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Chapter Seven: It was after the Yule Ball now and they were all relaxing together in the common room. Amelia, Megan, Remus, James and Peter were all leaving in the morning but James had promised to return as soon as he had told his family about Lily. Lily had merely written to her parents and although they expressed concern, they had given their consent. Lily loved her parents but nothing could make her face a Christmas with Petunia again. “I’ll miss you.” James whispered into her hair, watching the firelight flicker. “I’ll miss you too, more than you can know.” Lily answered, her face pressed to his chest. “Would you two like to be alone?” Sirius asked dryly. “There’s a marvelous idea altogether.” Megan proposed. “Let’s all figure out where we can go to get away from lovers over here.” Her tone was joking but Lily knew her intent was to give them some time together. James opened his mouth to say that he and Lily would leave when Sirius leaped to his feet. “Come with me fair lady, let me show you a certain room in the castle.” His smile was infectious. “Right. A room. Marvelous, we’re off to get a room evidently.” Megan said but she rose and took his hand. “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.” James called after Sirius rather earnestly. “Never fret James, never fret.” Sirius was guiding Megan out through the portrait hole, his hand on the small of her back. He winked at his friends. “What say you and I take a walk together?” Remus seemed nervous but Amelia leapt to her feet readily. She was only an inch shorter than he was. “Right then, we’re off to explore.” She confidently put her hand into Lupin’s and they too disappeared through the portrait hole. Peter had left his date at her house, Ravenclaw. “I’m off to bed. Try not to maul each other too extensively.” There was something funny about Peter sometimes, Lily thought. It was as if he tried too hard to be friendly. Maybe she made him nervous, she thought. As Peter reached the tower room, he flopped down onto his bed in confusion. For so long he had been friends with the Marauders, certainly they were making some bad choices, but that didn’t mean… Did he know them at all? He wondered. They certainly didn’t know him if they were unaware that they were making disgusting spectacles out of themselves. Certainly the Strong girl was from a decent family, but she knew about Remus and had decided she wanted to go out with him anyway. Peter transformed into a rat and crept back down the stairs to watch. On the couch Lily and James were kissing each other deeply. They would pause occasionally and look into each other’s eyes. It looked as if James was having a hard time keeping his hands off of Lily and the sounds they were making were frankly shocking to Peter. He scurried back up the stairs, transformed again and sat on his bed. Surely there had to be someone somewhere who understood how he felt? James Potter had been like a hero to him and now, now he was pawing at that disgusting Muggle girl as if she held the secret to life itself. Perhaps over the Christmas break he would send an owl to someone who might understand. Someone from a good wizarding family but he’d have to choose carefully. Certainly not that Snape, or Montague. It had to be someone unconnected with the school any longer. Or perhaps not. All Peter really knew was that he was horribly confused and nothing made sense to him any longer. That and he very much suspected that he now hated the friends he had once worshipped. Back down on the couch James was whispering to Lily again, after all there might be some of the younger kids still hanging around here somewhere. “I think we need to break this off for a bit. Want to dance with me?” It was their code. When either of them felt they were pushing too close to their limit, they suggested a break of some sort. Lily smiled and happily agreed. James Potter stood, pulled her into his arms, tucked her head beneath his chin and swayed with her to the nonexistent music. ::::::::: “Interesting room you have here, Sirius. Decorate it yourself?” Megan was looking at the scattered pillows on the floor, the crate of butterbeer. “Listen, if you think you’re going to get lucky, I’m sad to inform that…” “Don’t be a fool.” Sirius said quietly and handed her a butterbeer. “As lovely as you are, I’m not going to pry any clothing from your body.” “Is that so?” Megan was smiling but couldn’t decide whether to be slightly offended or not. “Yes, that’s so. I like you a lot Megan, in fact, I’m mad about you but…” Sirius paused and frowned. “It may sound stupid to you but until we know we’re in love, I think that having sex is a bad idea.” “Aren’t you just the silver tongued devil?” Megan teased but she was oddly touched. He was honest, he was straight forward, no wonder they liked each other. “Besides you’d box my ears or turn me into a newt if I tried anything.” He grinned. “Actually you’d probably box my ears and then turn me into a newt.” “Quite right I would.” She laughed. “Sirius?” “Hmm?” “I’m mad about you too.” “Oh now, and why wouldn’t you be? Fine figure of a man such as myself?” He said gently aping her accent. “You may not mock the Irish in my presence!” Megan said and hit him with a pillow. He set his butterbeer down and hit her very gently with a pillow also. Before