Lily woke up early the next morning with a sure feeling that something awful had happened. It took her a while to place exactly why she felt that way, but with a swift, swooping realisation, she remembered who the Head Boy was.
She groaned and rolled over in her bed, putting her face on the pillow, trying to hide from the sun that was already reaching its shimmering fingers through the window. However, it seemed fruitless to go back to sleep, so she quickly got dressed and headed down to the Great Hall for some breakfast.
She found Jasmine already sitting at the Slytherin table and waved her over; it was always Jasmine who came to her, as she knew Lily would be eaten alive if she tried to hang around with the other Slytherins. Lily was one of the less hated Gryffindors it was true, but it was the principle involved, and principle was very important to Slytherins.
“Morning, Miss Head Girl,” Jasmine said as she took a seat next to Lily.
“Please don’t remind me of that position right now; I’m having some trouble with it.”
Jasmine raised an enquiring eyebrow as she reached for a piece of toast.
“Did you not notice who Head Boy is?” Lily asked, exasperated with the situation.
Now, Jasmine smiled at the memory of Lily’s face last night.
“Yes, your friends will be thrilled for you. But why didn’t you know until the feast? I mean, you left to brief the Prefects in their carriage on the train. Surely James was there too?” she asked.
“This is James you’re talking about. You’re also talking about a situation that would involve people showing responsibility. At what point did you think that those two things were compatible?” she asked. Jasmine couldn’t help laughing.
Neither of them noticed as Severus entered the hall and cast them a disapproving look before seating himself at the Slytherin table. He moodily pushed some cereal around a bowl as he sat regarding the two girls across the Hall from him. There was Jasmine - the Slytherin traitor - sitting at the enemy’s table, and Lily - the insufferable do-gooder Gryffindor - who was the enemy. ‘Gryffindors should all be cursed,’ he thought to himself as a couple more entered the hall and took seats at the Gryffindor table.
As the hall started to fill with more students, Severus’s expression and actions became muted and neutral, offering no indication of what he was thinking or feeling. His mother had been the one who taught him to do this, and how it would always give him an advantage. That was before his father had stopped loving her, of course, back when she was still someone he respected.
James entered the Great Hall, still yawning, followed by the rest of the Marauders. They took seats about a quarter of the table’s length away from Lily and Jasmine.
“Are the timetables still the same as last year?” Sirius asked as he got himself a glass of orange juice.
“As long as you passed all the end of year tests last year to continue for a full N.E.W.T., then yes, the timetable is the same,” he informed him.
“How do you know that?” James asked, his head on his arms as he tried to wake up; mornings were not his strong point.
“I asked at the end of last year what was going to happen about the timetables,” he replied.
“You should know stuff like that, being Head Boy and all,” Sirius pointed out to James, who raised his head long enough to glare at him.
“So, what’s your first lesson?” Peter asked them all, wanting to know if he was with them or not, as he didn’t take as many subjects as they did.
James and Sirius were both taking the same subjects: Transfiguration, Potions, Charms, Defence Against the Dark Arts, Care of Magical Creatures, and Herbology. Remus took the same, except for Herbology and Potions; instead, he took Arithmancy. Though both James and Sirius had tried to talk him into taking six subjects like them, Remus was sensible and knew his limitations well. Peter was taking Charms, Care of Magical Creatures, Defence Against the Dark Arts, and Herbology.
“Potions,” James replied immediately, knowing exactly when his lessons that involved Lily were from last year.
Even Sirius didn’t bother to roll his eyes or comment. Remus told Peter that they both had free periods.
When the bell rang, everyone was quick to make their way to their first lesson. The teachers were not misguided enough to believe that this enthusiasm would last more than the first half of the term, though.
James and Sirius took their usual desk at the back of the dungeons and, with a flick of their wands, had unpacked all their equipment onto the table. A few people copied them, but most unpacked by hand, including Lily.
Professor Slughorn was not long in entering the dungeon.
“Ah, welcome to my most advanced class!” he said enthusiastically as they all gave him their attention. “There will be a little change to this year. I do, of course, wish you all to be working to the best of your abilities. By allowing you to choose your own partners, some of you, I’m afraid, are suffering,” he told them quickly, smiling beatifically in a way that fooled no one. “Please find the list of partners on the board.”
Professor Slughorn waved his wand and a list of pairs immediately appeared on the board behind him.
“I am with you, right?” James asked Sirius, who was peering at the board.
“Yes…” he replied slowly, looking at the pair directly above them.
“Good. I didn’t think Slughorn would risk offending us. Then he’d never get us in his little club,” James said, sounding disapproving.
