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Chapter 50 : The Pieces in their Place
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This chapter and the next chapter I originally wrote as all one chapter but in the end I felt it was too long and its such an important enough event that I didn't want you to get bogged down in it. The next chapter with the actual attack will be up shortly. As I already hinted at earlier there will be a character death so feel free to begin to speculate on that in the comments.
Thanks again for your continued support and I hope you enjoy!
Caradoc Dearborn could hardly wait for the Hogsmede weekend. In fact, he would wager that he was as excited as his students. The new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher was not much for the small town itself, but loved exploring the mountain trails beyond. He had heard reports that several of the marshy springs on the trails were home to large nests of Hinkypunks, and he was eager to get some wild ones to show his third year class. He planned on setting out early that morning, and not returning to the village until well into the afternoon. And so, Professor Dearborn would not be in Hogsmede on Saturday.
Madame Hooch wished that she could be enthusiastically looking forward to the Hogsmede weekend, as so many of the faculty and students around her were doing, but she would not be going to Hogsmede this weekend. Many of the first years, and for that matter several of the second years, were still below standard flyers, and had petitioned her for extra flying lessons. Normally it was not the type of thing she consented to, but in these dark and dangerous times she felt honor-bound to do anything she could that could help the students escape close calls, and if that meant giving up a weekend to help them become more proficient flyers, well she would do it. And so, Madame Hooch would not be in Hogsmede on Saturday.
Severus smiled as he made his way out of Professor Slughorn’s office. The Professor had just agreed to help him begin the process of applying for his Potion’s Master Licensure this Saturday while everyone else was in Hogsmede. This accomplished two things, and he hoped desperately would also accomplish a third. First, it gave him a firm alibi for Saturday, he would be with a professor, and clearly unaware of what was occurring in Hogsmede. Secondly, it would ensure that Professor Slughorn, never one to pass up a trip to a bar, would not be in Hogsmede on Saturday. And thirdly, Snape had planted the idea in Slughorn’s head to have Lily begin work on her licensure on Saturday as well. He was desperate that Lily not be in Hogsmede on Saturday for the bloodbath.
Professor Babbling who taught Ancient Runes glanced up at the two Slytherin students. Irving Wilkes, a seventh year, and Kennice Selwyn, a sixth year Prefect, who were both in her NEWT level classes for their respective years. Both, who were usually at the top of their respective classes, had done unnaturally poorly on their exams earlier in the week. Both were now standing before her asking for her help, asking that they be allowed to come in on Saturday, offering to give up their trips to Hogsmede, for additional help in understanding their material.
She hated to give up her own Hogsmede day, but if the two students who couldn’t go but once a month were willing to make the sacrifice for the benefit of their education, well then she could certainly agree to stay behind them and give them the extra assistance. And so she agreed, heartily.
As they left the classroom, Selwyn and Wilkes shared sly smiles. They had accomplished their assignments from Snape. Professor Babbling would not be in Hogsmede on Saturday.
Kennice had a second task that Snape had trusted her with, but it would have to wait until Friday night.
Evan Rosier had failed to turn in two consecutive assignments to Professor Sinistra. He had also failed to show up for his detention with her. He sighed as he made his way out of her office. To say she had been angry would be an understatement. She had demanded that he stay on Saturday and make up his detention with her instead of going to Hogsmede. She had even taken the step of removing his name from Filch’s list to make sure he couldn’t sneak out. What a shame he thought sarcastically as he made his way down the hall. It seemed that Professor Sinistra would be missing a visit to Hogsmede on Saturday on account of him.
Potions class. It had always been one of Lily’s favorite classes, but she couldn’t help but feel that as of late things had become slightly uncomfortable in that dungeon. This shift in atmosphere had coincided with her beginning to date James, and she had more than a slight suspicion that the two things were related. Part of the problem was the seating arrangements.
Remus and Peter had both dropped potions following their fifth year, so James and Sirius were the only two Marauders in the class. They shared a table with Lily, Alice, and Frank. To the right of their table, was the Hufflepuff table of Aidan, Dorcas, Katie Finch, and Justin Fletchley. That table was not the problem. They were all on friendly terms with each other, even James and Aidan which Lily was relieved about.
The problems were to the left and to the front. The Ravenclaw’s sat behind them and while Lily and Alice both found Terris Boot and his fellow prefect girlfriend Marlowe Fawcett to be more than a little annoying, they pretty much just ignored each other. But to the left, sat the Slytherins. All of them could be considered problematic, but one of them was particularly so. She felt Snape’s eyes baring down upon her and James. And only slightly less discomforting was Professor Slughorn’s sad eyes as his head swiveled between her and Snape, sometimes sighing exaggeratedly. She felt like she was a character in one of Petunia’s ridiculous muggle soap operas, with Snape glaring at her and Slughorn sighing every few minutes.
