Lily Evans paced the floor of the Common Room with agitation. It had been hours since the last student had arrived back from the Christmas holidays but she had not seen Chris among the arrivals. She moved across the room, a slight frown on her forehead, wondering where Chris was. The window of the Common Room clearly indicated that it was well past midnight and the eerie silence in the room accompanied with the crackle of the dying fire was a clear indication that the entire castle was asleep. But Lily couldn’t. She had already been annoyed at her sister and had wanted to talk to Chris; having not met him over the holidays. She had missed his presence a lot, and had yearned to get back to him. However, by this moment, her worries were doubled due to his absence.
She huffed loudly and sank into the chair next to the fire. She felt extremely helpless worrying about Chris and not being able to find out what had happened to him. She had asked his friends about his whereabouts but they had stated that they not seen him since before the holidays. Her question had worried them and they had gone looking for him until they too had to give up and go to sleep.
Leaning forwards and placing her head in her hands, she tried not to cry. The few days she had spent with her boyfriend before they had gone on vacation had been extremely tense for them. Even though neither of them would admit it, she was sure that they were drifting apart, desperately trying to hold onto each other but still unable to re-tie the loose knots in their relationship.
Her brain activity had gotten slow and she was almost asleep when her ears heard the distinctive sound of the portrait hole open and she bolted upright. There, standing in the middle of the common room, covered in snowflakes, stood Chris Parker.
“Chris!” She ran into his arms, gripping him tightly. “Where have you been?!”
His grip on her waist slackened and he moved away from her, sitting in front of the fire.
“Outside,” he replied. His voice sounded controlled and it seemed like he was seething inside. The coldness of his voice made her look at him closely and realise fully how different he looked. His posture was different as he sat there with his back arched; his hands were clenched into tight fists and his face was suffused with blood. Her eyes travelled to the black woollen cap he was wearing on his head, taking in his appearance which, despite his serious expression, looked extremely comical.
“What’s wrong, Chris?” She asked, moving forwards and sitting in the armchair next to his. “And why are you wearing that hat?”
He tilted his neck towards her, his penetrating gaze falling on her. They burned with an anger she had never seen in him and his whole body radiated pure rage as he raised his hand and took off his cap.
Lily burst out laughing. She couldn’t help it! He had already been looking so ridiculous to her that the sudden revelation of his green hair forced out her laughter, which she had been able to control before. The sound of her laughter carried through the entire room and somewhere in the Gryffindor tower, unknown to Lily, a teenager woke up.
Her laughter caused another reaction, one that she never would’ve expected. Chris Parker was on his feet the instant she had started giggling at his look and was looking daggers at her. The look he gave her caused her smile to falter and the laughter died in her throat.
“You think this is funny?!” He asked furiously.
“I’m sorry,” she leaned away from his seething form, “I couldn’t help it.” Lily looked and felt extremely guilty at her outburst.
“You couldn’t help it?” He leaned closer to her, “My life’s a mess, Lily! You’re laughing at the mess my life is in! You’re laughing at what you’ve done to me!”
“Me?” She questioned, confusion etched on her features. “What have I done? What are you talking about, Chris?”
The defensive edge in her voice fired him up even more.
“Oh please!” He exclaimed, “Could you STOP pretending for just a second?! You know full well what I’m talking about!”
She stood up. “No, I don’t.”
“I’m talking about my green hair! I’m talking about all my bloody possessions turning PINK! I’M TALKING ABOUT JAMES BLOODY POTTER!”
“This is about James Potter?” Lily couldn’t keep the shock out of her voice. She never could’ve imagined that Chris, of all people, would fall prey to Potter’s evil schemes. Chris’ calm demeanour had been one reason she had gotten so close to him in the first place and now, this sudden change in his attitude baffled her. She couldn’t believe that this was about James Potter only.
“Damn right; it’s about James Potter!” Chris spat, “It’s him who has been torturing me just because of his childish infatuation for you!”
The tears were coming back and Lily tried very hard to control them. Of course, Chris had known about that. Who didn’t? James didn’t try to hide it and she hadn’t ever tried to deny it either. She’d only been calling him names but when had she ever said that she did not like him back?
