Barty Crouch Jr. made his way to the spot where he had killed Aubrey. He had his wand drawn, ready for a fight at any moment. He wouldn’t have come at all, but he couldn’t risk not knowing who knew his secret. He situated himself between the trees facing the castle so that he could see anyone who approached, but when he came, he came from the trees behind Crouch.
“I’m glad you came,” Snape said in a silky voice, “it would have been an exercise in boredom to draw this out.”
Crouch attempted to cast a non-verbal hex at Snape but was blocked almost immediately.
“Your silly attempts won’t work on me,” Snape said dismissively. “Not only am I a born legilimens, but my craft has been refined and sharpened by the Dark Lord himself.”
Crouch surveyed Snape for a long moment, and then lowered his wand, but did not put it away.
“What do you want with me?”
“It’s more a question of what I can do for you,” Snape said.
“I don’t want anything from you,” Crouch said in his snottiest voice. He was after all his parents’ child. His mother had spoiled him like a prince, and his father had invested in him a well-bred since of superiority. The combination did not make for the most agreeable of individuals.
“Really? Nothing at all?” Snape questioned skeptically. “So you don’t long to be out of your father’s shadow forever, to make him pay for all the years of his own ineptitude, for saddling you with his name? You don’t long for the recognition you deserve, to be one of kind?”
“Alright mind reader, you have my attention. How could you possibly help me to accomplish all those things?”
“Oh, not me,” Snape said. “You’ve caught the attention of the Dark Lord. He sees a lot of himself in you. He thinks you have potential.”
“And what does he want from me?”
“Nothing, just for you to be aware that he’s noticed you. He wants to give you time to think of what that could mean for you and your future.”
Lily and James held hands as they made their way through the portrait hole back into their common room. They had spent Friday evening in the company of their friends in Gryffindor Tower. Lily, Alice, Daphne, and Mary had spent most of the time flipping through various magazines and just relaxing, enjoying talking about nothing important for what felt like the first time in forever. Similarly, James, Sirius, Remus, Peter, and Frank had played an epic match of exploding snap and unleashed the pent up frustration of everything that had unfolded on the cards.
“Did you have fun tonight?” James asked.
“Yeah, I did, I think we all needed it. What about you?”
“Yeah, it felt good to not have the weight of world weighing on everything for an evening.”
“To feel like normal seventeen year olds again,” Lily said, slightly saddened by the fact that none of them would ever be normal seventeen year olds again.
“YES!” James said pulling her into his arms and kissing her hard on the lips.
“What was that for?” She said as she pulled away several minutes later.
“Trying to feel seventeen,” he said with a suggestive raise of his eyebrows.
“You’re incorrigible,” she said with a roll of her eyes, but nevertheless kissed him again before she untangled herself to make her way to her room.
“Wait,” James said.
“What?” She turned to look at him with a curious gaze.
“I just thought…” he paused, unsure of how exactly to proceed.
“What?” She asked more softly this time returning to his side. She ran her hand through his soft brown hair, loving the feeling of it in her hands.
“It’s stupid,” he said shrugging.
“Don’t,” Lily said going on her tip toes so she could look him directly in the eyes. “What were you going to say?”
“I thought maybe should sleep together.”
“What?” Lily said backing up, blush flooding her face. I mean, sure, she thought about what that would be like a lot, but she was nowhere near ready for that.”
“That came out wrong,” James said, and Lily was surprised to see his faced tinged pink as well. James Potter didn’t blush, and he definitely didn’t blush about sex.
She lifted her eyebrow skeptically and motioned with him to continue.
“I meant that you’ve had nightmares every night since the attack, and I haven’t been sleeping all that well either between thinking about everything and worrying about you and…”
“Nearly breaking your neck in your attempts to get to me when I’m scared,” Lily said gently.
“That too,” He agreed. “I thought maybe we might do better together.”
“Okay,” Lily said, before she could think about it. She knew that there were a million reasons why this was a bad idea, adding numerous complications to their relationship, but at that moment she didn’t care. She needed him, and he had been so adorably nervous when he asked that she couldn’t bear the idea of turning him down.
