Amortentia seemed to be the most common explanation; several students had seen James pour Lily a drink on the first night she and Sirius had been stuck together and he’d also done it a few times since. Felicia Gamp from Slytherin had actually brewed her an antidote and offered it to her in Herbology. She’d tested it to make sure is was actually an antidote and then she’d drunk it, crossed the greenhouse and hugged James for no reason at all, just to shut everyone up.
The constant mutterings seemed to follow them everywhere. Lily was getting sick of it already, while James didn’t seem to know what to make of it, while. The other Marauders seemed to be enjoying it and had often encouraged some of the more outlandish rumours.
‘No, I’m not pregnant!’ Lily shrieked as she slammed her books down on her desk top.
Lee Chang jumped back, looking terrified. ‘Don’t worry,’ Sirius advised him, with a knowing look. ‘It’s the hormones.’ Lee looked mollified, and chose a seat near the back, as far from Lily as possible.
‘I can’t believe they haven’t got something better to talk about,’ she grumbled as she sat down. She and James had taken to hiding in the Head’s common room. Sometimes the other three Marauders were with them, other times they had the room to themselves, or Marlene and Alice were there.
James leaned over to kiss her on the cheek. ‘They will.’
She frowned, turning to Sirius. ‘I still don’t know why you felt the need to announce that we were a couple to the entire Gryffindor common room. And would it kill you to stop telling people James spiked my drink, or impregnated me?’
James flushed and smacked Remus’ arm; the sandy haired boy had subsided into a fit of laughter.
Sirius gave her a breezy smile. ‘Ah, well. It’s done now.’
She crossed her arms over her chest, fixing him with an unhappy look.
Peter smiled slightly and leaned in. ‘Lily, I think you got off lucky.’ He gestured to Sirius and James. ‘You’ve seen what these two are capable of; I wouldn’t have put it past Sir to get Dumbledore to announce it to the school.’
‘True,’ she admitted grudgingly. Peter gave her a friendly smile.
James grinned, ruffling Sirius’ dark hair. ‘Never been one for subtlety, have you, Paddy?’
‘Nope,’ Sirius said looking proud.
James opened his mouth to say something else but Lily shushed him; Gurdan had just arrived.
‘Hello, you lot,’ he said grimly. ‘I’ve got an interesting lesson planned for you today. You’ve already covered it, but I think you’ll find it challenging anyway.’ At the confused looks from the class he grimaced. ‘Boggarts. Who can tell me what they are?’ Lily’s hand punched the air, her dour mood forgotten. ‘Miss Evans?’
‘A Boggart is a creature that changes its shape to resemble that which you fear the most.’ Back in third year, her greatest fear had been marrying James. She smiled slightly at how things had changed, but couldn’t help wondering what she feared most at the moment.
‘Excellent. Five points to Gryffindor. Who remembers the spell? Mr Lupin?’
‘Riddikulus,’ Remus said smoothly. ‘For it to be effective, you have to think of something funny.’
‘Very good. Five points to you as well... Now I’ve been told that in third year, you faced the Boggart in groups. Today, you’ll be facing it alone, and I’ll ask that no one interferes with anyone else’s Boggart... I think that’s all you need to know for this lesson, so line up and have your wands at the ready.’
Chairs scraped as the class got to their feet and lined up facing the cupboard in the corner of the room. Professor Gurdan waved his wand at the door and it opened. ‘Remember, a Boggart can’t physically harm you,’ he called as Melissa Robbins walked out of the cupboard to face Lee Chang.
Chang stared at his girlfriend’s doppelganger with a slightly anxious expression. ‘Lee, I don’t think this is working,’ the Boggart said quietly. ‘I’m breaking up with you.’
‘Riddikulus,’ he whispered, looking shaken.
The Boggart smiled suddenly. ‘Actually...’ it said, reaching out a hand, ‘there’s a rather nice cupboard just here... why don’t we skip the next lesson and you and I can...’ The class laughed at Chang’s expense as he flushed and headed to the back of the line.
Lockhart was next. His Boggart became him and before the class’ eyes grew fat, with rotting teeth and thinning hair. Sirius and James sniggered at the real Lockhart’s ashen face. Unable to finish it off, Lockhart scurried to the back of the line, leaving Remus to face it.
It turned into James who looked revolted. ‘Who would want to be friends with you?’ it asked. With a crack, it changed to look like Sirius and sneered, ‘You’re just not worth it.’ Crack. It became Peter who just nodded in agreement.
‘Why?’ Remus whispered. Sirius and James started toward him, but Gurdan waved his wand, effectively stopping them.
‘Rem!’ James shouted. ‘It’s-’
Gurdan Silenced him, with a sympathetic look and mouthed, ‘Alone.’
