Dirty Blood

Chapter 40

A/N: Forty chapters! This is the point in the story where I go "I did not mean for this story to be this long," but here we are. Thank you guys for sticking around with me this long, I really appreciate it. Once again, if you enjoy yourself, please let me know what you think!

ForeverACharmedOne, Yeah, I think the main thing is that she is so invested in this friendship and no one wants to throw something like that away. / unicornhazel, Glad you liked the chapter! Really pleased to see that people are enjoying how I'm writing their friendship. / schak, we already talked so much on AO3 about this, but I definitely agree about the enabling bit. / Wild Columbine, friendship can definitely be that way, thank you for your review! / Guest, oh yes, canon events (aka Snape's Worst Memory) will play out. / Candie Marie, thank you for your review.

"Remus and Peter said we were being codependent."

Chapter Forty: Caught In The Middle

Friday night marked the first of Dorcas' detentions. She had received a notice to arrive at the potions classroom at seven o'clock, and she made her way there after dinner, head held high.

Slughorn wasn't there yet, having been in a spirited discussion with Flitwick when Dorcas had left the great hall. She took a seat at a table in the middle row, the same one she usually sat in during class, and wondered what exactly Slughorn would have her do.

Dorcas hadn't gotten detention a lot in her time at Hogwarts. She could count the number on one hand, and it was usually for telling someone off for something they had said or done. Most of the time she was required to write lines about adjusting her attitude, but she wasn't sure if that was the route Slughorn would take.

The hinges of the classroom door squeaked and Dorcas turned, expecting to see Professor Slughorn, but was surprised to see a cheerful James Potter instead.

"All right, Meadowes?" he grinned, strolling over to the table she was at and taking a seat as well.

"Er, I suppose, all things considered," she said. "Detention too?"

"Of course," James shrugged. "You're in for trying to hex Snivellus, yeah? Remus told me what happened."

"Yeah," Dorcas nodded. She was surprised when James held his hand up to her. She blinked, confused, before laughing slightly and slapping her palm to his. "What are you in for, then?"

"Successfully hexing Snivellus," James said. "Used a tripping jinx on him in class and he went headfirst into his potion."

"Oh so that's why he's had his hood up all day, what happened to him when he fell in the potion?" Dorcas said, amused.

"Oh his face is covered in boils. Promfrey expects they'll clear up over the weekend," James shrugged. "Then he tried to hex us outside class and Sirius made his eyebrows grow long enough that he couldn't see, so he's in detention with McGonagall now."

"You know, sometimes I think you guys are too harsh on him, but then some other times…" Dorcas said, trailing off, unsure how to finish. Did anyone deserve to be bullied? Well, no.

But after what Severus Snape had said and done? It was hard to find her sympathy. Was he not a bully, too?

"Some other times he's a complete wanker?" James provided. Dorcas hesitated slightly before nodding.

"Yeah, basically," she said. "What does Slughorn usually have you do for detention, then?"

"It's not that bad, we'll probably have to scrub some cauldrons and dust some shelves. He usually disappears into his office for most of it, so we usually do it with magic and make sure we're ready to pretend we've been working hard when he comes back," James said in hushed tones. It was a good thing he had lowered his voice, for moments later, the door opened again and Slughorn entered the room.

"Ah, yes, detention," Slughorn said, as though he had forgotten to expect them on his way there. "Right, right, in the cupboard over there you'll find the spare cauldrons, I want each of them scrubbed thoroughly. Use only the soap at the sink, everything else reacts to the trace amounts of potion badly. If you finish with that, you will dust the ingredients in this cupboard."

Slughorn shuffled through a drawer before producing two sets of gloves and a pair of feather dusters. Approaching the teenagers, he handed the items over. "No magic. Now, I will be in my office, grading, do try not to break anything."

"Yes, Professor," James and Dorcas said at once, making a show of pulling on the gloves and heading for the cupboard where the cauldrons were kept.

