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He Saved Me

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Everything hurt.

Sirius felt the familiar tug of apparition and within a second they were at Platform 9 3/4. It was bustling and busy as always. He barely had time to breathe in the familiar air of the station before his mother, that bitch, grabbed his arm and hissed into his ear, "You better behave this year, do you hear me?" 

He visibly stiffened and wanted nothing more than to turn around and scream in her face, but knowing better Sirius just nodded. She pushed him forward and whispered something in Regulus's ear, to which he just nodded in response. Regulus walked forward as soon as their parents vanished, his eyes softened a little, only noticeable to the people who knew him well.

He stepped next to Sirius and glanced at him, concern practically screaming out from behind his eyes. Despite being a year younger than Sirius, Regulus was almost his height, Sirius was sure he would be taller than him soon, he grimaced at the thought. Regulus looked around (probably making sure that none of his pureblood supremacist friends were around) before turning to Sirius and pulling him into a tight hug. Sirius was so startled by this that he barely had time to react before Regulus pulled back and whispered "Be careful this year, she's-"

He was cut off by James Potter throwing his arm around him.

"Gone soft on us now have you Reggie?" James chuckled as he ruffled Regulus's hair. To this Regulus threw him a disapproving glare before turning to Sirius, eyes soft again, and then walking off. James wasted no time in walking over to his brother, who had been standing quiet and unmoving (very unlike Sirius) and pulling him into a much needed embrace. Sirius slowly put his arms around James and they stayed like that for a minute; Sirius's head buried into James's shoulder, just breathing in the familiar and safe scent of pine wood and vanilla that he always seemed to smell of.

"I missed you." Sirius broke the silence, his voice muffled by the fabric of James's shirt.

"Christ, don't go all soppy on me now Pads, first little Regulus and now you! What is going on with you lot?" James spoke as he pulled away from Sirius and gave him one of those perfectly lopsided grins.

Sirius grinned in response and turned away from James to see if he could spot Remus or Peter anywhere. James must have read his mind because he just smiled at Sirius and said, "They're already in our compartment."

James didn't comment on the obviously growing eye bags underneath his best friend's eyes or the way his eyes darted around, more frantic than the last time he had seen Sirius or even the way that Sirius flinched a little bit every time there was a slightly loud noise.

Things must be getting so bad

James wanted nothing more than to help his brother, but in truth, he didn't know how to. So he just casually slung his arm around Sirius's shoulder and led him towards their compartment whilst chatting about Quidditch and the team that year.

By the time they had reached the compartment, the pain in Sirius's body had dulled a little and he laughed more freely at James' jokes (even though some of them were awful). But he was not prepared to see Remus. Remus who over the summer of their fourth year had grown out of his awkward tallness and now, at a height of 6' 1, looked absolutely divine in Sirius's eyes. He had to stifle a gasp when he saw Remus's green and honey coloured eyes flick up from the book he was staring at. He had to focus on keeping his face as calm as possible whilst the small smile that Remus offered him made Sirius want to grab Remus and kiss him. God what he wouldn't give to kiss him.

But no, Sirius would not kiss Remus. Instead, he would throw back a careless grin and make his way over to sit opposite James at the window and next to Remus on the seats. And as the boys started talking amongst themselves, waiting for Peter to come back with the snacks, Sirius couldn't help but stare at Remus. At his beautiful eyes that Sirius was sure looked like slightly rusted gold reflecting green in the middle of an evergreen forest, at the paled scars that ran over his jaw and nose, at the way his fluffy brown hair fell onto his forehead; resting just the right amount above his eyes, his gorgeous eyes and-

A loud bang sounded from across the train and Sirius jumped up. In an instant his wand was out and pointed at the door, his breaths had grown uneven and his hands were shaking too much for him to be able to point his wand straight. Sirius's vision clouded over, he felt hot and dizzy. No. NO. Not here. Please not in front of them.

Remus looked at Sirius's startled form and, even though James tried to diffuse the tension by laughing, he couldn't help but notice the way that Sirius's breathing had grown rapid and uneven at the sound of a bang. He couldn't help but notice the way that Sirius's hands shook so hard he was struggling to point his wand straight. And he couldn't help notice that Sirius's normally shining silver eyes had gone grey and ashen in a second.

As the world became even more blurry Sirius stumbled backwards and hit the wall of the compartment as he attempted to regulate his breathing, in a second James was by his side and guiding him gently down towards the floor. James started slowly rubbing Sirius's back whilst speaking in soothing tones and modelling deep breaths for Sirius to copy. After about two minutes Sirius was visibly less panicked and he was resting his head against James's chest with his eyes shut, still breathing deeply. Remus and Peter shared a look with each other as if to say "What in the hell just happened?"

Remus sent an "Is Sirius ok?"  look over in James direction who just shook his head and mouthed "Later" before looking back down at Sirius who seemed to have fallen asleep on James chest. He looked so peaceful that Remus never would have believed he was the same boy who had been struggling to breath moments ago.

"James?" This time Peter spoke aloud. "What was that?" Remus glanced back over at Peter who had nothing but concern in his eyes and he couldn't help but smile at him. Oh Peter, you really are the best of us. Remus turned his attention back to James and Sirius, who was still seemingly asleep, on the floor. 

"I don't know Pete." James answered, looking back down towards Sirius. 

"Then how did you know what to do?" Remus pushed, knowing that James was hiding something from them. It was understandable - James and Sirius were practically brothers. They knew everything there was to know about each other and sometimes that meant they hid things from the other two.

James sighed and ran his free hand that wasn't supporting Sirius through his untameable hair, "He gets like that sometimes. I've had to do that a lot." James mumbled and looked up at them apologetically. "I used to get like that too. Still do sometimes." He shot a pointed glance at Remus, "Thats's how I knew what to do. Anyway," He continued, "Sirius needed me. I always know what to do for you lot." He sent them a goofy grin, Remus and Peter smiled down at James. James who was always there for them whenever they needed him; for Sirius when he needed someone to talk him down and bring him back to reality, for Remus after a particularly rough moon and when he refused to leave his bed to eat or do anything else, for Peter when he needed someone to cry to and someone to console him. There was never a time that James wasn't there for them.

James and his soft, comforting hazel eyes that just made you feel safe and needed in this world. His raven coloured, dishevelled hair that he ran his hands through whenever he was nervous or angry. He was so kind and forgiving of everyone, he had a heart of pure gold. Remus knew that nothing would ever change that.

James looked down at his brother, the exhausted boy who had just had a panic attack over a loud bang somewhere in the train. He breathed in the familiar scent of smoke, leather jackets and thyme that always seemed to follow Sirius around. He wrapped his hand even tighter around Sirius's waist and adjusted his body so that nothing would hurt too much when he woke up. James would stay, sat on the floor, in the most uncomfortable positions imaginable for his friends. He pulled Sirius further into his body and rested his head on top of his brother's. 

What had Sirius ever done to deserve this.

James didn't even want to know how long it had been since Sirius got a decent night of sleep for him to be so exhausted and literally pass out in James' arms. He wanted more than anything to seek out Sirius' parents and yell at them, scream at them so loudly for hurting Sirius. For ever laying a hand on his Sirius.

James closed his eyes and softly exhaled. This is going to be a long trip. 

Peter looked down at James and Sirius, he stared at their intertwined forms and couldn't help but feel a little pang of jealousy. He knew James would do anything for him - and for Remus, but it was no secret that James and Sirius were inseparable. He felt quite left out sometimes, after all he and James had been friends first. They had been best friends for years, before Hogwarts, before Sirius or Remus or anything else. Peter had been James's and James had been Peter's.

And Peter couldn't help but wonder who James would pick, if it came down to it, him or Sirius. The answer was obvious, James would choose Sirius over the entire world in a heartbeat.

What had happened?

Peter wanted nothing more than to cry out. To tell James that this is how he felt, but of course he wouldn't. That would be selfish, that would be wrong. He couldn't shake the thought of, essentially, forcing James to choose him over Sirius. Sirius needed James more than Peter did and at that moment, that was enough for him. 

Peter turned back to Remus and saw that he was engrossed in his book, not wanting to disturb him he looked over at James and saw his head buried in Sirius's hair. Peter couldn't tell but he thought that James's eyes were closed. He sighed and turned to his chocolate frog cards to keep him busy. He just wanted to feel needed for once, to feel like he wasn't just there. 

Of course Peter would never do anything to hurt Sirius or James or Remus, but he couldn't help but let himself fantasise about a world where Peter and James were brothers and that Sirius felt like the outsider. He wasn't sure if that world would make him feel any better than he does in this one, but he let himself get carried away in his thoughts of chocolate frog cards and James' arms wrapped around him instead of Sirius. He wasn't sure what it meant, what any of it meant, but he knew that it must feel good to constantly have James by your side.

And how he wanted that. He wanted that so much.

Chapter Text

Although, after about half an hour, Lily came running into their compartment, screaming at Remus for forgetting to join her in the prefect's compartment for the briefing, Sirius stayed sleeping for the whole journey. So naturally, James (the saint that he his) sat sprawled out on the floor, his legs pointing out from underneath him and Sirius in uncomfortable angles, for the whole duration of the train ride. Remus had so much respect and love for James, he was just so nice, it was so hard not to love James.

Lily Evans would beg to differ, she raised her eyebrows at James and glanced at Sirius to which he just replied with a casual shoulder shrug. He really was a saint. He was literally sat on the floor after helping Sirius through a panic attack and all he had to say for himself was a shrug. Sometimes Remus couldn't believe that James was just one person; there was this amazing side of James that really only his friends would see, the selfless and loving James. And there was James Potter, quidditch legend, arrogant, stubborn and the Gryffindor who couldn't take no for an answer. Remus hated how most of the school didn't see James and only saw James Potter.

He hated how Lily Evans, the smartest girl in their year and one of the kindest people he ever had the pleasure of meeting couldn't see James and could only see James Potter. He hated how Lily Evans, who was so caring that the first thing she did after finding out about Remus's 'furry little problem' was hug him and tell him that nothing would ever change their friendship, could not see that James Potter had a soul that was just as wonderful as her own. He hated how the world was.

James just didn't get it. He didn't get why he liked this girl so much, she very clearly despised him and yet he could not stop feeling whatever it is that he felt towards her. Surely it wasn't love... But it couldn't just be a crush; this had been going on for nearly 5 years for Godric's sake. A crush wouldn't have ever lasted that long. And when the one and only Lily Evans came running into their compartment and screaming at Remus because he forgot the prefect's meeting, oh Merlin and Morgana of course Remus would be a prefect and they would have so much fun with that one later, it would have been the perfect opportunity for him to show her how kind he really was. But when she raised her eyebrows and looked at Sirius he realised he could never do that.

James would never betray his brother's trust for the sake of a girl. In the end, he just shrugged his shoulders and let his chance slide. He didn't regret it; Sirius's privacy was more important to James than Lily's affection. He would have done it a thousand times over, he watched Lily leave with Remus who sent him an apologetic smile as he went with her. He looked to Peter who was flicking through some chocolate frog cards and he chuckled. James loved Sirius, more than anything, but he had always had this overwhelming urge to protect Peter from all harm.

He just wished that he could do a better job at this than he was doing. James wanted to be a better brother to Sirius but also be the best friend Peter deserved whilst also being the one to take care of Remus when he couldn't take care of himself. It was all so overwhelming sometimes that he didn't know what to make of it, he just did the best he could and hoped it was enough.

Lily and Remus walked off together, she had so many questions for him, for a start What in Merlin's name were Sirius and James doing on the floor together? There was a perfectly good seat about 50 centimetres away from them. But there was another matter on her mind, a much more pressing one that had been pestering her since she saw Remus: there was a new scar running across his nose and she didn't know how to go about bringing it up

At the end of their fourth year Lily had finally confronted Remus about his absences and after he had confided in her, this huge secret that Lily felt absolutely honoured to have been trusted with, she worried even more for him. Over the summer she had had some sort of motherly fit over Remus's wellbeing after the moons, she had made sure that he wrote her at least every other day and that he told her anything that had happened to him (werewolf related or otherwise).

He had mentioned in his letters that the transformations were becoming more and more taxing on him and his body, but he hadn't mentioned the scar. Lily only felt sad for Remus, sad that someone so kind had to go through such a horrific ordeal once a month for the rest of his life. It made her sick to even think about how that must feel for him. Of course, she had already known that Remus was gay for quite some time now. She had a sneaky suspicion that he had a little (or not so little) crush on Sirius Black, but she had never directly asked. She was reminded of this as she passed her own compartment and saw Marlene and Dorcas being sickeningly in love with each other. Lily shook her head and smiled to herself, they really were perfect for each other.

But knowing Remus was a werewolf brought this crushing weight onto her shoulders and it never seemed any easier to bear. This secret was something entirely different from the other ones they had kept for each other. Lily wanted nothing more than to help Remus, somehow, maybe make his transformations easier for him to endure. Or just take him in her arms and bury her head into his chest to remind him that everything would be alright in the end. But the problem was that she didn't know how to, and she had never felt more angry with herself in her life.

Marlene McKinnon was sat on Dorcas's lap, running her hand through her hair, she glanced out of her compartment's window and saw Lily walking by with Remus. Marlene smiled as Lily shook her head at them, she brought her attention back to Dorcas who was staring at her. Marlene had forgotten how utterly gorgeous her girlfriend was; her tanned skin made her look like a goddess, her hazel eyes shining in the sunlight and her jet black hair was so soft that Marlene never wanted to run her hands through anything else. She breathed Dorcas in, her air of lavender and newly washed sheets made Marlene feel more at home than ever.

Yes, she was this leather wearing, badass beater on the quidditch team who knew how to party any day of the week but she had a soft spot. And that soft spot was Dorcas Meadows. She couldn't imagine a life without Dorcas and frankly she didn't want to. She was sure that this was how Alice felt about Frank, of course they were graduating this year, engaged to be married afterwards, but love was love. Right?

Mary MacDonald sat across from her two friends who were hopelessly in love with each other. They were out and proud about their relationship with Lily and Mary, she didn't mind, in fact it was so lovely to see Marlene love someone the way she loved Dorcas. And even though some days she felt so jealous that in this mess of a world two souls that fit like puzzle pieces together had managed to find each other, most days she was happy for that exact reason; that two kindred spirits had found each other in this harsh reality and they managed to make something beautiful out of it.

