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Chapter 7 : Pranks, Issues and Love
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James Potter, Remus Lupin and Peter Pettigrew grinned back at him, feigning oblivion.
“You really need to be clearer, Padfoot,” said James,. “Have you had a premonition?”
“No,” Peter chimed in, “I think he’s just predicting.”
“Oh, it’s better,” Sirius smirked, his eyes twinkling mischievously.
“Come on, you guys,” Remus was smiling devilishly, something he had not done in days and looked rather uncharacteristic on his face. “I think we should go downstairs now; wouldn’t want to miss all the ‘fun’.” He winked.
Downstairs in the Great Hall, the marauders sat separately, not talking to anybody and staring intently across the hall at the Slytherin table. They could see Severus Snape alone, quickly devouring his food and looking pale and stern. Regulus Black and Barty Crouch Jr. sat together, the two fourth years, already looking like the Death Eaters they were destined to become. The rest of the Slytherins were seated at the table too and were eating away happily, not knowing what was in store for them.
The Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw tables were loaded with people too. The marauders had chosen a perfect day. Nobody, not even the teachers, who were all present, was going to miss the epic event.
The foursome were the only ones not concentrating on what they were eating. They knew that their timing was impeccable but still did not want to miss what was inevitably coming.
Severus Snape, under the watchful eyes of the marauders had just raised a spoonful of porridge up to his mouth when suddenly, the Slytherin dining table began trembling. Initially everybody was too occupied to notice but as the shaking increased, the entire hall’s attention was diverted towards it. Before anyone could even fathom what was wrong, BANG! The food on the table exploded! Toast, kippers, eggs, cereal flew everywhere, landing on the Slytherins mostly. Severus Snape could be seen bathed in the porridge he had been eating, his greasy hair dripping with the viscous liquid, his robes soaked in his breakfast. Regulus and Crouch Jr. resembled a salad as they were covered in cucumber slices, tomato-now more like tomato pulp- lettuce and egg yolk.
The hall erupted in laughter as soon as they comprehended the situation. The Hufflepuffs, Ravenclaws and Gryffindors applauded and hooted enthusiastically and James Potter, Sirius Black, Remus Lupin and Peter Pettigrew stood up and bowed claiming full responsibility for the amazing feat and responding enthusiastically to the tumultuous applause. Harry and Ginny were among the people clapping. However, in the excitement, everybody had forgotten someone.
“ENOUGH!” Professor McGonagall’s roared over the mayhem. She was striding towards the Marauders, looking extremely furious, her mouth set in a thin line. Professor Dumbledore was standing at the staff table, looking the least bit bothered by the chaos and in fact highly amused by the incident.
“What in Merlin;s name is going on? What do you gentlemen have to say for yourselves?” Her voice rang through the now eerily silent room. Everyone was mute; staring in the opposite direction, with bated breath, they all waited for the axe to fall. The four boys she was addressing stared down at their feet, albeit not in shame or remorse in fact they looked extremely proud of what they had done.
“Detention! To all four of you!” She turned to Lupin, her nostrils flaring, “I did NOT expect this from you Lupin! You are a Prefect! Instead of showing your friends how to act like mature human beings, you joined them in behaving like a band of blithering idiots!” Lupin seriously looked mortified now, blushing to the roots of his hair His expression changed suddenly, and he looked up at the Professor.
“I’m sorry, Professor,” he said, barely audible despite the heavy silence.
“Oh, come ON!” Sirius, apparently, couldn’t stand it anymore, “Remus, brother, man up! I thought you had more guts than that! And Professor, you should be proud of us! We performed extraordinary magic today! This means we’re actually learning something and all you do to reward us is give us detention for, what? Er.. a millionth time? You do realise that it doesn’t seem to be doing a bit of good, right?” He raised his eyebrow at the Professor rockily, an unconscious challenge in his grey eyes.
A vein in Mcgonagall’s temple was bulging, her face was red with anger. For a few blissful seconds, she looked at a loss for words. But then, in a deadly whisper, she said, “Yes, I do realise that, Mr. Black, and because of that detention is not the only thing you’ll be getting this time,” she paused, knowing that everyone in the hall was now hanging on to her every word. “This time, you are suspended from school for an entire week.”
Silence. Total, utter, impenetrable silence.
Sirius’ expression transformed immediately; all the cockiness vanishing to be replaced by a look of utter disbelief. “You can’t do that,” he whispered.
“As Head of your House, yes, I do believe can, Black,” she replied and turning on the spot, she addressed the entire student body. “I believe you all have lessons now, so move along!” There was instant flurry of movement as everybody made their way out of the Hall, away from her wrath. “And, students of Slytherin house, you are excused from lessons for an hour to all clean up.”