Once Slughorn seemed satisfied that they were hard at work with their punishment, he trudged off to another door and walked through. It had barely clicked shut before James set the cauldron he had begun scrubbing down.

"I don't know why they don't take our wands away when they insist no magic, really," he mumbled, pulling off the gloves.

"So, what spell do you use, then?" Dorcas said, curiously.

"It's a bit of transfiguration, a bit of a charm," James said, mumbling under his breath before tapping each glove with his wand. They seemed to stand on their fingertips before leaping across the sink where one grabbed a cauldron and the other grabbed the brush and began scrubbing. "There. Want me to do yours, then?"

"Sure," Dorcas said, pulling off her gloves as well. Soon, they had joined in, scrubbing the cauldrons vigorously. She giggled slightly. "It's like Thing, from the Addams Family."

"What's that?" James asked, seeming genuinely curious as he walked to the other cupboard they were meant to dust and pulled it open, wand at the ready.

"Oh, it's a muggle cartoon," Dorcas explained. "And a comic. It's about an odd family that are into everything spooky, and their butler looks like Frankenstein's monster—do you know Frankenstein?"

"Yeah, Remus had us watch the film," James nodded, quickly removing every speck of dust from within the cupboard with a flick of the wrist.

"Right, well, their Butler looks like that, and they have a disembodied hand named Thing that helps out around the house, and the daughter is always trying to kill the son, and—it doesn't sound as quirky as it is when I explain it," Dorcas said sheepishly.

"I'll take your word for its quirkiness," James smiled.

"Well, if you heard the theme song, maybe," Dorcas mused. "Dah-nuh-nuh-nuh!" She snapped her fingers twice. "Dah-nuh-nuh-nuh!" Two more snaps. "Dah-nuh-nuh-nuh! Dah-nuh-nuh-nuh! Dah-nuh-nuh-nuh!" Another two snaps.

James laughed slightly. "I'll have to ask Remus about it, I think he's reluctant to show us cartoons after we asked him a million questions about how muggles got drawings to move without magic."

"Well there's a live-action one, too, I watched more of the cartoon," Dorcas said. "So, er, what do you usually do, then, while waiting for Slughorn to dismiss you?"

James pulled a mirror from his pocket and held it up triumphantly.

"You… stare at yourself in the mirror?" Dorcas asked, cocking a brow.

Maybe Lily had been on to something when she said that James Potter's ego was unrivaled.

She shook her head of the thought of Lily.

"Sirius Black," James said to the mirror, and Dorcas leaned over his shoulder to see, surprised to find that the mirror had gone dark. James spoke again, this time in a whisper. "Psst. Sirius. Did McG leave you by yourself?"

The sound of a bit of shuffling around could be heard coming from the mirror before suddenly it was no longer dark, but a scene of another classroom. Sirius' face appeared a moment later as he adjusted his own mirror.

"She just left, took my wand so I couldn't magic the rest of these lines," Sirius said. "All right, Meadowes?"

"Yeah, but, wow, did you make these?" Dorcas said, eying the mirror in awe.

"Well, we charmed them," Sirius nodded, seeming to have propped his mirror up against something as he went back to his parchment. "Well, mostly I charmed them."

"I helped," James protested immediately. Sirius grinned.

"So, you've found a way to distract each other even when you're in different detentions," Dorcas said, shaking her head slightly. "Impressive, really."

"Well, I'm glad someone thinks so," Sirius said, eyes still on his parchment. "Remus and Peter said we were being codependent."

"No, but this is amazing! It's like a telephone, but better, it's like something out of the Jetsons or something," Dorcas said. James and Sirius both looked at her quizzically, and before they could ask, she added, "Muggle cartoon, takes place in the future."

"Oh," Sirius said. "I wish we went over more muggle media in muggle studies."

"Yeah, instead we have to learn all that from magazines or Remus," James sighed. "You're lucky you grew up around that stuff, Meadowes, I mean, toasters?"

