Chapter 4 : A Night of Surprises
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Lily was wand deep in potions assignments. She desperately wanted to complete the paper that was due the following week so she could work on the extra credit project Professor Slughorn had optioned to them. She also needed to catch up on the Defence Against the Dark Arts homework; she had almost lost a duel to Abigail. Thankfully Abigail wasn't near as strong at shielding charms as Lily, and after exhausting her opponent Lily had been able to disarm her. Part of her almost felt bad, of course the second she walked by them and they jeered ‘mudblood’ that empathy quickly disappeared and she was left wishing Salazar Slytherin had never created a stupid house to begin with.
She twisted the quill in her fingers, letting the soft feather brush her chin as her eyes focused on the first two paragraphs of The Benefits of Potentially Deadly Potions. Of course she had chosen one of the most difficult topics to write her essay on. She knew the benefits of dangerous potions, some of the most deadly were also the most necessary. However, it wasn’t as easy to put that into words as she had assumed when she chose her topic.
She stilled her tapping fingers and reached for the book that was spread open on the table, flipping through pages until she finally reached the ending section regarding Draught of Blood and Wolfsbane. The context touched over how both were seldom used.
Typically, a Healer could help the body recreate enough blood to make up for any loss, but there were those rare cases that it wouldn’t be enough and the draught would be given. It worked by immediately matching the patient’s blood type and would begin multiplying rapidly, however the potion was frighteningly fickle. There was no guaranteed way to test its contents, and it would show no signs of contamination during the brewing process, but even something as small as an extra stir could cause it to mutate.
If a person was given a batch that had been compromised, the result was deadly. It would continue to multiply their red blood cells, thickening the life that pumped through their veins until it became a slush like texture, unable to move through the fragile capillaries, forcing it to clot and killing the patient within minutes. This reaction occurred less than three percent of the time, and when death was already calling, the potion’s risks didn’t seem as frightening. Thankfully, it had to be used very rarely.
Most wizards and witches were able to get to St. Mungo’s long before the amount of blood loss was severe enough for the draught to be necessary.
Then there was her second potion, Wolfsbane. Draught of Blood was much easier for her to identify with. If she was bleeding to death and that was her only chance of survival, she would take it happily and cross her fingers that her batch was a healthy one.
Wolfsbane, now that was tricky. It was a new creation, invented by Damocles during her third year of Hogwarts. s She remembered his picture being plastered all over the Daily Prophet for being the first person to create something that was able to help a werewolf contain his human sanity during a transformation. Although it wasn't yet approved by the Ministry's Potion Regulators, which she assumed had to do with the lack of werewolves available to test it out.
How was she supposed to identify with the pros and cons of Wolfsbane when she couldn't begin to imagine what it would be like to be infected with Lycanthropy?
To a werewolf, it would be a haven, right? It wasn’t as fickle as Draught of Blood, but if the aconite used to create it had become rotten, or if any other kind of ingredient found its way into the potion, the consequences were unfathomable. There were reports of the potion causing the disease to hold its mutation, and the transformation back to human form couldn’t take place after a corrupted brew of Wolfsbane was ingested. That was only if the aconite was horribly rotten, though. And the plant gave off a dreadful smell at the slightest bit of aging, so it would be easy to notice if it was far too bad to be used.
Yes, the Wolfsbane was an incredible creation, but were werewolves even common enough to require such an invention? The only one she had ever heard stories about was Greyback, and he may have been the only one on this continent, for all she knew. He was famous for attacking innocent people, and not because he was transformed, but because he enjoyed it. So, it was obvious he wouldn’t be someone to take the potion. What they had learned about werewolves did make it clear that many never admitted to their disease, so she supposed it was possible that there was a higher number of them than she realized. Regardless of whether there were one in a hundred or one in a million, she still had to come up with a way to describe how the benefits were greater than the negatives.
She let her fingers move over the lines of the book, reading them over and over, trying to understand more about this potion. Her brain was finally moving in what she believed was a positive direction, a solid answer was almost close enough to touch, yes, she nearly had it-
“Hey, Evans. I need to-” James's voice filled their common area as he entered through the portrait. He sounded like nothing less than quills on a chalkboard to Lily’s annoyed ears. She barely suppressed a growl as the answer that had taken her at least twenty minutes to come up with, began dissolving from her train of thought.
“James, do you know how long I’ve been —”
“Working on that paper, yes yes I know. And every other assignment you can find. I swear Lils, you can just relax sometimes.”
“So you do know how long I’ve been working on this?” Lily asked sarcastically as she stood up and moved from the floor in front of the table to the couch.
“Yes I know! But I really need to talk to you.”
Lily glanced back at the half finished essay before sighing. “Fine, what’s up?”
He sat beside her; his face looked so much younger than seventeen with his obvious excitement humming just barely below the surface.
“McGonagall came into the library when I was working on revising for our Defence test and she asked me to come into her office—”
“James what did you do to already get called into her office?” Lily sat up straighter on the couch, crossing her arms as she spoke.
“No, that’s what I thought at first, too!” The way James threaded his fingers through his hair made Lily smile, it was such a familiar gesture, something she barely noticed now.
