The tap tap tap on the window made Lily look up from her homework. Lying flat on her stomach across her bed, she did her best to give her older sister a smile.
"Petunia, could you open the window for Titania, please?"
Petunia peered over the top of her magazine with what Lily had started to believe was a now permanent scowl. "No." She spat venomously. "That ruddy thing is probably full of diseases, you know."
Lily took a deep breath and set down her quill. She slid off her bed and crossed to the window to allow the copper colored barn owl inside. The bird hooted happily, landing on the redhead's arm and nuzzling it's soft, feathered head against hers. "She is not," she sighed, kissing Titania on the beak and taking the letter that was tied to her leg. "Are you, Tani? No of course not." She cooed.
"Bleh," Petunia pulled a face at the display. "Can't you have a normal pet, Lily?"
"Tani is perfectly normal, thank you very much." Lily defended, being careful to keep her voice level and not show her sister just how much it hurt to have every aspect of her life criticized. She carefully set Titania in her cage to eat and sat back on her bed to read the letter. She smiled to herself.
"It's from that boy again, isn't it?" Petunia asked with a sneer. "That freaky boy you're always with. The one from the park..."
Another deep calming breath and Lily nodded shortly. "It's from Severus, yes."
Petunia shook her head in disapproval. "He's the absolute worst part about your whole...creepy life." She shuddered. "He gives me chills. There's something not on about him, Lily. Even for your lot-"
"Petunia," Lily snapped at last, spinning to face her sister. "Enough. Severus is a good friend of mine. The first friend I had at school! The only person who understood me when yo-" she held her tongue. "Forget it."
Petunia had finally put down her magazine, having finally gotten a rise out of her sister. "What? When I what, Lily? Go ahead, what on earth did I do to you? I'm not the one who gave you freaky powers and made you different than the rest of your friends and family at home! I'm not the one who sent you off to some boarding school in another country so you could just learn to be even more strange-"
"I AM NOT STRANGE!" Shouted Lily as the anger finally surged through her. There was a loud crash as the vase on the windowsill that held a handful of wildflowers suddenly smashed without having being touched. Lily gasped, color draining from her face and Titania screeched in her cage from the scare.
Petunia looked smug. "Freak."
"It's bloody hot out here," Sirius groaned, lying out in the grass in the Potter's large property. He was shirtless and they had already gone for a dip in the lake an he still felt like he wanted to rip his skin off. He sat up and tied his damp hair up with the elastic around his wrist.
"Can't we do this inside?" Asked Peter. The pudgy boy was sweating and feeling highly uncomfortable.
James sighed. "You know we can't. My parents might find it and then we'd be screwed." He was hotter than either of the other boys since he was the one currently leaning over the boiling cauldron.
"Could have at least found a place in the shade." Grumbled Sirius. The Potter's estate was so large that there were acres of heavily wooded areas. But they needed a place to hide the potion as well so that no one found it and no animals got to it. The abandoned shed in the yard was perfect, but the boys were relatively sure the sun permanently hung directly over that area to taunt them.
"Look, we're almost done with it for the day and then we can swim again or go inside or something." James wiped his forehead with the back of his hand. "Pete, could you stir for a bit? Sirius and I both had a go already."
The smaller boy groaned and lifted himself into a sitting position. "I can hardly move, mate. It must be clear over a hundred degrees out here."
Sirius snorted. "You can't move because of all those extra crepes you ate for breakfast, lardass."
"Don't call me names!"
"Or what?" Sirius laughed. "You'll sit on me?" He stood and walked to his friend, offering his hand and pulling him up with just a little difficulty.
"You're a prick, Black." Peter said breathlessly. Sirius clapped him on the back, then wiped the sweat from his hand on his shorts.
"That I am, Pete. Family trait, I'm afraid. Now go on and get stirring. Give James a break. Counter clockwise for ten, clockwise for twenty." He reminded him.
"I know, I know." Peter sighed, taking the handle from James.
James sucked his teeth for a second. "Yeah, you say you know but then the bloody cauldron overflows and we need to start all over. We haven't got enough ingredients or time for another screw up, mate. Just...be careful." He smiled reassuringly at him.
