‘I still can’t believe you made me tell him I was pregnant,’ Lily grumbled.
‘He won’t tell anyone,’ Remus assured her. ‘No bloke would let that get out if the girl’s happy to keep it quiet.’ She nodded, pursing her lips.
‘Oi! Wait! Moony!’ Sirius’ loud footsteps echoed behind them. When he reached them, he turned to Lily. ‘Prongs says you’re expecting. Congratulations.’
Lily smacked Remus. ‘You said he wouldn’t say anything!’ she said furiously. Sirius chuckled.
‘Padfoot already knew!’ Remus cried, leaping out of reach as she lifted her hand again.
‘That’s not the point!’ she said angrily. ‘He just told someone, when I asked him to keep it between us!’
‘Lily, you aren’t pregnant,’ Sirius reminded her, grinning. It didn’t quite reach his eyes though; no smiles had, since James had gone missing. ‘Who cares what others think?’
She scowled. ‘Rumours that I’m pregnant could cause just as much damage as if I actually was pregnant – what if McGonagall hears?’ she said, paling. Her hands flew to her mouth. ‘She’d take away my badge!’
‘On what grounds?’ Remus asked with a laugh that seemed a little forced. That was yet another thing James had taken with him. ‘You haven’t done anything wrong.’
‘Right,’ she said, her expression relaxing considerably. ‘In here do you think?’
‘It looks as good as anywhere,’ Sirius said with a shrug. The three of them filed into the empty classroom and began poking around in desks, behind the curtains, anywhere they thought a Boggart might hide. They’d already chosen the Head’s common room as the ideal practice space, but Remus thought she’d manage a Patronus faster if she had a real target. ‘Ove- oh, no, don’t worry,’ Sirius said. ‘Either of you having any luck?’
‘No,’ Lily said, straightening from her spot behind the teacher’s desk. ‘Remus?’
‘I found something almost as scary,’ he joked, tossing a tattered Slytherin scarf at Sirius who yelped.
‘It burns!’ he said dramatically, pelting it over his shoulder. ‘Catch, Prongs!’ Laughing, the three of them watched expectantly, waiting for James’ reaction which would no doubt be louder than Sirius’ had been.
The scarf fell to the floor.
Lily’s smile faded. Remus’ laugh cut off abruptly and he stared forlornly at the pile of green and silver wool. Sirius turned away before Lily could read his facial expression. ‘Let’s look somewhere else, shall we?’ he said roughly, stuffing his wand in his pocket and stalking out of the classroom.
Sharing a look, Lily and Remus followed him out, just in time to see his tall figure disappearing around a corner. Lily watched sadly.
Remus sighed. ‘Check the next classroom, Lily. I’ll be there in a moment.’
‘Where are you going?’
‘To make sure Padfoot doesn’t blow anything up,’ he said with a forced smile.
Lily nodded and walked to the next classroom. ‘Alohomora,’ she muttered, tapping the handle. Inside was cluttered, filled with spare desks, chairs, paintings and what appeared to be a unicorn skeleton. Shuddering, Lily pushed the door open further and slipped inside, almost knocking an old grandfather clock over in the process. She steadied it and crossed the room, easing open a dusty cabinet. Empty.
‘Lily?’ a voice said weakly.
She spun, wand raised. ‘James?’ she said cautiously, lowering her wand. Her eyes widened. He was pale and thin, his face smeared with blood and dirt. His black shirt was ripped and his jeans were dusty. He looked like death, struggling to support himself against the grandfather clock in the doorway, but she hurried forward and threw her arms around him anyway.
He didn’t respond other than to make a pained noise. She let go immediately. ‘Sorry,’ she whispered. ‘Merlin! What happened to you?’ James opened his mouth to respond, but no sound came out before he collapsed. ‘No!’ Lily dropped to her knees next to him. ‘James? James!’ she said urgently.
‘Lils...’ he croaked, his hazel eyes fluttering open behind his cracked glasses.
‘I’m here, I’m here,’ she said, cupping his cheek. ‘I’ll get you to the Hospital Wing! You’re all right.’
‘Lily,’ he gasped. His face, which was had already been pale was now ghostly white.
