Sirius Black was having trouble getting to Kings Cross that morning, buses had been delayed, trains cancelled and he actually want to curse all muggle transportation finding his feet almost glued to the edge of platform 4 peering up the long dark tunnel for his second tube of the day after the Jubilee line was shut down. He was becoming increasingly attracted to the idea of just apparating to Kings Cross. But the growing fear amongst the wizarding community that Snappers (wizards and witches who could intercept you when apparating) were operating with more skill and accuracy put Sirius off the idea a second after the thought had floated through his mind.
He was prime wizard material (and Snappers would love to catch him, deliver him back to the Dark Side) but now he had left the most ancient and noble house of Black behind him Sirius was living alone in London in a flat just around the corner from Holland Park. The location was perfect for Sirius he was able to access a wealth of muggle culture and the area was a well-known and protected area of London and the week he moved into the flat a huge Carnival was taking place at Notting Hill descending all the way down the road to Holland Park, Sirius had a great view from his bedroom window and had wasted no time joining the party in the street below.
The wind was shrieking and rail tracks were grinding with every train that sidled up to the platform then took off and flew into the deep dark tunnels of the London Underground, the tube shrieked, whooshing along it sidled to a stop and the doors awkwardly opened. Sirius jumped on squeezing between the dozens of muggles behind the now closing train doors. He noticed a very pretty blonde haired muggle in an orange pinafore eyeing him hopefully but when he smiled at her it was too much and she looked away embarrassed he had caught her staring.
Sirius was glad to be back to the familiar sights and sounds of platform 9 ¾ and searching the platform his eyes found his best friend sitting on a bench at the end of the platform.
'Prongs, you look like your miles away mate,' and Sirius shrugged his bag down onto the floor James looked startled
'Hey Padders,' James replied trying to sound enthusiastic as Sirius sat down 'I wasn't that far away actually,' and his eyes were floating to the carriage doorway halfway up the train where Lily Evans was hugging goodbye her parents, she looked more upset than usual (she always got emotional when she left her parents, he had noticed that in her first and second year).
'Has Lily spoken to you since end of last year, like at all and I mean about what you did, Prongs?' Sirius inquired, adding emphasis.
'Not in any particular fashion no. What do I say? Hey, I kissed you in front of my girlfriend – shall we get together?' James said mockingly, he sighed in frustration
'Prongs you have got to talk to her. You need to sort this out, for you Lily Evans was in your head far longer than our dear little Owly,' he said referring to the little nickname he had given James now ex-girlfriend.
'Are you suggesting I talk to Paige or Lily there Padfoot?' James said a puzzled look on his face.
'Both?' Sirius surmised 'mate, I've got enough trouble with one witch. You went and made it worse by getting involved with two,'
'Lily and I – we weren't that involved '
'Not from where our little Owly was standing Prongs,' Sirius pointed out a slight but unobtrusive smirk twitching at the corners of his mouth, then sensing James seemed distant he adjusted his tone. 'Are you okay? How are things at home?'
'Not good to be honest. No, because everything, Sirius, everything- its fucking up with my head, man,' James ran his fingers through his hair 'do you know dad had another go at me last night. He's getting worse,'
Sirius was only acutely aware of the pressure Monty Potter had been placing upon James but he really thought James had a handle on it, the letters they had exchanged and the number of times they had seen each other over summer James had not mentioned his father getting worse. Until now.
'Is there nothing the Healers can do? You know take him down to St Mungos?'
'There isn't a cure Sirius, he's just getting worse. I didn't want to burden you with this, it's not a battle that can be shared,' James explained, his tone exasperated and Sirius looked intently at his friend.
'James, you're my best friend. If this is doing your head in I will do as much as I can you know I will to help, but what can we do, you might first consider the problems closer to you right now, if you know what I mean,'
'Padfoot I don't know where to start with Lily or Paige,' James said sighing
'I think you should start by dealing with what you can, talk with Lily. She's probably just as confused as you are mate, Owly- she's not your problem anymore. Lily on the other hand' and Sirius watched as Lily Evans mane of red hair appeared again at the doorway of the carriage hugging one of her friends on the platform. 'She has always been a problem to you,'
'After what happened last year I don't even know if Lily will really want anything to do with me, I was a bit of a dick and Paige really hates me' James said honestly thinking about the two witches who were currently occupying his thoughts.
