Chapter 53 : Chapter 53
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He almost collided with an oblivious Mrs Evans on the landing, saved only by her poking her head into Petunia’s door to check of her oldest daughter was still asleep. James hurried on downstairs and back into the guest room. What had been his and Sirius’ pillows were under the window, presumably where Vernon had thrown them in an attempt to keep the “strays” quiet last night. Vernon himself was taking up his mattress and half of James’, snoring loudly all the while. James tiptoed in and then-
‘Ow! Wassgoinon?’ Sirius mumbled, emerging from a pile of blankets.
‘Sorry, Pads,’ James gasped. ‘Didn’t see you there.’
‘Bet you did,’ Sirius grumbled, squinting around the room. ‘Where are you?’
‘Here’ James said, pulling his Cloak off.
‘Merlin!’ Sirius yelped, toppling sideways onto his pile of blankets.
‘Sorry, did I surprise you?’ James asked innocently.
‘You know you bloody well did,’ Sirius growled, smacking his shoulder. A moment later he was grinning. ‘Do you reckon we’d be able to scare Moony with that little trick?’
‘Probably not; his senses are too good, though it’s worth a try. How about Wormtail?’
‘Shock’d probably kill him,’ Sirius said. James had to agree.
‘All right, not Wormtail then... How about... erm...’
‘Dumbledore!’ Sirius cried. Vernon rolled over mumbling curses in his sleep.
‘Dumbledore?’ James repeated. ‘You want to break into Dumbledore’s sleeping quarters and scare him? Fawkes would probably incinerate us.’
‘It’s happened before,’ Sirius said, shrugging. ‘Remember that time we added a Youth Potion to Dumbledore’s sweets and Pete went in as Wormtail-’
‘That’s right! And he was bald for a week.’ Both smiled reminiscently, though the moment was ruined by Vernon waking up and asking what the time was. ‘Just after eight,’ James answered.
Vernon groaned and collapsed back onto his pillows. ‘I’ve only had two hours sleep then! And what are you doing back in here? I thought I told you to get out!’
‘Good Morning,’ Petunia said, appearing in the doorway. ‘What’s all this noise about?’ She gave James and Sirius nasty looks. They smiled back cheerfully.
‘Oh, er, Good Morning, Petunia, dear. Nothing. Is breakfast ready?’ She glared at James a moment longer and then nodded. Vernon heaved himself to his feet and planted a kiss on his fiancé’s cheek. The two left.
‘Well, I suppose that means we’re allowed to be up and about,’ Sirius said. ‘Just wait for Vernon to get to the kitchen because there’s no way we’ll all be able to fit in the hallway otherwise.’
James roared with laughter and followed his best friend out of the room as soon as the way was clear. ‘Oh, you’re up!’ Mrs Evans said from her position by the stove. ‘Do you like eggs?’
James nodded as Sirius said, ‘I’ll eat anything.’
Mrs Evans laughed. ‘Lillian said as much last night. Speaking of Lillian...’ She turned to Petunia. ‘Is your sister up yet?’
‘How should I know?’ Petunia said, sipping at her juice.
‘Go check for me, would you, dear?’
‘I’ll go,’ James offered over Petunia’s indignant response.
‘Thank you, dear.’
James glanced at Sirius, mouthing “behave”. Sirius grinned. Shaking his head, bemused, James walked out of the kitchen and ascended the stairs. ‘Lily,’ he called. He didn’t get a response. ‘Lils? Are you awake yet? Lily?’ Feeling a niggling sense of unease, he leapt up the remaining few steps and skidded to a stop in front of Lily’s bedroom door. ‘Lily?’ he called, knocking lightly.
‘In here,’ she said faintly.
‘Are you decent?’ he asked, not wanting to go barging in.
‘You can come in,’ Lily said in that same not-quite-there voice.
James pushed the door open. Lily was sitting in bed, red hair tousled and still looking half asleep clutching a piece of parchment. Her green eyes were faraway, but not in a sleepy way. James headed straight for her. ‘Are you all rig- Ah! Where did that owl come from?!’ The bird in question hooted as its talons brushed the top of his head and landed on the bedside table, glaring at him with big, orange eyes. ‘Lils, you’re scaring me,’ James said, sitting down next to her.
‘Sorry,’ she said, her eyes focusing. ‘I was thinking.’
‘About what?’ James asked, relaxing slightly.
‘This.’ She waved the parchment at him. ‘It’s from Dumbledore.’
‘What does it say?’
‘To Miss Lily Evans,’ Lily read aloud, her voice shaking slightly. ‘I am writing to inform you of the temporary suspension of your role as Head Girl. It is with the utmost regret that I do this, but your recent change in attitude can no longer be ignored. I also taken into consideration your previously spotless record and for this reason, am giving you an opportunity to appeal my decision. I expect you in my office at eight, sharp. Have a pleasant afternoon, Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry,’ Lily said, tremulously.
‘What did you do?’ James asked, wrapping an arm around her.
‘I don’t know. That’s the thing I can’t work out.’
‘That’s fine. You’ll go to Dumbledore’s office tonight and sort things out-’ An ear-splitting scream came from downstairs.
‘Petunia,’ Lily said, throwing back her covers. She snatched her wand from the bedside table and dashed out of the room, James close behind, gripping his own wand.
‘For Merlin’s sake!’ Sirius was saying as they skidded into the kitchen. ‘They’re owls, Petunia, not Dragons.’
