Long Live (Marauders: Year One)

It's James Potter's first year at Hogwarts and he's got pretty high expectations! Good thing they're not disappointing. He's got wonderful friends, his classes are the literal bomb and Lily Evans is totally in love with him. Okay, so maybe the last one is a lie, but surely one day she'll at least pay attention to him! His friends think he's nuts. But then again, they would. That's why he loves them.
((Part one of a series depicting the life of the Marauders as they go through their lives at Hogwarts, all while the start of the first wizarding war looms nearer))

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5. A Midnight Stroll

It seemed that when there were no classes and no homework to occupy their time, days seemed to fly by even faster for James. In fact, he was surprised to have realized that by simply lounging around it seemed as though he could speed up time by nearly twofold, voicing this much to the amusement of Remus, who said that if he enjoyed lessons this much then it wouldn't feel as though they were droning on. To this, James scoffed.
"I can't just like lessons" he said. "It takes away from my image."
"Which is?" Peter popped his head up from the game of exploding snap he and Sirius were playing. "I always thought it was to get on people's nerves."
"Oi, shut it!" James scowled playfully. "We can all agree that your image is just dirt."
Sirius snorted loudly. "If he's dirt then you're garbage, James."
James put his hand up in mock surrender, planting on a hurt face. "I'm feeling so attacked right now, how could you do this to me?"
"Yeah, because you're so innocent." Remus muttered dryly, then lowered his voice. "Wasn't it you who suggested sneaking out at night?"
"Only because you mentioned Lily was!" The group's eyes turned to the mentioned girl, whose fiery head was bent down over an astronomy essay- one that James could proudly say he'd already done. Granted, he'd copied off of Sirius and Remus- the former being surprisingly good at the subject and the latter being good at most subjects anyways, sans potions. Well, they were alldreadful at potions.

"So, what is the plan for when we sneak out?" Peter said, a little too loudly. Cringing at the harsh glares of the other boys, he looked around to make sure nobody had said anything. "Sorry!"
There was a sudden large boom, signalling Sirius' victory at their card game. He stood up quite abruptly, a tall figure for his age, and winked at the group.
"I'm going to head upstairs for a minute." he said, loudly. "Care to join me?"
Realizing what his friend was doing, James nodded and stood up too. The other two followed him, and soon they were practically racing upstairs to their dormitory.

"Okay! Plan of action!" Sirius said when they arrived, flopping on his bed unceremoniously. "Lily's most likely going to head out tonight- she's been doing it for the past few days. When she does, one of us will sound the alarm and someone, preferably you, Peter- sorry but you're not very noticeable- will grab James' cloak. Then we follow her and work out what she's been doing."
"I've been thinking…" Remus said, suddenly. "Why don't we go get the thing, you know the one for our prank of Snape, while we're out?"
James nodded. "That's a good idea! If she's visiting where I think she's visiting, we'll be close to the potions storage closet anyways."
Sirius frowned. "Where you think-"
"Doesn't matter!" James said a little too quickly, giving a wink at his friend, which read easily as 'You'll find out soon enough'.

"I was wondering…" Peter said, after a short pause. "How do you know that Lily's been sneaking out?"
Sirius shrugged as if it wasn't a very big deal. "Guess I'm just observant." There was another pause as the others gazed at him. "Oh, don't look at me like that. I don't like her or anything!" he made a gagging motion.
"Good." James said, in a tone that made it clear that he wouldn't have appreciated that. "Though…" he smiled mischievously and sat down next to Sirius, waggling his eyebrows cheekily. "Who doyou like, Sirius?"
Sirius flushed brightly and looked away from James and the other two, focusing on a spot on the floor. "Nobody!"
"Hmmm…." James said, leaning in even closer. "Not even one girl?"
"No girl."
"You know," Remus began, a similar sly look on his face. "You go all posh when you're flustered."
"Oi, shut up!"

It was a while later when dinnertime rolled around, and the boys found themselves quite late- having spent a good few hours roaming the castle and attempting to find one of the many secret passageways that they were sure littered the castle. Unsurprisingly, it was to no avail, and the four were beginning to get a little tired and very hungry.
"We need a map or something!" Peter sighed in exasperation as they made their way up a staircase in an unfamiliar part of the castle. "Then I'd never be late for transfiguration."
"You'd always be late for transfiguration." James smirked. "You hate that subject."