“That’s his problem,” she whispered, “Why are we arguing about that?” She looked up at him, her gaze questioning just as she saw his shoulders slump.
“Forget it,” he said suddenly, averting his gaze, “You’re not helping and we won’t get anywhere by yelling.” He made to turn around before she grabbed his arm.
“You’re not letting me help, Chris,” she said. She did not want him to leave everything like this; she knew that if he left now, it might be too late tomorrow. “Why are you letting him do this to you? To us?”
He had paused in his tracks and now, slowly, he turned back to her, moving his arm and gripping the hand she had laid there. His eyes expressed remorse and sadness and as she looked into them, threatened to drown in their depth, she saw a newfound guilt becoming apparent in them.
“I’ve tried really hard to not let him get to me,” he said, “But all that he does is push himself between us again and again, forcing me to control my anger every time he does something. This time, it was all too much,” he raised his left hand, which was not gripping hers and stroked her hair, “He’s doing all this to get to you, Lily.”
“I know,” she whispered, “He’s not going to succeed; I know that too.”
Chris cocked his head to the side, “Are you sure?”
Looking positively relieved and less stressed out instantly, he leaned down and placed a soft kiss on her lips before backing away and saying, “Good. We need to do something about my hair tomorrow; Merlin knows, I can’t go around school looking like this.” The grin on his face, even though forced, looked very nice after the frown and she couldn’t help but smile along with him.
“I’ll help you with it, I promise.”
“I’ll help you with it, I promise.”
The smile that lit up her face brought back life to her eyes and the room radiated with its intensity. However, James Potter, who was standing on the staircase leading up to the boys’ dormitory, could see through the facade.
She wasn’t happy. He knew that he had seen her reassure Parker and had seen her smile at him, but judging from her expression and her tense shoulders, he wondered if she actually believed in what she had told Parker. As soon as Parker had passed James on the staircase, barely seeing him as he went up, Evans had sat down in her chair, exhaling loudly. He stared at her staring at the dying fire, wondering what she was thinking. She looked so beautiful; her flaming red hair, falling over her shoulders onto her back; her eyes, brimmed with tears and her hands clenched together, unsure of what to do with them.
He did not understand. He had woken up by her laughter; by Lily's laughter. So what in the world was going on that her smile had morphed into tears? He had heard most of the conversation and couldn’t believe that this was happening because of him. Sure, he had wanted Parker to get pissed off but he had not expected him to take out his frustration on Evans. Thinking of Parker, his face curled into a disgusted expression; what kind of a man was he, yelling at a girl like that? Yelling at James' girl like that?
James had been about to intrude when he realised that Parker had dragged his name into the conversation too. Lily’s reaction on hearing his name and her disgust at the fact that he had succeeded in causing them to fight caused him to stop. He had looked over at them, now holding hands and staring at each other, and wondered. Was he really that big a git that Lily Evans, the kind, beautiful, generous Lily Evans, would blame him for their problems withoutthinking about it twice? Was he really worthy of that hate?
His eyes had been rooted on the couple as he saw them kiss and the familiar flame of jealousy had licked his insides. Now, Parker had left Lily, who had sunk into a chair looking like she was about to cry.
James stood rooted to his spot, his eyes fixed on the only girl that had ever mattered. Her face was scrunched up and he glimpsed a tear fall down her cheek and onto her clothes. More tears followed and then her entire frame racked with her sobs. His heart broke to look at her like that and it commanded him to go comfort her. However, his brain told him to stay where he was; she probably hated him for what had just happened and he did not want herto shout at him.
He watched her as each tear fell, wishing he could stop each from ever falling. They were too precious to be shed like that, especially for someone who did not respect her and her feelings. You’re one to talk, he said to himself, look what you’ve done; she’s crying because of you, knucklehead.