Severus Snape hated James Potter, more so now than he ever had before. He wanted nothing more than to attack him at this very moment, wipe that smug smile right off his arrogant face. But, with the attack on Hogsmede looming he couldn’t risk drawing any unwanted attention to himself. So instead, he just had to hope that the Dark Lord would take care of Potter for him on Saturday. If Snape had his way, James Potter would not be returning from Hogsmede on Saturday and soon he would have Lily back to himself, the way it was supposed to be.
Lily waited after class. Professor Slughorn had asked to speak with her about something. She had no idea what it could be about, and sincerely hoped he wasn’t going to bring up her relationship with James. But with all his recent sighing, she really couldn’t be sure.
“Ah, Lily, Lily, Lily,” Professor Slughorn said as he made his way over to her. “I wanted to let you know about a special opportunity. On Saturday, instead of going to Hogsmede, I’m offering a few select students who I think have the ability to pursue their Master of Potion’s License to come here and work on what they would want their research project to be on, begin the paperwork, and all of the other necessities to begin the process.”
“Oh, wow,” Lily said, not quite sure how to refuse without offending Professor Slughorn. “I’m flattered that you think I’m capable of such an esteemed process, but I’m not at all sure that I really want to obtain my licensure.”
“Why ever not?” Professor Slughorn asked clearly baffled. “You’re gifted at potions! One of the best I’ve ever taught.”
“I’m sure it’s something that I would be interested pursuing later, but to be honest right now my focus is more on what I can do in terms of the war. I’ve been talking to Madame Pomfrey about learning some emergency medicinal skills and stuff that could actually be of use to me and my friends.”
“I see,” Professor Slughorn said nodding. Lily could tell that he was attempting to gather his thoughts in order to launch a counter-attack.
“Well, thanks again, Professor for the opportunity. I better go though, I think James is waiting for me out in the hall we have some Head duties we have to take care of.”
“Of course,” Professor Slughorn said, sighing sadly once again.
“So how come you don’t want to go ahead and look into this license thing?” James asked as he played with a string of Lily’s hair in his hand. They were lying on the couch in the Head’s common room, in front of the fire place. Lily’s head was resting lightly on James’ chest.
“I don’t know,” she said turning slightly to look up at him. “It just seems like a waste of time right now with everything that’s happening. What good is a potion’s license really going to do? I’m not exactly going to be able to brew a potion that’s going to fix all the problems in the world right now.”
“You’d be safer though,” James said quietly.
“And you and Alice and Frank and Sirius and Remus and Peter and Aidan and everyone else I care about are going to be out there risking their lives! I’m not going to stand by and sit in some laboratory somewhere and be brewing potions while the rest of you are getting killed.”
“Yeah well you can’t blame me for wishing you would,” James said with a smile.
“Yeah, but I wouldn’t exactly be Lily Evans if I did that, now would I?” She replied turning completely to look down on him now.
“No, you wouldn’t be. And I certainly wouldn’t want that.” He said pulling her lips down to his, and no more was said about her potion’s license or anything else for quite a while.
Professor Vector sighed as she surveyed the student standing before her. Mulciber had been ill and missed the latest exam. She hated to seemingly punish the young man for being sick, but she simply could not avoid having him take the make-up exam on Saturday. She knew he would be upset at having to miss a trip to Hogsmede, and to be honest she was upset with having to miss a trip there herself, but work and school had to come first.
Kennice Selwyn put on her most winning smile, one that had earned her many admirers, as she knocked on Professor Flitwick’s office door late on Friday afternoon.
“Miss Selwyn,” Professor Flitwick exclaimed, “what a lovely surprise! What can I do for you this evening?” Kennice Selwyn was his best sixth year student; her knowledge of Charms was rivaled only by Lily Evans.
“Sorry to bother you, Professor,” she said sweetly. “But something’s been bothering me about the Aguamenti Charm.”
“Come in, come in!” Professor Flitwick squeaked! “You know I always enjoy our theoretical discussions! I just wish you and Miss Evans could put those keen minds together,” he said. And then seeing the look on her face added, “Of course, I know that Gryffindors and Slytherins avoid one another on principle, but still you and Miss Evans would have fascinating conversations.”
