Chapter 31 : Bad Ideas and NEWTS
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Roxy sat cross legged on her bed with a book opened up in front of her. The room was empty. She tried to block out the loud noise coming from the common room, but it was proving to be difficult.
The Gryffindors were of course celebrating their spectacular win over Slytherin, but Roxy didn't much feel like celebrating. It was only half seven, but she still felt tired. It was draining having so many people not talking to you. She hadn't seen Lily since their fight, and she hadn't really seen Sirius since their fight. She was beginning to think the life of boarding school was just one more challenge after another, and she was nostalgic for the old days of never staying anywhere long enough to get attached to anyone.
Just as she was getting into her book and finally blocking out the sound of the world, the door opened and a second year Roxy briefly recognised stood shyly at the door.
"James told me to tell you that Dumbledore wants to talk to you both," she said quietly.
"Ok, thanks," Roxy said smiling as warmly as she could.
She sighed. The last thing she wanted was Dumbledore hassling her about finding more people. Yes, she knew it was important, but she just wasn't in the mood. She got up and dragged herself downstairs to the common room where James was waiting for her.
"Come on, I want to get back as soon as possible!" he said grinning from ear to ear.
"Is this party really that great?" Roxy asked, looking around at all the laughing people. Sure, people were having fun, but it was too loud.
She looked around, hoping to catch a glimpse of Sirius, but he was lost amongst the crowds of people.
"It's not that," he said, still grinning goofily, "Now come on."
He grabbed her sleeve and dragged her out of the room.
"Then what are you so happy about?" Roxy said grumpily, hating him for his happiness.
"I have a plan," he said smiling more broadly.
"What type of plan?" Roxy asked. She was suspicious now. James's plans were never smart, and they almost always went wrong.
"I can't tell you, but it will hopefully get Lily back," he said, smiling so much, Roxy was sure that either his mouth would either split, or Roxy would hit him for it.
"What are you going to do?" she asked, wondering if she really cared.
When they entered through the doors of Dumbledore's office, Roxy saw that Dumbledore was not alone. Sitting opposite him, were Lily and Sirius.
"Please take a seat," he said, conjuring up two more chairs out of thin air.
Roxy sat down, trying to avoid looking at Sirius and Lily. James however gave Sirius a small thumbs up, and Roxy despite her better judgement looked up at Sirius.
He smiled at her, surprising her and catching her off guard.
"Now, I have just been explaining to Mr. Black and Miss Evans the exact same thing I told you both last Monday. They are, as you expected on board with it and have been since sworn to secrecy.
"I do however want to keep it as only you two who find me knew people, because more than two may cause too much of a conflict of interest. I want you again to be careful in your choosing, and to also not put this before the studying of your exams."
"But Sir, surely this is more important than exams," Sirius said.
Roxy relished in the sound of his voice which she hadn't heard in days.
"It is of course, but there's no reason to jeopardise your future careers," he said sternly.
The four of them nodded.
"That is all, you may return to your celebrations," he said, sitting back in his chair and motioning towards the door. He looked tired and worn out, as he no doubt was. Roxy was nearest to the door, so she was the first one to leave.
She was planning on making the trip back to the common room quick, and go straight up to bed.
"Roxy!" she heard Sirius call from behind her.
She stopped abruptly, and he skidded to a halt beside her.
"Roxy, I'm sorry! I understand now why you had to ask me, and I'm sorry I made such a big deal out of nothing," he said sadly.
She looked up at him but said nothing.
Then he smiled and she smiled back.
"Do you forgive me?" he asked, a cocky grin forming on his face.
"Of course," Roxy said, rolling her eyes and wrapping her arms around him. Oh how she had missed the feel of him in her arms.
He wrapped his around her too, but only briefly.
"We had better hurry back to the common room," he said pulling away from her.
"Why?" Roxy asked, "The party isn't that exciting is it?"
"No, but trust me, with what James has up his sleeve, you won't want to miss it," he said grinning.
"Oh God, you know? What is it? Wait, don't tell me, I don't want to know!"
"I want to go on the record as saying that I did try to talk him out of it."
This worried Roxy more than anything else. If Sirius had tried to talk him out of it then it must be a pretty bad idea.
"Is it that bad?" she asked, not sure if she wanted to know.
"More stupid and risky than bad."
In Roxy's opinion, stupid and risky was much much worse than bad.
When they entered the common room, everyone was standing around as normal, some people dancing to music.
