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Once Upon The Marauders: The Untold Story by princesslily_36

Format: Novella
Chapters: 24
Word Count: 102,755
Status: WIP

Rating: 15+
Warnings: Scenes of a mild sexual nature, Substance abuse, Spoilers

Genres: Drama, Romance, Young Adult
Characters: Lupin, Snape, James, Lily, Sirius, Pettigrew, Regulus, OC, OtherCanon
Pairings: James/Lily, Lily/OC, Remus/OC, Sirius/OC

First Published: 10/14/2015
Last Chapter: 01/01/2018
Last Updated: 01/01/2018

Summary:


Is destiny determined by Chance or Choice? 

If it is a bit of both, then, the story began years before that fateful Halloween night. It began before the Prophesy was made. It began when a small, puny boy chanced upon a bright, cheerful young girl.

Once Upon The Marauders: The Untold Story of their journey through seven years at Hogwarts. ~Canon Compliant~Amazing Banner by loveatfirstview@TDA


Chapter 1: Signed, Sealed and Delivered.
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Is destiny determined by chance or choice?

It was choice when Snape chose the Dark Arts over Lily.

It was chance when Snape overheard only half the prophecy

It was choice when Voldemort marked Harry as his equal

It was chance when Peter got to be the Secret Keeper.

It was choice when Peter decided to betray his friends.

It was chance when James laid down his wand that night at Godrics Hollow

It was choice when Lily refused to step aside.

If destiny is determined by both chance and choice, then, the story began years before that fateful Halloween night. It began before the Sorting Hat decided to place Peter in Gryffindor after a Hatstall. It began when a small, puny boy chanced upon a bright, cheerful young girl.

Destiny begins with a chance, but ends with a choice.






Sometime in the years 1970-71

“Tell me about Diagon Alley, Sev.” The red-headed 11 year old was lying on the lawn, absently making a blade of grass glide mid-air without touching it. Severus Snape stopped picking at the tear at the hem of his jeans. His sallow face filled with delight.

“It is the largest shopping network for wizards,” he started, his voice becoming more confident as her eyes grew round in fascination. “You can get anything you want from there – your wand, books, pets, sweets.”

“Sweets?” Lily Evans sat up eagerly, “Tuney likes sweets. Will there be Milk Duds?”

“Milk Duds?” Snape sneered, “Those sugary Muggle sweets? No, we have better ones. Ones that pop in your mouth, ones that change the taste as you keep sucking on them, ones that glue your teeth together. Maybe you could get that for your sister,” he said nastily.

“Oh, don’t be mean Sev.” Lily glared at him. “I think I’ll take Tuney to Diagon Alley,” she beamed.

“I don’t think muggles will be allowed into Diagon Alley,” he said grudgingly.

“Don’t be silly!” she chided. “How does your Ministry expect a 11 year old child to go by herself to buy school supplies? Or will I be the only muggleborn in Hogwarts?” her voice suddenly became anxious.

“No, no. There will be many,” he rushed to assure her, gladdened when she looked relieved. “But that poses a serious threat to the International Statute of Secrecy,” he added bitterly.

“What do you mean?” she asked curiously.

“The muggles have always been threatened by wizardkind. Haven’t you heard of Matthew Hopkins?” Lily shook her head. “He was responsible for the deaths of over 500 witches in 1640s England.” Lily’s eyes widened in horror. Snape nodded seriously, his eyes reflecting rage, “There have been more witch-hunts and trials across the world. The muggles always try to wipe us out. Incompetent fools,” he added in an undertone which Lily missed.  “But we got the better of them. The Ministry has rules to safeguard us now. Although they’re growing pretty soft towards the muggles now.” He finished reproachfully.

“But that was in the 1600s Sev, people have changed so much since, right?” argued Lily.

“You’re so naïve Lily,” he said shaking his head, “The world isn’t just your parents and friends.”

“But all mu-muggles can’t be bad,” she protested, her lower lip quivering. Snape opened his mouth to scorn, glanced at her expression of mingled dismay and worry.

“No,” he sighed, “Not all of them are.” Lily’s face relaxed and she lay back on the grass contentedly, resuming her ministrations of the dancing blade of grass.






“Sirius! Sirius! Come here!” an impatient voice called from down the hall.

“What is it Reg?” Sirius Black appeared, a small crease between his eyebrows indicating displeasure at being disturbed from a very important afternoon nap.

“You got the Letter!” Regulus Black jumped up and down excitedly, looking at his brother with what could only be described as a younger-sibling’s-devotion. Sirius’ face broke into a wide grin as he reached out and grabbed the envelope from his hand. “Read it out! Read it out!” Regulus’ enthusiasm was infectious.

“Dear Mr. Black, we are pleased to inform you –”

“Of course they are pleased to have my Sirius,” a haughty voice interrupted. Silence befell, only to be marred by the scurrying of elf-feet across the carpeted floor. Walburga Black knew how to make her presence felt. Her aristocratic looks had bestowed her with an archaic beauty, which coupled with an air of conceit and vanity commanded grudging respect. “This calls for a celebration. Let’s invite dear Bella, Cissy and Andy for dinner. I should invite that lovely boy Bella is engaged to. Sirius, he could tell you all about the Blood Purity Movement he is involved in.” Walburga’s voice faded as she walked away, Kreacher the house-elf at her wake.

The two boys looked at each other in alarm for a second and their faces split into identical grins.

“Race you to the dessert cabinet!” challenged Sirius, getting a head start and laughing as Regulus followed protesting, his short legs trying to keep up.






Lyall and Hope Lupin stared incredulously at the scene in front of them. Albus Dumbledore was sitting at the fireside, eating the crumpets their son had opened earlier that morning and playing gobstones quite inconspicuously, as if it happened every day.

“I must say you have quite a bright son here, Lyall.” Dumbledore’s eyes twinkled. Remus beamed.

“I – Er – Thank you sir,” he said uncertainly, surprised the headmaster knew his name.

“I recently read your report on Belgium Boggarts,” he continued lightly. “Quite a fascinating take on their choice of habitat. I, for one, did not know that they preferred the beds to cabinets. I must start checking under my bed before –”

“Professor –Er – Sorry to cut you off, but what exactly – ” Lyall faltered.

“Am I doing here?” finished Dumbledore simply. “I am here to tell you that this charming young boy of yours has made it into Hogwarts.”

Remus’ eyes grew wide, hardly daring to hope.

“But – But sir, you know – Remus isn’t -” started Hope, the dazed look never having left her face.

“Isn’t what, precisely?” asked Dumbledore politely, with the mildly interested air of one asking one’s birthday.

“Normal,” she whispered, looking anywhere but at Remus. Remus’ face fell, and he visibly sunk into the shadows.

“Really?” mused Dumbledore, undeterred “Well, I dare say I agree. He does seem exceptionally skilled at Gobstones for such a young age. And his knowledge of hinkypunks - ”

“Sir - ” cut in Lyall for the second time that day, “Sorry to be – er – rude, but surely you must know that Remus isn’t like other children.” He seemed to have gotten over the initial shock.

“Mr. Lupin. You must have heard enough about me to know by now that I don’t come between a student and his right to education. Irrespective of blood purity, or unfortunate medical conditions,” he added, winking at Remus who was looking at his parents anxiously.

“How did you - ?” whispered Hope, her eyes wide.

“Those who commit deeds of horror often can’t help boasting about their actions. I have no concrete proof against Fenrir, and even if I did, with so much going on right now I doubt the Ministry will take this issue seriously.” There was a pause where only the crackling of the fireplace could be heard. The Lupin’s waited with bated breath for him to continue. “However, the Ministry does not concern itself with Hogwarts,” continued Dumbledore, waving his hand dismissively, “I’m here to offer young Remus here the chance to be a properly trained among his peers. I’ve no doubt he would grow up to be a fine wizard. That is, assuming you want him to attend Hogwarts, of course,” he bowed his head politely.

Remus’s look of mingled hope and disbelief was mirrored by his parents.

“Of – of course we want him to go to Hogwarts,” Lyall hastened to assure, “But how can he –” Lyall was once again at a loss of words.

“Now that we have established he is attending Hogwarts, let’s work out the finer aspects of his monthly transformations,” Dumbledore said in a business-like voice conjuring pastries and cookies for them to eat while they were being treated to a story they wouldn’t have conceived of even in their wildest imagination.






“Did I get it? Did I get it?” James Potter came bouncing down the stairs, running straight to his father. Nobody would call Fleamont Potter old despite streaks of grey in his hair. His bright eyes outshone the lines of experience on his still handsome face. Clean shaven with salt-and-pepper hair sticking out at the back, he gave an air of thorough contentment as he sat at the breakfast table reading the morning paper. He looked up with amusement as his son, still in his Pajamas, was anxiously looking at him.  

“Did what come?” he asked feigning innocence as he looked into James’ eager hazel eyes.

“Hogwarts Letter, Dad!” explained James impatiently.

“Letter? Why would it come today?” he asked mildly, closing the paper shut, enjoying James’ exasperation.

“Dad!” James whined, “It’s my 11th birthday today!” he was bobbed up and down on his toes impatiently.

“Oh Dear, Indeed it is!” Mr. Potter exclaimed in mock-realization. James’ look of dismay seemed to tickle him further.

“Oh, stop torturing him dear!” Euphemia Potter had appeared from inside the kitchen. “James, come and have some pancakes,” she beckoned as Mr. Potter chuckled.

“I don’t want pancakes,” said James sulkily, “I want my letter.”

“Happy birthday, James!” chuckled Mr. Potter, producing the Hogwarts acceptance letter. James snatched it from him, his eyes shining through his glasses as he read it.

“When can we get my wand, Dad?” he fidgeted excitedly on his seat, his previous annoyance with his father having vanished.

“This weekend,” said Mr. Potter, folding up his newspaper and drawing his plate of pancakes closer.

“Can I have a broomstick?” he asked hopefully as Mrs. Potter poured some syrup on his pancakes.






Peter Pettigrew was trudging along the dusty path to his cottage, kicking the little stones out of his way. His straw coloured hair fell limply, looking as listless as he felt. All the neighborhood children had gone to school, and he had nobody to play with. Being an only child, it got lonely at times. His friends made fun of him for being home-schooled. If only they knew, he thought grudgingly. He had often considered telling them he was a wizard, but thought he would be ridiculed further. They had never let him forget the incident. It wasn’t his fault that Wontly was found hanging from a tree branch, soon after making fun of his mother. He had just wished he could hurt Wontley, who was bigger and stockier compared to his pudgy self.

He entered his house and peered hopefully into the kitchen, sniffing at the aroma of his mothers cooking. Something sweet, by the smell of it. Before he could investigate further, a tawny owl fluttered to rest on the windowsill and hooted importantly. Peter scurried to remove the letter from its leg, his short, stubby fingers trembling with excitement.  The owl took off, rustling its feathers, leaving Peter to his letter.

“Mum,” young Peter spoke, his voice sounding squeaky. “It’s from Hogwarts.” No more had the words escaped his lips, he was attacked by his mother’s embrace.

“Petey! I’m so happy!” she exclaimed, sniffing, “Your father will be so proud!” The plump Mrs. Pettigrew, donning an apron, was bustling around the living room in search of a parchment. Peter’s father hadn’t thought Peter was magic. True, he hadn’t displayed many signs, but his father was hardly around to witness them. Constantly travelling for work (marketing Fedreanty’s Healing Potions to various apothecaries), his main mode of communication to Peter was through the family Owl, Dukes.

“Here,” she said finally scribbling a few words on a scrap of paper torn from a magazine and thrusting it towards Peter, “Send this with Dukes to your father. Let me bake a cake for you!” she cooed, drowning her son in another hug before wiping the ends of her eyes on a dirty sleeve and hurrying into the kitchen.

“You can finally make friends with kids your age,” she beamed from inside the kitchen. Peter looked troubled. He had never exactly been endearing. “My boy, going to Hogwarts!” she exclaimed happily. He wasn’t going to be that weird kid down the road anymore. He was going to be a wizard. He made up his mind to fit in at Hogwarts.




A/N:

Hey everyone! I really hope you guys enjoyed this chapter. I hope my headcanon comes close to canon as JKR intended. I’ve been reading the books as I was writing this chapter to get clues from scenes in order to determine how they would be feeling or reacting. 

A Special thanks to Felpata Lupin for being my amazing beta, shadowkat678 for her awesome review which helped develop this chapter and Alarte Ascendare for indulging my plunnies at the right moment :) 


Chapter 2: 1st Year - First Impressions, Undone
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“I’m sorry Sev,” said Lily, distressed. “But I honestly don’t see the difference. We’ll still have classes together right?”
Lily had sought out Severus as the Great Hall was slowly filling out at the end of the Feast. Severus was shuffling his feet, looking crestfallen.

“Don’t - Don’t look so sad!” she pleaded. The Gryffindor prefect’s voice rang out, calling for first years. “Look, I have to go now. I’ll see you tomorrow, okay?” She gave an apologetic smile and hurried to where the Gryffindor first years were lining up.

“Hey, you’re the one from the train right?” Lily looked up and saw the boy with glasses who had mocked her and Severus on the train. She glared at him, evidently not having forgiven him for his earlier jibe at Severus. The other boy with him, grey eyes and rich looks snickered, earning a glare as well, which set off the first boy. She turned away huffily.

“Hey, come on.” The grey eyed boy nudged her with his elbow, “I’m Sirius Black. You’re Evans, right?” His haughty face broke into an infectious grin. She couldn’t help feeling a little friendly towards him, despite the fact that they had laughed at her only moments before.

“Lily Evans,” she answered grudgingly.

“James Potter,” piped the other boy, face full of mirth. She gave him a small smile, taking a liking to his jolly face, much against her will. Maybe they weren’t as bad as they seemed after all.

“Do you already know each other?” a girl interrupted. Lily turned to see a girl with thick, black hair and a snub nose looking questioningly at Sirius.

“Hey,” Sirius raised his chin towards her, “I met this lot on the train,” he explained. “This is James Potter, and Lily Evans.” he pointed to each one in turn, “This is Adhara Selwyn,” he said turning to James and Lily, “Her mum and mine are good friends.”

A look of comprehension dawned on their faces as they greeted the new addition. Lily couldn’t help noticing that Adhara’s greeting to James was much more enthusiastic than to her. She had no time to worry about that as Fabian Prewett, the prefect, introduced himself and started giving instructions.

Lily was feeling a little discomfited as they made their way to the common room. James and Sirius had broken away from her and were walking a few paces in front, commenting at paintings and laughing when they retorted. A few kids near them watched on, highly entertained. A small mousy-haired boy with a high squeaky laugh seemed to be the most amused by James’ fooling around. Adhara was walking slightly away from them, alone and looking as uncomfortable as Lily felt, but haughtily so. Lily tried to catch her eye, but she seemed to be determinedly avoiding her gaze. Bemused, she turned to the girl next to her, whose platinum blond hair was almost blinding, and shyly spoke up, “Hey, I’m Lily Evans.”

“I’m Marlene McKinnon,” she smiled, her dimples making her cheeks look chubbier than they were, “Are your parents wizard folk?”

“No, they’re Muggles,” she replied worriedly.

“Awesome! I’ve never been to a Muggle house!” she exclaimed, her blue eyes widening.

“And I’ve never been to a wizard’s house,” laughed Lily, immediately put at ease.

“We should visit each other over summer,” suggested Marlene excitedly. “Ooh the Fat Lady!” she whispered animatedly, as a silence befell the crowd that had come to a stop in front of a said painting.

“This is the entrance to the Gryffindor common room.” announced Fabian Prewett. “You will need to provide the Fat Lady with a password…”

Lily’s eyes wandered to her fellow housemates. The older ones were slowly filtering into the common room. Among her classmates, some were looking at Fabian keenly, some mildly interested, and James Potter had snuck to the side, poking at the cat in the portrait with his wand. The cat mewled indignantly and ran out of the frame. Lily giggled silently. Sirius Black snickered, distracting a couple of kids near him. A quiet looking first year behind Lily gave him an annoyed ‘Shh’. Sirius looked affronted for a few seconds and then went into silent peals of laughter when James mimed her actions. The mousy-haired boy let out a poorly-disguised snort. The girl who had previously chided Sirius made a face at them and moved away pointedly. Highly engrossed by all this drama, Lily had missed hearing what the password was. She said so to Marlene as they climbed through the portrait wall.

“It’s Pineapple Pickle,” supplied the black-haired girl helpfully from behind them.

“Thanks,” Lily replied, “I’m Lily Evans. This is Marlene McKinnon.” Marlene smiled brightly.

“I’m Mary Macdonald,” she offered.

“Hey looks like we’re all sharing a dorm together,” Marlene announced, pointing to the list that had been put up next to the girl’s stairway.

“Has anyone seen a Dorcas Meadows?” asked Lily peering at the list.

“No, but looks like we’re going to be pretty cramped. Six people in one dorm,” observed Mary. “There’s also an Adhara Selwyn and a Regina Flume. Anyone know them?” Just as she turned to face Marlene, a small figure bumped into her, pushing her back into the stone wall and moving up the stairs quickly without an apology.

“Ow,” cried Mary as Marlene glared up the stairs, “Who was that?” she asked indignantly.

“You just ran into Adhara Selwyn,’ Lily replied, raising her eyebrows after her.

“You mean, she ran into me,” Mary muttered grumpily as the three of them made their way up the stairs.

Lily felt a pang of loneliness as she entered her dorm. Next to her Mary and Marlene were engrossed in a conversation about muggle money. Marlene was listening to Mary with utter fascination.

“So it’s paper money? Like you can tear it up?” she asked incredulously.

“Why would you tear up money?” Mary rolled her eyes in exasperation.

Lily hardly paid attention to their chattering. The sight of her bed brought memories of the one back home. She had never gone to bed without her father tucking her in or her mother kissing her goodnight. It felt so weird. The excitement of the day was fading into the darkness of the night. She was suddenly scared. The light from the moon filtering through the windows reminded her of a game she and Petunia played with their bedside lamps before going to sleep. The thought of Petunia brought tears to her eyes. If only Petunia could be happy for her. She walked to her bed where her trunk had already been placed. She heard Mary and Marlene exchange introductions with the other occupants. Determined not to let Petunia spoil her first night at Hogwarts, she rubbed her tears hastily and went to join in the introductions. She couldn’t help noticing that Adhara Selwyn had already gone to bed and drawn the curtains around herself.




“Hey, first years have two dormrooms,” observed James. “Hey, we’re in the same dorm! Dormatory 1A!” James turned to Sirius excitedly.

“Who else is with us?” asked Sirius peering at the list pinned.

“Remus Lupin and Peter Pettigrew,” James read out.

“Dorm 1B has Louis Branstone, Clarence Sloan and Jake Wyatt,” read out Sirius. “Have you seen them?”

James shook his head, shrugging as if to say it didn’t matter and led the way up the stairs.

“I still can’t believe I’m in Gryffindor,” grinned Sirius as he and James unpacked on adjacent beds.

“You don’t look like a Slytherin to me. Snivellus on the other hand... ” James trailed off sniggering.

“Mate,” Sirius looked up at James, in sudden realization, “If I’d gone to Slytherin like my mum wanted me to, I’d probably be unpacking next to him now.”

“You dodged a tricky curse there, mate,” said James, shaking his head seriously, “Imagine having to wake up to that face.” Sirius and James looked at each other in horror and burst out laughing.

“What’s so funny?” the squeaky kid reappeared from the bathroom, looking interestedly between James and Sirius.

“James just said something really scary,” Sirius replied unhelpfully catching James’ eye and snickering. The round face looked slightly disappointed as the boy walked past them, grunting as he tried to squeeze through the small gap between the bed and the wall on the far end to get to his things.

“Hey,” a sandy-haired boy spoke up from the corner. James turned, startled, for the first time realizing someone other than him and Sirius occupied their dorm. “I could take that bunk if you’d like,” he offered kindly to the short boy. He thanked him and scurried over to the bed next to James’ where the boy had been half unpacking.

“I’m Remus Lupin,” the sandy-haired boy addressed Sirius and James who looked mildly interested.

“Sirius Black,” supplied Sirius, raising his chin in a nod.

“James Potter,” supplied James carelessly.

“Peter Pettigrew,” wheezed the mousy-haired boy, his head eagerly poking from behind the blinds. Remus hurried over to remove his belongings so Peter could unpack, his face a little flushed. He withdrew behind the coverings, muttering a polite goodnight.

“Goodnight!” Peter replied shrilly. James raised his eyebrows at Sirius who shrugged and carelessly walked over to his bunk, falling on his back, fully clothed.

He stared at the red and gold eiderdown, as if taking it all in for the first time. Everything seemed fine during the day, but now that he was alone with his thoughts, a tiny fear crept into his heart. He didn’t fancy the prospect of telling his parents that he didn’t get into Slytherin. He could hear his mother’s shrieks already, and see the disdainful look on his father’s face. It wasn’t like he could help it, he reasoned with himself. Besides, he thought, where’s the fun in doing things the way they should be done. Grinning, he rolled onto his stomach and fell asleep, not bothering to change into his pajamas.



AUTHOR'S NOTE



Hey! I hope you liked the second chapter.  I'd love to know what you all think about it. Would you have liked to see more about what Remus or James was going through? How did you like the characters? 

A shout out Becasue I have a lovely beta in Felpata Lupin,  an awesome critic in NB, HB and LilyJamesPotter and an amazing support system for plunny brainstorming in victoria_anne (Bianca) and my favorite reviewers from the forums


Chapter 3: 1st Year - Laying the Bricks
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The anticipation of a life he hadn’t thought possible rendered him restless through his first night, impatient for the morning to arrive and assure him that all hadn’t been a dream. Remus Lupin was thus quick to wake when the first rays of the morning sun filtered through the sheer draping the window. His first instinct as he sat up on the bed was to look around and ensure it was real. His second was an immediate concern for his morning breath, a situation he silently hurried to rectify.

When he emerged from the bathroom, he noticed that his roommates hadn’t stirred. Peter Pettigrew’s wheezy breaths alternated with Sirius Black’s’ silent breathing. James Potter was sprawled with one leg draped around a spare pillow and his hand dangling to the side. He wondered if he should wake them up, worried they might oversleep and miss breakfast. He walked around to the nearest bed unsurely.

“Er - James?” his morning voice hoarse, “James Potter?” James gave no indication of having heard him. Remus prodded him uncertainly in his shoulder, “Wake up,” his voice sounding stronger. James stirred awake, rubbing his eyes with one hand and noisily feeling around for his specs with the other.

“What, Dad?” he groaned, not recognizing Remus. Remus chuckled. That sound seemed to bring James to the present.

“At the risk of being called ‘Dad’ once again, I must insist that you are all running the risk of being late on your first day,”
Remus remarked, amused.

Sirius seemed to have woken up few seconds before, wrestling with his cloak that had twisted itself around him in the course of the night.

“Pfft! Who cares?” Sirius’ muffled scoff came from behind the complicated layers of cloak.

“Suit yourself. I’m going to get some breakfast. I hear the chocolate pudding here is simply delicious,” grinned Remus and made to go out.

“Wait,” mumbled Sirius, finally having extricated himself, “you said chocolate pudding right?” Remus watched on, laughing, as a yawning Sirius and James made for the bathroom, reaching the doorway at the same time and jostling each other to get in first. Sirius won eventually, edging James out, raising his arms in mock-triumph. Peter was rudely awoken by a crash emitting from James retrieving his robes from his cupboard. As Remus waited for the others to get ready, his eyes raked around, soaking in everything around him. The sunlight, brighter than it had been when he had woken up, seemed to transfer life and warmth onto the cold stone walls. It was happening. He really was at Hogwarts.




Marlene was amused by Lily’s fascination with Hogwarts and everything magic. What seemed mundane to a pure-blood Marlene was extraordinary to Lily, and she found herself explaining everything. Lily, initially shy, had in turn wasted no time telling her all about her home and family.

“- and Sev, he was the one who told me about Hogwarts first, even before my letter,” she was saying excitedly as they made their way down to breakfast.

“Who's Sev?”

“Severus Snape. He lives by my home. He’s in our year too, Slytherin,” she explained.

“Slytherin?” Marlene scrunched up her nose. She had heard too much about the Slytherins to feel partial towards them. She was about to retort when Lily disengaged from her and walked up to meet a puny, hook-nosed boy.



Lily had spotted Severus hanging around between the Slytherin and Hufflepuff tables, looking hopefully at where the Gryffindors were piling in for breakfast. His eyes lit up when he saw her. She waved excitedly and made her way towards him.

“Did you have a good sleep?” she asked.

“It was okay,” he mumbled glumly.

“Are you still sulking about the sorting?” She frowned, losing patience. “We’re finally at Hogwarts. This is all we dreamed about. Don’t ruin it by being so sad,” she beseeched, narrowing her eyes. Severus sighed and smiled reluctantly.

“Yeah, we’re finally here.”

Lily smiled in relief. “Marlene said we have Charms with Slytherin later today. I’ll see you there!” she waved and hurried back to Marlene, who had been joined by Dorcas Meadows, Regina Flume and Mary Macdonald.

Severus’s eyes followed her wistfully as she was waved over by James Potter to sit across them at their table. Gryffindor table, he thought bitterly. He watched as the girls laughed at something Sirius said, envy bubbling through his heart when Lily’s shining face looked at James’ cheerfully.

Remus remained mostly quiet through breakfast, speaking only when spoken to. James and Sirius didn’t seem to mind so much, chattering away, with Peter hanging on to everything they said hoping to get a word in edgewise. The Gryffindor boys from the other dormroom had introduced themselves to him, before turning back to their own conversation. It was much easier to slink into the background when the girls joined in.

As they walked towards class, with Louis Branstone, who seemed to know quite a bit about Hogwarts already, leading the way (James and Sirius having mysteriously disappeared somewhere), Remus was beginning to feel a kind of delight he hadn’t experienced in his short, lonely childhood. Momentarily, he forgot about his lycanthropy and joined in the merriment. He was almost a normal wizarding boy.




Sirius and James came to a skidding halt outside Transfiguration, slightly out of breath. Professor McGonagall looked at them sternly, one hand on the half-closed door handle.

“Five seconds later and you wouldn’t have been allowed in my class,” she said sternly, looking at them from below her glasses and widening the door a little.

They slipped in feeling uncharacteristically demure. Professor McGonagall had that effect on most people. They took the empty seat behind two Hufflepuff blokes. A hush fell over the class as McGonagall walked to the front, her shoes tapping against the floor briskly. She turned around to survey the class, her mouth opened to speak, when a sudden appearance the door caught her attention.

“Excuse me, Mam.” All heads turned to the door. A tall prefect with bleached blonde hair was standing at the door, his smooth voice betraying a haughty edge. “Please Professor, the headmaster has requested Sirius Black to meet him immediately.” All eyes turned to Sirius whose unconcerned look up until that moment, turned confused. “It’s urgent,” Lucius Malfoy insisted.

McGonagall frowned slightly. “Very well. Mr. Black, you may go,” she consented, nodding at Sirius.

“Wonder what you did,” whispered James wickedly.

“Whatever it is, I'll make sure you’re involved,” he whispered back winking, swinging his backpack over his shoulder and strolling out.




The walk from transfiguration to the stone gargoyles had been uncomfortably silent. Sirius glanced sideways at Lucius, who was looking more smug than usual. He hadn't displayed a trace of recognition, a fact that made Sirius raise his eyebrows, remembering how Lucius had fawned over his mother the last time their family had come over for dinner. Not that Sirius was complaining. He had never liked Lucius or his garrulous, smooth talking father. For all the riches that they boasted of, they became surprisingly evasive when asked about the nature of their work. He felt Andromeda had been right about them when she had pointed out that they probably hadn't done an honest day's work for generations. She was a lot of fun, and didn’t patronize him the way her sisters did. He had once made fun of Narcissa’s lofty way of talking, while Andromeda and Regulus had rolled with laughter. He suddenly remembered that Lucius had walked in on them at the time. Maybe that was why he was ignoring him. It was rumored that he was dating Narcissa. Poor bloke, thought Sirius, chuckling to himself.

“Password is Chocolate Cauldrons,” Lucius informed in a stiff voice, “go on ahead.” With a nasty smile, he turned on his heel and walked away. Sirius was slightly unnerved now, his cool composure giving way to a sense of foreboding. Something didn’t seem alright. His instincts proved right when a shriek drifted back to him as he neared the doors of Dumbledore’s study.

“Outrageous! Disgraceful! Scandalous! How could you let this happen?”

“If you could please take a seat, Mrs.-”

“Take a Seat? Take a seat? I’ll take my son out of this bleeding school!” a deranged voice screeched. Sirius’ eyes widened in mingled horror and shame.

‘Your son has arrived Mrs. Black,” Dumbledore’s composed voice and calm demeanor rendered Walburga Black momentarily speechless. Taking advantage of the silence, Dumbledore beckoned to Sirius. He turned to face his mother in trepidation. There were red blotches on her face, a vein throbbing in her throat, her chest heaving up and down. Her beautiful long tresses were falling out of the elegant bun on top of her head, her hat trembling and lopsided. Her usually handsome face, screwed up unpleasantly, the transformation resembling that of an angered veela. Her eyes widened with rage when she saw Sirius.

“Now, Mrs. Black,” Dumbledore started as Walburga advanced angry steps towards her son, “I’m afraid-”

“You better be afraid!” she snapped, stopping in her tracks and turning to face Dumbledore. “I’m paying for his education. I demand a change. Or else-”

“Sit down Mrs. Black,” repeated Drumbledore, his quiet voice ringing loudly in contrast to Walburga’s thundering. She threw a dirty look at her son and grudgingly sat at the chair opposite Dumbledore. Sirius noticed that the portraits on the wall were looking on with great interest.

“Now, let’s discuss this in a calm and mature manner,” continued Dumbledore, sitting down on his own chair behind the desk. Walburga seemed to have taken some control of herself, the redness slowly fading from her cheeks. She still hadn’t lost the crazy look in her eyes. She tucked the stray strands of hair behind her ear and straightened her hat and dress.

“Professor Dumbledore,” Walburga started glibly, her voice switching personalities in seconds, “I’m sure there must have been a mistake,” she implored politely.

“Mr. Black,” Dumbledore addressed Sirius, “Your mother feels that the Sorting Hat has made a mistake-”

“And rightly so!” an indignant voice piped up. Sirius looked around for the familiar voice in alarm before realizing it belonged to his great-great-grandfather. The thin face of Phineas Nigellus seemed to be eyeing him disapprovingly.

“Phineas,” Dumbledore addressed the portrait warningly. Turning to Sirius, he continued, “As I was saying, your mother here feels you were wrongly sorted into Gryffindor. She demands a re-sorting, otherwise she has threatened to take you out of Hogwarts.” Sirius’ eyes widened in dismay. “Now, this is indeed a peculiar situation. We have never had a parent coming over with such a request. However,” he turned to Walburga, “as I have already informed you that is not possible. And even if it was, it is unfair to the other students-”

“The only one this is unfair to is my son. The noble blood of Black runs through his veins. We have been Slytherins for generations,” she proclaimed arrogantly, her voice rising steadily, “I insist-”

“And I insist Mrs. Black, that your son will indeed remain in the house he was sorted in,” cut in Dumbledore, with the exasperated air of someone explaining something to a child. Sirius was becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the situation. He didn’t want to go to Slytherin and be friends with  the likes of Snivellus. He liked it here. He was somewhat comforted by Dumbledore’s firm replies, but he also knew his mother too well. She would do anything to get what she wanted.

“Then he will not study at Hogwarts,” she declared, lifting her chin and rising from her chair furiously, “Go pack your things Sirius,” she commanded, her eyes defiantly on Dumbledore. Sirius looked dazed and was rooted to the spot. “Didn’t you hear me?” she snapped turning to look at him, “Go and get your things!” her eyes flashed.

“No,” he said quietly, looking at his feet. Walburga blinked. Dumbledore suppressed a small smile behind his beard.

“What did you say?” her voice dangerously low. Sirius looked square into her eyes.

“I said NO,” his voice stronger, “Mum,” he added tentatively.

What do you mean ‘No’,” her eyes glinted dangerously, her voice theetering on an edge. Sirius was sure she would start screaming again. Better here than through a Howler in the Great Hall, Sirius reasoned.

“I mean, I don’t want to leave. I like it here. Gryffindor is quite nice,” he replied cooly.

Quite nice?” she sneered, “Do you see Professor Dumbledore, how they have managed to hoodwink my poor little boy? He doesn’t know what he’s saying!” she proclaimed, outraged. Sirius felt insulted.

“I think your son’s meaning couldn’t have been plainer,” replied Dumbledore fully smiling now, “I cannot allow you to remove a student forcefully from Hogwarts. I suggest you take a Calming Draught, Mrs. Black, and head home for a good night’s sleep,” his tone indicated finalty. Walburga looked as if she wanted to say more but stopped herself at the look on Dumbledore’s face. She spat rudely and swept out of the office, without so much as a glance at Sirius. Sirius remained where he was, a little dazed, unsure of what had just transpired.

“You may return to your classes Mr. Black,” Dumbledore spoke up gently, disrupting Sirius’ thoughts.

“And Mr. Black-” Sirius turned around, almost out of Dumbledore’s office, “I am convinced that you really do belong in Gryffindor.” Sirius looked into Dumbledore’s twinkling eyes and grinned suddenly.

Sirius thought he heard his great-great-grandfather snort derisively as he shut the door behind him.




“What happened with Professor Dumbledore?” asked James curiously, as they filled into the dungeons for their Potions lesson.

“My mum,” Sirius muttered.

Before he could say anything further, the door creaked open and the Potions teacher walked down the aisle, his prominent belly preceding him. His straw-colored hair seemed to be receding from the front and balding from the back.

“Another set of First years,” he announced, looking around the class with bright eyes, tucking his pudgy thumbs into his pocket. This thrust his belly out even more. “I’m Professor Slughorn. And, today, we will be looking at the basics of Potion Making. I don’t expect you to show any real talent today, but as the year goes I will know who has what it takes to be a master potioneer.”

He beamed around at the class, as if sizing them up as a whole. His walrus mustache twitched as he spoke, serving as a great entertainment for James Potter. The rest of the class looked at him silently as he drew a parchment close to him.

Professor Slughorn began the roll call. This process itself took up more than a quarter of the class hour as he insisted on pausing at certain names to inquire after their parents or relatives.

“Black, Sirius,” he looked up, eyeing Sirius with a mixture of curiosity and disappointment. “Never thought I’d live to see a Black in Gryffindor,” he commented, “A pity,” he shook his head, clucking his tongue. Most heads turned to look at Sirius who shrugged lazily, grinning.

Slughorn moved past the next few names without comments, pausing a little at Allan Bones from Hufflepuff to ask about his uncle and Cassandra Fawley from Slytherin about her mother. “Hopkins, Daisy,” he looked up interestedly, “Are you the niece of Madam Sarah Hopkins? Chief Witch in Wizengamot?” Daisy Hopkins blushed a little, nodding in affirmation.

He eyed her approvingly before going back to his list. His gaze lingered a little when he came to Remus Lupin. There was something very knowing about that look of mingled fear and pity. Remus flushed, his heart hammering in his chest. But Professor Slughorn moved past without a word, and nobody else seemed to have noticed anything.

“Ollivander, Leigha,” Slughorn looked up excitedly, his gooseberry colored eyes almost popping out. “Ollivander?” he repeated questioningly.

“Garrick Ollivander is my father’s brother,” explained the round-faced Ravenclaw. Slughorn made a few excited inquiries before realizing dolefully that he had a class to get back to. He paused once again at Amar Patil from Ravenclaw to find out where his father and uncle were currently employed.

“Potter, James,” he looked up, straight at James Potter. “You look exactly like your father did when he sat in my first class,” he commented. “Made a fortune, that one, with Sleekeazy’s Hair Potion, did he not?”

“Yes sir,” James’ grin was wide even when quite a few people turned to look at him curiously.

“How is the business doing? From what I hear, it’s still raking in a lot of money. A bit of genius, appealing to the vanity of womenfolk.”

“It’s going very well sir, thank you,” replied James.

“He was a natural at Defense and Duelling,” continued Slughorn, almost as if summing up to himself. “But he made a living with his potioneering,” he remarked approvingly, “I briefly met your grandfather too, Henry Potter, a fine wizard. Advocated for helping the Muggles during the Great War. A bold move.” He looked at James curiously. James nodded.

“Very well,” he stroked his mustache, still appraising James with his bright eyes. He went back to the roll call, glancing once at Vance Rosier from Slytherin. He stopped at Adhara Selwyn’s name.

“Ah,” he said quietly, “This seems to be a generation of rebels.” There was a slight disapproving tone to his voice, “Your brother, Rigel, is in Slytherin, is he not?” Adhara nodded, her long hair falling forward to hide part of her face. Slughorn’s eyes darted between her and Sirius. “Interesting,” he muttered, holding his thoughtful gaze for a few seconds before going back to his roll call. Gryffindor’s Clarence Sloan’s admission that he wasn’t related to the famous Carl Sloan of Puddlemore United was met with a snort of disapproval, and he spent a few seconds fawning over Travion Thorley whose mother was a very successful in wizarding fashion and ran her own business. The rest of the names didn’t provide for any major distraction, and soon he rolled his parchment and looked up at the class, rubbing his hands together.

“Alright,” he looked around impressively, “Today, we will be learning how to cut up different roots for potions.” He proceeded to give them instructions, and waved his wand towards the cupboard. Different roots flew out of them and distributed themselves neatly on the desks of the students.

He then walked along the rows of students, pausing sporadically to have a detailed conversation about famous relatives. He sat by James Potter for over fifteen minutes, making him recall his father’s and grandfather’s life in painstaking detail. He peered over at Sirius’ handwork and raised his eyebrows in alarm at the sight of him hacking away at the roots carelessly.

Finesse, Mr. Black. Potions requires finesse, and attention to detail,” he scolded reproachfully, moving away. “Ah Ms. -?” He said, looking at Lily’s table interestedly.

“Evans,” replied Lily.

“Muggle-born, I presume?” Lily nodded. “Very good,” he commended appraising her roots in his large palm, “Perfect proportions. You used the bigger knife,” he observed, “Did you read up before this class Ms. Evans?” he asked sharply.

“No sir,” she admitted, “I just thought it would be easier this way.” Slughorn eyed her approvingly, moving to the front of the class.

“This is what I wanted. Presence of mind. Potions is not just about following given instructions like house-elves. It is also about thinking out of the box. Ten points to Gryffindor for Ms. Evans.”

Lily blushed delightfully. Soon, the class was filing out of the dungeons, discussing the new information about their fellow classmates and giggling over Horace Slughorn’s coat buttons almost popping out as he breathed.



A week had passed. Introductions were exchanged, and names were familiarized with. The first years were beginning to find their own niches. With James and Sirius having quickly bonded, and Branston, Sloan and Wyatt always hanging out together, Remus was often sidelined to sit with Peter in classes. While Remus preferred the first few benches, Peter insisted they sit in close proximity to the duo. Peter kept trying to join in James’ and Sirius’ conversations, and scurrying behind them whenever possible. By the first week, it was clear that James and Sirius were trend setters of their year. They were effortlessly good at most subjects (although Sirius’ inclination towards Herbology reduced markedly after receiving a bite from a particularly nasty plant Professor Sprout specifically told them to stay away from).
James’ interest in Transfiguration stemmed from his natural flair, after having successfully converted his needle into a matchstick on his fourth try. McGonagall had a few rare words of praise for him and awarded an impressed twenty points. He looked around pleased and performed a mock bow when she had turned her back.

“Can you show me how it’s done?” Peter asked eagerly. His needle had merely twitched on the table when he had recited the incantation, more so from the force of his breath than feeble magic.

“How difficult can it be?” Sirius remarked carelessly, flicking his wand lazily and getting it right on the second try. He smirked at Peter’s whoop of praise. James, who had not even realized Peter had addressed him, was now engrossed in trying to turn his matchstick back into a needle.

“Here, let me help you,” offered Remus, feeling sorry. Peter smiled at Remus gratefully and proceeded to learn from him, sporadically distracted by completely unrelated snickers from behind them.

The days went on uneventfully, with an occasional incident of interest or two involving Peter Pettigrew blowing up something in Charms, and Julian Stebbins having transfigured his textbook into a block of wood and having clue how it happened. Sirius and James provided the entertainment, simultaneously losing points for their antics and winning them for their magical skills. The first month had gone by before they knew it.

Lily could not help noticing how withdrawn Adhara Selwyn was. She was always the first one to wake, gone even before the others woke up. She was rarely seen at the breakfast table. In class, she almost always sat alone. Mary pointed out that she wasn’t receiving any letters from home, and taking pity offered her some homemade cookies. Adhara’s look of contempt as she stiffly refused and turned away puzzled and angered everyone. (“She’s a Slytherin blueblood,” explained Marlene dryly) After that, the Gryffindor girls didn’t bother much about her.

One particular evening, Remus was sitting in the common room alongside Jake Wyatt and Peter, his head bent over a scroll of parchment. A sudden burst of laughter distracted him as he looked up, his quill pausing. A group of boys sitting by the fire had just been greatly amused by something. Remus spotted the stocky and well-built Nelson Redford, the sixth year Quidditch captain, red-haired and lanky 2nd year beater Owen Weasley. Next to them, looking small but oozing confidence, and seeming a foot taller than they were, stood James Potter and Sirius Black. While he, Remus, was the epitome of the saying ‘First years should be seen and not heard’, James and Sirius seemed determined to change the game. James had a way of drawing people’s attention. He was mostly goofy, with an air of turning any situation entertaining. Sirius with his brazen disregard for norms and his natural complacency was intimidating even to some seniors.

Remus watched on as Adhara Selwyn hurried to Sirius and beckoned. Sirius’ grin turned quizzical as he took in her twitchy movements, and followed her away from the group. The characteristic supercilious glint in her eyes was replaced with distress, and unusually bright. She seemed to be appealing to Sirius, who in turn looked uninterested, kicking his heels to the floor uncomfortably. He shrugged at her, and gave a reply that didn’t seem to make any difference to her state of mind. Adhara’s face betrayed a look of helplessness moments before Sirius turned to walk away. Almost immediately it went back to its indifferent haughtiness as she made her way out of the common room.



One conversation, one incident, one moment, one dialog. That’s all it takes to cement a friendship. For James and Sirius, all it took was that first meeting on the Hogwarts express. For James, Sirius and Remus, it needed something more.

Remus was just returning from the owlery after sending a letter to his father. As he neared a bend in the corridor he could hear hushed voices, sounding oddly familiar.

“No - James - that’s not... give it here!”

“Wait - ouch! It burns!”

There was a clattering and sound of something scurrying.

“Git! Why did you drop it?”

There was a sound of someone running in the opposite direction.

Remus turned around the corner and came face-to-face with James Potter who seemed to be nursing two fingers that appeared red and swollen. Sirius came running from the other end, looking disgruntled.

“It escaped somewhere,” grumbled Sirius, looking accusingly at James. He suddenly noticed Remus and looked at him warily.

“You should dab a few drops of Murtlap Essence on your fingers,” Remus suggested with a knowing smile, “Works wonders on Fire Crab burns.” He nodded to Sirius and walked past them.

“Oh and -” Remus stopped in his tracks and turned back to face them, “Smuggling a Fire Crab into the Potions cupboard won’t disrupt the class. Professor Slughorn can handle it with a flick of his wand. Also now, your fingers-” he nodded towards James, “- would be a dead giveaway. You could probably screw in a biting doorknob to the supplies cupboard. Make sure to wear gloves this time,” he added with a grin before going on his way, slightly amused by the gaping expressions on Hogwarts’ most popular first years.



Back in the common room, Remus was helping Pettigrew with Charms homework, his own completed scroll neatly tied up and resting beside his feet. James and Sirius walked and sat in front of them. Peter looked up beaming.

“So - ” started James awkwardly, “Murtlap Essence worked. Thanks for that.” He held up his  fingers, still red but not swollen anymore.

“No problem,” replied Remus politely. James and Sirius exchanged a look, as if debating who should speak next. Peter looked between James, Sirius and Remus intently, puzzled.

“So, how do you know so much about Fire Crabs,” demanded Sirius, eyebrows raised.

“Oh, that! Actually my dad told me all about them. He works for the Department  for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures,” he continued excitedly, encouraged by the impressed look on their faces, “He started teaching me magic since I was six because he thought I wouldn’t be able to come to Hogwarts.”

“Why not?” asked James, shrewdly. Remus had already gone pale.

“Uh- it’s my mom,” he rushed, thinking fast, “She’s - er...not well… and requires a lot of attention. Dad - er - thought it might be helpful if I was around.”

“Oh... “ James responded, not quite knowing what to say. Remus grimaced.

“I hope she’s alright now,” spoke up Peter reassuringly, eager to be heard.

“It was quite cool, what you suggested back there,” commented Sirius. He glanced at James and continued, “James and I thought, maybe, you could help us with the doorknob?” he said with an air of someone offering a privileged opportunity.

“What doorknob?” asked Peter, nonplussed.

“It’ll be fun,” piped up James.

“Well-” started Remus hesitantly. He had been feeling quite pleased earlier, but he had also almost given himself away. He was quite nervous now. He couldn't afford to let his guard down again. But looking between James’ friendly face and Sirius’ eyebrows raised in invitation, his face split into a grin, and he found himself agreeing. James offered his hand solemnly to an amused Remus. Peter eyed James’ outstretched hand hopefully, but was once again dutifully ignored. Remus, for once, was too delighted to notice.



A/N: 
Hey, Thank you all for making it till Chapter 3 with me. I would love to know what you all feel. How was the pace? Did it give a better insight into their lives? 

~ I love my beta Felpata Lupin
~ Special Thanks to NB (and my RL NaNo mum who is the sole reason I haven't abandoned this yet) and HB for all their input and strong encouragement that's making this stupendous undertaking so much more fun and easy! Love you guys.


Chapter 4: 1st Year - Broomsticks
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“Oh, look! Flying lessons!” exclaimed Marlene, pointing to the noticeboard. A colorful flier was pinned, where a broomstick was flying around the page.

“But I thought first years weren't allowed broomsticks?” asked Lily.

“Oh, no we aren't,” Marlene clarified, “they give us the school brooms for learning and practice. Ohh I'm so excited!” She rubbed her hands gleefully. Her strawberry blonde hair tied back in a ponytail, swished side to side as she bounced on her toes.

“Excellent. Quidditch lessons!”

Lily and Marlene turned to see James and Sirius looking at the flier over their shoulders. Jake Wyatt had pointed it out to them. James’ wide grin reached his hazel eyes which were shining through his round glasses.

“It's about time too! Not that I'll be needing it,” he added, drawing himself taller.

“Why not?” Marlene asked curiously.

“I've ridden my cousin’s Thunderbolt-A Series,” he bragged, “I've been flying since I was six.” Marlene looked impressed, and Jake Wyatt terribly interested. Lily, who had been considerably excited moments ago, was suddenly disheartened as the four of them launched into a detailed conversation about Broomsticks and Quidditch.

“What's happening?”

Lily turned, slightly relieved to see Mary, Dorcas and Regina join them. Mary was a Muggle-born too. She might share Lily’s apprehension.

“Flying Lessons,” supplied Marlene.

Mary looked mildly interested. Dorcas Meadowes didn't even glance at it. Lily wasn't surprised. Dorcas was a brilliant witch for her age. However, small-made and pale, she didn't strike Lily as the outdoors type. Regina Flume was interested but declared without regret that she would be taking the afternoon off to visit her parents who lived in Hogsmeade. Lily turned hopefully to Mary, who was conversing quietly to Dorcas. The two of them had taken quite a liking to each other over the first few weeks.

Mary started towards the portrait with the other two. Lily glanced at the flier glumly and hurried to catch up with Marlene, Jake, James and Sirius who had walked forward excitedly discussing racebrooms, joined by a somewhat interested Clarence Sloan. She was heartened that for once, know-it-all Louis Branstone had nothing to add. She guessed he wasn’t much of an outdoors type either. Listening to the chatter only affirmed her fears of making a fool of herself. She followed them into the Great Hall.

“Hey,” Severus had walked up to her unnoticed. “What's wrong?” he inquired looking at her face. She looked up and relief flooded through her. Of course, why hadn’t she thought of him before? He wouldn’t think her fears were stupid. He would tell her all about Quidditch and broomsticks.

“Sev, I’m so glad to see you,” she rushed, “Did you see the notice for Flying Lessons?”

“Yeah, Friday afternoon right?”

“Well yes, but…” she hesitated.

“But what? You can tell me anything,” Severus prodded.

“Well, I’m afraid I won’t be any good,” she confessed, lowering her voice to a whisper, “everyone seems to know so much about brooms, and James Potter has been flying since he was six,” she said dismayed.

“James Potter is a lot of talk,” Sev sneered coldly, “I’ll bet he hasn’t even touched a broom. Besides, it’s just like any other lesson, you’ll only learn if you try,” he reassured.

Lily nodded, feeling light after getting the words off her chest. The mere act of hearing them said out loud made her realize how silly her fears were. But Severus had taken them seriously. She smiled gratefully at him.

“Even if I am bad, at least I'll have you there.”

“Well, only because it's compulsory. I don’t fancy flying much,” he shrugged.

“Wise decision,” remarked James, having overheard from nearby,

“No broom would want to take off with you,” he joked loudly, chuckling with Sirius. Sev’s ears turned red, as heat flooded Lily’s cheeks.

“You’ll probably need the lessons more than me. Your pea-sized brain couldn't tell the back of your broom from the front,” spat Severus, eyeing James nastily.

“With those greasy hands, I’d be surprised if you could hold on without slipping off,” retorted James.

“I bet he can fly better than you,” Lily interjected hotly. Sirius and James howled with laughter.

“I wouldn’t put money where your word’s at, Evans,” James guffawed.

“I guess we’ll have to see at the lessons Friday afternoon,” she replied, her chin raised defiantly, “Come on Sev,” she glared at James and turned on her heel and walked off.



Friday afternoon couldn’t come sooner for the first years. The sun continued to shine through a clear sky as the group of first years made their way to the field, chattering excitedly. Madam Hooch, the Quidditch coach, asked them to line up next to the brooms and started giving out instructions. Lily was standing with the Gryffindors, in between Marlene and Remus.

“Up!” the first-years cried in unison.

Lily was dismayed when her broom didn't even flinch. She looked around and saw nearly half the class in the same predicament. She repeated her actions, and this time her broom glided up to her hand slowly. She caught it delightedly, a thrill going through her like a gust of wind when her fingers curled around the broom. She looked around excitedly. James’ and Sirius’ brooms seemed to have shot up swiftly on their first try and they were already mounting it. Jake Wyatt looked at ease with his broom as well. Remus got it right on his second try like Lily. Marlene had some trouble initially, but on her fifth try she was ready to mount the broom. Louis Branstone’s broom kept rising halfway to his hand and dropped. Peter Pettigrew’s broom was trying to roll away from under his outstretched hand.

“Lupin can’t help the dunce with this one,” Sirius commented loudly to James as they laughed. Peter heard them and went red. Remus saw this and wanted to tell Sirius off. He half-opened his mouth, but James cut in, excitedly asking Remus to mount his broom quickly.

“Has everyone mounted their Brooms?” Madam Hooch’s loud voice rang across the field. All the conversations came to a pause and there was a scurry where a few students were trying to mount their brooms. “Alright, now bend low, relax and kick off lightly, and I mean lightly,” she looked around severely, her gaze lingering a couple of seconds longer on James and Sirius.

Lily was suddenly nervous and looked up to seek Sev’s reassuring face. She found him battling with his broom. Every time Severus tried to kick off, the broom bucked as if trying to push him off. Lily giggled despite herself. It was funny seeing him wildly kicking, trying to get his broom to behave.

“Oye Snivellus!” a few heads turned to Sirius Black, who hardly ever bothered lowering his voice, “Your nose is dripping,” he laughed cruelly as Snape dismounted, red in face, throwing his broom to the side angrily. Madam Hooch was busy tending to a couple of Slytherins who had tried to take off too hard and landed on their backs.

“I believe I win this round Evans,” a smug voice said in her ear. James Potter had glided to her side, suspended near her ear, completely at ease on his broom. Lily glared at him as he lightly bobbed up and down on his broom. It was clearly not his first time on a broomstick. “You should have believed me when I said I could fly,” he smirked, “comparing me to greaseball over there,” his jeering voice louder and directed at Snape.

“Just because you can fly doesn’t make you better than him,” she retorted coldly.

“Oh Evans, but it does,” he laughed mockingly, and started going higher, gliding smoothly. Sirius joined him, racing up and coming to a skidding halt at James’ height.

“Very good Mr. Black, Mr. Potter,” Madam Hooch clapped her hands in appreciation, “Now, lean forward and guide your brooms back to the ground steadily,” she instructed.  A Hufflepuff (Sally Hope) provided momentary distraction by exclaiming joyfully when she got to a four feet height. In that time, James and Sirius gained a few more feet in altitude.

“Come back to the ground this instant!” roared Madam Hooch, her attention back to the duo who were now closing in on 16 feet.

The two of them exchanged a glance and their faces split into identical grins. They sped down, accelerating as they got nearer to the ground, hurtling themselves towards the group of Slytherins. They whizzed to a sudden halt inches from where Snape was standing, causing him to shield his head and jump away instinctively. James had landed gracefully while Sirius had skid to a rough stop, kicking up mud as he tried to break with his feet. Madam hooch was advancing upon them, her hair sticking out at its ends, her whistle swinging angrily across her neck.

“Never - have I seen such insolent - Reckless! - Complete disregard -” James and Sirius had gotten to their feet, firmly fixed on the ground, were profusely apologizing to Madam Hooch. Sirius was trying to explain that it had been an accident and they hadn’t intended to fly so fast. At the end of ten minutes, she seemed somewhat convinced. It had begun to get dark and she called an end to that day’s session, announcing that they would pick up where they left off the next week.

The class dispersed in groups, talking animatedly, rejuvenated by the adrenaline rush from flying. Most of the conversation seemed to be about the stunt James and Sirius had pulled earlier. While they might have convinced Madam Hooch, they hadn't fooled Lily for a second. She had seen the look that had passed between them seconds before their descent. Her suspicions were confirmed when she saw James imitating Snape mounting his broom and jumping in fright to an amused audience. Snape shuffled ahead quickly, not turning back when Lily called out his name. She considered running after him, but he had disappeared into the darkness.



“Hey Lupin!” Sirius called as Remus entered their dorm that night. “James and I are planning to visit Hagrid this weekend, want to join?”

Hagrid was the assistant to Ogg, the gamekeeper. Sirius and he had instantly hit it off, their mutual fascination with Dragons seemed to have done the trick. It was incidentally Hagrid, who had let slip where Professor Kettleburn kept the Fire Crabs.

“Sure,” Remus said, turning to his bed. As he climbed on to his bunk, he caught sight of Peter’s empty bed. “Hey, do you guys mind if we take Peter along too?” he asked hesitantly.

“But why?” asked James, bewildered.

“Well,” Remus took a look at Sirius’ curling lips and faltered,

“It’s… just - er - We all share a dorm… and it doesn’t seem fair to keep leaving him out,” he reasoned, looking between Sirius and James. They exchanged a doubtful look.

“Well… I guess,” considered James, shrugging. Sirius continued to look doubtful but didn’t say anything. Remus flashed a grateful smile and disappeared behind the curtains, feeling pleased.


Horace Slughorn peered appreciatively into Lily Evans’ cauldron. The Potions dungeon was filled with thick smoke. The first years were sweating profusely, looking into their neighbors cauldrons fervently. Slughorn had grouped them in twos or threes and asked them to prepare a basic Herbicide Potion.

“You seem to have squeezed the required  amount of Bernacle juice from just three leaves,” he observed, impressed.

“I thought immersing them slightly in warm water would make it easier to squeeze them out. A little like squeezing remnants of lemon juice from a dried lemon isn’t it?” she replied. Slughorn’s repeated praises of her work over the past few weeks had emboldened her.

“I daresay Evans, your muggle experiences seem to be working in your favor. Sometimes, I feel we wizards are too quick to judge muggle-borns,” he mused as he moved on to the next table. She turned to seek out Severus’ face, two benches away from her, paired with Ralph Avery. His hair was greased with sweat and clung to his head damply. Sweat and tears from his burning eyes were pouring down the edge of his hooked nose. He caught Lily’s eyes and smiled as she gleamed excitedly at him. His attention turned back to Slughorn who had just approached his table. He looked pleased when Slughorn praised his potion, showing it as an example for those around him.

“Hey.” Lily felt a tap on her shoulder and tore her eyes away from Severus. “Can you tell me how to get the juice out?” Remus asked politely. He was holding up a mortar with mashed, sticky leaves, that had the appearance of having been recently squeezed by hand. She glanced at his partner, Sirius, who was poking at their potion with his wand, a disgusted look on his face. Her recent exhilaration at being praised rendered her suddenly benevolent, and she proceeded to help them, forgetting she wasn’t speaking to Sirius.

When the class was over, Lily sought out Snape and animatedly started describing how Slughorn had praised her.

“It feels so nice to be good at something,” she gushed, “and even Lupin and Black had to ask my help! I feel like I’m not so disadvantaged, being muggle-born!” she claimed happily.

“You helped Black?” Snape asked, his voice contrite.

“Yes, him and Lupin. They wanted to know-”

“And you obliged? I thought you were my friend,” he said sulkily.

“So what?” she demanded, her eyes narrowing angrily. “I can have other friends too.”

Friends are they now? I suppose you, Potter and his friends all have a good laugh at my expense in your great Gryffindor common room,” he said cruelly. Lily’s eyes filled with tears at those words.

“How could you?” she cried, “I haven’t talked to any of them since last week!” tears were streaming down her cheeks. Snape looked uncomfortable.

“Listen,” he said urgently, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you. It’s just that - listen -” he urged as she made to walk away, “They are so - arrogant -” he spat.

“I know, Sev,” she sniffed, wiping her tears, “I’m your best friend. I don’t like what they did to you either,” she insisted. Snape looked away, his lips curling distastefully. “I know we are in different houses, but we will always be best friends,” she assured him, “you need to find friends in  your own house too,” she said firmly as they walked down the corridor. Snape remained silent, not really listening to what Lily was saying.


It was way too early to be up on a Sunday morning. Marlene McKinnon was walking to the owlery, enjoying the way the castle looked in all its deserted glory and the early morning glow. As she drew near, she heard some voices, appearing to be carrying over from within the owlery.

“You can cry all you want, but that doesn’t change anything,” a male voice was saying harshly.

“But… You know I didn’t ask for this…” a pleading voice sobbed, sounding vaguely familiar.

“You’re going to have to do more than that to convince me,” the male voice said roughly.

Marlene heard quick steps approaching her, and a tall figure brushed past her quickly before she could catch sight of his face. She walked into the owlery quickly, hearing muffled sobs. She was surprised to find Adhara Selwyn sobbing into her hands. She didn’t seem to have noticed Marlene. Marlene stood unsurely, not knowing what to do. She walked over to Adhara and placed her arm hesitantly around her shoulders. Adhara looked up startled, her eyes red and cheeks glistening with tears. Her wavy black hair was disheveled. She took one look into Marlene’s face and her eyes filled with tears again. She sobbed silently into Marlene’s shoulders for a few moments. Marlene just stood there, patting her back occasionally. Adhara’s sobs subsided, and she pulled back, rubbing her eyes with the back of her hands. Without meeting Marlene’s eyes she abruptly swept past, leaving Marlene to draw her own conclusions about what had just happened.
Marlene’s thoughts were filled with what had just happened as she made her way back to the common room. Her eyes sought out Adhara but there was no sign of her there or in the dorm. The others had however awoken, and she lost no time in telling Lily what she had witnessed.

“Do you think it could have been her brother?” asked Lily curiously.

“I hadn’t thought of that,” she considered.

Adhara walked in and the two of them stopped talking suddenly.

“I really appreciate what you did for me back there,” she addressed Marlene directly. Marlene was slightly taken aback at her forthrightness. The way Adhara had left, she had expected her to pretend it had never happened.

“If anyone is bothering you, I really think -”

“No. It was my brother,” cut in Adhara coldly, raising her chin. Lily shot her a triumphant look. “I should have been in Slytherin,” she explained looking away. “The Selwyns have been a long line of Slytherins,” she laughed bitterly. Suddenly it all seemed to make sense. “I just wanted to say, thanks,” Adhara said stiffly and walked past her.

Marlene turned to look at Lily with her eyebrows raised. “No wonder she ignores you and Mary. She’s one of those,” Marlene said frowning.

“It sounds like she’s having a hard time,” Lily reasoned.

“She doesn’t deserve any sympathy.” Marlene’s lip curled. “Those families, they all want to be in Slytherin so that all the so-called pure bloods could stick together. Frankly, with her attitude, she should have joined them,” Marlene said vehemently. Lily looked thoughtfully towards the door through which Adhara had just exited.

“But…” She seemed to be struggling to find the right words, “what’s so wrong with being in Gryffindor?”

Marlene sighed. “It is tough to understand, if you haven’t grown up in our world. To be in Slytherin is like the pride of being pureblood. Not all Slytherins are pureblood,” Marlene hurried to explain as Lily opened her mouth, “but the Slytherin House is known for its selection of the cunning, cut-throat, ambitious, mostly evil. Salazar Slytherin is a well-known pureblood supremacist.”

Lily nodded slowly. Marlene knew she was trying to understand but didn’t quite completely. Her thoughts flew to Adhara. The girl who had sobbed so pitifully that morning was quite a contrast with the girl who had offered a begrudging word of gratitude just now. But Marlene had been raised with no tolerance for supremacists, and Adhara was clearly still behaving like one. She had talked to Marlene, but ignored Lily completely. Marlene was convinced that Adhara was no different from the rest of her family.



A/N:
Please Leave a little review if you've made it this far!

Special mentions to NB, HB, 2AB, ARK and my dearest beta Chiara (Felpata Lupin)




Chapter 5: 2nd Year - Hogwarts Express, Take Two
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June 1972

Adhara Selwyn was lying on her bed, staring at the dark shadows cast by moonlight filtering through her curtains. It was a deliciously warm summer night, ideal for a moonlit spin on the broomstick. It had been a week since the summer holidays had started and she had received no letters, had no friends to talk to and nothing to keep her company except her homework, which lay abandoned in her schoolbag.

“Adhara?” a tentative voice at her door was preceded by the kind face of her mother, “Can I come in?”

Adhara nodded, barely moving. Her mother, Corinna Selwyn, was the only one in the house who would talk to her. Her father wouldn’t talk to her anymore. And Rigel - well, he was the reason she was holed up in her room most of the time. The last time she had come face-to-face with him, she had attacked him for taunting her. Her hand had gotten cut on his teeth. It still smarted every time she saw his bloody face.

“Adhara,” her mother started, sitting on her bad, “What is going on with you? I want to help, but I can’t unless you talk to me.”

“There’s nothing to tell,” Adhara replied, her face impassive.

“You’re just like your grandmother,” her mother mused, “Holding your feelings so close to your chest,” she shook her head. Adhara didn’t reply. Her mother sighed and stroked Adhara’s hair back from her forehead gently. She leaned forward, kissed her on the forehead and got up to leave.

“Mum,” Adhara turned to look at her mother, her eyes glistening, “Am I a disgrace to the family?”

Her mother turned to look at her and sighed. “Adhara… I know your father feels rather strongly that you should have been in Slytherin, but-”

“Rather strongly?” scoffed Adhara, “He hasn’t even looked at me since I came home. And Rigel won’t talk to me in school either,” her voice was on the edge now. Her mother came back to sit on the bed.

“Your father,” she hesitated, “Your father has been brought up with some ideals. He finds it difficult to let them go. Rigel sets much in store by what your father says. Your father believes being Slytherin is a mark of a true Selwyn. But I don’t,” she added reassuringly.

“You don’t?” Adhara asked surprised, “But why didn’t you say something?”

“Because…” her mother sighed, “It’s not easy, to stand up to a man like your father.” Adhara continued to look at her mother, slightly confused with all this new information.

“But you married him,” she pointed out, struggling to understand.

“Yes dear. It felt like the right thing at the time. I really did love your father. But I don’t always agree with him.”

“Then, why don’t you say anything?” Adhara repeated, confused.

“I’ve never been brave like my mother,” her mother replied, smiling wryly, “She would have spoken up. She was in Gryffindor too, you know,” she said reminiscently.

“Grandma Victoria was in Gryffindor?” Adhara sat up, trying to digest this new piece of information.

