"But Lily, I would go to the end of the earth for you!" cried James Potter, after being rejected once again in his attempts to take Lily Evans to Hogsmeade.
"Good. Then you can stay there," she retorted. She folded her arms over her chest, green eyes flashing. "And stop asking me out, Potter. I'm getting sick of it!"
"I wouldn't keep asking if you'd just give me a chance!"
She snorted. "That's not going to happen Potter. Ever."
"Why not?" James looked genuinely confused. Peter felt a bit sorry for him. James was as sharp as a tack when it came to things like transfiguration and pranks, but towards others, he was shockingly oblivious.
"Why?" exploded Evans, "You actually have to ask why?"
Oh dear though Peter, this wasn't going to end well.
"Let's see!" she continued, "From the moment you got on the train in first year, you started making fun of one of my oldest friends-"
"Snivellus deserved it" James interrupted, "look what he called you last year!"
"That", she said venomously, "Is hardly the point. Severus wouldn't have started hanging around with that crowd if you and your friends hadn't made him feel miserable every single time he stepped outside of his common room!"
"Fine. I'm sorry for what I did to Sni- Severus. Will you go out with me now?"
"Second- you are completely immature! You spend your days prancing around the castle with your… your sycophants, playing unfunny pranks that end up hurting people! You need to grow up!" With this, she turned on her heel and spun away.
James raced after her. "Wait, Lily, please wait," he said, his face determined, "Let me prove it to you, that I'm worth giving a chance."
She turned to face him, her expression questioning. "And how will you do that?"
"I'll- I'll go an entire week without pranks! And I'll even apologize to Snape!"
Lily smiled. "Very well Potter. If somehow you manage to do all that, I'll go with you to Hogsmeade-once. But honestly, I think you're too immature to achieve all of that." With that, she walked off.
As soon as she was out of sight, James leapt into the air. "Yes! Yes! Yes! Lily Evans has actually agreed to go out with me!"
"Umm, James", said Peter hesitantly, "You do know you actually have to do all those things first?"
James waved a hand absently. "Oh, that'll be a snap."
Peter exchanged a worried glance with Remus. What had they gotten themselves into this time?
"You are completely out of your mind!" exploded Siruis.
"Duly noted", said James calmly.
"A week without pranks is one thing- but apologizing to that slimy git is another!"
"An apology is one thing", James countered, "But a date with Lily Evans is another!"
"Sirius", whispered Peter, pulling him off to one side, "This might not be a bad idea. We can survive a week without pranks, and honestly, it would be worth it to apologize to Snape to get James to stop constantly talking about Lily and his newest scheme to get her to go out with him."
Sirius froze, struck by Peter's revelation. "That", he said slowly, "is a very good point."
"I don't think this was quite what Lily had in mind when you said you'd apologize" said Remus, a little worriedly. "And as a prefect, I don't think I there is any way I can condone this."
"Relax, Moony" said Sirius, putting his arm around the werewolf's shoulder, "It'll be fine. We're…improving inter-house relations…"
"Really. By kidnapping Snape so you can apologize to him. That seems fairly counterintuitive."
"Firstly", said Sirius, leaning back against the stone wall of the dungeon, "I'm not apologizing to him. James is. Secondly, would you really want James to go and have to apologize to him in front of his friends? Would you wish that humiliation upon another Marauder?"
"No", Remus sighed. Peter was half-tempted to agree with him. He didn't think that Lily would be very happy to find that James had once again targeted Snape, even if it was with a more benevolent goal in mind. Still, apologizing to Snape in front of his fellow Slytherins would have been mortifying and would have destroyed their reputation as the suave Gryffindor pranksters, and there was no way James would ever let that happen.
"Hush up you two!" hissed James, "I can see him on the map, he's coming. Nott and Corner are with him."
"I'll take Nott", said Sirius, an evil grin spreading on his face. He'd wanted to pay back the burly sixth year ever since Nott had hexed him in the back on the first week of classes. The boils had taken two weeks to disappear.
"I've got Corner", said Peter. It was better that Remus didn't do anything very…unprefectly. Or at least not where there might be any witnesses.
James held up a hand, his fingers slowly counting down from five. When he reached one, he shot his hand forward, mouthing go as he did so. It was perfect timing. Nott and Corner were hit by silent stunning spells the moment they turned the corner, never even seeing their attackers. Snape was left alone, and unguarded.
Seeing as he was out numbered, Snape slowly lifted his hands. "What do you want, Potter?" he spat.
"To talk", said James gesturing to an empty classroom. "I promise this won't take long".
"I don't think so," said Snape. "I don't trust you enough for that. At all."
