Chapter 1: only the beginning
September the first, nineteen-seventy-one.
The day is one that will forever be remembered as the day the world's collective consciousness shuddered.
They could set the earth ablaze.
Leave nothing but ashes.
Oh, yes, they were downright lethal when they wanted to be. This was something the staff of Hogwarts was consistently reminded of over the span of those seven years.
(twenty years later, another slew of embers—just waiting to be set aflame—walks through those doors.)
Chapter 2: messrs
It's a good word. Perfect.
"Why settle for being famous when you can be infamous?" they joke.
The entire school knows them as the pranksters of the school. The class clowns, the jokers and the ones that never fail to make you laugh.
Obnoxious? Arrogant? Childish at times?
Of course, but not many people have the guts to attempt knocking them down a peg or two.
They'd much rather shuffle out of Zonko's when those gryffindor boys enter, smirks on all four faces.
("That's it! Messrs Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs: the Marauders.")
Chapter 3: prongs
There is no one quite so polarizing as James Potter. An "in between" simply doesn't exist when he's involved.
He's either hilarious or an absolute arse.
You are either Team James or Team Lily.
He's been called a dunderhead as well as brilliant.
But, despite the discrepancy (or perhaps the discrepancy exists for this reason), James is remarkably consistent.
He's typically cocky. Generally bold and unpredictable. Always reckless and loud and consistently after that head of bright red hair.
Of course, unfailingly loyal. Merlin forbid someone try to harm his friends, because he has a damn good Bat-Bogey Hex and he does not need an excuse to put it to use.
And consistently Potter, the toerag.
(So it's a surprise to everyone when the inconsistencies start springing up. And when compassionate, fair, and the occasional bout of humility were no longer the exceptions-that's when she starts paying attention.)
Chapter 4: padfoot
Of all the Marauders, Sirius is perhaps the hardest to put a finger on.
It might have something to do with the fact he never sits still, is never stationary, never static-in both a literal and figurative sense. It was all Remus could do to actually get him to sit down and do his homework. James, at least, recognized that some effort had to be expended. That, and he had the threat of his parents' retribution hanging over him. Sirius, of course, had no such issues; as the years went by, defying his parents had become second nature.
Not that Sirius had any issue with the work. He was brilliant, after all-capable of being one of Hogwarts' best students. But seeing as he landed himself in detention at least once a week, and didn't even turn work in on some occasions, the prospect was a long way off.
That seemed to be a running theme in his life: potential. He had the potential to be at the top of his class, the potential to maintain a halfway-decent relationship with his family. But what scared him most of all was knowing that, once, there had been the potential to align himself with his parents' values, and become one of Lord Voldemort's most dangerous followers-to be a Slytherin at his very core.
And there were times that his friends were reminded of just that. And every one one of those occasions would haunt him for some time to come.
Chapter 5: moony
It's a generally accepted fact amongst the Marauders: James and Sirius are the leaders, the idea guys and commonly the executors. But it's also recognized Remus has the potential to outdo them both, what with his brain and all.
And sometimes he does. Dying the Slytherins' hair maroon, taking the time to brew the potion and multiply it and plant it—it's a prime example of just how dangerous Remus' mind can be when he puts it to use in such a way.
But the fact remains that Remus is very commonly referred to as the "good boy" of the infamous Gryffindor quartet.
Comparatively—if you were to put him next to James, Sirius, and Peter—perhaps.
Barring that however, the "Remus is so innocent!" assumption gave them all a good laugh whenever it came up. But the Marauders are hardly going to shatter the illusion—it makes their hijinks that much easier. Hiding behind the book and the badge, Remus becomes an asset of an entirely different strain.
After all, no one's going to suspect the innocent one of coloring the Slytherins' hair or spiking the punch, are they now?
Chapter 6: wormtail
Peter didn't start as the tagalong. He just wanted someone to reach out to, and there was James, Sirius, and Remus. It wasn't until some years later, between third and fourth year, that it really became obvious. By then, the Marauders had been named, getting up to all sorts of trouble.