“Really?” He said, surprised.
“You sound shocked?”
“My track record of asking you things isn’t that great Evans.”
“Fair enough,” Lily said with a smile. “Come on, let’s go to bed, Potter.”
“I never thought I’d hear those words from your mouth Evans,” James said with a rogue grin.
“Don’t push it, Potter.”
Lily smiled as she woke up the next morning. She felt well-rested, happy, and…her mind cast about for the right word. Safe, she felt safe for the first time since the attack. And she knew it was ridiculous. She wasn’t safe, none of them were, but she couldn’t help but cling to the feeling of security she felt right at this moment wrapped in the arms of James Potter.
Her head rested on his bare chest, tucked under his chin. She was encased in both his arms, while one of hers was also draped across his stomach. Looking at him sleeping, half naked beside her, was enough to cause her entire body to tingle, feel on fire. If they stayed like this forever she didn’t think she’d have a problem with that.
She gently placed her lips to his chest, placing the softest of kisses to his shoulder.
“I like this,” James said with a sigh, startling her slightly as she hadn’t realized he was awake.
“What?” she asked.
“Waking up with you in my arms,” he said looking down at her.
“Me too,” she said quietly as she rose up slightly to better look at him.
He ran his fingers through her hair before bringing her face down to his and kissing her softly on the lips. Their lips moved against each other in tandem, their intensity growing steadily. He had intended for it to be a fairly innocent kiss, but she clearly had other ideas as her hands were currently roaming across his chest in ways that were setting his skin ablaze.
He rolled them over so that he was hovering above her as he lowered his lips to kiss her neck and that sensitive spot right behind her ear that always made her gasp in the most enticing of ways when he sucked it lightly just as he was doing now.
One of her hands was now tangled in his hair, while the other made circles on his back.
He really wanted to touch her too. She was wearing a tank top and short, sleep shorts that were driving him absolutely crazy. He cautiously allowed his hand to gently land on her midriff where the tank top hand risen up slightly. When she didn’t protest, he slowly began to move his hand up further under her tank top. He was mere inches away from his destination when she must have gotten impatient with his slow progress and lowered herself slightly so that his hand brushed against the underside of her breast.
“Bloody hell,” he cursed under his breath amazed that he hadn’t lost himself right there. He couldn’t believe where his hand was at this very moment.
“Mr. Potter, Miss Evans,” the voice of Bridget the portrait sounded like a cannon blast into the room, causing them to jump apart.
“Bloody hell,” he repeated for entirely different reasons.
“Yes Bridget,” Lily said her voice much higher than usual.
“Professor Dumbledore needs to see you both immediately. It is an emergency.”
Their eyes found each other immediately. They watched as the color drained from both of their faces; where moments before both of their faces had been flushed first with desire and then embarrassment, now they both wore the chalk-white masks of dread. Nothing good had ever come from one of these summons.
“We’ll be right there,” James said without ever taking his eyes off of Lily’s.
“What do you reckon?” James asked as he and Lily made their way out into the empty corridor minutes later having thrown on their clothes and hastily arranging their robes even now as they walked.
“Jackson,” Lily said with remorse.
“Yeah,” James agreed. They didn’t say more, there was no need. They were both thinking the same thing, that Jackson Peakes had finally lost his battle to survive his injuries.
“Enter” Dumbledore’s voice sounded a million years old, and tired, as he spoke from inside his office.
Lily and James did as they were instructed. They had expected, similar to when they were told about Bertram Aubrey, an office full of teachers, but only Professor Dumbledore waited for them within.
“Please sit,” Dumbledore gestured to the chairs in front of his desk. “I’m sorry to pull you from your beds this early on a Saturday, but I’m afraid that I must once again tell you of the death of a Hogwarts student.”
“Jackson,” they both said simultaneously.
“No,” Dumbledore said surveying them both. “I just heard from the Healer in charge of his care late yesterday evening. Jackson is still defying the odds. He is still in a coma but his organs are now functioning on their own, without the aid of magic.”
“Excellent,” James said, “but then if not Jackson, who?”
“Gentry Baddock,” Dumbledore answered solemnly.
