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Before They Fall by Jchrissy
Chapter 17 : Breaking Curfew
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 14

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Perfect CI by heartfelt.@TDA
Chapter 17 - Breaking Curfew

The empty corridors were a godsend for Sirius. His patience didn’t need to be tested just then. The sound of his shoes trudging along the ground helped calm the angry boiling of his blood, but only by a fraction. He thought that if he got away from Belle the anger would subside, but so far that didn’t seem to be working. Now he probably just looked like a huge tosser for running off right after they finished talking. He just hoped she knew that he wasn’t mad because of-

“Hey!” The sound of James’s voice echoed through the silent corridor, but Sirius tried to ignore it.

“Sirius!” It came again, only a bit more forceful this time. He let out a sigh and slowed down. There wasn’t any real point in trying to avoid James. He’d apparently decided that they were going to talk, and once James set his mind to something, that was it.

“Well then,” James continued as he rushed over to close the distance between them. “Suppose you’re going to try and pretend you didn’t hear me?”

“Nope.” Sirius answered dryly. “I heard you from the start. I was just ignoring you.”

“Not very good at that, are you?” James must’ve realized that now wasn’t the time to joke with Sirius, because after seeing his best mate’s angry snarl, he quickly continued. “Well, you and Belle both seem to be a bit..”

“Messed up?” Sirius finished.

“Yeah. That’s a proper word for it. So, you want to fill me in?”

“Where did Belle go?” Sirius asked, ignoring James’s question.

“The common room with Alice and Lily.”

“Did she say anything about what we talked about?” God, he couldn’t handle telling the entire thing, he could barely handle hearing it.

“She didn’t, but she told Lily to. So she did.”

Sirius stayed silent as they reached the third floor, not knowing if he wanted to get into all of it just then. He stopped in front of the large windows and rested his elbow on the sill of it, trying to ignore the urge to put his fist through the thick glass.

“So, Lily told you guys everything?” Sirius finally asked. He knew whatever was raging around inside him wouldn’t go away on its own. But that didn’t mean he was ready to talk with James about it.

“Yeah. Lily told us. Are you angry Belle didn’t tell you sooner?”

“No,” Sirius answered, knowing that question would come next. “‘Course not. She thinks that though, doesn’t she?”

“Not sure. She just said that you took off right after you guys were done talking and you told her you’d see her later in the common room. I figured something must’ve gone wrong so I... found you.” James patted the pocket of his robe.

“You know, if I’d have known when we started making that map that you were going to use it to track me down, I never would have helped,” Sirius said, his lips tempted to curve into a sneer.

“Sure you would have. You always want to be found.” James said, leaning his back against the wall.

“No, I wanted to be alone.”

“No you didn’t, that’s why you were stomping about. Couldn’t even stand your own company with the mood you’re in.”

Despite Sirius’s attempt not to be amused at his best mate, he still found himself relaxing bit by bit. Maybe he didn’t want to talk about it... but would that really matter? James had already made up his mind that they would talk about it, and he didn’t feel like matching James stubbornness for stubbornness just now. They’d done that before, probably only a handful of times throughout their entire friendship, but it had certainly happened. It usually ended in the two of them pissed without even knowing why, and Remus and Peter having to play mediators.

“James,” he started as he slid to the ground, his tall frame no longer wanted to support himself. “You know what my parents were like. What mum was like. She hated me. Hates me still. But at least we understood how we felt about each other. There was never any pretending. They never thought they had much of a chance with me, and I knew the day I went to Hogwarts would be the happiest day of my fucking life.”

He leaned his aching head against the stone. James slid to the cold ground as well and pulled out a handful of chocolate frogs from his cloak pocket, then handed Sirius one.

“But with Belle,” he continued, pulling the card from his frog and immediately tearing it in half. The face of his great-great-grandfather Black was one of the last he wanted to see just then. “With Belle, it wasn’t the same with her and her family. It wasn’t a mutual hate. What they did to her for her entire life... not even just before she ran away.. but for her entire bloody life.” Sirius forced back the raw edges of his feelings and tried to keep his composure as cool as possible. “She told me more than she meant to, I think. More about growing up. They would do things, just cruel, fucked up things to make Belle feel like she had to be exactly what they wanted.

