In retrospect, it was probably the worst idea in the world. Well, maybe not the world because Hitler had some pretty bad ideas himself, but maybe the country. Definitely the state.
And it all started with the bras and the police.
Well, no actually. It didn’t. The bras came in later. When it really started was with a failed stake-out and the idiotic morons that are the male gender trying to bash out their brains.
At five AM.
“I am going to kill James Potter,” Marlene hissed into the cold, digging her nails into her palms. The sting wasn’t enough to soothe her ire though and she glanced to her right where Sirius was lounging on the damp grass.
Fuck, fuck, fuck James Potter.
This side of the football field was empty and Marlene could just make out the forms of the Slytherin team throwing their armor-clad forms at the goals with all the gusto of an Italian chef tossing salad dressing.
Marlene glanced longingly at the locker rooms behind her. Warm, dry, light, not filled with the sounds of virile, senseless probably concussed teenage blokes doing their best to beat their few remaining brain cells into oblivion.
Sirius, half asleep again at her side, sighed and let his head loll in her shoulder.
Marlene squinted at the cold night air, shivering beneath her jacket.
She was going to kill James Potter. She was going to murder him.
“Oh, won’t you please do this little thing for me, Mar?” He’d asked, looking at her with begging eyes. “The championship means everything to me and now that my spies—I mean, the freshman—are on their camping trip, I don’t want the other team to make up some new maneuvers. They’re having practice tomorrow. If you could go in beforehand, sneak a peek real quick and report back to me it would be great. Really. And Sirius says he’ll go with you!”
Like a fool, she’d agreed. After all, how bad could it be? They’d only hit the field around seven or so.
Her watch buzzed. 5:02. The idiotic man-children rammed themselves against the ground with much roaring and cheering.
Bad. It was so so so bad.
Marlene swallowed a yawn and attempted to distract herself with fantasies of getting revenge on James. Spiders, maybe. Or she could leak all those preening, muscle ogling selfies he took in his room. But he’d probably just encourage it going viral, the stupid prat. Oh, maybe she could have Dorcas run a blog post on all his hair-care products…
A flash of color in the gloom caught her eye and she looked over at the lockers rooms a short distance away, the bright red lace peeking out from beneath the door.
She blinked. Scooted closer, letting Sirius fall over onto the grass.
She lifted one of the items from beneath the crack of the door. B cup. Push up. Some fancy boutique brand. Scarlet lace. And there were at least a half dozen in all sorts of colors.
“Black, why are there bras on the track?”
“Uh…” Sirius rolled over to face her, blinking furiously and yawning. “Drugs?”
She glanced at them doubtfully. Brand new, the elastics still firm and snappy. “I think people were doing something a bit more intimate.”
Just then another growl-cheer pierced the night and she grimaced. Good lord, how much longer could they go on for?
Sirius yawned again and leaned forward. “I’m betting on streakers. Wish I could’ve seen that…”
“But who the hell has the money to just ditch a bra? Those things are expensive.” She held it in her hands, weighing it over.
“Our culprit is wealthy then.”
She snorted then. “Are we seriously turning discarded bras into an investigation?”
“Why not? We have nothing better to do.”
She considered, her ire at James still simmering in her stomach. The football team rammed themselves into the ground. “True.” She pressed her lips together and met Sirius’s dark eyes. “Let’s crack this bitch.”
There are procedures to be followed when conducting international espionage.
Or, alternatively, when you’re turning a 5 A.M. delusion into a crack case.
After informing James of her deep displeasure via unfollowing him on Instagram, a few scowling Snaps and chucking his Chemistry homework at his head during second period, Marlene sat on the bleachers during P.E., scrolling her way through her feed.
Who would leave bras in the men’s locker rooms?
Frank Longbottom, Evan Rosier, Emmeline Vance, Alice Prewitt—definitely not.
Marlene scowled as Lily texted her. I’m dying, she wrote, accompanied by a green emoji. Pop quiz in Chem.
At least you don’t have lingerie trouble, Marlene wrote back, ignoring the rest of her class playing dodgeball on the court. Her sports bra dug into her shoulders and she blew a strand of hair out of her eyes with a huff.
Dorcas jumped into the chat. Hot date, Mar? Her winky emoji contained far too much for the state of Marlene’s love life.
Not unless Hestia Jones is suddenly single, she wrote back, before contemplating that dilemma. Maybe Hestia…no, not the type.
“McKinnon!” Coach Hooch barked at her from the other side of the gym. “Get off your phone and onto the court!”
Marlene didn’t look up from her phone. “Sorry, Coach. I can’t play with balls today. I’m gay.”
Laughter rippled through the gym from those who heard and Hooch scowled. She saw Peter Pettigrew, who acted as scorekeeper for any P.E. matches due to his inability to throw a ball without hitting himself in the head, double over to hide his laugh in a cough.
Hooch looked like she had a few things to say to that, but didn’t know how to say them without being either inappropriate or offensive, but Marlene spotted Sirius standing by the wall, picking his cuticles with an elegantly bored expression on his face (he hated P.E. as much as she did) and jumped to her feet.
She jogged over to him and shoved her phone in his face. “I’ve got an idea,” she said.
Sirius eyed her, dark hair falling loosely into his eyes. “Does it involve setting fire to this shit-hole?”
“Not this time, unfortunately,” Marlene said. She bounced on her toes and jumped straight into her scheme. “We need someone who knows the schedule of the football field.”
Sirius squinted into the distance. “For the Bra Gate?”
“For the last time, we’re not calling it that. James Bond: The Breast Rises Again is obviously much better.”
Sirius sneered. “For an amateur, maybe,” he said, then frowned. “Someone who knows who would be on the football field? Who?”
Marlene’s eyes flicked over to the other side of the gym and Sirius followed her gaze. His eyes lit up.
