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EPIC by Solmussa

Format: Novel
Chapters: 33
Word Count: 180,109
Status: COMPLETED

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Contains profanity, Mild violence, Scenes of a sexual nature, Substance abuse, Spoilers

Genres: Romance, Action/Adventure, Young Adult
Characters: Lupin, James, Lily, Sirius, Pettigrew, Voldemort, OC
Pairings: James/Lily, James/OC, Lily/OC, Remus/OC

First Published: 08/12/2019
Last Chapter: 12/18/2019
Last Updated: 12/29/2019

Summary:

"I would rather poke my eyes out with a quill than spend time alone with you, actually” I said coolly. Black ran a hand through his dark long hair, visibly exasperated.

 

“Don’t be ridiculous! I'll have you know that any girl in the school would kill for a chance to spend an entire evening alone with me” he said. Arrogant bastard. Not that he wasn’t right, but you know.



Chapter 10: The Mandrake Leaf

James’ POV

 

Three days. It had been three full days since I’d been with Jocelyn in the Room of Requirements and I still hadn’t managed to find the right moment to talk to her alone. And to add fuel to the fire, we had practically spent every waking second together in our little group of seven. I was finding it hard to act normal. Every time she spoke, every time she moved, I had flashbacks to that night. It was deliciously painful. I threw on my Quidditch gear and grabbed my broom.

 

“Padfoot, I’m heading to the pitch. I’m the captain, I can’t be late.”

 

“I’m coming!” he jumped around the room looking for his missing glove. I rolled my eyes.

 

“You live in a permanent state of chaos.”

 

“And you don’t?” I looked at my side of the room and gave him an innocent smile. He had a point.

 

He found his glove and we hurried to practice. We were getting closer to our next match against Hufflepuff and I wanted us to perfect a new strategy I had been working on. Padfoot walked with me in silence. Everyone in the team was waiting for us at the pitch. I immediately looked for Jocelyn only to realise she wasn’t there. This was very much unlike her. She had never missed a practice.

 

“Where’s Jo?” Sirius voiced my thoughts.

 

“Nobody knows, we thought she’d be coming down with you guys,” Cal replied.

 

“She’s never missed a practice before,” said Annie.

 

“She’s never even been late to a practice before.” Matt was right.

 

“I’ll go find her. I can’t really train without her,” said Padfoot. It annoyed me slightly (I was still a bit paranoid) but he was correct. 

 

“Okay, Sirius you go find Jocelyn, the rest of us, we start practice now. Warm up is three laps around the pitch. Come on!”

 

Everyone took off, and I turned to Padfoot quickly. “I think the map’s in my trunk,” he nodded, and ran off back towards the castle.

 

Sirius’ POV

 

The map was, indeed, in Prong’s trunk. I sat on his bed and opened it.

 

“I solemnly swear that I’m up to no good.”

 

I scanned the map carefully and realised with a jolt that Jocelyn was in McGonagall’s office. I knew Minerva loved Quidditch and was positive she would never, ever give a detention to Jocelyn, her star student, let alone one during Quidditch practice. Was Jocelyn in some sort of trouble?

 

I made my way to the transfiguration professor’s office and knocked on the door. I heard McGonagall’s voice from the inside “Come in,” so I did. Jocelyn was sat by the main desk, looking over a pile of parchments.

 

“Hello Professor McGonagall, I’m sorry to interrupt but we were worried about Jocelyn. She’s never missed Quidditch practice before,” she looked up at me with a horrified expression.

 

“Oh no!” she hit her forehead with her hand, “I’m so sorry. I totally lost track of time. I’m coming!” she stood up, putting all the papers neatly back in the pile.

 

“Good work today, Miss Silverway. I’ll see you in 30 days,” McGonagall dismissed us without another word, and we both walked out of the office.

 

“Is everything okay?” I asked Jocelyn as we hurried to Gryffindor Tower.

 

“Yes, yes. I’m sorry I didn’t realise how late it was. James must be fuming!” the fat lady let us in, and she sprinted up the stairs to her room to get changed. I saw a piece of parchment gently sway in the air and land on the floor at the bottom of the staircase.