“Yes dear,” her mother smiled, “You couldn't find a more independent and brave woman. I see a lot of her in you. You even look a lot like her,” her eyes glistened slightly as she patted Adhara’s head fondly
Adhara suddenly felt lighter. Her Grandma had been in Gryffindor too. She wasn't a misfit. Rigel had been wrong about her.

“Mum,” she started tentatively, “will Daddy ever talk to me again?”

“Of course he will! Don't be silly Adhara,” she chided, “he just needs some time.” But Adhara could hear the uncertainty in her mother’s voice even as she tried to hide it. Her mother paused at the door and turned to her. “Adhara, don't be like me. Don't be afraid to stand up for yourself. To anyone. Trust your conscience, and nothing else.”

Adhara caught look of regret and helplessness on her mother’s face for a brief moment, just before she exited.


Lily was lying on her stomach on the freshly mown grass. She loved Hogwarts, but it was always good to be home. She relished the feeling of doing absolutely nothing. No classes, no homeworks to worry about. She missed magic, but life felt slightly simpler just doing muggle things. She felt she had the best of both worlds. Her legs bent at the knees were crossed at the ankles and her cheek was propped up against her left hand. She had the newspaper open in front of her, trying to do the kids crossword that was right below the adult crossword. She didn’t understand half the muggle words and references now, having been so accustomed to magic. Nevertheless, just looking at the familiar layout reminded her that she was back home, that thought spreading a feeling of warmth over her chest. She glanced back at the clue she was working on and sighed. She would never be able to figure it out. Abandoning all pretext of doing the crossword, Lily’s eyes scanned the rest of the page. A small box to the left caught her eye.

Unidentified Body Disappears from Morgue, Police Mystified
It has been a week since an unidentified body was uncovered near Pegworth. Reports claim that it belonged to a male in his early forties. Autopsy reports were inconclusive and cause of death is unknown. Efforts to find the family have proved futile. Yesterday morning, in a mysterious circumstance, the body disappeared from the morgue. The morgue officials claim there was no paperwork indicating a transfer or discharge. The Pegworth police are flummoxed beyond means, this being the last knot in the string of baffling circumstances surrounding the body.


Lily thought it was strange that someone would want to steal a body.

“Lily! Could you come in for a moment?” her mother’s voice called from inside the house, cutting into her reverie.

“Coming mother!” she called back, rolling on to her side and getting up, folding the newspaper to the entertainment section that she knew her mother would want to read next.


September 1st, 1972

Dearest Sirius,

A lot has happened since we met for Christmas. I told you then that I was struggling with the family ideals, same as you. I didn’t elaborate at the time, but in light of recent events I owe you an explanation.

The family has disowned me because I expressed a wish to marry a muggle born. I’ve been seeing Ted Tonks for two years now, and he asked me to marry him sometime back. I had been wondering how to break it to the family, but seeing how they reacted to your sorting, I was sure they wouldn’t accept him. It was a long dinner when I sat down to tell them. I think Bella was more enraged than my father. I tried to reason with them, but they’re too set in their ways. I had no choice but to leave home. We married in a small ceremony last month, just his family and a few friends. I wish you could have come, but there was no way of getting a message through to you in the midst of all the confusion. You would really like Ted, I’m sure. We are staying at his parents’ now, but we will move out once we find a place of our own.

I’ve started searching for a job. It is quite hard because most of my contacts are of the Black family network who have shunned me, and the few who haven’t are scared of my father. Uncle Alphard says he can put in a good word for me in a few places, but they will be much lower on the pay scale since I need to stay off the grid for a while. Still, I really hope it works out. I’ve been forbidden by your mother from talking to you and Reg and I wouldn’t want to get you into trouble, but I would love to have you both visit us when we get our own place.

These last months have taught me a lot, and I want to share it with you. It is not easy to stand up to our family. But listen to your gut. If you believe you are right, then stick with it. Don’t be afraid like Uncle Alphard. The liberation you feel when you finally break free of the shackles that their thoughts and ideas are binding you in, makes everything worth it. I know Aunt Walburga can be difficult. I saw how she treated you at Christmas. But hang in there, Sirius. You did right by not taking it lying down, and I’m so proud of you. If I had had half the courage you do, I’d have come out about Ted sooner. I guess that’s why you’re the Gryffindor, not me. You have nothing to be afraid of. Besides, you’re not alone. I will always be here for you. Take care of yourself, and of Regulus. He’s starting Hogwarts next month isn’t he? Wish him luck from me.

Lots of Love,

Andromeda Tonks


Sirius recalled the letter mentally as he trudged along Platform 9 ¾ , away from his mother, pushing his trolley. It was heavier than last year, with two extra trunks for Regulus. He had managed to sneak a reply to Andromeda but hadn’t heard back yet. His mother was busy fussing over Regulus, insisting that he get into Slytherin. She wasn’t the fussing kind, it was all a show for Narcissa’s parents. Sirius rolled his eyes, disgusted with the extent to which his mother would stoop to create an impression - a false one thereof. She shot him a nasty look over the top of Regulus’ head. Sirius glared back defiantly. He didn’t care anymore. Not after the way she had treated him over the summer. He looked at the red Hogwart’s Express with anticipation, eyes darting around for signs of his friends.

“Sirius?” Regulus had come up to him. He turned to look at his brother, smaller and thinner than he was, grey eyes looking up hesitantly at him.

“What?” Sirius snapped. He had been snapping a lot at everyone lately.

Regulus’ blinked. “Dad told me to give you this,” he replied, holding out a small pouch, clearly containing money.

“I suppose he told you not to tell Mum?” Sirius asked, raising his eyebrows scornfully.

“I didn’t ask her to treat you like this, you know. You’ve been taking it out on me all summer,” Regulus pointed out, frowning lightly. Sirius felt a little guilty, and softened a little as he looked at his brother’s face. “Mum doesn’t hate you, Sirius,” Regulus continued placatingly.

“I don’t care about that woman,” Sirius replied vehemently, his earlier irritation coming back in full.

“Don’t say that!” Regulus exclaimed, shocked. “You don’t know how upset she was. You didn’t see her when she got Cissy’s letter,” he continued, looking up earnestly at Sirius who had turned away from him.

“I do know,” he rounded angrily on Regulus, who backed away a little, “She came to my school and embarrassed me!”

“Your sorting was a shock to everyone. Mum took it really hard,” Regulus pleaded, “If you could just-”

“Just what?” Sirius spat, “Just grovel? Just beg for forgiveness? Why should I? What did I do wrong?” he demanded. Regulus looked like he clearly regretting having said anything. “Did you know about Andromeda?” Sirius asked suddenly, looking at Regulus skeptically. Regulus shuffled his feet, not meeting Sirius’ eye. “You knew!” Sirius surmised, fuming, “you knew when it happened in February, and you didn’t tell me even when I came home for the summer?”

“Mum said no one was to talk about her anymore,” he whispered guiltily.

Sirius laughed humorlessly, “Of course she did! And you’re momma’s little boy, aren’t you?” he sneered, giving Regulus a scathing look and walking away. Regulus stood forlorn, looking too small for his age, staring helplessly after Sirius.


“Your father and I are proud of your grades last year. Study well this year too,” Mrs. Potter said, hugging James.

“Okay mum,” James broke free impatiently, as she started to run her fingers through his untidy hair, trying to straighten it. He caught sight of Remus and Sirius standing a few feet away, sniggering at him. “I’ll be off then,” he muttered, pulling his head away from her hand, red in face. Mr. Potter looked amused as he circled his arm around James’ shoulder for a hug.

“Listen,” he said urgently, dropping his voice and bending down near James’ ear. James glanced at his mother and saw that she was busy talking to Mrs. Patil and wasn’t paying attention to them. “This has belonged in our family for generations-” James had a small package thrust into his hands. “- and I feel you have more use for it than I do now,” he straightened up winking at his son. James looked at that package guessing full well what was inside. His eyes shone round through his glasses. He opened his mouth to thank his father but Mr. Potter shook his head as if to say ‘not in front of your mother’. Beaming delightedly, James shoved it into his pocket, said a hurried goodbye to his parents and marched excitedly to where Remus and Sirius had recently been joined by Peter.

“Did ickle jamesie-poo need his mommy to comb his hair?” Sirius smirked as he reached them.

“Shut up,” James muttered as the three of them chuckled.

“Let’s find a compartment,” suggested Remus, drawing their attention to the many students already seated inside the train. “Is that your brother?” he enquired to Sirius. James followed his gaze to a small black-haired boy, looking strikingly like Sirius, with a different nose and thinner face. He was looking around nervously.

“Yeah,” replied Sirius coldly, “Let’s go,” he called to them impatiently.

“He looks lost,” Remus observed, moving forward, “maybe you should ask him to sit with us?”

“Oh no!” Sirius said, his voice dripping with scorn, “His mommy might not like that.”.

“He’s just a child, and he’s so alone,” insisted Remus, feeling sorry for Regulus, who was now looking at Sirius hopefully. Sirius sighed, relenting at the sight of his little brother standing by himself. James reckoned Sirius was about to call him over when he was joined by the Slytherin Prefect, Lucius Malfoy.

“There,” Sirius replied bitterly as Regulus walked away with Lucius, “Problem solved. Can we go now?” he said in mock politeness.

James noticed that Regulus kept glancing at Sirius, who had his nose in the air, determinedly not looking in his direction. James felt something press into his stomach as he climbed the train. Caught up with wondering about Sirius and Regulus, he had completely forgotten about his dad’s present.

“Sirius,” he whispered, pulling him back slightly, letting Remus and Peter walk ahead. “Come with me, I’ve got to show you something.”
Sirius followed James into an empty compartment. James hurriedly tore away the wrapping and was looking at it with a mixture of pride and reverence.

“Merlin’s Shit!” Sirius swore, his eyes bulging out, “That’s an-”

“Invisibility cloak!” James completed, grinning. “One of the finest and oldest ones there is. Been in my family for generations,” he said proudly, “now, it’s mine.”

“Merlin’s shit!” Sirius repeated, his eyes still wide. His face broke into a wide grin, “This year is going to be awesome!” he exclaimed as James stuffed it back into his pocket, and they walked down the train to join Remus and Peter.


Snape’s lips twitched as he saw Sirius and James walk past his compartment. Lily Evans, sitting across from him, was waving to her parents and hadn’t noticed them.

“What’s wrong?” Lily asked bemused, looking at him.

“Nothing,” he said, straightening his face hastily. He didn’t want to rekindle the argument they had had over the summer. He opened his mouth to ask her about homework but was interrupted by the arrival of Marlene.

“Lily!” she squealed, jogging over to hug her. A little crease formed between his eyebrows as he saw them exchange news excitedly. He had enjoyed spending time alone with her all summer and wasn’t overjoyed at the prospect of having to share her once they returned to school.

“Hello Snape,” Marlene addressed him uncertainly. He muttered a greeting and looked down at his knees. He cringed mentally at the sight of his dirty jeans and frayed shirt. No wonder Marlene was looking at him like that. He excused himself and hurried down the train to change into his school uniforms, swinging his arms awkwardly to hide the frayed hem of his shirt. As he returned, he heard someone call out his name. He whipped around, his hand reaching automatically for his wand, expecting to see that big-head James Potter or pea-brain Sirius Black.

“Whoa, Severus! What’s got you all riled up?” Snape’s hooked nose was level with the broad chest of Lucius Malfoy. To Malfoy’s right stood a lanky boy with curly brown hair and narrow eyes, whose voice had spoken earlier. He recognized him as Ralph Avery, his classmate.

“Why don’t you come and join us in the Slytherin compartment?” Lucius invited, raising his eyebrows as if daring him to refuse. Snape looked down the corridor fervently. “Is there anywhere else you need to be?” Lucius inquired, his eyes narrowing slightly, his tone dangerously polite. Snape looked between him and Avery and made up his mind.

“No,” he replied. Lucius smirked approvingly, leading the way into the compartment. Snape entered behind Lucius and saw that it was almost full. He recognized a number of faces which he had been accustomed to seeing in his common room. There was Albert Wilkes, Evan Rosier and Aubrey Blishwick from his class. He recognized their fourth year Beater Rigel Selwyn, a burly third year whose last name he knew to be Mulciber, pea-brain’s cousin Narcissa Black and... Pea-Brain? Snape did a double take for a fleeting moment before he realized that the boy sitting next to Narcissa was shorter, smaller and had more angular features than Sirius Black. He took the empty space next to Evan Rosier.

“So tell me,” started Lucius in his silky voice, looking at Snape up and down with his cold grey eyes. Snape hunched his shoulders as if it would help him disappear. “Severus Snape,” he said slowly as if wanting to see how the name rolled off his tongue. “Avery here tells me you enjoy the company of mudbloods?” his eyebrows raised slightly.

Snape looked at his feet awkwardly. He knew Avery and Wilkes disapproved of his friendship with Lily. But how could they understand how she made him feel? She was not like the muggles. All eyes in the compartment were on Snape and he was glad he had at least changed out of his horrible muggle clothes.

“Are you uncomfortable here? Would you rather join the mudblood and the rest of the … Gryffindors?” Lucius said, his eyes never leaving Snape’s face.

“No,” Snape’s lip curled at the thought of James and Sirius, while his heart sank simultaneously wondering if they had occupied the same compartment as Lily. Lucius looked at him approvingly, satisfied with his reaction.

“You’re father is a muggle, isn’t he?” prodded Lucius, enjoying making Snape squirm.

“He is no father of mine,” Snape spat viciously.

“Down boy,” Lucius said placatingly as the group, with the exception of pea-brain’s doppelganger (who looked closest to as uncomfortable as Snape felt), tittered humorously. Lucius’ steely gaze bore into Snape for a few moments before he moved on to interrogating his classmate Aubrey Blishwik, a thin long-faced girl with golden brown curls and eyes set too close to her long nose.


The Great Hall was abuzz with the students exchanging news and pleasantries. The Sorting Hat launched into it's latest song, bringing about a hush over them. They listened intently, as the Hat warned them about rising dangers in the world outside. Nearly Headless Nick was nodding vociferously in agreement to the Hat’s warnings, causing his head to wobble in a way that amused Peter and James immensely. Sirius was distracted by the sight of Regulus, nervously standing in line with the first years to be sorted. A polite applause marked the commencement of the sorting. Regulus Black was the fifth to have the hat placed upon his head.

“SLYTHERIN!”

“Of course he’s Slytherin,” Sirius muttered, rolling his eyes as Regulus made his way to the Slytherin Table. James noticed a flicker of disappointment cross Sirius’ eyes.

“Why are you so mad at your brother?” James asked conversationally, applauding as Cresswell, Dirk joined the Gryffindor table.

“Because he’s such a momma’s little boy,” Sirius remarked, sneeringly. There was something in his tone that stopped James from asking for further explanation. Sirius hardly ever talked about his family, and when he did it was always a casual sarcastic remark, which invariably made the group uncomfortable. He had prodded tactlessly a couple of times but Remus had been there to save the conversation. James had always had the impression that Sirius was slightly fond of his brother and couldn’t understand where the sudden hostility emerged from. For that matter James couldn’t understand how people could not like their parents. His own parents were amazing. He grinned as he thought of his father’s gift, hidden carefully in his trunk, waiting for him upstairs. A whole new world of possibilities unfolded along with the cloak.


Author's Note:
So I promised myself I wouldn't beg for reviews, but I'm five chapters down and I really would love to know that my readers want me to continue. What is it that you like? Dislike? Is there someone you want to see more of?


Love you NB, HB and AB (formerly LilyJamesPotter.) Without you, this fic wouldn't exist. Dedicated to you guys!


Chapter 6: 2nd Year - Quidditch and Queer Things
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September 2nd 1972

Lily was munching down her breakfast, delighted to be back at Hogwarts. The long journey and scrumptious feast that followed had put her into a satisfying slumber. Marlene was describing the adventures of her house cat and garden gnome to an amused Sirius and Peter. To her left James Potter was seated, engaged in a serious debate with Remus Lupin.

“I’m telling you, it doesn’t mean anything!” James was saying.

“How could you say that? I mean, it’s obviously the work of this radical group-” Remus started indignantly. Lily’s curiosity was aroused and she leaned in to listen.

“But he’s pure-blood!” said James impatiently.

“He’s an auror!” replied Remus with the same impatience.

“What’s an auror?” asked Lily curiously, unable to help herself.

“Dark Wizard catchers,” explained Remus, “They‘re the most highly trained group of wizards specializing mostly in Defense Against the Dark Arts.”

“Are you talking about Orestes Meadowes?” joined in Marlene.

“Meadowes?” asked Mary sharply, “Like Dorcas?”

Marlene’s expression sobered immediately. “You haven't heard?” Lily and Mary shook her head. Marlene lowered her voice, “Her father was killed over the Summer-” Mary drew in a sharp breath. Marlene continued, “In a muggle locality that too. Gave the ministry quite a bit of trouble in covering it up.”

“But who killed him?” Mary asked, her eyes wide. Lily looked around and noticed that Dorcas was missing from the Gryffindor table. She recalled that Dorcas had been quite subdued at the feast as well.

“Allies of You-Know-Who,” Remus said darkly. James snorted disbelievingly.

“No, I don’t know who,” said Lily, perplexed and rather annoyed at knowing less that everybody else.

Remus frowned at James, who was shaking his head haughtily in disagreement, and continued, “Nobody knows who he is. Those who have seen him are either dead, or his most loyal allies who would rather die than give him up. They say he’s the mastermind behind this anti-muggleborn political propaganda.”

“What do they have against muggleborns?” asked Lily indignantly.

“It’s an old prejudice. Wizards are very protective of their magic, and they believe strongly that it should only be within all-magic families. Muggleborns and wizard-muggle marriages are looked down upon,” said Marlene. Lily suddenly remembered that Severus voiced similar views over the summer, justifying that it was to protect the International Statute of Secrecy.

“But what does this have to do with Dorcas’ father?” asked Mary, perplexed.

“Nothing!” James declared vehemently.

“Everything!” Sirius spoke up for the first time. Remus looked triumphantly at James who was regarding Sirius with surprise. “My cousin Bellatrix didn’t lose any time in celebrating his death,” he said with bitter detachment.

“What?” Lily was astonished.

“Yeah,” his face twisted scornfully, “Made for such pleasant dinner conversation. My family supports this cause,” he explained to a bemused audience. “Orestes Meadowes is one of the Purebloods who are vocal against these ideas. And he was found dead just days after he imprisoned Gregory Burke for using Dark Magic and torturing a muggle family,” he added looking at James. A look of comprehension dawned on James’ face.

“Why doesn’t the ministry catch them then?” Mary frowned, puzzled. Marlene’’s eyes grew wide and she stared at Mary in disbelief.

“It’s not so simple,” Sirius scoffed, “It’s like Remus said. Nobody knows who they are.”

“The ones who are pushing for anti-muggle laws are just activists, and they are well within their rights. It’s the extremists who are responsible for these gory acts,” Marlene explained.

“They’ve started using Dark Magic more brazenly these days,” piped Remus. “I heard my dad telling someone that some of them have enchanted dead bodies to terrorize people.”

Lily felt sick, and judging by the revolted looks on James, Sirius, Mary and Marlene, so did they.

“I don’t think they’re flying under the radar so much these days,” Marlene supposed, with a frown, “I mean, Meadowes was killed in a muggle locality - Pegworth I think. He was found by the local law-keeper men. The Ministry officials had to do emergency damage control to retrieve his body.” Marlene said. Something stirred in Lily’s mind.

“Do we know who these extremists are?” Mary asked.

“Not for sure, but I can tell you certainly that the occupants of the Slytherin table would have the greatest intel on that,” commented Sirius, the corner of his mouth twitched in disgust.

Lily turned back to look at the Slytherins where Severus was seated, next to Rosier and a burly senior she didn’t know. Lily was uncommonly silent as they made their way to their classes. With a start she remembered why the word Pegworth sounded so familiar.




November, 1972

“Oye, Potter!” Nelson Redford, the seventh year quidditch captain called out to him as he lazed in the lawn with his friends during a particularly long lunch hour.  

“Hey, Redford. How’s it going?” he drawled, sunlight glinting off his glasses.

“Good mate. Listen, I’ve been wanting to tell you for a week, but got caught up with NEWTs work this past month. Anyway, Jones, Harper and Kipper have graduated, so we’re a few players down on the team. Tryouts are next Wednesday. I’m putting your name down,” he said heartily, slapping James enthusiastically on the shoulder. James eyes shone in delight as he assured his attendance.

“Two Chasers, one Keeper,” said Peter, counting off on his fingers as Nelson walked away. “Which position are you going to try out for, James?” he asked.

“I fancy being a Chaser. There's much more action down the field than just wielding around a club,” he replied. “Hey Sirius, why don’t you try out for Beater? Maybe work off some of that obviously not-so-hidden anger,” James smirked as Peter sniggered loudly.

“Git!” Sirius replied, slapping Peter on the back of his head. “Let’s see,” he said to James noncommittally.

“Remus, what about you?” Peter turned to ask.

Remus, who had been silent until then, looked dispirited. “I can’t,” he replied, sounding disappointed, “I am going to visit my mum at that time.”

“But that’s right in the middle of the week,” Sirius pointed out, confused. “Can’t it wait till the weekend?”

Remus was looking highly uncomfortable. “N-No...I’m afraid not. You see, Dad is going someplace for work, and he needs me to stay at home with Mum,” he rushed. James thought he looked a little pale and stricken. Remus then muttered something about leaving his books in the common room and hurried into the castle.

Sirius frowned slightly at the departing Remus. “Listen, how often does he visit his Mum?” he asked.

“I guess about once a month,” replied Peter absently, lying back on the grass. James looked sharply at Sirius, who was still looking thoughtfully after Remus.

“What’s wrong?” he asked, when Sirius didn’t say anything.

“This is the second time he’s had to go home in the middle of the week, and we are just three months into this year,” Sirius pointed out.

“So?” Peter asked, not understanding.

“So, why can’t it wait till Friday?” Sirius wondered, raising his eyebrows. James caught his gaze and realized with a slight frown that the same thing had happened a few times the previous year as well.

“Like he said, his Dad had to work,” Peter replied, oblivious to the befuddlement that had set in the two of them. James and Sirius continued to look at each other skeptically.




Professor Binns had the most powerfully sedative voice. As he droned on about International Warlock Convention of the thirteenth century, most of the class was almost flat on their desks. Peter was drooling on his parchment. A select few (mostly Ravenclaw) were devotedly taking down what he was saying.

“Oye Lupin!” James whispered loudly next to Remus’ ear, causing him to jump and drop his quill.

“Don’t tell me you’re actually interested in what Professor Snuffed-it has to say,” drawled Sirius.

“Of course not,” Remus shot back in a whisper, rolling his eyes. “But I don’t intend to fail my finals.”

“We can always read from the books then,” James dismissed, “Hand me that,” he demanded, plucking the quill that Remus had just retrieved from the floor. James leaned over stretching his arm with the quill. Adhara, sitting behind Sirius and James, knew what was coming and suppressed a smile. A few more people seated around them had  either abandoned their attempts to listen or merely intrigued, were watching with interest. Sirius raised his finger to his lips, indicating the onlookers to be quiet, silently sniggering.  James reached out across the aisle to where Marlene was sleeping face down, her forehead resting on her forearm. Lily’s eyes widened as she realized what James was about to do. She glanced at Marlene sleeping blissfully next to her. Remus, grinning, caught her eye and frantically signalled her to stay quiet. Adhara watched on as James reached out further and -

“AAAARGHHHH!”

Marlene shrieked, shooting upright, her hand vigorously slapping away at her left ear. Peter jerked up with a sound resembling a vacuum suction. A couple of parchments went flying. Professor Binns jumped startled, the notes in his hands flying in the air and his glasses almost slipping down his nose. Lily’s head was bent low, her shoulders shaking in silent peals of laughter. The rest of the class who hadn't witnessed it then had caught on and were beginning to laugh as well. Marlene glowered at James, but grinned grudgingly as the humor in the situation crept up to her.

Professor Binns, who had now caught up to which century he was in, glared in the direction of Gryffindors, which was the heart of commotion. “You! The one who screamed!” he wheezed, pointing an angry finger at Marlene, “you will submit an essay on Middle Eastern views on International Warlock Convention of 1259. Four and a half feet.” Professor Binns looked more alive than any of them had seen him. Marlene looked thoroughly indignant and opened her mouth to protest at the unfair punishment. But Binns had gone back to his lecture suddenly as if nothing had happened.

Around twenty minutes later, the class was dismissed.

“Sirius,” Adhara called out as the class dispersed, “Can we talk for a minute?”

Remus and Peter looked intrigued as Sirius nodded, walking away from them. James looked between Sirius and Adhara slightly offended. She ignored him as Sirius motioned them to carry on.

“Sirius,” started Adhara when she was sure the others were well out of earshot, “How are things with your Mum?”

“Fine,” he replied curtly. Adhara turned slightly red. “How are things with your brother?” he asked, his voice slightly softer.

“Great,” she laughed bitterly. They shared a wry smirk, the awkwardness in the air dissipating a little.

“Is he still asking you to prove your loyalties?” Sirius enquired disdainfully.

“Not after I kicked him in the shins over the holidays,” she replied.

“Wish I could do that to Mum,” Sirius commented resentfully.

“My Mum told me how she spoke about you at your Dad’s birthday dinner last month,” she said, watching his reaction.

“Is this what we do now?” Sirius asked sarcastically, “talk about how our families treat us for breaking convention?”

Adhara was taken aback at his tone. “No… I was just…”

“Listen Adhara,” Sirius cut in, “I already told you last year. Our situations maybe the same, but we are not. I don’t care what my family thinks of one bloody sorting. They have to get their heads out of their hats. We don’t have to do or prove anything.”

“I’m not… I was not -”

“I don’t want to talk about this,” he said with a tone of finality, “Is there anything else you have to say?”

Adhara looked at his hard face for a moment. What she didn’t see was a flicker of pain that was being squashed by anger, bitterness and denial. She only saw him blowing her off.

“I just wanted to ask how you were dealing with things, since I did a horrible job of it last year. But you’ve made it pretty clear you don’t want to be friends. It’s fine by me,” she finished coldly and walked away.




James Potter relished the feel of chilly November breeze throwing itself at his  face and running it’s swift fingers through his hair. He inhaled the intoxicating smell of damp ground and moist grass, grinning around at the turnout. It had been five years since this many spots were open at the same time on the Gryffindor Quidditch Team, and almost the whole house had turned up to watch the tryouts. Professor McGonagall, in a rare moment of leniency that one could see only when it came to Quidditch, had given up her afternoon classes, so that students could conduct tryouts without interference from other houses. The large turnout didn’t seem to bother James in the least. He had never had a problem with nerves. He waved energetically at Sirius and Peter sitting on the benches. He saw the remaining older players sitting around in a group at one end of the field.

“Potter! Over here!” James turned to see Nelson Redford beckoning to him. He was surrounded by a few people who James guessed were also going to be trying out alongside him. Marlene was  already with them. James jogged up to that group, his heart racing in anticipation.

“Do you have a broom yet?” Nelson asked as James approached him.

“Not yet. But my Dad got on to the waitlist for the new Nimbus 1500. It’s bound to arrive anytime next week,” he said grinning as the others raised their eyebrows in awe.

“Today you can borrow Prewett’s Cleansweep Five for the tryouts,” Nelson offered, “You’re trying out for Chaser right?” James nodded. The existing team members had come to join their group, each one appraising the candidates mentally. Beaters Gideon Prewett and Owen Weasley gave him an encouraging nod of recognition which James returned with a grin.

“Has everyone who is trying out arrived?” Nelson called out, looking at the faces and referring to a parchment in his hand.

“Hey, I’m here,” a female voice panted next to James..

“And you are?” Nelson referred to his parchment again.

“Selwyn… Adhara Selwyn,” she wheezed. Marlene’s eyebrows shot up and James whipped around in surprise to see her catching her breath from running. She was the last person he had expected to show Gryffindor loyalty.

“You haven’t signed your name up for tryouts,” Nelson accused, frowning.

“I just decided to try out now,” she said, pulling her wavy hair into a knot at the back of her head.

He appraised her for a second, as if debating whether to let her try or not. “Alright then,” he said eventually, squaring his shoulders and proceeded to give them instructions. James listened intently, unusually focussed. He remained silent as they broke up and walked to the middle of the field.

“What about Lupin?” Nelson cut into his thoughts, glancing towards the stands, “Madam Hooch said he’s one of the better fliers in your class. Why hasn’t he given his name?”

“He went home yesterday. An emergency,” explained James.

“Oh I hope he feels better.” a voice said from James’ left. He turned to see Alice Rivers, a round-faced fifth year Gryffindor Prefect. She was their seeker, petite build and nimble on the broom. Before he could open his mouth to correct her, she continued. “Must be his recent Plasmovax bite.”

“His what?” James asked, startled.

“Didn’t you know?” she asked, mildly surprised, “I ran into him last month in the Hospital Wing. He was looking so weak and tired. He told me that he had been bitten by a Plasmovax.”

James was surprised at that piece of information. He couldn’t remember Remus mentioning a Plasmovax bite or being in the Hospital Wing last month. He would certainly have known about it. They spent all their time together.

“When was this?” he asked. Alice was slightly taken aback at his alacrity.

“Around the 12th I think,” she replied, looking at him funnily. James frowned slightly wondering why Remus hadn’t told them about it. It wasn’t a big deal, just a common Plasmovax bite. James’ deliberations were cut short as his wits were called about him. He pushed away those puzzling thoughts from his mind and directed his attention to the tryouts. It didn’t seem all that difficult to do the moment he kicked off the ground. When his feet left the ground, he abandoned every other thought and took with him just one thing - Quidditch.




The tryouts couldn’t have more tough. It had taken longer than usual as two rounds were held in order to narrow down from the many deserving candidates who had turned up. The final shortlist had consisted of James, Marlene, Adhara, a tall black girl Violetta Jorkins, a fifth year Samuel Towers. James was nervous for the first time in his life as the team members discussed in a huddle. He was mentally going through his performance, wondering if he had flown better or worse than the others. After a long huddle, the team finally came out with their decision. James Potter and Adhara Selwyn for Chasers and Violetta Jorkins for Keeper. James beamed, elated as people patted his back and offered hearty congratulations.

“Sorry you didn’t get selected, Marlene,” he said when she wished him luck.

“Oh no! You flew much better than me,” she said sincerely, wringing his hand with a dimpled smile and turning to join her friends.

“Congratulations!” Peter said enthusiastically, jogging towards him. “You out flew everyone. I had no doubt you’d snag a spot.” James looked pleased, drawing himself a little taller.

“Your hair looks ridiculous,” Sirius commented smirking, strolling over to him with his hands in his pockets, a few paces behind Peter.

“Your face looks weird,” James shot back, raising his hand to smoothen his hair which had become messed up while flying. Sirius grinned. As they walked up to the castle, Peter kept up a flow of words, comparing the other players to James and how none of them stood a chance once he had taken off.

“Give it a rest Peter,” Sirius said finally. James didn’t seem to mind the attention so much. He himself was busy reliving the tryouts in his head. Peter went red in the face but kept silent after that. James caught sight of a spider scurrying down the bannister and suddenly remembered something.

“Hey, did Remus ever mention getting bitten by a Plasmovax?” he asked.

“No,” Sirius replied as Peter shook his head, “Why?”

“He was apparently seen at the Hospital Wing getting treated for it last month,” James explained.

“When?” Sirius asked immediately.

“The 12th,” James replied, raising his eyebrows.

“But he was visiting his mum on the 11th and 12th,” spoke up Peter, “I remember because I was asked to rewrite my essay for McGonagall at the time.” Sirius’ face mirrored James’ bemused expression.

“Why would he lie to us?” James wondered out loud.

“Maybe he came back early on the 12th and got treated for the bite?” suggested Peter. This time James wasn’t so easily convinced. There was something fishy about Remus.




Back in the common room -

Not many people had congratulated Adhara on becoming Chaser. She was either unknown or unpopular among the Gryffindors. Her last-minute entrance was avidly conferred about among bemused spectators with many a raised eyebrow. She knew that the rustle of whispers going around as she crossed them were about her. She didn’t care that no one except Marlene came up to congratulate her. She wasn’t doing this for popularity or glory.

“Adhara.”

She turned to face Sirius, eyeing him coldly.

“Good job on making the team,” he said. Adhara felt her anger reduce a little at his conciliatory tone.

“Thanks,” she said stiffly, folding her arms across her chest.

“What brought about this sudden House loyalty in you?” he asked, smirking a little.

“It hasn’t anything to do with you, if that’s what you’re thinking,” she replied, put off slightly by his expression.

“Gryffindor versus Slytherin,” he said, eyebrows raised.

“What?” Adhara blinked, unnerved by the all-too-knowing expression in his eyes.

“First game of this season.” His smirk widened, “Gryffindor versus Slytherin. Selwyn versus Selwyn.”

“That’s right. You were wrong before, Sirius,” Adhara raised her chin defiantly, her hair falling forward to hide her forehead. “We do have something to prove. Watch me prove it.”




James lay awake that night, disturbed. He was still pondering over Remus. Something was not right about that situation. He could sense that Sirius shared his suspicions as well. What was going on with Remus? Was his mother really sick? If so, what was he doing in the Hospital Wing? Why would he not tell them he had come back? It struck James very odd that Remus had special permission to visit home every month. Maybe he wasn’t visiting his mother. Maybe he was ill and taking treatment. But why lie about it? Unless he was ashamed. But ashamed of what? James tossed and turned, trying to piece all the facts together. He kicked his pillow restlessly with his leg. His toe came in contact with something soft and silky. He suddenly sat upright. There was only one way to settle this.




“What do you expect to find?” Sirius whispered as he and James made their way down the corridor cautiously. The bright light of the moon made it easier for them to see where they were heading.

“I don’t know. But you agree something doesn’t make sense right?” he whispered back. Sirius, being taller, had to slightly crouch so that James’ feet were well hidden under the Invisibility Cloak.

“I’m the one who pointed it out first,” he said, indignantly.

“Do you want me to alert the Order of Merlin?” James said sarcastically.

“Yeah, and give the Minister love from me,” Sirius sniggered.

They came to a stop in front of the Hospital Wing. James pushed it open slowly so that it wouldn’t creak. A small gap was enough for both boys to slip in. They moved silently along the Wing. All beds were empty except for one, in which a 7th year Ravenclaw was sleeping soundly. James was disappointed.

“There,” whispered Sirius urgently, pointing to a bed at the far east of the wing. It was easy to miss as separators had been placed around it for privacy. James’ blood was pounding in his ears as they crept over excitedly and peered around the separators. Sure enough, Remus Lupin’s thin face came into view.

James stood transfixed for a few moments staring at the sleeping Remus, until Sirius tugged at his arm. they made their way out of the Hospital Wing. He started talking the second they reached the corridor.

“That bloody git!” Sirius whispered angrily, “He’s been pulling one over us all this time.” They hurried back to the Gryffindor Common Room, where Sirius pulled off the cloak roughly. The moonlight shone through the windows, casting light upon his face.

“I still don’t understand,” James said, flummoxed.

“What’s there not to understand? He’s been lying to us. Telling us his mother was sick, and that he had to go home, when all the while he has been right here at Hogwarts.” Sirius started pacing angrily across the common room. He stopped near the window, with his back to James, and looked out, exhaling in short, deep breaths. James was standing a few paces behind him, looking in his direction. A slight breeze caused the moon in all it’s full glory to emerge from behind a few stray clouds, flooding through the window and illuminating the common room. The same thought struck both of them at the exact same moment.

“Sirius,” James started slowly, “is today full moon?”

“No,” replied Sirius quietly. He turned to face James, comprehension dawning in his eyes. “But yesterday was.”

“And the 11th of last month?” James asked, already knowing the answer. Sirius raised his eyebrows in affirmation.

“Do you think-?”

“Could Remus be-?”

They spoke at the same time and stopped short. In the silence that followed, everything clicked into place. It was the only thing that made sense.




Lack of proper sleep coupled with the cold weather caused James and Sirius to oversleep the next day.  Peter had to literally drag their sheets away in order to wake them up.  

It was a weary eyed, yawning twosome that made their way to breakfast that morning. They had stayed up till three in the morning recounting everything they knew in light of everything they had just realized, and discussing when they should break it to Peter. Soon after breakfast they pulled Peter away from the crowd and filled him in on what they supposed was the truth. Peter’s face changed from one of curiosity to that of horror, his eyes bulging out and chubby cheeks sagging slightly as his mouth hung open.

“We’re going to talk to him now. You coming?” Sirius asked.

Peter, still in a state of shock, glanced fervently between them. His first instinct was to distance himself as much as possible from both the situation and Remus. If indeed he was a werewolf, it would be potentially dangerous to be hanging around him. But the kind face of Remus floated into his mind. Remus had always been there for him and helped him in classes. It didn’t seem fair to abandon him because of what they had discovered. Besides, James and Sirius wanted to talk to Remus first, and he might not be part of their group anymore if he protested. Gulping, he nodded his head twichily, following James as he led the way to the infirmary.




Sirius walked in first, looking around cautiously. This was generally the time Madam Pomfrey took her breakfast. If all was happening as usual, then it would be another half an hour before she returned. He signalled to the others wordlessly to follow him quietly. They reached the far end where Remus was supposed to be lying.

“Well, hello there Remus!” said James jovially, emerging from behind the separator. Remus, who was reading a book, jumped violently, causing his book to fly out of his hand and hit the jug of water kept on the bedside table.

“Fancy seeing you here!” Sirius said heartily. Peter waved at him from behind with a meek grin. Remus’ eyes widened, darting between the three of them.

“H...Hey…” he stuttered.

“Move over will you?” James pushed his leg away, sitting down by his bed. Sirius took the other side of Remus. Peter stood warily at his bedside.

“We got Exploding Snap,” said Sirius, pulling out a pack from his pocket, “We can squeeze in a quick game before Pomfrey comes back.”

“Huh? How - Er - don’t you have to get to class?“ Remus asked in bewilderment.

“Remus, pal, what kind of friends would we be if we cared about mundane things like classes when our friend was lying sick, scared and alone in the Hospital Wing,” James said, widening his eyes in mock-indignance.

“That’s right mate!” supplied Sirius, “Here, deal the cards,” he threw the deck of cards to James who caught it deftly.

“I came back last night… had a bit of fever…” Remus started to explain fervently.

“Yes we heard you got bitten by a Plasmovax last month,” dismissed Sirius.

"Tricky bugs those,” James commented lightly, dealing the cards among the four of them. Remus stared at them in fearful confusion.  

"I know what you can do,” Sirius sat up, his voice cheerful, “Cover your body with the paste of crushed dung beetles and-”

“-Hang upside down from a tree, naked,” finished James with flourish.

“On full moon,” added Sirius quietly, looking hard at Remus. The air suddenly changed as Remus blanched visibly. The dark circles under his eyes became more prominent.

“It’s true isn’t it?” Remus lifted his eyes to James’ face whose hazel eyes narrowed accusingly. In that split second he knew they had figured it out. His heart was pounding against his chest as he nodded slightly, not trusting himself to speak.  Peter’s eyes were darting between them and he seemed to be holding his breath.

“Well, what are we waiting for?” Sirius demanded. Remus looked down at his hands. He should have known it had been too good to last. They were going to desert him, and he couldn’t blame them.

“What are we waiting for?” Sirius repeated.

Remus closed his eyes, bracing himself to bear the pain of losing the only friends he had ever had. In that split second he wished he had never come to Hogwarts.

“James, mate, it’s your turn to play!”

Remus’ head snapped up. He looked on incredulously as his friends started a game of Exploding Snap around him as if nothing had happened.

“Don’t…” there was a catch in his voice. Remus cleared his throat and continued, “don’t you - er - want to… know?” he asked, almost whispering.

“Nah!” Sirius said carelessly, “You’ll tell us when you want to.”

“Besides, it doesn’t make a difference even if you don’t,” James shrugged, examining his hand of cards interestedly.

Remus opened his mouth to speak, but unable to make a sound. James and Sirius saved him the trouble by discussing their cards, apparently more interested in the game on hand.


A/N:

I need feedback folks, Reviews are oxygen!

Love my faithful readers - NB, HB, 2AB, ARK (you know who you are!). My wonderful beta Felpata Lupin, for everything that's right about this story!


Chapter 7: 2nd Year - Snowballs And Showdown
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 December brought with it a lot of snow and some Christmas cheer. It was a lazy Sunday afternoon when James and Sirius decided to pelt Peter with snowballs. Soon, it turned into a snowball fight when Remus joined them.

SPLAT!


A snowball hit an unassuming Marlene on the face causing her to splutter comically. Firing up indignantly at the laughing boys, she grabbed a handful of snow and went to join in. Lily and Mary came up to her aid and the whole thing soon turned into a good spirited game of girls versus boys. Lily was surprisingly quick and almost always found her mark. Marlene’s quidditch training came handy as she deftly dodged Sirius’ snowballs.

“Oye Selwyn!” James called out.

SPLAT!

Adhara, who had been standing a little away watching them play wistfully, got a facefull of snow. James raised his hand, aiming at Adhara once again. She was better prepared this time and ducked out of the way. Lily was caught unawares instead, and whipped around, her fistful of snow raised to pelt the offender. But Adhara beat her to it.

“I’ve got this Lily,” she said grinning at the laughing James and catching him square on the face. Lily laughed. Sirius had whipped out his wand and was charming snowballs to chase the girls around. Lily and Adhara looked at each other, grinned in silent agreement and simultaneously whipped out their wands, trying to set the snowballs back on to the boys.

“Truce!” panted Mary, after a good twenty minutes, catching her chest and taking deep breaths. Marlene, who was terrible at charms, had resorted to tackling Sirius to the ground, trying to stuff his self-satisfied face with the snow. Remus and Peter had forgotten they were on the same team and had turned on each other. James was left battling Lily and Adhara, whose combined proficiency in charms was no match for him. They shrieked with laughter as he ducked under the assault of their charmed snowballs. Everybody’s face was red as they sunk to the the ground laughing. As Lily’s eyes caught Adhara’s, something unspoken passed between them and they grinned at each other. Any lingering tension that might have been there between Adhara and the other Gryffindors had suddenly vanished in light of the game. They were all feeling particularly friendly towards each other just then.

“Serves that nutter Dearborn right, sticking up for filthy muggles...”

The air, which had been filled with their squeals for the past half hour, was now silent and the voices of Slytherins who were walking nearby carried over clearly. The Gryffindors all turned to see Avery, Rosier, Snape and Mulciber drawing closer, unaware of their audience.

“...should have taken his mudblood child as well…” Mulciber’s nasty voice was saying.  Lily felt James stiffen next to her. They were almost beside the Gryffindors now.“...should have offed him like that Meadows bastard.”

“Something smells like filth,” snickered Rosier, glancing at the Gryffindors.

“Must be the blood traitors and the mudbloods,” Avery commented. The Slytherins snickered.

Marlene, Remus and James rose up angrily. Lily’s eyes sought Severus. There was something odd about his expression. His eyes were hard when they met hers briefly before looking away.

Mulciber was eyeing the Gryffindors with scorn and contempt. “You got a problem?” he sneered intimidatingly, challenging them to back down.

James took one step forward, raising his chin to meet him square in the eyes. Lily had to admire his nerve, for Mulciber was older, stockier and had a dangerous glint in his eyes.

“Yeah,” James said lightly. He sniffed comically as if smelling for something and said, “That filthy smell you were talking about? Seems concentrated in this area,” he said mildly, gesturing the Slytherins.

“You little-” Mulciber snarled, reaching for his wand. Sirius was quicker than him.

Expelliarmus.”

Mulciber’s wand flew out of his fingertips where Lily’s hand reached out automatically to catch it.

“Keep it,” he snarled, his lip curling, “I don’t want a wand that’s been dirtied by a Mudblood.”

Marlene, Remus and Peter gasped. Adhara looked furious. Sirius’ eyebrows went high up on his forehead. Mary frowned. Lily didn’t know what the word meant, but it was clear from his tone and the other’s reactions that it had been an insult. She opened her mouth to retort hotly, but before she could -

SMACK!

James’ fist had come in contact with Mulciber’s nose.

Several things happened at once here. Avery pointed his wand at James. Marlene and Remus raised their wands towards Avery simultaneously. Remus, being quicker, directed a leg-locker curse at Avery, causing him to slip and fall down. Rosier hit Marlene with a spell that made her bleed from the nose. Lily retaliated in a split second by disarming Rosier.

Mulciber had come around, with blood trickling down his throbbing nose and advanced towards James. James raised his wand at Mulciber, but before he could speak, Lily heard Severus’ voice, contrite in anger, utter a curse and saw James being lifted off his feet and land painfully a few paces behind. Snape advanced a few steps towards James, his wand ready to hurl another curse when Lily blocked him.

“Move away,” Snape snarled. Lily was taken aback at the tone. He had never spoken to her like that before. Snape tried to sidestep but she caught hold of his hand roughly.

“I can’t believe you,” she said in a dangerously low voice, her eyes flashing. He snatched his hand away from her, not meeting her eyes. For a second his hand convulsed around his wand, his eyes fixed on James who was scrambling to his feet. “You hit him from behind,” she shouted angrily. “That was DIRTY and COWARDLY!” she yelled.

Everybody had stopped to look at them. Even Mulciber had momentarily forgotten that he had wanted to beat up James Potter. Severus’ face was unreadable, but his beady eyes darkened.

Rosier had regained possession of his wand and came up next to Snape, pointing it at Lily. “If you don’t hex her, I will,” he snarled. Lily pocketed her wand, folded her arms defiantly and raised her eyebrows challengingly at Snape.

“What is going on here?” All heads whipped around.

Professor McGonagall’s face mirrored her incredulous voice as she surveyed the scene in front of her. Avery’s legs were glued together, making him slip on the snow every time he tried to get to his feet. Marlene’s nose was still bleeding profusely, and she was looking quite pale. Mary was bent over Marlene, trying to get her to walk into the castle. Adhara and Remus were standing in front of James, facing Mulciber, wands pointed. James was bleeding from a cut on his forehead, his glasses lopsided and snow stuck to his face and hair. Sirius and Rosier had their wands pointed at each other. Peter was standing a little away from the scene, looking nervous.

All wands lowered under McGonagall’s withering look.

“Duelling in the grounds?” she said disapprovingly. “Detention. All of you,” she said looking at the Gryffindors.

“But Professor, they started it!” Adhara protested angrily.

“And I will finish it,” McGonagall replied swiftly, silencing her with a look.  “Ms. Macdonald and Mr. Lupin, please assist Ms. McKinnon to the Hospital Wing,” she ordered. The three of them left as quickly as possible. She turned to the remaining students.

“How many times have I told you? Use your words, not your wands!” She looked glowering at the Slytherins and said, “I will be having a word with Professor Slughorn regarding your behavior. Go inside and clean up,” she ordered the students, frowning reproachfully. “I can’t believe my house students, behaving like a group of drunk goblins,” she muttered angrily, walking away after one last withering look.





“Sirius?” Sirius turned around to see Regulus approaching him in the corridor anxiously. “Sirius, are you okay?” he asked in a concerned voice.

“Why wouldn’t I be?” Sirius asked, bewildered.

“No, I heard… that you got into a fight with Mulciber and...and one of you was in the Hospital Wing...”

“Oh that. I’m good. McKinnon’s the one in the hospital wing,” he said. Regulus looked relieved. The silence that followed was awkward. It was the first time they were speaking since the sorting.

“Uhh.. I’m glad you’re okay,” Regulus said.

“So…” Sirius started, “how are things with you?”

“Good. I’m good,” he replied nodding vigorously. Sirius found himself at a loss of words. It suddenly struck him how much  he had missed his brother.

“Learnt to fly yet?” Sirius asked. He knew Regulus had been excited about flying ever since they had gone for that Quidditch World Cup when he was seven.

Regulus smiled fully and his small features lit up, “Oh yes. It was amazing! I want to try out for the team next year!”

“Tell you what,” Sirius said, feeling suddenly cheerful, “why don’t we go flying together sometime? James has a broom you can borrow,” he suggested.

Regulus beamed happily, nodding in earnest. Sirius grinned back, satisfied that things were finally getting back to normal with the two of them.





Snape was lying in wait for Lily outside Greenhouse Two. It had been two days since that snowball incident and he hadn’t been able to get her to talk to him alone. He kept going over that day in his mind. He had been alone in the courtyard, reading a library book when Potter and his friends had walked by. Potter had chucked a snowball at him while his idiot friends guffawed. He had wanted to fight them so bad, but knew he was no match for all four of them combined. He remembered gritting his teeth in anger, bowing his head down in humiliation and hating himself for his weaknesses. He remembered being joined by the Slytherins. He remembered being distracted by the sounds of Lily’s laughter that carried down the courtyard. He had looked in that direction, only to see her laughing and playing with them. He remembered feeling angry. He remembered feeling something weird and inexplicable when he saw her laughing with Potter. He remembered hating the mirth on her face, knowing that it was them who caused her to look so.

Snape snapped out of his reverie as the Hufflepuffs and Gryffindors filed out of the Greenhouse. He heard the loud, hearty voices of Potter and Black, and hid well out of sight until they passed by him. He didn’t want to encounter them right now, it was Lily he needed to get to. He saw Lily coming out, talking animatedly with her friends. Snape braced himself and walked up to her.

“Lily?” he addressed her directly. Her friends looked at him warily, but he had eyes only for her.

“What?” she asked coldly.

“Can we talk?” he asked, “alone?” he added pointedly. Lily looked stonily at him and Snape thought she would refuse.

“Okay,” she nodded and indicated her friends to walk on without her. Snape heaved a sigh of relief. “What do you want to talk about?” she demanded.

“That fight. I’m sorry you got detention,” he said.

“Are you?” she asked icily, raising her eyebrows skeptically, “because if I remember right, you were about to hex me.”

What?” Snape yelped in surprise, “Is that what you think?” he demanded. Her hostility seemed to make sense suddenly. Just a misunderstanding, he thought happily.

“You didn’t give me any chance to think otherwise,” she replied acrimoniously.

“I would never have hexed you, Lily,” he said earnestly, “it was Potter I wanted to get to...”

“Yes and you hit him when he wasn’t looking!” she said, raising her voice angrily. Her flaming red hair seemed to match her apopolepsy.  

“So?” Snape asked confused. He had thought this was about her, not Potter.

So?” she let a disbelieving snort, “It’s wrong to attack from behind. Despicable,” she said furiously.

“And what about what Potter and his friends do to me?” Snape demanded indignant, his face turning red.

“I’m not saying that’s fair. But attacking from behind is dishonorable, Sev. I wouldn’t have believed it of you,” she said sternly. She looked furious at him as she said it.

Snape was burning to retort. He didn’t understand how it was different from what they did. However, he knew from past experience that Lily’s temper was not to be tested. He didn’t want to risk losing her. So, he tried to look ashamed and said, “It was just in the spur of the moment. I thought he was going to hex Avery.”

Lily continued to look at him doubtfully.

“It was all happening so fast,” he continued insistently, “I didn’t mean to do that. You know I wouldn’t,” he said, looking beseechingly at her. She sighed, and he knew from her eyes that she had caved.

“Fine, let’s just drop this,” she said, shrugging. Snape visibly relaxed.

“Friends again?” Snape asked hesitantly.

“Always,” she replied firmly, returning his smile.

As they made their way towards the castle together, Lily suddenly remembered something.

“What is it that Mulciber called me, Sev?” she asked.

Her voice had the same child-like curiosity with which she had asked him about Azkaban and Diagon Alley.

“Mudblood,” he muttered reluctantly, looking at the ground. “It means dirty, impure blood. Refers to someone with muggle parentage.”

Impure blood?” she scoffed, “who comes up with this nonsense?” she said rolling her eyes. Snape remained silent. He looked at her sideways and saw the face of someone who didn’t truly understand the things that were second nature to their world, and the innocence tugged at his heart. Her bright hair flew as she walked, caressing her pale, unassuming cheeks, and for that moment Snape wished that the innocence would remain with her forever.





Adhara was returning from a very gruelling Quidditch practice. Off late, the Gryffindors had warmed up to her. She was no longer ‘That Selwyn Girl’. She was still sidelined at times when it came to her classmates, mostly because they had already found their niche in their first year, and Adhara was too proud to push her way in. Since the snowball fight, however, Lily and Mary seemed friendlier. She still got cold vibes from Marlene.

“Good practice Selwyn,” Alice Rivers said, catching up with her.

“Thanks,” Adhara smiled, “Think we’ll cream them?” she asked, referring to the Slytherins.

“They don’t stand a chance this year,” assured Alice. “To be honest, I was a little concerned when Redford selected you over Samuel, but I can see now that he’s made no mistake.”

“I hope I don’t let the team down,” Adhara said, betraying her nervousness.

“You won't!” she reassured, “I’ve got to rush now. Frank is going to be mad if I turn up late for another Prefect meeting. He’s pretty vexed with covering for me,” she grinned sheepishly and hurried along.

Adhara trudged along the empty passage.

“Adhara!” She knew who it was even before she turned around.

“What do you want?” she demanded icily.

Rigel advanced towards her with long strides. “I heard you were on the Gryffindor Quidditch Team,” he said once he was near her.

“Yeah,” she replied, looking at him warily.

His face broke into a wide grin. “That’s amazing!” he said heartily. Adhara looked at him with a mixture of confusion and skepticism. “You know what you have to do, don’t you?” Rigel looked at her with gleaming eyes. There was something savage about the smile on his face. She raised her eyebrows questioningly at him. “I know why you’re doing this,” he claimed knowingly, “You’re finally going to prove where your loyalties lie.”

Rigel looked appreciatively at her. She nodded slightly, without speaking and turned around.

“Hey, Adhara!” he called as she continued to walk away. “You are a true Selwyn. I’m proud of you!”

Adhara didn’t stop or respond to that, but a huge smile drew across her face as she walked on, her head held high.

*~*

Marlene was pacing up and down the dorm, agitated. She and Mary were waiting for Lily.

“We need to talk,” Marlene started when Lily entered the room, coming directly to the point. She was never one to beat around the bush.

“Okay?” Lily said, “About what?”

“Snape,” Mary replied.

“Are you two talking again?” Marlene demanded.

“I suppose so,” said Lily slowly, her brow frowned in confusion.

“I don’t think you get how horribly Mulciber insulted you,” Marlene said frowning at Lily, “That word! It’s foul, crass!”

“What does Sev have -”

“You call him your best friend, and we have seen for the past one year how much he means to you,” Mary started placatingly.

Marlene cut in irately, “If you meant as much to him, he would have stuck up for you. He wouldn’t have stood and watched James make the first move.”

“Potter was an idiot to -” Lily started hotly.

“If he hadn’t done it, I would have,” Marlene said fiercely. “Because I’m your friend,” she stressed.

“And, what he did to Potter, hexing him from behind, you yourself said that was underhand,” pointed out Mary, in her composed voice.

“Severus already feels bad. He said it was a mistake,” defended Lily.

“And you believe him?” Mary asked incredulously, “Lily, I saw his face right before he attacked Potter. It was no mistake. He was waiting for his chance-”

“Well, Potter deserves it for the way he treats Severus,” Lily cut in.

Marlene stared at her in disgust. “How could you say that? James stood up for you. He isn’t even your friend. Snape should have been the one to have your back. But he just stood there blinking like a baboon! Yet, here you are defending Snape and telling me that James deserves to be hit from the back?”

Marlene watched Lily’s expression darken at her outburst.

“I didn’t say that Snape was right in doing what he did,” replied Lily, her low angry tone strikingly in contrast to Marlene’s loud outrage.

Marlene snorted. “It sure looked like-” Mary held up a hand to silence Marlene, looking at Lily to continue.

“Snape was wrong. But Potter isn’t a saint either. Snape feels bad for what he did. He told me so himself. That’s more than what you can say for Potter,” she finished indignantly.

“I don’t for a moment believe that Snape thinks what he did was wrong,” Mary spoke up quietly, “But if you want to believe that, there’s nothing we can do about it,” she resigned.

“Let me tell you one thing,” Marlene persisted, not wanting to accept defeat so easily. “Snape is your friend and James is mine. From what happened today, I am convinced that James is one hell of a friend to have. And that’s more than what you can say for Snape,” she finished pointedly.

“You don’t know Sev like I do,” Lily replied quietly.

Marlene saw the defiant expression in Lily’s eyes and the stubborn raise of her chin. She knew they hadn’t gotten through to Lily. Mary might be satisfied with the thought that they had at least tried, but Marlene couldn’t let her friend walk around disillusioned. But she understood that Lily wasn’t going to come around to her way of thinking anytime now. She had to be content like Mary for now.  





“Hey, have you finished the Transfiguration essay?” Peter asked. The three of them were sitting in the common room. Peter had been working on his essay for the past hour. James and Sirius were playing Exploding Snap, only they had invented whole new rules and were using Chocolate Frogs as stakes.

“Nah,” replied Sirius, vigorously tapping the backs of the cards with his wand, trying to finish before James.

“I’ve written three and a quarter feet,” Peter said anxiously, “But the last few inches, I don’t know,” he bit his lip, screwing his face up as he looked at his essay.

“That’s still three and a quarter more than I have,” James said carelessly. He raised his hand in triumph as one of Sirius’ cards exploded, making a big show of adding another Chocolate Frog to his pile.

“But when are you going to write?” he asked, surprised.

“Lighten up Peter!” chuckled Sirius, “Watch me cream James in this round!”

Peter sighed, putting down his parchment and drawing the texbook closer to him. It was times like these he missed Remus. There was a loud bang from near him. Sirius let out a whistle, indicating he had won. He stretched back against the wall.

“We’ve got to get to that essay too you know,” he commented to James, glancing at Peter writing.

“We have to refer textbooks by ourselves,” complained James, “It’s such a bore doing homework without Remus around,” he said, sulking.

“Maybe we don’t have to,” mused Sirius. James sat up.

“I think, I think that Remus is a little too busy being werewolf right now,” pointed out Peter.

“Bravo Peter! Ten points to Gryffindor,” Sirius said sarcastically, rolling his eyes.

Yesterday was full moon,” said James with a grin, “Which means, right now he’s in the hospital wing.”

“And if he won’t come to the homework, let’s take the homework to him!” Sirius grinned.

“You do know we have a curfew right?” Peter said frowning, “I’m sure people are bound to notice three boys marching to the hospital wing at this time of the night.”

James and Sirius looked at each other and chuckled.

“I think it’s time Peter saw your Dad’s gift, James.”





“Does Remus know about this?” Peter asked. James, Sirius and Peter were crouched under the cloak. It was a bit of a squeeze, compared to the last time James had used it.

“No, he’ll have to see it today,” James replied. They slipped into the hospital wing, trying to make as less noise as possible. Once or twice Sirius had to scold Peter for walking too loudly. James suddenly had an idea. He whispered it quickly to Sirius and Peter. Remus was sleeping when they walked up to him. The moonlight illuminated his pale face, and James saw a deep gash on his forehead and bandages around his left upper arm.  A spot on the bandages seemed to be bloodstained. There were also half-healed wound marks on his calves, which had some foul-smelling green paste applied over it.

“Wake up, Wolfie,” Sirius said, shaking Remus inconsiderately. Remus rubbed his eyes open and sat up.

“What are you all doing here?” he whispered hoarsely.

“Peter here missed copying your homework, so we figured we would drop by and get it,” Sirius said.

“Peter missed copying my homework?” Remus asked, raising his eyebrows skeptically at Sirius.

“Alright, we haven’t done our homework yet,” Sirius admitted lazily, stretching himself. “Figured you wouldn’t have either, what with being too busy howling and slobbering-”

“Git!” Remus grinned, throwing a pillow at Sirius. His eyes widened in surprise as the pillow suddenly stopped mid air, seemingly suspended by nothing. It took all of James’ self control to not burst out laughing at Remus’ expression from behind the cloak.

“What the hell?” Remus said, his mouth hanging open. Peter’s face was red from trying not to laugh. Sirius seemed to be playing his part quite well.

“What are you talking about?” he asked mildly.

“Don’t you see that?” Remus said pointing to the pillow.

“Oh, that’s just me, I’ve learnt wandless non-verbal magic,” he proclaimed lightly, “I’ll send it back to you, watch!” He then made a show of screwing his eyes in concentration and wiggling his fingers seriously. James moved the pillow slowly towards Remus, jiggling in sync with Sirius’ hand movements. Remus backed up in his bed as the pillow advanced towards him. He made sweeping movements to push the pillow away. Peter was finding it difficult to disguise his snorts, and Sirius was grinning widely now.

“Cut it out,” Remus said, clearly unnerved. James couldn’t hold it any longer and doubled up laughing. At that sound, Sirius and Peter started laughing as well. Remus looked on in astonishment as James pulled off the cloak. Remus’ eyes popped out as James dropped the cloak on his lap with flourish, and explained its acquisition.

“Your dad gave you this?” he asked, shaking his head in disbelief. James grinned and sat on Remus’ bed. Remus moved his leg slightly to give him some space, and James caught sight of the wounds on his calves.

“What happened there?” he asked.

“Oh, that’s just, some scratches,” he said, hastily covering them up with his sheets. Sirius had noticed them too.

“Just scratches on your arm as well?” he asked, raising an eyebrow.

“It’s nothing,” Remus said uncomfortably, “Sometimes when I… you know… well, I tend to scratch myself. It’s fine, Madam Pomfrey has a paste that heals them considerably. I hope to pass the scars off as war wounds to girls someday.” He grinned feebly attempting a joke.

James didn’t think it was remotely funny. He had seen how deep the cuts were. Sirius and Peter were looking at Remus pityingly. “See, this is why I don’t tell you these things,” he said furiously, “I don’t want you feeling sorry for me,” he glared at them.

“Is it painful?” James asked slowly, “Transforming?”

Remus turned to look at James, and in that one moment James saw a flicker of agony cross his eyes. In the two months they had known about Remus, they hadn’t talked about it, except to refer to it as a joke. Remus had told them what generally happened during his disappearances, how and where he transforms. But they hadn’t touched upon the topic of his transformation.

“Frankly, yes,” he said, his face hard and jaw set. “The bones grow. My spine hunches. The tail rips out of my ass,” he smiled feebly, “My face is pulled outward into a snout. My fingers absorb into paws and nails tear through my fingertips. Some of my organs also morph internally. When I was younger, it used to feel like my skin was on fire, being poked and stretched all at the same time,” he said with an air of clinical detachment. “Now, I’m used to it. Biting and scratching myself doesn’t hurt in my wolfish form. The real pain is when I’m human again, and I have to face my injuries.”

James sensed a bitter undertone to his light voice. Silence followed this explanation. The air was uncomfortably gloomy.

“Don’t look like that, you lot!” Remus chided them lightly, “Peter, hand me that parchment. And bring your wands over so I could get some more light, this is really bad for my eyesight. I don’t want to end up like four-eyes over there,” he gestured to James while Sirius chuckled. “Sirius, get over here. Do you want to land in detention for not finishing your work?”

Sirius replied with a sarcastic comment and Peter scurried over to Remus’ side. James was silent, lost in his thoughts. In all his pampered and spoilt life, he had known no pain, no suffering, no sadness. He had hardly been able to understand when others reflected these emotions. But in that moment, looking at Remus joking with Sirius and Peter, he felt something other than pity. Admiration. Remus had seen more pain in his 12 short years that people didn’t experience even in a lifetime. And yet he was in front of them, doing his best not to let on. Never compromising on his work or his friends. In that moment James knew that Remus was more than twice the boy he ever could hope to be.





The anticipation and hype surrounding a Gryffindor versus Slytherin quidditch match had always been high at Hogwarts. The other houses also started weighing in with their support preferences, calculating the wins and losses which would advantage their house for the cup. In the week leading to the match, every corner of Hogwarts was filled with students discussing strategies, recalling older games and predicting outcomes. Even those who didn’t know anything about Quidditch were seen spouting statistics they had just picked up from Quidditch Illustrated or Quidditch Through the Ages.

Tensions were running high. Players were being accosted before and after every practise sessions by housemates who thought the team couldn’t win without their valuable input. Nelson Redford was reduced to scheduling practices at early hours in the mornings before everybody woke up. Gideon Prewett and Owen Weasley took it in their stride. Alice Rivers, who was battling with the combined pressure of OWLs year and quidditch, often retreated into the library when she was not practising. However, the most affected by this pressure were the new players who were facing this kind of attention for the first time. Violetta Jenkins had a nervous breakdown after a gruelling practise session, in which the Slytherin onlookers were hexing mudballs to fly out at them. Gideon Prewett had to take her to Madam Pomfrey who gave her a Calming Draught.

