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Chapter Ten: The NEWTs had been a nightmare, worse than anything Lily could have imagined before. Still, they had been a necessary evil because they all had to have jobs or at least the appearance of them, Dumbledore had warned the Order. The less conspicuous they were, the safer they might be. Then just three weeks after graduation she was going to marry James. It was impossible to think of this event without smiling. “So, you’re to be married soon.” Professor Harrington, the ancient, retiring Potions mistress had said to Lily when she’d encountered her in the hall. “Congratulations.” “Thank you Professor.” Lily said dutifully. “Stop by my offices later today please, I have a gift I’d like to give you.” Harrington was not known to be warm to her students so Lily was surprised. “Thank you, Professor Harrington, that’s very kind of you.” Lily managed to say through her shock. When she’d stopped by the old witch’s office there had been three potion bottles sitting on the desk. They were particularly handsome bottles and each was filled with a different color liquid. One was azure blue, another a murky green and the last was the color of pearls. “This really is so kind of you, Professor.” Lily tucked her beautiful hair behind her ears. Lily had already accepted a post at the Ministry of Magic, in the development of experimental potions. The job was just a cover her real work lay elsewhere. “Not at all, Evans.” Harrington said stiffly. She knew what her students thought of her, and her mind revisited a time when she too was young and the most popular teacher at the school. She smiled at the memory. She could only hope that Lily Evans would live long enough to grow old and remember fondly her youth. She held up the azure bottle. “This is a potion that will heal any wound sustained in dueling.” She replaced the bottle on the desk. She picked up the murky green bottle, “This is a fertility potion, if you are ever having trouble becoming with child, this will aid you.” The old witch felt slightly uncomfortable discussing that subject. She held up the pearly solution and said, “This potion will cures headaches. If you notice, I’ve made it a bit larger than the rest, you’re getting married dear, you’ll doubtless have many headaches.” The old witch smiled and waved away Lily’s thanks. “Professor, I feel a bit awkward accepting these.” Lily said honestly. “Why would that be Evans? Because you couldn’t stand my class?” The wizened old witch leaned closer to her, “I’ll tell you a secret dear, there were times I could barely stand teaching it.” To Lily’s surprise the old woman winked at her. ::::::::::: Later in her dorm room Lily took stock of the place. She was nearly packed although there was still a week to go at school. After that, she would be leaving for the Potter’s home, where she would stay until her wedding. James had already found a house that absolutely delighted her, in a place called Godric’s Hollow. “Where’s Megan?” Lily anxiously asked Alice Moore. Alice had joined the Order just two weeks ago along with her sweetheart, Timothy Ferngrow. Whenever a new member joined and they had all shaken hands, Lily had taken to watching Megan. As she had turned away from her handshake with Timothy, Lily noticed that her smile was horribly strained and she had excused herself from the room. Lily followed. She found Megan in Myrtle’s bathroom, running cool water on her hand and fighting tears. “What is it Meg? Why won’t you ever talk about what it is that you see?” Lily asked her friend. “I can’t Lily, everything’s changed. I can’t tell people what I see any longer because if I do, it might change something that needs to happen. I don’t know what things are meant to happen for the good, and what are for the bad. I can’t talk about it.” Megan was still running her hand under the cool water. Dumbledore had been very specific, she was not to discuss anything that flashed through her mind but sometimes Megan desperately needed a confidant and Lily was incredibly trustworthy. Sometimes though, it was better not to tell her anything. She saw in her mind the bright flash of flame and remembered what Ferngrow had felt beyond the pain, he had been relieved. He would die without revealing anything. “Did it burn?” Lily asked and Megan had smiled at her as if her heart were completely light. “Don’t be silly, how could a handshake burn?” But Lily knew her friend was lying, she knew that something in Timothy’s touch had physically hurt her. Lily gobbled up every piece of news the Daily Prophet had to offer and the news was becoming increasingly grim. An entire family had been wiped out in London, their home had been nothing but a masses of ashes with the mark of the DeathEaters in the air above it. What was strange though was that they were not a mixed family, they were purebloods. However, the Crafts had been very vocal in denouncing the DeathEaters. It was all escalating now and no one was safe. The meetings for the Order had necessarily increased. Lily was dragged back to the present once more when Alice continued to speak. “I don’t know where Megan is at the moment.” Alice said and smiled broadly at Lily. “Timothy and I both got jobs at Gringotts! We’ll be able to work