Chapter 2 - The Marauders

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"You know what I heard?"

"What?"

"I heard the Crown of Hogwarts is going to be in the Great Hall."

"No."

"Yes."

"You're joking."

"I'm not."

Four seventh-year Gryffindor boys were sitting in their designated compartment on the Hogwarts Express for the seventh year in a row. James Potter, who leaned against the window, nodded impressively, his long legs stretched out on the seat.

"That's what my dad told me, at least." Peter Pettigrew, who sat across from him, looked at him with a mixture of awe and excitement.

"Are you sure?" Peter asked, his round face shining.

"Never been so sure in my life." James flashed the compartment a cocky grin, running his hand through his messy raven hair and fixing his glasses.

Sirius Black rolled his eyes from next to James. "Prongs, quit being a show-off. I heard him talking about it, too." He picked up James' legs and threw them on the floor. James glared at him but didn't move back.

"Well, I doubt anyone else knows."

Remus Lupin smirked. "Yeah, right. Rumors travel faster than wildfires around here."

"Merlin's pants!" came a shriek from the corridor outside of the train compartment. All four Marauders turned their heads to the source of the noise.

A red-haired girl flung open the door to the compartment. "Did you hear the news?!" she nearly shouted. Without waiting for an answer, she squeezed herself between Sirius and James.

"Hey, Red," Sirius said, smiling down at her. She grinned at him and then turned to James.

James' hand shot up to his hair, ruffling it slightly. "Evans," he said, his voice losing the trace of arrogance it had held a few minutes earlier.

"The Crown of Hogwarts is going to be at Hogwarts!" she exclaimed, bouncing in her seat excitedly.

Remus shot James a look that said, I told you so. James flushed pink for a second.

"Yeah, Lily, we heard," Peter said. Lily's smile didn't falter. "Everyone's been talking about it! I can't wait to see it! It's been hidden for over a thousand years," she said.

Sirius rolled his eyes. "We don't need a history lesson, Red."

"Did you hear?!"

"I already told them, Mar," Lily said, turning to the blond in the doorway.

Marlene McKinnon shrugged. "Boy, would I love to get my hands on some of those jewels." Lily frowned. She didn't know whether she was talking about Sirius or the Crown.

They all chuckled slightly as Marlene sat down across from Lily. "But that's not even the most exciting news... Lily, don't you have something to share with everyone?"

Lily rolled her eyes. "This isn't show-and-tell, Mar."

"But you should tell them, anyway!"

"What's the big deal? It's not even that exciting -"

"Lily's Head Girl!" Marlene blurted. Lily shot her a withering glare. Marlene gave her a sheepish smile.

"That's great news, Lily!" said Remus, giving her a smile.

"Brilliant," Sirius remarked, pulling out a pack of Exploding Snap cards.

James scratched the back of his neck nervously. "Uh... well..."

"That's great, Lily! James is Head Boy!" Peter said excitedly.

At once, the three other boys groaned.

"It was supposed to be a surprise, Pete," Sirius said, rolling his eyes and shuffling the deck.

James sighed. "Wormtail..."

Remus just chuckled at the look on Lily's face.

James turned to Lily to assess her facial expression and laughed. "Evans, dear, you may want to close your mouth. You quite resemble a fish." He used his index finger to push up on her jaw, effectively closing her lips.

"I - but -"

"Lils, why don't we just go get some fresh air," Marlene suggested, grabbing Lily by the elbow and hoisting her up and out the door.

"See you in a few," she said to the Marauders with a wink before sliding the compartment door shut.

"Wow," James said, his face pink.

"I know," Sirius said, dealing the cards. "McKinnon has a really nice arse."

***

"Breathe, Lily. Breathe."

Lily Evans and Marlene McKinnon stood to the side of the Marauders' compartment as Lily very nearly hyperventilated.

Lily gulped for air as Marlene patted her on the back.

"Okay. Okay, I'm good."

"It's just James, Lils."

"Just James? Just James?" Lily ran her fingers through her vibrant red hair, her emerald eyes wide. "This - this is James Potter, Mar."

"I thought you didn't hate him anymore."

"I don't hate him, Marlene, I never hated him. You and I both know that."

Marlene smiled. "That's true... but what's wrong?"

"I'm going to live in the same dorm with the boy that I've liked for, what, three years now?"

"Four, but isn't that every girl's dream?"

"Mar, the problem is that I pretended I hated him for five years."

"Well... four. You actually hated him fifth year."

"Quit correcting me. The point is, how am I supposed to cope? How am I supposed to... Oh Merlin! Marlene, we're going to share a bathroom!"

"So?"

"So... I can't do this, Marlene. I really can't."

"Hush, child. It will all be fine."

Lily gave her a skeptical look. Marlene sighed, flipping her hair over her shoulder.

"Hey, this is our last year, right?"

Lily nodded reluctantly.

"Well, you have to make the best of it. No throwing tantrums. And he really has changed, you know."

Lily shrugged and stared at her shoes. "Maybe... maybe the next time he asks me out, I'll say yes."

Marlene gave a squeak of delight. "Atta girl! Ah, you guys would be so cute together!"

Lily rolled her eyes. "Don't get too excited. Should we change yet?" She gestured to the darkening sky out the window.

Marlene nodded. "Come on, let's get our trunks."

As they walked through the corridor, a blue-haired girl joined them.

"So, Lils, are you Head Girl?" she asked.

Lily laughed. "I can't keep letting you sneak out, Dorcas."

Dorcas Meadowes smiled. "Don't kid yourself, Lils. You and I both know that you aren't going to do anything about it."

Lily sighed. "You know me too well."

They reached their compartment and Dorcas opened the door for them. "Ladies first."

Marlene rolled her eyes. "Age before beauty."

Dorcas snorted. "I'm literally two days older than you, Mar." But she walked in anyway.

The train rattled on the tracks, and Dorcas' trunk fell on her toe. "AAARRGGHHH! GOD - FUCKING - DAMMIT!"

"It's good to have Dorcas back," Lily commented and turned to help Marlene heave the (very heavy) trunk off Dorcas' foot.

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