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Lily's Story Year 1: The Ancient Book of Elvish

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Chapter 1: Going to Hogwarts


Eleven-year-old Lily Evans woke up with excitement on the morning of September 1st, unable to believe that the day had finally arrived. Later on that morning, she would be heading off to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to learn how to use the magical talents that she’d only recently learned she possessed. She smiled slightly as she remembered what had happened when she’d gotten her letter. At first, she had been sure it was a practical joke—that magic didn’t, that it couldn’t, exist! Everyone knew that. But when she told her parents, who had always encouraged their children to believe in the impossible, they hadn’t been surprised. Quite the contrary, they had told her that they’d guessed she might have an extraordinary talent because of the extraordinary things that so often happened when she was around. Her father had congratulated her and immediately begun to call his friends, hoping one of them would know where they could buy the supplies that she would need for school. Her mother had happily informed Lily’s grandparents, aunts and uncles, and anyone else who would listen, that “We have a witch in the family! Isn’t it wonderful?!”

Lily got dressed and swept her hair back into a braid.  As she tidied her dressing table, her eyes fell upon a locket and she smiled as she glanced at the gift that her father had given her upon her acceptance to Hogwarts.  It was really unfortunate that she didn’t have a chain for it at the moment.  All the same, she didn’t particularly want to leave it at home.  She picked it up and ran her hands over the shiny metal for a moment before slipping it into her jeans.  She could carry it in a pocket when she was at school, too, that way she had something from home with her whenever she was feeling homesick. 

 

She quickly stood up and walked over to the trunk sitting open in the corner. She wanted to check one last time before they left for the train station to make sure that she hadn’t forgotten to pack anything, and she knew there wouldn’t be time after breakfast. As she was going through her list of schoolbooks for the second time, she heard a slight noise in the hallway. Glancing up, she saw a blond little girl with a messy ponytail standing there. She was attempting to arrange her mouth into a smile around her horsey teeth, but her pale blue eyes were full of tears.


“Now don’t cry Petunia,” said Lily soothingly. Nine-year-old Petunia was Lily’s sister, though hardly anyone would have guessed it by looking at them. In contrast to the little girl standing in the doorway, Lily had full, auburn hair, even teeth and a wide, welcoming smile. The most startling difference between the two girls, however, was their eyes. While Petunia’s were a very unremarkable pale blue, Lily’s eyes were striking, a very deep green that most people noticed immediately. Lily left her trunk open, and hurried over to comfort her little sister.

 

“There there, Pet,” she cooed, “It’ll be Christmas before you know it. And I’m sure I’ll be able to send letters. I’ll write you loads. And you know what?” she asked with as much enthusiasm as she could muster, “I might even be able to use an owl, like the one that brought me my letter!” Far from comforting Petunia, however, the thought appeared to trigger the tears that had been threatening to fall since she'd walked in the room. Lily hugged her tightly, trying to be reassuring. It wasn’t easy. The truth of the matter was that her little sister’s tears had brought to the surface the insecurities that her excitement about school could not quite squelch.

She had always been good at school, but she wouldn’t be studying the familiar subjects of Mathematics or English. Instead, she was going to be taking classes with names like “Charms”, “Transfiguration”, and “Potions”, and learning about any manner of creatures that, until her letter had arrived in July, she had thought were imaginary. She was pretty sure that her talent in Geography wasn’t going to help her in those classes. But it wasn’t the classes that were causing Lily her greatest misgiving. In a few short hours, she would be heading away from home for nearly four months. Four months seemed like an incredibly long time to Lily, who had never been away from home for longer than one night before. And it wasn’t just herself that she was worried about.

 

Petunia had been the only one in the family who was quite unexcited about Lily going to Hogwarts, but in the hustle and bustle that came with preparing her to leave for school in a short month and a half, Petunia’s reaction had gone completely unnoticed by their parents.  Lily had noticed, however, and she was very worried about Petunia, who had become clingy and melancholy since she’d found out her sister would be leaving home in September, rather than going to the local public school.

 

Only one thought consoled Lily when she thought about how much she was going to miss her little sister. While it was true that neither of their parents possessed the magical talent that Lily had been born with, she figured that there was a reasonably good chance that Petunia would turn out to be magical, too, and would be joining Lily at Hogwarts in a few short years. Lily refused to think about the fact that Petunia had never accidentally turned the baby-sitter’s hair blue when she didn’t want to go to bed, or caused a doll that she really wanted to come zooming out of the store after her as their parents were making them leave without it. The thought that Petunia would one day be joining her at Hogwarts gave Lily too much comfort to let her doubts get the best of her, and she decided to tell Petunia about the possibility.

“Really?” Petunia asked, sniffling. “I suppose I could. I mean… Yeah! Why not? Why couldn’t I be a witch, too?” Lily felt a little guilty as she saw her sister’s eyes light up with the thought that she, too, might be going to Diagon Alley to buy a wand for school, but before her doubts about Petunia’s magical ability could push their way to the surface, a voice from downstairs called them to breakfast.

“Better not let Mum see you’ve been crying, Pet,” Lily said to Petunia, who hastily wiped away her tears, “You know she’s already worried about me heading off to school. We don’t want to get her on about how hard it’s going to be for you.” She smiled at Petunia, who returned Lily's smile with one of her own, and they headed down the stairs together. “What’s for breakfast, Mum?” Lily asked brightly as they entered the kitchen together.

 

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In the car on the way to the station, Lily couldn’t stop moving around. Petunia snapped at her crossly to hold still or she was liable to make the whole car fly away. A reference, Lily supposed, to the time that, in a fit of nervous energy just before she was supposed to go onstage in a school production, she had caused a desk to float across the stage. Petunia’s mood, which had improved considerably after Lily made the suggestion that Petunia might be joining her at Hogwarts, had soured during breakfast when their mother remarked that it was too bad Petunia would not be attending Hogwarts as well. “How do you know I won’t?” Petunia had snapped, glaring at their mother. She had been in a bad mood ever since, and Lily had tried everything that she could think of to cheer her up. Eventually, she had given up, and turned her attention, instead, to reading Hogwarts, a History. It wasn’t required reading for class, but she had managed to convince her parents to buy it for her when they were at Fluorish and Blotts, the wizarding bookstore where they had gotten all of Lily’s textbooks.

History had always been Lily’s favorite subject in grammar school, and she found Hogwarts’ history to be even more exciting than European history. “Did you know,” she exclaimed, looking up from her book, “that the ceiling in the Great Hall at Hogwarts is bewitched to look like the sky? So if it’s raining, it looks like it’s raining, except that you don’t get wet, because the ceiling is still there to protect you. And at night, you can see the stars.” Petunia looked like she was about to start crying (or yelling) again, so Lily hastily added, “I bet you can’t wait to see it, Pet!” Anxious not to give either of her parents the opportunity to tell her to stop putting false hopes into Petunia’s head, Lily quickly added, “It’s the oldest school of magic in Europe. It also says here that it’s the ‘best’, but I would say my school was the best, too, if I were writing a book about it! Still…it might be true. Mrs. Figg certainly seemed to think quite highly of it. There are four houses.”

 

Lily looked down at the book and began to read. “’Each house selects its students based on their defining characteristic. Hufflepuff students tend to be loyal. They aren’t necessarily the brightest students in their school, but their work ethic compensates for what they lack in natural talent. Ravenclaw admits only the brightest students in the school. Ravenclaws also tend to hold to high standards of behavior. Gryffindor students are the bravest, but their cleverness often rivals that of the Ravenclaws. Because with bravery comes confidence, many Gryffindors rise to leadership positions within the school. Slytherin accepts as its members only those with the most slyness and cunning. Because Slytherins use their cunning to gain positions of influence within the school, only Gryffindor house rivals Slytherin for the number of head boys and girls it has produced. Which one do you think I’ll be in?” ”

Petunia had stopped scowling, and was looking over at the book in Lily’s lap with interest. “I bet you’ll be a Ravenclaw,” Petunia predicted. “You’ve always been very good at school.”

“Maybe,” Lily replied thoughtfully. “Though I think I’d like Gryffindor. I’m quite brave, too. I’d have to be, going off to this school without knowing anything about the world I’m entering.” Lily shook off the nerves that once again threatened to rise to the surface, and smiled at her sister. “Here, Petty. I’ll read some more to you.” The two sisters spent the rest of the car-ride engrossed in the book, learning everything that they could about the magical school that Lily would be attending. When they arrived at King’s Cross, Lily’s parents and sister accompanied her to the barrier between Platforms nine and ten. “I guess this is the one, then” she said once they’d arrived. “Mrs. Figg says that you can’t get through the barrier, because it’s protected with charms so that non-magic people don’t discover it.” Lily sighed. “I wish it was like Diagon Alley, and someone could tap a brick and an entrance would appear that you three could go through, too. But I suppose that other people would notice if an entrance to a new platform kept appearing and disappearing.”

“I’d forgotten that we won’t be able to see you off,” Elizabeth Evans said, her voice trembling. It wasn’t difficult to see from where Lily had gotten her looks. Elizabeth also had thick auburn hair, and a light complexion, but her eyes were light blue, like Petunia's. In fact, Lily's eyes were the only feature that she appeared to have inherited from her father. Petunia, on the other hand, looked almost exactly Harry Evans, who had light blond hair, a large, horsey smile, and more neck than was usual for a person. Harry was also looking quite put-out at the news that he wouldn’t be able to accompany his daughter on to the platform. Not one to allow disappointment to get him down for long, however, he was trying to convince Elizabeth that they could say goodbye to Lily there, and it would be just as well.

After Lily had hugged her parents good-bye, and had promised Petunia yet again that she would send her “so many letters that you won’t be able to read them all!” Lily turned to push her cart through the barrier. She was still fairly certain that Mrs. Figg was mad, that there was no platform on the other side of this brick wall, but she didn’t have much choice in whether or not to believe her. Either the platform was there, or it didn’t exist. And it must exist, or else she wouldn’t be able to get to school. Trying to summon all of the courage that she had inside of her, she set off toward the solid wall with a last wave at her parents. As she approached, she closed her eyes. When she finally opened her eyes (after she was quite certain that she’d have hit the brick by now if she was going to hit it), she saw that she was indeed standing on a platform next to a smoking train with the words “Hogwarts Express” written on the side.

Lily quickly tried to mask the awe that she felt as she took in the scene around her. While most of the kids were dressed in normal clothing, the adults on the platform all seemed to be dressed in wizarding robes in every color and style imaginable. In addition to trunks packed full with clothing and supplies, there were a variety of cages holding owls, or rats, or cats. Here and there, she saw someone carrying a broomstick. A round-faced man with two girls standing next to him was discussing the merits of Quidditch with a man whose bored-looking teenage son was standing next to him.

“Of course, the Americans have never been as taken with Quidditch as the rest of the world. My cousin lives in Atlanta, and to listen to him talk, you’d think that balstar was the best game in the world. I’ve never seen what’s so exciting about it myself. Only two balls to worry about, and no bludgers chasing after you.”

The man with the bored-looking teenager shook his head in amusement. “There’s just no understanding American tastes, are there?” he said.

Not wanting to be caught eavesdropping, but wondering silently to herself what exactly quidditch and balstar were, Lily continued to look around the platform. Her eyes landed on a nearby messy-haired boy about her age playing with what looked like a little golden golf ball with wings. “James!” said an exasperated witch that she assumed was his mother. “Your father will have your neck if he finds out that you nicked that from his Quidditch set. Hand that snitch over right this instant!”

The boy handed his mother the “snitch”, and mumbled an apology, but the glimmer in his eye told Lily that the only thing he was sorry for was having gotten caught with it. The boy turned to greet a dark-haired boy who had just come running up to him exclaiming, “Hey Jamey-poo!”

“Call me that at school, and I’ll make sure everyone knows about your mum’s nickname for you, Sirikins.” Just then, the boy called James looked up and saw Lily watching them. He winked at her, and she looked away quickly, embarrassed. Realizing that they would be leaving shortly, she started to heave her stuff onto the train.

“Here, let me help you with that.” Lily looked up to see the round-faced man who had been discussing quidditch and balstar standing there. He hauled her stuff on the train and then turned to look at her. “I saw you come in alone,” he said, conversationally. He had friendly eyes, and a welcoming smile. “Your parents must be muggles. My wife can’t come to see the girls off either. She’s a muggle, too,” he explained as the two girls who had been standing beside him walked over. “I’m Edmond Parker. These are my girls, Alice and Anna.” He motioned to the shorter and the taller of the two, respectively.

“Er—thank you.” Lily replied, still slightly taken aback. “It’s very nice to meet you,” she said to the two girls, then, unable to think of anything else to say, she said, “Well, I better find a compartment, then.”

Lily began to pull her stuff down the train corridor. She found an empty compartment about halfway down, and settled her stuff in. A few minutes later, as she was flipping through “The Standard Book of Spells—Grade 1” (by Miranda Goshawk), the compartment door opened. She looked up and saw Alice standing there. "Mind if I sit with you?” Alice asked. “Anna won’t let me sit with her. She says I’ll embarrass her. She's probably right, too. Anna is easily embarassed!” Alice smiled. She had the same round face as her father, and the same smile, but her eyes were blue, rather than brown, as her dad’s had been.

“Sure,” said Lily, moving over to make room. “I’m Lily Evans, by the way. Your dad seems nice.”

Alice looked a little pained. “Yeah, he’s very sweet. Of course, it can be embarrassing. He finds muggles really intriguing, you see—well, he’d have to. He married one, didn’t he? But he can’t get enough of them. One time we were on the subway, and he started asking a woman next to us how a washing machine works. We don’t have one in our house—Dad does all of the laundry because Mum can’t use magic, and she says it’s so much easier for him to do. Anyway, dad even works in the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office at the Ministry of Magic. He’s very excited, just got a new assistant, Arthur Weasley. He’s been asking for one for ever such a long time, but the Minister didn’t think he needed one. He was only able to convince him after the muggle Prime Minister started complaining about the flood of bewitched merchandise making its way into muggle shops…” Alice trailed off. “What about your parents?”

“They’re both muggles,” Lily replied, finding it funny to use the word. As she spoke, the Hogwarts Express whistle blew, and the train started to make its way out of the station. Lily wasn’t surprised to discover that there was a ministry of magic (it only makes sense, after all!), but it did throw her a little bit that the British Prime Minister was not only aware of it, but also appeared to maintain an ongoing dialogue with it.

“Hang on,” said, Alice, “I’d better wave good-bye to my Dad,” She stood up and waved frantically out the window. Lily, having nobody on the platform to wave to, settled herself into her seat, hoping fervently that everyone at Hogwarts was as nice as Alice Parker.


After the station was no longer in view, Alice sat down and turned to face Lily. “So,” she said, conversationally, “I’ve always wondered how muggle-borns find out where to get their supplies and stuff. I mean, it’s not like you can just walk into any old store in London and get a wand.”

“No,” said Lily thoughtfully, “I don’t suppose you can. I don’t know how most people do it, but my dad just called everyone he could think of, asking them if they knew where to get supplies for HogwartsSchool. Most said they’d never heard of it, of course. It just so happened that a friend of my Dad’s—Arabella Figg, was born to a wizarding family. She’s not magical, but she knew how to find the wizarding shops. She told us to go to the Leaky Cauldron and talk to the bartender, said he’d tell us what to do. Then she told us how to get onto the platform. My parents were ever so disappointed that they couldn’t come through and see me off.”

“I know what you mean. My mum always gets upset about it, says the whole thing shrieks of anti-muggle mentality. She’s probably right, but I mean really, what are they going to do? You can’t have muggles leaning on the barrier while consulting a schedule, and falling through, can you?”

Shortly after they had left the station, the refreshment trolley came by and Lily bought the items that Alice recommended. “The chocolate frogs are good, but you want to stay away from the Bertie Bott’s. I had a smelt flavored one once!”.

As they were eating their way through the snacks, the door to their compartment slid open and a dark haired girl walked in. “I’m sorry to bother you, but I was in a compartment with some Slytherin third years, and they were giving me a hard time. Do you mind if I join you?” the girl asked, shyly.

Alice smiled broadly. “Sure!” she replied, “I’m Alice Parker, and this is Lily Evans.” Lily waved, but was unable to say hello, as her mouth was full of chocolate frog at the time.

“Nice to meet you,” the new girl said formally. “I’m Amelia Bones.” She sat down in the seat next to Lily.

Lily swallowed, licked the remaining chocolate off of her fingers, and turned to Amelia. “Did you say Slytherin?” she asked. “What are they like? I read about them in Hogwarts, a History, but it doesn’t seem like the nicest house, does it?”

Alice snorted. “I’ll leave school if I end up in Slytherin, and I won’t speak to either one of you again if you do. You might be perfectly nice now, but two minutes inside the Slytherin common room and I won’t want to know you. It’s not likely I’ll end up in Slytherin, mind you. I possess all the slyness and cunning of a turtle. Mum says I’m too honest sometimes, but I’d rather be too honest than dishonest.”

Lily and Amelia both looked at Alice with mild surprise. She laughed. “See what I mean? Too honest. I think I’ll end up in Gryffindor. All of the best aurors come out of there. My Grandpa did,” she said proudly.

“An auror?” inquired Lily, bewildered. “What’s that?”

“A dark wizard catcher,” replied Alice. “They haven’t got a lot to do right now, mind, the last major dark wizard was defeated by Dumbledore in 1945, but Grandpa seems to think that we oughtn’t get too complacent.”

Amelia looked impressed. “Your grandpa’s an auror?” she asked.

“Yeah,” Alice replied, unable to hide her pride. “He was part of the group that helped defeat Grindelwald, and he says that there have been some rumblings that make him think that our time of peace is about to come to an end. Course, Mum always shushes him before he can tell me what’s going on, but I’m really keen to know.”

“Hasn’t he told you anything,” Lily asked, quite intrigued, but a little disturbed at the possibility of a dark wizard. She wondered why she hadn’t thought of the possibility before.

“All I know is that there have been a few disappearances, and Grandpa says disappearances are never a good sign. Anyway, my Grandpa would be so proud if I were in Gryffindor. Of course, I don’t suppose that Ravenclaw would be too bad, would it?”

Lily looked between Amelia and Alice, but as neither one seemed to be too concerned about the thought that even now a dark wizard might be consolidating his power, Lily decided that she shouldn’t be either. After all, even if there was a dark wizard out there, plotting, it wasn’t as if her worrying about it was going to do anything to stop it. She ignored the butterflies that had started fluttering in her stomach at the unexpected turn in the conversation, and turned her attention back to the topic at hand.

“Well, I’d like Gryffindor,” Amelia was saying with a sigh, “but I think I’ll probably end up in Hufflepuff. Most of my family does. Not that there’s anything wrong with it, mind you. It’s just that the house has a bit of a laughable reputation. I do have an auntie who was in Gryffindor once, so I suppose there’s hope for me!”

“How do they put you into houses, anyway?” asked Lily, “Is it some sort of a test? Do you have to do something?”

“Well, nobody really knows before they get there, do they? I mean, Anna told me that she wasn’t allowed to tell, or she’d have to do the task all over again, and she didn’t fancy that, so it must be something really bad. But one time I was walking by her room, and she was talking to her friend and I heard her say something about wrestling a werewolf. I don’t know if she was kidding or not.”

“My brother just told me not to be worried, that no one had died in at least 20 years. I asked mum if he was kidding, and she wouldn’t look me in the eye when she assured me that he was.” Amelia smiled. “But I’m sure it isn’t so bad. If my brother can do it, anyone can! He’s the greatest idiot that ever lived!”

“Which house is he in?” Alice asked in interest.

“Hufflepuff, of course. See what I mean—that house isn’t the house I want to be associated with!” Amelia shook her head. “I just don’t know how much hope there is for me.”

Their conversation was interrupted shortly thereafter by shouting and laughing in the hallway. Lily stood up to see what all the racket was about, and saw the boy who had stolen his father's snitch, and his dark-haired companion taking bets on what appeared to be some sort of contest. When she reported this fact back to Alice and Amelia, Alice stood up and looked out too.

"Oh, a dung bomb throwing contest," she said without a trace of surprise. "Boys. They can't sit still for very long without causing a ruckus, can they?" She snorted in disgust and sat back down.

Lily shook her head in disapproval. She wasn't entirely sure what a dung bomb was, but she didn't think it was anything good. "Honestly," she said, "You'd think that they'd want to make a better impression than that!"

The girls nodded in agreement, and went back to their conversation. As the journey continued, Amelia and Alice filled Lily in on a variety of subjects including quidditch, dung bombs, the teachers, and Dumbledore, the school headmaster. Lily, in turn, obligingly answered questions directed at her about growing up in a completely muggle family.

It wasn’t long before the sky had turned dark, and a girl wearing Hogwarts robes with a badge engraved with a P pinned to the front came into the compartment and told them to get changed into their school robes. “We’re almost there!” Alice exclaimed, a touch of nervousness in her voice. The three had just managed to get into their school robes when the train slid into the station.

Lily took a deep breath to calm herself, turned to her companions, and said “Well, I guess it’s now or never.” Alicia and Amelia followed Lily out of the compartment and queued up to file off of the train. The smell of dungbombs lingered in the corridor, but the three girls were too nervous to notice. They made their way off of the train and on to the platform; all three ready to meet whatever challenge it was that would determine their house for the next seven years.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 2: The Sorting


The trio stood quietly on the platform, waiting for some instruction on what to do next. Older students pushed back and forth, greeting old friends, looking for their pets, and generally making a loud ruckus. Lily heard someone calling “Firs years! Firs years, over here!” off to her right, and turned to see where it was coming from. She jumped a little in surprise. The man calling for the ‘firs years’ was so large that he could hardly be called a man at all, in fact, by the looks of him, he could only be a…

“Giant? No, I don’t think so,” Lily heard a rather frail-looking boy say to the girl standing next to him. “He isn’t tall enough, is he? I think most giants are at least 16 feet tall. Maybe he’s half and half.” The boy shrugged as though this made very little difference to him. Lily shook her head. It was going to take her some time to get used to this. If this man wouldn’t be considered a giant, then she shuddered to think what might. He was simply enormous, with a scraggly brown beard, and a messy tangle of hair. He smiled down at the students now congregating at his feet (most of them only came up to his kneecaps), but it didn’t do much to soften his wild appearance.

“Well,” she said with as much bravery as she could muster (which did not seem to Lily like very much at all), “I guess that’s us. Come on!” The trio made their way over to the enormous man, who was now looking around to make sure he had everyone. When he seemed satisfied, he called out “Follow me!” and led the way down a very dark and steep path. All of a sudden, the path leveled out in front of them, and they could see the moonlight shining brightly on a very large lake. “Look there it is!” someone near the front squealed. 

Lily looked up and saw a giant castle with many turrets and towers perched on a cliff atop a very tall mountain. The giant-man turned around and surveyed the crowd in front of him. “Me name’s Rubeus Hagrid. I’m keeper of the keys and grounds at Hogwarts, which yeh’ll be able to see right across the lake there. We’ll be crossing over to the castle in the boats here, so everyone hop in, four to a boat. Mind ya don’t fall in the lake, now,” the giant-man, Hagrid, said to an overly enthusiastic first year who had nearly slipped into the water while climbing aboard. 

Lily, Amelia and Alice hurried over to the nearest boat and climbed in carefully, taking care not to let their robes drop in the water. They looked up as a pale-faced, hook-nosed boy came over. “Anyone sitting there?” he asked the three girls, somewhat abruptly.
“No,” Lily replied, “You’re welcome to join us. I’m Lily, Lily Evans,” Lily continued, when the boy made no response. “This is Alice Parker, and that’s Amelia Bones.”

“I know of your family, of course,” the boy said to Amelia Bones. “And yours,” he nodded at Alice with what Lily thought was a look of disdain upon his face. He then looked appraisingly at Lily. “But I’m afraid that your surname doesn’t sound familiar. I’m Severus Snape.” But he didn’t hold out his hand for them to shake, and from the way that he hunched up in the corner of the boat, Lily was sure that he wasn’t interested in learning anything more about her, or her family. She turned away from him to face Amelia and Alice, who were sitting across from her.

“All right, everyone in? Right then—FORWARD!” Hagrid shouted, and the boats began to move. Severus continued to sit almost sullenly in his corner of the boat, and the girls chatted nervously. Their conversation fell of as they approached the castle. Hagrid directed them all to duck as they approached the cliff on which Hogwarts was perched. They glided through a curtain of ivy concealing an opening in the side of the cliff, and pulled up onto a rocky shore within the cliff. 

Once everyone had gotten out of the boats and on to dry land, Hagrid led them through a passageway in the rock, across a small patch of grass, and up a flight of smooth stone steps to the castle. He knocked three times on the huge oak door, which swung open to reveal a tall, very stern looking witch dressed in green robes. “The firs’ years, Professor McGonagall,” Hagrid said.

The witch surveyed the group of students standing in front of her with a critical eye, and thanked Hagrid for his assistance. After Hagrid had departed, she led the first years inside a huge stone entrance hall lit by torches. The thought that generations of Hogwarts first years had stood in this very entrance hall before her, all awaiting the task that would determine to which house they belonged made Lily fill a little better. 

Before she had time to whisper that thought to Alice, who was looking more and more nervous as time went on, Professor McGonagall began to speak. “Welcome to Hogwarts,” she said in a no-nonsense voice that made Lily quickly realize that she would not want to cross this professor, “We will begin the sorting ceremony shortly, which will be immediately followed by the start-of-term banquet. ”

Professor McGonagall, launched into an explanation about the different houses, and the house cup, and Lily began to look around, surveying her fellow students with interest. She noticed that the greasy-haired boy who had joined them in the boat was now standing with a large boy who strongly resembled a gorilla, and a third boy with brown hair, narrow eyes and a nasty sneer on his face. James and the dark-haired boy who had greeted him on the platform were standing with another, smaller boy who had a very pointed nose and rather watey eyes, and the frail boy with light brown hair who had explained that Hagrid was not a giant. Lily turned her attention back to Professor McGonagall, who was in the process of warning the students that any rule-breaking would cost their house points, and probably earn them the wrath of fellow-students. At this, Lily again glanced over at James and his friend. Although they were both standing there quietly at the moment, she was nearly certain that they had already planned a variety of rule-breaking escapades that would no doubt cost their house plenty of points. She sniffed, and hoped intensely that they were not in the same house as she was. She couldn’t see how a house with those two troublemakers in it would ever win the house cup! 

Professor McGonagall finished her speech, and directed the students to form a line. Lily found herself next to the light-haired boy who had been standing with James. As Professor McGonagall proceeded to lead them through a pair of double doors, Lily’s nerves got the better of her. “I hear they make you wrestle a werewolf, but that couldn’t be right, could it?” she whispered to the boy. “I mean, there’s not even a full-moon tonight!”

The boy smiled at Lily wryly, with a glimmer in his eye that made her think that what she had just said had struck him as extremely amusing. “I wouldn’t worry about it,” he replied calmly. “No werewolves tonight. Trolls, maybe…”

“A troll?” Lily thought desperately, as she made her way into a magnificent hall that, had she not been trying so hard to remember whether trolls were dangerous or not, she might have realized was the Great Hall that she had recently read about in Hogwarts, A History. “But I’m a muggle-born,” she muttered to no one in particular. The other students around her were also looking quite nervous by now. 

“Oh, this is too much, trolls…werewolves…I don’t know any magic! It can’t be, it just can’t…” She slipped her hands into her pockets, and felt the locket from her father.  Somehow, it’s presence made her anxiety dissipate a little, and she squeezed it tightly in her hand. As they approached the front of the hall, she soon realized that there was no troll, werewolf, or other creature that appeared to be threatening. All that she could make out was a very old, torn wizard’s hat sitting on a stool. Before she could work out what, exactly, they were meant to do with the hat (perhaps they had to make it float? She thought wildly, thinking that she might at least be able to manage that. She had caused a desk to float once, after all), the rip on the front of it opened wide, and the hat began to sing.

 

“Welcome all you first years! 
Come have a look at me.
I bet that you’re all wondering 
Just what I might be.

I am no ordinary hat
That much you see is true
I am the smartest hat there is
I’ll tell you about you.

My job sounds very simple
For just one time a year
Old Dumbledore will dust me off
And set me out right here.

Then each of you in turn will sit
Upon the stool, and try me on
And now here’s what I have to do
Tell you where you belong.

See our Hogwarts had four founders
And they favored students, each
With a different quality in them
That they wanted to teach

Our founders, long since dead and gone
Have left their brains in me
And I’m to carry on their work
Pick the house in which you’ll be.

So will you be a Ravenclaw?
She valued cleverness beyond the rest
Or perhaps you’ll be a Slytherin,
Where sly and cunning is the best

Maybe Gryffindor’s for you
If your heart is true and brave
Or maybe you’re a Hufflepuff
Where working hard’s the way.

But never fear, I’ll find the place
For you to call your home
And within each house I know are friends
That you can call your own!”



Lily clapped along with the rest of the students as the sorting hat finished its song.  So all she’d have to do was try on a hat!  She sighed in relief.  “I don’t know what I was thinking!  Like they’d allow werewolves in a school!” she exclaimed to the boy standing next to her.  Again he gave her a look of what Lily would have sworn was amusement, but this time he made no comment.

“Andrews, Evan” Professor McGonagall called out.  A tall boy put on the hat and sat down on the stool for a moment before the sorting hat called out “Ravenclaw”.  The table Lily guessed to be Ravenclaw’s erupted in cheering, and Andrews, Evan, ran over to sit down.  “Appleton, Carl” was next, and the hat took some time before deciding that he belonged in Hufflepuff.  “Black, Bellatrix” became the first Slytherin, to a loud chorus of boos from the Gryffindor table.  Next up was “Black, Sirius,” and the dark-haired boy who had been involved in the dung-bomb throwing contest made his way to the front looking quite confident.  “Gryffindor” the hat quickly declared.  The Gryffindor table clapped loudly, and Sirius ran off to join them.  

Professor McGonagall called Amelia's name next.  Amelia had been standing behind Lily, and as she walked by, Lily heard her muttering, “I’m brave.  I’m a Gryffindor.  I’m brave, I’m a Gryffindor”.  The hat took quite awhile deciding where to put Amelia, but finally called out “Gryffindor!” quite loudly.  Amelia, headed toward the Hufflepuff table, seemingly automatically, and looked a little dazed when she realized it was Gryffindor cheering.  She changed course and found a seat just down from Sirius Black, who leaned over and said something to her.  

“Crabbe, William” and “Curtis, Nerissa” both were declared Slytherins.  As Professor McGonagall worked steadily toward the Es, Lily began to feel nervousness welling up inside of her.  When she got to “Evans, Lily” she took a deep breath and walked to the front, trying not to notice all of the eyes staring up at her from the tables.  She put the hat on and the same voice that had sung the song at the start of the ceremony began speaking in her ears.  

“An Evans.  I haven’t sorted any Evanses before.  Let’s see.  My, you are a smart girl, I can see that.  Ravenclaw, perhaps, but let’s see what else is here.  Are you brave?  Yes, yes.  Anyone who knows you knows that.  But you don’t take foolish risks, do you, girl?  Well, that does it.  It seems that your will is strong and your heart is pure, so better be GRYFFINDOR!” The hat shouted out the house for the hall to hear. 

Once Lily had sat down, she turned to watch the rest of the sorting.  “Finch, Rowena” became a Hufflepuff, followed by “Fletchley, Jonathon”.  “Goyle, Gregory” became a Slytherin.  “Johnson, Desdamona”, a very pretty black girl that she had noticed on the platform when they’d arrived, became a Gryffindor while “Lestrange, Rudolphus”, the narrow-eyed boy standing beside Severus in the entrance hall, became a Slytherin.  “Longbottom, Frank”, a tall, blond-haired boy, and “Lupin, Remus”, the boy who had reassured her that they wouldn’t be facing werewolves, both subsequently became Gryffindors and also sat down beside them at the table.  A few more names were called, and then “Parker, Alice”.  Both Lily and Amelia, who had been chatting quietly, turned to watch Alice’s sorting.  She looked quite confident as she picked up the hat, which took no time to decide that she was a Gryffindor.  Lily and Amelia both cheered wildly, and Lily found that she was very glad indeed that both friends that she’d made on the train were in the same house with her.  

“Perkins, Claudius” (“Ravenclaw!”) followed Alice, then “Pettigrew, Peter” (she cheered along with the rest of the Gryffindors), and “Potter, James”.  Lily noticed that Sirius had stopped talking to Remus Lupin, and was saying “Come on, Jamesy, Gryffindor, Gryffindor, think Gryffindor, Jamesy, Gryffindor…” under his breath.  It wasn’t long before Sirius got his wish, and James Potter came bounding over to the table.  “Come on, budge up.  Make room for James,” Black said, shooing Alice, Lily and Amelia further down the table.  They scooted over to make room as Sirius slapped James on the back with a hardy, “I knew you’d be in Gryffindor.”  

“It was you I was worried about, mate," Potter replied.  “I noticed your cousin went to Slytherin.”

“Yeah,” Black said, wrinkling his nose, “but there was no chance I was going there.  I’d have left school first.” 


Lily wondered how Gryffindor had any chance at the house cup now that James had joined Sirius at their table, and she turned away from the two friends with annoyance.  The sorting continued until at last, “Willamson, Phillip” was sent to Ravenclaw.  An older wizard with long, flowing silver hair, a long crooked nose, and sparkling eyes that Lily assumed to be Professor Dumbledore, the school headmaster, stood up to speak.  

“Welcome, everyone, to Hogwarts.  I have a speech prepared, but I am wise enough to know that nobody wants to listen to what I have to say right now, so enjoy your meal!” 

 

Lily collapsed into her four-poster, closed the curtains around her, and thought how unbelievable it was that just this morning she was comforting her sister in her bedroom back home.

Chapter Text

Chapter 3: A Long First Day

 

Lily woke up the next morning, full of excitement about her first day of classes.  She looked around and saw that Desdamona’s and Kaylie’s beds were empty, but both Amelia and Alice were still sleeping.  When she had returned from brushing her teeth, both girls were awake, though neither one could be described as resembling anything remotely “bright-eyed or bushy-tailed”. 

 

“The worst thing about morning,” Alice was saying to Amelia as she rubbed her eyes, “is having to wake up.” 

Amelia yawned and stretched, then looked appraisingly at Lily.  “I see that you don’t share our reluctance to climb out of these surprisingly comfortable beds,” Amelia commented.

“I’m just too excited,” Lily responded.  “I can’t wait to see what our classes are going to be like!  I’ve looked through my course books, and it all just looks ever so exciting.  I think I’ll like Charms best, though.  That old wizard that sold me my wand—Ollivander—told me that it would be especially good for charm work.” 

Alice groaned and threw a pillow at Lily, who laughed and ducked out of the way.  “Please make her stop talking about classes this early in the morning!” she whined at Amelia, who had finally managed to haul herself out of bed.

“I won’t!” responded Amelia, who was now looking rather excited at the prospect of classes.  “She’s quite right, Alice!  Today is our first day of classes.  I can’t wait until I get to start using my wand.  Mum wouldn’t let me practice any spells before I came to school.”  She began to dress quickly as Lily packed her bag.  “Do you suppose we’ll get to use our wands on the first day of classes?” 

When Amelia and Alice were ready, the three girls began to descend the stairs.  Just as they reached the first landing, there was a loud clanging sound, like a fire alarm, and the stairs converted into a huge slide, causing the three girls to go zooming down.  As they slid out into the common room, they collided with James Potter and Sirius Black, who had just gotten up and were brushing themselves off.  The two boys toppled back onto the girls, and there was a lot of yelling and confusion before they’d untangled themselves and stood up.  Remus Lupin and another boy with a pointy nose and watery eyes that Lily recognized from the sorting ceremony to be Peter Pettigrew, were standing there watching the confusion in amusement. 

 

“I told you not to do it, James,” Lupin was saying with a laugh.

Potter and Black looked sheepishly at the three girls, who were looking at the boys in confusion.  “What just happened,” Lily asked Potter, who happened to be standing nearest to her.  He shrugged as if to say he didn’t know.

At that moment, Andromeda Black came sliding down the step-turned-slide.  “Who tried to get into the girls’ dormitory?” she demanded, looking around at the circle of students that had now formed around the foot of the stairs.  Lily noticed Potter attempt to straighten out his cloak, which had become unhooked in the collision, and Black unsuccessfully try to hide something that he was holding in his hand.  Before anyone could explain what had happened, a look of comprehension dawned on Andromeda’s face.  “Hand it over, Sirius,” she said, holding out her hand.

“What?  Oh, this,” Black responded, trying to look casual.  “I was just coming to show you my new tarantula, Andy,” he said, holding out a jar containing a large and hairy tarantula.  A few of the girls watching the proceedings screamed and backed away.  “I didn’t know that boys weren’t allowed in the girls’ dormitories.” Black shrugged innocently, as if anyone could make the same mistake. 

Andromeda took the jar from him and peered at it closely.  ”That’s an interesting story, Sirius” she replied, “especially considering my Dad is the one who gave you the tarantula in the first place, and you know I’ve already seen it a hundred times!” 

Potter looked at Black as though this was the most shocking news that he had ever heard.  “What?  You didn’t tell me that Andy’s dad gave it to you!”  He turned to Andromeda with a reasonably convincing look of innocence upon his face.  “Honest Andy, I didn’t know you’d already seen it!”

Andromeda tried to look stern, but her eyes were sparkling with amusement.  “And I find that rather hard to believe, Potter, considering that you were with Sirius when my Dad gave it to him.”  She looked back to Black.  “So what was your plan?  You were going to sneak this into one of the girls’ beds, think it’d be funny to scare them?”

Black seemed to realize that at this point there was no need to feign innocence.  “Well, we thought it might be funny,” he confessed with a laugh.  Andromeda’s eyes flashed warningly.  “But we realize now how very wrong we were,” he added quickly, elbowing Potter in the side. 

Potter looked at him, surprised, and then catching on, added, “Yes, we were very wrong to think it was funny.  Very wrong, indeed.  And we’ll consider ourselves warned.” He looked up at Andromeda hopefully. 

She looked from one pleading face to the other, shaking her head in disbelief.  “If that’s all, then,” Black said, trying to edge his way around her toward the portrait hole.

“Sirius Black!  That most certainly is not all.  Surely you don’t think that just because I’m your cousin, you and Potter are going to escape detention for this stunt?” Andromeda yelled.

Black was again looking sheepish.  “Well, yeah…  We did kind of hope that.”  He looked again at Potter, who nodded, and they both turned wide, pleading eyes to Andy.

“Well you were both mistaken, then.  I’d lose my prefect badge if McGonagall found out that I’d caught two boys trying to sneak into the girls dorm and didn’t give them detention for it!  I’ll notify Professor McGonagall at breakfast, and she’ll give you the details of your detention when you see her in class.”  Potter and Black looked crestfallen at the news, but Andromeda had already turned toward the door.

“And to think you used to be my favorite cousin,” Black grumped toward Andromeda’s retreating back as he and Potter began to pick up their things that had been sent flying in the collision.  “They might have warned us last night that this would happen if we tried to get up there!”

At this point, Lupin turned to Pettigrew with his hand outstretched.  “I won the bet, then,” he was saying.  “First day, and they both ended up getting detention together.” 

Pettigrew wasn’t looking very happy as he pulled out a silver sickle and handed it over to Lupin.  “I thought they’d at least get through the first day!” he said.

Lily, Alice and Amelia, who had stood watching the scene unfold with a mixture of annoyance and bewilderment, bent down to begin picking up their supplies as well, and Lupin came over to help them.  “I’m sorry about those two,” he was saying to Amelia.  “They really aren’t so bad once you get to know them!”

“Lupin!” Black yelled at that moment, “Are you coming with us to breakfast, or are you too busy making eyes at Bones?”  Lupin scrambled to his feet, his cheeks the same shade of red as Amelia’s, and headed toward the portrait hole.  “I’ll see you in class,” he called back over his shoulder.

“Hey Evans!” Potter called, pausing as he was climbing out of the common room. 

Lily, who was just hoisting her book bag over her shoulder, looked up.  “Yeah, Potter?” she said, her voice as icy as she could make it.

Potter smiled at her, looking very amused.  “That tarantula was headed for your bed, so I’d be extra careful tonight!”  He waved, and disappeared into the hall.

Lily looked at Alice and Amelia with disgust.  Alice shrugged, but she didn’t look annoyed.  “Well you can’t say it won’t be an interesting year,” she said with a smile.  “Not with those two around!”

“I’d say it’s all four of them,” Lily replied, irritated that she would now have to rush through breakfast because of the delay.  “I didn’t see Lupin and Pettigrew trying very hard to stop the two of them going into the dormitory!  I do think that they’d want to make a better impression, too.  Imagine getting detention on the first day!”

“Lupin seemed nice,” Amelia said, staring a little dreamily at the portrait hole.  “After all, Lil, he said he told them not to go up there.  And he did help me pick up my books!”

Lily snorted and headed toward the door.  “If you’re finished defending those gits, Amelia, I think we’d better get down to breakfast.  We’ll be lucky if we’re not late for our first class as it is!”  Amelia looked like she wanted to say something further, but she seemed to realize that Lily was right, and the three girls hurried quickly out of the common room, heading in the direction of the Great Hall.

 

******************************************************


As it turned out, the girls made it to their first class with time to spare, even after getting lost four times on the way.  When they finally arrived at the Transfiguration classroom, Potter, Black, Lupin and Pettigrew were already there.  To Lily’s surprise, they were sitting near the front.  As the girls didn’t want to sit in back, they reluctantly took the desks behind the boys.  “What took you girls so long?” Potter asked with a grin.  “Did you guys get lost or something?”

“We just took our time at—” Lily began, not wanting to admit that they’d had some problems finding the classroom, but Alice interrupted her.

“Yeah, four times!  Someone should make a map of this place!” she said with exasperation.

Potter looked at Alice thoughtfully.  “You know, Parker, that’s not a bad idea.  I don’t know how you’d ever find all of the hidden passages, mystery rooms and secret chambers though.”

“Sounds a bit like a challenge to me,” Black said with a smile.

“It would give us a chance to use my cloak,” Potter said slowly.

“What cloak?  What are you two talking about?” Pettigrew piped in.  Black and Potter looked over at him in surprise, as though just noticing that he was there.

“We’ll fill you in later, Petey,” he said with a glance at the three girls, who were still watching them.

“You two are unbelievable!” Lily said, unable to contain herself.  “You haven’t even served the detention that you got this morning—“

“Don’t even know what it is yet, actually,” Potter interjected.

Lily ignored him.  “And you’re already thinking of more ways to lose Gryffindor points!”

“Well technically, Evans, we didn’t actually lose Gryffindor any points this morning, as prefects can’t take points,” Black corrected her.

“Well I should still think that your time would be better spent preparing for your lessons, like your friend Lupin, there.”  Lily motioned toward Lupin, who looked up from the book that he was reading.

“Leave me out of this, if you will,” he said mildly.  “I think these two are quite capable of taking care of themselves.”

Lily looked between the four boys, annoyed to discover that Lupin, Black and Potter were looking at her as though they found her quite amusing.  Pettigrew’s expression was awed, as if he found it hard to believe that someone was actually telling off Black and Potter.  Unable to think of anything else to say (and fairly certain that even if she could, it would just further amuse the boys, anyway), she pulled her own transfiguration book out of her bag.  Alice leaned over and whispered, “You’re wasting your time, Lily.  It’s just the way boys are.”

“I didn’t see Pettigrew and Lupin acting like idiots!” she said quietly.

“I didn’t see Black and Potter acting like idiots, either, Lily.  They were just discussing the idea of a map.  What is it about them that bothers you so much?” Alice replied.

“I don’t know,” Lily admitted with a sigh.  “It’s like they don’t think about anyone else.  They just don’t seem to realize that if they get into trouble, it’s all of Gryffindor that suffers.  Lupin and Pettigrew don’t seem so bad, though,” she added grudgingly.

“Oh, so now Lupin’s a good boy, is he?” Amelia asked with a laugh.  “I thought you called him a git this morning!”  She blushed as Alice and Lily looked at her with surprise, but was saved from answering any questions about Lupin by the entrance of Severus Snape, the boy who had shared their boat the previous night, and three other Slytherins. 

“Slytherins,” Lily heard Potter and Black say together.  She noticed that they were both wearing identical expressions of loathing.  Lupin and Pettigrew were also watching the Slytherins wearily. 

“What have they got against the Slytherins?” Lily asked.  She knew that Alice hadn’t had a very high opinion of Slytherin house on the train, but still wasn’t sure why.  She didn’t much like the idea of being in a house where the defining feature was slyness, but she also didn’t think it quite right to dislike someone just because of which house they were in.

“Everyone knows that the Slytherins are nasty, Lily.  If they haven’t done something to them already that’s earned their hatred, they will soon enough.”  She motioned toward Snape.  “My dad works with his dad at the ministry.  He hates our family.  Says my dad’s a disgrace for marrying a muggle.  I told you on the train that you didn’t want to be in Slytherin.”

“Yes, but you can’t blame Snape because his father’s a git,” Lily whispered.

“She’s got a point there, Parker,” Sirius said, looking at Lily with a glimmer of respect.  “My father’s a git, with all of his pure-blood nonsense too, and you don’t hold that against me.”  The girls looked up in surprise, not realizing that their conversation had been overheard. “Besides, there are so many other reasons to hate Snape, why use his father as an excuse?”  Sirius turned back around and whispered something to Pettigrew that Lily didn’t hear.

“What does he mean, ‘pure-blood nonsense’?” Lily asked in confusion, but before either Alice or Amelia could answer, Professor McGonagall had entered the room and was striding briskly toward the front of the classroom.  The girls quickly pulled out their quills and parchment, Lily barely able to contain her excitement that she was going to be using her wand at long last!

“Welcome, everyone to transfiguration.  During your time with me, you will be learning the very difficult science of transfiguration.  As transfiguration can be very dangerous if not done correctly, you will find that I hold my students to the highest level of behavior.  If you decide that it is your desire to misbehave in this room, you will find yourself out of my class before you can say Quidditch,” she looked sternly around the room, her eyes moving from student to student.  Lily noticed that her gaze lingered on Potter and Black, and then she clapped her hands together briskly.  “All right, then.  Wands out!  Today you will be attempting a very basic piece of transfiguration, turning pieces of straw into needles.  Pettigrew, please pass these out!”  Pettigrew looked startled to have been singled out, and scurried to the front of the classroom as McGonagall demonstrated the correct wand movement and incantation. 

The three girls set to work attempting to transfigure their pieces of straw, but despite their best efforts, were still unsuccessful when the class was already half over.  Alice had done the best, her piece of straw was at least shiny and hard, but it remained stubbornly flat.  Amelia had managed to get her piece of straw to go pointy, but it continued to have the same texture as before, and when she tried to pick it up to inspect, she had accidentally snapped it in two and had had to get another piece.  Lily’s piece of straw had a split at one end, and although Alice said that she thought it looked like it might be the eye of the needle, Lily was fairly certain that her wand had caused the split when she had jabbed the straw in frustration. 

Alice poked Lily in the side, and motioned toward Potter and Black when Lily looked up from her straw piece.  “Look at that!” she said enviously, pointing at the pile of shiny, pointy, perfectly formed needles now sitting in front of Black, Potter and Lupin.  Only Pettigrew had been unsuccessful, and Lily saw that Lupin was now assisting Pettigrew.  As they watched, Pettigrew finally succeeded in forming a needle, and he let out a small squeak of excitement.

“I don’t get it!” Lily whispered, chewing on her nails in frustration.  “How come they aren’t having any trouble?  They weren’t even paying attention when McGonagall was showing us how to do it!”

At that moment, McGonagall, who had been walking around the classroom and observing the students, walked over to the three girls with a look of disapproval.  “I see that you three have still not managed the transformation.  Let’s see where you’re going wrong.  You first Miss Parker.” 

Alice performed the spell, her voice shaking slightly.  “No, you’re pronouncing it wrong.  It’s a long e, not an eh sound.  Now you, Miss Bones.”  McGonagall watched Amelia perform the spell and told her that she needed to make sure that her wand was aimed directly at the piece of straw and that she was concentrating when she said the incantation. 

Finally, it was Lily’s turn to go.  She again performed the spell, and again nothing happened.  “No, no, no, Miss Evans.  Your wand movement is all wrong.  Potter!” she barked suddenly.  He turned around in surprise.

“Yes Professor?” he inquired.

“You seem to have the hang of this.  Help Miss Evans with her wand movement!”

Potter looked at Lily, smirking.  “Absolutely, Professor,” he replied.

“Thank you, Potter,” she said, “5 points for Gryffindor,” and McGonagall strode away, leaving Lily blushing furiously and wishing that McGonagall had asked anyone but James Potter to assist her with the spell.

By the end of transfiguration, all three girls had successfully transformed their pieces of straw into needles, but Lily took no pleasure in the accomplishment.  She had had to work with Potter the remainder of the lesson, and he had wasted no time in teasing her about the difficulty she was having.  “Having trouble with the assignment, Evans?” he had asked, as soon as McGonagall was out of ear shot.  “Maybe you should have prepared more for class.”

Lily felt her temper flare and took a deep breath before responding.  “McGonagall said that I wasn’t doing the wand movement right.  Can you please demonstrate the proper way to do it for me?” she said, unable to believe that she had to ask James Potter for help with anything.

“Only if you apologize for insinuating that I don’t take my studies seriously, Evans,” he said, folding his arms and leaning against the desk with a smile.  “Go on, apologize.  I’m waiting.”

Lily took another deep breath, still attempting to calm herself.  “I hardly think that’s necessary,” she began, but Potter interrupted her.

“But I do,” he said as Black watched them, laughing.  “And if you don’t apologize to me, I won’t show you how to do it, and you’ll end up with extra homework from McGonagall.”

Lily glanced over at Alice and Amelia, hoping that one of them would come to her rescue, but Lupin was now helping both of them with their spells and they didn’t seem to notice Potter giving her a hard time.  “Fine!” Lily snapped.  “I’m sorry that I insinuated you don’t take your studies seriously, Potter.  It would have been more accurate for me to say that you are an annoying little prat!”  At this point, both Lupin and Pettigrew turned to look at them as well, the same awe that Lily had noticed earlier clearly evident again in Pettigrew’s face.

“She’s got you there, Jamesy,” Black said with a bark-like laugh.  “You can be an annoying little prat sometimes.”

Potter stared at her for a moment with something like approval in his eyes, and then laughed.  “You have nerve, Evans.  I’ll give you that,” and with that, he demonstrated the proper wand movement.  After several unsuccessful attempts, with Potter correcting her as she went, Lily was finally successful at transforming her piece of straw just as the bell rang to signal the end of class.  Her feeling of accomplishment was short-lived, however, because as she was walking out of class, Potter, who was standing at McGonagall’s desk, no doubt waiting for his detention assignment, had called out “Try to be more prepared next time Evans.  I have better things to do with my time than helping you all class!”

The three girls glared at him as he turned toward McGonagall.  “You may just have been right about him, Lily,” Alice conceded.  “I don’t know if I’ve ever met anyone more arrogant that Potter and Black.”

“The worst part is, we have every class with them,” Amelia added.  “At least we only have to put up with the Slytherins for Transfiguration and Defense Against the Dark Arts.”

“At this point,” Lily said, turning around and heading toward the door, “I’d rather every class were a double period with the Slytherins than to have to deal with those four every day!”  If she were truthful, Lily still didn’t see what was so bad about the Slytherins, but as no one seemed about to explain, she decided not to bring it up.

“I still think Lupin is nice,” Amelia said defensively.  “He helped me get my spell right, anyway.  And Alice, too.”

“You’re right,” Lily agreed.  “Lupin seems like a nice enough boy, though he could at least say something when he doesn’t agree with them.  And I almost feel sorry for Pettigrew.  It seems like they’re just as horrible to him as they are to me.”

The rest of the day had gone much better for Lily than their first class had.  After transfiguration, they had had their first Herbology class with the Hufflepuffs.  They were set to work watering mandrakes, which had just been replanted by the second-year Slytherins and Ravenclaws the previous period.  Alice had earned five points for Gryffindor for knowing that Mandrakes could only be watered using rainwater caught with the leaves of a mangrove tree.  After Herbology was lunch, and then they'd had charms.  Lily was quite pleased with herself.  She had been the only one in class who had managed to get her feather to float on the first try, and Professor Flitwick, a tiny, excitable young man, had awarded her five points as well.  Even Lupin and Black had complimented her. 

All in all, the day had gone fairly well, and Lily was in a much better mood as she, Alice and Amelia sat down beside Kaylie and Desdamona at the Gryffindor table for supper.  Kaylie was complaining about Transfiguration—she had been given extra homework because like much of the class, her piece of straw still looked decidedly like a piece of straw by the end of class—and Desdamona was attempting to cheer her up by telling her it could have been worse.