They zeroed in on a figure standing by the bleachers and Marlene let her face fall into charming, non-threatening lines as they jogged over.
“Hey, Benjy,” she said with a smooth smile. “Long time no see.”
Benjy Fenwick blinked at her. “We have first period together,” he observed, then flushed under her gaze. “Hey, Marlene.”
Marlene tossed her hair and made her smile even brighter. “Would you mind doing me a tiny favor, Benjy?”
Benjy shifted, his face going even redder. “Uh, sure, Marlene.” He glanced uneasily at Sirius, who was scowling at him.
Marlene pinched Sirius and his scowl shifted to her. Hurry it up, his face said.
“Who would have had access to the boy’s locker room this morning around 5 A.M.?” she jumped in. “I’m sure you’d know—you know everything.”
A bit of a stretch, but Benjy did know everything that went on in the school and that was what was important.
Benjy’s cheeks went bright red, but then he wrinkled his brow in concentration. “Well, the Slytherin team was practicing today…other than that, the only person who’d be there is Mr. Snape. He supervises practice sometimes when Coach Hooch is out.”
Sirius let out an audible groan. “Fucking Snape, of fucking course,” he muttered.
But Marlene felt a spark of excitement and she beamed at Benjy. “Mr. Snape, you say? Perfect. Thanks!”
Marlene grabbed Sirius’s arm and towed him away.
As she faced him, she could tell he already knew what she was going to say by the eager grin he was trying to hide behind a frown.
“Tonight,” she began excitedly, “Mission: Push Up Impossible gains even more felonies. It’s brilliant, isn’t it?’
Sirius hit her with a softball.
Marlene thanked the forces that be for small miracles that Euphemia and Fleamont were out when she drooped by Sirius’s that evening.
“Your home is a disgrace,” she informed him at the door before brushing past him. “Is your dumber half here?”
Sirius sneered. “James is upstairs,” he told her. He eyed the hulking rucksack at her side. “What, are you planning to conk ol’ Creepy Snapey over the head with your bag of books?”
Marlene snorted in his face. “Books? Who do I look like, Lily? Are you ready?”
“Let me just grab bail money,” Sirius said, turning around.
Marlene made a face at his back and eyed the piles of dirty laundry on the floor with distaste. Boys, she thought.
“Hey, Mar! I didn’t know you were here,” James said, jumping down the last bit of the staircase. “What are you doing here?”
Marlene stiffened and gave him her most innocent look. “Sirius and I have a study date,” she said sweetly.
James stared. Blinked. “So you’re lying.”
Marlene widened her eyes. “Why no…actually, I’m standing. With great posture, I might add. I mean you could probably balance a stack of books on my head if you wanted—”
“Jesus Christ, that’s not what I meant and you know it.”
“What who meant?” Sirius said, wandering back into the room. He frowned at James. “Quit bothering my side hoe.”
Marlene let out a squawk. “Okay, I’m not going to let you keep watching Pretty Little Liars if that’s how you talk to me,” she said. “Clearly, you’re my side hoe.”
“Why are we talking about garden tools?” James asked.
Sirius winced. “Just retire, mate,” he told him, shaking his head. He turned to her. “Ready, Mar?”
“Born ready,” Marlene said promptly, saluting as dramatically as she could. “See you, James.”
“Wait, hold on, I’m not done—are you heisting garden rakes? Can I come? Marlene? Marlene? Sirius!”
“Great, we’re here,” Marlene panted, squinting across the street at the neat little brick house. “Now what?”
Sirius shook his head disparagingly at her. “Now what? I thought you were the expert here, McKinnon.” He looked thoughtfully at the fence curving around to the rear of the house. “Snape’s not here and there’s a fence…”
His gaze switched to Marlene’s strappy sandals with a grin. “Glad you brought your climbing shoes, McKinnon.” He clambered over the bush they were crouching behind for no apparent reason (it looked cool, Marlene had insisted when Sirius protested at the damage it would wreak on his hair) and started across the street.
“I have a bad feeling about this,” Marlene muttered, but a principal was a principal and she wasn’t about to let Sirius charge into danger before her.
Two minutes later, clinging desperately to the top of the fence, she was regretting that decision.
“Fuck,” she hissed, trying to swing her leg over the top. Her jeans caught on the wood and she grabbed wildly for a handhold. “Fuck, fuck, fuck—”
“Move it, McKinnon,” Sirius snapped, balancing next to her. He grunted as he slid further along and peered down into the empty yard. “You’re going to get us caught—”
Marlene shrieked as her leg slipped and she plummeted.
She hit the ground with a bone-rattling thump and she heard a curse, then a second later Sirius landed on top of her legs.
“Ow,” she snarled, pushing herself onto her elbow. “Ow, ow, I hate you, fuck, ow—”
A light switched on inside the house.
Marlene froze, half-hunched over and made eye contact with Sirius.
Shit, she mouthed.
I thought he wasn’t home? He mouthed back.
Marlene cringed. Fuck.
Someone moved behind the curtains and Marlene froze. If they moved the curtains even an inch they would be seen. Caught. Dead as a doorknob.
Marlene whispered harshly, “We’re fucked. We’re so fucked. We’re beyond fucked.”
“Well, don’t just keep saying it! Do something about it!”
“Why me? Why can’t you do it?”
“Clearly, you’re the brains of this operation,” Sirius snapped, struggling to his knees and keeping one eye on the sliding door. “I’m the sexy distraction.”
Marlene was about to retort to him the complete ridiculousness of that claim when her eyes locked on her bag, lying on the ground next to her. Hot pink straps peeked out the top.
Ironic, so fucking ironic, she thought, but looked at Sirius.
“Sexy distraction, you say?” she said, already reaching for it. “Well, I hope you’re up for showing some skin, Black.”
Snape opened his sliding door on the first knock and the expression on his face was one that Marlene dearly wished she could frame.
