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Chapter Twelve – The Gingerbread House James, Lily and Harry arrived at Hogwarts just as the students were starting lunch. They entered the Entrance Hall and smiled as students bustled past them into the Great Hall, giving them confused looks as they passed. Lily smiled at them; she remembered her time here only too well, visitors rarely entered the school. They walked up the many flights of stairs, James forgetting to jump the trick stair and sunk down to his knee before Lily took pity and pulled him up. They passed The Gryffindor Tower portrait- the Fat Lady recognised them and waved in delight. Finally they reached the majestic gargoyle that guarded the entrance to the Headmasters Office. “Fruit Jubes,” James said and the gargoyle sprang to life. Lily went first up the stairs while James carried Harry. Inside Dumbledore’s office already sat Remus Lupin, Sirius Black and to James’ disgust, Severus Snape and of course Dumbledore himself. “Lily, long time no kisses,” Sirius leapt to his feet as she entered and swept her into a huge bear hug. She laughed and gently pushed herself away, though not before giving Sirius a friendly kiss. “Remus, Dumbledore, it is good to see you again. Hello Severus,” she added as an afterthought. Remus rose and wrapped Lily in his arms, though his hug was gentler than Sirius. “Right,” Dumbledore clapped his hands together. “Now that you’re here we an get started. James, Lily if you’d like to take a seat. Oh and for Harry…” He waved his wand and suddenly Harry was sitting inside a playhouse made entirely of candy. “That should keep him busy for awhile.” “Oh how sweet Dumbledore,” Lily exclaimed. “It looks exactly like the witch’s house in Hansel and Gretel.” James looked at her strangely, “Hansel and Gretel?” “Oh, it’s a Muggle fairytale story about two little children who get lost in a forest and meet a witch who has a house made out of candy. The witch takes the children in and fattens the boy with candy so she can cook him and eat him but the girl saves her brother and shoves the witch into the oven instead. The little house looks just like the witch’s house.” James nodded but it was clear he didn’t really understand what she was talking about. Lily decided the next time they went into London she’d find a Muggle bookstore and buy a copy of the classic children’s tale. “I don’t have all day Headmaster, could we begin soon?” Snape’s voice came icily from one side of the room. Lily hastily sat down at his words but James took his time, showing Snape that he didn’t take orders from anyone but Dumbledore. “Certainly Severus, certainly,” Dumbledore sat in the chair behind his desk and looked around at the group. “Voldemort is planning an attack on Hogwarts at Christmas. My guess is he plans to attack during the Christmas feast, as the whole school will be in one place and he’ll think it easier to take control of most of the castle. Now we have three Guards coming early tomorrow morning who will be positioned in shifts around the grounds. No one, absolutely no one, can Apparate into Hogwarts grounds, they have to enter by foot.” “His army is not small Dumbledore. He has at least ten thousand witches, wizards and the creatures of Salazar Slytherin at his disposal,” Snape cut in. “True, the Order is not that big. We have only half that number. But the members of the Order are more trained and the ministry will respond at once if we send a call for help. It is only the initial fights in which we will be outnumbered.” “And what if you reach the wrong members of the Ministry? I guarantee you that the Dark Lord will have thought to make sure one of his Death Eaters who works at the ministry volunteers to work through Christmas.” Dumbledore smiled, “Ahh, but I have done the same thing. Rupert Figg will be working overtime catching up on paperwork.” Lily nudged James as he smirked gleefully at Snape. “And Headmaster, what of the students?” “You will remember on many an occasion during your time here, Lily, the students were locked into their common room for their own safety. On Christmas day the students will remain in their common rooms and feast there. It’s the only way we’ll be able to control them.” Lily’s smiled faded. Christmas at Hogwarts to her had always been about a routine; opening presents in the morning, lounging around the common room playing chess and Exploding Snap, the snowball fight and finally the delicious feast in the beautifully decorated Hall. But then to lose one Christmas seemed a small price to never seeing another day again. “The Slytherins, won’t some of them tell their parents and warn them of what you intend?” Lupin sat forward in his seat. “Many of their parents and the students themselves are connected to Lord Voldemort.” “The students won’t be told till Christmas morning when they are all already in their common rooms and can’t talk to the other houses. Slytherin House won’t be told of the real reason they are being locked in, we’ll get Professor Saniach to tell them a troll has entered the castle.” As Lupin nodded Snape let out a yowl of pain. He fell to the floor clutching his right arm by the wrist. Dumbledore quickly knelt beside him and drew back the arm of his robe. There, quite evident against Snape’s pale white skin was the Dark Mark. It was vivid black but had a sort of neon green glow to it. “He’s…calling…us,” Snape gasped out, his faced screwed in pain. “He’s happy, very happy.” “But he shouldn’t be. He doesn’t have the Essence of Power, he can’t win the battle,” James paused and his hazel eyes narrowed. “Unless he tricked us, unless there is more potion.” “There isn’t” Snape gasped again. Then suddenly the pain subsided and he released his death grip on his arm. “The vial I broke was it. It was all I managed to successfully produce.” “Why do you trust him Dumbledore? After all he’s done you’ve let him walk in here and you trust him completely. He smashes a vial of a potion, it might not even have been an all important potion – it could have been purple food colouring and water for all we know!” Sirius burst out from the other side of the room from Snape. “Headmaster I told you this would happen. I told you to do the test in front of them. They’ll never trust me, not unless you do it.” “Test?” Lily asked quietly. “What test?” “A Veriatus test. To see if what Snape here says is true, that he has left Voldemort and that the vial was the only potion produced.” Lupin explained while Snape and Sirius glared at each in an unofficial staring contest. “But that has to be done with a potion and the Ministry controls the use of Veritserum,” Lily was obviously confused. “Ah yes,” Snape turned away from Sirius’ gaze. “But Dumbledore here possess the unique power to be able to perform the Veritas curse with his wand.” Lily didn’t looked shocked at this news, simply nodded. James looked around room quickly and looked as if he had just realised something for the first time. “Padfoot, where’s Peter?” Sirius too looked around the room. “I have no idea. I contacted him last night and he said he could be here. I guess he forgot or something. I think he said he’d be finished with Guard duty around then.” “Guard Duty?” Lupin asked. “But Peter isn’t assigned to a Guard, none of us are except Sirius. You must have heard him wrong Padfoot.” Sirius shook his head. “No, I’m sure he mentioned Guard duty. Said he’d been rostered for the night shift but had swapped cause some guy wanted to be off while his wife was in labour.” Lupin turned to Dumbledore now, “Sir, is Peter in a Guard at the moment?” Dumbledore shook his head slowly. “He asked not to be placed in one so that he could still move around, recruit new wizards to the Order.” “Don’t you see? Are you blind due to the closeness of you friend? Peter Pettigrew is with Lord Voldemort, he is his servant,” Snape looked from one to the other with disbelief written on his face. “Snape, I swear one more word about Peter being a spy or a Dark wizard and I will personally cut your tongue from your throat and see that you are thrown into Azkaban.” James took a step toward Snape but was stopped by Dumbledore stepping between the two men. “Calm yourself James. Severus, I would prefer it if you did not call a trusted member of the Order a Spy. Peter Pettigrew is not capable of Dark Magic, he would be of no use to Lord Voldemort.” Snape nodded curtly to the Headmaster and turned to leave the room. As he left he could feel three cold stares of the Marauders following him out. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Hey guys I know its been awhile but I got a little stuck for ideas. Anyway it might be a long time again till the next one im really sorry but im just into the last 4 weeks of the school year and everythings so hectic with end of year assignments and things but once schools over my stories will have a lot of undivided attention I promise! BI

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