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Chapter 21 : Chapter 21 - The Order
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Chapter 21 – The Order
Teachers all through Hogwarts castle were beginning to reach the final stretch of the school term. The essays and extra homework were piling up, and as hard as any student might try, it was now impossible to ignore how close exams were. Well, all the students except the Marauders.
“Ten weeks! That’s all we have to study every single piece of information that’s ever been shown to us! All our notes, James!” nagged Lily, towards the end of April.
“Lils, it’s not that bad. Ten weeks is an eternity. Besides, you know the entire seven years of material. You’re just going to make it worse for yourself, freaking out about nothing.” He smiled and pushed his glasses back up the bridge of his nose.
Sirius marched through the portrait hole, grinning as Lily threw her hands up, picked her bag and flung it on a nearby table.
“The angel wants something?” said Sirius, laughing.
“She wants to study,” said James with distaste.
“For what?” Sirius asked incredulously.
“For N.E.W.T.s,” replied James, shaking his head.
“Oh, well, let’s focus on more important matters.”
“Like?” said James, stupidly.
“Oh, God save you Padfoot!” said James cheerfully, grabbing the rolls of parchment out of Sirius’ arms. “A worthy distraction!”
They sat and looked over the papers, reviewing plays and statistics all afternoon. Rain pummeled the windows, as was expected for April. Dinner was over, and the rowdy crowd was beginning to trail off to bed.
Remus entered the tower, looked down at his two friends pouring over parchment on the floor, and settled on sitting with Lily. She smiled appreciatively, and went back to her essay.
“…Who are we playing on Saturday?” asked Sirius for the third time.
“Hufflepuff,” said James, reading off a schedule.
“That means… we have to win by… Moony, how much?” called Sirius, beckoning Remus.
Lupin came over and bent over the papers Sirius was pointing at. “By 150 or more. If it was exactly 150 it would work.”
“Thanks,” he said shortly to Lupin, then turning to James. “Prongs, we just have to catch the snitch early.”
“If we put everyone on defense, and the chasers and I go and hang out down their end…”
“How good is the Jordan boy? Walter?” asked Remus.
“As a seeker? You’ve seen him, Moony. Not fabulous last year, but we’ve been training with him extra hard. You know, if we win this, we have two more games. If we beat Hufflepuff, and then beat Ravenclaw when Slytherin beats Hufflepuff, we’re in the championship,” James said excitedly.
“Yeah, but against Slytherin,” said Sirius darkly.
“So what? We’d be in it, seventh year running,” said James proudly. He went into a detailed recap of the Quidditch World Cup he had attended after his second year. Remus, losing interest, retreated and sat next to Lily.
“They should study,” said Lily grudgingly.
“Would it make any difference?” said Remus wisely.
“No,” Lily admitted. “But, honestly…”
Lupin changed subjects immediately. “Where’s Beth been? Jessica won’t even talk about her.”
“Oh, that. I’m not sure… her parents were worried about… Voldemort,” she said bravely. “They thought that she had done enough classes, they could send her back after… it’s over.”
“That makes no sense! She’s about 1,000 times safer here with Dumbledore, learning to defend herself!” said Lupin, appalled.
“I know. But I can also understand that they would be worried,” she said softly, looking at James. Lupin smiled sadly and nodded; he left her and went to go do some homework.
“James Potter,” said a sharp voice. James stopped mid-sentence, and Lily’s head popped up in a flash of red hair. Professor McGonagall stood just inside the common room.
“Yes, professor?” said Lily, slightly taken aback.
“Please come with me, Mr. Potter,” she said in a stern voice.
James stood up and followed Professor McGonagall out of the room without a look back. The portrait swung behind them, and both Sirius and Peter turned to Lily.
“What was that about?” asked Sirius accusingly.
“No idea,” Lily said, worried.
James followed Professor McGonagall down to the second floor, slowly but surely. Where was she taking him? Then, of course, he saw, at the end of the hall they had reached, a statue of a gargoyle.
“Dumbledore wants to see me, Professor?” he asked.
“Yes, Potter. Hurry up, now,” ordered McGonagall.