“But I wasn’t in trouble. You know how we were talking the other day about Quidditch? I was trying so hard not to just start asking people who the bloody Captain is, because it’s already a month into school and no one has scheduled anything?”
“Yeah, I remember. So did you find out?” Lily watched his smile grow even brighter. She started to piece together the conversation, but forced her mind to stop turning in case she was wrong.
“Well, you know how Dumbledore waited to tell us about our Heads positions to see if we were ready?”
“Are you saying McGonagall…” She put her hand up to her mouth to stop the words from coming out, wanting him to be the one to spill his news if it was what she was thinking.
“Yes! And she just wanted to make sure that I could handle it, that…” Lily felt his hesitation. How did you possibly word, that your parents dying didn’t fuck us up too bad, eloquently.
“Don’t worry, I get it. So it’s really you, though? You’re really the captain?”
James stood from the couch, nodding his head and unable to remain still.
“She even nearly smiling when she told me! But there’s something else. When I told Sirius and the guys, well we had an idea.” He sat back down, glancing at Lily out of the corner of his eyes.
“It’s just that, well, it’s our seventh year and I’m captain. I’m captain. So we thought we should celebrate, and that maybe if you talked to McGonagall…”
Lily rolled her eyes, though more out of habit than annoyance. How often had she chastised the four of them — well, mainly Sirius and James — for throwing parties after the winning games? She’d been just a prefect then, but she’d still took it seriously. And now she was a Head Girl. She was supposed to be one of the most responsible people in this school, but part of her wanted that party. She was supposed to remind people of the rules and enforce them, though if it was just a celebration...that wasn't against the rules.
But, she knew a party meant sneaking things in that didn’t belong. It meant sneaking in Firewhiskey and trying to figure out how to get students from different houses in. It meant being up way past curfew and giving Filch too much excitement for one night. Still, if Professor McGonagall did agree to it, which she may if they had adequate supervision. She was one of the most enthusiastic people about Quidditch that Lily knew, after all. So maybe she could just ask…
“Alright, I’ll talk to her. But if she doesn’t permit the celebration, that’s it. No party.” The wind was nearly knocked out of her when James launched forward and squeezed her into his arms, hugging all the oxygen from her.
“You’re the best, Lily.” She smiled as the tug that was become all too familiar pulled against her heart.
The late afternoon sun was gently dipping below the Heavens, casting a soft, warm glow into the sparkling windows of Hogwarts. The last bit of rays fell upon the faces that filled the corridors. And, if one were to listen close enough to the voices passing through those corridors, they would most likely hear the name James Potter being mentioned in the groups of girls and boys alike. As of the last two days, that name became one that was being thrown about like a Quaffle. James had done the impossible, and gotten even more popular. The news of him being made captain spread like wild fire, and nearly everyone was pleased for him.
He was enjoying the attention, happy to bask in the lime light. Everyone wanted to know exactly what his plans were. When are tryouts? Is Sirius going to play on the team, now that you’re captain? Are you going to buy the team new brooms? And those were only a few of the inquires floating around!
A fifth year had even come up to James and demanded that he put Peter on the team as a Beater, saying: ‘He would look so dreamy in the Gryffindor uniform!’
Fat chance James was going to let anyone on the team just because some girl thought they looked dreamy! Even though he was glad to be the talk of the school, the constant bombarding for information got old very quickly.
He was relieved to have slipped from a classroom without being assaulted by questions this particular Friday afternoon, with Sirius by his side.
“So, how was it?” Peter’s voice rang through the emptying corridor the second Sirius and James emerged from the classroom that Auror Tutoring had taken place. “Will they have class every Friday afternoon? Or was this just for today?” Sirius ignored his questions for a moment as they began their walk from the seventh floor down to the Great Hall for dinner. He looked over his shoulder to make sure there wasn’t anyone from his class before he spoke.
“It was awesome, mate,” he spoke in an animated voice. “This guy that teaches it, he's one of the best. He really knows his stuff, and I mean he knows it. He isn’t just one of those people telling you things he got from a book, he’s really been there! Anyway, he split us up in groups. There’s only five of us, which is still a fairly decent size, I think.” Sirius held out a hand with five fingers up to illustrate his point. “Two of them are those rich prat twins in our house, they’ll never have the stuff to be an Auror so their mummy and daddy are trying this,” he lowered two of his fingers.
“Then there’s a bloke from Hufflepuff who is really into it. He wants to get into the program right after Hogwarts and not risk getting declined and having to reapply, so that’s why he’s taking it.” One more finger was brought back into the fist. “Then the last, besides me, is a Ravenclaw girl. Her whole family are Aurors, and she isn’t great at defense spells, so I think she’s hoping this will help,” he took down the last two fingers before continuing. “Anyway, the Hufflepuff, his name is Derrick, and myself are going to be taught by the same Auror we had today! He split us into groups based on our skill level and assigned an Auror to both groups, he said that we show the most potential, so he’s dealing with us personally! It’s going to be four hours one Saturday a month, which doesn’t sound like a lot-”
“So why did James get to go, and not me?” Peter interrupted, trying to keep his tone light.