James, Sirius, Remus and Peter, stood where they were, staring mutely at each other. They had not even known that getting suspended was even possible in Hogwarts. Knowing that there was no point in arguing and that Professor McGonagall was too angry at that moment to even consider negotiating, the four of them made their way out of the Great Hall and out of the main doors, to sit under their tree by the lake. They still could not fathom what had just happened.
Two weeks ago:
Ginny sat in Dumbledore’s office, Harry beside her. She could hardly believe what had happened; could hardly believe that they had evaded capture so narrowly. Recalling the events of a few hours ago, she was lost deep in thought, barely noticing that Harry and Professor Dumbledore were liewise occupied.
Ginny’s hand gripped Harry’s jacket tighter. She could barely make everything out in the darkness but she knew that what she had seen was enough. Fear like she hadn’t felt since the war coursed through her body, sending shivers coursing through her frame. Harry stood in front of her, his feet rooted to the spot, the light from his wand shining over the Stunned body of Ollivander.
She felt the material slip from her as he moved and bent over the still figure. The fear intensified; fear of the unknown threat that had so stealthily stunned a fully-qualified wizard, stolen a wand and even escaped the notice of two highly accomplished Ministry officials. The fear forced her brain into action and she moved forward to grab Harry’s arm again.
“Harry, come on,” she whispered, “We can’t stay her; we don’t want to be discovered here. We’ll be blamed for the entire thing; people have seen us sitting outside this place all day.”
Harry was in motion instantly. He grabbed her arm tightly; his face unreadable and turned on the spot. She felt her lungs being crushed and an instant later air rushed into them as she felt the night air on her face and saw herself standing outside the wrought-iron gates of Hogwarts.
“I failed,” she heard Harry whisper beside her. He was looking up at the magnificent castle. “We changed the future, Gin. We changed everything.”
“You don’t know that, Harry,” she reassured him, putting a comforting hand on his arm. He looked down at her, his gaze linking with hers. “We still might be able to get it back before we go back.”
He shook his head, exasperation and regret evident on his face. “We don’t even know how to get back; we’ve changed the future; we’ve changed my OWN life and now we’re stuck here forever, with my sixteen-year-old parents.” His eyes blazed suddenly. “I’m sorry I made you go through this.”
She knew that no words would comfort him so, moving forward, she pulled him into a tight embrace, placing her head on his shoulder, closing her eyes against the warmth of his body. He wrapped his arms around her, pulling her closer and burying his face in her fragrant hair.
Snapping out of her reverie, she looked over at Harry, still feeling his body against hers; the familiar feeling of comfort hugging him had instilled in her. She regretted what she had done with Sirius, she regretted losing control, and at that moment and she vowed to herself that she would work on her self-control harder and stand beside Harry till they succeeded.
Dumbledore shifted in his chair, causing both Harry and Ginny to look at him. They had been sitting in silence for the past ten minutes, ever since they had entered the office and Ginny was getting impatient. She didn’t know why Dumbledore had summoned them right after they had arrived back and was itching to know.
“I need to know where you were tonight,” Dumbledore finally said his expression grave.
“We can’t tell you that, sir,” Harry replied, clearly disliking that he had to refuse Dumbledore yet again.
“I’m afraid, this time, I have to insist. You will have to tell me where you were and what you were doing. Otherwise I will be unable to protect you from the Ministry of magic and the possible consequences,” Dumbledore sat back in his chair, his blue eyes piercing.
“The Ministry?” Ginny asked, perplexed. “Why would we need protection from the Ministry? What happened?”
“That’s what I’m asking you, Miss Watson. What did indeed happen?”
“We were in Diagon Alley,” Harry began. “At Ollivanders”
“Did you attack him?” Dumbledore asked his expression suspicious.
“No, we didn’t,” Harry replied. Ginny could see that he did not understand how Dumbledore knew about the attack.
“I thought that as well,” Dumbledore’s expression cleared and he continued, “You are clearly not underage, the trace could not be present on either of you and that means it was someone else.”
Ginny was confused. “What do you mean, sir?”
“Tonight, while I was taking a walk in the splendid Hogwarts grounds, I received an owl from the Ministry, saying that a student from Hogwarts had performed underage magic. A stunning spell in Diagon Alley, to be precise. My thoughts went to you two initially but I knew that you were not underage. I realised then that somebody else had been outside Hogwarts grounds tonight. Did you by any chance see who it was, the person who attacked Ollivander?”
“No,” Harry said looking crestfallen, “We were sitting there all day, knowing that he was in danger. We even warned him but he wouldn’t listen.”
“Ginny, Harry,” Dumbledore leaned forwards in his chair, “I will need your help to find out who did this. My own students are engaging in illegal activity under my own nose and I am afraid fuious. We need to catch the culprit soon.”
