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Before They Fall by Jchrissy
Chapter 10 : Constant Vigilance
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 27


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Chapter 10 - Constant Vigilance

Lily’s body melted deeper into her sheets. The mist of dreams clung tightly around her as her subconscious sucked her back into the false reality.

“Tuney, why’d you do that?” A twelve year old Lily stood with her hands on her hips and flakes of snow coating her white hat. She tried to keep her lips set into the frown, but her sister’s playful laugh broke through her serious attitude and forced her to giggle along.

“See Lily, it’s funny. Look!” Petunia bent down to gather another ball of snow and chucked it at the neighbors cat, who let out a hiss before sprinting away. Lily’s face fell back into its frown.

“No Petunia, it was okay at the plant, but you hurt the kitty.” Lily moved her hands from her hips and crossed her arms. Her thick blue gloves were slipping out from under the sleeves of her winter coat.

Petunia sighed as she plopped back down in the snow and began drawing shapes in the white mounds of fluff. “That cat shouldn’t have been in our yard anyway. And if my friends were here, they’d think it’s funny,” she finally replied with a huff.

Lily felt herself fumbling over how to cheer her sister back up, though part of her rang with jealousy at how often her sister mentioned her friends. The friends that she always said Lily could never meet, because Lily was constantly away at school.

She was nearly resigned to let her sister start another snowball fight when the slamming of their back door distracted her.

“I have Christmas Eve hot cocoa!” Adrianna smiled as she brought the tray down the steps. “Sorry girls, I don’t have my boots on, this is as far a I can go.”

Both girls raced over to the porch, Petunia grabbing the first cup and passing it to Lily. Lily smiled as she sucked off the top bit of whipped cream and glanced up at her mother to thank her. Adrianna’s milky skin was already growing pink with the cold, but Lily knew she would stand out in the chilly air for as long as her daughters wanted to talk with her.

After the girls agreed to come in shortly and play a game with their parents, Adrianna took the empty tray inside and reminded them both to bring their mugs with them when they were through.

The disagreement about the snowballs was quickly forgotten as the sisters talked in squeals and giggles about Christmas being the very next day.

Lily was relieved that Petunia had wanted to spend so much time with her over the Holidays. She'd been afraid Petunia would still be upset, as she had been on September first when Lily boarded the Hogwarts Express for her second year of school. Petunia had barely hugged her, and refused to write her all term because she was unable to send the letter through ‘normal’ post. But it seemed that Tuney had gotten over her anger, for the girls had spent nearly every waking moment together.

Lily sucked down her the last few drops of the warm, chocolate liquid and was placing it onto the porch stairs when the sound of shattering glass stopped her.

“Oh, Tuney,” Lily sighed sympathetically as her sister bent down to start scooping up the bigger shards of glass. The red mug was in dozens of pieces over the cobbled patio. The fall had even cracked the layer of ice that covered everything.

“Lily, these are the mugs that mum got us from her trip! This was my favorite one!” Petunia whined.

“I know, I’m sorry,” Lily whispered as she got down to help.

“Can you fix it, Lily? Can you use that spell that you were telling mum about?” Lily froze. Her sister had asked her this kind of thing countless times. As patient as she wanted to be, she didn’t know how many ways she had to tell Petunia that she couldn’t do magic outside of school.

“I’m sorry Petunia, I just—”

“No Lily, don’t say no. Just do it, okay? I heard you telling mum and dad about what happened with Severus. That he hurt some boy and their glasses broke, and one of his friends used a spell and fixed them! So if someone can fix that boys glasses, that means you can fix my cup too, right?” Petunia fixed Lily with a pleading stare.

“That was on the Hogwarts Express! It’s different there. And I didn’t say that Sev hurt the person, he just bumped into James and his glasses fell off.”

“But his friend still fixed it!” Petunia’s tone was slipping into one of frustration. “And mum and dad are always talking about how great your marks are! But maybe you don’t even know how to fix it,” Petunia whispered angrily. Lily would have given anything to be able to pull her wand from her trunk and repair her sister’s mug, but she just couldn’t.

“Petunia. I’m not allowed. It would be breaking the rules, something I’d get in big trouble for, and I already told you that,” she finally said after waiting to see if her sister would continue. Petunia remained silent, refusing to meet Lily’s eyes. After a few seconds Lily grabbed her own mug and turned around to go inside. If Tuney refused to understand, she wouldn’t keep trying to explain.

