Chapter Image by Chella @TDA
Chapter One – Inner Sanctum
The last few minutes of Transfiguration dragged on, but as James glanced up at the clock, he couldn’t help but think, Just a few more minutes, please?
He knew pleading with the clock was useless. It always was. Still, he couldn’t help but wish that the class was a little longer. He desperately needed those few minutes to finish his drawing. He knew that he was never going to get another chance to draw Lily like that – her cheek resting gently on her hand, her wand tucked behind her ear. The light wouldn’t be right ever again in the way that it made her hair shine…
He would never be able to finish in time.
Trying not to get frustrated, James set to quickly drawing as much as he could with the four minutes left in the class.
It wasn’t that James didn’t like Transfiguration. No, in fact it was his favourite class, and he respected Professor McGonagall highly.
Today, however, he had already sat through three lectures about how this year was important. This year he was going to sit to take his N.E.W.Ts. This year would determine his future. All the professors seemed keenly intent on striking panic into their students. James, however, could care less. N.E.W.Ts be damned. Some stupid test was not going to determine his whole future.
No work was ever done on the first day of classes. James knew that he had missed nothing by spending Charms, Defence Against the Dark Arts, Muggle Studies and now Transfiguration drawing. By now the professors all knew he spent most of class drawing instead of taking notes – he had never denied it when caught. And, to Professor Bone, the new Defence Against the Dark Arts professor, James Potter was clearly a diligent student who took a lot of notes.
The bell rang.
, thought James as Lily stood up and began to pack her bag. He continued to watch as she left the classroom laughing with Emmeline Vance and Marlene McKinnon about something James would never know. Reluctantly, he began to put away his sketchbook and pencil.
“Come on, Prongs,” said Sirius. He’d been ready to leave class for the past quarter of an hour. Remus stood beside him, his hands stained with ink from note taking.
“Wait a moment.” James slid his textbook into his satchel and stood up, pushing the chair in behind him.
The three of them made their way to the door.
“I’m starting to think Wormtail was right to drop Transfiguration,” muttered Sirius as they left the classroom. “The Transfiguration N.E.W.T. is going to be-“
“Nastily exhausting?” suggested Remus.
James nodded absentmindedly.
“You’ll have no problem, Prongs, though,” added Sirius.
Sirius hit the top of James’s head with his textbook.
“Hey! What was that for?” asked James indignantly.
“Sirius,” began Remus, sighing.
Sirius rolled his eyes. “Sorry, Prongs. It was for your own good.” They climbed the stairs to the tower. “You were thinking about Lily too much.”
James glared at Sirius.
“Did you finish your picture?” asked Remus, breaking the tension. “From what I saw it was quite good.”
Shaking his head, James replied, “Not enough time.”
“That’s a shame,” murmured Remus. “Do you think you could finish it without her?”
“It wouldn’t work.”
“Oh, well,” sighed Sirius. “Guess it’s going to be another one of your unfinished masterpieces.”
Nodding, James said, “Yeah. It’ll be entitled, ‘Lily Evans, number 3999, unfinished.’” James laughed.
They arrived at the portrait of the Fat Lady. Apathetically, James said, “Goblin’s Foot.”
She nodded and swung open, revealing the Gryffindor common room.
“Ah… Home sweet home,” murmured Sirius, throwing his textbook on a side table. He sunk into the sofa closest to the fire, in front of which Peter sat.
“How was Care of Magical Creatures, Wormtail?” Remus asked as he sat opposite Sirius.
“Yeah, has Professor Kettleburn lost any other limbs?” asked James.
“Three fingers,” reported Peter. “Apparently Mooncalves are very particular about their nicknames. I’d have to say if I was particular about nicknames, you’d all have lost a finger or two long ago.”
Even Remus had to laugh at this.
James took out his sketchbook. He turned to a new blank page and began to sketch his laughing friends. Sirius, his head bent back. Remus, his eyes lit up as he smiled. Peter even had that sheepishly proud expression at having made his friends laugh.