James was also nervous, a feeling that he had never experienced in his life before. He didn't  succumb to it like Violetta on the field but instead threw all his energy into playing the fool. Charms classes saw an increase in explosions centered around the Gryffindor boys. Professor Binns was reduced to setting James and Sirius lines for charming chalk pieces to fly through his head while he taught. Professor McGonagall called James aside after a particularly disastrous Transfiguration class that had to be ended ten minutes early thanks to a fire. Sirius, Remus and Peter assured him vehemently that it was detention and snickered as he went sulkily. Ten minutes later, James emerged from the classroom, looking a little grim and clutching a box of sugar quills in his hand, much to the others’ astonishment.

"Only you can set a porcupine on fire and get away with being presented with Sugar Quills," joked Remus, shaking his head incredulously.

Adhara had a different way of dealing with her nerves that was less entertaining than James. She stopped talking to anyone and snapped at everyone who came in her way. One evening she and Marlene were seen having a shouting match in the common room over occupying the seat next to the fireplace. Mary and Dorcas had to come and separate them. As Mary led Adhara away she bumped into Sirius.

"Whops! Sorry! Wouldn’t want to provoke the Dragon Lady," he smirked.

"This isn’t the time Sirius," she said furiously.

“Slow down! You’re breathing fire,” he chuckled,  “I should tell Remus he was spot on with the nickname!"

Adhara glared at him.

"Sugar Quill?" he offered, handing one out to her. She looked for a moment as if she would very dearly like to stick it up his nose. Then, suddenly, her shoulders slumped and her face looked stricken. She picked it up and nibbled at it.

"I don't know why I'm the only one who is so tense," she said in a pained voice.

"You should see James," Sirius commented.

"Potter is so unperturbed! He is the life of the team! There's no way he is nervous!"

"James would rather set fire to his own ass than admit it. Joking around is just his way of dealing with it. Like yours is biting everyone’s heads off," he commented, chewing his sugar quill loudly.

"When did you get so intuitive?" she asked, looking at him suspiciously.

"Oh, I don’t know anything,” he shrugged lightly, “Remus over there pointed this out to Mary a few minutes back. I'm just carrying the message."

"Git," she said laughing along with him.

"So..." he started slowly, "Rigel's going to be playing for Slytherin right?"

"I thought we weren't going to talk about that stuff," she said raising her eyebrows.

"You're right, never mind!" he shrugged, stuffing the end of his sugar quill into his mouth and strolling away. Adhara was taken aback at his abruptness, but turned around and marched up to her dormitories.





The day of the match dawned, quite sunny and not too windy. The air was electric with energy. Gryffindor and Slytherin house were edgy and easily excitable. Colours of red and green spanned the stands, the red outshining the green. The Ravenclaw house seemed to be in a dilemma as a Slytherin victory would put them at an advantage. Half the crowd turned up in green and the other half had abstained from exhibiting their support.

Adhara was rushing to the dressing room with her broom in hand. She was already late and had had to double up because she had left her broom behind.

"Adhara," Rigel walked up to her. He had already changed into his green Slytherin robes. "Just wanted to wish you luck for today!" he said, his lip curling in a grin.

"Thanks, but I think you need it more," she replied, smirking.

"You can drop the act. There's no one here but us," he said.

"I should be going," she replied.

"Go ahead," he said nodding his chin in the direction of the changing room, "I hope you won't let me down," he said, raising his eyebrows at her, a menacing glint in his eyes.

"Have I ever?" she said sarcastically, raising her eyebrows at him.

"You're a true Selwyn," he chuckled, giving her a pat on the shoulder and walking away. Adhara smirked after him as she turned and hastened. Within a couple of steps she found herself face to face with Sirius.

"What are you doing?" he demanded angrily.

"Uhm, going to the game?" she answered with a frown, "and I'm late already, so move," she ordered, trying to step around him. He moved sideways and blocked her again.

"I saw what just happened," he started.

"Congratulations on your perfect eyesight!” she said sarcastically.

"You're going to throw the game, aren’t you?” he glared at her accusingly.

“Move out of my way, Sirius,” she said coldly, raising her chin.

“I thought you joined the team to show Rigel you’re a Gryffindor. I can’t believe this, you two-faced traitor!” he said furiously.

“I don’t expect you to understand. Besides, I thought you didn’t care what I did,” she replied coldly.

“You’re right,” he sneered, “I don’t give a damn.” He walked away without one look at her.




Authors Note:

This is my favorite chapter till date. Although James and Lily don't have a romance component going on, I still loved that he was the one to punch Mulciber. I was going to have Marlene do it initially, or Remus. But James just swooped in and took over as I was typing. It just seemed to fit. Reviews are the best encouragement. Please tell me what you think!

Thank you lovely beta Chiara (Felpata Lupin) and dedicated to NB, HB, 2AB, ARK


Chapter 8: 2nd Year - Quidditch and Consequences
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Sirius headed to the pitch and by the time he reached, the players were already in the middle of the field and he saw the captains shaking hands. He waded through the sea of spectators to join Remus and Peter, who had saved a seat for him.

“What took you so long?” Peter asked.

“Selwyn. She’s going to throw the game,” Sirius said disdainfully.

“What?” Remus gaped at Sirius.

“Guess the Sorting Hat had one too many Firewhiskeys before it sorted our lot,” he commented, stretching his legs.

“Did you warn the team?” Peter asked frowning.

“Uh… It was already late,” Sirius replied. If truth be said, that thought hadn’t occurred to him at all. He had been too busy not caring.

“James is going to be crushed,” Remus said, shaking his head.

A deafening roar brought their attention to the game. The snitch had just been released and the players had taken off. James’ face was set in concentration. Sirius suddenly felt guilty. He didn’t care two Knuts whether Gryffindor won or not, and he had never felt more than a passing interest in Quidditch. But seeing James out there, and all his housemates up on their feet in support made him feel slightly ashamed that he hadn’t tried to warn the team.

“Slytherin takes possession of the Quaffle-” Ravenclaw Matthew Fawcett’s magically magnified voice boomed across the stands.

Sirius watched as the Slytherin Chaser Vaisley sped down the field. James was close on his tail.

“Gryffindor chaser Potter is closing in - Vaisley passes to Burke - Burke to Vaisley - Burke again - Vaisley - Redford comes to Potters aid - Vaisley passes… Prewett tries to intercept - no Slytherin still in possession - Burke SCORES!”

A loud cheer erupted from the Slytherin stands. Sirius’ eyes searched for Adhara on the skies. Redford had flown up to her and said something before flying away.

“Score 0 - 10 to Slytherin. Redford has the quaffle now - He’s heading for the goal post - Potter’s to his right - will he pass? Yes - Potter - back to Redford - Slytherin chasers closing in - Where’s the third Gryffindor Chaser when they need one? - Redford - Potter - Back to - Redford - Potter aims - Keeper ready - No - Potter drops the quaffle - Vaisley inter - No - Whoa! Selwyn intercepts - Selwyn SCORES!”

Adhara had come flying at high speed from halfway across the court and taken possession inches from the goal posts. Before anybody knew they were joined by another player, she had scored. Sirius saw Rigel giving her a glowering look.

“Slytherin back in possession - Chaser Burke - passes to Miller - Potter intercepts - Merlin, that’s an amazing mid-air turn-”

The spectators awed as James caught the quaffle with one hand, skid to an almost instant stop and flipped his broom a hundred and eighty degrees to head to the Gryffindor goal posts. His eyes were blazing in concentration.

“... things you could do with a Nimbus 1500 - Selwyn aims a bludger at Potter - misses him by inches - nice swerve there Potter - passes to Selwyn - back to Potter - Redford - intercepted - no - Gryffindor still in possession - Redford - Potter - Potter SCORES!”

Sirius was on his feet along with the other Gryffindors. James scored the next two goals as well.

“... Wouldn’t believe it was his first game. Of course a Nimbus 1500 could work wonders…” Fawcett was saying. “... I can’t believe this, Potter’s going for another goal just seconds after his last one… Oh... He’s trying the Reddington Maneuver - Wait - Burke - NO! Is that a Foul?”

Slytherin Chaser Burke had tried to crash into James, but was unfortunately seen by Madam Hooch. The penalty was taken by Redford. Another ten minutes passed and the score had come up to 60 - 20 to Gryffindors. The Slytherin players were becoming restless now, and their beaters were becoming aggressive. Adhara hadn’t tried to score any more goals since the first, and she seemed to be flying loosely out of the way, much like a seeker. The last goal that Redford had missed could have very easily been taken by Adhara. James’ look of frustration made Sirius feel guilty again. Redford had asked for a time out, and the players flew to the ground.

“Are you going to tell Redford?” Peter asked, unconsciously voicing the dilemma that was going on in Sirius’ head.

“I don’t know, by the time I walk through all this crowd, the game might very well begin again,” he replied, unsure. He didn’t really want to get into the middle of this. If she wanted to throw the game, that was on her. And it was Redford’s fault for choosing a Selwyn on his team.

“Are you sure about it?” asked Remus doubtfully.

“Didn’t you see the game?” Peter said to Remus, “She could have intercepted so many times.” Peter had clearly been noticing it as much as Sirius had. Before Sirius had a chance to reply, the players were back in the air.

Ten minutes into the second half, Adhara dropped the quaffle and Slytherin took possession, leading to them scoring two goals in succession. Sirius deeply regretted not having said anything. Her face didn’t betray even a flicker of frustration that James and Redford seemed to be showing. Instead there was just a steely look in her eyes.  James regained possession of the quaffle and sped towards the goal post. Redford was being blocked by two chasers and the beaters were aiming bludgers at James. At one point, the Slytherin chaser tailing him was about to get hold of the quaffle, when all of a sudden Adhara came out of nowhere, caught the quaffle and scored unexpectedly. The Gryffindor house cheered as Sirius and Peter looked at each other with raised eyebrows.

The scores were neck in neck, but Sirius saw something odd happening. Adhara had suddenly become the heart and soul of the team. She was intercepting almost every pass, and succeeding as she was small and quick. Along with James’ quick reflexes, the two of them almost worked like one player. Sirius glanced at Rigel who looked as if he had been hit by his own club. He must have recovered quickly, because he sent the next bludger aiming at Adhara. Owen Weasley was quick to block, clearing a path for her to score again. Rigel flew up to the other Slytherin beater and whispered something.

“... Selwyn in possession - the Gryffindor Selwyn, of course - passes to Potter - Selwyn -”

THUNK!

“Whoa - nearly missed bludger. This is not the time for Gryffindor to lose a chaser. Selwyn aims - and Goaa- no wait - Saved!”

The Slytherin stands erupted in cheer. As the game progressed, the commentator was expressing admiration for James Potter’s prowess on the broom, and seemed quite taken in by the Nimbus 1500. Adhara had become the target for both Slytherin beaters. There was a time when Redford had the Quaffle and speeding down the pitch with James, and a bludger was aimed at her though she was nowhere near them. The Gryffindor Beaters, Prewett and Weasley, had caught on to this and were forced to fly around her, leaving Redford and James as open targets for the second beater. The commentator didn’t seem to have noticed this and was obliviously talking about how Slytherin team needed to upgrade their brooms.

The snitch hadn’t been spotted yet. There was a time when Alice Rivers thought she had seen the snitch, but it had turned out to be a false glint in the sunlight. With the Slytherin beaters circling the Gryffindor chasers, The Slytherin chasers had an almost uninterrupted twenty minutes of goal scoring, at the end of which the scoreboard read two hundred and eighty to one hundred and thirty in favor of Slytherins.

A sudden dive by the Slytherin seeker, brought everyone’s attention back to the snitch. He had clearly spotted something and Alice seemed to have seen it too. Veering sharply, she turned directions to catch up to him. The spectators and commentator both were focusing on the seekers. No one was paying attention to the other side of the pitch. James had taken the quaffle again was moving towards the goalpost. He was being tailed by all three Slytherin Chasers. Redford was unable to get within range. Adhara, who was being constantly covered by Owen Weasley, had found it difficult to get to a Quaffle in the last fifteen minutes. The Slytherin Keeper was ready to block the goal. Sirius, Remus and Peter were watching James. There was no way he would be able to score, he wasn’t covered by anyone.

Adhara suddenly sped past Owen Weasley and came whizzing up to the right of James. Miller was momentarily distracted from James and tried to nudge her out of her broom. She kept level with them. Redford seemed to be shouting something to them, waving his hands. She wasn’t trying to take the quaffle from James. Remus pointed this out to Sirius as they wondered out loud. Rigel raised his club and aimed a Bludger at James. The Gryffindor beaters were too far. Gideon Prewett was nevertheless trying to catch up to them.

Then it all happened too fast. The Slytherin Chasers dropped a few feet in height. James was just a few feet from the goalpost and couldn’t afford to slow down or change direction. He bent lower on his broom, his eyes only on the goalpost. Redford was moving closer but he was not fast enough. The bludger came whizzing through the air. Quite a few Gryffindors had snapped their attention back to their chaser. The spectators brought their hands to their mouth, bracing themselves for the bludger to find its mark.

“Oh My god! James!” Marlene was shrieking from behind Sirius.

THUNK!

“- Potter SCORES… and my! - Yes - Rivers has caught the Snitch! GRYFFINDOR WINS! Two hundred and forty to two hundred and thirty, Gryffindors win by a narrow margin. That last goal by Potter cinched the game-””

Adhara had thrown herself in the way of the Bludger, becoming its human target and allowing James to score unhindered.  The celebrations from the Gryffindor stands were a bit subdued as the spectators were still in shock.  Watching Adhara fall off from 20 feet mid-air. Madam Hooch had rushed with her wand out, but Adhara had already hit the ground with a sickening thud.




Three things happened as a result of the Gryffindor versus Slytherin Quidditch match. James Potter found himself the object of much deserved praise and popularity. Marlene McKinnon was feeling much friendlier towards Adhara. Rigel Selwyn was put in detention for trying to hex Adhara.

Post-match euphoria died down, but the effects still lingered. Adhara suddenly found herself being accepted into the Gryffindor girl’s circle. James’ confidence only morphed into a type of arrogance that was being fed by his increased popularity.

Ravenclaw versus Gryffindor had been played, and Gryffindor had won. Christmas had come and gone, soon it was March. The second-year students had to choose their subjects for the third year.

“I’m leaning towards Ancient Runes,” Remus was saying over breakfast one day, “It must be interesting.”

“Runes?” Sirius scoffed, “That sounds duller than Muggle Studies.”

“What are you going to pick?” Remus asked, slightly put off by Sirius’ disdain of Ancient Runes.

“Care of Magical Creatures,” he said promptly, “Wish we were allowed to drop subjects though. I’d drop Herbology in a second.”

“Herbology is not so bad,” commented James through his mouthful of food.

“You didn’t get spat at by an innocent cactus,” Sirius said ruefully, pointing his fork at James, “The only thing good about Herbology is that it comes to an end within an hour.”

“Well, I’m considering Ancient Runes and Care of Magical Creatures. Although, Arithmancy seems appealing as well,” Remus said thoughtfully.

“Arithmancy is too much work, Ancient Runes is too dull” James said, screwing his face. “I was thinking of going in for Divination. Could be a good laugh.”

“Sorry James, you’ll be on your own,” Sirius said guffawing.

“Ancient Runes sounds better than Divination,” mused Peter. James looked disappointed.

Remus continued to ponder the options loudly with Peter as Sirius and James noisily ate their food. Next to them, the girls were discussing the same topic as well.

“I’m taking Muggle studies,” Marlene said brightly.

“We don’t need muggle studies,” Mary said, pointing to her and Lily, “But Regina and Dorcas are taking it, so you’ll have company.”

“What are you taking?” Lily asked Mary curiously.

“Arithmancy and Ancient Runes,” she stated decidedly. “I don’t fancy Magical Creatures so much and Divination sounds like a lot of guesswork more than actual magic.”

“Arithmancy? Over Care of Magical Creatures?” Marlene exclaimed incredulously. Mary just shrugged.

“I asked Professor Flitwick about the subjects. Arithmancy sounds boring. But Ancient Runes could be useful. You never know what you might end up doing in life later,” Lily considered.

The bell rang and the second years hurried of to their first class.

Charms was particularly fun that day. They were supposed to be learning enlargement and reduction charms on frogs. They had finished with spiders the previous weeks. This was proving to be slightly more difficult as frogs had much more mobility than spiders. The room was filled with croaks and girls shrieking slightly as the frogs jumped near to them.

Severus Snape had just enlarged his frog successfully, when all of a sudden, it jumped on top of his head and clung to his hair. Alarmed, he started waving his hands wildly, shaking his head and hopping to get it to jump off. The frog seemed unusually stubborn. The whole class was in peals of laughter. Even Lily found it quite amusing, until she heard guffaws from behind her. Turning around, she saw James Potter with his wand pointed at Severus and the others laughing around him. She realized that the frog hasn't been behaving of its own accord entirely. She pulled out her wand, pointed to James’ frog and levitated it to sit on James’ face in between his eyes. Startled, he dropped his wand. The frog croaked loudly, trying to climb across James’ glasses. Lily laughed loudly, drawing everyone’s attention to Potter. Sirius, Remus and Peter were now doubled up in laughter looking at James’ expression. James’ eyes caught Lily’s who raised her eyebrows and smiled smugly. Comprehension dawned on his face. He then aimed a sullen kick at Sirius who was now rolling on the floor, howling.

“It’s not so funny when the shoe is on the other foot, is it?” Lily said smirking, lowering her wand and letting the frog jump off his face. He looked back at her with a mixture of awe and disbelief, as if noticing her for the first time.

“Good one, Evans.” he said grinning appreciatively, “But be prepared now. I’ll get you next time,” he said with a cocky smile.

Lily grinned, revelling in getting one up on James Potter, and turned around. She didn’t notice that James turned away only a few seconds later




That evening in the common room Remus and Sirius were playing Gobstones while James was leaning against the couch, watching them.

“Hey, Professor McGonagall wants us to tell her the elective choices first thing tomorrow,” announced Peter, joining them.

“Have you both decided yet?” Remus addressed Sirius and James.

“I don’t know which second elective to take. I’ll just pick whatever James is picking. Sorry Remus, I don’t want to sit through Ancient Runes,” said Sirius, making a face.

“James?” asked Peter, turning to James.

“I don’t know,” he started thoughtfully, “Ancient Runes could be useful.”

“I thought you said it was dull?” said Remus, raising his eyebrows.

“Yeah… well… you never know what you might end up doing later. You might need it,” he said slowly.

“How could you do this to me?” Sirius said dramatically. Remus rolled his eyes while Peter snickered shrilly. “Why the sudden change of heart?” he asked carelessly, returning to the game in hand.

James remained silent. He had no idea himself. He glanced towards where the girls were sitting, doing their homework. Lily was laughing at something Adhara had said.

“I don’t know… it just… made sense,” he said, his gaze lingering inexplicably for a moment before Peter pulled him away for a two-on-two match.




“Oh no!” Marlene shrieked. Her eyes were wide and cheeks had turned pale. She was holding a letter in her hand which was trembling slightly. Several people turned to look at her. She looked around wildly and ran up to Frank Longbottom who was busy reading the Daily Prophet. She asked for it in a shaky voice and returned to her seat in the same frenzy.

“Marlene?” Lily asked tentatively.

Her head was behind the newspaper for a few moments. She brought it down to the table, smoothing out the part below the fold.

“My brother,” she whispered, “There’s been riots in Shaftsbury. My brother was posted there… and … and his name is on the missing list.” Her lips were trembling. “My sister just owled me.” She got up suddenly and rushed out of the great hall. Adhara and Lily looked at each other uncomfortably before hesitatingly raising from their seats.

Dorcas spoke up unexpectedly, “I'll go. I think I can help.”

“I forgot,” Adhara whispered miserably as they sat down, “she's been through this.”

Lily couldn't speak. She gazed at her food, suddenly having lost her appetite. Marlene's brother might be dead. Her thoughts flew to her own sister, Petunia. She wondered how she would react if Tuney was the one presumed dead. She felt sick to the stomach. She would write to her family at once, even Tuney who refused to use owl post. She needed to know they were alright.




James watched as Dorcas went after Marlene.

“I didn't know Marlene had a brother,” Sirius was saying.

Lily looked up. “Matthew McKinnon. He’s training to be an Auror. He’s in his last year of training now,” she supplied. “He was engaged to be married to Adrianne Dearborn this summer,” she said looking miserable.

An uncomfortable silence descended on them. Nobody knew quite what to say.  James picked up the discarded newspaper and smoothed it out to read. Remus, Sirius and Peter’s heads converged behind the paper as well.

Shaftsbury Riots: The Horror and The Aftermath

The quiet town of Shaftsbury has not seen such disaster since the Goblin Riots of 1654. A town in which wizards and muggles live side by side in peace has been threatened. In what is now being referred to as the Shaftsbury Riots of 1972, a group of anti-muggle extremists have taken to attacking the town and its people at night. The wizards residing there rose to the occasion and fought bravely, but considerable damage has been done. Those wizards and witches who have survived to tell the tale report that these extremists were seen wearing long cloaks and white masks, making identification impossible. The Ministry descended quickly to perform damage control. Two of these extremists were severely injured and have been taken to St. Mungo’s, kept under tight security. The Daily Prophet will be the first to report any further developments.

Two days after the horrendous riots in Shaftsbury, the Ministry of Magic has released an official Casualties List and Missing List. Emergency Contact persons have been listed below in case of assistance. The Daily Prophet offers deep condolences to the families that have lost their loved ones.

They finished reading and returned to their places. Remus was conveying what they had just read to the others. Sirius and Peter were arguing about the efficiency of the Minister of Magic. James turned the page randomly and an advertisement caught his eye.

Hairy Snout, Human Heart:

A real-life retelling of the trials and tribulations of being a werewolf in today’s society. Grab your copies now. An Excerpt from the novel has been printed below-

The moon, in its full glory, is a source of light, a symbol of romance. For me, the growing moon only signifies the increase in feeling of dread as the days approach the fated full moon night.  Yet another moon, yet another transformation. Every transformation is just as torturous as the last. Every nerve is lit on fire as every cell morphs into the monster I detest. The monster I am ashamed to identify myself with. The monster that is a part of me. It takes over my body, but not my soul. This monster has the mind of a wolf. During those hours, I don’t think like a human, or feel the pain that humans do. I am not capable of doing either. I crave blood. The human that I am, I cannot bear to be the cause of putting someone else through this misery. So I take special precautions that isolate me from human contact. But then the wolf takes over, the wolf needs blood. When that doesn’t happen, the wolf bites and scratches its own body in frustration. My own body.  These wounds, serve momentary gratification to my wolfish mind, and my wolfish body cannot feel the pain. But when I transform back, the wounds remain on my human self. The scars run deeper than skin. Every time I see these scars on my human self, I am reminded once again of the monster inside me.  Sometimes, when my injuries are so very painful, my human mind wishes the wolf to be let loose among people, if that would only stop the pain. But the human mind knows that it would only cause the pain of guilt, a kind for which there is no redemption. A werewolf is tamed only in the presence of other animals. But the prospect of running loose and unsupervised in a forest in my wolfish state is frightening beyond means, for the same reasons I isolate myself during the transformations. At the end of every transformation, there is a momentary relief, which is close followed by excruciating pain. But scars of the body, I can withstand. Scars on my heart, is another question altogether. Because, although there is relief, it is quickly replaced by the forethought of having to do it all over again. That dread fills through me, as I start counting down the days to full moon once again.

James felt strangely unsettled when he finished reading and put the paper down. Remus, Peter and Sirius had bewitched a bunch of breadsticks to try to knock each other out in midair. As he saw Remus laugh with everyone, James comprehended the extent to which Remus was hiding his condition from them.




Marlene was finding it difficult to breathe. Her head felt light, her lungs felt constricted. Disbelief, denial, terror, fear. Emotions spiraled through her heart before she could pin one down. Not Matthew! He was tough, and talented. He would have found a way to escape. He just hadn’t gotten hold of an owl just yet. Without realizing it, she had reached her dormitory. The door opened right after her, bringing with it a gust of wind. Only when she felt the cold on her cheeks she realized tears had been streaming down her cheek.

“Have a glass of water,” Dorcas’ quiet steady voice cut through the swirling thoughts in her head like an anchor in a storm. She extended a shaky hand to receive the glass of water and took a watery sip. The liquid flowing down her throat seemed to warm her chest. Her brain stopped spinning.

“Sometimes,” started Dorcas, coming to sit next to her, “when my father used to go away for work, we wouldn’t hear from him for days. No contact, no information. We just had to wait and wait, until he made it home. And we got used to it after a while. Took it for granted that he would return, safe and whole, eventually. Until one day, a Ministry official came to visit, and told us he would never come home again.”

Dorcas’ eyes were bright, but her face was impassive.  “I’m sorry,” Marlene muttered.

“What I’m saying is, Aurors are trained to be tough. It’s going to take a lot more than one riot to bring your brother down. It took my father over fifteen years in this line before he was taken down.”

Marlene nodded, sniffing slightly. She had never known the dangers of being an auror. She realized now that she had been too young to be told the details. She felt a ripple of anger towards her parents for constantly shielding her from the truth in the pretext of her being the youngest. Dorcas’ soft voice and steady tone seemed to provide a strength she didn’t have at that point.

“Just because he’s missing doesn’t mean he’s dead,” continued Dorcas, “But if he really is, you’re going to miss him, you’re going to feel pain beyond what you’ve ever felt in your life. But you’re going to be able to move on with your life, and find the strength to do what you can to keep up his legacy. But until that point, let’s just keep hoping that it doesn’t have to end like that.”

Silence followed this speech. Dorcas simply sat beside Marlene until she was ready to go down and face the others.




James noticed that Remus was becoming edgier as the full moon approached. He was still kind and helpful as ever, but James couldn’t help perceiving an underlying restlessness. His mind kept recalling the excerpt and wondering if it applied to Remus as well. Once or twice he had wanted to ask, but he didn’t know how to bring it up. For once in his life, he employed some tact and chose to keep his mouth shut.

On full moon night, James stood by the window in the common room that overlooked the grounds. He watched the shadows of Madam Pomfrey and Remus walking across the grounds, and engulfed by the shadows cast by the Whomping Willow. He felt a tightness in his chest.

“Mate?” A sleepy Sirius had appeared on top of the flight of stairs. “What are you doing here?” he asked rubbing his eyes, yawning.

“I was just… Remus just went into the shack,” replied James, turning back to look outside. There were no shadows now. Just an unusually still Whomping Willow.

“Bummer mate,” said Sirius seriously, walking up to stand next to James, “I know he doesn’t want anyone to pity him, but I really do feel sorry for him.  Wish there was something we could do.”

“What if there is?” James wondered out loud.

“I doubt it,” said Sirius pessimistically, “If there was a solution, don’t you think Dumbledore would have thought of it?”

“Not if he didn’t look in the right places,” said James, almost to himself.

“It’s too late for me to crack your riddles,” Sirius said irately.

“What’s the worst thing about Remus’ transformations?” James asked, his eyes suddenly wide.

“Uhh... the pain?” said Sirius pointing out the obvious and rolling his eyes.

“Exactly.” James’ eyes gleamed triumphantly. “A werewolf is tamed only in the presence of other animals,” he quoted.

“I’m off to bed,” declared Sirius, “When you’ve come around, you know where to find me!” He moved towards the staircase.

“Animagi.”

James’ voice rang across the silent common room. Sirius stopped and stared at him with a mixture of disbelief and comprehension.

“Are you suggesting that we -”

“It’ll be fun!” James grinned widely, “We could give him company, and,” James walked away from the window. “And, think of the possibilities!”

Sirius continued to stare at James for a moment. And then -

“Excellent! When do we start?”


A/N:

And finally the Animagus idea takes shape. What do you guys feel about it? Was the process of deciding it natural enough? Is there anything you'd like to have seen more of here?

HB, NB, 2AB and ARK, you know the drill. Also lovely Chiara (Felpata Lupin)! And to all you lovely readers and reviewers I dedicate this chapter


Chapter 9: 2nd Year - The Uprising
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The night was unusually chilly for a warm summer’s day. It felt colder as they were sitting in the dark. Huddled together, more for comfort than for warmth, she could only hear her heart beating wildly, drowning her breathing. Sweat trickled down her father’s brow. He seemed agitated. They all were. Then there was a sound - a loud crack. Then there were footsteps, fast approaching, echoing unnaturally. Then something landing on their roof with a thud. And her father panicked.

“Run! Hide!” he whispered in a frenzy. She caught sight of a hysterical look in his eyes amidst the dark shadows. He, who had always been their pillar of support, was scared. He looked around wildly, his expression unhinged. His fear was seeping through to her.

She wanted to hug him, to stay with him. She felt herself being pulled away by her mother. She wanted to open her mouth to say something, anything. But her mother’s hands clamped across her lips she couldn’t see where they were going. She was being led up the stairs, half-walking and half-dragged. The thuds became louder. She heard something being blasted downstairs. Sound of the wood door thrown against stone walls. Her body was shaking. A brief hug, a kiss on top of the head.

“Stay here. Quiet.” Her mother’s voice was unrecognizable.

And then she was being shoved somewhere. A closet or a cupboard by the feel of it. The door banged shut on her face, engulfing her in complete darkness once again. She wanted to call out to her mother. But she knew not to make a sound. She bit her lip hard to keep from screaming out. She prayed her mother had enough time to get out of harm’s way.

A shriek tore through her ear drums. Her heart almost stopped beating. She drew her trembling fingers across her cold, raw lips. Even the sound of her own breathing unnerved her. Suddenly, there was a lot of noise. A scuffle, followed by voices. She could hear incoherent shouts of her father. Her mother’s shrieks grew louder. She clamped her hands across her ears. But the voices could not be drowned. Her bleeding lips stung as something salty came in contact with it. Tears. She didn’t know she had been crying.

Her mother’s shrieks stopped abruptly. Her father’s deranged scream was unrecognizable. Her heart went cold at the sound. She heard some more voices. Male voices. Her father’s sobs echoed through the house.

“No one turns their back on the Dark Lord,” a rough voice said with ruthlessness, drowning her father’s sobs.

Then there was the sound of someone walking around, someone heavy. She sensed there were two of them. Someone gave a loud sniff, as if smelling for something.

“I sense another presence.” This time, the voice was raspy, almost hungry. There was something maniacal about his tone. She drew her knees close to her chest, circling them with her arms, as if to stop them from shaking so much.

“Mercy! Mercy!” her father’s desperate screams rang across. The terror in his voice reverberated through the walls. Then there was laughing. A laugh that rendered her motionless with terror. A vile, savage laugh. She shivered. Her father’s sobs stopped suddenly.

“The Dark Lord shows no mercy!” The voice growled. There was a loud bang. Bright green light flashed, the remnants of which flowed through the crack between the doors of the cupboard she was hidden in.

Silence befell. Her every sense was heightened. She buried her face between her knees, hoping to drown the sound of her heartbeat. She felt a warm tingling sensation run down her spine. Tears and sweat streaked her face and ran down her neck. A floorboard creaked. That sound was much too close for comfort. Her hands were numb and fingers were cold.

The door banged open. She was blinded by sudden bright light and brought her hands to shield her eyes instinctively. She was dragged up by a rough hand. She caught a glimpse of the attacker. She saw a brutal look in cold, grey eyes. And then, there it was again. The bright green light.




"Matty!" Marlene squealed, throwing herself into her brother's arms.

It had been over forty days of agony before the McKinnon family had had any news of their firstborn. Marlene, away at Hogwarts, was unable to bear the agony of the unknown. At times she had found herself thinking that the news of his death would have been much better than the torture of not knowing. And then, one day in May, an owl had arrived from her sister. Her brother had returned home alive and safe. Since then she had been waiting to get home and see him for herself. Looking at him, seated so familiarly on his favorite seat in the living room, she dropped her bags and hugged him, choking back tears and holding on to him tightly.

"Slow down, Lenie!" he laughed, untangling her hands from around his neck. "You've grown!" he commented, grinning. She looked into his soft, blue eyes and beamed.

“I am almost thirteen now!" she said, proudly. "Where were you? Why didn’t anyone give me proper details over owl post?" she implored, a tear escaping the confines of her eyelid. It was in that joyous moment of seeing him that she allowed herself to express her vulnerability.

"Why don't you get something to eat first?" he said, patting her on the head.

“Not before you tell me everything,” she demanded, frowning at him.

He laughed fondly. “I’m not going to win this one, am I?”

She shook her head stubbornly, sitting down and crossing her legs, waiting for him to speak.

"As you know, I was in Shaftsbury. I was sleeping when the first set of Death Eaters landed. Yes, that's the name they go by these days,” he said grimly, “My bunk mate, Don and I headed out to see what the commotion was. The sight that greeted us was gruesome. I can't even begin to explain, I think it is best left unsaid. At first I thought it was another simulation, for auror training. Then there was a flash of green light, and Donny dropped dead next to me. It then struck me, it was all real. I charged forward and joined the fight. At one point I was cornered, and one of the Death Eaters was towering over me.”

Marlene gasped but Matthew held up a hand to silence her.

“I was sure I was done for,” he continued, “And then someone next to him yelled 'He's a pureblood.' He stopped advancing, and suddenly slashed his wand in the air in front of me. Everything went blank. The next thing I remember is waking up in this dark cellar. My first instinct was that I had been taken hostage. But I soon came to know that, I had been rescued by a high up Auror, Alaister Moody. He told me we had to hide out underground for a while. I wasn't able to contact you until a few things were set in order. I sent an owl the second I could."

"What reasons?" she asked curiously, "why weren't you able to send an owl?"

"That's classified ministry information," he said lightly, ruffling her hair. She felt annoyed. She hated not knowing things. But if there was one person who would tell her the truth it was Matty.

“Is it true what they’re saying?” she asked, “There’s this new Dark Lord?”

Matthew looked at her and sighed. “Yes,” he replied quietly. “I’m afraid so.”

“And they’re targeting muggles?” she asked, her eyes wide.

“Muggles and muggle-borns.” Maria McKinnon had entered the room. She was two years younger than Matthew and training to be a healer. Marlene had grown up hearing how wonderfully talented her older siblings were. “It’s a battle for power. It’s sick!” she exclaimed, “You should see some of the injuries these people have inflicted. Cursed wounds, dark magic. The effects are gruesome, and we are running out of cures faster than ever. The extent to which they’re prepared to go for power is horrible. Their ruthlessness is frightening.”

“Maria.” Her brother used a warning tone. He had probably seen how unnerved she was. He had always been sensitive to her feelings, unlike Maria.

“She’s going to find out someday,” Maria replied flippantly. Her brother glared at Maria and changed the subject abruptly. Marlene, for once, had hit upon a topic that she didn’t want to hear more about. She was perfectly content listening to her brother comment about the latest addition to the Weasley family, a boy named Charles.




Lily walked into her room, trying to make as less noise as possible. She was sharing a room with Petunia, since her father had converted her old room into his study. It had been two weeks since she had been home and they hadn't spent more than two waking moments at a time in each other's company.  Right now Petunia was sitting on her bed, knitting. Lily opened her trunk, wanting to find her homework and leave as quickly as possible.

“I got your letter,” she spoke up quietly.

Lily turned to look at her, startled. Petunia hadn’t said anything to her directly except for ‘pass the butter’ a couple of days back. “You could have replied,” she said reproachfully.

Petunia gave a tiny jerk of her head. “Why did you suddenly write?”

“What do you mean?”

“You never write,” said Petunia.

“I tried, remember? You never replied,” defended Lily. Petunia pursed her lips and went back to her knitting. Lily rummaged in her trunk for her quill, seething from Petunia’s accusatory tone.

“In your letter, you… you said something bad had happened… and it made you think of me,” Petunia spoke hesitantly, as if the words were being wrenched out of her mouth unwillingly.

Lily met Petunia’s eyes and saw in them the sister she once had loved. She sighed and sat down opposite her. “My friend’s brother was presumed dead for a while.” Petunia was looking at her attentively. “There’s this wizard… he - he makes really bad things happen. And… he’s against mugg- I mean, people like you and me.”

“Why you? You’re… you’re one of them, right?” Petunia asked, almost unwillingly.

“But our parents are not. And to him, that makes me same as you,” said Lily wryly. “This wizard, he’s evil. And I just… just wanted you to be safe.”

For a second Lily thought she saw the ghost of a friendly smile on Petunia’s face. But it was gone, and she thought she had imagined it. Petunia went back to her knitting without as much as a nod of acknowledgement. Lily collected her things and left. Severus would be waiting for her, they had planned to do their homework together.




Snape was waiting for Lily under their usual tree. It felt good being back in Cokeworth only to spend time with Lily. They hardly got to do that in school, especially since she had found her own friends. He couldn’t stand the jeering from Rosier and Avery after they had caught him talking to her, but he felt their distance was mainly Lily’s fault. His pale face broke into a smile as he saw her walking towards him, hair flying behind her wildly, parchment and books in hand. Her orange-red hair illuminated by the bright midday sun gave an illusion of her head being on fire. He couldn’t think of anyone else who could pull off that image as beautifully as she did.

“Sorry I’m late, Sev,” she said breathlessly, sinking to the ground beside him.

“Let’s do Charms first,” he said, relieving her of some of the books she had brought with her, “That’s the dullest.”

“Hey,” she said indignantly, “I happen to like charms.”

“That’s only because you’re good at it,” Snape pointed out. “What you really like is Transfiguration,” he said astutely, grinning.

“Transfiguration is more interesting, but I’m hopeless at it,” she said grudgingly. “I really like Defense too,” she said brightly.

Snape snorted. “Defense is just a lot of wand waving.”

“But you're the best at defense,” Lily pointed out incredulously.

Snape tried not to look too pleased at her praise. “Defense is just a bunch of protective hexes and blocks.”

“Isn't that the most important subject then, especially at this point?” Lily asked.

“Important?” He scoffed, “what use is a shield charm going to be when the wizard you're dueling is out to kill you? Defense isn't going to help. We need to learn some offense!”

“There are jinxes for that too, aren’t there?”

“Do you think the person you’re dueling with will only use Ministry approved hexes? The ones they teach here to defend ourselves are just basic. There’s a whole lot more out there.” His voice had attained a dreamy quality at the thought of unrestricted magic.

“Like what?” she asked curiously.

“Spells that can disable the offender instead of just deflect their hexes. The power to create your own spells, so that the other person is caught off guard. Jinxes and hexes will only take you so far. Real power lies in Advanced Curses. Nobody can beat you once you’ve mastered them. ”

Snape’s eyes had acquired a hungry look as he spoke. He looked at Lily eagerly, and saw her shiver slightly. She looked a little uncomfortable.

“Advances Curses?” she said, a crease appearing between her eyes, “That sounds a lot like…” she trailed off biting her lip. She was looking at him with trepidation. Snape regretted having said anything.

“It’s not like that,” he rushed to clarify, “I’m just saying, you need to be better prepared than with a Stinging Hex when someone is hurling a Killing Curse at you.”

“I guess…” her expression cleared a little, “I’m sure we’ll learn advanced defense at NEWTs levels,” she said, brightening up. Snape thought it wise not to say anything further and bent his head down towards his homework.

They worked at their homework for a while. Only the chirping of birds and rustle of leaves in the warm summer’s breeze were heard over the scratching of their quills.

“How’s your father?” she asked after a long lapse of silence.

“Mm...” he mumbled. He didn’t like to think about his father if he could help it. He couldn’t understand why his mother put up with him. He usually wandered around the neighborhood and spent time with Lily to avoid going home.

“Is he still… you know?” she asked softly. He knew she was referring to the time he had told her his father came home drunk and abuse him and his mother. He nodded, not lifting his head from the parchment. He gripped his quill tighter, recalling the previous night. His father was just a muggle, and he couldn’t understand why his mother didn’t lift her wand against him. When he was finally of age...

“You can come home daily if you’d like. We can hang out at the gardens,” she offered brightly, cutting into his thoughts.

“You’d do that for me?” he asked, surprised and grateful.

“Always!” she said firmly, smiling at him.




“What do you mean, you’re not coming?” asked Sirius scathingly.

“If mum finds out, it’s not going to be good,” replied Regulus.

“Are you serious?” scoffed Sirius, “Why do you have to be such a weeny always? Live a little, won’t you?” he said with an air of haughtiness that only elder siblings could possess.

“I’m not a weeny,” defended Regulus in a hurt voice, “I just don’t want-”

“Don’t want to get on the wrong side of dear mommy?” sneered Sirius.

“No,” Regulus shot back, his ears growing red, “I don’t want her treating me like she treats you!” he glared at Sirius.

Sirius’ face dripped with derision. “You care-” he snorted.

“Yes I do,” cut in Regulus.

“You’re a weak, pathetic, moron!” he spat.

Regulus looked at him coldly. “I’m the only one in this house who talks to you anymore,” he said in a low, angry voice. “Nobody can stand you. Even Kreacher. I suggest you hold your tongue and don’t push away the only person here who actually gives a damn about you.” With that, Regulus walked out of Sirius’ room.

Sirius stared after his brother, unable to believe that the little one had just stood up to him. Who cared what that effing house-elf thought about him? He was just there to serve. As for his father, he was nothing more his mother’s pawn. Meek and spineless, just like Regulus. He snorted mentally at the thought of his mother. He couldn’t believe how naive Regulus was being. Well, he, Sirius had tried to open his eyes, and give him an out. If Regulus didn’t want to take it, there was nothing he could do about it. Sirius tried to ignore the pang in his heart at the thought of losing the last of his close family. But I haven’t changed, he justified to himself as he walked down the stairs to make himself a snack. It’s them. He aimed a kick at Kreature as he walked past, remembering what Regulus had said. He didn’t care. He was going to visit Andromeda in a couple of weeks.





A tall, fair-haired man in his early twenties opened the door.

“So you’re Ted Tonks,” said Sirius accusingly, surveyed him with raised eyebrows.

“And you’re Sirius Black,” the man replied, imitating Sirius’ tone and expression.

“You’re the one my cousin abandoned her family for,” said Sirius, still not budging.

“And you’re the one who accidentally colored her hair green for making fun of your haircut,” he replied, slightly amused by the boldness of the thirteen year old standing in front of him.

Sirius broke into a wide grin and Ted Tonks opened his door wider for him to step in. His cousin had just walked into the living room.

“I like him!” commented Sirius, looking at Andromeda over Ted’s shoulder. She walked forward and engulfed him in a hug.

“I still have my doubts about him,” said Ted, with mock-seriousness.

“He’ll grow on you,” said Andromeda, laughing. To Sirius, she said, “Come and see Nymphadora.” Her eyes were shining.

“Nymph - What?” asked Sirius, bewildered.

“My daughter! I told you, didn’t I?” she asked, frowning.

“Yes, I remember that,” he said dismissively, “but what’s that word you just said?”

“Her name. Nymphadora,” said Andromeda, slightly indignant.

“All because I lost a bet with your cousin,” muttered Ted shaking his head. “You can call her Dora like I do,” he offered. Sirius snickered slightly and Andromeda looked huffily between them.

“Nymphadora is a pretty name,” she claimed haughtily, leading them into the baby’s room. Sirius walked up to the cradle and found himself being stared at by a chubby baby with unblinking beady eyes. He had never been around babies, and didn’t quite know what to do.

Andromeda was looking hopefully at him, and he felt he was expected to say something. “Er -” he began. Then right in front of his eyes, the baby’s hair which had been scantily brown, started changing colors. He almost jumped away from the cradle.

“She’s a metamorphmagus,” Andromeda laughed at Sirius’ alarm. “She started doing that the minute she was born!”

The baby was now gurgling, looking up at him with an amused glint in its beady eyes. He frowned at the little one (which now had bubblegum pink hair). He decided then that he did not like babies, especially not those that made a fool of him even before they could learn to wipe their own arses.

“I really wish Regulus had come,” Andromeda said, closing the door behind her as they walked out of the baby’s room.

“The little twerp wants to hide behind my mother’s cloak, just like my father,” said Sirius, rolling his eyes.

“Speaking of your father, he has sent some gold to buy your books. I’ll be taking you to Diagon Alley once you get your letter,” she said as Ted waved his wands over Sirius’ luggage, which neatly flew up the stairs to (presumably) land in the guest bedroom.

“He knows I’m here?” asked Sirius feeling annoyed.

“Yes, I wrote to him. I’m sorry Sirius, but he has a right to know where you really are. But your mother still thinks you’re with the Potters,” she smiled at him apologetically.

He grunted an incoherent response and followed her into the kitchen moodily. It took Andromeda enticing him with her freshly baked cookies to get him to cheer up.

“Where’s Ted?” Sirius asked, looking around the dining room.

“He’s in the garage,” she pursed her lips disapprovingly, “He got a new toy last week. This muggle object - moterbiycal - I think. Arthur Weasley talked him into it,” she said resentfully. “Merlin knows what he does with it all day.”

Sirius saw a magazine lying on the table. The images on the cover were quite still, indicating it was a muggle magazine. There was a picture of a shiny instrument with two wheels with the words “Biker Mania” across the cover.

“That’s the one,” Andromeda nodded towards the magazine, following Sirius’ gaze. “You can take a look at it if you’d like. The garage is out back,” she said pointing him towards a door that led to their backyard. Sirius picked up the Magazine, his curiosity aroused, and decided to satisfy it by heading outside




“Oye! Sirius!”

James had just spotted Sirius walking into Madam Malkin's with a tall black-haired woman. Sirius turned around, said something to the woman and walked up to James.

“I wrote you asking to visit me over summer, why didn’t you reply?” James asked as Sirius approached.

“I was visiting my cousin,” he pointed a finger to the woman he was with earlier, “One that got blasted off my family tree for marrying a muggle-born,” Sirius explained carelessly. “And guess what,” he said, his eyes gleaming excitedly, “I saw the coolest muggle invention. It’s called a-”

“Hey look there’s Evans!” interrupted James, spotting a mass of familiar orange-red hair walking down the street. Sirius looking affronted, turned around to where he was pointing.

“Is that Snivellus with her?” he asked, his surprise overshadowing his previous slight.

“Looks like it,” replied James, surprised as well. Snape had spotted them as well and hunched slightly, trying to use his books to cover his dirty smock. James and Sirius snickered as the two of them drew closer. Lily was distracted by a jewelry shop, calling out excitedly to a woman who resembled her very much, to look at the display.

“Nice dress, Snivellus,” sneered James. Snape turned red, and fumbled, dropping a couple of books. Sirius was quick to retrieve them from the ground.

“Did you wipe your nose with this?” he said, holding them up between his thumb and forefinger as if it were a nasty dishrag.

“Give it here,” growled Snape, trying to make a reach for it. Sirius, having grown a good few inches over the summer, easily lifted it out of his reach.

“Ask nicely,” James smirked. Snape turned his eyes on him, red with rage. “Go on,” he taunted. “Say ‘I am a sniveling greasebag’.” Sirius and James guffawed.

“Ouch!” Sirius dropped the books and was rubbing his wrist, face twisted in pain.

“You are a sniveling greasebag.” Lily’s voice rang loudly, looking straight at James as she handed the books to Snape.

“Where did you learn a stinging hex?” Sirius asked, grudgingly impressed, still rubbing his wrist.

“Hello there, Evans!” James nodded. She glared at him, which only amused him further.

“I don’t want to talk to you,” she said coldly, walking away from them, Snape walking on beside her.

“Hey snivellus, stay close to your guard-wizard!” James called out jeeringly. Snape turned around and spat rudely, which only made James and Sirius go into fresh peals of laughter.

“That Evans packs one tough hex!” Sirius commented ruefully as they made their way together into Madam Malkin's.

“I wonder why she spends so much time with Snivellus,” he mused.

“Yeah… well, Listen - this muggle invention I was telling you about, they call it a ‘motorcycle’...”

James hardly registered any of Sirius’s ravings about motorcycles. He kept glancing in the direction Lily and Snape had just left.


A/N:

Happy Holidays everyone! Do leave a review in the spirit of Holiday. I know you've read this chapter if you've got this far. Do tell me how you're liking the pace and the story so far. I need some review cheer before I post the next one! 

Anything you recognize is JKR's ~ Books, Pottermore, supporting books ~ You name it. Some events, incidents and of course the words belong to me. Yet nothing could have been remotely possible without JKR!



Chapter 10: 3rd Year - Hogwarts, Times Three
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 James was almost nodding off over his textbook. Professor Bathsheda Babbling was animatedly waving her hands at the board and explaining something really uninteresting in her loud voice. It was his second week at Ancient Runes and he still couldn't for the life of him figure out what the whole subject was about. He squinted through his glasses at the squiggles on the board. James thought one of them looked particularly like the face of a constipated pig. Next to him, Sirius was aimlessly tearing apart the feathers on his quill. Sleep overtook him, and he almost dropped his head on the table when he felt a sharp, shooting pain in the shin which made him sit up with a jerk.

"If I have to stay awake, so do you," whispered Sirius maliciously. James glared at him, rubbing the place on his calf where Sirius had kicked him.

He glanced across the aisle and saw Remus, who was looking thoroughly bored, but taking down notes all the same. Peter seemed to be staring at the board, his eyes unfocused and mouth slightly open.

Sirius nudged James and invited him to play a game on their parchment. This led to a lot of sudden snorts and poorly disguised chuckles. A Ravenclaw sitting in front of Remus and Peter, turned around and glared at them.

“Some of us are trying to listen,” she hissed angrily at them and turned around haughtily. Sirius snickered loudly while James looked rather affronted. Remus, Peter, Lily Evans and Mary Macdonald had noticed James being told off and were smiling rather mockingly at him. James felt a ripple of annoyance at the self-satisfied smirk on Lily Evans’ face.

Sirius pulled at his sleeve, drawing his attention back to their game. James jerked his head towards the girl who had snubbed him and looked at Sirius with raised eyebrows.

“Let’s help her out then, shall we?” said Sirius grinning, meeting James’ look and picking up his wand. At the same time, they pointed their wands at the back of the Ravenclaw girl’s head.

The Ravenclaw girl shrieked loudly, clapping her hands to her ears. Unfortunately, her hands were too small to hide the fact that her ears had grown to twice the size of her head, giving her the impression of a small, trunkless elephant. The class roared in laughter, the loudest of which originated from the desks of James and Sirius. The girl burst into tears and ran out of the class. Her friend followed her, torn between amusement and pity, casting a dirty look at the laughing duo as she crossed them.

“Detention Potter and Black!” Professor Bathsheda’s loud voice sounded much closer. James looked up and saw her glowering at them.

“But Professor, she only said she was trying to listen,” protested James.

“We were only trying to help!” supplied Sirius, trying to keep a straight face.

James caught Lily’s eyes and returned her amused grin with a cocky one of his own.




“James…” Marlene came running down the charms corridor to catch up with him. “Is Gideon Prewett the new Quidditch Captain?” she asked, panting.

“Yes he is,” replied James.

“When are the tryouts? I heard the matches are going to start earlier this year.”

“Next week, I think. I’ll ask him and let you know?”

“Sure, Thanks,” she replied. Lily Evans and Adhara Selwyn had caught up to her. James nodded and turned to enter the classroom, where his friends were waiting for him. “One more thing,” she said. Her cheeks were rapidly turning pink. He looked quizzically at her. “Could you help me practice? You know, give me a few pointers?” she asked tentatively.

“Sure,” he grinned. Any excuse to get back on his Nimbus 1500. “Why don’t we make a game of it? Selwyn, Evans, why don’t you join us for a bit of two - on - two match this evening?” he invited.

“I’m - uh - heading to the library. I still haven’t finished the Potions essay due tomorrow,” Lily replied hesitantly.

“Come on Lily, you know that stuff better than anyone. Please?” pleaded Marlene turning to Lily. Lily looked uncomfortable, half glancing at James.

“Don’t bother Marlene, I’m sure Remus or Sirius will join us,” he replied coolly, walking into the class without as much as a glance in Lily’s direction.

“Is it just me or was James Potter being a bit cold to you?” He heard Marlene ask as the girls entered behind him.

“That’s just the way he usually talks,” Lily replied with a hint of disdain, “Thinks he’s too great for manners.”

James flung his bag furiously on to the empty desk next to Remus.

“What’s wrong?” asked Remus immediately. James didn’t respond but glared straight ahead.

Professor Flitwick was sitting on top of a large pile of books on his desk so that he could get a full view of the class. He was demonstrating the Augmenti charm. Water flowed out of the tip of his wand and neatly filled the goblet in front of him. James, Remus and Sirius had already mastered that charm the previous year, on account of Peter’s inadvertent pyrotechnics. The rest of the class, however, were not as adept and soon water was seeping around the soles of their shoes.

James surveyed his classmates, after having filled his goblet with a flick of his wand. There seemed to be more practice in bludger dodging techniques than in charms going around, as most people had to duck out of the way of many unsuspecting streams of water. He caught sight of Lily Evans, showing Marlene the precise wand movement. He felt a ripple of anger as her earlier words came back to him. He grinned to himself, flicking his wand in her direction and drowning her in a particularly strong jet of water.

She gasped in surprise and spluttered, turning to look at her offender. Her eyes narrowed when they landed on him.

“Sorry Professor,” James called out unnaturally loudly as Professor Flitwick hurried forward to dry her, “must have missed the target.” He grinned cheekily at her.

“I don’t think it’s him you need to be apologizing to,” Remus reminded him, gesturing to a very annoyed Lily.

“Oh but Evans knows I’m too great for manners,” he sneered, raising his eyebrows pointedly. He smiled in satisfaction in seeing her redden uncomfortably before turning to a confused Remus.




Dumbledore cleared his throat loudly. At first only the students near the teacher’s table noticed. It wasn’t customary for him to give a speech on an unassuming breakfast morning. However, silence befell the hall shortly, and everyone was looking at him with polite befuddlement.

“I’m afraid I’ll need to take a few moments of your peaceful morning meal,” he started, smiling apologetically at them. “There are a few things that are more important than food at this point.” Lily saw Sirius raise his eyebrows skeptically and suppressed a grin.

Dumbledore’s voice grew grim as he continued. “At the start of the term, I was told that the following students would be arriving later than the start of term - Amelia and Edgar Bones, Regina Flume and Rupert Hamilton. However, it gives me great sorrow to inform you that the parents of Amelia and Edgar Bones were found dead last night.”

The Great Hall broke out in mutterings at his words. The Hufflepuff house seemed quite agitated.

“The Bones’ are my father’s second cousins,” said Marlene, looking horrified.

“Also,” Dumbledore continued, raising his voice slightly. The Hall hushed, turning their attention back to him. “The Flume and Hamilton residences have been vacated, with no signs of their return.”

“Didn’t Regina write to you saying she was on an extended holiday?” whispered Mary to Dorcas. Lily shushed her.

“I’m sure many of you are aware of what is happening outside Hogwarts. In the interest of squashing rumors and unnecessary panic, allow me to brief you all on the exact facts.”

He paused for a moment. Lily saw that almost all students had sat up straighter, giving him their undivided attention.

“It is indeed true that a new Dark Wizard has risen. It is my belief that isolated events of terror and mysterious disappearances aren’t coincidences. Families are going into hiding as we speak. As your Headmaster, I urge you all to stay united, and when the time comes for you to choose a side, I implore upon you to look to either side of you, at your friends, and imagine a world without them, without your family. When the time comes, remember that what is right, is not always easy, but it is what has to be done... for the greater good.”

With that he sat down and resumed eating. The teachers seated on either side of him looked at each other warily. A somber blanket had fallen over the students. After a moment of silence, whispers broke out all around. Some were curious, some fearful and some were just grim.

“Do you think Regina-?” Mary was the first one to speak up, breaking the uncomfortable silence at the Gryffindor Table.

“I don’t know,” Dorcas replied, her voice close to a whisper. She had been the closest to Regina.

“I’m sure she is fine,” comforted Remus. “Dumbledore said the families have gone into hiding. Nothing more.”

“Yes, but why the Flumes? They just own a Pastry Shop in Hogsmeade. What could this - this Lord - person - want with them?” asked Marlene, confused.

Nobody had any answers for her. Lily’s head was swimming with all the new information. Even James and Sirius for once had nothing to say to make the mood lighter.




“Why are we sitting here, Sev?” asked Lily, frowning around at the cold Arithmancy Tower.

“We won’t be disturbed,” replied Severus, drawing his parchment closer to him, squinting at what he had written.

“Excited about next month’s Hogsmeade visit?” she asked conversationally.

“Yes,” Severus grinned, “Mulciber said he could get us all some Red Currant Rum.”

“Is that all you boys think about? Drinking?” she chided, shaking her head amusedly.

“What about girls then?” he challenged, “all you ever think about is gossip!”

“That’s not true!” she said sitting up straight indignantly, “although,” she pondered, leaning back against the stone wall,  “I heard that Dedalus Diggle was caught behind a greenhouse with Bertha Jorkins yesterday,” she said with a giggle.

“The whole school has probably heard about it,” Severus replied, rolling his eyes. “Knowing Jorkins, a highly distorted version at that!”

They laughed. Lily resumed her writing, debating happily with Severus about the height difference between short Dedalus Diggle and taller Bertha Jorkins, and the technical difficulties it must have caused them.

“What was wrong with meeting the library?” she asked after a while, uncrossing her legs and stretching them out in front of her, “my feet have lost all feeling,” she complained.

“Here,” Severus offered, flicking his wand at her feet and muttering an incantation. Lily felt a warmth spread down her legs, regaining feeling.

“Hey, thanks,” she replied. “How do you know all these spells?” she asked, wiggling her toes and admiring its effects.

“You would too, if you read up, instead of playing the fool with Potter and his mates,” he said reproachfully.

“Not them again, Sev,” she groaned. “Why do you have to bring them up in every conversation?” she frowned.

“Sorry,” he muttered. She glanced at his schedule which had slipped out of the book in front of him.

“You have Thursday afternoons off, same as me,” she observed, “Why have you never mentioned it? We could hang out.”

“Well,” he turned red for some reason, taking the parchment back from her and slipping it in between the pages of his book again, “It’s just… my friends don’t like it when I - that I’m friends with a mud - Er - you.”

“Because I am a muggleborn?” she asked sharply. She knew that nothing except the fact that they were alone would have prompted him to confess.

“I didn’t say it, they did,” he protested, “You know how it is don’t you?” He looked at her imploringly, “the purebloods, and the fact that you’re Gryffindor…”

Lily sighed. “Marlene feels the same way about you being Slytherin. She doesn’t say much, but I can see the disapproval in her eyes.”

“It’s different for me,” Severus muttered. “They tease me, taunt me.”

Lily saw that he was growing more uncomfortable.

“I wish I didn’t care about what they think,” he said after a pause, his eyes searching her face apologetically. “I wish you were-” he sighed looking down at his hands, “were in Slytherin or something,” he finished.

She had a strong feeling he hadn’t been about to say that. She looked away, her gaze moving out of the Arithmancy Tower, watching her friends zooming around on broomsticks. They were only visible as specks and she couldn’t discern who was playing.

“They called me to play, you know,” Lily mused softly.

Severus lifted his head from his parchment and followed her gaze.

“You should have gone.” There was a hint of hardness to his voice.

“Don’t be silly, I spend all day with them. I never get to spend time with you.”

“You like spending time with me?” he asked searchingly.

“Always!” she said firmly, smiling warmly at him.




Adhara narrowed her eyes at the sight of Sirius. Things had been tense between them ever since he had suspected her of switching sides at the Quidditch match. She had expected an apology at the very least. Remus, Sirius and Peter had decided to join her and Marlene for Quidditch practice. Sirius purposefully avoided her eyes. James divided them into teams with two chasers and a keeper each. She was teamed with Peter and Remus.

It was fun for a while, to play without the strain of practice or the stress of the real game. Remus was proving to be a really adept keeper. Even Peter was not too bad once he got used to being on the broom. Sirius, however, amazed both James and Adhara by exhibiting a careless grace and superior reflexes.

“Oye Sirius!” panted James, after Sirius had blocked a particularly difficult throw, “Why don’t you try out for the team?”

“Nah!” he called back, “All this practice and strategizing is too much work.”

Adhara snorted. With that attitude, he had some nerve calling her on her team loyalties. Sirius heard her and turned to glare at her. She met his gaze with cool defiance, throwing the quaffle in his direction and smiling satisfactorily when Sirius couldn’t save the goal.

After the first ten minutes, James had started interrupting the game every thirty seconds to give instructions or tips to Marlene. James seemed to be taking his role as a coach pretty seriously. And by the rapt look on Marlene’s face, she was lapping up every word he was saying.

The session was brought to an abrupt end by Sirius claiming moodily that he didn’t want to spend all night being suspended in the cold mid-air. As they all trudged back, lugging their broomsticks behind them, Sirius fell into step with her. It wasn’t by design and he didn’t seem much too pleased about it. The air was uncomfortable, and before Adhara could help it the words were torn out of her mouth.

“Hey.”

Sirius grunted in response.

“You’ve been avoiding me,” she said, coming straight to the point.

“Me?” He had the gall to look indignant. “You’ve been acting up since the match last year.”

“Acting up?” It was her turn to be indignant now. “You practically mauled me for displaced loyalties, and never even apologized-”

“Why should I?” he demanded. She was taken aback. “I confronted you and you didn’t say anything. I only believed what I saw. I have nothing to apologize for.”

She opened her mouth to retort but found that she had nothing to say in her defense. he had made a very valid point. She was about to relent when saw the haughty expression in his face.

“Fine,” she said stiffly. She marched forward and said “Marlene, you coming?” she snapped. Marlene looked startled. She half-glanced at James reluctantly but James had already turned to Sirius. Her face seemed to fall a little as she joined Adhara and they walked in silence, each engrossed in their own thoughts.

“How was the game?” Dorcas inquired as they entered the dorm.

“Awesome!” exclaimed Marlene, falling back on her bed with a content look on her face. Adhara looked at her funnily. It hadn’t been that great. Marlene continued to gaze dreamily at nothing in particular. Dorcas raised her eyebrows at Adhara.

“It was okay,” she shrugged her shoulder, giving Marlene a bemused look before going to wash up.

Marlene was still gushing about the session when Adhara came back. “- and then James taught me this swerve. I swear I didn’t think I could do it but James-”

“She hasn’t stopped since you left,” Mary said to Adhara wryly. Marlene glared at her.

“It was pretty useful, that’s all I’m saying,” said Marlene huffily.

“Oh that’s what you were saying?” said Dorcas in mock-realization, “I thought you were just talking about how wonderful James Potter was,” she smirked.

“Yeah, he’s a good flier. What’s wrong in saying that?” said Marlene defensively. Adhara could see her face flush as she spoke.

“Your mouth says he’s a good flier, your eyes say you want to snog him!” teased Dorcas.

“They do not! Why would they?” Marlene sat up indignantly.

“You have a crush on Potter,” pointed out Mary.

“Who has a crush on Potter?” Adhara turned to see Lily entering their dorm, directing the question at Mary with a frown of confusion.

“Marlene,” supplied Dorcas.

“No!” she denied.

Adhara could see her blushing furiously. “Yes, you do,” she said, suddenly realizing something, “That’s why you were so annoyed when I interrupted you both back there.”

“I was - No... It isn’t,” she spluttered. Unable to bear their knowing grins she fell back on the bed, pulling a pillow across her face.

“You fancy Potter?” asked Lily seriously.

“I don’t!” a muffled voice came from behind the pillow.

“She does,” mouthed Dorcas nodding solemnly at Lily as Adhara and Mary snickered in agreement.




“You came out of detention, with another detention?” asked Remus incredulously, looking between Sirius and James. Neither had the grace to look ashamed. On the contrary, they seemed quite proud of themselves.

“Well it was not our fault entirely, wolfie,” started Sirius defensively. “We had just worked hard at polishing those relics Babbling told us to.”

“Really hard. Like house elves,” supplied James, nodding solemnly.

“We were tired, and decided to take a shortcut back to the common room.”

“Who should we see on the way? Peeves!” said James shaking his head in mock-surprise.

“And Mrs. Norris,” added Sirius.

“And Mrs. Norris,” agreed James, “Peeves was trying to stuff her into an armor.”

“Now, what kind of humanitarians would we be if we didn’t go and help - er - her?” said Sirius, his eyes wide with innocence. Remus looked suspiciously between the two of them.

“And?” asked Peter, listening intently. Remus gave him a look.

“We tried to help. But we are just third years,” continued James.

“Yes. Wizards in training. Lot of uncontrolled magic,” said Sirius in a pained voice. Remus rolled his eyes.