Harry and Ginny nodded.
“I doubt you will be able to find him or her easily, sir,” Harry replied, “They are helping our enemy and escaped right under our nose.”
“We’ll find him, sir,” Ginny said, assuring him confidently, sounding determined.
Harry entered the Common Room, cheeks flushed and hair windswept, after an hour of extreme flying. He had missed the Quidditch tryouts and knew that he would not make the team. Therefore, to pass free time and to keep himself fit, he had taken up playing Quidditch alone in free time. It was a beautiful Saturday morning; the clouds hung low over the castle, threatening to expel the rain they were obviously carrying, yet doing nothing but casting a gloom over the magnificent building. A light refreshing breeze was blowing, sweeping the plantations and carrying with it the sweet scent that seemed to be affecting everyone’s mood.
He was in the same good mood induced by the pleasant weather when he entered the common room to see most of the Gryffindor sixth years gathered around a table. He could distinguish Ginny there too, smiling down at a brunette boy who had his back to him. It was Chris Parker.
The chorus of the birthday song rang through the Common Room and Harry began singing along as he joined Chris, Kate, Lily, Ginny, Kevin and Mark around the table. Chris stood up as they finished singing to receive a kiss from Lily- Harry looked away deftly, not wanting to see his mother kissing someone he knew was not his father- a hug from Ginny and friendly claps on the back from the boys. He looked extremely happy, happier than Harry had known most people to be on their seventeenth birthday in fact, but Harry barely took notice of the fact as the portrait hole opened and he saw his father enter.
Harry hadn’t seen much of any of the Marauders after their suspension three days ago. He had tried to look for them, had even searched their own map but had been unsuccessful. This was the first time he had gotten a good look at his father after the scene in the hall. His shoulders were hunched though not in shame and he looked extremely tired and unlike himself. His hair messier than usual and his robes showed signs of wear and tear; like they had not been washed in several days. Harry guessed that they if had been off the map; the Marauders had not been in school at all.
James paused as he saw the people gathered, staring at him. They hadn’t seen him since the ay of their suspension either and he knew that they were wondering how he would react if they said something. He took a step towards them.
“Happy birthday, Prissy,” James said, his tone lackadaisical and missing the usual pride. His use of the nickname caused the smiling Chris to frown and stalk out of the room with Lily and the others behind him.
James smirked, turning to Harry.
“I saw you playing, Jackson,” he said, “Who trained you?”
Harry was surprised. He hadn’t expected James to even notice his flying skills.
“Nobody,” Harry replied, “I inherited the skills from my father.”
“Would you like to play for Gryffindor?”
Harry blinked. Play for Gryffindor? On his father’s team? Obviously, he would. But then, how would he keep a check on Xenon and look for the person who was helping him?
“I would,” Harry said, and he saw Ginny fidgeting beside him; James smiled, “but, I’m sorry, I can’t. I have other things to do.”
James Potter huffed, turned and walked up to his dormitory without a response.
Quidditch, planning more pranks, victimizing Snape, none of these activities seemed to be having the desired effect in James. He was bored and irritated with the lack of activity in his life and surprisingly, he missed the lessons. As he made his way into the castle, he realised he missed his friends too. Sirius and Peter were in detention and Remus was in the hospital getting the injuries from the previous night healed.
James Potter was not ashamed of what he had done with the Slytherins. In fact, he was quite proud of the feat they had accomplished, the amount of magical skill and planning that had taken, only he and Sirius knew. However, he did resent Sirius for speaking back to McGonagall which had caused her to suspend them.
James pulled a face as he took the shortcut leading to the seventh floor. Everyone had given them the response they had wanted. Everyone except Evans, that is- she had not even looked at him once, indicating that she had though that they deserved the punishment they had gotten. Her opinion was the only thing that mattered to him as much as Sirius’ and it made him second guess his actions for a while. If he really wanted to win her over, he supposed he would have to change himself. He really did want her, not even as some sort of trophy or just another notch on his bedpost; a fact that was as unfathomable to him as to everybody else. All he knew was that Lily Evans was something else entirely. He dreamt about her, followed her around and had even started to change his actions according to what she would think. Sirius thought he was losing his mind more than his heart, and said as much James knew in his gut that this was something entirely new and entirely foreign.
His steps slowed to a stop as he sensed others present in the corridor he had taken. Moving ahead a few steps his view broadened and he found himself looking at Lily Evans and Chris Parker, locked in a passionate embrace, kissing fiercely. His arms were wrapped around her, hands openly exploring her body as she twisted her fingers in his dark locks and feverishly reciprocated his actions, completely oblivious to their audience in their throes of desire.
It was as if something exploded inside of him. Hot blood boiled through his veins, eradicating all rational thought, replacing them by a savage desire to rip Parker to pieces and crush his treacherous hands.