By the time James looked up from his rough sketch, Sirius, Remus and Peter had all stopped laughing, and were instead focused on James.
“Let’s see,” said Sirius, taking the sketchbook from James’s hands. After looking at it critically for a moment he nodded and passed it on to Remus.
Remus only glanced at it before saying, “It’s not finished.”
“Of course it’s not. It was only a sketch –“ began James.
“It’s missing Prongs,” said Remus as he handed back the sketchbook.
“Oh, Moony,” sighed James. “You know I hate drawing myself.”
“You can’t have three Marauders. You need all four!” declared Peter.
“Fine, if it makes you happy.” With a few strokes James drew a cartoonish head with glasses and messy hair. “There. That’s me.”
“That’s great, James,” said Remus.
“Your head looks more like a balloon,” observed Peter.
“That’d make Snivellus happy… What’s that he always says I have… an inflated ego?” James started to laugh.
Beginning to laugh his bark-like laugh, Sirius said, “I guess he’s right, then, mate.”
Suddenly, James stopped laughing and threw his sketchbook at Sirius’ head.
This was her spot – her private paradise. Since she had accidentally stumbled upon it in first year, lost in the maze of the castle, Lily had loved this room. It was not a great exception by any means. There was nothing to recommend it as Lily’s favourite spot in the whole castle. It was just an abandoned classroom with desks long since vacated and bookshelves filled with cobwebs. There had to have been three dozen or more just like it in Hogwarts, but this was Lily’s
It was ideal. Few people wandered down these corridors, so she was unlikely to be disturbed or discovered. There was no reason anyone would come within earshot. It was just the right size, so that she could get the best acoustics she could hope for in an empty classroom. In short, it was the perfect place to practice her violin.
Few people knew she came here, and even fewer people had been inside her inner sanctum while she played her violin. Of course, she had given her friends an occasional performance in their dorm room or their compartment on the Hogwarts Express, but she wouldn’t dare let them in here. This place was sacred.
She shut the classroom door and approached the chair she had placed on the professor’s teaching platform seven years ago. She frowned slightly as she remembered that it had been Severus who had helped her levitate the heavy professor’s desk – lectern and all – off the stage.
Never mind that.
She unsnapped the clasps on the violin case. There it was. It gleamed in the golden evening light. Gently as if it were a newborn, she picked up her violin and cradled it on her shoulder. Her fingers curled around the neck, gently brushing the strings. Holding her bow, still white with resin from the last time she practiced, she began to play.
Severus stared across the Great Hall to the Gryffindor table where Lily sat with her friends. He watched her every move, marveling at how she took a sip of pumpkin juice from her goblet or how she turned her head slightly to talk to Mary Macdonald, a smile lighting up her beautiful green eyes.
That should have been me. She used to smile like that at me,
Severus thought bitterly. He glared at the two girls sitting beside Lily. Mary Macdonald and Marlene McKinnon had never approved of Lily’s friendship with him. They had always looked down on him, not for being poor or from the wrong side of town the way that Petunia Evans did, but for being a Slytherin. He couldn’t decide which was worse.
”Why do you hang out with them?” Severus had asked Lily in the library. They were in third year, still best friends.
“They’re my House mates, Sev. Why wouldn’t I hang out with them?”
“I don’t like them,” he said softly, leaning across the desk. “And they don’t like me.”
Lily arched an eyebrow. “What about the people in your House, Sev? Can’t the same thing be said about them?”
“That’s completely different. I can’t stand Avery. Mulciber is an idiot. And Rosier… I’d hardly call him a friend,” hissed Severus.
“Lily, they hate me. Your ‘friends,’” he practically spat the word, “despise me just because I’m in Slytherin… Yesterday… Oh Lily, you have should of heard them when I came to the Gryffindor Tower.” He adopted a high-pitched voice barely recognisable as Marlene’s. “’What do you want with Lily? You’re just going to hurt her.’” He dropped his imitation. “And do you know what they called me? Do you?” He was now nearly nose-to-nose with Lily. “They called me a Death Eater and said that I wasn’t wanted. They told me to leave you alone. Lily, how can you call those people friends?”