“And how can we be blamed if she ended up hanging from the chandelier by her tail?” asked James innocently.

“Who caught you?” asked Remus in a bored voice.

“Professor McGonagall,” said James sulkily, “She even docked off points. We begged her forgiveness,”

“I’ll bet,” said Remus sarcastically. He knew well what would have happened. They would have just snickered through McGonagall’s admonitions or at the very least failed miserably at trying to keep a straight face.

“You always have no faith in us, Wolfie,” said Sirius in a mock-hurt voice.

“You never give me reason to,” smirked Remus.

“Anyway,” said James, his tone snapping back to normal, “Now I can’t very well ask her for that note we need to get that book out of the restricted section.”

“Oh no,” groaned Peter, “You’re the best at transfiguration in our class. She would have given you without any suspicion.”

“What book?” asked Remus, startled. The thought of James expressing a wish to go to the library was shocking enough, much less wanting to acquire a note from a teacher for it. He highly doubted that Professor McGonagall would have found that ordinary.

“The one Professor McGonagall talked about in class the other day,” explained Peter. “About Animagus transfiguration.”

“You’ve started that crazy plan again?” asked Remus raising his eyebrows exasperated.

“It’s not crazy,” replied James indignantly.

“And we never stopped planning. Keep up, Wolfie!” said Sirius.

“It’s really dangerous. You heard what McGonagall said in class about how complicated it is. Only seven wizards in the world have managed to succeed. What makes you think that a bunch of underage wizards - with lots of uncontrolled magic,” - Remus looked at Sirius pointedly - “can pull it off?”

“We’ll never know if we never try,” grinned James.

“It’s all about confidence, Wolfie,” drawled Sirius.

“It’s more about skill,” said Remus dryly, “and why do you keep calling me that?” he asked Sirius.

“Because you’re a werewolf. Werewolf - Wolf - Wolfie. Get it?”

“Of course I get it,” Remus said indignantly, “Lower your voice will you? Too many people know as it is. And listen, I’m used to being a - a… well, I’m used to this situation. I don’t want you all doing something crazy because of some stupid notion of trying to help me. I have lived with it for so long, and I can continue to do so,” he finished firmly.

Sirius and James looked at each other and rolled their eyes.

“We knew you’d say this,” replied James with a smile.

“Stop mooning around, Wolf-”

“I’m not mooning,” said Remus furiously.

“Of course you are,” pointed out Sirius, “‘I’ve lived with it for so long… I’m used to the pain’,” mocked Sirius, clutching his heart dramatically as Peter and James started laughing.  

“Maybe we should call him Moony instead,” suggested Peter between laughs.

“No, thank you-” started Remus, alarmed.

“No wait, that makes sense. You moon about your situation, which incidentally is intimately associated with the moon,” said James, sitting up, his eyes wide. “You’re Moony.”

Remus looked huffily at his three friends rolling around in laughter, pointing to him. He knew it was hopeless to try and talk them out of their crazy schemes. Besides, there was still the very real possibility of them seeing for themselves how impossible the process would be and abandoning it.

“Well,” James said after they had all stopped laughing, “there still remains a very real problem of getting the note from McGonagall.”

“Why don’t we ask Peter or Moony himself?” suggested Sirius. Remus scowled. Was that name going to stick?

“No, it might come back to us,” said James thoughtfully.

“Well it obviously would have if you had walked up to her and asked,” pointed out Remus. Everyone ignored him.

“Why don’t we ask one of the girls?” suggested Peter.

“And while we’re at it, why don’t we tell them our plan and ask them to bless us,” said Sirius sarcastically.

“No, Peter has a point,” said James seriously, “McGonagall wouldn’t suspect them. And they would never guess what we are up to.”

Sirius looked doubtful and Remus silently agreed with him. The plan was crazy enough without incriminating other people. But before they could pull him down, James had gotten up and was walking to the corner where the girls were sitting.

“Be polite!” called out Remus in a loud whisper, hoping James would dearly pay heed.

“Hey, did you lot finish your essay on Animagus Transfiguration?”

“Why?” asked Lily, raising her eyebrows.

“We’re not letting you copy ours,” replied Mary.

“Why would I want to copy yours?” he asked haughtily. Remus groaned, dropping his head into his palm.

“What did you want James,” cut in Marlene before Mary could retort angrily.

“Actually,” he cast a nervous glance towards Remus, “I need this book from the library. It’s in the Restricted Section. I was - Er - hoping one of you could help get a note - Er...please?”

“You must want that book real bad,” observed Dorcas. “He said please,” she pointed out to Lily shrugging.

“Why can’t you get the note?” asked Lily, suspiciously.

“It’s for transfiguration homework, this essay actually,” he said gesturing to Mary’s parchment. She frowned at him, not having forgotten his previous snub. “McGonagall isn’t exactly pleased with me at the moment. But you know I really like transfiguration, it would be good if I could refer it.”

“Well, sorry to break it to you Potter, but we are not your minions to do your bidding-” began Lily hotly.

“I’ll ask,” offered Marlene brightly, “Just write down which book, and I’ll talk to McGonagall.”

James grinned, scribbled on a scrap piece of parchment. Lily threw Marlene a dirty look as James returned to join Remus and Sirius.

“That was easy,” said Peter briskly.

“That’s probably the easiest part in this whole insane plan,” replied Remus dryly.

“Lighten up Moony, you’ll be singing a different tune later,” said Sirius clapping Remus enthusiastically on the back.

“Is Moony going to stick?” asked Remus wearily.

“Yup,” affirmed Sirius.


A/N:

Hello my lovely readers! I'm really sorry for the delay in posting this chapter. My laptop broke, and it was the holiday season, so I wasn't able to get it fixed soon enough. I've finished writing 17 chapters, so the updates will come a little quicker from now on. I hope none of you have give up on this story! Do let me know what you think of this chapter in that little box down there. Reviews are belated Christmas gifts!



Chapter 11: 3rd Year - Impulses
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The moonlight shone through the window. It was past midnight and four boys were huddled on a bed towards the deep end of the hospital ward.

“This book says there are thirty two steps to becoming Animagus,” announced James in a loud whisper.

“Thirty Two?” squeaked Peter, peeking into the large open book. “Some of these are weird. Look, step nine says you have to gargle your mouth with Barnacle juice every hour for two days.”

“Better than step twenty-seven,” said Sirius darkly. “Go without food for twenty-four hours.” He shook his head in horror.

“Well, that takes you out of the running, doesn’t it?” smirked Remus.

“I’m certainly having second thoughts now,” replied Sirius, shifting his position. Remus winced as the movement caused Peter’s sleeve to graze against his fresh wounds.

“Sorry,” muttered Peter guiltily.

Remus glanced at the top of James’ head which was bent over the book earnestly.

“Listen, a majority of these steps are incantations and charms we need to perform on ourselves,” informed James, lifting his head.

“Piece of cake,” said Sirius carelessly.

“No it’s not,” argued Remus. “These incantations look tricky. And you will need to get them exactly right. Look at this illustration of a person who failed to say the right syllable, and ended up with webbed feet, webbed hands and a beak for life.”

James, Sirius and Peter roared with laughter. Remus, who had thought he was making a convincing argument, was initially affronted but reluctantly gave in to the humor of the picture.

“Shhh,” he cautioned, casting a nervous look at Madam Pomfrey’s closed door. “She could wake up!”

That sobered the others up. James picked up the book and turned the page, holding his face close to it under the dim lighting. He was looking at it for a long time. Remus was surprised that James was not even distracted when Peter wore his Invisibility Cloak and walked around with just his hands outstretched, trying to pinch Sirius’ cheeks.  He finally straightened up. The others turned to look at him. Peter’s cloak slipped down to his neck so that only his head was visible suspended midair.

“Transfiguration is more about the mind than about the incantation or wand work. You need to picture it happening. Every cell in your brain needs to want your spell to work. These spells are no different.”

“What about all the side effects listed? What if something goes wrong?” insisted Remus.

“It won’t,” said James firmly. “It’s all about understanding the ‘why’. The theory talks about preparing every single cell in your body to morph into another species altogether. All these charms and processes, they are to target and condition something in our body they keep referring to as - Er - deena - no - erm - it’s spelt D-N-A. Anyway, it is to get the cells ready for the final transformation. It is pretty simple when you look at it that way.”

Silence followed his explanation. Peter seemed to be struggling to process it while Remus continued to look doubtful. But it was Sirius who James looked directly at.

“I think we can do this. What do you say?” he asked. Remus knew that the implementation of the plan depended solely on Sirius’ validation. He knew the outcome even before Sirius opened his mouth to reply.

“I say, tell me what’s step one.” Sirius shrugged, smirking.

James grinned widely, turning to look at Peter questioningly. His floating head seemed to have a slightly dazed expression, looking nervously between James and Sirius. He then broke into a toothy smile and tilted his head as if to say yes. Remus sighed.

“If you must,” he resigned, “but don’t expect me to sympathize with you when you-” he peeked sideways into the book, “Er - erupt painful boils all over your privates,” he quoted with a grimace.

As he listened to James and Sirius launch into a discussion, he couldn’t help feeling a surge of excitement himself. Their confidence seemed to rub off on him, and he allowed himself to think, for a moment, that they might really succeed.




“Hogsmeade!” squealed Marlene.

Lily’s face reflected Marlene’s excitement as she walked down the High Street with the girls. She had heard so much about Hogsmeade, and couldn’t wait to see for herself. It was better than she had imagined it to be.

What she hadn’t bargained for, however, was an afternoon spent in the company of James Potter and Sirius Black. Marlene had dragged her to them, halfway through their visit, ignoring her protests. Adhara, Dorcas and Mary were nowhere to be seen. Marlene and James had launched into one of their usual Quidditch chats. She looked around the Three Broomsticks, sighing. Maybe she would catch sight of Severus somewhere. He had said they would run into each other.

“It’s tough to get James to stop talking when he starts about Quidditch,” said Remus, looking at her. She snapped her attention to him.

“I’d have thought it was tough to get him to stop talking, in general,” she replied.

Remus grinned at her. “You seem to know him well.”

“Doesn’t everyone? He isn’t exactly a quiet personality,” she pointed out laughing. Remus joined in.

“I can see you’re bored. You don’t like Quidditch much, do you?” he asked.

“Oh no! I’m fascinated by it. I would love to play someday. I just don’t know much about it,” she said sadly.

“Which position would you fancy playing?” joined in Sirius, taking a long swig of his butterbeer.

She considered this for a moment. “I’d like to play seeker,” she decided.

“Seeker?” said Sirius, surprised.

“Yes, seeker. It’s quite exciting. The one player who has the power to change the ending.”

“That is so unfair!” James turned indignantly, “we Chasers do all the work, sweat it out, dodge bludgers and score goals. Why do seekers get all the credit?”

“Finding a small golden ball under the bright sunlight is much more difficult that flying with a huge ball under your arm,” she pointed out.

“Well it’s a good thing you’re not our seeker then,” replied James, clearly ruffled. “Seekers have to be discreet. But you would hardly be able to do that with the top of your head looking like a giant tomato.”

Lily sat up furiously. “Your hair smells like a rat died in it!” she shot back. “I’m going to join the others in Honeydukes. You stay here if you want,” she said to Marlene, vacating her chair and walking ahead.

“Hey Evans!” James called.

She turned around half expecting him to apologize, or maybe call her back.

“Next time bring a hat. Your hair almost blinded me!” He guffawed with Sirius and Peter sniggering. Remus wasn’t laughing but definitely seemed to be fighting back a smile.

“It’s a pity it didn’t finish the job,” she retorted coldly, fuming out.


“Why do you have to do that?” asked Remus reproachfully as Marlene excused herself from their company as well.

“Hey, it’s not my fault she doesn’t have a sense of humor,” protested James. “What’s life without a few laughs?”

Sirius agreed with James, claiming that Evans shouldn’t be taking life too seriously. After spending a happy hour in Zonkos, the four of them emerged with their pockets bulging and carrying a bag of supplies. They made their way up the castle, debating seriously whether their new Defense against the Dark Arts professor was a part vampire or not.

“...when Fawcett pulled out that garlic clove inadvertently. He went so pale, and vomited,” said Peter.

“I think that had more to do with the stench of rotten garlic than anything else,” argued Sirius.

“Remus, what do you think?” asked James, “Your dad deals with dark creatures right?”

“Well, I wouldn’t call vampires as creatures,” considered Remus fairly, “I mean aren’t they as human as werewolves?” He raised his eyebrows.

“Only you would stick up for vampires, Moony,” smirked Sirius.

“Can we stop it with the Moony?” Remus asked frowning irately.

“Nope! Moony!” said James laughing.

“James Potter?” a first year came running up to them, addressing James tentatively. Sirius recognized him as a Hufflepuff midget. “Professor McGonagall wants to see you and Mr. Pettigrew right away,” he panted.

“Why?” asked James, bewildered.

“I don’t know.” The first year looked nervous and seemed to shrink when James glowered at him. “She mentioned something about whistling teacups,” he admitted. “But she asked me not to tell you,” he added worriedly, hurrying away before James could pry anything more out of him.

“Oh no!” James groaned, “We never took the charm off. Come on, Peter,” he sighed. “I’ll meet you both back at the common room.”

Sirius and Remus made their way together to the common room, debating what kind of punishment McGonagall would set the other two. As they crossed the third floor, they heard a loud bang. They jumped, looking around in confusion when a scream followed close after. Sirius and Remus whipped out their wands in reflex and moved quickly towards the sound. There was another bang, and a squeal, which led them to a seemingly empty classroom. Remus burst open the door. The sight that greeted them was not pleasant.

Rigel Swleyn was standing with his wand outstretched, a maniacal glint in his eyes. He was pointing his wand at a girl, who was doubled up clutching her arms to her stomach, her long hair hiding her face. Sirius recognized with a jolt that it was Adhara.

Protego,” Remus screamed, causing a shield to erupt between Rigel and Adhara. Rigel turned his wand to Remus.

“Get out,” he snarled.

“What did you do to her?” demanded Remus. Sirius saw that Adhara was gasping in pain.

“This is a family issue. It doesn’t concern you,” said Rigel. He was breathing hard. “Leave now, if you know what is good for you,” he said menacingly.

“Oh, I think we’ll take our chances with that,” replied Sirius casually, “What say Moony?”

Rigel moved his wand hand to hurl a curse at them, but Sirius and Remus hit him with two different curses at the same time. The effect seemed to hurtle him back into the stone wall, where he crashed and slid to the floor unconscious, with blood trickling down the side of his forehead.

Remus was the first one to rush to Adhara’s side. Sirius joined him second later after a contemptuous look at Rigel. Adhara was on her knees, clutching her hands close to her stomach, and rocking forward. Her long, black, wavy hair was in disarray.

“What did he do?” asked Remus gently.

She looked up at him, Sirius saw that her eyes were red and tears had streaked her face. She had spots of dirt on her neck. He saw that she had not been clutching her stomach, but her wand hand. She held it close to her chest. Remus gently tugged at her hand. Her reluctance seemed to ebb away at Remus’ concerned tone. She extended her hand to him. Sirius’ eyes widened at the sight. There was a long deep gash on her forearm. The front of her robes was stained with blood. The blood around the wound had clotted to a deep black, and the flesh seemed to be emitting wisps of red and black smoke. She winced as Remus carefully took a closer look, almost with a critical eye. Sirius didn’t think as he instinctively placed his arm around her shoulders, drawing her into a hug. At that action, she burst into tears, sobbing into his chest.

Sirius looked at Remus bewildered. “What do I do?” he mouthed.

Remus looked just as confused. He indicated Sirius to pat her head. Sirius tried to reach her head but his hand got tangled in her hair. He settled for awkwardly patting her ear instead. Remus smirked at his discomfort. Sirius glared at him. Her sobs subsided after a while.

“Let’s get Madam Pomfrey to take a look at that,” suggested Remus gently. She winced again, and Sirius gripped her shoulders to support her. Remus retrieved her wand which had rolled under a desk. Sirius grinned approvingly when Remus aimed an angry kick at the unconscious Rigel as the passed.

She seemed to steady herself as they walked, but Sirius didn’t remove his arm. He glanced uncomfortably at the smoking wound and saw Adhara’s lips trembling from the pain. He felt a surge of anger towards Rigel, as his fingers tightened protectively around her shoulders.


“What did she say?” asked Dorcas anxiously as Remus Lupin walked into the common room.

They had had no information since Sirius Black and Lupin had admitted Adhara in the Hospital Wing. Professor McGonagall had taken Lupin and Black in for questioning, and they had come out an hour later, looking weary but without information. They had been turned out at least fifteen times by Madam Pomfrey.
Professor McGonagall had refused to divulge any information, and threatened them with detention if they bothered her again.

Resigning to ignorance, the eight of them had been huddled together in the common room, speculating and worrying incessantly when much to everyone’s surprise, Lupin had claimed to have some clout with Madam Pomfrey. The last twenty minutes of Lupin’s absence had been filled by Black’s retelling of the incident, which they had all heard thrice already, but nevertheless provided for some conversation. Everyone stopped talking and looked at Lupin expectantly when he joined them. Louis, Clarence and Jake who had been occasionally glancing over at the group leaned in as well.

“It's not looking good,” said Lupin gravely. “I wasn't allowed to see her, but Madam Pomfrey was talking to someone about bringing in Healers from St. Mungos. She said the wound shows clear signs of dark magic.”

“What does that mean?” asked Lily, fearfully.

“It means, the wound may never heal, she may never be able to use her hand again. It means the curse could spread…”

“Stop!” cried Mary, looking distraught. Marlene stopped mid-sentence, averting her eyes. Mary had started sobbing silently into her hands. Lily looked aghast. Dorcas’ heart sank a little. She hardly knew Adhara, but the thought of her own brother using dark magic on her was revolting. Dorcas was not able to tell what the boys were thinking. Sirius Black’s face was unreadable. Lupin and Pettigrew looked sympathetic. Potter just seemed highly uncomfortable.

“Why aren’t they transporting her to Mungo’s instead? Wouldn’t that be easier,” asked Marlene. Dorcas looked at Remus for clarification.  It did seem a very valid point.

“I… don’t know,” he resigned. “All I heard was bits of a hushed conversation. From what I gathered, somebody didn’t want her moved out of Hogwarts.”

“Surely Dumbledore would want her to receive top medical care,” said Lily frowning.

“Maybe he doesn’t want word to get out that a Hogwarts student performed Dark Magic,” suggested James with raised eyebrows.

“Not Dumbledore,” spoke up Dorcas. All eyes turned to her. She should have guessed earlier. Her father had been an Auror. She knew the drill like the back of her hand. “The Ministry doesn’t want it getting out.”

“The Ministry?” said Lily, surprised. “But I thought they were against Dark Magic?”

“They care more about what the public sees than what they actually do. If word got out that an underage wizard performed Dark Magic under Dumbledore’s nose, the public would lose faith in them. They would have to launch an official inquiry and this would be blown up. The Ministry would rather sweep it under the carpet,” she said scornfully.

“At the risk of Adhara’s life?” Lily burst out furiously. “I’m going to talk to Professor McGonagall and ask them what they’re playing at!” Lily actually got up.

“Sit down,” said Marlene, pulling her down.

“Why?” Lily looked quite upset. “Why should we keep quiet?” Her voice was trembling as if she was about to cry. But, to Dorcas’ surprise, tears weren’t what came next. “The Ministry is keeping quiet. Dumbledore is keeping QUIET. Pomfrey is keeping QUIET.”

“I’m sure Dumbledore won’t let anything happen to-” Lupin started reassuringly.

“HOW DO YOU KNOW?” Lily shrieked, rounding on him. She looked quite unstable. “He let her get attacked IN THIS CASTLE! By her own brother! And now… Now they’re refusing proper treatment in the interest of… of … THE GREATER GOOD?”

Lupin looked uncomfortable as she glowered at him, her reddish-orange hair gave the impression of emitting sparks from her head.

“Lily…” Dorcas started slowly, hoping she could get her to stop shouting.

“YOU are all a bunch of HYPOCRITES!” she shouted, turning on her heel and stormed out of the Portrait hole.

The common room was suddenly silent. The other students were staring at them. Louis looked mildly interested, Clarence and Jake looked surprised at Lily’s outburst. Dorcas couldn’t blame them, and exchanged a bewildered look with Marlene herself. She didn’t know Lily all that well, but she had never seen her lose her cool this way. She was hoping Marlene would be able to handle whatever this was. Then James Potter took everyone by surprise by getting up and swiftly walking after her.

“All right now,” said Remus sardonically to the common room at large, “The curtain’s down, nothing more to see here!”

Conversations resumed with lowered mutterings, as there was a general scuffle of people getting back to their work. Dorcas suddenly felt weary. If this was so stressful, she could only imagine what her father must have gone through as an Auror.


“Evans! Hey!” James called out, striding to catch up with her.

“WHAT?” she rounded on him. He took a couple of steps so he was directly in front of her.

“Careful there Evans, you’re breathing fire,” he said lightly chuckling.

She looked at him with contempt and turned around.

“Evans!” he called out again.

“DON’T!” she growled, spinning around to face him. “This isn’t one of your JOKES, Potter! This is ADHARA!” she shouted.

“I know-” started James hotly.

“You DON’T KNOW!” she yelled. “None of you KNOW.” Tears were streaming down her face but she didn’t seem to notice. “To you and everyone in there, magic is just there. Always has been there. None of you KNOW what magic really means. I was chosen. I KNOW the other side. I thought Magic had the answer to everything. Magic could save anything, change anything, heal anything. And now, Adhara is just lying there, without even being given a CHANCE. Like hundreds out there are suffering and dying when we could have the answers. Don’t tell me YOU KNOW, POTTER. Because, YOU REALLY, REALLY DON’T!”

She was breathing hard when she finished, raising a shaky hand to rub the tears off her cheeks. James thought she was being really naive.

“Magic doesn’t have all the answers,” he said, shaking his head. “We can’t save everything. Maybe what we can see. And even that, there are no guarantees,” he said.

“Are you telling-” Lily began furiously.

“I’m not saying something will happen to Adhara,” he cut in, raising his voice above hers. “I’m saying, you need to be realistic here. People say there’s a Dark Wizard. There are riots, and murders. We can’t save them all. If there’s injustice in our way, we can fight it. But we can’t afford to go out of our way. We can’t save the world.” He raised his eyebrows.

“I’m not talking about the world, Potter,” said Lily, narrowing her eyes at him. “But if it comes to that, I won’t go down without a fight.”

“It’s not worth fighting a losing battle,” he said, shrugging.

She looked at him in contempt. “It’s because of people like you that battles are lost, in the first place,” she replied coldly.

This time when she walked away from him, James didn’t want to call her back. He didn’t even know what had possessed him to go after her in the first place. There was something about her expression that had automatically called out to him. Now, he thought she was being foolish. Acting like she knew what it was to live in the magic world. She hardly even understood half the things. He had heard of people dying in battle, suffering. And all for what? There would always be another Dark Wizard who would come right along. His grandfather had lived in the times of Grindelwald. Now, his grandfather was gone, Grindelwald was gone, but there was another.

But watching her retreat, something inexplicable snapped inside him. Giving in to his impulse yet again, he called out -

“Hey Evans!” he jogged up to her. She stopped and turned her eyes on him. “Where are you going?”

“Why do you care? I thought I was fighting a losing battle,” she said sarcastically.

“Well, If you’re going down, might as well have company, right?” he grinned. He saw the corners of her mouth twitch. But she turned away and kept walking without an answer.

A few steps ahead, she stopped and looked back at him. For the first time, James noticed a twinkle in her green eyes. “Coming, Potter?”


“Where did you go?” demanded Dorcas as Lily and James clambered back into the common room an hour later. “Lupin and I came out to search for you but couldn’t find you anywhere.” Her glasses slid down slightly as she frowned at the two of them.

“To talk with McGonagall,” said Lily triumphantly. Everyone sat up a little straighter.

“And?” asked Marlene impatiently.

“Adhara is conscious but in a lot of pain. None of Madam Pomfrey’s remedies seem to be working. An Advanced Healer is being sent for as we speak. They will assess her wounds and shift her to St. Mungo’s if needed,” she informed the attentive audience.

“How did you get her to tell you all this?” asked Mary, impressed.

“It was actually Potter who got it out of her,” admitted Lily fairly. “She was still being elusive when I asked, but Potter talked it out of her. She seemed quite upset about the ordeal.”

“What about Rigel?” Sirius spoke up for the first time since he had left the Hospital Wing earlier that evening.

“Rigel Selwyn is facing suspension as of now, pending inquiry,” replied James.

“Well,” started Dorcas briskly after a couple of moment’s silence. “There doesn’t seem to be anything we can do now. I suggest we all go to bed.”

There was a murmur of assent, following which one by one the group trooped up their dormitories. Remus and Peter had gone ahead with Sirius trudging behind them closely accompanied by the Dorm B blokes.

“Goodnight James,” called Marlene brightly.

He turned around to respond in kind but she had already gone up the stairs. His eyes fell on Lily, who, like him, was the last to depart.

“For someone who thought it was a losing battle, you sure as hell fought pretty hard back there,” said Lily, smirking at him.

“I was just trying to avoid another detention. I‘m still not done with my previous set of detentions with McGonagall,” he replied, shrugging.

She raised her eyebrows slightly and then suddenly smiled at him. The warmth in her eyes drew a soft smile across his lips.

“Goodnight, Potter,” she said.

“Goodnight, Evans,” he said, raising his chin. They headed opposite ways up to their dorms. He stopped at the first step and turned around, just in time to see a swish of red hair disappear around the curve of the girls’ staircase.

For the third time that day, James had given in to his inexplicable impulse.


Adhara was lying on her side, staring unfocused and unblinking at the empty bed next to her. She guessed by the shade of the bluish light sprawling across the white sheets that it could be well past midnight. The goblet of sleeping draught she had been instructed to take lay untouched on her bedside. She heard the door creak and quickly squeezed her eyes shut, pretending to be asleep. She didn’t want to deal with Madam Pomfrey right then.

“Adhara?”

Her eyes flew open.

“Sirius!” she whispered in surprise, rolling onto her back and trying to sit up. Sirius reached out and straightened her pillow, helping her into a sitting position. He then sat next to her on the bed, leaning back and supporting himself on his hands.

“What’s going to happen to Rigel?” he asked, looking sideways at her.

“They told me father took him home today,” she replied bitterly.

He raised his eyebrows slightly. She shrugged and looked away, willing herself not to succumb to the surge of emotions that had risen when the words escaped her mouth.

“Your friends tried to come over a number of times today,” he said, seeing right through her like he always did. “Evans almost wanted to take out James’ eye just for an excuse to get inside here.”

She met his grin with a grateful smile.

“Well, did she?”

“I don’t think McKinnon would have let her,” he said with a knowing grin.

“Is it that obvious?” laughed Adhara.

“Not to James, it isn’t,” replied Sirius. “To the rest of us, however, it couldn’t have been plainer if she had walked around with a sign pinned to her forehead!”

Adhara felt some of her pain ebb away as they laughed together.

“What are doing here?” she asked him softly.

“Well, I was in the neighborhood and just thought I’d drop by,” replied Sirius carelessly.

“Right, because you just usually wander around the castle in the dead of the night,” she said, rolling her eyes.

“I am not going to deny that,” he said with a wink. He glanced at her heavily bandaged arm. “How’s that?” he asked.

“Painful,” she admitted with a grimace. The careless grin had left Sirius’ face and he continued to look at her arm.

“Why did he do it?” he asked, after a moment’s silence had passed.

She shrugged.

“You remember what we did to him at that dinner party when we were nine?” he asked suddenly, smiling broadly.

“Remember? It was the most fun I had ever had at one of those insanely boring events!” she said, smiling reminiscently. “You talked me into stealing my mother’s wand to set fire to Rigel’s pants!”

“In all fairness, he had been mean to me,” defended Sirius, grinning proudly.

“All he said was ‘get out of my way, midget’,” she reminded him, chuckling.

“Well, that was mean,” Sirius pointed out. “And untrue. I have always been tall for my age,” he said haughtily.

“My, my Black! I swear I almost saw your mother in you just now,” she joked.

He instantly scowled. “I didn’t come here risking detention to be insulted, you know,” he replied huffily. She laughed further thinking he was just playing with her, but when he continued to frown, she started to wonder if she really had offended him.

“Sirius! Git! You know I didn’t mean that,” she said earnestly.

“Yeah okay,” he replied moodily.

She tried to get his mood back to normal a few more times but he just continued to sulk. She sighed regretfully and the next few moments passed in uncomfortable silence. It suddenly felt like someone had opened the window and let the drought in. The pain in her arm seemed to be back. She massaged her shoulder absently, trying to relieve the referred pain at the very least.

“You haven’t taken your Sleeping Draught,” he observed. His voice wasn’t hard anymore but it was still distant.

“Yeah, I forgot,” she said unconvincingly.

He raised his eyebrows. She looked at him defiantly, but knew he had seen through her. He reached out and picked up the goblet. “Nobody is going to hurt you in here,” he said, offering it to her. She took it from him but kept it between the clasps of her hands.

“I don’t want to go home,” she whispered. The minute those words left her mouth she felt tears pricking her eyes. She looked down at her hands and blinked them away rapidly.

“You don’t have to, if you don’t want to,” he said, smiling reassuringly at her.

He nudged her hand and she raised the goblet to her lips, taking a sip. A warm feeling spread from the tip of her tongue to every part the liquid touched. She emptied the goblet in the second sip. Sirius got up and took a step closer and for a second Adhara thought he was going to hug her again. She could have used one right about then. He reached out but simply straightened the pillow against which she was leaning.

“Take care, Adhara,” he said with a brisk nod and walked away, leaving Adhara feeling much lighter that she was feeling before he had come along.


“I’m really worried about Adhara,” said Lily, looking stricken. Snape looked up from his parchment across the library table.

“What did they say?” he asked.

“The healers came this morning. They still haven’t finished assessing her.” Lily looked quite distressed. Her hand lying on top of the table clenched slightly. He felt a sudden impulse to reach out and clasp it with his own.

“She’ll be alright,” he replied shrugging, tearing his eyes away from her delicate, pale fingers.

“Yes, but what if she isn’t?” Lily turned her big, worried eyes on him. “Marlene says that Dark Curses are unpredictable.”

He shifted in his seat slightly. “They are,” he replied, “But they also depend enormously on the castor, his emotions at the time and his skill. If it is the first time Selwyn used that curse, I highly doubt that the full extent of intended damage would been done.” He spoke with an air of indifference.

Full extent? Sev, that sounds horrible!” she exclaimed in horror. He immediately regretted his words. He saw her fingers tighten and tremble slightly. He wanted to place his own above theirs. His hand twitched slightly as if wanting to act on its own accord. He clasped them together tightly and looked into her face.

“Let’s not assume anything before we have all the information,” he said practically.

“But Sev-” She looked thoroughly distraught.

“Lily, you’re just wearing yourself out with all this worry,” he cut in gently. She sighed and continued to look anxious. He wanted to say something to ease her pain. He wasn’t able to think of anything reassuring. Back when they were kids he was always able to cheer her up with magic. He suddenly had an idea. He tapped his wand on her quill, muttering a spell. The quill shrunk and transformed into a miniature white lily flower, that opened and closed every five seconds. He saw her eyes widen, the worry replaced by wonder. He saw the sides of her mouth upturn and felt a warmth of satisfaction spread through his chest. He would be able to make her smile as long as he could do magic like that.

“Where did you learn to do that?” she asked, regarding him with awe.

He shrugged, feeling his ears heat up. “I read it somewhere,” he replied.

“This is really advanced magic, Sev,” she said holding it in her palm and watching it wide eyed.

“There’s a spell you can use so that it never wilts,” he supplied, pleased at her reaction. “Here-” He tapped the flower with his wand once more, and gold sparks emitted from the tip and was swallowed by the lily.

“Thank you, Sev,” she said, her startling green eyes meeting his eager black ones in gratitude. Her other hand lay on the table, just inches away from his. He reached out, but in the last second his fingers closed around a parchment instead.

For the third time that day, Severus had refrained from giving in to his impulse.


A/N:

Hello folks! This is an important chapter to me as it starts to show the difference between James and Snape... to provide a little more insight into why Lily chose James. I know there are Snily fans out there - but Jily forever!

Do let me know what you think!

Thank you to my lovely readers, reviewers and my wonderful beta Felpata Lupin!


Chapter 12: 3rd Year - Love Struck, Much?
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 Nobody knew how the news about Adhara Selwyn’s shift to St. Mungo’s spread through the school in such rapidity. Speculations about what really happened ranged from the near truth to things as far fetched as her being attacked by a werewolf in the Forbidden Forest. The latter was the object of many Remus-related joked among James, Sirius and Peter. Professor McGonagall had the weary job of constantly assuring the persistent Gryffindor third years that Adhara was in no danger and simply needed to be kept under observation as she recuperated.

Adhara’s absence was felt most at the quidditch pitch. With an important upcoming match against Slytherin, tensions were running high in the Gryffindor team. One particularly disastrous practice session ended in an open brawl between the Slytherin and Gryffindors when the Slytherin players who had come out to taunt them. The gamekeeper Ogg and his assistant Hagrid had to come and break up the fight. Hagrid caught James around the middle, lifting him up easily. James kept kicking at the air in front of him, trying to reach for his wand, his glasses askew and lip bleeding. Marlene’s cheek was suffering from a nasty cut and her hair disheveled, with a chunk of mud sticking to it.

They trooped into the common room, muddy, bloody and dejected.

Mary gasped at the sight of Marlene and James. “What happened?”

Marlene and James cast sullen looks at their audience.

“Have you found a new chaser yet?” asked Lily, whipping out her wand to clean them up.

“No,” grunted James, pushing Peter to the side of the couch and sinking onto it. “Weasley wants to wait till next week. I personally feel it would be better if we get it over with now. I think he is still counting on Selwyn’s return.”

“Isn’t the match in two weeks?” asked Lily.

“Yes,” replied Marlene sullenly. She was quite nervous. They had won their first game, but Marlene felt she wasn’t as good as James or Adhara. They seemed to have an understanding that she wasn’t able to penetrate. She often found herself distracted by James as well. She thought she caught a knowing look on Sirius’ face sometimes when they came back from practice together. It unnerved her further to think he might have guessed.

“Hey, why doesn’t Lupin try out?” suggested Lily, “he’s a good flier, isn’t he?”

“Nah, Moony can’t play that day. He’s going to fall ill,” replied Sirius carelessly.

“Going to?” Marlene was confused. She saw Remus glare at Sirius.

“What he means is, I have to meet with a healer that time… uh – regular checkup,” replied Remus.

“Your mum falls ill quite often, doesn’t she?” observed Mary.

“Uh… yeah…” He turned red.

“Have you caught it? What is wrong with her?” Marlene asked curiously.

“Uhh… she’s – Er – delicate… very weak…” Remus was starting to look highly uncomfortable and glanced at James.

“All this is very touching,” commented James in a bored voice. Marlene thought he was being insensitive, especially when Remus turned away from them. “But we still don’t have a chaser. Have you heard anything from Selwyn?” he addressed Sirius. Sirius shook his head, shrugging.

“McKinnon, Potter.”

The two of them turned to face Gideon Prewett.

“I just got permission to hold practice at 4am.” He looked disgruntled as he said it. “Be there tomorrow,” he grunted and walked away.

“Four?” James groaned, picking up his broom and heading to the dormitories with the boys. Marlene’s eyes followed him as he walked on complaining sulkily to Peter.

“Ahem.” Dorcas cleared her throat. Marlene turned to see Mary smirking at her.

“What?” she asked, trying to sound unconcerned.

“Love-struck much?” said Dorcas, raising her eyebrows.

“Shut up,” she muttered, growing red.

“You should ask him out,” pointed out Mary.

“Yeah. And while I’m at it, why don’t I jump into the freezing lake in December?” said Marlene, rolling her eyes.

“That would still be more rewarding than going out with Potter,” smirked Lily.

“You don’t like him much, do you?” Marlene asked, as Mary and Dorcas laughed.

“I don’t care about him much,” replied Lily loftily.

Marlene raised her eyebrows. It made sense to her now why Lily never teased her about James. She didn’t like James, and probably disapproved of her crush on him. Well, it wasn’t Lily’s problem anyway. Feeling slightly indignant, she excused herself and trooped up the stairs to take a shower.




“I’m going to take a shower now,” said Marlene, going up the stairs. Lily felt slightly guilty about having been so candid with Marlene. She usually refrained from sharing her comments on Potter because Marlene always got defensive on his behalf. And it irked her that sometimes when Dorcas and Mary agreed with Marlene as well. They had often told her she was too hard on Potter. But how could she not be? Even last week, he had set a Firecrab near Sev’s robes in potions, causing his cloak to catch on fire. Nobody had known who it was at the time, but Slughorn had called Potter and Black aside the next day and given them detention. But she couldn’t deny that Potter could be agreeable at times. Like the other day when he had pried the information about Adhara out of Professor McGonagall. Lily didn’t know he had it in him. At times, she understood why Marlene fancied James. But most of the time, she didn’t like Potter. There was something about him that screamed untrustworthy: like there was more to him than what met the eye. And his perpetually cocky smile. She felt quite uneasy around people like that.

“... Potter and Black,” Dorcas was saying. Lily snapped her attention back to her two friends. They were discussing the amount of popularity that the boys had been gaining among the female population. As she listened to them, Lily learned that that Marlene wasn’t alone in her affections, though she seemed to be the only one who stood the slightest chance.

“Although,” Mary said in a low voice to Lily as they walked up the stairs to the dormitories, “he might have ideas of his own.” Dorcas had walked further and hadn’t heard Mary.

“What do you mean?” asked Lily nonplussed.

“Don’t think I haven’t noticed the way James Potter looks at you,” said Mary, raising her eyebrows knowingly and climbing up to catch up with Dorcas, leaving Lily staring after her.




“I have to wake up at four,” grumbled James. “Couldn’t it have waited till tomorrow?”

“Today is the twelfth day after we drank that potion. We have to perform the charm tonight,” insisted Peter in a low voice. The four of them were slowly making their way under the invisibility cloak to a sixth floor classroom; the perfect vantage point as it was farthest away from Filch or any of the teacher’s quarters, and was not frequented by Peeves as well.

“We have practiced it enough times. It will be over in half an hour,” whispered Sirius.

“Ouch! Sirius, stop stamping my toes,” scolded Remus, shoving Sirius. Sirius nearly missed falling onto a flower vase as they turned into the sixth floor corridor. He aimed a kick at Remus which missed him but hit poor Peter instead, who yelped loudly. James jumped at the sound, which echoed.

“You prat!” James whispered loudly, hurrying into the classroom and removing the cloak. “You could have given us away!”

Peter looked apologetic. Sirius rolled up his sleeves, his wand ready.

“Lets finish this quickly, James.”

“The instructions says to tap-”

“We know what it says, Peter,” cut in Sirius impatiently.

“I think it’s better if you practise the wand movements a few more times before attempting it,” said Remus nervously, but James had already started twirling his wand over his head and muttering the incantations.

A blue ball of light, the size of a marble, emanated from the tip of the wand when he had finished the final incantation. It slowly travelled down like  a snowflake and hovered in between his eyes. Sirius watched interestedly while Peter and Remus waited with bated breath. If all had gone right, The ball of light would split into two and enter his eyes. If something had gone wrong… well, they would have a hell of a time explaining themselves to Madam Pomfrey and Professor Dumbledore. James hardly dared to breathe, as the ball of light pulsed before his eyes. He could feel his heart beating in tandem. It drew nearer, almost touching and for a second James thought it wouldn’t split. But millimeters away from the bridge of his nose, the ball of light split into two, travelled through his glasses and entered his eyes. He was blinded for a second, and then he could see.

Except, everything now looked as if a blue filter had been placed on his glasses. He blinked once. Still blue. He rubbed his eyes and removed his glasses. Everything was now blurry, and still blue.

“Erm… James, your eyes are blue. What’s happening?” asked Remus, looking at James concernedly. James shook his head puzzled, and walked up to refer the book Remus had brought along, despite James and Sirius’ heavy assurances that they wouldn’t be needing it. James silently thanked him.

“It says here that could be a side effect,” said James.

“People are bound to notice, you know,” replied Peter.

“Well, let’s just hope it wears off soon then!” he said grinning.

“Will it?” asked Remus frowning.

“No idea,” he shrugged. “Your turn, Sirius.”

Sirius repeated James actions, and the ball of light split exactly in the middle and entered his eyes. James saw his grey eyes turn blue momentarily and then back to grey. Remus heaved a huge sigh of relief. James grinned appreciatively. Peter looked heartened at Sirius’ success, though his feet were twitching nervously. He was biting his fingernail, and bent his head towards to book to go through the process once more.

“Peter,” snapped Sirius impatiently. “Can we get on with it or what?”

“We don’t want him making mistakes, Sirius,” said Remus. Peter turned the page a couple of times frantically.

Sirius rolled his eyes and made a loud show of walking to sit on the nearby table and dropping his head onto his hands. “Wake me up when it’s time to leave.” James snickered. Peter glanced at Sirius and closed the book.

“I’m ready,” he squeaked. He took a deep breath, and went through the motions as they had rehearsed. Remus looked on anxiously, James was observing closely for any mistakes and even Sirius had lifted his head and was looking on. For the third time in that classroom, the ball of blue light appeared. It bobbed down his eyes and settled near his lips instead. Peter’s eyes widened in horror, but the ball rose back again, split into two and entered his eyes. Like Sirius, his original eye colour returned.

“Great,” said James sarcastically, “So I’m the only one stuck seeing things as if a giant ball of blue paint dropped on earth.”




Sirius and James were the last ones to finish breakfast the next morning. James’ eyes were still blue, much to his discomfort and he had to walk around keeping them half closed to avoid drawing attention to it. Sirius had a hearty laugh watching him run into things and his spoon missing the bowl. Regulus walked up to him in the Great Hall as James was just finishing up his pumpkin juice.

“Hey.”

Sirius turned his face away, frowning.

“How’s Adhara Selwyn?” Regulus asked, unwavered by Sirius’ rudeness.

“Why do you care?”

“She used to be my friend too,” replied Regulus, frowning.

“Oh, now you remember old friends?” Sirius sneered sarcastically, turning to face Regulus.

“You know, I could have told mum you were at Andromeda’s over summer, but I didn’t. I kept it to myself,” said Regulus ruefully.

“Should I place myself at your eternal debt?” said Sirius, his voice dripping with derision. Regulus’ face tightened.

“You’re an arse Sirius,” he started furiously. “I’m sick of your attitude. Sick of you making fun of me and pushing me away.” Regulus rose from his chair so fast that it moved back a couple of inches. Sirius felt James looking at them. He tried to look unconcerned as Regulus walked away.

“Oh, and-” Regulus turned back and addressed Sirius. “I came over to tell you I made the team. I’m seeker.”

Sirius half turned to respond but Regulus had already left. He shrugged and looked at James.

“You done?” he asked flatly.

“Yeah,” replied James. “Your brother any good on the broom?” he asked as they walked to Charms.

“He’s okay,” said Sirius noncommittally.

“Well, I hope so,” said James seriously. “Between Selwyn’s absence and my underwater goggles, I am honestly worried for our chances at the game.”

Sirius merely grunted in response. He felt a twinge of regret at the way he had reacted to Regulus.




“This is crazy.”

Lily heard James Potter mutter as they were filing out of Transfiguration. He had been unusually bad in class and had obtained additional practise for the first time, the only one to get some apart from Pettigrew.

“Maybe you should take help,” Pettigrew seemed to be suggesting.

“From who? McGonagall?” replied Sirius, scornfully. “I’m sure she would pat him on the back and feed him some chocolate.”

Lily’s curiosity was aroused. Pettigrew replied something which she couldn’t hear.

“I can’t see a bloody damn thing properly,” James swore furiously.

“Shhh,” cautioned Remus. They all lowered their voices and Lily couldn’t hear anything further.

She slipped into the seat next to Marlene in Defence against the Dark Arts. Ever since Mary’s casual comment last night, she had been feeling increasingly guilty around Marlene. She had been glancing at James Potter since that morning and was becoming increasingly convinced that there was no evidence to back Mary’s statement. He had spent all morning whispering with his friends. No doubt planning some mischief if she was to judge by their frequent outbursts of chuckles. James Potter didn’t seem to care she existed. He hadn’t even raised his eyes to look at her when she had handed out his mouse during Transfiguration, and turned his face away when she had gone around asking for it back. There was no way James Potter was even remotely interested in her. Not that she cared anyway. She sighed and dragged her attention back to Professor Tabitha Tisiphone who was talking to them about deflecting hexes.

“Books away, and pair up, everyone!” Professor Tisiphone clapped her hands. There was a general scraping of chairs across the floor as the students rose from their tables. Professor Tisiphone waved her wand over the classroom and all the desks neatly aligned themselves towards the wall. The middle of the class was cleared for them to practice. Lily turned to face Marlene.

“Oh, no no!” Professor Tisiphone was saying. “You will not go with your friends for this one. You know them too well. Your opponents in a real battle will not be as predictable.”

She went around pairing the students. Lily’s eyes wandered to Snape who was sullenly looking at his Hufflepuff partner. She giggled as he pulled a face at her. Mary was paired with Pettigrew, and Dorcas had unfortunately got unpleasant Avery. Lily looked at her sympathetically when she found herself suddenly grabbed by the shoulder and dragged a few steps to her right by Professor Tisiphone.

“Evans, team up with Potter,” she instructed, moving on to pair Marlene and Remus Lupin. Lily shifted her weight from one foot to another uncomfortably, and looked at him awkwardly. He was staring vaguely to the wall on his left.

“Now, one person throws a hex, and the other will deflect it. Then switch roles,” Professor Tisiphone announced.

“Do you want to go first?” Lily asked. Potter seemed to be looking at his feet.

“Uh… sure,” he replied distracted.

She frowned, raised her wand and sent a hex his way. His deflect was much slower and her hex hit him instead. He fell to the ground rubbing his shoulder which had caught the remnants of her spell..

“Pay attention, Potter,” she said impatiently, hurrying over to where he had fallen. He was already scrambling up. “You okay?” she asked guiltily.

“I’m peachy,” he replied sarcastically, looking at her. She gasped. He jerked his eyes away, cursing under his breath.

“What is-?” she started loudly.

“Shut up,” he whispered furiously, frowning. He looked directly at her and she saw a brilliant blue in place of his usual hazel brown. “Don’t tell anyone,” he said urgently, looking around furtively to see if anyone had heard Lily. Everyone seemed to be busy with their partners and nobody had noticed them.

She decided it was none of her business. “Shall we get back?” she asked, shrugging. “You look like you could really use the practise,” she smirked. James narrowed his (creepy) now-blue eyes at her and then grinned cockily.

“Hit me!” he said raising his chin.

The next ten minutes, he had blocked and deflected every single hex she had thrown his way. She was forced to admire his reflexes. At a point, she thought he hadn’t even opened his mouth. But she was sure that was just the trick of the light. When Professor Tisiphone came around, however, James had to squint through his glasses and ended up performing badly. He cursed under his breath when she walked away shaking her head disapprovingly.

“What happened to your eyes?” she asked, unable to bear the curiosity any longer. James was still glaring mutinously at the back of Professor Tisiphone’s head.

“An accident,” he replied carelessly.

He looked around cautiously and then took a step towards her, bringing his face closer. “Listen, don’t mention it to anyone.” His voice was low and urgent. It was clear he had been up to something definitely illegal.   “Please,” he added hesitantly as an afterthought.

She suppressed a smile at his uncharacteristic discomfort and shrugged. “Alright.”

His face broke into a sudden grin, and she found herself grinning back. He turned around to join Black, and Lily caught Mary’s eye. Mary raised her eyebrows pointedly. Lily shook her head in denial, and rolled her eyes. But, she realized uneasily, she was having a hard time trying to get the image of James Potter’s grin out of her head.




Snape felt his stomach churn in excitement as he walked alongside Avery, Travers and Wilkes. This was the most anticipated Hogsmeade trip. Lucius Malfoy was visiting, and he had promised to teach them Dark Arts. They were finding it increasingly difficult to learn and practice at Hogwarts, with the teachers and Dumbledore cracking down on every hex used. He couldn’t wait to see what Malfoy would have in store for them.

“This way,” directed Travers, a year older than him. They were walking away from the High Street and the Hogsmeade market and into the township itself. Tarvers led the way three streets ahead and stopped at the last house on that street. He glanced around and then indicated everyone to follow him. Snape glanced at the names on the front of the house. “Feodor & Estelle Flume”. As they entered, a musty smell reached Snape’s nostrils. The living room looked as if it hadn’t been inhabited for months. A thin film of dust coated the objects. There was a pile of letters left near the window sill, an empty owl cage with an open gate. A stale smell of dust and dried owl droppings was in the air. Cobwebs adorned the walls, ceilings and the hinges of doors. A dusty fish tank sat at the corner, a fish swimming inside dirty, murky green water. Some of the cupboards were left open, as if the owners had emptied its contents in a hurry. He glanced at the photo above the fireplace and recognized the girl standing between her parents. She was their class, he had seen her with Lily sometimes.

“Welcome, my friends.”

The drawling voice of Lucius Malfoy turned Snape’s head. He looked over each person deliberately with his cold, grey eyes. Snape noticed that there were a few others apart from the ones he had come with. He recognized all of them from his house.

“This is where we are going to meet from now. We have all gathered here because we share a common interest, an urge to expand our powers, to go beyond the childish realms taught at Hogwarts-” Lucius’ lips curled into a sneer. “-to push the boundaries of magic beyond any ordinary Witch or Wizard. To hold more power in that wandarm than we have ever dreamt possible.”

Snape’s heart raced slightly at his words, letting them sink in. He gripped his wand tighter. He watched as Lucius directed his wand at the fish tank, blasting it to smithereens. Snape watched on unfeelingly as the fish twitched its tail helplessly.

He had a sudden flashback to when he was ten. Lily had spotted a fish in the nearby stream, stuck between two rocks and gasping for breath. She had been distressed and insisted on helping it, freeing it’s tail and clapping in delight when it swam away swiftly. He could vividly picture her brilliant green eyes, shining with joy.

He blinked, and Lily’s face disappeared only to be replaced by the sight of the fish thwarting about on the floor. Lucius raised his wand again. There was a flash of green light and the fish lay still. A pause hung in the air while everyone slowly comprehended what had just happened. Then started a slow smattering of applause and Lucius looked around pleased.

“Of course, we will be starting much smaller,” he said. “But that was to show you the height of power we hold in our hands, without the irksome Ministry breathing down our necks and telling us what to do.”

Snape stared unfeelingly at the cold form of the fish as Lucius continued to talk to them about the various curses and hexes they would be learning. He thought he saw a glint of familiar green in it’s eyes. But a second later, all he could see was a dark, lifeless black.


A/N:

For the record, I do not endorse any forms of animal abuse or cruelty. I am a strong environmentalist, supporter of animal rights and a vegetarian (aspiring to be vegan *damn you cheese*). Every creature feels pain, and every creature has a right to live. Just putting it out there.

Disclaimers and Dedications continue. I love you my readers and reviewers. Keep them coming!


So, How was it *points to little grey box below making puppy-dog eyes*


Chapter 13: 3rd Year - Changes
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 “Your eyes seem to be returning to normal,” observed Peter.
Sirius glanced at James who was playing wizarding chess with Peter by the fireplace. He had been chucking bits of parchment into the fire listlessly, watching on interestedly every time a chess piece destroyed another, brutally. Remus was casually rereading his Ancient Runes essay, occasionally making corrections with his quill.

“I can see outlines of other colors now,” replied James, relieved.

“I’m definitely going to miss watching you fumble and make a fool of yourself,” grinned Sirius.

“You would,” said Remus, amused.

“I’m going to get you back for that Olivia Greene incident,” said James, pointing a rueful finger at Sirius.

The other three snickered at the recollection. James, who had been under the impression that he was addressing a particularly tall first year (thanks to Sirius), had spent a good fifteen minutes trying to explain the way to Charm’s classroom to Olivia Greene: the prettiest bird in school, and a fourth year no less (James had been eyeing her for a month) who had just stopped James to tell him his shoelace was undone.

“She’s never going to go out with you now,” remarked Peter.

“I’ll bet that was Sirius’ plan, wasn’t it?” said Remus.

Sirius grinned wickedly, raising his eyebrows smugly. James chucked a chess piece at him, which he caught effortlessly.

“Addie!”

The four boys turned around at the squeal. Marlene ran across the common room and threw her arms around a small, black-haired figure. Sirius recognized Adhara and rose from his seat. He found he wasn’t alone as half the common room was making their way towards her. Lily, Mary and Dorcas had joined the group hug and Adhara was disentangling from them with a pleased smile.

“How are you?”

“What happened?”

“Are you alright?”

“Can you play in the match next week?”

The last question had come from a very anxious Gideon Prewett. Adhara laughed lightly and replied –

“I’m cleared to play, yes!”

Relief flooded his face. There was a hearty applause, the most enthusiastic being from the Gryffindor Quidditch team. James looked pleased and drawing Adhara into a one handed hug, welcoming her back.

“Nice to have you back, Selwyn,” said Remus.

“I think we’re way past last names, Remus,” replied Adhara, raising her eyebrows with a smile. Remus grinned back at her. Sirius hung behind Remus, his hands in his pockets. She spotted him and they walked towards each other. She expected him to make a snarky comment or simply raise his chin as he so often did. But much to her surprise, Sirius pulled her into a warm hug.

“I missed you too, Sirius,” she laughed into his shoulder.

He pulled back and grinned. “I’m just glad you’re back in time for the match.”

“I forgot, you care so much about Quidditch,” she raised her eyebrows at him, her eyes twinkling.

“Gryffindor for the win!” he replied. He gestured to her injured hand. “What’s the deal?”

She glanced at it, and lifted it for him to see. There was a long, dark scar where the wound had been.

“They said that’s the best they could do,” she said ruefully.

“At least it didn’t fall off,” replied Sirius lightly, “Imagine if you had to walk around with a wooden arm,” he guffawed.

Slightly offended at his insensitivity, she frowned. “Would use it to slap you,” she retorted laughingly, walking over to join the girls who were beckoning her impatiently. As she entered the chattering group, Sirius walked back to the fireplace and slumped onto the couch. Remus barely jumped out of the way.

“Well, don’t mind me,” muttered Remus, frowning indignantly.

“I didn’t,” he replied carelessly. Remus aimed a kick at him, and settled comfortably on the rug. Sirius smiled contentedly.




There was something decidedly different about Adhara ever since she had returned from St. Mungo’s. She said she was fine, but Lily noticed a certain hardness about her. She laughed and smiled as usual, but there was a warmth that was missing, and she was a great deal more sarcastic. She reminded Lily forcibly of the Adhara from first year – aloof, distant and closed. She refused to talk about what had happened, and they had given up asking her. As Lily was pondering over this with Mary and Dorcas, James Potter came bounding through the portrait hole. To her surprise, he marched right up to her.

“Evans,” he said in a constricted voice. “Get up,” he commanded. His eyes were flashing.

“Excuse me,” she started indignantly, disliking the tone of his voice.

“I said, Get Up!” he snarled. There was something about his face that made her obey. She was highly unnerved as she followed him out of the portrait hall, with all the dignity she could muster. Mary and Dorcas looked nonplussed after them. The second she had stepped out after him, he caught her shoulder roughly and pulled her aside.

“I TOLD YOU TO SHUT UP!” he burst out.

“Wha-”

“DON’T ACT INNOCENT! It was you, wasn’t it?” His voice raised as he glared at her accusingly.

“I don’t…”

“YOU TOLD SNAPE!” He shouted. His face was thunderous.

A couple of fifth years looked at them alarmed as they climbed out of the common room. He lowered his voice as they passed, but his tone was still furious.

“I told you not to tell anyone, and of all the people, YOU TELL SNAPE?” he hissed.

“I – he-” Lily stuttered guiltily as it dawned on her. She had indeed told Snape about Potter’s weird eyes. She hadn’t wanted to initially. But out of the blue he had asked her what they had been whispering about in Defense class, and it had just slipped out.

“He said he wouldn’t tell anyone,” replied Lily, lamely.

“Oh really?” his voice dripped with derision. “Tell me Evans, does anyone exclude Professor McGonagall? THAT’S RIGHT-” he spat at Lily’s quizzical expression – “McGonagall just called me in to ask about this.” He pointed at his glasses. Lily noticed that the blue in them weren’t as brilliant as the other day. He started pacing in that little space.

“Sev, wouldn’t have said,” defended Lily. “She must have noticed them herself.”

“And she waited till now to send for me? Right after your precious Snape was seen exiting her room?” he asked scornfully.

“You’ve been walking around like this for a week,” pointed out Lily. “Anyone could have noticed.” She folded her arms defiantly.

“BUT IT WAS SNAPE WHO TOLD MCGONAGALL,” he shouted at her. “I saw him as I entered her staff room. That twerp…” He spluttered as his rage rendered him momentarily speechless. Lily seized the moment to speak.

“He was concerned probably,” said Lily, doggedly. “And frankly, so was I...”

“Concerned?” He laughed humorlessly. “Don’t give me that BULLSHIT!” he spat. “You want to screw with me? Sneak on me and get me into trouble? That’s fine. I don’t give a fuck.” Lily’s face reddened.  “But, this? It crossed a line. You think you’re so perfect, walking around wide-eyed and pretending to be innocent when you’re actually-”

“What are you so worked up about?” interjected Lily, her blood raising.  “Losing points and detentions have always been a laughing matter for you”

“Detention? Points?” He was shaking with rage now. “I don’t give a rat’s arse about them!” A muscle in his cheek twitched. “You could have ruined a lot more than your tiny bird-brain could ever fathom.” He ran a shaky hand through his untidy hair.

“Well,” she started hotly, narrowing her eyes at him. “If what you’re doing is so illegal, then maybe it was good that-”

“SHUT THE FUCK UP!” he bellowed. Lily jumped. “You are unbelievable.” His face was looking at her with pure loathing. “Just stay the hell away from me,” he growled, marching past her.

“Gladly,” she shouted after him. But he had already climbed through the portrait hole.




Marlene and the rest of the Quidditch team were given a royal welcome as they trooped victoriously into the common room. Shrieks, chants and hoots preceded them. Sirius Black and Fabian Prewett had nicked scrumptious celebratory food from the kitchens. James had been the highest scorer, leading to a Gryffindor win despite Regulus Black catching the snitch. Lily hugged Marlene, squealing excitedly.

“Congratulations, Potter!” she said enthusiastically to James who was just behind Marlene. James looked in the other direction as if he hadn’t heard her, though Marlene was sure he couldn’t have missed it. Lily’s face hardened and Marlene was confused. James walked on towards the crowd of older boys, Frank Longbottom was enveloping his girlfriend, and Gryffindor seeker, Alice Rivers in a warm hug. Fabian Prewett was patting his twin on the back, and Sirius Black was taking a swig off some brown bottle, oblivious to a group of second year girls whispering and staring fascinatedly at him. James was mauled by a few of them, who tittered around him, seeming highly interested in recalling every goal he had scored. He seemed only too happy to oblige. Owen Weasley waved at Marlene from next to Sirius, and she smiled back at him. She saw Sirius say something to him and walk away, but her attention was on James, who seemed to be thoroughly enjoying himself.

“Thinks he’s something special, doesn’t he?” smirked Adhara from next to her.

“Isn’t he?” she replied with an unapologetic grin. Adhara rolled her eyes.

“You should tell him that, before someone else does.” She turned to see Sirius at her right, leaning casually against the food table behind them, bottle in hand, looking at James with an amused expression.

“Where did you get that?” Adhara asked, eyeing his bottle interestedly. Marlene read the label up close: Rosmerta’s Redcurrent Rum.

“Gideon Prewett snuck some back from Hogsmeade last week.” He took a sip and smacked his lips contentedly.

Marlene looked back at James, her face flushing as she thought of Sirius’ words.

James is so cute, he’s so dreamy,” mocked Sirius, guffawing as Marlene pushed him away, red-faced.

“Sirius, stop!” she cried, appalled at the thought of James overhearing.

“Oye, James!” he called out, continuing to laugh as Marlene spluttered. She reached out and pressed her palm against his mouth, wrestling with him.

“Will you shut up,” she said crossly.

“Fine,” resigned Sirius, but his eyes gleamed wickedly. “But I dare you to go and ask him out.”

“No way!” She glanced over at James who had looked over at them curiously.

“Yes, or I’ll tell him you fancy him.” Sirius’ laughter only embarassed her further.

“Shut up,” she muttered. “I don’t fancy James,” she replied defiantly.

“Then you shouldn’t have a problem with the dare,” Sirius retorted triumphantly.

“I - it’s stupid,” she argued, silently hoping Sirius would drop it. If James ever came to know how she felt about him, she would probably have to drop out of Hogwarts.

“Then I dare you to ask James out.”

“Leave her alone, Sirius.”

Marlene turned to Remus gratefully.

“Hey, I thought you were ill?” asked Adhara, looking at Remus suspiciously.

“Er - I am leaving tomorrow,” he said, avoiding her eyes. Marlene thought he looked quite pale.

“What is wrong-“

Boring,” interrupted Sirius, “Marlene fancies James.” He repeated, a little too loudly for Marlene’s comfort.

“No - I - do - not!” Marlene ended each word with a punch aimed at Sirius.

“Ow!” He shielded himself, blocking her punches with his arm.

“Hey, McKinnon!”

Marlene turned to face Owen Weasley. He reached out behind Sirius to pick up a doughnut.

“Hey, great game!” she replied, smiling warmly. Owen Weasley was easy on the eyes.

“Yeah, you too.” He looked a little distracted. “Listen, I was wondering. Would you like to go to Hogsmeade with me? Next month?” His ears grew red as the words rushed out of his mouth, almost as if he might change his mind midway. Marlene was taken aback.

“Uhm...” she stammered, acutely aware of the fact that Sirius had resumed snickering. She glared at him, which only seemed to egg him on. It didn’t help that Remus had joined him as well.

“Er- it’s okay… uhmm.. I’ll just...,” Owen stuttered, rubbing the back of his neck, and looking as embarrassed as she felt. She just stood there, staring at him as he shuffled his feet uncomfortably, making to turn away.

“No, no…” she squeaked, finding her voice. It sounded unnaturally high to her. She cleared her throat as he looked at her expectantly. “I’d really like that,” she blushed.

His freckled face broke into a grin.  “I’ll see you then,” he said, walking away glancing sheepishly at the others.

“What just happened?” Marlene said in a mixture of shock and disbelief, turning to Adhara.

“I thought you liked James,” said Peter bemused.

She glared at him.

“Weasley’s quite good looking,” remarked Adhara appreciatively.

“Besides, it’s not like James is going to notice you anytime soon,” said Sirius bluntly, snickering unnecessarily. Marlene turned to retort hotly, but -

“Potter’s so full of it, he wouldn’t notice anybody but himself.” Lily had joined them.

“Our Saint Lily has spoken,” commented Sirius loudly. Lily glared at him.

“That’s enough of that now,” said Remus hastily, taking the bottle from Sirius’ hand. Sirius gave in after a small wrestle, crossing his arms sulkily.

“What’s with you and James anyway?” asked Marlene curiously, suddenly remembering the weird coldness between them earlier.

“He’s loud, crude and has no manners,” replied Lily vehemently, her face screwed up in anger.

“I wouldn’t say that,” said Remus thoughtfully, absently taking a sip from the bottle and grimacing as he swallowed.

Moony wouldn’t say that. Moony always has to be nice! Saint Moony. Like Saint Lily.” Sirius’ speech was on the verge of slurring. Remus set the bottle down, rolling his eyes.

“I told him not to drink,” he muttered reproachfully to the girls. “That Gideon Prewett encouraged him. Come on, Sirius,” he called out.

“You’ve handled a drunk Sirius before?” asked Adhara, eyeing Sirius with fascination, looking on amusedly as Remus pulled him back from the bowl of punch which he was licking at like a dog. Lily regarded the bowl with a look of disgust as Sirius smacked his lips loudly.

“This is his first drink ever,” Remus remarked wryly. “Frankly, drunk Sirius doesn’t seem to be much different from sugar-high Sirius.”

“Sugar-high Sirius?” Adhara asked. Lily pursed her lips, shaking her head at Sirius.

“You should visit our dorm after a trip to Honeydukes,” replied Peter darkly.