Lily assumed her mother had heard the fight, because she didn’t question what was going on when Lily stomped inside and down the hall to her bedroom. After removing her wet clothes and pulling on a red pair of pajamas, she slipped under the white duvet on her bed.

She wasn’t sure how long she’d been asleep, but when her eyes fluttered open the first thing she noticed was that her sheer green curtains hadn’t any light coming through.

“Lily?” Petunia’s soft voice followed by a knock jolted Lily completely awake.

“Come in.”

“Lily,” Petunia started as she hopped onto her sister’s bed, “I’m sorry about earlier. I don’t want to fight. You’re only going to be here for a while longer until you have to go back to school. I was just upset about my mug.”

Lily smiled as she refrained from hugging her sister, something that Petunia decided she didn’t care for. “I’m sorry I couldn’t fix it.”

Petunia looked relieved as her sister accepted her apology. She jumped off of Lily’s bed, pulling the covers off as she went. Lily was sure Petunia was going to start teasing her about the stars covering her pajamas, but before she could, their mum walked through the door.

“Girls, I’m going to light the candle. Will you help me?” Adrianna smiled as she held up a large, silver candle that they would place in their front window.

The two of them followed their mother into the living room, where Shane already stood beside the twinkling Christmas tree.

The entire house was filled with the scent of baking, and Lily wondered what their mother was preparing for tomorrow’s dinner.

“Okay,” Adrianna began as she placed the elegant candle on the windowsill. Lily’s heart sparkled with joy as Petunia reached over and grabbed her hand.

Their mother smiled down at them before holding out a match to light the candle. Once the flame was devouring the dark air, Adrianna began to speak. “May the light of our candle burn as a symbol of welcome, and a symbol of love for Mary and Joseph. May it bless any travelers going through the night, and offer our hospitality. Girls, would you like to say the prayer?”

Lily and Petunia glanced at one another, and each took in a deep breath. After Lily nodded at her sister, their words began to meld into one another. “The light of the Christmas star to you. The warmth of home and hearth to you. The cheer and good will of friends to you. The hope of a childlike heart to you. The joy of a thousand angels to you. The love of the Son and God's peace to you.” *

“Merry Christmas, girls,” Shane whispered as he hugged his daughters into him.


Lily sat straight up in bed, her entire face covered in salty water. She tried to shake the remnants of the dream from her, but they were too strong. It took a minute for her eyes to adjust to the dark, and longer for her heart to begin beating to a steady rhythm. She reached up and wiped away the rest of the fat tears from her cheeks, thankful that at least the dream had been one of happiness and not a reliving of their death.

The image of Petunia’s fourteen-year-old smile, the feel of their small hands laced together, floated around Lily’s murky brain.

Before she could change her mind, she slid from her bed and tiptoed to the far wall, then rifled through her rucksack. Her hands finally found the familiar shapes that she was searching for. She pulled the chair to her small desk out, stubbing her pinky toe in the process, and lit the oil lamp resting on the corner of the rectangular piece of wood.

She quickly yanked her hair tie from her wrist and bunched her red locks up in it, then bent over and dipped the slender quill into the ink pot. Her fingers were moving before she could even try to ponder what she was writing.

Petunia,

I was just thinking about you and wanted to write. Things haven’t been particularly easy, and I found myself remembering a few of our old Christmas traditions. Anyway, I hope all is well with you and your boyfriend. Are you two settling into your new home well? Vernon likes living closer to work, I’m sure. Well, I guess that’s really all. If you want to respond, I’m sure you remember how.

Lily


She folded the piece of parchment and slipped it into an envelope, then raised her wand and extinguished the flame before stumbling back to bed. She fell asleep the second her head hit the pillow.

The Monday morning sun assaulted Lily’s eyes through her champagne coloured curtains. She stretched her arms high above her head, letting the duvet slip from the top half of her body as she moved.

Her hands fumbled around her nightstand and grasped onto her mother’s watch. It took a minute for her eyes to adjust to the insanely small ticks depicting the hour, but after squinting she realized it was just after six o’clock.

The Prefects would be there very soon, and she needed to get bathed.

She threw her legs over the side of the bed and started slipping off the nightdress as she made her way across the room. A small, white envelope with the word Petunia written on it caught her eye. Like a cold bucket of water being spilled over her, she was doused with memories of her dream and the desire to reach out to her sister

She’d really written the letter? It wasn’t just a false creation of her night? Well, she must’ve, as it was sitting on her desk staring her in the face. Should she send it?

