to follow her. Remus grabbed his arm to stop him.

"Prongs- don't"

"What?" James said, surprised.

"You're the last person Lily wants to see when she's mad".

"Gee, thanks," James snorted and turned to leave again.

"James! No offence mate, but Remmy's right," Sirius said, pulling him back.

Remus snorted incredulously. "Remmy?" he said in disbelief.

Sirius shrugged. "Nickname? Terms of endearment? I don't know, it was the first thing that popped into my head."

"Whatever. That's not the point. The point is James really shouldn't - "Remus trailed off as he turned back to the spot where James had been standing seconds before. He glanced up just in time to see his friend disappear through the double doors of the Great Hall.

"Damn! Now look what he's gone and gotten himself into!" Remus muttered. Beside him, Sirius rose from the bench.

"Yeah- listen, I'm going to go find Peter; he hasn't come down to breakfast this morning."

"Yeah, okay, you do that. Come to think of it, I haven't seen Peter since last night," Remus's brow furrowed in concern.

"You were a bit harsh on him last night, you know Padfoot," Remus added.

"Yeah, I know. I was still all torn up over the Quidditch thing… and decided to vent my frustration on him."

"As per usual," Remus said with a grim smile.

"Hmm, not one of my best attributes", agreed Sirius.

"Although, as with all your other unattractive qualities, it is more than made up for in your stunningly handsome looks, am I right?" said Remus, suppressing a smile.

"Naturally", laughed Sirius. "Anyway, I'm gonna go find and say sorry."

"Right- See you then. I'm going to go try and retrieve our friend James," Remus said, throwing his napkin down on his plate and standing up.

Sirius laughed, also standing up to leave. "He is so far gone, it's insane."

"He really does love her, doesn't he?"

"Closer to stalker, if you ask me."

"Unfortunately for us."

"See you in Potions."

"Yeah. Bye."

They left the hall.

"Lily! Lily, wait up!" James yelled out as he jogged to catch up with her. As he drew level with her, he slowed to walk.

"What's up, Doll?" he asked. Lily turned away from him, holding a hand up to her face. She didn't want James to know she had been crying.

She wiped her eyes with the back of her hands.

"Lily?" James said softly, putting his hand on her shoulder. Lily flinched at his touch and a shiver went down her spine.

She shrugged his hand off, turned to face him and forced herself to look up into his eyes.

Big mistake.

Those eyes- those big hazel eyes, famous throughout the school for leading so may girls close to insanity. Even Lily Evans was hard put to escape the warm peat bog of James Potter's lush hazel eyes.

But nothing is impossible.

Lily blinked and turned away again, to hide her face, which had taken on a slightly pink tinge.

"What's wrong, Dove?" he said again, using yet another of the nicknames for Lily from the list that he had compiled over the years (arranged from 1 to 26 on which made Lily's face go reddest with anger).

not want to hurt his feelings. She did not want to wipe away the warm, encouraging smile that now adorned his face.

WHAT? Lily shook herself angrily. She didn't care about James! She hated James!

What was WRONG with her today? Maybe she was just tired….

Boldly she tilted her chin upwards to speak to him, but found that her words came out in a muddled jumble.

James bent down low to try and catch what she was saying.

"Well you see…. Friends…..This boy…a date…breakfast…..crush….AHHH….Potter!"

James' brow furrowed as he tried to make sense of what she was saying.

Boy? Date? Breakfast?

James' mind reeled as he came to a terrible conclusion.

Lily had been asked out by a boy at breakfast! On a date! No! He couldn't let this happen! NO!

Lily was HIS!

James wrenched his hands from Lily's arm and turned away, as he hit his hand on his forehead.

This couldn't be happening! Of course, Lily had had boyfriends before, but if she was this worked up about it.…. What if- what if she was IN LOVE with this boy, this mystery boyfriend!

"Potter? No offence or anything, really!" Lily was speaking to him now, her hand on his shoulder, trying to bring him round to face her.

What was she saying? No offence? That didn't seem to fit with what she had said before… or what he had thought she had said….

"What? What do you mean?" he asked.

"Er- well, no offence because…. Because I HATE you!" She said.

James, who did not seem to have heard the insult in these words, replied "So- so you're not going out with some guy?"

"Um, did you not HEAR me Potter? I said, 'I hate you'!"

"Hmmm?" James did not seem to take in what she was saying, his eyes glazed over as he stared dreamily into Lily's eyes.

"Potter!" James jerked as he snapped out of his reverie.