“They’re only looking out for me.”
“I’m your best friend, Lily. Why don’t you tell them that?”
“I’ve told them you’re not like…” she paused before continuing, “the other Slytherins. But you have to admit, Sev, you’re not helping anyone’s impression of you when you call Mary a Mudblood.”
“Look,” said Lily, massaging her temples, “I don’t want to talk about this. We’re friends, but they are also my friends. Let’s drop the subject now.”
“Sev, please.” She looked up at him, emerald eyes shining too brightly. Severus had to look away. It pained him too much to see her on the verge of tears.
Unclenching his fist, Severus let out his breath as he watched Professor McGonagall approach James Potter. He couldn’t help but smirk. Just one day into term and already Potter’s in trouble. Some Head Boy.
He watched intently as James stood up. The conversation lasted less than a minute before James nodded and sat back down.
Severus couldn’t help but feel confused.
Professor McGonagall left James and proceeded down the Gryffindor table to where Lily was sitting with her friends, talking animatedly. Once again, the two exchanged brief words and then McGonagall left, this time returning to the staff table.
This would not be the time that Potter would be expelled, Severus realised. Disappointed, he turned his attention to his barely touched supper.
Lily had only been to the Headmaster’s office a few times before. That had been when she’d been reporting to Dumbledore her account of events when the Marauders’ pranks had gotten out of control. But this was her first visit to Dumbledore’s office in a couple of years. As Head Girl, she suspected it wouldn’t be the last. By the end of the year, she would likely have become a frequent visitor.
“Pixie Puffs,” she said to the grim-faced gargoyle who guarded the entrance to the Headmaster’s office. Leaping aside, he revealed the escalator-like spiral staircase. She stepped on and let the stairs carry her to the heavy oak door. Once on the landing, Lily raised the griffin brass knocker and rapped firmly on the door.
“Come in, Miss Evans,” said the soft, familiar voice of the Headmaster of Hogwarts.
She opened the door and slipped into the circular room. “Hello, Professor,” she said.
“Please come and sit down,” he said from his desk, gesturing to one of two chairs before him. “We are waiting for Mr. Potter.”
So James was late. Lily wasn’t surprised.
As she walked across the room, she admired the delicate silver objects. Those instruments, so vague in purpose, had always interested her. Every time she came up here, Lily always couldn’t help but stare at them in wonder. Such fine work. So exquisite. They had to be ancient, but they gleamed like new in the candlelight.
She looked up at Dumbledore.
“That astrolabe was made by goblins four hundred years ago,” explained Dumbledore. “All these instruments were made by goblins. They are fine silversmiths.”
Lily took her seat. “I had no idea. I thought they worked for Gringotts.”
“Ah Miss Evans.” Professor Dumbledore laced his fingers together and smiled. “The magic of the goblins would not be satisfied by simply being bankers. There is much to be learned from them.”
There was a knock on the door.
“That would be Mr. Potter,” observed Dumbledore. “Come in.”
James had barely opened the door before he said, “Sorry, I’m late.”
“It is no matter. I was discussing goblins with Miss Evans. Do sit down.” Once James had taken his seat beside Lily, Dumbledore began. “I usually meet with my Head Boy and Girl within the first few days of the term. And since the two of you are Head Boy and Girl…” He smiled at the two of them, his blue eyes twinkling behind his half moon spectacles. “I do believe congratulations are in order. You must have been surprised,” continued Dumbledore, “since neither of you were prefects.”
“Definitely,” said James.
“But I felt that the both of you deserved this honour and were well up to the challenge.”
Blushing slightly, Lily lowered her head. “Thank you, Professor.”
“Oh don’t thank me. I had little to do with making you the outstanding witch I see before me now. You have more than earned Head Girl. Every professor at Hogwarts agreed with my nomination… Professor Slughorn was especially enthusiastic.”
