And just like Christmas had come and gone, next year arrived and the first month went away so quickly that anyone noticed, and then another one, and then the next. While for the younger students April started as a quiet month, for the seventh and fifth years, the mere course of the time was stressing; each day that went by exams were closer, and the teachers reminded them about it with piles and piles of homework. But once again, Easter Holidays were coming, and with them, an excuse to get away from their worries.
"Seems like this year I'll be spending Easter at home," Lily commented looking at the parchment, puting her books in her rucksack and placing it on her shoulder, tottering a bit as she did so. Remus delicately took it, putting it on his back effortlessly.
"I'm going home too," he said, leaving next to her the classroom where they had met the Head Boy and Girl to arrange their last patrols before the holidays. "I'd stay
but I think it'd be good for my mum to see me." He said.
Lily looked at him out of the corner of her eye and she couldn't help doing the maths in her head. She was right; full moon was just a few days from now. Maybe that's why Remus would rather not stay at the castle with his friends.
From the moment she had confirmed her theory, the redhead knew she would never say a word to anyone. The truth about Remus would never come out of her mouth, she promised herself; and she had kept the promise: none of her friends knew anything about it. They had been worried about her at first, intrigued by taciturn mood, but they had assumed it was about her father. Remus, whom she had been looking at with pain for weeks, had thought the same thing. Until she understood that that was precisely one of the things her friends would hate; on one side, sure he would hate being hated and feared, but on the other side, the pity, the compassion. Only then Lily understood the reason behind his permanent lack of self esteem, behind hsi awkwards silences, his reluctance to relate to other people, and she knew that she would definitely not be helpfull by feeling sorry for him. She was about to tell him she knew his secret, but she assumed that that would only make him want to grow apart from her; she knew him well enough no know it. So Lily had opted to pretend nothing had happened. No, not exactly; she would just go back to treat him like she did before. Remus was the same bloke as always, he just had a
little problem. A little problem that probably made him unhappy, but it was already part of him, and it had helped developing his personality. The best thing the redhead could do was being there for him, as always.
"What will become of Hogwarst without you to control the subnormal beings you have as friends? I'm glad I won't be here to see it." She commented, making the lycanthrope laugh.
"I've already told you they're not that bad," the boy said, and Lily looked at him raising an eyebrow. Lupin let out a guffaw. "Fine, they're a bit troublemakers, I concede that."
"A little? Where were you when last week they let out Flitwick's mouses at Potions class? Or when about a month ago all Slytherins' belongings appeared floating on the lake? Oh, wait, I think you were there when they spoiled my Hallowe'en ball
" she spat, gesturing with her hands as she talked, the tone going up with every words. Remus tried to get serious, but failed with a loud crash.
"Well, they're big-time troublemakers. But they're good friends. And you must admit that since then they haven't been so annoying with you." He said. Lily snorted and crossed her arms; it was true, since Hallowe'en, they had stopped bothering her so much, although the occasional invitations to Hogsmeade or to a stroll by the lake were still common factor in all of their interactions.
"Fine. I admit it. BUt that doesn't mean they're not immature prats. And since they won the last game, Potter's ego is so swelled that I feel like hitting him unconscious." The boy laughed again, and he had to stop to breath, grabbing his stomach after Lily started mimicking his friends, running her fingers through her hair and walking as if she owned the world. The truth was that she did it quite well; anyone would have said that she spent hours observing him.
"By the way, why does he do that?" the redhead asked once her friend recomposed.
"Why he does what?" he inquired before pronounced the password to the Fat Lady.
"Why is he constantly untidying his hair? To make it look as if he has just gotten off the broom? Merlin, what a huge ego. We got it; we know he is a big Quidditch hero."
She pronounced that last sentence while she entered the Common Room, and as if he hadn't caught the sarcasm in the phrase, an insidious voice the redhead had learnt to recognize said:
"Talking 'bout me?" The redhead rolled her eyes, taking her rucksack and thanking Remus with a smile going to her room; or at least trying to, because Potter put his arm on the wall, leaning on it to block her way.
"What do you want now?" she spat moodily and with tiredness. James smiled smugly.
"I want you to go out with me."
"No." James sighed frustrated, messing up his hair.
"Come on, Lily, you know you want to!" Inadequate words' choice, as always.
"What I want is you to move awaym" she said, hitting his arm and cointinuing her way.
"At the end of the day, it'll turn out she's right," Remus commented with a smile.
"About what?" he said without looking at him.
"About you having the ego so swelled that soon you won't be able to stand up because of the weight of your head."