Dorcas couldn't hide her surprise. "You really think so? I was so clueless coming here, I can't imagine growing up with flying broomsticks and self-stirring cauldrons like you guys did."

"I think ideally you'd be like Moony and grow up with a little of both," Sirius said.

"Yeah, Emmeline is like that, too," Dorcas nodded. "People still give her a hard time about being half-blood, though."

"Yeah, Remus too," James said. "It's all rubbish, and muggle studies should be required, really, we've all got to blend in at some point."

"Well that's nice to hear," Dorcas said. "Sometimes you forget that not everyone that grew up with wizard parents isn't… well, horrible."

"Oh, my parents certainly tried," Sirius said.

"My family's always known that pureblood supremacy is rubbish. My parents both being 'pureblood' was a coincidence, really. Not sure how Sirius turned out okay, honestly, maybe your parents cancelled each other out," James said thoughtfully. "I mean they're cousins, something was bound to go wrong."

"Your parents are cousins?" Dorcas said, cocking a brow.

"Toujours Pur," Sirius said mockingly. "Every pureblood family is related somehow, there's not a lot of options anymore. I think James and are like, fifth cousins four times removed or something."

"Something like that," James said.

"That's… a mess. No offense," Dorcas said.

"No, it is," Sirius grinned. "And for what it's worth, we think it's rubbish you got detention over what Snivellus said."

"I mean, I did try to hex him first," Dorcas said.

"But he called you… you know," James said. "Of course you tried to hex him."

"What spell did you use?" Sirius asked.

"Flipendo," Dorcas said, cringing slightly as James and Sirius groaned.

"That's first year stuff, Meadowes!" James said. "We'll have to put a list together for you."

"A list?" Dorcas said.

"Well, yeah, this isn't gonna be the first time someone is shitty to you, you should be able to properly turn their knees backwards if need be," Sirius said with a nod.

"Why is that a spell? Who sat down one day and went, 'ah, you know what spell the world needs?'" Dorcas said, glancing down at her own knees and cringing at the thought.

"I don't know, but it's hilarious to use," James laughed. "Oh, and we'll give you the one that will make every spell they cast just produce ducks."

"Bat-bogey hex is a classic," Sirius added. "We've got you covered, Meadowes."

Dorcas shook her head, though she couldn't help the smile. Marlene and Emmeline had assured her that they believed her but kept flitting between her and Lily, and barely brought the incident up to avoid further conflict. Dorcas understood, and she didn't want to force anyone to take sides.

She hadn't spoken to Lily at all since the incident.

But it was nice to talk to people that found humor in it, and seemed to genuinely want to help, if in morally questionable ways.

"Thank you two, really," she said.

It was Monday. Marlene settled herself down across from Emmeline at the Ravenclaw table, grabbing a sandwich from a platter as the brunette scribbled away at an essay that was due after lunch.

"Lily's not with you?" Emmeline said, eyes still fixed on her essay, still needing another three inches before she could call it done.

"She was going to try to corner Dorcas and talk to her but looks like she's already here," Marlene said, glancing toward the Hufflepuff table where Dorcas was eating with her roommates again. Emmeline glanced over her shoulder to see.

"Oh, I didn't realize. They let us out of Herbology a little early so I got here before the food did and remembered that I didn't finish McGonagall's essay," she said. She turned back to her parchment.

"I told Lily that the 'Marauders,' Filch, and the Hufflepuffs know all of the secret passageways and she wouldn't be able to track her down, but she was adamant about getting to talk with her," Marlene shrugged. "She's probably still looking."

"Hm," Emmeline said noncommittally, taking a drink from her goblet.

"I mean, honestly, if she's not going to apologize there's no point," Marlene mumbled taking a bite of her sandwich.

"Right?" Emmeline said, her tones hushed. "I don't know what the deal is, I know she's been friends with Severus forever and I can sympathize with that but she can't honestly still think he's a good person, can she?"