She grinned chipperly. “Guten tag, good sir. May we interest you in some sex?”
Sirius leaned loosely against the doorframe, giving them a sultry look that perfectly matched the pink, lacy bra he was wearing (and the matching booty shorts). He’d complained endlessly about this plan, but once he’d actually gotten into the outfit he’d latched onto it with alarming enthusiasm. (Sirius thrust out his chest as she artfully draped a bra over her head. “I didn’t wear this bra to be comfortable, I wore it to be sexy.” “You’re wearing it for a distraction, you arse, so stop preening like a peacock and move it,” Marlene hissed, swatting him.) “Ahoy, old Sna—” Marlene pinched him. “I mean, charming young man.” He was barely holding back a grimace, so Marlene made her smile bright enough for both of them.
Snape spluttered. “You—what—how did you get onto my property?”
Marlene laughed coyly, sliding closer and propping her hand on her hip. “Love always finds a way, darling.” She tapped him on the nose.
Snape looked like he’d been tasered.
“Come, liebling,” Marlene declared, brushing past Snape. “We must away before Anya loses interest.”
“Of course, standing appointment, you understand,” Sirius said, giving Snape a look as they passed. “But while we’ve got you here,” Sirius added. “The names and addresses of everyone who has access to the boys locker rooms would be much appreciated.”
“Sweetheart,” Marlene tacked on with a little twirl.
Snape looked like he was in shock and that was probably the only reason he answered. “Only Captains have access…” he blinked furiously and a glare stole over his features. “Get out of my house, you degenerates!”
“Run,” Sirius suggested.
Hurtling out of your teachers front door while wearing lingerie with said teacher screaming bloody murder behind you is a singular experience and Marlene wasn’t even able to enjoy it properly and she mourned this fact as she and Sirius darted down the street.
“Cold, cold,” she wheezed. “Fuck, we shouldn’t have left our clothes—”
“What hooker wears clothes?” Sirius asked logically, then slowed. He panted. “I think we lost him.”
Marlene looked around, seeing the quiet residential street they were standing on. It was fully dark now and only the streetlights illuminated them. “Great. Excellent job, partner.”
Sirius snorted and ran a hand over his booty shorts. “Are you kidding me, this is what I always wanted to do to shock the ever-loving fuck out of my dear mother. It’s better than I imagined.” He looked down and considered himself. “You know, if school doesn’t work out, I can always become a stripper,” he mused. “Hey, Mar! Do you think I’d make a good stripper?”
But Marlene waved a hand at him, thinking. “Snape said only the captains have access…” She looked up, counting them off on her hands. “James is out, he’s too straight to pull off a bra, Rosier was on the field with the Slytherin team for practice, Ravenclaw’s captain is a bloody idiot—and a wimp to boot, no girl would be caught dead with him—and Hufflepuff…” She paused.
“Zacharias Smith?” Sirius asked with a spark of interest. “He’s always hanging out at those frat boy parties downtown.”
Marlene’s brows shot up. “A partier with loose morals and no prospects,” she mused. She grinned at Sirius, all lingerie clad. “Perfect.”
“Cafeteria food should be illegal,” Dorcas muttered, poking a piece of limp salad with the end of her plastic fork.
Marlene hummed, scribbling madly in her notebook and adjusting her position so she was cross-legged on the bench.
“What are you writing in there?” Dorcas asked, leaning over her shoulder.
Marlene scooted away and scowled up at her. “Stuff,” she said. “Bugger off.”
Dorcas stuck her tongue out at her, then turned to Lily, who was mindlessly twirling her spaghetti around her fork. “Help me, Lil, I’ve been slighted,” she said, poking the girl in the shoulder.
Lily looked up. “Hm?” She blinked. “What?”
“Marlene is being mean to me,” Dorcas parroted, glaring at Marlene, who flipped her off without looking up. “See?”
“Uh-uh, great,” Lily said absently. Her eyes darted to the side and as she saw James walking over she suddenly ducked to dig for something in her bag.
“Hey, Marlene, Dorcas,” James said as he passed their table. His eyes passed over Lily without comment, probably since he’d been asking her out since freshman year and the repeated ‘No, Potters’ were starting to wear on him. “Are you still mad at me?”
Marlene looked up at him a scowl, her plans for the frat party tonight still circling in her head. “You’re out on probation,” she said.
James gave her a confused look. “Okay…” he said. “Does that mean I can borrow your History notes?”
“Not a chance in hell,” Marlene said pleasantly. “Tell your other half that I’m looking for his stupid arse and that I’d like my booty shorts back.”
James’s brows shot up. “Would these shorts happen to have the words bootylicious on the back?”
Marlene’s eyes narrowed. “Yes. Why?”
“Sirius has taken to wearing them around the house,” James said wearily. “Almost gave my mum a heart attack.”
Marlene wrinkled her nose. “Tell him if he gets anything on them I will murder and castrate his dead body,” she said. “You can quote me on that.”
James saluted. “Aye, aye, Captain.” His eyes darted down to the table. “Wouldn’t dare disobey orders.”
Lily let out a choking sound and Marlene furrowed her brow at her. “You okay?”
Lily nodded, face red and ducked back to her bag.
Dorcas frowned at Lily. “What are you still looking for in that bag?”
Lily let out a squeaking noise, but didn’t raise her head. “Just…stuff,” she said, voice muffled. “Women stuff.”
Dorcas scrunched her brow. “Women stuff?”
“Tampons!” Lily burst out, raising her head. Her face was red. “Tampons. I need tampons.”
James’s cheeks went red and he couldn’t look Marlene in the eye. “Well, that’s, I’ll just—” He backed away.
Marlene frowned after him for a moment. She’d never known James to be squeamish about their ‘womanly problems’ before. He used to leave chocolate in her locker when she was on her period.
Dorcas gave Lily an odd look. “Are you okay, Lil?”