“She’s right,” Lily agreed, “McGonagall could have told Potter to help you with it.”

Kaylie giggled.  “Do you know, I don’t think I would have minded that one bit, Lily,” she confessed with a smile.  “I think he’s adorable!”

“That’s because you haven’t talked to him yet.  One conversation and that impression will go out the window!  ‘Next time try to be prepared for class, Evans!’” she said, embarrassed again at the memory. 

“That’s good advice,” a voice from behind her said, and she turned around to look into the smiling faces of none other than Black and Potter.  She looked across the table, and saw Lupin and Pettigrew standing on the opposite side.

“Can’t you find somewhere else to sit?” she said testily.  “There’s a whole table here!”

They looked up and down the table, as if just noticing the other seats.  “You are right about that, Evans.  At least you’re prepared for supper, if not for class.  But I’m afraid you made the mistake of sitting next to our good friend, Frank here, so either you’ll have to move, or you’ll have to put up with us,” Potter said, and sat down next to a tall, blond haired boy that Lily recognized as the one who had nearly fallen into the lake the previous night.  Taking their cue from Potter, the other three boys sat down as well, and immediately became engrossed in a conversation about Quidditch with Frank.

Lily decided that the best way to deal with this unpleasant turn of events was simply to ignore it.  “Have any of you ever flown before?” she asked the other four girls.  They had their first flying lesson the next morning, and Lily was quite nervous about it.

“I’m a muggle-born, mate,” Kaylie said with a smile.  “The most I’ve ever done with a broom is sweep the kitchen floor!”

Amelia looked amazed.  “Really—you mean you actually use a broom to sweep floors?” she asked.

Alice laughed.  “Careful, Amelia.  You’re starting to sound a bit too much like my dad!  ‘Really?  You put the dirty clothes in the washer, turn it on—what do you mean, on?’” she said in a bad impression of her father.

The girls laughed, and then Desdamona said, “My brother let me ride his broom when he was home from school.  It’s not that difficult, Lily,” she said in a reassuring tone. 

“Evans!” Potter called out suddenly.  None of the girls had noticed that he had stopped discussing Quidditch, and was now listening to their conversation.

“What?” Lily snapped impatiently, thinking to herself that she was reaching a point where she was getting sick of the sound of her own last name.

“You don’t have anything to worry about,” he said, and Lily looked at him, surprised.  “The most important thing is to just relax, and let your broom become an extension of you.  That’s what my dad told me, anyway, and I feel more comfortable on a broomstick than I do on my own two feet.”

Lily stared at Potter in disbelief.  “What, no crack about how I’d better figure out what I’m doing, because you don’t want to have to catch me when I fall off my broom?” she said sarcastically, the mistrust evident in her voice.

“I’m hurt, Evans.” Potter said, genuinely looking hurt.  “Sirius, do you see this?  Pete?  Remmy?  I try to reassure her, and this is the thanks I get?” He glared at her.  Lily didn’t know what to say.  She had become so accustomed to Potter teasing her every chance he got that she didn’t quite know what to make of this.  She half-suspected that he had known she would react this way, and had set her up to embarrass her, and the thought made her temper flare again.

“I see it, mate,” Black said, shaking his head.  “And after you helped her in transfiguration and everything. 

Lupin was smiling, "Doesn’t seem right, does it?” he agreed.

Not wanting to apologize, but not knowing what else to say, she simply glared back at Potter, and stood up quickly to leave the table.  Amelia and Alice stood up and followed her. 

“What is it with her?” she heard Potter ask his friends as they walked out. 

 

*******************************************************


Lily had been dreading facing Potter and his friends after dinner, but by the time she saw them again, they had taken over one corner of the common room for a noisy game of wizard’s chess between Lupin and Black.  She, Alice and Amelia, along with Frank Longbottom who, despite his apparent friendship with Potter, turned out to be a nice, intelligent boy, decided to work on their essays for Herbology, and sat in a group of chairs by the fireplace.  As it turned out, Alice knew a great deal about the subject, and by 8 o’clock, her essay lay completed on the table.  She went back and forth between the other three, pointing out corrections, looking up facts, and making them laugh occasionally with her jokes.  By 9 o’clock, all of the older students had filtered in, and the noise in the common room had risen so high that it became clear that it was no use continuing to work on homework.  Frank decided to join the group watching Potter trounce Pettigrew at chess.  Black’s and Lupin’s game had ended when Lupin, who had begun to look very ill as the evening had worn on, had gone up to bed half an hour earlier.  Lily decided to go upstairs and write a letter to Petunia, so feigning a yawn, she said good night to Alice and Amelia.  As she began to walk toward the stairs she heard the by now familiar voice of James Potter call out, “Hey, Evans!”

Not wishing for Potter to embarrass her in front of all of Gryffindor House, Lily ignored him, and started up the stairs.  She was apparently mistaken in her belief that a tiny little detail like being ignored was going to stop James Potter, however.  “Do you want to borrow the book my mum gave me on flying techniques?” he asked.  Lily couldn’t tell from his voice if he was serious, as he apparently had been at dinner, or if it was another one of his jokes, so she turned, hoping she could tell from his expression.

Except for a sparkle in his eyes that could very well have been caused by the reflection from the fire roaring in the fireplace, his face gave away no sign of his intentions.  Lily decided to answer civilly, rather than risk looking like an idiot in front of him again.  “No, thank you, Potter.  I think I’ll be fine.”

“Are you sure, Evans?” he asked, now grinning devilishly, “I wouldn’t want to have to catch you when you fall off of your broom because you didn’t prepare properly for class.”  The circle standing around Potter laughed, but Lily was heartened when she noticed that Alice and Amelia were now glaring in his direction.

“I wouldn’t worry about that if I were you, Potter,” Lily said icily.  “If the only thing standing between me and plummeting fifty feet to my certain death was you, I would choose death.” 

“You know mate,” Lily heard Black say as she stormed up the stairs, “If I didn’t know any better, I would say she didn’t like you.”

“What makes you think Lily likes James?” she heard Pettigrew ask in confusion before she climbed out of earshot.

When she arrived in her room, Lily pulled out her stationary to write a letter to Petunia, but she was still too angry about the incident with James.  Instead of lying on her bed to write, she paced around the dormitory restlessly, getting ready for bed.  Her disapproval of Potter had now grown into a full-fledged feeling of dislike that was bordering on hatred.  What was more, she couldn’t even figure out what it was that she had done to provoke Potter in the first place.  Before she’d even spoken to him he had tried to sneak into her room and hide a tarantula in her bed, for pity’s sake!  What had she done to deserve that?  Lily went to sit down on the bed, but stopped as she remembered Potter’s warning to her that morning.  At the time, she had thought he was joking, but after the experiences she’d had with him today, she was no longer certain.  Deciding that she wouldn’t put it past him to pay an older girl to sneak up here and hide the tarantula, she pulled back her covers and inspected her bed carefully.  After she had reassured herself that it was safe to lie down, she collapsed into bed with a sigh.  Her first day hadn’t gone the way she had hoped, that was for sure.  With any luck at all, she had embarrassed Potter in the common room tonight, and he would leave her alone tomorrow.  Trying to put the thought of falling off of her broom in front of Potter out of her head, she pulled the curtains of her four-poster shut, and was asleep before the other girls came upstairs.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 4: Regarding Blood



Lily awoke very early the next morning, not feeling much more rested than she had before she’d fallen asleep.  She had slept fitfully at best, her sleep interrupted by dreams of flying, and falling.  In the dream that had awoken her this time, she had been plummeting toward the earth and screaming for someone to catch her.  She had seen Potter standing below her, pointing and laughing, and when she had yelled at him to help her, he had called back, “I can’t, you picked death, remember?”  She tried to clear her mind of the dream, reminding herself that if she wasn’t comfortable on a broomstick, she would not be asked to fly any higher than a few feet off the ground anyway.  The thought didn’t calm her completely, but she still felt better as she walked down into the common room to wait for her roommates before going to breakfast.  Lily pulled out her potions textbook (999 Magical Herbs and Fungi) and started leafing through it.  She heard a voice call out, “Hey, Lily!” and looked up to see Lupin standing there, looking pale and even more sick than he had the previous night. 

After she looked around to make sure that none of his friends was with him, she patted the chair beside her.  “Sit down,” she said, concern clearly evident in her voice.  He looked exhausted, but unsure whether he would find it rude if she inquired how he was feeling, she decided not to say anything about his appearance.  “Err—who won the chess game last night?” she asked

He sank into the chair next to hers gratefully, and smiled.  “I did,” he said with a touch of pride.  “Sirius is a little too rash to do well at the game of chess.  He’d do much better if he were patient; you know, use a strategy, rather than coming after all of my pieces straight away, wand blasting.”

“I didn’t know you had to use your wand to play,” Lily said in confusion.  She certainly didn’t recall seeing any flashes of light coming from their direction last night.

Lupin looked confused at first, and then he laughed.  “It’s an expression, Lily,” he said.  “You must be a muggle-born.”

“I am,” she said, feeling suddenly defensive for some reason.  “What’s wrong with that?” she asked, as a few students began to trickle into the common room and out of the portrait, on their way to breakfast.

Lupin sighed wearily.  “You really might try relaxing a bit, Lily.  I’m not James,” he said in amusement.  “And you might find that he’s not so hard to get along with, either, if you learn to relax around him, too.”

“You’re assuming that I want to get along with him,” she snapped, now irritated that Lupin was defending him.  He ought to be apologizing for the things Potter said to me, she thought furiously to herself, “And I don’t see him trying so hard to get along with me!” she added, thinking about how Potter had singled her out yesterday.

“Fair point,” Lupin added, but before he could say anything else Alice and Amelia came bounding down the stairs, Kaylie and Desdamona behind them.

“There you are, Lily!” Amelia called, before noticing who was sitting beside her.  “Oh, hi Remus,” she said with a blush.

Remus?” Kaylie asked, peering around Amelia and catching sight of Lupin sitting there.  She grinned at Lily.  “Fraternizing with the enemy, then?”

Lily laughed.  “As Lupin here has just pointed out, he is not Potter, and therefore not ‘the enemy’.  Though I don’t think I would classify Potter as the enemy, anyway.  I don’t care enough about him to give him that sort of status.”  She put her book into her backpack and stood up. 

“He’ll be very disappointed indeed to hear that,” Lupin said, looking at her oddly, but before she could ask him what he meant, she noticed Potter, Black and Pettigrew coming down the staircase. 

“See you in class,” Lily said, and eager to avoid a confrontation with Potter again this morning, she hurried out of the portrait hole after the other girls. 

The girls found their way down to the great hall, only getting lost once on the way.  At Lily’s urging, they sat down at the far end of the table, away from the other students.  The table gradually filled up around them, and Lily noticed happily that Potter was sitting down toward the middle of the table, away from them.  While they were eating, a flurry of hoots and flapping wings announced the arrival of the morning post, and Lily looked up in awe, as she had done yesterday.  While much of her transition to the wizarding world had come naturally, she thought again that it was going to take her awhile to get used to the way some things were done there.

A tawny barn owl swooped down toward Alice, and landed softly on her shoulder with a hoot.  “Everyone, meet Archimedes.  He’s the family post owl,” Alice said with a grin before removing the letter that was tied to his leg.  She fed Archimedes some bacon rinds and he flew off, hooting happily. 

As Alice was preparing to open her letter, a commotion in the middle of the table caught their attention.  Potter, Lupin and Pettigrew had jumped up and were laughing as Black gingerly held up a bright red envelope.  “Looks like Black’s got a howler,” Amelia whispered to Lily and Kaylie, who were staring at the boys in bewilderment.

“Might as well open it up,” Frank Longbottom was saying to Black.  “It’ll just be worse if you don’t.  Mum sent me one at my Gran’s once.”

Black nodded, and began opening it just as it began to smoke.  As Lily watched, the letter jumped out of Black’s hand and began shouting. 

 

“SIRIUS BLACK!  I AM COMPLETELY DISGUSTED!  HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO OUR FAMILY?  THE SHAME!  AS IF IT WASN’T BAD ENOUGH THAT ANDROMEDA IS IN GRYFFINDOR, YOU HAVE TO FOLLOW IN HER FOOTSTEPS.  YOUR FATHER IS SO UPSET THAT HE’S HAD TO TAKE THE DAY OFF OF WORK.  I NEVER THOUGHT I’D SEE A SON OF MY MINE IN GRYFFINDOR HOUSE.  WHERE IS YOUR FAMILY PRIDE?  DOES YOUR BLOOD MEAN NOTHING TO YOU?” 

 

The letter then burned up and fell back to the table, the voice of what Lily could only assume to be Black’s mother still ringing in the stunned silence in the hall. 

Black was still sitting at the table, his head in his hands.  “I’m surprised she didn’t call me a traitor to all purebloods,” he said, grimacing at his three friends, who were still standing up, watching him. 

 

The noise level in the hall was slowly going back to normal, so Lily was unable to hear how Potter had responded as he, Lupin and Pettigrew quickly sat back down.  Kaylie and Desdamona got up to go talk to Black, as Lily turned her attention back to her meal, troubled.  This was the second time in as many days that Lily had heard a reference to the importance of blood, but before she had the chance to ask what in the world Black had been talking about, she noticed Alice was staring at her letter, her face pale and her hands trembling.

“Alice, what’s the matter,” Amelia was asking in concern.

“My letter, it’s from my Grandpa,” she said quietly.  “Here, take a look.”  Amelia and Lily hesitantly took the letter Alice was holding out and began to read. 

Alice—

Don’t let your mum and dad know I’ve written you about this, they’d have my hide, but you know my opinion’s always been that it’s better to have you scared and prepared than caught unaware.  There has been a murder.  I’m nearly certain that it is linked to the disappearance of the Ministry of Magic Officials earlier this year, but I’ve got no proof of it.  I’ve enclosed a clipping from the Daily Prophet for you. 

I know that your folks don’t want me to scare you, Alice, but I’m telling you that there is a Dark Wizard working out there, operating covertly right now.  And until we know just how powerful he is, and what his intentions are, you can’t be too careful.

I love you,
Grandpa Parker

Lily looked up from the letter in shock.  “There’s been a murder now?” she asked, her voice shaking.  Alice held out the article from the Daily Prophet.  “Here, take a look at this.”

Lily took the article, then gasped as she stared at the horrifying picture above the headline, “Famous Retired Auror Found Dead in His Home”.  Sparkling at her in black and white was the image of a hideous skull with a snake coming out of its mouth.  The picture was captioned, “This mark was found hovering above the home where the body of retired auror William Kingsley was found, and is believed to be the signature of the witch or wizard that killed him.”  Lily read the article quickly, and then looked up to find Alice and Amelia staring at each other, fear clearly evident in their eyes.  Not sure what to say, Lily looked up at the staff table, and noticed McGonagall and Dumbledore chatting fervently, the Daily Prophet hovering in front of them.  Lily looked again at the article and a sentence she had missed in her haste to read it caught her eye.

“What do they mean, ‘it is not known whether Kingsley was targeted because of his muggle heritage’?” Lily asked.  Neither Amelia nor Alice answered her, so she went on, “And what was Black talking about when he said ‘pureblood’, what does that mean?  Alice?  Amelia?”

Amelia sighed, and then looked at Alice, as if hoping she was going to answer for her.  Alice continued to stare pointedly at the table, so Amelia reluctantly began explaining.  “Well you see, the thing is, Lily, some wizards—not most—but enough to make trouble, believe that being pure-blood, that is, being born from a long line of wizards, makes you better than witches and wizards that are muggle-born, like yourself, or that are half-bloods, like Alice here.”

Lily gasped, unable to stop herself.  “That’s horrible!” she said angrily. 

“Yes, it is.  But that doesn’t make it any less real.  There’s a long history of that way of thinking, going back at least as far as Salazar Slytherin,” Alice said, “the founder of Slytherin house,” she explained as Lily looked at her blankly.  “Anyway, every time there’s a muggleborn murdered, they always have to suspect that blood-hatred may have motivated it.”

Lily suddenly became aware that the Slytherin table was chanting, “Traitor, traitor” in Black’s general direction.  “And most Slytherins, you’ll find, subscribe to their founder’s way of thinking,” Amelia added, with a look of disgust toward the Slytherin table.  Lily followed Amelia’s gaze, and saw that a teacher she didn’t recognize was striding quickly over to them.  The chanting died out, but the Slytherins were still glaring threateningly at Black.

Lily nodded in understanding.  “So that’s why Snape was looking at you with disdain when he mentioned that he knew your family.”

“I told you what his father thinks of my dad,” Alice said, shrugging. 

“But why does Black hate the Slytherins so much then?” Lily asked.  “It sounds like his whole family has been in that house—well, besides Andromeda.”

“For the same reason you or I do, I suppose,” Amelia said.  “It’s disgusting and wrong.  Just because his family is like that doesn’t mean that he can’t be a better person than them.  I wonder what his dear old mum thinks about him running around with James Potter, though” she added, almost as an afterthought.

“Why would she care?” Lily asked.  “He said his dad taught him to fly and his mum was seeing him off on the train—”

“How do you know that?” Alice asked with interest.

“I noticed him on the platform,” Lily said defensively.  “His mum was yelling at him about knicking his father’s snitch.  Anyway,” she said, trying to get back to her question, “so he can’t be a muggle-born.  That should please Black’s mum.”

“No, Lily,” Amelia said, shaking her head.  “In order to please the ‘pure-bloods are better’ crowd, the wizarding in your family has to go back a thousand years or more.  Potter’s blood would be considered the same as Alice’s, because his mum’s a muggle-born.”

“And Black’s mum, if the rumors are accurate, would certainly not consider Potter to be a worthy friend for her son,” Alice said thoughtfully, “Which tells you a lot about Black’s character.  I was talking to Lupin the night of the sorting, and he told me that Sirius and James have been friends for ages.”  The bell rang to signal the end of breakfast, and Lily suddenly remembered that their first lesson this morning was flying.  She felt the butterflies began to swarm through her stomach again.

“Ready to go fall off of our brooms?” Amelia asked with a grin.

Lily tried to ignore the butterflies now swarming through her stomach.  “As I’ll ever be, I suppose,” she said with a grimace.  The three girls got up and walked quickly out of the great hall, through the huge entrance doors, and down the smooth stone steps toward the quidditch pitch.

To her immense relief, Lily did not fall off of her broom in flying lessons. Potter hadn’t been lying, either, when he’d said that flying was more natural to him than walking.  Madam Alipes, an energetic older witch with short white hair, had even asked Potter to demonstrate the proper kick-off technique, and had awarded Gryffindor 10 points when he’d done it correctly. Alice, Amelia and Desdamona, who had all had at least some flying experience, had gone swooping around the quidditch field, playing tag with Longbottom, Lupin, Potter and Black.  For her part, Lily considered the class a success because unlike Pettigrew and most of the Hufflepuffs, with whom they were having class, both Lily and Kaylie had been able to move beyond hovering, and had advanced to some basic maneuvering exercises before the class period had ended. Still, she found that she was quite relieved when class was over.  She got an unpleasant feeling in her stomach every time she took off, and also discovered that she possessed an apparently long-dormant fear of heights that had given her some trouble every time she got over ten feet or so above the ground. Now that she was safely on the ground and walking back to the school for Defense Against the Dark Arts, however, Lily’s dreams of last night seemed very silly to her, so she decided to share them with her friends.  She had just gotten to the part about James telling her that he couldn’t help her when she heard an amused voice behind her call out, “You were dreaming about me last night, Evans?”  Lily froze, not wanting to believe her ears.  She turned around slowly and saw Potter standing there, hair messier than usual because of flying, and wearing the arrogant smile that she was coming to detest.  “I’m flattered, Evans.  I really am.”

“Hasn’t your mother ever taught you not to eavesdrop,” she spat at him, unable to think of anything else to say.

Potter shrugged.  “She might have,” he said, “I probably wasn’t paying attention.  So tell me—did you kiss me?”

Black and Pettigrew laughed, but Lupin looked at her with an expression of what might have been sympathy.  Lily stood gaping at him, unable to think of anything to say. “That was in your dreams, not hers, Potter!” Alice snapped.  "Come on Lily, let's go!"

“Is that right, James?” Lily heard Lupin ask Potter as Alice grabbed Lily’s hand and started pulling her toward the entrance hall.  The sound of Black’s laughter followed them inside.

Lily was able to ignore Potter in Defense Against the Dark Arts, but the class itself had turned out to be a disappointment.  The subject was taught by the Slytherin Head of House ("I’ll never understand that teaching appointment,” Alice had commented), and as it turned out, they were paired with the Slytherins for that class as well.  Professor Amos had shown considerable favoritism to his students from the first (awarding Snape 5 points for Slytherin simply for having his parchment and quill ready when he arrived) and to make matters worse, they were told that the first couple of weeks would be spent on theory, and that they wouldn’t actually be practicing any spells for about three weeks.  As a result, Lily, Alice and Amelia were already decidedly short-tempered when they got downstairs for lunch, and discovered that news of the murder had spread around the school.  Alice’s sister Anna, who had also gotten a letter from their Grandpa, actually came over and sat with them, along with Frank Longbottom, and Desdamona’s brother Iago.  Amelia’s brother Edgar had even stopped by on his way over to the Hufflepuff table to speak with her about it.  Nobody really knew what to make of it, but all of them agreed that it was a very bad sign that the killer had left a mark.  As Edgar had put it, “That means he wants us to remember him.”

“Which means,” Frank had added with a shudder, “he’s planning to do it again.”

The mood was very somber as Lily, Alice and Amelia headed to GryffindorTower after lunch.  The first years had the afternoon off, as they had astronomy with Professor Sinistra that night at 10:00, and they were all looking forward to getting back to the common room and relaxing for awhile.  When they had reached the third floor, they discovered Sirius Black, by himself for once, arguing with a dark-haired girl that Lily vaguely recognized as having been sorted into Slytherin

“You’re an embarrassment to the family name, Sirius,” she was saying.  “I thought it was bad enough that you insisted upon running around with that half-blood, Potter,” she said with contempt, “but now you’re in Gryffindor, and you don’t even have sense enough to be ashamed about it!”

At this, Sirius pulled out his wand, “You can say anything that you want to about my house, Bellatrix, but if you ever say anything against James again,” he didn’t finish the threat, but moved toward her, his eyes narrowed in fury.  The girl that Black had called Bellatrix backed away, but she continued to sneer at him.  At that moment, the two cousins noticed that Alice, Lily and Amelia were watching them, and they turned to look at them. 

“What’s this Sirius?” she asked, her voice mocking.  “Your fan club?  Let’s see, a pure-blood who is also a traitor to the name wizard, a half-blood whose father is an embarrassment, and a mud-blood.  This is who you’re—“ but she didn’t have the opportunity to finish her sentence.  Alice pulled out her wand and shouted “rictusempra”.  A flash flew from her wand, and the next thing Lily knew, Bellatrix was doubled over, wheezing.  “If you ever say anything about my father, or either of these two again,” she said, her eyes flashing with anger, “I will make you pay for it, Bellatrix.”

Black looked at Alice in amazement, but Bellatrix, still doubled over by whatever curse Alice had hit her with, simply glared.  “Come on,” Alice said, motioning toward Lily and Amelia, who were also staring at her, dumbfounded.  The three girls and Black hurried up the stairwell, leaving Bellatrix gasping for breath behind them.

“Will she be okay?” Lily asked hesitantly, a little concerned that they should maybe take her to the hospital wing.

“She’ll be fine,” Black said, glaring behind him, “No more than she deserved, anyway.”  By this time, the three girls and Black had reached the portrait.  “Aprasio,” Black snapped.

The fat lady looked offended, “Well you needn’t say it with such attitude,” she huffed before swinging open to admit them.  They climbed into the common room, which was deserted at the moment. 

“It’s disgusting, how anyone can think that they’re better than anyone else just because of who their parents are,” Black said, throwing his books down on to a table.  “Please don’t judge the entire Black family by that,” he added, looking at the girls, an odd expression on his face.  “Well, actually,” he said, laughing humorlessly, “you can judge most of us by her, I’m afraid.  But not Andromeda and I—we’re not cut out of the same cloth.  I can’t believe she used that word, either—Lily, I’m sorry about her, she had no right to—”

But Lily cut him off.  “You don’t need to apologize for that,” she said, feeling decidedly wrong-footed, “I don’t even know what the word is, to be honest with you.”

Alice, who had been pacing around the room, muttering things like, “she’s lucky that’s all she got this time” and “Next time I’ll know a better curse” paused mid-mutter and stared at her, and Amelia looked extremely upset, but neither one seemed to want to explain it.  “Well,” Lily prompted, getting frustrated by her friends’ lack of response.  It was the same reluctance that she had encountered this morning at breakfast, and she was getting rather tired of it.

Black, however, showed no such reluctance to explain.  “A mudblood,” he spat out, still seething, “is a very foul and vulgar name for someone of muggle-parentage.  Someone like you, Lily.  It’s meant as an insult, as if you aren’t the same quality of witch as someone like her.  She’s got that much right at least,” he said, laughing bitterly.  “You’re already a much better witch than she’ll ever be, because you’re a much better human being.”  With that, Black stormed off up the stairs, leaving the three girls staring at each other in amazement.

“She looked at me like I was filth,” Lily said after a moment.  The shock at what had happened was now wearing off, and Lily's eyes filled with tears against her will.  Alice and Amelia, who had been staring at the boys staircase which Black had just stormed up, both hurried over to Lily and hugged her. 

“She’s the filth,” Alice said firmly.  “It’s her problem, not yours, Lily.  You can’t let people like her get to you.”

“People like who?” they heard Lupin’s voice ask.  Lily looked up in surprise, she had been so caught up in her thoughts that she hadn’t even noticed Lupin, Potter and Pettigrew arrive in the common room, but they were now walking very quickly toward her. 

Bellatrix,” Amelia explained as the boys came to a halt in front of them.  Lily noticed that their smiles instantly disappeared at this information.  Amelia turned back to Lily.  “Alice is right.  If you let people like her get to you, you might as well get back on the train home.”

“What did she do to you?” Potter demanded, an edge to his voice that Lily had never heard before.  “What did she say?” 

Both girls turned back to Lily.  “Lily—,” Alice began, but she was interrupted by Potter.

“Well?” he asked, his expression unreadable, “What happened?”  Alice looked at Amelia.  Both seemed unsure whether or not to tell Potter, so Lily explained what had happened as calmly as she could, determined that she was not going to start crying in front of Potter. 

When she got to the point in the story where Bellatrix had called her a mudblood, Potter looked at her with an expression of outrage, jumped up, and began pacing, re-tracing the route that Alice had been following a few minutes before.  “Where’s Black now?” he asked angrily.  “She’s his cousin, Lily.  He’ll take care of her for you.”  Lily was still so upset about what had happened that she didn’t even notice that Potter had called her Lily for the first time.  She had never encountered the kind of hatred that she had seen in Bellatrix’s eyes before, let alone been the target of it, and she didn’t know quite how she felt at the moment.  She wrapped her arms around herself, and sat down in a chair, blinking back the tears.  Alice and Amelia were now staring at her, concern evident in their faces.  Potter opened his mouth again, as though to say something, but Lupin stopped him.

“What happened next?” he asked Lily, looking at her intently.  Potter stopped pacing and sat down heavily beside Lupin again.  Lily continued with the story.  When she had finished, Potter looked at Alice with admiration in his eyes. 

“Well done, Parker” he said to her with an attempt at a laugh.  “Sirius was right, nothing more than she deserved.”

Pettigrew looked confused, though.  “What does she mean, ‘mud-blood’?” he asked. 

“We’ll explain it to you later, Pete,” Potter answered.  He seemed to have calmed down once he realized that Bellatrix had at least been punished for what she had said.  “And make sure that’s the last time you use that word.  It isn’t fit to say, even when you aren’t directing it at someone.” 

Lupin continued to watch Lily with an intensity that almost made her blush.  “Alice and Amelia are right, Lily,” Lupin said at last, smiling gently at her.  “And Sirius too, while we’re on it.  You can’t let people like her get to you.  I wouldn’t be here if I let what people say about my kind,” he broke off abruptly as Potter, Alice and Amelia all turned abruptly to stare at him.

“What are you on about, Remus?” Potter asked him, clearly confused.  “From what you told us last night, you’re family line doesn’t even have so much as a squib in it!”

Lupin looked suddenly uncomfortable.  “I think we’d better go find Black,” he said, standing up.  “He’ll need calming down before supper,” and he began to walk toward the staircase leading to the boys’ dorm.

Potter looked like he didn’t want to let the subject drop, but as Pettigrew was already following Lupin out of the room, he seemed to realize he had no choice.  “Will you guys take care of Evans?” he said.  Lily felt momentarily annoyed that Potter had decided that it was his responsibility to assign someone to ‘take care' of her (she was quite capable of taking care of herself, thank you very much, and she certainly didn’t need him to tell her friends to take care of her, either!), but she decided to let it pass when she realized that nothing he had yet said to her had made her feel as terrible as she was feeling just then.  Alice and Amelia nodded, and turned back to her as Potter followed Lupin and Pettigrew up the staircase.

Alice and Amelia eventually managed to cheer Lily up, and by the time they began to climb the north tower for their astronomy lesson, Potter and Black had reverted back to their usual selves as well.  If anything, they were actually worse that evening than usual (Alice suspected that it was to make up for having been so nice to them that afternoon).  Potter had teased her some more about the dream, and then one of the four had caused her telescope to go floating around the tower when they were supposed to be drawing out the positions of the constellations in the sky.  She was nearly certain that either Potter or Black was responsible, but all four were laughing when she had looked over at them.  The stunt had cost Gryffindor a round ten points, and also kept Lily from finishing the assignment during the class period.  Her annoyance at Potter and Black for the extra homework she had ended up with overcame any feeling of awkwardness she might have had about what had happened earlier during the day, and by the time that she settled into bed that night (pushing aside the feeling of guilt that she still had yet to get a letter off to Petunia), she felt that things were quite back to normal.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 5: Lupin’s Illness


The rest of the week was uneventful compared to her first two days at Hogwarts. News about the confrontation between Bellatrix and Alice had made its way around Gryffindor, and any time they were in the common room, older students kept coming over to them and congratulating Alice on her well-placed hex. Lily received her share of encouragement from the Gryffindors as well, who seemed to be making it a point to let her know that they could care less if her parents were muggles or not.

Potter and Black continued to give Lily a hard time. Thursday morning was a double-transfiguration period, and Potter had sat next to Lily, saying loudly to the class at large that it would be easier when he had to help her “again” if he just sat next to her in the first place. He said this with a grimace, as if it were a chore that he had resigned himself to doing, and kept making snide comments under his breath while McGonagall was lecturing them on the theory behind the straw transfiguration that they had attempted the previous class period. Lily was worried that Bellatrix would try to cause more trouble in class, but she more or less ignored them, except to glare in their direction whenever McGonagall wasn’t looking.

Potter was just as difficult in double Potions that afternoon, although the class itself Lily found she enjoyed immensely. They had the class with the Ravenclaws, and the subject was taught by Professor Figg, an older wizard about Dumbledore’s age who also happened to be the aunt of Arabella Figg, the friend of Lily’s dad’s who had told them about Diagon Alley, and how to find Platform 9 & ¾.

On Thursday night, as they sat working on their transfiguration homework, Andromeda came over and apologized to all three of them for her sister’s behavior, explaining to them that while she and Bellatrix had been close before she’d gone away to school, they had had a huge row the night of the sorting and Bellatrix had told her that she was embarrassed to have a blood-traitor for a sister. Andromeda had realized that night that Bellatrix had chosen to follow the example of their other sister Narcissa (a Slytherin third year), and had more or less disowned both of her siblings, disgusted by their prejudice toward non pure-blood witches and wizards. Lily had nodded her understanding, and felt a swell of sympathy for Andromeda as she thought how difficult it would be if she and Petunia were to have a falling out like that. Andromeda had just returned to her usual study group when Potter and Black entered the common room.

They were returning from serving their detentions, and were arguing loudly over whose punishment had been worse. It appeared that Potter had been set to work polishing trophies while Black had been put to work in the hospital wing. Black seemed to think that emptying bed pans at the hospital had been worse, but Potter was holding his own, arguing that at least Black hadn’t had to deal with Peeves, the Hogwarts’ Poltergeist, following him around and sliming all of the trophies as soon as he finished cleaning them. Andromeda looked up from her studying and greeted the boys, who glared at her before heading over to where Lupin was now beating Pettigrew quite soundly at chess. They both seemed to forget their argument when they saw how badly Pettigrew was losing, however, and immediately started making suggestions to help him. Lily had left the common room shortly after their return, determined to write a letter to Petunia that evening, as she had been planning for the last several nights. She was finally able to send the letter after Desdamona had agreed to let her borrow her owl, Othello.

Friday passed quickly, with Herbology and History of Magic in the morning, and double Defense Against the Dark Arts in the afternoon. Herbology had gone as well as the first day’s class, but History of Magic was easily the most boring class that the girls had had to date. It was taught by a ghost, who seemed to have lost the ability to keep the class’s attention at the same time as he’d lost the ability to breathe. It was all Lily could do to pay attention, and she noticed quite unhappily that Potter, Pettigrew, Lupin and Black didn’t appear to be trying at all. Defense Against the Dark Arts went as badly as it had on Wednesday, only it lasted twice as long. When they arrived back at their common room Friday evening, complaining loudly at Amos’s unfairness—he had taken 10 points from Gryffindor every time one of them did not answer a question correctly, resulting in a loss of 30 points for the period, yet every time Slytherin had gotten one wrong, he’d just gone on to the next person—they found a circle of excited students crowded around the bulletin board. Alice pushed her way forward to read the notice, and returned to Lily and Amelia looking disappointed. “It’s just the announcement that the first Hogsmeade weekend is at the end of September,” she said with a sigh, “I do wish that they’d let first years go!”

“Isn’t that the only all-magic community in England?” Lily asked, a trace of envy in her voice.

“Yeah,” Amelia said with a sigh. “They’ve got a store there called Honeydukes, they’ve got the best chocolate.”

Just then, Black strode over to them, followed by Potter, Pettigrew and Lupin, who was looking even paler and more exhausted than he had when Lily had talked to him Wednesday morning. “Why do you girls look so upset?” Black asked them. “Didn’t you hear about the first Hogsmeade weekend?”

“What are you all excited about, Black?” Alice responded, a bit testily. She was still quite disappointed about only third-years and above being permitted to go. “First years aren’t allowed to go.”

Potter smiled at her mischievously. “That’s true,” he said, nodding in agreement. “But when has a little thing like ‘being allowed’ ever stopped us?”

Lily gaped at him. “You can’t be serious!” she snapped.

Black grinned at her. “You’re right about that, Evans. I’m Sirius.” Lily glared at Black, and Alice, Amelia and the other three boys all groaned at the pun.

“That got old the first time you said it,” Lupin said dryly.

“Five years ago,” Potter added, but he couldn’t hide his grin. “But we do mean it when we say that we’ll be going. Would you like us to bring back anything for those of you who aren’t going to be so fortunate?”

“You’re unbelievable, Potter!” Lily said again. “You’ve already had detention, not to mention that you’ve lost Gryffindor more points than anyone—,”

“I’ve also gotten Gryffindor more points than anyone,” Potter interjected. “Or do I need to remind you about Transfiguration?” he added with a smirk.

“I’m not likely to forget that any time soon,” she snapped, thrown off balance by the new direction of the conversation.

“Did you hear that Jamesy?” Black chimed in, his face now smirking like Potter’s, “She thinks you’re unforgettable.” Pettigrew laughed loudly at Black’s comment.

Lily stared at them, flustered. “That is not what I—,” but stopped when she saw the twinkle of amusement in Potter’s eye. She could tell that he was enjoying the fact that they were bothering her, so she changed the subject back to the Hogsmeade weekend. “Just how do you intend to get into Hogsmeade without a permission slip, then?” she asked. “Filch will never let you out the front gate if your name’s not on the list!” Filch was the young caretaker at Hogwarts. He seemed to dislike all of the Hogwarts students, but Lily had gotten the impression that he distinctly hated Potter and Black. Every time they would pass him in the hallway, Lily had noticed that his eyes would follow them until they were out of sight. On occasion, she’d been certain that he’d set his cat, Mrs. Norris, to follow them from class to class, just to be sure that they weren’t setting off dung bombs. He’d even tried to give them detention for leaving fingerprints on a doorknob, but McGonagall had intervened and he’d had to let them off, albeit grudgingly. Lily didn’t think there was enough money in all of Gringotts to bribe Filch to let them off the grounds.

“James’s in—,” Pettigrew began, before Black cut him off with a glance.

“Don’t be an idiot, Pete. If we tell the girls how we’re going to get there, they’ll probably run off to McGonagall or something. Let’s just say that we’ve got our ways,” he said, grinning mysteriously. The four boys laughed at the bewildered expression on the girls’ faces.

“Don’t worry,” Lupin said with a glance at Amelia. “I’ll bring you some chocolate.” He blushed furiously, and the four boys walked away, leaving the girls glaring after them.

“How do you suppose they’re going to get out of Hogwarts?” Amelia asked, her curiosity evident in her voice.

“Probably let off some dung bombs to cause a distraction, or something,” Lily said, still annoyed. There was no doubt in her mind that they were going to get caught, which would cost Gryffindor even more points, but she was more bothered that Potter and Black seemed intent on dragging poor Pettigrew into trouble with them. She was also disappointed in Lupin, having believed that he had more sense than Potter and Black when it came to stunts like these. She heaved a sigh. “Come on then, History of Magic awaits us.”

Amelia and Alice both groaned. “Come on, Lil! It’s Friday night for pity’s sake. We’ve got all weekend. Let’s just take one night off, okay?” Alice pleaded. “I’ll teach you how to play exploding snap.” Lily agreed reluctantly. She had always preferred to finish her homework on Friday night so that she could enjoy the weekend without it hanging over her head, but she knew it would go much better if Alice and Amelia were working on it with her, so the three of them stowed their books in their room, and sat down so that Alice could teach Lily how to play exploding snap, the wizarding equivalent of the muggle card-game.

 

*****************************


The weekend passed quickly. To Lily’s relief, they were able to get all of their homework finished by Saturday afternoon, and had Saturday night and Sunday free to explore. Amelia had wanted to learn how muggles skip stones, so on Sunday, Alice and Lily had taken her down to the lake to show her. They had picked out a spot behind a tree on the shore when Lily finally decided to talk to them about something that had been bothering her since the first day of classes. “Why do you think Potter dislikes me so much?” she asked suddenly.

Alice, who had been teaching Amelia how to find a good skipping rock, looked up at her in surprise. “Not just Potter, either. Black, too,” she said, flushing. “I mean, they must!” She didn’t want the other girls to see that she was embarrassed about the topic, so she quickly looked down and began inspecting stones. Alice was now looking at her oddly, but Amelia was continuing to hunt for skipping stones.

“I’m not sure that they do hate you, Lil,” Alice said, inspecting a rock that Amelia had brought over for her approval. “No, you want it to be flat,” she said to Amelia, “like this.” Alice held out the stone that she was preparing to send skipping across the water.

“Oh come on!” Lily said in exasperation. “First, they were going to put a tarantula in my bed before I’d even spoken to them. Then there was Transfiguration, Potter gives me a hard time every chance he gets about that. And they’re constantly trying to embarrass me. I could be sitting in a corner reading ‘Magical Creatures and Where to Find Them’, and they would find a reason to come over and cause trouble.” Alice’s stone went gliding across the lake, and she turned to look at Lily, still looking unconvinced. “And what about astronomy, then? “ Lily added quickly. “They sent my telescope floating around the room. I don’t see them pulling stunts like that with the two of you!”

Amelia brought another stone over for Alice to inspect. “That one looks good, Amelia,” Alice was saying.

Amelia tossed the stone and let out a little squeal of excitement, “Ooh! Look, I did it,” she said, grabbing Alice’s arm and pointing at the lake.

“Nice job, Amelia,” Lily said, smiling. “But I’m serious about this! It’s like they hate me!”

Amelia looked chagrined. “Sorry, Lily. I know you’re worried about this, but… Well, it’s just—why do you care? It seems like you hate them an awful lot, too! Like it’s mutual.”

Lily found a stone that looked like a good candidate and stood up to toss it. “It’s not that I care if they hate me. I mean, I wouldn’t be friends with them anyway, the way they strut around Hogwarts, but…” Lily paused, listening. She had thought that she’d heard some rustling off to the side of her, so she looked around quickly to make sure that they were still alone. She saw some older students that she recognized as Ravenclaws standing about twenty feet away, but there was no one else around, so she continued. “It’s just… Well, first Potter and Black seem to have it in for me from the off. And then I run into Black’s cousin, and I don’t even know her, and she hates me…” Lily tossed her stone and turned to look at the two girls. “I’m starting to think something’s wrong with me.”

Alice looked offended. “And does Amelia’s and my friendship with you count for nothing?” she asked.

“We’ve told you that you can’t let Black’s cousin get to you,” Amelia added gently.

Lily didn’t really want to discuss Black’s cousin. She still got upset every time that she thought about it, so she steered the topic back to Potter and Black. “What do you mean, Alice, when you say that you don’t think they hate me?” she asked.

“I mean,” Alice said, as she heaved a stone across the water, “(Oooh! Seven skips! That’s the best one so far.) That when Black’s cousin called you that name, they both seemed to get very indignant on your behalf.” She looked at Lily meaningfully. “They wouldn’t have done that if they hated you so much.” She sent another rock flying across the lake.

At this point, Lily had tired of skipping stones. She was now sitting on the ground, trying to make a tree branch levitate. The branch soared into the air, and she sent it floating toward the lake before she finally responded. “I don’t think that had as much to do with me as it had to do with how they feel about the whole pure-blood/muggleborn nonsense,” she said, her voice skeptical.

“They did call you Lily, though,” Amelia reminded her. “That’s the first time they didn’t call you Evans.” She looked at Lily thoughtfully for a moment. “And Potter did ask Alice and me to take care of you.”

“Which you were doing perfectly well without his direction, anyway, I might add,” Lily said, annoyed at the memory. The tree branch went falling into the water as she stopped concentrating on the spell.

Amelia was still skipping stones, but Alice had also picked up a branch and was trying to levitate it. She was not successful, however. “This is much harder than the feather,” she said in annoyance as her branch shuddered, but stayed resolutely on the ground.

“You aren’t swishing quite long enough,” Lily said as she watched Alice critically. “Here, like so. Wingardium Leviosa,” she said, flicking her wand at another branch lying nearby. The branch immediately began to float. “And anyway,” she said, getting back to the subject, “they were just as nasty to me in astronomy that night as they usually are.”

“You have a point there,” Alice said with a sigh, as her branch did a cartwheel. “But I don’t know. I just think there’s more to it than them disliking you, Lily. I think there’s another reason that they single you out.”

Lily gave Alice a bewildered look, but she didn’t bother to ask Alice what she had meant. She couldn’t imagine what other reason there might be. She directed her branch back down to the ground with a sigh. “Come on,” she said, getting up. “I think it’s time for dinner.” Amelia tossed her last stone across the lake, and Alice cast a look of disgust toward her branch, which was lying motionlessly on the ground, then both followed Lily back toward the castle.

When they arrived back at the common room, Potter, Lupin, Pettigrew and Black were all sitting at a table, their books scattered around them. “You heard her!” Potter was saying loudly, “She doesn’t like—,” but Black shushed him quickly. The four all turned to face the girls, who were just crawling in the portrait hole. Potter flushed, and then glared angrily at Lily. “What are you looking at?” he snapped at her.

Lily glared back and stomped up the stairs without replying. When Alice and Amelia reached their room, she turned to them in frustration. “See what I mean? I can’t even walk into the common room without him yelling at me!” But Alice and Amelia just shrugged, their faces as blank as Lily’s.

 

**************************************


Potter’s behavior toward Lily became, if anything, even worse after his outburst in the common room on Sunday. It was so bad that even Alice had admitted that it did seem as though Lily was right when she thought that Potter and Black hated her. Amelia had commented that at least he was still treating her better than he did the Slytherins, but that wasn’t saying a whole lot. Potter and Black had gotten detention for attempting to hex Snape in the hall. Although they had sworn that Snape had provoked them, the confrontation had taken place outside the classroom of Professor Amos, who had given them detention without even asking what had happened. “That’s more points from Gryffindor,” Lily had commented, within earshot of Potter. He had whirled around toward her.

“It must be truly exhausting to walk around so self-righteous all the time,” he had said to her with a sneer, “Tell me, what’s it like to be perfect, Evans?” Lily had stared at him, the hurt evident in her eyes, but walked away without answering.

And then there were the classes themselves. Lily had always been the type to prepare thoroughly for class, and frequently raised her hand when a question was asked. In Charms in particular, she had become a favorite of Professor Flitwick’s. Now, however, she had started studying twice as hard, because any time a question was asked that she didn’t know the answer to when Potter did, he took the opportunity to mock her. Transfiguration was easily the worst, however, as it happened to be the class at which Potter truly excelled, despite the fact that she never saw him studying for it, or actually doing any homework. Potter had been the first in the class to transfigure his leaf into a piece of parchment (followed shortly by Black), and had won fifteen extra points for Gryffindor for transfiguring it back. Lily, however, had been unable to complete the transfiguration by the end of class, although she was nearly certain that most of it was her inability to concentrate due to Potter’s continual taunts throughout the class period. “Hey Evans, didn’t you pay attention to McGonagall when she was demonstrating the wand movement?” or “You’ll never get it if you keep pronouncing it that way, Evans.” By the end of the class period, she had had quite enough, and when he called, “Hey, Evans! Would you like me to show you how to do it? Oh, I keep forgetting that you don’t need any help from the likes of me. I guess I’ll just work on transfiguring my branch into a pencil then, shall I?” she had been unable to ignore him any longer.

“Just why exactly do you hate me, Potter?” she had asked, with a note of resignation in her voice. “Is it because I’m one of the few who haven’t joined your fan club, yet? Or is there something else?”

Potter looked taken aback, but was saved from answering by the ringing of the bell. “Come on, Siri. Remmy, Petey, let’s go.” He picked up his things and walked out, leaving Lily staring after him. Lupin and Black both gave Lily appraising looks before following Potter, but Pettigrew looked a little scared, and scampered out the door behind the others.

The week before the first Hogsmeade weekend, Lupin began looking very pale and gaunt. By lunch that Wednesday, Amelia was acting thoroughly distracted. “Lupin looks like he’s sick,” she had said in concern.

“Lupin always looks like he’s sick,” Alice had commented, tearing off a piece of bread. “I’d be more worried about him if he didn’t.”

“No,” Amelia said, shaking her head as she chewed thoughtfully on a bite of steak and kidney pie. “No, I mean sicker than usual. He’s been looking steadily worse as the week has gone on.”

“Black and Potter probably hexed him, too,” Lily said dryly. “I wouldn’t put it past them.”

Amelia rolled her eyes at Lily. “Oh come on, Lily. They wouldn’t hex their own friends!” she had said with a laugh. “They aren’t Slytherins, after all,” she added, with a glare at the Slytherin table. Bellatrix Black had progressed from glaring at them to making snide remarks every time she passed them in the hallway, or when the teacher wasn’t paying attention in class. The three girls’ hate for her had grown into loathing, although Lily found that for some reason, Bellatrix’s behavior towards her no longer bothered her as much as Black’s and Potter’s did. She figured that at least Bellatrix had been kind enough to give a reason for her hatred; Potter and Black, meanwhile, were still a complete mystery.

“I think I’m going to go tell him that Madam Pomfrey can help,” Amelia said, flushing a little. She stood up and walked down towards the end of the table where Lupin was sitting with Black, Potter, Pettigrew and Longbottom.

“She’s so cute,” Alice said with a laugh, as they watched her talking to Lupin. Amelia stared at her feet the entire time she was talking. Then Lupin shook his head, said something to her, and then Black and Potter both started singing something that she couldn’t understand the words to. Amelia turned around so quickly that she bumped into a fifth year Hufflepuff that had been walking by, causing her to spill pumpkin juice on her robe.

The fifth year glared at Amelia before pulling out her wand and pointing it at her robes, saying “Scourgify”. As Alice and Lily watched, the pumpkin juice immediately disappeared. “That’s a handy spell,” Lily commented. “I’ll have to practice that one.” Amelia mumbled an apology to the student and hurried back to her seat.

“He says it’s just a cold,” she said, still flushing, “and not to worry about him.”

“What were Potter and Black singing?” Alice asked with curiosity.

“Oh—oh nothing,” she said, suddenly finding her green beans fascinating. Lily looked up as Lupin hurried past them, smiling shyly at Amelia. The voices of Potter and Black grew louder, and they were able to make out the words of the song.

“Remus and Amelia, sitting in a tree…” they sang. Pettigrew was laughing so hard that he nearly fell out of his seat.

“Oh that’s clever,” Lily said, with a glare in their direction. The bell rang to signal the end of lunch, so the three girls rose quickly.

When they arrived at potions, Lupin was already there, looking exhausted. “I hope he wasn’t too embarrassed by what I said at lunch,” Amelia said, casting an anxious look in his direction.

“I don’t think you need to worry about him,” Lily said, smiling. “Again I have to say, it’s Potter and Black I’d worry about! They aren’t likely to let you live it down any time soon.”

They began pulling out their cauldrons and potion kits to prepare for class. Lily was quite excited, after nearly a month of being lectured on how to recognize the different ingredients, methods of preparation, and heating, they were going to attempt their first potion today. Potter, Pettigrew and Black arrived, and as they walked by Lily’s cauldron, Potter said to her, “Do make sure that you pay attention to the teacher in this class, Evans. You can really cause a mess if you add the wrong ingredients.”

“Leave her alone, Potter,” Alice snapped.

He just grinned at her. “I hope that you and Bones will take care of Evans in this class, see that she does it properly,” he said before moving behind them and setting up his own cauldron. The rest of the class filled in, followed by Professor Figg, who reminded them all about the importance of paying attention to details in her class before rapping the blackboard sharply with her wand. The potion recipe appeared on the blackboard, and the class set to work. Amelia, Alice and Lily worked in silence for awhile. Lily looked up at the directions, and saw that she was supposed to add a pickled frog's eye, so she tossed one in and noted with satisfaction that her potion had turned a deep purple. She looked over and saw that Alice and Amelia appeared to be doing just as well, and with a glance behind her saw that Pettigrew was struggling, as usual, and Potter was giving him suggestions out of the corner of his mouth.

“I don’t get the four of them,” Lily said quietly to Alice and Amelia.

Alice looked quickly behind her. “What’s to get?” she asked, flicking her carefully chopped caterpillars into her potion, which emitted a spark and thickened immediately. “Potter and Black are cut out of the same mold. Pettigrew hero-worships them, and they love the attention.”

Lily added her caterpillars and saw with satisfaction that her potion also emitted a spark and began to thicken. “You might be right about Pettigrew and the two of them,” she said thoughtfully, now measuring out her armadillo bile. “But what about Lupin? How do you explain that? He seems like such a nice boy.”

“He is a nice boy,” Amelia said. “And so are Potter and Black.” Lily and Alice both paused in their potion making and stared at her. “According to Lupin, I mean. He says that they only act like gits toward you.” Amelia tipped her caterpillars into her cauldron, which also emitted a spark. “And Snape.”

“Oh, well that makes me feel better then,” Lily said sarcastically. “Just me and Snape.” Lily felt an unexpected swell of sympathy for Snape, knowing as she did what it was like to be the target of Potter and Black. Telling herself that Snape didn’t need her sympathy, Lily poured her armadillo bile into her potion, which immediately turned a putrid green and started letting off a foul stench. The cauldron boiled over, and the people around her quickly jumped up onto their chairs as the potion began spreading over the floor. Lupin had been cutting up his caterpillars, however, and hadn’t seen Lily’s cauldron boil over. He yelped in surprise as the potion reached his feet, melting his shoes. The rest of the class began laughing. “What happened?” Figg demanded, striding over and pulling out her wand. “Evanesco,” she shouted, and the potion disappeared, but Lupin’s feet were now covered in feathers.

“I, I don’t know, Professor!” Lily said, truthfully. “I added my armadillo bile, just like the directions said and the next thing I know, my potion started boiling over.”

Professor Figg bent down and examined Lupin’s feet. “No, Miss Evans,” she said, shaking her head. “You can’t have added armadillo bile.”

“But I did, Professor!” Lily said, holding up the bottle that was labeled armadillo bile.

Figg looked at her quizzically, but took it from her and sniffed. “I’m afraid that you’ve mislabeled your ingredients. This is essence of myrtlap,” she said, sighing. “Come on, Lupin. You better get to the hospital wing. Madam Pomfrey will have the antidote.”