"YOU'RE STILL A SINGLE WOMAN!" he whooped, and threw his arms around her in a tight embrace.

Lily relaxed into the position for a moment, her eyes (which had drifted shut) snapped open as she seemed to realize her position. She struggled against James' death grip, before she finally managed to get her hands up on his chest and push herself away from him.

As she stepped back out of the embrace, she slapped his cheek as hard as she could with the back of her hand.

James' cheek turned bright red where she had slapped it, and the other side of his face soon joined it as he realized what he had just done.

"What is WRONG with you?" Lily gasped.

"I- sorry! I just- couldn't help myself!" James mumbled.

Lily let out an exasperated groan and strode away down the corridor.

James, furious with himself, hit his forehead with the heel of his palm, mentally cursing his blundering tactlessness.

He turned about, meaning to make his way back to his unfinished breakfast, only to find himself face to face with Emily Hayward, captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch team.

"Em! What-" he was cut off.

"What's this I hear about you being banned from the next match?" she demanded, staring angrily up into his face (she was at least a head shorter than him).

"Um- what? Em, what're you-"

"HOW-COULD-YOU-DO-THIS-TO-OUR-TEAM?!" she yelled, her finger stabbing into his chest with each syllable.

"Emily, I can explain-" he tried to speak.



"ARE YOU CALLING ME STUPID? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? YOU JUST DON'T UNDER-" here Emily broke off, her voice crackling from all the yelling. Something caught in her throat, and she choked.

"Em? Are you okay? Emily?" James whacked her on the back, which only caused Emily to bite her tongue. Tears began to leak out of her eyes from the pain.

Seeing the blood on her lips and the tears on her face, James took her and drew her into a hug.

"I'm so sorry! I'm sorry Em!"

Emily lifted her head from his robed chest and, looking up at him, rasped "No. No, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have yelled at you….. Not your fault."

James smiled at her. "You're getting my robes all wet", he commented.

Emily grinned up at him. "Here-"

She pulled out her wand from her robes and began to siphon off the water and blood on front of his robes.

Lily strode down the corridor, away from Potter. She thought she heard him yell something after her, but didn't turn around. Potter! He was just so clueless!

Couldn't he see, after 6 years, that she wanted nothing to do with him?

6 years! 6 years of rejection and refusal! Why hadn't he given up on her yet? The number of times she had stamped on that enormous ego of his, spat on his advances, slapped him for his proposals of a day in Hogsmeade!

And yet still he kept at it!

Lily shook her head. She couldn't understand it.

She couldn't understand how anyone could EVER understand the twisted brain of James Potter.

She supposed it was just a Guy Thing, and thus dismissed the idea.

Why had she walked away from him? She didn't really know. He had been perfectly civil to her. He had even tried to comfort her.

Lily rounded the corner of the corridor then stopped, and leant against the wall, her eyes closed.

She did feel bad for leaving him like that. After all, he was only trying to be nice.

She could hear his voice now- he had stopped calling after her, and from what she could hear, now seemed to be engaged in conversation (a rather loud one) with another person- female by the sounds of it.

Filled with a sudden, unregistered jealousy, Lily got up, and stepped back into the corridor, then stopped short in shock at the sight that lay before her.

Potter- standing there, hugging, CUDDLING another girl. Holding another girl!

A furious growl reverberated in her stomach- how dare he! Just seconds after he had been hugging her, Lily!

But- Wait! She didn't WANT Potter to hold her, OR cuddle her! What was she thinking?!

As Lily stood there, frozen to the spot, she saw the girl's head of brown hair lift from James' (No! Potter's, she checked herself) chest, and smile up at him. From the distance, Lily could not make out who it was.

The Brunette (as Lily called her in her mind) pulled out her wand from her pocket, and began to trace it over James' (Potter's, Potter's!) chest.

Lily looked on, puzzled.

Then the girl drew away from Potter, and walked away up the opposite end of the corridor.

Lily decided she had had enough. She turned to go back, but at that moment James turned around and spotted her.

Dang! She thought desperately.

He started after her. "Lily!" he called. "Lily, Lily, Lily, Lily, Lily!"

Lily screwed up her eyes in frustration, and turned around. "Yes, I hear you Potter!"

"Lily!" Potter gasped one last time as he stopped in front of her.

"What is it, Potter?" Lily muttered through gritted teeth.

"Lily!" he said again.

"Yes, I heard you the first time, Potter! What is it?"

"Yes, but see Lila, sounding like a broken record is one of my specialties!"

"What do you want, Potter?" Lily said flatly.