they knew what was happening it was all out war. They collapsed onto the floor laughing together. “You know, a little passionate kissing never really got anyone in trouble.” Sirius said lightly and kissed her. “It certainly has not. There are huge families throughout Ireland who can attest to that very fact.” She laughed and kissed him back. It all became much more intense than they had intended it to be, ten minutes later Sirius pulled back and sat up. His hair was mussed and his lips swollen. “Okay, so we can only handle some passionate kissing.” He said breathlessly. His body ached oddly. “Right.” Meg was equally in disarray. “So, what should we talk about? I’m open to anything.” “Sex?” Sirius said, not seeming to be able to get his mind back on track. “We covered that topic. Pick another one.” Megan said liltingly. “Okay, here’s one. How did you hold Remus’s hand and know he was a werewolf?” Sirius was staring at her now. “Lord above, maybe we should talk about sex, or kiss some more!” Megan laughed. There was only so much she could tell him for the time being. “Do not force me to tickle information from you, I’m willing to do it.” Sirius moved in towards her. “What you fail to realize is that I’m actually quite ruthless.” “What you fail to realize is that I’m not ticklish!” Megan squealed as Sirius descended upon her. Once again, in a flash they were panting, pulling at each other’s robes, their lips locked together. Megan broke away desperately. “Did Lily and James put a desire charm on this room?” Megan laughed. “Damned if I know. Let’s get out of here while I still have my virtue in tact.” Sirius said but could barely muster up a grin. He hauled Megan to her feet and found that he was trembling, what further disconcerted him was that she was too. “Good plan, Black.” Megan said and headed for the door but Sirius caught her hand. “You will tell me someday, won’t you?” Sirius looked so handsome that Megan was afraid that if they didn’t leave now, she’d tell him anything he ever wanted to know. “I swear to you, I’ll tell you everything someday.” They left the room together. :::::::: Remus Lupin was having something less of an action filled time of it. He’d never done this before, not really. He walked with his hands clasped behind his back, as if afraid to touch Amelia. He’d released her hand as soon as they had reached the hallway. “Give me your hand, Moony.” Amelia said confidently and Remus grinned and put his hand in hers. “Oh look at that, you managed to hold my hand without transforming into a werebeast!” She was teasing him, trying to get him to loosen up. “That only happens at the full moon, Amelia.” Remus said seriously. “I know that. I was just making sure that you know that.” With that she paused and did something she never thought she would do in her life, she pulled Remus Lupin towards her and kissed him gently on the lips. “Oh, another discovery! You can kiss me and…” But she never got to finish the sentence, Remus pulled her back close and kissed her so thoroughly she thought her knees would stop supporting her. “Ahem.” A male voice nearby. To their absolute shock and horror, Ablus Dumbledore stood before them, looking over his half moon spectacles. The two students broke apart quickly and practically stood on opposite sides of the hall. “Headmaster,” Remus began miserably. “I don’t know how to explain…” “I was just thinking to myself that the stars are particularly bright tonight and that if one had such an inclination, it is said that being kissed under the stars in garden is a pleasure without equal in this world.” They both gawked at the headmaster. “If one were to have such an interest. Good evening. Happy Christmas.” Albus Dumbledore continued down the hall, thinking to himself that these poor young people should find every happiness that they could. While there was still time. “Oh that was the most embarrassing thing ….” Amelia was stopped short when Remus grabbed her hand and began dragging her down the stairs. “Where are we going?” “To the garden, of course.” Remus said. “I may be a bit of a rebel when it comes to school rules, but even I wouldn’t disobey an direct order from the headmaster.” Amelia laughed and followed him. :::::::::: Severus Snape returned from the Christmas break with brand on his arm and many questions in his mind. DeathEaters, they called themselves and now Severus knew exactly why. That night in the forest, chasing after that man all of them in hoods and robes. What had been his name? Finneaus Smartholder according to the Daily Prophet, founded maimed and murdered two days after Christmas. All Severus could remember were his pleas for mercy and the blood running from his ears. How the woman with the high, shrill voice had laughed as she had cursed him again, and again, “Crucio.” And Finneaus had twisted in pain, screaming. The men and women around him in robes had laughed, hell he had laughed himself although it was all he could do to keep from vomiting in his hood. He thanked the stars over and over again that he had mastered Occulmency and developed a potion to eradicate all traces of his true emotions. When he had met the Dark Lord, he had shown no fear because he had rendered himself incapable of truly feeling it, at least at the time. He had bowed, he had said all the right things but he had not scraped around like