"At least she isn't seeing that Davis git..," the boy sighed after chasing his friend across the Common Room in front of an amused group of first years and hitting his nape with all his might.
"Weeeeell," Remus begun saying, and James face transformed.
"WHAT?" he yelled. The lycanthrope seemed to be struggling between telling him or not, but he decided that the best thing for James' health, for the community's welfare, and his own life, would be to tell him.
"He has sent her a note, I think they're meeting today at seven." He said, and Potter nodded.
"Fine. Where are Padfoot and Wormtail? Let's see what we can think of this time."
"No." The soft little voice came so the sofá so firmly that they both smiled; Bree inspired tenderness in everyone.
"What do you mean by 'no'?" James asked, raising an eyebrow. Bree sat up with her arms crossed and her curls in a mess, frowning and looking like an angry doll.
"You won't do anything to avoid or ruin their date today, James." She stated, confident.
"I would listen to her if I were you, Prongs," said Sirius, who had just went down the stairs with Peter. "You won't like to see her angry"
Bree blushed significantly, but greeted Sirius with a smile that he returned. Remus watched them and had to supress the impulse of rolling his eyes: how could Padfoot not notice that the girl was crazy about him? Maybe until Christmas it hadn't been that obvious, but after her reaction to Sirius' gift, Remus had no doubt about it. It had probably been then when the girl had realized about what she felt for the Marauders too. Their relationship, however, hadn't changed, despite Bree's usual blushs were even more frequent now. And, thought the lycanthrope, it was obvious that Sirius felt something for her too, but he probably didn't recognize the symptoms; after all, the boy had never had such a close relationship with a woman before.
"I thought you were on my side, Brianna," James commented, half joking, half serious. Bree rolled her eyes and smiled warmly.
"It's not a matter of taking sides, James," when he opened his mouth in order to answer, she hushed him. "But I'd like Lily to know how you really feel about her. Though it'd be good if you could make a little effort not to be so arrogant. But don't worry, James, trust me; if you interrupt their date you'll only get her to yell at you, to sound off about you and even to be interested in Aidan again."
"Again? She isn't interested anymore?" The boy pricked up his ears at the last phrase. Bree looked at her half-closing her eyes and with a smile that tried to be a reproachful expression.
"That's Lily's business." She said, but James' triumphant smile didn't dissapear from his face in the whole day.
"Wanted to see me?" asked Lily, approaching with delicate steps to the boy who was facing the lake, with his back to her. When he heard her, he turned around and dazzled her with his wide smile. For a second, the redhead regretted she hadn't dressed up a little, but she shook her head: she was sure about what she had decided to tell him.
"Hi, Lily," said Aidan, giving her a kiss on the cheek. "Yeah, I think we have a pending conversation" the girl grimaced but nodded, gazing at the lake. He tucked his hands in his pockets and kicked a rock, which fell into the water.
"What did you wanted to tell me?" she asked, faking indiference. A half smile appeared on Aidan's face.
"You've been avoiding me," he said in a slightly accusing tone. Lily raised her eyebrows and begun saying:
"I haven't been
" the skepical expression on the boy's face made her smile. "Fine, yeah, I've been avoiding you." She said unwillingly. THe Hufflepuff shrugged his shoulders.
"And why's that?" Lily looked at him in the eye before answering.
"Our last date didn't end up fine exactly."
"Right, but that was your friends' fault, not mine." He replied moodily, and Lily scowled.
"They're not my friends and yeah, I know it was their fault, but you behaved as rudely as you did just now." She spat, folding her arms.
"I shouldn't have said it that way, Lily, but those immature arseholes deserved quite a-"
"You're overreacting, Aidan," the redhead had no idea about why she was defending the Marauders, but the words just came out of her mouth "I think your reaction was quite immature as well." The boy didn't really like that, as he muttered under his breath:
"Whatever. Anyway, I wanted to know if you'd like to go on a date with me again ot not; they haven't gave us
we haven't had exactly a chance to know each other better." Lily bit her lower lip before answering, wondering if she was doing the right thing.
I think it'd be better if we're just friends." She said. Aidan seemed quite surprised, and it was clearly not being easy for him to accept it.
"'Cause I've been rude with those tossers?" he asked with his pride a bit hurt; he was expecting Lily to say yes.
"'Cause I think it wouldn't work," she stated, omitting the fact that she wasn't very fond of the boy's exaggerated jealousy. "But we get along, it's not like we can't talk to each other again
" Aidan grimaced and nodded.
"Fine. Friends, then. I'll see ya around, good luck with those O.W.L" he said, saying goodbye by slightly bowing his head and leaving towards the castle.