She watched as they gazed at each other, as if nothing else in the world mattered and she couldn't help but smile. Mary loved how open they were being about their sexualities as she would never judge them for something so superficial. It brought her comfort to know that they knew that. The brunette sat and stared at her two friends who were hopelessly in love with each other and wondered if one day she would have something just as lovely.

Dorcas Meadows stared longingly at Marlene McKinnon, at her gorgeous blonde curls, her evergreen eyes and her wonderfully pale skin that she would give anything to be kissing right then. Dorcas stared at Marlene. She was perfect; her head tipped back at a slight angle, her dazzling smile was caught in the sunlight and she smelt of the ocean and rosemary. She was so stunning that Dorcas didn't think she would ever deserve her. So she kept staring. Dorcas kept staring at Marlene, not wanting to miss a single second of being with her.

She would keep staring at her, taking in every detail, every curve and angle of her body and her face, every strand of golden blonde hair that moved around subtly as she breathed in and out. Dorcas was so in love with Marlene that she knew nothing else in the world would ever matter as much to her, she was her everything and nothing would ever change that.

Chapter Text

As soon as they had reached Hogwarts, the train slowed to a stop and James, who had been holding Sirius up for the very long seven hours, started to shake his brother awake gently. The last thing James wanted was to scare Sirius. He watched as Sirius's eyes snapped open, at first he looked scared and confused but James just ran his hands through Sirius's hair and said, "It's ok. We're at Hogwarts now, you're safe. I won't let anything happen to you, promise." Sirius visibly relaxed and nodded his head.

"Come on Pads." James chuckled as he pushed Sirius up and tried to stand up himself. Damn my legs feel like jelly. A look of guilt flashed over Sirius's face as James tried to stand up but failed, however it was quickly replaced by one of mischief as he said, "Merlin Prongs, did you age 50 years in 7 hours?"

James shook his head at this and grumbled, "Maybe I wouldn't have so much trouble if your lazy ass didn't weigh so much." Sirius's face broke out into a grin and he helped James to his feet.

"Let's go Prongs! We can't miss the feast!" He waved his arms around dramatically and James couldn't help but laugh a little, ok maybe a lot, but a thought dawned upon James in that moment. It was slightly unpleasant but there was a war going on and he couldn't help himself; James knew that a world without Sirius Black was a world he did not want to be in. James promised himself that he would protect Sirius to the best of his ability and keep him from any harm, no matter the cost.

He grinned at the mad boy and let himself be dragged along to the carriages, Peter and Remus were already there waiting for them. James realised that he had no idea what either of his other friends had been doing, even though this made him feel extremely guilty, he reassured himself that they understand; Sirius needed me and they know I would do the same for them.

Regulus Black was sat in a carriage with his Slytherin housemates, hardly his friends, acquaintances was the word he settled for, he glanced back to see his older brother dragging James Potter by the arm to meet their other friends; the tolerable werewolf, Remus Lupin and the little rat-ish boy, Peter Pettigrew. Pettigrew set Regulus on edge and he had no idea why. The younger Black felt a surge of jealousy watching the group, he hated how the Potter boy was a better brother to Sirius than he was, the thing that hurt Regulus the most was that he knew that when the day came, Sirius would choose James over his little brother. 

He sighed and willed himself to turn back to his housemates, acquaintances, he reminded himself, but he found that he could not turn away. He found his eyes lingering on the Potter boy, his dishevelled raven hair, his bronzed skin that was almost gleaming in the dim light, his kind hazel eyes that Regulus could stare into for years, the way his grin lit up the-

Regulus stopped himself. No. Potter is a boy, as am I. Wrong. The word rang out inside his head. Anyway, he is on the other side of this. He is off limits, Regulus reminded himself of the facts and tore his eyes away from James, but he let himself stare at the group; how they laughed so carelessly, the way they sat next to each other so closely and freely. A part of Regulus ached knowing that he would never have that kind of trust or love in his life. 

Even his own brother wanted to be without him. Regulus Black spent the entire carriage ride staring at his older brother with his 3 best friends wishing more than anything that he could be there with them.

During the sorting of the first years, which was tedious if you weren't a first year, Sirius couldn't help but stare at Regulus. He didn't tear his eyes away from his younger brother's face for the whole duration of the sorting; not when James started cracking jokes, not when Peter nudged him from across the table to get his attention or even when Remus reached over the table and squeezed his hand. Sirius barely remembered anything in form of conversation between the other boys, he only remembered seeing his brother look so tired and so sad.

Where did we go wrong?

Sirius couldn't resist the thought any longer. He had gone over and over their years together trying to find a moment, a turning point, just anything that could show him how he and his brother had grown so distant. He didn't understand how nights spent sneaking into each other's rooms to sleep in one bed had turned into tight smiles from across the dinner table, or how their love for each other had dwindled and burnt out into a hollow space in each brother's life. Sirius had no idea when he had really lost Regulus and he wasn't sure he would ever know. And even though he had James and Remus and Peter, he still wanted Reg. 

I'll fix it later. He thought, best give Reg some time.

Sirius would only come to find out years later just how wrong he had been.

After what had felt like hours, the sorting was over and mounds of food had appeared in front of the students. Marlene smiled and wasted no time in heaping food onto her plate and shoving it into her mouth. Half way through chewing some potatoes, she looked up and saw Dorcas smirking at her. Marlene hurriedly swallowed her food and choked out a, "What?"

To which Dorcas raised her eyebrows and whispered, so only the Marauderettes could hear, "You're so beautiful, but you eat like a pig." Lily and Mary burst into a fit of giggles. Marlene rolled her eyes and continued to shovel food down her gullet, she turned to her right and spotted the Marauders a few seats down. Remus was stuffing his face with all the food, as was Peter, James was telling them all a joke with his mouth half full and Sirius just confused her. He wasn't really laughing and surprisingly he wasn't stuffing his face, instead he was staring at Remus, the corners of his mouth upturned ever so slightly. 

Godric, he has it bad. She smirked and turned back around to face Dorcas who was still staring a her, but this time she was gazing at Marlene as if there was no one else in the room. Marlene had promised herself that morning whilst she was getting ready that she wouldn't fall and embarrass herself in front of Dorcas like she usually did. Marlene McKinnon did fall that night, just not in the way she thought she would.

Remus had been practically drooling over Sirius since they sat down next to each other in the carriage and Sirius's hand had accidentally brushed over his thigh. He was disgusted with himself, of course Sirius would never like him back, he had never even entertained the idea. It was easier that way, at least Remus thought it was. Remus knew he liked boys and not girls since 3rd year when all the boys were talking about girls. He had felt nothing of the feelings other boys felt towards girls, instead he felt those feelings for boys. It was hard to get his head around it at first but he knew it was hopeless. Being gay was frowned upon and Remus had enough of that from being a werewolf and didn't want anymore.

To make matters even more complicated Remus had a crush on one of his best friends. And of course it had to be Sirius. Sirius fucking Black with his leather jackets and his cigarettes and his perfect hair and his silver eyes and that stupid grin. If only Sirius knew what he did to Remus with that stupid, idiotic, gorgeous grin. Remus took a breath in and forced his eyes away from Sirius. He pretended to listen James ramble on about Quidditch and how he was sure he would be made Captain next year. Remus had noticed that James hadn't mentioned Lily yet, which was quite unusual but then again so was James. Remus thanked Merlin that they weren't hearing about her green eyes and her red hair. 

Evie McGrath was sat at the Ravenclaw table with her friends Benjy Fenwick and Emmeline Vance. They were breathless with laughter over Benjy's attempt of catching an olive in his mouth; it had flown over his head and somehow managed to hit Lucius Malfoy at the Slytherin table. After what could have been hours of uncontrollable fits of giggles and cold glares from Malfoy and his lot, the trio calmed themselves enough to carry on eating whilst occasionally falling into another burst of laughter. Evie looked up from her plate and saw that Em and Benjy had started giggling again. She smiled and glanced back to the Slytherin tale where Lucius and his gang of minions were staring at them.

A dark haired boy with a pale face and beautiful grey-blue eyes caught her attention. Evie furrowed her brows as she tried to place the boy. 

Regulus Black. 

The name came to her as she remembered Charms, History of Magic and Potions with the Slytherins last year. She remembered him as quiet and reserved, quite the opposite to Sirius Black who was loud and bashful. The Marauders and always been kind to the trio of Ravenclaws after Remus had befriended them to get away from the crazy every now and again. She didn't blame him at all and he was welcomed openly whenever he asked to study with them or spend lunch with them. Of course Evie knew he was a werewolf, she'd know since her second year, mainly because she wasn't stupid but also neither James, Peter or Sirius (especially not Sirius) were very subtle. They literally called him Moony

They had snuck into the Gryffindor common room many a time to hang around with the boys and had snuck them into the Ravenclaw common room many times too. She thought back to Regulus and any conversations they may have shared. Evie thought they sat next to each other during Defense whilst they were first years, but other than that she couldn't really think of any other interactions between them.

The Ravenclaw decided that she would make an effort to become friends with him as she quite liked the way he came across, she loved the Marauders, even when they were acting like little children and was curious to get to know Sirius's brother. Regulus did seem kind, but the type of kind you had to earn and draw out. Luckily for Regulus, Evie was patient and once she had set her mind to something, there was pretty much no going back.

Chapter Text

Sirius rushed into Transfiguration. He was late. Extremely late.

Despite his friend's desperate attempts to wake him up, the idiot had overslept. It was quite a funny sight really, Sirius Black; usually so prim and proper, holding himself like the cocky, arrogant but lovable bastard he was, scurrying into McGonagall's lesson with his hair in a messy messy bun, trying to sneak in to sit next to James. He slid into his chair just as McGonagall turned around. She glared at him over the top her glasses and pressed her lips into a firm line. "Nice of you to join us, Mister Black." she said.

Sirius grinned, his carefree nature returning to him in an instant and drawled in a voice that could only be described as dork-ish but yet somehow seductive (something only Sirius could do) "Oh Minnie, don't be so formal. It's killing me." He slapped a hand onto his chest and leaned back in his chair.

McGonagall stared at him briefly, then she turned to James and bored out, "Mister Potter, if you could do me and the rest of this class a favour; tip Mister Black out of his chair at some point in this lesson, that would be appreciated." James burst into laughter and Sirius gasped whilst staring at McGonagall. She turned her back, shook her head and carried on with her lesson.

Peter looked to James and Sirius who were almost in tears from laughing, he felt it again. That twinge of jealousy, deep inside the darkest parts of him. The small boy felt so angry with himself for even feeling jealous. What right do I have to be jealous? James and Sirius are brothers, brothers are close, why does it matter so much? WHY?

The internal conflict was destroying him. And he had a feeling that it was just going to get worse.

A few seats across, Marlene was slumped in her chair, desperately trying to think about anything other than Dorcas. That gorgeous goddess that walked around like she was human. Dorcas and Mary were sat in front of Marlene and Lily. Lily said that it was supposed to help them concentrate instead of thinking about snogging each other's faces off but it didn't seem to be doing anything at all for Marlene. There wasn't a moment that she hadn't stopped thinking about Dorcas; especially since she had smiled that way at Marlene last night during the feast.

The blonde knew that if she had to choose one moment to live in forever, and could never stop living it, it would have to be that one. It was just the way that Dorcas was looking at her; like she was the sun. As if she was the brightest thing in the world, the only thing in the room, she couldn't understand why Dorcas was looking at her like that but she loved it anyway. Little did she know that Dorcas was having just as much trouble thinking about anything else other than Marlene.

James had barely stopped laughing. It was so hard to pull himself together enough to try. He was surprised to find that he wasn't staring at Lily. In fact, he hadn't thought about her all that much since they had arrived. It was strange, James was certain that fifth year was going to be his year with Lily, but now he wasn't so sure that he cared. For some reason he couldn't stop thinking about Regulus. 

James had noticed him staring at the Marauder's carriage the night before and he had noticed Sirius staring at him all through the sorting. And no matter how hard James tried, he couldn't get Sirius's little brother out of his head. It was confusing, scary at first, but after a bit he sort of embraced it. Fine, if I want to think about Regulus I will. 

And so James spent most of his Transfiguration lesson thinking about Regulus; his pale face, his striking grey-blue eyes that looked like crystal clear seas but also the sky on a stormy night, his black curls that rested half way down his forehead; James wondered what it would be like to touch them, just to feel them; and his dainty, slender fingers that were built for playing piano, James wanted to know if he could and how it would sound. He realised that he wanted to get to know Regulus better, but what he didn't know was that he wasn't the only one.

Many staircases below them, Evie McGrath, Benjy Fenwick and Emmeline Vance stumbled into the dungeons. They were also late because Benjy had been late getting up, Evie cursed him silently and swore to Merlin that next time she would go up those stairs and shove him out of bed herself. The Ravenclaws had Potions with the Slytherins, taught by Professor Slughorn which was a pain; he was so biased and had clear favourites. Benjy and Em scrambled into two empty seats next to each other, smirking at Evie who had barely noticed them; Regulus, who was sitting alone in the corner, had caught her eye.

She walked over to where he was sat and tapped his shoulder gently. He turned, looking slightly startled but regained his composure quickly when he saw the Ravenclaw.

"May I sit here?" She asked, quite cautiously. He raised his eyebrows but gave a curt nod. She sat in the seat next to him and took out her textbook. Evie turned her attention back to Slughorn, glad to have started getting a bit closer to Regulus. He seemed nice enough.

Regulus's eyes lingered on the brunette. He recognised her almost immediately. Evelyn McGrath, half-blood Ravenclaw, friends with his brother's group but also with Fenwick and Vance. He had been surprised when she approached him but, in all honesty, he didn't mind her. She was smart and quiet and kind. It didn't matter who he sat next to, at least that's what Regulus told himself. He wondered what she wanted, if she wanted anything but convinced himself that she just didn't want to sit next to Nott. The empty seat next to his was the only other available one in the room. Regulus didn't blame her, Nott's reputation proceeded him. And it wasn't good.

Benjy Fenwick stared at the back of Evie's head. He didn't understand why she had sat down so quickly next to the younger Black and he didn't know why it was bugging him so much. He just knew that he didn't like his Evie sitting with that boy. Of course, Em and the logical part of his brain told him that it was just because she would rather be dead than sit next to Nott, he did not blame her, but something was telling him that it was more than that.