Sirius stumbled up the stairs, with Remus and Peter at his wake. Lily was looking quite reproachfully at Sirius, commenting to Adhara about the evils of underage drinking. Marlene glanced back at James, who had joined the Prewett twins and some boisterous seventh year boys. She felt her stomach flutter uncomfortably. What had she gotten herself into?




Lily snuck out in her dressing gown, careful not to make any noise. Her head was swimming, partly from her continued annoyance at Potter, and partly from sleep deprivation. The post-match party the previous night had gone far too late, and she had gotten into trouble for almost falling asleep in McGonagall’s lecture that day. Something that greatly amused Potter much to her embarrassment and fury, and stuck her with extra assignment. She had just rolled up her scroll neatly and changed for bed, when a parchment flew through her open window. Sighing, and glancing at the clock that showed way past midnight, she put on her slippers and made her way to the Astronomy Tower. He was already waiting for her.

“Hey,” she whispered, almost not wanting to disturb the quelling silence that hung at that time of the night. Severus turned around, his sallow face breaking into a smile. “I got your note,” she said, holding up a small piece of parchment. “What did you want to show me?”

“Come here,” he said, leading her to the window. He hoisted himself up on the ledge, and reached his hand out to help her over. They sat on opposite edges, leaning against the frame and facing each other.

The sight that greeted Lily was beyond anything she had ever seen. The moon was shining in its fullest glory, bathing everything it touched in the purest of lights. The stars twinkled in the clear sky, and the Hogwart’s grounds had never looked more peaceful. She could hear the sounds of the crickets and birds chirping at a distance. The night breeze brought with it the distant sound of leaves rustling. The moonlight danced off the illusion of glittering diamonds on the surface of the lake.

“It’s beautiful, Sev,” she whispered, almost afraid her voice might disrupt the stillness of the night.

He looked pleased. “Thought you might like it,” he muttered.

“I love it,” she said, leaning her head back against the cool stone with a serene smile on her face. She did not notice Severus’ unblinking gaze upon her face.

“You know what this reminds me of?”

He smiled knowingly. “We snuck out to search for fairies by the riverside.”

“You told me they existed!” she said with a laugh.

“They do,” he insisted, “Perhaps just not in muggle localities!”

“It all seems so long ago,” she smiled reminiscently. “So much has changed since, hasn’t it?”

A few moments of silence passed during which Lily closed her eyes, sighing contentedly as the cool breeze grazed upon her face. Remnants of a distant howl carried across the still grounds, silencing the chirping birds and crickets, but Lily remained unperturbed.

“Did I tell you, Owen Weasley asked Marlene out?” Lily said conversationally, opening her eyes.

“But I thought she fancied-”

“Yeah, she does,” nodded Lily. “Don’t tell anyone,” she added fervently. Marlene would hex her if she ever knew Lily told Severus. “Can you believe Owen Weasley fancies her?” Her eyes were round.

“I can’t say I’m surprised,” he replied carelessly.

“Why not?”

“I know for a fact that quite a few blokes think McKinnon is fit,” he said grinning.

“Yeah?” said Lily teasingly. “Would you happen to be one of those blokes?” She giggled, raising her eyebrows. The thought of Severus finding Marlene, or any girl for that matter, fit was quite comical. He was Severus, the bloke who went fairy searching with her.

“Me? N-No,” he stuttered uncomfortably.

“Which girl do you find good looking?” she asked interestedly. He turned red and averted her eyes. “Come on, Sev. It’s only me,” she prodded, wondering who it was.

“I - don’t…” he muttered.

“Olivia Greene?” she suggested, her forehead creasing slightly. She knew James Potter and Sirius Black had their sights on her. She had overheard them during Charms.

Severus looked around awkwardly. “Yeah…” he admitted in a low voice. “But which boy doesn’t?” he pointed out, defensively.

“What’s so great about her?” wondered Lily, disliking the fact that even Severus seemed to agree with them.

“She’s slim and fit,” he replied shrugging. Severus Snape, fancying Olivia Greene. There was something so wrong about that image, so much that she had to stifle a giggle.

“All you blokes are so superficial!” Lily raised her eyebrows disapprovingly.

“You birds are no different,” he countered, frowning. “Diggory and Weasley wouldn’t have as much female attention if they weren’t Quidditch players,” he pointed out ruefully.

“Weasley has a sense of humor. And Philip Diggory is Head Boy, he’s clever,” defended Lily. She enjoyed how easy it was to talk to Sev about these things. She couldn’t imagine holding such a conversation with that Potter.

“Maybe Olivia Green is funny and bright as well,” he retorted.

“Is she?” asked Lily, raising her eyebrows skeptically.

“Who knows,” he shrugged, markedly more comfortable with this conversation than he had when it had started. “But she’s quite vain. I heard Macnair and Mulciber talking about her after last week’s match.”

“Which you Slytherins lost, by the way,” she gloated, unable to keep the pride out of her voice.

“It was only a difference of twenty points,” he argued. “If that git Black had waited a little, we might have won.”

“Excuses,” said Lily dismissively. “Admit it, Sev. We have a better team!”

“It was a spot of luck that Selwyn was back in time. Otherwise your team wouldn’t have stood a chance,” replied Snape, making a face.

“I don’t agree,” Lily defended loyally. “Lupin or that second year kid Shacklebolt would have replaced her, and they’re both pretty good.”

“I didn’t see Lupin in classes today,” he said, remembering suddenly.

“They said he’s ill,” she replied, sweeping up her loose hair into a knot.

“He falls ill quite often, doesn’t he?”  He was frowning thoughtfully.

“I heard his mother’s health is pretty fragile. He might have inherited whatever it is,” she replied thoughtfully.

“I wonder…” Snape gazed into the distance, his eyes unfocused and calculating. Once again, a far off echo of a wailing howl punctuated the silence.

“Wonder what?” she asked curiously. Sev lapsed into one of his enigmatic silences. She hated that about him, almost as if he was hiding something from her.

“Nothing,” he replied, shaking his head. “Are you going home for Christmas?” he asked, changing the subject.

“Of course!” she replied, allowing for the change of subject. “I never miss Christmas. Besides, this is Tuney’s last year at home too. Mum wrote saying she applied for jobs up in London.”

“I thought you’d be happier about it,” he said, looking sideways at her.

“Oh, I don’t know how I feel. I mean, she’s my sister and I love her. I ought to, you know.” He shifted slightly, nodding when she looked directly at him. “But I get so angry with her. I mean, it isn’t my fault,” her voice grew strained. She let her legs dangle down, facing the sky directly. Snape followed suit.

“Things have changed so much,” she whispered sadly, dropping her head to his shoulder. Her knot loosened, and her hair was falling onto his shoulder. “I don’t want anything else to change,” she said petulantly. Snape remained silent. “We’re still the same, right?” she asked, insecurely.

“Of course,” he replied immediately. She felt a warmth rush into her heart at his reassurance. She sighed heavily, her head spinning with the weight of Tuney and Prat-King Potter, and for some strange reason the fact that every bloke seemed to fancy Olivia Greene.

“We shouldn’t change, Sev. Whatever happens, we should be there for each other,” she said firmly.

“You mean that?” he asked softly, looking down at her face.

“Always,” she replied, closing her eyes and shifting her head to a more comfortable position on his shoulder.




Gideon Prewett had been putting the team through such rigorous practice sessions that Marlene hardly had time for anything else. Increased practices however meant that she was spending more time with Owen Weasley. She often considered backing out of the date, but the more time she spent with him, the more she grew to genuinely like him. It was evident to her that he liked her quite a bit. She still felt her stomach churn every time she found James Potter particularly handsome, which was immediately succeeded by guilt. Every time James Potter smiled at her, she felt a small nuzzle of hope. The fact that James Potter smiled at most girls these days didn’t occur to her. When Weasley reminded her, in his sweet, hesitant way, about Saturday’s date on Friday evening, she couldn’t bring herself to tell him no. And before she knew it, she found herself getting ready apprehensively.

“You’re going through with it?”

Marlene couldn’t miss the judging tone in Dorcas’ voice. She combed her hair, looking into the mirror without replying.

“It’s not fair to him, you know,” spoke up Mary quietly.

She frowned slightly. She knew. But James Potter hadn’t ask her out. And Owen Weasley had.

“You still fancy James,” persisted Dorcas, accusingly.

Marlene rounded on them. “James doesn’t fancy me. Owen does. And he is really nice.”

Mary averted her eyes and busied herself with folding her eiderdown. Dorcas continued to frown at her and opened her mouth to speak.

“Leave her be,” Lily interjected, glancing at Dorcas and walking over to Marlene. “You look very pretty,” she said sweetly. Marlene smiled gratefully at Lily. She was already quite uneasy, never having gone on a date before, without Dorcas and Mary giving her the judging ones.

“I don’t know what to say to him,” she confessed anxiously.

“It’s Weasley. You talk to him all the time. You can do this,” replied Lily reassuringly.

“What will I …” Marlene wasn’t sure whether to admit it or not. She decided she had to get it out of her chest. “What will I do if he wants to… you know… kiss me?” Her voice was barely a whisper towards the end of the sentence and she felt her face flaming. Out of the corner of her eye she saw Dorcas roll her eyes, and Mary turned around interestedly.

“Kick him in the shins! That’s what I’d do,” Adhara snorted.

“Addie!” Lily exclaimed as Dorcas laughed. “Go with your instincts,” she said turning to Marlene.

“He’s not going to eat you up, you know,” said Dorcas in a bored voice. Adhara snickered. It took all of Marlene’s willpower to not retort. She knew Dorcas was highly cynical towards any form of what she labelled as emotion. Marlene satisfied herself with a glare in Dorcas’ direction.

“Have fun Marls,” said Lily in her comforting voice, squeezing her hand.

“Good Luck!” called out Mary, almost apologetically, as she left the dorm.

She found Owen Weasley waiting for her by the fireplace. He was having a conversation with James Potter. She felt her stomach clench painfully at the sight. She exhaled deeply and walked towards them. James muttered something to Owen smirking; Owen turned around and spotted her.

“Hey Marls,”

Since when had Owen started calling her Marls?

“Hey,” she smiled nervously, increasingly aware of her hands. She didn’t know what to do with them, adjusting her dress and tucking her hair behind her ear unnecessarily.

Owen clapped James on the back and excused himself to walk away with Marlene. She looked anywhere but at James.




“Where do you think Marlene is?” asked Adhara, looking around as they sat down at Three Broomsticks.

“Do you think he’s taken her to Madame Puddifoot’s?” wondered Mary.

“Ew!” Dorcas exclaimed in disgust. “That place is creepy!”

“I like it,” replied Lily lightly.

“You would!” Adhara rolled her eyes.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Lily asked frowning.

“You’re a stereotype, Lily,” replied Adhara. Dorcas thanked the waiter for bringing their butterbeers. Lily turned her attention to Adhara.

“Stereotype?”

“You are a girl.” Adhara took a sip.

“So are you!” Lily didn’t know where Adhara was going with this.

“No. You are a typical girl. You like summer and butterflies and romance! I couldn’t care less about summer, I find butterflies creepy and romance just makes me want to puke.”

“That makes you weird, not me!” retorted Lily. “Romance is nice,” she said dreamily.

“I find butterflies creepy too,” Dorcas said shrugging. “She’s right, you know.” Dorcas looked at Lily, as if seeing her clearly for the first time. “You are the stereotype. You enjoy cooking too.”

“I resent that!” Lily frowned. “I like to bake. That’s different from cooking. And you can’t put all girls in a category or box. That’s just seems.. I don’t know… offensive!”

“You were reading Pride and Prejudice the other day, weren’t you?” Mary asked. “It’s a muggle romance novel,” she explained to a confused Dorcas and Marlene.

“It’s not a romance novel!” exclaimed Lily, appalled. “It’s a classic!”

“Proving my point. You fit into the box,” replied Mary triumphantly.  Adhara and Dorcas nodded in agreement much to Lily’s annoyance. If there was one thing Lily hated, it was being a stereotype. Apparently her friends seemed to think she was. Well, they were wrong, she decided.

“My mother’s a librarian. It’s her favorite book,” she defended. “And I still think that’s offensive,” she said grudgingly.

“But she’s not going to hold it against us. She’s too sweet!” Dorcas addressed Adhara.

“I don’t think Lily knows how to hold grudges,” replied Adhara.

“Except when it comes to Potter,” pointed out Mary shrewdly.

“She really does seem to have it in for him.”

“Potter brings her out of that box,” Dorcas said.

“That’s an interesting observation,” said Adhara.

“I wonder why,” mused Mary.

“I’m right here,” interjected Lily hotly. The three of them laughed and turned to look at her, wearing identical smirks.

“Well why don’t you tell us then,” grinned Adhara. “Why does Potter bring you out of your box?”

“I refuse to admit to the existence of this box you speak of,” she replied loftily, ignoring their insinuations.

“You know what I think…”

“I know your suspicions, Mary!”  Lily cut in, abandoning all pretense. “You couldn’t be more wrong.”

“We’ve seen him looking at you often,” said Dorcas.

“And he keeps kidnapping you for private conversations…”

“That was ONE conversation! And it wasn’t so private. I’m surprised you didn’t hear him yelling all the way inside the common room!”

“Still… he acts up when you’re around…”

“He always acts up. He’s James Potter. Pratness Unlimited.” Lily rolled her eyes, exasperated. The other three rolled with laughter, and she felt quite pleased with herself, when -

“Hey!”

Sirius Black had swooped over and downed the rest of Adhara’s butterbeer in one go, pulled up a chair and sat next to Adhara. She knew without looking that his three cronies would follow suit. Surely enough, there they were.

“Here James,” called Peter, pulling out a chair to the left of Lily. Potter plonked onto it, joining the conversation taking place to his left without as much as a glance at her. Mary and Dorcas grinned. She couldn’t see what they were so smug about. His indifference had basically proved her point. More butterbeers arrived at their table, and Sirius audaciously passed a flirting remark to Madam Rosmerta, as the girls looked on in awe. If it had been anyone else Madam Rosmerta would have stared him down, but Sirius being who he was, was treated to a tinkling laugh instead. She couldn’t help noticing, as she talked to Remus and Dorcas, that Potter’s elbow kept grazing hers accidentally. Their arms collided when they reached out for the same tankard of butterbeer. She withdrew her hand as quickly as he extended his to grab it with unnecessary flourish. To her horror, she felt herself growing red under Dorcas’ and Mary’s shrewd eyes. Unable to bear the knowing looks on their faces, she moved her chair pointedly to her right, putting more distance between her and Potter.




So far, things hadn’t been uncomfortable at all. Talking to Owen was easy, and not different from their chats during practice. He had taken her to an ice cream parlor, having remembered her love for ice creams she had mentioned once. She enjoyed four happy scoops of delightful flavors, discussing the latest controversy to hit Puddlemore United. When they were ready to leave, despite her protests, he paid, gallantly helped her into her coat, and even opened the door for her. She could get used to this.

“You know, I was half expecting you to back out,” Owen said as they walked along the street. It was almost close to sunset and the sky was beginning to turn orange.

“It crossed my mind,” she confessed. She saw a flicker of something cross his face.

“I had a feeling you fancied James,” he said, looking sideways at her. Her face grew hot but she remained silent, hoping he wouldn’t press it.

“Do you?”

No such luck.

She looked up into his anxious face. The sky was a bright shade of orange, which cast a glow on the top of his red head. The evening breeze rustled through his hair and she found herself looking into his warm brown eyes. She made a split second decision when she replied –

“No.”

Relief flooded his face. They walked in silence for a few moments and then resumed conversation by occasionally commenting on things that caught their eye.

As they neared the common room, Owen turned to her and seemed to be debating something. “You’re really pretty,” he said sincerely. She could see his face turning red even under the dim lighting of the flickering lanterns.

“T-thank you,” she replied, uncomfortably.

Awkward silence.

She opened her mouth again to without knowing what she was going to say, wanting to say something to fill the awkwardness, but he surprised her by suddenly leaning over and pressing his lips to her cheek. Before she could react, he grinned sheepishly at her, muttered goodnight and climbed over the portrait hole.

She stood gaping after him for a few moments until she processed it, and followed suit. She felt a warm spreading through her, as she thought of it. As she crossed the common room, her stomach lurched unpleasantly when she spotted James sitting by the fireplace. The twinge of guilt brought an end to her almost perfect day.

A/N:

This one is for ~ HB, NB, 2AB, ARK, my wonderful beta Felpata Lupin and the awesome Gina (Unwritten Curse) without whom this chapter wouldn't exist!

Things are beginning to move along, the characters are beginning to enter their teens. So what do you all think about it?


Chapter 14: 3rd Year - The Marauder's Four
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Remus and James were taking the shortcut back from the kitchens, arms laden with food and snacks. It was well past curfew, but James had developed a sudden craving for eclairs.

“Darn!” said James.

Remus stopped right beside him and looked into the gleaming eyes of Mrs. Norris. “I told you we should have brought your cloak along,” he muttered irately, as the unnervingly bright yellow eyes bore into him unrelentingly.

“Where’s the fun in that,” James smirked dismissively. Mrs. Norris prowled closer to them. “Wait! Let’s distract her. Throw a biscuit in that direction!” he suggested brightly, eagerly pointing up the corridor.

Remus opened his mouth to protest but James urged him. He sighed and threw a biscuit from his pile in the direction James pointed. Mrs. Norris glanced in that direction and looked back at them disdainfully.

Remus looked at James with raised eyebrows. “Did you really think that would work?”

“It’s because she’s not hungry,” argued James.

It’s because she’s not a dog!” Remus exasperated.

She started mewling loudly, evidently crying out for Filch. They heard footsteps, not so far away.

“Well, then there’s just one thing for us to do, isn’t there?” remarked James, edging around the cat, without breaking eye contact with her.

“What?” Remus asked, looking nervously towards the sounds of footsteps drawing alarmingly closer.

Run!”

Remus and James took to their heels as Filch entered the corridor.

He had spotted them from a distance and started yelling gleefully. “STUDENTS OUT OF BED. BREAKING CURFEW!”

They were finding it hard to run with their hands full of food. As they skid around a corner, Remus dropped a few doughnuts and James stopped to pick them up. Remus looked at him annoyed.

“Do you want to be expelled?”

“Nobody is going to expel you!” James rolled his eyes.

Filch was gaining on them. Remus caught hold of James’ collar and dragged him inside a nearby broom cupboard, closing the door shut just as Filch appeared round the bend. Remus held his breath, glancing at James, who was panting hard, grinning and thoroughly enjoying himself. The footsteps echoed loud and stopped suddenly. The door to the broom cupboard flew open and they were blinded by the bright light of the lantern. Filch’s face displayed savage pleasure as he reached out and dragged James by his collar.

“I’ve got you now,” he said gleefully, cackling wickedly as he kept his hold on James, leading him roughly down the corridor. Remus followed close, under the watchful eye of Mrs. Norris. Filch was muttering maniacally to himself.

James caught Remus’ eye and whispered hurriedly out of the corner of his mouth. “When I say now, you run. Don’t look back!”

“Don’t do anything stupid,” whispered back Remus.

“Would I ever,” replied James, grinning. Remus raised his eyebrows and watched as James reached around surreptitiously and gripped his wand. James’ eyes darted around searchingly.

“Now!” James whispered hoarsely.

There was a loud bang, and the sound of flower vase shattering. Taking advantage of Filch’s momentary distraction, Remus and James darted forward.

“NO!” cried Filch.

Remus advanced a few steps and turned back to see if James had caught up with him.

“GOTCHA!”

He saw that Filch had lunged forward and caught hold of James’ ankle, causing him to trip. His wand had rolled just out of reach and he was aiming kicks at Filch’s mangled face which was screwed up with the effort of holding on.

Remus pulled out his wand and said, “Relashio!”

Filch let out a yelp, dropping James’ ankle and holding his hand as if it had just burned. James scrambled to his feet, picking up his wand and reaching Remus.

Before they turned around the bend, James looked at Filch who was getting to his feet and called out cheekily, “Better luck next time!”

Remus groaned.



The next morning four yawning boys made their way down to breakfast, just in time. Remus noticed Filch whispering furtively to Professor McGonagall. Filch’s mouth curled into a sneer as he spotted them. He wondered if Filch recognized them from the night before. He said so to James, drawing his attention to the teacher’s table. McGonagall caught James’ eye and beckoned to him. As he took a step forward, she indicated the other three to join him as well. Filch gave them dirty looks as they neared, rubbing his hands together.

“Filch here tells me that you four were caught after curfew yesterday,” her eyebrows were raised disapprovingly.

“He saw the four of us?” asked James with disbelief.

“I did.” Filch nodded vigorously, grinning savagely. Remus frowned and James glared. Peter looked anxious and Sirius looked like he couldn’t care less.

“I’m inclined to take him at his word, considering your penchant for blatant disregard of rules.” She looked at James from above her glasses, that action causing them to slide further down her nose, giving her a sterner expression. “I’m afraid this means detention with Filch, for all of you.”

“Sirius and Peter weren’t there,” pointed out James fairly.

She raised her eyebrows and glanced at Filch who was shaking his head furiously.

“I saw them Professor, them four… T’was them too who threw all those mudballs down the 7th floor corridor… and the dungbombs too”

James opened his mouth to protest but she silenced him with a look. He settled for a mutinous glare instead. Remus couldn’t blame his anger, he was pretty irked himself.

“I’ve heard enough of your tales Potter. I’m not changing my mind. You may get back to your classes now.”

Her tone indicated finality, and she sat back on her chair, turning her attention back to the Daily Prophet laid out next to her bowl of cereal. Muttering furiously, the four of them exited the Great Hall. Once they were out of earshot –

“That was mighty mean of Filch to pin all that on us,” James burst out furiously.

“Didn’t you and Sirius do the dungbomb thing?” pointed out Peter.

“Yes, but he never knew it was us,” replied James impatiently. “As for mudballs, that was that bloke Jordan from Ravenclaw.”

“He got the better of us this time,” said Remus remorsefully.

“We can’t let that measly squib get the better of us!” declared Sirius, scowling. “Cat loving arse,” he muttered aiming a kick at nothing in particular, probably imagining Mrs. Norris.

“Then, let’s go back in, and give him hell,” James suggested, grinning roguishly.



However, James Potter was not available over the next few days as the match drew closer. The only times the other three saw him were during classes, and he spent most of them in a state of half-sleep.

Despite the tactics and training, the Gryffindor versus Hufflepuff match proved to be disappointing for the lions. It was the first time in seven years a Gryffindor team had lost to Hufflepuff. For once, the Hufflepuffs had a swagger in their step, much to Sirius’ chagrin. Unfortunately, their loss meant that Slytherin was highly favored to win the cup that year, unless they lost both their next matches and Gryffindor won by a large margin against Ravenclaw. This seemed next to impossible, especially since the Slytherin team was in good form that year.

The Slytherins were taking vicious pleasure in taunting the Gryffindors every chance they got – the corridors between classes, lunch hour and in the courtyard during free afternoons.

“Oye Potter!” Slytherin beater Vaisey called out as they were walking down to the lake. “You better quit the Quidditch team and join the Gobstones club instead. I hear they’re recruiting!”

“I would, Vaisey, but I heard their last spot was being held for you!” shot back James. A few people around them laughed. James drew himself slightly taller as he walked away.

“What’s wrong with Gobstones Club?” muttered Remus frowning.

“Moony,” Sirius turned to him incredulously, “Don’t tell me you joined?”

“I was going to, but not anymore,” he replied sheepishly as James and Sirius snickered.

“You’re quite the nerd!” Sirius laughed mockingly.

“I’ll remember that the next time you want to nick my potion to submit to Slughorn,” replied Remus dryly. That sobered him up immediately.

“Off for some extra practice Potter? I hear you need it!” smirked Avery. He was flanked by Snape and Wilkes.

James, who had had enough of these taunts all week, whipped around and pointed his wand at Avery. There was a flash.

“Put on some pants on next time, Avery. I hear you need it!” shouted James smugly, drawing the attention of students nearby. Avery looked down at his exposed, skinny legs, standing awkwardly with nothing waist down except his briefs. People lounging around in the vicinity gathered around the scene gradually, pointing and laughing at Avery. His face went red and Wilkes took a step forward.

“Oh… Oh… wait!” Sirius called out carelessly, had his wand pointed high up. Everyone followed Sirius’ gaze. Sirius’ wand was holding up Avery’s pants, suspending it from a high tree branch. Avery made a swipe for the wand but Sirius jerked his hand away expertly. Wilkes pointed his wand at Sirius and made a slashing movement but Sirius was too quick for him. He brought down Avery’s pants and tried to force them down Wilke’s head, such that the belt tightened around his eyes. He turned his head around wildly, trying to shake it off. But that only resulted in the legs of the pant flapping around comically on top of his head. The crowd around burst out laughing.

“James!” cried Peter warningly. James who had been laughing heartily at Wilkes turned just in time to see Avery raising his wand at him. James acted fast, and Avery stood rigid as a board, with only his eyeballs moving.

“You should know better than that by now,” James laughed unkindly, shaking his head and grinning around at his spectators. He noticed that the Gryffindor girls had joined them as well.

“Here,” supplied Sirius, summoning a worm from the ground. He used his wand and directed the worm to Avery’s forehead. Avery’s eyes widened, and face turned an ugly shade of purple as the worm crawled down his nose.

“Tell me, Avery. You hungry?” mocked James, flicking his wand such that the worm sat directly on Avery’s lips. He saw a sudden movement and for the first time noticed Snape standing a few steps away, watching him hatefully. Snape’s wand arm was half raised.

Expelliarmus!” James shouted, pointing to Snape.

“Excellent,” Sirius commented lightly, eyeing Snape gleefully. Snape took a step forward and Sirius flicked his wand, causing him to trip and fall. The crowd tittered and James drew himself taller.

“That’s enough, Potter,” a low voice said from his side. He knew without turning who it was.

“Evans!” he addressed the owner of the voice heartily, drawing everyone’s attention to her. Lily’s face went red and she glared at him. “Saint Evans, who can do no wrong. Tell me, Evans…” His tone was polite but dripping with sarcasm, “Do you want me to stop because you think it’s wrong or because I’ve got your boyfriend at the end of my wand?”

Lily drew her wand, her eyes flashing.

“Listen” Remus spoke up quietly, laying a warning hand on Sirius’ shoulder. “She’s right. It’s enough.” Remus jerked his head towards the castle.

Sirius glanced and saw a couple of Prefects approaching them at a distance to see what the commotion was all about. He sighed and lowered his wand. James wand was still raised, and he was looking defiantly at Lily.

“James,” implored Remus. James ignored him.  

“Evans, put away your wand unless you want detention,” cautioned Remus, appealing to Lily.

“Let him do it first,” she said through her teeth.

“Don’t tell me what to do!” James shot back.

The prefects were drawing closer. Remus appealed to Sirius silently.

Sirius glanced between James, the petrified Avery and Evans. An interesting scene. Remus shook his head warningly. Sirius sighed and finally laid a hand on James’ shoulder. “Let’s go,” he said flicking his hair off his forehead.

James held his stance for a few more seconds, just to prove he could, and then pocketed his wand, still glaring at Lily. Remus heaved a sigh of relief and quickly removed the jinx from Avery, Wilkes and Snape.

“Lily, come,” Mary tugged at her arm.

Lily lowered her wand, still fuming. The crowd was slowly disintegrating. The Slytherins took a step towards them, but saw the approaching Prefects and left, glowering and red-faced.

James noticed something as they walked away –

“Adhara, I thought you said your brother was suspended!” he asked, frowning. The Gryffindor third years stopped and looked in the direction of his gaze.

“He’s back?” Dorcas narrowed her eyes at him.

“Yeah, this morning,” replied Adhara with a grimace.

“What about the inquiry?” Marlene demanded, appalled.

“Knowing my father, gold must have exchanged hands, and everything else swept under the rug,” replied Adhara dryly.

“Even after Dark Magic?” asked Lily, her eyes widening  indignantly.

“Dumbledore wouldn’t have agreed to that,” said Remus firmly, shaking his head.

“No, but the governors would,” sighed Adhara. Sirius agreed with a snort. She was eyeing Rigel distastefully.

“You lot better beat Slytherin in the next game,” said Mary firmly, throwing a nervous look in Rigel’s direction.



Sirius and James hadn’t forgotten their plans to get back at Filch. James and Sirius had been debating hotly whether or not to enlist Professor Kettleburn’s nifflers with Hagrid’s help, when Remus intervened.

“You both have no finesse!” Remus commented, shaking his head. “We want to make his life difficult, not get expelled overnight!”

Sirius looked affronted. 

“What do you propose?” asked James seriously, turning to Remus.

“We’ll start small, but do plenty.” Remus grinned mischievously. “Tonight, we break the bathroom pipes and flood three corridors!”

“Yeah, let’s do the ones which have classrooms!” suggested Peter.

James looked excited. Sirius didn’t say anything.

“We’ll use your nifflers, Sirius,” sighed Remus, in the tone one would use to mollify a petulant child. “Just not right away.”

Sirius sulked for a while but couldn’t help joining in moments later. Remus smirked knowing Sirius would rather cut off his hand than not be in the midst of all the excitement.

The next morning, Filch’s scream of fury was music to their ears. As they had expected, first hour classes were cancelled in light of all the commotion and cleaning that had to be done. Somebody (they highly suspected it to be Peeves) had taken to splashing ink in those waters.

They spent that happy hour sitting by the lakeside to plan their next move.

“This time, we take Mrs. Norris,” said Remus raising his eyebrows diabolically.

The Gryffindor girls looked at them suspiciously as they kept whispering and chuckling the whole day. Filch was seen muttering furiously, barking and shaking his fist at any student who dared to come ten feet within his vision.

That night, they put their next plan in action. This proved to be relatively tricky as they had to get to Mrs. Norris without being spotted by Filch. Just as Sirius and Remus were arguing furiously under the cloak,

“Look! There’s Peeves!” pointed Peter, in his squeaky voice.

“So?” barked Sirius in a hoarse whisper.

“We could use him to lure Mrs. Norris!” explained Peter impatiently.

The others raised their eyebrows, considering this. Peeves was floating around the corridor, tearing apart flowers from vases ornamenting the pillars. Before they could decide anything, Sirius had ducked out from under the cloak. Remus groaned.

“Well, hello there Peeves!” he said cheekily.

“You’re out of bed!” he pointed accusingly, cackling in a loud voice.

“So are you!” Sirius raised his eyebrows.

Peeves did a mid-air flip. “But I can’t get expelled!” he sang.

“We need your help,” said Sirius directly.

“You want Peevsie to keep quiet-y about your a-walking?”  He said in a sing-song voice.

“Yeah sure. Whatever. But, I need you to break some lanterns as well.”

Peeves looked taken aback. It was probably the most bizarre thing any student had ever said to him. His face broke into a wide smile and he disappeared with a pop. James pulled off the invisibility cloak.

“Great,” muttered Remus frowning. “He’s probably breaking things elsewhere.”

“Idiot,” muttered Sirius, glaring at Peter. “We have the cloak, and wands. Why did we even involve Peeves?”

Before Peter could reply hotly, there was a sudden pop and Peeves reappeared, floating upside down with his arms and legs folded.

“Aha!” he said loudly. “There’s more of you!”

“Shh!” said Remus urgently. “We need to find Mrs. Norris,” he said coming to the point directly. “Can you help us?”

Peeves regarded them, scratching his chin dramatically. There was a whoosh and then the sound of something hitting the floor with a crash. The pieces flew near Peter’s feet.

“That’s a lantern, alright,” Peter said dryly, jerking his foot away.

Soon, Peeves was throwing everything in sight, making a racket and singing a song. Sure enough, Mrs. Norris appeared around the bend.

“PEEVES!”

The four of them jumped at Filch’s distant roar. James quickly stunned Mrs. Norris and Peter scooped her up in his arms. Remus beckoned them under the cloak.

“Sirius!” James called urgently.

Sirius had quite forgotten what they were there for. He was thoroughly enjoying himself jumping around and smashing everything he could lay his hands on, along with Peeves.

“Here they are!’ Peeves called out to Filch. Sirius grinned at Peeves and ducked under the cloak. “Loony, Scruffy, Potty and Shorty!”

They heard Peeves singing above the hoarse yelling of Filch as they hurried away, Mrs. Norris’ unblinking eyes staring eerily at them. Distant cries of ‘Loony, Scruffy, Potty and Shorty’ were still heard at a distance.

“Is that supposed to be us?” wondered Peter with a frown.

“Yeah, shorty!” smirked Sirius.

“Better than Scruffy!” Peter shot back.

“I’m not scruffy! James is. Look at his hair!” argued Sirius.

“He’s potty. Potter – potty,” pointed out Peter.

“Watch who you’re calling potty!” interjected James indignantly.

“Loony Moony,” sang Sirius, snorting. Remus slapped the back of his head.

They argued in this vein till they reached the charms classroom. Finishing their task, the four of them hurried back to the common room chuckling in anticipation.

Needless to say, Professor Flitwick’s expression when Mrs. Norris landed on top of his inadvertent bald head with an angry mewl was beyond priceless.



Breakfast at the Great Hall was proceeding as normally as ever. Peter was fidgeting excitedly in his seat. Sirius shot him a disdainful look that stilled him. This would be their biggest prank till date. James kept glancing at the walls.

“Are you sure we did it right?” muttered Peter.

“Maybe we needed to tap it with our wands to activate it or something,” Remus frowned. “Did we do it right?” he echoed.

“We did exactly what that bloke at Zonko’s said,” started Sirius defensively. He had been the one to relay the instructions to the others.

“Anytime now,” James shushed them impatiently.

And sure enough, within a few moments there was a loud whoosh, followed by screams and shrieks. The walls and pillars of the great hall had started to behave like hosepipes for different colors of paint. The students of all houses found themselves being drenched in thick, sticky paint. The teachers stared in shock. Girls were shrieking. A few Ravenclaws had the presence of mind to duck under the tables and a lot followed them. Some boys had started wrestling and kicking up the puddles on the floor. Peeves came swooping in, cackling delightedly and catching fistfuls of paint to throw at the students who were trying to edge away from the jets.

Sirius and James leapt up victoriously and started smearing the people trying to hide under the tables. James crawled under the Gryffindor table.

Gotcha!” he laughed, grabbing the nearest arm, streaking it with his yellow palms. He found himself looking into the smiling face of Lily Evans. The next second he received a face full of paint punctuated by a mirthful laugh. He reached out for her face, which had somehow escaped color assault. She tried to stop him with her arms, but he still hadn’t relinquished his hold. She relented and laughed in protest as he smeared her face. She smiled mischievously at him and James suddenly felt his neck grow hot. For a moment, his reflexes slowed, allowing her to lunge forward and rub paint into his hair. She laughed triumphantly and her brilliant green eyes twinkled. He suddenly realized he had been staring, and turned away abruptly. He busied himself with elaborately jumping on Sirius, unawares, and making a big show of taking advantage of Peter’s slowed reflexed.

Almost as if from somewhere far away, James could hear the teachers calling order. He and Sirius were rolling on the floor, every inch of skin and robes covered in paint goo, trying to get out of each other’s reach.

Peeves had taken to throwing food at people and was singing -

‘Look out Filch, here comes more

Beware of them, the marauders four’


“Potter! Black!”

It was only McGonagall’s stern voice that could have brought the two of them to their feet. Even then, James was feeling particularly rebellious and indulged in one more aim at Sirius before resurfacing. People were scrambling out from under the tables. The Paint Pellets had exhausted themselves.

“Do you know anything about this?” she asked them suspiciously, glancing at Peeves who continued to sing that ridiculous rhyme.

“What, this?” asked Sirius, eyes growing wide in mock-innocence. McGonagall’s eyebrows went so high up on her forehead that James thought it might disappear into her hair. She turned her eyes to James who shook his head, raising his arms.

“Maybe Peeves?” James suggested.

Peeves bought Paint Pellets from Zonko’s?” McGonagall pursed her lips.

“Paint Pellets? That’s what these are?” Sirius’ fake bewilderment wasn’t fooling anyone. Least of all McGonagall. James stifled a snort. She raked her eyes across the hall, taking in the students in various states of coloration and dishevelment, the heads of various houses trying in vain to subdue the chaos.

…Beware of them, the marauders four,” Peeves’ voice rang out in the commotion.

She turned her suspicious gaze back to James, Sirius, resting momentarily on Peter and Remus.

“If I find out that you have anything to do with this, you can kiss your Hogsmeade trips goodbye for the rest of this year,” she addressed them scathingly.

Remus looked slightly ashamed and Peter fretful. James and Sirius however held her withering gaze almost until their eyes threatened to water, until she turned around.

“Clean up and get back to your classes everybody,” she announced in an angry voice.

“Look out Filch, here comes more

Beware of them, the marauders four”


“That’s enough, Peeves!” she barked, whipping her cloak around and marched away.

The crowd that filed out of the Great Hall was buzzing with a mixture of disgruntled prefects, remnants of laughter, a bit of speculation and a lot of amazement. There seemed to be almost no doubt in anyone’s mind that it was indeed the Gryffindor foursome who had pulled this off. Peeves’ rhyme was running in everybody’s head and some were even humming it as they went their way.

The rhyme spread through the school.  This day was talked about for many years to come: staff rooms and common rooms were abuzz, for something of this magnitude had not been pulled off at Hogwarts in a really long time. The lower classes were in awe while the seniors  grudgingly admitted that this was indeed the most brilliant prank anyone had dared to pull. Fifth year Luke Jordan, a well-known school prankster, walked up to them and clasped their hands in appreciation. The four of them reached a state of infamy, among students, teachers and ghosts alike. Even Peeves recognized them as kindred spirits, and allowed them to walk down the corridors without any threats of assaults.

Peeves didn’t know it then, but he had created history that day. This was the day that James Potter, Sirius Black, Remus Lupin and Peter Pettigrew collectively came to be known as ‘The Marauders’.


A/N: 

The Marauders are christened thus - finally! So what do you all think of how this was done? I always thought McG would be the one to name them... and then Peeves swooped in with his song, and thus were born the Marauder's Four!

NB, HB, 2AB, ARK - you guys rock my RL

Chiara! (Felpata Lupin) I couldn't have done this without you my wonderful beta/betee. (she writes the most wonderful stories! You should check it out!)

This chapter is for you dear Gina (Unwritten Curse) - you make me a better writer each day (because she's such an awesome writer guys, you should really read her stuff)


Chapter 15: 3rd Year - Happy Chirstmas!
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

“Doc!” exclaimed James, slapping a high-five with his favorite cousin, Caradoc ‘Doc’ Dearborn.

“Looking good this year,” said Doc, beaming around the Potter living room, covered with Christmas decorations.

“When are we getting on that broom?” asked James. Doc was the one who had taught him to fly in the first place. Whenever he came over, they would fly around the gardens, playing one on one Quidditch.

“Let me talk to Uncle Flea first.”

“If I was fifteen, you’d be hanging upside down for that!” A jovial voice boomed from inside.

“It’s a good thing I’m your favorite nephew then,” grinned Doc, cheekily as Fleamont Potter walked into the living room.

“What’s the spell for hanging someone upside down?” asked James eagerly.

Mr. Potter raised his eyebrows. “Your mother already blames me for all the trouble you get into at school!” He shook his head in an attempt to be stern, but James caught a glint of amusement in his eyes.

“Aunt Fem’s right,” replied Doc. “You were a pretty bad influence on me when I was growing up too.”  

“Hey, watch it!” Mr. Potter pointed a finger at him as James grinned.

“You did teach me to set fire to those hideous robes. And I was only eleven!” Doc shook his head in mock-disapproval.

“Well, I should’ve just let you wear them,” Mr. Potter said ruefully. “I wish I saw my niece as often as I see you. At least she’s not rude and ungrateful!” His eyebrows raised sternly but his eyes twinkled.

“Adrianne and mum have gone over to the other side,” Doc declared solemnly. “Wedding planning,” he explained to a confused James.

“Don’t tell your Aunt Fem,” cautioned Mr. Potter, indicating him to lower his voice.

“Tell me what?” Euphemia Potter joined them. Mr. Potter shook his head vigorously at the two of them behind her back.

“Adrianne and Aunt Eleanor are planning the wedding,” James supplied, quite satisfied with the reaction his words elicited - his father groaned and his mother’s face lit up and her eyes shone excitedly.

“Excellent! Let me call El and see what I can do…” she hustled away.

Mr. Potter glared at his son who grinned back impishly. “You know what’s going to happen now, don’t you.”

“You did want to see more of Adrianne,” pointed out Doc, grinning.

“I also want to enjoy my meals in peace,” Mr. Potter exasparated.

James and Doc laughed heartily.

“So Caradoc-”

“Doc,” he corrected, grimacing as they all sat down.

“Caradoc,” repeated Mr. Potter, raising his chin defiantly. Doc made a face. “How is the job at the ministry?”

“Since last summer, things have become hectic,” replied Doc, settling back on the couch comfortably. “A whole lot of us got promoted in DMAC, Department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes.”

“Is the Ministry still claiming these events to be accidents?” Mr. Potter frowned.

“The Ministry is. Jenkins isn’t,” Doc replied dryly.

“Doesn’t the Minister represent the views of the Ministry?” asked James.

“One would assume that,” he said cryptically. James struggled to understand.

“She’s fumbling,” explained his father.

“There’s rampant Muggle baiting. The Oblivators are working overtime. Jenkins wants to go public with this Dark Lord, but there’s a lot of pressure from the other Departments to keep it quiet,” supplied Doc.

“They fear mass hysteria,” concurred Mr. Potter.

“Well, fear of the unknown is worse than fear of the known,” said Doc, wisely.

“How much do we really know about this Dark Lord?” questioned James, slowly catching up on the conversation.

“We know he’s ruthless,” replied Doc grimly. “We don’t know who his followers are, who he really is. On one hand we have riots and open killings, on the other we have mysterious disappearances.”

“I didn’t agree with the way Jenkins handled the aftermath of Shaftsbury riots,” said Mr. Potter frowning.

“You and a lot others,” agreed Doc.

“Five of her aurors, including one of the finest, went missing for over two months! Instead of finding them, she was releasing press statements about Pureblood Supremacists!” Mr. Potter shook his head disapprovingly.

“That was a wrong move on her part,” concurred Doc. “Most purebloods started to gravitate towards this Dark Lord’s principles after that.”

“She should try to bring the purebloods on our side, not push them away!” agreed Mr. Potter. James noticed the way his father’s eyes narrowed behind his spectacles - a clear sign that he was irked.

“But shouldn’t they be trying to save lives instead?” asked James, appalled.

“In the Ministry, political agendas take precedence to wizard welfare,” replied Doc, shaking his head. “The Auror office hasn’t been given free rein to hunt these Death Eaters.”

“Why not?” James frowned, struggling to comprehend. “Don’t they come directly under the control of the Minister?”

Doc deliberated on this point, appearing to choose his words carefully. “I suspect, and a lot of people agree, that Jenkins isn’t completely in control.”

“What do you mean?” asked Mr. Potter sharply, leaning forward to hear Doc’s response.

“These Death Eaters, it is rumored that they have infiltrated the Ministry. A lot of ministry operations are being thwarted. Jenkins doesn’t know to deal with this. She turns to her advisors, who in turn are looking to grab the power from under her.”

“Then she should give autonomy to the Aurors. Let them do what they’ve been trained to,” interjected James. It was a simple solution, he couldn’t see why the adults seemed to complicate everything.

“Which could still backfire,” argued Doc. “Letting the Aurors loose could only increase chaos. She would either be kept in the dark, or we would have more Orestes Meadowes in our hands.”

“Or both!” Mr. Potter said. Doc agreed.

“Then what’s the solution to this?” asked James, frowning, still unable to understand why the Aurors couldn’t just hunt the Death Eaters down.

“It isn’t that simple, son,” replied his father, shaking his head. “Each person has their own agenda. The Prophet wants to create sensation, Jenkins’ advisories want the power, Jenkins wants to keep her job, Wizengamot wants to protect the Statute of Secrecy, and the Auror department wants to increase its capture rate.  This has destabilized the ministry from within, making it an easy target for this bloke to take over.”

“I couldn’t have put it better,” commented Doc. “If only we could just bypass the Ministry and the politics associated all together.”

James suddenly had a vision of Jenkins and Ministry workers arguing with each other in a classroom at Hogwarts while faceless cloaked people (Death Eaters) barged in, shooting spells all over while the Ministry workers scrambled. “So, basically, we need group of people independent of the ministry whose sole aim is to bring this wizard down,” surmised James slowly.

“That sounds about right,” nodded Doc.

“You’d be hard pressed to find someone who would be willing to take that on,” said his father, shaking his head cynically.

“Believe me, I’d be the first one to sign up if something like that does come up,” assured Doc vehemently.

James glanced at Mr. Potter who was nodding approvingly. He made up his mind to be a part of something like that if it did come up. If it was good enough for his Dad and Doc, it was good enough for him.




Dear Sirius,

Merry Christmas!

Here’s a gift from Ted and I. I really hope you like it. I’m sorry we couldn’t give you anything better, but Ted just joined Healer training, and money is a little sparse. He is applying for a scholarship, so we are hoping that comes through.

Nymphadora is growing quite fast, and adores her daddy. She is already showing strong signs of magic. She hates her yellow onesie, and every time I force her into it, it mysteriously appears in the garden or below the kitchen sink. She’s so active like her father, I’m sure she’s going to be a handful.

Cissy came to the store last week to see me. Did you know she’s getting married in Summer? She wanted me to abandon Ted and Nymphadora to come back home. I told her I’ve got no good reason to.

How are things with you?

Write back soon,

Love,

Andromeda

Sirius opened the package that the letter was attached to. It was a muggle poster of a motorbike, one he had particularly admired with Ted that summer. Grinning ear to ear, he proceeded to pin that over the silver-grey, gloomy wallpaper in his room. He stood back, pleased with how its addition marginally brightened the room. For the first time in his life, he felt like he belonged in that room.

Still smiling to himself, he moved over to sit on the window ledge and pointed his wand at a potted cactus across from him. He was aimlessly shooting spells at it, making it swell and shrink and change colors at his will. The door to his bedroom opened with a slow creak just as he was levitating the pot.

“You know you’re not supposed to do magic at home,” frowned Regulus.

Sirius snorted, looking haughtily at his brother. “I don’t see any Ministry Owls, do you?” He glided the pot in midair, circling over Regulus’ head.

“Cut it out,” muttered Regulus, dodging as Sirius purposefully brought the pot close to his head.

“What are you doing here?” asked Sirius carelessly, guiding the pot away from Regulus’ head.

“Mum and Dad are mad at you,” he replied grumpily. “They got McGonagall’s complaint letters.”

“Well bollocks for them,” Sirius replied in a bored voice.

“Yeah, just wanted to warn you,” said Regulus shaking his head in disapproval. “You should be more responsible. What will they think of our parents?”

He looked scornfully at the puny twelve year old in front of him. “That they’re lousy. Which they are anyway,” he replied, scowling. Regulus’ lofty tone irritated Sirius. Who did he think he was, anyway?

“No they’re not,” started Regulus hotly.

A knock on the door interrupted them.  

Sirius flicked his hair from his eyes, dropping the pot to the floor with a crash. He pointed his wand at the door and it flew open with a bang. His father walked in with a grimace, irked at all the noise. His grey eyes were fixed upon Sirius’ face.

“I want to speak with Sirius,” his father directed at Regulus, who left without a word, closing the door shut behind him. A booming silence existed in the air, as Sirius braced himself for whatever might come next. Orion Black stepped around the broken pot and took a step towards Sirius so he was directly facing him. Sirius had his legs propped up on the ledge, his back resting against the frame. He glanced at his father who was looking particularly grim, especially with his black hair combed back sleekly, causing his forehead to look wider than it was. Sirius sincerely hoped he hadn’t inherited Orion’s receding hairline. He didn’t think a long forehead would be very becoming of him.

“Your mother and I aren’t happy,” he started, his hands clasped together behind his back, towering intimidatingly over Sirius.

“Are you getting a divorce? Can I choose foster care?” he asked brightly, not succumbing to his father’s demeanor.

“Sirius,” his father reprimanded. “You wouldn’t last a day in foster care,” he scoffed, his lips curling. “We have given you everything, yet you sit there ungratefully-”

Everything?” Sirius’ eyebrows shot up his forehead.

“Don’t interrupt me,” his father replied sternly. Sirius pulled a face and turned his head away from him. “It looks like you’re spending most of your time playing the fool with this Potter lad.”

“Does it?” he asked mildly, knowing it would irk his father further.

“I’ve had a letter from the head of your house.” His father’s eyes flashed dangerously, causing a mild trickle of fear nudge the back of his mind.

“Which house would that be again?” Sirius asked politely, beating down that fear and enjoying watching his father turn red at his mocking undertone.

His father’s eyes darkened. “You need to grow up,” he said coldly. “I haven’t had one complaint about your brother, and he’s younger than you. Shouldn’t you be setting an example for him?”

“I’m trying, but the bugger isn’t very bright,” replied Sirius insolently. It was almost a reflex for him, answering back.

“Your brother’s grades are excellent. So is his choice of friends.” His father’s voice was rising steadily.

“Shocker.”

“Stop answering back,” his father snapped. Sirius smirked, pleased to have chagrinned his pompous father. Orion Black cast his eyes around Sirius’ room. Sirius hadn’t bothered personalizing it since he had left for Hogwarts. His empty trunk was thrown to one end, and his clothes arranged haphazardly inside the chest of drawers. His house elf didn’t seem to like him much, and he could only assure the feeling was mutual. Sirius had the satisfaction of watching his father’s eyes narrow at the sight of the motorcycle poster.

“What in Salazaar’s Hidden Monster is that?”

“A motorcycle,” replied Sirius, grinning.

“Is it… Muggle?” His father seemed to be struggling to keep his calm, his face turning a nasty shade of purple with the effort.

“Oh yes, definitely!” Sirius rushed to concur enthusiastically. “Ted Tonks gave it to me, y’know the bloke who married-”

“Andromeda. I’m aware,” spat his father. “The Mudblood.” His lips curled into a sneer, looking remarkably like Sirius as he did so. Sirius had grown up hearing the word thrown around casually, but for the first time found himself quite indignant, and returned his father’s sneer with one of his own.

“When are you going to stop all this silliness?” his father sighed, his tone resignatory all of a sudden. He moved to sit down on the bed. “Your mother is quite heartbroken.”

“Not possible. She doesn’t have one,” he replied carelessly, turning his face out of the window.

“She pinned all her hopes on you,” he ploughed on as if Sirius hadn’t spoken, “and you’ve been nothing but disappointing. You’re a Pureblood, a Black nonetheless. It’s time you started acting like one.”

“What do you suggest?” Sirius asked seriously, turning to his father. “Shall I be bitchy and boorish like dear ol’ mum or blinkered and chicken like you?”

Orion Black rose up angrily and took a step forward as if he would dearly like to strike Sirius. His arm convulsed, and he balled his fists and stopped his advance abruptly. His face turned a shade of purple.

“Get rid of that,” he spat, indicating the motorcycle poster. “There will be no Muggle objects in my house. A Gryffindor is bad enough.”

With one last scathing look around the room, his father swept out, banging the door shut behind him. Sirius glanced at the poster and a wicked smile drew across his lips. A Gryffindor is bad enough, was it? Well, he’d show him exactly how Gryffindor his room could be!




Dorcas was eating her steak, trying her best to tune out her mother who was going on about mindless neighborhood gossip.

“Are you listening to me Dory?” her mother’s impatient voice cut through her thoughts.

“What?” she blinked.

Her mother sighed and looked irately at her. “We’re having guests over for tea.”

“Oh.” Dorcas grimaced.

Another one of her mother’s airhead friends.

“It’s important you’re here too.”

Dorcas snapped her head up in surprise. Her mother knew that Dorcas didn’t enjoy such interactions, why would she suggest something like that?

“Mum,” Dorcas started in protest.

“I wouldn’t normally ask. But this is important. Your father’s ex-partner is coming to visit.”

There was something taut in her mother’s expression.

“What’s wrong?” Dorcas asked shrewdly.

Her mother sighed and placed her fork down on the table. She deliberately dabbed at her mouth with the napkin. Dorcas frowned and rapped her fingers on the table impatiently.

“I want you to know… your father was a good man,” she started. Her eyes were cast down. Her voice had lost its usual lilt. “Beatrice Sinclair. Your father’s partner back from before we got married.” When her mother looked up, her eyes were glistening. It wasn’t new to Dorcas, to see her mother shed tears. It happened all the time. She had been the one to pick up the pieces when her father died.

“She’s… your father and her…” her mother hesitated slightly, but ploughed on. “Well, he was away for long periods after we got engaged, and sometimes… human tendencies… well, they had an affair…”

Dorcas let out a squeak of surprise.

“… and er- you have a brother. Beatrice and her son are coming to visit us today.”

Dorcas sat stunned, while her mother busied herself in clearing up the table. She couldn’t believe her ears. Her father? There must be a mistake. He was honorable and virtuous. The Orestes Meadowes Dorcas knew and looked up to wouldn’t cheat on her mother.

“How did you come to know?” Dorcas asked at long last, her voice tremulous with the effort to keep calm.

Her mother turned from the sink to face her. “Your father confessed about the affair to me the night before our wedding. He had just come back from an assignment, and he asked me if I wanted to call off the wedding.”

“Why didn’t you?” she burst out indignantly.

Her mother smiled sadly. “Orestes isn’t a cheater. He told me straight away, and I knew he repented it. I wasn’t about to hold it over him and lose what we had.”

“But, a son? All these years and you never told me?” Dorcas accused. Her brown eyes were flashing behind her round frames.

“That, both your father and I were unaware of. You see, after our wedding, both Sinclair and your father applied to be reassigned and never saw each other again. Ms. Sinclair reached out to me last month, expressing her condolences and her wish to unite the families.”

Dorcas narrowed her eyes. “But they’re not family,” she replied angrily. “Dad never married her, did he?” She crossed her arms across her chest, and glare at her mother for suggesting something like that.

“Your father would have loved to know his son.” Her eyes were tearing up again. “Not that you ever disappointed him Dory,” she added hastily. “You remind me of him every day, so brave and strong. He was always proud of you.”

Dorcas softened a little at that. She had always admired, and idolized her father. She couldn’t imagine he would do something like that. No, there must have been some mistake.

Her mother turned back to her chores, and Dorcas spent the afternoon badgering her with questions as she cleaned and straightened up the place in a fluster. How did she know they weren’t lying? Did she check up on them? What if they wanted a share of father’s money? Her mother laughed at the last one, pointing out that they were hardly rich. How could her mother be so okay with it? She felt a familiar anger towards her mother boiling up inside of her. She remembered the last time she felt this angry was when her father had died, and her mother hadn’t been keen enough to find out exactly why or how it had happened. She simply couldn’t understand her mother.

She decided she wasn’t going to like this other woman and her stupid son. In fact, she was in half a mind to lock herself in her room and refuse to meet them. While she was debating this, with curiosity just slightly winning over rebellion, there was a whoosh, and the flames at the fireplace turned green. Her mother came hurrying from the kitchen, and Dorcas stood up from the couch.

A tall woman stepped out.

“You must be Mrs. Meadowes,” she spoke, extending her hand to Dorcas’ mother. Her voice was deep and guttural.

“Please, call me Petra,” her mother insisted.

“My son is coming along,” the woman said, turning her liquid, black eyes to Dorcas.

Dorcas saw her face clearly for the first time. She grudgingly understood why her father might have been tempted. Her smooth skin, high cheekbones, a mild dimple on her left cheek, her sleek straight hair framing her heart shaped face and her set jaw gave her a stately look. If age was any indication, Dorcas guessed that she must have been nothing short of stunning fourteen years ago.

“Dorcas?” she smiled. Dorcas nodded sulkily, and replied rather reluctantly. Her good looks and charm might have worked on her father, and maybe her mother, but not on Dorcas. There was another whoosh, and the sound of a second person landing into their living room.

Despite herself, Dorcas looked on interestedly as the boy straightened up, dusting soot off his clothing, and looked up, flicking his brown hair off his forehead. The second she laid eyes on him, Dorcas had no doubt this was her father’s son. While both of them had inherited her father’s olive skin tone, she could very well see a striking resemblance in the boy (she would not call him her brother). He had taken after her father’s Greek looks to perfection – the same chiseled jaw, the flawless nose, the high cheekbones and perfectly proportionate features.

“This is Leroy. Leroy Orestes Sinclair,” the woman introduced, putting an arm around him.

“You look just like Orestes did when he was fifteen,” her mother exclaimed, clasping her hands together as she welcomed him. The boy attempted a weak smile, clearly uncomfortable. Dorcas felt slightly better as she frowned at him. Her mother ushered them to their seats and disappeared into the kitchen to bring out some snacks she had prepared. An uncomfortable silence prevailed as Dorcas, Leroy and his mother sat in silence.

“So, Dorcas, you go to Hogwarts right? Have you seen Leroy around?”

“I can’t say that I have,” she replied sullenly, crossing her arms across her chest and leaning back against the cushions. Her mother frowned at her but Dorcas just made a face.

“What is your favorite subject?”

Dorcas was tempted to roll her eyes obviously but didn’t dare to do so under her mother’s watchful eye. “Defense, Ms. Sinclair,” she mumbled, not wanting to look directly at her, almost afraid that she might end up liking her, which she didn’t want to.

“Beatrice,” the woman insisted. Dorcas shrugged. “I know you must have a lot of questions, and we’re all here to clear things out,” she said gently.

“Why now?” demanded Dorcas, abandoning her resolve to not interact. “My father has been dead for over a year.”

“That’s a good question,” said Beatrice calmly, as though she had expected this. “When I heard about Orestes, I wanted to reach out. But I had sworn to myself never to contact him or his family again. It was a bit of a struggle, but I realized I was being selfish, and that Leroy had a right to learn about his father. So I wrote to your mother.”

Dorcas hated that she sounded sincere enough. It could still all be an act. “What’s the point now that he’s dead?” asked Dorcas, continuing to eye her suspiciously. Leroy looked at Dorcas approvingly and then pointedly at his mother, as if he had asked the same thing earlier. Dorcas felt oddly pleased.

Beatrice sighed, tucking her hair behind her ear and clasping her hands in front of her. Dorcas’ mother emerged with tea and biscuits and Beatrice waited until she handed around before sitting on the couch beside Dorcas.

“The thing is, Orestes and I, we never had a relationship,” she started slowly taking a sip. Dorcas’ tea remained untouched as she leaned forward to listen. “We were both driven, committed to our job. What… what transpired between us was - I can’t define it. I could see Orestes regretted it deeply. And if I had told him I was pregnant, he would have done the right thing and broken things off with your mother. But neither of us would have been happy. He was going to be married to the love of his life in two months, and I didn’t see any reason to disrupt that.”

“Your father was an honorable man,” Dorcas’ mother spoke up, addressing Leroy. “He would have been so happy to know he had a son. But the guilt would have killed him inside.” Beatrice nodded in agreement. “Would you like to see some pictures?” she asked kindly to Leroy. Leroy nodded almost reluctantly, his eyes eager but face impassive, and Petra Meadowes went inside to fetch them.

There was something else Dorcas wanted to ask, but didn’t know if she should. She decided to go for it anyway. “Did you love him?” she burst out. Beatrice smiled sadly, looking as though she had expected this as well.

“Let me be frank with you,” she said, lowering her voice. “I loved your father. But I was too driven by duty to commit. And we were running around, fighting bad wizards, and all that adrenaline only added to our feelings. But your father would have never been happy with me. You see, he had a hero complex. He loved to protect and to care. And, I’m not a woman who craves either. Your father might have thought he loved me, but it was your mother that made him genuinely happy. At the end of the day, he wanted to come home to a sweet, simple woman whom he could shower all his affection on.”

Dorcas was taken aback at her candidness. She didn’t know what she had expected, but she hadn’t been prepared for this. Much to her chagrin, she found herself not only respecting Beatrice for her honesty, but also actually beginning to like her. She suddenly smiled at Beatrice for the first time since she came in. She turned to Leroy, looking at him properly. He looked vaguely familiar.

“Are you from Ravenclaw?” she asked hesitatingly, almost as if she wasn’t sure whether she wanted to be friendly or not.

He nodded. “I’m their seeker,” he declared proudly. Was it Dorcas’ imagination or did his voice sound like her father’s as well?

“I thought you looked familiar.”

“I’ve seen you around too. I knew you were my sister, but I didn’t know how to approach you.” He seemed to have inherited his mother’s forthrightness. My Sister. She was surprised how easily those words seemed to roll off his tongue. If she had to be honest, it all felt too weird for her.

Her mother returned with the photo albums, and started chattering away describing each photo. Dorcas caught Beatrice’s eyes more than once. There were questions she wanted to ask, questions her mother hadn’t known the answers to. Things about her father she had never had a chance to ask him, and things he would never have a chance to tell her now. She saw that her mother and Leroy were busy, and took the chance to address Beatrice quietly.

“How was my father, at work?” she asked eagerly.

She laughed lightly, a knowing look in her smile. “He wouldn’t let on. No matter how much the pressure, or how impossible the task was, Orestes wouldn’t weaken. He would tunnel through, and do what had to be done. I learnt a lot from him.”

“Are you still an Auror?” She wondered how life would be for Aurors.

“I applied for a desk job once Leroy came along. I’m still working for the Auror department though, as an analyst. I receive reports from various field agents and analyze the data, put things together and help them strategize.”

Dorcas nodded silently. There was one more question. Beatrice might know something about it. It was worth a shot. “Do you know… why he was killed?” Dorcas held her breath.

Beatrice looked at her sharply, and she tried to keep her face casual. “The Ministry must have-”

“They said it was an isolated incident and had nothing to do with the mission he was working on. They refused to tell us what that was either,” Dorcas cut in impatiently.

Beatrice nodded understandingly. “That’s usually the answer we give when someone is killed on the job. To protect their family.”

“You have no idea who killed him?” Dorcas persisted, not wanting to accept defeat. She hated that nobody would tell her why she was half-orphan.

Beatrice sighed, looking almost pityingly at Dorcas. “I’m afraid not. I know it must be difficult, not knowing. But don’t dwell much on that. Your father saved more lives than you can count, by being the best at his job. He is sure to have died a hero’s death.”

Beatrice turned her attention to Leroy and her mother. Dorcas was not satisfied with the answer she got, but it didn’t seem like Beatrice was going to say anything more on the topic. That fleeting hope she had nursed was crushed under Beatrice’s very pointed heel.




The Malfoy Manor was decked up for the occasion. Abraxas Malfoy hadn’t spared any knut in showing the world how extravagant they could afford to be. The floor was sparkling, the walls were glittering and the chandeliers were transcendent. Of course, Sirius Black didn’t care for any of this. It was yet another of those Black family commitments he had been dragged for. His father probably thought the company might inspire him to be more pure-blood, or something dumb like that. Well, he was far from being inspired right then. He stood at the far end, scowling around at the gathering. Regulus had been swept up by his friends from Slytherin, and was seen chattering away pleasantly. Lucius Malfoy’s pale face wore his characteristic creepy smile, as he accepted congratulations from everyone on his recent engagement. Narcissa Black was standing next to him, looking haughtily pleased. Sirius eyed the bottle of wine, wondering if some alcohol would make this evening easier to go through, when –

“I’m just glad Lily isn’t here to see you looking hungrily at that bottle!”

Sirius turned around, extremely thrilled to hear that familiar voice.

“Adhara!” he welcomed her heartily. “You might have just saved my life.”

“Don’t be so dramatic,” she chided him rolling her eyes, but looking pleased nevertheless. “Your brother seems to be having a ball,” she observed with a smirk.

“So is yours,” his reply came pat back as Rigel and Lucius greeted each other like old friends. Adhara mimed gagging, and they both laughed.

“I bet we’re the only Gryffindors here,” she surmised, noticing the napkins twisted in the shape of snakes, and all the glasses and bowls engraved with a snake coiled in the shape of M.

Sirius stuck his tongue out at the silverware rudely. They spent the next ten minutes bashing everybody who their eyes fell on, and Sirius started comparing their facial features to various animals they had studied in Care of Magical Creatures.

“Good to see you making some sound friends.”

Adhara’s face tightened, and Sirius saw her fingers clench. He turned to face Adhara’s father: Augustus Selwyn who was looking at Sirius with a mixture of appraisal and approval.

“Sirius Black, eh?” his strident voice falling unpleasantly on their ears. Sirius shrugged, carelessly raising his chin. “Teach my Adhara some spine, won’t you? She’s clearly not a Slytherin, and one wouldn’t believe she is a Gryffindor either.”