Time stopped at that moment. James Potter and Lily Evans were frozen in time, one falling in love and one falling out of it. She kept on crying for another few minutes and he stood there, staring at her affectionately, feeling more close to her than he had ever felt. The minutes passed ever so slowly for James; he was stuck in the moment, gazing at the beautiful girl he had always adored. He stared at her features, taking in her appearance for a millionth time. The almond shaped eyes that were saturated with tears attracted him the most; the colour of those eyes seemed to have a depth that no other pair of eyes could ever have. Her lips, which he longed to claim in a kiss, were parted slightly, sobs escaping them; her cheeks he wished he could wipe the tears off were red from the chill in the room; her red hair which had coloured his dreams ever since he had set eyes upon it, was resting on her shoulders, embracing her frame; her beautiful hands he yearned to clasp wiped her own tears as they fell; her delicate frame, the frame he wished to envelope in his arms, to comfort her, to support her, rocked as she cried. He took it all in, drinking it all in. The image would remain engraved in his mind forever.
The moment unfroze as Lily stood up, wiped her tears and raising her head high, and walked off towards the girls’ dormitory. James stood there for another few minutes.
Then, turning around James Potter vowed to himself that he would undo what he had done to Parker; only for Lily Evans’ sake. Because however much fun it was, it really was not worth her precious tears.
Their dormoitory door was open as James climbed the stairs back up. As he returned, the door creaked closed behind me and he heard someone move on the four poster next to him.
“Prongs, is that you?” The groggy voice of Remus travelled through the silence.
“Yeah,” he whispered in response. The image of Lily was still before his eyes and he had been concentrating on it too hard to realise that he had woken up Moony.
There was shuffling of bed sheets and the tired and worn face of Lupin emerged, staring at James.
“What’s wrong with you?” he asked.
James looked up at him, his eyes focusing slowly. “Nothing.”
“There is something wrong, Prongs, I can see it on your face,” Remus insisted.
James stood up suddenly and went over to sit beside Remus on his bed. The other teenager moved slightly to allow James to sink on the covers, closing his eyes.
“I just saw Parker and Evans arguing because of me,” he stated.
“And now, all I wanna do is reverse the spell I cast on that jerk,” he raised his right hand to allow it to rest on his forehead.
“Why would you do that?” Remus inquired, cocking his head to one side.
“Don’t you see?” James sat up, “They’re fighting because of what I did to him; he’s blaming her for what I’m doing!”
“And you think that she’ll blame you if he blames her?”
James smiled humourlessly, his eyes scrunching up, “Doesn’t she already?”
Remus couldn’t help grinning too. “True, true. But what I don’t get is, why does it matter now? You haven’t cared whether she blamed you or not in the past.”
“That’s the problem!” James exclaimed, exasperated. “I don’t know why I care about that factor all of a sudden. I don’t know why I wanted to comfort when she was crying because of me; I don’t know why I felt like I would start crying too.” His voice faded at the end of the sentence and Remus had to lean forward to catch the last words.
There was a momentary silence and then, suddenly, Remus Lupin burst into laughter. His voice boomed through the dormitory, his laugh sounding louder in the silence. James stared at him, perplexed.
“Hey!” Sirius Black at woken up.
“Watsgoinon?” Wormtail mumbled, sitting up.
“Prongs? Moony? What the hell are you doing?” Sirius asked from across the room. “Whoa,” now, he was out of bed, “You’re having a girl talk? Without me?” His voice was incredulous and mocking as he got out from under his covers and made his way towards Lupin’s bed.
“Shut up.” For some reason, James was mortified. Remus was still chuckling.
“Watcha talking about, eh?” Padfoot jumped onto Moony’s bed just as Peter sat on the other corner.
“This boy of ours here,” Remus began, “is in love!”
“What’s new about that?” muttered Sirius, disgruntled.
“The new thing is that he’s finally expressed it!”
“Oh come on!” James cried out, “Haven’t I been doing that since the past six years?”
“No, James,” Lupin was serious again, “You haven’t. Before it was simply a crush. You were obsessed with her; but now, you’re actually feeling something and you can’t explain what’s happening. When you acknowledged your love for her in front of her, that was only because you thought you were in love; now you know.”
James eyes had widened as he Remus talked and now he was staring at his friends as if he was utterly crazy.
“I hate feelings,” James and Sirius muttered simultaneously as Remus chuckled.