"Come on Lila! It's not what it looks like! Really!"

"Then what was it?" said Lily, flaring up again. "For what reason would you HUG another girl, other than-"

"But she was crying!"

Crying? Oh, please! Potter, face it, girls don't come to you for compassion, they come to you for-"

"NO! I made her cry!"

"You made her cry? Potter, you-"

"Well, it wasn't really me-"

"Be realistic, Potter. You make plenty of people cry."

"Oh? Do I make you cry?" he asked mischievously, unable to resist the chance to tease her.

Lily glared at him. "WHY was she crying into your chest, Potter?" She demanded. James could almost see the steam coming out of her ears.

"Oh- that. Well, I s'pose I did make her cry…" he fidgeted uncomfortably.


"But she bit her tongue!"

"She- what?" She stared at him as is he was crazy.

James looked sheepish.

"Well- she bit her tongue!" he said lamely.

"Yes, we've already established that fact, Potter," replied Lily, "How did she bite her tongue?"

"I, um, whacked her on the back," James said.

"You-" Lily stared at him incredulously.

"Well, actually, it was more of a 'thwack' than a 'whack'", James speculated absently.

"Potter!" Lily cried.

"Hmm? Oh. Yes?"

"Why did you-"

"Whack her on the back? Well, she was crying and choking, so I-"

"Wait- choking?"

"Well. Yeah."

Lily snorted.

"Well, what was I supposed to do, just stand there?"

"So now she's choking? Choking! Am I supposed to believe this- this-"

"Yes, you are! She was choking because she was yelling at me-"

"That still makes it your fault!" Lily muttered.

"- because of the detention, and-"

"Wait- what? You got another detention? Potter, I can't believe you!"

"It was just because of Snape!" James made a face. "He insulted my- my-"

"WHAT? You did something to Snape? AGAIN? You idiot!"

"But I-"

"You horrible, infuriating child! You have another detention ALREADY!"


"When did this happen?" She demanded.

"Oh, during detention", said Potter in an off-hand voice.

Lily threw her hands up in defeat. She let out an exasperated sigh, and took a few steps away, then turned back again to ask, "Why would she care about your detention?"

"Who? Oh, Em? Well-"

"Wait- Em? You mean Emily Hayward?"

"Well, yes, she was the one who-"

"Yes, yes," Lily said sharply, privately thinking that she was going to kill Emily later.

"Why would Emily care about your detention?" she asked.

Oh shoot, thought James, she's got me.

"Well…." He began carefully. Lily recognized his tone. "Out with it, Potter!" she said dangerously.

"Well, he was sort of in the middle of Quidditch practice-"

"Who was? Oh, Snape? But I still don't see why- unless- you can still play can't you?" she said, her eyes flashing dangerously.

James looked away uncomfortably. Lily walked straight back up to him.

"Potter! You can still play, can't you?! POTTER!"

James just grinned shiftily.

"Ahhhrrgh!" Lily threw herself at him in frustration.

"How-could-you-do-this-to-our-team!?" she said, pounding his chest with her fist with every word.

Now, where have I heard this before? James wondered vaguely, then flinched at a particularly hard jab of Lily's knuckles.

"Ouch, that's going to bruise, Evans!" he teased her, rubbing his chest.


"Hey, that's actually pretty original, Evans. Congrats."

Lily looked at the ceiling and shook her head.

"Is there anything else you'd like to tell me?"

"Oh, you mean apart from the fact that Sirius and I have detention every day for the next month and can't play in the match on Sat-"

"WHAT? SIRIUS TOO?" Lily exploded, her eyes almost popping out of her head.

"This is just getting worse and worse! Next you're going to be telling me that Gander is suspended too! Or- or Gabson!"

"Well…" James shifted awkwardly on his feet.

Lily gasped audibly.


Lily really let loose now, her arms waving in the air, her green eyes flashing with fury, and her scarlet hair practically standing on end as she screamed at him.

James looked at her blazing cheeks affectionately. She was so cute when she was mad.

"Evans, Evans, come down! I'm just messin' with you, Doll!" he said, putting his hand on her shoulder to calm her.

Lily took a few moments to recollect herself.

"Yes. Well. I'll thank you, Mr. Potter, not to 'mess with me'. It is extremely damaging to my very fragile mental health. As you can see…." She said, gesturing to her disheveled hair and flushed cheeks.

She turned and stalked away up the corridor.

"Oh, it damages mine too, and mine's not even fragile!" he yelled after her.

Grinning broadly, James turned and walked back to the Gryffindor common room to collect his books for Potions.