Chapter 7 : Patronuses and Nicknames
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There was a note attached, and James read it aloud for Remus, Sirius, and Peter to hear:
Your mother and I are very proud of your winning the match for your team. As a congratulations gift, I have sent you something that has been passed down in our family for generations. Do not open it at the table. I hope that you use it well. I think you will find it very useful in your future.
“Lets go up to the common room and open it now!” Sirius said excitedly.
“But we have to go to Transfiguration,” Remus reminded him, and Sirius sat back sullenly.
“I’ll keep it in my bag, and we can open it at lunch,” James offered. They all nodded, and then headed to Transfiguration, where Peter managed to turn the beetle they were supposed to be turning into a button instead into a grape. He was told off severely by Professor McGonagall after he’d then managed to crush the grape with his elbow.
Next they had Charms, where they were learning tickling charms, and they all walked out laughing hysterically. Once the spell had worn off them all, they ran up to the common room and James ripped off the brown packaging paper, and something very silvery and flowy slithered onto the ground.
“What is it?” Peter asked cautiously as James scooped it off the floor and held it up.
“Some kind of traveling cloak, I think,” he responded.
“Try it on, then,” Sirius urged, and James slipped it on. They all gasped.
“What?” James asked, and then looked down at his body... that wasn’t there. “Gah!” he shouted, throwing the cloak off of himself. “What is it?”
“It’s an invisibility cloak, mate!” Remus said excitedly. “They’re really rare, and good ones are hard to come by.”
James hesitantly put it back on, this time covering his head, too.
“Can you see me?” he asked, and Sirius snorted.
“Yeah, mate, we can see you. After all, it’s not a cloak of invisibility or anything,” Sirius replied sarcastically.
“I wanted to know if it works,” James huffed, suddenly reappearing as he took the cloak off.
“Hey!” said Peter. “We could use this to get into the restricted section to find a book on becoming Animagi!”
“Great idea, Peter!” Sirius praised, and Peter wore a look of pride.
“Come on, guys, just give up on that,” Remus pleaded.
“No way, mate,” James said, shaking his head. “We’re going to become Animagi if it’s the last thing we do.”
So they agreed to travel to the Restricted Section together at midnight, after the common room had cleared out. When Barty Cormack, a fellow second year, had gone to bed, yawning and stretching, the Marauders slipped under the Invisibility Cloak, and made their way to the library as silently as possible.
At one point, they were held up by Peeves, the mischief making poltergeist, who was scratching profanities into a classroom door. They had to wait until Peeves had flown away before they were able to proceed, which took quite a while.
“I didn’t know half of those words,” Remus whispered as they continued down the corridor, walking slowly as to prevent their feet from showing.
“Neither did I, but I’m using them from now on!” Sirius replied excitedly, and James chuckled. When they finally reached the library, it was well past one-thirty in the morning.
“Let’s split up and see what we can find,” James offered, and the other three agreed. Remus walked over to one of the shelves and began to search halfheartedly. About fifteen minutes in, Sirius let out a triumphant shout, causing Remus to jump and drop the book he was holding.
“What is it?” James asked, as Remus whispered, “Are you daft?”
“I found out how to tell what animal you’ll turn into when you become an Animagi!” Sirius said, and James and Peter raced over to him. “It’s just your Patronus, see? And...” He flipped through a few more pages and once again let out a triumphant shout, though he kept it quieter than the first. “Here’s how it’s done!”
“How do you cast a Patronus?” James asked, pulling out his wand.
“We’re in a library, mate,” Sirius sighed, rolling his eyes. “Look it up.”
So James raced off while Sirius read through the procedure of becoming an Animagi, frowning slightly.
“This looks pretty complicated,” he muttered. “It takes potions and spells. And they say we should get registered with the Ministry of Magic.”
“Well, we can’t do that,” Peter said, stepping forward and reading over his shoulder. “We don’t have to to do this, right?”
“Nah, I don’t think so,” Sirius replied. “I recon they just don’t think anyone could pull it off without the Ministry’s help.”
“Well, we’re going to prove them wrong!” James laughed, walking back over to them with a book in his arms. “Here, I have the book that tells how to produce a Patronus. It looks simple enough, just think of a happy thought and say ‘expecto patronum.’”
“What’s a Patronus for, anyway?” Peter asked.
“It wards off dementors,” James told him.
“Dementors... You mean the Azkaban Prison guards?” Remus inquired, and James nodded.
“Okay, let me try a patronus, then,” Sirius said, pulling up his wand. He screwed up his face in concentration and said, “Expecto patronum!” A mist-like substance poured out of his wand, and he looked at it in disappointment. “I’m going to look like a shapeless blob?” he asked, and James laughed.
“Maybe you need a little more practice,” he offered, holding his own wand up and trying the spell himself. He also produced a misty substance, and grumbled in frustration.
“We’d better get back to the common room before we’re missed,” Remus said, looking at the clock on the wall that read four o’clock in the morning.