“My mum shouted and threw her temper tantrums and curses, but Belle’s mum would tell her not to eat that day because her robes looked too tight. When my mum was pissed at me, I’d know it and I’d make sure to stay clear or get ready to defend myself. And that’s better than what Belle had to deal with. Her parents would go days without talking to her. She’d have to figure out something she could do to make them pleased with her again so they’d stop pretending she didn’t exist.” Sirius cut himself off, knowing he had to stop or he’d get too emotional.

“It made you too angry, and you didn’t want Belle to see?” James questioned, his voice barely louder than the wind just outside their stone castle.

“Yeah. I got to that point where I just wanted to lose it. I wanted to go to France right then and make them regret ever treating her like that. You know that I didn’t want Belle to think she’d made me angry, but I just had to get away and calm down after we finished talking. Now I’ve probably gone and made her even more cross than I am.”

“You know what’s weird? I would have thought the same thing if I hadn’t seen her. but she didn’t seem angry or anything. She just seemed...tired.”

“Because,” Sirius started answering, shame spreading through him as the realization clicked into his mind. “She’s used to people walking away from her. She probably already figured I would.”

Sirius knew they’d only been there for maybe twenty minutes, but it felt much longer. More like hours had already passed with his body pressed into the rough wall and James sitting next to him.

From the day he’d met Belle, he understood that she came from a closet full of skeletons. He had enough of his own to recognize someone hiding theirs. And he never cared about that − he still didn’t. But how cold someone would have to be to fuck up a girl as sweet as Belle, it truly pissed Sirius off.

It wasn’t just that her parents were mean to her. Sirius knew that she would have been able to handle that. But they screwed with her mind. They made her feel worthless over and over, until she got so desperate for someone to care that she slept with the first bastard who pretended to love her... it was a lot for Sirius to take in. Most things didn’t shock him anymore. He’d seen too much darkness in his life to be surprised about the cruelty people were capable of.. But Belle was so caring. Knowing someone could do that to her, really hurt him. And he’d never been good at dealing with things that hurt him.

“You know,” he started, his throat so dry that his words came out in cracks. “I don’t know many people that would be strong enough to try it all again. To come to a different school, to have friends, to trust people.”

“I know someone who’s that strong,” James answered, glancing at Sirius from the corners of his eyes. “But don’t let that go to your head. The last thing I need is my best mate getting all cocky.”

Sirius smiled for the first time in what felt like ages. “It might do you some good. Then you’d be able to see what Remus, Peter and I have to go through every day.”

James shot him a sneer, but the look quickly softened. “Are you going to talk to her?”

Sirius stayed silent; there was really no point in answering James. They both knew what he would do. So instead of wasting his energy on words, he let out one of his famous sighs and began wondering if he could talk his best mate into going with him to the kitchens before they headed to the common room. He knew Belle had a sweet spot for any sort of chocolate dessert... maybe bringing something up to her would help smooth over the worst of the cracks he’d created earlier that night.

Lily pinned her Head Girl badge to the front of her robe before slipping out through the Fat Lady’s portrait. She made sure the shiny, red ‘H’ was clearly visible, hoping it would be enough to stop anyone from asking her what she was doing out after hours.

That wasn’t important right now, though. What was most important was that Belle was finally fast asleep.

Lily had no idea what happened during the talk with Sirius, but Belle had looked far from all right when she came to the deserted Great Hall. She didn’t say anything, just begged Lily to tell everyone about her past so there would be no more secrets and she’d never have to talk about it again. Lily did as her friend asked while Alice took her to the common room to try and figure out what was going on. As soon as Lily finished telling them the tale, she also left to go back up to Gryffindor Tower. But it had quickly become apparent that Belle wasn’t going to talk to her or Alice, or do anything more than stare off into space with those heartbreaking tears running over her cheeks. She wouldn’t say what Sirius said or did that upset her so much, she just kept saying that it was okay. But considering she was saying it while sitting as still as a statue and letting tears cover her, it was evidently a lie.

Lily had realized that the only thing that would help their friend would be sleep, so she’d gone to the hospital wing and told Madam Pomfrey that James was really sore and couldn’t relax. And just like that, she was given a large phial of Sleeping Draught. Which she and Alice promptly fed to Belle, and finally the girl slipped into a deep sleep.

Now that everything was calming back down, Lily really just needed to be away from it all. Away from the common room, away from the sounds of chess pieces smashing into one another, and away from all the Gryffindors who wanted to ask her this or that. She’d left the common room under the pretense of getting her rucksack from the Heads’ Quarters so that she could work on a few things while they waited for James and Sirius. Which probably was the truth, because that’s the direction she was currently walking, but it definitely hadn’t been the reason for her departure.

