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A/N: I have written and rewritten this chapter about three or four times, so that is part of the reason for the very long delay. I am sorry about that, but hopefully this makes up for it, and now that I'm finally pleased with this chapter I hope you are too. Chapter 10 shouldn't take as long, because it's really a continuation of this chapter, but it might still be a good wait.

~Jaggy~







"No Evans! Peppermint! It'll help and—"

James frowned and fought the urge to walk in and slap the owner of that voice for speaking to Lily like that, but she had the situation under control as her own words quickly proved.

"I'm well aware of what it'll do, just shut up for a minute and let me show you. Then you can comment on my potions making skills, alright?" Lily snapped, though she did it softly and with, James shuttered to think it, mild friendliness. Why in the world she chose to be nice to him was beyond James' thinking capabilities. Alas, sympathy helped to make Lily the beautiful person James was so infatuated with, regardless of the whelps she wasted such beauty with.

"Fine, but don't say I didn't warn you."

Again, James could not understand why Lily chose to work with such a greasy jerk. He let a light smile flicker on his face as he mentally pictured Lily rolling her eyes and doing what she thought would work best. No, not thought, it was what she knew would work best. Her intuition in Potions was one of the best in the school. Better than that git's even, he just refused to admit it.

"Now add your peppermint," she said in a knowing tone.

Unable to fight his curiosity any longer, James peaked through the cracked door to the Potions classroom. The rusted old room was blanketed in a pale light from two torches, the flames of which flickered, casting odd shadows in some of the darker corners. Neither Lily nor her greased partner seemed to take this into consideration. Despite his obvious hesitation, Lily's partner did as he as instructed, cringing. She laughed in amusement at his surprised expression as the potion bubbled and boiled perfectly. His jaw dropped in mild surprise, and his black eyes watched the potion turn a perfect shade of puce, better than it was supposed to. James had listened to enough of the conversation and read enough of his Potions book to know the potion.

"Didn't think my intuition was right, did you Snape?"

"I'll admit I had my doubts, oh wipe that smirk off your face, Evans," he snapped moodily. "I've been right before too you know."

"I'm aware of that fact," she said, still smirking. "But you always seem so surprised whenever my intuition is better than yours. Which I would like to note, happens more often than not and you know it."

"Shut up."

Lily grinned again before looking down at her watch. James felt his heart soar as she looked mildly anxious upon realizing her punctuality was now in question.

"Damn it, I'm late," she muttered. Snape looked over at her curiously.

"For what?" he asked her, his voice softer than it had been earlier. James grit his teeth, Snape could not be talking to Lily like that either. He hated Muggleborns. Actually, it would be best if Snape just didn't talk to Lily. He was a freak who wasn't worthy of Lily's time.

"James," Lily answered, snapping James back to attention. For a moment he thought he'd been caught eavesdropping, but she continued answering Snape's question. "We've got a Transfiguration project to finish."

Snape scowled, and James could see that Lily was trying to ignore it. He tilted his head a bit, and pushed his rectangular glasses up farther on the bridge of his nose. He couldn't be seeing right. Lily was flat out refusing to acknowledge that Snape was disapproving her partner without speaking? Was she backing out of a fight that would ensue over her being friends with James? He knew the two of them had been in plenty of fights over her decision to befriend Snape.

None of the Marauders really approved of Lily's friendship with Snape. Sirius and James were often out right cruel about it. Talking about how the greasy git didn't deserve her attention, while Peter would simply nod in agreement. Remus was usually much nicer in his view on Lily's judgment, but he didn't ridicule Snape in front of her.

"Do you always have to come when one of them calls you?" Snape's voice was much harsher than it had been moments ago. James felt anger ruffle under him at Snape's words, and he too wore a scowl.

"No, but they are my friends Snape," she said lightly, but warningly. They obviously had this conversation many times before. James could tell by the exhausted tone in Lily's voice. It sounded oddly like the tone she wore when turning him down again and again... "I come when my friends need me."

"They're brutes," he murmured.

"They're boys," she responded automatically. James grinned again glad that Lily was defending them for once, instead of Snape. "You've gotten your share of tricks on them too."

"You've been very buddy-buddy with Black since school started, even more after that attack back in September," Snape said darkly. James' grin suddenly fell and he grew stiff as he continued to listen. "Going on all those long walks and what not, haven't you Evans?"

