Chapter 4 : Second Year: 1972
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“Lily Evans,” the Defence Against the Dark Arts professor read from his parchment. Lily looked up in surprise and he asked, “Do you have the homework done?”
She looked at him blankly. “There was homework?” She realised too late that she said the wrong thing as his expression darkened as the rest of the class sniggered. She blushed.
“Yes there was homework,” he thundered, slamming his hands on his desk. “Why did you not do it?”
She said fearfully, “I didn’t remember, I’m really sorry, Professor! I’ll hand it in tonight! I’m sorry.” She tugged on the ends of her hair, looking up at him sorrowfully. She really did forget as she’d been focusing on Potions.
He shook his head. “Detention tonight. Do the homework at a different time. I expect it to be handed in on Monday.”
Lily’s eyes filled with tears. She’d never gotten detention before. Mary whispered, “It’s okay. He’s just being a grump.” She put a hand around her shoulders as Professor Iratus collected everyone else’s work.
“James Potter,” he said. James looked up and handed in a piece of parchment looking far too pleased with himself.
“Here you go, Sir,” he said brightly. He started to make his way back to his seat next to his friends when the professor coughed loudly.
“Potter,” he said gruffly, “what is this?” He showed a picture of two people duelling with red sparks and captions surrounding it.
“That, Professor Iratus,” James said, sounding extremely smug, “is my homework. I learn better visually, y’know?”
The beefy neck of the professor started to turn red. Lily giggled in spite of herself and James looked at him expectantly. “This is not what I asked for,” he grunted.
“Ah,” James said, grinning. “You actually never specified what type of homework you wanted. If you look at my parchment you’ll see that I have all the correct information.”
The professor’s eye twitched. He slammed the parchment on the table and said, “Detention Potter. You didn’t do as I asked.” Lily and James both let out noises of indignation. Lily did not want to spend time with James and James had had a detention the previous night. “Quiet,” he barked. “Stay back after class and I’ll give you the details of the detention.”
James walked back to his seat, his head hanging slightly. Lily was even more upset. “The last thing in the world is to have a detention with him,” she complained to Mary.
Mary rolled her eyes. Lily was rather dramatic. “He’ll probably put you guys in a separate room anyway,” Mary tried to reassure her friend. “I wouldn’t worry about it.”
Lily nodded and then returned her attention to the professor. He finally collected everyone’s homework and started to talk about the theory behind the Tongue-Tying Curse. Lily dutifully wrote notes and at the end of the lesson she waited back with James. She wasn’t happy about it but she knew she’d be in more trouble if she left.
“Alright,” Iratus said gruffly, “you’ll be in the Trophy Room. The new caretaker, whatshisname,” he muttered, scratching at his bald head.
“Mr Filch,” Lily supplied helpfully. James resisted the urge to roll his eyes.
“That’s it. Mr Filch wants the trophies clean. He’ll supply you with the products and absolutely no magic. Don’t bring your wands,” he ordered, coughing. Lily nodded and he said, “Clear on tonight?”
“Crystal,” James said a little bitterly. The professor dismissed them and they walked out, not talking. “Well, I’ll see you tonight, Evans,” James said once they reached the common room.
She huffed and walked up to the girls dorm, wanting to have a small nap before dinner.
“Lily!” a voice called out. She turned around and saw Severus rushing towards her, his cloak billowing out behind him.
“Sev!” she said, grateful for any excuse to put off going to detention.
“Hey,” he said, “where are you going?” he asked reproachfully. He stepped out of the way as people pushed past him.
“I’ve detention. I forgot to do my Defence homework,” she explained with a grimace.
Severus looked down at his feet. “Oh. I thought we were going to study for Charms?” he said in a small voice.
Lily clapped a hand to her mouth. “Oh goodness! I completely forgot, I’m so sorry! We’ll have to do it another day, I’m sorry, Sev!” she said, looking apologetic. “Trust me, I’d much rather study for Charms than be stuck in detention with Potter. But I’ve got to go now, I’ll see you around?”
At the mention of James, Severus’ face darkened. He nodded, a little sourly, and bade her goodnight. She made her way to the Trophy Room, scowling at the prospect of spending all night with Potter.
“You’re nearly late,” a voice said from behind her. She jumped and saw James leaning against the doorway with a smug smirk. “Where were you?”