“My parents are close with the bloke teaching it,” James replied. “In the owl they sent last week it said that they talked to him and he was more than happy to have me join in on some classes, since I want to become an Auror too, and all.” He felt a quick flash of guilt. His mate had been put through hell trying to pay for his class, and all it took was a small conversation for him to be part of it.
Everything had worked out, at least. Sirius finally agreed to let his parents handle it, promising to pay them back after he graduated and was able to use his uncle’s money. After over a year of living with them, you’d think Sirius would have realized that the last thing his parents needed was more money.
“Where have you lot been off to?” Remus, who had been waiting near the Great Hall, questioned.
“Oh, just finding Sirius here a new dress for the party,” James joked. Sirius was much too high spirited to let his friend's teasing daunt him.
Before Remus could respond, a chain of three girls all linked arm in arm approached them.
“Hey, all!” Lily shouted as they walked passed, sending a quick wave with her free left hand.
“Where are they off to?” James wondered aloud.
“Probably going to get ready for the party. You better stick with us, mate. I don’t think your dorm area is going to be too safe about now.” Sirius said with a laugh as they entered through the giant doors of the Great Hall. The smell of spiced, steaming hot gravy atop a platter of juicy pork chops had his taste buds tingling in delight.
“You’re probably right. Anything that is going to take them two hours can’t be safe. Well, mates, we survived our first month of our seventh year. What do you say to treating ourselves to a few of Sirius's butterbeers out of the stash after dinner?”
The three friends nodded at James in agreement as they sat down, ready to dig into the feast that was placed before them.
Lily, Alice, and Belle were all perched on different surfaces of Lily’s bathroom. The white, gleaming marble was nearly hidden under mountains of beauty products. The large mirrors that adorned the walls were each taken up with a different face, something about sitting two inches from a mirror when applying cosmetics really helped with the process.
“I want to be part French! You never look imperfect, Belle!” Alice said, throwing her hands up in frustration and letting the eyeshadow brush fall with a clank onto the counter. Her words happened to be spot on. Belle did, in fact, look perfect at every hour.
She had help, though; her and her sister, Adeline, were blessed with not only the perfect bone structure that seemed to run in old French families, but came from enough money to buy anything they could ever need. Adeline had even married the eldest brother of a French Duke.
“You ‘ush now Alice! You look exquisite! Besides, being French isn’t important. Being confident is,” she said, taking her friend by the shoulders and forcing her to face the mirror.
“See now, look at ‘ow wonderful you look even with ‘ardly any cosmetics on!” Belle said, causing Alice to smile at herself in the mirror, seeing the woman in front of her as others did. “Although, I could be ‘alked into letting you borrow my silk blouse for the evening if you can ‘elp me figure out ‘ow to get my potions essay to stop screaming at me.” Belle negotiated with a teasing smile, knowing she would let her friend borrow the shirt regardless.
“Slughorn said something about a plagiarism charm being placed on the parchment. Did you reword the things you found in the books, or just copy them?” Alice asked, turning to face her friend.
Belle’s annoyed expression was a good enough answer.
“Belle, we talked about this. There are no easy ways out when it comes to homework!” Alice lectured.
“I don’t want an easy way out! I just picked ze worst topic to write on, and ‘ave no way of even rewording what ze books say! If I would ‘ave known ‘ow boring my topic of potions used during a birthing was, I would never ‘ave chosen it! I know a few muggle mothers, and the way they were rid of the pain during child birth was much more gruesome!”
“Speaking of mothers, have you spoken to yours yet this year, Belle?” Lily interrupted. “I know you stayed with your sister over the summer, at least when you weren’t at James’s. Does that mean she’s not as angry about you transferring to Hogwarts anymore?” Lily asked, turning to Belle as she spoke.
“My sister does not ‘ave a right to be angry at my decision. My reasons to transfer at the end of last year were necessary ones. And no, I ‘ave not and will not speak to either of my parents.” Her answer was said in a quite tone, though the warning to drop the subject was crystal clear. She will tell us when she’s ready, Lily thought to herself.
The breathtaking, pixie sized blonde, had blown into the end of last semester like a hurricane, setting nearly the entire male population on high alert. Alice and Lily had been happy to welcome her into Gryffindor, and had spent a very exciting three weeks at the end of last year’s term teaching her all they could about Hogwarts.
Their friendship was easy, comfortable even, as if they had both known Belle for years. Despite the quick closeness of their relationships, Belle still refused to open up to them about more of her life, or what she called her previous life, in France.
Lily was jarred from her thoughts when a large bang echoed through the bathroom.
“Oh, that was the bedroom door, hold on!” She stumbled over the different obstacles of clothing to reach the front of her bedroom, quickly pulling off a bra that had been hung on the door handle during their ordeal of deciding on outfits.
“Looking stunning as usual, Lily. I always knew James had good taste in ladies.” Sirius said with a wink.
"James and I are just friends,” Lily shot back with a laugh.
“Keep thinking that, Evans.” Before Lily could respond, her friends were making their way over to them through the same treacherous clothing hazards.
