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Chapter 7 : Apparition
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It was nearing the end of February, and Lily, along with the majority of the other sixth years, was headed to her first ever apparition class. She was more excited than nervous as she loved trying new things.
“What do you think it’ll be like?” Alice questioned her nervously, as the five Gryffindor girls walked down to the great hall. “Someone told me it feels like you can’t breathe – like you’re being squeezed into a thin tube and…”
“Shut up Alice.” Elizabeth snapped at her. “You know you’ll be brave when it comes down to it, so stop scarring the rest of us – I feel sick already.” She did look sick too, Lily thought, as her usually olive skin had gone very pale. Her friends could guess at the reason – Elizabeth was claustrophobic, and so Alice’s description of apparition could be doing nothing to ease her nerves. Mary, in contrast to Elizabeth, was not at all fazed.
“It’s just a sit off really though, isn’t it?” she said happily. “All we have to do is jump in and out of some hoops, we get to miss lessons and voila, at the end we can materialise wherever we want, like that!” she clicked her fingers. “I don’t see a down-side personally.”
Lily and Rachel laughed at this, but the others still looked apprehensive.
They reached the entrance hall, where a large group of students were huddled at the door to the great hall. Lily and the others joined them, and found themselves standing behind the marauders, who were messing about changing the colour of each others’ hair – something they had learned in a previous lesson that day. Remus, whose hair was purple but otherwise was not much involved, spotted the girls first, and turned round to say hi.
“Hello,” he said, in his warm, reassuring voice. He addressed Lily first, as he knew her best, as his partner in defence against the dark arts. “You nervous?”
“Not really – Beth is though, so we won’t laugh at you, if you are.”
Elizabeth blushed, something that she rarely did.
“Thanks Lil,” she said, with sarcasm.
“I am a bit nervous, yes” said Lupin, smiling at Elizabeth, whose blush increased. “But I doubt we’ll be doing much apparating today anyway. Apparently the first class is usually pretty boring, it gets a bit more interesting when some people can get it right.”
Lily laughed, causing both Sirius and James to turn around.
“Who says no-one’ll be able to apparate right?” James demanded indignantly. “I know I will, not first time, but first class definitely. We both will, won’t we Padfoot?”
Sirius nodded vigorously.
“We’ve got the power.” He announced, with a straight face. Lily laughed – for some reason their big headed-ness didn’t bother her in the way it used to. It seemed quite endearing. James seemed startled by her reaction, and his puppy-like hazel eyes found hers hopefully. She looked back with a half smile, but soon turned her face away to talk to Lupin again.
“Well, us mere mortals probably won’t manage it this class anyway, will we?” she asked him, with a playful glance back at Sirius and James.
“You never know,” Mary corrected her, “I might have a secret talent for apparating.”
“You might.” James told her, as if he was really considering it. Mary laughed at him but Lily smiled instead – he was being quite sweet.
Suddenly, the doors to the great hall flew open to reveal a tiny, white haired man, who pronounced himself to be Wilkie Twycross, their apparition instructor. He led the students into the hall to begin the lesson, in which they were to attempt to apparate into wooden hoops laid out on the floor. Of course, James and Sirius did manage it successfully within the first half of the lesson, but this was obviously unusual as Twycross appeared shocked and delighted by this achievement. He informed the rest of the class, in his high-pitched squeak,
“You mustn’t be disheartened – what these two very gifted students have achieved, is the exception, not the rule!”
Sirius and James had grinned at each other, looking very pleased with themselves, while Lily rolled her eyes. Secretly though, she wasn’t too annoyed, as she supposed they did deserve the praise. Everyone else in the class was struggling, including Lily herself. She was usually quick to learn, and found it easy to concentrate on a task at hand, but today something was distracting her. Sirius Black, (and James) were in the row in front of her, and Sirius smelt unusually good. He must have bought a new kind of after-shave or something, because the smell coming off him was intoxicating. Every time he span on his heel and apparated into the hoop in front of him, a new wave of his scent hit Lily and knocked her concentration even further.
‘Destination, Determination, Deliberation.’ She thought, trying to block out the sound of Sirius’s careless laughter as he apparated for the fourth time. ‘Destination, Determination, Deliberation.’ And she span on her heel, her eyes still squeezed tightly shut.