“Would you like some candy Professor?” Kennice asked as she sat down. She knew he had a sweet tooth and would never refuse several pieces of his favorite candy while they chatted. She even planned on having a few herself, knowing that Snape was waiting for her in the Common Room with the antidote. “My mother sent them for me,” she lied, “but I couldn’t possibly eat all of them by myself.”
“Why thank you!” Professor Flitwick said, helping himself to some of the candy. “These are my favorite!” She smiled, Snape’s research had been accurate. “So what is it that is bothering you about the charm?”
“I just don’t understand how magic can create water, but it can’t create food because of Gamp’s Law.”
“Ah, an interesting question indeed! I will pose another question to you: What else is water, other than a form of nourishment?”
“An element,” Kennice exclaimed. “Of course, I feel so silly for not seeing it! Magic can create fire so obviously it can create water!”
“Exactly,” Professor Flitwick said with a smile. “And don’t feel silly, only a keen mind could even think to ask such questions.”
“Well thank you, Professor,” Kennice said humbly. “I’ll leave you some candy to snack on tonight.”
She smiled as she made her way out into the corridor. She then made her way around the school carrying her big box of chocolate, making a point to offer it to a random mixture of students just as Snape had instructed. The potion within would metabolize throughout the night, by tomorrow morning those who had not taken the antidote brewed by Snape would manifest symptoms of a 24 hour stomach virus. No potion Madame Pomfrey gave them would work to cure it, it would just have to run its course and the Hogwarts matron would be forced to conclude it was just a nasty virus. Once the potion metabolized overnight, there would be no trace of it in their systems, either, so there would be no reason to suspect anything else.
She handed out the candy here and there, realizing that those who received her poisoned gift were in fact very lucky—their lives would be spared.
Walden MacNair smiled as he made his way out of Professor Kettleburn’s office late Friday night. The Professor had forgotten, as always, to lock his door when he went to bed, just like he would discover very shortly that he had also “forgotten” to bolt the cages of both the fire crabs and the flesh-eating slugs. He would awaken to quite a surprise in an hour or so when both creatures had made their way up on to his bed. Oh dear, he thought to himself. It seems like Professor Kettleburn will have some new injuries by tomorrow morning. That man really should be more careful about remembering to lock things up. Too bad he won’t be in any condition to go to Hogsmede tomorrow.
Mulciber was gifted at several things. The first was the imperious curse, but Snape hadn’t wanted to risk that. The second was memory charms, specifically erasing or implanting fake memories. He was so gifted at this, that he could even implant memories in ghosts—and for that matter more importantly, poltergeists. He had waited for Peeves to come along, caught him in a trapping charm, and then implanted the necessary memories, before removing this memory from his mind. Mulciber thought it unlikely that Dumbledore would question the poltergeist, once the havoc was wreaked, most people would assume it was the result of Peeves, but just in case, Snape had wanted Peeves to be ready with a full confession.
The first act Peeves would be blamed for was in reality carried out by the Carrows. Once Madame Pince had gone to sleep, and Filch and the cat had been sedated, the Carrows had fun knocking over several bookshelves, smashing some tables in the library, and copying a Peeves trademark, writing rude words on the wall. Madame Pince never really went to Hogsmede, but no chances were being taken. She certainly wouldn’t be going tomorrow; she would be busy all day cleaning this mess up.
“Peeves” also smashed up the Transfiguration Department, as well as smashing up two greenhouses; these tasks were in reality performed by Mulciber and Regulus Black, but no one needed to know that. The result being that on Saturday morning an irate Professor McGonagall and an irate Professor Sprout were both forced to conclude that they would not be going to Hogsmede.
Hagrid swept the floor of his hut eagerly. He couldn’t wait until it was time for the students to make their way to Hogsmede. His new friend Walden was not going to Hogsmede today. He had owled Hagrid the other day and asked Hagrid to skip a trip to Hogsmede this Saturday. Apparently, Walden had managed to get his hands on a very rare and dangerous creature and wanted Hagrid’s help to care for it. Hagrid didn’t know yet what it was, because obviously that wasn’t the type of thing you could put in writing, but Walden had been giving him little clues all week. Hagrid suspected that it was Graphorn. Graphorns lived in the mountains, though Hagrid had never been able to find one despite looking. Their skin was even tougher than dragons; they had two huge dangerous horns, and were considered some of the most dangerous land-dwelling of magical beasts. Hagrid hoped he had not misread the clues and gotten his hopes up for nothing. This would be well worth a missed trip to Hogsmede.