'If Lily is Lily, Prongs- I think she will want everything to do with you, remember she was there too.' Sirius said candidly 'what you had with Owly was great, she won't hate you for too long I don't think she has it in her mate – Owly was a passable Marauder almost but she was never going to be like Lily, Lily is your kind of special Prongs, anyone can see that even if it might've taken her a lot longer than you to wake up about it'
James would normally have replied with a comment, witty remark but instead said nothing. Although his eyes were still on Lily who was being hugged very enthusiastically by her friend.
He eventually did reply
'You make it sound like I'm obsessed with her,'
Sirius followed his friend's gaze
'You wanna repeat that,' Sirius said sarcastically attempting to playfully push him from the bench.
'How would you start that conversation' James asked, coming back down to earth with a little bump. They started to move towards the train Sirius pulling his rucksack over his shoulders and James pushing his trolley towards the guard van.
'You know I'm always here for you, Prongs, but solve Lily Evans. That I can't do for you'
Sirius grabbed his jacket from his bag and slung it around his shoulders, the denim jacket was now adorned with more muggle bands stitched across the back than before. He saw Lily across the platform talking with his girlfriend EJ Jackson. Sirius hadn't spoken to EJ in about a week after a rather peculiar argument exchanged through a very short series of letters she hadn't seen him in a week and for Sirius the lack of presence from his Irish girlfriend had proven tough.
'She looks different Prongs maybe your little interlude with her did her some good'
James rolled his eyes
'Really, Padfoot? We did nothing more than what you saw,' he reiterated 'and that was, well, that was bad enough,'
'If you had doubts about your little Owl' Sirius began
'I didn't have doubts, I was not thinking straight and neither was Lily,' James implored trying desperately to defend his actions but Sirius appeared to be having none of it
'Prongs, I will tell you one last time. You wanna get on with your life, talk to the witch or I will hex you myself. Your dad- everything you're going through- start with the thing you can deal with. And that happens to be standing about five feet away from you and holy shit-'
Lily's voice sounded strange, pitched higher, strangled even, she had tapped him on the shoulder and was standing alone.
'Hi, um,' James spun around and managed a rather meek 'how are you?'
'Fine, fine. Cocker hoop even,' Lily said grinning nervously, she noticed he wasn't wearing the Head Boy badge she had been told about in her letter. It had confirmed that she and James would lead the team of Hogwarts Prefects and were to act as Guardians in the absence of the teachers should the need ever arise. She was surprised to see he had not boasted already about it to Sirius who was his usual, full of the alarming positivity he possessed.
'Do you like?' Sirius said shimmying the jacket around his shoulders. He made Lily smile, secretly she enjoyed the company of Sirius Black more than she would ever let on.
James eyes looked over the studded lapels of the famous "Black Jacket". James often felt great disbelief that his friend was ever born a pureblood muggle hater when he looked at the names on the badges 'Motorhead' and 'Black Sabbath' and the cheeky nod to the Bay City Rollers no doubt stitched on by his on/off girlfriend, EJ Jackson, on the right shoulder of the jacket.
'And how many times has that ever seen a washing machine?' Lily commented sceptically looking over the faded denim
'Dunno Lily, we have house elves for that. I'm not completely against all of my family traditions, but I'm not going to head hunt any in the near future. Promise' He added grinning making a pretend a salute of honour with his right hand. Lily had a soft spot for the house elves at Hogwarts and felt there was a great injustice particularly when wizards could achieve all their tasks in half the time it would take the house elves.
'How was your summer?' Lily ventured her attention swivelling back on James
'Not bad,' James lied, he could feel her eyes on him 'how was yours?'
'Good, actually,' Lily said curtly 'I will see you on the train, say 11:30?'
'Sounds okay. See you then,' James said giving a slight nod in confirmation.
'Hang on, why,' Sirius interjected spying a little gold and claret badge pinned to the front of Lily's school robes. 'What's going on,'
'I'll tell you on the train Padfoot, come on let's find a compartment. I'll see you Lily,' James added pushing Sirius onto the train, wanting to depart from her company as quick as he could. Was she watching him, or was he watching her?
Lily looked after him, she couldn't decide whether that went well or was just plain awkward and walked back on to the train away from Sirius and James who had wandered to the guard van in the opposite direction. How was she supposed to feel about James Potter, she couldn't make her mind up? Was what they shared never going to be talked about, because for Lily it was all she wanted to talk to him about.
But at least he had spoken to her rather than deliberately walking in the opposite direction every time he saw her like at the end of last year after their kiss.