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Chapter 24 : The Potionís Ingredient Encyclopedia Theory
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James was up to something. What was he up to? I don’t know, and I have yet to figure it out. It was one of the more madding things in this life. This James was harder to figure out than the other James. I didn’t know what he was doing, but he was doing something.
My first clue that he was up to something was when he started reading, suddenly. What was he reading? Well, it certainly wasn’t a Potion’s Ingredient Encyclopedia. That’s what the cover says and sure the inside was vaguely similar to that, but I know that’s not what it actually is. And when I get my hands on that book, and figure out the dumb spell he used to conceal the true content of the book, James Sirius Potter, mark my words, I will figure out whatever you’re up to.
These thoughts continued to rant and rave inside my head as I tried to figure out what James was doing. I have three theories. The first and most likely one is James up to nothing. I’ve cracked somewhere from Azkaban to now and I’m insane. Making up crazy theories is just what I do in my spare time. The second crazy theory, he was actually interested in becoming a world class potion maker. I disregarded this one quickly. James was intermediate at Potions and Slughorn gave him Outstanding’s just because he’s a Potter and ‘showed promise.’ And third theory is that he was trying to make me think he was up to something. This one was the most elaborate and well thought out theory. James was pretending to read to fake me out and make me crazy. Eventually, when he let’s be examine the book, I’ll find out it really is the Potion’s Ingredient Encyclopedia and determine that it really was theory number one however, once I determine I’m insane, this allows James plot and continue with his actually plan…that I have still yet to figure out. The more I think about it the more I conclude it is theory one and I’m crazy now. But would a crazy person admit that they are crazy? That’s why it’s theory three! I knew it! James Sirius Potter, you are one sneaky bastard.
I groaned as my inner turmoil continued quarrelling with the different theories. I looked across the table at my new best friend and my second new best friend. Both were a general pain in my bottom. If anyone was more of a handful than James Sirius Potter, it was Fred Weasley, whom had just ‘perfected’ Coffee Toffee and wanted me to compare and contrast with the previous one.
James was hard at work reading his ‘Encyclopedia’ and Fred was trying to levitate the couch James was on. Meanwhile, I was currently going insane and no one could stop it now. I looked fondly over at them. That use to be James and myself, and Remus was always trying to keep them out of trouble. Instead, new James took old James’ spot, Fred took mine, and I was the moody werewolf that was panicked about my friends discovering my secret. Except instead of being a werewolf I was Sirius Black. Personally, I’d rather be a werewolf. At least then I could concluded James was reading a book about become an Animagus typically named ‘Taming your Animal Within’ or ‘Becoming Fuzzy: An Animagus Guide.’
That’s what James and I were reading our whole second year the first time around. Well, James read and then summarized for me later when we snuck to the kitchens. Then I re-summarized for that bastard Wormtail. Huh, I’m still angry at him…
I turned to my assigned reading that Neville and Minnie had given me at the start of term. Over Christmas break my gifts from them included more books. Isn’t that thoughtful…
My current book was ‘Harry Potter: Hero or Has-been?’ written by Rita Skeeter. Most of it was funny and described Harry’s life before the fame hit him. According to Rita Skeeter, Harry was adopted by his loving aunt and uncle and they loved him more than their own son Diddley, whom slept in the garage. I was currently reading about how Harry tamed his werewolf teacher Wooping and became an Animagus to defend his friends and godmother Shirley Lack. I think the thing that most offends me is that I’m a women in her version of this.
I scoffed every now and then as Rita describes Harry’s Patronus as the whimsical combination of his long-lost sister and brother. Honestly, I expected to be sad reading about Harry’s life. But Rita has somehow made everything Harry did funny and close enough to false. I don’t understand why Harry let this publish.
I laughed loudly as Harry’s godmother – now called Sherry Slack – rode off on a unicorn after telling Harry not to enter the Triwizard Tournament next year, but because he is a ‘fame crazy teen, eager for more dramatic events to unfold, he is sure not to listen.’
James now leaned over and looked at what I was reading. James laughed too.
“Wait until you get to the part where Harry fights off a team of angry vampires in the fourth task of the Triwizard Tournament.” James laughed.
“I thought there were only three tasks?” I turned to him.
“That’s what you find wrong about my previous statement?” James pulled his book back up and I realized that Fred was gone. Probably off to the kitchen or after some innocent first years to give Coffee Toffees too.