Lily tried to count the number of lies she’d told in the last hour. She’d lied to the matron about what she was doing with a potion; she’d left the common room after curfew knowing very well she would say she was patrolling if she were caught by a professor; she’d lied to her friends about what she was doing; and now, instead of going straight to the Heads Quarters, she’d just decided she would walk around a bit to search for James and Sirius.

She lied a total of, or was planning to lie a total of, three times in the last hour, as well as breaking school rules left and right. One thing was certain, James was wearing off on her.

She followed the twisting corridor down from the fourth floor to the third. She knew she didn’t stand much of a chance at finding the boys. The castle was too big and god only knew how many secret passages they could be holed up in. Really, she didn’t even know why she wanted to find them. Maybe she was worried about what kind of state Sirius would be in after seeing Belle look so terrible. She knew the reckless boy too well to think he intentionally hurt their blonde friend. Maybe he wasn’t always the most sensitive one in the bunch, but he was a good person that cared about his friends. Usually, he cared too much, which is what Lily suspected had been the cause of him taking off.

She lifted her fingers to her temples and began massaging away the ache that was finally lessening. Sure, she was breaking too many rules, but having a minute to just listen to the silence of the stone castle and enjoy the view of the world outside the tall, aged windows, was worth it.

She hadn’t even told Alice and Belle about kissing James in the hospital wing yet, there hadn’t been time between everything else. But that was okay, she would tell them soon enough. For now, it sort of felt like her own secret. Her own moment to prove to herself, to James, that she wasn’t scared of what a relationship could mean.

Lily had thought a lot throughout the day about the talk she had with her friends before the match stated. Honestly, she could barely get it off her mind. But that wasn’t all. She also thought about how proud she’d been watching James fly up there, so focused on the game that nothing else mattered. And how wonderful it had been to hug Olivia and William goodbye... what it felt like being wrapped tightly in the arms of a mother again, even if it wasn’t her own.

She’d also found herself dwelling on James’s attitude last Monday night. The look he’d given her when she told him that she was going to the wedding and how plainly the worry had been written on his face. He knew Petunia had hurt Lily; he didn’t want to see her hurt again. It was so simple, so sweet, that Lily was certain it was one of the things that helped her make up her mind.

And then, worst of all, she thought about how her stomach had lurched into her throat when James’s body hit the ground. How the collective gasp of fear from the audience had frozen Lily to the core.

Her feet hadn’t been able to move fast enough when she raced to the pitch. She’d ignored Madam Hooch when she tried to fight her way into the grass. And, though she wouldn’t be telling James this, she’d had to hold back her own tears at the sight of his body, turned and twisted as it lay helpless on the ground.

Yes, a lot of things had happened that day. And Lily now knew, without much of a doubt, that she was okay with where she and James stood. She was okay with being scared of what could go wrong, because she’d realized when she kissed James in the hospital wing, that what could go wrong was no match for what had the potential to go right.

Lily’s thoughts came to a halt as she turned into the second corridor and the sound of a voice rang off of the walls. At first Lily thought it was a professor, but as she neared the origin of it she realized that it was a student − no, students − and they seemed to be shouting. Her instincts ordered her to tighten her fingers around her wand as she quickened her pace down the long, dark hall.

“I was not up to anything,” came the angry squeak of a young girl’s voice just as Lily rounded the final corner. She was surprised when she saw Polly and Mary MacDonald, the sixth year Gryffindor prefect, standing off to the side with Abigail Brookwin, Evan Rosier, Burgess Mulciber and Severus Snape surrounding them.

“I have this handled, why don’t you lot clear off,” Mary MacDonald said, though her voice wasn’t nearly as confident as usual.

“She’s breaking curfew,” Abigail taunted. “So for all I know she was out causing trouble with her other Mudblood friends. She’s lucky we don’t have Burgess teach her a lesson the same way he taught you one in-”

“Excuse me,” Lily said, interrupting Abigail. “Is there a problem here?” Polly looked like she’d just taken her first breath in ages as she moved to the side of the group and ran over to Lily. Her small frame seemed even younger than usual with the obvious fear shining in her eyes.

“I’ll tell you what the problem is,” Abigail started, but Lily cut her off with an icy glare.