together.” “That’s lovely, Alice.” Lily understood more than Megan gave her credit for, in that moment, she understood how hard it would be to know what Megan did and be bound not to tell anyone. She very much suspected that Megan had felt Timothy burning alive and Lily shuddered at the thought. Amelia came striding into the room and collapsed on her bed. “There is one thing that is absolutely marvelous about leaving Hogwarts and that one thing is I will never have to take another ruddy test again!” Lily smiled, and Amelia marveled at her for a moment. Lily Evans was growing more beautiful by the day. She’d always been pretty but now she was gorgeous, as if she had left her girlhood entirely behind and grown into her adult beauty. They all felt older now, Amelia supposed. Would any of them ever be carefree again? “Have you seen Megan?” Lily asked Amelia in a worried voice. “No, I haven’t Lily and I’m saying this for your own good, you’ve got to quit mothering her.” Amelia loved Lily dearly and she could now say the same about Megan but there was no purpose being served by Lily’s constant fretting. “I’m not mothering her.” Lily said defensively. “I needed to ask her about some material for my dress!” “Oh, I’m sorry Lily, I just assumed…” Amelia looked guilt-stricken. Lily tried to make her voice light when she asked, “Well, have you seen Sirius? He barely lets the girl out of his sight.” “Lily! You are checking up on her!” Amelia shot up on the bed. “Listen, we’ve talked about this before, no matter what’s happened in the past Megan and Sirius need each other. We can’t worry ourselves sick every time they disappear together.” “No, of course not.” Lily answered but she still worried. Weeks ago she had found Megan staring out a window a small smile on her face. “What are you thinking about Meg?” Lily asked affectionately. “Sirius.” Megan had answered quietly. “Megan, you two aren’t…” Lily had begun. “Ask me no questions, and I’ll tell you no lies.” Megan had answered in a teasing tone. “Megan!” Lily was alarmed. “I don’t understand. Sirius wants to marry you, he’s said so over and over again. Why can’t you marry him?” “I just can’t.” Megan began and looked pained. “But don’t you worry about us. Hand to higher powers Lily, I’m dead careful now. I swear to you, please quit worrying.” Lily tried but it was hard not to worry about Megan. Her heart was so good. She moved to hug her friend and was surprised when Megan allowed the embrace. “Now, don’t go trying that too often. I’m becoming less affectionate in my old age.” She’d grinned mischievously and ignored the pain that she felt as the light flashed in her mind yet again. ::::::::: “This isn’t right Megan.” Sirius said as they collected their clothing. “Yes it is, it’s more right than a big lug like you can understand.” She kissed him gently. “We could get married now…” Sirius began again hopefully. “Not this again.” Megan said, rolling her eyes. “Who in the world would have ever thought that Sirius Black would have qualms about having relations outside the bonds of marriage?” Her smile twinkled at him. “It isn’t that exactly, Megan. To be absolutely honest, I’d never considered my feelings on the subject before I met you.” “I’ve made you a changed man, have I?” Megan was teasing. “More than you’ll ever know.” Sirius held her hand. “I’ve told you before, I’ll tell you again. I will marry you after he’s defeated.” Megan’s tone was intentionally airy. “Do you promise?” Sirius asked. This was all beyond confusing to him. She was a lovely woman, she adored him and he adored her. Why was it so important to him that she wait to marry him? “It’s a matter of time.” Megan’s tone was different it wasn’t joking. “What?” Sirius asked quickly and he knew he did not imagine the look of panic on her face. “A matter of time until we win, of course.” She put her arms around his neck and kissed him properly. “Oh, good.” Megan thanked her lucky stars that she thought quickly on her feet. When had she started picking up on Sirius’s thoughts like this? She thought it had been after the hospital, before she’d talked him into resuming their physical relationship. They’d been arguing about it, Sirius seemingly believing that he could somehow force her to marry him by holding out. It might have been amusing because there was a definite role reversal in genders, wasn’t it the boy who was supposed to push the girl? She had distinctly heard, “Why is it so important to you?” She’d answered honestly, “It’s the only time I don’t feel like I’m drowning in pain and fear.” It was only when he had looked at her in surprise and asked why she would say such a thing. Her ability to see was growing still. Would it ever stop? Would she just be driven mad someday? She’d gotten Dumbledore’s permission to take Sirius with her to the secret room one day and she explained to him what she was and what she could do to an extent and how it had become so powerful that sometimes it was terrifying. “Why can you touch me then?” Sirius had asked. “Who knows lover boy, maybe it’s because you are filled with such good things.” She smiled. “We’ll have to be very careful.” Sirius said, relenting at last. “Very.” She agreed. Although she knew that in Sirius’s heart, he actually wished for something different. Something