Lily mumbled an apology to Lupin as he walked by, but he didn’t look at her. “The rest of you, finish your potions,” Professor Figg said after Lupin had left the room. “Miss Evans, I’m afraid I’m only going to be able to give you partial credit for your potion today. To get the other points, I’ll need to have you research what potion you did create by adding myrtlap instead of bile. Have that for me on Monday.” And she strode away, leaving Lily trying to figure out how she had gotten her labels mixed up last night.

“Hey, Evans,” Potter said casually. “I told you to check your ingredients.” Black and Potter laughed.

“He did warn you," Pettigrew added, also laughing.

Lily’s eyes narrowed with a sudden suspicion. “You switched the labels!” Lily said accusingly. To her surprise, Potter did not disagree with her.

“You’d have a hard time proving that, Evans,” he said, grinning devilishly. “But I probably would keep a better eye on my things from now on, if I were you.”

Lily stood there for a moment fuming, then before she could think about what she was doing, she pulled out her wand and pointed it at him. To her fury, he just laughed. “Go on then, Evans.”

But before she could do anything, Professor Figg was beside her again. “Miss Evans! Just what do you think you’re doing.”

The sound of Figg’s voice brought Lily back to reality. She hastily put her wand away. “He switched my armadillo bile and my myrtlap essence so that my potion wouldn’t work!” she said, glaring in Potter’s direction.

Figg turned to Potter. “Is this true, Mr. Potter?” she asked.

“It might be,” he said, now glaring at Lily. Figg looked back and forth between the two of them and sighed deeply. “That will be fifteen points from Gryffindor for both of you,” she said. “And you’ll both be getting detention for this as well. Be at my office on Friday night at ten o’clock.”

“But Professor Figg!” Lily began to protest. “I didn’t—,” but Figg held up a hand to stop her.

“I cannot allow a student to pull a wand on another student in my classroom, Miss Evans. Perhaps next time you will think before you act.” She strode up to the front of the classroom. “Please put a sample of your potion into a vile, and bring it up front for me,” she said as the bell rang. Lily glared at Potter.

“This is all your fault!” she said icily.

“It’s not my fault that you don’t know how to take a joke, Evans,” Potter replied, putting a stopper in his vile and turning to take it up front.

 

**********************************


Lupin did not return from the hospital wing Wednesday night, and was not in class on Thursday morning, either. By the time lunch had arrived, Amelia was quite worried, and had decided to talk to Potter and Black and see if they knew what had happened to them. “Come with me,” she was begging Lily and Alice, who were watching her with amusement.

“I won’t!” Lily said, glaring down the table where the two boys sat huddled in conversation with Pettigrew. “If you hadn’t noticed, I don’t cross James Potter’s path unless I’m forced to it.”

“Oh come on, Lily. You might find that they aren’t so bad to talk to when you aren’t yelling at them about their not taking things seriously enough,” she said, pulling on Lily’s arm.

“Fine,” she said casting a look at Alice. “I’ll go, but only if Alice comes with.”

“No problem, mate.” Alice said with a broad smile. “I like Lupin myself. I am a bit worried. If it were only a cold, I’m sure that Pomfrey would have just given him some pepper-up potion and he’d have been better in no time.”

As the three girls approached, Potter, Black and Pettigrew's conversation became audible to them. "If he doesn’t get better soon, he’ll miss Hogsmeade on Saturday!” Black was saying.

“Do you think he’s really sick?” Pettigrew asked anxiously.

“No, I think that Pomfrey was keeping him there because she wanted the company, Pete,” Black replied, a tinge of annoyance in his voice.

“I just don’t understand why she wouldn’t let us see him last night. I’m sure we could have cheered him up!” Potter said with a mischievous smile.

“Excuse me,” Amelia said in a small voice, clearing her throat. The three boys looked up.

“Come to ask me for help in potions, Evans?” Potter said, grinning. “I would, of course, but you see I’m already spending so much time helping you in transfiguration that I barely have time to do my own work as it is.” He gave an exaggerated sigh. “I’d hate to fall behind.”

“That’s enough, Potter,” Alice said sharply. “Lily was doing just fine yesterday until you switched her ingredients out.”

“I wouldn’t have thought that to be a problem for the saintly Miss Evans,” said Black, grinning at Potter. “If she’d prepared properly for class, she’d have known that there’s a simple way to tell the difference between the two before your potion goes spilling all over the floor.” At this point Pettigrew started laughing so hard that he spit pumpkin juice out of his mouth. The girls jumped away in disgust, but Potter and Black just rolled their eyes.

“That’s true,” Potter agreed, with a nod at Black. “You see, Evans, armadillo bile has a very acidic smell to it whereas myrtlap essence smells very sweet. That might even get you a few more points, if you write it in your paper—,”

“Knock it off!” Amelia said harshly, taking Alice and Lily by surprise. “Lily had no reason to suspect that her labels had been switched, because until yesterday, she thought better of you than that, Potter!”

“A mistake I won’t make again,” Lily added with a glare. The grin disappeared from Potter’s face for an instant, and Lily was surprised to see a momentary flash of hurt in his eyes. Or was it hurt? She looked at him again to be sure, but whatever it was had vanished. She had probably imagined it. Why would anything she said hurt Potter?

“Well if you didn’t come over here for help with potions,” Potter was now saying in a voice that indicated he could care less, “what did you want?”

“We came to find out if you knew what’s wrong with Lupin?” Amelia said, flushing again.

“We don’t,” Potter replied, exchanging a glance with Black. “Pomfrey said it was a reaction to the potion antidote, and that he should be back in class today. I don’t know where he’s been all morning.”

“Catching up on his sleep, most likely,” came a third voice. Lupin was now standing beside Amelia, looking haggard and pale, but smiling. "The reaction to the antidote made my feet itch all night. I barely slept at all!"

“Remmy!” Potter said, a relieved smile on his face. “We thought you were going to miss the weekend!” He and Black moved over to make room for Lupin at the table.

“Are you kidding?” Lupin replied, sitting in the space left by Potter and Black. Lily glanced at him in disapproval, but remembering what Amelia had said, she refrained from saying anything. Lupin had the courtesy to flush a little at Lily’s look of disapproval, but added, “I wouldn’t miss it.”

“I’m glad to see you’re feeling better,” Amelia interrupted, smiling at him.

“I’m really sorry about my potion,” Lily added.

“I’m not sure that can be blamed on you,” Lupin responded, looking in Potter’s and Black’s direction.

Potter and Black were quite successful at arranging their faces in to looks of innocence. “I have no idea what you’re talking about, mate,” Black said, but he couldn’t quite conceal the glint in his eye.

“Right,” Lupin said, laughing. “And I suppose the next thing you’re going to tell me is that Potter here found out last night that he’s a werewolf!”

They all laughed, and then Alice said, “Well, now that we know you're okay, we won't keep you. See you in class," and the girls headed out of the great hall, Amelia looking very relieved indeed that Lupin was feeling better.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 6: Detention with Potter


By the time that Friday evening arrived, the weather had taken a turn for the worst, and violent wind was lashing rain against the castle in sheets. At 9:45, Professor McGonagall arrived in the common room to escort Lily and Potter to Professor Figg’s office. She gave them both a look of disapproval before turning to lead them out of the portrait hole into the hall, but said very little, except to remark how surprised she was that it was Lily, and not Black, in detention with Potter that evening. When they arrived at Figg’s office, Figg informed them that the rain had caused a leak on the third floor. The leak had been repaired, but the flooding had left a mess, and Filch had requested the assistance of some students to clean it up. “And you two,” she had said with a smile, “were the lucky students volunteered.”

Potter groaned as she handed them rags, mops and buckets. “And no magic, either,” Figg said to them as they arrived in the hall where the leak had occurred. “Filch will be around to check on the two of you every hour or so,” she advised them before walking away. Lily picked up a mop and set to work; she was determined not to say anything to Potter if she could help it. They worked in silence, and after an hour or so Filch came around to check on them. With a threat to work faster or face more detention, he disappeared. Lily set down her mop and picked up a rag to begin cleaning off a statue of a hump-backed witch.

As she cleaned, she noticed a little crack on the hump, out of which a little ray of light was shining. Potter looked over and noticed her inspecting it. “What’d you find, Evans?” he called, startling Lily. She jumped, and bumped her head on the witch’s arm.

“Ouch!” she said, rubbing her head. Potter laughed. Shhhhh! There’s a crack on the back of this statue over here, and some light shining out.”

Potter’s eyes widened, and he hurried over to where Lily was standing. “Let me see!” He inspected the statue. “You’re right Evans,” he said in excitement. “I think it might be the entrance to a secret passage. But how to get it open?” Lily watched as he tried tapping the witch three times with his wand. “Nope, that’s not it.” Next, he tried tickling it, but again, nothing happened. “Didn’t think that would work, it’s how you get into the kitchen,” he said, apparently talking to himself. Lily stood there in trepidation. She felt like they should be getting back to work, but on the other hand, it was rather funny to watch Potter try to figure this out. He stood back and contemplated the statue for a moment. “Any ideas, Evans?” he asked her finally.

That did it, now he was trying to drag her into this, and she’d had quite enough of detention to last her for a lifetime, thank you very much! “Yes,” she said briskly, “I think that we ought to finish up cleaning, and get back to GryffindorTower.”

Potter stared at her for a moment, apparently horrified at the suggestion, and then let out a groan. “You can’t be serious, Evans! When are we ever going to have an opportunity like this again? The halls are deserted, we’re out of bed legally, and we’ve found a secret passage!” He looked at her with the same pleading look that she had seen him give Andromeda on the first day of classes.

Lily shook her head. “No,” she said, “I’ve gotten into enough trouble because of your little stunt in potions as it is.”

He stared at her for a moment, frustrated. “All right, how’s this,” he said finally. “Just help me get it open right now. If Filch or a teacher comes by, we’ll just tell them we’re cleaning it, and once we know how to open it, Sirius and I will explore it later.”

Lily wasn’t sure what to do. On the one hand, she was extremely curious about the source of the light, but on the other hand, she didn’t want to get caught and end up with a week’s worth of detentions, either. Of course, Filch had just been by a few minutes ago, so he wasn’t due back for awhile, and they had yet to see a teacher in the hall. Oh why not? She was allowed to have a little fun, wasn’t she? What could it hurt. Lily nodded her head slowly, “Okay,” she said, and Potter let out a quiet shout of excitement. “Shhhh—you’re going to bring Filch back here if you keep that up!” she admonished him. “All right, I think I remember reading something once about a charm that forces a statue to reveal if it’s a magical doorway or not.”

Potter rolled his eyes. “You read something once?” he asked in derision. “You’re even making this boring, Evans!”

Lily glared at him. “Do you want my help or don’t you?” she asked.

Potter’s eyes were now dancing with excitement. “Go on, then,” he replied.

“Give me a second,” Lily said, closing her eyes and trying to remember where she had run across the proper charm. “Hang on, I’ve got it!” she said, and she pulled out her wand. She tapped the witch on her arm and said “dissendium”, but nothing happened. Potter looked crestfallen.

“Any other ideas?” he said.

“I’m not done yet, hang on,” Lily responded, glancing at the witch thoughtfully. “I wonder if I tapped it in the right place?” She tapped the head and repeated dissendium, but again nothing happened.

“Try tapping it near the crack,” Potter suggested.

“Good idea,” Lily said, tapping the hump. Dissendium!” To their surprise, the statue creaked, and an opening appeared in the hump, just large enough for them to fit into. The light had been coming from a lantern, but the gust of wind created by the hump opening up had extinguished it.

Potter’s eyes widened. “You’re a genius, Evans,” he said, grinning. “Now it’s time to call for reinforcements,” he added, pulling what looked like a mirror out of his robes.

“What do you mean, reinforcements?” Lily asked suspiciously, but Potter didn’t answer. He was whispering “James to Sirius,” into the mirror. She looked over his shoulder, but to her surprise, rather than seeing Potter's reflection, as she had expected, Black's head had just appeared.

“Take you long enough, Jamesy?” Black asked with a smile. “What did you find?”

“I’ll tell you when you get down here. Get my cloak—it’s in the trunk. And bring Pete and Remmy, too,” Potter answered him. “They won’t want to miss this!”

Black shook his head. “No way. They’ve been asleep for nearly an hour, and last time I tried to wake Remus up, he nearly bit my head off. I think I’ll let them sleep.”

“Well, just you then!” Potter said in excitement. “Hurry! We don’t have a lot of time until Filch comes back again.”

“I’m already out the door,” Black said, his head disappearing from the mirror.

Lily was now glaring at Potter in disgust. “You said you and Sirius would explore it later.”

Potter looked up at her in surprise, as if he had forgotten that she was there. “When did I say that?” he asked, pulling out his wand and muttering lumos. A beam of light like a flashlight appeared at the tip. He held his wand inside the hump, trying to see where the passage led.

“A few minutes ago,” Lily reminded him, “just before I agreed to help you, remember?”

Nox,” he mumbled, putting his wand back inside his robes. He turned to face Lily. “Then it looks like I’m a man of my word, Evans. If I said that a few minutes ago, then by all accounts, when Sirius gets here and we start exploring, it will definitely be later than from when I said it.”

Lily glared at him, furious. “You’re unbelievable, Potter,” she said, her eyes narrowing in anger. “You know that I can holler for Filch the minute you two disappear down that hump?” she asked hotly.

Potter cocked his head at her, his eyes sparkling in amusement. “You could,” he agreed, nodding. “But you won’t.”

Lily bristled. “And just what makes you so sure of that?” she snapped.

“Because you’ll be coming with us,” he said, as though he were explaining something to a small child.

“I most certainly am not!” she responded.

“You are coming with us,” he repeated, “because if you stay here, and Filch comes by, you’ll have to explain how Sirius and I got the passage open. And you’re a terrible liar, Evans. He’d know in a second that you weren’t telling the truth if you say that Sirius or I did it.”

Lily gaped at him. He was right, of course. She was a terrible liar. Potter’s face split into a grin as he saw that she wasn’t going to argue. “You’re in this with us, Evans,” he said with a laugh. “You may as well try to enjoy it!”


Lily went back to mopping while they waited for Black to arrive. She was still furious with Potter for misleading her as he had, and for making it so that she had no choice but to go with him on this little escapade, but she was starting to feel a little excited, too. She peered down the hall, trying to catch a glimpse of Black, and let out a yelp. Black was in front of her. Or at least, his head was. Her eyes widened as the rest of him appeared and she saw him holding something silvery that was almost liquid-like in appearance. “How did you? What is…?” She stared at him in amazement.

Black grinned. “An invisibility cloak, Evans,” he said, tossing it to Potter, who caught it easily. “Belonged to Jamesy’s Dad. He was kind enough to pass it on to James to assist him in, err…making the most of his educational experience,” he explained.

James laughed. “Mum doesn’t know, though,” he said. “She’d have dad’s hide if she found out.”

Black was now peering down the opening in the witch’s hump. “Amazing, mate,” he said, “and Evans actually helped you with this?” He looked at Lily in admiration.

“Yeah,” Potter said, looking not at all pleased to give any credit to Lily. “Let’s get going.” Potter headed toward the statue.

“Just a minute,” Lily said, pulling out her wand. “Scourgify!” she said, flicking her wand. The mess from the flood immediately disappeared, and as she gave her wand another flick, the brooms, buckets and rags all piled themselves neatly against the wall. “So if Filch comes back and we’re not here, he’ll think we were finished for the night,” she explained.

Black gave Lily another look of appreciation. “You’re starting to think like a marauder,” he said.

Potter cast a glare at Black. “If you knew how to do that all along, why were you doing it the muggle way?” he asked in disbelief. He sounded annoyed, but Lily saw a glimmer of admiration in his eyes

“Because Figg said no magic,” Lily explained, blushing. “But since we’re already facing a month’s worth of detentions if we’re caught for this, I figured what’s one more broken rule?”

Potter shook his head with a grin. “You’re full of surprises, Evans,” he said, disappearing through the opening in the witch’s hump.

Potter called out for them to follow, so Black went through the opening, followed by Lily. She fell a short distance before landing with a thud beside Potter and Black. The witch’s hump began to close, cutting off their only source of light. All three pulled out their wands and muttered lumos. Instantly, three beams of light snaked through the darkness, and she could see Potter’s and Black’s faces shining with excitement. Potter motioned for the other two to follow him. “What’s a marauder, anyway?” Lily asked as they set off down the tunnel. She felt more nervous than she had before her first flying lesson.

“What?” Potter asked.

“A marauder,” Lily said again. “Black said earlier that I was starting to think like a marauder. What did he mean?”

Black and Potter both smiled. “Sirius, Peter, Remus and I have decided to call ourselves the marauders,” Potter explained. “We think the name goes along with our vow to break rules, skive off classes, plunder the kitchens, and otherwise cause trouble during our time at Hogwarts.”

“It’s a compliment, Evans,” Black added.

“Oh,” Lily said, startled to find that she felt pleased by this. “Lupin has vowed to skive off classes?” she asked, surprised a little.

Black laughed. “Remmy? Never. We told him that we would let him out of that part of the vow because we need someone to take notes for us anyway.”

“What?” Potter said, now looking closely at Lily. “No lecture? You’re disappointing me, Evans.”

Lily ignored him and kept walking. Potter and Black began talking excitedly, making bets on where the tunnel was leading. She felt something flit across her foot, and suppressed a yelp, but her wandlight revealed that it was only a rat. They walked for quite some time before finally reaching a set of staircases. At the top of the stairs was a trap door, which they opened. Potter whispered that he would go first, and let them know if it was safe. “If not,” he whispered quietly, “take the invisibility cloak and get out of here. There’s no reason we should all get in trouble.”

He opened the door and disappeared from view. A few minutes later, his head poked back down, and he called them up. They both hauled themselves up into what appeared to be a cellar of sorts. There were boxes piled everywhere with names like “Honeydukes Fine Chocolate” and “Drooble’s Best Blowing Gum”.

“Do you know where we are, mate?” Black asked excitedly. Potter and Lily both shrugged. “This has to be Honeydukes. I thought when we were walking that we were heading toward Hogsmeade.” He saw an open crate filled with lollies, and grabbed a bag.

“Black!” Lily said sharply. “Set that down. I won’t be a part of stealing, too!”

“Relax, Evans,” Potter said with a grin. “Siri will pay them for it.”

Black looked surprised, but pulled out a sickle and set it beside the now open bag of lollies. “Better?” he asked, twirling the lolly in his mouth.

“We’d better get back,” Potter said, heading toward the trap door. “This’ll come in handy, that’s for sure. We won’t have to try and squish all four of us under that invisibility cloak next weekend!” He once again disappeared, and Black and Lily followed. By Lily’s estimation, they were about half way back to Hogwarts when they heard voices coming toward them. “Quick,” Potter said, pulling out his invisibility cloak and motioning toward the other two. They slipped underneath the invisibility cloak just as three figures emerged around the corner a few hundred yards ahead of them.


Lily stood completely still, barely breathing. Her heart was thumping so loudly in her chest that she was certain it would give away their presence in the passageway. Although light spilled out from the ends of the wands of each of the three figures making their way toward them, she couldn’t make out their faces. She could, however, hear what they were saying; their voices carried easily in the empty tunnel. “Why did you have to steal it from Dumbledore?” the short, stocky one on the right asked in a deep voice that sounded almost like a grunt.

“Because Dumbledore owns the only remaining copy of the book, you idiot!” the taller one in the center said, his voice mocking. “Do you think you can just walk into Fluorish and Blotts and buy an ancient book like this?”

Shhhh, Victor! Lucius!” the third one said, and from the voice, Lily guessed that she was a female. “Don’t talk about this here. We might be overheard.”

“Who’s going to overhear us, Narcissa dear?” the tall one asked. So the girl was Narcissa Black, Andromeda’s sister, Lily thought to herself, wondering what in the world they were doing down there. She heard Black let out a breath that sounded more like a hiss. “Even Filch doesn’t know about this passage. And by the time that Dumbledore notices that the book is missing from his collection, the Dark Lord will already have it, and I’ll have proven my loyalty and worth to serve him in his noble quest.” Lily felt a shiver run down her spine. Dark Lord? Could this be the same dark lord that was responsible for the disappearances, and the death of the auror? And what book? What was it for?

“What’s the book got in it?” the one on the right asked, echoing Lily’s thoughts.

“If the Dark Lord felt that you were fit to know, Crabbe, I’m sure that you would have been informed of it,” the tall one said. Crabbe. There had been a Crabbe sorted into Slytherin this year. Lily wondered briefly if this were his brother.

The three were drawing nearer now, and Lily could finally see their faces. The girl called Narcissa had blond hair, hazel eyes, and would have been pretty if not for the look on her face that made it appear as though she had recently sniffed something unpleasant. The tall one in the center had a pointy face, long blond hair, and piercing blue eyes. He was wearing a sneer on his face similar to the one that his shorter, dark-haired side-kick was sporting. Lily recognized the taller one to be one of the Slytherin prefects, and was nearly certain that he was the one that Narcissa had called Lucius. The third one, Crabbe, was now glaring at Lucius. Lily watched in trepidation as the three passed in front of them. “How do you know he doesn’t consider me fit, Malfoy?” Crabbe asked, stopping a few yards past where Lily, Potter and Black stood huddled under the cloak.

Malfoy laughed. “You think that you’re fit, Crabbe?” he asked derisively. Crabbe nodded. “Very well then,” Malfoy said, pulling a large ancient book from his robes. “If you want to know what it is, read it yourself.” He flipped the book open, and handed it to Crabbe. As he did so, a page came loose, and fluttered soundlessly to the ground inches away from where they were standing. Lily held her breath, watching them, certain that one of them would notice, but all three were now peering at the book, oblivious to the piece of parchment laying a few feet behind them. Lily gently lifted the invisibility cloak and placed it over the parchment, which disappeared from view.

“What language is this written in?” Crabbe asked stupidly.

“Ancient elvish,” Malfoy replied. “The only wizards remaining who can read it are Dumbledore and the Dark Lord himself. And only those that can read it are fit to know what it is.”

“So you don’t even know?” Crabbe asked, as they began walking again.

“No!” Malfoy snapped. “And I don’t need to know. I am a servant of the Dark Lord, and when he gives me a task, I carry it out for him.”

At this, Narcissa laughed. “Your father is the servant, not you Lucius. And your father asked you to retrieve this for the Dark Lord.”

“The Dark Lord has promised to reward my father by making me one of his servants, if I successfully retrieve this, and bring it to him.” Malfoy snapped the book shut, and placed it back in its hiding place in his robes. “But perhaps you’re right, Narcissa,” Lucius said suddenly. “It’s best not to discuss this here. I suddenly feel as though we’re being watched.” Lily’s heart sped up as his glance passed over the spot where they were standing, but he turned and began walking again. “Let’s go. The dark lord is waiting.”

Malfoy, Crabbe and Narcissa began to walk quickly. Lily, Potter and Black remained under the cloak for what felt like an eternity after the Slytherins had disappeared, not daring to move. When they were finally sure that the three must have ascended into the cellar at Honeydukes, they slipped out from underneath the cloak, and Lily quickly bent down to retrieve the piece of parchment that had broken free.


Lily, Black and Potter stood staring at the parchment in silence for a moment, as if willing it to make sense to them. “We’ve got to tell Dumbledore!” Lily said, looking up. “He’ll need to know that the Dark Lord, whoever he is, is trying to get the book, whatever it is.”

To her surprise, Black and Potter both started shaking their heads. “We can’t, Evans,” Potter said quickly.

“Dumbest idea you’ve ever had,” Black agreed.

“What?” she asked, surprised and a little offended. “We have to let him know! If this is the dark lord that Alice’s grandpa is talking about, he’s already—,” she broke off, realizing that they had no idea what she was talking about, as they had not read Alice’s grandpa’s letter. She stared at them, trying to think of something to say. “Why not?” she said finally.

They both looked at each other in amazement. “So much for thinking like a marauder,” Black said, laughing. “I’m disappointed in you, Evans.”

“Likewise,” Potter said, nodding his head in agreement.

“But why can’t we tell him?” Lily tried again, frustrated that they seemed unwilling to share their reasoning with her.

“Because,” Potter said slowly, as though the answer was obvious and she was being deliberately difficult. “If we tell Dumbledore, we’d have to explain how we know about the book.”

“And that would entail telling him that we were exploring a secret passage when you two were supposed to be in detention, and I was supposed to be in Gryffindor tower,” Black added.

Lily stared at them dumbfounded. “But if this book is going to help whomever it was they were talking about, we can’t let him get it!” she said, a note of panic in her voice. A month’s worth of detentions seemed a small price to pay, in her mind, to prevent the rise of a dark lord. “Dumbledore has to know. He defeated the last dark wizard! He’ll know what to do.” They shook their heads again, Potter’s hair falling into his eyes as he did so. To her surprise, neither one seemed as upset as she was feeling.

“What good would it do us to tell him, Evans?” Potter finally asked. “All we know for sure is that he wants this book. We don’t have any information other than that. We don’t know why he wants it or who he is—”

“—Or if he’s really even a dark wizard, or if Malfoy’s just spouting off to impress Narcissa—”

“—And even if they really are taking it to a dark wizard, and Dumbledore could figure out why he wanted it, we still don’t know where they were going—,”

“—Not to mention that by the time we find Dumbledore, this dark wizard will already have the book, so even if he could find the meeting place, it would be too late. All the wizard has to do is disapparate once Dumbledore appears—,”

“—And Dumbledore’s not even an auror, so even if he doesn’t disapparate, who knows if he’d even have the power to detain him—,”

“—So what’s Dumbledore going to do besides give us detention?” Black finished.

Lily had been staring back and forth between the two of them. They had made a good point, but she still felt like they ought to tell someone. “Yeah, but—,” she began.

“No, Evans.” Potter said firmly. “It just doesn’t make sense. There’s no time to argue now—we don’t know when the Slytherins will be back. Let’s go.” Potter draped the cloak around his body, so that only his head remained visible. “Come on, we should probably walk under this so that if they do come back, they don’t see us.”

“Fine,” Lily snapped, putting the page from the book carefully into a pocket in her robe. She and Black slipped under the cloak, and they started to head back to Hogwarts. Lily was now thoroughly annoyed with both boys. She wasn’t completely convinced that it was best not to tell Dumbledore, but she felt as though she didn’t have any choice, anyway. If she tried to tell him, Potter and Black would just deny it, and she’d end up with more detention. Still, she felt certain that they should tell someone; she had just suggested Dumbledore because he’d been the first wizard that had come to mind. But what about an auror? Alice’s grandpa would want to know, certainly. She decided to suggest this to the boys. “What if I tell Alice’s grandpa?” she said as they were walking back toward Hogwarts. “He’s an auror, and he’s been warning Alice for months that there have been suggestions of dark magic appearing all over.”

Potter and Black paused. “Not a bad idea, Evans,” Potter said, thoughtfully. “That way somebody who can actually do something about it knows—”

“—and we stay out of trouble,” Black finished. “I take back what I said about you not thinking like a marauder, Evans. That’s inspired. I’ll lend you my owl to send the letter. We can get it off first thing in the morning.”

“Thanks,” Lily said, the knowledge that an auror would be alerted to the situation making her feel immeasurably better. When they arrived back at Gryffindor tower, she said good night and headed up to the dormitory, where she found her roommates fast asleep. Lily didn’t feel tired, so she pulled out a piece of parchment and wrote a letter to Alice’s grandpa. When she was satisfied with what she had written, she laid down in bed, thinking about everything that had happened that evening. “I even got along with Potter and Black,” she thought, surprised to find that she was happy about this.

 

*********************************


When she awoke the next morning, Lily immediately filled Alice and Amelia in on what had happened during detention the previous night. Both were jealous that she had been on an adventure like that without them, but while Lily had to admit that there were parts of it that she had enjoyed, on the whole, she wished that she had been back in the common room with her friends. The three headed downstairs. When they arrived at the common room, the found it deserted except for Black and Potter. She saw that Black was holding an eagle owl on his arm. “Do you have the letter ready?” he asked, as Lily approached. She pulled it out of the pocket in her robes and held it up. “Good, good. Snuffles is ready for a flight. I haven’t had much use for him since my mum sent that howler.”

Alice started giggling. “Snuffles?” she asked him.

“Yeah, Snuffles,” he said, blushing. Lily was surprised. She didn’t think she’d ever see Black get embarrassed.

“Why Snuffles?” she asked out of curiosity.

He turned even redder. “I’ve always wanted a dog,” he mumbled, shrugging as all four started laughing.

“I think it’s cute,” Lily said, attaching the letter to the owl’s leg, and scratching it on the head. The owl hooted softly, then lazily stretched its wings, and flew out the window.

They all watched until it had disappeared, and then Potter, who had been gazing at Alice and Amelia as though trying to gauge whether or not they knew about last night’s adventure, and more importantly, how likely they were to tell a prefect or a professor, suddenly spoke, “Do these two know?” he asked.

“Of course they know!” Lily said, somewhat defensively. “I had to tell Alice to find out how to reach her grandpa, and Amelia won’t say anything.” The two girls nodded their heads in agreement.

Potter looked at both appraisingly, and then nodded his head slowly. “See that you don’t. We’ve told Alice’s grandpa. There’s no need to inform Dumbledore.” At this, he gazed piercingly at Lily. “Understand?”

Lily’s good feelings toward Potter from last night suddenly vanished. She felt her temper flaring again. “I’ll keep our deal, Potter! We agreed to inform Alice’s grandpa. If he chooses to tell Dumbledore, so be it.”

Sirius looked alarmed. “You did tell him not to mention where he got the information, didn’t you?”

“Of course I did,” Lily said, annoyed. “I’m not a complete idiot like the two of you.”

Black glared at her, but didn’t say anything. To her surprise, Potter grinned. “Glad to see last night hasn’t changed you any, Evans. Wouldn’t want you to like us just because you happened to be there when we had an adventure to carry out!”

Black laughed, “You’re right, Jamesy. Who would let us know when we were going to do something that would get us into trouble if Evans here decided that she liked us!” Potter nodded, and started walking toward the portrait hole.

“Good point, Siri. I never thought of that. We definitely need her around to warn us. Come on,” Potter called, beckoning as he headed toward the portrait hole. “Remmy and Petey will be waiting for us!”

Lily stood there, fuming as the two boys disappeared. A part of her had hoped that she’d be able to get along with the two of them now, because it would have made school a lot easier for her, but she could see that that wasn’t going to happen. Alice shrugged. “Back to life as usual, then” she said with a small smile.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 7: Halloween at Hogwarts


The storm the Friday night that she and Potter had had detention had marked the end of summer at Hogwarts. The days were now filled with overcast skies and a cold drizzling rain that was often accompanied by bone-chilling wind. Flying lessons were now everybody’s least favorite class, although Madam Alipes was always kind enough to conjure up a warming fire for them. Everyone was improving at a steady pace, and Madam Alipes had told them that they might start playing some pick-up Quidditch during the period. Potter had beamed when Alipes had remarked that she had never done anything like that before, but felt that Potter would be a shoo-in for the Gryffindor house team next year, and she wanted to give him as much practice as possible.

Flying lessons weren’t the worst class, however. Transfiguration hadn’t gotten any easier for Lily. Potter and Black were consistently the first in the class to correctly perform the given transfiguration, although Lily was never able to figure out how, given that they never appeared to study. The other classes were no picnic, either. In Potions, she now had to constantly double check both her ingredients, and her cauldron, as she had found it laced with salamander blood one day, which would have caused her potion to erupt like a volcano if she hadn’t caught it. In Charms, after they had learned a simple knotting charm, Potter had knotted Lily’s shoelaces to her desk. It had taken her fifteen minutes to work out the countercharm, and she had been late for Defense Against the Dark Arts, costing Gryffindor 5 points. The only time that she ever got a break from their near constant harassment was when Snape was around, and that hardly made Lily feel better. Unlike Lily, however, Snape wasn’t taking their teasing lying down, and was as likely to fight back with a jinx if a teacher wasn’t around as Lily was to fight back with words. So far, she knew that he had succeeded on putting the jelly-legs curse on Black, and since nobody knew the countercurse, he wobbled around for an hour in the common room until Lupin had looked it up; and Snape had also succeeded in leg-locking Potter. Lily couldn’t help but feel a little satisfaction every time she saw Potter and Black suffering the effects of a well-placed hex by Snape, but all the same she disapproved of the actions of both parties. Still, as far as she could see, Snape would leave them alone if they’d do him the same courtesy. It had worked with Bellatrix, after all. She had baited Alice for weeks after their initial encounter, but when Alice refused to rise, she had given up, and gone back to simply glaring every time they went by. Lily had tried to tell the boys that on several occasions, but they had just laughed at her.

Of course the weekend following the Hogsmeade weekend, the boys had stopped talking to Lily altogether, but the reason they weren't talking to her made her feel worse. The marauders had succeeded in sneaking down to Hogsmeade, and came back with pockets stuffed full of candy from Honeydukes, dung bombs, and Fillibusters Fireworks. They, along with several older students, were setting them off in the common room a week later when Joshua McKinnon had come storming down from the boy’s dormitory. He quickly told the third years to knock it off, then noticed the fireworks in the hands of the marauders. “And where did the four of you get these?” McKinnon had asked.

Hogsmeade, where else?” Lily had said disdainfully to her friends. Or at least, she had meant it to be for Alice’s and Amelia’s ears only. Unfortunately, the common room had gotten so quiet with Joshua’s arrival that he was able to overhear her.

He strode over quickly. “Did they go into Hogsmeade?” McKinnon demanded.

Lily, who had always been a terrible liar, was unable to come up with any explanation for what she had said. Joshua had ended up telling the four boys that as punishment for going into Hogsmeade illegally, they would not be able to attend the first Quidditch match of the year between Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff. They had all been furious at her, of course, even Lupin. None of them would listen when she had tried to convince them that she hadn’t meant to get them into trouble, either, although Lupin had told Amelia that Potter and Black didn’t really hate Lily, they were just very angry. He had finally started talking to her again when he’d arrived back from a weekend visiting his grandmother.

While she appreciated the break in the constant teasing, the fact that the boys were not talking to her seemed to cause more problems than it solved. Even with all of his teasing, Potter had been a great help to her in Transfiguration, and she was now struggling without his assistance. She had also been hoping to talk with them about the piece of parchment that had fallen out of the book that the Slytherins had been taking to the dark wizard. The parchment was now hiding in the bottom drawer of her desk in the dormitory, as unreadable as ever. Lily wanted to figure out what it was about, but couldn't think of any ideas save asking Dumbledore. They also hadn't heard anything back from Alice's grandpa, and while she knew that Black was getting a little worried about Snuffles, he didn't say anything to her.

And so, October slipped away quickly, until Halloween arrived at last. As Lily was preparing to go down to the Great Hall with Alice and Amelia, she noticed the four marauders huddled with Frank Longbottom at a table in the common room, apparently planning something. Potter, Black and Longbottom all looked excited, Lupin looked apprehensive, and Pettigrew was so gleeful that he actually fell off of his chair twice, laughing, as Lily watched. Lily couldn’t hear most of their conversation, but at one point, she heard Frank say, “My mum wears a tall hat with a stuffed vulture on top!” and Potter wrote something down. The five then burst into laughter. Alice tugged Lily on the arm, and as she crawled out of the common room after Alice and Amelia, she made a mental note to keep an eye on the boys, wondering apprehensively as she did so what, exactly, they had been planning.


Lily looked around in wonder as they entered the Great Hall. The usual house banners and school decorations were gone. In their place were cackling witches that looked like muggles believed witches to look, with green faces, long noses and warts, hissing black cats, glaring goblins (again looking as muggles picture them), and glowing jack-o-lanterns. The Hogwarts’ ghosts were swooping around, performing some sort of ballet in the air above the tables, and a handful of students were clustered around a coat of armor that had been bewitched to tell ghost stories. The three girls walked over to the Gryffindor table, and sat down next to Kaylie and Desdamona. Shortly after they had arrived, Dumbledore stood up, welcomed all of the students, and said “Let the feast begin!” With that, the platters in front of them filled with food. There were the usual dishes, like lamb chops and steak and kidney pie, but mainly, the tables were filled with candies and pastries of every description imaginable. Lily bit into one piece of pie and was amazed to find that it tasted like watermelon. Amelia was ecstatic when she saw that among the wizarding candies were muggle favorites such as lemon drops and candy corn.

After she had filled her plate and started eating, Lily looked around the hall and realized that the four Marauders were absent. Frank, however, had arrived sometime earlier, wearing a smug grin, and acting stubbornly innocent when questioned about what the five boys had been planning in the common room. “Nothing, Evans,” he said, his eyes wide. “You always think the worst of Potter and Black! Do you think I’d be in on anything like that?” She had let it go, feeling it was worthless. And besides, Frank had a point. Lily did like him quite a bit, and thought that he would probably have stopped Black and Potter if what they were doing was going to cause too much trouble.

At that moment, the four house ghosts came together at the front of the hall, and began to tell a story of how muggles celebrate Halloween. Most of the hall listened intently, but because Lily knew the muggle-rituals for celebrating Halloween quite well after 10 years of celebrating it as a muggle herself, she whispered to Alice and Amelia that she was going to find out where the boys were. Alice wanted to come along, but Amelia wanted to stay and listen to the ghosts. Lily and Alice stood up quietly and quickly made their way to the door. With a last glance at the teachers’ table to make sure that all of the teachers were still sitting up there, they slipped out into the hallway.

Lily began to head toward GryffindorTower, but Alice tugged on her robes, and pointed into a room off of the main entry. “Listen,” she said quietly.

Lily listened, and heard the sound of muffled laughter coming from the room. “Come on,” she said, creeping toward the door. Alice followed. When they arrived, she put a finger to her lips, unnecessarily motioning for Alice to be quiet. They both put their ears against the door, listening intently. The heard some banging, an occasional quiet yell, and laughter that definitely belonged to the four Marauders. “Let’s go in,” Lily whispered. Alice’s eyes opened in shock.

“Have you gone mad?” she whispered back. “What are we going to do? We don’t even know if they’re just goofing off, or if they’re really causing trouble.”

Lily tried to convince her, but Alice insisted on trying to figure out what was going on from their position in the entrance hall, so Lily put her ear back to the door and heard, “I think he’s ready!” The door burst open, and she and Alice just had time to jump out of the way before Snape walked, or rather hopped, out, apparently having been hit with a leg-locker and arm-binding hex. The fact that he was hopping, however, was not the funniest thing about his appearance. He was dressed in emerald green robes with a lacy collar, a string of pearls was hanging around his neck, his fingernails had been bewitched to flash back and forth between red and gold, a hand bag was knotted around his wrist, and on his head sat a tall witch’s hat with a stuffed vulture on top. Alice and Lily stared at him, momentarily frozen by their shock.

 

Snape was glaring at them malevolently. “Someone unlock me!” he spat.

Lily pulled out her wand, trying to remember the countercurse that would unbind Snape’s legs. She had seen Lupin perform it on Potter when Snape had hit him, but couldn’t remember the wand movement off hand. At that moment, the doors to the Great Hall opened, and students began pouring out. To a man, they all stopped and stared at the scene in front of them: Snape dressed as a witch, and Lily with her wand pointing at him. Most of the students started laughing, including the group of Slytherins that Snape normally hung around with. Professor McGonagall pushed her way to the front to find out what was going on, and her lips tightened in anger. “Everybody back to your dormitories!” she snapped, muttering the countercurse to release Snape. He stumbled as his legs were freed, and when his arms were unbound, he immediately threw down the handbag, tore off the necklace and hat, and began climbing out of the robes. The crowd began to disperse, and Lily saw that the four Marauders had slipped out of the room off the hall without McGonagall noticing, and were now heading up the stairs with the rest of the Gryffindors. McGonagall finished assisting Snape, then turned to glare at Lily, who was still standing there with her wand up. “What is the meaning of this, girls?” she sputtered. “Never, in all my time at Hogwarts! I suppose you thought it was funny—,” but Snape interrupted her.

“It wasn’t them,” he snapped, rolling his shoulders as he walked around, stretching out his legs.

McGonagall turned her attention to Snape. “Then who was responsible?” she asked them.

“They wouldn’t know,” Snape said, rubbing his wrists. “They just happened to stumble upon me.”

Do you know, then?” she asked, now looking at Snape.

“Yes.”

“Well,” McGonagall prompted. “Aren’t you going to tell me?”

Snape glared at the two girls, and then looked back at McGonagall. “No,” he said softly, his eyes full of venom. McGonagall was quite taken aback, but, unable to convince Snape to give her a name, reluctantly told the three of them to get to their dormitories.

“I’d have thought Snape would be thrilled to get the Marauders into trouble,” Lily said to Alice as they walked toward the staircase. “Wonder why he didn’t say anything?”

“Maybe he didn’t want to admit in front of us that Potter and Black got the best of him,” Alice said with a shrug. “He had no way of knowing that we’d overheard anything.”

Lily nodded. “Or maybe he wants to get them back himself,” she offered. “I’d be careful if I were the two of them.”

“According to Frank, he knows a lot worse curses than a leg-locker or jelly-legs jinx,” Alice agreed. “Frank says that he knows more about the dark arts than a lot of the seventh years studying to become aurors.”

“Wouldn’t surprise me,” Lily agreed thoughtfully. “I mean, given the group he hangs out with. We know from Andy that Bellatrix is into that type of thing, and I wouldn’t put anything past that LeStrange character.”

“And he’s always sitting with Malfoy at dinner, too. And we know that he’s supposedly working for a dark lord.”

“Speaking of that,” Lily said as they turned the corner and arrived in front of the fat lady, “have you gotten back anything from your Grandpa yet?”

Alice shook her head. “No, and it’s not looking too good. I guess Snuffles gave up on waiting for a response, too. Black told me yesterday that he arrived back at Hogwarts last night.”

“Too bad, it’d be nice if we knew what he thinks about—,” they looked up as they heard a huff from the fat lady.

“I suppose I’ll just sit here all night, waiting for the two of you to finish your conversation then.” she said angrily. “It’s not as though I have any Halloween parties to be attending!”

“Sorry,” Lily mutter, “Aprasio, then” and the fat lady swung open to let them in. Upon entering the common room, they found that all of Gryffindor house seemed to be talking about what had happened with Snape. One of the Marauders had apparently snapped a picture before they had pushed him into the hall, because an enlarged Snape was now glaring down at them from the walls. The Marauders were accepting congratulations in the corner, and some fifth years were handing out butterbeers and candy to anyone that wanted them. Potter and Black got up as soon as they spotted Lily and Alice come in.

“I want to thank you two for not giving us over to McGonagall,” Potter said, holding out his hand to shake. Lily ignored it.

“Oh come on Evans,” Potter said, his eyes twinkling. “We were just helping Snape to get into the Halloween spirit.”

“That’s right,” Black agreed. “We just wanted to show him how much fun the muggles have dressing up for Halloween.”

“So I suppose you think it’s funny, then?” Alice said, by way of reply.

“Hysterical,” Black corrected. “And yes, it is. We made Snape look like a fool in front of the entire school.”

“And we got away with it! What could be better?” Potter and Black clinked their butterbeer bottles together.

Lily just glared. “I want to know what Snape did to deserve that humiliation?”

“He showed his ugly face at Hogwarts, Evans,” Potter said with a smirk.

“I quite agree,” Black added. “That’s the only crime necessary, really.”

Lily snorted in disgust and turned toward Lupin and Pettigrew, who were now making their way over to them. “I’m not surprised at the two of them,” Lily snapped as they came to a halt in front of her. “But I expected more of the two of you.” Lupin had the courtesy to flush, and Pettigrew again looked scared, but neither one apologized. Quite the contrary, Lupin muttered something about how Snape deserved it for other reasons than being ugly, and Pettigrew added that he’d go into it, but Black would probably hex him in his sleep that night if he did. Lily and Alice stared at the four boys, all looking very pleased with themselves.

“You’re very lucky that we didn’t say anything to McGonagall,” Alice said finally, but her voice had lost its ring of anger.

“And we've already thanked you for that,” Black said with a grin. “As you’ll recall.”

“We don’t need your thanks.” Lily shot back. “I just figured that Snape would take care of you himself. You never know, I might even help him!”

Potter’s face turned serious in an instant. “I don’t know why you’re wasting your time defending him, Lily,” he said, looking at her with an intensity she had only seen after the incident with Bellatrix. “He wouldn’t defend you. He’s just like Sirius's cousin, you’re not even fit to study magic in his eyes.”

“Between the two of you," she said to Potter, her tone now icy, “he’s the only one not to have tried to put a spider in my bed, mocked me about my transfiguration, humiliated me in front of all of Gryffindor, floated my telescope around and gotten me extra homework, mixed up my potion ingredients, gotten me detention, laced my cauldron with salamander blood, and knotted my shoes to my desk.”

“That’s not true,” Potter objected. “I didn’t levitate your telescope, Sirius did.”

Black nodded in agreement. Jamesy's right. That was me.”

Lily looked at both of them furiously. “Between the three of you, then,” she said. “He’s been nicer to me than the two of you ever have,” and she stomped so quickly over to where Amelia was sitting by the fireplace that she didn’t see Potter flinch at her words.

“I don’t know why she’s so mad,” she heard Black say to Potter.

“It’s no worse than what we do to Petey,” Potter agreed.

“That's true,” Pettigrew squeaked in agreement. Lily sighed heavily and settled into her chair.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 8:  House Elves


A few weeks after Halloween, the Parker family owl finally arrived with a response from Alice’s grandpa. The three girls decided not to open it in the Great Hall during breakfast, so at lunch when everyone else was going to the Great Hall, they hurried upstairs to GryffindorTower. When they arrived, the common room was deserted so Alice slit open the scroll and Lily and Amelia crowded behind her to read.


Dear Alice and friends,

I never did congratulate you on making Gryffindor, Alice. I was too worried about the news I was passing on in my last letter. Congratulations to you, and to Lily and Amelia. I know Amelia’s family quite well, so I must say that I’m surprised she’s not a Hufflepuff (Amelia snorted) but no matter. It sounds like all three of you are making Gryffindor proud.

If you need to speak to me on anything like this again, please do not put it in a letter. Send a parchment to me with a time for me to speak with you in the fire in your common room, and I will meet you there. We can’t be sure that the dark wizard’s supporters aren’t already trying to intercept mail out of Hogwarts. They’ll know that Dumbledore will be keeping an eye on their actions. Now to the contents of your letter.

I’ve informed Dumbledore that I had a tip about a book being stolen from his private library, and he has confirmed for me that this is indeed the case. The book that was taken seemed particularly worrisome to Dumbledore, but he seemed relieved when I’d told him that a page of it was missing. He inquired which page it was, but I told him that I wasn’t sure, as my source was unable to read the writing. The page missing seemed important, however, so I’m asking you girls to try to figure out which page it is. Perhaps there’s a language charm you could use.

In the meantime, do not speak of what you overheard to anyone. I have the aurors on my team investigating possible links, but officially, the Ministry is to deny that any dark magic is about, and will continue to insist that the auror murder was just a random act, or a blood-hate crime.

As always, take care. I don’t want to hear about any of you finding yourselves down dark passageways with boys again.

Love,
Grandpa Parker

Alice and Amelia started laughing as they finished the letter. “‘Down dark passageways with boys’. Honestly! You’d think you were doing something untoward!” Alice exclaimed, rolling her eyes.

Lily, however, was re-reading the letter. Was there a charm that could turn an ancient language to modern-day English? She hadn’t run across such a charm, but she supposed it was unlikely to be in “The Standard Book of Spells, Grade 1”. It looked as though she, Alice and Amelia would be spending a lot of time in the library for the time being. If the missing page was important, they’d need to find out soon which one it was; and maybe decoding the page would give them some idea about the books contents. Although she was sure that Dumbledore would have told Mr. Parker, he hadn’t mentioned it in his letter.

Lily looked up at Alice and Amelia, who were still giggling about Lily being down “dark passageways with boys” and shook her head. “Come on, you two. We need to get some lunch before class,” and they headed down to the Great Hall.


Lily was still debating whether or not to tell Potter and Black about Mr. Parker’s response when they arrived at the Great Hall to eat, but they weren’t there, nor were they in Charms that afternoon. In fact, Lily didn’t see either one of them again until she got back to the common room that night. The boys had both warmed up to her considerably since Halloween, although Potter and Black seemed to have decided that it was their responsibility to get her to see “the truth” about Snape, as they called it. She had to admit that it was a nice change from the harassment, but as Snape had never done anything to her or her friends, she wasn’t going to start disliking him just because Potter and Black said she should.

When she arrived in the common room from the library (they hadn’t had any luck finding a language charm for ancient languages, although there were plenty for Italian, French and German), the two boys rushed over to her. “How’s it going, Evans?” Potter asked, running his hand through his hair and smiling his most dazzling smile.

“Good,” she said, startled by the greeting.

“Hi boys,” Alice said, then giggled. “We’ll get a table.” She and Amelia then proceeded to walk over to a nearby table and pull their books out. Lily watched them go, and then turned her attention back.

“Good, good,” Black was saying, also smiling widely. “What’d you think about our Charms class today?”

“I noticed you weren’t there,” Lily said suspiciously. “Is there something that the two of you want? You’re never this friendly to me.”

“I’m hurt, Evans,” Potter said, trying to look hurt. He didn’t succeed.

“Are you going to tell me what you want,” Lily asked, “because if not, I’ve got studying to do.”

“You’ve been at the library all night with Alice and Amelia,” Black said, now looking at her suspiciously. “If you haven’t been studying, what have you been up to?”

“I don’t think that’s any of your business,” Lily huffed. “Look, if you aren’t going to tell me what you want, I’m going to get started on the homework Flitwick gave us for Charms.”

“Funny you should mention that, actually,” Potter said, the dazzling smile now fully in place again. “Because we were, erm—detained after lunch, and—,”

Lily cut him off. “Detained?” she asked.

“Well, it was more actually that I was sick,” Black said, now elbowing Potter.

Potter nodded. “Yes, sick. Very sick. And I had to help him to the hospital wing.”

“Did you now? And I wonder, why couldn’t Black here find the way himself?” Their smiles didn't slip.

“Well, you see,” Black said, “I was disoriented. Snape hit me with a—”

Snape!” Lily cut in, her eyes narrowing. “So now you want to borrow my Charms notes because you were busy carrying on your vendetta with Snape?”

Potter looked at Black, his eyes now twinkling. “That sound about right to you, mate?” Potter asked.

“Yeah, that’s about right,” Black concurred, “but in all fairness, he did hex us first this time.”

“The man has a point, Evans,” Potter said, turning to look at Lily, the dazzling smile again in place.

“You two are unbelievable!” Lily said incredulously.

“So, will you?” Black asked eagerly.

“Listen carefully, because I’m only going to say this once. No!” she said, her patience now wearing very thin.

“So will you?” Potter asked this time, again running his hand through his hair and mussing it.

“No!” she said again.

Black smiled. “You said you’d only say it once,” he reminded her.

“Look,” Lily snapped, finally letting her temper get the better of her, “If you two spent half as much time on school work as you do on getting into trouble—”

“But we do spend half as much time,” Black interjected.

“—You’d be the top students in our year!” Lily finished.

“How can we both be top, I wonder?” Potter cut in this time.

“I suppose we could tie,” Black said, grinning at Potter. “But as we don’t spend all of our time studying, unlike Evans here, I guess it must be a mistake that you always receive top marks in Defense Against the Dark Arts.”

“Now that you mention it, Siri, how come you’re always getting top marks in Potions?” Potter added, scratching his chin thoughtfully.

“And as I recall, we’re the top students in Transfiguration.” Black reminded them.

Lily had had enough. “My answer,” she said, dangerously calm, though her eyes still flashed in anger, “is no. If you want to be horsing around all day, hexing Snape in the halls when you’re supposed to be in class, that’s your business, but my notes are not going to be available to aid you! You’ll have to get them from Lupin or Pettigrew!” and she walked over to the table where Alice and Amelia were now working on Charms.

“But Lupin was out today,” she heard Potter whine as she retreated.

“And even Pettigrew can’t read his notes!” Black called.

“Not my problem,” she threw over her shoulder as she opened her book bag and pulled out her notes, realizing for the first time that Lupin had been gone since Sunday afternoon, and wondering briefly where he was.

“What is it with her?” Potter asked.

“Just a guess, mate,” Black responded, “but I’d say she thinks we’re screw-offs.”

Potter shrugged. “Can’t argue with her there,” and they both retreated to where Pettigrew was sitting by the fire.


