Dirty Blood

Chapter 45

A/N: Hey all, it's been a weird past week and I was having a really hard time sitting and working on/editing this, so we're a little late. I blame the moon. I did finish another drawing of the girls recently, though, if you want to head over to my art or HP tumblr to check that out.

schak, Glad you're a fan of Marlene, she' a lot of fun for me! And yeah, I knew people would not be super fond of Lily once I got to this part of the story but I do appreciate those that stick around to see what I do with it, because I am hoping to show growth from this. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts! - LocalDaydreamer, your review is so detailed and nice, thank you! I love adding little things as throwbacks or explanations to the main series, so it's great you're enjoying them too. I also appreciate that you understand what I'm trying to accomplish with my portrayal of them as teenagers, I know some people have enjoyed it and some have very much not, ha. Hopefully I'm doing the 70s justice! Thanks again for the review, look forward to hearing from you more. - JOwens2490, Thanks so much! And yeah, Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Killer Queen would work out okay, I think? Haha. - lala1224, thanks for your review! Yeah, Lily's having… a time right now, ha. - Sirius' Sweetheart, here's more! - abby, I think I've rated the story accurately, sexual content isn't all that goes into ratings. - Milk, hi again! I've been calling them Dorcames in my head, Jorcas is fun to say though. Thanks for dealing with mobile devices to leave me a review, much appreciated!

It was soothing in a way, listening to the pencil scratch the paper and watching something come out of nothing.

Chapter Forty-Five: Are You Happy?

On Sunday morning, for the first time in what felt like ages, Dorcas was sitting at the Gryffindor table.

She wasn't sitting with Marlene, Lily, and Emmeline, however. No, she and Lily still avoided each other's gaze when the redhead followed Marlene into the Great Hall.

Instead she was settled to one side of James, with Sirius on the other and Remus and Peter seated across. They all laughed at something Sirius was saying, and she seemed to fit in seamlessly with the boys.

Beneath the table, she and James were holding hands.

"What did you find out about the date?" Marlene asked Emmeline as soon as the Ravenclaw sat down. She had eaten dinner at the Hufflepuff table the night before to get filled in.

"Well, it's obvious, isn't it?" Emmeline said, nodding her head in the Marauders' direction. "They're an item now, it went really well."

"Okay but did they snog?" Marlene asked.

Lily groaned in protest. "Can we not? I just want to get through breakfast."

Emmeline and Marlene exchanged glances before Marlene sighed. "Fine."

As Lily glanced back down at her porridge, Marlene was subtly mouthing, "did they snog?" to Emmeline, who nodded. Marlene gave Emmeline a thumbs-up.

"Emmeline, how is everything going for you?" Lily said, obviously aware of these gestures and hoping to truly change the subject.

Emmeline leaned in a bit, her tones hushed. "I ran into Sirius, Remus, and Peter yesterday while James was out on his date. They joked a bit that I should fill in for James and Sirius said I was a better-looking alternative."

"And what did you say?" Marlene asked, intrigued.

"I don't even remember, I was so thrown off," Emmeline said with a dreamy sigh.

"Well, he thinks you're better-looking then Potter, so I suppose there's that," Lily shrugged. "I still think you could do loads better, Emmeline. Someone that can compliment you without it being a joke."

Emmeline's face fell slightly. "I… well, I suppose it was just a joke, wasn't it?"

"Let her have this, Lily," Marlene mumbled.

Lily frowned. "Oh, I didn't mean to—"

"No, no, you're right. It was more a joke about James than a compliment for me. For a while it was nice to think otherwise, though," Emmeline said, her excitement adequately deflated as she picked at her toast.

"You're very pretty, Emmeline, I'm sure lots of boys think so," Lily said.

"Thanks," Emmeline said, halfhearted, glancing back toward James and Dorcas briefly, envy in her blue eyes.

"There you are, why has tracking you down been such a chore lately?"

Suddenly Benjamin Burke was plopping down beside Marlene and pecking her cheek.

"'Ello," Marlene said, sounding bored.