Peter began to stir, quietly counting under his breath. James sat cross legged beside Sirius and they both kept an eye on Peter.
"So have you written back to McKinnon at all?"
Sirius sighed and picked at the grass.
"Sirius, you've got to at least answer the girl's letters." James laughed. "She's your girlfriend."
"I know she's my girlfriend." Said Sirius, mildly annoyed. He just didn't really know what to say to her and he didn't find what she had to say very interesting. She was on holiday with her parents in Australia, which was cool he supposed, but he couldn't exactly tell her what he was up to.
James hummed thoughtfully. "Truth or dare, Sirius."
The other boy snorted. "You serious?"
"No, you're Sirius." The pun was already old and dead, but they all still used it. "Truth or dare?"
Sirius blew his fringe from his eyes. "I'm too bloody hot to move for a dare." He said honestly. "Truth I suppose."
James smirked, he had been counting on that. "Do you actually like Marlene like that, or are you just going along with it because you feel like you ought to?"
"What? Of course I like her. I snogged her all the time last year, didn't I?"
"Alright, alright, you don't need to be so defensive about it." James said lightly. "You just don't seem to be holding interest, that's all."
Sirius shrugged, still carefully watching Peter stir and count. "Out of sight, out of mind?"
James nodded. "If you say so."
"Er...is it meant to change colors like this?" Peter asked nervously. James swore under his breath and jumped up to assist him.
"I don't see why you're still letting her get to you, Lily." Said Severus, watching the girl slump over miserably on the swing set.
"She's my sister, Sev." Lily sighed, drawing her bottom lip between her teeth and blinking tears away from her bright green eyes. "You wouldn't understand. You haven't got siblings."
Severus shrugged and leaned against the metal pole of the structure. "Who cares? Blood is meaningless. You make your own family in this life. Especially when you're clearly superior to-"
"Don't say things like that." Lily said sternly.
"But it's true." Severus argued. "You are superior. You've got magic and she's just a muggle. Ordinary. Boring."
Lily frowned at him. "My parents are muggles, same as her. My whole family. I wish you wouldn't speak so ill of people without magic, Severus." She folded her arms. She had to wonder sometimes what he would think of her had they met under different circumstances. Had she not been born a witch instead of a muggle like the rest of her family. Would he still have wanted to be her friend? Even if everything else about her stayed exactly the same...was magic the only reason he thought she was worth anything?
Severus looked down, honestly feeling just a little ashamed for upsetting Lily further. "I'm sorry. You're right, Lily. I just...I was trying to make you feel better."
Lily nodded. "I know, Severus. It's alright." She smiled at him. "Thank you. And thanks for coming to meet me here."
He smiled back. "Always."
"This literally looks like someone barfed, then ate it and barfed again." Sirius said flatly, staring at the slimy greenish brown substance in his glass.
Peter actually gagged a little. "Why did you have to put that idea in my head, Sirius? I'll never be able to get this down now that you've said it."
"Well you haven't got a choice, mate." James sighed, swirling his glass and notching how little the thick concoction moved. "No backing out now. We've been busting out arses over this for weeks. We've wasted the whole summer."
The three of them looked up at each other, all wearing similar expressions of disgust. They were hesitating.
"...I mean...it's worth it, right?" Peter said shakily. "For Remus?"
The other two nodded solemnly. "For Remus."
None of them moved to drink, all waiting for each other to make the first move.
"Some brave Gryffindors we are." Peter grumbled. The others silently agreed. This was silly. They should just suck it up and knock it back and it would be over in minutes.
Sirius cleared his throat. "Er...perhaps we should get some juice or something to wash it down?"
James shook his head. "We can't. We can't have anything after for two hours."
They all fell silent again.
"Hey," Peter said finally, smiling just a little. "Bet I can drink mine faster than you two gits, eh?"
All three of them laughed. James and Sirius exchanged a clear look of accepting the challenge.
It turned out, Peter really could drink it faster than either of them. And yes, it did taste like vomit.