Chapter 1 : Chapter One
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Remus Lupin stood aside, gesturing for Lily to go in first. "After you," he told her in a jokey tone. Lily giggled and climbed into the room, attempting to be graceful about it. A quick scan of the area showed that it was fairly quiet, which wasn't surprising since it was past nine-thirty and anyone younger than fourth year was expected to be in their dormitory by this time. Lily's face brightened upon spotting her friend, Mary, sitting near the fire. The good seats right in front of the fire were, of course, taken up by the seventh years, but Mary, being a prefect, had enough status to get the second best place in the room (as long as the Quidditch team weren't around). She had a book open in her lap and was twirling a quill between her fingers absently as she read. Peter Pettigrew was sitting in the armchair next to her, bent low over a textbook Lily knew to be the sixth years' Tranfiguration volume. Lily supressed a shudder, knowing she would be doing the same in a few minutes.
"You're back early," Mary commented as Lily and Remus joined them.
"Katharine and David said they'd finish our patrols for us," Lily told her, feeling a swell a gratitude towards the two seventh year Gryffindor prefects. "They heard us talking about the test tomorrow and they must have felt sorry for us."
"That was good of them," said Mary. "Now you can help Peter. I've been trying but I really don't understand half of the stuff in your textbook. OWL level Transfiguration is so much easier!"
Lily sat down next to Mary and Summoned her school bag from where she had left it earlier, under a table. She glanced up at Remus, who was standing over Peter and pointing something out in the textbook.
"Are you going to study with us?" she said expectantly, but Remus shook his head.
"I think I've done enough revision. I'm going to have an early night. See you tomorrow."
Lily shook her head in slight disbelief as her fellow prefect headed towards the dormitories. How on earth did Remus stay so calm before every test? He always seemed to have the work done ahead of schedule and never panicked. She hated to admit it, but Lily was jealous. No matter how much she planned ahead, she was never quite as organised as she wanted to be and many nights had been spent hiding under the covers reading a textbook in the wandlight. Her dorm mates probably hated her for it.
"All right, Peter, what bit are you stuck at?" she asked, sitting up straight and trying to get into a studious frame of mind. With any luck, Peter would be revising the same chapters that she needed to look over, herself. Unfortunately, it was soon clear that he was still looking at the earlier chapters which Lily had already covered, and she began to feel frustrated at having to waste time going over material she already knew. She was relieved when he finally seemed to make sense of it and she could turn to her own revision. Five minutes into her reading, Mary slammed her Charms textbook shut loudly and sighed.
"I have to go to bed now. You know, it's really unfair that fifth years have an earlier bedtime than you lot. I'm a prefect! I should be allowed to stay up later," she complained, chucking her homework into her bag forcefully.
Lily smiled sympathetically. Ten o'clock was a rather early bedtime for the fifth years.
"I heard they're thinking about getting rid of the bedtimes," said Peter, glancing up from his notes.
"Seriously?" Mary asked, her eyebrows raised hopefully.
"Yeah, I heard the Head Boy and Girl talking about it in the corridor the other day. It sounds like there's just going to be a curfew for being out of the common room, but once you're in here you can stay up as late as you want. I think a lot of people have complained about being kept awake by their dorm mates."
Lily bit her lip guiltily.
"Great!" Mary stood up and yawned as she lifted her heavy bag onto her shoulder. "Night, you two."
Lily raised a hand limply in reply and sank back into the comfortable seat to continue reading. Over the next twenty minutes or so, the common room cleared until she and Peter were the last ones still up. Lily glanced around and narrowed her eyes.
"It's been very quiet in here this evening. Where have James and Sirius been all this time?"
Peter shrugged and his eyes moved towards the ceiling. "Upstairs, I think."
"Upstairs? Doing what?" Lily asked sharply.
Peter shrugged again. Lily studied his face to see if he looked guilty, like he was hiding the truth, but his expression remained neutral. "Studying, I suppose."
Lily puffed air through her lips, not believing that theory for a second. She decided not to comment on it, though. A few minutes later, Peter got up to leave as well, and she was alone in the common room. She considered moving to the good seat beside the fire, now that it was free, but there was less than ten minutes until she had to be in her dormitory and it just didn't seem to be worth it. She flipped through the pages and wondered if she could get through the last eight pages of the current chapter before bedtime. It didn't seem very likely, but she really didn't fancy finishing her revision in her dormitory after hearing that people had been complaining about that kind of thing.
Seven minutes to go. Six pages left to read. Lily shifted position on the sofa, curling her legs underneath her. She couldn't quite get comfortable and every time she managed to focus on what she was reading, a little voice inside her head would tell her to look at her watch.
Six minutes to go. Five pages left to read. Something in the textbook contradicted a rule Lily was sure she had heard the Professor mention in class. She pulled her bag towards her and leafed through the neat bundles of hand-written notes for each class.
Five minutes to go. She had been wrong and the textbook had been right: obviously. Lily smiled to herself as she tucked the notes away and settled herself back to read the rest of the chapter in record time. Only before she could even find the place she had left off, she heard somone coming down the stairs from one of the dormitories. She glanced around – she couldn't help herself – and saw that James Potter had appeared in the common room. She watched over the back of the sofa as he strode across the room, wondering just where he thought he was going this close to bedtime. He didn't seem to have noticed her yet. He also seemed to have something bulky in one of the pockets of his robes. It looked like he had a jumper or something stuffed in there. Lily frowned.
"Where are you going? Bedtime's in five minutes," she challenged the boy. James jumped as soon as she spoke and stopped in his tracks.
"Kitchens," he replied quickly. So quickly, in fact, that Lily actually believed him. No one could think up a lie that fast, could they?
"You'll never make it down there and back in five minutes," Lily pointed out.
James looked at her evenly for a few seconds, as though he was trying to work her out. "I know a shortcut."
Lily shook her head. "Come on, do you think I'm an idiot? No shortcut can take you down eight flights of stairs and back in five minutes."
James continued to look calm and collected for another moment and then his face broke into a pleading expression. "Aw, please, Lily, just let me go this one time without reporting me. I swear I'm only going to the kitchens to get a sandwich and then I'll come straight back. I'll be twenty minutes, tops."
Lily frowned slightly and considered it. James must have known she was thinking of backing down because he began to look more confident again.
"Come on...you know if you're going to report me then you'll have to wait up until I get back, and I'm sure you want to get to bed," he pointed out with a hopeful grin.
He had a real point there. Git, Lily thought. Rolling her eyes, she lifted the textbook up to eyeline, blocking James from her view. "You weren't here. I never saw you," she muttered.
"Cheers!" James called brightly as he resumed his path to the door, breaking into a slight jog as though he wanted to get out of there before she changed her mind. She shook her head slightly and suppressed a smile as she peered over the top of the book at him. As he climbed over the threshold, she spotted what looked like a bundle of parchment in his other pocket. Wonders would never cease. James was actually off somewhere to study?