“And you, Mr. Potter.” Dumbledore chuckled. “I would have never have guessed the first time I found you in my office your first year at Hogwarts, for setting fire in the walking suit of armour that you would become our Head Boy.”
“That was a good one,” sighed James. Quickly, “Not that I’d…” He looked from Professor Dumbledore to Lily. “I’ve changed.”
“Not too much,” scoffed Lily.
James wanted to retort, but Dumbledore interrupted him.
“You have shown yourself to be much more than a prankster. A top student, Gryffindor Quidditch team captain for two years winning two Quidditch cups… You have even saved a student’s life.”
Severus would not appreciate that in the least
, thought Lily.
“Who else would be Head Boy?” Three Butterbeers appeared out of nowhere, one hovering in front of each occupant of the room. Dumbledore took his mug of Butterbeer and raised it. “A toast to the two of you and your achievements.”
James and Lily accepted their mugs of Butterbeer and clinked them with Dumbledore.
After taking a sip of Butterbeer, Dumbledore said, “I trust that you have not found the job too difficult the past two days.”
After quickly swallowing, James said, “Not really. Remus has filled me in on the details.”
“I am sad to say that that will not continue to be the case.” Dumbledore sighed. “Dark days are ahead. I’m afraid that I will have to ask more of you than is usually expected of our Head Boy and Girl.” He frowned slightly. “I’m sure you are well aware of the threat posed by Lord Voldemort to the school.”
“Is he going to attack the school?” asked James.
“No. I don’t believe he would dare to. Not while I am Headmaster of Hogwarts.”
“Then what threat—“
“It’s his followers Hogwarts has to worry about,” whispered Lily. That day by the lake.
“Mudblood is already too common a word.” The word had cut her to the quick. A stab through the heart.
“You mean there will be more attacks on people based on their blood.”
Dumbledore nodded. “I’m afraid so.” He looked from James to Lily. “I need you to keep watch on the students. Notice when something is not right. Come straight to me. I do not want you –“ Lily held Dumbledore’s gaze steadily - “to put yourselves in harm’s way. Voldemort’s followers will not hesitate to use Dark Magic.”
Her heart thumped loudly in her ears. Nodding, she said, “I know.”
“I know that I am asking you to act with the maturity of wizards twice your age, but… You must be made aware of the situation we are facing. The wizarding world is under attack, and Hogwarts is not immune. I do not mean to frighten you, but I cannot shelter you. I do not believe that by pretending that this threat is not present, I can protect you.”
Weakly, Lily smiled. “It’s a good thing you’r Head Boy and Girl are from Gryffindor then.”
James barely listened to Dumbledore as he began to move to more mundane topics. Instead, he watched Lily.
Voldemort’s rise to power, which had started before James even arrived at Hogwarts, seemed to have accelerated within the past year. The disappearances were increasing, if the papers were any measure, and attacks on Muggleborns, Muggles and so-called blood traitors had become much more common. Everyone was afraid.
James was afraid, not for himself, but for Lily.
Was she scared? Was she afraid that she would be the target of some Death-Eater-in-training’s attack? Would someone try to harm her?
thought James, I will not allow that to happen. I will not let Lily be hurt by a Death Eater. Never.
Lost in thought, James said a half-hearted good night to Dumbledore when he bid the two farewell. He was vaguely aware of standing up and making his way to the polished oak door after Lily. As the stairs descended and they passed by the gargoyle, James tried to think of a way to tell Lily that he would be there for her.
He wanted to take her hand, look straight into her beautiful green eyes and say, ”I’m here for you, Lily. I’ll protect you. Nobody will call you a Mudblood ever again. No one will even dare to harm you or think any less of you because of your birth – not while I’m here.”
She would start to cry, thanking him. He would hold her, and stroke her hair, whispering, ”It’ll be alright, Lily. I’m here.”