She heard the slamming of the portrait door downstairs, James woke early. The noise jolted her back to reality and she rushed into the bathroom.

After an extremely hot bath that left her mirrors fogged with steam, she walked back into the bedroom and to her wardrobe, which was still her favorite thing. Lily was so organized when it came to homework, classes, books, everything really. Only her best friends knew that she couldn’t keep her clothes folded and room clean to save her life.

She quickly slipped on her white vest and grey waistcoat, along with her trousers and black cloak. She combed out the tangles of her hair and applied a small amount of cosmetics to hide her restless night, then checked the time on her mother’s watch, her watch, before securing it around her left wrist.

After brushing her teeth and gathering her rucksack, she headed down the stairs and into the common area to wait for the Prefects.

“G’morning.” Lily froze at the sound of Sirius's voice, then took her final step to reach the bottom of the stairs as the faces of Belle, Sirius, Alice, Remus, Peter and Frank all glanced back at her.

“What are you guys doing here?” she asked, taking the mug of hot tea that Sirius handed to her.

“We wanted to be here for the meeting,” Peter said, handing over a pastry to Belle before settling down on the flat stone ledge of the fireplace.

“James said that it’s up to you though," Remus quickly interjected as he moved to sit a few feet down from Peter. "And if you aren’t okay with it, we completely understand.”

Lily took a bite of the blueberry muffin that Alice handed her before her friend got comfortable next to Belle and Frank on the couch. Professor Dumbledore hadn’t said just the Prefects, though he probably meant it. Everyone would find out soon enough, regardless. And Frank had been there, so maybe he could answer any appropriate questions. Still, was she pushing her luck by doing this? Was she breaking a rule?

She glanced over the faces of her friends. Remus and Peter patiently waited beside the flames that one of the house elves must’ve gotten started. Alice was leaning into Frank, something Lily rarely saw for neither of them were big on public displays of affection.

Sirius was slumped down on the floor, his back resting against the couch near Belle’s legs. He’d been the only reason they’d all gotten through dinner last night. By getting the group talking and laughing, they were able to make it to the end without their tense moods being picked up. But soon the entire school would know about the attack.

Why shouldn’t she and James be surrounded by their friends right now? True, Dumbledore hadn’t said it was permitted. But he was always telling them that friendship was the greatest gift they could give one another. So, though she might be going against orders, this morning she was going to let herself be surrounded by the friends that loved her.

“Okay, stay. And you guys,” Lily waited until the entire group was looking up at her. “Thank you.”

She walked over the fluffy arm chair and pulled the footrest away from it, then moved it between the open section of the sofas and perched herself on top.

“Listen,” Peter said, the rest of the group shushing and focusing on a voice coming from the other side of the portrait hole.

“James, we’ve gone through this, why can’t we just say the password?” asked an obviously annoyed girl.

“You know that just the password doesn’t work. You tried that last time.” James’s tone held the rare speckles of annoyance.

“He’s not a morning person, our James,” Sirius joked as if reading Lily’s mind.

“If I ever find that you’ve been playing a bloody joke on us—”

“Just get on with it,” James’s said, cutting off the girl. The entire group waited and held their breath as the prefects took turns passing through the portrait, each secret being a bit more ridiculous than the last.

“Okay, quiet down all,” Lily ordered once everyone made their way into the common area. This was the third Prefect meeting they’d held, and they were all fairly adjusted to fitting themselves around the room. Lily was surprised that no one seemed to question the presence of the others, but she decided to just go with it.

“So, as always, let’s check that we’re all here.” Lily began as James came up behind her spot on the footrest. His warm, spicy hints of cologne swirled around her and threatened to distract her. She quickly glanced back down at the list and dipped her quill in the pot of ink resting on her binder.

She scribbled Seventh Year Prefects Meeting - Bones Christening Attack on the top of her parchment. She felt James’s hand rest on her shoulder and give it a small squeeze before he removed it.

“Eleanor and Tyler?” The two Ravenclaws greeted Lily as she called them. “Bridget and Jackson?” The Hufflepuffs confirmed their names. “And obviously James and I are here for Gryffindor. So, Abigail and Briscoe?”

“I’m here. Sorry Lily, I tried to get Abigail here but she said something about not feeling great.” Briscoe rolled his eyes as he spoke, and it was obvious to Lily that he was just as annoyed at the other Slytherin Prefect for not being here as Lily was.