"Oh good, he hasn't done it yet," Sirius muttered.
They walked over and sat in the last free couch, looking around for James and Lily. She spotted Lily first, sitting alone at her study table.
"There's Lily," Roxy said pointing, "She's on her own, maybe I should go over?"
"No no, it's ok, we have a good view from here," Sirius said absent mindedly.
Before Roxy could ask what they needed a good view for, the music stopped.
A couple of people groaned and started to complain, but stopped as soon as they saw that it was James who had turned it off. They knew from experience, that if James was calling for attention, it was going to be good.
Instead of addressing everyone, or standing high on a table like he usually would, he instead, walked over to Lily, who was ignoring what was going on around her.
"Lily," he said kneeling down beside her so their faces were nearly level, "I know you’re mad at me, and I’m sorry."
She looked up at him, and started to blush deep red as she realised that everyone was looking at her.
"I'm sorry I didn't say anything the other day, but I was just so worried that if we start going out things would change between us. But then I realised that of course they would change, but they would change for the better. I was worried because I felt so comfortable being just friends with you, that I was worried that would be all we'd be good as, but I realised that in order to have a relationship with someone, you need that friendship. And I'm glad we have that friendship. I have loved you from the moment I first saw you as a young naive boy, and even back then I knew that you were the one I was going to spend the rest of my life with, and the one I would grow old beside."
Roxy watched on, baffled. Lily had tears in her eyes, which Roxy was sure was a mixture of emotion from what James was saying, and embarrassment from everybody watching.
"And I think that a part of you deep down, albeit very deep down knew that too. Anyway, what I'm trying to say is, Lily Evans, will you marry me?"
Silence filled the common room. No one moved, and no one seemed to be breathing. All eyes were on Lily.
She, like everyone else was not moving, and she was not breathing. Roxy was afraid she might pass out.
James reached into his pocket and pulled out a small blue box. He opened it up to reveal a silver ring embedded with small diamonds. Lily's eyes went wide.
"I've bought a ring and everything," he said, grinning nervously.
"Oh James!" Lily said, stunned, "How did you afford that!"
"My inheritance money," James answered anxiously.
"Oh," Lily whispered, still wide-eyed.
"Well?" James asked. Sweat was beginning to form on his brow.
Lily said something, but it was too quiet to make out.
"What?!" someone yelled from somewhere behind Roxy.
A few people laughed, but most people were still fixated on Lily.
"Yes!" she repeated, this time loud enough for everyone to hear.
James face broke into a grin, and the whole room erupted in applause.
Roxy burst into tears, and ran over to Lily, hugging her.
"Do you think maybe I could hug her first?" asked a laughing James, who picked Roxy up and put her down behind him. He then turned back towards Lily, took her chin in his hand, and pressed his lips gently against hers.
The room erupted with applause again, mixed with 'awww's' and wolf whistles.
"I love you," James whispered into Lily's ear, quiet enough so that only Roxy, being right beside them, heard.
"I love you too," she whispered back.
Lily lay in bed that night, smiling. She never would of thought in a million years that this was the way her life would turn out. She had always expected to finish school, become a successful business woman of some sort, and then get married and have children in her late thirties. And she never EVER would have imagined ever being engaged to the self-centred, egotistical James Potter.
But despite that, she was happy. Happier than she's been in a very long time.
She smiled to herself, and threw her blankets off her. She got up and quietly crept out of the room, careful not to wake anyone.
She snuck downstairs into the common room and took a left turn, making her way up the stairs to the boys dorms.
She turned the handle of the seventh years room, and walked quietly inside. She shut the door behind her silently. The curtains of each bed was drawn, so she looked around at the objects on each bedside table, to decipher which one was James's. She recognised Sirius’s clothes in a heap beside one of the beds.
The one to the left had nothing but a bedside lamp and picture frame. The one on the right however had a clock and a book, with a bookmark inbetween the pages about half way through.
Assuming that James had never read a book in his life, she went over to the bed on the left.
She bent down and peered at the picture. There, smiling up at her, was Remus Lupin, standing beside two people who could only be his parents.
She walked to the bed on the other side of Sirius' and peered through the curtains. There, sleeping with his mouth wide open and breathing deeply was James. She smiled and slipped into the bed beside him. He gave a loud snort and woke up with a jump.
He looked over at Lily, startled.
"What are you doing in here?" James asked astonished.
"Ssssh. I am trying to sleep if you don't mind," Lily said, laying her head down on James' chest and closing her eyes.