Although both Sirius and James had been asked repeatedly by Professor Slughorn to attend his various gatherings, they had each and every time refused, owing to the fact that he never asked Remus or Peter. They were perfectly happy with their own friends without needing his.
James cast a curious glance at Sirius, who was still looking at the board and frowning, though everyone else had begun turning to the right pages in their Potions book and were already readying their ingredients.
“What is it?” he asked.
“It’s…look you’re not going to like this, okay?” he warned before he plowed on. “Snivellus’s partner is…Evans.”
James stared at him.
“Lily?” he squeaked very loudly in disbelief.
Lily turned from where she was sitting towards the front of the class to give him a rather annoyed look.
“I imagine he’s hoping Snivellus will convince her to go to his little club. You know how fond he is of her,” Sirius continued rapidly.
James said nothing, but by the way he was slamming his ingredients about, Sirius could tell it really bothered him.
At the front of the class, Lily was eyeing her partner with trepidation. She knew he was the logical choice for her – they almost perfectly matched each others’ abilities – but from the way he was sneering at her, she couldn’t help but think that it might have been better if she wasn’t quite so good at Potions. She remembered the few times when he’d called her ‘filth’ and ‘Mudblood’, but made a concerted effort to put it from her mind and concentrate on making this experience at least a little short of horrific.
For his part, Severus was mortified by who his partner was. He knew she was competent in Potions and that their teacher often favoured her, loving her quirky smile and the mischievous streak to her nature. But Severus could not forget what she was, or forgive the number of times she’d tried to help him. He deliberately waited for her to turn to the right page in her own book, not wanting her to have the use of his own, more personalised, copy.
“Do what I say, and don’t mess it up,” he growled at her.
Lily bristled, but let it slide, remembering that she was trying to be civil even if he wasn’t.
“I do know how to make potions, Snape,” she said mildly.
He glared at her, but didn’t comment. It would go better for them both of them if they could do this with the least amount of communication necessary, after all.
Lily lit a fire beneath their cauldron quickly and scanned the instructions for the potion they were making to grant the drinker dreamless sleep.
Severus watched her light the fire, immediately flicking his wand to control the temperature the heat could rise to. It would mean waiting a little longer on some steps, but the potion would turn out better.
Lily frowned at the ingredients she was supposed to be combining.
“It says here Asphodel and Wormwood,” she said in a puzzled voice. “That’s the Draught of Living Death; it’s much too strong for an Enchanted Sleep potion.”
“The Draught of Living Death is an Enchanted Sleep potion,” Severus pointed out coldly. “And if you’d read it properly, you’d see we’re adding Piafrat juice and Knotgrass later. Both help make the effects milder.”
Privately, Severus agreed that starting with the Draught of Living Death was too strong. He wasn’t about to tell her that, however, and some extra knotgrass would do the job.
Lily looked down the list of ingredients and saw that he was right; she was impressed he knew all that.
“You really do know what you’re doing here,” she complimented him, smiling. Severus merely scowled at her.
“Get on with it, Evans.”
Narcissa shot him a sympathetic look from where she was working with her Slytherin partner, but he ignored her too.
Lily gave up on making conversation, and neither of them spoke again to the other as the lesson progressed, instead focusing solely on the potion. Around them, others chatted as they concocted their potions, and there came the occasional curse as something went wrong.
By the end of the lesson, about three-quarters of the class had finished the potion to a satisfactory standard and the rest were on the right track. Professor Slughorn was very pleased. He strode eagerly around the students, peering into the cauldrons and offering the occasional comment, criticism, or praise. When he came to Lily and Severus, his eyes widened with delight.
“Oho, it seems I’ve paired you well,” he said gleefully.
Lily smiled back at him, having to admit he was right. Her potion, always excellent, was vastly improved through working with Severus.
“Your powers of foresight come through once again, sir,” Lily said, knowing well his reputation for his instincts.
“Ah, Lily, you’re wasted here,” he said ruefully, thinking of all the contacts he could give her.
She shook her head with a smile and he bent to closer examine the potion. He could find not one fault with it. Before he could comment further, though, the bell rang. He straightened to dismiss the class, awarding twenty points to both Slytherin and Gryffindor for Lily and Severus’s potion.
Severus was quick to exit the dungeons well ahead of James and Sirius, knowing perfectly well that they were going to hold the new pairings against him.
Lily packed slowly, waiting for Alice, who had been her original partner. Lily hoped that she wasn’t going to feel hurt by how well she’d got on without her. She looked at her nervously as she approached, but Alice was regarding her with amusement, not animosity.
“Well, we always knew you were better at this than me. I can’t imagine why you’re looking so worried,” she said casually.
Lily smiled in relief.