"You don't have practice today, right?" the boy said. Marlene shook her head. "Well, great, why don't you come along with me? I've got an essay to finish, but—"

"Merlin," Marlene said. "Why do you want me to hang out with you while you do your homework?"

Benjamin was clearly taken aback. Lily and Emmeline exchanged uncomfortable glances.

"Well, I'm in my N.E.W.T.s year, I have a lot of work, but I mean, I'd still like to see my girlfriend," Benjamin said. "And I miss you, we haven't spent a lot of time together lately."

"You want to be together all the time, I have a life!" Marlene said. "I have friends and Quidditch and my own homework and—"

"So bring your homework along, I can help, I've taken those classes already!" Benjamin said.

"What time do we have to be at detention?" Lily mumbled to Emmeline, who was doing her best not to stare at the couple quarreling beside them.

The Ravenclaw winced. "Not for another forty-five minutes."

There was no escape route for the two that wasn't extremely obvious.

"You don't get it, you're so needy," Marlene said, shuddering as though the notion made her want to climb out of her own skin. "All you want to do is be around me and talk."

"Well sorry for wanting to talk to you?" Benjamin said, "Most girls are into that."

Marlene snorted. "Well maybe if you weren't so boring I wouldn't feel like I'm getting my teeth pulled the muggle way whenever we have a conversation anymore! I swear you used to have a personality!"

"Well, I swear you didn't used to be a bitch," Benjamin sneered.

More people were watching now. Only a few were at least eating their breakfast and pretending not to notice the obvious row going on.

"Well, shit, I guess we were both wrong," Marlene said with a sarcastically pleasant smile.

"I guess so," Benjamin said, standing up from his place at the table. "We're done."

"We've been done," Marlene said, waving to him condescendingly as he stormed off, those that had been eavesdropping immediately whispering among themselves.

Marlene violently stabbed at a sausage with her fork.

"You okay?" Lily said gently.

"Yeah," the blonde said. "I knew it was coming."

"I'm sorry," Emmeline said with a frown.

"Don't be," Marlene said, taking a bite. There was the sound of footsteps and suddenly Dorcas had arrived, taking the spot that Benjamin had just vacated and still very much not looking at Lily.

"Are you okay? That was… dramatic," Dorcas said.

"I'm good, go back to James," Marlene said, managing a smile.

"You're sure?" Dorcas said. Marlene nodded. "Okay."

Dorcas gave Marlene a brief hug and offered Emmeline a friendly wave before getting up and walking back to where the Marauders were continuing on with their conversation, as though nothing of interest had just happened.

Sirius, however, looked oddly satisfied.

Lily returned her focus to her breakfast, wondering if the morning could possibly get any more uncomfortable before the mail even arrived.

"Really though, if you want to go somewhere else and talk about it," Emmeline said to Marlene.

"There's nothing to talk about. I, well, I know it sounds bad, but I wanted him until I had him," Marlene said, still staring at her plate, a small frown fixed to her face. "That always seems to happen."

Detention today was to be served in Professor Binns' classroom, scrapping chewing gum from the bottom of each desk by hand, unassisted by magic. It was truly a disgusting task to take on, but at the very least they were indoors today, and it was not expected to take too terribly long.

"Why is some of this still sticky? Why?" Dorcas groaned in disgust as she eyed a string of gum that was attached to one of the ice scrapers they had been provided. She tugged the scraper helplessly, hoping to free it from the gum's grasp and failing miserably.

"It's blue, right? Must be Drooble's, that stuff never loses its flavor or its consistency," Sirius said, tapping his scraper on the edge of a bucket in his own attempt to get the gum off.

"I'm glad whoever pranked us a few months back didn't use Drooble's on our wands," James grumbled, moving on to a new desk, having cleared out the one he was working on.

"That's right, I forgot about that," Sirius sighed.

Lily and Emmeline, who were near the front while the others were closer to the back, exchanged knowing smiles before returning to their own gum-covered desks.

"Oh, did you ever figure out who did that?" Dorcas asked innocently.

"Not yet," James said.