Soon enough, the first lessons were over and people were flooding into the school corridors. James, Sirius and Peter, along with Marlene, Mary and Dorcas sauntered off to Divination, whilst Remus and Lily made their way over to Arithmancy. Evie had Care of Magical Creatures with Professor Kettleburn, they were supposed to meet just outside the Forbidden Forest as their first lesson was a practical one. As Evie stood waiting, she was almost shocked when she saw the one and only Regulus Black lingering at the back of the group. She'd never know he took Care of Magical Creatures but was practically delighted  because that meant she almost certainly had all her extra subjects with him. She was taking Care of Magical Creatures, Arithmancy and Ancient Runes. She was almost certain that he was taking the same.

Sirius was leaning on James whilst the Divination teacher, Professor Sparks, was rambling on about tea leaves and crystal balls. He was practically falling asleep.

Merlin's beard, why did I subject myself to this?

Sirius had taken Divination thinking that it would be an easy OWL but he had been so wrong. All of the voodoo with the tea leaves was so much more complicated than he thought it was going to be or should be. He could feel James starting to nod off as well. Marlene snorted and tried to cover it with a cough, she was no doubt staring at the two tired boys who were probably about to be yelled at any moment now. Mary elbowed James hard in the ribs as Professor Sparks moved over to their side of the room, he in turn nudged Sirius and they all started staring with mock interest at the crystal balls in front of them.

That was how they had spent the whole lesson; half asleep and then staring at a misty ball when the teacher was nearby. Dorcas found it absolutely hilarious since she naturally excelled in Divination; she watched the others try to form a coherent set of words together about what they were pretending to see. It took every ounce of willpower inside of her not to burst out laughing, but somehow, she managed it.

Meanwhile, in Arithmancy, Remus was painfully aware of the full moon that was drawing closer. He tried to lean back in his chair, take a deep breath and relax so that he could focus on what was being said in the lesson, but his thoughts kept coming back to the full moon, that was in just over a week. He was starting to feel the effects of it already; joints aching and head hurting a bit. It set him on edge and he didn't know what to do about it.

Lily could feel the worry practically radiating off of Remus, she took his hand in her own and gave a gentle squeeze. He seemed just a little bit calmer after that, as if by squeezing his hand she had given him a bit more power over his lycanthropy. All that really mattered to Lily was that she had helped, even if it was the tiniest bit, she had helped. She felt so perfectly warm inside because she had helped Remus Lupin. Suddenly, the lesson wasn't so boring anymore because she had helped her one of her best friends push through something that he didn't deserve to be experiencing. 

Chapter Text

Regulus was eating his breakfast when the all too familiar owl swept over the Slytherin table and dropped an envelope in front of him. The air around Regulus felt still and heavy. He willed his hands to be steady as he, pretending to not care, opened the letter.

Dear Regulus,

Your father and I wish for both you and Sirius to return to Grimmauld Place over Christmas.

Walburga Black

Regulus felt all his calm torn from him. He was sure that he looked as though he had seen a ghost. They never sent letters or even communicated with their children unless it was really bad. Regulus felt his thoughts spiral and vaguely noticed the gentle hand on his shoulder.

The person bent forward, the smell of coconut conditioner and, was that jasmine, filled the air around him. The person spoke confidently, "Regulus, I was wondering if we could go somewhere and plan out the schedule for our potions project? There were some things I wanted to run over."

Evelyn McGrath.

He understood what she was doing and just nodded his head, not trusting himself to speak. She slid her arm around his waist and whispered, so no one could over hear,

"Lean on me as much as you need."

Regulus didn't understand why she was helping him. He wasn't sure what she wanted or where they were going but he let the girl walk him out of the Great Hall and down a corridor into what he assumed was a spare classroom. She led him towards a chair and helped him sit down. As soon as the security of her arm vanished from his side, Regulus thought he was falling. He thought he must have screamed before the air stopped moving in and out of his lungs. The whole room was spinning. It was white and hot. And... And-

Black spots clouded his vision. He could hear a distant but yet deafening ringing in his ears and was that a girl's voice? It sounded distant, as if he was drowning in the bottom of the ocean whilst she was calling out to him. Suddenly, the room turned sideways and everything went black.

Regulus couldn't really piece together what was happening but when his senses started to return to him, he was lying on the floor with his head in someone's lap. They were running their hands through his hair in a soothing motion. When he opened his eyes, he was greeted by Evelyn's face smiling down at him. He jerked upwards to sit up but she placed her hand firmly, yet somehow gently, on his chest. "Don't try and move. I managed to catch you so you didn't hit your head but you might pass out again if you sit up too quickly." Evelyn spoke quietly and calmly.

They sat in an uneasy silence for a few minutes. Regulus could not fathom what had just happened or why she was even helping him since they barely knew each other. He was convinced she wanted something from him, but if she did she hadn't mentioned it. His thoughts raced about in his head, one catastrophe leading onto the next. And all the while the girl sat calmly and carried on stroking her hands through his hair. Regulus didn't ask her to stop, he wasn't sure if he wanted her to or not.

Evie kept running her fingers through Regulus's hair, she wasn't sure if it was more for her own benefit or his, but since he didn't ask her to stop, she didn't. Evie had seen the Black family owl drop the letter in front of Regulus and she knew how Sirius got when a letter from home arrived. She watched as he tried to remain calm and read the letter, though the panic was evident on his face after he had finished. She had acted without thinking, really, she just knew she had to get him out of the Hall discreetly.

They had reached the Charm's classroom Evie knew would be empty for the next few hours quite quickly and she had presumed he would want space once he had sat down. So, as soon as Regulus was sitting on the chair, she took the letter from his hand and placed it on the desk behind her, though when she turned around she realised her mistake. His breathing had become raspier and more erratic, Evie knelt down in front of him, trying to talk in soothing tones but he screamed. She reached out to put her hands on his shoulders but within a second his eyes rolled back into his head, his body slumped forward and he fell from the chair.

By some miracle Evie had managed to pull Regulus into her body so that he didn't hit his head. She backed up against the wall and started to run her hands through his hair. He couldn't have been out for longer than 5 or 6 minutes but it felt like hours until his eyes fluttered open again. Evie let out a breath she hadn't realised she was holding and stopped Regulus as he tried to sit up. He was clearly still scared and confused but she would talk to him later about it. For now, she knew he had to calm down and rest.

They stayed like that for a while until it was time for their first lessons. Regulus stood up first and steadied himself against the wall. Evie took the letter and held it out to him. Regulus hesitantly took it from her and slipped it into his pocket. Evie reached out and placed a hand on the side of his face so that he would look into her eyes.

"I know what they're like Regulus, but you can trust me." She saw the hesitance in his eyes and quickly followed it with, "I don't want anything from you. I just want to get to know you."

He stared into her eyes for a second before nodding his head and leaving. Evie watched him go, only once his footsteps had travelled all the way down the corridor and she could no longer hear them did she let her tears fall. The Ravenclaw felt so much hurt for the Black brothers and wished that she could offer some sort of comfort to them. She took in a deep breath and wiped the tears from under her eyes. She walked out of the room and made her way to History of Magic, she would be about 5 minutes late but that was ok. Evie just kept walking.

Sirius Black had seen his brother's face after he read the letter that had been dropped off by their family owl. He watched as Evie, that bloody angel, walked over and found some excuse to take him out of the Hall. Sirius had considered following the two but knew that Regulus would probably never forgive him for doing that, so he focused on whatever it was that Remus was saying and tried not to think about Regulus. Though what Sirius didn't know was that James Potter was just as worried, if not more worried, about Regulus.

He had also watched the panic take over Regulus’s usually calm, grey-blue eyes. Both boys spent the entire day wondering what could have possibly been on that letter for Regulus to react in such a way. Both boys were terrified of what was to come next and they both knew they had no way to stop whatever it was from happening.

James found his thoughts wandering to Regulus more and more often since he had seen him staring at the Marauders during the carriage rides. He found himself day dreaming about how it would feel to run his fingers through Regulus's hair. It was strange, for so many years he had been pining after Lily; her red hair that looked almost ethereal in the sunlight, her green eyes that James swore were the same shade as emeralds, her fair skin that looked like porcelain but in the best possible way. And her laugh. Oh how James adored her laugh. Her laughter was a rich melody echoing through the woodlands.

It was bizarre how his mind started thinking about raven hair instead of red, or how green eyes had turned to eerily serene grey-blue ones. But their laughs were the most different things. James had only ever heard Regulus laugh once; it was in their first year when he and Sirius were still rather close and he had come to say hello to the Marauders. Sirius had tackled him to the ground and started tickling him. And whilst Lily's laugh was soft and angelic, Regulus's laugh was carefree. It sounded like the crackling of thorns under a pot in a forest festival; it was loud and daring but felt so magical at the same time.

James knew he was smitten for this boy, he only wished he knew how Regulus had become this divine and gorgeous being when only months ago he had been Sirius's younger brother.

James knew better than anyone that love had no explanation and that you should never expect any logic or reasoning behind it, but right now he wished for nothing more than an explanation for this. The Gryffindor could handle a lot, the weight of all his friend's problems, the unrequited feelings he had had for Lily, all the rejections, the pressure from being the Quidditch team's Golden Boy, the list goes on. But the one thing that he couldn't seem to handle was the confusion his feeling for Regulus brought. He couldn't understand it, and for some reason he couldn't just shrug it off or pretend it didn't matter. Because it really did.

Remus found himself staring at Sirius more and more over the passing days. He hated it. He hated how weak and will-less he was when it came to this intoxicating boy, who Remus was sure had to be the definition of beauty. His mercury eyes always lit up when he laughed, but they flickered like a candle going out in the wind when he was mad. He always twirled his hair around his finger when he thought no one was watching. He would furrow his brows when he was deep in thought and stick out his tongue ever so slightly when he was concentrating on something. He bit his nails when he was stressed and had this one-of-a-kind grin he would throw around every now and again. It was a rare sight but it made Remus's knees weak and made him want to smash his lips against Sirius's even more than usual.

That stupid bloody grin made Remus want to push Sirius up against the wall and do things to him that were so unholy, he thought he would be sent to hell for just thinking about them.

Of course, he never even entertained the possibility that Sirius would be quite so stupid to like him back. Sirius Black was an idiot in so many meanings of the word but Remus was sure that even Sirius could not be so dumb as to take a second glance at the monster Remus was.

It was disgusting and it was painful. Loving someone who Remus was sure would never love him back was a different kind of pain. It was worse than the transformations. It was worse than the pain of knowing he would never be equal to anyone else around him. It was so bad that some days Remus felt as if he couldn't breathe because of it. It felt like someone had taken everything he loved from him, ripped it out of his heart and burnt it right in front of his eyes.

And the worse bit was, it never stopped hurting. The pain of transformations would ebb and flow, the cuts and gashes would heal eventually. The feeling of inferiority didn't affect him so much anymore but this pain never felt any easier to bear. It was the worst kind of torture.

But what Remus Lupin didn't know was that Sirius Black was more of an idiot than he thought he was. What Remus didn't know was just how much of an idiot Sirius was for him.

Chapter Text

Sirius was sitting on his bed in the dorm. He hadn't been able to get that letter out of his head all week. He had tried approaching Regulus but he had ignored him and Evie was too kind to say anything; she didn't want to violate Regulus's privacy any more than she had. So, naturally, he had played it off cooly but was now sat in the dorm letting his anxiety swallow him whole. The full moon was in two days and Remus wasn't doing great. This month it was worse than usual, he had barely been able to stand in the morning so James had all but carried him to the Hospital Wing, he had a high fever and was constantly shivering. They had been told he would be back to their dorm by the evening and that they will not be visiting during lesson time.

The boys had begrudgingly gone off to their lessons, Peter had to catch up with his Divination homework so he was meeting Mary, Marlene and Dorcas in the library. James hadn't offered much of an explanation to where he was going, just that he had something to do, and that's how Sirius had ended up in the dorm alone. After about ten more minutes of drowning in his own thoughts, Sirius heard someone walking up the stairs to their dorm rooms. And that's when the one and only Remus Lupin stumbled in.

He still looked awful; his skin was so pale that Sirius was sure that if he held up a white cat beside Remus, the cat would be darker, his hands were still shaking quite violently and his breathing seemed laboured. Sirius could see his chest heaving up and down from the other side of the room.

Why would they let him out in the state?

He didn't really have much time to think that over because Remus had swayed dangerously forward and Sirius shot up to his side. Remus's skin felt hot but now that he was closer he could hear his teeth chattering. Sirius threw Remus's arm around his shoulder and guided him to his bed. The werewolf opened his eyes and looked at Sirius. "Diolch yn fawr iawn."

Sirius just smiled down at him and said "Shut up, you pretentious bastard." Remus chuckled weakly and fought to keep his eyes open. "Why did they let you out like this Remus?" Sirius had started playing with Remus's hair, it was usually soft and curly but it was stuck to his forehead because of how much he was sweating.

"I insisted." He replied. Remus's ears had started ringing, it was getting harder and harder to keep his eyes open. Remus was determined to, purely for Sirius's sake; he knew Sirius would worry if he just passed out next to him.

Diolch yn fawr iawnThose words kept echoing inside his head.

Thank you very much.

He barley heard Sirius sigh, it was muffled, all the sounds in the room were. It felt as if he had a sack over his head or was in a glass box.

Sirius looked down at Remus and said, "Right, we're getting you to the Hospital Wing." Remus opened his mouth to protest, to say that if he stood up he was sure that he would collapse, but before he could say anything Sirius had hauled him up and everything was spinning around him. Remus couldn't feel anything.

Sirius realised his stupidity as soon as he had lifted Remus up, because of their close proximity, he felt the exact moment that Remus collapsed. His grip on Sirius's arm went slack and his entire weight fell onto Sirius. Remus's body toppled to the floor and Sirius hadn't been quick enough to stop him. They both landed with a thud and Sirius felt panic course through him.

He pushed Remus up into a sitting position and brushed his hair away from his eyes. Remus's eyes were spasming behind his eyelids and his body was shivering even more.

"Remus please wake up." Sirius pulled Remus into his arms and tightened his grip on his body. "Remus please." His voice cracked under the weight of everything and a tear slipped out of his eye. Sirius buried his head into Remus's shoulder and continued to beg Remus to wake up. Eventually he did, Remus's body tensed suddenly and he jerked awake. The first thing he felt was Sirius's breath on his neck, then his hands that were holding onto him and finally the shaking of Sirius's body.

