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disclaimer: you know the deal It was nearing the end of October. The daylight hours were getting shorter and the weather was getting colder. Lily had been keeping herself busy to avoid James. That was becoming an easy task as their first set of essays had been assigned, and on top of that, planning for the Halloween feast had to be done. The little talking she and James had done for it had been straight to the point, and even at that she refused to look him in the eye. It was a week before Halloween and Lily was struggling with a Transfiguration essay. Though she had always maintained top marks, she had had to work extremely hard to understand and succeed in Transfiguration. This particular essay on Animagi was stressing her out to no end. She couldn’t understand how it worked for the life of her. After throwing her quill down angrily, she groaned in frustration and rubbed her temples with her finger tips. James looked up from revising his newly completed essay. Without even thinking of how she had been ignoring him for the past month, he stood up from his desk and crossed the room to hers. “Can I give you a hand with anything, Evans?” he asked uncertainly, scratching the back of his head. Lily looked up at him, surprised that he would talk to her let alone offer to help her out, after the way she had been treating him lately. “No, it’s just this essay,” she sighed quietly. “I just don’t understand it at all.” He leaned over her to read what she was working on, and his face lit up at the sight of it. “You’re in luck. Just so happens I’m and expert on the subject.” After the words had left his mouth, he mentally kicked himself for sounding so cocky about it. Not even noticing this, Lily perked up a little, more eager than she ever thought possible to be speaking to him again. James took this as a good sign and summoned his chair over from his desk. It came to rest beside Lily’s and he sat in it, a smile forming on his face. “So, what do you need to know?” Lily carefully chose her words, as being this close to him made her slightly nervous. “Well... I suppose I just don’t understand how it works... do they just have to think about it and it happens, or...?” James squinted his eyes in concentration, thinking of what he thought of, since he himself was an unregistered Animagus. “Kind of. It’s kind of like when you make a Patronus.” He stood form his chair and conjured a silver stag to trot around the room. A gasp escaped Lily’s lips as James commanded it to prance over to her. “James, I had no idea you could do that! It’s wonderful!” The stag began to fade after a moment, and Lily turned to see that James had lowered his wand and was wearing and uncharacteristically odd smile on his face. She looked at him curiously for a moment before asking, “are you alright?” “Hm?” He looked at her as if suddenly pulled from a trance. Lily giggled. “I asked if you were alright. You got this strange look on your face all of a sudden.” “Oh, no, sorry, I’m fine,” James grinned back at her. He had been shocked that she had called him by his first name. She usually referred to him ad ‘Potter’ or else didn’t address him at all. He shook his head and decided to keep this to himself. “So, where were we? Oh, right, how to do it. You have to concentrate really hard when you’re doing it, not a specific happy memory like with a Patronus, but more just a general... I guess just seeing yourself doing it in your mind. Like with any other magic, it does get easier the more you do it, though.” “So,” Lily cut in, working things through in her mind, “so, that’s all one would have to do in the beginning to become and Animagus? Or... no, that can’t be it, otherwise everyone would be doing it, wouldn’t they?” A mischievous glint crossed James’ eyes. “That’s where the tricky bit of magic comes in. See, there’s weeks, months, and even years worth of preparations and potions to make, things that have to be done at precisely the right cycle of the moon, or changing of the tides, or with a very rare and specific type of ingredient. Even after all that’s done with, there’s still all of the mental and physical preparation to go through,” he chuckled, adding as an after thought, “ registration with the Ministry, of course...” Lily looked at James as a very curious expression crossed face. “How come you know so much about this?” James had expected this question. He stared into her eyes for a few moments, weighing his options, before he spoke. “The others would skin me alive if they knew I told you this, but I can appreciate that you’re someone I can trust with my life.” Lily blushed at this, then felt a stab of guilt as she remembered how she had been treating him since the moment she had met him. She decided she would make up for this. Staring back at him, she implored him to continue. He leaned forward on Lily’s desk, his gaze never leaving hers. “The reason I know so much about this is because I am one.” A familiar rush of sarcasm rose up in her as she