“Polly, can you tell me why you’re out half an hour passed curfew?” Lily asked, resisting the urge to kneel down and hug the girl.

“Yes Lily, um, Head Girl Lily. I wanted to write to my brother and tell him about the match, so I went and got my things and took them to the Owlry right after dinner. It must’ve been just around eight when I got there, then the letter took longer than I thought it would. I was heading back to the Gryffindor tower when I realized I left my broom in the closet near the Great Hall. James would murder me if he ever knew I left it unattended... so I was going to get it and that’s when Mary found me. She said she would go with me then walk me back to the common room, and then..” Polly glanced at the group of, not needing to finish the rest.

“Thanks for being honest Polly. Ten points from Gryffindor for being out past curfew, and if it happens again, it’ll be a detention.” The young girl nodded, clearly relieved that she was nearing the end of the entire ordeal. “Mary, can you escort her to the Gryffindor tower? Don’t worry about the broom, I’ll get it.”

Mary glanced over at Lily, her face still too pale. “Are you sure you don’t want me to stay?”

“No, don’t worry. Just get back quickly.” Mary nodded, and with one last look she and Polly took off down the corridor the way Lily had come.

“Now,” Lily started, her voice instantly losing the warmth it had held when speaking with her fellow Gryffindors. “Why don’t you tell me what the hell you’re all doing out here?”

She glanced at Mulciber first, his slick, oily features sending a flash of anger through her. She knew she needed to look away, the cruelty in his eyes only making her angrier, but she couldn’t handle the idea of having to look at Severus instead.

“Abigail is the only one who has any right to be here. Though that privilege will be taken away rather soon, I believe, when I discuss with Professor Slughorn what I just witnessed.”

“You know what I think,” Rosier slurred, his eyes drilling into Lily. “I think I have a lot more right to be wherever I want in this bloody castle than you, you filthy Mudblood. The only place you should be is on your knees trying to convince me to spare your pathetic neck when The Dark Lord takes over.”

Lily ignored the sting of the insult and kept her gaze steady. She wouldn’t look let the overgrown bully think he’d intimidated her.

“You want her on her knees, Evan?” Mulciber added, taking a step closer to Lily. “I’m not even sure I want her there. I don’t want her filthy mouth on any part of me.”

Lily felt her face turn red, but she still refused to look away. Her hand was steady inside her pocket. Her wand ready to attack if it came to that.

“Let’s just go,” Severus said quietly, and Lily knew he didn’t want to hear this anymore than she did. But that was the difference between them; that had always been the difference. Severus might not enjoy watching Lily, or anyone, get hurt... but he still stood with the side that caused it. He turned a blind eye while it happened, just like he had when Mulciber attacked Mary. And Lily was on this side of it. The side that refused to be ashamed of what kind of blood she possessed. The side that wouldn’t be made to feel weak because others believed them to be.

“Why, Severus?” Abigail taunted, running her hand down the arm of Lily’s former best friend. “Not still hung up on that filthy thing, are you? You know that Corliss wouldn’t be happy to hear that.”

Lily did meet Severus’s eyes this time. As much as she tried not to let herself think about it, she couldn’t stop. She couldn’t stop herself from wondering if all this was worth it. If getting to date the popular Slytherin girls and having the support of the most nasty lot in the school behind him, was worth the friendship he’d destroyed. She’d always known he’d wanted the power, wanted to be someone that everyone knew. But just then she could swear she saw a million regrets passing through his eyes, then, before she could even be sure, they were gone. The look seemed to be so fleeting that she wondered if she’d made it up in her own mind. Maybe part of her still needed to believe that he did regret it all.

“Let’s go,” Severus said again, his voice lower as he started to turn from and the rest of the group.

“I don’t think I’m done playing with her yet,” Rosier snarled, and Lily was taken by surprise when he stepped within inches from her. “It’d be nice to watch her stuck up arse get knocked down a few inches, wouldn’t it?” he continued, his hot breath falling over Lily’s skin. Part of her knew she should be afraid, because these weren’t people that cared. Not about the rules. Not about the possibility of getting kicked out of Hogwarts.. not about anything. But that part of her was too diluted in her own vexation, her own desire to drop her wand and rip into the boys flesh with her nails.