Lily was about to say something when James's deep voice cut her off. “Okay, let’s get this over with. I get that none of you want to be up and over here this early, but we need your full attention.”

Lily took a breath before glancing at James, and at his nod she began. 

“There was an attack by Voldemort’s Death Eaters.”

“Lily, don’t you know what they’re saying about that name?” Eleanor interrupted, her dark eyes set on Lily.

“Well, she just said it and he doesn’t seemed to have attacked yet,” Sirius piped up from his spot on the floor.

“Eleanor,” Lily began, forcing a smile. “If it makes anyone uncomfortable, I won’t use it.” Lily glanced around and watched as the majority of the Prefects nodded their heads. “Okay, then. There was an attack by You Know Who’s followers. I’m sure you all know Amelia Bones, sixth year Ravenclaw, and some of you know may know her older siblings. Esther graduated two years ago. Edgar was a seventh year when we were first.”

Lily took a deep breath, pausing while the students murmured to one another. Once silence was regained, she continued. “Edgar had a Christening for his twin daughters yesterday evening. Edgar’s wife is a muggle woman.” She waited a moment for the importance of that to sink in, the same way that Dumbledore had the previous evening. “Edgar, his children, and his wife are safe. Amelia and Esther as well. However, their mother and father, Amelia’s mother and father, were murdered. As well as Edgar’s mother-in-law and father-in-law. It was also made very clear that these Death Eaters had meant to kill the infants, but they were protected.”

An eerie silence filled the room. The uncertainty creeping into the eyes that looked back at her slowly changed to fear, the kind of fear that grew when you realized that it wasn’t just a name anymore.

“There’s more,” James said. “Out of the four Death Eaters, two were identified. We aren’t sure who they are, but Dumbledore said that there may be people in our school that know, or are related to, them. And that may cause some serious tension. Those names will undoubtedly be printed in the Prophet this morning, and it’s up to us to make sure that we keep everyone calm.”

“How do we know this is actually what happened?" Bridge, the Ravenclaw Prefect, asked. Despite the confident way she held her head, her voice was still shaking with every word. "I mean, people are losing it left and right, and we’re supposed to just believe someone that says it? What if someone from the party had a bit too much firewhiskey and went off his rocker?”

“I was there.” Frank’s tone was quiet, but it silenced the room. “I was there, and I watched innocent people be run down.” He stood up from his place on the couch, towering over the rest of them.

“I helped put up the charms for the Christening, there were more than you could image protecting that church. But they broke through those like they were a bloody joke, and they just started throwing spells everywhere. They didn’t give a fucking sickle about who they hit with their killing curse.” He took a deep breath and lowered his body back to the couch. His voice calming a fraction as he started to speak again.

“We don’t want to believe that it’s this close to us, I get it. But it is. And I hope to God that when Amelia comes back to school, you aren’t so damn insensitive as to ask her how she knows it was the Death Eaters that killed her parents in front of her.”

As Frank’s words hung through the air, the Prefects seemed to be getting more uncomfortable by the second.

“Listen, what you all want to think or believe doesn’t matter to us right now,” James said as he stepped from behind Lily, closer to the middle of the circle. “What matters is two Hogwarts students were just in the middle of an attempted mass murder. Two Hogwarts students! One of them lost her parents, and nearly lost the rest of her family. This is real.”

Lily glanced at the faces looking back at her. More than a few glistened with the tears that often fell when you realized that life doesn’t care whether you’re ready to grow or not.

“We knew it would happen,” she began in a softer tone. "I mean we all kind of knew that the Ministry disappearances, the muggle murders… that it wouldn’t end there. And it’s scary, because now it’s more than knowing. Now it’s seeing. But we need to focus on what’s important today, and that’s making sure that anyone who needs to talk, anyone who just needs someone to reassure them or answer questions, gets that.”

The Prefects nodded back at her, and she began assigning extra patrols throughout the day for those who had free periods. She added two more sets of night patrols as well, and handed the lists to the seventh years to pass on to the other Prefects in their Houses. Before they left the common area she took a vote on the N.E.W.T revision sessions, wanting to end the meeting with something else besides murder.


Lily rushed down the staircase with her and James’s rucksacks each thrown over a shoulder. After the meeting they’d all been in a hurry to get to breakfast before any owls started flying in with the Prophet, and she and James had both forgotten their class material. Which actually surprised her because it was rare that she forgot anything.

James’s rucksack bounced over her arm; there couldn’t be more than two books in it, though she supposed that was a blessing considering hers was probably half her weight.