Lily’s eyes filled with tears. ‘You’re all right,’ she said, lifting her wand out with shaking hands. James reached up to stop her. His touch was wet. She pulled her hands away, shocked; they were covered in blood. ‘No,’ she said, shaking her head. And then she noticed what she’d missed before; blood on the front of her school robes. James’ blood, from when she had hugged him. She pressed a hand to his chest and it came back dripping red. ‘No,’ she whispered. She knew a few minor healing spells, but nothing that would fix this.
‘I love you,’ he whispered, his eyes glassing over.
‘NO!’ she screamed, ‘No, James!’ she shouted, tears blurring her vision. ‘James!’ She slipped her hand under his shirt, cringing slightly at the warm blood all over him, to feel his heart-beat. His chest was still against her hand. And then the tears really came, flooding down her cheeks, blinding her, scalding her face. ‘No,’ she cried, clutching his hand. ‘N-no!’
He couldn’t be dead. He couldn’t not now. He was seventeen for Merlin’s sake. As she choked on her tears, a thought popped into her head with clarity. She loved him. She cried harder at the realisation that she’d never be able to tell him. ‘I love you,’ she said anyway, praying he’d somehow open his eyes. Deep down, she knew he wouldn’t. He was gon-
‘Lily, are you in here? Lil- Prongs? NO!’ Sirius shouted from just next to her. Remus fell to his knees, his eyes rapidly filling with tears. ‘No!’ Sirius said, throwing himself down next to Lily. He whipped his wand out to cast a healing spell.
‘It won’t work,’ Lily said, catching his sleeve. ‘He’s-’
‘He’s not!’ Sirius roared, saying the incantation anyway, but nothing happened. He tried again. Nothing. ‘No!’ Sirius shouted. His lip trembled. ‘No, Prongs,’ Sirius said, this time in a much quieter voice. He brushed tears out of his eyes as he gripped James’ arm. ‘You’re not allowed to die. Prongs, J-Jamie, wake up. P-please,’ Sirius sobbed. ‘I can’t follow you there and we’re b-brothers. We do everything together. Jamie, p-please, Prongs, Jame-’ His voice broke and he flung himself on James’ body, tears, streaming down his cheeks.
Lily was vaguely aware of footsteps. ‘Lupin? Why are you on the floor?’ Professor Gurdan hauled Remus to his feet before turning on Lily and Sirius. ‘Evans? Whose blood is that?’ the grizzled Auror asked, stepping past Remus. Then he noticed James. Gurdan swore, lifting Lily out of the way and passed her to Remus before he dragged Sirius away from James. He knelt down, reaching for James’ neck, clearly looking for a pulse.
No sooner than he had made contact, he jumped back, flinching as James’ very being shimmered, and with a loud crack turned into a bone-white man with peculiar red eyes and two slits were his nose should have been. He shoved Gurdan away with one spidery hand before climbing to his feet and drawing his wand. A Boggart, she realised. It was a Boggart. ‘Avad-’ he began in a cold, high voice.
‘Riddikulus!’ Lily screamed. It turned into a skeleton which crumbled into a pile of bones.
‘Thank you, Evans,’ Gurdan said in a mild voice, pushing himself upright. ‘I’ve never seen a Boggart use an Unforgivable before and I don’t have any aspirations to find out whether they actually can or not. I've also never seen a Boggart conjure blood...’ His eyes passed over the three of them, bloody, teary-eyed and dishevelled. They then flicked to the pile of bones which were folding themselves into the grandfather clock. He waved his wand and the door shut with a click.
‘It was a Boggart, then?’ Sirius said, swallowing loudly.
‘I doubt any seventeen year-old has a chance against He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named using Riddikulus unless he is a Boggart,’ Gurdan said with a smile in Lily’s direction.
‘So James...?’ Remus said shakily.
‘Isn’t dead,’ Gurdan said gently. He clapped his hands together. ‘Come on. Hospital Wing. The three of you look like you need something for shock.’ Lily followed numbly as Gurdan lead the way down the corridor. James wasn’t dead, aat least she hoped not; he was still being held captive... wherever he was... Lily brushed a stray tear away. ‘So whose Boggart was it originally?’
‘Mine,’ Lily whispered, wiping her bloody hands on her robes.