Lily watched him walked away and she realized she was relieved. All of that Aidan's business had only given her headaches; someday, 'the one' would arrive, and she would know it.
"Then, that's it? No more Aidan?" Eli inquired, closing his trunk again and dragging it towards the door while Lily followed him doing the same thing.
"No more Aidan. At least not as a date." She answered, dropping her trunk and sitting on it. "What's taking Becca and Sam so long?"
"Fine. I must admit I didn't really like him." Said the boy, grimacing as he remembered how much Davis had disliked him when he saw him with Lily at the ball. "Though your love life going back to normal is gonna be boring."
"I don't have a love life," Lily clarified, rolling her eyes. "Though I cannot say the same thing about you."
Eli went red to the roots of his hair, and the redhead smiled triumphantly.
"I don't have a love life" the boy murmured looking away and sitting on his trunk.
"Well that's 'cause you're slower than a stunned troll, Eli," the boy looked at her outraged. "It's either that, or that you're a muppet."
The boy sighed with frustration, without denying it this time.
"I still don't get what are you waiting for, if she's head over heela fir you." Eli looked up, staring at her in the eye.
"How can you know that? Did she tell you so?" he asked, skeptically, and Lily rolled her eyes again.
"Of course she hasn't told me, you know her; before admitting it, she would let us rip her tongue off. But it's obvious, Remus has noticed it too
wel all thought that after Hallowe'en you'd stop with this nonsense and be together already"
"You gossips, get your own lovelife to talk about." He replied getting into a hulf, though still red to his ears. Lily's expression mellowed.
"Oh, come on, Eli. You love her. And I know she loves you, I'd bet my life on it. You never know what may happen, or when circumstances will prevent you from being together. You don't have to let this go, Eli, you don't have to try to hold happiness up."
Eli smiled and put his arm around her shoulders, squeezing her tightly against his side and making her laugh.
"Well, I'm sorry to inrerrupt this adorable romantic momento, but there are kids present," Black announced. He had arrived accompanied by Potter, Remus and Pettigrew; the two latter bringing their trunks with them.
"Get lost, Black." Said Lily, barely looking at him with indiference
"Hey Evans," said Potter, untidying his hair and looking atg her with his eyes half-closed. "Don't miss me, you'll be back in a week." Lil rolled he reyes and ignored him.
"James, don't provoke her, I don't want to lose my only company for Easter Holidays
" Bree requested, nimbly going down some steps followed by Becca and Sam, who were holding their luggage.
"And what am I, an oil painting?" Sirius asked, getting offended. Brianna approached to him and kissed him on the cheek, making him laugh and put an arm around her shoulders.
"Aw, how cute." Said Eli, looking at Lily in a way that suggested that probably those too also needed a chatg, but the redhead didn't seem happy about it; she was sure Bree was going to end up hurt.
While they talked, and while James tried to caught Lily's attention in a thousand and one different ways, Rebecca approached to Lupin, placing a han don her waist, smiling, and tilting her head to one side.
"So you're leaving too," she said, and Lupin nodded, his eyes fixed in her large and feline brown eyes. "Well, write me, i f your want. That way I'll know how you're doing with yout illness." The boy gave a start; did she know something?"
"It's not a secret that you aren't a healthy mate, Moony," she said, and he sighed, relieved. "So that one doesn't make it to the list; but don't worry, I haven't forgot about it." She said, winking and dragging her trunk towards the exit, walking away with her characteristic swinging of the hips.
"Checkmate!" yelled Bree, waving her fists in the air and jumping up and down his seat.
She was sitting on the floor, wearing a green pijama and striped socks, accompanied by Sirius and James, who were wearing comfortable muggle clothes. Sirius smiled at her across the table, and James, laying in the sofá, said:
"Well done! I haven't been able to beat him in years." Bree looked at her opponent with suspicion, and she knew it immediately.
"You let me win!" she accused him, folding her arms and scowling. Sirius opened his eyes wide.
"What? No! You've won fairly." He said. Anyone who wasn't Bree or James would've bought it.
"No. You've let me win. It's not fun that way. I wanna play with James." She grumbled. Sirius leant over the table and stretched one of her curls, which tickled her when it went back to its place.
"I promise I won't let you win next time." He said, smiling lovingly.
"Have you heard of Lily?" asked James for the thousandth time in the day. Sirius rolled his eyes and Bree answered in the tone of a kindergarten teacher:
"No, James, I haven't heard of Lily today. You asked me this morning and this afternoon, and a whilte ago too, and I seriouslu doubt that she'll send me a letter at midnight, even less knowing she'll come back in a couple of days"
The boy stopped playing with the ball he had in his hands and looked at Brianna.