“Hey Sirius, is Frank downstairs?” Alice asked.
“That goofy looking bloke prowling about?”
"BLACK! DON’T MAKE ME COME UP THERE AND HEX YOU!” Frank yelled from the bottom of the stairs, trying to hold back a snicker.
Alice, who had never been great with quick banter, simply slapped a hand at his chest and continued down the staircase. Now that only the two girls and Sirius remained, a nerve-racking tension filled the air.
The weeks after Lily’s parents passed away had been traumatic for not only her, but her closest friends. They had spent as much time visiting as possible, and during those visits, Belle and Sirius had sparked a very odd chemistry. Watching them reminded Lily of watching thunder and lightning: both strong forces with a need to dominate, both terrifying but soothing in their own right. However, neither thunder nor lightning could be quite so impressive without the other complimenting and contradicting it.
Belle didn’t posses a vast array of emotions. She was burning hot, or freezing cold. No middle ground. Lily couldn’t help wonder if Sirius was just a bit addicted to the uncertainty of it. It had become somewhat of game to him, trying to bring out the different extremes of her.
Resigned to having no control of the matter, Sirius waited patiently to discover which Belle would receive him this evening.
“‘Ello, Sirius.” Belle paused in front of him, her blue eyes drilling into the grey mist of his. Lily tried to hold back a laugh as she watched the two collide, both refusing to break the stare.
Finally, Belle let her gaze drop and replaced their icy ocean appearance with one that could have rivaled the warmth of a July day. She flashed an easy smile, the happiness of it fell on Sirius and had his face lighting up.
“Are you going to be a dear and escort me to ze party?” Belle asked, holding her arm out for him to place his inside.
“It would be my honour m’lady,” Sirius said with a laugh before turning back to Lily. “Remus is downstairs. He wanted to talk to you, so he will just hang out until you're ready to go.” She nodded, and couldn’t help but smile at the picture that her friends made: soft, brilliant beauty, against dark and viciously handsome.
She rushed around quickly picking up the hurricane of clothes and throwing them into the wardrobe.
“Okay, do your thing,” she mumbled to it, shutting the espresso coloured doors firmly. She slipped on a silky cream cardigan that had been her mum's; the smell of Adrianna Evans perfume filled Lily. Sweet vanilla with subtle hints of birch-wood, beautiful and loving, just like the woman that had adorned the scent as far back as Lily could remember. She felt her eyes growing wet, her heart closed around the pain, unable to fight off the memories that the scent forced into her.
“Mummy! Do I look pretty? Pretty like you, Mummy?” A five year old Lily danced around in a much too long nightgown. “I want to sleep in silky things like you! Can I sleep in silky, pretty things too, mummy?" Lily asked, smiling bright enough to have the bathroom practically glowing.
“Nothing is as pretty as you, my girl. Now, let Mummy get ready for bed and maybe we will have a late night tea and biscuit party, what do you think?” Adrianna asked, taking in the sight of her baby girl, while dabbing her cotton ball once more into a clear liquid. After it was thoroughly soaked, she proceeded to rub the days wear from her face.
Her mass of thick, red hair was tied up in a bun, a few strands breaking free and curling around her ivory skin. The small child twirling at her feet was a near replica of Adrianna, something she was told often, but never got sick of hearing.
“Can I wear your nightgown for it, please? Please!” The full lips of the little girl fell into a comical pout.
“On one condition, darling, you have to make an invitation for Petunia to our tea party. It has to have loads of colours on it, and some of the letters that we have been practicing,” she replied, mocking a stern look.
“Okay! I can do that! I will make one for daddy, too! Just in case he gets home soon from business working in Illendran!”
“That’s Ireland, love. Daddy will be home tomorrow night, and the next day we will all be home together. Maybe then we can take a trip to the shops, you and Petunia can help mummy pick out more lovely clothes! I bet daddy will even take us for dinner at your favourite restaurant!” The child squealed in delight at her mother's words, then dashed quickly from the room.
Adrianna heard a sudden halt of footsteps, a few whispers, and the sound of running feet racing towards her.
“Mummy! Lily said we are having a tea party! Can I put on one of your nightdresses?” Petunia’s smile matched her younger sister's. Though they barely resembled one another, the second they smiled it was like they were twins. Both faces lit up in the kind of joy only a child could really understand.
“Of course, darling! Two lovely nightdresses for my favourite girls!” She bent down and scooped each of her daughters up, thankful that Petunia was a small seven year old and could still easily fit in her arms.
Lily had melted into the floor, her body forming a tight ball around her chest. Tears soaked her face and hair; oxygen came in heaves, trying to force its way into her flooded heart. She felt arms around her, picking her up and placing her on the large bed. Leave me alone, let me break...
“You’ll never stop missing them, Lils. I wish I could say you’ll forget, but you won’t. It won’t always hurt this much, though. It won’t always feel like your heart is being ripped from you when you think of them.” The soft words helped calm her, the way Remus spoke them with such care, as if talking to a breakable child. Which, in all reality, is close to what Lily felt like.