“So what’s the news on Potion’s Ingredients?” I glared at the book, as if I could will it to change with my mind.
“On what?” James asked unfocused.
“Oh…It’s good. You know, learning lots about ingredients and which ones to use…you know…in potions…” James mumbled not looking up from his book.
“Really, now…So what temperature is Antimony kept, normally?” I asked him.
“Room temperature.” James said frowning.
“Wrong, maybe you should look it up…”
James snapped his book shut and turned back to me. “You don’t know, either. You just made that up.”
“Antimony is kept at 635 degrees Celsius. Its melting point is just below that so it’s charmed to be that temperature in the vile and remains a liquid form.” I told him matter-of-factly. “When the charm breaks, there have been reports of Potion Masters losing a figure or two from the hot temperature – temporarily of course – and that’s why we don’t typically use the ingredient until our fifth year, although there have been exceptions.”
James frowned. “I haven’t gotten to that one, yet.”
“You haven’t gotten to ‘A’? That the first letter of the alphabet, James. And it looks like you’re almost done.” I smirked, knowing that I had him cornered.
James glared at me. “I’m not going in order…”
“Cut the crap, James. What are you really reading?” I glared back.
“If you’re so smart…” James smirked. “…figure it out.”
“I’ve tried.” I admitted grudgingly. “But I can’t!”
James opened his book, again. “Well, that’s too bad then. If you’ll excuse me…”
Well, theory one was void now and theory two was just ridiculous. Theory three didn’t work if I didn’t believe in theory one, so onto secret theory four: taking the damn book.
I jumped up and pulled the book away from him, then ran out of the Common. This was a good plan in theory. In practice, I smashed right into the innocent bystander that was on the other side of the door. As I majestically toppled over that person, James caught up.
The book was lying a few feet from him and I watched him reclaim it, with another smirk. “Thank you, Dom.”
“What does your cousin have to do with this?” I managed to sit up.
James just pointed beside me and I finally saw the person I tumbled into. Dominique Weasley, was sitting up next to me and rubbing her head. Amelia, was trying to help her up and looking worried about her friend. Meanwhile, Dom looked murderously between me and James.
“What in the bloody hell were you two doing?” She hissed as Amelia got her back up on her feet.
James, the traitor, helped me up with his book-free hand, ignored his cousin and instead smiled at Amelia. “Did you get your Christmas present?”
Amelia nodded and took out her muggle calling device. “Thank you, James. I can now call my parents and brother.”
“Anytime.” James gave her a sheepish grin and then ran his hand through his hair.
I was reminded of the first James and quickly vanished the thought. If he was really like the first James he would have already asked Amelia out for the tenth time today. Overall, score would be about five hundred or so.
“Excuse me, but you still haven’t answered my question!” Dom glared at us.
“Sirius was just playing around, Dom.” James said smoothly. “Don’t worry, you’re still beautiful as ever.”
Dom pushed us aside as she entered the Commons. Amelia followed sending us apologetic nods.
“Sorry, Dom!” I yelled after Dom, but she ignored me.
I now turned to James, who was staring after Amelia. I sighed and caught his attention. He frowned and closed the portrait behind them then leaned against the wall and sat down on the floor.
“I can’t tell you yet, Sirius.” James said in a sad voice.
I sat down next to him and sighed again. “Is it dangerous?”
“Yes.” James admitted.
“To others or yourself?” I didn’t expect him to answer at all so I was going to take advantage of this.
“Myself.” James grinned.
I rolled my eyes. “Will you tell me if you’re in over your head again?”
“Probably, but don’t worry.” James nudged me in the side and winked. “I have a plan.”
“That’s what I’m afraid of…” I grumbled.
James laughed. “Don’t worry, Sirius. You’ll be the first to know when or if I need any help.”
James got up and I followed his suit. A little more pleased that I at least knew James was doing something stupid and dangerous and it wasn’t all just theories.
The remainder of the week went by fast. I began meeting more with Neville, who informed me that I now had the honor of attending a council meeting at the Ministry with him to give my testimony about werewolves and the pureblood case.