Remus realised he was crying. "Mae'n iawn." He croaked out.

It's okay.

Sirius pulled back and their eyes met briefly before Remus passed out again.

Sirius had been crying into Remus shoulder until Remus's soft voice had broken him out of it. Something in Welsh, but Sirius didn't care. Remus was awake. That's all that mattered. Sirius ripped himself from Remus's arms and their eyes met. Sirius could have sworn he saw a flicker of a smile tease at Remus's lips before his eyes rolled back and he collapsed again. Sirius placed his hand on Remus's cheek and turned his head. He prayed for James or Peter to show up soon so that someone could fetch Madam Pomfrey or help Sirius carry Remus to the Hospital Wing. Sirius was too scared to leave him alone, the fear that Remus would die the moment he left the room was so great that he couldn't bear to ignore it.

Remus kept slipping in and out of consciousness for the next half an hour. Sirius didn't move form in front of him, trying his hardest to wake him when he was unconscious and trying his hardest to keep him awake when he was. Then James showed up.

James had been chasing Regulus for an hour after lessons finished, he needed to find out what had been on that letter and why he refused to tell anyone. In the end he had physically cornered him and forced Regulus to show him the letter. James's heart sank and he quickly apologised to Regulus who had just scowled and walked off. James walked briskly back to the dorm to tell Sirius what had happened but as soon as he walked in, all thoughts of the letter left his head.

A sickly looking Remus Lupin was propped up against the bed with his eyes closed and a very desperate looking Sirius Black was sat on his lap with his hand supporting Remus's face. "James, thank Merlin!" Sirius exclaimed. "Get over here." James ran over and Sirius shifted from Remus's lap. "Hold his head up, like this." Sirius guided James's hand to the side of Remus's face.

"If he wakes up, tell him I went to fetch Pomfrey. Ok?" Sirius looked into James's eyes and James nodded.

"Sirius what happened? How long has he been out." 

"This time only a few minutes. He keeps going in and out. Just a very bad moon I think. He told Pomfrey he was alright to leave, absolute bullshit, staggered into the dorm and passed out not two minutes after." James nodded again and turned his attention to Remus. He felt Sirius linger for a second, gazing at Remus before he turned and ran out of the dorm.

After a couple of minutes, Remus's eyes fluttered open. "Sirius?" He asked, his voice barely a whisper.

"Nah mate, it's just me. Prongs. Padfoot told me what happened and Christ Moony, what were you thinking?" James chastised. Remus smiled slightly.

"Always mothering us Jamsie." And then his eyes closed again and the weight of his head fell back into James's hands. James frowned and willed Sirius to hurry.

Sirius was running through the corridors. He didn't care about the disapproving looks people kept throwing his way or that 6 different people had yelled at him for bumping into them. All that mattered to him then was Remus. His Moony. Remus needed something and Sirius could help him get it, as far as he was concerned, the entire world could burn so long as Remus got was he needed. That was until Sirius ran head first into Lucius Malfoy and his cronies.

Sirius stumbled back and tried to continue running before Malfoy grabbed his arm and flung him back. Sirius fell to the floor and growled, "Get out of my way Malfoy."

The group laughed and Malfoy stepped forward, "You are in my way, Black. And you have to be taught a lesson because of that." Sirius saw three of them draw their wands. and he pulled his own out. Sirius jumped to his feet just as the first curse was fired. 

He leaned left and it narrowly missed him. Malfoy and the shorter one flicked their wands at the same time, Sirius cast a shielding charm and tried to throw a few hexes back at them. What he didn't realise was that a fourth person was getting ready to curse him just behind Malfoy.

"Stupefy!" The taller one fell.

"Crucio!" Sirius stumbled backwards and the curse flew past him.

"Flipendo!" It hit Sirius square in the chest and he was flung into the wall behind him as the wind was knocked out of him. He slumped down and tried to breathe in, find his wand, just anything. The ringing in his ears meant he didn't notice that Lucius was walking towards him until he was right in front of him. Malfoy pulled his foot back and kicked Sirius in the stomach. He groaned loudly and flopped forward.

Malfoy bent down and grabbed him by the hair, a brown haired boy from the group stepped forward and threw a punch into Sirius's face. Malfoy threw his head back into the wall. Sirius's could feel blood flowing from a cut on his cheek and the warm liquid was in his hair as well.

"Consider yourself lucky, Black." Lucius raised his wand and suddenly Sirius was at 12 Grimmauld Place.

Walburga was standing over him, her cruel eyes boring into his, a disgusting smile across her face. She tipped her head sideways slightly and her lips moved, although it was a male voice that spoke the spell. "Stupefy!" A red blast from her wand hit Sirius and the whole world turned black.

Lily Evans was walking through the corridors of Hogwarts. She turned a corner and was met with a horrific sight. Sirius Black was slumped against a wall with his eyes closed and a cut on his cheek. She ran forward and pointed her wand at his chest. "Rennervate." She muttered. His eyes fluttered open and she noticed his wand only a few inches away from his hand. It dawned on her that he must have been knocked out in a duel of some sort, maybe an ambush. She barely had time to process anything before Sirius had grabbed his wand and had sprang to his feet, running forward. Lily yelled after him but ended up running to catch him up. He turned a corner and ran straight into the Hospital Wing, into a very startled looking Madam Pomfrey.

"Remusisn'twellandheneedsyourhelphe'sinthedormpleasehelphim." He spoke so quickly that Lily was worried he was having a stroke. Madam Pomfrey placed a hand on his shoulder and tried to lead him towards a bed. He shook her off and said, "Didn't you hear me? Remus?"

The Medi-Witch smiled at him and replied, "I heard you quite clearly Mister Black, but you are bleeding and I suspect you are running on adrenaline. I am scared you will collapse any second." Sirius shook his head and started to speak again, "I'm fine. It's Remus. He needs-" He stumbled backwards into Lily.

She shook her head and firmly took his arm, dragging him to the nearest bed. He collapsed half way there. Luckily, Madam Pomfrey had her wand out and levitated him onto the bed. She sighed and looked at Lily. "Keep an eye on that one, would you Miss Evans? I know you're not fond of him and that group but-"

"It's ok. I'll do it. I think he was ambushed anyway. Not like Sirius to lose a duel." Lily breathed out, anxious for Remus to be tended to. Madam Pomfrey furrowed her brows momentarily before nodded and saying, 

"Quite right you are Miss Evans. I'll fetch McGonnagall on my way back and have her look into it. I can't believe it didn't dawn on Black that he could levitate Mister Lupin here instead of running to fetch me. Sometimes I do worry for those children.' Madam Pomfrey walked out of the Hospital Wing and grabbed her medical box on the way out.

Lily perched on the edge of Sirius's bed. It's true, she wasn't fond of Sirius and James but that didn't mean she didn't worry for them. After a few minutes, Sirius's eyes shot open and he tried to sit up. Lily pushed him back down very firmly and told him, "Christ Sirius, why won't you just listen. Stay down!"

Lily only just noticed how frantically Sirius's eyes were darting around the room and how ragged his breaths had become. "Oh Sirius." She mumbled. "Sirius. Sirius, hey. Hey!" She managed to get his attention. "It's ok. Pomfrey has gone to see Remus. He'll be ok." Sirius still seemed panicked but once his eyes managed to really focus onto Lily, he felt instantly calmer.

Sirius didn't remember much from after the Stunning curse was shot. Just flashes, a pair of familiar and striking green eyes, Madam Pomfrey's face and the beds in the Hospital Wing. Only when Lily's full face came into view did he realise that he was safe. He was at Hogwarts, in the Hospital Wing and Lily Evans was with him. Walburga was nowhere nearby and he was alright. So much had happened that day and Sirius felt so helpless within it all.

Lily must have noticed the look on his face because she asked, "Is there anything I can do to help Sirius? I know we haven't been on the best of terms but you seem..." She trailed off.

"Can you hold my hand?" His voice came out small and child like. Lily's eyes widened in surprise before she nodded and slipped her dainty hand into Sirius's calloused palm. She wondered what had happened for the skin to become so rough but she didn't ask. The physical contact seemed to melt all the tension from Sirius's body and after a minute his voice sounded throughout the Hospital Wing, "Thanks Evans."

"Anytime Black." They sat there in a comfortable silence, Lily holding Sirius's hand until Madam Pomfrey arrived levitating an unconscious Remus Lupin onto the bed next to Sirius's being tailed by a very stressed James Potter and an extremely anxious Peter Pettigrew.  James shot a confused glance their way but Lily didn't let go of Sirius's hand. For some reason she felt as if she couldn't, that if she did let go she would be breaking a promise. It didn't make any sense, she had made no promise to Sirius but she felt as if she owed him this much.

And for a second, she saw that godforsaken group for what they really were; just four boys who cared about each other more than anything else in the world and may as well have been brothers. She smiled for a second. Maybe they weren't really that bad after all.

Chapter Text

Lily stayed in the Hospital wing all night. She sat by Sirius's side, holding his hand and making sure he was alright. He had woken up with a start at least three times now, every time he would shoot up and had this raw fear in his eyes. It truly haunted Lily; she had never seen Sirius so fearful and it was so unsettling.

He kept asking about Remus and then his mum. She would reassure him and tell him, "You ran up to the Hospital Wing to fetch Madam Pomfrey for Remus, you got attacked on the way. I found you and came here with you. Madam Pomfrey brought Remus down here, he's safe. Your mum isn't here, you're safe. You helped Remus." 

"I did?" He replied the fourth time in such a small voice that Lily was sure her heart had broken into pieces.

"Yeah, you did." Lily knew that she should be sitting next to Remus, they were good friends after all and the moon was in a day, but she had this overwhelming urge to protect Sirius and she had no idea where it had come from. Until a few hours ago, Lily would never have even considered going near Sirius, let alone sitting in the Hospital wing for him. But right now, she didn't want to leave from his side ever again.

It wasn't until the morning that Madam Pomfrey said they all had to leave, the moon was tonight and Remus was in such a bad state; he had woken up once in the night and his fever was so bad that he was hallucinating; he had thought Lily was his own mother and started talking in Welsh to her. Lily had been absolutely lost but just ended up sitting next to him until Madam Pomfrey managed to get a sleeping potion down his throat. Once he was asleep, she had moved back next to Sirius and stayed there until it was morning.

"Madam Pomfrey?" It was 3am and the Medi-Witch had begged Lily to return to her dorm and sleep but she had refused over and over again.

"Yes dear."

"Why was Remus talking in Welsh to me? Can't his mother speak English?" The older women had just chuckled.

"Of course, she can, I suppose that he does it in a way of comfort. If you were extremely scared or sick, Miss Evans, you would want every bit of comfort you could bring for yourself. I'm guessing that Welsh reminds him of home and that's why he speaks it when he is in distress. Mister Lupin does that a lot when he visits."

"That makes sense." They had returned to silence after that. Lily had occasionally let her gaze wander to James and Peter's sleeping forms. She knew her eyes lingered longer than they were supposed to on James. It was a strange sensation she got from watching him sleep. Like looking up at a sky filling with stars from the Astronomy Tower.

Looking at him was peaceful. And she enjoyed it.

Before Sirius, James and Peter had walked out, Sirius had turned to face Lily and gave her one of those iconic grins of his.

"Thanks Evans." He ran his hand through his hair somewhat nervously.

Lily had smiled and replied, "Anytime Black."

James watched his brother talk to the girl he had been pining after for years, a few weeks ago, James would have been beyond jealous. He would have made a huge deal out of it before settling down and going back to making a prat of himself in front of Lily. But surprisingly, he didn't feel anything. He watched as they talked and smiled at each other and he genuinely didn't mind. Instead he could only think about Regulus.

The way he had got the letter of Regulus wasn't the most well thought out move of his life. He had ran that moment over and over again in his head a million times since yesterday and the one thing that made his stomach twist every time was the fear in Regulus's eyes. James had cornered him and only then did his well-calculated facade slip, the whole time he had been keeping this calm demeanour but when James had held him in the corner it had all slipped away. Very briefly, only for a second before he composed himself again, but still, James had seen the terror in his eyes and it haunted him. He didn't think Regulus could be scared of him and he felt extremely guilty for it.

The day crawled on and after his last lesson, Sirius had sprinted right back to the Hospital Wing where Remus was still sleeping.

He looked sick. There was no denying it; his pillows had been propped up so that he was somewhere between sitting and lying down but his head had rolled to one side, his skin was still so pale but now there were purple bags under his eyes that looked like awful bruises. Sirius had taken one of his hands that was laying by his side and kissed it. Remus's hand, even though it was warm and clammy, was still Remus's. Sirius had held his hand and felt for his pulse on his wrist; his heart rate was so fast.

The boy sighed and willed Remus to wake up, even if it was for a minute, just so that he could talk to him. Tell him how sorry he was that all these awful things had to happen to him, that he didn't deserve all the scars he wore, but Remus stayed asleep.

Soon enough, it was nightfall and Madam Pomfrey had shooed Sirius away to levitate Remus to the Shrieking Shack. Sirius had trailed them through the castle very quietly and sat on the outside of the Forbidden Forest when they had gone through the Whomping Willow. Sirius swore he could hear Remus scream when the moon came out. He didn't even want to think about the amount of pain that his Moony was in so he took a cigarette from the packet he always carried with him and lit it using his wand. Sirius always went to the Astronomy Tower to smoke, so he made his way up to there.

Lily was in her dorm when the moon came up, she was staring at a letter from her sister Petunia. The red-haired girl was debating whether or not to open it. It was like some form of torture, so in the end she had taken the letter and a lighter, in case it was bad, up to the Astronomy Tower. Mainly so that she wouldn't disturb her dorm-mates but also so that she could have some privacy. Lily loved looking at the stars when she was upset, there was nothing else as peaceful to look at, well, maybe except for James Potter sleeping; his dishevelled hair even more messy than it usually was, his skin a gorgeous bronze tone in the moonlight and the way his lips had been parted ever so slightly; but she pushed that thought away.

Lily ripped open the envelope and took a deep breath in, she unfolded the letter and started to read it. She only got half way before she was crying too much to continue. Lily took the lighter and held it to the bottom of the letter, watching as it started to burn. The letter wasn't fully burnt yet, but she sensed another person's presence. She turned to see Sirius Black standing there with a half-smoked cigarette between his lips and the lighter had slipped from her fingers.