It had been nice to see the smile on his face when she offered to get their bags. But it did make her feel fairly guilty, like he was so happy because she never offered to help him with anything. That wasn’t true though, was it? And he’d been so eager to read the letter from his parents that his Chaco owl dropped off, offering to get both of them made the most sense. Maybe he’d let her use Beowulf to deliver the letter to Petunia later that evening? That is, if she sent it.

She hadn’t been the most pleasant person to him, or anyone really, during breakfast. She probably even owed him an apology for teasing him about being the only person in Britain that owned an owl from Argentina. Brilliant. Because she loved apologizing so much. Still, it hadn’t been his fault she was on the edge, waiting for anyone to start spewing rubbish to another student about the attack, and end up with wands drawn on each other.

She stepped to the ground floor and her thoughts tumbled away as the busy corridors swarming with students distracted her. You would think that by the way people pushed and shoved, the halls weren’t huge enough to accommodate more than triple the number of students who actually attended the school.

She wondered if seeing Alice would straighten up her disagreeable mood. For some reason her best friend could always bring any attitude up a few notches. Although, Alice and Frank had both been quiet that morning, so they were probably busy enough trying to work on their own moods.

It didn’t worry her that neither of them had said more than a few words over breakfast. She knew that was just how they dealt with things.

Frank liked action, he wanted to react then and there, and when he wasn’t able to fix something it ate away at him. Alice was as patient as a butterfly circling a fragile flower, waiting to land until just the right second. With that combination they usually both ended up dwelling on their own thoughts until the other was ready to talk.

She reached the corridors surrounding the courtyard and slowed down a bit to catch a glimpse of the sun. It was odd to think that after everything had happened yesterday, after Sirius had told them all of their secret, after they learned about the attack… that the sun could still be shining.

Breakfast had been as tense as they all assumed, but at least it went by without any rows. The names printed in the front page article, Rabastan and Rodolphus Lestrange were foreign to her, but Sirius quickly explained that the twins were part of another old pureblood family. One that, like the Blacks, believed in Vol.. You Know Who’s cause. Apparently Rodolphus was also the husband of Sirius’s cousin, Bellatrix. Lily had shuddered at the idea of husband and wife each being as soulless as the other.

Sirius also said that the Malfoys, Blacks, and Lestranges were extremely close. So in spite of the Lestranges not having any direct relatives at Hogwarts, they still needed to keep their eyes open.

The Great Hall had been a blend of disbelief and panic. Gradually, all of the students had come to the same realization as Lily: it could have been any of them, it still could be any of them. That was the worst part.

Was it only a month ago she had been so convinced they were untouchable? A month ago that she had thought that by the time they graduated, this war would be drawing to an end? Maybe that’s why James always seemed to tense up when she asked him about his parents’ thoughts, because she really was acting that naive.

“Over here!” Peter’s voice caught her attention, and she realized that she’d nearly passed the side corridor that lead into the Transfiguration room.

“Thanks,” James said as he eased his bag off of Lily’s left shoulder. He quickly looked back towards their classroom, and Lily realized that her entire group was just as focused on the locked door as he was.

“What’s going on?” she asked, bobbing her head around to try and get a view through the thin window alongside the wooden door.

“You know the Auror that does Sirius’s tutoring lessons? The one my parents are friends with that I’ve mentioned a few times?” James asked, not taking his eyes from the door as Peter nudged another student in front of them out of the way to get a better view.

“Yes..?”


“Well he’s here! He’s in the classroom!” Sirius whispered, though the excitement in it strengthened the tone so it was much louder than an actual whisper. “Do you think they’re recruiting at Hogwarts or something?”

After realizing that they just weren’t going to get a peek in, the group started moving forward while the seventh year Slytherins began making their way down the hall.

“I doubt it. I mean, we’re barely a month into our seventh year. And it’s not like they can just ignore that we don’t have the necessary N.E.W.T.s yet,” Remus said. Lily followed his eyes to see that they were locked with Avery’s. If even Remus was feeling confrontational, then this was going to be a long day.

“But maybe they are! This could be our chance, James,” Sirius said with a hint of childlike excitement.

“No mate, not mine. I’m not going to be an Auror. At least, not yet.”

Frank, Peter, and Remus both turned and stared at James, as well as Belle and Alice. Lily waited for him to laugh or say something, but his expression remained earnest.

“Very funny, James,” Sirius finally said, clapping his friend on the back as he spoke. “You’ve talked about being an Auror since we were first years.”