“I can’t bear this anymore; Merlin knows what you mean by all this Moony, because I seriously didn’t understand.” He said that and got up to get into his bed and muttered something that sounded something along the lines of ‘messing with my head with love talk’.
All four boys got into bed and as James placed his glasses onto the side table, Moony began laughing again.
Harry cursed under his breath as he made his way through the Hogwarts grounds out onto the street. He couldn’t believe how stupid and neglectful he had been. He had completely forgotten to keep check on Xenon’s activities and now, he was in Hogsmeade on a Hogsmeade weekend, clearly to meet someone from Hogwarts and Harry had been in the school, completely unaware of the meeting until he had finally remembered to check!
The thought of missing Xenon by seconds and not catching the person who was meeting him, made him quicken his footsteps. He could not comprehend why Dumbledore had allowed a Hogsmeade visit when Voldemort was at large and his Death Eaters were roaming the streets unhindered. Dumbledore also had to be informed about the student meeting Xenon today. Surely, the Headmaster realised that by allowing a trip, he was giving the traitor a great opportunity.
Turning onto the street, he shivered slightly. It was February but a chilly wind blew biting at his face and penetrating his two layers of clothes. The street was crowded with students, all enjoying their day out of the school. Harry cast a look around, trying to see if he could locate Ginny in the mass of people but she was nowhere in sight. Deciding that he would have to do this alone as he could not afford to wait for Ginny, he moved off the main street and turned onto a side lane which barely had any shops and seemed to have been abandoned.
The few buildings that were still standing looked very old and seemed to be on the verge of collapsing. It seemed like he had stepped into a black and white world; the dull lifeless street contrasted with the lively street he had just left behind and he couldn’t help but get an ominous feeling. Everything around him appeared dead. There were barely any trees and it gave the impression of a lost city which had suffered from a huge catastrophe and had lost everything to it. The buildings had fallen to ground, the houses collapsed and the trees uprooted leaving almost bare land behind. For a moment, he stared at his surroundings wondering why he hadn’t known of this place or why he hadn’t seen it in his present.
There were very few buildings standing up and even fewer looked like they could’ve have been inhabited. Looking at all of them, he went with his instinct and chose the three which seemed the most probable places for two people to meet; he knew that Xenon had to be in one of the three.
He ruled out the first one as soon as he saw the blocked entrance and the caved in roof. He knew that small things such as these wouldn’t have bothered a wizard or a witch but he was positive that The Muggle would’ve avoided that place. Moving on, he went inside the second one only to discover a few mice scuttling around in the corners and few old newspapers littered across the floor. A fine film of dust covered the rotting wooden floor; it was evident that that no one had stepped through it in years. So he moved onto the third which seemed to be the most solid and took a deep breath. This was it. He knew deep down that he did not want to face Xenon at the moment but he also knew that if he did not go inside and catch his informer this time, he may not get a chance again.
He released his breath and stepped into the wooden shack, going to catch a person he had not received any orders to capture or investigate. He had been sent to stop Xenon but if he did not stop the student he knew that stopping Xenon would be even more difficult if not impossible.
“Homenum revelio,” he whispered, raising his wand. There was a slight shift of air but other than that, nothing happened. Harry lowered his wand, confused. He had been so sure that there would be someone in there that he had not even considered the possibility that he could be late. He knew that the person was already on their way back to Hogwarts.
Back to Hogwarts! Harry shook his head in frustration and slapped his forehead with his right hand, scolding himself for being so incessantly stupid. Obviously! If it’s someone from Hogwarts as Dumbledore seems to know, they would go back there after meeting Xenon!
His feet couldn’t carry him any faster than he was running now. Turning the corner of the alley, he made his way back to the school, forcing himself to move faster and all the time cursing the fact that he could not use the Honeydukes’ shortcut because of the Marauders. The students were heading back to the school now, as the daylight slowly began to fade. Up ahead, right before he turned towards the path for Hogwarts, he saw Ginny’s brown hair, walking along with a long mane of red. His breath came out in gasps now and as he moved past Ginny, he grabbed her hand and yelled, “Come on!” She lurched because of the sudden pull and then he heard her footsteps a step behind him, fighting to keep up with his pace.