“Have you ever, you know, lost someone? I know your mum and dad are both still here, but you sound like you know how it feels.” Lily questioned, not bothering to wipe the tears from her lashes.
“Lost someone to death? no,” he took a deep breath before continuing. “But when I was younger, I was really close to this little boy, he was a great kid. His mum and dad didn’t have a lot, but they always made sure he was safe and happy. Then as a form of revenge, a monster that had once fought with this boy's father went after him.
"He didn’t kill the little boy, but he left scars in such a way that they could never be healed. The type that don’t just stop at marking the skin, but go deep inside and ruin many of the best things that made life worth living. This monster meant to leave the boy alive, so he would spend the rest of his years suffering. Watching the little boy go through this really took its toll on me, it was harder than anything else I have been through.”
“What happened to the little boy?” Lily asked, engrossed in the story. Remus smiled in such a sad way that, for once in the last month and a half, the heartbreak Lily felt wasn’t for herself.
“He found a way to continue a life, a really decent life, in fact. There are so many kind people in this world that will give anyone a chance to prove that they aren’t what they seem,” he answered, thinking of James, Sirius, Peter and Dumbledore. “He found people that could still love him, even being so greatly maimed as he was, they continued to love him.”
Lily smiled as the last words fell from Remus. She could tell that this boy wasn’t completely better, but he had still found happiness. She would never forget her parents, never rid herself of the feeling of abandonment, but she could grow strong enough that the memories of them didn’t have to break her so completely.
“Remus, I don’t know how to thank you for finding me and-- wait, how did you know I was crying? How did you get in?” She said as an afterthought, knowing the rules placed upon girls' dormitories. Remus chuckled, then pointed to the still wide open door that had remained that way after Sirius and Belle had exited.
“I could hear you crying from downstairs. It really is a terribly sad sound, now I know what James meant when he said that being in-” he cut himself off abruptly.
“Being in what, Remus?”
“Do you still want to go, Lily? If not I can go down to the kitchens and get you some treats, hot cocoa always does the trick to cheer one up.” Lily knew her question would go unanswered. Remus would never give away something that James’s wasn’t okay with. The group in its entirety might be an annoying, over boastful, and trouble making bunch, but they were also fiercely loyal to one another.
“I’m okay with going, it will be fun. Let me just go into the bathroom for a moment and fix myself back up. Thank-goodness for magic, or we would be here all night while I tried to get rid of the raccoon eyes my wet mascara created.”
Remus smiled as she slipped back into the bathroom. He glanced toward Lily’s window, his eyes focused intently on the night sky. A moon that was so large that it could have almost been full stared back down at him, taunting him. He had twenty-six hours left.
“You really expect me to believe that he didn’t leave, not once, in the entire three week duration? I’m not daft, Remus. I know James couldn’t stay away from his broom for three days, let alone three weeks.” Lily said as they walked to the Gryffindor Towers.
“It’s the truth, Lily. He kept himself within a ten second distance of you all hours of the day. Why do you have such a hard time believing that he cares for you?”
“It’s not that I don’t believe it. Now that I have seen how much he does care, I’m just not ready to take on this kind of relationship. I’m not ready to be James Potter’s girlfriend, maybe I won’t ever be.” Remus dropped the subject, not wanting to upset her.
He cared for Lily much like you would a precious gift. Her friendship had been just that to all of them. Sweet, caring, loyal to the core, and as brave as they come, that was Lily Evans. It was easy to see how James had fallen so hard for her, and even easier to imagine the way they could be together. James’s calm, powerful, easygoing presence would be the perfect counterpoint to Lily’s organized, planned out, and occasionally a bit too tense attitude. I hope she sees the kind of man James really is, and stops thinking of him like- Remus’s thoughts came to an abrupt halt.
He moved like lightning, throwing one arm around Lily’s waist and the other over her mouth, dragging her into the shadows of a large statue. He reached into his robe pocket and pulled out James’s silvery, water like cloak, tossing it over her.
“You're under James’s invisibility cloak, be very quiet, understand?” His voice was soft and coaxing. His ears echoed with the sounds of Regulus Black. That meant there was a group of them near by. He silently gave thanks for the intensified hearing that his upcoming change brought him.
“Listen to me Lily, we're very close to some of the Prospects."
"Prospects?" Lily interjected.
"That's the name we gave to the students who are clearly aiming to be Death Eaters. Anyway, I can’t give up this chance to get a listen in, you go back the exact way we came and wait near the stairs. Okay?”
“Yeah bloody right! I’m coming!”
Had he truly thought that would work? The last thing he wanted to do was put her in harm's way; time was running out, they were moving further down the corridor.
“If I tell you to leave, leave!” Remus spoke, the whisper barely audible. He waited a beat, but was met with silence. “Lily? Did you hear me?”
“Yes, of course! I nodded!” she whispered.
“You're under an invisibility cloak!”
“Right! Erm, yeah…I’ll leave if you say so, probably.” She made certain to say the last word quietly enough that it would go undetected. Remus motioned her forward. He wouldn’t even know if I was following him or not. Now I know how Potter gets away with so much.
The idea of moving around the castle, as invisible as air, brought a giggle to her lips.