It was odd to think that not so long ago, Dorcas and Lily were not only talking to each other, but fitting seamlessly into the group and snickering as they tied together shoe laces and stuck wands to the underside of tables with chewing gum just to play a joke on James, Sirius, and Peter.

Anymore, it felt like an entirely different lifetime.

It was only a few months.

"Potter, do you want to lose that hand?" Sirius said suddenly and the others turned to find James ready to stick a wad of gum in Sirius's hair. Sirius was pointing his scraper at the other boy in a threatening manner and James looked like he was trying not to laugh.

"Aw, take a joke, Pads," James said, reaching his hand forward still, leaving Sirius to lean so far back that he was practically lying on the floor.

"I will dismember you with this stupid scraper," Sirius said, waving the tool around for effect. James easily dodged the blows. "Don't test me!"

"Mr. Potter, do dispose of the chewing gum in the proper receptacle. Mr. Black, do refrain from threatening other students," Professor Binns said as he floated through the classroom door and back into the room, looking unsurprised by what was happening.

"It was self-defense!" Sirius protested. Binns didn't respond, going straight through the door to his office and disappearing from sight.

As Sirius was busy expressing this sentiment to Binns, James had taken the opportunity to reach forward yet again. Thankfully, Sirius noticed this and rolled away.

"I'll fucking end you if you keep trying to put that shit in my hair," Sirius warned "I know where you sleep, we've already made plans to replace you with Vance."

"Replace me with Vance!?"

"Will you idiots just get back to work so we can leave sooner?" Dorcas said, though she was smiling at the antics all the same.

"What, you don't want to spend all day crawling under desks with such great company?" James pouted.

"Even your company isn't great enough to make this enjoyable," Dorcas smiled.

James put a hand to his chest dramatically. "That hurts."

"Relationships are built on honestly," Dorcas giggled, returning to her own scraping.

Relationships, Lily shuddered slightly. So they really were a couple now. How nauseating. Holding hands, playful banter. Where did they get off?

But she couldn't say any of this without Marlene insisting she was jealous.

Lily was not jealous, she was angry if anything.

She wished she wasn't. She would tell herself over and over again that it was stupid to be so angry about this, so angry about Dorcas and Potter going out. Even if she and Dorcas were still talking to each other, what did it matter if she dated Potter? What Potter did was of no concern to Lily.

At least, that was what the logical part of her would insist. The emotional part would see them smiling and enjoying each other's company and get so, so upset. She couldn't stop it. She would try to shove it down deep into her chest and it would bubble up again soon enough.

She was so tired of being angry.

Class started the next week with little to note. Remus lost Gryffindor a few more points by arguing with MacPherson, as usual. James and Sirius exchanged quips under their breath in their classes, snickering to themselves as usual. Peter was always close behind, reminding them of their comedic genius, as usual.

Lily was nearly late to her class that immediately followed her free period after losing track of time, as usual.

Emmeline and Pam gave each other dirty looks as they passed in the corridors, a recent addition, but still usual by now.

Whispers followed Marlene regarding her dating life, as usual.

What was new and, depending on who you asked, quite annoying, was James Potter and Dorcas Meadowes strolling through the halls hand-in-hand, exchanging quick kisses before parting ways to separate classes, and silently passing notes to one another.

They seemed to fall into these roles quickly and quite easily.

Classes with James felt odd now, with the boy no longer throwing "charming" lines at Lily Evans when the opportunity presented itself. Her day felt oddly quiet, empty, and she found herself annoyed once again at the interruption to what she had come to find normal. Everything around her was changing and growing quieter and lonelier as time ticked by.

It was a Thursday during lunch when Dorcas found herself sitting quite still after finishing her food, staring fixed at one spot across the hall as Remus and Sirius tried to talk Peter out of getting a perm and James carefully scratched at a page of his sketchbook with several different pencils.

Dorcas had no idea why he had so many, but they had different numbers and letters on each, so she supposed they were for different things. They all looked like regular graphite pencils to her, but she didn't ask, not wanting to move her mouth. She had been surprised and delighted when James had asked to draw her, stating he mostly drew Sirius and Remus since Peter couldn't hold still for very long.