Later that night, Lily sat in a chair by the fire, trying desperately to stay awake. Amelia and Alice had long since gone upstairs to bed, and the common room was nearly deserted save for a seventh-year couple cuddling in the corner. Lily had stayed up studying for their Transfiguration test. She wanted to be sure that she would receive high marks, as she didn’t want to give Potter and Black yet another reason to tease her. She looked up from her notes and glanced out of a nearby window, admiring the moonlight glinting off the snow. The snow had begun falling earlier that evening, making the castle and its grounds look a bit like a wedding cake draped in white icing. Her gaze then traveled around the common room, marveling at how it had come to feel like a second home to her in such a short period of time. As she looked around, she thought she saw a little head bob past the arm of the oversized chair in which she was sitting. She rubbed her eyes, sure that it had been a trick of the light, and looked over the side of the chair again, jumping when she saw the little creature standing there.

“Pardon me, miss,” the creature said in a squeaky voice. It was wearing a spotlessly clean towel with the Hogwarts crest stamped on it, and was about half the size of Lily, with a round little belly and ears that stuck out from its head in odd angles. Its nose resembled a carrot, its eyes were wide and a glimmering shade of blue, and it was smiling broadly. “There’s usually no one up at this hour, miss,” the creature said, “Alfie did not mean to startle you.” Alfie bowed politely.

Lily was still staring at the creature. “Oh, no. Sorry, it’s…it’s quite all right. I—I’ve never seen you around before,” she said finally.

“We house elves isn’t supposed to intrude upon students when they is studying, miss,” Alfie responded. “’Tis the mark of a good house elf if their work is noticed, but they is not, miss.”

“House elves?” Lily said. “What, err…well, if you don’t mind my asking, what is a house elf?”

Alfie blinked at her, his shining eyes growing wider. “Alfie is a house elf, miss.”

Lily smiled. “No, I meant… Never mind. And what do you do here, Alfie?”

“We takes care of the students, miss. There are hundreds of us. We do the cooking, tend to the fires, make the beds, do the laundry. There is a lot of work to be done at Hogwarts, miss, and the house elves is the ones that Dumbledore trusts to do it.”

“Oh,” Lily said, wondering why it had never occurred to her to wonder how all of these chores would have gotten done without house elves. “Well, I won’t keep you from your work.” She stood up and picked up her books. “I’m Lily Evans, by the way. It’s very nice to meet you, Alfie.”

“You too, miss,” Alfie said, bowing again.

At that moment, the portrait hole opened, and Lupin crawled in. He had a gash on his forehead, and his hand was wrapped in a bandage. “Hi Lupin,” Lily said, concern creasing her face as she noticed his disheveled appearance. “Are you okay? What happened?” She rushed over to where he was standing.

He looked up, startled. “Oh, hi Lily,” he said, trying belatedly to hide his hand underneath his robes, which also looked torn. “This? Oh, it was nothing. Just ran into some, I mean—,” he paused. “You know what? I’m awfully tired. I think I need to get to bed.”

Feeling slightly off-balance, she gazed at him. “You ought to see Madam Pomfrey,” she said, now feeling anxious.

“No, no, I’ll be fine. Really. I think I just need some sleep. Goodnight.” And he turned and walked toward the staircase. As he did so, the firelight caught his hair, and she noticed that it looked like it was graying slightly, but before she could be sure, he disappeared from view. “Goodnight,” she called after him, and then headed upstairs to her room, pondering Lupin’s odd behavior, and the little creature that she had run into in the common room. It was cute, but somehow it hadn’t looked anything like what she had pictured an elf to look. In truth, she was a little startled to find out that elves even existed, let alone that they were working at Hogwarts. As she closed her eyes and tried to fall asleep, she wondered vaguely if muggle legends of elves had originated from encounters with magical house elves.


***********************************************


“Well of course there are,” Amelia said, helping herself to a piece of toast. They were sitting at breakfast the next morning, and Lily had just related her encounter with Alfie to Alice and Amelia.

Alice nodded. “Helpful little buggers, they are. We have one, but Mum feels guilty making him do anything. She says it’s too much like slavery. I always have him clean my room for me, though.”

Amelia stared at Alice. “You have a house elf?” she asked, a hint of jealousy in her voice. “I thought only the oldest houses had those. We don’t,” she added sullenly.

“Well, we inherited the house we’re living in now from my great-great-grandpa on my dad’s side, didn’t we?” Alice asked matter of factly. “The house-elf came with it. She was young when we got the house, too. Only three or four years old.” She took a bite of egg and chewed it thoughtfully. “I wonder if Alfie knows Cobbie?”

“How would Alfie know Cobbie?” Lily asked, interested to learn all she could about the fascinating creatures.

Alice swallowed the egg. “Do you know, I don’t know, honestly,” she answered, taking a swig of pumpkin juice. “But she’s always talking about the different elves she knows.”

Lily pondered this as she put jelly on her toast. “I wonder if they have some way to communicate with each other?”

“Well, why wouldn’t they?” Amelia asked. “Dad says they have a powerful magic of their own. Maybe they use it to talk. If their masters will allow it, that is.”

“Couldn’t be that powerful,” Lily said, now taking some sausage from the platter in front of her, “if they’re doing our laundry and making our beds.”

Alice smiled as Lily began to eat. “Don’t count on that, Lily. The house-elves enjoy caring for humans, that’s for sure. But they’re powerful all right. Very powerful. Sometimes I think that Cobbie is only bound to us through her choice, not ours. I suppose not all house-elves are that way, but…”

Amelia set down her fork and looked at Alice. “Maybe she isn’t bound to you,” she said. “Maybe your Mum’s set her free and just didn’t tell your Dad, and she’s still working for you because you’re good to her.”

Alice pushed her plate away from her. “Could be,” she said, shrugging. “I just think there’s a lot more to house-elves than most people give them credit for, that’s all I’m saying.”

Lily chewed her sausage, trying to decide if she should say anything about Lupin’s odd behavior. He was sitting with the Marauders this morning, looking much better than he had last night, and he was no longer wearing the bandage. Figuring that it was really none of her business, she swallowed, and then changed the subject. “Ready for that Transfiguration test today?” she asked, her stomach doing a flip-flop.

“No,” Alice said, standing. “But I don’t suppose that’ll stop McGonagall from giving it to us just the same, so we’d better get going.” The three girls left the Great Hall and headed to Transfiguration.

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 9:  Gryffindor Quidditch

 

A few weeks later, Lily, Alice and Amelia all sat huddled under a large Gryffindor blanket that Lily had charmed to stay warm against the cold. Gryffindor was beating Ravenclaw 180 to 150 in the first Gryffindor quidditch match of the season, and three hours into the game, the snitch had been spotted a few times, but neither team’s seeker had yet come close to catching it. The marauders and Frank were sitting behind the three girls, which Lily honestly wouldn’t have minded, except that Potter kept jumping up to shout, “There! There it is. Don’t you see it?” and Pettigrew would respond with a cheer. Every time that the seekers did see the snitch but missed it, Potter would jump up and shout something along the lines of “You should have had that you worthless—” at which point Lupin would glare at him and pull him back down. He’d then spend the next five minutes discussing why the current Gryffindor seeker should not have been allowed on the team, with Pettigrew agreeing wholeheartedly and squeaking how much better Potter would be. “No wonder he can’t catch it! Look how he’s sitting!”(“You’d never make that mistake, Jamesy!”) or “His grip is all wrong, the broom would turn tighter if he’d just correct his grip.” (“Madam Alipes says your grip is perfect, Jamesy!”) Lupin and Sirius were rolling their eyes and laughing. After one particularly frustrating near miss by the Gryffindor seeker, Potter shouted, “You have to lean into your dive more! LEAN IN!”

“You could have had that, Ja—”

But apparently, Black had finally had enough, because he barked, “James and Peter, if you don’t shut your mouths, I’m going to have Evans put a silencing charm on the both of you!” They both sat down, looking chagrined, but Potter was laughing along with Lupin as he did so. Lily privately thanked Black for saying the threat that she had been considering for most of the match. About five minutes after Madam Alipes had blown her whistle to signal the start, she had begun regretting that she had let Alice and Amelia talk her into sitting down in front of them. She hadn’t wanted to sit down by the Marauders at all, but Frank was sitting in front of them, and apparently Frank was going to explain the rules of quidditch to Alice throughout the match. Amelia also seemed to be enjoying herself, as she and Lupin were carrying on an extensive conversation whenever Potter wasn’t shouting. Fortunately, both Potter and Pettigrew quieted down after Black’s outburst and Lily was able to enjoy the game. About an hour later, she felt a tugging on her cloak.

She turned around to see Potter smiling goofily at her. “Yes?” she inquired.

“I just wondered if you’d found out anything about the bo—”

“SHHHH!” Lily said, putting her finger to her lips. “Don’t mention it out here. We got a letter from Alice’s grandpa in late November and—”

“What? And you didn’t tell us?”

“You two were acting like gits the day we got it, so I didn’t tell you then, and I sort of forgot until—”

“Forgot?” Potter interrupted, his voice beginning to rise. “How do you just for—”

“Can you two give it a rest, just for the game, even?” Alice interrupted. “She forgot, Potter. She was going to—” but before she could finish, the Ravenclaw seeker went into a spectacular dive and snatched the snitch out from underneath the hand of the Gryffindor seeker. Cheers erupted from the Ravenclaw section, while the Gryffindors groaned loudly. As Madam Alipes’ whistle blew to signal the end of the match, a hulking shadowy figure appeared over the Slytherin spectator section. “The Dark Lord now has the tools he will need to be immortal,” a strangely magnified voice said, echoing in the now silent stadium. “Choose your side carefully. You have been warned.” The shadow disappeared, and was replaced by the same skull with the snake protruding from it that Lily had seen the picture of in the Daily Prophet.

Lily felt her body go cold. She didn’t even notice the chaos that surrounded her. What did it mean? She noticed suddenly that Amelia was crying, and reached out to put an arm around her. Alice was talking to Frank, apparently trying to work out what the voice had meant, Pettigrew looked terrified, and the other three Marauders stood completely silent, staring at the mark hovering over the stadium. Potter's hand was now clutching her shoulder and she wondered vaguely how long it had been there. In other sections, students were shouting and pushing, while the players on the field were running toward the stands.

Another magnified voice spoke over the frantic crowd. “Prefects! Take your students back to their houses,” the voice, which Lily now recognized as Dumbledore’s, commanded. “Wait there for further instruction from your head of house. No student is to leave their dormitory tonight under any circumstances, unless accompanied by a professor.” Professor...professor... Lily heard the words echoing hollowly as she looked around for the Gryffindor prefects.

A few rows down, she finally spotted Andromeda and Joshua, calling for the Gryffindors to follow them. Both had their wands out and were letting off sparks to attract students to them. She pulled Potter's hand off her shoulder, as he gave her a look she couldn't discern, and started walking toward the two prefects, the others closely following. Once the Gryffindors had crowded around them, they began leading the students back to GryffindorTower, wands still out. Lily felt nervously for hers, and kept her hand on it until they had arrived back at the common room. They all clambered in, and there was a mad dash by the younger students to grab the best chairs. The older students simply found a place to sit and conjured up a chair of their liking. It struck Lily as odd that any other day, chairs appearing out of the ends of wands would have merited a second glance, but not after what they'd just seen.

Alice, Lily and Amelia found a table off to one side of the common room and were promptly joined by Kaylie, Desdamona and Anna. Desdamona’s brother, Iago, also stopped by and gave Des a reassuring hug before joining his friends. Lily could not remember the common room ever being so quiet. Even the night she had stayed up late studying for Transfiguration, there had been the snapping of the fire to break the silence. Everyone wore identical expressions of fear and confusion.

As they waited for McGonagall, chatter began to break out in the various groups. Kaylie was certain that it was just some kind of practical joke, and Lily’s group began discussing who the perpetrator could be. Lily didn’t participate, however. Her thoughts were elsewhere. Something was nagging at the back of Lily’s mind, something about what the voice had said, but she couldn’t figure out just what. She tried to get her arms around what it was she was trying to remember when Alice interrupted her thoughts. “Lily? Are you okay? Lily?”

 

“Are you okay Lily?” It was Amelia’s voice this time, and she was shaking her arm.

Lily opened her eyes, and glanced around the room. For a moment she was confused. She wasn’t in the common room, anymore. Somehow she was upstairs in her room. How had she gotten there? She was lying down, too, but she didn’t remember coming upstairs. She sat up, wondering vaguely if she had fainted. Alice and Amelia were standing beside her bed, looking at her in concern. She closed her eyes, trying to clear the fog in her mind. They’d been at the quidditch match, Ravenclaw had won, and then the voice had spoken. Suddenly her mind went blank. What had the voice said? “What—what did it say?” she asked Alice and Amelia, finally opening her eyes again.

“What did what say?” Amelia asked, confused.

“The voice,” Lily said, “the voice, I forgot, what did it say?”

“What voice, Lily?” Alice asked anxiously.

“At the quidditch match. The voice!” she stared at them desperately. There was something that the voice had said that was important. She had to remember what it was.

Alice and Amelia exchanged anxious looks. “There wasn’t any voice at the Ravenclaw-Hufflepuff game, Lily,” Amelia answered. “And the quidditch game today hasn’t happened yet. It’s still morning.” Lily opened her mouth to protest, but suddenly realized that she was wearing her pajamas. Surely if she’d fainted, they wouldn’t have changed her into her pajamas. She glanced at her watch. It was only 8 o’clock. There couldn’t have been a quidditch match today. But then how…? Had it happened yesterday? Had she been passed out all night? But then why would Alice and Amelia be acting like they didn’t know what she was talking about? And suddenly it dawned on her. It had been a dream. No mark had appeared over the quidditch stadium. No voice had made any sort of announcement. She had dreamt it all. But the dream had been so vivid. “It’s Saturday morning?” she asked, to clarify.

Lily suddenly realized that Alice an Amelia were still watching her. “Yes…It’s Saturday morning, Lil,” Alice responded slowly.

“Perhaps you should go down to the hospital wing, Lily,” Amelia suggested hesitantly.

Lily shook her head, trying to laugh. “No, I—I guess I was in the middle of a dream when you woke me up,” she said, now standing up and stretching. “It just took me awhile to realize that it didn’t actually happen.”

They looked at her quizzically. “Must have been some dream,” Alice commented.

Lily nodded. “It was. I’ll tell you about it later. We’re going to miss breakfast if we don’t get moving.”

Alice’s and Amelia’s expressions cleared immediately. “Okay,” Alice said. “Hurry up, then. We’ll meet you downstairs.” Lily started to get dressed as her two best friends walked out of the room. Something about the dream, about the voice, was still bothering her. But that was ridiculous. It was just a dream, and that was that. She finished getting ready, shook her head one more time, trying to clear from her mind the nagging sensation that she had forgotten something important, and headed down into the common room to meet Alice and Amelia for breakfast.


At breakfast, Lily relayed most of her dream about the quidditch match back to Alice and Amelia, but she couldn’t remember what it was the voice had said at the match. Both reassured her that it had just been a dream, and that there was nothing to worry about. After breakfast, they ran upstairs and grabbed a blanket and their cloaks, and headed down to the pitch for the game. Kaylie and Desdamona had saved them seats in the Gryffindor section, and when the teams came out on the field, Lily was relieved to see that the match wasn’t against Ravenclaw at all. Gryffindor was playing Slytherin, and three-fourths of the school had shown up dressed in Gryffindor colors. The Marauders showed up shortly before the whistle blew, and Lily was annoyed to find that they chose seats behind the girls. If Potter's behavior in real-life resembled his behavior in her dream at all, she was sure she'd have a raging headache by the time that the match had ended.

She didn't have much time to worry about this, though, because the whistle blew, and the teams were off. She caught a brief glimpse of a tiny gold ball that resembled the one she had seen Potter playing with on Platform Nine and Three Quarters before her attention was drawn to the action taking place on the field. After a few minutes, Lupin leaned down toward Lily. “What do you think of quidditch?” he asked, looking young and full of energy for once.

Lily blushed. She was sure that the match was exciting, but she had no idea what was going on. She had never been to a quidditch match before. She had skipped the Hufflepuff-Ravenclaw game out of guilt that it was her fault the Marauders were not allowed to go, although they hadn’t been around all afternoon, anyway. They had arrived back at the common room shortly before the rest of the Gryffindors, cheeks red, and in high spirits, and Lily had had the sneaking suspicion that they had put Potter’s invisibility cloak to use to attend the game anyway, without being noticed by McGonagall or any of the prefects. “Well, I’m afraid I don’t really know what’s going on,” she admitted.

Lupin gave her an understanding smile, but Potter, who had been bellowing at the keeper to “Circle the posts, CIRCLE them, don’t just sit there, you idiot!” paused mid-bellow with a look of mock-outrage on his face. “You don’t understand quidditch?” he said in disbelief. “You can’t be a proper witch without understanding quidditch! Budge up, come on, move!” he said, now climbing down beside Lily and pushing Alice and Amelia aside as he did so. “I suppose that once again, it will fall to me to educate you, then.” He sighed loudly and plopped into the seat now open next to Lily.

Lily noticed with a giggle that Black and Lupin were rolling their eyes, and found to her amazement that she didn’t feel annoyed. On the contrary, she was rather looking forward to learning more about the game. She nodded. “All right, then. What’s the object?”

Potter’s eyes lit up with excitement. “The object,” he said, grinning from ear to ear, “is to catch the snitch!”

Potter launched into an explanation of the basic object of the game, and the purpose of each player position. As the game continued, he kept up a stream of chatter about fouls, formations, and techniques, occasionally jumping up to shout how worthless the Gryffindor seeker was, and how much better the team would play if he were on it (to which Pettigrew always agreed wholeheartedly). When Potter was shouting, Lily found that she was a little spooked at how accurately her dream had portrayed his behavior, but chalked it up to how well she knew him by now. Lily was enjoying the match, but still felt a little uneasy. She didn’t allow herself to relax completely until they arrived back at the common room after a very disappointing loss to Slytherin. Maybe it had just been a dream, after all.

 

*******************************


The night before she was to go home for Christmas break, Lily found herself alone in the common room, looking through library books once again for a language charm for ancient languages. She had lain awake in bed that night, unable to sleep. Every time she’d closed her eyes and felt herself drifting off, the feeling that she’d forgotten something would creep in on her, and she’d jolt awake again. Eventually, she’d given up and crept down to the common room with her books, figuring that she could at least do something productive since she wasn’t sleeping anyway.

About an hour after she’d first settled into her favorite chair next to the fire, the portrait swung open, and Professors McGonagall and Dumbledore came hurrying in. Professor McGonagall looked as though she had been pulled out of bed in quite a hurry. Her hair was loose, rather than done up in the bun to which Lily was accustomed, she wore a terry cloth robe over her gingham dressing gown, and her glasses sat slightly askew on her face. Professor Dumbledore was fully dressed, but his hair was disheveled and he wore a look of great concern upon his face.

“Does he have to go tonight, Professor?” McGonagall was asking as they entered.

Dumbledore nodded. “His mother wants him home immediately.”

McGonagall looked as though she wanted to protest, but she didn’t. “Yes, I suppose she can’t be blamed for that,” she said. “Any idea why he was taken, Albus?”

“I’ve got a few, Minerva,” Dumbledore answered with a sigh. “And none of them lend any real hope to the situation.”

Lily sat numbly in her chair, trying to decide whether or not to let them know she was here. On the one hand, she wasn’t entirely sure that she was even allowed out of bed at this hour, and she was keen to avoid trouble. She was also very curious to know what they were talking about. On the other hand, she felt guilty about eavesdropping on what was obviously meant to be a private conversation. Just as she had decided to make her presence known with a cough, McGonagall noticed her. She gasped, clearly startled to find a student in the common room at that hour, and her hand flew to her throat. “Miss Evans!” McGonagall exclaimed severely, “Just what are you doing out of bed at this hour?” They both walked quickly over to where Lily was sitting.

“I—I couldn’t sleep, professor,” Lily answered honestly. She looked at Dumbledore, whose eyes were glancing over the titles of the books that she had strewn around her. He gave her a quizzical look, but before he could say anything, she asked, “Please, professor. What’s happened?”

McGonagall began to say something that Lily strongly suspected would have told her to stay out of it, but Dumbledore held up his hand. He smiled at Lily. “You are a friend of Frank Longbottom’s, are you not, Lily?” he asked kindly.

Lily nodded, a feeling of foreboding washing over her. “I am, sir,” she answered.

Dumbledore sat on the arm of the chair beside her, put his hand on her shoulder and looked at her intently, his blue eyes filled with sadness. “Frank is going to need his friends to help him through next term,” he said quietly. “I know I can count on you to be there for him.” He stood up. “Come, Minerva,” he said, moving toward the boys’ dormitory.

McGonagall stood looking at Lily. “Get to bed, Miss Evans,” she said sternly, but her eyes had softened, “or I’ll take five points from Gryffindor.”

“Yes ma’am,” Lily mumbled as McGonagall began to follow Dumbledore up the stairs. She gathered her books up slowly, pondering silently as she did so, what in the world that had been about.

 

***************************************


Lily was exhausted the next morning. She had lain awake most of the night, wondering which member of Frank’s family had been taken. And more importantly, why? She kept thinking of Dumbledore’s response when McGonagall had asked him if he had any idea why someone had been taken. “I’ve got a few, Minerva, and none of them lend any real hope to the situation.” What situation? Did Dumbledore mean that none of his ideas bode well for the safe return of whomever had disappeared? Or was he talking about a bigger situation, one that involved the Dark Lord, and the book that had been taken? When she finally had fallen asleep, her dreams had been filled with the shadowy image that had appeared over the Slytherin section in her dream about the quidditch match. She had woken more than once, the cold voice from the dream still echoing in her mind, and the feeling that she was forgetting something stronger than ever.

When they arrived at breakfast, rumors about the Longbottom family were flying everywhere. Desdamona had heard from her cousin in Ravenclaw that Longbottom’s dad had been bitten by a werewolf. Lupin, who looked as exhausted as Lily felt, assured her with a tinge of annoyance that there would have been no werewolves out that night, because the next full moon wasn’t until Tuesday. Amelia’s brother had told her that Longbottom’s great-great-grandpa had died, but Joshua McKinnon pointed out that he’d passed away several years previous. Andromeda, who was sitting a few seats down, had tried to stay above the gossip, but when Kaylie relayed the rumor about a troll finding its way into the Longbottom house and destroying everything within it, she commented that she thought the Longbottoms did live near the mountains. Lily, Alice and Amelia, for their part, had also tried to stay out of it, but Lily had been asked to tell and re-tell what she had heard last night so many times that she was now quite sick of hearing herself talk.

Lily ate her breakfast silently, still mulling over in her mind the conversation that she had overheard. Whenever she was asked, she skipped the part about someone being taken, feeling that it was not her place to announce to the school that there had been a kidnapping. As the meal wore on, she found herself getting more and more irritated by everyone else’s fascination with Frank’s private tragedy. She found to her surprise that she, Alice and Amelia were not the only ones disgusted by it, however. Whenever anyone would come over and ask the Marauders what they’d heard last night, either Potter or Black would snap that it was none of their business, and if they had any decency, they wouldn’t be discussing another person’s tragedy like it were entertainment. Lily had just decided that the next time anyone asked what she had heard, she was going to follow Potter’s and Black’s example when Potter caught her eye.

“I need to talk to you before you leave for Christmas break,” he said to her.

“Why?” she asked suspiciously. Potter and Black had been much nicer to her since the quidditch game, but she had not forgotten all of the jokes that they had played on her in the past. She was fairly certain that if she found herself alone with Potter, she’d end up getting her trunk transfigured into a turtle, or something equally obnoxious.

“Relax, Evans. We need to discuss the night we got detention.”

Black was now looking at her, too. Both wore very serious expressions, and she felt for some reason that they really weren’t joking this time. Still, you could never be sure with the two of them. “All right,” she said, nodding, “but Alice and Amelia will need to come along. They’ve been helping me with it.”

Potter smiled. “Good, meet us in the chamber off of the entrance hall in 10 minutes.” Black, Potter and Lupin stood up and left the table. Pettigrew scrambled after them, squeaking at them to wait up.

Lily, Alice and Amelia finished eating, and then headed to the room that Potter had indicated. When they arrived, Potter and Black were wrestling on the floor as Pettigrew cheered them on and Lupin laughed. “Give it to me,” Black was panting, reaching for something in Potter’s arm. “You know I've been working on that for months!”

“Swear you won’t tell her and I will!” Potter retorted, flipping Black off of him, and scrambling away. He wasn’t fast enough. Black grabbed his leg and pulled him back down to the ground. Potter next tried crawling out of the way. As Black lunged at him, Potter rolled, and Black landed beside him. They both stood up quickly, and began circling each other, looking for an opportunity to pounce.

“I'm not kidding, Jamesy. If you break it you're dead!” Black hollered as Lupin looked up and smiled, motioning to the three girls to come in. “Now give it here!”

“Uh, James, Sirius?” he said, “You might want to knock it off, now.”

No way, Remmy!” Potter said, his eyes dancing mischievously. “I’m not giving it back until he promises not to tell—,” Potter stopped. He had just turned to face the doorway and saw the three girls standing there. His black hair was sticking up all over the place, he was breathing heavily, and he was blushing furiously. At that moment, Black noticed that Potter was no longer paying attention to him, and took the opportunity to lunge at him. As Potter went falling to the ground, legs sprawling everywhere, Black grabbed something out of his hand.

“Got it!” he called triumphantly. Black’s hair was also messy, and his face was flushed from the tangle, but he was grinning wickedly. It was obvious to Lily that both boys had been enjoying the wrestling match immensely. Black waved at the three girls, and tucked what looked like an ordinary quill into his pocket. Lily briefly wondered why he’d been so worried about getting it back; quills like those were a dime a dozen.

Potter stood up, attempted to smooth his hair and straighten his robes, and then turned to look at the three girls, his eyes still sparkling with amusement. “We’ve got to talk,” he said, now dusting off his robes.

“What’s going on?” Lily asked. The expressions on the faces of Potter, Black and Lupin turned suddenly serious. They exchanged significant glances. Pettigrew looked as though he still didn’t quite understand what the big deal was. Lily felt herself grow tense.

“What is it?” Alice asked impatiently. “Does this have anything to do with Frank?”

Potter shook his head. “No, it’s like I said at breakfast. I need to talk to you about the night we served detention.” He was now looking intently at Lily.

“Okay,” Lily said, wondering if they were going to get to the point. “What about it? What’s the problem?”

Black sighed heavily. By the way they were acting, Lily suspected that they didn’t really want to tell her whatever it was they had to say. Snape.”

Lily felt herself growing irritated. “If this is just a way for you to get me involved in the stupid war going on between Snape and you two, I’m not interested!”

Potter glanced at Black. “It’s not, Evans, this is a serious problem, I swear.”

“And I don’t believe you,” she said, turning toward the door.

“Will you just hear us out?” Lupin asked. Lily stopped. She liked Lupin, and as far as she knew, he didn’t have a grudge against Snape like Black and Potter did. She turned around.

“Fine, let’s hear it, then.”

Snape knows we were serving detention in the hallway on the third floor the night Malfoy and company went down that passage,” Potter said quickly.

Lily felt herself growing impatient again. “Why in the world would Malfoy care where we were serving detention? He doesn’t know we were down in that passageway!”

Black shook his head in amazement. “I thought you were one of the cleverest witches in our year, Evans,” he said.

Malfoy knows you weren’t there when he arrived,” Lupin explained. “And eventually, the dark wizard that Malfoy was taking the book to will notice the missing page.”

“And when they figure out it’s missing, they’ll look for it,” Black continued.

“And when they don’t find it, they’ll figure out that one of us must have it,” Potter finished.

“And why would that be bad, again?” Pettigrew asked. All 6 of them jumped in surprise, having forgotten that Pettigrew was still there.

“We’ll explain it again to you later,” Black barked.

“But that’s only if Snape tells him,” Lupin said.

“Which he will,” Potter and Black said in unison.

Lily stared at them in disbelief. “Why would Snape tell Malfoy?”

Potter, Black and Lupin stared at her like she was being deliberately obtuse. “Why?” they said again in unison.

“Because, Evans, he would like nothing better than to cause trouble,” Black added.

Lily shook her head. “No,” she said quietly. What they were saying didn’t tally with Snape as she knew him. He was friends with people that she’d just as soon hex as say hello to, but she’d never seen him go out of his way to torment people like Bellatrix, Rodolphus and Avery did. She felt annoyed. “You’re just assuming the worst of Snape!” she said finally. “He’s always been perfectly polite to me.” Black snorted, but didn’t say anything.

“Okay, fine,” Potter said, clearly frustrated. “You want to believe that he isn’t a great bigot, fine. But you can’t deny that he hates me. And since I was there too, why wouldn’t he tell Malfoy? It’d be the perfect revenge for what we did to him at Halloween.”

“No,” she said again. “That’s different. From the way Malfoy was talking down there, this Dark Lord will do anything to get this book. If he tells Malfoy we’ve got the missing page, Malfoy will come after us, and he won’t just be pulling a prank. He’d hurt us. Snape wouldn’t really want to hurt us!”

“You’re so naïve, Evans! Would you listen to us for just a second? Snape—hates—muggle-borns,” Black growled.

Lily stared at him for a moment. “Oh, this is ridiculous!” she said finally. “You’re all just biased against him because you don’t like him. He wouldn’t do anything that would really hurt us.”

Potter sighed in frustration. “All right, then. Let’s assume for a moment that Snape wouldn’t want to hurt us, and focus on the problem that Snape’s knowledge has illuminated. Malfoy’s Lord is going to want to get back the page that we’ve got.”

“And from the looks of things, Malfoy’s Lord isn’t one to mess around. I’d bet my wand that he’s responsible for both disappearances, and the murder,” Black added.

“And now it looks like he's taken Frank's dad,” Lupin said. The three girls stared at Lupin.

“It’s Frank’s dad that’s been taken?” Alice asked numbly.

They nodded sadly. “You didn't know?” Black asked quietly. The girls shook their heads. “Oh, we thought Lily'd overhead...” Black trailed off.

“That’s why Dumbledore and McGonagall came and got him last night. His mum wanted him home,” Lupin explained.

Lily felt her legs go weak. Now that Frank’s dad was missing, the possibility of a Dark Lord no longer seemed so abstract. And if what Potter and Black had said was accurate, he’d be looking for them next.

They were all silent for a moment. “The good news,” Lupin said finally, “is that we don’t know yet what that book has in it, or if Malfoy’s Lord will need the page that we’ve got. If the book has more than one spell in it, there’s a good chance that he won’t even know that page has gone missing.”

“Which means,” Potter said, now surveying all of them, “we need to work together to figure out what in the name of Merlin that page says.”

“As quickly as possible,” Black agreed.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 10: Christmas Break


Lily sat in her bed at home, using a flashlight to look through the charms books that she had brought home over break, hoping for better luck than she’d had last time. She was running out of ancient charm books in the library. If they didn’t find something in the books they’d all taken home over break, Lily was going to have to summon the courage to ask Professor Flitwick for a note to investigate the Restricted Section. She already planned to tell him that she needed access to the Restricted Section to do an independent study on language charms, but she wasn’t sure she could lie well enough to convince him. She’d considered having Alice or Amelia get the note, but the fact of the matter was that neither was advanced enough in Charms to convince Flitwick that they were doing an independent study. She was flipping to the next spell when a sliver of light slid across the floor of her room. Lily glanced up and saw Petunia standing in the doorway. She smiled broadly. “Hi, Pet!” she greeted her, as she always did. “Aren’t you supposed to be in bed right now?”

Petunia smiled. “Aren’t you?” she asked. Lily laughed.

“All right, you don’t tell mum and dad, and I won’t,” Lily answered, patting a spot beside her on the bed. Petunia came scampering in and jumped up on Lily’s bed.

“What are you reading,” she asked, peering around the book, trying to see.

Shhhh,” Lily said, holding a finger up to her lips. “Keep quiet or mum and dad’ll hear, and then we’ll really be in for it. I’m reading a charm book.”

Petunia looked disappointed. “I was hoping it was one on unicorns.” Lily smiled. She had brought home a few books that she had thought would interest Petunia. Pet had spent several hours reading them, but kept re-reading the one about magical animals. The unicorn, in particular was her favorite, though Lily supposed that wasn’t suprising. If given the choice between a unicorn and an Acromantula, most little girls would go for the unicorn. Lily rifled around in her bag, and pulled out the copy of “Magical Animals that Don’t Bite, Suck, or Throw Fire”, and handed it to Petunia, who snuggled under the covers next to Lily and began to read.

The next morning, Lily awoke to Petunia snoring softly beside her. She smiled as she noticed the book of magical animals laying on top of Petunia’s chest. Her own book was laying on the floor, where it had presumably fallen when she’d nodded off to sleep. She got up and stretched then headed to the bathroom for a bath, taking care to make as little noise as possible. When she returned to her room, she opened the door and stifled a laugh. Petunia was standing on a chair in front of the mirror. She had put on a set of Lily’s robes and one of her hats. The robes were easily 3 or 4 inches too long on her, she had rolled up the sleeves to keep them from covering her hands, and the hat sat so low on her forehead that you could barely see her eyes. Petunia was holding a branch in her hand, flicking it, and muttering things like “abracadabra”. When Petunia held up the branch and shouted “Bippity boppity boo!” Lily could not contain her laughter. When Lily laughed, Petunia turned quickly, lost her balance, and fell, head first toward the corner of the dresser. Lily gasped and lunged toward Petunia, knowing it would be too late to catch her, but something slowed her down and backed her away from the dresser. She landed softly on the carpet, unhurt. Before she’d begun at Hogwarts, something like that would have surprised Lily, but now she barely thought twice about it as she rushed over to make sure that Petunia was truly okay. Petunia brushed her away, laughing, her face a little flushed. “I just wanted to see what it was like,” she said, embarrassed.

“I don’t mind,” Lily assured her, “just maybe next time, keep your feet on the ground!”

Petunia smiled. “Will you teach me some real spells?” she asked. Lily hesitated. Petunia didn’t have a real wand, and as long as she used a branch and not her own wand, she wouldn’t be breaking the rule about no magic at home.

“Tell you what,” she said, “go get dressed, and let’s eat breakfast. Then we’ll go outside, and practice!”

“All right!” Petunia said enthusiastically, bolting out in the hall and toward her own room. As Lily watched her, she felt another unbidden swell of sympathy for Andromeda. There was probably a time when she and Bellatrix and Narcissa had been this close as well. It must have been very difficult for her to break ties with them because of her sisters’ hatred toward an entire group of people for being born what their families were not. “I’ll never have to worry about that, though,” Lily said, comforting herself. “I’ll always have Petunia, no matter what.” She finished getting ready and went downstairs to meet Petunia for breakfast.


After breakfast, Lily began showing Petunia some of the more elementary spells that she had learned at school. After awhile, a friend of Lily’s from grade school, Vicki Tonks, came by the house, and the three girls got into a snowball fight. Lily invited Vicki in for lunch, and the girls scarfed down sandwiches that Elizabeth had prepared, and then ran back outside again to continue the snow ball fight. Several more hours passed before the voice of Elizabeth Evans came floating across the lawn.

“Girls!” she called. “It’s time to get in here and get washed up for dinner. Nanny and Pop are going to be over!” Lily threw the snowball that she had been making and hit Petunia square in the back of the head, before waving goodbye to Vicki and running inside. Elizabeth Evans smiled as Lily and Petunia came racing into the kitchen.

“Change into some dry clothes, and get washed up, both of you!” she said, stirring milk into a pot on the stove. “Nanny and Pops will be here for our Christmas Eve feast soon!”

“Race you?” Lily asked Petunia. Petunia nodded, and Lily counted off, “On three. One, two—,”

Petunia took off, and Lily ran after her, shouting “No fair!” They raced up the stairs, Harry calling after them, “No running in the house!” Lily and Petunia both reached the upstairs landing at the same time, laughing, but out of breath.

“I would have beat you if you’d waited until three,” Lily panted.

Petunia grinned. “Then where’s the incentive for me to wait until three?” she asked. They both burst into laughter. After they’d caught their breath, Petunia said, “Come on, we’d better get ready. Mum’ll have a fit if we don’t get down there soon.”

As Lily changed into dry clothes, she heard the voices of her mum’s parents, Kathryn and Roland Mason, downstairs. She quickly washed her hands and face, and ran downstairs. “Lily!” a deep voice shouted, and the next thing she knew, she was engulfed in a huge hug by her grandfather. She hugged him back, and then he stood back and looked at her. “So you’re learning to be a good little witch, now? Huh? We couldn’t be prouder!” His eyes shone with pride as he smiled at her.

“Thanks,” she said, grinning. “I wish I could show you some of what I’ve learned, but I’m not allowed to do magic outside of school.”

Kathryn looked disappointed. “Well, I’m sure you’re studying hard, aren’t you? You’ve always been such a good student!” she said, now hugging Lily. “Not getting into any trouble, I trust?”

Lily felt a pang of guilt as she thought about the detention she’d received from Potions, and the adventure that had followed. She tried her best not to look guilty. “No,” she said, shaking her head. “No trouble.”

Kathryn looked at her critically for a moment, and then smiled broadly. “That’s my girl. I knew we wouldn’t have to worry about you!” At that moment, Petunia arrived in the living room. “Not like Petunia, here!” Kathryn said, now hugging Petunia. “If she were off at Hogwarts, she’d be the center of trouble, like she is at her school!”

Petunia blushed. “I don’t go looking for trouble!” she said, but her innocent look reminded Lily a little too much of James Potter for Lily to believe her.

“Petunia!” Lily exclaimed, now looking sternly at her sister. “Have you been getting into trouble at school this year?”

Petunia’s face turned even redder, “No!” she protested, but she didn’t look at Lily as she said it.

“She hasn’t told you?” a new voice said. Lily looked up and saw her mum smiling at Petunia. “She’s even had detention a few times. Right little delinquent, she’s been. Twice now she’s gotten into trouble for playing pranks during class, and on the playground, she got into trouble for starting a fight—,”

“He said magic wasn’t real!” Petunia protested.

Lily wasn’t sure what appalled her more, the fact that Petunia didn’t appear to be taking school seriously, or the fact that her sister had told someone about magic. “You need to take your studies seriously, Pet,” she said.

“I’m going to Hogwarts in two years, anyway,” Petunia replied, her eyes sparkling. “I won’t need to know who invaded Paris when I get there.”

Lily couldn’t help but smile at the look on Petunia’s face. “All right then, you’re also not supposed to be telling everyone what I’m studying!” she admonished her.

At this, Petunia looked petulant. “I wasn’t. I was just playing witch, and Tommy Jones came over and told me magic wasn’t real, and he took my wand—the one I had carved from a branch on the tree outside. He wouldn’t give it back to me, so I punched him.”

Lily tried hard not to laugh, imagining the look on little Tommy Jones’s face. Tommy had always bullied her sister, and she couldn’t help but be proud that Petunia had fought back. She noticed her grandpa was also chuckling. “Did you give him a black eye?” Roland asked, grinning.

Harry’s voice interrupted this time. “I hardly thought you’d be encouraging that behavior, Dad!” he said disapprovingly.

“Sorry, Harry,” Roland said, but the twinkle in his eye told Lily otherwise. “But a girl’s got to learn how to defend herself!” He put up his fists and started jabbing playfully at Petunia, who began dancing around him, fists up as well.

“And with that, I think I’ll announce that dinner’s ready,” Elizabeth said, laughing. “If you two care to stop boxing and join us that is,” she added, as Roland and Petunia continued to box around the room.

Dinner that evening was very relaxing, and by the time Lily had stuffed herself full of all of her favorite home-cooked foods, she was feeling sleepy and content. She said goodnight to her parents and grandparents, and went upstairs with Petunia, the feeling of anxiety that had been with her for so long blissfully absent. She fell asleep almost as soon as her head hit the pillow, and for the first time since the dream about the quidditch match, she didn’t wake up in a panic, wondering what it was she’d forgotten.

 

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Lily awoke early the next morning, as was her habit, and crept downstairs, trying not to wake anyone up. When she arrived in the living room she was surprised to see her family already sitting around the tree, sipping coffee and hot chocolate, and chatting quietly. When she entered the room, they all looked up and greeted her. Petunia let out a squeal. “You said that we could open presents as soon as Lily got up, right mum? We can open presents now?”

Elizabeth laughed. “All right then, who’s playing Santa Claus?” She picked up the Santa Claus hat that was sitting on the table. It was tradition in Lily’s family for whomever was passing out the presents to wear a Santa Claus hat while they did so.

Petunia raised her hand enthusiastically. “I will!” She grabbed the hat and settled it on her head. Combined with her nightshirt and jingle bell slippers, she looked more like one of Santa’s elves than like Santa Claus, and as Lily giggled at the thought, she felt again the familiar nagging sensation in the back of her mind. The feeling disappeared as Petunia handed out presents and Lily began the age-old tradition of shaking the boxes to figure out what’s inside. After all of the presents were handed out, they took turns opening their presents, one at a time. Lily’s grandparents had give her a beautiful photo album with pictures of her family in, and room to add more of her friends from Hogwarts; Petunia had given her a watch; and her parents had given her a planner to use to keep track of homework. As Petunia was opening her last present from their parents (a journal), Harry slipped out of the room. When he returned, he was carrying a large box that was hooting intermittently. Lily looked at her parents, awe-struck.

“Well, go on dear, open it!” Elizabeth said, smiling at Lily.

Lily ripped off the wrapping paper, tore open the box, and found a cage containing a beautiful white owl with brown stripes. It was hooting happily as Harry helped her lift the cage out of the box.

“It’s a North American barred owl,” Harry said, looking at Lily. “Mrs. Figg said it’d make a very good post owl, so she ordered one from a wizarding owlery. We had it imported special.”

Lily was so excited that she felt like she might cry. “Thank you guys!” she said, throwing herself at her mum and dad and hugging them fiercely.

They laughed. “Well, it wasn’t entirely unselfish,” Elizabeth admitted. “We figured we might get a few more letters from you if you didn’t have to borrow your friends’ owls all the time!”

Lily laughed, feeling a little guilty. She hadn’t written as often as she’d planned to, but then, she hadn’t expected to be so busy. She nodded. “I will,” she said emphatically, grinning at the bird, who hooted at her.

“So,” Roland asked, “What are you going to name it?”

“Romulus,” Lily said, saying the first name that popped into her head. “Do you like that name, Romulus?” Romulus hooted as if to indicate his assent. The family laughed. “It’s settled, then,” she said, grinning.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 11: Back to Hogwarts


Her grandparents left for home on Boxing Day, and Lily was quite sad to see them go. Elizabeth’s parents had always been her favorite grandparents. She barely knew her dad’s parents at all, and couldn’t even remember the last time that they had come to visit. The rest of the holiday passed in a bit of a blur. She sent letters to Alice and Amelia, letting them know that she had been through all of her books, and hadn’t found a single promising charm. They owled her back that they, too, had had no luck. Vicki Tonks came over a few more times, and Lily had let it slip that she wasn’t actually attending school overseas, as her parents were claiming. To Lily's surprise, Vicki believed her without question, and promised not to tell Lily’s secret to a single soul. Lily taught Petunia a few more spells, and the two of them had whittled a couple of wands to use when practicing. All in all, it had been a very restful holiday, but as she sat in her compartment on the Hogwarts’ Express, she had to admit that she was very glad to be going back to school. She had missed her friends terribly, and couldn’t wait to resume classes.

Neither Alice nor Amelia were riding the train. In Alice's letter, she explained that she was visiting an aunt that lived in Hogsmeade, and would meet the train at the station, while Amelia was riding the Knight Bus with her brother. Lily had no idea what the Knight Bus was, but assumed it was some sort of wizarding transportation. So Lily settled into a compartment by herself and opened up her Transfiguration book, determined that this term would go better than the last one had.

After she had been reading for quite some time, Lily decided to freshen up. As she made her way back to her compartment from the restroom, she heard the voice of Lucius Malfoy coming from the compartment one door down from hers. She hesitated, unsure whether or not she should risk getting caught eavesdropping. As the possible repercussions of getting caught occurred to her, Lily made a decision. She was a Gryffindor for a reason, and Malfoy could unknowingly provide her with some information regarding the Dark Lord, the stolen book, or Frank’s missing father. The opportunity was too good to pass up. She pressed herself against the wall, and inched toward the compartment door, her heart hammering louder and louder in her chest with each step. She finally got as close as she dared to go, and strained her ears, listening to the conversation within the compartment.

“He’ll help sure enough,” Malfoy said with a drawl.

“I don’t know what makes you think that, Lucius,” said a woman’s voice that Lily recognized as Narcissa’s. “The Longbottom family’s been with Dumbledore since he was a student at Hogwarts.”

Malfoy chuckled. “The Dark Lord has ways,” he said in a sinister tone, “of making even the most uncooperative wizards do his will.”

A third voice that sounded a lot like Snape’s friend, LeStrange’s, now joined in the conversation. “But why Longbottom?” the voice asked. “He had to know that the Ministry would have a job of convincing everyone that was a random disappearance, and he doesn’t want the aurors alerted to his presence just yet, does he? Not until he succeeds, anyway.”

“You’re right about that, Rodolphus,” Malfoy said. “But Longbottom’s the only Ministry wizard who has the skills the Dark Lord needs. He can’t do the entire ceremony himself, so he had to take a risk.” Malfoy now chuckled. “It’s not the first risk the Dark Lord’s taken, but he’s smart. He got that book away from Dumbledore with nary a soul knowing about it—”

Hiya, Evans!” a voice behind her said. She jumped in surprise, and at the same moment, the train lurched, sending Lily falling against the door of Malfoy’s compartment. She uttered a word that would have shocked her parents to find out she knew, and then grabbed the arm of Potter and pulled him down out of sight, just as Malfoy’s face appeared at the window.

“Who’s out there, Lucius?” Narcissa asked.

“I don’t see anyone,” he said, shutting the compartment door firmly.

Lily stayed crouched on the floor, motioning for Potter to stay quiet and do the same. They stayed there for a few minutes, until she was sure it was safe, and then Lily hastily made her way into her own compartment, Potter following her. She made sure the door to her compartment was shut firmly and turned to face him. Had she not been so angry at him for nearly getting them caught, she would have laughed at the look of utter confusion upon his face “What in the bloody hell was that all about?” he asked.

Lily glared at him. “What kind of person just shouts out ‘Hiya Evans!’ when the person they’re shouting at has their ear pressed against the wall to eavesdrop on someone else’s conversation?” she asked furiously.

Potter blinked at her. “You needn’t yell at me!” he said, his mock-hurt look firmly in place, then, “Hang on.” His eyes widened in understanding. “You were eavesdropping on Malfoy?” he asked in amazement.

Lily took a deep breath, trying to calm down. She knew that her adrenaline was running high from almost getting caught, and realized that there was no way that Potter could have known what she was doing. Still, he could have been a little more careful. It should have been at least somewhat evident that she wasn’t just out for a stroll. “Sorry,” she said, “Yes, I was eavesdropping on Malfoy. I was hoping to find out something about the book.”

Someone knocked at the door, causing them both to look up. Black was bouncing up and down in front of the window like an overexcited puppy. Potter laughed and opened the compartment door and Black bounded in and sat down next to Lily.

“I see you found her, then,” Black said, indicating Lily. Lily looked at Potter quizzically.

“Why were you looking for me?” she asked.

“To find out if you’d had any luck finding a language charm over break,” Black said. “Have you?”

She started to answer, but Potter interrupted her. “Who cares about that?” he said impatiently. “What was Malfoy talking about?”

Black’s eyes lit up. “You overheard Malfoy?” he said excitedly.

“Yes,” Lily snapped, “and if the two of you would shut up for a minute, I could tell you about it!”

They both looked at her as though shocked. “I was hoping that Christmas would have mellowed you out a little, Evans,” Potter said finally. “I see I was wrong.”

She glared at him, again breathing deeply. “Sorry,” she said again. “I’d appreciate it if the two of you would stop interrupting me.”

Potter glanced at Black with an expression of glee. “That’s the second time she’s apologized to me today, mate. I didn’t even know she knew those words.”

Lily glared at him. “Do you want to know, or don’t you?”

Potter and Black both looked at her expectantly. “Go on then,” Black said, waving his hand and bouncing up and down in his seat.

“All right, then.” Lily checked to make sure the door was shut tightly, and then related to them the conversation that she had overheard. When she was finished, Black had stopped bouncing around, and Potter was looking thoughtful.

“I wonder what skills Malfoy was referring to?” Potter said thoughtfully.

“And what ceremony?” Black added. “I don’t think I know of any spells that require more than one wizard to do them.” Lily shrugged. She didn’t know what to make of any of it.

“Well, it seems like the first thing we need to find out, well, besides what the book’s about, I mean, is what Frank Longbottom’s dad does at the Ministry,” she commented. Potter and Black nodded in agreement. Easier said than done, though. They couldn’t just come out and ask Frank; they all had more compassion than that. They sat in silence for a moment, all three deep in thought.

“I’ll write Alice’s Grandpa again,” Lily said finally. “He’ll be wanting to know what I overheard, anyway.”

Black jumped up, “That’s settled then. Now if you don’t mind,” he said turning to Lily with a bow, “I’m going to steal James here away.” Black walked out into the hallway and motioned for Potter to follow. Potter looked at Black with an eyebrow raised inquisitively before turning to look back at Lily with a look she couldn’t figure out, then he trailed after Black without a word. As the door slid shut behind them, Lily heard Black saying, “I saw a Slytherin friend of ours sitting by himself toward the back of the train.”

Lily sighed in annoyance, and picked up her Transfiguration book to continue studying.

 

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“LILY!” She heard the screech before she saw the screecher, and turned just as Alice tackled her in a huge hug. “How was your vacation? Mine was incredible. You’ll never believe what mum and dad got me, Lil. My OWN broom! Isn’t that great? It’s a Nimbus, too. Of course, I couldn’t bring it back because of the stupid ‘first-year’s aren’t allowed broomsticks’ rule but I practiced on it all of break and, oh!” she gave Lily another huge hug. “It’s so good to see you again!” Lily laughed and took a step back.

“It’s only been a few weeks, Alice,” she said, although she felt much the same way. She hadn’t realized how much she’d missed Alice until just now.

Alice nodded. “I know, but it’s felt like ages longer, with only Anna around to keep me entertained. And of course she doesn’t want anything to do with me. She’s 13 now, you know. Entirely too cool to have a little sister hanging around,” Alice looked around the platform. “Was Amelia meeting us here, or at Hogwarts?”

Lily also glanced around. “At Hogwarts, I believe. I’ll wait until we find her to tell you what I found out. It’s not safe to say here, anyway.”

Alice squealed again. Oooh! Did you find a—,”

Shhhhh!” Lily said, bringing her finger to her lips. “I said it’s not safe to talk about here.”

Alice blushed. “Right, sorry. It’s just that I’m ever so excited to be back. Where’s your owl? I think it’s so great that your folks got you one. I begged for one when we went to Diagon Alley over the holiday, but my parents kept insisting that Archimedes was enough,” Alice snorted to indicate her disgust with this. “Of course, I’d much rather have a broomstick, anyway, since we do already have an owl.” Her gaze caught the cage sitting beside Lily’s trunk and she grinned. “He’s just beautiful. Hi Romulus!” Alice pulled a treat out of her pocket and offered it to him. Romulus snapped it up, and hooted appreciatively.

Lily laughed. “I think he likes you!” Lily noticed that most of the students around them were now climbing into the many horseless carriages that were waiting next to the platform, and motioned to Alice. “Come on, I suppose we’d better find a carriage.”

They climbed into a nearby carriage, and began trading stories about their breaks. As they talked, the door of the carriage opened, and a messy black-haired head poked in, grinning. “Ladies,” Potter said, his eyes dancing. “I’m afraid this is the only carriage remaining with two seats, so we’ll have to join you.” He began to climb into the carriage and Black’s head became visible behind him.

Black groaned as his eyes met Lily’s. “You sure you want to sit here, Jamesy?” he asked. “She’s just gonna lecture us for what we did to Snape.”

Lily’s eyes flashed. “What did you do to Snape?” she asked.

Potter smiled at her, and patted her on the knee before looking at Black. “What Evans doesn’t know,” he said with a grin, “isn’t going to hurt her,” and he climbed in, settling himself across from Alice.

Black leapt in beside him, sitting across from Lily, who couldn’t resist asking, albeit more nicely this time, “So what did you do to him?” Black and Potter just looked at each other and laughed.

“Nothing permanent,” Black said with a mysterious look. Lily scowled.

“So, did you hear anything about Frank’s dad over the holiday?” Alice asked, changing the subject.

“Not a word,” Potter said with a sigh. “I sent him an owl with a casserole from my mum, (She figured that his mum wouldn’t feel much like cooking) but he didn’t write back.” Potter leaned back and folded his arms behind his head. “Not that I expected to hear anything. If I were him, I’m not even sure I’d be back for next term.”