 

Mandrake leaf 

Hair

Silver teaspoon of dew [note, must be untouched 7 days]

Chrysalis of a Death's-head Hawk Moth

 

I could not believe my eyes. These were the ingredients for the animagus transformation. Was this what McGonagall was working with Jocelyn on? Everyone knew that McGonagall had become an animagi at seventeen, aided by Dumbledore. It was rare that a teacher would offer their tutelage for a student to perform such advanced magic, but not unheard of. I wondered how far along Jo was. If this list was up to date, she had secured the mandrake leaf already. Had she started? That reminded me that it was a full moon tonight. We had to get ready to go with Remus to the Shrieking Shack right after practice.

 

If Jocelyn was going for it this month, she’d had a hard time. I remember when we did it. Both James and Peter messed up the mandrake leaf thing and had to wait a month to do it again. It was really tough.

 

“Let’s go!” Jocelyn ran back down the stairs into the common room and kept jogging to the portrait. I followed her. We ran all the way to the pitch, where the team were well into practice.

 

“Jo, you okay?” James flew down to almost ground level.

 

“I am so sorry, I was working with McGonagall and we lost track of time,” she jumped on her broom. “But we ran all the way from the common room, so we’ve warmed up.”

 

“We’ll schedule a catch-up session for Friday to make up for it, James,” I said. She tilted her head to the side and then nodded.

 

“That seems fair, we’ll do that,” she said. James nodded and we all flew together to join the rest of the team.

 

**

 

Dawn broke, and Moony started the painful transformation back to his usual self. I wasn’t one for sentimentalism, but it broke my heart that he had to go through this every single month. It was fucking unfair. When he was back to normal, he woke up with a gasp and looked around with wild eyes.

 

“You’re alright, we’re alright. It’s over,” Prongs told him. He nodded, still quiet.

 

“You feeling okay? We should probably make our way back,” the worst thing about winter was that dawn was late in the morning, making it an almost impossible feat to sneak back into the castle. If it weren’t for James’ cloak and the map, we wouldn’t have been able to keep it up.

 

“Yeah, Madam Pomfrey will be here any second now,” Moony said. James nodded and transformed back.

 

We ran through the tunnel, across the grounds and to the secret passage we used every morning after a full moon. By the time we made it to our first class of the day, we were exhausted. Thank Merlin it was a Wednesday and we had Charms, easy class. Jocelyn, Lily and Alice were waiting outside the classroom, whispering quietly in that way girls always do when they’re gossiping.

 

“Morning!” Lily was the first to spot us. I saw Alice look for Moony behind us, and the look of disappointment when she realised the he wasn’t coming.

 

“Where’s Remus?” Alice asked. “I didn’t see him last night either.”

 

“He had an accident in the greenhouse yesterday afternoon and Madame Pomfrey wanted to keep him in the infirmary to check all the poison was out of his system,” said Wormtail with conviction. This was exactly why we had appointed him the official spokesperson for Moony’s condition. He came up with the most reasonable and believable excuses, and they were all different every single month, so nobody noticed the pattern.

 

“Oh, I’ll go visit him after Charms, I’ve got a free period.”

 

“He’ll like that,” Wormtail smiled at Alice and she relaxed visibly.

 

“Here,” Jocelyn offered us her bag and I grabbed it quickly. I was starving. It had become a thing, every time we missed breakfast, she stole some food from the Hall and brought it to us. I swear if we could tell her our secrets, she’d be an honorary Marauder.

 

Munching on toast and apples we entered the classroom. “Hey, Black,” Jocelyn hung back a bit.

 

“What?”

 

“Since Remus isn’t here today, and you could really use some help with the Protean Charms, mind if sit with you?” I raised my eyebrow at her.

 

“Excuse me, but I do not need any help with Protean Charms,” I crossed my arms. “Just admit you want a piece of this awesomeness,” I teased.

 

“Yeah, I am desperate to rip your clothes off and there’s no better place than the middle of a Charms lesson,” she grinned. We walked over to the desk I usually shared with Moony and she dropped her bag.

 

“I thought you worked on Charms with Wood,” I whispered as we took out our books.

 

“It’s been super awkward with him since the party on Saturday, and I just don’t feel like enduring two hours of it.”

 

“What? Why?” this made no sense to me.

 

“Ehm… well, James and I… oh, for Merlin’s sake I can’t believe I’m telling you this. Anyway, I left the party with James and Matt didn’t like it. He had asked me out on a date and apparently thought we had something going on. He was well rude about the whole thing, too and he hasn’t apologised to me yet,” she blushed harder than I had ever seen her blush before.

 

I stared at her for a second, trying to fight against the familiar wave of irritation that engulfed me when I thought of her and James together. I was also severely pissed off at Wood. Who the hell did he think he was?