Suddenly she was aware of a sensation similar to what Alice had described earlier – it was as if an enormous elastic band was tightening around her chest. For a split second she couldn’t breathe, and then the feeling left her. She felt relieved, but wasn’t yet ready to open her eyes. She heard giggling from around the hall, and took a slight step backwards to steady herself, before she looked to see what foolish place she had apparated to – foolish enough to provoke laughter. As she stepped back she felt a pair of hands grab her by the shoulders, to steady her. Her eyes snapped open as she recognized the scent emanating from the body that was so close to hers.
“Hello Evans!” came the deep and amused voice of Sirius Black, from over her shoulder. Lily blushed redder than her hair as the other students in the hall burst into fresh laughter at the sight of her pressed up against Sirius inside one of the wooden apparating hoops.
“Get off me Black,” she almost shouted, shrugging his hands off her shoulders and spinning out of his grasp. She tripped backwards over the hoop and fell into the arms of James Potter, who happened to be the closest person to her. Could this get any more embarrassing? She thought to herself, even as she enjoyed the feel of James’s arms around her.
“Are you okay?” he asked, smiling down at her. He was trying to look concerned but there was laughter in his eyes.
“Fine, Fine,” Lily said, extracting herself from him also. “Merlin that was embarrassing.” She rolled her eyes at her own stupidity. Sirius, James and Mary, who was stood beside Lily, laughed.
“At least you apparated though,” Mary applauded her. “Further than anyone else this lesson, I might add.”
“A challenge!” Sirius exclaimed, with a sideways wink at Lily. James rubbed his hands together.
“Right,” he said. “Lets see who can apparate the furthest. You girls just watch me beat Padfoot to that hoop over there.” He pointed to an empty hoop right over on the far side of the hall.
“No way mate.” Sirius said. “Apparating is easier for me, scientifically. I’m more streamlined - and better at magic obviously.”
Mary looked the two boys up and down (as did Lily, but less noticably.)Sirius was slimmer, less bulky than James, who had a broad shouldered, chaser’s build.
“Meh,” Mary decided with a shrug. “There’s not much in it.”
“What makes you think you two can even apparate that far?” she asked, with a playful edge to her voice. “So far you’ve only managed a few inches.”
“That’s more than I’m ever going to manage.” Alice muttered flustratedly, from Lily’s other side. Lily looked around the room. Most people were just spinning aimlessly on the spot, getting nowhere, and a few had given up already. The instructor was walking between the rows of hoops, giving advice, but it didn’t seem to be doing much good. However Lily was pleased to see Lupin helping Elizabeth. She could hear him telling her that it was nothing to worry about, being nice. Lily had her suspicions about Beth and Remus, and if she was right, then her friend could have no objection to Lupin’s comforting hand resting on her arm, the way it was at the moment.
“Right then Evans,” Sirius called her attention back to their conversation. “Do you want to see me and Prongs prove you wrong, or what?” He grinned at her and she felt the heat levels rise in the room – that smile still effected her.
“I don’t think I’m going to be seeing anything to be honest,” she said dismissively, “but try away.”
“Only for you, my lady.” James bowed to her jokingly, but as his head came up again, his eyes met hers and their expression was happy, and hopeful. Lily gathered that this could only be because of her behaviour around him and Sirius in the past hour, which was more friendly than usual. What James was unaware of however, was that it was Sirius that had provoked this change - It was due to no new-found interest in James himself. Lily felt a guilty blush creep up her face, and prayed that James wouldn’t misinterpret that too.
“Right,” said James, suddenly business-like. “Old Twycross is coming over, we better be quick. After three Padfoot?”
“First one there’s the winner?” Sirius replied. Some other faces were turning to watch now, as they realised that two of the marauders were planning something.
“One.” Whispered James and Sirius together, “Two…..THREE!” and they span on their heels, disappearing from sight. Well, most of them did. James’s left leg, and Sirius’s right arm lay on the floor where the boys had disappeared. A few of the girls screamed.
“We did it!” James crowed from the faraway hoop – even while he hopped on one leg. “High five!” he requested of Sirius, who was in no position to high five anyone.
“Ow.” Said Sirius, as he rotated his shoulder, examining the stump where his arm should have been.