Sirius sauntered up the steps of the Astronomy tower with a cigarette hanging from his lips. He was half way to the top when he heard it; it sounded like a girl crying. He quickened his pace and was shocked when he found the Lily Evans on her knees, crying, in the middle of the Astronomy Tower, holding up half of a burnt letter to a lighter.

She looked up, startled to see anyone up here and dropped the still-lit-lighter and the half-burnt letter. The lighter slipped through her fingers, burning her hand, and fell to the floor. She hissed in pain and the letter flew out from between her fingers, Sirius managed to step on it before it got carried away in the wind.

Lily didn’t move from where she was kneeling, she simply buried her face into her now burnt hands and cried. Sirius wanted to say something but his curiosity for what could have evoked this reaction from Lily got the better of him.

The letter didn’t make much sense but one sentence stuck out to Sirius more than all the rest of it;

You freak, I don’t want you…

It continued on part of the letter that had been burnt away, but there wasn’t a doubt in Sirius’s mind that this letter had come from Lily’s sister to upset her. And it had done a very good job at it. Sirius slowly made his way to sit next to Lily.

He sat down next to her and gently placed his arm on her shoulder. She turned herself away slightly, hoping he would leave her alone but Sirius would not allow it. He pulled Lily’s crying form into his chest and held her there, soon enough she had pried her hands away from her face and had wrapped her arms around his torso.

She was sat on Sirius’s lap, her arms wrapped around him and crying into his chest. If you had told Lily an hour ago that she would be crying in Sirius Black’s arms, she would not have believed you.

Sirius just held her tightly and rubbed circles on her back gently. Eventually, her crying eased and then she was just hugging him. It was then that he spoke, “She’s wrong.”

Lily pulled away from his chest, keeping her arms wrapped firmly around him, “What?” She sniffled a little bit before burying her head back into Sirius’s chest.

“You’re not a freak. You’re Lily bloody Evans. You’re top of your class in everything, smartest witch in our year, an absolute badass and the only girl in history to reject James Potter. If I’m being honest, Lils, you’re a legend.” He chuckled.

Lily smiled into his chest but then shook her head. “I shouldn’t have rejected him.”

Sirius choked down a laugh. It was ironic, first James pined after Lily for years and she had hated him, but now he wasn’t interested and she started to like him? The world worked in mysterious ways.

“He’ll start back up again. He just needs some time to mend his heart, but he will come around. I just know it Red, nothing can keep him from you for too long.”

“Red?” She questioned.

He smiled and answered, “I don’t know. Just liked it for you.”

Lily hugged him tighter and mumbled, "Thanks Black."

Sirius smiled a little and whispered back, "Anytime Evans."

Chapter Text

Two girls sat under a huge oak tree before breakfast. Emmeline was staring at Evie whilst trying to explain the plot line of a book she was reading. The cold winter breeze blew between Evie’s fingers as she reached out. She wasn’t sure what she was reaching for, but it felt nice having the wind run through her hair. The winter sun burned brightly in the sky, the two friends soaked up the warmth.

Emmeline looked across to Evie, Em watched as Evie tipped her head back ever so slightly and let the wind run through her entire being. It was a gorgeous sight; this girl who Em could barely believe was human at this point breathing in the entire world, completely and utterly relaxed. It made Em feel so safe and there was no explanation.

Though a confession had been eating away at Em’s insides for a while now. Em took a deep breath and blurted out, “Evie if I was different would you still love me the same?”

Evie opened her eyes and looked to Emmeline who was clutching her notebook so hard that her knuckles where white. “It depends, are you still you?”

“Yes, but just different.”

“Ok, well are you still Emmeline Vance?”

Em paused. “I’m not too sure.”

Evie looked back over to her, “Well, are you still my friend?”

“Yes, of course.”

“Then of course I’d love you the same. As long as I live, Em, I will love you.”

“But I’m not who you think I am.”

“Then who are you?”

“I’m not a girl.” The words flew out of Em’s mouth before they could be stopped.

Evie furrowed her brows. “Then are you a boy?”

Em sighed, “No, not quite.”

“Then what do I call you?”

“They?”

“Hmm.” Evie looked out the window and spoke. “Emmeline Vance.” She sighed and tried again, “Em Vance; they are amazing.” Evie said the words as if she was testing something out, like she was singing a song for the first time, but somehow it felt like a melody flowing out from her lips. She tipped her head back again, eyes closed and smiled.

Em stared with awe at her, nothing else mattered in the world to them right now, just Evie and the sun. They had never felt so wanted in their life.

Evie opened her eyes and looked into Em's, "We should probably get to breakfast?" Em nodded and the skipped to the Great Hall laughing about Benjy and his mystery date.

It had been three days since that particularly awful moon and Remus had finally been allowed out of the Hospital Wing. The worst of his cuts had mostly healed and the smaller ones had been reduced to new scars. Remus had been told by James that Sirius had barely left his side; that every waking moment that he wasn't required to be in a lesson, Sirius was sat by his hospital bed.

It was bizarre; how much Sirius cared for Remus but would never openly admit it, of course Sirius showed his affections through actions and not words, the complete opposite to Remus, and Remus knew it. The gesture as good as an I love you from Sirius. Though Remus knew it wasn't possible for someone as angelic as Sirius to look twice at a monster like himself. Anyway, friends stayed by each other's hospital beds like that, Remus was just reassuring himself. He had his first prefect duties tomorrow night with Lily because he had missed the first two off sick.

The four boys were laughing and joking, somehow, they had found out that Remus was a prefect and they were not able to let it go. The prefect sat there and rolled his eyes whilst hungrily eating the eggs and sausages on his plate. He really loved breakfast at Hogwarts.

Soon enough, all the owls flew into the Great Hall, the boys barely even took notice of them, that is until the all too familiar Black family owl dropped a red envelope in front of Sirius. His eyes widened in shock for a second before he snatched up the envelope and ran out of the Great Hall. James’s eyes followed Sirius out of the doors and he growled, “Those bloody bastards.”

Remus had spoken next, “A bleeding Howler? Who is Merlin’s name do they think they are? Doing this to him?” Peter was the only one who had stayed quiet.

Remus sprang up from the bench, “Right, I’m going after him. Only a few places he could be.” And with that he walked out of the Great Hall and up the stairs towards the Gryffindor Common Room. After a minute, James got up and headed towards the Astronomy Tower whilst Peter started to look around the Black Lake.

Though, in the end, it was Remus who found him. Remus had looked in the Common Room and then ran up to their dorm. The door was bolted shut and he could actually hear Sirius’s gasps for air on the other side of the door. And it had hurt.

After hearing him, Remus begged Sirius to open the door but just heard a loud thud on the other side, silence for about thirty seconds and then more erratic breathing. So, Remus had used his wand to unlock the door and found Sirius sprawled out half way from his bed to the door with his chest heaving far too quickly.

Remus rushed to his side and pushed him into a sitting position. Sirius’s whole body was trembling and Remus could practically feel his heart racing from where he was sitting.

Sirius couldn’t feel anything. He remembered his mother’s voice yelling at him and then he had gotten up to do something, dropped and now someone was in the room with him. He has been coaxed into a sitting position and the person was trying to help him breathe deeply. And he took a shaky breath in.

Remus watched as Sirius tried to listen to his instructions but ultimately failed. Now, Sirius was just tugging at his shirt collar in hopes to loosen it. Remus leaned Sirius’s back against a bedpost and tried to take deep breaths for Sirius to copy. Remus tried to speak calmly but seeing Sirius in such a way was awful, so in the end Remus was just begging, “Sirius please snap out of this. Please, please, just breathe.”

Sirius had keeled over and was clawing at Remus’s sweater. Then an impulse came over Remus; he pushed Sirius back up against the bedpost and placed a kiss on his forehead whilst gently pressing the palms of his hands onto Sirius’s shoulders and chest, helping him to breathe.

Sirius seemed shocked at first but it seemed to be working; his breathing had become more even and controlled and all the while Remus had been speaking softly with his forehead resting on Sirius’s.

Once Remus was absolutely sure Sirius had calmed down, he gently moved his hands from where they were and helped Sirius stand up and walk over to his own bed.

Sirius may as well have flopped down onto it, the way he so ungraciously sat down and within a few minutes of Remus talking about some nonsense, Sirius was visibly calmer.

“Thank you.” He murmured.

Remus just smiled and replied, “You would have done the same for me.”

The two boys sat there, staring into each other’s eyes and getting lost in each other’s beings. Remus wished they could have stayed there forever.

Evie was running up the stairs to get to the seventh floor. She'd been having a very chaotic morning and needed to get some quiet for a bit. Remus was supposed to meet for study group later with the three Ravenclaws but Benjy had a date with someone, god forbid he told them who, which meant studying Care of Magical Creatures would be much harder. Benjy was a whizz at it and the other three needed help from time to time, Evie had decided to just ask Remus if they could do a History of Magic study group instead.

By the time she reached the seventh floor, Evie was breathless and too warm, she dragged her feet to the end of the corridor and stopped where she knew the Room was. She thought of her bedroom at home and a door formed in the once solid wall in front of her, smiling, she opened it and flopped down onto her bed. Soon enough, she had zoned out and was soaking in the quiet. At that moment, a flustered Regulus Black stormed through the door. 

Evie bolted upright and they stared at each other for a second. To say Regulus looked shocked would have been an understatement, judging by the look on his face anyone would have thought he had walked in on Evie doing something extremely indecent or murdering someone. On the other hand, Evie looked amused; she found it rather funny that they kept bumping into each other in such strange ways. Regulus broke the silence,

"What in the name of Salazar Slytherin are you doing here?"

Evie chuckled, "So kind aren't you, Regulus? But I could ask you the same question."

"I asked first."

Petulant child. She thought, before speaking again, "I came here to get away from your kind."

"My kind?"

"People."

Regulus couldn't stop the smile that slipped across his lips. Evie raised her eyebrows slightly in surprise. I didn't know he could smile.

"Well, I didn't know that anyone else knew about this place other than me." 

"Neither did I."

"So what do we do?'

"What is there to do? I was here first, so either ask the Room for another corner or find a different one please."

"You know how to change the Room whilst you're inside of it?" Regulus questioned whilst eyeing her in awe.

"Yes, of course! Just close your eyes and picture the change. It's always worked for me. Try it."

Regulus closed his eyes and pictured a door on the wall opposite him, leading to his dorm and sure enough, when he opened his eyes, it was there.

"Bloody brilliant." He breathed out.

"It really is." Evie smiled at him again. He shuffled awkwardly on the spot before walking off quickly through the door he had just conjured.

Evie lay on her bed for ten more minutes before getting up and walking out of the Room. She was halfway through the corridor when someone grabbed her by the hair and pulled her into a broom closet. They pressed a hand over her mouth so she couldn't scream. She felt a blinding panic rise up inside of her and tried to get her hand into her pocket to grab her wand.

"What were you and young Regulus Black doing in a room together for so long?" She recognised the voice immediately and swallowed the bile that burned the back of her throat. Antony Nott.

"Come on you little slut, tell me." He lifted his hand slightly and she felt him lean forward, his breath was hot on the back of her neck, it made her feel sick.

"I don't know what you're talking about." Evie's voice came out quiet and shaky. She hated how weak she sounded.

Nott laughed and brought his lips even closer to her ear before whispering, "I guess I'll have to force it out of you myself then." He distanced his body from her's a little, but it was enough, Evie turned around and punched him in the face. She plunged her hand into her pocket to grab her wand as she ran towards the door. She almost had reached the handle before Nott grabbed her arm and threw her against the opposite wall. Her head collided with the wall and the rest of her body followed. She pushed herself back up, dazed, the room was spinning and blood was trickling down her face from the side of her head. She tried to push past Nott, but he was far too strong.

He pushed her against the wall and moved his hands down to her skirt, Evie grabbed his hands and tried to push them away. He grabbed both of her arms with one hand and held them above her head, whilst trailing his other hand up her shirt this time. She felt his cold fingertips brush over her stomach and in one final attempt to push him off, she brought her knee up and tried to knee him in the crotch.

She succeeded, but it was nowhere near strong enough to stop him, it only aggravated him more. He brought his hand up and placed it on her shoulder, he scoffed, let go of her arms and punched her in the stomach. Evie felt the wind get knocked out of her as she fell forwards onto Nott and gasped. He slammed her back into the wall and pressed his hands to her throat. She was already winded, so her muscles started convulsing very quickly, he only tightened his grip. After a few more seconds, black spots crowded her vision and there was a loud ringing in her ears. She could barely make out Nott smirk as he let go and threw her into the desk behind him.

Evie sucked in the air that was now flooding into her lungs, she had been so sure that Nott was going to kill her that she was almost surprised when he had let go. She was in an awful position and she knew it, she barely had any strength left to try and stop him but she knew she couldn't just let him have his way with her. She felt him bend over her and heard him whisper, "Pull a stunt like that again and next time I won't be so kind." She felt him run his hands up her thighs, under her skirt and she started squirming. Moving in all the ways she could, trying to get Nott to just stop it, though it was hopeless and she knew it. Her only way out is if someone heard them and came in to help her. After a minute of this, he slammed his fist into her back and yelled, "JUST STAY STILL YOU WORTHLESS SLUT."

Evie's body started convulsing again from a mixture of the pain and panic, she could only hope that someone had heard him. 

"Little bitch." He murmured. "I hate it when they're passed out, but it looks like I have no choice." Nott pulled out his wand and pointed it at Evie's shaking form.

"Stupefy!" He shouted. The blast from his wand knocked Evie out whilst sending her and the table crashing into the wall. She slid off the table and crumpled in a heap on the floor. Nott smirked again and walked towards her. He pulled her head up using her hair and then traced his wand across her throat. He could see bruises from where he had choked her and it evoked a pleasure inside of him. He lifted her up on his shoulder and threw her limp form down on the table. He was really going to enjoy this. But as soon as he started to slide his hands up her skirt, Regulus Black burst in through the door.

Regulus had been trying to get the door of that broom closet open since he had heard Nott yelling but it had been charmed shut. He had finally just blasted it open and was horrified by the sight that had met him; Evie McGrath was passed out on the table in front of Nott, her face cut and her neck bruised. Nott had his hand halfway up her skirt and was standing over her body, his smirk twisted Regulus's stomach and made him feel nauseous. He coolly raised his wand up and stared Nott in the eyes.