 

“Oh,” was all I managed to say.

 

My thoughts ran wild. They left the party together? Where did they go? I looked over at Prongs, who was oblivious to the internal turmoil I was going through. Had he slept with her? The intense pang of… whatever this was that hit me almost made me double over. It was a good thing I was sat down.

 

I glanced at Jocelyn, who was back to normal and setting up her desk to practice. She was so beautiful, and so, so damn sexy. It was infuriating. How could someone be so alluring yet so completely unaware of it? I watched as she bit her lip, something I’d noticed she did when she was either very focused or nervous, and read through the instructions for today’s new spell. She had to search her bag again for a spare parchment and her hair fell all over her as she reached down. It was like a dark chocolate fountain, silky and smooth. There was so much of it. I gripped the desk hard to stop myself from reaching out and touching it.

 

“Are you ready?” she asked, putting her parchment on the desk and flicking her hair back to look at me.

 

“I was born ready,” I replied. I had to keep my cool, I had to keep my cool, I had to keep my cool.

 

The next two hours were as close to torture as I had ever been. I didn’t know what was worse, the fact that everything Jocelyn did seemed to send my hormones into overdrive or the fact that she had absolutely no clue about it.

 

Jocelyn’s POV

 

I should have probably thought this thing through before I decided to start with it three days after the best make out session of my life. I was eager to become an animagus, and I didn’t want to wait any longer than necessary but holding a mandrake leaf in my mouth for an entire month meant I had to stay as far away from James as possible. Kissing was absolutely out of the question until the next full moon. McGonagall hadn’t told me explicitly that it was a secret, but it was kind of obvious that I wasn’t supposed to tell people about it. Teachers didn’t usually take students under tutelage for such extensive and complicated trainings. If rumours were true, McGonagall herself had been the last student to have such privilege, and it had been during her seventh year, not her sixth.  

 

I had no idea what I was going to do if James and I found ourselves alone, so I had resorted to avoiding it at all costs so I didn’t have to find out. A week in, I could tell he was growing increasingly irritated, but he was too much of a gentleman to say it. Unfortunately for me, Matt had been right that other people would want to ask me out, and that had not helped me avoid drawing attention to my leafy situation. A grand total of six guys had asked me out on dates or broom rides in the space of two weeks. I had only agreed to one, because Kenneth Winger rivaled with James and Sirius for the best-looking guy in school spot and he had never asked a girl from a lower year out before.

 

We had spent a very pleasant afternoon flying around Hogwarts grounds. He had even asked me to teach him some of my moves, which I did because he wasn’t on any Quidditch team. He had given me a sweet peck on the lips, promising more (if I wanted it) after a couple of dates. He told me he believed in proper romance, and I liked that. Nobody knew I had agreed to a second date (or even that I’d gone on a first one) with him except for Lily and Alice. They thought I was the luckiest witch alive with both James Potter and Kenneth Winger competing (inadvertently) for my affection.

 

Matt had finally apologized after a Quidditch practice, mostly because he was making it awkward and the entire team had caught on. I’d told him we could be friends but he basically had zero chance of anything ever happening between us. He’d taken it a lot more maturely, probably because he was stone cold sober.

 

My leafy situation also made Quidditch practice hard. I had to be super careful not to accidentally chew or swallow the leaf, and that was not an easy feat when furious bludgers were sent my way. Beater practice with Sirius was, however, surprisingly easy. He came up with things to try that didn’t involve strength, so the risk of accidentally crushing the leaf in my mouth was reduced. I was glad he was so keen on agility over strength; he was really helping me even if he didn’t know it. Luckily, the full moon had been at the end of January, so this bloody thing would be over before our game with Hufflepuff, which was scheduled for the first weekend in March. I had two more weeks to go, I could do this.

 

Aside from my little animagus prep work, life at Hogwarts kept going as usual. Or, should I say, better than usual for some people. Alice was over the moon. She had finally built up the courage to speak to Remus and, as it turned out, he was head over heels for her, too. So, they were now official. I was super happy for them. However, it did mean that my two closest friends were now coupled up and I was not only single but forced to avoid the person I thought I might want to couple up with. Wonderful. I wished the full moon hurried up so I could spit this leaf out.

 

“Jocelyn!” I halted and waited for Kenneth to catch up. I was on my way to the library to work on a potions assignment that Saturday morning. I had been out for a run and was feeling energized, exactly what I needed to get through the tedious research we had been given.