"That's none of your business," Lily growled. "And if anything James and I have been getting closer lately, thank you very much. Since Hogsmeade we're on much better terms. He's not quite as pigheaded as we make him out to be."

Earlier suspicions long forgotten, James knew in that moment he could die happy. Lily Evans said that he wasn't pigheaded. So she actually said he wasn't as pigheaded as she had been led to believe, but it was the same difference in James' eyes. Snape scoffed, muttering darkly about how the world would stop spinning if James Potter was anything but pigheaded. James couldn't even bring himself to scowl at Snape.

"Yes, but you and Potter don't get into long conversations without arguing, do you? Black and you on the other hand, get along much better. You spend far more time with him than Potter."

Ok, now James could scowl, his suspicions were back. Lily and Sirius did spend a lot of time together. But they were just friends, and Sirius could use a friend like Lily. He had such a dark past and Lily was so...bright and happy. She was...perfect. James frowned. He had fallen for Lily without spending much time with her...what would stop Sirius, who spent tons of time with her, from doing the same? James scolded himself. Sirius was his best mate, and that fact alone would stop him. It just had to.

"Once more, I was unaware that it was any of your business who I choose to spend my time with," she said, her voice sounding annoyed now. "Nor do I know why you've been paying so much attention to it, but I would rather you didn't. I can choose who I want to spend my time with just fine without your interference."

Deciding that Lily might have forgotten about meeting him by now, James opened the door. That and he didn't like the strange and uncalled for thoughts about Sirius and Lily he kept having. Sirius would not do that to him.

He cleared his throat when the two failed to notice his entrance. He avoided smirking at Snape, who had paled at the sight of him. Lily looked surprised for a moment before she gave James a sheepish grin.

"Oh, hello James," she said, sounding startled. "How long have you been standing there?"

"Just got here," he lied, ignoring Snape, who had exchanged his cowardly look for a cold glare. "You didn't show up at the Library, and you mentioned that you were going to be down here before hand, so I thought I'd come look for you. I was a bit worried."

"You? You're capable of worry?" Snape snapped, much colder than he'd ever been during his conversation with Lily. "One really does learn something new everyday..."

"Hush, Snape," Lily said sharply, grabbing James' wrist to keep him from snatching out his wand and hexing Snape. James felt his spirits lift at the soft touch of Lily's hands. She said a few more words to Snape that James didn't catch in his sudden bliss, but he could tell Snape didn't like it. She turned back to face James, and he paid attention now; mostly because she'd released his wrist.

"I'll be done in a few minutes James," she said, giving him a slightly forced smile. He could tell she wasn't happy that she'd had to restrain him, even if only a bit, from Snape. "If you'll wait for me outside I'll walk back to the Library with you."

Damn she was good, James decided, his heart racing excitedly as he did as she requested. He couldn't believe his own ears. Lily was going to walk with him to the Library. She held onto his wrist with her angelic hands, and her words made Snape's already ugly face contort even more in a distasteful frown. He was so lost in his own amazement over Lily that he forgot to eavesdrop on the rest of her and Snape's conversation. In fact, he was so busy daydreaming about what else Lily might someday let him do that the real Lily had to tap him on the shoulder when she'd slipped out of the classroom to get his attention back on her.

"You alive there James?" she inquired, giving him a somewhat amused grin.

James laughed as his focus returned to the redhead in front of him.

"And kicking," he smirked. "Now I do believe you said you would accompany me to the Library?"

"That I did," she laughed as he bowed deeply.

"So," James said putting his hands behind his back as they walked out of the dungeons. "There's another Hogsmeade trip coming up next weekend."

From the corner of his eye, he saw Lily's grip on her books tighten. He frowned slightly, knowing she knew what he was going to ask. He put his hands in his pockets and let the unasked question hang in the air for her to think on. His heart was racing slightly, he and Lily were starting to be on much better terms, just like she'd told Snape. Maybe this trip around there wouldn't be Death Eaters...maybe this trip around they wouldn't argue...maybe this trip around it would be an actual date.

"So there is," she said lightly. James took it as a positive sign, she hadn't turned him down yet, and that was defiantly a good thing.

"Any chance you'd like to join just me this time?"