“You think you have it all, don’t you?” she hissed, knowing with the silence around them the entire group could hear. “You think your support, your family’s support of some deranged maniac makes you a God. One day you’re going to take it too far, Rosier. You’re going to realize what happens to arrogant bastards who think the world owes them, and by then you’ll be rotting in Azkaban. The only lips you’ll feel on you will be the Dementor’s when they take whatever parts of a soul you have left.” She realized she was pushing him too far. As the shadows darkened around his light eyes and she watched his face twist further into a sneer, she understood he wasn’t going to just continue trading her insult for insult.

She braced herself when she saw Rosier raise his hand, but she was quicker and already had her wand slipped out of her pocket. She screamed the incantation in her mind, and with the tiniest flick of her wrist, the boy in front of her went completely immobile before crashing to the ground.

“Nice one.” Lily let out an involuntary gasp as the deep voice broke through her concentration. She turned around, and her lips threatened to turn into a grin as Sirius and James walk from the shadows into the moonlit corridor.

“I swear,” Abigail hissed as she stepped closer to Lily, ignoring the newcomers completely. “On every bloody piece of gold my father has, that I’m going to get your dirty arse kicked out of this school. The second my parents hear about this, you’ll be on a train back to London.”

“You know, Sirius,” James said evenly as he stepped to Lily’s left side with Sirius flanking her right. “I’ve been wanting to test out that spell we invented. You know, the one that turns bitchy little tarts upside down and throws them out the nearest window.”

Abigail’s lip curled, but before she could speak Sirius was already taking. “I’ve been thinking the same thing, James. Only we could try and tweak it a bit to make sure it carries the tarts little boyfriends out with her, as well. The Black Lake seems like a good place for this lot to go.”

“Raise your wand and see what happens, you filthy blood traitors,” Mulciber growled. “Your little girlfriend is already going to get thrown out for cursing a student. Let’s see if we can get rid of all you scum in one night...” The challenge in his voice was clear, and before anyone could so much as blink the three boys had their wands drawn, pointing at one another.

Lily risked a glance toward Severus and felt her heart drop. Any hopes she may have been harboring about her former best friend being able to change were disappearing into the night air. The sight of his wand raised high, pointed at them, was all the answer she’d ever need.

“Oh my...” came a greasy voice from down the corridor, and Lily felt the anxiety swell inside her chest. “Oh my.. the Headmaster certain is going to love this, won’t he, my pretty?”

All the students stayed frozen, wands still out, as Argus Filch stepped into view, his scraggly hair swinging against his face and the homely looking cat at his side. “Lower your blasted wands and come with me. We’ll see that the lot of you are expelled before the sun comes up, isn’t that right, Mrs. Norris?”

Lovely, Lily thought. This night couldn’t get any better.

“I have never, not once in my years of teaching, witnessed such utter disregard for the rules of this castle!”

Lily kept her eyes on the dark, wooden floor as Professor McGonagall paced back and forth. She was almost certain that the deputy headmistress had seen more of a disregard for the rules. Honestly, she was nearly certain that James and Sirius disregarded them to this extent on a daily basis. But now was obviously not the time to mention that. None of the students had so much as opened their mouth since being ushered into the professor’s office. Even the Slytherins had the sense to stay quiet.

She glanced out of the corner of her eye as the sound of footsteps came up from behind her, and wasn’t surprised to see Professor Slughorn making his way into the office. Both professors had their night robes on, and if the situation wasn’t so serious Lily would have felt like laughing at Slughorn’s big, green nightcap with silver tassels. She always wanted to laugh when she was in trouble, though... even from the time she was a little girl and got a lecture from one of her parents... she supposed it was a nervous thing.

She knew that it wasn’t just the two professors, but that Professor Dumbledore was in the room as well, even if she hadn’t seen him yet. She could feel his powerful presence looming near by.

“Evening, Minerva,” Slughorn greeted without a trace of amusement in his voice as he stood beside the Gryffindor Head of House.

“Horace. Now,” she continued, her attention back on the students. “I want someone to tell me what occurred this evening, and it had better be the truth.”

Lily tried to concentrate on her breathing as the deputy headmistress spoke. She’d never, not in the seven years of her schooling, done something to merit the need for this many professors to be present. She could count the total detentions she’d ever received on one hand. But just now, she refused to care about what kind of trouble she might be in. Because, even if hexing another student hadn’t been the right thing to do, she couldn’t muster even an ounce of regret. They’d purposefully intimated a second year. They’d joked about an attack they committed against one of her Gryffindor mates. They expected to be able to walk all over her, expected her to just bow down to their pathetic arses and take their insults without standing up for herself. They deserved what had happened, and no amount of shame for breaking the rules would make her forget it.