Lily gasped. This couldn’t be happening, not again. They had both been expecting Jackson’s death, but this was entirely new attack, not a carryover from the last one. She felt James grab her hand and squeeze it reassuringly, but she wasn’t sure anything could reassure her at this moment.
“How?” James asked.
“Badly,” Dumbledore answered bitterly. “The Dark Mark had been fired above her house. Her mother, father, and younger brother were found bound with obvious signs of torture. The Healers estimate that they were killed up to two hours before Gentry, so it is believed…”
“They made her watch,” Lily supplied in a hollow voice. She took a sip of the water Dumbledore had summoned for them, in order to force the bile that had risen from her stomach back down her throat.
“Yes,” Dumbledore answered. “She was also almost certainly killed by Voldemort himself.”
“He killed her? Himself?” James questioned, looking up.
“Yes, I believe so,” Dumbledore said, sharing a look of understanding with James.
“So this was about the attack on Hogsmede. He knows that she was the one who alerted you.”
“It would seem so, James.”
“That wasn’t released in the paper,” Lily said looking up from her water. “Only a few people in Hogwarts knew about that.”
“Well apparently somehow one of the Death Eaters here found out about it,” James said bitterly.
“How they found out about it isn’t want concerns me,” Professor Dumbledore said. “People talk, word could have spread, and then with Gentry’s disappearance from school so quickly, assumptions could certainly have been made. What concerns me is how Voldemort found out. How did the students loyal to him here in Hogwarts manage to relay that information to him? Owl communications are being monitored, as are all of the Flew Connections within the school, so how are they communicating with him?”
“Do you have any theories, sir?” James asked.
“Many, but each as unlikely as the next.”
“What do you want us to do, sir?” Lily asked.
“For now, nothing, only what you are already doing, keep your eyes and ears open, as well as those of your friends,” he said surveying them over the top of his half-moon spectacles. And Lily knew that he knew all about the late night meetings between her, James, the marauders, Frank, Alice, and Aidan.
Lily and James sat in their Common Room, hands intertwined, waiting. Neither of them said what they were waiting for. They didn’t need to; they were both waiting for the same thing.
“Mr. Potter, Miss Evans,” Bridget began but was cut off by James.
“Send them in,” he said.
And so in they came. Sirius and Alice came first. Lily was sure they probably had both jumped up immediately upon seeing the headline in the Daily Prophet and had run paces ahead of the others to get here as soon as they could. Next were Remus and Aidan, huddled together behind the Daily Prophet, still reading it as they entered. And bringing up the rear were Peter and Frank. Peter was carrying a basket full of food he had clearly snatched up off the Gryffindor Table; Frank was carrying a pitcher of pumpkin juice of similar origin.
“Excellent,” James said upon seeing them. “I’m starving!”
“Figured you would be with the early morning I’m guessing you had,” Peter said with a smile as he sat the basket full of food on the coffee table.
Lily waved her wand and summoned plates and glasses for everyone as they all took their seats.
“What’s Dumbledore say?” Sirius questioned as he bit in to a muffin.
“She was killed by Voldemort, personally.” James answered solemnly.
“Her family was tortured probably by Death Eaters,” Lily added.
“I’ll take one wild guess who that was,” Sirius said darkly.
“Dumbledore is worried about how he found out. He can’t figure out how the Death Eaters here are communicating with Voldemort.”
“And he’s sure no one on the outside knew?” Alice asked.
“Yes, he kept it quiet,” Lily answered. “He didn’t even tell anyone at the ministry about her involvement.”
“So it had to come from here at Hogwarts,” James said darkly. “What’s the Prophet say?” He asked addressing Remus and Aidan.
“They obviously don’t know the reason behind the attack, at least not the real reason,” Remus answered.
“But there’s this that’s giving them plenty to speculate about,” Aidan said handing the paper over the Lily and James, the only two who had yet to see it. Directly beneath the headline was a picture obviously taken from the crime scene. The picture showed a wall within the Baddock house, written in blood on the wall was a message: TRAITORS FATE.
“That’s disgusting,” Lily said turning away.