A soft sigh escaped Lily's lips, and for a moment James thought she was going to agree.

"No."

"Why?" he asked, his heart sinking. His frown deepened.

"James...I can't."

"Sure you can. It's easy, all you do is say, sure James I'd love to go on a date with you, and then I pick you up earlier in the morning we go to Hogsmeade together, spend the day laughing, playing, you letting me woo you, and everything goes—"

"Not like that," Lily said exasperated. She stopped walking and he turned towards her, leaning slightly on the banister of the staircase they were climbing. She seemed to be figuring out how to best tell him why she wouldn't date him. "Let's just work on being friends first, ok? Maybe once we're great friends you'll realize you don't want me to be a girlfriend."

"Or maybe you'll realize how much you love me."

"That'll be the day," Lily laughed as they continued their climb to the Library. James got the distinct feeling that the real reason she didn't want to date him had very little to do with him, and his mind was resettling on the unsettling words about her and Sirius that Snape had spoken.

"Naturally," James chuckled. "Any day that Lily Evans finally agrees to a date with James Potter and then realizes that she's madly in love with him is a very good day indeed, don't you think?"

He grinned as Lily's laughter filled the hallway. He was so caught up in keeping that dazzling smile of hers on her face that it took him a minute to notice not only was she not smiling anymore, but she wasn't looking at him anymore either.

"Lils?" James asked, looking at her curiously before following her emerald eyes to look in front of him. He paled instantly, his hazel eyes meeting a tall, hooded creature that was escorting none other than Lucius Malfoy into the school.

"Mudblood and Potter," Malfoy smirked, just as the creature next to him inhaled deeply. It was cold first, like all the warmth had been drained from the world, before James was instantly flung into a time different from where he was.

"You guys..." Remus said his voice breaking as he approached the three animals in front of him for the first time. "This could be really dangerous though..."

A bark from Sirius' dog form shut Remus up enough. James could tell Remus wanted to say something else, but when he opened his mouth his smile instantly turned sour, and nothing but a moan escaped. A light beam of moonlight was shining down through the cracks in the ceiling.

Remus clutched his stomach and hunched over, his eyes shutting painfully. A low growl emitted, and Remus was trembling horrifically, James felt as though he were going to be sick as he watched Remus fall to the ground and begin violently kicking about, screeches emitting from his mouth.

"GET AWAY!" he cried, though his voice was naught but a low, animalistic growl.

He opened his eyes and James heard his own hooves clunk against the ground from where he'd jumped back in fear. Remus' warm amber eyes had been replaced with icy golden orbs of a wolf. He snarled at his three animal friends and lashed out at Sirius', partly with pain, partly with hunger. His teeth were elongating and he pulled his hand back to scratch at his own face. James felt nauseated again, Remus did not have hands anymore, but huge paws with daggers on the end that drew blood from Remus' face as he scratched at it.

But Remus' claws were only the beginning, his face elongated into a snout, which turned on itself as well as it bit into Remus', as of yet, human leg. The werewolf head recoiled with pain and howled pitifully in response. James, so focused on Remus' face, was surprised when he saw that Remus' torso had transformed, and even his legs were transforming...all looking extremely painful.


James could still feel the fear and pity he felt the first time he'd seen Remus transform, the transformation back to human had been even worse. James remembered Sirius' Padfoot form whimpering helplessly when their friend had lain unconscious, and brutally torn apart by his own wolfish self, at the appearance of the sun. It had been a painful sight.

His head was swimming as the creature stopped breathing, he noticed that Lily was standing next to him, her eyes were wide with terror and her face was pale, bringing her freckles out more prominently. He was kneeling on the ground and looked back up to Malfoy and the creature before it breathed again, and James felt the cold world of fear surround him again.

There was no pounding on the door, no screaming of pain, not even a light knock. But James knew he was there, he knew something was wrong, and he ran down three flights of stairs, flung the door open and felt his face pale at the sight in front of him. A tall teenager with a much stronger build than James stood in the doorway. His normally elegant hair was unkempt and dirty; his handsome face was nearly unrecognizable from the cuts and bruises on them, many of which were still openly bleeding. He was leaning heavily on his left leg, and his right arm was hanging uselessly by his side. His left arm, though fairing only slightly better than his right, held a suitcase and a wand.

