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Chapter 3 : Unexpected Owls
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Remus did well, Peter and Hanna were brought down by their abysmal Potions and Divination grades. Sirius, well, he would have done well if he hadn’t answered questions like “Name all the properties of moonstones and their uses in the magical world.” with I sure don’t know, but I bet Moony does.
When Sirius had told them about what he had done after the exam Remus had cuffed him over the head hard for it. Nursing a his aching head, Sirius walked up to James and stage-whispered, “I think it’s his time of the month.” Everybody who had overheard laughed as Remus then proceeded to chase him out of the castle and into the lake.
Sirius hadn’t come back to the common room until Remus was asleep, by that time he was still soaking wet and in danger of catching hypothermia, he had to go see Madam Pomfrey, who gave him so strong a pepper-up potion that he was literally smoking at the ears for hours afterwards. Hanna was so overcome with worry about him, Lily had to stun her to get her to fall asleep. It was technically against the rules, but Lily didn’t care anymore by that point.
The morning after exams had finished, the students rolled out of bed to find a larger than usual breakfast in the Great Hall. The six friends tucked into their food as the mail came by. Along with Lily’s usual Morning Prophet, an officious, somber looking owl stopped by her. She stroked his head to reward him for bringing the mail to someone he had never met before and untied the letter from his leg. After that was done, the owl took off as though afraid it would be hurt if it stayed.
No one noticed the tears pouring down Lily’s face as she read her letter until James realized that she hadn’t spoken since the owl came. All of a sudden, she let out a horrific scream and ran from the room sobbing. All the heads in the Great Hall turned towards the heavy doors that slammed shut behind her. James lunged across the table, snatched up the letter she had left behind, read the first few lines and ran after Lily. Hanna grabbed the now forgotten letter and read it out loud to the remaining Marauders, along with all the eavesdropping Gryffindors.
“Ms. Lillian Evans, we regret to inform you that your parents were killed in a raid on Muggle town by Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters. Their funeral service will be held by the Ministry of Magic on the noon of June 20th. You have been placed in the custody of your magical guardian, Mrs. Dorea Potter. Sincerely yours, Cornelius Fudge (Department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes)” The entire table was shocked. No one had any idea of how to comfort Lily when Hanna stood up and announced “I’m going to go find them. He may have been hexed unrecognizable, besides, she needs comfort, not some boy asking her to go out with him.”
With that Hanna imitated Lily and James and ran out of the Great Hall. The buzz of conversation slowly returned to normal as Dumbledore gave a small shake of his head to Professor McGonagall, who had just stood up to find her students. “Lily’s responsible, Minerva. She won’t do anything she will regret.” “It’s not her I’m worried about, Headmaster.” she responded with a small sigh. Her underlying sarcasm flew over Dumbledore’s head and flapped around for a while until he realized what she meant and chuckled to himself.
Meanwhile, Lily was running across the grounds with her vision obscured by tears. She knew that James had followed her, but whether or not he had read the letter didn’t matter to her right now. She stopped beneath the tree that offered an almost totally hidden meeting place, they had been using it to meet secretly during the day.
You couldn’t see them unless you were swimming in the lake which very, very few people ever attempted, and even then you wouldn’t be able to tell who it was if Lily covered her hair. She sat on the rock that formed a natural seat and curled up her body until she couldn’t wind herself any tighter. Just as she was about to break from the inner tension, she felt a warm hand on her side, James.
He propped her head on his lap and covered her body with his cloak to protect her from the early morning mist that curled off the lake. She felt a hand stroke the side of her face and couldn’t hold the tension anymore, it released itself in wild, gulping sobs. He softly stroked her hair as she cried her heart out until she relaxed herself beside him and he realized that she had cried herself to exhaustion. He conjured a warm, thick blanket and some pillows, and made a soft nest for the two of them in the hollow of the tree where they sat.
He continued to stroke her face long after she was asleep. The sun rose over the mountains and cast them into deep shade, it got warmer and he removed the blanket that covered them as he was beginning to overheat. Over the water he heard a weak, tinny voice shouting their names, “Lily! James! Hello! Where are you?” and recognized that it belonged to Sirius’ girlfriend Hanna. He was torn between answering her, which would lead to the discovery of their hiding place, or to let her continue searching until she gave up, which would leave him to deal with Lily when she woke up.
He was spared the choice as he watched a procession of Merpeople go past. Merchieftainess Murcus was followed by many attendees, and by the very few words of Mermish James knew he could hazard a guess that they were off to either attack the giant squid, or drag Professor Slughorn underneath the water. He was guessing it wasn’t the latter.
A small, shaken sounding voice spoke up, “Even in the middle of death, life moves on. Is it wrong that on the worst day of my life, I should be even a little happy?” James twisted his head to look at the pale girl in his lap, her eyes were still closed and her face was a blank mask. “Why would you be happy, Lils?” he asked her confused. “You’re here with me.” she replied. Neither of them were seen for any of their classes for the rest of the day.
By dinnertime everyone was extremely worried, the two best students in the school, ones the Dark Lord had an interest in, had vanished. Hanna and Sirius couldn’t eat and were holding hands for comfort. Remus’ face was paler than usual and he was very quiet. Peter, of course acted like nothing was wrong, and continued to worry about how he would break the news to his friends later that night.
Just as the desserts disappeared from the table, leaving nothing but a few crumbs behind, the great wooden doors swung open. Everyone turned and was stunned speechless as they saw the two students come in. James had his arm wrapped around a certain redhead and they were a little closer than it was necessary to walk, she was curled into his body and was smiling.
They shuffled over to the Gryffindor table and sat down. They weren’t hungry, the young house-elf Dobby knew of their secret and had brought them some food so they wouldn’t mind if they missed dinner. Their friends all turned towards them and gave them a questioning look, but Lily just buried her head in James’ chest and didn’t make eye contact.
As they looked at James, they didn’t see the triumph that they had expected, instead they saw worry laced with happiness. This was rare, normally James was very hard to read. Dinner ended and the students exploded into the corridor, intent of getting to their dorms for a good night’s rest, and to talk about the recent romantic developments in Hogwarts. All the Marauders went up the stairs, but only one was wondering what was going on. Peter was the last in and as soon as the door closed they plopped down on the four beds in the dorm.
By a happy coincidence, there were only four Gryffindor boys in their year, which allowed them to always have the dorm to themselves which came in useful when Moony went on his monthly excursions. Sirius had closed his eyes and was leaning against the richly carved bedpost when he asked, “Does anyone want to tell me what’s going on?” The question had been directed at James, but Peter spoke up. ‘Guys, I have a confession to make,” they didn’t pay much attention, Peter usually had a confession of some sort almost every week. Last time it had been that he was the one who had stolen Sirius’ PB&J sandwich. “ I’m leaving.” This secured the other three boys interest on him, and he didn’t like having so many stares at him.
The word in James’ was numb, but not as bad as it would have been if Sirius or Remus were going.
“My dad’s sick, he has cancer and there moving him to America for treatment. They don’t think he’s gonna live out the year. I want to spend time with him while I... while I can.”
The normally pale boy’s rotund face was shining with sweat and looked as though it could fall in on itself.
“When?” Remus asked, his face tight.
“In three days.” Peter replied.
“We’ll miss you.” This came, surprisingly, from Sirius.
“I’ll miss you too.”
“I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.” This was the groups official motto and they said it every night before they went to sleep.
They turned themselves into their beds and drew the hangings, no one felt like talking tonight.
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