“I guess I just thought…actually, I don’t know what I thought,” she said quite happily as they walked out of the dungeons and headed to their next class.
“That I’d feel threatened by Snape?” Alice hazarded. “Please, give me some credit.”
Both Alice and Lily had Transfiguration next. They met Jasmine in the corridor, on her way from a free period she’d spent in the Slytherin common room.
“How was Potions?” Jasmine asked as they took their seats in the classroom and waited for Professor McGonagall.
“We were assigned partners this year,” Lily informed her, pulling out her wand.
“Yours wasn’t James, was it?” she asked with a laugh, thinking it would fit in perfectly with Professor Dumbledore naming him Head Boy; it seem the teachers were all in on some collaboration against Lily.
“It was Snape,” Alice answered for Lily.
Jasmine gave her an odd look.
“Snape? Well that’s…interesting.”
Jasmine had never got on well with Severus, despite being in the same House as him. He never seemed to forgive her for getting in with a group of Gryffindors, thinking she was denouncing her own House when she should have stuck with her own. Then there was also the fact that her best friend was Muggle-born…perhaps her crime against her House would not have been quite so serious had this not been the case.
Lily shrugged in a non-committed way.
“It worked out all right. Well, as well as could be expected, I suppose,” she said, and then quieted as Professor McGonagall walked into the classroom.
“Good morning. Now, this is your final N.E.W.T. year, and we have a lot of work to get through. These are the most important tests you will take in your entire school life, and I will expect you to put in the extra work needed to keep the high standard set by previous N.E.W.T. students. That means that I will not be tolerating any slacking or distractions during my classes,” she said, her eyes lingering on James and Sirius, who were seated at the back with Remus. “We will be continuing the work we did at the end of last year on human transfiguration.”
Most of the class gave a collective groan at this news, as almost everyone had had difficulty with this.
Professor McGonagall cast a quick glare around the class to quiet them before continuing.
“We will be moving on to transfiguring each other into animals and, eventually, inanimate object. But for today we are concentrating on just modifications to our human features. You may begin, but I want to see some real concentration. I don’t want any…mishaps,” she finished sternly.
Most of the class flicked a glance at James, who was looking deceptively innocent, listening avidly to Professor McGonagall. No doubt they were all remembering their last lesson before the end of year exams, during which James had ‘accidentally’ transfigured a girl’s chest several sizes larger than its original state had been.
“Right, who wants to volunteer to go first?” James asked Sirius and Remus sweetly, turning to them and brandishing his wand.
Sirius and Remus both had to fight hard not to laugh as every girl in the room perceptively edged towards the front of the classroom, away from James.
“Oh, all right, you can both transfigure me first,” Sirius said when neither he nor Remus had answered James for a minute or two.
All three of them had been among the handful or so who had mastered this particular aspect of Transfiguration last year, though James was by far and away the best, so Sirius knew they could fix any ‘mistakes’ that might be made anyway.
“Well, Moony, do you think we ought to start with his terrible hair?” James addressed his friend.
Remus rolled up the sleeves of his robe and took out his wand with a smile.
“Absolutely. This should go well with his eyebrows, I think,” Remus agreed, and got ready to cast the spell.
Sirius yelped and reached for his own wand - he was very touchy about his hair - but found that James was already holding it in his hand.
With a firm wave of his wand, Remus had grown Sirius’s carefully messed-up black hair into a long, blonde ponytail.
“You know, I think you’re right, Moony, it does go well. But let’s try this.”
James waved his own wand, and instantly Sirius’s eyebrows were a very bright ginger colour and twice as bushy as they normally were.
Soon Sirius was sitting resignedly as James and Remus steadily transfigured him, making his biceps and thighs ridiculously large with a very trim waist.
“Are you quite finished?” he asked, when the barrage of spells seemed to have ended and James and Remus had stopped laughing. Sirius looked silly, to say the least, as he crossed his arms.
He snatched his wand back from James and, in quick succession, transfigured James’s upper body into a more feminine form and his clothes into a frilly dress that made him look like a very disgruntled Bo Peep. For good measure, he transfigured the chair next to James into a sheep. Before he could start on Remus, however, Professor McGonagall strode over.
“Mr Black, that is not human transfiguration,” she reprimanded, managing, somehow, to keep a perfectly straight face as she glared at him.
“Sorry, Professor, it won’t happen again,” he said automatically, and gave the girls behind Professor McGonagall a roguish wink that did not carry the desired effect, as they collapsed into giggles.
“Right, it won’t. Ten points from Gryffindor, and get back to work,” she said, and returned to where she could oversee the rest of the class.