"You know," said James, "I could have stunned you. But that would have been rude."
"Since when do you care about politeness, Potter?" demanded Snape.
"I don't." said James. "But Lily Evans asked me to apologize to you."
At that Snape visibly stiffened, but he said nothing.
"Right, here we go," said James. He paused and then-"I'm very sorry for all the nasty pranks that we have pulled on you over these past six years, like turning your hair purple, forcing you to sing all day, making you think you were a toad-"
Peter sniggered. He couldn't help it. Watching Snape hop around and try and catch some imaginary flies with his tongue had been one of the funniest things he had ever seen in his life.
James was still talking, listing some of the best pranks they had pulled on Snape during the past six years. "…and charming your robes to emit a nasty smell whenever anyone wearing green was nearby," he finished. Snape said nothing.
"I am also very sorry for calling you insulting nicknames," James went on, after taking a breath, "Greasy Git, Sinvillus, Filthy Unwashed Bigot –did I miss any Sirius?"
"You forgot Hooked-Nosed Creep," Sirius added helpfully.
"Right- and Hooked-Nosed Creep. I hope you will accept this apology in the spirit in which it is offered."
To Peter, the apology did not seem very sincere in the slightest, and it appeared Snape was of a similar mind. "That sounds…very genuine, Potter," he drawled sarcastically.
"I'm glad you think so," replied James. He turned to look at his friends. "We're all done here. Let's hurry or we'll be late for potions."
With that, the four Marauders walked back down the corridor, Sirius pausing to jinx the still stunned Nott on his way past.
"James Potter- how could you! You said you were going to apologize, but you just ended up making things worse! You attacked two students on their way to class!" exploded Lily Evans. She was backlight by a roaring fire in the Gryffindor Common Room, which only helped her to look more infuriated. In front of her, James stood listening, having the decency to look at least a little ashamed.
"I should never have expected any maturity from you at all!" she continued, "The deal is off! There is no way I will go to Hogsmeade with you – ever!"
"But- but," James stuttered, "I did apologize to him, and we didn't pull any pranks so far."
"That," hissed Lily, "Was not an apology. That was an attack." She turned and grabbed one of her textbooks from the table in front of the fire. "I am going to the library. I suggest you don't follow me. I don't want to see you again for a long time Potter."
With that, she whirled and stormed out of the portrait hole. James sank into one of the plush red and gold chairs near the fireplace.
"For the record, I blame you Remus," he muttered.
"How is this my fault? This was your idea, and I didn't even think it was a very good one!"
"You're the sensible one Remus," said James patiently, "It's your job to talk me out of doing stupid things like this."
Remus rolled his eyes. "I tried. I always try with your more stupid ideas, but you never listen to what I have to say."
"Oh well," said Sirius, not sounding disappointed in the slightest, "you tried. Now that that deal with Evans is off, I have the best idea for a prank for tomorrow at breakfast. You see, we get the house elves to let us in to the kitchens, and then we dip some of the silverware into a befuddlement draft…."
"No," James cut him off.
"Why not?" questioned Sirius, "It's a great idea. We'd just have to make sure we take an antidote beforehand in case we get any of the doused cutlery. I'm sure you and Remus can whip something up."
"No," James repeated. "I told Lily I wouldn't play any pranks this week. I will stick by my word."
His three friends looked at each other. "James", began Peter slowly, "I don't really think it will do you any good at this point."
"I don't care. Potters are men of their words."
Sirius rolled his eyes. "Fine. What do you want to do then? Go study in the library and be a swot?"
Even Remus didn't look thrilled with this idea, which was somewhat surprising, considering how much the werewolf was always trying to get the others to study more. No, that wasn't quite true. Remus was always trying to get the Marauders to study more for their classes. The four of them did plenty of research to pull off their pranks, or at least their best ones. The Marauders Map alone had taken them around four years to perfect and countless hours in the library. Becoming animagi was even worse, since they had to sneak into the restricted section at night to get some of the books they needed.
"We could go play a bit of Quidditch" suggested James.
"It's raining out", said Sirius, "I don't really feel like getting sopping wet right before dinner."
"A little rain never hurt anyone" said James dismissively.
"No, but some hail might" said Peter, after glancing towards the window. "Besides, Remus is rubbish on a broom when it's wet."
"Remus is always rubbish on a broom", muttered Sirius under his breath.
"Got any better ideas then?" asked James, glancing around at all the others. No one answered.
"How'd Lily find out about the apology attempt anyway?" asked Sirius, "I doubt Snape would have told anyone."