Lily woke up, excited for the first Hogsmede weekend. This would be her and James’ first “official” date. She and Alice had spent quite a while planning out her outfit for today. She would be wearing jeans and a forest green peasant blouse that hung off her shoulder. The color mirrored the color of her eyes, and emphasized her bright red hair, and cream colored skin that was sprinkled with freckles across her shoulders. They had also decided she would wear her hair half-up, off her face (and her shoulders as Alice was adamant that it added to the sex appeal).
She couldn’t keep the smile off her face as she showered, dressed, added a light amount of makeup, and fixed her hair. Today she would be spending the day with James Potter, her boyfriend. And that thought, was enough to keep the smile affixed on her face.
James grinned at his reflection in the mirror. He ruffled his hair once more, making sure it looked like he had just come off of his broom, and grabbed his jacket.
Regal made her way out of fifth year girls’ dormitory and toward the seventh year one. She felt like a herd of raging centaurs were stampeding in her stomach. She had been waiting to go on a date with Peter for more than a year, and finally the day was here and she had no idea what to do. She knocked on the door, hoping very much that Daphne would help her to settle herself down.
“Hi Regal,” Alice said as she opened the door.
“Hi Alice,” Regal said.
“Are you excited for your date with Peter?”
“Sort of, more nervous,” Regal answered honestly.
“Don’t be, everything will be fine. Good luck, I’ve got to go make sure Lily is following my instructions on her appearance today,” Alice said with a wink.
“Okay, good luck with that,” Regal said laughing as well, as Lily wasn’t exactly one to just follow orders.
“Hey sweetie,” Daphne said as she emerged from behind her curtains where she had been dressing.
“You have to help me I’m freaking out!”
“Calm down, of course I’ll help you. We already picked out your outfit earlier in the week, so why don’t you go get it and bring it here and I’ll help you get ready?”
“Thank you, thank you thank you!” Regal gushed.
“No problem,” Daphne said with a smile.
“Regal, if you want I can do your nails for you while Daphne does your hair and makeup.” Mary said sweetly from where she was sitting on her bed flipping through Witch Weekly.
“Are you sure it’s no trouble?”
“Not at all,” Mary said with a smile.
Daphne and Mary went to work on Regal. For her date with Peter she was wearing a royal purple knee length dress with long sleeves for the cool October day. Daphne brushed her hair out, applied her various Wonder Witch hair care products, until her hair resembled black silk. Mary painted her nails soft lavender borrowed from Daphne’s collection.
Hestia wandered in just as Mary was finishing up Regal’s nails.
“Oh my gosh!” Hestia enthused, “You look so pretty!”
“Thanks, Hess,” Regal said, blushing slightly.
“Are you excited? I’m so excited!” Hestia said, bouncing as she plopped herself down on Daphne’s bed.
“I think you’re excited enough for both you,” Daphne said with a grin.
“I can’t help it! I’ve listened for two years to tales about Hogsmede and now I finally get to go and experience it myself!”
“So what are you most excited about?” Regal said, relieved to be talking about something other than her date with Peter for a few moments.
“I don’t know… everything! I can’t decide what I want to do first. Should I go to the Three Broomsticks, or to Honeydukes, or Zonkos, or the Shrieking Shack? Or maybe I could corner Augie and steer him into Madame Puddifoot’s, or I could try the Hogshead. James and Sirius say lots of interesting things happen there.”
“Whoa, back up there a minute Sparky,” Daphne said, using her favorite nick name for Hestia who loved polka-dots, and when paired with her over-eager demeanor had led to Sirius once famously comparing her to a Dalmatian. “Since when are you and Pye an item again?”
“We’re not,” Hestia said slyly, “I’m just saying I wouldn’t be opposed to getting a cup of tea with him.”
“Sparky’s got a lot more than tea on her mind,” Regal said with a grin.
“Yup, she’s eying ‘Augie like a fire hydrant,” Daphne said with a smirk.
“Shut up!” Hestia said, shrieking with laughter and a little embarrassment as she threw a pillow from Daphne’s bed.
“Oi!” Daphne said, “Don’t mess up her hair that took me forever!” Mary, Hestia, and Regal all burst out laughing as Daphne attempted, but yet failed miserably, to look stern.
Daphne couldn’t put into words her gratitude that she had Mary and Hestia and Regal here with her. She didn’t doubt that the reason they were here, all of them together, keeping her busy, and making her laugh had every bit as much to do with the fact that James and Lily would be in Hogsmede together today, on a date, as it did with Regal’s date with Peter. And for that, she was thankful.
James plopped down onto his old bed in Gryffindor Tower, checking to make sure that Sirius wasn’t doing anything to make Peter more nervous than Peter undoubtedly was.