Remus turned around and sent a warning look straight into her eyes, which was rather eerie, considering they couldn’t be seen.
After easing down the corridor inch by inch, taking each step painfully slow, and stopping often for Remus to listen, Lily finally heard the whispers that he had somehow noticed from their original spot.
“Move over,” he whispered. Lily crept half of the cloak off of her and let him under it. They prowled closer until they were within a few feet of their prey. Lily had to hold back a groan as she saw Severus among the ranks of the others.
“He’s weak, he’s susceptible, easily manipulated.” The first voice that spoke shot shivers through her spine. The shrill voice of the woman was nothing, if not terrifying.
“No. I have tried. He stays loyal.” She felt sick as Severus’s voice filled the silent corridor. The faint two year-old taunt of mudblood rang through her ears. He had tried to offer his condolences upon her arrival back at school, but she couldn’t receive them with more than a nod. He didn’t care what had happened to her muggle parents...
“NO!” The quick shout carried her thoughts back to their prey.
“Severus! Keep quiet! What he is suggesting is merely-” Regulus Black was cut off.
“No, I agree with Avery, the Dark Lord said this must be done!” The woman’s voice snarled at Severus.
“He is loyal through and through! I have tried!”
“YOU AREN'T TRYING HARD ENOUGH!” The sudden anger from the shrill voice caused Lily’s heart to quicken, the hairs on the back of her neck stood erect as she focused on forcing her breath to stay silent. She wondered how Severus was able to resist cowering away.
“You need to leave.” Regulus's voice was much calmer in contrast; Lily made a mental note to ask Remus if Sirius was aware of his brother’s activities. “He’ll be here for you shortly.”
The group moved so quickly that Lily didn’t have the chance to react. Remus was trying to pull her backwards while she stayed frozen, still focused on the content of the conversation. Remus drew his wand and shot a quick spell across the wall, forcing a painting to crash to the ground. Lily couldn’t help but notice how good he had gotten at nonverbal casting.
“I need to see if I can get anything else out of them, follow my lead.” Remus spoke in little more than murmur. As the group of Prospects ran to the wall to examine the cause, he yanked the cloak off of them and began walking forward, laughing loudly.
“Oi, What are you doing here?” Avery grunted, after turning away from the shattered glass.
“Just helping accompanying Lily here on patrols. Speaking of, you’re all out rather late. I wonder what our Head Girl thinks about that?” Remus replied, shocking Lily at how smooth of a transition he made. His elbow jabbed into her ribs softly, beckoning an agreement from her.
“Odd, Remus, as I was just wondering how I was going to get my fix of slimy gits for the night. Ten points apiece ought to do it if they don’t hurry along. And you,” she pointed a finger at the dark haired, wild-eyed woman. “You aren’t a student here. Do you need to be escorted to the Headmaster so he can help you find your way out?” She was surprised at how composed her own voice sounded.
The woman shot a look to Regulus and then tightened her hand around her wand. Her eyes met Lily’s, damned black against fierce green. Lily forced herself to maintain the contact, refusing to break away.
"Bellatrix." Regulus's voice was impatient. "Now." She turned abruptly, but shot one last terrifying look at Lily before she followed the group down the corridor.
“Wow. You really have had quite the night.” Remus said, once they were out of earshot. “So, are you sure you are still up for the party? We are rather late, I don’t think you would be blamed for slipping back to your room.”
“No, no it’s fine. I have too much energy now.” Lily’s voice came out shaky. Remus shoved a piece of chocolate at her, gesturing at her to eat. “So what should we do about what we overheard? Should we find the Headmaster? Who was that woman? We should have taken her to Dumbledore.”
“Honestly Lily, I don’t think it will do much. James and Sirius brought in some convicting information about those three and a couple others almost the first week we were back. Dumbledore seemed to already know where their allegiance was placed. We didn’t get any real details. Just something about them trying to persuade a bloke. The kind of times we are in, when is Voldemort not trying to persuade and recruit, you know?”
“Yeah, I guess. But we should still let him know she got into the castle, shouldn't we? Who exactly is she?"
"That was Bellatrix Lestrange. Sirius's cousin, she is one Voldemort's supporters, rumored to be one of the most dangerous, to be exact. McGonagall's supervising the party, right? I'll go talk to her as soon as we get there and fill her in."
They finished their walk in silence, each lost in their own mind.
Remus had a warm light filling him, an odd kind of hope that didn’t seem to have any reason to be there. One thing he was sure of, Lily really was an incredible witch. She stood her own in a group of Voldemort’s followers. They may not all have been full-fledged Death Eaters, but they had the heart for it and that is where the danger lies.
The turned the corner to the Gryffindor Tower and stepped directly in front of the Fat Lady. She sat in her pink dress, curled up with a book that looked like it could be older than Hogwarts.
“Excuse me,” Lily began politely.
“Well, how nice to see you. I assume because you have been made Head Girl, and have you own portrait, you don’t find the need to stop by and visit your dear old friend?” The Fat Lady began in a dramatic voice, Remus coughed to draw her attention to him.