"I told her that! She insists that we don't know him like she does and he's really not all that bad when you get to know him," Marlene said with a roll of the eye. "I'm sorry but if I have to get through layers and layers of grease and contempt to see if you're a good person, it's not worth it."

"Besides, I mean, it's obvious that the only reason he's not as shitty to her as the other muggleborns is that he has a crush on her," Emmeline said, casting a short glance toward the Slytherin table where Severus, with a few small boils still left over from James' most recent prank, was deep in a discussion with some of his housemates.

"She doesn't think he has a crush on her, she says I'm being ridiculous every time I bring it up," Marlene said.

"Oh come on, even I realized he had a crush on her," Emmeline said, cocking a brow.

Marlene nodded, plucking an apple from a bowl of fruit. "I know. But she figures that since she thinks of him as a brother, obviously he thinks of her as a sister. Nothing I tell her convinces her otherwise."

"I just don't get how you can willfully ignore so much about one person," Emmeline said.

"Denial is a hell of a drug, remember when Max dated Jessica, also known as the worst person to ever exist? We all told him that she was the absolute worst for two years before he walked in on her snogging his best friend and couldn't ignore how terrible she was anymore," Marlene said. "I just don't know what it'll take for Lily to realize that about Severus."

"You're gonna have to snog him," Emmeline nodded. "Take one for the team, Marly."

Marlene gagged. Emmeline giggled.

"I'm trying to eat, Em," Marlene said.

"Right, right, sorry. Really, though, I don't know what has to happen. He already mostly ignores her around his housemates, he's obviously some degree of embarrassed about her," Emmeline said. She was twirling her quill between her fingers, her essay forgotten for now.

"They've gotten into a bunch of arguments about his friends, I don't know why she hasn't figured out he's just like them," Marlene said. "Except, you know, like I said, denial."

"Well, I hope she figures it out because it's weird having half the group not talking to each other because of Severus goddamn Snape," Emmeline said.

"I know it's so—" Marlene started before Emmeline suddenly cleared her throat very loudly.

Marlene cocked a brow and then turned to find Lily eying them curiously as she took a seat.

"You, uh, you were right, Dorcas slipped away from me before I had a chance to do anything," Lily said, eyes darting between Marlene and Emmeline. Marlene had taken a very large bite of her sandwich and Emmeline was hastily writing out another line to her essay. "Did I interrupt something?"

"Hm?" Marlene said innocently, still chewing. Emmeline shook her head.

Lily frowned. "Really? Because you seemed to be talking about something before I sat down, you shouldn't stop on my account."

Emmeline kept her eyes fixed on her essay, scratching out a word that she had misspelled far more thoroughly than she needed to. Marlene shrugged, finally swallowing her food.

"Nothing you don't already know," the blonde said simply.

"Do tell," Lily said, her plate still empty and her frown still fixed.

Emmeline met Marlene's gaze only briefly before looking back to her essay, very carefully re-writing the word she had just crossed out.

"Emmeline and I both," Marlene said with emphasis, nodding toward the Ravenclaw, who was clearly determined not to actually voice any of this to Lily, "Think it's very silly for you and Dorcas to stop talking over Severus."

"I've been trying to talk to her," Lily said at once. "She's the one that won't talk to me!"

"Yeah, because you keep making excuses for him," Emmeline said under her breath.

"Right, exactly," Marlene nodded. "How would you feel if someone called you the M-Word and we kept telling you, 'oh well maybe you misheard, I bet he didn't mean it'?"

"I thought you weren't taking sides," Lily mumbled, arms crossed.

"We're trying not to, but—" Emmeline started.

"You know, I'm not hungry," Lily said, standing up from the table. "See you later."

Emmeline and Marlene watched as Lily dashed out of the Great Hall, head forcibly held high as she went.

"Well, are we not talking to her now?" Emmeline asked.

"I don't know, I guess we'll see if she sits with us at dinner," Marlene sighed. "If she keeps this up, though, Severus is going to be her only 'friend' left."