“None of your business,” she shot at him. He rolled his eyes but before he could say anything, the new caretaker arrived with two buckets and two sponges.
He told them that he would check on them every hour until all the trophies in the room were cleaned. Lily and James both stared at him incredulously but he left before they could argue about it, cackling.
“Git,” James muttered, rolling his sleeves up. Lily privately agreed. “So should I do this half and you do that half?” he asked.
Lily nodded. “Sure. I’ll just go over there then.” She blushed and he looked at her oddly but scurried away before he could comment on it. She could feel his stare on the back of her neck so she rolled her own sleeves up before plunging the sponge in the soapy water.
The two worked in silence for a long time, not even speaking when Filch checked on them. After a while, James got sick of the silence. “So, Evans. What are you doing for Christmas?” he asked conversationally.
Lily resisted the urge to make a biting remark. It wouldn’t be good to be rude to a person that would be stuck in the same room as her for a long time. “Going home, most likely. What about you?” she said, scrubbing the finger marks off of a Quidditch trophy.
James shrugged. “Dunno yet, Mum and Dad will probably want me to stay here. They’re heavily involved with fighting against Voldemort and—” Lily nearly dropped the trophy she was holding and let out a squeak. James turned around and asked, “Are you okay?”
She nodded. “Yeah, sorry. You just startled me with using You-Know-Who’s name,” she explained, putting the trophy back on the shelf delicately.
“Ah,” James said in understanding. “Yeah, my parents told me that I shouldn’t be scared of a name. It’s ‘just a bunch of letters thrown together,’” he imitated his mother with a high pitched voice. Lily giggled. He grinned at her and returned to scrubbing a trophy won for the Gobstones tournament in 1763.
“So what were you saying before?” Lily prompted as she realised James wasn’t going to say anything.
“Oh, I forgot I was saying something!” he said, laughing. He shook his head, thinking about what he had been saying previously. “Um, I was just going to say that they’re involved with fighting against him and to keep me protected they like me staying at school as much as I can.” He didn’t look too alarmed by this.
“Doesn’t that scare you?” she asked. He looked at her in confusion so she clarified, “Doesn’t it scare you that he’s becoming a lot stronger? That you’re in possible danger?” At twelve years old, Lily thought he was awfully brave.
He shrugged, not looking concerned by it. He dipped the sponge back in the water and said, “Sometimes I get scared, but I remember that my parents have been fighting him for a long time. They’re one of the best out there. And I’ve kind of grown up with it, by now. Being scared wouldn’t do any good.”
Lily was surprised. The boy was well beyond his years. “Wow,” she commented. “That’s…”
“Not what you expected?” he said with a twinkle in his eye. “I swear I’m not a total immature prat.”
Lily laughed. “I see that now.” She really did. He just smiled and returned to cleaning the last of the trophies when a few minutes later he finally completed the arduous task.
“Finally!” he said, dropping his sponge in the bucket with a splash. He cracked his knuckles and said happily, “It’s all over!” He wiped his hands on his robes and rolled his sleeves down, turning his wrists around.
“Lucky,” Lily said enviously. “I still have to do this shelf.” She gestured to the shelf on her right. She grimaced at the thought of staying here for any longer.
“Do you want some help?” James offered. “Filch won’t let us leave until we’ve both finished. He’s an idiot.” James scowled, thinking of the odd caretaker. He’d had a few too many detentions with him already.
“Is that okay?” Lily asked nervously. “I feel bad because then you’ve done more than me.”
James shrugged and rolled his sleeves up again. “Yeah, it isn’t that bad. And don’t worry about it; I think I had the smaller half anyway.”
Lily knew he was lying but she appreciated it. She gave him a smile and returned to wiping down the gold surface. James stood next to her and grabbed one of the trophies from the shelf.
The pair worked in silence until James asked, “How come you forgot to do your homework? That’s never happened before.”
Lily blushed. “I’ve just been focusing on Potions with—” she broke off, not sure whether to mention Severus. James and him never got along. “—with my friends,” she finished lamely.
If James noticed her little stumble, he didn’t comment on it. “What about you?” she asked tentatively.
He laughed. “I did my homework, Evans. Apparently it wasn’t up to his standards,” he said, grinning.