“Oh, hello, dear. Well, I suppose I have you and your friends to thank for bringing so many new faces to my portrait tonight? You know, the second all this nonsense has ended I will be forced to change the password! Too many other students knowing our password! How you conned Mistress McGonagall into this, I'll never know! And it took me nearly a week to come up with the last, and now I’ll have to-”
“The next password will be aconite.” Lily interrupted. She had finished her essay that afternoon, yet Wolfsbane was still floating around her mind. She was too focused on the Fat Lady to feel Remus tense beside her. “I will be sure to let the prefects know, now, if you will kindly let us in.”
The dim lighting of the common room caused her to stumble a bit over Remus as she walked through the hole, who was deaf to her apology over the loud, intoxicating music. A small house elf scurried up to them, shouting her squeaky voice over the song.
“Good evening sir and lady! Leeny is here to help! Leeny can bring you pumpkin juice, if sir and lady wish!” They shook their heads no, and began walking through the tangled mess of dancing bodies to spot their friends. Lily was surprised that their professor had let so many people in, but then again you were only made Captain once.
Remus spotted McGonagall and ushered Lily ahead, telling her that he could fill their professor in on his own. After what felt like hours of weaving and shoving, she finally spotted Alice’s excited face near the back of the common room.
Her friend ran to her, giving her a large hug and immediately questioning where she had been. She would tell them all in the morning, for now she simply wanted to forget.
She brushed off Alice’s questions and pulled her onto an area that had been cleared to allow room for dancing, and let her body take root to the music: draining her mind of everything but the feel of the beat. Belle quickly spotted them, and grabbed Sirius by the arm, yanking him over with her.
The common room seemed to glow. There were twinkling objects that looked remarkably similar to fireflies near the ceiling, thousands of them casting a soft glow on the entire room. That has to be a bit of Sirius's work, she thought. He had always excelled at transfiguration.
There was a massive gold banner strung over the staircase. The words Congratulations James - Gryffindor Captain were illuminated in a fierce red against the sparkling gold background. You could see a small figure that did look quite a lot like James flying around the banner, throwing the Quaffle in odd directions and always circling back around to catch it.
“Let me go grab some drinks!” Lily shouted over the bass before separating from her friends and making her way back through the sweating bodies. She had almost reached the table when a flash of white teeth mixed with deep laughter tugged at her attention.
Not even a foot to her right, was none other than James Potter. He stood awkwardly crammed into a corner with a sea of blonde hair who seemed to be trying to suck the flesh off his neck. James had her by the shoulders, trying to push her off of him with a shocked expression filling his face.
He clearly isn’t trying too hard, Lily thought. The jealousy that was coursing through her veins was such a foreign feeling: it surprised even her. Impatience, annoyance, laughter, those were all emotions she came to expect when dealing with James Potter, but jealousy?
Lily stared into him, if looks could kill. James must have felt the assault of piercing green eyes, because he raised his to meet hers. The way his face fell and he held his hands up in a ‘can’t you see that I’m trying to stop it’ gesture, just brought more anger into Lily’s already raised temper.
She gave him one last look before turning into the crowd to find Sirius. She could feel James following her, and quickened her pace to avoid letting him catch up. Moving through compacted bodies, she finally stopped when waves of long silvery hair caught her attention, and when a gorgeous woman was found that usually meant...
“Sirius!” She shouted, close enough to touch him.
“Hey there, Evans! What happened to those drinks you were fetching for us?” She didn’t answer, just reached into his hands and grabbed the flask he was holding labeled Pumpkin Juice. Who does he think he's fooling? He watched in awe as she untwisted the top and drained every ounce of the liquid into her throat. Feeling the sharp burn, followed by the spicy hint of cinnamon, brought her back to reality.
“Er. Sorry Sirius…” She mumbled, handing it back.
“Evans! Are you mad? McGonagall has been circling around the room all night, there's no way you can hold your bloody alcohol and if you get caught I'm sure you'll blame-” Sirius cut his sentence off as James approached them. Even in the dim light, the red swell of a love bite was visible on his skin.
“Oh..” Sirius mumbled. “Well, mate, nice going. Lily just finished off my entire bottle of Firewhiskey,” he said, shaking the flask to prove his point. "Now, let's get her out of here before McGonagall tries to talk to her and she's sloshed off her arse."
“Lily-” She was already turning away from him, the heat of the alcohol drumming through her.
She didn't want to leave. Those two did whatever they wanted and got away with it. They ran around the castle like wild animals, sneaking here and there, knicking things left and right from the kitchens. Well, she wanted to get away with something for once.
She moved towards a crowded group, hoping to lose James between the people. Feeling a hand on her shoulder she turned around, irritated that he had caught up so quickly.
“What!” She snapped, and then quickly covered her mouth, realizing it wasn’t Potter.
“Vell, then, are all new transfers treated so... interestingly?” Spoke the blonde man that stood in front of her.
“No, I'm sorry, my friend- well right now he’s not exactly my friend, but he was following, then you. I’m Lily,” she said, realizing her explanation was going nowhere. “A new transfer? I don’t remember seeing you in any of my classes..”