‘Hey!’ Sirius said indignantly, before he was silenced too. Lily tried to find her voice, but it was gone. She, like the rest of the class, just watched in horrified fascination.
Crack. Lily stared at herself in shock. ‘Like you? I despise you! Hah! And people think muggle-borns are bad...’ Crack. The Boggart was James again. ‘Did you really think you ever fit in?’ Remus flinched. Crack. Sirius. ‘Because you don’t. That incident in fifth year... that was me trying to get you expelled.’
Crack. Peter. ‘Shame it didn’t work,’ it said carelessly, ‘it would have been rather nice without you around.’ Crack. James. ‘You don’t belong here.’ Crack. Boggart-Sirius turned his stormy stare on the dishevelled Remus. ‘Please,’ it scoffed. ‘Did you really believe we actually cared? That we would let scum like you be our “brother”?’ Crack. Peter. ‘You’re just a filthy W-’
‘Riddikulus!’ Remus choked.
Boggart-Peter began to shrink until he was only the size of Lily’s thumb. He crossed his arms, glaring around at the class, who were grinning now.
‘Sirius!’ it squeaked in a high pitched voice. ‘You change me back right now!’ Remus and the rest of the class laughed. ‘Don’t you laugh at me, prat! This is not funny!’ it squealed, shaking its miniature fist at them.
Even Gurdan smiled as he removed the spells from James and Sirius. They charged at Remus, tackling him to the floor.
‘Honestly, Moony,’ Lily heard James said crossly from somewhere in the tangle of limbs. ‘Don’t you know better than to listen to anything I say!?’
Remus chuckled, pulling away from his friends with a grateful smile. Colour returned to his face as he made his way to the end of the line, giving both Lily and Peter smiles on the way there. James had stepped back to let Sirius tackle the Boggart that had taken on the appearance of a tall, haughty looking woman in a long black dress.
Lily heard a laugh from behind her. ‘Oh, look, Cissy,’ Bellatrix said, delighted, ‘he’s scared of Auntie Wal!’
‘So he should be,’ Narcissa said coolly. ‘Especially after what he did.’
Sirius faced the Boggart with a somewhat annoyed expression. It reached out to him, obviously angling for a hug. ‘I’m proud of you, son!’ it said. Shock played across Sirius’ handsome features. ‘I knew you would come to see things our way, Sirius, I knew you’d finally realise your time is better spent away from the filthy Half-Breeds, Mudbloods and Blood-Traitors you called friends.’
Sirius glanced around the room apologetically. He didn’t look scared. His mother-Boggart smiled coldly. ‘You’ve been a difficult child, Sirius, what with you being a Gryffindor and all, but that doesn’t matter, because you’ve shown yourself to be a true Black after-all.’
‘That’s what he fears?’ Bellatrix said incredulously. ‘Being one of us?’ Gurdan shot her a look to be quiet. ‘Wait until I write to Auntie Wal!’ she whispered to Narcissa, who stayed silent, watching "Aunt Wal" with an unreadable expression.
‘Riddikulus,’ Sirius said calmly. Though he had his back to her, Lily swore he was smiling. Seconds later, the Boggart was still Mrs Black, but she was wearing a bright set of red robes with gold stars, looking horrified. James roared with laughter, as did Remus. Sirius looked pleased with himself.
Peter was next, and the Boggart morphed into an older version of himself. It was pale and thin, looking on the verge of death. ‘We chose wrong,’ it rasped. Peter squeaked, clearly terrified. ‘We have nothing!’ Then it died, falling to the floor with a crash. The real Peter Pettigrew collapsed, having fainted.
James, Remus and Sirius ran forward to join the Professor. The four of them managed to wake Peter, who insisted he was fine and didn’t need the Hospital Wing. He did look shaken, so Gurdan allowed him to sit down at his desk.
Lily stepped forward, wand at the ready. The Boggart disappeared. She looked at Gurdan in askance, and he shrugged. Then she understood. She had always hated the unknown. Hated it because she had no control over it. It scared her, though the Boggart didn’t really. It was hard to be scared of something she couldn’t see.
The Boggart, seeming to realise it wasn’t working against her, changed with a crack. It was a Dementor, taking in a loud, rattling breath. Lily shuddered and took a step backward.
‘Riddikulus!’ she said clearly. The Boggart-Dementor’s scabby hands flew to its throat, and it made a coughing noise, as if it couldn’t breathe properly. It continued to cough and choke until Lucius Malfoy moved forward.
The Boggart immediately changed into the blonde’s corpse. He stared at it for a full minute, his pointed face growing ever paler and then, unable to manage the spell, he ran for the back of the line. Sirius sniggered.