They got to the gargoyle and James smiled at it fondly. He’d been here so many times before (usually accompanied by Sirius), and was always awed at the place.
“Pepper Imps,” said Professor McGonagall loudly. Ah, the funny passwords Dumbledore thought up, thought James as the gargoyle turned and revealed a moving staircase. “Up you get,” she said, pushing him onto the closest stair.
At the top, James stepped into the golden office. It felt warm, familiar… safe. All the strange objects and the room spun and whirled, humming or glowing, but it was oddly calming.
“Mr. Potter,” said a voice from the shadows.
“Afternoon, Professor,” said James, smiling.
“Please, take a seat,” said Dumbledore kindly, motioning for a seat.
“Thank you, sir.”
Dumbledore sat opposite him. “Let me first assure you that you are in no trouble.”
James smiled. “Too bad,” he said jokingly.
Dumbledore’s eyes twinkled with amusement. “I actually have a question for you.” He paused, his fingers together thoughtfully. He stood up after a moment, any humor gone. He paced a few steps back and forth behind his desk. James watched him, confused but unnaturally patient.
“I… understand that you and Miss Evans were both in Emerson’s Grove in March,” Dumbledore finally said delicately.
“Am I correct in assuming you share my hatred against Lord Voldemort?”
Again he nodded. “Wait, you… you said his name,” James realized.
“Another story for another occasion,” said Dumbledore, distracted. “In any case, I have a proposal for you. You must swear to me that you will not share this information with anyone.” Dumbledore’s piercing stare focused on James.
“Sirius? Remus?” James asked hopefully.
“I shall speak to them separately,” agreed Dumbledore. “There is an organization – a movement again Lord Voldemort. The Order of the Phoenix. We are trying to recruit bright and willing minds to our cause.”
“You want me?” said James. He was not sure whether to be frightened or flattered.
“Yes. However, I must warn you – it is, in no way, safe or protected. In fact, there are very few wizards or witches still at school. But all are welcome. As many people as can be convinced, we will take.” Dumbledore paused again.
“I also hear from Professor McGonagall that you plan to go into Auror training?”
“Yes, I hope so. I still need a recommendation, though,” James added mostly to himself.
“I am sure I could manage something. But I would expect you to meet all the qualifications, as I would any student.”
“Would I not be able to be an Auror if I joined, or something?” asked James, very perplexed.
“Not at all. It would be in any time you set aside. Of course, occasional situations might arise, but as I am in charge of scheduled meetings, I am sure it could be worked out.”
James nodded again, his head buzzing with questions. Dumbledore lapsed into another silent musing. Finally he spoke, and it was with regret. “I must be honest with you, James. There are tasks and, for lack of a better term, missions that require skill and stealth. I see that in you. Although, I must warn you again that we are so far behind that the prospect is fairly grim. But we are working. I cannot sugar coat the situation, it would only make it worse.
James waited for Dumbledore to continue, but he didn’t. Out of nowhere, a picture of Lily crying flew to the front of his mind.
She was sitting in the kitchen with him…
“We both know what happened, James,” Lily whispered. She couldn’t look him in the eyes. Instead, she closed them, hugging her knees for comfort. “Voldemort.” He didn’t cringe, but she shivered as she thought of it all. That … monster had killed her parents, her family.
Then, he was in the hospital, confused and thinking the worst…
He had failed, he couldn’t protect her, he was worthless and stupid and selfish…What did she do to deserve this? James thought, feeling one burning tear roll down his cheek. He stared down at his hands, knowing he deserved to die.
“I’ll do it.”
“You agreed?” asked Remus.
“I can’t fight him alone, Moony. But maybe this way I can, you know… contribute.” James was sitting in the seventh year boys’ bedroom, past midnight that evening.
“Can we?” Sirius said quietly.
“I asked. Dumbledore says, if you want to, you can talk to him. If you want to that is,” he added. Lupin looked none too enthusiastic.
“Of course!” said Sirius. He turned to look at Remus. “Moony?”
“Definitely. But, seriously guys, can we go back to sleep? We’ve got Transfiguration first,” said Lupin, yawning but smiling.