“EVANS!” He yelled, losing control of himself.
They broke apart, looking at the one who had so rudely interrupted them.
“What do you want, Potter?” asked Lily
“What are you doing with him?” he forced his voice to sound normal.
“It’s called kissing Potter,” said Chris, “You’d know if you’d stop mooning over my girlfriend and go do some yourself.”
James stomped forwards, grabbed Chris by the collar and shoved him up against the wall.
“Don’t you dare tell me what it’s called,” he muttered in a deadly whisper through his clenched jaw, “Or I’ll rip your heart out!”
Chris said nothing, only forced James hands off of him, shoved him back and glancing at Lily, walked away. She remained standing there, James’ back to her. He could feel her eyes burning holes into him, but he did not dare turn around; the fear of hurting her in his corrosive rage forced him to stay like he was, facing away from her till he calmed down a little.
“Who do you think you are?” she demanded, his silence fuelling her fury.
He did not respond, trying to remain calm as long as possible.
“I said,” she grabbed his arm and forced him to face her, “WHO do you think you are?”
“James Potter!” He said, his voice rising despite his effort at controlling it, “I am James Potter! I am the bloke who has been asking you out for the past two years; the one who has been following you for ages, who has been doing EVERYTHING he can to get your attention! I am the one you’ve rejected thoughtlessly a million times! I am the one who is stupid and naive enough to believe that you actually care! I am the one who THOUGHT that I was in love with you, who would win you in the end, no matter what! I am the one who just saw you kissing another person and had everything he believed about you blown into smithereens!”
She was stunned into silence by his sudden outburst. She stood there staring at his heaving form, her hands by her side, looking completely paralyzed.
“Say something!” he was finally snapped annoyed by her silence.
“Y-you’re in love with me?” she asked breathlessly, her expression disbelieving.
He laughed mirthlessly.
“I supposed I was, Lily.”
She blinked, noticing the renewed use of her first name.
“But now?” she whispered.
“Now, it doesn’t even matter,” he replied, before walking past her, leaving her standing alone in the deserted corridor all by herself.
What have I done? He thought. He had lost all chances of getting together with her and had done it with his own careless tongue. Immediate regret coursed through him as he sank into a chair in the Gryffindor Common Room.
A parchment and a quill lay on the table beside him and without granting any conscious thought to what he was doing, he began scribbling on it. So lost was he in his thoughts that he did not hear someone come up behind him.
“Pathetic much, Potter?” he was pulled out of his reverie by Parker’s voice. His eyes fell on what James had been doodling and saw the letters ‘LP’ scribbled on the parchment.
“What are you doing, writing down my future wife’s initials?”
“Future wife?” asked James incredulously.
“Yes, Lily,” he replied, “Soon to be Lily Parker of course. As soon as we graduate, I was thinking. What do you think, Potter?”
“Piss off, Parker,” James stood up and threw the parchment in the fire. “THAT is what I think.”
Chris smiled, not offended in the least. “I don’t understand why you won’t let go,” he said. His tone was neither mocking or sneering nor was it unkind. James could actually hear concern in his voice.
“That,” he spoke, “is none of your business, Parker.”
“Sure,” Chris said easily, as James turned went up to his dormitory to find his friends waiting for him.
“Something’s wrong,” said Sirius the second he saw James’ face, “What’s wrong, Prongs?”
James related the entire story for his friends.
“You want me to talk to her?” asked Remus, willing to put his good rapport with fellow prefect on the line for James.
Sirius snorted. “And what exactly will you say, Moony?” he asked.
“I don’t know,” Remus shrugged. “Apologise?”
“No,” James said, shaking his head, “I didn’t do anything wrong this time. Bloody hell, I actually professed my love for her. There’s nothing wrong with that.”
“This is all Parker’s fault,” announced Sirius.
“How so?” asked Peter, who had been silent until now.
“Because I said so,” replied Sirius, “And I promise you, Prongs, he’ll pay for it.”
“Oh not again!” exclaimed Remus, raising exasperated eyes to the ceiling as f in hope of divine intervention. “Our suspension week ended yesterday Sirius! We need a break from detentions!”
“Yes, but we can’t take breaks from friendship and brotherhood,” Sirius said, “We’re doing this for James.”
“Then I’m not a part of it,” said Remus. He turned to James, “I’m sorry James, but I have my Prefect badge to look after.”
“It’s alright, Moony,” James assured him, smiing. “I understand. And don’t worry about us; we’ll handle everything.”
A/N: And here it is! The 7th chapter! Once again I'm sorry for the long wait, school's been bothering me more than i though it would =P Anyway thanks to all those who read my story and once again a request to those who do not review! Please please please review! I really want to know what you think!
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