more but Megan had been unable to tell him that a lifetime together was impossible. :::::::::: The practice dueling sessions were so important. Although they’d left school two days ago, nearly all of the group had assembled at the boyhood home of James Potter. The Marauders were experienced with hexes and light dueling, but now they were practicing something far more serious, the spells they were learning could easily be the difference between life and death. They became familiar with the unforgivable curses, the Imperius curse, Crucio, there were several others but the worst of them by far was Adava Kedavra because it meant instant death. James was sparring with Sirius, Meg with Lily and Amelia with Remus. There were many other members of the Order on hand including a young couple with the last name of Longbottom. They were both Aurors and evidently rather famous. Since poor Remus couldn’t even pretend to aim a curse like Petrificus Totalus at Amelia, she was having the easiest time with her Impedimente and Protego counterspells. Lily was astonished by what a good dueler Megan was. She’d yet to be able to get a curse by her, she couldn't even disarm her. For her part, Megan always aimed her spells to the left or right of Lily because she was terrified of hitting her. “What we need is an invisibility spell,” Megan said thoughtfully, “I really think that’s your best chance.” Lily was lying panting on the grass, exhausted by her efforts, “How in the world did you become such a master at dueling?” “Outstanding in Dark Arts, remember?” Megan said and grinned. “No, I’ve just always had a flair for it.” Sirius and James were having a grand old time of it, blue and red curses flue back and forth. “You’re never going to get me Prongs!” Sirius shouted triumphantly just as James stunned him. “Sorry Padfoot.” James called in a laughing voice. It was so good to hear them laugh and to call each other by their nicknames. Lily couldn’t remember the last time either had seemed so lighthearted. They had played out the Quidditch season and even managed to win the trophy for the Gryffindor house yet somehow, none of it seemed to matter as it might have at one time. “Well, at least we’ll never have to worry about either of them.” Lily giggled. Just then, the Longbottoms walked up and introduced themselves to the girls. They were both pleasant, round faced people and it was hard to imagine that they had dedicated their lives to ferreting out the Dark Arts and defeating them. “It’s lovely to meet you, Albus speaks quite highly of both of you.” Alice Longbottom introduced herself, and then her husband. Lily shook hands politely but Megan faked a sneeze when Mrs. Longbottom extended her hand. “Oh, pardon me.” Megan said smoothly. “It’s quite all right dear,” And to Lily’s horror she reached out her hand out to Megan once more. They knew, she thought sadly. They all had roles to play in this, Amelia, Remus, Sirius and James were being trained for combat, it was obvious. Lily herself worked on potions that would provide them with extra protection when out in the field. Ways to make them harder to defeat or break. Potions that could force traitors to speak the truth and that might bring any captured Death Eaters under their control. To her enormous shock, Lily had found herself working side by side with Professor March on more than one occasion. There was no telling who was good or evil in this fight, at least not for Lily. Poor Megan did have a terrible burden to bear. To date, seven people who had wanted to join the Order had been inexplicably turned away after their initial meeting with Dumbledore. The Death Eaters were trying to find a way in. There was nothing for it, Megan shook hands with Mrs. Longbottom and Mr. Longbottom in turn. Lily watched as Megan’s faced became strained and finally begin to twitch as she took the slightly older man’s hand. “It’s lovely to meet you, both.” Megan managed to gasp out but her voice sounded nothing like her own. “You too dear.” And thankfully, they left. “Megan, are you all right?” Lily asked. “I can’t see Lily, will you help me please?” Megan was sweating profusely now and shaking. “Would you like me to get Siri…” Lily began, knowing how Megan disliked being touched now by anyone but him. “No, we’ve got to hurry Lily, get me to the woods. I’m going to be sick.” Megan sounded desperate and she had gone a funny shade of green. Half supporting, half dragging her friend Lily made way to the tree line. She heard James shout, “Oh look, Lily’s finally stunned Megan! Do you need a hand Lily?” “No thank you, we’re fine!” Lily called in a bright, cheerful voice. She got Megan into the woods and out of sight just in time. Lily watched as her dark haired friend lay on her side, unable to stand, vomiting. When she was finally done Lily couldn’t stop herself from asking, “Are they evil, or are they going to die?” Megan began to cry helplessly, but after a few minutes she raised her face and looked at her friend, “They are most certainly not evil. They may be two of the best people I’ve ever met, certainly the bravest.” She began to cry again miserably. “They are going to die then?” Lily felt miserable too. “No. They’ll live.” Megan said sadly.

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