“Of course. Night, then.” The lights at the end of their wands flickered and went out. James stayed sitting by the window, admiring the moonlight on the lake. A gorgeous crescent reflected crisply on the water’s surface. Soon, Sirius’ snores could be heard across the room. James knew if he didn’t crawl under the covers before long that he would have to sleep in the common room to get away from the sound.
Lily woke and showered quickly after waking up very late. She hadn’t seen James come back from wherever their Head of house had taken him. If he is in trouble... thought Lily, rolling her eyes inwardly. Sitting in the seat by the fire, she remembered that her bag was up under her bed. She ran to get it and came back, pelting down the stairs, late again, and ran right into James at the foot of the stairs. She fell right on top of him, her fiery hair flying everywhere.
“Good morning,” said James in a suffocated voice.
“Hi,” she said, rolling off him and propping up onto an elbow. “So, we never got to talk.”
“So we’re gonna do it on the floor?”
“Unless that’s bad for you.”
“You’re willing to skip breakfast, the first meal of the day?” he asked, half serious.
“We can sit on the couch, if you prefer, but I just wanted to know what McGonagall said.”
“Oh, that,” he said grinning. He got up, gave her a hand and helped her to her feet, and led her to the couch by the fire. They slumped onto it and Lily turned to him.
“So, what was it about?” she said, smiling sweetly.
“Took me to Dumbledore,” he mumbled.
“Dumbledore?” Lily repeated, confused.
“Offered me a job.”
“Job? I… you’re going to be an Auror. Don’t you want to be an Auror?”
“I do! It’s more of a side job type thing,” explained James. “It’s…”
“What?” she asked, frustrated. James remembered that Dumbledore had been honest with him.
“It’s the anti-Voldemort movement.”
Lily’s face was white and frozen, and she forgot to speak. Eventually, she found her voice. “What… er, what about it?”
“They want me to be in it.”
Lily stood up, and looked down at him. She struggled with so many emotions bursting to get out. “Do you want to?” she asked weakly.
“Of course,” said James, sitting on the edge of the couch.
“Are you trying to get yourself killed!” she yelled. James, taken aback by her change in attitude, rose from his seat.
“Lily, it’s important!” he shouted.
“Not as much as staying alive!” she shrieked.
“You’re over reacting!” he said loudly.
“How?” she said, indignantly. “I am trying to get you to see that this is not something you should be doing!”
“Why not? It’s protection! It’s so we know what’s going on, even if the rest of the world doesn’t!”
“I just…” she said helplessly.
“Don’t what, Lily?” said James impatiently.
“Want you to!” she said, after half a second’s pause.
“Excuse me?” said James.
“That’s right! I said, I don’t want you to! And without even telling me!” she cried, throwing up her hands in anger.
“Are you seriously going to forbid me?” he asked, disbelieving.
“I certainly am, if it means keeping you away from harm!” Lily yelled back.
“What does that mean?” he asked heatedly.
“It means, you are going to get yourself killed!” she said, quieter. “I don’t want you to get hurt, James! And it’s not like I’m trying to baby you! I just want to… to…”
“TO GET MARRIED!” she spilled out finally. James sighed, finally realizing it all.
“Lily, we are not going to die! I’m not going to die,” James said firmly. “We are going to get married, eventually!”
“But it’s just so… irrational!” she said, her voice rising again.
“Lily, I know you too well to believe you’re really mad. You’re just afraid.”
Damn his… psychic skills! thought Lily angrily. “Well, if you are going to then I will, too,” she declared, crossing her arms across her chest.
“No you’re not!” said James, in more of a brotherly tone.
“I have every right!” she cried bitterly.
“Yes… I mean, no!” said James, now angry.
“What a double standard!” Lily said.
“You… haven’t been asked!” said James, inventing an excuse.
“And you think if I ask that they’ll say no?”
James opened his mouth, and shut it again, at a total loss for words. She’s going to get hurt!
But, said a calmer voice, that was her reason.
“Good. Then I’ll go see Dumbledore at the end of the day!” Lily stormed out of the room.
He stared as she disappeared beyond the portrait hole. “Why is she so stubborn?” said James aloud.
Please read and review. And, also, go see the Incredibles. And maybe 'Finding Neverland' just to see Johnny Depp... Love it.
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