The rest of the lesson seemed to be taken up with fuss over Sirius and James, who Twycross put back together easily, using a spell which sent a blast of purple smoke into the air. However, he also insisted that they both go up to the hospital wing, just so that Madame Pomfrey could check them over. The marauders submitted to all the fuss good-naturedly, still triumphant that they had managed to apparate so far in their very first class.
As the rest of the students filed out of the hall at the end of an eventful hour, Rachel Marquis tapped Lily on the shoulder.
“Lily, Snape’s looking at you – I think he want’s to talk.”
Lily was startled. She hadn’t spoken to Severus in months, partly because of the company he kept, and partly because him being in Slytherin, and her being in Gryffindor gave them little chance to mix anyway. At least that was what she told herself – it was more difficult to be around him nowadays. She turned to look at him, and sure enough, he was beckoning to her with his eyes.
“I’ll go see what he wants.” She told Rachel.
Lily hung back, to let the rest of the students pass in front of her. Severus’s friends had also gone ahead, and he and Lily were soon stood beside each other, while everyone else led off towards different parts of the castle. The pair left the great hall, and Severus led Lily towards an alcove, just off the entrance.
“What’s this about Sev?” Lily asked, trying to sound brisk and irritated. She didn’t do a very good job however, as the sight of his pained expression softened her feelings towards him. She knew she had been angry with him last time they had spoken, but it seemed insignificant now. As she looked into his sad, dark eyes, she realised that she had missed him.
“Don’t worry, I won’t keep you long.” He replied, scornfully. He swept back a curtain of his greasy hair and attempted to sneer at her. She could tell he didn’t mean it however. His lip trembled slightly.
“I’m sorry Sev, I didn’t mean to sound so snotty. Are you alright? I haven’t spoken to you in a while.”
“No.” He said. “And I’m perfectly fine thank you. I was asked to speak to you, by a friend.”
“Oh yes?” Lily was on her guard. Most of Severus’s friends were not nice people – what did they want with her?
“It was Regulus Black.” He said, and his expression hardened.
“Yes, his brother.” said Snape, almost spitting the words in his distaste.
“What about him?”
“Regulus is… a year younger than us, he’ll be sixteen soon. His family…. Are making it difficult for him at the moment, he’s having a hard time with them. They’re putting pressure on him to - well that doesn’t matter, but the thing is, he could do with some moral support at home.”
“I’m getting to the point, Lily.” Snape cut her off. She was surprised by how much nicer his tone of voice sounded, when he said her name. “Regulus wanted me to ask you to persuade his brother…” here he grimaced, “To come back home.”
Lily’s eyes widened. She felt a stab of pity for Sirius’s little brother, but she also felt curious.
“But Sev, why is he asking me? I’ve never even spoken to him before.”
“But you have spoken to his brother. Regulus tells me he’s seen you with him – that you are friends now.” The anger in his voice was evident, and his eyes flashed.
“Well, yes, we are friends, sort of.” Lily muttered, not meeting Severus’s eyes. “But I don’t know him that well.”
“I think Regulus’s reasoning is that as you and I were friends – once – then you must be sympathetic to Slytherins in general. Stupid really, but that’s what he thinks. He says that you’re the only Gryffindor he can think of, who might try and persuade Black, on his behalf.”
Severus looked at her, his mouth set in a straight line, his hooked nose lifted into the air slightly. He waited for her reply, the expression in his eyes unscrutable.
“Well, I’ll try then, I suppose. Tell him I’ll have a go, but obviously I can’t guarentee anything. I barely know Sirius, after all.”
“Yes. Thank you.” Snape replied, turning to go.
“Sev?” Lily called him back. He turned to look at her, one eyebrow slightly raised. “You said we were friends – we still are aren’t we?”
Stony silence greeted her words. She continued
“ I know we don’t talk anymore, but…”
“I was under the impression, that you didn’t want to be around me anymore?” Snape’s voice was cold.
“I don’t like your friends. I still like you.” She tried to smile. “You don’t like some of my friends….”
Severus’s expression, which had softened when she had said she liked him, turned stormy in a second.
“No.” he said with a sneer, “I don’t like some of your friends.” And he turned and left her. She knew he was thinking of Sirius. She sighed.
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