“The Prophet assumes its talking about her parents. They think they must have done something to upset them.” Aidan elaborated.
“How do they explain them being killed and tortured first then?” James asked.
“They’re guessing that Gentry wasn’t initially home and interrupted the attack.” Remus answered.
“They have no reason to think that it would all be about targeting a fifteen year old girl,” Frank said.
“People should know the truth,” Alice said. “It was one thing when it was to keep her safe, but she’s dead now. She was killed because of the fact that she risked her life for all of us, for everyone. People should know that she was a hero.”
“I agree,” Lily said.
“So how would we do that?” Sirius asked, sitting up straighter, ready for any action.
“An Open Letter to the Prophet?” Aidan questioned.
“I like that,” Remus said, nodding his head. “We could each talk about what it was like, how Gentry stepped up to act.”
“Yeah, about how it gave us hope knowing that someone was going to Dumbledore,” Frank supplied.
“I could talk about how she wasn’t afraid when I showed her the passageway,” Peter added.
“Can we write it now?” Sirius asked.
“I don’t see why not,” Lily said, summoning herself a piece of parchment, a quill, and a pot of ink.
“We’ll need to clear it with Dumbledore before we send it,” James said. “To make sure we don’t compromise anything the Order doesn’t want known, but I think it’s a good idea.”
And so they wrote:
“To the Editors of the Daily Prophet,
Gentry Baddock was not a friend of ours. As a matter of principle Gryffindors and Hufflepuffs don’t really associate with Slytherins, but all of that changed on the day of the attack on Hogsmede. While the majority of older Slytherins were mysteriously missing that day, Gentry was in Hogsmede. And when the attack began, she was the first to condemn the absence of her housemates. But she did more than that. She also is the reason that any of us survived. She showed exceptional bravery navigating her way back to Hogwarts through a passageway that she had no prior knowledge of, and alerted Professor Dumbledore about the attack and Voldemort’s presence in Hogsmede. While the rest of us remained in Hogsmede fighting Voldemort and his Death Eaters it was an immeasurable help to have even the slightest hope that Dumbledore was on his way because of Gentry. It meant we didn’t have to hold out indefinitely, only until he could get to us.
Following the attack Gentry asked for no reward and no recognition because she knew that both could be a danger to her and her family. Yet she was still killed for her bravery. People within Hogwarts loyal to Voldemort relayed the information to him, and that is why she and her family were killed. In her death she should receive the recognition denied to her in life. We owe her our life, and we will never forget her.”
Lily Evans, Head Girl
James Potter, Head Boy
Remus Lupin, Gryffindor Prefect
Aidan MacMillan, Hufflepuff Prefect
Sirius Black, Gryffindor Seventh Year
Alice Fortescue, Gryffindor Seventh Year
Frank Longbottom, Gryffindor Seventh Year
Peter Pettigrew, Gryffindor Seventh Year
Lily left Professor Slughorn’s office. He had wanted to talk to her again about her applying for her Potions Master’s License. But she still wasn’t interested.
She still hated being in the dungeons in the evening, but she wasn’t afraid anymore. Like Potter had said if any of them wanted to try something, let them. She was willing to have that fight.
And speaking of a fight she was willing to have, the person she was most itching to have a go at was currently following her in what she imagined he thought to be a surreptitious pace behind her. Well, she had once known him to well to not be aware of his presence, especially here.
“What do you want?” She said turning on him suddenly, catching him by surprise, her wand already drawn.
He raised his hands in a gesture of surrender.
“Just to talk,” Severus said.
“Then talk,” Lily said, but made no move to lower her wand.
“You don’t have to be afraid of me,” Severus said, as if the idea was painful to him.
“I’m not,” Lily said with no hesitation in her voice. “Now, you said you wanted to talk, so talk.”
“I wanted to see how you were doing,” Severus said, taking a step closer to her. “I heard you were hurt.”
“I’m fine.” She spat, bitterly.
“But the cuts on your face, your arms,” he said gesturing to the long gash on her face, and the deeper abrasions on her arms.