Lily nodded quickly, her face still red. She began shoving her things back in her bag. “You know, I just realized I forgot my Chem homework in my locker—” Her eyes darted. “Gotta go get that before next period.”
Dorcas stared at her, then tilted her head towards Marlene. “Is it just me or is she acting even loopier than normal?” she muttered with a laugh.
Marlene looked up with a scowl. “I don’t have time for petty dramas, Dorcas,” she snapped and shut her notebook. “Excuse me, I have to turn myself into a drunken frat boy.”
Dorcas sighed up at the ceiling. “What is my life coming to,” she asked herself.
Marlene was woken at 11:32 P.M. by pounding on her front door and her great-aunt shouting at her to ‘quiet down that queer racket’.
Marlene rubbed a hand over her tired face, mentally cursing the entire world as she pulled the front door open.
She blinked blearily at Sirius. “What,” she said.
Sirius raised his eyebrows at the sight of her and looked her up and down. “What even is that?” he said, eyeing her attire.
“Oh shut up, it’s a Tuesday night. I’m not going to wearing my finest silk.” Marlene yawned and leaned against the front door. “Anyway, what’s up?”
“I found a frat party happening tonight,” he said. “Down on Mason street. And I cornered Smith’s sister and she said he’d probably be there.”
Marlene’s brows shot up. “Did she now? Hm. Do you think we should dress up for this?”
“Always,” Sirius answered promptly.
“Well, too bad, we don’t want to attract more attention than we need to,” Marlene said, turning around. “Give me five minutes.”
“Oh, come on, my argument is—”
“You still sleep with a teddy bear so your argument is invalid.”
“Padfoot is a fierce guard animal!” Sirius called indignantly.
“Quiet!” her great-aunt shouted.
“So, we’re both underage and neither of us are in uni,” Sirius said as they stood on the sidewalk in front of a large frat house where they could see a party in full swing. “Any idea how we’re getting in here?”
“Follow my lead,” Marlene said promptly and dragged him forward onto the lawn.
They got a few strange looks, but most of the people were too drunk or high to tell them to leave.
Marlene breezed through the open doorway and a girl holding a red Solo cup stepped in front of them.
“Hey, what’re you doing here?” she asked them suspiciously, looking them up and down.
“We’re students,” Marlene said, tossing her hair. “I’m Rosemary Edwards. I take Psych with Leo.”
“Is there any other Leo?” Marlene asked with a laugh.
“There’s four of them,” the girl said, then looked at Sirius, who was wearing a “HOGWARTS HIGH’ sweatshirt and her brows narrowed. “What’s your name again?”
“My name is Blanche.”
“I thought your name was Rosemary.”
“Rosemary is the name my parents gave me. You can call me Trudy,” Marlene said.
“I thought you just said your name was Blanche.”
She snorted. “Blanche? Ew. My name is Rosemary.”
The girl looked thoroughly confused and Sirius jumped in. “Any idea where we can get some booze?”
Marlene hit him.
“I mean, know where we can find Zacharias Smith?” he amended, rubbing his arm. “Preferably near the bar.”
“Heather, what’s going on?”
Marlene cursed mentally as she looked up, pasting her most charming smile as a tall, sandy-haired bloke stopped next to them.
Heather glanced up. “These two are—” she stopped with a frown and glanced at Marlene. She tried again. “This is—they’re trying to sneak into the party,” she said finally.
Marlene was about to call on every bit of charm and persuasion she had buried inside her when Sirius stepped forward, his eyes on the bloke. “We’re with Gamma Thelta Beta,” he said, his dark hair falling into his eyes. His lips twisted in a sardonic grin as he looked the bloke up and down. “Just a misunderstanding.”
Marlene looked back and forth between the two and she was shocked to see a hint of red appear in the bloke’s cheeks.
He eyed Sirius for a moment, then he grinned and turned to Heather. “It’s alright, they’re with me,” he said.
The girl stared and Marlene felt like joining her. “Whatever,” she muttered after a second. “If you want to hit on teenage boys, be my guest, Lupin.”
“Lupin, hm?” Sirius asked once she’d left. He was looking at the bloke in a way that Marlene had only seen him do once or twice. “Like a wolf?”
“Remus Lupin,” the bloke said with a shrug and grin. “Double wolf. My parents had a sense of humor.”
Sirius laughed, but Marlene wasn’t in the mood to watch him flirt his way into some frat boy’s trousers.
“You can make eyes at him later,” she said, grabbing Sirius’s arm. “Right now we need to find Smith.”
“Zacharias Smith?” Remus asked. “He’s on the second floor.”
Marlene perked up. “Brilliant. You were useful after all.”
“Ignore her,” Sirius said. “She’s mentally deranged.”
Remus chuckled and eyed his sweatshirt. “So, what’s a pair of Hogwarts students doing here?”
“Oh, you know, living life,” Sirius said evasively. He winked at Remus. “What about you? You look more suited to a library than a party house.”
To Marlene that sounded like the worst sort of insult, but that just showed what she knew about blokes because Remus grinned and said, “The best types always do. What’s your name?”
“Sirius Black,” the idiot said before Marlene could pinch him. “And this is—”
“Trudy Blanche Rosemary,” Marlene interrupted. “And we have to go. Continue flirting later.”
She towed Sirius away and he let out a noise of complaint. “Hey!” he snapped, glaring. “You’re supposed to be my wing-woman.”
“We’ll get his number on the way out,” Marlene said impatiently. “Now move it and find Smith.”
The house was crowded with people in various states of drunkenness and undress and the pulsing music was making Marlene’s head hurt, but she scanned the room for the stairs.
“Weed?” A stumbling frat boy shoved a pink zip lock bag at them.
Sirius looked affronted. “I’m a child of God, I don’t do that shit.”
The frat boy was silent for a beat, staring at them. Then— “Did I ever tell you about that time I joined a cult?”