Neville and I were forging documents and hard at work creating my fake identity for the one day I needed to appear. Meanwhile, Lowsley thought that I was taking private lessons from Neville, instead of him. I had great pleasure in encouraging this rumor so he could feel jealous and rejected. I even loudly told James and Fred – in the middle of Defense Against the Dark Arts – about the new spell Professor Longbottom just taught me.
Neville asked that I not cause too much trouble, but he also asked that no one know the true reason we are meeting. And since I could only promise one I ran with what made me happy. On Friday, right before the Gryffindor and Slytherin match and the council meeting, Fred informed us that Madison wanted us to have a final practice before the big game. I groaned internally, I was in for a rough night. Between Quidditch and my secret life with Neville, I was going to be worn out by tomorrow night.
Fred ran over play ideas with me during our last class of the day, while James actually paid attention to Professor Flitwick.
After Charms, Fred ran off to collect our brooms from the dorm and said he’ll meet us on the field if we bring him some food from the Great Hall. On our way, James and I took turns hexing the prefects we passed in the Hall. The trick was not to let them notice. I taught James this fine art before Christmas and three detentions later, he had finally gotten it. I used a spell to turn the Hufflepuff prefect’s eyebrows green. James used a spell to make the Gryffindor prefect’s bag rip open from the bottom. After the deed was done we would continue walking like nothing happened.
Upon entering the Great Hall I watched as James had just tried to turn my eyebrows blue, when I caught him. His head then darted to a girl at the Gryffindor table. I smirked as I found where his gaze had fallen.
I nudged James forward. “Go talk to your girl…friend…”
James glared, but stepped forward toward Amelia and sat on her left as began to mutter something that sounded like he wasn’t going to be coherent for a while so I took a seat next to Dom, who was on Amelia’s right.
“Good afternoon, Blondie.” I said grabbing two plates and filling them both with food.
“Good afternoon, Piggy.” She rolled her eyes. “Are you going to eat all of that?”
“No, I’m not, Princess. Most of it is for your crazy cousin.” I informed her, filling up Fred’s plate more than my own.
“I didn’t know that James incapable of making his own plate now. I do wonder how he got along without you doing it the first week of school.” Dom laughed.
“Wrong crazy cousin.” I corrected. “And for future reference I only make James’ plate on the weekends.” I added sarcastically.
“Well, if it’s for Fred you should already know that he’s been down here and shoveled food into that pie hole he calls a mouth.” Dom told me.
“Well, aren’t you just charming today.” I laughed as I took a bite of chicken and wondered how Fred managed to beat us. James and I probably lingered too long on the fourth floor when Peeve was sticking gum to the shoes of everyone who walked by.
“I’m always charming, if you didn’t notice.” Dom smiled and winked at Eric Davison who had just walked by, he then proceeded to trip and fall on the benches farther down the table.
“Sure you are, Princess.” I took a biscuit off my plate and opened it. “Why are you being nice to the general Hogwarts population? That’s not like you.”
“I’m sorry to inform you Sirius, but you don’t know me.” Dom glared at me now.
“I know that without your little crowd and with just Amelia around, you are a whole lot...well, let’s be nice and say unsociable.” I sent her a charming smile back.
Just as she seemed to come up with a witty retort, Amelia laughed and James smiled. Dom and I jumped slightly and I was starting to come under the impression that Amelia didn’t dislike James as much as she use to anymore. Amelia gently shoved James’ arm and James began talking in an excited voice, apparently getting over his mumbling issue he had developed a minute ago.
Dom turned to me now and glared. “What’s his deal?”
“What?” I asked confused.
“James, why is he giving things to Amelia and trying to be…nice…” Dom looked over her shoulder and glared a little more at James.
I raised an eyebrow. “Are you jealous?”
Dom frowned now.
I laughed and she tried to hit me. I dodge and looked back at her. She crossed her arms and now spoke in a hushed voice. Low enough so only I could hear. “I’m not jealous, like that…” Dom said. “I just…I don’t want James to date her…”
I grinned, knowing the exact feeling she had, because I somewhat had the same feelings a long time ago. More than once I had initially been against James and Lily dating, fearing that James would not spend as much time with the Marauders. Looking back on it, I now felt silly for ever having those feelings, but back then I felt like they were totally justified.
“Don’t worry, they aren’t going to date…yet…” I told her.
“What do you mean…yet?” She glared. “I don’t want them dating at all.”
“By the time they are dating you’ll have a boyfriend of your own. There’s nothing wrong with them being friends for now.” I shrugged.