“Are absolutely nothing compared to what happened to Regal. She’s dead! And what about Jackson? Or Dorcas? Or Harper? But I don’t suppose you care about them, about any of the others who were hurt at Hogsmede. Or Gentry, as I imagine you know all about what happened to her.”
He ignored her words and said instead, “I was so worried when I heard you were there. I was terrified that something was going to happen to you. You were supposed to be safe with me, working on your Potions License.”
Lily laughed, even though nothing was funny.
“I was where I was supposed to be,” Lily said.
“With Potter?” Snape growled. “He’s going to get you killed. He already almost did!”
“How dare you! How dare you talk about him putting me in danger! He wasn’t the one who helped bring Voldemort to Hogsmede.”
“I’m the only one that can protect you. The Dark Lord has already marked Potter for death. He’s going to kill him, himself, but he’s not going to hurt you. I’ve arranged for you to be protected.”
Lily took a step back. It wasn’t like she and James hadn’t been expecting this, but hearing it was something entirely different.
Snape took another step toward her, reaching out his hand to touch her.
“I’ll always protect you,” he whispered as his hand reached to touch her hair. But he never got the chance. He gasped as his body was sent careening into the wall behind him, the force of Lily’s shield charm knocking him to the ground.
“Don’t touch me. EVER.” Lily said, moving to stand over him. “Now, you listen and you listen good, Severus Snape. If so much as a hair on James Potter’s head is damaged, you’ll answer to ME. I WILL END YOU. And I won’t need magic to do it. I will WRIP YOU LIMB FROM LIMB.” She flicked her wand and was immensely satisfied to hear the crunch of his nose as it broke.
“You don’t belong with him,” he sputtered through the haze of blood gushing from his nose.
“You’re wrong. My place is and always will be with him, at his side.” She said, backing up, walking away from him, but keeping her wand trained on him.
“He’ll be the death of you!” Snape cried out, miserably.
“So be it,” Lily said. “But any curse meant for him is going through me first.”
Lily barely suppressed a scream of rage as she barreled through the portrait hole following her confrontation with Snape. How dare he? Did he really think that she would ever accept safety from him, especially if it meant James was still in danger? What good would her life be if James was dead?
“Hey,” James said glancing up from where he was working on homework at their study table. But upon seeing the thunderous look on her face, one he was well accustomed too, he rose instantly and was at her side in an instant.
“What happened?” He asked. “I doubt Slughorn could get that kind of rise out of you,” he said taking her by the hand and pulling her over to the couch.
“Snape!” she blurted out angrily. James stiffened immediately and reached for his own wand.
“What did he do?” James said standing up. Lily had no doubt that he would happily go hunt Snape down at that very instant—her knight in shining armor.
“Sit down,” she said looking up at him. “I already broke his nose.”
“Excellent,” James said a fiendish glee spreading across his face. “I wish I could have seen that.”
“I only wish I’d used my fist instead of my wand, but I didn’t want Death Eater on my hand,” Lily replied darkly.
“That’s not like you,” James said looking at her once again as he sat down beside her. “What did he do?” He asked more gently this time.
“He said that I shouldn’t have been in Hogsmede that day. I was supposed to be with him and Slughorn working on my Potions License. He said that you were marked for death,” she said turning to look at him with tears in her eyes.
“We already figured as much,” he said brushing off the news of his death mark as inconsequential.
“Assuming it and hearing it confirmed are two different things,” Lily said. “I won’t lose you.” She said firmly as she took his face in her hands and kissed him.
“You won’t,” James assured her.
“You don’t know that, you can’t,” she said, tears streaming down her face.
“I know,” James said, kissing her gently as he wiped away her tears.
They held each other for several long moments, both wrapped up in their own thoughts of the future.
“So why is Snape giving us this warning,” James asked.
“To try and scare me away from you,” Lily answered bitterly. “It’s like he doesn’t know me at all,” she said.
“Maybe he’s right,” James said evenly. “Maybe you would be safer away from me.”
“Say that again and Voldemort won’t need to kill you because I’ll do it myself,” Lily said angrily turning to look him in the eye.
“I’m just saying,” James began.