Black’s eyes glinted jealously. “Wish I knew what that was like,” he said bitterly. “Better yet, wish it’d been MY dad that was taken. And my mum, too, while they’re at it.”

Potter gave Black a sympathetic look, but Lily was horrified. “That’s a terrible thing to say!” she said.

“You don’t know Black’s mum,” was Potter’s response, but Alice was also looking appalled.

“I don’t care what she’s like!” Alice said indignantly. “If it weren’t for either of them you wouldn’t be here right now.”

“In that case,” Lily said dryly, “I wish she’d have disappeared 12 years ago.”

Alice and Potter both looked at Lily in surprise, then all three of her carriage-mates began laughing, though whether it was out of surprise that she had said such a thing or because what she had said struck them as funny, Lily couldn’t tell. “And that’s not a terrible thing to say?” Potter asked when he could finally talk again.

Lily shrugged, and started to answer, but the carriage suddenly jolted to a stop. “We’re here!” Black said, opening the door and climbing out. He stood outside and helped Potter out with a flourish, then turned and bowed to the two girls, holding out his hand to help them down. Lily couldn’t help but laugh. His hair was falling into his face, and his eyes were dancing. Alice and Lily exited the carriage, and both accepted Black’s help as they climbed down. As they all turned to face the castle, Black murmured, “Home at last.” Lily silently agreed.

 

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“So what did you find out over break, Lily?” Alice asked, taking one of her robes out of her trunk and hanging it into her closet. Over supper, Lily had told them that she had found out some information, but couldn’t say what it was, because the risk of being overheard was too great. Alice and Amelia had both been anxious to find out what it was, and Lily supposed that they were safe now that they were in their own room.

“I overheard a conversation between Malfoy, Narcissa and Snape’s friend, that LeStrange character, on the train,” she said, sending her robes flying across the room and into the closet using an unpacking charm that she had come across during break. Alice and Amelia both watched her enviously.

“How do you do that?” Alice asked, now trying to mimic Lily’s wand movement.

“Never mind that,” Amelia said, pulling her schoolbooks out of her trunk and stacking them on her desk. “What did you hear?”

Lily didn't answer right away. “I missed doing magic over break,” she said instead, sending her books flying onto her desk with another flick of her wand. Alice and Amelia both glared at her.

“Are you going to tell us?” Alice prompted, after Lily began directing her hats into the closet after her robes.

Lily closed the closet with a swish of her wand and then sat down on her bed, repeating the conversation. As she talked, Alice and Amelia continued to unpack, but were listening intently. By the time she was finished, both had stopped unpacking and were staring at her.

“What did Malfoy mean, ‘ways of making the most uncooperative wizards do his will’?” Alice asked. She was now chewing on her lower lip, something she had a habit of doing whenever she was worried about something.

Lily shrugged. “I’ve no idea. I was too busy trying to figure out why he wants Mr. Longbottom.” Lily suddenly noticed that Amelia had gone pale and was trembling. “Amelia, are you okay?” she asked.

Amelia shook her head. “No,” she said. “I’m not. Narcissa’s right. Frank’s dad will never agree to help this wizard. Never. Which means he’ll have to…” Amelia trailed off, shuddering.

“‘He’ll have to’ what, Amelia?” Alice asked, now staring at Amelia.

Amelia shuddered again. “He’d have to use an unforgivable curse, wouldn’t he?” Lily gave her a blank look, but Alice gasped.

“You don't think he'd use one of those do you?” she asked.

“A—an unforgivable curse?” Lily interrupted. “Sorry, I don’t know what those are.”

Amelia nodded. “No,” she said, “you wouldn’t. We haven’t reached them yet in Defense Against the Dark Arts. That’s fifth or sixth year for most students. I just know because I read about them in a book of magical law my Dad gave me. The worst unforgivable curse is—” here Amelia lowered her voice, as though a little afraid to speak it out loud, “Avada Kedavra.” Lily felt a shiver run down her spine at those words. “It’s the killing curse. There’s no countercurse or anything that can be done to save someone whose been hit by it.” As Amelia spoke, Lily couldn’t stop herself from imagining how terrifying it would be to have someone pointing their wand at you, and hearing those words, knowing you were helpless to stop what was about to happen. The thought made her shudder involuntarily.

Alice spoke, trying to sound confident, but her voice was shaking. “He couldn’t use that. It sounds like he needs Frank’s dad to help him too much to kill him.”

Amelia nodded. “He couldn’t use that until he’d used him for, whatever it is he needs him for. The second unforgivable curse is the cruciatus curse. It causes immense pain. So much pain that if it’s done repeatedly, the victim can actually go insane from the torture.”

Alice’s eyes were now widened in horror, and she looked as white as the snow on the ground outside. “You don’t think he’d use that on him, do you?” she barely whispered.

Amelia looked sickened at the thought, but continued nonetheless. “I don’t know if he’d want to risk Frank’s dad going insane,” she said thickly.

“There's always imperius, too,” Alice said. “That seems more logical.”

Amelia nodded in agreement. “It’s more likely he’d use the imperius curse, you're right. You can make someone under the imperius curse do whatever you want them to, Lily. Even kill people. It’s horrible.” She shuddered.

“I overheard Grandpa talking about some of the things people’ve done under imperius, once. Some of them go crazy themselves, because they can’t live with the guilt. That’s the one he’d probably use. But it can be fought, so if it doesn’t work, he’d have to go with crucio…” Alice trailed off, noticing that Amelia was nearing tears, and Lily looked sick. They all sat silently for a few moments.

“Poor Frank,” Alice said quietly.

“Poor Mr. Longbottom,” Lily echoed.

Alice and Amelia nodded in agreement, and they fell silent again.

“But that doesn’t explain why they wanted Mr. Longbottom,” Alice said finally.

Lily nodded her agreement. “We need to let your Grandpa know, Alice.”

“Lily’s right,” Amelia concurred. “He’s the only auror taking the whole dark wizard thing seriously. He’s Mr. Longbottom’s best chance.”

Alice was now as pale as Amelia had been a few moments earlier, and her hand was shaking as she pulled out a piece of parchment and a quill. Lily and Amelia huddled around her as she began to write.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 12: Dumbledore’s Warning


The next morning, the girls woke up early and made their way up to the Owlery. They found Romulus, who was very excited to see them, and sent him off with the letter. On their way back downstairs, they heard several voices floating up the stairwell to them. Alice nearly hissed in disgust when she realized it was Bellatrix, LeStrange and Snape. “Just who I wanted to see this morning!” Lily groaned.

There was no way to avoid them, and as Alice pointed out, they weren’t sure that they wanted to, even if they could. They were Gryffindors, after all. They rounded a bend in the stairway and came face to face with the three first-year Slytherins. Bellatrix looked like she had been given a late Christmas present. Oooh!” She squealed, her eyes menacing. “What have we here? It’s my wonderful cousin’s little fan club, if I’m not mistaken. The blood-traitor, the half-blood, born of another blood traitor, and the mudblood,” she said, glancing at them each in turn.

“You better watch your mouth, Black!” Alice said threateningly, reaching for her wand. Lily and Amelia followed suit, keeping a wary eye on Bellatrix, but LeStrange already had his out.

“I don’t think you want to do that,” LeStrange said, pointing his wand menancingly at the three of them. They all continued to grip their wands. “Go on, put them down,” he said, sneering.

Snape stood by quietly, his wand still away, though he had his hand on the end of it, and looked ready to pull it out at any moment, if need be. Alice glared at LeStrange. “Your name’s LeStrange, isn’t it?”

LeStrange nodded, looking somewhat taken aback, but he didn’t lower his wand. “I thought so,” Alice said, now smirking at him. Lily and Amelia both looked at her in surprise. “You should know my family, as well, then. It was my Grandpa that put your no good father in Azkaban.” LeStrange gave her a murderous look, and then shouted a curse, but he was too late. Alice had already done the elementary level shield charm they’d learned shortly before Christmas in Defense Against the Dark Arts, and the curse rebounded, knocking LeStrange down. For a moment, it looked like nothing else would happen, but then LeStrange’s eyes began to bulge.

As the girls watched in amazement, LeStrange swelled up so much that he began to resemble a giant beach ball in Hogwarts robes. Bellatrix’s look turned from one of great amusement to one of horror and then to panic, when Lestrange’s legs could no longer touch the ground, and he started rolling toward the stairs. Bellatrix grabbed the sleeve of one of his robes and yelled at Snape to help her. Bellatrix’s yells snapped Snape out of his stupor, and he looked between Bellatrix and the three girls, torn. It looked as though he wanted nothing more than to curse them, but at Bellatrix’s second cry, he also turned to help LeStrange.

“Parkers 2, LeStranges 0,” Alice said with a chuckle as Snape and Bellatrix began half carrying, half rolling LeStrange down the stairs.

“You’ll pay for this, Parker,” they heard Bellatrix say as the three Slytherins disappeared around the corner. The three girls burst into laughter.

They were still giggling when they arrived in the Great Hall for breakfast and sat down next to the Marauders, who glanced at them in curiosity. “What in the name of Merlin have you three been up to that’s so funny?” Lupin asked with a smile.

“Just playing a little beach ball,” Alice said, and the three girls collapsed into giggles again.

“They’ve gone mad,” Pettigrew squeaked.

Amelia wiped a tear from her eye. “We haven’t either,” she said, reaching for a plate of pancakes. “You’d be laughing too if you’d just seen Rodolphus LeStrange swell up like a giant beach ball and go rolling down the stairs.” When she said this, Potter’s fork went clanging to the ground, and Black dropped his glass of milk, spilling liquid all over his robes. Lupin gave them a look of mixed admiration and surprise, while Pettigrew looked confused. The girls erupted into a fit of giggles again at the reactions of the four boys.

Black flushed, and grabbed a napkin to wipe up the milk, which was soaking into his robes rapidly. “It’s not funny,” he said gruffly, causing the girls to laugh even harder. Potter bent down to retrieve his fork, but bumped his head on the table on the way up, sending them into another gale of laughter. The boys’ surprised expressions had turned to glares at the girls’ amusement with their shock.

“What happened?” Lupin asked when the girls had finally stopped giggling enough to talk.

Alice took a couple of deep breaths, and then told the boys the story. The boys also laughed at the description of LeStrange beginning to roll down the steps, and the rage on the face of Bellatrix. “Looks like you handled that quite well,” Potter said, smiling. “Of course, had it been us, we’d have cursed Bellatrix and Snape as well…”

“Still could, Jamesy,” Black said eagerly. “We need to defend Gryffindor’s honor.”

Lily’s expression went from one of amusement to one of outrage in a split second. “Don’t you dare use this as an excuse to start an all out war with Snape! We took care of it, no harm was done—,”

“At least not to us,” Alice chimed in, still laughing.

“So there’s no need to go and retaliate, because all it will do is lose Gryffindor more points!” Lily finished.

Black and Potter looked like they were going to dissent, but Lupin stepped in. “Of course there’s no need to retaliate,” he said soothingly to Lily. “We would never think of instigating a fight with Snape.” Lily wanted to believe him, but there was something about the look he gave to Black, Potter and Pettigrew that told Lily otherwise.

Amelia must have thought so, too. “Give me your word,” she said to Lupin.

“What?” he asked, clearly surprised.

“Your word. Give us your word that you won’t go starting more trouble with Snape,” Lily repeated, crossing her arms and giving Alice a look that clearly said to agree with her.

Alice looked disappointed, but as Lily's look turned to a glare, she reluctantly said, “Oh all right. Me, too. I want to hear you say you won't go starting anything else with Snape.”

Potter shook his head. “Oh this is ridiculous. What business is it of yours what we do?”

Lily glared at him. “What do you mean, ‘what business is it of ours’? We're in Gryffindor. It’s our house that suffers when the four of you—,”

“Why do you always act like it’s us that starts everything?” Potter interrupted, his voice now rising. “Snape isn’t the innocent bloke you think he is, and neither are his friends.”

Lily took several deep breaths before answering. “Snape was the only one who didn’t have his wand out, ready to curse. If he was the kind of person you say he is, I doubt he would have hesitated to hex us!”

Black looked thoughtful. “Now that’s a mighty good point, Evans,” he said slowly.

“Of course it is!” Lily said, then looked startled as what he had just said sunk in. “What do you mean, it is?” she said, suspicious now.

Lupin cut in before Black could answer. “Sirius is right. Believe what you will, Lily, but Snape is always trying to hex us whenever there are no teachers around. It’s odd that he hesitated with you.”

Lily had no idea where they were going with this. Apparently Pettigrew didn’t, either, for he chimed in, “Maybe he likes Lily.” Black gave Pettigrew a look that clearly said he thought that was the most idiotic suggestion he’d ever heard, but Potter looked furious. He took a deep breath as Black spoke.

Snape likes Lily?” Black said in a dumbfounded voice. “You’ve said some dumb things before, Petey, but that one has to take the cake!”

Lily was now offended. “Why’s it so hard to believe someone might like me? Lupin doesn’t think I’m so bad,” she said, now turning to Lupin. “Is it so unreasonable that Snape would like me? Well? Remus?” she said, now glaring at Lupin, who was staring determinedly at his plate. “Fine. Just because you all find me to be intolerable doesn’t mean another boy will,” she said huffily, shoving her plate away.

“It’s not—,” Lupin began, but Lily cut him off.

“I’m not hungry anymore,” she said, standing up. “I’ll see you girls in class.” With a last glare at the four boys, she walked out of the Great Hall.

“You don’t think she—” Lily heard Potter say as she walked away.

Black laughed. “I don’t think you’ve got anything to worry about, Jamesy.” Lily was so angry that she didn’t even bother to wonder what James didn’t have to worry about.


Lily arrived in the Transfiguration classroom, still steaming about the conversation with the Marauders. She looked up when Professor McGonagall approached, surprised that she had entered the classroom before the students had assembled. She did not look pleased. “Miss Evans, I need to speak to you, Miss Parker, and Miss Bones,” she said sternly. “Please remain after class is finished.” She turned and strode back up the aisle and into her office off of the classroom. Lily watched her retreat, apprehensive. What did she need to talk to them about? The class began to fill in around them. The Marauders, for once, did not sit next to them, and instead chose seats beside Kaylie and Desdamona, who were sitting near the back of the room.

Alice and Amelia arrived shortly thereafter, discussing Frank’s whereabouts. Lily suddenly realized that he hadn’t been at breakfast, and felt ashamed for not realizing it sooner. He must not have come back with the rest of the class. Alice and Amelia told her that nobody at the Gryffindor table had heard from Frank all of break, and that she was going to talk to her dad, who knew Frank’s uncle, and see if he had heard anything. Lily nodded, and then passed on the news that McGonagall wanted to see them after class.

“Us?” Alice asked, raising her eyebrows in surprise. “What’d we do?”

Dunno,” Lily mumbled, pulling out her parchment and quill. “But she didn’t look too pleased.”

Amelia looked suddenly panicked. “You don’t think it’s about LeStrange, do you? I mean, they must have taken him to Madam Pomfrey. She might have said something.”

“I doubt it,” Lily said, now writing the date at the top of her parchment. “I’ve heard the Marauders talk about her, and she seems to be quite discreet. I wonder if they took him to Amos?

Alice hissed. “That’d be just like them. I bet they told him that they were just walking down the hall and we hexed them.”

Shhh,” Amelia said, as Bellatrix and Snape arrived, without LeStrange. “I thought LeStrange would be with him.”

“It will probably take awhile for all of the air to deflate out of him,” Alice said with a smirk. The three girls giggled as McGonagall strode into the classroom in her usual no-nonsense way. They stopped talking and McGonagall began a lecture on rock transfiguration.

After class, they approached the front of the room apprehensively. “Please wait in my office,” McGonagall said gruffly as Snape approached her desk. Lily dropped her quill and bent down, pretending to look for it, in the hopes that she could overhear what Snape was going to say. Alice and Amelia quickly caught on to what she was doing, and also dropped to their knees, pretending to help her look. “Yes, Mr. Snape?” McGonagall said, and then noticing the three girls crouching down and pretending to look at the ground, she snapped, “Are you three waiting for a written invitation to my office?”

“Please Professor,” Alice said. “Lily dropped her quill.”

McGonagall peered at them sternly. “Unless this quill is somehow more valuable than those used by most Hogwarts students, I trust it will still be here when I am through speaking with you three. She can retrieve it then.” The three girls nodded, and hurried toward McGonagall’s office.

When they arrived, Alice and Amelia sat down, while Lily wandered around the room. One wall was lined with the chairs that Alice and Amelia were sitting on, and across from those was the desk. The ceilings in this room were extremely tall, and bookshelves lined the remaining three walls from bottom to top, filled to overflowing with books of all kinds. On McGonagall’s desk was a picture of a group of witches and wizards that Lily did not recognize. Or at least, Lily thought it was witches and wizards. She picked up the picture so she could examine it more closely. None of the people in the picture were moving, and they were all wearing muggle clothing. The door opened, and Lily dropped the picture back onto the desk quickly, moving to sit down beside Alice and Amelia as Professor McGonagall strode in.

“Professor Dumbledore would like to speak with the three of you in his office,” she said, scribbling something on a piece of paper. The three girls looked at each other, appalled. They were certain that what they had done to LeStrange did not warrant a visit to the headmaster’s office. “But Professor, we were just defending ourselves. It was a shield charm that landed LeStrange--,” Lily began, but Professor McGonagall cut her off.

“You have Defense Against the Dark Arts next, do you not?” Alice nodded. McGonagall scribbled something on to a piece of parchment on her desk, then walked over to the fire, grabbed some powder, sprinkled it into the fire, said “Professor Amos” and threw the note into the fireplace, where it was quickly engulfed in green flames. “I’ve just sent a note to Professor Amos, explaining your absence,” she said, acting as though throwing a note into the fireplace and expecting it to find its way to the appropriate person was not unusual (which, now Lily thought about it, it probably wasn’t, for her). She put her quill into her desk, and strode toward the door, motioning for the girls to follow her. “I’ll take to you to Professor Dumbledore.”

The girls trailed silently out of the door after her. After going through a series of doorways, up several staircases, down several more staircases, and then back up again, they arrived in front of a stone gargoyle. “Jelly Babies,” McGonagall said, and the gargoyle sprang aside, revealing a step that began to rise, reminding Lily of a muggle escalator. Professor McGonagall stepped onto the step, motioning for the girls to follow. When they arrived at the door to Dumbledore’s office, they found it shut.

McGonagall knocked softly, and after a moment, the door opened, revealing Dumbledore, who was smiling broadly. “Lily, Alice, Amelia,” he said, “I’ve been expecting you.” He motioned for them to come in. “Thank you, Minerva,” he said. McGonagall nodded, and began to descend the staircase as the trio followed Dumbledore into his office. Alice stopped dead just as Lily noticed that Dumbledore had not been alone when they’d arrived.

“Good to see you, Alice,” said the other occupant of the room, standing up and turning to face them. Lily looked in surprise between the man and Alice, noticing that Alice’s face had gone completely pale.

 

“Grandpa!” Alice exclaimed, a panicked note in her voice. “What are you doing here? Is everything all right? Mum, Dad…?”

The old wizard who had greeted Alice smiled merrily, his eyes twinkling much like Dumbledore’s had the habit of doing. He was wearing a gray and black checkered robe and held in his hand a light gray bowler hat. He looked very slight when standing next to Dumbledore’s tall frame, and Lily found herself a little surprised to find out that this little man was the legendary auror that she had heard so much about. “Everything is quite all right, dear. Your mum and dad are fine,” he said, catching her in a big hug then pulling back and looking over her head at Lily and Amelia. “Do you want to introduce me to your friends?”

Alice looked relieved. “Of course,” she said, grinning now. “This is Lily Evans and this is Amelia Bones.” She motioned to each of them in turn.

Mr. Parker’s round face, so much like Alice’s, crinkled into a smile. He shook hands with Amelia, and then grasped Lily’s, peering closely into her eyes so that Lily had the distinct impression that he was reading her mind. She hoped fervently that this wasn’t the case, because she strongly suspected that he had told Dumbledore the story about how and why they had come into possession of the missing page of the stolen text, and she was feeling rather irritated with him for betraying their confidence like he had. As this thought flitted through her mind, Mr. Parker winked and squeezed her hand, before releasing it with a chuckle. “No mystery why you’re a Gryffindor, dear,” he said. He turned and shook hands with Dumbledore, saying “It was good to see you again, old friend.” He set his hat on his head, smiling as he did so. “It’s always nice to reminisce about old times.”

Dumbledore returned the smile. “I agree, Neville. It’s important to keep old friendships alive, particularly under the current circumstances.”

Mr. Parker nodded. “I trust I’ll be seeing you again soon.” He turned to the girls, catching Alice in a hug again. “Be careful,” he said as he began to walk down the steps.

Alice laughed. “That’s Grandpa’s way of saying goodbye,” she said as they watched him disappear.

“Wish he’d have stuck around,” Amelia whispered as they reluctantly turned to face Dumbledore. Lily silently agreed. She wasn’t looking forward to whatever punishment she was going to receive for exploring a secret passageway while she was supposed to be in detention.

“Please have a seat, girls,” Dumbledore said, walking behind his desk and settling himself into his chair. The girls sat down without a word.

“Do you know why I’ve asked to speak to the three of you?” Dumbledore asked them kindly. Lily thought that Alice and Amelia probably were thinking the same thing she was, but all three shook their heads.

Dumbledore smiled, and something in his eyes gave Lily the distinct impression that he did not believe them. “Mr. Parker has just told me what you overheard on the train ride back from Christmas break, Lily,” he explained, folding his hands and resting his chin on them. Before any of them could say anything, he continued. “Now, you’re probably wondering why I called all three of you up here when it’s Lily that overheard, so I’ll explain. It has been my experience that friends tend to follow in each other’s footsteps. Therefore, if either you, Alice,” he paused and nodded at Alice, “or you, Amelia,” he paused again and nodded at Amelia, “had been on the train with Lily, you would have been with her when she stumbled across the conversation of Mr. Malfoy and his companions, wouldn’t you agree?”

They nodded, and Dumbledore chuckled quietly. “Indeed. So therefore, all three of you, and not just Lily, need to hear what I am about to say.” He paused and looked at them piercingly, his expression suddenly serious. “Students frequently hear information from their parents, who think it safe to speak in front of their children. They often pass it on to other students, and may not be as careful as their parents in choosing to whom to reveal the information, or indeed, in choosing the appropriate place. Oftentimes, this sensitive information is overheard by people that the speaker did not intend to hear,” Dumbledore again paused and looked at Lily, and she understood that he was talking about Malfoy’s conversation on the train. “This is true, whether a student’s parents are law-abiding, or whether they join forces with a dark wizard. Therefore, students are frequently a great asset to those aurors whose job it is to seek out and contain underground threats from dark wizards, so I do not discourage students from keeping their ears open.” Here he glanced at each in turn. “However, students that overhear this kind of information may find themselves in danger if the dark wizard or his supporters were to find out that they possess knowledge of the wizard’s plans. Do you understand what I am saying?”

None of the three answered right away. If Lily had understood Dumbledore correctly, he had been very diplomatically telling them to continue looking for the sort of opportunity that she had had on the train to learn about the dark wizard’s plans, and to continue passing this information on to Mr. Parker. However, he was also warning them to be discreet and not to discuss it when they could be overheard; to, in Mr. Parker’s words, be careful. Lily nodded, her head swimming. Dumbledore smiled. “Good,” he said. “I trust that I won’t have to speak of this with you again, then. Do you have any questions for me?”

Lily hesistated, unsure if she should ask the question that had been swimming around in her head as soon as Dumbledore had started talking. “Yes, Professor,” she said finally. “Do you believe what Malfoy was saying. That is, do you think he was telling the truth about the dark wizard, and Frank’s dad and all?”

Alice and Amelia, who had turned to look at Lily when she spoke, both now stared at Dumbledore. He peered at Lily, his eyes still serious behind his half-moon spectacles. “I’m afraid that I am not at liberty to discuss what I may or may not believe on the matter,” he answered carefully. “Particularly with a peer of Lucius Malfoy’s,” his tone made it quite clear that this line of questioning was done. “Do you have any other questions?”

Alice spoke this time. “Professor, we’re friends of Frank Longbottom’s,” she said quickly. “And we couldn’t help but notice that he didn’t return from break. Is he going to come back to Hogwarts?”

Dumbledore leaned back in his chair, his face relaxing and the twinkle returning to his eye. “You can stop worrying about that, Alice,” he said with a reassuring smile. “I spoke with Mrs. Longbottom shortly before your grandfather arrived, and she has informed me that he’ll be returning to classes next Monday. Are there any more questions?”

The girls shook their heads. “Good. I’ve got nothing further for you, and seeing as how Professor Amos isn’t expecting you back for the remainder of the class period, it would seem a shame for you to interrupt his lecture. If you make your way to the Gryffindor common room rather quickly, you shouldn’t be caught by Professor McGonagall’s patrol.” They gaped at him. Lily couldn’t believe that the headmaster of their school was in effect telling them to skive off the remainder of Defense Against the Dark Arts. She didn’t know what to say. Alice, however, had no such qualms.

“Thank you, Professor!” she said with a grin as they filed down the stairs and made their way toward Gryffindor tower.

 

***************************


“Do you really think it’s okay that we skipped class?” Lily asked in concern.

Alice rolled her eyes. “For the fifth time, YES! The headmaster of the school told us we could; I don’t think we’ll get in trouble for it.”

“Yes, but what if Amos covers something important?” Lily tried again.

This time it was Amelia who answered. “Then we’ll ask Remus for his notes,” Amelia said patiently. “And if we learned a new spell, Remus’ll show us that, too.”

Lily still didn’t look convinced. “What if…” Lily’s question was muffled by the pillow that had just hit her in the face. She pulled the pillow off of her and saw that Amelia and Alice were laughing.

“Just enjoy it, okay?” Alice said. Lily laughed. She had been being a little ridiculous, but she couldn’t help it. It was in her nature to worry about things like skivving off classes. She had certainly never done it before. As she was getting ready to apologize, a second pillow hit her, this time from Amelia. Deciding to stop worrying for the time being, she grinned, and pulled out her wand, launching pillows from all over the common room at Alice and Amelia, until a pile of pillows covered them completely.

They struggled out from under the pile, and began launching them back. An all-out pillow war ensued, until Potter’s voice called out, “Evans, Parker and Bones! I don’t believe it.” They paused mid-fight and looked up to see the four Marauders standing at the entrance to the common room, amazed looks on all of their faces.

“I think I need to sit down, mate,” Black said, settling dramatically into a nearby chair. “The three Gryffindor princesses skipped a class to have a pillow fight?”

Lupin looked a little put-out. “You three skipped class?” he asked. “I was worried that you weren’t there because LeStrange had decided to retaliate for this morning!”

Pettigrew stood there gaping at them, speechless. Lily blushed, but saw Alice looking at her, an evil glint in her eye. Alice motioned very slightly toward the pillows, and mouthed the words “on three”. Lily nodded imperceptibly, and watched as Alice gave the same instructions to Amelia. When Alice counted to three, they all launched the pillows at the Marauders, knocking Black off of his chair, and burying all four. The girls took off up the stairs to the dormitory. When they were far enough up to be safe from retaliation, they turned to watch as the boys began to struggle out from underneath the pile of pillows

“We’ll get you back for this!” Black shouted, but he was laughing.

“This definitely means war,” Potter added.

“I can’t believe you skipped classes,” Lupin said.

“My foot is stuck!” Pettigrew hollered. The three girls laughed. The pillow on top of Pettigrew’s foot had somehow gotten stuck underneath Black’s chair when it had tipped over, and it was pinning him to the ground. Potter removed the pillow and helped Pettigrew to his feet.

“You can come on down, girls,” Potter said. “You don’t have to worry about us retaliating when you’re expecting it.”

Black nodded from where he was still seated on the ground, his shaggy hair falling into his eyes. “Yes, surprise attacks are much more fun.”

Lupin grinned. “You three had better watch yourselves. I usually protect you whenever these two start plotting,” he said, “but don’t count on me to help you out this time.”

They laughed, and began walking back down the stairwell towards the boys. “As long as we’ve got fair warning,” Alice said. “We’ve beaten the Slytherins twice now, you four hardly scare us.” Alice offered Black a hand, and helped him up while the others began returning the pillows to where they belonged.

After they had straightened up the room, they turned to leave for lunch. “So why did you skip class?” Lupin asked as they walked toward the portrait hole.

Lily paused and looked around. The common room was still deserted, save for the seven of them. She quickly told them what Dumbledore had said. When she had finished, they stared at her. “Let me get this straight,” Potter said, his eyes wide. “Dumbledore TOLD you to skip class?”

Alice rolled her eyes. “That wasn’t really the ‘take home message’ of the meeting, Potter,” she said.

“Yes, we know,” Black interrupted. “But he actually said not to return to Amos’s class?”

Lily laughed. “In fact, he told us to hurry to avoid McGonagall’s patrol of the hallway,” she said.

Black and Potter exchanged incredulous glances. “Why doesn’t he ever say that to us when WE get called to his office?” Potter asked.

“You’d think he’d do it at least once!” Black agreed, “We’re there often enough.”

Lupin laughed at his friends. “He probably knows that you’ll skip without being told,” he said wryly.

Black cocked his head at Lupin. “I reckon you're right about that, Remmy,” he said with another laugh.

Lupin turned serious. “So Dumbledore wants us to keep our eyes and ears open for him?” he said thoughtfully, now looking very somber. “That sounds like he believes the threat from this dark wizard is very real.”

Pettigrew let out a small squeak of fear, and Potter, Black, Alice, Amelia and Lily all stared at him, the light mood from a moment ago all but forgotten in the wake of Lupin’s comment. Lily felt a shudder run down her spine. When you said it like that, she mused, that’s exactly what it sounded like.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 13: Lily’s Outburst


The following Monday, Frank returned to Hogwarts, looking tired and drawn, but happy to be back. He was given a hardy welcome by all of Gryffindor house, but everyone carefully stepped around the subject of the disappearance. It was now widely-known that Frank’s dad had disappeared shortly before Christmas. A few weeks prior, the Daily Prophet, the wizarding newspaper, had published a very small article on page 9 about Alexander Longbottom going missing. According to the article, he had disappeared while on a fishing expedition, but of course, all but a few of Frank’s fellow first-year Gryffindors knew that this was not the whole story.

Monday night, the girls sat with Frank at a table by a window in the common room, filling him in on the homework that he had missed. Lily was in the middle of a discussion on stitching charms when Alice sighed loudly. Lily glanced up in confusion. “Was something I said incorrect?” she asked.

Alice shook her head. “No,” she exclaimed, standing up and walking restlessly over to where Frank was sitting. He looked at her inquisitively.

“What is it, then?” Frank asked.

Alice sat down beside Frank. “It’s, well…it’s just that everyone’s been tip-toeing around this ever since you got back, and I’m not good at all that. I mean, if there’s an elephant in the common room, then I’m going to mention it. It’s just that no one else has, and I’ve been trying to be considerate, but I just can’t any longer,” she paused and flushed a little. “Do you understand what I’m saying?”

Lily and Amelia exchanged bewildered glances. Elephants in the common room? What on earth was Alice on about?

Frank, however, looked relieved, and he smiled sadly. “You’re wondering about my dad,” he said quietly.

Alice nodded, and then added. “Yes, but…Well, I’m worried about you, too. We all are.” She motioned at Amelia and Lily, who nodded. “This can’t be easy for you.”

Frank looked at Alice for a moment. “No,” he said finally. “It hasn’t been. Mum’s beside herself with worry, she nearly didn’t let me come back to school this term. And to make matters worse, the ministry won’t even acknowledge that Dad didn’t just disappear. Mum’s convinced there’s another reason that he disappeared.” Frank stopped and looked up at them, his eyes frightened. “She won’t tell me what, though…” His voice trailed off.

Alice, Amelia and Lily all looked at him sympathetically. Lily debated whether or not she should tell Frank what she’d overheard on the train. Eventually, Lily decided to keep it to herself for the time being. There were too many people around at the moment, anyway. The risk was too great that they’d be overheard, and Dumbledore had just warned them to be careful where they spoke about such things. She thought she’d probably tell him some other time, though. Somehow she felt that he deserved to know.

“If there’s anything that you need, Frank, anything at all,” Alice said earnestly, “let us know. We'd be honored to help you.”

Amelia nodded. “Even if it’s just taking notes because you’ve gone to visit your mum.”

Gone to visit my mum?” Frank asked, obviously trying to lighten the mood. “Have you gone mad? I’ve only just escaped!”

The three girls laughed. “Well then,” Lily said brightly, turning back to her Charms notes. “Shall we get on with stitching charms, then?”


After Lily, Alice and Amelia had finished catching Frank up on the schoolwork he had missed, the four of them began working on their Transfiguration homework. Lily was flipping through her text, trying to find an illustration of the proper wand movement for transfiguring a feather into a feather duster when the Marauders minus Lupin came barreling into the common room, breathing heavily, their faces flushed, and eyes dancing with delight. Lily scowled and shook her head, wondering what they had been up to this time. It appeared that Andomeda had the same thought, because she went striding over to where they were leaning against the wall, trying to catch their breath. “What have the three of you been doing?” she demanded.

On cue, the expression on all three of their faces turned from delight to innocence. “I’m hurt, Andromeda!” Black began, but she cut him off.

“Don’t give me the ‘I’m hurt’ line, Sirius. I’ve known you a little too long to buy it. And I know you well enough to recognize when you’ve been up to something. Why were you three running like the Bloody Baron was after you?” The boys all exchanged glances, but kept their faces determinedly straight.

“We have no idea what you’re talking about, Andy,” Potter said. Black and Pettigrew nodded quickly.

“We were simply having a race to see who was the fastest,” Black added.

“Potter won,” Pettigrew piped in.

Andromeda looked as though she’d like nothing better than to give the three of them detention for whatever it was they had done, but as she was unable to find any proof that they had been causing trouble, she settled for a glare. “You boys had better watch yourselves,” she said finally, turning and walking away. The three boys immediately burst into laughter as she went.

“You boys had better watch yourselves,” Black said in a perfect imitation of Andromeda that sent Pettigrew into gales of laughter. Black glanced at him in bemusement. “I remember when she used to be fun.” Pettigrew finally stopped giggling and wiped the tears from his eyes.

“Andromeda used to be fun?” Potter asked, with a sideways glance at Pettigrew. This started Pettigrew howling all over again.

Potter glanced over and caught Lily looking at them. His smile widened, and she quickly looked back at her book, trying to ignore them.

Potter headed over to sit beside Kaylie and Desdamona, and Lily noticed in annoyance that Kaylie immediately started giggling and batting her eyelashes. “Honestly!” Lily thought, “You’d think she’s never met a boy before, the way she carries on.” She tried to go back to reading, but kept getting distracted by the laughter and noise coming out of the corner where the three boys, Kaylie and Desdamona were sitting.

After she had read the same sentence six times, she’d finally had enough. “Oi, you five!” she hollered, lowering her book and glaring at them. “You want to keep it down? Some of us have homework to do.”

Potter turned and grinned at her. “What’s the matter, Evans? Transfiguration still not going well for you?”

Lily’s glare turned positively icy. “You know, every time I think you might be decent, Potter, you go and prove otherwise,” she said in calm, measured tones.

“Oh for Merlin’s sake, Evans!” Potter called out, glowering. “It’s called a sense of humor. Try using it.”

The entire Gryffindor common room had gone quiet and was now watching the exchange. Lily was preparing to retort when Andromeda interrupted. “Knock it off, you two,” she said. “Or I will give you both detention. As you pointed out yourself, Lily, people are trying to study.” Lily blushed, but Potter continued to glare at her.

“Sorry,” Lily mumbled, sitting back down and trying to ignore the looks of shock that Amelia and Alice were giving her.

Potter looked like he wanted to say something, but as Andromeda had now turned her gaze on him, he sat back down. Lily scowled again as she heard Kaylie let out a trill of giggling. “It was obvious it was a joke, Jamesy,” she said in a sickeningly sweet voice. For pity’s sake! He wasn’t THAT cute. She started. What was she thinking? He wasn’t cute at all!

Her thoughts were interrupted by Alice. “What in the world was that outburst about, Lily?” she asked.

“Nothing,” she said, opening her book. “I’m just sick and tired of him giving me a hard time about Transfiguration.”

“Well that’s all good and fine, Lily,” Amelia said in concern. “But you blew up at him before anyone said anything about Transfiguration. They weren’t making that much noise!”

“If you ask me,” Frank said, grinning a little, “I think Lily makes it a point to yell at Potter on principle. It’s not the first time she’s yelled at him for no real reason.”

“I don’t yell at him for no reason!” she said furiously.

Alice gave Frank a contemplative look. “Do you know, you’re right Frank?” she said, ignoring Lily. “That’s definitely not the first time. Although I thought the two of you were getting on better since Christmas?”

Lily was still seething. “He is an arrogant git, and I will never get along with him, are we clear? It’s just that he was there when I overheard Malfoy talking about Frank’s dad, and—,” Lily clapped her hands over her mouth in horror as she realized what she’d just said.

Frank looked stunned. “My—my dad?” he asked. “What do you know about my dad, Lily?”

Lily felt the anger flooding out of her, and looked helplessly between Alice and Amelia. They were both watching Frank. Alice moved her hand to his shoulder. “I think maybe you ought to tell him,” she said quietly.

Lily looked at Amelia, who nodded. “Okay,” she said with a sigh.

Lily proceeded to quietly relate to Frank what she had heard on the train about his Dad. “So it’s true, then. What my Mum suspects?” he said in disbelief after she had finished.

They all nodded sadly. “Looks like it,” Alice answered.

Frank looked at them, and they could see tears welling up in his eyes. “I’ve got to…ummm…,” He trailed off and stood up.

“Frank,” Amelia said, but he waved his hand at her. “I need to be alone,” he said, walking towards the portrait hole.

Alice looked at Lily and Amelia as Frank disappeared. “I’m going after him. In this state, he might try to find Malfoy and hex the truth out of him. You two stay here. No reason for all three of us to get in trouble for being out of bounds at this hour.”

Lily and Amelia protested, but Alice held up a hand. “I really don’t have time to argue with you two right now. Please, stay here. The last thing I need is to worry about the two of you, too.”

Lily and Amelia nodded silently. “Good,” she said. “I’ll be back.”

Alice went over to where the boys were sitting. She said something to Potter, and he spoke to Pettigrew, who jumped up and ran toward the boys’ dormitory. When he returned, he was carrying a bag that Lily was nearly certain contained Potter’s invisibility cloak. Alice grabbed it, and headed out the portrait after Frank.

“Think we should have let her go alone?” Lily asked quietly.

Amelia shrugged. “Dunno. But I don’t think we were going to convince her to let us come with. You know how stubborn Alice can be.”

Lily nodded. “Right then,” she said. “I suppose we’d better get back to our homework.”

Amelia agreed, but they were both too distracted with worry about Frank and Alice. After they’d tried to work for half an hour and gotten nowhere, they gave up. Amelia challenged Lily to a game of chess, and they spent the next several hours playing quietly. The common room slowly emptied around them, until only the two of them and the three Marauders remained.

Just as Amelia was beating Lily for the second time, the portrait hole burst open as it had earlier, but for a moment, it looked as though no one was there. Then, Frank's head appeared, and he looked around, terrified. “It’s….Alice…,” he panted. They all jumped to their feet, quickly getting over their surprise.

“What? What happened?” Lily and Amelia demanded as one.

“They’ve…outside…” he said.

“No time to talk,” Potter said, running toward the portrait hole. “Just show us!”

Frank nodded, and they followed.  As soon as they all tumbled out of the portrait hole, Frank headed down the stairs toward the entrance hall. “Wait,” Potter called, glancing at Black. “Where are we going?”

“Outside!”
Frank panted. “They’ve got her down by the lake.”

Black nodded at Potter. “Follow us,” he said, and they turned abruptly and headed toward the suit of armor that was standing opposite the portrait of the fat lady on the landing. Amelia glanced at Lily in curiosity, but she shrugged. She had no idea what they were doing.

“You’re wasting time!” Frank called. “They’re hurting her!”

“This is faster,” Potter assured him.

Black began muttering something to the armor, which stepped aside, revealing an opening in the ground. “Everyone jump in!” he said, disappearing.

Lily glanced apprehensively at Potter, but he was now urging them forward. “Come on! You’re wasting time. This is the quickest way out to the lake!”

Deciding that time was far too precious to debate, she sat down on the edge, and felt what appeared to be a very narrow slide at her feet. She shoved off, and began to slide, twisting and turning in total darkness. Her elbows kept bumping against the wall, slowing her down and scraping them painfully before she could finally tuck them in closely at her sides. A couple of times she felt something brush in her hair, and shrieked. As she continued to slide, she could hear Black’s laughter ahead of her, and Amelia’s screams behind her. Finally, she saw a bit of moonlight at the end of the passage, and landed with a thud on the soft snow. Black reached out a hand and pulled her out of the way, which was lucky, because a few seconds later, Amelia came shooting out of the opening, and landed where Lily had been sitting moments earlier. Lily turned to look at the base of the slide, and was amazed to find that it appeared to be the mouth of a Gargoyle carved into the side of the castle. It occurred to her to wonder briefly how they’d discovered that passage, but before she could ask, Pettigrew had shot out, followed closely by Frank and Potter. They headed toward the lake, Frank in the lead.

The moon was full, and shone brightly on the blanket of snow which had covered Hogwarts since December. The brightness proved to be a double-edged sword. It was very easy for them to spot Alice and her captors, but it also meant that it was going to be very difficult indeed to creep up on them, unnoticed. As they approached, they could hear laughter, along with Alice’s voice, which sounded terrified. They paused in the shelter of a tree, and Lily could see three figures off to the right of them, forming a circle. “First thing’s first. Who are we facing? Who’s got Alice?” Potter asked quickly.

Frank’s voice trembled as he answered. “Bellatrix, LeStrange and Snape,” he said quietly. The three Marauders fairly growled as Frank answered. “Alice had come to find me. We talked for awhile, and then I told her that I really needed some time by myself, and to get back upstairs before she got into trouble. She left, but left this cloak with me—,” and for the first time, Lily realized that Frank had the invisibility cloak with him, “so I didn’t get into trouble when I came back, and as I was coming inside, I saw them by the lake, and Alice was…screaming, and…I hope she’s okay. I should never have left her.”

Potter put his hand on Frank’s arm. “You did the right thing, Frank. You couldn’t have helped her by yourself.”

Black nodded. “Okay, so there are only three of them. The four of us should be able to take them without a problem, but they know more hexes than we do, particularly Snape, so we’ve got to surprise them. Is anyone here besides Jamesy and I experienced in dueling?” Lily and Amelia shook their heads, but Frank nodded yes. Pettigrew half nodded and half shook his head no.

“I know what you and Sirius have taught me,” he squeaked.

“Okay, here’s what we’re going to do, then,” Potter said, taking over. “Sirius, you take Amelia and circle around to the other side, follow the trail that leads right down to the shore. Crawl along the shore, and come up to the left of where they are right now, right across from us. The embankment there is steep, so it should hide you from view until we’re ready to attack. Do you have your mirror?” Black nodded. “Good, I’ll call you when we’re in place.” Black turned and headed down towards the embankment, motioning for Amelia to follow him. They began to walk quietly toward the shore, taking care to stay within the shadows of the trees.

Potter watched them for a moment, and then turned back to Lily, Pettigrew and Frank. “Lily, you stay with me. We’re going to go after them from this side. Frank and Peter, we need you to create a diversion, draw them off to the left, toward where we’ll be waiting. We don’t want Alice getting caught in the crossfire. She’s already bad off from the sounds of it.” Lily winced at this, and he paused to look at her, and then squeezed her shoulder. “She’s going to be all right,” he said reassuringly before turning back to Pettigrew and Frank. “You two will need to use my cloak so that you can get up real close to them.”

Pettigrew’s face looked pale, but he followed Frank under the cloak and disappeared. Two sets of footsteps appeared in the snow trailing away from Lily and Potter. That was no good, Lily thought, suddenly panicked. The Slytherins were bound to notice that, and it’d lead them straight to her and Potter. “Frank, Peter, just a second” she whispered frantically. “Come here.”

The footsteps doubled back and stopped just in front of her. “Take off the cloak for a minute.” Frank and Peter appeared in front of her again, and she pointed her wand at Frank’s shoes. “Caelum Adambulo,” Lily said, swishing her wand in a wide arc, and then repeating the process with Pettigrew. “There, that should keep you from making footprints in the snow.”

Potter stared at her in astonishment. “I learned it when I was looking through all of those ancient charm texts,” Lily explained. “You’d better get going, you two. Sirius and Amelia are probably in position by now.” Lily said another charm that wiped the snow clean of their old footprints, and she noted in satisfaction that no more appeared as they walked away.

Potter stared after Frank and Pettigrew and shook his head. “Bloody brilliant,” he said, before turning back to her. “Right. Once Frank and Pete draw Bellatrix, LeStrange and Snape away from Alice, Pete, Sirius, Frank and I will surround them. I want you to go to Alice and get her out of here. If she’s okay, then take her back up to Gryffindor, and try to avoid the main hall so you don’t get caught. If she’s not, then you and Amelia will need to get her up to the hospital wing. Do not, under either circumstance, wait around to make sure that the four of us are okay, all right? You and Amelia don’t have any dueling experience, and Alice won’t be in any state to help us fight. The last thing any of us needs is all three of you hurt. Just get her out of here at the earliest opportunity. Do you understand?”

Lily nodded, slightly irritated by the way that he was bossing her around, but too relieved that they were going to get Alice to safety to say anything. “Good.” He reached into his robes and pulled out the same mirror he’d used the night they’d had detention. “Sirius,” he said, and once again Sirius’s head appeared. “Here’s what we’re going to do.” As he was explaining the plan to Sirius, Lily noticed that Bellatrix, Snape and LeStrange had stopped laughing, and were now creeping toward the trees off to the left. They had left Alice where they had been standing, and Lily had to stifle a scream as she realized that Alice was lying there, motionless.

“Looks like Peter and Frank have distracted them,” she said thickly to Potter, who looked up.

“Ready, Sirius?” he asked. She heard Sirius bark yes. “Okay, on three. One, two, three!” Lily took off toward where Alice was laying, and saw Amelia charging up the bank toward Alice from the opposite direction. She caught a brief glimpse of the four boys encircling Bellatrix, LeStrange and Snape, but her attention was soon focused entirely on Alice. She was bleeding from several different cuts on her face, her robes were torn, and she was curled up into a ball on the ground. Lily dropped to her knees and called out, “Alice? Alice? Are you awake?”

No answer came, so Amelia tried talking to her. “Alice? We need to get you back up to the hospital. If you can help us, please tell us. Can you stand up?” The only answer was a low moan. Amelia glanced at Lily. “We have to get her upstairs,” she said quickly.

Lily looked around. The two of them couldn’t very well carry her by themselves. Oh! Why hadn’t they learned how to conjure things yet? A stretcher would come in handy. “Do you have any ideas how to get her out of here?” she asked.

Amelia’s face screwed up in thought. “I think if we both did wingarium leviosa it would be powerful enough to levitate her, and we might be able to float her upstairs.”

Lily clapped her hands together. “Great idea. On three, then. One, two, three. WINGARDIUM LEVIOSA!” they said, and Alice floated slowly off the ground. Lily glanced over her shoulder toward the fight that was going on between the Gryffindors and the Slytherins, and saw two figures huddled on the ground, but she couldn’t discern who they were. Part of her wanted to go help the boys out, but she remembered Potter telling her that it was up to her and Amelia to get Alice to safety. “Concentrate on the spell,” Lily said, making up her mind. She would do as Potter had suggested, and get Alice to Madam Pomfrey. She and Amelia each grabbed onto Alice’s robes with their free hands, taking care to keep their wands pointed at her. “We need to get her out of here, now!” she said, not looking back as they headed toward the castle, Alice floating along behind them.


The girls made their way into the castle quietly, trying to stay out of the main stairwell, as that seemed the most likely place to run into a prefect or professor. Unfortunately, avoiding the main hall also meant that it took them considerably longer to make their way to the hospital wing than it otherwise would have. Alice was still more or less unconscious, which turned out to be a blessing, as she was very quiet. Fortunately, they didn’t run into any authority figures, and finally arrived at the hospital wing, panting and out of breath from running the last few hundred yards. They knocked quietly on the door to the infirmary, and it swung open shortly. Madam Pomfrey stood there, dressed impeccably as always in her nursing robes. “Can I help you girls?” she asked before seeing Alice floating behind them. Her expression changed to one of outrage. “Let her down, you silly girls. What have you done?” she asked, conjuring a stretcher on to which Lily and Amelia lowered Alice.

“We didn’t do anything, Madam,” Amelia began, but Madam Pomfrey waved her explanation away.

“Never mind, I’ll need to do a thorough diagnosis. You two WAIT HERE. I’ll be wanting to speak to you about this after I treat her.” She began to float the stretcher after her into the hospital ward, but turned around abruptly. “Are there any others coming?”

Lily and Amelia looked at one another uncertainly. “Um…there might be, Madam,” Lily finally answered.

Madam Pomfrey made a noise that sounded suspiciously like a growl, and disappeared into the hospital room with Alice. Amelia and Lily sat in silence for a moment, both trying not to think of what was happening outside. Lily felt confident that the four boys could take on Bellatrix, LeStrange and Snape, but who was to say that there weren’t more Slytherins on the way? But that was ridiculous. After all, the Slytherins had obviously not expected a rescue party for Alice. Or had they? Had they seen Frank slipping under the invisibility cloak and somehow called for reinforcements? As had become her habit whenever she was feeling scared or stressed, Lily slipped her hand into her pocket, and grasped the locket that her father had given her before she had arrived at Hogwarts. She did not have a chain for it, but she kept it with her at all times as a tangible reminder of home. As she felt herself start to relax, a sudden vision came to Lily of the four boys being ambushed by older Slytherins. Crabbe was hitting Potter with some curse that doubled him over in pain. Sirius was on the ground, three older Slytherins surrounding him, kicking him. Frank and Pettigrew were surrounded by a group that appeared to be led by Malfoy. Frank was shouting something she couldn’t hear. Off to the side stood Bellatrix, Snape and LeStrange, bruised but smiling…

“Lily?” Amelia was fairly screaming. Lily opened her eyes and realized that she had fallen off of her chair, and was now lying on the ground. She sat up abruptly and looked around wildly.

“The boys!” she said, standing up so quickly that she nearly knocked over Amelia, who had been leaning over her. She had to go tell the boys. But what about Alice? She couldn't just leave her. But then, Alice was with Madam Pomfrey now, so there was little else she could do, and someone needed to warn the boys. Lily decided, and headed toward the door. “I have to warn them! They’re going to be ambushed!” Lily pulled the door open and ran out. Amelia called after her, but Lily didn’t stop. She had to get to them; had to warn them. The Slytherins were on their way. Lily didn’t pause to think how she knew this, how she could be so certain. She just ran as fast as her legs could carry her, up the corridor to the main stairs, down the steps two at a time, not caring this time if someone saw her, only knowing that she had to get down to the lake as quickly as she could. She reached the main entrance and ran out the door, down the stone steps, and made for the lake. “Let me be in time,” she prayed. “Just let me make it on time.”

As Lily drew nearer to the lake, she could see the fighting that was taking place. Pettigrew was huddled on the ground. He appeared to be in pain, but otherwise okay. Frank was circling LeStrange. LeStrange looked bruised, but she could hear him taunting Frank. “Your family’s worthless, Longbottom. Muggle-loving fools, the lot of them! You couldn’t hurt me if you tried!” Lily noticed with a small thrill that LeStrange no longer appeared to have his wand.

Longbottom laughed. “You’re pathetic, LeStrange. You don’t even have your wand right now. I could have Pettigrew come over here and curse you, and he’d best you. In fact, I should do that. I’d love to see a LeStrange bested by a muggle born.” Frank motioned to Pettigrew, who struggled painfully to his feet. “Come on, Petey. You can take this loser!”

Pettigrew raised his wand. “Petrificus Totalus!” he roared. LeStrange ducked out of the way, but he was too slow. Pettigrew’s spell hit him, and he went instantly stiff, and toppled to the ground.

Frank high-fived Pettigrew and walked over to where LeStrange was lying on the ground. “Yet another reason blood means nothing, LeStrange. Someday you’ll learn that.” He turned back to Peter. “Nice curse, Petey. Now shall we help James and Sirius?” Lily looked around and saw James and Sirius both fighting Snape.