scoffed, “oh, right, and I’m a monkey’s uncle. I don’t know much about this subject, but I do know that there are only a select few registered in the world, Potter, and you’re not one of them.” “That’s right, registered being the key word.” The sarcasm left Lily as she stopped and looked at the seriousness in his eyes. “You can’t be serious?” James nodded in response. “Sirius and Peter, too.” There were a few moments of silence as Lily stared at him in bewilderment. Finally, she let out a whispered, “how...?” He gave her an awkward smile. “Just like I told you. I was back in... third year, I believe,” he said, squinting slightly and looking up at the ceiling as though it would help him remember. “So... so... why? I don’t understand what possessed– wait– what– what about Remus? You four always to everything together, and you said that only you and Peter and Sirius can do it, so what about him?” Lily’s mind was racing with questions. James looked up, a little worried about revealing a secret that wasn’t his own. “We honestly did it for Remus. And Lily,” James sat closer to her, urgency in his face and voice, “that’s why you have to promise me on your family’s lives that you won’t breathe a word to anyone or treat him any differently because of it.” She looked suddenly frightened. “What? James– is he ok? Is something wrong with him?” When James finally spoke it was I hushed tones. “Back before we even started here, when he was young... he... Remus, he, he was bitten by a werewolf.” A gasp escaped Lily’s lips. “I– I– I had no idea...” “No one does, except Professor Dumbledore, a few other Professors, his parents, the rest of the Marauders, and, well, you.” “S– so every full moon, he, he...?” James nodded solemnly. “But Lily, you know him, he’s a good person, you can’t let this change the way you think of him.” Taking in a shuddering breath, she nodded in agreement. “And besides that,” James ducked his head in closer to hers, “he’s not really that dangerous...we keep him in check pretty good. As long as we’re around, he won’t hurt anybody.” Lily looked suddenly scared again. “But how could you? There’s no way that three boys, wizard or not, could keep a werewolf under control!” “First of all, we’re not boys, we’re men.” James said with a grin. “And second, of course we don’t go near him like this. That’s what we became Animagi for.” “Hm,” she responded, biting her lip. “So, could you– I mean, could I, erm, oh...” Lily stuttered embarrassingly, wringing her hands tightly. “Do you want me to show you?” James asked her, a little surprised. She looked up to meet his eyes, an expression like a child on Christmas morning behind her gaze. Then she nodded her head eagerly. Looking around the room, James used his wand to push all of the furniture as close to the walls as possible so that there was a wide open area in the center of the common room. Need as much room as I can get. Here, hold this.” He tossed his wand at Lily. James stood in the middle of the room, his eyes closed, thinking hard on what he was trying to accomplish. He felt the familiar pressure of added weight on his head as it began to lower slightly, while simultaneously he could feel his rib cage shift and contort and his legs (now four of them) become stronger. When he opened his eyes to look at Lily, she was one her feet, breathing quickly, a look of astonishment written on her face. She was staring at James– at least, she was staring at the place James had been moments before. Now, in the center of their common room, stood a gorgeous stag with large antlers on top of it’s head. Its eyes seemed to smile at her as it bent it’s head non-threateningly and began to walk slowly towards her. As it got closer, Lily began to grin as she recognized some distinguishing features, like the gold-flecked brown eyes and the messy tuft of hair between the antlers that stuck up in all the same places that James’ did. When he stopped a few feet in front of her, she took the last few tentative steps towards him. She circled him, taking in every detail. Though she wouldn’t admit it to him, she was extremely impressed with all the work he had put into learning how to do this, and even moreso with the knowledge of why he did it. Lily had never imagined he could be so dedicated to something and someone else other than himself, and she decided she really liked that quality. When she had come full circle and was again in front of him, she reached her hand out to stroke the messy tuft of hair when she paused, her hand just above him. After a moment of decided whether or not it was ok to do so, James nodded his head up until he felt her hand. He received and smile and messed up hair in return. James the stag stepped back from her and shook his head. A few moments later, James the seventeen-year-old wizard was sitting n the common room floor grinning up at her. Lily looked at James as though she had never seen him before, then chuckled as she extended her hand to help him to his feet.

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