“You know, I think I ate that sheep once,” Remus observed mildly, before turning it back into a chair.
“I’m sure you have, Moony, but let’s have some more focus on me here. Never mind the sheep, I have ringlets,” James interjected in an appalled voice.
“You don’t actually look too bad,” Sirius said, with a close approximation to a mocking leer on his face.
James raised an eyebrow, unimpressed.
“Don’t even think about it, Padfoot. Imagine what our children would look like,” James replied and, as it seemed no one else was going to, transfigured himself back.
Sirius looked at him appraisingly.
“Yes, I see what you mean. You look awful.”
He then changed himself back as the bell rang.
“Well, fascinating though this lesson has been, how was Potions?” Remus asked them as they wandered back to Gryffindor tower for a free period.
“We were set partners. Evans got Snivellus,” he said shortly.
“I don’t expect it would bother her, though he might have some adjusting to do,” Remus said, the amusement clear in his voice as they reached the portrait hole.
“It’s not funny, Moony. Why should he get to work with her when I don’t?”
“Contrary to your apparent belief, the world does not revolve around you,” Remus pointed out, taking a seat in one of the armchairs by the unlit fire after greeting Peter, who was already there.
“And what exactly would I do if you had Evans as partner?” Sirius asked.
“Well, I’m sure you and Snivellus would have fun trying to kill each other,” James said dismissively.
“Oh, James,” Peter suddenly said. “Professor McGonagall was in here first period. She said to tell you that you’re to organise the Prefects into pairs to do the rounds with Lily tonight. She said you could use her classroom,” he added.
“Why didn’t she tell him that just now? We did just have Transfiguration,” Sirius pointed out.
“I imagine she was a little distracted,” Remus said logically.
“Why do I have to do that?” James interrupted, confused.
Sirius rolled his eyes.
“Because you’re Head Boy, you idiot.”
“Oh, yeah,” James said, and tried to fight the foreboding feeling that had set upon him at the thought of having to face Lily alone.
* * *
Lily made her way to Professor McGonagall’s classroom after dinner, feeling a little apprehensive. She was determined to do this as quickly as possible, though she knew she was going to have to get used to working with James.
He was already there when she walked in, which surprised her; she hadn’t expected him to be early.
“Pot – James,” Lily greeted him. After all, she couldn’t go on calling him by his surname if they were going to have to keep this up.
“Hi, Lily,” he replied, watching as she made her way over to the nearest desk, stepping through the slanting rays of sunlight that were coming in through the window as the sun made its return journey to the horizon. He couldn’t help noticing the way it caressed her hair, seeming to light her in a fiery halo. He thanked God he hadn’t said that out loud.
“I’ve made a list of all the Prefects, and paired them for the duties,” Lily began, and spread out a roll of parchment on the nearest table. “All we need to do is look it over and correct anything we think is wrong.”
James nodded. Quickly, he scanned the list, glad that she had already made a solid base for them to work on. Only one thing sprung out at him as a bad idea.
“You’ve paired a Gryffindor and a Slytherin together,” he pointed out, a little nervously.
“So?” she challenged.
He sighed. ‘Oh well. In for a Knut, in for a Galleon,’ he thought.
“Look, Lily, you might not know it, but what you have with Jasmine is pretty rare. I’m telling you now, you pair those two together and you’ll have two less Prefects to oversee. Unless that’s your intention…I’m all for a more select team, of course,” he said with a grin.
Lily couldn’t help laughing, and she was forced to concede that he was right.
“Oh, all right, so you might just have a point. Don’t make a habit of it, though,” she warned, and bent to shuffle the Prefects on her list.
James ran his eye over the new list and nodded, satisfied.
Lily smiled at him.
“Good, well that’s sorted then,” she said cheerfully, pleased to have got the job completed so quickly.
They made their way back to Gryffindor tower together and, to James’s astonishment, managed to have a normal conversation in the few minutes it took to get there. ‘It isn’t much, really, but at least it is progress,’ he told himself as he bade her goodnight, and turned to take the steps up to his dormitory.
Author's Note:Ok, there are a few things I need to address here. For those of you who have come straight to this chapter instead of reading chapter 1 first, the character Marlene has been changed a little. She is now a teacher's assistant as opposed to a seventh year, having graduated the previous year, but she's still a good friend of Lily's. She's assigned to Professor Dearborn, as he's new, who you'll see more of later. The reason for this change is due to a small clash with potential legal issues it might have brought the site (don't worry, nothing horrific is happening in this story I assure you :D). She'll be featuring a bit more in later chapters anyways.
With much thanks once again to my wonderful beta JackieJLH.
Last, but not least, leave a review to let me know how I'm doing, :-)
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