‘I see,’ Gurdan said in a voice that gave nothing away. ‘It’s changed, then.’ Lily nodded, staring at her feet. ‘Curious. And clearly yours has changed too, Black, or it would have changed when you touched it.’
‘Yeah,’ Sirius muttered.
‘Which makes me wonder... Why are you both so afraid for Potter’s life at the moment...?’ Gurdan said, raising his eyebrows as he surveyed them both.
Obviously it was because James was in the possession of Death Eaters at the moment, and neither of them had any way to help him, if he was still alive. Sirius shot Lily a pleading look that she interpreted to mean he needed time to think of a plausible excuse. ‘Well, James and I are dating,’ Lily said, ‘and there was an article in the Daily Prophet this morning about another death... I don’t know. I suppose my imagination got the better of me.’
Gurdan nodded, looking convinced. ‘Black?’
‘James dying isn’t my greatest fear,’ Sirius said slowly. ‘But when I saw Lily and all the blood... I guess it became my greatest fear, that what I was seeing was true...’
Gurdan nodded again. ‘Makes sense. When you get back to the Common Room, I’d make a point of talking to Potter, just to prove to yourself that he’s all right.’
‘We’ll do that,’ Remus said. Gurdan missed his grimace, but Lily didn’t.
‘Poppy!’ Gurdan called as they entered the Hospital Wing. ‘These three need something for shock.’
Madam Pomfrey turned to look at them and dropped the potion she was holding. ‘Whose blood is that?’ she said, swooping forward to inspect them.
‘They had a run-in with a Boggart, Poppy,’ Gurdan said calmly. ‘No one’s hurt, just shaken.’
‘I can see that. I suppose you touched it did you?’ Lily and Sirius nodded. The matron sighed. ‘Only Gryffindors,’ she muttered, bustling over to her medicine stores.
‘I think you can handle yourselves from here,’ Gurdan said with a faint smile. ‘Madam Pomfrey will have you feeling better in no time.’
‘Thank you,’ Lily said.
Remus laughed humourlessly. ‘I don’t know what we would have done if you hadn’t showed up, Professor.’
‘One of you would have gone for help,’ Gurdan said, smiling slightly. ‘Or someone else would have come past and the Boggart would have changed like it did for me- speaking of that- fifty points to Gryffindor for quick wand-work.’
‘What?’ Lily asked, eyes wide.
‘Like I said, I don’t know whether or not Boggarts can cast proper Unforgivables and I didn’t want to be the one to find out. I think fifty points more than covers the saving of a teacher’s life.'
'Yours has changed too, Professor,' Sirius said slowly. 'In the lesson it was a Death Eater. Now it's... Him. It's Voldemort.'
'It is,' Gurdan said. 'I've realised he's more of a worry than any of his followers. Ten points for good observation, Black. See you in class.’ With a little wave, he ducked out of the Hospital Wing.
‘Here we go,’ Madam Pomfrey said, pressing a cold goblet into Lily’s hand. She gave one to Remus and one to Sirius as well, giving them firm instructions to drink the whole thing. ‘You can either go back to your Common Room to rest, or you can stay here.’
‘I’ll stay,’ Sirius said, diving onto the closest bed. Lily and Remus looked at him shocked; he hated the Hospital Wing.
‘I’ll go,’ Lily said. ‘Thank you, Madam Pomfrey.’
‘You’re welcome, dear,’ she said, smiling kindly. ‘Mr Lupin?’
‘I’ll go,’ Remus said slowly.
Madam Pomfrey nodded, glancing at Sirius. ‘Mr Black, I’ll be back with pyjamas in a moment.’
‘Why are you staying?’ Remus hissed once she was out of earshot.
‘I told Pete and “James” I had a date tonight,’ Sirius said sheepishly, glancing at the clock on the wall which read half-past eight. ‘Firstly, it’ll look suspicious if we all come back together and secondly, I’ve never come back from a date before eleven and that’s not changing anytime soon. Especially looking like this.’ He gestured at his tear marked cheeks and red rimmed eyes.
‘Reputation to uphold?’ Remus said, snorting. Sirius clearly appreciated his attempt to make light of the situation and winked, giving them a cheery wave as they left.