James reached into his robe pocket and pulled out the letter from his parents, then handed it to Sirius. Lily was just about to lean towards him and read over his shoulder when the sound of a door opening focused their attention forward.

“Please come in and take your seats quietly. We have a lot to cover and I must insist that there be no disruptions.” Professor McGonagall stepped aside as she allowed students to file in through the now open door. Lily noticed that the Transfiguration professor’s eyes still had that same misty glaze to them, though her face was as stern as ever.

She heard a few whispers being passed along the students entering through the wide door, but it wasn’t until they got to the front that she understood what they were about.

A man, or what was probably a man, stood at the front of the classroom. She was sure that she’d never seen a person with the number of scars he possessed. The most prominent was an angry red line that chased all the way up his eye and under a black patch, connecting again at this forehead. She was certain that it probably went into his dark, greying hair, as well.

Lily made her way to her front row seat. As soon as she sat down, she noticed the podium he stood behind had something placed on it. A jar of some sort, with a ball that looked creepily like a human eye floating about.

Her friends were silent as they gathered around her. Alice and Belle quickly slipped into seats on either side with the boys filling up the row behind them. Lily glanced over and noticed Sirius taking a seat beside Belle instead of his usual one between James and Frank.

“Good morning students. I presume you are aware that we have a guest joining us. We are very fortunate that Mr. Alastor Moody has made a few hours available in his schedule to meet with us, and we should not take advantage of his kindness by paying him anything less than our full attention. At this moment, every fifth, sixth, and seventh year class will be speaking with an Auror or Ministry official, as well.”

“Is this about all that Daily Prophet rubbish?” Lily’s green eyes widened as she glanced behind her to see who was really daft enough to interrupt their teacher. She wasn’t surprised to see the bored face of Evan Rosier glancing around at them all. Once he realized that Severus and Avery were looking blankly around as opposed to backing him up, he seemed to visibly shrink in size.

“Mr. Rosier,” Professor McGonagall began, but was quickly cut off by a rough growl coming from the man she’d addressed as Alastor Moody.

“Rosier, is it? Wouldn’t be the son of Thatcher Rosier, now would you?” The tone of the man’s voice brought chills to the surface of Lily’s skin.

“Yes, I am,” Evan answered, raising his nose a few inches as he spoke.

“Well well, looks like we’re just old friends then, boy. You haven’t asked your old man about how exactly he’d be missing those four fingers, have you?”

Lily wasn’t surprised when Rosier simply stared. Mr. Moody’s words would have sounded intimidated even without the growl, with it they sounded down right frightening. After letting the silence drag on for a few seconds, he continued.

“Well now, I can fill in those blanks for you. Or maybe you can ask your father if cursing off a chunk of my nose was worth having to wipe his arse with his left for the rest of his life.”

“Mr. Moody, please focus on why you’re here,” Professor McGonagall interrupted, placing one of her hard stares on the man as she spoke.

Lily thought she heard him mumble something under his breath, but it was clear he chose not to elaborate on it.

“Well, then. You all have an idea of what’s going on outside these walls, outside the protection of Albus Dumbledore. I think it’s pretty damn clear by now that these Death Eaters aren’t against attacking children.” Lily felt the entire room tense at the Auror's words.

“But not one of you really understand it. No one does, not even the scum buckets that serve Voldemort.” Another layer of stress floated over the room as the name of the most feared wizard in the country blanketed them.

“Those pawns think they’re gettin’ a ride to the top, they do. But he’d kill them as quickly as he’d kill one of you.

“You’re all getting the best Defence training possible. Professor Genov is one of the finest Hogwarts has ever seen. She was hand picked by Dumbledore, and if you know what’s good for you, you’ll all listen to every single thing she tells you. But there’s always more. You can always do more to keep yourselves safe.” He was quiet as that thought stewed around, then went on.

“I’d like everyone to look around this classroom.” The room remained frozen until Mr. Moody growled and told them to get on with it. Lily tore her eyes from the face and did as he said, then quickly brought her focus back to the front of the room.

“You all get a good look?” he asked, swirling the glass jar as he spoke. “A good, long look? Did you all see the faces of people you’ve known for over six years?” The classroom nodded in unison.

“You remember those faces. With things going the way they’re going, some of them will be the ones that are trying to kill you, and some will be a headstone in the graveyard.” The room was alive with gasps, though everyone was too shocked to do little more than that.