"Leave." Regulus knew he was the Slytherin Prince and anyone who messed with him was beyond stupid, he was also extremely skilled in the Dark Arts and knew he could take Nott without much of a problem.

"No way. She's mine. Wouldn't stop squirming this one. Finally got her to stop moving. Anyway, you had your go with her." Regulus felt anger course through his veins.

'I said leave, Nott." The other boy's eyes widened in shock.

"Bloody Black, thinks he can get whatever he wants." Nott mumbled as he pocketed his wand and stomped out of the broom closet. When Regulus could no longer hear his footsteps, he rushed forward to Evie's side and brushed the hair away from her face so he could assess the damage.

The side of her head was bleeding badly, he frowned not really knowing what to do and moved his eyes over to her neck. There were angry red hand marks covering her throat and parts of them were already turning purple. Evie's eyes were closed and Regulus felt such a pain for this girl. He sighed and pulled her into a sitting position on the table. He was using one hand to support her neck and the other was on her back, her arms lay limp at her sides. Once she was upright, Regulus removed his hand from her back and held her entire weight using the hand that was supporting her neck, he reached for his wand and pointed it at her chest. He was about to wake her when it occurred to him how panicked she would be when she came round.

He put his wand back in his pocket and brought his body closer to Evie's. Regulus used his shoulder to support her body whilst he slipped one arm under her knees and his other behind her shoulders. He lifted her up gently and carried her bridal style from the broom closet to the Room of Requirement just down the corridor. When he entered the Room, there was a large bed with lots of cushions on it. He laid her down on it so she was half upright but her neck was supported. On a table beside the bed there were some bottles filled with what he assumed were healing supplies. There was also some cloth next to the bottles, Regulus was truly amazed by the abilities of a single room. He hadn't even thought about needing cloth.

He pulled his wand out and pointed it to her chest, "Rennevate." he said.

Evie eyes shot open and she moved to sit up, Regulus quickly placed a hand on her chest and looked her in the eye.

"Don't try to move. I don't know how badly he hurt you." He tried to speak as comfortingly as possible, but the truth was Regulus had no experience in comforting others whatsoever.

"Did he-" She started very quietly.

"No. He didn't." Regulus interjected quickly. "He was standing over you, and his hand was up your skirt, but you were both fully clothed."

Evie nodded slightly and mumbled, "Thank you."

Regulus frowned. It hadn't even crossed his mind for her to thank him. He was just doing what any decent person would do. "No need." He replied. "You've been kind to me and it's the very least I could do."

"You could have left me. Probably less backlash for you?"

Regulus shook his head, "Leaving you was never an option and don't worry about me, I can handle them. What did he do?" Regulus was never one for subtleties and he needed to know whether to take Evie to the Hospital Wing or not.

"He..." Evie cleared her throat. "He shoved me against the wall and there was a cut on the side of my face. Does this Room have any Dittany? It wasn't magical so it can be easily fixed."

Regulus reached for one of the bottles on the table and saw it labelled Essence of Dittany. He dabbed some onto his fingers and gently rubbed it onto the cut. He watched as it healed and disappeared from her skin.

"He... My throat. I don't know what gets rid of bruises."

"It's a specific spell but I can't remember. I can use a concealment charm?" Regulus offered. Evie nodded and he gently ran the tip of his wand across her throat, the angry marks vanished and he moved his wand away.

"I think I broke a rib." She whispered quietly. "It hurts to breathe."

Regulus's eyes widened in shock momentarily before he positioned his wand over her chest and muttered, "Episkey."

A loud crack sounded as Evie's eyes rolled into her head and she collapsed again. Regulus felt panic seize him and without really thinking he pulled up her shirt. There was a large bruise on her stomach and one that looked like it was mainly on her back but was showing on her sides as well. Her skin, which should have been an olive colour, was mostly a dark and imperial purple. He ran his fingers over her ribs and when he was sure no more were broken, he turned her onto her side to see the bruise on her back properly. It was truly horrifying.

Regulus felt himself start to feel dizzy as all the possible scenarios ran through his head, he pulled her shirt down and pointed his wand at her chest once more. "Rennevate."

Evie's eyes fluttered open, this time her eyes had more confusion in them than fear. Regulus carefully squeezed her hand and spoke softly, "There are some pretty bad bruises there, when I fixed your rib the pain made you pass out again. But you're ok."

Evie turned her head and their eyes met for a second. She smiled. "Thank you Reg."

He laughed lightly at the nickname.

"By Rowena Ravenclaw, what time is it?"

"We have missed out first lesson."

"Oh dear. I always struggle with Care of Magical Creatures. Can you help me up?"

Regulus shook his head, "Absolutely not. You have to stay and rest. The best things I can do for you is get you to Madam Pomfrey, but no way am I going to let you walk around alone like this when Nott is still in this school."

"Then don't leave me alone."

"What?"

"I have friends in my house, walk me to one of them and I'll stay with them for the rest of the day."

"Is Fenwick strong?"

"Yes, why?"

"Could he take Nott or carry you if you collapse again?"

"He can carry me and Em at the same time, so that's no problem. If it was just Nott alone, then yes, but Nott and his cronies... I don't think anyone could take all of them at once."

"I'll take you to him then." And keep a very close eye on you myself. He added in his head.

"Thank you so much."

"Stop thanking me for doing the right thing."

"Help me up then." Regulus grabbed her arm and pulled her up. She winced but took a deep breath.

"You ready?" He asked her. Evie nodded and Regulus placed both his arms on hers and all but lifted her up. She groaned and stumbled forward into his chest.

"Sorry." She breathed out.

"That's ok. Do you still think this is a good idea?" He felt Evie nod against his chest. "Alright then, let's go."

And with that they started to make their way out of the Room of Requirement to find Benjy Fenwick.

Chapter Text

Mary MacDonald's body shook with laughter as she watched Lily Evans launch a pillow at Marlene McKinnon's face. Mary had to remind herself to breathe as the pillow smacked Marlene in the face. But when she saw Marlene's gobsmacked face peer out from behind the pillow, Mary could not control her laughter anymore. She had to lean on Dorcas Meadows who was also in hysterics over the scene unfolding in front of them.

"I do not like him Marlene!" Lily crossed her arms over her chest after successfully hitting Marlene with the pillow.

"Oh, Lily, honey, you are totally smitten for him!" Marlene was giggling at her best friend.

"Marlene!" Lily stumbled forward as she stood up and landed on top of Marlene's bed. She reached out and grabbed another pillow from Marlene's bed, she then proceeded to violently whack Marlene who was rolling around on her bed, unable to stop laughing.

"Lily likes James!" She taunted between laughing and trying to catch her breath.

"I DO NOT!" Lily shouted as she continued to whack Marlene.

"No you're right, of course you don't like him! You love him." Lily stopped mid slap and her eyes widened a little as a smile spread across her face.

"Take that back! You devil McKinnon." She dove on top of Marlene and started tickling her.

Dorcas and Mary were crying from laughing so much as they watched their best friends act like children.

"James Potter is an arrogant toe rag and I do not have any romantic feelings towards him."

"Aha! See, the first stage of love: denial."

Mary watched as Dorcas pushed herself back up and took a breath, once she had stopped laughing enough to form a sentence, she cleared her throat and said, "Welcome to being in love with a nit-wit Lils, it's frustrating and you want to kill them half of the time... You're gonna love it."

All four girls were quiet for a second before they all burst into laughter again. And Alice Fortescue, soon to be Alice Longbottom, chose that exact moment to walk in. She smiled widely and sat herself down on the bed closest to her, Alice stared at the four younger girls who were attempting to suppress their laughter enough so that they could breathe and she felt her smile grow even more across her cheeks. She truly loved the Marauderettes, as Sirius insisted they were called, and she loved seeing them so light-hearted and how kids their age should be. These four souls gave Alice real hope that this world had a chance.

Dorcas was the first to stop laughing like a maniac and she immediately greeted Alice with a hug.

"Oi, MacDonald!" She yelled, even though Mary was about five paces away, "Alice has blessed us with her presence!"

Mary, who was still shaking with laughter, hauled herself up and embraced Alice. She managed a sentence, though it was broken up by laughter, "How's things with Frank?"

Marlene and Lily had also tried to get up but had both fallen over and ended up a mass of entangled limbs on the floor, laughing even harder. Alice shook her head whilst saying, "Brilliant! He's the absolute sweetest and everything's going great!"

Dorcas walked over to them, pulled Marlene up with her arms and sat her down on the bed behind them. Mary had managed to get Lily to her feet and made her sit next to Alice. Mary smirked whilst settling herself down on the bed opposite Lily and Alice, "Fortescue here is about to rub mine and Lily's faces in her perfect love life. I can't wait."

Lily frowned, "Didn't Benjy Fenwick have his eye on you?"

Marlene snorted, "Oh please, I heard he's shagging a Hufflepuff boy!" Dorcas smacked her arm.

Lily frowned, "He's gay?"

Dorcas scoffed softly and shook her head, "He's bi as anything." Marlene nodded her head in agreement.

Mary looked shocked, "You can tell?"

"You can't?"

"No of course I can't! I don't have a gay-dar."

The whole room erupted into fits of giggles again. As everyone slowly regained their composure, Marlene found herself wrapped in Dorcas's arms and rested her head on her chest. She loved this feeling more than anything else in the world, Marlene could feel and hear Dorcas breathing, it had a strange but almost hypnotic comfort to it, like nothing in the entire world could hurt her as long as Dorcas kept inhaling and exhaling. She could feel Dorcas's hair tickling her cheek slightly, she breathed in deeply as the smell of newly washed sheets and lavender encased the air around her and filled her with the greatest sense of pleasure. Marlene didn't understand how Dorcas was actually human and she couldn't comprehend why such a person would even consider being with a mess like Marlene, she was just beyond grateful that Dorcas was with her. Dorcas felt like how you imagine the clouds to be; soothing and magical. Marlene thought that even being near her was a privilege that should not be overlooked. As Marlene lay in her lover's lap she thought about how different they were, but also how similar. If people were rain and Marlene was a thunder storm, Dorcas was the most soothing drizzle, the type that forms rainbows. Dorcas was the violets in a beautiful meadows and Marlene was the purple in the neon lights of a dance club. Dorcas was a put together version of Marlene; all smooth edges and calculated words; she was a version of Marlene that was far more beautiful, much less reckless and so much easier to love. Loving Dorcas was the best thing that had ever happened to Marlene.

She adored the way Dorcas talked and moved and looked; she could stare at her for days on end and she wouldn't complain once. Her skin tone was like the most gorgeous, washed out, bronze colour, her eyes were hazel, like all the colours of the woodlands had been thrown into a paint mixer and put into Dorcas's eyes, but Dorcas's face was her favourite thing in the world to look at; everything was the right size and in the perfect place. Dorcas looked like an angel to Marlene and she knew she would give all of the air in her lungs to Dorcas if it came down to it, for some reason it didn't scare her. Marlene thought back to all the stupid mistakes she had made; all the one-night stands, all the wrong boys and girls, all the heartbreaks they had caused, but she just felt grateful for each and every one of them. Dorcas had once told her about the butterfly effect; everything affects everything; and Marlene could not say for certainty that without all those mistakes she would have ended up with Dorcas. She wouldn't change any of them for the world. And just this one time, Marlene was thankful that she was such a reckless mess. For now, she just smiled and snuggled further into Dorcas's body.

Dorcas felt Marlene move further into her body and she couldn't help the smile that teased her lips. Dorcas still couldn't wrap her head around the fact that Marlene was hers. Dorcas rested her lips on Marlene's head and breathed her in, she placed a kiss on the top of her head; a privilege she now had as her girlfriend; and she let herself get lost in Marlene's rosemary scented shampoo and the ocean. Dorcas never knew how Marlene managed to smell so wonderful all the time, but she loved it. Dorcas thought back to all the times she and Marlene had argued about something stupid she had been doing, and how that one time they had impulsively kissed. She thought about how that kiss had turned into a secret relationship and then an open one. She loved how Marlene felt around her; like Dorcas was her's and would be forever, now with her other girlfriends and boyfriends, Dorcas had never allowed them to be so protective and jealous about her, but she loved it on Marlene. Marlene was all ragged edges and drunken nights you never want to end, Dorcas knew she was much calmer than Marlene; rather like the sunrise at the beach whilst the waves lapped at your feet; but she couldn't help but love this mess of a girl. Marlene reminded her of the colour lightning made in the sky, she loved it; the beautiful chaos she enthralled to everyone around her. She was a truly gorgeous person and she did so many stupid things that Dorcas would never be able to understand.

All the Marauderettes knew that Dorcas Meadows was a clever girl. There was no doubt about it. She was top in her Divination and Care of Magical Creatures class. She knew all the rules about the way to brew potions in her classes. And the most amazing thing is that she understood how they worked and why they did too. But the only thing that Dorcas couldn't ever understand was why Marlene McKinnon loved her so fiercely. She couldn't wrap her head around the fact that someone as incredible and loud as Marlene could ever love someone like herself. She was far too quiet at the worst of times, Marlene was so easy to be around and Dorcas knew she could have whoever she wanted. She just didn't understand why she wanted her.

Lily stared at her two friends from across the dorm. She stared at them and found that she couldn't tear her eyes away.

That's what love looks like.

The thought replayed over and over in her head causing her to smile sadly. Every inch of her being wanted to be happy for them, but she just couldn't push away the sadness anymore. Lily knew she wanted a love like the one they had, but she always seemed to be going after the wrong boys. She just wished things would sort themselves out so she could finally let herself be happy without worrying for the consequences. She tried to bring her attention back to the conversation that Mary and Alice were having about boys; Alice, of course, was talking about Frank whilst Mary was talking about a Ravenclaw boy she had her eye on; but Lily couldn't draw her attention away from the two girls on the opposite bed.

Alice was deep in conversation with Mary about Frank and how he engaged, when she realised that Marlene, Dorcas and Lily had barely said a word. She and Mary talked enough for all of them, in complete honesty, but it was never quite a conversation if Marlene wasn't making sarcastic comments, or Lily wasn't complaining about James Potter's latest ruse to ask her out. Alice had missed these girls so much over the summer, it made her so sad to think about leaving them at the end of this year to get married and join the Order. She knew it had to be done but she only wished they could all have had longer to be kids. Alice wanted more time. Not just to survive and get through the day, but to really live and to do stupid things. She wanted, more than anything to be an idiot for a few more years without having to look over her shoulder or worry about her friends dying right in front of her. Though, Alice was relieved the Marauderettes had a few more years, and she was relieved she had Frank. She loved them all to bits and hoped they would all make it out of this war alive.