However, their conversation was soon cut short by a snarl coming from the end of the corridor. Exchanging glances, the four cautiously made their way down the hall and peered over the corner, attempting to see what was going on.
At first they could hardly see, they had all got in one another's way and it was impossible to see through a face full of Sirius' thick, dark hair. Then, after a moment of scuffling around, they managed to reach a balance and were able to see what was going.
A prefect with long platinum hair tied into a ponytail was leaning over someone, a girl whom James could not see yet. His robes draped about him in a haphazard way and the way he was talking sounded as if he was rather annoyed. Around him, two other students- both Slytherin- stood, one short and thick, his arms crossed and an irritated look on his bulldog-like face. The other boy was his opposite, tall and thin with dark skin and surprisingly light hair. However, like the other two, this boy had a look of annoyance and disgust about him.
"I'm just asking you-" the blonde boy spoke again, his voice high and clear and somehow familiar. When he felt Peter stiffen up next to him, James realized- though Sirius bet him to it.
"Lucius Malfoy." he breathed. Peter and James didn't say anything, however Remus looked at the taller boy in confusion.
"Oh, right. He was the one who was harassing Peter on the train." Sirius said in a low voice, eyes still glued on the boy and trying to get a look at the girl.

"-be friends with a mudblood like you." Malfoy finished, crossing his arms as if awaiting a response. James frowned at the term. It was an awfully derogatory way of naming muggle borns, whom people like Lucius apparently abhorred. Obviously they had run into the wrong crowd.
However, James' train of thought was cut off quickly by a flash of bright red hair and his mouth nearly fell open. If the flash of red wasn't enough, the moment the girl opened her mouth he identified her- he'd know that voice anywhere.
It was Lily Evans.

"I'll have you know Sev wants to be friends with me, I haven't done anything." she said darkly, giving Malfoy a look of such contempt that James wanted to whoop. "Now if you'll leave me be-"
"Not so fast." Malfoy said grabbing her arm as she tried to brush past. "I'll need to ask you to answer me properly."
"You're hurting me!"

"Hey!" James couldn't help it anymore, marching forwards until he met Malfoy's eyes. The taller boy frowned, his stony face betrayed no emotion. Still, James knew what he had done would work- the boy wasn't going to do anything with a larger crowd. The other three had followed James, and now Malfoy and his friends were facing an audience of four- they wouldn't risk it. "What's going on?"

Malfoy dropped Lily's arm and scowled. "Just talking to this young lady, none of a first year's business."
"She's our friend, it is our business." Sirius pointed, nearly choking at the word 'friend'. Lily herself looked disgusted as well.
"Ten points from Gryffindor for disrespect. I hope you learn, or it'll be more later on." Malfoy snarled, giving them a pointed glance before brushing on with his two companions flanking him.

There was a brief pause before they all bust into conversation, James and Lily speaking at the exact same time.
"What were you doing?"
"What happened?"
Lily wasn't looking mad at him, for once, but her jade eyes were still frowning, looking at him in something that was a mix of confusion and irritation.
"You first." James said.

"Fine." she sighed and began to walk. "Come on, we'll be late for dinner."
James quickened his pace to match hers, the other three following them- par Remus' instruction a little slower- probably to give them room. James smiled at that.
"If you must know, they cornered me about Sev, said I must have given him a potion or something for him to be my friend. They thought that there was no way that a muggle born like me could have been friends with someone like him."
James frowned at that. "That's stupid, there's nothing wrong with muggle borns at all! In fact, some of them are much smarter than the rest of us!"
Lily sighed. "That's what I've been saying! I- erm…" she cut off halfway, as if realizing what James had said. She gave him another mixed look, this one more curiosity and surprise, however. Then, masked gratitude.
"Thanks." She sighed begrudgingly.
James winked at her, causing her to scowl all over again and look away. "What were you doing, anyways?"