"We're telling you, as your friends, that getting a perm is not going to improve anything about you," Sirius said slowly, trying desperately to get Peter to understand this simple concept.

"Well I'm just saying, this guy can pull it off," Peter said, pointing to a photo in a magazine that he had brought as an example of his idea.

"You couldn't look less like this guy if you tried, Pete," Remus said.

"Well maybe not in the sense that—" Peter started.

"Not in any sense, don't get a perm," Sirius said. "Prongs, give him an artsy opinion."

James paused in his attempts to draw Dorcas to glance over at the magazine, brow furrowing. "Worm, you'd be better off shaving your head."

"See?" Sirius said.

Peter pushed the magazine in Dorcas' direction. "What do you think, Meadowes?"

"Can I move my head?" Dorcas mumbled.

"Yeah, yeah, you're fine, I'm nearly done," James nodded, his sketchbook at such an angle that Dorcas could not see the drawing even when she did turn her head. She glanced down at the magazine and frowned.

"Well, I mean, I think you should do what you want, Peter, and try new things," she said slowly.

"Finally, someone supports me!" Peter said, triumphant.

"Er, however, while I don't want to outright discourage you, I'm, uh, I'm not sure this would suit you?" Dorcas added.

"There, she let you down in the most Hufflepuff way possible," Sirius said, flipping the magazine shut and handing it back to Peter. "Be smart about this."

Peter sighed heavily. "You lot always shoot down my ideas."

"Just your bad hair ideas," Remus said.

"Which, to be fair," Sirius said, refilling his goblet of pumpkin juice, "are most of your ideas."

"There, be brutal," James said, setting the sketchbook down so that Dorcas could see what he had drawn.

"She's a Hufflepuff, we just went over this," Sirius said, craning his neck to try and see the sketch himself, though from his position he could only see it partially, and upside down.

It was a bit rough, but Dorcas certainly thought it looked like her. He had taken the time to draw her curls, which had to have been a tedious task.

"I think it's lovely, James," Dorcas said encouragingly. "I really like it. I like how you drew my hair."

"Thank you," James said, seeming rather pleased at her response.

"Hand it over," Sirius said, reaching out his hand.

"Ah, he'll give me brutal," James said, handing Sirius the sketch.

"Well don't be mean, it's a nice drawing," Dorcas said.

"Eye's wonky, is your eye wonky?" Sirius said, glancing from the sketch to Dorcas and back. "No, it's not. The sketch is, though. Hair's good. The more I look at the eye the wonkier it gets, though."

Remus leaned over to take a look. "I think it just might be too small."

"Ah, yeah, that's it," Sirius nodded in agreement.

Peter took the sketchbook from Sirius' grasp to take a look as well. "The nose is big."

Dorcas set a hand to her nose. "I have my father's nose, I'm afraid."

"Your nose is fine, I'm still getting the hang of people," James said with a heavy sigh.

"No, the nose in the drawing is fine, it's just that the eye is small so it makes the nose look bigger," Sirius said, pointing to the eye and nose to better illustrate his point.

"I still think it looks great," Dorcas said, patting James on the shoulder as he got his sketchbook back.

"Oh it's very good, you should see some of the rubbish people he drew before," Sirius said.

"Let's see if I can't make it better. Thanks, though," James said, offering Dorcas a smile as he took an eraser out of his pencil case.

It was an odd sensation to Dorcas, watching him erase her eye and getting to see her face without it. He lightly began sketching a new one in.

It was fascinating to watch and she found herself getting caught up in it. It was soothing in a way, listening to the pencil scratch the paper and watching something come out of nothing. Remus, Peter, and Sirius had started talking about something else, MacPherson's class perhaps, and Dorcas hadn't heard a word of it, just watching James' pencil.

"There, that's better, I think," James said after a short while, setting his pencil down again.

Dorcas hadn't thought there was anything wrong with the drawing before, but it was obvious that the change had made a huge difference. Everything seemed balanced now, somehow.