Mary listened as Alice spoke about planning the wedding and how she wanted them all to come, Mary was overjoyed that two lovely souls had found their way to each other despite the war, but again she did feel slightly bad for herself about it. Mary hated feeling jealous but she couldn't help it, she deeply wanted a love like the one that Frank and Alice shared or the one that Dorcas and Marlene shared. She just didn't know how to go about finding it. She had asked Marlene about it once, the question had sounded ridiculous coming out of her mouth,

"Marlene, do you ever think I will find real love?"

"Yes, of course I do, my lioness. Who wouldn't want you now, hmm?" Marlene had replied so easily.

"But how do I find it?"

"Mary. You can't control these things. They just happen, you need to out some faith in the world and let things be. I promise you will find someone, you seem like the kind of person to have an amazing love story, like Jacob and Rosaline on that big boat."

Mary giggled at Marlene's attempt to reference The Titanic but she truly hoped her story wouldn't end the same way that Jack and Rose's had. 

"What? Did I say something wrong?"

"No Marlene. You said it perfectly."

Mary thought about Marlene's words as Alice continued to talk about N.E.W.T.S. and how the were driving her mad. She sighed a little and decided she would try and put a bit more faith in the world. But for now, she kept talking and pushed all her worries to one side.

Chapter Text

James had been sitting in the Astronomy Tower for what felt like hours, in reality James knew it couldn't have been longer than about twenty minutes. He was hoping that Remus had found him; that boy had a way with Sirius that James could never really understand, they riled each other up but where clearly pining after each other, this either led to clear understandings of each other or huge arguments. The spectacled boy stood up to leave when the one and only Regulus Black walked in. At first, they both stared at each other, neither boy said a word. James felt his heart pounding in his chest and could only hope that Regulus didn't notice how flustered he was making James. He was so focused on hiding it that he didn't notice Regulus blushing slightly.

Regulus scolded himself for feeling this way around James, it was like there was electricity flowing in his veins and he hated it. He kept reminding himself that James was a boy, it was wrong, they were on opposite sides of the war, the list went on and on. But those things had started to lose their weight against his feelings for James and it was scaring him. Regulus was terrified when occasionally he would think, So what? when these thoughts kept plaguing him. In truth, he was scared of the very possibility that he may have some sort of feelings towards James. He hated James. Or he thought he did. It was all very confusing. Potter.

Regulus's thoughts stopped racing for a second. He had been subconsciously been referring to James as James. Potter. He reminded himself. Not James, just Potter. He mentally slapped himself for not noticing sooner and for doing it in the first place. It was unacceptable; Ja- Potter was someone who would always be out of Regulus's reach. He just had to remember that. He realised that they had been standing there in complete silence for a few minutes, he shuffled back to leave when Potter grabbed his arm. "It's ok I'm leaving."

Regulus froze. He wasn't used to physical contact so unexpectedly. His thoughts were of Grimmauld Place. And Sirius. He was bleeding on the floor. Blood was everywhere.

Regulus' hands started shaking and his breathing became harder to control. James realised his mistake as soon as he made it, he resisted the urge to scream out in frustration for his own stupidity. He gently took one of Regulus's hands in his own and started talking gently, "Regulus, look at me. It's James, alright."

Regulus was still staring at the floor, his eyes filled with fear and his face was paler than James thought was humanly possible. James used his other hand and placed it on the side of Regulus's face, turning his head slowly. "Reg, it's me ok? It's just stupid bloody James Potter, please just snap out of it." James found himself getting worked up, he was used to Sirius having panic attacks, but they were never like this; Regulus' eyes looked vacant and he just felt so distant that it was scaring James.

"Come on, please just look at me Reg." James felt close to tears. 

"Regulus! Please." Just as James thought he was going to lose his last shred of control, Regulus's eyes flickered up to meet his. James was sure he had never been so relieved in his entire life.

"I'm so sorry. I know. Sirius is like this sometimes. I should have known better. Great Godric, say something. Please." He barely took a breath as the words sort of fell out of his mouth.

Regulus looked quite startled by his small outburst and whispered, "Thank you." Before turning around and walking out of the Astronomy Tower. James was beyond confused, he was very close to following Regulus but eventually, decided against it. He started walking back to the dorm hoping that the others would be there.

Remus, after much wining and begging on Sirius's part, had finally caved and was lying down on the bed next to Sirius who had fallen asleep not very long ago. Somehow, Sirius had his arm over Remus's chest but he was facing away, one leg was over Remus' legs and the other was bent at an uncomfortable angle on top of it. He could only wonder how Sirius got himself into such positions whilst sleeping. Sirius was still gorgeous to him. Remus felt his eyelids start to grow heavy and he rolled onto his side very gently, not to wake Sirius, he wrapped his arms around the other boy and allowed himself to drift off to sleep. 

Benjy was staring across the table at Evie. To say she looked awful would have been an understatement; she flinched at every loud noise and was clearly in pain but trying to hide it. She had missed their first lesson and had walked in with that Black boy. Evie was scribbling something down but clearly wasn't paying attention to a word coming out of that teacher's mouth, Benjy noticed how Black had left as soon as she had sat down in front of Benjy, they had Charms with the Hufflepuffs anyway so he didn't understand how or why he had ended up with Evie. She was like a sister to Benjy and he didn't want her getting hurt. He wanted to ask but knew she probably wouldn't tell him, she was like that; keeping everything inside until she finally couldn't take it anymore. Very similar to himself and Em. He remembered the one time that he was having an awful week. The three had been talking and he had turned around suddenly to punch the wall. It was strange, he had been keeping a calm exterior all week but for some reason, he had just snapped, almost punching Em in the process. The two had managed to stop him from hitting the wall, even though his knuckles were already bleeding. He had cried into Em's shoulder whilst Evie healed his hands. They had stayed with him for the rest for the day, skipping their lessons to make sure he was alright.

Similar things had happened with the other two as well and they were always there for each other. No matter what. He knew that would be the case for as long as they lived, he knew they would be a perfect warrior's trio for the Order, but for the moment he was focusing on the girl sat opposite him.

James was sure that even if Remus and Sirius had been in the dorm that they would have left to go to lessons by now, but when he walked in he saw both Remus and Sirius in the dorm. Not only were they both in the dorm, but they were both on Sirius's bed and they were sleeping with each other. James felt a smirk tug at his lips, he slowly backed out of the room and quietly shut the door, still surprised by what he had seen. He was overjoyed to say the least, they were finally getting somewhere, he could only hope neither of them messed it up.

Peter had been wondering around the school looking for any sign of Sirius, a sickening feeling in his gut told him that Sirius was fine and that the others hadn't cared enough to tell him. Though, Peter was extremely worried that Sirius was huddled in a corner somewhere, scared and crying. So, of course he kept looking. It was quite lonely really, searching the school top to bottom, not being sure of where he went. Peter hated how calm Remus and James could stay during times like these but he would just overthink and panic. Sometimes Peter wondered if he really belonged in Gryffindor, of if he wasn't just sorted there by accident somehow. It just didn't make sense, he felt himself better suited as a Hufflepuff. These days nothing really made sense anymore, with the war going on and countless other pointless dramas going back and forth around school, it all felt very hopeless. Peter was holding out for Halloween and then Christmas; the best two holidays of the year

Remus and Sirius were strictly Halloween people, whereas he and James were more Christmas people. It was strange, how much difference one holiday and some nice food made for people. Though it was naive, sometimes Peter wondered if all these wars could be solved by the leaders sitting down at a table, eating some nice food and taking a few days off work. No one wold never test this out, obviously, but he couldn't help but think about the possibility that all of this mess could be fixed in one quick dinner. It was a fantasy, no problem that big could have a solution that was so simple. It was a dream of some sorts, he hated how it would most definitely never come true.

Regulus found himself running through the corridors to get away from Potter. He was utterly humiliated that James had seen him in such a way, it was awful; no one had ever seen him like that, not even Sirius and he had been so careless to let it happen in front of James. Regulus exhaled sharply in frustration and ducked into the nearest broom closet where he yelled at the wall in frustration for a while. Once he had calmed himself down, Regulus started walking to his next lesson and tried to create a plan to avoid Potter indefinitely to avoid all embarrassments. It was an awful plan in all honesty, he didn't even know how he would go about starting to avoid James, he just knew he had to. He had let himself get too comfortable with the idea of James and he needed to fix it. For one, he kept calling him James, that would look terrible if it slipped out in front of his parents. Regulus sighed and shook his head as he reached the Arithmancy classroom, he took a breath and reminded himself to stay present enough to get good notes down, Merlin help him if he dropped a mark on any test paper.

Chapter Text

"Hey!" Sirius called out in protest as a bean narrowly missed his face.

"Sorry Pads, wait actually I'm not sorry." James chuckled as he threw another bean, which this time hit Sirius's forehead. Sirius feigned shock as he slapped a hand dramatically to his heart and shrieking,

"Prongs! Must you wound me in this way?"

"Shut up!!" Remus whacked Sirius with a pillow as he tipped a whole packet of beans over James's head. "We need to come up with a good prank for Halloween. We've barely done anything this year and-"

Sirius cut him off by tackling him to the floor. Remus smacked his head on the floor and groaned quietly in pain. That's going to leave a bruise. Whilst James and Peter didn't catch it and carried on laughing and chucking beans at each other, Sirius looked guilty. The boy looked so scared for a second before launching himself on top of Remus and turning his head to the side checking for any signs of injury. Sirius was muttering something under his breath and Remus couldn't quite catch it, he focused very intently on the other's voice and was sure he could make out, "I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. Please don't hate me Moony. I'm so stupid. Merlin, what's wrong with-"

At this, Remus interrupted Sirius by pressing a finger over his mouth, "Don't you ever say that. Don't you ever even think it. I'm fine Sirius, accidents happen. Stop blaming yourself." Sirius' eyes widened slightly in surprise but he just nodded, knowing better than to argue with the boy underneath him. Wait-

Sirius felt himself turn bright red as he realised that he was still on top of Remus. He quickly slid off and turned back towards James and Peter who didn't seem to have noticed the somewhat awkward interaction Remus and Sirius had just shared. He felt Remus push himself up and shuffle next to him, the boy was so close that Sirius could feel his body heat. Of course, only their arms were touching, but it felt like Remus was touching him everywhere. Everything was just Remus. And Sirius loved it. He hadn't been paying much attention to what James had been saying, he'd make up for it later, for now all he could think about was the boy next to him. In his mind, it was just Remus Remus Remus Remus Remus over and over until his name hadn't even sounded real. Sirius allowed his eyes to close for a second and breathed in deeply, he could smell chocolate and peppermint and it brought a smile to his face, Remus smelt like old people but in the best possible way. He hadn't noticed James trying to get his attention until he tapped his knee gently.

"Padfoot?" James was officially worried; he had tried to get Sirius's attention three times now but had received no response. His eyes were closed and he was smiling, but it was still worrying for some reason. Maybe it was that morning at the Astronomy Tower with Regulus or the panic attacks Sirius had been getting more and more often, but James was scared. He gently tapped Sirius's knee, his brother's eyes opened and met his. "Thank Merlin!" James may as well have screamed. "And what were you thinking so much about that you decided to ignore me?"

Sirius opened his mouth to reply but Remus beat him to it, "Please just give us the elaborate details of this prank and we'll be on our way. I'm going to be late for my study session with Lily."

"Fine."

At 5pm Sirius walked down the steps in front of the Great Hall, smirking widely, he made his way to the Marauder's usual spot and sat himself down opposite James.

"Is it ready?" James was trying to hide the huge grin on his face. Sirius just nodded as he didn't trust himself not to burst out laughing if he spoke. After Dumbledore's rather strange speech, everyone tucked into a delicious meal and was talking amongst themselves. That is until James gave the signal for Remus to slip out of the hall and come back with a cage of Nifflers hidden under the Invisibility Cloak in a broom closet opposite the Hall. 

As soon as the puddings came out, Remus opened the latch of the cage and the little beast scurried out. There were six of them and soon enough, they were stealing anything shiny off people's shoes and then climbing onto the and stealing any jewellery they could get their hands on. It was utter chaos and the Marauders were loving it. Lily had picked up her Herbology textbook and had proceeded to whack James with it, as he was the closest to her, and cursed him for coming up with such an idea. 

McGonagall had eventually intervened and conjured a cage for them to be kept in until a suitable place could be found to keep them, a lot of the students thought that was it for the big Halloween Prank. But the Marauders knew it was just the beginning. 

For the rest of the evening statues and suits of armour would spring to life and sing-yell the chorus of "Killer Queen" at every fifth person who walked by. The Marauders, naturally, found this hilarious; people were screaming and jinxing statues or suits of armour and sometimes being hit by the re-bound of their own spells. After watching a Hufflepuff fourth year get thrown across the room by his own jelly-legs jinx, the laughing idiots stumbled up towards their Tower. Pausing outside of McGonagall's office because there was one more aspect of this prank they had yet to see.

The group huddled under the Invisibility Cloak and followed McGonagall down the corridor until she reached a painting, it started singing the first verse of Bohemian Rhapsody. She looked quite disappointed, shook her head and carried on walking, the next painting continued the song and it went on as she moved through the corridor. By the time she had reached Dumbledore's office, the song had been sung by various paintings two and a half times.

McGonagall looked like she could kill, James had to pull the Marauders into an empty classroom where they had rolled around on the floor laughing at the success of their pranks. There was a shared feeling between the boys that everything had gone the way it was supposed to, they were sure to get detentions but it didn't matter; the prank had simply been too amazing for ay of them to care about a week or so of detentions.