 

“Hi Ken.”

 

“Heading to the Library?”

 

“Yes, we’ve got a huge potions essay to write for Tuesday, and I haven’t started it yet.”

 

“I’ll walk you.”

 

“Thanks. What are you up to?”

 

“I have a meeting with the head of my house in a bit to discuss career options,” he said, casually.

 

“Do you know what you want to do?” I asked him.

 

“I always thought I wanted to work for the Ministry, something like foreign affairs. But now… I think maybe trying auror training is the right thing to do.”

 

“You mean because some people have gone missing?”

 

“Yeah. There’s rumours that something bad is brewing. Some people believe a dark wizard might be rising.”

 

“What, like another Grindewald?” if what Ken was telling me was true, this was some serious stuff. We hadn’t had a threat like Grindewald’s in a long time.

 

“Yeah, that’s the rumour anyway. Nobody knows what’s going on for sure. It could be nothing.”

 

“I think it’s very noble you want to try being an auror, but I also think you should follow your heart. Do what you want to do, there’ll always be ways of helping and giving back,” I said. We had arrived at the library now, so I turned to him before entering.

 

“Thanks Jocelyn. Anyway, you still on for Wednesday?”

 

“Yes, I’ll meet you by the Quidditch pitch at five,” he smiled and with a wave of his hand, walked away.

 

**

 

I came back to the common room a lot later than I had planned to. Ken and I had had another brilliant ‘date’. I had a hard time seeing this as a romantic situation when all we did was fly around and practice pirouettes, which was probably why I had agreed to a third one. I had realised that I wasn’t really interested in exploring the possibility of getting romantically involved with anyone that wasn’t James. It was getting more and more difficult every day to stay away from him. I spent half of my time thinking about him. I knew I had to come clean to Ken and explain to him that this just wasn’t going to work, but both Alice and Lily insisted that James could do with a bit of healthy competition. The problem with that was that James needed to know he had competition in order for their theory to be valid, and he still didn’t.

 

“Hey, Josie,” crap. Crap, crap, crap. What was he doing in the common room at this hour?

 

“James,” I squeaked.

 

“What have you been up to?” he asked casually. He waved me over to the sofa. I sat down next to him.

 

“Oh, just flying for a bit.”

 

“With Kenneth Winger?” shit. Shit, shit, shit. How did he know that?

 

“Mmm… yeah…” I bit my lip, looking everywhere but at James.

 

“Is there something you’d like to tell me?” he asked. I wanted to strangle him. Why was he doing this to me?

 

“There’s nothing going on with Ken, if that’s what you’re worried about, but I thought... well, I... never mind. It's nothing serious, just a couple of flying lessons,” I said, looking at the floor.

 

“It’s cool if there is, I just want to know. We haven’t really talked about… well, about ‘us’ so you are free to do what you want. But, I’d like to know, that’s all,” he looked slightly deflated, like his ego was hurt. This was interesting. I hadn't considered that James might actually care. Like me, yes. Care about me, I hadn't even thought about it.

 

I suddenly felt extremely guilty and extremely foolish. This wasn't what I wanted. I did not date multiple people at the same time. It was wrong. And, with the things that James' sheepish look was doing to my stomach, I knew who I wanted to focus on.

 

“James, I am not seeing Ken. He asked me out for a broom ride I said yes, we had fun, so we went again.”

 

“Jo, you are either the most naïve person in the world or you think I’m stupid,” he gave me a pointed look.

 

“I do not think you stupid. You are one of the smartest people I know. And I’m not naïve, I know Ken’s interested but nothing has happened, and nothing is going to happen,” I sighed. “If anything did happen, however, I would tell you.”

 

“Do you want that?”

 

“What? To be with Ken?” he nodded. “No, no I don’t.”

 

“Why have you been avoiding me, then?”

 

“I haven’t been avoiding you…” he raised an eyebrow at me. “Well… maybe a little bit?” I held my fingers in the air making a ‘tiny’ gesture with my thumb and index finger.

 

“Why?”

 

“I’m a bit overwhelmed. With the N.E.W.T.s, our homework levels have skyrocketed, and add to that Quidditch practice, and my extra work with McGonagall… well, I just feel I haven’t had any time to myself lately. I just sometimes like to be on my own, so I’ve tried to take as much time as I could back,” all of this was true, except I felt absolutely no need to be away from James at all. I would have happily given up all my ‘me’ time to spend it with him, if it wasn’t for the fact I had to hold a freaking mandrake leaf in my mouth for an entire month.