Lily blushed. “Oh yeah, I forgot. So why did you do that?” she asked curiously. “You must’ve known he’d get mad.”
James nodded. “Oh I did. But I only remembered to do it when we were in Herbology. So I obviously didn’t have time to write a whole essay so I thought I’d just draw a picture with minimal explanations hoping that he’d give me extra points for creativity.”
Lily laughed loudly. “That might work with someone like Dumbledore but not Iratus. Oh look, we’ve finished!”
“We have,” James noticed. Lily looked at him, hoping he’d know what to do next. “No, I don’t know what to do next,” he said, as if reading her mind.
“Oh, I was hoping you would. Y’know, because you’ve had a lot of detentions,” she said bluntly.
James laughed loudly as he was rolling down his sleeves. “Usually I get lines. The teacher usually watches me closely so they just dismiss me when I’m finished.”
Lily nodded and then sat down in the middle of the floor. James looked at her oddly so she said, “Well, we may as well wait here. It’s a better alternative than getting in detention again for leaving before we were dismissed.”
James agreed and sat down next to her. He tapped his leg in an odd beat and asked, “So… what do you want to do?” Lily shrugged but then he clapped a hand to his pocket. “I have Exploding Snap! Wanna play?”
Lily nodded and scooted closer to him. “Sure! Do you wanna start?”
James nodded and they started to play. It seemed to be a very intense game as James and Lily ended up yelling at each other.
“I WON!” she shrieked. “Admit it!”
“Never! You didn’t win, you cheated!” he retaliated.
“How do you cheat in Exploding Snap?!” She threw her hands up in the air exasperatedly.
James grinned. “That’s exactly what I want to know.”
Lily huffed in annoyance. She put her cards down and folded her arms. “You’re such a sore loser!”
James laughed and said, “Just say that you cheated and then everything will be fine.” He ran a hand through his hair.
Lily twirled her hair around her index finger. She thought about the request James had made. “Hmm…” She leaned forward and nearly touched her nose with his. He leaned back, looking slightly uncomfortable and she smirked.
“No!” she shouted, causing him to jump and his glasses to nearly fall off. She laughed and returned back to her position. James was bright red and fixed himself up. “Want another round?” Lily asked, collecting the cards up.
“Sure, why not?” he said, looking distinctly ruffled. Lily laughed to herself. James was surprisingly a great person. Maybe they had just gotten off the wrong foot.
James grinned and dealt the cards again, his cheeks still a bit red. Lily stayed quiet and then said curiously, “Filch hasn’t checked up on us lately.”
James looked up. “Yeah, you’re right. We have been shouting, so he’s obviously not near us,” he said thoughtfully. “Should we see if we’re meant to leave or have another round?” he asked.
Lily grinned. “Another round. I want to beat you again.”
“Never going to happen, Evans,” he said cheerfully. “Cheaters never win.”
“That’s why I won before, because I’m not a cheater,” she said, sticking her tongue at him.
He flicked a card at her and watched it explode. She squealed and jumped back. He laughed and gathered the cards up again. They were quite silent at first, but slowly they started to raise their voices at each other.
“You’re such a whiner, Potter!” Lily said, laughing at his singed eyebrows.
“I am not!” he protested, grinning. He self-consciously patted his eyebrows and Lily had tears forming in her eyes from his shame and embarrassment. She loved beating him in things; it always gave her a sense of satisfaction.
“Anyway,” she said, “should we go see if Filch is outside?” She pulled herself up and brushed down her robes. James nodded and also stood up. “Can you check?” she asked him, not wanting to see the strange caretaker.
James looked unwilling but at Lily’s pleading look, he said resignedly, “Fine.” He poked his head out the door warily and then gestured for Lily to come closer. She stood next to him nervously and he whispered, “He’s asleep.”
Lily stuck her head out of the door and saw the caretaker sleeping in a chair with his strange cat in his lap. The cat was also asleep. “Should we leave then?” she whispered to James.
He nodded. “Come on, follow me.” He grabbed her hand and led her outside, being very careful not to wake Filch or his cat.
Together they tiptoed out the Trophy Room and past Filch but they were just about to get away from him when the cat opened its yellow eyes.
The two froze in horror. She blinked at the pair of second years and growled.
“No, shh!” Lily hissed. “Please be quiet, kitty!”