It was early Wednesday morning when James woke Sirius and Peter and they approached Remus' bed, gently pulling back the curtains to reveal their friend curled beneath his blankets, deeply asleep.

At the count of three, they each yanked the side of the mattress upward, sending Remus spiraling to the floor, flailing in confusion as soon as he awoke.

"Oh, it's the birthday git!" Peter sang.

"He's looking rather fit!" James added.

"Too bad he's so ancient!" belted Sirius.

"Iiiiiiiit's the birthday git!" they all finished as Remus pulled himself and his blankets back atop the bed.

"I can't believe I forgot you idiots were going to do that," he said, rubbing his eyes and yawning hugely.

"That's part of the fun," James grinned.

"Fun for you guys maybe," Remus said with a roll of the eye.

"You had no objections when it was me being flung off my bed in November," Sirius pointed out.

Remus shrugged. "I was younger then; I was stupid. I did not consider that my birthday was next up."

"Soon, you too will gain the wisdom that comes with being the ripe old age of sixteen," Sirius said dramatically as he, James, and Peter went off to fetch their gifts for the boy.

"Ah yes, perhaps one day I will even be as wise as you, Padfoot," Remus smirked, stretching his arms above his head as he yawned again. Three wrapped gifts were dropped unceremoniously before Remus, leading him to at least hope they weren't anything breakable. He reached for James' gift first, tearing at the paper to reveal a book of advanced defensive spells.

"Wow, look at all this," Remus said, flipping through the pages, many of which had some gruesome diagrams.

"Apparently it's popular among Aurors in training," James said.

"Thank you," Remus said, still turning the pages. "Wow, this Patronus section has got to be fifty pages long! I wish we weren't in the middle of O.W.L.s, I'd have more time to really sit and read it."

"You make time for comics, you can make time for this," James shrugged.

Remus smiled sheepishly, finally setting the book aside. "I suppose that's true. It doesn't take very long to read a comic, though."

"It does when you come back here with a stack of them," Sirius said.

"Open mine, Moony," Peter said, bouncing on his heels slightly.

Remus took the gift with far sloppier wrapping and tore it open, revealing a comically large block of chocolate, with a note proclaiming that it was for the next full moon. "Thanks, Pete, I think this will actually last me the next five full moons, actually."

"I'm betting it will last two at the most," Peter countered, grinning.

James nodded. "You go through a lot of chocolate post-transforming, Moony."

"It'll last at least three, this is huge!" Remus said, testing the weight of the chocolate in his hands. "I guess it depends on how bad I feel."

"Then it'll last one full moon," Sirius said. Remus rolled his eyes, grabbing for the last gift, this one from Sirius. Unwrapping the paper revealed a plain white box, with "Madam Malkin's Robes for All Occasions" stamped on the top.

"New robes? How'd you know my size?" Remus said, opening the box and checking the tag.

"You're in the hospital wing every month, it wasn't hard to pluck one of your robes from the laundry," Sirius said. "Yours look like they're going to fall apart if you look at them wrong."

"Well, I got them second-hand in the first place," Remus said, sheepishly, running his hands over the new robes, the black much richer than the faded fabric on his old ones, the stitching much stronger.

"Well, now you've got new ones," Sirius nodded.

Remus smiled. "Thanks, Mate, I appreciate it." He reached into the pocket and his brow furrowed, feeling a package inside. He pulled it out to reveal a pack of cigarettes. He snorted. "There's the Sirius gift I expected."

Sirius grinned. "You're welcome."

Care of Magical Creatures would be back inside the usual classroom today, and the students would endure a lecture on the proper dietary habits of the unicorn, which they were repeatedly told would certainly be on the O.W.L.s.

Dorcas was not much looking forward to it, but she was not much looking forward to most of the classes she had with Lily anymore. It was so odd how such a short while ago, sitting with the other girl made certain classes far more bearable.

Now Lily just reminded the Hufflepuff of Severus Snape.

He was in that class too, he and all of his future-Death Eater pals.