Roxy woke up the next morning smiling. Everything was finally falling into place. Her and Sirius were as close as ever, and so were Lily and James. The world (well, Dumbledore anyway) was finally doing something about the potential destruction of the Wizarding world, and she was getting one step closer to finding her mother. She now knew that she was alive and she had been staying with the Potters. She wished beyond anything that she could help Dumbledore search for her, but she knew that he would never allow it till her exams were done. But the minute she finished school, that was all she was going to do.
She rolled out of bed to find Lily's empty. She was happy for her and James even though she knew that them getting engaged before they even properly dated was a stupid move. She hoped it would work out for them and maybe this would stop them fighting. She was glad she hadn’t known the plan beforehand because she definitely would have talked James out of it. It was probably one of the worst ideas he had ever had.
She checked the time. It was only 8 o'clock, and seeing as it was Sunday morning, it was odd for any Hogwarts student to be up before ten.
She showered and dressed, and when she was finished she made her way downstairs, eager to start studying.
When she reached it, she saw Lily downstairs with a book on her lap, and James's arm wrapped around her.
Lily looked immersed in her book, so she gave James a little wave, and wandered over to her study seat, spending the rest of her Sunday studying with Sirius joining her half way through the day.
It was a week before the start of the NEWTS, and everyone in year seven was on high stress levels. Everyone could feel the tension coming from them in the common room. Everyone seemed to have short fuses coming up to the exams. Everyone except Lily and James, who were still on a happy high from their recent engagement.
People still congratulated them in the corridors, including people neither of them had ever met before.
Roxy however was definitely on edge and was letting the stress of the exams get to her. She had become snappy and irritable. She had less than ten days to learn seven year’s worth of wizarding information.
Dumbledore called her to his office four days before her first exam.
"I know this is probably the last place you want to be right now, but I have been corresponding with the examination commitee and after explaining to them your situation, and the fact that you have never been schooled before, they are willing to let a little leverage when correcting your examinations. They are well trained people, and are used to circumstances like this, so they will be fair with your exams. They won't be too much easier on you than the others, but they will be going into it knowing your background. I am hoping that this will help relax you and calm you down."
It did, and by the end of the day, Sirius had stopped avoiding her, which he had been doing in fear that he would accidently say something wrong and upset her.
"I'm sorry I'm crazy," she said sheepishly to Sirius while apologising for being so moody.
"If you like, I can spend the next few days helping you and focusing on you. I don't need to study anyway. I never need to study. I’m too smart for study," he said smiling proudly to himself.
She rolled her eyes, "Thank you."
He smiled more broadly.
"I love you," she said, kissing him on the cheek.
"I love me too!"
Finally the day of the first exam came. History Of Magic. It was nine o’clock, and so, it was with a yawn that Sirius Black entered the great hall that morning. The breakfast table and benches were gone and in their place was hundreds of single chairs and tables. Each table had a number on them, and each number corresponded with a student. Professor McGonagall had given them their numbers the previous morning.
Sirius was number 79.
Sirius never really liked History Of Magic, but he was, as always, feeling confident. The same could not be said about Roxy, who was walking beside Sirius looking as though she was about to pass out. Her face was pale, and there was a dark shade of purple around her eyes.
“Are you sure you’re ok?” Sirius asked her for the millionth time since they left the common room.
“Mhmm,” Roxy answered, not sounding in the least bit ok.
“You’ll be fine, you know everything. You could answer everything I asked you last night,” Sirius said reassuringly.
Roxy eyes went wide. “Oh no! I’ve forgotten it all!”
They had reached Roxy’s table, which was positioned in the row beside Sirius and a few desks forward.
“No you haven’t,” Sirius said, grabbing her as she tried to run away.
“I have! I really have!”
Sirius picked her up and pulled out her chair with his foot, and placed her gently on it.
He pushed the chair back in again, so if she did again try to escape, he would have more time to grab her.
He glanced at his watch. Five minutes to go.
Sirius looked up as Lily sauntered over to them.
“Hello!” she said brightly.
Sirius gave her a weak wave, and Roxy just stared ahead of her blankly.
“Oh dear,” Lily said upon seeing Roxy’s face, “You don’t look well at all.”
Roxy scowled at Lily. “Why aren’t you panicking like you usually are?”
“I don’t know!” Lily said happily, “I’m just too happy! And I know I studied every single thing, so I’m pretty confident. What about you Sirius, how are you feeling?”