Em Vance walked arm in arm with Evie McGrath as they passed another singing statue, Benjy had been thrown into a wall, had his legs turned to jelly, had his hair turn yellow and been turned into a frog because of his curse's backfiring and other people's hitting him from across the room. Em thought it was genius, the way the Marauders pulled these things off. It was a known fact that they were the school idiots but she couldn't help bit admire how patient they had to be to pull off a prank like that. Also, they weren't directly harming anybody so they could probably worm their way out of a detention as well. She giggled quietly at the thought of those four talking their way out of a detention with McGonagall staring angrily and firmly at them.\

Evie tapped her shoulder gently and raised her eyebrows in questioning. Em only laughed louder which brought a smile to Evie's face. They hadn't seen Evie smile for what felt like ages, she always looked more tired and she was far jumpier. Em had even walked in on Evie using a concealment charm for some reason, all questions had been shut down and they had to respect Evie's boundaries. Benjy had also noticed the change in his friend and was clearly trying to pry what had happened out of her, it was no use but they both still tried.

By the time they had reached Ravenclaw Tower and settled down on one of the sofas to continue a puzzle that had been left there of the night sky, the trio had passed at least 30 singing statues and been jinxed at least 3 times each, Evie glanced at the ceiling and smiled slightly. Em and Benjy followed her gaze, the common room ceiling was always covered in writing and poetry, Evie had written something up there this morning and the group flicked their eyes back and forth over the whole ceiling to try and find it.

"Someone finished it." Evie whispered. "That line I couldn't get quite right. Somebody finished the poem."

"Someone always does Evie." Benjy chuckled at his friend's awe when it was a completely normal thing for a half-finished piece to be written on the ceiling and for somebody else to write a suggestion under it. The same would happen with music scripture or to paintings and drawings, if the was the writing Standstill over it. However, if Unfinished was on the artwork, it was off limits. The whole house had a very respectful and loving system when it came to the arts, it just worked.

"I kinda want to proof read a story for someone, I'm checking the box, you coming?" Em stood up and made her way to the Not Proof-Read box where authors put their writing to be checked for errors or inconsistencies by other Ravenclaws and then to be returned to the Proof-Read box for them and made into something later. Both Evie and Benjy shook their heads, "Care of Magical Creatures essay is due tomorrow and I've barely written a paragraph." Evie supplied.

"The fact that you've started is impressive." Benjy replied. The three burst into easy laughter and once Em had come back with a few chapters of the book being written that she was following ("Chris finally wrote some more! I have been waiting days to find out what happened between Nora and Steile! Everybody knows The Glass Court is mine to proof read Benjy, and I didn't break him in half on purpose! The Lip-Lock jinx went wrong, oh just shove it.") They sat in a comfortable silence and sipped teas and coffee whilst putting more pieces of the puzzles into place. 

The Marauderettes had gone back to their dorm far earlier than they would have liked for many different reasons; Marlene and Dorcas just wanted some privacy to be more intimate with each other, Mary wanted to avoid the singing statues because "There are only so many times I can hear the chorus of 'Killer Queen' before I want to shoot myself" and Lily so that she could complain about James and his "gang of nitwits, except for Remus of course." Anyway, the girls had agreed to go up to the dorm, Marlene and Mary decided drink for a bit much to Lily's dismay. Dorcas had politely declined because she wanted to get a decent mark on her Divination paper the next day to which Marlene had scoffed and said, "Wait, there's a Divination paper tomorrow? Oops." and downed a shot of Fire Whiskey without so much as wincing.

Dorcas found Marlene's alcohol tolerance extremely impressive, whilst Lily was a lightweight and both herself and Mary could hold their alcohol to some extent, there was no beating Marlene in a contest involving any drink. The girl had a stomach made of iron, very similar to Remus and Sirius who also didn't even get tipsy until they had drank a lot. And that was a lot. Dorcas had once witnessed Sirius down half a bottle of Fire Whiskey and then do cartwheels around the room on a dare from a very drunk James. It had been funny to watch but even after he was done cartwheeling the length of the common room 3 times at James's request, Sirius had seemed fairly unbothered and just sat down to continue playing. Dorcas smiled fondly at the memory before tuning back into the conversation in the room.

"All I'm saying is they're not that bad Lils." Marlene was trying to reason with a flustered looking Lily, "Once you get past the whole annoying-thing," She waved her arms around in a flapping motion, "They're ok. James is actually quite funny, you already like Remus, Peter is so lovely and sweet and Sirius..." She paused for a second before her eyes lit up with a mischievous glint and she continued, "Sirius isn't half a bad kisser."

Mary snorted and Lily smacked Marlene with a pillow, "What? I mean we snogged like 3 or 4 times in the-" Marlene spied Lily's glare,"Okay, maybe it was more like 10 or 20 times in broom closets in like the fourth year at the beginning when neither of us had any idea about anything. Like I am so gay. And I mean so gay I don't even know why I ever thought that I wasn't. And that boy has been pining after Remus for as long as I can remember. God he's so stupid. What was I saying again?" Marlene looked up and was greeted by Lily's annoyed glare, Mary stifling a laugh and Dorcas's amused stare.

"You were supposed to be convincing Lily why the Marauders are okay but you got a bit side-tracked." Dorcas cleared her throat to cover her giggle at the end.

"Oh of course! Lily he's a great kisser, you should snog him and see for yourself." Lily rolled her eyes and got up.

"Right, I'm going to sleep because I don't want to be sleeping through all my classes tomorrow or have a raging hangover." She looked pointedly at Marlene who shrugged and walked to her bed and started changing her clothes. After they were all in their nighties and they had brushed their teeth, Mary and Lily got into their own beds and fell asleep fairly quickly, whilst Marlene had slid into Dorcas's bed and was staring at her girlfriend as she was sleeping. The blonde still couldn't quite comprehend just how beautiful her girlfriend was. Marlene grinned widely in the dark before snuggling into Dorcas's chest and falling to sleep.

What she didn't know was that Dorcas was still awake and was smiling into the dark as she felt Marlene become completely relaxed in her arms.

Chapter Text

Regulus hadn't really meant to be in the library. It sort of just happened. His DADA class, which he shared with Evie and the Ravenclaws, needed a parchment on Patronus Charms and he didn't know much about them. He had just wondered through the library looking for a book to help when he physically bumped into the last person he had expected to see in the library: James Potter.

Now, if you asked Regulus what he hated the most about James, he would tell you some made up bullshit like he's annoying or the Potters are blood traitors, what he actually hated, or rather thought he hated, about James was his ability to be everywhere. James was always in the corridors between lessons, he was always at meals at the same time as Regulus and now James was in the library. The library for Salazar's sake. What was James freaking Potter doing in the library?

Regulus stumbled back and mumbled a quiet, "Sorry." before trying to move past James.

James being James stopped him by blocking his path with his body. "Regulus, what happened at the Astronomy Tower that other day?"

Straight to the point. No subtleties with this one.

"I don't know what you're talking about." The reply was immediate, practised and rehearsed a million times over. Almost a reflex at this point. 

"No. What happened?" James's stare hardened a little bit. 

"I don't want to talk about it." Regulus held his stare.

James smiled a little and said, "Ok. just help me find this History of Magic book for house elves and I'll stop harassing you."

Regulus frowned before scanning through the bookshelves for House Elves and Wizards: A Longstanding History so that he could find a book on Patronus Charms and study. He found it without too much trouble and turned around to hand it to James. The spectacled boy was stood directly behind him and so Regulus turned right into James's chest and walked into him for the second time that afternoon. James let out a light chuckle before holding a book out to Regulus.

The younger raised an eyebrow before taking in cautiously and looking over it. An Expert's Guide to Patronus Charms. Regulus felt the breath catch in his throat because James did something for him. James did something for him without Regulus even having to ask.

"Figured we could help each other out." James spoke quietly and shrugged nervously. Regulus held out the book on House Elves to him and James muttered a small, "Thank you." before turning to leave. Regulus leapt forward and grabbed his arm, "Don't leave." The words were out of his mouth before he could even process what he was doing.

The Gryffindor looked shocked but nodded and let himself be pulled to a table next to them. James watched as Regulus pulled out a parchment and started scribbling away, allowing himself to smile before doing the same and starting his essay. The two boys sat in a comfortable silence trying to study, of course they were both thinking about the other but that was ok; they could just be study buddies or something, even though they both knew that study buddies didn't think about each other like that. It could be ignored.

After a few hours, both boys had finished their respective essays but neither wanted to move. Not a single word had passed between them but there wasn't any tension, much to Regulus's dismay. He had thought if James was annoying enough that these feelings would just go away and now that they hadn't, Regulus was even more worried and confused than before.

Eventually, James spoke up, "I have Quidditch practise."

Regulus looked up at him, "Then shouldn't you be going?"

"I need help with Potions." James blurted the words out.

Regulus smirked a little, "And?"

James rolled his eyes, "I need your help. Slughorn never shuts up about how amazing you are at Potions and I think I'm failing. And so, Merlin help me Regulus, you are going to be my tutor."

Regulus nodded and bit the inside of his cheeks to keep himself from smiling, "How are Saturday afternoons? I'm thinking from lunch to dinner."

"Thanks Reggie." James winked as he stood up and tucked his chair in, he shoved the essay into his bag and walked away. James glanced back at Regulus and this time he couldn't stop the grin that spread across his cheeks.

Glancing at the clock, Regulus knew Evie would be studying in the Room and so he gathered his things and slung his bag over his shoulder before making his way there.

When he arrived, Evie looked up and smiled. "Hey Reg." He shook his head at the nickname before replying,

"Hello, good day?"

"Bloody Ferguson set Em on fire during Charms and then tried to put it out but using the water charm. Let's just say it didn't work quite how he thought it would and the entire class was both singed and soaked by the end of it. How was your day?"

"Ran into Ja-" He cleared his throat, "Potter in the library." Evie grinned widely.

"James, huh?"

Regulus only hummed in response, unable to stop the blush creeping up his neck.

"You two would be great together, I'm telling you. He's handsome and you're stunning. Controversial too, I mean nobody would expect it."

Regulus had grown accustomed to the things Evie said, she seemed so ok with the whole gay thing even though Regulus had never mentioned any liking for James or any boys in fact, he hadn't said anything to her about this at all. When he had asked how she knew a few weeks back, she had replied simply with, "It's easy to see when you know what you're looking for."

And it made sense. Of course, it did, the pair had grown much closer after what they were referring to as 'The Incident' and their lives had somehow become muddled together. At first, they had studied together mostly in silence and usually in the Room. But after a few days, they started exchanging pleasantries. After a few more, they started helping each other with homework and before either of them realised, they had become friends. They wouldn't be too friendly outside of their safe place but people, mostly in their year group, had known them to be studying together and it was no secret that they spent a lot of time together away from classes.

The Slytherin boys had accused Regulus of being in a relationship with her and he had scoffed, they then went on to tell him about how Evie was hopelessly in love with him and even though he didn't believe it, a part of him was terrified that it could be true. She did say things from time to time which made Regulus overthink their entire friendship but, in the end, they always found a way back together.

A comfortable silence had enveloped the room and as Regulus sat on a desk, Evie scribbled on her parchment furiously opposite him. The essay they had to write on Patronus Charms proved to be more interesting and in depth than she thought it would be.

Regulus had finished his essay about ten minutes ago and knew he should have been reading through it whilst Evie was doing hers, but he kept finding it harder and harder to keep one line of thought. He felt like he was starting to lose his grasp on reality and it was scaring him. Regulus tried to take a few deep breaths and focus on the sound of Evie’s quill, but in the end, he heard the familiar ringing in his ears and was back at Grimmauld Place.

It was always the same. Regulus had been tied to the wall and forced to watch as Sirius was beaten and cursed into unconsciousness. His parents called it ‘teaching’ for both brothers. The first few times these so-called lessons had been trialled, Regulus had been intervening much to his parents’ dismay. He would always find an excuse to leave or stop them, hence why they had taken to binding him or tying him down to watch.

He hated every second of it. That night had been particularly bad; Walburga had used the cutting curse so many times that by the time she was done, Sirius was lying in a pool of his own blood, Orion had kicked and punched Sirius so many times that Regulus had lost count. And of course, they had been going back and forth using other dark curses on his brother. At first, Sirius would stand up after every punch and curse was thrown at him, until he was too weak to. Walburga and Orion would torture him until he passed out, use a spell to wake him and continue this process for hours on end. Eventually, Sirius’s body would give out and the spell wouldn’t wake him, it was always at this point that Regulus worried his brother had finally been killed. His parents would unbind him and go upstairs, presumably to bed.

Sometimes, Regulus would summon Kreacher to help. Other times, he would be too scared to move and so he would stand there staring at Sirius’s body until something snapped inside of him and his muscles started working again. But most of the time, he would rush to his brother’s side and cry until Sirius woke up, Regulus would treat the wounds to the best of his ability and then help Sirius up into his room. The brothers never really spoke after these nights. They were just too awful to discuss.

Regulus felt trapped, he was staring at his brother’s body, lying on a pool of his own blood and he was completely helpless to do anything about it.

Evie looked up from her parchment to ask Regulus a question; she wasn’t sure what to write for the ending of the essay and, since he hadn’t been writing, she had assumed Regulus had finished his. But, instead of his usually soft grey eyes, she was met with a distant gaze from him. She bit down on her lip to stop herself from panicking too much. Evie stood slowly and slipped her arm under Regulus’s. She gently pulled him from his seat on top of the table and led him over to the bed that had appeared in the corner.

Evie moved Regulus so that he was lying down and she settled down next to him. She tried to stay as calm as possible and give him space, but she soon caved and slid into his arms. Evie rested her head on top of his chest so that she could hear his heartbeat very clearly, the Ravenclaw took his hand in her own and started tracing patterns following the lines on his palm.

Regulus felt like his hand was being tickled, that was impossible of course; he was tied to a wall and his brother being tortured in front of him, who could be tickling his hand. A few minutes later, he became aware of a soft weight on his chest, like someone had rested their head on top of it. He really tried to focus on it, he tried to let himself feel it. Regulus shut his eyes and the sounds of his worst nightmares faded away and a comforting silence followed. When Regulus realised where he was and that his parents weren’t nearby, he felt safe. The boy let out a breath he hadn’t realise he was holding and started stroking Evie’s hair.

Evie felt Regulus’s slender fingers start to work their way through her hair and she instantly relaxed. “There you are.” She breathed, “I was getting worried.” Evie felt Regulus bring her hand to his lips and place a small kiss on it, his way of saying thank you.

“I’m sorry for worrying you.” Regulus spoke quite clearly and meaningfully. It dismayed Evie because of how serious he sounded, he knew she wanted to help him like he had been helping her but he always apologised.

“No need. It can be my new job Reg.” She smiled and buried her head deeper into his chest. Both friends felt slightly more at ease than they had done for days.