“She’s my friend.” Dom said rather forcefully.
“So that means she can’t be James’ friend?” I asked, unsure what her answer would be.
“That’s correct!” Dom nodded and turned to get up. As she stood up, Amelia looked after her and stood up too.
“Bye, James! Bye, Sirius!” She nodded as she followed Dom quickly.
James looked at me now. “What was that about?”
I shook my head. “Don’t worry about it.”
I took this chance to grab Fred’s plate and pull James out of the Great Hall and off to Quidditch practice. As we walked to the Pitch – eating bits of Fred’s plate – I wondered if I should warn James about Dom and her overprotective friendship with Amelia. James had just hurdled one obstacle and now Dom is presenting another one. As I took another piece of chicken from Fred’s plate I decided to wait until James was actually sure of his feelings.
After all, what’s the worst that could happen.
“Well, that was a horrid practice.” James groaned as he collapsed onto the bench in the changing room.
I had already changed and sat on the end of the bench James had just collapsed onto, grinning at my best friend.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. Fred and I had a blast – watch it, now!” I said jumping up as James tried to kick me.
“You hit me with a Bludger – eight times!” James shouted.
“Really, only that many? I counted at least ten.” I caught his watch that he suddenly threw at me.
“Come on, James. It’s all good fun. If you can dodge mine and Fred’s hits then chances are you can dodge anything Slytherin throws or hits at you tomorrow.” I told him.
“Why are we playing Slytherin last? I thought they were always first…” James mumbled, still angry at me.
“Slughorn asked to play us last. I think he’s hoping to build up the team, especially after last year’s game.” I shrugged as Fred came running into the room. Before Christmas break we played our first game against Ravenclaw who put up quite the challenge. We won, but just barely and we happened to get the Snitch as well. Hufflepuff was after break and we wiped the Pitch with them, James alone scored over fifteen goals. It was a shock that Slytherin wasn’t our first match, but it was just as exciting, because according to Madison, they were doing just as good as we were.
“Good game, Sirius.” Fred patted me on the back and then leaned over James. “Did Jamie have a hard time running into Bludgers.”
“I hate you both.” James pushed his cousin away. “I can’t believe everyone else dodged so easily, it’s like you only hit it hard at me.”
“What do you mean ‘it’s like’? That’s exactly what we did.” Fred laughed madly as James made an attempt to get up and strangle him.
A few death threats later and Nosebleed Nougats astray, we finally left the changing rooms and started back up to the castle. James was considerable less angry at us – considering, he managed to punch us both in the face – but still seemed distracted by something and kept looking behind him.
I finally looked too and didn’t notice anything strange. “What’s wrong, James?”
“I’m still wondering why Al went into the forest.” James said at once.
Fred looked back at the Forest now. Although, he didn’t have the pleasure of going on our nighttime adventure last time, he did hear about it. We both got detentions for being out of bed after hours – McGonagall found us and looked like she was a debating inside whether she was amused or angry with me, James had a very small role in her overall mood. She did however, mutter a few curses at the original James Potter and myself, more than once. I’m sort of afraid that I’m driving Minnie into an early retirement.
“Do you want to check it out again?” Fred asked.
I frowned, noticing that we had now all stopped and James had a very thoughtful look on his face.
“I don’t have the Cloak…and I don’t really care for another detention…” James said turning back to the school.
I let a sigh of relief out. I thought that I had won. I thought that we were out of trouble, but I didn’t account for Fred and how resourceful he is.
Fred grabbed James’ arm and winked. “I got us covered.”
Fred suddenly pulled out something that looked vaguely similar to the Marauders’ Map. I froze. Was this the real thing or another ‘prototype’? I began to panic as he opened it up and I saw the prefect outline of Hogwarts once again.
James however, gave it one look and frowned. “Not this again. It doesn’t work!”
I let out the breath I had been holding and walked over to join them. This was clearly the same Map that Fred had previously used, but instead of black blobs everywhere there was none. In fact, besides the outline – there were no dots or any indication that this Map had any magical enchantments over it.
Fred let out a huff and flipped to the place we were. I noticed that there was a dot where we were positioned – with no name beside it. I raised an eyebrow at it and looked at James. He looked slightly impressed by Fred’s handiwork.
