It had been a long hot day. James's hair stuck to the back of his neck as he walked down the path to the gate in front of his parent's cottage. He leaned over it, sighing, as there was no sign of life moving along the dirt road. The wind was picking up now, rolling across the field that bordered the road, rippling it as though it were a great golden ocean. Dark clouds were appearing on the horizon, framing the gold with dark blue. James looked over into Mrs. Wittle's yard, where the well endowed Mrs. Wittle herself was hastily pulling down her laundry in anticipation of the impending storm. She glanced at the clouds worryingly as she pulled down her last pair of pinstriped knickers, catching James in her eyesight and waving. James waved back, watching as she turned and collected her lawn gnomes and took them inside with her. James turned his attention back to the road, ruffling his hair in the wind. No sign of Sirius yet, but his excitement was mounting as the clouds approached. The darker it got, the higher the buzz rose in his stomach. He loved storms. All the better to run around in. He turned his back to the road once more, observing his home lazily. It was a traditional english cottage, boring enough, but pleasant for his parents. It was the woods just behind it that he enjoyed. He grinned sheepishly to himself, imagining his parent's faces if only they knew that he ran around in there turning into a great big - BAM! James spun around, his mouth dropping as thousands of glittering sparks rained down into the field, followed by a faint noise. There was a speck on the horizon, and it was laughing hysterically. The speck grew larger and larger to take the shape of a sixteen year old boy on a broomstick with several trunks swinging below him. Sirius Black had not yet landed, and yet he had already flown from London on a broomstick, in daylight, performed underage magic, in daylight, and had caused enough of a spectacle to draw Mrs. Wittle to her window. In daylight. James could not have been grinning wider as he threw open the gate to meet Sirius as he landed a few yards away.
"Nice" James laughed,
"And how are you?" Sirius grinning wildly, his black hair whipping in the wind.
"Fantastic, though I think Mrs. Wittle disapproves." James gestured with his thumb behind him. Sirius leaned sideways, looking past James to wave at the pursed-lipped Mrs. Wittle, who promptly shook her head and disappeared into her house.
"How wonderful, a neighbor!" Sirius smiled as James helped him untie all of his worldly belongings from the broom. "You know, I've always fancied this place. Peaceful. Desperately in need of my presence." He grinned, meeting James's eyes. James couldn't stop smiling as he took in his dearest friend. Sirius's black hair had grown just past his ears now. He was wearing an open collared maroon shirt, with the sleeves rolled up past his elbows, overtop of a black v-neck that was coupled with tight black jeans, dragon hide boots and black arm bands. This was the child he was about introduce to his parents as their temporary son. They had spoken to Sirius at the train station before, yes, but generally he had not been wearing anything that might give the impression that he had just come from the scene of a mugging on those occasions. It was perfect. The wind was blowing up both of their shirts, the dark clouds were on top of them and Sirius was moving in. James couldn't imagine a better day. Other than perhaps one that involved Lily confessing her complete and utter love for him in the great hall in front of everyone at school. But this was still a fantastic day.
Sirius was practically prancing up the path to James's front door, with James following along behind just as enthusiastically. Sirius paused at the door, looking back to James.
"Open it! It's your house too now," James laughed, as Sirius grinned widely, opening the door. The two boys stood in the entrance hall, kicking off their footwear. James took the lead past the living room where his parents were reading to the background tones of an old radio. They both looked up, smiling warmly as Sirius came to a halt before them,
"Thank you so much for this, I promise I'll look for a place of my own for next summer" Sirius mumbled as Mrs. Potter flew to her feet, taking him into an embrace.
"You can stay here as long as you like, Sirius." She said, patting his cheek, "we're so happy to have you. Plus it will be nice for James to have someone his age.." She looked to James, who smiled looking from his mother to his best friend. Mrs. Potter released Sirius,
"James will show you your room - it's just an old guest room, I'm afraid, but I hope you'll feel at home there. If there is anything at all that you need, just ask" She smiled,. Sirius nodded, smiling a rare smile of gratitude. James gestured towards the hall, and Sirius followed after him. james walked past his own room, plastered in posters of quidditch players and popular singers to a slightly smaller room, painted completely in white. Sirius threw his trunk on the bed, spinning around on the spot. James opened his mouth to apologize about the size when Sirius burst out,
"THIS IS BRILLIANT!"
"Really?" James asked,
"Oh my god, James, your parents... this is more than I imagined. When I wrote you I was hoping for maybe a spot on your floor or in your basement ... never a room for myself." Sirius blinked, looking around again.
"Oh, well perfect!" James laughed, "Mum said we can paint it any colour you'd like, so we can go into the Muggle village tomorrow and buy some."
"Really? That's amazing. Truly, wickedly amazing, mate." Sirius grinned as the rain began pouring down outside, hitting the bedroom window in sheets of white.
Sirius and James spent the evening unpacking, their talking and laughing mixing like a medley with the thunder above. Towards the end of the night James found himself rolling on the floor with laughter after having caught Sirius attempting to slyly slip a stack of WickedWitches magazines under his new pillows. He was roused from his fits of laugher by Mrs. Potter calling them both to the kitchen. Sirius tossed the dirty magazines aside as they both headed out the door. Mrs. Potter had two large bowls of strawberries mixed with whipped cream on the table for them. She set her wand on the counter as the boys entered the kitchen, and passed them the bowls.