Truthfully, it wasn't until they gained their Animagus forms (just toward the end of fourth year), that Peter felt any sort of security in his place with Hogwarts' biggest trouble makers.
That was when he started to calm down.
And so the transformation began in earnest. James and Sirius, picking up on the fact that no one took Peter seriously (and never would, what with only three years in school remaining), began to work toward building up Peter's confidence.
The boy had always been somewhat shrewd to begin with—he wasn't a complete lump, after all. He picked up on James' and Sirius' coaching, and what began as the Marauders fanboy shifted into their grandest masterstroke.
Peter Pettigrew, the trembling lump, could get past anyone with the illusion of incompetence and inadequacy. And once their guard was down, the Marauders could go in for the kill. He was an actor, and that was something James and Sirius had no issue taking advantage of. At first, Peter reveled in his evolved role. Later, though, as they begin to wrap up their time at Hogwarts, Peter would confide to Remus he felt he was being used.
Remus said he was reading too deep into it, despite his own misgivings on the subject.
(Funny, how it all turned out to be their undoing.)
Chapter 7: typical
"Piss off, Potter."
"Aw, c'mon, Evans, I was just—"
"She said piss off."
"No one asked you, Meadowes."
"Oh, don't stop him, Lupin, I'd like to see how far he can stick his foot in his mouth."
"Marley, I can handle this."
"You wanna say that again, Potter?"
"Evans, all I wanted to know—"
"Look, you toerag, you have one last chance to walk away. Choose your words wisely."
"Alright, Meadowes, this doesn't even involve you—"
"It doesn't involve you, either, Black."
"Maybe we should just—"
"Not now, Marley."
"Peter, shut up."
"Oh for Merlin's sake."
"… hi, Mare."
"Honestly, I leave you lot alone for five bloody minutes and you're at each others throats. I can't take you anywhere, can I?"
"Lily, I know they're arrogant dolts, but…"
"Thanks, Mare, that's an excellent defense."
"You don't exactly help yourselves, James. Well—you and Sirius don't, at least."
"I beg to differ. Where else can one find this amount of sexiness in one place?"
"Alright, that's it!"
"Cass, no, put the wand away—"
"Bloody hell, woman!"
Chapter 8: the girls
Of course, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The Marauders were no exception.
Lily Evans-distinguished by her fiery red hair and even hotter temperament. Vivacious and bright, it's a wonder James doesn't come away burned. By the time she reaches seventh year, bearing the title of Head Girl, her unofficial title of "Gryffindor's Golden Girl" is unquestionable. And it's not just Gryffindor, either; between the brains, beauty, and talent, she has nearly the entire school wrapped around her pretty fingers.
Really, it's no wonder James fell so hard. He wasn't the only one, after all.
Commonly flanking Lily is Dorcas Meadowes—better known as Cass. When describing Cass in a word, 'regal' is a common term. It's a description most find hard to dispute, going beyond her impressive height and seemingly endless blond hair and extending to the elegant way she carries herself. Her icy, blue-gray eyes are distant, typically watching the proceedings with a sense of polite indifference. Not to say the girl doesn't have something of a temper-the girl had an inner fire that can easily match Lily's (and it took a discerning eye to see past the walls and see that). It's a special sort of person that knows just how invaluable Cass is as a friend-a sister: loyal and unyielding.
To balance out Cass's chill, there's Marlene McKinnon. Marley, as they fondly called her, with her caramel hair and easy smile. Sweet and genuine, it's hard to get on the girl's bad side, which is regarded as a sort of urban legend amongst the students of Hogwarts ("It's said that when Marlene McKinnon gets mad, Dumbledore barricades his office). No, there's never any doubting Marley's place amongst the lions; Short Stuff is always there with a hex or a bandage for anyone who needed it.