This class used to be fun, regardless of who was in it. She got to learn about animals, sometimes even play with them! With some of her best friends!

Now it felt like a chore.

"Meadowes! There's our favorite Hufflepuff," James Potter said cheerfully, throwing an arm over Dorcas' shoulder. She wasn't sure where exactly he had come from, but Peter and Remus were close behind, heading for Care of Magical Creatures as well.

(Sirius had Ancient Runes during this hour, which meant that soon enough Emmeline would be trying to focus on her notes rather than his hair).

"I'm your favorite of all the Hufflepuffs, hm?" Dorcas said with a smile.

"Of course! Who else?" James said, handing her a folded piece of parchment.

Cocking a brow, Dorcas unfolded it and found a list of spells, along with brief wand movement descriptions and notes on what the spell did. "What are these?"

"We told you that we would get you some better spells than 'Flipendo,' didn't we?" James said.

Right! During detention! "Oh! I had forgotten! Well, thank you, I'll be sure to study these. The handwriting is awfully nice, who wrote it out?"

"Sirius did, his handwriting is almost unnervingly neat," Remus said with a short nod.

"Huh," Dorcas said, glancing from the parchment to Remus. "Are those new robes?"

"Oh, uh, yes," Remus said with a slight smile. "Birthday gift."

"Happy Birthday," Dorcas said.

"Thank you," said Remus. "Also, uh, use those spell with discretion."

"So you mean I shouldn't make Severus Snape, uh," Dorcas referenced the list again, "Inflate like a balloon just because I feel like it?"

"You absolutely should do that one," James said immediately.

"Although we're hoping to use it when the ice has thawed on the lake to see if he'll float," Peter said with a nod. Dorcas snorted.

"That's—that's very rude," she said, unable to hide her amusement in the least.

"He's very rude," James shrugged. His hand went to his hair and he ruffled the mess of strands a bit before calling ahead, "All right, Evans?"

Dorcas' smile faded from her face as she glanced ahead. Lily barely cast a glance back at the group before sighing and heading into the classroom behind Marlene.

"Can I sit with you lot today?" Dorcas asked at once. She had been sitting in the front corner since she and Lily had stopped talking.

"Sure," Remus said.

"Although," James said, "You'll never fill the Sirius-shaped hole in our hearts that we feel whenever we have a class without him."

Dorcas found herself smiling again. "Oh, I don't intend to try."

His friends had insisted that no one would notice if he skipped out on patrols that night. It was his birthday! He hated patrol! Just ditch this one time!

But Remus missed enough patrol with his condition, making excuse after excuse to Frank every time that part of the lunar cycle returned. For now he was just glad that Emma Vanity hadn't decided to confront him about it, because he doubted his usual excuses would work on her.

So, he straightened his prefect's badge on his new robes and headed out to the deserted corridors, already bored as soon as he set foot there. Maybe if he was lucky, Peeves would do something tonight, spice things up a bit.

Remus sighed heavily, taking a seat on a nearby windowsill and glancing up at the moon, half illuminated and behind thin clouds. He had less than a week before his next transformation, and it felt as though he had only just recovered from the last one. Why did the rest of the month have to go so quickly?

His usual lamenting over the moon was interrupted by an echoing voice from down the corridor, soft and delicate.

"Sweetheart I have grown so lonely, living thus away from you. For I love you and you only, still I wonder if you're true."

He had just sat down, did someone really have to be out of bed right now?

As though pulling himself out of bed on an early morning, Remus forced himself reluctantly to stand upright. He stuck his hands in his pockets and trudged in the direction that the voice seemed to be coming from.

"I regret the harsh words spoken, that I know I've caused you pain. And my heart is nearly broken, say you love me once again."

The closer he got, the clearer the voice became. He didn't need to report this person at all, for if he weren't mistaken, it belonged to one specific prefect. His heart jumped into his throat as he turned the corner to find Emmeline with sheet music in hand, posture perfect as she absentmindedly walked, eyes fixed on the notes.