Sirius saw Adhara grip her cup tighter, and a rush of hatred towards Augustus Selwyn. “She’s alright,” he replied through his teeth coldly.

“I remember you both, playing together in our backyard when you were younger,” Mr. Selwyn carried on in his baritone, oblivious to Sirius’ demeanor. “I hope you knock some sense into her, boy.”

Sirius’ grey eyes flashed as he opened his mouth to retort but Augustus Selwyn was called away just then. He held his gaze to Sirius’ face a moment longer, almost as if daring him to talk back, and strode past before Sirius made his mind either way. He turned to see Adhara looking at him with a hard expression in her face.

“Lily’s not here. Grab that bottle. Let’s get out of here,” she said, her voice sounding strangulated.




Adhara took a sip from the bottle and grimaced. It was bitter. She decided she didn’t like wine all that much. She lay on her back, looking at the stars. They had climbed to the slanting roof of the Malfoy Manor, away from the light, sound and the people. It was just them and the stars, ironically imparting the feeling of vast insignificance of their lives. Sirius sat next to her, his elbows propped up on his knee. He took a much larger sip than hers.

“Hey,” she protested indignantly, “leave some for me!”

He tilted his head slightly towards her, his hair falling on his forehead and hiding the expression in his eyes from her. “Come and get it if you want!” he replied cockily.

She reached out for his robes, and pulled at it, using him as a support to sit up straight. He let out a bark like laugh and handed her the bottle. She took another sip, this time it seemed to taste much better. She tilted her head back, downing quite a bit.

“Slow down!” Sirius said, wrenching the bottle away from her hands. “You’re not used to it,” he said smiling down almost concernedly at her.

“And you are?” she cocked her head questioningly.

“I’ve had liquor before,” he replied shrugging and looking straight ahead. “Helps deal with the crap.”

“Lily says we’re too young to be drinking anything stronger than butterbeer,” she mused, hugging her knees to her chest.

Saint Lily lives in her own bubble,” scoffed Sirius.

“If it weren’t for her, between Rigel and my dad, I’d become an alcoholic in a week!” she snorted, her head felt slightly dizzy.

“Try living with my mum!” retorted Sirius. “You wouldn’t last two days!” He took large gulps, before handing the bottle over to her. “I don’t like wine much,” he commented with a grimace.

She placed the almost empty bottle beside her and placed her chin on her knee, looking out into the Malfoy’s lawn spread out vastly below them. She shivered a little.

She felt Sirius stretch out beside her. “Cold?” he asked, concernedly.

She turned to see him lying comfortably, both hands clasped behind his head, one leg dangling straight casually with the other propped up, bent at the knee. His hair was still hiding his eyes.

“No,” she replied softly. “I hate heights.”

“You’re kidding! Adhara Selwyn, afraid of heights?” Sirius laughed, a warm disbelieving laugh. It suddenly made her want to say what she said next.

“I was five,” she continued in that soft voice with a trace of bitterness, “and Rigel… he made me stand on top of the ledge of my house for over two hours. I was scared, alone and kept screaming for my mum. But she couldn’t hear. Rigel was amused,” she laughed humorlessly.

Sirius wasn’t laughing. He wasn’t even smiling. “Rigel’s a wanker,” he sneered.

She looked absently at the glittering fountain with champagne flowing from it. Distance sounds of the party travelled through the still air, reaching her ears. She giggled absently as she watched a stray cat take a lick at the champagne. She sighed and lay back. Her head came in contact with something soft, and she realized that Sirius had outstretched his hand. She squirmed to rest her neck comfortably over his arm.

“Watch out-” Sirius pointed out a moment too late.

Her foot had made contact with the bottle she had propped up beside her. It went rolling down the slope, and then fell over, making a distant crash, followed by a loud, angry mewl. Sirius and Adhara burst out laughing, the alcohol having made her all heady. Their laughter waned, and Adhara focused her eyes on the sky above.

“You know, I was named after a star,” she said inconsequentially.

“Second brightest in the sky, after Sirius,” he replied with a knowing grin. She looked at him in surprise.

“You should pay more attention in astronomy. This is why I’m the brightest and you’re second!” he replied superciliously.

“Well, Your Royal Highness Black, King of Astronomy,” she started, giggling. “Can you point me out in the sky?”

Sirius laughed. Adhara could hear a hint of wildness in his laughter. She supposed the alcohol had gotten to him as well. He pointed at the sky.

“That one!” he said.

“Which?” she followed his finger eagerly.

“Anything you want it to be,” he guffawed, letting his arm fall down loosely. “What’s in a name?” he asked, his voice hoarse from the laughing. “You’re a Selwyn, I’m a Black. Neither of us are ever going to live that down.”

He sounded rueful. She couldn’t blame him. His arm shifted under her and she lifted her head so he could withdraw it.

“I’d say you’re doing a pretty good job of it so far,” she commented lightly, letting her head fall back on the cold tiles. He turned to his side, propping his head up on the arm that Adhara’s head had rested on. A shadow was cast over half his face.

“What about you?” he asked.

She laughed sarcastically. “You heard my father. I’m neither Slytherin, nor Gryffindor.”

“You’re a Gryffindor,” he replied with conviction.

“Yeah?” she snorted disbelievingly. “I have never been able to stand up to Rigel. Not even when – well, my father’s right. I’m a coward.”

“No you’re not!” he said roughly. “Andromeda says, We’ve all got the light and dark inside us. It’s the part we choose to act on, that matters,” he said solemnly.

Adhara blinked and then started giggling. “Since when did you become so… serious, Sirius?” she said between giggles, clutching her stomach and laughing harder at her own joke. Sirius cracked a grin, smiling down at her.

“You’re sloshed Adhara!” laughed Sirius, shaking his head at her. “On wine, no less. That’s just sad.”

“You’re serious Sirius,” she repeated, giggling once again.

And then it happened. She didn’t see it coming, she doubted very much if Sirius did. The laughter and alcohol had gone to her head, making her brain fuzzy. And what was happening didn’t seem to help that state of mind. She wasn’t feeling silly or sad or cynical. She wasn’t feeling anything, except her heart racing and Sirius’ lips on hers. Somewhere in the back of her mind, she was aware of the light pressure that was his hand on her arm. She brought her hand up to his cheek, just as he pulled away. Her fingertips lingered on his jaw as his grey eyes bore into hers. For the first time that evening she saw his eyes clearly. She didn’t think she had ever noticed them before in such detail; so grey, they were almost silver with the moonlight dancing off them, their depths instilling a heat in her that caused her neck and face to grow hot despite the chilliness of the air. She realized she had been holding her breath, and let it go heavily.

“Well,” he started hoarsely. “Er - that was a first,” he said carelessly, suddenly grinning down at her, the sudden change in his demeanor almost physically pulling them apart.

“Yeah…” she replied inadequately, wishing her heart would stop doing that.

Sirius pulled away and rolled over to sit up. “We should be going.”

And then, just like that, the heat was gone and the cold air had returned to numb her skin.



A/N:
The line 'what's in a name?' has been shamelessly lifted from Shakespeare, and 'We've all got light and dark....' has been taken from Adult!Sirius in HP & OotP movie (because I thought it would be poetic lik that, now I realize it maybe a little silly) 

 
This chapter is dedicated to sweetest Chiara (Felpata Lupin): my beta/betee, for being a wonderful beta and listening to my ramblings about this story
 
And Gina (Unwritten Curse) because she's the strongest person I know, and she's motivated me to write this chapter with the 2 week goal.
 
Of course, this means I'll be posting a new chapter every two weeks, so watch out for them :)  And leave a review while you're waiting :P


Chapter 16: 3rd Year - Unos Pro Omnibus
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Sirius glanced over to where Adhara was sitting with Meadowes. She was listening to Professor McGonagall intently. He looked down at his own quill which hung listlessly between his fingers.

“You should talk to her already!” James whispered from next to him, smirking.

“What are you talking about?” he asked, arranging his face to look unconcerned.

“Adhara. You clearly want to. You’ve been avoiding each other ever since we came back from the holidays,” replied James, corking an eyebrow.

“I don’t,” whispered back Sirius, grudgingly.

Trust James to be annoyingly observant when least required. He was partly right, though. They had been avoiding each other, but Sirius didn’t want to talk to her. He thought he saw a look in her eyes every time they glanced at him which suggested she wanted to talk about the kiss. And he didn’t see what was there to talk about.

“Then why do you keep looking at her?” replied James teasingly. The smirk on his face annoyed Sirius slightly.

“Do I, really?” Sirius redirected casually, raising his eyebrows and praying that James wouldn’t be able to sense the heat that crept up his neck uncomfortably.

“Yes,” affirmed James. “Do you fancy her?” he asked abruptly, lowering his voice as McGonagall’s sharp eyes lingered on their corner of the classroom.

Sirius waited till she looked away to reply.

“No.” A pause. “But we snogged,” he said curtly. James stared at him for a moment and then his shoulders started shaking in silent laughter. Sirius turned to look at him and a reluctant grin spread across his lips watching James’ face turn redder with the effort to laugh soundlessly. He tried to mask his discomfort by pretending to kick James under the table, a movement that caused the seat in front of him to shake. Peter turned around looking startled.

“Potter!” McGonagall’s voice rapped across the class. Sirius grinned wider, knowing James was inevitably in trouble. “Sit up straight,” she admonished, and much to Sirius’ surprise and disappointment, turned to the class without another comment. “The class is dismissed. I would like the Gryffindor students to stay back a few moments please.”

There was a general hustle as the students gathered their belongings and moved out of the classroom. The Gryffindors looked at each other bewildered, wondering if they were all in trouble together. McGonagall’s impassive expression didn’t betray any hint.

“Would you all please gather to the front.”

Professor McGonagall’s voice sounded softer, lacking her usual sternness. Sirius walked up with James, Remus and Peter to join the girls who were already at the front of the class. Up close, he noticed something strained in McGonagall’s face. Her fingers were shaking slightly as she steadied her glasses on her nose.

“There is something you all need to know,” she started. Her voice sounded worried, and slightly scared. A sense of foreboding passed through Sirius. The Gryffindor head of the house never lost composure. “If you would all please accompany me to Professor Dumbledore’s office,” she said, gathering her wand and moving towards the door.

Still perplexed, the nine of them fell two paces behind McGonagall as they followed her down the corridor. Whispered supposing ensued among the girls, while James lost no time in telling Remus and Peter about Sirius’ confession. Peter oogled in amazement at Sirius while Remus just grinned.

“You fancy Adhara?” Remus asked, his eyes round and eyebrows raised.

“Course not!” he snorted, glancing furtively at the girls. Remus snorted disbelievingly while Peter and James started snickering again. Before Sirius could retort, they were standing in front of the familiar twin gargoyles that he had come face to face only once before.

Sweet Tooth,” McGonagall’s clear voice floated back to them. The gargoyles jumped apart and the spiral staircase was revealed. As they made their way up, even James was beginning to look a little serious. They gathered inside Dumbledore’s office. James nudged him and pointed to the phoenix, preening it’s magnificent gold feathers and perched on a high stand. Lily and Marlene seemed to be mesmerized by it, and even Adhara (Sirius noticed) couldn’t take her eyes off it.

“His name, is Fawkes.”

All nine heads turned to see Professor Dumbledore emerge from his inner chambers. Sirius noticed that the portraits, who had been pointing at them and whispering until then, fell silent and looked at Dumbledore expectantly. The portrait of Phineas Nigellus gave him a cold nod of recognition. Clearly, his great-great-grandfather had picked up on the talks circling the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black, supposed Sirius. The thought of his disapproval was oddly satisfying, and Sirius returned his nod with a cocky grin that seemed to affront him much to Sirius’ gratification. He chuckled inwardly as Phineas Nigellus glared at him.

“Take a seat,” Dumbledore said, in his stately voice. He waved his wand and conjured extra chairs. McGonagall, however remained standing. Sirius noticed that her hands were clasped tightly in front of her.

“You must all be wondering why you are here,” Dumbledore started, walking around to behind his desk and facing them. He formed a steeple with his fingers as his electric blue eyes gazed down at each one of them. “I will save you further speculation and get to the point right away.” He inclined his head lightly. Professor McGonagall gripped the back of the chair nearest to her. “I know this will come as quite a shock, and I urge you to brace yourselves.”

Sirius was startled at the seriousness in his voice, and the momentary pause hung heavily over them.

“I regret to inform you that your classmate, Ms. Regina Flume, has been found murdered, along with her family.”
Adhara, Lily and Marlene gasped. Dorcas’ eyes widened. Sirius was quite taken aback himself. He saw James’ face grow serious and Remus’ grow white. Peter looked fearful. Mary’s hand flew to her mouth, and she started sobbing. McGonagall conjured a tissue and handed it to her, patting her head consolingly.

“I’m sorry for your loss,” Dumbledore said, sounding it.

“B-but why?” Marlene whispered, verbalizing the one thought on everybody’s mind.

Dumbledore turned his eyes on her. He seemed to be considering something. “Well-” He paused to deliberate, “I am firmly convinced it is the work of Lord Voldemort.” Professor McGonagall shuddered.

“Why did they kill her? She’s just a child. Our age,” Lily’s voice cracked.

“That doesn’t seem to matter to them,” McGonagall spoke up unexpectedly, her voice thick and weary.

“There must have been a reason,” Dorcas insisted quietly, looking at Dumbledore intently. Dumbledore’s eyes regarded her fleetingly and a cursory knowing smile crossed his lips.

“I could be wrong,” he bowed his head humbly. “But I believe that they refused services to Voldemort.”

“What services?” James asked, curiously. Sirius was intrigued as well.

“Your guess is as good as mine.”

“And yours would be?” James persisted. Dumbledore turned to face James. He seemed to apprise him before replying.

“I’m not entirely convinced, but from what I have deduced by talking to their neighbors and friends, I believe Feodor was under the Imperius Curse. When he started fighting it, he took off with his family.”

“The controlling curse?” asked Adhara, her eyes wide. Dumbledore affirmed with a nod.

Sirius raised his eyebrows while James and Dorcas looked disgusted. Remus was shaking his head in horror and Peter’s eyes were wide. The Imperius curse was a big deal, even he knew that.

“What could they want from the Flumes?” asked Sirius frowning.

“Again, your guess is as good as mine,” Dumbledore reiterated.

“Then take one, won’t you?” James demanded once again. McGonagall looked at him sharply, almost objecting to his insolence. But Dumbledore’s gaze seemed nearly approving when he turned to answer this time.

“Feodor has powerful relatives in the Russian Ministry of Magic. They might have wanted his allegiance.”

Sirius wanted to push his luck a little and wondered if Dumbledore would indulge a group of thirteen year olds. But if there ever was a good time for luck-pushing, it was now.

“Who wants to recruit the Russians? Voldemort?” asked Sirius, sharply.

“He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named,” cried McGonagall, almost angrily, her face white.

“Now, now Minerva,” chided Dumbledore softly, “I have told you many times not to subscribe to that pseudonym.”

“And I have told you many times I will do just that,” McGonagall snapped, much to everyone’s amazement. She looked quite upset and Dumbledore didn’t press further.

“Why Russians?” demanded Sirius once again, determined not to go off track. None of this seemed to be making any sense.

“Support. Power,” replied McGonagall distastefully.
Dumbledore nodded. “Russians have the largest and most ruthless giant population. I believe that Vol-” Dumbledore glanced at McGonagall. “- the Death Eaters are looking to expand their resources.”

“Why can’t the ministry do something?” Adhara spoke up furiously. Her eyes were blazing, and Sirius noticed her fist clenched on her lap.

“The ministry isn’t in control.” It was James who replied this time. “The Death Eaters are rumored to have infiltrated the Ministry.” He looked at Dumbledore for validation.

“Your premise isn’t entirely baseless. But I wouldn’t dismiss them so easily, Mr. Potter. They’re doing the best they can in these extremely difficult circumstances,” Dumbledore replied cautiously.

“But… if the ministry is corrupt, then… who is going to stop these people?” Lily asked, her cheeks glistening with tears. Dumbledore remained silent.

For a second it looked like he was going to say something when McGonagall interjected. “The best you can do right now is to study hard, and learn to defend yourselves as much as possible.”

A look passed between McGonagall and Dumbledore. Dumbledore inclined his head in assent and replied, “I understand this news must be hard, especially for those of you who have interacted closely with Ms. Flume. My deepest condolences, it is indeed a terrible loss. I urge you all to remain strong, and focus on your education as Minerva said. That is your biggest strength at this point in time.”

Dumbledore rose from his seat, an indication that the conversation was done, and the others were to rise as well. The group that exited his office was decidedly more subdued than the one that entered.



A blanket of gloom had descended upon the Gryffindor common room. It was more the fact that this felt much closer to home than any of the other killings and disappearances in the Daily Prophet. There were speculating whispers, shocked expressions and an overall air of fear.

“Blows about the Flumes, doesn’t it?”

James turned to Owen Weasley and the Prewett twins who were sitting a little away from them.

“She was your classmate, yeah? Must be really hard for you lot,” Fabian Prewett spoke up.

James let his shoulders raise in a half shrug, with a nonchalant tilt of his head.

“What’s really hard is that it could have just as easily been any one of us,” Remus spoke up quietly.

“Don’t kid yourself, Moony,” replied Sirius, “you’re not that important.” Remus attempted a feeble smile. His face was pale (maybe because it was full moon tomorrow?).

“Don’t dismiss Lupin so easily.” Frank Longbottom had joined them, with Alice Rivers by his side. “Who knew the Flumes were important? All they did was make the best pastries in town!”

“I would hardly picture that Voldemort bloke getting offended by a rotten pastry,” replied James.

“Everything is more than what meets the eye,” Alice Rivers replied in her quiet voice. “You know, Amelia Bones told me that he tried recruiting her parents, and killed them when they refused.”

A thought suddenly struck James and he felt as if a heavy ball dropped to his stomach. It could have just as easily been his parents. Pureblood and a champion duelist, his father could have been approached just as much as the Bones. The faces of his parents floated in front of his eyes, and for a moment, James shuddered at the thought of being in Amelia and Edgar Bones’ shoes.

“... the Ministry claims they’re taking action,” Remus was saying.

“No,” James scoffed harshly. His tone of voice made everyone turn to him. “The Ministry is incompetent. They’re spending more time covering up their inadequacies and squabbling for personal glory.” He realized he sounded just like his father. The strength of his emotions had propelled him to his feet, and half the common room was looking at him.

“It’s true isn’t it?” He demanded, looking at the Prewett twins. He knew that that both their parents worked at the Ministry. They gave him identical nods.

“It’s become each man for himself,” said Gideon, shaking his head sadly.

“That’s just playing right into their hands,” argued James furiously.

“Potter’s right,” said Frank Longbottom, getting to his feet as well. “They could very easily capitalize on our selfish motives. Cause more rifts among us. Divide, and rule.”

“But what else can we do? We can’t trust the Ministry, we can’t trust anyone new,” said Marlene in a distressed voice.

“We can trust each other,” replied James, firmly. “Why do we have to depend on the Ministry to do something we can easily do?”

“Are you suggesting we take on this Voldy-person?” Sirius asked, his voice lined with derision.

“I’m suggesting we stop waiting around for someone else to protect us,” James said impatiently. “I’m suggesting, whatever happens, we stick together.” Silence followed his words, and James realized he was breathing a little hard.

Unos pro omnibus, omnes pro uno,” quoted Lily lightly, breaking the silence.

His fervent hazel eyes met her vibrant green ones and in that split second James knew that she alone had grasped the absolute essence of his words.

“Precisely. One for all, and all for one,” James translated with a small smile, without breaking her gaze. As she returned his smile with a twinkle of her eyes, he felt his stomach twist uncomfortably.



The air was wrought and heavy, as the girls silently went to bed one by one. Adhara lay on her side, staring at Regina’s unoccupied bed next to hers. Something heavy seemed to weigh her chest down, and she suddenly felt the need to get out of there.
The common room was empty save for a black haired boy, sitting on the rug and staring into the depths of the fireplace, the back of whose head was only all too familiar. For a moment she considered retracing her steps back to the dorm, but he had heard her footsteps and turned around. Their eyes met, maybe for the fiftieth time since the kiss-that-shall-not-be-spoken-of. For a second she looked at him unsurely, but he jerked his head, as if beckoning her toward him.

“What are you doing up so late?” she asked, sitting cross legged next to him in front of the fireplace, and leaning against the the couch behind her.

“Couldn’t sleep.” He was back to staring at the fireplace.

“Me either,” she replied.

The next few moments passed in silence, where only the crackling of the fire could be heard.

“Regina used to sleep in the bed next to mine,” she said softly, staring into the fireplace.

Sirius turned his head sideways to look at her.

“I didn’t know you were close.”

“We weren’t,” she affirmed.

Sirius resumed staring at the fireplace. “Then what’s gotten you so upset?” he asked after a pause.

“She’s dead, Sirius,” she replied, her eyes widening incredulously. “She’s our age. Shared our common room. Slept in our dorms. And now, she’s just… dead.”

Adhara felt an unpleasant tightening in her stomach. There was a thought she was holding back on, but saying it would make it all too real. To make things worse, Sirius laughed. Not a merry laughter, but more a bark-like scoff.

“What?” she demanded irately.

“It’s funny how grossly dissimilar my two worlds are.” She looked at him quizzically. “Here, the news of death is accompanied by shock and gloom. Back at home, it’s merely a dinner table conversation.”

“So, how do you feel? Shocked, or unconcerned?” she asked curiously.

He considered it for a moment. “Numb,” he replied finally. “You should have heard James up in the boys dorm, talking with Remus, Peter, Cresswell, Shacklebolt, Longbottom, the Prewett twins… Death is huge, death is a loss. I never saw it that way.”

Sirius’ bitter voice sounded slightly strained. She glanced at him sideways and saw him swallow.

“That’s why Hogwarts is so wonderful,” replied Adhara quietly, placing her palm over his arm. “Takes you away from your family, gives you a chance to see things for yourself, make your own opinions, take your own stand.”

“I didn’t know such a philosopher was hidden inside you, Selwyn,” said Sirius mockingly.

“The things you don’t know about me could fill a book, Black,” she replied, her eyes twinkling.

He raised his eyebrows at her and she raised her chin challengingly. He laughed again, the same hoarse laugh she had heard just before he had kissed her. Something must have showed in her expression, because the smile seemed to freeze on Sirius’ face as he looked searchingly into her eyes.

“So,” he paused. “We kissed.”

There it was.

Adhara felt a small flutter in her stomach.

“We kissed,” she repeated, raising her shoulders in half shrug.

“Er - So…”

“We don’t have to talk about it,” Adhara interjected, almost flippantly. She didn’t want it to matter, she didn’t want to care.

Sirius’ face broke into a wide grin. “Sounds good to me!” he said. He blinked, and the next moment, she was being kissed by him. Being sober this time, her senses were heightened and she could feel every delicious move, every gentle pressure of his lips on hers. She pulled back and raised her eyebrows.

“What?” he asked nonchalantly, “I didn’t say I wouldn’t do it again,” he said cockily, but pulled away slightly. She was almost sorry to see him detach, but he circled his arm around her shoulder and pulled her closer. They sat there, staring into the depths of the almost dying fire once again.

“Regina is dead, Sirius,” she said softly.

“I still don’t feel anything,” he muttered after a pause.

“I was mean to her in first year.”

“You were mean to everyone in first year.”

She turned to glare at him. “Thanks,” she said sarcastically.

“You’re welcome,” he replied cheekily.

She continued to glare as she turned away.

“You’re not a bad person, Adhara,” he said in a reassuring voice.
Adhara couldn’t help but smile.

“You’re not dead inside, Sirius,” she replied, dropping her head to his shoulder.

“You’re a good snog, Selwyn,” he said. She could hear the grin in his voice.

“I thought we weren’t talking about it.”

“We aren’t,” he replied lightly.

“Good.”



Lily saw the dark images of Sirius and Adhara, huddled in front of the dimming fireplace. She was surprised to see how cosy they looked, and felt slightly uncomfortable. Not wanting to intrude, she tiptoed her way across the common room, and gently pushed open the portrait. She glanced back and was relieved to see they hadn’t noticed. It looked like they were kissing. Her eyes widened for a moment but she took advantage of their distraction to close the portrait hole and hurry away. She saw Severus waiting for her at her destination, just as she had requested him to.

“What happ-”

Severus was cut short as Lily had thrown her arms around him, and started sobbing into his shoulders. She could feel him patting her shoulder awkwardly.

“There, there,” he muttered in her ear. She pulled back, sniffing, wiping her cheeks. Severus conjured a white handkerchief out of thin air and handed it to her. His cheeks looked unnaturally flushed.

“Regina Flume is dead,” she sniffled, dabbing her eyes and cheeks.

“I heard,” he replied in a low voice.

“Dumbledore says she was murdered by You-Know-Who’s followers.”
Severus remained silent. She guessed he didn’t know what to say. He hadn’t known Flume after all.

“It could have been any one of us,” she said fearfully, as Remus’ words from earlier suddenly came to her. “Why, maybe it’ll be me next. They hate muggleborns, don’t they?” she said wryly.

“No,” Severus said roughly. “It won’t be you.”

She gave a watery scoff. “How do you know, Sev?”

“I know,” he replied firmly. “They won’t come after you. They must have had a very good reason for killing the Flumes.”

Good reason?” She was horrified. “How could you say that?” Fresh tears flowed down her cheeks. “There’s no good reason for murder, Sev. Murder!”

Severus shuffled his feet uncomfortably as she continued to look at him with repulsion.

“N-no,” he muttered. “I didn’t mean it like that…”

“How could…” She found she was unable to continue. The rush of emotions were too much for her to handle, and she buried her face in her hands.

“I didn’t… it’s not like that Lily… Please don’t cry…” Severus implored, coming closer to pat her shaking shoulders hesitantly. Severus always had a knack of saying things the wrong way or at the wrong time.

“You should really watch what you say,” she said finally, frowning up at him. He nodded earnestly, looking ashamed of himself.

She sighed. There were other things bothering her. “Dorcas says this isn’t going to stop. That these people aren’t going to give up,” she said, searching his face for answers. She badly wanted him to tell her Dorcas was wrong, that they weren’t as dangerous as the Prophet and everyone made them out to be. She wanted him to reassure her that magic would solve everything, like he had when she was nine.

His black eyes looked almost sad as they lifted up to meet hers. “They aren’t going to stop, Lily,” he said hesitatingly. He looked thoroughly miserable as he said it. “But… you don’t know how far the boundaries of magic can be pushed,” he continued eagerly. “With You-Know-Who in charge, there will be no laws, no restrictions on the magic we perform.”

“Sev, they’re killing people!” she stamped her feet impatiently.

“No, Lily,” he argued hurriedly. “Remember how you told me all that you wanted to do with magic? How you insisted that we use our gift to help people? You can do all that without worrying about the Statute of Secrecy, if they’re in power,” he reasoned.

“All these… Er - incidents… they’re - Er - unfortunate.” He faltered towards the end. Lily looked intently at him, not knowing what to make out of his words.

“But, Sev,” she started quietly, a thought striking her suddenly.

“What use is all that if I’m dead?”

“Don’t say that!” he replied angrily. “You won’t… I won’t…” He spluttered, his face flushing.

“I’m scared, Sev,” she whispered. An odd look crossed his eyes as he reached out and clasped her hands that were twisting the handkerchief. She hadn’t realized they had been trembling until his thin, long fingers steadied them.

“You don’t have to be,” he replied earnestly.

She looked up into his thin, sallow face. “What if… what if it’s me next, or worse Tuney, or mum and dad…?”

“You worry too much,” he cut into her anxious tirade, gently. She wondered how someone could be so inconsiderate one moment and so sensitive the next. Severus wasn’t insensitive, she reasoned, he was just tactless.

“Dumbledore said that the best we can do now is learn to defend ourselves,” she said. Severus had withdrawn his hand and stuffed them in his pockets. “And Potter says we should all rally together, that we shouldn’t give up.”

A flicker of annoyance crossed Severus’ eyes at the mention of Potter’s name. She wished she hadn’t brought it up. Who was being tactless now?

“We won’t give up, will we, Sev?” she hurried to divert his attention away from her mention of Potter.

“No,” his voice sounded flat. Almost as if he was telling her what she wanted to hear. She looked at him anxiously, unable to read his expression.

“You’ll be on my side, won’t you?” she continued antsily.

“Of course,” he replied firmly, his tone kinder but continued to wear that unreadable expression.

“Always?” she insisted.

He raised his beady eyes to look at her face, and a muscle in his jaw twitched. “Always.”



A/N:

Hello again. I know I should have updated sooner but RL got a little bit out of hand, and I wanted to edit a bit before posting. The next updates will be coming in shorter intervals, I promise.

This chapter is a little grave, but I do want to show how the war outside could affect the children within as well. What do you all think of this? Is the 'Always' a bit too much? Would you have liked to see any other character's reaction/Pov? Did any of you notice the little Lily/James moment?

This chapter is dedicated to my dearest beta Chiara (Felpata Lupin) and a very lovely person who has come on board to be my second beta - Bianca (victoria_anne)

Reviews are love, my dear readers.


Chapter 17: Year 3 - Boggarts
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Dorcas looked out of the window next to her seat. The conversations around her started to fade and slowly blended to incomprehension. She hardly even felt when cold water droplets, condensed outside the glass of her drink, dripped onto her fingers. Her glasses reflected the image of a muddy road leading down the side of The Three Broomsticks. She would rather be tracing her footsteps down that path, a destination in mind, than being part of the mindless chatter around her.

“... right, Dor? Dorcas?”

She tore her eyes from the window and looked into the mildly concerned ones of Lily.

“Are you alright?”

She rearranged her face into a smile and assured Leroy Sinclair she was fine. It had been over ten days since they had come to know about Regina. Shock soon melted into a respectful display of lowered voices and gloomy overtones for a decent time frame, after which the Gryffindors had continued about their work as usual. She wasn’t aware what the proper time for grieving was. She had never grieved, not even when her father had died; she was too busy taking care of her mother. But her friends had felt this Hogsmeade visit was ideal for them to meet her brother, so it probably meant grieving time was over.

Initial reluctance gave way to enthusiasm when she realized this could provide her with the perfect cover for her plans. So far, all that had happened was Marlene flashing her dimples and making eyes at her half-brother. Dorcas had earned a glare from Lily for snorting very obviously when Marlene commended Leroy’s game. She had nothing against her friend being nice to her brother (well, half-brother) but she didn’t think she needed to see a blatant display of Marlene’s constant need for male attention.

Predictably enough, she had dragged Leroy’s attention back to herself once they had established Dorcas was alright. A couple of minutes into the resumed conversation, Dorcas put her plan into action.

“Excuse me,” she said, getting up from her seat, “I’ll be right back.”

She walked to the back, toward the toilets. Glancing back at the group to ensure they were still engrossed in their conversation, she slipped out through the rear end of the pub, falling into step with the same muddy road she had been eyeing from inside. She probably had ten minutes before someone came looking for her; she had to hurry. It wasn’t that far along, and soon she found herself facing a dusty stone carving that read ‘Feodor & Estelle Flume’.

“This is where you wanted to come?”

Dorcas jumped at the sound of Adhara’s voice. She turned guiltily. “I just…” she stammered, steading the glasses on her nose.

“Wanted to come alone?” finished Adhara, frowning skeptically.

Dorcas nodded. Adhara held her expression for a moment, then sighed. “Do you miss her?”

Dorcas debated for a minute whether to go with the truth or pretend she had come there for some sentimental reason. She looked into the open, honest face in front of her.

“I do, of course. But I still want to know the whole story.”
Adhara raised her eyebrows but shrugged. “Let’s be quick,” she replied. Dorcas flashed her a grateful smile. The gate opened with a rusty creak, that resonated unnaturally through the deserted porch that lay in front of them. Dorcas strode down the path that was almost obscured with overgrown weeds.

“Er - what did you expect to find?” Adhara asked, as they both stood at the door, looking at the living room. It looked like the Flumes had vacated in a hurry.

“I don’t know. Anything that explains what happened,” said Dorcas, walking inside. She swiped her finger absently on the glass mantelpiece. The thick film of dust indicated the amount of time that had passed. Her sharp eyes scanned the rest of the room, and she noticed that not all the surfaces were evenly covered with the dust. Some were old, some almost new, some had hand and foot imprints marring their continuity.

“Others have been here before us,” she observed out loud.

“And recently too,” Adhara replied, pointing to a chair that looked like someone had freshly gripped it’s dusty wooden arm.

“Ministry workers?”

“Maybe.” Dorcas wasn’t quite sure and pulled out her wand. The place gave off a sense of eeriness she couldn't bring herself to explain.

It became clear after a few minutes that there was nothing of value there, and to be honest Dorcas didn’t know what exactly she had come looking for. All she knew was that there was something compelling about unanswered questions.

“If there was something, there’s a good chance it’s already been found,” said Adhara, voicing Dorcas’ thoughts.

Disappointed, Dorcas agreed and suggested they head out soon. Adhara opened the door and walked out. Dorcas paused for a second. Adhara’s actions had caused a sudden gust of wind to create a movement at the old fireplace, and something much bigger than specks of ash fell to the carpet. Dorcas picked it up. A piece of yellowing parchment, burnt at the edges and clearly part of a much bigger collection. She shoved it in her pocket without a closer look and turned to inspect the fireplace for any others that might have escaped the assault of flames.

“Dorcas?”

Adhara had reappeared just as she was feeling around the corners and she almost cut her finger on something sharp.

“Ouch!” she exclaimed, drawing out a jagged piece of metal.

“Coming,” she called out, absently dropping it in her pocket along with the parchment and joining Adhara on their walk back.


“Bye!”

Marlene waved to Lily who was heading out of the pub as well. Leroy left soon after Adhara and Dorcas disappeared (where had they gone?) and Lily had stayed with her until now, but she had to leave to meet Snape. She hated sitting by herself, and hoped to Godric that Owen would be on time. She noticed James and Sirius who had stopped to chat with Jake and Clarence, her eyes lingering a little longer on James before glancing around, extremely conscious of the eyes of various boys on her. She felt a warmth pass through her as her hand automatically went up to fluff her hair. It was always nice to be noticed. She flashed a dimpled smile, to a fourth year, who turned red and spilled his drink all over himself in surprise.

“Poor bloke!”

Owen Weasley pulled up a chair opposite her, watching sympathetically as the fourth year’s friends teased him. She smiled - a honest, relieved smile - quite unlike the flirtatious one she had just employed.

“And they say older guys are supposed to be mature,” she replied grinning.

“A bird like you could make a bloke forget his name if you wanted to!”

“How come you’re still sane?” she asked, laughing.

“Who says I am? I’m here with you, aren’t I?” he grinned mischievously. She pulled a face which made him laugh lightly.
“Been flirting with anyone else?” He raised his eyebrows.

“Why, Weasley? Jealous?” she asked playfully, but looking at him closely.

“With good reason.” The hint of jest was gone from his voice, though he kept his tone light. “I heard fifth year blokes talking about you!” She glowed inwardly at the praise. It must have showed in her face because he said gravely, “I’m sure you must love the attention Marls, but be careful.”

She laughed it off lightly, but he continued to look at her seriously. She distracted him by commenting lightly on the brightly colored drinks in the next table, and as she had intended, he offered to get them something to drink and walked up to the counter.

Her eyes followed the back of his ginger head. She didn’t know what they were. Sure, they flirted during practise, and they had been on two dates, they had kissed twice, but he hadn’t called her his girlfriend yet. And there had been that one time Alice Rivers had seen him with Laila Edgecombe, the Charms Club secretary. Word around was that they had looked pretty cosy. She had wanted to confront him after practise, but right then she overheard James teasing him, and he hadn’t denied it. So they went back to their weird status quo, and it still remained that she didn’t know what exactly they were. Lily suggested she have ‘the talk’, but Dorcas said it would make her desperate.

Besides, there was no way Owen wouldn’t find her attractive, was there? Quite a lot of blokes seemed to… As much as Marlene hated Dorcas’ contemptuous tone, she grudgingly agreed with her. It was exactly for that reason Marlene put a convincing smile on her face when Owen returned.

“What are you so serious about?”

Apparently not convincing enough.

“Nothing,” she lied. “Do you think Madam Rosmerta looks good?”

“You're diverting.”

“So are you!”

He laughed. “Yes, she looks good. Now your turn?”

“She's okay. A bit fat below the waist in my opin-”

“Not that,” he cut in, looking at her meaningfully, with his deliciously warm brown eyes.

In that split second she decided to go for the truth. “I was wondering-”

Sirius Black chose that exact moment to shove James Potter, who stumbled against their table, cutting her mid sentence and upsetting their drinks.

“Oh, sorry Weasley, Marlene,” said James steadying himself and grinning at her while Sirius sniggered. Owen exchanged a few words with them, and the duo left hurriedly. When Owen finally turned his attention back to her, she was no longer inclined to open up to him. James Potter’s impish grin lingered on her mind, and Owen Weasley’s sincere smile waned in comparison.


Lily raised her hand in a departing wave to Marlene, and walked away from the Hogwarts crowd, down the road to meet Severus. She spotted the Shrieking Shack at a distance. Was it true, the whispers doing the rounds in the village? Was it really haunted?

She gazed at the Shrieking Shack, immersed in her own thoughts when a hand grabbed her roughly from behind. She shrieked.

“Shhh! Don’t shout!”

She blinked twice, and Sirius Black’s face came into focus. He was looking beyond her fervently while guiding her by her arm to the side of the road.

“What was that all about?” she demanded angrily. He shushed her furiously, pulling her behind a tree.

“Why is she here?”

The unmistakable annoyance in James Potter’s tone irked her. She opened her mouth to retort but Sirius cut in -

“She was about to walk right into it!”

“Walk into what?” She looked suspiciously between James and Sirius who hadn’t even heard her and were intently discussing in hushed tones. “Well, I’ll be off then,” she said indignantly, making to turn away when another hand stopped her, far more gentle than Sirius’ had been.

“Stop, Lily!”

“Remus?”

She hadn’t noticed him standing behind the two of them.

“Just give us five minutes!” he beseeched, imitating Sirius Black’s fervent glances.

“Et tu?” She grinned to herself when she saw the confusion on his face. Of course, he wouldn’t know a Shakespeare reference! “Fine, but you’re telling me what’s going on,” she resigned, folding her hands defiantly. She couldn't bear not knowing what they were up to. Sirius and Remus exchanged a look and then turned to James who shrugged, looking disgruntled.

“It’s time, move over!” James cut in as Remus opened his mouth to speak. For the third time that day, a marauder caught her arm and pulled her aside. It was James this time. She tried to shrug his hand away but he didn’t relent. She was mildly irked that he didn’t trust her to stay put.

“I guess you’ll see for yourself,” whispered Sirius, grinning. Her irritation gave way to curiosity as she looked in the same direction the others were.

Peter Pettigrew was standing outside a bakery, farther away from them, at a position where they could see him but not vice versa. He was fidgeting on the spot, pacing tiny steps in small circles. He seemed to be looking down the street expectantly.

“What is he-?” Lily started.

“Peter’s got a secret admirer,” supplied Sirius, smirking. “We sent him an anonymous note saying the bird wanted to meet him here today.”

She thought it was a little cruel, especially seeing the hopeful look on his pudgy little face. “But then, why can’t I go out there?” she asked, confused.

“Because she is a secret,” explained Sirius, shaking his head at her like she was a particularly difficult three year old. She rolled her eyes pointedly. “If you walk out there, he’s going to think it’s you.”

“So who is this mysterious fake-admirer?”

“Olivia Greene,” chuckled James.

“But she’s no admirer,” supplied Sirius. “You see, we - Er - kind of, uhm, dyed her hair green,”

“Accidentally, of course,” put in James, glancing at Remus.

“Of course,” she said, her tone matching the look of disbelief on Remus’ face.

“And we - Er - sort of let slip - that it might have been the work of our little friend.”

Comprehension dawned and Lily smiled in spite of herself and watched Peter rub his palms together nervously. Then she saw, at a distance, a small figure walking in their direction. As the figure grew closer, James let out a groan.

“Sirius, git! I thought we had decided on Olivia Greene,”

“We had.” Sirius looked confused.

“Then why is Natasha Fairleigh walking our way?”

“She looks ma-ad!” pointed out Remus, drawing out the last word looking accusingly at the other two.

Sure enough Natasha Fairleigh was striding down the road purposefully towards Pettigrew. Sirius groaned.

“I - Er- might have told Fairleigh, before the - er - change of plans,” he confessed sheepishly.

“Now that singing card won’t make any sense!” cried James, furious and annoyed.

“There’s a singing card?” Lily was thoroughly amused. The boys were, however, arguing. An idea struck her and she shot out of their hiding place. She heard Remus call out to her in a loud whisper, and James exhale angrily.

Natasha Fairleigh was only a few paces from Peter Pettigrew, when Lily stepped across her path.

“Hey, Tasha! Funny seeing you here.”

“Lily!” She blinked. “Hey,” she said unsurely.

“Where are you headed,” she asked conversationally.

“Well, umm…” She touched her hair fleetingly (Lily had to suppress a smile) and glanced past Lily. “I - er - fancied a walk.”

“You know, you shouldn’t be out here,” Lily continued in her best concerned voice, “They say the Shrieking Shack is haunted.”

“The what?” Natasha looked interested now.

“Yes, the Shrieking Shack. Haven’t you heard about it?” She made her eyes wide and lowered her voice dramatically.

“No!” Natasha’s wide-eyed reaction satisfied Lily. Now for the trump card.

“You know, I heard it myself from Amos Diggory just now, in The Three Broomsticks.”

“Amos Diggory?” Natasha’s cheeks grew pink. She had struck the right chord. Every girl had a thing for both the headboy Philip Diggory and his handsome younger brother.

“Oh yes! He had an interesting and - er - chilling experience himself,” Lily nodded vigorously. “Bet he’d tell you all about it if you asked.”

“Three Broomsticks, did you say?” she asked, abandoning all interest in Peter.

“Yes. Oh, and I’d hurry if I were you!” she called out as Natasha thanked her and turned around, walking quickly.

Lily returned to where the boys were standing, open mouthed and relieved. James seemed to be looking at her appreciatively.

“You’re all welcome,” she said with a mischievous grin.

“Did Diggory really have a chilling experience with the Shrieking Shack?” Remus asked her, with equal interest and skepticism.

“Oh, he did!” It was James who replied. “I can personally vouch for that!” He and Sirius exchanged looks and started snickering.
Remus grinned reluctantly.

“You dyed Natasha’s hair green too?” Lily asked Remus.

“Er - not exactly,” he started hesitatingly.

“There wasn’t anything to work with, if you get my drift,” chuckled Sirius.

“You vanished her hair?” Lily shrieked with laughter. Natasha Fairleigh and Olivia Greene were the two vainest girls at Hogwarts, and she was definitely not sorry to hear them being taken down a peg or two.

“To be fair, I vanished her hair,” said James, looking pleased.

“Sirius just stood there making comments about her - er - face.” Lily had a feeling ‘face’ wasn’t the word he had been about to use, but he was smiling warmly at her and she found herself not wanting that to stop, so refrained from saying anything. Lily returned his infectious crooked smile.

“Here she comes.”

Sirius’ announcement turned both their heads to the road in earnest. Olivia Greene strode gracefully along the line of small shops. Lily couldn’t help but admire her. Apparently, neither could Sirius Black.

“Salazar be damned! She’s so fit!”

James Potter muttered his agreement with a few choicy descriptives of his own.

“Watch your words,” Remus chided them, tilting his head pointedly towards Lily. They didn’t look least bit guilty as they chuckled, lowering their voices to continue. Well, she couldn’t blame them for momentarily forgetting her existence. They were looking at Olivia Greene, after all.

The scene in front of them unfolded like a silent movie. They were too far away to hear what was being said, but it wasn’t that hard to make out. Olivia Greene seemed to be yelling at Peter, whose trembling fingers dropped whatever he was clutching. The minute it hit the ground, a distant sound emanated from its direction. Lily suppressed a giggle, guessing it must have been the singing card. She couldn’t hear the lyrics, but gathered the general gist from Olivia’s increasingly incensing expression, and the sight of James and Sirius doubling up with laughter.

Olivia Greene retrieved the offending card, and the second she snapped it shut, a gloved hand flew out of it to punch her unsuspecting face. Peter’s look of horror was something she never forgot as long as she lived. It was something that, when recalled, always amused her, despite the gloomiest of situations. He cowered under Olivia Greene’s outstretched wand. Sparks seemed to flow out of her wand and face alike, as Peter flew through the air and landed a few paces behind, raking up a smoke of dust around him as he skid to a stop. Before the cloud of dust settled, Olivia Greene had disappeared in a huff.
The three marauders beside Lily were howling in laughter. Sirius was on the ground clutching his stomach, while James hurried towards Peter. He was hardly able to control his laughter along the way, and the sight of poor Peter lying on his back in the dust set him off again. Remus was helping a glaring Peter to his feet when she joined them.

“Scourgify,” she muttered, pointing to Peter's muddy robes.

“Very funny, you buggers,” he muttered, glaring mutinously at Sirius, who had gone into fresh peals. Remus was grinning. “Which one of you changed the card?” Peter demanded.

“That would be me,” said James, his voice hoarse from laughter.

“I suppose it was your idea,” he glared accusingly at a laughing Sirius who had sunk once again to the ground.

“That would be me,” grinned Remus.

“I should have known,” he mumbled sulkily. His eyes widened as he suddenly noticed her. “You saw that too?” he groaned. Lily laughed lightly.

“She even helped,” beamed James. She couldn’t help feeling slightly proud.

“Ooh Olivia... Your hair's so green, your nose so lean and your words so very mean…” Sirius sang out in his coarse, off-key voice. This set everyone off again, and even Pettigrew gave a grudging smile.

“Touch of brilliance, Moony!” said James as he slapped his hand against Remus’. Still laughing, he turned to her, “and quick thinking out there.” His hand remained raised in invitation. She beamed and hi-fived James, absently walking along with them towards the castle. The air was filled with their jokes and comments. The world seemed to look a lot brighter when James Potter and his friends were mates with her.


Snape’s insides grew hot as he watched Lily hi-five Potter. Here he was, waiting for her, when clearly she had other things she would rather be doing. Something clawed at his chest as she walked away with them. She had probably never intended to meet up with him. His fists balled as the memory of her laughing and walking away with them replayed in his mind.

“Sev! Sev!”

Lily was calling out to him shrilly. He continued to walk without pausing. He could hear her footsteps running closer, her voice panted his name once more, before catching up to him.

“Sev,” she repeated, halting him.

“What?” he replied stonily, not looking at her.

“I just... I was held up.”

“Clearly.”

“No really, it was-”

“Doesn't matter.”

She paused and he could feel her looking earnestly at him.

“I'm sorry.”

“Okay.”

“Are you mad?” Her voice sounded small and he couldn't help turning to look at her.

“Do you think I have reason to be?” he asked, looking at her intently.

“Well, I'm late… But really, Sev, I’m sorry! I was held up!”

“It's fine.”

“You okay?” she asked tentatively.

He just shrugged. She frowned at him for a moment and then fell into step with him. As they walked together up the castle, Lily kept up a chatter, occasionally trying to drag a response out of him. He wasn't in a responsive mood just then. He could see his monosyllabic, flat remarks were irking her. He knew her well enough to guess that she had no idea what bothered him so much. Despite her asking once again, he couldn't bring himself to spell it out. The mere memory blinded him with anger and jealousy.

“I’ll be off then.”

Lily's voice, as he expected, was cold. As he looked into her annoyed face, his anger faltered slightly and he half opened his mouth to reply kindly. She, however, turned on her heel and stormed away before he could make up his mind.


Adhara didn't know when snogging Sirius had become a regular thing. Stolen kisses in darkened corridors and secluded corners were becoming increasingly frequent. They never talked about it; neither with each other, nor with anyone else. She was recollecting a similar incident that happened last night after a Hogsmeade trip during breakfast that morning. Sirius walked in with James, and raised his chin in acknowledgement as their eyes met. There was an impish glint she returned in kind as he passed. Lily fidgeted distractingly beside her. Adhara saw her glance a few times towards the Slytherin table.

“Everything okay between you and Snape?” she asked, eyeing the greasy-haired Slytherin with distaste.

Lily nodded mutely, but attacked her toast viciously with her fork.

“My, my, Lily!” Adhara exclaimed dryly, “I’ve never seen anything make you this angry! Well, that’s not true. Potter was always an exception-”

Lily suddenly sat bolt upright, inadvertently knocking over Mary’s glass of juice. She muttered an apology, and abruptly walked out of the Great Hall.

“What happened?” Mary looked disgruntled as she waved her wand over the mess.

Adhara shrugged, feeling as nonplussed as Marlene and Mary looked. Dorcas, whose head had disappeared behind that morning’s Daily Prophet, was oblivious to what just happened. Marlene rolled her eyes.

“What’s up with the world outside, Dor?” asked Adhara.
“Mhm?” Dorcas folded up the newspaper and looked at them through her round glasses. “Arty’s Broomsticks has been abandoned and ransacked. A goblin family has been found dead in Nottingham. There’s this new bloke, Bartemius Crouch, who has joined the Death Eater hunt bandwagon,” she replied with the indifference of a news reporter.

A discussion ensued as the four of them walked to Defense Against the Dark Arts. By the time they reached the classroom, Marlene and Dorcas were heavily arguing about the Bill of Muggleborn Rights that was currently in dispute at the Wizengamot. Wizard politics were beyond her, and Adhara tuned out their bickering by turning her thoughts to Lily, who hadn’t been seen since her mysterious departure. It wasn’t like her to miss class, especially Defence.

“Could you both stop now?” suggested Mary wearily as they sat down. Marlene plonked her bag next to Adhara, her cheeks blotched red. Dorcas glared at the back of Marlene’s head as she and Mary took their seats behind them. Professor Tisiphone had already started roll call when Lily turned up. She slipped into the seat beside Adhara just as her name was called. She answered breathlessly, tucking a flaming red lock of hair behind her ear. Her cheeks were flushed, and beads of sweat glistened on her face and neck.

“Where were you?” whispered Adhara.

Lily mumbled something incoherent, looking straight ahead. Adhara saw Snape out of the corner of her eye, slipping into the class and throwing a nervous glance in their direction as he sat down.

“Has everyone finished your essay on Boggarts?” Tisiphone’s voice brought Adhara’s attention back to the class. Tisiphone waved her wand and all the scrolls of essays flew from the student’s desks and arranged themselves neatly on her table. “Good,” she beamed down at them, rubbing her palms together. “Now, I hope that you’ve all familiarized yourself with the theory, because today, it’s time for some practical.”

As she was talking, a trunk on her desk rattled loudly. A few students in the front row looked at it in alarm. Adhara grinned as the desks were cleared to make floor space for them to tackle the boggart. They couldn’t have asked for a more interesting lesson.

Tisiphone waved her wand once again and the lid of the trunk flew open. James was standing closest to it, and Tisiphone nodded at him to take the first turn.

A giant snake fell out of it and slithered towards him.

“Ridikkulus!” He waved his wand with flourish, and the snake was suddenly wearing dark glasses and sipping a drink serenely as if on a tropical island. A giggle ran through the class.
Crack. An angry cat mewled and hissed at Pettigrew.

“R-ridikkulus,” he squeaked, his wand trembling, and the cat’s paws were stuck in a ball of wool.

A couple of Slytherins were next, followed by Mary. A disembodied hand made its way towards her, before it got stuck in a glass jar. There was a little confusion about who would go next and before she was fully prepared, Adhara found herself standing in front of the boggart.

Crack. Rigel stood in front of her, taller and heftier than he really was. His face was twisted in an evil grimace. As she looked into his reddened eyes, she found herself becoming the scared little six year old again. It’s just a boggart, she reminded herself and raised her wand. Mirroring the hatred in his face, she screamed, “Ridikkulus!”

Rigel tripped and fell flat on his face, and Dorcas stepped up in front of her to face the boggart. Adhara could feel Sirius’ eyes on her, but didn’t want to look at him. She had frozen, even if it was for a second, she had frozen at the sight of her brother.

Crack! She hated herself for who she became in his presence - weak, pathetic and scared little baby. Crack! She hated him for making her feel that way. Crack! She hated the stupid boggart. Crack! She hated Tisiphone for setting them this exercise. She retreated to the back of the class, embarrassed, with loud cracks punctuating her thoughts.

A loud growl resounded, followed by high-pitched, girlish shrieks. Adhara looked up and saw a werewolf in the middle of the classroom, facing her classmates. Quite a few girls and some cowardly Slytherins backed into corners. Blood stained its teeth and was trickling down its chin. It prowled towards Lily, who was standing slightly in front of the others. The werewolf paused, and reared it’s head to let out a howl that made the hair stand on the back of her neck. Lily took a step back as the werewolf advanced menacingly. Lupin, Sirius, Dorcas and Marlene, who were close behind her followed suit. Sirius raised his wand, but Lily was quicker.

“Ridikkulus!” Her voice rang louder than the werewolf’s howl. Sparks flew from the tip of her wand and the werewolf paused and looked down at himself. Sitting across his hairy chest was a bright, pink bra. The werewolf looked confused for a second, and cowered under the scream of laughter that ensued, James and Sirius being the loudest.

Professor Tisiphone moved forward quickly, stepping in between the Gryffindor students and the werewolf. The werewolf disappeared and turned into a cockroach. She waved her wand and it disappeared with a poof of smoke. She looked a little shaken, and dismissed the class, uncharacteristically flustered. She seemed to be in a hurry to get them out of there. Adhara couldn’t blame her. The class, that had been so upbeat when the exercise had started, was now exhibiting an air of post-calamity. Only James and Sirius seemed thoroughly amused, and least affected.

“A werewolf? Lily, what were you thinking!” Marlene was scolding when Adhara joined them. Mary was shivering slightly.

“That was you?” asked Adhara astonished. “I thought it was Sirius’ idea of a joke!”

“It was Lily,” confirmed Dorcas.

“I…Uh...” Lily stuttered, looking apologetic. “I didn’t think…”

“That’s obvious!” snorted Mary.

“Wait, you’re a Muggleborn,” frowned Marlene. “When did you meet a werewolf?”

“Muggles know about werewolves too,” replied Lily indignantly. “I saw a movie with my sister once when I was nine. That werewolf terrified me.”

“Muggles trained a werewolf to act in a movie?” asked Marlene incredulously.

“Of course not!” replied Mary, rolling her eyes. “They must have used animation.”

Lily and Mary laughed lightly at the confused look on their faces.

“Still, bringing a werewolf to life in the classroom is mind numbingly stupid Lil,” said Marlene shaking her head.

“A Potter-and-Black-worthy phenomenon,” agreed Adhara, grinning.

“I didn’t realize it would be so lifelike!” defended Lily. “I mean, Marlene’s was hardly scary,” she reasoned.

“Marlene’s boggart was an ugly version of herself. It scared no one,” said Dorcas rolling her eyes. “And really?” she addressed Marlene disdainfully. “The thing you fear most is looking ugly?”

Bickering ensued between the two once again, and Adhara sighed, exchanging a frustrated look with Mary. This time, Mary didn’t even try to smooth things over. She instead chose to ignore them as Adhara had previously done. Lily walked along quietly, most probably feeling bad about scaring the entire class. Adhara remembered the bewildered expression on the werewolf’s face when it saw the pink bra, and grinned widely.


“... that dancing crab of Patil’s.” James, Sirius and Peter burst out laughing.

“Peter’s was the worst. Why would you be scared of a cat?” asked Sirius.

“I dunno,” mumbled Peter. “Cats never seemed to like me. When I went to my aunt’s house, their cat clawed at me so much, I had to be taken to St. Mungo’s.”

“Still, what a waste of a turn. Wish I had had a chance with the boggart,” remarked Sirius wistfully.

“What would you have brought in? A giant squid?” sniggered James.

“Nah, too tame! I was thinking of a dragon,” replied Sirius, grinning.

“You’re not scared of dragons,” pointed out Peter raising his eyebrows. “You just want a chance to see one up close. You and that Hagrid!” Peter rolled his eyes.

Sirius grinned carelessly. “Still, the whole lesson wasn’t a complete waste. Evans made it interesting towards the end!”

“Yeah,” agreed James. “Ever owned a pink bra, Moony?” The three of them started to laugh, turning to Remus.

Remus hadn’t spoken a word since the lesson had ended. He hadn’t even felt like smiling at the dirty jokes Sirius and James had come up with, even the one involving him, Celestina Warbeck and Salazar Slytherin entering a bar.

“Seriously, a werewolf in class…” Sirius shook his head in amazement.

“You think that’s exciting?” interjected Remus. The three of them stopped laughing at the tone of his voice.

“Well, it was bloody brilliant!” said Sirius heartily.

“Of course you think it’s brilliant!” said Remus, flaring up. “Bloody brilliant, watching your classmates shriek and cower from at a version of yourself.”

“Erm - Remus, mate. You didn’t expect people to come over and give the werewolf a hug, did you? In case you haven’t realized, it’s not exactly a fluffy teddy bear!” replied Sirius lightly.

Sirius’ callous tone irked him further, and something inside him snapped. Something that had been burning and eating through his insides ever since he had seen the werewolf in its full glory.

I haven’t realized?” Remus rounded on Sirius. “It’s not me who needs a reality check! It’s you lot who pretend it’s no big deal. It’s you lot who come up with crazy schemes to tame a werewolf. Who tames a werewolf? In case you haven’t realized, YOU CAN’T TAME A SODDING WEREWOLF!”

“Well, nobody has tried yet, have they?” pointed out James, looking unfazed by Remus’ outburst.

“Did you leave your brains behind when you entered the class?” shouted Remus, frustrated with their callous attitude. “That boggart showed you exactly what I am. A ruthless, vicious creature that everyone was disgusted with. And you know what the worst part is? The thing I’m most scared of, is myself! So no, Sirius, I don’t think it was bloody brilliant, because I didn’t face a boggart, I faced reality. I’m a monster!”

Remus realized he was breathing hard, and his hands were trembling with emotion. An uncomfortable silence followed his words.

“Monster might be stretching it. You make your bed every morning, for Earl’s sake!” James said dryly, breaking the silence.

“Look at yourself,” said Sirius pointing to the mirror that hung in their dorm. Ramus glanced at his pale, distressed face blinking back at him. “Meet Remus Lupin - Slightly overdramatic puny midget.”

Remus sighed irritatedly. “But-”

“But what?” demanded James. “You’re hardly scary, much less vicious. The werewolf thing is just a …”

“A minor inconvenience?” suggested Peter.

“Yeah. An irony, more so than anything!” remarked Sirius.

“It’s not a minor inconvenience!” protested Remus, exasperated. Why weren’t they getting it? “It’s a major lifestyle adjustment. Look-” he pulled his sleeves back furiously “- look at these scars!”

His three friends exchanged a look, their expressions a tad more serious.

“I don’t care,” spoke up James quietly. “Neither does Sirius, or Peter here.”

“Yeah! You’re our completely normal friend who has a little problem every month,” chimed in Peter.

“Didn’t you lot even feel slightly revolted when you looked at the werewolf today?” Remus asked anxiously. He himself had felt his insides twist unpleasantly.

“Of course not!” said Sirius. “If anything, I felt a bit proud.”

“Proud?”

“Yeah! We know a real werewolf. Heck, we sleep in the same dorm with him. We’re heroes!”

“The story just writes itself! I can just picture the number of birds flocking around me when I tell them chilling tales of what could have been,” grinned James.

Remus couldn’t help laughing despite everything he was feeling. “You’re going to use my condition to pick up girls?”

“Well, I don’t need the extra assistance,” replied Sirius haughtily, “but very useful for Peter here!”

“It’s true,” replied Peter, nodding solemnly. Remus looked between his three friends incredulously.

“Also, sorry to burst your bubble mate, but it wasn’t your boggart.”

“What?” Remus frowned at Sirius in confusion.

“It wasn’t your boggart.” repeated Sirius . “It was Lily’s.”

“She was only standing beside me,” argued Remus, shaking his head resolutely.

“She was standing in front of you. It was her boggart, not yours. So your epiphany is unfounded.”

“Although, I’d understand if you had issues with Evans after this,” added James. “I mean, she put you in a bra!”

“That was not me!” cried Remus glaring at James indignantly.

“That’s what we’ve been saying,” said Sirius in a bored voice.

“Still, she insulted your kind. A bra Moony, for Earl’s sake!” said James, chuckling.

Watching Sirius and James joke around about his ‘little problem’, the heaviness that had crept in when he was confronted with a lifesize version of himself slowly ebbed away. Remus grinned in spite of himself. But there was still a part of him that knew that their rationalizations wouldn’t hold up in the long run. Especially the parts of his skin where his self-inflicted scars tingled.



A/N:
Hello folks! Here’s another chapter, and we’re getting to see more of the gang here.

IMPORTANT NOTE: I have done some heavy editing, revamping to this project - mainly introducing new characters. While researching canon, I realized I needed a few more Gryffindors in their year. To those of you who have already read the previous chapters, nothing significant has changed except the addition of three characters and an extra dorm room.
Characters added: Louis Branstone (the studious know-it-all), Clarence Sloan, Jake Wyatt
Setting added: An extra dorm room added to the Boy’s wing to accommodate the said 3 boys since there were seven of them.

A million thanks to my two lovely betas without whom I wouldn’t be able to get any writing done - Chiara (Felpata Lupin) and Bianca (victoria_anne) who are the loveliest people I’ve been so lucky to meet.


Chapter 18: 3rd Year - The Snake and the Snitch
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Severus walked along, watching his shadow grow and loom as the flickering lanterns illuminated the dark, deserted corridor. Malfoy had given them all an assignment for next Hogsmeade session and he had been so engrossed in the book he was reading that he had not even noticed Madam Pince clear out the library. As inconspicuous as he was, she overlooked him. That chapter on spellcrafting was particularly inspiring. He couldn’t wait to start trying what he had learnt. He wanted the first spell he created to be something that got everyone to sit up. He was casting his mind around for a fitting idea, when a loud whisper sounded.

“Stop stamping my toes!”

Severus jumped and looked around wildly for the source of the voice. He couldn’t see anyone in the vicinity.

“Walk faster, Peter!”

The irate voice definitely belonged to Sirius Black. But he was nowhere around.

“It’s getting late, hurry!”

Potter’s unmistakable voice sounded much closer, and he instinctively moved into the shadows. He stood still, looking around fervently. He thought he caught sight of some movement a few feet away, but there was nothing there. He supposed it must have been an odd flickering of the lights. He waited intently for them to speak again, and wasn’t disappointed. An outbreak of whispering ensued, and he could hear Black’s gruff voice and Pettigrew’s squeaky one, followed by Potter’s obnoxious guffaws. It was clear to him they were up to something. Curiosity burned through him as he drew his wand, and attempted to follow the voices. He moved stealthily, ensuring that the dark shadows hid him well. He moved further down, casting his eyes around for the Marauders. He could hear them clearly, their words intriguing him. He was thoroughly bewildered. How were they concealing themselves so effectively? Did they know some advanced magic he didn’t?.

The voices stopped abruptly and he paused, gripping his wand harder. There was the sound of footsteps, multiple ones, echoing. He slunk further into the corner, eyes darting around for the slightest sign of movement. Moonlight flowed through a window, lighting up that part of the corridor. He caught something out of the corner of his eye; a classroom door moved slightly. It could have been due to a draft, but it wasn’t a windy night. Holding his breath in excitement, Severus moved forward. They were definitely up to something, and he was going to catch them in the act. As he drew closer to the classroom, he could hear Black’s voice, confirming their presence inside. He craned his neck to peek around the slightly ajar door, taking care not to disturb it and give himself away. He was almost there, and then -

Bang!

The door banged shut on his face, hitting his nose. His eyes smarted with the pain, but before he could recover, there was a flash, and he found himself rigid as a board, his back against the door he had just tried to spy through. Potter and Black emerged from the shadows, their wands outstretched.

“Well, well, what do we have here?” sneered Black.

“An abnormally large nose that lives up to its name,” smirked Potter.

“Didn’t mommy ever tell you it’s rude to snoop?” laughed Black.

Severus wanted to retort, but found he couldn’t do anything except move his eyeballs. His face grew hot in humiliation as the two of them stood directly in front of him, with identical smirks on their faces, that enraged him.

“Say, Snivellus, how fond of your nose is your mum?”

“I’d say we would be doing her a favor, James.”

The two of them laughed; a harsh, unpleasant laugh that grated on his nerves. His wand was in his hand, and he willed himself to cast a nonverbal spell. He had done it before, he just needed to concentrate.