"You can eat wherever you like" She smiled, "mind there's a lovely light show going on outside," she gestured out the window at the chairs on the covered porch with a wink as she returned to the living room. Once the two empty bowls were resting on the wet edge of the deck, the two teenage wizards stood staring out into the inviting shadow of the woods against a flash of lightning. James looked over to Sirius who had his wand tucked into his back pocket. The buzz in his stomach had returned. They were immortal, really. Nothing could hurt them as long as they had their wands. That, coupled with their animagus forms and their undoubtably unparalleled wit - they were invincible. James's eyes caught Sirius's in another flash of lightning, who had an eyebrow arched over his reckless grin.
"Care for a run?" Sirius asked casually,
"Sounds freshening" James breathed, and without another word Sirius took off towards the woods. James took off at a run right behind him, their slim silhouettes caught in several flashes of light as they neared the edge of the trees. Sirius whipped out his wand with a bark of laugher and shot off red sparks into the sky to challenge the lightning's domain. James laughed, running through the trees parallel to Sirius at a dangerous speed. They shot sparks and disarming spells at each other, the sound of their roaring laughter and ricocheting spells drowned out by the storm. Branches scratched their arms, and mud splashed up their legs and they ran on, laughing and ducking each others shots. James lost sight of Sirius in the dark, and fell back to a stop to catch his breath. Just as he bent over to think, a giant bear like dog jumped off a tree and landed with a thunderous bark just feet away from him. James yelled, stumbling back over branches, landing in a fit of laughter as the dog stood over him, placing a heavy paw on his chest to declare victory. James rolled himself back onto his feet, still panting. He stuck his wand in a nearby tree, and he took off his sweater and tied it around the trunk. James turned back to Sirius-the-dog with a wild look in his eyes and dove towards him in the dark, the figure of a large stag replacing him in the next flash of light. The two large creatures ran on through the woods, leaping over fallen trees and dislodging bark and branches from the standing trees in their way.
A beam of sunlight had found its way right on top of James's eyelids the following morning. James lifted a hand over his eyes in a shooing motion, before he rolled onto his side, moaning as he opened them. He was laying sideways on his bed, fully clothed, and covered in mud. He untangled himself from his blankets to find his clothes mostly torn beyond repair. He slipped on sweatpants and a t-shirt before sticking his muddy head out into the hall to detect wether or not his parents were around, before tip-toeing over to the next room. A muddy lump James took to be Sirius was curled up in a ball on the end of his bed, tangled in his own blanket. James snorted, shutting Sirius's door and darting to the bathroom for a shower. Twenty minutes later, a freshly clean James returned to the dormant Sirius's room, and pelted him with a wet towel. Sirius woke with a start, unsure of where he was, and fell to the floor in a heap of mud, hair and torn fabric.
After a shower and breakfast, Sirius joined James for a sheepish walk in the woods to retrieve their wants. James had no trouble finding his along with his sweater, and after permitting Sirius five minutes of dignity to try and locate his on his own, performed a summoning spell and retrieved it for him. The two boys stowed their wands in their back pockets and headed towards the dirt road, destined for the muggle town. It was a twenty minute walk shortened by their retellings of last night's escapades, and Sirius swearing he had spotted a rogue hippogriff in he woods. Once they reached the town, they stopped for tea at a muggle shop. Sirius watched, eyebrows raised, as James smoothly made the transaction with muggle money. He did not, however miss the chance to wink as the pretty cash girl on their way out. They had to be careful here, for where it was alright to use magic around James's house, in the muggle village it would be asking for a nice plump letter from the Improper Use of Magic office. The boys next stopped at the paint shop, where Sirius took half an hour choosing between a variety of greys. Though after being reassured that he could literally do anything he wanted with the walls in his room, he purchased a large can of red and another of gold. James paid again, and they embarked on the long painful walk back to James's place, resentful that magic could not carry the forty pounds of paint for them. Back at the cottage Mrs. Potter had laid a plastic sheet over all of Sirius's belongings (and had removed the muddy sheets) for them. The boys enthusiastically began painting in a style Sirius described as worthy of the Louvre, which consisted of the two wizards pointing their wands at the paint cans, and splattering the walls with the gryffindor colours in an wildly abstract pattern. Soon enough the two of them were red and gold themselves, and again, clothes were being destroyed. James caught a mouth full of paint splatter as he laughed at Sirius's self painted paw print tattoos on his shoulders.
"I'll get these for real one day," Sirius laughed as James sputtered gold all over the plastic sheets. "Once we're out of school and we all move somewhere close to each other - you, me, Remus and Pete - it will be the best times ever. And I'll have tattoos and a motorcycle, and Remus will have us on the full moon, and we'll all have money."
"And Lily will be my girlfriend." James nodded,
"Yes," Sirius rolled his eyes laughing, "Lily Evans will be your girlfriend."
And so, covered in paint, James and Sirius continued to laugh, as they dreamed aloud about their futures and all the fun that was yet to be had.
"It will be brilliant."