 

“Ah, well, you could have just told me, you know? If you need space you can just ask for it,” he said, capturing a lock of hair that had escaped my bun with his fingers.

 

“I’m sorry,” I said. I was acutely aware of the building tension, and needed to make an exit immediately if I didn’t want to have to start over the whole leaf thing.

 

“There’s a Hogsmeade visit two weeks from now, the weekend before our game against Hufflepuff, and I would like to take you out on a proper date. What do you say?” my mouth dropped unattractively. I was so not expecting that, but the minute he asked, I knew it was exactly what I had been hoping for even though I didn’t know it.

 

“Yes. I say yes, James,” I smiled at him and gave him a super quick peck on the lips, standing up immediately after. He protested mildly. “If you’re going to take me out on a date, then you’ll have to wait until then.”

 

“You should have told me this before I asked you out, I would have come up with something way sooner than Hogsmeade,” he complained. I chuckled.

 

“Good night, James.”

 

“Good night, Jo.”

 

**

 

The full moon was tonight. Finally. I thought it was never going to arrive. Everything was ready, I was ready. I had not failed a single sunrise or sundown to do the incantation and the mandrake leaf was still safely in my mouth. I just had to make it through one more day and pray to Merlin it wouldn’t be cloudy that night. This had been the longest and most difficult month of my entire life. Keeping it a secret from Lily and Alice had been one of the hardest parts and not just because I wasn’t used to lying to them, but because it is hard work to hide before sunrise so I could do the incantation before them knowing, and again at sundown to repeat the process.

 

Lily knew I was up to something, and I’d caught her eyeing me suspiciously a few times, but I didn’t want to tell them until I had achieved the transformation. For some strange reason, I felt that I had to do this completely alone. McGonagall didn’t count.

 

What was even stranger was that I had also caught Sirius staring a few times. Every time it happened, I thought to ask him what it was about, but I was so busy I always forgot to do it.

 

It was Wednesday, which meant we had Charms first thing in the morning. But first, breakfast.

 

“I am so tired,” Alice complained as we walked towards the Great Hall.

 

“If you hadn’t stayed up with Remus until midnight, you wouldn’t be,” Lily and I said in unison. She blushed.

 

“Well, he is busy tonight, so I’ll get to sleep.”

 

“What’s he up to tonight?” I asked, curious.

 

“Some prank with the boys,” Alice shrugged. We sat at the Gryffindor table and poured some coffee. Alice filled her mug up to the brim.

 

“Good morning!” Peter greeted us loudly.

 

“How do you have so much energy so early in the morning?” Alice groaned.

 

“I just do,” Peter smiled and sat next to Lily, who was chopping fruit and mixing it with yogurt.

 

“Hello,” I jumped a little on my seat when James whispered in my ear. How had he got here?

 

“Hi,” I said and shuffled down the bench so he could sit next to me. Sirius sat on the other side of me, despite the fact that there was clearly not enough space for us three. This had become one of many annoying habits of them. Everywhere I went, Sirius seemed to materialize to my left and James to my right. I wouldn’t have minded if it wasn’t for the murderous looks I got from the general female population of the school on a daily basis.

 

“Erhm… guys, I am a bit squished here.”

 

“Do you know how many girls would kill for a Sirius and James sandwich?” said Sirius. I looked at him, incredulous.

 

“A lot, apparently,” I heard Lily. I looked at her over the table in shock. Traitor.

 

“What?”

 

“I heard Iris talking about exactly that a couple of days ago outside the library,” she said matter-of-factly.

 

“Excuse me?” how irritating was this Iris idiot? Since the party a few weeks ago, she’d hooked up with Sirius at least three times that I knew off. I really didn’t like her, she distracted him and had made him late for our beaters practice once.

 

“Do tell!” Black was beaming, clearly very pleased with this information. James was trying really hard to not let it show that he also thought this was some great news. Ugh.

 

“Not much to tell, other than apparently a lot of girls have weird sexual fantasies involving you two together,” she said. I choked on my coffee.

 

“Together, together?” I had to ask. Both Sirius and James looked at me with interest.

 

“They didn’t specify, so I don’t know,” Lily shrugged. I could tell she found this hilarious underneath the cool facade.

 

“What do you think, though?” Black asked her. She seemed totally unfazed by this conversation, whilst I was struggling hard to not hyperventilate. I did not like how much I was liking the images my mind was conjuring.