And, finally, to even it all out, smooth the edges and round out the pot, is Mary Macdonald. To Lily's fire, she's the rain. To Cass's ice, she's sun. To Marley's sugar, she's the lemon (or perhaps the spice). Calm and steady, warm and bright, acerbic and refreshing—Mary has never been very easy to pin down in a few words. It doesn't help she rather enjoys being a double-standard-a contradiction unto herself.
In their own right, they were a force to be reckoned with. The clash of the two groups is one Hogwarts was unlikely to forget, the memories left recorded in the whisper of the tapestries and the ripples of the lake.
It's Peter that first tries to tackle the idea.
“There has to be… something,” he says one night, staring at the full moon.
Sirius and James, confused until they follow Peter’s gaze, look at each other, then the empty bed, then nod.
“Peter,” James begins, calling the boy’s attention, “I do believe you’re right.”
Chapter 10: mascots
“What are you drawing?”
“The House mascots.”
“Oh!” Remus takes a moment to examine his friend’s handiwork. “Well, that’s a fantastic badger.”
“… It’s supposed to be the lion.”
“… I knew that.”
And the Sirius joins them.
“Is that a sausage? Because if you meant for that to be a snake, you did a—“
“Bloody brilliant job,” Sirius corrects himself upon seeing the look in Remus’ eye, clearing his throat before returning his attention to the drawing. “I will say your raven looks particularly spot-on.”
“Hang on,” Remus frowns. “Ravenclaw’s mascot is an eagle.”
“Bullocks,” Sirius protested. “Why the hell would it be an eagle with a name like Ravenclaw?”
“Because ravens carry a lot of negative connotation, I guess. Harbingers of death and all.”
“Har-what-now? We were talking about how the ‘claws definitely have a raven for their mascot.”
“It’s an eagle.” James suddenly comes up, his glasses broken in the center, a lens cracked.
Remus takes one look at his glasses and sighs. “Lily?”
“Yeah,” James replies glumly.
“Wait, eagles?” Peter butts in, frowning.
“Don’t you go changing sides on me now, Peter,” Sirius says, eyeing the smaller boy. “We have to remain firm in our conviction!”
“Sirius,” Remus begins, handing James’ his repaired glasses. “Your conviction doesn’t do anything to change the fact that Rowena chose an eagle because they serve as a better symbol for the Ravenclaw House.”
They quickly descend to bickering, until a logical, deadpan voice cuts through the argument. “Ravenclaw has an eagle.” A copy of Hogwarts, a History is unceremoniously dropped (Remus cringes) on the table in front of them, open to the introduction. Looking up, they find Dorcas Meadowes standing at the edge of the table. “You’d do better to listen to Lupin, Black.”
Without another word (James swears he hears her mutter idiots to herself, but he could just be hearing things), she moves away, leaving four silent boys in her wake.
A common misconception is that Sirius hates his brother.
And he tries.
But when the rumor of Regulus’ inauguration to the Death Eaters—of the fresh mark on his arm—reaches him, Sirius feels an unexplainable urge to hold a funeral.
His little brother—ickle Reggiekins, Reggie, his brother Reg—is dead, and probably has been for some time now.
Chapter 12: detention
“You know that paper due in Transfiguration tomorrow?”
“… are you serious?”
“No, I’m James.”
“Oh, haha. Very funny. You’re almost better at Transfig than I am—“
“Whatever helps you feel better. Anyways. It’s one of your best subjects—“
“That doesn’t mean I like writing essays.”
“So you’ll let me look at yours?”
“The last time I let someone look at my essay, McGonagall got us both for detention.”
“Who, Peter? Please, Mare, I know how to paraphrase properly.”
“I have your word?”
“Because that’s reassuring.”
“So you know how to paraphrase, huh? Your ‘paraphrasing’ landed us in detention, you dolt.”
“How was I supposed to know she’d check so thoroughly? And look at it this way—she could have made us clean Myrtle’s bathroom.”
“This is Myrtle’s bathroom.”