His feet suddenly lifted off the ground, and he was being suspended in mid air. He watched on helplessly as Potter and Black continued to taunt and mock him. They were standing right beside the window, the full moon light illuminating their arrogant, supercilious faces. Footsteps sounded, and they were joined by that fat idiot, Pettigrew.

“It’s almost time,” he wheezed.

“Just a moment, Peter,” replied Potter carelessly, not taking his eyes off Severus.

“But the book says the liquid-”

“Not now!” growled Black, shooting him a warning glare. Pettigrew grew quiet.

Potter and Black exchanged a look. Then, Severus felt himself being shoved into a broom cupboard. The three faces peered at him.

“This’ll ensure you stay put until we are done,” said Black.
“Too bad Peter came along when he did, Snivelly!” remarked Potter lightly. “We’ll have to reschedule your nose job for another day!”

Black’s harsh laughter rang in his ear as the door banged shut on his face, enveloping him in complete darkness.




“You locked Snape in a broom cupboard with a full body bind?”
Sirius felt slightly guilty at Remus’ disapproving tone. He shot a look at James, who seemed to be mirroring his feelings.

“Well, we thought of going back to remove the curse-” started James slowly.

“Why didn’t you?” demanded Remus crossly. Sirius was forcibly reminded of a less severe McGonagall.

James looked at his feet sheepishly. “He was following us,” he muttered.

Remus glared at him. “So, you locked him up all night? Bound and helpless?”

“He looked alright at breakfast today,” mumbled Sirius.

Remus looked at him scornfully and said, “that’s not the point, and you both know it.” He continued to frown at the them for a few moments and then sighed. “Did everything else go okay last night?” he asked, his tone softer but still cold.

“Yeah, step eleven was pretty uneventful,” replied Peter.

“Except for the moment when Peter almost dropped the vial!” said James. “But we didn’t hold it against him,” he added anxiously, eager to get back in Remus’ good books. Remus had that way about him. He was always on your side, but when he wasn’t, his quiet disapproval was deafening.

“You could have gotten banned from the match next week, you know,” Remus told James after a pause.

James tried to arrange his face into a look of concern, failing miserably. “McGonagall wouldn’t have dared. She wants the Ccup more than we do,” he grinned proudly.

“And Snape’s really okay?” he asked, raising his eyebrows.

“He looked absolutely peachy,” said Sirius enthusiastically.

“Yeah, well-oiled and extra shiny,” put in James, nodding eagerly.

“He even spat at us thrice today,” added Peter.

“That’s two more than his daily quota!” nodded Sirius.

Remus suppressed a smile. Then again, thought Sirius, he could never remain mad at them for long. Sure enough, he joined in with interest when James showed them a new spell he had invented.




“You didn’t have to follow them,” said Lily reproachfully as they walked across the lawn together. It was a bright afternoon, and most students had taken advantage of the free afternoon to laze around.

“You wouldn’t have done anything different,” pointed out Severus.

Lily considered this. He was right. “It isn’t my business what they get up to,” she replied, shaking her head stubbornly.

“Aren’t you even a least bit curious?” he pressed on.

She was. But - “That’s beside the point,” she replied, stopping to lean against a tree. “You know what they’re like. You chose to follow them. There’s no point in whining now.”

“I don’t whine,” he said angrily, “and I didn’t get caught on purpose, you know.”

“Well, what else did you expect from James and Sirius?”

“Oh, so now it’s James and Sirius, is it?” asked Severus, his voice dripping with derision.

“Not that again,” she groaned.

“No, really,” he continued in that same tone, “tell me, Lily. When did Potter start becoming James to you?”

Lily glared at him. “I’m not talking about that again,” she replied fiercely. It was less than a week since they had gotten into a similar argument after the Hogsmeade trip and she had no intention of raking that up again.

“Of course,” he replied coolly. “I’d expect you to take their side.”

“I’m not taking their side!” she cried impatiently. Several first years strolling nearby turned to look at her in alarm. She lowered her voice. “I’m saying you brought this on your own head.”

Severus’ face grew red. “You would have followed them too,” he repeated. “They’re up to something, Lily,” he insisted. “And that Lupin wasn’t with them.”

“He wasn’t even in the castle, Sev. He was ill.”

“Yes, about that-” He shuffled his feet, moving closer to her. His cheeks flushed and eyes lit up. “I think I know why,” he whispered intriguingly.

“I don’t see what that has-”

“I think he’s a werewolf,” he interrupted.

Lily stared at him. He was definitely out of his mind.

“It all fits,” he continued in the same low, excited tone. “His monthly disappearances… and I bet he even-”

Stop it, Sev!” she cut in, when she finally found her voice. “What’s wrong with you?”

He blinked. It was clear he hadn’t expected her to react this way.

“Do you realize how ridiculous you sound right now?”

“It’s not ridiculous!” he pressed on. “If you see-”

“I don’t care,” she interjected angrily. “And I don’t see why you should either.”

“Listen-”

“No, you listen! Stop this - this stupid - urgh! I don’t even know what this is!” She folded her arms across her chest, and sighed deeply.

He looked like he was on the verge of speech, and waited for him to say something, but he didn’t oblige. She felt almost… fearful. Severus wasn’t usually like this. As annoyed as she was with him, she wanted to understand what was making him behave the way he was.

“Sev,” she started in a kinder voice. “Why do we have to argue about them?”

He averted his eyes. “It’s just… they’re just so… I hate that James Potter,” he replied with emotion. “Strutting around… thinking he’s Merlin’s gift to wizardkind…” he muttered.

She looked at him closely. Behind his pale skin and distasteful expression, she noticed something that suddenly made things very clear. Something that Adhara had been hinting for a while now and she had chosen to ignore. Something that she had thought he was above. Apparently not.

“Severus,” she started slowly, her voice barely above a whisper. “I know you’re in Slytherin, but green really isn’t a good color on you.”




Severus watched Lily walk away and join her friends by the lake, with a mixture of resentment and annoyance. The conversation certainly hadn’t gone as he had planned. Anger bubbled through him as he remembered Lily’s accusation. Him? Jealous of that bespectacled baboon? He could out-hex him anytime he wanted. It was just that Potter always caught him unawares, and outnumbered him by bringing along his cronies ready to do His Majesty’s bidding.

He spotted the arrogant arse in question lounging under a tree at a distance. His lip automatically curled in a sneer as he watching Potter demonstrate something with his wand, drawing the attention of a group of second years nearby. Severus knew he would like nothing more than to wipe that arrogant smirk off Potter’s face. Potter lay on his back next to Black already sprawled on the grass. The werewolf was sitting against the tree with a book in hand. Severus wondered if there was a way he could confirm his theory. The fat tag-along said something that made Potter laugh out loud, a hoarse, guttural laugh carrying to where Severus was standing. That sound irked him. Severus wished that the tree branch would break and fall on his head.
A thought suddenly struck him. He knew exactly how to get back at Potter. Why hadn’t he thought of it earlier? He had the perfect vantage point, and nobody would suspect him. He was waiting to try it out anyway, and who better than Potter to be his first subject. He remembered Potter’s boggart and was beside himself with glee.

He looked around furtively. He knew he needn’t have worried; people usually didn’t take notice of him. His gaze lingered for a moment on Lily. Just as he was about to turn away, she glanced at him and their eyes locked. The corners of her mouth twitched in a hesitant smile; one he definitely wasn’t compelled to return. After everything she knew about him, she considered him weak. He would show her just what he was capable of. She looked away as Severus gripped his wand tighter. Sliding it out, he pointed to the branch directly above Potter. He recalled what he had read about spellcrafting, and the spell he had been trying to develop. He threw all his fury and rancour behind it, every cell in his brain concentrating on the one thing he intended to achieve.

Serpensortia,” he whispered viciously, his face contorted with the effort, and eyes fixed on the branch.

There was a movement, as though a strong jet of air had shot out of the tip of his wand. A snake appeared, dangling from the intended branch. Severus lowered his wand with a satisfied smirk, and drew back to watch the events unfold.

Everything that followed made his heart sing: James Potter unaware of the snake - the snake slithering down the branch - hanging from the tip - the snake falling on James Potter - James Potter leaping up in uncharacteristic fright - James Potter letting out a yelp of terror - the look of panic on James Potter’s face as he hopped comically, away from the advancing snake. It was exactly what he had intended.
Until what happened next almost stopped his heart.
Potter’s cronies had been too busy laughing at him to take out their own wands. Potter had pointed his wand a second too late, and the snake had sunk it’s fangs into his leg. It took Severus a moment to realize what had happened as James Potter abruptly dropped to the ground.

Potter’s friends gathered around him. Black was shouting something and Lupin looked agitated as he bent over the fallen body. The girls by the lake had rushed forward to see what the commotion was all about.

Severus looked on in horror, and did the first thing he could think of - he took to his heels.




The sounds around him were initially nondescript, as if coming from under a well. He could hear voices talking; many of them, a conversation. Was that Sirius? He tried to open his eyes, but there seemed to be something weighing his eyelids down. He tried to reach out for it but found he couldn’t lift his hands. He could hear another voice, higher pitch and talking quite fast. He wanted to see what was happening. He threw all his will behind opening his eyes, and this time managed to succeed.

Blurry shapes - blink - somebody was pacing - blink - a swish of red - blink - someone peered down at him - blink - his head was spinning, and the shapes and colours in front of him seemed to blend into one big blur, as his eyelids dropped and everything faded into black once again.

An excited voice sounded, nearer this time, not from inside a well. It was Peter’s, telling the others he had woken up. He opened his eyes once more, struggling to keep them that way long enough to focus. It wasn’t as hard as last time. There was that red hair again. And then, a head blocked his line of vision. He blinked a couple of times, and realized he wasn’t wearing his glasses. He groped around, and somebody handed them to him.

“James?” said Sirius, his worried face sharpening into focus. More heads appeared: Remus’ anxious and Peter’s hopeful. His arms didn’t feel quite as heavy as before. He tried to push himself up using his elbows.

“Don’t,” protested Remus, trying to make him lie back down. Sirius’ hands, however, automatically reached out to help him sit up. He smiled gratefully at Sirius.

“You’re awake? How are you feeling?”

Marlene had come to stand beside him, peering. He noticed Lily Evans, standing the farthest of everyone, with her back against a wall, but looking at him nevertheless.

“I’m,” James’ voice caught, and he cleared his throat before replying, “I’m fine.” He looked around at everyone, who kept looking at him as if he was grievously injured. He felt a faint throbbing on his right ankle and looked down at it. He could see a reddish-purple discolouration that surrounded four very obvious puncture marks. “What happened to me?” James asked.

“A snake bit you, and you suddenly dropped unconscious,” replied Peter, chewing his lip as he always did when he was tense.

“You’ve been out for three hours,” added Remus.

Their expressions continued to look grave, and James was confused. It was just a snake bite, wasn’t it? Nothing Madam Pomfrey couldn’t fix in a jiffy. He noticed that Peter was shuffling his feet, and Remus averted his eyes. Marlene looked like she was about to cry, and Lily’s face was unreadable. Sirius was the only one who looked him square in the eye. In that brief moment their eyes met, James knew something wasn’t right.

“The snake that bit you, Pomfrey wasn’t able to identify the exact nature of the poison,” started Sirius. Remus gave a sudden jerk of his head as if to stop him, but Sirius ploughed on. “She has managed to stop it from spreading, but is still working on countering it.”

“We talked to Professor Kettleburn,” said Remus. “He said the appearance and effects are quite unusual. McGonagall reckons it was conjured by Dark Magic.”

“Dumbledore is wild, he wants an enquiry launched. The heads of the house are with him right now,” spoke up Marlene, her voice sounding thick.

James glanced at the seemingly innocent bruise.

“So, there’s a chance I could die?” he asked casually. Marlene winced, her eyes widening.

“Yup,” replied Sirius, in the same tone.

“Sirius!” cried Marlene, her voice on the edge.

James grinned. “Imagine if I come back as a ghost.”

“You and Moaning Myrtle can finally make a match of it,” snorted Peter.

“Yeah, it’ll get her off my back,” Sirius’ eyes gleamed hopefully.

“Nah, she’s far too gone for you Sirius,” replied James.

“You shouldn’t have flirted with her,” said Remus shaking his head.

“Filch was on my tail. That was the only way I could get her to cover for me!”

“What kind of friend would I be if I took Myrtle away from you?” grinned James.

“You’ll have much more in common, what with being on the same spectral plane and all,” retorted Sirius.

“Just don’t haunt our bathroom, okay?” chuckled Peter. “I don’t want to be taking a shower and have you pop out of the U bend!”

“Yeah, you wish, Peter!” replied James with a smirk.

The four boys and Marlene laughed loudly, which unfortunately brought a very annoyed Madam Pomfrey into their midst. While she was busy chasing them away from his bed, James caught sight of Lily, standing exactly where he had seen her before, staring straight ahead at nothing in particular. He turned back just in time to hear Sirius say -

“Oh come on, Poppy! You know you want to!”

Madam Pomfrey banged the door shut on his face, hurrying away red-faced and flurried. James grinned to himself. A sudden silence hung in the air.

“Sad the snake didn’t finish me off?” James joked. She looked startled, almost as if she just realized where she was. She turned her brilliant green eyes on him, and James felt a fleeting clench in his stomach. He raised his eyebrows questioningly at her.

“Uh… you okay?” she asked in a strange voice.

“They say I’ve got only six hours to live!” he replied, grinning.

Her eyes grew wide for a moment before she realized he was joking. “Prat!” she said, with feeling. Her face broke into a small smile.

“So why are you all the way over there, instead of beside my deathbed?” he asked.

“Please!” she rolled her eyes. “It’s almost like you’re taking pleasure in dying!”

“I’d like to make the most of it. I hear you get to die only once!” he grinned.

“You’re preposterous!”

“I prefer insane,” he replied.

She laughed; A clear, pleasant laughter. “I find it hard to believe you’re scared of snakes but not afraid of death.”

“Snakes give me the creeps!” he replied with a shudder. He hated the way they moved. “On the other hand, if I die I can give Peeves company here,” he grinned.

“You’re insane, Potter!” she shook her head incredulously, her swishing red hair catching the sunlight and his eye alike.

“Admit it, you’d miss me when I die,” he laughed, expecting it to annoy her.

But to his surprise she didn’t roll her eyes or even smile back. She looked, if anything, troubled. “How are you, really?” she asked in a small voice.

“Peachy and ready to haunt the castle,” he replied heartily. She continued to stare him down, and found himself relenting under her gaze. He sighed. “I feel weak,” he mumbled. “My limbs are heavy, and head is throbbing.” He didn’t know why he had just admitted all that to her. “Don’t tell the others. They’ll just worry,” he hastened to add.

“As they should,” she replied firmly. Something crossed her expression, a flicker of trepidation, and she asked in almost a whisper, “Do you know who did it?”

He suddenly understood why she had been acting so strange. “What did you say?” he asked frowning, though he had heard her perfectly well.

“Do you know who did it?” she repeated in a louder voice.

“No. But I’m guessing you do!” He glared, anger bubbling at the pit of his stomach.

She turned red. “I - I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
He raised his eyebrows at her. “Really?” It was all he could do to keep the fury out of his sarcastic tone.

“Really,” she affirmed. He looked at her scornfully.

“They told me Dumbledore is launching an inquiry,” he said pointedly.

Her silence incensed him further. He narrowed his eyes at her.

“I wouldn’t have believed it of you, Evans.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she replied coldly, probably irked by his accusatory tone. She had no right to be!

“Oh don’t you?” his voice raised, dripping with sarcasm. “Why don’t you ask your snot-wiping boyfriend!”

Her eyes flashed, and for a second James thought she was going to yell at him. He braced himself for the verbal assault, more than ready to tear her arguments apart.

“You should get some rest, Potter,” she said abruptly. “Try not to drop dead before they find the antidote.” She attempted a weary smile which he certainly did not feel compelled to return.

James fumed inwardly watching her hurry out of the Hospital Wing, blood pounding through his ears. It hadn’t occurred to him before, but the second she asked that question everything became clear. Furthermore, her reactions convinced him Snape was behind this. Coming to think of it, he had seen her talking with Snape just moments before the snake entered the scene. He clenched his fists, his breathing laboured as his mind struggled to wrap itself around the fact that Lily Evans, could somehow be involved in Dark Magic.




He knew. James Potter knew.

Lily’s neck broke out in sweats every time she recalled the conversation in the hospital wing. The other Gryffindors had been to see him a few times since, but she had avoided it. Dumbledore had personally questioned the Marauders, but the girls hadn’t been called in.

Two days later, James Potter was still in the hospital wing, and the whole school was buzzing with the news of it. Wild theories were flying around, the sanest of which happened to be that it was Slytherin’s attempt to foil Gryffindor’s chances at the upcoming match. Her friends were unable to talk about anything else either. Constant speculation about the infamous person responsible was driving her crazy.

She was almost scared someone would read her thoughts. She had seen the look on Severus’ face moments before James Potter was attacked. She was almost certain it was him, but she hadn’t actually seen him cast the spell. Maybe it wasn’t Severus.
The nagging internal disquiet threatened to spill over, as her friends began to notice her uncharacteristic withdrawal from conversation and activities. She sought Severus out to clarify, hoping to hear his vehement denials. She wasn’t disappointed in that regard, but his words were laced with defensiveness and a twitchy demeanor that failed to convince her of his innocence.

She watched the back of Severus’ head as he walked away from that conversation, each step he took increasing her conviction that he was involved. She walked on, deep in thought, and without really knowing it, her legs had carried her to the hospital wing. She found herself asking to see James Potter, without really understanding why. Madam Pomfrey had been surprisingly relenting. Maybe it was the haunted look on her face, she thought as she caught sight of her reflection on one of the window panes.

“Potter? James?” she asked tentatively. His head seemed to be buried behind a Transfiguration book. An odd choice for light reading, she thought. He started at the sound of her voice and surfaced, stowing away the book hastily.

“Evans!” He didn’t sound angry with her.

“How are you?” Her eyes darted guiltily to his foot, the purplish bruise still prominent.

“I’m doing okay. Don’t you have to be in Potions now?” he asked lightly. Maybe he had forgotten all about it?

“I’ll take it up with Slughorn later,” she dismissed, forcing lightness into her voice.

“Of course! Has he popped the question yet?”

It took her a few seconds to realize what he was talking about.

“You prat!” she laughed.

“Heard he asked you out last week,” James grinned.

“That was a Slug Club invite, and Dumbledore didn’t exempt me from the fourth-year-and-above rule!”

“Bummer!”

She returned his grin half heartedly, starting to feel uncomfortable, and oddly responsible for James’ situation. It suddenly occurred to her that her argument with Severus moments before the attack might have goaded Sev into it.

“So, it’s just you?” he asked, glancing past her.

“Yeah,” her voice oddly strained. “So, any update on the antidote?” she asked worriedly.

“Didn’t Marlene tell you?”

“Marlene?”

“She dropped by this morning.”

“Oh.” Lily didn’t know why that particularly irritated her.

“Yeah.”

“So..?” Lily asked expectantly.

“So?” James forehead creased.

“The antidote,” she supplied, impatiently.

“Oh, right,” his forehead cleared. “Poppy isolated some components of the poison, and got Ol’ Sluggy to make me a potion. Tasted like boots if you ask me,” he cringed. “A St. Mungo’s healer suggested another potion guaranteed to be effective, but it isn’t sold here and has to be imported from Russia.”

“Russia?”

“Yeah, my Dad’s already forwarded the paperwork. It should be here this afternoon. With that, I’ll be as good as new.”

“That’s great!” she replied, smiling with obvious relief. There was no lasting damage done, and probably no need to get Severus into trouble.

“Evans?” he interrupted her thoughts. “What are you doing here?” He was frowning at her.

“Just came to see if you were okay,” she replied.

“You could have done that during lunch, or asked Sirius. What are you really doing here?”

There was that look again; one that gave her the feeling that he knew exactly what was on her mind. She considered lying to him, but knew he wouldn’t buy it.

“I wanted to know if - if you told Dumbledore… about… Sev,” she resigned.

“You concern really is touching.”

She regretted her candor the second the angry glint was back in his eyes.

“It’s not like that, James!” she insisted. “I was worried.”

“Yeah, that’s why you’ve been to see me exactly zero times in three days,” he glared at her.

“I’m sorry this happened to you,” she said in a low voice.

“No you’re not.”

“Excuse me?” She was beginning to feel offended. All she had done was be nice to him, and he was being kind of a prick.

“You’re not sorry this happened to me. You’re sorry that you didn’t speak up!” He said angrily, sitting up straight and almost knocking his water over.

“You know as well as I do it was Snape-” her heart picked up -

“You still haven’t told Dumbledore.”

“Have you?” she asked, before she could help herself. She almost winced at the scornful look he gave her.

“Of course I have! But you didn’t!”

The switch of emotions was giving her a headache. She hated herself just then. “I’m not a snitch,” she gritted through her teeth.

He was looking at her with such contempt. “You’re disgusting! You didn’t come here for me. You came here to find out if your precious Snape was in trouble.”

“That’s not true!”

“Could have fooled me,” he sneered.

“If he really did do it-” she began hotly.

James snorted, cutting her off. “If it was anyone but him, you would have been the first in line outside Dumbledore’s office,” he said roughly. “Or maybe you both were in it together! I notice things Evans, I know you sneak out of hours to meet him in secret. Maybe you’re both learning Dark Magic…”

Shut up, Potter!” she cried.

But he continued in that same sneering tone, “Yeah, that’s gotta be it. So whose idea was it to use a snake? His, I bet. And you probably came up with-”

“How could you!” she stamped her feet. “I would never… after Adhara... how could you even… You’re mental, Potter!” she said, glaring at him..

“You’re a coward, Evans!” he shot back. “You should have been in Slytherin right alongside your boyfriend.”

“He is NOT my boyfriend!” she yelled, stamping her feet.

“I could have DIED!” James shouted. “I could have DIED thanks to you both!”

“I had nothing to do with it,” she broke the silence in a low voice.

“Why else would you cover for him?” he spat, eyebrows raised accusingly.

She regarded him for a moment, taking in his flushed face, hazel eyes darkened with fury, jaw clenched, chest raising and falling. That moment, she hated James Potter. She hated him for making her feel this way, for attacking Snape, for accusing her. But in that same moment, her sense of justice came to her rescue. She hated him for being right. She hated him, because she couldn’t bear to hate her best friend. Her eyes bore into his as she replied softly, the only thing that came closest to an apology as she could manage right then -

“Wouldn’t you do the same for Sirius, or Remus or Peter?”

He raised his eyebrows and she expected him to scoff, or scorn, or say something nasty about Snape, or insult her further. But much to her surprise, she thought she saw a spasm of understanding cross his features.

“This is not some silly rule breaking. It’s Dark Magic,” he said in a low voice, that raised steadily. “It’s Dark Magic. And I would NEVER condone it.”

She couldn’t bear the look he gave her, as if he was seeing someone entirely different. Almost as if she both disappointed and disgusted him. She raised her chin, walking away, not wanting him to see how much his words had affected her, not caring that she had come off worse in that interaction.

“You fall off the broom only to catch the Snitch.”

“What?” Lily stopped, one hand on the door, ready to close it behind her.

James raised his hand to run through his hair. “In Quidditch, you don’t risk everything unless it is to catch the Snitch.”

“Are you alright?” she asked in alarm.

He exhaled impatiently. “I’m saying, whatever you do should be bloody well worth it.”



A/N:

Hello my lovely readers. I'm back with another update this week. How do you all like the recent developments? Do you think James and Lily are beginning to have chemistry?

Every so very grateful to my two loveliest betas Chiara (Felpata Lupin) and Bianca (victoria_anne). They write the most amazing stories guys, you should check them out!

Don't forget to tell me what you think? It's always nice to get reviews *blush*


Chapter 19: The Big Row
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It was way past sundown when Adhara alighted her broom, a trifle disgruntled despite the contentment that followed flying. It had been a week since the infamous snake incident and James wasn’t out of the Hospital Wing. Without her co-player, Adhara’s game was reduced by at least twenty-five percent.

“We don’t stand a chance at the match, do we?”

Adhara turned to see Sirius strolling up to her, hands in pockets.

“You should have tried out!” she accused, glaring at him. Sirius glanced pointedly behind her where Gideon Prewett was keeping up a tirade of instructions to their reserve Chaser, Kingsley Shacklebolt, a second year bloke.

“No, thank you,” he replied dryly. “Rules are buzzkill. I like flying rogue!”

Adhara rolled her eyes. “Shack’s is good, but nowhere near James. I’m thinking of asking Remus to try out… Marlene is losing her touch.”

A clear, flirty laughter carried over and they spotted Marlene surrounded by three blokes.

“I can see why,” he commented dryly.

They started walking towards the castle. Most of the team had already left. As they crossed the dressing room, Marlene tucked a lock of her long, blonde hair behind her ear with unnecessary flourish, beaming at the boys. Owen Weasley glanced at the scene as he walked past, and something darkened in his expression.

“They going out?” Sirius raised his chin towards Owen Weasley.

“I know as much as you do,” she shrugged. Keeping track of Marlene’s love life was the least of her concerns. Although, speaking of Marlene’s love life, “how is James? Any chance he’ll be cleared in time to play?”

“He’s perfectly fine, but Poppy insists on keeping him under observation. I personally think she just likes looking at him!”

Adhara laughed, wiping the sweat off her forehead. Sirius glanced at her sideways. “You know, Patil told Peter that Aurora Fulton fancies me,” he said casually, tucking his hands into his pockets and launching into his characteristic stroll.

“We all knew that!” she replied dismissively.

“Maybe I’ll ask her out,” he suggested thoughtfully.

“Sirius Black, on a date?” she laughed. Her laughter waned at the look on his face. “Oh, you’re serious?”

He shrugged, raising his chin. “Why not?”

“I’ve known you too long, Black! The idea of you dating seems… weird!”

He turned to her, an odd look in his eyes. “Are you saying I shouldn’t ask Fulton out?”

“Why would I care?” she replied lightly, removing her gloves and wondering if he was hinting at something. But the expression on his face was unreadable. His lips wore the characteristic haughty smirk, and eyebrows raised to supplement it, but his eyes seemed to contradict the rest of his face.

“I didn’t suppose you would!” He shrugged, looking away. “I hear Fulton packs a fine arse under those robes!” He chuckled.

“Sirius!” Adhara exclaimed, throwing him a playful punch, appalled at his candor. He ducked, laughing as he caught her fists, and they tumbled round the bend.

“Uff!”

She had just collided with someone whose voice only sounded all too familiar.

“Lily?” Adhara looked concernedly at the redhead in front of her, holding her hands to her mouth and massaging her chin.

“I’m okay,” her voice muffled. She looked between her and Sirius, and for some reason turned red. “Er - I’m sorry… I didn’t… Er-”

“Your nose matches your hair now,” snorted Sirius.

Lily looked affronted, but her mouth betrayed the traces of a smile. “Very funny, Sirius,” she retorted rolling her eyes, while Sirius continued to look cheeky. “Er - I’ll be off then -” she said, making to move past them.

“Wait, Lily!” Adhara stopped her. “You were going to the common room, yeah?” Lily nodded. “So were we. Come along,”

Lily looked quite uncomfortable, her eyes darting between Adhara and Sirius, almost nervously. She opened her mouth to speak but Sirius cut in -

“You birds go ahead, I’ll be a little while.”

“Don’t call us birds!” Adhara retorted indignantly. Sirius shrugged, grinning insolently and jogged off in the opposite direction before Lily could finish her protests.

“I’m sorry,” began Lily as they started walking. “I didn’t mean to interrupt.”

“Er - What?”

“Uhm… You and Sirius.” Lily looked at her pointedly.

“Yeah?” Adhara dragged the word skeptically. She couldn’t possibly know, could she?

“I saw you both snogging the other night,” admitted Lily apologetically.

Adhara felt her face grow hot as she averted Lily’s eyes. “Oh.”

“Are you both going out?” she blurted out.

“Of course not!” Adhara protested. Lily looked at her sharply.
“I’ll bet you anything Sirius is asking Aurora Fulton out as we speak,” she replied, feeling increasingly self-conscious with each word she uttered. The thought that Lily had known for a while made her feel queasy. She tried to make light of the situation as much as possible.

“Fulton?” Lily’s forehead creased. “I thought he fancied you!”

“Me?” Adhara’s embarrassment gave way to genuine surprise. “We’ve known each other for ages!”

“But snogging is perfectly fine, is it?” Lily’s eyebrows arched judgmentally.

Adhara shook her head, rolling her eyes. “Off you go again! Putting labels on boxes and trying to fit everything into it. It wasn't like that with us. Now he wants to snog Fulton. It’s that simple!”

“I think that’s the definition of twisted,” sighed Lily. “Doesn't it bother you that he fancies Fulton?”

That hadn’t occurred to her. “No… Should it?”

“Well, normally when a girl fancies a boy, and the boy moves on to another girl, the first girl usually feels jealous.”

Was that odd queasy thing she was feeling, jealousy?

“I don’t fancy Sirius,” she shrugged, after a pause.

“But you snogged him!” Lily was staring incredulously at her.
Adhara snorted impatiently. “Do you have to fancy someone to snog them?”

“Er… yeah… Normally...” Lily’s tone began to annoy Adhara.
They turned around the corridor that led to the portrait hole.

“Well, I’m not your kind of normal.”

Lily laughed. “Look around Addie! We’re witches. We live in a castle. With other witches and wizards. None of this is my kind of normal!”

“Then we understand each other,” grinned Adhara, “your little boxes don’t exist!”

“Far from it,” Lily agreed, shaking her head. “Between you and Dorcas, I think I’m going to be chuck my boxes through the Quidditch goalposts!” She raised her hand in mock surrender and they laughed.

As light as Adhara was trying to keep the conversation, her head was buzzing with Lily’s leading responses. She had snogged Sirius because she had liked it, and liked him. He was fine. But did she like him? She certainly thought he looked quite good, and he always smelled nice. Eww.. she was thinking about how Sirius smelled! She couldn’t possibly fancy him. But then again, she hadn’t thought she could snog him either, but then that had happened. A lot. Was Lily right?

“But,” Lily started seriously, cutting into her thoughts as they climbed through the portrait hole (Password: Fiddlewobblesticks), “boxes or not, there has to be a universal moral code to abide by.”

Adhara was greeted by the sight of Marlene chatting up a fifth year. “Tell that to her, Saint Lily,” she replied in a bored voice, glad for a chance to steer Lily away from her and Sirius.
Lily, following her gaze, pursed her lips. Though she had mostly remained silent when Adhara and Dorcas discussed Marlene’s coquetry, Adhara could tell she didn’t approve. But Lily wasn’t usually one for interventions or confrontations, which is she was greatly surprised when Lily marched up to Marlene.

“What are you doing?” she glared, completely disregarding the much bewildered older boy.

Marlene blinked. “Uhh-”

“We need to talk to you upstairs,” her voice was level, but her eyes were quite stern.

Marlene looked quite unnerved. “Oh-kay,” she replied uncertainly.

“Right away,” insisted Lily, raising her eyebrows pointedly
Adhara noticed Owen Weasley’s head snap up from his seat by the fireplace, watching as an utterly bewildered Marlene followed an uncharacteristic Lily up the girls staircase. Curiosity aroused, Adhara hurried after them. As she entered their dorm, Lily’s voice rung out.

“... has to stop Marlene.”

“What are you talking about?” Marlene hadn’t caught on still.

“The way you behave with blokes,” Lily continued. “Don’t you see what people think of you?”

Lily’s tone was a clear indication and Marlene’s forehead cleared in comprehension. A moment of silence followed as Marlene’s face reddened slowly.

“Excuse me?” Her voice was low and hard, quite unlike her usual shrill, chirpy tone. Dorcas glanced questioningly at Adhara, who shook her head as if to say she had no idea where this was going. Mary had stopped folding her cloak halfway, and was watching the two of them intently.

“Well,” Lily said in a voice much softer than before but not a hint less firm, “If you’re not careful, you’re going to end up with a reputation like that Tessa Hornby, or worse, Bertha Jorkins.”

Tessa Hornby? You’re comparing me with that… that… slag?” Marlene struggled to get the words out.

A flicker of something crossed Lily’s face. “No, that’s not what I-” she started appeasing.

“Oh no!” Marlene cut in, her voice rising steadily, “that’s exactly what you meant!” There were red blotches on her face, and her eyes were glistening. Her lower lip trembled as she opened her mouth again. “Saint Lily,” she spat, her lips curling.

Adhara was taken aback at Marlene’s tone. Nobody had ever heard her speak like this.

“What I meant was-” Lily started once again, her face showing clear regret.

“Not this again!” she snarled. “I’ve heard enough from you about everything I do… but this, is a new low.”

“It isn’t what I meant,” Lily insisted.

Bollocks,” swore Marlene, shutting Lily up once again. Adhara exchanged a raised eyebrow with Dorcas, and glanced at Mary. Mary was good at smoothing things over, but she wasn’t showing any signs of getting in the middle of this one.

Lily’s eyes narrowed slightly. “Mar-”

“Bollocks,” repeated Marlene, dragging out each syllable in the same hard voice. “What? Saint Lily, too good to swear, too good to drink, too good to be rude… so good that you can’t be friends with anyone who isn’t your version of perfect.”

“That’s not what I said,” Lily started hotly.

You compared me to Tessa Hornby!” Marlene’s voice was on the edge.

“Marlene,” Lily was almost pleading, “I was just concerned.”

“Oh yeah?” Marlene scoffed. “You know what you are? A big pain! You think you’re such a goody little girl, making friends with everyone, going around and telling people what’s right and wrong…telling them who they can and can’t fancy... you’re not so perfect yourself!”

“This isn’t about me,” Lily gritted through her teeth, crossing her hands across her chest.

“Why not?” Marlene shrieked, waving her hands around. “You walk around as if you’re one of Merlin’s Angels, thinking everything and everyone should fit into your warped vision of the world. You’re bossy, and overbearing, and judgemental, and plain irritating!”

Adhara saw Lily’s face get redder with every word Marlene uttered. There were tears streaming down Marlene’s cheeks as she spoke, but Lily’s eyes remained clear and cold.

“And you know what,” Marlene continued with a tone of finality, “you’re all talk only here. You don’t have half the balls - yes I swore, and I will swear again - you don’t have half of Salazaar’s saggy balls to stand up to your precious Snape!”

“Don’t bring him into this!” Lily’s eyes were narrowed to slits now.

I’m concerned,” mocked Marlene. “You didn’t even have the courage to tell McGonagall that it was Snape who set that snake on James.”

Lily blanched. Dorcas looked for a moment like she was going to interject.

“Why is that Saint Lily?” Marlene ploughed on triumphantly. “If me flirting with a few blokes makes me Tessa Hornby, then you siding with Snape, makes you what? A Death Eater?”

“Marlene…” started Adhara thinking it was high time someone interjected, "that's not fair.”

“Stay out of this!” Adhara stopped short at the vicious snarl.

“How could you!” Lily found her voice, taking a step forward in Marlene’s direction. “I did not side with Sev! You don’t even know the half of it!”

“Yes I do!” Marlene shouted back taking a step towards Lily. Her hair had come completely undone. “Snape almost killed James, and you’re still friends with him! But you suddenly have a problem with the harmless attention I’m getting from boys? Jealous, are we?” she taunted.

“Jealous of what? Being called a slag? Having girls bitch behind my back?” scoffed Lily.

“Having the hottest blokes wanting to talk to me while you’re stuck with that nasty, slimy, snivellus,” shot back Marlene.

“At least I don't have a nervous breakdown every time I think I'm getting a pimple!”

“No. You just think you can tell everyone what to do, and they’ll do it.”

“I just don’t want my best friend being talked about this way!”

Marlene regarded her contemptuously, and replied with cold deliberation. “Let me make this easier for you, Evans. You don’t have to worry that perfect little head of yours about your reputation any more. I quit.”

“Wh...what do you mean?” Lily asked, her voice sounding strangely thick.

“I mean, we are done being friends.”

A bellowing silence followed as Adhara exchanged a glance with Dorcas. Marlene had never looked so serious before, and it was unnerving to see the colour drain from Lily’s face, even under the dim lighting.



The Big Row, as it was now dubbed, had effectively split the Gryffindor third years girls. Only thing was, now nobody knew where they stood. Marlene and Lily had been keeping a distance from each other, pointedly refusing to sit anywhere near each other in class or during meals. Mary, true to her nature, didn’t want to take sides and continued to pretend as if nothing had happened, and was most often the one Marlene chose to sit next to. Dorcas and Adhara had silently agreed with Lily and tried to show her that, only that Lily was making it difficult for them to do so. And finally, the boys, true to their character as teenage boys, remained blissfully oblivious to any change in the dynamics within their house mates.

Dorcas watched in confusion as Lily looked stubbornly ahead, ignoring Dorcas’ attempts to catch her eye or wave her over and went right up to sit beside Alice Longbottom at the breakfast table. It was the third day since the Big Row and Lily was continuing to ignore all of them. Furthermore, the hostility in the dorm room was so high that both Lily and Marlene would only enter or stay if the other was asleep or absent. Dorcas thought she saw a hint of regret in Marlene’s expression at times, but Lily’s face seemed to betray no emotion.

“I get that she’s mad at Marlene, but she doesn’t have to treat us this way,” muttered Adhara, frowning as Lily stuck her nose in the air when she crossed them. “We didn’t do anything.”

“Maybe she thinks we sided with Marlene?” suggested Dorcas, lowering her voice as they walked to class so that Marlene couldn’t hear.

“Based on what?” Adhara sounded enraged. “She was so rude when we tried talking to her. And do you know she only comes to sleep after we have all fallen asleep? And wakes up before everyone else?”

“It’s like she wants to avoid us,” agreed Dorcas.

“That’s not fair! She’s starting to piss me off now.”

Dorcas glanced over at Lily as she and Adhara slid into the seat behind Marlene and Mary. Lily looked perfectly normal as she chatted up with Priya Nair and Aurora Fulton before Professor Bathsheda called order. She could see why Adhara was angry, and frankly so was she. It wasn’t like Lily was moping around in general, it was becoming clear that she wanted to avoid them. At least Marlene tried to pretend as if nothing was wrong and had even tried to get Adhara to talk to her during the practice sessions, but Adhara was still giving her the cold shoulder for snubbing her.

Adhara nudged her by the elbow and slid over a piece of parchment -

Did you finish the Muggle Studies essay on ‘Communication’?

Dorcas picked up her quill to scribble her response. No. And I’m not showing you my essay this time.

For Salazaar’s sake! Don’t be such a goody-goody.

Salazaar’s sake? Addie! You can take the Selwyn out of Slytherin but not the Slytherin out of Selwyn!

Shut up, you idiot. Last time, I promise. I just need to write a couple of inches more.

I know what that means. You have at least a foot left. Why did you have to take Muggle Studies anyway?

It got Rigel and my father mad, didn’t it?

For Salazaar’s sake!


She attempted to draw an image of a skull, but it somehow ended up looking like a very poor representation of an anorexic owl. Adhara took one look at it and ducked her head in silent laughter. That set of Dorcas, and she pressed her palms against her mouth to stifle the giggles that threatened to spill.

Something flew past Dorcas and landed on their table. Adhara picked up the ball of parchment that it was, and looked around quizzically, her face clearing in comprehension as Sirius caught her eye and nodded towards it. Dorcas leaned in as Adhara unfolded it.

You have Quidditch practice tonight?

She looked at him and nodded. He held his wand under the desk surreptitiously so that the tip was peeking out from behind his elbow and the parchment rustled as if a light breeze had passed through it. New words had appeared on it -

Chaser #3: Remus or Shacklebolt?

Adhara shrugged her ignorance on the matter.

“How did he do that?” Dorcas was examining the parchment. That was some seriously impressive Charms work.

“What?” Adhara turned away from Sirius, who was currently engaging himself by levitating the chalk pieces behind Professor Bathsheda and making them dance much to Aurora Fulton’s amusement.

“Sirius… say,” something suddenly struck Dorcas - “if you don’t mind me asking, do you fancy Sirius?”

“What? No! Why does everyone keep asking me that?” she whispered furiously.

“I just got a… feeling,” Dorcas shrugged, “wait - who else asked?”

“The Arctic Princess,” Adhara rolled her eyes in Lily’s direction. Dorcas sniggered. “Besides, I think Sirius fancies Fulton.”

“Hufflepuff Fulton?

Professor Bathsheda glanced pointedly in their direction at that very moment, shutting up both Dorcas and Adhara effectively.
Dorcas poised her quill over the parchment, in an attempt to convince Professor Bathsheda she was quite interested in prefixes of Runes translation. She wasn’t usually like this, but with everything that had happened in the past couple of days, she could really use a break. She considered taking a leaf out of Lupin’s book and going home for a couple of days. If she was being honest with herself, the idea of going home had a larger appeal to her than just respite. Her mind wandered to the pouch in her bag, where she had carefully stored the parchment and the scrap of metal she had retrieved from the Flumes’ residence. The words on the half-burnt parchment made no sense to her without the rest of it, and she wasn’t even sure why she was clinging on to it. The Ministry must have cleared out all the useful information… but something about the piece of metal had been nagging her. Every time she held it in her hand there was something so familiar about it. It was difficult to get a moment of privacy at Hogwarts, maybe going home would give her more time to spend with it.



“... and she just decked him right in the middle of the Quidditch pitch!” laughed Leigha Ollivander.

“Did you really?” Lily addressed Priya Nair, who grinned in affirmation.

Lily decided she liked hanging out with the Ravenclaws. The first day had been decidedly awkward, but Lily had been determined not to let Marlene, or the others, see how much the fight had affected her.

“Say, Lily,” started Leigha as they turned into the lawn. It was a particularly warm afternoon, and Lily had convinced the others to take their assignments outside. “You know Aurora Fulton, don’t you?”

“Sure…”

“I hear she’s going with Black…”

Sirius Black?” piped up Priya Nair, her eyes round.

“Which other Black?” Leigha rolled her eyes. “I mean sure, his kid brother doesn’t look half bad, but he’s a kid, and he doesn’t hold a candle to Sirius Black!”

Lily laughed along as the other two launched into giggles. She couldn’t imagine having such a conversation with her Gryffindor friends. They didn’t really talk about blokes and stuff (except Marlene, and only when it came to scruffy gits like Potter). She had to admit, she found this quite liberating.

“Sirius is easy on the eyes,” Lily agreed as they sunk on to the warm grass beside the lake, enjoying the sudden gust of cool breeze on her face. “But personally I prefer Amos Diggory.”

She grinned reluctantly as Priya Nair giggled once again.
“Diggory, the other Diggory, McLaggen, Summers, Williamson… there’s something about those Hufflepuffs,” Leigha commented thoughtfully, dipping her quill in the ink pot.

“You’re right!” Priya Nair sat up straight, knocking over the parchments on her lap. Lily reached out, grabbing them before the wind could snatch them up. “Gryffindor isn’t far behind either… Redford, Weasley, Prewett…”

“Quidditch players, eh?” teased Lily.

“Priya has a thing for Potter, don’t you Pri?” smirked Leigha.
Priya blushed, shooting a glare in Leigha direction.

“Potter?”

And just like that all the mirth was sucked out of the conversation as her stomach twisted unpleasantly. The mention of James Potter out loud brought back everything Lily had been trying to push to the back of her mind - the attack, Severus, the fight with Marlene… Marlene, who also fancied James Potter… James Potter who couldn’t bother to comb his stupid hair…

“... Lily?”

Lily blinked. “Sorry, what?”

“I asked if Potter is cleared to play the match on Friday.”

“Uh…”

The truth was, she had no idea. With everything going on with her, Quidditch was the last thing on her mind. All she knew was that James had returned to the Common Room a couple of days ago - his friends made sure the everyone knew that by throwing a little party for him, while he was escorted through the portrait hole being hoisted on Sirius’ shoulders. She remembered feeling sick to the stomach at the sight of him, and sneaking out of the portrait hole. Guilt was a horrible, horrible feeling, and she wouldn’t wish it on her worst enemy.

“Not sure,” she mumbled, leaning closer to an open textbook, pretending to be checking something on it.

“You must know,” pressed Leigha. “You share a Common Room.”

“Yes,” Lily looked up, “and you share a Common Room with the entire Ravenclaw Quidditch team,” she raised her eyebrows knowingly.

“Fine, you caught me.” Leigha shrugged unabashedly. “I want Ravenclaw to win, and it would be great if Potter was out of the way.”

“Amar Patil told me that he was seen arguing with Professor McGonagall just before our Transfiguration lesson.”

“Patil? Isn’t he in Hufflepuff?” asked Lily.

“Yes,” nodded Priya, “But I know him from before… My father’s cousin married his mother’s sister-in-law’s niece. Don’t ask,” she shook her head as Leigha tried to do the calculation.

“I heard Patil’s interested in Fulton,” added Leigha.

How she got all this information was beyond Lily. Her friends never seemed to know anything outside of their Common Room.

“Didn’t you say Fulton was with Black?” pointed out Priya.

“Fulton is to Hufflepuff what McKinnon is to Gryffindor,” sang Leigha.

And there it was. Again. She saw Priya shoot a warning look in Leigha’s direction, but really couldn’t care less. Or so she tried to convince herself. Priya hurried to fill the awkward silence by asking a doubt in their essay, which Lily cleared with a smile on her face, but as they went on with the essay Lily found her concentration drifting across the lawn where Dorcas, Adhara, Marlene and Mary were seated in their usual spot under the tree. She caught Adhara’s eye for a moment before looking away. She saw out of the corner of her eye, Adhara leaning in to whisper something to Dorcas and the four of them looking at her. She wasn’t going to let it bother her… despite the pang of longing she felt when she saw them all together while she was all the way over here.

The wind carried over a few leaves that fell on her parchment, obstructing her flow of writing. She dusted them away and poised her quill over the parchment, when again leaves fell on it. The third time that happened, there was no wind, and Lily looking right at her friends (no, ex-friends) wondering if they were playing a trick on her. This seemed exactly the kind of thing Sirius would have put Adhara up to. But they weren’t even looking in her direction now.

When she brought her hand to dust off the leaves yet again, she noticed a small, crumpled piece of parchment hidden among them. Four words written in the handwriting she knew so well -

We need to talk.



A/N:
Hello my lovely readers!! Phew! That was a lot that happened here. Took a big turn, didn't it? But put a group of teenage girls together, and you do get these blow ups once in a while don't you? Well, what do you think of it? Of Lily? Of Marlene?

Also, I've just opened up a tumblr especially for this fic and all headcanons associated with this project. Those of you who want to look me up it is flamingquilltips.tumblr.com



Chapter 20: Lily and Happenings
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 “Lily, wait.”

Footsteps echoed down the corridor behind her but she didn’t turn around right away. 


 

“Lily…” 


 

She sighed and halted, knowing she could avoid no longer. Arranging her face into an irate frown, she turned around. “Have you been lying in wait for me?”


 

“You had to get out of the library sometime,” Severus replied unabashed. 


 

“What do you want, Sev?” she asked wearily. It was late, and she had been working on a particularly difficult essay. 


 

“You ignored my note the other day,” he accused.


 

She raised her eyebrows. “I didn’t want to talk.”


 

“And you’ve been avoiding me.”


 

“I know.” She hoisted her bag higher up her shoulder and stared him down. 


 

He seemed undeterred. “I noticed you weren’t talking to anyone else either.”


 

“I have you to thank for that,” she replied coldly. 


 

“What did I do?” he demanded defensively.


 

“Oh, I don’t know,” she started, angered by his unapologetic demeanor. “A poisonous snake comes to my mind.” He opened and closed his mouth. “Well?” she demanded, further irritated by his lack of response. She half hoped he had something to say for himself, anything in his defense. She hated not talking to him.


 

“What do you want me to say?” he asked, his voice softer than before. 


 

She dropped her act. “Why, Sev?” she pleaded, “why Dark Magic?”


 

He averted her eyes. “I told you last time that I had nothing-”


 

“Don’t lie to me!” 


 

Severus started at her tone, shifting his weight from one foot to the other, clutching at his books. She saw him close his eyes and exhale deeply, almost as if preparing himself for something.


 

“Fine,” he started, in a voice so low that she had to lean in to hear him. “If you must know, I did do it.” She was compelled to cut in, but held her tongue. She really wanted him to make this right. “But I didn’t know it was poisonous, I swear! I just wanted to… to play a trick on that… that Potter.”


 

“But this wasn’t funny, Sev,” she replied softly. 


 

"Come on!” He implored, “his friends were having a good laugh until he fainted. And I really didn’t know that would happen.”


 

Lily remained silent. She badly wanted to believe he was telling the truth… and a part of her did. He opened his mouth to say something but seemed to think the better of it. She wasn’t really looking at him but staring at a spot on the wall behind him where the flickering lights of the lantern seemed to reflect. She wanted to let it all go.


 

“Then why didn't you own up?” Her voice was barely above a whisper and she almost felt them being wrenched out of her mouth against her will. 


 

“Well, that would be as good as walking up to Dumbledore and saying ‘expel me’.”


 

“Not if you had told the truth.”


 

She had seen him do this a hundred times before - looking at his feet, trying to adjust the strap on his bag, pretending not to hear. She didn’t repeat the question, and instead brought her eyes down to lock his in a gaze he couldn’t escape from. 


 

“I-” he faltered. She wished he would say something to make this alright. “Lily,” he sighed, his shoulders drooping forward. “I couldn’t…” He closed his eyes as if in frustration. “I couldn’t bear the thought of…” he seemed unable to complete the sentence. 


 

When he opened his eyes, they seemed to be appealing to something, something that he knew only she understood. And right then, she did. 


 

“You knew they would write to your parents,” she complied quietly. Sev looked away.  “Did they?”


 

He shook his head. “Just the detentions.”


 

“Did you ask him not to write?”


 

He nodded his head, a redness creeping up his pale face. He always got this way when the subject of his family came up. A textbook he was holding slipped from his hand and fell near Lily’s feet. As she bent down to pick up the copy of ‘Advanced Potion Making’ she noticed its tattered cover, worn out spine and pages almost falling out of the binding. They weren’t even up to the Advanced class yet, and he was already buying the books to read up. She realized with a jolt what a jerk she had been. Hogwarts meant everything to him. It wasn’t easy being Severus, and nobody knew that more than her. She dusted the book, handing it over to him with a smile - inviting him back into her life. 


 




 

He wheezed out the password and scrambled past the portrait hole, ignoring the Fat Lady’s irate mutterings, heaving a sigh of relief at the familiar sight. He walked towards the fireplace, leaning against the couch and welcoming it’s warmth. The pillows, looking warm and cosy, seemed to beckon to him and he walked around and plonked himself on the couch. 


 

“AAAAHHHH!” 


 

“AAAAHHHH!”


 

Peter jumped up, clutching his backside and staring at the couch. Something had moved under him, and then screeched. He'd be damned if it was the stupid black cat that Shacklebolt kid owned. He hated cats! 


 

And then, a head popped up.


 

“Lily?” 


 

“Peter?”


 

On closer look it was evident that what he had mistaken for a mound of pillows was actually Lily Evans snuggled under covers. But it wasn’t evident why. He glanced at a tea table nearby where a wand, an alarm clock, a glass of water and an open book lying on its face were neatly placed.


 

“Er… Lily, why are you sleeping here?”


 

“Uhm…” She sat up, her eyes round and clear - not at all showing traces of someone who had just been in deep sleep. “What are you doing here?” she redirected, glancing suspiciously at his hand. He quickly jerked his behind his back, hoping she hadn’t seen the leaves. She was always a curious one, that Lily Evans. 


 

“Er…” he cast his mind around for something to say. What would James say? “Official marauder business,” he attempted, smiling weakly and hoping she wouldn’t pry more. 


 

Her eyebrows raised slightly. “I hope you’re not-” she stopped abruptly.


 

“Not what?” 


 

She shook her head, indicating she didn’t want to complete that thought. Peter shrugged. He wanted to steer the conversation away from the ‘marauder business’. Sirius wouldn’t be happy if Lily Evans started poking into what they were doing. He always said that girls could never keep secrets. He cast his mind around wildly to fill the awkward silence, and change the subject.


 

“Are you sleeping here because of… Er… the thing with you and the others?” he asked suddenly as his mind landed on Adhara Selwyn.


 

She turned red before looking at her lap, her curtain of hair swinging forward to hide her face. Peter wondered if he had said the wrong thing. Before he could decide what to say next, she looked up, and he noticed that her eyes were glistening. Good Merlin! She was about to cry! 


 

And sure enough, she started sobbing into her hands. 


 

“Listen-” Peter started urgently, looking around almost hoping somebody else would come and take over the situation. “I didn’t mean to make you cry!” She just sniffed, and made a noise much like the drain suction his mother often used. “I’m sorry, Lily,” he rushed, alarmed at what he had caused. Oh how he wished it was one of the others there and not him right then.


 

Lily resurfaced, wiping her eyes with her fingers. She was looking decidedly calmer, much to Peter’s relief. “It isn’t your fault.” Her voice was still thick, but at least she wasn’t spilling more tears. “It’s just… I can’t bear to go up there you know,” she nodded, as if she expected him to understand. He nodded in reflex, almost subconsciously, which seemed to be the only right thing he had done till now, because Lily smiled weakly.


 

“I never thought they all hated me so much.” 


 

Her voice was so low that Peter had to bend forward to hear. She suddenly looked at him directly, the expression her eyes physically making Peter lean away from her. 


 

“It isn’t like all of them are so perfect, you know,” she said furiously. Peter nodded mutely. “I mean, they stood there, just watching. Nobody said a thing, and…” her voice trailed off as she stared into the flickering flames. 


 

The silence was increasingly uncomfortable for Peter. He felt like he ought to say something. He made up for his lack of words by moving to sit on the arm of the couch.


 

“Er-” 


 

“I usually talk about such things with Tuney.” Her voice had lowered to a whisper again. He nodded, trying to figure out what a Tuney was. He didn’t think Evans owned a cat. Did she? “But… I can’t anymore. And Sev… Sev isn’t… I get the feeling he won’t get this…” She seemed to be talking to herself more than him. He wondered how someone could go from sleepy to sad to angry to pensive within matter of minutes. 


 

“Peter,” she said suddenly, almost as if just realizing he was there. “You’re his friend, yeah? How is he?”


 

“Sorry?” 


 

“Potter… James!” she said impatiently. 


 

“Oh, yeah… Er - he’s doing good.”


 

Her forehead cleared. “Is he… is he playing in the match this Friday?”


 

Peter was surprised she was asking this. “You don’t know?”  She shook her head. “Madam Pomfrey advised him not to, but he snuck out to practice anyway, overdid it and fell off his broom. Redford and Weasley were around to catch him, but he is still extremely weak.”


 

“Oh,” she looked quite upset. He never got the feeling that Lily cared much about James. “When did all this happen?”


 

“This evening. I suppose you weren’t here. He was forced to go the Hospital Wing,” he snickered a little at the memory of the fuss James had kicked up.  Lily didn’t crack a smile, she probably didn’t know. He couldn’t understand why she was looking so distraught. Well, he needed to get away while she was distracted.


 

“Is he there now?”


 

“What?” He blinked. He had been too busy trying to figure out how to escape without her seeing the leaves.


 

“James,” she sounded hesitant. “Is he in the infirmary?”


 

“Er- yeah…” He was still racking his brains on how to get out of this conversation. It must have shown, because the next thing Lily said was -


 

“I’m sorry, I didn’t realize how late it is… you were going up to bed, yeah?”


 

He got up, slightly relieved, ensuring the leaves were still behind his back. “Yeah… Er- goodnight, Lily. And-” he added as an afterthought, thinking it was the kind of thing Remus would have said, “everything will work out.”


 

She smiled, almost sadly. “Goodnight, Peter.” She threw the covers around herself again as he walked on. 


 

“Peter?” she called tentatively. 


 

“Yeah?” he turned around from halfway up the stairs. Lily was looking at him over the back of the couch. 


 

“Can I ask you something?” she ventured, almost cautiously.


 

His fingers instinctively gripped harder at the leaves. Where was she leading with this? “Sure…” 


 

“Do you think… is it possible… does James Potter, y’know, fancy me?” The last two words were almost a whisper that Peter wasn’t entirely sure he had heard right. 


 

“What?”


 

She turned a bright red. “N-Never mind,” she stuttered turning back around. 


 

Peter stood there, debating whether or not he should reply. “Er- no,” he replied at long last. Lily turned around, pink-faced. “I never heard James talk about you. Like that.”


 

The firelight threw parts of her face into shadow. “


 

Oh.” Her voice sounded contrite. “Peter?” She scrambled to her knees so that she was facing him directly over the back of the couch. “You won’t tell Potter I asked you that, will you?” she asked anxiously.


 

“Er-”


 

“Please don’t tell him!” She looked horrified. Merlin, he didn’t want her to start crying again.


 

“No, I won’t,” he hastened to reply, trying to give her what he thought was a reassuring smile. But she continued to look doubtful as she sank back into the couch. He took that as his cue to leave.


 

"What took you so long?” an irate Sirius asked from his bed, where he was sprawled quite comfortably, idly making sparks appear from the tip of his wand. 


 

“The doors were locked,” muttered Peter, throwing the leaves onto a desk and sinking into his own bunk. Remus looked up from his bed, where he had been reading. 


 

“All okay?”


 

“Yeah. I ran into Evans downstairs,” he said conversationally.


 

Sirius bolted up. “Evans. She didn’t see, did she?” 


 

“No...I was careful… I think. Besides she didn’t seem to care what I had been doing,” Peter shrugged.


 

“If there was one person I’d place my bets on finding out about this, it’s Lily Evans,” replied Sirius darkly. “That bird is both inquisitive and intelligent. That’s dangerous for us,” he nodded rubbing his chin a bit dramatically. 


 

“She doesn't know,” insisted Peter, slightly irritated by Sirius’ lack of faith in him. He debated for a split second if he should tell the others what Lily had told him. A feeling of guilt peeked into his head, but the urge to tell reasoned that - technically - he had promised only not to tell James. Besides, for once he knew something the others didn’t.


 

“Hey, get this,” he started purposefully. “She wanted to know if James fancied her.”


 

“What?” yelped Sirius, turning to Peter his eyes wide.


 

“Yeah,” he shrugged. “Seemed ridiculous to me too,” he replied, beginning to smile as Sirius rolled on his bed in laughter. “James? Fancy Evans?” He set off again. “Have you ever heard anything more ridiculous, Moony,” he asked, wiping tears from his eyes. 


 

Remus was grinning. “That’s the best joke I’ve heard this month. And that includes the story of Amar Patil and the Bloody Baron scare.”  The three boys snickered at the recollection.  “Why would she think that?” Remus wondered out loud. 


 

Peter shrugged. “How would I know? She was being strange, She didn’t want James to know she asked though.”


 

Sirius snorted. “Yeah, right. James would have a good laugh if he heard. Him, fancy Evans, indeed.”


 

“Maybe she fancies him?” suggested Peter, the thought suddenly striking him.


 

“Don’t be silly,” snorted Remus. “Anyone can clearly see that they hardly even like each other.” 


 

He looked over at Sirius for validation but Sirius had sat up straight, and looked at Peter incredulously. “You could be right, you know.”


 

“Really?” Remus corked an eyebrow, sounded skeptic.


 

“No, listen, Moony. James has never given anyone reason to think he fancies Lily, so why should Lily ask Peter if he did? Unless, she fancies him.”


 

“I don’t see how…” Remus began slowly.


 

“That’s the only explanation!” Sirius cut in impatiently. 


 

They could still find out. “Maybe Adhara would know?” Peter suggested once again, looking pointedly at Sirius.


 

“What? I’m not asking her if Lily fancies James. How weird would that be?” he snorted.


 

“I think you’re right…” Remus started slowly. 


 

“Of course I’m right!” Sirius exhaled excitedly. “It would be weird.”


 

“Not that, git! Nobody cares about you and Adhara,” dismissed Remus. Peter smirked at Sirius’ haughty snort. It was nice to see him put in his place. “About Lily fancying James. I mean, she was quite upset when he got bitten, even more than Marlene was. And remember how she kept asking you about him. And I think Deliah Collins from second year mentioned that a redhead had been to visit a few times.”


 

Peter and Sirius raised their eyebrows. Maybe Remus was right, if Evans did fancy James. Was that why she and Marlene weren’t talking anymore?


 

“Could be,” replied Sirius darkly when Peter voiced these thoughts. “We’ll discuss this with James tomorrow,” he said briskly, swinging his legs over without even bothering to remove his socks. 


 

“Er - she didn’t want James to know,” Peter said cautiously, the feeling of guilt seeping through to him once again. 


 

“Peter,” started Sirius sternly. “Are you saying a girl is more important than our James here?”


 

Sirius turned his scornful eyes on to Peter, and he panicked slightly. He didn’t want them to think that. He felt a little queasy, but gulped under Sirius’ condescending gaze.


 

"N-no. Of course not."


 




 

After what seemed like hours of tossing and turning, Lily reached out for her alarm clock. Fifteen minutes? That’s all had elapsed since Peter had left her in the wake of an extremely embarrassing blurt out. She had no idea what possessed her to ask that, to Pettigrew of all people. She knew he wouldn’t keep his mouth shut… he had probably told them already and they had a good laugh at her expense.


 

She groaned into her pillow. She hadn’t thought of that in a long time - Mary’s stupid suggestion that Potter could fancy her. Why now? Maybe because stupid Priya couldn’t keep her mouth shut about how fanciable Potter was, as if she knew anything about him. Lily shared a common room with Potter, she knew exactly how unfanciable he was. The others just saw him play the fool, or flying.


 

Playing Quidditch. Despite everything Lily didn’t understand about Quidditch, she knew it meant a lot to Potter. Meant so much that he stupidly worked his arse into falling off his broom, to play the Quidditch finals. Someone had mentioned seeing him argue with McGonagall earlier. Was it related to this? Surely James Potter would end up playing the match, wouldn’t he?


 

Unanswered questions were never something Lily had been able to handle, the need to know burning in her head until it took over her every waking thought. The only way she knew she was going to get some sleep that night was to get herself some answers.


 

 


 




 

So. Lily really hadn’t thought this through. 


 

She had just bolted out of the portrait hole with the mental image of facing an awake James Potter and getting answers. But now, looking down at the sleeping James Potter, she decidedly felt awkward and stupid. James stirred slightly, causing her to panic and take a step back, freezing. He stilled, and she released a breath she didn’t know she was holding. She decided to leave soundlessly.


 

And then, there was a loud noise.


 

As luck would have it, she knocked into a cart on the other side of the the drapes that had been drawn to impart some privacy to the occupants. She stilled instantly, grabbing on to the cart, praying that James wouldn’t wake up.


 

“Sirius?”


 

She bit back a curse. James was groggily groping around for something.


 

“Er - no… it’s me,” she confessed, her voice sounding oddly shrill. She cleared her throat a little, trying to ignore the heat raising up her neck. “Lily.”


 

James pushed his glasses on his face. “Evans?” The incredulousness was mirrored by voice and face alike. “What… is something wrong?” he asked, suddenly anxious.


 

“N-no…” Oh dear! Why had she come there in the first place? “I just, wanted to see how you were doing…” she faltered. 


 

His expression shifted ever so slightly, but she wasn’t able to make it out under the dim moonlight. “You thought this was a good time to drop in?” 


 

The amusement in his voice spilled humiliation on her nerves. “Well, I thought you’d be awake,” she replied, trying to sound casual. 


 

“I am now.” 


 

She couldn’t see his face clearly, but it sounded like he was laughing at her. And why wouldn’t he? Whatever was she doing there in the first place?


 

She decided to be outright. “I didn’t know you were back in here.”


 

“Yeah.” He sounded pleased for some reason. “I should probably rent a permanent bed here, me and Moony”


 

“Moony?”


 

He looked at her directly, eyebrows slightly raised. “Never mind,” he replied dismissively.


 

“Right.” This was beginning to be the stupidest thing she had ever done. “I couldn’t sleep,” she confessed inconsequentially, hugging her elbows close to herself as a sudden wave of chilly breeze prickled against her bare arms. 


 

“I- I… sorry,” she ventured into the questioning silence. He said nothing, but the furrow in his forehead deepened. “about... the finals.”


 

“Oh, that,” he muttered glumly.


 

“There’s always next season, right?” she replied at an attempt to brighten his mood. 


 

He scowled. “That’s not how Quidditch works. It’s performance based. You have to constantly be on top of your game to be in the team.”


 

“Well, aren’t you supposed to be really good?” 