“Has he been behaving himself?” James asked quietly.
“About as well as could be expected, Remus has been watching him like a hawk.” Frank replied with a smile.
“Oi! What are you two whispering about over there?” Sirius asked with a grin as he checked his own flawless reflection carelessly in the mirror.
“Just how beautiful we think you look,” James said with an exaggerated wink.
“Well there’s no denying that,” Sirius replied cheekily.
“I’ll see you lot later, have fun today.” Frank said as he made his way out to meet up with Alice.
“I’m a bit surprised that someone that beautiful doesn’t have a date today though,” James said, addressing Sirius again.
“He thinks he has to babysit me since I don’t feel all that great,” Remus said with a shake of his head. The full moon was just a week or so away.
“I do not,” Sirius said. “I just thought we’d have more fun observing the two set of couples today. See who was having more luck, Wormy or Prongs,” he said with a laugh. And then turning to look at James added, “And if Wormy beats you I’m disowning you.”
“Hey, I don’t want you spying on me and Regal,” Peter said exasperatedly from where he was finishing getting ready.
“It sounds like you’ll be the one doing the babysitting, Moony.” James said with a nod to Remus.
“Aren’t I always,” Remus said with a grin.
It was just about time to go, but Regal was stalling. Daphne and Mary shared a knowing look.
“Hey, Hestia why don’t you and I head on down to Entrance Hall? That way you can be sure that you are all ready to experience your first Hogsmede trip,” Mary said.
“Oh, okay, good idea,” Hestia said. “I’ll see you guys later, good luck Regal!”
“So, what’s up?” Daphne said as she took a seat next to Regal.
“I’m just nervous,” Regal said with a sigh.
“That’s normal,” Daphne said.
“My stomach feels like it’s in knots and I feel like I can barely breathe.”
“I know,” Daphne said, “my stomach still feels like that sometimes when I look at James.”
“I don’t want to get hurt like you did,” Regal said quietly.
“I thought that might be what was making you so somber,” Daphne said, giving Regal a hug. “Listen to me Regal. My heart may be broken, but there is not a single second of my time with James that I would be willing to give back. You’ve liked Peter for a really long time; today you finally get to start living your dream. Don’t let fear of getting hurt, or even,” she said giving her friend a knowing look, “fear of letting me see you in love because you think it will only hurt me more, which it won’t it will make me happy, stop you from enjoying today.”
Regal was quiet for a moment, before giving Daphne a huge hug. Daphne could feel her relax and knew that she was going to be okay today.
“Thanks, Daphne,” Regal said.
“It’s what I’m here for, sweetie.”
Severus Snape smiled with anticipation as he made his way into the dungeon classroom where he had agreed to meet Professor Slughorn to begin work on his licensure.
“Severus my boy,” Professor Slughorn boomed in his typical jovial style.
“Professor,” Snape nodded in greeting.
“Would you like to start by working on the paper work or by planning out what you want your research project to be?”
“Shouldn’t we wait for Lily to get here before we begin?” Severus said as he tried to hide his anticipation of getting to see her on her own without Potter for the first time in so long.
“I’m afraid Miss Evans isn’t coming today,” Professor Slughorn said, shaking his head sadly. Severus felt as though a knife was slowly sinking into his chest.
“What?” he asked, his voice was almost a whisper.
“She isn’t as committed to obtaining her license as she used to be, such a shame too. She said something about it not being useful in a time of war, as if learning could ever not be useful,” he said not at all succeeding in masking his disappointment. “I saw her as I made my way out of the Great Hall this morning after a late breakfast; she was with Mr. Potter, on their way to Hogsmede.” He appraised the boy in front of him and felt pity. He knew that Snape had feelings for Lily, and that hearing that she was on a date with another was certain to cause him pain. He patted him gently on the shoulder in what he hoped was a consoling gesture before muttering something about letting Severus look over all the paperwork while he retrieved something from his office. In reality he had everything he needed, but he just wanted to give the young man a bit of privacy at this difficult time.
Snape felt as if all the breath had been forced out of his lungs. She was going to be in Hogsmede during the attack. He had given the Dark Lord specific information about James Potter to bring about the boy’s death, but now Lily would be by his side. He turned desperately to look at the clock; it was too late to do anything, even if he could. It would be up to Lily to get herself out of Hogsmede alive, his only hope was that she would impress his master with her bravery and he would spare her.
This was all Potter’s fault. It was Potter’s fault that she had wanted to spend the day in Hogsmede rather than with him working on their potion’s license. It was Potter’s fault that she was concerned about the war at all. It was Potter’s fault, all of it.
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