“Well don’t!” Lily exclaimed angrily. “I’ll tell you the same thing I told him. My place is at your side, nowhere else.”
“We could both die,” he said.
“We could both live,” she replied.
“Together either way,” he said looking at her with a faint smile.
“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” she replied.
“I keep blaming myself for Regal dying,” Peter said. It was the first time he had talked about this with the other boys. He and the other three boys were sitting by the lake, which was half frozen by the cold winter air, but he had needed to talk and this was as good a place as any.
“How could it possibly be your fault?” Remus asked.
“She was in Honeydukes!” Peter cried out. “She was in Honeydukes trying to get back to Hogwarts. She should have never even tried to get across that road. I should have told her about the passageway in the basement.”
“That wasn’t your fault, Peter.” James said. “It was mine. I made the decision to only use the one passageway. I felt that it would be too difficult to defend them all, but Regal not knowing about it is on my conscience, not yours.”
“You’re the Head Boy. You have to think about everyone’s safety. I was her boyfriend. I should have told her.”
“Neither of you are responsible,” Sirius said. “You weren’t the ones who made sure that there were no teachers there. You weren’t the ones who made sure that we couldn’t apparate, or floo for help. Voldemort and his Death Eaters are to blame for this, no one else.”
“Sirius is right,” Remus said. “But we can’t dwell on the past. I more worried about if they try something again.”
“We need to get rid of the map,” Peter said darkly.
“That seems a bit drastic,” Sirius said.
“Pete’s right,” James said. “I’d been thinking the same thing ever since the attack.”
“But it’s the map!” Sirius said, looking to each of the boys in shock.
“We know where all the passageways are,” Remus replied. “We don’t really need it anymore.”
“Don’t need it?” Sirius said. “Are you crazy? Besides it’s ours! We made it together.”
“I know,” Peter said. “It’s part of who we are part of our identity as the Marauders.”
“Then why get rid of it?” Sirius asked.
“Because it’s dangerous,” James said. “Dumbledore closed up the two passageways that everyone now knows about, but what if someone found out about the others? If Snape or one of the Death Eaters got their hands on the map, it’s not only a map into Hogwarts but it’s a map to Dumbledore, to us. It’s too dangerous.”
“Okay,” Sirius said nodding his head. “But we’re not destroying it. We’ll put more safe guards on it, to protect it from prying eyes. And then we’ll put it somewhere that only future troublemakers would be able to find it; only the worthy successors to the Marauders.”
“And where would that be?” Remus asked skeptically.
“Filch’s office,” James and Sirius both answered at the same time, on the same brain wave once again.
The added precautions were now in place. Sirius had designed them himself so that the map, in the voice of its creators, would insult anyone who tried to breach its defenses. Sirius was especially proud of that.
And now it was time to engage in their last mission with the map as an aid. They tracked Filch using the map as the timing had to be perfect. And as Filch bumbled up the corridor toward them Peter made a show of rushing ahead of him, seemingly surprised by his presence, to where the other boys were gathered around the map. Together, and for the last time, they whispered “mischief managed,” and watched as the parchment was wiped clean just as Filch came upon them.
“And just what do you four think you’re up to,” Filch wheezed, he had run so fast to keep up with Peter.
“Us?” Sirius said innocently. “Why would you think we were up to something, Filchy?” Sirius added in his favorite nickname for the caretaker.
“Because I know you, don’t I?” Filch snarled. “What’s this, then?” He said grabbing the map out of their hands.
“Spare piece of parchment,” James answered.
“Why would the four of you be staring so intently at a blank piece of parchment,” Filch asked with narrowed eyes.
“We were wondering how best to make you a card of course,” Sirius replied with a snicker.
“Yeah, what’s your favorite color?” Peter asked.
“Do you think I’m stupid?” Filch demanded.
“Is that a rhetorical question,” Remus questioned.
“Or do you require an answer?” James added.
“Ruddy berks,” Filch swore. “Well, if it’s just a bit of blank parchment, I guess you won’t mind if I take it.”
All four boys’ eyes widened, causing Filch to smile in victory.
“But it’s just a piece of paper,” Peter tried helplessly. “We can loan you another piece if you’d like.”