nearly all the other followers. To his horror, this made Voldemort like him more. “You show no fear of me, young Snape.” His eyes were cold and his voice like daggers. “It is not wise to displease me.” “My lord, I live to please you. I wish only to serve but fear will not serve you, at least not fear from your followers. Respect and the awe you deserve my lord.” And then he had smiled that cold, horrible smile that he’d developed in the mirror. If the potion had failed him, he would have been dead in an instant but it had worked and Severus had been honing it for over a year to make sure it could not be detected by anyone. There was one way, if someone were to drink his blood they might taste some of the ingredients, but that was the only way. Then there had been the matter of dueling to prove his worth. He’d taken down three grown men and the Dark Lord had laughed. “You will be a fine DeathEater, young Snape.” “I live to serve you, master.” Snape had said and then he had been branded along with three other masked young people, he knew one of them was Montague and the other was a youth of about 23. Severus thought he recognized him from Hogwarts, the proud, drawling voice. He had graduated just as Snape had finished his first year a man named Lucius Malfoy. The brand burned incessantly and glowed dark against his pale skin. After they had killed the Muggle-born there had been an incident, a muggle child of about ten or so had wandered into the woods his house was evidently nearby. He’d heard the noise and come to see what had happened. “Kill him.” Said a man named Crabbe. “He matters not to the Dark Lord.” “Wait.” Severus had said, his voice deliberately cold. “Why not obliviate him instead?” “Why would you care for the life of a Muggle child?” Several of the DeathEaters began murmuring. “Care?” He had answered his voice proud and cold. “I care nothing for this worm but our master is not yet ready to conquer the Muggle world and Muggle deaths lead to Muggle attention. Let his time not be soiled with such foul worries.” They had let him spare the child. Later that night, back in his home he had listened as his father proudly told his mother what his son had done. He had aided in the killing of a Muggle-born. He had come to the special attention of the Dark Lord. Much later, he had heard his mother weeping secretly and wanted to slip out to comfort her but to do such a thing would be to risk all. As he walked down a staircase he heard a commotion above him and the sixth year Hogan had tumbled at his feet, she’d evidently tripped. He nearly reached out to help her to her feet but caught himself. Under no circumstances could he touch this girl, he had been warned. Who knew how quickly her powers were developing. “Nice to see you’re such a gentlemen, Snape.” Hogan said as she clambered to her feet. “I forgot about that damned trick step.” “What else could anyone expect from a filthy Mudblood like you?” He snarled and for a moment he thought he had gone too far, he thought the Hogan girl had been about to slap him. Instead she spat at him and said, “Well aren’t you just the nastiest piece of work on the premises, Snivelus? A good day to you too!” He reached the statue of the Phoenix and spoke the password quickly. The statue turned aside and Severus Snape walked the stairs up into the secret room. “What can you tell me Severus?” The room Severus knew had many protection spells on it. He related everything from his standing position. “How long will I have to do this, headmaster?” Severus asked. He had approached Dumbledore at the beginning of the year saying that he had to speak to him privately. The plan had formed from there. Dumbledore stared at the young man before him. “Possibly for the rest of your life Severus, are you prepared to do that?” A lifetime of never allowing himself to express his feelings, even acknowledge them? A Lifetime of loneliness and isolation? He would die inside. Perhaps he was already dead. “Whatever it takes to defeat him.” Severus answered slowly. Later at dinner in the great hall he had sat beside Montague and listened to him pour forth his hatred. When had he stopped feeling such hatred? He wasn’t even sure that he had. He truly wished that only pure wizards were allowed in the school. But he was no murderer although he knew that he might have to kill in order to keep this up. In truth, perhaps he did not hate as he had thought. It mattered little, their world had to be saved, no matter the cost. No one could ever know, Dumbledore had told him. Not until the Dark Lord was defeated and possibly not even after that. He would still have followers that might escape, it would probably never be safe. To never be known, not by a single soul. Severus thought about this and as he looked up, he saw Lily Evans, her new engagement ring flashing in the candlelight, a knife twisted in his stomach. A pureblood such as he could never have truly loved a Muggle-born anyway. Such things were impossible. Weren’t they? He looked at James Potter, who could not bear to be more than a few feet away from Evans. Potter was a pureblood. “Disgusting, isn’t it?” Montague spoke beside him. “Utterly vile.” Snape had responded. Lily laughed and the sound was like music. No, he was not dead yet, he realized. But he was dying inside.

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