 

“What’s the use of all that if I can’t play the finals?” His voice sounded awfully bitter.


 

“I’m sure Gryffindor will win,” she tried reassuring. “There’s Redford and… and Alice is a wonderful seeker…”


 

“Evans-” She stopped talking. “There’s a lot you are good at, but understanding Quidditch ain’t one of them.”


 

She grew red at the condescension in his tone. “Well forgive me for trying to make you feel better,” she snapped. 


 

“Only way I’m going to feel better is if I can play day after tomorrow. And I don’t see Madam Pomfrey or McGonagall letting me do that,” he exasperated, lifting a hand to run through his already tousled hair. 


 

“Can’t you ask-”


 

He snorted. “Do you really think I haven’t tried every trick in the book?” 


 

She suppressed a smile. Of course, he was James Potter. She’s be surprised if he hadn’t considered confounding someone, if it meant getting his way. 


 

“But maybe the trick isn't in the book,” she replied, her eyebrows raised. “Maybe you just have to find a new way.” 


 

“Ahan.” He sounded disbelieving, and to be honest she wasn’t even sure what she was saying at that point. Maybe it was better she left. 


 

“Well… Er- I’m glad you’re alright,” she said, shifting her weight from one foot to another. “I’ll just… Er- go,” she finished lamely. 


 

He nodded, squinting at her through his glasses. “Sure.”


 

“Goodnight, Potter,” she gave him a small smile and raised her hand in a tentative wave.


 

“Goodnight, Evans,” he replied, throwing the covers over his head even before she had a chance to turn away completely. 


 

She allowed her smile to grow as she walked away from him, the feeling of unrest and melancholy that had followed her into the hospital wing had dissipated at some point during their conversation. 


 

 


 




 

James could hear Lily’s footsteps fading into the darkness. He was no longer sleepy. His mind began to focus on something she had said -


 

‘Maybe you just have to find a new way.’


 




 

Authors Note: I'm so sorry for the incredibly long wait. I just moved countries and I'm trying to get back into the writing routine. I'd love to know if any of you are still following the story! 


Chapter 21: 3rd Year - Game Plan
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

 The sun was barely up, and the dull morning hue had ascended upon the castle, not enough to get the students up and about. Adhara strode purposefully down the stars, along the drafty corridors, the height of her emotion rendering her immune to the chill prickling on her skin. The parchment crumpled in her clenched fist only added to her momentum. She turned around the bend leading to the dungeons, a path she had frequented during her first year, and at last faced a stone wall. She groaned in frustration, clearly not having thought this through.

Footfalls sounded from behind.

“Adhara?” The voice was filled with genuine shock, and widened grey eyes stared at her.

“Regulus!” She turned around, unable to keep hope and relief out of her voice. She was quick to notice that he was donning his green Quidditch gear. If the Slytherin team had been out practicing, that must mean he had to be around here. Fury rose within her as the purpose of the visit reared its head. “Where’s Rigel?” she demanded.

Regulus continued to look stunned. “He, uh, didn’t come for practice today. How did you even know where our Common Room was?” he asked, his expression suspicious and incredulous at the same time.

“I’m a Selwyn,” she raised her chin. “I’ve known where the Slytherin Common Room is since I was five. Now, go and get Rigel.” A sudden shift in his expression, a slight raise of his eyebrows, made Adhara realize her words had sounded more like a command than a request. “Please,” she added a little stiffly, in an effort to soften her previous tone lest he not comply.

He continued to look haughtily at her, his passive look of defiance strongly reminding her of Sirius. More footsteps were heard, and Regulus looked behind him nervously, suddenly looking as though he would rather be somewhere else. “It’s – Er – six in the morning,” he replied hesitantly.

Irritation shot through Adhara. “I don’t bloody care if it’s three in the morning, I need to see him NOW,” she said hotly.

The sounds of footsteps seemed to grow near. Regulus shifted his weight and rubbed the back of his neck. He glanced at her unsurely before stepping right in front of the stone wall.  

“Merlin,” he muttered, and the wall in front of him melted to reveal a passage bathed in green light. Adhara peered into it with wondering curiosity. She used to come to stare at the wall in her first year, wondering how different her life would have been if she had been sorted into Slytherin, but she had never lingered long enough for someone to show her what was beyond that wall.

“Stay here,” he instructed, holding out his arm when she made a move to follow him. “I’ll get him to come out.”

Not wanting to argue with him, she bit back a retort at his haughty tone and nodded stiffly. She figured he was still rankled at being commanded by her. She sighed as the wall melted shut behind his retreating figure, her spirits slightly dropping at the memory of their once good friendship.

A couple of girls in Slytherin Quidditch robes raised their eyebrows at the sight of her as they passed her to enter the Dungeons. She recognized one of them as Cassandra Blishwick, her classmate, who looked at her as if she were something nasty. Adhara challenged her look. She wasn’t going to let a Blishwick judge her. Adhara started pacing impatiently, glancing up every time a student walked past and glaring at everyone who as much as looked in her direction.

“Alright.” Adhara turned around at the sound of Rigel’s hoarse voice, and a sudden feeling of panic clenched her heart at the sight of him. He was rubbing his eyes, squinting as he exited the dimly lit dungeon. “Who the bloody fu-” He stopped short at the sight of her. “You?”

Adhara felt a wave of gratitude towards Regulus. Smart bloke, that one, not telling Rigel that it was Adhara waiting outside.

“What in the Snake’s Hell is this?” she swore at him, seizing the opportunity to catch him off guard and waving the offending piece of parchment in his face.

He scrunched his face in confusion, and then his forehead cleared. A smirk drew across his lips, one she dearly felt like slapping away right then.

“Oh that,” he drawled, his eyes glinting maliciously.

“What’s your fucking problem?” she spat, flinging the crumpled letter on his face in an attempt to wipe his expression away. His reactions were causing her to shake in anger. “What did I ever do to you? Why can’t you just stay out of my life?” she said furiously.

His expression remained unchanged. “It’s my duty to take care of my little sister.” His smirk grew wider. “And Father ought to know.”

“I’m no sister of yours,” she growled. “And you had no right to tell Father that I have been – what was it he wrote – Oh yeah, frolicking obscenely with Sirius!” Her face grew hot.

“Well, haven’t you?” He cocked an eyebrow, his smirk now a full-fledged grin, his perfectly white teeth glinting mockingly at her.

“You don’t know what you’re talking about,” she said through her teeth.

He took a step closer to her, towering over her. A move made in an attempt to intimidate her, something he had succeeded in doing ever since she could remember. Her legs shook slightly, and every instinct was telling her to take a step back, to save herself, that dignity didn’t matter. She fought the instinct and raised her chin to face his gaze, her hands trembling as she rested them firmly on her hips.

“I know what you’ve been up to,” he said in a low voice that sent a chill down her spine.

“How could you possibly-”

“I have my ways,” he cut her off. “And you’d do good to heed Father’s words.”

“I can date whoever I want,” she replied, trying hard to keep the fear out of her voice.

“Yes, date,” he sneered. She turned red. The word rolled out of his tongue as if it was something so… vulgar.  “Well,” he drawled his words out, pleased at her discomfit. More people were starting to move in and out of the common room, and the sun was completely out now, the sharpened edges of his malicious features lined with an orange glow. “Now, you can’t.”

Tears of rage formed a film in front of her eyes. She blinked and drew in a sharp breath. “If you think for one moment that Father’s letter is going to stop me from doing what I want, you’re mistaken,” she said in a low voice.

He scoffed. “Do you really think-”

“Shut up,” she snarled. He looked stunned for a moment. “Stay away from my life.”

His composure returned as he stared down at her for a few moments, his face dripping with something that could only be described as sadistic pleasure. He let out a small puff of breath, his lip curling on one end before breaking the gaze and taking a step back towards the Common Room entrance.

“Oh, and Adhara, I’d be careful if I were you.”

The low chuckle that followed echoed in her ears even after the dungeon wall melted shut behind Rigel’s back. He had managed to unnerve her yet again, and all she could do was glare furiously at the cold, unyielding stone.

She made her way back, hating that he had gotten the better of her yet again. She fumed inwardly as her father’s cold, slanting letters swam in front of her eyes - The news about you frolicking around obscenely with the likes of Sirius Black did not go down well with me. After nearly two years of ignoring her existence, her father’s silvery-grey owl had hooted at her window at wee hours that morning. I forbid you to see him in that capacity ever again. She could see in her mind’s eye, his brilliant green quill tracing those words out to her in all their dictatorial glory. She clenched her fists, wishing she could escape from it all, wishing she could live another life.

So engrossed in her own thoughts, it took her a few moments to realize that someone had been calling out to her. She halted at the unfamiliar voice, turning to face the addresser.

“Athena?” Her eyes grew wide in surprise.

“I was hoping to catch you alone,” Athena Greengrass said, her voice bearing an aristocratic lilt.

“Me?” Adhara couldn’t hide her surprise. Athena, apart from being Rigel’s classmate, was her second cousin on her mother’s side. But the two of them had barely bonded even when young, and had gone on to promptly ignore each other at Hogwarts. It probably had everything to do with how Athena had been properly sorted into Slytherin while Adhara had dragged the family name to mud by being a Gryffindor.

“Yes,” she said, pulling Adhara to a side as a student hurried past them. “I know we don’t talk much,” she started bluntly, “but I just wanted to warn you.”

“Warn me?”

“Yes,” Athena’s voice showed an edge of irritation. “I couldn’t help hearing you and Rigel out there, and if you quote me on this I will deny it with everything I got.” Athena’s dark eyes bore down, forcing a nod out of her. “Rigel is more dangerous than you think, and you need to be more careful.”

Adhara’s reflexively clutched at her right forearm, feeling the long scar that Rigel had inflicted upon her. “I know what he’s capable of.”.

Athena’s expression didn’t waver, but her voice dipped. “I don’t think you do. He’s… well, he’s really into this Blood Purity movement, and as long as we all sympathize with the cause we’re going to be out of harm’s way.”

Adhara let the words sink in. “Are you saying that I-”

“I’m saying that Rigel has it in for you, for some reason. And hanging around with a Mudblood isn’t doing you any favors.”

It suddenly struck Adhara how easily the word ‘Mudblood’ had rolled out of Athena’s tongue, and her mind flew to the way James had reacted to Lily being called the same by Mulciber.

“She has a name,” said Adhara stiffly.

“What?” Athena frowned slightly.

“The Muggle-born,” she stressed, “has a name. It’s Lily Evans. And I’m not going to stop being friends with her because of something Rigel may or may not do to me in the future.”

Athena exhaled derisively. “This is all so much bigger than you.”

“Are you threatening me?” she demanded.

“Oh dear Salazaar, no!” she gave a short laugh. “I’m on your side,” she said, her voice suddenly softer.

“Meaning what, exactly?” she folded her arms, regarding Athena skeptically.

She sighed. “I don’t really care what’s going on outside the walls of this castle. As far as you’re concerned, you’re a pure-blood, you don’t need to go down with the lowlife Muggle-borns. I’m just trying to give you a piece of advice to save yourself.”

“By abandoning my friends?”

“By looking out for yourself before anything else.”

“That’s selfish!”

“That’s practical,” Athena’s voice remained level but seemed tethering on an edge, a sharp contrast to Adhara’s rising tone of voice. “Your mother would advise you to do the same,” she said, raising her eyebrows slightly.

“I’m not scared of Rigel,” she replied stubbornly.

Athena made a sound of frustration. “Fine,” she resigned. “Don’t say I didn’t warn you. But I know that when the time comes it’s every witch for herself, and you’ll be the same.” With that she walked past Adhara.

“You’re wrong,” Adhara called out when she was just a few paces ahead. Athena stopped and turned around. A small smile tugged at Adhara’s lips. “Unos pro omnibus, omnus pro uno.”

“What?”

“It isn’t each one for themselves. It’s one for all, and all for one.”

Athena looked like she just caught herself from rolling her eyes, contented herself with a small shake of her head and continued on her way. Adhara realized she was running quite late, and wouldn’t even have time for breakfast. A couple of steps, and her path was blocked by someone coming out of the Potions dungeon.

They stared at each other, almost as if waiting for the other to speak first.

One look at Lily’s face and Adhara knew she had heard everything.

“What-” started Adhara crossly, but was cut off by Lily throwing her arms around her. Grinning widely, Adhara circled one arm loosely around Lily’s back.

“Thank you for saying what you did,” Lily said as she broke free, her face pink.

Adhara felt mildly embarrassed. “Yeah. It wasn’t a big-”

 “Yes it was,” insisted Lily. “You called me your friend, defended my birth and refused to let up…” Lily’s voice seemed to be shaking slightly. “... and all this while I was so mad at you for not sticking up for me when Marlene was being so horrible. But none of that matters now… honestly...”

Adhara tried to suppress a smile that threatened to break out. She realized that she had actually missed Lily and her incessant chatter, and never ending questions.

“Lily,” she interrupted Lily, who had for some reason jumped to the topic of Professor Slughorn in the few seconds Adhara had zoned out. “You’re grateful, I get it.”

Lily paused for a moment, making Adhara wonder if that had come out all wrong. Then, Lily beamed. “I’ve missed you,” she confessed unabashedly.

“You’ve been an idiot,” Adhara replied dryly, letting the smile break free.

“You’ve been a git,” she shot back.

As they walked to breakfast, Adhara was feeling much brighter despite the nagging feeling of dread that Rigel had instilled in her.

 




 “We have honestly got to find better ways of communicating with each other than charmed memos,” announced Sirius as he, Remus and Peter crowded around James’ hospital bed.

  "This is what they do at the Ministry,” retorted Remus, who had come up with the idea in the first place.

Sirius snorted. “Well if the Ministry does it…”

“Can we get back on topic?” cut in James irately. Sirius and Remus turned to James. “How do we get me to play the match tomorrow?”

Peter groaned. “Haven’t we already been over this? At this rate Pomfrey won’t even allow you to watch the match!”

“Peter’s right James. I doubt McGonagall will give you permission after the stunt you pulled yesterday,” agreed Remus.

“Who cares about permission?” scoffed James. “There has to be some way to do this.”

“Why this suddenly now?” asked Sirius. “You had let it go, hadn’t you? I mean, sure, you were bawling your eyes out-”

“I did not bawl,” interjected James hotly.

Sirius’ smirk grew wider. “Yeah, Okay. But after Poppy’s Calming Draught you seemed fine with it.”

James glared at Sirius, and then sighed. It wouldn’t do to let Sirius side track him with untruths (he hadn’t bawled!). “We haven’t tried everything.”

“Short of getting Dumbledore to overrule Poppy-”

“We are not going to the staff!” James cut off Peter impatiently. “I’m thinking something a lot more foolproof.”

“Like?”

“Polyjuice Potion.” James dragged out the syllables, enjoying watching their reactions to it. Predictably enough, Sirius broke into a wide smile, throwing his head back in a short laugh, Peter looked stunned and Remus, a little unsure.

“But we can’t make-”

“That’s the simplicity of the whole thing,” James rushed excitedly. “We don’t have to make it. I know the sixth years have made the potion and submitted it to Slughorn for grading last week. All we have to do is nick some of it. Nobody has to know, and I still get to play the game.”

“Sounds brilliant,” shrugged Sirius, mirroring James’ enthusiasm.

James turned to Remus who seemed to be contemplating it. “It could work…” he said slowly.

“Of course, it will!” said Sirius.

“How did you come up with this?” The lilt of admiration in Peter’s voice heartened him further.

“Well, after Evans left I began to-”

Evans?” Sirius said sharply.

“Er- yeah...” James looked at him quizzically. “She came last night. And after she left-”

“Hang on,” Remus interrupted. “Lily Evans came to see you?”

Why were they focusing on that instead of listening to how he came up with the idea all by himself? “Yeah. She snuck in last night,” he replied impatiently. .

Sirius, Remus and Peter exchanged significant looks and started snickering.

“What?” What was he missing?

“So,” Sirius’ smirk got wider. “What exactly did Evans tell you?”

“Nothing. Just that she was sorry, and asked how I was doing.”

The three of them started snickering even more.

“Looks like you were right,” Remus commented to Sirius.

“Devil’s shit!” Sirius shook his head incredulously, apparently still amused by something.

“What is it?” asked James insistently. It was beginning to annoy him.

Remus glanced at the laughing Sirius and Peter once more. “Well, sorry to break it to you, mate. But looks like Evans fancies you.”

“What?” James yelped. “You’re joking!”

“We’re not,” said Peter, shaking his head seriously. “Last night she asked me if you fancied her.”

Sirius broke into fresh peals of laughter that made James’ face turn hot. “She did not,” he muttered, refusing to believe them. This must be Sirius’ idea of a joke, that git.

“She did!” insisted Peter. “And she seemed quite sad to hear you were here.”

“Heartbroken, I hear,” replied Sirius grinning widely at his discomfort.

“Wait a minute,” cut in Remus, a look of realization dawning on his face. “That must be when she decided to sneak out to see you.”

James felt his face grow hot. Lily Evans? Fancying him? That had to be the most bizarre thing he had ever heard. Yet there was something absurdly pleasing about the prospect, despite the protests falling from his lips.

“Stop- Stop laughing Sirius!” he chided them, heat radiating from his flaming face to the rest of his skin. “It’s ridiculous!”

“That’s what we thought too,” nodded Remus knowingly. “But the evidence is too damning, James.”

“James and Lily in a broom closet,” Sirius’ voice sang out laden with amusement. James aimed a kick at him, which he deftly dodged, continuing to snicker. James felt a small smile tug at his lips much to his horror.

“Don’t you all have class to go to?” he hastened to ask, trying to get his smile to disappear by changing the subject. The mirth in Remus’ eyes was worse than Sirius’ open teasing.

“Sure,” Remus nodded. “Let’s leave, mate.” He turned around, nudging Peter and Sirius along. Just as they were near the door, “he probably wants us out before his girlfriend comes to visit him!”

James well aimed flower vase fell on the door seconds after Remus had closed it behind him.

 




A/N: Hello folks! I'm so grateful to those of you who have stuck with me till here. The chapters are coming up, and I'm happy to say I've gotten the next few already written. I'd love to know what you think about this one! There's a lot that has happened - what do you think about the Lily and James development? Rigel is a jerk isn't he? How do you think Adhara is going to handle this? 


Chapter 22: Year 3 ~ Exams and Other Things
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 The Quidditch excitement rose and waxed. Gryffindor’s knock out at the semi finals saw a subdued house, and a surly James unable to deal with failure of any kind. It was noticed that his friends, especially of the Sirius Black variety, had taken to creating more disturbances than usual during class, a series of stunts that came to a skidding stop after a severe meeting with McGonagall.

However, time for James and the Gryffindors to sulk was cut short by the distraction of the forthcoming exams. With the number of subjects having increased for the Gryffindor third years, they had to study a little harder than usual. It wasn’t odd for Loius Branstone to be seen with his nose buried in a book, but quite a few eyebrows were raised when Clarence Sloan appeared at the common room with his hand full of text books. Jake Wyatt was often seen nodding with his book in hand, often nudged awake by Sloan. Remus’ quill was heard scratching away into the night, with Peter sticking to his side like Glumberg’s All-Stick Magic Glue (Caution: Don’t try on broken bones!).
Mary grew more anxious as the days passed, a striking contrast to the ever calm Dorcas who appeared to have everything in order to nobody’s surprise, and guarded her notes with her life. Marlene resorted to badgering the seniors about the questions most likely to appear in the finals, and then fervently looking up the answers in everyone else’s notes. Lily decided that the best way to beat the stress was to draw up a study plan (complete with colour coding charms, and voice reminders). This took a whole day which eventually ended in her panicking and hyperventilating (much to Adhara’s amusement) that she had wasted a day without studying. Adhara’s careless procrastination lasted till two weeks before the exam, after which she was seen in the late hours of the night crouched beside the fireplace, book in hand and muttering under her breath.

In the midst of all this, James Potter and Sirius Black took it upon themselves to provide everyone with distractions any way they could. Walking around without a care in the world, the duo behaved as if the exams didn’t exist at all. Save for Remus and Peter, none of the other Gryffindors had seen them with a book, and reproachful comments of their impending crash due to overconfidence ran high. Some even wondered if they had forgotten about the exams; mutterings and raised eyebrows followed when they answered all the questions thrown at them during revision. With the common room being occupied by someone or the other round the clock, everybody swore to their absence there. Until one day a cheeky first year ran into James and Sirius tucked away at a corner of the library and prided himself at having made a great discovery.

Said first year was later found sporting an ugly wart the size of a galleon on his forehead.





Lily grinned and picked up the textbook. She was at another study session with Priya and some others. Though she made up with the Gryffindors, she continued to remain friendly with the Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff girls who had been kind to her during the rough three weeks. 

“Wait, let me finish W through Z and join you,” interrupted Porcella MacFarlan, the Hufflepuff seeker. Sarah Abbott nodded as well, and Leigha snorted impatiently. Lily shrugged, going back to her list, but not really reading anything. She was the only Gryffindor there, among two Hufflepuffs and three Ravenclaws. At first Lily thought Leigha had invited her friends, but realized that the only ones present were toppers (save for Dorcas who Leigha had bluntly declared was high handed and selfish). Lily tried to stick up for her friend, but Leigha had already started discussing the study plan. She knew that the Slytherins had a study group of their own. Severus had mentioned it once or twice. 

Lily’s eyes started to wander around the library, her book forgotten on her lap. Next to her, Orelia Hoskin, another Ravenclaw, was muttering softly. Lily tipped her chair, rocking it slightly as she deeply inhaled the intoxicating scent of old parchment. Her eyes caught sight of a familiar face looking in her direction. Leroy Sinclair grinned when she caught his eye and she waved brightly. He raised his chin in inquiry and she pointed to her book, screwing up her face. He looked sympathetic before signaling to his own book. 

‘Good luck,’ she mouthed, and turned away.

“I didn’t think you knew Sinclair,” said Leigha, sounding impressed. 

“We’ve met,” Lily shrugged. 

Leigha glanced at Leroy and then back at her. “A lot of blokes have been noticing you ever since you pulled that stint at the match.”

Lily’s eyebrows rose in surprise. “What? But why?”

Porcella looked up from her book, almost critically at Lily. “Well, you managed to convince McGonagall, and you dug up some random fact about Quidditch, and the last minute save just added to the wow factor.”

“And, right now,” Priya leaned in with a giggle, “Sinclair just can’t seem to stop staring.”

Orelia and Porcella turned instinctively to look at Leroy, and then burst out giggling. Sarah shushed them. “He saw that,” she whispered, her eyes round.

“He was definitely staring at you, Lily,” Porcella said excitedly. Lily felt her face grow red, finding herself being oddly pleased at the thought. She hadn’t thought blokes would be interested in her the way they were interested in Marlene, or Aurora Fulton. But it was nice to be noticed. Still, she couldn’t let on. Not to them.

“He was probably looking because you lot were loud,” she replied dryly, hoping she sounded nonchalant. She then bent down to retrieve her bag unnecessarily from under the table with the intent of giving her face some time to cool down. Much to her dismay they were still on the subject when she resurfaced.

“… he’s turned down Fulton last week,” Sarah was saying. The others lifted their eyebrows appreciatively in Leroy’s direction. Lily allowed herself a glance and found that he looked quite uncomfortable. 

“Hear that, Lily?” Priya addressed her. “He’s definitely interested in you.” She nodded brightly. 

“You can’t say that,” dismissed Lily, trying to stop her mouth from turning into a smile. “Besides, I thought we were here to study Ancient Runes, not the one hundred and one facial expressions of Leroy Sinclair,” she added with raised eyebrows.

“Oh well,” shrugged Priya, turning back to her book. “A little distraction never hurt anyone. Especially in the form of really fit Quidditch Beaters.”

Lily shot Leroy a surreptitious look in the pretext of shifting in her seat. Maybe it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world to be noticed by the likes of Leroy Sinclair. 

Leigha nudged Orelia, giving Lily a knowing look. “You know, this is just like A Sickle Romance.”

Lily was confused. “A what?” 

“It’s a book by Philippa Tulip. You haven’t heard of her?” Orelia gaped at her incredulously as she shook her head. “She writes the best teen witch novels. A Sickle Romance, Kisses on the Broom, Potion for Penny… I thought you said you like reading books?”

“Yes, the likes of Enid Blyton, Jane Austen, L. M. Montgomery…” Lily trailed off at the blank look on their faces. Smiling she added, “I didn’t realize there was wizarding fiction.”

Priya shook her head in mock-horror. “Next time you’re at Diagon Alley, you have got to visit Botham & Higgs.”

“Don’t forget, Philippa Tulip books,” stressed Orelia, before reopening her Ancient Runes textbook. 





 

“How was annoyingly boring geekshire?” Adhara remarked as she drew near.

“You know, the ‘Ravenclaw Nerd’ stereotype is trifle offensive,” Lily retorted as she drew near. “And it wasn’t entirely boring. I got an earful about Philippa Tulip’s books.”

“Ooh!” Marlene sat up excitedly, upsetting her bottle of ink all over the book she had been bending over. “Oh no!” 

“Here,” Remus leaned forward, pointing his wand and siphoning away the mess. 

“Thank you.” Marlene sounded relieved and flashed him a dimpled smile. Remus looked a little uncomfortable as he nodded back. 

Lily dropped her bag with a heavy thud, simultaneously dropping to the warm grass. She leaned on her hands, stretching her legs in front of her, feeling quite content.

“Bugger!” Remus swore, shaking his quill. “Have a spare quill?” he addressed his mates. There was no reply. He threw a book at Sirius, who appeared to be sleeping with his bag drawn across his eyes.

“Bloody fuck, mate!” 

“I need a quill,” he asked, quite pleasantly.

Sirius glared at him. “James is awake!” 

“James is probably using somebody’s lost quill.”

Lily tilted her head towards James who was grinning unapologetically.  “You know,” he started, examining his quill, “I think I borrowed this from Jake last week.”

“That’s mine!” Peter replied indignantly. “You took it from me yesterday,” he frowned. Lily had smothered a giggle at James’ look of sheepish realization. His eyes flicked to her at the sound, meeting hers for a fraction of a second. 

“I still need a quill,” interjected Remus, nudging Sirius with his foot, who had resumed his earlier position.

James sat up a little straighter and ran his hand through his hair. “Wait,” he said, looking around. “Hey,” he called out to a couple of boys walking near them. They halted unsurely and blinked. “Have a quill?”

They looked at him mutely. 

James clicked his tongue impatiently. “You-” he gestured to the one on the right, “yes, you. Come here.” 

The boys exchanged a look, and the thin, small lad took a few steps towards them. 

“Which year?” demanded James, not unkindly. Remus looked at James sharply and glanced at the boy.

“Second,” the boy replied quietly. 

“Not an ickle firstie. Ravenclaw, yeah? You lot keep backup quills for your backup, don’t you?”

“James…” Remus’ protest went unheard. 

“Well,” demanded James. The boy fumbled with his clasp. James clicked his tongue all the while he was searching his bag, stopping only when Lily glared at him.

“You don’t have to,” Remus addressed the boy kindly. 

“Wait, I think I have a quill,” Lily suddenly remembered, reaching for her bag.

“Don’t be silly, he’ll have one,” James dismissed. The boy produced a quill, gingerly moving towards James.

Lily pulled out a bent, crumpled quill from her bag. “Here!” 

“But this is old,” James eyed Lily’s quill.

“Well, at least it’s not bullied off a junior,” Lily countered, anger raising. “Go on ahead,” she added to the boy. 

“Hand over the quill,” James demanded, glaring at her. 

“Don’t,” she countered, raising her chin. “We got this, thanks.”

“Nobody asked you for a quill!” 

“Nobody asked you, either!”

The boy stood there, looking nervously between Lily and James, and finally decided to scurry away with his friend. She raised her eyebrows triumphantly at a pink-faced James, handing over her quill to Remus.

“Thanks,” Remus muttered, bending his head towards his parchment.

For a moment Lily thought James was going to say something to her, but he just threw his book on the grass, and proceeded to noisily search for something in his bag. Despite the annoyance Lily was feeling, she couldn’t help smiling a little at the sight of him sulking. He looked… cute. Her eyes grew wide as she registered her own thoughts. What on Earth possessed her to think that James Potter, of all the people, was cute

Horrified by her own thoughts, she busied herself with distracting Marlene from studying. She saw Sirius, out of the corner of her eye, giving a low whistle, and nudging James. Curiosity overpowered her resolve, and she looked up to see Sirius nodding towards a girl walking past. Remus leaned in and whispered something, and the four boys began to snicker. 

The girl in question glanced at the boys as she walked on. 

“Very discreet,” retorted Adhara.

“That’s Athena Greengrass, isn’t she?” asked Marlene interestedly. 

“Yeah,” Peter replied, nudging James once again, an act that didn’t go unnoticed by Marlene who wanted to know if James fancied her. Sirius snorted knowingly. Lily found herself extremely interested in the answer.

Peter started snickering, and said, “We all know that’s not James’ type.”

Lily looked scornfully as Sirius and Remus joined in the laughs. “Well I can’t imagine James has a type,” Adhara said.

“Why not?” Remus’s eyes twinkled with amusement.

“All it takes to catch James’ attention is boobs,” remarked Adhara dryly. 

Lily laughed, half at Peter’s widening eyes and abashed expression, and half at Adhara’s utter brazenness for saying the word ‘boobs’ out loud.

James looked at Lily. “Amused?” An eyebrow cocked.

Lily grinned. “Very much.”

James raised his chin at her, a cocky grin in place. “Oh, Evans. I’m sure you are.”

Remus cleared his throat while Peter resumed his shrill giggles. Lily suddenly remembered her run-in with Peter and wondered if this had something to do with that. Oh, Merlin! What if they thought she fancied him?





 

Lily tore her gaze away from the stone wall it had been fixated on for the past few minutes. “What?”

He exhaled impatiently. “You  haven’t read a word since you got here, and I can sort of tell.” The corners of his mouth lifted in slight amusement as he glanced pointedly towards her legs.

Lily stilled the foot tapping against the floor unconsciously. “Sorry.” She muttered, lowering her eyes to her lap. 

“Well?” Severus was looking at her expectantly. “You can tell me what it is.”

“Nothing,” she lied. “Just this lesson’s dull as dishwasher.” 

“Okay.” 

He didn’t sound too convinced but Lily was glad he didn’t press on. She didn’t quite fancy telling him what was on her mind. It was odd, not telling Sev. She opened her mouth but didn’t quite know how to word it. What would she say? That stupid Mary had filled her head with thoughts of James fancying her? That she had gone and blurted out stupid questions to Peter? That now the Marauders seemed to think she fancied James?

She cringed at the thought. Why did Mary have to go saying things like that for? She groaned.

“Okay, seriously?” Sev shut his book with a thud, clicking his tongue. “Why won’t you tell me what’s wrong?”

“Nothi-”

“I can tell when you’re uneasy you know.” He frowned at her. “Besides,” his tone grew softer, “friends are supposed to trust each other.” Lily found herself relenting under his intent gaze.

“Well…” she started hesitantly. “It’s stupid, really… I did… well, I did something really stupid.”

“What is it?” 

Her face heated up. “Well… Mary said something to me… and then, I said something - Er - dumb, to Peter.”

“Peter?” Lily couldn’t blame the lilt of surprise in his voice.

“Yeah. Stupid, I know,” she moaned. “But it was that time when Marlene wasn’t talking, and Adhara wasn’t… well… I - I think he told his mates about it.” She dropped her face to her hands.

“What did you say that’s so bad?” 

She didn’t really want to say it, because she was sure it would sound a lot worse if said out loud. She just groaned into her hands about how it was all stupid Mary’s and Marlene’s fault.

“Well,” Sev replied with a curl of his lips, “teaches you to listen to the likes of Macdonald.”

She looked up. “Why not?”

“Well, she isn’t exactly… bright.”

“Grades aren’t everything,” Lily’s voice raised in defense.

“I’m not talking about grades,” Severus replied. “She hardly has anything to say, and she’s almost always the last one to have an opinion. And she let you take the fall for the whole McKinnon business, but she has no problem agreeing with you when McKinnon is not around.”

Silence followed his words while Lily processed. Severus had a point, at least about the Marlene issue. Her skin rankled with irritation. 

“You know, she does that quite a bit,” Lily frowned in retrospect. “Do you really think she’s that sort though?”

“I just said that,” Sev sounded irritated. “I wouldn’t base a lot off her words.”

Lily nodded, pondering over Sev’s words. She was impressed by how spot-on his appraisal of Mary was. And he hadn’t even talked to Mary much. This was why he was so good for her, he saw things she didn’t. And he always looked out for her.

 “What was it that Mary told you?” his light conversational tone cutting into her thoughts.

She glanced at him sideways, he was searching for a page in his book. Her lips parted, still undecided about her answer. 

“Oh,” she dismissed airily, “something really silly.”

“Well?” he pressed, the impatience in his voice evident. When she chewed her lip in confusion, he glanced at her sharply. “I thought we didn’t keep secrets from each other,” his tone escalating her guilt.

“It isn’t a secret,” she hurried to add, before Sev began to sulk in misinterpretation. “It’s just really dumb, and - and… I didn’t think you’d be interested,” she rushed. 

“Well, I am.” He frowned, his eyes growing a tad rounder.

“It’s really embarrassing,” she moaned. “I think… I think… Potter and his stupid friends think that - that I… like him.” She slammed her open book on her face, groaning into it. She cringed at the thought, throwing her head back against the stone wall. “Go on. Laugh,” she glared at Severus, removing the book from her face. 

She couldn’t tell what he was thinking. He just blinked wordlessly, his lips a thin line. 

“It can’t get worse, can it,” she wailed, his silence only increasing her panic that this was indeed a tragedy that had befallen her social status. 

“Do you?” Severus’ voice sounded strangely hoarse.

“Do I what?”

He cleared his throat, the serious look on his face alarming her slightly. “Do you like him?”

She stared at him. 

His face blanched. “Do you?” His voice grew slightly shrill.

“No!” she protested indignantly. “Of course I don’t! How could you even ask me such a thing? It’s bad enough he probably thinks I fancy him!” She continued to vehemently deny any possibility of it happening in the present or distant future. 

Severus looked convinced and went back to his worn out copy of 3003 Magical Herbs and Fungi. Lily heaved a sigh before picking up her quill. She held the quill for a moment - her mind flying back to that afternoon - thinking how arrogant James Potter was. And then, a thought crept in like an uninvited visitor - the time when his eyes had met hers briefly, for a fraction of a second, crinkled at the corners with amusement. There was no chance in the entire universe that she would even consider fancying James. 

Despite how nicely his eyes twinkled when he laughed. 





 

Severus held his wand closer to the book, and ran his index finger across the words to make sure he had got it right. He couldn’t afford any mistakes at this point in the potion. He really wanted this, he wanted that special prize, wanted to sweep it from under everyone’s feet. When Lucius set them this task, he knew it was an opportunity to prove himself. It hadn’t been easy, tricking Nott into borrowing this book from the library, and sneaking it out of his dorm. If it all went horribly wrong, he wanted to be sure his name wouldn’t be associated with it. Stupid Travers, he thought, smirking at the memory. Travers had thought he was smart, buttering up Slughorn in attempts to get him to part with his book. For weeks Slughorn had taken all the gifts Travers offered and artfully avoided the topic when it came up. Severus knew he was well ahead of the others. With just a week left for the last Hogsmeade visit of the term, he couldn’t make a mistake now. Time for errors was long gone.

The ticking of the stopwatch echoed in dungeon and Severus didn’t dare to breathe as he counted down the last ten seconds. He had a five second window to add the cut roots. Severus felt unusually warm, sweat breaking out in his forehead as his steady hands dropped the carefully cut pieces into the cauldron. This was it. He waited with bated breath… and the potion turned pale yellow and within seconds bled into bright red. He heaved a sigh of relief, letting his wand slip through his hands, and slumping against the cold wall. The hands that had been steady moments earlier were almost trembling with mixed excitement and anxiety. He couldn’t believe he had done it. He had brewed The Phantosia Potion

He scooped the simmering potion into vials, and slipped them carefully into a pouch. He was grinning widely, imagining the coming week when Lucius would pat him on the back, and would give him that special prize. Though nobody ever used that dungeon, Severus was careful enough to remove all traces of human presence, and had brought with him dried cat feces to scatter around to explain any inconsistencies. He slipped into the warm, bright corridor, keeping his head down and striding noiselessly, hoping to merge with the crowd of students getting to class that morning. He liked working at early hours of the day so as to not arouse suspicion among his dorm mates, and conveniently join breakfast. He weaved through the crowd when suddenly someone stepped out of a room blocking his path. He tried to side step them, but ended up shoving shoulders. 

“Wha-” 

Severus looked up at the truncated exclamation. He automatically took a few steps back. James Potter’s irate frown smoothened into raised eyebrows with hints of an obnoxious smirk twitching at the ends of his mouth. Severus should have known that his happiness was too good to last. A few more turns and he would have reached the Great Hall. His eyes darted to the room Potter, Black and Pettigrew had just emerged from and realized it was the Hospital Wing. What were they doing there? A quick scan told them that they all looked fine. Could it be Lupin? But Lupin had gone home? Severus’ mind was working at ten questions a second, and he only half heard Potter’s snide comment.

“- taught you any manners?”

He felt annoyance turn into anger at the look on Potter’s face. “Funny,” he scoffed, unable to help himself, “that you should be talking about manners.” His feet shook with mixed anger and excitement as he tried to piece things together. He didn’t even hear Potter’s response, and only half registered Black and Pettigrew’s laughter in response. He cut in, “if I go in there, will I find Lupin occupying one of those beds?” He watched closely as Pettigrew’s smile faded into apprehension, Black’s eyes lost their mirth but Potter’s face didn’t flinch in response. Their sudden silence told him he had struck a nerve. He rushed his next words to capitalize on that - “I know you lot are up to something, and I’m going to find it out,” he said in a low, excited voice. He half debated saying he had guessed about Lupin, but decided it was a move he wanted to reserve for later. He wanted sufficient proof.

“Are you now,” Potter drawled, raising his brows mockingly. It wasn’t Potter that Severus was looking at, but Pettigrew, whose eyes seemed to betray fear, mouth slightly open. That was the confirmation he was angling for. His eyes darted to Potter’s hands moving under his robe. Severus tried to reach for his wand but Potter was quicker. His wand was out before Severus had even gripped his, and Potter was about to raise it when -

“Sev! There you are!” 

Lily’s breathless voice sounded from behind as she hurried closer. She seemed to notice Potter only when she was standing next to him, and her eyes grew alert, looking between him and Potter. Potter’s wandarm swished back beneath his cloak so quickly that he doubted Lily even noticed. 

“Evans,” Potter jerked his chin in welcome, giving a half smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes. 

“Potter.” her voice wavered on the last syllable. 

Potter’s eyes flicked between them and he said, “see you at breakfast,” and walked past. Black looked baffled for a fraction before stepping along, leading Severus to wonder why Potter had refrained himself. 

“Were you fighting again?” Lily asked, her eyes narrowing at him. 

He was suddenly annoyed. “Why do you say that as if I am to blame?” he demanded. 

Lily clicked her tongue irately. “Don’t be silly. I just meant-”

“Save it,” he snarled, walking away without a look back. He was glad for once, that she didn’t follow him. His earlier elation was long gone and unexplained irritation replaced it. He couldn’t help thinking back to Potter’s unnatural lack of response. His mind flew to an earlier conversation with Lily. Suddenly, something cold seemed to grip his heart. His head was spinning as he struggled not to reach that darned conclusion. It couldn’t be true. He couldn’t let it.





A/n: Looking forward to hearing what you all think XOXO

 


Chapter 23: Year 3 ~ Winding up third year
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 “That isn’t Reddington’s Law of Energy Transformation!”

“Uh, yes, it is!”

 

“Uh, no, it’s not!”

 

“There’s no way I’m mistaken!”

 

“Of course you are! This is Fulcan’s Law!”

 

“Evans, please. Don’t embarrass yourself further.”

 

“Potter, please. Be prepared to stuff it.”

 

Dorcas looked between Lily and James, rolling her eyes at Mary. This was exactly why she preferred studying by herself. The one time Mary had dragged her to a group discussion, two questions in, and an argument had ensued.

 

“Moony,” James appealed to his friend, his tone laced with mock-politeness. “Please tell pumpkin-head she’s wrong.”

 

“Dory,” Lily turned to her in the same tone. “Why don’t you tell pot-head he’s wrong?”

 

Remus’ eyes glinted with amusement as he exchanged a glance with Dorcas. Sirius had fallen asleep on the table, and Peter was peering over Remus’ shoulder as he flipped through his Transfiguration book. James was tipping his chair on it’s hind legs, dipping dangerously low and shooting an all-knowing grin at Lily. She seemed least impressed, her eyebrows raised in an alarmingly similar fashion, arms crossed. Dorcas rolled her eyes at Remus as James started whistling (and quite badly at that) the tune to ‘Brooming Free’ by Seven Strings Sync. Remus shrugged apologetically, joining in as he continued his search, and Lily started tapping her foot impatiently.

 

“Ah yes,” Remus exclaimed. Lily’s foot stilled and the whistle slowed on James’ lip, but he continued rocking his chair. 

 

“Well?” Lil demanded impatiently. Remus looked like he was struggling to keep his face straight.

 

“Er…” he started slowly, glancing between James and Lily. “It appears… James is right. Sorry, Lily.”

“AHA!” James startled the sleeping Sirius with his cry of triumph, lifting his hands up, and almost knocking the book off Remus’ hands. Dorcas was compelled to giggle at the ridiculous jig he was taunting Lily with. Lily’s face grew red, but Dorcas could see she was biting back a smile. 

“Lily the Silly,” he roared laughing. Peter was snickering but Remus just rolled his eyes.

 

“There once was a bird called Lily

She made many mistakes so-silly
Hung her head in such shame
That she had to change her name!” 

“That is the worst sonnet ever!” Lily interjected. “Been taking lessons from Peeves. Have you?”
“Been taking Transfiguration lessons from Fat Friar, have you?”

James continued to rock back on his chair, and much to Dorcas’ surprise, Lily reached out and kicked the leg with her foot.

James came crashing down, grabbing at the back of Mary’s chair as he did so, pulling the poor girl with him.

 

“WHAT IN MORGANA’S NAME WAS THAT!”

 

“Oh bugger,” Dorcas muttered, glaring at Lily as Madam Pince’s shriek was closely followed by her hurrying footfalls. 

 

“Befouling the sanctity of the…”


James was fervently apologizing while Peter was shuffling his feet, trying to hide the fact that Sirius had just woken up from deep sleep. Woe betide if Pince found out he had been drooling all over her beloved books!

Soon they found themselves being kicked out of the library.

“Nicely played, Evans.”

Dorcas turned to see James wink at Evans before jogging to catch up with Remus, Sirius and Peter. There was something odd about Lily’s expression.

“Oh fuck’s sake!” she groaned, the realization dawning on her. “You like Potter!”

“What?” Even in the dim lighting of the corridor, Dorcas could see Lily turning red. “N-no…”

Dorcas shook her head grinning, “does Marlene know?” Lily’s eyes widened slightly. 

“Don’t be silly!” her voice sounded a bit shrill, “there’s nothing to know.”

“Ahan.” Dorcas continued looking at her sideways as they walked on, slightly enjoying watching Lily squirm and figit. 

“Merlin!” she exclaimed, her flaming face turning to look at Dorcas. “What do you want now?”

 

Dorcas’ face broke into a smirk. “So… you and Potter?”

 

Shut up!” Lily hissed, throwing an alarming glance towards the boys ahead of them. 

 

“I can’t think of two people less suited for each other!” she chuckled. 

 

“More than you and Pettigrew?” she shot back.

 

“Oh please,” Dorcas replied unfazed, “don’t even try to change the subject. This is huge!”


 “No, it’s not!” Lily stressed. “It’s not like… like - you know!”

  “I really don’t.” 

  Lily glared at her but Dorcas just shrugged smugly.  “Marlene doesn’t have to know. It’s not even… it’s not like I’m…”

  "Yes?” she prompted.

  “Urgh! Why did you of all the people have to figure this out!”

  “Better me than Marlene!”

  “You know, I liked you much better when we didn’t talk so much,” she said grudgingly.

  Dorcas grinned. They walked in silence for a few paces. “Well… so?”

  “So?” replied Lily. 

  “What are you going to do?”

“I’m going to have dinner and a good night’s sleep.”

 

Dorcas rolled her eyes, “I meant, what about Potter?” 

 

“I don’t know, you’d have to ask him.”

 

Dorcas raised her eyebrows, “so we are pretending this never happened?”

 

“What never happened?”

 

Dorcas snickered. 




 

 

“Did any of you look into the Magical Creature Breeding Act of 1782?” Remus started conversationally. Peter, James and Sirius groaned in unison, all replying at the same time.

“Who cares?” 

“Don’t start!”

“Mate!”

“Fine,” Remus resigned, and they went back to laying in silence. 

“Hey, Sirius! What’s your budget for Hogsmeade this weekend? I hear ol’ Zonko’s has a new line of trick Quaffles. We could-”

“I don’t know,” Sirius cut in irately. 

“Oh,” James sounded bemused, “er, that’s alright mate, I’ve got enough for one Trick Quaffle. We could switch them before the Slytherin practice session this week.” Sirius didn’t respond. James lifted his head to glance at Sirius who was on the other side of Remus. “Er, Moony, I’m not talking to myself again, am I?” 

James’ mock-serious tone elicited a small burst of laughter from Peter, but Remus just shrugged.

 

But as the exams began, Peter was less concerned about Sirius’ mood and more with passing third year. He picked Remus’ brain all the time, but envied James who never seemed to study. Peter took advantage of Sirius’ absence to get closer to James by asking help with studies. Though he did end up spending more time with James, he didn’t really learn much. James wasn’t as patient as Remus, and went at a faster pace. Often, he he had to double back to Remus.



The advent of the exams also meant that the end of the term was round the corner. The breakfast table was abuzz with last minute revisions, and vacation plans being exchanged. 



“Name the eleven uses of the Pockish Geranium leaves,” quizzed Remus.



Peter was thankful for his mouth full of bread. He racked his brain for the answer while chewing. Hadn’t he looked at this the night before? He knew it…



“Oh put that away, Moony!” James interjected, reaching across for some syrup. Peter grabbed the book from Remus and ran his finger down the list, muttering them aloud. 



“Hey!” Peter looked up at Marlene’s arrival.  “I know I’m so late with this. My mum sent them over months ago and I completely forgot.” She sounded slightly out of breath. “You all are invited. You have to come,” she stressed. 



Peter, Remus and James stared blankly at her. Sirius didn’t look up from his bowl of scrambled eggs.



“Oh!” she realized, and pulled out three letters from her bag. “My parents’ twenty-fifth wedding anniversary is this Summer. Mum told me to invite my friends ages ago but I completely forgot.” She handed out an invite each to Peter and Remus, and nudged Sirius. Sirius looked up with an almost bored expression and Marlene’s smile faded slightly. “You too, grumpy,” she rolled her eyes, holding out the invite, and placing it on top of his books when he didn’t take it. “You lot have to come. Otherwise mum is going to blame me for being careless again. You’ll come, won’t you?” she looked at them anxiously. 



“Sure,” Remus nodded.



“Er, aren’t you missing out someone?” Peter jerked his head towards James. 



“Oh no, the Potters got their invite in the mail. Our dads know each other from before.”



“Mum’s already planned. I’m there,” James nodded, pointing his fork at Marlene. Marlene thanked him and said something about finding Dorcas and hurried away. “The Dearborns are going too. With Doc there, it’ll be a blast. What say, Sirius?”



“Yeah, whatever.” 



James looked confused, as if it was the first time he was noticing Sirius’ mood. He made to say something but Sirius got up abruptly and walked away. Peter noticed he threw a nasty look in the direction of the Slytherin table as he did. 



“What’s with him?” 



“You’re noticing only now?” Remus raised his eyebrows. 



“Well, no,” James started indignantly, “I just thought he was… stressed about exams,” he finished lamely. 



“Are you sure your head wasn’t hit by a Bludger?” Remus replied. 



Suddenly something struck Peter.



“Say, do you think he’s upset because the holidays are coming up?” he suggested.



“Why would he be? Three months of freedom, mate!” James looked incredulous.



“Actually, Peter may be on to something. I never really got the feeling Sirius enjoyed going home,” said Remus thoughtfully. 



“Yeah… but he doesn’t really talk about it,” said James. 



“But this would explain why he’s been sulking all week,” said Peter. Remus nodded in agreement. 



Peter looked on as James stared thoughtfully at Sirius’ recently vacated seat and half full breakfast plate. 



As they headed to class, Peter had to almost jog to keep up with James’ fast strides. He was trying to make conversation but James gave monosyllabic replies all the way to class. He was almost sorry he had pointed out Sirius’ mood. Sirius was nowhere to be found and Peter gladly took the seat beside James. The Professor began discussing important Runes translations for the finals. James kept glancing at the door, but Sirius did not turn up. In fact, the next time they saw Sirius was when they went back to their dorm after classes. 



Remus left to return a book to the library and he made his way with James back to the dorm. Sirius was lying on his back, his legs hanging off the edge. 



“Sirius, mate! Peter and I were just planning to send out a search party,” James joked heartily. He pulled back the blinds, forcing Sirius to look at him. “You’ve been such a dull lately. I don’t know if I want you around over the Summer now,” James said, his voice still light. 


“What?” Sirius frowned, but looked mildly interested. 



“Dad wrote that the house has been quiet since Doc stopped coming around, and I was going to ask you. But doesn’t look like you’re going to be much fun either.” James let the blinds fall back down and started undressing by his bunk. 



Sirius sat up. “You want me to visit?” His voice sounded strange, Peter thought, laced with excitement. 



“Merlin, no! That was when I thought you were jolly company,” James shook his head. They looked at each other, James’ face arranged in perfect nonchalance and Sirius’ eyes slightly wide. Suddenly, they grinned. Nothing more was said, but Sirius’ grin didn’t fade as he fell back on the bed. 



Peter suddenly felt invisible. He had been standing right there, but the invitation wasn’t extended to him. It was always this way with James. Everyone else ceased to exist when Sirius was around. 





“Hurry up!” Lily pulled Marlene along as she weaved her way through the crowd as the foghorn sounded. The steam from the train wasn’t helping visibility either. Apart from the crowd, it appeared everyone on the platform were in as much of a hurry as them. “Here!” she beckoned to Marlene, spotting a train door. She bustled through the bottleneck at the door and stepped into the train just as the second horn sounded. Marlene stumbled next to her, panting for breath. They inched their way down the carriage as the train started with a jerk. The students moved along slowly trying to find a seat but compartments were full. Lily and Marlene searched for the other girls. 



“We should have listened to Dorcas,” Marlene said reproachfully as a first year ran past her, dashing against her shoulder. Lily felt responsible, after all it was she who had delayed them by going down to the lake in the last minute. 



“Sorry,” she muttered meekly. She had been feeling increasingly guilty around Marlene for a while now. It wasn’t enough that she had unnecessarily and tactlessly confronted Marlene about her activities, now she had to go and have weird thoughts about James Potter. She did not fancy him. But found herself wondering if he fancied her and oddly liking the idea as well. She shook her head, as if to get rid of those thoughts. 



“Hey!” Marlene exclaimed suddenly, knocking the side of her face in an eagerness to wave to someone. Before Lily could spot whoever it was, Marlene was dragging her across into a compartment. She almost tumbled in, catching her breath, and looked up at all the Gryffindor boys. “Can we sit here?” Marlene asked.



“Er, sure,” Remus replied, moving down to make place for them. Marlene gave a relieved smile and sat down next to him. Lily took the empty seat next to Clarence Sloan and found herself right opposite James Potter. Great, she thought to herself, just what I need right now. She fidgeted, causing Sloan to move a few inches down the seat in an attempt to make more space for her. She muttered a thanks in response and looked around, trying to avoid looking directly at James Potter. Instead, she smiled hesitantly at Sirius exchanging a mocking grin with Remus. She couldn’t help cringing inwardly. 



“It was a bloody brilliant tackle,” Jake Wyatt seemed to be resuming an earlier conversation, “the ref said he hadn’t quite seen that move before. They’re calling it the Twisky Tackle, after Darren Twisky.”



“Darren Twisky is a great chaser,” James agreed, “but he costs the team a lot of fouls. Any chaser who does that much Quaffle-pocking shouldn’t be allowed on the team!”



“That game against the Harpies, though,” Wyatt sounded awed. 



James didn’t look that convinced. “I’d say the real hero of that match was Kathleen Jones. She was bloody brilliant.”



“Fancy you, praising a Seeker!” chuckled Marlene. 



“Where there’s talent,” James shrugged. 



“I think a Seeker requires more talent than a Chaser,” Lily chimed in, deja vu hitting her before the words left her mouth. And even before James’ scornful eyes trained on her, she knew how this was going to end. 



He cocked an eyebrow, “you do, do you?” he said mockingly. 



She felt an urge to prevent the inevitable. “I’m just saying, catching a Snitch requires far more raw talent than shooting Quaffle through the hoops,” she tried to reason. She saw Marlene raise her eyebrows slightly and wondered if she had effectively ended up insulting her best friend and James Potter. She hadn’t really meant to -



“Evans.” She stopped mid-thought and looked up at James’ cold voice, dripping with scorn. “You’ve known Quidditch for three years, I’ve known it since I was three years old. This isn’t one of your silly Muggle sports, so please don’t embarrass yourself.” 



Her face grew hot and she felt her stomach twist in knots of rage. Remus’ hasty reply to diffuse the situation was a distant noise to her. Anger pushed her to her feet and she didn’t bother to try and keep it out of her voice when she replied, “I didn’t realize you had to be pure-blood to talk about Quidditch.”



She stomped out, sliding the compartment door with a bang, blood pounding in her ears. She didn’t trust herself to stay there a second longer looking at stupid James Potter’s face without hexing him senseless. She stormed through the carriages until she reached the one she was searching for. 



“There you are!” Dorcas’ relieved voice fell unnaturally loud on her ears. “What’s wrong?” she stopped short at Lily’s expression. 



“Potter!” she burst out, breathing hard. 



“Right,” Mary smirked, exchanging a significant glance with Adhara.



“Stop that!” she snapped. “I’ll have none of that anymore!” and she went on to tell them what happened. When she was finished, Adhara looked mildly interested, Mary looked taken aback and Dorcas just raised her eyebrows in surprise. 



“Well, who’d have thought, James Potter,” Dorcas commented, after a pause. Lily found she was breathing hard, and sunk down to the seat, as others began discussing. Dorcas nudged her, “does this mean you’re singing a different tune?” she whispered, leaning in.



Lily looked into her teasing face, and whispered back, “nothing is more unattractive than bigotry.”





Adhara was making her way back from the bathroom when loud laughter directed her attention towards a compartment. She saw James and Sirius seated with the Prewetts. The sight of Sirius annoyed her. She hated that she allowed herself to get attached. She should have known better than to trust a Black. Sirius threw his head back laughing, and she strode past the compartment swiftly, trying to block out his guttaral laugh. 



Her path was suddenly blocked. 



“Slow down, Adhara.”



She exhaled irately. What was it about the way he pronounced her syllables that sounded like nails scraping against a blackboard?



“Move aside, Rigel. There’s still two more hours before I have to share a space with you.”



“I hear you’re not going with Sirius anymore,” He said conversationally as if he hadn’t heard her. 



Anger rankled. “Your alarming knowledge of my private life is a bit creepy, you know.” 



“Be nice, Adhara.” There it was again. He smirked. “Remember, I’m your only company for the next three months.” He smiled widely and all Adhara wanted to do was to knock those perfect teeth in. 



“I’m not scared of you,” she called after him as he walked away. 



He halted to look back at her, an eerie smirk on his face. “I’m sure.” 



The jest in his voice rang through her ears as she made her way back to her compartment, thoroughly annoyed with everything in her life. 




 


Adhara entered the compartment, her cheeks flushed and eyes wide. Dorcas supposed she had been to meet Sirius. “Did you lose your way?” she teased. Adhara simply glared in response and propped her feet up on the opposite seat. Dorcas gave a low whistle and returned to staring out the window. Between Lily fuming at James, Adhara being all weird about Sirius and Marlene trying not to appear upset about Owen’s new girlfriend, it did not seem a good day for fancies. 



Conversations faded and the rhythmic chugging of the train allowed her mind to wander. She replayed the abandoned Flume residence in her mind. She had gone back later to inspect the whole house, and reached the same conclusion. There was nothing remotely dark about the Flumes. She closed her eyes, trying to picture it in her mind. It hadn’t looked like the Ministry had removed anything incriminating from the house.  And someone had been frequenting the abandoned house. Nothing added up. Maybe the vacation would help her think without distractions. 



She opened her eyes and looked at the others, now talking about Lucius Malfoy and Narcissa Black’s Summer wedding. She was tickled by how pointless the discussion was. What did it matter how much Narcissa Black had spent on her wedding dress, or how Lucius had proposed to her? There were so many pertinent things happening, things that needed proper attention, objective investigation. The Ministry appeared to be ineffective. That much was clear from the way her father’s death had been handled. Her mother might not want to know the truth, but Dorcas wasn’t satisfied with the Ministry’s explanation. With the Flumes, no one was left to bother. This was how the Death Eaters kept getting away with it. Well, they were wrong. She was going to get answers, and the Ministry was the last resource she trusted.


 



 

A/N: Hello my readers. I know it has been months (or eons) since my last update. For those of you still sticking with the story, we have closed our doors on third year. There's still so much more to come, the drama just begins! Let me know what you all think!

 


Chapter 24: Higher Ranks
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

The squelch of his boots striding through the wet alley was barely heard over his own thumping heart. Any other day, he would have cringed at the thought of his expensive dragon-hide boots dredged in mud. But not today.

His trembling fingers swept his hair out of his eyes as he made his way to the signpost. He was a few minutes early by design. There was no sign of Dolohov, as expected. He straightened his cloak and lifted his pocket watch towards the light.

Any minute now.

A dark figure came flying down from the skies and landed smoothly in front of him. A thrill rushed through him.

“Ready?” Dolohov’s guttural voice spoke. He nodded curtly, trying not to betray eagerness. Dolohov produced a rusty iron pipe from under his cloak and held it out. He exchanged a nod, and reached out. As his fingers closed over the cold, rough metal, he felt an unfamiliar jerk at the pit of his stomach.

He stumbled a little on the landing, straightening up and adjusting his cloak pins. Dolohov beckoned him through a creaky wooden door. He didn’t have time to take in his surroundings, barely noticing the illegible street sign thrust in shadows. He noticed that Dolohov had not volunteered information about the destination, and he got the feeling questions wouldn’t be welcome. The winding passageway was dark, and he was guided only by the partial remnants of Dolohov’s wandlight. The dank passage terminated in a flight of stairs and the musty air thickened with anticipation as they ascended. He could hear voices as they drew closer to the top. Dolohov led the way into a circular room bathed in greenish-yellow light.

Dolohov stepped forward and conversations fell short. He could feel all eyes train on him and was grateful for Dolohov’s large frame. He didn’t dare to look around, and kept his head level, focusing his gaze on the ground in front of him as he followed Dolohov to what appeared to be the head of the room. He halted two steps behind Dolohov and raised his chin slightly but kept his gaze dropped. Dolohov knelt on one knee and rose. There was a rustle, and low mutterings all around. Dolohov stepped aside, and silence descended.

“Lucius Malfoy.” The Lord’s low drawl seemed to hang in the air, almost dangerously, like the breath he had held.

He lifted his eyes, deliberately, finally daring to take in the high chair, long green cloak, the slender torso and the half-masked face of the one whose very name people feared to utter.

“My Lord,” he replied in a low voice, trying to keep the tremor out of his voice.

Lucius saw a slight smirk on the unmasked half and guessed The Lord wasn’t fooled. The Lord twirled his wand absently while apprising him.

“You hadn’t told me he was this young, Dolohov,” The Lord’s voice had a hint of displeasure. There was a low hiss, and Lucius noted with a start, a giant snake head rearing from under The Lord’s chair.

Dolohov took a step forward. “B-but My Lord, he has done good work-” The Lord silenced him with a glance. His eyes flicked back to Lucius.

“Introduce yourself.”

He tried not to be discomfited by the snake now slithering up the seat. “L-Lucius Malfoy, son of Abraxas Malfoy. Sole heir to the Wiltshire Mansion, Wiltshire Estate and all movable assets linked to the Malfoy name. My father and I intend contributing generously to your cause, My Lord.”

Lucius sensed that the Lord was pleased with his well rehearsed response.

“The strongest magic isn’t contaminated by weaker blood,” he muttered in his low voice, almost to himself, stroking the snake’s head. “Dolohov tells me you have been sharing some real magic with select youngsters.”

“Ye-Yes.” The Lord looked at him sharply. “M-My Lord,” he added, wishing fervently that he wouldn’t be penalized for the oversight.

The Lord’s piercing gaze lingered on him for a few seconds before he spoke again. “Can I trust you to be discreet?”

“Of-of course, M-my Lord,” he replied eagerly. The snake hissed again.

“At last,” his voice sounded louder and Lucius realized he was talking to the room at large, “students are learning something other than silly hocus-pocus taught by that old fool.” A titter ran through the room. Lucius recognized the shrill voice of Bellatrix Black. The Lord looked beyond him. “Bellatrix.” There was sound of feet hurrying forward, and she came to stand beside him with a breathy ‘yes, My Lord’. “Provide Malfoy with all the support he needs. Young blood is very useful.”

“Yes, My Lord, of course,” Bellatrix replied.

“Malfoy,” The Lord called sharply. “Name some promising fledglings you’ve tutored.”

“Y-yes, My Lord. T-travers, Wilkes, Avery, Selwyn-”

“Stop!” The Lord cut him short. Lucius started, his heart leaping to this throat. He heard quick steps behind him, a figure brushed past him hurriedly and bowed so low his nose must have touched the ground. He then saw the figure approach the Lord and they had a whispered exchange. The figure seemed to be shaking, the Lord seemed unfazed, but his fingers stilled on his wand. He then held up a hand, silencing the man, who bowed his head and retreated into the shadows.

The Lord frowned and turned his gaze on to Bellatrix. “Didn’t you say Orion Black’s sons were at Hogwarts?”

“Yes, My Lord. But the younger one isn’t in third year yet.”

“The elder one?” The Lord prompted.

Bellatrix’s lips curled in a sneer. “He’s useless, My Lord. Weak, like Orion himself,” and she added as an afterthought, “he’s in Gryffindor.”

The Lord’s eyebrow raised. “Interesting,” he whispered, almost as if to himself, running a finger up and down his neck. The snake flicked it’s tongue.

“Selwyn!” Lucius started at the loud tone. “The Goblin?”

“Wouldn’t give it up, My Lord,” Mr. Selwyn’s voice came from behind.

“Don’t waste magic. Dispose of him.”

“Already done, My Lord.”

“Good. Rosier!”

“Yes, My Lord?”

“The giants?”

“My contact in France says we are closer to...”

For the second time, hurried footsteps sounded from the entrance and Rosier’s voice faded. A tall masked man made his way to the front. After the customary bow, he leaned closer to The Lord and muttered -

“The new batch arrived last night.” There was a pause. “M’ Lord, this may be the last batch for a while.” Lucius could sense the fear in his voice.

“Why?”

“With the bakery gone, we had no choice… Burke’s has been inspected by the Ministry. Nothing was found, but he’s not happy about it.”

“More gold?”

“I offered, M’ Lord. But the new officer has him rattled.”

“His name?”

Lucius could only hear a partial response that sounded like ‘-timus-ouch’

The Lord absently stroked his wand. He turned to a masked woman standing next to him. “Ask Rookwood to meet me.” The woman bowed in acknowledgment. “Send a message to our ally up north. I want a response right away,” he added. Looking at the man in the shadows, he said, “you have one day.” The figure fell to his knees, bending so low as to kiss the ground and kept muttering his gratitude.

The Lord then rose to his feet all of a sudden. The snake dropped from his lap and unwound it’s tail from the legs of the chair. Everyone around Lucius dropped to one knee, head bowed, and he followed suit. The Lord stopped short with his hand reached out toward a door Lucius hadn’t noticed before.

“Selwyn?”

“Yes, My Lord?”

“Don’t you have a daughter in Gryffindor?”

“Wha-” Mr. Selwyn sounded surprised. “Yes, M’Lord.”

“Interesting.” His voice was a low hiss.

The Lord swished his cloak behind him and disappeared through the door, the large snake slithering after him.


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