"Absence makes the heart grow fonder, that is why I long for you," she continued, having not noticed him yet. "Lonely through the night I ponder, wondering, darling, if you're true."

Her voice was very pleasing to the ear, and there was a longing that breathed life into each word, forcing empathy in anyone that happened to hear, and Remus was no exception. It was easy to see why she had gotten a solo once again.

"Distance only lends enchantment, though the—oh! Remus! H-how long have you been there?" Emmeline said suddenly, looking up from her sheet music. She had turned to avoid walking straight into a wall, causing the boy to land right in her line of vision.

"Not too long, rehearsing?" Remus said, forcing a nervous smile.

"Yeah, well, there's nothing else to do during patrols," Emmeline sighed.

"Well, you sounded nice," he said.

"Thank you," she said with a nervous smile.

"What song is it?"

"Absence Makes The Heart Grow Fonder, it's an old, old muggle song. I think a few parents have actually complained to Flitwick about the muggle music in the programs but he won't budge, so," Emmeline said with a bit of a shrug. "It's short, at least, shorter than my Christmas solo."

"Well, you should be able to handle any song by this point, hm, Killer Queen?" Remus said.

She smiled. "I would hope. Oh, and, it's your birthday, isn't it? Happy Birthday."

"Thanks," Remus said, feeling heat creep up his neck at the fact that she would remember that. How did she know? When had it even come up?

When was her birthday? Should he know? James knew Lily's birthday, but he also knew Lily's middle name and favorite flavor of jam and none of the others were really clear on how he had learned that, but they suspected that the invisibility cloak had something to do with it.

"Anything planned?" Emmeline asked.

"Well, I mean, my parents sent me a card and a few galleons, the guys gave me a few gifts, that's good enough for me," Remus said. The fact that he had friends that remembered and cared enough to actually get him something still boggled his mind sometimes. "Can't do much else during classes anyway."

Emmeline nodded. "My birthday is right after Christmas, so it always gets a little overshadowed by that, but at least I never have class."

"Well, happy… three-months-late birthday," Remus said with yet another nervous smile.

Sometimes he longed for the days when being around and talking to Emmeline didn't make his heart race the way it did.

"Thank you," she laughed slightly. She folded her sheet music and set it into the inner pocket of her robes.

"Oh, if you want me to get lost so you can rehearse some more—" Remus started, feeling the heat rush to his face again as he wondered if perhaps his presence had thrown off her entire plan for the night.

She shook her head. "Oh, no, I've rehearsed enough, you're fine."

"Oh, good," Remus said.

"Actually, I know this is off-topic, but have you talked to Lily recently?"

"Not really, why?" Remus asked, cocking a brow.

Emmeline frowned. "She hasn't said much to Marlene and I the last few days. She'll sit with us at dinner but it's mostly me and Marlene talking."

"Is it still the whole thing with Snape and Dorcas?" Remus asked.

"Yeah, and I mean, Marlene and I are trying not to take one side or the other but when one side has someone calling your friend a you-know-what, it's kind of hard," Emmeline said, shaking her head a bit. "I don't know, I don't know what to do with it."

Remus shrugged. "Yeah, I don't know. I got really mad at Sirius last year and James and Peter just declared themselves Switzerland and didn't really talk to either of us until we sorted it out."

It occurred to Remus that Severus Snape had been involved in that argument as well, as Sirius had sent the boy through the passage under the Whomping Willow.

He briefly wondered if maybe their time at Hogwarts would be less stressful without Severus Snape around. Would James and Sirius be in detention any less, or would they simply pick a new target?

He made a mental note not to mention this to James, or the boy's new goal would be to get Snape expelled somehow. With Snape already praying for James' expulsion, he could only imagine what would happen if they were both actively trying to get the other kicked out.

"I don't know if they will sort it out," Emmeline said. "I hope they do. I mean, I like our group, Merlin knows I'd have a hard time finding a new one."