“I’m going to go through and give you a few pointers on how to remain aware and possibly safe. You can never be too careful. You saw this morning’s paper, and let me tell you that they were about as careful as it gets when it comes to protection. But those worthless bags of bone still made it through.”

“At least those bags of bones didn’t marry any filthy muggles,” the words were a whisper said under his breath, but in the silent room they were loud enough. Lily felt the quick rush of anger flood to the surface of her skin.

Mr. Moody started hobbling towards Rosier’s desk when Frank shot out of his chair, his wand pointed above the students and locked on Evan.

“Mr. Longbottom, put your wand away. Mr. Rosier, out in the hall, now.” Professor McGonagall’s voice snapped through the room, but neither student moved.

For a moment, Lily found herself aching to mirror Frank’s response. Could anyone really say, much less believe, murdering muggles was better than marrying one?

Her anger turned to confusion in an instant. She tried to blink away what she was seeing, but after she focused again on the boy, she realized that it wasn’t her eyes tricking her. Evan Rosier was slowly swelling up. First his fingers grew from the pudgy things they were, to sausage sized tubes sticking out from the palms of his swollen hands. The entire class seemed to be in the same sense of bafflement, until Avery jumped to his feet and started shouting something.

“Mr. Longbottom!” Frank held up his hands at the professor to demonstrate his innocence as the Slytherin boy continued to swell. Lily looked to the gruff Auror, surprised that he seemed to be chuckling to himself. But it was clear by the fact that he had no wand drawn, the curse wasn’t his.

“Alice?” James’s smooth tone caught Lily’s attention and she looked to her right. Alice sat, her lips closed so tightly that they were nearly turning white, with her wand still pointed at Rosier.

“Alice,” Lily began, though she wanted nothing more than to let her friend continue the spell.

“Ms. Christopherson!” Professor McGonagall’s tone was sinking closer into anger than annoyance as Alice finally broke the connection.

“Four people are dead, you bloody coward,” Alice hissed at Rosier before turning her head to face their professor.

“Fifty points from Gryffindor and Slytherin. Detention, Ms. Christopherson, for an undetermined amount of time.”

“Minerva,” Mr. Moody interrupted. “I’ll be needing to see those two.” He pointed to Alice and Frank before turning on one leg and tromping towards the door. He stopped abruptly and turned back to the podium, lifting the patch from his face and fiddling with some kind of device that was hooked where his eye should have been. He lifted the striking blue eye out of the jar of water and shoved it into the device.

It rolled around a few times, causing a disgusted murmur to spread through the room, before finally settling.

“Can’t seem to get used to this bloody thing,” he mumbled before walking back towards the door. Professor McGonagall removed her rectangular glasses from her face and motioned for Frank and Alice to follow, then pinned a stray piece of hair back into her bun and began going over the things that the Auror had been assigned to discuss.

The rest of the class was the quietest she could remember, everyone clearly too stuck on what had happened to be able to do much else than stare forward. Lily was thankful that they weren’t actually practicing any transfiguration that morning; with all the shaking nerves she was sure someone would end up turning their glass into fire instead of water. The elements had already been tricky enough without the added morning excitement.

She wanted her friends to come back. She knew that James and Sirius had both spent enough time with Mr. Alastor Moody for him to be considered safe, at least she hoped. And he’d seemed more amused than angered at the curse Alice had delivered, but he was still an Auror. Did he have to arrest them? Though they were both of age, and the spell wasn’t considered a punishable one. Still, why else would he have called Frank back with them if it wasn’t to reprimand them about pulling their wands on another student?

She glanced over at James, who seemed to be reading her thoughts.

“He’s one of the few blokes my parents trust. They’ll be fine,” James whispered.

Lily let James’s words swirl around a bit, glancing at Belle to see what she thought. To her surprise, she wasn’t looking at them, but Sirius. Sirius in turn wasn’t look at Belle, but James, along with Remus and Peter.

James glanced around, then sighed before turning to Peter. “Okay, fine. If you two have finished reading it, pass it to Lily and Belle.”

Peter nodded and reached under his piece of parchment to pull out the letter that Lily recognized as James’s. How had she missed the group passing it to one another to read? He slipped it smoothly to her, and she carefully unfolded it and slid it under her piece of parchment with their essay assignment on it. She slowly slid the homework up to view more of the letter. After a few moments, she got impatient and revealed the entire thing.