"Oh yeah, way less wonky," Sirius said when James handed him the sketchbook.

"Looks good, Prongs," Remus agreed.

"You're very talented," Dorcas said. "How long have you been drawing?"

"I don't really know when I started," James said. "I was always doodling. I guess in second year I wanted them to look better and started trying harder."

"Well, it shows. It's very nice, I really like it," Dorcas said as the sketchbook was set back in front of James and she could take a look at it again.

James carefully tore the page from the sketchbook. "Well, then it's yours."

Dorcas' eyes lit up at the idea. "Oh! Excellent. But you've got to sign it!"

"Right, right, might be worth something some day when I'm a pro Quidditch player and gallery artist," James said boastfully, scribbling out his signature in the corner of the page.

"Do remember us when you're legendary," Remus said dryly.

"I'm sorry, who are you?" James said.

Remus simply gave him the two-finger salute.

"What lewd gestures for a prefect," Dorcas tsked as she tucked the sketch away in one of her text books to keep it safe for the rest of the day.

The bell rang and the group began gathering their things and getting up from the table.

"Take it up with Dumbledore," Remus said, slinging his bag over his shoulder.

Lily and Emmeline were on their way to Divination when they saw a very frustrated Alice and Frank talking to Professor Flitwick outside of the charms classroom on the third floor. Flitwick seemed calmer than the couple, but a rare frown and furrowed brow was present on his face.

"I wonder what's happened," Lily said, starting to walk that way.

"We have to be in Divination in five minutes and we've still got four floors and a tower and—" Emmeline started, glancing at her watch. When she glanced up, however, Lily was already ten paces away, her expression a combination of concerned and curious.

The Ravenclaw sighed heavily and glanced at the staircase they should be taking for only a moment before hurrying off to follow the redhead.

"It's ridiculous, Professor!" Frank was saying.

"I agree, Mr. Longbottom, I absolutely agree, but we must see Dumbledore's side of this—" Flitwick said.

"MacPherson is acting like a child and Dumbledore shouldn't be enabling him to do so!" Alice said.

Flitwick sighed. "I don't always agree with our headmaster's methods, but he is the headmaster. Hello, Miss Evans. Miss Vance."

"Hello, Professor," Lily said pleasantly. Emmeline offered a quiet wave to the group. "Is everything all right?"

"Remember how we were trying to organize a session to teach shield charms? We've been putting plans together and had booked a classroom and time but MacPherson blocked it, said Flitwick—" Frank started before Alice interrupted.

"—Dueling Champion, Filius Flitwick," she said. Flitwick smiled slightly.

"Right, right," Frank nodded. "MacPherson said that Dueling Champion, Filius Flitwick was undermining his authority as head of the Defense Against the Dark Arts department by teaching supplemental spells that fell under his subject, completely ignoring the fact that they're shield charms that Flitwick regularly teaches to N.E.W.T.s students."

"Well, that's rubbish," Emmeline said, brow furrowed.

"He filed a formal complaint against him!" Alice said, clearly enraged.

"What!?" Lily and Emmeline each said at once, shocked. Not only was Professor Flitwick one of the least offensive, most-liked professors at Hogwarts, he was MacPherson's former head of house.

"Now, now, there's no need for you lot to get riled up on my account," Flitwick said. "You have better things to worry about than faculty dealings."

"But you shouldn't have to deal with this—wank—sorry, this faculty member, doing this," Frank said, and Lily could swear that Flitwick chose to smooth out his mustache at that moment to avoid giving away that he had nearly laughed.

"Dumbledore had to have a meeting with them both where MacPherson threatened to quit if Flitwick carried on planning to set up a session to show anyone pre-N.E.W.T.s how to cast the charm. And he insisted that Frank and I had no authority to do so on our own because we're meant to tutor what's in the curriculum," Alice said.

"Oh no, MacPherson quitting? How terrible," Lily said dryly.

"It's much too close to your examinations lose a professor right now," Flitwick said. "I understand why Dumbledore would rather not risk it."

"Remus taught us Patronus charms, that wasn't on the curriculum," Emmeline said. "Since when is that even a problem?"