"Frank Longbottom, the seventh year prefect, was walking by after we left," explained Remus. "He saw Nott and Corner stunned on the floor, and Snape looking murderous-"
"Snape always looks murderous," interjected Sirius, "It comes with being a slimy Slytherin."
"True", agreed Remus. "So Frank saw all that, and was able to put two and two together when he heard Lily's friend Marlene mentioned your deal. He told her, and she wasted no time putting the pieces together either. We were hardly subtle."
"True", sighed James, "Maybe next time we shouldn't stun his companions."
"Or at least wake them up afterwards," added Peter.
"Next time?" asked Sirius. "There's going to be a next time? You can't even begin to think that's a good idea. You'll only just humiliate yourself, and it won't even win Lily back. She made that pretty clear."
"Still", said James, "I'm going to do it."
"Are you sure you want to do this James?" Peter, somewhat nervously.
James nodded. "I am a man of my word, if nothing else."
Sirius looked angry. "So? You fulfilled your word. You tried. Let's go back to plotting revenge on Longbottom for telling Evans what happened the first time."
James shook his head. "I have to do this." He took a deep breath, and then stepped into the library. Snape was sitting at a table tucked between two towering shelves of books, surrounded by a group of fellow Slytherins. A gaggle of girls in Hufflepuff yellow sat at the far end of a neighboring table, trying to keep their distance from the dungeon dwellers.
Great, thought Peter, Witnesses. "Maybe we should-" he began, but cut himself off as James strolled towards Snape, his face a mask of determination.
"What do you want this time, Potter", Snape sneered up at him
James took a deep breath. "I James Potter, do hereby formally apologise to Severus Snape. I regret the actions that I have taken against him, and the insults I have flung at him."
Snape looked stunned, but quickly shifted his face back to a mask of stoicism.
"I heard about your deal with Evans. I also heard she canceled it after your first…apology," Snape drawled.
"She did," James responded simply.
"Then why even bother?" asked Snape.
"Because I told Lily I would, and I keep my promises. What she thinks is important to me. Somehow she thinks you deserve an apology, even after what you did to her last year." James turned to the others. "Right, let's go guys." The four of them strolled out of the room, leaving a still fuming Severus Snape in their wake.
"I still can't believe he did that!" exclaimed Sirius. "He apologized to Snape, even after Evans told him the date was a no-go. Our reputation is ruined!"
"It's not that bad," said Peter, "Most of the school just thinks it's a prank. I'm not sure even Snape himself thinks that Prongs wasn't just trying to set him up for something else."
"We can't let Snape get away with it though", said Sirius, only slightly mollified, "We need to get him back big time for this. No marauder should ever have to degrade his honor like that."
"Wouldn't that defeat the purpose of the apology though?" asked Remus.
"Not if Prongs isn't involved. I can come up with something on my own, something that Snape will never forget."
"Well, good luck with that", said Peter. "I need to track down James, get him to help me with my transfiguration homework. Any idea where he is?"
Remus paused in consideration. "I think I saw him head back to the Common Room. I don't think he wanted to face the rest of the school after groveling in front of Snape."
Peter sighed, and headed off. The last thing he wanted to do was deal with a sulking James, but if he was going to pass transfiguration this year, he needed all the help he could get. At least James would be more open to some pranks now. Maybe it would cheer him up to charm knights the hallway outside of the Hufflepuff common room to only let people wearing yellow or gold past.
To Peter's great surprise, James needed no cheering up. If anything, he needed a calming draught. He was skipping around their tower bedroom, leaping from bed to bed where possible, while singing "She said yes, she said yes!" over and over.
"Err…some good news I take it Prongs?" Peter enquired mildly.
James turned to look at him, as if he had only just now realized that there was another person in the room. Judging by his mania, Peter thought this quite likely.
"She said yes! She heard from Alice Elton what I did, and was really impressed! She said she'll go with me to Hogsmeade next weekend! We're going to go to Madame Puddifoots!"
"The girly tea shop?" Peter enquired with a wince.
Sirius stalked along the corridor. It just wasn't fair. James had humiliated himself in front of Snape, and there was no way the bastard would ever let him live it down. Unless… unless Sirius did something about it.
"Oi, Snivellus," he shouted as he entered the library, earning him a glare from Madame Pince, and the aforementioned Snape. Sirius sauntered over to Snape's table.
"Do you want to see something interesting?" he asked, sliding into the seat next to Snape, who merely glared at him.
"There's a passage under the whomping willow. You push the knot on the lower trunk to get the braches to stop moving. If you head there…oh… this Friday at midnight, you'll see something good."
Snape continued to glare.
"Just though I should let you know. In this new spirit of cooperation that James has started." He pushed himself away from the table. "See you round." Or not.