“What’s wrong?” she asked, slightly out of breath.
She did not question him further, concentrating on running.
The wrought-iron gates of the school loomed up ahead and they moved into the grounds. Harry slowed down now, jogging on his feet as Ginny finally caught up with him. The main doors were open, light pouring onto the stairs.
Before he could climb the stairs however, he bumped into Chris Parker. His hair was back to its original and he was grinning in his normal, black coloured Hogwarts’ robes.
“Harry, I’m so sorry!” He had also been running, “I didn’t see you there.”
“No problem. Everything alright?”
Parker nodded and said, “I was going out to call Hagrid. I just saw one of his infamous Blast-Ended Skrewts in the corridor right up ahead. Thought I’d let him know rather than dealing with it myself,” he grinned at them.
“Parker!” A voice yelled at Chris from behind him. A young man stood there, a prefect badge gleaming on his chest. “Hurry up and get on with what you were doing! This is no time for chitchat!”
“Alright alright, I’m going!” And he ran off.
“Hagrid loves the bloody creatures that much?” Ginny muttered as they entered the castle and Harry looked around. “I can’t believe him.”
Harry snorted and grinned down at her. They saw Chris’ friends Kevin and Mark also follow him out into the grounds.
“Whoa,” said Harry, “Guess, it’s pretty big Skrewt.”
The Entrance Hall had more students present than he had expected. The students who had not been to Hogwarts were coming down, most probably looking for something to eat or welcome their friends back. Those who had just returned stood in the Hall, still conversing. All in all, there was a rush of students and Harry knew that finding the right person was pointless. He was about to give up on his search when he spotted a few students, standing away from the rest of the crowd, gathered by the staircase leading down to the basement and talking to each other attentively.
“Slytherins,” said Ginny, her eyes narrowing. “They were in Hogsmeade. I saw them there.”
“Not just Slytherins,” Harry lead her up towards their own common room. She linked her arm with his. “Snape and his gang. I think I saw Regulus Black in there too.”
“Why were you chasing them? Do you think that they’re the ones working with Xenon?”
“It’s possible. Though I can’t imagine why Voldemort would want to work with a Muggle. Plus, Xenon wants to overthrow Voldemort as far as I know,” Harry’s brow furrowed.
“Voldemort’s off the radar these days,” Ginny too, looked worried, “Do you think Xenon’s trying to locate him by talking to his minions?”
“It’s probable,” Harry shrugged, “But then this means that somebody from Slytherin is helping Xenon? But why?” He frowned, confused more than ever.
“No idea,” Ginny said, “I think this is some sort of a plan. The only thing I don’t understand is why Voldemort or the Slytherins would agree to talk to a Muggle. Xenon cannot be capable of such convincing skills especially without magic.”
“I think that he’s capable of anything,” Harry sighed, grumpy. “I can’t believe we’ll have to keep an eye on four more people now.”
“You can rule out Snape,” said Ginny reasonably, just as they stepped onto the seventh floor corridor and turned towards their Common Room.
Harry grinned, amused at her belief. Looking at her with his smiling eyes, he said, “My mother is still alive Ginny. I don’t think he has started working for the Headmaster just yet. He’s still on the suspect list.”
“Your mother is alive, you say?” said a voice behind them, “I thought she had passed away.”
Harry and Ginny whirled around, surprised, only to spot Sirius Black leaning against the wall they had just passed.
A/N: Hey guys! So here's the next chapter of my story. I know I've been really slow on updates and I'm really sorry for that! I just hope that you haven't tired of waiting and are still sticking to this story! Firstly, I just wanna add a shout-out to the lovely magnolia_magic for helping me with the details of this chapter! Thanks Maggie! You're amazing! Go read her stories guys, she's a brilliant writer too! =)
So, did you like it? Hate it? Was it good? Bad? How bad/good? Do you think I need to change something? Any ideas for improvement? Feel free to say anything to me in your reviews. The poor little box down there gets lonely and needs your reviews. So please review! They make my day and give me new energy to keep going with my story.