"Technically Patronuses were on the curriculum, MacPherson just skipped it. He tried complaining to Dumbledore about that, too, and Dumbledore wasn't hearing it," Alice sighed. "And I guess there's an old, obscure school rule that we really aren't supposed to tutor what's not on the curriculum because a few centuries ago students were teaching each other the unforgivables secretly during tutoring sessions. They weren't illegal yet, and technically there hadn't been a rule against it. So, he dug that up."

"That's so stupid," Lily scowled.

"I know! He's on a power trip," Alice said.

"I think it's best to ride out the rest of the school year and try again next term," Flitwick said gently. "I understand and appreciate the passion you all have about this, truly I do. But I suggest focusing on your studies and passing your exams. That's what's more important in the here and now."

"But Professor, with things the way they are—" Lily started.

"I know, Miss Evans, but you're all students. It's not your war yet. With any luck it won't have to be."

Sirius Black nearly tried to fight Remus Lupin when the other boy tried waking him up much too early on a Saturday. Remus and Peter hushed Sirius immediately and pointed in the direction of James' bed.

It took a short while for everything to make sense, but once it clicked, Sirius nodded and clumsily pulled himself out of bed. They walked lightly to James' bed and gently pulled back the curtain.

"Merlin's sake," Sirius mumbled when they found an empty bed.

"Morning!" James said cheerfully, causing all of them to jump in surprise. He had suddenly appeared behind them, invisibility cloak draped over one arm and a half-eaten doughnut from the kitchen in his other hand.

"We should have known when we didn't hear snoring," Remus said, rubbing his tired eyes.

"Dead giveaway," Sirius agreed.

"I was really looking forward to sending him spiraling out of his bed," Peter frowned.

"It was just Moony's birthday, you've lost the element of surprise," James grinned, plopping down on his bed, cross-legged and looking very satisfied with himself. "So, I suppose since I've outsmarted you lot, we can skip right to the gifts."

"I mean, I suppose, but—wingardium leviosa!" Remus said, quickly pointing his wand to James' mattress, half of which jerked upwards, sending James tumbling backwards into a tangle of bedsheets and curtains on the floor.

Sirius and Peter each high-fived Remus as James cursed and attempted to get up.

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

"He's looking rather fit!" joined in Peter.

"Too bad he's so ancient," chimed in Remus.

"Iiiiiiiit's the birthday git!"

James pulled himself back onto his bed with a huff, unamused and disheveled. "I hate you guys."

"We hate you too," Sirius said, lovingly patting James on the head before he, Remus, and Peter each went to their respective corners of the room to retrieve their gifts for the other boy.

Sirius tossed a package at James, who caught it easily finding it to be flimsy and soft. When he tore the paper away, an AC/DC t-shirt was revealed. Sirius was slowly but surely building up James' band shirt collection, and James supposed it was in part so that Sirius could borrow said shirts later, but liked them all the same.

"Thanks, Mate," James said.

"Rock and roll," Sirius replied, mid-yawn.

Taking a less violent route to deliver his gift, Remus handed James a much sturdier, rectangular package. It felt like a book when James curiously weighed it in his hands, and unwrapping it proved his suspicions to be true. It was an odd muggle medical text book, and when James curiously flipped through the pages he found a huge amount of anatomical illustrations.

"I thought, you know, you might be able to use it as drawing reference since you're drawing more people lately," Remus said sheepishly, clearly nervous about James' reaction.

"Cool," James said with a nod, glancing up and offering Remus a sincere smile. "Thanks, Moony."

"You're welcome," Remus said.

"I got you something for when we win the Quidditch Cup," Peter said with a groan as he lugged a large crate of fireworks over to James' bed and dropped it there. "Sorry, I didn't wrap it."

James laughed. "Where'd you get all those?"

"Been buying a couple here and there all year from AJ," Peter said, rubbing his arms.

"Nice work," James said. He had just reached over to take a firework from the crate and properly examine it when there was a tapping at the window.