"James," Sirius croaked, a bittersweet smile was on his face. "I've escaped, and..."

But Sirius' battered form collapsed, and James caught him before anymore damage could be done.

"DAD!"


Vision blurry, James could feel someone holding on to his arm, saying something to try to get him back into his right mind, but he couldn't, he heard that...beast…take yet another of its rattling breaths. He could hear Lily screams again in Hogsmeade, the day his grandfather died, countless memories of trying to heal Sirius' multitude of wounds that he always got when seeing his family.

"He's not going to make it, I just know he won't," Peter said unhappily, squirming in the uncomfortable hospital chair as though it were on fire.

"DON'T SAY THAT!" James roared, his eyes flashing at Peter, though the same fear had been repeating itself again and again through his mind. What if Sirius didn't make it? How could James survive without his best friend? His brother? James couldn't force himself to think such horrible things because he could not imagine his life without Sirius' boyish laughter, his immature jokes, his crazy love for all things female...

"He can't die," James said, weaker this time. Peter and Remus looking at him with empathy, both wore faces ridden with worry. "He just can't."

A nurse came into the room, looking very solemn. She had curly blonde hair and big brown eyes, and her nose was rather large for her face.

"I'm afraid Mr. Black's had a turn for the worse," she frowned. James could feel his heart freeze. "His father has just arrived and had a visit with him..."

"What? His father made him like that in the first place! I can't believe..."

"Mr. Potter," the nurse interrupted James. "It is not that simple, I'm afraid. Your friend is still at the whim of his father, and while I, nor my staff, doubt the truth in Orion Black's vicious ways, the law still states that because the young Mr. Black is a minor and under the custody of his father, his father is still in control."

James slumped back in disbelief, they were just going to give Sirius back? He really would die if Orion Black got a hold of him again, if not by his father's hand, then by his own.


For a precious few moments, James was back in the world of joy, he felt his limbs tingle and he could tell that he had fallen on the ground, but there was still a shivering hand on his arm. He opened his eyes just in time to see the creature take in one more breath.

"Dad?" James called through the house cautiously. Sirius was out shopping with James' mum, who had decided it would do Sirius good to get out and see the Wizarding World without fear of 'slipping up' with his 'traitorous' ways. James agreed, and allowed Sirius to shop with his mother without teasing. "Pop? Where are you?"

James' father, on the other hand, was supposed to be at home. It wasn't unheard of for Mr. Potter to stay at work late, but James was looking for him none the less. James had a new idea for potentially snagging Lily onto his team, and, as always, he was going to his father for advice.

"Dad?" James peaked into his father's office, and at first saw nothing, his hazel eyes, however caught a glimpse of what was once jet black hair, but now was grey with a few dark streaks. "DAD!"

He was at his father's side in seconds. Mr. Potter was still breathing, however shallowly.

"Your mother," Mr. Potter wheezed softly to James. "Get your mother, now James."

Fearful he was about to lose his father, just after he'd been so close to losing his mother, James jumped up and hurried away from his father, to contact Sirius via their mirrors. He couldn't lose his father, Sirius couldn't lose Mr. Potter, James' mother couldn't lose her husband, and most of all...well James couldn't lose his father.

"SIRIUS! Tell mum to get here NOW!" James yelled into the mirror, tears pouring from his face. "DAD IS DYING!"


"James! James please!" it was Lily's warm voice, though it was shaky and terrified. "Come on James, you'll be alright, I swear, it's gone now, Dumbledore came and took them away, come on. Yes open your eyes and I'll get you to the Wing."

James opened his hazel eyes, and despite having heard her voice, he never felt such a powerful rush of emotion when it was Lily's emerald orbs that he first saw. He felt warmth returning to his shaking limbs and it wasn't until he noticed that she had him lying across her lap that James even knew he was on the ground.

But that wasn't important to him, what was important was that Lily Evans, the girl who couldn't stand him, was sitting by his side, carefully analyzing whether or not he was alright. He smiled at Lily weakly, and he still felt as though he were going to be sick, so he spared attempting to speak to her...to voice to her just how beautiful she truly was.

"Can you stand?"

It took a lot of effort, but James managed to shake his head no, and Lily nodded in response. He saw her smile and flick her wand, and he may have been on a stretcher. However, the next thing he saw was nothing but darkness.

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