“No, I’ll keep this one,” Filch said. Folding the map up as he went, whistling happily as he made his way back to his office. The boys followed him. They made sure Filch saw them. If he thought they were attempting to steal it back, it would only add to his thinking that the paper was important, and ensure he put it in his maximum security hiding place—a place only the most committed of rule breakers would ever be able to find it.
“I’m going to miss that map,” Sirius said later that night as they sat in the boys dormitory, drinking a bottle of fire whiskey each.
“It’s given us a lot of good times,” Peter concurred.
“Not to mention the fun we had making it, and learning all about the castle,” Remus added.
“To the Marauders Map,” James said raising his bottle. “And to those genius creators, Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs.”
“Here, here!” The other boys responded.
“And to those future troublemakers, whoever they may be. May they use it well,” Sirius said, raising his own bottle.
“Merlin, I can smell the fire whiskey all the way over here,” Lily said as she sat down on the opposite side of the couch of James. “How much did you drink?”
“Not very much,” James said. “But Peter accidently spilled some on me when we were toasting something.”
“Toasting something? What on earth were you toasting?”
“The end of our wild and carefree marauding days,” James said wistfully.
“Yeah right,” Lily said with a snort. “The day Sirius stops marauding is something I’ll have to see to believe.”
“Okay, well maybe it’s not the end, but we had to do something responsible and it sucked.”
She surveyed him for several long moments.
“Do you want to talk about it?”
“I suppose it can’t hurt now that it’s gone,” James reasoned. “You always wondered how I was able to find you, wherever you were in the Castle.”
“Yeah and how you were having the lads search for Bertram Aubrey without leaving their beds.”
“We had a map,” James said.
“A map?” Lily questioned.
“We made it ourselves. It had the entire castle, all the secret passageways, and it showed everyone exactly where they were in the castle at any given moment.”
“The four of you never cease to amaze me,” she said. “That’s incredible magic, and you use it for pranks and adventures.”
“That’s why we’re the marauders, love,” James said with a grin.
“So why get rid of it now?”
“We didn’t want it to fall into the wrong hands,” James said.
“I think that’s smart,” Lily reasoned. “And for the record, I’m proud of you all. I know it couldn’t have been an easy decision. I’m sure you worked hard to create the map, so to just get rid of it must have been tough.”
“It was,” James concurred, “but the risk was too great.”
“And Aubrey never showed up on it?” Lily asked after several moments.
“No, never, but it only shows the out boundary of the forest. So he could have been in there and we wouldn’t have seen him.”
“And you said you didn’t know if it would show him if he were dead,” Lily asked.
“We never had any cause before to test it,” James said.
“No, I suppose you didn’t.”
They were quiet for a long time, each of them lost in their own thoughts before Lily’s burst out of her.
“I hate them!” She exclaimed. “It’s not right. It’s only the middle of November and we’ve lost three students! Three kids dead in just three months of school! The four of you shouldn’t have to worry about something you made falling into the wrong hands. Every set of hands in this school should be innocent, we’re all just kids, damn it! I hate that they’ve penetrated the walls of this school. I hate feeling like we’re amongst enemies. We should be safe here. We knew all along that the danger was waiting for us when we graduated, but now it’s not waiting. It’s already here! And it’s not fair. Kids should be safe in schools.”
“I know,” James agreed.
A/N: Okay, so I debated about changing this last scene between James and Lily. I debated it a lot, to be honest, more than I ever have any other scene. Lily was always supposed to say “kids should be safe in schools,” but following what happened in Newtown, I didn’t know if I should leave the line in or not. But in the end I decided to keep the line, and here’s why.
I’m a teacher. It’s what I’ve always wanted to be and currently I’m working as a teacher’s assistant for K-2 until I get a fulltime job. Seeing my 5,6, and 7 year olds, and knowing how innocent they are, made my heartbreak even harder upon watching the tragedy unfold.
Lily, more than any of the other characters, has always been my voice in the story. And she doesn’t say kids are safe in schools, she says they should be. And more than anything else it is my fervent belief that kids SHOULD be safe in schools.