Not wanting to let Roxy know that he wasn’t nervous he replied, “I’m just worried about Roxy.”
“Please everyone, take your seats,” said the voice of a small man at the front of the room.
Roxy looked as though she was about to flee, and then thought better of it.
“I’ve got to go now Roxy, you’ll be fine!”
He kissed her on the head and walked towards the back of the room and slipped into his seat.
The man at the front of the room waved his wand, and a stack of paper zoomed across the room, dropping one copy of the exams on everyone’s desk.
"You may begin!" the little man said.
Sirius gave a quick glance towards Roxy before beginning.
He could only see the back of her head and the side of her face, but he could see she was already reading the first question.
He looked down and turned the first page.
She looked down at the first question. The words looked blurry in front of her, and she blinked a few times to get her eyes to focus. Her head felt full and humid, and her hand was shaking.
She took a deep breath, calming herself down. She glanced up at the little man at the front of the room. He was safely looking the other way, so she stole a glance backwards at Sirius. He was sitting back it his chair, writing down his answer's as smoothly as though he were writing his own name several times.
Roxy rolled her eyes and returned them to her own paper. She should have known he wouldn't be nervous or worried. He knew everything about everything.
She picked up her quill, dipped it in the ink, and began to write.
An hour and a half later, she was finished. There was still a half an hour to go, so she re-read everything she had written, correcting spelling mistakes, and making sense of sentences that didn't make sense. As her first state exam completed, she felt relieved.
It had gone much better than she thought, and she knew almost everything apart from a few things here and there.
She folded over her paper and sat back in her chair stretching. She saw Lily on the other side of the room, still writing. By the looks of it, Lily had a whole stack of written answers, which well rivalled Roxy's five pages.
She looked up at the giant hourglass at the top of the room. She watched as the last grain fell.
"Time is up!" the small man said.
The last of the students who weren't finished, put down their pens. Roxy saw Lily squish in a few more words before putting down hers.
"Thank you," the man said, waving his wand, causing all the papers to zoom to the front of the room in a neat pile, "You may go!"
There was a loud scurry of noise as the students got out of their seats and hurried towards the door, anxious to get some fresh air, to throw up, or to just get out of the stuffy room.
Roxy stood up, and walked amongst the crowd into the entrance hall, where she stood by the stairs and waited for Sirius and Lily.
James was standing there waiting for her.
"Hey!" he said, hugging her, "You ok? You still have the will to live?"
"Yes," Roxy laughed, "Just about."
"Good," James said, his face turning to worry.
"What's wrong?" Roxy asked, her face now mirroring his.
He pulled out a copy of the Daily Prophet from his back pocket and showed her the front page.
The picture looked like something from a war movie. Buildings and trees were on fire.
"Where's this?" she asked.
James pointed to the writing under the picture.
'Pictured above: Diagon alley, moments before the local fire department arrived.'
Roxy gaped at the picture, looking at it more closely. She then began to recognise the buildings. They were almost completely destroyed by the fire.
"What happened?" Roxy asked.
"There was a rally on for those wishing to have Voldemort as the new Minister excetera. But there’s more,” he said, pointing to a paragraph near the end of the page.
‘There were several injuries and one death. Local barman of the Leaky Cauldron Brent Shelby.'
Roxy gasped. "No!"
James bit his lip. "I wasn't going to tell you because of the exams, but I know you were a friend of his and would of wanted to know."
Roxy nodded, her eyes welling up.
James took the newspaper off her, and wrapped his arms around her, embracing her. He let her sob quietly into his shoulder.
It went unnoticed by the people passing by, who were much too worried about the exam they had just taken, and all their up and coming exams.
Sirius and Lily appeared from the crowd together and ran over at the sight of Roxy crying.
"Roxy! It didn't go that badly did it?" Sirius said, pushing James out of the way and hugging Roxy.
"Hey!" said a disgruntled James. Sirius ignored him.
"It went f-f-fine!" Roxy said, tears streaming down her face.
"Are you worried about Defence Against The Dark Arts tomorrow?" Sirius asked, cradling her, "Because that's your best subject you know."
"It's n-n-not th-that!" she said, clinging onto him.
James handed Sirius the newspaper. Sirius held it between himself and Lily. Their eyes scanned over the picture, the caption underneath, and the small paragraph written about it.
"Oh my god!" Lily gasped, "All that was done by Voldemort's followers?"
"Apparently so," James said, slinging his arm over her shoulder.
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