“Mr. Potter and Miss Evans, please step forward,” came the sharp crack of McGonagall’s voice. “Miss Evans,” she continued after Lily and James stepped a few feet from the rest of the line. “I would like to know what happened this evening. Every detail.”

Lily nodded. Though she’d rather have kept looking at the ground, she raised her eyes to meet her professor’s.

“I needed a few minutes to myself and thought I’d take the opportunity of having some free time to do a patrol. I wasn’t scheduled for one this evening,” she added, not wanting to get herself in deeper by lying. “I was in the Gryffindor tower when I left just after ten o’clock. I’d decided to stay with my friends this evening instead of in the Heads’ Quarters, but then after all the drama of James getting hurt and a few other things that happened, I wanted a bit of time alone.” Professor McGonagall nodded, her thin lips remained closed. “I made it to the second floor when I heard something. I walked up behind them,” she nudged her head toward the place where the Slytherins were standing. “And they had cornered Mary, who was patrolling tonight, and Polly Turner, who was out after hours because she’d forgotten her broom in the closet next to the Great Hall. I deducted ten points from Gryffindor as punishment for Polly, and asked Mary to escort her back to the tower while I spoke with the Slytherins. I wished to not only address why they were out past curfew, except for Abigail because she was on patrol. But I also wanted to address the fact that I’d overheard Abigail calling Polly a Mudblood.”

“She’s lying,” Abigail burst out in the dramatic fashion that Lily had already anticipated.

She was about to argue Abigail's words and tell Professor McGonagall that Mary and Polly could both account for what she said, when Dumbledore interrupted from his place somewhere in the back of the room. “If I may, I would like to add that I’ve already spoken with the portraits on the second floor who bore witness to this evening’s... encounter.” Lily heard a strangled sound come from the Slytherin girl, who was clearly trying to fight the urge to continue with her false story.

Professor McGonagall nodded toward the headmaster before turning back to Lily, “Continue,” she ordered.

“We traded insults. I know I should have simply directed them all back to the dungeons and informed Professor Slughorn of his prefect’s behavior, but I didn’t. Rosier said something rather vulgar to me, and I replied with an... unkind response. He reached for his wand, so I hexed him.”

“He was not reaching for his wand! He was barely even speaking to her!” Abigail shouted again, her tone only growing more belligerent. “And he’ll be lucky if he recovers from that girl’s hex! He may not ever be the same after this!” Lily risked a glance over her shoulder, and noted that Rosier was putting on a good show as he sat flopped into the desk chair while the rest of the students remained standing.

“Hush up, you silly girl. It was a hex that even a first year could manage, though still not acceptable.” Lily nodded as the Professor’s eyes glanced back at her. “And what were you doing in the halls after curfew, Mr. Potter? Along with you, Mr. Black?”

“Professor,” James said, and Lily was surprised that his voice was sincere instead of the charming tone he typically used to avoid trouble. “There wasn’t any reason for us to be out. We just were. It’d been a long day, and then a long night, and we just needed some space.” McGonagall didn’t speak for a moment, probably surprised by his honesty. She gave him a curt nod before turning to face the other professor.

“And you,” Slughorn said, pointing a finger at his group of students. “What in god’s name did you think gave you all the right to go galavanting around the halls together? And bullying your fellow students, as well! Your position is already on probation Abigail. Do you have anything to say for yourselves?”

“I’ve just been so scared with all the things that have been happening,” Abigail started, her voice getting thick with false tears. “With the attacks always in the Daily Prophet, I was terrified of patrolling alone. And they, Severus, and Evan and Burgess, were very sweet and offered to spend their saturday night patrolling with me. I couldn’t bear the thought of walking around those dark corridors at night-”

“Did you ever voice these concerns to your Head Girl or Boy?” McGonagall asked sharply, obviously not buying the Slytherin girl’s act.

“Well, no, I didn’t want to be a bother... I’m sure you can understand.”

“I most certain can not.” Professor McGonagall countered. “Now, in the interest of getting a proper night’s rest, I believe we’ve heard enough.”

“Minerva,” Dumbledore interrupted, moving forward to stand by the woman’s side. “The story Miss Evans relayed to you varied ever so slightly from the one I was told by our lovely Portraits.”

Lily’s heart sped up, pounding against her chest. Her mind began racing through the evening, trying to find what she may have neglected to tell the Gryffindor Head of House.