"Do I really have a chance? Or you're just saying it to get rid of me?" Bree smiled.
"It's up to you to get yourself that chance. I just said you shouldn't give it up for lost," she clarified, and James smiled thankful. "She might like you, if she really knew you. It's just that you don't let'er"
"She's the one who doesn't-" the boy started tos ay, but Sirius interrupted him.
"No, Prongs. It's you. And probably I'm not helping that much either."
"What's up with you these days? Are you finally maturing?"Bree asked, unable to Dodge him when he pounced on her and begun tickling her.
"Not that I know of"
Sirius closed the heavy wooden doors holding his broom; Bree and James would fly for another while, but he was a bit tired already. He went up the stairs, absentmindedly thinking about how fun the Easter Holidays had turned out to be.
When he reached the second floor, he heard some voices, but he didn't pay attention until he recognized one of them. It was soft and neat, and it stressed the syllables as if they had taught him the way of doing so. The 's' slipped at the end of some words, and Sirius could recognize the same haughty nuances that his own voice had.
When the boy shut up, he could hear a second voice; low and hissing, and easily recognizable as well.
"Hey, Snivelly!" Called him Sirius, appearing in front of them with his classic white smile. "Have you spent your holidays lurking in your lair? I haven't seen ya around." The boy gave him a withering look and took his wand out of his pocket as soon as he heard the Gryffindor's voice.
Sirius looked at the other boy, bute ven though Regulus' eyes show recognition at first, they soon turned cold and were accompanied by a scornful expression. Sirius was surprised that his brother had stayed at school for Easter holidays; he, unlike himself, was welcome at the Black's Manor. But seeing him with Snape had aroused his suspicions, and he knew how to connect the dots. Despite he knew that eventually it was going to happen, he couldn't help how much it hurt.
Snape whispered something and his brother left without even looking back.
"What do you want, Black?" He spat holding his wand, just like Sirius, who had taken out of his pocket as soon as Snape did so. "Although I shouldn't even call you Black; you aren't one, after all."
If that was trying to be an insult, it caused very litle effect. Sirius laughed.
"Oh, come on, Snivellus, you can do much better than that. Or did the oil in your hair ended up penetrating your skull and affecting your brains?" Snape pressed his wand and waved it, but Sirius did the same thing, avoiding to be hung in the air by his ankle.
"You're a foul, Black. You'll regret all of this in a few years. And I'll be the one to make you pay, if your brother doesn't do it first, that is." He hissed. Now it was Sirius the one to go red in rage.
"This is between you and me, Snape. The boy has nothing to do with it." He said, and a cruel and crooked smile crossed his face.
"Oh, but he does. You represent everything we hate, everything we want to eliminate; you're a blood traitor. Being related by blood to you means nothing to him, or, if it does, it only feeds his hopes to destroy you. To destroy the boy who came out wrong, the family's dishonor. It would be better for him if you were dead; with your mere existence you stain his name. That's why he has to kill you, and I think he has it quite clear. You're no longer his brother, and he doesn't belong to you anymore."
As Snape talked, Sirius tightened more and more grip, so much that the wand warmed up, as if it was trying to show him it was in danger of breaking. He was strongly gritting his teeth and his grey eyes seemed able of withering anything they fixed on. But they were glued to Snape's dark eyes, in which you could clearly see the pleasure that he was taking in what he said; savouring the words, enjoying the effect they caused in his interlocutor.
Snape had perfectly known what to say. He had verbalized everything Sirius had feared when he understood that his brother wasn't like him, but like his parents. Dishonoring the family, not being a Black, he couldn't care less. But Regulus was something different. Even if he told himself he didn't love him, even if he despised him in front of other people, he did love him.
"Shut your mouth, Snivellus. You don't know what you're talking about." His voice had lost all trace of sarcasm, and Snape's smile widened when he proved he had achieved his aim.
"Sirius?" Bree's voice seemed out of place, but it got Sirius to unglue his eyes from Snape and look at the place where it was coming from. Brianna was standing at the bottom of the stairs, and her large blue eyes expressed concern. Sirius loosened his hand a bit staring at her, but he was quickly back on his guard. However, Snape glanced at the girl and, thinking about it for a second, he turned around and left, with a satisfied smile still on his face.
"Are you okay?" asked Brianna, going up the stairs and brushing his hand with hers. Sirius tried to smile.
"Better than okay, Nana. Shall we go to the Common Room?"