It had never been precisely a comfortable relationship.

She was certainly beautiful enough for the second most popular boy in Gryffindor Tower; oh yes, she was certainly eye-catching. She caught your eye like one of those pointy hook latches that used to dangle from doors and would fly up whenever you banged the door open again. She was so eye-catching that she could make herself a vast collection of eyeballs for use in Potions class, could fill her whole wardrobe with them if she so chose. From her flame-red hair through her sparkling green eyes down to those long, long legs and perfect little toes, she was a grade one eye-catcher.

Unfortunately, this meant that she had also caught the eyes of the *most* popular boy in Gryffindor Tower. Who happened to be his best friend. This was not the least awkward of situations, especially when she'd made her preference quite clear, and the friend in question was not the least competative of people. In fact, he positively thrived on a challenge, and James would be the first to admit that Lily certainly constituted a challenge. Somehow they'd managed to stay friends, but sometimes the 'friendly' rivalry could turn nasty, and James was scared enough of Sirius as it was. He couldn't exactly back down, though; however difficult Sirius could be, he got the feeling that incurring Lily's wrath would be pretty much fatal - or probably worse. He didn't seem to have much choice in the matter.

And now, he'd come in to the Common Room to find Lily in tears - always a sign of great and terrible danger - and Sirius muttering darkly to himself by the fire, with Peter desperately trying to cheer him up and Remus staying well out of it over a set of Transfiguration notes. He wasn't sure he wanted to know what had happened, but Lily had already spotted him, spearing him with that fierce emerald gaze, and he knew that there would be no running away now.

"What's up?" he asked warily, trying to keep his tone light; bracing himself for the storm that was sure to come.