“God, I hate parties,” Marlene muttered, giving him a look and shoving past without an answer. They climbed the stairs to the second floor, avoiding drunken people stumbling into their path and some poor girl throwing up in a planter.
“Bingo,” Sirius said after a second of looking around the landing. “Dumbass at 3 o’clock.”
Marlene zeroed in on the bleach-blonde head of Zacharias Smith, tucked neatly in the corner with a girl who looked to be at least 25 and smiled grimly. “Let’s crash his party, shall we?”
She breezed over and plucked the girl’s hand away seconds before it touched Zacharias’s hand. “That’s illegal for another year, you know,” she said with a winning smile. “Mind if I borrow the little rascal for a sec? Thanks.”
Without waiting for an answer from either of them, she towed Zacharias toward the bathroom.
“What the hell--” he started, then did a double-take. “McKinnon?”
“Shut the door,” Marlene told Sirius as he slipped into the bathroom after them. She turned her smile on Zacharias. “So, Smith, care to talk to us about the locker rooms yesterday morning?”
Zacharias’s face bleached whiter than his hair and he opened his mouth instantly, starting to babble. “Look, I swear, the weed wasn’t for me—I was just meeting the dealer for a friend, I didn’t take any of it—”
Sirius groaned with disgust. “He’s not going to tell us anything, Mar,” he said. “Little shit probably can’t even remember where he left his trousers.”
“Hey!” Zacharias protested, then looked down at his bare legs and paused. “Have either of you seen my trousers?”
“What about your dealer?” Marlene pressed. “When you were meeting, did you see any bras?”
His brows shot up. “Bras? Why the fuck would I have seen any bras?” He seemed to remember that they currently held his fate in their hands and added, “Ma’am.”
“Fine, no bras,” Marlene said, secretly pleased by the ma’am. Her friends could learn a few things from this boy. “What time was this?”
“4…4:45?” Zacharias guessed. “I was back here by five though, Lupin said I couldn’t crash if I kept interrupting his morning shower.”
Sirius perked up.
Marlene swatted him. “What about your dealer? Did he leave with you?”
“She hung around a bit after I left,” Zacharias shrugged. “I think. I dunno.” He peered up at her. “Hey, McKinnon, you even been with a bloke before?”
Sirius made a low growling sound and his fist clenched, but Marlene pushed his hand down and gave Zacharias a frosty smile. “I don’t think you boys are ready for me,” she said calmly. “What’s the name of your dealer and where can we find her?”
“Rita Skeeter,” Zacharias said. “She hangs out down by Viola Street.”
There was a sudden bang on the door and it swung open. Remus poked his head in, face mildly strained.
“Hey,” he said. “Sorry to break up this little gathering, but—” there was a crash from downstairs and he winced, “—cops are here.”
“What?” Zacharias jerked and his face filled with panic. “Fuck! I need my trousers!” He darted past Remus and now Marlene could see that the hallway was filled with people pushing and shoving each other.
“Shit,” Sirius said. “Shit, if the cops pick us up—”
“Guessing you two aren’t actually uni students, then?” Remus said conversationally.
“Nope,” Sirius said unrepentantly. “I’m legal though.”
Remus grinned. “Are you,” was all he said, but the look he gave Sirius spoke legions that Marlene did not have time for right now.
“Move your arse,” she barked, shoving Sirius’s shoulder. “My aunt will kill me and Mrs. P might just put you up for adoption after all—”
“Go left,” Remus said, pointing down the teeming hall. There was another shout from downstairs and Marlene could hear the faint sound of sirens now. “Fuck. There’s a back exit.”
“Thanks,” Marlene said, turning to go, then swiveled back. “Shit, almost forgot.” She dug a lipstick from her purse and grabbed Remus’s outstretched arm and scribbled a series of numbers down. “That’s Sirius’s number. Call him, he’s easy and desperate.”
“Oy—” Sirius protested, but she grabbed onto his arm and towed him away.
“Nice to meet you,” Remus called after them. He waved his lipstick covered hand. “I’ll be using this, Black.”
“I’m in love, Marlene,” Sirius mooned as they ran. She saw a locked door ahead and cursed. “He’s perfect—”
“Well, I got you his number, now make yourself useful and open this,” Marlene snapped, gesturing at the door. “I cannot go to jail before I graduate. I’m too pretty to be beaten to death by prison chicks—even if they are hot.”
Sirius eyed the door for a moment, then rammed it with his shoulder. He grunted with pain. “That looks so much easier in the movies,” he hissed, then did it again.
The door popped out of its hinges—probably because it was a rickety piece of plywood barely secured to the wall—and Sirius panted proudly.
Marlene hit him. “Did you have to break the door?”
“I’m not patient enough to pick locks!”
Marlene hit him again, then shoved the door to the side and came out onto a low balcony. The lawn was below them and she could see police cars parked on the side of the road with sirens blaring.
She spotted someone standing below the balcony and pointed. “Jump,” she said. “Then tackle.”
“Got it,” Sirius said, pulling himself onto the railing and dropping down.
There was a shout and a thud as the two bodies collided and Marlene prayed no lasting damage was occurring as she climbed over the railing, prayed and let go.
She hit the ground and stumbled, her ankles screaming with the impact, but she managed not to fall over.
She looked up and saw Sirius holding the other bloke in a headlock, hand on his side and he was—
“What the fuck are you doing?” she asked, coming up to them.
Sirius shoved the bloke away. “I thought you said to tickle him!”
“I said tackle! Tackle!”
“Oh, that makes more sense.”
“What the hell man,” the bloke slurred from the ground, bleary eyes barely focusing on them. “What happened to the music?”
“Just leave him,” Marlene said, then squinted at the cops amassing on the pavement and cursed. “Shit. Time to run.”
Sirius grabbed her hand and Marlene took a moment to comprehend the ridiculousness of the situation. Running from the cops with her best friend after jumping out a window.