They had apparently been hit with a few hexes, as Potter’s face bore the unmistakable evidence of someone who had been hit with a twitching curse. His eyes blinked, his eyebrows went up and down, and his ears and nose twitched at random intervals. Black scarcely looked better. He was half-bent over, and seemed to be sprouting some sort of plant out of the top of his head. Snape wasn’t in any better condition, though. From the looks of things, someone had landed a jelly legs curse, and from his black eye, one of the boys had also landed a punch. He was still holding his own, however. At the moment, every curse the two Gryffindors were throwing at Snape, he was managing to block, so they had to keep diving out of the way of the rebound. After Potter dove out of the way of his latest curse, he stood up, and the three boys began circling warily, Black doing everything he could to stand upright.

Snape yelled out “Serpensortia” and an adder flew out of his wand and landed, hissing, in front of Potter and Black. For a moment, they both stared at him in shock, and then began to step away. “Where did you learn that one, Snivellus?” Potter asked, as he walked slowly backward.

Black kept his wand on the snake. “Any ideas, mate?” he asked, still edging backward.

Potter shook his head, also pointing his wand at the snake. “None. I don’t think I’ve learned any hexes that work on snakes.”

Snape laughed. “What's the matter?” he said menancingly. “I thought Gryffindors were supposed to be brave? You’re an embarrassment to your house, the two of you!” Potter snarled and raised his wand to Snape. “Go on then,” Snape said, in a bored sounding voice. “I’ll just block it again, and maybe when you dive out of the way of the rebound, you’ll fall right into the path of the adder. They’re Britain’s only poisonous snake, you know,” he said with a chuckle. “At least, the only poisonous snake that muggles know about.”

At that moment, a voice yelled out, “Petrificus serpens!” The snake froze and fell to the ground like LeStrange had earlier. Snape, Potter and Black all turned in astonishment to see Pettigrew standing there, his wand still pointing at the snake.

“Where’d you learn that one, Petey?” Potter asked as Snape turned his wand toward Pettigrew. Before he could do anything, however, Frank yelled out, “Expelliarmus!” and Snape went flying backwards, his wand flying out of his hand.

“Don’t move, Snape,” he said in a low voice. “It’s four against one. We’d knock you out before you could even get to your wand.” Snape glared from his position on the ground, but did as he was told. Frank turned to Pettigrew. "See, I told you that you could do it!" Pettigrew, who looked more amazed than anyone, was slowly turning his wand in his hand, looking at it as though this was the first time he'd ever seen it.

“Where’s Bellatrix?” Black asked as Lily reached the trees where they had hidden earlier. She was just about to run into the clearing and warn them to get out of there when ten figures stepped out of the shadows on the other side, led by none other than Lucius Malfoy.

 

“You lot! Get back to our common room now,” Malfoy’s voice said. “You’re a disgrace to the name of Slytherin, losing a duel with four lousy Gryffindors. But don’t worry. We shall restore Slytherin’s honor.” Snape unfroze LeStrange, and the three first-years began to walk toward the castle. As soon as Malfoy turned his gaze back to the Gryffindors, however, the three younger Slytherins paused and turned to watch the proceedings. The nine remaining Slytherins turned and encircled the four Gryffindors. “We shall teach you some respect, yet,” Malfoy spat. “You!” he said, glaring at Pettigrew. “Do you not know that a Gryffindor should always fall to his knees in the presence of a Slytherin? Well, go on then. Kneel!” Pettigrew looked like he was going to comply, but Potter grabbed his arm and stopped him. “I wouldn’t listen to your friend if I were you, boy!” he said, “You’ll kneel!” He pointed his wand at Pettigrew and muttered something. Pettigrew fell to his knees with a cry. The other Slytherins laughed. Lily thought frantically. This was only the beginning. She knew what was going to happen. She had to help. But what could she do? If she ran out there right now, she would just be giving them a fifth person to torture. She looked around frantically as Frank rounded on Malfoy. “Let him up!” Frank said, glaring. “Let him up now!” Pettigrew was still howling in pain.

Malfoy and the other Slytherins laughed. Then Malfoy tapped his chin. “You’re Alexander Longbottom’s son, aren’t you?” Frank’s face went pale, and Malfoy grinned. “No wonder he ran away. I’d leave my family too, if I had a brat like you for a son!”

Frank was now breathing heavily. “My father did not leave us!” he fairly shouted. “You know bloody well that he was taken for a reason!”

Malfoy glared. “What do you know about your father being taken, boy?” he asked, the amusement gone from his voice.

Potter grabbed Frank’s arm and whispered something. Frank nodded. “Just what we’ve been able to guess, Malfoy. My family isn’t quite as stupid as you believe us to be. We know my father’s job makes him a target to those interested in ancient magic.”

Malfoy peered at him for a moment then gazed around the circle. “I’ve had enough talking,” he said, and the other Slytherins chuckled. “Fire away, boys!”

Lily looked around frantically. Off in the distance, she saw light flooding out the window of a snow-covered cabin. She took off running. When she arrived, she pounded on the door. The giant-man that had led them across the lake on the first night answered. “Hagrid!” she cried, relieved.

He looked confused. “Who’re yeh and why’re ye ou’ this late?”

Lily felt her heart thudding with fear and hesitated. She had no idea if this man would help her. For all she knew, he could be dangerous. She took a deep breath. She had no choice, though. He was her only hope. “I’m Lily Evans, sir. I’m a first year Gryffindor. And I’m out this late because four of my classmates are being attacked by older Slytherins. I—,”

Hagrid’s eyes grew round. “Then wha’ are we standinaroun’ here talkinfer?” He grabbed his umbrella and walked out of the house. “Where are they?” he asked.

"By the lake," Lily answered, and he turned and began striding toward the lake, Lily running to keep up with him. She wondered vaguely why on earth he’d grabbed his umbrella. The sky was perfectly clear; there was no rain in sight.

“Hey, yeh lot!” Hagrid called out when they arrived in the clearing. The scene looked exactly as Lily had pictured it upstairs. Potter was doubled over, gasping, and Crabbe was standing in front of him, laughing. Three Slytherins were standing over Black, kicking him. Frank and Pettigrew were surrounded, and Frank was shouting at Malfoy, who was pointing his wand at him and warning him to be quiet. Yeh best leave these young ‘uns alone. Malfoy, yeh oughter be ashamed o’ yerself, duelin’ firs’ years!” The Slytherins looked up at Hagrid, and began laughing.

“You have no authority over us, Hagrid!” Malfoy snickered.

Hagrid grinned, but it wasn’t the friendly smile that he’d given the first years on their first night at Hogwarts. “Yer righabou’ that, Malfoy,” Hagrid agreed. “But as yeh may know, I get on well wit’ Dumbledore, and I’m sure he’d be int’rested in findin’ out why yeh were outta bed so late, and why yeh were beatin’ up these firs’ years.” Malfoy’s face paled, but he didn’t say anything. Hagrid chuckled, as Lily and the other Gryffindors ran over to where Black was lying on the ground. “Tha’s what I thought,” he said, pointing his umbrella at the Slytherins. “Accio wands,” he said. Lily glanced up in surprise as the Slytherins wands all went flying toward him, and he caught them easily in his large hand. So that’s why Hagrid had thought his umbrella necessary for this evening. “Now, yeh’ll be comin’ wit’ me ter speak ter Dumbledore. I hope he expels yeh lot fer this.”

Lily turned to Hagrid in alarm. Hagrid, no! You can’t!” she said. She heard Potter and Frank echo the same sentiments on either side of her.

Hagrid’s kind eyes turned to her in confusion. “I have ter,” he said gently. “I can’ jus’ let these uns’ get away wit’ all o’ this.”

“But you have to, Hagrid!” she urged. “If you take them to Dumbledore, we’ll get into trouble just the same. He might even expel us, too!”

Lily’s right, Hagrid!” Frank said. “It’s my fault everyone’s even out here tonight. If I hadn’t run out of the common room, Alice never would have followed me, and then we wouldn’t have had to come out after her!”

Hagrid looked troubled for a moment, and then sighed. “All righ’,” he agreed before turning back to the Slytherins. “I won’ take yeh to Dumbledore. But I will tell yeh tha’ if yeh try somethin’ like this again, Dumbledore will be the least o’ yer concerns. Now go on, get back ter yer common room, all o’ yeh! And Malfoy, I’ll be havin’ a talk wit’ Dumbledore about yeh abusinyer prefect’s badge.” The Slytherins glared menancingly at Hagrid but began walking toward the castle.

“What about our wands?” a Slytherin that Lily didn’t know asked.

Yeh’ll get ‘em when I’ve decided yeh’ve earned ‘em,” Hagrid said, and then walked over to where Black was lying on the snow. “Come on, yeh four. We need ter get yer friend here up to Madam Pomfrey.” He reached down and picked Black up easily, and then followed the Slytherins toward the castle.

When they arrived at the hospital wing, Madam Pomfrey came out, tutting loudly about foolish fighting, and levitated Black onto a stretcher before motioning for the other boys to follow her. “You three look like you need some attention too, once I get Mr. Black taken care of. Follow me. You two,” she added, rounding on Lily and Amelia, “get back to your dorms. These four will be just fine, and you can’t do anything else for Miss Parker right now.”

Amelia sighed warily. “Yes Madam,” she said as Madam Pomfrey disappeared.

Lily turned to Hagrid. “Thanks for helping me out down there,” she said, her voice shaking from all that had gone on that night.

Hagrid smiled kindly at her. “I was glad ter help,” he said, before turning and exiting the infirmary.

Amelia smiled weakly at Lily, but didn’t say anything as they walked back to Gryffindor tower, under cover of the invisibility cloak that Frank had handed to Lily as they walked back up to the castle. When they arrived at the common room, they went upstairs, and warily got ready for bed. Lily finally broke the silence. “How’s Alice?” she asked quietly.

Amelia sighed. “Madam Pomfrey said she’s going to be all right, though she’ll need to spend the next week or two in hospital.” She looked at Lily as though she wanted to ask her something, but couldn’t.

Lily smiled. “You want to know how I knew about the ambush?” she asked. Amelia blushed and nodded. Lily shrugged. “I have no idea,” she said truthfully. “I just knew.”

Lily sat down on her bed, and felt something tickle her hand. She looked down and noticed that there were feathers all over her bed. Her pillows had been cut open and the contents dumped everywhere. She pulled back her covers, and saw that her sheets were several feet to short, and when she let down the curtains of her four-poster, she saw that they were flashing “Marauders Rule! Princesses Drool!” She looked at Amelia’s bed, and then at Alice’s. Both looked much like her own. They couldn’t see Kaylie’s and Desdamona’s beds, as both had their curtains drawn, but their curtains had not been bewitched, so it was likely that they had been left untouched. “Looks like we can stop worrying about them getting us back for the pillow fight,” Amelia said with a small grin. Lily started laughing, and Amelia joined her.

Shh!” Kaylie said angrily. They grinned at each other, and began cleaning up quietly. Lily performed a lengthening charm on the sheets and Amelia repaired the pillows with the stitching charm they’d just learned. They couldn’t figure out the countercharm to make the curtains stop flashing, however, so they decided to leave them for the night. After they’d finished with their own beds, they cleaned up Alice’s.

“I wonder how they managed to do it?” Amelia asked, lying down in her bed. “I mean, without being able to get into the girls’ dormitory and all.”

Lily sank gratefully into her own bed. “I dunno,” she said truthfully, crawling under her covers and laying down. “But as soon as they get out of the hospital, I’m going to kill them.”

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 14: A Different Side of Snape


Two weeks later, Alice was still in the hospital for the injuries that she’d sustained while being held captive by the Slytherins. Her recovery was slow, and for the first few days, every time that they went to visit her, she’d been sleeping. Lily and Amelia had simply left notes for her to read when she woke up, and then left her alone, at Madam Pomfrey’s insistence. Once she had finally recovered to the point that she was awake more than she was asleep, Lily and Amelia had begun spending as much time in the infirmary as they spent in class.

Alice was now doing extremely well. Whenever they arrived this week, she was sitting up, playing chess or some other game with none other than Sirius Black, and Lily couldn’t help but feel very sorry for her indeed that he was her only companionship while they were in class. Black had been injured even worse, if possible, than Alice was, but had recovered fairly quickly, with the exception of the lingering bruises from the muggle beating that he had taken before Lily had arrived. Whenever Lily mentioned how terrible it must be to have no one but Black to keep you company all day (which was just about every time she saw her), Alice always insisted that she didn’t mind being cooped up with Black, really. She maintained that Black had turned out to be very nice, and always kept her entertained, but Lily couldn’t imagine spending that much time with him and not going insane. The other problem with Black being in the hospital with Alice, at least from Lily’s point of view, was that every time they went to visit her, they would invariably run into the other three Marauders, which Lily always dreaded.

The friendship formed between Lily and Potter on the night of the ambush had ended the following day, when Lupin had returned. He'd been visiting his grandmother, and looked quite more exhausted than usual. They had all eagerly relayed the previous night’s events to him, and when they got to the part about Lily returning with Hagrid, Potter had yelled at her for coming back when he’d expressly told her to stay with Alice. He hadn’t listened at all when she’d tried to explain to him that she’d known they were going to be ambushed. “Oh, so you’re a seer now, are you?” he had asked her mockingly. “Do you realize you could have been killed? Malfoy and his cronies aren’t some first-year wizards, you know. They know curses that you’ve never even heard of, and they’re just nasty enough to use them. They used one on…” Here he had stopped, and glared at her. “Next time just stay out of the way when someone tells you to! We didn’t need your help.”

“Oh, that’s rich,” she scoffed, her temper flaring once again. “And tell me, if the four of you were doing such a bang up job of it, why is Black still in the hospital? I was the only one with sense enough to realize you needed help. You’d be dead if I hadn’t come back!” She had stomped off, wondering why she had been daft enough to expect a thank you. James Potter had too much pride to ever admit that he’d needed help, despite the very obvious truth that if she hadn’t shown up with Hagrid when she had, there was a very good chance that he’d now be in the hospital right beside Alice and Black.

To Amelia’s and Alice’s very great consternation, they had barely spoken to each other since, but Lily tried not to think of any of that as she and Amelia were heading down to the infirmary. Lily was not going to let Potter ruin her good mood, because today Madam Pomfrey was supposed to decide whether or not Alice would be released from the hospital tomorrow, and Lily just knew they were going to get good news. She fairly skipped as they headed out of their last class of the day, Defense Against the Dark Arts. When they arrived at the hospital wing, Alice was defeating Sirius soundly at chess. “Why do you always win?” he asked her, sounding genuinely confused. “I take more of your pieces, but you always win!”

Alice laughed and nodded, her curls bouncing everywhere with the movement. “That you do,” she agreed. “But I only let you take the ones I know I don’t need. It’s called strategy Sirius, you really should learn it!”

Black groaned. “Remmy’s always telling me that!” he said in frustration. “I don’t want to hear it from you, too. Strategy takes patience, and I just don’t have…” He trailed off as Lily and Amelia reached their bedside. “Ladies,” he said, twisting his still badly bruised face into a grin. “I guess that’s my cue to go back to my bed. I’m sure the other Marauders will be here shortly to visit, and I wouldn’t want Evans to have be to polite to James. I know that goes against everything she believes in.” Black winked at her, and then began to pick up the chess set. When he had finished, he hobbled over to his bed to await the arrival of the Marauders, and probably Frank, who was also a frequent visitor of both his and Alice’s.

Lily glared at Black. “‘Goes against everything she believes in,’” she said mockingly. “Honestly! You’d think it was me that started yelling when we were telling Remus the story.” Amelia and Alice both sighed.

“Yes, yes, we know, Lily. Potter’s the bad guy, and you’re the saint!” Alice said with a smile. “We ought to, anyway. We’ve heard it enough the last couple of weeks!”

Amelia agreed. “Hear, hear. And if we never hear it again, that’d be quite okay with me!” She ducked as Lily threw a pillow at her. She missed, and hit Potter instead, who was strolling down the aisle toward them, Pettigrew and Remus behind him, his usual arrogant smile fixed tightly in place.

“Ladies,” he said, bowing toward the girls, “Lily,” he added with a smirk. “This pillow reminds me of something. Did you like the way that we redecorated your room for you?” Lily glared at him. The truth of the matter was, they hadn’t yet managed to work out the countercharm to the writing on their curtains, so they still flashed “Marauders rule, princesses drool” everytime they pulled them closed. The flashing had gotten very irritating after the first few nights, but Lily had told Alice and Amelia point blank that they were not ask any of the Marauders, even Lupin, how to make it stop. She was not going to willingly give James Potter yet one more reason to tease her, as he found quite enough as it was. Part of it was also that she was better than him in Charms, and she wasn't about to admit to anyone, even Alice and Amelia, that he knew a charm she couldn't break. Amelia had grumbled about this for awhile, but eventually given in because it just wasn't worth arguing. Before Lily could retort, however, Potter added, “I hear you like it so much, you’ve decided to keep it!”

Lily couldn’t help but look surprised, and Potter laughed triumphantly at her expression. “Wondering how I know, are you? Well, as Kaylie and I are now dating, she confided to me how annoying it was to try to sleep with that flashing constantly, and asked me for the countercharm. I told her I’d be happy to provide it, of course, but only if Princess Evans were to come down from her throne long enough to ask me how.” Pettigrew went into gales of laughter at Potter’s words, and Black laughed appreciatively, while Lupin, who had opened a book as soon as they’d arrived, didn't react at all, apparently not having heard a word that Potter had said.

Lily quickly hid her disbelief that Kaylie and Potter were now dating. They were eleven, for crying out loud! What kind of dates could they possibly go on? “if not asking you for help meant that I didn’t sleep another night for the rest of my life,” she bit out, “I still wouldn’t ask. But I'm not worried about that. I'm sure I'll be able to figure it out as soon as I try. It's just that working out the countercharm to your silly little prank wasn’t at the top of my list of priorities.” She drew the curtain around Alice’s bed, and sat down, still angry over Potter’s words.

The girls sat quietly for the next few minutes, listening to the boys talk and laugh. After a short time, Lily had calmed down, and smiled at Alice. “I’m sorry, Alice, I swore I wouldn’t let him—,” and she jerked her head over her shoulder, “ruin my mood today. Has Madam Pomfrey told you whether or not you’ll get out tomorrow?”

Alice nodded. “Yep! I can go back to class tomorrow!” she said, then her eyes narrowed in fury. “Bellatrix Black just better hope she doesn’t find herself alone in a hallway with me. She’s a cowardly little prat that had to have LeStrange do her dirty work for her. I’ll get her back for this.” Lily whole-heartedly agreed with Alice that Bellatrix was not worth the air that she breathed, but she felt a strong sense of foreboding at Alice’s promise to get her back. Lily’s instincts were telling her that Bellatrix Black was very bad news indeed for Alice.

 

*************************************


The next day at lunch, Lily and Amelia sat with Kaylie and Desdamona at the Gryffindor table. Kaylie had been talking non-stop about Potter, and was going on about Potter’s plan to take her out using his invisibility cloak on Valentine’s night when Lily snapped.

“Oh how romantic!” she said sarcastically, “You and Potter breaking rules together.” She was so sick of hearing about James Potter that she scarcely noticed the stricken look on Kaylie’s face until Amelia elbowed her softly. She looked up and saw that Kaylie looked like she was about to cry. Lily suddenly felt terrible, and wondered what had gotten into her. She liked Kaylie, after all. It wasn’t her fault that her boyfriend was the greatest git that ever lived. “I’m sorry, Kay,” she said finally. “I’m just a little on edge right now…”

Kaylie nodded and smiled at her. “It’s okay, Lily. I know I talk about him a lot.”

Desdamona choked on her pumpkin juice. “Try non-stop,” she said with a laugh.

Kaylie grinned. “I can’t help it! He’s just so cute, and sweet, and…” She stopped at Desdamona’s glare. “Fine, fine. Let’s talk about something else, then.” At that moment, Potter, Lupin, Pettigrew and Frank arrived at the Gryffindor table. Potter sat next to Kaylie, with Pettigrew next to him, and Lupin and Frank sat across from them, next to Lily. Black had not yet been released from the infirmary, as Madam Pomfrey was concerned that his bruises were not disappearing rapidly enough.

Lily glared as Potter grinned at her. “Figure out the counter-charm yet, Evans?” he asked with a smirk.

Pettigrew started laughing. “I bet she can’t, Jamesy. You put quite a few protections on it that I bet she hasn’t even thought to consider.”

Lupin smiled at them both mildly. “You know James, maybe you ought to give her the countercharm,” at a glare from Potter he added, “so that Kaylie can get a decent night’s sleep.”

Lily huffed, and she felt Amelia’s hand on her shoulder, a silent signal to keep her temper. “Thank you Remus,” she said stiffly, “but I don’t need it. If Potter and Black can do it, I can most certainly break it.”

Potter and Pettigrew laughed, and Lupin shrugged. “Have it your way, then,” he said, taking a bite of his steak and kidney pie.

“Where’s Alice?” Frank asked, just noticing that she wasn’t at the table.

“Amos asked her to stay after class,” Lily said with a shrug. “I think he needed to talk to her about making up all of the work that she missed.”

Frank nodded. “I don’t envy her all the work she’s got to do in the next few weeks. McGonagall wouldn’t waive any of it, and I know that Figg was concerned she’d need tutoring to catch up. Black too, now you mention it.”

Potter shook his head. “No, Siri’s got most of his done. He’s been working on it in the hospital. Remmy, Pete and I have been helping him.”

Lily hid her surprise that not only was Black worried enough about his studies to be working on homework in the hospital, but that the other Marauders were also taking time away from pulling pranks to help him out. “Maybe he’s been helping Alice, when we’re not there, then,” she said civilly. “We offered to help her, of course, but she never wants to do homework when we’re visiting.”

Potter nodded. “I believe he has,” he said with a thoughtful nod. “That’d be something Siri would do.”

“Hey, are you guys going to the Slytherin/Hufflepuff match on Saturday?” Frank asked, changing the subject. The boys then got into a detailed conversation about the Quidditch cup, and each house’s chances at winning.

Kaylie and Desdamona glared briefly at the boys, and then launched into a conversation about the nail-color charms in the newest issue of T’ween Witch Magazine.

As Amelia pulled out the Daily Prophet and flipped to the government section, Lily felt herself begin to daydream. She was in a room in a manor. There were voices in front of her, drawing closer. She tried to move, but her legs and arms were bound. Three figures entered the room. Two of them were wearing hoods, however the third one she recognized as Frank. But not Frank as he looked right now. It was Frank as he would probably look in about 20 years. He was much taller and had filled out quite a bit. His face was relatively unlined, but there were a few wrinkles here and there that he did not currently have, and his hair was thinning on top. His eyes, however, had not changed a bit. Yes, one of the men walking towards her was unmistakably Frank Longbottom, and his eyes were filled with fear.

“He honestly thinks that I’ve been skipping class for two weeks? TWO WEEKS? Ridiculous!” Lily snapped abruptly out of her daydream to find Alice slamming her bookbag onto the ground, and pushing Lupin over so she could sit next to Lily. Alice sat down, and continued to mutter things like, “Who does he think he is?” and “Skivving, my foot.”

Lily quickly forgot her daydream and looked at Amelia in confusion. Amelia shrugged to indicate that she had no idea what Alice was on about, either. The other first year Gryffindors had also gone quiet and were staring at Alice. She was usually so bubbly and cheerful. Lily could only remember seeing her this angry one time previous, and that was when Bellatrix had called her that name. She wondered silently what had gotten to Alice this time. “Erm…Alice,” Amelia said hesitantly. “What’s wrong?”

Alice didn’t look up, and just continued to rant. “I’ll show him making it up,” she said, picking up her fork and jabbing it into her green beans. “I mean honestly, I suppose I forged Madam Pomfrey’s signature, too. Meanwhile, his precious Slytherins…” and on she went.

They stared at her for a little while longer, and then Lily spoke up. “Um, Alice? What did Amos want?” She shook Alice’s shoulder gently, and Alice looked up as though only just realizing that there were other people around her.

She blinked, then heaved a sigh. “Professor Amos,” she said through gritted teeth, “has informed me that he doesn’t believe that I was actually ill, and that he will not be letting me turn in the assignments that I missed when I was gone.” Alice sighed again, and looked at her plate, mumbling to herself.

Lily gasped. “But he can’t do that!” she exclaimed indignantly. “You have a note from Madam Pomfrey!” To explain Alice’s and Black’s absence from class, Madam Pomfrey had told the faculty that both had come down with a case of mononucleosis that was proving resistant to her usual remedies.

Alice laughed humorlessly. “He claims that Figg has a potion that works on resistant viruses, and that if I was truly under Madam Pomfrey’s care, she would have asked Figg for it, so therefore, I’m making it all up.” Lily thought it best not to point out that Alice was, in point of fact, making up the story about being ill with mono, as her stay in the infirmary had not been illness-related.

Amelia snorted. “That’s ridiculous! And what does he think you’ve been doing for the last two weeks?”

Alice shrugged. “For all he cares, I could have gone on vacation to France. He wouldn’t listen to anything I said,” she proceeded to butter a roll viciously with her knife. “He even took 10 points from Gryffindor for my lip when I told him that he could go and talk to Pomfrey if he didn’t believe me.” She bit off a piece of the roll and began chewing fiercely.

Amelia looked flabbergasted at Alice’s words, and Lily almost felt sorry for her. Amelia had a deeply ingrained sense of fairness and justice, and Lily could tell that she wasn’t dealing very well with it being violated by someone who was supposed to be unbiased. “Can’t you go to Dumbledore, or something?” she said finally.

“Not a very good idea, Amelia,” Frank said quickly. “Under the circumstances, Alice is probably better off leaving well enough alone. If Amos saw through the mono story, then you can bet that Dumbledore will, and then you’d have to explain why you were really in the infirmary for two weeks.”

“But, but…” Amelia said, unable to find the words to express her frustration.

Alice laughed. “Well, it’s good to know that my friends see the injustice,” she said, taking a sip of pumpkin juice.

“Of course we do,” Potter said grinning. “And we would be willing to help you get him back.”

Alice’s and Amelia’s heads perked up. “What do you have in mind?” Alice asked.

 

***********************************


The day before Valentine’s Day, the three girls sat huddled in the common room, talking. Amelia and Lily had finally decided to ask Alice exactly what had happened the night she had been attacked, and Alice had just gotten to the part where the Slytherins had first accosted her on the grounds. “Snape told them what?” Lily asked disbelievingly.

“He told them to lay off,” Alice repeated.

“Then why on earth was he hexing you when we got there?” Amelia asked, clearly confused.

Alice sighed. “He wasn’t,” she answered simply. “After he’d told them to lay off of me when they first ran across me, Bellatrix told him to shut up or go back to the common room. Snape didn’t listen, though, and he followed them as they were dragging me down to the lake, yelling at them. He kept telling them to knock it off, that they were going to get the whole house in trouble with a stunt like this—sounded a bit like you there, actually,” Alice added, grinning in Lily’s direction. Lily pretended to look offended, and Alice and Amelia both laughed.

“Yup, sounds like our Lily all right,” Amelia agreed. “Just like what she keeps telling us every time we try to discuss our plan to get Amos back.” Amelia winked at Alice.

“You will get the whole house in trouble for that,” Lily couldn’t resist saying, sending Alice and Amelia into more laughter. “Anyway, but that still doesn’t explain what he was doing when we got there,” Lily said, directing the conversation back on track. “He was circling you, just like Bellatrix and LeStrange were.”

Alice nodded slowly, “Yes, he was,” she said quietly. “But he didn’t have his wand. Bellatrix had disarmed him down by the lake. Apparently, she thought he might interfere. He was trying to make them stop when you all arrived.”

Amelia and Lily stared at Alice. “That just doesn’t sound like the Snape that Remus describes,” Amelia said finally.

Alice nodded. “Nor the one Sirius describes,” she agreed. “But that’s what he was doing.”

Lily shook her head. “He had to have had his wand. He was fighting the boys when I got back out there.”

“No,” Alice corrected her. “They threw it to him when you all started running out, so he could defend himself. And they knew he’d fight the boys.”

But why?” Amelia wondered out loud.

“Why indeed?” Lily concurred. “He conjured a poisonous snake, for crying out loud! He hardly cared about hurting them.”

“Maybe,” Alice said with a shrug. “Or maybe he knew they’d be able to handle it.”

At that moment the portrait hole opened and the four Marauders scrambled in, grabbing each other’s robes, tripping one another, and doing everything they could to get inside first. Black reached out and grabbed the nearest table, and stood up with a grin. “I win!” he declared, as the other three groaned loudly. “That’ll be one galleon each.”

Potter reached into his robe as though pulling out the galleon, but pulled out his wand instead. Pettigrew and Lupin followed suit, and they all called out “tarantellegra” in unison. Black instantly started dancing around the common room.

Andromeda walked over grinning. “I don’t know if it’s worth a galleon,” she said as Black tap danced, “but I’ll give it a knut,” and she tossed one at him.

The other three boys collapsed in a fit of laughter at this, while Black glared at them. As he pulled out his wand and said, “Finite incantato,” Potter looked at the other three Marauders and just had time to shout, “Run!” before Black turned his wand toward them. They scattered across the common room, laughing and gasping for breath.

In a fit of panic, Pettigrew took off up the steps of the girls dormitory, and was halfway up before the loud clanging sound indicated that the steps had turned into a slide. He came sliding down, and Black was at the bottom of the stairs to meet him. He said something, and Pettigrew's face and hands began to flush. In the next instant, every visible inch of him was bright pink, from his fingernails to the tips of his hair.

Black didn't wait around to see the effects of his handy-work, and instead took off after Potter, who dove behind a sofa and began crawling along behind it. Black switched course, and approached the sofa from the other side. Potter looked over the arm of the chair in front of him, and said “Don’t think I don’t see you, Sir--” just as Black hit him with a hex that made smoke start streaming from Potter’s nose and ears.

Black immediately turned and began stalking Lupin, who was trying to make his way soundlessly up the stairs to the boys' dormitory. He was just about to round the bend and disappear when Black spotted him. As Black was muttering a curse, Joshua McKinnon appeared around the corner, and stepped in front of Lupin, and directly into the curse. McKinnon’s hair turned bright purple, and then began to recede, something resembling purple dragon scales taking it’s place. Everyone in the common room, all of whom had been watching the goings on with amusement or annoyance or both, turned to stare at Joshua. He pulled out his wand and muttered what must have been the countercurse, because his hair changed back to normal, and he took the remaining steps two at a time, coming to a halt in front of Black. The other three boys quickly lined up beside him. Joshua surveyed all four of them with a small smile.

“You four can curse each other all you want in the privacy of your dorm room,” he said, glancing at them each in turn. “But if I catch you doing it in the common room again, I’ll give you all detention for it, regardless of who it is that’s actually throwing the curse. Do you understand?” They nodded. “Good,” he said, turning and sitting down in a chair next to Andromeda, and muttering “They’re lucky Black’s your cousin.”

Black bounced over to the girls, skipping every few steps, most likely the after-effects of the tarantellegra curse. He was followed by Potter, still smoking at the ears, Pettigrew, still bright pink, and Lupin, who was laughing at all three of them. “We need to talk,” they all said at once.

Alice and Amelia giggled, but Lily sighed in frustration. “I guess this means we won’t actually be getting any homework done?” she asked coolly, packing up her books and standing up to leave.

“Oh, please don’t go, Evans,” Black said with a grin, plopping down in her chair. “We’re just going to go over our plan to get Amos.”

“Yes, please stay!” Potter said, laughing, and perching on the arm of the sofa on which Alice and Amelia were sitting. “You can tell us which parts are most likely to get us caught, and remind us incessantly about exactly how much trouble we’re all going to get into for this.” The four boys all turned mock-pleading eyes to Lily. Lupin’s were dancing with amusement, and for some reason, this bothered Lily much more than did the laughter of the other three.

“I’m going to the library,” she said crossly. “So I can get some work done!”

*******************************************************


Lily spent the remainder of the evening alternately looking up ancient language charms (which she’d neglected almost completely in all of the excitement since Christmas) and doing her homework. After she had packed up for the evening, and started heading back to the Gryffindor common room, she heard a noise coming from a nearby classroom. Remembering Dumbledore’s words to her, she approached the entrance to the room cautiously, and listened intently, her ear pressed against the door. The sound of someone crying met her ears, and, unable to contain her curiosity, she opened the door and peaked inside. She was so shocked by who she saw that she dropped her bag, spilling her books across the floor.

The occupant of the room looked up in surprise, but his expression quickly hardened into a scowl. “What do you think you’re doing here?” asked Snape accusingly.

Lily paused and took a deep breath, trying to regain her bearings. Why on earth was Snape sitting in an empty classroom, crying as though his heart were breaking? She took a step inside the classroom.

“Well?” he snapped, getting up and reaching his hand inside his robes.

“Don’t even think about it Snape,” Black’s voice rang out behind her. Lily cringed and turned to tell him to bugger off, but before she could speak, a second, messy-haired head had appeared in the doorway beside Black’s.

“Where you actually crying, Snape?” Potter called out gleefully. “Or perhaps we should call you Snivellus, instead?”

“Leave him alone,” Lily said angrily, but Black was now laughing too.

“What’s the matter, Snivelly? Is there a big, bad boggart sleeping under your bed? Maybe you should write to your Mummy!” he said.

Snape glared at the three of them in turn, all trace of tears now gone from his face, and raw fury in his eyes. He pushed his way past them and out of the classroom without a word. Lily rounded on the two boys. “Can’t you two just leave him alone?” she asked furiously. “What are you even doing here?”

Potter’s face changed rapidly from amusement to bewilderment. “We came to find you,” he said angrily. “As it’d been quite some time since you left, and we were concerned. And why in the world would you allow yourself to be alone with that git in a classroom when he landed one of your best friends in the hospital for two weeks?”

Had Lily been just a little bit calmer, she might have corrected him on his last statement, but at the moment, she was too angry to bother. “You don’t know everything, James Potter!” she said, snatching her books away from Lupin, who had appeared a moment ago with Pettigrew (who, Lily noticed, was still a shade pinker than normal) and had just finished picking them up; and for the second time in as many hours, Lily found herself storming away from a room containing James Potter.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 15: Of Politics and Boys


The next day, Lily arrived in the Great Hall for breakfast after Alice and Amelia, having run to the Owlery to send a letter off to her parents and Petunia before making her way down there. As she walked through the entrance, Lily glanced over at the Slytherin table and caught a glimpse of Snape, who was sitting beside Bellatrix. Across from him were LeStrange and Avery, another first year Slytherin that made Lily’s skin crawl. She sighed, trying to reconcile the two images of Snape that she held in her mind. One was of Snape, laughing at Black and Potter after he’d thrown a poisonous snake in their direction. In that image, it seemed that what the Marauders said about him was true. That he was into the dark arts, that he believed that any who weren’t pure-blood didn’t deserve to study magic, and that he’d curse her as soon as say hello to her. And the way he hung around with Malfoy also seemed to suggest that he could be dangerous one day. She knew Malfoy to be a supporter of the dark wizard who had killed an auror and taken Frank’s dad and was, even as she stood there, plotting…something.

And yet all of that was anomalous to the Snape that Alice had described. He had tried to stop Bellatrix and LeStrange from hurting Alice when they’d attacked her that night. Of course, it was under the guise of keeping Slytherin out of trouble that he had done it, but he had tried to help Alice, nonetheless. And of course, there was her encounter with Snape last night. She hadn’t mentioned it to anyone when she returned to the common room that night, and it appeared that for once the Marauders were all exercising good sense, and had not told anyone about it either, as neither Alice nor Amelia had asked her what had happened. When she thought about him sitting in a deserted classroom, crying, she couldn’t help but feel sympathy for him, but she also felt a certain kinship with him. They were very similar in some ways--both targets of the Marauders’ pranks and jokes, both trying to convince their friends to stay out of trouble. And failing, she thought with a grin as she watched Alice and Amelia chatting animatedly with the Marauders and Frank.

They were no doubt discussing their plan to seek revenge on Amos for refusing to accept Black’s and Alice’s homework assignments. She didn’t know what they were planning, or when they were planning it for, and she didn’t want to know. Talking them out of it was out of the question, and so Lily had decided that ignorance was bliss, and she was going to pretend that they weren’t planning anything. Her smile widened as she thought about Alice and Amelia. She had never expected to find friends like them at this school. She felt so much more comfortable, so much more—herself—around them than she had ever felt around her friends in primary school. But then she herself had only just this year discovered who she really was, she reflected. A tap on her shoulder drew Lily away from her reflections, and she turned to see Andromeda Black smiling at her. “Knut for your thoughts?” she said with a smile.

Lily shrugged. “Nothing interesting,” she said, beginning to walk toward the Gryffindor table, Andromeda beside her.

“You were smiling fairly wide for ‘nothing interesting’,” Andromeda said perceptively.

“Yes, I was,” Lily agreed. “I was thinking about the friends I’ve made here, actually,” she confessed. “I had friends in my primary school, but—”

“Primary school?” Andromeda cut in. “What’s that?”

“It’s where muggles send their children to learn to read, write, and do mathematics,” Lily explained, setting her tray down beside Alice, who looked up and greeted her with a smile.

“Do they really?” Andromeda asked, sitting down beside Amelia. Potter and Black both glared at her, and then scooted down the table, their backs toward her. Lily barely noticed them as she slid into her seat.

“What? Don’t witches and wizards?” Lily asked, startled. It had never occurred to her where her friends who had grown up in the wizarding world had learned to read and write.

Andromeda shook her head and reached for the platter of pancakes. “No,” she answered. “There isn’t a wizarding primary school. In our case, there was a cluster of witches and wizards in our neighborhood, and James Potter’s mum, well, she taught all of us that lived in the area.” Andromeda grimaced. “My mum wasn’t too happy about sending us to learn from someone who wasn’t a pure-blood, but her only other option was to teach us herself, and she didn’t want to be bothered with it.”

“So that’s how Potter and Black know each other,” Lily mused. She turned to Amelia. “How’d you learn, then?” she asked, curious now.

Amelia grinned. “My mum taught me and my two brothers,” she said. “She’ll be done teaching soon enough, of course. It’s just the youngest one at home now, and he comes to Hogwarts next year. Mum wants to get a ‘real’ job once he leaves.”

“I went to a muggle school,” Alice chimed in, before they could ask. “Since Mum’s a muggle, the British government had a record of my birth, and of course, muggle kids are required to attend school. And it was just easier. Mum works in a lawyer’s office, so she wasn’t able to stay at home to teach Anna and me, even if she’d known how.”

Lily took a bite of egg and pondered this. Whenever it seemed that she thought she knew just about everything there was to know about the wizarding way of life, a new aspect that she hadn’t thought about popped up. She wondered briefly how many more surprises, big and small, would be in store for her as she continued her education.

Kaylie and Desdamona arrived at the table, Kaylie giggling and blushing as she said hello to Potter. Lily glared at her. “How can someone who is usually so intelligent and normal turn into such an idiot over him!” she said, motioning towards Potter.

Alice raised her eyebrows, grinning. “You know, Lily,” she said meaningfully. “Amelia and I wonder that exact same thing whenever you’re around him.”

Amelia smiled. “Indeed,” she said mildly, pouring syrup on her pancakes.

Lily glared at both of them. “Don’t be ridiculous!” she said angrily, picking up her pumpkin juice and taking a drink. Alice and Amelia just laughed.

“Looks like he doesn’t even need to be around,” Amelia observed dryly. “Apparently we just need to be talking about him.”

“What on earth are you two on about?” Lily sputtered, not watching as she set her pumpkin juice down, and setting it on the side of her plate. It fell over, sending pumpkin juice streaming all over the table. She jumped up, but it was too late, the pumpkin juice had already gotten all over her robes. “Great,” she muttered, pulling out her wand and muttering “scourgify”. In her haste to clean up, however, she didn’t enunciate, and her robes turned white, the stain from the pumpkin juice now even more visible. Alice and Amelia laughed, and pulled out their wands to help her, but Lily had had quite enough. “I do not turn into an idiot whenever he is mentioned!” she said, glaring at them before turning and leaving the Great Hall. She hurried back to their dormitory to change before too many people saw her in her white, pumpkin stained robes.

After breakfast, Alice and Amelia found Lily in their room, writing another letter to Petunia. They apologized for what they had said at breakfast, but Alice, ever honest, couldn’t resist adding, “But you have to admit that you do get worked up really easily when he’s around.”

Lily had not bothered to reply, deciding that she’d rather not spend the whole of Saturday arguing with her best friends. They headed downstairs into the common room, trying to think of something to do to pass the day. Apparently when they had been upstairs, someone had decided to get Gryffindor into the spirit of Valentine’s Day, because there were pink and red flashing hearts strung all over the walls, the couches and wall hangings had been turned red, pink and white, and there was a mural of cupid hung on one wall that aimed arrows at passersby and said “you look like you need some love!”. They glanced at the decorations, and took one look at all of the older couples cuddling on the couches and the sofas, and immediately headed for the portrait hole, trying not to gag in disgust. As they walked away, the fat lady yelled at them for interrupting her manicure, ranting that she would be visiting a portrait of a knight later on that evening, and was trying to properly prepare.

They headed toward the library, silently agreeing to avoid the common room at least until the older students had all left for the second Hogsmeade trip of the year, and preferably until the holiday decorations were removed. When they arrived at the library, they realized that they had left their books up in their dorm rooms, and not being able to think of anything else to do, they began to explore the castle. Alice and Amelia were quite keen to have Lily show them the passage that led to Hogsmeade, but Lily flat out refused. “But why?” Alice whined.

“Because,” Lily answered impatiently. “We have no invisibility cloak to hide us, and there’s no telling who else knows about that passage. The professors might patrol it regularly for all we know!”

Alice and Amelia groaned, but dropped the subject. Alice said something about going outside, but Lily and Amelia quickly disagreed. It was freezing outside, and neither of them had any desire to lose fingers or toes to frost bite. They wandered around some more, and eventually ended up at the astronomy tower, gazing out the windows at the snow. The grounds were fairly well deserted. Here and there, some hardy students had braved the weather. Lily’s gaze swept across the grounds and she spotted the five Gryffindor first year boys involved in a snow ball fight with some older Gryffindors, and a couple of Hufflepuffs. She rolled her eyes, but didn’t comment as she continued to look around. “Looks like Malfoy and company are in trouble,” she said, spotting Malfoy and two of his older friends engaged in what appeared to be a furious conversation with Professor Figg. Both Malfoy and Figg were waving their hands around, and although she couldn’t hear them, Lily felt quite certain that there was a fair amount of yelling going on as well. After they had been up there for awhile, Lily felt her stomach growling, and realized that she had left the Great Hall before she had really eaten any breakfast. She rubbed her belly, trying not to think about the hunger pains.

Amelia noticed Lily rubbing her stomach and smiled. “Hungry, Lils?” she asked mildly.

“She might not have been if she didn’t get so worked up over Potter,” Alice said happily. “People who don’t act like idiots at the mention of other people don’t storm out of the Great Hall before eating,” she added.

“In white robes,” Amelia chimed in.

Lily glared at them both, wondering how long they were going to tease her about that. “I’m glad that the two of you find my hunger and embarrassment so amusing!” she snapped.

“I can see that hunger makes you crabbier,” Alice commented lightly, “and since there’s no telling whether or not we’ll run into Potter today in the halls, we’d better get you some food so you don’t act completely…irrational, if we do.”

“I’m not sure food’ll help that, Alice,” Amelia interrupted.

“Well, it can’t hurt,” Alice responded. “Fortunately for you, when we were in the infirmary, Black told me how to get into the kitchens.” Alice stood up from her position on the astronomy tower floor and headed toward the stairs. Lily didn’t move.

“Are you coming or not?” Amelia asked, following Alice.

“Couldn’t we get into trouble if we’re caught?” Lily said worriedly.

Alice and Amelia groaned, exchanged glances, and grabbed Lily by the robes. “We’ll risk it. If you get any hungrier, you’ll be literally biting our heads off!” Alice said, and they began dragging her toward the kitchen.

They arrived at a painting of a bowl of fruit, and Alice reached up and tickled the apple. Nothing happened, and she groaned. “Are you sure this is the right picture, Alice?” Amelia asked.

“Yes. I’m certain of it. And he said to tickle the apple. Or was it the orange?” She reached up and began tickling the orange, but still nothing happened.

“Are you sure you’re supposed to tickle something?” Lily asked.

“Yes, yes, I’m sure it’s tickling.” Alice stood back and stared at the portrait. “Well come on you two, might as well tickle the whole thing.” The three girls each selected a different part of the portrait to tickle and began running their fingers over it. Just as Lily was beginning to feel ridiculous, her fingers brushed over the pear. It giggled, and then turned into a handle. “Found it!” she exclaimed, pulling on the handle and opening the door. A hundred or more house elves all turned to smile at them as they walked into the kitchen. One with a round little belly and ears sticking out oddly from its head approached, grinning. “Miss Evans!” he said, bowing. “We is happy to see you miss!”

“Hi Alfie,” Lily said grinning. “These are my friends, Amelia Bones and Alice Parker.”

Alfie bowed politely. “It is nice to be meeting you, misses,” Alfie said, standing up straight again. “Can Alfie gets you anything?”

“Well actually, Alfie,” Alice said, bending down so she was at eye-level with him. “Lily didn’t eat anything at breakfast this morning.”

Alfie’s eyes widened. “You wasn’t sick, was you miss?” he asked. Lily shook her head. “Was something wrong with the food, then? Alfie apologizes if you didn’t—,” but Lily cut him off.

“No, no, Alfie. The food was fine. I just spilled some pumpkin juice on my robes,” she explained, determinedly ignoring Alice’s and Amelia’s giggles. “And I had to go change before I finished eating.”

Alfie nodded. “In that case, we will give you plenty of food to tide you over until lunch!” Alfie said, running off. He returned with a roast, a container of mashed potatoes, several bottles of butterbeer, and six cauldron cakes. “Is that enough for you, Misses?” he asked, bowing again.

Lily grinned. “It’s plenty,” she said, her stomach now growling louder at the sight of the food. “Thank you!”

They left the kitchens and wandered around for a little while, looking for somewhere quiet to eat. After they had wandered up and down the same hallway three times, looking for a suitable classroom, Lily opened a door she hadn’t noticed before. Inside was a small round table, napkins, silverware, plates, salt and pepper shakers, and a variety of other items that looked as though they’d been nicked from the kitchens. “Alice, Amelia!” she said, calling them and wandering inside. “I wonder why we didn’t notice this room before?” she said to no one in particular.

Dunno,” Alice said, sitting down and beginning to serve up the food. “But it looks like someone’s set it up for some kind of romantic dinner, doesn’t it? It’ll do nicely for us right now, though!” Lily locked the door, and the three girls sat down, sharing an early lunch, talking, and laughing well into the afternoon, as only the best girl friends can.

 

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There was no sign of Mr. Longbottom throughout the remainder of winter and all the way into spring, and although everyone did their best to keep Frank’s spirits up, the strain that he was under became increasingly obvious. Already a skinny boy, he had lost weight, and there were dark circles under his eyes that made it clear he wasn’t sleeping well. It was often a toss-up as to who looked sicker, Lupin or Frank, and although the girls encouraged both to see Madam Pomfrey, neither did. Frank had always been soft-spoken, but before Christmas break, he had never really hesitated to get involved in conversations that he found interesting, and he always had a quick smile. Now, although he was actively involved in their quest to discover the purpose of the book, and therefore why his dad was needed by the dark witches and wizards who had stolen it, he had distanced himself from all of his friends, never joining in the conversation unless he couldn’t avoid it, and a smile from him became a rare treasure. Lily, Alice and Amelia were at a loss as to what to do for him. This morning, for example, he sat at the far end of the table, and when they’d asked if they could sit with him, he’d politely explained that he’d much rather be alone when the now-daily letter from his mother arrived.

Not wanting to intrude, the girls acquiesced and found a seat halfway down the table, instead. They’d spent a considerable amount of time thinking of ways to cheer him up, but short of casting a cheering charm, they had all run out of ideas. After getting caught looking at him on several occasions, they’d changed the subject, and Alice was now enthusiastically explaining the properties of Mugwort to Lily. Although they were having a test over said plant today, Lily was finding it hard to concentrate on Herbology so early in the morning, and kept gazing around the table. She suppressed a giggle when she noticed that Amelia once again had her head buried in the newspaper.

Determined to stay aware of any dark happenings that might give them a clue as to what the dark wizard was planning, Amelia had taken out her own subscription to the Daily Prophet after having gotten tired of scouring the castle every day for someone else’s discarded paper. She read it faithfully every morning at breakfast, but there was never anything other than the usual stories about fires, reports of Ministry inefficiencies, and calls for pure-blood protections and rallies for muggle-born rights from both sides of the blood conflict. Certainly the Daily Prophet never reported anything to suggest that dark magic was about to destroy the peace that Dumbledore and his aurors had secured for the wizarding world twenty-one years before. This morning was no different, however just as Alice finished up an explanation of the use of the Mugwort in sleeping draughts, Amelia launched into a loud condemnation of a particularly vicious editorial by a pure-blood supporter. “Nutters, all of them!” she exclaimed, folding up the paper and slamming it down so hard that her water spilled. “We’d be extinct if it weren’t for muggle-borns, and there wouldn’t be any of them here to argue about it. Just doesn’t make sense.”

She continued to rant on in this vein, and Lily and Alice exchanged amused glances. Amelia’s morning ranting had become routine by this point, and they had long-since learned that the quickest way to calm Amelia was to nod quietly and let her rant. At the moment, Amelia was in the middle of a complaint about most students’ apathy toward important issues such as blood-discrimination because after all, although public opinion currently protected their rights, if it were to change, most students, including Lily and Alice, could lose even the freedom to study magic at Hogwarts. Although Lily conceded that Amelia had a point whenever she reminded them of this (which was almost every morning), she couldn’t help but feel that the unknown dark wizard who was holding Frank’s dad hostage was a much greater threat to them. After all, as long as much of the wizarding world was in agreement that muggle-borns should be treated no differently than pure-bloods, nutters like the one in today’s paper would remain nothing more than an annoying reminder of the discrimination that divided their society.

“You and Alice should be reading these every day, you know!” Amelia was now lecturing. Lily heaved a sigh, and hoped desperately that the end of the lecture was in sight. No such luck. “As future participants in the wizarding government we have an obligation to stay in— ,

“We get it already, Amelia!” Alice finally interrupted, smiling sweetly. “But Lily and I don’t actually need to read the entire paper to stay informed of current events, as you do such a nice job going over them every morning for us!”

Amelia blushed a little. “I’m sorry,” she said, “but it just bothers me that—,”

“We know it bothers you,” Lily said soothingly. “And it bothers us, too. Don’t forget, it’s Alice and I they’re talking about when they say ‘dirty blood’. But you can’t let them bother you, Amelia, wasn’t it you who told me that in the first place? Every society has it’s lunatics that think they’re better than everyone else for one reason or another. The good news is they aren’t being shy about announcing their agenda, so they’re never going to get into power. I think the dark wizard Malfoy’s working for is a much bigger threat,” she added.

Alice looked as though a startling thought had just occurred to her, as Amelia gazed piercingly at Lily for a moment. “You don’t understand, Lily,” Amelia said. “Every dark wizard in recorded history has been a blood-purist. And with the pure-blood movement gaining momentum as of late, now is the perfect time for this dark wizard to recruit supporters.”

 

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The Gryffindors had Potions that morning with the Slytherins, so after breakfast, they made their way quickly down to the dungeon that was their Potions classroom. Apparently Kaylie was sick that day, so Lily was spared the annoyance of listening to her giggle insanely at whatever it was that Potter happened to be saying.

“I hate to say it mate,” Black said as they queued up in line behind the girls, “but I’m rather glad that Kaylie’s sick today. Her giggling gives me a headache.” Lily grinned. Apparently she wasn’t the only one, she thought to herself, feeling rather good-natured toward Sirius Black for once. Potter glared at Black, his eyes glinting, and then jumped on him and the two began wrestling in the hallway.

“That’s my girl you’re talking about, mate!” Potter said, grabbing Black’s arm and twisting it behind him.

“Not the one you really want!” Black retorted, twisting out and then spearing Potter and knocking him to the ground. Potter scrambled up and the two boys stood staring at each other, breathing heavily. Black's hair fell into his face while Potter's was now sticking up in every direction. Both were grinning widely.

“Keep your mouth shut, Siri, or I’ll shut it for you!” Potter said, reaching for his wand.

Pettigrew turned to Lupin. “A knut says Potter ends up in the hospital wing after this,” he said.

“I’ll take Black,” Lupin replied mildly, crossing his arms and leaning against the wall. “Make it a sickle and you’re on.”

Pettigrew nodded and also leaned against the wall, watching.

“You know you can't beat me in a duel, Jamesy!” Black said pulling his wand out and laughing.