 

“I think together as in, you know, doing stuff with both of you, not you together with each other,” she said, simply. James made a strangled noise.

 

“Why would anyone think of us together with each other?” he looked horrified.

 

“I’ll have you know I am so irresistible even men fall at my feet,” Sirius boasted. I laughed.

 

“You’re practically my brother, it’d be like incest,” James pointed out. Sirius nodded solemnly at that.

 

“I don’t think anyone thinks of you and him together, James. More like, at the same time, like Lily said,” Alice chimed in. Remus gave her a funny look. “I don’t,” she quickly said.

 

“And you? What do you think, Jocelyn?” Black irritated me at least a few times a week, sometimes to the point I yelled at him and he yelled back, but it had been a long while since I wanted to outright murder him like I did that moment.

 

I didn’t know what to say. If I refused to answer, it would be suspicious. Against my better judgement, I did think of him that way a lot more than I was willing to admit to anyone, even myself. I could lie and say that only thought of James but that was super corny and just not something I wanted to say out loud to everyone. It was also not true. I opted for the best middle ground: a joke.

 

“I’m the only lucky girl in the entire school who is often in a Sirius and James sandwich, so I don’t need to wonder, I know,” I said casually. “I don’t see what all the fuss is about.”

 

That had Remus, Peter, Lily and Alice in stitches. James and Sirius both were looking at me with completely different but very odd expressions on their faces. I shrugged and finished my coffee.

 

“We’re going to be late.” I stood up, not without difficulty given I had very little space to move, and gestured for everyone to hurry up.

 

That Wednesday was one of the longest days ever. Every minute seemed to take forever, but, eventually, the sun set. I told the girls I had extra work with McGonagall that evening and left. I knocked on her door and she invited me in.

 

“Are you ready, miss Silverway?”

 

“I am/”

 

“Has everything gone to plan?”

 

“Yes, I’ve kept the leaf without incident and I have done the incantation every sunrise and sunset without fail. I also have the ingredients ready, minus the one you offered to get for me,” I took out the vial with the items in it and showed it to her.

 

“Excellent. You must now go outside and position yourself somewhere the moonlight hits directly and spit out the leaf into this phial. The moon rays must be shinning on the phial, or it won’t work,” she explained. I nodded. We had gone over this a million times. “Then, you put the ingredients you have in your vial into the phial and take it to a quiet, dark place. That cabinet over there will serve. I’ll leave the door enchanted so it opens for you. I won’t be here, for you must be undisturbed.”

 

“I got it,” I nodded with confidence.

 

“Wonderful. If all goes well tonight, you’ll be very close to achieving your transformation,” she said. “Do you have any idea what animal you think you might turn into?”

 

This was the only thing we had never discussed. McGonagall always said there was no point, because it wasn’t up to us. I was surprised she asked me, but answered truthfully.

 

“I have never casted a patronus, so no, I have no idea.”

 

“It’ll be interesting to see,” she said. I nodded again.

 

“Good luck,” she wished me. I took the vial in which she had put the final ingredient, the phial for the potion, her note that I was allowed to be out past curfew (in case I ran into a patrol coming back) and my wand. 

 

“Miss Silverway!” I turned around as McGonagall poked her head out of her office.

 

“Yes?”

 

“I recommend you go towards the greenhouses,” she said. I nodded.

 

Following her advice, I made my way to the back of the castle and prepared. When the moon reached its highest point, I made sure to be standing with the phial up and fully illuminated by the silver rays and, finally, spit the mandrake leaf out. I proceeded to mix the other ingredients into the phial and, once successfully secured and closed, hurried back to the castle as fast as my feet would carry me. I made to McGonagall’s office without difficulty and placed the precious phial in the cabinet she had prepared for me.

 

When I shut the door behind me, I felt incredibly happy and proud of myself. The hardest part was over, and I was confident I’d done a good job. I decided to take the route through the bridge back to the Gryffindor Tower to have a last look at the full moon that I was sure would grant me my animagus transformation. It was such a clear and beautiful night that I took a moment to just stand there by one of the archways and look over the grounds.

 

A terrifying shriek, followed by a wolf’s howl shook me to my core. I saw three figures moving in the distance by the edge of the Forbidden Forest and decided that I had had enough of the grounds. Merlin only knew what creatures were out and about in the forest tonight, and I didn’t want to find out. Not even from my very safe spot high above the grounds.



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