It really was Mission: Impossible.
“Slow down,” she wheezed as they raced along the street. There were dozens of cars—it looked like the entire police force had come out to bust the party. Must have been a slow night. “Fuck, I’m not wearing the right bra for this—”
She dropped Sirius’s arm and clutched her chest with both hands as they jogged as far away as they could get. “Ow, ow, ow—”
“Police!” Sirius said, swerving and pulling her down behind a car. He panted.
“Double D’s? More like double damn, my back hurts,” she muttered, crouching behind the car and panting. “Fuck, fuck, fuck.” She peered across the street, where two policemen were standing.
Sirius was rummaging through some random bag he must’ve grabbed at the frat house and she glared at him as the crinkle echoed loudly in the street.
Shut up, she mouthed.
“They can’t hear us,” Sirius muttered. “You know, you’re going to have to eat something if you want to run from cops all day,” he added, shoving a pack of Pralines at her.
Marlene glared. “I’m not disputing that,” she hissed quietly, “but did you have to get the plain kind? You know my Eden is sour cream and onion.”
“Criminals can’t be choosers, McKinnon.”
She shoved a handful of chips in her mouth with a grimace and gave him the finger when his back was turned.
“I saw that. Your nails are chipped, by the way.”
Marlene swallowed her mouthful with difficulty. “Breaking and entering isn’t exactly conducive to getting a manicure.” She shoved the bag of chips into her bag and moved forward, peering around Sirius’s shoulder. “They left yet?”
“They’re heading the other way,” Sirius said. “We should be able to leave in a minute. Now what?”
Marlene recalled what Zacharias had said. “Rita Skeeter. Viola Street. She’s a lady—as far as I know. Maybe she left the bras.”
Sirius let out a gusty breath. “This is kind of ridiculous,” he told her. “Maybe someone just put them there as a prank.”
“Well, if they did, then we will find out who it was and bring them to justice,” Marlene declared. “We’re not backing down now. Are you with me, Gay Partner? We can be like the Fab Five, except the Fab…Two.”
“Only if I get to be Tan,” Sirius said matter-of-factly. “He’s my spirit animal.”
Finding a drug dealer in a large city was a lot easier than Marlene thought it would be.
They took an Uber to Viola Street, which was a run down street down by the financial district and they wandered around for a few minutes, looking around.
“This doesn’t seem like the sort of place a drug dealer would hang out,” Sirius mused, eyeing the bx of pansies on the windowsill of one of the apartments. It wasn’t fancy, but a nice neighborhood nonetheless. “Are you sure this is the correct street?”
“He said Viola,” Marlene said. “And I checked with the driver, this is the only Viola Street in the city.”
“He’s right about that,” a voice said and she saw a woman wearing rhinestone glasses walking down the street. She didn’t look threatening, but there was something calculating about her anyway. “You kids looking for something?”
Sirius glanced at her. “We’re looking for Rita Skeeter,” he said. “Do you know her?”
The woman giggled. “Well, darling, I’d hope so. She’s me.” She tapped the edge of her glasses and eyed them speculatively. “You guys got kidneys?”
Marlene blinked. “Um…Yes?”
“Hmm.” Rita nodded, suddenly looking like she’d made her mind up about something. “You know, you can get a lot for a kidney on the black market. Interested?”
Sirius suddenly had a violent coughing fit that sounded suspiciously like muffled laughter.
“Uh, no thank you,” Marlene said carefully. Dammit, this was such a bad idea. “Actually, we were wondering about something…one of our friends met with you on the Hogwarts football field yesterday morning.”
“So?” Her voice was suddenly sharp. “Are you with the cops?”
“What? No, no, no. We were just running from them actually.”
“Oh.” Rita relaxed. “You looking to buy? I can give you a good deal.”
Sirius looked ready to parrot his ‘child of God’ speech, but Marlene put a hand on his arm. “Not looking to buy, we were just wondering how late you were on the field and if you saw anyone enter the locker rooms.”
Rita thought about it for a moment. “Nope,” she said with a shrug. “I met the kid at 4:45, left right after ‘cause that Snape teacher was skulking around.” She looked slightly wistful. “You know, I went to school with him once…he was quite the looker.”
Sirius made a choking sound.
“Uh, that’s, uh,” Marlene floundered, unsure how to find a diplomatic way to say ‘gross, disgusting, get away from me’.
“Oh, it’s all in the past,” Rita said with a head shake of her blonde curls. Her glasses were missing rhinestones. “You sure I can’t sell you anything?’ she asked.
“We’re good,” Sirius said, starting to back away. “Thanks for your help…ma’am.”
“Oh you’re welcome,” she said, looking Sirius up and down. “I wouldn’t mind seeing you again, handsome.”
Sirius cringed. “That’s, uh—bye.”
They turned and got the hell out of there.
“God, I need to shower,” Sirius shuddered as they jogged down the dark street. “Fuck, I hate that woman.”
Marlene’s mind was racing, but she couldn’t find anything to fixate on. “She’s not the culprit,” she said. “So that leaves…”
“No one,” Sirius said moodily. He kicked a parking meter. “We’ve hit a dead end.”
“Yep,” Marlene said, frowning in concentration. Captains, bras… “We might as well just go home,” she sighed. “It’s…hell, what time is it?”
Sirius checked his phone and his brows flicked up. He swore. “It’s 5:01.”
Marlene came to a halt. “In the morning? Shit. My aunt will kill me if I come home right now.”
“Crash at my place,” Sirius said with a shrug, then his brow furrowed. “Oh, wait. Mrs. P is coming back today. Early, she said, which for Euphemia means like 5:30. She’ll be there when we arrive and her punishments are the worst.”
“So we can’t go home?”
“We could camp?” Sirius suggested.
“I hate camping! Can’t we just stay in a nice place with a bed, and a shower….and a microwave.”