James,

We’re so relieved to hear that everything at the castle is safe, not that we thought it would be anything but. We were told about the attack at the Bones’s Christening right after, and it took all the convincing I could muster to keep your mum from charging down there herself. Alastor (that’s Mr. Moody, to you) owled us and told us he’d be speaking in your first class this morning.

His warnings can usually get a bit cryptic, but listen to him carefully. He is one of the few that your mum and myself would trust with our lives. Everyone at that Christening knows how lucky they were to have Alastor in attendance, his actions saved half of those people.

Now, this brings me to the other reason I wanted to owl you. Actually, before we get into that, I want to tell you how damn proud we are you, James. Your mum told me that you got Captain! And that yesterday’s tryouts went well. I know you’ll be great, son. You tell me whenever you want mum and me there to watch a game, and we will be. And Lily is doing better? You know how worried your mother always is. Not me, but her.

Lily stopped and couldn’t help but chuckle to herself. One thing she’d learned about Olivia and William Potter was that Olivia very seldom worried. Her husband, on the other hand, often used her to try and convey his own concerns. Her soft lips tilted into a smile as she continued.

We are looking forward to having all you kids here for Christmas. We’re assuming Lily will be with you and Sirius, right? It’ll be a wonderful Christmas, indeed.

Now, onto more serious matters. I think I’ve put them off for as long as I can… I won’t be thanked by your mother for telling you this, either. But you’re a grown boy and deserve to know.

When I said that Alastor is one of the few I would trust with our lives, I mean that. Word has gotten around that the Auror Office isn’t as secure as it should be. Alastor is known for being a bit over cautious, but I don’t believe this is the case. There have been many signs pointing to the possibility of infiltration in the Ministry, and more specifically in the Aurors.

The ministry is imposing stricter orders than ever and seems to be slowing down investigations more than speeding them up. I tell you all this, James, because I won’t let you walk around unaware of where this war stands. You know we want to shield you from the darker aspects of this. However, I feel that shielding you would be more dangerous than educating you.

If anything seems fishy, if you’re ever concerned about something, you know to go straight to Albus or Minerva. You’re safe at Hogwarts, we’ve always trusted and believed that. That doesn’t mean Hogwarts is impenetrable.

You and the boys keep your eyes peeled. And let Sirius know that Alastor has only positive things to say about his performance in the class. But again, he should be aware that if he follows through and applies for an Auror position, he may be dealing with a serious amount of politics to be able to even pick up his wand and set out on capturing a Dark Wizard.

Now, don’t forget to throw your old man a few stories every now and then. With your mother taking away my cigars at every turn, I need any extra excitement I can get around here. Put that cloak up to any good use lately?

Love you, son. Write soon. And again, trust your instincts and if anything feels off, tell Albus immediately. Pass on greetings to the boys and give Lily a hug for us.

Love, Dad (and mum, since she’s been trying to read over my shoulder all the while that I write this).

Lily glanced back over the lines talking about the Aurors. Infiltrated. The people trained to capture darkest of wizards, how can they be infiltrated?

She needed to remember to ask James more about that after class. So this was why James no longer wanted to pursue his career choice. What else would he do instead? She knew that he wanted to help. But his name was well known, and if Vo.. if his followers really did have eyes in the Aurors office, James would be watched closer than anyone

Her head was swimming with details, and just when she was about to turn to Belle to ask what she made of it, the opening of the door caught her attention.

Frank and Alice walked through with Mr. Moody close behind. Frank’s face betrayed no emotion, he simply looked bored. But Alice’s dark eyes were sparking with what Lily knew was excitement. What had the man told her friends?

“We don’t have as much time now, but this won’t take long.” The gruff voice of Mr. Moody snapped everyone to attention. His false eye was swiveling around the room faster than his other. The two eyes moving separately was positively unnatural, even more so than the sound his false, wooden leg made as it hit the stone floor.

“The first thing I need to talk to you all about is staying safe. And the first rule of staying safe is constant vigilance!”


AN:
Thanks, as always, to my awesome beta reader CambAngst!

So, what were your thoughts on this chapter, and the effect that the attack is having on Hogwarts?

*Represents a traditional Christmas time Irish prayer. The origins of it are unknown, but it was not created by me.

Now (sorry for the length of this) I have to say how excited I was to write the Christmas time memory. That wasn't planned in my outline. But, my good friend (and an awesome writer) Sarah (Athene Goodstrengh), and I got into a conversation about Christmas time, and I just couldn't shake the season feeling so I decided to work it in here! We're only a few months away from the best season ever!


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