“This is…somewhat an improvement from the last bit of work you managed to conjure up…but it still doesn’t help us…it only shows our location…” James looked a little relieved though at this aspect. I wondered what he was relieved about, maybe he wanted the Map to use himself and regretted losing the old one. I know I missed it, but was thankful it wasn’t in their hands.
“It works on certain people right now. Like it works on McGonagall and one of you two for some reason, sometimes it works on both. It also worked on Lowsley, Neville and Shookwick. I checked outside their offices before break, you know the day Sirius got to skip some classes. So it works on the important Professor’s right now who would be the most likely to catch us on our journey back to the Gryffindor tower.” Fred explained – pointing to it proudly.
I was slightly awed by Fred’s work now. Sure it wasn’t as helpful as it could be, but it took James, Remus and I the majority of our fifth year to figure out advanced spells and charms – just to get the bloody position of everyone on the Map. Fred had somehow figured out how to do this for a few people and he was only in his second year.
“Hang on!” James said flipping through the Map. “It’s not showing them now…”
“It only works if they are within a certain distance of the Map…” Fred finally admitted its gapping flaw, giving us a sheepish grin.
Although it was against my better judgment and I protested for a good ten minutes – not too much though, because I was curious too – we began our adventure into the Forbidden Forest, yet again. Fred handed me the Map, saying it was no use while we were in the Forest and began joking around with James. James seemed to be concentrating on any signs of clues that his brother had gone a certain way. We were currently going the opposite way we did before and a bit deeper – even though I’ve told James multiple times that Albus probably didn’t go in too deep into the forest especially, if he was alone.
Fred was in the middle of telling a joke about a Hag and a Boggart when James halted.
“What’s wrong?” I asked pushing Fred to the side after he stopped in front of me. Once he was out of the way I looked to James, wondering why he was frozen suddenly.
James pointed ahead of us and I gasped.
There was a clearing – or at least what would have been a clearing if it wasn’t burnt up. There were burn marks in an almost perfect circle and dirt shuffled around it. I even saw a few arrows and bet that centaurs had something to do with this.
“We should leave, this is centaur territory…” As I said this I place my hand, that had the new Map, on his shoulder and noticed that there were now more dots surrounding us. I jerked it opened and looked at the dot that should be where we were and saw that there were more than a dozen circling us.
“Al…” James said stepping forward to the burnt circle.
I focused on the Map though, trying to make sense of who was surrounding us.
In my head, I ran through what Fred told me. Myself or James and McGonagall…then he checked Neville, Lowsley and Shookwick when they…when they were in their offices…I must have been to meet with all of them that day. Neville was giving me the Polyjuice Potion, I turned in my essay to Shookwick and Lowsley cornered me that day. Fred saw my dot not theirs. If it shows McGonagall and I, then it’s not showing people…it’s showing magical creatures! McGonagall and I are Animagi, so the dots surrounding us would be…
My head jerked up – I could now see them – my hand tightened around my wand. Surrounding us with arrows drawn and pointed straight at us were a dozen centaurs. Fred and I froze, but James bent down to pick something up.
“I told you to halt, boy!” A centaur approached us with his arrow drawn back.
“What did you do to my brother?” James screamed at him, holding out his hand. In it was a scrap of dark cloth, which seemed to have been burnt off of a larger piece. James seemed to think that it was Al’s. I must admit it was likely, but now wasn’t a good time to be accusing the centaurs of anything.
The centaur, who had approached us dropped his bow and looked at James carefully. He then sighed and turned to the others, signaling them to lower their arrows as well. He then turned back to us. His eyes fell on me.
“Put that away! We won’t harm you unless we have to.” The centaur told me.
I pocketed my wand, but left my hand lingering in there for a moment. It seemed like a good idea, mainly because James continued shouting at them.
“You harmed my brother! Why should we believe you?” James stepped closer to him.
“James, be nice to the unfriendly horseman.” Fred tugged on James’ robes, trying to pull him back.
“We didn’t harm him, he was protected, but we have specific instructions to take any other intruders to our leader.” The centaur told James and then motioned for the others to gather around us.
“Are we taking him to Firenze?” Another centaur asked.
The first centaur nodded. “Yes.”
(A/N) Sorry the chapter is a few days late. Hope you enjoy it and the next one will be out soon. :) Remember to REVIEW!!!
Thank you for all that have done so,
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