“But that takes all the fun out of it,” Sirius protested.
“You and me have very different definitions of fun,” Marlene snapped. She groaned and covered her eyes. “Ugh. I’m so tired. I can’t wait for death. Also, maybe just some sleep would be nice. Or like, food. Coffee. My standards aren’t exactly high, I’m suffering and need something.”
“Quit whining,” Sirius said, knocking his shoulder into hers. “Aren’t Evans’s parents out of town?”
Marlene popped open one eye. “Yeah.”
“So let’s go there,” Sirius said. “She’s a goody-two-shoes, but she’s too loyal a friend to rat us out.”
“Huh,” Marlene said. “Who knew Lily would be helpful in a mission of international espionage.”
“We are on the run from the law and need shelter from the storm,” Marlene declared when Lily opened her door. She gave her her most winning smile. “Care to be our shelter?”
“Hey, Evans,” Sirius said with a sardonic wave. “Nice outfit.”
Lily, wearing only a thin T-shirt and a pair of knickers, stared. (Unsurprisingly, if a bit insultingly, she was not very enthused by their presence.)
Lily groaned. “What have you done now?” she scolded.
“Nothing!” Marlene insisted. “Just some very minor breaking and entering, drug deals and running from the police. Who wants coffee?”
She pushed her way past Lily and toed off her shoes. She frowned at the pair of men’s boots on the mat. “I thought your parents were out of town?” she asked.
“They are,” Lily said, closing the door behind Sirius. Her eyes darted around. “They’re…gone. I’m alone. Terribly alone, really.”
“Well, not anymore,” Marlene said firmly, giving her a beam. “I need to change my clothes, though, I think the frat boy with the pink weed touched my jacket.” She started to go up the stairs, but Lily darted in front of her.
“I’ll get it,” she said hurriedly, her cheeks flushing. “I’ll get it.”
Marlene frowned after her. “What, are you hiding a dead body up there?” she joked.
Lily froze, then let out a choked laugh. “What, no, of course not,” she said with an uneasy giggle. “Why would you, so silly—I’ll just get those clothes, Marlene. You start the coffee.”
“She gets loopier every day,” Sirius said, coming to a stop by her side.
“Uh uh,” Marlene said. She frowned. “I forgot what I was doing.”
Sirius nodded sagely. “That’s because we’re all just a real life version of Sims…and God just cancelled your action.”
“Oh, shut up. I’m going to get food.”
They convened for a very strange Council of War (as Sirius insisted on calling it) in Lily’s living room, in which the thrones were couch cushions, the round table was a stool and the refreshments were day old cold pizza.
“Well, I’m no expert –” Sirius began.
“Then shut up,” Lily said, perched on the armrest of the couch.
Sirius flicked her forehead with a scowl.
“Hush, no fighting children,” Marlene said. “Sirius, continue.”
“We should definitely try to make some damage control before it’s too late,” Sirius said.
“First of all, you don’t make damage control—second,” she raised a finger. “Why do I need to damage control at all? Have we done something else that’s illegal recently?”
“Do we need more?” Sirius wondered. “I just meant, we should make sure the story doesn’t leak, that other people don’t try to solve it before us.”
Lily sounded amused. “Somehow, I doubt anyone will want to solve your crack case,” she said, leaning forward to take a slice of pizza. “What even is this thing you’ve got going on?”
“Oh, keep up, Lily,” Marlene said. “The bras! The bras on the football field! The captains are the only ones who have access to the locker rooms, but we’ve talked to all of them—except the Ravenclaw bloke. Hey, maybe we should talk to him anyway—hey, are you okay?”
Lily had choked on her pizza and her hand was pressed against her throat as she lifted her bright red face. “Fine,” she croaked, her eyes darting around. “Just…fine. You know, I think I need to—” she gestured vaguely in the direction of the stairs. “Stuff. Need stuff. Bye.”
Sirius stared after her with a wrinkled brow. “What the hell is wrong with Evans,” he muttered. “She keeps running off. It’s almost like she finally got a life.”
Marlene was about to reply when her eyes caught on something lying half under the couch.
She leaned forward quickly, grabbing the little piece of red lace and holding it up with one finger.
Sirius dropped his pizza. “Wait. Isn’t that…”
Marlene dug in her bag for the discarded bras from the field and pulled out the lacy red push-up bra that had started the whole debacle. She looked between the two.
“Correct me if I’m wrong,” Sirius said slowly, “because I don’t know all that much about lingerie…but don’t those two look like a set?”
“They’re definitely a set,” Marlene said. Her mind was racing. “But why would Lily’s underwear be at the locker room if only the only people who can access it are…”
She stopped, locking eyes with Sirius and slowly their eyes travelled up to look at the ceiling where Lily had disappeared to. Where she hadn’t wanted anyone else to come upstairs. The boots on the mat…
“Dead body, huh,” Sirius said with a sharp grin.
Marlene started to smirk. “I do believe we have entered phase two, Tan France,” she said. She pulled out her phone and opened her contacts. “But we’re going to need some help…” she dialed and held the phone to her ear. She put on her sweetest voice. “Peter? It’s Marlene. I need a tiny favor…”
“Do you have any idea what’s going on right now, or are you just coming with because we have a dog?” Marlene asked Peter the next morning as they stood outside the Chem lab before school, Lily’s Bernese Mountain dog sitting calmly at her feet.
“…Yes?” Peter said slowly.
“Good,” Marlene said crisply.
“You got everyone to come?” Sirius added, standing with his arms crossed. He seemed especially eager to enter the building, which Marlene knew had to do with a certain someone who would be in attendance. As soon as this debacle was out of the way she was going to give him hell for his crush.
Peter nodded. “Lily was a bit hard to convince, that’s why we had to bring the dog,” he said, nodding at Alice, who wagged her tail. “Should I take her…?”