“You see,” Professor Dumbledore continued, “what Miss Evans called ‘sharing vulgar insults’ doesn’t accurately describe what I was told occurred. I believe harassment of another student and prejudice against muggle-borns would ring more true.”

Lily wasn’t sure if she’d ever seen the professor angry, but as his blue eyes bore into Rosier’s, she understood why so many people feared Albus Dumbledore. She understood why he was a legend for his power...because she would almost swear that she felt it vibrating off of him as he kept his eyes locked on to the Slytherin.

“Very well,” Minerva continued. “Mr. Black and Mr. Potter, twenty five points apiece from Gryffindor for being out past curfew. If either of you so much as think about breaking another school rule, your badge will be in jeopardy Mr. Potter, and you won’t see another Hogsmeade for the rest of the year, Mr. Black. Miss Evans, despite not being scheduled to patrol, you were still doing just that. You won’t have any points deducted, but you will serve three detentions with Madam Pomfrey for hexing a fellow student. Be in the hospital wing every Sunday morning at seven sharp for the next three weeks.”

Lily tried to hide her surprise... but she wasn’t sure she succeeded. Madam Pomfrey only ever had students help her replenish and organize her potions and other Healing tools. Something that Lily actually enjoyed doing... but she obviously wasn’t going to argue.

“Professor,” James began, his tone much less agreeable than bore. “She was just trying to defend herself. You know Rosier would have cursed her!”

“Whether that may or may not be true, Mr. Potter, she was still the only student to curse another. Now, I suggest you hold your tongue before you risk more Gryffindor points.” James nodded, sending Lily an apologetic look.

Professor Mcgonagall turned her gaze from him to the Slytherin Head of House, and Slughorn took over. “Twenty five points each from all four of you. You three for being out past curfew,” he pointed a stubby finger to the Slytherin boys, “and you Abigail for allowing them to accompany you. Abigail, you will serve five detentions with the caretaker as punishment for abusing your power as a prefect. You’ll be with Filch every night this week from the second you finish dinner until the caretaker excuses you. Your may retain your position as prefect, but your privileges that come along with it are suspended until you return to school after winter holiday. I’ll be sending a letter home, as well.”

“You’re all excused,” McGonagall said, letting her eyes go down the line. “I trust you can get yourselves back to your common rooms without any more incidents. Mr. Potter and Miss Evans,” she added once the Slytherins began making their way toward the door. “If you’re going back to the Gryffindor common room, I’d appreciate if you passed this along to Miss Christopherson.” Professor McGonagall reached into her heavy desk and pulled a sealed envelope from it. Lily stepped forward to take it from her, and for a moment when her eyes met the professors, she was certain that they were smiling.

After apologizing one last time, Lily walked with Sirius and James from the office and into the empty corridor. Once they got to the first floor, James slowed down and slipped behind a large pillar.

“What..” Lily started, though she was rendered speechless when he and Sirius started shaking with laughter.

“We broke a dozen school rules!” she yelled, loud enough for them to hear through their own snickering.

James struggled to get out a sentence through his labored breathing. “We, we never, got our midnight snack.”

“And we,” Sirius began, his huge palm falling on Lily’s shoulder to steady himself. “And we, we were just going to go back to the common room after the kitchens. We didn’t even wear the cloak!”

“Oh god!” James shouted, practically holding his sides together. “We didn’t even wear the cloak! It’s in my pocket! Just sitting here.” He patted his pocket, causing him and Sirius both to delve even deeper into their hysteria.

“We broke a dozen school rules!” Lily said again. And then, without warning, a small bubble of giggles started building in her throat.

That only seemed to further exhilarate Sirius, his eyes watering from laughter as he spoke. “We broke a dozen damn rules! And we watched Lily curse Evan Rosier! That bloke has been blown up by Alice and now cursed into immobility by Lily!”

Lily knew she must be losing it. She must finally be going nutty. Because, for some unknown reason, she was standing behind a pillar while the hour ticked closer to midnight, laughing her head off with James and Sirius on either side of her.

Yes, James Potter was definitely wearing off on her.

As always, a huge thank you to my wonderful beta, CambAngst. So, what did you guys think of this chapter? Were you disappointed I didn't actually show the conversation between Belle and Sirius? I played with the idea, but it felt pretty redundant since we already know what happened.

Thank you so much for reading♥

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