James gave a glance at the others, who walked a few feet behind them. "We were just mucking around, you know. Then we came across you and we intervened. Simple."
"Oh." She sounded surprised that it was that simple. "Well, erm, thanks again- then."
Lily frowned at James' eager face, rolling her eyes and beginning to make her way away from them- they had arrived at the Great Hall anyways. "It doesn't mean we're friends, though!" she called as she made her way to Mary, the girl she had been friends with since the first day.
"Wouldn't dream of it."

That night, Peter was hesitant.
"But you were doing so well with her! You could ruin it if she found out!" he said, looking at the other three anxiously.
"I wouldn't call that 'doing well', Peter." Sirius said. "She still hates his guts, just slightly less. Plus, when did you start becoming so invested in James and Lily?"
Peter flushed. "I just think they'd make a good couple."

Remus, who had been listening for quite a while. "It doesn't seem to matter whether they'd be the most romantic couple this earth has seen- and I doubt that- James seems dead set on it."
"Right, that." James leaned back in his chair, arms behind his neck. "A true mischief maker never goes back on his promises."
"Shh! There! She's going!"

Four pairs of heads turned to the left, slowly. Just as Sirius had said, Lily made her way quietly to the portrait hole, glancing to make sure that nobody was looking and then slipping out- unnoticed in her eyes.
"Okay, Peter, grab the cloak! Let's sort this out!"

With a reluctant sigh, Peter stood and scampered upstairs. It only took a moment before he raced down again, cloak in hand and a guilty look on his face.
Sirius stood up, taking in the room. The common room was fairly empty, just them, a dozing fourth year and a pair of sixth years engaged in trivial conversation. Other than them, sneaking out would be easy.

And so they did, sniggering as they made their way out onto the corridor and down the stairs, slipping the cloak on as they did.
"Woah." Remus muttered as he examined them. "What kind of magic goes into this?"
"Who cares, you nerd." Sirius teased, pulling a face at his friend. "The real question is where did Lily go? I think we should try the left."

And so they did. And then the right. And then the left again. But it was to no avail, unfortunately. Lily could simply not be found, no matter how much they tried to look for her. Irritated and slightly tired, they slowly began to trudge their way up the stairs that lead to their Defence against the Dark Arts classroom, making sure to be quiet so that the portraits wouldn't hear them. They had passed one or two ghosts on their way up, much to Peter's absolute horror and Sirius' enjoyment.
"I told you it was a bad idea." Peter said as they made their way up. "If Lily had fou- hold on, do you hear that?"

The others paused, listening. Sure enough, there was a slow murmur in one of the classrooms, as if somebody was speaking- but that was ridiculous, not at that time of night. They paused again. There it was.
Glancing at one another, the four made a unanimous decision to creep closer to the door, making sure to remain silent as they did.
"-not going to risk it." a very familiar voice was saying, though for the life of him James could not place who it was. "No, of course Dumbledore doesn't know!"
The boys exchanged glances at that one, and suddenly James felt a sense of dread. If this person was keeping something away from Dumbledore, it mustn't be good.
Another voice spoke, but it was too muffled to hear. Sirius tried to press his ear to the door in an attempt to gauge what was being said, but it was to no avail.
"Yes, I'll try- okay! Jeez, you don't need to be so pushy." The voice sounded irritated now, as if they knew what they were doing. "I'll get rid of them, promise."

At this, Sirius could not take any more. "Get rid of what? " he asked in a low whisper, turning to face the others.
"We… shouldn't jump to conclusions." Remus said, though his pale face looked even more so than usual and his eyes darted quickly to the door anxiously. "Perhaps it's ju-"

He was cut off by the door suddenly opening. Rooted to the spot, hardly daring to breathe, the boys stared, shocked at who it was who left the room. Sirius let out a low gasp, Peter stiffened beside him and Remus' eyes grew to twice their size. And James couldn't believe it.
It was Professor Andre.

Andre frowned, as if he knew someone was out there. James could hardly blink as the man's eyes scanned the area, hovering over where they were standing for a moment too long before letting out a sigh and marching away.

None of them dared say a word as he disappeared down the long corridor, but James knew they were wondering the same thing. Who was to be gotten rid of? Who was Andre talking to? What on earth was going on?

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