“Thanks,” Marlene said, handing over the leash. She looked over at Sirius with a grin. “Ready, partner?”
“Born ready, McKinnon,” Sirius said with a salute. “Let’s crack this bitch wide open.”
“You have all been called here this morning,” Marlene began, pacing in front of the whiteboard, “because of your relevance to the case in question.”
“What case?” James asked, crossing his arms. He was sprawled out on a desk with Dorcas and Lily was sitting across the way, with Remus and Peter standing in the corner. “What the fuck is going on, guys? And why did you drag all of us out here at 7 A.M.?”
“Quiet in the courtroom,” Sirius snapped. “We will not here from the defendant until the judges have laid out the facts.”
“Defendant?” James sat up. “What—”
“Shush,” Marlene said. She completed a full pace and turned sharply on her heel. “Now, five bras were found by reliable witnesses in the boys locker room on Monday, May 16th, at 5:03 A.M.”
Lily stiffened and Marlene tried not to let her grin show.
Sirius took over, surveying the room with flinty eyes. (Remus was trying not to laugh in the corner). “Only captains have access to the locker rooms,” he said, “this has been confirmed via the stripper scheme at Snape’s house.”
“The Slytherin team was practicing,” he continued, “and therefore couldn’t be part of the scheme. The Ravenclaw captain is too much of a wimp—”
“And Peter checked out his story, he was staying at his aunt’s house,” Marlene added.
“Yes, quite right, thank you Judge McKinnon,” Sirius said, exchanging a nod with her. “As I was saying, he’s out of the question. Zacharias Smith was at the frat house after meeting his drug dealer, creepy Rita Skeeter—”
“I can confirm this,” Remus chimed in. He winked at Sirius, who flushed a bit.
Sirius was supposed to continue the questioning, but seemed to have forgotten his lines, so Marlene jumped in. “Which means,” she said sharply, giving the entire room an eyeful, “the only culprit left is James Fleamont Potter.” She enunciated each word and punctuated the sentence by pointing dramatically at him.
James laughed. “Why would I have a dozen bras with me?” he asked logically, “And I was home.”
It would have been a convincing argument, if she didn’t see the way his eyes darted towards Dorcas and Lily and if Marlene hadn’t done her research very thoroughly.
“Not true,” Sirius said. “You went to bed early on Sunday claiming a headache and when I went to annoy you—I mean wake you up—the next morning you weren’t there. You told me you went to shower at the locker rooms because the water pressure in your bathroom broke. I have verified through trustworthy sources that this is false.”
“He means your mum,” Marlene added helpfully. “But this does not explain the bras. I was still stumped, scratching my head—at a loss. Until—” she swung her finger around “—I went to the residence of one Lily Evans while on the run from the police. Your parents were supposedly out of town and yet there were two sets of dirty dishes in the sink and a mysterious pair of men’s boots, size 11. Now who could these be, especially when Lily was acting very suspicious, and wouldn't let us upstairs? Almost as if she was...hiding something. Or should I say, someone?”
Sirius plunked said boots down onto the desk, for dramatic effect and display.
Lily’s face was tomato red.
“Peter, please let the record reflect the shocked and awed faces before me,” Marlene said, on a roll now. “But all this was circumspect—not enough to convict these two criminals on the stand.”
“Shush. But then I saw, underneath the couch, a pair of red lacy knickers that I happen to know belong to one Miss Lily Christine Evans, because she sent me a picture of herself in them when she bought them three months ago.” Marlene turned her gaze to Lily, who was so red she looked like she was going to blend into her hair. “I asked her why she was buying pricey lingerie if she was single—her response was that she ‘wanted to treat herself’. Now, as I am not an expert in the strange habits of the heteronormative female, I accepted this. Now, however, I have the evidence and the means to declare you a liar.”
“A liar,” Sirius jumped in, wagging his finger, “who is shagging my best mate.”
Lily spluttered. “You—what, that’s—” she looked desperately at James. “That’s just—”
“True,” James said. “It’s true.” He grinned grudgingly, his cheeks still a bit red. “How the fuck did you figure that out?”
“James,” Lily gasped, glaring at him.
“What?” James said. “They know! They have my boots for fuck’s sake.”
“Well, I told you not to leave your shit around my house,” Lily snapped.
“You’re the one who kept leaving your bloody bras behind whenever we would meet!” James argued. “That’s why I had all that crap with me in the locker room anyway—”
Dorcas started cackling. “Holy shit, Frank Longbottom owes me fifty pounds,” she gasped out. “You—oh, Lily Evans, you little minx.”
Lily’s face was so completely red, but she still managed to glare. “I am not,” she snapped, crossing her arms. “This is not—”
James stood up and dropped his arm around her shoulder. “Just let it go, love,” he said, grinning now that the shock had worn off. “They caught us fair and square. And you have to admit, it’s a hell of a way to break the news.”
“News?” Dorcas said coyly.
Lily sighed deeply. “Oh, hell. I’m never getting my pride back anyway.” She looked at James’s grinning face, then resolutely at the others. “James and I are dating,” she declared.
“Insert gasp here,” Marlene said dryly. She crossed her arms smugly. “You’re welcome, by the way,” she told the room. “We solved the unsolvable case.”
“That we did, McKinnon,” Sirius said, throwing his arm around her shoulder (he winked at Remus) and grinning down at her. They smirked proudly at each other.
“I feel like we should start a business,” Marlene said. “We’re so fucking good at this.”
“Oy, genius detectives,” James said, throwing a paper clip at them. “Before you do your congratulatory best friends hug, you should remember…this just means we have reason to get back at you now.”
Lily laughed and gave them a wicked smile. “Oh, yes, I already have some ideas…” she said.
“We’d beat you,” Marlene said confidently, bumping her shoulder against Sirius. “We’re unstoppable.”
Sirius grinned. "Hell yeah, we are."