‘Is everything all right?’ Lily asked breathlessly. Petunia whimpered at the sight of the wands. Vernon muttered something about freaks.
‘It’s fine,’ Sirius said, rolling his eyes. ‘Put those away before she passes out.’ James and Lily put their wands away and sat down.
‘I’ve told you about having those birds in the house,’ Mrs Evans told her daughter sternly. ‘I don’t like them near the food ot the furniture. They’re dirty, dirty creatures.’ Mr Evans, James noticed, was feeding both “dirty” owls a piece of his toast.
‘Sorry, Mum,’ Lily said.
‘So...’ Sirius muttered, leaning closer to James, ‘you two took a long time coming down...’
James rolled his eyes and elbowed Sirius in the ribs. ‘Not for that reason.’ Sirius’ eyebrows rose. ‘I’ll explain later.’
‘All right,’ Sirius said. James knew he’d be held to that. He passed James a letter. ‘The owls were here for us,’ he said, sounding a little confused.
‘Thanks,’ James said, flipping his envelope. The seal was torn but it appeared to have had the Hogwarts crest on it.
‘Did you open this?’ James asked. Sirius shook his head, tearing into his own. A moment later, Sirius growled. ‘Paddy?’
‘It’s a warning for misuse of magic in the presence of muggles!’ the shaggy haired Marauder said indignantly. ‘I have to meet McGonagall at seven-fifty tonight to explain why I shouldn’t be expelled!’ Lily and James shared a look. Still grumbling to himself, Sirius glanced up at James. ‘What’s yours about?’
Swallowing, James pulled the letter out of its envelope, scanning the contents. ‘It’s like yours, Lils,’ he murmured, ‘but I have to meet Dumbledore at the same time Sirius is meeting Minnie.’
‘Have you done anything?’ Lily asked.
James shook his head. ‘I can’t think of anything.’ Mrs Evans put a loaded plate of eggs down in front of him. ‘Thank you,’ he said with a smile, but he wasn’t really hungry anymore.
* * *
‘Get out of my seat,’ Sirius grumbled, nudging Andy Turpin out of an armchair. The fifth year was Sirius’ fellow Beater on the Gryffindor Quidditch Team and knew Sirius too well to bother arguing. He gave Sirius, Lily and James a wave and disappeared up the dormitory stairs.
‘You could have said please,’ Lily said, seating herself on the couch beside James.
‘It’s my chair,’ Sirius said, grinning. ‘Everyone but Prongs seems to know that.’
‘It’s my chair,’ James muttered.
‘Of course it is,’ Lily said, patting his hand. She looked up and rolled her eyes. ‘Sirius, would you stop pacing and sit down? You made such a fuss over that chair and now you aren’t even using it.’ Sirius continued to pace in front of the fire. ‘Sirius, I said sit!’
Sirius sat immediately and James burst out laughing. ‘Good boy,’ he said. Sirius scowled. ‘Roll over.’
‘I sleep in the bed next to yours, Prongs,’ Sirius reminded him, glaring.
‘Point taken,’ James said, shutting up. Lily checked the clock on the wall. It was seven-thirty.
‘There’s absolutely nothing you can think of that you’ve done?’ Sirius asked, agitated.
‘Nothing,’ Lily said, still unable to decide whether she was more upset or confused over the whole ordeal.
‘Nothing recently. I think we’ve been framed.’ Lily nodded, unable to disagree.
Sirius made a face. ‘What am I supposed to say? “I’m sorry, Minnie, but he really doesn’t deserve to have an eyebrow.”? That’s all I did for Merlin’s sake!’
‘What did you do?’
‘Moony?’ James and Sirius asked together. Remus hugged them both, grinning half-heartedly.
‘What are you doing here? Term doesn’t start for another week,’ Lily said, standing up to hug him too.
Remus pulled a piece of parchment out of his jacket pocket. ‘I got a letter from McGonagall,’ he said grimly. ‘Apparently, I’m up for expulsion.’
‘Same,’ Sirius said.
‘What?’ Remus asked, chocolate eyes wide. ‘What for?’
‘Misusing magic around muggles. I vanished Vernon’s eyebrow.’
‘Surely that’s only worth a warning?’ Remus asked, lips twitching.
‘Apparently not. And Lily and James have been demoted.’
‘You’re joking,’ Remus said. James shook his head.
‘All we need is Peter to be expelled for eating too much cheese and-’
‘Actually,’ Peter said coming up behind them, making Lily jump, ‘I have to see McGonagall regarding my last Transfiguration mark.’ He sat down heavily on Lily’s other side.
‘Your mark was good though,’ James said, frowning.
‘Maybe it was too good?’ Peter suggested timidly. ‘Did I hear you say you were expelled?’
‘About to be,’ Remus and Sirius said.
‘Something’s not right,’ Lily said. ‘Don’t you think it’s too much of a coincidence that we’re all here at the same time on the same day?’
Everyone else but Remus shrugged. ‘What are you thinking?’ he asked.
‘I don’t know. But I haven’t done anything,’ she said, ‘and James hasn’t done anything bad enough to merit the loss of his badge.’
‘I wasn’t even given a reason for my expulsion,’ Remus said thoughtfully.
‘You think this is a ploy?’ James asked. Lily thought for a moment, her conviction growing with each second that passed.
‘I do. At a stretch I could have believed you and I lost our badges for something and that Sirius was in trouble for hexing Vernon-’
‘But that Rem’s in trouble and Peter needs to discuss homework at the same time? You’re right,’ James conceded. ‘Something’s up.’
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