“No, you vouldn’t have, I have just been arriving last night and my course load is much lighter than most. I attended Durmstrang, but my mother is rather... skittish and did not vant me to be partaking in the seventh years Dark Arts curriculum. She spoke to Headmaster Dumbledore and he has permitted me to finish my schooling at Hogwarts,” answered the blonde. Lily was a bit taken back by how charming of a smile he had.
“What is it about Durmstrang’s curriculum that your mum is unhappy about? Have you been sorted into a house already?” She asked in attempt to maintain polite conversation.
“I vould not be sorted. I informed Headmaster that I do not like having no choice in the matter. He allowed me to choose my house, and because I was rather ahead of the rest at Durmstrang, I chose Ravenclaw. My mother did not vont me to return because it is Durmstrang’s belief that Dark Arts should be learned, not just taught to defend against.
"A rather realistic theory, you see. For if we need to be defending against curses, we need to be able use them too, yes?” Lily bit her tongue to refrain from arguing, she was feeling much too light to get into a debate right now. When she didn’t respond, the boy continued.
“I don’t know, maybe I am simply missing my old friends and home already. I am sure Hogwarts is a very fine school, it is just difficult to be taken away from everyone you thought you vold be graduating with.” Lily felt a sigh of sympathy, being alone was never fun. She was about to try and excuse herself from the conversation when she saw Potter making his way towards her.
“That would be very hard, I suspect. Ravenclaw was a good choice, I am in Gryffindor and our houses respect each other quite a lot.”
“That is vot I hear! Your House's common room is very nice, too! I should be apologizing for my lack of manners, Lily. For I have neglected to introduce myself. I am Alrek, and feel very lucky to have found someone so nice to talk to. Vord of this party has spread throughout my new house, I thought it vould be fun to join and make new acquaintances.” He stuck his hand out and Lily grasped it, surprised at the rough texture. They reminded her of James’s, and she wondered idly if he played Quidditch like James, also.
“You will find loads of nice people here. I would suggest being careful when it comes to Slytherin, but even their house has a few friendly faces.”
“I vos hoping, since I vos told by a house mate that you are Head Girl, you vould vant to join me on a valk around grounds tomorrow morning. It vould be nice to be getting familiar with my new home, and I vould love to spend more time vith you.”
“Sorry there mate, she’s tied up with me tomorrow. Now if you will excuse us.” After much shoving through drunken dancers, James finally made his way up to Lily just in time to hear this new git ask her out.
“James, you already said we aren’t playing until afternoon because of Sirius’s Auror tutor program.” Lily argued, though a large part of her wanted to decline. But she did feel bad that he didn’t really have any friends yet, and what a pleasant way to make James regret ever getting his neck sucked by little miss blonde. Maybe it was the Firewhiskey making her brave, it was definitely the Firewhiskey making the room spin...
“Alrek, I would love to. Meet me at the entrance of the castle around nine?” she said, shooting James a wicked smile.
“That is perfect! I look forward to meeting you, Lily. I vill be going now, it seems that my night couldn’t get any better,” he replied, taking Lily’s hand and drawing it to his lips. James scowled after Alrek, then back at Lily.
“What the hell was that? You know nothing about him! Now you've agreed to spend a morning with him? There are plenty of places no one will be, you’ll practically be out of sight, alone, stomping around outside with some stranger!” James would have continued his scolding if he hadn’t noticed that Lily’s eyes seemed to be losing focus, and the McGonagall was moving closer to their side of the room.
“Oh blimey. This is going to be a long night.” James muttered, then quickly scooped Lily up and rushed her out of the room, staying behind crowded groups to keep them out of sight. He barely made it into the hallway before she started puking up the contents of her stomach. Luckily for them, Remus, Sirius, and Peter had seen him shoving their bodies through the crowed and joined them outside.
“Thank God," James said as his mates crowded around. "Sirius, you go inside and keep an eye on McGonagall. Peter, you stay by the portrait hole and make sure McGonagall does not come out. Remus, you keep them both informed of where the other is as at all times-”
“I have your cloak, James. I grabbed it earlier just in case. Take it and if Sirius or I think she's getting ready to come out, we can tell Peter and he'll let you know to get the cloak over her,” Remus interrupted. "After she's.. er.. finished we'll get rid of it and you get her back to the Heads' Quarters. I'll get Alice to come too, she can get Lily in bed."
“Good idea. Make sure you guys keep your eyes peeled. The last thing she needs is to get caught plastered and puking by our Head of House.” The three friends nodded in agreement while James knelt beside Lily, holding her hair back with one hand and rubbing her back with the other.
If she hadn’t looked so miserable, he would have had to laugh. The last thing he ever thought he would see was Lily Evans, doubled over in the corridors of Hogwarts, puking up a flask of Firewhiskey.
A huge thank you to my amazing Beta reader, CloakAuror9.
Also a big Thank You to Alyssa, Amanda Arithmancy_Wizard and Penny for really helping this chapter come together!
So.. Lily has just made her first (that we know of) bad decision. She's been through a lot the last few months, and everyone can't always be perfect. Not even Lily Evans. What did you all think?
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