Potter pointed his wand at Black and said the incantatntion for the silencing charm, jabbing his wand toward Black as he did so. Unfortunately, Charms was not Potter’s best subject, and they hadn’t yet studied silencing charms in class. Lily cringed as she watched. His wand movement was all wrong, and he had mispronounced—

Black's laugh was suddenly silenced. Unfortunately, this was not due to the silencing charm’s success. It was due, instead, to the fact that his tongue was now wriggling around in his mouth. Potter had said “serpensio” instead of “silencio”, effectively charming Black’s tongue into acting like a snake. Lily recognized the incantation—yet again one that she had run across in her quest for language charms—but didn’t know the countercharm. The three boys burst into laughter at the look of bewilderment on Black's face.

Lily stepped forward. “He needs to get to Madam Pomfrey,” she said angrily. “Or do none of you care that he could choke?”

“Relax Evans, I’ll take care of him,” Potter said, glaring at Lily furiously as he grabbed Black's sleeve and pulled him toward the stairs.

Lupin was still laughing. “I guess I’d better go along and make sure James doesn’t kill him on the way,” he said to Pettigrew. “He probably said the incantation wrong on purpose. I don’t know what Sirius expected, though. I mean, we’re all tired of hearing about it but…,” Lupin paused and looked oddly at the three girls. “Well come on, Petey. You’ll have to help me make peace!” Lupin and Pettigrew both bent down to pick up their bags. “That’s another sickle you owe me.”

Pettigrew sighed heavily. “It’ll have to wait until after class. I don’t have any with me.” They disappeared up the steps after Potter and Black.

“So Potter doesn’t even really like Kaylie?” Lily said to Alice and Amelia in bewilderment. “I wonder why he’s going out with her, then?”

The door to the classroom opened, and they filed in as Professor Figg disappeared into her office. “You can’t really be that clueless, can you, Lily?” Alice asked with a laugh. Lily looked at her blankly. Alice giggled. “Okay, maybe you can. I guess boys just haven’t crossed your radar yet. He’s going out with her to make the girl he really likes jealous.”

“Well that’s just wrong!” Lily said indignantly. “I mean Kaylie really likes him!” Lily slammed her Potions book on the desk and began setting up her cauldron. “He shouldn’t be using her like that! Kaylie could end up getting hurt!”

“I wouldn’t worry too much about that,” a new voice cut in. Lily looked up to find Desdamona putting her supplies down on the desk next to Lily’s. “James isn’t the one that Kaylie’s really interested in, either. She’s trying to make, er… someone else jealous, too.”

Lily gaped at her. “Really?”

Desdamona nodded. “Yeah, but it’s not working for her, either.”

“Either? It’s not working for Potter?” she asked, curious now. She had never really put any thought into boys, or relationships, or anything of that nature, and she was quite disturbed by the deception involved. It all seemed entirely too complex for her. I mean, if you liked someone, why not just come right out and tell them? “Well, it still doesn’t make sense to me why you’d date someone just to get another person’s attention. I mean if you like a person, just go up to them and tell them. Why play games?”

Alice laughed. “Well of course it doesn’t make sense to you, Lil!” she said. “But then, you haven’t found a boy you’re interested in yet, either.”

Lily blushed a little, but what Alice had said was true. She just didn’t see what was so interesting about boys in the first place, particularly the ones in their class, who acted like idiots most of the time. Of all the boys that she knew, Frank and Lupin were about the only two that she’d ever want to spend any time alone with, and the thought of kissing either of them… She wrinkled her nose. Actually, she didn’t particularly see what was so exciting about kissing boys, period. It seemed very…messy. Lily shrugged. “I guess you’re right,” she said finally. “I mean, it doesn’t really seem like it’s worth the hassle right now.”

Desdamona nodded. “I couldn’t agree with you more, Lily,” she said. “It’s all Kaylie talks about, but personally, I’d much rather be out playing Quidditch than inside trying to figure out why some stupid boy hasn’t noticed that I’m wearing my hair differently.”

Amelia blushed. “I can understand where Kaylie’s coming from,” she said wistfully. “I wore my hair down the other day, thinking I’d look extra nice for him and he didn’t even glance twice at me.”

Lily grinned. She was quite familiar with Amelia’s angst over Remus Lupin, and she also knew that he found Amelia quite as interesting as Amelia found him. In fact, she’d caught Lupin staring at Amelia in History of Magic on the day that Amelia was referring to, but Amelia was so torn up about the injustice of the banishment of the Vampires that she hadn’t noticed. The problem with those two is that they were both entirely too shy to say anything to one another, and Amelia steadfastly refused to believe either Alice or Lily whenever they tried to tell her that Remus returned her affection.

“Cauldrons away!”Professor Figg called out, sweeping energetically into the room and smiling as everyone groaned and began to move their cauldrons off their desks. “Today we will be learning about potions that are brewed as one element of more complex magical ceremonies. This year, we will be learning about a very simple rain ceremony…”

Lily picked up her quill and began copying down notes.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 16: Pranking Professor Amos


That evening, Alice and Amelia abandoned Lily for a quiet corner of the common room, and a very fervent discussion with the Marauders. She couldn’t hear any of what they were saying from her table by the portrait hole, but she could tell that they were discussing their revenge on Amos. She cast a glance in their direction, and shook her head, trying to force herself to concentrate on potion ceremonies. They were supposed to find another example of a ceremony that combined two or more disciplines of magic, and write an essay explaining how the different aspects of magic worked together to create the desired result.

“Deserted again?” Frank’s voice said. He was standing beside the table, smiling at her. “Then you won’t mind if I keep you company, will you?”

Lily smiled, glad to see that Frank was gradually coming out of his self-imposed exile. “Not at all,” she said, motioning for him to sit down. “I’m just working on my essay for Potions.”

Frank smiled. “I finished mine earlier,” he said, pulling out a library book and setting it in front of Lily. “You won’t find any cross-discipline magic in our text books, they’re far to advanced to receive more than just a cursory treatment. This book has quite a few of them, though. I checked it out because I thought Alice might like to look it,” his gaze turned toward the corner where she was sitting. “She’s a bit busy tonight, though.”

Lily nodded. “Hopefully they’ll get the ‘revenge’ that they're plotting over with quickly so they can concentrate on school. If they aren’t expelled for this, that is.” Lily tried to laugh, but the truth of the matter was, she was only half-joking. If Amos caught them, whatever it was that they were planning, she was certain he’d do everything in his power to see them expelled. She’d tried to tell the two of them that, but Amelia had insisted that Alice and Black were the victims of a tremendous injustice at the hands of Amos, and she refused to sit idly by and do nothing about it. Alice just laughed and told Lily that if she didn’t quit lecturing, she was going to start calling her mum. Lily sighed. She knew that she did sound a bit like a mother every time it was mentioned, but she couldn’t help herself. She was a worrier by nature. She always had been. At home, she’d worried about Petunia, about her parents, about her friends—anyone she cared about. It wasn’t as though Lily never wanted to “have a little fun” as Potter called it. It was just that she was wise enough to follow her thoughts through to conclusion, and realize that the risks weren’t worth the benefits. Apparently, she thought, with another look at her two best-friends, she was one of the few 11-year-olds who had developed that ability.

She looked back and realized that Frank was smiling at her. “Some part of you wants to join them, doesn’t it?” he asked perceptively.

Lily started to deny it, but then stopped herself. Frank was right. A small part of her wanted to do something about what Amos had done to Alice. Alice wanted to be an auror, and she needed top marks to get into the training program. By refusing to accept two weeks of homework from Alice, he had set her back before she’d barely even begun. Lily returned Frank’s smile and nodded. “A very small part of me,” she said.

He laughed. “There’s nothing wrong with that you know, Lily. Having a little fun, I mean. Not that what they’re doing is ‘a little fun’,” Frank said, pointing toward the Marauders and Alice and Amelia, and shaking his head. “What they’re doing is suicide.”

Lily giggled. “I heartily agree. Of course, the last time I decided to ‘have a little fun’ as you say, I ended up down a dark passageway, nearly discovered by three Slytherins intent on helping a dark lord fulfill some evil plot or another.” She noticed Frank had gone white, and realized how insensitive she’d just been. “I’m sorry, Frank! I didn’t mean to—,” but he waved away her apology.

“It’s all right, Lily,” he said, smiling. “I was just thinking that your last bit of fun might be the thing that saves my dad, in the long run. If you hadn’t been down there, who knows how long it would have been before Dumbledore realized his book was missing…before they realized my dad was kidnapped, and didn’t just ‘disappear’.” He gazed piercingly at Lily. “In fact, if it were up to me, I’d make sure that you have fun like that more often. It might just save someone’s life.”

Lily stared at Frank, not sure what to say. The conversation had taken a turn that she hadn't expected, and she felt a little wrong-footed at the development. Frank blushed and looked away from her. “I guess we’d better get to our homework, then,” he said shyly. Lily nodded. Frank had just given her quite a bit to think about, at any rate.

For some reason, Dumbledore’s words to them flashed through her mind again. “Students are frequently a great asset to those aurors whose job it is to seek out and contain underground threats from dark wizards, so I do not discourage students from keeping their ears open.” It was true, what Frank had said. She, Potter and Black had discovered the dark wizard’s plot while it was still in its infancy quite by accident. She wondered what they might discover if they made a concentrated effort. She dismissed the thought as soon as it occurred to her, forcing her mind back to Potions as she opened the book that Frank had set in front of her and began flipping through it.

“We’re doing it tonight!” Alice said happily, bouncing up to the table where Frank and Lily were sitting. Lily looked up in surprise.

“Tonight? Why tonight?”

“Because,” Amelia said quietly, shushing Alice with a finger to her lips. “We’ve got everything ready, and if we wait too much longer, you might lose your nerve.”

I might lose my nerve?” Lily asked, staring at Amelia as if she’d gone mad. “What on earth are you talking about? I’m not helping you!”

“You have to,” Alice said imploringly.

Lily’s temper flared. She’d known this was going to happen sooner or later. “I most certainly do not!” she declared indignantly. “I told you from the start that if you did this, you were on your own.”

Alice nodded patiently. “We knew you’d say that,” she said, “which is why we sent Frank over here to talk to you.”

Lily whirled around to glare at Frank. “What? Frank? Is this true?”

Frank’s face turned bright red, and he looked down at his hands. “We need your help, Lily. Amos’s office is protected from breaking and entering by a variety of charms, and you’re the only one of us that has any chance of breaking them… You’ve practically read every charm book in the library looking for an ancient-elvish translating charm…” Frank trailed off, but now looked at her defiantly. “I wouldn’t have done it, but they pointed out to me that we’ll be in Amos’s office. He’s Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Lily. Whatever that book is that was stolen is probably dark arts material… Amos might have something that will give us an idea what they’re up to. My dad needs your help.” He continued to hold her gaze, his blue eyes imploring her. Lily glanced at Alice and Amelia as well, both held the same pleading look in their eyes.

She stood up, not sure what to think. She could walk away now… Stay out of trouble… She could. But a part of her said that would be abandoning her friends. On the other hand, she’d told them from the start that if they did this, they’d be on their own. They’d known when they’d started to work out the details of this ill-conceived plan. And yet, maybe Amos did have something in his office that could help them, help Dumbledore and Mr. Parker… Dumbledore’s words again ran through her mind. This wasn’t so different than keeping their ears open, was it? But surely Dumbledore would have thought to speak with Amos about this… Of course, Amos was head of Slytherin. For all they knew, he could be working for the dark wizard. Lily’s recent lesson in politics had taught her the single unifying belief among dark wizards, and from Amos’s treatment of Alice and herself, it was fairly obvious he shared those beliefs. Was it such a stretch to think he might have told Dumbledore he couldn’t help him, and yet be serving the dark wizard, and have the tools available to him all along? She shook her head, trying to make sense of her thoughts. Alice, Amelia and Frank didn’t say a word. She glanced up at them, her best friends… What would she want them to do for her? Lily sat back down finally, her mind made up. The trio in front of her all waited expectantly for her decision.


Lily looked from Alice, to Amelia, to Frank, her gaze lingering on Frank. His dad needed her help. They all needed her help, actually, or they would be expelled, and she couldn’t stand to let that happen. If she didn’t have her friends to come back to next year at school, she might as well not even come back. They were the ones who had made Hogwarts feel like her second home. “All right,” she said finally, and the threesome let out a little cheer. Alice squealed and hugged her, while Amelia and Frank thanked her for helping, and apologized for tricking her into it. The four Marauders quickly scrambled over.

“Did she say yes?” Pettigrew asked eagerly. Alice nodded excitedly. Potter and Black launched into a celebratory jig, but stopped quickly after they noticed that they were attracting the attention of the other occupants of the common room. Lupin merely smiled, and thanked her for joining them.

“I can’t believe it,” Potter said, his eyes sparkling. “For over two months now, she’s been saying no way, no way…” He turned to look at Lily. “What changed your mind, Evans?”

“It certainly wasn’t the thought of helping you, Potter,” she said, her voice icy almost out of habit. Although it was true. She wasn’t doing this for his benefit. Lily wouldn’t have minded at all if he got expelled. She was doing it because there was a chance that they could find something that would help Frank’s dad, and she couldn’t pass up that opportunity. “I’m doing it for Frank’s dad,” she said finally, “and because I can’t let my friends down.” She emphasized the word friends in order to further accentuate for Potter that her decision had nothing to do with him.

Potter was unfazed. “Whatever your reasons, Evans, as long as you’re helping us!”

“We need to fill her in, then,” Black said, pulling up a chair and settling beside Lily. Pettigrew, Potter, and Lupin all followed suit. “We’re going to break into Amos’s office and erm…re-supply it, if you will.”

“Re-supply it?” Lily asked. “What do you mean, re-supply it?”

Lupin grinned, and the mischief in his eyes reminded Lily forcefully of Potter and Black. She could suddenly understand why he was such great friends with them. If this look told her anything, it was that Lupin might appear to be a laid-back, by-the-book kind of boy, but that underneath, he was far more complex than that. “We’re going to replace a few of his teaching materials with new and improved versions.”

“For example,” Black said, “Amos always uses chalk when he lectures, and actually writes his notes up, instead of using his wand. This gave us an idea. We’re going to replace his chalk with some joke chalk that Jamesy and I created. No matter what he writes on the blackboard in class, the chalk will spell out things like ‘I’m a great git’, and ‘A first-year knows more about magic than I do’, things like that. We’ll replace the chalk in the classroom and in his office, that way no matter what chalk he uses, it will all do the same thing.”

“Also, Petey’s been concocting a potion to add to his tea,” Potter continued. “The potion is great because once it’s finished, it turns into a powder, and all you have to do is add it to liquid to activate it. We’re going to add some to all of Amos’s tea bags, that way when he makes his tea, he gets a dose of it. It’s a modification of a potion that we came across.”

Pettigrew smiled happily. “We all know that Amos is a biased old git,” Pettigrew began, glancing around. He looked suddenly nervous that he was the center of everyone's attention, but continued anyway, his voice wavering slightly. “So this potion will force him to do the opposite that he usually would in a situation where his prejudices come into play. For example, if he means to insult a Gryffindor, he’ll end up telling them they look nice today, or commenting on how smart they are. Likewise, if he tries to say something nice to the Slytherins, he’ll insult them. And whenever he tries to take points from Gryffindor, he’ll give points to Gryffindor instead. Things like that.”

Lily stared at them, shocked. “And you—you’re brewing this potion, Peter?” She hadn’t really figured Pettigrew to know too much about potions…or to have strong opinions, or… She shook her head. It looked like she had considerably underestimated him.

Lupin appeared to realize what Lily was thinking. “Potions is Petey’s strongest class,” he said by way of explanation. “He had some trouble in there in the beginning of the year, but he gets better marks than any of us now.” Lily nodded. “And he’s been brewing it in our dorm room for the last couple of weeks. It's taken awhile to prepare it.”

Lily was completely astounded. The magic that they were talking about doing was way beyond first year… She wondered if they put as much effort into their classes as they’d obviously put into this. If they had… Why they were probably all fighting for top wizard in their year. And Potter and Black hadn’t been kidding when they’d claimed to earn top marks in almost everything… Lily looked at them, the awe evident in her face. She saw Potter laugh slightly at her expression. “Anyway, we’ve got a few other tricks planned along this line,” Black said, bouncing around in his chair, apparently too excited to sit still. “But you’ve got the main gist of it. We basically want to make him look like a fool in front of his students. We need you to get us in there, though. We’ve tried doing some research on protection charms and their counters, but Parker and Bones assured us that you already knew more about those than we’d be able to find.”

“And you’d be able to do them properly so as to avoid turning anything into a snake,” Lupin added, glancing wryly at Potter.

Potter smiled unabashedly. “I meant to do that,” he said quickly.

Lily laughed. “Sure you did,” she said. “And my Grandma Evans is a witch.” She rolled her eyes. “All right, let’s finalize the details. What is everybody doing on this mission?”

“Siri and I are in charge of the re-supplying process. We’ll make sure that all of our inventions replace Amos’s standard-Hogwarts issued stuff. Petey will be adding the potion to Amos’s tea. You’re obviously getting us through the door, and once we get there, Remmy'll help you look through Amos’s books to see if anything he has will help us figure out what that parchment says. Remmy's best subject is Defense Against the Dark Arts, so he’ll have better luck than anyone to help you there.”

“And what are Frank, Alice and Amelia going to be doing while we’re breaking and entering?” Lily asked, realizing that they hadn’t been mentioned.

“They’re on look-out duty. They’ll wear the invisibility cloak, and alert us if there’s any sign of movement.”

Alice and Amelia had been watching silently as the boys had been explaining the action plan to Lily. Suddenly Alice squealed, and hugged Lily. “Oh, I’m so happy that you’re going to help us with this!” she said excitedly.

Amelia shushed her. “Honestly, you’re going to get us caught before we even leave tonight!” she admonished.

Alice blushed. “I’m sorry; I just didn’t want Lily to miss out on our biggest adventure of the year.” Lily smiled. Now that she’d accepted that she was going to be dragged along on this, she was beginning to feel rather excited about it.

“I never thought you’d agree to help us, Evans,” Potter said, shaking his head.

Lily grinned. “You obviously don’t know me as well as you think you do, Potter,” she said, returning Alice’s hug and squeezing Amelia’s hand. “All right, let’s get started on this. What do you know about the protections that Amos has on his door?”

Frank’s eyes lit up. “One of us has been observing his office every night for the last week. We have a list of the charms that he uses to seal it, and the order that he does them in. If you don’t already know the countercharms, we have about 4 hours to figure them out before we go into action tonight.”

Lily nodded. “We’d better get to work on them then,” she said, getting up and running up to her room for some of the charm books that she’d borrowed from the library. When she returned, they first-year Gryffindors all helped her look through different books, finding and working out as they went the charms and countercharms that she’d need to know to get them through the door.

 

******************************


The common room emptied until only the eight first years remained. Just as they were getting ready to file down to Amos's office, Andromeda came through the portrait hole, fresh from her shift on hallway patrol. Lily cringed, knowing that Andromeda would realize that they were up to something. What were they going to do now? There'd be no way that she would let them out if she knew what they were up to.

“The only prefects on duty right now are Joshua and I, and the Slytherins,” Andromeda said, making a face. “The Slytherins are out on the grounds right now, and Mrs. Norris is, shall we say, indisposed in a broom closet for the moment. Filch went into Hogsmeade tonight, so you shouldn’t have to worry about him. I’m going to go back to patrolling the hallways. If anyone comes in your direction, I’ll deflect them. Joshua is going to stay outside of Gryffindor tower, and let you out and back in. If you stick to the route that we went over yesterday, you should make it down to Amos’s classroom with very little trouble. But like I said before, if you get caught—”

Black smiled and gave his cousin a hug. “We know, we know. You know nothing. I wouldn’t have you lose your prefect badge for me, Andy. It’d make mum entirely too happy.”

Andromeda grimaced. “You’ve got a point, there. All right, I’ll let Joshua know you’re ready, and he’ll be through momentarily.” She headed back out the portrait hole, leaving Lily to stare at the others in amazement.

“When did she…? But how did you…?” she sputtered.

“I told you Andy used to be fun,” Black said, shrugging. “I just had to remind her of it a little. And once Andy was in, Joshua gave us his full support. He’s such a trouble-maker, I have no idea how he ever got a prefect badge, truthfully. Neither of them took as much convincing as you did, Evans.”

“Yes, Evans will make a great prefect one day,” Potter said with a knowing-nod.

Lily was just about to retort when the portrait hole swung open and Joshua climbed through. “Let’s get going. The fat lady isn’t going to like me interrupting her every five minutes to let you all in and out, so the quicker we make this, the better!”

“All right, who’s first?” Black said, looking around.

“I’ll take Alice and Frank for the first run,” Potter said, “they can station themselves in their lookout posts, and then I’ll come back for two more.” The three of them slipped under the invisibility cloak and out the door after Joshua. A few minutes later, Potter returned, and took Amelia and Black, then Lupin and Pettigrew. Finally, only Lily remained in the common room. She paced about nervously, going over wand movements and incantations in her head. She sincerely hoped that they knew every charm that Amos put on his office. If there was one they weren’t aware of—or if she did an incantation wrong—he might have rigged it to set off an alarm or warn him in some other way.

Long before she was ready, the portrait hole swung open, and Potter climbed through. “All right, everyone’s in place, waiting for you to unseal the door. Let’s not leave them waiting. Are you ready?” He held out his hand to help her out. Lily ignored it and crawled into the opening and under the invisibility cloak without assistance.

“As ready as I’ll ever be,” she said, breathing deeply and ignoring the butterflies swarming through her tummy. They walked in silence, taking a route to Amos’s classroom that Lily did not know. When they arrived, Potter shut the door quietly behind them, and the others all crawled out from their hiding spots beneath desks and in closets. Potter handed Alice the invisibility cloak, and she, Amelia and Frank all slipped under it quickly. The door to the classroom swung open noiselessly, and then shut with a click. They all watched the door shut, and then all save Black turned back to Lily. Black was already busily replacing the chalk setting on the easel of the blackboard.

“Time to work your magic, Evans,” Potter whispered. Lily nodded, and pulled out her wand and the list of the charms Amos had on his door, along with the countercharms they’d written beside it. She slowly approached the door, breathing deeply as she went. She began quickly going through the incantations, making sure to do them in order, as she had to remove the charms in the opposite order in which Amos performed them. Frank had previously assured her that he didn’t do them in a different order every night, but she still couldn’t help but be a little frightened that maybe Amos had sensed something was going to happen, and had switched up his routine that night. At last, all of the protection charms on their list had been removed, and all that remained between them and Amos’s office, as far as they knew, was a locked door. “Alohomora,” Lily said quietly, waving her wand at the lock. The lock clicked and she slowly reached toward the doorknob and turned it, giving it a little push as she did so. The Marauders now crowded around her, all four of them holding their breaths and watching intently.


The door swung open, and Lily let out a sigh of relief. Potter and Black whooped quietly and high-fived, while Lupin and Pettigrew led the way inside. Black began carefully going through Amos’s supplies, pulling out chalk and replacing it with the joke chalk, while Pettigrew pulled down Amos’s tea-jar, and started splitting open tea bags with his wand. She and Lupin began searching the shelves for books that looked like they might hold a clue about the parchment, or Frank’s dad. Lupin found one and pulled it down from the shelf, setting it on Amos’s desk to peruse. Potter, meanwhile, had opened the sack that he was carrying, and had begun attaching what looked like little balloons to Amos’s cabinets, desk, and shelves. Lily paused momentarily to watch. “What are you setting out, Potter?” she whispered.

Potter grinned wickedly. “Time-release shrinking dung-bombs,” he said, attaching another one. “I’ve got them staggered to go off every few hours, starting tomorrow morning. And the best part is, with a tap of a wand, they shrink so that they aren’t visible to the naked eye.” Potter then pulled out his wand. As he tapped each balloon in turn, it immediately began shrinking until Lily could not see it anymore. “So no matter how hard he looks, he won’t find them!”

Black snickered, and walked over to Amos’s desk. “One of my more brilliant ideas,” he said without the least trace of modesty. He began shuffling through Amos’s quills, replacing them with some from his bag.

“And what are those?” she asked, still looking for a book that appeared to offer some insight into the disappearance of Frank’s dad. This proved rather difficult, as they had no idea what the subject of the stolen book might be.

“Exploding quills,” he said, his eyes twinkling. “Simple, yet effective. We’re hoping that they explode while he’s taking role tomorrow.”

Lily shook her head and began flipping through a book that she thought looked promising. “How do you have time to do all of this, and get your homework done, too?” she asked finally, her curiosity overcoming her reluctance to show any sort of approval of the Marauder’s antics.

“We work together,” Potter said with a shrug. He pulled out some papers of Amos’s and began shuffling through them. “Every one of us is really good at a different subject, and we tutor—” Potter paused and bent down over one of the papers. When he looked up, the mischievous glint was gone from his eyes. “Come here you guys, you have to see this,” he said quietly.

Lily walked over to where he was standing, and looked over his shoulder to read. Scribbled in handwriting that she didn’t recognize were four words that sent a shiver down her spine. “Find the missing page,” she read aloud. Black paused during his quill replacement, and Pettigrew looked up from where he was now packing the last teabags into Amos’s jar.

“The page must be important,” Black said quietly.

“But this means Amos is helping—,” Lily began. She was cut off by a voice coming from Black’s robes.

“Sirius, you’d better get out of there. Andy just warned us that the Slytherin prefects are coming back from outside.” Lily’s heart began hammering wildly in her chest. Black pulled the mirror out of his robes.

“We’re just finishing up anyway,” Black said, slipping the note into his pocket. “Come on you guys, let’s move.” Lily and Lupin quickly put away the books that they were looking at, and they ran out of the office. Lily re-sealed the door, and they walked quickly and quietly out of the classroom.

“Evans,” Potter said, “you go with Bones, Parker and Frank under the invisibility cloak. Remmy, Petey, Siri and I know an alternative route back to the common room. We’ll see you when you get back.”

At this, Frank lifted the cloak, and Lily scurried under. They wished the Marauders luck, and slowly walked back to the common room. When they arrived, Joshua let them in. As the portrait swung shut behind them, they saw that the Marauders were not yet back, so they each chose a seat facing the portrait hole and waited, not speaking. Lily thought it would be better to tell Frank, Alice and Amelia what they’d found once the boys had returned. After a short time, the portrait hole opened, and the Marauders came barreling through as though someone were pushing them. “Out at this time of night! What were you thinking?” a familiar voice behind them was shrieking. “No, don’t worry, Malfoy. I’ll take care of this! And if you don’t mention this to anybody, what I saw tonight will remain our little secret.”

Andromeda emerged behind the boys, looking furious. When the portrait swung closed behind them, however, her expression changed from fury to amusement. “Did you get it all done, then?” she asked no one in particular.

Pettigrew let out a small yelp, and toppled into a chair. “That Malfoy bloke scares me,” he said faintly.

“Everybody scares you, Pete,” Black said sardonically. “But the prank went off just as planned,” he added, bowing in Andromeda’s direction.

“Well, not quite as planned,” Lupin said placidly. “I don’t think we intended to get caught by Malfoy. It’s a good thing that you were there, Andromeda, or he’d have hexed us into next month!”

Potter laughed. “Okay, so getting caught by Malfoy wasn’t part of the plan. But Andy was brilliant, wasn’t she? Convincing Malfoy that she’d handle it and if he said a word about it to anybody, she’d tell Narcissa a little secret…” Potter grinned. “You could be a Marauder, Andy,” he said.

Andromeda tried not to look pleased at this. “Well,” she said briskly, “don’t expect my help again if you guys ever decide to try another stunt as suicidal as this one.” She grinned at them. “All the same, I’m glad you pulled it off. Amos has been making life miserable for students for too long, and it’s about time he had some of his own medicine.” She yawned, and stood up from where she had been perching on the side of a chair. “I expect that you all will want to debrief Frank, Alice and Amelia, so I’m going up to bed now. Good night!” She turned and headed toward the girls’ dormitory.

“Good night!” they all called out after her. The three boys who were still standing collapsed into chairs, and they quickly began filling Alice, Amelia and Frank in on what they’d found. After they had finished, they all sat quietly, lost in their thoughts.

“So you think…,” Alice said finally, breaking the silence. “You think that Amos is working for the dark wizard?”

Lily and Potter shrugged at the same time. “That’s what it looks like,” Potter said heavily. “And they must need the missing page, which means that we’re all in danger. Snape knows—,”

Lily slumped back in her chair. Everything right now felt so surreal. There was a dark wizard who apparently wasn’t afraid to torture and kill people. Frank’s dad had been kidnapped to help him. They had an important piece to the puzzle, but couldn’t read it. And now, one of their teachers might be helping this wizard. It was too much to take in, and at the moment, she was in no mood to listen to Potter talking about how evil Snape was. “Oh for pity’s sake!” Lily snapped, her exhaustion getting the better of her. “You don’t even know for sure if he knows anything about the book and the missing page. And even if he does, he wouldn’t know about the invisibility cloak, so why would he suspect that we were down that passageway? Just because you don’t like him doesn’t mean he’s working for some dark wizard!”

Potter glared at her. “Just because you DO like him,” he said angrily, “doesn’t mean he isn’t, either.”

Lily didn’t bother to correct him. She didn’t know Snape well enough to have an opinion of him, honestly, but she didn’t much feel like convincing Potter of that just now. Lupin reached out a hand and set it on Potter’s shoulder at the same time as she felt Amelia’s hand on hers. Lily took a deep breath, trying to calm down, and she could see Potter struggling to do the same. “Well we’re certainly not going to decide the issue by arguing about it tonight,” Lupin said calmly, with a glance between Lily and Potter. “As Lily said, we don’t know for sure whether he even knows about the missing page. However, he could know about the cloak from the night that they attacked Alice. So therefore, we need to find out what, if anything, Snape knows about this dark wizard and his plan.”

“And how do you propose we do that?” Lily asked, still bristling from Potter’s comment about Snape. She saw Alice and Amelia exchange glances of amusement.

“We could corner Snape and hex it out of him,” Black said, his eyes lighting up at the thought.

The girls all cast a dirty glance in his direction, though Potter looked at Black thoughtfully. “That’s an idea, Siri,” he said, a small grin playing at the corners of his mouth.

“Oh, that’s brilliant!” Lily said sarcastically. “Hex it out of him. That way if he didn’t know anything about it before, he most certainly would after that. Idiots!”

Lupin smiled at Lily. “You’re right about that, Lily,” he concurred. Potter and Black looked at him in outrage, but this just seemed to make him chuckle. “Well, she’s right, Siri. That’s exactly the kind of thinking that’s behind your losing streak in chess, too.” Pettigrew and Potter both laughed at this, but Black continued to glower.

“There’s not much that we CAN do at this point, is there?” Amelia said finally. “Because everything we could try to do would alert Malfoy and his cronies that we know about the book. They’re stupid, but not that stupid.”

“So then,” Pettigrew said hesitantly, “what do we do?”

Frank spoke up quietly. “Keep our ears open, like Dumbledore suggested,” he said. “And be careful.”

“Precisely,” Lupin said, nodding. “Now if you all don’t mind, I’m exhausted.”

“When aren’t you?” Black asked, standing and stretching. The Marauders and Frank all laughed, and began to walk toward their dorm.

“Good night, ladies,” Potter said, turning around and waving. “Evans,” he added. She glared at him, and he grinned, turning and running to catch up with the others.

“Let’s get some sleep,” Alice said, yawning. She stood up and began walking toward the girls’ staircase. Amelia and Lily followed her to their room, Lily still fuming over Potter’s arrogance.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 17: A Bet with Potter


As they had planned, they had Amos’s class first the next morning. Amos was halfway through writing up review questions for the test on Friday on the board, when Snape raised his hand. “Um, Professor?” Snape asked.

“What is it, you annoying git?” Amos responded. Snape looked shocked. He was one of Amos’s favorite students, and usually Amos was disgustingly nice to him. Amos looked confused, but didn’t say anything. Kaylie and Desdamona snickered a little.

“What does question one mean?” Snape asked, still looking a little off-balance.

“Have you forgotten how to read, you snot-nosed little brat?” Amos replied. He clapped his hands over his mouth momentarily and then turned to look at the board, his eyes opening in shock as he read, “Amos is possibly the worst professor in the school. List several facts that support this statement.” Some of the Slytherins also began to chuckle. Lily chanced a glance at the Marauders and noticed that they all had their faces arranged in looks of complete confusion. She nearly laughed out loud at the sight, but remembered to keep her face determinedly blank.

Snape looked like he was about to say something else, but apparently decided to keep quiet. Professor Amos looked completely taken-aback, and quickly began to wipe down the chalk-board. “That’ll be twenty points from Slytherin for daring to question me, Snape!” he said kindly. He turned and strode into his office.

The Gryffindors all burst out laughing as he departed, but the Slytherins looked shell-shocked that their head of house had taken points from them. “Keep your mouth shut, Snape!” LeStrange said, glaring at him. Snape stared at his parchment, and didn’t respond.

Amos returned with new chalk, and the Gryffindors quickly composed themselves. A very distinct scent followed Amos out of his office, and Lily could hear Alice and Amelia next to her, trying not to laugh. “That’ll be 10 points to Gryffindor for not asking idiotic questions,” Amos snapped at Black, confusion again registering in his eyes.

He turned back to the chalkboard, and once again began writing. This time, all of the students, Slytherins and Gryffindors alike couldn’t contain their laughter, for Amos was now writing, “I’m the worst professor Hogwarts has ever seen. I can’t believe that Dumbledore still allows me to teach here. List all of the reasons that I should be fired.” Amos stepped back and surveyed the question, then erased it and reached for some more chalk. This happened several more times before he finally gave up. He then reached for a quill. “You will read Chapter 19 of your texts quietly for the remainder of the class.”

Pettigrew reached into his bag and pulled out his book, but dropped it, making a loud thudding noise. Amos looked up with an icy glare, and Pettigrew cowered. “That will be 10 points to Gryffindor for providing us with entertainment,” Amos said with barely controlled fury. He pulled out a quill and began correcting assignments. Out of the corner of her eye, Lily saw the Marauders writing notes back and forth to each other. The Slytherins still looked utterly perplexed, while the Gryffindor girls pretended to look at their texts. A small explosion interrupted the silence in the classroom. Amos swore, and then glared at the class. “Class will be dismissed early today,” he said sharply, standing up and striding toward his office. Before he turned, Lily saw that his robes were now covered in red ink. The smell of dungbombs once again escaped as Professor Amos opened the door to his office and disappeared inside. Once he was gone, the Gryffindors all burst into laughter, unable to control themselves any longer.

LeStrange, Bellatrix and Avery sauntered over to where the boys were packing up their books. “Did you have something to do with that?” LeStrange asked menancingly.

The faces of the Marauders became instantly angelic. “Have something to do with what?” Potter said happily.

“Amos’s odd behavior today,” Bellatrix said.

“Odd behavior?” Black asked no one in particular. “I didn’t notice any odd behavior. Did you three?”

Lupin, Pettigrew and Potter all quickly shook their heads. “Huh,” Black said, shoving his book in his bag.

Avery pulled out his wand and pointed it at Black, but in an instant, three other wands were pointed at him. He glared at Potter, Pettigrew and Lupin, but lowered his wand. “Slytherin lost twenty points today, and we aren’t likely to forget it anytime soon.” Avery, Bellatrix and LeStrange walked over to where Snape was waiting, and made their way out of the classroom.

The Marauders watched the Slytherins disappear, and hurried quickly out of the classroom, the girls following after them. When they got outside, they dissolved into laughter. “That was bloody brilliant,” Black said, wiping the tears from his eyes.

“Did you see the look on Snape’s face when Amos called him an annoying git?” Potter asked, starting to laugh again.

“I wish you guys would have let me help!” Kaylie trilled, giving Potter a hug and a kiss on the cheek. Black, Lupin and Pettigrew all rolled their eyes simultaneously at Kaylie.

Potter blushed. “I already explained to you—” he began.

“I know, I know,” she said, “You didn’t want me to get in trouble.” Kaylie looked like she was about to start pouting, but smiled suddenly. “What was that smell coming from his office, anyway?”

“Time-release shrinking dung-bombs,” Potter said.

“One of my more brilliant inventions,” Black added with a smirk.

The Gryffindors all burst into laughter again. “I still can’t believe that you pulled it off,” Desdamona said when they had quieted down.

“It’s all really thanks to Lily,” Lupin said, nodding in her direction. “We couldn’t have gotten in the door without her!”

“I’m not sure I want the credit for this,” Lily said dryly, settling into a spot on the ground. The girls all sat down beside her.

“Anyone up for a game of tag?” Black asked, grinning at the boys.

“Who’s it?” Pettigrew asked.

“On three,” Black said. “One, two, three!” All five boys pulled out their wands.

Pettigrew was the slowest. “Why’s it always me?” he moaned as the other four boys scattered. He took off resignedly in the direction in which Black had disappeared.

 

************************************

 

Over the remaining month or so of school, the Gryffindor first-years became something like mini-celebrities within the Gryffindor common room as word spread that they were responsible for Amos’s eccentric behavior. As they were rather afraid that this news would eventually reach the ears of someone outside the Gryffindor common room, they always denied their involvement, but the Marauders were never quite able to hide the pride in their eyes when they spoke of it, so nobody ever actually believed their protests of innocence.

 

Most of the rest of the school did not get to see first-hand the results of the prank, as Amos had somehow gotten rid of the stench in his office, in spite of Potter’s certainty that it hadn’t been by finding and eliminating the dung bombs (“He probably knows some sort of charm, that’s all!”), and he’d replaced all of his quills. The chalk, however, had exploded all over the classroom after Amos had apparently tried to de-jinx it (“I booby-trapped it,” Black explained proudly when they heard about the chalk dust covering every inch of the classroom), and he must not have realized that the tea was to blame for his awarding points to students that he detested. On occasion, he still complimented a Gryffindor student for no reason, and Lily had heard that he’d given the Slytherin fourth years extra homework in class after one of them had asked what he thought about Slytherin’s chances for the inter-house championship in quidditch. Although Lily had been certain that Amos would eventually figure out who had broken into his office, after LeStrange and the other Slytherins had confronted the Marauders in class they were never again accused by anyone other than friendly Gryffindors.

There was little time to dwell on their new-found celebrity, however, because end-of-year exams were fast approaching, and their teachers had decided that in order to properly prepare their students, they had to bury them in homework every night. The common room, which was filled with laughter and noise most evenings of the school term, was now quiet save for the fluttering of turning pages and the occasional sigh from a frustrated student. Any time a group of students brought their voices above the level of a whisper, they were subject to glares of disapproval from the other students. The older Gryffindors were hit hardest, of course, particularly those preparing to take their O.W.L.s (Ordinary Wizarding Levels) and N.E.W.T.s (Nastily Exhausting Wizarding Tests), but the first-years had not escaped the crunch.

Lily, Alice and Amelia had staked out a spot in the library and on any given evening could be found writing essays, practicing wand motions, and quizzing one another. Frank, Kaylie and Desdamona frequently joined them, but the Marauders resolutely avoided them because, as Potter claimed, “Evans is scary when she’s studying.” Lily never failed to get irritated when he would announce this (which was anytime someone asked the Marauders to join them), but Alice and Amelia maintained that there was truth to this statement. In addition to the studying that she was doing with her classmates, Lily often stayed up after the others had gone to bed, studying Transfiguration, which was still giving her more trouble than any other class.

The week of final exams arrived far too soon for anybody’s liking. The only bright spot of its arrival, at least as far as Lily was concerned, was the prospect of Saturday, when their exams would be over, and all that would remain of the term was the Gryffindor/Ravenclaw quidditch match to determine the inter-house champion for the year. The week before, they had received their exam schedules, and Lily was most put-out to discover that Transfiguration was their last test of the week. She had rather hoped to get it out of the way on Monday so that she could relax and concentrate more easily on her other exams. As the week wore on, Lily grew more and more anxious at the thought of Friday afternoon. By Thursday evening she had snapped so many times at Alice and Amelia that they had both left her alone in the library, swearing not to speak to her again until the exam was over Friday night.

As a result, she was studying by herself in the library on Friday after their Defense Against the Dark Arts exam had ended, when Potter sat down across from her with a smile. “What are you so happy about, Potter?” she snapped irritably.

“Exams are over!” he sang, opening a book called “A Complete Guide to Chaser Tactics (Abbridged)”.

She stared at him, dumbfounded. “Have you forgotten Transfiguration?” she asked finally as he flipped to the next page and made no move to explain his comment.

He glanced up at her, looking completely relaxed and at ease, which only served to irritate Lily further. “Transfiguration isn’t really an exam,” he explained.

“Have you gone mad?” Lily asked him, quite seriously.

“No,” he said, shrugging and looking back down at the book. “It isn’t really an exam if you don’t have to study, and since I can do Transfiguration in my sleep…” He trailed off and picked up his wand. As she watched, he transfigured her quill into a hat with a feather plume.

She glared at him. “Well, if you don’t mind,” she said through clenched teeth, “I do have to study!”

“You don’t,” Potter corrected her, transfiguring the hat back into a quill, and handing it back to her. “You know everything already, you just have to learn to relax, and let it happen.”

“Relax?” she said sarcastically. “Well, I suppose that’s easy enough for you, isn’t it? I doubt you’ve ever gotten tense over anything in your life!”

“Don’t believe me, then?” he asked casually, leaning back in his chair, and crossing his arms.

She sighed in frustration. Precious minutes that she could have spent studying were ticking away. “Look, I really don’t have time for this! I’ve already chased Alice and Amelia off for dist—”

“I know. I asked them where you were when they turned up in the common room without you earlier.”

“Why should you care?” she said, but the edge had gone out of her voice.

“Isn’t it enough that I do?” he asked, flashing his most dazzling smile, and leaning toward her. “Now, we’ve got an hour before our Transfiguration exam, and if you let me help you for that hour, I know you’ll feel better about the material. In fact, I’d even bet that you’ll do better on the exam than I will.”

She heaved a deep breath, tempted in spite of herself, but still half-certain that he was setting her up for something. She sighed again. “I can’t even do a simple tea bag transfiguration,” she began.

“Give me an hour,” he repeated. “You know how. I just have to make you believe it.” Still, Lily hesitated. “Tell you what, if you give me an hour, and I still do better on the exam than you do, I will never tease, bother, or otherwise annoy you again. I’ll even swear to it. Isn’t the chance to have me out of your hair for good worth an hour of your time?”

He took a piece of parchment out of his bag and scribbled something on it, then handed it to Lily. She glanced at it, thinking. It was a safe bet. There was no way that she was going to score better than him, so he’d have to stop teasing her from then on. And there was at least a chance that he’d be able to help her out. He did know the material, after all. “Okay,” she said reluctantly.

“Okay?” he asked. She nodded, and he took the parchment and signed it. “Now you.” He handed her the quill. She looked at him quizzically, but signed her name without a word. “Good!” he said, putting the parchment into his bag and moving to sit beside her.

After just half an hour, Lily had to admit that she was feeling more confident about the exam with every passing moment. She was practicing a transfiguration on her pencil when a thought occurred to her. “If you beat me on the exam, you’ll leave me alone.”

“I swear,” he said solemnly.

“And what if I do beat you, then?” she asked.

“Are you going to back out of our deal if you don’t like my terms?”

She shook her head. “No, I won’t.”

He grinned mischievously. “If you do beat me, then,” he said, his voice suddenly sounding nervous. “Youhavetogivemeakiss.”

He said this last part so quickly that Lily wasn’t sure she’d understood him correctly. “A kiss?”

He blushed furiously, but nodded. “Yes.” Lily stared at him, not sure what to say to this. “It can’t be something you enjoy,” he explained, “otherwise you won’t learn not to doubt me.”

Lily laughed. “All right, then,” she said, going back to work on her pencil.

He looked thunderstruck. “All right?” he asked. Lily nodded, laughing again at the stunned expression on his face.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 18: In the Hands of the Enemy


The Transfiguration exam came and went, and Lily had to admit that she had done better than she would have without Potter’s help. Before she knew it, she was waking up Saturday morning, and getting ready to go down to the Great Hall for a quick bite to eat before she, Alice, Amelia, Kaylie and Desdamona headed out to the quidditch pitch for the game. The girls all headed down the stairs when something made Lily pause. “I’ll be right back,” she said, turning and jogging back up the stairs. When she got to her room, she approached her nightstand, and opened the drawer, lifting out a variety of papers and assorted items as she did so. At the bottom of the drawer, where she had kept it since the first night they’d found it, she saw the parchment from the stolen text.

Lily picked it up and glanced at it, then without thinking, placed it carefully in her pocket, before heading back down to the common room. When the girls arrived in the Great Hall, they saw the Gryffindor team huddled at one end of the table, and not wanting to interrupt them, the five girls chose seats at the other end. Lily was somewhat surprised that Kaylie was sitting with them, and not with Potter, who, along with Frank and the other Marauders, was sitting somewhere towards the middle. “We broke up,” she explained, apparently noticing Lily’s curiosity. “Last night.”

Oh,” Lily said, taken aback. “I’m sorry.”

Kaylie shrugged. “I’m not. It was getting to be too much to pretend that I liked him all the time, and the guy that I really want barely noticed anyway…” She trailed off and began eating her eggs. Lily and Desdamona both rolled their eyes.

“Too complicated,” Lily said, starting on her breakfast.

“I quite agree,” Desdamona concurred, taking a sip of pumpkin juice.

After breakfast, the girls headed out to the pitch, hoping to get good seats by arriving early. Alice wanted to try-out for a chaser position next year, and she was planning to analyze the Gryffindor keeper’s every move to find weaknesses that she could exploit during her try-out in the fall. The weather, which had been sunny and warm throughout exam week, had turned windy and cold, and the skies that morning were threatening an early summer thunderstorm. As they had done at the first Gryffindor quidditch match of the season, the girls brought along a large Gryffindor blanket, and Lily charmed it to stay warm against the cold. They found seats next to Frank. He had come out early to save seats for the Marauders, who were otherwise unaccounted for at the moment.

The girls sat down, huddling into the blanket to stay warm, and talking about how well they thought they’d done on their exams, the upcoming summer vacation, and, in the case of Kaylie and Amelia, who were going on about Lupin and some mystery guy that Kaylie refused to name, boys. Before long, the team had arrived on the field. “I wonder where the Marauders got off to?” Frank said as Madam Alipes was blowing her whistle to start the game.

The Marauders absence was explained a few minutes after Gryffindor had scored for the first time, when they arrived in the stands, pockets bulging with Honeydukes candy. Lupin presented Amelia with some chocolate, which she happily accepted, and when Black started to tease him about it, he quickly offered some to the other four girls as well. Potter also offered Lily some candy, but after noticing the glint in his eye, she declined politely. Potter then offered it to Lupin, Black and Pettigrew. “If Evans isn’t daft enough to take it,” Black said with a laugh, “what makes you think we are?”

Potter looked a little disappointed, but tossed the candy out. “It was worth a try, anyway,” he said with a grin.

Lily turned her attention back to the game, trying to ignore Potter. He was once again jumping up and down and shouting at the Gryffindor keeper, chasers and seeker, apparently certain that given the chance, he could play all three positions better than the existing models. Also as before, Pettigrew kept chirping in agreement every time Potter made a comment. Neither teams' seeker was having very much success finding or catching the snitch in the windy weather, and as the game wore into its third hour, the score was 180-150 Gryffindor. Gryffindor’s seeker went into another steep dive, a streak of gold barely visible out in front of him, but he pulled up as the gold disappeared. “You have to lean into your dive more!” Potter shouted, standing up. “LEAN IN!”

“You could have had that Ja—,” Pettigrew began.

“James and Peter, if you don’t shut your mouths, I’m going to have Evans put a silencing charm on the both of you!”

Lily gasped and turned around to stare at Black, a feeling of déjà vu hitting her so forcefully that she felt like she had been punched. “Is something wrong, Lils?” Amelia asked her.

Lily shook her head, trying to gather her thoughts. She was being ridiculous, of course. It was just a coincidence. “No,” she said finally, returning her attention to the game.

About an hour later, Lily felt a tug on her coat, and turned to see Potter giving her a goofy grin. Her eyes widened in horror as she realized that she had never told Potter about Mr. Parker’s response to their letter. “Don’t ask me about the parchment!”

“How did you know I—?” he started, clearly bewildered.

“Don’t say it!” she said again, her voice growing louder. All of the Gryffindor first years save Alice, who was too engrossed in watching Gryffindor’s keeper to notice anything at the moment, were now staring at her, concern etched in their eyes. She didn’t care. “Because if you say it, that will mean that it wasn’t just a dream and—”

Apparently Alice had finally heard Lily, but hadn’t noticed the note of panic in her voice, and just assumed that she and Potter were arguing, as usual. “Can you two give it a rest, just for the game, even?” she snapped.

“Stop!” Lily cried, practically screaming now. She turned to the field, watching. “And now she dives,” she said quietly.

“Lily, what are you—,” but the Ravenclaw seeker had gone into a spectacular dive and snatched the snitch out from underneath the outstretched hand of Gryffindor’s seeker. As the students in the Ravenclaw section erupted in cheers, and the Gryffindors around Lily groaned loudly, their attention drawn once again to the match, she turned numbly toward the Slytherin section, her eyes scanning the stands.

What happened next came as a complete shock to everybody but Lily. A hulking, shadowy figure appeared over the Slytherin section. “The Dark Lord now has the tools that he will need to be immortal,” a strangely magnified voice said, echoing in the now-silent stadium. “Choose your side carefully. You have been warned.” Something clicked in Lily’s head, and her mind began racing so fast that she could hardly keep up with her thoughts. Lily barely heard Dumbledore telling the students to follow the prefects back to their houses, and was only dimly aware of the screams and cries now echoing around her. She turned automatically to where Andromeda and Joshua were standing, shooting off sparks to attract the attention of the Gryffindor students.

Lily reached up and pulled Potter’s hand off of her shoulder, utterly unsurprised to find it there, and barely noticing the look that he gave her as she did so. Wishing that she would again wake up to find that this was all a dream, she walked toward the prefects, her mind still working overtime. Lily had finally realized what it was that she had been trying to remember since she’d had this very dream, and she was now busily putting the puzzle pieces together in her mind. She reached into her robes and gripped her wand tightly, but did not draw it. Andromeda and Joshua led the Gryffindors toward the castle, the Ravenclaws up ahead of them, and the Hufflepuffs behind. Once they had gotten through the main entrance door, Lily slipped quietly to the back of the Gryffindor group. When they reached the staircase, she slipped unnoticed into line with the Hufflepuffs, and headed with them toward the basement.


Apparently all of the Hufflepuffs were too shell-shocked to notice that a Gryffindor was now walking along with them, for nobody said anything to her as they descended to the basement. They reached a divide in the hallway, and when the Huffflepuffs turned one way to head toward their common room, Lily turned the other, toward the kitchen, thanking the quirk of fate that had brought her down here one cold winter’s day with Alice and Amelia. Her mind continued to race. Muggle legends of elves usually told of them being immortal… Dumbledore’s book had been written in ancient elvish… The figure at the Slytherin match had referred to immortality… It couldn’t be a coincidence. And Frank’s dad studied ancient magic. He’d probably learned about the ancient rituals, which was why the dark wizard would have wanted him… Lily arrived at the portrait that was the entrance to the kitchen, and reached up and tickled the pear, feeling nervously for the piece of parchment and marveling at the instinct that had driven her to bring it with her this morning. If she’d had to go up to Gryffindor’s common room to get it before speaking with Alfie, she’d never have been able to leave. Andromeda and Joshua were bound to be very strict about keeping students within bounds today.

As she grabbed the handle that had appeared, she felt a hand on her shoulder, and screamed. Lily whirled around to see James Potter standing there, concern etched over his usually grinning face. “What in the world do you think you’re doing, sneaking off by yourself to the kitchens at a time like this?” he asked her. “You’re lucky that I wasn’t Malfoy or someone!”

Lily inhaled deeply, trying not to get too angry that James Potter, of all people, was lecturing HER about sneaking around the castle when she ought to be in the common room. “I just realized something about the parchment,” she explained, trying to stay calm. “I have to talk to Alfie. If I’d gone up to the common room and waited like a good little girl, I’d never have gotten the chance. Now go back upstairs.”

“No, no way I’m leaving you alone right now. Are you mad?”

Lily grit her teeth. “Potter, I don’t have time to argue with you right now—”

“Then stop arguing,” he said firmly. “I’m not leaving. Remember what Dumbledore said.”

Lily glared at him, but turned and pulled the door open without saying another word. They walked into the kitchens, and were greeted very warmly by the house-elves. Alfie approached Lily, grinning broadly and bowing politely. “Alfie is happy to see you again, Miss Evans. Will you be liking some more food?”

Potter looked at her in shock. “More food? You’ve been down here before, Evans?”