She would tighten her hold, gripping onto him. He would support her. She would look up into his eyes, her eyes shining wet with tears. He would brush them away, lean in close to her and –
“Did you even pay attention?”
Fantasy shattered, James could only manage a sluggish, “Huh?” as reality returned.
Lily was walking quickly, her arms crossed. She had a frown on her face. “Did you listen to Dumbledore?”
“Uh… well… a bit…” stammered James. “But, I…”
“I can’t believe you!”
James stopped walking. “Lily.”
Turning to face him, she snapped, “What?”
The way her hair fanned out as she turned made James’s voice catch in his throat. His heart beat a fast tattoo. “I don’t want you to get hurt.” His face flushed crimson.
She raised an eyebrow.
“What Dumbledore said… I want to help--“
“In case you haven’t noticed, but I’ve been called Mudblood before. My friends have been attacked, and I’ve had to block many curses. I’ve never needed your help before. Trust me, this year won’t break me,” she snapped. “I can take care of myself, Potter.”
If she had slapped him, it wouldn’t have stunned him more. He blinked, astonished by her tone.
She started to walk away.
“Lily! I didn’t mean it like that! I just wanted to say—“
She didn’t turn back.
“I’m sorry!” He sighed in frustration.
She stopped. He heard her take a deep breath and let it out in a long sigh.
He hurried to catch up with her. “It came out wrong… What I wanted to say is—“
Turning around, she said, “I know.” She stared at the ground.
Relieved that she was no longer mad at him, he reached out and touched her shoulder.
At his touch, she glanced up, meeting his gaze.
Those beautiful green eyes. Never look away, Lily,
“Promise me,” she began.
“Anything.” This was it.
“Don’t assume that every Slytherin is a Death Eater.”
His heart sank. Her words knocked the wind out of him.
Ignoring the devastation in James’s expression, Lily continued, her words urgent, pleading, “Please, don’t bring someone to Dumbledore unless there’s real proof. Not just because they’re a Slytherin or because you don’t like someone… This is too serious…”
“I know,” managed James.
“Especially Se—Snape.” Lily lowered her eyes.
”Only if he behaves himself,”
was on the tip of his tongue. He opened his mouth, but then shut it. This year was supposed to be different. This year would be the year that… that Lily stopped thinking he was a jerk.
James shook his head. “I promise you, Lily Evans, I will not let my… opinions get in the way.”
“Oh.” She couldn’t help but show her surprise. She had not expected him to agree. She took a step back. Could James Potter really have just agreed to not causing Severus grief? “Thank you,” she said quickly. She stared at him.
He couldn’t be serious. He was just tricking her. That had to be it. The James Potter she knew would not give up an opportunity like this.
Lily was at a loss for words. They walked the rest of the way up to the Gryffindor Tower in silence. She could scarcely believe that this person beside her was James Potter. But, whenever she looked at him, there he was, not just a figment of her imagination. He didn’t look Confunded. And they had been at Dumbledore’s office for more than an hour, so that ruled out Polyjuice Potion. This had to be the real James… which meant that… No,
thought Lily. That’s impossible.
“Goblin’s foot,” said James when they reached the Fat Lady.
“You’re out past curfew,” the Fat Lady said. “Head Boy and Girl breaking the rules.”
“We were talking with Professor Dumbledore,” said James. “The meeting ran a little late.”
“He should know better.”
“Spare us the lecture. Just let us in,” sighed James.
The portrait swung open, revealing the Gryffindor common room.
“I’ll see you tomorrow,” said James.
Lily just nodded and watched as he rejoined the Marauders in their customary camp by the fire. James Potter, you will never cease to amaze me.
So here is the first full chapter of James’s Sketchbook
. Thank you for reading. I hope you’ve enjoyed it. Please leave a review to let me know what you think or what I should work on.
I’m sorry if this chapter was a little dark. Most of the chapters won’t be quite so dark, but that’s just how this chapter turned out.
Hope you stick around for the next chapter.
A big thanks to my beta Danii!