The cat growled again as James took another step. He looked at Filch in case he decided to wake up but he was still fast asleep.
“Lily, let’s just go!” he whispered, “The cat can’t do anything!”
Lily looked warily at the cat but nodded, wanting to get away from it and Filch. However, as soon as they took a few more steps, The cat let out a loud noise and woke the caretaker up.
“RUN!” James screamed as soon as Filch jolted awake.
Lily ran as fast as she could and was still holding James’ hand. He was nearly dragging her as she couldn’t keep up with his long legs. Her chest felt like it was on fire and they could hear the footsteps of Filch behind them.
“Students out of bed!” he was croaking. “Students out of bed!”
“Come on, Lily!” James urged her.
“I’m—sorry,” she wheezed. He just tugged on her hand as they ran up the stairs until they were stopped by Peeves.
“What’s this?” the Poltergeist said, bobbing in front of them. “Naughty second years out of bed?”
“Peeves,” James pleaded. “Please don’t let Filch find us. We just got out of detention.”
Peeves cackled and said, “Naughty Potter and Evans sneaking around the castle at night! K—I—S—S—I—N—G!”
Lily felt her whole face bloom red and James’ cheeks turned an ugly red. “Peeves!” he said angrily. Peeves kept cackling and singing rude songs about the two of them. James just grabbed Lily’s hand again and tried to dodge Peeves so they could return to their common room.
He started to throw chalk at the pair and cackled as they ran away screaming. They tried to throw the chalk back so he started screaming, “STUDENTS OUT OF BED! STUDENTS OUT OF BED!”
James shoved Lily in a closet and shut the door as they heard Filch catch up with Peeves.
“Peeves where did they go?” he asked urgently. Lily tried to quieten her pants and James had his ear pressed up against the door, listening intently.
“Where did who go?” Peeves asked innocently. Lily let out a relaxed breath and James shushed her.
Filch snapped, “This is no time to be smart, Peeves! Where did they go?!” Peeves cackled and they then heard Filch scream, “No, don’t throw chalk at me! Stop it instantly! Tell me where they went! PEEVES!” There was a loud smash as it sounded like a suit of armour was broken.
The sound of chalk being thrown and Filch’s screaming eventually disappeared but the two stayed in the closet for a little bit longer in case someone was still out there.
James eventually opened the door slightly but then closed it quickly shut. Lily was about to ask why but he hushed her quickly and put his ear to the door again. Lily joined him this time and he shuffled over so she had some space.
“…Headmaster. He is rude and doesn’t respect the staff!” they heard Filch saying.
Dumbledore gave a small chuckle. “On the contrary, Argus, I feel that Peeves brings this castle lively entertainment.”
“But Headmaster! He broke this suit of armour!” Filch protested. “He needs to be kicked out!”
“No matter, I can repair this. You may leave now,” Dumbledore replied, his tone implying that Filch shouldn’t argue. They could hear Filch muttering curses under his breath and they heard the suit of armour being fixed.
The door opened and the two saw Dumbledore staring down at them with a small smile. “Would you like to come out now? Broom closets are not the most comfortable of places,” he said with a twinkle in his eyes.
“P—Professor,” Lily stumbled. “We weren’t trying to—”
The Headmaster held a hand up. “You were just trying to avoid another detention, I understand.” James and Lily looked at each other incredulously and Dumbledore chuckled. “Detention is not a fun activity.”
“You’re telling me,” James said, grinning at the Headmaster, much more relaxed that now he knew they weren’t going to get in trouble.
Dumbledore gave them a small smile and said, “You will not be receiving another detention, do not worry. Now, off to bed! The Quidditch match is very early tomorrow; you wouldn’t want to miss it.”
The two nodded and bade the Headmaster goodnight. Lily whispered to James, “Dumbledore is quite odd, don’t you think?”
James turned around and saw the old Professor watching them with a twinkle in his eye. He said, “If you are any later, the Fat Lady will not be happy with you waking her up.”
They both laughed and walked a bit more quickly to the common room. They reached the Fat Lady’s portrait who was just about to fall asleep.
“If you were any later I would have been extremely annoyed with you two!” she scolded but allowed them in as they said the password.
“Dumbledore is a bit mad,” James said as they walked in, “but he’s also bloody brilliant.”
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