Lily ignored him. “Actually, I was hoping that I could talk to you about—,” she glanced up and noticed that all of the house elves in the kitchen had stopped working and were watching her intently. She lowered her voice. “About something. Is there some place that we could speak which is more…private?”

Alfie grinned. “Alfie will take care of it, miss,” he said and then turned and ambled over to the nearest elf. He whispered something, and then the elf that he had spoken to nodded, and shouted something in a language that Lily did not understand. The elves immediately turned and went back to work, ignoring Lily and Potter completely. Alfie returned. “They won’t bothers us again, Miss,” he said with a smile.

Lily squatted down so that she was eye-level with Alfie. “In muggle legends, elves are immortal. Are the muggles correct about this? Are you immortal?”

Alfie shook his head slowly. “No, miss,” Alfie said sadly. “House-elves do live longer than most people, muggle and wizard alike, but we is not immortal.”

“Oh,” Lily said, trying to hide her disappointment. She had been so certain that Alfie would be able to help her.

“According to our legends, miss, our ancestors performed magical ceremonies that would assure them of never-ending life,” Alfie continued. “It is said that the magic is written down in ancient books,” Alfie laughed a high-pitched laugh. “These are the stories we tell young house-elves before we puts them to bed, anyway, but beggin’ your pardon miss, there is no truth to them.”

“Are you sure about that, Alfie?” Potter asked, apparently figuring out where Lily was going with her questions.

“‘Twas wood elves who is said to have that knowledge,” Alfie explained. “They’s extinct now. So if they’s extinct, they wasn’t immortal.”

Lily had to admit that Alfie had a point. Still, Dumbledore’s book had been written in ancient Elvish, so there was a chance. She pressed on. “Professor Dumbledore has a book,” she began, “that is written in ancient Elvish. It’s said that only he and one other wizard know how to speak it—”

She stopped as Alfie nodded. “Yes, miss. Professor Dumbledore and Tom Riddle is the only wizards that can speak ancient Elvish.”

Lily stared at Alfie. “Tom Riddle is the other one?” she asked. “And how do you know?”

Alfie’s chest swelled proudly. “Professor Dippet—who is headmaster before Professor Dumbledore—asked Alfie to teach Mister Riddle. Mister Riddle is very interested in learning everything he could about elves, miss, and Hogwarts doesn’t offers a class on Elvish history.”

Lily and Potter exchanged a glance. “Can you read ancient Elvish?” Lily asked, barely daring to hope.

“Yes, miss. Alfie’s mum taught him.”

Potter looked over at Lily. “Too bad that we don’t have the parchment with us,” he said, as Lily pulled it out of her pocket.

Potter looked stunned. “Where did that come from?”

Lily shrugged. “Something told me to bring it to the game this morning,” she said dismissively. “Can you read this?” She handed Alfie the parchment.

He began reading it, his eyes growing more and more round with each passing minute. “Where did sir and miss get this?” he asked finally, glancing up.

“We found it,” Lily said.

“Can you tell us what it says?” Potter asked.

Alfie glanced at them. “Let Alfie read it one more time, sir.” They waited quietly while Alfie re-read the parchment. “This is from the legendary book of life,” Alfie said, his tone awed. “It’s the last step. The last step in the ceremony. Alfie is being sure that this book is just a myth, but here is the last step.” Alfie looked down and began reading again. “The legend is true,” he said, appearing to have forgotten that they were standing there.

Lily suddenly realized what Alfie had just said. “This is the last step of the ceremony?” Lily asked. Alfie nodded. “Then they can’t do it if they don’t have it?”

Alfie again nodded. “The protection from death is not being complete without it,” he said. “The whole process is taking months to do. Dumbledore is wanting his page back if he is trying to become immortal, miss.”

“No, Alfie,” Lily began, “it’s not Dumbledore that wants it—,”

But Potter interrupted her. “Thanks Alfie,” he said, standing up and grabbing Lily’s hand. “We have to get back to our common room. They’ll be wondering where we are.”

As Potter tugged her quickly toward the exit of the kitchen, Lily glanced at Potter, and knew that he was thinking the same thing that she was. They had to destroy that paper, and quickly. If this dark wizard succeeded in becoming immortal, there was nothing on this earth that could stop him from destroying the wizarding world, and it looked as though they were the only two people at the moment with the power to stop that from happening. “Are sir and miss wanting any food?” Alfie asked as they opened the kitchen door.

“No. Thank you for all of your help, Alfie!” Lily called out as they walked back into the hallway.

“I just have to grab my invisibility cloak,” Potter said, walking over to a nearby statue, and glancing behind it. “Hang on, where’d it go? I thought I left it behind this one.”

“Looking for this?” a drawling voice behind them said. Lily and Potter both turned to see Lucius Malfoy sneering at them, Potter’s invisibility cloak dangling loosely in his hand.


Lily and Potter both instinctively reached for their wands, although Lily had no idea what two first-years hoped to do against a seventh-year as skilled in the dark arts as this one. She didn’t have much time to figure it out, either, because before she got her wand out of her pocket, another voice to her left said, “Don’t even think about it.” She turned to see Malfoy’s friend, Crabbe standing there, his wand also out. She glanced at Potter, and he shrugged, then dropped his hand. Lily did the same.

“Now what would two ickle first-years be doing out of their common rooms during an afternoon like this one?” Malfoy asked in a mocking tone. “Surely you weren’t so hungry that you had to run down to the kitchens right after the game?”

Lily glanced at her feet. If Malfoy asked her about the parchment, he would see right through any sort of excuse that she would try to come up with. Potter must have once again been thinking along the same lines as Lily, because he drew Malfoy’s attention away from her. “We just wanted to get some butterbeer to drown our sorrows in. Give us our detention, and we’ll be on our way, if you don’t mind.” He looked defiantly into Malfoy’s eyes.

Malfoy chuckled maliciously. “Oh, but I do mind,” he said, grinning at them. “I mind quite a bit. You see, I have it on very good authority that the two of you happen to know about a certain tunnel out of Hogwarts.”

Lily still did not look up, knowing that if she did, she would give away what she was thinking. “What are you on about, Malfoy?” Potter asked. “There’s a tunnel out of Hogwarts?” He looked at Malfoy quizzically, as though this was the first time that the possibility had ever occurred to him. His voice rang with the familiar practiced innocence, but it sounded fake to Lily’s ears; she hoped sincerely that this was only because she knew that he was lying.

Malfoy chuckled again. “I’ve known that you were down that tunnel, Potter, along with your little girlfriend here, for quite some time. The only thing that I didn’t know was if it was before or after we’d passed through, and therefore whether or not you had what I need.” He shook Potter’s invisibility cloak. “But now I know that you were there at the same time that we were, and so I know that you’ve got it.” Neither Lily nor Potter bothered to say anything to this as Malfoy reached into his robes and pulled out what appeared to be an empty bottle of pumpkin juice. “And you’re going to tell me what you’ve done with it. We’re just going to go some place a little more…private, to discuss it. Grab on to this.” He thrust the empty bottle toward them.

“Are you daft, Malfoy?” Potter asked. “If we grab that, there’s no telling where you’ll take us.” Lily looked quizzically at Potter, but he was unable to explain anything to her at the moment, so she simply kept her hand resolutely at her side.

“You’ll do it, Potter,” Malfoy snapped.

“I won’t,” Potter said, crossing his arms.

Malfoy cursed and grabbed the sleeve of Potter’s robe. “Grab her,” he snarled at Crabbe. Crabbe grabbed Lily by the hair. She winced as he pulled it.

“Let go of her!” Potter shouted, lunging toward Crabbe. Malfoy hexed him, and Potter fell to the ground in pain.

“James!” Lily cried out in alarm, automatically moving toward him.

“Leave him, Evans,” Malfoy said, again grabbing Potter by the sleeve. Potter stood up slowly, but continued to glare defiantly at Malfoy. “Come on Crabbe, what are you waiting for?”

Crabbe walked over beside Malfoy, dragging Lily painfully by the hair as she went. He reached out and grabbed on to the bottle, and in the next instant, Lily felt a jerk somewhere behind her navel. The sensation was unlike any that Lily had ever felt before—like she was tumbling aimlessly through space. She closed her eyes, the spinning and whirling making her sick, until they landed with a thud. She fell forward, yelping in pain as Crabbe yanked her up by the hair. He pushed her roughly toward a chair and bound her legs and arms tightly to it. Lily saw out of the corner of her eye that Malfoy was attempting to wrestle Potter into the chair next to her, but Potter was putting up a good fight, kicking and clawing as he went. Malfoy was much bigger than Potter, however, and he had his wand, which he was using to hex Potter at every available opportunity. Crabbe came over and helped Malfoy, and they bound Potter into a chair as well. The two turned and headed to a door straight in front of them, and when they had disappeared, Lily finally chanced a glance around. There was something about this room that seemed very…familiar. Lily strained her memory, trying to place it.

“Any ideas, Evans?” Potter asked, his voice rasping in pain. Lily started, having momentarily forgotten that he was beside her. She turned her head to look at him, and nearly winced at the sight. His face was bloody and swelling, his robes were torn up, and he looked as though he wouldn’t be able to sit upright if he hadn’t been bound to the chair. Before she could ask him how badly hurt he was, a movement in one of the shadowy corners of the room caught her eye. She peered into the darkness, trying to make the shadows take a solid form. What she saw made her heart leap. Alfie? But it couldn’t be. As the shadow moved into the light, she saw that it wasn’t Alfie, but rather another house-elf, and it was staring at the two of them. She was about to say something to Potter when the sound of voices in front of her drew her attention to the door. Three figures entered the room. Lily kept her eye on the house elf and noticed that it immediately withdrew into the shadows and disappeared. The three figures appeared not to have noticed it.

Lily looked up, and for the second time that day, a feeling of déjà vu nearly overwhelmed her. Two of the figures drawing near them were wearing hoods to conceal their faces, and between them was Frank—only the man in front of her was Frank all grown up. His face was relatively unlined, but still possessed wrinkles that Frank’s did not, and his hair was thinning on top. The eyes, however, were unmistakable. Lily was staring into Frank’s eyes, and they were filled with fear. For a moment, she felt hopelessly confused. How could a grown-up Frank be here with them right now, when Frank-the-boy was at Hogwarts in the Gryffindor common room as they sat there? Then she realized what was happening, and wondered briefly why it’d taken her so long to figure it out. This was very obviously Frank’s dad, Alexander Longbottom. A feeling of dread washed over Lily as the three men approached.

“This is not good,” she heard Potter mutter.

This is not good? They were trapped who-knew-where with two men who had kidnapped a fully-grown wizard and killed at least one other; Potter was already hurt, and from the looks of it, pretty badly; she wasn’t hurt, but was unlikely to remain that way for too much longer, because they knew what the men were after, and they knew what would happen if the men got it; worse yet, they had it with them, so even if she and Potter were to try to convince them that they didn’t know anything about the parchment, all they’d have to do was search them to find out; and all Potter could think of to say was "this is not good"? It took every ounce of willpower that Lily possessed to fight off the urge to laugh at the absurd inadequacy of Potter’s statement. “No,” she agreed dryly. “This is not good at all.” Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Potter smile at her, and for some reason, felt reassured in spite of the hopelessness of the situation.


The men continued to approach them silently. As they drew near, Lily could see that Mr. Longbottom appeared to be struggling, as though trying to make his feet move in another direction. He couldn’t seem to stop the forward motion, however, and Lily wondered vaguely what kind of spell allowed you to control someone’s motion like that. The three figures came to a stop just in front of them. “Well, who do we have here?” the man on the right said. “James Potter and a mudblood.”

You’d better watch your mouth!” Potter shouted, struggling against his bindings.

The man on the right chuckled. “Temper, temper, young Potter. I’d have thought that you would have learned from my son that fighting back only gets you hurt.” The man, who Lily deduced must be Malfoy’s dad, pointed his wand at Potter, and said a spell that Lily did not know. Mr. Longbottom made to grab at Malfoy, Sr.’s wand, but the other man quickly stunned him, and he fell to the ground unconscious. Lily uttered a small scream as Potter’s body went taught, and he screamed in pain.

“Then let’s get straight to the point, shall we? Where is it?” the man on the left said in an impatient tone. Lily did not answer. “Come on children, I’m short on time and temper. Where is it? The Dark Lord will be needing it shortly.” He turned to look at Malfoy, Sr. “Will you lift the curse already so that he can tell us!”

Malfoy, Sr. lifted the spell and Potter slumped back into his chair. For a wild moment, Lily thought that he was dead, but then he lifted his head and glared up at them. “We don’t know what you’re talking about!” he spat out.

“Lying now, Potter?” Malfoy, Sr. said, the sneer still firmly in place. “I suppose it’s to be expected from the child of a mud-blood.”

“Don't talk about my mother that way!” Potter said, still fighting against his bindings. Malfoy, Sr. just laughed and again pointed his wand at Potter. Potter’s body began contorting, and another scream of pain escaped his lips.

“Stop it!” Lily shouted out, unable to contain herself any longer. “Stop it! Hurting him won’t help you get the parchment. Please!” Malfoy, Sr. lifted his wand and smiled at her. Too late, Lily realized her mistake.

“So you do know about it, then,” Malfoy, Sr. said, coming closer to Lily and peering at her. “My son was not misinformed.”

“Where is it then,” the impatient man snapped again.

Potter struggled to lift his head, and the look in his eyes plainly told Lily to let him handle it. “Dumbledore has it,” Potter rasped. “We gave it back to him this afternoon.”

Lily silently congratulated Potter for thinking so quickly, but her excitement was short-lived. “Our source within Hogwarts has assured us that you did no such thing,” Malfoy said calmly.

Lucius has no idea what I did this afternoon,” Potter countered.

Malfoy, Sr. chuckled. “You have no way of knowing that for certain,” he stated. “We have many methods of getting information about the activities taking place within Hogwarts.”

Lily was dumbstruck. They had been right about Amos, then. He would know whether or not Dumbledore had gotten the parchment from them, because he would have been with Dumbledore during the aftermath of the quidditch match… Lily’s mind began racing again, trying to think of something to stall for time. The only thing that she knew for certain at the moment was that they could not let the dark wizard get that parchment; even her own safety was secondary to that one thought. “You’ll have to go to Hogwarts to get it,” Lily said finally. “It’s in my dormitory.”

Malfoy, Sr. approached and knelt down in front of Lily, looking piercingly into her eyes. He stared at her for a few moments before his eyes narrowed dangerously. “Do not lie to me,” he said menancingly. He raised his hand and Lily automatically recoiled away from it. He did not hit her, however. Instead, he reached his hand inside her robe, found her pocket, and pulled out the piece of parchment. The impatient man revived Mr. Longbottom, who immediately started yelling at them about hurting young children. Malfoy, Sr. barely glanced at him. “If you don’t shut up, Longbottom, I’ll torture them again. Would you like to watch that?”

Longbottom’s eyes opened wide in horror. “You wouldn’t do that, Malfoy. They’re only children!”

“Keep your mouth shut, then,” Malfoy, Sr. commanded, inspecting the parchment closely. “This is it, let’s go.”

“What are we going to do with them?” the impatient man asked.

“We’ll let the Dark Lord decide once we’ve finished the ceremony,” Malfoy answered. “They'll have to be dealt with somehow. They know far too much to be released. Lucius is watching the house, so they'll be fine here for now.” He walked over to a fireplace on one wall of the room and pointed his wand at it. A fire instantly leapt to life, and the flames lit up details of the room that Lily had not been able to see in the darkness. She realized that she was in what appeared to be the ballroom of a manor. “You’ll have to travel by floo powder,” Malfoy, Sr. was now saying to the impatient man. “Longbottom won’t apparate, and since imperius doesn’t work on him, this is the only way. I’ve bribed the fool working at the floo-network right now to go on a coffee break, so you won’t be seen.”

The impatient man grabbed Mr. Longbottom by the arm, and forced him over to the fireplace. “Where are we meeting?”

“The deserted Riddle Manor in Little Hangleton,” Malfoy said, before disappearing with a crack.

The impatient man threw something into the fireplace, and shoved Mr. Longbottom into it, shouting “Riddle Manor, Little Hangleton” as he did so. The fire roared up around Mr. Longbottom, and in the next instant he was gone. The man then repeated the process for himself.

After a moment, Lily turned her head so that she could see Potter. “Are you okay?” she asked quickly.

He tried to smile at her, but winced in pain at the movement. “I’ll be fine,” he said.

“You’re lying,” Lily countered, once again noticing movement in the shadows. The house-elf that Lily had noticed earlier stepped into the light. He looked as though he’d been injured—his hands were now bound with bandages, and he had a lump on his head. “You will be safe, sir and miss,” the house-elf said in a high-pitched voice not unlike Alfie’s. “They is coming soon, and you is safe.” Lily watched in horror as the elf went over to the fireplace, and started poking his feet with the poker.

“No, stop!” she called out, but the elf paid her no mind. She looked at Potter in bewilderment. “What is it doing?”

Potter shook his head. “I’ve no idea,” he said. “We don’t have a house-elf.”

Two popping sounds drew their attention once again to the shadows, from which Alfie and another house-elf that Lily did not know were now emerging. “Why are you—? How did you—?” she sputtered.

Alfie smiled at her. “We is going to Hogwarts now, Miss. There is no time for questions.” With a flick of his hand, Alfie released both Lily and Potter from the bindings that were holding them in the chair. Lily stood up quickly, stretching as she did so.

“How did you do that?” she asked in wonder. Potter tried to stand up, but crumpled to the floor with a cry of pain. She ran over to him, and put his arm around her shoulder, helping him back into the chair.

Alfie was now motioning them over to the fireplace. “We must go now, Miss! They is coming back for you soon.” Alfie grabbed onto Lily’s robes and started tugging.

“We can’t go back to Hogwarts, Alfie! They have the parchment! I have to stop them!” Even as she said it, Lily knew how ridiculous it sounded. How could she stop them? Even if Potter wasn’t injured, the two of them couldn’t even take on one fully-grown wizard by themselves, let alone three. And there might even be more than that. But what choice did they have? They were the only ones who knew. She finally got Alfie to let go of her robes, and turned to him with a pleading look.

“You must go, Miss. Alfie is bringing you back to school,” Alfie said, again raising his hands. In the next instant, Lily was flying through the air toward the fireplace. She continued to hover there while Alfie threw some powder into it. He directed her in, said “Hogwarts”, and the next thing Lily knew, the flames had engulfed her and she was swirling around and around, banging her elbows on the wall, and coughing because of all of the ash and smoke that she was breathing in. The swirling was starting to make her sick, so she closed her eyes tightly, not opening them until she had fallen violently forward and landed on the ground with a thud. Lily scrambled out of the way, something in her stunned mind reminding her that there was a good chance that Potter would shortly be flying out of the fireplace as well. As soon as she’d moved, he tumbled out of the fireplace and onto the floor in front of her.

“Are you okay?” Lily asked him for the second time that night.

He smiled, but it looked more like a grimace. “That's the second time you've asked me that, Evans,” he said, clutching his chest in pain. “You’d better watch out, or no one will believe you anymore when you say you want me dead.”

“I’ve never said that I want you dead,” she said, but then laughed. “Not that I want you to go thinking that I don’t. It’s just that if you die right now, I’ll get blamed for it somehow, and I don’t want to be expelled,” she added, trying to keep the mood light.

Potter laughed, and then cringed in pain, grabbing at his ribs. “Stop making me laugh, Evans,” he said, breathing deeply, “or you may just kill me, after all!”

Lily gazed around at the room that they had landed in. “We’re in Dumbledore’s office,” she said, taking in the details of the circular room.

“I’ve been here enough to know that,” Potter said, rolling his eyes. “But where is Dumbledore? We have to tell him what’s happening!”

At that moment, the door to the office burst open and Dumbledore walked in. He was not alone. “Just what do you think you’re doing here?” Lily snarled, surprising even herself.


“Professors Amos and McGonagall are here on my invitation, Lily, as it is students from their houses that have gone missing,” Dumbledore said, folding his hands in front of him and resting his elbows lightly on his desk. “Or at least, were missing. It seems as though both of Professor McGonagall’s have returned.” He motioned for them all to sit down. Lily went over to help Potter, and he struggled to his feet, limping painfully to one of the chairs in front of Dumbledore’s desk. “James, should I have Professor McGonagall fetch Madam Pomfrey for you?”

Potter waved his hand. “I’ll be fine, Professor. There’s no time. We have to tell you—”

Dumbledore smiled gently in Potter’s direction. “My first concern is your welfare, James. If you need medical attention, I am quite certain that Lily will be able to tell me what I need to know without your assistance.” Dumbledore held Potter’s gaze for a moment before turning to McGonagall. “Minerva, would you please take James down to the hospital wing. I don’t believe that he is quite as uninjured as he professes, and I daresay that Madam Pomfrey would have my wand if I tried to heal him myself.”

McGonagall stood up and nodded briskly at Dumbledore, before holding out her hand and helping Potter up. “Come with me, Potter,” she said crisply, but the concern in her eyes belied the curtness of her tone. She was obviously very worried about him. It was also clear to Lily that Potter wanted to protest, but relented under Dumbledore’s gaze.

Dumbledore watched the door close tightly behind them, and turned back to Lily. “Lily, I need you to tell me everything that happened tonight. Everything,” he stressed. “Don’t leave something out just because you believe it might get you into trouble.”

Lily glanced suspiciously at Amos, but since precious minutes were slipping away, and there was little that she could reveal that he didn’t already know if he was a spy, she told Dumbledore what had happened.

“Do you know where they went?” Dumbledore asked, a note of urgency in his voice that Lily had never before seen in the headmaster.

Lily strained hard, trying to remember the name. “Rydell—No, Riddle—Manor,” she said. “I can’t remember the location.”

“That’s quite all right, Lily,” Dumbledore said, smiling kindly. “And now, I’m going to have to ask you once again to do what I told you earlier today, and wait back in your common room.” Lily flushed, but there was no hint of reproach in Dumbledore’s voice, just a bland statement of fact. “Professor Amos, if you don’t mind? I’ve got matters to attend to, and I don’t want Miss Evans walking unescorted through the castle—particularly given the events of this afternoon.”

Lily’s eyes grew round, and she started to protest. “But Professor, you don’t know—,” she began.

Professor Dumbledore held up a hand. “I know much more than you may give me credit for, Lily. And one of the things that I know is that you will be perfectly safe with Professor Amos.” Dumbledore stood up, and Amos followed. Lily looked suspiciously at Professor Amos, but also stood. Surely he couldn’t hurt her right now, since Dumbledore knew that she was with him. “Time is of the essence if we are to stop Mr. Riddle,” Dumbledore said, as Fawkes flew over to him and settled onto his shoulder. With a pop, both had disappeared and leaving a single gold feather and maroon and gold smoke remained where Professor Dumbledore had stood.

Amos turned and began walking out of the doorway. “Miss Evans?” he snapped. She took one last look at where Dumbledore had been standing, and then turned to follow him out of the office.

They walked silently toward GryffindorTower, Lily nearly running to keep up with Amos’s strides. When they were halfway to their destination, Professor Figg came running up to them. “Oh, Hagen! Thank goodness I found you. There’s a bit of a riot going on down in your common room at the moment. You need to get down there immediately.”

Amos glanced at Lily, and then back to Figg. “Professor Dumbledore has asked me to escort Miss Evans back to her common room—” he began.

Figg waved her hand dismissively. “I think I can handle escorting a small child back to her dormitory, Hagen,” she declared. “But you know perfectly well that your students aren’t going to listen to anybody but you.”

Amos hesitated. “All right,” he said finally. “Evans is to go directly back to Gryffindor tower. She’s been in enough trouble already today,” he said, turning and heading back down the stairs toward the basement.

“I’ll see that she’s taken care of,” Professor Figg called toward his back. Once he had disappeared, Figg turned back to Lily. “I was just on my way to check one of my potions, Miss Evans. I trust that you won’t mind accompanying me to my office for a moment? I’m sure that you can’t wait to get back to Gryffindor tower with your friends, but I’m afraid that if I don’t add the next ingredients to this potion within five minutes, I will have to toss it out. They can be quite sensitive that way.”

Lily nodded, not really paying attention to Figg’s words. Her mind was wandering from James, and hoping that he was going to be okay, to Dumbledore, and praying that he would be able to stop Tom Riddle from finishing the ceremony. She followed Professor Figg numbly to her potions laboratory, and sat on a stool while she waited for her to finish whatever it was that she was doing to her potion.

In a daze, Lily watched Professor Figg’s work, her hand closed idly around her locket. The first ingredient to be added was salamander blood, and then a stir; the next ingredient was bubotuber puss and then another stir. As Lily continued to watch, the Potions laboratory slowly dissolved, and she was standing in a field that she didn’t recognize. She shook her head, trying to clear it, but when the field didn’t disappear, Lily understood.

She was having another dream, and in that dream, Figg stood in the middle of a group of hooded figures, a potion bubbling in front of her. Suddenly Lily realized—Figg would have known about their location the night that she and Potter had had detention, having been the one that sent them; Figg would have known that they didn’t take the parchment to Professor Dumbledore, having been with him during the aftermath of the game; and Tom Riddle would need someone highly skilled in Potions to assist him with his quest for immortality. Hadn’t Professor Figg herself talked about magical ceremonies that combined different disciplines of magic? Lily fought back the wave of panic that threatened to engulf her as the realization dawned that it had been Professor Figg, and not Professor Amos at all, that she was not safe alone with.


Lily breathed deeply, trying to summon the courage that the sorting hat had seen in her when it placed her in Gryffindor house. The panic slowly ebbed, although it did not subside entirely as she surveyed the scene in front of her. Several of the hooded figures were chanting. Off to her right, Mr. Longbottom was waving his wand in a complex series of motions, and in the middle of it all was another hooded figure wearing green and silver robes. Through the slits in the hood, she could make out eyes of pure venom, and she knew, somehow, that she was looking at Tom Riddle. Lily heard Malfoy, Sr.’s drawl to the left of her, and she could hear that he was chanting. “Soon, my Lord. Soon you will be immortal and no one will be able to stop you on your noble quest. Soon, my Lord. Soon, my Lord.”

Lily looked around, trying to understand what was happening. It appeared that they were performing the last steps of the ceremony, but they were not in a manor. In fact, there were no houses for any distance that she could see, just an old barn. She had to figure out where they were. Wondering if she could control this vision, having never before had the presence of mind to realize that she was having one and so never having tried, Lily willed herself to walk towards the barn. Perhaps something about it would give her a clue as to where they were. Obviously Riddle Manor had not been Malfoy, Sr’s final destination.

Lily approached the barn, and saw that there was a path in front of it that led out to a road. She walked past the barn and approached the thoroughfare. As she drew closer, she could see a sign just up the road that said Hogsmeade. Below the writing was an arrow. They were near Hogsmeade! Lily felt a jolt of excitement flow through her, and just as suddenly as it had appeared, the road and the sign were gone, and she was sitting on the floor in her Potions Master’s laboratory.

“My dear child,” Professor Figg said, running around to where Lily was lying. “What in Merlin’s name happened?”

Noth—nothing, Professor,” Lily said, standing up and backing inconspicuously away.

Expelliarmus!” a voice from behind Lily said, and before she could turn to look, her wand and Professor Figg’s wand went flying out of their hands. They both turned around and saw Malfoy and Crabbe approaching them, wands out. “Your services are once again required, Figg,” Malfoy said, walking over to her.

Figg glared at Malfoy. “I’ve told you before I won’t help you, Malfoy!” she said calmly.

Malfoy laughed mirthlessly. “That’s what you said last fall, when I asked you to retrieve Dumbledore’s book for me. Do you remember that, Figg? No, of course you wouldn't. I took care to make sure that you would not be able to tell anyone what I was doing. Well, allow me to remind you of the other times you've helped then, like last winter, when I caught you outside to ask you who might know the whereabouts of the missing page. You argued with me, but you assisted me anyway. And you assisted me just earlier today, when I asked you if the page had been returned to Dumbledore. I daresay, you have been just as helpful as any of the Dark Lord’s loyal servants. And you will help him this time, as well.” Malfoy responded, pointing his wand at her. Imperio.”

As Lily watched, Figg’s eyes took on a vacant look. “Stand up,” he commanded. Figg stood without objection, and Lily realized that Malfoy was using the imperius curse that Alice and Amelia had described to her.

“What do we do with this one?” Crabbe grunted, pointing his wand at Lily. “We’ll have to bring her with us,” Malfoy snapped. “She knows too much for us to allow her to escape again!”

Malfoy pulled out an old sock, and in the next instant, he and Figg had disappeared. Lily stared in shock at the spot where they had stood, fighting back the urge to cry as Crabbe grabbed her roughly by the hair for the second time that day. Her mind raced as she desperately tried to come up with a plan.

“They’re near Hogsmeade!” she screamed desperately, praying that someone might walk by and hear her. “They aren’t at Riddle Manor! Professor Amos! Professor McGonagall!!! They’re east of Hogsmeade. Not Riddle Manor!!” Crabbe yanked her head back and Lily yelped.

“Shut up you filthy little mudblood!” he spat.

Lily glared up at him defiantly. “They’re in Hogsmeade!” she shouted again. “Not Riddle Ma—” Crabbe raised his hand, and Lily just had time to scream before his palm connected with her cheekbone. She felt an explosion of pain rip through her face from her ear all the way to her jaw, and in the next second, everything went black.

Chapter Text

Chapter 19: Waking Up from the Nightmare


Lily had no idea how long she had been unconscious by the time she finally woke up. She sat up slightly, and looked around. Although it was dark, she could make out enough details to realize that she was in the hospital ward of Hogwarts, though she had no memory of arriving there. A sliver of pain shot across her cheekbone, and she winced, touching her fingers lightly to her cheek and desperately trying to remember what had happened.

Malfoy had kidnapped her and taken her to his home. Malfoy’s father had used some horrendous curse on Potter, and taken the parchment, and then Alfie had come and rescued them. She’d told Dumbledore about the ceremony at Riddle Manor, and then—left with Professor Amos. Now it was all coming back to her. She’d gone with Figg to her potions room, and then she’d had the vision. Lily gasped and sat straight up in bed, struggling to throw her covers off. The vision! Dumbledore thought that the ceremony was going on at Riddle manor. He didn’t know! She had to tell him! She stumbled out of bed, but then had to grab onto the railing to support herself as a wave of dizziness washed over her.

“Relax, Evans,” a familiar voice called out somewhere in front of her. After the dizziness had subsided to some extent, she looked up to see James Potter grinning at her from the bed across from hers.

“But I have to tell Dumbledore what I saw! Riddle was near Hogsmeade—he wasn’t at Riddle Manor at all!” Lily said frantically, trying to walk toward the door. Pain was searing through her cheekbone as she pulled herself along the railing, and the dizziness had not completely gone away, but she didn’t care. She had to tell Dumbledore. She was the only one that knew!

“He already knows,” Potter said soothingly. “I told him. Well, to be completely accurate, McGonagall told him, but I informed her.”

“No! He doesn’t know—he… You told him?” she asked as her reeling mind caught up with the conversation. “But you were in the hospital wing.”

“I was,” Potter conceded. “Until I realized that Dumbledore would probably leave you alone with Amos.”

“But it wasn’t Amos at all.”

“No, it wasn’t, but I didn’t know that, did I? And it’s a lucky thing I didn’t, too, or else we wouldn't have found out. When Pomfrey went to her office to grab some sort of pain-relieving potion, I snuck out of the ward and went downstairs, figuring that Amos would take you to his office or something. I heard you screaming from the stairs.”

“You heard me screaming?” she asked in amazement. Her plan had worked after all.

Potter smiled. “I think the whole bloody castle heard you screaming, Evans. You’re louder than most trains!”

Lily laughed. “So you heard me screaming?” she said. “Then what?”

“I ran to get Professor McGonagall. I figured she’d have a better chance of helping you than I could. I wanted to go straight to you, but I still thought it was Amos that had you, and I knew that I didn’t have a chance against him. Fortunately, I didn’t have to look very long. She was in the staff lounge. She came running, and we ran into Amos in the hall, who’d heard me shouting for help.  As soon as I saw him, I realized that it wasn’t him who had you, so I told McGonagall what you’d said about the new location, and she left to tell Dumbledore, and Amos and I took off to the classroom.  We got there just as Crabbe was creating a port key.  It’s lucky he’s completely worthless with charms, or you’d both probably have disappeared before we could stop you.  Anyway, it was Amos that brought you up here. Pomfrey nearly had a fit.”

“I imagine, though she was more upset about your escape than about my injuries, if I’m not wrong.”

Potter grinned. “Yeah, she yelled at me for at least an hour when I returned,” he said.  “She was threatening detention, too, but she didn’t give me any.”  He looked at her oddly.  “It was worth it, though” he added so quietly that she almost didn’t hear him. 

 

She gazed curiously at him for a moment before breaking eye contact, and sitting quietly, thinking. “Did he—he didn’t, did he?” she asked finally.

Potter shook her head. “No, Dumbledore and the aurors arrived just before Figg was to add the final ingredient of the potion for Riddle to drink.”

Lily released the breath that she hadn’t even realized she was holding. “Did they catch him then?” she asked.

“No. One of Riddle’s followers realized that they were surrounded, and shouted a warning. They all disapparated just before the anti-disapparation jinxes would have hit them.”

Lily sighed heavily. “So he’s still free, then?”

“Yes. But the important thing is that we kept him from achieving immortality. Nobody would have been able to stop him if we hadn’t.”

Lily grimaced. “I don’t know how much I did to help,” she sighed.

“Are you kidding?” he said in amazement. “You’re the one that made it possible for Dumbledore to know where he was.”

Lily shook her head. “No,” she said. “You told McGonagall. If it hadn’t been for you, he wouldn’t have known.”

“But you told me. If it hadn’t been for you, I wouldn’t have known.”

“Yes, but I don’t even know how I knew—”

“What do you mean, you don’t know how you knew?” Potter asked, clearly confused by this. “Didn’t Malfoy or Crabbe tell you?”

“No,” Lily said with a shrug. “Nobody told me anything. I saw it.”

“You—what?” he asked, laughing. He stopped when he saw that she wasn’t joking. “You saw it? Like—like a vision, or something?”

Lily nodded. “Or something. I was sitting on a stool in Figg’s classroom, watching her make a potion, and the next thing I knew, I was there with him, where the ceremony was being held. It’s not the first time it’s happened, either.”

Potter stared at her, quiet for a moment. An expression like awe slowly spread across his face. “So you were telling the truth, when you came back the night we were ambushed. You knew…?”

Lily glanced at Potter, a little startled at the abrupt change of subject. “I already told you I knew,” she snapped impatiently, trying to get her mind around the idea that she might have some sort of sixth sense of which she’d been utterly unaware for most of her life.

Potter let out a low whistle. “Then you’re a seer…?”

Lily didn’t answer right away. She wasn’t, was she? It wasn’t like she walked around all day, seeing everything before it happened. She didn’t get to choose when she saw something, and sometimes, like with the dream, it hadn’t even been clear to her that she was having a vision. She shook her head. “No,” she said. “No, I’m not. I can’t be. I mean, it’s not as though I knew that Malfoy was going to corner us outside the kitchens today. If I’d have known that, I’d have saved us all a lot of trouble.”

Potter nodded in agreement. “But you knew about us being ambushed. You knew what was going to happen at the quidditch game,” Lily glanced at Potter in surprise. “Alice told us,” he explained. “And you knew that Tom Riddle was near Hogsmeade.”

“No,” Lily said again, not wanting to believe it. “No, I am not a ‘seer’, or whatever you call it. There’s just no way. It can’t be.” They sat in silence for a moment. Lily cast around in her mind for a change of subject. “Is Frank’s dad okay?” she asked.

Potter’s smile disappeared. “Dumbledore asked me to let him talk to you about that,” he said quietly.

Lily felt a flutter of trepidation course through her body. “He isn’t—is he?” she said, unable to get the question out. “No, he can’t be. I saw him—in my dream, I saw him. He was still alive. They couldn’t have—could they?”

Potter didn’t answer. “Dumbledore wants to talk to you about it. I’ll go let Madam Pomfrey know that you’re awake.”

Lily held out her hand to stop him. “No,” she said. “You’re hurt worse than I am. I’ll go.” She stood up and padded quietly toward the door, the anxiety about the fate of Frank’s dad taking root in her stomach, and growing stronger with every step.

 

**********************************


Madam Pomfrey summoned Professor Dumbledore after a considerable amount of pleading on Lily’s part. Pomfrey thought that it was best for Lily just to return to bed, and speak with Dumbledore in the morning, and it was only after Lily promised to take a sleeping draught after Dumbledore had left that she consented. Madam Pomfrey had also agreed to let them use her office, so that they could have some privacy. Lily perched on a chair across from Dumbledore, and looked around while she waited for him to speak. The office was hectagonal. Shelves lining every bare wall from floor to ceiling were full of books on healing, medicinal potions, and potion ingredients. The books and potions were in separate sections, filed in alphabetical order by subject then, in the case of the books, author. The potion ingredients lined one entire wall, and were situated in perfectly straight lines, also meticulously alphabetized. There was not a speck of dust anywhere in the room, and all exposed metal gleamed in the lamplight. It was obvious that Pomfrey’s no-nonsense demeanor translated to her housekeeping habits, and Lily had the sudden urge to pull out a book that belonged under the letter ‘B’ and move it to the section of shelving marked ‘D’, just to see how Madam Pomfrey would react.

She stifled a laugh at the thought as Dumbledore spoke. “I understand that I have you and James to thank for stopping Mr. Riddle this evening,” he said, his eyes twinkling kindly.

Lily flushed. “On the contrary, sir. If it hadn’t been for us not following directions, he never would have gotten the page in the first place.”

To Lily’s surprise, Dumbledore let out a hearty laugh. “That is certainly an argument that could be made, yes,” he agreed, “but I prefer to trust that you both will have learned a lesson from your experience, and focus instead on the positive outcome tonight. You and James stopped a man with very dangerous ideas from having the wherewithal to carry them out, Lily. Both of you showed a presence of mind that is quite remarkable in students your age.”

“Thank you, sir,” Lily said quietly.

“You are quite welcome,” he said, leaning back in his chair. “And now I have a question for you.”

Lily straightened up in her chair, knowing what he was going to ask. “I don’t know, sir.”

“You don’t?” he inquired.

“No,” she said. “Malfoy didn’t tell me. Crabbe didn’t tell me. I—I saw it, in my mind. I was sitting in Professor Figg’s classroom, watching her add the ingredients to the potion she was making, and then suddenly, I was in a field with Tom Riddle, watching Professor Figg make a potion for him. Only I realized that I was having a dream, and so I thought maybe I can control it, maybe I can tell my mind what I want to see. So I did, and I saw a sign that said Hogsmeade, with an arrow pointing west…”

Dumbledore sat up and rested his elbows on Pomfrey’s desk, peering intently at Lily, but not speaking. “Is that the first time you’ve had that sort of vision?” he asked finally.

Lily looked down. “No, sir. It’s happened a few times. The night that the boys got ambushed, and even before.” Lily paused, realizing that Dumbledore did not know about the ambush. But he nodded as though he knew what she was talking about, so she didn’t explain any further. “I knew what was going to happen at the quidditch game tonight, only I didn’t realize that I knew. I had thought it was only a bad dream. And then, one other time, I saw Frank’s dad. That was when I saw myself at that place they took us tonight.”

Dumbledore again contemplated her silently for a moment. “Do you know what a seer is, Lily?” he asked gently.

Lily nodded. “I do, sir. But I know what you’re thinking, and you’re wrong. I’m not. I didn’t predict anything. I just had a lucky guess. I can’t make myself see what is going to happen. I don’t have that ability.”

Dumbledore remained silent throughout Lily’s speech, and spoke only after she had fallen silent. “I’m afraid that the ability to see, to use one’s ‘inner eye’ as our Divination professor is quite fond of calling it, is not as simple as that, Lily. It’s not that you either have it, and you can see the future at will, or you don’t. Those are but the two most extreme ends of an entire spectrum of ability. Most people, if not all, have at least some seeing talent—even muggles—they just don’t recognize it for what it is when it happens. Instead, they dismiss it as intuition, or a lucky guess. You were much the same way before tonight, in fact, dismissing your dream about the quidditch match as only a dream. However, you seem to fall closer on the spectrum to predicting at will than the average witch or wizard does, meaning that you have now been forced to recognize your sight for what it is. You cannot possibly dismiss what happened tonight as a lucky guess, Lily, no matter how much you might like to do so.” Lily again began to protest, but Dumbledore held up a hand. “Yes, I know that you can’t see the future just by wishing that you could. Or at the very least, I know that it has never occurred to you to try, and that is well, but your seeing ability is far beyond that which your friends, Alice and Amelia, for example, are capable. And it seems to be activated when people that you know or care about are in danger. This is a very special gift, Lily. You would do well to stop denying it, and instead embrace it. I can’t overstate the number of lives that your gift saved tonight.”

Lily sat in silence for a moment, trying to take in what Dumbledore was saying. It would make more sense, however, if this ability had been with her for her entire life. It seemed to have just awoken during her term at Hogwarts. “How come I haven’t had this ability my entire life?” she asked finally.

Dumbledore smiled. “I’m afraid there’s no way to answer that question with any certainty without knowing more about your talent. It could be that none of your friends or family members was ever in grave enough danger to arouse your sight. Or it could be that being around the magic that literally lives in the walls of Hogwarts could have activated it. There are just too many possibilities to know for sure.”

Lily again pondered this in silence. “I have a question to ask you,” she said quietly, wanting to change the subject, and yet dreading the answer that Dumbledore would give.

Dumbledore nodded. “You’re wondering about Frank’s father, aren’t you?” he asked her.

After the events of the evening, Lily couldn’t even find it within herself to be surprised the Dumbledore had read her mind. “I am, sir.”

The twinkle in Dumbledore’s eyes faded for a moment. “Are you sure that you don’t want to discuss this in the morning, after you’ve had a good night’s rest?” he asked her.

“I’m certain.”

Dumbledore sighed heavily. “Very well, then. I’m afraid that after Mr. Longbottom had performed his part of the ceremony for Mr. Riddle, Mr. Riddle put a memory charm on him to keep him from speaking about his participation to anyone. I suppose it was originally in his plan to return Alexander to his family, in order to convince the Ministry that there was no dark magic about. It makes it easier for him to achieve his goals, you understand, if the Ministry is not suspicious of his motives. However, the memory charm was too strong, and it erased almost all of Mr. Longbottom’s lifetime of memories. He was taken to St. Mungo’s, but I’m afraid that any magic done to reverse the charm could end up making his condition worse. At the moment, there is nothing that the Longbottom family can do but wait, and hope that the effects of the charm will lessen over time, so that he will recognize his wife and child again.”

Lily gasped, her hand automatically flying to her mouth. As she sat there in horrified silence, the awfulness of everything that she had witnessed that night hit her forcefully, and she began to cry, softly at first, and then in huge wracking sobs. Dumbledore walked around the desk, and gathered her into his arms, before Madam Pomfrey burst into the room and began chastising him loudly for upsetting her patient. Lily gladly took the calming draught that Pomfrey offered, and allowed herself to be led numbly back to her bed, where she quickly fell into a dreamless sleep.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 20: The End of Term


“I think we should wake her up!”

“No, she’s had a rough night. You heard Madam Pomfrey, the draught’ll wear off soon!”

“Yes, but I want to wake her up now. I don’t want to wait.”

Lily awoke the next morning to the sound of Alice and Amelia arguing. For a moment just before she opened her eyes, she thought that she was back in her bed in Gryffindor tower, and wondered what small miracle had resulted in her two best friends being awake before she was; in that glorious moment, she knew nothing of the events of last night. Once she had opened her eyes and saw the stark cleanliness of the hospital ward, however, it all came back to her in a rush. She squeezed her eyes shut again quickly, trying to erase the memory. The thought of Frank losing his dad in such an unspeakable manner was almost more than her 12-year-old heart could stand. She could feel the tears pricking the backs of her eyelids but before she had the opportunity to start crying again, she was engulfed in a hug by Alice.

“Ooooh! We’re so glad you’re safe,” Alice squealed, straightening up and looking at Lily, as though reassuring herself that Lily was, in fact, in one piece and sitting there in front of them. She then grabbed Lily in a hug again.

Lily laughed and pushed her away. “I’m fine,” she said.

Amelia also hugged her, and when she stood back up, her gaze glanced over Lily’s cheek. “Is that where the gorilla hit you?” she asked, a trace of anger in her voice.

Lily reached up and ran her fingers over her cheekbone. She could feel the slight swelling that still remained from the injury. “I suppose it is,” she said with a grimace. “Does it look as bad as it feels?”

“Worse,” Potter said. She looked past Alice and Amelia to see him standing behind them.

“Thanks,” she said. “I might have come out unscathed if you’d come down from the hospital wing a few seconds earlier!”

Potter’s grin disappeared. “I know,” he said. “And I promise you that I won’t be so late next time.”

He looked so sorry that Lily couldn’t help but laugh. “Relax, Potter,” she said with a smirk. “I was only kidding.”

Alice and Amelia were exchanging awed glances. “So you two are getting along then?” Alice asked finally.

Lily laughed. “For now, anyway. I wouldn’t get too used to it, though.”

The girls laughed, and then sat quietly for a moment, unable to think of anything else to say. Lily was wondering if they had been told what had happened to Frank's dad, but had no idea how to bring the subject up. After a few more minutes had passed, Amelia cleared her throat, and then scuffed her shoe on the floor, looking extremely saddened and uncomfortable. “Has anyone told you what happened to Frank’s dad?” she asked finally.

 

Lily nodded.  “Does Frank know?”

 

“He found out last night. He’s already left to be with his mum. We barely had a chance to say goodbye,” Alice said. Both Alice’s and Amelia’s eyes were now brimming with tears.

“Frank left already?” Potter said in alarm. “But I didn’t get a chance to tell him good-bye. I—”

“Oi, Potter!” a voice near the door called out. They looked up to see Black loping in their direction, followed closely by Pettigrew and Lupin. “When are you going to stop faking it and get your lazy butt out of here?”

Potter laughed. “Right about now sounds just fine with me,” he said with a glance behind Black. “But I’m not sure Madam Pomfrey will agree to that.”

Lily looked beyond the three Marauders and saw Madam Pomfrey hurrying in their direction. Potter returned quickly to his bed, and the three boys followed.

“No, Mr. Potter, you most certainly may not leave yet. I’ve got Professor Dumbledore’s permission to keep you until the end-of-term feast on Friday, and I fully intend to do so. And Miss Evans!” Madam Pomfrey nearly shouted. “Why are you still here? Your injury was only a slight contusion to your cheek. No concussion or any permanent damage. For Merlin’s sake, get dressed and get out of here. Your friend Potter needs his rest.”

“And so we’re to be blamed for making all the noise,” Lily said with a sigh, standing up and pulling the curtain around her bed shut. She dressed quickly, and then packed all of her get well cards, one each from Alice, Amelia, Kaylie, Desdamona, Andromeda, Joshua and Frank, and a joint one from the Maruaders, and the flowers that someone had sent her into a bag that Alice had brought with her.

“I suppose we’d better get out of here, then!” The three girls said goodbye to the boys, and made their way out of the hospital wing.

The girls spent the remainder of “results week”, as they had dubbed the last week of the term, relaxing outside, practicing their flying and the magic that they had learned, and enjoying each other’s company as much as they could before the summer holiday forced them apart. Sometimes they would talk about Frank and his family, and what they must be going through, but mostly the girls avoided the topic by mutual agreement.

On a couple of occasions, they made their way to the hospital wing to visit Potter. On their first visit, both she and Potter had finally told Alice, Amelia and the Marauders what had happened the night of the quidditch game. The Marauders looked amazed when Lily told them what Dumbledore had said about her “seer” abilities, but Alice and Amelia just shook their heads, as though they had known all along. Lily said as much to them.

“Well, we have known all along,” Alice said patiently. “I mean, how else could you have known what the Slytherins were planning the night I was attacked?”

“And we knew that you’d dreamt about the quidditch match, as well,” Amelia reminded her.

“But we hadn’t guessed that your sight was triggered when people you care about are in danger,” Alice said, exchanging a knowing glance with Amelia and dissolving into giggles. Both steadfastly refused to answer Lily when she asked them what was so funny.

Finally, Friday morning arrived, and Lily awoke with butterflies in her stomach. All five girls dressed quickly, and hurried downstairs to the Great Hall, where their exam results were posted. Lily was relieved to find that she had received high marks in most of her classes. After looking at Herbology, Charms, Defense Against the Dark Arts, History of Magic, and Potions, she stood back from the crowd, trying to work up the nerve to check her Transfiguration score.

“I don’t believe it!” she heard Black call out to Lupin. “I beat Jamesy at Transfiguration. He isn’t going to like that.”

“Is he second, then?” Lupin asked. He was looking at their Potions grade. “Of the four of us, Petey was top in Potions.”

“No, he isn’t second,” Black said, a hint of amazement in his voice. “He’s third.”

“Third,” Pettigrew exclaimed, scrambling over to where Black was standing. “You mean Remmy beat Jamesy?”

“No,” Black said. “It wasn’t Remmy.”

“Well, who was it then?” Lupin said, now perusing their Defense Against the Dark Arts grades. “I got top in Defense,” he added.

“No surprise there,” Pettigrew said. “So who got second in Transfiguration, Siri?”

“Evans,” Black said in disbelief. “How’d that happen?”

Lily turned to stare at them. “What do you mean, I beat Potter?” she asked, striding past Pettigrew to stand beside Black in front of their Transfiguration scores. Sure enough, there was her name, right below Black’s, and just above Potter’s. “There’s no way… I mean, how could I…?”

She turned to look at Black, but he looked just as amazed as she felt. “I have no idea, Evans, but somehow you did,” he said with a smirk. “I wonder how James’ll take this.”

“Well, she only beat him by one point,” Lupin pointed out.

“Still, she beat him,” Pettigrew said. “And he’s teased her all year. Now she’ll be able to tease him.”

A wide grin broke out across Lily’s face. “You’re right, Peter,” she said. “I could. But unlike Potter, I would never use this against him,” and she turned and strode off to find a seat at the Gryffindor table for breakfast.

 

***********************************


Before Lily knew it, the end of term feast had come and gone. Ravenclaw had been awarded the house cup, having edged out Gryffindor by only 20 points, and the quidditch cup, of course, belonged to Slytherin—they’d known that since Ravenclaw had defeated Gryffindor the previous week. Potter booed loudest of all when this award was presented, and proclaimed to all who would listen that if he had been on the team, they would have won. Most of the Gryffindor table, Marauders included, simply rolled their eyes at him.

At the banquet, no mention was made of the events of the Saturday night previous, however Lily noticed that both Malfoy and Crabbe were absent from the end-of-term celebrations. She wasn’t certain what had happened to them, but she did know that they hadn’t been arrested, as she presumed that type of news would have shown up in the Daily Prophet at some point. In fact, the newspaper carried no news of what had happened the night that they’d stopped Tom Riddle from achieving immortality, save for a very small article stating that Alexander Longbottom had been found, and that his disappearance was the result of his memory being altered. The article didn’t give any suspects, but mentioned that it was being investigated, and that the public should not “panic”.

The next day, the students all boarded the Hogwarts Express bound for London. They were quiet most of the ride, save to make plans with one another for the summer. Lily invited both Alice and Amelia to stay at her house, and they returned her invitation. At last, they arrived back at the platform in London. Lily said her goodbyes, and with a wave to the Marauders, she turned and began pushing her trolley toward the barrier. “Hey Evans!” an unmistakable voice behind her called out.

She turned, and saw the Marauders still standing there, as they had been just a moment before. “My parents are waiting, Potter,” she said, a little bit impatiently.

“Relax, Evans. This won’t take long. Youowemeakiss,” he said quickly, flushing slightly but never losing his smile. Lily stared at him blankly. “Our bet?” he reminded her. “You scored one point higher on Transfiguration than I did.”

Lily blinked, comprehension dawning. She looked at the three Marauders, all watching the proceedings avidly, and blushed. “I forgot about that,” she said, walking reluctantly over to him.

“Yes,” he said, the flush deepening as she approached. “I rather thought you might.”

She smiled, and kissed Potter quickly on the cheek. The red in his face spread all the way to his ears, and he touched his fingers to his cheek absently. “She kissed me!” he said, his voice sounding dazed.

Black let out a loud whoop, and Lupin held out a hand to Pettgirew. “That’s a sickle you owe me,” he said as Lily turned, her face as red as Potter’s, and began pushing her cart to the barrier. “I told you he’d get a kiss from her before the year was over.”

“But she hates James!” she heard Pettigrew say before Platform Nine and Three-Quarters disappeared, and she was engulfed in her father’s arms.