There were two owls. One was Hippolyta, James' gray owl, carrying a small package, and the other was a grumpy-looking horned owl that James was not familiar with, carrying a much larger package.

Sirius let the owls in and they flew directly to James, demanding to be relieved of their mail carrying duties. Hippolyta calmly returned to her perch and drank some water when James took the package from his parents from her. The horned owl hooted indignantly as James untied his package, and once released nearly crashed straight into Sirius out of spite before heading out the window.

"Who sent that mental thing?" Sirius said, suddenly more alert after the spook of almost being target practice for an owl.

"Dorcas," James said, reading the card attached to the package. "That must have been Bubba, she said he only likes her brother."

"What did your lady love send, then?" Remus asked.

"Can you open it in front of us?" Peter said scandalously.

"What do you think she sent, Worm?" Sirius snorted.

"I don't know, naughty photos," Peter shrugged. "Vance has a camera."

"Bit heavy for photos," James said, holding the box in his hands.

"Lots of naughty photos," Peter nodded.

"Hi, Vance, can I borrow your camera to take about a hundred inappropriate pictures for my idiot boyfriend?" Sirius said, imitating Dorcas with surprising skill. "Yeah that sounds like something Meadowes would do."

Remus laughed. "Oh yeah, completely in-character."

"It's fudge!" James said, seeming only slightly disappointed that Peter's theory was incorrect upon opening the package. "There's another note inside, says 'Sorry for sending it so early, my housemates kept almost eating it. Enjoy!'"

"Oh, we will, Meadowes, we will," Sirius said, reaching to take a piece. James pulled it out of his reach.

"Get your own girlfriend that makes homemade fudge," James said.

"Excuse you," Sirius said, hand to his heart, insulted.

"Sorry, get your own girlfriend or boyfriend that makes homemade fudge," James clarified. Peter had snuck up behind James and snatched a few pieces from the box. "Hey!"

"Catch, Pads!" Peter called, tossing a piece his way. It was a poor throw, but Sirius managed to catch it anyway. Peter handed another piece to Remus before eating a third piece himself.

James rolled his eyes. "Fine, but the rest of the fudge is mine."

"Touchy," Sirius said, mouth full of fudge. "You've got a Quidditch game coming up, I think she might be trying to sabotage you with baked goods, Mate."

"Mm, good sabotage," Remus nodded in approval as he chewed. "What did your parents send, then?"

"Let's see," James said, setting aside the card for now in favor of opening the package. He revealed a small ring with a blue stone and eyed it curiously.

"Is it an heirloom or something?" Sirius asked. It didn't look old.

"I don't think so, let me look at the card," James said, tearing open the envelope. "Dear James, let's see, sentimental stuff, telling me all about when I was born, typical parent birthday stuff—ah! 'Please enjoy your gift, we have been assured that it is all the rage with the muggles your age.'"

"Wait, wait, let me see the box," Remus said, sticking the rest of his fudge in his mouth before reaching over. James handed him the box and Remus pulled out a piece of paper that James hadn't noticed before. Remus covered his mouth as he snorted a bit, mid-chew. "They got you a mood ring."

"… a what?" James said. Remus handed the piece of paper to James to reveal a color chart and corresponding emotions. James curiously put the ring on his pinky and eyed it as it turned blue. "Looks like I'm calm?"

"Oh wow, glad you have a ring to tell you that," Sirius said with a laugh.

"It just changes based on your temperature," Remus said. "My mum tried one on and it was always black because her hands are like ice."

"Now, now, Moony, maybe your mum was just always…" Peter said, reaching over to take the color chart. "Anxious. All the time."

"I mean, could be," Remus shrugged. "Having a werewolf as a kid does that. But also, those stones just react to body heat."

"Let me see it," Sirius said. James handed him the ring and Sirius slid it on one of his fingers, watching as it settled on a color. "What's this one mean?"

"Uneasy," Peter said, glancing from the ring to the paper.

"Does 'hungry' fall under that category? Because I'm hungry, let's go get breakfast," Sirius said.

"Give me my ring back," James said.

"But how will I know when I'm happy?"

"It's just body heat!"