“Yeah,” James agreed. “But I’m keeping the two books.” And with that, they all headed back up to bed, exhausted and glad it was the weekend.
For the next few weeks James, Sirius, and Peter worked on the Patronus while they tried to figure out how to make the potions required to become Animagi without being caught.
“Hey, guys, I think I almost go it that time!” Sirius exclaimed, as his Patronus faded. It looked like some kind of dog!”
“That’s so cool!” Peter said excitedly as his rat Patronus ran around the empty classroom they were practicing in. “Much cooler than a rat.”
“The rat could be useful, Peter,” Remus told him. “There’s a knot at the base of the Whomping Willow that you need to press to stop it from flailing. You’ll be small enough to get through easily.”
“Sweet!” Sirius exclaimed. “I knew you’d be good for something, Peter!” He reached over and ruffled Peter’s hair as Peter grinned proudly.
“I just can’t get it!” James yelled, throwing his wand on the ground in frustration and plopping down next to it. “My patronus still won’t shape!”
“Are you thinking of a happy enough thought?” Sirius offered.
“I think so. I’m thinking about the day I was sorted into Gryffindor,” James said.
“Try something else,” Peter suggested.
“Yeah. After all, you already knew you were going to be in Gryffindor,” Remus reminded him.
“How about when you won that Quidditch match?” Sirius said. “That seemed like a happy moment for you. Bloody brilliant, it was.”
“Okay,” James agreed hesitantly, picking his wand up and standing. He closed his eyes in concentration, and then said, “Expecto patronum!” A stag erupted out of his wand and made a lap around the classroom before fading away, and James’ smile stretched from ear to ear. “I did it!”
“Yeah, you’re going to be a goofy animal with prongs on your head,” Sirius joked, putting his hands up to his head in an imitation of prongs.
“Shut up, you’re going to be a big, furry, flea-bitten animal,” James snapped.
“Whatever, Prongs,” Sirius laughed.
“You’ll be sorry, Padfoot!” James retorted.
“Guys, calm down—”
“Shut it, Moony,” James told Remus, who had been trying to restore peace.
“And don’t even bother saying anything, Wormtail,” Sirius said to Peter, who had opened his mouth to speak. Peter instantly shut it and glared at Sirius, who laughed. “What, Wormtail? You’ve got a problem with your new nickname?”
“Yes, I do. Mine’s so gross!” Peter complained. “Wormtail. It’s disgusting.”
“Yeah, and exactly how a rat’s tail looks; like a worm!” Sirius reasoned. “And besides, James’ is worse! He’s got big prongs sticking out of the side of his head!”
“Yeah, prongs I can stab you with, if you’re not careful,” James warned playfully. Suddenly, an owl tapped on the glass of one of the windows, making them all jump about a foot in the air.
“James, I think that’s your owl,” Sirius said, and James hurried over to the window to let it in.
“It’s not my owl, it’s my parent’s owl. They won’t let me get my own until I’m older,” James corrected, untying the note from Xander’s leg and giving the owl a thankful pat on the head. Xander then flew out the window, as James read aloud:
Remember the attack on the muggles and wizards that I told you about earlier this year? Well, more and more dead bodies have been showing up with the skull symbol above the houses where the dead bodies have been found. They are all either muggles or muggle-borns and wizards who were with them at the time of the attack. This doesn’t look good, so I would like to ask you to please try not to wander off into the Forbidden Forest for the time being. It may not be safe, and your mother is worried sick. Please, take great care.
“Lilly’s a muggle-born!” James exclaimed, looking anxious. “This doesn’t look good at all.”
“Yeah,” Remus agreed, frowning. “Who would do such a thing? Killing all of those people like that?”
“Whoever it is, they sound like bad news,” Sirius growled. “Probably a bunch of Slytherins who think they’re better than everybody else. It sounds like something Bellatrix would like.”
“You don’t think she’s joined them, do you?” James asked. “I mean, she finished Hogwarts last year. She could be a part of it.”
“It wouldn’t surprise me. I’d also bet anything that my cousin Narcissa and her boyfriend Lucius will join them when they finish Hogwarts too. Lucius is just the load of pond scum that’d try to wipe out muggles and muggle-borns and ‘blood traitors’ as he likes to call them. Bloke’s a prefect and he tried to take twenty points from Gryffindor just because I was smiling the other day. Luckily Professor McGonagall was walking by and stopped him. Slimy git.”
“Well, if this thing becomes any more of a problem, we should join the resistance!” James exclaimed, looking exhilarated. “Show them they can’t treat people that way!”
“I’m sure everything will be sorted out soon,” Remus said. “I mean, the Ministry won’t let it grow to be too big of a problem. They’ll catch them in no time.”
“Yeah, it’ll probably blow over in a few months,” Peter agreed, and James looked put out.
“I guess you’re right. Blimey, we’re going to be late for Astronomy if we don’t hurry,” James said, looking up at the clock on the wall. “Let’s go.”
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